The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

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Chapter 4: The Battle of the Ditch

 Part I: In the Time of the Prophet (SAWS)


Page: 7

The Prophet now decided to use diplomacy to achieve results which were not attainable by force of arms. He started secret negotiations with Uyaina, the commander of the Ghatfan contingent. (Uyaina was a brave and simple soul. A one?eyed man possessing more brawn than brain, he was to earn from the Prophet the nickname of 'the willing fool' 1). The aim of the negotiations was to create a rift between the two major Allies, the Ghatfan and the Quraish-by drawing the Ghatfan away from the siege. If this were achieved, other tribes might also pull away from the Quraish; but even if they did not, the absence of the powerful Ghatfan contingent of 2,000 warriors would reduce the Allied strength to manageable proportions, where after military action could be taken to drive the Allies away from Madinah.

"If the Ghatfan secede from the alliance and return to their homes, they shall be given one?third of the date produce of Madinah", were the terms offered by the Prophet. This offer was accepted by Uyaina who had by now lost all hope of military victory. The pact was drawn up, but before it could be signed and sealed (without which it would not be binding), the Prophet decided to mention the matter to some of the Muslim leaders. These Muslims protested vehemently. "Dates!" they exclaimed. "Let the infidels get nothing from us but the sword!" 2 This disagreement with the Prophet was so general and so strong that he decided to submit to the wishes of the Muslims, and the negotiations were dropped.

These stout hearted Believers could not understand the seriousness of the military situation or the intricacies of diplomacy as well as the Prophet did. He knew that the only solution to the problem lay in breaking the siege by diplomatic manoeuvre, and he now began to look about for another opening. Soon an opening presented itself. Among the Ghatfan was a man by the name of Nuaim bin Masud who had become a Muslim but had kept his conversion a secret. A prominent figure in the region, he was well known to all the three major partners in the alliance-the Quraish, the Ghatfan and the Jews of Bani Quraizah. He was also a very capable man.

Nuaim left the Ghatfan camp one night and slipped into Madinah. He came to the Prophet, explained his position and expressed his desire to be of service to the Muslims. "Send me where you will", he said 3 . This was just the opportunity for which the Prophet had prayed. In a conference with Nuaim the Prophet went over the entire situation and laid down the course of action which Nuaim was to take.

The same night Nuaim stole into the settlement of the Bani Quraizah and visited Kab. He outlined the dangers of the situation as they applied to the Jews. "Your situation is not like the situation of the Quraish and the Ghatfan", he explained. "You have your families and your homes here, while their homes and families are at a safe distance from Madinah. They have no great stake in this battle. If they do not succeed in defeating Muhammad, they will return to their homes and leave you to face the wrath of the Muslims. You must take no action in collaboration with them unless they give you hostages from their best families. Thus you will have an assurance of their good faith."

Nuaim next went to the Quraish and spoke to Abu Sufyan, who knew him well and had respect for his judgement. "You have made a pact", he said, "with a people who are treacherous and unreliable. I have come to know through friends in Madinah that the Bani Quraizah have repented and entered into a fresh pact with Muhammad. To prove their loyalty to Muhammad, they are going to ask you for hostages from your best families, whom they will promptly hand over to Muhammad, who will put them to death. The Jews will then openly come out as allies of the Muslims and both will make a joint attack against us. On no account must you give hostages to the Jews!"

He then went to the Ghatfan where he painted the same picture. By the time Nuaim had finished, the seeds of doubt and discord had been firmly planted in the minds of the Allies.

The uncertainty began to tell on Abu Sufyan, who had relied unquestioningly on the alliance with the Jews. He decided to hasten the course of battle and put the intentions of the Jews to test. During the night of Friday, March 14, following the visit of Nuaim, he sent a delegation headed by Ikrimah to the Bani Quraizah. "This is a terrible situation", explained Ikrimah. "This cannot be allowed to continue any longer. We attack tomorrow. You have a pact with us against Muhammad. You must join in the attack from the direction of your settlement."

1. Ibn Qutaiba: p. 303.
2. Ibn Hisham: Vol. 2, p. 223.
Ibid: Vol. 2, p. 229.