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Articles


The Prophetic Guidance in Crisis Management

Author : Dr. Mohammad Al-Hunaiti

Date Added : 11-02-2024


The Prophetic Guidance in Crisis Management

"The Battle of the Trench as a Model"

 

All perfect praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds. May His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.

 

As soon as the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) and his noble companions settled in Medina, establishing the political, economic, and social structure of the nascent state, the winds of adversity began to blow. Enemies sought to extinguish the light of Allah. Armies were mobilized, factions emerged, and adversaries converged from all directions. The Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions faced challenging and difficult moments.

 

However, the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) dealt with these crises and challenges with an approach so great that it has become incumbent upon all of us to follow his guidance in crisis management, extract lessons and insights from it, and strive to achieve even a fraction of what characterized it.

 

The events in the life of the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) are numerous, but in this article, we will focus on the Battle of the Trench. This battle was significant due to the grave events that occurred in Medina. The stakes were high, the danger was imminent, fear filled the hearts of the hypocrites, and rumors and gossip spread widely.

 

The Battle of the Trench, which took place in Shawwal of the fifth year of the Hijra, was one of the most difficult moments experienced by Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) and his companions. They faced days of hardship, during which the hypocrites and those with weak faith thought that the combined forces of the various tribes and their Jewish allies would exterminate Islam, believing that the Muslims would not survive thereafter. The enemy surrounded the Muslims and besieged them in their city. This was followed by the betrayal of the Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayza, who violated their treaty with the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). The situation became so dire that the Quran accurately depicts it, stating: "Behold! they came on you from above you and from below you, and behold, the eyes became dim and the hearts gaped up to the throats, and ye imagined various (vain) thoughts about God! In that situation were the Believers tried: they were shaken as by a tremendous shaking."(1).

 

As the crisis intensified, we notice Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) dealing with the events with great wisdom where his actions and policies became a model from which lessons and insights can be drawn.

 

Some of these Prophetic measures are:

 

1- His (peace be upon him) handling of the crisis was down to earth and devoid of any underestimation or trivialization. Hence, we see him (peace be upon him) gathering all the companions to face the multitudes of the allied tribes, and he stationed women and children in fortified areas.

 

2- Consultation with the companions and understanding their opinions and ideas on how to confront the allied tribes and their threat was crucial. After all, the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) was commanded by Allah to seek consultation, as stated in the Quran: " so pass over (Their faults), and ask for (God’s) forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs (of moment). Then, when thou hast Taken a decision put thy trust in God. For God loves those who put their trust (in Him)." (2). Therefore, we see that his consultation with his companions resulted in the idea of digging a trench on the northwest side of the city, a suggestion brought forth by Salman al-Farisi (may Allah be pleased with him). This idea was unexpected for the allied tribes and served as a surprise element they hadn't anticipated. The Arabs were not familiar with such a defensive tactic in their peninsula. This trench played a significant role in repelling the allied tribes and preventing them from entering the city of Medina.

 

Moreover, it was on the mind of the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) to reconcile with the Ghatafan tribe by offering them one-third of the dates of Medina and dissuade them from fighting against the Muslims. However, he did not act upon this idea until he consulted the leaders of the Aus and Khazraj tribes, who were known for their palm groves. He sent for Sa'd bin Mu'adh, the leader of the Aus, and Sa'd bin Ubadah, the leader of the Khazraj (may Allah be pleased with them both). When they realized that this was not a revelation from Allah, but rather a suggestion from the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) to ward off the threat posed by the allied tribes, they said to him: "By Allah, we will not give them anything but the sword until Allah judges between us and them."

 

3- Working to instill hope in the hearts and combat despair was crucial during that period. The slogan raised by the companions of the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) during the Battle of the Trench and the conflict with the Banu Qurayzah tribe was "Hamim, Laa Yansurun" (By Allah, they will not be victorious).

 

Ibn Is-haq reported that Salman al-Farisi said: "I was striking in one part of the trench, and a rock became hard for me to break. The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, was near me. When he saw me struggling and noticed the difficulty of the place, he came down and took the pickaxe from my hand. He struck with it, and a flash appeared beneath the pickaxe. He said: 'Then he struck with it again, and another flash appeared beneath it.' I said: 'By my parents, O Messenger of Allah! What is this flash I saw whenever you struck?' He said: 'Did you really see that, O Salman?' I said: 'Yes.' He said: 'As for the first one, Allah opened Yemen for me with it. As for the second one, Allah opened the Levant and the West with it. As for the third one, Allah opened the East with it.'" Ibn Is-haq continued: "Someone informed me, without any doubt, from Abu Huraira that he used to say: 'When these lands were conquered during the time of Umar, Uthman, and thereafter, open whatever you find in front of you! By Him in Whose Hand Abu Huraira's soul is, you will never conquer a city until the Day of Resurrection except that Allah has already given Mohammad, peace be upon him, its keys beforehand.'"

