Life in Madina and Early Battles

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The Call To Prayer

When the Holy Prophet was settled in Madina, some basic reforms were introduced. These included the  institution of prayer, the levy of alms tax, the ordaining of fasting, the prescription of punishments; and  the specification of the lawful and the unlawful.

  In the early days the practice was that the faithful gathered in the mosque for prayer at the appointed  time of their own accord without being summoned. The Holy Prophet, however, felt that with the spread  of Islam, and the growth in the number of the Muslims, some method for the summoning of the faithful to  prayer would have to be adopted. 

At first the Holy Prophet thought of using a trumpet to summon the Muslims to prayer as the Jews did. On  second thoughts he felt that it would not be advisable to imitate the Jews. Then an idea occurred to him  that a clapper should be beaten to summon the faithful to the mosque. 

One night a companion Abdullah bin Zaid had a dream which indicated the way for the summoning of the  Muslims to prayers Abdullah came to the Holy Prophet and narrated his dream in the following terms: 

"In the dream I saw a holy man wearing green garments. He held a clapper in his hand. I asked him to  sell the clapper to me. He asked what for I needed the clapper, and I told him that I needed it for  summoning the Muslims to prayer. He said that the clapper would not sere the purpose. I then asked him  as to what method should be adopted, and he said 'Let some one with a loud voice stand at a suitable  place in the mosque, and give the call 'God is great. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah. Come to  prayer." 

The idea appealed to the Holy Prophet. When it was the time for prayer, the Holy Prophet summoned Bilal  and asked him to give the call to prayer, in the terms of the formula indicated by Abdullah bin Zaid. 

As the stentorian call resounded in the city of Madina, the faithful felt elated and electrified, and they  rushed to the mosque in response to the summons. Umar heard the call in his house, and he hastened to  the mosque dragging his cloak on the ground. He waited on the Holy Prophet, and enquired as to how  the idea of the call to prayer had occurred to him. The Holy Prophet thereupon narrated the dream of  Abdullah bin Zaid, and added that, as the vision appeared to be inspired, he had accepted it, and had the  call given accordingly. Umar said that he too had a similar vision, but was happy that Abdullah bin Zaid  had anticipated him. Umar said that there was however one difference between the formula proposed by  Abdullah and the one that he had heard in his dream. The Holy Prophet anxiously enquired as to what  was the difference. Umar said: 

"According to the formula of Ahdullah bin Zaid we are only to witness that there is no god but Allah. In the  call that I heard in my dream there were also the words 'I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger  of God." 

Thereupon the Holy Prophet instructed Bilal that in the call to prayer, the expression "I bear witness that  Muhammad is the Messenger of God" should be included. 

Turning to Abdullah bin Zaid, and Umar the Holy Prophet said, "Praise be to God. There are men among  my followers to whom truth is revealed in dreams."

When Umar Slew The Men Who Appealed To Him

When the Holy Prophet came to Madina all the people except the Jews were converted to Islam. Most of  them were sincere and earnest in their faith in Islam. Some of them in spite of their profession of Islam  were hypocrites and indulge in activities hostile to Islam. There were some among them on whom Islam  sat lightly and who did not fully realize the spirit of Islam or the status of the Holy Prophet. 

It is recorded on the authority of Abul Aswad that two persons of Madina who professed Islam but did not  realize its full significance had a dispute among themselves and took the matter to the Holy Prophet for  decision. After hearing both the parties, the Holy Prophet gave his decision in favor of one person. The  other person felt dissatisfied, and at his instance both of them went to Umar and the aggrieved person  lodged an appeal with Umar against the decision of the Holy Prophet. 

After hearing both the parties, Umar said to the man who had filed the appeal: "So you are dissatisfied  with the decision of the Holy Prophet, and want me to reverse his decision." 

"Yes, that is so," said the man 

"And are you a Muslim," enquired Umar. 

The man said, "Yes, I am." 

Thereupon Umar said, "Wait for a while. I will soon give my decision that would satisfy you." 

