📅 626 CE | 5 AH
In March 626 CE, a massive army of ten thousand men-the Quraysh and their confederates-were on the March towards Madinah, and upon reaching it’s outskirts they encamped. Word had reached the prophet almost a week before the arrival and adopted a stratagem suggested to him by Salam al-Farsi, a Persian convert. The prophet mobilized the entire community to dig a huge trench around the most vulnerable parts of the city. Time was short and all efforts would have to be strained to the utmost if no dangerous gap was to be left in the defenses. The prophet worked alongside them, sometimes with a pickaxe, sometimes with a shovel and sometimes as a carrier. With tremendous effort, the whole trench was dug in six days.
The Prophet amassed three thousand Muslims on the side of Sal’ mountain in Madinah with only the trench separating the believers from the enemies.
When the Quraysh arrived with their army, they stared blankly at the trench; they were bewildered. The earth from the ditch had been used to build a high escarpment, which effectively shielded the Medinese in their camp. Given the impossibility of crossing the trench, both sides maintained a simple exchange of javelins for a number of days.
The siege last only a month, but it seemed endless. Feeding and supplying the allies of Medina as well as their own people put a great strain on the city’s resources. The trench had to be manned day and night, so that each man would have to keep watch for long hours. On one occasion the time for noon prayer came and went without it being performed even by the prophet. It was only when the last light had faded from he west that they moved back to their camps.
Abdullah Ibn Ubayy and his party of hypocrites, accused Muhammad of bringing the ruin upon them and the Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayzah openly began to support the Quraysh, breaking their treaty with the prophet.
Throughout the Battle of the Trench, as the siege became known, the Muslims were terrified. Faced with the prospect of extermination, some came close to despair. But even as those inside the city trembled, on the outside of the ditch, the Quraysh were becoming exhausted. Their resolve began to waiver and finally snapped when a violent rainstorm devastated their camp. Abu Sufyan recognised defeat. Horses and camels were dying, the Qurayzah had failed to deliver any real help. “Be off,” he announced to his men, “for I am going.”
When the Muslims peered over the escarpment the next morning, the plain was completely deserted.