Muhammad (sa): The Great Exemplar
Friday Sermon delivered at Baitul Futuh Mosque, Morden, London, UK
‘Life of the Holy Prophet(sa): Circumstances Leading to the Battle of Badr’
After reciting Tashahhud, Ta‘awwuz, and Surah al-Fatihah, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba) said that the lives, incidents and sacrifices of the Companions who took part in the Battle of Badr were detailed in a series of sermons. His Holiness(aba) said that many have expressed to him that the life of the Holy Prophet(sa) should also be detailed because it was only due to being attached with him that the Companions achieved high ranks. They not only believed but they embodied the Unity of God as taught by the Holy Prophet(sa).
His Holiness(aba) said that over the years, he has highlighted various aspects of the Holy Prophet(sa) in his sermons. However, his life was such that it cannot be limited to certain aspects. His qualities were so vast that they cannot even be encompassed over the course of a number of sermons. Hence, his life will continue to be mentioned, in fact, every sermon or address comprises some mention of an aspect of the Holy Prophet’s (sa) life because our lives revolve around him. We cannot act according to the Shariah without his example.
Circumstances Leading Up to the Battle of Badr
His Holiness(aba) said that today he would begin a series of sermons about the Holy Prophet(sa) in relation to the Battle of Badr. Before mentioning the battle itself, His Holiness(aba) said that it is important to understand the circumstances which led to the battle happening in the first place. His Holiness(aba) quoted Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad(ra) who writes:
‘The Makkan life of the Holy Prophet(sa), the cruelties which were inflicted upon the Muslims by the Quraish and the schemes they employed in order to expunge Islām, were enough reason for war to break out between any two nations, in every era, and in all types of circumstances. History substantiates that in addition to extremely degrading mockery, and exceedingly offensive taunt and slander, the disbelievers of Makkah forcefully stopped the Muslims from worshipping the One God and announcing His Unity. They were very brutally beaten and battered mercilessly, their wealth was usurped unlawfully, they were boycotted in an attempt to kill and ruin them, while some were martyred ruthlessly and their women were dishonoured. This was to the extent that disturbed by these cruelties, many Muslims left Makkah and migrated to Abyssinia. However, the Quraish did not rest at this either and sent a delegation to the Royal Court of the Negus in an attempt that these Muhājirīn would somehow return to Makkah and the Quraish would become successful in reverting them from their faith, or eliminating them. Then, great pains were inflicted upon the Master and Leader of the Muslims, who was dearer to them than their own souls, and he was subjected to all kinds of suffering. Upon professing the name of God, the friends and comrades of the Quraish bombarded the Holy Prophet(sa) with stones in Ṭā’if, to the extent that his body became drenched in blood. Ultimately, with the agreement of all the representatives of the various tribes of the Quraish, it was decided in the National Parliament of Makkah that Muḥammad (sa), the Messenger of Allāh, be assassinated so that all traces of Islām may be wiped out, and Divine Unity may be brought to an end. Then, in order to practically implement this bloody resolution, the youth of Makkah who were from the various tribes of the Quraish, assembled a group and attacked the home of the Holy Prophet(sa) by night. However, God protected the Holy Prophet(sa), and he departed from his home – leaving them in the dust – and he took refuge in the cave of Thaur. Were these cruelties and bloody resolutions not then equivalent to an announcement of war by the Quraish? In the backdrop of these incidents, can any sensible individual assert that the Quraish of Makkah were not at war with Islām and the Muslims? Then could these cruelties of the Quraish not become sufficient grounds to warrant a defensive war by the Muslims? In such circumstances, could any honourable nation of the world, which has not resigned itself to suicide, stand back from the acceptance of such an ultimatum as was given to the Muslims by the Quraish? Most definitely, if there had been another nation in place of the Muslims, they would have entered the field of battle against the Quraish much earlier. The Muslims, however, were ordered to exhibit patience and forgiveness by their Master. As such, it is written that when the persecution of the Quraish intensified, ‘Abdur-Raḥmān bin ‘Auf(ra), and other Companions, presented themselves before the Holy Prophet(sa), and sought permission to fight the Quraish, but the Holy Prophet(sa) responded:
“For now, I have been ordered to pardon. Thus, I cannot give you permission to fight.”
