Tafsîr Al-Mîzān on Sura 33:9-27
By Muḥammad Ḥasan Al-Ṭabāṭabā’î
Tafsîr al-Mîzān on Sura 33 (Surat al-Aḥzāb):9-27
THE QUR'ĀN TEXT:
“You faithful ones! Remember God’s favor to you when armies came at you and We sent upon them a wind and armies that you could not see. God however sees anything that you do!” (9)
“When they came upon you from above and from below, your perception deviated and your hearts reached into your throats, and you were having second thoughts about God.” (10)
“At that point the believers were put to the test and shaken in a severe manner.”
“Then the hypocrites and those with illness in their hearts said: What God and His messenger promised us is all delusion.” (12)
“When a faction of them said: ‘O people of Yathrib! You have no place to stand. So return! Some of them asked permission from the prophet, saying: ‘Our houses are unprotected’. But they were not unprotected. All they wanted to do is flee.” (13)
“If [the enemy] had entered from all sides, and they would have been asked to defect, they would have complied without very little hesitation.” (14)
“Even though, before, they had made a covenant with God not to turn their backs. A covenant with God must be answered for!” (15)
“Say: It will not benefit you if you flee from death or killing. For your enjoyment [in this life] will only last a little while.” (16)
“Say: Who is it that can protect you from God, if He wills you harm or if He intends mercy for you? Besides God, they will not find themselves a protector or a helper. (17)
”God already knows those among you who hinder others and say to their brothers: ‘Come over to us!’ while they only come forward to show little courage in battle…” (18)
“… doing as little as possible. Then, when fear comes, you see them look at you with rolling eyes like someone who is overcome by death. But when the fear is gone, they hurt you with sharp tongues, greedy for the spoils. These are not true believers. Therefore God has thwarted their actions. And that, for God, is easy.” (19)
“They think the allies haven’t permanently left, and if the allies should return, they wish they could dwell among the Bedouin Arabs, [conveniently] inquiring for news about you. If they were among you, they would hardly fight at all.” (20)
“You have an excellent example in the messenger of God, for those whose hopes are in God and the Last Day, and who keep God continuously in mind.” (21)
”And when the believers saw the allied forces [leave], they said: ‘This is what God and His messenger promised us. God and His messenger spoke the truth!’ It only increased their faith and their submission.” (22)
“Among the believers, there are men who have been true to the covenant they made with God. Some of them have ultimately fulfilled their vow [with death], while others are still waiting without in any way changing [their alliance].” (23)
“May God reward those who are genuine for their truthfulness and punish the hypocrites – all according to His will – or accept their repentance. Surely God is forgiving and merciful.” (24)
“And in their rage, God turned back those who disbelieved. They did not gain anything good. God saved the believers in battle. God proved himself Strong and Mighty.” (25)
“And those People of the Scripture who supported them, He brought down from their fortresses, and He cast terror into their hearts as you killed part of them and took another part as captives.” (26)
“And He let you inherit their land and their homes and their properties and a land which you had not sat your foot on. God is able to do anything.” (27)
Muḥammad Ḥasan Al-Ṭabāṭabā’î's Commentary:
[This section deals with] the story of the Raid of the Trench and the episode of the Banū Qurayẓa that comes right after. It highlights the continuity of this episode with what was described before by discussing the keeping of the covenant versus violating it.The word of the Almighty: “O you who believe! Remember God’s favor to you when armies came at you…” etc., is a reminder for the faithful of how [God] bestowed favors on them during the Days of the Trench by their victory and by the pagan troops being turned away. These were troops recruited from different nations and tribes, such as the Ghaṭafān, the Quraysh and a mixture of clans. Also, Kināna and the Jews of Qurayẓa and the Naḍîr. They encircled them from above and from below. Then God inflicted them with a storm and sent down angels causing them to retreat.
EXPLANATION OF TERMS:
The words (in verse 9): “O you who believe! Remember God’s favor to you when...” contains the actual Divine favor or [in other words,] its unshakable character.
” Armies came at you”: from each and every faction there was an army, such as from Ghaṭafān, Quraysh and others.
“And We sent” alludes to the manifestation of that favor. [God’s heavenly] sending was the outcome of them coming.
“Upon them a wind”: this was an East wind, which happens to be cold during winter nights,
“and armies that you could not see”: these were angels to frustrate the polytheists.
“God however sees anything that you do!”
The words (in verse 10): “When they came upon you from above and from below…” etc. The ones coming from above, which is the east side of Medina were the Ghaṭafān, and the Jews of the Banū Qurayẓa and the Banū Naḍîr, while those coming from below, meaning from the west, were the Quraysh and those who had joined forces with them such as a mixture of tribes and the Kināna. So the phrase “When they came upon you from above and from below…” is an explicative apposition of “when armies came at you”.
The phrase “then your perception deviated, and your hearts reached into your throats” is another explicative apposition, namely of the words “when armies came, etc.”.
The deviation of their perceptions means that they were disinclined, their ‘hearts’ means their souls, and throats (ḥanājir) is the plural form of throat (ḥanjar) which is the inside of the larynx.
These two depictions, namely the deviation of their perception [Lit: their eyes turning away] and their hearts reaching into their throats are two metaphors for totally being overwhelmed by fear to the point that it brought them to the brink of death which made their eyes turn away and their spirit rise into their throats.
And further: “and you were having second thoughts about God” means that the hypocrites and those with illness in their hearts were harboring certain thoughts. Some of them thought: ‘The infidels will reach Medina and capture it’. Others were thinking: ‘Islam will be wiped out and the religion will be lost.’ Yet others thought: ‘Paganism will take over like before.’ And again others were thinking that God had deceived them and His messenger’, these and other such thoughts.
