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The Battle of Hunayn…Allah sends His serenity down to the fighters on the battlefield

The Battle of Hunayn…Allah sends His serenity down to the fighters on the battlefield

The name of the battle

The Battle of Hunayn, or the Battle of Taif, or the Battle of Hawazin

The location and date of the Battle of Hunayn

The battle of Hunayn occurred on 10th of Shawwal in 8 A.H. at a valley called Hunayn located some miles from Mecca in the direction of Arafat [Fath Al-Bari by Ibn Hajar, vol. 8, p27].

Leadership in the Battle of Hunayn

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was the leader of 12,000 fighters in the battle. Most of the fighters were the Prophet’s companions (10,000 fighters who participated in the Liberation of Mecca) along with new Muslims who embraced Islam straight after the Liberation of Mecca.

Malik ibn Auf An-Nasari was the leader of 30,000 fighters from the disbelievers from the enemy tribes, the most notable ones being Hawazin and Thaqeef.

Malik was a courageous horseman (who left with 1000 fighters and who was known for his bravery). He embraced Islam after he was defeated by the Muslims [The Prophet’s Biography by Ibn Hesham].

Reasons for the Battle of Hunayn

A group of the tribes of disbelievers gathered to fight the Muslims after the Liberation of Mecca, fearing the consolidation of the Muslims’ victory and the establishment of their state [Zaad Al-Maad (Provisions for the Hereafter) by Ibn Qayyim, vol. 3, p. 465].

Events of the Battle of Hunayn

A few days after the great victory of the Liberation of Mecca and the destruction of the idols, the Muslims faced another new plot. News of the mobilization of a number of tribes to fight the Muslims, the tribes of Huwazin, Thaqeef, Mudar, Jashm and Sa’d ibn Bakr as well as some of Banu Hilal, had reached the Prophet. The tribes were led by a youth called Malik ibn Auf An-Nasari [Fath Al-Bari, vol. 8, p27].

These tribes had been deceived by their strength and were not interested in taking any pledge with the Prophet (peace be upon him) to embrace Islam, contrary to the rest of the tribes at that time.

Preparations for the battle

The Prophet (peace be upon him) chose to meet the tribes outside Mecca, in fear that the new Muslims may revert from Islam.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) mobilized all his military strength and made an important agreement with the arm dealers in Mecca, most notably Safwan ibn Umayyah and Nuwfal ibn Al-Harith, who were still disbelievers at that time. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked Safwan to lend him weapons, when he was still under his cousin’s protection after he had fled when Mecca was liberated and had not yet embraced Islam, he asked the Prophet, <‘To take by force, Oh Mohammed?’ So the Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, ‘No, a secure loan (i.e. we guarantee we will return them or their value)’> [related by Abu Dawud, 3526].

The Prophet’s scouts tell him the information

The Prophet (peace be upon him) sent Ibn Abu Hadarad (may Allah be pleased with him) to sit among the enemy. He told the Prophet (peace be upon him) that Malik ibn Auf had told the fighters among the disbelievers, “If we go to them tomorrow to meet them in the morning, all of you hit them at one and the same time.”

Another man came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) confirming that Hawazin had left their homes to go to the battlefield, so the Prophet (peace be upon him) smiled and said, <That is the Muslim’s booty tomorrow, Allah willing> [related by Abu Dawoud, 2501].

The tribes of disbelievers prepare for war

Malik ibn Auf was the leader of the army of disbelievers. He insisted on bringing the fighters’ wealth, wives and cattle with them to the battlefield, to make sure the men fight as best as they could in order to protect them all and for fear they would die or be captured as prisoners of war.

An old man called Duraid ibn As-Summah, who was experienced in military tactics, told Malik, “If you meet Muhammed, face to face, you will realize that you will be defeated.” He pointed to a place between the trees in the Hunayn valley where they should hide to take the Muslims by surprise and ambush them.


The deceptive plot of Hawazin and the confusion of the Muslim army

The Muslim’s army, consisting of 12,000 fighters, left to confront the disbelieving army. Many of the Muslim fighters felt proud, saying, “We are so many we will not be defeated today.”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked Anas ibn Abu Murthad (may Allah be pleased with him) to stay, on his horse, on the top of the mountain so that the enemy would not be able to lie in ambush for the Muslims among the trees. The Companion completed his mission and then told the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he did not see any sudden movements in the area. He did not know that the enemy had actually positioned themselves to ambush the Muslims before he went to the mountaintop. The Prophet (peace be upon him) prayed for the Companion to be given paradise for his bravery.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) then divided the Muslim battalions under the following leaders: Khalid ibn Waleed, As-Zubayr ibn Al-Awwam and Ali ibn Abu Talib. The battalions went down the slope in the valley to start fighting, but the Huwazin army that had taken ambush started to come out of the trees. At that point, the Muslim army became confused because of the sudden severe attack, with a shower of arrows intensively falling down on them over their heads and killing them.