As such, the Companions bore every pain and insult in the way of religion, but did not let go of the handle of patience. When the goblet of the persecution of the Quraish had been satiated and began to overflow; and the God of this universe found the divine message to have been conveyed incontrovertibly, it was only then that God ordered His servant to leave the city. For now, the matter had exceeded the limit of forgiveness, and the time had come when the perpetrators would reach their evil end. Hence, this migration of the Holy Prophet(sa) was a sign of the acceptance of the ultimatum of the Quraish. It was a subtle indication by God of the announcement of war; both the Muslims and disbelievers understood this. As such, during the consultation at Dārun-Nadwah, when an individual proposed that the Holy Prophet(sa) should be exiled from Makkah, the chieftains of the Quraish rejected this proposal on the basis that if Muḥammad (sa) was to leave Makkah, the Muslims would definitely accept their ultimatum and enter the field of battle in opposition to them. Upon the occasion of the second Bai‘at at ‘Aqabah, when the question of the migration of the Holy Prophetsa arose before the Anṣār of Madīnah, they immediately said, “This entails that we should become prepared for war against the whole of Arabia.” When the Holy Prophet(sa) left Makkah, he cast a sorrow-stricken glance upon the boundaries of Makkah and said, “O Makkah! You were more beloved to me than all other cities, but your people have not allowed me to live here.” Upon this, Ḥaḍrat Abū Bakr(ra) said, “They have exiled the Messenger of God. Now they shall indeed be destroyed.”
In summary, until the Holy Prophet(sa) resided in Makkah, he endured all kinds of torment, but did not take up the sword against the Quraish. The reason being that firstly, before any measures could be taken against the Quraish, according to the custom of Allāh, the divine message needed to be conveyed incontrovertibly, and this called for respite. Secondly, it was also the desire of God that the Muslims exhibit a model of forgiveness and patience to that final limit whereafter remaining silent was equivalent to suicide, which cannot be deemed a commendable deed by any sensible individual. Thirdly, the Quraish headed a kind of democratic government in Makkah and the Holy Prophet(sa) was one of its citizens. Hence, good citizenship demanded that until the Holy Prophet(sa) remained in Makkah, he respect the authority, and not allow anything as would disturb the peace, and when the issue exceeds the limit of forgiveness, he migrate from there. Fourthly, it was also necessary that until his people had become deserving of punishment due to their actions in the estimation of God, and until the time to destroy them had not arrived, the Holy Prophet(sa) live among them, and when the time arrives, he migrate from there. The reason being that, according to the custom of Allāh, until a Prophet of God remains within his people, they are not struck by a punishment as would destroy them. When a destructive punishment is impending, the Prophet is ordered to leave such a place. Due to these reasons, the migration of the Holy Prophet(sa) possessed distinct indications within it, but it is unfortunate that these wrong-doing people did not recognize them, and continued to grow in their tyranny and oppression. For if the Quraish had abstained even now, and had refrained from employing a course of compulsion in religion, and had permitted the Muslims to live a life of peace, then God is the Most Merciful of those who are Merciful, and His Messenger was also Raḥmatullil-‘Ālamīn. Indeed, even then they would have been forgiven. However, the writings of divine decree were to be fulfilled. The migration of the Holy Prophet(sa) served as fuel upon the fire of the Quraish’s enmity and they stood up with an even greater zeal and uproar than before, to obliterate Islam.
In addition to inflicting persecution and tyranny upon the poor and weak Muslims, who until now were still in Makkah, the first undertaking of the Quraish, as soon as they found out that the Holy Prophet(sa) had left Makkah, was that they set out to pursue him. They scanned every inch of the Valley of Bakkah, in search of the Holy Prophet(sa) and even reached the mouth of the cave of Thaur. However, Allāh the Exalted aided the Holy Prophet(sa) and placed such a veil upon the eyes of the Quraish, that after having reached the very place of destination, they returned frustrated and unsuccessful. When they became disappointed in this search, they made a public announcement that any individual who brought Muḥammadsa back – dead or alive – would receive a bounty of a hundred camels, which is equivalent to approximately 20,000 Rupees in today’s currency.’
His Holiness(aba) explained that this was the value at the time in which Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad(ra) wrote this book. Today, that would equate to tens of millions of pounds.
