Battle of Khandaq
Photo: Shaykh Hamza briefs the students on the Battle of Khandaq. © Fareena Alam. Please do not re-use without permission and proper credit.
At the Battle of Khandaq the Muslims had established their largest army to date – they were 3000 men strong. Our blessed prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) was seeking suggestions on how to prevent defeat and it was Salman (radi Allahu anhu) who proposed building a trench. He explained that in Persia when they feared attack they would create trenches. His brilliant idea was received with great enthusiasm even though it was a foreign technique unused in Arabia. Each set of 10 men was responsible for digging a fixed portion of the trench. Together they worked endlessly and in 6 days achieved a 5 km long trench – a very difficult and quite a miraculous task given that the dimensions of the trench were 7 m wide and 4 m deep, the tools were primitive and the terrain was extremely rough. Although the trench no longer exists, we walked upon the very roads where it once stood. Thereafter, we prayed two rakats in the modest Masjid Al Fat’h, which was the site of the control centre for the battle.
Photo: Students climb the small hill to reach Masjid Fath which was built over what was the Prophet's (saw) command centre. © Fareena Alam. Please do not re-use without permission and proper credit.
We were told of Jabir Ibn Abdullah (radi allahu anhu) who was one of the companions working hard at building the trench. His pangs of hunger led him to our master (صلي الله عليه و سلم). It was customary in those days to tie rocks to one’s stomach in order to alleviate the pain resulting from prolonged hunger. Jabir (radi allahu anhu) had done so as well and he showed our blessed prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa salaam) his rock. As Jabir (radi allahu an) would now learn, he (صلي الله عليه و سلم) had not one, but two rocks tied to his own stomach! Realizing how much more intense the prophet’s hunger must have been, Jabir (radi allahu anhu) and his wife invited him to join them for whatever little food they had in their dwelling. He accepted their invitation and brought along with him his other fellow companions. Worry overcame Jabir’s wife (radi allah anha) because she knew the food was not ample enough for two people – let alone 10! Our prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) blessed the food with the name of Allah and covered the pot. He then began serving his companions ten at a time. Each time ten men had eaten their fill, they were replaced by another ten until 1,600 men had eaten. The prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) then served himself and the food in the pot remained as it originally was. Shaykh Hamza and Shaykh Abdullah took us to Masjid Bani Haram where this miraculous incident took place. We remained in awe as we stood at the very spot where this incredible meal was eaten and where Allah had demonstrated his Magnanimous Power. (It was also here that the children from the neighborhood gathered to greet Shaykh Hamza because they recognized him from T.V J)
And yes, this is the same Jabir (radi allahu anhu) whose father was the first martyr at Uhud. He(صلي الله عليه و سلم) told Jabir (radi allahu anhu) that his father was in paradise and that he was asked by Allah The Almighty what he would liked. He wished for nothing more than to die again for His sake. But Allah (SWT) said that would not be granted. So he asked to simply let the people know of his elevated state in the heavens.
Photo: A blind old man makes dhikr in the masjid while the rihla brothers pray. © Fareena Alam. Please do not re-use without permission and proper credit.
As the companions continued excavating, their tools were unable to penetrate one very stubborn rock. With no other options left, they suggested diverting the trench around the rock. Upon inspecting the situation himself, the prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) raised his axe in the name of Allah and struck the rock. One third of the rock broke off, creating a great light. The prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) then raised the pickax and gave it a second strike and another third of the rock broke. The prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) struck the rock a final time. The entire rock then shattered and glittering light was emitted and seen in the skies. He told his companions that at the first light, Allah (swt) promised him Yemen; at the second he was promised Shaam; and at the third he was promised Persia. Salman (radi allahu anhu) saw this prophecy fulfilled and witnessed the great capitals of Persia, Rome, Syria, Egypt, Iraq being ruled by Muslims. He himself became the governor of Persia. Masjid Al Raya was in the vicinity of where these promises were made. It also served as the first control centre for the battle (it was later moved to Masjid Al Fat’h) and we had the honour of praying within its walls and stepping foot on where our noble prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) may have stepped.
Photo: The female participants perform their two rakaat's nafl prayer. © Fareena Alam. Please do not re-use without permission and proper credit.
The battle ended with the nonbelievers camping outside the city for 24 days with no food. Allah sent upon them cool wind and a dust cloud. They were weakened and their camels began to die. Hopelessness overtook them and they retreated before they even began to fight. Allah granted victory to our prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) and his companions.