Tag Archives: Muawiya

Did Islam Spread by Sword??

[By brother Firas Alkhateeb]

It’s a common accusation made against Muslims and Islam in general: “The only reason Islam is a world religion is because it spread by the sword.” It’s a favorite remark of Islamophobes who parade as analysts and historians fear-mongering about the threat Islam supposedly poses to the Western World. With it being such a hot topic that causes so much debate, it is appropriate to analyze and study this topic to better understand whether it is valid or not.

Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Persia – The First Conquests

After the life of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallaahu alaihi wasallam), Islamic expansion truly began in the early 630s, AD. Campaigns against the Byzantine and Sassanid (Persian) Empires were initiated which pitted this new religion of Islam, with its desert Arabian warriors against the established and ancient empires centered in Constantinople and Ctesiphon.

Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu anhu), the first caliph of Islam, gave these armies rules which would seem very constricting by today’s standards of warfare:

“Stop, O people, that I may give you ten rules for your guidance in the battlefield. Do not commit treachery or deviate from the right path. You must not mutilate dead bodies. Neither kill a child, nor a woman, nor an aged man. Bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire, especially those which are fruitful. Slay not any of the enemy’s flock, save for your food. You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone.”¹

These rules were very unique and innovative for the time. Just before this Muslim expansion, the Persians and Byzantines had fought a decades-long war that left lands from Syria to Iraq in ruins. Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu anhu) made it clear that Muslim armies do not operate by the same principles and restrict their fights to the armies and governments of the enemy, not the general populace. Islamic Shari’ah law, based on the example of Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu anhu), clearly forbids the use of force against anyone except in legitimate cases of war against a clearly defined enemy.*

The purpose of this article is not to delve into the tactics and individual battles of this conquest of Egypt, Syria and Iraq. It is enough for our purposes here to state that Syria was under Muslim control by 638, Egypt by 642, and Iraq/Persia by 644. The Byzantine Empire, having lost its religious base in Syria, as well as its commercial base in Egypt was greatly weakened. The Sassanid Empire, on the other hand, completely ceased to exist after the Muslim conquest. Politically, it was a disaster for these two giant empires. But, going back to the main idea of this article, how did Islam as a religion spread in the conquered areas??

Unequivocally, the general populace was not forced or induced to convert to Islam. If anything, they were encouraged to continue living their lives as they had for centuries before. In the example of the conquest of Jerusalem , the caliph at the time, Umar ibn al-Khattab (radhiyallahu anhu), wrote in the surrender treaty with the patriarchs of city:

He [Umar] has given them an assurance of safety for themselves, for their property, their churches, their crosses, the sick and healthy of the city…Their churches will not be inhabited by Muslims and will not be destroyed… They will not be forcibly converted.²


The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which Umar promised to protect when the city came under Muslim control

No other empire or state at the time had such ideas about religious tolerance. Umar (radhiyallahu anhu), being a companion of the Prophet, sets a precedent in this treaty about the treatment of conquered peoples in Islamic law. The rest of the conquered lands, in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Persia had similar treaties. Whether the citizens of the conquered lands were Christian, Jew, Sabians, or Zoroastrians, they were allowed to keep their religious traditions. There exists not one example of forced conversion in these early conquests.

Proof of the lack of forced conversion in these areas is the remaining Christian communities in these countries. For the first few centuries after the Muslim conquest, the majority of the population of these areas remained Christian. Slowly, they began to take on Islam as their religion and Arabic as their language. Today, large percentages of Christians remain in Egypt (9%), Syria (10%), Lebanon (39%), and Iraq (3%). If those early Muslim conquests (or even later Muslim rulers) forced conversion on anyone, there would be no Christian communities in those countries. Their existence is proof of Islam not spreading by the sword in these areas.

North Africa and Spain

The soldiers and leaders of these early conquests in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Persia were from the first generation of Muslims. Many of them were even companions of the Prophet. What would happen as Muslim expansion continued in later generations, as Muslim armies fought the Byzantines further West, in North Africa and later, in Spain??

The majority of the population of the North African coast in the 600s were Berbers. While the Byzantine Empire controlled most of the coast from Egypt to Algeria, the people of those areas were generally not loyal to the Byzantines who had great trouble trying to subdue the region. Political and social upheaval in the century before Islam led to a devastated region, which was probably just a shell of its former glory as a Roman province.

The first Umayyad caliph, Muawiya (radhiyallahu anhu), appointed a general, Uqba bin Nafi (radhiyallahu anhu), to conquer the North African coast from the Byzantines in the 660s.

Again, without getting into the details of the tactics and battles, within the course of a few decades, Muslim control over North Africa was solidified.

The same pattern we saw in Southwest Asia continued in North Africa. Conversions were not forced on any of the local populations. No accounts, by either Muslim or non-Muslim sources, mention forced conversion of the Berbers. Indeed, many Berbers did convert to Islam quite quickly. That strengthened the Muslim armies, as huge numbers of newly-converted Berbers would join the armies sweeping across the continent. Had these Berbers been forced to convert, they certainly would not have had the zeal and enthusiasm for Islam that would cause them to join the armies and spread Islamic political control even further against the Byzantines.

After the Muslim conquest of North Africa, came a proposal that would prove to change world history forever. In the early 700s, the Iberian Peninsula (present-day Spain and Portugal) was under the control of the Visigothic King Roderic. A nobleman from Iberia sent to the Muslim governor of North Africa, complaining about the oppressive and tyranical rule of Roderic. The nobleman promised to support a Muslim invasion against Roderic with his own troops if they intervened.