(I will now skip over to sections related to the Jews …)
The word of the Almighty (in verses 26 and 27):
“And those People of the Scripture who supported them, He brought down from their fortresses, and He cast terror into their hearts as you killed part of them and took another part as captives” (until) “… able to do anything.”
Supporting is another word for helping, and fortresses (ṣiyāṣî) is the plural form of ṣîṣîya, which is a stronghold that offers protection. Perhaps the expression of them being brought down versus being taken out is because those who seek protection ascend the citadel so that from its tower and from the highest walls they can look down on their enemies outside and observe their siege.
The meaning of “And those (…) who supported them, He brought down…” is that they helped the polytheists. These were the Banū Qurayẓa.
“Of the People of the Scripture”: those were the Jews.
“From their fortresses”: their strongholds.
“And He cast”: He projected.
“Terror into their hearts”: Fear.
“You killed part of them”: those were the men.
“And you took another part as captives”: these were the women and the children.
“And He let you inherit”: That is, additionally, their possessions.
“Their land and their homes and their properties and a land which you had not sat your foot on”: This could be the land of Khaybar, or a land that God bestows on you that hasn’t been trampled on either by horses or by camels. As far as the interpretation is concerned that this refers to any land that will be conquered until the Day of Judgment, or the land of Mecca, or the lands of the Byzantines and Persia, those do not fit the context of these two verses, [but] “God is able to do anything.”
THE UNDERLYING STORY ACCORDING TO ṬABĀṬABĀ’Î:
It says in the Majma’ :
Muḥammad ibn Ka`b al-Qurṭubî and other scholars of the prophet’s biography mention :
‘The episode of the trench started when a party of Jews rode out. Among them were Salām ibn Abî Al-Ḥaqîq and Ḥuyayy ibn Akhṭab, a group of the Banū Al-Naḍîr who had been expelled by the messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace). They traveled until they reached the tribe of the Quraysh in Mecca, whom they enticed to go to war against God’s messenger (God grant him and his family salvation and peace). They said: ‘We will be on your side against them and we shall eradicate them!’ The Quraysh answered: ‘You Jews! You are the people of the first revealed Book. Please tell us, is our religion better or the religion of Muḥammad?’ They answered: ‘O no! Your religion is better than his. You are more in line with the truth than he!’ These [Jews] are the ones about whom God revealed the verse: “Have you not seen those who have received a portion of the Scripture? They believe in sorcery and evil and they say about the infidels: They are better guided than the believers, on their path.” (Sura 4: 51) That answer made the Quraysh happy and they eagerly and unanimously agreed to accept the proposal.
After that, that same band of Jews left and traveled to the tribe of the Ghaṭafān, whom they also asked to go to war against the messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace). They informed them that they themselves would also be fighting [Muḥammad] and that the Quraysh had already agreed to join. The [Ghaṭafān] responded favorably.
The Quraysh rode out under the leadership of Sufyān ibn Ḥarb. The Ghaṭafān also rode out, [in units divided by clans]: `Unayna ibn Ḥaṣîn ibn Ḥudhayfa ibn Badr was at the head of the Fazāra clan, Al-Ḥārith ibn `Awf led the clan of the Banū Murra, and Mas`ar ibn Jabala Al-Ashja`î was the leader of the Al-Ashja` division. The Ghaṭafān were allies with the Asad tribe and they had contacted them by letter, so the Banū Asad also advanced under their commander Ṭulayḥa. At the same time, the Quraysh had written the men of [their allies], the Banū Sulaym, and the Banū Sulaym chief, Abū Al-A`war Al-Sulamî, advanced at the head of his people in support of the Quraysh.
When the messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) heard about this, he made the trench in defense of Medina. Salmān the Persian was the one who instructed him about this. This was only the first major event that Salmān witnessed with God’s messenger (God grant him and his family salvation and peace). At that time, he had already been freed [from slavery].
He said: ‘O messenger of God! Back in Persia when we were under siege, we would dig a trench to defend ourselves.’ The messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) and the Muslims acted on [this advice] and they built it real well.
Abū `Abdullah Al-Ḥāfiẓ reports a number of proofs of [Muḥammad’s] prophethood that were apparent during the digging of the trench. He quotes Kathîr ibn `Abdullah ibn `Umar  ibn `Awf Al-Muzanî, who said: ‘My father, who had heard it from his father, told me: ‘In the Year of the Allied Forces, the messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) marked [the position of] the trench [and assigned] forty cubits [to be dug] by [each group of] ten.
The [Meccan] immigrants and the Muslims from Medina had a disagreement about Salmān the Persian who was a strong man. The Medinan Muslims said: ‘Salmān is one of us.’ But the immigrants said: ‘He belongs to us!’ Finally, the messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) said: ‘Salmān is one of us; a member of my household.’
