ta’if campaign is in fact an extension of hunain ghazwah; that is because the majority of the defeated troops of hawazin and thaqif went into ta’if with the general commander — malik bin ‘awf an-nasri — and fortified themselves within it. so upon finishing with hunain invasion, he gathered the booty at al-ji‘ranah in the very month (i.e. shawwal) and in the eighth year a.h.
a vanguard battalion of a thousand men led by khalid bin al-waleed marched towards at-ta’if. whereas the messenger of allâh [pbuh] proceeded passing through nakhlah al-yamaniyah, qarn al-manazil and through laiyah. at laiyah there was a castle that belonged to malik bin ‘awf, so the messenger of allâh [pbuh] gave orders to have it destroyed. he resumed his march till he got to ta’if. there he dismounted, camped near its castle and laid siege to the castle inhabitants; but not for long.
how long the siege continued, is still a matter of disagreement. it however stands between 10-20 days. [sahih muslim, narrated by anas [aws]; fath al-bari 8/45]
a lot of arrow-shooting and rock-hurling occurred during the siege. for as soon as the muslims laid siege round the castle, its people started shooting arrows against them. the arrows were so intense and fierce that they looked as if they had been locusts on the move. a number of muslims were wounded and twelve were killed.
to be far from the arrow-range, the muslims had to ascend to a higher location and camped on — i.e. to what is now called at-ta’if mosque. the prophet [pbuh] set up a mangonel and shelled the castle. eventually a gap was made in the castle wall, through which a number of muslims managed to pass into the castle, sheltered by a wooden tank, with the purpose of setting fire into it. anyway, the enemy poured down molten hot iron on them. affected by this the muslims stepped out of the tank and were again exposed to arrow shooting and consequently some of them were killed.
to force the enemy to surrender, the prophet [pbuh] tended to a war policy of burning and cutting the enemy’s crops. his order was to cut their vineyards and burn them. seeing that the muslims started rapidly cutting and burning their vines, they implored the prophet [pbuh] to stop and have mercy on them for the sake of allâh and out of kinship motives. so the prophet agreed. when the caller of the messenger of allâh [pbuh] called out unto people saying "he whosoever descends and steps out of the castle is free." twenty-three men came out. [sahih al-bukhari 2/620] one of them was abu bakrah who tied himself to a wall and let himself down by means of a small wheel, that would normally be used for drawing up water from a well. the way he let himself down made the prophet nickname him "abu bakrah", i.e. the man with the wheel. the messenger of allâh صلى الله عليه و سلم set them all free and entrusted each one of them to a muslim to care about their living affairs, which was too hard for the castle folkspeople to bear.
seeing that the siege lasted too long and that the castle was immune and could stand any siege (for they had already stored a supply that suffices for over a year) and that the muslims were suffering — day by day — from arrow-shots and heated iron hooks, the messenger of allâh [pbuh] consulted nawfal bin mu‘âwiyah ad-daili about that. he said: "they are like a fox hiding inside its burrow. if you stoodfast at it you would catch it, but if you parted with it, no harm would afflict you." the messenger of allâh [pbuh] decided to lift the siege and depart. ‘umar bin al-khattab, who was ordered by the prophet to notify people, said to them "if allâh will, we are leaving the castle and going back tomorrow." as it was too hard for the muslims to go back and leave the castle unconquered they complained saying, "should we go away while the castle is still unopened?" his reply was: "then, start fighting in the morning." in the morning they fought and were wounded. so when he repeated this statement: "if allâh will, we are leaving the castle and going back tomorrow", they were pleased and carried out the order submissively and started moving, which made the messenger of allâh [pbuh] laugh.
as soon as they mounted and started moving the messenger [pbuh] said:
"say! here we are returning, repenting, worshipping (allâh) and to our lord we offer praise."
when the messenger of allâh was asked to invoke allâh against thaqif, he said:
"o allâh, guide thaqif and bring them to us as muslims."
upon returning and lifting the siege in ta’if, the messenger of allâh [pbuh] had stayed over ten nights at al-ji‘ranah before starting to distribute the booty. distribution delay was due to the prophet’s hope that hawazin’s delegation might arrive and announce their repentance and consequently reclaim their loss. seeing that none of them arrived, he started dividing the booty so as to calm down the tribes’ chiefs and the celebrities of makkah. the first to receive booty and the ones who obtained the greatest number of shares were the people who had recently embraced islam.
