Battle of the Trench

Coordinates: 24°29′N 39°35′E / 24.483°N 39.583°E / 24.483; 39.583
This is a good article. Click here for more information.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Battle of the Trench
Part of the Muslim–Quraysh War

Map of the Battle of the Trench
Date31 March 627 – c. 14 April 627[1]
Surrounding perimeter of Medina
24°29′N 39°35′E / 24.483°N 39.583°E / 24.483; 39.583



Muslims including

Confederates including

Commanders and leaders
Ali Ibn Abi Talib
Salman the Persian
'Ubadah ibn al-Samit[6]
Abu Sufyan
Amr ibn Abd al-Wud  
3,000[7] 10,000
7,500 (Watt’s Estimate)[8]
Casualties and losses
5[9] – 6[10][11] 3[10][11]
Battle of the Trench is located in Saudi Arabia
Battle of the Trench
Location within Saudi Arabia
Site of the Battle of the Trench, Medina

The Battle of the Trench (Arabic: غزوة الخندق, romanizedGhazwat al-Khandaq), also known as the Battle of Khandaq (Arabic: معركة الخندق, romanizedMa’rakah al-Khandaq) and the Battle of the Confederates (Arabic: غزوة الاحزاب, romanizedGhazwat al-Ahzab), was part of the conflict between the Muslims and the Quraysh, where this time the Quraysh took the offensive and advanced on the Muslims, who defended themselves in Medina by digging a trench around their settlement at the suggestion of Salman the Persian.[12] The battle, which took place in 627 and lasted around two weeks,[11] was lightly fought,[13] with the Muslims reported to have suffered five to six casualties and the Quraysh three.[10][11][9]

The Quraysh, tired of seeing the Islamic prophet Muhammad continue to raid and plunder their trade caravans despite his defeat at the Battle of Uhud, decided to occupy his city base, Medina.[4] Realizing that they had little military capability as they were only merchants, they negotiated vigorously with the Bedouins to get them to join the campaign.[4] The Banu Nadir, whom Muhammad had previously expelled from Medina, were also part of this effort, to the extent that they offered the Bedouins half of their crops in Khaybar to persuade them to take part.[14] In the end, they reportedly managed to gather a confederate force of 10,000 men (Watt estimates less than 7,500), including Banu Ghatafan, Banu Sulaym, and Banu Asad.[8]

On the other hand, Muhammad, having learned of the impending Quraysh advance, took the advice of Salman the Persian to have his followers make a deep trench to impede their movement.[15][12] The Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayza assisted with this Muslims' effort by digging the trench and lending them their tools.[16][17][18] When the Quraysh approached, they were unfamiliar with this tactic and struggled to get beyond the trench.[12] As the siege gradually dragged on, Muhammad used the time to negotiate secretly with the Banu Ghatafan, sowing distrust among his opponents. After about two weeks, the weather deteriorated and the invading party withdrew.[4]

The battle caused the Meccans to lose their trade to Syria and much of their prestige.[5] Whereas for Muhammad, he was then reportedly visited by Gabriel, who directed him to attack the Banu Qurayza,[19] which led to the slaughter and enslavement of its population by the Muslims.[a]


The battle is named after the "Trench", or khandaq, that was dug by Muslims in preparation for the battle as an act of defense. The word khandaq (خَندَق) is the Arabised form of the Middle Persian word kandag (کندگ; meaning "that which has been dug").[20] Salman the Persian advised Muhammad to dig a trench around the city. The battle is also referred to as the Battle of Confederates (غزوة الاحزاب). The Qur'an uses the term confederates (الاحزاب) in Surah Al-Ahzab 33:9-32 to denote the confederacy of non-believers and Jews against Islam.


The Islamic prophet Muhammad first preached his new religion, Islam, in his hometown of Mecca. At first he encountered no serious opposition from the people there, and their response to him was simply indifference, until he began to attack their beliefs, causing tension.[21][22][23][24] A few years later, he moved to Medina after successful negotiations with the Banu Aws and the Banu Khazraj to mediate their tribal conflicts,[25][26] the latter from which his great-grandmother came.[27]

In Medina, Muhammad became fond of raiding and plundering Quraysh trade caravans, causing armed conflict between them.[28][29] After Muhammad made a large booty after capturing the caravan at Nakhla during a holy month when bloodshed was forbidden by the Pagan convention,[30] he sent troops to Badr to intercept a large trade caravan returning from Gaza. Abu Sufyan, who was leading the caravan, got wind of Muhammad's plan and sent messengers on a swift journey to Medina for help.[29]

The reinforcements camped near Badr, behind a hill not visible from Muhammad's position.[31] After the caravan had escaped, some of them withdrew, but others remained.[32] Muhammad became aware of their presence after he captured their water carrier who was carrying water from the wells of Badr.[33] Muhammad ordered his followers to close all the wells with sand except one for him and the Muslims,[34] forcing the Quraysh to fight over the water and leading to the Quraysh's defeat.[35]

