What is dhatur riqah? What is the battle of dhatur riqah?

The Clans of Muharib and Salabah, of the Ghatafan tribe, joined forces to wage an attack on the Muslims, in response to which the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- marched out to meet them with a force of four-hundred Companions.

Seeing the Believers right in front of them in the flesh, the enemy lost its nerve and retreated. Soon after, the Believers communally offered the zuhr salat, whose time had come. Observing the Believers from a distance until the completion of the salat, the enemy afterwards began bemoaning the missed opportunity of not having ambushed them during those minutes. One of the clansmen, however, consoled his comrades.

“Don’t you worry,” he assured. “Their upcoming salat of asr is dearer to them than their fathers and sons.” They heeded and decided to wait until asr time.

Right at that moment, the Almighty sent Jibril -upon him peace- with the below Revelation that was to ruin their plans of attack.

“And when you are among them and keep up the prayer for them, let a party of them stand up with you, and let them take their arms; then when they have prostrated themselves let them go to your rear, and let another party who have not prayed come forward and pray with you, and let them take their precautions and their arms; (for) those who disbelieve desire that you may be careless of your arms and your luggage, so that they may then turn upon you with a sudden united attack, and there is no blame on you, if you are annoyed with rain or if you are sick, that you lay down your arms, and take your precautions; surely Allah has prepared a disgraceful chastisement for the unbelievers.” (an-Nisa, 102) (Tirmidhi, Tafsir, 4/3035)

This specific type of salat has come to be known as salat’ul-khawf, or of fear.[2] Jibril -upon him peace- personally taught the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- how to offer it. The asr salat, that day, was offered in this manner and the wait of the enemy, whose sole hopes had rested on those few moments of salat, proved futile. The campaign, which all up lasted fifteen days, concluded with the complete retreat of the terrified clansmen.[3]

The account given by Abu Musa al-Ashari -Allah be well-pleased with him- is in reference to the campaign. “We had set out on a campaign with the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace-. Six of us were taking turns in riding a camel. Our feet had become blistered from walking. So were mine; my nails had even fallen off. We were wrapping pieces of cloth around our feet and hence the name of the campaign, Dhat’ur-Riqa.”

Abu Burdah, who narrated these words from Abu Musa  -Allah be well-pleased with him-, then added, “After having explained all that, Abu Musa felt a sudden regret, saying, ‘I did not do the right thing by telling you this’, to express his remorse. What worried him was perhaps that he revealed a feat of bravery he had undergone for the sake of Allah only.” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 31)

Neither poverty nor lack of opportunity prevented the Companions from fulfilling their duties and going on jihad in the way of Allah, glory unto Him. Regardless, they would be utterly sensitive not to expose even a clue of the hardships that they endured in the way of obeying the Almighty, unless it became really necessary in realizing a positive purpose, like providing a lesson for others or solace for the oppressed.

During the campaign, the Seal of the Prophets -upon him blessings and peace- asked some water to take wudu. Yet, there was no water around. The Blessed Messenger -upon him blessings and peace- thereupon dipped his hands into a bucket with very little water at its base, after which each of his fingers miraculously turned into fonts springing forth plenty of water. The entire Companions were able to quench their thirst. The bucket, even after the Prophet of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- removed his hands from out of it, was still full with water.[4]

The Muslim army reached a wooded valley, around noon, while returning from the Dhat’ur-Riqa Campaign where the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- decided to take a break. The Companions, too, went their own ways to take some rest under the cool shades of trees. The Prophet of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- had also withdrawn under a samurah, a densely leafed tree, hanging his sword on a branch. The Companions had just snoozed off when they heard the Prophet of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- call them. They immediately ran next to the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- where they saw a Bedouin standing next to him.

“This man took hold of my sword while I was sleeping”, explained the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace-. “When I woke up, the sword was in his hand, removed from its scabbard. ‘Who will save you from my hands now?’ he asked; ‘Allah!’ I replied, three times.” (Bukhari, Jihad, 84, 87; Muslim, Fadail, 13)

The Noble Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- did not resort to punishing the Bedouin who had attempted to take his life and instead invited him to Islam. Virtually melting at the face of this magnanimous behavior, upon returning to his tribesmen, the Bedouin could not help but say, “I have just returned from the best of mankind!” (Hakim, III, 31/4322)

On the return to Medina towards evening, the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- decided on another stopover and asked for volunteers from among the Companions to keep watch while the others rested. Volunteering without giving it a second thought were Ammar ibn Yasir -Allah be well-pleased with him- of the Muhajirun, and Abbad ibn Bishr -Allah be well-pleased with him- of the Ansar. Abbad then asked Ammar which part of the night he preferred to stand and keep guard.

