Through a special group of Muslims assigned to keep vigil on Quraysh movements, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) had come to know that the Quraysh of Makkah were arranging an army of ten thousand soldiers in order to wipe out the Muslims. He also knew that they were looking for a moment of his absence from Madinah so that they could invade the city with the help of the Jews and the Munafeqeen.

They were expecting the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) to attack a border city, Domat-ul-Jandal, which had formed a triple alliance with the Jews of Khaybar and the Quraysh of Makkah aimed at obstruction of Medinite caravans to Syria and Bain-al-Nahreen thus putting Madinah under an economic siege.

In spite of the knowledge of their preparations, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) still decided to go to Domatul-Jandal to regain the trade route for the Medinite caravans; either by negotiations, or in case of their failure, by force.

The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) opted to leave Madinah for two reasons. Firstly, the distance from Madinah to Domatul-Jandal was not a very long one. Secondly, Muslim spies had informed him that preparations for the Makkan army were still incomplete. Hence, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) left Madinah, accompanied by one thousand warriors. On his way to Domatul-Jandal while passing through the territory of the tribe Ghatfan, he stopped to negotiate with its chief, and remind him of his neutral role - in case a battle started later on.

The chief of Ghatfan tribe made it explicitly and honestly clear that he had formed an alliance with the Quraysh of Makkah and the Jews of Khaybar. In return, he expected to get loads of dates from the Jews. If the Muslims offered more dates, I along with my men was prepared to remain neutral. As the negotiations were still in progress, the chief said, "O Muhammad, I’m running short of time to carry on talking further. I have to join the Quraysh along with my men, as they will soon be invading Madinah. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) had this statement verified soon. After its confirmation, he decided to return to Madinah immediately.

The Jews and the Munafeqeen were greatly surprised at his return, as they knew that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) never returned from any war mission, except when the matter had been settled. After his return, some people of Khauzah tribe entered the city to deliver the information that the Quraysh army had left for Madinah. They added that it would take them eleven days to cover the distance. The informers themselves had reached Madinah in only four, as they had been travelling continuously day and night to deliver the news urgently. They also said that the Quraysh army consisted of ten thousand men armed to teeth. The Quraysh had also vowed not to return before completely eradicating Islam.

At this news the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) gathered all the Muslims and told them to start preparations for war without any delay. He also told them that owing to the huge number of the enemy they would have to adopt a "defensive" strategy this time.

This defensive technique adopted by the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) to face the enemy, constituted the digging of a huge moat. This battle, which took place in 627 AD. in the month of Shawwal, is known as Jang-e-Khandaq (The Battle of Moat or Ditch). As various groups and tribes had gathered against the Muslims it is also called as Jang-e-Ahzab (War of Clans/Tribes).

Digging a protective ditch around the city was as alien a concept for Arabs as had been forming phalanxes (flanks) in the Battles of Badr and Uhud. This method was suggested by Salman FarsiR.A. He told the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) that in Persia, a moat was normally dug around a fort or a city to defend it. The moat had to be wide and deep enough to stop soldiers and horses from crossing it. Salman FarsiR.A was a tall, broad-shouldered, and robust person who had contributed heavily - both in wealth and support for Islam. His advice was immediately accepted by the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace).

While giving orders for digging the trench, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) also ordered that the harvest of crops and orchards at the outskirts of Madinah be moved inside the city so that when the enemy reached Madinah, it would be unable to harm the crops or use them. Such a war-stratagem was employed in the World War-II by the Russians against the Germans. They took away or destroyed all of their harvest towards their rear lines that were in the way of the German army, so that it would not be of any use to the enemy. Fourteen hundred years from now, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) adopted this technique and had all the agricultural produce shifted to Madinah. Later on, the Makkan army for want of provisions, faced great difficulty over dearth of food.

All the Muslim men and women, even young boys and girls who could lift either spade or mattock, became involved in digging up the ditch. The moat was dug around northern, south-western and western parts of Madinah completely but only on some parts towards the South. The moat started from the fort of Sheikheen, in the north of Madinah, and ended in the environs of the valley of Quba. Care was taken while digging the moat that, as far as possible, natural land barriers be included in the parts of the city to be encircled so that people could use them for protection and as vantage points in battle.

The demarcations of Madinah were made in Zaraay. One Zara was the length from the elbow to the middle finger of hand, i.e., one Zara of Madinah approximated about half a meter in today’s measurements.

