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: 11

The Muslim group now returned to camp, and a strong guard was placed at the crossing.

On the afternoon of the next day, Khalid moved up with a squadron, intending to succeed where Ikrimah had failed. He tried to cross the ditch, but this time the Muslim guard at the crossing saw him advance and deployed in sufficient time to prevent his crossing. There was a heavy exchange of archery in which one Muslim and one Quraish were killed, but Khalid was unable to cross.

Since the opposition at the moment appeared too strong to overcome, Khalid decided to resort to stratagem. He moved his squadron back, as if he had given up his intention of crossing the ditch, and placed it at some distance from the ditch. The Muslims took the bait, and believing that Khalid had abandoned his attempt to cross the ditch, withdrew and began to relax, waiting for the peace and quiet of the night. Suddenly Khalid galloped back with his squadron; and before the Muslim guard had time to re-deploy, a few of the Quraish, led by Khalid, managed to cross the ditch. But they had not advanced far from the ditch when the Muslims formed up again and held Khalid within the small bridgehead which he had occupied. (See Map 3) Khalid tried hard to break through, but the Muslim resistance was too strong, and he had no success. There was some hand?to-hand fighting between the Quraish group and the Muslim guard in which Khalid killed one Muslim. The Savage also was there; and with the same javelin that he had used against Hamza at Uhud, he killed a Muslim in this sally across the ditch. Before long, however, seeing the situation as hopeless, Khalid broke contact and withdrew across the ditch. This was the last major military action in the Battle of the Ditch.

For the next two days there was no activity except for a certain amount of sporadic archery which did no damage to either side. The Muslims now ran out of food; but their courage was hardened by desperation and they were determined to starve rather than surrender to the hated infidel. In the Allied camp tempers rose and spirits fell. Everyone knew that the expedition, which had been expected to lead to a glorious victory, had ended in fiasco. There was widespread grumbling, and what made the situation intolerable was the fact that no one could find a way out of the impasse.

Then on Tuesday night, March 18, the area of Madinah was struck by a storm. Cold winds lashed at the Allied camp and howled across the valley. The temperature dropped sharply. The Allied camp was more exposed than the Muslim camp and the storm appeared to strike the Allies with a vengeance. It put out fires, knocked down cooking pots, carried away tents. The Allies sat huddled under their blankets and cloaks as the storm raged around them, waiting for an end that would not come.

Abu Sufyan could take no more. He leapt to his feet, and raising his voice against the storm, shouted to his men: "This is no proper abode for us. Men and animals have suffered grievously from exposure. The Bani Quraizah have turned out to be pigs and monkeys and have betrayed us in our hour of need. The storm has ravaged our camp, put out our fires, knocked down our tents. Let us return to Makkah. Lo, I am one who goes!" 1

Having made this last speech, Abu Sufyan jumped on to his camel and rode out with his men, hoping to get away from the pitiless storm. But the demons of the storm were to pursue him the whole night. The Ghatfan now came to know of the movement of the Quraish and so did the other tribes. Without further delay they mounted their camels and departed for their settlements and pastures. In the rear of the Quraish army rode Khalid and Amr bin Al Aas with their cavalry squadrons acting as a rear guard in case the Muslims should come out of Madinah and attempted to interfere with the Quraish movement. It was a bitter and disillusioned Abu Sufyan who led his army back to Makkah. The burden of failure lay heavy on his heart.

The next morning the Muslims found the Allies gone, and returned to their homes. This was the last attempt by the Quraish to crush the Muslims; henceforth they would remain on the defensive.

1. Ibn Hisham: Vol. 2, p. 232.