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Allah's Miraculous Protection of Our Prophet (saas)

All the prophets have very sensitive consciences, which they use to keep people on the true path by urging them to be good and avoid evil. By leading all people they come into contact with to follow the right path, the prophets work for their salvation in the world to come. They want to bring people to awareness, hoping to direct them toward the kind of moral life that will please Allah. Sometimes, during the course of this honorable struggle, prophets have been subjected to accusations and all kinds of threats from unbelievers, hypocrites, and idolaters. But even under such circumstances they continued to deliver their message with patience, goodness, kindness, and humility.

Like all other prophets, our Prophet (saas) was subjected to physical and verbal abuse because of the truth of his message. In fact, for many years he lived under the pressure of death threats. Both he and the Companions were boycotted for a long time by the communities in which they lived. But all of these apparent adversities enabled them to attain a good life in both worlds. Those whose faith is sincere and who trust in the Lord are never daunted by such adversities; on the contrary, they see these difficulties as a way to draw close to Allah and to win His favor.

 

Ask: "Who is going to shield you from Allah if He wills evil or mercy for you?" They will find no one to protect or help them besides Allah.
(Surat al-Ahzab: 17)

 

 

But those of you who are obedient to Allah and His Messenger and act rightly will be given their reward twice over. We have prepared generous provision for them.
(Surat al-Ahzab: 31)

 

 

Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but the Messenger of Allah and the Final Seal of the Prophets. Allah has knowledge of all things.
(Surat al-Ahzab: 40)

Before he began to proclaim Islam, our Prophet (saas) was called al-Amin (the Trustworthy), because his people entrusted their possessions to him and often chose him to settle their disputes. They always praised his goodness and justice. Since he was wise, forward-thinking, insightful, and always meticulous in everything he did, everyone who saw him was immediately aware of his special qualities. But when he began to call them to Islam and to renounce their idols, they nevertheless targeted him. As Allah relates in the Qur'an, this happened to the earlier messengers as well:

They said: "O Salih, we had great hopes in you before this happened. Do you forbid us to worship what our fathers worshipped? We have grave doubts about what you are calling us to." (Surah Hud: 62)

They said: "O Shu'ayb, do your prayers instruct you that we should abandon what our fathers worshipped or stop doing whatever we want to with our wealth? You are clearly the forbearing, the rightly-guided!' (Surah Hud: 87)

He asked: "What was this past affair of yours when you solicited Yusuf?" Then they exclaimed: "Allah forbid! We know no bad of him." The governor's wife then said: "The truth has now emerged. Indeed I tried to seduce him then, and he has simply told the honest truth. (Surah Yusuf: 51)

The people's hostile reaction to our Prophet's (saas) call to justice and truth, as Allah tells in the Qur'an, consisted of making groundless accusations: "They say: 'You, to whom the Reminder has been sent down, are clearly crazy. Why do you not bring angels to us if you are telling the truth?'" (Surat al-Hijr: 6-7). Although subjected to many other forms of abuse, he continued his battle of ideas with the unbelievers and proclaimed the Qur'an's moral teachings. But these truths only produced resentment and anger, for the majority of his people opposed him. Shortly afterwards, he was forced to move from Mecca to Madinah.

While he was among a dangerous and pagan people, our Prophet (saas) proclaimed Islam, taught those who followed him, and engaged in a difficult struggle. From time to time, this turned into open warfare. At that time, some of the Jews persisted in their rebellious and hostile attitude toward our Prophet (saas). But he took an interest in them too. Some of the Christians also tried to make things difficult for our Prophet (saas) and set traps to harm him.

While our Prophet (saas) was engaged in this struggle, the hypocrites were busy providing the unbelievers with information that could be used in their secret campaign against him. Out of envy they nurtured their resentment and anger. They showed their insincerity by approaching our Prophet (saas) and talking with him, despite their resentment. Other unbelievers listened to his words and sought to place difficulties in his way:

The unbelievers all but strike you down with their evil looks when they hear the Reminder and say: "He is quite crazy." (Surat al-Qalam: 51)

We can see from the foregoing that our Prophet (saas), even though he faced death threats from the unbelievers and lived among hypocrites, continued to proclaim Islam and tried to guide them to the right path. Prominent unbelievers set traps and tried to kill him. One of the Lord's greatest miracles was that our dear Prophet (saas) was not harmed during these years, for:

Allah will protect you from people. Allah does not guide the unbelievers. (Surat al-Ma'ida: 67)

This promise of Allah was fulfilled by many miracles, one of them being that all unbelievers, idolaters, and hypocrites, not to mention his other enemies, could not harm him. Their plots and traps were always foiled. And, even though the idolaters and unbelievers often met him on the battlefield, our Lord always protected him so that he could fulfil his mission. His enemies never defeated him. On the contrary, they became vile and despicable while he became more physically strong and healthy, more joyful, and more filled with light and beauty. Allah protected our Prophet (saas) with His mercy and gave him great power and majesty, both physically and spiritually. The deceptions of the unbelievers and the hypocrites were turned back upon them, and our Prophet (saas) continued his struggle safely under the protection of Allah's mercy.

 

Humanity's Reckoning has drawn very close to them, yet they heedlessly turn away.
(Surat al-Anbiya': 1)

The unbelievers could not kill our Prophet (saas)

Our Prophet's (saas) call to justice and truth caused those who benefited from injustice and oppression, along with those who feared losing their position and rank, to oppose him and his followers in order to retain the value of their worldly acquisitions. Due to their arrogance, they continued to worship their idols and refused to compromise the superstitions in which they believed. Instead, they met together to discuss how they could either make our Prophet (saas) give up his religion or kill him:

When the unbelivers were plotting to imprison, kill, or expel you: they were plotting and Allah was planning, but Allah is the Best of Planners. (Surat an-Anfal: 30)

In other words, the Lord makes things work out for the best and protected our Prophet (saas) from all harm: "…their scheming will not harm you in any way. Allah encompasses what they do" (Surah Al 'Imran: 120).

Allah also promised that no one would do any physical or spiritual harm to him:

Were it not for Allah's favor to you and His mercy, a group of them would almost have managed to mislead you. But they mislead no one but themselves and do not harm you in any way. Allah has sent down the Book and Wisdom to you and taught you what you did not know before. Allah's favor to you is indeed immense. (Surat an-Nisa': 113)

They are people who listen to lies and consume ill-gotten gains. If they come to you, either judge between them or turn away from them. If you turn away from them, they cannot harm you in any way. But if you do judge, judge between them justly. Allah loves the just. (Surat al-Ma'ida: 42)

The hadiths say that his opponents did their best to persuade our Prophet (saas) to abandon proclaiming his moral message. They offered him what they thought was most valuable: wealth and status. Allah relates the following in the Qur'an:

They wish that you would conciliate with them, then they too would be conciliating. (Surat al-Qalam: 9)

In spite of all offers, material and otherwise, our Prophet (saas) persevered and ignored the many threats he received. In Musnad, Ibn Abi Shaybah relates Utbah's unseemly offer to our Prophet (saas): "If you want money, we will collect enough money for you so that you will be the richest of us. If you want leadership, we will take you as our leader and never decide on any matter without your approval. If you want a kingdom, we will crown you king over us..." 43

 

… and sent a Messenger to them from themselves: "Worship Allah. You have no deity other than Him. So will you not have fear of [and respect for] Him?"
(Surat al-Mu'minun: 32)

Our Prophet (saas) put winning Allah's approval above everything else; the only reward he wanted was Allah's mercy and to attain Paradise. No worldly offer of wealth or position could deter him. Allah had already granted him victory and abundant possessions in this world, and there was no doubt that the reward waiting for him in Paradise would be even greater. Many prominent unbelievers tried to persuade him to abandon his mission; when they failed, they resorted to treachery and plans involving his exile, arrest, and even murder. Islamic sources relate these events:

According to Ibn Ishaq, the Qurayshi leaders met and consulted each other: "You know what degree this individual has come to." At this they began discussing. One of them said: "Let's imprison him somewhere, letting him speak to nobody, and let's keep him there until he dies! Let's give him just enough food to keep him alive!…"

But there were objections to this proposal. Such an initiative could lead to chaos. One of them said: "Let's not imprison him; let's remove him from Mecca." But this was also regarded as inappropriate, because "Muhammad (saas) would go to any Arab tribe, bind them to him with fair words, cause them to follow him and have his revenge on us …" At this Abu Jahl said: "There is no alternative to killing Muhammad." 44

Even though the Meccan polytheists had everything that they needed to implement their plots, they were still unsuccessful; Allah protected our blessed Prophet (saas). The hadiths inform us that armed strong young men had been assembled from all the tribes to kill him; many other volunteers came to kill him with swords. It is a great miracle that our Prophet (saas) was not killed and his enemies' traps were always foiled.

Our brave and heroic Prophet (saas) fought in open battle and personally faced with the enemy many times. Although he fought in the front ranks, he was not killed and, by a miracle of Allah, returned from battle unharmed. Despite all the dangers he faced, he nevertheless fulfilled his calling.

