It was the most significant and the fierce battle during the lifetime of Nabi Pakﷺ a beginning and a start to the great conquests of the land of the Christians. It took place in Jumada AlUla 8 A.H./September 629 C.E. Mu’tah is a village on the borders of Greater Syria, it is at relatively short distance from Baitul-Maqdis. The Nabi Pakﷺ had sent Al-Harith bin ‘Umair Al-Azdi Radiallahu anhoo on a mission to carry a letter to the ruler of Busra. On his way, he was intercepted by Shurahbil bin ‘Amr Al-Ghassani, the governor of AlBalqa’ and a close ally to Caesar, the Byzantine Emperor. AlHarith was tied and beheaded by Al-Ghassani.
Killing envoys and messengers used to be regarded as the most awful crime, and amounted to a declaration of war. The Prophetﷺon hearing the news and ordered that a army of 3000 men be mobilized and dispatched to the north to discipline the transgressors. It was the largest Muslim army never mobilized on this scale except in the course of the Confederates Battle.
Zaid bin Harithah Radiallahu anhoo was appointed to lead the army. Ja’far bin Abi Talib Radiallahu anhoo would replace him if he was killed, and ‘Abdullah bin Rawahah Radiallahu anhoo would succeed Ja’far in case the latter fell. 2)A white banner was raised and handed over to Zaid.
The Nabi Pakﷺ recommended that they reach the scene of AlHarith’s murder and invite the people to profess Islam. Should the latter respond positively, then no war would follow, otherwise fighting them would be the only alternative left.
He ordered them:
Fight the disbelievers in the Name of Allâh, neither plunder nor conceal booty, kill no children or woman, nor an ageing man or a hermit be killed; moreover neither trees should be cut down nor homes demolished.
The Army prepares and ‘Abdullah cries
At the conclusion of the military preparations, the people of Madinah gathered and bade the army farewell. ‘Abdullah bin Rawahah Radiallahu anhoo began to weep at that moment, and when asked why he was weeping, he swore that it was not love for this world nor under a motive of passion with the glamour of life but rather the Words of Allâh speaking of Fire that he heard the Prophet & reciting:
“There is not one of you but will pass over it (Hell): this is with your Lord, a Decree which must be accomplished.”
The Nabi Pakﷺ and the people then accompanied the army until they reached the valley of Thaniyah where they stopped and he supplicated for them.
The Army marches and holds a Council at Ma’an
The army then marched northward to Ma’an, a town bordering on Greater Syria. There news came that Heraclius had mobilized a hundred thousand troops together with another hundred thousand men of Lakhm. Judham, Balqain, Bahra’ and Bali – Arabian tribes allied to the Byzantines. The Muslims, on their part had never thought of encountering such a huge army. They were at a loss about what course to follow, and spent two nights debating these unfavorable conditions. Some suggested that they
should write a letter to the Nabi Pakﷺ seeking his advice. ‘Abdullah bin Rawahah Radiallahu anhoo opposed to them being unwilling and addressed the Muslims saying: “I swear by Allah that the very object which you are trying to avoid is the one you have set out seeking, martyrdom. In our fight we don’t count on number of soldiers or equipment but rather on the Faith that Allah has honored us with. Hasten to win either of the two, victory or martyrdom.”
The Army heads for the Enemy
In the light of these words, they moved to engage with the enemy in Masharif, a town of Al-Balqa’, and then changed direction towards Mu’tah where they encamped. The right flank was led by Qutbah bin Qatadah Al-‘Udhari Radiallahu anhoo, and the left by ‘Ubadah bin Malik Al-Ansari Radiallahu anhoo. Bitter fighting started between the two parties, three thousand Muslims against an enemy fiftyfold as large.
Zaid bin Harithah Radiallahu anhoo the closest to the Messenger’s heart, assumed leadership and began to fight with his full strength and in matchless spirit of bravery until he fell, fatally stabbed. Ja’far bin Abi Talib Radiallahu anhoo then took the banner and did a miraculous job. In the thick of the battle, he dismounted, shot his horse and resumed fighting until his right hand was cut off.
He seized the banner with his left hand until this too was gone He then clasped the banner with both arms until a Byzantine soldier struck and cut him into two parts. He was after the death called “the flying Ja’far” or “Ja’far with two wings” because Allâh has awarded him two wings to fly wherever he desired there in the eternal Garden. Al-Bukhari reported fifty wounds in his body, none of them in the back. Sahih Al-Bukhart 2/611.
