The Battle of Hunayn

The Battle of Hunayn
The Battle of Hunayn

It was the usual practice with the Prophet that whenever he conquered a region, he personally looked after its political troubles and the religious matters of its inhabitants, so long as he remained there, and as and when he departed that place he appointed there appropriate persons on various positions . Its cause was that the people of these areas , who were acquainted with the old and wound-up systems, did not own information about the system which had displaced it.

Islam is a social, moral, political and religious system, its laws emit from inspiration, and acquainting people with these laws and their execution amongst them needs distinguished, ripe and educated persons, who should teach them proper rules of Islam cleverly and should also enforce Islamic system amongst them.

When the Prophet determined to depart Makkah for the territories of the tribes of Hawazin and Saqif, he designated Mu'az bin Jabal as a guide to teach and educate the people and entrusted the government and administration of the city and imamate (leading prayers) in the mosque to 'Atab bin Usayd, who was a qualified person. After staying in Makkah for fifteen days the Prophet proceeded to the land of Hawazin tribe.1

An Matchless Army
On that day the Prophet had twelve thousand armed soldiers under his standard. Out of them ten thousand were those, who had escorted him from Madina and had participate in the conquest of Makkah, and the other two thousand were from amongst Quraysh, who had embraced Islam lately .

The order of this group rested with Abu Sufyan.

In those days such an army was hardly found anywhere and this numeral force of theirs became the reason of their initial defeat. It was because, contrary to the past, they prided themselves on the huge number of their soldiers and ignored the military tactics and rules of war.

When Abu Bakr's eyes fell on the huge number of men he said: "We shan't at all be defeated, because our soldiers far outnumber those of the foe''.2 He did not, however, pay attention to this reality that numeral superiority is not the only factor for triumph and in fact this factor is of little significance .

The Holy Qur'an itself states this fact and says:

Allah has helped you on many occasions including the day of Hunayn. When you were glad with the number of your men who proved to be of no aid to you and the whole vast earth looked to have no place to hide you (from your enemies) and you returned in retreat (Surah al-Tawbah, 9:25)

Acquisition Of Information
After the conquest of Makkah great excitation and enthusiasm could be seen in the regions inhabited by the tribes of Hawazin and Saqif. Special contacts existed between them. The connecting linkage  between them was a warfare  like person named Malik bin 'Awf Nasri.

The consequence of their mutual contacts was that before the Islamic army could pay attention to them they themselves came up to encounter it, so that, before the Muslims stirred , they themselves should strike them hard by military tactics. They also selected from amongst them a thirty year old brave and courageous man to act as their leader.

Besides the aforesaid two tribes, the tribes of Bani Hilal, Nasr and Jasham also took part in this battle and all of them came up as a single striking army.

As ordered by the chief leader, all those who took part in the battle, stationed their women and retinue, behind the rear of the army. When he was asked about the reason for this decision he said: "These men will stay steadfast in their fighting to save their women and property and will not at all think of combat or retreat''.3

When Durayd bin Sammah, an old man and an experienced fighter , heard the wailings of the women and the children, he quarrelled with Malik, and, considering this act of his to be wrong from the point of view of rules of warfare, said to him:

"The consequence of this action will be that if you are conquered you will be surrendering all your women and property to the force of Islam gratuitously". Malik did not pay heed to the words of this expert soldier and said: "You have grown old and have lost your proverb and knowledge of military tactics".

However, the later events proved that the old man was right and the existence of women and children in a sphere of operation in which one has to strike and run proved to be of no use, except that the soldiers got involved in difficulties and their activities were hindered.

The Prophet sent Abdullah Aslami incognito to gather information about the equipment, intentions and itinerary of the foe . He roamed about in the entire army of the enemy, gathered the substantial information and put it at the disposal of the Prophet. Malik, too, sent three spies towards the Muslims in a private manner so that they might bring the substantial information for him. They, however, went back to Malik with their hearts full of awe and terror.

The leader of the foe army decided to make amends for the numeral inferiority and weak morale of his soldiers by means of a military trick, i.e. by making a surprise assault , create bewilderment among the army of Islam so that the discipline of their units might be torn and the schemes of their high order might be depressed .

