But Medina was again in great danger. A few days after the battle of Badr, Salim and Ghatfan tribes raised a big army at Qarqaratul Kadar. It was to invade Medina. The Prophet set out with a party of his companions. When he reached the plain of Al-Kadar, the enemy had dispersed.
Some two months later Abu Sufiyan entered the Medina valley with two hundred armed Quresh. At night he met Salam bin Mushkam, the chief of Banu Nadhir, the Jewish tribe. He requested their help against the Prophet. The Jewish chief agreed. Next day Abu Sufiyan’s party raided valley Ariz. He burnt down some date-trees and a few huts. He killed two men and then retired. He was chased by the Prophet but he made off in haste leaving behind many bags of barley porridge.
During this year, another great even took place. It was the marriage of Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet. He loved her dearly. Ali applied for her hand at the instance of Abu Bakr and Imar. It was granted. The marriage ceremony was a simple affair. Lady Fatima’s dower was made up of a few things – a head cover, a leather cushion, a bag and a grinding stone. The Prophet prayed for the couple thus:
“O Lord, bless them between themselves, bless them in their relations with others and bless them in their generations.”
The Jews now were working hand in glove with the Quresh. The Banu Nadhir had already promised them help. Now Banu Qainqa also started making trouble. In fact, they were very much alarmed at the growing power of the Prophet. The victory of Badr had made them bitter. The Prophet, however, treated them as People of the book. He invited them to accept the new faith, proposing to them a get-together for a free exchange of views on the subject. They were full of scorn. They told him that the victory of Badr had turned his head.
“You had to fight Quresh there. If you have to fight us, you would know.”
The Prophet remained calm. He also advised Muslims to remain calm. But the Jewish leaders did not want peace. They made trouble every time. Once a party of them insulted a Muslim woman. She cried for help. A Muslim rushed to protect her. A fight ensued. One Jew and one Muslim were killed. Soon there was a big riot. The Prophet hastened to the place. He advised peace and patience. But, as later events showed, the Qainqa were on the war path. Mutual relations got strained and both parties were soon up in arms. After fifteen days the Jews sued for peace. They offered their properties to Muslims. Only they begged that their lives be spared. The prophet agreed. The Banu Qainqa then departed for Syria.
Rukkiya, a daughter of the Prophet, died this year. She had been married to Uthman. The Prophet gave away in marriage to Uthman his other daughter, Ummi-Kalsoom.
Again Banu Ghatfan raised an army to attack Medina. Before the enemy could march, the Prophet dashed to meet them. They again dispersed.
A trade caravan of the Quresh was on its way through Najaf. Zaid bin Harith attacked it with a small party of Muslims. Abu Sufiyan and Safvan, two Quresh chiefs, were leading the caravan. They were so frightened that they made off at once leaving everything behind.
Now the third year of Hijra had begun. God blessed Fatima and Ali with a son. He was named Hassan. The Prophet loved him greatly. He once said,
“This child of mine is a great leader. Allah will make him one day the means of peace between two parties of Muslims.”
During the month of Ramazan, the Quresh marched on Medina with an army of three thousand, with Abu Sufiyan as their commander. They had two hundred mounts and seven hundred men under arms. This army camped near Mount Uhud. The Prophet met the enemy with a force of 700 men. He had only two mounts and one hundred men under arms. Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul deserted along with his men. The Prophet camped at the foot of the hill. He put a party of fifty under Abdullah bin Jabar to guard the pass. He told them not to leave their posts until ordered. The two armies came to blows. There was a great battle. Muslims fought without fear. They spread all around. The Quresh were defeated. The field was soon clear of the enemy.
Muslims started collecting the dead and the wounded and the spoils of war. The men on guard duty at the pass left their posts to join them. Khalid bin Walid, a Quresh general, saw from far that the pass was unguarded. He collected his men and advancing from the pass made a surprise attack on Muslims. Some one at the same time shouted that the enemy had also come up from behind. Muslims were caught unawared. There was confusion and Hamza fell fighting in the fray. Even the Prophet was seriously wounded. Many Muslims were killed. Only a few men remained around the Prophet. Seeing this the Quresh charged. The handful of Muslims guarding the Prophet had fought them with mad courage.
It was said at this stage that the Prophet had been slain. Some Muslims gave up heart, others stood fast. A bitter fight raged for a time. The Prophet stood firm in the thick of the battle. He had with him, Abu Bakr, Ali, Omar, Talha, Saad bin Abi Viqas, Zubair, Abu Ubaida bin al-Jarrah, Abdul Dujana and Zaid bin Sakan. They sheilded him against all attacks. They intercepted arrows aimed at the Prophet. They received sword-cuts. But they did not budge. Talha lost his hand; the arrows fell so thick and fast on him. They were aimed at the Prophet’s face. A woman, Umm-e-Amara, stood guard with a drawn sword. The Prophet moved with his party to another pass. Khalid made to attack it. He was repulsed by Umar. There were Fatima, Aisha, and Umm-e-Salma to attend the wounded.
Since it was rumoured that the Prophet had died of enemy arrows, Abu Sufiyan could not contain his joy. Climbing a cliff he called out,
“Where is Muhammad?”
Muslims wanted to reply but the Holy Prophet forbade them. Abu Sufiyan felt greatly encouraged. He next asked if Abu Bakr was alive? Again the Muslims were forbidden to answer. He next asked if Omar was there. Since there was no reply again, he felt certain that the Prophet, Abu Bakr and Omar were all dead. Triumphantly he shouted:
“Glory to Hubbal”
Hubbal was the chief Meccan idol. The Holy Prophet could not stand this insult to Allah. Turning to his comrades he said,
“Why are you silent now? Say Allah, The Almighty, the Glorious”.
The Muslims accordingly thundered back “Allah the Mighty, the Glorious.”
It was highly crucial moment. Muslim force had been severely mauled and scattered. The Meccans were in high spirits. They could be provoked to fresh assault. But the Holy Prophet could not care less; he was the Prophet of Allah and could not put up with an insult to Him. Before withdrawing, Abu Sufiyan said,
“We promise to give you battle next year in Badr.”
The Prophet accepted the challenge. The Quresh had mutilated the dead bodies of Muslims. Hinda, the wife of Abu Sufiyan, had disfigured Hamza. The Prophet was deeply grieved at this. Some seventy Muslims lay dead. They were all buried on the spot. There was not enough cloth to cover their bodies.
When the Prophet went to Medina, he was received with great joy. He had been believed to have been slain. Muslims were happy to know he was alive. An old Ansari lady had started for the battlefield when she heard of his death. On the way she was told that her father had been killed. She asked,
“How is the Prophet?”
Then someone told that her husband had been slain. She only wanted to know if the Prophet was safe. Next she was informed that her son had fallen in the battle. All she said was,
When she saw the Prophet, she exclaimed:
“All misfortunes are nothing if you are safe.”
When the Quresh were half way to Mecca, they felt they had made a grave mistake. They thought they should have finished Medina for good. They decided to turn back. The Prophet came to know of this and prepared to meet them. He gathered his men and set forth. This army camped at Hamra-al-Asad.
Maadaban, an Arab chief, met the Prophet there. He was on his way to Mecca. Next day he found the Quresh at Rauha. They were ready to march on Medina. He warned Abu Sufiyan against this. He said he had seen Muhammad and his men. He assured him that he had never seen a more determined force. Abu Sufiyan at once decided to march back home.
The battle of Uhud taught Muslims a bitter lesson. If they had not left the pass, complete victory would have been theirs.