Battle of Ahzaab: Lessons and Morals
Sheikh ‘Abdul Muhsin al Qaasim
May 24, 2013 ~ Rajjab 14, 1434
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Praise be to Allah. We praise Him and seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evils within ourselves and the wickedness of our wrong deeds. He whom Allah guides, none can misguide, and he whom Allah sends astray, none can guide. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah alone, Who has no partners, and I bear witness that our master and Prophet Muhammad is Allah’s Servant and Messenger. May Allah confer his bountiful peace and blessings upon him and his household and Companions.
O Muslims, Fear Allah, servants of Allah, as He should be feared; for the fear of Allah is the light of guidance and the source of life for one’s heart and conscience.
O Muslims, Allah has chosen the right religion for His servants. He has promised to make this religion superior over all other religions and to grant victory to His servants. He has also promised to annihilate falsehood and its advocates.
The life of the Prophet ﷺ is full of trials and afflictions and abounds in lessons and morals. It is necessary for us to know about the life of the Prophet ﷺ and how he acted in times of hardship. Zain al-Abideen (Rahimahullah) said, “We were taught the battles of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ as we would be taught a surah from the Quran.”
In the Quran, Allah has told the story of a battle in a surah bearing its name and has ordered the believers always to remember His favour to them during that battle. In the opening verses of this surah, Allah, Exalted be He, says: “O you who believe! Remember Allah’s Favour to you . . .” [Surah al-Ahzaab: 9]
The Prophet ﷺ used to remember Allah’s favour during this battle each time he traveled. Ibn ‘Umar (Radiallahu Anhum) said, “Whenever the Prophet ﷺ returned home from a battle, or from Hajj or ‘Umrah, he would start by saying takbeer (Allahu Akbar) three times, and then say, ‘There is no god but Allah alone, Who has no partners. To Him belongs the dominion and to Him is all the praise. He is Powerful over all things. We are returning with repentance (to Allah), worshiping, prostrating, and praising our Lord. Allah has fulfilled His promise, granted victory to His Servant, and defeated the Confederates alone.” [Agreed upon]
The Prophet ﷺ made the remembrance of this favour a sunnah for each pilgrim performing Hajj or ‘Umrah. When the Prophet ﷺ ascended As-Safa Mountain (during Hajj or ‘Umrah), he used to say, “There is no god but Allah alone, Who has no partners. To Him belongs the dominion and to Him is all the praise. He is Powerful over all things. There is no god but Allah alone, Who has fulfilled His promise, granted victory to His Servant, and defeated the Confederates alone.” [Reported by Muslim]
It was a hard, dreadful battle that took place in the winter nights of the fifth year after Hijrah. The Banu an-Nadir Jews in Khaibar had incited the Quraish disbelievers in Makkah to fight the Prophet ﷺ and promised to give them help and support. They formed an alliance and were joined by the Ghatafan tribe from the east. When the Prophet ﷺ learned of their march, he ordered Muslims to dig a trench round Al-Madinah. They obeyed his orders and started to dig the trench and carry earth on their backs, as they felt exhausted and hungry and faced the biting cold weather. When the Prophet ﷺ saw them in this condition, he prayed to Allah to confer blessing, forgiveness, and righteousness on Muhajirun and Ansaar. The Prophet ﷺ also moved earth with them. Al-Baraa (Radiallahu Anhu) said, “I saw the Prophet ﷺ moving earth out of the trench till dust made me unable to see the skin of his abdomen.” [Reported by Al-Bukhari]
If the Companions came across a hard rock, the Prophet ﷺ went down the trench and hit it with a spade. They completed digging the trench in half a month. The Muslims were in a state of extreme hunger. Jaabir (Radiallahu Anhu) described this state as follows: “They came across a big solid rock while digging the trench, so they went to the Prophet ﷺ and said, ‘Here is a rock appearing across the trench’. He said, ‘I am coming down’. Then he got up, and a stone was tied to his abdomen [i.e. out of severe hunger]; for we had not eaten anything for three days.” [Reported by Al-Bukhari]
Then Jaabir (Radiallahu Anhu) went to his wife and said, “I have seen the Prophet ﷺ in a state (of extreme hunger) that I am unable to endure.” So Jaabir slaughtered a she-goat, ground a saa’ (a cubic measure equalling about 3 kilograms) of barley, and invited the Prophet ﷺ to eat. Then the Prophet ﷺ went and spat in the cooking pot and in the dough and Allah blessed the food so that a thousand men ate from it. The narrator (Jaabir) said, “By Allah, all of them ate until they left the food and went away, our cooking pot was still bubbling (full of meat) as if it had not decreased, and our dough was still being baked as if nothing had been taken from it.” [Reported by Al-Bukhari]
The Prophet ﷺ was kind and merciful to his Companions. “He would cut the bread (into pieces) for them and put the cooked meat over it. He would give the food to them and take the meat out of the pot. He went on cutting the bread and scooping the meat (for his companions) till they all ate their fill.” [Reported by Al-Bukhari]
The confederates, consisting of the Jews and polytheists, came from each direction heading towards al-Madeenah. Their number amounted to ten thousand fighters. Allah, Exalted be He, says: “When they came upon you from above you and from below you . . .” [Surah al-Ahzaab: 10]
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ went out heading an army of three thousand Muslims, with the trench separating them from the polytheists, who besieged the Muslims for a month. There was no actual fighting between them, but only shooting of arrows, in which three polytheists were killed and six Muslims were martyred, including Sa‘d ibn Mu‘adh (Radiallahu Anhu).
