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The Battle of Khandaq (The Confederates) Allah, alone, gives victory to His slaves and His soldiers

The Battle of Khandaq (The Confederates) Allah, alone, gives victory to His slaves and His soldiers

The reason the battle was called the Battle of Khandaq (the Confederates)

The battle was called ‘The Confederates’ after the tribes of disbelievers who made an alliance to attack the Muslim nation. It was called ‘The Battle of Khandaq (the Ditch)” as this was the effective means the Muslims used to fight these tribes.

When and where was the Battle of Khandaq (the Confederates)?

The Battle of Khandaq took place in the month of Shawwal in 5A.H., on the northern border of Medinah.

Who was the leader in the Battle of Khandaq, and who was the flag-bearer?

The Messenger (peace be upon him) was the leader in this battle, leading 3000 Muslim fighters. Zaid ibn Harithah carried the flag for the Muhajareen, and Sa’d ibn Ubadah carried the flag for the Ansar (may Allah be pleased with them all).

As for the tribes, Abu Sufyan ibn Harb led the disbelievers of the tribes of Quraish and Banu Kananah, and with him was Uyaynah Ibn Hisn leading the tribe of Banu Fazarah (Ghatafan), Al-Harith ibn Awf leading Banu Murrah, Misar Ibn Rakheelah leading Banu Ash-ja, Tulayha ibn Khuwaylid Al-Assady leading Banu Assad, and Sufyan ibn Abd Shams leading Banu Saleem. The army of the disbelievers added up to 10,000 fighters (4000 from Quraish and its allies, and 6000 from Ghatafan and its allies). They were also helped by the Jews of Banu An-Nadir and Banu Quraizah, who were lead by Huyai Ibn Akhtab and Kaab ibn Asad, respectively. Othman ibn Talhah, whose father and two of his uncles were killed in the Battle of Uhud, carried their flag.

Reasons for the Battle of Khandaq (the Confederates)

The Jews of Banu An-Nadir were exiled from Medinah due to their attempt to assassin the Messenger (peace be upon him). They moved to Khaybar. The Jews convinced Quraish and all the other enemies from among the disbelieving tribes the necessity of forming an alliance to attack the Muslims to ruin them once and for all. Therefore, the Muslims had to prepare to fight them, repelling them by following a well-devised plan.

Events of the Battle of Khandaq (the Confederates)…the Jews turn the tribes against the Muslims

The Jews of Banu An-Nadir haboured a hidden hatred against the Muslims and their Prophet after the Muslims had expelled them from their homes in Medinah as they had broken the covenant with the Muslims there. Moreover, their hatred was due to what happened in their flights to Khaybar, and them sabotaging their homes in Medinah with their own hands before leaving. Therefore, the Jews sent a delegation of their elders made up of 20 men, led by Huyai ibn Akhtab, the father of Safiyah, one of the Mothers of the Believers (may Allah be pleased with them), to Mecca to call and incite Quraish to fight the Messenger. They said, “We will be with you until we eradicate him.”

Abu Sufyan welcomed the idea. It has been reported that the Jews said that the religion of the Arabs was better than Muhammed’s religion, and they exaggerated in their praise of the disbelievers for prostrating to the idols. Consequently, Allah (Glorified be He) revealed the following about them, {Have you not seen those to whom a portion of the Book was given? They believe in baseless superstitions and taghut (false deities), and say about the unbelievers that they are better guided than those who believe.} [Surah An-Nisa’: 51]. At that time, 50 men from Quraish came forward to make an alliance with the Jews. They held onto the curtain of the Kaaba to indicate that they would not let one another down. 

After that, the Jews went to Ghatafan, one of the largest tribes among the enemies of the Muslims. The Jews offered them one year’s harvest of the fruit in Khaybar if they overcame the Muslims. The Jews also repeated this tactic with other enemy tribes.

Immediately after learning what the enemy was habouring, the Messenger (peace be upon him) set up his advisory council to discuss the defense plan. They replied with an idea that the Arabs were not familiar with. This idea was presented by the Companion Salman Al-Farisi, the first Persian to enter Islam, who said, “When we were beseiged, we used to dig a ditch.” The Messenger (peace be upon him) accepted this suggestion. The Messenger (peace be upon him) referred to Salman as, In another hadith, it is reported that the Messenger   said he was one of the three (people) paradise yearns for.

Confrontation at the ditch

The Messenger (peace be upon him) gave the responsibility of digging 40 armslength of the ditch to every 10 men. He decided that the ditch would be on the north of Medinah, which is surrounded by gardens. This would make it more difficult for anyone to raid.