abu sufyan bin harb was given a hundred camels and forty (gold) ounces and yet he said, "what about my son, yazeed’s share?" so he was given the same quantity for his son as well. but yet he exclaimed: "and what about the share of mu‘âwiyah, my second son?" so the prophet [pbuh] gave mu‘âwiyah as much as he gave his father and brother. hakeem bin hizam was given a hundred camels, but he was given a hundred more when he demanded. safwan bin omaiyah was given three hundred camels - a hundred camels at each time. it is thus mentioned in shifâ’ [ash-shifa 1/86], book by qadi iyadh. the prophet [pbuh] gave al-harith bin harith bin kilda a hundred camels. he also gave some chiefs of quraish and other clans a hundred camels; he gave others fifty and some others had forty.
eventually it was spread among people that "muhammad grants generously and fears not to grow poor." this made bedouins gather around him expecting to be given some wealth. they were so many that they forced the prophet [pbuh] to seek refuge against a tree and they even took away his garment, "o people!" he said, "give me back my garment! for i swear by the one in whose hand is muhammad’s soul, that if i had as many numerous camels as the number of tihama trees, i would distribute them among you. you know quite well that i am neither mean nor coward or a liar." standing by his camel he plucked out a hair of his camel’s hump and held it between his two fingers, lifted it up and said: "o people, i swear by allâh that i get nothing but one-fifth of your booty, and this very fifth goes back to you."
as soon as he had given the new converts, the messenger of allâh [pbuh] ordered zaid bin thabit to fetch the booty and summon people. then he ordained shares to people. a footman’s share was four camels and forty sheep, and a horseman would take twelve camels and a hundred and twenty sheep. this distribution of booty was based on a wise policy. in this world there are lots of people who know the truth only when it comes through their stomachs and they do not recognize it if it comes through their brains. the similitude of such people is as the guidance of an animal to its herd by means of a bunch of clover held at a constant distance off its mouth. the animal would try all the time to catch it, so it would eventually go into the herd safely. in the same way you have to do various kinds of temptations to make certain kind of people familiarize islam and be pleased with. [fiqh as-seerah p.298,299]
at first the prophet’s policy of distribution was uncomprehended by many a man. therefore sharp-tongued people started expressing their objections. the helpers were among those who were afflicted by this policy. they were deprived of hunain gifts though they had been the ones who were summoned at hunain hard times and they were the first to rush to fight with the messenger of allâh [pbuh] and standfast till the defeat turned into victory. now here they are watching those who escaped fill their hands with booty while they are given nothing.
on the authority of ibn ishaq: "when the messenger of allâh [pbuh] had given quraish and arab tribes those gifts and allotted nothing to the helpers, a group of the helpers felt so uneasy about it that a lot of ill-statements against the prophet [pbuh] were spread among them to an extent that one of them said: "by allâh, the messenger of allâh [pbuh] was ill-spoken of by his folksmen!" and those ill-statements went on spreading till sa‘d bin ‘ubadah met the messenger of allâh [pbuh], who in his turn faced his people after a while.
sa‘d bin ‘ubadah said: "o messenger of allâh, this group of the helpers are furious at you about the distribution of the booty that you had won. you have allotted shares to your own kinsmen and forwarded lots of gifts to the arab tribes. but this group has obtained nothing." the prophet [pbuh] asked sa‘d exclaiming: "sa‘d, what do you think of all that?" sa‘d replied: "o messenger of allâh. you know that i am nothing but a member of this group." "call out on your people and bring them forth to me into this shed." said the prophet [pbuh].
so sa‘d went out and summoned them. when some emigrants came, he let them in but forbade others. when they were all gathered together, he informed the prophet saying: "this group of the helpers have just arrived to meet you in compliance with your orders." as soon as the messenger [pbuh] faced them he thanked allâh and praised him, then said to them inquiring, "i have been told that you are angry with me. didn’t i come to you when you were astray and allâh guided you? you were poor and allâh gave you wealth. weren’t you foes and allâh made you love one another." "yes," they said, "allâh and his messenger are better and more gracious." then he said: "what prevents you from replying to the messenger of allâh, o tribe of helpers?" they said, "what should be the reply, o messenger of allâh, while to the lord and to his messenger belong all benevolence and grace."
the prophet [pbuh] again said:
"but by allâh, you might have answered and answered truly, for i would have testified to its truth myself: ‘you came to us belied and rejected and we accepted you; you came to us as helpless and we helped you; a fugitive, and we took you in; poor and we comforted you’.
you helpers, do you feel anxious for the things of this world, wherewith i have sought to incline these people unto the faith in which you are already established?
