In the 9th year, of the Hijrat the Holy Prophet received information that the Roman Emperor had organised a huge army and that this force which the Emperor himself was commanding, had arrived near the frontier. The Prophet PBUH, therefore, ordered that preparations be made to meet this challenge.
At that time there was famine in Hejaz and scarcity of water in Madinah and the surrounding areas. There was intense heat. It was also the time for the ripening of fruits and plucking of dates. Moreover, arms and equipment for fighting the large army of the Romans were not available. It is for these reasons that the Tabuk expedition is called Expedition of Straitness.
The Holy Prophet PBUH made an appeal for donations and subscriptions. On this occasion, Hazrat Usman gave one thousand gold dinars and three hundred camels laden with grains. Hazrat Umar contributed half of all his cash, household goods and cattle and Hazrat Abu Bakr donated everything that he had. The Muslim ladies, too gave their ormaments as donations. However many hypocrites and other Arabs made excuses for not accompanying the Muslim army.
The Holy Prophet PBUH left Madinah with an army of thirty thousand men and encamped at Tabuk. It was a difficult journey because of the intense heat and the scarcity of food and water. But the Muslims remained steadfast. The strength of the army demoralised the Romans who dispersed without any. fighting. The Holy Prophet PBUH stayed at Tabuk for twenty days, during which a number of tribes came to the Holy Prophet PBUH and embraced Islam.
When the Holy Prophet PBUH returned to Madinah, those who had not joined the expedition came to make their excuses. Three true believers, however admitted their mistake. They were pardoned by Allah while the others were condemned by the Holy Quran. The Tabuk expedition was the last military expedition in which the Holy Prophet PBUH personally took part.