Byzantine’s, Tabuk Expedition And The Rumor Claim

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Kaleef K. Karim

We have written over the years a number of articles in relation to the Tabuk expedition. A brief mention of this incident for some of our readers who may not be well acquainted with that part of history:

The Byzantine’s as we showed previously prepared their troops southwards heading towards Madinah, intending to attack/kill and overthrow the Muslim Government, 1400 years ago. As such, clear reports had reached the blessed Prophet Muhammed (p) that an army was coming intending to harm him and his community. With the news being confirmed as true, the Prophet Muhammed (p) and his companions (Sahaba) prepared to engage the enemy. The Tabuk expedition was one of the reasons why Surah 9:29 was revealed on this occasion: “Answering Jihad: ‘Fight Against Those Who Do Not Believe’ – Quran 9:29

Some missionaries have gone out of their way to discredit the evidences presented, and even make the Prophet Muhammed (p) and his companions seem evil for attempting to fight the hostile Byzantine army. As such, a number of fallacious claims have been made in regards to this. One such claim is that the reports reaching the Prophet (p) in relation to Byzantine’s was not actual true reports, but mere hearsay, as they claim. The following reports have been presented to back up their assertions:

Report 1:

“… In those days we were afraid of one of the kings of Ghassan tribe. WE HEARD that he intended to move and attack us, so fear filled our hearts because of that. (One day) my Ansari friend unexpectedly knocked at my door, and said, ‘Open Open!’ I said, ‘Has the king of Ghassan come?’ He said, ‘NO, BUT SOMETHING WORSE; ALLAH’S APOSTLE HAS ISOLATED HIMSELF FROM HIS WIVES.’ I said, ‘Let the nose of ‘Aisha and Hafsa be stuck to dust (i.e. humiliated)!’ Then I put on my clothes and went to Allah’s Apostle’s residence, and behold, he was staying in an upper room of his to which he ascended by a ladder, and a black slave of Allah’s Apostle was (sitting) on the first step. I said to him, ‘Say (to the Prophet ) ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab is here.’ Then the Prophet admitted me and I narrated the story to Allah’s Apostle. When I reached the story of Um Salama, Allah’s Apostle smiled while he was lying on a mat made of palm tree leaves with nothing between him and the mat. Underneath his head there was a leather pillow stuffed with palm fibres, and leaves of a saut tree were piled at his feet, and above his head hung a few water skins. On seeing the marks of the mat imprinted on his side, I wept. He said.’ ‘Why are you weeping?’ I replied, “O Allah’s Apostle! Caesar and Khosrau are leading the life (i.e. Luxurious life) while you, Allah’s Apostle though you are, is living in destitute”. The Prophet then replied. ‘Won’t you be satisfied that they enjoy this world and we the Hereafter?’ ” ” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Hadith 435 http://searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=60&translator=1&start=0&number=435)

Report 2:

“… During that time all the rulers of the nearby lands had surrendered to Allah’s Apostle except the king of Ghassan in Sham, and we were afraid that he MIGHT attack us. ALL OF A SUDDEN THE ANSARI CAME AND SAID, ‘A GREAT EVENT HAS HAPPENED!’ I asked him, ‘What is it? Has the Ghassani (king) come?’ He said, ‘Greater than that! ALLAH’S APOSTLE HAS DIVORCED HIS WIVES! I went to them and found all of them weeping in their dwellings, and the Prophet had ascended to an upper room of his. At the door of the room there was a slave to whom I went and said, “Ask the permission for me to enter.” He admitted me and I entered to see the Prophet lying on a mat that had left its imprint on his side. Under his head there was a leather pillow stuffed with palm fires. Behold! There were some hides hanging there and some grass for tanning. Then I mentioned what I had said to Hafsa and Um Salama and what reply Um Salama had given me. Allah’s Apostle smiled and stayed there for twenty nine days and then came down.”” (Sahih al-Bukhari, volume 7, Book 72, Number 734 http://searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=72&translator=1&start=0&number=734)

