Ghazwas and Sariyyas

Ghazwa : (Military expeditions in which the prophet took part)

Sariyya : (Military expeditions in which the prophet did not take part)

Ghazwah of Buwat

(Month of Rabiulawwal, 2nd Year of Hijrah)

The Prophet left Madinah with two hundred Muhajirs. His aim was to walk against and intimidate the big caravan of Quraysh consisting of 2500 camels controlled by one hundred guards, among whom was Umayya b. Khalaf, the ferocious polytheist.

The Prophet proceeded up to the Buwat Mount but did not see anyone; so he returned to Madinah. (1)

Ghazwah of Safawan

(Month of Rabiulawwal, 2nd Year of Hijrah)

Kurz bin Jabir al-Fihri, one of the Makkan polytheists, attacked the meadows of Madinah with his friends and stole many animals belonging to the people of Madinah and Muslims.

Upon this attack, the Prophet appointed Zayd b. Haritha as his deputy in Madinah and set out to follow the plunderer. He proceeded to the Safawan valley of Badr region. However, Kurz was informed that he was being followed; so, he fled through a far away road.

Thereupon the Prophet returned to Madinah.

This ghazwa is also called “Badr al-Ula”; that is, “the first Ghazwa of Badr”. (2)

Ghazwah of Ushayra

(Month of Jumada al-awwal, 2nd Year of Hijrah)

Three months after the Ghazwah of Safawan, the Messenger of God left Madinah with a military unit consisting of 150-200 muhajirs. They had thirty camels with them. The soldiers rode the camels in turns. 

The aim was to follow the caravan of trade sent by Quraysh to Damascus.

However, when they reached the plain of Ushayra, belonging to Banu Mudlij and which was nine halting places away from Madinah, they found out that the caravan of Quraysh had passed two or three days earlier.

The Prophet who gave great importance to securing the surroundings of Madinah signed a treaty of friendship with Banu Mudlij, who were the allies of Banu Damra, with whom the Prophet had agreed a similar agreement before, there. Then, he returned to Madinah. (3)

Sariyya Led by Abdullah b. Jahsh

(Month of Rajab, 2nd Year of Hijrah)

The Prophet called Abdullah b. Jahsh to his presence and ordered him to go to the Valley of Nahla with a team of eight Muslims. He addressed that team as follows: “I will appoint someone as your leader; he is not the best of you but he can put with hunger and thirst the most.” (4)

The Messenger of God gave a letter to Abdullah b. Jahsh, whom he appointed as their leader. He told him to open the letter after proceeding for two days and to act accordingly. 

After a journey of two days, Abdullah b. Jahsh opened the letter and read it as he was commanded. He saw that the following was written in the letter:

“When you read the letter, go down to the Valley of Nahla, which is between Makka and Taif. Watch the Qurayshis there and inform me about them.” (5)

Then, the aim of the sariyya was to watch the Qurayshis and find out about their preparations.

Abdullah b. Jahsh, the heroic Companion, said, “Sa¬mi’na wa ata’na [We have listened to it and obeyed it]”. Then, he turned toward his soldiers and said, “If you want to be a martyr and desire martyrdom, come with me; if you do not want to be a martyr, return. I will fulfill the order of the Messenger of God.” (6)

The self-sacrificing warriors stated without hesitation that they were ready for the orders of their leader.

The warriors reached the Valley of Nahla by riding the camels in turns. They stopped there for the night.

Meanwhile, they saw a Quraysh caravan that was carrying raisins and some other kinds of food. They stopped over at a place near them.

The warriors discussed about what to do. They could not decide whether to attack or not at first. They were hesitant whether the month of Rajab, in which it is haram to shed blood, had started or not. Then, they decided that it was one day before the month of Rajab; thereupon, they agreed unanimously to capture the caravan. Meanwhile, Waqid bin Abdullah killed Amr bin Khadrami, the leader of the caravan, with an arrow. The Muslim warriors attacked the others. They took two people captives and captured the caravan.

