The Roman church did not welcome this new atmosphere.
The church could not abide having a different opinion regarding
even minor issues living by its side. How could it then allow the existence of
a religion that denies the authority of its men?
A religion that does not see any mediators between the servants
and their Lord?
Islam also refutes the redemption creed upon which the religion
the church preaches is founded. Islam bases recompense on man’s deeds alone. (That
no bearer of burden (sins) shall bear the burden of another. And that man will
have nothing but what he
It also negates the concept of partnership with Godhead, for the
universe has only One God, and to Him submit ‘Isa (Jesus) and his mother (peace
be upon them). (Who
then has the least power against Allah, if He were to destroy the Messiah, son
of Maryam (Mary), his mother, and all those who are on the earth together? And
to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is
between them. He creates what He wills. And Allah is Able to do all things.)2
Therefore, the Romans judged that they must aim a fatal blow at
Islam, to the north of the Peninsula, that would force it back to where it came
from, and close against it the borders to prevent its escape from there.3
Amid this enmity and warfare against Islam were revealed the
Ayat calling for fighting against those from the People of the Scripture
who disbelieved, hindered people from the Path of Allah U,
and warred against His Religion until they yielded and entered into a covenant
with Muslims, whereby they would be granted the rights of Dhimmis (the
protected or covenanted people) after paying Jizyah (tribute):
against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that
which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who acknowledge
not the religion of truth among the People of the Scripture, until they pay the
Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
And the Jews say,
‘‘Uzair (Ezra) is the son of Allah,’ and the Christians say, ‘Messiah is the
son of Allah.’ That is a saying from their mouths. They imitate the saying of
the disbelievers of old. Allah’s Curse be on them, how they are deluded away
from the truth!
They have taken
their rabbis and monks as lords besides Allah4, and (also) the Messiah, the son of Maryam
(Mary). And they were not commanded except to worship one God; there is no god
except Him. Exalted is He above whatever they associate with Him.
They want to
extinguish the light of
Allah with their mouths, but Allah will not allow except that His Light
should be perfected even though the disbelievers hate it.
It is He Who has sent His Messenger with
guidance and the religion of truth to make it superior over all religions, even
though they who associate
others with Allah hate it.)5
Other Ayat were revealed, encouraging and arousing the
enthusiasm of the Muslims in their struggle against those oppressive regimes
that wanted to extinguish the light of Islam and blockade the way to it:
you who believe! What is the matter with you that, when you are asked to march
forth in the Cause of Allah, you cling heavily to the earth? Are you pleased
with the life of this world rather than the hereafter? But little is the
enjoyment of the life of this world compared to the hereafter.)6
Heraclius could not ignore the great
success that the Battle of Mu’tah had brought to the Muslims, and the diverse
Arab tribes that now aspired to break free from him, gain their independence,
and ally with the Muslims.
It was a real danger marching towards his borders, threatening
the Levantine borderlands adjacent to the Arabs. He decided that the power of
the Muslims must be smashed before it grew into an irrepressible danger.
Motivated by these fears, barely a year had passed after the
Battle of Mu’tah when Heraclius began to muster a huge army from the Romans and
subordinate Arabs, like the Ghassanide and others, to launch a decisive bloody
battle against the Muslims.
The news of a huge army that numbered forty thousand fighters
which Heraclius was preparing – including Lukham, Judham, and other tribes
allied to the Romans – reached the Muslims. Thus, an imminent danger was
threatening the Muslims. The gravity of the situation was intensified by the
adverse circumstances of torrid heat, straitened conditions, and drought, along
with the long, rugged distance that Muslims would have to cover if they
encountered this imminent danger.
The Messenger of Allah r
knew that any delay or passivity in handling the situation might enable the Romans
to pervade the Islamic territories and march to Al-Madinah, which would
endanger the Islamic call and the Muslim
Therefore, despite all hardships, the Messenger of Allah r decided to undertake a decisive expedition – which
the Muslims would carry on against the Romans inside their borders – to
obstruct the invasion of the homeland of Islam.
No sooner had the Muslims heard the voice of the Messenger of
Allah r calling them to fight
the Romans than they rushed to comply with his call. They started getting ready
for war with great speed. Tribes and clans from everywhere began pouring into
Al-Madinah. Almost all the Muslims responded and none stayed behind, except
those sick with doubt or hypocrisy, and three persons.
