Al-Ahzab (the Confederates) Invasion [Sealed Nectar chapter -29] (Life of Muhammad )
Posted May 24, 2012on:
Al-Ahzab (the Confederates) Invasion
Chapter 29,Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum (The Sealed Nectar)
Once again, peace and security enveloped the Arabian Peninsula and this turbulent area began to experience a period of lull after a whole year warJews, however, whose treachery, intrigues and . The disloyalty made them taste all types of humiliation and disgrace, were not admonished. After they had been exiled to Khaibar, they remained waiting anxiously for the results of the skirmishes going on between the Muslims and the idolaterstheir hopes, the events of the war were in favour of the Muslims, . Contrary to therefore they started a new stage of conspiracy and prepared themselves to deal a deadly blow against the Muslims, but were too cowardly to manoeuvre directly against them, so they laid a dreadful plan in order to achieve their objectivesof the Jews with some celebrities of Bani Nadir went to Makkah to . Twenty chiefs negotiate an unholy alliance with Quraishgoad the people there to attack the Messenger of . They began to Allupon him) promising them full support and backing. People of Quraish, who had been âh (Peace be languid and proved too weak to challenge the Muslims at Badr, seized this opportunity to redeem their stained honour and blemished reputationdelegation set out for Ghatfan, called them to do the . The same same, and they responded positively. The Jewish delegation then started a fresh effort and toured some parts of Arabia and managed to incite the confederates of disbelief against the Prophet (Peace be upon him), his Message and the believers in AllKinanah and other allies from Tihama, in the south; rallied, âh. Quraish, ranked and recruited four thousand men under the leadership of Abu Sufyan. From the east there came tribes of Banu Saleem, Ghatfan, Bani Murrah, etc. They all headed for Madinah and gathered in its vicinity at a time already agreed upongreat army of ten thousand fighters. They in fact outnumbered all the Muslims in . It was a Madinah, women, lads and elders includedtell the truth, if they had launched a surprise attack against . To Madinah, they could have exterminated all the Muslimsthe leadership inside the city was on the . However, alert and the intelligence personnel managed to reconnoitre the area of the enemies, and reported their movement to the people in charge in Madinah. The Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) summoned a high advisory board and conducted a careful discussion of a plan to defend Madinah. After a lengthy talk between military leaders and people possessed of sound advice, it was agreed, on the proposal of an honourable Companion, Salman Al-Farisi, to dig trenches as defensive lines. The Muslims, with the Prophet (encouraging, helping and reminding them of the reward in the Hereafter, Peace be upon him) at their head, most actively and diligently started to build a trench around Madinah. Severe hunger, bordering on starvation, could not dissuade or discourage them from achieving their desperately sought objective. Salman said: O Messenger of Allâh! When siege was to laid to us in Persia, we used to dig trenches to defend ourselves. It was really an unprecedented wise plan. The Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) hurriedly gave orders to implement the planeach group of ten to dig. Sahl bin Sa‘d said: We were in . Forty yards was allocated to the company of the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him), the men used to dig and we evacuate the earth on our backs.
Some preternatural Prophetic signs appeared in the process of trenching. Jabir bin ‘Abdullah, seeing the Prophet (Peace be upon him) starving, slaughtered a sheep, cooked some barley and requested the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and some Companions to accept his invitation, but the Prophet (Peace be upon him) gathered all the thousand people engaged in digging the trench and they started to eat until they were all completely full and yet the shoulder of mutton and dough that was being baked remained as they were undiminished. A certain woman brought a handful of dates and passed by the Prophet (Peace be upon him), who took the dates, threw them over his cloak and invited his followers to eat. The dates began to increase in number until they dropped over the trim of his robe.
Another illustrious preternatural example went to the effect that an obstinate rock stood out as an immune obstacle in the ditch.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) took the spade and struck, and the rock immediately turned into a loose sand dune. In another version, Al-Bara‘ said: On Al-Khandaq (the trench) Day there stood out a rock too immune for our spades to break up.