For this purpose, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) divided the Muslims in groups of ten and assigned each group to dig forty Zaraay (i.e., about twenty meters). The total length of the ditch was about twelve thousand Zaraay, i.e., about six kilometres. The depth was somewhat more than five Zaraay, that are, more than 2.5 meters, and the width about three meters. No doubt, it was quite deep and wide and its walls were perpendicular. If the width had been less, horse-riders would have been able to jump across it. Similarly if the walls had not been straight, soldiers would have been able to climb out to reach the city.

To dig six kilometres long trench around the city required extreme effort. Every one worked day and night. Some Muslims while digging parts of the trench used to keep watch in turns. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) himself worked day and night, carrying soil and digging with the mattock. The spirit of Islam was so great that when facing dearth of sacks, eminent personalities like UmarR.A and Abu BakrR.A started carrying the soil in their laps.

As the trench started from Sheikheen and ended near Quba, areas of Madinah, towards its east, north-east and south east were not surrounded by it. In these areas there were many other obstacles in the way of the enemy. Orchards and narrow winding streets offered good resistance to the enemy. In addition, Muslim archers could easily target the enemy from higher areas.

While the moat was being dug, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) allowed the people to sing war-songs. Poets composed passionate and encouraging verses to motivate the Muslims. A twelve year old boy, Ammarah Hazm was among the moat-diggers. He used to sing very melodiously. One day the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was passing by the area where Ammarah Hazm was working. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) heard him and liked his voice. Afterwards wherever the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) went, he took Ammarah with him to sing and motivate the Muslims.

There was a great sacrificing spirit while the trench was being dug. When a group completed its task instead of resting, it joined other groups to help in the digging. Such a passion of collective devotion, co-operation and solidarity is rarely witnessed in the ancient world. In the contemporary world, a similar example could be that of the people of Leningrad who, during the World War-II, came out of their houses, irrespective of age and sex, to dig the moat to protect their city against enemy invasion.

The Makkan army reached Madinah at a time when the trench had been completed and the Muslim men were ready with their weapons to protect the city. Towards the South the rocky terrain of Madinah would have checked advancements. The Makkan army, went round Madinah and decided to attack from the foot of the mountain. Their army was led by Abu Sufyan who expected to meet the Muslim army at the foot of the mountain. He had thought of eliminating the Muslims with his huge army of ten thousand soldiers. Banu Fazarah, Ghatfan, Ahabesh, Tahamah and Kananah were some of the tribes siding with Abu Sufyan. Abu Sufyan was sure that on surrounding the Muslims, he would eliminate them by his fierce attack. When he did not see the Muslim army at the expected place, he ordered his forces to invade Madinah.

The Quraysh soldiers galloped away on their horses and camels till they came to a sudden halt on reaching the Moat around Madinah. Quite bewildered, they looked at each other. They had never seen a trench as means of fortification around a city.

When Abu Sufyan saw the trench he, like his soldiers, was very surprised. It seemed impossible for him to cross this ditch. If the Makkan army had been led by a Roman or a Persian commander, he would not have been surprised by it. Abu Sufyan by profession was a merchant and the Makkans were ignorant of this strange defence tactic, as a result ten thousand warriors became helpless in crossing it. It appeared so difficult for them that without any instruction from their commander, they began to encamp near the trench. It was better to besiege Madinah, in the hope that one day the Muslims would be compelled to come out of the city.

Only the trench separated the Makkan army on one side and the Muslim army on the other. They could easily see and hear each other. The Makkan soldiers taunted and instigated the Muslims "You are neither Arabs nor brave, as Arabs would not have veiled themselves behind a huge ditch. Did our ancestors ever fight by digging ditches as you have done so? Bring out your swords to test your mettle with us if you are Arabs!" The Muslims heard this, but knew these to be empty words. However, they were vigilant lest the Quraysh tried to cross the trench.

When the Makkan army had reached Madinah, the weather was becoming cooler. Muslim soldiers who were not patrolling or not on watch for that night were allowed to go home, but the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) used to stay there the entire night.

Owing to the breach caused by the trench, the armies could not enter into direct combat. The routine of battle became the exchange of arrows on both sides till night fall. Satiric poetry was also recited aloud against each other.

Besides shooting arrows and lampooning each other, bargaining was also carried out. One day the Muslims shouted at the Banu Ghatfan that they would be given all the date produce of Madinah if they joined with the Muslims and left the Makkans. Such bargaining in the midst of a battle may seem quite bizarre, since such actions are supposed to be carried out in secret, but the Arabs had no discrepancy of words and action.