`Amr ibn `Awf said: ‘I was in a group with Salmān and Ḥudhayfa ibn Al-Yamān, Al-Nu`mān ibn Muqrin, and six from the Medinan community, and we were working through our forty cubits. We dug until we reached Al-Tharā . Then God caused a round, white rock to appear inside the trench [which was so hard that] it broke our iron [tools]. This caused us so much hardship that we said: ‘Salmān, climb out and go to the messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace), and tell him about this rock! Either we can dig around it, as the adjusted route would be close by, or else he can give us a different order because we don’t want to disregard his outline. So Salmān climbed out and went to the messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) who had just pitched a round tent for himself. He said: ‘Messenger of God! In the trench we came upon a white rock. It is round and it breaks our iron tools. It is causing us great hardship and we don’t even have any impact on it, neither small nor great. So please give us your instructions!’ God’s messenger (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) went down into the trench with the Muslims. He grabbed a pickaxe and gave [the rock] a blow. A flash of lightening shot out that lit up everything between the two ranges of black rock, meaning the ranges of black [volcanic] rocks on both sides of Medina, as if there was a [bright] lamp in the middle of a dark night. God’s messenger (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) shouted “Allāhu Akbar” , a shout of victory, and the Muslims, too, shouted “Allāhu Akbar!” He then struck another blow and again, a flash of lightening shot out. He struck a third blow and there was another flash of lightening. Salmān said: ‘You are to me as my father and my mother… Messenger of God! What was that [flash] that I saw?’ He answered: ‘The first one was when God, High and Exalted, preordained victory for me over Yemen. The second time He granted me victory over Syria and over the West.  And the third flash signified that God grants me victory over the East.’ The Muslims rejoiced over this and said: ‘Praise be to God! [This is] a true promise!’
[Kathîr] continues: ‘So when the allied clans came up, the Muslims said: ‘This is what God and His messenger have foretold. God and His messenger have spoken truthfully!’ But the hypocrites said: ‘Don’t you think this is weird? He tells you things and promises you nonsense! He actually declares that he can see the palaces of Al-Ḥîra and the cities of Kosrau  right here in Yathrib  and that you will conquer them. But in the meantime you are digging this trench and you cannot get out of it.
Abū `Abdullah Al-Ḥāfiẓ furthermore reports signs of [Muḥammad’s] prophethood that showed themselves, quoting `Abd Al-Wāḥid ibn Ayman Al-Makhzūmî, who said: ‘[My father] Ayman Al-Makhzūmî told me: ‘I heard Jābir ibn `Abdullah say: ‘On the Day of the Trench we were digging the trench and a boulder appeared, which was [part of] the mountain. We said: ‘Messenger of God! We came upon a boulder in the [trench]. God’s messenger (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) said: ‘Sprinkle water on it! He then got up and came to [see] it. He had a stone tied against his stomach to [suppress] the hunger. He grabbed a pickax or a shovel. After having said three times: “In the name of God (Bismillāh)!” he struck and it turned into a mere heap of sand.
[After having seen that Muḥammad was suppressing his hunger in this manner], I (Jābir) asked : ‘Allow me, messenger of God [to go] home.’ He allowed me to go. I said to my wife: ‘Do you have any [food]?’ She answered: ‘I have a saa`  of barley and a young she-goat.’ She ground the barley and made it into dough and I slaughtered the goat, skinned it, and gave that over to my wife. Then I went to God’s messenger (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) and set with him for a while. After some time had passed, I said: ‘Excuse me, messenger of God!’ He excused me. I went back to my wife [and saw that] the bread and the meat were almost ready. Then I returned to God’s messenger (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) and said: ‘We have some food! So come, messenger of God, you and two of your companions!’ He asked: ‘How much is there?’ I answered: ‘A saa` of barley and a young she-goat.’ He then spoke to all the Muslims: ‘Proceed to [the house of] Jābir!’ And so they did. Only God knows how embarrassed I was. I said [to myself]: ‘He is bringing the whole of mankind to [a meal of just] a saa` of barley and a young she-goat.’ I entered [the house and approached] my wife, saying: ‘Everyone knows. The messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) is bringing all of mankind.’ She replied: ‘Did he ask you how much food there was?’ I said: ‘Yes he did.’ She answered: ‘Since we have informed him how much we have, God and His messenger know best.’ [By saying this], she removed a huge burden from me. Next, the messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) entered and spoke to my wife: ‘Take some of the food and give it to me!’ God’s messenger (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) then started to break and distribute the food. [Seeing that], each and every person felt real hungry, but he kept handing out [portions] to the people until they all had eaten their fill. He then gave back the bread oven and the meat pot and they were still as full as they had been before. God’s messenger (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) then said [to my wife]: ‘Eat and put food aside [to give to others]!’ We, in the meantime, were all still eating and putting food aside to give to others.’ This story has been reported by Al-Bukhārî in his Ṣaḥîḥ.
It has been recorded: ‘When the messenger of God had finished the trench, the Quraysh approached and encamped between Al-Juruf and Al-Ghāba  with ten thousand men from mixed tribes as well as those who had joined them from the Banū Kināna and the people from the coastal plain. The Ghaṭafān arrived as well with troops who had joined them from the Nejd and they encamped towards Uḥud.
God’s messenger (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) left [Medina] with the Muslims and they positioned themselves with their backs toward Mount Sal` with three thousand Muslim men. That is where he stationed his army, with the trench between him and the [other] people. He ordered the women and the children and placed them away in shelters.
The enemy of God, Ḥuyayy ibn Akhṭab of the [Jewish] Al-Naḍîr tribe traveled to Ka`b ibn Asad Al-Quraẓî, the leader of the Banū Qurayẓa. [This Ka`b ibn Asad] had made peace with the messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) on behalf of his people and had sworn allegiance. So when Ka`b heard the voice of Ibn Akhṭab, he locked him out of his fortress. [Ḥuyayy] asked permission to enter but he refused to open the gate for him. [Ḥuyayy] called out: ‘Ka`b, open the gate for me!’ But he replied: ‘Woe unto you, Ḥuyayy! You are a man who brings bad luck! I already have a pact with Muḥammad and I am not going to break up our relationship. And besides, he has always been loyal and truthful.’ He answered: ‘Woe unto you! Open the gate so I can talk to you!’ [Ka`b] said: ‘I will not!’ [Ḥuyayy] said: ‘You are shutting me out because you are too stingy to share your meat pie with me.’ This offended the man and he opened the gate for him. [Once inside, Ḥuyayy] spoke: ‘Woe unto you Ka`b! I have come to bring you glory and destiny, and an overflowing sea [of soldiers]. I bring you the Quraysh led by their commanders and their chiefs, and the Ghaṭafān led by their commanders and chiefs. They promised me that they will not leave until they have annihilated Muḥammad and those with him.’ Ka`b replied: ‘You bring me disgrace and destiny instead, clouds that have shed all their water. There may be thunder and lightning, but they are empty. Leave me and Muḥammad alone! I won’t turn against him as he has always been truthful and loyal.’
