The Battle of the Trench The Wisdom of Nuaym ibn Masud (RA)

The Battle of the Trench: The Wisdom of Nuaym ibn Masud (RA)

In the fifth year of the Hijri, the Battle of the Trench, which is also called the invasion of the allied tribes, took place. In the biography of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH), it is reported that after Banu Nadir was expelled from the vicinity of Medina. Some of them, including Huyayy ibn Akhtab, Sallam ibn Abu al-Huqayq, Kenana ibn al-Rabi, settled in the oasis of Khaybar.


Day and night the tribe of Banu Nadir were plotting on how to take revenge on the Muslims. Twenty of their elders and leaders, led by Abu Amir ar-Rahib, arrived in Mecca. There they incited the polytheists to fight against the Muslims. Abu Sufyan (RA) asked them, “Why have you come?”: “We have come with the intention of forming an alliance with you to destroy Muhammad (PBUH)”. Abu Sufyan (RA) exclaimed joyfully, “Welcome to us! The person most dear to us is the one who wants to help us in the fight against Muhammad (PBUH)”.

They asked Abu Sufyan (RA) that fifty men of the Quraysh would enter with them under the veil of the Kaaba and swear an oath there. Leaning their chests against the wall of the Kaaba, they will swear that they will be united in the fight against the Messenger of Allah (PBUH), and will fight against the Muslims until they die.

Preparation of Muslims for War

When it became known in Medina that the combined forces were approaching the city, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) called his companions to a council. Each of those present spoke about what was happening. Abdullah Ibn Ubayy (RA) suggested not leaving the city, and many of the Sahaba, his proposal seemed reasonable. Salman al-Farsi (RA), reported that in Iran, when numerous enemies approach the city, which it is impossible to resist in open battle, a deep trench is dug around the city. Everyone liked these words, and his proposal was approved and accepted.

After a little preparation, they began to dig a ditch. He left Umm Maktoum in Medina, handed the banner of the Muhajirs to Zayd ibn Haris, and entrusted Sadu ibn Ubada with carrying the banner of the Ansars. With three thousand men, the Prophet (PBUH), set out from Medina, and near the city, at the foot of Mount Sel, determined the location of the army. The city gates of Medina were closed, the destroyed places of fortifications were repaired. The women and children were sheltered in the towers of the city walls.

The Construction of the Trench

The hills and rocks protected the Medina on all sides. So the Muslims dug the trench only along the northern border of the city. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) understood that in a foot battle, his men would overcome any army, and therefore the main task was to cut off the cavalry. He personally took part in the creation of the trench. And by the time the enemy approached the walls of the city, a four-kilometer fortification of great depth was ready.

Seeing the trench and knowing about the well-organized army of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the Quraysh did not dare to storm the city, but besieged it. From time to time there were skirmishes, individual brave men crossed the trench and staged short skirmishes with the Muslims. But it did not come to an open battle. Quraysh were afraid of Muslim power. In fact, they fought only for their trade interests.

Negotiations Between Tribes

Abu Sufyan (RA), convinced that no one wanted to fight without cavalry support, activated the “fifth column” behind enemy lines. It was the Banu Qurayza tribe, with whom he had long been negotiating. One of the sheikhs of the tribe expelled from Medina entered the city and began to negotiate with the Jews. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), having learned of this, also sent them his negotiator, a secret Muslim Nuaym ibn Masud (RA).

He tried to persuade the Jews that the Quraysh would simply take advantage of them and leave them to their fate in this city. Then they would not be beheaded, and suggested that the Quraysh, as a sign of their serious intentions, would give them their people as hostages. He went to the Quraysh, and began to tell them that the Jews were demanding the sheikhs as hostages only in order to hand them over to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and prove their loyalty.

A Trap for Quraysh

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), on the other hand, negotiated with the Ghatafan tribe. He offered them a third of the date crop as a reward for their alliance, despite the indignation of the Medinans. But Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did not intend to give up this third. He, with the help of people loyal to him, made it so that the Quraysh became aware of these negotiations.

As a result, the Quraysh people were at a complete loss, not knowing where to expect an attack from. Therefore, they further delayed a decisive assault. Meanwhile, the huge army needed something to eat and something to feed the herds of camels. The fields were compressed. In addition, suddenly, despite April, it got colder, and heavy rains began to fall. They were not at all comfortable in the open field. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) attributed the changes in the weather to the support of the angels. This added to his army’s confidence in the successful outcome of the battle.

The Result

The polytheists were defeated in this battle, and they had to retreat without a fight. Because Allah (SWT) crushed them in two ways, in which the Muslims did not participate. First, a man from the pagans, Nuaym ibn Masud (RA), came to the Prophet (PBUH) and offered to help. But the atheists did not know that he had converted to Islam, and by taking advantage of this, he achieved a split among them. Secondly, a strong cold wind crushed the polytheists.

Despite the fact that only nine people were killed on both sides during the entire siege, the “The Battle of the Trench” should be recognized as one of the greatest battles won by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). In fact, the Muslims defeated the Quraysh, and their alliance with the nomads suffered a severe blow.


You can also read about Battle of Uhud: A Trial for the Believers.

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