The Tragedy of Ma‘una Well
ma‘una well tragedy, which was even more horrible than that of ar-raji‘, took place in the same month.
abu bara’ — ‘amir bin malik — nicknamed ‘spear player’ came to the messenger of allâh [pbuh] in madinah. the messenger of allâh [pbuh] called him to embrace islam but he neither agreed nor refused. he said: "o messenger of allâh, if you dispatch some of your companions to the people of najd to call them to islam, i expect them to accept." "i am afraid the people of najd will kill them." said the messenger. but he replied, "i will protect them." ibn ishaq confirms that forty men were sent to them; but as-sahih states that they were seventy — al-mundhir bin ‘amr, one of bani sa‘ida, nicknamed ‘freed to die’ — commanded that group, who were the best and most learned in the qur’ân and jurisprudence.
on their way to najd they used to gather firewood to buy food for the people of ‘ahl as-suffah’ as charity by day and study, meditate on the meanings of the qur’ân by night. they kept on doing that till they arrived at ma‘una well — which was a well in between bani ‘amir, harrah and bani saleem. they stayed there and sent the message of the prophet [pbuh] with haram bin milhan, the brother of umm sulaim to the enemy of allâh ‘amir bin at-tufail. ‘amir did not heed the message but rather ordered a man to spear haram in the back. when the spear penetrated haram’s body, he saw the blood and said: "allâhu akbar! (i.e. allâh is the greatest) by lord of al-ka‘bah i have won!"
then the enemy of allâh, promptly, called out bani ‘amir to fight the rest. bani ‘amir refused because they were under the protection of abu bara’. therefore he turned to bani saleem for help. the people of ‘usaiyah, ri‘al and dhakwan, who were folks of bani saleem, responded to his call. the companions of the prophet [pbuh], who were encompassed by idolaters, kept on fighting till they were all killed. the only survivor was ka‘b bin zaid bin an-najjar who was carried wounded from among the dead. it was in al-khandaq (the trench) battle that he was killed.
‘amr bin omaiyah ad-damari and al-mundhir bin ‘uqbah bin ‘amir, who were entrusted with the muslims’ animals far from them, saw the birds circling in the air over the battleground. al-mundhir rushed to share in the fight till he was killed. but ‘amr bin omaiyah was captured. ‘amir set him free when he knew that he was of mudar tribe but that was after he had cut his hair. he did that to fulfil a pledge of his mother’s to set a slave free.
returning to the prophet [pbuh] ‘amr bin omaiyah conveyed the news of the painful disaster, which resulted in the murder of seventy of the best believers, and recalled the tragedy of uhud but with the difference that those of uhud were killed in a clear war but those of ma‘una were killed in a disgraceful treachery. on his way back to qarqara, ‘amr bin omaiyah rested in the shade of a tree, and there two men of bani kilab joined him. when they slept, ‘amr killed them both, thinking that by doing that he would avenge some of his killed companions. then he found out that they had been given a pledge of protection by the prophet [pbuh]. he told the messenger of allâh [pbuh] what he had done. the messenger of allâh [pbuh] said to ‘amr: "you have killed two people; their blood-money shall be a debt i have to discharge." he then engaged himself collecting their blood-money from the muslims and their allies, the jews [ibn hisham 2/183-188; za'd al-ma'ad 2/109-110; sahih al-bukhari 2/584-586]. this very act was later to trigger the invasion of bani an-nadeer.
the prophet [pbuh] was so deeply moved by this tragedy and that of ar-raji‘ that he used to invoke allâh’s wrath against those people and tribes who killed his companions. anas reported that for thirty days the prophet [pbuh] supplicated allâh against those who killed his companions at ma‘una well. every dawn prayer he would invoke allâh’s wrath against ri‘l, dhakwan, lihyan and ‘usaiyah. he would say, " ‘usaiyah disobeyed allâh and his messenger." therefore allâh عز وجل, sent down unto his messenger a qur’ânic verse that we kept on reciting till it was abrogated later on: ‘inform our folk that we have encountered our lord and he is satisfied with us and we are satisfied with him.’ so the messenger of allâh [pbuh] stopped his invocation. [sahih al-bukhari 2/586-588]