 

O Messenger, transmit what has been sent down to you from your Lord. If you do not, you will not have transmitted His Message. Allah will protect you from people. Allah does not guide the unbelievers.
(Surat al-Ma'idah: 67)

Ibn Hanbal, at-Tabarani, and Abu Nu`aym relate that:

I saw the Prophet (saas). A man was brought before him. "This man wanted to kill you," they said. At this, the Prophet said: "Do not fear. Do not fear. Even if you had wished, Allah would not have let you trouble me." 45

Knowing that he was under Allah's protection on the battlefield, our Prophet (saas) put himself completely in His hands and thus served as an example to all believers. Fearing no one but Allah, he was a courageous and patient man who had an excellent moral character. His readiness for self-sacrifice, especially when he got up early and left the house to place the believers in the best locations for a coming battle, made him a fine example for all people:

Remember when you left your family early in the day to position the believers in their battle stations. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. (Surah Al 'Imran: 121)

Even when he was the target of his enemies and his life was in danger, our Prophet (saas) personally saw to it that the believers were safe. He constantly encouraged them and stirred their enthusiasm to greater heights.

Allah informs us in the Qur'an that "the legions of the heavens and Earth belong to Allah. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise" (Surat al-Fath: 4). Since the unbelievers did not appreciate His infinite power as they should have, they dared to lift their hand against our Prophet (saas). In return, Allah caused all of their traps to fail or backfire: "They plotted and Allah planned. But Allah is the Best of Planners" (Surah Al 'Imran: 54). The unbelievers witnessed for themselves the Messenger of Allah's (saas) goodness and excellent moral character, but did not let go of their hostility. Unaware that Allah heard them and saw what they were doing, they continued to plot. However, even they eventually came to realize that themselves had fallen into the biggest trap of all:

They concocted their plots, but their plots were with Allah, even if they were such as to make the mountains vanish. (Surah Ibrahim: 46)

Abu Jahl, our Prophet's (saas) greatest enemy, missed no opportunity to try to kill him. Imam al-Bukhari relates the following information from Ibn Abbas:

Abu Jahl said: "If I see Muhammad praying at the Ka`bah, I will tread on his neck." When the Prophet (saas) heard of this, he replied: "If he does so, the angels will snatch him away." 46

Ibn Ishaq relates the following about Ibn Abbas:

Abu Jahl, carrying a very heavy stone with the intent of fulfilling his oath [to kill the Prophet (saas)], staggered as he approached the Prophet (saas), who was humbly absorbed in prayer. Before Abu Jahl was able to get close enough to the Prophet (saas), he turned back in deathly fright. His hand had started to wither on the stone, whereupon he dropped it and ran as fast as he could. Some Qurayshis rushed toward him and asked what had come over him. He told them he had seen a terrifying camel with a tremendously large head, enormous shoulders, and a fearsome set of teeth that looked as if it was about to devour him if he continued. Later on, the Prophet (saas) told his Companions that the camel was none other than Gabriel and that if Abu Jahl had persisted, he would indeed have seized him. 47

As our Prophet (saas) was always under Allah's protection, all traps laid against him were turned aside so that Allah's promise was always fulfilled. Believing that Allah had created apparently difficult situations and that He would bring everything to the best conclusion, our Prophet (saas) continued to proclaim Islam without suffering any harm. Due to his deep trust in Allah and endurance, the Lord gave him the strength to prevail.

The miracles in the cave

According to documents from Islamic and historical sources, the Prophet (saas) left his home on 27 Safar, fourteen years after Allah had bestowed prophethood upon him, and went to Abu Bakr's (ra) house. Later, they left Mecca together. Our Prophet (saas) knew that his enemies would first look for him on the northern road to Madinah. Therefore, they took the southern road leading to Yemen. After walking about 6 kilometres (5 miles), they came to the Thawr Mountain, which was high as well as difficult and dangerous to climb. They hid in a cave located in the mountain known as Athal. 48

In the meantime, the Quraysh blocked all of the roads and stationed armed men to control them. Men on foot and mounts combed the mountain slopes and valleys, searching for footprints. When they came right up to the cave's mouth, the Prophet Muhammad (saas) put his whole trust in Allah:

If you do not help him, Allah did help him when the unbelievers drove him out and there were two of them in the cave. He said to his companion: "Do not be despondent, Allah is with us." Then Allah sent down His serenity upon him and reinforced him with troops you could not see. He made the word of the unbelievers undermost. (Surat at-Tawba: 40)

 

Put your trust in the Living One Who does not die, and glorify Him with praise.
(Surat al-Furqan: 58)

Allah tells in the Qur'an that our Prophet (saas) submitted to Allah and was resigned to his fate. But the Lord assisted him, in return for his excellent moral character and trust, by granting him physical health and strength and a sense of security and well-being in his heart.

Many people might consider such a dangerous situation superficially, without feeling the anxiety of that moment, for those who are not targets cannot know such anxiety. For example, those who have never been pursued by an enemy cannot know the wakeful vigilance of our Prophet (saas) as he hid in mortal danger in the cave. It is very important for everyone with faith to think carefully about this situation in order to appreciate properly our Prophet's (saas) great self-sacrifice, patience, and wisdom.

But, as in other situations throughout his life, here too Allah miraculously delivered our Prophet (saas). When the Meccans finally reached the cave's mouth, they saw a spider's web at its entrance and that pigeons had made their nests and laid eggs there. So, thinking that no one was inside, they began to look elsewhere. Indeed, when we think of it, such an undisturbed spider's web could have been taken as a sign that no one was inside, for anyone entering it would have broken the web. The same is true with the pigeons. Certainly this was a miracle of Allah, the all-powerful ruler of all things, Who caused the spider to weave its web and placed the pigeons at the cave's entrance. Nothing happened to our Prophet (saas) or Abu Bakr (ra).

Another miracle is how Allah supported him with invisible armies and gave him a sense of inner security and well-being. According to the commentaries, the armies put under the command of the Prophet Muhammad (saas) consisted of angels. Indeed on the last part of Surat at-Tawba it is stated: "Then Allah sent down His serenity upon him and reinforced him with troops you could not see. He made the word of the unbelievers' undermost. It is the word of Allah that is uppermost. Allah is mighty and all-wise." In the Tafsir of Jalalayn, this miracle is interpreted as follows:

Allah says "if you do not help him," that is, it does not matter if you did not help Prophet Muhammad (saas), for Allah helped him, just as he helped him when "the unbelievers drove him out, the second of two." This refers to the year when the polytheists intended to kill the Prophet (saas), so he escaped from them, along with his Companion Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (ra). They concealed themselves in the cave of Thawr for three nights, with the enemy prowling around in great numbers, fruitlessly searchind for them. This was when Abu Bakr (ra) felt afraid, lest the unbelievers would find and harm them. However, the Prophet (saas) was certain of Allah's protection and support, and so reassured Abu Bakr (ra).

On the authority of Anas (ra), Imam Ahmad reported that Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (ra) said: "I was with the Prophet (saas) in the cave and, on seeing the traces of the pagans, said: 'O Messenger of Allah, if one of them should lift his foot, he will see us.' He replied: 'What do you think? For two (people), the third (of whom) is Allah?'" Al-Bukhari and Muslim also reported the same hadith.

Therefore Allah says, "then Allah sent his sakina upon him" that is, He sent His peace, tranquillity, and support upon His Messenger (saas) and "supported him with forces you saw not": angels. As for the verse "and made the word of the unbelievers while it was the Word of Allah that became uppermost," Ibn Abbas said: "The word of the unbeliever refers to associating partners with Allah, while the word of Allah refers to 'La ilaha illa Allah.'" 49

The Lord helped our Prophet (saas) with many miracles, defended him with angels, comforted his heart, and prevented his enemies from harming him. Allah protects, defends, and watches; He is the best of helpers and all power belongs to Him.

Our Prophet (saas) accomplished everything with Allah's help:

If they intend to deceive you, Allah is enough for you. He supported you with His help and with the believers. (Surat al-Anfal: 62)

But if you support one another against him, Allah is his Protector, and so are Gabriel and every right-acting believer. Furthermore, angels also will come to his support. (Surat al-Tahrim: 4)

Allah will certainly help those who help Him – Allah is All-Strong, Almighty. (Surat al-Hajj: 40)

... and so that Allah may help you greatly. (Surat al-Fath: 40)

... and other things you love: support from Allah and imminent victory. Give good news to the belivers. (Surat as-Saff: 13)

The unbelievers did not properly understand our Prophet's (saas) superiority and so were unable to appreciate that He is the sole Ruler over everything. They were very wrong to think that our Prophet (saas) could be defeated while under Allah's protection. Thus, they entered a struggle that could only to result in their defeat:

 

Allah has written: "I will be victorious, I and My Messengers." Allah is Most Strong, Almighty.
(Surat al-Mujadalah: 21)