Threats of the Quraish Against the Muslims
His Holiness(aba) continued quoting, ‘Many young men from the various tribes of the Quraish set out in all directions to search for the Holy Prophet(sa), in greed of the bounty. As such, the pursuit of Surāqah bin Mālik, which has already been mentioned in Volume I of this book, was also a result of this announcement of reward. However, the Quraish were made to confront failure in this scheme as well. If one contemplates, for war to break out between two nations, even this sole reason is enough, in that a bounty of this nature is set for the Master and Leader of the other. In any case, when this scheme also proved unsuccessful and the Quraish found out that the Holy Prophet(sa) had reached Madīnah safe and sound, as it has been mentioned above, the chieftains of the Quraish sent a terribly threatening letter to the head chieftain of Madīnah, ‘Abdullāh bin Ubayy bin Sulūl, and his companions:
“You have given protection to an individual of ours (i.e., Muḥammad (sa)), and we swear in the name of Allāh that you shall either leave him and declare war against him, or in the least, exile him from your city. If not, we shall most definitely gather our entire army and attack you; and we shall kill your men and take your women into our own possession, making them lawful unto ourselves.”
The anxiety which could have clung to the poor Muhājirīn due to this letter is evident, but a tremor of fear also surged through the Anṣār as well. When the Holy Prophet(sa) received news of this, he went to ‘Abdullāh bin Ubayy himself. The Holy Prophet(sa) reasoned with him and calmed him down saying,“Your very own kith and kin are with me, will you fight against your own loved ones?” It was in these days that Sa‘d bin Mu‘ādh(ra), chieftain of the Aus, came to Makkah for the purpose of ‘Umrah. Upon seeing him, the eyes of Abū Jahl gorged with blood in rage and he furiously said, “You have (God-forbid) given protection to that renegade (Muḥammad (sa)). Do you believe that you will be able to protect him…?” In this era, the Quraish were so preoccupied in uprooting Islām that when Walīd bin Mughīrah, a chief of Makkah was about to die, he began to weep helplessly. The people inquired of his suffering, to which he responded, “I fear, lest the religion of Muḥammad (sa) might spread after my death.” The leaders of the Quraish responded by saying, “Do not worry, we guarantee that we shall not allow his religion to spread.” All of these instances are subsequent to the migration, when the Holy Prophet(sa) had left Makkah, distressed by the persecution of the Quraish, and it could be thought that the Quraish would leave the Muslims at their state. This was not all, rather, when the Quraish noticed that the Aus and Khazraj refused to give up their protection of the Holy Prophet(sa), and it was apprehended that Islām may take root in Madīnah, they toured the other tribes of Arabia and began to incite them against the Muslims. Since the Quraish enjoyed a distinct influence upon the other tribes of Arabia, due to their guardianship of the Ka‘bah, for this reason, upon the instigation of the Quraish, many tribes had become deadly enemies of the Muslims. The state of Madīnah was as if it had become surrounded by a raging fire. As such, the following narration has already been mentioned:
“Ubayy bin Ka‘b(ra) who was from among the distinguished Companions narrates, ‘When the Holy Prophet(sa) and his Companions migrated to Madīnah, and the Anṣār gave protection to them, in turn all of Arabia collectively stood up against the Muslims. In that era, the Muslims would not even put off their arms at night and during the day they would walk around armed in case of a sudden attack. They would say to each other that let us see if we live till such a time when we might be able to sleep in peace at night without any fear except the fear of God.’”
The state of the Chief of Mankind himself was that:
“In the beginning, when the Holy Prophet(sa) arrived to Madīnah, he would often remain awake during the night in apprehension of an enemy attack.”
