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Conflict of Banu Quraizah…Cutting off the heads of the leaders of treason in Medinah

Conflict  of Banu Quraizah…Cutting off the heads of the leaders of treason in Medinah

The reason for the conflict being called the conflict of Quraizah

The conflict was called after the group of Jews in Medinah from Al-Aws tribe who broke their treaty with the Muslims by making an alliance with the disbelieving confederates.

When and where was the conflict of Banu Quraizah?

The conflict of Banu Quraizah happened in 5 A.H., in Medinah, at the fort of Banu Quraizah.

Who was the leader of the conflict of Banu Quraizah, and who was the flag-bearer?

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) was the leader of the conflict, leading 3000 Companions. The flag-bearer was Ali ibn Abu Talib (may Allah honor his face).

As for the Jews, their leader was Huyai ibn Akhtab from Banu An-Nadir and Kaab ibn Asad, chief of Banu Quraizah.

Reasons for the conflict of Banu Quraizah:

It was the result of the treachery of the Jews of Banu Quraizah against the Muslims after having signed a treaty with them. They (the Jews) broke their treaty and signed a new treaty with the leaders of Quraish and the tribes participating in the Battle of the Confederates, along with the Jews of Banu An-Nadir who  Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) had expelled from Medina to Khayber. Banu An-Nadir had instigated their Jewish brothers to take vengeance against the Muslims. Allah (Glorified be He) sent an order, through Angel Jibril, to Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) for him to fight Banu Quraizah.  Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) consequently obeyed this order as soon as he heard it. 

Events of the conflict of Banu Quraizah:

On the day that Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) returned to Medina from the Battle of the Confederates, Jibrael (peace be upon him) came to him at noon, while he was still bathing (after the battle) in the house of Umm Salamah. According to Aisha’s report, Jibrael (peace be upon him) said, “Have you laid down your arms? The angels have not laid down their weapons, and I have just returned now from pursuing the people to tell you to prepare to fight them. Rise, and those with you, to go to Banu Quraizah, and I will go before you to shake their forts and throw fear into their hearts.” Jibrael then left with a procession of angels.

As a result, Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) ordered the Mu’athin (announcer) to proclaim to the people, “Whoever hears this and is obedient should not pray the Asr prayer until he reaches Banu Quraizah.” Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) left Ibn Um Maktoub to take care of affairs in Medinah, gave the flag to Ali ibn Abu Talib, and sent an advance party under Ali to Banu Quraizah. When Ali became near Banu Quraizah’s fort, he heard them abusing Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him).

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) set out with Al-Muhajarin (Immigrants) and Al-Ansar (Helpers in Medinah) heading towards the Jews until he stopped at Ana well, one of the wells of Banu Quraizah. The Muslims were quick in following Prophet Muhammed’s orders, getting up quickly and moving towards Banu Quraizah. The Asr prayer became due en route to Banu Quraizah. The Companions differed about when to pray Asr. The ones who wanted to wait to pray Asr after arriving at Banu Quraizah prayed Asr after the Isha prayer. The other group prayed Asr en route, understanding the order of Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) to mean to rush quickly to Banu Quraizah, not to pray the Asr prayer out of time. Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) did not object to either of the two groups; he said that both groups acted properly.

The Muslim army moved towards Banu Quraizah. A total of 3000 men and 30 horsemen reached the fort of Banu Quraizah, where they imposed a siege against the Jewish tribe. 

The three choices:

When the siege became difficult for the Jews, their leader, Kaab ibn Asad, gave his people three options. The first choice was for them to embrace Islam and join Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) in Medinah, resulting in their lives, wealth, children and wives being safe. He remarked that this was a viable choice as it was clear to them that Muhammed was a prophet from Allah who is mentioned in their books. The second choice was for them to kill their children and women with their own hands and then keep attacking Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) with their swords until they are either victorious or are killed in the process. The third option was for them to take Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) and the Companions by surprise on Saturday, as it was known that they did not usually fight anyone on Saturdays. The Jews refused to choose one of these three options. At that point, their leader, Kaab ibn Asad, cried out in annoyance, “None of you have ever been decisive in making decisions, since the day you were born.”

