Nakhla raid

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Raid on Meccan Caravans, Nakhla
Date December 623 , 2 AH
Location Nakhla[disambiguation needed]
Result Successful raid[1][2]
Muslims of Medina Quraysh of Mecca
Commanders and leaders
’Abdullāh ibn Jaḥsh ibn Ri‘āb al-Asadī ’Amr ibn al-Ḥaḍramī
8-12 4
Casualties and losses
0 1 killed (2 Captured)[3]

The Nakhla Raid was the seventh Caravan Raid, the 8th military expedition and the first successful raid against the Meccans. Abdullah ibn Jahsh was the Commander .[4] [5]

It took place in Rajab 2 A.H., i.e. January 624 AD. Muhammad dispatched ’Abdullāh ibn Jaḥsh al-Asadi to Nakhlah at the head of 12 Emigrants with six camels. [6] [7][8][9] It was the most significant pre-Badr operation because of its consequences.


The valley of Nakhlah is a place that stands between the cities of Makkah and aṭ-Ṭā’if situated about 350 km south of Madīnah. On its northeastern side, the ‘Sacred Precincts’ (Ḥarām) of Makkah extends about 14 kilometers away to the valley of Nakhla. In the pre-Islamic era, it was renowned for the shrine of Venus-goddess al-‘Uzzā worshipped by the tribes of Quraysh, Mudhar and Kinānah who considered it to be the daughter of Allah alongside the sun-goddess al-Lāt centered in aṭ-Ṭā’if.


There are differences of opinion among the biographers about the exact timing of the incidence. Some authors narrated that it occurred in the 1st day of Rajab (January, 624 CE) when the Muslims defended by saying that the killing happened in the last day of Jumādā al-Ākhira (December, 623 CE).[10] On the other hand, the rest of the historians narrated that it took place in the last day of Rajab so that the Muslims in Makkah defended that the action had occurred in the 1st day of Sha'bān.[11]

Al-Suddī stated, "Nakhla raid occurred in the first night of Rajab, and the last night of Jumādā al-Ākhira." Ibn Kathīr commented that perhaps Jumādā was yet unfinished, and the Muslims believed the month would last through the 30th night. The new moon however, was seen that night. But Allah knows best.


Muslim view[edit]

The nascent state of Madīnah was at war with Makkah being under its constant threat. Its Muslim citizens were in such jeopardy that they were forced to sleep by their weapons while many of them were compelled to stay awake in vigilance throughout the nights. Being the guardian of the community, Prophet Muḥammad sent out a series of reconnaissance patrols in defense of Madīnah. Nevertheless, the outskirts of Madīnah were raided by the Quraysh in Safwān.

After his return from the first Badr encounter, Muḥammad dispatched 8 or 12 Muhājirūn with 6 camels on a fact-finding operation, having appointed Abū ‘Ubayda ibn al-Jarrāḥ or ‘Ubayda ibn al-Ḥārith as their commander. But when he came to leave, he wept in longing for the Prophet and sat down. So the Prophet entrusted this reconnaissance operation to his cousin ’Abdullāh ibn Jaḥsh al-Asadī, the son of Umaymah bint ‘Abd al-Muṭṭalib, the paternal aunt of Muḥammad.[12]

Non-Muslim view[edit]

To fund his quest for control, Muḥammad first directed his followers to raid Makkan caravans, even in the holy months, when the victims would least expect it. This was despite the fact that the Meccans were not bothering him in Madīnah. Muḥammad provided his people with convenient revelations "from Allah" which allowed them to murder innocent drivers of caravans and pillage their property. The people around him gradually developed a lust for booties of war, including material comforts and captured women & children enslaving them[citation needed].


The members of this party included:

  1. ‘Abdullāh ibn Jaḥsh: The commander of the party.
  2. Abū Ḥudhayfah ibn ‘Utbah: Member of Banū Umayya
  3. ’Ukkāsha ibn Miḥṣan ibn Ḥurthān: An ally of Banū Asad ibn Khuzayma
  4. ‘Utbah ibn Ghazwān: An ally of Banū Nawfal
  5. Sa‘d ibn Abī Waqqāṣ: Member of Banū Zuhrah clan of Quraysh
  6. ’Āmir ibn Rabī‘ah al-Wā’ilī: An ally of Banū 'Adī.
  7. Wāqid ibn ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Abd Manāf al-Yarbū‘ī,: Also an ally of Banū 'Adī.
  8. Khālid ibn al-Bukayr: One of the Banū Sa'd ibn Layth, also an ally of Banū 'Adī.
  9. Sahl ibn Bayḍā al-Fihrī

Isma‘īl ibn 'Abd ar-Raḥmān al-Suddī al-Kabīr in his exegesis also incorporated the following sahaba:[13]

  1. 'Ammār ibn Yāsar
  2. 'Āmir ibn Fuhayra

Ibn Isḥāq stated that there were 8 men and their commander was their 9th. But God knows best.[14]

None of the Helpers participated in this operation.