Umar went inside the house and brought his sword. With the sword Umar smote the appellant saying,  "Woe to you, you regard yourself a Muslim and yet choose to appeal to me against the decision of the  Holy Prophet. You are an infidel, and the penalty for your infidelity is death." 

The other man went to the Holy Prophet and complained that Umar had killed his companion. 

The Holy Prophet summoned Umar and put him to explanation. Umar said, "The man wanted me to hear  an appeal against the decision of the Holy Prophet, and for this impudence he deserved the punishment  of death." 

The Holy Prophet deferred the decision on the case till God gave some light on the matter. 

Soon God revealed that he who had no confidence in the Holy Prophet was no believer. As such Umar  was justified in killing the man who had by his action expressed want of faith in the Holy Prophet. 

The Holy Prophet accordingly absolved Umar of the charge of murdering a believer.

Battle Of Uhud

The battle of Uhud was an extension of the battle of Badr. 

The Quraish of Mecca came with a force of 3,000 men to avenge the defeat of Badr. The Muslims could  muster a force of 1000 persons only, and out of these three hundred persons under Abdullah bin Ubbay a  hypocrite withdrew at the last moment thus leaving only 700 persons to face the hostile Quraish. 

The Holy Prophet arranged his force in battle array and posted a small contingent of archers to guard a  vulnerable passage in the rear. The archers were instructed that they were not to leave their positions at  any cost unless otherwise directed by the Holy Prophet. 

With the Quraish was a contingent of women. They beat drums and sang songs to excite their men to  action. They sang: 

"We are the daughters of the morning star; 

We tread on carpets; 

If you advance we embrace you; 

If you turn back we leave you." 

The Quraish charged with full force, but the Muslims held fast. Then in the counter attack the Muslims  broke the enemy line, and the Quraish fell back. At this stage the contingent of the Muslim archers,  contrary to instructions, left their position in order to plunder the camp of the retreating Quraish. Khalid  who was still a non-Muslim, and was fighting on the side of the Quraish rushed with his contingent and  occupied the position vacated by the Muslim archers. The Quraish rallied, and launched an attack on the  Muslims both from the front as well as the rear. In the confusion that followed, many Muslims were  martyred. Even the Holy Prophet was wounded seriously, and he fell in a pit where many of his followers  lay dead. Thereupon a cry rose from the ranks of the enemy that they had killed the Prophet of Islam. 

When the news of the Holy Prophet's death got wind, panic seized some of the Muslims, and thinking that  all was over, they fled to Madina According to tradition when Umar heard the news that the Holy Prophet  had died, he flung his arms declaring that it was no use fighting any longer. 

It is related that Anas b Nadar passing by Umar asked him how it had fared with the Prophet. Umar  replied that he had heard that the Prophet had been killed. Anas observed that the Prophet's death  should not prevent him from fighting in the way of Allah, for Allah was alive. Saying this Anas rushed at  the infidels, and was martyred after having received seventy wounds. 

Later, the Holy Prophet was found lying in a pit. At this stage Ali, Abu Bakr, Umar, Talha, Zubair, and  Harith gathered round the Prophet, and removed him to a place of safety. 

Abu Sufiyan the leader of the Quraish climbed a hillock and shouted, "Is Muhammad there?" The Holy  Prophet asked his companions to remain quiet. 

Abu Sufiyan then called for Abu Bakr and Umar. No reply was made, and thereupon Abu Sufiyan shouted,  "All of them have been killed.' 

At this Umar could not restrain himself, and shouted in reply, "O enemy of Allah, all of us are alive." 

Abu Sufiyan in a mood of exultation cried, "Hubbal glory to thee." 

Umar retorted, "Only Allah is Most High and Great. " 

Abu Sufiyan said, "We have Uzza with us, and you have no lord." 

Umar retaliated, "Allah is our Lord, and you have no lord." 

When the two armies withdrew from the battle-field, seventy Muslims lay dead on the battle-field. In the  battle the Quraish had the upper hand. They felt satisfied that they had avenged their defeat at Badr.  The Quraish were in no mood to press their advantage to march to Madina. They chose to return to  Mecca.

