People of the Ditch (Ukhdud).
meaning, the companions of the
The plural of Ukhdud is
Akhadid, which means ditches in the ground.
This is information about a
group of people who were among the disbelievers. They went after those among
them who believed in Allah and they attempted to force them to give up their
religion. However, the believers refused to recant, so they dug a ditch for them
in the ground. Then they lit a fire in it and prepared some fuel for it in order
to keep it ablaze. Then they tried to convince them (the believers) to apostate
from their religion (again), but they still refused them. So they threw them
into the fire.
And they had no fault except
that they believed in Allah, the Almighty, Worthy of all praise!
meaning, they did not commit
any sin according to these people, except for their faith in Allah the Almighty,
Who does not treat unjustly those who desire to be with Him. He is the Most
Mighty and Most Praiseworthy in all of His statements, actions, legislation, and
decrees. He decreed what happened to these servants of His at the hands of the
disbelievers - and He is the Most Mighty, the Most Praiseworthy - even though
the reason for this decree is unknown to many people.
To Whom belongs the dominion
of the heavens and the earth!
Among His perfect Attributes
is that He is the Owner of all of the heavens, the earth, whatever is in them,
and whatever is between them.
... وَاللَّهُ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ﴿٩﴾
And Allah is Witness over
meaning, nothing is concealed
from Him in all of the heavens and the earth, nor is anything hidden from Him.
The Story of the Sorcerer, the Monk, the Boy and Those Who were
forced to enter the Ditch
Imam Ahmad recorded from
Suhayb that the Messenger of Allah said,
Among the people who came
before you, there was a king who had a sorcerer, and when that sorcerer became
old, he said to the king,
"I have become old and my time
is nearly over, so please send me a boy whom I can teach magic.''
So, he sent him a boy and the
sorcerer taught him magic.
Whenever the boy went to the
sorcerer, he sat with a monk who was on the way and listened to his speech and
So, when he went to the
sorcerer, he passed by the monk and sat there with him; and on visiting the
sorcerer the latter would thrash him. So, the boy complained about this to the
monk. The monk said to him,
"Whenever you are afraid of
the sorcerer, say to him:
`My people kept me busy.'
And whenever you are afraid of
your people, say to them:
`The sorcerer kept me busy.'''
So the boy carried on like
that (for some time). Then a huge terrible creature appeared on the road and the
people were unable to pass by. The boy said,
"Today I shall know whether
the sorcerer is better or the monk is better.''
So, he took a stone and said,
"O Allah! If the deeds and
actions of the monk are liked by You better than those of the sorcerer, then
kill this creature so that the people can cross (the road).''
Then he struck it with a stone
killing it and the people passed by on the road.
The boy came to the monk and
informed him about it. The monk said to him,
"O my son!
Today you are better than I,
and you have achieved what I see! You will be put to trial. And in case you are
put to trial, do not inform (them) about me.''
The boy used to treat the
people suffering from congenital blindness, leprosy, and other diseases. There
was a courtier of the king who had become blind and he heard about the boy. He
came and brought a number of gifts for the boy and said,
"All these gifts are for you
on the condition that you cure me.''
The boy said,
"I do not cure anybody; it is
only Allah who cures people.
So, if you believe in Allah
and supplicate to Him, He will cure you.''
So, he believed in and
supplicated to Allah, and Allah cured him.
Later, the courtier came to
the king and sat at the place where he used to sit before. The king said, "Who
gave you back your sight''
The courtier replied, "My
The king then said, "I did''
The courtier said, "No, my
Lord and your Lord - Allah''
The king said, "Do you have
another Lord beside me''
The courtier said, "Yes, your
Lord and my Lord is Allah.''
The king tortured him and did
not stop until he told him about the boy.
So, the boy was brought to the
king and he said to him,
Has your magic reached to the
extent that you cure congenital blindness, leprosy and other diseases''
He said, "I do not cure
anyone. Only Allah can cure.''
The king said, "Me''
The boy replied, "No.''
The king asked, "Do you have
another Lord besides me''
The boy answered, "My Lord and
your Lord is Allah.''
So, he tortured him also until
he told about the monk.
Then the monk was brought to
him and the king said to him,
"Abandon your religion.''
The monk refused and so the
king ordered a saw to be brought which was placed in the middle of his head and
he fell, sawn in two.
Then it was said to the man
who used to be blind, "Abandon your religion.''
He refused to do so, and so a
saw was brought and placed in the middle of his head and he fell, sawn in two.
Then the boy was brought and
it was said to him, "Abandon your religion.''
He refused and so the king
sent him to the top of such and such mountain with some people. He told the
"Ascend up the mountain with
him till you reach its peak, then see if he abandons his religion; otherwise
throw him from the top.''
They took him and when they
ascended to the top, he said,
"O Allah! Save me from them by
any means that You wish.''
So, the mountain shook and
they all fell down and the boy came back walking to the king.
The king said, "What did your
companions (the people I sent with you) do''
The boy said, "Allah saved me
So, the king ordered some
people to take the boy on a boat to the middle of the sea, saying, "If he
renounces his religion (well and good), but if he refuses, drown him.''
