The Campaign of the Confederates (Al-Ahzab)
Allah tells us of the blessings and favors He bestowed upon His believing servants when He diverted their enemies and defeated them in the year when they gathered together and plotted. That was the year of Al-Khandaq, in Shawwal of the year 5 AH according to the well-known correct view. Musa bin `Uqbah and others said that it was in the year 4 AH. The reason why the Confederates came was that a group of the leaders of the Jews of Banu Nadir, whom the Messenger of Allah had expelled from Al-Madinah to Khaybar, including Sallam bin Abu Al-Huqayq, Sallam bin Mishkam and Kinanah bin Ar-Rabi`, went to Makkah where they met with the leaders of Quraysh and incited them to make war against the Prophet . They promised that they would give them help and support, and Quraysh agreed to that. Then they went to the Ghatafan tribe with the same call, and they responded too. The Quraysh came out with their company of men from various tribes and their followers, under the leadership of Abu Sufyan Sakhr bin Harb. The Ghatafan were led by `Uyaynah bin Hisn bin Badr. In all they numbered nearly ten thousand. When the Messenger of Allah heard that they had set out, he commanded the Muslims to dig a ditch (Khandaq) around Al-Madinah from the east. This was on the advice of Salman Al-Farisi, may Allah be pleased with him. So the Muslims did this, working hard, and the Messenger of Allah worked with them, carrying earth away and digging, in the process of which there occurred many miracles and clear signs. The idolators came and made camp to the north of Al-Madinah, near Uhud, and some of them camped on the high ground overlooking Al-Madinah, as Allah says:
(When they came upon you from above you and from below you,) The Messenger of Allah came out with the believers, who numbered nearly three thousand, or it was said that they numbered seven hundred. They had their backs towards (the mountain of) Sal` and were facing the enemy, and the ditch, in which there was no water, was between the two groups, preventing the cavalry and infantry from reaching them. The women and children were in the strongholds of Al-Madinah. Banu Qurayzah, who were a group among the Jews, had a fortress in the south-east of Al-Madinah, and they had made a treaty with the Prophet and were under his protection. They numbered nearly eight hundred fighters. Huyay bin Akhtab An-Nadari went to them and kept trying to persuade them until they broke the treaty and went over to the side of the Confederates against the Messenger of Allah . The crisis deepened and things got worse, as Allah says:
(There, the believers were tried and shaken with a mighty shaking.) 33: 11 They besieged the Prophet and his Companions for almost a month, but they did not reach them and there was no fighting between them, except for when `Amr bin `Abd Wadd Al-`Amiri, who was one of the most famous and bravest horsemen of the Jahiliyyah, came with some other horsemen, and crossed the ditch to the Muslim side. The Messenger of Allah called for the Muslim cavalry, and it was said that no one came forward. Then he called `Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, who came forward and they fought in single combat until Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, killed him, and this was a sign of imminent victory. Then Allah sent an intensely cold wind with strong gusts against the Confederates, and they were left with no tents or anything else; they could not light any fires or do anything, and so they departed, disappointed and defeated, as Allah says:
(O you who believe! Remember Allah’s favor to you, when there came against you hosts, and We sent against them a wind and forces) Mujahid said: “This was the easterly wind.” This view is supported by another Hadith:
(I was given victory by the easterly wind, and `Ad were destroyed by the westerly wind.)
(and forces that you saw not.) This refers to the angels who shook them and cast fear and terror into their hearts. The chief of each tribe said, “O Banu so-and-so, to me!” So they gathered around him, and he said, “Let us save ourselves,” when Allah cast fear and terror into their hearts. In his Sahih, Muslim recorded that Ibrahim At-Taymi said that his father said: “We were with Hudhayfah bin Al-Yaman, may Allah be pleased with him, and a man said to him: `If I had met the Messenger of Allah I would have fought alongside him and I would have striven my utmost.’ Hudhayfah said to him: `Would you really have done that I was present with the Messenger of Allah during (the campaign) against the Confederates on a very cold and windy night, and the Messenger of Allah said:
(Is there any man who will bring me news of the people He will be with me on the Day of Resurrection.) None of us answered him, and he repeated it a second and a third time. Then he said:
(O Hudhayfah, get up and bring us news of the people.) When he called me by name, I had no choice but to get up. He said,
(Bring us news of the people, but do not alarm them.) So I went, walking as if I were walking among pigeons, until I came to them. I saw Abu Sufyan warming his back by the fire, and I put an arrow in my bow, wanting to shoot it at him, then I remembered what the Messenger of Allah said,
(Do not alarm them.) If I shot the arrow, I would have hit him. So I came back, again walking as if I were walking among pigeons, and I came to the Messenger of Allah . After my returning I began to feel very cold. I told the Messenger of Allah and he gave me to wear a spare cloak of his which he used to pray in. I slept until morning came, and when morning came, the Messenger of Allah said,
(Get up, O sleepy one!)”‘
(When they came upon you from above you) refers to the Confederates,
(and from below you.) We have already noted the report from Abu Hudhayfah that these were Banu Qurayzah.
(and when the eyes grew wild and the hearts reached to the throats,) means, from intense fear and terror.
(and you were harboring doubts about Allah.) Ibn Jarir said: “Some of those who were with the Messenger of Allah , had doubts and thought that the outcome would be against the believers, and that Allah would allow that to happen.” Muhammad bin Ishaq said concerning the Ayah:
(when the eyes grew wild and the hearts reached to the throats, and you were harboring doubts about Allah.) “The believers had all kinds of doubts, and hypocrisy emerged to such an extent that Mu`attib bin Qushayr, the brother of Banu `Amr bin `Awf said: `Muhammad was promising us that we would win the treasure of Chosroes and Caesar, but one of us cannot even go and relieve himself.”‘ Al-Hasan said concerning the Ayah:
(and you were harboring doubts about Allah.) “There were different kinds of thoughts; the hypocrites thought that Muhammad and his Companions would be eliminated, while the believers were certain that what Allah and His Messenger promised was true, and that He would cause the religion to prevail even if the idolators hated it.” Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Abu Sa`id, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “On the day of Al-Khandaq, we said: `O Messenger of Allah, is there anything we should say, for our hearts have reached our throats’ He said:
(Yes, say: O Allah, cover our weak points and calm our fears.) Then Allah struck the faces of the enemy with the wind, and defeated them with the wind. This was also recorded by Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal from Abu `Amir Al-`Aqadi.