A Meditation on the Ghazawat
meditation on the prophet’s ghazawat, missions, and the battalions he formed and dispatched, will certainly give us and everybody a true and clear impression that the prophet [pbuh] was the greatest military leader in the whole world as well as the most righteous, the most insightful and the most alert one. he was not a man of superior genius for this concern but he was also the master and the greatest of all messengers as far as prophethood and heavenly message are concerned. besides, all the battles that he had fought were standard in their application to the requirements of strictness, bravery, and good arrangements that fitted the terms and conditions of war. none of the battles he fought was lost as a consequence of shortage of wisdom or due to any other technical error in army mobilization or a location in a wrong strategical position. the loss of any of his battle was not due to misjudgement about occupying the best and the most appropriate sites of battles, nor was it due to a mischoice of leaders of the fight, for he had proved himself to be a peculiar sort of leader that differs from any of those leaders that our world had known and experienced. as regards uhud and hunain events, there were consequences of weakness in some military elements in hunain; and disobedience to orders in uhud. their non-compliance with wisdom and the plan of the battle played a passive role in the course of those two invasions.
his genius was clearly shown in these two battles when the muslims were defeated; for he stoodfast facing the enemy and managed, by his super wisdom, to thwart the enemy’s aim as was the case in uhud. similarly he managed to change the muslims’ defeat in hunain into a victory. nothwithstanding the fact that serious grave developments in military operations usually leave the worst impression on the military leaders and entice them to flee for their lives.
we have, so far, discussed the mere aspects of military leadership of the invasions. on the other hand, through these invasions he was able to impose security, institute peace, diffuse dissension and destroy the military might of the enemies through relentless struggle between islam and paganism.
the prophet had also profound insight and could differentiate the faithful from the hypocrites and plotters.
great was the group of military leaders who fought and excelled the persians and the byzantines in the battlefields of ash-sham and iraq with respect to war strategy and leading the fight procedures. the very leaders, who succeeded muhammad [pbuh] , managed to drive off the enemies of islam, from their lands and countries, their gardens and springs, and their farms. they drove them off their honourable residence and from the grace and provisions they owned and enjoyed. those muslim leaders were all muhammad’s men. they were imbued with the spirit of islam at the hand of the prophet [pbuh].
thanks to these battles, the messenger of all�h [pbuh] managed accommodation, secured land and provided chances of work for all muslims. he, even, made a lot of inquiries about the refugee problems who (then) had no houses or fortunes. he equipped the army with weapons, horses and expenditures. he had all that realized without exercising a particle weight of injustice. the prophet [pbuh] has altered the standards and aims of pre-islamic wars. their war was no more than robbing, killing, plundering, tyranny and aggression-oriented wars. those wars focused on winning victory, oppressing the weakling and demolishing their houses and constructions. for them, war was a means by which they can rape or unveil women, practise cruelty against the weakling, the babies and small children, spoil tillage and race, and spread corruption on the earth. islamic wars are different from pre-islamic wars. a "war" in islam is a jihad. that is to say it is a noble sacred fight in the way of all�h for the verification of a muslim society that seeks to free man from oppression, tyranny and aggression. it is a society that everyone everywhere and at all times should be proud of.pre-islamic thoughts and traditions of al-jahiliyah period have been turned upside down by islam. these were so hard upon the weakling that they had to invoke all�h to enable them to get away from that pre-islamic environment by saying:
"our lord, rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors, and raise for us from you one who will protect, and raise for us from you one who will help."
the war of corruption, slaying and robbing that used to prevail has now turned into a sacred one, al-jihad. one of the greatest aims of al-jihad is to free man from the aggression, the oppression and the tyranny of men of power. a man of power, in islam, is a weakling till after the right of the poor is taken from him. war, in islam, is a jihad for the purification of the land of all�h from deception, treachery, sinful deeds and aggression. it is a sacred war that aims at spreading security, safety, mercy and compassion as well as observing the rights and magnanimity. the messenger of all�h [pbuh] had issued honourable strict rules about war and bade his soldiers and leaders to comply with them. they were forbidden to break those rules under any circumstances. in reference to sulaiman bin buraidah’s version, who said that his father had told him that whenever the messenger of all�h [pbuh] appointed a leader on an army or on a battalion, he used to recommend him to fear all�h, the great and all-mighty, when dealing with those who were closest to him and to be good with all muslims. then the prophet [pbuh] would say to him:
"let your invasion be in the name of all�h and for his sake. fight those who disbelieve in all�h. invade but do not exaggerate nor commit treachery. never deform the corpse of a dead person or kill an infant child."
the messenger of all�h [pbuh] asked people to facilitate but he forbade them to bear down hard on others or constrain. "pacify", he said, "and do not disincline". [sahih muslim 2/82,83] when it happened that he arrived at the battlefield by night, he would never invade the enemy till it was morning. he utterly forbade burning (i.e. torturing people) in fire, killing children and women or even beating them. he also forbade theft and robbery and proceeded so far as to say gains acquired through plundering are not less forbidden than the flesh of a corpse. corruption of tillage and race and cutting down of trees were all forbidden unless they were badly needed and there was no other substitute:
"do not kill a wounded person nor run after a fleeing one or kill a captive."
he decreed that envoys cannot be killed. he also stressed on not killing those who made covenants. he even said:
"he whoever kills one who is under pledge to a covenant shall not smell paradise, though its smell could be experienced at a forty-year distance from it."
there were some other noble rules which purified wars from their al-jahiliyah (pre-islamic) filthiness and turned them into sacred wars. [za'd al-ma'ad 2/64-68; and for details jihad in islam p.216-262]