The Mu’tah Expedition (8 AH) - I

The Mu’tah Expedition (8 AH) - I
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Its Causes and Date 

The Arabs of Ash-Shaam (greater Syria) incited war between the Muslims and the Byzantines. ‎The tribe of Kalb, a branch of the greater Qudhaa‘ah tribe, which was living at Doomat Al-Jandal, kept creating problems for the ‎Muslims. It tried to impose a type of economic ‎embargo against the Muslims by attacking merchants who carried ‎important goods from Ash-Shaam to Madeenah. This is why the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) attacked the tribe of Kalb ‎at Doomat Al-Jandal in 5 AH. Nevertheless, by the time he reached them, he found that they had already fled from the area.
 
Similarly, some men from the Juthaam and Lakhm tribes attacked Dihyah bin Khaleefah AI-Kalbi, may Allah be pleased with him at a place called Hisma when he was returning to Madeenah after undertaking a mission to which the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) had assigned him. They robbed him and seized all that was with him. This incident resulted in Zayd bin Haarithah's expedition to Hisma ‎in 6 AH.
 
Then, in the same year, the tribes of Math-hij and Qudhaa‘ah ‎attacked Zayd bin Haarithah, may Allah be pleased with him, and his companions, whose mission ‎was to go to Waadi Al-Quraa and invite its inhabitants to Islam. ‎
 
After the conclusion of The Al-Hudaybiyah Peace Treaty, the Arabs of the north became more hostile towards the Muslims, especially after the death of Al-Haarith bin ‘Umayr Al-Azdi, may Allah be pleased with him, who was the messenger of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) to the ‎ruler of Busra. The ruler of Busra (‎Shurahbeel bin ‘Amr Al-Ghassaani‎), who was the viceroy of the Byzantine Emperor, killed the envoy of the Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) in a ‎blatant violation of the customary convention that bans killing ambassadors and messengers.
 
Furthermore, Al-Haarith bin Abi Shamir Al-Ghassaani, ‎the ruler of Damascus, gave a poor and hostile welcome to the Prophet's ‎messenger and warned that he would wage war against Madeenah. A little more than a year afterwards, the Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) sent ‘Amr bin Ka‘b Al-Ghifaari, may Allah be pleased with him, at the head of a delegation ‎ to invite the inhabitants of Thaat ‎Atlaah to Islam.
 
However, the people of the area did not respond to their invitation; rather, they surrounded the ‎delegates from all sides and attacked them killing them all save their ‎leader, who, despite his injuries, managed to escape. He made his way ‎back to Madeenah and informed the Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) about ‎what had happened.‎
 
Goaded on by the Byzantine Empire, the Christians of ‎Ash-Shaam persecuted whoever embraced Islam from the inhabitants of the region as well as those who even thought about embracing it. They killed the governor of Ma‘aan once they ‎found out that he had become a Muslim. Similarly, the ruler of Ash-Shaam killed ‎all the Arab inhabitants of that area who had embraced Islam.
 
These tragic events, especially the death of the ambassador of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) (Al-Haarith bin ‘Umayr Al-Azdi, may Allah be pleased with him) aroused the ire of the Muslims, and motivated ‎them to put a stop to the aggressive acts of the Christians. The Muslims wanted to exact revenge ‎for the deaths of their brothers, who had been killed only because they said, “Our Lord is Allah and our Prophet is ‎Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah.”
 
Therefore, one of the chief goals of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) was to teach a stern ‎lesson to the Arabs of Ash-Shaam. These Arabs were living under the ‎authority of the Byzantine Empire and perpetrated many provocative acts against the Muslims and committed crimes against their delegates. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) realized that preventing similar aggressive acts in the future would require establishing a ‎presence in the area and necessitated instilling fear, or at least respect, into the ‎hearts of its inhabitants. In such a case, the merchants would be able to travel safely from Ash-Shaam to Madeenah and import the vital goods it needed.‎
 
In the 8th year AH., the Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) ordered his Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, to ‎make preparations to fight. They immediately responded to his call and mobilized as they had never done so before. The expedition consisted of three thousand ‎fighters. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) appointed three leaders to succeed each other. Those leaders were Zayd bin ‎Haarithah, Ja‘far bin Abi Taalib, and ‘Abdullaah bin Rawaahah, may Allah be pleased with them. Imam Al-Bukhari  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him narrated on the authority of ‎‎‘Abdullaah bin ‘Umar bin Al-Khattaab, may Allah be pleased with him and his father, that, "The Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) appointed Zayd bin Haarithah as the commander of the army during the Battle of Mu’tah and said: ‘If Zayd is martyred, Ja‘far should take over his position, and if Ja‘far is martyred, ‘Abdullaah bin Rawaahah should take over his position.’”
 
The Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) commanded the army to go to the very ‎place where AI-Haarith bin ‘Umayr Al-Azdi, may Allah be pleased with him, was killed and invite ‎its people to Islam. If they responded, then the matter would end there; otherwise, the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) commanded the Muslim army to fight them seeking the help of Allah The Exalted.
 
