The Battle of Khandaq

(5th year of the Migration 29 Shawwal / January 627)

The Battle of Khandaq, which took place two years after the Battle of Uhud, is one of the important battles that had an important role in eliminating the barriers blocking the development of Islam.   

Ahzab is another name for the Battle of Khandaq, which was given this name due to the trenches (khandaqs) dug around Madinah upon the order of the Messenger of God in order to stop the attack of the enemy easily. The name Ahzab (groups) was given to the battle because along with he Qurayshi polytheists, Jews, Ghatafans and many other Arab tribes and groups came together in order to attack Madinah. 

As it can be remembered, the Messenger of God had expelled Sons of Nadr, one of the Jewish tribes, from Madinah. They had gone to the north and settled in important places like Khaybar, Damascus and Wadi’l-Qura.

They wanted to relieve their suffering they felt because of being expelled from Madinah by talking against the Prophet and Islam wherever they went and by provoking people against Muslims.

One of the incidents that Sons of Nadr Jews caused to happen through their provocation, encouragement and leading is the Battle fo Khandaq.

The inauspicious idea, ‘walking all together against Madinah and eliminating the Messenger of God and Muslims’ was put forward by those Jews. Besides, the Qurayshi polytheists were always thinking of something like that and were always ready for such an attempt. They were aware of the fact that they could not stop the Islamic development, could not prevent Muslims from increasing day by day and could not stop the Messenger of God from enlarging his area of influence although they had won the Battle of Uhud. Almost all of the routes for their trade caravans had been closed.[1] They did not want to be a mere spectator to this situation, which could destroy them economically. They wanted to weaken the influence of the Islamic state in Madinah in order to act easily.

The offer to walk against Madinah all together and to eliminate the movement of belief and Islam that was led by the Messenger of God in its own place was made by the leaders of Sons of Nadr Jews.[2]

Abu Sufyan, the leader of polytheists said, “Are you sincere about this issue?”

The deceitful Jews said, “Yes. We came here to make a treaty with you about fighting Muhammad!”

Abu Sufyan was glad to hear it. He said,

“Then, welcome among us! Those who help us in enmity to Muhammad are the most beloved and acceptable ones for us!”

Then, he made the following offer in order to test their sincerity:

“However, we cannot trust you unless you worship our gods!”

The Jewish delegate, who could do all kinds of meanness for their evil intentions prostrated before the idols at once.

Thus, they agreed to walk against Madinah and to eliminate the movement of belief and Islam that was led by the Messenger of God in its own place.

Jews Hide the Truth Deliberately

The delegate that came to Makkah consisted of Jewish scholars. The polytheists wanted to learn something from them since they were there. They said to one another, “Those who have come here are scholars and from the People of the Book. Let us ask them whether we are Muhammad is on the right way or.”

Thereupon, Abu Sufyan said to them, “O Congregation of Jews! You are the first people to whom the first heavenly book was sent. Explain the issues that we cannot settle with Muhammad. Is our way or his religion better?”

Jews who always concealed the truths that were against them did not hesitate to say, “By God, you are nearer to the truth than him.”

Those words naturally rejoiced polytheists. They started to make preparations to realize their decision.

The Verses that were Revealed

What the Jews told the polytheists was not true; they concealed the truth deliberately. Thereupon, the following verses were sent down:

“Hast thou not turned thy thought to those who were given a portion of the Book? They believe in sorcery and Evil and say to the Unbelievers that they are better guided in the (right) way than the Believers!

They are (men) whom God hath cursed: and those whom God hath cursed, thou wilt find, have no one to help.”

“Some of them believed and some of them averted their faces from him: and enough is Hell for a burning fire.”[3]

The Call to Other Tribes

After Sons of Nadr Jews got a promise out of Makkan polytheists to act together, they made an agreement with the tribe of Ghatafan in return for the yield of the dates of Khaybar for one year.[4]Besides, they sent some men to the other Arab tribes for propaganda. They provoked them to walk against Madinah.

Meanwhile, Makkan polytheists who would take the leading role in the battle hired some of the Arab tribes to fight. Thus, due to the propaganda, provocation and encouragement of Jews, a big army consisting of Makkan polytheists, neighboring Arab tribes, Ghatafans and Ahabish tribes was formed.  

The purpose and the target was only one as usual: To attack Madinah, to kill the Prophet and to eliminate Muslims!

Those tribes came together for that abominable purpose and target based on their level of enmity against the Messenger of God and Islam.

Enemy Army

The number of the Qurayshi polytheists was four thousand together with the tribe of Ahabish and the other tribes that joined them. The number of those who came together due to the encouragement and provocation of Jews was six thousand. Thus, the number of the enemy army was ten thousand. Abu Sufyan b. Harb led the army of the polytheists. There were three hundred horses and one hundred camels.[5] The number of the horses and camels of the other tribes that consisted of six thousand people was not known. When all of the unbelieving soldiers came together, Abu Sufyan became the commander of the whole army.[6]

The Prophet is Informed

The tribe of Khuzaa was was a friend of the Messenger of God. The beginning of that friendship dated back to their treaty and alliance with Ab­dul­mut­ta­lib.

A horseman from that tribe rode very fast the distance that is usually ridden in twelve days only in four days and gave the Prophet in Madinah the report mentioning the preparation of the Qurayshi polytheists. 

Preparations in Madinah

When the Prophet was informed about the situation, he summoned the Companions and consulted them.

