Battle of Hunayn
After the conquest of Makkah, the tribes came to the Prophet (PBUH) and started accepting Islam on their own. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitabul Maghazi.) But the Hawazin and Thaqeef tribes remained firm in their opposition to Islam. These tribes were great fighters and very distinguished in using war techniques. Their restlessness increased with the progress of Islam, for they feared the loss of their land and status. That is why before the conquest of Makkah the people of the Hawazin tribe had widely toured the expanse of Arabia and tried to raise people against Islam. They continued to work this way for one whole year. Consequently, all the tribes of Arabia, which were still out of the fold of Islam, agreed that they should launch a joint attack against the Muslims. When Makkah fell to the Muslims, they all realized that if some effective measure was not taken soon to stop the growing power of the Muslims, Islam would become too strong to be controlled. (Seeratun Nabi, 1: 530-31.)
When the Prophet (PBUH) proceeded to Makkah, the tribes of Hawazin and Thaqeef thought that they were the targets. They, therefore, did not even wait to confirm the Prophet’s intention and advanced with all the might they could muster to attack the Muslims. In enthusiasm, they took with them their women and children so that they either achieved victory in the battle or fought until death for the honor of their ladies and children. ( Mustadrak Haakim, 3: 51, Seeratun Nabi, 1: 531) All the family offshoots of the Hawazin and Thaqeef tribes joined the alliance, but Ka’ab and Kilaab remained aloof.
Maalik bin Awf and Durayd bin Al-Simma were given the command. Maalik was the chief (Raeese Aazam) of Hawazin while Durayd was a famous poet of Arabia and the chief of the Jasham tribe. Durayd’s poetic excellence and valor are still remembered in the Arab history. He was 100 years old and quite frail then, but as he had a glorious reputation as military commander and as the Arab world trusted his expertise in war maneuvers, Maalik bin Awf himself requested him to participate and brought him to the battlefield on a cot. Reaching there, he inquired what place that was. They informed him that it was Awtaas. He showed his approval by saying, “Yes, this place is suitable for the battlefield. The land here is neither very rough, nor so soft that the legs of the warriors would sink into it.” Then he inquired, “Why is there the voice of the children around?” They replied that the children and women had been brought to the battlefield to make sure that the soldiers did not yield. He commented: “When the soldiers are uprooted, nothing like this could make them hold their positions and remain firm. In the battlefield it is only the sword that a soldier could depend upon. If misfortune brings defeat, the disgrace is multiplied due to the presence of women.”
Durayd then questioned if the Ka’ab and Kilaab tribes were participating in the battle. When he was told that not a single person from those two tribes was present in the battlefield, he commented, “Had this been the day of honor and pride, they would not have been absent.” He suggested that the leaders should collect their soldiers at a safe place and fight a battle from there. But Maalik bin Awf, who was a young man of thirty, rejected Durayd’s proposal in the fit of enthusiasm and retorted with scorn: “Your senses have failed and your mind has lost sharpness.” (Zadul Ma’ad, 3: 466, Seerat Ibn Hisham, 2: 338-39.)
When the Prophet (PBUH) came to know about the military maneuvers of Hawazin and Thaqeef, he sent ‘Abdullah bin Abi Hadrad as spy to find out about the situation. ‘Abdullah went to Hunayn and gathered information. ( Mustadrak Haakim, 3: 51, Ibn Hisham, 2: 440.) Compelled by the situation, the Prophet (PBUH) started making necessary preparations for the defense. There was then the immediate need for financing the expedition. The Prophet (pbuh) took a loan of 30,000 dirhams from ‘Abdullah bin Rab’a who was a very rich person. (Seeratun Nabi, 1: 533.)He then approached Safwan bin Umayya, who had a reputation for hospitality, and requested him to lend arms to Muslims. He lent to the Prophet (pbuh) 100 armors (Zerah) along with their accessories. ( Sunan Bayhaqui, 6: 89, Sunan Abi Dawood, Kitabul Buyu’.)
