THE FIFTH YEAR OF HEGIRA

Salman Farisi’s Acceptance of Islam and His Being Granted Freedom

Salman Farisi, or the Persian, (r.a), formerly a slave of a Medinan Jew, recounts to Ibn Abbas (r.a) his provoking journey that culminated in his entering the blessed haven of Islam:

“I used to live in Jayy, a village in Isfahan. My father was among the notables of our village. I was his most beloved in life. He loved me in excess; he would never leave me out of his sight. He used to always keep me at home, like a daughter, rarely allowing me out. So great was I caught up in Magean beliefs, the religion my father followed that I had even taken upon myself the duty of lighting and feeding the sacred fire at the temple. I would not allow the fire to smolder even for a moment.

My father also had a big farm. One day, as he was busy working on some construction, he said to me, ‘Son, this work will keep me occupied all day, so I will not be able to go to the farm…best you go there today.’ He then told me the things that needed to be carried out at the farm, adding, ‘But do not hang around there more than is needed and have me worrying about your whereabouts; then I will not even be able to focus on what I need to finish here!’

So I set out towards the farm. On the way, I noticed a Christian church. I approached closer and heard some voices coming from inside. They sounded like they were praying. But then again I was not too sure as to what they were precisely doing, for my father had detained me at home nearly all my life. So I could never be certain as to what people exactly do inside a church. Curious, I entered the church to see for myself. I observed them for a while. At the end, I thought ‘surely, their religion seems better than ours.’ I did not leave the church until sundown. As for the farm, I never ended up going there. Wanting to find out more, I asked them where I could find their religion in a more authentic form.

‘In Damascus’, they replied. The sun had completely set by the time I returned home to my father, who, I soon became aware, had put all work aside and sent people to search for me. Upon seeing me, he exclaimed, ‘Where were you? Did not I tell you what you were supposed to do?’

‘I came upon certain people worshipping inside a church, dad’, I began to explain. ‘I was very much taken by what they were doing…so much that I barely noticed the sun had set by the time I left them!’

‘There is nothing of benefit for you in their religion’, he rebuked. ‘What you have with you, which has come from your forefathers, is way better!’

Worried I might run away to them, my father then put shackles around my feet and locked me up inside the house. Nonetheless, through an acquaintance, I was able to send out a message to the men of the church, insisting them to ‘inform me as soon as a trade caravan arrives from Damascus’. A while afterward I received the news that a Christian caravan heading to Damascus had arrived. I was somehow able to free myself of the iron shackles and run to the church, where I joined the Damascus bound caravan. Some time later, we reached Damascus.

There, I searched for the most knowledgeable scholar of the town. The locals directed me to a bishop in some church. I rushed to him the moment I found out. At the time, the bishop was outside the church.

‘I want to enter this religion’, I implored him. ‘I wish to remain with you, provide my services to the church, learn Christianity from you and worship by your side.’

‘Come inside!’ he said.

I entered the church with him. My days there had now begun. In time, I found out for myself that the Bishop of Damascus was not a good man as many had thought. He would command the church comers to give charity for the poor, only to stockpile what he collected. I even noticed, one day, that he had hoarded a total of seven pots of gold and silver in charity. My anger was growing by the day. But soon, the bishop wound up dead. The church comers gathered to offer his final services. That was when I came clean with all the bishop’s misdemeanors.

‘He was an evil man’, I told the onlookers. ‘True, he used to encourage you to offer charity, but he always hoarded what you gave for his own pleasure and never gave even a dime to the poor!’

‘How do you know that?’ they asked suspiciously.

‘I can show you where he kept his treasure hidden’, I replied.

They took out exactly seven pots of gold and silver from the place I showed them.

‘We will never bury him, we swear!’ they shouted fumingly. They were true to their promise: they instead hung his corpse and stoned him. In his place, they brought another bishop. He was different. To this day, except those who offer their five daily salats, I do not remember ever seeing another person who had so little regard for the world, who desired the Hereafter and who worshipped day and night. Some time later, he too was in his deathbed, breathing his last few breaths. I said to him, ‘I have been with you all this time and have never loved anyone else as much as I have loved you. Now you see your time has come. What do you advise I do after you? Who shall I go to?’

‘I know of nobody who follows the same path as I, my dear’, he whispered. ‘The righteous have all but died. Those who are alive have distorted the eternal truths of religion and abandoned most of them. But come to think of it, there is a man in Mosul, one the same path as I. You better go to him.’

After this venerable man passed away, I headed to Mosul and found his friend. He, too, then passed away, after which, at his request, I headed to Nusaybin and from there to Ammuriya (near Eskişehir). There, I even acquired a little wealth as well in the form of some cows and sheep. But ultimately, death came knocking on the door of the man at Ammuriya, too.

‘Honestly, my dear, I cannot think of anyone on our path who I can recommend for you to go to after me…nobody who is on the same path as us. But the time of the Prophet of the Final Hour is near; I can sense his shade hovering above us. That prophet will be sent on the religion of Ibrahim (a.s). He shall appear in the land of the Arabs and migrate to a town, with date fields, wedged amid two stony places. He will accept gifts but will not touch charity. He will carry the seal of prophethood between his shoulder blades. If you have the means to go those lands now, go; do not wait for a moment!’

Ultimately, he too passed away. The Will of Allah had me remain there for a little while longer. I then met some merchants from the Kalb Clan. I offered them my sheep and cows on the condition they take me with them to Arabia. They accepted and took me with them. But after we reached The Qura Valley, they betrayed me and sold me as slave to a Jew. I was made to remain with the Jew for a while. The Qura Valley was abundant with date trees, so I could not help but wonder whether I had arrived, after all, at the town which my master had described as the place of migration of the Prophet of the Final Hour. Yet, even though I had built up a glimmer of hope, my heart was never fully convinced.

Once, during my stay at the Qura Valley, the cousin of the Jew, who was of Banu Qurayza, purchased me and took me with him to Medina. By Allah, the moment I saw Medina I just knew, there and then, this was the town described by my master at Ammuriya. My heart now appeased, I began to wait for the Prophet of the Final Hour. Little was I aware at the time that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) had long appeared and remained for years in Mecca. Engrossed in the duties that came with being a slave, however, I had not heard anything in relation. I even had no idea that he had even migrated to Medina.

One day, I was up a date tree, working on it, and seated under its shade was my master. Then his cousin came, yelling, ‘Damn these Aws and Khazraj! They have gathered at the village of Quba around a man whom they call a prophet!’

I began trembling so violently upon hearing his words that I was nearly about to fall on my owner.

‘What did you say? What did you say?’ I repeatedly asked, as I quickly came down from the tree. Angered, however, my master hit me with a forceful slap and exclaimed, ‘What is it to you? You worry about your own business!’

‘Nothing to worry’, I said. ‘I only wanted to make sure I heard him correctly.’

Come evening, I was able to get away to Quba, to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), taking with me a few things to eat I had been storing. My first words to him were, ‘I hear you are a righteous man and that you have needy friends with you. I have some food I have been storing for charity. When I heard about your situation, I thought it you might be in need of it more than me.’ I thus offered what I had to the Messenger of Allah.

‘Here, help yourselves’, said the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) to his Companions and he did not even lay a finger on it. ‘One down’, I thought to myself. I then departed from his presence and returned to Medina. I again saved up some more things. Meanwhile, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) had arrived in Medina. I went to him once more.

‘I noticed you do not touch charity but this’, I said, ‘is a gift I have prepared for you.’ This time, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) ate from it and told his Companions to do likewise. ‘Two down’, I thought to myself.

Afterward, I visited the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), who was at the Baqi’ul-Gharqad Cemetery at the time; the occasion being a funeral of a Companion. He was seated amid his Companions, wearing two shrouds that were completely covering him. I greeted him, before moving behind him, in hope of perhaps seeing the Seal of Prophethood described by my master at Ammuriya. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) had sensed my intention; so he slightly slipped off his shroud from his back. I recognized the seal the instant I saw it! I fell over him; hugged him and began to cry.

‘Come round this way’, said the Messenger of Allah. So I moved around and took a seat in front of him.”

Salman (r.a) then paused and said to Ibn Abbas (r.a):

“I then explained to the Messenger of Allah all that I had undergone, just in the same manner I have been explaining to you, Ibn Abbas. That his Companions, too, heard my story, was something the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) very much enjoyed. Slavery, which had kept this Salman, never gave him opportunity to join the battles of Badr and Uhud alongside the Messenger of Allah.” (Ahmad, V, 441-444; Ibn Hisham; I, 233-242; Ibn Sad, IV, 75-80)

Salman (r.a) was now united with the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), for whom he had been searching for all his life. His only desire, henceforth, was to be by the side and at the service of the Seal of the Prophets (pbuh). In fact, seeing Salman’s (r.a) eagerness, the Noble Messenger (pbuh) one day suggested whether it was possible for him to ‘…come to an agreement with your master in return for being freed from slavery.’ The Jew eventually agreed to free Salman (r.a), on the condition that he plant three-hundred date trees, including the digging of their ditches, as well as paying him forty uqiyyah[1] of gold. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then commanded the Companions to aid Salman (r.a) in meeting these requirements. They all contributed to the best of their capacities and in a short amount of time, the three-hundred date saplings that Salman (r.a) needed were collected.

“Dig the ditches for these saplings, Salman’, said the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). ‘Once you are done, call me so I can plant the saplings with my own hands.”

Salman (r.a) recounts what unfolded next:

“With the help of my friends, I began digging ditches for the date saplings. Once we finished digging, I went and informed the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and returned with him to the field on which the saplings were to be planted. We were handing the saplings to him and he was planting them. By Allah, in Whose Hand of Might my life resides, there was not a single sapling planted by the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) that failed to flourish. I was thus able to meet one part of the agreement. Merely a year had passed when dates began to hang off the branches of the saplings.

Not long after, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) returned from a battle with spoils, among which was a gold nugget the size of an egg. He sent for me. When I arrived next to him, he said, ‘Take this Salman and pay off your debt!’

‘How will a small nugget suffice to pay off the debt on my shoulders, Messenger of Allah?’ I asked. He then took the nugget and slightly rubbed it on his tongue and told me to ‘Take this! Allah the Almighty will cover your debt with it!’

I took the nugget, as I was told, to the Jew. By Allah in Whose Hand of Might Salman’s life resides, the nugget weighed exactly forty uqiyyah. So blessedly abundant was it that, surely, even Mount Uhud would have weighed less if it were to be placed on the opposite scale!”

