- Muhammad as a general
Muhammad as a general refers to one of the roles played by the
Islamic prophet Muhammadas the leader of the " ummah" at Medinaduring the last ten years of his life.
Muhammad spent his last ten years, from
622to 632, as the leader of a Muslimcommunity in Medinathat was engaged in a state of war with the Meccans. Muhammad and the émigrées, known as the Muhajir, had earlier migrated from Meccato Medinain what is known as the "Hijra". Through raids, sieges, and diplomacy, he and his followers allied with or subdued most of the tribes and cities of the Arabian peninsula in their struggle with the powerful Banu Quraishof Mecca.
They also sent out raiding parties against Arabic-speaking communities ruled under the Roman Empire. Muhammad was believed by the Muslims to be divinely chosen to spread
Islamand that warfare was one aspect of this struggle for the truth was clarified in its ultimate form. Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, " Mizan", Chapter:The Islamic Law of Jihad, Dar ul-Ishraq, 2001. OCLC: 52901690 [http://www.studying-islam.org/articletext.aspx?id=771] ] After initially refusing to accede to requests by his followers to fight the Meccans for what was viewed as continued provocation,Bawa Muhaiyudeen, "Islam and World Peace - Explanations of a Sufi, ISBN 0-914390-30-9, [http://www.bmf.org/iswp/laws-holy-war.html Online Extract, last accessed 23 September 2006] ] he eventually proclaimed the revelations of the Quran:::"Permission to fight is given to those who are fought against because they have been wronged -truly Allah has the power to come to their support- those who were expelled from their homes without any right, merely for saying, 'Our Lord is Allah'..." (Qur'an, 22:39-40)"After the first battle of Badragainst the Quraysh, he is reported as having said "We have returned from the lesser Jihad to the greater Jihad (i.e. the struggle against the evil of one's soul)." [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/beliefs/jihad_2.shtml BBC Article - Religion & Ethics Islam, last accessed 23 September 2006. The authenticity of this quote is the focus of some debate, however it is quite widely reported and of significant influence among Sufi's.] ] John Espositowrites that Muhammad's use of warfare in general was alien neither to Arab custom nor to that of the Hebrew prophets, as both believed that God had sanctioned battle with the enemies of the Lord. [ John Esposito(2005), "Islam: The Straight Path", p.15]
Lead up to armed conflict
Upon arrival in Medina he set about the establishment of a pact known as the
Constitution of Medina, to regulate the matters of governance of the city, as well as the extent and nature of inter-community relations, and signatories to it included the Muslims, the Ansarand the various Jewish tribes of Medina. [Ibn Hisham, as-Seerat an-Nabawiyyah, Vol. I p. 501. ]
Significant clauses of the constitution included the mutual assistance of each other if one signatory were to be attacked by a third party, the resolution that the Muslims would profess their religion and the Jews theirs, as well as the appointment of Muhammad as the leader of the state. [al-Mubarakpuri (2002) p.230] Muslims who did not migrate were subject to increased persecution, [al-Mubarakpuri (2002) [http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/Books/SM_tsn/ch4s4.html#Pre-Badr%20Missions%20and%20Invasions] ] and the threat to the life of both the
Ansarand the Muslims was such that they were reported as having to sleep by their weapons all night. ["When the Holy Prophet and his Companions came to Madina, and the helpers gave them shelter, all the Arabs combined to fight them. The Companions had to sleep by their weapons, till the morning" (Hakim and Darimi, quoted in Shibli's Sirat an-Nabi, p. 308)] . ‘Abdullah bin Uabi bin Salul, who was the Madinan chief of the tribes ‘ Awsand Khazrajbefore Muhammad's emigration was sent an ultimatum to either fight or expel Muhammad, or face action in the form of a military campaign that would exterminate his people and enslave his women. [al-Mubarakpuri [http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/Books/SM_tsn/ch4s4.html#Pre-Badr%20Missions%20and%20Invasions] ] Sa'd ibn Mua'dh, an Ansar, went to Mecca to learn how to perform the Umrahand there was accosted by Abu Jahlat the Kaabawho threatened he would kill him, had he not been in the company of Omaiya bin Khalaf. Sa‘d then challenged him to commit any such folly if he wanted to court a risk to the Meccan trading caravans. [ Sahih Bukhari, Bukhari-usc|5|59|286]
As tensions escalated the Muslims began to taken defensive measures such as stationing guards around Muhammad and sending out reconnaissance patrols. [al-Mubarakpuri [http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/Books/SM_tsn/ch4s4.html#Pre-Badr%20Missions%20and%20Invasions] ] The Muslims, who fled to Madinah, had left all their possessions and houses in Mecca, which were confiscated by their Meccans. The Muslims were initially not given permission to fight. Small groups of men were only sent for intelligence gathering, but are reported as not having followed orders to engage in violence-free missions.