We therefore went to see the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) for advice. He took the spade, and struck the rock uttering “in the Name of Allâh, Allâh is Great, the keys of Ash-Shâm(Geographical Syria) are mine, I swear by Allâh, I can see its palaces at the moment;” on the second strike he said: “Allâh is Great, Persia is mine, I swear by Allâh, I can now see the white palace of Madain;” and for the third time he struck the rock, which turned into very small pieces, he said:
“Allâh is Great, I have been given the keys of Yemen, I swear by Allâh, I can see the gates of San‘a while I am in my place.”
The same version was narrated by Ishaq. The northern part of Madinah was the most vulnerable, all the other sides being surrounded by mountains and palm tree orchards, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) as a skillful military expert, understood that the Confederates would march in that direction, so the trench was ordered to be on that side. The Muslims went on digging the trench for several days; they used to work on it during the day, and go back home in the evening until it had assumed its full dimensions militarily before the huge army of the idolaters; which numbered, as many as ten thousand fighters, arrived and settled in the vicinity of Madinah in places called Al-Asyal and Uhud.
“And when the believers saw ‘Al-Ahzab’ (the confederates), they said: ‘This is what Allâh and His Messenger [Muhammad (Peace be upon him)] had promised us, and Allâh and His Messenger [Muhammad (Peace be upon him)] had spoken the truth, and it only added to their Faith and to their submissiveness (to Allâh).” [33:22]
Three thousand Muslims, with Muhammad (Peace be upon him) at their head, came out to encounter the idolaters, with Allâh’s Promise of victory deeply established in their minds. They entrenched themselves in Sila‘ Mountain with the trench standing as a barrier between them and the disbelievers.
On attempting to attack the Muslims and break into Madinah, the idolaters were surprised to see a wide trench, a new stratagem unknown in Arabia before, standing as an obstinate obstruction. Consequently they decided to lay siege to Madinah and began to manoeuvre around the trench trying hard to find a vulnerable spot through which they could infiltrate into Madinah. To deter their enemies from approaching or bridging any gap in their defences, the Muslims hurled arrows, and engaged in skirmishes with them. The veteran fighters of Quraish were averse to this situation waiting in vain in anticipation of what the siege might reveal. Therefore they decided that a group of fighters led by ‘Amr bin ‘Abd-e-Wudd, ‘Ikrima bin Abi Jahl and Dirar bin Al-Khattab, should work its way through the trench. They, in fact, managed to do that and their horsemen captured a marshy area between the trench and Sila‘ Mountain. ‘Amr challenged the Muslims to a duel, and ‘Ali bin Abi Talib was deputed. After a short but fierce engagement, ‘Ali killed ‘Amr and obliged the others to evacuate in a state of panic and confusion. However, some days later, the polytheists conducted fresh desperate attempts but all of them failed due to Muslims’ steadfastness and heroic confrontation.
In the context of the events of the Trench Battle, the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) failed to observe some prayers in their right time. Jabir (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated: On the Day of Trench ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him) came, cursing the disbelievers of Quraish and said: “O Allâh’s Messenger! I have not offered the afternoon prayer and the sun has set.” The Prophet (Peace be upon him) replied: “By Allâh! I, , have not offered the prayer yet.” The Prophet (Peace be upon him) then went to Buthan, performed ablution and observed the afternoon prayer after the sun had set and then offered the sunset prayer after it.” He was so indignant for this failure that he invoked Allâh’s wrath on his enemies and besought Allâh to fill their houses and graves with fire because they distracted him from observing the afternoon prayer. It was narrated by Ahmed and Shafa‘i that the events of that battle detained him from the noon, afternoon, evening and night prayers, but he observed them combined. The different narrations point to the fact that the situation lasted for a few days.
It is clear that, and because of the trench standing between the two parties, no direct engagement took place, but rather there were military activities confined to arrow hurling, consequently the fight claimed the lives of a small number of fighters, six Muslims and ten polytheists, one or two killed by sword.
