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The Holy Struggle in the Way of God

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Prophet Muhammad as Commander

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Jihad denotes, literally, doing one's utmost to achieve something. It is not the equivalent of war, for which the Arabic word is qital. It has a wider connotation and embraces every kind of striving in God's cause. A mujahid is a person who is sincerely devoted to his cause, who uses all his physical, intellectual and spiritual capacity to serve it and employs all the force he commands in confronting any power which might stand in its way, and, whenever necessary, does not shirk risking his very life for it. All this is jhad. Jihad in the way of God is that striving in which man engages exclusively to win God's good pleasure, to establish the supremacy of His religion and to make His Word prevail.

Besides the holy struggle, the principle of amr bi'l-ma'ruf wa nahy an al-munkar (enjoining the good and forbidding the evil) seeks to convey the Message of Islam to all human beings in the world and to establish a model Islamic community on a world-wide basis. The Islamic community is introduced by the Qur'an as a model community, one that is required to make every effort in either communicating to mankind what the Prophet communicated to them, or in exemplifying in their own lives what the Prophet, by his own conduct, translated into actual practice: Thus, We have made you a community justly balanced, that you might be witnesses for all mankind, and the Messenger may be a witness for you (al-Baqara, 2.143).

Aspects of the holy struggle in the way of God

The first Revelation which came to God's Messenger was the command read!. This command, coming as it did at a time when there was nothing yet to read, meant that a believer should exercise all his faculties, intellectual and spiritual, in discerning God's acts in the universe and His laws in the creation and operation of the universe. Through this discernment, he is to purify himself, his mind, of all the superstitions coming from ignorance and, through observation and contemplation, equip himself with true knowledge.

Man is not a being composed of only the mind; God has endowed him with many faculties each of which needs satisfaction. So, while feeding his mind, on the one hand, with Divine 'signs' manifested in the universe, he will cleanse his 'heart', on the other, of all his sins. He will live a balanced life in awareness of being supervised by God and continuously ask for His forgiveness. He will break, through seeking God's forgiveness, the desires of his carnal self for forbidden things, and, through prayer, he will ask God to enable him to always do good deeds.

The command read!, thus signifies an action. For God's Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, it meant that, since God's Messenger was absolutely pure in spirit and had no superstitions at all, he would have to start his mission as a Messenger of God. He was to recite to people the Revelations of God, and instruct them in His signs in the universe, and by doing that, he would purify their minds of all the superstitions of the Age of Ignorance and their hearts of all their sins. He would enlighten them, intellectually and spiritually, by instructing them in both the 'Revealed Book of God', the Qur'an, and His 'Created Book', that is, the universe:

We have sent among you, of yourselves, a Messenger who recites to you Our signs, purifies you, and instructs you in the Book and in the Wisdom, and also instructs you in what you know not. (al-Baqara, 2.151)

Men are in some sense like raw minerals to be worked upon by the Prophets, who purify and refine them by removing the seal from their hearts and ears, and by lifting the veils from their eyes. Enlightened by the Message of the Prophets, men are enabled to understand the meaning of the Divine laws of nature, which are signs of the existence and Unity of God, and to penetrate into the subtle reality of things and events. Only through the guidance of the Prophets can mankind attain the high status expected of them by God.

In addition to teaching the signs, the Prophets also instructed men in the Book and in Wisdom. As the Qur'an was the last Revelation to the Last Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, God means the Qur'an when He speaks of the Scripture, and the Sunnah when He speaks of Wisdom. One must therefore follow the Qur'an and the Sunnah, the example of the Prophet, if one desires to be rightly guided.

The Prophet also teaches us what we do not know and humanity will continue to learn from the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, until the Day of Judgement. We learn from him how to purify ourselves of sins. By following his way, many great saints have attained their distinctions as saints. Among them 'Ali says that his belief in the Unseen and the essentials of Islam is so firm that even if the veil of the Unseen were lifted, his certainty would not increase. Many others such as Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, Imam Ghazali, Imam Rabbani, Fudayl ibn 'Iyad, Ibrahim ibn Adham and Bishr al-Khafi might well have been endowed with Prophethood, if God had not already set a seal on Prophethood.

The dark clouds of ignorance were removed from man's intellectual horizon through the guidance of the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, and many more advances will be made in science and technology as a result of the light he brought from God.