Raids on Meccan caravans
Before armed conflict started between the Meccans and Medinans, Sa'd ibn Mua'dh warned the Meccans of upcoming raids. Muslims started raiding caravans going to and from
Mecca. Such activities were initially denounced by Muhammad. When a group of Muslims started raiding caravans with Abu Basir, Muhammad said, "Woe to his mother! What excellent war kindler he would be, should he only have supporters". [ Sahih Bukhari, Bukhari-usc|3|50|891]
It was only when the Muslims discovered that their properties in Mecca were being taken to Syria to be sold, they were permitted to fight and, that the Muslim community started a mission to capture meccan caravans carrying Muslim property, these expeditions were bloodless, with the first blood being spilt by the death of a guard of the Al-Hadrami caravan at Nakhlah, thereby formally setting up a blood feud from the Meccan end, though the Muslims said it had started when they were expelled and lost their property. It was in such a context that the
Battle of Badrtook place during one particular expedition in which the Muslims sought to waylay it to recoup for the property and wealth their possessions that they had been forced to abandon in Mecca, and the Meccans who unknown to the Muslims also quickly mobilized a force for its defense. [al-Mubarakpuri [http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/Books/SM_tsn/ch4s5.html#Reason%20of%20the%20Battle] ] thus setting up the Battle of Badr. Abu Sufyanleading the caravan got wind of the Muslim intention and rerouted the caravan, thereby escaping and sent a message to the Meccan to return as the caravan was now safe. Thereupon, Abu Jahlexhorted the army to press on and fight the Muslims, some members refused and returned while the rest moved on to fight and were defeated by the smaller Muslim army [al-Mubarakpuri [http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/Books/SM_tsn/ch4s5.html#Reason%20of%20the%20Battle] ]
Islamic scholars question narratives regarding raid against the caravan as they argue that these narratives contradict the Qur'anic version of the account. They argue that the caravan was one of the two targets which weak believers wanted to attack (quran-usc-range|8|5|8), but then eventually Muslims fought against Meccan army, as looting a defenseless caravan wouldn't require preparations which Qur'an talks about(quran-usc|8|43). [Tariq Hashmi. " [http://www.al-mawrid.org/Content/ViewReaderQuestion.aspx?questionId=400 Cause of Battle of Badr] ", Al-Mawrid] [ Amin Ahsan Islahi. " Tadabbur-i-Qur'an", Ist Ed., (Lahore: Faraan Foundation 2003), pp. 427-40] [ Shibli Nomani. "Siratu al-Nabi," Ist Ed. vol. 2, (Lahore: Qazi Publishers 1981) pp. 49-52] [ Khalid Masud, "Hayaat-e Rasul-e Ummi," 1st ed. (Lahore: Dar al-Tazkeer 2003), pp.319-25] The Meccans then fought against the Muslims at the Battle of Uhud. They made a final attempt at the Battle of the Trench. Uhud was a battle started purely by the Meccans for retaliation to their military loss in Badr, and the Battle of the Trenchwas the final trial by the Meccans to end the Muslim presence. The latter was also exclusively started by the huge Meccan forces, accompanied by other armies from outside Mecca.
