The tragedy at Bir Ma’una

About the same period, the Muslims suffered another setback more tragic than that at Raj’i. Abu Baraa Amir bin Malik, who was known as “Mal’ab Al-Insa” (one who plays with lances), sought an audience with the Prophet , who then invited him to Islam. Abu Baraa neither accepted nor rejected the Prophet’s counsel. He chose instead to volunteer his own opinion about the inclination of the people of Najd toward Islam. He suggested that if the Prophet sent some of his Companions to Najd, the people there would enter Islam. He also assured the Prophet that the Muslims would be under his protection.

The Prophet sent off a contingent of seventy Muslims who were well-versed in the Qur’an. They camped at Bir Ma’una, and Haram bin Malhan went to Aamir bin Tufayl, a bitter enemy of Allah, with a letter from the Prophet . Amir’s response was not to read the letter himself but to order his servant to do so. He took Haram unawares and pierced the latter’s body with his lance. With his last breath Haram sighed, “Allahu Akbar! By the Lord of the Ka’bah, I have succeeded in my mission.”

Amir then called out to the tribe of Banu Amir to attack the rest of the Muslims, but they refused to break the pledge of protection made by Abu Bara. Amir then called upon Banu Sulaym and some of its sub-tribes such as Ral, Dhakwan, Lehyan and Usayya, who readily came to besiege the Companions and put all of them to death save Ka’b bin Zayd and Amr bin Umayya. Ka’b bin Zayd was wounded, and left for dead. Later he was rescued from the scene of the carnage, and he recovered only to be martyred in the Battle of the Trench.

Amr bin Umayya Damri had been grazing his camels along with Mundhir bin Uqba when he saw the vultures hovering at Bir Ma’una. Instantly he guessed the outcome of the Muslims’ visit to Amir bin Tufayl. Mundhir rushed to the spot to rescue his brother Muslims. He took on the enemy and fought until he was overcome. As for Amr bin Umayya, he was taken captive but proved to be more fortunate than the rest of his Muslim brothers. When Amr bin Tufayl was told that the prisoner belonged to the Mudir tribe, he simply took off a lock of Amr’s hair as a trophy and freed him in fulfilment of a vow made by his mother.

Thus it was that Amr bin Umayya escaped death, and he immediately headed toward Madinah. On the way, he came across two men from Banu Kilab at Qarqaran. Taking them to be enemies, Amr killed them both although they had with them a covenant of peace from the Prophet . Back at last in Madinah, he informed the Prophet of what he had done. The Prophet’s only words were: “You have killed two such men whose blood I must redeem.”

Both incidents at Bir Ma’una and Raj’i deeply anguished the Prophet . He had sent two missions of peace, and both had ended tragically in the same month. It is said that he received the news of both tragedies the same night. He found solace in prayer (Qunoot), supplicating for the martyred Muslims and calling down Allah’s punishment on their killers. For thirty days, each morning he received revelation. Allah informed him that He had indeed met His martyred slaves. He was pleased with them, and they had been no less pleased with their Lord’s treatment of them.