After earning his release from slavery, Salman (r.a) took active part in the Battle of Handak, just as he did not remain behind, even once, from being by the Blessed Prophet’s (pbuh) side in all the battles that were to take place thereafter.[2]

So adored was Salman (r.a) by the other Companions and such an intense magnetism did he exert that both the Ansar and the Muhajirun claimed him as their own. But, no doubt, the greatest compliment of all was made by the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) himself, in saying, “Salman is of us; of the Ahl’ul-Bayt.” (Ibn Hisham, III, 241)

Throughout his life, the conduct of the celebrated Salman (r.a) reflected the beauties of Islamic morality, leaving behind a splendid example for others to pursue.

Just to remember one of those instances:

The Islamic State now sovereign over vast lands, Salman (r.a), the former slave of a Jew, was appointed governor to Madain, where the Sassanids once reigned. A man from Damascus, of the Taym Clan, had arrived in Madain, with a sack of figs. He spotted the unassuming Salman (r.a), who he was unable to recognize, in great part due to the modest woolen cloak he was wearing.

“Come, carry this sack”, he called out to Salman (r.a), who, without saying a word, placed the sack above his shoulder and begun to carry it. But unlike the Damascene, the public were quick to notice the governor.

“The man carrying your load is a governor!” they reproached him. Embarrassed, the man then began to apologize, begging to be pardoned for failing to recognize him.

“No harm done”, Salman (r.a) replied soothingly. “I will carry the sack until I take it to where you want me to take it!” (Ibn Sad, IV, 88)

The Abolition of Child Adoption

Zayd (r.a), who, as a child, was presented to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) by his honorable wife Khadijah (r.ha) before prophethood, was freed by the Prophet of Allah (pbuh). Zayd (r.a), however, preferred stay with the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) over returning home with his father. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) thus adopted him as a child.

Because he loved Zayd (r.a) very much, the Noble Messenger (pbuh) first had him married to Umm Ayman, a former slave just like Zayd freed by the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), and then to Zaynab bint Jahsh (r.ha), the daughter of his aunt. Although Zaynab, at first, was hesitant about marrying Zayd, the Prophet’s (pbuh) wish, reinforced by the below ayah, ultimately held sway:

إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللّٰهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ

“Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you…” (al-Hujurat, 13)

وَمَا كَانَ لِمُؤْمِنٍ وَلَا مُؤْمِنَةٍ إِذَا قَضَى اللّٰهُ وَرَسُولُهُ أَمْرًا أَن يَكُونَ لَهُمُ الْخِيَرَةُ مِنْ أَمْرِهِمْ وَمَن يَعْصِ اللّٰهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلَالًا مُّبِينًا

“It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger to have any option about their decision: if any one disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.” (al-Ahzab, 36)

Yet Zaynab’s heart could not warm to Zayd and, as a result, they were on the verge of divorce merely a short while into their marriage. Zayd, too, had his complaints regarding her. When he eventually opened up to the Prophet of Mercy (pbuh) about his marital problems, he was advised to:

“Hold on to your wife and fear Allah!”

In fact, informed through Divine Revelation, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) had meanwhile become aware that Zaynab would ultimately end up becoming wed to him; yet hesitant over the possible protests by the hypocrites, that they would raise a storm of malice over the fact that ‘Muhammad had wed the ex-wife of his adopted son’, he was keeping it secret. The custom of the time gave adopted children a natural born status – they were called by their father’s names and given their due of his inheritance.

Not long after, Zayd and Zaynab (r.huma) were divorced, followed by another Revelation. The Almighty had decreed that His Messenger (pbuh) marry Zaynab. This meant that the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) would become the first to implement a command that carried the ultimate aim of abolishing the practice of child adoption, in the way that had been practiced in the Age of Ignorance.

وَإِذْ تَقُولُ لِلَّذِي أَنْعَمَ اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَأَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِ أَمْسِكْ عَلَيْكَ زَوْجَكَ وَاتَّقِ اللّٰهَ وَتُخْفِي فِي نَفْسِكَ مَا اللّٰهُ مُبْدِيهِ وَتَخْشَى النَّاسَ وَاللّٰهُ أَحَقُّ أَن تَخْشَاهُ فَلَمَّا قَضَى زَيْدٌ مِّنْهَا وَطَرًا زَوَّجْنَاكَهَا لِكَيْ لَا يَكُونَ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ حَرَجٌ فِي أَزْوَاجِ أَدْعِيَائِهِمْ إِذَا قَضَوْا مِنْهُنَّ وَطَرًا وَكَانَ أَمْرُ اللّٰهِ مَفْعُولًا

“And when you said to him to whom Allah had shown favor and to whom you had shown a favor: Keep your wife to yourself and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; and you concealed in your soul what Allah would bring to light, and you feared men, and Allah had a greater right that you should fear Him. But when Zayd had accomplished his want of her, We gave her to you as a wife, so that there should be no difficulty for the Believers in respect of the wives of their adopted sons, when they have accomplished their want of them; and Allah’s command shall be performed.” (al-Ahzab, 37)

Zaynab (r.ha), whose marriage to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was entailed by the Divine Command, would always express her appreciation by saying, “It was my Lord who wed me!” (Tirmidhi, Tafsir, 33/3213)

But the event sparked the circulation of malicious rumors among the hypocrites, who began expressing their spite by leveling bitter criticisms at the Seal of the Prophets over what they labeled was his marriage to his son’s former wife. But the answer came directly from the Quran:

مَّا كَانَ مُحَمَّدٌ أَبَا أَحَدٍ مِّن رِّجَالِكُمْ وَلَكِن رَّسُولَ اللّٰهِ
وَخَاتَمَ النَّبِيِّينَ وَكَانَ اللّٰهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمًا

“Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the Last of the prophets; and Allah is cognizant of all things.” (al-Ahzab, 40)

The event thus marked an end to the practice of child adoption, as had been observed throughout the Age of Ignorance.

The allegations made today by contemporary hypocrites, who claim that the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was attracted to Zaynab’s beauty which was hence the reason for the marriage, are unfounded chatters of ignorance. For Zaynab (r.ha) was the Noble Prophet’s (pbuh) cousin, his aunt’s daughter to be precise, which means that he did see her on numerous occasions before that. Had the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) nurtured such an intention, he could have easily married Zaynab (r.ha) well before Zayd (r.a), a marriage Zaynab would have absolutely had no scruples with.

Simple and shallow minds so accustomed to evaluate marriage solely from the perspective of lust are forever inept in comprehending the reality of the marriages of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). Silly and prejudiced judgments inferred by those who have filled their minds and hearts with egoistic inclinations can only be reflections of their sinister, dark worlds. The Noble Messenger’s (pbuh) spent the first twenty-four years of his marital life, the years of youth where one naturally carries the most vigor, with the honorable Khadijah (r.ha). The marriages he contracted thereafter were completely motivated by certain considerations, be they political or social, but always of Islamic import. An overwhelming majority of these women had been widowed and were older than the Prophet of Allah (pbuh). Among them, Aisha (r.ha) was the only one who was young and never before married. Even that marriage was to maintain, in the long run, the transference of authentic Islamic knowledge, especially those issues pertaining to females, to the generations of Believers to come. In retrospect, Aisha (r.ha) was gifted with an intelligence and prudence that enabled her to completely grasp all the intricate details of legal matters regarding women, and for long years following the Prophet’s (pbuh) passing away continued to enlighten female Believers with her profound insight, her knowledge effectively becoming a major pillar of an important aspect of Islamic law. One of the seven fukaha to have excelled amongst other Companions, it was through her knowledge that Islamic Law became prevalent among female Muslims.

If lust was the motivation behind these marriages, as claimed by the spiteful, then the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) would surely have not spent the most vigorous years of his life with a woman fifteen years his senior who moreover had children from a previous marriage. Only people of wisdom and conscience, who have insight into the unique logic of iman, may appreciate the subtle wisdom in play within these marriages and the sublime ends they were directed to.

The Command to Cover Up: Hijab

Prior to Islam, Arabs had no notion of hijab, a circumstance which naturally persisted through to the first years of Islam. But judging from the above mentioned gradualness implemented with regard to the banning of alcohol and gambling, it was obvious that this would not last long. The ayah instating hijab was finally revealed, which effectively elevated the status of women and increased their repute by virtue of protecting their honor and dignity. Women were turned into statues of chastity and became endowed with a dignified identity.

On the other hand, the ruling of hijab concerns not only women, but also men. That is, the relevant command incorporates both males and females in its scope, rendering them both accountable. Thus states Allah, glory unto Him:

قُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا فُرُوجَهُمْ ذَلِكَ أَزْكَى لَهُمْ إِنَّ اللّٰهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ. وَقُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَى جُيُوبِهِنَّ

“Say to the believing men that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts; that is purer for them; surely Allah is Aware of what they do. And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof, and let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms…” (an-Nur, 30-31)

Covering protects the feminine character. Through her hijab, a woman imparts an aura of elegance and grace. Uncovered, then women are ultimately turned into tools of lust that rouse desires of the ego; and that only disparages their character and dignity, undermining the honor of motherhood.

One thing that must be pointed out here is that there is a natural difference between male and female souls, a difference that comes from creation, from the distinct roles determined by the Almighty that therefore have given rise to a difference of nature. The specific manner of covering therefore varies between men and women. Compared to men, women are gifted with a greater charm and attraction. A female who distances herself from hijab and, in a sense, deciphers herself to society, lays ruin to her elegance and graciousness. Her peculiar attribute of motherhood is thereby also dealt a destructive blow of similar proportions. As a measure against all this and by virtue of hijab, her charms have therefore been reserved only to her husband. Between males and females a natural, unchangeable tendency that originates from natural predisposition exists, necessary to perpetuate the succession of generations, which, unless one obeys the command of hijab, could lead to transgressing the bounds of Divine limits and thus bring about a disastrous moral corruption. In fact, one of the gists of the below command of Allah, glory unto Him:

وَلاَ تَقْرَبُواْ الزِّنَ

“And go not nigh to fornication…!” (al-Isra, 32) is ‘do not open the doors of fornication through defying the hijab; do not unknowingly lay the groundwork for it!’ This is an absolute ruling. It is of note that Islam commands not so attractive women to cover up just the same. That is, one cannot say, ‘there is no harm in so and so not covering up, for she is not so attractive anyhow’; for hijab aims to safeguard female dignity in general.

Islam, which establishes its rulings compliant with natural human disposition, also takes into regard what is required by masculinity and femininity. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) has therefore condemned men who try to act like women and women who try to act like men.[3] To protect themselves from this peril, women should establish friendships with righteous women; for whoever befriends another, soon becomes like. This is a law of psychology. Once women become innured to sharing the same environment with men, they lose the feminine feelings and those irreplaceable female characteristics.

