Scholars On The Incident At Bir Maona

Scholars On The Incident At Bir Maona

Mohamad Mostafa Nassar


Scholars on Bir Maona incident, where many Muslims were murdered for merely proclaiming the message of Islam.

Shaykh Allamah Shibli Nomani:

In the month of Safar of the same year, Abu Bara, the chief of the tribe of Kilab came to the Prophet (p) and asked him to send with him a few Muslims in order to preach to his tribe. The Holy Prophet (p) remarked that he feared mischief from Nejd. Abu Bara replied that he himself stood their security.

The Prophet agreed and sent 70 Ansaris with him. These were all very pious men of saintly habits, the majority belonging to the companions of the Suffa. Their daily routine had been to collect fuel from the forest, which they sold in the evening and shared the proceeds with the other members of the Suffa.

These men made a halt at a place known as Bi’r Ma’una. Through Haram Ibn Milhan, they sent the Prophet’s letter to Amir Ibn Tufail, the chief of the tribe. Amir killed Haram Ibn Milhan. He also hurried up his men to the neighbouring tribes of Usiyya, Ra’l and Dhakawan, asking them to come prepared.

Thus a big force was collected, which advanced forward under the command of Amir. The companions were waiting for the return of Haram Ibn Milhan; and when he did not turn up they themselves moved forward. In the way they came face to face with Amir.

The disbelievers surrounded the Muslims on all sides and killed all of them, except Amr Ibn Umayya whom Amir spared saying that his mother had taken a vow to free a slave and so he was setting him free. Then he cut his locks of hair and left him. The Prophet had never been so grieved as when this mishap was reported to him. For a whole month the Prophet (p) prayed against these evil-doers after his morning prayers.” [1]

Maulana Muhammad Yusuf Kandhlawi:

Several men of knowledge including Mughiera bin Abdur Rahmaan and Abdullah bin Abu Bakr bin Amr bin Hazam narrate that the expert spear-thrower Abu Baraa Aamir bin Maalik bin Ja’far once came to Madinah to meet Rasulullaah (the Prophet). Rasulullaah (the Prophet) presented Islaam to him and invited him to accept. However, he neither accepted Islaam nor shunned it.

Instead he said, ‘O Muhammad! If you send some of your companions to the people of Najd to call them towards Islaam, I strongly feel that they would accept.’ Rasulullaah (The Prophet) replied, ‘I fear harm coming to them from the people of Najd.’ Abu Baraa reassured Rasulullaah bu saying, ‘I stand surety for their safety. Do send them to invite people towards your Deen.

Rasulullaah then sent Hadhrat Mundhir bin Amr who was called ‘al-Mu’niq liyamoot’ (‘one who is eager to die’) together with seventy Sahabah who were amongst the best of the Muslims. They included Hadhrat Haarith bin Simma, Haraam bin Milhaan of the Banu Adi bin Najjaar, Urwa bin Asmaa bin silt Sulami, Naafi bin Budayl bin Warqaa Khuzaa’ee and Hadhrat Aamir bin Fuhayra who was the freed slave of Abu Bakr.

The group travelled until they reached Bir Ma’oona, which was a well located between the lands of the Banu Aamir tribe and the rocky plain of the Banu Sulaym tribe.

When they set up camp there, Haraam bin Milhaan sent the letter of Rasulullaah to Aamir bin Tufayl. When the messenger arrived, Aamir did not even look at the letter before attacking the messenger and killing him. He then solicited help from the Banu Aamir tribe but they declined to respond to his call. They made it clear that they would never betray Abu Baraa who had entered into a treaty with them.

Aamir then sought help from Usayya, Ri’al and Dhakwaan clans who belonged to the Banu Sulaym tribe. They responded to his call and left (with him). They amassed around the Sahabah (companions) and surrounded their camp. When the Sahabah saw the enemy they grabbed their swords and fought until all of them were martyred. …

The only survivor was Ka’b bin Zaid from the Banu Dinaar bin Najjaar tribe. There was still life in him when the attackers left and he was removed from amongst the dead. He still lived afterwards until he was martyred during the Battle of Khandaq.