Most of the Muslim army became terrified and so returned back towards Mecca, not looking behind them because of the severity of the fighting. No one stayed with the Prophet (peace be upon him) but a small number of his companions!

It is worthy of note to point out that the reason for the Muslims fleeing in this particular war was that the mainstay of the army consisted of a large number of those who had recently embraced Islam after the Liberation of Mecca. The hearts of some of these were still attached to this worldly life, unlike the Companions who had truthfully fulfilled their pledge to Allah and had never fled from any war.

As soon as Al-Ansar and Al-Muhajiroon heard the shouts of the Prophet (peace be upon him) calling them, they returned to him, encircled him and fought the battle fiercely with him. Not more than 200 fighters returned to him!

The Quran mentions this in Allah’s saying, {Allah has helped you on many occasions before this; on the day of the Battle of Hunain, you were proud of your great numbers which had deluded you but it availed you nothing and the earth, with all its vastness, became too narrow for you, and turning your backs, you fled} [Surah At-Tawba: 25].

I am the prophet; this is not a lie…Prophet Muhammed’s call

When the situation was difficult, and it looked as though the disbelievers would win, the Prophet (peace be upon him) rose up and called out while riding his white mule towards the disbelievers, <Oh slaves of Allah.> He ordered his uncle Al-Abbas, whose voice was loud, to call to the Companions, saying “Where are the Companions of As-Samurah (the tree where the Muslims took the Radwan pledge before the Hudaybiyah treaty).

After the Muslims who had surrounded the Prophet (peace be upon him) had fought valiantly, and Ali Ibn Abu Talib had killed one of the leaders of disbelief, “Abu Jarool”, the Prophet (peace be upon him) prayed, <Oh Allah, you made the first group of Quraish taste an exemplary punishment. Make the last group of Quraish taste a favour from You> [related by At-Tirmidhi, 3908].

The Prophet (peace be upon him) cried out on the battlefield with the courage of an inspired leader, <I am the Prophet; this is not a lie…I am the son of Abdul-Muttalib.> This was a phrase to make the Muslims steadfast on the battlefield and also a sign for the disbelievers who remembered the old dream of Abdul-Muttalib, the Prophet’s grandfather, and how the dream was now being fulfilled. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, <Oh Allah, Your victory that You promised,> and he prayed using Allah’s characteristic of the All-Able, as He is the One Who makes the stars lose their lustre and can cause the defeat of the disbelievers. Al-Bara’a related that even the bravest Muslim fighters used to hide behind the the Prophet on that day [related by Muslim, 1776]. 

Words describing the Muslims’ bravery

One remark that the fighters with the Prophet (peace be upon him) said is mentioned below. Abbas ibn Mirdas:

“Truly, I was riding a fast horse, on the day we met the disbelievers on the battlefield with the Prophet (peace be upon him) reciting the Qur’an.”

“I was happy with the punishment that Thaqeef and its people experienced yesterday.”

“They are the leaders of the enemies in Najd; fighting them is sweeter than drinks.”

 The Prophet’s uncle Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) related that he saw the disbelievers escaping by running away after the battle, and the Prophet (peace be upon him) pursued them, saying, <I swear by the Lord of the Kaaba, they are defeated> [related by Muslim, 1775].

The Prophet (peace be upon him) got off his mule, took a handful of dust, and threw it at the enemies’ faces, saying, <May your faces be disgraced (i.e. may you be vanquished).> Consequently, Allah (Glory be to Him) made this dust fill the eyes of every one of them, and so they ran away from the battlefield, with the Muslims following them and killing them. Allah (Glory be to Him) gave the Muslims the disbelievers’ women, children, cattle and wealth as booty [related by Muslim, 1777].

The angels fight with the Muslims

Allah (Glory be to Him) sent angels to strengthen the Muslims. Concerning this, Allah (Glory be to Him) says, {Then Allah sent down His sakinat (peace and tranquility) upon His Messenger and the Believers, and sent (to your aid) forces which you could not see, and chastised those who denied the Truth; this is the due recompense of those who deny the Truth} [Surah At-Tawba: 26].

Some of the scholars of the Prophet’s biography stated that the angels appeared in front of the Muslims in the form of black (dense cloud of) ants descending to fill the valley and spreading among the disbelievers. After the battle, a group of the tribe of Hawazin reported that they saw men in front of them that were fair skinned and wore red turbans. The men were riding “balqa” horses (white horses with long legs). They were so scared of them that they could not fight them.

