Title: Battle of Mu’tah Part 2
Study the biography of the single greatest human being that ever walked the surface of this earth, whom Allah sent as a Mercy to Mankind.
This lecture was recorded on 11th December 2013
Title: Battle of Mu’tah Part 2
Study the biography of the single greatest human being that ever walked the surface of this earth, whom Allah sent as a Mercy to Mankind.
This lecture was recorded on 11th December 2013
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What happened the next day? The books don’t tell us anything (from the classical books). A later book stresses a technique/strategy Khalid used (but we don’t know where the author got it from so Allah knows best). So this author writes another tactic Khalid used was that he gave the impression that a group of reinforcements were arriving. So the Romans thought reinforcements were coming from Madinah, and this made them worried and paused. In this pause, Khalid ibn Waleed and the muslims managed to escape and achieve total security. Indeed had they left in front of the eyes of the Romans, the Romans and Arab christians would have followed them. But by giving the illusion that reinforcements were coming, the Romans paused for a few hours and this allowed the muslims to escape. How did he give this illusion? One book mentions Khalid told a group of sahaba to spread out thin in a far far away area with sand, and use certain instruments to beat the dust up. So from a distance there is an illusion that hundreds of horseman are coming. But again Allah knows best. The main point is Khalid saved the bulk of the muslim army from what otherwise would have been complete annihilation. So much so only a handful sahaba, up to 20, passed away. Out of 3000! So only 1% passed away, and that is a great victory in and of itself. Faced against more numbers, superior fighting power, superiror weapons etc it was a victory. On the way back they passed by the same village who wounded a sahaba before and they got their revenge on them (again the books don’t mention how).
The question arises: is Mu’tah a victory or loss? There are three opinions:
1. Mu’tah is a big victory. This is the position of Musa ibn Uqtah, Al Bayhaqee (428), ibn Kathir (796). They all felt Mu’tah was a massive victory. Of the things they say:
i) the muslims returned successfully with only 1% casulaities
ii) they took some war booty
iii) their main evidence is what the prophet PBUH himself said. The prophet PBUH told the people of Madinah of the deaths of Zaid, Ja’far and Abdullah as it’s happening, and he is crying and then he said “until a sword from the sword of Allah took it, and Allah gave them VICTORY”. Clearly if the prophet PBUH himself says it is victory, then end of story it is a victory. This is therefore a theological point. The prophet PBUH said it so it’s a victory.
2. Those who are more historians: Al Waqidi, ibn Sa’ad and non muslim historians consider this to be a loss. They look at it from a military position. Why:
i) the muslims lost three very important leaders one after the other and they lost their flag
ii) the muslims had to retreat and the romans remained – generally speaking the one who retreats is the loser
3. It’s neither a victory or a defeat. It’s in fact a draw. This is the position of ibn Ishaaq, ibn Abdul Baar, ibn al Qiyyam – they all say Mu’tah is neutral (similar to Uhud). Why? Because neither side attacked the other at the end of the battle, and the two sides both returned back to their places. Further, neither sides took prisoners of war. In terms of dead, the Romans had a little more but it wasn’t signifcant. Thus since both sides returned back home it’s a tide and draw.
The prophet PBUH said it’s a victory so theologically it’s a victory. At the same time, from a military perspective one can say it’s a loss. Just like Hudaybiyya was a long term victory, short term all of the muslims were angry and saw it as a loss. Even the prophet PBUH said “Allah knows”. So in the short term al Waaqidia and Ibn Sa’ad have a point that the muslims had to retreat, they didn’t conquer even an inch. And of course the third opinion also has a lot of weight: neither the Romans attacked the muslims, rather they let them go. Indeed its a victory in the sense that the sahaba lived, but not militarily. It’s a victory due to the fact that only 1% of the army was massacared. Also some historians try to make every battle positive for the muslims. But rather this dosen’t have to be the case. There is wisdom that some battles don’t come out to be positive. That Allah is showing us sometimes you have to struggle. And this is the same as Uhud. We really don’t have to demonstrate everything has to be read in a certain light. If you don’t find anything negative, how can you relate to it since we ourselves go through negative? Here we have another wisdom and that is that, even the sahaba are human. And sometimes they make a judgement that dosen’t turn out to be the best choice in the short term.