To fulfill this end, he encamped at the end of the pass which directed to the area of Hunayn. He then commanded all the soldiers to hide themselves behind the stones, the rocks and gaps of the mountains and at elevated places around the pass, and as soon as the army of Islam reached in this deep and lengthy pass, all of them should come out of their places of hiding and attack the units of Islam with arrows and stones. Thereafter, a special group should descend from the mountains in an orderly manner and placed the Muslims to sword under the cover of their archers.

Equipment Of The Muslims
The Prophet was aware of the force and the obstinacy of the foe . Before leaving Makkah, therefore, he called Safwan bin Umayyah and borrowed one hundred coats of mail from him and guaranteed its return. He personally put on two coats of mail, put a helmet on his head, rode a white mule, which had been given to him, and moved on behind the force of Islam.

The army of Islam rested at night at the mouth of the pass and the day had not yet dawned entirely when the tribe of Bani Salim reached in the passage of Hunayn under the order of Khalid bin Walid.

When a essential part of the army of Islam was still in the pass, a abrupt noise of the buzzing of the arrows and roaring of the fighters , who were sitting in ambush behind the rocks, was heard and it created a strange terror and horror among the Muslims. Arrows were being showered upon them and a group of the foe assaulted them under the preservation of the archers.

This abrupt assault terrified the Muslims so much that they started to flee  and created, more than the foe itself, disorder and disruption among their ranks. These advances were a origin of great delight for the hypocrites present in the army of Islam, so much so that Abu Sufyan said: "Muslims will run up to the coast of the sea".

Another hypocrite said: "The magic has been counteracted". A third from amongst them decided to do away with Islam in that confused state of affairs by murdering the Prophet and thus devastated the belief of the Oneness of Allah and the Prophethood of Islam lock, stock, and barrel.

The Steadfastness Of The Prophet And Of A Group Of Self-Sacrificing Persons
The Prophet was disturbed immensely by the flight of his friends which was the main cause of all the alarm and disorder, and felt that if matters were allowed to take their own course, even for a moment longer, the pivot of history would be different, humanity would change its course and the armies of polytheism would beat down the army of monotheism. While mounting his mule, therefore, he said loudly: "O supporters of Allah and His Prophet! I am the servant of Allah and His Prophet".

He uttered this sentence and then turned his mule towards the battleground  which was occupied by Malik's men, who had already murdered some Muslims and were busy murdering others. A group of self-sacrificing persons like Ali, the leader of the Faithful, Abbas, Fadl bin Abbas, Usamah and Abi Sufyan bin Harith, who had not left him alone and unprotected ever since the battle degan , also proceeded along with him.4

The Prophet asked his uncle Abbas, who had a very loud voice, to call back the Muslims in this manner: "O Ansar, who helped the Prophet! O you who took the oath of allegiance to the Prophet under the tree of Paradise! Where are you going? The Prophet is here!"

The words of Abbas arrived the ears of the Muslims and motivating their religious zeal and fervour. All of them answered instantly by saying, Labbayk! Labbayk (Here am I! Here am I!) and returned courageously towards the Prophet.

The repeated call by Abbas, which gave the good tidings of the Prophet's safety, made the fleeing men return to the Prophet with a specific regret and remorse and made them reorganize their rows. In compliance with the commands of the Prophet and also to obliterate the disgraceful stain of desertion, the Muslims launched a general assault and compelled the foes , in a very short time, to retreat or run away .

In order to encourage the Muslims the Prophet was saying: "I am the Prophet of Allah and never tell a lie and Allah has promised me victory". This war tactics made the warriors of Hawazin and Saqif run away to the area of Autas and Nakhlah and to the forts of Ta'if leaving behind their women and retinue and a number of those killed in the battle.

War Booty
In this battle the casualties of the Muslims were huge , but the biographers have not mentioned the number of those murdered .

The Muslims, however, stood to acquire and the foes fled leaving behind six thousand captives, twenty four thousand camels, forty thousand sheep and four thousand Waqih5 of silver. The Prophet ordered that all the men and the entire property should be taken to Ji'ranah. He also appointed some men to keep a watch. The captives were kept in a specific house and the Prophet commanded that the complete booty should stay there as it was, till he went back from Ta'if.

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