Imitating the dress sense of the opposite gender has likewise been prohibited. Men who dress like women and women who dress like men, avows the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), will be distant from Divine Compassion.[4] For it is imperative for both genders to preserve their dignities of gender.

Imitating the dress sense of the opposite gender further causes a deficiency of character. The deviancy of choice in clothing, in time, reflects on the person and takes its toll on his/her behavior, and that means the ruin of natural predisposition.

The Muraysi Battle
(Shaban-Ramadhan, 5 / January-February, 627)

The Battle is also called Banu Mustaliq, after the tribe who, beguiled by Meccan provocations, had begun preparing a large army to attack Medina. Hearing their plan, the Noble Messenger (pbuh) mobilized an army of seven-hundred to meet them. So the two groups met. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) told Omar (r.a) to say to them, ‘Say La ilaha ill- Allah and protect your lives and properties!’ Not only did Banu Mustaliq reject the offer, they also shot the first arrow that got the battle under way.[5]

The Muslims ended up routing Banu Mustaliq, near the Muraysi Water, at the end of a swift onslaught. Ten enemy soldiers were slain on the field, while a single Companion was martyred. A wealth of spoils and captives, including Juwayriya, the daughter of Harith, the chieftain of the tribe, were seized after the Battle.

The captives were being released, one by one, in return for their ransom. Juwayriya had meanwhile fallen to Thabit ibn Qays’ lot. She made a formal request to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) for her ransom. Her father, too, had come in the meantime. Citing her nobility for being the daughter of a chieftain, he was vehemently insisting her daughter could in no way be enslaved and was pleading for her dignity to be protected. Pointing to some camels he had brought with him, he was saying, “These are my daughter’s ransom. Please, let her go!”

Then unexpectedly, the Blessed Prophet asked him where he was hiding ‘the two other camels which he had not brought?’

The stunned Harith, who could have sworn no other soul, except for himself, knew he was hiding two camels in the nearby valley, accepted Islam there and then with the rest of his entourage.[6]

In what followed, the Noble Messenger (pbuh) asked Juwayriyah’s opinion. She intimated that she would prefer to remain by his side, upon which the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) personally reimbursed her ransom and set her free. (Ibn Sad, VIII, 118) The free Juwayriyah accepted Islam, entirely of her own accord. Yet another Divine blessing was to take place soon after: She had the honor of marrying the Seal of the Prophets (pbuh), the realization of a dream she had previously seen. This was the very reason she preferred to stay with the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), even though she could have been freed, if she wanted to, through her father paying her ransom.

Upon receiving the news that Juwayriyah was to be wed with the Prophet of Allah (pbuh), the Companions thought it would not be right for the now relatives of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) to remain captives, so they set them all free. Aisha (r.ha) is later known to have commented in regard, “We have never seen a woman with greater virtue than Juwayriyah from among her tribe. A hundred households were freed from Banu Mustaliq thanks to her.” (Abu Dawud, Itq, 2/3931)

As is clear, the Prophet’s (pbuh) marriage to Juwayriyah carried a strictly political impetus, and in accordance with the Almighty’s pronouncement:

وَمَا يَنطِقُ عَنِ الْهَوَى إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحْيٌ يُوحَى

“Nor does he speak out of desire. It is naught but revelation that is revealed…” (an-Najm, 3-4), it was not from desire, but was rather carried out in line with the Divine Purpose that had he been inspired with. The captives of Banu Mustaliq in fact were set free, free of return, and more importantly, they entered the ranks of Islam in their entirety.

Tayammum

Aisha (r.ha) recounts:

“We were together with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) in the Muraysi Campaign. We had arrived either at the place known as Bayda or Dhat’ul-Jaysh when I realized my bracelet had snapped off and gone missing. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) remained there for a while in search of it; so with him, the rest also remained. There was no water around where we were, and to make things worse, we had also run out. Some apparently complained to my father Abu Bakr, saying, ‘Do you know what Aisha has done? She is holding up the Messenger of Allah and the others, at a place where there is no water, and at a time when we have run out!’ Just as the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) had fallen asleep on my lap Abu Bakr came along.

‘You have detained the Messenger of Allah and the others here! Not only is there no water around, they are also out of their final stock!’ he said, rebuking me. Unable to take out his anger, he even hurt me a little. I tried not to move for the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) had his head on my knees, sleeping.

When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) woke up in the morning there was still no water. It was not long after when Allah the Almighty revealed the tayammum ayah:

وَإِن كُنتُم مَّرْضَى أَوْ عَلَى سَفَرٍ أَوْ جَاء أَحَدٌ مَّنكُم مِّنَ الْغَائِطِ أَوْ لاَمَسْتُمُ النِّسَاء فَلَمْ تَجِدُواْ مَاء فَتَيَمَّمُواْ صَعِيدًا طَيِّبًا فَامْسَحُواْ بِوُجُوهِكُمْ وَأَيْدِيكُم مِّنْهُ مَا يُرِيدُ اللّٰهُ لِيَجْعَلَ عَلَيْكُم مِّنْ حَرَجٍ وَلَـكِن يُرِيدُ لِيُطَهَّرَكُمْ وَلِيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

‘…and if you are sick or on a journey, or one of you come from the privy, or you have touched the women, and you cannot find water, betake yourselves to pure earth and wipe your faces and your hands therewith, Allah does not desire to put on you any difficulty, but He wishes to purify you and that He may complete His favor on you, so that you may be grateful.’ (al-Maida, 6)

Usayd ibn Khudayr (r.a) thereupon remarked, ‘this is only one of your blessings for this ummah, the Abu Bakr family, among numerous others.’

When I had the camel get up on its feet, we found the necklace lying underneath it.” (Bukhari, Tayammum, 1; Ashab’un-Nabi, 5, 30)

Usayd (r.a) also praised Aisha (r.ha), saying, “May Allah award you with good, for whenever you undergo an unpleasant experience, Allah turns it into something good, for both you and the Muslims.” (Bukhari, Tayammum, 1)

The Ifk Incident or the Slander

It was again during the return from the Muraysi Battle, when Aisha (r.ha),[7] the Prophet’s (pbuh) wife of purity and innocence, had slightly moved away from the army to see to a need. By the time she returned, however, the army had long departed. Because the hijab command had been revealed by then, Aisha (r.ha), the mother of Believers, had begun to travel in a hawdaj placed on the saddle of a camel. Thus, when the army did make a move, the Believers had naturally assumed Aisha (r.ha) was still inside the hawdaj.

Instead of pursuing the army at the risk of getting lost, Aisha (r.ha) preferred to wait where she was. While waiting, she dosed off. Then, she was noticed by Safwan ibn Muattal (r.a), who had the duty of gathering those who remained behind from the army. To make his presence felt to Aisha (r.ha) who was still asleep, he recited:

إِنَّا لِلّٰهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ

“To Allah We belong, and to Him is our return…” (al-Baqara, 156) Aisha (r.ha) woke to the sound. Without even an uttering a single word, Safwan (r.a) had the camel crouch and Aisha (r.ha) mounted the camel. They caught up with the rest of the Believers at noon. That was it. But the hypocrites, as if they now had a perfect opportunity to give vent to their malice, had another thing on their minds. They fabricated an ugly slander.

“Neither Aisha has let herself go from the man, nor the man from Aisha”, they said. Abdullah ibn Ubayy even went further in his mockery, saying to the Believers, “There is the wife of your Prophet…she has spent the night with another man!”

The gossip soon had the entire army in its grip. Abu Bakr (r.a) began trembling with inexpressible pain the moment he heard it. “By Allah”, he lamented, “not even during the days of Ignorance did we ever be on the end of such slander!”

Safwan (r.a), a praiseworthy Companion about whom the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) had said, “I know of naught but good regarding him”, had resigned to a deep sorrow.

As for the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), no doubt it was his heart where the most scorching flame of grief had spread. For a while, he took to remaining indoors and to a certain extent remained distant from people. He also had a small investigation carried out on the matter. There was not even a tiny proof that could suggest Aisha (r.ha) was guilty. But the mouths of the hypocrites would just not shut.

Aisha (r.ha) was the last to hear of the rumor. Overcome with unbearable grief as one would expect, she nonetheless gathered her composure to the best she could, and after gaining permission from the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), went to her father’s house to see what it was all about. Once given the details of what she was accused with, she virtually melted, withering like an autumn leaf.

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) wanted to have a word with Aisha (r.ha). So he went to Abu Bakr’s (r.a) house.

“I have been hearing some things. If you are innocent, Allah will clear your name!”

Perceiving a slight air of doubt in the words of the Blessed Prophet, the delicate and sensitive Aisha (r.ha), looked appealingly to her parents; but they preferred to remain quiet. She then, behind teary eyes, said the following heartfelt words to the Prophet of Allah (pbuh):

“By Allah, I am almost certain that you, too, have just about believed the things you have heard. Now, if I was to tell you of my innocence –and indeed Allah knows I am- you might not believe me. Yet, if I was to tell you the opposite, you might. But Allah knows I am innocent…I will therefore wait for His aid against all that has been said…”

With the rumors still rampant, the following conversation took place between Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (r.a) and his wife Umm Ayyub (r.huma).

“Have you heard what people have been saying about Aisha?” Umm Ayyub asked her husband.

“Yes, I have, and they are nothing but fabricated lies”, replied Abu Ayyub. “Would you ever do something like that?”

“No way, I could never commit an evil of the kind”, replied Umm Ayyub, whereupon her husband said, “Then know that Aisha is much more righteous than you to do something like that!” (Ibn Hisham, III, 347; Waqidi, II, 434)

Only Revelation could now settle the matter; and it was not very long before the Almighty put an end to the rumors. It became obvious that the words were nothing but the slander of hypocrites. As well as absolving Aisha (r.ha) of all guilt, the Divine Pronouncements revealed in relation were at the same time flinging these unfounded lies back in the faces of these hypocrites, informing them of an impending punishment, as well as warning the ignorants who went on about the unfounded claim:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ جَاؤُوا بِالْإِفْكِ عُصْبَةٌ مِّنكُمْ لَا تَحْسَبُوهُ شَرًّا لَّكُم بَلْ هُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ لِكُلِّ امْرِئٍ مِّنْهُم مَّا اكْتَسَبَ مِنَ الْإِثْمِ وَالَّذِي تَوَلَّى كِبْرَهُ مِنْهُمْ لَهُ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ

“Surely they who concocted the lie are a party from among you. Do not regard it an evil to you; nay, it is good for you. Every man of them shall have what he has earned of sin; and (as for) him who took upon himself the main part thereof, he shall have a grievous chastisement.

