The Battle of Mu’tah

Relations between the Muslims and the Romans were strained, for the Romans together with their Arab allies used to aggravate and provoke the Muslims by any means. This was particularly apparent in their frequent attempts to attack the Muslim merchandise coming from Ash-Shaam (Greater Syria) and the plundering of the caravans threading their roads, not to speak of the stress and grief that they subjected to every Muslim they could seize.

Their abuse reached its peak when they killed Al-Haarith ibn ‘Umayr Al-‘Azdi, may Allah be pleased with him, the messenger whom the Prophet, , sent to Shurahbeel ibn ‘Amr Al-Ghassaani, the king of Busraa in Ash-Shaam, to call him to Islam. This situation was very difficult for the Prophet, , for this was the first of his messengers to be killed – contrary to the usual generous hosting and protection of messengers from harm.
 
Consequently, the Prophet, , called the Muslims to go out to fight the Romans so that he would discipline them and put an end to their barbarian conduct. Quickly, three thousand warriors assembled and the Prophet, , allocated three standards to three leaders to whom the Prophet, , decided to assign leadership of the army in tandem to. He said: "If Zayd ibn Haarithah is wounded, let Ja‘far ibn Abi Taalib succeed him. If Ja‘far is wounded, let ‘Abdullaah ibn Rawaahah, succeed him."[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
 
The army prepared and marched on a Friday in the eighth year of the Prophetic Hijrah. When people saw off the leaders of the army ‘Abdullah ibn Rawaahah, may Allah be pleased with him, cried. When people asked him why he did so, he told them that it was not due to clinging to the worldly life or to them, rather, he had heard the Prophet, , reciting the verse that says (what means): {And there is none of you except he will come to it [i.e., Hell]. This is upon your Lord inevitability decreed} [Quran 19:71]
 
Thus, he did not know how he would escape Hell, having come before it.
 
The Muslims supplicated to Allah The Almighty to support, protect and assist the army to return safely. ‘Abdullaah ibn Rawaahah, however, recited poetry in which he expressed his yearning for martyrdom.
 
The Prophet, , instructed his Companions to: "Go forth in the Name of Allah, in the cause of Allah and fight those who disbelieve in Allah. Proceed, but neither break pledges, act unfaithfully in regard to the booty, mutilate the killed, commit infanticide, nor kill the recluses in their monasteries." [Ahmad, Abu Daawood, An-Nasaa’i, At-Tirmithi and Ibn Maajah]
 
The Muslim army marched until they stopped at Ma‘aana, a village in Ash-Shaam, and they were informed that Heracles had arrived at Ma’aab in Al-Balqaa’ region with 100,000 Roman troops. His army was also reinforced by another 100,000 soldiers from the Arab tribes loyal to Heracles, like Lakhm, Juthaam, Balqayn, and Bahraa’.
 
Therefore, the Muslims held a consultation session. Some of them suggested sending a message to the Prophet, , informing him of the numbers of the enemies’ troops so that he could either send reinforcements or order them to return. Others suggested a safe return because the Muslims had already entered the country and scared its people. Meanwhile ‘Abdullaah ibn Rawaahah, may Allah be pleased with him, remained silent.
 
Zayd, may Allah be pleased with him, asked ‘Abdullaah ibn Rawaahah about his view and he said, "O people, what you hate is the thing for which you set out for – martyrdom. We do not fight others by virtue of troops, military gear or multitudes. We fight them by virtue of this religion with which Allah The Almighty honored us. Proceed and it will be one of two things, either gaining victory or martyrdom." Hence, the Muslim soldiers approved of his truthful words.
 
They proceeded until they were close to Al-Balqaa’, a region in Ash-Shaam, where they were met by the Roman and Arab troops at a village called Mashaarif. The enemies went forward and the Muslims drew back to a village called Mu’tah, which is known today as Kark. The armies met there and the Muslims prepared for confrontation, assigning leadership of the right wing of the army to Qutbah ibn Qataadah, may Allah be pleased with him, from Banu ‘Uthrah. Leadership of the left wing was assigned to ‘Ubaadah ibn Maalik, may Allah be pleased with him, from Al-Ansaar.
 
