Roj Ram Mah Ardibehesht, 1385 Yz.
Long used to battles with the Romans and the many enemies of Iran, Dastur Dinyar suggested the simple stratagem of digging a ditch around the town of Medina, harvesting early all the crops grown around the area, to deprive the attackers of any food supplies, and not engaging in one to one combat with the Meccans.
These tactics were totally unknown to the Arabs. Prophet Mohammad agreed to the solution offered by Dastur Dinyar and the whole town, including the Prophet himself started digging the fortifications. The north side of Mecca was open to attack whereas the rest of Medina was surrounded by hills and dense trees, rendering cavalry attack impossible. The trench was dug deep and wide enough to prevent horses jumping over and attacking. All able men, women and children, and the Prophet as well slaved for six days to build the fortification. The mud from the excavations was used to build further fortifications around the town. In addition, all the crops in the countryside were harvested early and stored, to prepare for the siege and also to deprive the attackers of supplies. These advanced military stratagems were totally unknown to the Arabs and Dastur Dinyar emerged as the guiding force in this battle.
The siege of Medina began in January 627 and lasted for 27 days. Abu Sufyan and his army were totally unprepared for what they saw. They tried to jump over the trenches but failed and were mercilessly killed. For two weeks the attackers and the besieged shouted insults at each other but could do nothing more. While the Medinans were comfortably ensconced, the Meccan supplies were non-existent. Even fodder for the horses was not available, thanks to Dastur Dinyar’s stratagem of the early harvest. The Quraysh grew increasingly impatient with this kind of warfare and one of their best warriors, Amr ibn Abd Wudd challenged the Meccans to a duel. The beloved cousin of Mohammad, Ali, accepted the challenge and the encounter began. A cloud of dust enveloped the warriors and it was impossible to see what was happening. Finally the victorious cry of ‘Allahu Akbar!’ confirmed that Ali had prevailed. Abu Sufyan’s army made several other attempts to cross the ditch but failed miserably.
Even so, there was crisis amongst the Medinans too. Food supplies were running short and there was news that some new supporters were on way to help Sufyan. At this time of crisis, Nuaym ibn Masud, who was part of Sufyan’s confederation, but who had secretly converted to Islam, crossed over and gave important information to the Medinans. He then went back and sowed seeds of discord amongst the confederates, setting one against the other. The weather also took a turn for the worse and it became very cold and wet. Very strong winds blew out the campfires, causing further discomfort. Finally the confederate forces decide to withdraw and by morning, the Battle of the Trench (Ghazwah al-Khandaq) was over.
As the people of Medina celebrated, the Mohajirs (emigrants) congratulated Dastur Dinyar for being one of them and saving the town. The Ansaris (helpers) claimed Dastur Dinyar as one of their own. As the rivalry increased, Prophet Mohammad arrived at the scene and asked the cause of the commotion. When the issue was explained, the Prophet remarked simply: “Salman is neither Muhajir nor Ansari. He is one of us. He is one of the People of the House, Ahl-e-Bait.” Such an honour of being considered as part of the family of the Prophet was given to Dastur Dinyar.
As the days went by and the position of the Prophet increased in stature, Dastur Dinyar continued to guide him. Such was the knowledge and learning of this great sage of Sassanian Iran that it left a very deep imprint on the Prophet and his companions. In a Hadith, Prophet Mohammad has commended the Persians’ thirst for learning by saying: “Men from the land of Persia will attain scientific knowledge even if it is as far as the Pleiades.” (Pleiades is a star system also called 7 sisters, in the constellation of Taurus.) In order to further strenghten the rising star of the Prophet, Dastur Dinyar gave many hints and teachings of how to overcome enemies much more powerful than him. But while giving such advice, Dastur Dinyar always took the word of the Prophet and his very close associates (the Sahabah) that the same would never be used against the Persian Empire or Zoroastrians.
Remembering the words of Buzurgmeher, Dastur Dinyar also secured a special ‘Ahd Namah’ a declaration by Prophet Mohammad that forbade any Muslim from trying to coerce or convert any Zoroastrian into Islam. This Ahd Namah laid down certain guidelines as to how future Muslim rulers should govern their Zoroastrian subjects, the issue of Jaziya tax and the express stipulation that wherever the Islamic empire would spread, the Zoroastrians of that region would always be allowed the freedom to profess their own ancient faith without any restrictions.
But all this respect by Prophet Mohammad for Dastur Dinyar could not prevent the cruel events that would soon come in a few years…
Although the Battle of the Trench was a major success, the relations between Mecca and Medina were still tense. Later on, the Truce of Hudaybiyyah tried to bring some peace and certainty but soon that too fizzled out. Finally, the truce was broken and in 630, Mohammad marched with an army of 10,000 and without much trouble, finally entered Mecca. He lined up 10 men and women to face exemplary punishment, forgave the rest of the populace which embraced Islam and then proceeded to destroy the idols in the Kaaba square. The sacred place of Islam had been secured at last and purged of its earlier occupants.
Shortly thereafter, two more battles – the Battle of Hunayn and the Battle of Tabouk were led by the Prophet further cementing his position. In 632, the Prophet made the actual Islamic pilgrimage known today as the Hajj. After finishing the pilgrimage, the Prophet made his final farewell sermon at Mount Arafat, letting his followers know that his time was now coming to an end. A few months later, he fell ill and finally passed away on Monday, 8th June 832 in Medina, with his head resting on the lap of his wife Aisha.
The era of the Prophet had ended, now the battle for succession and the era of expansion would begin…
[to be continued…]
Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram