Muta

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Could you give information about the battle of Muta?

In the peaceful atmosphere brought about by the treaty of Hudaybiya, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, sent letters to neighboring kings inviting them to the fold of Islam. The king of Busra, Shurahbil, who was a Christian Arab, killed the envoy of God’s Messenger, Harith ibn ‘Umayr. This was an unforgivable act, from the viewpoint of both international custom and the prestige of Islam. If it had remained unresponded to, some others might also have attempted to act in the same way.

God’s Messenger formed an army of 3,000 men, and appointed Zayd ibn Haritha as the commander. Additionally, he gave the instruction: If something happens to Zayd, Ja’far ibn Abi Talib should assume the command. If Ja’far is martyred, let ‘Adbullah ibn Rawaha take over the command. In case something happens to ‘Abdullah, choose one among you as the commander.

When the Muslim army reached Mu’ta, it met with a Byzantine army of 100,000 men. Obviously, it would be a fierce battle. The Muslims would fight one against 33 men. In the meantime, God’s Messenger was in the mosque, relating the fighting to those around him, who were unable to participate in the campaign:

Zayd took the standard. He thrust himself into the ranks of the enemy. They martyred him. The standard was taken by Ja’far ibn Abi Talib. He also rose up to Paradise. ‘Adbullah ibn Rawaha took the standard. He too was martyred. Now, the standard was in the hands of a ‘sword’ among the ‘swords of God’.66

The one God’s Messenger described as ‘a sword among the swords of God’ was Khalid ibn Walid,67 who would, from then on, be mentioned as ‘the Sword of God’. When it was at night, Khalid stationed the troops at the rear in the front rank, and changed the wings, positioning those on the right to the left and vice versa. Having seen new troops before them in the morning, the Byzantine army was demoralized. When night fell, the sides parted with each other and retreated.

The Muslim army returned to Madina with only twelve losses. Although this was a victory for the Muslims, they were ashamed to meet God’s Messenger, who, however, welcomed them and consoled them, saying: You did not flee; you retreated to join me, and will go against them later.

66. Bukhari, “Maghazi,” 44.

67. I. Hanbal, 5.299; Tabari, 3.110.

 

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