The days kept passing by and still the Makkan army could not go across the trench to reach Madinah. Thus Abu Sufyan thought of communicating with the Jews and ask them to attack the Muslims from the rear. Of the three major Jewish tribes that used to live in Madinah, only Banu Qareedah was left there.

Abu Sufyan, though unable to cross the trench, was successful in contacting the Jews. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) immediately came to know of this through his spies. He sent two Muslims, as emissaries to the Jews to remind them to abide by the constitution of Madinah where the Jews had agreed not to rally against the Muslims or to side with anti-Islamic forces.

Instead of giving a straight forward reply, the Jews answered in ambiguous words which meant they had designs of co-operating with the Makkan forces. When the Muslims came to know of this war-pact, they went to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and said, "O Prophet of Allah! We are in great danger. If Banu Qareedah attacks us from rear and the Quraysh from the front, we will face a great loss and it is quite probable that we will get eliminated".

With great poise and confidence, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) replied, "The Quraysh have trust in the Jews, whereas I trust the assistance of Allah. I assure you that you will not be left helpless by Allah. Although you faced some rout in the Battle of Uhud, it was because of in-discipline of some Muslims who had forgotten the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)’s instruction".

Whatever the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, soon turned into reality and Allah opened the doors of His succour to His Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and his people. It happened that at the very moments when the Muslims were considering themselves besieged by internal and external enemies, a person named Naeem bin Masood, who was negotiating the deal between the Jews and the Unbelievers, changed his course and came to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). He said, "O Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)! I have been assigned to formulate a pact between Banu Qareedah and the Makkans to attack you from rear, but I am a devotee and a supporter of you. I have never wished that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) of Allah be defeated. Your success and the exaltation of Islam is what I yearn for".

This sudden arrival of Naeem to help the Muslims proved extremely provident. Naeem’s move disrupted the alliance of the Jews and the Unbelievers. It is noteworthy here that the literal meaning of ‘Naeem’ is "grace" or "Divine blessings". Another person known by the name Naeem bin Abdullah had also led to UmarR.A’s conversion to Islam.

Naeem bin Masood asked the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) what he could do for him and the Muslims. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, "O Naeem! As you know we are in the middle of a crisis, therefore it is quite lawful for us to exercise vigilance on our enemy and its designs. If we remould the information reaching the enemies ears, then it would not be a trickery but a war-tactic because war is not testing power alone but a strategy as well".

Naeem bin Masood bowed his head in obedience and after receiving necessary instructions reached the Jews of Banu Qareedah that day. He said "Brothers! As you know I have been a close friend of yours since long. I am sure that you take me as your well-wisher". The Jewish chief nodded in the affirmative. Naeem bin Masood continued, "You should not be proud to see the Makkan army on the other side of the trench, as the Makkan soldiers are not citizens of Madinah who will keep on staying here. Neither will those tribes that aid them. They will return to their homes soon and then we will be left to deal with these valiant Muslims!".

On hearing this, the Jewish chieftain raised his eyebrows and his face showed signs of worry. Considering it the right moment, Naeem bin Masood said, "Suppose the Makkan army does not return home soon but stays to fight on. Who knows whether they will win or lose?. You saw in the battle of Uhud, that there was no trench in the way of Abu Sufyan. He had an army four times that of the Muslims even then he was unable to hurt or bring harm to them. If you listen to me, think carefully before severing off your relations with the Muslims. Inviting enmity from the Muslims does not do you any favour. Being a well-wisher of yours, I warn you that I do not trust Abu Sufyan and other chiefs of Quraysh. As soon as they realise there is any danger, they will run away to leave you in the middle of battle. Before inviting trouble from the Muslims, you ought to invite a few of the eminent people of the Quraysh and hold them hostages, so that the Quraysh are compelled to stand by your side. Otherwise, be assured that on getting the first alarm of danger, they will abandon you leaving you at the mercy of the Muslims".

Listening to Naeem bin Masood made the Jews realise that he talked logic and sense, therefore, they began to have second thoughts about joining with the Quraysh.

After talking with the Jews, Naeem bin Masood reached Abu Sufyan and in a very friendly manner began, "As you know, I am one of your sincerest friend and the people of Makkah. It would be undesirable to me that you face defeat in this battle .... but ....".

"But what?" Asked Abu Sufyan impatiently.

