Seerah of the Prophet: Banu Bakr ibn Kilab-Banu Mustaliq
(student notes Wednesday, February 5, 2003)

There's a saying that when a sheep falls down, the knights rush forth to stab it. Everyone wants a piece of the sheep. This was the Prophet's situation at the moment during the 5th-6th year after hijrah. The hypocrites around him thought he was on the down side and their hidden agenda (hatred, envy and seeking to oppress) began appearing.

Banu Bakr ibn Kilab was one of these tribes. News spread that they were plotting to kill the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam). The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) gathered 30 or so of the Sahabah headed by Muhammad ibn Maslama to bring to an end their ill efforts. When this Sariyah[1] reached the area, all of Banu Bakr fled. There was no fighting and the Sahabah was victorious. On the way back to Madinah they stumbled upon another group headed by Thumamah ibn Uthalah of Bani Hanif trying to enter Madinah to harm the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam). Muhammad ibn Maslama and his group captured Thumamah and brought him to the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam).

The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) ordered Thumamah to be tied to a pole next to the masjid. On the first morning, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) walked up to Thumamah and asked him how he was doing. Thumamah answered him, "If you kill a man that had a lot of people behind him, his blood will be avenged. If you forgive him he will compensate you. If you ransom him, then his people will pay you well."

On the second day, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) asked him the same and Thumamah responded in the same way. On the third day, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) asked him again how he was doing and again Thumamah answered him in the same way. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) finally agreed to let him go. By about 1/3rd of the way back to his tribe, Thumamah stopped and took his shahadah. He returned to Madinah and recited his shahadah in public in front of the Sahabah. They asked him why he waited to leave Madinah in order to say the shahahdah, and he said he did it so he would not feel that he was coerced into Islam. He took a bath and purified himself.

As a new Muslim he returned to Makkah, performed Hajj and told the Quraish to embrace Islam. The Quraish refused. Much to their surprise, he told them that since his tribe, bani bakr, is responsible for the transport of wheat to Makkah, he will discontinue the wheat until the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) approves of it. The result of Thumamah's actions was that the Quraish went to the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) and pleaded with him for permission, to the extent of using their blood ties with him as a reason. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) allowed wheat to pass through.

Thumamah's first action as a new Muslim towards the Quraish was an example of his natural inclination and fervor for "la ilaha ilallah", the affirmation and negation of our belief in Allah. [2]

Another tribe who plotted against the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) was Bani Mustaliq. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) gathered a Ghazwah[3] this time to attack Bani Mustaliq . Again this event gives us a clear perception on how the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) dealt with attempts against the Muslims. He did not wait for imminent physical danger to come to him, instead he went forth and took are of the threat before the enemy acts upon it.

The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) and his companions who joined him in the Ghazwah attacked Bani
Mustaliq at a well called al Muraysah. They attacked and killed the men while their women were apprehended. This is proof that one does not need to always announce an attack to the enemy because a warning at this situation would harm the Muslim's position.

At this battle, one of the Sahabah named Hisham Ibn Tababah was killed by another Sahabah by accident. His brother named Mithyas approached the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) later on and asked to be paid blood money of 100 camels. They questioned his identity as a Muslim but he professed to have been Muslim. After he was paid, he returned to his tribe boasting about how he deceived the Muslims. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) sent the Sahabah to kill Mithyas for his deception to the point of telling the Sahabah, ".. even if you see him hanging on the Ka'bah."

Only one man was able to escape this battle- Harith ibn Dirar. His daughter, Juwairiyah bint Harith, was captured. She was a very wise and beautiful woman. She was to be the slave of Thabit ibn Qays, but the moment she was captured she requested for a mukatabah [4]. Thabit had no choice but to accept this since it was fard to accept a request like this. Juwairiyah approached the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) for help. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) in turn told her he would pay all of the ransom and also marry her. [5] She accepted his proposal and she eventually became one of his wives. The consequence of her marriage was that her entire tribe was set free because the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) could not possibly conceive of having his in-laws enslaved.

The Sahabah were extremely exhausted and thirsty after this battle. They gathered around the well to drink. There were many people at the well two of them were Jahja, a Muhajir and alJohani, an ansar. Little skirmishes of pushing and shoving out of thirst broke out. The Muhajir Jahja began to insult the Ansar alJohan while a big crowd rallied behind each one. After the skirmish stopped, an Ansar named Abdullah bin Ubayy came and said "Wait until we get to Madinah. The honorable will oust the low one. Feed your dog and make him strong and he will come back and bite you."

One boy in his preteen named Zaid Ibn alArqam heard this and reported this to the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam). Umar (radhi Allahu anhu), who was standing beside the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) at that time, offered to slice off Abdullah's neck, but the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said refused. He (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) instead decided to travel to Madinah at that very moment with the entire Ghazwah and the captives. [6] They walked for the remainder of the day after that battle, one day after that and one night, exhausted and worn out . The people, one of whom Usaid ibn Hudhayf, asked him why he made this decision. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) responded by saying "Did you hear what Abdullah ibn Ubayy said?" Thus, word spread around the Sahabah. The little boy Zaid ibn alArqam was accused of lying or not hearing it correctly. He became extremely distressed all day until Allah then sent down a revelation which was the entire Surah alMunafiqoon in honor of his testimony and because he had the correct al wala' wal bara'.

Upon hearing this, Abdullah the son of this Abdullah ibn Ubayy stopped his father at the border and did not allow him to enter Madinah until the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said his father could enter. Abdullah the son of Abdullah told the propohet that he would kill his own father because no one else will do it. But the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) advised him to be patient and allowed Abdullah bin Ubayy to enter Madinah.

Abdullah was reported to have lived a normal life and the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) even stood over his grave. This was later abrogated by "And never (O Muhammad) pray (funeral prayer) for any of them (hypocrites) who dies, nor stand at his grave. Certainly they disbelieved in Allah and His Messenger, and died while they were Fasiqun." 9:84

The main point of the battle was that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) was surrounded by hypocrites. While it is easy to see the kuffar because their disbelief is clear, the hypocrites are hidden.

1] A Sariyah is a small band of fighters that fight a battle without the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) among them.
2] This is reminiscent of the story about how at-Tufayl ibn Dawsi embraced Islam. The quraish told at-Tufayl that when he sees the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) at the Ka'bah to cover his ears becasue the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) recites wicked poetry. So, at-Tufayl took their advice and covered his ears. But as he was making tawaf he became curious at what the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) was saying. At-Tufayl removed his ear covers and heard the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) reciting the Qur'an. At-Tufayl found became astonished and embraced Islam. He returned to his tribe, the Daws, and within one year all of Daws became Muslim, including Abu Hurairah (radhi Allahu anhu).
With only the knowledge of "la ilaha ilallah" and what that affirmation and negation entails of a believer, at-Tufayl went to his tribe and people entered Islam. The two lessons we benefit from at-Tufayl's story are: 1] There was no hadith at the time about encouraging others to enter Islam, yet he went forth out of his fitrah of "la ilaha ilallah" to convince people that it was the truth. 2] He had a clear intention, ibadah for the sake of Allah.
3] A Ghazwah, on the other hand, is a big army of Muslims and the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) is among them.
4] Any slave who wants to have monthly payment for her freedom, and it is fard to accept it.
5] Before this battle, Juwairiyah had a dream that the sun fell on her lap. This was interpreted that she would marry the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam). Because of this, her parents and other relatives disowned her.
6] The wisdom behind this decision was that if people were angry they would be too tired to fight and squibble if they were walking.




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