» His Biography » The Battles » The Battle of T'aif
The Battle of T'aif
FUGITIVES OF THAQIF
The warriors of Thaqif who fled from Hunayn returned to Taif. They closed the gates of the city after storing stocks of food enough to serve them for a year. Thus, they prepared themselves in time for another encounter with the Muslims.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) went at once to Taif. After establishing his camp outside the city, he set about besieging it in order to humble the enemy. The siege lingered on for sometime, but the Muslims, whose avenues of entry had already been blocked up by the defenders, were unable to enter Taif. Thaqif combatants were good archers, so that the thick volley of arrows released by them appeared as if they were like swarms of locusts.
SIEGE OF TAIF
As the Muslims camp was just within the range of arrows shot from the rampart of Taif, the Prophet (peace be upon him) transferred it to another side of the city. The siege continued for some twenty-five to thirty nights during which the two opponents fought tooth and nail to get the better of one another as they traded a barrage of arrows. The Prophet , used for the first time catapults in the siege of Taif whose ingress and egress were completely blocked. The arrows shot by the enemy took its toll on the lives of several Muslims. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. II, pp. 478-83)
KINDNESS IN THE BATTLEFIELD
When the siege did not have the desired effect, the Prophet (peace be upon him) threatened to cut down the vineyards of Thaqif. The enemy was extremely perturbed for its economy depended on the fine quality of grapes grown in these vineyards. Thaqif populace begged the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the name of God and their relationship with him to spare their orchards and farms as a whole. Taking pity on the enemy, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, Certainly, I leave it to God and to the kinship between us.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) issued an announcement declaring that if any slave originating from Thaqif came to him from the city, he would be set free. One of the ten or more so slaves who deserted Taif was Abu Bakrah. Later on, he distinguished himself by his profound knowledge of the Traditions. The Prophet (peace be upon him) freed all of them and asked the Muslims to take care of their deeds. However, the people of Taif were greatly irked on the desertion of their slaves. (62)
THE SIEGE RAISED
Allah had not willed the fall of Taif. Umar (radiallahu 'anhu) was asked by the Prophet (peace be upon him) to announce the deferral of the siege and return of the army. Feeling disappointed, some of the people raised an outcry at the sudden order of retreat. They said. Shall we go back without reducing Taif? The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, Alright, mount an attack. They bore down on the enemy but were confronted with losses of lives. Then the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, God willing, we shall return very soon. The people then felt relieved and started making preparations for breaking the camp. The Prophet (peace be upon him) smiled when he saw them returning. (63)
THE SPOIL OF HUNAYN
On his way back from Taif, the Prophet (peace be upon him) stayed over Jirrana with his men. He intended to give an opportunity to the Hawazin to make amends by calling upon him and accepting Islam. Thereafter, he distributed the spoils. The Prophet (peace be upon him) gave out first to those whose hearts were to be won. Abu Sufyan and his two sons Yazid and Muawiya were doled out handsome gifts. Hakim b. al-Hizam, Nadr b. al-Harith, Ala b. al-Haritha and other Qurayshite leaders were treated generously and then every man in the army was awarded his share of the spoils. (64)
LOVE FOR ANSAAR AND THEIR SELFLESSNESS
The Prophet (peace be upon him) partitioned a large portion of the spoils to the Quraysh who had to be reconciled to Islam while the Ansaar was also meted out its petty share. Some of the lads among the Ansaar aired their grievances at the meager gifts turned over to them. The Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered the Ansaar to assemble in an enclosure. Then he delivered an extremely moving speech that tugged at the inner crevices of their hearts and which finally brought them on the verge of tears.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Did I not come to you when you were aberrant and God guided you through me; you were poor and God made you rich; you were divided and He softened your hearts to unite?
The Ansaar replied, Yes, indeed, God and His Prophet (peace be upon him) are most kind and generous.
But, the Prophet (peace be upon him) again queried: O Ansaar, why dont you answer me?
