Battle of Hunayn
The date and the names of the battle
When the Prophet (s) and his army conquered Mecca on Friday, 10 days to the end of the Ramadan month of 8/November, 12, 630, he stayed in Mecca for 15 nights, and then on Saturday, 6 of Shawwal/November, 28,they headed to the area of Hunayn in the northeast of Mecca.
The battle is called Yawm Hunayn (Arabic: یوم حنین, the day of Hunayn), Waq’at Hunayn (Arabic: وَقعة حنین, The event of Hunayn), Ghazat Hunayn (Arabic: غَزاة حنین, Ghazwas of Hunayn), Ghazwa Hawazin (Arabic: غزوة هَوازِن, the Battle of Hawazin), and Waq’at Hawazin (Arabic: وقعة هوازن, The event of Hawazin).
The cause of the battle
According to one account, the noblemen of the tribes of Hawazin and Thaqif anticipated the Muslims‘ attack after the conquest of Mecca, and so they decided to forestall and start the fight against Muslims. According to another account, when the Prophet (s)and his army departed from Medina to Mecca in order to conquer Mecca, these tribes thought that the Prophet (s) intends to fight with them. This is why they camped in Hunayn after the conquest of Mecca, and decided to fight with the Islamic army.
Events before the battle
The polytheists’ actions before the battle
Most clans of the Hawazin tribe, including Nasr, Jusham, Sa’d b. Bakr and some people from Banu Hilal under the leadership of Malik b. ‘Awf al-Nasri were mobilized to fight the Muslims, but some well-known clans of Hawazin, such as Ka’b, Kilab and Banu Numayr, did not join them. All the tribes allied to Thaqif joined under the leadership of Qarib b. Aswad and Dhu al-Khimar Subay’ b. al-Harith and his brother Ahmar b. Harith from Banu Malik.
When Malik b. ‘Awf decided to depart to fight with the Prophet (s), he took with the army the properties, women and children in order to encourage its men to defend them. When they arrived in Awtas—a rough and uneven field for horses—Durayd b. Simma, a blind old man from Jusham, who was experienced with wars, told Malik b. ‘Awf that if this battle were honorable, the brave men of Ka’b and Kilab would attend it. Thus he asked Malik to go to the battle only with his men, so that he can be joined by others in case he wins, but if he is defeated, then the children and women would be safe. However, Malik b. ‘Awf ignored his remarks and ridiculed him.
In Awtas, they received aids from different areas. When the Prophet (s) heard about this, he sent ‘Abd Allah b. Abi Hadrad al-Aslami to go among them anonymously and get more information. He confirmed that all polytheists had been allied to fight the Muslims.
The Prophet (s)’s actions before the battle
Ibn Ishaq has narrated a hadith from Imam al-Baqir (a) according to which when the Prophet (s) decided to go to the battle of Hawazin (battle of Hunayn), he sent someone to Safwan b. Umayya (a head of Quraysh who was still a polytheist at that time), asking him to lend armors and weapons to him and the Muslims (with the guarantee that they will return them to him). Safwan accepted this and lent 100 armors to them.
Together with 10,000 of his followers, who had helped him in the conquest of Mecca and 2,000 new converts to Islam from Mecca, the Prophet (s) departed from Mecca to fight the Hawazin. Some of these new converts only wanted to see who will win in order to seize booties, and they may have as well hoped that the Prophet (s) and Muslims would be defeated in this battle. The Prophet (s), Muslims, and some men from Quraysh, some of whom were still polytheists, arrived in Hunayn in the evening of Tuesday, 10 of Shawwal, 8/December 2, 630.
The arrangement of the two armies
Malik b. ‘Awf sent three people to spy on Muslims. The spies were overwhelmed by seeing the Islamic army. However, Malik b. ‘Awf situated his soldiers in Hunayn at night in order to organize an overnight surprise attack. At dawn, the Prophet (s) organized his soldiers and gave the flags to their holders.
Muslim flag holders
The flag of Muhajirun was given to Ali b. Abi Talib (a), that of Khazraj was given to Hubab b. Mundhar (or, on another account, to Sa’d b. ‘Ubada), and that of Aws was given to Usayd b. Hudayr. Each clan of the tribes of Aws and Khazraj and other Arab tribes had their flags.
The events of the battle
The beginning of the battle
The Prophet (s), with his war clothes on, visited the lines of his army, encouraging them to be combatant and patient and enunciating their victory. Then in the darkness of the dawn, he went down the Hunayn valley together with some Muslims.
The Hawazin and Thaqif polytheists, who were ambushed in the valley, launched a surprise attack on Muslims. The heads of Banu Sulaym, people of Mecca and then other people escaped.
