March on Tabook

Among the many epistles of invitation to Islaam sent by Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) to various kings; monarchs and chiefs, one was for Heraclius of Rome. The emperor was very impressed and believed Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him)was the Rasool of Allah. However, when, when he realised that he had to choose between Islaam and his throne, he chose to remain the emperor and lost out on the virtues that Islaam had to offer him. Moreover, his Christian clergy had also been responsible for his decision to remain Christian.

During that period Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) had also sent Hazrat Harith ibn Umair (R.A.) with an epistle to the king of Syria. But the Roman Governor of Syria-Shurahbil al Ghassani had intercepted Hazrat Harith ibn Umir (R.A.) and killed him. Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) had sent a Muslim army to avenge his death. The battle took place at Mu'tah. Hazrat Khalid ibn Walid (R.A.) who took over the command of the Muslim army after the martyrdom of Hazrat Zayd ibn Harithah; (R.A.) Hazrat Jafar ibn Abu Talib (R.A.) and Hazart Abdullah ibn Rawaha (R.A.), led the Muslims (3000 men) valiantly against an army of 100,000 men.

Hazrat Khalid ibn Walid (R.A.) making full use of his great military experience and unique wisdom and foresight in a battle, he first commanded the Muslims to recognise their ranks and recoup their forces. He allowed only skirmishes with the enemy in order to gain time. Soon night came and the two armies disengaged until the following morning . During the night, Hazrat Khalid ibn Walid (R.A.) carefully laid out his plan. He sent a number of men toward the rear deploying them in such a way as to give the impression the next morning that massive reinforcement from Madinah were arriving to join the battle. The maneuver worked. Recalling their losses and the Muslims' fierce acts of war on the previous day, the Byzantines decided to abandon the battlefield. The Muslims, pleased by the withdrawal of the enemy, withdrew towards Madina.

The convincing power of the Muslims, their rapid growth as a nation and finally the conquest of Makkah, prompted the governors and heads of states to curb the flow of this Islamic tide. They prepared for the final showdown with the Muslims. They sought the assistance of the Roman emperor because some states were under his dependency. From his capital at Constantinople, he issued orders for the mobilisation of the Roman army to assist the Syrians and other smaller Christian states. This combined force advanced and made camp at Balqa on the border of Syria. The soldiers in the army were each paid an advance salary for a year. While still engaged in bringing security and order to the distant regions of the Arabian Peninsula, the news reached Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) that the Byzantium (Roman) ruler (Heraclius) was gathering an army to invade the northern areas of Arabia. It was also rumored that this Roman army would seek to destroy the emerging power of the Muslims who now stood at the borders of both the Byzantine (Rome) and Persian (Iran) empire.

On hearing of the impeding danger from the Romans, Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) was convinced that it would become difficult to repulse the Romans once they had set foot on Arab soil. So the best strategy was to go out and confront the enemy on the borders of Syria at once without hesitation. Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) decided that the Roman army must be met and destroyed so completely that the Byzantines would not think again of attacking Arabia or interfering in its affairs.

The impeding war could not have come at a worse time for the Muslims. It was Autumn, but the desert heat, being greater in the beginning of Autumn than in summer, was all the more deadly. Moreover, a long distance separated Madinah from Shaam (Syria). Any venture to cross it required great amount of water and provision. A hot dry wind blew across the Arabian Peninsula. The previous year had been dry and fruitless, but they had hoped to compensate themselves this year with the ripe fruit, ready for picking in the orchards. Besides, the war meant confrontation with an empire which practically ruled half of the world and its military might was greatly advanced.