The Man Whom Umar Envied

Wahab bin Qabus was a shepherd who lived in a village near Madina. One day he came to Madina to see  the Holy Prophet. He was accompanied by his nephew, and his herd of goats. 

In Madina, Wahab came to know that the Holy Prophet had left for Uhud where he was fighting against  the Quraish. He left his nephew and his goats at Madina, and himself proceeded to Uhud. 

When he reached Uhud, the battle was at its thickest. A group of the Quraish was at the time advancing  to attack the Holy Prophet. It was a critical situation, and turning to his companions the Holy Prophet  said: 

"He who disperses these people will be my companion in the Paradise." 

Hearing the call, Wahab rushed at the advancing Quraish. Some were killed and the rest were put to  flight. The Holy Prophet watched Wahab overpower the Quraish group single handed. When Wahab after  the flight of the Quraish came to the Holy Prophet, he was given the tidings of Paradise. Wahab was  intoxicated with pleasure at these tidings. 

As soon as he heard these tidings, Wahab took his sword, and rushed to the enemy line. He dashed  against the enemy as a hill torrent would dash against the rock making its way. Killing right and left he  penetrated deep into the enemy line. He was surrounded by the enemy on all sides. He received many  wounds but he went on playing havoc in the ranks of the enemy. The blood flowed profusely from his  wounds, and then he fell dead on the battle-field. 

When the battle was over, and the Muslims collected the dead bodies of all the martyrs, the Holy Prophet  stood by his dead body and said: 

"O Wahab, you have pleased me. May Allah be pleased with you." 

Although the Holy Prophet was himself wounded, he led the funeral prayer of Wahab, and put him in the  grave with his own hands. Umar who was present said that in the battle of Uhud none surpassed Wahab  in bravery. 

Thereafter Umar used to say often: 

"I never envied anybody more than Wahab. I wish I could appear before Allah with a record as good as  his."


Hafsa was the daughter of Umar. Her mother was Zainab, a sister of Usman bin Mazur an eminent  Companion. Abdullah was a real brother of Hafsa. 

In Mecca, Hafsa was married to Khunays bin Hudhaifa of the Banu Sahm clan of the Quraish. Khunays was  one of the early converts to Islam. He participated in two migrations, migration to Abyssinia and the  migration to Madina, and was blessed by the Holy Prophet. 

In Madina, Khunays participated in the battle of Badr. He also fought in the battle of Uhud. He was  wounded in the battle of Uhud. These wounds proved fatal, and he died shortly after the battle of Uhud.  Hafsa thus became a widow at a very young age. 

Umar felt much distressed at the grief of his daughter. After the period of Iddat was over, Umar thought  of remarrying her. Like her father, Hafsa was hot of temper. Umar felt that it would be advisable if she  was married to an elderly man of a sober temperament. 

Umar's choice fell on Abu Bakr. Umar went to Abu Bakr, and offered him the hand of Hafsa. Umar had  hoped that Abu Bakr would enthusiastically welcome the proposal. Umar was, however, disappointed, for  Abu Bakr remained quiet and evaded the issue. Umar felt distressed that his friend Abu Bakr had not  grasped the hand of friendship that he had extended to him. 

Umar next went to see Usman. Usman had been married to Ruqayya, a daughter of the Holy Prophet.  Ruqayya had died. Umar offered him the hand of Hafsa. Usman asked for some time to consider the  matter. When Umar saw Usman a few days later, Usman said that his grief over the death of Ruqayya  was so overwhelming that he did not contemplate another marriage. 

Umar felt very angry at the rejection of his proposal by Abu Bakr and Usman. Brimming with rage, Umar  went to see the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet greeted him with a smile and asked tenderly what was  worrying him? Umar poured out the grief of his heart, and complained against Abu Bakr and Usman who  had turned down the hand of friendship that he had extended to them. 

The Holy Prophet addressed Umar with great affection and said, "Umar, I know of your worries and I also  know of your services to Islam. Rest assured, Hafsa will marry a man better than Usman, and Usman will  marry a lady better than Hafsa." 