The Messenger (peace be upon him) kept encouraging them and helping them in their work of moving the earth on their shoulders. Anas stated that the Messenger (peace be upon him) left to go to the ditch, where the Muhajareen and Ansar were digging in the cold morning air. They did not have any slaves to do this work for them. When the Messenger saw that they were tired and hungry, he said,

 

They replied by saying,

“We are the ones who took a covenant with Muhammed…to fight as long as we are alive.”

The Muslims used to dig the ditch all day, and then return to their families at night. They continued this routine until the ditch was completed, after about one month.

Al-Bara ibn Azib (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “I saw him (the Messenger) carrying the earth of the ditch to the extent that I could not see him because of the dust. I hard him chanting the words of the poet Ibn Rawahah, when he was carrying the earth, saying,

The Messenger’s miracles in the ditch

The noble Companions used to tie stones on their stomachs because they were so hungry. Their Messenger did the same. He (peace be upon him) also kept fasting continuously for days on end, without taking any food. This continuous fasting was allowed only for the Messenger; no one else was given the permission to perform continuous fasting. The Messenger became hungry for Allah, and Allah satisfied him by feeding and giving him drink from His Own Self. Jabir ibn Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger was very hungry. As a result, he slaughtered one of his animals, and his wife ground some barley. Then Jabir whispered to the Messenger in private for him to come to his home with a small group of Companions. The Messenger (peace be upon him) went with all those who were in the ditch (1000 Companions). They all ate from this food until they were satisfied. However, after eating, the meat was still the same as it was at the beginning, and the barley bread was also still the same as it was before anyone ate. Moreover, the sister of An-Numan Ibn Basheer went to the ditch with a bag of dates to give to An-Numan’s father and uncle. She passed by the Messenger, so the Messenger (peace be upon him) asked her for the dates. He placed them on his thobe, and then called all the people in the ditch to eat from the dates. The number of dates kept increasing until they were enough for all the people in the ditch and until they were so numerous they fell off his thobe [related by Al-Bukhari].

Al-Bukhari also reported Jabir narrating about the very strong rock which the Companions came across when they were digging the ditch. The Messenger (peace be upon him) took an axe and hit the rock with it, three times. As a result, the rock became like sand in his hands. Moreover, Salman Al-Farisi heard the Messenger say, “Allahu Akbar,” and “Bismillah,” and then say, each time he hit with the axe, that he was given the keys: first for Ash-Sham, second for Persia, and for the third hit, he mentioned the keys for Yemen. For each one he said that he saw their palaces in front of him, being controlled by the Muslims.

Salman Al-Farisi was a strong man. He worked in the ditch like 10 men, to the extent that he was affected by an envious eye. Consequently, the Messenger (peace be upon him) advised him to take the ablution of the others in the ditch. It is said that he is the one who saw sparks fly from under the Messenger’s axe when the Messenger was breaking the stone. Salman used to very clearly describe places in Persia, which the Muslims liberated after that.

The snorting of the horses of Allah

Quraish moved towards Medinah until they reached Al-Asyal, between Al-Jurf and Za’aba. Ghatafan and those who followed them from Najd, also moved towards Medinah until they reached Themb Qami on the side of Mount Uhud. At this time Allah (Glorified be He) revealed, {As for the true believers, when they saw the invading confederates, they cried out, “This is what Allah and His Messenger had promised us, and what Allah and His Messenger said was absolutely true.” This only increased their faith and submission} [Surah Al-Ahzab: 22]. But the hypocrites and the weak-hearted became scared when they saw this army. Allah (Glorified be He) says about them, {And call to mind when the hypocrites and all those with diseased hearts said, “All that Allah and His Messenger had promised us was nothing but deceit”} [Surah Al-Ahzab: 12].

The Messenger (peace be upon him) left with 3000 Muslims, with their backs towards Sila mountain to protect them. The ditch was between them and the disbelievers. Their slogan was, “Ha Meem….they will not be helped,” and “Oh horses of Allah,” to keep encouraging them. The Messenger (peace be upon him) had left Ibn Um Maktoum to run the affairs in Medinah, and had ordered the women and children to stay in the fort of Medinah which the Muslims had built in face of the impending danger.

And when the polytheists wanted to attack the Muslims and storm the city, they found a wide ditch between them and Medinah that prevented them, and, so they resorted to imposing a blockade on the Muslims. The polytheists moved along the ditch, being very annoyed. They were looking for a weak point to cross. The Muslims kept looking at the polytheists' attempts, shooting slingshots at them. Consequently, they did not dare approach them.

