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The Generalship of Muhammad

Battles and Campaigns of the Prophet of Allah

Russ Rodgers

Publication Year: 2012

There are many biographies of the Prophet, and they tend to fall into three categories: pious works that emphasize the virtues of the early Islamic community, general works for non-Muslim or non-specialist readers, and source-critical works that grapple with historiographical problems inherent in early Islamic history. In The Generalship of Muhammad, Russ Rodgers charts a new path by merging original sources with the latest in military theory to examine Muhammad's military strengths and weaknesses.

Incorporating military, political, and economic analyses, Rodgers focuses on Muhammad’s use of insurgency warfare in seventh-century Arabia to gain control of key cities such as Medina. Seeking to understand the operational aspects of these world-changing battles, he provides battlefield maps and explores the supply and logistic problems that would have plagued any military leader at the time.

Rodgers explains how Muhammad organized his forces and gradually built his movement against sporadic resistance from his foes. He draws from the hadith literature to shed new light on the nature of the campaigns. He examines the Prophet's intelligence network and the employment of what would today be called special operations forces. And he considers the possibility that Muhammad received outside support to build and maintain his movement as a means to interdict trade routes between the Byzantine Empire and the Sasanid Persians.

Published by: University Press of Florida

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii

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pp. 1-21

It is necessary to provide you, the reader, with an idea about the scope and nature of this military analysis of the campaigns of Muhammad, along with a few of the important specialized terms and the types of sources used. In the modern world...

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1. Revolution

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pp. 22-50

Muhammad’s life did not start out remarkably. He was born in the Hashim clan of the Quraysh, the leading tribe that controlled Makkah. However, the Hashim clan had fallen on hard times and was in decline.1 This was exacerbated by Muhammad’s own immediate circumstances, for his father died around...

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2. The Insurgency Grows

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pp. 51-77

As Muhammad’s camel approached Madinah, most traditional accounts state that the people poured forth in acclamation. However, there are sources that suggest the people were more frightened than jubilant, a sure indication of the tension brought by the Prophet and his intent on waging war...

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3. The Road to Badr

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pp. 78-103

It took the prophet about seven months to organize his first expedition. 1 While there is some disagreement among the sources as to which expedition came first, for our purposes here this is immaterial. For the sake of clarity, the analysis made of these operations will generally follow the timeline established...

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4. From Elation to Despair

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pp. 104-132

One of the first things Muhammad did when he returned to Madinah after the astonishing Muslim victory at Badr was to sit down and relax in his mosque. Such was well deserved, for the Prophet had risked everything, staking the entire future on one moment to achieve his triumph. He was certainly...

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5. From the Mountain to the Trench

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pp. 133-167

The Muslim defeat at Uhud could have been decisive, but the Quraysh had failed to plan on following up any victory. Having withdrawn back to Makkah, they left Muhammad and the Muslims in position to recover from their loss and rebuild their movement. For the first six months after the defeat, from...

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6. The Surge

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pp. 168-192

After the destruction of the Banu Qurayzah in January 627, Muhammad allowed his fighters to take a well-deserved break. It would seem that during this interlude he increased his horse-mounted force sixfold, organizing a cavalry...

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7. Triumph

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pp. 193-230

The Treaty of al-Hudaybiyah had been a “signal victory” for the Prophet. For the Quraysh, the immediate success of having stopped Muhammad’s raids was offset by the ongoing trade boycotts against them, the rising tide of famine in the city of Makkah, and the unexpected onslaught of Abu Basir’s...

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8. The Generalship of Muhammad, the Prophet of Allah

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pp. 231-250

It had been twenty-three years from the time Muhammad took on the task to be the Prophet of Allah to the pinnacle of his triumph and death. He had gone from keeping his followers a closely guarded secret to being the de facto king of most of Arabia, although there were still some pockets of resistance...

Glossary of Terms

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pp. 251-254


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pp. 255-298


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pp. 299-308


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pp. 309-317

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About the Author

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p. 327-327

Russ Rodgers is currently command historian with the U.S. Army and former adjunct professor of history. His previous publications include Fundamentals of Islamic Asymmetric Warfare: A Documentary Analysis of the Principles...

E-ISBN-13: 9780813042718
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813037660
Print-ISBN-10: 0813037662

Page Count: 320
Illustrations: 1 figure, 12 maps, 15 tables
Publication Year: 2012