Expedition of Khalid ibn al-Walid (Nakhla)

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The expedition of Khalid ibn al-Walid [1] to Nakhla took place in January 630 AD, 8AH, in the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar.[2]

Khalid ibn al-Walid was sent to destroy the idol Goddess al-Uzza which was worshipped by polytheists; he did this successfully.[3][4]

Expedition and demolition of Temple[edit]

Statues of Pagan goddess Al-Uzza, from the Manatu temple at Petra, the Main Temple in Nakhla, dedicated to Al-Uzza was demolished by Khalid ibn al-Walid[5][6][7]

Soon after the Conquest of Mecca, Muhammad began to dispatch expeditions on errands aiming at eliminating the last symbols reminiscent of pre-Islamic practices.

He sent Khalid bin Al-Walid in Ramadan 8 A.H. to a place called Nakhlah, where there was an idol of the goddess called Al-‘Uzza worshipped by the Quraish and Kinanah tribes, and guarded by custodians from Banu Shaiban. Khalid, at the head of thirty horsemen, arrived at the spot and destroyed the idol.

Upon his return, Muhammad asked him if he had seen anything else there, to which Khalid replied, "No". He was told that the idol had not been destroyed and that he must go back and fulfill the task. Khalid went again to Nakhlah and there saw a black Abyssinian (Ethiopian) woman, naked with disheveled hair. He struck her with his sword and cut her into "two pieces", according to the Muslim scholar, Saifur Rahman al Mubarakpuri. He returned once again and narrated his story to Muhammad, who then confirmed the fulfillment of the task, saying that the black Ethiopian woman was the real "al-Uzza". [8][9][10]

Islamic Primary sources[edit]

The Muslim historian Hisham Ibn Al-Kalbi mentions the event in his book the "Book of Idols" as follows:

Ibn-'Abbas said: Al-'Uzza was a she-devil which used to frequent three trees in the valley of Nakhlah. When the Prophet captured Mecca, he dispatched Khalid ibn-al-Walid saying, "Go to the valley of Nakhlah; there you will find three trees. Cut down the first one." Khalid went and cut it down. On his return to report, the Prophet asked him saying, "Have you seen anything there?" Khalid replied and said, "No."

The Prophet ordered him to return and cut down the second tree. He went and cut it down. On his return to report the Prophet asked him a second time, "Have you seen anything there?" Khalid answered, "No."

Thereupon the Prophet ordered him to go back and cut down the third tree. When Khalid arrived on the scene he found an Abyssinian woman with dishevelled hair and her hands placed on her shoulder[s], gnashing and grating her teeth.

Behind her stood Dubayyah al-Sulami who was then the warden of al-'Uzza...

Turning to the woman, he dealt her a blow which severed her head in twain, and lo, she crumbled into ashes. He then cut down the tree and killed Dubayyah the warden, after which he returned to the Prophet and reported to him his exploit.

Thereupon the Prophet said, "That was al-'Uzza. But she is no more. The Arabs shall have none after her. Verily she shall never be worshipped again."
[The Book of Idols, By Hisham Ibn-Al-Kalbi, pages 25-26][11][12]

The event is also mentioned in the Sunni Hadith collection Al-Sunan al-Sughra, which was collected by Al-Nasa'i. The Muslim scholar Ibn Kathir references the Hadith and the event in his Tafsir, as follows

An-Nasa'i recorded that Abu At-Tufayl said, "When the Messenger of Allah conquered Makkah, he sent Khalid bin Al-Walid to the area of Nakhlah where the idol of Al-`Uzza was erected on three trees of a forest. Khalid cut the three trees and approached the house built around it and destroyed it. When he went back to the Prophet and informed him of the story, the Prophet said to him,

(Go back and finish your mission, for you have not finished it.) Khalid went back and when the custodians who were also its servants of Al-`Uzza saw him, they started invoking by calling Al-`Uzza! When Khalid approached it, he found a naked woman whose hair was untidy and who was throwing sand on her head. Khalid killed her with the sword and went back to the Messenger of Allah , who said to him,

(That was Al-`Uzza!) [Al-Sunan al-Sughra, as referenced in Tafsir ibn Kathir] [13]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Abu Khalil, Shawqi (1 March 2004). Atlas of the Prophet's biography: places, nations, landmarks. Dar-us-Salam. p. 226. ISBN 978-9960-897-71-4. 
  2. ^ List of Battles of Muhammad
  3. ^ The sealed nectar, By S.R. Al-Mubarakpuri, Pg256
  4. ^ "He sent Khalid bin Al-Waleed in Ramadan 8 A.H", Witness-Pioneer.com
  5. ^ The rights of women in Islam, By Asgharali Engineer, Pg 42
  6. ^ The sealed nectar, By S.R. Al-Mubarakpuri, Pg256
  7. ^ "He sent Khalid bin Al-Waleed in Ramadan 8 A.H", Witness-Pioneer.com
  8. ^ The life of Mahomet and history of Islam, Volume 4, By Sir William Muir, Pg 135 See bottom, Notes section
  9. ^ The sealed nectar, By S.R. Al-Mubarakpuri, Pg256
  10. ^ "He sent Khalid bin Al-Waleed in Ramadan 8 A.H", Witness-Pioneer.com
  11. ^ Muhammad and the origins of Islam, By Francis E. Peters, Pg 237
  12. ^ Ibn al Kalbi, Hisham (1952). The book of idols: being a translation from the Arabic of the Kitāb al-asnām. Princeton University Press. p. 25. ASIN B002G9N1NQ. A full online version of it is available here
  13. ^ Tafsir ibn Kathir: (abridged), By Ibn Kathir, Translated by Safiur Rahman Al Mubarakpuri,Pg 320 and, see also Tafsir Ibn Kathir,53:19- Text Version