The Battle of Uhud
Now the Quraysh had two humiliating episodes to live down. Badr and Qardah were bitter losses, and it was time to channel all their anger and hatred into a military strike against the Muslims. Preparations began at a furious pace as the Quraysh launched a recruitment drive and admitted voluntary soldiers and anyone with a personal grudge against the Muslims, especially those who had lost fathers, sons or brothers at Badr.
Bards were brought in to incite the people with their songs of vengeance. Subsidiary tribes who owed allegiance to the Quraysh were also made to join the army. Women went with them to boost their morale and prevent them from taking flight. The Quraysh ultimately mustered an army of 3000 soldiers with 300 camels, 200 horses and 700 coats of mail. Abu Sufyan was the commander-in-chief of the Makkan army, and the valiant fighters of Banu Abdul Dar were appointed its standard bearers.
The proud and fearsome Makkan army advanced towards Madinah. On Friday, the 6th of Shawwal, 3 A.H., they reached the outskirts of the city and camped in an open field in the valley of Qanah below Mounts Ainain and Uhud.
The Prophet had been expecting the enemy for a week. He had already set up a patrol system around Madinah to ensure the city’s safety and had declared a state of emergency.
When the Makkan army arrived, the Prophet sought the counsel of his Companions regarding further defensive measures. His plan was to remain in the city, with the men facing the enemy at the entrance of lanes and alleys, and the women attacking from the rooftops of their houses.
When the plan was outlined before the community, the Hypocrites among them, were happy not to be out on the battlefield. Their leader, Abdullah bin Ubayy, supported the plan since he could then sit safely at home without being accused of falling back from the battle. Some of the young men, however, were eager to meet the enemy in open combat, and pressed for a direct military encounter. The Prophet agreed to their demands, and accordingly, he divided his army into three squads – one squad consisted of the Muhajireen (migrants) with Mus’ab bin Umayr as the standard bearer, another comprised of the Aus tribe with Usayd bin Hudair as the standard bearer, and the third unit consisted of Khazraj with Hubab bin Mudhir as the standard bearer.
After Asr’ prayer, the Prophet set out toward Mount Uhud and inspected his troops at Shaykhayn. He decided to send back the youths among them in his desire to keep them safe. However, he later allowed Rafi bin Khadij to stay on, for he was a good archer whose skills would prove useful. Up came Samura bin Jundab pleading to be retained also. After all, wasn’t he stronger than Rafi” And hadn’t he thrown Rafi in several wrestling bouts? Samura begged for a trial bout and made good his claim, so the Prophet allowed him to go into battle as well.
At Shaykhayn the Prophet offered his Maghrib (sunset) and ‘Isha (evening) prayers. He spent the night there, and appointed fifty watchmen to guard the troops. In the stillness of the night, he then departed, going on to Shaut, where he prayed Fajr at dawn. Just as things seemed to be going reasonably smoothly, the Hypocrites struck the first blow. Abdullah bin Ubayy chose to rebel against the Prophet at this point and withdrew with his 300 companions. His action sent Banu Salma and Banu Harith reeling. Surprised and dismayed, they reacted to the news so badly that they themselves considered retreating.