Battle of Tabuk
The Battle of Tabuk (Arabic: غَزوَة تَبوك) is the final ghazwa of the Prophet (s). It took place During Rajab and Sha'ban of the 9/630 in the region of Tabuk. As the Prophet (s) was heading toward Tabuk to fight Romans, some of the companions, specifically Munafiqun (hypocrites), refused to join the army or tried to weaken the morale of the army. Before the expedition, the Prophet (s) appointed Imam 'Ali (a) as his successor in Medina in his absence. After a short tarriance of few days, the army of Islam came back to Medina from Tabuk without any actual confrontation with Romans. Some verses were revealed about Munafiqun exposing them and their secret intentions and plans.
|Battle of Tabuk|
|Date||Rajab and Sha'ban of the 9/630|
|Result||The army came back without any actual confrontation with Romans|
|Cause||To counter the Romans' military activities in those lands|
|The Prophet (s)|
Most of the works by early biographers contain accounts of the expedition of Tabuk. But these narrations differ on some important factors like the cause of this expedition. According to a famous account, the Prophet's goal of this expedition was to counter the Romans' military activities in those lands.
Receiving News from Syria
It's been narrated that the Nabataeans who would travel to Medina to sell flour and oil, would also inform Muslims about the latest news of Syria; this way, the Muslims of Medina were constantly aware of the situation in Syria.
One day, a Nabataean merchant said that Heraclius, then the Roman king, had prepared a great army by convincing some Arab tribes like: Lakhm, Judham, Ghassan, and 'Amila. Forefront troops had already camped in Balqa', northern Tabuk; and the Roman king was in Homs. In other accounts, without mentioning this story, it's only been reported that the Prophet (s) left Medina to fight Romans. Al-Ya'qubi believes the aim of the Prophet (s) in this military expedition had been to take the revenge for murdering Ja'far b. Abi Talib.
Activities of Hypocrites
After the Prophet (s) revealed his intentions to fight Romans, some of the Sahaba (his companions), specially the Munfiqun (the hypocrites) refused to join the army or tried to weaken the morale of other soldiers. It can be assumed that the great emphasis on going to this military expedition had been more a tactic of the Prophet (s) to expose some of Munafiqun and the reality behind their activities in Medina, than a response to a Roman threat. There are historical indications that may support this view, such as: the extensive efforts of Munafiqun to weaken the morale of Muslim soldiers, embattling of 'Abd Allah b. Ubay forces against the Muslim Army and based on one account, an attempt on the Prophet's life on his way back from Tabuk by some of Munafiqun.
The Prophet (s) wanted to hasten the formation of the army but there were problems such as the hot weather, long distanceو and the poverty of some of the Companions; to the point that this expedition has been referred to as: Jaysh al-'Usr (the army of hardship). That is why the Prophet (s), unlike other military expeditions, clearly explained his intentions and aims in order to get his people well-prepared. He first camped in Thanyyat al-Wida' near Medina and then left toward Roman borders, to the north, in an army of more than thirty thousand soldiers.
'Ali (a), the Successor of the Prophet (s)
Before leaving Medina, the Prophet (s) appointed Imam 'Ali (a) as his successor, or based on a report, as the guardian of his family in Medina. Munafiqun who had planned for riot, regarded the presence of Imam 'Ali (a) in Medina as a major obstacle in their way; therefore they started their propaganda against him. They said "the Prophet (s) is not pleased with 'Ali, that is why he has left him in Medina". The effect of such propaganda was to the point that in order to thwart it, 'Ali (a) met the Prophet (s) in Jurf, somewhere near Median, and the Prophet (s) told him a phrase according to which, the kind of relation between the Prophet (s) and 'Ali (a) is that of between Moses and Aaron, with the exception that there will not be any prophethood after the Prophet Muhammad (s). This narration, which later gained the title: Hadith al-Manzila (the saying of the Position), has been documented in traditional collections through numerous chains of transmission. Also this Prophetic saying has been cited as one of the decisive proofs for the immediate succession of Imam 'Ali after the Prophet (s). Interestingly, this was against the activities of Munafiqun shortly after the Prophet (s) had left Medina for a long journey.