At the head of the Mecca army was Abu Sufyan, Amr ibn Al-Aas, Jabirah ibn Wahab, Khaled ibn Al-Waleed, Ikrima ibn Abu Jahl, Amr ibn Wudd, Dirar ibn Al-Khattab and other well-known horsemen. In reality, they made an opening through which they broke into the marshy area between the ditch and the mountain, but Ali bin Abu Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) confronted them and so they retreated.

Amr bin Wad asked to have a duel, and Ali bin Abi Talib was assigned to him, so Amr attacked Ali’s horse, strucking it, and hit its face. Then he approached Ali, each one of them kept hitting the other until Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) killed Amr. The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not want to take any money for Amr’s body, and left Amr for Quraish to bury him. The rest of the disbelievers with Amr felt defeated, so they fled from the ditch. They were terrified, to the extent that Ikrima left his spear while he was running.

It has been related that Amr ibn Wud who chanted these verses before the duel, and he told Ali that he was not interested in shedding his blood because Ali’s father was his father:

I raised my voice and called ** to you all, who will fight me.

Courage in youth ** and generosity are the best characteristics.

So Ali chanted the following to him:

Do not hurry, because what you want ** has come, in strength.

With a goal and foresight ** Truthfulness saves every winner.

One narration states that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) gave his sword, called Thi Al-Faqar, and his iron shield and his turban to wear, saying, Another report states that he said,

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) sent Saleeta and Sufyan ibn Auf to gather information about the tribes of the disbelievers, but the disbelievers killed them both. They brought them to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), who buried them both in the same grave. Consequently, they were called “the two related martyrs”. Then the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) sent Muslimah ibn Aslam and Zaid ibn Harithah with 400 men to guard Medinah, who kept extolling Allah’s greatness on their way. The men were sent to protect the young children and women from any enemy attacks from their Jewish neighbours of Banu Quraizah, after the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) had heard that they (Banu Quraizah) had broken their covenant with him.

At that time, Nawafil ibn Abdullah ibn Al-Mughira died, breaking his neck after falling into the ditch when he tried to jump across it with his horse.  Moreover, Habeerah ibn Abu Wahb, the husband of Um Hany, Ali’s sister, killed Az-Zubayr (may Allah be pleased with him). Omar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) kept following his brother, Darar (a disbeliever), but he did not manage to kill him. However, Darar later embraced Islam and increased in faith.

Saad ibn Mu’ath (may Allah be pleased with him) was wounded when an arrow cut a main artery on his wrist. He supplicated Allah not to die until he had taken revenge from Banu Quraizah, and to die as a martyr in Allah’s path.

During this battle, the first military war hospital in Islam was set up. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) put up a tent in his mosque in Medinah and made Rufaydah Al-Aslamia Al-Ansari the manager of the hospital. When Saad ibn Mu’ath was injured by an arrow in the ditch, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) told those with him,

Praying Asr prayer out of time

It has been reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) supplicated against the disbelievers when they stopped the Muslims from praying Asr in time, because they kept expecting the disbelievers would cross the ditch.

It is reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) ordered the Mu’adhin (who calls the Muslims to prayer) to announce that the Asr prayer would be performed, and after this (Asr prayer) he (peace be upon him) prayed the Maghrib prayer. This was before the prayer at the time of fear had been legislated, which was revealed during the Battle of Ar-Riqaa (rags). Allah (Glorified be He) says about this prayer, {Even if you are in danger, you must offer your prayers on foot or on horseback. And when you have peace again, remember Allah in the manner He has taught you, which you did not know before} [Surah Al-Baqarah: 239]. It is reported in Al-Bukhari that Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, Ahmed and Ash-Shafa’i reported that the disbelievers kept the Muslims from praying the Duhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha prayer in time, so they prayed them all together at the same time.

Banu Quraizah break their treaty

The main criminals, Banu An-Nadir, tried to persuade Kaab ibn Asad, chief of Banu Quraizah, to make a covenant with them, although they had made a covenant wth the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and Kaab had said to them, “Woe to you? Leave me alone. I want to keep my covenant (with the Muslims), as I have seen only truthfulness and faithfulness from Muhammed.”

