two-pronged hostile activities were being independently conducted against the prophet [pbuh]; plots and intrigues being hatched by safwan bin omaiyah, the hypocrites and jews on the one hand, going on and on parallel lines with military hostilities being prepared by abu sufyan aiming at saving the face of his people and impressing on the other arabs that quraish was still a military power to be counted for. in the aftermath of badr, abu sufyan was burning for revenge and took a solemn vow he would never bathe off impurity unless he had avenged himself on muhammad [pbuh] and his followers. he set out at the head of 200 men towards madinah but was not brave enough to attack it in broad daylight. he, instead resorted to acts of piracy that are performed in the dark. he infiltrated into the prophet [pbuh]’s town and went to see an old ally huyai bin akhtab, who was too cowardly to let him in, so he left for salam bin mashkam, chief of bani nadeer, a tribe of jews. the jew entertained and gave him a full account of the situation therein. late at night he despatched a group of his men to raid al-‘uraid, a suburb of madinah. there, the men felled and burnt the palm trees, killed two muslims and then took swiftly to their heels.
on hearing the news, the prophet [pbuh] gathered his men and set out at their heels, but could not catch them. the muslims brought back the provisions (sawiq, a kind of barley porridge) which the polytheists had thrown aside in order to lighten their loads and hasten their escape; hence this campaign was called as-sawiq invasion. it took place in dhul-hijjah 2 a.h., two months after the event of badr.[za'd al-ma'ad 2/90,91; ibn hisham 2/44,45]