the quraysh returned to makkah after burying their dead. the muslims returned to the battlefield to bury theirs, and muhammad sought out the body of his uncle, hamzah. when he saw that his body was mutilated, muhammad felt profoundly sad and vowed that he would never allow such a hateful thing to happen again and that he would someday avenge these evil deeds. it was on this occasion that the revelation was made
وَإِنْ عَاقَبْتُمْ فَعَاقِبُوا بِمِثْلِ مَا عُوقِبْتُمْ بِهِ وَلَئِنْ صَبَرْتُمْ لَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لِلصَّابِرِينَ
وَاصْبِرْ وَمَا صَبْرُكَ إِلا بِاللَّهِ وَلا تَحْزَنْ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلا تَكُ فِي ضَيْقٍ مِمَّا يَمْكُرُونَ
al-qur'an, 16. 126-127 (an-nahl [the bee])
"and if you punish, inflict the same punishment as has been meted out to you. but if you bear patiently, it is certainly better for you. do bear then patiently; for the reward of your patience is with god. do not feel sad nor give way to anger because of their plotting.�[qur'an, 16:126-127]
need for recapturing the lost prestige
the prophet went home and thought deeply. the jews, the munafiqun, and the associationists of madinah were elated at the news of the setback. muslim power in madinah had been such that none could effectively oppose it. now it stood ready to be shaken. `abdullah ibn ubayy ibn salul did not participate in the battle of uhud because muhammad as well as the muslims did not wish to ~ listen to his advice. moreover, muhammad declared himself angry against `abdullah's clients, the jews. were this setback at uhud the last judgment on the muslims vis-a-vis the quraysh, the fate of muhammad and his companions would have been easily disposed of by the tribesmen of the peninsula, and their political power in yathrib would have crumbled. the muslims would have become objects of universal derision. in such circumstances, the associationists and pagans would surely have been emboldened to attack the religion of god, and that would have been the greatest tragedy. it was necessary, therefore, to direct some strike against the enemy in order to offset the defeat of uhud and to recapture muslim morale as well as to instill fear in the hearts of the jews and the munafiqun. such a measure was necessary if the political power of muhammad and his companions in yathrib was to regain its strength.
the prophet of god then pardoned, bore patiently, and laid down an absolute prohibition against mutilation. hamzah was given burial on the spot where he lay, muhammad conducting the funerary prayer and hamzah's sister, safiyyah, daughter of `abd al muttalib, participating. all prayed for god to show them his mercy. the prophet then commanded burial for all the dead, which numbered seventy; and, when this was completed, he led his party back to madinah. the muslims were quite sad and solemn for having encountered such defeat after their victory, and such humiliation after their splendid accomplishment. they fully realized that it was the archers' disobedience of muhammad as well as the muslims' preoccupation with booty that had exposed them to this sad turn of events.