In Shawwal of the eighth Hijri, corresponding to January or February of A. D. 630, when 12,000-strong Islamic army advanced toward Hunayn, the strength of the Islamic army was quite impressive. Some of the Companions even spoke out, “Who can defeat us today!” But reposing faith in the number of soldiers was not what was expected of them. Allah admonished them in the following verse:
“Truly Allah has given you victory on many battlefields, and on the day of Hunayn (battle) when you rejoiced at your great number, but it availed you naught and the earth, vast as it is, was straitened for you, then you turned back in flight. Then Allah did send down His Sakinah (calmness, tranquility and reassurance) on the Messenger (Muhammad, (PBUH) and on the believers, and sent down forces (angels) which you saw not, and punished the disbelievers. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers”[At-Taubah: 25-26].
At the beginning the Muslims prevailed, and, certain of their victory, they fell on collecting the booty. This gave a chance to the disbelievers to strike the Muslim soldiers with volleys of arrows, which broke the Muslim lines, created disorder among them, and hurt them very seriously. Hazrat Abu Qatada, a participant in the battle, relates that he saw a disbeliever who had forced a Muslim to the ground and had sat on his chest. Hazrat Abu Qatada hit the disbeliever at his shoulder with his sword, which cut through his armor and pierced into his body. The disbeliever, however, held him so tight that he was almost chocked to death. But then he succumbed to his injury and fell dead. In the meantime Abu Qatada® saw Hazrat ‘Umar® and asked him about the condition of Muslims. He replied to him, “This was the will of Allah.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitabul Maghazi,, Bab Ghazwae Hunayn.)
Different factors could be ascribed to the apparent defeat of the Muslims. The front line of the Muslim army (Maqaddamatul Jaysh) consisted mostly of the new converts to Islam who were young and enthusiastic and were not equipped even with necessary arms. Also, there were 2,000 such soldiers in the Islamic army who had not accepted Islam yet. In addition, Hawazin were the best archers in Arabia and they had a reputation that not a single arrow of theirs went amiss in the battlefield. They had reached the battlefield earlier and had placed their archers at strategic positions. (Seeratun Nabi, 1: 52.) All this put the Islamic soldiers into a disadvantageous position.
The thick volleys of arrows rained at the Muslims which uprooted the 12,000 – strong army, but there was one soldier of Islam – Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) – who stayed in the battlefield with steadfastness: he alone was like an army, a nation, a country, a world, nay, the essence of the universe at that time. (Seeratun Nabi, 1: 535, 538. Imam Nawawi has mentioned some of these reasons as factors responsible for the defeat of the Muslims.) He looked at his right and called out,“O the people of Ansar!” The Ansar responded immediately, “We are here.” Then he turned to his left and gave out the same call, which met with the same reply. The Prophet (PBUH) then got down from his ride and, with the conviction of a prophet, said in a loud voice, “I am a slave of Allah and His prophet.” ( Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitabul Maghazi, Bab Ghazwa Al-Taif. )In another narration recorded in Saheeh Bukhari it is related that at that time the Prophet (PBUH) was reciting this couplet: I am a Prophet, it is not untrue, I am son of ‘Abdul Muttalib.
Saaheeh Al-Bukhari, Kitabul Maghazi, Ghazwae Hunayn. Sahih Al-Muslim, Kitabul Jihad was Siyar, Bab Ghazwaae Hunayn, Mussanif ‘Abdur Razzaque, 5: 380-81 Hazrat ‘Abbas had a loud voice. At the command of the Prophet (pbuh) he called out very loudly: “O people of Ansar! O people who had offered the pledge of Ridwan!”
The Muslims heard this call and immediately rushed to that direction. Those who could not turn their horses toward the place from where the call was raised due to the fierceness of the fighting, jumped down from their horses, threw off their armor, and rushed to that direction. Suddenly, the scene of the battlefield changed. The disbelievers fled the field, and those who stayed were soon in chains. Banu Maalik, a branch of the Thaqeef tribe, fought steadfastly, but the loss of seventy soldiers on their side and the death of their leader ‘Uthman bin ‘Abdullah unnerved them, as a result of which they also left the battlefield. (Ibn Hisham, 2: 449-450.)
The defeated army of the disbelievers was divided: a part of it gathered in Awtaas, while the other part went to Taif. Maalik bin Awf, the commander, was with the soldiers in Taif. (Ibn Hisham, 3: 354.)Durayd bin Al-Simma came to Awtaas with several thousand soldiers. The Prophet (pbuh) sent a small troop in the command of Abu ‘Aamir Ash’ari to drive Durayd out of Awtaas. Abu ‘Aamir was killed by the son of Durayd who captured the Islamic flag. Seeing it, Abu Musa Ash’ari attacked, killed the enemy, and took back the flag from him. (Ibn Hisham, 2: 454, Sahih Al-Bukhari, Bab Ghazwa Awtaas.)
The prisoners were more than a thousand. Hazrat Sheema, the Prophet’s sister by the bond of milk (Rezai sister), was also among them. When the Muslims arrested her, she told them, “I am your Prophet’s sister.” The Muslims brought her to the Prophet (PBUH) for confirmation. She showed him her back where he had bit her once in childhood. There was still a scar there. The Prophet’s eyes splashed with tears. He spread his own sheet on the ground for her to sit and spoke to her kindly. He gave her some camels and goats and gave her the option to live with him or go home to her family. She preferred the second option and was allowed to return home in honor and convenience. ( Ibn Hisham, 2: 458, Tabri, 2: 171. )
The remaining part of the defeated army of the disbelievers gathered in Taif and began to prepare for another battle with the Muslims. Taif was a safe place. In fact, it was called Taif for the fact that it was surrounded by strong walls. The Thaqeef tribe that lived there was known for bravery and was a very distinguished tribe. It was held in high esteem and was on a par with the Quraysh. ‘Urwa bin Mas’ud, the chief of Thaqeef, was married to the daughter of Abu Sufyan. The disbelievers of Makkah used to say that if the Qur`an had to be revealed, it would have been sent to a chief of Makkah or Taif. They also excelled others in in war skills. (Seeratun Nabi, 1: 451, Tareekhe Tabri, 2: 171. )Tabri and Ibn Is-Haque have related that ‘Urwa bin Mas’ud and Ghaylan bin Salma had gone to Jarsh (a district of Yemen) and taken training in making and operating large weapons like Dabbaba, Samboor, and Minjineeq, which were used for breaking the walls of the forts. (Ibn Hisham2: 478.) There was a safe fort in Taif. The residents of the city and the soldiers of the defeated army repaired it, collected rations for a year, fixed at appropriate places heavy machines to throw stones at the enemies, and became ready to face the Islamic army. (Taabaqat Ibn S’ad, 2: 158.)
The Prophet (pbuh) left the booty and the captives of the Battle of Hunayn under the care of his men at Je’irrana and advanced toward Taif. Hazrat Khalid was sent in advance with a troop of soldiers. The fort of Taif was taken under siege. This was the first occasion when the heavy machines like Dabbaba and Minjineeq were used in the history of Islamic wars. The soldiers within the fort shot hot pieces of iron at the Muslims so heavily that they had to retreat. There was heavy casualty on the side of Muslims. The siege continued for twenty days, but the Muslims could not conquer the fort. (Seerat Ibn Hisham, 2: 482-83, Taabaqat Ibn S’ad, 2: 158.) The Prophet (PBUH) consulted Nowfal bin Mu’awiya who submitted to him: “The fox has hid into its hole. If pursued, it could be captured. But if left, it would not prove harmful.” As the Prophet (PBUH) had taken the action in self-defense, he ordered the siege to be lifted. The Companions requested him to curse the people of Taif. He prayed for them instead in these words:
“O Allah! Bless the people of Thaqeef with guidance so that they come to me.” (Taabaqat Ibn S’ad, 2: 159, Seerat Ibn Hisham, 2: 488 )