The Messenger of God asked them, “Shall we fight the enemy outside Madinah? Or shall we stay in Madinah and defend the city?”


                                                            The place where the Battle of Khandaq took place

Various offers were expressed about the question that the Prophet asked. Meanwhile, Salman al-Farisi said, “O Messenger of God! When we were afraid of the attacks of cavalrymen in Persia, we would dig trenches around the city and defend it.”

The offer was regarded as reasonable by both the Messenger of God and the Companions and the following decision was made:

They decided to stay in Madinah and dig trenches around the city; so, they would defend the city from the enemy attack. Thus, defending the city was preferred to fighting in the open air.

The reason why the Prophet preferred such a method was to prevent shedding much blood and death of many people. In fact, it was a principle that the Messenger of God preferred in all wars.

They Start to Dig Trenches

When it was decided unanimously that the city would be defended, the activity of digging trenches started immediately upon the order and advice of the Messenger of God. The Prophet himself determined what places would be dug by whom. There were very thick orchards and gardens in the south of the city. It was very unlikely for the enemy to pass through them. Even if they tried to pass through those orchards, they would have to scatter and pass in a single line, which would be stopped and defeated by a small platoon.  In the east of the city Sons of Qurayza Jews and other Jews that had signed a treaty with the Prophet were living. Therefore, the trenches were dug only in the north side of the city, which was open land. The determinations that were made necessitated it. 

All Muslims, even the children, worked very hard to dig trenches. The Messenger of God himself dug trenches, too, and encouraged the Muslims to finish the trenches as soon as possible. All volunteering Muslims worked during the day and returned home at night. On the other hand, the Messenger of God stayed in the tent he had put up on a small hill day and night.[7] He both dug trenches and supervised the activities of digging trenches.

The Messenger of God worked very hard without taking into consideration the dust, hot weather and hunger; sometimes, the Muslims said,   “O Messenger of God! Our work will be enough. Please have a rest” However, the Messenger of God said, “I want to get some rewards by working”, expressing that he wanted to work and get rewards.  

From time to time, while digging and carrying the soil, he chanted the following sanza of Abdullah b. Rawaha: “O God!  If you had not shown us the true path, we would neither give sadaqah nor perform prayers. When the unbelievers that attack us want to cause mischief and disorder, give patience and tranquility to our hearts and strength to our feet when they confront us!”[8]This increased the efforts of the volunteering Muslims.

The Muslims dug trenches all day without having a rest. The Messenger of God looked at them with compassion and mercy and prayed as follows: “O God!  There is no permanent life other than life in the hereafter. Show mercy on Ansar and Muhajirs!”

The Muslims who worked hard answered the prayer of the Messenger of God as follows:

“We have promised Muhammad (pbuh) to make jihad in the way of God as long as we live.”[9]

The Prophet Breaks the Hard Rock into Pieces

The activity of digging was going on.

The Companions confronted a hard rock. While trying to break it, several tools like sledgehammers, pickaxes and spades were broken. No matter how hard they tried, they could not break it. 

They informed the Messenger of God who was having a rest in the tent made of animal hair. They said, “O Messenger of God! We confronted a white rock. We could not break it. What do you order us to do?”

The Prophet took the sledgehammer of Salman al-Farisi. He hit the rock by saying, “Bismillah”. One third of the rock was broken. He said, “Allahu Akbar! I was given the keys of Damascus. I swear by God that I see the red manors of Damascus now!” Then, he said, “Bismillah!” again and hit the rock with the sledgehammer again. One third of the rock was broken. The Prophet said, “Allahu Akbar! I was given the keys of Persia. I swear by God that I see the city of Madayin of the Chosroes and his white manors!” Then, he said “Bismillah!” again and hit the rock with the sledgehammer; the remaining part of the rock was broken into pieces. The Prophet said, “Allahu Akbar! I was given the keys of Yemen. I swear by God that I see the gates of Sana now!”[10]

All of the conquests informed by the Messenger of God took place during the periods of Hazrat Umar and Hazrat Uthman. Abu Hurayra said to Muslims, “These conquests are only a beginning. God gave the keys of the cities you conquered and the cities that will be conquered until Doomsday to Muhammad (pbuh) beforehand” when he saw those conquests.[11]

The Feast Given to the Army

The Muslims who worked without having a rest in order to finish digging as soon as possible did not have much food to eat. There was a famine and drought in Arabia that year; Madinah was also affected by that famine.

The act of digging was going on.

Once Jabirb. Abdullah went home and said to his wife, “I saw that the Messenger of God was extremely hungry. Nobody else could have put up with that hunger. Is there anything to eat at home?”

His wife said, “By God, I have this kid and one sa’ (3,5 kg) of barley.”

Jabir slaughtered the kid and his wife ground the barley in the mill. They put the meat into an earthenware pot and made some dough. They put the pot into the oven and waited.

When Jabir was about to leave the house, his wife said, “Do not make me embarrassed in the presence of the Messenger of God and the people near him”, implying that the food was not enough.  

Jabir went to the Messenger of God and said,

“O Messenger of God! I have some food. Take a few people with you and let us go to my house to eat.”

The Messenger of God asked, “How much food do you have?”

Jabir said, “Bread made of one sa’ of barley and a small kid”

Thereupon, the Prophet, “It is plenty of food and it is very nice. Tell your wife not to take the pot and the bread out of the oven until I arrive!” Then, he said to the people there in the presence of Jabir, “O people of Khandaq! We will go to Jabir’s house to have a feast. Come on.” All of the people of Muhajirs and Ansar who were there stood up.