After they refused these three options, there was no choice for Banu Quraizah but to submit to the ruling of Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him). However, they wanted to contact some of their (old) Muslims allies. Therefore, they sent Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) a message to send them Abu Lubabah in order to consult him. Abu Lubabah used to be one of their allies, and his money and son were still in their fort. When Banu Quraizah saw Abu Lubabah, the men stood up to seek help from him, with the women and the children crying desperately in front of him. He dispersed them from around him. When he was asked if he thought it was desirable for them to submit to the ruling of Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him), he replied in the affirmative. He also pointed towards his throat, indicating that a slaughter was awaiting them. However, he then realized he had betrayed Allah and Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him).  He left quickly, feeling ashamed, but did not return to Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him). He went to Prophet Muhammed’s mosque in Medinah?? instead, bound himself to the mast of the mosque, and swore not to let anyone but Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) himself release him. He also added that he would never enter the land of Banu Quraizah?? again.

After a while, Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) started wondering where Abu Lubabah was. When Prophet Muhammed learnt what Abu Lubabah had done, he said,

It is said that the following ayah (verse) was revealed about Abu Lubabah: {There are some others who have confessed their sins: they have a mixed record of deeds, good and bad. It may be that Allah will turn to them again with kindness, for He is Forbearing and Compassionate} [Surah At-Tawbah: 102].

In the Prophet’s biography, it is reported that when Ali ibn Abu Talib (may Allah honour his face) approached the fort with a group of Al-Muhajareen and Al-Ansar, planting the flag at the edge of the fort, he heard Banu Quraizah insult Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) and his wives. The Muslims replied by only saying, “The sword is between us and you.” When Ali (may Allah honour him) saw Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) approaching, he ordered Abu Qatadah Al-Ansari to hold the flag, and he returned to Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him). He then advised Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) not to go near those evil people (Banu Quraizah, as they had abused Prophet Muhammed).

However, Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) approached their fort and said to them, They swore they had not said anything derogratory about him. They said, “Oh Abu Al-Qassim, everybody knows you do not respond crudely to bad remarks[1].” Another report mentions them saying, “You have never acted indecently.” It has been reported that Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) sent Usayd ibn Hadir (may Allah be pleased with him) to them, who told them, “Oh enemies of Allah, you will not leave your fort until you die of starvation. You are like a fox in a hole.” They became fearful, and so replied, “Oh ibn Hadir, we are your loyal followers,” to which Usayd ibn Hadir answered, “There is no covenant between me and you.”

One of the Jews called Amr ibn Su’da told Banu Quraizah, “You have broken your treaty with Muhammed, and will not take part in your treachery. If you decide not to embrace Islam, then at least remain in your faith of Judaism and pay the Jiziyah (tax from non-Muslims). But, by Allah, I do not know if he will accept this or not from you.” They replied, “We will not agree for the Arabs to take any tax from us. Fighting is better than that.” Amr ibn S’uda said, “I am innocent of you and what you intend to do,” and he left them that evening. When the Muslims later saw him, Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) remarked that Allah had saved him for his faithfulness; he had reminded his people of the fate of Banu An-Nadir and Banu Qainuqa, and kept warning them of war, captivity and evacuation. After that, he went to Kaab ibn Asad and told him, “By the Torah, which was revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai, it (Islam) is glory and honour in this world.”

Ibn Mu’ath rules by Allah’s  command

Despite what Abu Lubabah indicated to Banu Quraizah, they decided to submit to the ruling of Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him). This is although the Jews were able to withstand the siege for a long time. They had food, water, wells and were strongly fortified. On the other hand, the Muslims were suffering from severe cold, extreme hunger, and were camping in the open bare land. They (the Muslims) were also very tired, due to all the continuous military activity they had undergone since even before the start of the Battle of the Confederates. However, the conflict with Banu Quraizah caused the Jews’ morale to collapse. This collapse reached its utmost when Ali ibn Abu Talib and Az-Zubayr ibn Al-Awwam (may Allah be pleased with them) approached them, with Ali announcing (to the Muslim), “Oh battalion of faith, (I will not stop until) I will either conquer their fort or taste what Hamzah tasted (i.e. martyrdom).”  