A believer keeps his belief vigorous and active by means of the holy struggle in the way of God. Just as a tree keeps its leaves as long as it yields fruits and is fed from earth, so a believer can preserve vigour as long as he struggles in the way of God. Whenever you encounter a hopeless pessimist, you will soon realize that he is one who has abandoned this struggle. Whoever continues to struggle in the way of God never loses his enthusiasm and always tries to increase the scope of his activities.

There are two aspects of jihad. One is fighting against superstitions and wrong convictions and also against carnal desires and evil inclinations, and therefore enlightenment both intellectually and spiritually, which is called the greater jihad; the other is encouraging others to achieve the same objective and is called the lesser jihad.

The lesser jihad, which has usually been taken to mean fighting for God's cause, does not refer only to the form of striving done on battlefields. The term is comprehensive. It includes every action from speaking out to presenting oneself on the battlefield - provided the action is done for God's sake. Whether speaking or keeping silent, smiling or making a sour face, joining a meeting or leaving it, every action taken to ameliorate the lot of humanity, whether by individuals or communities, is included in the meaning of the lesser jihad.

While the lesser jihad depends on the mobilization of all the material facilities and is performed in the outer world, the greater jihad means a person's fighting against his carnal self. These two forms of jihad cannot be separated from each other. Only those who triumph over their carnal selves can perform the lesser jihad, which, in turn helps man to succeed in the geater jihad.

Although the man who abandons the lesser jihad is liable to spiritual deterioration, he may recover. Everything in the universe praises and glorifies God with its every breath and is, accordingly, a sign of the existence and Unity of God: a man may be guided to the Straight Path through one of these signs. For this reason, it is said that there are as many paths leading to the Straight Path of God as the breaths of all His creatures. A man returning from the lesser jihad is vulnerable to worldly weaknesses. Pride, love of comfort and ease may captivate him after a victory, and he may think it is time to relax and indulge in such things. These are some of the perils awaiting one who has returned from the lesser jihad. It is for this reason that the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, warned us through his Companions: returning to Madina after a victory, he said: We are returning from the lesser jihad to the greater. However, to secure God's help and protection and be successful in the greater jihad, in fighting against animal desires and impulses, depend upon supporting His religion. If anyone wants to be safe from going astray, then his aim in life must be striving for God's sake, and his actions, including the simplest - eating, sleeping, choosing and training for an occupation, etc. - must be directed towards this objective. God declares in the Qur'an:

O believers! If you help [the religion of] God, God will help you and make your feet firm [in practising your religion and against Satan, your carnal selves and enemies]. (Muhammad, 47.7)

The Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, combined these two aspects of jihad in the most perfect way in his person. He displayed monumental courage on battlefields. 'Ali, who was one of the most courageous heroes of Islam, confesses that the Companions took shelter behind the Prophet at the most critical moments of the fighting. To give an example, when the Muslim army experienced a reverse and began to scatter in the first phase of the Battle of Hunayn, he urged his horse towards the enemy lines and shouted to call back his soldiers who were retreating: I am a Prophet, this is no lie! I am the grandson of 'Abd al-Muttalib, this is no lie!

As he was the most courageous of all human beings on battlefields, so he was the most devoted in worshipping God. He was consumed with love and fear in his prayer, and those who saw him felt great tenderness towards him. He frequently fasted every other day or even in successive days. Sometimes he would spend almost the whole night in prayer and his feet would swell up as a result of long periods of standing in prayer. As recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari, once 'A'isha thought his persistence in prayer excessive, so she asked him why he exhausted himself so much considering that all his sins had been forgiven. Shall I not be a slave grateful to God? came the reply.

The Messenger of God, upon him be peace and blessings, sometimes got up to pray without wakening his wife since he did not want to disturb her sleep. Traditionists such as Muslim, Tirmidhi and Haythami relate, again, from 'A'isha that one night she woke up to find the Messenger was not beside her in bed. Thinking that he might be visiting another of his wives, she became jealous. She started to get up, when her hand touched the Prophet's feet in the darkness. He was in prostration and saying in his prayer: O God! I seek refuge in Your pleasure from Your wrath, in Your forgiveness from Your punishment, and with You from You. I am not able to praise You as You do praise Yourself.

