It was called after the type of porridge that Abu Sufyan and his companions threw from their camels to lighten their loads in order to flee from any encounter with the Prophet (peace be upon him).
It took place on 5th Thul Al-Hijjah in the second year of Hijrah, at the mouth of a channel next to a mountain Called Layb, near Medinah.
Abu Sufyan, with the help of the Jews of Banu An-Nadeer, killed one of the Muslims from the Ansar (Helpers) and his companion, and burnt the palm trees in the area of Al-Uraid in Medinah. This was an attempt to reply to the harm they suffered from the Muslims in the battle of Badr when the leaders of disbelief were attacked and their elders were killed, two months earlier.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) led the expedition to confront the leader of disbelief at that time, Abu Sufyan.
When Safwan ibn Omaiyah, the Jews, and the hypocrites were conducting their hostile intrigues and plots, Abu Sufyan was planning to carry out some military hostilities in oder to reply quickly to their loses at Badr. These aimed at saving the face of his people and impressing on the Arabs that Quraish was still a strong military power, after their defeat at Badr, and after the Arabs started to think little about them. Abu Sufyan had taken an oath that he would not approach any of his wives until he had taken revenge from Muhammed. He was not brave enough to attack Medinah in broad daylight, so he infiltrated the outskirts of Medinah at night.
Abu Sufyan led 200 riders and entered the outskirts of a place called Al-Uraid, staying over night with Banu An-Nadeer in the Jewish district of Khaybar. He knocked on the door of Huyai ibn Akhtab, one of the Jewish leaders and the father of Safiyah, a Mother of the Believers. However, Huyai was too scared to open the door for him. Therefore, Abu Sufyan left and went to Salam ibn Mashkam, the chief of Banu An-Nadeer and their treasurer. He used to keep their money and jewellery, which he then lent to the peple of Mecca. Salam entertained Abu Sufyan, offered him food and wine, and gave him a full account of the news of the Muslims.
In the morning, Abu Sufyan dispatched men from Quraish, who went to a suburb of Medinah and burnt the palm trees there. They also found in the area two Muslims from the Ansar, Mabid ibn Amr and his companion, so they killed them and then left to return to their base. The incident became known to the people in the city, and as a result, The Prophet (peace be upon him) left with 200 Muhajareen (Immigrants) and Ansar to catch the men from Quraish, leaving Basheer ibn Abdul-Munthir to run the affairs In Medinah.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions reached the area of Qirqirah Al-Kudr, but Abu Sufyan and the disbelievers managed to escape after they had thrown aside many of their goods and much barley porridge called As-Sawiq that the Arabs used to prepare. This was in order to lighten their loads and escape any confrontation with the Muslims. The Prophet (peace be upon him) had left Abu Lubabah ibn Amir in Medinah to run the affairs there in the Prophet’s absence. Abu Lubabah is the same Companion that was left to dispose of matters in Medinah during the battles of Badr and Banu Qainuqa. The Prophet (peace be upon him) returned to Medinah 5 days later.
When the Prophet (peace be upon him) returned, the Muslims said, “Oh Prophet, do you wish to go to battle.” He replied in the affirmative. At the same time in Mecca, Abu Sufyan said, when he was preparing to attack,
“Go back and attack Yathrib and its population, for what they have gathered is booty for you...The day of Badr was in their favour.”
“But after that will be in your favour. I have taken an oath not to approach my wives,”
“And not to wash my head and skin…until I have taken revenge from the tribes of Al-Aws”
“And Al-Khuzraj. Indeed, my heart is on fire (with revenge).”
Kaab ibn Malik answered him. Kaab was a Muslim poet and one of the Companions of the Prophet. He said,
“The mother of those who glorify Allah sighs for Ibn Harb's army, which was weak and cowardly”
“When the Muslims threw aside the bodies of those upon whom
the birds had gorged their fill, flying to the top of the mountains.”
“They (the Muslim’s) came with an army, whose total number,
would be no more than the burrow of a jackal.”
“(But Ibn Harb’s army was) stripped of victory and wealth, they had no heroes like the (Muslim) heroes (that had lived) in the valley of Mecca, and were stripped of spears.”
One of the Ansar and his companion were killed in Medinah, and the palm trees of Al-Uraid were burnt. The readiness of the Muslims to enter battle to take revenge from the leaders of disbelief was clear in this expedition..
The determination of the Prophet (peace be upon him) to fight the disbelievers and restore the rights of the Muslims was clear in this expedition. The Prophet (peace be upon him) left himself in successive expeditions in order to achieve their aims.
Moreover, these events showed how the leaders of disbelief gathered together to fight Islam using different tactics.
Al-Kamel fi At-Tareeq (The Complete History) by Ibn Al-Athir, 2/31; The Sealed Nectar by Al-Mubarakpuri, 241; Zaad Al-Maad (Provisions for the Hereafter), 2/71; Ibn Hesham, 2/47; The Prophet’s Biography from Al-Hallab, the chapter on As-Sawiq expedition