Amr bin Umayyah Dhamri and an Ansaari from the Banu Amr bin Auf tribe were busy grazing the animals and were unaware of the attack on the other Sahabah (companions). All that made them aware was (carrion-eating) birds hovering above the camp. They said, ‘By Allaah! Something must have happened for these birds (to be free).’ The two men then went to investigate and found the Muslims lying in pools of blood.

The horsemen (who had attacked the Sahabah (companion) ) were still there. The Ansaari asked Amr bin Umayyah, ‘what do you suggest?’ ‘I suggest that we go and inform Rasulullaah about what had happened,’ he replied.

The Ansaari then said, ‘To save my life I would not like to leave a place where someone like Mundhir bin Amr has been martyred.

I would also not like to just inform others about people who have been martyred (I prefer to be amongst them).’ He then fought until he was martyred. Amr Bin Umayyah was taken prisoner but later released by Aamir bin Tufayl when he informed them that he belonged to the Mudhar tribe. However, Aamir cut off Amr’s forelocks and gave him freedom because his mother was required to free a slave (so he freed Amr on her behalf). [2]

Bashir Aḥmad M.A.:

Incident of Bi‘r-e-Ma‘unah
The acts of mischief and seditious behaviour perpetrated by the tribes of Sulaim, and Ghaṭafan, etc. have already been mentioned above. These tribes inhabited the central region of Arabia in the Satḥ e-Murtafa‘ Najd and had allied with the Quraish of Makkah against the Muslims. Slowly but surely, the evil of these mischievous tribes was continuing to grow and the Satḥ-e-Murtafa‘ Najd was continuing to be poisoned with the venom of enmity against Islam.

As such, in the days we are describing now, an individual named Abu Barra’ ‘Amiri, who was a chieftain of the tribe situated in central Arabia known as the Banu ‘Amir, presented himself before the Holy Prophet in order to meet him. The Holy Prophet very gently and kindly conveyed the message of Islam to him and at the outset he also listened to the address of the Holy Prophet with interest and attention, but did not accept Islam.

Albeit, he submitted to the Holy Prophet, “Send a few Companions along with me to Najd, who can travel there and preach the message of Islam to the people of Najd. I am confident that the people of Najd will not reject your message.” The Holy Prophet said, “I do not trust the people of Najd.” Abu Barra’ responded, “Do not worry, I guarantee their security.”

Since Abu Barra’ was the chief of a tribe and was an influential man, the Holy Prophet took his word and dispatched a party of Companions towards Najd. This is the narration as it is related by history.

It is narrated in Bukhari that a few people from the tribes of Ri‘l and Dhakwan, etc. (which were branches of the renowned tribe known as the Banu Sulaim) presented themselves before the Holy Prophet and claimed to accept Islam.

Then they requested that a few men should be dispatched along with them to assist them against those people of their nation who were enemies of Islam (there is no elaboration as to the nature of the assistance they requested – missionary or military). Upon this, the Holy Prophet sent off this company. Ibni Sa‘d has also recorded a narration in support of this, but has not given it preference over the other one.

However, unfortunately with respect to the details of Bi‘r-e-Ma‘unah, even the details as narrated in Bukhari have become mixed to a degree, due to which all the relevant facts cannot be identified in full.

In any case, however, what is ascertained for certain is that on this occasion, the people belonging to the tribes of Ri‘l and Dhakwan, etc. presented themselves before the Holy Prophet as well, and they requested for a few Companions to be sent along with them.

