Expeditions at a Glance
The expedition of Tabuk was
the last campaign during the lifetime of the Prophet Sallallahu
Alaihi Wasallam. The number of his battles was twenty-seven
while he is reported to have sent out sixty expeditions
although no fighting had taken place in many of them.
The battles and confrontations
of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam showed that he
was the greatest military leader that the world had seen.
His sense of justice and piety conquered the hearts of his
followers and enemies alike. The battles in which the Muslims
had suffered losses were not due to any weakness, technical
error or strategic misjudgement on his part. The partial
defeats at Uhud and Hunain were due to a weakness in complying
with his orders. Then too he, as a leader, stood firm and
changed defeat into victory.
The Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi
Wasallam had reformed and changed the concept of war as
was known to the Arabs. Pre-Islamic wars had been immersed
in robbery, murder, looting, oppression, rape and injustice.
It was not unusual for the pagan Arabs to mutilate the bodies
of their enemies. Inter-tribal raiding and fighting was
a feature of Arabian culture. If a tribesman was murdered
it was the collective duty of the tribe to call for revenge.
Wars of this nature would often drag for centuries at a
time. Strange superstitious beliefs had become part of this
culture of revenge. If the murder was not avenged, for instance,
the murdered soul was believed to be transformed into a
bird which would hover over the place of murder calling
out : ''I am thirsty. Let me have a drink."
Islam now taught that Jihad
was a sacred fight for Allah's pleasure and was there to remove men
from oppression, injustice, treachery and deception. Jihad
was a controlled institution that would spread safety, security
and peace through the land. It was for this reason that
the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam gave strict instructions
to the commanders when they proceeded to the battlefields.
Prisoners of war were treated honourably.
Never in the history of human
conflict had any conqueror shed so little blood and was
crowned with such remarkable success. In all these battles
only 1018 persons, Muslims as well as non-Muslims, lost
their lives. But, it would be impossible to guess how much
blood of the ferocious Arabs had been saved or how many
souls had escaped degradation. Such was the public tranquillity
and orderliness resulting from the Prophet's Sallallahu Alaihi
Wasallam campaigns that a woman pilgrim would go from
Hira to Makkah and return after performing the pilgrimage
without any fear. The women from Qaadissia would now go
alone on their dromedaries for pilgrimage to Makkah without
the least anxiety. This was the country in which, from time
immemorial, battles between nomadic tribes and raids on
one anothers flocks and property had been accepted unquestionably
as a part of their desert life. Even the caravans of neighbouring
powerful kingdoms dared not cross the country in pre-Islamic
days without powerful escorts and guides.
Islam exposed the wrong of
oppression and urged men to strive for the defence of honour
and justice. This philosophy soon established peace and
order at the cost of minimum labour and time on the part
of the Muslims under the divine guidance of the Prophet
Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam. He was always vigilant to prevent
malicious feelings from becoming the objective of his campaigns.
Whenever the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam sent out
any army he issued strict instructions to his men to fear
Allah and be kind to friends as well as foes. The directions
he once gave to his troops were:
"I ask you to fear Allah
and to be considerate to the Muslims with you. Fight in
the name of Allah and slay those in His name who disbelieve in
Him. You should not break your promise, plunder the booty
and kill any child, woman, the old or a priest who has withdrawn
into seclusion. Never lay your hands on a date palm, chop
down a tree or destroy a building."
How successful were these
campaigns of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam can
be judged from the fact that within a brief period of ten
years more than a million square miles were won for Islam.
The Islamic State expanded at an average rate of 274 square
miles daily at the cost of one martyr a month. This respect
for human blood is unequalled in the annals of man.
The truth of this assertion
is amply borne out if the losses of these campaigns are
placed side by side with casualties in the last two world
wars. According to the computation of the Encyclopaedia
Britannica 6 million 4 hundred thousand people lost their
lives in World War 1 and the number of casualties in
World War 2 ranged between 35 and 60 million. Yet, none
of these two bloodstained wars could claim to have done
any good to humanity nor did they solve any problem of the
world. Similarly, the tribunals known as Inquisitions established
by the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages for the
trial and punishment of heretics are reported to have taken
a toll of 12 million lives. (1)