Military career of Muhammad
The military career of Muhammad (c. 570 – 8 June 632), the founder of Islam, encompasses several expeditions and battles throughout the Hejaz region in the western Arabian Peninsula which took place in the final ten years of his life, from 622 to 632. His primary campaign was against his own tribe in Mecca, the Quraysh. Muhammad proclaimed prophethood around 610 and later migrated to Medina after being persecuted by the Quraysh in 622. After several battles against the Quraysh, Muhammad conquered Mecca in 629, ending his campaign against the tribe.
- Certainly, it can come as a jolt to discover that, with a single exception, we have no extant descriptions of the Battle of Badr that date from before the ninth century AD. We do not even have Ibn Ishaq’s original biography of Muhammad—only revisions and reworkings. As for the material on which Ibn Ishaq himself drew upon for his researches, it has long since vanished. Set against the triumphal hubbub raised by Arab historians in the ninth century, let alone the centuries that followed, the silence is deafening and perplexing. The precise state of play bears spelling out. Over the course of almost two hundred years, the Arabs, a people never noted for their reticence, and whose motivation, we are told, had been an utterly consuming sense of religious certitude, had set themselves to conquering the world—and yet in all that time, they composed not a single record of their victories, not one, that has survived into the present day. How could this possibly have been so, when even on the most barbarous fringes of civilisation, even in Britain, even in the north of England, books of history were being written during this same period, and copied, and lovingly tended? Why, when the savage Northumbrians were capable of preserving the writings of a scholar such as Bede, do we have no Muslim records from the age of Muhammad? Why not a single Arab account of his life, nor of his followers’ conquests, nor of the progress of his religion, from the whole of the near two centuries that followed his death?
Even the sole exception to the rule—a tiny shred of papyrus discovered in Palestine and dated to around AD 740—serves only to compound the puzzle.
- Tom Holland - In the Shadow of the Sword_ The Birth of Islam and the Rise of the Global Arab Empire-Doubleday (2012)
- Muhammad was a prince; he rallied his compatriots around him. In a few years, the Muslims conquered half of the world. They plucked more souls from false gods, knocked down more idols, razed more pagan temples in fifteen years than the followers of Moses and Jesus did in fifteen centuries. Muhammad was a great man. He would indeed have been a god, if the revolution that he had performed had not been prepared by the circumstances.
- Napoleon I of France in Campagnes d'Egypte et Syrie (1998), Imprimerie Nationale, p. 275. as translated by John v. Tolan in European Accounts of Muhammad's Life. Napoleon wrote his memoirs on the island of Saint Helena. It is here he develops his portrait of Muhammad as a model lawmaker and conqueror.
- Mahomet was a great man, an intrepid soldier; with a handful of men he triumphed at the battle of Bender (sic); a great captain, eloquent, a great man of state, he revived his fatherland and created a new people and a new power in the middle of Arabia.