Jonathan AC Brown, in his book "Misquoting Muhammad" mentions (p 97) that the Prophet distributed much of the spoils of war to Meccan elite in order to win their trust. He doesn't mention a source for this. Can someone provide me with an online (or otherwise) source?
Yes the prophet indeed gave the (newly converted) Meccan's most if not all the war spoil of the battle of Hunayn, but not to gain their support but to bring their hearts together for Islam based on (9:60):
Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [zakah] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveler - an obligation [imposed] by Allah . And Allah is Knowing and Wise.
You may read this in any book on seerah (the biography of the prophet) such as seerat ibn Hisahm or ar-Raheeq al-Makhtoom (For details read pages 411 ff.) etc..
- abu Sufyan ibn Harb was given hundred camels and forty (gold) onces, his sons Yazeed and Mu'awiyah the same.
- Hakim bin Hizam was given hundred camels first then hundred more.
- Safwab vin Omauyah was given three hundred camels.
- Al-Harith bin Harith bin Kilda was given hundred camels and other chiefs of Quraish and other clans were given hundred or fifty camels.
Note that this battle happened shortly after fath Mecca, so it was the first battle for the new converts from Mecca and a real test for their faith, some have been shown off as kufar while they were pretending to believe in Allah and his Messenger and being Muslims at fath Mecca!
Here's a short version of the hadith quoting the reaction of the ansar on this apparent injustice and the answer of the Propeht():
The Prophet (ﷺ) gathered some people of Ansar and said, "The People of Quraish are still close to their Pre-lslamic period of ignorance and have suffered a lot, and I want to help them and attract their hearts (by giving them the war booty). Won't you be pleased that the people take the worldly things) and you take Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) with you to your homes?" They said, "Yes, (i.e. we are pleased with this distribution)." The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "'If the people took their way through a valley and the Ansar took their way through a mountain pass, then I would take the Ansar's valley or the Ansar's mountain pass."
(sahih al-Bukhari, for longer versions see also in sahih al-Bukhari, sahih Muslim 1 and 2 and other versions in other hadith collections, such as Jami' at-Tirmidhi)