So the sahaba returned back, the prophet PBUH rejoiced at their safe return but within a few days, rumours began to spread, smear campaigns were launched against the people who participated in Mu’tah. How do we know this? The prophet PBUH saw the wife of Salma bint Sham and the prophet PBUH said “what is the matter with Salma? I haven’t seen him”. She said “Ya RasulAllah he has not come out of his house. Every time he exits, people make fun of him and rebuke him and they say ‘oh you who ran away, have you run away from the path of Allah?'” So Salma has remained in his house not leaving out of rebuke. Thus this shows us some of the sahaba felt a bit of positive anger, and the hypocrites felt a way of smearing, so the people who fought in Mu’tah were being mocked and smeared that “you are cowards”. When the prophet PBUH heard this, he said to all of the masjid “they are not runners away, they are ‘the ones who will come back and fight again'”. So the prophet PBUH took the smear, changed one letter (in arabic), and he made a positive word. And subhanAllah this shows us the wisdom of the prophet PBUH that he changed ‘furaar’ meaning ‘runners away’ to ‘quraar’ meaning ‘those who come back to fight’. And this clearly shows us martydom is a goal of all muslims, but it’s not a goal that you try to get foolishly. You don’t walk into a battle and stand there waiting to die. This is not the way otherwide every warrior would just throw his arms and say “come on kill me so I can meet Allah”. Therefore these sahaba returned back – some of the sahaba seemed overzealous and said “how dare you turn your back and run away”. But the prophet PBUH is showing no doubt martydom is a genuine goal of every muslim, but we don’t want foolish and illegitimate martydom. They didn’t run away out of cowards, they protected themselves and escaped so they can fight a proper battle later on.
Last week we mentioned the story of the women of Ja’far wailing. So the prophet PBUH commanded food to be prepared for the women of Ja’far, and so food was prepared. And after three days he visited the wives and the children of Ja’far. And he said “after today let no one cry over my brother”. And subhanAllah he called Ja’far his brother. And he called for the children of Ja’far. There was Abdullah and Muhammad, and Abdullah was the older of the two. And he narrates this hadith – at the time he was around 6/7. So Abdullah is narrating that the prophet PBUH visited him and his family after Ja’far died, and he called for the children to come. And Abdullah said “we looked like baby chickens” i.e. his hair was all disheveled. So the prophet PBUH sees this and orders a barber be called and their hair be trimmed. And then he praises each children. He says “as for Muhammad, he looks just like my uncle Abu Talib”. And Abu Talib is Muhammad ibn Ja’fars grandfather. Then he called for Abdullah “as for Abdullah, he looks just like and acts like me”. SubhanAllah – he is trying to console the children and make them feel special. And Abdullah was the eldest so the prophet PBUH held onto Abdullahs hands, raised it up and said “Oh Allah allow Ja’fars progeny to remain” i.e. bless them and give them barakah. And “Oh Allah bless Abdullah in all his transactions” since he is the main man of the house. And he told them “your fathers hands have been substituted with two wings, and he is flying around in Jannah wherever he wants to go”.
Their mother, Ja’fars wife, Asma bint Umais, was firstly the wife of Ja’far. Then she will marry Abu Bukr RA, and when she marries him, the two of them have Muhammad ibn Abi Bukr. Then Abu Bukr passes away and she marries Ali ibn Abi Talib. So she married Ja’far, Abu Bukr and Ali RA and from each she has children. And of course this shows us the stigma of divorce/widow did not exist among the sahaba. Many sahaba married one after the other. And it’s mentioned when Ali was married to Asma, Muhammad ibn Ja’far and Muhammad ibn Abi Bark are two half brothers. And so they began debating whose lineage is better. And they both say “I am this, I am that, my father is this”. So Ali is sitting there watching them so to tease Asma he says “Ok khalas your mother will be the judge” since she was married to both Ja’far and Abu Bukr. So he calls Asma out and says “you decide between your two sons”. And he puts her on the spot and says “which of the two is better?” Asma bint Umais says “As for the young men, then Ja’far is the sayyid of them – as for the wise, senior men, Abu Bukr is the sayyid of them”. SubhanAllah look at the wisdom. But then Ali says “what have you left for me?” And again it shows us so clearly it is ludicrous to think there were tensions between Abu Bukr and the ahlul Bayt. Here is Ali marrying Abu Bukrs ex-wife; here is Ali joking “which of the two is better, Abu Bukr or my own brother Ja’far?” And it’s so obvious there was no tension amongst these great sahaba. Every incident of the seerah shows us even something as trivial as this, this tension is completely false and only read in.
