#42 – Battle of Khandaq
May 23 – 29, 2022
Shawwal 22 – 28, 1443


Battle of Khandaq

What have Allah and His Messenger said about

Battle of Khandaq

إِذْ جَآءُوكُم مِّن فَوْقِكُمْ وَمِنْ أَسْفَلَ مِنكُمْ وَإِذْ زَاغَتِ ٱلْأَبْصَـٰرُ وَبَلَغَتِ ٱلْقُلُوبُ ٱلْحَنَاجِرَ وَتَظُنُّونَ بِٱللَّهِ ٱلظُّنُونَا۠
˹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.

[Surah Al-Ahzab, Ayah 10]
وَلَمَّا رَءَا ٱلْمُؤْمِنُونَ ٱلْأَحْزَابَ قَالُوا۟ هَـٰذَا مَا وَعَدَنَا ٱللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُۥ وَصَدَقَ ٱللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُۥ ۚ وَمَا زَادَهُمْ إِلَّآ إِيمَـٰنًا وَتَسْلِيمًا
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.

[Surah Al-Ahzab, Ayah 22]
حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو بَكْرِ بْنُ أَبِي شَيْبَةَ، حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدَةُ بْنُ سُلَيْمَانَ، عَنْ هِشَامٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، فِي قَوْلِهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ ‏{‏ إِذْ جَاءُوكُمْ مِنْ فَوْقِكُمْ وَمِنْ أَسْفَلَ مِنْكُمْ وَإِذْ زَاغَتِ الأَبْصَارُ وَبَلَغَتِ الْقُلُوبُ الْحَنَاجِرَ‏}‏ قَالَتْ كَانَ ذَلِكَ يَوْمَ الْخَنْدَقِ ‏.‏
‘A’isha reported that these words of Allah:
إِذْ جَآءُوكُم مِّن فَوْقِكُمْ وَمِنْ أَسْفَلَ مِنكُمْ وَإِذْ زَاغَتِ ٱلْأَبْصَـٰرُ وَبَلَغَتِ ٱلْقُلُوبُ ٱلْحَنَاجِرَ وَتَظُنُّونَ بِٱللَّهِ ٱلظُّنُونَا۠
pertain to the day of Ditch.

[Sahih Muslim 3020]

The event of the battle of al-Ahzab

The word: (al-ahzab) is the plural form of: حِزب (hizb) which means party or group. In this battle, the combined forces of different groups of disbelievers had, under a pact to eliminate Muslims, mounted an attack on Madinah. Therefore, this battle has been named as the battle of al-Ahzab. And since, in this battle, a trench was also dug under the orders of the Holy Prophet ﷺ across the line of enemy attack, therefore, this battle is also called the battle of the Trench (Khandaq). The battle of Banu Quraizah too – which took place immediately after the battle of al-Ahzab and finds mention in the cited verses as well – that too, was actually a part of the battle of al-Ahzab, as it would appear through the details of this event.

In the year only next to the year the Holy Prophet ﷺ graced Madinah after migrating from Makkah al-Mukarramah, the event of the battle of Badr came to pass. In the third year, came the battle of Uhud. In the fourth year, it was this battle of al-Ahzab. Some narrations say that this event came to pass in the fifth year. Nevertheless, the attacks of the disbelievers against Muslims had been continuing since the hijrah up to this time without any break. The attack on the occasion of the battle of al-Ahzab was made with full power, determination and mutual pledge. Therefore, this battle was the severest on the Holy Prophet ﷺ and the noble Sahabah as compared with other battles – because, the count of the attacking confederate forces of the disbelievers has been given as twelve to fifteen thousand. On the other side, there were Muslims, three thousand in all, and those too very ill-equipped. Then, the time was hard winter. The Qur’an describes the horrible severity of this event by saying things like: زَاغَتِ الاَبصَارُ (the eyes were distracted – 33:10), بَلَغَتِ القُلُوبُ الحَنَاجِرَ (and hearts reached the throats – 33:10) and وَ زُلزِلُوا زِلزَالاً شَدِیداً (they were shaken with a violent convulsion – 33:11).