But Banu An-Nadir eventually persuaded him to take a covenant with them to fight Muhammed.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) wrapped himself in his thobe when he heard about the treachery of Banu Quraizah. After that, he became overcome with a feeling of hope, and he called out, He (peace be upon him) then began to make plans to confront the current situation, and sent guards to Medinah to protect the children and women against any surprise attack. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) also wanted to make an agreement with ‘Uyainah ibn Hisn and Al-Harith ibn Auf, chiefs of the tribes of Ghatafan, giving one third of the harvest of Medinah in return for the chiefs leaving the battefield with their people to allow the Muslims to totally defeat Quraish. He (peace be upon him) consulted his two companions (Saad ibn Mu’ath and Saad ibn ‘Ubadah) about this, who said that after Allah had guided them and honoured them with His religion, they rejected the idea of the Muslims giving their money to the tribes. The companions said, “By Allah, we will not give them anything but the sword.” However, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) replied to their view, saying, <Truly, it is a strategy to ensure your security, when I saw that the Arabs had united to attack you.> Then Allah (Glorified be He) revealed, {O people who have believed! Remember the bounty of Allah, which He has (just now) shown you. When the hosts came down on you, We sent against them a violent wind and the armies which you could not see. Allah was watching all that you were doing. When the enemies came upon you from above and from below you, when eyes were petrified due to fear and the hearts leapt up to the throats, and you began to entertain all sorts of doubts about Allah, the believers then were thoroughly tested and severely shaken. Remember the time when the hypocrites and all those whose hearts were diseased were openly saying that the promises Allah and His Prophet had made with them were nothing but a delusion} [Surah Al-Ahzab: 9-12]. At the same time, Safiyah bint Abdul-Muttalib, the Messenger of Allah’s aunt, when the Muslims and the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) were busy fighting in the ditch, killed a Jewish man who kept circling the fort where the Muslim women were staying. The man was from Banu Quraizah. At first, she asked Hasan ibn Thabit to go and kill the Jew. However, he did not agree to go. It is said that he was scared to go and fight the Jew. It is also said that he was physically weak. Safiyah (may Allah be pleased with her) left holding a club, moved behind the fort, and gave the Jew a fatal blow. In this way, she protected the Muslim women and children from any attacks from the Jews.

The hypocrites sarcastically said that Muhammed had promised them the treasures of Kisra, but now they did not feel safe to even answer the call of nature. The hypocrites taunted the Muslims with having indulged in delusive hopes of gaining the treasures of Kisra, emperor of Persia, and Caesar, emperor of the Romans. Some of them claimed that their houses were unprotected from the enemy, in order to be allowed to return to them. Banu Salamah did not even want to leave to the ditch. Allah (Glorified be He) revealed the following about these hypocrites, {When a party of them said, "O people of Yathrib, you cannot withstand (the enemy here), so go back," when a section of them sought leave of the Prophet, saying, "Our homes are insecure," whereas they were not insecure. In fact, they wished to flee (the battle front)} [Surah Al-Ahzab: 13].

Allah’s soldiers defeat the confederates

Nu’aym ibn Masoud ibn Amir Al-Ashja’i came to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) from Banu Ghatfan to announce that he had embraced Islam, telling him that his people did not know that he had entered Islam. Therefore, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, Consequently, Nu’aym immediately went to Banu Quraizah, who he used to be friends with before he entered Islam. He explained to them that Quraish were not like them as they (Jews of Banu Quraizah) lived in the same city as the Muslims; they could not transfer their money, children or women to another place. However, Quraish and Ghatfan came to fight Mohammed and his companions, and if they were unsuccessful, they could return to their city, leaving Banu Quraizah to face any possible revenge from the Muslims alone. Therefore, he advised them to withdraw from the treaty with Quraish until they agree to give hostages. Next, Nu’aym headed towards Quraish and managed to plan a similar strategem, and from Quraish, Nu’aym went to Ghatfan as well.

On Saturday night in the month of Shawwal in 5A.H., Abu Sufyan, on behalf of Quraish, sent a message to the Jews, “Our situation is not good. Our horses and camels have been ruined. Therefore, arise with us against Muhammed. The Jews sent a message reminding them that it was Saturday, and they (Quraish) knew what had happened to them before when they overstepped the limits of Saturday. For this reason, they would not fight with them until they (Quraish) sent them hostages.

When their messenger returned with this message, Quraish and Ghatfan said, “By Allah, Nu’aym told you the truth.” Therefore, they sent a message to the Jews, “By Allah, we will not send any hostage to you. Leave with us to kill Muhammed.” Quraizah also said, “By Allah, Nu’aym told us the truth.” Consequently, the two groups fell into dispute, and distrust arose in their ranks, resulting in them losing their resolve.

Muslims used to pray to Allah, saying, “Oh Allah, cover our weak points and calm our fears.” The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) supplicated against the confederates, saying the well-known prayer, [related by Al-Bukhari].