Allah reveals another verse that no one can harm our Prophet (saas) and that Allah, Gabriel, angels, and sincere believers are his friends, helpers, and supporters:

If the two of you would only turn to Allah, for your hearts clearly deviated ... But if you support one another against him, Allah is his Protector and so are Gabriel and every right-acting believer. Furthermore, angels also will come to his support. (Surat al-Tahrim: 4) The Lord protects and supports our

Prophet (saas) with angels

The Qur'an's moral teachings require that Muslims avoid war and conflict, remove misunderstanding through discussion, and behave in a conciliatory manner. According to the Qu'ran, war should be resorted to only when it is unavoidable, meaning that it is an undesired necessity that should be organized by designated persons and within specific moral limits. Muslims must seek peace and understanding whenever they encounter difficulties; however, they are required to fight to defend themselves if attacked.

Allah tells us in the Qur'an that corruption is the cause of war and that Allah does not love corruption:

Each time they kindle the fire of war, Allah extinguishes it. They rush about the land corrupting it. Allah does not love corrupters. (Surat al-Ma'idah: 64)

When we look at our Prophet's (saas) life, we see that he resorted to war only when it was necessary for self-defence.

The revelation of the Qur'an lasted for twenty-three years. For the first thirteen years, Muslims lived as a minority and oppressed religious community among the non-Muslim Meccans. Many of them were physically tortured, some were killed, and others had their houses and possessions plundered. All of them were constantly subjected to insults and threats. In spite of this, they remained non-violent and always tried to make peace with their enemies. Finally, when the pressure became unbearable, the Muslims moved to Yathrib (later Madinah) and set up their own city-state.

At those times when war was unavoidable, the Lord assisted our Prophet (saas) with many miracles, among them sending angels to give the Muslims victory over superior enemy forces:

Allah helped you at Badr when you were weak, so fear [and respect] Him, so that, hopefully, you will be thankful. (Surah Al 'Imran: 123)

Although the sincere Muslims were far fewer than their enemies, they fought in the field with great courage behind our Prophet (saas) and, with Allah's support, won great victories. Allah tells us in the Qur'an that He supported them with angels and announced that the angels would help them:

And when you asked the believers: "Is it not enough for you that your Lord reinforced you with three thousand angels, sent down?" Yes indeed! But if you are steadfast and have fear of [and respect for] Allah and they come upon you suddenly, your Lord will reinforce you with five thousand angels, clearly identified. Allah only did this for it to be good news for you, so that your hearts might be set at rest by it (help comes from no one but Allah, the Almighty, the All-Wise), and so that He might cut off or crush a group of unbelievers they might be turned back in defeat. (Surah Al 'Imran: 124-27)

Sir Edward Landseer's painting "The Arab Tent," dated 1866.

In other words, He sent the good news of angels' assistance to satisfy the Muslims' hearts. Of course, this was the only reason Allah needed. If He wills, He can defeat unbelievers with a single blow or drive them into the depths of the earth within minutes or seconds. Allah states in the Qur'an that many unbelievers perished in an unexpected moment due to a single sound, cyclone, or sudden disaster or that they were confused and buried beneath the ground. Of course, Allah has the power to do all of these things. It was good news for our Prophet (saas) and his community that the Lord gave them such a glorious and miraculous victory. Many Muslim interpreters and scholars have spoken of these things, among them the great scholar Omer Nashuhi Bilmen, who writes:

The army of Islam, venturing war with the polytheists of the Quraysh, advanced towards the River Badr The Prophet (saas) showed the places where the ones from the enemy's army would be killed, and this came about and was a great miracle. Eventually the army of Qureysh came to the Badr and seized it. But the next day it rained. The Companions had plenty of water, and their distress was thus overcome. They then descended onto the battlefield; the enemy forces were three times more numerous than the Muslims, but still they were afraid, and the fighting began. Since the Muslims appreciated the spiritual value of jihad and martyrdom, they threw themselves without fear, joyfully, into the fray. At this point Omar's freedman "Mahca" was killed. "Mahca is the lord of martyrs," said the Prophet. 50

Our Prophet (saas) prayed:

"O Lord, grant me the victory You promised," fell into a light slumber, and immediately awoke smiling. He addressed Abu Bakr, who was by his side: "Glad tidings, Abu Bakr. Gabriel and a great number of angels have come to our assistance." He then donned his armor and left the tent. Some Muslim warriors were concerned at the numbers of the more numerous enemy army who would take part in the fighting. At this, the glad tidings were imparted that help would come to the Muslims from the presence of Allah by means of angels. According to the account, at that moment a powerful wind blew up and nobody could see anything. This was a sign that Gabriel and a great number of the angels had come to the battlefield. Those angels were riding white horses. They appeared in the guise of white and yellow human beings and physically participated in the battle of Badr.

