Battle of Uhud

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The Battle of Uhud

In 625 A.D. (3 H.), the Muslims of Madinah learned a difficult lesson during the Battle of Uhud. When attacked by an invading army from Makkah, it initially looked like the small group of defenders would win the battle. But at a key moment, some fighters disobeyed orders and left their posts out of greed and pride, ultimately causing the Muslim army a crushing defeat. It was a trying time in the history of Islam.

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Muslims Are Outnumbered

After the Muslims' migration from Makkah, the powerful Makkan tribes assumed that the small group of Muslims would be without protection or strength. Two years after the Hijrah, the Makkan army attempted to eliminate the Muslims in the Battle of Badr. The Muslims showed that they could fight against the odds and defend Madinah from invasion. After that humiliating defeat, the Makkan army chose to come back in full force and try to wipe out the Muslims for good.

The following year (625 A.D.), they set out from Makkah with an army of 3,000 fighters led by Abu Sufyan. The Muslims gathered to defend Madinah from invasion, with a small band of 700 fighters, led by the Prophet Muhammad himself. The Makkan cavalry outnumbered the Muslim cavalry with a 50:1 ratio. The two mismatched armies met at the slopes of Mount Uhud, just outside the city of Madinah.

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Defensive Position at Mount Uhud

Using Madinah's natural geography as a tool, the Muslim defenders took up positions along the slopes of Mount Uhud. The mountain itself prevented the attacking army from penetrating from that direction. The Prophet Muhammad assigned about 50 archers to take up post on a nearby rocky hill, to prevent the vulnerable Muslim army from attack at the rear. This strategic decision was meant to protect the Muslim army from being surrounded or encircled by the opposing cavalry.

The archers were under orders to never leave their positions, under any circumstances, unless ordered to do so.

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The Battle Is Won... Or Is It?

After a series of individual duels, the two armies engaged. The confidence of the Makkan army quickly began to dissolve as Muslim fighters worked their way through their lines. The Makkan army was pushed back, and all attempts to attack the flanks were thwarted by the Muslim archers on the hillside. Soon, Muslim victory appeared certain.

At that critical moment, many of the archers disobeyed orders and ran down the hill to claim the spoils of war. This left the Muslim army vulnerable and shifted the outcome of the battle.

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The Retreat

As the Muslim archers abandoned their posts out of greed, the Makkan cavalry found their opening. They attacked the Muslims from the rear and cut off groups from one another. Some engaged in hand-to-hand combat, while others tried to retreat to Madinah. Rumors of the Prophet Muhammad's death caused confusion. The Muslims were overrun, and many were injured and killed.

The remaining Muslims retreated to the hills of Mount Uhud, where the Makkan cavalry could not ascend. The battle ended and the Makkan army withdrew.

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The Aftermath and Lessons Learned

Nearly 70 prominent early Muslims were killed in the Battle of Uhud, including Hamza bin Abdul-Mutallib, Musab ibn Umayr (may Allah be pleased with them). They were buried on the battlefield, which is now marked as the graveyard of Uhud. The Prophet Muhammad was also injured in the fighting.

The Battle of Uhud taught the Muslims important lessons about greed, military discipline, and humility. After their previous success at the Battle of Badr, many had thought that victory was guaranteed and a sign of Allah's favor. A verse of the Quran was revealed soon after the battle, which chastised the Muslims' disobedience and greed as the reason for defeat. Allah describes the battle as both a punishment and a test of their steadfastness.

Allah did indeed fulfill His promise to you when you, with His permission, were about to annihilate your enemy, until you flinched and fell to disputing about the order, and disobeyed it after He brought you in sight (of the booty) which you covet. Among you are some that hanker after this world and some that desire the Hereafter. Then did He divert you from your foes in order to test you. But He forgave you, For Allah is full of grace to those who believe. -Quran 3:152
However, the Makkan victory was not complete. They were not able to achieve their ultimate aim, which was to destroy the Muslims once and for all. Rather than feeling demoralized, the Muslims found inspiration in the Quran and reinforced their commitment. The two armies would meet again at the Battle of the Trench two years later.
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Your Citation
Huda. "Battle of Uhud." ThoughtCo, Feb. 1, 2015, thoughtco.com/battle-of-uhud-2004362. Huda. (2015, February 1). Battle of Uhud. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/battle-of-uhud-2004362 Huda. "Battle of Uhud." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/battle-of-uhud-2004362 (accessed January 19, 2018).