Monday, October 29, 2007

The Battle of Mu'tah

These notes are from Lesson 165 which was delivered by Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq on 10th August 2007 at Al Kawthar Academy, Leciester. This hadeeth covered (Hadeeth No. 639) is from the Book of Funerals of al Tajrid al Sarih.

CHAPTER 4. A man who informs the relatives of the deceased person (of his death) by himself.
باب: الرّجُلُ يَنْعَي إِلى أَهْلِ المَيّتِ بِنَفسِه
639. عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مالِكٍ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ: قَالَ النّبِيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم: (أَخَذَ الرّايَةَ زَيْدٌ فَأُصِيبَ, ثُمّ أَخَذَهَا جَعْفَرٌ فَأُصِيبَ ثُمّ أَخَذَهَا عَبْدُ اللهِ بْنُ رَوَاحَةَ فَأُصِيبَ وَإِنّ عَيْنَيْ رَسُولِ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم لَتَذْرِفانِ ثُمّ أَخَذَهَا خالِدُ بْنُ الْوَلِيدِ مِنْ غَيْرِ إِمْرَةٍ فَفُتِحَ لَهُ). رواه
6Narrated Anas bin Mâlik رضى الله عنه : The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, Zaid took over the flag and was martyred. Then it was taken by Jâ'far who was martyred as well. Then Abdullâh bin Rawâha took the flag but he too was martyred, and at that time the eyes of Allâh's Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم were full of tears. Then Khâlid bin AlWalId took the flag without being nominated as a chief (beforehand) and was blessed with victory.

This Hadeeth is very brief but refers to a much greater incident than can be gleaned from this short narration. There are four Sahabah mentioned in the Hadeeth; Zaid ibn Harith (رضى الله عنه), Jafar ibn Abu Talib(رضى الله عنه), Abdullah bin Rawaha (رضى الله عنه) and Khalid bin Walid (رضى الله عنه). To understand this hadeeth, it is important to learn about eaxh of these sahabah.

Zaid Ibn Haritha (رضى الله عنه) – this sahabi is mentioned in detail in Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq’s tafseer of Surah Ahzaab. He was the adopted son of Rasul (صلى الله عليه وسلم). The nephew of Khadijah (رضى الله عنها) gave Zaid to Khadijah (رضى الله عنها) as a gift after he was kidnapped and sold on. He grew up with Rasul (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and was amongst one of the first believers and was also amongst those that did hijrah. Although, Zaid (رضى الله عنه) was initially referred to as the adopted son of Rasul (صلى الله عليه وسلم) it should be noted that there is no formal adoption in Islam. Allah abrogated this practice. By way of compensation, the ulema say to console Zaid about the fact that he was no longer referred to as Zaid ibn Muhammad, he is mentioned by name in Qur’an. He is the only sahabi to be mentioned by name in Qur’an. The son of Zaid (رضى الله عنه), Usama ibn Zaid (رضى الله عنه) wasn’t regarded as being handsome but Rasul(صلى الله عليه وسلم) loved him dearly (his nickname was ‘beloved son of the beloved’).

Jafar ibn Abu Talib (رضى الله عنه) was the brother of Ali (رضى الله عنه). Rasul (صلى الله عليه وسلم) grew up with Abu Talib after Rasul’s (صلى الله عليه وسلم) grandfather passed away. He did hijrah from Makkah to Abyssinia. Jafar (رضى الله عنه) gave a speech to the Abyssinian ruler Najashi (please listen to Lesson 164 and see notes - for more details about Najashi) and this speech was considered one of the most eloquent speeches in Islamic history. Many people are familiar with some of the wording e.g. ‘from the narrowness of this world to the expanses of the hereafter. . .’ etc

Jafar ibn Abu Talib (رضى الله عنه) left Abyssinia in 7th year of hijrah after the battle of Khaybar (conquest/victory of Khaybar). Jafar (رضى الله عنه) was considered to be very similar to Rasul (صلى الله عليه وسلم) in appearance. Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) also said that Jafar (رضى الله عنه) was similar to him in appearance and character.