are you not satisfied, o group of helpers that the people go with ewes and camels while you go along with the messenger of allâh ([pbuh]) to your dwellings. by him in whose hand is my life, had there been no migration, i would have been one of the helpers. if the people would go through a valley and passage, and the helpers go through another valley and passage, i would go through the valley and passage of the helpers. allâh! have mercy on the helpers, their children and their children’s children."
the audience wept until tears rolled down their beards as they said:
"yes, we are satisfied, o prophet of allâh ([pbuh] )! with our lot and share."
then the prophet [pbuh] left the gathering and the people also dispersed. [ibn hisham 2/499,500; and like this quoted by bukhari 2/620, 621]
hawazin’s delegation arrived a muslims just after the distribution of spoils. they were fourteen men headed by zuhair bin sard. the messenger’s foster uncle was one of them. they asked him to bestow upon them some of the wealth and spoils. they uttered so touching words that the messenger of allâh [pbuh] said to them: "you surely see who are with me. the most desirable speech to me is the most truthful. which is dearer to you, your wealth or your women and children?" they replied: "nothing whatsoever compares with kinship." then when i perform the noon prayer, stand up and say: "we intercede with the messenger of allâh [pbuh] to exhort the believers, and we intercede with the believers to exhort the messenger of allâh [pbuh] to forego the captives of our people fallen to their lot." so when the messenger of allâh [pbuh] performed the noon prayer, they stood up and said what they had been told to say. the messenger [pbuh], then, said: "as for what belongs to me and to the children of abdul muttalib, you may consider them, from now on, yours. and i will ask my folksmen to give back theirs." upon hearing that the emigrants and the helpers said: "what belongs to us is, from now on, offered to the messenger of allâh [pbuh]." but al-aqra‘ bin habis said, "we will grant none of what belongs to me and to bani tamim,"; so did ‘uyaina bin hisn, who said: "as for me and bani fazarah, i say ‘no’." al-‘abbas bin mirdas also refused and said: "no" for bani saleem and him. his people, however, said otherwise: "whatever spoils belong to us we offer to the messenger of allâh ([pbuh].)" "you have undermined my position." said al-‘abbas bin mirdas spontaneously. then the messenger of allâh [pbuh] said: "these people have come to you as muslims. for this i have already tarried the distribution of the booty. besides, i have granted them a fair option but they refused to have anything other than their women and children. therefore he who has some of theirs and will prefer willingly to give them back, let them do. but those who favours to keep what he owns to himself, let them grant them back too, and he will be given as a recompense six times as much from the first booty that allâh may provide us." people then said, "we will willingly offer them all for the sake of the messenger of allâh." the messenger of allâh [pbuh] said: "but in this way we are not able to find out who is content and who is not. so go back and we will be waiting for your chiefs to convey to us your decisions." all of them gave back the women and children. the only one who refused to comply with the messenger’s desire was ‘uyaina bin hisn. he refused to let an old woman of theirs go back at first. later on he let her go back. the messenger of allâh [pbuh] gave every captive a garment as a gift.
having accomplished the distribution of the spoils at al-ji‘ranah he left it while wearing al-‘umrah clothes and proceeded to makkah to perform al-‘umrah. the messenger of allâh [pbuh] turned back from there to madinah after appointing ‘itab bin usaid on makkah as governor. his arrival to madinah was by the last six nights of dhul-qa‘dah, in the year 8 a.h. on this occasion muhammad al-ghazali said:
"what a great change it is between the victorious period of muhammad at present which allâh has towered with a manifest conquest, and that period of the past during which muhammad first arrived at this town, eight years ago."
when he first came to madinah, he was pursued and wanted. he was seeking a secure shelter. he was a lonely stranger who sought companionship and comfort. the people of madinah welcomed him, gave him residence and aided him and embraced the light of islam, which had been sent down upon him. they, for his sake, did not care about the enmity of other peoples. here he is entering madinah again, after the lapse of eight years of that first visit. madinah, the town that had received him once, when he was a frightened emigrant; it receives him once again when makkah has become in his hands and at his disposal. it is makkah that has got rid of its pride and jahiliyah (i.e. pre-islamic period and traditions). it is now proud again and mighty in islam. the messenger of allâh forgave all the errors and wrongs of its people.
"verily, he who fears allâh with obedience to him (by abstaining from sins and evil deeds, and by performing righteous good deeds), and is patient, then surely, allâh makes not the reward of the good-doers to be lost." [al-qur'an 12:90] [fiqh-us-seerah 303; za'd al-ma'ad 2/160-201; ibn hisham 2/389-501; sahih bukhari: chapter fath ghazwal, hunian, awtas and at-ta'if 2/612-622. fath al-bari 8/3-58]