Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Mount Uhud.... the site of the battle of Uhud
The Battle of Uhud (Arabic: غزوة أحد Ġazwat ‘Uḥud) was fought on March 19, 625 (3 Shawwal 3 AH in the Islamic calendar) at the valley located in front of Mount Uhud, in what is now northwestern Arabia. It occurred between a force from the Muslim community of Medina led by the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and a force led by Abu Sufyan ibn Harb from Mecca, the town from which many of the Muslims had previously emigrated. The Battle of ‘Uḥud was the second military encounter between the Meccans and the Muslims, preceded by the Battle of Badr in 624, where a small Muslim army had defeated the much larger Meccan army.
Marching out from Mecca towards Medina on March 11, 625 AD, the Meccans desired to avenge their losses at Badr and strike back at Muhammad and his followers. The Muslims readied for war soon afterwards and the two armies fought on the slopes and plains of Mount ‘Uḥud.
Whilst heavily outnumbered, the Muslims gained the early initiative and forced the Meccan lines back, thus leaving much of the Meccan camp unprotected. When the battle looked to be only one step far from a decisive Muslim victory, a serious mistake was committed by a part of the Muslim army, which shifted the outcome of the battle. A breach of Muhammad's orders by the Muslim archers, who left their assigned posts to despoil the Meccan camp, allowed a surprise attack from the Meccan cavalry, led by Meccan war veteran Khalid ibn al-Walid, which brought chaos to the Muslim ranks. Many Muslims were killed including Hamza ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, the Prophet's uncle and foster brother. Muhammad himself was almost killed and came out badly injured. The Muslims had to withdraw up the slopes of ‘Uḥud. The Meccans did not pursue the Muslims further, but marched back to Mecca declaring victory.
For the Muslims, the battle was a significant setback: although they had been close to routing the Meccans a second time, their breach of Muhammad's orders in favor of collecting Meccan spoils reaped severe consequences. The two armies would meet again in 627 AD at the Battle of the Trench
Map of the battle, showing the Muslim and Meccan lines respectively
Muslim archers positioned on a hill during the Battle of Uhud, as depicted in Moustapha Akkad's 1976 film "The Message".