Battle of Hunain

The Holy Prophet (sa) sent Hazrat Abbad bin Bishr to Banu Sulaim and Muzaina in order to collect charity. Hazrat Abbad bin Bishr stayed with them for ten days. On the way back, he went to Banu Mustaliq in order to collect charity from them. He also stayed there for ten days. Following this, he returned to Medina. Similarly, it is also found in the narrations that the Holy Prophet (sa) appointed Hazrat Abbad bin Bishr as the collector of the spoils of the battle of Hunain. The Holy Prophet (sa) appointed him as the supervisor of security around the Holy Prophet (sa) during the battle of Tabuk.

(At-Tabaqat Al-Kubra, Vol. 3, p. 336, Abbad bin Bishr, Dar-ul-Kutub Al-Ilmiyyah, 1990, Beirut)

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud (ra) says,

“Ponder over an incident in history wherein the Battle of Hunayn, the disbelievers of Mecca joined the Muslim army saying that ‘Today, we will demonstrate the feats of our bravery’, but they were unable to withstand the onslaught from the Banu Thaqif and ran away from the battlefield. Hence, there came a time during this battle when only 12 companions remained around the Holy Prophet (sa). The Muslim army, which was a force of 10,000 men, became scattered. The army of the disbelievers, which comprised of 3,000 archers, were hiding on both sides of the valley and they began firing their arrows on them. Yet, despite this, the Holy Prophet (sa) did not wish to retreat and wanted to continue on. Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) became worried and grabbed the reins of the Holy Prophet’s (sa) mount, and said, ‘O Messenger (sa) of Allah (sa)! May my mother and father be sacrificed for your sake! This is not the time to advance ahead. The Muslim army will re-group, and we can attack then.’ However, the Holy Prophet (sa) said with great passion, ‘Leave the reins of my mount,’ and then he nudged it with his heel and advanced ahead, reciting the following couplet:

أنَا‭ ‬النَّبِيُّ‭ ‬لَا‭ ‬كَذِب‬‬‬ أنَا‭ ‬ابْنُ‭ ‬عَبْدِ‭ ‬الْمُطَّلِب‬‬‬

Meaning: ‘I am the promised prophet, whose eternal safety was vouchsafed, I am not a liar, therefore, I care not, whether you are an army of 3,000 or 30,000; O ye idolaters! Seeing this bravery of mine, do not think that I am God, I am a human and the son of your chief, Abdul Muttalib’ (i.e. his grandson). The Holy Prophet’s (sa) uncle, Hazrat Abbas (ra) had a loud voice, the Holy Prophet (sa) said to him, ‘Abbas! Come forward, and with a loud voice proclaim, “O companions of Surah al-Baqarah (i.e. those who had memorised Surah al-Baqarah), O companions who pledged allegiance under the tree at Hudaibiyah! The Messenger (sa) of God summons you.”’

One of the companions narrates, ‘Owing to the cowardice of the new Muslim converts from Mecca, when the vanguard of the Muslim army retreated, our mounts also ran and the more we tried to steer them back, the more they would run in the opposite direction. Until the voice of Abbas (ra) resounded inside the valley, “O companions of Surah al-Baqarah! O companions who pledged allegiance under the tree at Hudaibiyah! The Messenger (sa) of God summons you!”’

The companion further says, ‘When this voice reached my ears, it seemed as though I was no longer alive, but had died and that the trumpet of angel Israfil was resounding in the air. I pulled hard on the reins of my camel, its head touched its back, but it was so frightened that as soon as I would loosen the reins, it would run in the opposite direction again. Many of my comrades, including myself took out their swords, some managed to jump off the camels, and many had to severe the heads of their camels.’ The companions then began running towards the Holy Prophet (sa), and within a few moments, the army of 10,000 companions, which was running helplessly towards Mecca, gathered around the Holy Prophet (sa) again. A short while later, this army climbed the mount and destroyed the enemies, and this dangerous defeat turned into a great victory.”

(Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 6, pp. 409-410)

The Battle of Hunain took place in Shawwal of 8 AH. In a narration, it is stated that during the Battle of Hunain, the flag of the Muhajireen was carried by Hazrat Ali (ra). During the Battle of Hunain, owing to a ferocious attack by the disbelievers, only a handful of companions remained around the Holy Prophet (sa) and Hazrat Ali (ra) was among them.

