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History

Battle of Ohad

The Prophet reached Ohad in the morning of Saturday, the 7th of Shawwal, 3 A.H. (January or February 625 A.D.) and found the Meccan forces face to face, ready to advance for the battle. The Quraish advanced in the form of a crescent and the right wing of their cavalry was led by Khalid b. Walid, a notorious warrior. Abu Amir, a Meccan champion, stepping forward with his fifty archers, showered the arrows first towards the Muslims, who retaliated promptly. Thus the fight began.

The Meccan archers turned back and their standard bearer, Talha b. Abi Talha, coming forth, challenged the Muslims. Ali stepped forward and struck off one of his legs. He fell down and another champion hoisted the standard. He was killed by Hamza. A third now took the standard and he was slain by Ali. Thus nine or ten standard bearers fell one after the other only by Ali's sword. 1 It is a noteworthy incident that Talha the first standard bearer of the Meccans lost one of his legs by a stroke of Ali's sword, fell down and his lower garment being loosened, he became naked. Ali, instead of finishing him, turned his face from him and hit him no more.

The Prophet marked the event and exclaimed, "Allah O Akbar" (Great is the Lord), and when he asked Ali why he had spared the man, he said the man was nude and entreated for the sake of Allah to spare his life. Ali and Hamza, the champions of Badr, unsparingly dealing out death, worked havoc among the enemy. Hamza, however, while duelling with Saba b. Abd-al-Uzza, a Meccan champion, was treacherously speared from behind by Wahshi, an Ethiopian slave, who lurked behind a rock with that intent, having been promised by Hinda, the wife of Abu Sofyan, his freedom, if he could avenge the death of her father and brother slain by Ali and Hamza in the battle of Badr. Now Ali, taking Abu Dajana' Mos'ab b. Omeir and Sahel b. Honeif, Muslim champions with him, charged the enemy. The force of the charge broke the ranks of the enemy, the whole host wavered and Ali with his Muslim champions, gained the enemy's camp. They made the Meccan army turn and flee, leaving their camp to the Muslims, who at once proceeded to approppriate it.

2 But their eagerness for spoil turned the tide of victory, which was already gained by Ali and his Muslim champions. The archers posted at the defile deserted their posts to join in the plunder, leaving the subaltern, Abdallah b. Jobeir, in spite of his protests, with only about ten men. Khalid, the Meccan commander of the cavalry, who behind the defile was awaiting a suitable chance to effect his charge, succeeded in dexterously emerging through and cutting down the small guard of the ten men, and charged furiously the rear of the Muslims. Mos'ab b. Omeir, a champion of Muhammad, who bore a great resemblance to him, fell dead. Ibn Soraqa proclaimed aloud that Muhammad was slain. The flying Meccans turned hack. Their banner, which was lying low on the ground, was picked up by a Meccan named Omra bint Alqama and then lifted high up by a slave named Sowab and the Meccans clustered around it. Most of the Muslims, including many of the Companions of the Prophet took to flight. 3

This sudden change of fortune checked the Muslims, who found themselves surrounded by the Meccans. It was all confusion so that it was not easy to distinguish friend from foe. Discipline could not be restored.

Some were saying that Muhammad would not have been killed 4 had he been a true Prophet, 5 others were talking of seeking pardon of Abu Sufyan and taking refuge with him. (Sur. III-138 refers to these people thus: "And Muhammad is no more than an Apostle; already there have passed before him Apostles: what then if he dies or is killed, will ye turn back on your heels? But he who turneth back on his heels will not harm God at all; surely God will reward the grateful." Sur.. 111-142 refers to them thus : "O ye who believe, if ye follow those who disbelieve, they will turn ye back upon your heels, and ye shall be turned back losers.")

6 Some of the Prophet's adherents, however, resolved not to survive him and they fought and perished in the struggle. Anas b. Nadzar, uncle to Anas b. Malik, having seen Omar b. Khattab and Talha b. Obeidallah sitting leisurely along with some others, asked them what they were doing. They said they had nothing to do since Muhammad was slain. Hearing these words Anas addressed them aloud thus: "My friends ! Though Muhammad be slain, certainly Muhammad's Lord liveth and dieth not : therefore value not your lives since the Prophet is dead, but fight for the cause for which he fought." Then he cried out, "O God! I am excused before Thee, and acquitted in Thy sight of what they say," and drawing his sword fought valiantly till he was killed. Sale p. 52, from Al-Beidzawi. The Angel Gabriel appeared to the Prophet with the verse which meant to inform him that among his followers there were persons who looked only to this life and also those who cared for the next life. (Sur-iii-l46 "Of you are those who chose this present world and of you are those who adopted the world to come hereafter.") Ali, who was still defending bravely, ran to the Prophet who was all alone, and stood by his side. 7 The Prophet inquired why he did not flee with the others, to which he replied that he belonged to him and had no business with the others and that he being a believer would not like to turn a disbeliever or an infidel. Presently, one after the other two parties of the Quraish were sent to attack the Prophet. He asked Ali to defend him, and the gallant hero repulsed them with such intrepidity that he was praised 8 by Angels, whose voioe was heard saying : "Zulfiqar is the only effective sword and Ali the unique champion."

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1 Tabari; Ibn Athir.

2 Ibn Athir ; Tarikh-al-Khamis. Tabari; Tarikh-al- Khamis; Tafsir Kabir; Minhaj-al-Nabowat.

3 Tarikh al Khamis, Tabari, Tafsir Kabir, Tafsir Dur-re-Mansoor, Suyuti. Tafsir Gharaib-ul-Bajan Neshapuri, Mustadrik and ad at- i f-un-Nabowat

4 Tabari; Ibn Hisham.

5 Tarikh-al-Khamis.

6 Tabari-vol-iii, Ibn, Athir; Tarikh-a1-Khamis.

7 Tabari ; Ibn Athir ; Madarij-al-Nabowat, Habib-ql-Siyar ; Rawdzat-al-Ahbab.

8 Habib-al-Siyar; Rawdzat-al-Ahbab.

Adapted from: "Ali, The Magnificent" by: "Yousuf N. Lalljee"