But, the way this time was the hardest on Muslims, they were also compensated at its best by Allah Ta’ ala. It was with His help and support that the matter ended in favour of Muslims in the form of such a great success and victory that broke the back of all hostile groups of Mushriks, Jews and Hypocrites leaving them just about incapable of even thinking of some attack against Muslims in the future. From that angle, this battle was the last armed confrontation between kufr and Islam. – fought on the plains of al-Madinah al-Munawwarah in the fourth or fifth year of hijrah.

The event began when about twenty men from the Jewish tribe of Banu Nadir and the tribe of Abu Wa’il who were morbidly hostile to the Holy Prophet and Muslims at large reached Makkah al-Mukarramah. They met with Quraish chiefs and roused them to start a war against Muslims. The Quraish chiefs were under the impression that the way Muslims took their idol-worship to be kufr (disbelief, infidelity) and for which reason they regarded their religion as ill-founded, the Jews too would be no different and their thinking would be similar to it. If so, how could they hope for a common ground of unity from them? Therefore, these chiefs asked the Jews, “You people know that there is difference of religion and creed between us and Muhammad ﷺ. And you are the people of the Book and the people of learning. First of all, you tell us as to which religion is better in your sight, ours or theirs?”

The reply given by these Jews was totally contrary to their knowledge and conscience. To them, they said, “Your religion is better than the religion of Muhammad.” Thereupon, the infidels of Makkah were somewhat satisfied. Still, the matter was taken to a future demonstration of intent. It was decided that these twenty visitors joined by fifty men from among the Quraish chiefs would go to al-Masjid al-Haram, cling to the walls of the Baytullah by their chests and make a solemn pledge before Allah that they would continue fighting against Muhammad ﷺ to their last man.

[Maarif ul Quran Vol-7 (pg 103 – 105) , Maktabah Dar al Uloom, Translation by Prof. Muhammad Hasan Askari & Prof. Muhammad Shamim]

Spiritual Reminders

Having Tawakkul in Allah (SWT) During Difficult Times
Here are the enemies of Allah in the House of Allah clinging to the walls of the Ka’abah of Allah making a compact to fight a war against His Rasul – and then return satisfied with a new passion for war! This is unique manifestation of the forbearance and magnanimity of Allah Ta’ ala. Then, the ultimate end of this compact is not too far to find. It will appear towards the end of the narrative in that all of them bolted from this battle.

These Jews, after having made a pact with the Quraish of Makkah, reached the tribe of Ghitfan, a great warring tribe of Arabia. They told them that they and the Quraish of Makkah were in full agreement with the plan to eliminate the spreaders of this new religion (Islam) once for all with their combined power. They asked them too to join hands with them in that pact. Then, they also offered them a bribe. They promised to give them the total produce of dates in one year in Khaibar – according to some narrations, they promised the half of it to the tribe of Ghitfan. ` Uyaiynah Ibn Hisn, the chief of the tribe of Ghitfan, approved of his participation in the pact under this condition. Thus, they too became a part of the war effort.

Then, in accordance with the mutual pact, the Quraish armed force of four thousand men, three hundred horses and war supplies laden on one thousand camels came out of Makkah under the command of Abu Sufyan and stopped at Marr az-Zahran. Here, all tribes of Aslam, Ashja’, Banu Murrah, Banu Kinanah, Fazarah and Ghitfan joined them. Their total number has been reported in some narrations as ten thousand, as twelve thousand in some others and as fifteen thousand in still other.

