54 – The Burial of The Martyrs

The Prophet now led his Companions down into the plain. Harith ibn as-Simmah had been sent on ahead to look for the body of Hamzah, but when he found him he was so appalled at the sight and at having to tell the Prophet that he did not at once return, and ‘Ali was sent after him. He found Harith standing aghast by the mutilated body, and they both returned together. When the Prophet saw what had been done he said: “Never yet have I felt more anger than now I feel; and when next God giveth me a victory over Quraysh I will mutilate thirty of their dead.”[1] But soon after this there came the Revelation: If ye inflict punishment, then inflict only so much as ye have suffered; but if ye endure patiently, that is better for the patient.[2] And not only did he not fulfill his threat, but he expressly forbade mutilation after every battle. Moreover, as regards the fighting itself, he told them to respect the human face as being the most godlike part of the body: “When one of you striketh a blow, let him avoid striking the face … for God created Adam in His image.”[3]

‘Abd Allah ibn Jahsh had been struck down not far from Hamzah, and his body also had been mutilated. But when the Prophet turned away from them to look for others of the dead, a very different sight met his eyes. One of the nearest bodies to those of his two kinsmen was the body of Hanzalah. Neither man nor woman of Quraysh had ventured to touch him, and he lay there even as the Angels had laid him, with his hair still wet with water upon the noon-dry earth. None passed him by who did not give thanks, for in his beauty and his peace he was a sign from Heaven, to inform the bereaved of the present state of their martyred kinsmen.

Not far away were the bodies of Khaythamah and Ibn ad-Dahdahah -Khaythamah whose martyred son had appeared to him in his sleep, bidding him hasten to join him, and Thabit ibn ad-Dahdahah who had made a gift of the palm-tree to the orphan. When the Prophet saw Thabit, he said: “Palms with low-hanging heavy-laden clusters, what a multitude of these hath the son of Dahdahah in Paradise!”[4]

When one of the clans of Aws were looking for their dead, they found to their surprise a man of theirs named Usayrim whom only the day before they ha rebuked for not being a Muslim. Whenever they spoke to him about Islam he used to say: “If I knew it to be true, all that ye say, I would not hesitate.” Yet there he was on the field of battle, mortally wounded but not yet dead. “What brought thee here?” they said. “Was it care for thy people, or was it for the sake of Islam?” “It was for Islam,” he said. “Suddenly I believed in God and in His Messenger and I entered Islam. Then I took my sword and came out early this morning to be with the Messenger of God; and I fought until I was struck the blow that felled me here.” He could say no more and they stayed with him until he died. then they told the Prophet, who assured them that he was of the people of Paradise, and in after years Usayrim came to be known as the man who entered Paradise without ever having prayed one of the five daily prayers.

Amongst the dead they found a stranger, or so it seemed at first, until one of them recognized him as Mukhayriq, a learned rabbi of the Jewish clan of Tha’labah. Early that morning, as they were afterwards informed, he had summoned his people to keep their pact with the Prophet and to join him in fighting the idolaters, and when they protested that it was the Sabbath said: “Ye keep not the Sabbath truly.” Then he adjured them to witness that Muhammad was his sole heir. “If I am slain this day,” he said, “my possessions are for Muhammad, to use even as God shall show him.” Then taking his sword and other weapons he set out for Uhud, where he fought till he was killed. Thereafter a large portion of the alms that were distributed in Medina came from the rich palm groves that the Prophet inherited from Mukhayriq, “the best of the Jews”, as he called him.