In the above two reports so far we see that the Muslims at the time were not bothered about this story on the Ghassans. They were more worried about what was happening in the Prophet Muhammed’s household. This should give readers enough proof that the Muslims did not take the story as being authentic at the time. Let’s continue with the reports used by critics:

Report 3:

“… Umar added, AT THAT TIME A TALK WAS CIRCULATING AMONG US THAT (THE TRIBE OF) GHASSAN WERE PREPARING THEIR HORSES TO INVADE US. My Ansari companion, on the day of his turn, went (to the town) and returned to us at night and knocked at my door violently and asked if I was there. I became horrified and came out to him. He said, ‘TODAY A GREAT THING HAS HAPPENED.’ I asked, ‘WHAT IS IT? Have (the people of) Ghassan come?’ He said, ‘No, BUT (WHAT HAS HAPENED) IS GREATER AND MORE HORRIFYING THAN THAT: ALLAH’S APOSTLE; HAS DIVORCED HIS WIVES. ‘Umar added, “The Prophet kept away from his wives and I said “Hafsa is a ruined loser.’ I had already thought that most probably this (divorce) would happen in the near future. So I dressed myself and offered the morning prayer with the Prophet and then the PROPHET; ENTERED AN UPPER ROOM AND STAYED THERE IN SECLUSION. I entered upon Hafsa and saw her weeping. I asked, ‘What makes you weep? Did I not warn you about that? Did the Prophet divorce you all?’ She said, ‘I do not know. There he is retired alone in the upper room.’ I came out and sat near the pulpit and saw a group of people sitting around it and some of them were weeping. … When I was leaving, behold! … The stalks left marks on his side and he was leaning on a leather pillow stuffed with date-palm fires. I greeted him and while still standing I said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Have you divorced your wives?’ He looked at me and said, ‘NO.’ I said, ‘Allahu Akbar!’ … The Prophet smiled for a second time. When I saw him smiling, I sat down. Then I looked around his house, and by Allah, I could not see anything of importance in his house except three hides, so I said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Invoke Allah to make your followers rich, for the Persians and the Romans (Byzantine’s) have been made prosperous and they have been given (the pleasures of the world), although they do not worship Allah.’ Thereupon the Prophet sat up as he was reclining. and said, ‘Are you of such an opinion, O the son of Al-Khattab? These are the people who have received the rewards for their good deeds in this world.’ I said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Ask Allah to forgive me.’ THEN THE PROPHET KEPT AWAY FROM HIS WIVES FOR TWENTY-NINE DAYS BECAUSE OF THE STORY WHICH HAFSA HAD DISCLOSED TO ‘AISHA. The Prophet had said, ‘I WILL NOT ENTER UPON THEM (MY WIVES) FOR ONE MONTH,’ because of his anger towards them, when Allah had admonished him. SO, WHEN TWENTY NINE DAYS HAD PASSED, THE PROPHET FIRST ENTERED UPON ‘AISHA. ‘Aisha said to him, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! You had sworn that you would not enter upon us for one month, but now only twenty-nine days have passed, for I have been counting them one by one.’ The Prophet said, ‘The (present) month is of twenty nine days.’ ‘Aisha added, ‘Then Allah revealed the Verses of the option. (2) And out of all his-wives he asked me first, and I chose him.’ Then he gave option to his other wives and they said what ‘Aisha had said . ” (1) The Prophet, ‘ had decided to abstain from eating a certain kind of food because of a certain event, so Allah blamed him for doing so. Some of his wives were the cause of him taking that decision, THEREFORE HE DESERTED THEM FOR ONE MONTH. See Quran: (66.4) ” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 119 http://searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=62&translator=1&start=0&number=119)

Report 4:

“… In those days IT WAS RUMORED that Ghassan, (a tribe living in Sham) was getting prepared their horses to invade us. My companion went (to the Prophet on the day of his turn, went and returned to us at night and knocked at my door violently, asking whether I was sleeping. I was scared (by the hard knocking) and came out to him. HE SAID THAT A GREAT THING HAD HAPPENED. I ASKED HIM: WHAT IS IT? Have Ghassan come? He replied that IT WAS WORSE AND MORE SERIOUS THAN THAT, AND ADDED THAT ALLAH’S APOSTLE HAD DIVORCED ALL HIS WIVES. … Have Allah’s Apostle divorced you all?’ She (Hafsah) replied, ‘I don’t know. He is there in the upper room.’ I then went out and came to the pulpit and found a group of people around it and some of them were weeping. Then I sat with them for some time, but could not endure the situation. … I entered upon the Prophet and saw him lying on a mat without wedding on it, and the mat had left its mark on the body of the Prophet, and he was leaning on a leather pillow stuffed with palm fires. I greeted him and while still standing, I said: “Have you divorced your wives?’ He raised his eyes to me and replied in the negative. And then while still standing, I said chatting: “Will you heed what I say, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! … I said (Umar Ibn al-Khattab) (to Allah’s Apostle) “Invoke Allah to make your followers prosperous for THE PERSIANS AND THE BYZANTINES HAVE BEEN MADE PROSPEROUS AND GIVEN WORLDLY LUXURIES, though they do not worship Allah?’ The Prophet was leaning then (and on hearing my speech he sat straight) and said, ‘O IBN AL-KHATTTAB! DO YOU HAVE ANY DOUBT (THAT THE HEREAFTER IS BETTER THAN THIS WORLD)? THESE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN GIVEN REWARDS OF THEIR GOOD DEEDS IN THIS WORLD ONLY.’ I asked the Prophet . ‘Please ask Allah’s forgiveness for me. The Prophet did not go to his wives because of the secret which Hafsa had disclosed to ‘Aisha, and HE (MUHAMMED) SAID THAT HE WOULD NOT GO TO HIS WIVES FOR ONE MONTH as he was angry with them when Allah admonished him (for his oath that he would not approach Maria). WHEN TWENTY-NINE DAYS HAD PASSED, THE PROPHET WENT TO AISHA first of all. She said to him, ‘You took an oath that you would not come to us for one month, and today only twenty-nine days have passed, as I have been counting them day by day.’ The Prophet said, ‘The month is also of twenty-nine days.’ That month consisted of twenty-nine days. …” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 43, Number 648 http://searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=43&translator=1&start=0&number=648)

The critics have thus deduced from the above reports that these narrations are telling us that the Muslims fought against the Byzantine’s based on unconfirmed stories.

What the critic(s) leave out deliberately, is that even though these reports may be a “rumor”, the Muslims did not retaliate, nor got their troops ready to attack them. These very reports show that even though they may have been worried and anxious of hearing of the impending army of the Byzantine’s, they did not prepare themselves to deal with them since it was only a story circulating at the time. Furthermore, if they found these “rumors” to be true (even though they are) in this instance, why didn’t the companions prepared themselves to engage the enemy? Why didn’t they ask the Prophet to get ready and set out against them? Why did they find the Prophet Muhammed (p) having some home issues more important than the enemies attacking and aiming to kill them? As I mentioned, at this stage the story that was circulating was not confirmed by the Muslims, hence, they Byzantines were left alone.

I may add further, report 3 and 4 tell us that the Prophet (p) abstained from his wives for 29 days, showing that the Muslims did not engage the enemy straight away, but rather after it was confirmed. If the reports were said to be true, the Prophet (p) would have not abstained one month, and caring for home issues over harm to the whole community. Thus the reports were not taken seriously at the time.

As we have briefly seen here readers the reports that were mentioned in regards to this incident of Tabuk, does not in  any away nullify the overwhelming evidence presented in the previous article, that the Byzantine’s did indeed march southwards intending to attack and kill Muslims, 1400 years.