They said, What answer can we give! O Messenger of God, kindness and generosity belongs to God and His Prophet (peace be upon him)."
The Prophet (peace be upon him) continued, Had you wished, you could have said - and verily you would have spoken the truth and I would have acknowledged if you had replied - you came discredited and we believed you; you came deserted and we helped you; you were fugitive and we gave you shelter; you were poor and comforted you.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) then turned to speak out something which expressed the love he had for the Ansaar and, at the same time substantiated the disparity in the distribution of the pillage. He said, do you have some misgivings about me, O Ansaar, because of what I have given to them for the short-lived bloom of this life by which they may become Muslims while I have entrusted you to Islam? The Prophet (peace be upon him) then posed a question which inflamed the Ansaar with love of the Prophet (peace be upon him). He inquired, O Ansaar, are you not satisfied that these men should take away sheep and goats while you go back with the Prophet (peace be upon him) of God? By him who has the life of Muhammad in His hand, what you take back with you would be better than the things with which they would return. Had there been no migration, I would have been one of the Ansaar myself. If all the people go one way in a wadi and the Ansaar take another, I would take the way of the Ansaar. The Ansaar are the undergarment and the others are the overgarments. O Allah, have mercy on the Ansaar, their sons and their sonssons.
All the Ansaar wept until tears rolled down their beards as they said, We are satisfied and happy that the Prophet (peace be upon him) falls to our lot. (65)
A deputation of the Hawazin consisting of fourteen persons called upon the Prophet (peace be upon him). They requested him to take pity on them and return their kinsmen and property. The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, You see the people accompanying me. What I like best is that you come out with the truth. Now tell me, which of the two is dearer to you? Your children and your women or your property?
They replied with one voice, We treasure nothing more than our children and women.
Now, the Prophet (peace be upon him) advised them, Tomorrow morning when I have finished the prayer you get up and say: We ask the Prophet 's (peace be upon him) intercession with the Muslims and the Muslims intercession with the Prophet (peace be upon him) that our children and women be returned to us. When they did as told by the Prophet (peace be upon him) he gave the reply, Whatever was appointed to me and the Bani Abdul Muttalib is yours. To others I make a recommendation for you. Thereupon the Muhajirrin and the Ansaar said, Whatever share has been given to us is passed on to the Prophet (peace be upon him).
The persons belonging to Bani Tamim, Bani Fazara and Bani Sulaym refused to leave their shares. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to them, These fellows have come after accepting Islam. I waited their arrival and gave them choice but preferred nothing to their women and children. Now, if anybody has slaves whom he wants to donate cheerfully, the way is open to him. But if anybody does not want to do so, he may refuse. He who holds a right to such captives shall be given six shares in lieu of each from the first booty Allah grants us.
Everyone replied, We give back our shares cheerfully for the Prophet (peace be upon him)s sake. The Prophet (peace be upon him), however, said, I do not know who among you is contented and who is not. You go back now and your chiefs will tell me correctly about your affairs. All of them returned the captives, women and children, and not one of them decided to retain his share. The Prophet (peace be upon him) also offered a garment to every released captive. (Zad al-Ma'ad, Vol. I, p. 449, Bukhari)
Among the captives rounded up during the battle, the Muslims took Shayma bint Halima Sadiya also into custody. The men taking her captive did not know her although she told them that she was the foster-sister of the Prophet (peace be upon him), they did not pay any heed to her and treated her roughly.