The Task of the Mission[edit]

Muhammad gave ’Abdullāh ibn Jaḥsh a letter, ordered him not to read it until he had traveled for two days and reached the Malal valley, then to do what he was instructed to do in the letter without putting pressure on his companions. ‘Abdullah proceeded for two days, then he opened the letter; it told him to proceed until he reached at Nakhla[disambiguation needed], between Mecca and Taif, lie in wait for the Quraysh, observe & investigate what they were doing, collect news about their intentions and report back to Madīnah news of them[15] or to intercept a caravan of Quraysh in case they encountered one. [16]

The Prophet, up until now, had been sending troops surrounding their base in Madīnah. Nakhlah, however, was the first operation so far that was located quite far away (about 350 km) from their base where they had to delve deep into the enemy territory. Naturally, ’Abdullāh ibn Jaḥsh sensed an opportunity for attack and a risk of death. This was probably the reason why the Messenger of Allah instructed ’Abdullāh ibn Jaḥsh to make it voluntary on his companions. Accordingly, he told his companions that whoever chose martyrdom was free to join him and whoever did not could go back. He told them: Whoever desires death let him proceed and appoint an executor; I have appointed one and am proceeding to carry out the orders of the Messenger of Allah.

All the companions agreed to follow him (a few biographers write that two Muslims decided not to be martyrs and chose to return to Madīnah).[17] The party traveled through Hijāz until they reached a mine above al-Fur‘ known as Baḥrān. There Sa‘d ibn Abī Waqqāṣ and ‘Utbah ibn Ghazwān lost a camel that they were taking turns to ride. , so they remained behind to look for it. ’Abdullāh ibn Jaḥsh continued ahead with the rest of the party and made camp at Nakhla.[18][19][20]

The attack[edit]

Indeed, as ’Abdullāh ibn Jaḥsh had anticipated, they came across a Quraysh caravan carrying loads of raisins, food stuff and other commodities. The caravan consisted of notable polytheists like:

  1. ‘Amr ibn al-Ḥaḍramī: He was the leader of the caravan whose full name was 'Abdullah ibn 'Abbād[21]
  2. ‘Uthmān bin ‘Abdullah ibn al-Mughīrah: Abu Jahl’s cousin
  3. Nawfal bin ‘Abdullah ibn al-Mughīrah: ‘Uthmān’s brother.
  4. Al-Ḥakam ibn Kaysān, the freed slave (Mawla) of Abu Jahl’s father Hishām ibn al-Mughīrah.


When the caravan party saw them they were concerned because the Muslims had encamped near themselves. But ’Ukkāsha ibn Miḥṣan appeared before them who was shaven in head to hide the real purpose of their journey and to give the Quraysh the impression of lesser Hajj (’Umrah) because it was either the beginning or the end of (Rajab), the opinion among the historians vary.

When the Quraysh (tribe) saw the shaven head of ’Ukkāsha, they thought that the group was on its way for pilgrimage and they felt relieved and began to set up camp since Rajab was regarded as a sacred month along with the other 3 months (Dhul Ḥijja, Dhul Qa‘da and Muḥarram) when there was a total ban on warfare and bloodshed in the Arabian Peninsula.

The Sahaba consulted about how to treat them. They realized that if they were to leave them unharmed, that night they would enter sacred territory and be safe, but if they were to kill them they would be doing so on the last day of the sacred month of Rajab. They were undecided and ill at ease about attacking them.[23]

Nevertheless, after much deliberation, they encouraged one another to do so, deciding eventually to kill those they could and to seize their goods.[24] While the Quraysh were busy preparing food, the Muslims attacked.[citation needed] In the short battle that ensued, Wāqid ibn ‘Abdullah killed ‘Amr ibn al-Ḥaḍramī, with an arrow. Nawfal ibn ‘Abdullah escaped. The Muslims took ‘Uthmān ibn ‘Abdullah and Al-Ḥakam ibn Kaysān as prisoners. ’Abdullāh ibn Jaḥsh returned to Medina with the booty and the two prisoners. They set aside one-fifth of the booty assigned to Allah and His Messenger, and took the rest.