"But Banu Qareedah are formulating a secret deal with the Muslims. I have been informed, that in order to prove their allegiance to the Muslims, they are going to invite some of the eminent of Quraysh on the pretext of surety, just to hand them over to the Muslims".

Abu Sufyan was startled to hear this, but before he spoke, Naeem bin Masood continued, "O, the venerable chief of Makkah! If you listen to me, instantly send a message to the Jews that they should attack the Muslims this Saturday and if they make a feint against it, consider that they are wasting time and do not want to face the Muslims for real".

Abu Sufyan was in deep thought, it was clear that suspicion had come to his mind. The common people of Madinah had also been airing this rumour that Banu Qareedah had plans to take some eminent people of Quraysh as hostages to deliver them to the Muslims. When the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was asked about the rumours, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) gave a non-committal reply.

The answer of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was total truth and anyone could have derived a meaning according to their thinking. Under such circumstances, doubts surfaced in the hearts of the Jews and Abu Sufyan.

At last, in such an air of rumour, the Jews sent a message to Abu Sufyan, that if he wanted them (Banu Qareedah) to attack the Muslims from rear, he should send some leading men of his army to them as guarantee that the Makkan army would not leave them alone in the battlefield. This demand of the Jews verified the statements of Naeem bin Masood.

At this, Abu Sufyan refused to send his chiefs and asked the Jews to attack the Muslims on the coming Saturday, as the confrontation was becoming prolonged and further delays would be against expediency. Abu Sufyan strongly recommended that no further delays be made and they should assail the Muslims on Saturday. They (the Makkans) would also attack them from the rear lines and would try to enter the city without caring for heavy losses. The Jews replied that they could not fight on Saturdays, as they believed that if any Jew participated in blood-shed on Saturday, he would face misfortune and ill-luck not only in this world but in the hereafter as well. On hearing this answer, Abu Sufyan’s doubts were confirmed. He became sure the Jews wanted to trap him for the Muslims and so the alliance between them was broken.

When the army of ten thousand men had stayed inactive for two weeks, the shortage of food for the soldiers and fodder for the cattle started becoming a problem. Madinah had no dearth of eatables, but the soldiers of Abu Sufyan were being gripped by the claws of hunger. Additionally they were tormented by the increasing cold. The Makkan soldiers were residents of hot areas and they could not sleep well in the cold weather of Madinah. They kept shivering in their tents till dawn. Apart from this the month of Shawwal was ending and the month of Zeqadh was about to commence. In Zeqadh and in Zilhajj all war was forbidden due to the Arabian custom of the sacred months. The Makkan army therefore realised that time was running short. If they did not launch an attack within the coming few days, then they would have to face the chilly nights for the next three months. If they survived this cold, they would be taken over by hunger as the provision of the food needed for 10,000 soldiers in the barren lands would be impossible.

In these fifteen days when the Makkan army remained paralysed at the other end of the trench there ensued several times single man to man combats between the Muslims and the Quraysh. In such fights, the two famous chiefs of the Quraysh, Umro bin Ubdooh and Nawfal bin Makhzumi were put to death by AliR.A.

Nawfal Makhzumi, attempted to jump across the trench but fell in it with his horse. The next moment AliR.A jumped in as well. Though it was the perfect moment for AliR.A to slay him, he waited for Nawfal to stand on his feet and take out his sword. When Nawfal fell in the trench, the sun was setting and its sharp rays impaired Ali’s vision whereas Nawfal had his back towards the sun. Thus AliR.A faced unfavourable circumstances. Even then, he slew Nawfal Makhzumi before the sun had set.

As the women of Quraysh had amputated the dead of Muslims in Uhud, Abu Sufyan became worried that the body of Nawfal Makhzumi, who was a renowned Qurayshi chief might be amputated the same way. He sent a message to AliR.A that he would give him one hundred camels for not amputating and beheading the body of Nawfal. AliR.A who had no intention of performing these brutal acts refused to accept Abu Sufyan’s gift, but allowed to send Nawfal’s body as it was, to the Quraysh.

The other chief of Quraysh killed by AliR.A was Umro bin Ubdooh. This person, besides being courageous and brave, was physically renowned as a great wrestler of Arabia. He was successful in injuring AliR.A twice with his sword. AliR.A was not the type to stop fighting on receiving two wounds. He put up a steadfast fight and his powerful blow hit Umro’s hand, the sword flew out of his hand and he sat down groaning.

