WikiIslam:Sandbox/Muhammad's Raids and Battles

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According to Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad’s first authentic biographer, Muhammad took part personally in 27 (twenty seven) raids. (Tabari counts it as twenty six because the historian omitted Muhammad’s pilgrimage to Mecca. Since it can not be considered as a raid or war, we should conclude there were only 26 raids Muhammad personally partook in.)

Before getting into details, it is necessary to know of the nature of Muhammad’s battles. Out of the 27 or so battles, only the battle of Uhd and Khandaq were exempted from being offensive. All others were purely offensive onslaughts. More important point here is Muhammad’s raids or better known as “Ghazws” These were raids carried out against helpless people to robe and plunder them.

[Note: This list does not include raids and expeditions that Muhammad ordered but in which he did not take part in person.]

1. Raid of Waddan

This was the first raid Muhammad carried out against helpless polytheists. The raid of Waddan occurred thirteen years after his alleged prophet-hood. (That being almost one year of his coming to Medina (Hijra)) According to Ibn Ishaq:

Then the apostle prepared for war in pursuance of God’s command to fight his enemies and fight those polytheists who were near at hand whom God commanded him to fight. This was thirteen years after his call. <Snip>

The apostle on that day was fifty-three years of age, that being thirteen years after God called him. He stayed there for the rest of Raib’ul-awwal, Shawwal Dhul-Qada, Dhu’l Hijja (when polytheists supervised the pilgrimage) and Muharram. Then he went forth raiding on Safar at the beginning of the twelfth month from his coming to Medina until he reached Waddan which is the first raid of al-Abawa making for Quraysh and Banu Damra b. Bakr b. Abdu Manat b. Kinana. The Banu Damra there made peace with him through their leader Makashi b. Amr al-Damri. Then he returned to Medina without meeting war and remained there for the rest of Safar and the beginning of Rabi’ul-awwal.

From apologist versions:

As further evidence to all the foregoing it is said that the Prophet himself had undertaken the leadership of the raids on al Abwa' twelve months after the Hijrah and appointed Sa`d ibn `Ubadah as his vice-regent in Madinah during his absence. In their search for the Quraysh as well as the Banu Damrah, the Muslims reached Waddan. They did not meet any man from Quraysh on that expedition, but they did succeed in winning Banu Damrah as allies.
Ghazwa Al-Abwa’ or Waddan. It was in Safar 2 A.H., i.e. 623 A.D. The Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) set out himself at the head of 70 men, mostly Emigrants, to intercept a camel caravan belonging to Quraish, leaving behind Sa‘d bin ‘Ubadah to dispose the affairs in Madinah. When he reached Waddan, a place between Makkah and Madinah, he found none.

The important issue on this raid was Muhammad’s approval of endangering or killing of women and children during the raids. This raid occurred at night while people were sleeping in their houses. Muhammad’s followers were bit reluctant to endanger women and children during the raid. (Perhaps owing to the pre-Islamic norm of not endangering women and children during Gahzws) And when they consulted Muhammad on this, he readily approved it. If we follow Sahih Bukhari hadith on this raid:

Narrated As-Sab bin Jaththama: The Prophet passed by me at a place called Al-Abwa or Waddan, and was asked whether it was permissible to attack the pagan warriors at night with the probability of exposing their women and children to danger. The Prophet replied, "They (i.e. women and children) are from them (i.e. pagans)." I also heard the Prophet saying, "The institution of Hima is invalid except for Allah and His Apostle."

2. The Raid on Buwat

This raid occurred after the expedition of Waddan. Muhammad sent one of his followers Ubayda bin al-Harith with sixty men to Thaniyatul-Murra for an expedition. There they had to encounter a large number of Quraysh (Meccans) so no fighting took place. Ibn Ishaq mentions some polytheists joining Muslims in this mission. Not much is known of this expedition but the raid on Buwat was occurred after this. According to Ibn Ishaq:

Then the apostle went raiding in the month of Rabi ul-Awwal making for Quraysh until he reached Buwat in the neighbourhood of Radwa. Then he returned to Medina.

Apologist versions on the raid of Buwat:

A month later (the raid of Waddan), Muhammad led a force of two hundred riders from both the Muhajirun and Ansar camps with Buwat as their objective, where a caravan of 1,500 camels accompanied by one hundred riders under the leadership of Umayyah ibn Khalaf was reported to be passing. No engagement took place because the caravan had taken an untrodden, unknown route.
Buwat Invasion: It took place in Rabi‘ Al-Awwal 2 A.H., i.e. 623 A.D. The Prophet (Peace be upon him), at the head of 200 companions, marched for Buwat to intercept a caravan belonging to Quraish comprising 100 Quraishites, Omaiya bin Khalaf among them, and 2500 camels. When he reached Buwat, the caravan had left. Before leaving Madinah, he mandated Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh to dispose the affairs until his return.