So, they took him out to sea
and he said,
"O Allah! Save me from them by
any means that you wish.''
So they were all drowned in
Then the boy returned to the
king and the king said, "What did your companions do''
The boy replied, "Allah,
saved me from them.''
Then he said to the king, "You will not be able to kill me
until you do as I order you. And if you do as I order you, you will be able to
The king asked, "And what is that''
The boy said,
"Gather the people in one
elevated place and tie me to the trunk of a tree; then take an arrow from my
quiver and say:
`In the Name of Allah, the
Lord of the boy.'
If you do this, you will be
able to kill me.''
So he did this, and placing an arrow in the bow,
he shot it, saying,
"In the Name of Allah, the Lord of the boy.''
The arrow hit
the boy in the temple, and the boy placed his hand over the arrow wound and
died. The people proclaimed,
"We believe in the Lord of the boy!''
Then it was
said to the king,
"Do you see what has happened That which you feared has taken
place. By Allah, all the people have believed (in the Lord of the boy).''
ordered that ditches be dug at the entrances to the roads and it was done, and
fires were kindled in them. Then the king said,
"Whoever abandons his religion,
let him go, and whoever does not, throw him into the fire.''
struggling and scuffling in the fire, until a woman and her baby whom she was
breast feeding came and it was as if she was being somewhat hesitant of falling
into the fire, so her baby said to her,
"Be patient mother! For verily, you are
following the truth!''
Muslim also recorded this Hadith at the end of the
Muhammad bin Ishaq bin Yasar related this story in his book of Sirah in
another way that has some differences from that which has just been related.
Then, after Ibn Ishaq explained that the people of Najran began following the
religion of the boy after his murder, which was the religion of Christianity, he
"Then (the king) Dhu Nuwas came to them with his army and called them to
Judaism. He gave them a choice to either accept Judaism or be killed, so they
chose death. Thus, he had a ditch dug and burned (some of them) in the fire (in
the ditch), while others he killed with the sword. He made an example of them
(by slaughtering them) until he had killed almost twenty thousand of them.
was about Dhu Nuwas and his army that Allah revealed to His Messenger :
Cursed were the People of the
Ditch. Of fire fed with fuel. When they sat by it. And they witnessed what they
were doing against the believers. And they had no fault except that they
believed in Allah, the Almighty, Worthy of all praise! To Whom belongs the
dominion of the heavens and the earth! And Allah is Witness over everything.
This is what Muhammad bin Ishaq said in his book of Sirah --
one who killed the People of the Ditch was Dhu Nuwas, and his name was Zur`ah.
In the time of his kingdom he was called Yusuf. He was the son of Tuban As`ad
Abi Karib, who was the Tubba` who invaded Al-Madinah and put the covering over
the Ka`bah. He kept two rabbis with him from the Jews of Al-Madinah.
some of the people of Yemen accepted Judaism at the hands of these two rabbis,
as Ibn Ishaq mentions at length.
So Dhu Nuwas killed twenty thousand people in
one morning in the Ditch. Only one man among them escaped. He was known as Daws
He escaped on a horse and they set out after him, but they were
unable to catch him. He went to Caesar, the emperor of Ash-Sham. So, Caesar
wrote to An-Najashi, the King of Abyssinia. So, he sent with him an army of
Abyssinian Christians, who were lead by Aryat and Abrahah. They rescued Yemen
from the hands of the Jews. Dhu Nuwas tried to flee but eventually fell into the
sea and drowned.
After this, the kingdom of Abyssinia remained under Christian
power for seventy years.
Then the power was divested from the Christians by Sayf
bin Dhi Yazin Al-Himyari when Kisra, the king of Persia sent an army there (to
Yemen). He (the king) sent with him (Sayf Al-Himyari) those people who were in
the prisons, and they were close to seven hundred in number. So, he (Sayf Al-Himyari)
conquered Yemen with them and returned the kingdom back to the people of Himyar
(Yemenis). We will mention a portion of this -- if Allah wills -- when we
discuss the Tafsir of the
Surah:أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ فَعَلَ رَبُّكَ
بِأَصْحَـبِ الْفِيلِ Have you not seen how
your Lord dealt with the Owners of the Elephant)? (105:1)
Verily, the punishment of your
Lord is severe and painful.
meaning, indeed His punishment
and His vengeance upon His enemies, who have rejected His Messengers, and
opposed His command, is severe, great and strong. For verily, He is the Owner of
power, Most Strong. He is the One that whatever He wants, then it will be
however He wants it to be, in the matter of a blinking of an eye, or even
Has the story reached you of
the hosts, Of Fir`awn and Thamud?
meaning, has the news reached
you of what Allah caused to befall them of torment, and that He sent down upon
them the punishment that no one was able to ward off from them
This is the affirmation of His
statement, إِنَّ بَطْشَ
رَبِّكَ لَشَدِيدٌٌ (Verily, the punishment
of your Lord is severe and painful). meaning, when He seizes the wrongdoer, He
seizes him with a severe and painful punishment. It is the seizing punishment of
One Most Mighty, and Most Powerful.