Ibn Shaybah, who joined the battle in order to make Quraish victors, and not to protect the religion, also verified this report. Moreover, it is said that he intended to kill the Prophet, but when the Prophet realized this, he (peace be upon him) supplicated Allah, saying, <Oh Allah, guide Shaybah,> and wiped his chest three times. After that, Shaybah loved the Prophet more than anyone else [The Prophet’s Biography of Al-Halabiyah, as reported by Al-Hafaz Al-Dumyati and others].

The disbelievers run from the battlefield at Hunayn

When the enemy lost the battle, a group of them gathered at Taif, another group went to Nakhlah, and a third group gathered at Awtas. Therefore, the Prophet (peace be upon him) sent a group of Companions, who were led by Abu Amir Al-Ashari, to Awtas. The Companions defeated the enemies there, and Abu Amir was martyred. Then the Prophet (peace be upon him) sent another group of Companions to follow the group of disbelievers who had headed to Nakhlah. Rabee’a ibn Rafee’ killed one of the leaders of Huwazin, Duraid ibn As-Summah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) himself travelled towards the group that had escaped to Taif, after making sure that the Muslims had been victorious and after confining the booty to distribute later [The Sealed Nectar by Al-Mubarakpuri, p423].

Miracles of the Prophet at the Battle of Hunayn

It has been reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) walked among the Muslims, asking about Khalid ibn Waleed. Khalid had been severely wounded. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) saw him after the battle, he spat on his wounds and they all were healed. This is one of the special supernatural abilities given to the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he was known for [The Prophet’s Biography of Al-Halabiyah, id.].

The Prophet (peace be upon him) also stopped the blood that was flowing profusely from the face and the chest of the Companion A’ith ibn Amr (may Allah be pleased with him), and the traces of his hand looked like a shining star, like the star on the face of a beautiful horse [The Prophet’s Biography of Al-Halabiyah].


Moreover, the Prophet (peace be upon him) knew what Shaybah was intending when he entered the Prophet’s tent after the disbelievers were defeated at Awtas. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to him, <Oh Shaybah, what Allah wants is better than what you want for yourself.> Then the Prophet (peace be upon him) told Shaybah everything that he (Shaybah) had intended to do. Consequently, Shaybah confidently proclaimed the two testimonies of faith.

The Prophet pardons the people of Mecca again

On the battlefield, the stance of the people of Mecca who had left with the Muslim army became clear. Some of them even accused the Prophet (peace be upon him) of witchcraft. One of these was Kildah ibn Al-Hanbal, who later embraced Islam, and another was Shaybah, who tried to kill the Prophet (peace be upon him) although he had left with the Meccan army to fight the Hawazin tribe. Allah (Glory be to Him) later guided him. A third one was Abu Sufyan, who still had some traces of the times of ignorance in him, as he said shamelessly, “(Rejoice), the Muslims are defeated” [The Beginning and the End by Ibn Katheer, vol. 3, p619].

An authentic report on the Prophet’s biography stated that Abu Talha, who was one of the few Muslim horsemen, met his wife Um Saleem when she was holding a dagger. He asked her, “What is that?” She replied, “If any of the disbelievers comes close to me, I will split open his stomach.” That was during the Battle of Hunayn. Abu Talha then said to the Prophet (who was nearby), “Did you hear what Um Saleem said?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) smiled (at her words). Um Saleem added, ‘Oh Messenger of Allah, kill all those people, other than us, who you freed (on the day of the Conquest of Mecca). (They embraced Islam only because) they were defeated at your hands (and as such their Islam is not dependable)!” The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, <Allah is sufficient and better (than those), Um Saleem> [Legislation Taken from the Prophet’s Biography by Sheik Al-Albani, p393, authentic according to the conditions of Muslim].

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was very patient with the harm he suffered from the Arab beduoins while he was distributing the booty and they kept running after him after the battle, asking for some of the war spoils. Some of them accused him of not being just and spoke to him harshly. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, <May Allah have mercy on Musa. He suffered more than this but remained patient> [related by Muslims, 1062].