Hazrat Jabir went home and said to his wife in astonishment, “May God give you goodness! The Messenger of God (pbuh) is coming here to eat with all of the people near him! ‘Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajiun!’ (To God we belong and to Him is our return!) What are we going to do now?”

His wife said, “Did the Messenger of God (pbuh) not ask you how much food we had?”

Jabir said, “Yes he did. I told him how much food we had.”

Thereupon, his wife said, “You will be embarrassed, not me!” She asked Jabir, “Did you or the Messenger of God invite them?”

Jabir said,“The Messenger of God (pbuh) invited them.” Then, his wife said, “He knows better than you do.”

The Messenger of God went to the house of Jabir with all of the Companions that were there. He said to them, “Enter the house without squeezing one another.”

The Companions entered the house in groups of tens.

The Messenger of God said a prayer of abundance. Then, he said to Jabir’s wife, “Call a woman bread maker and make bread together. Take food from the pot with a scoop. Do not remove the pot out of the oven!”

The Prophet took the bread out of the oven with his hands and broke some pieces from the bread. He put some meat on a piece of bread and gave it to a Companion. It went on like that until all Companions ate and were full. 

Although everybody ate the meat and the bread, they remained the same.

The Messenger of God said to Jabir’s wife, “Eat the remaining meat and bread yourself and give it away because everybody is hungry.”

Jabir, who had thought he would definitely be embarrassed, stated the following regarding the issue:

“I swear by God that about a thousand people came. All of them ate and were full. However, the pot was still full and the bread was still there. We ate it and then gave it away to the neighbors.”[12]

The Digging of Trenches is Completed

The extraordinary efforts the Companions made while digging the trenches were the most evident proof that they were loyal to God and His Messenger. They never left the place even when they needed to leave without getting permission from the Prophet. It was an example of self-sacrifice and renunciation suitable for the Companions. As a matter of fact, God Almighty witnessed that they were believers and their loyalty was unique by sending down the following verses:  “Only those are Believers, who believe in God and His Messenger: when they are with him on a matter requiring collective action, they do not depart until they have asked for his leave: those who ask for thy leave are those who believe in God and His Messenger; so when they ask for thy leave, for some business of their, give leave to those of them whom thou wilt, and ask God for their forgiveness: for God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”[13]

The Messenger of God and the Muslims took the activity of digging trenches very seriously but the munafiqs considered it unimportant. They worked lazily and they left whenever they wanted without getting permission from the Messenger of God. They sometimes made fun of the Companions who worked very hard and who were examples of belief, loyalty, self-sacrifice and hard work; they also laughed in order to demoralize the believers.

God Almighty stated the following about the inappropriate attitude of the munafiqs:

“Deem not the summons of the Messenger among yourselves like the summons of one of you to another: God doth know those of you who slip away under shelter of some excuse: then let those beware who withstand the Messenger's order, lest some trial befall them, or a grievous Penalty be inflicted on them.”[14]

As a result of the tiring work, the activity of digging trenches lasted for six days.[15]The trench was five ells (3.40 m) deep; it was too wide even for a very good cavalryman to jump over. Only one part was not wide enough because they were in a hurry. It was possible for cavalrymen to jump over that part. The Prophet expressed his concern about that place by saying, “I do not fear that the polytheists can pass anywhere but this place.”

The Messenger of God decided to appoint guards to defend that narrow place during the battle.

Besides, the Prophet had entrance places built through the appropriate places of the trench. He would appoint guards under the command of Zubayr b. Awwam when the enemy army came and settled their headquarters.

Islamic Army

Islamic army consisted of three thousand people. It was one third of the number of the enemy army. There were only thirty-six cavalrymen. There were two standards in the army: one belonging to the muhajirs and the other to Ansar.  Zayd b. Haritha carried the standard of the muhajirs and Sa’d b. Ubada the standard of Ansar.[16]

The Messenger of God settled the headquarters on the foot of the Mount Sal. The back part of the army faced that mountain. The women and children that did not take part in the battle were placed in the castle and fortresses. The food and valuable goods were kept in those fortresses.

A tent made of leather was put up on the foot of the Mount Sal. This tent was in the place where the Fath Mosque is today. 

The Headquarters of the Enemy Army

The plain was filled with enemy tents immediately after the trench was dug.

The enemy settled its headquarters in the north of Madinah, where the Battle of Uhud took place. They were surprised when they saw the trench. They had not seen such a war plan and strategy before. Naturally, the trench demoralized them in the beginning.  

In fact, they had set off with the imagination and hope of capturing Madinah fully. They did not even want to think of returning empty-handed.

The mujahids did not fear or hesitate when they saw the enemy army of ten thousand soldiers. The Quran described their state as follows:

“When the Believers saw the Confederate forces, they said: ‘This is what God and His Messenger had promised us, and God and his Messenger told us what was true.’ And it only added to their faith and their zeal in obedience.”[17]

Sons of Qurayza Violates the Treaty

The Messenger of God was in the leather tent. Hazrat Abu Bakr was with him. The Muslims were watching the enemy and guarding. Meanwhile Hazrat Umar came to the presence of Hazrat Umar.

He said, “O Messenger of God’ According to what I have heard Sons of Qurayza Jews violated the treaty and decided to help the enemy.”

