He commanded Bilal to announce that he would pursue the Kureisch, and put himself, stricken and suffering, at the head of the expedition. They reached Safra, and remained there three days, returning then to Medina with the announcement that the Kureisch had eluded them. This sortie was nothing more than a manifestation of courage, and by it Mahomet hoped to restore in a measure his shaken confidence in the city, and also to apprise the Kureisch that he was not utterly crushed.
But his defeat had damaged his prestige far more than a mere expedition could remedy, and his followers were aghast at his humiliation. Their world was upturned. It was as if the Lord Himself, for whom they had suffered so much, had suddenly demonstrated His frailty and human weakness. And the malcontents in Medina triumphed, especially the Jews, who saw with joy some measure of the Prophet’s brutality towards them being meted to him in turn. The situation was grave, and Mahomet’s reputation must be at all costs re-established. He retired for some time to his own quarters, and received the revelation of part of Sura iii, wherein he explains the whole matter, urging first that Allah was pleased to make a selection between the brave and the cowardly, the weak and the steadfast, and then that the defeat was the punishment for disobeying his divine commands. The passage is written in Mahomet’s most forcible style, and stands out clearly as a reliable account, for neither the defeat of the Muslim, nor their own culpability, are minimised. The martyrs at Ohod receive at his hands their crown of praise.
“And repute not those slain on God’s path to be dead. Nay, alive with their Lord are they, and richly sustained. Rejoicing in what God of His bounty hath vouchsafed, filled with joy at the favours of God, and at His mercy; and that God suffereth not the reward of the faithful to perish.”
He spends most time, however, in speaking for the encouragement of his sorely tried flock, and for the confusion of those who doubt him. The revelation came in answer to a direct need, and is inseparable from the events which called it forth.
As far as was possible it achieved its purpose, for the Faithful received it with humility, but it could not fully restore the shaken confidence in the Prophet.
The immediate result of the battle of Ohod was to render Mahomet free from any more threatenings from the Kureisch, who had fulfilled the task of overawing him into quietude towards them, but its ultimate results were far-reaching and endured for many years; in fact, it was by reason of the reverse at Ohod that the next period of his life is crowded with defensive and punitive expeditions, and attacks upon his followers by desert tribes. His position at Medina had been rendered thoroughly insecure, and every tribe deemed it possible to accomplish some kind of demonstration against him. Jew and Arabian both pitted themselves against the embryo state, and the powerful desert allies of the Kureisch constituted a perpetual menace to his own stronghold. It was only when he had murdered or exiled every Jew, and carried out repeated campaigns against the tribes of the interior, that his position in Medina was removed beyond possibility of assailment.