During the process of fighting, Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh was shot by an arrow that pierced his artery. Perceiving his end approaching, he invoked Allâh saying: “Oh, Allâh, you know nothing is closer to my heart than striving in Your way against those people (disbelievers) who belied Your Messenger and banished him from his town. Oh, Allâh, I deeply believe that You have decreed that we should fight them, so if there is still more fighting to go with them, let me stay alive in order to strive more against them. If it has settled down, I beseech you to ignite it again so that I breathe my last in its context.”He concluded his supplication beseeching Allâh not to let him die until he had had full revenge on Banu Quraiza. In the midst of these difficult circumstances, plottery and intrigues were in fervent action against the Muslims. The chief criminal of Bani Nadir, Huyai, headed for the habitations of Banu Quraiza to incite their chief Ka‘b bin Asad Al-Qurazi, who had drawn a pact with the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) to run to his aid in times of war. Ka‘b, in the beginning resisted all Huyai’s temptation, but Huyai was clever enough to manipulate him, speaking of Quraish and their notables in Al-Asyal, as well as Ghatfan and their chieftains entrenched in Uhud, all in one mind, determined to exterminate Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and his followers. He, moreover, promised to stay in Ka‘b’s fort exposing himself to any potential danger in case Quraish and Ghatfan recanted. The wicked man went on in this manner until he later managed to win Ka‘b to his side and persuade him to break his covenant with the Muslims. Banu Quraiza then started to launch war operations against the Muslims especially the secluded garrisons that housed the women and children of the Muslims. On the authority of Ibn Ishaq, Safiyah (May Allah be pleased with her) daughter of ‘Abdul Muttalib happened to be in a garrison with Hassan bin Thabit as well as some women and children. Safiyah said: “A Jew was spotted lurking around our site, which was vulnerable to any enemy attacks because there were no men to defend it. I informed Hassan that I was suspicious of that man’s presence near us. He might take us by surprise now that the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) and the Muslims are too busy to come to our aid, why don’t you get down and kill him? Hassan answered that he would not do it, so I took a bar of wood, went down and struck the Jew to death. I returned and asked Hassan to loot him but again Hassan refused to do that. This event had a far reaching effect and discouraged the Jews from conducting further attacks thinking that those sites were fortified and protected by Muslim fighters. They, however, went on providing the idolaters with supplies in token of their support against the Muslims.
On hearing this bad news, the Messenger (Peace be upon him) despatched four Muslim prominent leaders Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh, Sa‘d bin ‘Ubada, ‘Abdullah bin Rawaha and Khawat bin Jubair for investigation but warning against any sort of spreading panic amongst the Muslims and advising that they should declare in public that the rumours are groundless if they happen to be so. Unfortunately the four men discovered that the news was true and that the Jews announced openly that no pact of alliance existed any longer with Muhammad (Peace be upon him). The Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) was briefed on this situation, and the Muslims understood their critical position with the horrible danger implied therein. Their back was vulnerable to the attacks of Banu Quraiza, and a huge army with no way to connive at in front, while their women and children unprotected standing in between. In this regard, Allâh says:
“And when the eyes grew wild and the hearts reached to the throats, and you were harbouring doubts about Allâh. There, the believers were tried and shaken with a mighty shaking.”
Now that the Muslims were shut in within the Trench on the defensive, the hypocrites taunted them with having indulged in delusive hopes of defeating Kisra, emperor of Persia, and Caesar, emperor of the Romans. They began to sow the seeds of defeatism, and pretended to withdraw for the defence of their homes, though these were in no way exposed to danger. Here, Allâh says:
“And when the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is a disease (of doubts) said, ‘Allâh and His Messenger (Peace be upon him) promised us nothing but delusions!’ And when a party of them said: ‘O people of Yathrib (Al-Madinah), there is no stand (possible) for you (against the enemy attack!) therefore go back!’ And a band of them asked for permission of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) saying: ‘Truly, our homes lie open (to the enemy).’ And they lay not open. They but wished to flee.” [33:12, 13]
The Messenger of Allâh, (Peace be upon him) wrapped himself in his robe and began to meditate on the perfidy of Banu Quraiza. The spirit of hopefulness prevailed over him and he rose to his feet saying:
“Allâh is Great. Hearken you Muslims, to Allâh’s good tidings of victory and support.”
