The Third Stage : The Battle of Hunain

The third and final stage in the life of the Messenger embodied the fruitful results of his call to Islam, which were the result of a long period of struggles in the way of Allah and included troubles, struggles, disturbances, trials and many bloody conflicts and battles that lasted for over twenty years.

The conquest of Makkah was considered as the greatest advantage achieved by Muslims in those years. It had a profound affect on the subsequent course of events, and consequently altered the entire life of the Arabs. It was a decisive distinction between pre-conquest and post-conquest periods.

For the Quraish, at that time, were considered by the Arabs as defenders and helpers of Arabs. Other Arabs are only their subordinates.

The surrender of Quraish was, therefore, considered as the final elimination of paganism in the Arabian Peninsula.

This stage can be divided into two main phases:

  • Struggles and fighting.
  • Tribes and people racing to embrace Islam.

Being so close, rather inseparable, the two phases of this stage intervene in such a way that an event of one phase occurs during the progress of the other.

However, we have preferred, for literary purposes, to deal with these two phases separately. The fighting phase was given priority due to the fact that most of the events that occurred there were earlier than those in the other category.

The Battle of Hunain

The Conquest of Makkah astonished both the Arabs and others, who began to realize that they were destined to accept the new situation as an unalterable fact. However, some of the fierce and proud powerful tribes did not accept and instead chose to continue hostilities. At the forefront were the branches of the Hawazin and Thaqif. Nasr, Jusham and Sa`d bin Bakr and people of Bani Hilal, all of whom were from Qais `Ailan, believed that they were superior to admit or surrender to such a victory. They went to Malik bin `Awf An-Nasri and made up their mind to fight against the Muslims.

The Enemy’s March and Their Encampment at Awtas

When their leader Malik bin `Awf decided to march out and fight against the Muslims, he made his countrymen take their wealth, women and children with them to Awtas, a valley situated in the lands of Hawazin near Hunain and is adjacent to Dhul-Majaz, which is around ten miles from Makkah in the direction of `Arafat.

The War-Veteran Disputes the Leader’s Judgment

As soon as they camped in Awtas, the people crowded around Malik. The old and sane Duraid bin As-Simmah, who was well-known to be experienced in war, was among those who gathered around Malik. He asked: “What valley are we in?’’ They said, “In Awtas.’’ “What a good course it is for horses! It is neither a sharp pointed height nor a plain of loose soil. What? Why do I hear camels’ growling, the donkeys’ braying, the children’s cries and the sheep bleating?’’ asked Duraid. They said: “Malik bin `Awf has made his people bring their women, properties and children with them.’’

So he called Malik and asked him what made him do such a thing. Malik said that his aim was to have everybody’s family and property around them so that they would fight fiercely to protect them. “I swear by Allah that you are nothing but a shepherd,’’ answered Duraid, “Do you believe that there is anything that can stand in the way of a defeated person or stop him from fleeing? If you win the battle you avail nothing but a man with a sword and a spear; but if you lose you will bring disgrace on your people and property.’’ Then he resumed his talk and went on wondering about some families and their leaders. “O Malik, thrusting the distinguished people of Hawazin into the battlefield will avail you nothing. Raise them up to where they can be safe. Then make the young people mount their horses and fight. If you win, those whom you placed in the rear will follow you, but if you lose, it will only be a loss of a battle and your kinsmen, people and properties would not be lost.”

But Malik refused this suggestion. “By Allah,’’ he said, “I will not do such a thing. You must have grown senile. Hawazin have to obey me, or else I will lean my body against this sword so that it penetrates through my back.”

He rejected any sort of advice from Duraid’s concerning that matter. His people said, “We obey you.’’ Duraid consequently said: “Today is a day that I have not missed, but I will surely not be tempted to witness.”

Enemy Spies

The spies that Malik dispatched to spy on the Muslim forces, returned with their limbs cut off. “Woe unto you! What happened to you?’’ said Malik. They said: “We have seen distinguished people on spotted horsebacks. We could not do anything before what you see happened to us.”

Spies of Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)

News about the enemy’s march was conveyed to Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), so he sent Abu Hadrad AlAslami, ordering him to mix with people and stay with them so that he can receive information from them and convey it to Allah’s Messenger. That was exactly what he managed to do.

Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) Leaves for Hunain

On Saturday, the 19th of Shawwal, nineteen days after Allah’s Messenger entered Makkah, he set out accompanied by twelve thousand Muslim soldiers. Ten thousand were from those who had previously shared in the Conquest of Makkah. Out of the remaining two thousand, the greater part comprised of Makkans who had recently embraced Islam. He borrowed a hundred suits of armor with their equipment from Safwan bin Umaiyah. He appointed `Attab bin Asid as governor over Makkah. When it was evening, a horseman came to Allah’s Messenger and said: “I have climbed up soand-so mountains and came across Hawazin with their riding camels, livestock and sheep. All of the people of Hawazin were gathered together there.’’ Allah’s Messenger smiled and said: “They will all be the spoils of the Muslims tomorrow, if Allah wills.’’ That night Anas bin Abi Marthad Al-Ghanawi volunteered to stand guard.

On their way to Hunain, they saw a great green Nabk tree, which was called Dhat-Anwat. The Arabs used to visit it, hang their weapons on it and slay animals under it. Some of the members of the army asked Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to make for them a Nabk similar to the one they had, so he said:

“Allah is the Greatest of all! I swear by the One in Whose Hand is Muhammad’s soul that you have just said what the people of Moses said to him. They said: `Make us a god as the one they have.’ Surely, you are ignorant people. These are their traditions, and you will follow traditions of those who preceded you.’’

Seeing how great in number the army was, some of them said: “We shall not be defeated.’’ Their statement sounded hard upon Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

The Archers and the Attackers Stunned the Muslims

On Wednesday night the tenth of Shawwal, the Muslim army arrived at Hunain. Malik bin `Awf, who had previously entered the valley by night, gave orders to his army to hide inside the valley and lie in wait on the roads and entrances, and in narrow hiding places waiting for the Muslims. His orders to his men to begin with hurl stones of the Muslims when they caught sight of them and then to make a simultaneous attack against them.

At early dawn, Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) began to mobilize his army and distributing the posts and standards to people. In the dark and just before dawn the Muslims moved towards the valley of Hunain. They started to descend into it unaware of the presence of an enemy lying in wait for them. At the moment that they started to set up camp, arrows began to shower on them, and the enemy battalions started a fierce attack against the Muslims, who retreated in disorder and utter confusion. It was such a shatteringly defeat that Abu Sufyan bin Harb, who had recently embraced Islam, said that their retreat would not stop until they got to the Red Sea. Jabalah or Kaladah bin AlJunaid commented on that by saying: “Surely the magic has grown inactive today.”

Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) turned to the right and said: “People, come for I am the Messenger of Allah; I am Muhammad, the son of Abdullah.’’ Those who stood by him were only a few Emigrants and some of his kinsmen. The matchless bravery of the Prophet was then brought to light. He went on and on in his attempts to make his mule steadfast in the face of the disbelievers while saying loudly:

``I am truly the Prophet; I am the (grand) son of Abdul-Muttalib.’’

Abu Sufyan(May Allah be Pleased with him)was holding the rein of the Prophet’s mule, and Al-`Abbas(May Allah be Pleased with him) was holding its stirrup; they were trying hard to make it halt. Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) dismounted and asked his Lord for help.

``O Allah, send down Your Help!’’

The Muslims Return to the Battlefield and the Fighting Intensifies

Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) ordered his uncle Al-`Abbas (May Allah be Pleased with him), who had a loud voice, to call out to the soldiers. As loudly as he could, Al-`Abbas shouted: “Where are the lancers?’’ “By Allah,’’ Al-`Abbas said, “Upon hearing my voice calling them back, they turned round to the battlefield as if they had been wild cows tending towards their calves.’’

“Here we are, at your service. Here we are,’’ they said. They were trying to stop their camels and turn them around towards the battle. Anyone who was unable to force his camel to turn back, would take his armor, fling it round his neck, and hastily dismount his camel with his weapon in hand letting his camel move freely and run. Voices would grow louder and louder until a hundred of them gathered around the Prophet and resumed fighting.

Those who were called next were the Ansar, the Helpers, “O people of the Ansar! O people of the Ansar!”

The last group to be called was Bani Al-Harith bin Al-Khazraj. Muslim battalions poured successively into the battlefield in the same manner that they had left it. The stamina of both parties was superb. Both of them stood fast and fought fiercely. Allah’s Messenger was eagerly watching the battle and said:

``Now the fight has grown fierce.’’

Picking up a handful of dirt, he hurled it at the faces of the enemy while saying:

``May your faces be shameful.’’

Their eyes were thick with dust and the enemy began to retreat in utter confusion.

Reverse of Fortunes and the Enemy’s Utter Defeat

Only a few hours elapsed since the handful of dust was thrown at the enemy’s faces, and they were utterly defeated. About seventy men of Thaqif alone were killed, and the Muslims took all of their riding camels, weapons and cattle.