So Asma bint Umais comes out and begins to complain “Ya RasulAllah these are orphans who will take care of them?” And the prophet PBUH said “are you scared of poverty for them? When I will be the one who will take care of them in this world and the next”. So subhanAllah the prophet PBUH himself took charge of the children of Ja’far. This demonstrates the care and concern of the prophet PBUH for orphans. We also derive interesting sunnah:
1. When a family suffers a death or tragedy, the close family/friends should take charge to prepare and give food. This is proven in this hadith. The prophet PBUH said “make food for the family of Ja’far because something has come that will cause them to be too busy to cook”.
2. It is sunnah to visit and give words of encouragement and consolation.
3. It is sunnah to visit but not for a long time i.e. it’s discouraged to sit for a long time. It’s makrooh to turn that visit into a socialisation session. You sit for an hour or so, and then leave and give them private time. Also it is makrooh for the host family to feed the visitors. It is wrong. The family who have suffered a tragedy, they should not be hosting people who come. It is narrated “we used to consider gathering in the house of the deceased and their preparing food for us apart of the wailing the prophet PBUH forbid”. Note ‘gathering’ means making your visit into a socialisation. And also the host clearly should not prepare food.
4. The prophet PBUH waited for three days – and indeed as we know for 3 days it is allowed to mourn, after which we should stop except for the wife who remains in her idaat. The legitimate mourning is to feel a sense of loss, greif and crying, and altering your lifestyle a little bit i.e. you are so depressed you don’t eat, you take time off work etc. This is halal to do for three days. Beyond this, to beat yourself, wail out loud, cry claims of kufr “who will take care of me?” etc. This is all haraam. So wailing i.e. raising your voice out loud and shrieking, are haraam. And unfortunately it still happens today. And infact the prophet PBUH “four are the things of jaheleya my ummah will never give up, the first is ‘wailing for the deceased'”. So what is allowed is crying without wailing. Our prophet PBUH himself, when the news came he had to sit down. He is so overcome with grief he just sits. And he was crying. Aisha RA says “you could see the grief on his face”. This is all permissable. As we said last week, the family of Ja’far went beyond what’s allowed – the prophet PBUH tried to stop them three times through the messenger until finally when it can’t be done let it be. Until after three days he himself comes and puts an end to it. This shows us that sometimes you cannot enforce perfection in such sensitive matters. Even the extended family of the prophet PBUH, things happen he could not control. After three days, you have to deal with and get to terms with it – so after three days the prophet PBUH came, shaved the boys head, told the woman to stop crying etc. And indeed time heal all wounds. So three days is the maximum time given where the death of someone can change our schedule. Except for the wife who remains in the house for 4 months, 10 days and can mourn for longer which is the ‘iddat’ period.
How about Zaid? He of course had a son who was Usama bin Zaid. And its mentioned after Mu’tah whenever the prophet PBUH would see Usama he would tear up and cry. Because Usama is now 14/15 – just a young man, about to become an adult, and he now loses his father. And Usama resembled Zaid, so the prophet PBUH would tear up and become griefstriken by looking at Usama out of love and the memories for Zaid. And after a few days it’s mentioned the prophet PBUH came to the masjid and there was a group of sahaba huddled up, crying. So the prophet PBUH said “why are you crying?” And they said “why should we not cry when the best of us and the most noble of us have left”. So the prophet PBUH said “but do not cry, for the example of my ummah is like a garden whose owner has cut the leaves and the branches and prepared his houses, so that each year gives a better crop than the last year”. So the prophet PBUH is giving an anology, that for the garden to flourish in the next year, the owner must cut and clean up the garden. “And the messiah (Isa) will meet this ummah, and there will be a group he meets that are like you or even better than you. And Allah will not humiliate an ummah; I am the first and Isa is the last”. SubhanAllah. This hadith is a very beautiful hadith – ibn Hajar says it is hasan but other scholars say it’s slighly weak. The meaning is definately beautiful; it’s so true, that who are the last muslims to pass away in this ummah? It will be a group of people with Isa AS. Perhaps even the last to pass away is Isa AS himself. Hasan ibn Thabit and many other sahaba wrote long lines of poetry for Mu’tah. The point is Mu’tah was one of the most traumatic incidences. Look at the trauma and the grief that was inflicted upon all the sahaba and especially the prophet PBUH, and we see the importance and status of Mu’tah.