This unexpected news distressed the Prophet. In fact, he had made an agreement with Ka’b Ibn Asad, the leader of that tribe; therefore, he was sure that they would be loyal to the treaty.

The Prophet who was distressed uttered the following words:

“Hasbunallahu wa ni’mal-wakil [For us God sufficeth, and He is the best disposer of affairs].”[18]

Sons of Qurayza were a big Jewish tribe and they lived in the strong fortresses outside the city of Madinah. They had signed a treaty with the Messenger of God. According to the treaty, they would defend Madinah together when there was an external danger for the city. Besides, they would not do any military moves without informing the Prophet about it. They would not help the Qurayshi polytheists and those who helped them.[19]

Thereupon, the Prophet sent Zubayr b. Awwam to the land of Sons of Qurayza Jews in order to verify the news.  Zubayr saw that Sons of Qurayza were repairing their fortresses and conducting military drills. He returned to the Prophet. Thereupon, the Messenger of God said, 

“Each Prophet has an apostle; and my apostle is Zubayr!”[20]

What Hazrat Umar had said was true. Hu­yayy b. Ahtab, the leader of Sons of Nadr Jews had persuaded Ka’b b. Asad. Thereupon, Ka’b violated the treaty.

The Prophet Sends a Delegate

The Messenger of God sent Sa’d b. Muadh the leader of the Aws tribe and  Sa’d b. Ubada, the leader of the Khazraj tribe, Abdullah b. Rawaha and Hawwat b. Jubayr to investigate the situation again and to give Sons of Qurayza advice and the Prophet said to them,

“Go and investigate whether the news that has reached us is true or not. If it is true, tell me about it using implied words so that people will not understand it. I will understand it. Do not express it clearly lest people should feel scared and weak. If they have not violated the treaty, you can express it openly.”[21]

Those distinguished Companions went to the land of Sons of Qurayza. They mentioned that it was a bad thing to violate the treaty and gave them some advice. However, they did not heed what the Companions said and declared openly that they had violated the treaty. They even acted so arrogantly as to talk against the Messenger of God.

The Muslim delegates were very disturbed about the situation. Sa’d b. Muadh, who had been an ally of Sons of Qurayza for a long time talked furiously and said, “I pray God not to kill me before I fight you!”

Then, the Muslim delegates returned and told the Prophet about the situation in an implied way. The Prophet said to them, “Keep the news as a secret! Tell it to only those who are aware of the situation. War consists of precautions and tricks!”[22]

Madinah had been surrounded by enemies. God Almighty expressed the situation as follows: in the Quran:

“They came on you from above you and from below you, and behold the eyes became dim and the hearts gaped up to the throats, and ye imagined various (vain) thoughts about God.”[23]

Sons of Qurayza’s Attempts to Attack Madinah

Meanwhile, Sons of Qurayza sent Huyayy b. Ahtab to the Qurayshis and asked for one hundred people from polytheists and one hundred people from Ghatafan in order to attack Madinah at night.

They would meet those forces and attack the women and children in the castle and fortresses of Madinah together.

This news caused a panic among Muslims. The Messenger of God sent Zayd b. Haritha with three hundred soldiers and Salama b. Aslam with two hundred soldiers to Madinah in order to protect the city at night. Those forces would patrol during the night.

Meanwhile Sons of Qurayza Jews made a few attempts of attacks but they could not succeed and had to return.

Hazrat Safiyya Kills a Jew

It was during the second attempt of the attack by Sons of Qurayza.

About ten Jews shot arrows at Hassan b. Thabit’s manor, in which Safiyya, the aunt of the Prophet was; they even tried to enter the manor. One of them reached the door of the manor and wanted to enter. There were many other women and children in the manor along with Safiyya. 

When Safiyya saw that a Jew was wandering around the manor, she wrapped a turban around her head so that it would not be known that she was a woman. He took a piece of long wood and went out of the manor. She opened the gate slowly. She approached the man from behind and hit the man with the wood and killed him. Then, she cut off his head and threw it against Jews. 

Thereupon, the other Jews became scared; they said, “We were informed that Muslim left the women and children alone but it was wrong.” Then, they left that place and returned.

The Prophet Himself Guards the Narrow Pass

The Messenger of God, who sent five hundred mujahids to Madinah and protected the city, waited at the narrowest part of the trench at night lest the enemy should pass through that place. 

Hazrat Aisha said,

“When the Messenger of God (pbuh) went to the ditch to guard and returned, he was trembling due to the cold. He came near me and got a bit warm. He said, ‘I do not fear that the polytheists can pass anywhere but this place! I wish somebody from the Muslims waited there instead of me’ Meanwhile, I heard the sound of a weapon and an iron tool.  

The Messenger of God (pbuh) called out, ‘Who is that?’

‘Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas...’

The Messenger of God said, ‘I entrust this passage to you. Guard this place’.

Then, he slept

Munafiqs Leave the Trench

The munafiqs constantly said, “It is not reasonable to leave our wives and children alone and wait here miserably.” They tried to cause mischief. Some of them went to the presence of the Messenger of God and said to him, “Our houses are outside Madinah; the walls are low and open to the attack of the enemy and thieves.”[24]They asked for permission to leave the trench. The Prophet allowed some of them to leave.

In fact, the aim of the munafiqs was to demoralize the Muslims by leaving the army at a critical point. It was a strategy that they always applied.