During this battle, first 1,000, then 2,000, and then 3,000 angels came to assist the Muslims. Their numbers finally reached 5,000 in total. 51

Allah tells in otther verses that He sent angels to help the Muslims:

Remember when you called on your Lord for help and He responded to you: "I will reinforce you with a thousand angels, riding rank after rank." Allah only did this to give you good news and so that your hearts would be at rest. Victory comes from no one but Allah. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise. And when He overcame you with sleep, making you feel secure, He sent water from heaven to purify you and remove satan's taint from you, and to fortify your hearts and make your feet firm. (Surat al-Anfal: 9-11)

In his commentary, Imam Sabuni describes the angels' assistance as follows:

Through the hadith that He would assist with 1,000 consecutive angels, Allah revealed that He had heeded his prayer. Commentators say this: According to the hadith, Gabriel sent down 500 angels and fought with them on the army's right wing. Mika'il also sent down 500 angels and fought on the army's left wing. Apart from Badr, it has not been possible to determine in which battles the angels fought. In other battles, they descended to make the number of Muslims look greater, but they did not fight.

Allah's helping you with angels is solely to give you glad tidings of victory. He helped so that you could find contentment with this victory. In fact, victory is only in the sight of Almighty Allah. Trust in His help; do not trust in your own strength and arms. Allah is victorious and cannot be defeated. Whatever His wisdom requires, that is what He does.

Remember that Allah brought you sleep from His own presence as an element of security. This is a miracle of the Prophet (saas), because at the moment of fear, sleep weighed on all. Ali (ra) says: "On the day of Badr, there was no horse other than Miqdat. I saw that everyone, apart from the Prophet (saas), was sleeping." Ibn Kathir says: "In order for the believers' hearts to be at peace with His help, they were as if asleep during the battle's most violent moment. This is another blessing granted by Allah. What happened was that during the battle of Badr, the Muslims were without water. At this, Allah caused such a rain to descend on them that water flowed from the valleys.'" 52

Another miracle was our Prophet's (saas) ability to reconcile the hearts of believers who took part in various struggles. By His word, it happened that people coming from different cities and communities, and even mutual enemies, came together to work for a common goal and to win Allah's approval. In many verses, Allah stated the good news of His help and support for all devout believers:

If they intend to deceive you, Allah is enough for you. He supported you with His help and with the believers, and unified their hearts. Even if you had spent everything on Earth, you could not have unified their hearts. But Allah has unified them. He is Almighty, All-Wise. O Prophet, Allah is enough for you and for the believers who follow you. (Surat al-Anfal: 62-64)

With Allah's help, our Prophet (saas) and the believers, despite their weakness, defeated numerous armies of the unbelievers. Despite the Meccans' numerical strength and technical advantages, Allah enabled the believers to rout them.

Allah granted another miracle during this event:

O Prophet, spur on the believers to fight. If there are twenty of you who are steadfast, they will overcome two hundred; and if there are a hundred of you [who are steadfast], they will overcome a thousand of those who are unbelievers because they are people who do not understand. Now Allah has made it lighter on you, knowing there is weakness in you. If there are a hundred of you who are steadfast, they will overcome two hundred; and if there are a thousand of you [who are steadfast], they will overcome two thousand with Allah's permission. Allah is with the steadfast. (Surat al-Anfal: 65-66)

In another verse, Allah reveals that He sent invisible armies to punish the Meccan polytheists.

Then Allah sent down His serenity on His Messenger and on the believers, sent down troops you could not see, and punished the unbelievers. That is how the unbelievers are repaid. (Surat at-Tawba: 26)

While Allah helped the Muslims with miracles, He also punished their enemies for their ongoing cruelty and oppression toward those Muslims still in Mecca.