After lifting the siege, the Prophet (PBUH) went to a place called Je’irrana where the booty of the Battle of Hunayn was kept. It consisted of 6,000 prisoners, 24,000 camels, 40,000 goats, and silver worth 4,000 Oqiya. Regarding the war prisoners, the Prophet (PBUH) waited for their relatives for several days to come and talk to him about the terms of their release, but nobody showed up. The articles of the booty were divided into five parts: four parts were distributed among the soldiers, while the fifth part was kept for the Baitul Maal (Public Treasury) and the poor Muslims. The Makkan chiefs who had recently entered into Islam and had yet to attain a strong faith in religion (called Mo’allafatul Quloob in the Qur`an) received quite a generous share in the booty from the Prophet (PBUH )(as the Qur`an specifically mentions such people as rightful recipients of booty). ( Dalaelun Nabuwwah, 5: 171, Ibn Hisham, 2: 489, Seeratun Nabi, 1: 542-43.) When the Ansar, the Muslims of Madinah, noticed that the recipients of such a generous share in the booty were mostly the new Muslims from Makkah, they felt aggrieved. Some of them said, “The Prophet (PBUH) gave to the Quraysh and withheld from us, although blood is still dripping from our swords.” Some others commented, “In difficulty we are called, while the booty is given to others.” When the Prophet (PBUH) heard about it, he called the Ansar and asked them to assemble in a leather tent. He then inquired if they had said so. They replied that none of the responsible persons from the Ansar had uttered such things, but that some young persons had said so. Hazrat Anas narrates that upon inquiry from the Prophet (pbuh), the Ansar, who did not tell a lie, admitted that what he had heard was true. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitabul Maghazi, Bab Ghazwa Al-Taif.)
The Prophet (PBUH) gave a sermon on that occasion, which was superb from the point of view of the richness of oratory. Turning to the Ansar, he thus spoke, “Is it not true that you were misguided and Allah guided you through me? You were divided and Allah united you through me? You were indigent, and Allah made you rich through me?” At each sentence of the Prophet (PBUH), the Ansar kept repeating, “The favor of Allah and the Prophet (PBUH) is indeed most valuable.”
The Prophet (PBUH) said thereafter, “No, you can say in reply, ‘O Muhammad! When the people accused you of falsehood, we testified for you. When the people deserted you, we gave you shelter. When you came to us resourceless, we extended support to you.” Then he added, “You keep on saying these things and I will keep on repeating that you were telling the truth. But, O Ansar! Don’t you like that they take with them the camels and goats and you take Muhammad (pbuh) with you to your home?” The Ansar burst into tears and sobs and said in grief: “We value the company of Muhammad (PBUH) most.” Their beards became wet with tears. Then the Prophet (PBUH) explained to them that the extra share that he gave to the new Muslims of Makkah was not due to their right, but just to win their hearts to Islam. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitabul Maghazi, Bab Ghazwa Al-Taif, wa Kitabul Manaqib, Bab Manaqibul Ansar.)
The prisoners of Hunayn were kept at Je’irrana. A deputation of the respectable persons from the side of the disbelievers came to the Prophet (PBUH) and requested him to release the prisoners. The foster mother of the Prophet (pbuh) Hazrat Haleema who had fed him her milk and had raised him when he was a child, was from this very tribe. The chief of the tribe spoke to the Prophet (PBUH) in a touching way: “There are your paternal and maternal aunts (by the bond of milk) among the captives. By God! If a king of Arabia had sucked the milk of one of our women, we would certainly have expected great favors from him. And we hope much more from you.” The Prophet (PBUH) replied to him: “The captives who come to the share of the ‘Abdul Muttalib clan are all yours. But for a general amnesty you should submit your request in front of all Muslims when they are together after the Zuhr Salah.” The deputation put their submission to the general Muslims accordingly. The Prophet (PBUH) told the Muslims: “I can speak only for my family, but I appeal to all Muslims for the release of the captives.” Upon his words the Muhajireen and the Ansar immediately spoke out, “We also free those prisoners who may have come to us as our share.” Thus all 6,000 prisoners were freed then and there. (Tareekhe Tabri, 2: 173, Ibn Hisham, 2: 488-89.)
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