There is a side story mentioned: in the battle of Mu’tah, there was also a group of helpers from Yemen. They joined the muslim army to help fight against the Romans and christians. One of them a story is mentioned about: he only had one sword in the fight. When the Romans came near, one of the muslims sacrificed an animal so the man asked whether he could take the skin of the animal and the sahabi said “take it”. So he took it and made a leather armour out of the skin. And there was a Roman with golden armour, and was reaking havoc in the lines of the muslims. So this man attacked him with only goat skin and a single sword. And managed to kill this Roman, maybe general, and he took his horse, armour, weapons etc as booty. And this is the fiqh: the one who kills a soilder gets the booty of that person. When the battle is over, Khalid sees him and says “what is this?” The man said “I killed the Roman so I will get his booty”. But it was so valuable: golden armous, weapons, a beautiful horse etc that Khalid said “this is too much for one soilder! You must give some to the general treasury”.
But the man said “this is the sunnah of the prophet PBUH”. And indeed it was – it was a general rule. And note it applies to an army that’s not paid; the army is voluntary. And so each person gets the booty of whoever he kills, and on top of that a percentage out of the general fund. And remember the one with the horse gets 3x as much as the one without. But Khalid insists “you won’t get all of this” and takes his booty and just gives him a portion. The man says “I will complain to the prophet PBUH”.
The sahaba go back to Madinah, and the man goes to the prophet PBUH and tells him what happened, that Khalid took his booty from him. So the prophet PBUH called Khalid to confirm and he agreed. So the prophet PBUH said “here give it all back”. So Khalid gave him ALL that he earned. At this the man scoffed and mocked Khalid. So the prophet PBUH said “what is this? Why did you say this?” So the man explained “I told him I would complain and your verdict is in my favour”. At this the prophet PBUH became angry with the arrogance of this man. That the man was now boasting “did’t I tell you, you got what you deserved”. So the prophet PBUH said “In that case oh Khalid, do not give it to him”. So this man deserved his booty, but when his arrogance got the better of him, the prophet PBUH needed to send a message. That you cannot treat your leaders and generals in this manner. When you are arrogant it’s a worst sin. Khalid is a new muslim, he made a genuine mistake, he didn’t know the ruling. But this man’s arrogance trumped the fact that he was right. And so in the end he didn’t get anything. And this shows us the danger of arrogance even for the one upon the truth. We also see it’s allowed for a judge to change his ruling then and there. And the prophet PBUH said “aren’t you going to leave my leaders for me?” meaning ‘have you no respect for my leaders that you will mock them (i.e. Khalid) in this manner?’ Note, who appointed Khalid to be a leader? The prophet PBUH? No. The people. Yet he called Khalid ‘HIS’ leader; and this shows us the khalifa whom the people choose, is the khalifa of Allah and His messenger on this Earth. This is sunni doctrine. Basically there’s a hadith which says “the sultan is the representative of Allah on Earth” meaning he is representing the shariah. So as sunni we believe the ruler has a special respect in matters of this dunya. Such hadith are applicable to legitimate Islamic ruler – NOT modern day secular presidents.
This battle is actually mentioned by the Byzantine chronicolers – the non muslim writers. It’s extremely interesting the earliest historian who writes about this (St Theophanes, a monk who wrote a very large book in ancient latin called ‘the Chronicles’ translated into english). This work is the earliest work to mention the prophet PBUH and even the battle of Mu’tah. And Theophanes died 828CE so very early, a few hundreds years after the prophet PBUH dies. And he uses sources we don’t have – and one source is an arab source to discuss the Islamic side of events. And no other Byzanitine chronocilor was so well equipped as St Theophanes was. And very interestingly he mentions the battle of Mu’tah in his large book. He mentions in the year 630 – and he always has the dates according to the Roman emporer and dates according to the civilisation of the time. So he says ‘Heraclius 22nd year’, ‘Abu Bakaras (Abu Bukr) 1st year’. This is a mistake from his side – he is putting Mu’tah in the first year khilafa of Abu Bukr. Obviously he isn’t 100% accurate. And indeed his description of the prophet PBUH is full of stereotypes, but the point is by this time they’ve heard of Islam, the prophet PBUH, the sahaba etc and it’s very interesting to look at things from their perspective. Yes it’s full of inconsistencies, but he is mentioning a new religion, a new prophet etc.