لَوْلَا إِذْ سَمِعْتُمُوهُ ظَنَّ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتُ بِأَنفُسِهِمْ خَيْرًا وَقَالُوا هَذَا إِفْكٌ مُّبِينٌ. لَوْلَا جَاؤُوا عَلَيْهِ بِأَرْبَعَةِ شُهَدَاء فَإِذْ لَمْ يَأْتُوا بِالشُّهَدَاء فَأُوْلَئِكَ عِندَ اللّٰهِ هُمُ الْكَاذِبُونَ. وَلَوْلَا فَضْلُ اللّٰهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَتُهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ لَمَسَّكُمْ فِي مَا أَفَضْتُمْ فِيهِ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ. إِذْ تَلَقَّوْنَهُ بِأَلْسِنَتِكُمْ وَتَقُولُونَ بِأَفْوَاهِكُم مَّا لَيْسَ لَكُم بِهِ عِلْمٌ وَتَحْسَبُونَهُ هَيِّنًا وَهُوَ عِندَ اللّٰهِ عَظِيمٌ

Why did not the believing men and the believing women, when you heard it, think well of their own people, and say: This is an evident falsehood? Why did they not bring four witnesses of it? But as they have not brought witnesses they are liars before Allah. And were it not for Allah’s grace upon you and His mercy in this world and the hereafter, a grievous chastisement would certainly have touched you on account of the discourse which you entered into. When you received it with your tongues and spoke with your mouths what you had no knowledge of, and you deemed it an easy matter while with Allah it was grievous.

وَلَوْلَا إِذْ سَمِعْتُمُوهُ قُلْتُم مَّا يَكُونُ لَنَا أَن
نَّتَكَلَّمَ بِهَذَا سُبْحَانَكَ هَذَا بُهْتَانٌ عَظِيمٌ

And why did you not, when you heard it, say: It does not beseem us that we should talk of it; glory be to Thee! this is a great slander?

يَعِظُكُمُ اللّٰهُ أَن تَعُودُوا لِمِثْلِهِ أَبَدًا إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ.
وَيُبَيِّنُ اللّٰهُ لَكُمُ الْآيَاتِ وَاللّٰهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ

Allah admonishes you that you should not return to the like of it ever again if you are believers. And Allah makes clear to you the communications; and Allah is Knowing, Wise.

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُحِبُّونَ أَن تَشِيعَ الْفَاحِشَةُ فِي الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَهُمْ
عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ وَاللّٰهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ.
وَلَوْلَا فَضْلُ اللّٰهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَتُهُ وَأَنَّ اللّٰه رَؤُوفٌ رَحِيمٌ

Surely (as for) those who love that scandal should circulate respecting those who believe, they shall have a grievous chastisement in this world and the hereafter; and Allah knows, while you do not know. And were it not for Allah’s grace on you and His mercy, and that Allah is Compassionate, Merciful.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَتَّبِعُوا خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ وَمَن يَتَّبِعْ خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَإِنَّهُ يَأْمُرُ بِالْفَحْشَاء وَالْمُنكَرِ وَلَوْلَا
فَضْلُ اللّٰهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَتُهُ مَا زَكَا مِنكُم مِّنْ أَحَدٍ أَبَدًا
وَلَكِنَّ اللّٰهَ يُزَكِّي مَن يَشَاء وَاللّٰهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

O you who believe! do not follow the footsteps of the Shaitan, and whoever follows the footsteps of the Shaitan, then surely he bids the doing of indecency and evil; and were it not for Allah’s grace upon you and His mercy, not one of you would have ever been pure, but Allah purifies whom He pleases; and Allah is Hearing, Knowing.” (an-Nur, 11-21)

Aisha (r.ha) was the first person whom the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) informed of the superb news of the Revelation.

“Glad tidings, Aisha”, he said cheerfully, “Allah has acquitted you!”

After sending her praises and thanks to the Almighty, Aisha (r.ha) responded by saying, “I would never have thought a Revelation would take into regard a helpless servant like me. All I had anticipated was an inspiration in the Prophet’s heart that would have proven my innocence!”

To her father Abu Bakr (r.a), who kissed his daughter on the forehead and advised her to return to her husband, she remarked, rather hurt, “I will not thank anyone but Allah; for He made known my innocence!”

The Noble Messenger (pbuh) thereupon smiled. A distress that lasted an entire month had now ended, thanks to the grace and compassion of Allah, glory unto Him. (Bukhari, Shahadat, 15, 30; Jihad, 64; Maghazi, 11, 34; Muslim, Tawba, 56; Ahmad, VI, 60, 195)

The woman who had become a victim of the atrocious slander was the wife of the Prophet of Allah (pbuh), the mother of Believers, the daughter of the Prophet’s (pbuh) best friend, who was moreover among the most chaste women of the ummah. Just this ordeal suffices to indicate the forbearing power prophets have in the face of tribulations. It, at the same time, provides a comforting consolance to all the victims of slander to come until the Final Hour.

Now, despite the indisputable fact that the Holy Quran absolves the honorable Aisha (r.ha) from all guilt, in no uncertain manner, by describing the accusation as ‘an evident falsehood’ and ‘a great slander’, what else is there to be said to the ignorant who continue to level accusations at her for later taking part in the Jamal Incident?

Those found guilty of fabricating the slander were punished for accusing an honorable woman of adultery. The slanderers were each flogged eighty times with a cane.[8]

According to Ibn Abbas (r.a), there have only been four people in history to have been exonerated by Allah, glory unto Him: Yusuf (a.s) through the word of a witness from among the friends of the woman who had accused him,[9] Musa (a.s) from the rumors of the Jews,[10] the dignified Maryam by making her newborn talk[11] and Aisha (r.ha) by those glorious ayah of the Holy Quran bound to be recited until the Final Hour. Never has there been seen an acquittal of similar eloquence revealed by the Almighty that points to the sublime rank of His Messenger. (Zamakhshari, IV, 121)

The delay of Revelation at a time of such dire need was to emphasize the fact that the Prophet (pbuh), as well as being the Messenger of Allah, was after all a human being who therefore exercised no command over the coming of Revelation. It thereby served to test the sincerity of the Believers.

Abu Bakr (r.a) used to lend frequent aid to a poor man called Mistah. Seeing Mistah, too, was among the slanderers during the incident, he vowed never again to help him or his family. Once he stopped his aid, Mistah and his family became really deprived, upon which the Almighty revealed:

وَلَا يَأْتَلِ أُوْلُوا الْفَضْلِ مِنكُمْ وَالسَّعَةِ أَن يُؤْتُوا أُوْلِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْمَسَاكِينَ وَالْمُهَاجِرِينَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّٰهِ وَلْيَعْفُوا وَلْيَصْفَحُوا أَلَا تُحِبُّونَ أَن يَغْفِرَ اللّٰهُ لَكُمْ وَاللّٰهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

“And let not those of you who possess grace and abundance swear against giving to the near of kin and the poor and those who have fled in Allah’s way, and they should pardon and turn away. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” (an-Nur, 22)

وَلاَ تَجْعَلُواْ اللّٰهَ عُرْضَةً لِّأَيْمَانِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّواْ وَتَتَّقُواْ
وَتُصْلِحُواْ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ وَاللّٰهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

“And make not Allah’s (name) an excuse in your oaths against doing good, or acting rightly, or making peace between persons; for Allah is One Who heareth and knoweth all things.” (al-Baqara, 224)

The above ayat yield concrete evidences attesting to the mercy Allah, glory unto Him, has for his servants. Alternately, they provide a target to enhance the qualities of the virtuous.

“Of course, I would want Allah to forgive me”, commented Abu Bakr (r.a) immediately upon hearing the Revelation. Then paying the compensation (kaffarah) of his oath, he continued giving the charity like before. (Bukhari, Maghazi, 34; Muslim, Tawba, 56; Tabari, Tafsir, II, 546)

Hence, Abu Bakr (r.a) did not withhold his charity even from a person who had slandered her daughter, which goes to show how great a man of virtue the illustrious Companion was.

They are the Enemy…Beware!

That was not the end of the trouble the hypocrites caused on the way back from the Muraysi Battle. An argument had broken out between two men, an Ansar and a Muhajir, in which Abdullah ibn Ubayy, the leader of the hypocrites, saw an opportunity to let out his frustration. Alluding to the Muhajirun, he spitefully said, “See what they are now doing? They begun dominating us in our own town and now they do not even recognize us! But they shall see when we return to Medina…the more honorable will drive out the piteous!”

Zayd ibn Arqam (r.a), the righteous Believer who heard these words by Ibn Ubayy, exclaimed, “You are the most piteous amongst your tribe! Allah the Almighty has made Muhammad (pbuh) honorable!”

Upon finding out that their words of arrogance reached the Prophet’s ear, the hypocrites swiftly changed their tune, vowing never to have said anything of the kind; so much so that they made Zayd ibn Arqam (r.a) look like a liar, causing the brave Companion much distress. Omar (r.a), however, had another thing in mind: he asked the Blessed Prophet’s permission to kill the hypocrites, beginning with Abdullah ibn Ubayy. But showing a piercing foresight and prudence, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) said, “Omar…People who do not have insight as to what is going on will then say, ‘Muhammad is killing his folk!’. No, I will not do anything of the kind! Tell the Believers to get ready to resume the journey!”

The Believers resumed their march to Medina. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) continued the march until evening, and then without break, until morning. Once the sun began to make its heat felt in the morning, he commanded a stopover. Tired and fatigued from the long walk, the Believers did not waste much time in falling to sleep. This Prophet’s (pbuh) decision to act in this manner was only to prevent the Muslims from being preoccupied with the words of Abdullah ibn Ubayy.[12] The delicate strategy followed by the Noble Prophet (pbuh) in this regard shows his intimate knowledge of human nature.

Soon there came successive Revelations laying bare the sinister condition of the hypocrites:

إِذَا جَاءكَ الْمُنَافِقُونَ قَالُوا نَشْهَدُ إِنَّكَ لَرَسُولُ اللّٰهِ وَاللّٰهُ يَعْلَمُ إِنَّكَ لَرَسُولُهُ وَاللّٰهُ يَشْهَدُ إِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ لَكَاذِبُونَ. اتَّخَذُوا أَيْمَانَهُمْ جُنَّةً فَصَدُّوا عَن سَبِيلِ اللّٰهِ إِنَّهُمْ سَاء مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ. ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ آمَنُوا ثُمَّ كَفَرُوا فَطُبِعَ عَلَى قُلُوبِهِمْ فَهُمْ لَا يَفْقَهُونَ

“When the hypocrites come to you, they say: We bear witness that you are most surely Allah’s Messenger; and Allah knows that you are most surely His Messenger, and Allah bears witness that the hypocrites are surely liars. They make their oaths a shelter, and thus turn away from Allah’s way; surely evil is that which they do. That is because they believe, then disbelieve, so a seal is set upon their hearts so that they do not understand.

