29. Bani Nadeer expulsions and the trench.
The cold-blooded massacre of two groups of Muslims was a horrific crime against Islam. They had been invited by the tribes on a mission of education and peace but had been ambushed on route. They were unarmed and had no intention of fighting whilst their attackers wanted to take advantage of their kind nature by massacring them all.
During these events, ‘Amr Bin Omaiyah survived and made his way back to Madina. On route, he murdered two Arabs from the tribe of ambushers although they had not taken part in the fighting. This meant that blood money would need to be paid by the community of Madina to the tribe of Bani Kalib. This is a form of compensation for the lives that are taken wrongly or mistakenly.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and a few of his companions set off to meet Bani Nadeer to collect a share of the blood money. They had a treaty that if blood money needed to be paid by either party, they would work together to raise this money. Both parties had signed this treaty and this was the first time that this step had to be taken.
The Bani Nadeer invited Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his companions into their homes, which was in a fortified part of Madina. They listened to the Prophet (pbuh) as he explained what happened and the need for this money to be raised. They then asked the Prophet (pbuh) to remain seated near the wall whilst they went upstairs to discuss this amongst themselves.
The leaders already knew the details of the treaty well and that they were obliged to pay this money. However, this was an opportunity for the Jews to rid Madina of Muhammad (pbuh); after all Muhammad (pbuh) wasn’t armed and only had a few companions with him. They thought that it would take little effort to attack the Prophet (pbuh) and put an end to Islam.
The leader of Bani Nadeer hatched a plan where they would throw a large millstone on the Prophet (pbuh) as he rested against the wall. This would be certain death for the Prophet (pbuh) who was the spiritual leader of the Muslims. Just as they had agreed to the plan and were ready to put it into action , the Prophet (pbuh) got up and without saying a word, walked away and headed towards his own house.
The Jews became worried and asked his companions why the Prophet (pbuh) had left is such a hurry. This also confused the companions and they replied that they too did not know.
The Prophet (pbuh) returned to the Muslim area of Madina and revealed to the Muslims what had happened. He told them that the Angel Jibrael had revealed to him the details of an assassination plot by Bani Nadeer and that’s why he had left in such a hurry from there. The Muslims were all horrified, especially because this was treachery of the highest order. This went against the code of conduct of the Arabs and against all their treaties and agreements.
A message was sent to Bani Nadeer to leave Madina for this was an act of treachery and breaking of the treaty. The Muslims waited patiently for the reply from Bani Nadeer, the answer to which could either mean a war between them both or Bani Nadeer leaving Madina.
Bani Nadeer had already decided that they would surrender and leave Madina. They had made the mistake and broken the treaty with the Muslims. They were in the wrong. However, Abdullah ibn Ubaya, the leader of the hypocrites told Bani Nadeer that he would support them along with many of his followers. If needed they would come to their rescue with hundreds of fighters along with other Jewish tribes such as Bani Quraizah.
The Jews began to rethink their situation. They had a great advantage because their quarters were fortified and any enemy would find it difficult to attack them. Bani Nadeer was also well-armed and were experienced fighters through the many battles they had fought in the past. They now had the backing of many allies who would help them if fighting broke out. They decided that they would stay and fight the Muslims.
This message was sent to the Prophet (pbuh) and he ordered the Muslims to gather their forces and march onto Bani Nadeer. When this command was given, the Muslims immediately rushed to prepare for war and before very long they were ready to march. The Muslims began their march to Bani Nadeer through the streets of Madina. When the Muslims reached Bani Nadeer they found that the Jews had fortified their position and were also ready for battle.
Bani Nadeer attacked the Muslims by shooting arrows and throwing rocks at them from their forts. The Muslims were in a very weak position and the trees that surrounded Bani Nadeer’s forts, were a nuisance which prevented them from counter attacking. Despite this, the Muslims fought bravely and counter attacked as best as they could.
The command was given to cut down the trees and Bani Nadeer were under siege with many small skirmishes between both parties. As the week dragged on, Bani Nadeer became worried, especially since there were no signs of the promised reinforcements from the hypocrites and other tribes. Allah put fear inside their hearts and soon Bani Nadeer wanted an end to this siege. The siege had only lasted for a few days and there were very few casualties from either side.
A peace deal was decided and Bani Nadeer were banished from Madina. They were allowed to carry their wealth upon their camels with the exception of weapons. Bani Nadeer took their wealth and left Madina never to return. They settled in Syria and made a fresh start there. A few of them settled inside other Jewish communities in Arabia.
This battle had only lasted a few days but Madina was rid of this troublesome tribe who had caused so much friction amongst the people of Madina. There was now peace and everyone was happy with the outcome.
After this battle, some Bedouins and other tribes would start amassing troops to attack Madina. However, the Prophet (pbuh) would dispatch some men who would dispel these small groups of rebels and troublemakers.