The leader of the army of disbelievers embraced Islam

Malik ibn Auf had escaped with the nobles from his tribe after the battle to join the people of Taif in their forts. The Prophet (peace be upon him) learnt about this. Some reports relate the Prophet as saying, <If he comes to me as a Muslim, I will return his family and wealth to him and give him 100 camels.> So Malik went to the Prophet (peace be upon him) after he had left for Al-Jairani and took the pledge of Islam with him (peace be upon him) [Proof of Prophecy by Al-Baihaqi, vol. 5, p. 183]. Malik said,

“I have not seen or heard of anyone from all the people who is like Mohammed

He is the one who keeps to the truth the most, he gives very generously whoever asks anything from him and he tells you whatever you want to know about tomorrow

If the battalions built up its strength with spears and many sword




He is like a lion with its cubs. And in the middle of the cloud of chaos, he guards its young ready to attack”

When the Prophet (peace be upon him) heard this, he gave him his family, returned his wealth to him, and allotted 10 camels to him, as he did with others whose hearts he wanted to win over to Islam.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) is merciful to his sister, As-Shaimah

The Muslims captured many of the disbelievers that day. The booty reached a total of 1000 horsemen and 12000 camels, along with personal effects.

The Prophet’s sister due to breasfeeding, the daughter of Helima, was among the captives. When she was brought and was standing near the Prophet, she told him, “Oh Muhammed, I am your sister Shaima, Helima’s daughter.” So the Prophet (peace be upon him) lay down his cloak for her and she sat on it. Then he kept asking all about her. She was the one who used to hug him when her mother was breastfeeding him.

Results of the Battle of Hunayn

Those among the Companions who were martyred in the battle included: Ayman ibn Ubayd Allah Al-Khazraji, Um Ayman’s son, Saraqah ibn Al-Harith and Yazeed ibn Zama’ah ibn Al-Aswad. On the side of the disbelievers, about 70 men of the Hawazin tribe were killed.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said about one of the elders of the disbelievers, Duraid ibn As-Summah, who was killed, <To the fire, a miserable destination,> as he gave the disbelievers military advice for the battle [The History of Tabari, vol. 3, p. 81].

After the tribe of Huwazin was defeated, they left tens of thousands of cows, sheep and camels behind them, as well as the war captives.


Many of the leaders of the tribes of disbelievers embraced Islam when they saw how the heavens helped the Muslims, the Muslims’ and their prophet’s high morals, and how the Prophet (peace be upon him) returned their families to them. 


The spoils of war…a difficult situation and great wisdom

When the enemy had been defeated, the Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered that the war spoils be gathered. An announcer called out, “Bring every needle and every thread. Beware of taking any of the booty illegally, for it will be a source of shame for those who do so on the Resurrection Day” [related by An-Nisa’i, vol.7, p. 137].

The female captives: The Muslims were given captives that day. However, the Muslims did not like to be intimate with them when they were married. They asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) about this, so Allah(Glory be to Him) revealed the following, {And forbidden to you are the wedded wives of other people, except those who have fallen in your hands (as prisoners of war)} [Surah An-Nisaa: 24].


Softening people’s hearts to encourage them to be steadfast in Islam: the Prophet (peace be upon him) divided the booty into different groups. Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) thought that there were some people who had more right to the booty than those fighters. The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied to him by saying, <They gave me the choice of them askng me importunately or of regarding me as a miser, and I am not a miser> (that is, I will give them what they ask for despite of their roughness when asking) [related by Muslim, 1056].


This was due to the Prophet’s wisdom in softening the hearts of those who had recently entered Islam by being generous with them. Abu Sufyan came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) to take his portion of the booty, so the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave him 100 ounzes of gold and the same amount of silver. Abu Sufyan also asked for some booty for his sons, so the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave him some for them.

Safwan ibn Omaymah went to the Prophet, so the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave him 100 ounzes of gold and the same amount of silver as well as 100 camels. Safwan said about this, when he was still a disbeliever, “Muhammed kept giving me booty until I loved him.”

The best of people: The Prophet’s portion of the booty was a herd of camels that were in the valley between two mountains. A Beduoin was looking at the Prophet’s booty, so the Prophet said to him, <Do you like them?> So he replied in the affirmative, to which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, <They are yours.> Consequently, the man went to his people and said to them, “Oh my people, embrace Islam, as I have just come from one of the best of people; Muhammed gives like one who does not fear poverty at all.”

Al-Ansar cried: Al-Ansar, including Saad ibn Ubaydah, started to feel upset as they did not take the same amount as booty as the others, despite the sacrifices they offered in the battle to the extent that they nearly died. Therefore, the Prophet (peace be upon him) gathered them all together to tell them, <‘Does it not please you, Oh Al-Ansar, that the people leave with sheep and cattle and you leave with the Messenger of Allah to your homes? By the One in Whose hands is Muhammed’s soul, you have left with what is better than what they have left with. If it was not for the Hijrah (immigration), I would have wished to be from Al-Ansar. If the people travel along a mountain pass and though a valley and Al-Ansar travelled along another mountain pass and through another valley, I would travel travel along the mountain pass and through the valley with Al-Ansar. Al-Ansar are (like) an inner garments (very close to me) and the people are (like) outer (formal) wear. Oh Allah, show mercy to Al-Ansar, to the sons of Al-Ansar, and the grandsons of Al-Ansar.’ So Al-Ansar cried until their beards became wet from the tears, and they said, “We are pleased with the Messenger of Allah’s distribution and division’> [related by Muslim].