Like the Prophet Muhammad himself, upon him be peace and blessings, his Companions, may God be pleased with them all, were also as fierce as lions on battlefields on the one hand, and as sincere and humble as dervishes in worshipping God on the other. Those victorious warriors used to spend their nights in prayer to God. Once, as Ibn Hanbal relates, when night fell during a battle, two of them had to take turns in standing guard. One took his rest while the other began to pray. Having become aware of the situation, the enemy shot a shower of arrows at him. He was hit and bled profusely but did not abandon his prayer. When he finished his devotions, he woke his friend, who asked him in amazement why he had not woken him sooner. His reply was: 'I was reciting surah al-Kahf, so I did not wish the deep pleasure I found in this prayer to be interrupted.'

They were very sincere in their deeds; they did everything for God's sake only, and never failed to discipline themselves. 'Umar was once giving a sermon, when he suddenly introduced the following words without any apparent reason: 'O 'Umar! You were a shepherd pasturing your father's sheep!' When asked after the prayer why he had said that, he answered: 'It came to my mind that I was the Caliph, so I became afraid of feeling proud.' One day he was seen carrying a sack upon his back. When asked why he was doing that, he replied: 'I felt some pride within me, so I desired to get rid of it.'

Only jihad performed by such perfect souls as these produce effective results. Those who have not been able to get rid of pride, self-regard and insincerity, will most probably bring much damage to the cause of Islam and will never obtain the hoped for result. Jihad needs self-control on the one hand, and preaching of the truth on the other. It requires both the overcoming of one's carnal desires and animal impulses and the encouragement of others to do the same in order to obtain God's good pleasure. To neglect the former produces anarchy in the society, while neglect of the latter results in laziness. The Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, expresses these two aspects of jihad together in one of his sayings: The eyes of the two persons will never witness the fire of Hell: The eyes of the soldier who keeps guard at frontiers and on battlefields and the eyes of the man who sheds tears for fear of God.

In surah al-Nasr, the Qur'an describes both types of jihad: When the help of God comes, and victory, and you see men entering God's religion in throngs, then glorify the praise of your Lord, and seek His forgiveness; for He is Relenting, Merciful.

When the believers performed the lesser jihad whether by fighting on battlefields against those who waged war on them or tried to prevent them from worshipping One God only, or preaching the truth and enjoining the right and good and forbidding the wrong and evil, God's help and victory came, and men began to enter Islam in throngs. At that moment the Almighty decreed that His praises should be glorified and His forgiveness should be sought. As all success and victory are from God, it is only He who must be praised and worshipped.

Stages of the holy struggle in the way of God

After he received the first Revelation, the command read!, God's Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, returned home in excitement. He was sleeping wrapped in a cloak, 'enwrapped' by the suffering of people and the heaviness of his responsibility, when God commanded him:

O you enwrapped one! Keep vigil the night long, save a little (a half of it, or diminish a little, or add a little), and chant the Qur'an in measure. For We shall charge you with a word of weight. (al-Muzzammil, 73.1-5)

The short period between the first revelation and the beginning of the communication of the Message to the others, the period marked by verses such as those above was of a preliminary kind for God's Messenger. He had to prepare himself to perform the duty of conveying God's Word of Weight, the Qur'an. He was to keep vigil the night long and recite the Qur'an in measure, because the vigil of the night is a time when impression is more keen and recitation more penetrating.

As was explained above, the holy struggle in the way of God entails, besides conveying the Message to others, a believer's struggle with his carnal self to build his genuine, spiritual character, overflowing with belief and inflamed with love. A believer's struggle in the way of God, with these two dimensions of it, continues, in the individual sphere, until the believer's death, and up to the Last Day in the collective sphere. So, a short while after God's Messenger received the order to keep vigil the night long, the following revelation came to him:

O you enshrouded one, arise and warn! Your Lord magnify; Your robes purify and defilement flee! And show not favour, seeking worldly gain! For the sake of your Lord, be patient! (al-Muddaththir, 74.1-7)

By these revelations, the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, was ordered to begin the preaching of Islam. He started from his relatives of the nearest kin and, after the command, Warn your tribe of nearest kindred (al-Shu'ara', 26.214), his call encompassed his tribe. This was followed by public preaching and, predictably, by reactions such as derisions, threats, tortures, offers of the most alluring kind and boycotting.

