Quraysh's Preparations for Revenge

ever since the battle of badr, quraysh had not been at ease. the debacle of its al sawiq campaign and the recent loss of its caravan on the route of al `iraq to the muslims under the command of zayd ibn harithah had intensified its resentment and bent its mind upon the avenging of badr. the tribesmen of quraysh, lords, notables, and noblemen of makkah, could not forget their fallen brethren. how could they do so while makkah women were still mourning their sons, brothers, fathers, husbands, and other relatives? ever since abu sufyan ibn harb reached makkah with the caravan that had caused the confrontation at badr, he, together with those who participated in the battle and other notables of quraysh, such as jubayr ibn mut'im, safwan ibn umayyah, `ikrimah ibn abu jahl, al harith ibn hisham, huwaytib ibn `abd al `uzza and others, agreed to deposit the whole caravan in the community house of makkah (dar al nadwah) for public auction so that the proceeds might be used in preparing an army to fight muhammad. their plans called for equipping a great strong army and inciting the tribes to join in this war of revenge. they had already incited abu `azzah, the poet, a captive of badr who was forgiven by the prophet, to defect to their side. likewise, they invited their abyssinian clients to join ranks with them. the women of quraysh, for their part, insisted on accompanying the army in order to witness and to enjoy the revenge. in deliberating whether or not to permit them to do so, some argued that for the women to march alongside the men and sing the songs of war would remind the soldiers of their fallen relatives and further arouse them to fight. those who argued in this vein were truly desperate, for they were unwilling to return to their homes without either avenging themselves or perishing in the process. others thought otherwise. some said, "0 men of quraysh, it is not wise to expose your women to your enemies. since it is not absolutely impossible that you may have to run away for your lives, shame would then befall your women." as the people deliberated, hind, daughter of 'utbah and wife of abu sufyan said- "indeed! we shall accompany the army and watch the fighting. none may stand in our way or force us back to our homes as happened at al juhfah [the locality halfway between makkah and madinah on the coastal route.] on that dies nefastus when our beloved ones fell in battle. and on the day of badr, had the women been there to witness the soldiers run away from the battle front, this would never have happened." hind thus attributed the defeat at badr to the absence of women to arouse their men to sufficient self exertion in battle. her little speech sealed the argument, and the quraysh began its march against muhammad together with the women who were now led by the most resentful woman of all, hind, who suffered at badr the loss of two dearest relatives, her father and brother. the makkan army started off in solemn procession from dar al nadwah in three divisions. only a hundred men were from thaqif whereas all the others were makkans and arab or abyssinian clients of makkah equipped with great amounts of armour, two hundred horses, and three thousand camels. they also counted seven hundred men clad in heavy armour.

the makkans' march against madinah

while all these preparations were taking place with the consent and enthusiasm of everyone, al `abbas ibn `abd al muttalib, the prophet's uncle, watched from a distance and pondered. despite his loyalty to the faith of his fathers and the religion of his people, he was moved in his feeling toward muhammad by a sense of admiration complemented by a feeling of tribal solidarity within him. he recalled how well muhammad had treated him on the day of badr. it was the same sort of admiration and tribal solidarity which had previously moved him to conclude the great covenant of al `aqabah with al aws and al khazraj tribes of madinah, for the purpose of guaranteeing the same safeguard and protection to muhammad, his nephew, as those which belonged to madinese women and children. at the time, he warned those tribes that were they ever to falter in providing such protection to his nephew, they should withdraw and give up muhammad's protection to his own people. the same kind of feeling stirred within him when he saw quraysh's ubiquitous enthusiasm against muhammad and when he witnessed this great army marching forward toward madinah. he wrote a letter describing the whole preparation, military equipment, and number of makkan soldiers and gave it to a man from ghifar whom he trusted to deliver to the prophet in time. soon, the quraysh army reached al abwa' where aminah, daughter of wahb and mother of muhammad, was buried. some makkans thought of digging up her grave. however, their leaders stopped them, fearful last they set a precedent among the arabs, and recalling that the muslims too could retaliate with the makkans' own dead buried in their vicinities. upon arrival at the locality of al `aqiq, the makkan army camped at the foot of mount uhud, five miles from madinah.

Next article