Battle of Uhud – The Second Greatest Battle In Islam
Fought in 3 AH, the Battle of Uhud is the second greatest battle fought between the Muslim army under the leadership of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the leaders of the Quraysh. The Battle of Uhud took place in the name of revenge one year after the Battle of Badr and three years following the migration to Madinah.
However, the initial victory of the Muslims during Ghazwah Uhud soon turned into defeat after some archers left a strategically important spot, allowing the Quraysh to attack from behind. Read on to learn more about the Battle of Uhud.
What Was the Battle of Uhud?
Fought on Mount Uhud, which is located 4 miles away from the north of Madinah, the Battle of Uhud took place between the idolaters of Makkah and the Muslims (Muhajarin and Ansar) of Madinah. Also known as “Ghazwah Uhud,” the Battle of Uhud is seen in Islam as evidence that victory is never guaranteed.
Being Muslims, we should always follow the instructions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) regardless of the requirements of the situation. In simpler words, the Battle of Uhud was a key learning point for the Muslims as it taught them to never give in to greed and pride and always be humble, disciplined and have faith in Allah SWT.
When Did the Battle of Uhud Happen?
Almost one year after the humiliating defeat in the Battle of Badr, with the intention to take revenge on the Muslims, kill Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and destroy Islam, the Makkan leaders gathered a massive army of 700 goats, 200 horses, 300 camels and 3000 soldiers under the command of Abu Sufyan.
However, this time the Makkan army was also accompanied by a women’s wing (mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters of those who lost their lives in the Battle of Badr) under the command of Hind. Moreover, the right and left flanks were commanded by Khalid bin Waleed and Ikrimah ibn Abi Jahl, respectively. Whereas Amr ibn al-As was named the coordinator between the two flanks.
On the other end, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), along with a Muslim army of 700 troops, including 4 horsemen and 50 archers, left for the valley of Uhud as soon as they got to know the enemy’s plan. Mundhir bin Amr (RA) was appointed the commander of the left-wing, whereas Zubair bin al-Awwam was appointed the leader of the right wing.
On reaching mount Uhud, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) appointed Abdullah ibn Jubair (RA) as the leader of the 50 archers and ordered them to stay at Jabal al-Rumah at all costs. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
“Stick to your place, and don’t leave it even if you see birds snatching us till I send for you, and if you see that we have defeated the infidels and made them flee, even then you should not leave your place till I send for you.”
The Battle of Uhud began soon after the Makkan army arrived. During the initial hours, the Muslim soldiers strategically concentrated their attack on the eleven influential Makkan leaders and succeeded in wiping them out. Abu Dujanah (RA) and Hazrat Hamza (RA) fought with great bravery, setting an example in Muslim military history.
Tragically, Hazrat Hamza (RA), also called the “Lion of Allah SWT,” was martyred in the Battle of Uhud by the spear of an Abyssinian slave, Wahshi bin Harb.
However, despite the great loss of Hazrat Hamza (RA), the Muslim army didn’t lose hope and kept on fighting with utmost bravery and strength. As Muslims managed to overcome the fierce Quraysh army, most of the unbelievers started fleeing away. On witnessing the situation, the archers appointed on top of Mount Uhud thought that they had won the battle and left their places in greed of the war booty, disobeying the command of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and leaving the Muslims vulnerable.
The sudden vacuum and disappearance of the Muslims gave Khalid bin Waleed an idea, and so he ordered his men to attack the Muslims from behind. Soon the Muslim army found themselves surrounded by the pagans of Makkah. Due to the disorder and panic, the Muslim army failed to carry out its plan.
During this, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was hit by a rock that bruised his lower lip, chipped off his teeth, and damaged his helmet. As the blood ran down his face, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “How can a people prosper who have stained their Prophet’s (PBUH) face with blood while he summoned them to their Lord!”
Musab bin Umair (RA), who resembled Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), was also killed by the Makkans. This led to creating a misunderstanding that Abdullah bin Qam’a had killed Muhammad. Soon after the rumour spread, the already dismayed Muslim army lost all hope.