Wanting to regain their honour after the defeat at Badr and tired of Muhammad's attacks on their caravans, the Quraysh sent an army, and a confrontation with Muhammad took place at Uhud. Muhammad's side initially had the upper hand, but then the tables turned, and he fled to Medina. Thinking that this was enough to deter Muhammad, the Quraysh did not pursue him to finish him off. Nevertheless, Muhammad attacked their trade caravans again, making them determined to take over Medina, in part due to the encouragement of the Banu Nadir, whom Muhammad had previously expelled from the city.[4][14]

The Confederate[edit]

Early in 627, the Banu Nadir met with the Quraysh of Mecca. Huyayy ibn Akhtab, along with other leaders from Khaybar, traveled to swear allegiance with Safwam ibn Umayya at Mecca.[36]

The bulk of the Confederate armies were gathered by the Quraysh of Makkah, led by Abu Sufyan, who fielded 4,000-foot soldiers, 300 horsemen, and 1,000–1,500 men on camels.[37]

The Banu Nadir began rousing the nomads of Najd. The Nadir enlisted the Banu Ghatafan by paying them half of their harvest.[20][38] This contingent, the second-largest, added a strength of about 2,000 men and 300 horsemen led by Unaina bin Hasan Fazari. The Banu Assad also agreed to join, led by Tuleha Asadi.[37] From the Banu Sulaym, the Nadir secured 700 men, though this force would likely have been much larger had not some of its leaders been sympathetic towards Islam. The Banu Amir, who had a pact with Muhammad, refused to join.[36]

Other tribes included the Banu Murra, with 400 men led by Hars ibn Auf Murri, and the Banu Shuja, with 700 men led by Sufyan ibn Abd Shams. In total, the strength of the Confederate armies, though not agreed upon by scholars, is estimated to have included around 10,000 men and six hundred horsemen. In December 626 the army, which was led by Abu Sufyan, marched on Medina.[7]

In accordance with the plan, the armies began marching towards Medina, Meccans from the south (along the coast), and the others from the east. At the same time, horsemen from the Banu Khuza'a left to warn Medina of the invading army.[36]

Muslim defence[edit]

The men from Banu Khuza'a reached Muhammad in four days, warning him of the Confederate armies that were to arrive in a week.[36] Muhammad gathered the Medinans to discuss the best strategy of overcoming the enemy. Meeting the enemy in the open (which led to victory at Badr), and waiting for them inside the city (a lesson learned from the defeat at Uhud) were both suggested.[39] Ultimately, the outnumbered Muslims opted to engage in a defensive battle by digging deep trenches to act as a barrier along the northern front. The tactic of a defensive trench was introduced by Salman the Persian. Every capable Muslim in Medina including Muhammad contributed to digging the massive trench in six days.[40][41] The ditch was dug on the northern side only, as the rest of Medina was surrounded by rocky mountains and trees, impenetrable to large armies (especially cavalry). The digging of the ditch coincided with a near-famine in Medina. Women and children were moved to the inner city.[20][40] The Medinans harvested all their crops early, so the Confederate armies would have to rely on their own food reserves.[39][40]

Muhammad established his military headquarters at the hillock of Sala' and the army was arrayed there;[20] this position would give the Muslims an advantage if the enemy crossed the trench.[38]

The final army that defended the city from the invasion consisted of 3,000 men,[42] and included all inhabitants of Medina over the age of 14, except the Banu Qurayza (the Qurayza did supply the Muslims with some instruments for digging the trench).[38]

According to Irfan Shahid, the Muslims adopted the tactic of using trenches from the Persians, possibly via the Ghassanid Arabs who saw their king killed at the Battle of Thannuris in 527 by this tactic. The adopting is reflected in the Arabic word for this battle, khandaq (خندق), which is a borrowing via Aramaic from Pahlavi kandak.[43]

Siege of Medina[edit]

The siege of Medina began in January 627 and lasted for 20 nights.[44][45] Adding in the six days of trench-building, the entire operation lasted 27 days[44] and was contained within a single month (5 Shawwal-1 Dhu al-Qi'dah).[46] Since sieges were uncommon in Arabian warfare, the arriving Confederates were unprepared to deal with the trenches dug by the Muslims. The Confederates tried to attack with horsemen in hopes of forcing a passage, but the Medinans were rigidly entrenched, preventing such a crossing.[5] Both of the armies gathered on either side of the trench and spent two or three weeks exchanging insults in prose and verse, backed up with arrows fired from a comfortable distance. According to Rodinson, there were three dead among the attackers and five among the defenders. On the other hand, the harvest had been gathered and the besiegers had some trouble finding food for their horses, which proved of no use to them in the attack.[47]

