A Page from the Life of the Prophet [Muhammad (pbuh)]
Fighting with Hawazin and Saqif
by Maulvi Mustafa Khan, B.A.
The Light (Pakistan), 1st September 1922 Issue (Vol. 1, No. 18, pp. 2–3)
The victory of Mecca [Makkah] completed the triumph of Islam, and the truth of the Holy Prophet [pbuh] was established. The power of the Quraish was broken, and the wild children of the desert, who closely watched the struggle of the new faith with dubious feelings of success and failure, now realising the strength of Islam, readily embraced the new religion of their own free will.
Yet the fire of jealousy, which was long smouldering in the hearts of Hawazin and Saqif, the two famous tribes of the Arabs celebrated for their martial spirit and military strength, was now fanned into a big flame, which once more threatened the destruction of the Muslim commonwealth.
These two tribes were making rapid and formidable preparations for an onslaught on the Muslim world, even before the victory of Mecca, because they clearly saw that the progress of Islam was undermining their aristocratic position. The victory of Mecca all the more aggravated their fury, and they were determined to lose no time in making an attack on the Muslims.
They had already enlisted the sympathies of some of the Arab tribes, who joined with them. Thus, a huge army consisting of the various regiments of the Arab tribes was formed and led against the Muslims. The wives and the children of the soldiers were also taken to the battlefield in order to rouse their heroic passions.
When the Holy Prophet [pbuh] heard of this, he was very upset. The Muslims were quite unprepared. They had no money, no provisions, and no arms. But the defence was indispensable. Therefore, the Prophet [pbuh] at once made preparations for it. A loan of 30,000 dirhams was taken from Abdulla bin Rabia, a wealthy man of Mecca, in order to purchase provisions for the Muslim soldiers, while Safwan bin Ummayya, another gentleman who had not yet embraced Islam, was good enough to lend arms to the Prophet [pbuh].
Thus, an ill-fed and ill-equipped army of twelve thousand men had to face the well-equipped and adequately rationed forces of Hawazin and Saqif. Both armies met at Hunain, a deep narrow defile about ten miles to the north-east of Mecca. The result was that the Muslims were routed in the first onset and the Holy Prophet [pbuh] was left alone. The enemy was showering a rain of arrows on the Prophet [pbuh], who even in that critical moment, said aloud:
“I am the Prophet; it is not a lie.”
These words infused the Muslims with confidence and hope. The routed army turned back and fell upon the enemy with unabated fury. A pitched battle was fought, and the idolatrous were eventually defeated with heavy losses. The Holy Quran thus describes the victory:
“Certainly Allah helped you in many battlefields and on the day of Hunain, when your great numbers made you vain, but they availed you nothing and the earth became strait to you notwithstanding its spaciousness, then you turned back retreating. Then Allah sent tranquillity upon His Apostle and upon the believers, and sent down hosts which you did not see, and chastised those who disbelieved, and that is the reward of the unbelievers” (The Holy Quran, 9:25–27).
The retreated enemy sought refuge in Autas [Awtas] and Taif. Fears of a fresh attack on the Muslims were generally entertained, and the Holy Prophet [pbuh], in order to ensure the safety of his people, had to lay siege to Taif, which now had become the stronghold of the enemy. The siege lasted for twenty days, after which it was raised, because it was discovered that the enemy had no intention to renew the offensive.