If the Muslims at the time accepted this story, you would think that they would take immediate military action against the threat, in this incident it was not the case. So in short, the story was not verified yet, it was only after that they took drastic action to confront the enemy head one.

Although the above Hadith reports are authentic collections of Islam, the following report which is narrated by Al-Waqidi is heavily criticised, to the point that many classical scholars have called him a “liar”, as we will show shortly. For now let’s read the al-Waqidi story presented by critics:

“They said: The Saqita–they were Nabateans– arrived in Medina with flour [Page 990] and oil in Jahiliyya and after Islam arrived. Indeed there was news of al-Sham with the Muslims every day. Many of those who came to them were from Nabatea. A group arrived which mentioned that the Byzantines had gathered many groups in al-Sham, and that Heraclius had provisioned his companions for a year. The Lakhmids, Judham, Ghassan and Amila had gathered to him. They marched and their leaders led them to al-Balqa’ where they camped. Heraclius stayed behind in Hims. THAT WAS NOT A FACT, but rather something that was said to them that they repeated. There was not an enemy more fearful to the Muslims than them. That was because of what they saw of them, when they used to arrive as merchants, of preparedness, and numbers, and sheep. …
“He said: Heraclius had sent a man from the Ghassan to observe the Prophet, his ways, his characteristics, the redness of his eyes, and the seal of prophecy between his shoulders. He asked if he (the Prophet) accepts sadaqa, and he learned something of the situation of the Prophet. [Page 1019] Then he returned to Heraclius and he mentioned that to him. He invited the people to believe in the Messenger of God, but they refused, until he feared they would go against his authority. He stayed where he was, AND DID NOT MOVE OR GO FORWARD. News that had reached the Prophet, about Heraclius sending his companions and getting close to the South of al-Sham, WAS FALSE. HE DID NOT DESIRE THAT, NOR DID HE INTEND IT. The Messenger of God consulted about proceeding. Umar b. al-Khattab said, ‘If you are commanded to march, march!’ The Messenger of God said, ‘If I was commanded about it I would not consult you!’ He said, ‘O Messenger of God, the Byzantines have many groups, but there is not one of Muslims. You are close to them as you see, and your closeness FRIGHTENS THEM. So return this year until you come to a decision, or God establishes for you in that affair.’” (The Life of Muhammad: Al-Waqidi’s Kitab al-Maghazi, edited by Rizwi Faizer, translated by Rizwi Faizer, Amal Ismail and Abdul Kader Tayob [Routledge Studies in Classical Islam, First edition 2011], page 485 and 499)

From the above report of al-Waqidi and the previous ones we analysed, critics have thus concluded that that the Byzantine’s (Romans) had no intention of attacking and killing Muslims.

This story by al-Waqidi is very problematic and it is in conflict with the many authentic reports that has reached us. We will show evidence of the many authentic reports after we have analysed Al-Waqidi as a reporter first:

Shaykh Saalih Al-Munajjid:

“Albani (may God have mercy on him) said: “This chain of narration is FABRICATED. This is either from one of two people. Muhammad bin Umar – and he is AL-WAQIDI – IS ACCUSED OF FABRICATION, as Ibn Hajar said in his book at-Taqrib: ‘He is abandoned, despite the depth of his knowledge.’ The verdicts of the scholars regarding him have preceded more than once.

The other person is Ibrahim bin Muhammad bin Abi Musa – and he is Ibn Abi Yahya – and his real name is: Sam’an Al-Aslami the freed man of Abu Ishaq al-Madani. He is ABANDONED (REJECTED) AS WELL JUST LIKE AL-WAQIDI or even worse. Ibn Hajar also said about him: ‘abandoned,’ and narrated in at-Taqrib the critical statements of the scholars regarding him, and they almost constitute absolute consensus on his dishonesty. From those statements is that of al-Harbi: ‘THE SCHOLARS OF PROPHETIC TRADITION LOATHE HIS NARRATIONS; AL-WAQIDI NARRATED ON HIS AUTHORITY THAT WHICH RESEMBLES FABRICATION, THOUGH AL-WAQIDI MADE THINGS WORSE.’

