The Battle of Hunain
The violent tribes of Hawazin and Thaqif joined hands. Collecting a large force, they marched upon the Muslims. In order to enable them to pursue their hostility to the bitter end and to inspire their own ranks to desperate deeds, they had brought their families with them. On the 6th of Shawwal, a pitched battle was fought at Hunain, about ten miles from Mecca. The Hawazin and Thaqif had taken up vantage positions. They almost took the Muslims by surprise, attacking them in the early hours of the morning. They fought in a spirit of desperation. The Muslims first lost ground and their defeat seemed imminent.
At that time, a cousin of the Holy Prophet named Abu Sufyan ibn al-Harith was holding the bridle of the Prophet's horse. As the Prophet was witnessing his people's retreat, he called out to them, "Where are you rmming off to?!" But nobody was paying any attention to him. The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) then told his uncle 'Abbas to call the Muslims back. 'Abbas wondered as to how his voice would reach the fleeing herd. The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said that Allah would cause his voice to reach them, no matter how far they might have gone. 'Abbas called them in these words as the Prophet had taught him: "O group of the Helpers! O people of the tree of Samrah!" Those who proved to be firm in the battle of Hunain include 'Abbas, 'Ali ibn Abi Talib, Abu Sufyan ibn alHarith, 'Aqil ibn Abi Talib, 'Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr, Zubayr ibn al-'Awwam and Usamah ibn Zaid.
AI-Halabi remarks in Al-Sira alHalabiyya that only four persons remained with the Holy Prophet, three of whom were Hashimites, i.e., 'Ali ibn Abi Talib, 'Abbas and Abu Sufyan ibn al-Harith, and one non-Hashimite, i.e., 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud.
Abul-Fida makes another point. He says:
"When the Muslims fled, the secret malice which the people of Mecca entertained against the Muslims was exposed. Abu Sufyan ibn Harb gleefully cried out, 'They will not stop until they reach the seashore!"
However, after the call of 'Abbas, at last the deserters returned and ultimately the Hawazin and Thaqif were totally routed. The Thaqif took refuge in the city of Ta'if but the families of the Hawazin, with all their flocks and herds, fell into the hands of the Muslims. Ta'if was besieged, but the siege was lifted a day later. The Hawazin approached the Prophet and beseeched him to restore their families to them. The Prophet answered them that he could not compel his army to forego all the fruits of victory and that if they wanted their families back, they would have to forego their worldly goods. To this, the Hawazin consented. On the next day, on the advice of the Holy Prophet, they approached the Prophet and repeated their request. The Prophet replied, "My own share of the captives, and that of the children of 'Abdul-Muttalib, I give back to you at once." The army followed suit, and six thousand people were set free. The Hawazin were so overwhelmed by this generosity that many of them accepted Islam there and then.
The spoils of the war, which consisted of 24,000 camels, 40,000 goats, and a considerable quantity of silver, were distributed among the army. In making the distribution, the newly converted Muslims as well as many non-Muslims of Mecca, known in history as "mu'allafatul qulub" (those who were helped in order to win their hearts) were given disproportionately larger shares. Some Ansar considered this as an act of partiality, and their discontent was reported to the Prophet. It was also reported that Ansar feared that now that Mecca was conquered, the Holy Prophet would return to it and migrate from Medina. The Holy Prophet delivered a lecture to them wherein he said:
"O Ansar! I have learned about your discourse. When I came to you, you were wandering in the dark, and the Lord gave you the right direction. You were suffering, and He made you happy. You were enemies of one another, and He filled your hearts with brotherly love and concord. Was it not so, tell me?"
"Indeed, it is even as you say," was the reply: "Lord and to His Prophet belong the benevolence and the grace."
"Nay, by the Lord," continued the Prophet, "but you might have answered (my questions), and answered truly, for I would have testified to its truth myself 'You came to us rejected as an impostor, and we believed in you; you came as a helpless fugitive and we assisted you; you were poor and outcast, and we gave you asylum, comfortless and we solaced you. 'O Ansar! Why do you disturb your hearts because of the things of this life? Are ye not satisfied that others should return with the flocks and the camels, while you go back to your homes with me in your midst? By Him Who holds my life in His hands, I shall never abandon you. If all mankind went one way and the Ansar went another, surely I would join the Ansar. The Lord be favorable to them, and bless them, and their children, and their children's children!"
At these words, say the chroniclers, they all wept until tears ran down their beards. And they all cried with one voice, "Yes, Prophet of God, we are well satisfied with our share." (meaning the presence of Holy Prophet in Medina). Thereupon they retired happy and contented. Muhammad soon after returned to Medina.