Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 6.djvu/44

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the qur′ân

the disaffected party who deserted before the battle commenced.

Mohammed had disposed his forces so that his best trained archers covered the only vulnerable part of his army, the left flank, and these he bade keep to their posts, no matter what happened. The battle commenced with a few single combats and slight skirmishes, in which the Muslims had the advantage, and a few of the latter having reached and pillaged the enemies′ camp, the archers, thinking the day already won, forgot their orders and joined in the loot. ‘Hâlid, who commanded the Meccan cavalry, seized the opportunity thus afforded, and took the Muslims on the flank and completely routed them. Mohammed himself was wounded in the mouth and narrowly escaped with his life, and ‘Hamzah, his uncle, surnamed the Lion of God, was slain.

The Meccans did not pursue their victory, but believing Mohammed, whom they had seen fall, to be dead, returned to their own city.

The defeat placed Mohammed in a very critical position, and he had great difficulty in restoring confidence to his followers[1].

About the beginning of the year 627 A.D. the Muslims were in great jeopardy. 4,000 Meccans and 1,000 men, gathered from the neighbouring tribes, marched upon Medînah, being instigated thereto by the Jews who had been expelled from that city.

Mohammed was only apprised of the movement at the last moment, but he at once took measures for the defence. On the advice of Salmân, a Persian captive, he caused a deep trench to be dug round the city, and earthworks to be raised in those parts where it was undefended, and behind the trench he posted his army, numbering 3,000 men. The invading Meccans were completely checked by this mode of defence, and although the Beni Qurâidhah, a Jewish tribe, deserted to them from Mohammed's side and