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The campaign of Abdullah ibn Jahsh (Nakhlah) persecution is worse than killing

The campaign of Abdullah ibn Jahsh (Nakhlah) persecution is worse than killing

When and where was the campaign of Abdullah ibn Jahsh (Nakhlah)?

The campaign took place in the month of Rajab in the second year of Hijra, corresponding to January 624 A.C., in Nakhlah valley between Mecca and Taif.

Reasons for the campaign of Abdullah ibn Jahsh (Nakhlah)

The aim of the campaign was to gain information about Quraish, the enemies of the Islamic call, and to secure the area which the Messenger (peace be upon him) had chosen to attack their caravans.

Who led the campaign and who was the flag-bearer?

Abdullah ibn Jahsh (may Allah be pleased with him) led the campaign. The Messenger (peace be upon him) called him “The Commander of the Believers” due to being a leader of this campaign. He was the first person who was called this title in Islam.

Ibn Jahsh Al-Asidy (may Allah be pleased with him) was the first one who held the banner in Islam, which was larger than the flag. The leader of the disbelievers’ caravan was Amr ibn Al-Hadramy.

Events of the campaign of Abdullah ibn Jahsh (Nakhlah)

The Messenger (peace be upon him) sent Abdullah ibn Jahsh Al-Asidy to Nakhla with 12 men from the Muhajareen, every camel carrying two men.

The Messenger (peace be upon him) gave a letter to Abdullah, ordering him to open it two days after leaving Medinah. When Abdullah opened the letter, he found that he was ordered to enter this valley and gather information about Quraish. He said to himself, “I have heard and obeyed.”

He told his companions that he would not force them to obey the orders in the letter, but whoever wanted martyrdom should go with him. Therefore, they all went with him. When they were en route, Saad ibn Abi Waqqas and Utbah ibn Ghazwan lost the camel they were riding, so they were delayed looking for it.

The historians have confirmed for us that the narrators of the hadith did not state who exactly was entrusted with this secret mission; however, we know that these Companions were too noble to avoid fighting in Allah’s path for a simple reason.

In fact, Abdullah ibn Jahsh (may Allah be pleased with him) continued travelling until he reached Nakhlah. A caravan of Quraish full of raisins, food stuff and trade goods passed by. Amr ibn Al-Hadramy, Othman and Naufal, the sons of Abdullah ibn Al-Mugheerah, and Al-Hakim ibn Kaysan, the slave of Banu Al-Mugheerah, were present in the caravan. Quraish’s caravan were scared of the Muslims. However, when Okasha ibn Mahsan appeared with his head shaved, Quraish thought the group of Muslims were only travelling for Umrah. As for the Muslims, they were unsure about fighting because it was the last day in the sacred month of Rajab, in which fighting was prohibited according to the custom in Arabia at that time. 

At last, the Muslims agreed to fight. Waqad ibn Abdullah At-Tameemy threw an arrow at Amr ibn Al-Hadramy which killed him, and they caught Othman ibn Abdullah and Al-Hakim ibn Kaysan, but Naufal ibn Abdullah escaped.

The leader of the campaign distributed the sheep they caught, setting aside one fifth for the Messenger (peace be upon him). This was before the following ayah (verse of the Quran) laying down the obligatory distribution of booty was revealed, {Know that one fifth of the spoils that you obtain belongs to Allah, to the Messenger, to the near of kin, to the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer} [Surah Al-Anfal: 41]. This campaign was the first conflict in Islam in which one of the enemies was killed and captives were taken.  

However, the Messenger (peace be upon him) disapproved of what the campaign had done, saying <I did not order you to fight in a sacred month.> He (peace be upon him) waited before distributing the animals and dealing with the two captives. In the meantime, Quraish and the Jews exploited the incident to spread slander against the Messenger (peace be upon him) and his Companions, claiming that they had violated the sacred month in which fighting is forbidden. Moreover, the Muslims became confused and unhappy. This continued until divine revelation was revealed with a decisive verdict, explaining that what the disbelievers had done was worse and a greater error than what the Muslims had committed. Allah (Glory be to Him) says, {People ask you about fighting in the holy month. Say, “Fighting in it is an awesome sin, but barring people from the Way of Allah, disbelieving in Him, and denying entry into the Holy Mosque and expelling its inmates from it are more awesome acts in the sight of Allah; and persecution is even more heinous than killing.” They will not cease fighting against you till they turn you from your religion, if they can. (So remember well) that whoever from amongst you turns away from his religion and dies in the state of unbelief, their work will go to waste in this world and in the Next. They are destined for the Fire, and it is there that they will abide} [Surah Al-Baqarah: 217].

The revelation clearly stated that there was no basis to all the commotion the disbelievers had made, for the disbelievers had violated all the sacred sanctities in their fight against Islam and persecution of the Muslims. Were the Muslims not living in the sacred precincts when the disbelievers decided to confiscate their money and kill their Prophet? So why were these sacred limits suddenly referred to now, and why were their violation a cause of rage and uproar? 

After that, the Messenger (peace be upon him) released the two captives Othman and Al-Hakim in return for Quraish freeing Saad and Uyanah, and he gave blood money to the killed man’s father.

It is known that Al-Hakim later embraced Islam, married Uthman ibn Afan’s sister, and was martyred in the Ma’unah well attack. However, his companion in this incident, Othman, died a disbeliever in Mecca.

Results of the campaign of Abdullah ibn Jahsh (Nakhlah)

The leader of the caravan, Amr ibn Al-Hadramy, was killed and two captives were caught. Revelation was sent making war with the disbelievers an obligation as well as revelation laying down the ruling of fighting in Allah’s path during the sacred months. The ayahs were revealed, stating, {Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you but do not transgress, for Allah does not love transgressors. Kill them whenever you confront them and drive them out from where they drove you out. (For though killing is sinful) wrongful persecution is even worse than killing. Do not fight against them near the Holy Mosque unless they fight against you; but if they fight against you kill them, for that is the reward of such unbelievers. But if they desist (from fighting), know well that Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Compassionate} [Surah Al-Baqarah: 190 – 192].

This campaign was one of the precursors of the battle of Badr, when the leaders of Quraish became very angry about the danger the Muslims posed on their lives and trade.

What lessons do we learn from the campaign of Abdullah ibn Jahsh (Nakhlah)?

Confidentiality was a reason for the success of the Muslims. Moreover, the determination of the believers when they wish for martyrdom is clear, as none of the Companions left the campaign after they learnt what it entailed.

The Messenger (peace be upon him) maintained the values which his Lord had taught him concerning the prohibition of fighting during the sacred months, and this is why he did not distribute the booty or accept the two captives at first.

The Messenger’s vigiliance as a war leader with regard to all small and large details paved the way for the Islamic liberation of many areas and the establishment of the Islamic nation.