Zaid bin Harithah leads a Campaign on the Trade Routes of Quraish
This was the most successful campaign prior to Uhud Battle. It took place in Jumada Ath-Thaniyah, the year 3 A.H.
Summer approached and it was high time for the Makkan trade caravans to leave for Syria. The people of Quraish whose lives depended mainly on a mercantile economy consisting of summer caravans to Syria and winter caravans to Abyssinia (Ethiopia), were now at a loss as to what route they would have to follow in order to avoid the backbreaking military strikes that the Muslims successfully inflicted on the polytheists.
They held a meeting to discuss the chances of escaping the economic blockade and decided to go along a trade route across Najd to Iraq. Furat bin Haiyan was appointed as a guide for the caravan. Safwan bin Omaiyah led the caravan along the new route. News of the meeting leaked out through Na‘im bin Mas‘ud Al-Ashja‘i under the effect of wine, and it flew fast to Madinah by Sulit bin An-Nu‘man. The Prophet [PBUH] immediately mustered 100 horsemen under the leadership of Zaid bin Harithah Al-Kalbi and despatched them to intercept and capture the caravan. They caught up with the camels at a place called Al-Qardah. They took the polytheists by surprise and arrested their guide and two other men. Safwan and his guards fled away without showing the least resistance. The caravan was carrying silver and wares whose value amounted to 100 thousand dirhams. The booty was distributed among the Muslim warriors after one-fifth had been set aside for the Prophet [pbuh]. Furat bin Haiyan embraced Islam out of his own sweet free will. [Ibn Hisham 1/50,51; Fiqh As-Seerah p.190; Rahmat-ul-lil'alameen 2/219]
As a result of this episode, the Muslims foiled Quraish’s plans to find a new trade route. The economic siege laid to Makkah was thus consolidated and had a great impact on the mercantile economy of Makkah. The Makkans were terribly anxious and worried about their prospects of life now at stake with no hope whatsoever for any possible rehabilitation of commercial life or redemption of former prestige at the socio-political level except through two avenues categorically contrasting: Relinquishing all symbols of arrogance and all attitudes of haughtiness through reconciliation with the new status quo, and peaceableness with the Muslims; or launching a decisive overwhelming war with the aim of crushing down the military forces of Madinah. It was apparent through the process of events that Quraish had opted for the second alternative. Loud cries were being heard everywhere in Makkah demanding immediate vengeance and quick retaliatory action. These movements on all levels constituted the direct preliminaries to the battle of Uhud.