With regards to the very same era, the Holy Qur’ān states:
“O ye Muslims! And remember the time when you were few and were considered to be weak in the land, and were in constant fear lest people should snatch you away and destroy you. But God sheltered you and granted you support with His Succour and opened the doors of pure provisions upon you. Therefore, you should now live as thankful servants.” (8:27)
This was the state of external threats and, even in Madīnah, the state was that until now, a substantial segment from among the Aus and Khazraj stood firm upon polytheism. Although they were apparently with their brethren and kindred, but in such circumstances, how could a polytheist be trusted? Secondly, were the hypocrites, who at the outset had accepted Islām, but in secret they were enemies of Islām, and their presence in Madīnah posed threatening possibilities. Thirdly, were the Jews, with whom although there was a treaty, but to these Jews the value of this treaty was nothing. Hence, in this manner, there were such elements present even in Madīnah itself, which were no less than a store of hidden ammunition against the Muslims. A tiny spark by the Arabian tribes was enough to set this ammunition on fire, and destroy the Muslims of Madīnah with a single blast. At this vulnerable time, which was such that a more critical time had never dawned upon the Muslims before, divine revelation was sent to the Holy Prophet(sa), that now he should also take up the sword in opposition to these disbelievers, who had entered the field of battle against him, sword in hand, purely by way of injustice and tyranny. In this manner, Jihād by the sword was announced.”’ (The Life & Character of the Seal of Prophets Vol II pp. 54-60)
The First Time Jihad of the Sword Was Permitted
His Holiness(aba) said that according to the research of Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad(ra), the first verse regarding Jihad with the sword revealed to the Holy Prophet(sa) was in 12 Safar 2 AH. It is also recorded in some narrations that this verse was revealed at the time of migration, as the Holy Prophet(sa) had started sending envoys for the protection of Madinah against real threats. In any case, this was the very first time that the Holy Prophet(sa) had been given permission by God to take up the sword in defence against the vile injustices and cruelties that were being inflicted upon him. The Qur’anic verse revealed in this regard was:
“Permission to fight is granted to the Muslims against whom the disbelievers have taken up the sword because they (i.e., the Muslims) have been wronged – And Allāh indeed has power to help them – Those who have been driven out of their homes unjustly, only because they said, ‘Our Lord is Allāh’ – And if Allāh the Exalted did not repel some men by means of others (by granting permission for defensive war), there would surely have been pulled down cloisters belonging to monks and Christian churches and Jewish synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of God is oft-commemorated. And Allāh the Exalted will surely help one who helps Him. Undoubtedly, Allāh the Exalted is Powerful, Mighty.”’ (22:40-41)
His Holiness(aba) said that not only was this for the protection of Muslims, but by naming the places of worship of other religions, this verse also protects the rights and freedoms of other religions as well.
Four Strategies Deployed During the Hostilities Against the Muslims
His Holiness(aba) further quoted Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad(ra) who writes the initial four strategies used by the Holy Prophet(sa):
‘FIRSTLY: The Holy Prophet(sa) began travelling to nearby tribes and establishing peace treaties with them, so that the surrounding region of Madīnah would become free of threat. In this respect, the Holy Prophet(sa) gave special consideration to those tribes who were situated close to the Syrian trade route of the Quraish. As every individual may gather, it was these tribes in particular, from whom the Quraish of Makkah could have derived most benefit against the Muslims and whose enmity could have resulted in severe threats for the Muslims.
SECONDLY: The Holy Prophet(sa) began to dispatch small companies in order to obtain intelligence in different directions from Madīnah, so that he was able to remain informed of the movements of the Quraish and their allies; and the Quraish also understood that the Muslims were not oblivious, so that in this manner, Madīnah could be safeguarded from the dangers of sudden attacks.
THIRDLY: Another wisdom in dispatching these parties was so that the weak and poor Muslims of Makkah and its surrounding areas could find an opportunity by these means, to join the Muslims of Madīnah. Until now, there were many people in the region of Makkah who were Muslims at heart, but were unable to publicly profess their belief in Islām due to the cruelties of the Quraish. Furthermore, due to their poverty and weakness, they were unable to migrate either, because the Quraish would forcefully hold back such people from migrating…
FOURTHLY: The fourth strategy employed by the Holy Prophet(sa) was that he began to intercept the trade caravans of the Quraish which travelled from Makkah to Syria passing by Madīnah en route. The reason being that firstly, these caravans would spark a fire of enmity against the Muslims wherever they travelled. It is obvious that for a seed of enmity to be sown in the environs of Madīnah, was extremely dangerous for the Muslims. Secondly, these caravans would always be armed and everyone can appreciate that for such caravans to pass by so close to Madīnah was not empty of danger. Thirdly, the livelihood of the Quraish primarily depended on trade. Therefore, in these circumstances, the most definitive and effective means by which the Quraish could be subdued, their cruelties could be put to an end, and they could be pressed to reconciliation, was by obstructing their trade route. As such, history testifies to the fact that among the factors which ultimately compelled the Quraish to incline towards reconciliation, the interception of these trade caravans played an extremely pivotal role. Hence, this was an extremely sagacious strategy, which yielded fruits of success at the appropriate time. Fourthly, the revenue from these caravans of the Quraish was mostly spent in efforts to eliminate Islām. Rather, some caravans were even sent for the sole purpose that their entire profit may be utilized against the Muslims. In this case, every individual can understand that the interception of these caravans, was in its own right, an absolutely legitimate motive.’The Life & Character of the Seal of Prophets Vol II pp. 90-92)
His Holiness(aba) said that this topic would continue in future sermons.