With the confederates besieging al-Madeenah, the Quraish disbelievers sought the assistance of the Banu an-Nadir Jews, who were in the South-eastern part of al-Madeenah, to help them kill their kinsman, our Prophet Muhammad ﷺ . It is against all reason to resort to strangers in order to kill one’s own people and kinsmen. The Banu Quraidha Jews broke their covenant with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and joined the Confederates in their war against him. There was much distress, hardship, and fear among the Muslims, in addition to hunger and cold weather. Allah, Exalted be He, describes them as follows: “. . . and when the eyes grew wild and the hearts reached to the throats . . .” [Surah al-Ahzaab: 10]
The trial became more immense; hypocrisy appeared; and doubts spread. Allah, Exalted be He, says: “There, the believers were tried and shaken with a mighty shaking.” [Surah al-Ahzaab: 11]
Hudhaifah (Radiallahu Anhu) said, “The Prophet ﷺ said, ‘Will anyone of you go and bring me the news of the enemy, may Allah rank him with me on the Day of Judgement?’ We remained silent and none of us answered him. Then he said, ‘Will anyone of you go and bring us the news of the enemy, may Allah rank him with me on the Day of Judgement?’ We remained silent and none of us answered him. Again he said, ‘Will anyone of you go and bring us the news of the enemy, may Allah rank him with me on the Day of Judgement?’ Again we remained silent and none of us answered him, out of our fear and hunger and because of the cold weather. Then he said, ‘Get up Hudhaifah, bring us the news of the enemy.’ When he called me by name I had no alternative but to get up.” (Reported by Muslim)
The requirements of victory were lacking. There were neither enough men nor enough arms. The enemy army far outnumbered the Muslim army and it was surrounding the Muslims from all sides. Sheikh al Islaam, Ibn Taymiyah (Rahimahullah), said, “The majority of the polytheists surrounding Muslims allied against them and went in their totality to al-Madeenah in order to get rid of the believers. They harboured such bitter enmity towards the believers that if they had defeated them, they would have beset them so grievously.”
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ urged his Companions to be patient, gave them glad tidings, and promised them the help of Allah. So they said: “. . . This is what Allah and His Messenger had promised us, and Allah and His Messenger had spoken the truth, and it only added to their faith and to their submissiveness.” [Surah al-Ahzaab: 22]
Then the Companions (Radiallahu Anhum) remained firm, which is one aspect of victory, trusted in Allah, and thought well of Him. Ibn Taymiyah (Rahimahullah) said, “In the Battle of Ahzaab, Allah granted victory to His Servant and granted power and glory to His soldiers, not through fighting, but through their firmness before their enemy.”
The Prophet ﷺ resorted to his Lord and implored Him in supplication, appealing to His Exalted Grandeur and High Ability, Exalted be He, to grant victory to the Muslims. Abdullah ibn Abi-Awfa (Radiallahu Anhu) said, “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ invoked Allah against the Confederates, saying, ‘O Allah, Revealer of the Book, Swift at Reckoning! Defeat the Confederates. O Allah! Defeat them and shake the ground under their feet.” [Agreed upon]
Nothing could relieve their distress except their belief in the Oneness of Allah. During the siege, the Prophet ﷺ used to utter frequently the statement of true monotheism. Abu Hurayrah (Radiallahu Anhu said, “The Prophet ﷺ used to say, ‘There is no god but Allah alone, Who has granted power and glory to His soldiers, granted victory to His Servant, and defeated the Confederates alone. There is none after Him.” [Reported by al-Bukhari]
Allah implanted terror in the hearts of the polytheists, sent down His victory, and divided between the Quraish and the Jews through the subtle plan of Nu‘aim ibn Mas‘ud (Radiallahu Anhu). They turned into enemies hatching plots against each other after they had been allies against Muslims. Then Allah punished them with a severe, cold gale; they could neither find rest nor light a fire. Allah sent down some angels, including Jibreel, peace be upon him, who terrified and frightened them to death. Allah, Exalted be He, says: “. . . and We sent against them a wind and forces that you saw not [i.e. troops of angels during the battle of Al-Ahzab. And Allah is Ever All-Seer of what you do.“ [Surah al-Ahzaab:9].