Ḥuyayy kept twisting Ka`b’s mind, giving it his top and utmost effort. [Ḥuyayy] finally offered him his pledge and vow [saying]: ‘Should the Quraysh and the Ghaṭafān withdraw without defeating Muḥammad, then I will join you in your fortress . What will happen to me will happen.’ Ka`b then accepted his deal and distanced himself from his agreement with the messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace). When the news reached God’s messenger (God grant him and his family salvation and peace), he sent Sa`d ibn Mu’ādh ibn Al-Nu`mān ibn Imru’ al-Qays  of the `Abd Al-Ashhal clan, who was at that time leader of the Aws [tribe]. Also, [he sent] Sa`d ibn `Ubāda of the Banū Sā`ida (ibn Ka`b ibn Khazraj) clan, who was at that time chief of the Khazraj. Furthermore `Abdullah ibn Rawāḥa and Khawwāt ibn Jubayr. He instructed them: ‘Go forth and examine if what they tell us about these people is true or not!’ If it is true, tell it to us straight-out, in language that we can all understand. But do not undermine the determination of the people. But if they are still loyal, then publicly declare so to the people!’ So they set off and came to [the Banū Qurayẓa], and what they found was even worse than what had been reported. They said: ‘We have no agreement or treaty with Muḥammad.’
Upon that Sa`d ibn `Ubāda insulted them and they insulted him back. Sa`d ibn Mu`ādh said: ‘Stop insulting them, for what is happening between us and them is too serious for an insult!’
They went back to the messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) and said: ‘[They are] Big rat and the she-bear!’ Big rat and the she-bear have betrayed the companions of God’s messenger. Deceiver son of (ibn) Hostile! His companions are the companions of excrement!’ But God’s messenger (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) said: ‘God is great (Allāhu Akbar)! Rejoice, Muslim comrades!’
Thereupon affliction grew stronger and fear became fiercer. Their enemy came upon them from above and from below. The faithful were having all kind of thoughts and some of the hypocrites started to show their true nature.
Both the messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) and the pagans held on to their positions for over twenty night. No battle occurred between them, besides arrows being shot. However, there were horsemen from the Quraysh who dressed for battled and rode out on their horses. Among them were `Amr ibn `Abd Wudd, one of the members of the `Āmir ibn Lu’ayy clan, furthermore `Ikrama ibn Abî Jahl, Ḍirār ibn Al-Khaṭṭāb, Hubayra ibn Abî Wahb, and Nawfal ibn `Abdullah. They passed by the houses of the Banū Kināna and said: ‘Get ready for war, sons of Kināna! Today you will know who the real horsemen are!’ They then galloped ahead until they stopped at [the edge of] the trench. They said to each other: ‘By God! This is a tricky kind of contraption that was never before devised by Arabs!’ They then turned to a narrow place in the trench, urged their horses and jumped over. [The horses] now were running around on the marshy ground between the trench and Mount Sal`.
`Alî ibn Abî Ṭālib came out with a Muslim unit in order to retake the passage through which they had stormed in. The horsemen then advanced at them. `Amr ibn `Abd Wudd, a horseman of the Quraysh [was at the head]. He had fought on the Day of Badr until he had to be removed from battle because of his wounds. As a result, he had not been part of [the Battle of] Uḥud, so when the Day of the Trench came, he came out wearing something to catch the eye, so he would be clearly noticed. He counted for a thousand horsemen and he was nicknamed the hero of Yalyal. That was because [what had happened] when he was once part of a caravan of the Quraysh. When they were in Yalyal – which is a valley close to Badr – a number of [warriors of] the Banū Bakr had blocked their way. He said to his companions: ‘Go on!’ While they went on their way, he remained and [singlehandedly] opposed the Banū Bakr, preventing them to get him. This is how he got his reputation.
The place where the trench was dug was called Al-Mudhād. `Amr was the first one to try an attack on it with his men, as was mentioned already. Being the hero of Yalyal, he was the first horseman to cross Al-Mudhād.
It is recorded by Ibn Isḥāq that `Amr ibn `Abd Wudd called out: ‘Who wants to duel? ’ `Alî stood up, wearing an iron mask and said [to Muḥammad]: ‘I do, prophet of God!’ But [Muḥammad] answered: ‘This is `Amr. Sit down!’ Denigrating [the Muslims], `Amr called: ‘Is he no man?’ Where is that paradise of yours of which you claim that those of you who are killed shall enter there?’ `Alî stood up [again] and said: ‘Messenger of God, I am his!’ For the third time, he called out: ‘I have become hoarse from all this calling. Among all of you, is there anyone who dares to duel?’
At that point fear seized anyone who would have dared. But what seized that battling hero was magnanimity. Bravery filled that most noble-natured young man. `Alî stood up and spoke: ‘Messenger of God, I am his!’ He answered: ‘But it’s `Amr..!’ He said: ‘Even if it is `Amr.’ He asked God’s messenger (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) for permission and permission was granted.’
