Scholars Perspectives On The Expedition Of Nakhlah

Scholars Perspectives On The Expedition Of Nakhlah

Mohamad Mostafa Nassar


Shaykh Allamah Shibli Nomani:

“A few days later, in the succeeding month of Rajab of the same year, the Prophet (p) sent Abdullah Ibn Jahash with twelve persons to a place known as Batn Nakhlah. It was situated midway between Mecca at Ta’if, a day and a night’s journey each way. The Prophet (p) had given Abdullah a letter and ordered him to open it after two days. When Abdullah opened it he found it containing instructions to stop at Nakhlah, reconnoitire the movements of the Quraish and report accordingly.

By chance a party of the Quraish returning from Syria with some merchandise passed that way. Abdullah Ibn Jahash attacked them. One of them Amr Ibn al-Hadrami was killed and two others captured with some booty. On return to Medina Abdullah Ibn Jahash narrated the whole story to the Prophet and presented the booty. The Prophet (p) reminded him that he had not been permitted to act like that and refused to accept the booty.

The Companions were highly engaged and said, to Abdullah, ‘You did something for which you had no orders, and fought during the Prohibited month, which you were not permitted to do.’ Those who were captured or killed were highly connected.” [1]

Dr. Ali Muhammad Sallabi:

At the end of Rajab, the Prophet sent eight groups of Muhaajiroon men, with Abdullah Ibn Jahsh as their leaDer, to Nakhlah valley, which is situate south of Makkah. The Prophet instructed them to bring news about Quraish’s movements…” [2]

Bashir Ahmad M.A.:


Naturally, the sudden attack of Kurz bin Jabir had terrified the Muslims greatly, and since there was a standing threat by the chieftains of Makkah that they would attack Madinah and utterly destroy the Muslims, the Muslims were severely apprehensive.

Upon observing these very threats the Holy Prophet decided that the movements of the Quraish should be surveyed from a closer distance, so that all the necessary intelligence with respect to them may be available on time and Madinah was safeguarded from all kinds of sudden attacks.

Hence, for this purpose, the Holy Prophet assembled a party of eight Muhajirin. As an act of wisdom, the Holy Prophet selected such men for this party who were from the various tribes of the Quraish, so that it was easier to obtain intelligence with regards to the hidden conspiracies of the Quraish. The Holy Prophet appointed his paternal cousin, ‘Abdullah bin Jaḥsh as the commander of this party.

In order to ensure that the prime mission of this party was kept secret even from the Muslim masses, upon ordering this Sariyyah, the Holy Prophet did not even inform the commander of this party as to where he was being sent and for what purpose. Rather, upon their departure, the Holy Prophet handed him a sealed letter and said that, “This letter contains necessary instructions for you.

When you cover a distance of two days travel from Madinah, open the letter and act in accordance with the stipulated instructions.” As such, ‘Abdullah and his companions set out by the command of their Master. When they had journeyed a distance of two days from Madinah, ‘Abdullah opened the instructions of the Holy Prophet, which were as follows:

Go forth to the Valley of Nakhlah between Makkah and Ṭa’if, and obtain information on the Quraish and return with news there from.” Moreover, since an intelligence mission so close to Makkah was a very delicate task, at the bottom of this letter, the Holy Prophet had written that after the objective of this mission became known,

if any one from among his companions was hesitant in accompanying this party and desired to return, then permission would be granted to do so. ‘Abdullah read out this guidance to his companions who unanimously affirmed that, “We happily present ourselves for this service.”

Then, this party proceeded to Nakhlah. Sa‘d bin Abi Waqqaṣ and ‘Utbah bin Ghazwan lost their camels en-route, and were separated from their companions. Despite their best efforts, they were unable to relocate their companions. The party was now left with only six people. On this occasion, Mr. Margolius has written that Sa‘d bin Abi Waqqaṣ and ‘Utbah intentionally let their camels loose and used this as an excuse to remain behind.

Each and every life event of these devotees of Islam, who were ready to sacrifice their lives, is a testimony to their valour and devotion. One of them was martyred at the hands of the disbelievers in the campaign of B‘ir-e-Ma‘unah, while the other distinctly participated in many dangerous battles and ultimately became the victor of Iraq.

Therefore, to doubt the sincerity of such people, especially when that doubt is founded on self-concocted notions, is the work of Mr. Margolius alone. It is ironic that in his book Mr. Margolius claims that he has written this book being completely free from prejudice. In any case, this is a side issue.
This small community reached Nakhlah and became engaged in their work.

With the thought of concealing their classified mission, some of them shaved their heads, so that travellers, etc., would not be alarmed in any way, and so that they would consider them as being such people who had come with the intention of ‘Umrah. However, they had only just arrived there, when suddenly a small caravan of the Quraish also happened to arrive, which was travelling from Ṭa’if to Makkah, and both parties encountered each other.

The Muslims consulted one another as to what should be done. The Holy Prophetsa had sent them for the purpose of secretly obtaining intelligence, but on the other hand, war had begun with the Quraish.

Both opponents were before one another and naturally there was a risk that now, since the people from the caravan of the Quraish had spotted the Muslims, their covert intelligence mission would no longer remain secret. Another predicament was that some Muslims thought that it was perhaps the last day of Rajab, i.e., a sacred month in which fighting was prohibited as per the ancient Arabian custom.

Others thought that Rajab had passed and the month of Sha‘ban had started. In some narrations it has been related that this Sariyyah was dispatched in Jamadiyul-Akhir, and there was a doubt as to whether this day was of Jamadi or Rajab.