And al-Harbi’s statement regarding the chain itself: ‘Ibn Abi Musa – and I believe he is in actuality Ibn Abi Yahya, but his NAME WAS CHANGED INTENTIONALLY BY AL-WAQIDI AS HE HAS DONE WITH OTHERS …'” (Silsila al-Ahadith ad-Dai’fa wal-Maudu’a, volume 10, page 451)” (The Narration of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) Contemplation of Suicide is Inauthentic in Terms of Its Transmission and Textual Content, by Sheikh Saalih Al-Munajjid, online source)

 

The following quotes on al-Waqidi were taken from the following site.

Ahmad ibn Hanbal (780 – 855 AD):

HE (AL-WAQIDI) IS A LIAR, makes alternations in the traditions”. (al-Dhahabi, Mizan, volume 3, page 110)

al-Nasa’i (829 – 915 AD):

THE LIARS KNOWN FOR FABRICATING THE HADITH OF THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH are four. They are: Arba’ah b. Abi Yahya in Madinah, AL-WAQIDI in Baghdad, Muqatil b. Sulayman in Khurasan and Muhammad bin Sa’id in Syria.” (Ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani, Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, volume 9 page 366 No.604, [Hyderabad, 1326 A.H.cf. Yusuf ‘Abbas Hashmi, Zaynab bint Jahash, ‘Islamic Culture’ vol.XLI, No.1, Hyderabad (India), 1967])

al-Bukhari (810 – 870 AD):

AL-WAQIDI has been abandoned in Hadith. HE FABRICATES HADITH.” (al-Dhahabi, Mizan, volume 3 page 110)

Ishaq ibn Rahwiyah (777 – 852 AD):

“According to my view, he (al-Waqidi) is one of those who FABRICATE HADITH.” (Ibn Abi Hatim, volume 4 pt.1. page 21)

Abu Dawud (817 – 889 AD):

“I do not write his Hadith and I do not report (Hadith) on his authority. I have no doubt that HE (AL-WAQIDI) USED TO MAKE UP HADITH. (Ibn Hajr, Tahdhib, volume 9, page 366, No.604 cf. Hashmi)

Ali ibn Madyani (d. 241 A.H.):

He (al-Waqidi) fabricates Hadith.” (al-Dhahabi, Mizan, page 110)

As we have read, al-Waqidi is not someone who is reliable enough to accept information from. Even if we were to accept al-Waqidi as a reliable reporter, we have another problem, which is, this story goes against many authentic reports which has reached us, thus, this story claiming that the Prophet (p) marched out against Byzantine’s on hearsay is untrue.

Now we move on to the more important stuff i.e., showing the true authentic narrations on this particular incident. Before the Muslims moved out to engage the enemy we are told in these reports that the Muslims will be facing a big army ahead of them:

“I never remained behind Allah’s Messenger from any expedition which he undertook except the Battle of Tabuk and that of the Battle of Badr. … And this is my story of remaining back from Allah’s Messenger on the occasion of the Battle of TABUK. Never did I possess means enough and (my circumstances) more favourable than at the occasion of this expedition. And, by Allah, I had never before this expedition simultaneously in my possession two rides. Allah’s Messenger set out for this expedition in extremely hot season; the journey was long and the land (which he and his army had to cover) was waterless and HE HAD TO CONFRONT A LARGE ARMY, so he informed the Muslims about the actual situation (they had to face), so that they should adequately equip themselves for this expedition, and he also told them the destination where he intended to go. …” (Sahih Muslim Book 37, Hadith 6670)

And Riyad as-Salihin:

“…narrating the story of his remaining behind instead of joining Messenger of Allah when he left for the BATTLE OF TABUK. Ka’b said: “I accompanied Messenger of Allah in every expedition which he undertook excepting the battle of Tabuk and the battle of Badr. … And this is the account of my staying behind from the battle of TABUK. I never had better means and more favourable circumstances than at the time of this expedition. And by Allah, I had never before possessed two riding-camels as I did during the time of this expedition. Whenever Messenger of Allah decided to go on a campaign, he would not disclose his real destination till the last moment (of departure). But on this expedition, he set out in extremely hot weather; the journey was long and the terrain was waterless desert; and HE HAD TO FACE A STRONG ARMY, so he informed the Muslims about the actual position so that they should make full preparation for the campaign.” (Riyad as-Salihin Book 1, Hadith 21 (Eng. Tran.))

In relation to Tabuk, Ibn Sa’d (784 – 845 AD), in his book Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir states that (a report) it had reached Prophet Muhammed that the Byzantine (Romans) had “concentrated large forces”, and Heraclius had sent some his military to ‘Balqa’. This is was when the Muhammed (p) “summoned” his people to engage the enemy:

“They (narrators) saud: It (report) reached the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him, that the ROMANS HAD CONCENTRATED LARGE FORCES IN SYRIA had, that Heraclius had disbursed one year’s salary to his soldiers, and that tribes of Lakhm, Judham, ‘Amilah and Ghassan had joined hands with him. THEY SENT HAD SENT THEIR VANGUARDS TO AL-BALQA. THE MESSENGER Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him, SUMMONED THE PEOPLE TO MARCH. He set out and informed them about the place which he intended, so that they could make necessary preparations. He sent (messengers) to Makkah and to the tribes of Arabia (asking them) to send help. This took place in the days of intense heat.” (Ibn Sa’d, Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, (Eng. Trans.) volume 2, page 203 – 204)

Here is also the 9th Century historian Ahmad Ibn Yaḥya al-Baladhuri (D. 892 AD), he also reports to us in his book, ‘Kitab Futuh Al-Buldan’, in clear-cut words that the Prophet (p) learned that the Byzantine army “had assembled against him”:

“Tabuk make terms. When in the year 9 AH the Prophet marched to TABUK in Syria for the invasion of those of the Greeks, Amilah, Lakhm, Judham and others WHOM HE LEARNT HAD ASSEMBLED AGAINST HIM, he met no resistance. So he spent a few days in Tabuk, whose inhabitants made terms with him agreeing to pay poll-tax.” (Kitab Futuh Al-Buldan, by Ahmad Ibn Yahya al-Baladhuri (Eng. Tran.) volume 1, page 92)

In the version that is narrated by Mu’jam Tabarani (873 – 918 CE), he states that Christians said it is a “appropriate time to attack the Arabs” (Muslims):

“The Battle Of Tabuk
Rajab 9 A. H.
On the authority of Imran Ibn Husayn that the Christian Arabs wrote to Hercules, the King Of Rome that Muhammad passed away and that the people were dying because of the drought that they were experiencing. It was therefore a very appropriate TIME TO ATTACK THE ARABS (MUSLIMS). Hercules immediately issued the order for preparations. A fully equipped army of 40 000 was prepared.” (Mu’jam az-Zawa’id, volume 6, page 191) (Siratul Mustafa [Translated by Maulana Mahomed Mahomedy – Madrasah Arabia Islamia and Zam Zam Publishers – Fifth Authorized Edition, 2015] by Hadrat Maulana Idris Sahib Kandehlawi, volume 3, page 96)

Furthermore, we have also the famous Masjid al-Dirar incident in which it is reported to us the Byzantine with Abu Amir (a Christian monk) just before the expedition of Tabuk were themselves preparing to attack and kill Muslims. Abu Amir and the Byzantine leader’s main goal was to assassinate Prophet Muhammed (p) while he was praying in a mosque. All this happened just before Tabuk expiedtion. Here are some of these reports which are reported by the Mufassirun.