When the information about this aggressive united front reached the Holy Prophet (SAW), the very first verbal reaction came out from him in the words: Allah is all-sufficient for us, and the best One to trust in – 3:173. After that, he assembled opinion leaders from among the Emigrants and Helpers together and went into consultation with them. Although, the blessed recipient of Wahy (revelation) really needs no consultation for he acts directly with the permission of Allah Ta’ ala. But, there were two advantages in having such consultation: (1) To initiate and establish the Sunnah (practice) of consultation in the Muslim community and (2) to revive mutual liaison and unity in the hearts of the believers and to persuade them to the need of helping and supporting each other. After that, they talked about matters of defence and the physical resources needed in fighting a war. Present among the group of consultants. there was Sayyidna Salman al-Farisi ؓ who had recently freed himself from the artificially imposed slavery of a Jew and had devoted himself to the service of Islam. He advised that in his country, the Persian kings have used trenches they arranged to be dug across the enemy line of attack. This had always helped stop the enemy. Accepting his advice, the Holy Prophet ﷺ ordered that trenches be dug – and he himself participated with others doing that.

It was decided to dig this trench on the entire passage way behind the mount of Sal’ which could be used by the enemy to come into Madinah from the north. The ground marking of the length and width of this trench was personally drawn by the Holy Prophet (SAW). Beginning from Shaikhayn, this trench came as far as the western corner of the mount of Sal’ and later it was extended to the intersection of the valleys of Buthan and Rana. The total length of this trench was approximately three and a half miles. The precise measurement of the width and depth could not be ascertained from any narration. But, it is obvious that the width and depth would have also been special, of the kind the enemy would have not found easy to cross.

By chance, in the section of the trench entrusted with Sayyidna Salman and others with him, a huge, hard and glossy rock showed up. Sayyidna Salman’s colleague, Sayyidna ` Amr Ibn ` Awf ؓ says, “This rock broke our implements and we failed to cut it apart. Then I suggested to Salman that though it is possible to dig the trench bypassing the huge rock and join it up with the main trench with a minor crookedness in it, but we should not deviate from the line drawn by the Holy Prophet ﷺ as based on our opinion. So, you go, tell the Holy Prophet t about the position here and get an order from him about what we should do now.”
It is strange that in this three and a half mile stretch of land no one from among the diggers of the trench faced any impediment which would render him helpless. The only one who did face it was Sayyidna Salman ؓ who had given the advice of digging a trench and the whole project had started on his advice. To him Allah Ta’ ala showed that there was no way out even after digging and making a perfect trench – except turning to Allah Ta’ ala for help in the face of the failure of all implements and instruments. Here, these blessed souls were being taugh اِنَّ بُيُوْتَنَا عَوْرَةٌ that assembling material means to the measure of capacity and ability was obligatory, but to place trust in these was not correct. The trust of a believer – even after having assembled all possible material means – should be in Allah Ta’ ala alone.

Sayyidna Salman ؓ presented himself before the Holy Prophet ﷺ and told him about what had happened. At that time, the Holy Prophet ﷺ was himself working in his part of the trench. He was busy hauling the dugout earth from the trench. Sayyidna Bara’ Ibn ` Azib ؓ says, “I saw him. Dust had covered his blessed body in a manner that the skin on his front and back was not visible.” Rather than give Sayyidna Salman ؓ any advice or order, he accompanied him in person to the problem spot. With the ten Sahabah busy digging the trench with Sayyidna Salman ؓ ، he too went down into the trench and joined the diggers. He took the pickaxe in his blessed hands, struck at the rock and recited the verse: تَمَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ صِدْقًا (tammat kalimatu rabbika sidqa: And the Word of your Lord is perfect in truth… – al-An` am, 6:115). With this one single stroke from it, one third portion of the rock was cut off and released from this rock was a streak of light. After that, he struck at the rock once again and recited the said verse upto the end, that is: تَمَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ صِدْقًا وَّعَدْلًا is (tammat kalimatu rabbika sidqan wa ‘adla : And the Word of your Lord is perfect in truth and justice – al-An` am, 6:115). Cut off with this second stroke was an additional one third portion of the rock which released a streak of light as before. The third time, he recited the same verse in full and executed the third stroke. With it, the rock was all finished. The Holy Prophet t came out of the trench, picked up the sheet wrap he had left at the edge of the trench and sat down on one side of it. At that time, Sayyidna Salman al-Farisi ؓ said, “Ya Rasulallah, every time struck at the rock, every time I saw a light coming out of the rock.” The Holy Prophet ﷺ asked Sayyidna Salmn ؓ ، “Have you really seen this light?” He said, “Ya Rasulallah, I have seen it with my own eyes.”