The Rock of Gibraltar, where Tariq ibn Ziyad’s army landed in their pursuit of Roderic, with a modern mosque in the foreground

After a few preliminary raids to gauge the local populations’ support for such an intervention, the Muslim general Tariq ibn Ziyad (rahimahullah) (who may possibly have been Berber himself), ferried an army across from Morocco to Iberia in 711. Within months, Tariq’s army had defeated King Roderic and opened up the country to Muslim control. Within 3 years, the entire Iberian Peninsula was under Muslim control. Many cities, hearing of the justice of Muslim rule, voluntarily opened their doors and welcomed Muslim armies, who ended what they saw as the oppressive rule of the Visigoths.

More documentary evidence survives from this conquest proving that the conquest did not mean forced conversion. In April 713, a Muslim governor in the region negotiated a treaty with a Visigothic noble, which included the provision that the local people “will not be killed or taken prisoner. Nor will they be separated from their women and children. They will not be coerced in matters of religion, their churches will not be burned.”³

We see again in the example of Muslim Spain (which would later be called al-Andalus) that the locals (mostly Christians, although a sizable Jewish population also existed) were not forced to convert to Islam. In fact, in later centuries, an almost utopian society of religious tolerance existed in al-Andalus, in which Muslims, Jews, and Christians all experienced a golden age of knowledge, culture, and philosophy. This enlightened land of religious tolerance would end centuries later with the Christian Reconquista which effectively ethnically cleansed Muslims and Jews from the entire peninsula.

The Indian Subcontinent

Today, two of the most populous Muslim countries in the world, Pakistan (2rd most Muslims), and India (3rd most Muslims), occupy the Indian subcontinent. Islam has had an incredible and lasting impact on the region in all aspects of life. However, even through centuries of Muslim rule by different empires and dynasties, Hinduism and other religions remain as important aspects of the subcontinent.

The reasons for Muslim invasion into the subcontinent were justified by the time period’s rules of warfare. A ship filled with daughters of Muslim traders who were trading in Sri Lanka was attacked by pirates from Sindh (what is now Pakistan) who captured and enslaved the women. Seeking to liberate the women and punish the pirates, an expedition was sent out in 710, led by Muhammad bin Qasim, an Arab from the city of Ta’if.

Bin Qasim’s military expedition into this distant and remote land was made successful by very important social issues in India.

The caste system, which originated from Hindu belief, divided society up into very strictly controlled social classes. Those on top led wealthy, comfortable lives, while those on the bottom (particularly untouchables) were seen as the scourge of society. Added to this were the Buddhists, who were generally oppressed by the Hindu princes throughout the country.

With the entrance of Muslim armies, which carried with them the promise of an equal society, many Buddhists and lower castes welcomed the Muslim armies. In fact, the first Muslims of Indian origin were probably from the lower castes, as Islam offered them an escape from the oppressive social system they were accustomed to.

With the conquest of Sindh, Muhammad bin Qasim showed that Islamic law’s protection of religious minorities was not just for Christians and Jews.

Buddhists and Hindus in the subcontinent were given religious freedom and were not forced to convert. In one case, a Buddhist community complained to bin Qasim of their fear that the Muslim armies would force Islam upon them and they would have to leave the practices of their ancestors. Bin Qasim held a meeting with the Buddhist and Hindu leaders of the town, and promised them religious freedom and asked them to continue leading their lives as they had previously.


We now come back to the question posed at the beginning of the article: did Islam spread by the sword? While numerous people with political and religious agendas make their case otherwise, it is seen as a clear and indisputable fact that the religion of Islam was not spread through violence, coercion, fear, or bloodshed. There exist no accounts of people being forced to convert to Islam under any circumstances. While the political and military control of Muslim leaders did in fact spread through defensive warfare, Muslim leaders and generals in fact went out of their way to protect the rights of other religious groups. The warfare was always carried out only against the governments and armies that the Muslims were at war with. The local citizens were left alone. Although this article only gives specific examples of a few regions, this trend continued throughout Islamic history, following the precedent of the early Muslims.

It is important to note that these are some of the first examples in history of religious tolerance. While religious tolerance and freedom are first seen in “Western” civilization in the Enlightenment of the 1600s and 1700s, Muslims have practiced religious freedom since the 600s AD. The arguments made by some political and historical “pundits” about Islamic belief spreading violently and through warfare clearly have no historical basis. In fact, Muslim religious toleration has influenced the historical tradition of such ideas in lands as diverse as Europe, the Americans and India.


* By extension, modern day terrorism clearly goes against Islamic law.

1-  Aboul-Enein, H. Yousuf and Zuhur, Sherifa, Islamic Rulings on Warfare , p. 22, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, Diane Publishing Co., Darby PA

2- Kennedy, H. (2007). The Great Arab Conquests: How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live In. Philadelphia: Da Capo Press. pg.91

3- Kennedy, H. (2007). The Great Arab Conquests: How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live In.  Philadelphia: Da Capo Press. pg.315


Aboul-Enein, H. Yousuf and Zuhur, Sherifa, Islamic Rulings on Warfare , p. 22, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, Diane Publishing Co., Darby PA

CIA World Factbook

Kennedy, H. (2007). The Great Arab Conquests: How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live In.  Philadelphia: Da Capo Press.

Ochsenwald, W., & Fisher, S. (2003). The Middle East: A History . (6th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Muslims in The Maghrib & Spain from 711-1492

As Islam started spreading rapidly from the Arabian Peninsula, the Mujahideen opened up many lands to the
Dawa , (or call/preaching), of Islam on the foundation of
tawheed . Amr Ibn Al Aas was one of the many Sahaba , (companions of the Prophet, Peace and Blessings Upon Him), and Mujahids that were involved in these expeditions. He opened, ( Fataha ), Egypt in 641 CE and set up the city of Fustat as a launch pad for further expansion of the Islamic Dawa into Africa. Muslim Expeditions reached further into Africa until they reached Qayrowan in Ifriqiya, (Present day Tunisia), led by the nephew of Amr Bin Al Aas, the Ummayad General Uqba Ibn Naafi (radhiyallahu anhu).

Subsequently Qayrowan replaced Fustat in 671 CE as a launch pad for further Muslim expedition in Africa and Southern Europe.
At around this time in Dimashq, (Damascus), The Ummayads were trying to strategize how best to take Constantinople, (Istanbul), due to it being the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, (or Byzantium, or ‘Rum’), and in an attempt to attain the blessed status promised to the one who opens Constantinople:

ﻋﻦ ﻋﺒﺪﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﺑﻦ ﺑﺸﺮ ﺍﻟﻐﻨﻮﻱ ﻋﻦ ﺃﺑﻴﻪ ﺃﻧﻪ ﺳﻤﻊ ﺍﻟﻨﺒﻲ ﺻﻠﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭﺳﻠﻢ ﻳﻘﻮﻝ :
ﻟﺘﻔﺘﺤﻦ ﺍﻟﻘﺴﻄﻨﻄﻴﻨﻴﺔ , ﻓﻠﻨﻌﻢ ﺍﻷﻣﻴﺮ ﺃﻣﻴﺮﻫﺎ , ﻭﻟﻨﻌﻢ ﺍﻟﺠﻴﺶ ﺫﻟﻚ ﺍﻟﺠﻲ

Abdullah Bin Bashr Al Ghanawi narrates that his father heard the Prophet ( ﺻﻠَّﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭﺳﻠَّﻢ ), say:

“Verily you shall conquer Constantinople. What a wonderful leader will her leader be, and what a wonderful army will that army be!”

The father of the Governor of Bani Ummaya in Qayrawan, Musa Bin Nusayr, had advised the Khalifa Muawiya ( ﺭﺿﻲ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻨﻪ ) that the only way to take Constantinople was from the south, (through Anatolia) and north, (up through Spain, France, Italy, Romania and Hungary) and so Musa was commissioned to begin the invasion of Europe to reach Constantinople. It was a move that harked of the strategy of the Carthaginian General Hannibal, (and some historians say deliberately so on the part of Musa Bin Nusayr’s father, in that he was aware of Hannibal’s strategy), and his strategy to attack Rome by attacking, first, the Roman province of Hispania, (Spain), and then crossing the Pyrenees and working his way down the Italian Peninsula to attack Rome. Albeit, in Hannibal’s case, Scipio Africanus got the better of his forces for a variety of reasons, (leading to the end of the already crippled Carathaginian Empire [2] in the Third Punic War at the hands of another Scipio, Scipio Aemilianus Africanus in 146 BC), the Khalifa Muawiya believed the tactic could work and so ordered Musa to be groomed to go to Spain. However due to delays and a civil war [3] between Muslims, the plan was delayed.



Spain was, at that time ruled by the Visigoths [4] and Musa hadn’t decided to proceed with a full scale land invasion until an opportunity presented itself when the Governnor of Ceuta, Count Julian, came to Musa Bin Nusayr for assistance in avenging him of King Roderic’s [5] , (The then King of the Visigoths), terrible treatment of the people and for the abduction and rape of his daughter, and hence take him out of power. Muslims took control under the leadership of Tariq Ibn Ziyad and his army of 7,000 troops. Julian provided guides and intelligence on the lay of the land and hence began the invasion.

In 710 CE, as a preliminary intelligence collection mission,
[6] Tareef Ibn Malik, (a Berber Commander under Musa Bin Nusair), was sent to recon the southern coastline of Andalus, with the help of Julian, (Governor of Ceuta under the Visigoths), in order to gauge enemy capabilities and to designate a suitable landing spot for a subsequent larger raiding force to remove Roderic. The recon and subsequent test raid was successful and, after Musa got word of the mission’s success, decided to go forward with a full scale land raid into Andalus. At this very moment, there was a fracturious civil war underway in the Visigothic Kingdom, weakening army morale, reducing coordination of their forces and leaving them off-guard for a possible Muslim raid.

In 711 CE Tariq Bin Ziyad landed 7,000 fighters at Jabal Tariq, (Gibralter), to begin the invasion of Spain through a continuous northward thrust of raids deeper and deeper into Visigothic territory. After a series of raids in enemy territory a decisive engagement took place at the Battle of Guadalete, [7] Tariq ibn Ziyad defeated King Roderic, the last Visigothic ruler of Hispania, at the Guadalete River in the south of the Iberian Peninsula.