As a matter of fact, when Sa’d b. Muadh saw that some munafiqs asked for permission, he could not help saying,

“O Messenger of God! Do not allow them. Whenever we suffer a misfortune or we are in trouble, they always act like that!”

Then, he went to the group of munafiqs who asked for permission and said to them, “Will you always do something like that? Whenever we suffer a misfortune or we are in trouble, you always act like that!”[25]

God Almighty stated that they were not sincere when they asked permission with the following verse: 

“Behold! A party among them said: "Ye men of Yathrib! Ye cannot stand (the attack)! Therefore go back!" and a band of them ask for leave of the Prophet, saying "Truly our houses are bare and exposed", though they were not exposed: they intended nothing but to run away!”[26]

The Battle Starts

The enemy knew that it would be difficult to fight behind a trench. However, they finished their preparations and attacked with might and main. Nevertheless, the trench made things more difficult than they expected. They could not pass the trench. It naturally disheartened them. 

Eventually the fight went on through shooting arrows from a distance. However, this lengthened the struggle.

When the enemy army saw that they could not get anything from their attacks, they decided to besiege the Muslims. Besides, they had nothing else to do!

One on One Fights

Some enemy cavalrymen managed to jump over the narrow place and passed behind the trench; they asked individuals to fight one on one. 

The most famous one of them was Amr b. Abdi Wadd. He experienced many incidents, destroyed many groups alone; he was a very brave and skilled swordsman and cavalryman. The Arab tribes regarded him as equal to a company of cavalrymen. It was necessary to have extraordinary courage to fight him. Therefore, nobody would fight him.

When Amr asked for an individual to fight, Hazrat Ali said, “O Messenger of God! I want to fight against him. Will you let me?”

The Prophet said, “You sit, O Ali! He is Amr.”

Amr challenged the Muslims again: “Is there not a man among you to come to the battle field? Where is your Paradise, which you promise to your dead people?”

Hazrat Ali wanted to fight him.

The Messenger of God said, “O Ali! He is Amr” and did not let him.

When Amr saw that nobody confronted him, he felt arrogant and cursed; he shouted again, “Is there not anyone to come to the battle field?

Hazrat Ali stood up bravely.

“I will fight him O Messenger of God!”

The Messenger of God said, “O Ali! He is Amr”.

Hazrat  Ali said, “I will fight him even if he is Amr, O Messenger of God!”

Thereupon, the Messenger of God let the Lion of God fight. The Prophet put his armor on Ali and put the sword called “Dhulfiqar” around his waist; then he wrapped his turban around his head and prayed, “O Lord! My uncle’s son Ubayda was martyred at Ba­dr and my uncle Hamza was martyred at Uhud. I only have my cousin Ali now. Protect him and help him; do not leave me alone!”[27]

Hazrat Ali walked solemnly due to his belief against Amr.

Both parties were ready to watch this great fight.

Only the eyes of Hazrat Ali, who was in armor, were visible. 

Amr asked, “Who are you?”

Hazrat Ali said, “I am Ali!”

When Amr saw this young man, he felt a bit mercy and despised Ali.

“Is there not anybody older than you among your uncles? I do not want to shed your blood because your father was my friend.”

Hz. Ali answered,

“By God! I want to shed your blood!”

Amr started to laugh and said, “I never dreamt somebody would confront me and speak to me like that!”

Amr got very furious at Hz Ali’s words. He drew his sword and rode against Hazrat Ali on his horse.

Hazrat Ali said, “How can I fight you? I am on foot your on horse back. Get of your horse and fight me on foot!”

Amr got off his horse at once and let the horse go. He looked at Hazrat Ali furiously and stood against him.

Hazrat Ali said, “O Amr! I heard that you promised God that when you confronted someone from The Quraysh you would accept one of his two requests. Is that right?”

Amr said, “Yes, that is right...”

Then, Hazrat Ali said, “Then, I call you to believe in God and His Messenger and to accept Islam.”

Amr said, “I do not need them; stop it!”

This time, Hazrat Ali said, “Then, give up fighting us and go back to your country!”

Amr said, “I promised what I promised and prohibited myself from wearing oil and perfume until I took my revenge.”

Then, Hazrat Ali said, “In that case, get ready to fight!”

Amr laughed loudly and said, “I never thought there would be anyone among Arabs who would want to fight me like a hero!” Then, he said, “You are a valiant young man. And your father was my friend. Give up fighting me and return. I do not want to kill you!”

Hazrat Ali, who was very brave, said, “But I want to kill you!”

Hazrat Ali’s last sentence infuriated Amr a lot. He tore Hazrat Ali’s shield into pieces. The sword that tore the shield grazed Hazrat Ali’s forehead. Hazrat Ali moved aside like lightning; now it was his turn. He hit Amr’s neck very hard with Dhul-Fiqar. Amr’s head was cut off.

In less than no time, there were screams and cries. Hazrat Ali shouted, “Allahu Akbar!” due to this victory He gave him. When the Messenger of God and Muslims shouted, “Allahu Ak­bar!” , takbirs resounded around the area.

“It is the Sword that Cuts not the Hand!”

Meanwhile, Hubayra b. Abi Wahb, one of the cavalrymen and poets of Kuwayt, attempted to fight  Hazrat Ali but when he received a sword blow, he ran away! This time, Zubayr b. Awwam followed him. He cut his horse’s saddle with his sword. Then, Zubayr ran after Naw­fal b. Abdullah. He split Nawfal into two with a severe blow of his sword.