Raids against other tribes
The Muslims also set their new military organization against various non-Meccan groups. Two Jewish groups were expelled from Medina. In light of a perceived betrayal of the part of their Jewish allies at the Battle of the Trench, where the Jewish leadership was believed to have allied itself with the Meccan assailants, the Muslims defeated the last remaining Jewish tribe in Medina.Fact|date=February 2007 The result was that the Muslims eventually became the rulers of the oasis to which they had fled as refugees.
As a result of these campaigns, some nomadic tribes decided that it was in their best interests to ally with the Muslims.Fact|date=February 2007 They accepted Islam, subsequently destroying their own cult figures and shrines.
Muslim alliance versus Meccan alliance
By expanding their military operations and negotiating with the nomads, the Muslims had created an alliance with greater resources than Mecca, alone, could muster.Fact|date=February 2007 The Meccans in their turn made alliances with Bedouin tribes. Two large alliances faced each other, poised for further warfare.
By old custom, during the months of pilgrimage, tribal hostilities stopped and all were free to visit Mecca. In March of 628, Muhammad put on the garb of a pilgim and taking a small force and camels for sacrifice, set out for Mecca.
According to the early chronicler
Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad took 700 men (Guillaume 1955, p. 500). According to Watt, Muhammad took 1400 to 1600 men (Watt 1957, p. 46).
The Meccans did not accept the Muslim professions of peaceful intent and sent out an armed party against them. The Muslims evaded them by taking a side route through the hills around Mecca, and then camped outside Mecca, at Hudaybiya. Ibn Ishaq describes a tense period of embassies and counter-embassies, including a bold foray by
Uthman ibn Affaninto the city of Mecca, where he was temporarily held as a hostage. The Meccans told the Muslims that Uthman had been killed and open warfare seemed imminent.
Then the situation shifted radically. Uthman was revealed to be alive, and the Meccans expressed their willingness to negotiate a truce. The Muslims wanted to attack, but Muhammad held out for a peaceful resolution.
The treaty of Hudaybiyyah committed both sides to a ten-year truce. The Muslims were to be allowed to return the next year, to perform the pilgrimage.
Muslim alliance expands
Free of the Meccan threat, the Muslims expanded their activities against other oases and tribes. They conquered the rich oasis of Khaybar (see
Battle of Khaybar) and sent raiding parties against the Ghatafan, Murrah, Sulaym, and Hawaizin (Watt 1957 pp. 52-53).
Muslims take Mecca
Less than two years after the truce of Hudaybiyyah, the truce was broken by a squabble between tribes allied to the Meccans and Medinans. There had long been bad blood between the Khuza'ah and the Banu Bakr bin Abd Manat, and the two groups lined up on opposite sides, the Khuza'ah with the Muslims and the Banu Bakr with the Meccans. Watt (p. 62) says that some of the Quraysh helped the Banu Bakr ambush the Khuza'ah.
Shortly afterwards, a large Muslim force of some 10,000 men headed for Mecca. They camped outside Mecca and the usual round of emissaries and negotiations began. Apparently Abu Sufyan had negotiated, then or earlier, a promise that he and those under him would not be attacked if they submitted. A few Meccans, from the Makhzum faction, prepared to resist.
On or near January 11, 630, Muhammad sent four columns of troops into Mecca. Only one column met any resistance. Twenty-eight Meccans were killed and the rest of those opposing the Muslim entry fled. The remaining Meccans surrendered to Muhammad. A few Meccans are reported to have been killed for previous offenses against the Muslims, but most of the Meccans, even those who had been notable for their opposition to Islam, were spared.
The Kaaba was cleansed of all the idols of Arabian gods, such as
Hubal, which were placed in it and the area was established as a Muslim sanctuary.cite book|pages=11|title=Islam: A Short History|author=Karen Armstrong|isbn=0-8129-6618-x|date=2000,2002] While destroying each idol, Muhammad recited Quran|17|81 which says "Truth has arrived and falsehood has perished for falsehood is by its nature bound to perish." [http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2001/536/in7.htm Islam, iconography and the Taliban] ] [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/pillars/fasting/tajuddin/fast_76.html Conquest of Makkah] - USC MSA] According to Islamic tradition, the Kaaba was built by Adamas a place of worship, and then later reconstructed by Ibrahim( Abraham) and Isma'il( Ishmael).
