Seerah – Life of the Prophet: The Sacrilegious War
Episode 18: The Sacrilegious War
Welcome to Seerah Pearls, which aims to highlight some tantalising learning points from each episode of the Seerah- Life of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
Between the ages of 15-20 years old, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) had some profound experiences which had a huge impact on him. One incident was that of the Harb-ul-Fijar: the ‘Sacrilegious’ war. ‘Fijar’ relates to something which is inappropriate and in violation of the ethics, morals or religion of the people at that time.
The conflict started because of a dispute between two men, one from Quraysh and another from a tribe in Ta’if. The man from Quraysh had some customers, who the man from Ta’if also approached to take their business for himself. Later, the man from Quraysh attacked and killed the man from Ta’if on account of his anger. As well as being unjust, this murder also occurred in one of the 4 sacred months, when killing was forbidden, hence the name ‘Sacrilegious War’.
The infuriated tribe from Ta’if gathers an army and heads to Makkah. The Quraysh were upset with the Qurayshi who killed the man unjustly, but due to tribal allegiances, they felt compelled to defend the tribe’s honour, instead of acting justly e.g. paying blood money. A stalemate ensues: neither tribe wishes to hold a full-scale war, because the stakes are high: neither wanted to see their areas desecrated. The conflict remained for about 5 years, with only 5 days of actual fighting.
The Prophet’s (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) uncles were heading out to fight. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was at an age when it was expected he would participate in defending the tribe. However, he disliked to participate because of the unjust pretext the war was being engaged under. Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) managed to avoid the first 2 days, but had to go on the third and fiercest day. The majority say his role was that of collecting the arrowheads and lining them up for the warriors to use: he never unjustly raised a sword against anyone.
At the end of the 5 years, the leaders of both tribes sat together for discussions: they could not even remember why they were fighting. Both sides agreed to forgiveness.