Sending of Jahni towards Lahyan

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Time and Place of this Expedition

Ibn Ishaq has mentioned this expedition however has not recorded a date for when it transpired. [1] Waqidi also narrates the history of this event with some irregularity. In the introduction of his book, he mentions that this war took place around the year 3 A.H. [2] However, elsewhere in the same book, he says that this battle is related to the year 6 A.H. [3] The location of where this event took place is the area known as Arnah which was near Mecca. [4]

Background of this expedition

Bani Lahyan’s act of war against the Prophet

Waqidi states,

“The tribe of Bani Lahyan which was from the clan of Hudhayl had gathered in the area of Arnah (close to Arafah in Mecca). News reached Prophet Muhammad that their commander, Sufyan ibn Khalid, had gathered people together to launch a war against the Prophet of Allah and that a large number of people from various places had joined him.” [4]

The Prophet’s order to kill the commander of Bani Lahyan

Waqidi narrates from Abd Allah ibn Unays al-Jahni that the Prophet of Allah summoned him at the beginning of Muharram in the year 4 A.H. and informed him of what had happened. He ordered him to go alone and kill Sufyan. After this order of the Prophet, Abd Allah ibn Unays says,

“I was not frightened of anyone, but I did not know Sufyan so the Prophet of Allah said, “When you see him, be afraid of him and shiver, and remember Satan!”

I said,

“O’ Prophet of Allah, until now I have never been frightened of, nor have I ever shook because of anything!”

He replied,

“Yes, it is so, but it is a sign that if you see him, shake a little.”

I requested the Prophet to permit me to say whatever I like and he replied saying,

“Whatever you want, say it and install yourself amongst the Khazah.”” [4]

Account of the Expedition

Abd Allah ibn Unays makes contact with Sufyan ibn Khalid

Abd Allah ibn Unays says, On Monday, 5th of Muharram, I went barefoot until I reached Qadid. There, I met a large number of the Khazah and I put myself in their midst. As I was barefoot, they wanted me to ride with them on their mounts, but I refused and continued barefoot towards Arnah, and I would ask every one that I saw about Sufyan ibn Khalid so that I may make contact with him. I reached Arnah in the afternoon and saw him there. He was moving with the help of his staff and a number of the Habash and his followers were with him. When I saw him, just as the Prophet said, his presence overwhelmed me and I said to myself,

“Allah and His messenger have spoken the truth.”

While walking, I recited my Asr prayer through employing gestures and when I got close to him, he asked me,

“Who are you?”

I replied,

“I am one of the people of the Khazah. When I heard that you were gathering people for opposition against Muhammad, I came to join you.”

He said,

“That is correct. I am seeking to gather people for opposition against Muhammad.”

While I was walking with him I said,

“Truly Muhammad has created a tumult with his new religion. He is the reason for the differences and separation of fathers from their sons and he has taken the peace and tranquility from everyone!” He said, “Muhammad has not faced someone like me until now!”

Then I recited a poem for him and said some things to him that would make him happy. [4]

The killing of Sufyan at the hands of Abd Allah ibn Unays

Abd Allah ibn Unays says, I was with Sufyan until we reached his tent. Once there, the people around him scattered and went to their own tents and he said to his daughter,

“Bring some milk.”

When she brought the milk, he offered it to me and I drank some of it. I then passed the dish to him and he drank it. Then he said, “Sit.” I sat near to him until everything quietened down and the people went to sleep. He also lay down and it was at that point, while he slept, that I killed him. [4]

The Account after the killing

The hiding of Ibn Unays in a cave

Abd Allah ibn Unays says, After I killed Sufyan, I took his head and went barefoot towards the mountains. I entered a cave so as to hide there and while in the cave, I saw that a spider had begun to weave a web at the entrance of the cave. My only problem now was battling the intense heat and trying to bear the severe thirst that was bothering me. When his women found his life-less body, they began to cry and lament, and through this, others became aware of happened. They mounted their horses and set off in different directions in search of me. A man appeared in front of the cave with his shoes in hand, carrying a large water-skin. After looking into the cave and not finding anyone, he said to his companions, ‘There is no one in the cave.’ And so they returned, but this man sat in front of the cave to urinate. As he was busy, I slowly crept forward, drank some water from his water-skin and stole his shoes. I escaped and so as to remain safe from them, I would hide during the days, and travel during the nights. I arrived in Medina on Saturday, with seven days left of the month of Muharram. [5]

Sufyan’s head is brought to the Prophet and his reaction

Ibn Unays says,

“After I reached Medina, I saw the Prophet of Allah in the masjid and when he looked at me, he said, ‘May you have a bright face!’ I said, ‘May Allah make your face bright, O Prophet of Allah!’ I then brought the head of Sufyan in front of the Prophet and told him what had happened. The Prophet gave me his staff as a gift and said, ‘Enter Paradise with this staff, as the staff owners in Paradise are very few.’”

Ibn Unays instructed his family to place this staff in his shroud when he died. [6]


  1. Sirah Ibn Hisham Volume 4 Page 267
  2. Muhammad bin Umar al-Waqidi, al-Maghazi Volume 1 Page 3
  3. Muhammad bin Umar al-Waqidi, al-Maghazi Volume 1 Page 531
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Muhammad bin Umar al-Waqidi, al-Maghazi Volume 2 Pages 532-533
  5. Ibid., Sirah Ibn Hisham Volume 42 Page 267-268
  6. Muhammad bin Umar al-Waqidi, al-Maghazi Volume 2 Page 533