The Battle of Hunain

After the conquest of Mecca, the Muslims stayed in the city for two weeks when a news soon broke out that a big army had been mobilized in the valley of Hunain to attack Mecca and to undo the victory of the Muslims.

This time Muhammad assembled a force of twelve thousand warriors, which included two thousand non-Muslim Meccans. Muhammad was forced to make necessary preparations for defence. He felt the necessity of borrowing money for provisions and war supplies, therefore, according to "Masnad" (Cairo, 1895, 4th vol., p. 36) by Ahmad bin Hanbal (d. 241/855), "He took a loan of 30,000 dhirams from Abdullah bin Rabiah, a step-brother of Abu Jahl, who was very rich." He also wanted from Safwan bin Umayyah, who had not yet accepted Islam, to lend him the weapons of war. Safwan offered one hundred coats of mail together with their accessories. On 6th Shawal, 8/January 27, 630, Muhammad marched to Hunain to crush the powers of the four savage tribes, viz. Thaqif, Hawazin, Sa'd and Jasam. In order to reach the fertile valley of Taif, they had to pass through a narrow defile, called Hunain. It is a name of a valley running from Shara'il-ul-Mujahid, which is 11 miles east-north-east of Mecca, to Shara'i Nakhlah which is 7 miles and then runs north towards Zeima. Between the Shara'i the valley is quite wide, about 2 miles in most places, but beyond the old Shara'i it narrows down to between a quarter and a half-mile, and as it approaches Zeima, it gets narrower still. It is this second portion of the Hunain valley which is a defile, and the defile is narrowest near Zeima. Beyond Zeima the Taif route winds into the Wadi Nakhlat-ul-Yamaniyya.

When the Muslim army entered the narrow defiles overlooking the valley, Hawazin sharp-shooters, securely hidden; sent forth a murderous rain of arrows, causing havoc among the Muslims ranks, who took to a wild flight, and only a handful were left with Muhammad. At this critical moment, writes Ibn Hisham (2nd vol., p. 444), Muhammad raised his voice in a great cry, "O Muslims! I am here! I am the Prophet of God, and no one dare doubt my word. I am Muhammad, the son of Abdul Muttalib." But his cries were of no avail. The leading elements of Hawazin got to the place where Muhammad stood, and here Ali brought down the first infidel to fall at Hunain - a man mounted on a red camel, carrying a long lance at the end of which flew a black pennant. This man was chasing the Muslims as they fled. Ali pursued the man, and cut the tendons of the camel's hind legs with his sword. The man fell with the camel. Muhammad now moved towards the right with his handful companions and took shelter on a rocky spur. He turned to Ibn Abbas and ordered him to call the Muslims to rally around him. Ibn Abbas was of large stature who had very resonant voice, which according to some accounts, could be heard long away. He shouted: "O'people of Ansars! O'people of the Tree (those who had taken oath of allegiance at Hudaibia)" No sooner did this inspiring call reach the ears of the retreating Muslims than they rallied again, and made a counter-attack. The tide turned at once, and the unbelievers took to flight and dispersed.