Category: Holidays » Islamic holidays
The Battle of Hunayn was fought between Muhammad and his followers against the Bedouin tribe of Hawazin and its subsection the Thaqif in 630 in a valley on one of the roads leading from Mecca to al-Ta'if. The battle ended in a decisive victory for the Muslims, who captured enormous spoils. The Battle of Hunayn is one of only two battles mentioned in the Qur'an by name, in Sura Tawba.
The conquest of Mecca astounded both the Arabs and other tribes. The Hawazins had been long-standing enemies of Meccans. They were located north-east of Mecca and their territory sat beside the trade route to Hira in Iraq. The Hawazins were allied with the Thaqifs of Ta'if which was located south-east of Mecca and whose trade routes ran through Hawazin territory. The alliance had engage in several wars probably concerning trade routes between Ta'if and Mecca. Given this history they saw Muhammad as another powerful Quraish leader who had come to lead his people. They thought among themselves that a war with Muslims was imminent and that the once persecuted minority of Muslims had gained an upper hand against their non-Muslim Arab enemies. Some tribes favoured fighting him and the Muslims.
Ahead of these were the tribes of Hawazin and Thaqif. According to the Muslim scholar Safiur Rahman Mubarakpuri "They thought that they were too mighty to admit or surrender to such a victory". So, they met Malik bin ‘Awf An-Nasri and made up their minds to proceed fighting against the Muslims. Malik persuaded other tribes to fight and gathered them before him. The confederation of tribes consistiing of Nasr, Jusham, Sa‘d bin Bakr, Bani Hilal, Bani 'Amr bin Amir and Bani 'Awf bin Amir gathered at Autas along with the Thaqif and Hawazin.
Muhammad was aware of the strength and the obstinacy of the enemy. Before leaving Mecca, 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, mounted a white mule, which had been presented to him, and moved on behind the army of Islam in the rear guard. Meanwhile, the tribe of Bani Salim arrived in the passage of Hunayn under the command of Khalid ibn al-Walid before the day had yet fully dawned.
The Hawazin and their allies, the Thaqif, began mobilizing their forces when they learnt from their spies that Muhammad and his army had departed from Medina to begin an assault on Mecca. The confederates apparently hoped to attack the Muslim army while it besieged Mecca. Muhammad, however, uncovered their intentions through his own spies in the camp of the Hawazin, and marched against the Hawazin just two weeks after the conquest of Mecca with a force of 12,000 men. Only four weeks had elapsed since quitting Medina.
On Wednesday night, the tenth of Shawwal, the Muslim army arrived at Hunain. Malik bin ‘Awf, who had previously entered the valley by night, gave orders to his army to hide inside the valley and lurk for the Muslims on roads, entrances, and narrow hiding places. His orders to his men were to hurl stones at Muslims whenever they caught sight of them and then to make one-man attacks against them.
When Muslims started camping, arrows began showering intensely at them. Their enemy’s battalions started a fierce attack against the Muslims, who had to retreat in disorder and utter confusion. It is reported that only a few soldiers stayed behind and fought, including Ali bin Abu Talib, the standard bearer, Abbas bin Abdullah, Abu Fadl Al-Abbas, Usamah, and Abi Sufyan bin Hirith.
"Come on, people! I am the Messenger of Allah. I am Muhammad, the son of Abdullah." Then Muhammad said "O, Allah, send down Your Help!", later Muslims’ returned to the Battlefield. Muhammad, then Picking up a handful of earth, he hurled it at their faces while saying: "May your faces be shameful." Their eyes were thick with dust and the enemy began to retreat in utter confusion, according to the Muslim scholar Safi-ur-Rahman Mubarakpuri.
After the enemy was defeated. About seventy men of Thaqif alone were killed, and the Muslims captured all their riding camels, weapons and cattle. Some of the enemies fled, and Muhammad chased after them. Similar battalions chased after other enemies, Rabi‘a bin Rafi‘ caught up with Duraid bin As-Simmah who was an old man and killed him. Durayd was an important asset of the pagan forces due to his great number of experiences in battle and knowledge of terrain and war tactics.
Because Malik ibn Awf al-Nasri had brought the families and flocks of the Hawazin along, the Muslims were able to capture huge spoils. 6,000 prisoners were taken prisoners and 24,000 camels were captured. Some Bedouins fled, and split into two groups. One group went back, resulting in the Battle of Autas, while the larger group found refuge at al-Ta'if, where Muhammad besieged them. William Montgomery Watt remarks that Muhammad took on the role as the hero of Meccans by facing their Bedouin arch-enemies, the Hawazins and the Thaqifs of the city of al-Ta'if. This played a major role in integrating the Meccans into the umma while at the same time setting the stage for Arab tribes to join the Islamic movement.
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