This is when Ka’b bin Malik (RA) caught sight of the injured yet very much alive Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and said, “O Muslims, rejoice! Here is the Prophet (PBUH)!” Hearing this, the galvanised believers ran towards the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), thirty of whom surrounded him. Seeing that the Muslims had already lost, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) asked the army to retreat. He successfully led the troops to a shelter on top of the mountain.
What Does “Uhud” Mean?
The Arabic word “Uhud” literally means “The One,” referring to the oneness of Allah SWT. In other places, it is said that the word “Uhud” means pledge, commitment, and delegation.
However, there are two different stories that claim how Mount Uhud got its name. One states that it was named after a giant man who lived on the top of Mount Uhud. On the other hand, people say that it is called Uhud due to its unique structure and standing compared to the nearby mountains.
Who Won the Battle of Uhud?
The Makkan cavalry found their opening as the Muslim archers abandoned their position for the greed of the war booty. The pagans attacked from behind and encircled the Muslims from all directions. The chaos and despair caused most of the Muslims to retreat while the others bravely fought hand-to-hand combat.
Witnessing this, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) asked his soldiers to withdraw, resulting in the victory of the pagan Makkans.
The Battle of Uhud ended with almost 70 Muslims martyred, including Musab bin Umayr and Hazrat Hamza bin Abdul Muttalib.
Allah’s SWT message in the Holy Quran to the believers of the Battle of Uhud:
“So do not become weak (against your enemy), nor be sad, and you will be superior (in victory) if you are indeed (true) believers. If a wound (and killing) has touched you, be sure a similar wound (and killing) has touched the others. And so are the days (good and not so good), We give to men by turns, that Allah may test those who believe, and that He may take martyrs from among you. And Allah likes not the Zalimeen (polytheists and wrongdoers). And that Allah may test (or purify) the believers (from sins) and destroy the disbelievers. Do you think that you will enter Paradise before Allah tests those of you who fought (in His Cause) and (also) tests those who are patient? You did indeed wish for martyrdom (Ash-shahadah) before you met it. Now you have seen it openly with your own eyes.”
[Surah Al-Imran: 139-143]
Allah SWT in the Holy Quran says while referring to the cowards of the Battle of Uhud:
“We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve, because they joined others in worship with Allah for which He had sent no authority their abode will be the Fire and how evil is the abode of the Zalimeen (polytheists and wrong-doers).
And Allah did indeed fulfil His Promise to you when you were killing them (your enemy) with His Permission; until (the moment) you lost your courage and fell to disputing about the order, and disobeyed after He showed you (of the booty) which you love. Among you are some that desire this world and some that desire the Hereafter. Then He made you flee from them (your enemy), that He might test you. But surely He forgave you, and Allah is Most Gracious to the believers.
(And remember) when you ran away (dreadfully) without even casting a side glance at anyone, and the Messenger (Muhammad) was in your rear calling you back. There did Allah give you one distress after another by way of requital to teach you not to grieve for that which had escaped you, nor for that which had befallen you. And Allah is Well-Aware of all that you do.
