Mar 18, 2013

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Seerah Series Part 15: The Battle of Hunayn & The Expedition of Ta’if

Seerah Series Part 15: The Battle of Hunayn & The Expedition of Ta’if

THE HAWAZIN:

Once Islam was attracting so much popular attention, its enemies made a final attempt to check its expansion. It was the Arabs’ last arrow in their quiver against Islam and the Muslims.

The Hawazin regarded themselves as the greatest tribe after the Quraysh. There had always been rivalry between the two. When the Quraysh submitted to the Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah in Makkah, the Hawazin became the undisputed champions of the idol-worshippers.

Malik ibn Awf an-Nasri, the Hawazin chief, called for war against the Muslims and the tribe of Thaqif supported him. They agreed to advance against the Muslims taking their property, women and children with them so that everyone would fight to the last in defence of his family and possessions.

The Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah set out with two thousand Muslims from Makkah, including those men who had only recently accepted Islam and some who had not yet accepted the faith, and ten thousand who had set out with him from Madinah. It was the strongest force mobilised so far to defend the honour of Islam. Some Muslims even boasted, ‘We will not be defeated today for lack of numbers.’

THE VALLEY OF HUNAYN:
The Muslims advanced to the valley of Hunayn before dawn on 10 Shawwal 8 A.H. The Hawazin were already in the valley, concealed in its ravines. The Muslims were terrified when the Hawazin suddenly loosed volleys of arrows, then appeared, unsheathing their swords, to attack as one man.

Many Muslims fled, none paying attention to anyone else. It was a critical moment. A complete rout of the Muslims was in sight. They were unlikely to put up any resistance after what had happened. In addition, a rumour spread among the people that the Prophet(saw) had been killed, just as had occurred in the Battle of Uhud, and the Muslim forces retreated still further.

THE HAWAZIN ARE DEFEATED:
Allah had chastised the Muslims for boasting about their strength and had made them taste the bitterness of defeat after the sweetness of victory. They had to remember that both come from Allah. Then the peace of Allah seemed to descend once more. The Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah had stayed firm on his white mule; he had not shown any fear. Some of the Muhajirun and Ansar had remained with him. Al’Abbas ibn Abdul-Muttalib was holding the bridle of his mule when the Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah called out:

‘I am the Prophet and there is no denying it. I am the son of Abdul-Muttalib, ‘
When a squadron of idol-worshippers advanced towards him, he took a handful of dust and threw it at the distant enemy lines. They were blinded by it.
When he saw his own men in confusion, he said, ‘O Abbas! Shout: Men of Ansar! Comrades of the acacia tree!’
They heard the call and answered, ‘At your service! At your service!’

Abbas(R.A.) had a loud voice which carried well. The soldiers rushed back towards him, dismounting from their camels and taking up their swords and shields. When a large group of them had gathered round the Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah, they bore down on the enemy and battle began. The Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah stood up in his stirrups and his people took heart. Both sides fought bravely and a group of handcuffed prisoners was brought to the Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah and Allah sent down His angels to help. They filled the valley and the Hawazin were defeated. This is referred to in the Qur’an:

Allah has already helped you on many fields, and on the day of Hunayn, when your multitude was pleasing to you, but it availed you naught, and the land for all its breadth was straitened for you, and you turned about, retreating. Then Allah sent down His Tranquillity upon His Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) and upon the believers, and He sent down legions you did not see, and He chastised the unbelievers; that is the recompense of the unbelievers. (9: 25-6)

THE SIEGE OF THE THAQIF:
The soldiers of Thaqif who had escaped from Hunayn retreated to Ta’if. They locked the city gates after storing sufficient provisions for a year. Then they prepared for war against the Muslims. The Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah and his army went to Ta’if at once and pitched camp outside the city wall. The gates remained locked against them. The Thaqif, who were good archers, shot so many arrows at the Muslims that the air seemed to be filled as if with a swarm of locusts.

The Muslims moved their camp back out of range of the arrows and laid siege to Ta’if. For more than twenty days heavy fighting continued and volleys of arrows were exchanged. In this prolonged siege the Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah used a catapult for the first time. The enemy arrows took their toll of several Muslims’ lives.

When the siege was tight and the battle showed no signs of ending, the Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah commanded that the vineyards of the Thaqif be cut down. The enemy relied on these fine grapes for their livelihood. When the Thaqif begged him to spare the vines, the Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah replied, ‘l will leave them to Allah and kinship between us.’

He ordered that an announcement be made, ‘Any slave who comes out to us is free.’ About ten men came out.

The Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah had not been given leave by Allah to conquer Ta’if so he told Umar ibn al-Khattab to declare that the siege was over and the army could depart. The announcement caused an uproar and soldiers said, ‘We are leaving without conquering Ta’if!’
The Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah said, ‘Alright, go and fight.’
They attacked the enemy but many Muslims were wounded.
The Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah then said, ‘We are going tomorrow, Allah willing,’ and this time they felt relief.

THE BOOTY OF HUNAYN:
On his way back from Ta’if, the Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah stopped at al-Ji’irranah with his army. He waited for more than ten days for the Hawazin to come to him to say they had accepted Islam. When this did not happen, he began to distribute the spoils. The first people he gave to were the Mu’allaiat-al-Qulub, those whose hearts still needed to be won.

RETURNING THE CAPTIVES:
A delegation of fourteen Hawazin came to the Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah and requested him to return to them their kinsmen and property. He replied, ‘You see the people with me? What I love most is the truth. Which are dearest to you, your children and your wives or your property!’

In unison they said, ‘We do not consider anything equal to our children and wives.’

He advised them, ‘Rise tomorrow when I pray and say, “We seek the intercession of the Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah with the Muslims and we seek the intercession of the Muslims with the Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah to return our wives and children to us.” ‘

When he prayed Zuhr, they got up and did as they had been advised. The Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah then said, As for what belongs to me and the Banu Abdul-Muttalib, it is yours, and I will make a recommendation to others for you.’

The Muhajirun and Ansar said, ‘What we have belongs to the Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah.’

Three of the Banu Tamim, Banu Fazarah and Banu Sulaym refused to hand over their shares. The Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah said to them, ‘These people have come as Muslims. I waited for them and I gave them a choice but they do not consider anything equal to their children and wives. Whoever has any of them and is happy to return them he should do just that. Whoever wants to keep his captives should also return them and he will be given six shares in exchange from the first booty Allah gives us.’

Everyone replied, ‘We are content with the Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah.’

He said, do not know who among you is pleased and who is not. You go back now and your chief will tell correctly about your affairs.’ All of them returned their captives’ women and children to them so that none of them were left behind. The Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah made a gift of a garment to each released captive.

A NOBLE GESTURE:
Among those who were brought to the Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah was ash-Shayma’ bint Halimah as-Sa’diyah, his foster-sister. She had been treated roughly as they did not know who she was. When she said that she was the milk-sister of their companion, they did not believe her.

When ash-Shayma’ was taken to the Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah, she said,‘Messenger of Allah! I am your foster-sister!’
He said, ‘Can you prove that?’
She replied, ‘I still have the scar where you bit me on my back when I was carrying you.’
The Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah recognised the mark. He spread out his cloak for her to sit on, and treated her courteously.
He said, ‘If you like, you may live with me in affection and honour or, if you wish, I will give you provision and you can go back to your people.’
She said, ‘Give me provision and return me to my people.
She accepted Islam before she left, taking with her three slaves, a slavegirl, and some cattle and sheep.

THE THAQIF’S DECISION:
When the Muslims were returning from Ta’if, the Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah asked the Muslims to recite, ‘We are returning, repenting, worshipping and glorifying our Lord.’

Some said, ‘Messenger of Allah, curse the Thaqif!’
He raised his hands and entreated; ‘O Allah, guide the Thaqif to the right path and bring them here.’
‘Urwah ibn Mas’ud ath-Thaqafi caught up with the Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah before he entered Madinah. He became a Muslim and returned to invite his people to Islam. He was very popular and well-respected in his tribe, but when he called them to Islam, they turned against him. They shot arrows at him; one hit him and he was killed as a martyr.

The Thaqif held out for some months after killing ‘Urwah, but after taking counsel among themselves, they decided that they had no hope of defeating all the Arab tribes around them which had accepted Islam. They decided to send a delegation to the Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah.

NO LENIENCY:
When the Thaqif arrived, a tent was pitched for them in a corner of the mosque. They accepted Islam and asked the Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah to let them keep their idol al-Lat for three years. The Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah refused. But they continued to ask him, first for two years and then for one. Still he refused. Finally they asked for it for one month after their return. He refused this too, and sent Abu Sufyan ibn Harb and al-Mughirah ibn Shu’bah, one of their people, to destroy it. The Thaqif also asked the Messenger(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) of Allah to excuse them from offering prayers. He told them, ‘Nothing remains in a religion without prayer.’

After the delegation returned home, Islam spread among the Thaqif until every last person in Ta’if was a Muslim.

Source: Jamiat Kwa Zulu Natal

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