Disobedience to Allah and His Messenger (ﷺ) is the Cause of Disaster and Defeat for the Ummah: Lessons from the Battle of Uhud

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All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all creation; may the peace and blessing be upon our noble Prophet Muhammad, his family, his Companions and all those who follow him precisely until the establishment of the Hour.

The story of the battle of Uhud contains a great lesson for the Muslims who seek the aid of Allah and wonder why they are in a state of weakness and humiliation today.

The Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) prepared and arranged his Companions for the fight ahead. There were fifty horsemen and fifty archers. He commanded the archers that they should not move from their positions on the small outcrop of mountain, and that they should guard the backs of the Muslims against any attack from their direction.

Al-Barā’ bin ‘Āzib (may Allah be pleased with him) said: On the day of the battle of Uhud, Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) appointed Abdullāh bin Jubair (may Allah be pleased with him) as the commander of the archers who were fifty in number. The Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said,

“Even if you see that the birds are snatching at us, do not move from this place of yours until I send for you and if you see that we have defeated the enemy and trodden them down, still do not move until I send for you.”

So Allah defeated them and I swear by Allāh, I saw women fleeing into the mountain. The archers with Abdullāh bin Jubair said, “The spoils of war await us and your companions are victorious so for what are you waiting?”

Abdullāh bin Jubair said, “Have you forgotten what the Messenger of Allah (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) told you?” They said, “By Allah, we shall join the people and take the spoils of war. So they came down to join the people. Their faces turned away from their positions and they were defeated.”[1]

Here, we have some of the Companions of Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) who made a decision to leave their posts thinking that the pagans were routed and would not return. However, in leaving their posts, they disobeyed the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam). Then the horseman of the pagans with Khālid bin Walīd at their head made a charge and found the gap unprotected by archers―they passed through and were able to attack the believers. So whatever Allāh willed to happen occurred, and seventy of the believers were martyred.

After the battle, the believers sought an explanation for their defeat. At the battle of Badr, they were victorious with fewer numbers and weapons. So Allah (the Most High) informed them of the reason for the defeat at Uhud:

أَوَلَمَّا أَصَابَتْكُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَدْ أَصَبْتُم مِّثْلَيْهَا قُلْتُمْ أَنَّىٰ هَٰذَا ۖ قُلْ هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ أَنفُسِكُمْ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

“When a single disaster struck you [on the day of Uhud], though you had struck the enemy [at the battle of Badr] with a victory twice as great, you said, “From where did this disaster come?” Say, “It is from your own selves.” Indeed, Allah is over all things powerful.”[2]

Ibn Sa’d (may Allah’s mercy be upon him)[3] stated that Abdullāh bin Jubair admonished the archers―however they disobeyed and went off and only ten remained with him. So Khālid bin Walīd (who was a polytheist at that time) saw that the hill defence had been abandoned so he came to the place of the archers and attacked those who remained. The remaining archers defended with arrows until they were killed. Abdullāh bin Jubair (may Allah be pleased with him) fired his arrows until they were finished. Then he fought with his spear until it broke, then he broke the scabbard of his sword and fought them until he was martyred (may Allah be pleased with him).

Ibn Al-Qayyim (may Allah’s mercy be upon him) mentioned that one of the points of wisdom gained from the battle of Uhud is: “Recognition of the evil consequences of sins, weakness of resolve and disputation―and that which befell them was a result of that, just as Allah (the Most High) stated:

وَلَقَدْ صَدَقَكُمُ اللَّهُ وَعْدَهُ إِذْ تَحُسُّونَهُم بِإِذْنِهِ ۖ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا فَشِلْتُمْ وَتَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي الْأَمْرِ وَعَصَيْتُم مِّن بَعْدِ مَا أَرَاكُم مَّا تُحِبُّونَ ۚ مِنكُم مَّن يُرِيدُ الدُّنْيَا وَمِنكُم مَّن يُرِيدُ الْآخِرَةَ ۚ ثُمَّ صَرَفَكُمْ عَنْهُمْ لِيَبْتَلِيَكُمْ ۖ وَلَقَدْ عَفَا عَنكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ ذُو فَضْلٍ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ

‘And Allah did indeed fulfil His promise to you when you were vanquishing your enemy by His permission until the moment you lost your courage and started to dispute the command [of the Prophet], and you disobeyed after Allah showed you the spoils of war which you love. Among you are some that desire this world and some that desire the Hereafter.

Then He made you flee from your enemy, that He might test you.

But surely, He forgave you, and Allah is Most Gracious to the believers.’[4]

So when they tasted the punishment (and defeat) due to their disobedience of the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam), disputation and loss of courage―after that they became the most cautious, wakeful and attentive to the reasons that lead to being forsaken [by Allah].”[5]

So Allah pardoned them and they learned a mighty lesson. Allah revealed sixty verses in Surah Āli ‘Imrān regarding the battle that serve as a lesson, admonition and reminder to the true believers.