Ibn Isḥāq reports: ‘[`Alî] walked towards him and [`Amr] said: ‘No need to rush! I can come to you.’ `Alî’s voice was not weak when he answered, but full of determination and comprehension, as all those victorious ones who are saved by their truthfulness: ‘I look forward to appoint one of those funeral wailing women for you, after I hit you so hard that the very memory of your gaping wounds will leave a permanent shock.’ `Amr asked him: ‘Who are you?’ He replied: ‘`Alî.’ He said: [‘Alî] ibn `Abd Manāf?’ Alî answered: ‘I am ‘Alî ibn Abî Ṭālib ibn `Abd Al-Muṭallib ibn Hāshim ibn `Abd Manāf.’ `Amr then said: ‘Please, someone else, my nephew. [I am] your paternal uncle. [Send me] someone who is older than you. I would hate to spill your blood…’ ‘Alî answered: ‘I on the other hand, by God, would not at all dislike to spil your blood!’ Upon that, `Amr became furious and bared his sword like a flash of fire. Defiantly he came towards ‘Alî who faced him with his leather shield. `Amr lashed out at him, hitting only the shield. The sword got stuck in it and ‘Alî struck [`Amr’s] head and fractured it. He then hit him on the shoulder vein  and he fell down.’
In the rendering of Ḥudhayfa: ‘With his sword, [‘Alî] struck low at his feet. [`Amr] fell on the back of his head and a cloud of dust rose up around them. ‘Alî was heard shouting ‘God is Great!’ and the messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) said: ‘He killed him, by the One who holds my soul in His hands!’ The first one to run towards the swirling dust was `Amr ibn Al-Khaṭṭāb. He called out: “’Messenger of God! ‘He killed him and he cut off his head!’ [‘Alî] walked towards the messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) and his face was beaming.
Ḥudhayfa continues. ‘The prophet (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) said: ‘`Alî, [you are] the best of humankind! For, if today your actions would be weighed against those of Muḥammad’s [entire] nation (umma), your work would outweigh theirs.’ That is because the killing of `Amr filled each and every house of the polytheists with fear, while it filled every Muslim household with strength.
Also, [we heard] from Al-Ḥākim Abū Al-Qāsim, who received this tradition through Sufyān Al-Thawrî, who heard it from Zubayd Al-Thānî, who had heard it from Murra who received it from `Abdullah ibn Mas`ūd who said: ‘The verse used to say “God saved the believers in battle through `Alî.” (Sura 33: 25)
`Amr’s companions fled away in defeat with their horses jumping over the trench. Immediately the Muslims ran forward and found Nawfal ibn `Abd Al-`Azā  [who had fallen] inside the trench. They started to pelt him with stones and he said to them: ‘A more dignified way of being killed [please]! Let someone of you come down and so I can put up a fight.’ It was Zubayr ibn Al-`Awām who [went in and] killed him off. Ibn Isḥāq relates that [it was] `Alî who stabbed him in the clavicle bone, causing it to stick out with an outpour of blood, of which he died [right there] in the trench. The pagans sent a message to God’s messenger (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) [with the request] to buy his corpse for ten thousand [dinars]. The prophet responded: ‘He is yours. We do not consume any profit from the dead.’
`Alî memorized the event in a few verses :
The rocky grounds are cleansed from his despicable conceptions
Through me, Muḥammad’s Lord  prevailed, justly and rightly so 
I struck him  and I left him there, he fell with his deceptions
A cut-off tree between the plain and hills where no things grow
Abstaining from his clothes, I did not want to make exceptions
To dress like him with perfumed garb, would make my senses low .
Ibn Isḥāq tells: ‘Ḥannān  ibn Qays ibn Al-`Arafa  shot Sa`d ibn Mu’ādh with an arrow and said: ‘Take this from Ibn Al-`Arafa!’ [The arrow] cut through his cubital vein. Sa`d called back: ‘May God recognize your face in hell !’ [He prayed:] ‘Dear God! If you have left any of the war with the Quraysh [for later], then leave me to it. For there is no people I would more eagerly fight than those who have oppressed your messenger, called him a liar, and chased him out. And if you do place war between us and them, then let me witness it, and don’t let me die until you let me rejoice about [the downfall of] the Banū Qurayẓa.’
He furthermore tells: ‘Nu`aym ibn Mas`ūd Al-Ashja`î came to the messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) and said: ‘Messenger of God! I have embraced Islam but no one of my people knows this about me yet. Instruct me what you want me to do!’ The prophet (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) said to him: ‘As you are only one person among us , try to pretend being against us! For war is deception!’
Nu`aym ibn Mas`ūd hurried to the Banū Qurayẓa and said to them: ‘I am your friend. By God, in relation to Muḥammad, you are in a different position than the Quraysh and the Ghaṭafān. This is your land and here is where you have your properties, your women and your children, while the Quraysh and the Ghaṭafān have their lands somewhere else. They have come to launch an attack together with you. If they see an opportunity, they will seize it. But if they see none, they will return to their lands and leave you with this man and you will be powerless against him. So don’t go into battle unless you can take some of their noblemen as security detainees to make sure that they will not leave before they accomplish [the defeat of] Muḥammad.’ They said to him: ‘That’s a sharp analysis!’
