16.6 Abu Jahl Stirs the Tribes
Having taken positions for combat, Quraysh sent out spies to bring them information about the Muslims. They were informed that although they were men who had nothing but their swords, not one of them would fall without taking a man with him. Now Quraysh hesitated, and those of judgment among them, seeing so many of their nobles in the front row, feared they might have to pay a heavy price for victory. The men of noble birth would be plucked out and Quraysh would suffer a loss of prestige among the Arabs. Utba ibn Rabia, one of their nobles, rose and said,
"0 men of Quraysh, we achieve nothing by confronting Mohamed and his Companions today. Even if you defeat them, each of you will look upon his neighbor and see a man who has killed his brother, his uncle, his cousin, or a man from his clan. It is far better to return and leave Mohamed to the rest of the Arabs. If they defeat him, then that is what you wanted. If they do not, then you have not exposed yourselves to what you would hate."
When Abu Jahl heard these words, he rose in fury and went to Amr whose brother had been killed by the Muslims in the Rajab raid and said,
"Look at your ally, wanting to return with the people when your revenge is within your grasp. Rise quickly and bewail your brother."
So Amr rose to bewail his brother, stirring the emotions and reminding all his blood relations that they were honour bound to avenge him.
Before the battle Mohamed had ordered his Companions not to kill those who had been good to them during the days of persecution in Mecca. Granted that that they came as enemies, ready to kill and be killed, but it was characteristic of Mohamed that he never forgot those who had done him or his followers a good turn. He had the ability to transcend beyond the emotions and excitement of the moment and see the broader issues and nobler course.