The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) provided the Muslim army in this expedition (as well as the others) with recommendations that reflect the manners of war in Islam. He commanded his Companions saying: “Fear Allah and be kind to the Muslim soldiers going with you. Defeat in the name of Allah whoever disbelieves in Allah. Do not be treacherous or kill a child, a woman, an old man, or a secluded worshipper in his solitude. Do not cut a tree or a palm tree and do not destroy a building. When you meet your polytheist enemies, offer them one of three options: embracing Islam, paying the Jizyah or going to war…”
 
Bidding Farewell to the Muslim Army‎
 
Once the army was mobilized and its preparations were completed, the ‎Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) accompanied by the Muslims went to bid farewell to the army supplicating to Allah The Almighty to grant victory to his brothers. Extending ‎greetings of peace to them, the Muslims bade farewell to the army with this ‎supplication, “May Allah The Almighty defend you, and bring you back pious and victorious.” ‎
 
‘Abdullaah bin Rawaahah's farewell was particularly emotional. For a ‎reason unknown to those who were bidding him farewell, he began weeping uncontrollably. The people were ‎amazed and asked, “O Ibn Rawaahah, why do you weep?” He said, “By Allah, I do not weep because I love this world; rather, I heard the Messenger of Allah reciting a Quranic verse in ‎which Hell is mentioned. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {And there is none of you except he will come to it. This is upon your Lord an inevitability decreed.} [Quran 19:71] I do not know where I will go once I come to it.”
 
The Muslims bade farewell to the army saying, “May Allah be with you and defend you. May Allah bring you back safe and well.” Before leaving, ‘Abdullaah bin Rawaahah, may Allah be pleased with him, supplicated to Allah The Almighty to forgive him and grant him martyrdom – which eliminates all sins. Then the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) bade farewell to ‘Abdullaah bin Rawaahah, may Allah be pleased with him.
 
The Army Reaches Ma‘aan and the Three Leaders are Martyred
 
When ‎the Muslim army reached Ma‘aan (a province in modern-day Jordan) in ‎Ash-Shaam, it learned that Arab and non-Arab Christians had mobilized a huge army to fight ‎them. The Arab tribes, including Lakhm, Juthaam, Bahraa’ and ‎Bali contributed one hundred thousand Christian fighters to the army, and ‎their leader was Maalik bin Raafilah; while Heraclius provided an additional one hundred thousand Christian Byzantines, so that the entire army consisted of approximately ‎two hundred thousand well-equipped ‎ fighters attired in silk garments in order to show ‎off their riches and power to the Muslims.
 
The Muslim army stayed in Ma‘aan for two days weighing the situation and discussing how they would face this huge army. Some of them proposed that they should inform the ‎‎Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) about their situation and the enemy's strength, saying, “If he wishes, he ‎will send us reinforcements, or if he wishes, he will order us to ‎fight.” Some people said to Zayd bin Haarithah, may Allah be pleased with him (the leader of ‎the army), “... we have come to this area and frightened its inhabitants, so let us go back as there is nothing ‎as important as the safety of the Muslim army.”
 
However, ‘Abdullaah bin Rawaahah, may Allah be pleased with him, said decisively, “O people, by Allah, what you now dislike is what you came seeking in the first place: martyrdom. We never fight people depending on our strength or numbers; rather, ‎we fight them only depending on this religion, with which Allah The Exalted has honored us. ‎So, proceed forward, for you will be granted one of two good ‎things: either victory or martyrdom.” His words kindled the feelings of the Mujaahidoon (holy warriors) and propelled ‎them towards the battlefield. ‎
 
Zayd bin Haarithah, may Allah be pleased with him, led the army towards Mu’tah to the south of Al-Kark, where he preferred to face the enemy. A heroic battle was fought where the three leaders were martyred after showing great heroism.
 
Zayd bin ‎Haarithah, may Allah be pleased with him, fearlessly pierced through the ranks of the enemy carrying the banner of the Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) until the spears of the enemy killed him. Once Zayd, may Allah be pleased with him, was martyred, Ja‘far bin Abi Taalib, may Allah be pleased with him, picked up the ‎banner and went on confronting the masses of polytheist crusaders. They attacked him strongly and surrounded him as a bracelet surrounds a wrist. ‎Yet, his determination did not weaken. He continued to fight and advance. He dismounted his horse and ‎killed it. ‎
 
Ja‘far, may Allah be pleased with him, held on to the banner with his right hand until it was cut off; ‎he then took it in his left hand until it too was cut off. Finally, he ‎hugged it with his arms, embracing it and leaning over it until he was killed. Only thirty-three years of age, Ja‘far, may Allah be pleased with him, died bravely on the ‎battlefield. His body suffered ninety ‎injuries inflicted by spears, swords, and arrows. The ‎amazing thing is that not even one of those wounds was in his back; ‎they were all in his chest. Imam ‎Al-Bukhari  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him narrated in his Saheeh that ‎‎‘Abdullaah bin ‎‎‘Umar bin Al-Khattaab, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “In that battle, we searched for Ja‘far bin Abi Taalib and found his body amongst the bodies of the martyrs. We found over ninety-three wounds in his body caused by stabs or shots [of arrows].”
 
Allah The Exalted compensated Ja‘far bin Abi Taalib, may Allah be pleased with him, for his bravery and ‎sacrifices with two wings, with which he will fly wherever he wills ‎in Paradise. Imam Al-Bukhari  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him narrated that, “Whenever Ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, would greet Ja‘far's ‎son, he would say, ‘Peace be upon you, O son of the one of the ‎two wings.’”
 
When Ja‘far bin Abi Taalib, may Allah be pleased with him, wasmartyred, ‘Abdullaah bin ‎Rawaahah Al-Ansaari, may Allah be pleased with him, picked up the banner. It was narrated that a cousin of ‘Abdullaah bin Rawaahah, may Allah be pleased with him, gave him a piece of meat and said, “Eat this to gain strength, for you have expended a great deal of strength today.” ‘Abdullaah, may Allah be pleased with him, took the meat from his hand and took a ‎bite of it; but then hearing the noise and turmoil of the battle, he said to ‎himself, “You are still in this world?” He immediately threw down the ‎piece of meat and hurried forward to fight the enemy until he gained martyrdom. This was at the end ‎of the day.

The Mu’tah Expedition (8 AH) - II

Lessons from the Battle of Mu’tah - I

Lessons from the Battle of Mu’tah - II

 

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