He then started to lay decisive plans aiming at protecting the women and children, and sent some fighters back to Madinah to guard them against any surprise assault by the enemy. The second step was to take action that could lead to undermining the ranks of the disbelieving confederates. There, he had in mind to conclude a sort of reconciliation with the chiefs of Ghatfan on the basis of donating them a third of Madinah’s fruit crops. He sought the advice of his chief Companions, namely, Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh and Sa‘d bin ‘Ubadah, whose reply went as follows:
“O Messenger of Allâh! If it is Allâh’s injunction, then we have to obey, but if it is a new course you want to follow just to provide security for us then we don’t need it. We experienced those people in polytheism and idolatry and we can safely say that they don’t need the fruit of our orchards, they rather need to exterminate us completely. Now that Allâh has honoured us with Islam, I believe the best recourse in this situation is to put them to the sword.” Thereupon the Prophet (Peace be upon him) corrected their Belief saying: “My new policy is being forged to provide your security after all the Arabs have united to annihilate you (Muslims).”
Allâh, the Glorious, the Exalted, praise is to him, created something that led to the dissension of the enemies of Islam and later on to their full defeat. A man from the tribe of Ghatfan called Na‘im bin Mas‘ud asked to be admitted in the audience of the Prophet (Peace be upon him). He declared that he had embraced Islam secretly and asked the Prophet (Peace be upon him) to order him do anything that might benefit the Muslims. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) asked him to do anything that could help the Muslims in the present distress and use any strategem of avail. The man, in a shuttle movement, between the Jews, Quraish and Ghatfan managed to incite each party to let down the other. He went to see the chiefs of Banu Quraiza and whispered in their ears not to trust Quraish nor fight with them unless the latter pledged some hostages. He tried to lend support to his counsel by claiminthat Quraish would forsake them if they perceived that victory over Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was far fetched, and the Muslims then would have terrible revenge on them. Na‘im, then headed for the camp of Quraish and managed to practise a similar strategem in its final result but different in content. He claimed that he felt that the Jews regretted breaching their covenant with Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and his followers. He told them that the Jews maintained regular correspondence with the Muslims to the effect that Quraishite hostages be sent to the camp of the Muslims with full Jewish allegiance paid to them as already agreed upon. Na‘im then exhorted Quraish not to send hostages to the Jews. On a third errand, he did the same with the people of Ghatfan.
On Saturday night, Shawwal 5 A.H., both Quraish and Ghatfan despatched envoys to the Jews exhorting them to go into war against Muhammad (Peace be upon him). The Jews sent back messages that they would not fight on Saturday. They added that they needed hostages from them to guarantee their consistency. On receiving the replies, Quraish and Ghatfan came to believe Na‘im’s words fully. Therefore, they sent a message to the Jews again inviting them to war and asking them to preclude that condition of hostages. Na‘im’s scheme proved successful, and a state of distrust and suspicion among the disbelieving allies prevailed and reduced their morale to deplorable degree.
Meanwhile, the Muslims were preoccupied supplicating their Lord to protect their homes and provide security for their families. The Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) on his part invoked Allâh’s wrath on the Confederates supplicating:
“Oh, Allâh! You are quick in account, You are the sender of the Book, we beseech You to defeat the confederates.”
Allâh the Glorious, the Exalted, responded to the call of the Muslims on the spot. Coupled with the dissension and variance that found their way into the hearts of the disbelievers, forces of nature — wind, rain and cold wearied them, tents were blown down, cooking vessels and other equipage overthrown.
That very cold night the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) despatched Hudhaifa bin Al-Yaman to hunt around for news about the enemy. He found out that they were preparing to leave frustrated for their inability to achieve their target. Allâh did really fulfill His Promise, spared the Muslims fighting a formidable army, supported His slave [Muhammad (Peace be upon him)] and inflicted a heavy blow on the Confederates.