The Muslims camped at Badr for a few days before returning as champions, even though no fighting had taken place. Badr was famous for their markets and during their stay the Muslims managed to do plenty of business. This had been a highly successful expedition for the Muslims, which left the Makkans even more hell-bent on attacking the Muslims.
Peace was restored in Madina and the Muslims lived in harmony with the freedom to follow their Deen. However, this was not the end of this episode as a delegation of Jews travelled to Makkah to encourage them to raise another army to fight the Muslims. They offered their full support in such an attack as well as promises of many more tribes joining them. The Makkans already had a score to settle with the Muslims and were very eager to join this campaign.
This delegation travelled far and wide, encouraging many other tribes to join them in this final showdown with the Muslims. Soon the foundations were laid for the biggest army seen in Arabia to descend upon Madina. At a secret time, all the armies would meet in a location just outside Madina and then attack the Muslims. They also had the advantage of a surprise attack, which would mean that the Muslims wouldn’t have time to make preparations to defend themselves.
As the Makkans started making preparation to mobilize their forces, news of this impending invasion was sent to the Prophet (pbuh). The Prophet (pbuh) quickly called a meeting of the prominent Muslims to consult tactics against such a huge army. This army was bigger and better armed than anything they had ever faced before. This was the biggest army the Muslims had ever seen and indeed the biggest army that had been raised in Arabia.
After much discussion, Salman Farsi suggested that a trench be dug between the two armies. It would be at a strategic point which would prevent the army attacking the Muslims. Madina was well protected from three sides by mountains and forts of the different tribes in Madina. The trench would only need to be dug on the north side, which would be enough to defend Madina.
The Muslims immediately put this plan into action as they quickly began assigning different jobs out amongst themselves. They divided themselves into groups of ten with each group digging one section of the trench. It had to be wide and deep enough so that the army could not penetrate it. This in itself was no easy task in such a short time. It would require hard work from all quarters of the Muslim community for the trench to be completed on time.
The Muslims hurried and started work with the hope of finishing the trench before the enemy arrived. They had news that the armies had already begun the long march to Madina and would be there in a matter of days. The work was very difficult but the Muslims put their heart into it, working through the hot midday sun and long into the night.
During the digging of the trenches, even the Prophet (pbuh) was involved in the hard work of labour. He would dig the trench as well as carry the sand and rocks on his shoulders. The Muslims struggled on, even though there was a shortage of food and other supplies.
In one incident, a companion complained to the Prophet about the extreme hunger he was suffering. He showed the Prophet (pbuh) that he had tied a rock to his stomach to subdue the pain of hunger. The Prophet (pbuh) also lifted his shirt and revealed to him that he had two rocks tied to his stomach. The Prophet (pbuh) was suffering like the rest of his companions as well as working shoulder to shoulder with them.
One of the companions, Jabir bin Abdullah, invited the Prophet (pbuh) to join him in a meal of meat and barley. There must have been enough food for about ten people. The Prophet (pbuh) invited the rest of the Muslims. Jabir watched in astonishment as group after group of people came and ate from the same food. When everyone had eaten their fill, he noticed that the food remained the same as if no one had eaten it. This was a miracle of the Prophet (pbuh).
A similar incident took place when a lady brought some dates to the Prophet (pbuh). The Prophet (pbuh) spread the dates out over a cloth and asked the people to eat from them. Before long, the cloth was overflowing with dates and all the Muslims managed to eat from this blessed food.
During the digging of the trench, one group of diggers came across a problem which they could not solve. A huge boulder prevented them from digging any further and despite their best efforts; they could not move it nor break it. They called upon the Prophet (pbuh) to come and advise them.
The Prophet (pbuh) took a pickaxe and hit the rock with all his might three times before it broke into tiny pieces. On each strike, there was a spark and the Prophet (pbuh) said a few words. When the people asked the Prophet about this. He explained that after the first strike, he had seen the palaces of sham which meant that the Muslims would conquer Syria. After the second strike he had seen the palaces of Persia which meant the Muslims would conquer Persia. After the Third strike, the Prophet (pbuh) saw the gates of Sana which meant that the Muslims would conquer Yemen.
These visions were like prophecies that foretold some of the many successes the Muslims would achieve in the future. Despite the fact that the Muslim numbers were small and they were facing a formidable army, the Muslims were pleased with these glad tidings.
The trench was finally completed as the huge armies of the Kuffar approached Madina. Would the trench prevent the Army from attacking the Muslims or would this be a minor obstacle for this huge army? Would the Muslims be able to last a long siege, even though their supplies were low and many were suffering from hunger? How would the Hypocrites fare in the battle? Would they double cross the Muslims like at Uhud or would they stand and fight with their Muslim comrades? Would the Bani Quraizah honour the treaty between them and the Muslims by defending against the enemies or would they let them into Madina through their forts?
These were all compelling questions that were running through the minds of the Muslims as they faced this huge army sitting by their doorstep, ready to attack them. The Muslims had been promised victory even though the Arab army was equally confident of victory. The outcome of this battle will be revealed next time, Insha’Allah.