The Battle of Uhud – Part 2

وَبَرَكَاتُهُ اللهِ وَرَحْمَةُ عَلَيْكُمْ السَّلاَمُ

After the prophet learnt that the army of the Quraish were nearby and he had consulted with some leaders of the Ansar, he finally called a general meeting. It just so happened that it was a Friday and the people were already gathered together for Jummah, and so he simply called the meeting right after salah.

And here he told the Muslims everything. Now before he asked for any of the sahaba’s ideas on the matter he first gave his own opinion: ‘I see myself in a protected fortress.’ This clearly meant Medina, and as we remember the city was protected on three sides by two lava rock plains in the East and West and dense date palm plantations in the South, and there was also the mountain range of Uhud in the North leaving only a very small area in which an army could attack. And had an army managed to enter the city it would have resulted in close quarters street fighting, in which the occupants of the city would have a much greater advantage as they knew the streets and could prepare blockades and ambushes. And so the prophet’s suggestion was to remain in Medina.

In fact, this suggestion was so good that amazingly even the leader of the hypocrites, Abdullah ibn Ubay ibn Salool, agreed. Not because he respected the prophet, however he was a seasoned warrior and so he knew that this was the most logical option, and he explained, ‘Medina has never been successfully attacked from within.’

However there was a group of younger companions – many of whom would end up becoming martyrs in the coming battle – who were eager for battle and regretted not participating in Badr. And so in their youthful zealousness they questioned, ‘Why should we remain in our houses like cowards? Rather we should go out like brave men and fight them on the battlefield.’ And like this they continued to pressure the prophet, all the while the senior sahaba were silent and so the prophet was given the impression that the majority wanted to meet the enemy outside of the city. And so he agreed to this and went inside to put on his armour.

Look once again at the status that the prophet put on the act of shura (consulting the people for their opinion), such that even though he was the undisputed leader of the city and the messenger of Allah, and despite the fact that he felt confident in staying in Medina he still listened to the suggestion of the sahaba. And this shows us a great wisdom about leadership and government, that you cannot just impose your will onto the people without having them supporting you. And Allah even makes a mention that this was the way the Muslims dealt with their problems.

As soon as the prophet left the room, the senior sahaba began to reproach the younger ones, saying, ‘The prophet told us his opinion at the beginning, and yet you persisted in suggesting the opposite until finally he agreed to your opinion. How could you have done this?’ And this shows the manners of the older sahaba, such that they did not even want to argue in the presence of the prophet despite agreeing with him. When the younger Muslims were reproached they became ashamed and changed their minds, and so they sent in Hamza (RA) after the prophet to tell him this.

But the prophet had already fastened his armour by the time that Hamza came into his presence, and when he was told that the people had changed their minds he replied, ‘It is not permitted, once a prophet has worn his armour, that he takes it off until he fights the enemy.’ So clearly the prophets had their own special set of laws, and the clear wisdom in Muhammad not being allowed to remove his armour was that this would seem as if the Muslims were backing down away from the enemy. And there are also many other examples of the prophet following a different sharia to the rest of the Muslims, most notably the exception that he had in that he could marry more than the normally permitted number of wives.

And so now the sahaba had to march out for battle. As you may know, this decision would end up being a disaster for the Muslims, however one of the most amazing and pertinent points that we can pick up from this incident that those who initially suggested the idea, no one came back to them and mocked them or tried to blame them for the events of Uhud. And this is because of the commandment in the Quran that once you engage in shura, once you thoroughly consider the options and make an educated decision then don’t look back. And our prophet told us, ‘None of you should say “if only I had done this, then this would have happened.” Rather, say “Whatever Allah has willed has occurred.” Because saying “what if” opens up the door to Shaitaan.’ And therefore, once you properly and carefully make up your mind about something, then commit to it and no one should blame anyone else after it. And this is one of the keystones in the Islamic philosophy of life, as the mentality of turning on one another after failure of a group endeavour is a widely propagated and toxic mentality nowadays. And so we should remember this lesson, in order to avoid this vice which is extremely easy to fall into.

Like in Badr, the prophet divided the army into three main groups. The Muhaajiroon were under Musab ibn Umair (RA), the Banu Aws were under Usayd ibn Hudayr (RA) and the Khazraj were under Al-Hubab ibn Al-Mundhir (RA). In total, the army was around 900 strong, however they only had a handful of horses and just 100 suits of armour as the situation was so dire. And in the late afternoon of Friday on the 14th of Shawwal they set out for the mountain range of Uhud.

But why Uhud? Since the Muslims were going to face the Quraish outside of the city of Medina, the prophet knew that he would have to choose a strategic location. Remember, the Muslims were outnumbered more than three to one, and so attacking in an open plain would not have been wise. Rather, the prophet chose a location which would maximise the effectiveness of the 900 or so Muslims by concentrating the enemy in a small opening, and Uhud did just that by enclosing the Muslims from three sides.

Now one major incident occurred amongst the Muslims on the way to Uhud, and that was the separation of the hypocrites. As the Muslims made their way to the battlefield, Abdullah ibn Ubay ibn Salool and his ilk began to secretly and silently slink behind the army. And at some point they simply turned their back and began marching all the way back to Medina. When this happened, the sahaba began to ask them what they were doing, to which Abdullah ibn Ubay complained, ‘He listened to some of our youth and left my advice. Why should we risk our lives fighting for him when he hasn’t listened to us?’ This was blatant treachery and dissention, and thus for the first time the hypocrites showed their true colours against the prophet.

Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Haraam (RA) – father of the famous Jabir ibn Abdullah (RA) – when he saw this, turned his horse around and rode up to Abdullah ibn Ubay and said, ‘I remind you to fear Allah and to not leave your prophet or the people at this time when the enemy is about to attack. Did you not promise him that you would protect him and defend him like you defend your own family?’

And here Abdullah ibn Ubay gave his famous excuse, ‘If we knew that they would fight, we would go with you. But we don’t think that they are going to attack.’ And Allah quotes this flimsy and treacherous excuse in the Quran, and calls Abdullah ibn Ubay a liar. And Allah then says that He will not allow the Muslims to remain as they were until He has separated the filth (i.e. the hypocrites) from the pure. And this was actually one of the main benefits of Uhud, that it showed to the Muslims the identities of the hypocrites and where they truely stood, when before they did not know.


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