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The Battle Of Ta'if

Ta'if is one of the fertile country towns of Arabia. It is situated to the south-east of Makkah. On account of its fine weather, gardens and palm groves, the town of Ta'if was the centre of a group of people who led very comfortable lives.

This town was inhabited by the Bani Saqeef who were one of the most powerful and popular tribes of the Arabs. The Bani Saqeef were amongst the people who fought against Islam in the battle of Hunayn. After suffering a defeat in this battle, they took refuge in a strong fort in their own town.

In order to complete the victory after the battle, the Holy Prophet (S) sent some men to pursue the Bani Hawaazan in Ootas while he marched with the rest of the army to Ta'if.

The fort of Ta'if was situated at a great height and had very strong walls, and its watch towers fully controlled the outside area. The army of Islam proceeded to surround the fort, but it had not yet been completely encircled when the enemies attacked with a shower of arrows and killed some Muslims. Salman Farsi suggested to the Holy Prophet (S) that the fort of the enemy might be stoned by means of large catapults.

The Muslim soldiers erected a catapult and stoned the interior and towers of the fort for about 20 days. However, the enemies continued to shoot arrows and thereby inflicted injuries to the soldiers of Islam.

In order to make the enemy surrender, it was necessary to attack it from all sides. A military vehicle was made of wood and was covered with thick leather. Strong soldiers took their places inside it and pushed it towards the fort and began making holes in the wall under its cover.

However, the enemies threw melted iron on top of the vehicle and burnt the roof covering. The Muslim soldiers became exposed to enemy arrows and so this tactic had to be abandoned.

The Bani Saqeef were rich and possessed a large number of slaves. In order to get information about the state of affairs inside the fort and to assess the strength of the enemy, the Holy Prophet (S) announced that those slaves who came out of the fort and took refuge with the army of Islam, would become free. This message proved effective to some extent and about 20 slaves escaped from the fort very skilfully and joined the Muslims. From them, it was learnt that those within the fort were not prepared to surrender at any cost, and even if the siege continued for one year they would not be faced with any shortage of food and provisions.

The Holy Prophet (S) decided that the conquest of the fort would require further activity and patience, and he did not wish to prolong the war for several reasons. These were:
  1. The siege of the fort had already resulted in the deaths of 13 Muslims. The Holy Prophet (S) did not want more Muslims to be killed.
  2. The Muslim army was becoming restless at the lack of results and wanted to receive their share of booty from the battles of Hunayn and Ootas.
  3. The month of Shawwal was coming to an end and the month of Zilqad was approaching. This is one of the four months during which war is forbidden.
  4. The Haj season was near and the Holy Prophet (S) wanted to take advantage of it as it was the best occasion to spread Islam further.
Keeping all these matters in mind, the Holy Prophet (S) gave up the siege of Ta'if and proceeded along with his soldiers to distribute the war booty in Ja'rana.

In the distribution of the booty, the Holy Prophet (S) gave larger shares to the newly converted Muslims. From his own share, he gave big gifts to the chiefs of Quraish. Such people are known as Mu'allafatul Qulub (those whose hearts are encouraged towards Islam.) This gesture of the Holy Prophet (S) made the new converts come closer to Islam, but upset the older Muslims, especially the Ansar.

The Holy Prophet (S) came to learn of their disappointment and addressed them as follows, "O group of Ansar! Why have you been grieved because I have given some small property to the Quraish so that they may become steadfast in Islam, when I have given over Islam to you? Are you not satisfied that while others take away camels and sheep, you shall take away the Prophet with you? By Allah! If all other people go one way and the Ansar go the other way, I will choose the way of the Ansar." Then he called for Allah's blessing for the Ansar and their children. The words of the Holy Prophet (S) made the Ansar weep with shame and they said, "O Prophet of Allah! We are content with our share."

While he was still in Ja'rana, the Holy Prophet (S) was approached by the Bani Hawaazan who surrendered to the Muslims and requested the release of their relatives. The Holy Prophet (S) released all the prisoners who had fallen in his share and the share of the other members of Bani Hashim. When they heard of his action, all the Muslims did the same. In this way about 6,000 prisoners were released.

On the 18th of Zilqad 8 A.H., the Holy Prophet (S) performed Umrah and then left for Madinah after appointing a deputy in Makkah. On his way to back to Madinah, he paid a visit to the grave of his mother in Abwa. The Holy Prophet (S) arrived back in Madinah on the 1st of Zilhaj, having been away for three months.

(Courtesy of:- Shia Ithna asheri Madressa)