the battle of al raji` (625 c.e)
about this time, a group of tribesmen living in the district of muhammad came to him saying, "there are some muslims among us. please send with us some of your companions to teach us the law of islam and to recite the qur'an." muhammad was in the habit of sending his companions upon request to such areas and tribes in order to perform such religious functions and to call men to the true faith and guidance as well as to find new political allies. it will be recalled that muhammad sent such companions to madinah after the great covenant of `aqabah. in fulfillment of this new request, muhammad sent six of his notable companions. when they were all camping at a welt belonging to the tribe of hudhayl in the hijaz at a place called al raji', their host betrayed them to the hudhayl tribe. the six muslims arose to find that they were surrounded by enemies with drawn swords. they drew their swords too and prepared for battle. but the hudhayl tribesmen said, "it is not our intention to kill you but to sell you as captives to the people of makkah. lay down your swords and we solemnly promise that we shall not kill you." the muslims looked to one another and decided that a humiliating captivity in makkah was far worse than loss of life. rejecting the promise of hudhayl, they began to fight knowing that they were outnumbered. hudhayl killed three of them and overpowered the other three. they tied their hands and drove them toward makkah. `abdullah ibn talib managed to pull his hands free and seized his sword to fight his captors. but they overwhelmed and killed him. the other two captives were brought to makkah and sold by the hudhayl. zayd ibn al dathinah was purchased by safwan ibn umayyah in order to be killed in revenge for his father, umayyah ibn khalaf. the captive was given over to safwan's servant nastas for execution. abu sufyan questioned the captive: "tell me, 0 zayd, would you not prefer that muhammad were here in your place to receive this last punishment while you were at home with your people?" zayd answered, "no! by god, i certainly prefer that muhammad be where he is, safe from all harm. that is more preferable to me than reunion with my people." stupefied, abu sufyan rejoined, "never have i seen anyone more beloved by his companions than muhammad." nastas executed the order of his master and killed zayd, the man who remained true to his religion and prophet. as for khubayb, lie was kept in jail until such time as they would crucify him. in his last hour, he asked to be allowed to pray, and they let him. after completion of his prayer, he exclaimed "by god, were i not afraid that you might think i was not ready to die, i would have prolonged my prayer." they lifted him to the cross and tied him to it. with great passion, he prayed to god "o god, reduce their numbers, rout, and disperse them, do not let any one of them escape." there was such a ring in his voice that his executioners were seized with panic and fell to the ground as if his curse had really struck them. like zayd before him, khubayb died a martyr, true to his creator, and loyal to his religion and prophet. it would have been possible for these two pure soils to save themselves from death if they had apostatized. but their conviction of god, of his spirit, of the day of judgment-the day on which every soul will receive its due, and no vicarious substitutes will be allowed-caused them to see death ,is a fitting finale for the life of faith. undoubtedly, they must have believed that their innocent lives now being laid down on makkan soil would one day arouse their muslim brethren to conquer that city, destroy its idols, and purify it from paganism and associationism. they were certain that someday the ka'bah should rightly be sanctified as the house of god ought to be and that someday its walls would reverberate with none but the name of god alone.
the western orientalists do not note this event as they do the execution of the two captives of badr by the muslims. none of them has even condemned this treacherous execution of two innocent muslims who participated in no war but who were dragged stealthily into the enemy camp while they were teaching the very men who were planning their murder or sale to their enemies. none of them had thought to condemn the quraysh despite the fact that its behavior in this case was nothing short of cowardice and cold-blooded murder. the rules of the most primitive justice would have required of those western orientalists who condemned the muslims' execution of the two badr captives that they condemn, a fortiori, this treason of quraysh and of the men who sold her the two captives after killing their four colleagues. neither did quraysh capture them in an honest fight. it bought them from people who tricked them into their camp by inviting them to be the teachers of truth, to instruct, and to enlighten them in matters of the faith.
muhammad and the muslim community were saddened by the news of the martyrdom of their six colleagues as a result of the treachery of hudhayl. hassan ibn thabit, the muslim poet, composed a poem in their memory in which khubayb and zayd were objects of the warmest compassion and mourning. the event gave muhammad reason to ponder and to fear deterioration of muslim prestige in case such events were to recur. nothing, of course, is more harmful to one's prestige than to be slighted by the larger community. as he was engaged in these thoughts, he was approached by abu bara `amir ibn malik, to whom muhammad offered the faith of islam. abu bara turned down the offer of muhammad, but he did not show any enmity to the new faith. on the contrary, he asked muhammad to send some of his companions to the people of najd .in order to preach islam to them. "perhaps," he said, "they may respond favorably and enter the faith." muhammad feared that any such companions whom he might send to najd might be subject to treacherous attack as had befallen khubayb and his companions on the part of the hudhayl tribe. unmoved, he therefore rejected abu bara�s request. abu bara said, "i shall be their guardian and protector. send them over, therefore, and let them preach the faith." abu bara was a notable with large influence among his people. no one had reason to fear when abu bara had extended his personal protection to him. with this consideration, muhammad sent al mundhir ibn `amr, brother of banu sa'idah, together with other men chosen from the foremost muslim ranks.