What Happened In the Battle of Khandaq?

The Battle of Khandaq, also known as the Battle of Trench or Ghazwa e Ahzab, stands as a testament to the resilience of Muslims in the face of adversity. Fought in 5 AH, the Battle of Khandaq was a 30-day-long siege that commenced in the last week of Shawwal and lasted through Ramadan.

The Battle of Khandaq is regarded as the third-largest battle in Islam’s history. Lasting for an entire month, it not only solidified Muhammad SAW’s position as a political leader but also inspired the Makkan residents to embrace Islam.

The Name

In the Islamic scriptures, there are several names for the battle. The most common being the Battle of Trench or the Battle of Khandaq. This name is derived from the strategic planning the Muslims had to adopt to stop the disbelievers from entering Madina by digging a trench. The word khandaq is the Arabicized form of the word kandag, translating to that which has been dug.

Reason For The Battle

The Battle of Trench occurred due to concerns among the Quraysh regarding the impact of Islam on their political and economic interests. Abu Sufyan and the other leaders believed that the only way to safeguard their existence and take back their position was to remove the Muslims. Therefore, to kill the Muslims and remove Islam, the Jewish and Arabian tribes joined hands to deliver a final crushing blow to Muhammad SAW and his army.

The Strategic Planning

When the Prophet SAW became aware that the Quraysh were planning against the Muslims, he discussed the situation with his companions and asked for their opinions. Salman Farsi RA, stood up and gave his opinion about digging a trench and making a boundary around the northern side of Madina to safeguard it against the forces of Quraysh. After this opinion was approved, the Prophet SAW divided the Muslims into groups of ten, and the digging commenced.

It is narrated that when Muhammad SAW was digging the trench, he said that this was the last attempt of Quraysh to destroy Islam, and the Muslims would rule over them. After the digging, Muhammad SAW divided the Muslims into several groups to guard different trench areas.

Miracles In The Battle

The First Miracle

Jabir RA narrated that on the day of Al-Khandaq, the people came across a big, solid rock. Therefore, they went to the Prophet SAW and informed him about the situation. When he came to help them, they saw that a stone was tied around his belly, for he had not eaten anything in three days.

Witnessing this, Jabir RA asked the Prophet SAW for permission to visit his home. After Muhammad SAW permitted Jabir RA, he went home and asked his wife if there was something to eat since he had seen the Prophet SAW in a state he couldn’t bear. His wife replied in the affirmative, and they prepared some food.

Later, Jabir RA went to the Prophet SAW and invited him and a few of his companions to his house. When Jabir RA told the Prophet SAW about the food, he replied that it was abundant and good. He further instructed Jabir RA to tell his wife not to remove the pot of meat from the fire or the bread from the oven. Then, he ordered all his companions to get up and follow him to Jabir RA’s home.

After reaching his home, the Prophet SAW instructed his companions to enter the house and not crowd it. After everybody was settled, the Prophet distributed the food among 1000 men. Each time he would take something out of the pot or the oven, he would cover it afterward. This continued until all the companions had eaten their fill, and even then, some food remained. [Sahih al-Bukhari 4101]

The Second Miracle

One hadith states that during the trench digging, the Prophet SAW’s army encountered a big rock that prevented them from continuing.

To help his people, the Prophet SAW lifted his pickaxe and struck the rock three times. After he was done, Salman RA said, O Prophet! Each time you struck the rock, there was a bright light. In response, the Prophet asked him if Salman RA saw the light. When Salman RA replied in the affirmative, the Prophet said that when he struck the rock for the first time, he saw the cities of Kisra, their environs, and many other cities. Hearing this, the Prophet SAW’s companions asked him to pray to Allah to grant them victory and give that land as war spoils.

When he struck the rock for the second time, Prophet SAW said that he saw the cities of Caesar and their environs. Hearing this, the companions again asked the Prophet PBUH to pray, so he prayed. When he struck the rock for the third time, Prophet SAW said that he saw the cities of Ethiopia and the villages around them. [Sunan an-Nasa’i 3176]

The Start Of Battle

On December 29, 627 C.E., the Battle of Khandaq began on the outskirts of Madina. There, an army of 3,000 Muslims bravely defended themselves against the attacks of the 10,000 disbelievers. Being an uncommon Arab military tactic, the trench took the army of the Ahzab (Quraysh and other tribes) by surprise. Therefore, the opposing army tried its best to pass the trench to tackle this unplanned situation.

Betrayal of Banu Qurayza

Even after several tries by the Quraysh army, they couldn’t pass the trench. To tackle this situation, the Quraysh considered communicating with Banu Qurayza (the Jewish tribe in Madinah) to have them attack the women and children of Madina. The Quraysh thought that when the women and children were in danger, the Prophet SAW and his army would leave the trench unattended to look after them, and the Quraysh would pass the trench.

Although Banu Qurayza had signed a constitution with the Prophet SAW (which stated that neither Banu Qurayza was allowed to attack the Muslims nor help anyone attack them), the leader of the tribe, Kaab, agreed to betray the Prophet SAW. When this news reached Muhammad SAW, he bravely took back control and conquered the area of Banu Qurayza

Bravery Of Ali RA

As days passed, the relentless efforts of the disbelievers began to take their toll. The trench now stood exposed. Taking advantage of this, Amr ibn Wadd, a champion for the Quraysh, stepped forward and asked, Who will fight me? In response, Ali RA stepped forward. Although the Prophet SAW didn’t want Ali RA to fight, on his persistence, the Prophet SAW permitted him. Both Ali RA and Amr engaged in a fierce battle, at the end of which Ali RA emerged victorious after beheading Amr.

Ranged Attack by The Quraysh

After the one-on-one fight between Ali RA and Amr, the Quraysh army launched arrows towards the Prophet SAW’s army. The battle was so intense that the Muslims couldn’t even find a place to pray. The Prophet, who never cursed even those who insulted him, said about the Quraysh, They have prevented us from offering the Asr prayer. May Allah fill their houses and graves with hellfire.

Divine Intervention

On the 24th day of the battle, Prophet SAW prayed to Allah SWT for his help, and his prayers were answered in the form of cold, harsh winds that uprooted the tents of the Quraysh, scattering their belongings and hitting their faces.

In the Quran, Allah states, “O believers! Remember Allah’s favor upon you when the enemy besieged you in Madinah? So we sent against them a bitter wind and forces (angels), which you couldn’t see.” [Surah Al-Ahzab, verse 9]

End Of The Battle

The Prophet SAW selected Huzaifa Ibn Al-Yaman RA to get the news from the Quraysh. When he reached them, he heard Aby Sufyan saying to his people that because the Jews had betrayed them (as they thought) and because of the harsh winds, he had decided to leave the battlefield. Huzaifa RA told this news to the Prophet SAW, who told his companions and thanked Allah for the victory. A total of four disbelievers were killed, while seven Muslims (including Saad bin Maaz) were martyred.

After this, on the command of Jibreel AS, the Prophet SAW and his army besieged Banu Qurayza for 15 days. When the tribe offered to leave their weapons and get out of Madinah, the Prophet SAW refused because they had betrayed their treaty with the Muslims. As a result, the Banu Qurayza surrendered to the Prophet SAW, and the Muslims took complete control of their lands.

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