He then went to Abū Sufyān and the [other] noblemen of the Quraysh. He said [to them]: ‘Men of Quraysh! You know very well my affection for you and my opposition to Muḥammad and to his religion. I have come to you with a piece of advice, but keep this confident!’ They said: ‘We will do that. No one will suspect that it came from you . He said: ‘You should know that the Banū Qurayẓa is having regrets about the situation they have created between them and Muḥammad. They have sent him a message, saying: ‘Wouldn’t you like us to take from these people noblemen as security detainees, and to hand them to you to be executed? Then we shall be on your side against them and drive them out of your land.’ Certainly, if they send you a request, asking you for a group of men, do not give them one single man! Beware!’
After that he went to the Ghaṭafān. He said: ‘Men of Ghaṭafān! I am one of yours…! And then he told them the same story as to the Quraysh.
The next morning, Abū Sufyān woke up. It was on Shabbat in the month of Shawwāl of the fifth year of the Hidjra. He sent `Ikrama ibn Abî Jahl to them with a Quraysh delegation. The message was: Abū Sufyān says to you: ‘Jewish men! The [imprint of the] foot and the hoof have faded, and we are not in a permanent dwelling. So ride out against Muḥammad so we can fight him in battle!’ They sent a message back, saying: ‘Today is Shabbat, and that is a day on which we cannot do any work. In addition, we shall not fight alongside you unless you give us some of your men as security detainees, so we can be sure that you will not go away and leave us before you accomplish Muḥammad’s [defeat]!’
Abū Sufyān responded: ‘By God, Nu`aym had warned us for this! And he sent them back: ‘We shall not give you one single man! If you want, ride out and [join us in] battle, or remain seated if you like!’
The Jews said: ‘This, by God, is what Nu`aym had told us!’ And they sent them a message saying: ‘We, by God, shall not join in battle unless you give us security detainees.’ Thus God set them up against each other.
The Glorified One sent upon them a storm in the bitter-cold winter nights that [eventually] would make them give up and retreat. According to Muḥammad ibn Ka`b, Ḥudhayfa ibn Al-Yamān recalled: ‘By God, I have seen on the Day of the Trench, how we were [overtaken] by, God only knows, the exhaustion, hunger and fear. The messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) started to pray and, my God what a night! Afterwards he said: ‘Is it not so that the man who brings me information about these people, that God will make him my associate in Paradise?’ Ḥudhayfa said [later]: ‘By God, No one of us stood up due to our fear, exhaustion and hunger. When no one stood up, he called me [by name] and I had no choice but to respond. So I said: ‘At your service!’ He said: ‘Go and gather information about these people, but do not tell anything until you make it back!’ So I went to these people and God’s storm and His [invisible] armies were having an impact on them. No structure remained standing, no fire remained burning, and no cooking pot remained in its place. And there I was… Then Abū Sufyān came out of his dwelling and he said: ‘Men of Quraysh! Can anyone see who his neighbor is?’ (Ḥudhayfa continued :) ‘So I first [looked at] the one on my right side and I said: ‘What’s your name?’ He answered: ‘So-and-so.’ Then Abū Sufyān returned to his she-camel and said: ‘Men of Quraysh! By God, you are not in your permanent place. The hoof and the foot’s imprint have been erased. The Banū Qurayẓa defected from us and this storm doesn’t allow us to hold on to anything. He then quickly mounted his camel, even though [its leg] was still tied up and he only untied it after he was sitting on it.’ (Ḥudhayfa continued :) ‘I said to myself: ‘If I shot the enemy of God and killed him, I would do something [significant]. I put the string in my bow and placed the arrow inside the bow, with the intention to shoot him down. But then I remembered what God’s messenger (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) had told me: ‘Do not tell anything until you come back!’ He continued: ‘I put down my bow and went back to the messenger of God who was praying [when I arrived]. When he heard my voice, he made space at his feet and I sat down there. He threw the edge of his cloak over me and then he bowed down and prostrated himself. Afterwards he said: ‘What’s the news?’ and I told him.’
It was reported by Sulaymān ibn Ṣadr that, when the allies moved away, the messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) said: ‘[From ] now [on] we shall attack them and they will attack us no [more].’ And it was as he said, for after this the Quraysh did not attack them anymore, but [Muḥammad] attacked them until God granted [the Muslims] victory over Mecca.’
Ṭabāṭabā’î continues : ‘Al-Ṭabarsî [also] mentioned this story in [his] Majma‘ al-Bayān  which we mentioned in summary. Also Al-Qummî  told it in his commentary not long before [Al-Ṭabarsî did]. Furthermore it can be found in scattered narratives within Al-Durr Al-Manthūr .
Also in the Majma‘, it says that Al-Zuhrî reports what he heard from `Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Ka`b ibn Mālik, who had heard it from his father: ‘After the prophet (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) had left the trench, had put down his armor, washed and bathed himself, [the angel] Gabriel appeared to him and said: ‘Excusing yourself from [your role as] a warrior? Am I seeing that you have laid down your armor while we have not done so?’ Terrified, the messenger of God prophet (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) jumped up and adjured the people that they would not perform the afternoon prayer before they would arrive at the [fortress of the] Qurayẓa. The people took up their arms but they did not arrive at the [fortress of the] Qurayẓa until the sun had set. They started arguing among themselves. Some said: ‘God’s messenger adjured us to not pray until we arrive at the Qurayẓa [fortress]. We are therefore under strict order of God’s messenger (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) so we bear no sin [for not praying the afternoon prayer].’ One group, out of obedience, did perform the prayer while another group, also out of obedience, did refrain from praying until the evening fell and then performed the prayer after they arrived at the Banū Qurayẓa. God’s messenger (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) did not rebuke any of these two groups.