Allah, Glorious is He, referred to this even when He said:

“... and on the Day of Hunain (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, etc.) on the Messenger (Muhammad) and on the believers, and sent down forces (angels) which you saw not, and punished the disbelievers. Such is the recompense of disbelievers.’’ [9:25, 26]

Hot Pursuit of the Enemy

After their defeat, some enemy troops headed for Ta’if, others to Nakhlah and Awtas. A group of Muslims headed by Abu `Amir Al-Ash’ari (May Allah be Pleased with him), were dispatched to Awtas to chase the enemy, some clashes took place between in which Abu `Amir (May Allah be Pleased with him) was killed.

A similar battalion of horsemen pursued the idolaters who ran towards Nakhlah and caught up with Duraid bin As-Simmah, who was killed by Rabi’ah bin Rafi’.

After collecting the booty, Allah’s Messenger left for Ta’if, where the largest number of defeated idolaters took shelter. The booty was six thousand captives, twenty four thousand camels, over forty thousand sheep and four thousand ounces of silver. Allah’s Messenger gave orders that the booty should be confined at Al-Ji’ranah and placed Mas’ud bin `Amr AlGhifari (May Allah be Pleased with him) in charge of it. It was only when he was entirely free from the Ta’if Campaign that one of the captives AshShaima’ bint Al-Harith As-Sa`diyah, the Messenger’s foster sister, was brought to Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). She introduced herself to him and upon recognizing her by a certain mark, he honored her, spread his garment for her and seated her on it. He was graceful and released her and made her return back to her people.

The Invasion of Ta’if

The Ta’if Campaign is in fact an extension of the Hunain Battle because the majority of the defeated troops of Hawazin and Thaqif went to Ta’if with their –leader, Malik bin `Awf An-Nasri, and fortified themselves within it. So upon finishing with Hunain Invasion, he gathered the booty at AlJi’ranah in the same month (i.e., Shawwal) in the eighth year A.H.

An advance battalion of a thousand men led by Khalid bin Al-Walid marched towards At-Ta’if. Whereas Allah’s Messenger proceeded through Nakhlah of Al-Yamaniyah, Qarn Al-Manazil and through Laiyah.

At Laiyah there was a castle that belonged to Malik bin `Awf, so Allah’s Messenger gave orders to have it destroyed. He resumed his march until he arrived at Ta’if at which point he dismounted, camped near its castle, and laid siege to the castle’s inhabitants; however, he did not continue the siege for long.

How long the siege lasted is a matter of disagreement, however it happened between 10-20 days.

Numerous arrows were shot and stones were hurled during the siege. No sooner had the Muslims laid siege to the castle that its inhabitants began shooting arrows at them. The arrows were so intense and fierce that they looked like a swarm of locusts. A number of Muslims were wounded because of these arrows and twelve were killed.

In order be far from the range of the arrows of the enemy, the Muslims ascended to a higher location and camp there, in area that holds that AtTa’if Masjid.

The Prophet set up a catapult above them and shelled the castle. Eventually a gap was made in the castle wall, through which a number of Muslims managed to pass into the castle, sheltered by a wooden tank, with the purpose of setting fire to it. The enemy poured down molten hot iron on them. Affected by this the Muslims stepped out of the tank and were again exposed to a storm of arrows and consequently some of them were killed.

To force the enemy to surrender, the Prophet tended to a war policy of burning and cutting the enemy’s crops. His order was to cut their vineyards and burn them. Seeing that the Muslims started rapidly cutting and burning their vines, they implored the Prophet to stop and have mercy on them for the sake of Allah and out of the ties of kinship. So the Prophet agreed.

The caller of Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) called out to people saying: “Whoever vacates the castle is free.’’ Twenty-three men came out. One of them was Abu Bakrah who tied himself and let himself down by means of a small wheel that would normally be used for drawing water from a well. The way he let himself down made the Prophet nickname him “Abu Bakrah”, i.e., the man with the wheel.

Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) set them all free and entrusted each one of them to a Muslim to care about their living affairs, this event was too hard for the people in the castle to bear.

The siege was lasting too long and the castle was still immune to anything, and that the inhabitant could stand an even longer siege (for they had already stored provisions sufficient for over a year). On the other hand the Muslims were suffering day by day from being shot by arrows and struck by heated iron hooks, so Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) consulted Nawfal bin Mu`awiyah Ad-Daili (May Allah be Pleased with him).

