The news of the change of route reached, Muhammad and he at once sent a band of a hundred horsemen in pursuit of it. The raid was successful and the merchandise and all who were in charge of it were brought to Madina. It was now clear either that the Muslims did not wish for peace, or that the Arab love of looting could not be controlled. The Meccans had to fight for their very existence as a commercial community and for freedom to carry on their daily business. The Meccans were fully justified now in taking vigorous action. The immediate cause of the battle of Badr was Muhammad's attempt to capture a caravan; that of Uhud his successful seizure of one. Muhammad wisely wished to act on the defensive, but was overborne by the younger and more ardent of his followers, who represented to him that the Bedouin tribes, now beginning to be impressed with a sense of. his power, would set down a defensive attitude to cowardice, and that doubt would also be cast on his previous claims to supernatural aid in times of danger. This had been so strongly urged as a proof of the divine nature of his mission that any action now, implying distrust in its recurrence, would be fatal to his prestige. So he gave way and agreed to give battle to the Quraish, saying, 'If ye be steadfast, the Lord will grant you the victory.'

Many single combats 'were fought, but when both sides became generally engaged the result was a very severe defeat for the Muslim forces. The Prophet himself also was badly wounded. This made him angry and he said: 'How shall the people prosper that have treated thus their Prophet,


who calleth them unto their Lord. Let the wrath of God burn against the men that have sprinkled the face of His Apostle with blood.'1 The Quraish satisfied with the victory at Uhud did not follow up their success, but retired to Mecca.2 Thus ended the battle of Uhud.

Tradition has raised the rank of the Muslims who fell at this battle to the position of martyrs; but the immediate effect of the defeat was most disastrous. 3 The victory at Badr had been made the occasion of so great a claim to divine assistance that this defeat at Uhud naturally led to the idea that God had now forsaken the cause. The Jews

1 Waqidi, quoted in Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. iii, p. 175.
2 Maulavi Muhammad 'Ali in his commentary (p. 185) on the verse ' after the trouble God sent down security upon you ' (Sura Al-'Imran (iii) 147) translates security (
نُعاساً ) by 'a calm', because the enemy retired and so the Muslims were not really defeated. But the cause of retirement was not any doubt as to their power, or through fear. The Meccans were satisfied when they saw that they could and would protect their caravans. That done, they had no desire to further punish the Muslims.
Further, according to Waqidi, the Meccans had heard the report that Muhammad was dead and said, 'Since Muhammad is dead, let us go back to our homes.' They retired because the object of their great victory was gained.
3 The Quraish took advantage of this spirit of depression and attempted to seduce the Muslims to renounce their faith in the Prophet but he was quite equal to the occasion:—

O ye who have believed! if ye obey the infidels, they will cause you to turn upon your heels and ye will fall back into perdition. Sura Al-'Imran (iii) 142.

Husain says that it was the Munafiqun who said to the true Muslims that the time of the Prophet had passed away, that the infidels had regained power, and that they should again turn back to their own old religion.

منافقا مومنانرا مى كفنندكة اين زمان بيغمبر كشتة شد ورايت دولت كفار استيلا يافت شمارا ديكر بارة بدين خود رجوع با يد كرد
Tafsir-i-Husaini, p. 75 —
Baidawi says it refers to the Munafiqun who said:—
ارجعو الى اخوانكم ودينكم ولو كان محمد نبياً لما قَتل
'Return to your brethren and your religion: if Muhammad had been a Prophet he would not have been slain.' Vol. i, p. 179.