Battle of Hunayn

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This is a sub-article to Muhammad after the conquest of Mecca.
Battle of Hunayn
Date 630 (8 AH)
Location Hunain, near al-Ta'if in south-western Arabia
  • Muslim victory
  • 24,000 camels captured as booty.[1]
Commanders and leaders
Malik ibn Awf al-Nasri
12,000 20,000
Casualties and losses
Unknown 70 killed[2][3]

6,000 soldiers, women and children taken prisoner[1]

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The Battle of Hunayn was fought between Muhammad and his followers against the Bedouin tribe of Hawazin and its subsection the Thaqif in 630 in a valley on one of the roads leading from Mecca to al-Ta'if. The battle ended in a decisive victory for the Muslims, who captured enormous spoils. The Battle of Hunayn is one of only two battles mentioned in the Qur'an by name, in Sura Tawba.[4]



The conquest of Mecca astounded both the Arabs and other tribes, who realized that the once persecuted minority of Muslims was gaining the upper hand in its war with the belligerent pagan tribes. Some tribes refused to submit to Islam and favoured resistance. Ahead of these were the tribes of Hawazin and Thaqif. Nasr, Jashm, Sa‘d bin Bakr, and the tribe of Bani Hilal. According to the Muslim scholar Safi-Ur-Rahman Mubarakpuri "They thought that they were too mighty to admit or surrender to such a victory". So, they met Malik bin ‘Awf An-Nasri and made up their minds to proceed fighting against the Muslims.[3][5]

Number of Muslim Troops[edit]

On that day the Prophet had twelve thousand armed soldiers under his standard. Out of them ten thousand were those, who had accompanied him from Madina and had taken part in the conquest of Makkah, and the other two thousand were from amongst Quraysh, who had embraced Islam recently.

The command of this group rested with Abu Sufyan.

In those days such an army was hardly found anywhere and this numerical strength of theirs became the cause of their initial defeat. It was because, contrary to the past, they prided themselves on the large number of their soldiers and ignored the military tactics and principles of war.

When Abu Bakr's eyes fell on the large number of men he said: "We shan't at all be defeated, because our soldiers far outnumber those of the enemy[6]

Equipment Of The Muslims[edit]

The Prophet was aware of the strength and the obstinacy of the enemy. Before leaving Makkah, therefore, he called Safwan bin Umayyah and borrowed one hundred coats of mail from him and guaranteed its return. He personally put on two coats of mail, put a helmet on his head, mounted a white mule, which had been presented to him, and moved on behind the army of Islam in the rear guard. Meanwhile, the tribe of Bani Salim arrived in the passage of Hunayn under the command of Khalid bin Walid before the day had yet fully dawned.[7]


The Hawazin and their allies, the Thaqif, began mobilizing their forces when they learnt from their spies that Muhammad and his army had departed from Medina to begin an assault on Mecca. The confederates apparently hoped to attack the Muslim army while it besieged Mecca. Muhammad, however, uncovered their intentions through his own spies in the camp of the Hawazin, and marched against the Hawazin just two weeks[2][8][9] after the conquest of Mecca with a force of 12,000 men.[4] Only four weeks had elapsed since quitting Medina.[10]

Course of the battle[edit]

On Wednesday night, the tenth of Shawwal, the Muslim army arrived at Hunain. Malik bin ‘Awf, who had previously entered the valley by night, gave orders to his army to hide inside the valley and lurk for the Muslims on roads, entrances, and narrow hiding places. His orders to his men were to hurl stones at Muslims whenever they caught sight of them and then to make one-man attacks against them.

When Muslims started camping, arrows began showering intensely at them. Their enemy’s battalions started a fierce attack against the Muslims, who had to retreat in disorder and utter confusion.

It is reported that only a few soldiers stayed behind and fought, including Ali bin Abu Talib, the standard bearer, Abbas, Fazal bin Abbas, Usamah, and Abi Sufyan bin Hirith[11][12]

"Come on, people! I am the Messenger of Allâh. I am Muhammad, the son of Abdullah." Then Muhammad said "O, Allâh, send down Your Help!", later Muslims’ returned to the Battlefield. Muhammad, then Picking up a handful of earth, he hurled it at their faces while saying: "May your faces be shameful." Their eyes were thick with dust and the enemy began to retreat in utter confusion, according to the Muslim scholar Safi-ur-Rahman Mubarakpuri[2][3]

Enemy Flees, 70 killed[edit]

After the enemy was defeated. About seventy men of Thaqif alone were killed, and the Muslims captured all their riding camels, weapons and cattle.

The Quran verse 9:25 was also revealed in this event according to Muslim scholars:

Assuredly Allah did help you in many battle-fields and on the day of Hunain: Behold! your great numbers elated you, but they availed you naught: the land, for all that it is wide, did constrain you, and ye turned back in retreat.