The Quraysh veterans grew impatient with the deadlock. A group of militants led by ‘Amr ibn ‘Abd Wudd (who was thought to be equal to a thousand men in fighting)[48] and Ikrimah ibn Abi Jahl attempted to thrust through the trench and managed to effect a crossing, occupying a marshy area near the hillock of Sala. 'Amr challenged the Muslims to a duel. According to Shia sources, in response, Ali ibn Abi Talib accepted the challenge, and was sent by Muhammad to fight. As Ali went to fight Amr ibn Abd Wudd, Muhammad said about Ali, "He is the embodiment of all Faith who is going to an encounter with the embodiment of all Unbelief."[49]: 171 

Both the fighters got lost in the dust as the duel became intense. Finally, the soldiers heard screams which hinted at decisive blows, but it was unclear which of the two was successful. The slogan, 'Allahu Akbar' (God is the greatest) from the dust confirmed Ali's victory. The Confederates were forced to withdraw in a state of panic and confusion.[50] According to Shia sources, Ali allowed Amr's entourage to retreat; Ali never pursued a fleeing enemy.[49]: 172 

The Confederate army made several other attempts to cross the trench during the night but repeatedly failed. Although the confederates could have deployed their infantry over the whole length of the trench, they were unwilling to engage the Muslims at the close-quarter as the former regarded the latter as superior in hand-to-hand fighting.[5] As the Muslim army was well dug-in behind the embankment made from the earth which had been taken from the ditch and prepared to bombard attackers with stones and arrows, any attack could cause great casualties.[47]

Banu Qurayza[edit]

The Confederates attempted several simultaneous attacks, in particular by trying to persuade the Banu Qurayza to attack the Muslims from the south.[5] From the Confederates, Huyayy ibn Akhtab, a Khaybarian, the leader of the exiled tribe Banu Nadir, returned to Medina seeking their support against the Muslims.[51]

So far the Banu Qurayza had tried their best to remain neutral,[38] and were very hesitant about joining the Confederates since they had earlier made a pact with Muhammad.[52] When Huyayy approached them, their leader refused to allow him entry.[53]

Huyayy eventually managed to enter and persuade them that the Muslims would surely be overwhelmed.[5] The sight of the vast Confederate armies, surging over the land with soldiers and horses as far as the eye could see, swung the Qurayza opinion in the favor of the Confederacy.[53]

News of the Qurayzah's supposed renunciation of the pact with Muhammad leaked out, and Umar promptly informed Muhammad. Such suspicions were reinforced by the movement of enemy troops towards the strongholds of the Qurayza.[39][53] Muhammad became anxious about their conduct,[54] and realised the grave potential danger the Qurayza posed. Because of his pact with the Qurayza, he had not bothered to make defensive preparations along the Muslims' border with the tribe.[52] The Qurayza also possessed weaponry: 1,500 swords, 2,000 lances, 300 suits of armour, and 500 shields.[55]

Muhammad sent three leading Muslims to bring him details of the recent developments. He advised the men to openly declare their findings, should they find the Banu Qurayza to be kind, so as to increase the morale of the Muslim fighters. However, he warned against spreading the news of a possible breach of the pact on the Qurayza's part, so as to avoid any panic within Muslim ranks.[52][53]

The leaders found that the pact indeed had been renounced and tried in vain to convince the Qurayza to revert by reminding them of the fate of the Banu Nadir and Banu Qaynuqa at the hands of Muhammad.[53] The findings of the leaders were signaled to Muhammad in a metaphor: "Adal and Qarah". Because the people of Adal and Qarah had betrayed the Muslims and killed them at the opportune moment, Maududi believes the metaphor means the Qurayza were thought to be about to do the same.[52]

Crisis in Medina[edit]

Muhammad attempted to hide his knowledge of the activities of Banu Qurayza; however, rumors soon spread of a massive assault on the city of Medina from Qurayza's side which severely demoralized the Medinans.[56]

The Muslims found themselves in greater difficulties by day. Food was running short, and nights were colder. The lack of sleep made matters worse.[57] So tense was the situation that, for the first time, the canonical daily prayers were neglected by the Muslim community. Only at night, when the attacks stopped due to darkness, could they resume their regular worship.[56] According to Ibn Ishaq, the situation became serious and fear was everywhere.[58]

Quran describes the situation in surah Al-Ahzab:

33:10 ˹Remember˺ when they came at you from east and west, when your eyes grew wild ˹in horror˺ and your hearts jumped into your throats, and you entertained ˹conflicting˺ thoughts about Allah.

