A description of the battle of At-Taa’if
Fatwa No: 163545

Question

Kindly give a brief description of the expedition of the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, to Taif.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

 

Let us mention here a summary of what is related by the prominent scholar Safi-ur-Rahmaan Al-Mubaarakpuri  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him in his book Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtoom, (The Sealed Nectar) about this Ghazwah (battle led by the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam).

He  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said that the battle of At-Taa’if was in fact an extension of the battle of Hunayn; that is because the majority of the defeated troops of Hawaazin and Thaqeef went into At-Taa’if with the general commander Maalik ibn ‘Awf An-Nadhri, and fortified themselves within it. So upon finishing from Hunayn battle, the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, gathered the war booty at Al-Ji‘raanah in the same month, Shawwaal, in the eighth year after Hijrah.

A vanguard battalion of a thousand men led by Khaalid ibn Al-Waleed  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him marched towards At-Taa’if. At the same time, the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, proceeded on until he arrived in At-Taa’if, where he dismounted, camped near its castle and laid a relatively long siege to the castle. According to the narration of Muslim on the authority of Anas ibn Maalik  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him it was forty days long.

Many incidents of shooting arrows and hurling rocks occurred between both parties during the siege. The Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, set up a mangonel and shelled the castle. Eventually a gap was made in the castle wall, through which a number of Muslims managed to pass into the castle (sheltered by a wooden tank), but the enemy poured down heated iron hooks on them. Affected by this, the Muslims stepped out (of the tank) and were again exposed to shooting arrows and consequently some of them were killed.

To force the enemy to surrender, the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, inclined to a stratagem of war of burning and cutting the enemy’s crops. His order was to cut their vineyards and burn them. Seeing that the Muslims started rapidly cutting and burning their vines, Thaqeef (the main tribe of At-Taa’if) implored the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, to leave them for the sake of Allaah and for the sake of kinship ties. So, the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, agreed. When the caller of the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, called out unto people saying: “Whoever descends and steps out of the castle is free”, twenty-three men came out. One of them was Abu Bakrah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him who tied himself to a wall and let himself down by means of a small wheel (which means Bakrah in Arabic), that would normally be used for drawing up water from a well. The way he let himself down made the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, nickname him “Abu Bakrah”, i.e. the man with the wheel. The Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, set them all free and entrusted each one of them to a Muslim to care for their living, which was too hard for the people within the castle to bear.

Seeing that the siege was getting prolonged and that the castle was immune and could stand any siege, for they had already stored a supply sufficient for over a year, and that the Muslims were suffering day by day from arrow-shots and heated iron hooks, the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, consulted Nawfal ibn Mu‘aawiyah Ad-Deeli about the situation. He said, “They are like a fox hiding inside its burrow. If you keep steadfast at it, you would catch it, but if you leave it, no harm would afflict you.” The Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, decided to lift the siege and depart. ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattaab  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him who was ordered by the Prophet to notify the people, said to them, “If Allaah wills, we are going to leave the castle and return home tomorrow.” As it was too hard for the Muslims to go back and leave the castle unconquered, they complained saying: “Should we go away while the castle is still unconquered?” The Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, replied: “Then, start fighting in the morning.” In the morning they fought and were severely wounded. So when he repeated this statement: “If Allaah wills, we are going to leave the castle and return home tomorrow”, they were pleased and carried out the order submissively and started moving, which made the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, laugh.

As soon as they mounted and started moving, the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “Say: Here we are returning, repenting, worshipping (Allaah) and to our Lord we offer praise.” When the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was asked to invoke Allaah against Thaqeef, he said: “O Allaah, guide Thaqeef and bring them to us as Muslims.”

Allaah Knows best.

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