What Can Oppressed Black Communities Learn From the Early Battles in Islam?
Salim Abdul Khaliq
The military history of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is studied in academies and universities around the country. What can Black people learn by studying his life, history, and tactics to wage war against white supremacy so we can make progress and benefit socially, politically, economically, and spiritually?
The early Muslims faced serious challenges establishing the deen of Islam. Sumayya Ibn Khattab, a Black Ethiopian woman, one of the first female converts was stabbed to death by the wicked Abu Jahl. Bilal ibn Rabah, a Black man, was tortured with boulders placed upon his chest. Other weak and defenseless believers were cursed, shunned, starved and murdered. In the face of this, they were told by the Prophet, peace be upon him, to be patient. When things got even more oppressive, some Muslims were forced to migrate to other lands.
Over time the oppression intensified, and the pagan Arabs had every intention of destroying the small band of believers. When the Prophet heard rumors of the conspiracy to assassinate him, he gave orders to leave Mecca and migrate to Medina. The disbelievers chose to follow and fight them.
At last, the Muslims had enough and Allah sent down the revelation, instructing the Muslims to fight in self-defense. They were ready for the challenge and had enough of persecution. There comes a time when one is being bullied that you must stand up. One must fight for your rights against injustice and oppression. It must not matter how little the victim is or how big the oppressive force is. Size does not matter. Look at how Cuba stood up to America. So, during the time of the Prophet in the famous Battle of Badr, 300-400 new Muslims were faced with extinction at the hands of at least a minimum of 1000 well Arabs.
Miraculously, the Muslims were victorious in the battle. Abu Jahl, the killer of Summaya, the Ethiopian, was killed. Bilal would kill his former slave master Ummaya.
The Battle of Badr represented the victory of the oppressed over the oppressor. It also represented an achievement in the establishment of Islam. Our Black communities across the country can learn from the Battle of Badr, that no matter how outnumbered we may be in the face of white supremacy, with the help of Allah (swt) we will be victorious.
The Battle of Uhud took place in 625A.D. between 1000 Muslims and 3000 of their opponents. It was considered somewhat of a loss for the Muslims. Why? Before the battle, the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, put 50 archers on a mountainside and ordered them to stay there, no matter what. However, when it appeared the Muslims were victorious in battle, the archers deserted their posts. This failure to follow instructions cost lives.
Khalid Ibn al-Walid, the fierce general and warrior gave the pagans an advantage. He was known for his courage and tactical maneuver. When the Muslim archers left their posts for the riches of the enemy, this allowed Khalid to surprise attack at which the Muslims were bested. The results were disastrous, even the Prophet was injured, his uncle Hamza was killed and mutilated by the wife of Abu Sufyan.
The believers disobeyed orders and broke ranks running after the booty or wealth of the unbelievers. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him (pbuh), gave instructions to combat the enemy. When these instructions were violated many Muslims were killed. In war, orders must be followed.
What is the lesson to be learned here? People in the struggle for Black liberation must be able to follow instructions. We must be disciplined enough to hear and obey. That is very hard for some of us who only want to do our own thing. We are reluctant to follow the instructions from another Black person. Further, we should not get caught up in materialism because the struggle of our ancestors is bigger than wealth, fame, fortune, cars, women, etc. Malcolm X was a brother who never sold out. He was simply following the example of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, who when the pagans offered him kingship, wealth and women, he refused, saying: “If you put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left, I will not cease the cause for which I was sent.”
During the battle of Uhud, another issue that happened is that the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was injured and many rumors spread that the Prophet, pbuh, was in fact dead. As a result, many Muslims began to flee from the battlefield. Umm Ayman, a brave Black Ethiopian woman encouraged the Muslims to continue to fight on behalf of Islam. In response, Allah (swt) revealed the following ayats of the Qu’ran in 3:144, “ Muhammad is not but a messenger. Other messengers have passed on before him. So if he was to die or be killed, would you turn back on your heels to unbelief? And he who turns back on his heels will never harm Allah at all; but Allah will reward the grateful.”
This sent a clear message that even if the Prophet Muhammad, pbuh, were to die the battle the fight to bring about the rise of Islam must continue.
We cannot get caught up in personality worship nor retreat from the mission no matter what. Simply because Malcolm X was assassinated does not mean we retreat from the Islamic confrontation war against white supremacy. Simply because Fred Hampton was assassinated does not mean we retreat from the battle of justice. We must continue the fight no matter what.
We are fighting for Islam and we will surely win.
Salim Abdul-Khaliq was born Ron Charles in Chicago, Illinois in 1954. He Ron was born with a constant desire to read, write and study. In 1974, while in the army, he was positively influenced by a man named John Sanders, now known as Yahya Abdul. He became a mentor to Ron. This mentoring led Ron to do further research and investigation into the faith of Islam and into Malcolm X. As a young black man Islam gave Ron hope along with a profound understanding of God and African American history. In 1974 Ron converted to Islam and changed his name.