53 – Revenge

Quraysh were now busy about their dead and their wounded. The losses had not been great: there were only twenty-two killed out of three thousand. Then they counted the losses of the enemy and found about sixty-five dead, many of whom they did not know. Only three were Emigrants: Hamzah of Hashim, Mus’ab of ‘Abd ad-Dar, and ‘Abd Allah ibn Jahsh. A few other bodies at some distance from the center of the field, wounded as well as dead, escaped their notice. Amongst these was Shammas, still alive but unable to move. In vain they searched for the body of Muhammad, and while they were doing so Wahshi went back to the body of Hamzah, ripped open his belly, cut out his liver and brought it to Hind. “What shall be mine for slaying the slayer of thy father?” he said. “All my share of the spoils,” was her answer. “This is Hamzah’s liver,” he said, and she took it from him and bit away a piece of it, chewed it, swallowed a morsel in fulfillment of her vow and spat out the rest. “Show me where he is,” she said, and when they reached the body she cut off his nose and ears and other parts of his flesh. Then she took off her necklaces and pendants and anklets and gave them to Wahshi, telling the women who were with her to mutilate others of the dead. They all made for themselves ornaments of vengeance with what they cut from the bodies of the Muslims, and Hind mounted upon a rock and uttered a chant of triumph. One or two men of Quraysh also sought to slake their thirst for revenge by mutilating the dead, but their Bedouin allies were outraged. Abu Sufyan was striking the side of Hamzah’s mouth with the point of his spear and saying “Taste that, thou rebel” when Hulays passed by, the leader of one of the clans of Kinanah. In a loud voice, so that Abu Sufyan could hear, he said: “O sons of Kinanah, can this be the lord of Quraysh who is doing what ye see with the body of his dead cousin?” “Confound thee,” said Abu Sufyan, “tell not to it. A slip it was, no more.”[1]

Meantime Abu ‘Amir came upon the body of his sone Hanzalah, and grievously lamented over him saying: “Did I not warn thee against this man?” -he meant the Prophet. “But thou wast a dutiful son unto thy father, noble of character in thy life, and in thy death thou liest with the flower of thy companions. If God requite with good this slain one” -he pointed to Hamzah- “or any of the followers of Muhammad, may he requite thee with good!”[2] Then he looked sternly at Hind and the other women and said in a loud voice: “O Quraysh, let not Hanzalah be mutilated, what though he was mine and adversary and yours!” And they respected his wishes.

It was now presumed that Ubayy had not been mistaken, and that the Prophet was with his army somewhere on the high ground above the plain. But the battle was over: there could be no question of attacking the mountain, and the slaves had already been told to strike camp. So when they had buried their own dead and taken their fill of revenge on the enemy dead, they loaded the armor and whatever else they had stripped from them onto their camels, and prepared to set off. But before they did so Abu Sufyan mounted his chestnut mare and rode to the foot of the mountain, to the point nearest where the Prophet and his Companions had been stationed, and shouted at the top of his voice: “War goeth by turns, and this is a day for a day. Exalt thyself, O Hubal! Make prevail thy religion!” The Prophet told ‘Umar to go and answer him, saying: “God is All-Highest, Supreme in Majesty. We are not equal: our slain are in Paradise, Yours are in the Fire.” So ‘Umar went to the edge of the precipice below which Abu Sufyan was standing and answered him as the Prophet had said, whereupon Abu Sufyan called up to ‘Umar, having recognized his voice: “I adjure thee, ‘Umar, by God, have we slain Muhammad?” “No, by God,” said ‘Umar, “but he is even now listening to what thou sayest.” “I take thy word for it as truer than the word of Ibn Qami’ah,” said Abu Sufyan. He turned to go, but turning back once more he added: “Some of your dead have been mutilated. By God, I take no pleasure therein, neither am I wroth. I forbade it not, nor did I command it.” Then he said: “Badr be your meeting-place with us next year!” Hearing this, the Prophet sent another of his Companions to the edge of the cliff, to shout his response: “That is a binding tryst between us.”[3]

Abu Sufyan rode to where his army was waiting for him at the further side of the plain, and they set off towards the south. It was too far for ‘Umar to discern clearly their formation, so the Prophet sent Sa’d of Zuhrah down to the plain to follow them and see what they were about. “If they are leading their horses,” he said, “and riding their camels, they are for Mecca; but if they are riding their horses and leading their camels, they are for Medina; and by Him in whose hand is my soul, if that is their aim, I will overtake them and fight them.” Sa’d went down to the gully where the Prophet’s stallion Sakb had been tethered ever since their arrival in Uhud, and having ridden after the Meccans until he had a clear sight of them, he then hastened back with the good tidings that their horsemen were on camelback leading their horses beside them. As one of them said in after years, name ‘Amr[4], who had taken part with Khalid in the decisive cavalry charge: “We had heard that Ibn Ubayy had returned to Medina with a third of the army, and that some men of Aws and Khazraj had stayed in the city. Nor could we be certain that those who had retreated would not return to the attack; and many of us were wounded, and nearly all our horses had been pierced by arrows, so we went on our way.”[5]


[1] I.I. 582
[2] W. 274
[3] I.I. 583
[4] See chapter 27 – Abyssinia
[5] W. 299

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