The Prohibition of Obeying the Disbelievers; the Cause of Defeat at Uhud
Allah warns His believing servants against obeying the disbelievers and hypocrites, because such obedience leads to utter destruction in this life and the Hereafter. This is why Allah said,
(If you obey those who disbelieve, they will send you back on your heels, and you will turn back (from faith) as losers) 3:149.
Allah also commands the believers to obey Him, take Him as their protector, seek His aid and trust in Him. Allah said,
(Nay, Allah is your protector, and He is the best of helpers).
Allah next conveys the good news that He will put fear of the Muslims, and feelings of subordination to the Muslims in the hearts of their disbelieving enemies, because of their Kufr and Shirk. And Allah has prepared torment and punishment for them in the Hereafter. Allah said,
(We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve, because they joined others in worship with Allah, for which He sent no authority; their abode will be the Fire and how evil is the abode of the wrongdoers). In addition, the Two Sahihs recorded that Jabir bin `Abdullah said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(I was given five things that no other Prophet before me was given. I was aided with fear the distance of one month, the earth was made a Masjid and clean place for me, I was allowed war booty, I was given the Intercession, and Prophets used to be sent to their people, but I was sent to all mankind particularly.)
(And Allah did indeed fulfill His promise to you) 3:152,
in the beginning of the day of Uhud,
(when you were killing them), slaying your enemies,
(with His permission), for He allowed you to do that against them,
(until when you Fashiltum). Ibn Jurayj said that Ibn `Abbas said that Fashiltum means, `lost courage’.
(and fell to disputing about the order, and disobeyed) such as the mistake made by the archers,
(after He showed you what you love), that is, victory over the disbelievers,
(Among you are some that desire this world) referring to those who sought to collect the booty when they saw the enemy being defeated,
(and some that desire the Hereafter. Then He made you flee from them, that He might test you).
This Ayah means, Allah gave them the upper hand to try and test you, O believers,
(but surely, He forgave you),
He forgave the error you committed, because, and Allah knows best, the idolators were many and well supplied, while Muslims had few men and few supplies.
Al-Bukhari recorded that Al-Bara’ said, “We met the idolators on that day (Uhud) and the Prophet appointed `Abdullah bin Jubayr as the commander of the archers. He instructed them, `Retain your position, and if you see that we have defeated them, do not abandon your positions. If you see that they defeated us, do not rush to help us.’ The disbelievers gave flight when we met them, and we saw their women fleeing up the mountain while lifting up their clothes revealing their anklets and their legs. So, the companions (of `Abdullah bin Jubayr) said, `The booty, the booty!’ `Abdullah bin Jubayr said, `Allah’s Messenger commanded me not to allow you to abandon your position.’ They refused to listen, and when they left their position, Muslims were defeated and seventy of them were killed. Abu Sufyan shouted, `Is Muhammad present among these people’ The Prophet said, `Do not answer him.’ Then he asked, `Is the son of Abu Quhafah (Abu Bakr) present among these people’ The Prophet said, `Do not answer him.’ He asked again, `Is the son of Al-Khattab (`Umar) present among these people As for these (men), they have been killed, for had they been alive, they would have answered me.’ `Umar could not control himself and said (to Abu Sufyan), `You lie, O enemy of Allah! The cause of your misery is still present.’ Abu Sufyan said, `O Hubal, be high!’ On that the Prophet said (to his Companions), `Answer him back.’ They said, `What shall we say’ He said, `Say, Allah is Higher and more Sublime.’ Abu Sufyan said, `We have the (idol) Al-`Uzza, and you have no `Uzza.’ The Prophet said, `Answer him back.’ They asked, `What shall we say’ He said, `Say, Allah is our protector and you have no protector.’ Abu Sufyan said, `Our victory today is vengeance for yours in the battle of Badr, and in war (the victory) is always undecided and is shared in turns by the belligerents. You will find some of your killed men mutilated, but I did not urge my men to do so, yet I do not feel sorry for their deed.”‘ Only Al-Bukhari collected this Hadith using this chain of narration. cMuhammad bin Ishaq said that, `Abdullah bin Az-Zubayr narrated that Az-Zubayr bin Al-`Awwam said, “By Allah! I saw the female servants and female companions of Hind (Abu Sufyan’s wife) when they uncovered their legs and gave flight. At that time, there was no big or small effort separating us from capturing them. However, the archers went down the mount when the enemy gave flight from the battlefield, seeking to collect the booty. They uncovered our back lines to the horsemen of the disbelievers, who took the chance and attacked us from behind. Then a person shouted, `Muhammad has been killed.’ So we pulled back, and the disbelievers followed us, after we had killed those who carried their flag, and none of them dared to come close the flag, until then.”‘ Muhammad bin Ishaq said next, “The flag of the disbelievers was left on the ground until `Amrah bint `Alqamah Al-Harithiyyah picked it up and gave it to the Quraysh who held it.”
(Then He made you flee from them, that He might test you) 3:152.
Al-Bukhari recorded that Anas bin Malik said, “My uncle Anas bin An-Nadr was absent from the battle of Badr. He said, `I was absent from the first battle the Prophet fought (against the pagans). (By Allah) if Allah gives me a chance to fight along with the Messenger of Allah, then Allah will see how (bravely) I will fight.’ On the day of Uhud when the Muslims turned their backs and fled, he said, `O Allah! I apologize to You for what these (meaning the Muslims) have done, and I denounce what these pagans have done.’ Then he advanced lifting his sword, and when Sa`d bin Mu`adh met him, he said to him, `O Sa`d bin Mu`adh! Where are you! Paradise! I am smelling its aroma coming from before (Mount) Uhud,’ and he went forth, fought and was killed. We found more than eighty stab wounds, sword blows or arrow holes on his body, which was mutilated so badly that none except his sister could recognize him, and she could only do so by his fingers or by a mole.” This is the narration reported by Al-Bukhari, Muslim also collected a similar narration from Thabit from Anas.
The Defeat that the Muslims Suffered During the Battle of Uhud
((And remember) when you (Tus`iduna) ran away dreadfully without casting even a side glance at anyone), and Allah made the disbelievers leave you after you went up the mount, escaping your enemy. Al-Hasan and Qatadah said that, Tus`iduna, means, `go up the mountain’.
(without even casting a side glance at anyone) meaning, you did not glance at anyone else due to shock, fear and fright.
(and the Messenger was in your rear calling you back), for you left him behind you, while he was calling you to stop fleeing from the enemy and to return and fight.
As-Suddi said, “When the disbelievers attacked Muslim lines during the battle of Uhud and defeated them, some Muslims ran away to Al-Madinah, while some of them went up Mount Uhud, to a rock and stood on it. On that, the Messenger of Allah kept heralding, `Come to me, O servants of Allah! Come to me, O servants of Allah!’ Allah mentioned that the Muslims went up the Mount and that the Prophet called them to come back, and said,
((And remember) when you ran away without even casting a side glance at anyone, and the Messenger was in your rear calling you back).” Similar was said by Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah, Ar-Rabi` and Ibn Zayd.
The Ansar and Muhajirin Defended the Messenger
Al-Bukhari recorded that Qays bin Abi Hazim said, “I saw Talhah’s hand, it was paralyzed, because he shielded the Prophet with it.” meaning on the day of Uhud. It is recorded in the Two Sahihs that Abu `Uthman An-Nahdi said, “On that day (Uhud) during which the Prophet fought, only Talhah bin `Ubaydullah and Sa`d remained with the Prophet.”
Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib said, “I heard Sa`d bin Abi Waqqas saying, `The Messenger of Allah gave me arrows from his quiver on the day of Uhud and said, `Shoot, may I sacrifice my father and mother for you.”‘ Al-Bukhari also collected this Hadith. The Two Sahihs recorded that Sa`d bin Abi Waqqas said, “On the day of Uhud, I saw two men wearing white clothes, one to the right of the Prophet and one to his left, who were defending the Prophet fiercely. I have never seen these men before or after that day.” Meaning angels Jibril and Mika’il, peace be upon them.
Abu Al-Aswad said that, `Urwah bin Az-Zubayr said, “Ubayy bin Khalaf of Bani Jumah swore in Makkah that he would kill the Messenger of Allah . When the Messenger was told of his vow, he said, `Rather, I shall kill him, Allah willing.’ On the day of Uhud, Ubayy came while wearing iron shields and proclaiming, `May I not be saved, if Muhammad is saved.’ He then headed to the direction of the Messenger of Allah intending to kill him, but Mus`ab bin `Umayr, from Bani Abd Ad-Dar, intercepted him and shielded the Prophet with his body, and Mus`ab bin `Umayr was killed. The Messenger of Allah saw Ubayy’s neck exposed between the shields and helmet, stabbed him with his spear, and Ubayy fell from his horse to the ground. However, no blood spilled from his wound. His people came and carried him away while he was moaning like an ox. They said to him, `Why are you so anxious, it is only a flesh wound’ Ubayy mentioned to them the Prophet’s vow, `Rather, I shall kill Ubayy’, then commented, `By He in Whose Hand is my soul! If what hit me hits the people of Dhul-Majaz (a popular pre-Islamic marketplace), they would all have perished.’ He then died and went to the Fire,
(So, away with the dwellers of the blazing Fire!) 67:11.”
This was collected by Musa bin `Uqbah from Az-Zuhri from Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib.
It is recorded in the Two Sahih that when he was asked about the injuries the Messenger sustained in Uhud, Sahl bin Sa`d said, “The face of Allah’s Messenger was injured, his front tooth was broken and his helmet was smashed on his head. Therefore, Fatimah, the daughter of Allah’s Messenger washed off the blood while `Ali was pouring water on her hand. When Fatimah saw that the bleeding increased more by the water, she took a mat, burnt it, and placed the ashes in the wound of the Prophet and the blood stopped oozing out.” Allah said next,
(There did Allah give you one distress after another) 3:153,
He gave you grief over your grief. Ibn `Abbas said, `The first grief was because of the defeat, especially when it was rumored that Muhammad was killed. The second grief was when the idolators went up the mount and The Messenger of Allah said, `O Allah! It is not for them to rise above us.”‘
`Abdur-Rahman bin `Awf said, “The first distress was because of the defeat and the second when a rumor started that Muhammad was killed, which to them, was worse than defeat.” Ibn Marduwyah recorded both of these. Mujahid and Qatadah said, “The first distress was when they heard that Muhammad was killed and the second when they suffered casualties and injury.” It has also been reported that Qatadah and Ar-Rabi` bin Anas said that it was the opposite order. As-Suddi said that the first distress was because of the victory and booty that they missed and the second because of the enemy rising above them (on the mount). Allah said,
(by way of requital to teach you not to grieve for that which had escaped you), for that you missed the booty and triumph over your enemy.
(nor for what struck you), of injury and fatalities, as Ibn `Abbas, `Abdur-Rahman bin `Awf, Al-Hasan, Qatadah and As-Suddi stated. Allah said next,
(And Allah is Well-Aware of all that you do.) all praise is due to Him, and thanks, there is no deity worthy of worship except Him, the Most High, Most Honored.