In the battle of Uhud ,Five champions named 'Amr bin Abdiwad, 'Ikrimah bin Abu Jahl, Hubayrah bin Wahab, Nawfal bin Abdullah and Zirar bin Khattab put on their military dress and, standing in front of the army of Bani Kananah, said with peculiar vanity: "Get ready for fighting. Today you will realize as to who are the real champions of the Arab army".
Then they galloped their horses and jumped over the ditch at a point at which its breadth was a little lesser. These five champions went beyond the reach of the arrows of the soldiers who were guarding the ditch. However, the point at which they had crossed was encircled immediately and trespassing by others was prevented.
The halting place of these five champions who had come for single combat was situated between the ditch and the Sal'a mountain (the headquarters of the army of Islam). The Arab champions were playing with their horses with a peculiar vanity and pride, and were challenging their adversaries by means of hints and signs.15
Out of these five persons, however, the one who was most famous for his valour and skill, came forward and formally challenged his opponent to fight. Every moment he was raising his voice and his demand for an adversary was ringing in the field and making the hearers shiver. The silence of the Muslims made him bolder and he said:
"Where are the claimants of Paradise? Don't you, Muslims, say that those who are killed from amongst you will go to Paradise and those who are killed from amongst us will go to Hell? Is not even one of you prepared to send me to Hell or to go to Paradise at my hands? He also composed some verses in this behalf, the purport of the first verse is: "I have got tired of shouting and challenging (to a single combat) and my voice has become hoarse".
Perfect silence prevailed in the army of Islam in reply to 'Amr's shouting. Although the Prophet kept asking that one man should get up and relieve the Muslims from the mischief of that man ('Amr), but none was prepared to fight with him (except Ali bin Abi Talib).16 No alternative was, therefore, left except that this difficulty should be surmounted through Ali, the brave.
The Prophet gave him his own sword, tied a special turban on his head and prayed for him in these words: "O Allah! Protect Ali from all sides. O Lord! 'Ubaydah bin Harith was taken away from me on the Day of Badr and, the lion of Allah, Hamzah was taken away in the Battle of Uhud. O Nourisher! Protect Ali from being harmed by the enemy''. Then he recited this verse:
"O Nourisher! Don't leave me alone and you are the best inheritor".17 (Surah al-Anbiya, 21:89)
Ali walked as quickly as possible to cover the delay already caused. At this moment the Prophet uttered this historical sentence: "Entire faith is facing entire infidelity". Ali composed rajaz (epic verses), whose rhythm and rhyme conformed with that of his adversary's, and said: "Don't be in a hurry, because a strong person has come in the field to give you a reply".
The entire body of Ali was covered with iron armour and his eyes were shining through the helmet. 'Amr desired to identify his adversary. He said to Ali: "Who are you?" Ali, who was famous for the clearness of his accent, replied: "I am Ali, son of Abu Talib".
'Amr said: "I shall not shed your blood, because your father was one of my old friends. I am thinking about your cousin who has sent you in the field with so much confidence. I can pick you up on the point of my lance and keep you suspended between the earth and the sky so that you are neither dead nor alive".
Ibn Abil Hadid says: "Whenever my teacher of history (Abul Khayr) explained this portion he used to say: "In fact 'Amr was afraid of fighting with Ali, because he was present in the Battles of Badr and Uhud and had witnessed his valour. He therefore, wished to dissuade Ali from fighting with him".
Ali said: "You need not bother about my death. In both the cases (i.e. whether I kill or am killed) I shall be blessed and my place shall be in Paradise, but in all cases Hell awaits you". 'Amr smiled and said: "O Ali! This division is not just. Both Paradise and Hell belong to you ".
Ali reminded him that one day he ('Amr) had put his hand into the coverings of the Holy Ka'bah and had made a promise to Allah that as and when any warrior made three suggestions to him in the battlefield he would accept one of them. Ali, therefore, suggested to him that he should embrace Islam. He replied: "O Ali! Leave this for it is not possible".
Then Ali said: "Abandon fighting and leave Muhammad to himself". He replied: "It is a matter of shame for me to accept this proposal, because tomorrow. the poets of Arabia will satirize me and will imagine that I did so on account of fear". Then Ali said: "Your opponent is on foot. You should also dismount so that we may combat with each other". He said: "O Ali! This is a very insignificant suggestion and I had never thought that an Arab would make such a request to me''.18
Fierce fighting started between the two champions and both of them were enveloped in dust, so that the on-lookers were not aware of the developments. They could only hear the clashing of their swords. 'Amr aimed his sword at the head of Ali and although the latter warded off the blow with his special shield his head was, nevertheless, wounded. He, however, availed of the opportunity and gave a sharp blow on his feet. Consequently one or both of the feet of 'Amr were cut off and he fell down on the ground.
The voice of Takbir was heard from within the dust which was a sign of Ali's victory. The scene of the fall of 'Amr on the ground created such a fear in the hearts of other warriors, who were standing behind him, that they galloped their horses involuntarily towards the ditch and all of them, except Nawfal, returned to their camping-place. Nawfal's horse fell into the ditch. Those who were posted on the bank of the ditch began to stone him.
He, however, said loudly: "To kill a person like this is contrary to the code of bravery. Let one of you come down so that we may fight with each other". Ali plunged into the ditch and killed him