By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz
“Muhammad is but a Prophet, (other) Prophets have passed before him. If he dies or is slain, will you turn back on your heels? Anyone who turns back on his heels will not harm Allah in the least, and soon Allah may reward the grateful.” (Holy Qur’an 3:144)
Today, the 15th of Shawwal is the day on which the above Ayah was revealed by God Almighty in the din of a decisive battle in the year 3 AH near Medina, to serve as a lasting lesson to mankind in every age and place around the globe, in order to distinguish faith from hypocrisy.
The encounter took place beside Mount Ohad when a heavily armed force of Meccan pagans led by that archenemy of Islam, Abu Sufyan, and goaded into brutal action with licentious promises by his villainous wife, Hind bint Otbah, was repelled in the initial encounter by the Muslims.
Old habits, however, die hard. Many among the Prophet’s companions who were fresh converts to Islam, on eyeing the baggage left behind by the retreating Meccans, forgot allegiance to their new faith and made a dash for plunder. Even those neo-Muslims who were assigned to guard the mountain pass against possible ambush, left their positions and darted for the loot.
It seems the Meccan pagans, aware of the pillaging habits of their former comrades for whom Islam was only skin-deep and had not yet penetrated into the hearts, had plotted for this very moment.
One of the pagan commanders, Khaled bin Waleed, who had been hiding behind the pass in anticipation, suddenly burst out, and along with his forces, made a direct attack on Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), shouting that this is the person which should be instantly killed so as to wipe out Islam once and for all.
The Prophet suffered several wounds while seventy of his loyal companions were martyred, including his brave uncle, Hamza (AS). The latter was struck from behind by Hind’s slave, Wahshi, who tore out his victim’s liver and took it to his mistress as proof of his savagery. Abu Sufyan’s evil wife tried to chew it, but God made it as hard as a stone so that no part of the blessed body of a man of paradise could be defiled by a woman who was destined for the fires of hell.
Amidst the baying of the beasts of Khaled for the Prophet’s blood, some satanic voices yelled that Muhammad (SAWA) has been killed. This unnerved the companions of the Prophet, who fled the battlefield. Some of them, in their mad rush to save their wretched skins, even took to the mountains on the other side of Medina.
One leading deserter (who later was the principal plotter in depriving the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt of their God-given right of political leadership of the Ummah and whose name need not be mentioned here), has been quoted by all early chroniclers as saying: “I was jumping on the rocks (out of fear of the fighting) like a mountain goat.”
God has reprimanded these habitual fugitives from Jihad, so that their cowardice serves as an eternal lesson for all generations to come, as is evident from the followings Ayahs of the holy Qur’an:
“When you were fleeing without paying attention to anyone, while the Prophet was calling you from your rear…” (3:153)
“Those of you who fled on the day when the two hosts met, only Satan had made them stumble because of some of their deeds…” (3:155)
Now we understand the immortality and universality of the events of the life of the Messengers of God, especially of the Last and Greatest of them, Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), in contrast to narrow nationalistic occurrences that have no lasting effects even on the limited lifespan of nation-states that rise and fall, despite the chauvinistic attitude of some to exaggerate them in vain without any precise knowledge and information.
It is worth noting that besides the Prophet’s valiant cousin and son-in-law, Imam Ali (AS), whose swordsmanship forced Khaled and his bloodthirsty hordes to retreat and saved the day for Islam, the few companions that stood beside the Prophet were Sahl bin Hunayf, Asim, and Abu Dajjana.
The flashing blade of Imam Ali (AS) repulsed the pagan Arabs as angels were heard chanting from the heavens:
“There is no sword except Zu’l-Feqar; there is no brave youth except Ali.”
Thus, without the least doubt, Islam is indebted to the valour of Imam Ali (AS). This was the reason that after the tragedy of Karbala, when the severed head of the Prophet’s grandson, Imam Husain (AS), was placed before the tyrant Yazid – grandson of the accursed pair Abu Sufyan and Hind – he wished his pagan ancestors who were killed in the Battles of Badr and Ohad were alive to see the affliction that had befallen the Prophet’s Household, thus admitting that despite his pretensions to be caliph of Muslims, he was a heathen at heart.
Among the immortal scenes of the Battle Ohad is the rushing of the Prophet’s Immaculate Daughter, Hazrat Fatema Zahra (SA) to the scene of the encounter to nurse the wounds of her father, when his companions were fleeing in the other direction.
It was at Ohad, from the clay of the grave of her martyred grand-uncle, Hamza (AS) that the Prophet’s Noble Daughter made her famous rosary of earthen beads.
Alas, in 1925, Wahhabi heretics destroyed the tombs of the Martyrs of Ohad including that of the valiant Hamza (AS), for whom it is customary till this day among many Muslims, especially the people of Egypt, to recount his tragic death, before mourning their own dead.