‘Abdullah bin Rawahah Radiallahu anhoo then proceeded to hold up the banner and fight bravely on his horseback while reciting enthusiastic verses until he too was killed. Thereupon a man, from Bani “Ajlan, called Thabit bin Al-Arqam took the banner and called upon the
Muslims to choose a leader. The honor was unanimously granted to Khalid bin Al-Walid a skilled brave fighter and an outstanding strategist. It was reported by Al-Bukhart that he used nine swords that broke while he was relentlessly and courageously fighting the enemies of Islam. He, however, realizing the grave situation the Muslims were in, began to follow a different course of encounter, revealing the super strategy-maker, that Khalid was rightly called.
He reshuffled the right and left flanks of the Muslim army and introduced forward a division from the rear in order to cast fear into the hearts of the Byzantine by misleading them that fresh forces had arrived. The Muslims engaged with the enemies in random clashes but gradually and judiciously retreating in a fully organized and well-planned withdrawal.
The Byzantines, seeing this new strategy, believed that they were being entrapped and drawn in the heart of the desert. They stopped the pursuit, and consequently the Muslims managed to retreat back to Madinah with the slightest losses.
The Muslims sustained twelve martyrs, whereas the number of casualties among the Byzantines was unknown although the details of the battle point clearly to a large number. Even though the battle did not satisfy the Muslims’ objective, namely avenging Al-Harith’s murder, it resulted in a far-ranging impact and attached to the Muslims a great reputation in the battlefields. The Byzantine Empire, at that time, was a power to be reckoned with, and merely thinking of going against it used to mean selfdestruction, let alone a three-thousand-soldier army going into battle against 200,000 soldiers far better equipped and lavishly furnished with all the luxurious conveniences.
The battle was a real miracle proving that the Muslims were something exceptional not then known. Moreover, it gave evidence that Allâh backed them and their Nabi Pakﷺ. In the light of
these new strategic changes, the archenemies among the desert bedouins began to reconcile themselves with the new uprising faith and several disobedient tribes like Banu Sulaim Ashja’, Ghatafan, Dhubyan, Fazarah and others came to profess Islam out of their own free will.
The Mu’tah Battle, after all, constituted the forerunner of the blood encounter to subsequently take place with the Byzantines. It pointed markedly to a new era of the Islamic conquest of the Byzantine empire and other remote countries, to follow at a later stage.
Dhatus-Salasil is a spot situated ten days’ walk north of Madinah. The Muslims are said to have encamped in a place with a well of water called Salsal, hence the terminology Dhatus-Salasil. In view of the alliance between the Arabian tribes on the borders of Syria and the Byzantines, the Nabi Pakﷺ deemed it of top urgency to carry out a wisely-planned scheme that might bring about a state of relationship with those bedouins, and would at the same time separate them from the Byzantines. For the implementation of this plan. he chose ‘Amr bin Al-‘As with whose paternal grandmother came from Bali, a tribe dwelling in that area. This motive in mind, combined with provocative military movements by Bani Quda’ah, brought about this preventive strike which started in Jumada Ath-Thaniyah, 8 A.H.
‘Amr bin Al-‘As was awarded a white flag with a black banner to go with it. He set out at the head of 300 Emigrants and Helpers assisted by a cavalry of 30 men, and was recommended to seek help from the tribes of Bali, ‘Udhrah and Balqain. He marched at night and camped in a concealed location during the day.
On approaching the enemy lines and realizing the large build up of men, he sent for more forces from Madinah, and these arrived on the spot headed by Abu ‘Ubaidah bin Al-Jarrah leading further 200 men as well as other platoons including Abu Bakr and ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab within
All of them were given strict orders to cooperate, work in harmony and never leave any area for disagreement.
At noon, Abu ‘Ubaidah wanted to lead the Muslims in prayer, but ‘Amr objected on grounds that the former came only to assist, and leadership in prayer was given to him.
The Muslim army reached the location of Quda’ah and penetrated deep in their land, destroyed the enemies and obliged the others to flee for their lives in different directions,
At the conclusion of the military operations, a courier was dispatched to Allâh’s Messenger ﷺ to brief him on the developments of events and the ultimate victory achieved.
The Khadrah Mission
In the month of Sha’ban 8 A.H., news reached the Nabi Pakﷺ of the gathering of troops of Bani Ghatafan, still outside the domain of Islam. He urgently summoned Abu Qatadah and sent him at the head of fifteen men to discipline those outlaws.
It took fifteen days to teach them an unforgettable lesson. Some were killed, others captured and all their property seized