In Makka, God's Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, never resorted to, nor allowed, retaliation. For Islam came not to make mischief nor to cause dissensions among people. It came, in the words of Amir ibn Rabi', the Muslim envoy to the Persian commander in the war of Qadisiyyah during the caliphate of 'Umar, to bring people out of the darkness of unbelief into the light of belief, to free them from 'servanthood' to servants to make them the servants of One God, and to elevate them from the pit of 'earth' to the height of 'heaven'. Also, as stated earlier, Islam, literally meaning peace, salvation and submission, came to establish peace, first, in the inner worlds of human beings themselves, making them at peace with God, nature and themselves, and, then, in the entire world and universe. For this reason, peace and order are fundamental in Islam. It always seeks to spread in a peaceful atmosphere and refrains from resorting to force as much as possible. Islam never approves injustice in whatever form it is, and severely forbids bloodshed. According to the Qur'an:

Whoever slays a soul not to retaliate for a soul slain or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had slain all mankind, and whoever 'gives life' to a soul, it shall be as if he had 'given life' to the whole of mankind. (al-Ma'idah, 5.32)

Coming to eradicate injustice and corruption on the earth, and to 'unite' the earth with the heavens in peace and harmony, Islam seeks to call people with wisdom and fair exhortation, and does not resort to force until those who desire to maintain the corrupted order they built on injustice, oppression, self-interest and exploitation of others and usurpation of their rights, resist it to prevent its preaching. Thus, Islam allows the use of force in the following cases:

1. If unbelievers or polytheists or those who make mischief and corruption on the earth resist the preaching of Islam and try to block its way of conquering the minds and hearts of people. Being a God-revealed religion of truth, Islam aims to secure the well-being and happiness of mankind in both worlds and therefore has the right to enjoy the freedom of presenting itself to people. In case it is resisted or prevented, it offers its enemies three alternatives: either they will accept Islam, or allow its preaching or admit its rule. If they reject all three alternatives, Islam allows the use of force.

2. God permitted His Messenger to resort to the 'sword' only after he emigrated to Madina and established an independent state there. This permission was given because the Muslims were wronged (al-Hajj, 22.39). The verses revealed to express this permission are worth mentioning in order to understand the true nature of war in Islam and for what purposes it was made lawful:

(Fighting is) permitted to those who are fought against, because they have been wronged; and surely God is able to give them victory. Those who have been driven from their homes unjustly only because they said: 'Our Lord is God'. For had it not been for God's repelling some men by means of others, cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the Name of God is much mentioned, would assuredly have been pulled down. Assuredly God helps one who helps Him [His religion]. Surely God is All-Strong, All-Mighty. Those who, if We give them power in the land, establish worship and pay the poor-due and enjoin the good and forbid the evil. And God's is the sequel of events. (al-Hajj, 22. 39-41)

It is clear from the verses above, and has been witnessed by history, that Islam resorts to force in order to defend itself and establish the freedom of belief. So, under the rule of Islam, the followers of other religions - Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Hindus, etc. - are free to practise their religion. It is a historical fact which has been acknowledged even by many Western writers, that Christians and Jews have lived the most prosperous and happiest period of their history under the rule of Islam.

3. Islam, being the true religion revealed by God, the Lord of the Worlds, the All-Just and All-Compassionate, never approves any injustice in any part of the world. Besides, as declared in the verse, Surely We have written (decreed) in the Psalms after the Torah (and remind once more in the Qur'an) that My righteous servants will inherit the earth. (Al-Anbiya', 21.105), the righteous servants of God are charged with the duty of submitting the earth to God's rule, which depends on absolute justice and worship of only One God. They are also obliged to strive until persecution and the worship and obedience of false deities and unjust tyrants come to an end. For this reason, Islam orders its followers to fight for the cause of the feeble and oppressed among world people:

How should you not fight for the cause of God and of the feeble and oppressed among men and women and children, who are crying: 'Our Lord! Bring us forth from out of this town whose people are oppressors! Oh, give us from your presence some protecting friend! Oh, give us from Your presence some defender!' (al-Nisa', 4.75)

Some rules of the struggle in the way of God

A believer cannot transgress the limits established by God. Therefore, he must observe the rules prescribed by God for fighting. Some of these rules which we have deduced from the Qur'an and the practice of the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, are as follows:

1. A believer is one from whom God has bought his life and wealth in exchange for Paradise (al-Tawbah, 9.111). He has dedicated himself to the cause of God and intends only to gain His good pleasure. So, whoever fights for other causes such as fame or material gain, or for racial or other ideological considerations of similar nature, he will not be regarded as a fighter with whom God is pleased.

