21.7 Quraysh Mutilate the Dead
Quraysh were clamorous and exultant in their triumph, having snatched a great victory after a moment of certain defeat. They buried their dead, and then the Quraysh women, led by Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan whose brother, uncle, and loved ones had been killed at Badr, began to mutilate the Muslim dead. Hind went to the body of Hamza whom she had hired Wahshi, the black slave, to kill and vented all her vicious fury on it. She cut open the abdomen and chewed Hamza's liver.
When Quraysh left, the Muslims went to the battlefield. The Messenger seeing Hamza, his uncle and foster brother, lying dead and mutilated, was deeply moved. Hamza was the greatest of warriors, the greatest of huntsmen. Hamza, who had struggled for fourteen years to establish the word of Allah. Hamza, who had stood all those years like a mighty shield to protect him from the wrath of Quraysh. Mohamed was furious to see him so horribly mutilated. He took off his own cloak and covered him with it, then said,
"If ever Allah gives me victory over them, I shall mutilate them as the Arabs have never done before."
Mutilating the dead was something alien to the Arabs. It was something that their nature shunned, and Abu Sufyan himself had declared before all that he was innocent of what Hind had done.
On this occasion the holy verses address the Messenger, saying:
If you chastise, chastise as you have been chastised,
and if you are patient it is better for the patient.
And be patient and your patience comes only from Allah.
And do not grieve for them or be distressed by their cunning.
Allah is with those who fear Him, those who are gracious. (16:127-129)
As soon as these verses were revealed, Mohamed decided to forgive Quraysh and forbade the Muslims from mutilating the dead.
Years later, when Mecca lay open at his feet, he gave all its inhabitants, including this same Hind, a free pardon.