The Holy Prophet ﷺ said, “In the light that was released after the first strike, I saw the palaces of the cities of Yaman and those of Cyrus and Angel Jibra’il told me: ‘your Ummah will conquer these cities.’ And when I struck at the rock the second time, I was shown the red palaces of the Byzantines and Angel Jibra’il gave the good news, ‘your Ummah will conquer these cities as well.’ ” After having heard this, all Muslims felt at peace and became assured of their great successes in the future.

To summarize the battle, five years after Hijra the battle of Khandaq, also known as the battle of the trench started. This battle lasted for a month and involved a long fight between the Muslims of Madinah and the Jewish tribes. The Prophet (SAW) had ordered a trench to be dug for defense as Salman Al-Farsi had suggested. The purpose of the battle was to protect Madinah from an offensive by some Jewish and Quraish tribes who were all in an alliance to get revenge on the Muslims for being expelled from Madinah. The Jews went to the Quraish of Makkah and offered support in an attack against the Prophet (SAW) and the Muslims. After the Prophet (SAW) heard about the plot of the Jews against the Muslims, trenches were ordered to be dug. The Muslim army only consisted of 3,000 men, while the enemy forces were around 10,000. Muslim woman and children were attacked unexpectedly from the south. Thereupon, The Prophet (SAW) sent an army to the south to protect the woman and children which was successful in their defence.

A leader of the enemy tribes known as Nuaym ibn Masud had accepted Islam and had offered to help the Prophet (SAW). Nuaym ibn Masud helped the Muslims by successfully braking the trust and alliance of the enemy tribes. The Prophet (SAW) and the Muslims had made much supplication for the assistance of Allah (SWT). In the end, due to the help of Allah and the patience and tawakkul of the Muslims, the Muslims were able to defeat their enemies despite being outnumbered. After the Muslims were victorious, they had rule over the all the tribes of Madinah.

[Adapted from Maarif ul Quran Vol-7 (pg 106 – 110) , Maktabah Dar al Uloom, Translation by Prof. Muhammad Hasan Askari & Prof. Muhammad Shamim]



The Bravery of a Young Sahabi
It was narrated from Ibn ‘Umar that he presented himself to the Messenger of Allah on the Day of Uhud when he was fourteen years old, but he did not permit him (to join the army). He presented himself on the Day of Al-Khandaq when he was fifteen years old, and he permitted him (to join the army).

[Sunan an-Nasa’i 3431]

Sunnah Acts

The Prophet (SAW) Visiting The Injured
It was narrated that ‘Aishah said: “Sa’d was wounded on the day of Al-Khandaq [1] when a man of Quraish shot him in the medial arm vein. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) pitched a tent (Khaimah) for him in the Masjid so that he could visit him close at hand.”

[Sunan an-Nasa’i 710]


Dua for Tawakkul
حَسْبِىَ ٱللَّهُ لَآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۖ عَلَيْهِ تَوَكَّلْتُ ۖ وَهُوَ رَبُّ ٱلْعَرْشِ ٱلْعَظِيمِ
Hasbiyal laahu laaa ilaaha illaa Huwa ‘alaihi tawakkkaltu wa Huwa Rabbul ‘Arshil ‘Azeem

Allah is sufficient for me. There is no god ˹worthy of worship˺ except Him. In Him I put my trust. And He is the Lord of the Mighty Throne

[Surah At-Tawbah, Ayah 129]

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