His Holiness(aba) said that he would lead the funeral prayers of the following deceased members:
Khawaja Muniruddin Qamar from the UK who passed away on 27 May 2023. He was the grandson of a Companion of the Promised Messiah(as). In fact, the Promised Messiah(as) also saw his father when he was very young. His father was the first central President of Majlis Khuddamul Ahmadiyya (Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association). Khawaja Muniruddin Qamar had the honour of calling the Adhan (call to prayer) at the Fazl Mosque in the UK during the time of the Fourth Caliph. He also served as the President of the local chapter of Fazl Mosque and Putney. After retiring, he dedicated his life to the service of Islam and served in various offices. He attended work at the office up until one day before his demise. He possessed many great and virtuous qualities. He is survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters. He was also the maternal uncle of the National President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK. His Holiness(aba) prayed that may Allah the Almighty grant him forgiveness and mercy and elevate his station.
Dr Mirza Mubashar Ahmad who was the grandson of the Second Caliph(ra). After his studies in Pakistan, he worked for some time in Rabwah, after which he travelled to London to study at the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh. He had dedicated his life to the service of Islam, and so he returned to Pakistan, where he served at the Fazle Umar Hospital for about 50 years. He was also appointed as a member of the Waqf-e-Jadid Board by the Fourth Caliph(rh), a post in which he remained until his demise. He always tended to and cared for his relatives. He also had the opportunity of serving and treating the elders in his family, along with treating others who were less fortunate. He also rendered financial aid for girls to obtain an education and even helped fund their weddings. He had a deep connection with the Caliphs. Not only was he related to the Caliphs during his lifetime, but he always exhibited great respect and honour for them. His Holiness(aba) said that despite being senior in age, Dr Mirza Mubashar Ahmad always treated him with great respect. During his final illness, the Fourth Caliph(rh) asked for Dr Mirza Mubashar Ahmad, who immediately travelled to be with him and remained with him until his demise. He would often travel to help treat the Fourth Caliph(rh) during a period of illness. It is said that even non-Ahmadis and opponents of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community would secretly visit him in order to seek treatment. There was a small spoon which the Promised Messiah(as) would use to take medicine during his illness. This same spoon came into the possession of Dr Mirza Mubashar Ahmad, which he would use at times for the sake of blessings while giving medicine to some of his patients. His absence has greatly been felt by all, both Ahmadis and non-Ahmadis alike as well as the hospital staff among many others. Many people wrote to His Holiness(aba) of the great relationships which he maintained with everyone. His Holiness(aba) said that those who are complimented after their demise are bound for Heaven. His Holiness(aba) prayed for this to prove true in the case of Dr Mirza Mubashar Ahmad. His Holiness(aba) prayed that may Allah the Almighty grant him forgiveness and mercy and grant him a place among His beloved.
Syeda Amatul Basit who was the wife of Syed Mahmood Ahmad Basit. She was the daughter of Syed Abdul Razzaq Shah and was the niece of Hazrat Umm Tahir. She was regular in offering prayers, including Tahajjud (pre-dawn voluntary prayer). She was always at the forefront of helping the poor. She is survived by her husband, a son and two daughters. She was loved by everyone and had a deep love for the Caliphate. She never expressed her own pain and instead focused on serving the poor and humanity, whether by physically serving them, praying for them or giving alms. She was very prayerful and had a strong connection with God. His Holiness(aba) prayed that may Allah grant her forgiveness and mercy, elevate her station and enable her children to carry on the legacy of her virtues.
Sharif Ahmad Bandesha of Faisalabad, Pakistan. His son, Rahmatullah Bandesha, is a Missionary. He served as the local President of the Community in his village for a long time. He possessed many great qualities. He had a high standard of prayer, served the poor, and kept good relations with his family and all others. He is survived by five sons and three daughters. His Holiness(aba) prayed that may Allah the Almighty grant him forgiveness and mercy, elevate his station and enable his children to carry on the legacy of his virtues.
Summary prepared by The Review of Religions