Seerah
Seerah - Life of the Prophet Muhammad (saw)
 

22 - The Raj’i Incident

The Hamra' al-Asad Campaign

The following day after his return to Madina after the Battle of Uhud, Prophet Muhammad was informed that the Quraysh were to return and had planned to attack Madina. Upon hearing this, the Prophet decided to pursue the Qurayshi army both to prevent any possible attack and to show that the Muslims had not been weakened. He wanted only those who participated in the Battle of Uhud only a day before to join the campaign. Notwithstanding the fact that they had only just returned from Uhud and despite their exhaustion and some of them even being wounded, they willingly accepted the call to join. Meanwhile, Jabir ibn ‘Abd Allah, who had been unable to participate in the Battle of Uhud, sought permission from Prophet Muhammad to take part in this campaign. Jabir’s father had been martyred at Uhud. When Jabir told the Prophet that although he wanted to participate at Uhud, his father had entrusted his seven (or nine) sisters to his care as there was no one else who could look after them and this is why he could not join, the Prophet granted him special permission. Prophet Muhammad went to Hamra' al-Asad, eight miles from Madina, with a force of 500 men. Learning of these developments, the Quraysh abandoned their intention to go the Madina and returned instead to Makka. Staying in Hamra' al-Asad for five days, the Prophet returned to Madina on 17 Shawwal (2 April, 625). Sometimes mentioned alongside the Battle of Uhud and sometimes separately, the campaign is said to have been carried out with the purpose of regaining the repute and standing of the Muslim state, which had been damaged at Uhud. With this campaign, the Muslims consolidated the authority shaken by their defeat at Uhud, and demonstrated first and foremost to the Quraysh and to the other Arab tribes that they still retained their strength and self-assurance.

 

The Raj’i Incident

Several months after the Battle of Uhud, a delegation from the Adal and al-Qarah tibes came to Madina and, stating that Islam had begun to spread within their tribes, requested that the Prophet send representatives to them who could teach them about Islam and how to read the Qur’an. The delegation of ten people, headed by 'Asim ibn Thabit (or Marsad ibn Abu Marsad), that the Prophet sent, camped beside the well of Raj’i, located between Makka and ‘Usfan in territory belonging to the Hudhayl tribe. Meanwhile, one of the tribal representatives who had requested a teaching delegation from the Prophet and who set off together with this delegation went to the Banu Lihyan clan of the Hudhayl tribe – who they knew to bear enmity towards the Prophet – and notified them of the whereabouts of the delegation. Immediately mobilizing, an armed group of 100 men from the Banu Lihyan conducted a raid against the Muslims (4 Safar/July, 625). Seven Companions, ‘Asim ibn Thabit and Marsad ibn Abu Marsad included, were martyred. Of the remaining three, ‘Abd Allah ibn Tariq were killed on the road; Hubayb ibn 'Adiyy and Zayd ibn Dasina were taken to Makka and sold to the Quraysh, who wanted to avenge the death of their relatives at Badr. Imprisoning these two Companions for some time, the Makkan polytheists took them to the region of Tan’im, on the outskirts of the city, at the end of the sacred months. Here, in front a crowded audience, the Quraysh told them that they would release them on the condition that they rejected Islam. Reiterating their commitment to Islam and Prophet Muhammad even under these intolerable conditions, they demonstrated that they were not afraid of dying in the path of God and His Messenger. They were, thereafter, martyred under torture. Before being killed, Hubayb ibn 'Adiyy requested permission to pray two units of prayer and, to prevent them from saying that he prolonged his prayer due to a fear of death, he completed his prayer in the shortest time possible. For this reason, this prayer became, throughout history, a tradition for Muslims who believe that they are to be killed unjustly.

The Raj’i incident and subsequent developments caused great sorrow and distress in Madina. Due to this attack and massacre which constituted a casus belli, the Prophet organized a military expedition to ‘reciprocate’ with a force of 200 men, 20 on horseback, against the Lihyan tribe (6 Rabi` al-Awwal/July 627). However, as the tribe learned of the campaign and retreated to the mountains, the Prophet returned to Madina after spending two days camped in their territory.

 

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