“Now hath God helped you in many battlefields and on the day of Honein, when ye prided yourselves on your numbers but it availed you nothing ... then ye turned your backs in flight. Then did God lend down his spirit of repose upon his Apostle and upon the Faithful, and he sent down the hosts which ye saw not and punished the Infidels.”—The Kuran.
Mahomet’s triumph at Mecca was not left long undisturbed. If the Kureisch had yielded in the face of his superior armies, the great tribe of the Hawazin were by no means minded to suffer his lordship, indeed they determined forthwith vigorously to oppose it. They were devoted to idol-worship, and leaven of Mahomet’s teaching had not effected even remotely their age-long faith. They now saw themselves face to face not only with a religious revolution, but also with political absorption in the victorious sect if they did not make good their opposition to this overwhelming enemy in their midst.
They assembled at Autas, in the range of mountains north-east of Taif, and threatened to raid the sacred city itself. Mahomet was obliged to leave Mecca hurriedly after having only occupied the city for about three weeks. He left Muadh ibn Jabal to instruct the Meccans and secure their allegiance, and called off the whole of his army, together with 2000 of the more warlike spirits of his newly conquered territory. The force drew near the valley of Honein, where Mahomet fell in with the vanguard of the Hawazin. There the two armies, the rebels under Malik, the Muslim under the combined leadership of Khalid and Mahomet, joined battle. Khalid led the van and charged up the steep and narrow valley, hoping to overwhelm the Hawazin by his speed, but the enemy fell upon them from an ambuscade at the top of the hill and swept unexpectedly into the narrow, choked path. The Muslim, unprepared for the sudden onslaught, turned abruptly and made for flight. Instantly above the tumult rose the voice of their leader:
“Whither go ye? The Prophet of the Lord is here, return!”
Abbas lent his encouragement to the wavering files:
“Citizens of Medina! Ye men of the Pledge of the Tree of Fealty, return to your posts!”
In the narrow defile the battle surged in confluent waves, until Mahomet, seizing the moment when a little advantage was in his favour, pressed home the attack and, casting dust in the face of the enemy, cried:
“Ruin seize them! By the Lord of the Kaaba they yield! God hath cast fear into their hearts!”
The inspired words of their leader, whose vehement power all knew and reverenced, turned the day for the Muslim hosts. They charged up the valley and overwhelmed the troops at the rear of the Hawazin. The enemy’s rout was complete. Their camp and families fell into the hands of the conqueror. Six thousand prisoners were removed to Jeirana, and the fugitive army pursued to Nakhla. Mahomet’s losses were more severe than any which he had encountered for some time, but, undeterred and exultant, he marched to Taif, whose idolatrous citadel had become a refuge for the flying auxiliaries of the Hawazin.