Ali ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi (d. 1075 AD), states the following:

“… The Banu ‘Amr ibn ‘Awf built a mosque at Quba’ and sent for the Messenger of Allah, to come to them. He went there and prayed in that mosque. Their brothers from the Banu Ghunm ibn ‘Awf envied them resentfully and said: ‘Let us built a mosque and send for the Messenger of Allah, to pray in it as he prayed in the mosque of our brothers, and let Abu ‘Amir al-Rahib (the monk) also pray in it when he comes back from Syria‘. This Abu ‘Amir had embraced Christianity and became a monk in the pre-Islamic period. But when the Messenger of Allah, moved to Medina, Abu ‘Amir rejected the religion of Islam and showed enmity toward it. The Prophet, called him then Abu ‘Amir al-Fasiq (the corrupt)… ABU AMIR LEFT FOR SYRIA AND THEN SENT A LETTER TO THE HYPOCRITES in which he wrote: ‘PREPARE YOURSELVES AND MAKE READY WHATEVER YOU CAN OF FORCE AND WEAPONS. Built a Mosque for me, for I AM GOING TO THE CAESAR TO REQUEST HIM TO SEND WITH ME BYZANTINE SOLDIERS SO THAT I DRIVE OUT MUHAMMAD AND HIS COMPANIONS‘. And so, they built for him a mosque by the Quba’ mosque. Those who built this mosque were 12 men … When they finished building this mosque, they went to the Messenger of Allah, and said: ‘We have built a mosque for the sick and the needy and also for use in rainy and wintry nights, and we would like you to come and pray in it’.” (Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi, last accessed 22nd November 2016: http://altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=86&tSoraNo=9&tAyahNo=107&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=2 )

Ibn Kathir (1301-1373 AD), also mentions that Abu Amir got the backing of Heraclius to launch an attack on the Muslim community:

“Masjid Ad-Dirar and Masjid At-Taqwa
The reason behind revealing these honorable Ayat is that before the Messenger of Allah migrated to Al-Madinah, there was a man from Al-Khazraj called “Abu `Amir Ar-Rahib (the Monk).” This man embraced Christianity before Islam and read the Scriptures. During the time of Jahiliyyah, Abu Amir was known for being a worshipper and being a notable person among Al-Khazraj. When the Messenger of Allah arrived at Al-Madinah after the Hijrah, the Muslims gathered around him and the word of Islam was triumphant on the day of Badr, causing Abu `Amir, the cursed one, to choke on his own saliva and announce his enmity to Islam. He fled from Al-Madinah to the idolators of Quraysh in Makkah to support them in the WAR AGAINST THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH. The Quraysh united their forces and the bedouins who joined them for the battle of Uhud, during which Allah tested the Muslims, but the good end is always for the pious and righteous people. The rebellious Abu Amir dug many holes in the ground between the two camps, into one of which the Messenger fell, injuring his face and breaking one of his right lower teeth. He also sustained a head injury. Before the fighting started, Abu Amir approached his people among the Ansar and tried to convince them to support and agree with him. When they recognized him, they said, “May Allah never burden an eye by seeing you, O Fasiq one, O enemy of Allah!” They cursed him and he went back declaring, “By Allah! Evil has touched my people after I left.” The Messenger of Allah called Abu Amir to Allah and recited the Qur’an to him before his flight to Makkah, but he refused to embrace Islam and REBELLED. The Messenger invoked Allah that Abu Amir die as an outcast in an alien land, and his invocation came true. After the battle of Uhud was finished, ABU AMIR realized that the Messenger’s call was still rising and gaining momentum, so HE WENT TO HERACLIUS, THE EMPEROR OF ROME, ASKING FOR HIS AID AGAINST THE PROPHET. HERACLIUS GAVE HIM PROMISES AND ABU AMIR REMAINED WITH HIM. He also wrote to several of his people in Al-Madinah, who embraced hypocrisy, promising and insinuating to them THAT HE WILL LEAD AN ARMY TO FIGHT THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH TO DEFEAT HIM AND HIS CALL. He ordered them to establish a stronghold where he could send his emissaries and to serve as an outpost when he joins them later on. These hypocrites built a Masjid next to the Masjid in Quba’, and they finished building it BEFORE the Messenger went to TABUK. They went to the Messenger inviting him to pray in their Masjid so that it would be a proof that the Messenger approved of their Masjid.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, last accessed 22nd November 2016: http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1590&Itemid=64 )