The battle of the Trench took place in the fifth year Hijri. The siege of Madinah started in Shawwal and ended in Dhul Qa‘dah, i.e. it lasted for over a month. It was in fact a battle of nerves rather than of losses. No bitter fighting was recorded; nevertheless, it was one of the most decisive battles in the early history of Islam and proved beyond a shadow of doubt that no forces, however huge, could ever exterminate the nascent Islamic power growing steadily in Madinah. When Allâh obliged the Confederates to evacuate, His Messenger was in a position to confidently declare that thenceforth he would take the initiative in war and would not wait for the land of Islam to be invaded.
Archangel Gabriel (Peace be upon him) on the very day the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) came back to Madinah after the previous battle, and while he was washing in Umm Salama’s house, visited him asking that he should unsheathe his sword and head for the habitation of the seditious Banu Quraiza and fight them. Gabriel noted that he with a procession of angels would go ahead to shake their forts and cast fear in their hearts.
The Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) , immediately summoned the prayer caller and ordered him to announce fresh hostilities against Banu Quraiza, institued Ibn Umm Maktum as a ruler of Madinah, and entrusted the banner of war to ‘Ali bin Abi Talib who marched towards the appointed target and came close enough to hear the Jews abusing the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) , who on his part set out at the head of three thousand infantry men and thirty horsemen of Ansar (Helpers) and Muhajireen (Emigrants).
On their way to encounter the enemy, the afternoon prayer was due. Some Muslims refused to observe it until they had defeated the enemy, while others offered it in its proper time, as usual. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) objected to neither. When they reached the habitations of Banu Quraiza, they laid tight siege to their forts. Seeing this terrible situation they were in, the chief of the Jews Ka‘b bin Asad offered them three alternatives: to embrace Islam, and consequently their life, wealth, women and children would be in full security, and reminded them that such behaviour would not be incongruous with what they had read in their books about the veracity of Muhammad’s Prophethood; to kill their children and women and then challenge the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and his followers to the sword to either exterminate the Muslims or be exterminated, or as a third possibility to take Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and his people by surprise on Saturday — a day mutually understood to witness no fighting.
None of those alternatives appealed them, so their chief, angrily and indignantly, turned to them saying: “You have never been decisive in decision-making since you were born” The gloomy future already visible, they made contacts with some Muslims, who had maintained good relation with them, in order to learn about their fate in the light of the current circumstances. They requested that Abu Lubaba be despatched to them for advice. On his arrival, the men began to implore, women and children to cry desperately. In answer to their demand for advice he pointed to his throat saying it was homicide awaiting them. He then immediately realized that he had betrayed the Prophet’s trust, so he headed directly for the mosque in Madinah and tied himself to a wooden tall pole swearing that no one would untie him save the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him), and added that he would never enter the habitation of Banu Quraiza in recompense for the deadly mistake he made. When the Messenger (Peace be upon him) was informed of this incident, he said, “ I would have begged Allâh to forgive him if he had asked me, but since he had tied himself out of his own free will, then it was Allâh Who would turn to him in forgiveness.”
The Jews of Banu Quraiza could have endured the siege much longer because food and water were plentifully available and their strongholds were greatly fortified, whereas the Muslims were in the wild bare land suffering a lot from cold and hunger, let alone too much fatigue consequent on endless warfare operations that had started even before the battle of Confederates. Nevertheless, this was a battle of nerves, for Allâh had cast fear in the the Jews’ hearts, and their morale had almost collapsed especially when two Muslim heroes, ‘Ali bin Abi Talib and Az-Zubair bin ‘Awwam (May Allah be pleased with him) proceeded with ‘Ali swearing that he would never stop until he had either stormed their garrisons or been martyred like Hamza (a former Muslim martyr).
In the light of this reluctance, they had nothing except to comply with the Messenger’s judgement. The Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) ordered that the men should handcuffed, and this was done under the supervision of Muhammad bin Salamah Al-Ansari while the women and children were isolated in confinement. Thereupon Al-Aws tribe interceded begging the Prophet (Peace be upon him) to be lenient towards them. He suggested that Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh, a former ally, be deputed to give verdict about them, and they agreed.