(Sirat Khatamun-Nabiyyin, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra), p. 840) (Ibn Saad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 2, Dhikr Adad Maghazi Rasul Allah (sa) … [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi, 1996], 325)

In the Battle of Hunain, a man on a red camel was carrying a black flag ahead of the ranks of the idolaters. This flag was tied to a long spear. The people of the Banu Hawazin were stood behind him. If anyone came within his reach, he would strike them and kill them, but if that person evaded his attack, he would raise his spear to indicate to the people behind and they would launch a sudden attack and they continuously remained behind the man on the red camel.

This man continued to attack in this manner. All of a sudden, Hazrat Ali (ra) and a person from the Ansar turned to him and went forward to kill him. Hazrat Ali (ra) came from behind him and struck his camel on the hip [joint] as a result of which the camel fell down backwards. Instantly the man from the Ansar attacked him with such force that his leg was severed from the middle of his calf. At this moment the Muslims launched a fierce attack against the idolaters.

(Ali bin Burhan al-Din al-Halabi, Al-Sirah al-Halabiyyah, Vol. 3, Bab Dhikr Maghaziyah [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2002], 158)

Hazrat Amr(ra) bin Ma‘bad participated in all the battles alongside the Holy Prophet (sa), including the Battle of Badr, Uhud and Khandaq. Hazrat Amr (ra) bin Ma‘bad was among the 100 companions who stood their ground during the Battle of Hunayn and valiantly fought, as a result of which God Almighty Himself became responsible for their provisions

(Al-Tabaqaat-ul-Kubra li ibn Sa‘d, Vol. 3, p. 353, Umair (ra) bin Ma’bad Dar-ul-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 2012).

This is because they stood by with the Holy Prophet (sa).

According to one narration, Hazrat Abdullah bin Umar (ra) states, “On the day of Hunayn, our condition was such that two of the parties among the Muslims retreated and there were not even as much as a hundred people who remained with the Holy Prophet (sa).”

(Sunan Al-Tirmidhi, Abwab-ul-Jihad, Hadith no. 1689)

There are varying opinions in relation to the number of companions who remained firmly stood alongside the Holy Prophet (sa). Some estimate that it was between 80 and a 100.

(Subul Al-Huda Wa Al-Rishaad, Vol. 5, p. 484, Dar-e-Ihyaa Al-Turath, Cairo, 1992)

However, others state 100, but nonetheless they were very few in number.

Hazrat Anas bin Malik (ra) narrates that the Holy Prophet (sa) stated, “On this day (i.e. on the day of the Battle of Hunayn) whosoever kills a disbeliever, he will be granted the wealth and possessions of the one he kills [as their spoil from the battle].” On that day, Hazrat Abu Talha (ra) killed 20 disbelievers and took their wealth [as spoils from the battle]. Hazrat Abu Talha (ra) saw Hazrat Umm-e-Sulaim (ra) with a dagger in her hand and asked, “O Umm-e-Sulaim (ra), what is the purpose of this?” She replied, “I swear by God! It is my intention that if a disbeliever passes within range, I would strike this dagger and pierce his abdomen.” Hazrat Abu Talha (ra) informed the Holy Prophet (sa) about this incident. This narration is found in Sunan Abi Daud.

(Sunan Abi Daud, Kitab al-Jihad, As-Sulbi Yu’ti al-Qatil, Hadith 2718)

On the day of the Battle of Hunayn, owing to the unexpected attack of arrows from the Banu Hawazin and also given that 2,000 Muslims were part of the Muslim army, who had only recently accepted Islam, a particular moment came in the battle when the Holy Prophet (sa) was left on his own in the battlefield. Hazrat Abbas (ra) was holding the reins of the mule which the Holy Prophet (sa) was mounted upon. Malik bin Auf, the commander of the disbelievers, stood in a narrow pass along with some of his men who were mounted on horses. A cavalry could be seen in the distance and Malik bin Auf enquired from his men as to what they could see. They replied that there were some men who were resting their spears between the ears of their horses. Upon this, Malik bin Auf stated that it was the Banu Sulaim and they did not pose any threat to them. And so, this cavalry made their way towards the valley. They then saw another cavalry and again Malik enquired what they could see, and they replied that there were some men who were holding their spears in their hands. Upon this, Malik stated that they belonged to the Aus and Khazraj and they also did not pose any threat to them. Similarly, just like the Banu Sulaim, they also passed close to the narrow passage and then made their way towards the settlements. Thereafter, they saw an individual on a mount, again Malik enquired from his men as to what they could see and they reported that there was a person on a mount who was tall and was carrying his spear on his shoulder and was wearing a red coloured turban. Upon this, Malik responded, “This is Zubair bin al-Awwam; I swear by Laat [the name of an idol], you will come up against him in battle, so ready yourself.” As soon as Hazrat Zubair (ra) approached close to the narrow passage and the men mounted upon the horses could see him, Hazrat Zubair (ra) stood resolutely like a rock against them. He then launched a series of attacks against them with his spear that not a single chieftain among the disbelievers remained in the narrow pass.