When people said to Zubayr later, “We have not seen a sword like yours”, he answered,

“It is not the sword that does so; it is the hand!”

The other cavalrymen of the Quraysh were terrified and started to flee on their horses. Ikrima, Abu Jahl’s son, dropped his spear but he did not dare to return and take it.

The fact that Amr b. Abdi Wadd, who was regarded as equal to one company, was killed rejoiced Muslims very much but terrified the polytheists. Abu Sufyan, the leader of the the Qurayshi army said, “There is nothing good for us today” and left the trench; he went back to his headquarters hopelessly.

Attack from Every Direction

The next day, all of the polytheists, together with Sons of Qurayza Jews, surrounded the Muslims from all directions and shot arrows until the evening.

The Muslims who were very thin and weak due to famine felt very bad when the enemy army attacked like a black cloud; when the enemy army retreated in the evening, the Muslims felt a bit relieved. However, everybody was worried saying, “If the enemy attacks severely again tomorrow from all directions, what will happen?”

The Munafiqs Appear Again

Regarding the trouble and the famine that the Muslims were exposed to, the munafiqs started to demoralize the Muslims by saying, “Muhammad promised you the treasures of the Kaiser and Chosroes! However, we are trapped in this trench now. We cannot even answer the call of the nature due to our fear! What he promised is completely different from what we have now. God and His Messenger promise us deception only.”

The Quran indicates that issue, too.[28]

However, those treacherous and tricky suggestions of the munafiqs could not make the real believers leave the Messenger of God. They had believed sincerely that God would help them. They had endless belief in the predestination of God. They sincerely endured all kinds of misfortunes and troubles for the sake of God and His Messenger. On the other hand, the munafiqs thought the enemy army that surrounded Madinah would kill the Messenger of God and the Companions; in fact, they wanted it to happen. Such a great testing discriminated between the believers and the munafiqs.

The following verse of the Quran regarding the issue is exemplary:

“Or do ye think that ye shall enter the Garden (of Bliss) without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They encountered suffering and adversity and were so shaken in spirit that even the Messenger and those of faith who were with him cried: "When (will come) the help of God?" Ah! verily the help of God is (always) near!”[29]

The Enemy Feels Crestfallen

The siege continued for days. The attacks and assaults of the polytheists were always repelled by Muslims. The prolongation of the siege caused a great trouble, famine and cold for both parties. The crops had been collected from the fields about a month ago; so the food of the horses and camels of the enemy army finished and the animals faced starvation. They caused languor, hopelessness and crestfallenness among the enemy ranks. 

The Prophet’s Offer to Ghatafans

When the Messenger of God saw that the siege prolonged, and the cold, drought and famine increased day by day and that they affected the Muslims badly, he sent this message to the leaders of Ghatafans,  Uyayna b. Hisn and Harith b. Awf: “If you stop the siege and return to your homeland, I will give you one third of the date crop of Madinah for a year.”

They said, “You should give us half of the date crop of Madinah for a year.”

However, the Messenger of God did not agree on it. Thereupon, they accepted one third of the crop and came to the presence of the Messenger of God as a group of delegates.

Meanwhile the Prophet wanted to learn the view of Sa’d b. Muadh and Sa’d b. Ubada, the leaders of Ansar first. They said, “O Messenger of God! Is it something that you want or something that God ordered and we have to fulfill?”

The Prophet said, “If I had been ordered by God to do it, I would not have asked you your opinion; I would have done it at once. This is something that you are free to agree or disagree with.”

Thereupon, Sa’d b. Muad said, “O Messenger of God! We and that tribe used to associate partners with God and worship idols; we did not know God. Even then, they never expected to eat even one date of Madinah except when they were guests or when they bought dates. Can we give them dates as tribute now, when God has honored us with Islam and guided us with you and strengthened us? I swear by God we do not need such an agreement. The only thing we can offer them until God decides between us and them is the sword!”[30]

The Messenger of God was glad to hear it. He said to the delegates of Ghatafan, “You may leave now! Only the sword can settle the problem between you and us!”

Thereupon, the delegates of Ghatafan left.

On the way, Harith b. Awf said to Uyayna b. Hisn,

“We will not be able to get anything by attacking Muhammad in order to help the Qurayshis. I swear by God that I see Muhammad’s cause as something clear and superior. I swear by God that the scholars of Khaybar Jews always said that it was written in their books that a prophet from the people of Haram having the attributes of Muhammad would emerge.”

The Troubles the Mujahids Suffered

During the siege, the mujahids suffered great troubles and hardships. They had dug the trench without having a rest before the battle, and the battle started as soon as they finished digging the trench. Therefore, they were very tired and exhausted. They were also hungry and the weather was very cold. 

Huzayfa narrates one night of the battle as follows:  

“We were sitting in a rank.  Abu Sufyan and his army were on the upper side and Sons of Qurayza was on the down side. We were afraid that they would attack our wives and children in Madinah. We had never had such a dark and stormy night before. The wind was virtually whistling and we could not see even our fingers in the dark. The munafiqs asked for permission from the Messenger of God saying, ‘Our houses are not safe’; in fact, their houses were not in danger. The Prophet gave permission to those who asked. Those who got permission fled immediately. There were about three hundred of us. We guarded the Prophet one by one. It was my turn to guard. I had no shield to protect myself from the enemy; I had no clothing to protect my body from the cold; I only had a woolen covering that my wife gave to me; it could not cover even my knees.”[31]

The Severe Attacks of the Enemy and the Prayers that were Missed

Once the enemies threw a lot of arrows at the tent of the Messenger of God during the besiege. The Prophet was standing in front of the tent with his armor on his body and his helmet on his head.