2. God decrees in the Qur'an:

Fight in the way of God against those who fight against you, but do not transgress. God does not love transgressors. (al-Baqara, 2.190)

The believers are told that they should not take up arms against those who are not in opposition to the true faith, and that they should not resort to unscrupulous methods or to the indiscriminate killing and pillage which have characterized the wars of every era of ignorance, whether in the past or at present. The excesses alluded to in the verse above are acts such as taking up arms against women and children, the old and the injured, mutilation of the dead bodies of the enemy, devastation through the destruction of fields and livestock, and other similar acts of injustice and brutality. The verse stresses that force should be used only when its use is unavoidable, and only to the extent that is absolutely necessary.

3. Where fighting is absolutely necessary and inevitable, the holy Qur'an exhorts believers not to avoid fighting. To this end:

a) They must not show any neglect in making the necessary preparations and taking the required precautions. They must prepare themselves morally and attain the spiritual state that twenty of them can overcome two hundred of the enemy:

O Prophet! Exhort the believers to fight. If there be of you twenty steadfast men they shall overcome two hundred, and if there be of you a hundred steadfast they shall overcome a thousand of those who do not believe, because they [the unbelievers] are a folk without understanding and sound judgement. (al-Anfal, 8.65)

Those who knew that they would meet their Lord exclaimed: 'How many a little company has overcome a mighty host by God's leave! God is with the steadfast.' (al-Baqara, 2.249)

In order to attain such a rank, the belief and trust of a Muslim in God should be very strong, and he should do his utmost to refrain from sins. Belief and God-fearing are two unbreakable 'weapons' of a Muslim, his two sources of inexhaustible power :

Faint not nor grieve, for you shall surely gain the upper hand if you are true men of faith. (Al-'Imran, 3.139)

The sequel is for the God-fearing people. (al-A'raf, 7.128)

b) Besides the moral strength coming from sound belief and God-fearing, believers should also equip themselves with the most sophisticated weaponry. Force has an important place in obtaining the desired result, so believers cannot be indifferent to it. Rather, they must be much more advanced in science and technology than unbelievers so that they should not allow unbelievers to use 'force' for their selfish benefit. According to Islam, 'right is might'; so, in order to prevent might from being right in the hands of unbelievers and oppressors, believers must be mightier than others. This is explicit in the Qur'an:

Make ready for them all you can of armed force and of horses tethered, that thereby you may dismay the enemy of God and your enemy, and others beside them whom you know not, God knows them. Whatever you spend in the way of God it will be repaid to you in full, and you will not be wronged. (al-Anfal, 8.60)

An Islamic state should be so powerful as to discourage the party of unbelief and oppression from attempting to attack it, nor should they be able to contemplate subjugating weak states of the world. It should be able to secure peace and justice in the world and no power should have the courage to make corruption in any part of the earth. This will be possible when Muslims equip themselves with a strong belief and righteousness in all their affairs, and also with scientific knowledge and the most sophisticated technology. They must combine science and technology with faith and good morals and use them in the service of humankind. For, as stated at the beginning of the chapter, belief in God calls for serving people and the deeper one is in belief in God, the deeper one's concern for the created. When Muslims attain to this rank, God will never give unbelievers any way (of success) against the believers (al-Nisa', 4.141). Otherwise, what the Prophet predicted will happen. (The forces of unbelief) will be united to make a concerted attack upon you. They will snatch the morsel out of your mouths and pillage your table. (1)

c) When fighting is unavoidable, Muslims must not hesitate to take up arms and hasten to the front. The Qur'an exhorts Muslims to fight when necessary and severely reprimands those who show reluctance in mobilizing in the way of God:

O you who believe! What ails you that when it is said unto you, 'Go forth in the way of God', you sink down heavily to the ground. Are you so content with the life of the world, rather than the world to come? Yet the enjoyment of the life of the world, compared with the world to come, is a little thing. If you go not forth, He will afflict you with a painful doom, and instead of you He will substitute another people; and you will not hurt Him anything. God is powerful over everything. (al-Tawbah, 9.38-39)

God loves those who battle for His cause in ranks, as if they were a solid structure. (al-Saff, 61.4)

O you who believe! Shall I show you a commerce that will save you from a painful doom? You should believe in God and His Messenger, and should strive for the cause of God with your wealth and your lives. That is better for you, if you did but know. He will forgive you your sins and admit you into Gardens underneath which rivers flow, and to dwelling places goodly in Gardens of Eden. That is the mighty triumph; and other things you love, help from God and a nigh victory. Give you good tidings to believers. (al-Saff, 61. 10-13)

d) A community is like a 'body' in structure and functioning; like a body, it demands a "head" having intellect. Therefore, obedience to the 'head' is of great significance for the prosperity of the community.