Reaction of the Prophet[edit]

Because of the timing, and because the attack was carried out without his sanction, Muḥammad was furious about what had happened and rebuked the Muslims for fighting in the sacred month, saying: "I did not instruct you to fight in the sacred month"[25] Muslims in Medina also reproached the raiders. The Prophet refused to take his share from the raid and suspended any action as regards the camels and the two captives on account of the prohibited months.


The Quraysh spread the news everywhere of the raid and the killing by the Muslims in the sacred month. The polytheists exploited this golden opportunity to calumniate the Muslims and accuse them of violating what is Divinely inviolable.[26] The Quraysh said, 'Muhammad and his men have made it lawful to use violence in the sacred month; they have shed blood and taken booty and seized prisoners during it.' Those Muslims in Mecca opposing Quraysh, however, maintained that the action had occurred in Sha'bān. Some Jews said, 'You must consider this an omen against Muḥammad.[27]

‘Amr ibn al-Ḥaḍramī’s father was a friend of Ḥarb ibn Umayyah, who became a chieftain of the Quraysh after the death of ‘Abdu’l-Muṭṭalib. The death of ‘Amr’ and the captivity of ‘Uthmān & Naufal caused wrath among Banū Umayya as well as Banū Makhzūm, the two most influential clans of the Quraysh. Thus the people of Mecca started seeking revenge.[28]

Mentioning in Quran[edit]

The idle talk among the polytheists brought about a painful headache to Muhammad’s Companions, until at last they were relieved when Muhammad revealed a verse regarding fighting in the sacred months:

"They ask you concerning fighting in the sacred months (i.e. 1st, 7th, 11th and 12th months of the Islamic calendar). Say, ‘Fighting therein is a great (transgression) but a greater (transgression) with Allâh is to prevent mankind from following the way of Allâh, to disbelieve in Him, to prevent access to Al-Masjid-Al-Harâm (at Makkah), and to drive out its inhabitants, and Al-Fitnah is worse than killing." [Quran 2:217]


According to Ibn Qayyim, he said "most of the scholars have explained the word Fitnah here as meaning Shirk"[30] Although other translations include persecution and division (within a community).

According to Saifur Rahman al-Mubarakpuri, who describes the implications of this verse:

The words of Allah were quite clear and said that the tumult created by the polytheists was groundless. The sacred inviolable sanctities had been repeatedly violated in the long process of fighting Islam and persecuting its adherents (Here he refers to persecuting Muslims in Mecca on these months). The wealth of the Muslims as well as their homes had already been violated and their Prophet had been the target of repeated attempts on his life. In short, that sort of propaganda could deservedly be described as impudence and prostitution. This has been a resume of pre-Badr platoons and invasions. None of them witnessed any sort of looting property or killing people except when the polytheists had committed such crimes under the leadership of Karz bin Jabir Al-Fihri. It was, in fact, the polytheists who had initiated such acts. No wonder, for such ill-behavior is immanent in their natural disposition."

Muhammad’s action after the revelation[edit]

After Allah had alleviated the concerns of the Muslims by revealing the verse in this context, the Prophet took possession of the caravan and the two prisoners. He also paid blood money to the father of ‘Amr ibn al-Ḥaḍramī. The Quraysh then sought to provide ransom for ‘Uthmān ibn ‘Abdullah and Al-Ḥakam ibn Kaysān, but the Messenger responded, 'We will not release them to you until our two men come forth.' He was referring to Sa‘d ibn Abī Waqqāṣ and ‘Utbah ibn Ghazwān. 'We are concerned', he told them, 'about your treatment of them. If you kill them, we will kill your men.'[31]

When Sa’d and ‘Utbah returned unharmed, the Prophet released the two Quraysh prisoners on payment of their ransom of 1,600 Dirhams.[citation needed] Soon after his release, al-Ḥakam ibn Kaysān became a Muslim. Later, he was killed at expedition of Bi’r Ma‘ūna. The other prisoner, ‘Uthmān bin ‘Abdullah returned to Mecca and died as an unbeliever.

When ‘Abdullah ibn Jaḥsh and his companions had been relieved of their anxiety by the revelation of the Qur'an, they sought reward. They asked the Prophet, ‘’May we hope that this be considered an expedition for which we will be given reward as warriors for Allah's cause?” So Allah revealed concerning them: 'Those who believe and those who have emigrated and those who have fought for Allah's cause, may hope for the mercy of Allah, for Allah is merciful and forgiving' [Quran 2:218].


The Islamic name of this first successful raid is the ‘Nakhla Raid.’ It was also the first raid on which the Muslims seized their first captive, inflicted their first casualty and took hold of their first booties.