This meant that the Holy Prophet himself wanted to wed Hafsa. Umar was overwhelmed with joy at this  great honor beyond his aspirations. Umar reverently kissed the hand of the Holy Prophet in token of his  gratitude. He hurried home, and told Hafsa of the happy news. 

Then he went to Abu Bakr. From the face of Umar radiating happiness, Abu Bakr judged of the  developments. Addressing Umar he offered apologies and said, "The Holy Prophet had spoken to me  about Hafsa, and as such I could not accept your proposal. But for that it would have been a great  honor and pleasure for me to agree to your proposal." 

Umar then went to Usman. Usman offered apologies and said, "The Holy Prophet had talked to me over  the matter. He had offered me the hand of his younger daughter Umm Kulsum, and he had expressed the  desire to marry Hafsa himself. Under these circumstances I could not accept your proposal." 

In A.D. 625 Hafsa was married to the Holy Prophet that elevated the status of Umar and brought him at  par with Abu Bakr, as both of them enjoyed the unique privilege of being the fathers-in-law of the Holy  Prophet.

The Jews

In Madina there was a considerable number of Jews. They were wealthy and commanded influence. The  Holy Prophet followed the policy of "live and let live". He accordingly entered into a treaty with the Jews.  According to the terms of the treaty the Jews were to enjoy religious freedom and there was to be no  interference in the religious affairs of the Jews by the Muslims. The Muslims and the Jews were to be on  friendly terms and were to help each other in the promotion of objects of mutual interest. It was  stipulated that the Muslims and the Jews would help each other in case of an attack by an enemy. No  party was to give protection to the Quraish, and in case the Quraish invaded Madina both the Muslims  and the Jews were to join in the defense of the city. 

The Jews knew that in their holy books there were references to the advent of a prophet in Arabia. They  were under the impression that the prophet would rise from their midst. When the Holy Prophet appeared  from the ranks of the Quraish in Mecca, the Jews recognized in him all the signs of prophethood foretold in  their sacred books. When the Holy Prophet came to Madina the Jews thought that he would be  subservient to them. When the Holy Prophet followed an independent policy, the Jews embarked on a  campaign of ridiculing Islam, and resorted to activities hostile to the Muslims. 

Umar knew Hebrew, and he could talk with the Jews in their own language. Umar was a trader, and he  had business contacts with the Jews. Out of the Muslims, Umar was popular with the Jews. One day the  Jews gave him a copy of the Torah. Umar brought the copy to the Holy Prophet and said, "Messenger of  God, this is a copy of the torah." Other companions including Abu Bakr were sitting with the Holy Prophet.  The Holy Prophet paid no attention to what Umar had said. When Umar received no reply he began to  read some passages from the Torah to the obvious displeasure of the Holy Prophet. Turning to Umar, Abu  Bakr said, "Confound you, do you not see how God's Messenger is looking?" Umar looked at the Holy  Prophet and said "I seek refuge in God from the anger of God and His Messenger. We are satisfied with  God as Lord, with Islam as religion, and with Muhammad as prophet". Then the Holy Prophet said, "By Him  in Whose hands Muhammad's life is, were Moses to appear to you, and you were to follow him and  abandon me, you would err from the right path. Were he alive and come in touch with my prophetic  mission, he would follow me." And then referring to the Jews the Holy Prophet said, "The Jews betrayed  their own prophet; how can they be your friend?" 

Umar asked some of his Jew friends whether there were any references to the Prophet Muhammad  (peace be on him) in their scriptures. They answered the question in the affirmative. "Then why don't you  accept him" asked Umar, and they said, " God sends him messages through Gabriel and Gabriel is our  enemy." Umar told of this talk to the Holy Prophet. A few days later, God revealed to the Holy Prophet: 

"O Apostle tell them, 

Whosoever is the enemy of Gabriel, 

Let him be so at his peril. 

Verily God is the enemy of infidels." 2: 97-98 

After this revelation, Umar broke up all contacts with the Jews. 

