The Battle of Handak

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What happened in battle of handak? What is battle of handak?

Driven solely by the aim of wiping the Islamic State of Medina off the face of history, the Battle of Handak was perhaps the most horrific war the idolaters ever waged on Muslims.

Some notables of the expelled Banu Nadir had taken refuge in the forts of Khaybar, ablaze with feelings of vengeance. They offered to join forces with Quraysh. Not only that, they even assured the idolaters that the idolatry they practiced was far more superior to Islam, upon which Allah, glory unto Him, declared:

“Have you not seen those to whom a portion of the Book has been given? They believe in idols and false deities and say of those who disbelieve: These are better guided in the path than those who believe. Those are they whom Allah has cursed, and whomever Allah curses you shall not find any helper for him.” (an-Nisa, 51-52)[1]

Already anticipating the smallest opportunity to come by, the idolaters were quick to act upon the offer made by the Jews. Many idolater tribes in Arabia had already been encouraged by the Muslim setback at Uhud, much to the delight of Quraysh, who made the most of this widespread enthusiasm and garnered an army of more than ten-thousand.[2]

The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, aware that the allied army were preparing themselves to march on Medina, discussed the urgent matter with the Companions, guaranteeing them victory, so long as they refrained from rebelling against the commands of Allah, glory unto Him, and were prepared to endure the hardships that may come in His way. The Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- moreover commanded them to obey Allah and His Messenger under all circumstances.

The Noble Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- was then inspired by the Almighty to dig trenches around Medina. He thereupon asked the Companions whether it would be better to face the enemy outside of Medina or dig trenches around the town and defend her from within.

“In Persia, Messenger of Allah”, said Salman -Allah be well-pleased with him-, “we used to dig trenches around our town when expecting an enemy raid!”

The words of Salman -Allah be well-pleased with him-, an affirmation of the Blessed Prophet’s -upon him blessings and peace- advice, were overall accepted by the Muslims.[3] They furthermore remembered the Prophet’s -upon him blessings and peace- desire to remain in the town during Uhud and wage a defensive war. So they wholeheartedly agreed on digging trenches around Medina.

Only from one side was Madina accessible and prone to be attacked. The rest of the sides were covered with houses connected to one another, much like a castle. Gaps were few and far between and were anyhow densely covered with date trees, rendering any effort of trespassing impossible. The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- therefore decided that the trenches should be dug only on that open side. Assigning a group of ten Companions to each of the allocated sections along the line between the Shaykhayn Castles to Mazad, the Prophet of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- told them the exact scope he wanted the trenches to be dug.[4]

The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- labored personally during the digging, even tying a stone around his abdomen to curb his hunger, owing to the shortage of food that arose at the time.[5]Still, the Prophet of Mercy -upon him blessings and peace- was expressing only gratitude to his Lord.

Bara ibn Azib -Allah be well-pleased with him- narrates:

“I saw the Messenger of Allah carry soil with us on the day of Ahzab,[6] uttering at the same time a poem of Abdullah ibn Rawaha:

‘Allah, had it not been for Your guidance, we could neither have given charity nor have offered salat. Allah, engulf us in serenity when we encounter the enemy; let not our feet slip. They are the ones assailing us…when they wish to push us into tribulation we will press forth and not flee!’

And when saying abayna (press forth, not flee), he was raising his voice.” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 29)

The Companions were in such strife that they could not even feed themselves. Anas -Allah be well-pleased with him- provides a vivid description of their ordeal:

“A handful of barley would be brought, which, after being cooked with some outdated butter, would be put in front of the Companions to eat. Despite of the enormity of their hunger, it was impossible for each person not to taste the hardness and foul taste of the butter. The food would carry a heavy and unpleasant odor.” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 29)

All Muslims, young and old, were taking part in digging the trenches. Zayd ibn Thabit -Allah be well-pleased with him-, a fifteen year old kid at the time, had at one stage fallen asleep on the duty. The Companions around him meanwhile had left him lying asleep on the fringe of the trenches. As a joke, Umarah ibn Hazm -Allah be well-pleased with him- took his weapons and hid them. Waking up to see that his weapons had gone missing, Zayd panicked. Hearing this, the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- called Zayd next to him and said:

“You fell asleep, sleeper, and your weapons vanished!” After that the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- asked, “Does anybody know the whereabouts of this kid’s weapons?”

“I know, Messenger of Allah”, said Umarah -Allah be well-pleased with him-, “they are with me!”

The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- then asked Umarah to return the weapons to Zayd and prohibited from frightening Muslims, even as a joke, and hiding any of their belongings. (Waqidi, II, 448)

[1] See, Wahidi, p. 160.[2] See, Waqidi, II, 444; Ibn Saad, II, 66.[3] Ibn Hisham, III, 231; Waqidi, II, 445.[4] Tabari, Târîh, II, 568; Diyarbakri, I, 482.[5] Bukhari, Maghazi, 29.[6] Being a joint effort by numerous tribes who combined forces to assail the Believers, the Battle of Handak has also been called Ahzab, meaning clans or coalition.

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

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