So he says in ‘Heraclius 22nd year’, ‘Abu Bakaras (Abu Bukr) 1st year’ – he says ‘Moammed’ i.e. Muhammad “had appointed four ameers (leaders) to fight the members of an Arab nation that were christian”. Note this is another mistake, the prophet PBUH appointed three but agains its from his side. And he says they came to the village ‘Mukiah’. And he says “in that villiage was stationed ‘Vecarious Theodore'”. Note this ‘Vecaraios’ is actually the brother of Heraclius, and in Islamic sources we too find the brother of Heraclius fought in Mu’tah so this lines up. “And they intended to fall upon the Arabs on the day they sacrificed their idols”. So he is saying the muslims chose a day that was a festival for these arabs. If this is the case, that makes a lot of sense. Our books do not mention anything like this. And he continues: “Vecarious, on learning this from a certain ‘Qurayshite’ (i.e. Qurayshi), called ‘Qutaybas’ who was in his pay” Meaning there was a spy for the Romans and this must have been from the Arab christian community within the Quraysh. And he continues “He gathered all this information, assertained the day and time they would attack, and therefore he himself attacked them at a village called ‘Mutas'”. In our books such a village name is not mentioned. “And he killed three ‘ameers’ and the bulk of the army”. The ‘three ameers’ is true, but the ‘bulk’ is not true. The muslims only lost 1%. And he continues: “one ameer, called Khalid, whom they called ‘the SWORD OF GOD’ escaped”. SubhanAllah. Theophanes is mentioning Khalid as the sword of Allah. They already know Khalid is the one who caused the muslims to escape – why? Because ‘they call him the sword of God’. Meaning, the title which the prophet PBUH gave Khalid had reached the Roman empire! And Theofinees is writing this “they call this man the ‘sword of God'”.
And this is why Khalid ibn Waleed HAD to die in his bed. It is said he was visited by someone and began crying. And he said to the visitor “turn me around look at the front and back, you will not find two fingers on my body except that there is a scar, mark and bruise. Yet here I am dying on my bed”. Khalid has warrior blood, and he dosen’t want to die on his bed. He spent his whole life fighting, yet he is helpless on his bed. He dosen’t understand the wisdom. But all the later scholars say “Khalid was the sword of Allah. And it is not allowed for ANYONE to break the sword of Allah in a battle. Only the one who unsheathed the sword can put it back where it belongs”. SubhanAllah. He’s too holy to die on the battlefield. The one man who did so much, he is actually called the ‘Sword of Allah’, he is not allowed to die in battle.
Final point: the primary benefit of Mu’tah opened up the northen lands. 95% of the battles of the seerah are southern. Mu’tah was the largest battle up north. It was the mother of all northen battles. Mu’tah – we agree the Romans were not defeated, and the christian arabs weren’t defeated, but the reach of the ummah has spread. And the strength of the muslims is established, and fear is put into the hearts of the Arab christian tribes. And we will see, when the prophet PBUH himself marched north, they couldn’t even fight him. There’s no denying Mu’tah had a huge impact. If only 3000 could do so much damage and still escape, what will be done when the real general and commander, the prophet PBUH himself turns up? So when Tabuk takes place, they don’t even show up! They don’t even fight. So it’s the first and only major battle that takes place up north. It’s also the first and only battle with the Romans in the lifetime of the prophet PBUH. Khalid in paticular gets that experiance and he knows the tactics of the Romans, and Allah will use him later on to fight the Romans. Now when does Mu’tah take place? The beginning of the 8th year of Hijrah. The conquest of Mecca is Ramadan 8H. Hajj atul wad’a is the 10th year. The very next incident is the conquest of Mecca. Recall Hudaybiyya is 6th year, Mu’tah is beginning of 8th. During these two years, every single serious threat to the muslims has been eliminated. By going up north, the message has been given “you cannot attack us”. This is the LEAST thing. Recall the gasaanid cheifton said “I will come to Madinah, I will do this and that”. Now he won’t do nothing. Once he’s seen what the muslims are capable off in their own lands they will not move. So Mu’tah was not a pure victory, but the message was delivered which is “don’t mess with us”. Therefore every serious oppisition has gone, the only ‘threat’ left is a weak, pathetic, insignificant Quraysh. They have nothing left and they are all defectiving over. Even Amr ibn Al As, the statesman sees this. And therefore we will be moving on to the pinnacle of seerah, the conquest of Mecca.