AliR.A took a step and putting his foot on Umro’s sword addressed him, "O Umro, if you enter Faith, I will spare your life". Instead of replying, Umro bin Ubdooh spat at Ali’s face and roared angrily, "I will not accept Islam".

AliR.A wiped his face clean by the sleeve and stayed motionless for a few moments. When Umro observed this he said, "O Ali, I have told, I will not accept Islam, then why do not you slay me?".

AliR.A replied, "Because when you spat on me, I was over-powered by anger. If I had put you to death at that very moment, it would have been personal revenge. I do not want to slake my anger or personal revenge. We, Muslims, fight only in the way of Allah and if we shed blood, it is only for His religion and not for revenge".

Then AliR.A softly addressed Umro bin Ubdooh. "O Umro, although you spat at my face, yet I invite you to Islam. If you enter it, I will spare your blood". Umro remained obstinate and replied stubbornly that he would never become a Muslim. At this, AliR.A beheaded him by one sword blow.

It should be made clear that during his fight with AliR.A, Umro was wearing a precious chain-armour, on which were hung gold rings. AliR.A sent the chain-coat to Umro’s sister, so that it should not be thought that AliR.A had killed him in greed of this precious chain-coat.

The Makkan army was already facing hunger and cold, when, a storm hit them. As the provisions they had gathered blew away their scum of valour settled down. One night the wind blew so hard that the tents of the unbelievers were uprooted. The fires went out and torrential rain brought flood. Abu Sufyan was so horrified that he ordered retreat without a second thought.

It is said that he himself was in such a hurry when he rode his camel that he did not even notice his camel was still tied. He lashed out at it, whereas the poor creature was tied to a peg and could not move.

That night the army of idolaters gave up the siege and fled away. In this way the Battle of Trench, which is also called Jang-e-Ahzab, ended. In this battle, the idolaters bore the loss of eight lives, and the Muslims six. These people were killed in man-to-man encounters, whereas both the armies did not face each other in direct combat.

Though the battle had ended and the Makkan army retreated, Madinah was still under economic siege. The city was caught between the enmity from Makkah on one side and from Khaybar Jews on the other. Both these cities were resistant to the Medinite caravan movements. These cities were also citadels of anti-Islamic forces. Majority of the people of Khaybar consisted of Jews. The Jews could arrange an army of thousands due to their wealth. On the other hand, the Makkans influenced by the Quraysh, only thought of their hatred against Islam. In addition, there had taken place an agreement between the Jews and the Makkans, according to which, if the Muslims attacked Khaybar, then the Makkans would instantly attack Madinah and vice versa so that the Muslims would be helpless from attacking any of the two.

In Madinah itself, there were two foes for the Muslims. On one hand, Jews and on the other the hypocrites or Munafeqeen. Munafeqeen were those who always adopted duality and would not side with the Muslims yet on the surface they declared to be in their favour. They were led by Abdullah bin Obei and had never openly sided with anyone during the battles already mentioned. At the battle of Trench, they reached a decision - to side with the Makkans. This promise remained only verbal and the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) did not consider them punishable.

Banu Qareedah on the other hand had violated the Madinah pact during this battle and had even negotiated with the Quraysh to attack from the rear. In the Battle of Uhud, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) himself had told the Jews that the Muslims were fighting a religious war against the Makkans and hence the Jews were not bound to enter the battlefield. It is very clear that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) asked the Jews to go back as he did not trust them. In the Battle of Trench, it was proved that the Prophet’s (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) doubts were not unfounded. The Jews violated the pact in hard times and forgot all the promises made with the Muslims.

As Banu Qareedah had realised they had broken their promise, they expected the Muslims to retaliate and thus fortified themselves in their homes. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) assigned the task of making the Jews surrender to AliR.A bin Abu Talib, his son-in-law.

In Arabic, Qareedah is the name of acacia tree, and as some parts of this tree are used in tanning, therefore the Jews of this profession had become known as ‘Banu Qareedah’. Many among them were goldsmiths, tanners and agriculturists. They had become very rich. They built houses that could be used as forts as well. When the Makkan army left, they fortified themselves in these houses and decided to remain in the opposition of Islam.

