This is another excerpt from Bill Warner’s book Abridged Koran where the verses of Koran are arranged in their chronological order and provided with facts from prophet Muhammad’s life, giving context for them.
CHAPTER 15 JIHAD, THE JEWS SUBMIT (end of chapter)
THE BATTLE OF THE TRENCH
Some of the Jews who had been exiled from Medina decided that they needed to destroy Mohammed and to do that they needed allies. Since allies were to be found in Mecca, they went there and parlayed with the leaders of the Quraysh. But since this was a war of religion, the Quraysh wanted proof of religious supremacy to Mohammed. So the leaders said to the Jews, “You are People of the Book and you know our disagreement. Who has the better religion, us or Mohammed?” The leaders of the Jews replied that the Quraysh had the better religion.
Now the Koran could not pass up such an insult to Mohammed. So the Koran says:
4:49 Have you not seen those who praise themselves for their purity? But Allah purifies whom He pleases, and they will not be treated unjustly in the slightest degree. See how they make up lies about Allah! That in itself is a terrible sin. Have you not seen those [Jews allied with the Meccans] to whom part of the Scriptures were given? They believe in idols and sorcery, and they say of the unbelievers, “These are guided on a better path than the believers.” It is on these whom Allah has laid His curse. Those who are cursed by Allah will have no one to help them.
4:53 Should those who would fail to give even a penny to their fellow man have a share in the kingdom? Do they envy the people for what they have received from Allah’s bounty? We gave the Scriptures and wisdom to the children of Abraham, and a grand kingdom. Some of them believe in His Messenger while others turn away from him. The flames of Hell are sufficient punishment for them! Those who reject Our revelations We will cast into the Fire. As soon as their skins are burnt away, We will give them new skins so that they will truly experience the torment. Truly Allah is mighty and wise!
So the Meccans entered into an alliance with the Jews. Another Arab tribe joined the alliance as well. As Mohammed had many spies in Mecca, so it took no time until he knew of the coming fight and he set out to prepare for it. There was a Persian who suggested to Mohammed that he build a trench as a barrier against the Meccans and their allies. For eight days the Arabs worked at building a trench, or ditch, around the weak points of Medina. To help with morale Mohammed personally pitched in and did his turn at manual labor.
There was a fair amount of slacking and leaving work. The labor problems even worked their way into the Koran:
24:62 Only those who believe in Allah and His Messenger are the true believers, and when they are gathered together, do not leave until they have sought his permission. Those who ask your permission are the ones who truly believe in Allah and His Messenger. And when they ask your permission to leave for personal reasons, give permission to whom you please, and ask Allah for His indulgence on their behalf, for Allah is indulgent, merciful.
24:63 Do not address the Messenger in the same way you address one another. Allah knows which of you leave quietly from the assemblies, hiding behind others. And let those who disobey his commands beware, for fear that some terrible punishment will come upon them.
24:64 Surely all that is in the heavens and earth belongs to Allah. He knows your intentions well. And one day all will be assembled before Him, and He will inform them of what they have done, for Allah knows all things.
But the work was done just in time. The Quraysh and the other allies camped near the trench. Mohammed and his army camped on their side of the trench and sent the women and children to the forts.
One of the exiled Jews approached the last tribe of Jews in Medina to be allies with the attacking Meccans. At first the Jews would not even talk to him. After all, if Mohammed won, they would be left with the consequences of dealing with a man who had driven the other two tribes of Jews from Medina. But in the end the Jews agreed to lend aid if the battle started to go against Mohammed.
Mohammed was able to use his agents to sow discord among those allied against him. The trench defense frustrated the Meccans. The weather was bad and the allies were distrustful of each other. In terms of actual combat only a handful of men were killed over the twenty-day siege. The Meccans broke camp and went back home. It was a victory for Mohammed.
33:9 Believers! Remember Allah’s grace when your enemies attacked you [the Battle of the Ditch], and We set a mighty wind against them [the Meccans and their allies, the confederates, put Medina under siege], and warriors they could not see, but Allah sees clearly all that you do. [The confederates’ poor planning, poor leadership, and bad weather caused them to fail]
33:10 When they attacked you from above and from below, your eyes went wild, your hearts leapt up into your throats, and you doubted Allah’s strength. There the believers were tried, and they were severely shaken. The hypocrites and the diseased of heart said, “Allah and His Messenger promised us only to deceive us.” A group of them said, “People of Medina! It is not safe for you here. Therefore, go back to your city.” Then another group said, “Our homes have been left defenseless,” although they were not, and they really only wanted to run away.
33:14 If the enemy had infiltrated the entire city, the disaffected would have been incited to rebel, and they surely would have done so, but they would have maintained control for only a short while. Before they had pledged to Allah that they would never turn their backs and flee. A pledge to Allah must be answered for. Say: Fleeing will not help you. If you are running away from death or slaughter, even if you do escape, you will only be left to enjoy this world for a short time. Say: Who will keep you from Allah if it is His will to punish you or to show you mercy? Only Allah is your guardian and a helper.