Last two years
After the fall of Mecca, other tribes hastened to submit to the Muslims. Those who did not submit were harried until they submitted. The historian Fred Donner, in his book "The Early Islamic Conquests", argues that the early Islamic state organized the nomads, the Bedouin, under the leadership of urban Arabic-speakers. This arrangement was inherently unstable as long as there were "any" nomads outside Muslim rule. Otherwise, any rebellious tribe had only to move its flocks and tents outside the area that the Muslims controlled in order to be free again. The Muslims would have to control the entire Syro-Arabian steppe in order to be secure. Muhammad, and the caliphs that followed him,
Abu Bakrand Umar al-Khattab, put a great deal of effort into extending and solidifying these tribal treaties and conquests.
The sum total of all casualties on all sides in all the battles of Muhammad range from 1200 to 1500 dead according to the most authoritative sources [ [http://www.maaref-foundation.com/english/lib/pro_ahl/holy_prophet/life_of_the_holy_prophet/14.htm A Glance at the Life of the Holy Prophet of Islam] page 95] .
His efforts led to the unification of the Arabian peninsula.
Muslims view that the Muslims fought only when attacked, or in the context of a wider war of self-defense. They argue that Muhammad was the first among the major military figures of history to lay down rules for humane warfare, and that he was scrupulous in limiting the loss of life as much as possible.
Javed Ahmed Ghamidiwrites in Mizanthat there are certain directives of the Qur’anpertaining to war which were specific only to Muhammad against Divinely specified peoples of his times (the polytheistsand the Israelitesand Nazaritesof Arabiaand some other Jews, Christians, et al) as a form of Divine punishment -- for they had persistently denied the truth of Muhammad's mission even after it had been made conclusively evident to them by Allah through Muhammad, and asked the polytheists of Arabia for submission to Islam as a condition for exoneration and the others for jizyaand submission to the political authority of the Muslims for exemption from death punishment and for military protection as the dhimmisof the Muslims. Therefore, after Muhammad and his companions, there is no concept in Islam obliging Muslims to wage war for propagation or implementation of Islam, hence now, the only valid reason for war is to end oppression when all other measures have failed. ( jihad) ["Misplaced Directives", [http://www.renaissance.com.pk Renaissance] , Al-Mawrid Institute, Vol. 12, No. 3, March 2002. [http://www.renaissance.com.pk/martitl2y2.html] ]
Michael H. Hart, in his hotly debated and widely copied book, "The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History" (1978) ranked Muhammad as the most influential, attributing this to the fact that Muhammad was successful in both the religious and political realms and had a significant role in the development of Islamic theology. [ Hart, Michael H. The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, Revised and Updated for the Nineties. New York: Carol Publishing Group/Citadel Press; first published in 1978 reprinted with minor revisions 1992. ISBN 9780806510682]
Muhammad's critics often hold that the Muslims engaged in wars of aggression, that they caused much bloodshed and suffering, that they imposed Islam at the point of a sword, and that Muhammad's conduct is not an example to be imitated. Conversely, other non-Muslim academics believe that Muhammad was a reluctant warrior, such that he disliked fighting except when he believed it to be absolutely necessary. [Forward (1998) Muhammad: A Short Biography. Oxford: OneWorld Publishers. ISBN 1-85168-131-0. p. 27]
* Rules of war in Islam
* Donner, Fred, "The Early Islamic Conquests", Princeton University Press, 1981
* Guillaume, A., "The Life of Muhammad", Oxford University Press, 1955
* Watt, Montgomery, "Muhammad at Medina", Oxford University Press, 1957
*al-Mubarakpuri, Saif-ur-Rahman (2002). al-Raheeq al-Makhtoom, "The Sealed Nectar". Islamic University of Medina. Riyadh: Darussalam publishers. ISBN 1-59144-071-8.
* [http://www.shirazi.org.uk/War,%20Peace%20and%20Non-violence.pdf Imam Muhammad Shirazi, "War, Peace and Nonviolence: An Islamic Perspective"]
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