It was called after the place it occurred, between Al-Juhfah and Mecca, where a caravan of the disbelievers passed and which the Prophet (peace be upon him) wanted to intercept.
It happened in the mountainous district of Al-Kharrar, near Mecca. The correct view is that it happened in the first year of Hijra, in the month of Dhul Qaddah, corresponding to May 623 A.C.
The leader of the campaign was the Companion Saad ibn Abi Waqqas (may Allah be pleased with him), who led a number of the Muhajareen. The flag-bearer (a white flag) was Al-Miqdad ibn Amr (may Allah be pleased with him).
Saad was the first one who threw an arrow in Islam. He is one of the first people to enter Islam and one of the ten who received the glad tiding of their place in paradise. He is one of the uncles of the Prophet on his mother’s side. Similarly, Al-Miqdad was one of the first people in Mecca to express his belief in Islam. He took advantage of Quraish leaving Mecca to attack the Muslims. He also knew the news of Ubaydah ibn Al-Harith’s campaign. Therefore, he left with the disbelievers in order to join the Muslims, intending to immigrate to Yathrib. The Companion Utbah ibn Ghazwan was with him at the time. And he (Miqdad) was one of the four for whom the Prophet (peace be upon him) prayed people would love him.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) sent Saad ibn Abi Waqqas and a number of the Muhajareen to intercept a caravan belonging to Quraish. Reports state twenty or sixty Muhajareen were with him. They left on foot, hiding during the daytime and walking at night until they reached Al-Kharrar. The Prophet (peace be upon him) told them not to travel beyond there, but they found that the caravan had passed that point. Consequently, they returned to Medinah and did not intercept the caravan.
The author of the Prophet’s Biography written in Hallab related that Iman Ahmed reported that Saad ibn Abi Waqqas related that when the Prophet (peace be upon him) entered Medinah, the nearby tribe of Juhaynah embraced Islam.
And the Prophet (peace be upon him) had ordered a campaign to go to the district of Kinanah next to the tribe of Juhaynah. Saad was leading this campaign. The Muslims asked help from the tribe of Juhaynah due to their large numbers, but they tried to stop them from proceeding as it was the month of Rajab in the second year of Hijra, that is, one of the months in which fighting was prohibited. The Companions differed among themselves; should they return to the Prophet (peace be upon him) or continue travelling to intercept one of Quraish’s caravans. Some of the Companions returned with this news to the Prophet. The Prophet (peace be upon him) stood up, annoyed and with a red face. He then said, <You have become divided into groups; the people before you were ruined because they divided into groups. I will send to you (as your commander) the one who can best bear hunger and thirst.> He sent Abdullah ibn Jahsh (may Allah be pleased with him) as a leader over them travelling in the direction of a place between Mecca and Taif [The book of Al-Waqidi].
Campaigns were sent soon after each other in order to scare Allah’s enemies, and also to train the Muslim fighters and to recover part of what had been stolen from them. Such efforts indicated the vigilance and enthusiasm of the Muslims which was built on firm faith and belief.
The Companion Saad ibn Abi Waqqas, in particular, was a key participant in most of these campaigns. We also learn from these campaigns, according to different narrations, that the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not allow his Companions to take decisions by themselves to attack any caravan of Quraish, as disunity and splits bring failure to the Muslims.