`Urwa recalled that [Muḥammad] sent `Alî ibn Abū Ṭālib at the head of the first unit, handed him the banner, and ordered him to speed ahead until he brought [his men] to the fortress of the Qurayẓa tribe, which he did. The messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) rode out immediately after them. He passed by a gathering of Medinan Muslims in Banū Ghanam who were awaiting God’s messenger (God grant him and his family salvation and peace). It is believed that he asked: ‘Did a horseman pass by you before?’ They answered: ‘Diḥya Al-Kalbî came by on a gray she-mule and he was sitting on a silk garment.’ The messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) said: ‘That wasn’t Diḥya but the angel Gabriel who was sent to the Banū Qurayẓa in order to cause them to tremble and to cast terror in their hearts.’
The story continues. `Alî journeyed and when he had come close to the fortress, he heard them utter vile speech about God’s messenger (God grant him and his family salvation and peace). He went back and met the messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) on the way. He said: ‘Messenger of God! You better not come closer to those disgusting people!’ He said: ‘I assume that you heard them insult me?’ He answered: ‘Yes messenger of God.’ He said: ‘Had they seen me, they would not have said anything of the kind.’ When God’s messenger (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) approached their fortresses, he said: ‘Brothers of monkeys and pigs! So… did God humiliate you and bring down vengeance on you?’ They replied: ‘Abū Al-Qāsim! You are not stupid.’ The messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) besieged them for twenty five nights until the siege wore them out and God cast terror in their hearts.
Ḥuyayy ibn Akhṭab had joined the Banū Qurayẓa  in their fortress when the Quraysh and the Ghaṭafān withdrew. When they became convinced that God’s messenger would not give up on them without a fight, Ka`b ibn Asad said: ‘Jewish men! You see what has befallen you. I shall propose to you three options and you should choose whichever one you prefer.’ They said: ‘Which are they?’
He said: ‘Let us acknowledge this man and believe in him, for, by God, it is clear to you that he is a prophet sent [from God] and that he is the one whom you find in your Scripture. You will thereby secure your lives, your properties and your wives.’ They answered: ‘We shall never abandon the law of the Torah or replace it with something else.’
He said: ‘If you reject this [option], then come and let’s kill our wives and children and ride out against Muḥammad with drawn swords. We will not have left a burden behind us to be worried about. Then God shall judge between us and Muḥammad. If we perish, we perish, but we will not have left offspring behind to be concerned about. However, if we triumph, we shall surely beget women and children [again]!’ They replied: ‘Kill these poor ones? What good would life be after them?’
He said: ‘If you reject this [suggestion] of mine [as well]… Tonight is the night of Shabbat, during which Muḥammad and his companions quite possibly feel safe . So attack [tonight] and you might strike them by surprise!’ They replied: ‘Should we violate our Shabbat? And bring about the same thing that happened to those before us when they were turned into you-know-what?’ He then said: ‘There is a man among you  who has always remained prudent his whole life, ever since his mother gave birth to him.’
Al-Zuhrî reports that the messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) said: ‘When [the Banū Qurayẓa] asked for someone to judge them, they chose whomever they wanted from among my companions.’
They ended up choosing Sa`d ibn Mu’ādh and the prophet God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) was pleased with that. When they surrendered to the judgment of Sa`d ibn Mu’ādh, the messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) ordered their weapons, which he placed in his leathern tent (qubba). He then ordered them to be shackled and tied up and they placed them in the house of Usāma. The messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) sent for Sa`d ibn Mu’ādh and they brought him. [Sa`d] judged that their warriors should be killed, that their women and children be imprisoned, and their possessions taken as spoils. Also [he ordered] that their real estate should go to the Meccan immigrants, thus leaving out the Muslims from Medina. To those he said: ‘You already possess real estate but the immigrants don’t have any.’ The messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) declared God’s greatness  and said to Sa`d: ‘You have judged over them with the judgment of God, High and Exalted!’ There are some narrators that have: ‘You have judged over them with the judgment of God from above the seven spheres (arqi`a)!’ Arqi`a is the plural form of the word for firmament (raqî`) which is the name of the lowest heaven.
Thus the messenger of God had their warriors killed. Some counted six hundred warriors. There is also a report that he killed four hundred and fifty men and that he took seven hundred and fifty prisoners.
There is a report that [the Banū Qurayẓa] said to Ka`b ibn Asad when they were taken out and sent to the messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace): ‘Ka’b! What do you think is going to happen to us?’ To which Ka`b answered: ‘Will you keep talking  no matter where you are ? Don’t you notice that the one who summons [us] does not slow down? And that no one from you who is taken away is coming back? This, by God, is assassination!’
Ḥuyayy ibn Akhṭab, the enemy of God, was brought. He was wearing a garb that was pierced as he had made holes on all sides, the size of a fingertip, so that it would not be taken as spoil. His hands were tied to the back of his neck with a rope. When he noticed the messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace), he said: ‘Yet, by God, I don’t blame myself for opposing you. However, he who forsakes God will be forsaken.’ Then he said: ‘People! Do not object to God’s decree, God’s Book and the decree of massacre that was foreordained to the Israelites!’ He then sat down and his head was cut off.
The messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) divided their women, their children and their possessions among the Muslims and he sent Sa`d ibn Zayd with a number of captives to the Najd in order to sell them for horses and weapons.
It was reported: When the matter of the Banū Qurayẓa was brought to a conclusion, Sa`d ibn Mu’ādh’s wound burst open and the messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) returned him to his tent which he had erected for him in the mosque. Jābir ibn `Abdullah reported: ‘[The angel] Gabriel came to the messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) and said: ‘For that virtuous servant that passed away, the gates of heaven were opened and the heavenly throne shook on his behalf.’ The messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) went out [to see him] and Sa`d ibn Mu’ādh had indeed expired.’
