21.4 Battle of Uhud
In the evening, the Muslims marched out until they reached the mountain of Uhud. They crossed it and kept it as a shield behind them. Mohamed placed fifty archers on the mountainside and said to them,
"Protect our rear. We fear they will come from behind us. Keep to your places. Do not leave them. If you see us defeating them, do not leave your places until we enter their camp. If you see us getting killed, do not try to aid us or defend us. Your job is to pelt the horses with arrows. Horses do not come forward where there are arrows."
Then he gave the orders that, apart from the archers, no-one should start fighting until he gave the signal.Quraysh also had placed themselves in positions of combat. On the right wing was Khaled ibn Al-Walid, at the head of the cavalry .On the left wing was Ikrima ibn Abi JahI and the banner was carried by Talba in the centre. The women of the Quraysh kept walking up and down the rows of fighters to fire their zeal. Thus they sang,
"If you charge forward, we embrace and spread the cushions, if you flee, we part, parting forevermore."
They were adorned in jewelry and dressed in gay, alluring clothes. The Muslim women were inconspicuously dressed and carried jugs of water to quench the warriors' thirst in the burning desert heat.
Each side was emotionally charged - Quraysh by the memory of humiliation, the desire for revenge, and the desire to appear brave before their women, the Muslims by the desire to spread the word of Allah in freedom, without fear, and to place it high above the word of men.
After speaking words full of faith and wisdom to his men, Mohamed produced a sword and said,
"Who will take this sword and give it its due?"
Some of the youths jumped up to take it, but he kept hold of it until Abu Dujana asked,
"What is its due, Messenger of Allah?"
"To strike the enemy with it until it is bent."
Abu Dujana was a fearless warrior, a man of rare courage. He rose and put on a red turban that he never wore except in war and that those who knew him called the turban of death. Then he took the sword from the Prophet and went forward.
Now the battle began. Quraysh tried to unbalance the Muslim ranks on the left, but could not. Hamza, the lion of the battle as well as the hunt, gave the battle-cry of Uhud and then thrust himself amid the ranks of Quraysh. Talha of Quraysh challenged,
"Who will fight me?"
and Ali ibn Abi Talib made his way out of the ranks to meet the challenge. He was able to dispatch his adversary in no time, while Abu Dujana with the Prophet's sword in his hand met none without killing him. He saw a masked figure who was slashing and harassing Muslim soldiers. He raised his sword to kill him, but the strange person whimpered in a thin voice and was revealed to be a woman, Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan, who had led the women, but was not content to wait with the women for the outcome of the battle. Abu Dujana refrained from touching her. Later he explained,
"I did not want the Prophet's sword sullied by a woman's blood."
Hamza ibn Abdu'l-Muttalib was one of the finest huntsmen and greatest warriors of the Arabs. In the battle of Badr, he had killed many of the Quraysh nobles, and now he cut his way through their ranks like a mighty wave sweeping all before it. One of the Quraysh nobles had a black slave from Abyssinia. These people could use the javelin with great skill. Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan, had said to this slave called Wahshi,
"Wahshi, if you kill Hamza, you are a free man."
His master promised him the same thing. Wahshi prowled among the fighters until he saw Hamza. He said,
"I held my spear and balanced it well, and then I aimed it. It entered into his abdomen and went out the other side. I waited until he was dead, then I took my spear and went to wait in the camp. I had no quarrel with anyone. I killed him only to be set free."
The Muslims continued to fight against overwhelming numbers for the sake of their Lord, not caring whether they lived or died. To die for His sake was the highest attainment; to die a martyr was an honor unsurpassed and a promise of paradise. Before such faith and courage Quraysh began to waver, to weaken, to retreat, then to flee the field. With all their numbers and arms, with all their might and experience, once again they fled. They were defeated and scattered in disorder left and right, away from their camp.