Sa‘d meanwhile stayed behind in Madinah due to a serious wound he sustained in the Confederates Battle. He was summoned and brought on a donkey. On his way to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) , the Jews used to exhort him to be lenient in his judgement on account of former friendship. Sa‘d remained silent but when they persisted he uttered: “It is time for Sa‘d not to be afraid of the blame of the blamers.” On hearing this decisive attitude, some of them returned to Madinah waiting fa desperate doom.
On arrival, he alighted with the help of some men. He was informed that the Jews had agreed to accept his verdict about them. He immediately wondered if his judgement would pass on all the people present, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) included, turning his face away in honour of him. The reply was positive.
He decided that all the able-bodied male persons belonging to the tribe should be killed, women and children taken prisoners and their wealth divided among the Muslim fighters. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) accepted his judgement saying that Sa‘d had adjudged by the Command of Allâh. In fact, the Jews deserved that severe punitive action for the ugly treachery they had harboured against Islam, and the large arsenal they have amassed and which consisted of one thousand and five hundred swords, two thousand spears, three hundred armours and five hundred shields, all of which went into the hands of the Muslims. Trenches were dug in the bazaar of Madinah and a number of Jews between six and seven hundred were beheaded therein. Hot beds of intrigue and treachery were thus exterminated once and for all.
Huyai, a chief criminal of war, a devil of Bani Nadir and Safiyah’s father, had joined the ranks of Banu Quraiza when Quraish and Ghatfan defected, was admitted into the audience of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) with his hands tied to his neck with a rope. In audacious defiance, he declared obstinate enmity to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) but admitted that Allâh’s Will was to be fulfilled and added that he was resigned to his fate. He was ordered to sit down, and was beheaded on the spot.
Only one woman of the Jews was killed because she had killed a Muslim warrior by flinging a grinding stone upon him. A few elements of the enemy embraced Islam and their lives, wealth and children were spared. As for the spoils of the war, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) divided them, after putting a fifth aside, in accordance with Allâh’s injunctions. Three shares went to the horseman and one to the infantry fighter. Women captives were sent to Najd to be bartered with horses and weaponry. For himself, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) selected Rehana bint ‘Amr bin Khanaqah, manumitted and married her in the year 6 Hijri. She died shortly after the farewell pilgrimage and was buried in Al-Baqi‘.
After the war with Banu Quraiza had been settled and they had been defeated, Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh’s wish was gratified and he gave his last breath. In response to his supplication ‘Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) narrated, Sa‘d’s wounds began to bleed from the front part of his neck while he was in his tent which the Prophet (Peace be upon him) had pitched for him in the mosque so that he would be in close proximity in order to inquire about and watch his well-being closely. The people were not scared except when the blood flowed towards them, and in the Mosque along with Sa‘d’s tent, there was the tent of Banu Ghifar. They said: O people of the tent, what is it that is coming to us from you? Lo! it was Sa‘d’s wound that was bleeding and he died thereon.
Jabir narrated that the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) had said: “The Throne of the Compassionate shook for the death of Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh. ” When his bier was carried, At-Tirmidhi said: The hypocrites alleged it was too light. The Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) retorted:
“The angels are carrying him.”
In the process of the sieze laid to Banu Quraiza, one man of the Muslims, Khallad bin Suwaid was killed when a women of the Jews dropped the grinding stone on him, and another, Abu Sinan bin Mihsan, the brother of ‘Ukasha, died.
Abu Lubaba stayed tied for six nights. His wife used to untie him at prayer times and then he tied himself again to the pole. One early morning, Allâh the All-Forgiving revealed a verse to the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) to the effect that Allâh had turned to Abu Lubaba with forgiveness. The Muslims rushed to release him but he insisted that the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) himself do it. And this was done shortly before the morning prayer.
This Ghazwah took place in the month of Dhul Qa‘dah in the year five Hijri, and the siege of Banu Quraiza’s forts lasted for 25 days. The Chapter of Confederates was revealed containing Allâh’s Words concerning the basic issues relating to the believers and hypocrites during the battle of the Confederates, and the consequences of the treachery and breaching of covenants by the Jews.