33:11 Then and there the believers were put to the test, and were violently shaken.
33:12 And ˹remember˺ when the hypocrites and those with sickness in their hearts said, “Allah and His Messenger have promised us nothing but delusion!”
33:13 And ˹remember˺ when a group of them said, “O people of Yathrib! There is no point in you staying ˹here˺, so retreat!” Another group of them asked the Prophet’s permission ˹to leave˺, saying, “Our homes are vulnerable,” while ˹in fact˺ they were not vulnerable. They only wished to flee.
33:14 Had their city been sacked from all sides and they had been asked to abandon faith, they would have done so with little hesitation.
33:15 They had already pledged to Allah earlier never to turn their backs ˹in retreat˺. And a pledge to Allah must be answered for.
33:16 Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “Fleeing will not benefit you if you ˹try to˺ escape a natural or violent death. ˹If it is not your time,˺ you will only be allowed enjoyment for a little while.”
33:17 Ask ˹them, O  Prophet˺, “Who can put you out of Allah’s reach if He intends to harm you or show you mercy?” They can never find any protector or helper besides Allah.
33:18 Allah knows well those among you who discourage ˹others from fighting˺, saying ˹secretly˺ to their brothers, “Stay with us,” and who themselves hardly take part in fighting.
33:19 ˹They are˺ totally unwilling to assist you. When danger comes, you see them staring at you with their eyes rolling like someone in the throes of death. But once the danger is over, they slash you with razor-sharp tongues, ravenous for ˹worldly˺ gains. Such people have not ˹truly˺ believed, so Allah has rendered their deeds void. And that is easy for Allah.
33:20 They ˹still˺ think that the enemy alliance has not ˹yet˺ withdrawn. And if the allies were to come ˹again˺, the hypocrites would wish to be away in the desert among nomadic Arabs, ˹only˺ asking for news about you ˹believers˺. And if the hypocrites were in your midst, they would hardly take part in the fight.
33:21 Indeed, in the Messenger of Allah you have an excellent example for whoever has hope in Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah often.

33:22 When the believers saw the enemy alliance, they said, “This is what Allah and His Messenger had promised us. The promise of Allah and His Messenger has come true.” And this only increased them in faith and submission.

Muslim response[edit]

Immediately after hearing the rumors about the Qurayza, Muhammad had sent 100 men to the inner city for its protection. Later he sent 300 horsemen (cavalry was not needed at the trench) as well to protect the city.[39] The loud voices, in which the troops prayed every night, created the illusion of a large force.[53]

The crisis showed Muhammad that many of his men had reached the limits of their endurance. He sent word to Ghatafan, trying to pay for their defection and offering them a third of Medina's date harvest if they withdrew. Although the Ghatafan demanded half, they eventually agreed to negotiate with Muhammad on those terms. Before Muhammad began the order of drafting the agreement, he consulted the Medinan leaders. They sharply rejected the terms of the agreement,[57] protesting Medina had never sunk to such levels of ignominy. The negotiations were broken off. While the Ghatafan did not retreat they had compromised themselves by entering into negotiations with Medina, and the Confederacy's internal dissension had thereby been increased.[5]

At about that point, Muhammad received a visit from Nuaym ibn Masud, an Arab leader who was well-respected by the entire confederacy, but who had, unknown to them, secretly converted to Islam. Muhammad asked him to end the siege by creating discord amongst Confederates.[citation needed]

The whole was a battle of wits in which Muslims had the best of it; without cost to themselves they weakened the enemy and increased the dissension.

Nuaym then came up with an efficient stratagem. He first went to the Banu Qurayza and warned them about the intentions of the rest of the Confederacy. If the siege fails, he said, the Confederacy will not be afraid to abandon the Jews, leaving them at the mercy of Muhammad. The Qurayza should thus demand Confederate leaders as hostages in return for cooperation. This advice touched upon the fears the Qurayza had already harbored.[39][57]

Next Nuaym went to Abu Sufyan, the Confederate leader, warning him that the Qurayza had defected to Muhammad. He stated that the tribe intended to ask the Confederacy for hostages, ostensibly in return for cooperation, but really to hand over to Muhammad. Thus the Confederacy should not give a single man a hostage. Nuaym repeated the same message to other tribes in the Confederacy.[39][57]

Collapse of the Confederacy[edit]

Nuaym's stratagem worked. After consulting, the Confederate leaders sent Ikrimah ibn Abi Jahl to the Qurayza, signaling a united invasion of Medina. The Qurayza, however, demanded hostages as a guarantee that the Confederacy would not desert them. The Confederacy, considering that the Qurayza might give the hostage to Muhammad, refused. Messages were repeatedly sent back and forth between the parties, but each held to its position stubbornly.[39][57]

Abu Sufyan summoned Huyayy ibn Akhtab, informing him of Qurayza's response. Huyayy was taken aback, and Abu Sufyan branded him as a "traitor". Fearing for his life, Huyayy fled to the Qurayza's strongholds.[39][57]

