Ibn Jurayj reported from Mujahid that this was the first Ayah of Bara'ah in which Allah, the Exalted, reminds the believers how He favored and blessed them by giving them victory in many battles with His Messenger. Allah mentioned that victory comes from Him, by His aid and decree, not because of their numbers or adequate supplies, whether the triumphs are few or many. On the day of Hunayn, the Muslims were proud because of their large number, which did not avail them in the least; they retreated and fled from battle. Only a few of them remained with the Messenger of Allah Allah then sent down His aid and support to His Messenger and the believers who remained with him, so that they were aware that victory is from Allah alone and through His aid, even if the victorious were few. Many a small group overcame a larger opposition by Allah's leave, and Allah is ever with those who are patient. We will explain this subject in detail below, Allah willing.
The Battle of Hunayn
The battle of Hunayn occurred after the victory of Makkah, in the month of Shawwal of the eighth year of Hijrah. After the Prophet conquered Makkah and things settled, most of its people embraced Islam and he set them free. News came to the Messenger of Allah that the tribe of Hawazin were gathering their forces to fight him, under the command of Malik bin `Awf An-Nadri, as well as, the entire tribe of Thaqif, the tribes of Banu Jusham, Banu Sa`d bin Bakr, a few people of Awza` from Banu Hilal and some people from Bani `Amr bin `Amir and `Awf bin `Amir. They brought their women, children, sheep and camels along, in addition to their armed forces and adequate supplies. The Messenger of Allah marched to meet them with the army that he brought to conquer Makkah, ten thousand from the Muhajirin, the Ansar and various Arab tribes. Along with them came the Tulaqa' numbering two thousand men. The Messenger took them along to meet the enemy. The two armies met in Humayn, a valley between Makkah and At-Ta'if. The battle started in the early part of the morning, when the Huwazin forces, who were lying in ambush, descended on the valley when the Muslims entered. Muslims were suddenly struck by the ambush, the arrows descended on them and the swords struck them. The Huwazin commander ordered them to descend and attack the Muslims as one block, and when they did that, the Muslims retreated in haste, just as Allah described them. The Messenger of Allah remained firm in his position while riding his mule, Ash-Shahba'. He was leading his mule towards the enemy, while his uncle Al-`Abbas was holding its right-hand rope and his cousin Abu Sufyan bin Al-Harith bin `Abdul-Muttalib was holding the left rope. They tried to hold the mule back so it would not run faster toward the enemy. Meanwhile, the Messenger of Allah was declaring his name aloud and saying,
«إِلَيَّ عِبَادَ اللهِ إِلَيَ أَنَا رَسُولُ الله»
(O servants of Allah! Come back to me! I am the Messenger of Allah! He repeated these words,
(I am the Prophet, not lying! I am the son of Abdul-Muttalib!) There remained between a hundred and eighty Companions with the Prophet. These included Abu Bakr, `Umar, Al-`Abbas, `Ali, Al-Fadl bin `Abbas, Abu Sufyan bin Al-Harith, Ayman the son of Umm Ayman and Usamah bin Zayd. There were many other Companions, may Allah be pleased with them. The Prophet commanded his uncle Al-`Abbas, whose voice was rather loud, to call at the top of his voice, "O Companions of the Samurah tree'' referring to the Muhajirin and Ansar who gave their pledge under the tree during the pledge of Ridwan, not to run away and retreat. He also called, "O Companions of Surat Al-Baqarah.'' Upon hearing that, those heralded started saying, "Here we are! Here we are!'' Muslims started returning in the direction of the Messenger of Allah. If the camel of one of them did not obey him (as the people were rushing to the other direction in flight) he would wear his shield and descend from his camel and rush to the side of the Messenger of Allah on foot. When a large crowd gathered around the Messenger of Allah, he commanded them to fight in sincerity and took a handful of sand and threw it in the faces of the disbelievers, after supplicating to Allah,
«أللّهُمَّ أَنْجِزْ لِي مَا وَعَدْتَنِي»
(O Allah! Fulfill Your promise to me!) Then he threw that handful of sand which entered the eyes and mouth of all the disbelievers, thus distracting them from fighting, and they retreated in defeat. The Muslims pursued the enemy, killing and capturing them. The rest of the Muslim army (returning to battle gradually) rejoined their positions and found many captured disbelieving soldiers kept tied before the Messenger of Allah. In the Two Sahihs, it is recorded that Shu`bah said that Abu Ishaq said that Al-Bara' bin `Azib said to a man who asked him, "O Abu `Amarah! Did you run away during Hunayn and leave the Messenger of Allah '' Al-Bara' said, "But the Messenger of Allah did not run away. Hawazin was a tribe proficient with their arrows. When we met them we attacked their forces and they ran away in defeat. The Muslims started to worry about collecting the spoils of war and the Hawazin started shooting arrows at us, then the Muslims fled. I saw the Messenger of Allah proclaiming, -- while Abu Sufyan was holding the bridle of his white mule,
