In this Section and the next, events and the account of Battle of the Confederate (also called Battle of the Trench) are discussed. So it seems appropriate to explain the battle to facilitate an understanding of the text.
Battle Of The Confederates
The polytheists of Makkah repeatedly attacked the believers following their migration to Madinah. Battles were fought in the very next year of migration at Badr, in the third year at Uhad and then in the following year was the Battle of the Confederates. The fighting had been tough but by the Grace of Allah-SWT , due to acceptance of the sacrifices offered by the Companions-RAU under the leadership of the Holy Prophet-SW, the world benefited from the Barakah of Islam. The evils of oppression, infidelity; polytheism and ignorance were subdued and the believers Qulub became enlightened with Allah-SWT's Name. According to some reports this Battle took place in the fifth year of Hijrah. However, this was the third successive invasion, and the most massive of all wherein heavily armed forces were brought in to wipe out the Muslims once and for all.
The moving spirit behind this event was the conspiring group of Jews. They had visited Makkah to instigate the polytheists to invade Madinah. They put aside their earlier reservations and lied that they considered the polytheists and polytheism to be far better than Islam and Muslims, whereas being the People of the Book they had always remained weary of the polytheists. So they assembled in a house and signed a pact. This very group then called on Banu Ghatfan who lived near Khyber and promised them a share from the yield of dates of Khyber for joining the alliance. So more or less all the non believing Arab tribes confederated to attack Madinah.
Strength Of The Infidel Forces
Four thousand warriors, three hundred horses and one thousand camels were brought in by the Quraish alone while all together a mighty force of fifteen thousand was assembled to invade Madinah. Some reports record ten thousand while others twelve thousand troops. This variation could probably be due to the fact that others had been joining them enroute and the final count may have been of fifteen thousand warriors. Allaah-SWT knows the best.
Army Of Islam And Its War Strategy
The Islamic forces comprised three thousand men and thirty-six horses. The Holy Prophet-SW employed a new war strategy every time. At Badr he-SW got hold of the springs and the plain forcing the polytheists to fight on the ground of his-SW own choosing. At Uhad he-SW deployed his-SW army with its back towards mount Uhad and positioned his-SW archers on the high ground of vital tactical importance on a flank. In this battle it was for the first time in Arabia that an artificial obstacle was created to impede the enemy direct attack. The Holy Prophet-SW had consulted his-SW Companions-RAU and Hadhrat Salman Farsi-RAU of Persia suggested the strategy of the Persian Kings, which was to dig trenches around the citadels. Keeping Mount Sale at the back of the city the Holy Prophet-SW ordered to seal off the front approach by digging out a Trench. He personally marked the ground whereupon it was to be dug.
Dimensions Of The Trench And Its Preparation
The length of the Trench was approximately three and a half miles, its depth fifteen feet, while the width could not be jumped over by a horseman. The Holy Prophet-SW assigned forty yards of digging per ten Companions-RAU and in six days the Trench was ready. He-SW personally participated in the entire digging effort.
A Strange Incident
Throughout the digging there had been no hindrance except in the poruon assigned to Hadhrat Salman Farsis-RAU group, where a solid rock obstructed the excavation. No matter how hard thev tried it did not break though their digging tools broke down. Allaah-SWT makes it clear that it is He-SWT Who blesses efficacies to plans, without which these are bound to fail. Hadhrat Salman-RAU referred the matter to the Holy Prophet-SW, who came to the site. His-SW noble self was covered with a thick layer of dust. He-SW struck the rock thrice and with each blow a part of it disintegrated. He-SW then sat down for a while, when Hadhrat Salman-RAU confided that he had witnessed a beam of light rising high with every blow.
Kashf And Observation
The Holy Prophet-SW asked him-RAU if he had indeed seen the light, to which he-RAU replied in the affirmative. The Holy Prophet-SW then explained that in the first light, he-SW was shown the palaces of Yemen and the treasures therein, in the second, the palaces of Chosroes and in the third the palaces of the Romans. And that he-SW has been informed that his-SW followers would conquer these kingdoms.
All these countries fell to Islam during the time of the first four Caliphs-RAU. This means that a Wali can observe future events but remains dependant on a Prophet-AS for the interpretation of his Kashf. When this news spread, the hypocrites and the non believers sarcastically remarked that while the believers were at the verge of elimination they were dreaming of conquering Rome, Persia and Yemen. But the spirit and morale of the Companions-RAU was immensely boosted. When the army of the infidels arrived they were shocked to see the Trench, as they had planned to raid the city. They were now compelled to camp at the other side of the Ditch. The believers gathered their women and children in the fort of Bani Haritha, while even fifteen year old boys joined in at the Trench to fight. The siege continued for a month.
There had been a constant exchange of arrows from both sides throughout the day, with the enemy trying to cross over the Trench and the believers determined to thwart their attempts. One day the encounter was so intense that the Holy Prophet-SW and his-SW Companions-RAU missed four obligatory Salat, which were offered with Salat-e-Isha. Stones were tied around their bellies due to hunger.