(Roshan Sitare, Ghulam Baari Saif Sahib, Vol. 3, pp. 52-53) (al-Sirat al-Nabawiyyah li Ibn Hisham, Vol. 2, p. 456, Malik bin Auf Li Qaumihi, Maktabah Wa al-Matba‘ah Mustapha al-Baabi, Egypt, 1995)

With regards to the Battle of Hunayn it is mentioned that another name for this battle was Ghazwah Hawazin as well as the Ghazwah Autas. Hunayn is a valley situated between Mecca and Ta‘if at a distance of 30 miles from Mecca. The Battle of Hunayn took place after the Conquest of Mecca in Shawal, 8 AH. It is mentioned in narrations that when Allah the Almighty enabled the Holy Prophet (sa) to conquer Mecca, the chiefs of Hawazin and Thaqif gathered together and were fearful that the Holy Prophet (sa) would attack them as well.

(‘Ali bin Burhan al-Din al-Halabi, Al-Sirah al-Halabiyyah, Vol. 3, Bab Dhikr Maghaziyah Ghazwat Hunain [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 2002], p. 151), (Atlas Sirat Nabawisa, p. 409, Dar al-Salam, Riyad, 1424 AH)

Malik bin Auf Nasri gathered the tribes of Arabia; hence, along with the tribes of Hawazin and Banu Thaqif, the Banu Nasr, Banu Jusham, Sa‘d bin Bakr and a few people from the Banu Hilal joined with them.

(Ibn Hisham, Sirat Ibn Hisham [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-’Ilmiyyah, 2001], p. 761)

All of them gathered together at a place called Autas. Autas was the name of a valley near Hunayn.

Malik bin Auf sent his spies to gather information about the Holy Prophet (sa). When the Holy Prophet (sa) learnt that they had formed an alliance, the Holy Prophet (sa) sent Abdullah bin Abi Hadrad Al-Aslami on a reconnaissance mission towards them. After this, the Holy Prophet (sa) decided to march towards Hawazin and for the battle he took weapons on loan from his cousin, Naufal bin Harith, and also from Safwan bin Umayyah. Thus, the Holy Prophet (sa) marched upon the Banu Hawazin with an army of 12,000 men. They reached the valley of Hunayn early morning and entered the valley. The army of the idolaters was already hiding in the valley. They attacked the Muslims all of a sudden and fired arrows with such intensity that the Muslims turned back and scattered as they ran away. Owing to this, only a handful of companions were left around the Holy Prophet (sa), among whom was Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra).

(‘Ali bin Burhan al-Din al-Halabi, Al-Sirah al-Halabiyyah, Vol. 3, Bab Dhikr Maghaziyah Ghazwat Hunain [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 2002], pp. 151-154), (Sayyid Fadl al-Rahman, Farhang-e-Sirat [Karachi, Pakistan: Zawwar Academy Publications, 2003], p. 49)

Abu Ishaq narrates, “A person came to Bara and said, ‘You all ran away in the Battle of Hunayn,’ He said, ‘I can testify that the Holy Prophet (sa) did not retreat. However, some impatient ones and those without weapons went towards the tribe of Hawazin; they were expert archers, they released a flurry of arrows, like a swarm of locusts, owing to this they broke rank.’”

(Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Jihad wa al-Siyar, Bab fi Ghazwat Hunain, Hadith 4616)

In this situation, Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) and Hazrat Umar (ra) from among the Muhajirin remained steadfast with the Holy Prophet (sa); and from among the family of the Holy Prophet (sa), Hazrat Ali (ra) and Hazrat Abbas bin Abdil Muttalib (ra) remained with the Holy Prophet (sa); similarly, the names of Abu Sufyan bin Harith and his son Rabi‘ah bin Harith, Fadl bin Abbas and Usamah bin Zaid are mentioned as well

(Ibn Hisham, Al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah, Ghazwat Hunain/Thubat al-Rasul (sa) wa ba’d Ashabih [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 2001], p. 764)

Hazrat Abu Qatadah (ra) narrates, “During the Battle of Hunayn, I saw a Muslim fighting against an idolater. I saw another idolater who was discreetly moving towards the Muslim from behind, in order to kill him. I quickly advanced towards the idolater that was moving discreetly towards the Muslim. He raised his hand to strike me, but I struck his hand and severed it. He then grabbed hold of me firmly and squeezed so hard that I was left immobilised. He then released me and loosened his grip, I pushed him away and then killed him. On the other side, the Muslims suffered defeat and ran away, and I was also among them.”

He then further narrates,

“The Muslims then returned and gathered around the Holy Prophet (sa). The Holy Prophet (sa) said, ‘Whoever can provide evidence that he slayed someone [from among the enemy], then he will be entitled to the spoils belonging to that deceased person.’ I stood up so that I could find some evidence about the person I killed, but nobody saw him nor could anyone testify for me, and so I sat back down. I then thought about it again and mentioned the incident about the person I killed to the Holy Prophet (sa); there was a person sitting near the Holy Prophet (sa) who said, ‘I have the weapons of the person that was killed by him.’ The person who took the weapons said to the Holy Prophet (sa) to give something else to me that I would be content with. (i.e. the person who had taken the weapon said to leave the weapons with him and to give Hazrat Abu Qatadah (ra) something else). Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) was sitting there; he said, ‘This cannot happen at any cost, the Holy Prophet (sa) would not grant something to a coward from among the Quraish and forsake a lion from among the Lions of God, who fought alongside the Messenger (sa) of Allah.’”

Hazrat Abu Qatadah (ra) would say, “The Holy Prophet (sa) stood up and gave me the weapons. With that I then bought a date orchard, and this was my first property that I invested in after accepting Islam.”

*(Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Maghazi, Bab Qaul Allah Ta‘ala wa Yaum Hunain, Hadith 4322) *

Then, there is another incident which does not directly relate to Hazrat Umar (ra), but he is also mentioned in it, and so I will relate it.

Hazrat Abu Qatadah (ra) stated:

“During the Battle of Hunain, I saw a person from among the Muslims who was fighting against an idolater and in the meantime, I saw another idolater quietly creeping up from behind him in an attempt to kill him. Upon seeing this, I quickly went towards that person who wished to kill the Muslim in this deceiving manner.

“He raised his hand to attack me and I struck a blow to his hand thus cutting it off. He then got hold of me and grabbed me so tightly that I was unable to do anything. He finally let go and stood unsteadily; I then pushed him away and killed him. Then it so happened that the Muslims retreated as they were losing, and I was also among those who retreated. I then saw Hazrat Umar bin Khattab with a group of people and I asked them why they had retreated, to which Hazrat Umar (ra) replied that it was as Allah willed. Then people returned to the Holy Prophet (sa), who said that whoever could prove that they had killed a certain individual, could keep that person’s belongings. I got up to look for proof about the person I had killed but could not find anyone who would give testimony, and so I gave up and sat down.

“Then a thought came to mind, and I mentioned the incident regarding the person I had killed to the Holy Prophet (sa). One of the people sitting with him said that he had the weapons of the person I had killed, and that the Holy Prophet (sa) should give me something else instead. Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) said that it could not be that the Holy Prophet (sa) grants spoils to an ordinary person from the Quraish and does not do the same for a lion of Allah who was fighting on behalf of Allah and His Messenger (sa).”

Hazrat Abu Qatadah (ra) further states, “The Holy Prophet (sa) stood up and granted me those particular spoils of war. I used them to buy a small orchard of date trees and this was the first time since having accepted Islam that I acquired some wealth and turned it into an asset.”

(Sahih Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Maghazi, Hadith no. 4322)

Hazrat Ibn Umar (ra) relates:

“When we returned from the Battle of Hunain, Hazrat Umar (ra) asked the Holy Prophet (sa) about a vow he had taken during the Era of Ignorance [Jahiliyyah] which was to undertake e‘tikaf [period of seclusion]. The Holy Prophet (sa) instructed that he should fulfil this promise.”

(Sahih Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Maghazi, Hadith no. 4320)

In other words, even if it was made during the Era of Ignorance, he ought to fulfil it. But alongside this was the condition that it should be fulfilled whilst remaining within the teachings of Islam.