The Bedouins, the Ghatafan, and other Confederates from Najd had already been compromised by Muhammad's negotiations. They had taken part in the expedition in hopes of plunder, rather than for personal reasons. They lost hope as chances of success dwindled, uninterested in continuing the siege. The two confederate armies were marked by recriminations and mutual distrust.[57]

The provisions of the Confederate armies were running out. Horses and camels were dying of hunger and wounds. For days the weather had been exceptionally cold and wet. Violent winds blew out the campfires, taking away from the Confederate army their source of heat. The Muslim camp, however, was sheltered from such winds. The enemy’s tents were torn up, their fires were extinguished, the sand and rain beat in their faces and they were terrified by the portents against them. They had already well nigh fallen out among themselves. During the night the Confederate armies withdrew, and by morning the ground was cleared of all enemy forces.[59]

Aftermath: Siege Of Banu Qurayza[edit]

Following the retreat of the Confederate army, the Banu Qurayza neighborhoods were besieged by the Muslims. After a 25-day siege of their neighborhood, the Banu Qurayza unconditionally surrendered. When the Banu Qurayza tribe surrendered, the Muslim army seized their stronghold and their possessions for their acts.[60] On the request of the Banu Aus, who were allied to the Qurayza, Muhammad chose one of them, Sa'ad ibn Mu'adh, as an arbitrator to pronounce judgment upon them. Sa'ad, who later died of his wounds from the battle, decreed the sentence, in which some of the men fighters shall be killed and some of their women and children enslaved. Muhammad approved of this decision, and the next day the sentence was carried out.[60]

The men – numbering between 400 and 900[61] – were bound and placed under the custody of Muhammad ibn Maslamah, while the women and children were placed under Abdullah ibn Salam, a former rabbi who had converted to Islam.[39][62]

Ibn Ishaq describes the killing of the Banu Qurayza men as follows:

Then they surrendered, and the Apostle confined them in Medina in the quarter of d. al-Harith, a woman of B. al-Najjar. Then the Apostle went out to the market of Medina (which is still its market today) and dug trenches in it. Then he sent for them and struck off their heads in those trenches as they were brought out to him in batches. Among them was the enemy of Allah Huyayy b. Akhtab and Ka`b b. Asad their chief. There were 600 or 700 in all, though some put the figure as high as 800 or 900. As they were being taken out in batches to the Apostle they asked Ka`b what he thought would be done with them. He replied, 'Will you never understand? Don't you see that the summoner never stops and those who are taken away do not return? By Allah it is death!' This went on until the Apostle made an end of them. Huyayy was brought out wearing a flowered robe in which he had made holes about the size of the finger-tips in every part so that it should not be taken from him as spoil, with his hands bound to his neck by a rope. When he saw the Apostle he said, 'By God, I do not blame myself for opposing you, but he who forsakes God will be forsaken.' Then he went to the men and said, 'God's command is right. A book and a decree, and massacre have been written against the Sons of Israel.' Then he sat down and his head was struck off.[61][63][64]

A lot of scholars have however cast doubt on ibn Ishaq's account and there is no reliable hadith about the exact number of people killed leading some to argue only prominent ones were executed. A number of individuals were spared when various Muslims intervened on their behalf.[65] Several accounts note Muhammad's companions as executioners, Umar and Zubayr ibn al-Awwam in particular, and that each clan of the Aws was also charged with killing a group of Qurayza men.[66][67]

According to Ibn Ishaq's biography of Muhammad, one woman who had thrown a millstone from the battlements during the siege and killed one of the Muslim besiegers, was also beheaded along with the men. 'Ã'isha, one of Muhammad's wives, is cited as describing the woman as laughing and chatting with her during the massacre, down to the moment her name was called out:

'By Allah,' she said,' that is me.' I said to her 'You poor soul, what is to happen to you?' She said: "I must be killed." "Why?" I asked her. "For something I did," she answered. She went away and was beheaded for her acts. By Allah,('Ã'isha adds) I shall never forget her cheerfulness and her great laugh when she knew that she was to be killed.'[65][68]

Ibn Asakir writes in his History of Damascus that the Banu Kilab, a clan of Arab clients of the Banu Qurayza, were also killed though this is not accepted by the majority of traditional Islamic historians.[69]

The spoils of battle, including the enslaved women and children of the tribe, were divided up among the Muslims that had participated in the siege and among the emigrees from Mecca (who had hitherto depended on the help of the Muslims native to Medina).[70][71]

As part of his share of the spoils, Muhammad selected one of the women, Rayhana, for himself and took her as part of his booty.[71] Muhammad offered to free and marry her and according to some sources she accepted his proposal, while according to others she rejected it and remained Muhammad's companion.[72] She is said to have later become a Muslim.[54]

