The Battle of Uhud – Part 4
وَبَرَكَاتُهُ اللهِ وَرَحْمَةُ عَلَيْكُمْ السَّلاَمُ
As with all battles between the Arabs, Uhud began with a mubaraza (dual). And this time it was between Talha ibn Abi Talha from the army of the mushriks, and from the Muslim army Ali (RA) stepped out to face him. As soon as Ali came into range of him, Talha swung his sword to finish the dual there and then; however Ali was faster. Now Talha was wearing full body armour, covering everything above the knees while Ali had no armour. And so in one fluid motion Ali raised his shield to block the oncoming blade whilst simultaneously cutting downwards with his own sword at Talha’s legs below the thighs – the only place that was not covered with armour. And he struck with such force that the leg was cut clean off, and Talha collapsed in such a way that his garment actually flew up and his dignity was revealed. And he actually began to beg Ali to spare his life, and on seeing Talha on the floor, humiliated and undignified, Ali felt too ashamed to finish him off. And so he simply left him there – although Talha would later die in the battle anyway – and returned to the Muslim army.
Soon after this, the initial assault began. Now the problem with this section is that we have barely any details at all, and we are left with a big gap of knowledge punctuated with only a few individual incidents. All that we know is that after the mubaraza the Muslims charged with such deadly ferocity that – despite all of their advantages – the mushrikoon were pushed all the way back. And they were forced so far back that even their women – who would have been standing at the very end – were forced to flee. And another fact that shows how devastating that this initial part of the battle was of what happened to flag of the Quraish. It was custom for the Quraish that the Banu Abd Ad-Daar – from which Talha ibn Abi Talha was from – would always be the sub-tribe to hold the flag. And they had also had this flag at Badr, however what had happened then was that when the tide of the battle had turned the flag bearer had been one of the first to run. And so before Uhud, Abu Sufyan came to the Banu Abd Ad-Daar and began to mock them in an attempt to make them more incendiary so that they would not run this time. And he blamed the entirety of Badr on them, and told them that if they could not handle having the flag then they should give it back to him. Of course, this made them furious and they declared an oath, ‘As long as one of us remains the flag will forever be high up.’
And in fairness they lived up to this oath, and as long as one them was alive the flag was held. However the Muslim charge was so devastating that one by one, all ten of the Banu Abd Ad-Daar were eventually killed and the flag finally fell. Of course it should be noted the flag bearer of both armies was always targeted, and so the chances of them dying was higher and most of the Banu Abd Ad-Daar were actually killed by Hamza (RA). And when the flag fell it was a symbolic loss for the mushrikoon, but this would also later lead to the complacency of the Muslims in assuming their victory, which would lead to the catastrophic events of the second half of Uhud.
One final incident to mention of this initial period was that of Abu Dujana (RA). We previously mentioned that he was a warrior with a fearsome reputation, and he had a special red turban of his called the ‘Turban of Death’ and was given the prophet’s sword to fight with it until it was no longer serviceable. And Zubair ibn Al-Awwam (RA) narrates, ‘When the prophet offered his sword, and I said “I want it” and he didn’t give it to me, I felt something in my heart. After all, he is my cousin and who is this man? So I decided to follow him. Abu Dujana did not meet a single person except that he managed to get rid of him with that sword. There was one person of the Quraish causing much havoc amongst the Muslims, so I made a du’a to Allah: “O Allah, let Abu Dujana meet him.” And Abu Dujana indeed got rid of him. They met, they stood face to face and the Quraishi gave the first blow. Abu Dujana simply brushed it off and with his sword immediately struck him and got rid of him.’
Alongside Abu Dujana, the two other Muslims who fought with the most deadliness were Hamza and Ali. And these three killed the greatest number of the enemy, and as we already mentioned they actually wiped out the entire tribe Banu Abd Ad-Daar. However despite their ferocity and the initial loss of the mushrikoon, there was also one very tragic death from the three of them that took place in this period. And this was the death of Hamza, a death which would forever bestow upon him the title Sayyid Ash-Shuhada (Leader of the Martyrs).
As we know, Hamza ibn Abdul Muttalib was one of the uncles of the prophet and he was incredibly close to him. And he had defended Muhammad ﷺ back in Mecca, and in fact it was for that reason that he converted in the first place, before imaan actually entered his heart. And he was a ferocious warrior with a great reputation, so much so that the prophet had given him the title Asadallah (Lion of Allah). No one could beat him in direct combat, and so when he was killed it had to have been by a sneak attack.
The person who killed Hamza was a man named Wahshi, who was the slave of Jubayr – the son of Mut’im ibn Adi. And in Badr, Mut’im’s brother – Jubayr’s uncle – had been killed by Hamza, and so out of family honour and tribal anger Jubayr told Wahshi, ‘Look, if you kill Hamza then you will get your freedom.’ And this was a revenge both on Hamza himself, but also on the prophet as he would have to suffer the loss of an uncle just as Jubayr had to.
And Wahshi himself narrates the incident, ‘I was a slave in Mecca, and I had no desire to fight and kill. I had no desire to get involved in the war. However, my master Jubayr promised me my freedom if I killed Hazma. And so I took my best spear and I went into the battle and by Allah, I had no desire to do anyone harm except for Hamza in order to get my freedom. I had no hatred against him.
