Defeat, forgiveness and reliance – Tarawih Reflections 18

Defeat, forgiveness and reliance - Tarawih Reflections 18

Following the victory at Badr, in which the Muslims defeated the Quraysh with a resounding victory on 17th Ramadan, the Quraysh wanted revenge. They had lost 70 fighters and 70 were injured, so they returned to fight them at Uhud the next year, with 3000 men. The Muslims began with 1000 men, but 300 abandoned the battle due to negativity spread by the hypocrites amongst them.

The Prophet ﷺ was the best leader and strategist. He stationed a dedicated groupof archers on Mount Uhud to protect the army from their rear. When the Muslims appeared to have won the battle, the group disobeyed the Prophet’s ﷺ orders not to leave their positions. Overjoyed that they had won, they rushed down to gather the spoils of war. Khalid bin Walid, the skilled military leader from the Quraysh side, who later became Muslim, astutely identified the gap and swiftly brought back his troops to attack. Catching the Muslims off guard, they lost around 70 of the Companions in contrast to 24 from Quraysh.

This bitter defeat was a new page. Allah taught us at Badr how to gain victory, but after Uhud He taught us many more lessons than Badr on how to cope with defeat. He recounts in 60 verses in Surat Ale Imran, how to deal with the aftermath from a Quranic perspective, including emotionally and psychologically.

The cause of the defeat was disobedience, not the lack of numbers. It was a deep lesson. It was the first time that the Prophet ﷺ was injured in battle, and came close to being killed. It was a humiliating day.


After that defeat, Allah Almighty revealed the following verse:

فَبِمَا رَحْمَةٍۢ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ لِنتَ لَهُمْ ۖ وَلَوْ كُنتَ فَظًّا غَلِيظَ ٱلْقَلْبِ لَٱنفَضُّوا۟ مِنْ حَوْلِكَ ۖ فَٱعْفُ عَنْهُمْ وَٱسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ وَشَاوِرْهُمْ فِى ٱلْأَمْرِ ۖ فَإِذَا عَزَمْتَ فَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يُحِبُّ ٱلْمُتَوَكِّلِينَ ١٥٩

It is out of Allah’s mercy that you ˹O Prophet˺ have been lenient with them. Had you been cruel or hard-hearted, they would have certainly abandoned you. So pardon them, ask Allah’s forgiveness for them, and consult with them in ˹conducting˺ matters. Once you make a decision, put your trust in Allah. Surely Allah loves those who trust in Him. [3:159]

Allah told the Prophet ﷺ that despite their disobedience, he should forgive them for disobeying him. Of course the Prophet ﷺ was angry that they had caused such a great loss of life, including the death of some of the best Companions, such as his uncle, Hamza due to their insubordination. Yet Allah said pardon them and ask Allah to forgive them. This was a new lesson that had to be learnt the hard way.

Consultation – Shura

He could have been harsh with them, but this was not his nature. He was rahma (mercy) from Allah. Moreover, Allah said on top of seeking forgiveness for them, he should consult them in  matters – do shura with them. He did not need to consult them, but through this injunction, we learn that this is how leaders should govern. The Prophet ﷺ needed no one, as he was supported by the revelation and Allah. All future leaders should follow this.

The Prophet ﷺ  consulted his Companions before the Battles of Badr and Uhud and on many occasions and listened to their opinions. Then Allah said once you have made a decision, put your trust in Him. This is tawakkul (reliance) after you’ve  done your due diligence. It is the opposite of tawaakul, which is laziness. i.e. not doing your homework, Allah loves those who do tawakkul on Him after they have done their bit.

Reliance – Tawakkul

In our situation now, our Ummah is facing many trials (fitan) and calamities. We need to have tawakkul in Allah. Let’s do our homework, put our trust in Allah, and move forward, rather than being sad and angry and doing nothing. We should try our best to defend our rights in all permissible ways. And trust Allah and do our consultation and cooperate with and support one another. Then we will make progress inshallah.

After that defeat, they never lost a battle. They learned the hard way. Inshallah our Ummah will learn, and we too are learning the hard way. Inshallah after this, will not suffer defeat again.

We ask Allah to protect us from all forms of oppression. Ameen.

Based on the reflections of Shaykh Haytham Tamim

Transcribed by Hana Khan

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Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.