The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

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Chapter 9: The Siege of Taif

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


Page: 2

Two weeks passed and the end was not in sight. The Thaqeef would not come out to fight; the Muslims could not get in to fight. Every time they approached the town they were driven back with, arrows. One day Abu Sufyan also took part in a sally towards the town and stopped an arrow with his eye. He lived thereafter as a one-eyed man. 1

February can be very cold in the region of Taif, and the weather during the siege was unpleasant. The Muslims tried to force the Thaqeef out to give battle by destroying some vineyards near Taif; but the Thaqeef refused to leave the security of their fort. Malik was much too clever a general to risk a battle under conditions which would favour his opponent. Finally the Holy Prophet called a council of war and sought the advice of his officers. One of them said, "When you corner a fox in its hole, if you stay long enough you catch the fox. But if you leave the fox in its hole it does you no harm." 2 Abu Bakr advised a return to Makkah, and Umar concurred with him.

The Prophet could not wait indefinitely for the fall of Taif as he had more important matters to attend to. He proposed that the siege be raised and the army return to Makkah; but some Muslim hot-heads protested against this and insisted that they fight on until victory was gained. "Then you can attack tomorrow." 3 said the Prophet.

The next day a few of these battle-hungry Muslims again approached the fort with a view to capturing it, but were severely punished by the Thaqeef archers. They returned in a more philosophical mood and agreed with the Prophet that it might be best to leave the fox in its hole.

On February 23, 630 (the 4th of Dhul Qad, 8 Hijri) the siege was raised. The Muslims had lost 12 men and a large number had been wounded. The Thaqeef remained defiant. Ten months later, however, this tribe was to accept Islam and prove staunch in its faith.

The Muslims arrived at Jirana on February 26, and here the Prophet distributed the spoils taken at Autas. To show the newly converted Makkans that there was no discrimination against them for having delayed their acceptance of the new faith, the Prophet also gave them a share of the spoils. But hardly had the women, children and animals been distributed among the Muslims, when a delegation of the Hawazin came to the Prophet and declared that the tribe had accepted Islam. "Will you not return to us what you captured from us in battle?" the delegates pleaded. Actually they had no right to demand a return of what they had lost, because they had lost it as infidels and not as Muslims; but the Prophet was generous. "Are your women and children dearer to you or your property?" he asked them. "Return to us our women and children and you can keep the rest", they replied. 4

The Prophet now appealed to his army to return the women and children of the Hawazin. Every soldier responded to the Prophet's appeal and returned the captives in his hands, with the exception of Safwan bin Umayyah, who refused to part with a girl who had been given to him as his share of the spoils. She must have been very beautiful!
A few days later Malik slipped out of Taif and came to the Muslim camp. He became a Muslim and was amply rewarded by the Prophet. It is a pity that this brilliant young soldier was given no important role in later Muslim campaigns, for he had the makings of a superb general.

The Holy Prophet and the army of Islam now returned to Madinah, arriving there in the latter part of March 630. Thus ended the eighth year of the Hijra. The year that followed was to become known as the Year of Delegations, for during this year most of the tribes of Arabia sent delegations to Madinah and submitted to the Prophet. Not all the delegates, or the tribal chiefs who sent them, were motivated by a desire for the true religion, as we shall see later. While some were sincere seekers of the truth, others came for political reasons. Some came out of sheer curiosity, and a few were downright scoundrels.

1. According to some sources, Abu Sufyan lost his eye at Yarmuk and not at Taif.
2. Ibn Sad: p. 675.
3. Ibid
4. Ibn Hisham: Vol. 2, p. 489.