Tariq went on to take Tulaytula, while a detachment under Mugeyth Al-Rumi took Qurtuba. Due to internal strife within the Visigoth kingdom and the discipline of the Mujahideen, the Muslim army easily defeated Roderic’s army of over 20,000 men almost without resistance.
The Islamic armies established control of Andalus as a
Wilayat , (province/governorate), under the Ummayad Khilafa with the capital initially being in Ishbiliyyah, (Seville), while Islamic law was established with the Christians and Jews being given their rights as Ahl Al-Dhimma [8] . At the same time, without wasting a moment, detachments of mujahideen and their commanders fanned out across the peninsula to put down the revolts of the seditious local Christians and continued to push northwards to liberate further Christian territory reaching all the way to Tours in 732 CE wherein they encountered Charles Martel and his armies. Under the command of then Governor of Andalus, Abdul Rahmān Al Ghafiqi faced off against the Franks [9] under Martel at Tours, (which Martel decided due to his familiarity with the terrain), with 60,000 mujahideen, versus Martel’s 30,000 troops. Abdul Rahmān assumed these were just one of the many numerous rebellious barbarian tribes that had ravaged the Romans, (i.e. ragtag and without troop discipline, preferring to overwhelm the enemy without recourse to any particularly clever strategy), and that Martel was just one of the many tribal leaders that were not particularly motivated, and would either flee or negotiate after a few skirmishes. However, he was proven wrong, as Martel executed a victory by using the land to his advantage by employing a phalanx[10] formation and fighting downhill, (to negate cavalry charges that would have to charge uphill). Notably, Martel fought without cavalry, (i.e. horses), which would be the equivalent of a modern national army going into battle with only infantry, (i.e. no planes, tanks, trucks, or satellites). Moreover, a rumor spread during the battle that Martel’s men had snuck into the Muslim camp to steal the ghaneema (booty/spoils). As soon as the call went out, the mujahideen raced to rear camp to defend their apparently besieged
ghaneema while leaving this commander and a few detachments exposed to Frankish attacks, (in a replay of the Battle of Uhud [11] all over again), leading to the death of Abd Al Rahmān .

His army routed the Muslim army with many mujahideen and, their commander, Abd Al Rahmān Ghafiqi attaining
Shahada, that most loftiest of stations [12] . Losses upon the Muslim army were estimated to be approximately 10,000. In the aftermath, disunity on part of the Muslim army destroyed any chance of a real counterattack which could have stolen victory from the jaws of defeat, in that, the commanders in the Mujahideen camp could not decide on whom to nominate to lead them and fell into dispute. All the while, Martel capitalized on this and continued bringing the fight to the mujahideen. On this point, the Quranic viewpoint has to be examined, (and it is important in spite of the fact, this is supposed to be a brief introduction to the topic of Muslims after the fall of Andalus), along with the strategic military shortfalls as well. Allah ( ﺳﺒﺤﺎﻧﻪ ﻭ ﺗﻌﻠﻰ ) says:

ﻭَﻟَﻘَﺪْ ﺻَﺪَﻗَﻜُﻢُ ﺍﻟﻠَّﻪُ ﻭَﻋْﺪَﻩُ ﺇِﺫْ ﺗَﺤُﺴُّﻮﻧَﻬُﻢْ ﺑِﺈِﺫْﻧِﻪِ ﺣَﺘَّﻰ ﺇِﺫَﺍ ﻓَﺸِﻠْﺘُﻢْ ﻭَﺗَﻨَـﺰَﻋْﺘُﻢْ ﻓِﻰ ﺍﻻٌّﻣْﺮِ ﻭَﻋَﺼَﻴْﺘُﻢْ ﻣِّﻦ ﺑَﻌْﺪِ ﻣَﺂ ﺃَﺭَﺍﻛُﻢْ ﻣَّﺎ ﺗُﺤِﺒُّﻮﻥَ ﻣِﻨﻜُﻢ ﻣَّﻦ ﻳُﺮِﻳﺪُ ﺍﻟﺪُّﻧْﻴَﺎ ﻭَﻣِﻨﻜُﻢ ﻣَّﻦ ﻳُﺮِﻳﺪُ ﺍﻻٌّﺧِﺮَﺓَ ﺛُﻢَّ ﺻَﺮَﻓَﻜُﻢْ ﻋَﻨْﻬُﻢْ ﻟِﻴَﺒْﺘَﻠِﻴَﻜُﻢْ ﻭَﻟَﻘَﺪْ ﻋَﻔَﺎ ﻋَﻨْﻜُﻢْ ﻭَﺍﻟﻠَّﻪُ ﺫُﻭ ﻓَﻀْﻞٍ ﻋَﻠَﻰ ﺍﻟْﻤُﺆْﻣِﻨِﻴﻦَ – ﺇِﺫْ ﺗُﺼْﻌِﺪُﻭﻥَ ﻭَﻻَ ﺗَﻠْﻮُﻭﻥَ ﻋَﻠَﻰ ﺃﺣَﺪٍ ﻭَﺍﻟﺮَّﺳُﻮﻝُ ﻳَﺪْﻋُﻮﻛُﻢْ ﻓِﻰ ﺃُﺧْﺮَﺍﻛُﻢْ ﻓَﺄَﺛَـﺒَﻜُﻢْ ﻏَﻤّﺎً ﺑِﻐَﻢٍّ ﻟِّﻜَﻴْﻼَ ﺗَﺤْﺰَﻧُﻮﺍْ ﻋَﻠَﻰ ﻣَﺎ ﻓَﺎﺗَﻜُﻢْ ﻭَﻻَ ﻣَﺂ ﺃَﺻَـﺒَﻜُﻢْ ﻭَﺍﻟﻠَّﻪُ ﺧَﺒِﻴﺮٌ ﺑِﻤَﺎ ﺗَﻌْﻤَﻠُﻮﻥ 13

And Allah did indeed fulfill His promise to you when you were killing them (your enemy) with His permission; until Fashiltum [14] and fell to disputing about the order, and disobeyed after He showed you what you love. Among you are some that desire this world and some that desire the Hereafter. Then He made you flee from them, that He might test you. But surely, He forgave you, and Allah is Most Gracious to the believers.