وَإِذَا رَأَيْتَهُمْ تُعْجِبُكَ أَجْسَامُهُمْ وَإِن يَقُولُوا تَسْمَعْ لِقَوْلِهِمْ
كَأَنَّهُمْ خُشُبٌ مُّسَنَّدَةٌ يَحْسَبُونَ كُلَّ صَيْحَةٍ عَلَيْهِمْ
هُمُ الْعَدُوُّ فَاحْذَرْهُمْ قَاتَلَهُمُ اللّٰهُ أَنَّى يُؤْفَكُونَ

And when you see them, their persons will please you, and If they speak, you will listen to their speech; (they are) as if they were big pieces of wood clad with garments; they think every cry to be against them. They are the enemy, therefore beware of them; may Allah destroy them, whence are they turned back?

وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ تَعَالَوْا يَسْتَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ رَسُولُ اللّٰهِ لَوَّوْا رُؤُوسَهُمْ وَرَأَيْتَهُمْ يَصُدُّونَ وَهُم مُّسْتَكْبِرُونَ. سَوَاء عَلَيْهِمْ أَسْتَغْفَرْتَ لَهُمْ أَمْ لَمْ تَسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ لَن يَغْفِرَ اللّٰهُ لَهُمْ إِنَّ اللّٰهَ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْفَاسِقِينَ

And when it is said to them: Come, the Messenger of Allah will ask forgiveness for you, they turn back their heads and you may see them turning away while they are big with pride. It is alike to them whether you beg forgiveness for them or do not beg forgiveness for them; Allah will never forgive them; surely Allah does not guide the transgressing people.

هُمُ الَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ لَا تُنفِقُوا عَلَى مَنْ عِندَ رَسُولِ اللّٰهِ حَتَّى يَنفَضُّوا وَلِلّٰهِ خَزَائِنُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَلَكِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ لَا يَفْقَهُونَ. يَقُولُونَ لَئِن رَّجَعْنَا إِلَى الْمَدِينَةِ لَيُخْرِجَنَّ الْأَعَزُّ مِنْهَا الْأَذَلَّ وَلِلّٰهِ الْعِزَّةُ وَلِرَسُولِهِ وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَلَكِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

They it is who say: Do not spend upon those who are with the Messenger of Allah until they break up. And Allah’s are the treasures of the heavens and the earth, but the hypocrites do not understand. They say: If we return to Medina, the mighty will surely drive out the meaner therefrom; and to Allah belongs the might and to His Messenger and to the Believers, but the hypocrites do not know.” (al-Munafiqun, 1-8)

After the above Revelation, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) called Zayd ibn Arqam and, after reciting to him the ayah, said, “Allah has affirmed you, Zayd!” (Bukhari, Tafsir, 63/1-2; Muslim, Sifat’ul-Munafiqin, 1)

He then gently held Zayd’s ear and added, “Here is the young man who, with his ear, has fulfilled his duty in the way of Allah.” (Ibn Hisham, III, 336)

Ironically, Abdullah ibn Ubayy, the notorious ringleader of the hypocrites, had a son by the name of Abdullah, a sincere Muslim inseparably attached to the Noble Messenger (pbuh). Much grieved by the mischiefs of his father for some time, the recent developments had really made his blood boil. He felt the need to see the Blessed Prophet (pbuh).

“If you wish, Messenger of Allah”, he said, “I will kill my father!”

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh), as expected, did not allow Abdullah to go ahead with what he had in mind, moreover advising him to, “…instead, behave leniently towards him and get along with him nicely so long as he remains among us.”

Nonetheless, Abdullah ran to his father, strolling among the Muslim ranks, and seizing his camel by the halter, shouted, “I will not let you move an inch until you say ‘honor and might belong to Allah and His Messenger!”

The chief hypocrite was left stunned. He could not swallow what his own son was doing to him in the presence of a crowd of onlookers.

“Will you not let me inside Medina in front of all these people?”

“Not until I teach you today once and for all who the most honorable and the most pitiable are in front of all these people!” responded Abdullah, in a courageous and resolute tone. “And if you do not admit to it”, he added, “I will sever your head!”

The hypocrite had nowhere to run; petrified to think that his son meant every word he said. He had no other choice than to recant all his previous words, even if it be unwillingly.

“I admit”, he murmured reluctantly, “that honor and might belong to Allah and His Messenger!”

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then prayed, “May Allah reward you with good on behalf of His Messenger and the Believers”, before telling him to clear his father’s way. (Ibn Hisham, III, 334-337; Ibn Sad, II, 65; Haythami, IX, 317-318; Zamakhshari, VI, 117)

The Companions loved the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) so much that they could not bear seeing him get hurt in the least. Any disrespect towards the Noble Messenger (pbuh) would infuriate them to the point where they would feel like like killing the person responsible, without the blink of an eye, even if the culprit was their father.

An Insufferable Ordeal and A Severe Trial:
The Battle of Handak (Shawwal-Dhilqadah, 5/ March, 627)

Driven solely by the aim of wiping the Islamic State of Medina off the face of history, the Battle of Handak was perhaps the most horrific war the idolaters ever waged on Muslims.

Some notables of the expelled Banu Nadir had taken refuge in the forts of Khaybar, ablaze with feelings of vengeance. They offered to join forces with Quraysh. Not only that, they even assured the idolaters that the idolatry they practiced was far more superior to Islam, upon which Allah, glory unto Him, declared:

أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ نَصِيبًا مِّنَ الْكِتَابِ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْجِبْتِ وَالطَّاغُوتِ وَيَقُولُونَ لِلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ هَؤُلاء أَهْدَى مِنَ الَّذِينَ
آمَنُواْ سَبِيلا. أُوْلَـئِكَ الَّذِينَ لَعَنَهُمُ اللّٰهُ وَمَن
يَلْعَنِ اللّٰهُ فَلَن تَجِدَ لَهُ نَصِيرًا

“Have you not seen those to whom a portion of the Book has been given? They believe in idols and false deities and say of those who disbelieve: These are better guided in the path than those who believe. Those are they whom Allah has cursed, and whomever Allah curses you shall not find any helper for him.” (an-Nisa, 51-52)[13]

Already anticipating the smallest opportunity to come by, the idolaters were quick to act upon the offer made by the Jews. Many idolater tribes in Arabia had already been encouraged by the Muslim setback at Uhud, much to the delight of Quraysh, who made the most of this widespread enthusiasm and garnered an army of more than ten-thousand.[14]

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh), aware that the allied army were preparing themselves to march on Medina, discussed the urgent matter with the Companions, guaranteeing them victory, so long as they refrained from rebelling against the commands of Allah, glory unto Him, and were prepared to endure the hardships that may come in His way. The Prophet (pbuh) moreover commanded them to obey Allah and His Messenger under all circumstances.

The Noble Prophet (pbuh) was then inspired by the Almighty to dig trenches around Medina. He thereupon asked the Companions whether it would be better to face the enemy outside of Medina or dig trenches around the town and defend her from within.

“In Persia, Messenger of Allah”, said Salman (r.a), “we used to dig trenches around our town when expecting an enemy raid!”

The words of Salman (r.a), an affirmation of the Blessed Prophet’s (pbuh) advice, were overall accepted by the Muslims.[15] They furthermore remembered the Prophet’s (pbuh) desire to remain in the town during Uhud and wage a defensive war. So they wholeheartedly agreed on digging trenches around Medina.

Only from one side was Madina accessible and prone to be attacked. The rest of the sides were covered with houses connected to one another, much like a castle. Gaps were few and far between and were anyhow densely covered with date trees, rendering any effort of trespassing impossible. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) therefore decided that the trenches should be dug only on that open side. Assigning a group of ten Companions to each of the allocated sections along the line between the Shaykhayn Castles to Mazad, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) told them the exact scope he wanted the trenches to be dug.[16]

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) labored personally during the digging, even tying a stone around his abdomen to curb his hunger, owing to the shortage of food that arose at the time.[17]Still, the Prophet of Mercy (pbuh) was expressing only gratitude to his Lord.

Bara ibn Azib (r.a) narrates:

“I saw the Messenger of Allah carry soil with us on the day of Ahzab,[18] uttering at the same time a poem of Abdullah ibn Rawaha:

‘Allah, had it not been for Your guidance, we could neither have given charity nor have offered salat. Allah, engulf us in serenity when we encounter the enemy; let not our feet slip. They are the ones assailing us…when they wish to push us into tribulation we will press forth and not flee!’

And when saying abayna (press forth, not flee), he was raising his voice.” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 29)

The Companions were in such strife that they could not even feed themselves. Anas (r.a) provides a vivid description of their ordeal:

“A handful of barley would be brought, which, after being cooked with some outdated butter, would be put in front of the Companions to eat. Despite of the enormity of their hunger, it was impossible for each person not to taste the hardness and foul taste of the butter. The food would carry a heavy and unpleasant odor.” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 29)

All Muslims, young and old, were taking part in digging the trenches. Zayd ibn Thabit (r.a), a fifteen year old kid at the time, had at one stage fallen asleep on the duty. The Companions around him meanwhile had left him lying asleep on the fringe of the trenches. As a joke, Umarah ibn Hazm (r.a) took his weapons and hid them. Waking up to see that his weapons had gone missing, Zayd panicked. Hearing this, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) called Zayd next to him and said:

“You fell asleep, sleeper, and your weapons vanished!” After that the Prophet (pbuh) asked, “Does anybody know the whereabouts of this kid’s weapons?”

“I know, Messenger of Allah”, said Umarah (r.a), “they are with me!”

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then asked Umarah to return the weapons to Zayd and prohibited from frightening Muslims, even as a joke, and hiding any of their belongings. (Waqidi, II, 448)

The Glad Tidings Given at Handak

The Companions complained to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) about a large rock they came upon while digging, which they could not break clear. So the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) grabbed a pointy sledgehammer and, saying the name of Allah, glory unto Him, struck the rock three times, crushing it like fine sand.[19] With each strike, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) relieved the Believers with glad tidings. Given to him after the first strike, he said, were the keys of Damascus (Byzantine), the keys of Persia after the second strike, and the keys of Yemen after the third. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) told the Companions he could see the palaces of these places from where he was. Informing the Believers that all of these places were to be honored with the guidance of Islam and the word of Allah in the near future, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) injected in them the hope of all the victories to come.[20] He assured them that very soon the Truth would triumph over the false, and victories previously inconceivable were now looming realities.