He said: “They are like a fox hiding inside its den. If you wait you will catch it, but if you leave, no harm would afflict you.’’ Allah’s Messenger decided to lift the siege and depart. `Umar bin Al-Khattab (May Allah be Pleased with him) was ordered by the Prophet to notify the people, so he said to them: “If Allah wills, we will leave the castle and go back tomorrow.’’ As it was too hard for the Muslims to go back and leave the castle unconquered, they complained saying, “Should we go away while the castle is still unopened?’’ His reply was: “Then, start fighting in the morning.’’ In the morning they fought and were wounded. So when he repeated this statement: “If Allah wills, we will leave the castle and go back tomorrow,’’ they were pleased and carried out the order submissively and started moving out, which made Allah’s Messenger laugh.

As soon as they mounted and started moving, the Messenger said:

``Say! Here we are returning, repenting, worshipping (Allah) and to our Lord we offer praise.’’

When Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was asked to supplicate to Allah against Thaqif, he said:

``O Allah, guide Thaqif and bring them to us as Muslims.’’

The Distribution of the Booty at Al-Ji’ranah

After the lifting of the siege in Ta’if, Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) returned and stayed ten nights at AlJi’ranah before he began to distribute the booty. The delay in the distribution was because the Prophet had hoped that a delegation from Hawazin would arrive, announce their repentance, and consequently reclaim their losses.

Seeing that none of them arrived, he began to divide the booty in order to calm the tribal chiefs and nobles of Makkah. The first to receive a share of the booty – and they were also the ones who received the largest shares – were the people who had recently embraced Islam.

Abu Sufyan bin Harb was given a hundred camels and forty (gold) ounces and yet he still said, “What about the share of my son, Yazeed?’’ So he was given the same quantity for his son as well. He again said: “And what about the share of my second son, Mu`awiyah?’’ So the Prophet gave Mu`awiyah as much as he gave his father and brother. Hakim bin Hizam was given a hundred camels, but he was given an additional hundred when he demanded more. Safwan bin Umaiyah was given three hundred camels, a hundred camel each time he asked. This was mentioned in Ash-Shifa’ by Qadi `Iyad. The Prophet gave al-Harith bin Kildah a hundred camels. He also gave some other chiefs of Quraish, as well as other clan members, a hundred camels; he gave to others fifty and some others he gave forty.

Eventually the rumor was spread among people that “Muhammad grants generously and fears not to grow poor.’’ This made the Bedouins gather around him expecting to be given some wealth. They were so many that they forced the Prophet to seek refuge against a tree and they even took away his garment. He said, “O people, give me back my garment! I swear by the One in Whose Hand is Muhammad’s soul that if I had as many numerous camels as the number of Tihamah trees, I would have distribute them among you. You know quite well that I am neither mean, nor a coward, nor a liar.’’

Standing by his camel he plucked out a hair from the hump of his camel and held it between his two fingers. He lifted it up and said: “O people, I swear by Allah that I get nothing but one-fifth of your booty which also goes back to you.’’

As soon as he had given the share to the new converts, Allah’s Messenger ordered Zaid bin Thabit (May Allah be Pleased with him) to fetch the booty and summon the people. He began to give the shares to the people. The share of an infantry man was four camels and forty sheep, and a cavalry man received twelve camels and a hundred and twenty sheep.

The Disturbed and Uneasy State of the Helpers (Al-Ansar)

Initially, the Prophet’s policy of distribution was not understood by many of the people, which caused some sharp-tongued people to express their objections. The Helpers were among those who were affected by this policy as they felt that they had been deprived of the spoils of Hunain although it was them who had been the ones summoned for the Prophet’s aid. Hunain represented a difficult battle and they were the first to rush to fight, and were the ones firmly standing with Allah’s Messenger until defeat turned into victory. Now, here they were watching those who fled, fill their hands with booty while they were given nothing.

Ibn Ishaq narrated that Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri said: “When Allah’s Messenger had given Quraish and the Arab tribes a share of the booty and allotted nothing to the Helpers, a group of the Helpers felt so uneasy about it that a lot of ill-statements against the Prophet were spread among them to an extent that one of them said: “By Allah, the Messenger of Allah is illspoken of by his folksmen!”

Those ill-statements continued to spread until Sa`d bin `Ubadah met Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and said: “O Messenger of Allah, a group of the Helpers is angry at you about the distribution of the booty that you had won. You have allotted shares to your own kinsmen and forwarded lots of gifts to the Arab tribes. But this group has obtained nothing.’’ The Prophet asked Sa`d: “Sa`d, what do you think of all that?’’ Sa`d replied: “O Messenger of Allah. You know that I am nothing but a member of this group.’’ The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Call your people and bring them forth to me into this shed.’’

