A second chance for Jaber
Just yesterday companions of Prophet Muhammad - peace be upon him - had returned to Medina from the battle of Uhud suffering physical wounds, and psychological burden from the loss of loved ones. They nearly lost the most valuable asset they had, the Prophet Muhammad himself. They spent the most stressful night. At any moment the enemy could come back and attack Medinah. Thanks Allah, that did not happen. They woke up to a new day.
Not soon after they finished the morning prayer, an urgent announcement reached to them from the chief command Muhammad - peace be upon him. “ Prepare immediately to go after the Meccans. Only those who participated in the battle yesterday are allowed to join”.
Jaber was sad. He was sad for two reasons. One, he lost his father yesterday on the battlefield. Two, he missed the opportunity to join the battle. Before the battle, his father told him, “O Son, We can not leave your seven little sisters without any guardian. So stay home and take care of them and allow me instead to join the Prophet Muhammad to Uhud”. Jaber had to consent albeit longing for participation.
When Jaber heard the announcement, he momentarily forgot the pain of losing his father. New hope and joy filled his heart. He immediately went to Prophet and appealed, “O Prophet. I was eager to join you at Uhud yesterday. I had to stay behind obeying my father and taking care of my sisters. Now you are allowing only those who joined you yesterday. Please exempt me from this condition!”. Jaber’s joy knew no limit when the Prophet allowed him as the only exception.
Two Wounded Brothers
They both returned yesterday from Uhud exhausted and severely wounded. One of them was less wounded than the other. The call just reached them. They were poor and had no horse or donkey to ride. The less injured said to his brother, “O brother, we can not stay behind watching the Prophet leave Median with the army. Since we don’t have anything to ride and because I am less disabled than you, I will carry you on my back and catch up with the army”.
A while later, the army witnessed this marvelous scene of an injured brother carrying his severely injured brother on his back to a destination eight miles away. They were physically exhausted but full of joy and happiness because they were proud to be with the Prophet and his companions. They are not among those hypocrites who are not worthy of the honor to join the army. They missed Uhud and they are now missing this new battle called “Hamra’ al Asad”.
Prophet: the Strategic Commander
Prophet Muhammad with his strategic thinking realized that Abu Sufyan and his army might feel guilt that they did not annihilate the Muslims yesterday in Uhud. The best way to defend is to preempt the attack and show the enemy that Muhammad and his army are not weak.
In reality, they were weak. However, the moment they marched forward, Allah’s help and plots started to pop up.
The Cunning Plot of Ma’bad
Ma’bad was from the tribe of Khuja’h. He was not a Muslim. This tribe was a supporter of Prophet Muhammad from a very early time. They came from southern towns and were engaging in trade with Muslims. Ma’bad said to the Prophet, “O Muhammad, we are sad for what has happened to you in Uhud. Let me plot against your enemy.”
Meanwhile, Abu Sufyan did exactly what Prophet Muhammad had predicted. He said to his army, “ What a fool we were. We won the battle yet left the battlefield without annihilating Muhammad and his army. While we are still close to Medinah, let us return and surprise Muhammad with a sudden blow”.
At that very moment, Ma’bad reached the Meccan army. Abu Sufyan greeted him and said, “O Ma’bad, What news have you brought to us?”. In reply, Ma’bad said, “ I have just left Muhammad marching towards you with an army that I have never seen before in their number and might. All those who missed Uhud are part of the army and they are seeking revenge.”. “What?”, Abu Sufyan was astonished, “What do you suggest now Ma’bad? We were about to return and annihilate Muhammad”. Ma’bad suggested, “I warn you against facing Muhammad and his army. It was such an enormous army that I could not resist describing them in a poem”. Then he narrated six lines of a poem describing the ferocious army of Muhammad likening them to a swarm of locusts that leaves behind no green vegetation.
Abu Sufyan retreating
Abu Sufyan retreated with his army. However, while doing so, he wanted to use the last card against Muhammad. A trading caravan from the Abd al-Qais tribe was passing by heading towards Medina. He lured them to convey a message to Muhammad in exchange for profitable commodities. They agreed to carry the following message to Muhammad. “Abu Sufyan and his army are determined to reach Medinah and destroy all Muslims remained ”.
This caravan brought shocking news to the Muslim army while they were camping in Hamra’a al-Asad. It was a new psychological stress on top of the already physical stress the army was in. The believers immediately uttered one sentence which the Quran commemorated.
“Allah alone is sufficient for us, and He is the best protector”.
Indeed, Allah protected this army and saved them from a sure conflict.
Allah is sufficient and the Best Protector
The Quran commemorated this incident in the Quran to be a lesson for the next generations. Let us read verses 172 to 174:
˹As for˺ those who responded to the call of Allah and His Messenger after their injury, those of them who did good and were mindful ˹of Allah˺ will have a great reward.
Those who were warned, “Your enemies have mobilized their forces against you, so fear them,” the warning only made them grow stronger in faith and they replied, “Allah ˹alone˺ is sufficient ˹as an aid˺ for us and ˹He˺ is the best Protector.”
So they returned with Allah’s favours and grace, suffering no harm. For they sought to please Allah. And surely Allah is ˹the˺ Lord of infinite bounty.
These verses show the love and dedication the companions had towards Allah and His Prophet. They showed their obedience and sincerity in difficult times. They were not like the hypocrites who rush to join easy battles that yield material returns. They do not want to risk their lives for the sake of Islam. When Allah saw the sincerity of the companions the bounties followed thereafter. Allah did not want the Meccans to return home with the joy of victory. Allah has poured terror into their heart and they were literally escaping from the wrath of Muhammad and his army. The surrounding tribes witnessed Muhammad and his army chasing away the Meccans. With such tactics, “Hamar’a al-Asad” turned the defeat of Uhud into a victory. Thus, when Muslims place their trust in Allah, victory must follow. Any infidel tribes near Medina who otherwise might want to fish in muddy water now got deterred and knew that Medina is well protected and Muslims can not be taken easily.
Hamra’a al-Asad left remarkable lessons for the next generations. A battle is not a field to display power only, it is more to display intelligence, plot, and cunningness. I am not using the terms ‘cunningness’ and ‘plotting’ in their negative sense. In a declared war these are legitimate non-physical weapons. A chief commander who wins battles without casualties is better than one who wins with the loss of lives and property. Plots, intelligence, instigating fear, cunningness, propaganda, and other psychological warfare are all legitimate means of war. They cause to gain victory without taking lives. Nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction can gain victory - as the USA did in Japan during WWII - but that never draws praise, rather keeps a dark mark in history.
Managing post-crisis moments are what makes leaders. At times of peace, things are OK. Managing the crowd at times of crisis, agony, pain, war, and hardship is the true test for leaders. Prophet Muhammad - peace be upon him - in Hamra’a al-Asad gave the best example for future leaders. He combined seeking help from Allah with other physical and material means. He did not say, “I am a true Prophet, so I will wait for victory via angels sent by Allah.” Rather, he exerted all possible physical and psychological strategies. Allah sent for him Ma’bad.
Cowards die a thousand deaths before their death. On the contrary, the believer marches fearlessly towards death for the cause of Allah, and they return with either victory or martyrdom. They are always in a win-win situation. The cowards are always in a lose-lose situation. When they die they die an inglorious death, and when they escape death they are mocked by peers as cowards and hypocrites.