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Home > Books > Arab Archery > III. On the excellence of the Arab bow, its use, adoption, the reward of the maker of its arrows, its target, urging the mastery of its technique, the offence of him who discards it after he has learned its use, and the first to use and the first to make it
III. On the excellence of the Arab bow, its use, adoption, the reward of the maker of its arrows, its target, urging the mastery of its technique, the offence of him who discards it after he has learned its use, and the first to use and the first to make it

SAID GOD: "Make ready against them what force ye can." This was interpreted by the Apostle of God as marksmanship. The learned judge abu-al-Faḍl ‘Iyāḍ, in appraising the different commentaries upon these passages, said that the Apostle of God had once declared: "The hand of man has not reached to an implement of war to which the bow and arrow are not superior." Said he again: "Use ye the spear and the Arab bow, for with them was your prophet victorious and with their might have ye conquered the earth."

Anas also related that never has the bow been mentioned before the Apostle of God except he said no weapon excelled it.

The Apostle said on another occasion that Gabriel approached him on the day of the Battle of Badr brandishing an Arab bow. And again when ‘Ali appeared before him carrying an Arab bow, the Apostle exclaimed: "Thus hath Gabriel stood before me. O God, to him who seeketh therewith game for meat, give Thou sustenance, and to him who seeketh therewith Thine aid, give victory, and to him who seeketh therewith livelihood, give maintenance."

It was also related that whenever the Apostle mounted the pulpit to deliver a speech or a sermon, he used to lean against an Arab bow. It was also reported that he had used his bow until the siyahs[1] wore out. It was then taken by Qatādah ibn-al-Nu‘mān who kept it until it passed on to the Caliphs. It is now in the caliphal treasury along with the Holy Relics. Its sweet scent is noticeable to anyone standing near the Holy Relics, since its grip is redolent with the perspiration of the Prophet's palm, and will diffuse therefrom like musk until the day of resurrection.

It was reported that the Prophet had three bows. One was backed (al-mu‘aqqabah), called "The sweet smelling" (al-rawḥā’); another was made of the shawḥāṭ[2] wood, called "The white one" (al-bayḍā’) ; and the third made of the nab‘ wood, was called "The yellow one" (al-ṣafrā’).

When ‘Uqbah ibn-‘Āmir died, he left seventy bows, each with its own full quiver.

The Arab bow is that which was sent down to Adam from Paradise and which he used. It was also related that the first to construct the Arab bow and to use it was Abraham. He made a bow for each of his sons, Ishmael and Isaac, both of whom were skillful in its use. The Arab bow was also used by the Prophet Muhammad and by his Companions. It is the same kind of bow that Gabriel carried when he appeared before the Prophet on the day of the Battle of Badr.

Thus it is the duty of every free, adult, and sane Moslem to learn the use of the Arab bow and teach it to his offspring.

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