In addition, Al-Qummî relates the story in his tafsîr in greater detail. In it he tells: ‘Ka`b ibn Asîd  was taken out with his hands tied to the back of his neck. When the messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) saw him, he said: ‘Well, Ka`b… You did not benefit from the counsel of Ibn Al-Waḥās, that wise sage, who came to you from Syria and said; ‘I forfeited wine and leavened bread and entered into misery . But the dates  belong to a prophet whom God will send. His leaving will be from Mecca, and his emigration will be into this fruitful land . His reward will be morsels and small dates. He rides an unsaddled donkey, there is redness in his eyes and the seal of prophecy is between his shoulder blades. He shall place his sword on his shoulder. Those of you who have met him are not taking notice, but his dominion will come to block both foot and hoof.’ [Ka`b] then replied: ‘Yes Muḥammad, that did happen. Were it not for the Jews who would slander me for fear of being killed, I would believe in you and give you my trust. But I am under the religion of the Jews; I shall live by it and I shall die by it.’ The messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) said: ‘Bring him forward and cut off his head!’ And so they did.
We also find in [Al-Qummî]: ‘The messenger of God (God grant him and his family salvation and peace) killed them at the time of the two Badrayn prayers, i.e. around the Fajr in the early morning and [at the end of] the `Aṣr at sunset, during three days. He was want to say: ‘Give them fresh water to drink and give them good food to eat! Treat your prisoners well before you kill them all!’
God, High and Exalted, sent down the following revelation about them: “And those People of the Scripture who supported them, He brought down from their fortresses…” until the words “…God is able to do anything. ”
In the Majma` we find: ‘Abū Al-Qāsim reported from `Amr ibn Thābit, who had it from Abū Isḥāq, who heard from `Alî (peace be upon him), that he said: ‘Concerning us, the revelation was given: “…there are men who have been true to the covenant they made with God…”  By God, I am still waiting and I have not changed [my alliance]!’ 
 Majma‘ al-Bayān fî Tafsîr al-Qur'ān, a Shiite Qur’ān commentary by Abū `Alî Faḍl ibn Ḥasan Al-Ṭabarsî (1173-1153)
 The full story is now being told
 Should be `Amr
 A location literally meaning ‘moist earth’. Other sources give a different name for the place.
 God is Great
 Al-Maghrib. Alternatively: North Africa and Spain.
 The old name for Medina
 The story that follows is parallel to those of Jesus feeding the multitude in Matthew 14:13-21, Matthew 15:32-16;10, Mark 6:30-44, Mark 8:1-9, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:5-15
 About three liters
 Other sources have, more correctly, Zaghāba.
 And thus in your fate
 Not to be confused with the pre-Islamic Arabic king and poet Imru’ al-Qays who was of the Kinda tribe.
 The roles that the two Sa`ds play here reflect the reversed version of Al-Qurṭubî
 The following story has many similarities with that of David and Goliath (1 Sam. 17)
 My understanding is the vein on top of the shoulder, in de side of the neck
 Earlier Ṭabāṭabā’I called him Nawfal ibn `Abdullah, as other sources do
 This poem differs from the version given by Al-Qurṭubî in a number of ways
 ‘Lord’ (Rabb) instead of ‘religion’ (dîn)
 ‘Through what is right and proper’ (bi-ṣawāb) instead of ‘with a blow’ (bi-ḍirāb)
 ‘I struck him’ (fa-ḍarabtuhu) instead of ‘I came down on him’ or ‘I battled him’ (nāzaltuhu). Ibn Isḥāq has : ‘I repelled’ (fa-ṣadadtu)
 The last couplet as found in Al-Qurṭubî is missing entirely in Ṭabāṭabā’î
 Al-Qurṭubî has Ḥibbān
 Al-Qurṭubî has ibn Al-`Ariqa. The most common root meaning of `Ariqa is ‘sweat’, while that of `Arafa is ‘knowledge’
 The word for ‘recognize’ (`arafa) is a play on his name Ibn `Arafa
 Not an important asset in battle
 Literally: ‘You will not be suspected because of us.’
 Literally: “I say”
 See above
 Abū al- Ḥasan `Alî ibn Ibrāhîm al-Qummî (10th century Shiite commentator)
 Al-Durr Al-Manthūr fî l-Tafsîr bi l-Ma'thūr, a Sunni Qur’ān commentary by Jalāl al-Dîn al-Khuḍayrî al-Suyūṭî (1445-1505)
 As he had promised them
 From your attacks and will thus be off guard
 I.e. among your allies
 Shouted “Allahu Akbar”
 Taqūlūn. Note the similarity in sound between Ṭabāṭabā’î’s rendering and Ṭabarî who has (more intelligibly) lā ta`qalūn (don’t you have comprehension?)
 Literally: ‘in any place’.
 Should be ibn Asad
In my first religion
 Perhaps in the sense of sweetness
 Somewhat cryptical. Unvocalized it can be read as baḥîra or buḥayra. The most frequent meaning of buḥayra of is ‘lake’, which in the context of Medina makes no sense. It can also be a diminutive of baḥr, which usually means ‘sea’, but can also mean ‘fruitful land’. Oddly, according to tradition, Baḥîra was the name of a monk from Syria who supposedly recognized in Muḥammad an anticipated prophet.
 Sura 33: 26-27
 Sura 33: 23
 This refers to the last part of the verse: “…while others are still waiting without in any way changing [their alliance].”