Hardships Endured at Handak

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What are the difficulties encountered in handak?

It was winter. The idolaters had now besieged Medina from all sides. But they were stunned and frustrated from the trenches they had unexpectedly encountered. They could not pass through.

Once the idolaters encamped on the fringes of the town, the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- made a swift move to the trenches, accompanied by three-thousand Companions. Abdullah ibn Umm Maqtum -Allah be well-pleased with him- was left deputy in Medina. Taking Mount Sal behind him, the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- set up his camp on the outskirts of the mountain, ordering the women and children be left behind in the inner part of the town to be placed in forts.[1] Children who had not yet turned fifteen were sent back to the forts next to their families, while the likes of Ibn Omar, Zayd ibn Thabit and Bara ibn Azib, fifteen at the time, were allowed to remain.[2]

The Jews of Banu Kurayza, meanwhile, officially revolted in the town, breaching for the second time their pact with the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-. This was their second betrayal, leaving the Muslims in a terrible crossfire. The Jews sent a message to Abu Sufyan, insisting him to “…hold on, for we will strike the Muslims from behind and annihilate them!”[3]

This Prophet of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- was deeply insulted by the Jewish betrayal. Still, he had unshakable trust in the Almighty, murmuring, even at such dire times:

Hasbunallah wa ni’mal-wakil: Allah is sufficient for us and the Most Excellent Protector!” (Waqidi, II, 457; Ibn Sad, II, 67)

The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- then asked for a volunteer to go to Banu Qurayza and see whether there was any truth to what he had heard.

“I will go”, said Zubayr ibn Awwam -Allah be well-pleased with him- and went.

Once the situation got really precarious, the Prophet of Allah  -upon him blessings and peace-, again, sent Zubayr ibn Awwam, again and again, to see if the Jews had gotten their acts together. He later expressed his satisfaction of the precious services of Zubayr -Allah be well-pleased with him- with the compliment, “Every prophet has a messenger…and my messenger is Zubayr!” (Ahmad, III, 314)

The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- then sent an envoy to the Banu Qurayza, advising them to “Go and see whether what we have heard is true. If true, then inform me in an indirect way. Do not say it directly and thereby cast fear into people’s hearts and send them into despair! But if they are true to our pact you can then openly announce it!”

The envoy ended up finding Banu Qurayza in a far more tumultuous state of mutiny than they had heard. (Ibn Hisham, III, 237)

The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- deployed two-hundred Companions under the command of Salamah ibn Aslam -Allah be well-pleased with him- and a further three-hundred under Zayd -Allah be well-pleased with him- in Medina, as a preventative measure against a possible attack on the town by the Jews. They were to stand guard inside the town and patrol the streets calling out Allah’u Akbar.[4]

The Believers used to breathe a sigh of relief when finding out, at the dawn of each night, that another day had broken without a Banu Qurayza raid.

“Our fear on behalf of our women and children in Medina over a raid by Banu Qurayza”, later professed Abu Bakr -Allah be well-pleased with him-, “was greater than our fear of Quraysh and the Ghatafan. Time and again I used to climb to the top of Mount Sal and gaze at the houses in Medina; and seeing them in peace and quiet, I used to thank and praise Allah.” (Waqidi, II, 460)

Umm Salamah -Allah be well-pleased with her- utters similar words:

“I was present with the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- at many heated and fearsome battles like Muraysi, Khaybar, the Conquest of Mecca and Hunayn. None of those were more troublesome and alarming for the Messenger of Allah than Handak. We were never at ease about Banu Qurayza raiding our women and children.” (Waqidi, II, 467)

Meanwhile, the idolaters on the other side of the trenches were making frequent attempts to cross over, which saw the clashes ensue until late at night, with the Blessed Prophet’s -upon him blessings and peace- tent even becoming the target of a fair share of arrows.

The idolaters, one day, waged an all-out attack on where the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- had encamped; and because of these ensuing assaults, the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- and the Companions could not find a moments opportunity to offer their zuhr and asr salats. Around nightfall, when the idolaters at long last retreated, the Noble Messenger -upon him blessings and peace- asked Bilal -Allah be well-pleased with him- to call out the adhan. With a qamat recited for every salat, the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- then lead the Companions in each of those salats they could not offer on time.[5] Deeply upset by this, the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- sent the following ill-wishes to the idolaters who held him back from offering salat, a deed he had called the ‘light of my eye’:

“Just as they kept us preoccupied and held us back from offering salat until sunset, may Allah fill their houses, bellies and graves with fire!” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 29; Ibn Sad, II, 68-69; Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah, IV, 112)

[1] Ibn Hisham, III, 235.[2] Waqidi, II, 453.[3] Abdurrazzaq, V, 368.[4] Ibn Saad, II, 67.[5] The incident is an evidence for qada salat, that is being able to perform later the salats left unperformed on time.

Source: Osman Nuri Topbaş, The Prophet Muhammed Mustafa the Elect II, Erkam Publications

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