no sooner news about the byzantine’s preparations for a decisive invasion against muslims reached madinah than fear spread among them. they started to envisage the byzantine invasion in the least sound they could hear. this could be clearly worked out of what had happened to ‘umar bin al-khattab one day.
the prophet [pbuh] had taken an oath to stay off his wives for a month in the ninth year of al-hijra. therefore, he deserted them and kept off in a private place. at the beginning, the companions of the messenger of allâh were puzzled and could not work out the reason for such behaviour. they thought the prophet [pbuh] had divorced them and that was why he was grieved, disturbed and upset. in ‘umar’s version of the very story he says: "i used to have a helper friend who often informed me about what happened if i weren’t present, and in return i always informed him of what had taken place during his absence. they both lived in the high part of madinah. both of them used to call at the prophet alternatively during that time of suspense. then one day i heard my friend, knock at the door saying: "open up! open up!" i asked wondering, "what’s the matter? has the ghassanide come?" "no it is more serious than that. the messenger of allâh [pbuh] has deserted his wives." [sahih al-bukhari 2/730]
in another version, ‘umar said, "we talked about ghassanide preparations to invade us. when it was his turn to convey the news to me, he went down and returned in the evening. he knocked at the door violently and said ‘is he sleeping?’ i was terrified but i went out to meet him. ‘something serious had taken place.’ he said. ‘has the ghassaindes arrived?’ said i. ‘no,’ he said, ‘it is greater and more serious. the messenger of allâh [pbuh] has divorced his wives.’" [sahih al-bukhari 1/334]
this state of too much alertness manifests clearly the seriousness of the situation that muslims began to experience. the seriousness of the situation was confirmed to a large degree by the hypocrites behaviour, when news about the byzantines’ preparations reached madinah. the fact that the messenger of allâh [pbuh] won all the battles he fought, and that no power on earth could make him terrified, and that he had always proved to be able to overcome all the obstacles that stood in his way - did not prevent the hypocrites, who concealed evil in their hearts, from expecting an affliction to fall upon the muslims and islam.
they used to harbour evil and ill-intentions against the whole process of islam and the muslims. on grounds of illusory hopes of destroying this great religious edifice, they erected a hotbed of conspiracy and intrigue in the form of a mosque — masjid-e-darar (the mosque of harm). they approached the prophet [pbuh] with the request that he should come and consecrate the place by praying in it himself. as he was at the moment about to start for tabuk, he deferred compliance with their request till his return. meanwhile he came to know through divine revelation that it was not a mosque for devotion and prayer but a meeting place for the anti-islamic elements. on his return, therefore, the prophet [pbuh] sent a party to demolish the new structure.