(And remember) when you ran away without even casting a side glance at anyone, and the Messenger was in your rear calling you back. There did Allah give you one distress after another by way of requital, to teach you not to grieve for that which had escaped you, nor for what struck you. And Allah is Well-Aware of all that you do.

Ibn Kathir States in these verses, (regarding The Battle of Uhud), about how the Archers on the peak of Uhud disobeyed the orders of Prophet ( ﺻﻠَّﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭﺳﻠَّﻢ ), with the desire to to not miss out on attaining Ghaneema from the apparently defeated Makkan coalition.

He states:
This Ayah means, Allah gave them the upper hand to try and test you, O believers…He forgave the error you committed, because, and Allah knows best, the idolators were many and well supplied, while Muslims had few men and few supplies.

Al-Bukhari recorded that Al-Bara’ radhiyallahu anhu said, “We met the idolators on that day (Uhud) and the Prophet appointed ‘Abdullah bin Jubayr as the commander of the archers. He instructed them, ‘Retain your position, and if you see that we have defeated them, do not abandon your positions. If you see that they defeated us, do not rush to help us.’ The disbelievers gave flight when we met them, and we saw their women fleeing up the mountain while lifting up their clothes revealing their anklets and their legs. So, the companions (of ‘Abdullah bin Jubayr) said, ‘The booty, the booty!’ ‘Abdullah bin Jubayr said, ‘Allah’s Messenger commanded me not to allow you to abandon your position.’ They refused to listen, and when they left their position, Muslims were defeated and seventy of them were killed. Abu Sufyan shouted, ‘Is Muhammad present among these people’ The Prophet said, ‘Do not answer him.’ Then he asked, ‘Is the son of Abu Quhafah (Abu Bakr) present among these people’ The Prophet said, ‘Do not answer him.’ He asked again, ‘Is the son of Al-Khattab (‘Umar) present among these people As for these (men), they have been killed, for had they been alive, they would have answered me.’ ‘Umar could not control himself and said (to Abu Sufyan), ‘You lie, O enemy of Allah! The cause of your misery is still present.’ Abu Sufyan said, ‘O Hubal, be high!’ On that the Prophet said (to his Companions), ‘Answer him back.’ They said, ‘What shall we say’ He said, ‘Say, Allah is Higher and more Sublime.’ Abu Sufyan said, ‘We have the (idol) Al-‘Uzza, and you have no ‘Uzza.’ The Prophet said, ‘Answer him back.’ They asked, ‘What shall we say’ He said, ‘Say, Allah is our protector and you have no protector.’ Abu Sufyan said, ‘Our victory today is vengeance for yours in the battle of Badr, and in war (the victory) is always undecided and is shared in turns by the belligerents. You will find some of your killed men mutilated, but I did not urge my men to do so, yet I do not feel sorry for their deed.’ [15]

”Only Al-Bukhari collected this Hadith using this chain of narration. Muhammad bin Ishaq said that, ‘Abdullah bin Az-Zubayr narrated that Az-Zubayr bin Al-‘Awwam said, “By Allah! I saw the female servants and female companions of Hind (Abu Sufyan’s wife) when they uncovered their legs and gave flight. At that time, there was no big or small effort separating us from capturing them. However, the archers went down the mount when the enemy gave flight from the battlefield, seeking to collect the booty. They uncovered our back lines to the horsemen of the disbelievers, who took the chance and attacked us from behind. Then a person shouted, ‘Muhammad has been killed.’ So we pulled back, and the disbelievers followed us, after we had killed those who carried their flag, and none of them dared to come close the flag, until then.”’ Muhammad bin Ishaq said next, “The flag of the disbelievers was left on the ground until ‘Amrah bint ‘Alqamah Al-Harithiyyah picked it up and gave it to the Quraysh who held it.” [16]

Allah said,

﴿ ﺛُﻢَّ ﺻَﺮَﻓَﻜُﻢْ ﻋَﻨْﻬُﻢْ ﻟِﻴَﺒْﺘَﻠِﻴَﻜُﻢْ ﴾
Then He made you flee from them, that He might test you… [17]

…Allah said,

ﻟِّﻜَﻴْﻼَ ﺗَﺤْﺰَﻧُﻮﺍْ ﻋَﻠَﻰ ﻣَﺎ ﻓَﺎﺗَﻜُﻢْ
by way of requital to teach you not to grieve for that which had escaped you, for that you missed the booty and triumph over your enemy…

Imam Ibn Kathir rahimahullah Continues:

ﺛُﻢَّ ﺃَﻧﺰَﻝَ ﻋَﻠَﻴْﻜُﻢْ ﻣِّﻦ ﺑَﻌْﺪِ ﺍﻟْﻐَﻢِّ ﺃَﻣَﻨَﺔً ﻧُّﻌَﺎﺳﺎً ﻳَﻐْﺸَﻰ ﻃَﺂﺋِﻔَﺔً ﻣِّﻨْﻜُﻢْ ﻭَﻃَﺂﺋِﻔَﺔٌ ﻗَﺪْ ﺃَﻫَﻤَّﺘْﻬُﻢْ ﺃَﻧْﻔُﺴُﻬُﻢْ ﻳَﻈُﻨُّﻮﻥَ ﺑِﺎﻟﻠَّﻪِ ﻏَﻴْﺮَ ﺍﻟْﺤَﻖِّ ﻇَﻦَّ ﺍﻟْﺠَـﻬِﻠِﻴَّﺔِ ﻳَﻘُﻮﻟُﻮﻥَ ﻫَﻞ ﻟَّﻨَﺎ ﻣِﻦَ ﺍﻻٌّﻣْﺮِ ﻣِﻦ ﺷَﻰْﺀٍ ﻗُﻞْ ﺇِﻥَّ ﺍﻻٌّﻣْﺮَ ﻛُﻠَّﻪُ ﻟﻠَّﻪِ ﻳُﺨْﻔُﻮﻥَ ﻓِﻰ ﺃَﻧْﻔُﺴِﻬِﻢ ﻣَّﺎ ﻻَ ﻳُﺒْﺪُﻭﻥَ ﻟَﻚَ ﻳَﻘُﻮﻟُﻮﻥَ ﻟَﻮْ ﻛَﺎﻥَ ﻟَﻨَﺎ ﻣِﻦَ ﺍﻻٌّﻣْﺮِ ﺷَﻰْﺀٌ ﻣَّﺎ ﻗُﺘِﻠْﻨَﺎ ﻫَـﻬُﻨَﺎ ﻗُﻞ ﻟَّﻮْ ﻛُﻨﺘُﻢْ ﻓِﻰ ﺑُﻴُﻮﺗِﻜُﻢْ ﻟَﺒَﺮَﺯَ ﺍﻟَّﺬِﻳﻦَ ﻛُﺘِﺐَ ﻋَﻠَﻴْﻬِﻢُ ﺍﻟْﻘَﺘْﻞُ ﺇِﻟَﻰ ﻣَﻀَﺎﺟِﻌِﻬِﻢْ ﻭَﻟِﻴَﺒْﺘَﻠِﻰَ ﺍﻟﻠَّﻪُ ﻣَﺎ ﻓِﻰ ﺻُﺪُﻭﺭِﻛُﻢْ ﻭَﻟِﻴُﻤَﺤِّﺺَ ﻣَﺎ ﻓِﻰ ﻗُﻠُﻮﺑِﻜُﻢْ ﻭَﺍﻟﻠَّﻪُ ﻋَﻠِﻴﻢٌ ﺑِﺬَﺍﺕِ ﺍﻟﺼُّﺪُﻭﺭِ – ﺇِﻥَّ ﺍﻟَّﺬِﻳﻦَ ﺗَﻮَﻟَّﻮْﺍْ ﻣِﻨﻜُﻢْ ﻳَﻮْﻡَ ﺍﻟْﺘَﻘَﻰ ﺍﻟْﺠَﻤْﻌَﺎﻥِ ﺇِﻧَّﻤَﺎ ﺍﺳْﺘَﺰَﻟَّﻬُﻢُ ﺍﻟﺸَّﻴْﻄَـﻦُ ﺑِﺒَﻌْﺾِ ﻣَﺎ ﻛَﺴَﺒُﻮﺍْ ﻭَﻟَﻘَﺪْ ﻋَﻔَﺎ ﺍﻟﻠَّﻪُ ﻋَﻨْﻬُﻢْ ﺇِﻥَّ ﺍﻟﻠَّﻪَ ﻏَﻔُﻮﺭٌ ﺣَﻠِﻴﻢ 18

Then after the distress, He sent down security for you. Slumber overtook a party of you, while another party was thinking about themselves and thought wrongly of Allah — the thought of ignorance. They said, “Have we any part in the affair” Say: “Indeed the affair belongs wholly to Allah.” They hide within themselves what they dare not reveal to you, saying: “If we had anything to do with the affair, none of us would have been killed here.” Say: “Even if you had remained in your homes, those for whom death was decreed would certainly have gone forth to the place of their death,”
but that Allah might test what is in your breasts; and to purify that which was in your hearts (sins), and Allah is All-Knower of what is in the breasts.
Those of you who turned back on the day the two hosts met, Shaytan only caused them to err because of some of what they had earned. But Allah, indeed, has forgiven them. Surely, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Forbearing.
The second group mentioned in the Ayah were the hypocrites who only thought about themselves, for they are the most cowardly people and those least likely to support the truth…

ﻭَﻃَﺂﺋِﻔَﺔٌ ﻗَﺪْ ﺃَﻫَﻤَّﺘْﻬُﻢْ ﺃَﻧْﻔُﺴُﻬُﻢْ

While another party was thinking about themselves,” and they were not overcome by slumber because of their worry, fright and fear…
Similarly, Allah said in another statement,

ﺑَﻞْ ﻇَﻨَﻨْﺘُﻢْ ﺃَﻥ ﻟَّﻦ ﻳَﻨﻘَﻠِﺐَ ﺍﻟﺮَّﺳُﻮﻝُ ﻭَﺍﻟْﻤُﺆْﻣِﻨُﻮﻥَ ﺇِﻟَﻰ ﺃَﻫْﻠِﻴﻬِﻢْ ﺃَﺑَﺪﺍً

“Nay, but you thought that the Messenger and the believers would never return to their families” [19] .