In his commentary, Ibn Kathir includes a story of those who lived at this time:

On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (ra), Imam Muslim reported that the Prophet (saas) said: "I have been helped by having terror (instilled in the hearts of my enemies), and I have been given words (of wisdom) that are concise though comprehensive in meaning." 53

Another commentator relates that the unbelievers' traps and ruses will be foiled by the believers' patience:

After Almighty Allah had forbidden us to take non-Muslims as our protectors and friends and told us why, He promised that He would foil all of the unbelievers' traps and snares as long as we had fear of [and respect for] Him and were patient. There were two situations in when He acted as the believers' guardian: on the Day of Uhud and the Day of Badr. On these two days, Almighty Allah foiled the enemies' traps and snares on account of the believers' patience and fear of [and respect for] Him. The proof of this assertion lies in the fact that steadfastness and fear of [and respect for] Allah are mentioned in the preceding verse: "But if you are steadfast and fear [and respect] Allah, their scheming will not harm you in any way." 54 The apparent small numbers of

 

Remember when you called on your Lord for help and He replied to you: "I will reinforce you with a thousand angels riding rank after rank."
(Surat al-Anfal: 9)

The apparent small numbers of enemy soldiers

By a miracle of Allah, the believers were victorious. However, this was not due to their superior numbers; rather, it was due to the intelligence, insight, wisdom, and fine moral character with which Allah had blessed our Prophet (saas). Allah says that He sometimes intimidated the unbelievers by showing them that the believers were far more numerous and powerful:

There was a sign for you in the two parties that met face to face, one party fighting in the Way of Allah and the other consisting of unbelievers. You saw them as twice their number with your own eyes. Allah reinforces with His help whoever He wills. There is instruction in that for people of insight. (Surah Al 'Imran: 13)

The Tafsir al-Jalalayn explains this verse as follows:

Certainly there is a lesson for you, for war, in the two groups that met at Badr. One battled on the path of Allah, in obedience to Him: the Prophet (saas) and his Companions, 313 people, together with two horses, six suits of armor, and eight swords. Most were on foot. The other group was the unbelievers. The Muslims' numbers were seen to be, in external appearance, twice as great as those of the unbelievers, who numbered up to 1,000 soldiers. Allah assisted the Muslims, although they were outnumbered. Allah assists and strengthens whom He wills. Certainly there is a lesson for those with insight in these two things. Are you a people who will not learn from them and will not have faith? 55

Ibn Kathir comments:

"They saw them with their own eyes as twice their number," meaning: the unbelievers saw the Muslims during the battle of Badr as twice their number, and Allah makes that a cause for the Muslim's victory over them. This is Ibn Jarir's interpretation, based on the authority of some scholars…

It seems that Allah lessened the apparent number of unbelievers in the Muslims' eyes and made the Muslims appear as few in the unbelievers' eyes when they met each other at the battle of Badr … As for the unbelievers, they saw the Muslims as twice their number so that fear and panic would overwhelm them. This is exemplified in Allah's saying: "They saw them with their own eyes as twice their number," meaning: they saw 2,000 Muslim soldiers with their own eyes, as a support from Allah. For this reason, Allah says: "But Allah supports with His victory whom He wills. Verily, in this is a lesson for those who have eyes." In other words, He strengthens the believers and humiliates the unbelievers. 56

Allah states in many verses that Allah assists those believers who depend on Him totally in times of difficulty and distress, and that He will provide a way out of apparently hopeless situations:

Whoever fears [and respects] Allah – He will give him a way out and provide for him from where he does not expect. Whoever trusts Allah – He will be enough for him. Allah always achieves His aim. Allah has appointed a measure for all things. (Surat al-Talaq: 2-3)

Sometimes both unbelievers and believers see each other as less numerous than they really are. There is a reason for this miracle: when the Muslims saw that the unbelievers were fewer in number than they were, it gave them strength and improved their morale. And when the unbelievers saw the Muslim army, already less in number than theirs, as even smaller, they became careless and were led to think that they would be victorious. Given that in the world of causes no army can appear less numerous than it is, this can only be a miraculous manifestation of Allah's assistance:

Remember when Allah showed them to you in your dream as only a few. If He had shown you them as many, you would have lost heart and quarrelled about the matter; but Allah saved you. He knows what your hearts contain. Remember when Allah made you see them as few when you met them, and also made you seem few in their eyes. This was so that Allah could settle a matter whose result was preordained. All matters return to Allah. (Surat al-Anfal: 43-44)

In his commentary, al-Sabuni writes:

O community of believers, remember when you were at war. In order to increase your courage, Allah made you think the enemy was fewer in number than it actually was. He also showed you thus to their eyes, so they would make no preparations for the battle. This impression was formed during a state of wakefulness, not of sleep. Ibn Mas`ud says that the enemy was shown to our eyes to be so few in numbers before the battle of Badr that I asked: "What do you think, are there about 100 of them?" That was before the battle began. When it started, Allah gave the unbelievers the impression that the faithful were many in number. The unbelievers were stunned and seized by fear. Their strength was broken, and they saw things for which they were not prepared. This is one of Allah's great miracles in the battle. … He gave the believers courage against the unbelievers so that they would wage war and so that He would help His own army and defeat the superstitious [people] and their army. In this way, His word would be superior and the unbelievers' word would be inferior. All works return to Allah. Allah operates in them as He wills. Nobody can overturn what He has stipulated. He is Almighty and the Lord of wisdom." 57

