"It is not for any prophet to have captives untilhe hath made slaughter in the land . Ye desire the lure of this world and Allah desireth [for you] the Hereafter , and Allah is Mighty and Wise  . Had it not been for an ordinance of Allah which has gone before ,an awful doom had come upon you on account of what you took ."
Very interesting ayats indeed the above. I would consider a 'watershed' ayat exposing that the Prophet is not above making humanly wrong political and 'strategically deficient ' decisions !
The scenario was just post Badr , the Ist war waged by the alkafiroons of Mecca on the Muslims in Medina at the fringe of Medina .The alkafiroons were repulsed and suffered defeat.Many were held captive.One was the prophet's uncle ,Abbas himself , Ali's brother as well and Abu Bakar's relatives , and mostly kins and relatives from Mecca .War of "ex relatives' mainly .
Abu Bakar ,Ali and other counseled the Prophet to take a lenient view and send words to Mecca for payments to be made for release of prisoners of war .This was the popular view .Omar Al Khatab took a different perspective of things even though his relatives were also involved .Burn them down or outright slaughter ,forget about enlarging the post war booty .This was the minority view and the Prophet concurred with the majority .A decision was made .Prisoner exchange happened .
The next day when Omar Al Khatab visited the Prophet and Abu Bakar at their tents he found both of them in tears . Jibrail had visited Prophet Muhammad the night earlier and imparted to him the above ayats .
As if to 'emphasised' the wrong decision made ,Allah gave the alkafiruoons of Mecca emphatic victory at Uhud not many months after Badr when the Muslims suffered heavy losses in casualty .The meccans fresh from the prisoner exchange with 'cash option' had new vigour and allowed to regroup and came back with vengeance .
Of course if one were an orientalist and read the above ayat as a "stand alone" ayat , without the context of Badr [ the Ist war staged by people out to annihilate you at the budding stage before the perceived 'disease' become 'cancerous'] ,one could use this as a cannon to say that Islam was and is barbaric .But we have history to judge us : Jews , Christianity and Islam flourished in 500 years of Muslim Spain to be followed by blood letting of historic proportion during the Spanish Inquisition .
Look at senior and junior Bush Iraq for that matter .Present day Israel. Bosnia .Chechnya .........The list goes on .}
This principle of human fallibility with respect to ''technical'' decisions can also be seen just before the Badr warfare .The Muslims were trying to stop the alkafiroons before the fringe of Medina .They reach a certain spot when the Prophet decided to be the right spot to make camp and wait for the enemy there .One young chap experienced in desert warfare asked the prophet whether his decision was divinely inspired' or was it strategy .The Prophet answered it was his very own thinking and strategy .The young man pointed out the decision was flawed as a "wadi" was situated not very far ahead and strategywise it would be better to be waiting for the enemy beyond the wadi .The Prophet agreed and broke camp .
Here in raising the issue the bright and brave young man is differentiating Muhammad the man from Muhammad the Prophet .
Muhammad the Prophet was and will always be the most perfect man ever on earth ,but as this example exemplified ,he was not the most perfect general .Or camel driver or scientist or medical practitioner for that matter !
Allah hualam !
Dr Nik Howk