This group thought that the idolators achieved ultimate victory, when their forces took the upper hand in battle, and that Islam and its people would perish. This is typical of people of doubt and hesitation, in the event of a hardship, they fall into such evil thoughts…

…Allah the Exalted said,

ﻗُﻞ ﻟَّﻮْ ﻛُﻨﺘُﻢْ ﻓِﻰ ﺑُﻴُﻮﺗِﻜُﻢْ ﻟَﺒَﺮَﺯَ ﺍﻟَّﺬِﻳﻦَ ﻛُﺘِﺐَ ﻋَﻠَﻴْﻬِﻢُ ﺍﻟْﻘَﺘْﻞُ ﺇِﻟَﻰ ﻣَﻀَﺎﺟِﻌِﻬِﻢْ

“Say: “Even if you had remained in your homes, those for whom death was decreed would certainly have gone forth to the place of their death,”

Meaning, this is Allah’s appointed destiny and a decision that will certainly come to pass, and there is no escaping it. Allah’s statement,

ﻭَﻟِﻴَﺒْﺘَﻠِﻰَ ﺍﻟﻠَّﻪُ ﻣَﺎ ﻓِﻰ ﺻُﺪُﻭﺭِﻛُﻢْ ﻭَﻟِﻴُﻤَﺤِّﺺَ ﻣَﺎ ﻓِﻰ ﻗُﻠُﻮﺑِﻜُﻢْ

“That Allah might test what is in your breasts; and to purify that which was in your hearts,” means, so that He tests you with whatever befell you, to distinguish good from evil and the deeds and statements of the believers from those of the hypocrites…

After that lengthy explanation by Imam Ibn Kathir rahimahullah, the point to drive home is that at Uhud, what destroyed the battle strategy was a combination of indiscipline, disobeying orders, (and at that, the Prophet ( ﺻﻠَّﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭﺳﻠَّﻢ ) orders), their fear of the enemy and dying, weak iman and greed for Ghaneema . All of these factors slot almost identically into the loss at Tours.

Strategically speaking, the battle preperations by the Muslim army were too hasty to say the least, and their reconnaissance of Martel’s troop numbers and capabilities were poor and based more on bravado than on old-fashioned reconnaissance and intelligence. Secondly, Abd Al-Rahmān’s army made the massive mistake of allowing the native enemy to choose the battlefield, which was disastrous in this case, as Martel lured the mujahideen in a battlefield where he negated their advantages (i.e. cavalry/horses), and minimized his weakness, (his weakness of not having cavalry). Furthermore his troops were better drilled and trained and had greater battle experience, (almost four years of fighting together as a unit prior to this engagement), whereas the mujahideen were rag-tag with some who had battle experience, and some who merely went along for the ghaneema. This indiscipline first led to the collapse of the Muslim base camp but moreover led to the later confusion in succession of leadership, (in that the Mujahideen failed to make appropriate preparation for the possible event of their commander being killed). To avoid these problems, or at the very least, to avoid a repition of these mistakes in future or current battles, the lessons learnt are:

* Rigorous training for Rank and File: Discipline is always needed in high pressure situations and it makes the difference between victory and defeat. This includes sticking to standard procedures and not making assumptions that are not based on facts on the ground. By that I mean:

1. Making sure a tentative battle plan is in place

2. Making sure to always do adequate Recon of target in question

3. Drafting a comprehensive Plan of Battle: by drafting an Order of Battle by incorporating intelligence, (both of troop capabilities and Geographical Intelligence of enemy location, and if it is suitable for a confrontation, and if not, where is the best place to engage them).

4. Then finally, give the order to execute

Contingency Planning: Put in place a succession plan of leadership, in the case of death of first layer of leadership, with procedures to deal with the prevailing situations in order to avoid drop in morale and coordination of troops.

Intelligence and Recon: These two components are integral to battlefield domination and victory. If it is defective, then the army’s preparation may not be equipped properly for the enemy they will face, which might possibly lead to loss of life and defeat.

The battle marked the northernmost point of the spread of the Islamic Dawa’ , wherein afterward, no raid or campaign was quite so adventurous to venture that far north. Subsequently, after this battle, the Berbers of North Africa and, later, the people of Al Andalus rebelled against the Ummayad Government in place in 739 CE in the
Maghribain , (North Africa and Andalus), due to their grievance that the government was not inclusive of Berbers and was discriminatory towards them. This revolt lasted four years wherein, soon after the Ummayad Dynasty was overthrown by the Abbasids in 749 CE. At this time, an Ummayad Emir, Abd Al Rahmān Al Dakhil, (Abd Al Rahmān I), escaped from the clutches of the Abbasid death squads and made his way out of Iraq, zig-zagging his way through Sham , North Africa and then finally to Andalus, where he established, (after numerous battles), the Ummayad Emirate of Qurtuba in 756 CE. The Emirate lasted till 929 CE and intermittent Christian rebellion continued throughout this period along with infighting between Muslims, (Berber vs. Arabs, New Muslims vs. Old Muslims, Shami’s vs. Yemeni’s etc.). A notable event during this period was the jihad declared by Hisham bin Abd Al-Rahmān Al-Dakhil, (Hisham I), in 792 CE against the Christians in France and Andalus. Tens of thousands of Muslim flocked from as far away as Sham to join the
jihad .