The two armies then engaged and fought relentlessly. Zayd ibn Haarithah, may Allah be pleased with him, was the first leader from the Muslims to be martyred whilst he was fighting courageously. Therefore Ja‘far ibn ‘Abu Taalib, may Allah be pleased with him, took the standard with his right hand and chanted lines of poetry referring to Paradise and his determination to fight the Romans. His right arm was cut off so he held the standard with his left hand, which was also cut off. He therefore enfolded the standard using the upper parts of his arms until he was martyred. ‘Abdullaah ibn Rawaahah, may Allah be pleased with him, grabbed the standard and endeavored to dismount from his horse. He recited lines of poetry swearing that he would dismount, and he went on wondering how his soul hated to be killed while it would later enjoy Paradise, and said to himself that if he was not killed in the battlefield, he would eventually die anyway.
 
After he had dismounted from his horse, one of his cousins offered him a piece of meat to eat so that he would have enough strength to fight on. No sooner had he taken a bite than he heard people shoving for combat. Thus he threw down the piece of meat and fought with his sword until he was martyred.
 
Thaabit ibn ‘Arqam ibn Tha‘labah Al-Ansaari, may Allah be pleased with him, took the standard and suggested that the Muslims should entrust leadership of the army to one of them. They suggested that he could do this, however he refused and they ultimately chose Khaalid ibnul-Waleed, may Allah be pleased with him.
 
Divine revelation quickly informed the Prophet, , of the incidents of the battle before people had received news that they were martyred. Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet, , announced that Zayd, Ja‘far and Ibn Rawaahah, may Allah be pleased with them, were martyred. It is reported that the Prophet, , said: "Zayd took the standard until he was martyred. Then Ja‘far took it until he was martyred. Then Ibn Rawaahah took it until he was martyred.”The Prophet, , then shed plentiful tears and said:“Then a sword from the swords of Allah took it until Allah The Almighty granted them victory." [Al-Bukhari]
 
Having assumed leadership, Khaalid, may Allah be pleased with him, wanted to save the Muslim army in a way that would maintain its entity and cause dread in the enemy. In his opinion the solution was to retreat and give the enemy the impression that new reinforcements had come to the Muslims. He kept his ground in the battlefield until night fell and he utilized the darkness to change the warriors’ positions, replacing the right wing with the left and the vanguard with the rearguard. He commissioned his cavalry to create clouds of dust and noisy clamor. Therefore the Romans thought that the Muslims were provided with reinforcements, so they lost power and the Muslims launched a fierce attack against them. Khaalid, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that he broke nine swords fighting, with nothing remaining in his hands but a Yemeni saber.
 
Thus, Khaalid, may Allah be pleased with him, managed to return with the army to Al-Madeenah with a small amount of potential losses, and killed numberless Romans, which constituted a great victory to Islam and Muslims.
 
When the army returned to Al-Madeenah some Muslims rebuked those who had fled at the beginning of the battle. These men feared Allah’s wrath and the anger of the Prophet, , so they resolved to travel by sea and leave Al-Madeenah. However, they suggested approaching the Prophet, , first to see whether they could repent, or else they would leave. They went to him, , before the dawn prayer. When he saw them he asked: "Who are you?" They replied: "We are those who fled." The Prophet, , said: "No! Rather, you are those who will return to the fighting. You are not to be blamed; you joined me and I am the recourse of all Muslims." They therefore drew near him and kissed his noble hands.
 
That was the battle of Mu’tah, which was full of valuable lessons. Once a person has read about its incidents, he cannot help but admire the Muslim combatants – those amazing soldiers, 3,000 in number, who faced the immense army of 200,000 warriors.
 
Just imagining these two military powers leads to the conclusion that victory would decisively be in favor of the greater army. Nevertheless, the Muslims stood firm, despite a small amount of troops and military gear, to show the greatest example of sacrifice, even gaining victory against the enemy in the greatest force experienced by the Roman Empire’s army.
 
The battle of Mu’tah is, according to all military criteria, a miracle and a supernatural event. The battle rendered the enemy face to face with the Islamic military principle that the Muslims would fight others based neither on troops nor military gear. Instead they fought by virtue of their religion. If we intend to fight sincerely for the sake of Allah and exhaust available means of military preparation, victory will be ours by the permission of Allah.
 
Love of spending and sacrificing one’s soul and wealth in the cause of Allah springs from a Muslim’s belief in Allah and the certainty of having His favor.
 
The remaining question is: will Muslims develop such valor and deduce lessons from the battle of Mu’tah? Islamic military history is particularly rich in lessons that may implant sacrifice in the hearts of Muslim youth so that the Ummah will be restored to its previous glory.
2017-12-14T12:32:05+00:00 November 20th, 2017|Beliefs, Islam|