Hazrat Jabir narrates:

“That day, the polytheists fought us all day. They divided their soldiers into teams.  They sent a big group of soldiers under the command of Khalid b. Walid where the Messenger of God was. They fought until late at night. Neither the Messenger of God nor the Muslims could have the opportunity to leave their places.”[32]

The clash continued so intensely that the Messenger of God could not perform the noon, afternoon and evening prayers of that day on time. The Messenger of God, who did not damn even those who tortured and insulted him, damned them because they caused him to delay his prayers as follows:  “O God! They kept us busy until the evening and prevented us from praying; fill their houses, stomachs and graves with fire!”Then, he performed the noon, afternoon and evening prayers of that day together with his Companions.[33]

The Great Service of Nuaym B. Mas’ud

Both parties were fed up because of hunger, fatigue, cold and failure.

Meanwhile, Nuaym b. Mas’ud had just become a Muslim, but neither the polytheists nor Ghatafans (his tribe) knew that he had become a Muslim; he came to the presence of the Prophet. He wanted to show his gratitude of being a Muslim by doing a great service for Muslims. He made the following offer:   

“O Messenger of God! I became a Muslim. Ghatafans, my tribe, do not know about it. Order me anything; I will do it!”

The Prophet said, “You are alone. What can you do with your courage? However, you can do something even if you are alone. Go among the tribes that besieged us and try to separate them from one another if you can! For all war is deception.”[34]

Nuaym understood what the Prophet wanted from him. He said,

“Yes, O Messenger of God! I can do it. However, you should let me tell lies when necessary.”

The Prophet said, “Say whatever you wish. It is permissible for you!”[35]

Nuaym is in the Land of Sons of Qurayza

Nuaym set off immediately. First, he went to the land of Sons of Qurayza. He spoke as follows without causing any doubt:

“The cause of that man (the Prophet) is a trouble. You saw what he did to Sons of Qaynuqa and Sons of Nadr. The Qurayshis and Ghatafans came here to fight Muhammad and his Companions. And you helped them. However, their land, property, wives and children are not here. They will defeat the Muslims and collect the booty if they can; they will flee if they are defeated. They will leave you alone with the Muslims. You do not have enough power to resist the Muslims. Do not fight against Muhammad together with them unless you hold some the Qurayshis as hostages. If they leave some people as hostages, they will not leave you alone and they will not flee.”[36]

Sons of Qurayza Jews liked the advice of Nuaym and thanked him because he warned them.

While leaving them, Nuaym said, “Never tell anyone about what I told you; keep it as a secret!” They promised to keep it as a secret.

Nuaym is among the Qurayshis

After leaving the land of Sons of Qurayza, Nuaym went directly to the Qurayshi polytheists and said, “You know how much I love you! You also know that I am against Muhammad. I have to tell you what I found out. However, you should swear that you will keep it as a secret.”

They said, “We swear!”

Nuaym said, “Know it very well that Sons of Qurayza are regretful that they violated the treaty with Muhammad. They will ask some of your notables as hostages and they will kill them in order to make peace again with Muhammad. They will also ask Muhammad to allow Sons of Nadr to return to their land. If Sons of Qurayza ask you to give some of your notables as hostages, never send any of your notables to them!”[37]

Nuaym is among Ghatafans

Then Nuaym went to his own tribe, Ghatafans. He said,

“O Ghatafans! You are my tribe and you are the most beloved people for me.” Then, he went on:

“I found out that Jews violated the treaty they signed with you and decided to sign a treaty with Muhammad. Sons of Qurayza will make peace with Muhammad if Muhammad accepts to admit Sons of Nadr into Madinah again.”

Thus, Nuaym made his tribe believe what he said, too.

The Strategy Turns out to be Successful

The strategy of Nuaym started to yield positive results.

In accordance with the plan, Sons of Qurayza Jews wanted seventy people from the notables of the polytheists as hostages; they rejected it as Nuaym instructed them. It caused distrust between them. Both parties said, “It means what Nuaym said was true.” They cut off the relationships between them.

Similarly, Sons of Qurayza asked hostages from Ghatafans. When they refused it, the plan became successful.

The Last Clash and the Help of God!

The army of the polytheists attacked with might and main for the last time from all sides of the trench. The clashes were very severe. Both parties wanted to intimidate and repulse each other by throwing arrows and stones.

During this most critical phase of the battle, the Messenger of God put his covering on the ground and opened his hands to pray God Almighty:

“O God, who sent down the Book (the Quran), who settles things very quickly, who defeats nations and tribes! Defeat those tribes and shake them! Help us against them. O God! If you let those handful of Muslims be beaten, who will be left to worship you?”[38]

The clash continued very intensely that day. When it got dark, both parties went back to their headquarters. At night, Gabriel came to the Prophet and gave him the good news that the enemy army would be scattered by a wind. When the Messenger of God received the good news, he sat on his two knees, opened his hands and thanked God Almighty: “Thanks and praise be to God for His mercy to me and my Companions!”

The Polytheists are Scattered!

It was Saturday night.

