Ibn Abbas related that the Prophet (SAWS) said, "The nations were presented to me. I saw the prophet having a party of people with him, the prophet having one or two men with him, the prophet having no one with him. Then a great mass of people was shown to me, so I thought that they were my nation, but it was said to me, 'This is Musa and his people, but look at the horizon.' Behold! A great mass of people! It was said to me, 'Look at the other horizon.' Behold! A great mass of people! It was said to me, 'This is your nation, and among them are seventy thousand who will enter the Garden without reckoning or punishment'."
He then got up and entered his house, and the people began speculating about those special believers. Some of them said, "Perhaps they are those who accompanied the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace." Others said, "Perhaps they are those who were born in Islam and so never associated any partners with Allah at all." Others said various things.
Then the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came out to them and they informed him of their discussion, so he said, "They are those who do not seek spiritual cures for physical ailments, who do not practice cauterisation, and who do not draw omens, but put their trust totally in their Lord."
So 'Ukkashah bin Mihsan stood up and said, "Pray to Allah to make me among them."
He replied, "You are among them."
Another man stood up and said, "Pray to Allah to make me among them."
He replied, "'Ukkashah beat you to it."1
Of the false prophets who remained after the death of Aswad, the first to clash with the Muslims was Tulaiha bin Khuwailid. He was a chief of the tribe of Bani Asad, and had been opposing the Holy Prophet off and on for many years.
Tulaiha first showed his hostility to Islam three months after the Battle of Uhud. Believing that the Muslims had been badly hurt in that battle, he got his clan together with the intention of raiding Madinah and thus exploiting what he regarded as a fine opportunity; but the Prophet came to know of the concentration of the clan and sent a mounted column of 150 horsemen to deal with it. Before Tulaiha could get wind of this counter-move the Muslim horsemen were upon him. The infidels scattered without a fight, and the Muslims captured the flocks of the clan and drove them off to Madinah as spoils. This setback so discredited Tulaiha in the eyes of his tribe that he had to lie low for a while.
Then he took part in the Battle of the Ditch. Responding eagerly to the invitation of the Jews to take up arms against the Muslims, he got together a contingent from the Bani Asad and commanded it in the coalition that besieged Madinah. When Abu Sufyan withdrew from Madinah, the Bani Asad also returned to their settlements. Again Tulaiha got nowhere.
The next occasion on which he opposed the Muslims was their campaign against the Jews of Khaibar in 628 (7 Hijri). The Bani Asad, operating under Tulaiha, sided with the Jews. During the movement of the Muslim army towards Khaibar, Tulaiha fought a number of minor engagements with the Muslims but was worsted every time. Then he pulled out his forces and abandoned the Jews to their fate.
Two years later, during the 'Year of Delegations', the Bani Asad sent a delegation to Madinah which offered submission to the Prophet. The whole tribe accepted Islam, but like many other tribes of Arabia its conversion was a matter of political convenience rather than genuine belief. Outwardly Tulaiha also embraced Islam. Whether infidel or Muslim Tulaiha continued to enjoy considerable influence in his tribe as a chief and a soothsayer. He would foretell the future, dabble in clairvoyance and recite poetry.
During the illness of the Prophet, in fact a few days before the Prophet died, Tulaiha made a bid for independence. He declared himself a prophet! He called upon his people to follow him, and many did. When word arrived of the Holy Prophet's death, he intensified his efforts to establish himself as the new prophet, and as the contagion of the apostasy spread over Arabia, the entire tribe of Bani Asad flocked to his standard, accepting him as chief and prophet. To mark the severance of his ties with Madinah, Tulaiha expelled the Muslim tax collector of his area-a valiant young man by the name of Barar bin Al Azwar, of whom the account of the Campaign in Syria will have much to say.
Having proclaimed himself prophet, Tulaiha felt that he had to do something about religion in order to prove that he really was an apostle of Allah. He could think of no better way of creating a spectacular effect than by altering the form of prayer. He abolished prostration, which is an integral part of the Muslim prayer ritual. "Allah does not want us to invert our faces", he declared, "or bend our backs in an ugly posture. Pray standing!"2 And the Bani Asad prayed without prostration after their impostor.
With the spread of the apostasy the ranks of his followers swelled. He received offers of support from the major tribes of North-Central Arabia, the staunchest of which were the Ghatfan, followed by the Tayy, with both of which the Bani Asad had an old and abiding alliance. There was support also from the Hawazin and the Bani Sulaim, but this was lukewarm. Although these two great tribes also apostatised and fought the Muslims, they did not join Tulaiha and did not fight under his standard.
1. Bukhari, Muslim and Ahmad. Sahih Al-Jami Al-Saghir No. 3999 and Kitab Al-Tawhid of Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab, Chapter 3.