The battle of the Trench (Ghazwa Khandaq) | GCE O Level

The Battle of the Trench

The battle of the trench (ditch) was a very significant conflict between the Muslims and the Quraish of Makkah fought in 5 A.H. The conflict was the last uprising of the Quraish of Makkah against the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم).

To understand why the battle of the ditch was fought, you need to understand its background. So, let’s start from that without any further introduction.

The Background:

There were 3 prominent jewish tribes in Madinah at that time. These were:

  1. Banu Qainuqa
  2. Banu Nazir
  3. Banu Quraiza

Banu Qainuqa violated the treaty with the Muslims at the time of the battle of Badr and thus they were punished by being exiled from Madinah.

Banu Nazir plotted to kill the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم). However, the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) came across this news with the help of some people of Banu Khuza (an ally of the Muslims) and his companions.

Therefore, the Prophet (PBUH) decided to punish them for there violation of the treaty with the Muslims. The Muslims besieged Banu Nazir and they were forced to surrender. After that, Banu Nazir was expelled frOM Madinah.

Related: Battle of Hunain | GCE O level | Complete guide

The leaders of Banu Nazir were enraged due to this. They insisted Abu Sufiyan to raise an army and destroy the Muslims. Abu Sufiyan and the leaders of Banu Nazir invited various tribes and they managed to raise an army of around 10,000 (ten thousand) men. Some of the tribes supporting the Quraish and Banu Nazir were:

  • Banu Ashja
  • Banu Ghatafan
  • Banu Asad
  • Banu Murra
  • Banu Shuja

Banu Khuza (an ally of the Muslims) immediately informed the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) about the advancing army towards Madinah. Hazrat Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) summoned up his companions to reach a war strategy because the Muslims managed to raise an army of only 3000 men.

Hazrat Salman Farsi (رضي الله عنه), a Persian convert, came up with a brilliant war strategy. He advised digging a trench around the North of Madinah because Madinah was protected from the South, East and West by mountains and other natural barriers.

The strategy was appreciated and adored by the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and his companions.

Therefore, the process of digging the trench started and the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) himself took part in the digging.

This was the time when Allah almighty tested the believers. There was a shortage of food and other basic necessities of life but the Muslims continued their work despite the harsh conditions.

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) demonstrated perfect qualities of being and leader and the Muslims managed to dig a trench which was about:

  • 5.5 kilometre long
  • 9 meters wide
  • 4.5 meters deep

Events of the battle of the Trench:

When the Quraish army reached Madinah, they were disappointed to see a trench because they came with the intention of fighting. They had no other decision but to lay a siege around Madinah.

The Battle of the trench
Diagrammatic representation of the battle of the trench

They planned to cut off all possible supplies of food, water and other necessities and create a shortage of resources within Madinah and force them to surrender.

The Muslims, however, were steadfast and they managed the crisis with bravery.

There were more Muslims at those points where the trench was a bit less wide and deeper. There were several occasions on which some people of the Quraish managed to cross the trench. They were repulsed by the Muslims.

It is to note that the trench was very wide. It was not possible to cross it except for some points where the Muslims were constantly present.

Ikrimah bin Abu Jahl, Naufal bin Abdullah and some other Quraish managed to come across the trench. They were successfully repulsed by Hazrat Ali (رضي الله عنه) and the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم).

See: Battle of Yarmouk Notes | CIE O level Islamiat

Naufil bin Abdullah was killed while Ikrimah bin Abu Jahl managed to escape.

What happened next?

Well, this was a very crucial time in the battle of the khandaq. This was because Nuaym ibn Masood (the leader of the Banu Ghatafan tribe) converted to Islam. The contributions of Nuaym bin Masood proved critical for the defeat of the Quraish.

What happened was that Nuyam met the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and he discussed the future strategy of the war.

He showed the Quraish that he was with them but in fact, he was with the Muslims. He sowed seeds of distrust between the various tribes that were supporting the Quraish.

The Battle of the trench

What happened was that the tribes slowly withdrew their support from the Makkans. This was a very crucial juncture in the battle.

All of this continued and the Muslims were constantly busy in seeking help from God. On night, a massive storm took over and the Makkans were taken by surprise.

Their camps were destroyed and their troops were disorganized. The severe storm forced the Quraish to lift up the siege and thus the battle ended in victory for the Muslims.

The Aftermath of the battle:

Now, the question was the treatment of Banu Quraiza who supported the Makkans although there were in a treaty with the Muslims.

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) ordered them to surrender but they shut themselves in their forts. The Muslims besieged them and they were forced to surrender.

Saad ibn Mua’dh (the leader of the Aws tribe who died later due to a wound received in the battle of the trench) decided their fate according to the old testament.

Hazrat Ayesha (R.A) narrated:

On the day of al-Khandaq (Battle of the Trench), Sa’d was injured and Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) pitched a tent for him in the mosque to visit him from a close distance. [Agreed upon].

All the men of Banu Quraiza were killed and their women and children were taken as captives and divided among the Muslims along with their property.

The Quran regarding this battle says:

O you who have believed, remember the favour of Allah upon you when armies came to (attack) you and We sent upon them a wind and armies (of angels) you did not see.

Surah Al-Ahzab (33:9)

The Importance:

The importance of the battle of the khandaq is that it broke the strength of the Quraish of Makkah who were constantly planning to destroy Islam and the Muslims.

The Battle of the trench

The Quraish were very satisfied after the battle of Uhud and therefore, the defeat at the battle of the trench broke their attitude and pride.

The power of Allah almighty was evident to all the people and the victory exposed the Jewish tribes who were constantly planning to harm the Muslims.

Moreover, the battle paved a way forward for other victories for the Muslims. The low morale of some Muslims after the battle of Uhud was lifted up.

Lastly, other tribes supporting the Quraish were also exposed to the Muslims and their defeat at the battle of the ditch weakened them for any future encounter with the Muslims.


With this, the article regarding the battle of the trench has come to an end. I hope that all your queries had been addressed through the platform.

Thank You very much for reading.

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