When the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) began describing the white palace of the Khosrau in the Sassanid stronghold of Madain, Salman (r.a), who knew it from experience, concurred, stating, “By Allah, who has sent you with the true religion and book, that palace is exactly how you have described it! I bear witness once more that you are the Messenger of Allah!”

“Salman”, then responded the Noble Messenger, “Allah will grant you these victories after me. Damascus will surely fall! Heraclius will flee to the furthermost distant corner of his realm! You will reign over the entire region of Damascus! Nobody will be able to stand in your way! Yemen will surely fall! The Khosrau will be killed after that!”

Salman (r.a) much later testified to having seen “…each of those take place.” (Waqidi, II, 450)

As each of these regions fell one by one, Abu Hurayra (r.a) would likewise say, “These are only the beginning for you! By Allah, in whose Hand of Might the life of Abu Hurayrah resides, the Almighty has given Muhammad (pbuh) the keys of the entire places you have taken and will take until the Final Hour!” (Ibn Hisham, III, 235)

The glad tidings the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) heralded the Believers with provided an enormous spiritual comfort to help them endure the hardships still to come. That victory would ultimately belong to the Believers and dismay to their enemies only served to enhance the patience and endurance of the iman filled hearts of Muslims. Indeed, a colossal amount of patience and endurance would be needed; a fierce battle against fatigue and hunger on the one hand, and blistering cold on the other, Handak would indeed prove to be an almost insufferable ordeal. But above all, a prayer the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) uttered in the trenches was an emotional reminder that all pains and sufferings undergone in the world, no matter how intense, would eventually mean nothing compared to the eternal bliss awaiting:

“O my Lord! Life is but that of the Hereafter! So help the Ansar and the Muhajir!” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 29)

Jabir’s Abundant Meal

Recounting below is Jabir (r.a):

“While digging trenches in the days preceding the Battle of Handak, we were thwarted by a rather hard rock. A few Companions went to the Messenger of Allah and told him they had come upon a hard rock they were unable to break.

‘I will go down in to the trenches myself’ the Messenger of Allah told them. He then got up. He had a stone tied to his belly from hunger. It had been three days since we had eaten anything. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) grabbed hold of the pickaxe and struck a blow at the rock, which then shattered, turning into something like a sand dune.

‘Allow me to go home, Messenger of Allah’, I asked afterwards. Given permission, I went home and told my wife of seeing ‘…the Messenger of Allah in an exhausted condition. Do we have something to eat?’

‘Some barley and a kid’, she said.

So I slaughtered the kid and seeved the barley. We placed the meat in a pot. Just as the bread was nearly baked and the pot was beginning to boil on the rocks on which it was placed, I rushed to the Messenger of Allah and said:

‘I have some food, Messenger of Allah. Please, honor us with a couple of other persons…’

‘How much food is there?’ he asked. I told him what we had. He then said, ‘Good and plenty…Tell your wife not to take the pot away from the fire and keep the bread in the furnace until I arrive!’

Then turning to his Companions he called out, raising his voice, ‘People of the trenches; come…Jabir has prepared a feast for us!’ Everyone present made a move.

Anxious, I ran home to my wife and said, ‘Look what has happened now…The Messenger of Allah is coming with the entire Ansar, Muhajirun and others alike!’

‘Did the Messenger of Allah ask how much food there was?’ she asked.

‘Yes’ responded I.

‘Then not to worry’, she said calmly, ‘for he knows more than you!’

They arrived a short while after. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) told them to enter without cramming each other. The Companions entered in tens. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) then began splitting a loaf of bread, putting some meat on it and giving it to each of the awaiting Companions; and each time he would close the lid of both the pot and the furnace once he was done. Until each and every Companion, around a thousand all up, ate to their hearts content, the Prophet (pbuh) repeated the same procedure. There was even some food left over in the end. Then turning to my wife, he said, ‘Eat this and offer some to your neighbors, too; for hunger has really devastated everyone!’ (Bukhari, Maghazi, 29; Muslim, Ashribah, 141; Waqidi, II, 452)

The evident miracle of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) saw a thousand people, including the surrounding neighbors, eat from what was seemingly enough for only a few people.

Because the Noble Messenger (pbuh) used to spend all he had in the way of Allah, glory unto Him, he would never have much at hand. When he did feel a genuine need, he would keep it secret from his Companions, not wanting to be a burden on anyone. But as the Companions were attentive to the Blessed Prophet’s (pbuh) condition, they would do all they could to help him whenever they sensed him in need. At times, the Prophet’s voice would give away the enormous degree of his hunger, which is when the Companions would immediately take him to their homes and offer him what food they had.[21] Given they saw the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) with a pale complexion, they would leave no stone unturned to find something for him to eat, even doing some chores, like watering camels for instance, just to earn a few dates to take to him.

The Prophet of Allah (pbuh) one day came across an Ansari Companion, who asked, “May my parents die for your sake, Messenger of Allah…please tell me the reason why your face is so pale, for it worries me!’

After staring at the Companion for a few moments, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then simply said, “Hunger!”

The Companion wasted no time in running home, where he rummaged for something to eat, but to no avail. As swiftly, he then went to the Banu Qurayza quarters, and made an agreement with a man, according to which he was to be paid one date for each bucket of water he pulled out from a well. Once he saved up a handful of dates, he took them to the Noble Messenger (pbuh).

“Please, Messenger of Allah; have these”, he said.

The Prophet of Mercy (pbuh) asked him where had gotten the dates from. He explained the story. Thereupon the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) commented, “I believe you love Allah and His Messenger!”

“Yes,” replied the Companion, “by Allah who has sent you upon Truth, you are dearer to me than my self, my children, my wife and my wealth!”

“If that is the case”, replied the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), “keep patient against poverty, prepare a shield for yourself against troubles! By Allah, who has sent me upon Truth, these two (poverty and troubles) reach a person who loves me quicker than water flowing down a mountain!” (Haythami, X, 313; Dhahabi, Siyar, III, 54; Ibn Hajar, al-Isabah, III, 298)

Hardships Endured at Handak

It was winter. The idolaters had now besieged Medina from all sides. But they were stunned and frustrated from the trenches they had unexpectedly encountered. They could not pass through.

Once the idolaters encamped on the fringes of the town, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) made a swift move to the trenches, accompanied by three-thousand Companions. Abdullah ibn Umm Maqtum (r.a) was left deputy in Medina. Taking Mount Sal behind him, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) set up his camp on the outskirts of the mountain, ordering the women and children be left behind in the inner part of the town to be placed in forts.[22] Children who had not yet turned fifteen were sent back to the forts next to their families, while the likes of Ibn Omar, Zayd ibn Thabit and Bara ibn Azib, fifteen at the time, were allowed to remain.[23]

The Jews of Banu Kurayza, meanwhile, officially revolted in the town, breaching for the second time their pact with the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). This was their second betrayal, leaving the Muslims in a terrible crossfire. The Jews sent a message to Abu Sufyan, insisting him to “…hold on, for we will strike the Muslims from behind and annihilate them!”[24]

This Prophet of Allah (pbuh) was deeply insulted by the Jewish betrayal. Still, he had unshakable trust in the Almighty, murmuring, even at such dire times:

Hasbunallah wa ni’mal-wakil: Allah is sufficient for us and the Most Excellent Protector!” (Waqidi, II, 457; Ibn Sad, II, 67)

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then asked for a volunteer to go to Banu Qurayza and see whether there was any truth to what he had heard.

“I will go”, said Zubayr ibn Awwam (r.a) and went.

Once the situation got really precarious, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh), again, sent Zubayr ibn Awwam, again and again, to see if the Jews had gotten their acts together. He later expressed his satisfaction of the precious services of Zubayr (r.a) with the compliment, “Every prophet has a messenger…and my messenger is Zubayr!” (Ahmad, III, 314)

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then sent an envoy to the Banu Qurayza, advising them to “Go and see whether what we have heard is true. If true, then inform me in an indirect way. Do not say it directly and thereby cast fear into people’s hearts and send them into despair! But if they are true to our pact you can then openly announce it!”

The envoy ended up finding Banu Qurayza in a far more tumultuous state of mutiny than they had heard. (Ibn Hisham, III, 237)

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) deployed two-hundred Companions under the command of Salamah ibn Aslam (r.a) and a further three-hundred under Zayd (r.a) in Medina, as a preventative measure against a possible attack on the town by the Jews. They were to stand guard inside the town and patrol the streets calling out Allah’u Akbar.[25]

The Believers used to breathe a sigh of relief when finding out, at the dawn of each night, that another day had broken without a Banu Qurayza raid.

“Our fear on behalf of our women and children in Medina over a raid by Banu Qurayza”, later professed Abu Bakr (r.a), “was greater than our fear of Quraysh and the Ghatafan. Time and again I used to climb to the top of Mount Sal and gaze at the houses in Medina; and seeing them in peace and quiet, I used to thank and praise Allah.” (Waqidi, II, 460)

Umm Salamah (r.ha) utters similar words:

“I was present with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) at many heated and fearsome battles like Muraysi, Khaybar, the Conquest of Mecca and Hunayn. None of those were more troublesome and alarming for the Messenger of Allah than Handak. We were never at ease about Banu Qurayza raiding our women and children.” (Waqidi, II, 467)

Meanwhile, the idolaters on the other side of the trenches were making frequent attempts to cross over, which saw the clashes ensue until late at night, with the Blessed Prophet’s (pbuh) tent even becoming the target of a fair share of arrows.

The idolaters, one day, waged an all-out attack on where the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) had encamped; and because of these ensuing assaults, the Prophet (pbuh) and the Companions could not find a moments opportunity to offer their zuhr and asr salats. Around nightfall, when the idolaters at long last retreated, the Noble Messenger (pbuh) asked Bilal (r.a) to call out the adhan. With a qamat recited for every salat, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then lead the Companions in each of those salats they could not offer on time.[26] Deeply upset by this, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) sent the following ill-wishes to the idolaters who held him back from offering salat, a deed he had called the ‘light of my eye’:

“Just as they kept us preoccupied and held us back from offering salat until sunset, may Allah fill their houses, bellies and graves with fire!” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 29; Ibn Sad, II, 68-69; Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah, IV, 112)

Feats of Courage at Handak

The entire Believers present, young and old, were doing all they could during the Battle, keeping guard by the narrowest parts of the trenches.[27]

Recounting below is the honorable Umm Salamah (r.ha):

“I was with the Messenger of Allah at Handak. I never left his side there or in any of the other places where he was. He was personally standing by the trenches. There, we were caught amid a blistering cold. I was staring at him; he had begun offering salat. We then walked off. After gazing towards the trenches for a while, he then said, ‘It looks like those are the idolaters’ cavalrymen making their way around the trenches. Who will stop them?’ He then called out, ‘Abbad ibn Bishr!’