One prospect for the reconciliation of both these narrations is that perhaps Abu Barra’ ‘Amiri, chieftain of the ‘Amir tribe, also came along with the people of Ri‘l and Dhakwan, and he spoke to the Holy Prophet on their behalf. As such, according to the historical account, the Holy Prophet said, “I do not trust the people of Najd,” to which he responded,

“Do not worry, I give you the assurance that your Companions shall not be harmed.” This indicates that the people of Ri‘l and Dhakwan had also come with Abu Barra’ and the Holy Prophet was concerned on their account. In any case, the Holy Prophet dispatched a party of Companions under the leadership of Mundhir bin ‘Amr Anṣari in Ṣafar 4 A.H.

These people were mostly from the Anṣar and totalled seventy in number, and almost all of them were Qaris, i.e., they were well-versed in the Holy Qur’an. They would collect wood from the jungle by day to make ends meet and would spend a better part of the night in worship.

When these people reached a place known as Bi‘r-e-Ma‘unah, which was named as such due to a water well, an individual named Ḥaram bin Milḥan, who was the maternal uncle of Anas bin Malik, went forward with the message of Islam to ‘Amir bin Ṭufail, who was chief of the ‘Amir tribe and paternal nephew of Abu Barra’ ‘Amiri.

The rest of the Companions remained behind. When Ḥaram bin Milḥan arrived to meet ‘Amir bin Ṭufail and his followers as an emissary of the Holy Prophet, at first, they warmly welcomed him in their hypocrisy; but after he had been fully seated and made to feel at ease, and began to preach the message of Islam,

A few evil ones from among them made a signal to someone, who struck this innocent emissary with a spear from behind and put him to death there and then. At the time, the following words were on the tongue of Ḥaram bin Milḥan i.e., “Allah is the Greatest.

By the Lord of the Ka‘bah, I have attained my objective.” ‘Amir bin Ṭufail did not suffice upon the murder of this emissary of the Holy Prophet alone. As a matter of fact, after this he incited the people of his tribe, the Banu ‘Amir, to attack the remaining party of Muslims as well, but they refused and said that they would not attack the Muslims due to the guarantee of Abu Barra’.

Upon this, ‘Amir collected the Banu Ri‘l, Dhakwan and ‘Uṣayyah, etc. from the tribe of Sulaim (i.e., the same tribes who had come to the Holy Prophet as a delegation according to the narration of Bukhari) and attacked this small and helpless community of Muslims. When the Muslims saw these bloodthirsty beasts racing towards them, they said, “We have no quarrel with you.

We have only come with an assignment from the Holy Prophet; we have not come to fight,” but they did not listen to a word and murdered them all. Among the Companions who were present at the time, only one individual was spared, who had a limp, and had managed to climb to the top of a mountain.

The name of this Companion was Ka‘b bin Zaid. From various narrations it is ascertained that the disbelievers attacked him as well, due to which he was wounded. The disbelievers left him for dead, but in actuality there was still life in him and he survived. Two individuals from among this community of Companions had separated from the group at the time in order to graze their camels, etc.,

And their names were ‘Amr bin Umayyah Ḍamri and Mundhir bin Muḥammad. When they looked towards their camp, lo and behold, they sighted flocks of birds flying about overhead. They understood these desert signs well and immediately deduced that a battle had taken place.

When they returned, this atrocity of carnage and massacre perpetrated by the ruthless disbelievers lay before their eyes. Upon sighting this scene from afar, they consulted one another as to what should be done. One suggested that they should escape immediately and reach Madinah in order to inform the Holy Prophet.

The other one, however, did not accept this proposal and said, “I shall not flee from where our Amir, Mundhir bin ‘Amr has been martyred.” Hence, he proceeded forward and was martyred in battle. The other, whose name was ‘Amr bin Umayyah Ḍamri was taken captive by the disbelievers.

They would have perhaps murdered him as well, but when they found out that he was from the Muḍar tribe, according to the custom of Arabia, ‘Amir bin Ṭufail cut off his forelocks and set him free, saying, “My mother has vowed to release a slave from the Muḍar tribe, and therefore, I set you free.”

