30.1 The Battle of Hunayn
In the midst of peace and rejoicing news came that the tribes of Hawazin and Thaqif were making preparations to attack the Muslims. So once again they had to leave their families to answer the call of duty. In this battle their situation was different from all the preceding battles. In previous battles the Muslims had been inferior in number and weapons to their enemies, often overwhelmingly so. In this battle they had all the means at their disposal in terms of men, weapons, and experience, to expect a resounding victory. They were twelve thousand strong, consisting of the ten thousand who had conquered Mecca reinforced by two thousand from Quraysh, while the enemy numbered around four thousand.
Each tribe marched in splendid array preceded by its banner. Khaled ibn Al-Walid led the procession at the head of the tribe of Sulaym. They marched forward until they reached the valleys at the pass of Hunayn where they camped for the night. Well pleased with their numbers, they said to each other,
"Today we are invincible, today none is a match for us."
At first light they began to move with Khaled always in the forefront and Mohamed in the rear. Suddenly like a furious avalanche, thousands of warriors rushed upon them from the mountain heights, attacking like one man. They were nonplussed by the suddenness of the attack and confusion reigned. Something unnamable seemed to terrify them in the dim light, and they began to flee the field.
Mohamed saw one tribe after another flee in confusion.
"Where to? Where to?" he asked, riding on his little white mule.
When Abu Sufyan saw the tribes running, he said gleefully,
"Now they will continue to run until they reach the sea."
He meant that their defeat would be without limits.
The charging enemy were led by a man riding a black war camel and carrying a black banner on the point of a long spear. As the tribes fled past him, Mohamed could see the man, and went forward on his little white mule to face this formidable enemy. However one of his Companions, knowing it would be suicide, held tight the reins of the mule to prevent it from moving, and Al-Abbas, Mohamed's uncle who had strong lungs, cried,
"You Supporters who have given shelter and help!
You Emigrants who have sworn the oath under the tree!
Mohamed is alive, so come to him!"
These words were carried by the winds and echoed by the mountains. Those of true faith heard them and began to flock around the Messenger. They came from every direction crying,
"I come, I come in answer to thee."
They came, knowing they would face certain death. And they came to die with Mohamed. The enemy were four thousand, fighting in perfect order while those who answered the call were six hundred.