Notwithstanding the odds against them, the devotees of Islaam put themselves and their wealth entirely at the command of Allah and at Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) disposal. An appeal went out to all Muslims for their assistance by Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him). Young and old, the strong and the weak, the mounted and others on foot, all converged to the courtyard of Masjid-e-Nabawi. The courtyard was filled with dirhams and dinaars foodstuff, animal and weapons. Hazrat Uthman (Ghani) ibn Affan (R.A.) gave 1000 camels. Hazrat Umar ibn Khattab (R.A.) gave half of all his possession. Hazrat Abu Bakr ibn Abu Quhafah al Taymi (al-Siddiq) (R.A) gave everything he possessed . When Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) asked if he had left anything for his family, he replied:
'I have left Allah and His Rasool (peace and blessing be upon him) for them'.
Hazrat Abd al Rahman ibn Awf (R.A.) gave 40,000 dirahams. Hazrat Abu Tufial Ansaari (R.A.) gave 8 kg of dry dates. Some laborers were known to have parted with all their wages for the worthy cause. No contribution came from the Munafiqeen, since they were now busy conspiring and adding fuel to fire against the Muslims. They were inwardly gloating at the thought that the mighty Roman Empire will eventually trample all over the Muslims.

The Munafiqeen, as before, did not intend to go to battle with the Muslims. They returned to Madinah and went about taunting Hazrat Ali ibn Abu Talib ibn Abdul Muttalib (R.A.), who was left behind as guardian of the household of Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him). The unfavorably said that he was deliberately left behind because he was unworthy of the battle against the Romans. Hazrat Ali ibn Abu Talib (R.A.) could not tolerate this stigma and rode up to Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) on the way to Tabook and complained of what the Muafiqeen said. Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) consoled him with the words that Hazrat Ali (R.A.) was "to him as Haroon (A.S.) was to Hazrat Moosa (A.S.)" and that the responsibility of the household in Madinah was as noble as when Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) was absent. Hazrat Ali (R.A.) was satisfied with the explanation and he returned to Madina a wiser man.

The army was finally assembled and counted 30,000 men including a cavalry (soldiers on horse) of 1000 while Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) was busy settling the affairs of Madinah - handing over the governor ship to Hazrat Muhammed ibn Maslamah (R.A.), appointing Hazrat Ali ibn Abu Talib (R.A.) as guardian of his household and giving each the necessary instructions. The army left Madinah in Rajab 9 A.H. After an hour's journey the army arrived at Dhu Awan, a locality near Madinah. The Muafiqeen informed Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) that they had built a masjid and it was their desire that Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) should perform salaat there. The time however was pressing and Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) asked to be excused. It was well-known fact that this structure was the center of conspiracy and rebellion against the Muslims. They had the audacity to ask Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) to perform his salaat in their "mosque" which they said would be preserved with glorification by his prayer.

The Muslim army arrived at al Hijr where the rock-hewn remains of 'The People of Thamud' stood, and Rasulullah S.A.W. commanded the army to dismount for a brief rest. Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) ordered the army against drinking the water or using it for wudhu. The army then marched in the direction of Tabook and reached the oasis of Tabook which was between Madinah and Damascus and camped there waiting for the enemy to approach.

When Heraclius heard of the strength of the Muslims, he was awe-stricken. He thought that if 3000 Muslims defeated 100,000 warriors of Shurahbil al Ghassani at Mu'tah then 30,000 Muslims who were waiting for the Romans at Tabook would not be easy to defeat. Heraclius was at his height of glory having recently defeated the Persians in an encounter. A defeat for him at the hands of the Muslims would be humiliating and a bleak future for the Roman Empire in the region. He withdrew his troops. Other Christian states followed the example of Heraclius and withdrew.

When Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) learned of their fear and withdrawal, he saw no reason to pursue them within their territory. Instead, Nabi (peace and blessing be upon him) remained in Tabook for twenty days inviting all the people in the region to befriend them. His purpose was to spread Islam and secure the frontiers of Arabia, the centre of Islam.