(I am the Prophet, not lying, I am the son of `Abdul- Muttalib!) This shows the great courage on behalf of the Prophet in the midst of confusion, when his army ran away and left him behind. Yet, the Messenger remained on his mule, which is a slow animal, not suitable for fast battle moves or even escape. Yet, the Messenger of Allah was encouraging his mule to move forward towards the enemy announcing who he was, so that those among them who did not know who he was came to know him. May Allah's peace and blessings be on the Messenger until the Day of Resurrection. This indicates the tremendous trust in Allah and reliance upon Him, as well as, sure knowledge that He will give him victory, complete what He has sent him for and give prominence to his religion above all other religions. Allah said,
ثُمَّ أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ سَكِينَتَهُ عَلَى رَسُولِهِ
(Then Allah did send down His Sakinah on His Messenger), He sent down tranquillity and reassurance to His Messenger,
(and on the believers), who remained with him,
وَأَنزَلَ جُنُوداً لَّمْ تَرَوْهَا
(and sent down forces which you saw not, ) this refers to angels. Imam Abu Ja`far bin Jarir At-Tabari said that Al-Qasim narrated to them, that Al-Hasan bin `Arafah said that Al-Mu`tamir bin Sulayman said from `Awf bin Abi Jamilah Al-`Arabi who said that he heard `Abdur-Rahman, the freed slave of Ibn Barthan saying, "A man who participated in Hunayn with the idolators narrated to me, `When we met the Messenger of Allah and his Companions on the day of Hunayn, they did not remain in battle more than the time it takes to milk a sheep! When we defeated them, we pursued them until we ended at the rider of the white mule, the Messenger of Allah. At that time, men with white handsome faces intercepted us and said: `Disgraced be the faces! Go back. So we ran away, but they followed us. That was the end for us.''' Allah said,
(Then after that Allah will accept the repentance of whom He wills. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.) Allah forgave the rest of Huwazin when they embraced Islam and went to the Prophet, before he arrived at Makkah in the Ji`ranah area. This occurred twenty days after the battle of Hunayn. The Messenger gave them the choice between taking those who were prisoner or the war spoils they lost, and they chose the former. The Prophet released six thousand prisoners to them, but divided the war spoils between the victors, such as some of the Tulaqa', so that their hearts would be inclined towards Islam. He gave each of them a hundred camels, and the same to Malik bin `Awf An-Nasri whom he appointed chief of his people (Huwazin) as he was before. Malik bin `Awf said a poem in which he praised the Messenger of Allah for his generosity and extraordinary courage.
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
This has been mentioned to allay the fears of those who were afraid of the consequences of the Declaration of the abrogation of the treaties, as if to say, "Why are you afraid of war? That Allah, Who helped you in far worse and dangerous situations on so many occasions before this, is there even now to help you. Had this Mission depended on your might, it could not have come out victorious in the hard trials at Makkah nor in the Battle of Badr when the odds were heavily against you. This is because Allah's Power has been helping you, and past experiences have shown you how effective that Power is. Rest assured that the same Power will help you to succeed in your Mission."
The Battle of Hunain had taken place in the valley of Hunain between Ta'if and Makkah in the month of Shawwal A.H. 8, a year or so before the Revelation of this discourse. This was the first battle in which the Muslim army consisted of 12,000 fighters and this far outnumbered the army of the disbelievers. But in spite of this the archers of the Hawazin clan wrought havoc among the Muslim army and put them to rout. The Holy Prophet and a few of his bravest Companions, however, firmly stood their ground and rallied the routed army, and ultimately won the victory. It was because of their perseverance that the army reassembled and the Muslims ultimately won the victory; otherwise they would have lost much more at Hunain than they had gained by the conquest of Makkah.
".....Allah enables.....to repent" refers to the large number of the disbelievers who embraced Islam after the victory at Hunain as a result of the kind and generous treatment they received from the Holy Prophet, in spite of their former antagonism. This was mentioned to allay the anxiety of those new Muslims who feared that, as a result of the Declaration, all of their mushrik relatives would be put to death. (E.N. 16). They have been told to expect, in the light of the previous experiences, that the mushriks would be obliged to accept Islam, when they realize that neither any hope of the revival of the order of 'ignorance' was Ieft nor of any props to support it.