AliR.A besieged the colony of Banu Qareedah and invited them to Islam, but they replied that they did not believe Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) as a Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), since he belonged to the Arabs. In their belief, a prophet could only be raised among Banu Israel, and no-one else. Until then, all the Prophets had belonged to Bani Israel. The Muslims kept them under siege for four weeks. When their food had become scarce the chief of the tribe, Ka’ab Asad showed himself on the turret of a fort and addressed Ali, "O AliR.A our infants are deprived of milk as the bosoms of their mothers have dried up. These lactating mothers lack food to fill their breasts with milk; thus our children are crying with hunger".

AliR.A replied "O Asad, I and my companions, who have surrounded you, also have small children and we well know how a child wails when he is hungry. Let it be known to you that we rear no grudge against your children, nor are we responsible for your present stage. It is you who violated the constitution of Madinah, subverted with the Makkans and tried to stab us in the back, and have now fortified yourself in your houses against us. How can we trust you and leave you free? Even then, to solve the issue, I offer you a suggestion. Are you willing to accept someone as an arbitrator? What he decides, will you accept it?"

Ka’ab bin Asad replied that he could not answer for the time being. He wanted some time to counsel with the heralds of his tribe. According to the pact of Madinah issuance of laws rested with the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and he had full authority in regulating them. He was not bound to accept an arbitrator in order to resolve the differences between the Muslims and Banu Qareedah. With the permission of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), AliR.A had suggested to the Jews to accept the decision reached upon by another arbitrator.

After the given respite, Ka’ab bin Asad reappeared on the same turret and announced that his tribe had agreed to accept the arbitration of a neutral person. AliR.A said, "O Ka’ab Asad, let it be known to you that we do not want to put you under any pressure. You have full freedom to appoint anyone as your arbitrator. When you do so, we will send to you two representatives from our side. You should also send two representatives from your side. Our representatives will talk to you about breaking the mutual agreement and violating the charter of Madinah from your side. Your representatives will be free to converse; but when the negotiations are over and the judge gives his verdict, will you accept his decision honestly?"

The Jews replied, "O Ali, we will!" AliR.A said, "Then we also will accept his decree!"

Although the battle had not ended and the Jews were still under siege, yet, AliR.A allowed the Jews enough eatables to last for a week. He also directed that the Jews should be given whatever they demanded so that their infants would not wail from hunger.

The Jews of Banu Qareedah counselled again and then sent the message, "We appoint Sa’ad Mu’az our arbitrator". Sa’ad Mu’az was the chief of tribe A’us and had friendly relations with the Jews and the Muslims. The Muslims laid the complaint against the Jews before him and informed him about various clauses of the charter of Madinah. They said that by this pact, all the tribes were bound to side in defence with the Muslims in case Madinah was invaded, but Banu Qareedah, instead of supporting the Muslims had contacted their enemies to form a coalition against them.

The representatives of Banu Qareedah tried to defend themselves. Mentioning the Battle of Uhud they said that they had wanted to help the Muslims but that offer had been turned down by the latter. They were sure that Muslims would again turn down their offer to help. The Muslims said that they had not violated the pact by turning down Jewish help and that the Jews had blatantly violated the pact in the battle of the Moat and had tried to stab them in their backs at instigation of the enemy.

The representatives of Banu Qareedah denied this and said that they had neither contacted the Makkan army nor had tried to enter a deal with them. At this point, the Muslims at once produced Naeem bin Masood as a witness who told in detail the tasks assigned to him. In addition, he also told the names of the Jews one by one who had given him various instructions.

The court proceedings lasted for many days. Sa’ad Mu’az listened attentively to the arguments and witnesses from both sides. Then he gave his decision, "As Banu Qareedah broke their promise, violated Mithaq-e-Madinah and tried to conspire with an enemy who had come to eliminate the Muslims, therefore they all deserve death!"

It must be noted here that this decree did not come from a Muslim but from a person whom the Jews considered their well-wisher and who they themselves had chosen as their judge. After the issuance of this decree, AliR.A allowed women, young children and old men to be exempted from this punishment. If other people entered Faith, they would also be exempted. Hence, some Jews of Banu Qareedah embraced Islam, but other Jews, consisting of men only, did not bother to come out of their fort-like houses, rather they took to resist the Muslims.

At this moment, AliR.A resigned from the battle of Banu Qareedah, because the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) had assigned him another task. However, while on the way out, AliR.A once again insisted that women, children, young boys and girls and old men be allowed to leave the fort, in case a fight ensued, these people might not suffer from hunger and thirst. The Muslims obeyed Ali’s orders. However of those Jews who resisted the Muslims because of their stubbornness, none survived.