Battle of Hunayn

Jihad in the KoranMuhammad had entered Mecca a conqueror only two weeks earlier when he received reports of an army of unbelievers marching on the city. He quickly assembled a force of twelve thousand warriors, which included a large detachment of an estimated two thousand Meccans. For the first time, the Muslim army largely outnumbered the unbelievers, a group that consisted of warriors from four tribes: the Thaqif, Hawazin, Sa'd and Jasam.

The believers still almost lost the Battle of Hunayn (also spelled Hunain), when upon entering a narrow passage into the valley of Hunayn, situated between Mecca and Ta’if, they were met by a shower of arrows and fled in disarray.

Muhammad stood his ground and with the help of a believer with a booming voice who shouted his words, reminded the believers of their duty to him and to God. The fleeing warriors returned to the battle, and their superior numbers and newfound determination won the day.

Narrated Abu Ishaq:

Somebody asked Al-Bar-a bin 'Azib, "Did you flee deserting Allah's Apostle during the battle of Hunain?"

Al-Bara replied, "But Allah's Apostle did not flee. The people of the Tribe of Hawazin were good archers. When we met them, we attacked them, and they fled. When the Muslims started collecting the war booty, the pagans faced us with arrows, but Allah's Apostle did not flee. No doubt, I saw him on his white mule and Abu Sufyan was holding its reins and the Prophet was saying, 'I am the Prophet in truth: I am the son of 'Abdul Muttalib.' "

Bukhari 52.116

God reminded the victors, like at the Battle of Badr, that the victory was His, for it was He who got His Messenger and the believers to return to the fight. And like at the battle of Badr, He sent down invisible warriors, assumed to be angels, to hold back the unbelievers while the Muslims steeled themselves for a successful counter-attack.

9:25 Allah gave you victory in numerous places and on the day of Hunayn (a valley between Mecca and Ta'if) when you were pleased with your large number; but it availed you nothing and the land became too straight for you, despite its breath, whereupon you turned back and fled.

9:26 Then Allah sent down His Tranquility upon His Messenger and upon the believers, and He sent down soldiers you did not see, and punished the unbelievers. That is the reward of the unbelievers.

The Muslims followed the retreating unbelievers to their Hawazin fortress city of Ta’if about 75 miles from Mecca and laid siege to the town. After about a month, the defenders sent emissaries to the Prophet to ask for peace and beg for mercy, which was granted.

9:27 Then, Allah will pardon thereafter whom He pleases. Allah is All-Forgiving, Merciful.

However, there was no question of returning the booty, which some have estimated at six thousand captives, including women and children, forty thousand sheep and goats, four thousand ounces of silver and twenty-four thousand camels. The allocation of the booty led to the usual disagreements; in this instance, it was about the Meccans getting a greater share than those who had been fighting with Muhammad since the beginning.

Narrated Abu Qatada:

Allah's Apostle said on the Day of (the battle of) Hunain, "Whoever has killed an infidel and has a proof or a witness for it, then the salb (arms and belongings of that deceased) will be for him."

I stood up to seek a witness to testify that I had killed an infidel but I could not find any witness and then sat down. Then I thought that I should mention the case to Allah's Apostle (and when I did so) a man from those who were sitting with him said, "The arms of the killed person he has mentioned, are with me, so please satisfy him on my behalf."

Abu Bakr said, "No, he will not give the arms to a bird of Quraish and deprive one of Allah's lions of it who fights for the cause of Allah and His Apostle."

Allah's Apostle stood up and gave it to me, and I bought a garden with its price, and that was my first property which I owned through the war booty …

Bukhari 89.282

The Prophet was using the booty to strengthen the allegiance of the Meccans. As to the complainers, he rebuffed their accusations, in part, by reminding them that: “Were you not poor and God through me made you rich?" To which they replied: "Verily, God and His Prophet have been kind to us." They would get even richer as the campaign to rid the Peninsula, and eventually the known world, of unbelievers took on a new urgency.