It was called after the valley which the Prophet (peace be upon him) entered to catch the disbelievers who had raided the Muslims’ cattle.
It took place in the month of Rabi’ Al-Awwal in the second year of Hijra, in Safwan valley, on the side near Badr.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) was the leader and Ali ibn Abu Talib was the flag-bearer, may Allah honour his face.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) left to catch Kurz ibn Jabir Al-Fihry, who had raided the cattle (sheep and livestock) of Medinah which were grazing on the mountain in the direction of Al-Aqeeq, three miles from Medinah.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) left to catch him at that time, but later Kurz embraced Islam and increased in faith. The Prophet (peace be upon him) even made him a leader of a campaign which he sent to follow two men who had tortured and killed a Muslim shepherd. He brought the two men to the Prophet, and the Prophet carried out the prescribed punishment against them. At that time, a Quranic ayah (verse) was revealed stating the recompense for those who fight Allah and His Messenger.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) left Medinah, after placing Zayd ibn Harithah (may Allah be pleased with him) in charge of it, in order to catch Kurz ibn Jabir who had raided the Muslim’s cattle in Medinah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) reached Safwan valley, but Kurz managed to escape, so the Prophet did not catch him. Therefore, the Prophet (peace be upon him) returned to Medinah.
There were no losses or fighting
The Prophet (peace be upon him) was not silent when the rights of the Muslims were violated, and he was not unmindful about being cautious about the disbelievers, taking every opportunity to intercept their caravans. The war with the disbelievers continued, and although there was no fighting, this did not mean that there were no benefits or gains, as fear increased double-fold in the souls of the enemies of the Muslims.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to physically take part in many of these expeditions. He trained his noble Companions to fulfill the responsibilities of disposing affairs in Medinah when he left on any campaign, and also trained them to withstand the difficulties of fighting along him (peace be upon him). The events eventually resulted in major battles later on.
We also learn from the story of Kurz how close Allah’s guidance is to anyone He wants to guide. Kurz used to attack the Muslims, but later he was one of the people who the Prophet (peace be upon him) placed as a leader of an army. He was martyred on the day of the liberation of Mecca.