The acts of mischief and seditious behavior perpetrated by the tribes of Sulaim, and Ghaṭafan, etc. have already been mentioned above. These tribes inhabited the central region of Arabia in the Satḥ e-Murtafa‘ Najd and had allied with the Quraish of Makkah against the Muslims. Slowly but surely, the evil of these mischievous tribes was continuing to grow and the Satḥ-e-Murtafa‘ Najd was continuing to be poisoned with the venom of enmity against Islam. As such, in the days we are describing now, an individual named Abu Barra’ ‘Amiri, who was a chieftain of the tribe situated in central Arabia known as the Banu ‘Amir, presented himself before the Holy Prophet in order to meet him. Rasulullah ﷺ very gently and kindly conveyed the message of Islam to him and at the outset he also listened to the address of Rasulullah ﷺ with interest and attention, but did not accept Islam. Albeit, he submitted Rasulullah ﷺ, “Send a few Companions along with me to Najd, who can travel there and preach the message of Islam to the people of Najd. I am confident that the people of Najd will not reject your message.” Rasulullah ﷺ said, “I do not trust the people of Najd.” Abu Barra’ responded, “Do not worry, I guarantee their security.”
Since Abu Barra’ was the chief of a tribe and was an influential man, Rasulullah ﷺ took his word and dispatched a party of Companions towards Najd. This is the narration as it is related by history. It is narrated in Bukhari that a few people from the tribes of Ri‘l and Dhakwan, etc. (which were branches of the renowned tribe known as the Banu Sulaim) presented themselves before Rasulullah ﷺ and claimed to accept Islam. Then they requested that a few men should be dispatched along with them to assist them against those people of their nation who were enemies of Islam (there is no elaboration as to the nature of the assistance they requested – missionary or military). Upon this, Rasulullah ﷺ sent off this company. Ibni Sa‘d has also recorded a narration in support of this, but has not given it preference over the other one.
However, unfortunately with respect to the details of Bi‘r-e-Ma‘unah, even the details as narrated in Bukhari have become mixed to a degree, due to which all the relevant facts cannot be identified in full.
In any case, however, what is ascertained for certain is that on this occasion, the people belonging to the tribes of Ri‘l and Dhakwan, etc. presented themselves before Rasulullah ﷺ as well, and they requested for a few Companions to be sent along with them. One prospect for the reconciliation of both these narrations is that perhaps Abu Barra’ ‘Amiri, chieftain of the ‘Amir tribe, also came along with the people of Ri‘l and Dhakwan, and he spoke to Rasulullah ﷺ on their behalf. As such, according to the historical account, Rasulullah ﷺ said, “I do not trust the people of Najd,” to which he responded, “Do not worry, I give you the assurance that your Companions shall not be harmed.” This indicates that the people of Ri‘l and Dhakwan had also come with Abu Barra’ and Rasulullah ﷺ was concerned on their account. In any case, Rasulullah ﷺ dispatched a party of Companions under the leadership of Mundhir bin ‘Amr Anṣari in Ṣafar 4 A.H.
These people were mostly from the Anṣar and totalled seventy in number, and almost all of them were Qaris, i.e., they were well-versed in the Holy Qur’an. They would collect wood from the jungle by day to make ends meet and would spend a better part of the night in worship. When these people reached a place known as Bi‘r-e-Ma‘unah, which was named as such due to a water well, an individual named Ḥaram bin Milḥan, who was the maternal uncle of Anas bin Malik, went forward with the message of Islam to ‘Amir bin Ṭufail, who was chief of the ‘Amir tribe and paternal nephew of Abu Barra’ ‘Amiri. The rest of the Companions remained behind. When Ḥaram bin Milḥan arrived to meet ‘Amir bin Ṭufail and his followers as an emissary of Rasulullah ﷺ, at first, they warmly welcomed him in their hypocrisy; but after he had been fully seated and made to feel at ease, and began to preach the message of Islam, a few evil ones from among them made a signal to someone, who struck this innocent emissary with a spear from behind and put him to death there and then. At the time, the following words were on the tongue of Ḥaram bin Milḥan i.e., “Allah is the Greatest. By the Lord of the Ka‘bah, I have attained my objective.” ‘Amir bin Ṭufail did not suffice upon the murder of this emissary of Rasulullah ﷺ alone.
Rasulullah ﷺ and his Companions received news of the incidents of Raji‘ and Bi‘r-e-Ma‘unah at more or less the same time Rasulullah ﷺ was deeply grieved by these incidents, to the extent that narrations relate that Rasulullah ﷺ was never so deeply grieved by anything before or after these events.
Undoubtedly, for approximately eighty Companions to be suddenly murdered by deception, especially such Companions who were Ḥuffaẓ of the Holy Qur’an, and were from a poor and selfless class of people, was no small event, even by standards of the barbaric customs and practices of Arabia. For Rasulullah ﷺ personally, this news was no different than the loss of eighty sons, rather, even more so. The reason being that for a spiritual man, spiritual bonds are far dearer to him than the worldly relations of a worldly man. Hence, Rasulullah ﷺ was deeply grieved by these tragic events, but in any case, Islam teaches patience. After this, Rasulullah ﷺ said the following words:
“This is a result of the action of Abi Barra’, for I had disliked sending off these people and was apprehensive of the people of Najd.” The incidents of Bi‘r-e-Ma‘unah and Raji‘ demonstrate the intense level of hatred and animosity which the tribes of Arabia harboured in their hearts against Islam and the followers of Islam, to the extent that they would not even refrain from the most despicable lies, treachery and deceit. Despite the remarkable intelligence and vigilance of the Muslims, due to their thinking well of others, which is the hallmark of a believer, at times they would be lured into their trap. These were Ḥuffaẓ of the Qur’an and devoted worshippers, who would supplicate during the nights, sit in a corner of the mosque and remember Allah; then they were poor and hunger-stricken people, who were lured out of their homeland by these cruel disbelievers with the excuse of ‘teaching them religion’; and when they had reached their land as guests, they were murdered in cold blood. Any level of grief suffered by Rasulullah ﷺ would not have been enough.
“O Our Master! Have mercy upon us and hold back the hands of the enemies of Islam who are ruthlessly and stone-heartedly spilling the blood of innocent Muslims with the intention that Your religion may be expunged.”