‘The Battle of the Trench’

Surah 33 (Al-Ahzab/The Parties): 10

When they (the disbelievers) invaded you from above (the eastern side of the valley) and from below (the western side of the valley), and when (your) eyes were distracted (with terror), and (your) hearts rose up to your throats (with horror), and you began to think various uncertainties about Allah (in a state of fear and hope).

[‘The Glorious Qur’an’, Tahrir Ul-Qadri]


The third and final military confrontation between Muhammad and the Meccans is said by Muslim tradition to have occurred after further attacks by Muhammad on Meccan caravans, and as Muhammad was increasingly subduing by raids and treaties the Bedouin tribes who controlled the land these caravans travelled through. In an attempt to break this economic stranglehold, the Meccans raised their largest force yet, including mercenaries from Africa, and for a second time in three years marched from Mecca upon Yathrib/Medina. This time, Muhammad kept his fighters within the settlement, which he fortified with a ditch across the only access route suitable for a cavalry charge. The Meccans appear to have been taken by surprise by this tactic and did not attempt to cross the ditch in numbers. Instead they besieged Muhammad, but after a month, running low on provisions and suffering the demoralising effects of adverse weather, winds referred to in {33.9}, and without any plan to breach Muhammad’s defences, the Meccans eventually abandoned their siege, without any major fighting having taken place.


The stand-off is said to be the events alluded to throughout {33.9-25}.