Salam bin Abi Al-Huqaiq (Abu Rafi‘) was a terrible Jew criminal, who had mustered the troops of the Confederates and provided them with a lot of wealth and supplies, on the one hand, and used to malign the Prophet (Peace be upon him), on the other. When the Muslims had settled their affair with Banu Quraiza; Al-Khazraj tribe, a rival of Al-Aws, asked for the Prophet’s permission to kill that criminal in order to merit a virtue equal to that of Al-Aws who had killed another criminal of the Jews, Ka‘b bin Al-Ashraf. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) gave them his permission provided that no women or children be killed.
A group of five people with ‘Abdullah bin ‘Ateeq at their head, headed for Khaibar where ‘Abu Rafi‘’s fort was situated. When they approached the place, ‘Abdullah advised his men to stay a little behind, while he went ahead disguised himself in his cloak as if he had been relieving himself. When the people of the fort went in, the gate-keeper called him to enter thinking he was one of them. ‘Abdullah went in and lurked inside. He then began to unbolt the doors leading to Salam’s room. There it was absolutely dark but he managed to put him to the sword, and then leave in safety. On his way back, his leg broke so he wrapped it up in a band, and hid in a secret place until morning when someone stood on the wall and announced the death of Salam bin Abi Al-Huqaiq officially. On hearing the glad news he left and went to see the Prophet (Peace be upon him), who listened to the whole story, and then asked ‘Abdullah to stretch his leg, which he wiped and the fracture healed on the spot.
In another version, all the group of five participated in killing that enemy of Islam. This incident took place in Dhul Qa‘dah or Dhul Hijjah in the year five Hijri.
Shortly after the conclusion of the battle with the Confederates and Quraiza, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) began to despatch punitive expeditions to force the aggressive tribes and rebellious Arabians to come to peaceful terms with the rising state of Islam.
A platoon of thirty believers under the leadership of Muhammad bin Maslamah was despatched on a military mission in Muharram, the sixth year Hijri, following the two previous battles. It headed for the habitation of Bani Bakr sept. The Muslims attacked that sept and dispersed them in all directions. Plenty of spoils fell to the lot of the Muslims who returned home with a terrible disbeliever, Thumamah bin Uthal Al-Hanafi, chief of Bani Hanifa, who had gone out by order of Musailama, the Liar, to assassinate the Prophet (Peace be upon him). The Prophet’s Companions tied him to a pole of the Prophetic Mosque. To a question posed by the Prophet (Peace be upon him), Thumamah used to say: “If you were to kill someone, then you would have to choose one of noble descent, if you were to be gracious, then let it be to a grateful man and if you were to ask for money, you would have to ask for it from a generous man.” He repeated that three times on three different occasions. On the third time, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) ordered that he should be released. He soon went nearby, washed and then came back to profess the new faith addressing the Prophet (Peace be upon him) : “No face had been more awful to me than yours but now it is the closest to my heart, no religion had ever been more repugnant to me than yours, now it is the dearest in my heart. Now I want to perform the ‘Umrah (lesser pilgrimage).” The Prophet (Peace be upon him) gave him good tidings and asked him to do that. On his arrival in Makkah, the Quraishites accused him of apostasy. He denied it and affirmed that he had embraced Islam, then swore that they would never get a grain from Yamama, a suburban area around Makkah, unless the Prophet (Peace be upon him) would allow it. In fact, he did it and refused to send food supplies to Makkah until the Prophet (Peace be upon him) interceded at the Makkans’ earnest plea.