In other words, from among these seventy Companions, only two survived. One was this very ‘Amr bin Umayyah Ḍamri and the second was Ka‘b bin Zaid, who the disbelievers had left in the belief that he was already dead. ‘Amir bin Fuhairah, the freed slave of Ḥaḍrat Abu Bakr, and a pioneer devotee of Islam, was also among the Companions who were martyred in the incident of Bi‘r-e-Ma‘unah.

He was slain by a person named Jabbar bin Salamah. Afterwards, Jabbar became a Muslim and states that the reason for his having accepted Islam was because when he martyred ‘Amir bin Fuhairah, he uncontrollably called out, i.e., “By God, I have attained my objective.” Jabbar states:

“Upon hearing these words, I was astonished that I have just murdered this person and he says that he has attained his objective. What a peculiar thing indeed. As such, when I later inquired as to the reason for this, I was informed that the Muslim people considered the sacrifice of their lives in the way of God as being the greatest success a person can attain. This left such a lasting impression upon my disposition that ultimately, this very influence pulled me towards Islam.”

The Holy Prophet and his Companions received news of the incidents of Raji‘ and Bi‘r-e-Ma‘unah at more or less the same time The Holy Prophet was deeply grieved by these incidents, to the extent that narrations relate that the Holy Prophet was never so deeply grieved by anything before or after these events.

Undoubtedly, for approximately eighty Companions to be suddenly murdered by deception, especially such Companions who were Ḥuffaẓ of the Holy Qur’an, and were from a poor and selfless class of people, was no small event, even by standards of the barbaric customs and practices of Arabia.

For the Holy Prophet personally, this news was no different than the loss of eighty sons, rather, even more so. The reason being that for a spiritual man, spiritual bonds are far dearer to him than the worldly relations of a worldly man. Hence, the Holy Prophet was deeply grieved by these tragic events, but in any case, Islam teaches patience. After this, the Holy Prophet said the following words:

“This is a result of the action of Abi Barra’, for I had disliked sending off these people and was apprehensive of the people of Najd.” The incidents of Bi‘r-e-Ma‘unah and Raji‘ demonstrate the intense level of hatred and animosity which the tribes of Arabia harboured in their hearts against Islam

and the followers of Islam, to the extent that they would not even refrain from the most despicable lies, treachery and deceit. Despite the remarkable intelligence and vigilance of the Muslims, due to their thinking well of others, which is the hallmark of a believer, at times they would be lured into their trap.

These were Ḥuffaẓ of the Qur’an and devoted worshippers, who would supplicate during the nights, sit in a corner of the mosque and remember Allah; then they were poor and hunger-stricken people, who were lured out of their homeland by these cruel disbelievers with the excuse of ‘teaching them religion’; and when they had reached their land as guests, they were murdered in cold blood.

Any level of grief suffered by the Holy Prophet would not have been enough. But at the time, the Holy Prophet did not employ any military action against these cold blooded murderers. Albeit, for thirty days continuously, after having received this news, the Holy Prophet supplicated while standing in his morning Ṣalat, weeping and crying before God, individually naming the tribes of Ri‘l, Dhakwan, ‘Usayyah and the Banu Laḥyan in the following words:

“O Our Master! Have mercy upon us and hold back the hands of the enemies of Islam who are ruthlessly and stone-heartedly spilling the blood of innocent Muslims with the intention that Your religion may be expunged.” [3]


[1] Sirat -un- Nabi [Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam] By Shaykh Allamah Shibli Nomani (r.a) – volume 2, page 77 – 79
[2] Hayat us Sahab – The Companions of Prophet (Sahaba) By Maulana Muhammad Yusuf Kandhlawi (RA), volume 1, page 511 – 512
[3] The Life & Character of the Seal of Prophets (Sirat Khatamun-Nabiyyīn)By Mirzā Bashir Aḥmad M.A., volume 2, page 367 – 373