BATTLE OF AL-KHANDAQ
Then came the second journey to Badr in Sha’băn of that year, in response to the challenge of Abü Sutyan of the pre-vious year after the Battle of Uhud. He remained at the well of Badr for eight days. AbU Sufyän came to meet him with the people of Tihămah (that is, the district of Mecca), but when the two groups met, Abü Sufyăn decided to turn back. The Messenger of Allah and his Companions, however, stayed on for the market, where they traded and made good proft.
This was followed by the Battle of the Trench (al-Khandaq), also known as the Battle of the Confederates (al-Ahzăb). This was during the month of Shawwăl in the 4th year of the hijrah March, 626. Iuyayy ibn Akhtab, Kină-nah ibn ar-Rabi’, and Sallăm ibn Abi ‘l-Huqayq with a group of their fellow Jews came to Mecca. They were accompanied by other men of the Quraysh, Kinănah and Ghatafän tribes. They all went to AbU Sufyan and others of the chiefs of Quraysh to call them to wage war against the Messenger of Allah. They promised them: “Our hands shall be with your hands, and we shall fight together with you until we extermi-nate them utterly.” They also went to the tribe of Gha~afin and called them to war against the Messenger of Allah. They assured them of the agreement of Quraysh; they thus all prepared for war. The fighters of Quraysh were led by Abü Sufyän. The leader of the men of Ghatafăn was ‘Uyaynah ibn Ilisn of the Fazărah clan. Leading the tribe of Banü Murrah was al-Hărith ibn ‘Awf. Mis’ar ibn Rukhaylah ibn Nuwayrah ibn Tarif led his people, the men of the tribe of Ashja’. These together were .the Confederates.
The Messenger of Allah heard their coming, and thus went out to meet them after consulting with Salman, the Persian who suggested that a trench be dug. In this action
there were clear signs of the prophethood of Muhammad. One of these signs was that reported by Jăbir ibn ‘Abdilah. He said that the men encountered a hard rock in the trench which they could not break. They complained of this to the Apostle of Allah, who then had a vessel filled with water and brought to him. He expectorated in the water and prayed silently to Allah, then sprinkled the water on the rock. An eye-witness reported: “By Allah Who sent him as a prophet with the truth, no sooner had he done this, than it became like sand, repulsing neither axe or shovel.”
Another miracle, also reported by Jăbir,was the feeding of a large multitude of people on a small quantity of food. We have already recounted this event. A third miracle was that reported by Salman the Persian who said: “As I was digging in one corner of the trench, the Messenger of Allah turned towards me, as he was standing nearby. Seeing me exerting myself in a hard spot, he came down and took the pick-axe from my hand and struck a rock. A spark, as though of lightning, shone forth from beneath the pick-axe. He struck a second time, and another spark shone forth. A third time he struck, and again a spark glittered. I asked in amazement:
‘0 Messenger of Allah, may my father and mother be a ran-som for you, what is this I see?’ ‘As for the first’, he replied:
‘It is a sign that Allah shall grant me conquest of Yemen. The second is a sign that Allah shall grant me Syria and the West (that is, North Africa and Southern Spain). As for the third, it is a sign that Allah shall grant me victory over the East (that is, the Asian domains of Islam).’” When the Confederate armies came to meet the Prophet in battle, the Muslims were troubled and afraid. They encamped at one side of the trench, where they remained for twenty some days. No actual fighting occurred between them and the Muslims except with arrows and stones. Finally, some fighters of the Quraysh came out calling for single combat.
Among them were ‘Amr ibn ‘Abd Wadd, ‘Iknmah ibn Abi Jahl, Hubayrah ibn Wahb and pirăr ibn al-Khaflăb. They made ready for fighting and rode their horses to the edge of the trench. When they looked at it they said: “By Allah, this is a trick which the Arabs never before practised.” They then came to a narrow spot of the trench and spurred their horses on, so that they in fact jumped over it. The horses, however, galloped aimlessly with them in a salty marsh between the trench and a mountain on the edge of Medina called as-Sulay’ (or Sal’).
‘All ibn AM Tălib went out with a few men and blocked
that breach in the trench which had been penetrated, so that they were unable to go back. ‘Amr ibn ‘Abd Wadd came forth and challenged the Muslims for single combat. ‘All came out to meet him, and slew him. (We shall return to this event in greater detail later, if Allah wills.)55 When ‘Ikrimah and Hubayrah saw ‘Amr dead, they fled. The Com-mander of the Faithful composed verses concerning this event, some of which are:
He (‘Amr) foolishly lent support to stone idols,
But I have wisely lent support to Muhammad’s Lord.
I thus struck him and left him,
Hugging the earth like a dry branch between quick sands and hills.
His rich garments I did not pillage,
Even though he would have pillaged my garments, were I the one killed.
Think not that Allah shall abandon His religion,
Nor abandon His Prophet, 0 people of the Confederates!