Bani Lihyan had acted treacherously towards ten of the Prophet’s Companions and had them hanged. Their habitation being situated deep in the heart of Hijaz on the borders of Makkah, and due to deep-seated blood-revenge between the Muslims on the one hand, and Quraish and the Arabians on the other, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) deemed it unwise to penetrate deep and come close to the greatest enemy, Quraish. However, when the power of the allied Confederates collapsed and they began to slacken and resign to the current unfavourable balance of power, the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) seized this rare opportunity and decided that it was time to take revenge on Bani Lihyan. He set out in Rabi‘ Al-Awwal or Jumada Al-Ula in the year six Hijri at the head of two hundred Muslim fighters and made a feint of heading for Syria, then soon changed route towards Batn Gharran, the scene of his Companions’ tragedy, and invoked Allâh’s mercy on them. News of his march reached Bani Lihyan, who immediately fled to the mountain tops nearby and thus remained out of his reach. On his way back, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) despatched a group of ten horsemen to a place called Kura‘ Al-Ghamim, in the vicinity of the habitation of Quraish in order to indirectly confirm his growing military power. All these skirmishes took fourteen days, after which he left back for home.
- A platoon led by ‘Ukasha bin Al-Mihsan was despatched to a place called Al-Ghamir inhabited by Bani Asad in the year six Hijri. The enemy immediately fled leaving behind them two hundred camels which were taken to Madinah.
- A platoon led by Muhammad bin Maslamah set out towards the habitation of Bani Tha‘labah in Dhil Qassa. But a hundred men of the enemies ambushed and killed all of them except Muhammad bin Maslamah who managed to escape but badly wounded.
- In retaliation against Bani Tha‘labah, Abu ‘Ubaidah bin Al-Jarrah, at the head of forty men, was despatched to Dhil Qassa. They walked that night and took the enemy by surprise in the morning. Again, they fled to the mountains except one who was injured, and later embraced Islam. A lot of booty fell to their lot in that particular incident.
- A platoon, under the leadership of Zaid bin Haritha, was sent to Al-Jumum, the habitation of Bani Saleem, in the same year. A woman from Bani Muzaina showed them the way to the enemy’s camp. There the Muslims took some captives and gained a lot of booty. Later on, the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) granted the woman her freedom and married her to one of his followers.
- Zaid bin Haritha, in Jumada Al-Ula 6 Hijri, at the head of a hundred and seventy horsemen, set out to a place called Al-‘Ais, intercepted a caravan of Quraish led by Abul-‘As, the Prophet’s relative and looted their camels. Abul-‘As escaped and took refuge in Zainab’s (his wife and the Prophet’s daughter) house. He begged her to ask the Prophet (Peace be upon him) for the restitution of his wealth. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) recommended, but without coercion, that the people do that. They immediately gave the man back all his wealth. He went back to Makkah, gave over the trusts to those entitled to them, embraced Islam and emigrated to Madinah where the Prophet (Peace be upon him) reunited him with his wife, Zainab, after three and a half years of their first marriage contract. The verse relating to prohibition of marriage between women Muslims and disbelievers had not been revealed then.
- In Jumada Ath-Thania, the same year, Zaid at the head of fifteen men raided Bani Tha‘labah and captured twenty of their camels but the people had fled.
- In Rajab of the same year, Zaid, at the head of twelve men, set out to a place called Wadi Al-Qura in a reconnaissance mission to explore the movements of the enemy. The people there attacked the Muslims, killed nine of them, while the rest including Zaid bin Haritha managed to escape.
- The invasion of Al-Khabt (diluted yoghurt) took place in the year eight Hijri i.e. before Al-Hudaibiyah Treaty. Abu ‘Ubaidah bin Al-Jarrah led three hundred horsemen to observe a caravan belonging to Quraish. Because of the inadequacy of food supplies, they began to starve so much that they had Khabt (diluted yoghurt), hence the appellation “The Army of Al-Khabt”. One of the men slaughtered nine camels at three times, three each time at different stages of the mission. Abu ‘Ubaidah, the leader of the campaign prohibited him from doing so. The sea was generous and presented them with an animal called Al-‘Anbar (sperm-whale) so rich in fat that they subsisted on it for half a month. When they came back home, they narrated the story to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) , who commented that it was provision granted by Allâh, and asked them to share him some of its meat.
This campaign came chronologically prior to Al-Hudaibiyah Treaty because of and after which the Muslims stopped intercepting Quraishi caravans.
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