News ID: 114804
Publish Date : 07 May 2023 - 22:34

The Stroke that Ensured the Eternity of Islam

By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz

“The stroke of Ali on the Day of Khandaq is superior to the worship of Thaqalayn (Mankind and Jinn).”
Thus spoke Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) this day (17th Shawwal, 5 AH) exactly 1439 lunar years ago, when his dear cousin and son-in-law, Imam Ali (AS), emerged unscathed from the cloud of dust after a life-and-death combat with the champion of the Arabs, Amr ibn Abduwad, who as the “embodiment of infidelity”, was also the representative of the Israelites in a joint bid to obliterate Islam.
Why did the “Messenger of Mercy (SAWA)” hail the stroke of the “Dhu’l-Fiqaar” (the twin-bladed sword) of his cousin as better than the acts of worship of all Mankind and Jinn combined – acts that include prayers, fasting, supplications, piety, jihad, martyrdom, recitation and explanation of the holy Qur’an, philanthropy, exploring human and rational sciences, etc.?
Were all those companions who had gathered around the “Prophet of Peace (SAWA)” for the past 18 years of his mission and endured persecution and displacement from their homes, and after his passing away would take control of the caliphate to extend Muslim rule over large parts of Asia, Africa, and Europe, insignificant creatures?
Were the millions of sword-strokes of the armies of the caliphs, who amassed great wealth by plundering the treasuries of Iran, Egypt, Spain, Sindh, and the eastern Roman Empire, worth nothing compared to this single stroke of the person whom he had groomed since childhood – years before Divine revelation dawned upon him and years before he began to acquire followers (many of whom after imposing fierce battles upon him and even conspiring to kill him but failing to do so because of the constant presence of the young Imam beside the Prophet)?
Was the “Mercy unto the creation (SAWA)” swayed by bonds of blood and kinship to express such a seemingly biased statement – recorded diligently by all compilers of hadith, whether Sunni or Shi’ite?
It is outright blasphemy to entertain such thoughts about Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), regarding whom the Almighty Creator says in Surah Najm in response to the doubts raised by those who had developed companionship with him:
“Your Companion (the Prophet) has neither gone astray, nor gone amiss. Nor does he speak out of [his own] desire; it is just revelation that is revealed [to him].”
It is also worth noting that God Almighty Who has immortalized in the Holy Qur’an the chaotic situation of the neo-Muslims and the ideas of apostasy that flashed across the minds of most of the Prophet’s Sahaba (companions) at the sight of the formidable 10,000 strong force of the Arab-Israelite Confederates besieging Medina during the crucial events of the Battle of Khandaq, has also made it crystal clear in this same Surah titled al-Ahzab (The Confederates):
“In the Prophet of Allah there is certainly for you a good exemplar, for those who look forward to Allah and the Last Day, and remember Allah greatly.” (21)
It is outside the scope of this brief newspaper column to go into details of the Battle of Khandaq (so-called because of the ditch dug around the vulnerable parts of Medina as a barrier to invasion on the suggestion of the Prophet’s Iranian companion, Salman Farsi – an unprecedented practice in Arabia).
Therefore, in order to better understand the dynamism of Islam, the wisdom of Prophet Muhammad’s (SAWA) words, and the peerless personality of his Divinely-designated Vicegerent, Imam Ali (AS), here are some more Ayahs of Surah Ahzab regarding the weak-of-faith Muslims and the hypocrites amongst them, as well as the faithful Momineen or true believers) whom the Lord Most High has eulogized.
“When they (the enemies) came at you from above and below you, and when the eyes rolled [with fear] and the hearts leapt to the throats, and you entertained misgivings about Allah.” (10)
“And when the hypocrites were saying, as well as those in whose hearts is a sickness, ‘Allah and His Prophet did not promise us [anything] except delusion.’ And when a group of them said: ‘O people of Yathreb! [This is] not a place for you, so go back!’ And a group of them sought the Prophet’s permission, saying, ‘our homes lie exposed [to the enemy],’ although they were not exposed. They only sought to flee.” (12, 13)
“Had they been invaded from its flanks and had they been asked to apostatize, they would have done so with only a mild hesitation; though they had certainly pledged to Allah before that they would not turn their backs [to flee], and pledges given to Allah are accountable. Say (O’ Prophet to them): Flight will not avail you should you flee from death or from being killed, and then you will be let to enjoy only for a little while.” (14, 15, 16)
“Allah knows those of you who discourage others, and those who say to their brethren, ‘come to us!’ and they take little part in the battle; grudging you [their help]. So when there is panic, you see them observing you, their eyes rolling, like someone fainting at death. Then, when the panic is over, they scald you (O’ Prophet) with [their] sharp tongues in their greed for riches. They never have had faith (in their hearts). So Allah has made their works fail, and that is easy for Allah. They suppose the confederates have not left yet, and were the confederates to come [again], they would wish they were in the desert with the Bedouins asking about your news, and if they were with you they would fight but a little.” (18, 19, 20)
This vivid description by the Heavenly Scripture is not of the pagan Arabs, Israelites, and other enemies of Islam. It was the state of affairs on the day of the Battle of Khandaq of the weak-of-faith Muslims as well as of hypocrites amongst the Prophet’s companions, which no Muslim can dispute.
In the following Ayahs of the same Surah, the One and Only Creator then praises the faithful (Momineen or true believers) who stood their ground, and it is obvious as to whom the reference is.
“But when the faithful saw the confederates, they said, ‘This is what Allah and His Prophet had promised us, and Allah and His Prophet were true.’ And it only increased them in faith and submission.” (22)
“Among the faithful are men who fulfill what they have pledged to Allah. Of them are some who have fulfilled their pledge (and achieved martyrdom), and of them are some who still wait and they have not changed in the least.” (23)
Imam Ali (AS), who has said in explicit words that Ayah 23 directly refers to him, took the field on the Prophet’s command and faced Amr ibn Abduwad, who had leapt his horse across the ditch to challenge the Muslims to fight.
The Imam, as the “Embodiment of Faith” (“Kulle Imaan” as the Prophet called him that day, first invited Amr ibn Abduwad to Islam and when he refused asked to go back, and when this proposal was also rejected by the proud pagan, unsheathed the “Dhu’l-Fiqaar) for the fight.
After a fierce fight the Imam sent the infidel to the netherworld, but not before allowing him to renew the life-and-death combat because the cowardly champion of the Arab-Israelite force when hurled to the ground had dared to spit at him.
This was one of the reasons the Prophet hailed his cousin’s selfless feat that was solely for the sake of God and without personal emotions involved in the combat, as “superior to the worship of all Mankind and Jinn”, since he knew the plot of the 5th column amongst his companions, who in case of Amr’s triumph, intended to hand over the Prophet to the Arab-Israelite confederates.
When Amr was killed, the Arab-Israelite force, watching the combat from the other side of the ditch, lost heart, and as God Almighty sent strong gales to disrupt their encampment, the enemies fled.
“Allah sent back the faithless in their rage, without their attaining any advantage, and Allah spared the faithful of fighting, and Allah is all-strong, all-mighty.” (Holy Qur’an 33:25)