Then after the distress, He sent down security for you. Slumber overtook a party of you, while another party was thinking about themselves (as how to save their own selves, ignoring the others and the Prophet) and thought wrongly of Allah – the thought of ignorance. They said, “Have we any part in the affair?” Say you (0 Muhammad): “Indeed the affair belongs wholly to Allah.” They hide within themselves what they dare not reveal to you, saying: “If we had anything to do with the affair none of us would have been killed here.” Say: “Even if you had remained in your homes, those for whom death was decreed would certainly have gone forth to the place of their death,” but that Allah might test what is in your breasts; and to Mahis to test, to purify to get rid of that which was in your hearts (sins), and Allah is All-Knower of what is in (your) breasts.” [Surah Al-Imran: 151-154]
Hadiths about the Battle of Uhud
“The Prophet (PBUH) appointed ‘Abdullah bin Jubair as the commander of the infantrymen (archers) who were fifty on the day (of the battle) of Uhud. He instructed them, “Stick to your place, and don’t leave it even if you see birds snatching us, till I send for you; and if you see that we have defeated the infidels and made them flee, even then you should not leave your place till I send for you.” Then the infidels were defeated. By Allah, I saw the women fleeing lifting up their clothes and revealing their leg-bangles and their legs. So, the companions of ‘Abdullah bin Jubair said, “The booty! O people, the booty! Your companions have become victorious, what are you waiting for now?” ‘Abdullah bin Jubair said, “Have you forgotten what Allah’s Apostle said to you?” They replied, “By Allah! We will go to the people (i.e. the enemy) and collect our share from the war booty.” But when they went to them, they were forced to turn back defeated. At that time Allah’s Apostle in their rear was calling them back. Only twelve men remained with the Prophet (PBUH) and the infidels martyred seventy men from us.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
In another place, it is narrated by Sahih Al-Bukhari: “When the Prophet (PBUH) went out for (the battle of) Uhud, some of his companions (hypocrites) returned (home). A party of the believers remarked that they would kill those (hypocrites) who had returned, but another party said that they would not kill them. So, this Divine Inspiration was revealed: “Then what is the matter with you that you are divided into two parties concerning the hypocrites.” (4.88) The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Medina expels the bad persons from it, as fire expels the impurities of iron.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
Facts about the Battle of Uhud
The Battle of Uhud took place on the 3 AH. It was the second greatest battle between the pagan Makkan forces and the Muslims of Madinah. Here are some lesser-known facts about Ghazwah Uhud.
Fact 1: Masjid Shaikhain
Masjid Shaikhain is located on the place where Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) prayed Salah on the eve of 3 AH. Not only this but all the preparations for the Battle of Uhud were made here, and so even today many Muslims visit Masjid Shaikhain to pay tribute to the martyrs of Ghazwah Uhud.
Fact 2: Masjid Mustarah
Masjid Mustarah today stands on the spot where Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) prayed and rested after the Battle of Uhud. The literal meaning of “Mustarah” is to “rest.” During the battle, the site of Masjid Mustarah held great strategic significance for the security of Madinah. People today visit Masjid Mustarah to revive the story of the great Battle of Uhud.
Fact 3: Khalid Bin Waleed Attacked Again
Did you know that the Muslims almost won the Battle of Uhud? However, the overconfidence resulted in the archers leaving their positions to get the war booty. Seeing this, Khalid Bin Waleed counter-attacked the Muslim army from the backside which caused chaos, defeat in the battle, and the death of several Muslim soldiers.
One thing that the Muslims learned from the Battle of Uhud was that one must obey the instructions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) no matter what the requirements or situation seems to be.
Fact 4: Hazrat Hamza (RA) Got Martyred
One of the most heartbreaking losses of the Battle of Uhud was the death of Hazrat Hamza (AS). He was brutally killed by Wahshi Bin Harb, an Abyssinian slave of Jubayr bin Mutim. However, despite the loss, Muslims fought Ghazwah Uhud with the same courage and valour.
Fact 5: Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was Injured
According to several narrations, it is said that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) during the fight of the Battle of Uhud was hit by a rock which damaged his helmet, bruised his lower lip and chipped his teeth. On the other hand, Musab bin Umair (RA) who greatly resembled Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) got martyred by Abdullah bin Qam’a. This caused chaos as Muslims lost their morale and a wave of despair took over.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) cleared the misunderstanding and seeing that they had already lost asked the Muslim army to retreat. It said that around thirty warriors encircled Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and took him to a higher and safer place on Mount Uhud.
Summary – Battle of Uhud
The Muslims lost the Battle of Uhud not because they were less in number or were weak. They lost because of their disobedience. Only if the archers had obeyed the order of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and remained in their position on Mount Uhud, the victory wouldn’t have slipped from the hands of the Muslim army.
However, even after defeating the Muslim army, the brutal Makkans weren’t able to achieve their ultimate aim which was to destroy the Muslims once and for all. Soon after the Battle of Uhud ended, Allah SWT revealed a verse of the Holy Quran to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), describing the battle as a test of steadfastness and as a punishment.
Muslims found inspiration in those verses and the Hadiths as it reinforced their faith and gave them the strength to win the Battle of Trench.