Hudhayfah Ibn Al-Yaman

A noticeable policy of the Prophet was to bring out and use the special qualities and strengths of each individual companion of his. In deploying his companions, he was careful to choose the right man for the right task. This he did to excellent advantage in the case of Hudhayfah.

One of the gravest problems the Muslims of Madinah had to face was the existence in their midst of hypocrites (munafiqun) particularly from among the Jews and their allies. Although many of them had declared their acceptance of Islam, the change was only superficial and they continued to plot and intrigue against the Prophet and the Muslims.

Because of Hudhayfah’s ability to keep a secret, the Prophet, peace be on him, confided in him the names of the munafiqin. It was a weighty secret which the Prophet did not disclose to any other off his companions. He gave Hudhayfah the task of watching t he movements of the munafiqin, following their activities, and shielding the Muslims from the sinister danger they represented. It was a tremendous responsibility. The munafiqin, because they acted in secrecy and because they knew all the developments and plans of the Muslims from within presented a greater threat to the community than the outright hostility of the kuffar.

From this time onwards. Hudhayfah was called “The Keeper of the Secret of the Messenger of Allah”. Throughout his life he remained faithful to his pledge not to disclose the names of the hypocrites. After the death of the Prophet, the Khalifah often came- to him to seek his advice concerning their movements and activities but he remained tight-lipped and cautious.

Umar was only able to find out indirectly who the hypocrites were. If anyone among the Muslims died, Umar would ask:

“Has Hudhayfah attended his funeral prayer?”

If the reply was ‘yes’, he would perform the prayer. If the reply was ‘no’, he became doubtful about the person and refrained from performing the funeral prayer for him.

Once Umar asked Hudhayfah: “Is any of my governors a munafiq?” “One,” replied Hudhayfah. “Point him out to me,” ordered Umar. “That I shall not do,” insisted Hudhayfah who later said that shortly after their conversation Umar dismissed the person just as if he had been guided to him.

Hudhayfah’s special qualities were made use of by the Prophet, peace be on him, at various times. One of the most testing of such occasions, which required the use of Hudhayfah’s intelligence and his presence of mind, was during the Battle of the Ditch. T he Muslims on that occasion were surrounded by enemies. The seige they had been placed under had dragged on. The Muslims were undergoing severe hardship and difficulties. They had expended practically all their effort and were utterly exhausted. So intens e was the strain that some even began to despair.

The Quraysh and their allies, meanwhile, were not much better off. Their strength and determination had been sapped. A violent wind overturned their tents, extinguished their fires and pelted their faces and eyes with gusts of sand and dust.

In such decisive moments in the history of warfare, the side that loses is the one that despairs first and the one that wins is the one that holds out longer. The role of army intelligence in such situations often proves to be a crucial factor in determin ing the outcome of the battle.

At this stage of the confrontation the Prophet, peace be on him, felt he could use the special talents and experience of Hudhayfah ibn al-Yaman. He decided to send Hudhayfah into the midst of the enemy’s positions under cover of darkness to bring him the latest information on their situation and morale before he decided on his next move.

Let us now leave Hudhayfah to relate what happened on this mission fraught with danger and even death.

“That night, we were all seated in rows. Abu Sufyan and his men – the mushrikun of Makkah – were in front of us. The Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayzah were at our rear and we were afraid of them because of our wives and children. The night was stygian dark. N ever before was there a darker night nor a wind so strong. So dark was the night that no one could see his fingers and the blast of the wind was like the peel of thunder.

“The hypocrites began to ask the Prophet for permission to leave, saying, ‘Our houses are exposed to the enemy.’ Anyone who asked the Prophet’s permission to leave was allowed to go. Many thus sneaked away until we were left with about three hundred men. “The Prophet then began a round of inspection passing us one by one until he reached me. I had nothing to protect me from the cold except a blanket belonging to my wife which scarcely reached my knees. He came nearer to

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