When one of the Jewish tribes in Madina, Bani Qainuqa violated the terms of the treaty with the Muslims,  the Holy Prophet consulted his companions as to the action to be taken against the Jews. Some of the  companions were in favor of conciliation, but Umar counseled that they should be expelled from Madina.  They were accordingly expelled from Madina. 

The Jews of the Banu Nadir clan affected to be submissive, and they were allowed to remain in Madina.  Some time in A.D., 626 the Holy Prophet along with Abu Bakr and Umar went to the Banu Nadir Jews to  claim blood money for a man murdered by a Jew. The Jews affected great humility, spoke words of  flattery, and assured the Holy Prophet that they would comply with any order that he issued. As such  they assured that the blood money demanded would be paid. Secretly the Jews deputed a man to climb  on the roof of the house where they were sitting and from there hurl a stone on the head of the Holy  prophet, as if it was an accident. It was revealed to the Holy Prophet that the Jews meant mischief. 

The Holy Prophet accordingly rose from the place where he was sitting and returned home. His  companions followed suit. The next day the Holy Prophet deputed Umar to tell the Jews that they should  evacuate Madina. They hesitated. There followed a skirmish in which the Jews were overpowered. They  were accordingly deported from Madina. Some of them went to Khyber and some went to Syria.

Battle Of The Trench

In A.D. 627 the Muslims had to face the combined opposition of the Quraish, the Jews, and some other  tribes. The Quraish and their allies mustered a force ten thousand strong and marched to Madina. 

The Holy Prophet was advised that a face to face fight against such a large force was not possible for the  Muslims, and the safest course for them was to remain on the defensive. It was accordingly decided that  a deep and wide trench should be dug round Madina for protective purposes. 

The entire Muslim community in Madina was turned to dig the trench. When the Muslims dug the trench  the following war song was on their lips: 

"By God, had not Allah guided us, we would not have seen the right path, nor given Sadaqah, nor offered  the prayers; 

May Allah bestow on us confidence and calmness of mind, and make our steps firm to face the enemy. 

The enemy has risen against us, and he intends insurrection, but we refuse to submit. 

O God there is no welfare except that of the next world; 

Shower Thy Grace on the Ansars and the Muhajirs". 

The site for the trench was demarcated by the Holy Prophet. He allotted ten yards of trench to be dug by  each party of ten persons. One of such parties was led by Umar. Later a mosque known as Umar Masjid  was constructed near the site where Umar and his party had dug the trench. 

When the Quraish and their allies arrived they found that a wide and deep trench which could not be  crossed lay between them and the Muslims. This was a mode of warfare with which the Quraish were not  familiar. They camped beyond the trench and decided to besiege the Muslims. 

The Holy Prophet divided the trench into a number of sectors and a contingent was posted to guard each  sector. One of such contingents was under the command of Umar. One day the Quraish assaulted the  sector commanded by Umar, and tried to carry the entrenchment by storm. Umar reinforced by Zubair  beat back the enemy with a heavy hand and many Quraish were killed. 

On another occasion Umar's contest with the Quraish was so prolonged that the time for the afternoon  prayers passed away. After making the enemy beat a retreat, Umar came to the Holy Prophet, and told  him how the enemy had kept him so hotly engaged that he had missed his afternoon prayers. The Holy  Prophet said that he himself had not offered his afternoon prayers by that time. Then the Holy Prophet  led the prayers and Umar and other companions offered their prayers. 

The siege prolonged for a month, and the Muslims were subjected to great hardships. Food ran short,  and subsistence I became a problem. The Muslims nevertheless persevered and hoped that God would  come to their relief. 

And God did come to the relief of the Muslims. There were dissensions in the camp of the enemy.  Provisions with lifted ran short. Above all a strong storm lashed the country side. The Muslims were safe  in their houses in Madina, but the Quraish who had to bear the brunt of the storm in the open were  unnerved. Abu Sufiyan ordered that the sedge should be lifted, and the Quraish should withdraw to  Mecca. Their allies also left. 

The Muslims had the upper hand on account of their unusual perseverance against heavy odds and the  inspired leadership of the Holy Prophet.

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