Scholars argue that Muhammad had already decided upon this judgment before the Qurayza's surrender and that Sa'ad was putting his allegiance to the Muslim community above that to his tribe.[5] One reason cited by some for such punishment is that Muhammad's previous clemency towards defeated foes was in contradiction to Arab and Jewish laws of the time, and was seen as a sign of weakness. Others see the punishment as a response to what was perceived as an act of treason by the Qurayza since they betrayed their joint defense pact with Muhammad by giving aid and comfort to the enemies of the Muslims.[39]


The failure of the siege marked the beginning of Muhammad's undoubted ascendency in the city of Medina.[73] The Meccans had exerted their utmost strength to dislodge Muhammad from Medina, and this defeat caused them to lose their trade with Syria and much of their prestige with it. Watt conjectures that the Meccans at this point began to contemplate that conversion to Islam would be the most prudent option.[5]

Islamic primary sources[edit]


The main contemporary source of the battle is the 33rd Surah of the Quran.[ 33:10-22]

The Sunni Muslim Mufassir Ibn Kathir mentions this incident in his book Tafsir ibn Kathir, and his commentary on this verse mentions the reason and event of the Battle, his commentary is as follows:

Allah tells us of the blessings and favors He bestowed upon His believing servants when He diverted their enemies and defeated them in the year when they gathered together and plotted. That was the year of Al-Khandaq, in Shawwal of the year 5 AH according to the well-known correct view. Musa bin `Uqbah and others said that it was in the year 4 AH. The reason why the Confederates came was that a group of the leaders of the Banu Nadir, whom the Messenger of Allah had expelled from Al-Madinah to Khaybar, including Sallam bin Abu Al-Huqayq, Sallam bin Mishkam, and Kinanah bin Ar-Rabi`, went to Makkah where they met with the leaders of Quraysh and incited them to make war against the Prophet. They promised that they would give them help and support, and Quraysh agreed to that. Then they went to the Ghatafan tribe with the same call, and they responded too. The Quraysh came out with their company of men from various tribes and their followers, under the leadership of Abu Sufyan Sakhr bin Harb. The Ghatafan were led by `Uyaynah bin Hisn bin Badr. In all, they numbered nearly ten thousand. When the Messenger of Allah heard that they had set out, he commanded the Muslims to dig a ditch (Khandaq) around Al-Madinah from the east. This was on the advice of Salman Al-Farisi, may Allah be pleased with him. So the Muslims did this, working hard, and the Messenger of Allah worked with them, carrying the earth away and digging, in the process of which there occurred many miracles and clear signs. The idolators came and made camp to the north of Al-Madinah, near Uhud, and some of them camped on the high ground overlooking Al-Madinah, as Allah says:
(When they came upon you from above you and from below you,) The Messenger of Allah came out with the believers, who numbered nearly three thousand, or it was said that they numbered seven hundred. They had their backs towards (the mountain of) Sal` and were facing the enemy, and the ditch, in which there was no water, was between the two groups, preventing the cavalry and infantry from reaching them. The women and children were in the strongholds of Al-Madinah. Banu Qurayzah, who were a group among the Jews, had a fortress in the southeast of Al-Madinah, and they had made a treaty with the Prophet and were under his protection. They numbered nearly eight hundred fighters. Huyay bin Akhtab An-Nadari went to them and kept trying to persuade them until they broke the treaty and went over to the side of the Confederates against the Messenger of Allah. The crisis deepened and things got worse...


The event is referenced in the Sunni, Hadith collection Sahih al-Bukhari, it mentions the death of Sa'd ibn Mu'adh, as follows:

On the day of Al-Khandaq (Battle of the Trench) the medial arm vein of Sa'd bin Mu'ad was injured and the Prophet pitched a tent in the mosque to look after him. There was another tent for Banu Ghaffar in the mosque and the blood started flowing from Sa'd's tent to the tent of Bani Ghaffar. They shouted, "O occupants of the tent! What is coming from you to us?" They found that Sa'd's wound was bleeding profusely and Sa'd died in his tent.

The Sahih al-Bukhari collection also mentions that after the battle, Muslims were to carry out offensive attacks against their enemies:[74]

On the day of Al-Ahzab (i.e. clans) the Prophet said, (After this battle) we will go to attack them (i.e. the infidels) and they will not come to attack us."

— Sahih al-Bukhari 4109

Muhammad in order to stop the attacks called for a counter-attack against the idolaters, He asserted to his followers before:

Abdullah bin Abu Aufa reported: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) at one time when he confronted the enemy, and was waiting for the sun to set, stood up and said, "O people! Do not long for encountering the enemy and supplicate to Allah to grant you security. But when you face the enemy, show patience and steadfastness; and keep it in mind that Jannah lies under the shade of the swords." Then he invoked Allah, saying, "O Allah, Revealer of the Book, Disperser of the clouds, Defeater of the Confederates, put our enemy to rout and help us in over-powering them". [Al- Bukhari and Muslim].