“The latter half of the night,” said Ammar -Allah be well-pleased with him-. He then lied down, falling asleep not long after. Abbad -Allah be well-pleased with him- then began offering salat, which was when an idolater clandestinely approached from a distance; and noticing Abbad’s shadow as he stood, shot an arrow which pierced through Abbad. But Abbad gathered his strength, removed the arrow and continued his salat regardless. This did nothing to dissuade the enemy archer, who shot a second, even a third arrow, both of which hit Abbad, who, each time, was standing his ground, removing the arrows as they struck him and continuing his salat from where had left off. Abbad then eventually bowed for ruku, went down for sajdah and completed his salat by giving salam. Only then did he inform his comrade:

“Wake up Ammar; I have been wounded”, he said in a soft voice. Ammar woke up at the instant. The archer, sensing he was now noticed by the Companions, made tracks. But by now, Abbad lay heavily wounded.

Subhanallah”, exclaimed Ammar. “Why did you not wake me up when you were first shot?”

Poised, Abbad gave the following response, vividly elucidating his enthusiastic love for salat:

“I was reciting a surah of the Quran and I did not want to break my salat before having completed its recital. But when the arrows hit me one after another I stopped reciting and bowed to ruqu. But by Allah, had there not been a fear of losing this spot whose protection the Messenger of Allah ordered, I would have preferred death over cutting my recital of the surah short.” (Abu Dawud, Taharat, 78/198; Ahmad, III, 344; Ibn Hisham, III, 219; Waqidi, I, 397)

Riding a frail camel, Jabir -Allah be well-pleased with him- was continuously falling behind his friends during the return. The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- went next to him to inquire why he was falling behind. As soon as Jabir -Allah be well-pleased with him- explained the reason, the Prophet of Mercy -upon him blessings and peace- gently poked the camel a few times with a stick. The camel picked up so great a pace that it even began going head to head with the Prophet’s own camel.

The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- then began talking to Jabir -Allah be well-pleased with him-, finding out that he had just been married and was therefore burdened with some debt. The Prophet of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- then asked Jabir what he owned.

“Only a camel”, replied Jabir -Allah be well-pleased with him-. The Prophet of Mercy -upon him blessings and peace- then asked Jabir to sell his camel to him, as a means to help him pay off his debt. Jabir agreed, on the condition that the he was allowed to ride it until they reached Medina. After they stepped foot on Medinan soil, holding the camel by the halter, Jabir  -Allah be well-pleased with him- arrived at the door of the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- to hand over the camel. He was met, however, with a pleasant surprise. Not only did the Noble Messenger -upon him blessings and peace- pay the price of the camel he also returned it back to Jabir as present. (Bukhari, Jihad, 49; Buyu’, 34; Muslim, Musaqat, 109)

Jabir -Allah be well-pleased with him- himself recounts:

“While returning with the camel after the Messenger of Allah’s -upon him blessings and peace- generous gesture, I saw a Jewish acquaintance of mine. I told him what had just happened. Astonished, the Jew kept on repeating, ‘so he paid for the camel then returned it, ha?’ I had to assure him each time.” (Ahmad, III, 303)

So moved were the Believers after hearing the Blessed Prophet’s -upon him blessings and peace- extreme act of benevolence, they remembered this night as Laylat’ul-Bair, the Night of the Camel.

[title] There are also reports that suggest that the campaign took place after Handak or Khaybar. We have, however, preferred to follow this sequence, in accordance with the opinions of the majority of scholars of the life and the times of the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-.

[2] The salat’ul-khawf or the salat of fear is where a group takes turns to perform a given salat behind a single imam, when threatened with a serious danger like an impending enemy attack. The first group, which performs the first rakah of a two rakah salat, or the first two of a four rakah salat, leaves the salat to watch guard over the group, after the second sajdah –in a two rakah salat- or the first qaadah –in a four rakah salat. The second group in line then comes and completes the remainder of the rakahs of the salat behind the imam, after which they leave to take over the duty of keeping guard. The imam gives salam to end the salat, by himself. That is when the members first group return once again to complete their salat, without any qiraah, that is, recitation of the Quran, however, for they are considered as lahiq, i.e. a person who leaves the salat owing to an excuse although having joined the imam right at the start. After their completion, the members of the second group follow, who however, complete their salat with qiraah, as they are considered masbuk, i.e. a person who joins the imam after the first rakah of a given salat. Thereby, neither the salat, nor the duty is neglected. (Komisyon, Diyânet İlmihâli, I, 334; Hamdi Döndüren, Delilleriyle İslâm İlmihâli, p.377-378)

[3] Ibn Hisham, III, 214-221; Ibn Saad, II, 61.

[4] Bukhari, Wudu, 32; Manakib, 25; Muslim, Fadail, 5.

Source: Osman Nuri Topbaş, The Prophet Muhammed Mustafa the Elect II, Erkam Publications

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