‘Yes, Messenger of Allah’, Abbad (r.a) replied.

‘Is there anybody with you?’ asked the Messenger of Allah.

‘Yes…a few of your Companions and I happen to be waiting around your tent.’

‘Go and walk along the trenches with your friends! The cavalrymen who are visible from a distance seem to be of the enemy. They are coming for you; they wish to catch you off guard, make a sudden raid and kill as many of you as they can!’

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then prayed, “O my Lord! Take their evil away from us! Help us against them and enable us to defeat them! There is no one but You who can make us victorious!”

Abbad ibn Bishr (r.a) took off with his friends to survey along the trenches, the narrowest part of which, at that instant, Abu Sufyan happened to be making a dangerous effort to cross with a cavalry unit. The small group of Companions got there right in the nick of time to shoot enough arrows and throw enough stones to force the idolaters to retreat. (Waqidi, II, 464)

Safiyya (r.ha), the Blessed Prophet’s (pbuh) aunt, was at Hassan ibn Thabit’s large house, known as Fari, with the other women and children throughout. At one stage, a group of ten Jews came and showering the house with arrows, wanted to make a forced entry. One among them, especially, was clandestinely roaming around the house in hope of finding a passage through. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was meanwhile in a heated clash with the idolaters at the trenches.

Unaided and thus with no other option left than to take the matter in her own hands, Safiyya (r.ha) tightly tied a cloth around her head and with a pole in her hand, made her way down the stairs of the house. Quietly opening the entrance door, she furtively made her way behind the wandering Jew and swiftly yet effectively struck the pole across his head, killing him at the instant. Moments later, seeing their friend sprawled on the ground dead in the dark, the other Jews became alarmed. “We were told that the women here are protected by guards, weren’t we?” they said as they unceremoniously went their own ways. (Haythami, VI, 133-134; Waqidi, II, 462)

Aisha (r.ha) recounts her observations of the enthusiasm of the Companions for jihad:

“I was observing the fighters during the Battle of Handak. I heard a voice coming from behind. I turned around and saw Saad ibn Muadh and his nephew Harithah ibn Aws. I sat down on the spot. He was wearing an armor around his chest and his arms were sticking out from the sides. He was reciting a poem that encouraged jihad and spoke of how beautiful death was once it arrived. His mother was yelling out to him, ‘Run, my dear…catch up with the Messenger of Allah, for you are running late!’

‘I would have liked to have seen Saad’s armor cover his entire body to his fingertips’, I said to Saad’s mother. I was worried he might be struck with arrows in his exposed arms.

‘Allah will realize His will, was all she replied. Saad was wounded that day.” (Ahmad, VI, 141; Ibn Hisham, III, 244)

Realizing his wound was fatal, Saad (r.a) prayed:

“O my Lord! If You have willed for us another battle with the idolaters of Quraysh then let me survive to see that day! For there is no other tribe I want to fight more than Quraysh, who have tormented and mistreated Your Messenger, denied him and expelled him out of his hometown! But if this is the end of our battles with them then let my wound serve as a cause for my martyrdom! Accept me in Your presence! And do not take my life until I see and rejoice the punishment of Banu Qurayza!” (Waqidi, II, 525; Ibn Sad, III, 423)

The minute Saad (r.a) completed his prayer, his bleeding stopped.[28]

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) had a tent erected for Saad (r.a) inside the Masjid, in order to able to frequently visit him and attend to him more closely.[29]

Only a handful of idolaters were able to cross the wide trenches. One of them was Amr ibn Abd, a warrior renowned throughout entire Arabia. His arrogant challenge was met with by Ali (r.a) who made light work of him. The others suffered a similar doom.

The Battle was ensuing; it seemed like it would never end. The Believers were caught in such a delicate and difficult situation that they were now desperately anticipating Divine aid. Their states are depicted in the Quran as follows:

إِذْ جَاؤُوكُم مِّن فَوْقِكُمْ وَمِنْ أَسْفَلَ مِنكُمْ وَإِذْ زَاغَتْ الْأَبْصَارُ وَبَلَغَتِ الْقُلُوبُ الْحَنَاجِرَ وَتَظُنُّونَ بِاللّٰهِ الظُّنُونَا. هُنَالِكَ ابْتُلِيَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَزُلْزِلُوا زِلْزَالًا شَدِيدًا

“When they came upon you from above you and from below you, and when the eyes turned dull, and the hearts rose up to the throats, and you began to think diverse thoughts of Allah. There the believers were tried and they were shaken with severe shaking.”

وَإِذْ يَقُولُ الْمُنَافِقُونَ وَالَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِم مَّرَضٌ مَّا وَعَدَنَا اللّٰهُ وَرَسُولُهُ إِلَّا غُرُورًا وَإِذْ قَالَت طَّائِفَةٌ مِّنْهُمْ يَا أَهْلَ يَثْرِبَ لَا مُقَامَ لَكُمْ فَارْجِعُوا وَيَسْتَأْذِنُ فَرِيقٌ مِّنْهُمُ النَّبِيَّ يَقُولُونَ إِنَّ بُيُوتَنَا عَوْرَةٌ وَمَا هِيَ بِعَوْرَةٍ إِن يُرِيدُونَ إِلَّا فِرَارًا. وَلَوْ دُخِلَتْ عَلَيْهِم مِّنْ أَقْطَارِهَا ثُمَّ سُئِلُوا الْفِتْنَةَ لَآتَوْهَا وَمَا تَلَبَّثُوا بِهَا إِلَّا يَسِيرًا. وَلَقَدْ كَانُوا عَاهَدُوا اللَّهَ مِن قَبْلُ لَا يُوَلُّونَ الْأَدْبَارَ وَكَانَ عَهْدُ اللَّهِ مَسْؤُولًا. قُل لَّن يَنفَعَكُمُ الْفِرَارُ إِن فَرَرْتُم مِّنَ الْمَوْتِ أَوِ الْقَتْلِ وَإِذًا لَّا تُمَتَّعُونَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا

“And when the hypocrites and those in whose hearts was a disease began to say: Allah and His Messenger did not promise us (victory) but only to deceive. And when a party of them said: People of Yathrib! There is no place to stand for you (here), therefore go back; and a party of them asked permission of the prophet, saying. Surely our houses are exposed; and they were not exposed; they only desired to fly away. And if an entry were made upon them from the outlying parts of it, then they were asked to wage war, they would certainly have done it, and they would not have stayed in it but a little while. And certainly they had made a covenant with Allah before, that) they would not turn (their) backs; and Allah’s covenant shall be inquired of. Say: Flight shall not do you any good if you fly from death or slaughter, and in that case you will not be allowed to enjoy yourselves but a little.” (al-Ahzab, 10-16)

وَلَمَّا رَأَى الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الْأَحْزَابَ قَالُوا هَذَا مَا وَعَدَنَا اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَصَدَقَ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَمَا زَادَهُمْ إِلَّا إِيمَانًا وَتَسْلِيمًا

“And when the believers saw the allies, they said: This is what Allah and His Messenger promised us, and Allah and His Messenger spoke the truth; and it only increased them in faith and submission.” (al-Ahzab, 22)

War is Trickery

The Believers were holding strong with all their power. Nuaym (r.a), a notable of the Ghatafan tribe, who, on the back of the Blessed Prophet’s (pbuh) advice ‘War is trickery’ (Bukhari, Jihad, 157; Muslim, Jihad, 17), had kept his acceptance of Islam hidden from the idolaters and managed to put the idolaters and Banu Qurayza on bad terms with one another. An air of hesitation took hold of the coalition of idolaters over having laid siege on Medina. Each tribe suddenly grew suspicious of each other. The Jews ultimately yielded to Nuaym’s persuasive tactics and withdrew to their forts. Now, only the idolaters were left on the field, waiting on the other side of the trenches. Still, the Believers were in a dire situation. Right at the time when the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and the Companions were undergoing a severe trial brought upon by the siege of the idolaters, when hearts had risen up to throats, so to speak, the below ayah was revealed:

أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُواْ الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِكُم مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ خَلَوْاْ مِن قَبْلِكُم مَّسَّتْهُمُ الْبَأْسَاء وَالضَّرَّاء وَزُلْزِلُواْ حَتَّى يَقُولَ الرَّسُولُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ مَعَهُ مَتَى نَصْرُ اللّٰهِ أَلا إِنَّ نَصْرَ اللّٰهِ قَرِيبٌ

“Or do you think that you would enter Paradise while yet the state of those who have passed away before you has not come upon you; distress and affliction befell them and they were shaken violently, so that the Messenger and those who believed with him said: When will the help of Allah come? Now surely the help of Allah is nigh!” (al-Baqara, 214)[30]

Lifting his hands aloft, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then prayed:

“O Allah who has sent the Glorious Quran! Allah who is haste to bring the enemy into account! Disperse these tribes of Arabs who have gathered before Medina! O my Lord! Break their unity and shake their resolve so that they cannot hold their ground!” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 29)

The Noble Messenger (pbuh) had only finished his prayer when the Divine aid arrived to put a smile of joy on his delightful face. A blistering, harsh storm began gusting through the enemy ranks; a tempestuous gale that left noting ungrounded in its wake, stifling the idolaters with the dust of the Madinan valley, violently blowing their tents away, turning their food pots over and snuffing out their fires. Beleaguered, their camels and horses began fiercely running into each other.[31]

The idolaters, overwhelmed by the force of the gale sent by the Divine, were left struggling in a state of devastation. Even Abu Sufyan, no doubt the most eager among the idolaters, had no other choice than to say to his soldiers:

“I am returning and by the looks of it, so should you!” He mounted his camel and returned to Mecca, without looking back.[32]

Allah, glory unto Him, had sent his aid to the Believers. Thus is declared in the Quran:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اذْكُرُوا نِعْمَةَ اللّٰهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ جَاءتْكُمْ جُنُودٌ فَأَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ رِيحًا وَجُنُودًا لَّمْ تَرَوْهَا وَكَانَ اللّٰهُ
بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرًا

“O you who believe! Call to mind the favor of Allah to you when there came down upon you hosts, so We sent against them a strong wind and hosts, that you saw not, and Allah is Seeing what you do.” (al-Ahzab, 9)

وَرَدَّ اللّٰهُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِغَيْظِهِمْ لَمْ يَنَالُوا خَيْرًا وَكَفَى
اللّٰهُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ الْقِتَالَ وَكَانَ اللّٰهُ قَوِيًّا عَزِيزًا

“And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.” (al-Ahzab, 25)

Taking flight in a dismal and confounded state, the idolaters left behind them many horses, camels, military equipment, foodstuff and belongings, which proved a blessing in disguise for the Believers battling a fierce famine in Medina at the time. Following this enormous victory, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) said to his Companions:

“Now it is your turn! Quraysh will not be able assail you from now on!” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 29)

From that day on, the Believers would no longer be on the defensive, for both the pride and power of the idolaters had suffered an irreparable damage. The hearts of Muslims were now echoing with the promising words of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) :

“It will be us marching on them from now on!”