The event is also mentioned in the Sahih Muslim Hadith collection as follows:

'Abdullah b. Zubair reported on the Day of the Battle of the Trench: I and Umar b. Abu Salama was with women folk in the fort of Hassan (b. Thabit). He at one time leaned for me and I cast a glance and at another time I leaned for him and he would see and I recognized my father as he rode on his horse with his arms towards the tribe of Quraizah. 'Abdullah b. 'Urwa reported from Abdullah b. Zubair: I made a mention of that to my father, whereupon he said: My son, did you see me (on that occasion)? He said: Yes. Thereupon he said: By Allah, Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) addressed me saying: I would sacrifice for thee, my father and my mother.

— Sahih Muslim 2416a

Biographical literature[edit]

The incident also is mentioned in the historical works by writers of the third and fourth century of the Muslim era.[75] These include the traditional Muslim biographies of Muhammad, and quotes attributed to him (the sira and hadith literature), which provide further information on Muhammad's life.[76] The earliest surviving written sira (biographies of Muhammad and quotes attributed to him) is Ibn Ishaq's Life of God's Messenger written some 120 to 130  years after Muhammad's death. Although the original work is lost, portions of it survive in the recensions of Ibn Hisham and Al-Tabari.[77] Another early source is the history of Muhammad's campaigns by al-Waqidi (d. 823).[75]

Early Arabic rock inscription[edit]