Abdullah bin Rawaha (رضى الله عنه) was from the Ansaari sahabah.. He was very eloquent in speech and was one of the first to embrace Islam from the Ansaar. He was one of the leaders who gave the baiah (pledge) to Rasul (صلى الله عليه وسلم) before hijrah. He was also one of the three famous poets of Rasul (صلى الله عليه وسلم). Abdullah bin Rawaha (رضى الله عنه) is the poet mentioned in Hadeeth 612. He was appointed as a commander by Rasul (صلى الله عليه وسلم) in the battle of Mutah.

Khalid ibn Walid (رضى الله عنه) was the cousin of Abdullah ibn Abbas (رضى الله عنه). He was very intelligent and a strategist. He wasn’t Muslim at the time of the battle of Uhud – he led the setback in the battle of Uhud. His brother Waleed was a Muslim however, and there was always a doubt in Khalid ibn Walid’s mind. He always suffered a setback whenever he fought against the Muslims. Khalid ibn Walid was known to be intelligent and his brother wrote to him saying where has your intelligence gone? You haven’t seen the truth of Islam. He left Makkah with horse, amour and weapons. When he died in modern-day Syria he left with horse, armour and weapons.. He wept as he was dying in bed and not on the battlefield.

The battle of Mu’tah took place in the 8th year of hijrah. Mu’tah is a village in present day Jordon. The whole area was under the rule of the Byzantine emperor but people were Arabs – Ghassanids (Arabic: الغساسنة‎). In ethnicity, language and culture they were Arabs but in religion they were Christians and lived in a Roman vassal State.

Rasullah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) sent 15 sahabah to this area inviting people in Islam. They were all killed mercilessly. Rasul (صلى الله عليه وسلم) also sent a letter to Ghassanid Arabs – their ruler had the ambassador imprisoned and then executed. Due to these and other incidences Rasul (صلى الله عليه وسلم) decided to dispatch a force of 300 to Syria. Zaid (رضى الله عنه) was made the Amir (commander). Rasul (صلى الله عليه وسلم) made announcement that two of the other sahabah mentioned in this hadeeth should be commanders in order if one fails. He nominated Jafar (رضى الله عنه) and then Abdullah ibn Rawaha (رضى الله عنه). He (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said that if the third commander fails then the Muslims should decide amongst themselves and nominate the third commander. A Jew at that time had said that if a prophet says that if such and such will fall, he will surely fall in battle. One of the most important lessons to be derived from the hadeeth is that when Rasul (صلى الله عليه وسلم) sent this army of 3000 to face the Romans, he sent his most beloved family members and sent them as commanders on the frontline. If he had been not been the Prophet of Allah and was conducting this campaign for worldly reasons he would have never sent his most beloved family members to the front. This is why the background to each sahabi which Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq provided at the start of the lesson is important. Thus, this incident shows that Rasul (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was not an imposter doing things for worldly gains.

When the army was dispatched, it was Jumah and Abdullah ibn Rawaha (رضى الله عنه) came back so he could attend Jumah Salah and pray behind Rasul (صلى الله عليه وسلم). However, Rasul (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said ‘a single morning and a single evening in battle than the whole world and all that it contains’.

Heraculius was the Roman Emperor at the time of this campaign. There are two narrations:

  1. He sent his personal forces and came with them
  2. He dispatched them but didn’t come with them

It is stated in narrations that an army of 200, 000 came to battle with the Muslims. When they learnt of this, the Muslims stopped in a village and were deciding what they should do. Abdullah ibn Rawaha (رضى الله عنه) delivered a speech to the sahabah. He said that we don’t fight with numbers, armour or weapons but the deen of Allah.

Mu’tah is close to Kerrac where some of the most famous battles of the crusades took place which were led by the spiritual successor of Khalid ibn Waleed (رضى الله عنه), Salahudin Ayubi where he fought similar battles.

Abu Huraira (رضى الله عنه) was also present in the battle. He said his eyes were dazzled when he saw gold, silk and armour of the approaching Roman army.

