Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Battle of the Trench

Description: The Jews, despite their treaty with the Muslims, now hardly concealed their hostility. Abu Sufian bin Sakhaar with great diplomatic skill he set about forming a confederation of Bedouin tribes and the Jews in Medinah to destroy the Muslims. In the 5th year of the Hijrah or early in 627 C.E. he set out with 10,000 men, the well-equipped army marched towards Medinah

Banu Salleh

Expulsion of Bani Nadir

The Jews, despite their treaty with the Muslims, hardly concealed their hostility and treason against the Muslims. They began negotiating alliances with Quraish and the ‘hypocrites,’ and even attempted to assassinate the Prophet. The Prophet was obliged to take punitive action against some of them.

The Bani An-Nadir had behaved in the same way as Bani Qainuqa'. They had likewise, knowingly and publicly, disregarded the terms of the Charter. The Prophet sent them a message similar to that which was sent to their brethren, the Qainuqa'. Then, relying on the assistance of the Hypocrites' party, returned for a defiant reply. The tribe of Bani Nadir had besieged fifteen days in their strong towers, subdued and but chose to emigrate.

The Muslims renewed their previous offer; again the Bani An-Nadir chose to leave Medinah. They were allowed to take with them all their movable property, with the exception of their arms. Before leaving Medinah, they destroyed all their dwellings in immovable property and arms which they could not carry away with them were distributed by the Prophet SAW with the consent of the Ansar and the Muhajirin.

A principle was henceforth adopted that any acquisition not made in actual warfare should belong to that state and that its disposal should be left to the discretion of the ruling authorities.

Allah revealed: [And there is also a share in this booty] for the poor muhajirin [emigrants], who were expelled from their homes and their property, seeking Bounties from Allah and to please Him. And helping Allah [helping His Religion] and His Messenger [Muhammad SAW]. Such are indeed the truthful [to what we say]; and those who, before them, had homes [in Al-Madinah and had adopted the Faith, love, those who emigrate to them, and have no jealousy in their breasts for that which they have been given [from the booty of Bani An-Nadir], and give them [emigrants) preference over themselves, even though they were in need of that. And whosoever is saved from his own covetousness, such are they who will be the successful." [Surah Al-Hashir, 59:8-9]

The expulsion of the Bani An-Nadir took place in the 4th year of the Hijrah. The remaining portion of this year and the early part of the next were passed in repressing the hostile attempts of the nomadic tribes against the Muslims and inflicting punishment for various murderous forays on the Medinite territories. Of this nature was the expedition against the Christian Arabs of Dumat Al Jandal [a place about seven days' journey to the south of Damascus], who had terrorized the Medinites caravans with Syria and even threatened a raid upon Medinah. These marauders, however, fled on the approach of the Muslims, and the Prophet SAW returned to Medinah after concluding a treaty with a neighboring chief, to whom he granted permission of pasturage in the Medinite territories.

In the same year, the enemies of Islam made every possible attempt to stir up the tribes against the Muslims. The Jews of Madinah also took active part in those intrigues. This led to the Battle of the Trench in the 5th year of Hijrah.

The Battle of the Trench

Abu Sufian bin Sakhaar must have understood very well that the old game of tit for tat was no longer valid. Either the Muslims must be destroyed or the game was lost for ever. With great diplomatic skill he set about forming a confederacy of Bedouin tribes, some, no doubt, opposed to the Muslims, but others merely eager for plunder, and at the same time he began quietly to sound out the Jews in Medinah regarding a possible alliance. In the 5th year of the Hijrah or early in 627 C.E. he set out with 10,000 men, the well-equipped army ever seen in the Hijaz, the western region of the Arabian Peninsula, marched towards Medinah.

The Prophet SAW learnt about the Makkan campaign, he presided over a council of war, and this time no one suggested going out to meet the enemy. The only question was how the town could best be defended. At this point Salman Al-Farisi, a Persian, a former slave who had become one of the closest of the companions, suggested the digging of a deep trench to join the defensive strong points formed by the lava fields and by fortified buildings. This was something unheard of in Arab warfare, but the Prophet SAW immediately appreciated the merits of the plan and work began at once, he himself carrying rubble from the diggings on his back.

The work was barely finished when the confederate army of idolators appeared on the horizon. They encamped near Mount Uhud, a few miles from the city. While the Muslims were awaiting the assault, news came that Bani Quraizah, a Jewish tribe of Madinah which had, until then, been loyal, had defected to the enemy. They were induced by the idolaters to violate their pledge and to join the Quraish. As these Jews were acquainted with the Hypocrites within the walls of the city were waiting for an opportunity to play their part, the situation of the Muslims was most dangerous.

The Prophet SAW brought every available man to the ditch; Prophet SAW could raise at most 3,000 to oppose Abu Sufian, leaving the town itself under the command of a blind companion.

The siege had already lasted for twenty days. They never crossed it, but every attempt was fiercely repulsed by the small Muslim force. The weather turned severe, with icy winds and a tremendous downpour, and this proved too much for the Bedouin confederates. They had come in the expectation of easy plunder and saw nothing to be gained from squatting beside a muddy ditch in appalling weather and watching their horses were perishing fast for lack of fodder. They faded away without as much as a farewell to Abu Sufian. The army disintegrated and he himself was forced to withdraw, and the rest took refuge with the Quraizah. The game was over. He had lost.

Bani Quraizah

The Muslims were satisfied with the failure of their enemies, but could not help thinking that the victory that the Quraizah, who had violated their sworn pledge, must be addressed. They must give an explanation of the violation of the pledge. On the day of the return from the trench the Prophet SAW ordered war on the treacherous Bani Quraizah, who, conscious of their guilt, had already taken to their towers of refuge. After a siege of nearly a month they had to surrender unconditionally. They only begged that they might be judged by a member of the Aws tribe of which they were adherents. They chose the head of the Aws clan Sa’ad ibn Mu’ad which they had long been in alliance, who was dying from wounds received at Uhud. He had to be propped up to give judgment. Without hesitation, infuriated by the treacherous conduct of the Bani Quraizah, he gave judgment that the fighting men be condemned to death and that the women and children should become the slaves. The sentence was carried out and Ibn Muad died of his wounds the following day.

Agreement with monks of St. Catherine

It was about this time that the Prophet SAW granted to the monks of the Monastry of St. Catherine, near Mount Sinai, his liberal charter by which they secured for the Christians noble and generous privileges and immunities. He undertook himself and enjoined his followers, to protect the Christians, to defend their churches and the residences of their priests and to guard them from all injuries. They were not to be unfairly taxed; no bishop was to be driven out of his diocese; nor Christian was to be forced to reject his religion; no monk was to be expelled from his Monastry; no pilgrim was to be stopped from his pilgrimage; nor were the Christian churches to be pulled down for the sake of building mosques or houses for the Muslims. Christian women married to Muslims were to enjoy their own religion and not to be subjected to compulsion or annoyance of any kind. If the Christians should stand in need of assistance for the repair of their churches or monasteries, or any other matter pertaining to their religion, the Muslims were to assist them. This was not to be considered as supporting their religion, but as simply rendering them assistance in special circumstances. Should the Muslims be engaged in hostilities with outside Christians, no Christian resident among the Muslims should be treated with contempt on account of his creed. The Prophet SAW declared that any Muslim violating any clause of the charter should be regarded as a transgressor of Allah's commandments, a violator of His testament and neglectful of His faith.


See: Prophet Muhammad.21.

No comments: