I am leaving Masjed Quba. I look back at the street scene and the last glimpses of the receding masjed from my bus window…soon the bus turns and the guide points out the place where the Battle of the Ditch took place.
The sun shines on the shopkeepers and the pedestrians saunter to their destinations unbeknownst to the significance that they tread upon the earth soaked with the blood of the Muslims, the sahabahs, the hypocrites and the pagans of Quraish…….
The guide points with a very general flourish of his hand, the seven points where Prophet Muhammad pbuh stopped to help the Sahabah to dig the trench and prayed with them. At these sites six small and one large mosque is built.
Up on the rock, I see one of the small mosque’s (see picture). I wish that the bus would let me off and I would walk in the footsteps of our Prophet Muhammad pbuh and traverse these seven points. These pivotal places where history is soaked in every grain of sand, and embedded in the memory of the rock.
This Ditch, which absorbed the sweat, energy, hopes, and supplications of the Sahabah, stands witness to the highest level of dignity in face of adversity by the Sahabah. One chiseled by istiqamah and draped with sabr. It is where our beloved Prophet Muhammad pbuh labored,physically, emotionally and full trust in Allah for the sake of his people of Medina.
This is the same ditch which separated the small community of Medina from the ruthless and strong army of the Pagans. They came armed to the teeth with fighting armamentarium as well as sensitive intelligence regarding the weak points of the city and its people, supplied by the members of the Jewish tribe in Medina. The same Jewish tribe that had signed a pact (the covenant of Medina) to defend the inhabitants of Medina no matter which tribe or faith they belong to.
This Surah speaks to the believers of this event partly recounting what happened and why and partly to demonstrate that the painful process during the stages of the siege and the battle separated the chaff from the wheat and burnt the impurities in the Believers leaving only the the gold of emaan within them. It was only when that was clear that Allah sent His help in the form of the vicious sandstorm and His army of angels.
I can never bring myself to write about war. However this was a different war. A defensive war to protect the injured and the weak.
It was a protective war to ward of the vultures coming to Medina to clean off the wounded and weakened of Uhud. It was a time of betrayal from the inside the Combined House of Medina. It was the betrayal of the Muslims and non-Jewish inhabitants of Medina by the Jews, and it was an unveiling of who was sincere and who was not.
It is the site of a historic duel between Ali ibn Talib ra and the strong and vicious man of Quraish. It was David and Goliath all over again, history repeating itself in a different terrain.
It was pitching the intellect and strategy of the Muslims against the brute force of numbers and military power of the Quraish and the betrayal from within Medina by the Jewish tribe.
It was a time of siege, a whole month of it where people in Medina ran out of food and water and wondered when would the help of Allah come to the Believers as promised by Him Almighty.
The bus stops at the light and I look out……..the heat of the day makes the pavements dazzle with it. Looking up, the hard rock bears witness that it was a labor of love and faith that propelled the Sahabah to dig the trench on empty stomachs and bodies weakened with thirst……
The mosque on the rock signifies the victory of the Muslims, by the help of Allah………and He Subhanawataala reveals in Surah Ahzaab the lessons we, many generations later must learn from it.