quraysh arranged and readied themselves for battle. their spies had informed them that the muslims were three hundred strong or a little more, that they had neither provisions nor a hiding place, and that their only protection was their swords, determined as they were to kill before falling. as the cream of quraysh forces had joined this expedition, the wise among them feared that should a number of these fall by muslim hands, makkah would soon lose its position of leadership. however, they could not speak out for fear that abu jahl would accuse them of cowardice. nonetheless, `utbah ibn rabi'ah did. "0 men of quraysh," he advised his peers, "we will surely not achieve anything by meeting muhammad and his companions in battle. if we should defeat them, every one of us would recognize in their dead a cousin, an uncle, or a relative from his own clan and tribe. return to your homes and leave muhammad alone among the tribes. should they kill him and defeat him, your purpose would have been met. should it turn out to be otherwise, you will not have to suffer the consequences." but when abu jahl heard these words of `utbah, he raged in anger, sent after `amir ibn al hadrami, and said to him: "your ally is shamelessly courting men to return to makkah now that you have beheld your enemy with your own eye. there is your enemy, on whom you ought to avenge yourself. rise and avenge the slaying of your brother." `amir stood up and yelled, "woe! `amr shall be avenged! to battle! to battle!" with this, the last chance of peace was shattered. al aswad ibn `abd al asad al makhzumi, springing out of the ranks of the quraysh toward the muslims, sought to destroy the trough which they had just built. hamzah ibn `abd al muttalib struck him with his sword. the blow cut off his leg, and the victim fell on his back with his leg bleeding profusely. immediately hamzah struck him again and killed him. nothing draws the swords out of mens' sheaths faster than the sight of blood. nothing stirs the will to kill more than the sight of a friend slain by an enemy hand in front of his own people.
engagement of the two armies
as soon as al aswad fell, `utbah ibn rabl`ah, flanked by his brother shaybah on one side and his son al walid ibn `utbah on the other, sprang forth and challenged the muslims to duel. a number of youths from madinah went out to meet them. when shaybah recognized them, he said: "we have not come to fight you. rather we want to fight our own tribesmen." the quraysh crier called forth: "0 muhammad, send out our own peers of our own tribe to fight us." at this, hamzah ibn `abd al muttalib, `ali ibn abu talib, and 'ubaydah ibn al harith advanced forth. a duel was fought in which hamzah killed shaybah, and 'ali killed al walid. then both of them came to assist `ubaydah who had not yet finished off `utbah. when the quraysh army saw this, they advanced in force and the two armies collided. it was the morning of friday, seventeenth of ramadan, 2 a.h.