I began following Hamza. I kept on hiding from him and staying behind him, until finally when he killed (here he mentioned one of the Quraish), as soon as he lowered the sword I stepped out from behind the bush and his back was to me.’ Wahshi knew he could not beat Hamza in one-on-one combat – who could? And he had no desire for glory, only freedom. ‘I threw my javelin with the most force that I could; it came in from behind and came out through the front, and the javelin was half way down its length into his body. Hamza turned around to try to fight me-’ subhanallah, what a man of true faith and bravery, that even skewered right through by a javelin he still tried to turn around and face his opponent till the end, ‘but before he could raise his sword he simply collapsed and died.’
Now both Wahshi and Jubayr would later accept Islam. And for Jubayr, he was actually a prisoner at Badr, and he narrates that the first time that imaan ever entered his heart was when he was tied up inside of the prophet’s mosque, and for maghrib the prophet was reciting Surah At-Tur and he reached the ayat:
أَمْ خُلِقُواْ مِنْ غَيْرِ شَىْءٍ أَمْ هُمُ ٱلْخَٰلِقُونَ
Or were they created from nothing? Or are they the creators?
Unfortunately (but of course by Allah’s will) despite this he did not accept Islam at that point, and his participation in Uhud to lead to the death of Hamza. Wahshi’s story is very interesting: when the prophet conquered Mecca, he knew that he would not be spared and so fled to Ta’if. However when Ta’if fell the next year Wahshi had no idea what to do, and was deciding to go into exile to Syria when someone said to him, ‘Woe to you, o Wahshi. Don’t you know that if you accept this man’s religion he never kills anyone who accepts his own religion?’
And so Wahshi decided to accept Islam in order to survive. To hide his identity he wrapped his head with the Bedouin covering, travelled to Mecca and came into the presence of the prophet. And he unwrapped his covering and before anyone could do anything said the shahaada. At this, the prophet asked, ‘You are Wahshi?’
‘Yes, I am Wahshi.’
So he said, ‘Come and tell me how you killed Hamza.’ And while Wahshi narrated the incident the prophet began to cry until his beard was wet. And he told Wahshi, ‘Hide yourself from me, let me not see your face.’ And so from then on out Wahshi was not allowed into the prophet’s presence, because of the pain the memories of Hamza would cause to him.
One final thing to mention about Wahshi was that he remained in the vice of drinking till the end of his days. And Umar (RA) had him punished (and the punishment for drinking was 40 lashes) multiple times, so much so that he said, ‘By Allah, I knew that Allah would not leave the killer of Hamza untouched.’
But in his later years, Wahshi felt extremely guilty for the death of Hamza. And so when he heard about Musaylimah Al-Kazaab (a man who claimed false prophethood after the death of Muhammad ﷺ), he made a du’a to Allah, ‘O Allah, allow me to take the life of Musaylimah in substitution for what I did to Hamza.’ And so he took the same spear he used to kill Hamza, and because he was an older man at this point he went with the help of Khalid ibn Al-Walid (RA) to the battle and targeted Musaylimah just like he targeted Hamza. And when he was in front of him, he threw his javelin and at the same time an Ansari struck him from the other side, so only Allah knows who was actually responsible for his death. But Wahshi considered this to be his redemption for taking the life of Hamza.
Now returning back to the battle of Uhud, after Hamza was killed, Hind – the wife of Abu Sufyan – committed the famous act of mutilation. As a sign of pure hatred, in order to simply hurt the prophet further, she went to the corpse of Hamza and slit open his stomach, took out his liver and bit a chunk out of it before spitting it out. On top of this she even cut off his fingers and his toes and made a necklace out of them. And yet, we have to remember that despite the cruelty and vileness of this act Allah would later guide her to Islam as well.
When the prophet saw the body of Hamza after the battle, he cried greatly and declared, ‘Were it not for the fact that Safiyyah (the full sister of Hamza and aunt of the prophet) would grieve, and that the people would take this as sunnah, I would have left this body untouched. I would have left this body untouched, until it dispersed in the bellies of the beasts and the birds.’ And here the prophet was making the statement that he wanted the body to be torn up and separated even more, so that when his uncle will be resurrected Allah will collect his body from all these different places and so he will gain an even greater honour. And he also said in his anger, ‘And if Allah ever gives me victory of the Quraish, I shall mutilate 30 of their bodies because of this one.’ But Allah later corrected him, saying in the Quran that if one is to take revenge then only take revenge of exactly what happened to him; but if one is patient and forgives then it is better. And so when this ayat came down the prophet made a permanent commandment that no dead bodies should ever be mutilated, and this is our law till this day.
Another notable death in the first part of Uhud was that of Hanzala (RA). As the mushrikoon army were in retreat, Hanzala managed to reach Abu Sufyan and was just in striking distance of him, when all of a sudden he was struck from behind by a spear. Famously after the battle, the prophet said, ‘I saw the angels washing the body of Hanzala as they took him up.’ Now the body of the shaheed is not washed, however Hanzala had literally just been married the previous day to Jamila binti Abdullah ibn Ubay ibn Salool (RA) (yes that Abdullah ibn Ubay ibn Salool), and so had asked the prophet if he could stay at home for the night and meet up with the Muslim army in the morning before the battle. And he was in such a rush in the morning that he did not even have the time to do ghusl, and so he was instead honoured by being washed by the angels and thus was given the famous title Ghaseel Al-Malaaika (The One Bathed by the Angels).
Dr.Yasir Qadhi’s Seerah of The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) 047
Dr.Yasir Qadhi’s Seerah of The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) 048