Seventy among the Companions were martyred at the battle of Uhud. At the battle of Badr, the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) and his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) had inflicted a strike that was twice as great: one hundred and forty casualties. Seventy pagans were taken prisoners and seventy were killed. That is why Allah stated in the verse above, “Although you had struck the enemy [at the battle of Badr] with a victory twice as great.” For this reason, Abu Sufyan (a leader of the pagans at the time) said at the end of the battle of Uhud, “This is a day for the defeat on the day of Badr―and the issue of war is still undecided.”[6]

So this proves that victory is snatched away from the Muslims due to disobedience to Allah and His Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam).

So, what does the Muslim Ummah expect in our times?―Many Muslims oppress others without a care, they deceive one another and engage in major sins such as fornication and lewd sexual conduct, lying, theft, drinking alcohol, gambling, backbiting―then there are Muslims who deal in interest (ribā), view pornography, women who discard the hijāb, many who listen to music, are addicted to movies, TV soaps―and they break the ties of kinship, cheat on their spouses and the list goes on!

Do they really believe that Allah will give them victory and lift their state of humiliation while they are in this state? Even worse than these sins is the fact that many millions of Muslims in our times do not even know the correct Islamic Belief which is the very foundation of the Religion, they do not study it, and most of those who “practice religion” are entrenched in their sectarian beliefs in opposition to the Quran, Sunnah and the Methodology of the Companions!

There are millions in this Ummah who call upon the dead in their graves and are engaged in all types of innovated practices― from celebrating the birthday of the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) to building shrines over graves, calling upon the dead and visiting soothsayers and astrologers! In this state, do they truly expect the aid of Allah?!

Their beliefs and actions bring about humiliation from Allah and victory to the unbelievers over the Muslims.

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) asked his Companions, “Do you know who the bankrupt person is?” They said, “O Messenger of Allah! The bankrupt among us is the one who has no Dirhams (money) nor property.”

The Messenger of Allah (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “The bankrupt person in my nation is the one who comes on the Day of Judgement having prayed, fasted and paid Zakat, but he comes having abused this one, falsely accused that one, wrongfully consumed the wealth of this one, spilled the blood of that one and beat this one.

So, he is seated, and his good deeds will be taken in exchange. If his rewards are exhausted before the oppression that he committed is paid back, then some of the sins of his victims will be taken and cast upon him―thereafter he will be cast into the Fire.”[7]

So, how much more severe is the situation of those who do not even pray, or pay Zakāt or fast Ramadān― and those who engage in polytheistic, superstitious or innovated practices?

This is the state of the Muslim Ummah today, so how can they expect Allah’s help?

More street protests, demonstrations, suicide bombings, terrorist attacks, plotting to overthrow governments, setting up radical parties, etc, will not bring about the rectification of the Ummah― these are not from the means at all.

Muslims must abandon their sins and deviation from the truth, seek Allah’s forgiveness when they slip, rectify their behaviour, turn to the Quran and Sunnah for guidance, believe and behave as the early Salaf did and worship Allah (the Most High) sincerely― then Allah (the Most High) will bestow His bounties upon them. The Prophet Nūh (‘alaihi salām) made this point clear to his people:

فَقُلْتُ اسْتَغْفِرُوا رَبَّكُمْ إِنَّهُ كَانَ غَفَّارًا

يُرْسِلِ السَّمَاءَ عَلَيْكُم مِّدْرَارًا

وَيُمْدِدْكُم بِأَمْوَالٍ وَبَنِينَ وَيَجْعَل لَّكُمْ جَنَّاتٍ وَيَجْعَل لَّكُمْ أَنْهَارًا

“I said to them: Seek forgiveness from your Lord. Verily, He is the Oft-Forgiving. He will send rain to you in abundance and give you increase in wealth and children, and bestow on you gardens and bestow on you rivers.”[8]

[1] Abu Dawud (no. 2662).

[2] Surah Āli ‘Imrān: 165.

[3] At-Tabaqāt (3/476).

[4] Āli ‘Imrān: 152.

[5] Zād Al-Ma’ād (p. 401), Mu’assasah Ar-Risālah edition, Beirut, 2009 CE/1430 AH.

[6] See Al-Bukhari (no. 3986).

[7] Muslim (no. 2581), Tirmidhi (no. 2418).

[8] Surah Nūh: 10-12.

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1 Comment

  1. Assalam alaikum,
    May Allah bless you abundantly, Sheikh Abu Khadeejah Abdul-Wahid, for this excellent write up.
    JazakaAllahu khairan.

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