But Allah did pour His calm on the Messenger and on the Believers, and sent down forces which ye saw not: He punished the Unbelievers; thus doth He reward those without Faith. [Quran 9:25]


Some of the enemies fled, and Muhammad chased after them. Similar battalions chased after other enemies, Rabi‘a bin Rafi‘ caught up with Duraid bin As-Simmah who was an old man and killed him. Durayd was an important asset of the pagan forces due to his great number of experiences in battle and knowledge of terrain and war tactics[13] .[3] This is mentioned by the Muslim jurist Tabari as follows:

The Messenger of God's cavalry followed those who went to Nakhlah, but not those who took to the narrow passes. Rabia b. Rufay' b. Uhban b. Tha'labah b. Rabi'ah b. Yarbu' b. Sammal119 b. 'Awf b. Imr al- [1666] Qays, who was called Ibn Ladh'ah after his mother, overtook Durayd b. al-Simmah and seized his camel by its halter, thinking that he was a woman because he was in a howdah. But lo, it was a man. He made the camel kneel down beside him and [found that] the man was very old. He was Durayd b. al-Simmah, [but] the young man did not know him. Durayd asked him what he wanted to do with him. The young man replied that he wanted to kill him. Durayd asked him who he was, and he replied that he was Rabi'ah b. Rufaya al-Sulami.He then struck him with his sword, but to no effect. Thereupon Durayd said, "What a poor weapon your mother has armed you with! Take this sword of mind that is in the rear of the saddle Take this sword of mine that is at the rear of the saddle in the howdah and strike me with it above the spine but below the brain, for I used to slay men in that way. Then when you go to your mother and tell her you killed Durayd b. al-Simmah. By God, how many times i protected your women".

[Tabari, The Last Years of the Prophet, Pg 16][14]


Because Malik ibn Awf al-Nasri had brought the families and flocks of the Hawazin along, the Muslims were able to capture huge spoils, consisting of 6,000 women and children were taken prisoners and 24,000 camels were captured. Some Bedouins fled, and split into two groups.[1] One group went back, resulting in the Battle of Autas, while the larger group found refuge at al-Ta'if, where Muhammad besieged them.[2][3][4]

Islamic Primary sources[edit]

The event is mentioned in the Sunni Hadith collection Sahih Bukhari as follows:

We set out in the company of Allah's Apostle on the day (of the battle) of Hunain. When we faced the enemy, the Muslims retreated and I saw a pagan throwing himself over a Muslim. I turned around and came upon him from behind and hit him on the shoulder with the sword He (i.e. the pagan) came towards me and seized me so violently that I felt as if it were death itself, but death overtook him and he released me. I followed 'Umar bin Al Khattab and asked (him), "What is wrong with the people (fleeing)?" He replied, "This is the Will of Allah," After the people returned, the Prophet sat and said, "Anyone who has killed an enemy and has a proof of that, will possess his spoils." I got up and said, "Who will be a witness for me?" and then sat down. The Prophet again said, "Anyone who has killed an enemy and has proof of that, will possess his spoils." I (again) got up and said, "Who will be a witness for me?" and sat down. Then the Prophet said the same for the third time. I again got up, and Allah's Apostle said, "O Abu Qatada! What is your story?" Then I narrated the whole story to him. A man (got up and) said, "O Allah's Apostle! He is speaking the truth, and the spoils of the killed man are with me. So please compensate him on my behalf." On that Abu Bakr As-Siddiq said, "No, by Allah, he (i.e. Allah's Apostle ) will not agree to give you the spoils gained by one of Allah's Lions who fights on the behalf of Allah and His Apostle." The Prophet said, "Abu Bakr has spoken the truth." So, Allah's Apostle gave the spoils to me. I sold that armor (i.e. the spoils) and with its price I bought a garden at Bani Salima, and this was my first property which I gained after my conversion to Islam.

Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:53:370

The event is also in Imam Maliks Al-Muwatta as follows:

Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab that al-Qasim ibn Muhammad said that he had heard a man asking ibn Abbas about booty. Ibn Abbas said, "Horses are part of the booty and personal effects are as well." Then the man repeated his question, and Ibn Abbas repeated his answer. Then the man said, "What are the spoils which He, the Blessed, the Exalted, mentioned in His Book?" He kept on asking until Ibn Abbas was on the verge of being annoyed, then Ibn Abbas said, "Do you know who this man is like? Ibn Sabigh, who was beaten by Umar ibn al-Khattab because he was notorious for asking foolish questions." Yahya said that Malik was asked whether someone who killed one of the enemy could keep the man's effects without the permission of the Imam. He said, "No one can do that without the permission of the Imam. Only the Imam can make ijtihad. I have not heard that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, ever said, 'Whoever kills someone can have his effects,' on any other day than the day of Hunayn." Al-Muwatta, 21 10.19

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c The life of Mahomet and history of Islam, Volume 4, By Sir William Muir, Pg 142
  2. ^ a b c d e The sealed nectar, By S.R. Al-Mubarakpuri, Pg259
  3. ^ a b c d e f Battle of Hunayn,
  4. ^ a b c Lammens, H. and Abd al-Hafez Kamal. "Hunayn". In P.J. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Encyclopaedia of Islam Online Edition. Brill Academic Publishers. ISSN 1573-3912. 
  5. ^ The sealed nectar, By S.R. Al-Mubarakpuri, Pg356
  6. ^ Tabaqat-i Kubra, vol. II, page 150 by Ahman Bin Abdul Wahab Sha'rani
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ "Reconnoitering the Enemy’s Weapons",
  9. ^ Revelation and Empire
  10. ^ Muhammad: Victory
  11. ^ Battle of Hunayn,
  12. ^ ln Mughazi, vol. III, page 602
  13. ^ Safiur Rahman al-Mubarakpuri (2005), The Sealed Nectar, Darussalam Publications, p. 262 
  14. ^ Tabari, Al (25 September 1990), The last years of the Prophet (translated by Isma'il Qurban Husayn), State University of New York Press, p. 16, ISBN 978-0-88706-691-7 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 22°58′24″N 38°49′11″E / 22.9733°N 38.8197°E / 22.9733; 38.8197