 

4-Control over the dissemination of news: The Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, managed the spread of news effectively. He raised the morale of his companions and instilled in them a sense of enthusiasm, reminding them that victory comes with patience and that every hardship will eventually fade away. He did not allow any news or rumors to weaken the spirits of the Muslims. An excellent example of this is when Huayy ibn Akhtab, the leader of the Jews of Khaybar, came to Ka'b ibn Asad al-Qurazi, the leader of the Banu Qurayzah, and persuaded him to break the covenant with the Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him. When news of this reached the Prophet, he sought to verify its accuracy. He sent Sa'd ibn Mu'adh and Sa'd ibn Ubadah, along with Abdullah ibn Rawaha, may Allah be pleased with them, to the fortresses of the Banu Qurayzah to confirm the truth of the news. He instructed them, "If it is true, then let me know privately, as I know how to handle it, and do not spread it among the people. But if the covenant between us and them remains intact, then announce it publicly."

 

This is how leadership should control the impact of news and not allow negative news and rumors to circulate among the people. Rumors and negative news have a greater impact on people than the strike of a sword, and fear and terror can prompt actions that even the enemy cannot achieve.

 

5-Exploiting the enemy's weaknesses: The Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) sought to dismantle the alliance that had formed between the Confederates (al-Ahzab) and the tribe of Banu Qurayzah. When Nu'aim bin Masud (may Allah be pleased with him) embraced Islam but his tribe remained unaware of his conversion, he approached the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) and offered his services. The Prophet advised him, "You are just one man among us. Act as you see fit, for war is a matter of deception." Nu'aim then went to the tribe of Banu Qurayzah and suggested to them that they should take some elite members from the Quraysh and Ghatafan tribes as hostages. This would reassure Banu Qurayzah that the Confederates would not abandon them, and the Muslims would not leave them alone after the Confederates returned to their lands. Subsequently, Nu'aim went to the Confederates and informed them that Banu Qurayzah regretted breaking their covenant with Muhammad (peace be upon him) and intended to hand over some of their men to him and his companions.

 

With this great deception, the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) disrupted the emerging alliance between the various factions and the Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayza, sowing seeds of doubt among them.

 

Fostering a spirit of participation among the Muslims in their food, drink, and all aspects of their lives, ensuring that no one prioritizes themselves over others, for all are equal. Ibn Ishaq narrates that Sa'id bin Mina reported that Bashiir bin Sa'd's daughter, the sister of Nu'man bin Bashiir, said, "My mother, Umm 'Amrah bint Rawahah, gave me a handful of dates in my garment and said, 'My little daughter, go to your father and your uncle 'Abdullah bin Rawahah for their meal.' So, I took them and set out. I passed by the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) as I was searching for my father and uncle. He asked, 'What do you have there, my little daughter?' I said, 'O Messenger of Allah, these are dates. My mother sent me with them to my father, Bashiir bin Sa'd, and my uncle, 'Abdullah bin Rawahah, for their meal.' He said, 'Give them to me.' So, I poured them into the hands of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), but they did not fill his hands. Then he ordered a garment to be spread out, and when it was done, he poured the dates onto it. They covered it and spread out beyond its edges. Then he said to someone nearby, 'Announce to the people in the trench to come for lunch.' The people of the trench gathered around it and began to eat from it. He continued to increase it until the people of the trench were satisfied, and yet there were still some dates left at the edges of the garment."

 

Ibn Ishaq also narrated from Sa'id bin Mina, who reported from Jabir bin Abdullah, saying, "We worked with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) in the trench. I had a little sheep, not a fat one, but rather lean. I said, 'By Allah, if we could prepare this for the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him)!' So, I commanded my wife, and she ground some barley for us, then she made bread from it, and she slaughtered that sheep, and we grilled it for the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). When the evening came, and the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) intended to leave the trench - for we worked there during the day and returned to our families in the evening - I said, 'O Messenger of Allah, I have prepared a meal for you with us, made from that sheep we had, along with some bread made from this barley. I would like you to come with me to my house, and I only want the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) to accompany me.' When I told him that, he said, 'Yes.' Then he ordered a caller to announce, 'Depart with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) to the house of Jabir bin Abdullah!' I said, 'We belong to Allah, and to Him we shall return.' The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) then arrived, and the people came with him. He sat down, and we brought the meal out to him. He blessed it and invoked the name of Allah, then he ate. People kept coming and going, whenever a group finished, they would leave, and another would come until the people of the trench had their fill."

 

1-Surah Al-Ahzab, Verses (10, 11).

2-Surah Al-Imran, Verse (159).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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