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: 8

The Jews hummed and hawed for a while and then came out with their terms. "Our position is more delicate than yours. If you have no success you may abandon us, and then we will be left alone to face the wrath of Muhammad. To make sure that this does not happen, you must give us hostages from your best families who will stay with us until the battle has been fought to a satisfactory conclusion. Anyway, tomorrow is Saturday and Jews are forbidden to fight on the Sabbath. Those who break the Sabbath are turned by Allah into pigs and monkeys." Ikrimah returned empty?handed. Abu Sufyan then decided to make one more attempt at persuading the Jews to join battle on the morrow, and sent another delegation to Kab; but the stand of the two sides remained the same:

Quraish: No hostages; fight tomorrow!

Jews: No fighting on the Sabbath; anyway, hostages first!

All three groups now said, "Nuaim was right. How wise he was in his advice to us!" 1 Nuaim had done his work well. The Bani Quraizah had been neatly detached from the alliance.

The next morning, Saturday, March 15, Khalid and Ikrimah, tiring of the delay and seeing no hope of concerted action by the Allies, decided to take matters into their own hands and try to force a decision one way or another. They moved forward with their cavalry squadrons to a place just west of Zubab, where the ditch was not as wide as in other places and where it could be cleared on horseback or by men scrambling across on foot. This place was right in front of the Muslim camp, which nestled at the foot of Sil'a.

Ikrimah's squadron moved up first and a small group jumped the ditch, the horses landing neatly on the Muslim side. There were seven men in the group, including Ikrimah and an enormous man who urged his enormous horse ahead of the group and began to survey the Muslims, who were surprised by the sudden appearance of the Quraish. The stage was now set for one of the most remarkable duels of history, which, because of its unusual course, is here described in full detail.

This huge man was of a tremendous height and bulk, and while on his feet would tower above his fellow men. Sitting on his great horse, he looked positively unreal. Big, strong and fearless, he had a fierce countenance-an aspect which thrilled his comrades and dismayed his enemies.

This was Amr bin Abdu Wud. (We shall call him the Giant!) Horse and rider stood motionless as he let his gaze wander scornfully over the ranks of the Muslims.

Suddenly the Giant raised his head and roared, "I am Amr bin Abdu Wud. I am the greatest warrior in Arabia. I am invincible. I... I. . ." He certainly had a high opinion of himself. "Is there anyone among you who has the courage to meet me in personal combat?"

The challenge was received by the Muslims in silence. They looked at one another. They looked at the Holy Prophet. But no one moved, for the Giant was famous for his strength and skill, and though wounded several times, had never yet lost a duel, nor spared an opponent. It was said that he was equal to 500 horsemen; that he could lift a horse bodily and hurl it to the ground; that he could pick up a calf with his left hand and use it as a shield in combat; that he could... The stories were endless. The vivid Arab imagination had created around this formidable warrior a legend of invincibility.

So the Muslims remained silent, and the Giant laughed with contempt-a laugh in which the Quraish also joined, for they stood quite close to the ditch and could see and hear all that went on.

1. Ibn Hisham: Vol. 2, pp. 230 - 231; Ibn Sad: p. 574.