After some days, the Muslim army reached Tabuk area and stayed there for twenty days. There, based on al-Waqidi's report, it became clear that the reports about Roman military expedition had not been correct. However, based on other accounts, the Roman king sent some envoys to the Prophet (s) whom were kindly welcomed by the Prophet (s). Meanwhile, the Prophet (s) signed a peace treaty on the condition of receiving jizya from Ukaydir b. 'Abd al-Malik al-Kindi, the head of Dumat al-Jandal, and the inhabitants of Adruh, Jirba, and Ayla.
The Prophet returned to Medina in the Ramadan of 9/630. He accepted the excuses of those who had refused to join the Army and made istighfar (request Allah's forgiveness) for them. However, he ordered Muslims cut their relations with three of them; who were forgiven after revelation of verses 117 and 118 of Sura al-Tawba.
Ka'b b. Malik, Marara b. Rabi' and Hilal b. Umayya were under social and familial boycott. They were not hypocrites, even when the king of Ghassanid sent them a letter to inform them about plans of Muslims' oppositions about them, they became irritated. They finally separated from each other and made repentance (Tawba) which was accepted by God after fifty days.
Incidents on the Way
Assassination Attempt against Prophet Muhammad (s) in 'Aqaba
On the way back to Medina, some tried to assassinate Prophet Muhammad (s). God informed the Prophet (s) and he told Hudhayfa and 'Ammar b. Yasir to accompany him. The hypocrites who were hiding their faces tried to scare the camel of Prophet Muhammad (s), but Hudhayfa confronted them and they ran away. Then Prophet (s) revealed the names of those hypocrites to Hudhayfa and 'Ammar b. Yasir.
Hudhayfa asked Prophet Muhammad (s) to send someone to slay them, but Prophet (s) refused and said: "I don't want people to say, Prophet managed to achieve victory by the support of his men, now he is killing them."
Divine News for Prophet Muhammad (s)
When the camel of Prophet Muhammad (s) was lost on the way, some people satirically said, Prophet (s) who tell us about 'Ilm al-ghayb, is not aware of the location of his camel. Prophet said: "It is true that I tell you about divine knowledge which I am aware only because God gives me the knowledge about them." [[[Gabriel]] brought news to Prophet Muhammad (s) and informed him about the location of his camel. Muslims went there and found the camel.
In another incident, When Muslim troops were resting, they saw a man from distance who was walking toward them. Prophet Muhammad (s) said: "I hope he is Abu Dhar al-Ghifari." Prophet (s) was told, by God he is Abu Dhar. Then Prophet (s) said: "May God bless Abu Dhar; he walks alone, he dies alone and he will be resurrected alone." And it happened, as he was exiled to Rabadha in the time of 'Uthman b. 'Affan and he passed away there in loneliness.
The military expedition to Tabuk and its related verses (mainly in Sura al-Tawba) exposed the Munafiqun, their activities and subversive plans and had a great role in later spread of Islam through Arabian peninsula.
- لَقَد تابَ اللَّهُ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ وَالمُهاجِرينَ وَالأَنصارِ الَّذينَ اتَّبَعوهُ في ساعَةِ العُسرَةِ مِن بَعدِ ما كادَ يَزيغُ قُلوبُ فَريقٍ مِنهُم ثُمَّ تابَ عَلَيهِم إِنَّهُ بِهِم رَءوفٌ رَحيمٌ (۱۱۷) وَعَلَى الثَّلاثَةِ الَّذينَ خُلِّفوا حَتّىٰ إِذا ضاقَت عَلَيهِمُ الأَرضُ بِما رَحُبَت وَضاقَت عَلَيهِم أَنفُسُهُم وَظَنّوا أَن لا مَلجَأَ مِنَ اللَّهِ إِلّا إِلَيهِ ثُمَّ تابَ عَلَيهِم لِيَتوبوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ التَّوّابُ الرَّحيمُ (۱۱۸): Certainly Allah turned clemently to the Prophet and the Emigrants and the Helpers, who followed him in the hour of difficulty, after the hearts of a part of them were about to swerve. Then He turned clemently to them —indeed He is most kind and merciful to them— (117) and to the three who were left behind. When the earth became narrow for them with [all] its expanse, and their own souls weighed heavily on them, and they knew that there was no refuge from Allah except in Him, then He turned clemently toward them so that they might be penitent. Indeed Allah is the All-clement, the All-merciful. (118)
- The material for this article is mainly taken from غزوه تبوک in Farsi Wikishia.