When Shayma was presented before the Prophet (peace be upon him) she said:
O Prophet of God, I am your foster sister. The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked for a proof and she replied, The bite you gave me at my back when I carried you in my hip. The mark is still there. The Prophet (peace be upon him) accepted the proof and stretched out his robe for her to sit on then treated her courteously. He gave her the choice of living with him in affection and honor or going back to her people with presents. She chose to be reunited with her tribe. She accepted Islam and the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave her three bondsmen, a slave girl and some goats. (Zad al-Ma'ad, Vol. I, p. 449)
THE LESSER PILGRIMAGE
After distributing the spoils and captives at Jirrana, the Prophet (peace be upon him) wore the Ihram needed in performing the lesser pilgrimage for this was the place from where the people going for pilgrimage to Mecca from Taif changed into Ihram. After completion of the lesser pilgrimage the Prophet (peace be upon him) returned to Madinah. (Ibn Hisham , Vol. II, p. 500)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) came back to Madinah in Dhul Qada, 8 A.H.(66)
While the forces were returning from Taif, the Prophet of God (peace be upon him) asked the men to recite: We are those who revert and repent and worship and glorify our Lord. Some of the people then asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) to call down evil on Thaqif. The Prophet (peace be upon him) raised his hands to entreat, O Allah! Guide Thaqif on the right path and bring them here.
Urwa b. Masud al-Thaqafi met the Prophet (peace be upon him) while he was on his way back to Madinah. He became a Muslim and returned to his people inviting them to Islam. He was very popular and enjoyed the esteem of his clansmen but when he broke the news that he had accepted Islam, the people turned against him. They shot arrows at him from all directions until one hit him causing his death.
Thaqif held out for a few months after killing Urwa but after taking counsel among them they reached the conclusion that it would be beyond their power to fight all those tribes which had already taken the oath of allegiance at the hands of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Ultimately, they decided to send a deputation to the Prophet (peace be upon him).
NO COMPLAISANCE TO IDOLATRY
When the deputation of Thaqif came to Madinah, a tent was pitched for them in the Prophet s mosque. They requested the Prophet (peace be upon him) not to destroy their chief deity, the idol of al-Lat, for three years. The Prophet (peace be upon him) refused: then continued to reduce the period by one year, but the Prophet (peace be upon him) remained firm in refusing their request until they finally asked for period of one month after they had returned to their homes. The Prophet (peace be upon him) again rejected their request and ordered Abu Sufyan and Mughira b. Shuba al-Thaqafi to destroy al-Lat. Thereafter the Thaqif asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) that they might be excused from offering prayers. To this the Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, Nothing remains of a religion which has no prayer.
Abu Sufyan and Mughira b. Shuba accompanied the deputation of Thaqif when they returned to Taif. Mughira smote al-Lat with a pickax and broke it into pieces. Thereupon, the people of Taif accepted Islam liberating all of them from paganism. (Zad al-Ma'ad, Vol. I, pp.458-59)
KAB B. ZUHAYR ACCEPTS ISLAM
Kab b. Zuhayr paid a visit to the Prophet (peace be upon him) after the latter returned to Medinah from Taif. Kab was a poet whose father had also been a versifier. He had composed many satirical poems ridiculing the Prophet (peace be upon him) but when he fell on evil days, his brother Bujayr wrote to him that he should better go to the Prophet (peace be upon him) as a repentant and a sinner and accept Islam. Kabs brother also warned him of the dire consequences of disregarding his advice. Kab at last, came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and composed the famous panegyric ode praising the Prophet (peace be upon him) beginning with Banat Suad. (Meaning Su'ad has departed)
When Kab came to Medinah he called upon the Prophet (peace be upon him) just after the latter had finished the morning prayers and placed his hands in his. The Prophet (peace be upon him), however, did not know who he was. Kab then said to the Prophet , O Messenger of Allah, Kab b. Zuhary has come as a repentant Muslim and asks for security from you. Will you accept his repentance? One of the Ansaar leapt upon him saying, O Prophet (peace be upon him) of God, let me deal with this enemy of God. I will now cut off his head. But the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked him to leave Kab alone since he had come repentant of his past deeds. It was then that Kab recited the well-known ode beginning with the verses.
Suad is gone, and today my heart is love-lorn; Enthralled, put in chain, no blood wit coming to unrein.
Then, in another verse he praised the Prophet (peace be upon him) thus:
Indeed the Messenger is a light whence illumination is sought; A drawn, sharp-edged sword, the sword of Allah.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) gave away his robe to Kab when he recited these verses. (67)