When it got dark, a freezing wind started to blow and roar near the headquarters of the army of the polytheists. It was a freezing wind that usually blew on the coldest winter nights. The eyes of the polytheists were filled with dust and dirt. Their pots and pans started to fly and their tents were uprooted; the horses and camels started to hit each other; people could not see one another.[39]

There was fear and panic among the enemy soldiers. They were astonished. The defeat started among the Qurayshi polytheists first. Abu Sufyan, their commander, mounted on his camel before his soldiers and said, “Flee at once! I am leaving!” He set off toward Makkah. If the notables of the Quraysh had not condemned him, he would have left the army alone and fled. When Abu Sufyan was condemned by the notables of his tribe, he returned. However, there was unrest and panic in the army and it was impossible to stop it. The efforts to bring the army together were unsuccessful. They had nothing else to do but to return to Makkah after collecting their things very quickly; and they did so.

Only a company of cavalrymen consisting of two hundred people under the command of Amr b. As and Khalid b. Walid, who were fighting in the ranks of polytheists against Muslims then, stayed behind fearing that they could be followed by Muslims.[40]

When the Qurayshi polytheists fled, the other tribes that were their allies left the headquarters and returned to their homeland.

The divine help sent by God to the Prophet and the Muslims is mentioned in the Quran as follows:

“O ye who believe! Remember the Grace of God, (bestowed) on you, when there came down on you hosts (to overwhelm you); but We sent against them a hurricane and force that ye saw not. But God sees (clearly) all that ye do.”[41]

The Messenger of God thanks God

After praising and thanking God Almighty, who sent help, by smiling, the Messenger of God uttered the following:

“There is no god but Allah; He is the unique one. God made His army victorious and helped His slave. He defeated Ahzab (Arab tribes) alone!”[42]

The Quran states that the army of the polytheists returned empty-handed without obtaining anything as follows:

“And God turned back the Unbelievers for (all) their fury: no advantage did they gain, and enough is God for the Believers in their fight. And God is full of Strength, Able to enforce His Will.”[43]

Victory Belongs to Muslims!

The tough clashes and the siege that lasted about a month ended as a result of the help of God. The enemy was scattered and the Muslims felt relieved. The return of the army of the unbelievers would be the starting point of all of the returns. From that point onward, the unbelievers would not have the courage to walk against the Muslims again. They realized how strong the believers were and that it would not be easy to defeat Muslims from then on as a result of the battles of Badr, Uhud and Handaq.

The mood of the army of the polytheists that fled from the battle field was very hopeless, grievous and sad; on the other hand, the mood of the believers was very joyful. Everybody was pleased. They praised and thanked their Lord in tranquility because they obtained the fruit of their hard and tiring work and their steadfast and courageous fight in such a nice way. The following glad tidings of the Messenger of God increased their joy:

“From now on, we will go and fight them; they will not dare to come and fight us.”[44]

The mujahids and the Messenger of God returned from the trench to the city joyfully.

The Number of the Martyrs and Deaths

During this battle, seven mujahids were martyred; four unbelievers were killed. All of the Companions that were martyred were from Ansar.


[1]Ibn Hisham, Sirah, Vol. 3, p. 225.

[2]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 225.

[3]an-Nisa, 51-52, 55.

[4]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 226.

[5]Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, Vol. 2, p. 66.

[6]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 66.

[7]According to the narration of Ibn Sa’d and Tabari, it was a Turkish tent made of animal hair. (Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, Vol. 4, p. 83; Tabari, Tarikh, Vol. 3, p. 45).

[8]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 70-71; Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, Vol. 4. p. 282.

[9]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2. p. 70.

[10]Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, Vol. 4, p. 303.

[11]Tabari, Tarikh, Vol. 3, p. 46.

[12]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 229; Bukhari, Sahih, Vol. 5, p. 46-47; Muslim, Sahih, Vol. 3, p. 1611; Ibn Kathir, Sirah, Vol. 3, p. 188.

[13]an-Nur, 62.

[14]an-Nur, 63.

[15]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 67.

[16]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 67.

[17]al-Ahzab, 22.

[18]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 67.

[19]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 147-150.

[20]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 106; Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, Vol. 3, p. 314.

[21]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 232.

[22]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 233.

[23]al-Ahzab, 10.

[24]Ibn Kathir, Sirah, Vol. 3, p. 200.

[25]Waqidi, Maghazi, Vol. 2, p. 463.

[26]al-Ahzab, 13.

[27]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 68; Ibn Sayyid, Uyun al-Athar, Vol. 2, p. 61; Halabi, Insanu’l-Uyun, Vol. 2, p. 642.

[28]al-Ahzab, 13.

[29]al-Baqara, 214.

[30]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 234.

[31]Ibn Kathir, Sirah, Vol. 3, p. 220.

[32]Waqidi, Maghazi, Vol. 2, p. 473.

[33]Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, Vol. 2, p. 68; Tirmidhi, Sunan, Vol. 1, p. 337.

[34]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 240; Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 4. p. 278

[35]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 4, p. 278.

[36]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 240-241; Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 4. p. 278.

[37]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 241; Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 4, p. 278.

[38]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 74; Ibn Kathir, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 214.

[39]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 71.

[40]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 69.

[41]al-Ahzab, 9.

[42]Bukhari, Sahih, Vol. 3, p. 33.

[43]al-Ahzab, 25.

[44]Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, Vol. 4, p. 262.

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