Ukaydir ibn Abd al Malik al Kindi, the Christian prince of Dawmat al Jandal refused the hand of friendship and was suspected of preparing to launch a treacherous attack on the Muslims. Taking no chances Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) sent Hazrat Khalid ibn Walid (R.A.) with 500 cavalrymen to deal with this threat and commanded the rest of the army to return to Madinah. Hazrat Khalid ibn Walid (R.A.) hurried with his men to Dumah and discovering that its king was out on a hunting trip with his brother Hassan attacked it without finding any appreciable resistance outside the city; its gates, however, remained tightly closed. Hazrat Khalid ibn Walid (R.A.) seized Ukaydir and his brother Hassan and they returned home. Hassan was killed and Ukaydir was asked to open the gates of the city or be killed. Ukaydir and his city yielded. After seizing two thousand camels, eight hundred goats, four hundred loads of grain, and four hundred coats of arms, Hazrat Khalid ibn Walid (R.A.) carried them, together with his captive, Prince Ukaydir, to Madinah. Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) offered Islaam to Ukaydir, and the latter converted. He was reinstated on his throne and became Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) 's ally.

When the Muslim army reached Dhu Awan, the headquarters of the Munafiqeen, Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) ordered the demolition of the Munafiqeen mosque (al- Zarar). The munafiqeen shook with fear and went into hiding. From then on, Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) dealt more and more severely with the munafiqeen, whose presence and influence among the Muslims became increasingly grave and demanded decisive solution.

Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) and the Muslims returned to Madinah in Ramadhaan 9 A.H. after being away for two months. With the campaign of Tabook, the word of Allah became supreme throughout the whole Arabian Peninsula. Arab frontiers became secure and the people of Arabia began to enter Islam en masse and to merge into greater unity under Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) When the people of Ta'if heard of Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him)'s triumphant return from Tabook, they had to admit that they would never be able to confront the powerful Muslims. They sent a delegation under Abd Ya Layl ibn Amr to pay their respect to Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him)Finally the Banu Thaqif of Ta'if accepted Islam, and pledged on the hands of Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) on behalf of the people of Ta'if. Hazrat Uthman ibn Abu al-As (R.A.) was appointed ruler of Ta'if. Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him)instructed Hazrat Mughira ibn Sho'abah (R.A.) to demolish the temple and its deity "Laat" at Ta'if. The delegation remained in Madinah as guests of Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) during the rest of Ramadhaan, fasting with Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) and eating the food which he presented to them at sunset and before dawn. When it was time for them to leave and return home, Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) counseled their leaders Hazrat Uthman ibn al-As (R.A.) , saying:
"Be brief when leading the salaah, and measure the people by the weakest among them. Remember that among them are the old, the youth, the weak, and the deprived".

Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) was inundated with one delegation after another from all around Arabia. The people came, accepted Islam and pledged their allegiance to Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him). Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) appointed Amirs and Governors in every area where Islam had taken root. His faithful and trusted Sahaba worked tirelessly towards furthering the Islamic cause.

As these delegation followed one another to Madinah, the month of Hajj approached and Hajj became 'Fardh; Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) was so preoccupied with his missionary work that he appointed Hazrat Abu Bakr (R.A.) as the 'Amir' to lead 300 Muslims for Hajj to Makkah.The Masjid al Nabawi became the center of instructions for the pilgrims and Hazrat Abu Bakr (R.A.) taught them the various formalities and procedures of Hajj. Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) sent twenty camels while Hazrat Abu Bakr (R.A.) took five camels for 'qurbani' (sacrifice).

When Hazrat Abu Bakr (R.A.) and the pilgrims had departed for Makkah, Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) was given the revelation of 40 ayaah of Surah Bara'ah which among other revelations, forbade the Mushrikeen (infidels) from entering 'Haram'; 'tawaf' was not to be performed in a naked form by anyone, as it was the custom of the Mushrikeen to perform 'tawaf' in a naked state. Rasulullah (peace and blessing be upon him) sent Hazrat Ali ibn Abu Talib (R.A.) to Makkah to announce these revelations after the Hajj Khutbah (sermon).

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