27. Misfortunes, Schemes, and Miracles

They decided the best way to get rid of Muhammad (s) would be to unite everyone against him. They hoped to bring together as many tribes as they could to fight him. First, they went to Quraish to stir them up. The People of Quraish asked the Jews, “You have a book and you have knowledge. Tell us the truth, is our religion better or is Muhammad’s?” The Jews knew that worshiping idols was wrong. They knew that Muhammad (s) was truly a Messenger from God, but they lied to Quraish and said, “Of course, your religion is better.” This made the unbelievers happy and they agreed to join the army against the Muslims. “Any enemy of Muhammad is our friend,” they said.  Then Huyay went to several other tribes and promised them a full year’s worth of the dates of Khaybar (where he now lived) if they would join the army that planned to kill Muhammad (s) once and for all. Quraish was delighted to have such skilled fighters on their side. They, too, began to gather tribes that were their friends. And so, an enormous army of 10,000 men was formed!

The Muslims heard of this and wondered what they could possibly do to protect the city. Salman al-Farisi, who was a Muslim from Persia, explained to Prophet Muhammad (s) what they did in his country to protect a city. “Dig a trench around the city,” he said. A trench is the opposite of a wall. It was a deep and long hole. The Prophet (s) immediately asked all the Muslims to start digging, and he worked by their side. The digging was hard work and the Muslims worked all day, singing poetry about how happy they were to be Muslims, as they worked. These were hard times and there was not enough food. There was so little to eat that the Muslims would tie stones to their stomachs to quiet the hunger pains.

But there were miracles.

Jaber tells us the story of the meal he invited the Messenger (s) to, “For three days, we had had nothing to eat. People called out that there was a very big and hard rock that they couldn’t remove from the trench. The Prophet (s) said, `I’m coming.’ He lifted his arms and struck it with his pickaxe and it crumbled to dirt. When he lifted his arms I saw that he had two stones tied around his stomach; so, I asked his permission to leave for a short while (we had to take his permission even if we needed to go to relieve ourselves). I went to my wife and told her, `I cannot bear to see the Prophet (s) as I saw him today (I meant the two stones tied to his stomach),’ and I asked her if she had any food. `I have some barley and a goat,’ she said. Quickly she ground the barley and made some dough, then I started a fire to cook the meat. When the flour had risen and the meat was almost tender, I went to the Prophet (s) and told him that I had prepared some food – enough for him and perhaps another person or two. `How much food exactly?’ he asked. I told him, and the next thing, I heard him calling out, ‘O people of the trench! Come quickly, Jaber has prepared food for us all!’ I was terrified.

I went to my wife and told her, `The Messenger (s) is coming with all of the Muhajireen and all the Ansar, and all who were with them, to eat of your food! She calmly said, ‘Did he ask you how much food you had?’ I said, ‘yes.’ She said, ‘Allah and his Messenger know best.’

The Prophet (s) had asked me not to take the bread out of the oven nor the pot off the fire. When he arrived, he began to serve people with his own hands. He would break off some bread from the oven and serve the meat on top, then he would hand it over to group, after group, after group, until they had all eaten their fill. And there were one thousand men! Before he left, he said to my wife, ‘eat, and offer people, for truly people are hungry.’ The oven was still full of bread and the pot was still bubbling over!”

The daughter of Basheer ibn Saad, tells a similar story with dates, “My mother gave me a handful of dates and asked me to take them to my father and uncle who were digging the trench. On my way to them, Prophet Muhammad (s) saw me and called to me, ‘Come here, my daughter, what do you have with you?’  ‘Dates,’ I said, ‘for my father and uncle.’ ‘Give them to me,’ he said. And I poured the dates into his cupped hands and they did not fill them. Then he asked for a cloth to be spread out and he scattered the dates over it. ‘Call out to the people of the trench to come to lunch,’ he said to a man close by. And the people gathered, and they ate, and ate, until they were full. And the dates were still spilling from the edges of the cloth!”

When the enemy of 10,000 arrived, they were surprised by the trench. They had never seen anything like this. They tried to make their horses jump over a narrow part but the Muslims would shoot arrows at them, so they continued to surround and besiege Medina for almost a month. Huyay, the Jewish leader, snuck into Medina through the orchards in the south and began to persuade Qurayza to attack Muhammad (s) from behind. These Jews living with the Muslims refused at first. They said they were on good terms with the Muslims and that they were treated well by them. But this evil man kept convincing them until they agreed. He told them that he would stay with them, and that whatever happened to them would happen to him. So, Qurayza tore up the agreement they had with the Prophet (s) and they sent a message to the unbelievers saying, “Stay strong for we shall attack the Muslims from the back.”

 The Muslims were now caught between two enemies!