Personal effects: In this battle, for anyone who killed a disbeliever, the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave him a portion of the disbeliever’s belongings that were on him, saying, <Whoever killed anyone (of the enemies), he should give proof of this in order to receive some of the disbeliever’s belongings.> Abu Qatadah Al-Ansari’s armour was the first portion that was distributed in Islam due to this ruling being carried [related by Abu Dawoud, 2717].

Justice and pardon of the Prophet: Moreover, the Prophet (peace be upon him) forgiveness was very clear at this time. A delegation of Huwazin came to the Prophet as Muslims and asked for their wealth and families that had been captured during the battle to be returned to them. The Prophet (peace be upon him) gave them a choice of having their families or their wealth. They chose their families and left their wealth. This highlights how just the Prophet was as he consulted the Muslim fighters about them forgiving the Huwazin tribe and returning the captives the Prophet had given them, and he did not take the decision by himself. He (peace be upon him) also took a wise stance as he returned the captives that the Muslim fighters had agreed to return and encouraged other Companions to give the captives they had by promising that he would give them booty from the subsequent battles. This resulted in everyone being pleased. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,

<‘Whoever will willingly do this (return the booty), then do so. And whoever wants to keep it (the booty he has), return it (the booty) and he will have a portion of the first spoils Allah gives us.’ The people answered, ‘We will do it (return the booty) willingly, Oh Messenger of Allah’> [related by Al-Bukhari, 4318]. 

Useful lessons from the Battle of Hunayn

The battle of Hunayn was a lesson in the Islamic aqueedah (belief); at Badr, the small number of Muslims in the face of a large number of the enemy did not harm the Muslims at all, as they were steadfast and Allah-fearing. However, during the Battle of Hunayn, the large number of Muslims did not benefit them when they were not steadfast and not pious (Allah-fearing).


Relying on Allah and being steadfast and patient during difficult times is one of the most important lessons the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught in the Battle of Hunayn.


All of the Prophet’s battles can be considered as lessons in the importance of taking the initiative, being continuously on guard, and taking the necessary steps (like the Prophet buying weapons from Quraish and some from the disbelievers and him mobilizing a great force to meet the enemy).

It is possible to obtain help from the disbelievers for the wars the Muslims take part in.

The battle highlighted the bravery of the Prophet and his fine example as a military leader, the soldiers took shelter with him, and when they fled from the battle, the Prophet (peace be upon him) stood firmly on the battlefield to reunite them all again.

The wisdom of the Prophet in softening the hearts of the new Muslims by giving them large portions of the battle’s booty.

The wisdom of the Prophet in removing the bad feelings some of the Muslims had as they did not receive much of the booty, reminding them that he would remain among them, which is a greater benefit than any material gains.

Islam prohibits aggression against those who are not fighting the Muslims on the battlefield, like the women, children, elderly and slaves.

the Prophet’s mercy was apparent in this battle; although he was the victorious leader, he spread out the cloth for his sister through beastfeeding to sit on when she was one of the captives, and he sat with her and reassured her.

The aim of Jihad is to spread the call of Islam, and not to spill blood. When the Companions stopped the siege of Taif, they asked the Prophet to supplicate his Lord against the tribe of Thaqeef, but the Prophet (peace be upon him) replied by saying, <Oh Allah, guide Thaqeef and bring them to me> [related by At-Tirmidhi, 3942].

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was very forgiving with regard to the Hawazin captives, although they used to be very persistent in their disbelief. At that time, they went to the Prophet (peace be upon him) submitting to Allah’s religion after they had been defeated, so the Prophet (peace be upon him) returned their families to them. The Prophet (peace be upon him) also forgave Shaybah who intended to kill him, and was forgiving to many others from the people of Mecca who outwardly showed Islam but inwardly harboured other intentions.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not yearn for worldy wealth; he gave his booty to the Beduoin who went to ask him about the spoils. Moreover, the Prophet’s justice was apparent as he did not allot for himself more booty than he gave to his soldiers. In fact, he gave away the fifth of the booty, which includes the share for his family, to those who were in need among them, saying, <Oh people, by Allah, I only have a fifth of the booty, and I have given that fifth to you again.>