The life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) as a role model for human beings encompasses all aspects of life. Besides all other faculties, as a military strategist too, he (PBUH) set the most perfect examples of sagacity and prudence. Throughout his life, he (PBUH) exhibited the most consummate military leadership skills for protecting Muslims as well as the nascent Islamic state. Even before establishing the state of Medina, he (PBUH) was cognizant of the importance of military training of Makkan Muslims where they were being persecuted by the infidels.
When the atrocities of infidels became intolerable, the Prophet (PBUH) allowed Muslims to migrate to Abyssinia during 5th and 6th year of prophethood in 615 and 616 AD respectively. In 621 AD, he (PBUH) ordered Muslims to secretly migrate to Medina in small bands and in June 622 AD, when the Makkan infidels conspired to murder him, the Prophet (PBUH) also migrated to Medina along with his great companion Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA).
After reaching Medina and establishing the first Islamic city state in 622 AD, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) gave more attention to military organization of Muslims as the infidels were adamant on annihilating them. In 624 AD, a large army of infidels attacked Medina. Both the armies met at the place of “Badr” near Medina. In this first test of his military leadership skills, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) proved the mettle of his most consummate skills at carving out military strategies. He (PBUH) not only sent spies to know the exact military strength of the enemy, but when it came to fighting he (PBUH) reached the battleground well before enemy, got hold of water source, selected better position and organized army in different ranks as well. This strategy played the decisive role in the victory of Muslims who were only 313 in number up against a 1000-strong well-equipped force. In this battle, nearly 70 infidels were killed and as many were made Prisoners of War.
These prisoners were treated kindly and humanely and the Holy Prophet (PBUH) freed the literate prisoners on the condition that each one of them would teach the art of reading and writing to 10 Muslims. This kindness toward POWs was unprecedented in the annals of military history of the whole world.
Only a year later, in 625AD, in order to avenge the Badr defeat, the Quraish again attacked Medina with 3000-strong well-equipped military. They encamped near a hill called Ohud, in the north of Medina. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) positioned his army of nearly 700 Muslims on the western slope of the hill with Mount Ohud behind it on the top of which was a little pass. Though the rear was safe due to the hill, yet there was a possibility that the pass could be crossed or circumvented by the Quraish cavalry. Anticipating this danger, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) posted there a band of 50 archers under the command of Hazrat Abdullah bin Jubayr. He instructed them, “Stick to your place, and don’t leave it even if you see birds snatching us, till I send for you; and if you see that we have defeated the infidels and made them flee, even then you should not leave your place till I send for you.”
Muslims drew first blood in the battle and the infidels started slowly turning on their heels. Sensing a complete Muslim victory, that 50-man band left the position without the approval of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). When that unprotected pass was noticed by fleeing infidels, they reassembled and attacked Muslims who were busy in collecting the spoils of war from that strategic pass. The Muslims were taken aback, and were defeated. Nevertheless, the battle proved the strength and success of military skills of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) as it was the breach of his command that converted the triumph of Muslims into a defeat.
Two years later, in 627 AD, the Quraish and their allies gathered a large army of more than 10,000 men for exterminating the Muslims, once for all. On the other side, the Muslims could muster an army of only 3000 men. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) made consultations with his companions regarding the preparation of war plans. It was decided that Medina could be protected easily on three sides — on its northern side was shelters of steep cliffs whereas on its eastern and western sides were houses — because the only unprotected side was the southern one. Prophet’s Companion Hazrat Salman (RA) put forward a suggestion to dig a trench on that side. It was accepted and executed thereupon. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) himself took part in digging of the trench that was too broad to be passed by men or horses. When the infidels reached Medina, they were unable to enter the city. Stopped by the ditch, they laid a siege to Medina that lasted for many days. With the passage of time, the annoyance among infidels soared and their supplies too began to run short. So, they had to return unsuccessful. On account of hectic consultations by the Holy Prophet (PBUH), which is an integral part of military strategy, the City State of Medina was saved from destruction. It was the Holy Prophet (PBUH) who successfully used trench as a defence strategy for the first time in the military history of Arabia.
After the truce of Hudaybiyah was broken by the Quraish when they sided with the tribe of Banu Bakr, the Holy Prophet (PBUH), in 630 AD, led an army of 10,000 soldiers towards Makkah. Since it was a surprise attack, so every precaution was taken to keep the infidels unaware of the coming of the Muslim army.
On the eve of the attack, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) used his unique skills and ordered his soldiers to cook their food individually rather than in a collective kitchen. Resultantly, 10000 fires could be seen from a distance. The Quraish surveyed the scene and concluded that an army of 50000 men was poised to attack Makkah, which shattered their morale and they decided not to put resistance and hence surrendered. So, this excellent military strategy of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) enabled the Muslims to conquer Makkah without bloodshed. Another unique display of the Prophet’s (PBUH) military genius was seen during the conquest of Makkah where he showed mercy for those who had opposed him tooth and nail by announcing a general amnesty for all the Makkans. As a result of those merciful and dignified steps, the Makkans entered the fold of Islam in bulk, which buttressed military strength of Muslims and made their defence impregnable.
During his whole life, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) took part in as many as 26 wars, and in all he exhibited excellent military skills. He always led the Muslims from the front and preached that martyrdom was better than turning back in the battlefield. He was careful and cognizant of military preparedness of Muslims and made arrangements for imparting military training to Muslims during peacetime as well. Races of men, horses and camels were organized. Wrestling and archery competitions were held. Some Muslims were sent to Yemen for getting training in the use of weapons for subduing forts.
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) was careful even about trivial matters during wars such as ensuring that the morning sun did not face the soldiers directly and direction of wind did not obstruct the movement of horses and soldiers. Hence, we can easily conclude that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is the most supreme role model for military strategists of all times.