Why did The Prophet dispatch military expeditions into The Arabian Desert
after the emigration?
In such severe circumstances, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings,
dispatched, as military measures, expeditions into the heart of the desert.
In dispatching them, he had several aims, some of which are as follows:
• Unbelievers tried to extinguish the Light of God ‘with their mouths’ but,
although they were averse, God willed to perfect His Light (al-Saff, 61.8).
So, God’s Messenger desired to demonstrate that it was impossible for unbelievers
to exterminate Islam, and to show that Islam was a reality that could not be
• Makka enjoyed a central position in the heart of the Arabian peninsula.
It was the most formidable power of the time in Arabia and all the other tribes
felt some sort of adherence to it. By dispatching military expeditions to neighboring
areas, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, also desired to demonstrate
the power of Islam and to break the dominance of the Quraysh in Arabia.
During human history, the concept of ‘might is right’ has usually been a
norm. This has been so because ‘right’ has usually not had enough power to hold
the dominance of the world. The case was the same fourteen centuries ago in
Arabia. Since the Quraysh enjoyed might and wealth, the neighboring tribes obeyed
them. However, Islam came to make right might, and, in order to demonstrate
this and to break the pressure of the Makkan polytheists on neighboring tribes
to prevent them from embracing Islam, God’s Messenger dispatched military expeditions
through the desert one after the other.
• The mission of God’s Messenger was not restricted to a fixed period, nor
to one nation only; rather, he was sent as a mercy for all the worlds. So, he
was charged to communicate the Message of God as far as the remotest corners
of the world. However, since he began his mission in Arabia, he had, certainly,
to know the conditions surrounding him. These expeditions were, therefore, vanguards
to be acquainted with those conditions and pave the way for the preaching of
Islam in the peninsula.
• One of the most effective ways of crushing the enemy is to stir them to
unpremeditated, premature movements and thereby to always have the initiative.
God’s Messenger was surely informed of the contacts the Quraysh established
with ‘Adbullah ibn Ubayy ibn Salul, the head of the hypocrites in Madina, to
frustrate him in his mission, and he was alert to their possible attacks on
Madina. Meanwhile a military force of the Quraysh was able to penetrate as far
as the suburbs of Madina and, after a plunder, returned to Makka. So, by dispatching
military expeditions, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace, also desired to agitate
the Quraysh to an unprepared, unpremeditated action against Madina to nip their
plots in the bud.
• The Quraysh lived on international trade. They sent trade caravans to Syria
and to the Yemen. So, it was a vital importance for them that their trade routes
should be absolutely secure. However, thanks to the situation of Madina, God’s
Messenger was able to threaten their trade and, therefore, while strengthening
his position in Madina on the one hand, he was, on the other, dispatching military
expeditions to paralyze the hopes and plans of the Quraysh to deal him any blow.
• Islam guarantees security of life and property. Its commandments aim to
guarantee the security of life, the security of property, the security of, in
addition to physical health, mental and spiritual health, the security of chastity,
and the security of belief. Therefore, it strictly prohibits murder, theft,
robbery and plundering, and also usurpation and interest or usury and gambling,
alcohol, every kind of illicit sexual intercourse, anarchy and propagation of
atheism. The Arabic original of ‘belief’ is iman and means giving security.
Therefore a mu’min (believer) is the one who never cheats and from whose tongue
and hand all people are in utmost security. He never lies, never breaks his
word, and never breaches a trust. Also, he never conceives of earning his life
by stealing or other un-Islamic ways like usurpation and interest-involving
transactions. He is convinced that the one who has killed a man is as if he
killed the whole of humankind.
When God’s Messenger was raised as a Prophet, there was in Arabia no security,
neither of life or property, nor of chastity or health, nor of belief, nor indeed
in the rest of the world. However, he had to establish absolute security in
every aspect of life. Once, he had said to Adiy ibn Khatam:
A day will come when a woman will travel, riding in a litter, from Hira to
Makka and fear nothing except God and wolves.11
By dispatching military expeditions through the desert, God’s Messenger also
aimed to establish security therein and wanted to show to everyone, friend and
foe, that security was not possible but by Islam.