28. A Victory in Disguise

The Prophet (s) hearing this disturbing news sent two of his companions to find out the truth. They said to Bani Qurayza, “Remember, the agreement you signed with the Messenger (s).” “Messenger? What Messenger?” they answered. “There was never any agreement between Muhammad and us!”

To make matters worse, a few horsemen from the enemy were able to finally cross a narrow part of the trench, so for a full day the Muslims were fighting them and the large army across the trench that was shooting arrows.

The Muslims were worried about their homes and families, but they stayed with our beloved Messenger (s). The women and children in the city crowded into the tall, fort-like buildings, and when soldiers from Qurayza threatened them, the women brandished swords from the windows.

The hypocrites said they were worried about their homes being attacked by Bani Qurayza, so they left the Muslims. They made comments like, “Muhammad made us grand promises, and one of us now is not safe to go relieve himself.”

At this point, a man called Nu’aim bn Masoud decided to become a Muslim. He came to the Prophet (s) and announced his Islam and asked what he could do. The Prophet (s) said to him, “You are only one person, but see if you can distract them from us.” The man had an ingenious idea. In war, a person is allowed to trick the enemy, so he devised a plan to turn the Quraish and the Jews in Medina against each other. First he went to Quraish and told them that the Jews in Medina were sorry they had started fighting Muhammad (s) and to prove that, they promised they would bring several men from Quraish to him to kill. Then he went to the Jews and said that Quraish was thinking of abandoning the battle, leaving the Jews alone to fight the Muslims. He advised them to ask Quraish and the other tribes for several men as a guarantee that Quraish wasn’t leaving. This made both sides suspicious of each other. So when the Jews asked for the men as guarantee, this confirmed to Quraish that they were taking those men to be killed. The trust between the two enemies to the Muslims had been broken!

Then came a relentless windstorm. Huthayfa bin al Yaman tells us, “On that cold and windy night the Prophet (s) asked, ‘Who will sneak into the camp of the enemy to find out what they are planning, and he shall be my companion in Heaven?’ No one moved. He asked again, but it was so cold and so dark and so windy, that no one volunteered. So, Prophet Muhammad (s) called me by name. I was trembling from the cold and from fear, but as soon as I got up, I felt warm. I reached Quraish’s camp. It was so dark that no one could notice me, but Abu Sufyan said, let each of you find out who is sitting next to him, because we don’t know if there are strangers amongst us. Quickly, I took the hand of the person on my right and asked, ‘Who are you?!’ ‘Amr bin Alhamdulillah-Aas,’ he answered. Then I grabbed the hand of the person on my left and asked, ‘Who are you?’ ‘Mu’awiya,’ he said. Then Abu Sufyan said, ‘As you see, the cold is unbearable, the wind keeps putting out any fire we light, and keeps turning over our pots, and uprooting our tents. I say we leave.’ Quickly, I went back to the Messenger (s) and told him the news. He covered me with his robe and I slept till the morning.”

By asking the questions first, Huthayfa kept his identity hidden, and the Quraish didn’t realize their enemy was amongst them.

The next day, with the tribes gone, the Muslims still had to deal with Bani Qurayza who had betrayed and fought them. Those who were fighters were killed with the exception of the ones who accepted Islam. And this was the last time the Muslims would be attacked by anyone within Medina.

The following year Prophet Muhammad (s) announced he was going on Umra. The Muslims had been longing for the Kaba, so they quickly joined the Prophet (s) and set out with the animals one brings to sacrifice in Umra or Haj. This way Quraish would see that they did not come for war. But when they arrived at the outskirts of Mecca, in the white cloths of Ihram, driving their sacrifice animals in front of them, Quraish sent a delegation to prevent them from entering Mecca. Prophet Muhammad (s) explained to them that they came to do a peaceful umra and leave, but they would not listen. They felt it would not look good in front of all the Arab tribes for Muhammad (s) to simply enter Mecca like that. The Prophet (s) saw the chance for peace so he offered them a treaty and the representatives of Quraish agreed. They wrote up a ten-year peace agreement that was named after the place it was written – Hudaybiah.

The Muslims were terribly disappointed.  They were anxious to do umra and had reached Mecca, but now they had to go back. The agreement seemed very unfair to them. It had conditions like, any Muslim who wanted to leave Quraish and join the Muslims must be sent back to Quraish, but if a Muslim wanted to leave Medina and return to Quraish, they were allowed.  But Prophet Muhammad (s) was satisfied, and in the Quran, Allah called this treaty a victory.

How was it a victory? It seemed so unfair!