As a result, they dispersed and turned back from Al-Madinah in total frustration and loss: “And Allah drove back those who disbelieved in their rage, they gained no advantage (booty, etc.). Allah sufficed for the believers in the fighting. . .” [Surah al-Ahzaab: 25]
The Prophet ﷺ said, “From now onwards we will go to attack them and they will not come to attack us.” [Reported by al-Bukhari] So it was the last battle in which polytheists attacked Muslims in their lands. Regarding this battle, Allah has revealed the following verse: “Indeed in the Messenger of Allah you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.“ [Surah al-Ahzaab: 21].
Ibn Katheer (Rahimahullah), said, “People were ordered to follow the example set by the Prophet ﷺ , during the battle of Ahzaab, with respect to his patience, endurance, garrisoning of the land, struggling, and expecting relief from his Lord..”
O Muslims, Allah refuses except to perfect His light; when people wage war against His religion, it becomes stronger, and when it is left in peace, it spreads among people. “. . . And Allah has full power and control over His Affairs, but most of men know not.“ [Surah Yusuf: 21]
Afflictions are the test that reveals the inner strength and true nature of men. Only through the experience of trial and suffering can one achieve noble missions and virtuous ends. Ibn Taymiyah (Rahimahullah) said, “Allah has made this great adversity a reason for the achievement of every noble blessing and a basis for establishing the right call of the Prophet (Salallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam).”
I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Satan, “Verily, We will indeed make victorious Our Messengers and those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah ) in this world’s life and on the Day when the witnesses will stand forth.” [Ghafir: 51]
May Allah bless you and me with the Great Quran and make us benefit from its verses and wise words. I have said what you have heard and I ask forgiveness of Allah for myself, for you, and for all Muslims, for any sin that we have committed. Ask Allah for forgiveness. He is the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful.
Praise be to Allah for His kindness to us; and all forms of gratitude are due to Him for the success he has blessed us with and for His graciousness. I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship other than Allah, Who has no partners, in glorification of His dignified position. I also bear witness that our Prophet Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger – may Allah’s bountiful peace and blessings be upon him, his household, and his Companions.
O Muslims, If victory is delayed for Muslims, they should remember what Allah says of the disbelievers: “So make no haste against them; We only count out to them a (limited) number.“ [Surah Maryam: 84]
However, if victory looms ahead for Muslims, they should remember Allah’s great grace and kindness to them, as manifested in fending off their enemies and defeating them, and should increase praising, glorifying, and asking forgiveness of Allah. Allah, Might and Majesty be to Him, says: “When comes the Help of Allah and the conquest (of Makkah), And you see that the people enter Allah’s religion (Islam) in crowds, then glorify the Praises of your Lord, and ask for His Forgiveness. Verily, He is the One Who accepts the repentance and forgives.” [Surah al Nasr: 1-3]
Servants of Allah, know that Allah has commanded you to ask Him to send His blessings and peace upon His Prophet. Allah says in His perfect Revelation: “Allah sends His Salat on the Prophet and also His angels to. O you who believe! Send your Salat on him, and (you should) greet (salute) him with the Islamic way of greeting.” [Surah al-Ahzaab: 56].
O Allah! Bestow peace and blessings upon our Prophet, Muhammad, and be pleased with the Rightly-Guided Caliphs, who ruled by truth and thereby established justice, Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali, along with all the Companions, and also be pleased with us together with them, by Your grace and generosity, O the Most Generous!
O Allah! Provide power and glory to Islam and Muslims, humiliate polytheism and the polytheists, and destroy the enemies of the religion. O Allah, make our country and all other Muslim countries, safe and secure.
O Allah! Grant victory to whoever supports your religion, and take revenge on whoever lets down Your servants who believe in You.
O Allah! Grant victory to all those who fight in Your Cause. O Allah! Be their Helper, Protector, and Supporter. O Allah! Grant them immediate victory and relief, O All-Strong! O All-Mighty! O Allah! Make the turns of misfortune be upon Your enemy and their enemy.
“Our Lord! Give us that which is good in this world and that which is good in the Hereafter, and save us from the torment of Hellfire!” [Surah al-Baqarah: 201]
O Allah! Lead our ruler to Your guidance, make all his deeds pleasing to You and guide all the leaders of the Muslims to act according to Your Book and rule by Your Shari’a.
Servants of Allah, “Verily, Allah enjoins justice and kindness, and giving (help) to kith and kin, and forbids all types of lewd acts, and all kinds of oppression. He admonishes you, that you may take heed.” [Surah an-Nahl: 90]
Remember Allah, the Great, the Sublime, and He will remember you. Thank Him for His blessings and favours and He will give you more. Verily, remembrance of Allah is greater, and Allah knows what you do.
Translated by Al-Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University.