Then Ibnu ‘l-’Araqah shot an arrow which hit Sa’d ibn Mu’ädh in the medial vein of the arm. He exclaimed: “Take this from me,for I am Ibnu ‘1- ‘Araqah!” Sa’d retorted: “May Allah cause your face to sweat in the Fire!” Sa’d went on:
“0 Allah, if you will that war shall Continue between us and the Quraysh, then preserve me, if only for the sake of this war; for there is no people against whom I desire to wage war more than those who have rejected your Apostle and driven him out of your sanctuary 9zaram). 0 Allah, if you so will that .war shall end between us and them, then let this (injury) be the cause of martyrdom for me. Yet, do not cause me to die until you grame the satisfaction of (defeating) the tribe of BanU Qurayzah.” The Messenger of Allah had him brought to him, and there the man spent the night on the ground.
Abăn ibn ‘Uthmăn reported on the authority of a man who heard Abń ‘Abdilăh (the sixth Imăm) say: “The Mess-enger of Allah one dark and cold night stood on the hill on which now stands Masjidu ‘l-Fath (the mosque named after the conquest, ‘Fath’ of Mecca). Addressing his Companions, he said: “Who shall go and bring us news of the (fighters) and have Paradise for a reward?” He repeated this a second and a third time, but no one came forward. Finally, Iludhayfah (a man well-known for his strict moral and spiritual discipline) arose. The Prophet said to him: “Go and listen to tlheir words and bring me news of them.” As Iludhayfah set out, the Prophet prayed: “0 Allah, watch over him in the front and in the back, on his right and on his left until you bring him back to me.” The Prophet said further: “Do not do anything until you return to us.”
When Hudhayfah departed, the Apostle of Allah rose up and prayed, then cried out witli a most sorrowful voice:
“0 You Who hear the cry of those who are in sorrow, You Who answer the prayers of those who are in distress, remove my sorrow and distress, for You see my state and the state of those who are with me!” Gabriel came down to him and said: “0 Messenger of Allah, Allah, be He exalted, has heard your cry and answered your prayer! He shall spare you dread of those who have allied themselves against you and opposed you.” The Messenger of Allah then knelt down on his knees and let his eyes shed tears. He cried out again: “All thanks be to You for sheltering me and those who are with me!” Gabriel then said: “0 Apostle of Allah, He has indeed granted you support, for He has sent against them a wind from the heaven of this world carrying pebbles, and another wind from the fourth heaven carrying stones.”
Hudhayfah reported: “As I reached the place, I saw the fires of the people put out and utterly extinguished. This was because the first army of Allah had come — a strong wind blowing pebbles. Thus it left no fire of the enemy but that it extinguished it, a tent but that it blew it away, or a spear but that it broke it. This went on until they had to shield themselves from the pebbles, and I heard the clatter of the pebbles against the shields. Then the greater army of Allah came! AbU Sufyan rushed up to his mount and cried out: ‘Save yourselves, save yourselves! “Uyaynah ibn Ili~n did likewise, and so also did al-Härith ibn ‘Awf. Thus the Confederates went away.” Ijudhayfah then returned to the Apostle of Allah and recounted to him what had happened. Then Allah sent down to His Apostle: Remember the favor of Allah towards you when great hosts came against you, and We sent against them a wind and hosts whom you did not see [Qur.33:9].
The Messenger of Allah presented himself early next morning before the Muslims of Medina, and Fătimah his daughter prepared water to wash his head (in special cel-ebration of the occasion). But suddenly Gabriel came to him on a mule, his face covered with a white turban and clad in a garment of brocade adorned with pearls and rubies. He was, however, covered with dust. Thus the Messenger of Allah rose arid wiped away the dust from his face. Gabriel exclaimed: “May your Lord have mercy upon you; you have laid down your arms, yet the denizens of heaven have not
laid theirs down! I have pursued them until they reached ar-Rawhă.’” Gabriel continued: “Rise now against their brethren of the People of the Book, for by Allah, I shall crush them as would an egg be crushed against a rock!”
The Messenger of Allah then called ‘Ali and ordered him, saying: “CaiTy the banner of the Immigrants against the tribe of Banü Qurayzah.” He further ordered his Com-panions: “I charge you not to offer the mid-afternoon prayers except in the quarters of BanU Qurayzah.” ‘All arose with the Immigrants, the men of the BanU ‘Abdi ‘1-Ashhal and those of Banü ‘n-Najjăr all of them; not even one was left behind. The Prophet continued to send men to assist ‘All. Some of the men did not pray the mid-afternoon prayers until after the time for the night prayers.
The people of BanU Qurayzah came out to ‘All and cursed him, saying: “May Allah curse you and your cousin (that is, the Prophet) .“ But ‘All stood in his place and did not answer them. When the Messenger of Allah arrived with the men of faith all around him, the Commander of the Faithful met him saying: “Do not come near them, 0 Apostle of Allah, may Allah make me a ransom for you! Allah shall surely punish them.” The Messenger of Allah knew that they had insulted ‘All. Thus he said: “If they see me, they will say nothing of what they said against you.” He thus approached them and said. “You brothers of the apes! 56 Thus have we come to the quarters of a people to warn them, evil be the morning of those who are warned! 0 servants of Satan, be you humbled, may Allah humiliate you!” They (Banu Qurayzah) cried from right and left: “0 Abu ‘l-Qăsim (that is, Muhammad), you have never been a lewd man; what has happened to you?” as reported that a lance which he was holding fell from his hand, and his outer garment fell off behind him. He began to walk backward, ashamed of what he had said to them.