Expedition of Abdullah Ibn Unais

The Expedition of Abdullah ibn Unais, also known as the Assassination of Khaled bin Sufyan was the first attack against the Banu Lahyan, which took place in the month of Muharram in the year A.H. 3. It was reported that Khaled bin Sufyan Al-Hathali (also known as Hudayr, the chief of the Banu Lahyan tribe), considered an attack on Madinah and that he was inciting the people on Nakhla or Uranah to fight Muslims and to kill Muhammad. So Muhammad sent Abdullah ibn Unais to assassinate him. After cutting off Khaled bin Sufyan's head at night,[3] Unais brought it back to Muhammad.[1][2][4][5]

Expedition of Abdullah ibn Unais (Sirya of Muhammad)
DateMuharram, A.H. 3 (624 CE)
Result Abdullah ibn Unais beheads the Banu Lahyan chief, and brings his head back to Muhammad[1][2]
Muslims Banu Lahyan
Commanders and leaders
Abdullah ibn Unais Khaled bin Sufyan Al-Hathali
Unknown [1][2] Unknown
Casualties and losses
0 Chief of Banu Lahyan Killed

Attack on the chief of Banu Lahyan

Abdullah ibn Unais found Hudayr in the company of his wife, when asked about his identity. Unais replied:

"I am an Arab tribesman who has heard of you and of the army you are raising to fight Muhammad and I have come to you to join your ranks."[2]

Khaled bin Sufyan trusted him. Then Unais asked to talk to him privately, once, while conversing, Abdullah ibn Unais walked a short distance with ibn Sufyan, and when an opportunity came he struck him with his sword and killed him. After killing ibn Sufyan, he cut off his head and brought that to Muhammad.[3] Muhammad gave him his staff as a reward and said:

This will function as a sign of recognition for you and me, on the day of resurrection (Musnad Ahmad 3:496)[1][6][7]

This assassination had the effect of silencing the Banu Lahyan, for some time. But another branch of Banu Lihyan wanted to take revenge for the killing of their leader, Khaled bin Sufyan and were thinking of means to do so.[2]

Islamic sources

Biographical literature

This event is mentioned in Ibn Hisham's biography of Muhammad. The Muslim jurist Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya also mentions the event in his biography of Muhammad, Zad al-Ma'ad.[8] Modern secondary sources which mention this, include the award winning book,[9] Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum (The Sealed Nectar).[1]

The Muslim jurist Tabari, also mentions the event in his biography of Muhammad:

"The Messenger of God called me and said, ‘It has reached me that Khalid b. Sufyan b. Nubayh al-Hudhali is gathering a force to attack me. He is either in Nakhlah or ‘Uranah, so go to him and kill him.’" Al-Tabari vol.9 p.121[10]

Hadith literature

The incident is also mentioned in the Sunni Hadith collection Sunan Abu Dawud:

The Apostle of Allah (pbuh) send me to Khalid b. Sufyan al-Hudhali. This was towards 'Uranah and 'Arafat. He (the Prophet) said: Go and kill him. I saw him when the time of the afternoon prayer had come. I said: I am afraid if a fight takes place between me and him (Khalid b. Sufyan), that might delay the prayer. I proceeded walking towards him while I was praying making a sign. When I reached near him, he said to me: Who are you? I replied: A man from the Arabs; it came to me that you were gathering (an army) for this man (i.e. the Prophet). Hence I came to you in connection with this matter. He said: I am (engaged) in this (work). I then walked along with him for a while.; when it became convenient for me, I dominated him with my sword until he became cold (dead).
[Abu Dawud, book 2 no.1244][11]

The event is also mentioned in Musnad Ahmad 3:496.[7]

See also


  1. Mubarakpuri, The sealed nectar: biography of the Noble Prophet, p. 349.
  2. Haykal, Husayn (1976), The Life of Muhammad, Islamic Book Trust, p. 294, ISBN 978-983-9154-17-7.
  3. Gabriel, Richard A. (2008), Muhammad, Islam's first great general, University of Oklahoma Press, p. 126, ISBN 978-0-8061-3860-2
  4. Za'd Al-Ma'ad p. 2/109; Ibn Hisham p. 2/619.
  5. Hawarey, Dr. Mosab (2010). The Journey of Prophecy; Days of Peace and War (Arabic). Islamic Book Trust. ISBN 9789957051648.Note: Book contains a list of battles of Muhammad in Arabic, English translation available here
  6. Ibn Hisham 2/619.
  7. As-Sunnah, says Ahmad 3:496, al-Waqidi 2:533, archive
  8. Mubarakpuri, The sealed nectar: biography of the Noble Prophet, p. 349. (footnote 1).
  9. Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum - The Sealed Nectar Archived 2011-07-08 at the Wayback Machine. Dar-us-Salam Publications.
  10. Ismāʻīl ibn ʻUmar Ibn Kathīr (2000), The life of the prophet Muḥammad: a translation of al-Sīra al-Nabawiyya, Garnet, p. 190, ISBN 978-1-85964-009-8CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  11. Abu Dawud 2:1244, hadithcollection.com (archive)