Tafsir al-Jalalayn:

“And, among them, those who have chosen a mosque — these were twelve men from among the hypocrites — by way of HARM, to cause distress for those of the mosque of Quba’, and disbelief, since they built it on the orders of the monk ABU ‘AMIR, as a sanctuary for him, so that whoever comes from his side may stay there: HE HAD GONE TO THE BYZANTINE EMPEROR (QAYSAR) TO BRING TROOPS TO FIGHT AGAINST THE PROPHET (s), and to cause division among the believers, who pray in the mosque of Quba’, by having some of these pray in their [the hypocrites’] mosque, and as an outpost, an observation post, for those who waged war against God and His Messenger before, that is, before it was built — meaning the above-mentioned Abu ‘Amir … They had asked the Prophet (s) to perform prayers in it, and so the following was revealed…” (Tafsir al-Jalalayn, last accessed 22nd November 2016: http://altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=74&tSoraNo=9&tAyahNo=107&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=2)

Respectable readers should also be aware that these incidents (above) were not the first time the Byzantine leader had engaged in war against the Muslims. When the Prophet Muhammed (p) sent one of his messenger’s with a letter to the King of Busra, he was intercepted by Shurabbil Ibn Amr al-Ghassani and his men, they executed Muhammed’s messenger on the spot, and those who were with him. These ruthless men executed Muhammed’s men without even reading what was contained in the letter. This incident was one of the reasons which led to the battle of Mut’ah (Mutah): “The Battle Of Mu’tah (Mutah)

Therefore, when some of these critic(s) claim that the Hiraclius and his men did not muster troops against the Muslims, this cannot be not true when we have concrete evidence on this incident that the Byzantine’s all along was planning to attack the Muslims, as the overwhelming evidence has shown.

In conclusion,

We have established to our respectable readers that the claim made in regards to the Tabuk expedition being undertaken as a result of hearsay and rumors is not true:

(1) – The few authentic reports wherein the Muslims heard stories that the Byzantines will attack them, an impending army was on its way, they did not in turn get ready to retaliate:

(2) – The reason for the Muslims not taking the opportunity to attack the Byzantine was as a result of them first wanting to confirm the stories before taking any steps forward.

(3) – The Muslims did not find these stories to be 100% confirmed at the time, hence they were left to deal with some of the issues in the Prophet’s house.

(4) – As shown in the authentic reports, the companions (Sahaba) were being more worried in relation to some of the issues of the Prophet’s personal life, here it shows that they did not take the stories on the Byzantine as truthful at the time, for if they did take the story as being genuine at the time they would have set out immediately to engage the Byzantine’s (romans). But they did not, this shows that the Muslims were waiting for official confirmation before taking any steps forward.

(5) – Al-waqidi is described as being a “liar” and a rejected individual, especially when his story is clearly in conflict with the many authentic reports.

(6) The authentic reports and tafsirs shown tell us the true and authentic version of this incident of Tabuk. The Byzantine’s (Romans) did indeed march southwards intending to attack, kill and overthrow the Muslim government. When the Byzantine’s received news that the Prophet (p) and his people came to engage them, this was when Byzantine soldiers fled away and abandoned their devilish plans.

The Muslims were not the ones who antagonised nor were they the aggressors, as the true historical sources have told us, the Byzantines were the warmongers who intended to harm the Prophet and his people. No alternative was left at the table for Prophet Muhammed (p) but to take action to save his community from harm.

If God wills, we should write few more articles on this incident soon.

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