After this event, Quraish began to realize the real danger that Madinah could present with. They came to know that Madinah had always been on the alert, watching closely their commercial caravans. It was then common knowledge to them that the Muslims in their new abode could span and extend their military activities over an area of 300 miles and bring it under full control. However, the new situation borne in mind, the Makkans could not be deterred and were too obstinate to come to terms with the new rising power of Islam. They were determined to bring their fall by their own hands and with this recklessness they precipitated the great battle of Badr.

This successful raid on the Quraysh caravans gravely alarmed the Meccans, because their prosperity completely depended upon the regular and un-interrupted trade to Syria.

The trading with Abyssinia and Yemen was of lesser importance. The Nakhla attack also greatly unnerved the Meccans because of its timing, during the sacred months, and because it showed the growing strength of the new Muslim community. So they resolved to avenge the attack, however, the Quraysh restrained their hostility for the time being. A few of the new Muslims still resided at Mecca, including Muhammad's daughter, Zaynab. The Quraysh, still licking their wounds from the caravan attack, did not move to take action against the remaining Muslims at Medina.


This event is mentioned in Ibn Hisham's biography of Muhammad, as well as the Quran, and other historical sources.[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Al-Mubarakpuri, Saifur Rahman (2002), When the Moon Split, DarusSalam, p. 148 
  2. ^ Haykal, Husayn (1976), The Life of Muhammad, Islamic Book Trust, p. 218, ISBN 978-983-9154-17-7 
  3. ^ Witness Pioneer, "Pre-Badr Missions and Invasions"
  4. ^ Haykal, Husayn (1976), The Life of Muhammad, Islamic Book Trust, p. 218, ISBN 978-983-9154-17-7 
  5. ^ Nakhla Raid, 2008 
  6. ^ Witness Pioneer, "Pre-Badr Missions and Invasions"
  7. ^ Nakhla Raid Quran Verse, 2008 
  8. ^ Hawarey, Dr. Mosab (2010). The Journey of Prophecy; Days of Peace and War (Arabic). Islamic Book Trust. Note: Book contains a list of battles of Muhammad in Arabic, English translation available here
  9. ^ Mubarakpuri, Saifur Rahman Al (2005), The sealed nectar: biography of the Noble Prophet, Darussalam Publications, p. 245, ISBN 978-9960-899-55-8 
  10. ^ Al-Sīrah, Ibn Kathīr, volume2, p245
  11. ^ Al-Sīrah, Ibn Kathīr, volume2, p243
  12. ^ Al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, Ibn Kathīr, volume2, p245
  13. ^ Al-Sīrah, Ibn Kathīr, volume2, p245
  14. ^ Al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, Ibn Kathīr, volume2, p242
  15. ^ Ibn Kathīr, volume2, p242
  16. ^ Ar-Raḥīq al-Makhtūm, p128
  17. ^ Al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, Ibn Kathīr, volume2, p245
  18. ^ Ibn Kathir, v2,p242
  19. ^ Witness Pioneer, "Pre-Badr Missions and Invasions"
  20. ^ Mubarakpuri, Saifur Rahman Al (2005), The sealed nectar: biography of the Noble Prophet, Darussalam Publications, p. 246, ISBN 978-9960-899-55-8 
  21. ^ Ibn Kathīr, v2, p242
  22. ^ Mubarakpuri, Saifur Rahman Al (2005), The sealed nectar: biography of the Noble Prophet, Darussalam Publications, p. 246, ISBN 978-9960-899-55-8 
  23. ^ Ibn Kathir, v2,p243
  24. ^ Ibn Kathir, v2,p242
  25. ^ Nakhla Raid Quran Verse, 2008 
  26. ^ Saifur Raḥmān al-Mubārakpuri, Ar-Raḥīq al-Makhtūm, p128
  27. ^ Ibn Kathīr, v2, p243
  28. ^ Sirah by Shibli Nu’mani
  29. ^ Witness Pioneer, "Pre-Badr Missions and Invasions"
  30. ^ Muḥammad Ibn ʻAbd al-Wahhāb, Imam (2003). Mukhtaṣar zād al-maʻād. Darussalam publishers Ltd. p. 347. ISBN 978-9960-897-18-9. 
  31. ^ Ibn Kathīr, v2, p244
  32. ^ Mubarakpuri, Saifur Rahman Al (2005), The sealed nectar: biography of the Noble Prophet, Darussalam Publications, p. 247, ISBN 978-9960-899-55-8  See footnote 1, page 247