Hadhrat S'ad Bin M'az-RAU’s Prayer
Hadhrat Saad bin M'az-RAU was severely wounded by an arrow. He-RAU prayed to Allah-SWT to let him-RAU live only if the Holy Prophet-SW was ever to be attacked by the Quraish in the future, otherwise not. But he-RAU wanted to die only after having witnessed the fate of the Jews of Banu Quraizah, who had violated their treaty with the believers. Banu Quraizah were at the back of the believers but the Jews and the Quraish conspired to win Banu Quraizah over to their side. Thus the believers were now threatened from all sides.
One of the many miracles of the Holy Prophct-SW manifested in this battle was the conversion of a member of Banu Ghatfan named Na'eem ibn-e-Mas’ud to Islam. He called on the Holy Prophet-SW and offered his services for any task. The Holy Prophet-SW assigned him the task of creating a misunderstanding between the legions of Banu Quraizah and the polytheists as a military stratagem. It worked and the two allies fell out. In another incident, when the believers were starving Hadhrat Jabbar-RAU invited the Holy Prophet-SW to his home where some curry and about three kilogram of flour was available. But the Holy Prophet-SW extended this invitation to the entire force and himself-SW distributed the food. Everyone ate to his fill while the Holy Prophet-SW ate at the end and amazingly there was still food left in its original quantity. Yet another of his-SW miracles was that after almost a month of fighting Allaah-SWT sent a cold and stormy wind which toppled over the tents and cooking utensils of the enemy. The temperature dropped so much that the infidels decided on an immediate retreat. Hadhrat Huzaifa-RAU, appointed to gather enemy intelligence, brought back the good news of the retreat of the enemy forces. Thus the believers were blessed with a grand victory.
As the Holy Prophet-SW returned from the battlefield, he received Allah-SWT's Command to sort out Banu Quraizah. The Islamic forces instantly besieged them. They surrendered on the condition that the decision taken by Hadhrat S'ad-RAU would be acceptable to them. He decreed their men to be killed and their women and children to be taken as captives. He-RAU passed away soon after. The battle has been described here briefly. Details may be seen in relevant books.
Allah-SWT reminds the believers of His-SWT favours unto them when they were besieged by the enemy legions. And it is a favour that will oblige the Ummah for all times to come, as this victory paved the way for Islam to reach the later generations. The infidels had intended to wipe out the believers but Allaah-SWT sent hosts of angels and stormy winds to help them because of their devotion and spirit of sacrifice.
A Testimony To The Devotion Of The Companions-RAU
When the enemy launched an attack from all sides, complemented by the treachery of Banu Quraizah from within, the believers were in a state of trauma. It was as if their eyes were petrified and the hearts had reached to the gullets. Outwardly there was no possibility of the survival of this infant Islamic State. Involuntarily the believers became apprehensive about Divine Succour, as to when and in what form would it come, as no apparent means were disccrnable. This was indeed a moment of intense trial for the believers which jolted them to the hilt while the hypocrites and those with diseased hearts suggested that the promise of Allaah-SWT and His-SWT Prophet-SW was no more than a mirage against the legions of the enemy.
The weakness in one's faith is indeed a disease of the heart which generates hypocrisy. Its treatment is Allah-SWT's Zikr. The hypocrites, therefore, concentrated on inciting the residents of Madinah to desert the battlefield as it offered them nothing save death. And finally the hypocrites approached the Holy Prophet-SW to seek his-SW permission to leave under the pretext that their homes were unattended. The fact was that they simply wanted to flee from the battlefield and would not hesitate for a moment to submit to the enemy. If the infidels were to conquer the city; they would readily shift their loyalty to them.
Loyalty To Infidels For Temporal Gains-Typical Trait Of A Hypocrite
It is typical of hypocrites to accept slavery of the infidels for protection and temporal benefits. Those asking to leave were the same people who had accepted Islam and pledged to do Jihad, having made a covenant with Allah-SWT that they would never turn away from the battlefield. Certainly Allaah-SWT will reckon them for it. So the Holy Prophet-SW must let these hypocrites know that evading Jihad cannot protect them against death or assassination as it is preordained. And it is only for a short span that they can avail the benefits of this temporal life. If Allaah-SWT decides to inflict punishment on them, there is none to intervene, and if He-SWT plans to exercise His-SWT Mercy there is no one who can deter Him-SWT . But they must know that having turned away from Allah-SWT, they will not find any helper or supporter.
Allah-SWT is well Aware of those who prevent others from joining Jihad, and advise their followers to turn back from it. And if ever they are forced by the circumstances to join Jihad they participate to the minimum. In that too they are anxious lest the believers take greater share of booty. They are ever greedy to acquire the major chunk. They are so scared of war as if they are gripped by the throes of death, with their eyes rolling. And once the believers are victorious and there is no more danger they resort to sarcasm against the devoted Companions-RAU which is a symbol of hypocrisy. They fall avidly upon the spoils of the war. They are certainly not believers. If they ever do an act of virtue it goes waste due to their hypocrisy and denial. Indeed all this is very easy for Allaah-SWT as He-SWT is not dependant on the obedience of anyone.
The retreat of enemy forces from the battlefield is very hard for these hypocrites to believe. How could such a formidable army be defeated, they ask? And in case the enemy was to turn back and renew the attack, these hypocrites would prefer to leave the city altogether and settle down in a faraway village where they would only get the news of the believers from the travellers. Participation aside, they do not even wish to see the war with their own eyes. However, if they are compelled into a situation where they have to fight along the believers they will confine their participation to the barest minimum.