The Prophet (s)’s supporters and the fugitives
There are different accounts of who stayed with, and supported, the Prophet (s). Some hadiths have mentioned four people: Ali b. Abi Talib (a), ‘Abbas b. ‘Abd al-Muttalib, Abu Sufyan b. Harith b. ‘Abd al-Muttalib, all from Banu Hashim, and also Ibn Mas’ud. According to some other hadiths, only 9 or 10 people from Banu Hashim, including the three people above, and another person not from Banu Hashim, that is, Ayman b. Umm Ayman, stayed with the Prophet (s).
The number of the fugitives is said to be from 100 to 300 people. Some fugitives from Mecca, such as Abu Sufyan b. Harb and Kalada b. Hanbal expressed their hatred for Muslims, and Shayba b. ‘Uthman b. Abi Talha, whose father was killed in the Battle of Uhud, even attempted to kill the Prophet (s).
The Prophet (s)’s strategy to make the fugitives return
The Prophet (s) told ‘Abbas b. ‘Abd al-Muttalib, who was holding the rein of the Prophet (s)’s horse in his hands and had a very loud voice, to shout: “O’ Ansar, O’ people of Samura, O’ people of Sura al-Baqara.” After this all the fugitives from all around returned to the Prophet (s). About 100 people went back to where the Prophet (s) was, helping him to fight the polytheists. And other companions returned later.
The prowess of ‘Ali b. Abi Talib (a)
Just like all other battles in the early Islam, Imam Ali (a) was more courageous than others. He attacked the enemy’s flag holder and killed them, and then the polytheists began to flee. On some accounts, Imam Ali (a) killed 40 people from the enemy.
Divine help in this battle
According to some hadiths, the Prophet (s) took a handful of soil and threw it to the enemy, saying: “let them be defeated”, and this led them to be defeated and flee. Moreover, according to Qur’an and hadiths, on the day of Hunayn, some angels landed on the Earth to help the Muslim warriors.
The casualties and captives of the enemy
When polytheists began to flee, 70 people from Banu Malik, a clan of Thaqif, were killed. On some accounts, the number of people of Hawazin who were killed is said to be the same as the number of people from Quraysh who were killed in Badr, that is, 70 people. However, according to Mas’udi, about 150 people from Hawazin were killed. In this battle, the Muslims captivated 6,000 women and children, 24,000 camels, over 4,000 sheep and 4,000 silver dishes.
Events after the battle
The fate of polytheists after the battle
The polytheists accompanied Malik b. ‘Awf to Ta’if. Some of them camped in Awtas, and some others from Thaqif went to Nakhla. The Prophet (s) sent some people to chase the polytheists who went to Nakhla, and he ordered Abu ‘Amir al-Ash’ari to chase the polytheists who went to Awtas. Abu ‘Amir was killed in his fight with them, and his cousin, Abu Musa al-Ash’ari, took his place and defeated the polytheists.
In this fight, Shayma bt. Harith b. ‘Abd al-‘Uzza, the Prophet (s)’s foster (rada’i) sister, was captured by Muslims. When they took her to the Prophet (s), he treated her with respect and then sent her, on her demand, to her clan. According to some accounts, the Prophet (s)’s talks with Shayma and her intercession about the Hawazin captives was one of the reasons why they captives were set free.
The Muslims’ actions after the battle
When the battle was over, the Prophet (s) permitted every Muslim who killed a polytheist to possess the war clothes and warfare that were left from the enemy. Then the captives and booties were taken to the Prophet (s). The Prophet (s) ordered the Muslims to take the captives and the properties to Ja’rana in the northwest of the Hunayn valley. After the battle, the Prophet (s) went to Ja’rana on Thursday night, 5 of Dhu l-Qa’da, 8/December 29, 630.
The emancipation of the captives
A delegate from Hawazin went to the Prophet (s) in Ja’rana, asking for the release of its captives by an appeal to their foster relationship with the Prophet (s). When the Prophet (s) emancipated his own share of the captives as well as that of the sons of ‘Abd al-Muttalib, Muhajirun and Ansar emancipated their share of the captives as well. A few people who did not accept to emancipate their captives then, did so later.
When the Prophet (s) was allotting the booties of the battle, he first gave the noblemen of Quraysh and the tribes of Arab their shares in order to make them more inclined to Islam. He then gave 100 camels to some people, such as Abu Sufyan b. Harb, and gave 40 or 50 to some others. He then had people and booties counted, giving each person a certain share of the booties. When the Prophet (s) gave a remarkable share to the noblemen of Quraysh and Arabs, some people from Ansar objected to him. The Prophet (s) gave a speech to them, convincing them about his decision, and praying for them.
The return to Medina
|Battle of Hunayn|
Sa‘d bin Bakr,
Bani ‘Amr bin Amir,
Bani ‘Awf bin Amir
|Commanders and leaders|
|Malik ibn Awf al-Nasri|
|Casualties and losses|
6,000 prisoners taken
24,000 camels captured as booty.