When God's Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, was raised in the desert of Arabia, the people resembled the scattered beads of a rosary. They were unaware of the importance of obedience and the benefits of collective life. God's Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, inculcated in them the feeling of obedience - obedience to God, His Messenger and to their superiors - and used Islam as an unbreakable rope to unite them:

O you who believe! Obey God, and obey the Messenger and those of you who are in authority; and if you have a dispute concerning any matter, refer it to God and the Messenger if you believe in God and the Last Day. That is better and more seemly in the end. (al-Nisa', 4.59)

O you who believe! When you meet an army, hold firm and remember and mention God much, that you may be successful. And obey God and His Messenger, and dispute not one with another lest you falter and your strength depart from you; but be steadfast! God is with the steadfast. (al-Anfal, 8. 45-46)

It was because of the consciousness of obedience which God's Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, developed in his Companions that when he appointed a young man of eighteen, the son of his emancipated slave, as a commander over an army in which many elders like Abu Bakr, 'Umar and 'Uthman were present, none of the Companions thought of objecting to him. (2) Likewise, in a military expedition, the commander ordered his soldiers to throw themselves into the fire they lighted. This was not an Islamic order, but some attempted to obey it. However, the others prevented them from committing a suicide and persuaded them to refer the matter to God's Messenger and ask him whether they had to obey even the un-Islamic orders of the authority. (3) Although it is unlawful to obey sinful orders, obedience is of vital importance in the collective life of a community, particularly to become victorious in a war.

e) One of the important points to be mentioned concerning jihad is that a believer cannot flee the battlefield. He must be steadfast in fighting and must not turn his back on the enemy in battle. Concerning this, the Qur'an decrees:

O you who believe! When you meet in battle those who do not believe turn not your backs to them. Whoever on that day turns his back to them, unless manoeuvring for battle or intent to join a company, he has truly incurred wrath from God, and his habitation will be Hell - an evil homecoming! (al-Anfal, 8.15-16)

Fleeing on the battlefield is one of the seven major, perilous sins. For the one who commits this grave sin causes disorder in the Muslim ranks and demoralizes the others. He cannot be regarded as having firm belief in God and the Hereafter and his action means that he prefers the world over afterlife. A believer may leave the battlefield only to manoeuvre in battle or as a tactic or to join another company to fight in more appropriate conditions.

In the Battle of Yarmuk during the caliphate of Abu Bakr, may God be pleased with him, 20 thousand valiant men fought against 200 thousand Byzantines, and won the victory. Qabbas ibn Ashyam was one of the heroes of this battle. He lost one of his legs around noon, but he became aware of it only hours later when he dismounted from his horse. Years later, his grandson introduced himself to the Caliph 'Umar ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz, saying: 'O Caliph! I am the grandson of the one who lost his leg at noon but became aware of it towards evening.'

The Muslim army was made up of three thousand valiants in the Battle of Muta which they fought against the Byzantine army of about 100 thousand men. They fought heroically, and both of the armies retreated at the same time. Despite this, the Muslim soldiers regarded themselves as having fled the battlefield and were ashamed to go in the presence of God's Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings. However, the Prophet welcomed them and consoled them, saying: You did not flee. You retreated to join me. You will collect strength and go to fight with them again. (4) It happened just as God's Messenger foretold when the Muslim army formed by himself just before his death raided the southern part of Syria and two years later the Muslims dealt the Byzantines a deadly blow in the Battle of Yarmuk.

1. Abu Dawud, Malahim, 5; I. Hanbal, 5.278.
2.Muslim, Fada'il al-Sahabah, 63; Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah, 336.
3.Muslim, 'Imarah, 39; I. Maja, Jihad, 40.
4.Abu Dawud. Jihad, 96; Tirmidhi, Jihad, 36; I. Hanbal, 2.70, 86.