At that time, Banu Qainuqa agreed to comply with the ruling of Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him). Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) ordered that the men be imprisoned, so Muhammed ibn Maslamah Al-Ansari supervised procedures to place handcuffs on them. The women and childen were separated from the men. Some of the tribe of Al-Aws went to Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) to tell him, “Oh Messenger of Allah, you know the (kind) treatment you meted out with Banu Qainuqa, who are the allies of our brothers of Al-Khazraj. Banu Quraizah are our allies, so deal with them in a good way (too).” Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) replied, They answered in the affirmative. Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) then said, The group from Al-Aws replied that they were pleased with this choice.

Therefore, Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) sent for Saad ibn Mu’ath (may Allah be pleased with him), who was in Medinah. He was not able to leave with Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) to Banu Quraizah due to the wound he received in a main artery in his arm in the Battle of the Confederates. He rode a donkey which the Companions had specially prepared for him, and went towards Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him). When he reached Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him), the group of Al-Aws said to him, “Oh Saad, Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) has decided you pass a verdict about them (Banu Quraizah), and you are loyal to your allegiances, so deal with them well.” However, Saad did not reply. They kept repeating this request until Saad eventually said, “Now is the time for Saad to not fear the blame of others in following Allah’s orders.” When they heard Saad say this, some of them returned to Medinah to mourn the loss of their brothers (as they realized that he would not let them live). 

Next, Saad ibn Mu’ath (may Allah be pleased with him) returned to Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him). At that time, when the people around Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) saw him, Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) said to them, Therefore, the people stood up as a sign of respect to Saad ibn Al-Mu’ath (may Allah be pleased with him). Saad then approached Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him), and Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) said to him, Saad replied by saying, “I have decided that the fighters should be killed, their children imprisoned, and their wealth distributed (among the Muslim community).” Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) stated, Saad ibn Mu’ath, when he made the judgment about Banu Quraizah, did not consider his earlier allegiance with them before he embraced Islam, but took into consideration their not keeping their treaty with Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) and the effect this had on the course of the battle.

The Muslims found 1500 swords, 2000 spears, 300 suits of armour and 500 shields in Banu Quraizah’s fort, which became booty for the Muslims after they captured the fort.

A humilitating end:

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) gave orders to imprison Banu Quraizah in the house of Bint Al-Harith from Banu An-Najjar. Ditches were dug in the market of Medina, and then Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) ordered the prisoners to be bought in groups, one group at a time, to the ditches to kill them there. There were a total of 400 to 700 prisoners.

Those who were imprisoned said to their leader, Kaab ibn Asad, “What do you think he (Prophet Muhammed) will do to us?” He explained, “Will you always be stupid! Do you not realize that the summoner will never stop, and that those who leave (the prison), do not return? By Allah, they are being brought to their death.”

One of the prisoners who was killed was the main criminal of Banu An-Nadir, Huyai ibn Akhtab, the father of Safiyah, one of the Mothers of the Believers (may Allah be pleased with her). Huyai had taken refuge in Banu Quraizah’s fort when Quraish and Ghatafan left Madinah after losing the Battle of the Confederates, leaving their allies Banu An-Nadir behind in Medinah. This was according to the agreement he had taken with Kaab ibn Asad when he persuaded Kaab to be treacherous against the Muslims duing the Battle of the Confederates. When Huyai came with the group to be hanged, he said to Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him), “I do not regret being your enemy, but whoever fights Allah, Allah will overcome them.” Then he addressed his people, saying, “Oh my people, there is nothing wrong with Allah’s command, don’t be sad; this is the predestination Allah has set for Banu Israel (it has happened and will surely continually happen to Banu Israel).” He then sat down and was beheaded.

Only one of the Jewish women was killed, as she had killed Khallad ibn Suwaid by throwing a grinding stone at him.

The Jewish women began to cry, their wails rising louder, and began to tear their garments in grief due to the loss of their men and sons.

Ali ibn Abu Talib (may Allah honour his face) and Az-Zubayr ibn Al-Awwam (may Allah be pleased with him) were given the responsibility of killing the Jews.

