This incident has already been mentioned in reference to Hazrat Miqdad (ra), where it was stated that although they came with the disbelievers, they fled from them and joined the Muslims. In light of the various historical sources, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) has mentioned in his book, The Life & Character of the Seal of Prophets (sa) about the commencement of Jihad of the sword, and other details regarding the defensive actions that the Holy Prophet (sa) took:
“It has already been mentioned that the first Quranic verse which allowed Jihad by the sword was revealed on 12 Safar 2 AH. In other words, the divine indication which was made of defensive war in the migration, was officially announced in Safar 2 AH, when the Holy Prophet (sa) had become discharged of his initial undertakings relevant to his stay at Medina, and in this manner, Jihad began. It is discovered through history that the Holy Prophet (sa) initially employed four strategies in order to protect the Muslims from the evil of the disbelievers. This is conclusive evidence of the expert political aptitude and military insight of the Holy Prophet (sa).
“These strategies are as follows:
“Firstly, the Holy Prophet (sa) began travelling to nearby tribes and establishing peace treaties with them, so that the surrounding region of Medina would become free of threat. In this respect, the Holy Prophet (sa) gave special consideration to those tribes who were situated close to the Syrian trade route of the Quraish. As every individual may gather, it was these tribes in particular, from whom the Quraish of Mecca could have derived most benefit against the Muslims and whose enmity could have resulted in severe threats for the Muslims.
“Secondly, the Holy Prophet (sa) began to dispatch small companies in order to obtain intelligence in different directions from Medina, so that he was able to remain informed of the movements of the Quraish and their allies; and the Quraish also understood that the Muslims were not oblivious, so that in this manner, Medina could be safeguarded from the dangers of sudden attacks.
“Thirdly, another wisdom in dispatching these parties was so that the weak and poor Muslims of Mecca and its surrounding areas could find an opportunity by these means, to join the Muslims of Medina. Until now, there were many people in the region of Medina who were Muslims at heart, but were unable to publicly profess their belief in Islam due to the cruelties of the Quraish. Furthermore, due to their poverty and weakness, they were unable to migrate either because the Quraish would forcefully hold back such people from migrating. As such, Allah states in the Holy Quran:
وَ مَا لَکُمۡ لَا تُقَاتِلُوۡنَ فِیۡ سَبِیۡلِ اللّٰہِ وَ الۡمُسۡتَضۡعَفِیۡنَ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ وَ النِّسَآءِ وَ الۡوِلۡدَانِ الَّذِیۡنَ یَقُوۡلُوۡنَ رَبَّنَاۤ اَخۡرِجۡنَا مِنۡ ہٰذِہِ الۡقَرۡیَۃِ الظَّالِمِ اَہۡلُہَا ۚ وَ اجۡعَلۡ لَّنَا مِنۡ لَّدُنۡکَ وَلِیًّا ۚۙ وَّ اجۡعَلۡ لَّنَا مِنۡ لَّدُنۡکَ نَصِیۡرًا
‘O ye believers! There is no reason that you fight not for the protection of religion, and for those men, women and children who are in a state of weakness, who supplicate saying, “O our Lord! Take us out of this town, whose people are oppressors, and make for us, who are weak, a friend and helper from Thyself.”’
“Hence, one wisdom in dispatching these parties was so that such people could receive the opportunity to be delivered from wrongdoing people. In other words, such people could reach close to Medina along with the caravans of the Quraish, and then escape to join the Muslim forces.”
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra) further writes:
“Therefore, it is evident through history that when the Holy Prophet (sa) dispatched the very first company in the leadership of Ubaidah bin Al-Harith (ra), who happened to encounter a group led by Ikramah bin Abi Jahl, two weak Muslims who had come along with the Quraish, managed to escape from the Quraish and join the Muslims. As such, it is narrated:
“‘In this campaign, when the Muslim party encountered the army of the Quraish, two people, namely Miqdad bin Amr (ra) and Utbah bin Ghazwan (ra), who were allies of the Banu Zuhrah and Banu Naufal, fled from the idolaters and joined the Muslims. They were Muslims and had only set out to join the Muslims under the cover of the Quraish.’”
“Therefore, one of the purposes of the Holy Prophet (sa) in dispatching these parties was also to give such people an opportunity to be delivered from the Quraish and join the Muslims.
“Fourthly, the fourth strategy employed by the Holy Prophet (sa) was that he began to intercept the trade caravans of the Quraish which travelled from Mecca to Syria passing by Medina enroute.
“The reason being that firstly, these caravans would spark a fire of enmity against the Muslims wherever they travelled. It is obvious that for a seed of enmity to be sown in the environs of Medina was extremely dangerous for the Muslims. Secondly, these caravans would always be armed and everyone can appreciate that for such caravans to pass by so close to Medina was not empty of danger. Thirdly, the livelihood of the Quraish primarily depended on trade. Therefore, in these circumstances, the most definitive and effective means by which the Quraish could be subdued, their cruelties could be put to an end and they could be pressed to reconciliation, was by obstructing their trade route. As such, history testifies to the fact that among the factors which ultimately compelled the Quraish to incline towards reconciliation, the interception of these trade caravans played an extremely pivotal role. Hence, this was an extremely sagacious strategy, which yielded fruits of success at the appropriate time. Fourthly, the revenue from these caravans of the Quraish was mostly spent in efforts to eliminate Islam, rather some caravans were even sent for the sole purpose that their entire profit may be utilised against the Muslims. In this case, every individual can understand that the interception of these caravans, was in its own right, an absolutely legitimate motive.”
(Sirat Khatamun-Nabiyyin, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra), pp. 323-324)