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 Battle of the Trench (Khandak)

The Battle of Khandaq (AKA Battle of the Trench (Arabic ??????????), Battle of the Ditch, Battle of Ahzab (Arabic ???????????) was an attack by the city of Mecca on the city Medina in 627. The name "Battle of the Trench" comes from the fact that the Muslims dug a trench north of Medina to protect the city (Medina was naturally fortified on all other fronts). Although Mecca fielded a larger army it was not unable to overcome the defenses. The Qur`an narrates this war in the Qur`anic verses 33:9-

Preface to the battle
The army of Mecca was a confederation of the tribes Quraysh, Kinanah, Banu Sulaim, Ghatafan, Bani Murrah, Fazarah and Ashja` under the leadership of, amongst others, Abu Sufyan ibn Harb. The confederation fielded 10,000 soldiers; its backbone was the Quraysh cavalry. Medina was defended by 3,000 Muslims led by Muhammad. Outnumbered, the Muslim army opted to engage in a defensive battle by establishing deep trenches to act as a barrier along the northern front. The tactic of a defensive trench was introduced to the Arabs by Salman al-Farsi who acquired its knowledge in Persia. It is said that every capable Muslim in Medina contributed in digging the massive trench.


Medina`s Jews
According to most sources, individuals from among these clans plotted to take Muhammad`s life at least twice, and once they came within a bite of poisoning him. Two of the tribes, the Banu Nadir and the Banu Qaynuqa, were eventually exiled for falling short on their agreed upon commitments and for the consequent danger they posed to the nascent Muslim community.[citation needed]Muhammad asked them to leave the strategic position which they occupied, approximately 3 miles south of Medina. They refused to leave and the Muslims attacked. Since neither the Meccan polytheists nor other Jewish tribes helped, they were dismayed but their lives were spared, and they were given 10 days to leave with their families, and any other possessions they could carry. Most of them joined their brethren in Syria and the others in Khaybar.

There were many Jewish clans -- some records indicate more than twenty -- of which three were prominent: the Banu Nadir, the Banu Qaynuqa, and the Banu Qurayza.

Muhammad arrived in Medina in 622 believing the Jewish tribes would welcome him. Contrary to expectation, his relations with several of the Jewish tribes in Medina were uneasy almost from the start. This was probably largely a matter of local politics. Medina was not so much a city as a fractious agricultural settlement dotted by fortresses and strongholds, and all relations in the oasis were uneasy. In fact, Muhammad had been invited there to arbitrate a bloody civil war between the Khazraj and the Aws Allah, in which the Jewish clans, being their clients, were embroiled.


Medina Peace Pact
At Muhammad`s persuasion, Pagan tribes, Muslim and Jewish clans signed a pact to protect each other in the event there was an attack on the city. Certain individual pagans and recent Medinan converts to Islam tried to thwart the new arrangement in various ways, and some of the Jewish clans were uneasy with the threatened demise of the old alliances. At least three times in five years, Jewish leaders, uncomfortable with the changing political situation in Medina, went against Muhammad, hoping to restore the tense, sometimes bloody-but predictable-balance of power among the tribes.

The Battle
 
Battle of Khandaq (Battle of the Trench)The Quraish had recruited allies from northwestern Arabia to join the fight, including the assistance of the two exiled Jewish tribes. In addition, they sent envoys to the largest Jewish tribe still in Medina, the Banu Qurayza, hoping to win their support. The Banu Qurayza`s crucial location on the south side of Medina would allow the Anti-Muslim coalition to attack Muhammad from two sides.The Banu Qurayza were hesitant to join the Meccan alliance, but when a substantial Meccan army arrived, they agreed.

When the Quraysh-led coalition arrived to fight, their cavalry unsuccessfully tried to cross the trench for three days. Amro bin Abd-e-Widd Al-`Ameri and few other horsemen could finally jump over the trench. Amro was a strong and widely feared man by the Arabs for his fighting abilities. Ali, a young man then, killed him in a duel. The other horsemen ran away, one of them fell in the trench and was killed. Ali, in this, has shown great courage to face Amro and his star rose even higher among the muslims as a great hero. The trench was a huge psychologial and strategic set back for the Quraish coalition forces as this was not something they were able to handle nor had they ever experienced in this kind of warfare.The very fact that their strongest point was the cavalry which could not cross the deep trenches was a blow to their advances.

As the siege began, the Banu Qurayza n