So Sa`d went out and summoned them. When the Emigrants came, he let them in but forbade others. When they were all gathered together, he informed the Prophet saying: “This group of Helpers have arrived to meet you in compliance with your orders.’’ As soon as the Messenger faced them, he thanked Allah and praised Him, then said to them, “I have been told that you are angry with me. Did I not come to you when you were astray, and Allah guided you? You were poor and Allah gave you wealth. Were you not foes and Allah made you love one another.’’ They all said: “Yes, Allah and His Messenger are better and more gracious.’’ He then said: “What prevents you from replying to the Messenger of Allah, O tribe of Helpers?’’ They said, “What should be the reply, O Messenger of Allah, while to the Lord and to his Messenger belong all benevolence and grace.’’

The Prophet again said: “But by Allah, you might have answered and answered truly, for I would have testified to its truth myself: `You came to us belied and rejected and we accepted you; you came to us helpless and we helped you; you were a fugitive and we took you in; you were poor and we comforted you.’ You Helpers, do you feel anxious for the things of this world, while [with it] I have sought to incline these people to the Faith in which you are already established? Are you not satisfied, O group of Helpers, that the people leave with ewes and camels while you leave with the Messenger of Allah to your dwellings. By Him in Whose Hand is my life, had there been no migration, I would have been one of the Helpers. If the people would go through a valley and passage, and the Helpers go through another valley and passage, I would go through the valley and passage of the Helpers. Allah! Have mercy on the Helpers, their children and their children’s children.’’

The audience wept until tears rolled down their beards and they said: “Yes, we are satisfied, O Prophet of Allah, with our lot and share.’’

Then the Prophet left the gathering and the people also dispersed.

The Arrival of Delegation of Hawazin

The delegation of Hawazin arrived as Muslims just after the completion of the distribution of the spoils. They comprised of fourteen men led by Zuhair bin Surad, and it included the Messenger’s foster uncle. They asked him to return to them their wealth and captives. They uttered such touching words that Allah’s Messenger said to them: “You surely see who are with me. The most desirable speech to me is the most truthful. Which is dearer to you, your wealth or your women and children?’’ They replied: “Nothing whatsoever compares with kinship.’’ He said: “When I perform the Dhuhr prayer, then stand up and say: `We intercede with Allah’s Messenger to exhort the believers, and we intercede with the believers to exhort Allah’s Messenger to forego the captives of our people fallen to their lot.’”

So, when Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) performed the Dhuhr prayer, they stood up and said what they had been told to say. The Messenger then said: “As for what belongs to me and to the children of Abdul-Muttalib, then you may consider them as yours. I will also ask my folksmen to give back theirs.”

Upon hearing that the Emigrants and the Helpers said: “What belongs to us is, from now on, offered to Allah’s Messenger.’’ But Al-Aqra’ bin Habis said, “I will grant none of what belongs to me and to Bani Tamim.’’ `Uyainah bin Hisn said: “As for me and Bani Fazarah, I say `No’.’’ Al`Abbas bin Mirdas also refused and said: “No,’’ for Bani Sulaim and himself. His people, however, said otherwise: “Whatever spoils belong to us, we offer to the Messenger of Allah.’’ “You have undermined my position,’’ Al-`Abbas bin Mirdas instantly said.

Then Allah’s Messenger said: “These people have come to you as Muslims. For the same reason, I have already delayed the distribution of the booty. Besides, I have granted them a fair option but they refused to have anything other than their women and children. Therefore, he who has some of theirs and will prefer willingly to give them back, let him do so. But he who favors to keep what he owns to himself, let him grant them back too, and he will be given as a recompense, six times as much from the first booty that Allah may provide us.’’

People then said, “We willingly give them all for the sake of the Messenger of Allah.’’ Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “But in this way we are not able to find out who is content and who is not. So, go back and we will wait for your chiefs to convey to us your decisions.”

All of them gave back the women and children. The only one who refused to comply with the Messenger’s desire was `Uyainah bin Hisn. He refused to let an old woman of theirs go back at first. Later on he let her go back. Allah’s Messenger gave every captive a garment as a gift.

`Umrah and Leaving for Madinah

Having accomplished the distribution of the spoils at Al-Ji’ranah, he left from there while wearing clothing for `Umrah and proceeded to Makkah to perform `Umrah.

Allah’s Messenger then left Makkah for Madinah after appointing `Attab bin Asid as governor of Makkah. His arrival in Madinah occurred in the last six nights of Dhul-Qa`dah, 8 A.H.

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