 

O Prophet, Allah is enough for you and for the believers who follow you.
(Surat al-Anfal: 64)

Ibn Kathir interprets the same verse as follows:

Allah's verse, "And when you met (the unbelievers' army), He showed them to you as few in your eyes," shows His mercy and kindness toward His believing servants. He made the Muslims view the Qurayshi polytheists, in their eyes, as few, in order to encourage them to attack the unbelievers. On the authority of Abdullah Ibn Mas`ud, Abu Ishaq al-Sabi'i said: "Allah showed the Quraishi army to us as few, in our eyes, to the point that I asked a man who was by my side: 'They are seventy, aren't they?' He said: 'No, they are 100.' We then took a man from the Qurayshi army and asked him about their number. He said: 'We were 1,000 fighters.'"…

Allah had excited the state of enmity between the Muslims and the unbelievers, and made each party appear less in the eyes of the other so that they would not fear the battle. However, when the two armies actually met, Allah supported the Muslims with 1,000 angels so that the unbelievers would see the Muslims as twice their actual number. As Allah says: "There was a sign for you in the two armies that met (in the Battle of Badr): one army fighting in the Cause of Allah, and another unbelieving, whom they saw as twice their number, clearly, with their very eyes. Thus Allah supports with His Victory whom He wills. Verily, in this is a lesson for those who understand." (Surah Al 'Imran: 13) 58

Another miracle at this time was the Muslims' lack of fear and hesitancy. Allah informs us in the Qur'an that unbelievers had many powerful soldiers on their side and tried to oppress the Muslim minority. In this situation, the believers turned in sincerity to Allah and placed themselves in His hands. As a result, they were abundantly blessed and had a safe return:

… those to whom people said: "The people have gathered against you, so fear them." But that merely increased their belief and they said: "Allah is enough for us and the Best of Guardians." So they returned with blessings and bounty from Allah, and no evil touched them. They pursued the pleasure of Allah. Allah's favor is indeed immense. (Surah Al 'Imran: 173-74)

Those who always trusted in Allah completely and placed themselves in His hands lived according to the Qur'an's moral teachings and sought to win His approval in everything they did. In return, Allah gave them a sense of security and well-being and, even in the most difficult circumstances, caused them to live a good life and attain great wealth from the spoils of war.

 

Put your trust in the Almighty, the Most Merciful, He Who sees you when you stand up to pray and your movements with those who prostrate. He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.
(Surat al-Shu'ara': 217-220)

 

Footnotes

43. Al-Serah Al-Nabaweyyah, Ibn Hesham, vol. 1, pp. 293-294.

44. Encyclopedia of Seerah: Muhammad (saas), 3:104.

45. Al-Suyuti, Tahdhib al-Khasa'is, 316.

46. Al-Bukhari

47. Shaykha Anne Khadeijah Darwish and Shaykh Ahmad Darwish, The Millennium Biography of Muhammad (saas) The Prophet of Allah, www.Allah.com.

48. Bilmen, Turkish Translation of the Qur'an, 3:1270.

49. Tafsir Ibn Kathir, abridged by Sheikh Muhammad Nasib Ar-Rafa'i (London: Al-Firdous Ltd., 2002), 145-46; hadith from Musnad Ahmad, Sahih al-Bukhari: 3653 and Sahih Muslim: 2381.

50. Tafsir of Jalalayn, tr. Ibrahim Serdar [Istanbul: Yusuf Sensoy Fatih Enes Publishings, 1997], 2:670.

51. Bilmen, Turkish Translation of the Qur'an, 1:451.

52. Sabuni, Safvetut Tefasir (Safawat al-Tafasir) [Ensar Nesriyat], 2:404.

53. (Sahih Muslim: 523; Ibn Kathir, Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 115.)

54. Said Havva, Al-Asas fi al-Tafsir [Istanbul: Samil Yayinevi, 1991], 2:444

55. Tafsir al-Jalalayn, 1:187

56. Ibn Kathir, Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 125-26.

57. Muhammad Ali al-Sabuni, Tafsir al-Sabuni [Istanbul: Ensar Nesriyat, 1992], 2:427.

58. Ibn Kathir, Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 10:40-41

 

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