A rock inscription was discovered in mount Sela; In the fourth and fifth line appear the words, “I am Muhammad ibn Abdullah” and that is the full name of the prophet Muhammad as his father was Abdullah. In the eighth line is the name, “ I am Salman the (?)”. In the twelfth line is the phrase “I am Sa'd bin Mu'adh”, and finally on the fifteenth line “I am Ali ibn Abu Talib”.[78] As it is known that Saad ibn Muadh died in 627, the inscription cannot be from a later era, further the location of this inscription may hint that it was meant to commemorate the Muslim victory in the battle.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Watt 1956, p. 35–36.
  2. ^ Brockopp 2010, p. 9.
  3. ^ Lapidus 2012, p. 42.
  4. ^ a b c d e Buhl & Welch 1993, p. 370.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Watt, Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman, pp. 167–174.
  6. ^ Gil, Moshe (27 February 1997). Ibn Sa'd, 1(1), 147 VII(2), 113f, Baladhuri, Tarikh Tabari, 1 2960, Muqaddasi, Muthir, 25f; Ibn Hisham, 311. Cambridge University press. p. 119. ISBN 0521599849. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  7. ^ a b Rodinson, Muhammad: Prophet of Islam, p. 208.
  8. ^ a b Watt 1961, p. 166-167.
  9. ^ a b Hazleton 2014, p. 259.
  10. ^ a b c Rodgers 2012, p. 148.
  11. ^ a b c d Watt 1961, p. 169.
  12. ^ a b c Watt 1961, p. 168.
  13. ^ Hoyland 2015, The Battle of the Ditch (Trench).
  14. ^ a b Watt 1961, p. 166.
  15. ^ Rodgers 2012, p. 143.
  16. ^ Rodinson 2021, p. 209.
  17. ^ Gabriel 2014, p. 136.
  18. ^ Rodgers 2012, p. 145.
  19. ^ Spellberg 1994, p. 45.
  20. ^ a b c d Nomani, Sirat al-Nabi, pp. 368–370.
  21. ^ Buhl & Welch 1993, p. 364.
  22. ^ "Muhammad | Biography, History, & Facts | Britannica". 24 May 2023. Retrieved 27 May 2023.
  23. ^ Lewis 2002, p. 35–36.
  24. ^ Hoyland 2017, Was Muhammad driven out of Mecca?.
  25. ^ Buhl & Welch 1993, p. 364-369.
  26. ^ "Aws and Khazraj". Retrieved 27 May 2023.
  27. ^ Hoyland 2017, THE BIRTH AND EARLY LIFE (C. 570–610).
  28. ^ Peters, Francis E. (1 January 1994). Muhammad and the Origins of Islam. SUNY Press. pp. 211–214. ISBN 978-0-7914-1875-8.
  29. ^ a b Buhl & Welch 1993, p. 369.
  30. ^ Karsh 2013, p. 14.
  31. ^ "Encyclopaedia of Islam, Volume I (A-B): [Fasc. 1-22]", Encyclopaedia of Islam, Volume I (A-B), Brill, 26 June 1998, ISBN 978-90-04-08114-7, retrieved 28 May 2023, p. 868
  32. ^ Watt 1961, p. 120-121.
  33. ^ Watt 1961, p. 121-122.
  34. ^ "Encyclopaedia of Islam, Volume I (A-B): [Fasc. 1-22]", Encyclopaedia of Islam, Volume I (A-B), Brill, 26 June 1998, ISBN 978-90-04-08114-7, retrieved 28 May 2023, p. 868
  35. ^ Watt 1961, p. 122.
  36. ^ a b c d Lings, Muhammad: his life based on the earliest sources, pp. 215f.
  37. ^ a b al-Halabi, al-Sirat al-Halbiyyah, p. 19.
  38. ^ a b c d Watt, Muhammad at Medina, pp. 34–37.
  39. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Ramadan, In the Footsteps of the Prophet, pp. 137–145.
  40. ^ a b c Rodinson, p. 209.
  41. ^ Muir, William (1861). The life of Mahomet. Vol. 3. London: Smith, Elder. p. 258. In six days the trench was finished, deep and wide throughout almost the whole length of the defence.
  42. ^ Glasse & Smith, New Encyclopedia of Islam: A Revised Edition of the Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, p. 81.
  43. ^ Shahid, Irfan (1995). Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century. Dumbarton Oaks. pp. 78–79. ISBN 978-0-88402-214-5.
  44. ^ a b Watt, Muhammad at Medina, p. 36f.
  45. ^ Ibn Ishaq (trans. A Guillaume) (2004). The life of Muhammad. Oxford. p. 454. The apostle and the polytheists remained twenty days and more, nearly a month, without fighting except for some shooting with arrows, and the siege.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  46. ^ Ibn Ishaq (trans. A Guillaume) (2004). The life of Muhammad. Oxford. p. 450. THE BATTLE OF THE DITCH, A.H.5 This took place in Shawwal, A.H.5.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  47. ^ a b Rodinson, pp. 209f.
  48. ^ Tabqaar ibn-e-Sadd 1:412, Anwaar Mohammadiya minal mawahib Page 84.
  49. ^ a b Razwy, Sayed Ali Asgher (2015). A Restatement of the History of Islam & Muslims. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.[unreliable source?]
  50. ^ Zafrulla Khan, Muhammad, Seal of the Prophets, pp. 177–179.
  51. ^ Nomani, p. 382.
  52. ^ a b c d Maududi, The Meaning of the Quran, p. 64f.
  53. ^ a b c d e f Lings, pp. 221–223.
  54. ^ a b Watt, "Kurayza, Banu" Encyclopaedia of Islam.
  55. ^ Heck, "Arabia Without Spices: An Alternate Hypothesis", pp. 547–567.
  56. ^ a b Peterson, Muhammad. Prophet of God, p. 123f.
  57. ^ a b c d e f g Lings, pp. 224–226.
  58. ^ Peters Muhammad and the Origins of Islam, p. 221f.
  59. ^ Lings, pp. 227f.
  60. ^ a b Watt, Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman, pp. 170–176.
  61. ^ a b Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah, p. 461-464.
  62. ^ Muir, A Life of Mahomet and History of Islam to the Era of the Hegira, pp. 272–274.
  63. ^ Peters, Muhammad and the Origins of Islam, pp. 222–224.
  64. ^ Stillman, p. 141f.
  65. ^ a b Maxime Rodinson, Mohammad, (1961) Penguin Books 1971 p.213.
  66. ^ Kister, "The Massacre of the Banu Quraiza", p. 93f.
  67. ^ Inamdar, Muhammad and the Rise of Islam, pp. 166f.
  68. ^ Muir (p. 277) (Ibn Ishaq, Biography of Muhammad).
  69. ^ Lecker, "On Arabs of the Banū Kilāb executed together with the Banū Qurayza", p. 69.
  70. ^ Kister, "The Massacre of the Banu Quraiza", pp. 95f.
  71. ^ a b Rodinson, Muhammad: Prophet of Islam, p. 213.
  72. ^ Ramadan, p. 146.
  73. ^ Watt, Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman, p. 96.
  74. ^ Dr. M. Sa’id Ramadan Al-Buti – "Jurisprudence of Muhammad’s Biography", p. 73, English edition, published by Azhar University of Egypt (1988).
  75. ^ a b Watt, Muhammad at Mecca, p. xi.
  76. ^ Reeves, Muhammad in Europe: A Thousand Years of Western Myth-Making, p. 6–7.
  77. ^ Donner, Narratives of Islamic Origins: The Beginnings of Islamic Historical Writing, p. 132.
  78. ^ Safadi, Y. H. (1978). Islamic Calligraphy by Y.H. Safadi. Shambhala Publications, Incorporated. ISBN 978-0394736624.
  1. ^ See:


Primary sources
Secondary sources

External links[edit]