3. The Raid on Ushayra in the valley of Yanbu

This raid was three months after the raid on Buwat. According to Ibn Ishaq:

Then he (Muhammad) raided the Quraysh. He went by the way of B. Dinar, then by Fayfau-l-Khabar, and halted under a tree in the valley of Ibn Azhar called Dhat’I- Saq. <snip> and then traversed the plain of Malal until he met the track in Shukhayrat-al-Yamam which carried him straight to al-Ushayra in the valley of Yanbu where he stopped during Jamad’al-Ula and some days of the following month. He made a treaty of friendship there B.Mudlij and their allies B. Damra and then returned to Medina without a fight.


Two or three months after Muhammad's return from Buwat by way of Radwa, he appointed Abu Salamah ibn `Abd al Asad to take his place in Madinah while he and more than two hundred Muslim riders went on an expedition to `Ushayrah in the district of Yanbu`. There he spent the whole month of First Jumada and a few days of Second Jumada of the second year .A.H. (October 623 C.E) waiting for a Quraysh caravan headed by Abu Sufyan to pass, without success, for it had already gone earlier. During his stay in the area, he concluded a pact of friendship with the tribe of Banu Mudlaj and their allies from Banu Damrah.


Dhil ‘Ushairah Invasion. It was in Jumada-al-Ula and Jumada-al-Akhirah the first or second 2 A.H., i.e. November-December 623 A.D. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) at the head of 150-200 Muslim volunteers, with 30 camels which they rode turn by turn, set out to

intercept a Quraishite caravan. He reached Dhil ‘Ushairah but the camels had left some days before. These camels were the same that he went out to intercept on their return from Syria, and were the direct reason for the break out of the battle of Badr. In the process of this campaign, the Prophet contracted a non-aggression pact with Bani Madlij and their allies Bani Dhumrah.

The first fight at Badr in pursuit of Kurz b. Jabir

According to Ibn Ishaq:

The apostle stayed a few nights, less than ten in Medina when he came back from raiding Al-Ushayra, and then Kurz B. Jabir al-Fihri raided the pasturing camels of Medina. The apostle went out in search of him until he reached a valley called Safawan, in the neighbourhood of Badr. Kurz escaped him and he could not overtake him. This was the first raid of Badr. Then the apostle returned to Medina and stayed there for the rest of Jumad’al Akhira, Rajab, and Sha’ban.


He had hardly spent ten days in Madinah after his return when Kurz ibn Jabir al Fihri, an ally of Quraysh, raided the camels and cattle of Madinah. The Prophet immediately led a force after him, appointing Zayd ibn Harithah as his representative during his absence. The force marched until it reached a valley called Safawan in the district of Badr and again missed their objective, the said Kurz ibn Jabir al Fihri. It is to this raid that biographers refer as the first raid of Badr.


In Rabi‘ Al-Awwal 2 A.H., i.e. 623 A.D. Karz bin Jabir at the head of a small group of polytheists raided the pastures of Madinah and looted some animals. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) at the head of 70 men left Madinah to fight the aggressors. He

went in their pursuit till he reached a place called Safwan near Badr but could not catch up with them. This invasion came to be known as the preliminary Badr Invasion.

[Article incomplete…]

The Battle of Uhud

The battle of Uhud, fought against the Meccan pagans shortly after the great Muslim victory at Badr (ca. 624 A.D.), ended in humilliating defeat for the Muslims. Mohammed commanded, although in typical fashion avoided direct combat, and in fact was wounded by a thrown rock when he was running away. After the battle, Muhammad tried to climb a hill to get a better view:

The apostle made for a rock on the mountain to climb it. He had become heavy by reason of his age, and moreover he had put on two coats of mail, so when he tried to get up he could not do so. Talha b. 'Ubaydullah squatted beneath him and lifted him up until he settled comfortably upon it.
The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah p. 383. (Context: pp. 370-391.)

The apostle of Allah, the perfect prophet, the model for all times, was too obese to climb a rock. "Old age" is no excuse here; several years of having slaves cater to his every whim seems to be a more likely reason. The man who preached moderation to his followers seems to have had problem with maintaining moderation himself. Also notice the detail of Muhammad putting up two coats of mail; he was afraid of getting killed. Perhaps being Allah's final Prophet didn't offer Muhammad enough security.