Those who were not killed or captured ran away toward Makkah to inform the Qurayshis about the incident. The Muslim warriors returned to Madinah with two captives and the caravan.

When Abdullah b. Jahsh, the leader of the Sariyya, informed the Messenger of God what had happened, the Prophet got angry and said, “I did not order you to fight in a haram month!”; he did not take anything from the booty. 

The warriors who were on the expedition were astonished by the act of the Prophet. When the other Companions did not approve of what they had done, they were in great distress and trouble.

They explained the situation to the Messenger of God. They said, “O Messenger of God! We killed him on the last day and night of the month of Jumada al-akhir! We sheathed our swords when the month of Rajab started!”

However, the Messenger of God did not take the booty allocated to him because there was a doubt about the situation.

As a matter of fact, the Makkan polytheists kept harping about the incident. They said, “Muhammad and his Companions rendered what was haram as halal and shed blood in a haram month, captured bounties and took our men captives.”

Those rumors were heard in Madinah, too.

Besides, the Jews in Madinah started to talk about it, too.

The warriors that were on the expedition were very sorry; on the other hand, Makkan polytheists and Jews in Madinah were talking against them. The Prophet did not accept the booty allocated for him.

After a while, a verse was sent down regarding the issue and the issue was settled down. The following is stated in the verse: 

“They ask thee concerning fighting in the Prohibited Month. Say: "Fighting therein is a grave (offence); but graver is it in the sight of God to prevent access to the path of God, to deny Him, to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque, and drive out its members. Tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter. Nor will they cease fighting you until they turn you back from your faith if they can.” (7)

The warriors who joined the sariyya were relieved of the troubles and spiritual agonies. The Prophet accepted his share of the beauty. The polytheists paid ransom for the captives. One of the captives, Uthman b. Abdullah went to Makkah but the other one, Ha¬kam b. Kaysan became a Muslim and stayed in Madinah. (8)

How did Hakam b. Kaysan become a Muslim?

We would like to state how Hakam b. Kaysan, one of the captives, became a Muslim to draw lessons here.

When he was taken captive by the warriors, Abdullah b. Jahsh, the commander, wanted to kill him; however, the other Companions prevented it by saying, “No. Let us take him to the Messenger of God.” Thus, Hakam was saved from being killed. 

When they returned to Madinah, they took him to the Prophet. The Messenger of God asked Hakam to become a Muslim. However, he did not accept it and started to say bad things.

Having got furious due to Hakam’s talk, Hazrat Umar said, “He will not become a Muslim, O Messenger of God! Let me kill him!”

The Messenger of God did not let him do it and asked Hakam to become a Muslim again. Hakam asked, “What is Islam?”

The Messenger of God said, “Islam is belief in the existence of one God, who has no partners and worshipping Him, and witnessing that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.” Thereupon, Hakam said, “I have become a Muslim.” and uttered kalima ash-shahadah.

The Messenger of God turned toward the Companions and said, “If we had killed him as you wanted, he would have gone to Hell!” (9), teaching us all a lesson.

The desire, patience and steadfastness about calling people to Islam saved a person from Hell and elevated him to the honorable rank of Companionship.

1. Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, V. 2, p. 8-9.

2. Ibn Hisham, Sirah, V. 2, p. 251; Ibn Sa’d, ibid, V. 2, p. 9.

3. Ibn Hisham, Sirah, V. 2, p. 248-249; Ibn Sa’d, ibid, V. 2, p. 9-10.

4. Ibn Abdi’l-Barr, al-Istiab, V. 3, p. 878.

5.  Ibn Hisham, Sirah, V. 2, p. 252; Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, V. 2, p. 10.

6. Ibn Hisham, ibid, V. 2, p. 252; Ibn Sa’d, ibid, V. 2, p. 10.

7.  al-Baqara, 217.

8.  Ibn Hisham, Sirah, V. 2, p. 255; Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, V. 2, p. 11.

9. Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, V. 4, p. 137-138.

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