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) had ordered that all men who had pubic hair, that is had reached puberty, should be killed. One of those who had not reached puberty when the Jews surrendered and so was not killed, Atia Al-Quraizi, entered Islam. Moreover, Thabit ibn Qays (may Allah be pleased with him) was allowed to intercede for one of Banu Quraizah, Zubayr ibn Bata, for him to be spared along with his family and wealth[2], and his request was granted. However, Az-Zubayr preferred to remain and die with his close friends among the Jews, so was killed. On the other hand, his son Abdur-Rahman wasn’t killed, and he later entered Islam. Similarly, Um Al-Munthir Salma bint Qays At-Tajariya (may Allah be pleased with her) was allowed to intercede for Rafa’ah ibn Simwal Al-Quraizi, a Jewish chief, for him to be spared, and her request was granted. He later embraced Islam. Another group of them (Banu Quraizah) also embraced Islam before surrendering. As a result, their lives, wealth and children were protected.

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) divided the wealth of Banu Quraizah, after taking out a fifth of the wealth for the state treasury. He gave the horsemen three shares: two shares for the horse and one share for the horseman himself, and one share to the soldiers. Moreover, some of the captives were sold in Najd, under the supervision of Saad ibn Zayd Al-Ansari, for horses and weapons.

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) prohibited separating the female war prisoners of Banu Quraizah from their children.  Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) said,

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) chose for himself Rehanah bint Amr ibn Khinaqah from the women of Banu Quraizah. She stayed with Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) until he died. However, Al-Kalbi said that Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) freed her and then married her in 6 A.H., but she died when returning from the Farewell pilgrimage and was buried in Al-Baqi graveyard.

The repentance of Abu Lubabah (may Allah be pleased with him)

Abu Lubabah remained tied to the tree trunk for 6 nights. His wife used to go to him at the time of every prayer to untie him so he could pray. After praying, he would tie himself to the trunk again. This continued until Allah (Glorified be He) revealed the ayah indicating He had forgiven him. Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) received the revelation one morning, just before Fajr prayer, when he was in Um Salamah’s house, so she went to the door of her lodgings and said to Abu Lubabah, “Oh Abu Lubabah, good news; Allah has forgiven you.” The Muslims rushed to release him, but he insisted that only Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) would untie him. Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) untied him when he passed by him going to pray Fajr (Dawn) prayer.    

The throne of the Most Merciful shakes on the death of Saad (may Allah be pleased with him)

Allah (Glorified be He) answered Saad ibn Mu’ath’s supplication he made during the Battle of the Confederates. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) had put up a tent for Saad in the mosque to be close to him and visit him often. After the matter was decided and settled concerning Banu Quraizah, Saad’s wound opened again and blood kept flowing from the cut until he died. 

It is reported in Al-Bukhari and Muslim from Jabir that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, When the hypocrites who were carrying Saad’s corpse remarked how light he was, the Messenger (peace be upon him) said,

Abu Sa’id Al-Khudari (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “I was one of those who dug Saad’s grave, and each time we dug out a layer of sand, we smelt musk.”

Saad’s mother (may Allah be pleased with her) came and looked at Saad in the grave, and said, “Allah will reward me for my loss.” The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) consoled her when he was standing near Saad’s feet at his grave. After the soil had been levelled over Saad, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) sprinkled water over the grave. He then stood to pray for him, and after that left. Saad’s mother mourned the death of her son, so the Messenger (peace be upon him) said, He was a handsome person, a master of his people in his youth.

The chief of Doumat Al-Jundal sent a mule and a robe from silk to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). The Companions were amazed at the nice robe, so the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said about Saad ibn Mu’ath’s handkerchiefs, <(His handkerchiefs) in paradise are better than this.>

Consequences of the conflict of Banu Quraizah

Two Muslim men were martyred in the conflict, and some reports state four men. Abu Sanan, the brother of Okashah, was among those who were martyred. Around 400 men of the traitors of Banu Quraizah were killed, and their children were sold in Mecca.

Lessons learnt from the conflict of Banu Quraizah

The loyalty of the companions of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) towards Allah’s religion was stronger than their old alliances in Medinah. Their sincerity reached the extent that the rules they wanted coincided with the same rules of Allah with regard to those who acted treacherously towards the Muslims. But those whose previous alliances had affected their actions, like Abu Lubabah, regretted their acts very much. However, Allah (Glorified be He) was forgiving and merciful with them. As for the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), when orders came to him from the heavens, he was not weak or lax in carrying them out to spread the light of Allah, but left to surround the enemies of the disbelivers. The ones who the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) killed refused anything but war; they refused to surrender and pay the Jizyah or to embrace Islam, even though they had wronged the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and knew it.