However, on the other hand, the Valley of Nakhlah was situated right on the outskirts of the Ḥaram and it was obvious that if a decision was not made that day, the caravan would have entered the Ḥaram on the following day, the sanctity of which was definite. Hence, taking all of these factors into consideration, it was finally decided that the caravan should be attacked, and the people of the caravan should either be taken captive or killed. Therefore, they launched an attack in the name of Allah, and as a result, one man, whose name was ‘Amr bin Al-Ḥaḍrami was killed, and two were taken captive.

However, the fourth individual unfortunately escaped, and the Muslims were unable to apprehend him. Thereafter, the Muslims seized the goods of the caravan. Since one man belonging to the Quraish had escaped and news of this conflict would inevitably reach Makkah quickly, ‘Abdullah bin Jaḥsh and his companions swiftly returned to Makkah with the spoils.

On this occasion, Mr. Margolius writes that Muhammad deliberately dispatched this company in the Sacred Month, because in this month the Quraish naturally would have been unmindful, and the Muslims would find an easy and definite opportunity to raid their caravan. However, every sensible individual can understand that a small party of this nature could not have been dispatched to such a far off region to plunder a caravan, especially when the enemy headquarters were so nearby.

Furthermore, history categorically establishes that this party had merely been dispatched for the purpose of obtaining intelligence. Moreover, when the Holy Prophet found out that the Companions had attacked the caravan, he was extremely displeased. As such, it is narrated that when they presented themselves before the Holy Prophet and informed him of the entire account, the Holy Prophet was extremely displeased and said: “I have not given you permission to fight in the Sacred Month.” Then it is written that: “The Holy Prophet refused to accept the spoils.”

Upon this, ‘Abdullah and his companions felt extreme remorse and shame. Then it is written that:
“They thought that due to their incurring the displeasure of God and His
Messenger, they had been ruined.” Even the other Companions reproached them and said:

You did that which you had not been ordered, and you fought in the Sacred
Month, although you had not been ordered at all to fight in this campaign.”

On the other hand, the Quraish also raised a huge hue and cry, that the Muslims had violated the sanctity of the Sacred Month. Since the person who had been killed, ‘Amr bin Al-Ḥaḍrami, was a chieftain, and was also a confederate of ‘Utbah bin Rabī‘ah, a chieftain of Makkah, this occurrence greatly enraged the Quraish’s fire of fury.

They began to prepare for an attack upon Madinah with even greater zeal and uproar. Hence, the Battle of Badr, which shall be mentioned ahead, was primarily a result of this very preparation and vehement enmity. Therefore, upon this occurrence, there was murmuring both among the Muslims and disbelievers, and finally the following Qur’anic verse was revealed, which provided a means of relief for the Muslims: “People ask thee about fighting in the Sacred Month. Tell them:

‘Undoubtedly, fighting in the Sacred Month is a great transgression, but to forcefully hinder men from the religion of God in the Sacred Month; rather, to disbelieve in relation to the Sacred Month and the Sacred Mosque, i.e., to violate their sanctity, and then to turn out by coercion, the inhabitants of the Ḥaram, as you are guilty of doing, O ye idolaters, is a greater sin with Allah than fighting in the Sacred Month; and verily, to persecute in the land during the Sacred Month is worse than such fighting, which is for the purpose of preventing persecution. 

O Ye Muslims! The state of the disbelievers is such that they have become so blinded in their enmity towards you that they will not cease fighting you at any time and at any place, until they turn you back from your faith, if they find the power to do so.’”

Therefore, history establishes that the chieftains of the Quraish would spread their bloody propaganda even in the Sacred Months. As a matter of fact, they became even more active in their evil designs during these months, taking benefit of the gatherings and journeys which would take place in the Sacred Months.

Furthermore, with great shamelessness, in order to gratify themselves with a false satisfaction, they would re-arrange the order of the Sacred Months, which was known as Nas’i. Then, later on they crossed all bounds, when during the era of the Treaty of Ḥudaibiyyah, despite there being a firm covenant and agreement, the disbelievers of Makkah and their allies took up the sword against an ally tribe of the Muslims, in the area of the Ḥaram.

And then, when the Muslims set out in support of this tribe, they fought against them as well in the very region of the Ḥaram. Hence, it was only natural for the Muslims to find comfort in this response, but the Quraish were also brought to level. During this time, two of their men arrived in Madinah in order to have their two captives released. However, until now, Sa‘d bin Abi Waqqas and ‘Utbah had not returned.

On their account, the Holy Prophet greatly feared that if the Quraish happened to seize them, they would not release them alive. Hence, for this reason, the Holy Prophet refused to release the captives until they returned and said, “When my men safely reach Madinah, I will release yours.”

Therefore, when they both reached Madinah, the Holy Prophet released both captives for a ransom. However, from among these two captives, one individual was so deeply impressed by the high moral qualities of the Holy Prophet and the truth of the Islamic teaching during his stay at Madinah, that even after his release, he refused to return, and joined the servants of the Holy Prophet. He was finally martyred at Bi‘r-e-Ma‘unah. His name was Ḥakam bin Kaisan.” [3]


[1] Sirat -un- Nabi [Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam] By Shaykh Allamah Shibli Nomani (r.a) – Volume 2, Page 9
[2] Noble Life of The Prophet [Translated: Faisal Shafeeq] by Dr. Ali Muhammad Sallabi, page 879 – 880
[3] The Life & Character of the Seal of Prophets (May Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) (Sirat Khatamun-Nabiyyin) By Mirza Bashīr Aḥmad M.A., volume 2, page 102 – 108