As soon as it was clear that the Meccans intended to return the way they had come, thus giving Medina a wide berth, women began to set out from the city to tend the wounded and to see for themselves how true or how false were the various rumors that ever since noon had been coming to their ears. Among the first women to come were Safiyyah and ‘A’ishah and Umm Ayman. The Prophet was distressed to see Safiyyah approaching, and he called to Zubayr: “Help me with thy mother, and let Hamzah’s grave be dug forthwith. Go thou to meet her and take her back, lest she see what hath befallen her brother.” So Zubayr went to her and said: “Mother, the Messenger of God biddeth thee return.” But Safiyyah had already learned the news at the edge of the field. “Why should I return?” she said. “I have heard that my brother hath been mutilated, but it was for the sake of God, and that which is for His sake do we fully accept. I promise that I shall be calm and patient if God will.” Zubayr returned to the Prophet, who told him to let her have her way. So she came and looked at her brother and prayed over him and recited the Verse of Return: Verily we are for God, and verily unto Him are we returning; and they all took comfort in remembering the context of this verse, from a Revelation which had been received after Badr: O ye who believe, seek help of God in steadfastness and in prayer. Verily God is with the steadfast. And say not “dead” of those who have been slain in God’s path for they are living, only ye perceive not. And We shall surely try you with something of fear and of hunger, and loss of goods and lives and harvesting. But give good tidings unto the steadfast, who say when a blow befalleth them: Verily we are for God, and verily unto Him are we returning. On these are blessings from their Lord and Mercy; and these are the rightly guided.[5]

Safiyyah then stood and prayed over the body of her sister Umaymah’s son, ‘Abd Allah ibn Jahsh, and she was soon joined by Fatimah. The two women wept over their dead, and it was a relief to the Prophet to weep with them. Fatimah then dressed her father’s wounds. Their cousin Hamnah, ‘Abd Allah’s sister, was now seen approaching, and their sorrow was increased by having to tell her of the death of her husband Mus’ab, as well as of the deaths of her brother and her uncle. When the battle was already well advanced the Prophet had seen Mus’ab, as he thought, still bearing the banned, and had called out to him. But the man had answered: “I am not Mus’ab”, and the Prophet had known that it was an Angel and that Mus’ab must have been killed or disabled. He now stood by the dead man’s body and recited the verse: Of the believers are men who are true to their covenant with God. Some of them have made good their vow by death, and some are waiting, and they waver not nor change.[6]

He ordered that all the dead should be brought and laid near the body of Hamzah, and that graves should be dug. Hamzah was wrapped in a mantle, and the Prophet prayed over him the funeral prayer, after which he prayed over each one of the dead, seventy-two prayers in all. As soon as a grave was ready, two or three were buried in it. Hamzah and his nephew ‘Abd Allah were laid together in one grave. The Prophet himself presided over every burial. “Look for ‘Amr the son of Jamuh and ‘Abd Allah the son of Amr,” he said. “In this world they were friends inseparable, so lay them in one grave. But Hind, wife of ‘Amr and sister of ‘Abd Allah -the father of Jabir- had laready brought the two bodies together, and with them the body of her son Khallad. She had tried to take them to Medina, but when her camel had reached the edge of plain he had refused to go any further -by God’s command, as the Prophet told her- and she had been obliged to bring the bodies once more to the battlefield. So the three were laid in one grave, and the Prophet stood beside them until they were buried. “O HInd,” he said, “they are all of them together in Paradise, ‘Amr and thy son Khallad and thy brother ‘Abd Allah.” “O Messenger of God,” said Hind, “pray God that He place me with them.”

Unlike most of the dead, the man of Muzaynah who had fought so valiantly had none of his people present, for his nephew had also fought to the death. So the Prophet went to him and stood beside him saying: “May God be pleased with thee, even as I am pleased with thee.”[7] They had wrapped his body in a green-striped cloak he was wearing, and when he was laid in the grave the Prophet drew it up to cover his face and his feet were uncovered. So he told them to gather some rue from the plain and to spread it over his feet. And this he bade them do with many of the dead, that both their faces and their feet might be covered before the earth was piled up over them.

When the last grave had been filled the Prophet called for his horse and mounted it, and they set off down the gorge, the way they had come at down. When they reached the beginning of the lava tract he told them to stand in line to give praise and thanksgiving to God, and the men formed two lines facing Mecca, with the women behind them, fourteen women in all. Then he glorified God, and prayed, saying: “O God, I ask of thee Thy blessing and Thy mercy and Thy grace and Thine indulgence. O God, I ask of Thee the eternal bliss that fadeth not nor passeth away. O God, I ask of Thee safety on the day of fear, and plenty o the day of destitution.[8]


[1] I.I. 584
[2] Qur’an 16 : 126
[3] A.H. I, 251; M. 45, 32
[4] W. 505
[5] Qur’an 2 : 153 – 157
[6] Qur’an 33 : 23
[7] W. 277
[8] W. 315

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