The Prophet s.a.w., having given the message of Tawheed to the idol-worshippers in Makkah for ten years and getting insults and humiliation from them in return, finally found a fertile ground for planting the seed of the nation of Tawheed in Madinah. The Muslims, small in number, helpless and persecuted in Makkah, migrated to Madinah seeking a safe base for establishing Islam on the Earth. The Ansaars embraced them with warmth surpassing the warmth of blood. They were willing to give their lives and possessions for the sake of Allah and His messenger s.a.w.
However, the Muhajirin and the Ansaar combined did not yet have the military capacity that would repel the disbelievers from attempting to crush muslims, and with them tawhid, from the face of the Earth.
The muslims were practically in a state of war with the Quraish. who were highly annoyed at letting the Prophet s.a.w. slip from their grasp after having tried their best to kill him on the way. They were incited more than ever with rage to destroy Islam. They continued to persecute the Muslims who were still left in Makkah, and sent message to Madinah that they would kill the Muslims there as well.2 The Prophet s.a.w. also received word that plots were being hatched by the Qurayish against them.3 Moreover, the other desert Arabs were not happy with the muslims either. The Bedouins would look at them as their prey. Even the Arabs in Madinah who remained idol-worshippers joined hands with the Jews against Islam.
Madinah was thus under the microscope of attacks from the disbelievers from the outside as well as from the inside. Aware of all this, the Muslims went into an increased state of security. Guards were positioned around the prophet’s (saw) house.
In the light of this impending danger, Allah s.w.t. revealed the verse giving permission of Jihaad:
Permission to fight (against disbelievers) is given to those (believers) who are fought against, because they have been wronged; and surely, Allah is Able to give them (believers) victory. [22:39]
Consequently, the Muslims started training themselves. The Prophet s.a.w. encouraged his Companions to practice shooting, horse riding and wrestling in a number of hadith, mentioning bountiful rewards for these practices.
The Prophet s.a.w. said, ‘And prepare for them with whatever you can of force. Indeed, force is shooting! Indeed, force is shooting! Indeed, force is shooting!’ [Muslim]
It was reported from Abdu Najih Al Salami that the Prophet s.a.w. said, ‘Whoever hits the target with an arrow, it shall be a degree for him in paradise.’ Also, ‘Whoever shoots an arrow for the cause of Allah, it will be equivalent to freeing a slave.’ [Abu Dawud]
The Prophet s.a.w. also said, ‘Indeed God Almighty brings three people into paradise on account of one arrow: the maker, who expects a good reward for his deed, the one who shoots it and the one who hands it to him. So shoot and ride, and it is better for you to shoot than to ride.
‘All pastimes are vain; there is no praiseworthy pastime except three things: one’s training of one’s mare, one’s dallying with one’s wife and one’s shooting with one’s bow.
‘These are all of the truth; and whoever abandons shooting from dislike after having learnt it, then it is a bounty which he has left or for which he is ungrateful.’ [Abu Dawud]
The Prophet s.a.w. said about horse-riding: ‘Attached to the necks of horses is goodness until the Day of Judgement: reward and booty.’ [Bukhari]
He s.a.w. said that ‘a battle at sea is better than ten battles on land, and whoever crosses the sea, it is as if he has crossed all the valleys, and the person who is seasick is like the person who is stained by his own blood.’ [Al Hakim]
These were some of the initial measures taken by mulims in the light of building the base of the Islamic nation in Madinah. They paved the path towards victory in the subsequent historic battles and then the ultimate establishment of Islam on the Earth.
Why are we discussing all this? We (at least most of us) are not in a state of war, are we? The Prophet told his Companions, and through them he told us, to train ourselves and be prepared for all kinds of calamities. How many Muslims of today take heed of these messages? And how many of us have all kinds of diseases related to laziness, overeating and oversleeping: diabetes, heart diseases, brain strokes etc.? It is the duty of a Muslim to keep fit and be physically healthy, and therefore to take care of his/her health and engage in the sunnah activities like archery, horse-riding, swimming, and the modern versions of similar activities.
Point to ponder: In the early days of Islam, the generals of such powerful empires as the Byzantines and the Persians would shake in fear if they just heard the news that ‘the Muslims are coming.’ Each man among the Muslim army was equivalent to hundreds of disbelievers. And who consisted of these armies? Trained and equipped soldiers? No, these were the common people from among the Muslims. And today, when we look at ourself in the mirror, what do we see?
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- Fiqh us Seerah, al Ghazali, pg 233
- The Victorious One, Tertiary level Weekend Course by Shaykh Ala El Sayed, Al Kauthar Institute9
- Ar Raheeq al Makhtoom by Saifur Rahmad al Mubarakpuri, pg. 91