The March on Banu Qurayza (23 Dhilqadah, 5 / 15 April, 627)

The Battle of Handak had been won. Forced to swallow their pride, the idolaters had made a low key return to Mecca. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh), too, had made his way back home, and as he always did following a battle, removed his armor and took a bath. It was right afterwards that Jibril (a.s) appeared.

“Have you dropped your weapons?” he asked the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). “We haven’t!”

“That means there is another battle. Where to?” asked the Prophet (pbuh).

Jibril (a.s) pointed towards the quarters of Banu Qurayza, who betrayed the Believers at Handak.

“There to!” he replied. (Bukhari, Maghazi, 30)

Like their fellow Jewish tribes of Medina before them, Banu Qurayza failed to stay loyal to their sworn pact and betrayed the Muslims at the most delicate of times. Indeed, their pact with the Believers required them to provide assistance in defending Medina against the assailing idolaters. Not only did they shrink back in putting up a fight alongside Muslims, they did not leave a stone unturned to devise treacherous plots against the Believers at every given opportunity, no matter how faint. Little did they know that they were really spelling their own ends.

Upon receiving the Divine Command, the Noble Prophet (pbuh) immediately gathered the Muslims and signaled they were Banu Qurayza bound.

“Let not anyone, who hears and obeys offer his asr salat until arriving at the Banu Qurayza quarters!” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 30)

The Muslims thus departed before allowing the Jews to come to grips with the situation awaiting them.

First, a small force under the command of Ali (r.a), which had moved in advance, met the Jews, who, instead of feeling remorse for the treason they had committed, became all the more aggravated and begun talking ill of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh).[33] But once they saw the Muslim army of three thousand men strong making its presence before the forts of Banu Qurayza under the leadership of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), they became tongue-tied. The majesty of the Blessed Prophet’s (pbuh) presence forced them to renounce all their previous words.

“Enemies of Allah…!” shouted Usayd ibn Khudayr (r.a). “We will not lift our siege of your forts until you die of hunger. You are like foxes trapped in their den!”

Terrified, the Jews shouted beseechingly from being their forts, “We are your allies, Ibn Khudayr…The allies of Aws, not Khazraj!”

“No more do we have a pact or a treaty with you”, said Ibn Khudayr (r.a) in a definite tone. (Waqidi, II, 499)

Nonetheless, before signaling a start to the battle, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) got within an arms distance of the walls of their forts and invited them to Islam. They shied away from accepting.[34]

With the siege ensuing, sending the Jews into much distress, one of their leaders, Kaab ibn Asad proposed to “…pledge allegiance to that man and accept his prophethood”. “There is no doubt”, Kaab continued, “that he is the awaited prophet and the man whose attributes we find written in our scriptures. If we declare we believe him, we will be able to receive amnesty!”

“We shall neither depart from the Torah nor take another Scripture in its place”, protested the Jews.

His first proposal falling on deaf ears, Kaab then offered to kill their own women and children and enter a life and death struggle with the Muslims or better still, attack them at a least expected time, on Saturday evening, hoping to catch them off guard. Undecided, they accepted none of the proposals[35], for Allah, glory unto Him, had let fear creep into their hearts.

Three young men by the names of Salabah, Usayd and Asad recognized the Prophet (pbuh) as carrying the attributes long explained by Jewish scholars as characteristic of the Prophet of the Final Hour. Descending from their forts in the dark of night, they joined the Blessed Prophet (pbuh).[36]

The Jews eventually had to surrender, unconditionally. As the Jews of Banu Qurayza were traditionally in the protection of Aws, compliant with the formal request by the Jews, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) sent for Saad (r.a) as arbiter. Despite carrying a heavy wound from Handak, Saad (r.a) eagerly heeded the Prophet’s (pbuh) call. He had after all prayed to the Almighty, upon being wounded, “…not to breathe his last until scores were settled with Banu Qurayza!”

Again, compliant with Jewish requests, Saad (r.a) arrived at a decision in line with the law of Musa (a.s).[37] The Blessed Prophet (pbuh), too, confirmed his ruling, commenting, “By Allah, Sad, you have ruled in correspondence with that of Allah above the seven heavens!” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 30; Ibn Sad, III, 426)

Saad ’s heartfelt prayer was accepted and after he passed judgment regarding the Jews who had stabbed the Believers in the back during the battle, his wound reopened. It was not long afterward that the celebrated Companion, a true devotee of the Noble Messenger (pbuh), breathed his last as a martyr and attained eternal mercy.[38]

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) commemorated him by saying, “The Throne of Rahman shook over the death of Saad ibn Muadh.” (Bukhari, Manaqib’ul-Ansar 12; Muslim, Fadail’us-Sahabah, 125)

Even though Saad was a brawny man, those carrying his funeral only felt a meager weight on their shoulders. “Others are carrying him”, explained the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). “By Allah, in whose Hand of Might my life resides, angels have rejoiced over Saad’s soul!” (Ibn Hisham, III, 271; Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 50/3848)

After leading his funeral salat and burying Saad in his grave, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) continued reciting tasbihat for a while. The Companions followed the Prophet (pbuh) and joined in. Then the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) pronounced a takbir.

“Why, Messenger of Allah, did you recite some tasbih and then a takbir?” the Companions felt compelled to ask.

“Until Allah gave it breadth, the grave squeezed even this righteous servant”, replied the Noble Prophet (pbuh). (Ahmad, III, 360)

“Had there been a person immune to the trial of the grave”, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then continued, “it would surely have been Saad. But the grave first squeezed him until Allah gave it breadth.” (Tabarani, Mujam’ul-Kaabir, X, 334)

According to the report of Anas (r.a), the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was once presented with an ornamented kaftan as a gift, the beauty and exquisitely soft texture of which many were taken in by. “By He who has Muhammad’s life in His Hand of Might”, the Prophet of Mercy (pbuh) said, “Saad’s handkerchiefs in Paradise are more beautiful and worthier than this”. (Bukhari, Bad’ul-Khalq, 8; Muslim, Fadail, 126)

The Holy Quran depicts the triumph attained following the Battle of Handak through the help of Allah, glory unto Him, in the following:

وَأَنزَلَ الَّذِينَ ظَاهَرُوهُم مِّنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ مِن صَيَاصِيهِمْ وَقَذَفَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمُ الرُّعْبَ فَرِيقًا تَقْتُلُونَ وَتَأْسِرُونَ فَرِيقًا. وَأَوْرَثَكُمْ أَرْضَهُمْ وَدِيَارَهُمْ وَأَمْوَالَهُمْ وَأَرْضًا لَّمْ تَطَؤُوهَا وَكَانَ
اللّٰهُ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرًا

“And He drove down those of the followers of the Book who backed them from their fortresses and He cast awe into their hearts; some you killed and you took captive another part. And He made you heirs to their land and their dwellings and their property, and (to) a land which you have not yet trodden, and Allah has power over all things.” (al-Ahzab, 26-27)

[1].      An uqiyya corresponds roughly to 128 grams.

[2].      See, Ahmad, V, 443-444; Ibn Asir, Usd’ul-Ghabah, II, 419; Ibn Abdilber, II, 634-638.

[3].      See, Bukhari, Libas, 61.

[4].      See, Abu Dawud, Libâs, 28/4098.

[5].      See, Waqidi, I, 407.

[6].      See, Ibn Hisham, III, 340.

[7].      Prior to each battle, the Blessed Prophet r used to draw lots between his wives take one of them along. This time it was Aisha

[8].      Ahmad, VI, 35.

[9].      See, Yusuf, 26-29.

[10].     See, al-Ahzab, 69.

[11].     See, Maryam, 29-33.

[12].     See, Ibn Hisham, III, 335-336.

[13].     See, Wahidi, p. 160.

[14].     See, Waqidi, II, 444; Ibn Saad, II, 66.

[15].     Ibn Hisham, III, 231; Waqidi, II, 445.

[16].     Tabari, Târîh, II, 568; Diyarbakri, I, 482.

[17].     Bukhari, Maghazi, 29.

[18].     Being a joint effort by numerous tribes who combined forces to assail the Believers, the Battle of Handak has also been called Ahzab, meaning clans or coalition.

[19].     Bukhari, Maghazi, 29.

[20].     See, Ahmad, IV, 303; Ibn Saad, IV, 83, 84.

[21].     See, Bukhari, Atimah, 6; Muslim, Ashribah, 142.

[22].     Ibn Hisham, III, 235.

[23].     Waqidi, II, 453.

[24].     Abdurrazzaq, V, 368.

[25].     Ibn Saad, II, 67.

[26].     The incident is an evidence for qada salat, that is being able to perform later the salats left unperformed on time.

[27].     Waqidi, II, 463-464.

[28].     Tirmidhi, Siyar, 29/1582; Ahmad, III, 350.

[29].     Bukhari, Maghazi, 30.

[30].     See, Tabari, Tafsir, II, 464.

[31].     See, Ibn Saad, II, 71.

[32].     See, Ibn Hisham, III, 251.

[33].     See, Waqidi, II, 499.

[34].     See, Abdurrazzaq, V, 216, 370.

[35].     Ibn Hisham, III, 254.

[36].     Ibn Hisham, III, 256.

[37].     According to the Old Testament, the punishment for such a crime is the execution of all adult males, the appropriation of their possessions as spoils and taking all the women and children captive. (See, the Old Testament, Deuteronomy, 20/10-15)

[38].     See, Ibn Hisham, III, 271.