The Muslims raced with one another to help equip and finance
the expedition. Even the poor people who could not afford a mount came to the
Messenger of Allah r
asking to be provided with one to enable them to participate in Jihad
(striving) against the Romans. When the Messenger of Allah r told them: (“I can find nothing for you to ride upon,”
they turned back, their eyes overflowed with tears out of grief that they could
not find anything to spend (for the Cause of Allah).)7
A great army of thirty thousand fighters was mustered, and with
the Messenger of Allah r marched northwards to
Tabuk. Yet despite all the money generously offered, the army was not
The shortage in provisions and mounts was so serious that
eighteen men had to alternately mount one camel. As for provisions, members of
the army at times had to eat tree leaves to the extent that their lips got
swollen. Some others had to slaughter camels, though they were so dear, to
drink the water stored in their stomach. The army was therefore called “The
Army of Hardship.”
On their way to Tabuk, the Muslim army passed by Al-Hijr,
the rocky tract which was the land
of Thamud, whose people who were shown the path of truth.
But they preferred blindness to guidance, denied the Messengers, and insolently
defied the Command of their Lord. (So the earthquake
seized them, and they lay (dead), prostrate in their homes.)8
Their houses remained an admonitory sign for people to remember.
see how was the end of their plot. Verily, We destroyed them and their nation
all together. These are their houses desolate, for they did wrong. Verily, in
this is indeed an Ayah (a lesson or a sign) for people who know.)9
The Prophet r said to his
Companions, “Do not enter the dwellings of those who received punishment,
unless you are (enter them) weeping, lest you should be afflicted with what
they were afflicted with.”10
then covered his head and proceeded quickly until he crossed the valley. When
the Muslim army reached Tabuk, the Prophet r
commanded, saying, “A strong wind shall blow tonight, so no one should stand
up, and whoever has a camel, should hobble it.” A wind blew at night so
strong as they were told that a man who did not heed the warning and stood up was
carried away to Mount Taiy’.11
The Muslim army camped at Tabuk, ready to face the enemy. Upon
learning of the advance of the Messenger of Allah r,
terror was cast into the hearts of the Romans and their allies by Allah: “I
have been granted victory with awe (cast into the hearts of my enemies).”12 None of
them dared set out to fight. Rather, they scattered inside their territory.
The Prophet’s “Divine Victory” earned the Muslims
a grand reputation that traveled to the furthest ends of Arabia.
The great and serious political profits achieved were far better than any the
Muslims could have procured if the two armies had engaged in military
The King of Ailah, Yahna bin Rawbah, and the people of Jarba’
and Adhruh came to the Messenger of Allah r and concluded peace
treaties with him.
The tribes – who used to ally with the Romans – became quite
certain that their dependence on their former masters had come to an end. All
this turned to the advantage of the Muslims and the Muslim State,
which expanded until it directly adjoined the Roman borders. 13
With the downfall of oppressive forces and
the new breath of freedom, people started entering into the Religion of Allah
Translated meanings of An-Najm 53: 38-39.
Translated meanings of Al-Ma’idah 5: 17.
3 Excerpted from Muhammad
Al-Ghazali, Fiqh As-Sirah, Tabuk.
4 Ibn Kathir reported in his interpretation of this Ayah that ‘Ady
(who was a Christian before Islam) t said, “They did not worship them (rabbis and monks).” The Prophet
r said, “Yes
(they did). They (rabbis and monks) forbade them what is lawful and allowed
them what is unlawful and they followed them. This is how they worshiped them.”
Translated meanings of At-Tawbah 9: 29-33.
Translated meanings of At-Tawbah 9: 38.
Translated meanings of At-Tawbah 9: 92.
Translated meanings of Al-A‘raf 7: 78.
Translated meanings of An-Naml 27: 51-52.
10 Narrated by ‘Abdullah bin
‘Umar bin Al-Khattab: Sahih Al-Bukhary, Book of Al-Magazi, Hadith no.
4068; similar versions of the Hadith are also reported by Al-Bukhary (415,
3129, 3130, 4068, 4333), Muslim (5292, 5293), and Ahmad (4333, 4974, 5090,
5147, 5148, 5387, 5447, 5661, 5934).
11 Narrated by Abu Humaid As-Sa‘idi: Sahih
Al-Bukhary, Book of Zakah, Hadith no. 1387; similar versions by Muslim
(4230) and Ahmad (22498).
12 Narrated by Abu Hurairah: Sahih Muslim, Book of Masjids wa Mawadi‘ As-Salah, Hadith no. 815; similar versions of the Hadith
are also reported by Muslim (812, 813, 814), Al-Bukhary (2755), An-Nasa’y
(3037, 3038), and Ahmad (7269, 7312, 7803, 8778, 9489, 10113).
13 Details of Tabuk: Safi-ur-Rahman Mubarakpuri, Ar-Raheeq
Al-Makhtum, Tabuk Expedition; and Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawiyyah, Tabuk
Expedition, vol. 4.