Allah (Glorified be He) answered the Messenger of Allah’s and the Muslims’ supplications. After the ranks of the polytheists became disunited and distrust had spread quickly between them, Allah sent His soldiers in the form of a wind which blew down their tents, overthrew all their large camping pots, and made everything disarrayed. Allah (Glorified be He) also sent His soldiers of angels to shake them and put terror and fear into their hearts.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) sent Hatheefah ibn Al-Yaman, during that very cold night, to bring back information about the enemy. It is said that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) prayed for him to be his companion in paradise. The Companion found the people in the bad state mentioned above, preparing to leave. Therefore, he returned to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and told him the people were leaving. Consequently, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) glorified Allah, as Allah, by His wrath, had pushed back the enemy. And Allah spared the Muslims from having to fight a formidable army. Therefore, He (Glorified be He) fulfilled His promise, raised the position of His followers, and gave victory to His slave; He alone defeated the confederates. As a result, the Muslims returned to the centre of the city.

Abu Sufyan sent a written message to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saying, “By Your Name, Oh Allah, I swear by Al-Lat, Al-Uzza, Asaf, Na’ila and Hubil that we came to you with a large army, and we did not want to return until We had eradicted you. I saw you did not want to meet us and had dug a ditch. This was you turn (to win) in return for our victory in Uhud.” The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) sent him a message, which stated,

Poetry of the Fighting Parties

After the confederates dispersed, their poets became angry and took steps to play down their defeat. Some of the poems that have been written about the Battle of the Confederates include:

A poem of Darar ibn Al-Khattab Al-Fihri Al-Quraishi, one of the poets of the confederates. In the poem, he satirizes the Muslims and threatens to fight them another time:

We prepared to face you with strength, with you defending yourself. ** ‘Greeting’ each other on the battlefield at the ditch.

People who we do not considered as wise, ** but who had said, “Are we not wise?”

We surrounded them for a whole month, ** tightening the siege and blockading them.

We kept going out to them early in the morning, ** with all our weapons and armour.

In our hands, thin sharp swords, cutting the heads, ** their hair on their head and their skulls, with them.

Kaab ibn Malik As-Sulamy Al-Khazraji, one of the Muslim poets, replied by saying:

At the entrance of the two ditches, like a lion ** with its fangs, protecting its den.

When our horsemen kept leaving early to meet the enemy and returning, ** looking here and there and showing that our strong forces are ready to fight.

To support Ahmed (the Messenger of Allah) and, by Allah, ** for our worship to be true and sincere.

And for the people of Mecca to know, when they ** and the confederates marched out and   came as a large army to us,

That Allah has no partner, ** and Allah is the Patron of the believers.

If you foolishly kill Saad, ** Allah is the One Who take revenge (for this) for us.

He (Saad) will enter fine gardens, ** the place for the righteous.

Results of the Battle of the Ditch (Confederates)

There was not a great loss of life in the battle; the number of men killed from both sides could be counted on the fingers: six Muslims and ten polytheists. However, it is one of the decisive battles in the history of Islam. After the battle, it was said that no Arab force could eradicate the small force that was growing in Medina. For this reason, after Allah had dispersed the confederates, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, <Now, we will take the initiative when fighting them, and they will not be able to attack us. We are the ones who will march out towards them> [related by Al-Bukhari].

Many ayahs (verses) in the Quran were revealed in Surah Al-Ahzab describing the believers, the hypocrites and the disbelievers in this battle.

What do we learn from the Battle of the Ditch (Confederates)?

Allah (Glorified be He) helps the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and the truthful believers using any method He wants. Allah bestowed special blessings on the believers during this encounter to keep their morale high, and He (Glorified be He) helped them by putting fear into the hearts of their enemies to the extent that they even saw the enemies flee in front of their eyes. Allah sent the enemy a wind which upturned their large camping pots and forced them to leave. Allah also kept the Muslim women and children safe and secure, although they were unarmed and their fort was next to the Jews who had broken the agreement with the Muslims and had joined the party of the disbelievers.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was a role model for the believers; he endured and faced the difficulties and hardships, carrying the dirt with his own noble hands and breaking the rock with his axe. He was not satisfied with just supervise matters, he was a brave and courageous leader who led the Muslims in most of the noble battles against disbelief. The Battle of the Confederates was a tribulation that resulted in great blessings; it exposed the hypocrites, who said they wanted to return to their homes on the pretext of protecting them, and exposed the heads of disbelief: the Jews and disbelievers. Moreover, this battle established the strength of the Islamic nation, who could now plan offensive wars and were able to aspire to reach Persia, Yemen, Ash-Sham, breaking the barriers they put up against the call of Islam.hhh71