Zaid (رضى الله عنه) had the banner (standard) of the Muslims and he marched and charged forward and he was martyred. The battle unfolded miraculously before Rasul (صلى الله عليه وسلم) although he was in Madinah.

Jafar ibn Abu Talib (رضى الله عنه) – fought bravely but was surrounded. He came off his horse and hamstrung his horse so he destined death for himself as he could go nowhere. He continued to fight valiantly with his horse hamstrung. He held the banner of the Muslims in one hand but his lower arm was chopped off by the enemy. Then he held the banner with his other hand and this arm was also chopped off. He then held banner with his upper arms so the sahabah could still see it. The sahabah narrate that when they saw his body, he had more than 90 wounds at the front of his body and his arms amputated.

Abdullah ibn Rawahah (رضى الله عنه) then took the banner and he was also martyred. One of his cousins offered him some meat as they had only eaten very lightly. He said eat the meat to replenish your strength. Abdullah ibn Rawahah (رضى الله عنه) took the banner and took one bite. But he then threw the meat after hearing a cry in battle. He told his cousin ‘You are in the dunya. You eat!’ He flung the meat and marched into battle, and he was also killed.

As Prophet had only named three commanders, a sahabi called Harith took the standard and said to the sahabah that quickly name a commander. They told him to take the leadership but he refused. Khalid bin Waleed (رضى الله عنه) was close-by so he told Khalid (رضى الله عنه) to take it. Khalid bin Waleed (رضى الله عنه) had only embraced Islam 3 months before and was reluctant but the Muslims all agreed he should be their commander so he took the standard and assumed leadership. He told them to make a strategic retreat. He told sahabah to fight in skirmishes. When that day’s battle was over and retreated that night. He then made a brilliant manoeuvre. The Arab Armies of that time were split into 5 groups – vanguard Right flank, left flank, centre and rear. Each section of the army had a banner (standard) so they would be recognised by each other as well as the enemy. He instructed the army to switch around. He switched army so left flank was on the right flank, the rear were placed at the vanguard etc. The next morning, the enemy though that it was so difficult for us the day before when there were only 3000, but now reinforcements had arrived. The enemy then left the battle and Khalid bin Waleed (رضى الله عنه) then came back to Madinah with the sahabah. Some people have actually questioned whether this was a victory but Rasul said it was a victory. Secondly, after facing an army 200,000, only 12 sahabah died. In another narration, 15 sahabah have been quoted of dying. Imam Bukhari narrates an hadeeth that Khalid bin Waleed (رضى الله عنه) broke 9 swords on that day and was fighting with the tenth Yemeni sword. Thousands died from amongst the Ghassanid Arabs, only 12 or 15 died from amongst the Muslims. Three commanders died but they got what they sought. So, it was a victory and this paved the way for Tabuk one year later which then paved the way for the conquest of Egypt, Persia and Rome under the same commander of Khalid bin Waleed (رضى الله عنه)

The events unfolded before Rasul (صلى الله عليه وسلم) who was in Madinah and he gave a sermon and mentioned the martyrdom of the three commanders to the other sahabah, and also mentioned that Khalid bin Waleed (رضى الله عنه) was appointed and he was victorious. Rasul (صلى الله عليه وسلم) then raised his two fingers to the heavens and said ‘Oh Allah! Khalid bin Waleed (رضى الله عنه) is one of your swords so assist him’ He was then always referred to as one of the drawn swords of Allah. Rasul (صلى الله عليه وسلم) wept profusely after learning of the death of these sahabah, his close family members.

How does this fit in which chapter? The chapter heading is of the man who narrates the news of the deceased to the family of the deceased himself. Rasul (صلى الله عليه وسلم) personally announced the news of Najashi (his nephew was there and the Muslims of Madinah were his family – that was the first hadeeth of this chapter). In this hadeeth, Rasul (صلى الله عليه وسلم) conveyed the news of the death of these sahabah to both their immediate family as well as their Muslim brothers and sisters in Madinah.