The Battle of Uhud – Part 1

وَبَرَكَاتُهُ اللهِ وَرَحْمَةُ عَلَيْكُمْ السَّلاَمُ

Before we get onto the Battle of Uhud we must first discuss the Sareeyat Al-Qarada, as this expedition was one of the main reasons for the Battle of Uhud taking place.

A few months before Uhud, most likely in Rabi Al-Awwal of the third year of the Hijra (remember Badr took place in Ramadan of the second year, and so this was almost a year onwards), the Quraish once again decided that they needed to send their annual caravan to Syria. And this was the same caravan that the Muslims tried to attack the year before – the Rihlat As-Saif – which ended up leading to the events of Badr, however of course this time the Quraish realised that they needed to take another route than their usual one. And so Safwan ibn Umayyah – who had been put in charge of the caravan for this year – called a meeting and declared that they could not take the normal route along to the coast as most of the tribes there had already declared allegiance with the prophet and become Muslims.


Red is the original, coastal route. Blue is the new proposed route.

A quick side note before we continue: this statement by Safwan telling us that many of the tribes along the coast had become Muslim actually tells us a lot. This is one of the few narrations we have showing us that Islam was actually spreading outside of Medina, as most of the narrations of the Madani phase are just about the battles that took place.

Returning back to the meeting, one of the elders suggested that they instead take the Iraq passage, going further inland into Arabia and taking a much longer detour. They all agreed, although they had never taken this route before, and began preparing the caravan for the journey.

Now this plan was mean to be top secret, however the will of Allah was such that the prophet found out about this. One of the elders who took part in this meeting was drinking one day with Saleeth ibn Nu’maan (RA), who was a secret Muslim still living in Mecca (note that wine was not made haram at this time). And while this man was drinking with Saleeth, out of his drunkenness he boasted about the plan to him and told him what route the Quraish were going to take. When Saleeth found out this he immediately sent a message to Medina informing the prophet of what he had heard.

As it was, Allah willed that the entire caravan fall into the hands of the Muslims without any casualties or much fighting. And all of the camels, all of the other loot and it is said over 50000 dirhams came into the coffers of Islam, which was a massive economic boost. And remember, Allah promised the Muslims in Badr that they would meet one of the two – either the caravan or the army of the Quraish – and He promised them victory over whichever it was. They got the army that time, however Allah was even more merciful than this and in fact ended up giving them the caravan as well the next year, showing us the value of their patience. And this victory was also one of the key constituting reasons for Uhud in about three months, as the loss of all of this wealth made the Quraish extremely desperate as if they could not trade in the North then their entire economy would collapse.

However while the loss of the caravan was the immediate reason for the expedition of Uhud, the Quraish had actually been planning for it since directly after Badr. In addition, Uhud was the first all-out offensive against the Muslims themselves, whereas Badr had simply been a rushed expedition to defend the caravan of the Quraish. And so this time the mushrikoon were armed to the hilt. Immediately after Badr, when Abu Sufyan returned to Mecca and the news of what had happened reached him, he decided that there needed to be a counter-attack against the Muslims. And so he took with him Ikrimah ibn Abi Jahal and Safwan ibn Umayyah, and they went to the doors of everyone who had contributed to the caravan. And he told them that any profit that they had made, any money that they had contributed and had had returned to them, it was needed back. Remember the caravan had made it back safely, and so the wealth had been returned to the investors. But now Abu Sufyan was asking for the money back so that the Quraish could go on the offensive against the Muslims.

For this planned counter-attack, the Quraish decided that they needed help. And as the Quraish were the centre point for much business coming into Arabia, there were plenty of tribes interested and willing to keep this economic pipeline active. And of the tribes that the Quraish reached out to, the two largest were the Kinaanah and the Tihaamah. They contributed money, armour (and armour was one of the most expensive and valued items for the Arabs, as they were not able to make it themselves and so had to have it imported), and even men, and the final army came to around 3000 people with 700 armours between them and 200 horses. The bulk of these would have been Quraishi, however still we notice that the conflict was evolving now from being the Quraish versus the prophet, to being paganism against Islam. And this is a trend that would continue, and in every following conflict the armies would grow in size and the circle would widen. And also note that this would cause – for the first time in their history – the Arabs to unite, either for Islam or against it, until eventually Islam would win and the whole nation would come together as one.

On the 7th of Shawwal in the third year of the Hijra – so over a year after Badr – the army of the mushriks set out from Mecca. Now normally the journey to Medina would have taken about 2 weeks, but the army was so eager to fight that they actually managed to make this distance in 7 days. In fact their eagerness was such that many of the men actually decided to take their wives with them to witness their victory and encourage the men, as they would sing their poetry from the sidelines urging the men forward.

Returning back to Mecca, as soon as the army had departed Abbas (RA) sent a message to the prophet that an army was coming and of what it consisted of. It is important to clarify that Abbas was not publically known as a Muslim at this time, but it is likely that he was a secret convert and remained in Mecca to inform the prophet of any happenings. Nevertheless, he sent a trusted servant to Medina who rode as fast as was physically possible and got there in three days.

On the third day he arrived at Quba where the prophet was at the time, and he handed the letter to him. The prophet could not read, but Ubay ibn Ka’ab (RA) was also present and so the prophet handed the letter to him to read out loud. When he had heard the contents of Abbas’ message, he swore Ubay to secrecy before immediately rushing back to central Medina. Now this was an attack that was to happen to the city of Medina itself, and so the prophet gathered some leaders of the Ansar and told them about the army. However, before he called a general meeting he sent out some scouts to confirm Abbas’ information, just in case Abbas had been tricked or had incomplete knowledge. And they returned soon and told the prophet that essentially the army of the Quraish were no more than a few days away. On hearing this, the prophet realised that action had to be taken and so he called a large meeting.

Now, at this point in Ibn Ishaaq’s version of events, the prophet told the Muslims about a dream that he had just recently seen. However the more likely and authentic version – in Sahih Bukhari – is that in fact this was a dream that he had seen all the way back when he was in Mecca but he had not understood it, and it was only after the battle that he could interpret it and then told the Muslims. Nevertheless, what was this dream?

The prophet narrates, ‘I saw in a dream that I had struck with my sword, but my sword broke. And this is what afflicted the Muslims at Uhud. Then I hit it again, and it came back as good as it ever was. And this was the victory that Allah gave to the Muslims and the coming together of the believers.’ As we’ll discover, Uhud separated the Muslims due to the departure of the hypocrites. ‘And I saw cows, indeed Allah is good, and this was the believers on the day of Uhud.’ There are a few interpretations to what the cows symbolise, one of which is that it is referencing the martyrs of Uhud because a cow is an animal that is useful alive and dead; alive it produces milk; dead it produces meat. And so alive, the shaheed would fight in the name of Allah. But when they would be killed, Allah rewarded them immensely and put them in a greater place, and they became role models and symbols for the future generations of Muslims.



Dr.Yasir Qadhi’s Seerah of The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) 044

Dr.Yasir Qadhi’s Seerah of The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) 046