The Battle of Hunayn

The Arab tribes were awaiting the settlement of the conflict between the Quraysh and the Muslims, before accepting Islam, saying: 'If Muhammed prevails over his people, he would indeed be a Prophet.' Consequently, when that was accomplished, they began to enter Islam in throngs. This shocked the pagan idolaters, who organised a great gathering near Ta'if to concert plans for attacking God's Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings. The Hawazin and the Thaqif tribes, who were famous for courage and throwing arrows, took the lead and prepared a great expedition for Makka. Informed of their movements through 'Abd Allah ibn Hadrad, whom he had sent to them, God's Messenger left Makka with 12,000 Muslims, among whom there was a confident enthusiasm due to the new conversions numbering 2,000. In order to protect Makka from an attack and consolidate the belief of new Muslims by healing their wounded feelings, God's Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, did not want to meet the enemy within the confines of Makka.

The battle was joined at Hunayn, a valley between Makka and Ta'if. The new converts in the Muslim ranks had more enthusiasm than wisdom, more a spirit of elation than of faith and confidence in the righteousness of their cause. The enemy had the advantage of knowing the ground thoroughly. They laid an ambush in which the advance guard of the Muslim forces was caught or intentionally pushed by God's Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, who might have planned to draw the enemy in under the guise of retreat. However, the retreat was in confusion, under a shower of enemy arrows. The Prophet, as ever, was calm in his faith and wisdom in that hour of danger and spurred his horse forward. His uncle 'Abbas was on his right and Fadl, the son of Abbas, on his left. While Abu Sufyan ibn al-Harith was trying to stop him, he was crying: Now war has been kindled. I am the Prophet, that is no lie. I am the descendant of 'Abd al-Muttalib. (1)

'Abbas called out at the top of his voice: 'Companions who made the pledge of allegiance under the acacia tree!' (2) There- upon, from all sides the Companions responded 'Labbayk' (at your service!), and rallied to the Prophet. The enemy, who had pushed themselves into the centre of the Muslim army, were surrounded from all sides. The courage, wisdom and steadfastness of God's Messenger changed a seeming defeat into a decisive victory. It was by God's help that the Muslims won the day. They completed the victory with an energetic pursuit of the enemies, capturing their camps, their flocks and herds, and their families, whom they had boastfully brought with them in expectation of an easy victory.

The routed enemy took refuge in Ta'if. The Muslim victory persuaded the desert tribes to accept Islam and shortly thereafter the rebel tribes and Ta'if also surrendered and entered Islam.

1. Bukhari, Jihad, 52; Muslim,Jihad, 78.
2. I. Kathir, 4.373.
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