Another notable event during this period came in 850-859 CE, when Perfectus, a pagan Christian priest in Muslim-ruled Córdoba, is beheaded after he refuses to retract numerous insults he made about Muhammad ( ﺻﻠَّﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭﺳﻠَّﻢ ). He is reported to have said that the The Prophet ( ﺻﻠَّﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭﺳﻠَّﻢ ), was a “…false Prophets foretold by Christ and as a moral reprobate who had seduced the wife of his kinsman.” [20] Similar things were said by the remainder of this Christian contingent. Numerous other priests, monks, and laity would follow as Christians became caught up in a zest for ‘martyrdom.’ In total forty-eight Christian men and women are decapitated for refusing to convert or blaspheming Muhammad. They are known as the Martyrs of Córdoba. One cannot help but wonder if the same is reoccurring as the ‘Martyrs of Free Speech’ lead their crusade against the character of the Prophet ( ﺻﻠَّﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭﺳﻠَّﻢ ), are merely a repitition of the above misguided individuals? Their end will probably be the same as of their idols, but I digress, more on that later in the conclusion.

The next significant development is the resurrection of the Ummayad khilafa in Andalus in 929 CE. How did it come about?? Abd al-Rahmān ibn Muhammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh, (Abd Al Rahmān III), faced with the threat of invasion by the Fatimids[21] , proclaims himself khalifa of Qurtuba, breaking all ties with the Abbasid khilafat in Baghdad. Under the reign of Abd al-Rahmān III, (and his fore-runners), Al Andalus reaches its greatest height with military expansion and waging Jihad against the Christians to the north continuously. However by 1008, Muhammad Al Thani Al Mahdi, (Muhammad II) – great-grandson of Abd al-Rahmān III – deposes Hisham II as khalifa, (Hisham will get reinstated in 1010 but then subsequently deposed and killed by rebel Berbers in 1013 while they massacre half the population of Qurtuba). The period of anarchy over the next 23 years is what resulted, albeit slowly, the fragmentation of Andalus into 30+ Tawaif (groups/separate kingdoms), due to internal infighting, palace intrigues, Christian unity and increasing strength of Christian forces.



[1] Narrated in Imam Ahmed’s Musnad (18189), Imam Bukhari’s Tareekh Al Kabir (1760), and Al Hakim’s
Mustadrak (8300)

[2] Carthage was one of a number of Phoenician settlements in the western Mediterranean that was created to facilitate trade from the cities of Sidon, Tyre and others from Phoenicia, which was situated in the coast of what is now Syria, Lebanon and Israel. In the 3 and 4 Century, it was a power to rival Rome and the leadership of Hannibal and his father before him.

[3] The Second Fitna which took place during 680-692 CE which include the killings of Hussayn Bin Ali, (grandson of the Prophet ( ﺻﻠَّﻰ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭﺳﻠَّﻢ )), and his followers at the Battle of Karbala, the revolts of Ibn Al-Zubayr and the
khawarij revolts in Iraq and Persia.

[4] They were one of two main branches of the Goths, an East Germanic tribe, the Ostrogoths being the other. Together these tribes were among the barbarians who disturbed the late Roman Empire during the Migration Period. The Visigoths first emerge as a distinct people during the fourth century, initially in the Balkans, where they participated in several wars with Rome. A Visigothic army under Alaric I eventually moved into Italy and famously sacked Rome in 410. By 500 AD they controlled most of Roman Spain as well.

[5] In Arabic, he was named ﻟﺬﺭﻳﻖ

[6] Imam Maqri says that Musa Bin Nusayr wanted to hurry into the invasion, but the khaleefa , Abd Al Malik Ibn Al Waleed, insisted on reconnaissance, showing the military acumen of Abd Al Malik Ibn Al Waleed. In hindsight, his foresight paid off.

[7] Muslim historians placed this battle at slightly different places, as, according to Abd Al Hakam in Futūh Misr , said the battle took place at Medina Sidonia or
Shedunya , while others specified further that it at happened at Wadi Lakka , which is identified as the Guadelete River.

[8] The people of the dhimma or pact of protection which is the one whose dhimma (responsibility of protection has been taken) is a non-Muslim subject of a land governed in accordance with the Sharia. The obligation of the state is to protect the Dhimmi’s life, property, and freedom of religion, (which does not include proselytization), and worship, and required loyalty to the empire, while charging a poll tax known as the jizya, and exemption from military service.

[9] West Germanic tribes first identified in the 3rd century as an ethnic group living north and east of the Lower Rhine. Under the Merovingian dynasty, they founded one of the Germanic monarchies which replaced the Western Roman Empire from the 5th century. The Frankish state consolidated its hold over large parts of western Europe by the end of the eighth century and the Carolingian Empire and its successor states were Frankish.

[10] A rectangular mass military formation, usually composed entirely of heavy infantry armed with spears, pikes, or similar weapons. The term is particularly (and originally) used to describe the use of this formation in Ancient Greek warfare. The word phalanx is derived from the Greek word phalangos , meaning the finger.

[11] A battle that occurred near Jabal Uhud, (near Medina), in 625 AD/3 AH between the Muslims and the Makkan Quraysh a year after the Battle of Badr.

[12] It is for that very reason that this battle is called by Muslim historians ﻣﻌﺮﻛﺔ ﺑﻼﻁ ﺍﻟﺸﻬﺪﺍﺀ or The Battle of the Court of Martyrs
[13] Surah Al Imran, Verses 152-153

[14] Ibn Katheer says in his Tafseer that: “Ibn Jurayj said that Ibn ‘Abbas said that Fashiltum means, ‘lost courage’.” In this context it is “…you lost courage”

[15] Sahih Bukhari

[16] Sahih Bukhari

[17] Surah Al Imran, Verse 152

[18] Surah Al Imran, Verse(s) 154-155

[19] Surah Al Fath, Ayah 12

[20] http://www.orthodoxengland.btinternet.co.uk/oecordob.htm

[21] Ismaili Shia dynasty operating out of Egypt