The Expedition of Qurata

(6th year of the Migration, the month of Muharram)

In the month of Muharram, the Prophet sent a group of cavalrymen consisting of thirty people under the command of a Companion called Muhammad b. Maslama against Sons of Bakr b. Kilab in the land of Najd.

When the mujahids arrived at the place called Sharabba belonging to that tribe, they confronted a group from Sons of Muharib. A clash took place between them. Some of the people of Sons of Muharib were killed and the others ran away. The mujahids did not do anything to their children and women that were left behind.

Then, the mujahids proceeded to the place where the people of Sons of Bakr were. The mujahids suddenly attacked them and killed ten of them. They took some of their sheep and camels as booty. The booty that was taken from Sons of Muharib and Sons of Bakr amounted to one hundred and fifty camels and three thousand sheep.

The commander of the group, Muhammad b. Maslama allocated one fifth of the booty to the Prophet and divided the rest among the mujahids. 

On the way to Madinah, the mujahids captured Sumama b. Usal from the tribe of Sons of Hanifa. Sumama was going to Makkah for umrah.

The group of Muslim cavalrymen returned to Madinah on the last night of the night of Muharram.[1]

Sumama b. Usal Becomes a Muslim

Sumama b. Usal, who was taken captive by the mujahids was one of the notables of the people of Yamama. Once, he had attempted to kill the Prophet but his uncle had prevented him from committing that murder. The Messenger of God had regarded it permissible to shed the blood of Sumama.[2]

The mujahids who brought Sumama to the presence of the Prophet did not know Sumama. The Messenger of God said to them, “Do you know who you caught? He is Sumama b. Usal, the leader of the tribe of Sons of Hanifa. Treat him well.”

The Companions accommodated him in the mosque.

The Messenger of God went to the mosque to see Sumama. He said,

“O Sumama! What do you have in your heart? What are you thinking of?”

Sumama said in embarrassment, “O Muhammad! You have goodness in your heart. If you kill me, you will kill a murderer whose hands are bloody. If you do me a favor and forgive me, you will do a favor to a person who feels grateful and who appreciates favors. If you want any property from me to let me free, take whatever you want.”

The Prophet left without saying anything. 

The Prophet visited Sumama the next two days and asked him the same question. When Sumama gave the same answer, he said to his Companions, “Release Sumama”, letting him free without receiving any ransom.  

Upon this generous act, Sumama felt enlightened. He uttered kalima ash-shahada and became a Muslim there.[3]

What Happened to Sumama in Makkah

Sumama, who became a Muslim, went to Makkah for umrah with the permission of the Prophet. When he entered the city by uttering “Talbiya”, the  Qurayshi polytheists understood that he had become a Muslim. They wanted to capture and kill him. One of them said, “Leave him! You always need Yamama for food!” Thereupon, they left him.  

Despite this, Sumama challenged them.

He said, “By God, if the Messenger of God, Muhammad, does not let, even one grain of wheat will not come from Yamama for you.”

As a matter of fact, when Sumama returned to Yamama after performing umrah, he prohibited the people of Yamama from sending anything to the Qurayshis.[4]

The Compassion of the Prophet

When the people of Yamama did not send any food to Makkah upon the order of Sumama, the Qurayshi polytheists were stuck in a difficult situation. They started to eat different things due to the scarcity of food.

In the end, they had to write a letter to the Prophet: “You order people to show respect to the rights of relatives but you kill fathers and make children starve to death. Sumama has stopped sending us food. We are stuck in a difficult situation. Please send Sumama a letter regarding the issue.”[5]

Thereupon, the Prophet ignored all of their enmity and bad deeds and sent Sumama b. Usal a letter asking him not to prevent the people of Yamama from selling food to Makkans.

Upon the order of the Messenger of God, Sumama allowed the people of Yamama to sell grains to Makkans.[6]

As it can be seen, the Prophet treated his fiercest enemies very compassionately and mercifully in terms of food and drinks because of the importance he gives to human life. His heart, which was an ocean of compassion and mercy, could not give consent to the destruction of the Qurayshi polytheists, his fiercest enemies, due to hunger and thirst. It was only one of his best acts that suggested showing respect to life. When we look at his holy life from this point of view, it is definite that we will see many similar incidents.

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[1]Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, Vol. 2, p. 78.

[2]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 5, p. 550.

[3]Ibn Hisham, Sirah, Vol. 4, p. 287-288; Muslim, Sahih, Vol. 3, p. 1386.

[4]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 4, p. 288; Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 5, p. 550.

[5]Ibn Abdi’l-Barr, al-Istiab, Vol. 1, p. 215.

[6]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 4, p. 288; Ibn Abdi’l-Barr, ibid, Vol. 1, p. 215.

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