Were They Sent To Batn Rabigh For A Caravan Raid?

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No! The Prophet (p) sent an expedition under the leadership of Ubaydah Ibn al-Harith to Batn Rabigh, to confront Abu Sufyan Ibn Harb who was an arch enemy of the Muslims.

Reports

Al-Waqidi:

“THE EXPEDITION (SARIYYA) OF UBAYDA B. AL-HARITH TO RABIGH
The Prophet gave the flag to Ubayda b. al-Harith, in shawal, the eighth month AH, to march to Rabigh (Rabigh lies ten miles from Juhfa in the direction of Qudayd). Ubayda went out with sixty riders. He met Abu Sufyan b. Harb at the water known as Ahya in the valley of Rabigh. Abu Sufyan was at that time with two hundred men. Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas was the first who aimed an arrow for Islam. He scattered his quiverall before his companions, while his companions shielded him. He said: he aimed with what was in his quiver until he emptied it. There was not an arrow aimed except he injured someon with it. It was said: there were twenty arrows in the quiver, that they all injured either a man or an animal, and that there no other arrow at that time. They did not draw swords nor stand in line for battle other than for his shooting and skirmish. Then each group turned back towards its garrison. Sa’d b. Aby Waqqas used to say concerning what ibn Abi Sabra related to me from al-Muhajir b. Mismar, that there were, in all, sixty from the Quraysh. Sa’d said: I said to Ubayda, ‘If we follow them we will overpower them for surely they have turned away in fear.” But he didn’t agree with me, so we turned back toward Medina.” [1]

 

Kitab al-tabaqat al-Kabir – Ibn Sa’d:

“SARIYYAH OF UBAYDAH IBN AL-HARITH
Then (occurred) the Sariyyah of Ubaydah al-Harith Ibn al-Muttalib Ibn Abd Manaf towards Batn Rabigh in Shawwal (April- May 623 A.C.) after the commencement of the eighth month from the hijrah of the Apostle of Allah. He (Prophet) prepared a white flag for him. It was borne by Mistah Ibn Uthathah Ibn al-Muttalib Ibn Abd Manaf. The Apostle of Allah, sent him with sixty Muhajirs and there was no Ansari among them. He met Abu Sufyan Ibn Harb, who had two hundred men with him at a spring known as Ahya, a part of Batn Rabigh, at a distance of ten miles from al-Juhfah if you go to Qudayd to the left side of the route. They had deviated from the route to graze their camels. Arrows were thrown, but they did not drw swords, nor fell in a battle array. The exchange of arrows was because Sa’d Ibn Abi Waqqas had thrown an arrow on that day, and it was the first arrow thrown (after the advent of Islam). Then the parties retired to their places of shelter. In the narration of Ibn Ishaq, the leader of the people has been mentioned as Ikrimah Ibn Abi Jahl.” [2]

 

Ibn Ishaq:

“THE EXPEDITION OF UBAYDA B. AL-HARITH
During that stay in Medina the Apostle of Allah sent Ubayda b. al-Harith b. al-Muttalib with sixty or eighty riders from the emigrants, there not being a single one of the Ansar among them. He went as far as water in the Hijaz below Thaniyatu’l-Murra, where he encountered a large number of Quraysh. No fighting took place except that Sa’d b. Abu Waqqas shot an arrow on that day. It was the first arrow to be shot in Islam. Then the two companies separated, the Muslims having a rearfuard. Al-Miqdad b. Amr al=Bahrani, an ally of the B. Zuhra, and Utba b. Ghazwan b. Jabir al-Mazini, an all of the B. Naufal b. Abdu Manaf, fled from the polytheists and joined the Muslims to whom they really belonged. They had gone out with the unbelievers in order to be able to link up with the Muslims. Ikrimah b. Abu Jahl was in command of the Meccans.” [3]

 

Reading the above reports we see Ubaydah was sent out to deal with Abu Sufyan Ibn Harb and his men. Some have claimed that the main reason Muhammed (p) sent him was to raid a caravan. However, no such thing is mentioned in these reports. The actions of the Prophet (p) was in defence of Muslim community, given the fact that the Quraysh, just before this incident declared war against the Muslims and incited others in Madinah to kill Muslims. (Read more about this here: ‘Did Quraysh Persecute Muslims When They Fled To Madinah?’)

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References:

[1] The Life of Muhammad: Al-Waqidi’s Kitab al-Maghazi edited by Rizwi Faizer, volume 1, page 11 – 12
[2] Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, ibn Sa’d, volume 2, page 3 – 4
[3] Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah – The Life of Muhammad Translated by A. Guillaume, page 281

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