The Battle of Banu Qainuqa.Prophet Muhammed responds to the treachery of the Jews

The Battle of Banu Qainuqa.Prophet Muhammed responds to the treachery of the Jews

When and where was this battle?

It took place in the month of Shawwal in the second year of Hijra. It lasted for 15 days. The Battle of Banu Qainuqa took place in Yathrib, South of Medinah [The Prophet’s Biography by Ibn Hesham, 1661]

Who led the army, and who held the banner?

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) led the army, and Hamzah ibn Abdul-Muttalib held the banner

Reasons for the Battle of Banu Qainuqa

Banu Qainuqa were a Jewish tribe who lived in Medinah and were known for their fighting against and their hatred of Islam. Their attempts to harass the Muslims and their Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) resulted in the Battle of Banu Qainuqa. The Jews used to falsely claim allegiance, believing in Islam during the daytime and disbelieving at the end of the day. This was to plant the seeds of doubt in the hearts of the weak Muslims. They also restricted the means of living of the believers, if the believers had any financial dealings with them. They acted like this before the Battle of Badr, although they had made a covenant with  Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) [Zaid Al-Ma’id (Provisions for the Hereafter) By Ibn Al-Qayyim, 271]

The Jews felt great hatred against the Muslims, and also felt more isolated, after the Battle of Badr, which was followed by many plots and intrigues by the disbelievers. Moreover, Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) had advised them, saying, But they replied, “Oh Mohammed, you think we are like your people (Quraish). Do not think that since you overcame a people who have no experience in war, that you have a chance of overcoming us. By Allah, truly, if we fight you, you will realize that we are people who are experienced in such matters and you have never fought ones like us (that is, they are the bravest, the richest and roughest of the Jews).” Therefore, Allah revealed, {Therefore, O Muhammad, say to those who have rejected your Message, “The time is approaching fast when you shall be overpowered and driven to Hell: and Hell is a horrible abode”} [Surah Al-Imran: 12], and {And if you fear treachery from any people (with whom you have a covenant) then publicly throw their covenant at them} [Surah Al-Anfal: 58].

One of the reasons of this battle is the incident with one of the wives of an Ansari Muslim. A Jewish youth had tried sarcastically remove her veil, so she moved away from him and reproached him for doing that. However, a Jewish jeweler had tied the hem of her dress to her back, thereby uncovering her body. The Jews started to laugh at her. A Muslim man went to help her and attacked the Jewish jeweler, killing him in process. The Jews gathered around the Muslim when he tried to prevent them from attacking her, and killed him [The Prophet’s Biography written in Al-Hallab, the chapter of the Battle of Banu Qainuqa].

Events of the Battle of Banu Qainuqa

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) and the Muslims moved towards Banu Qainuqa. Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) left the Companion Abu Lababah ibn Abdul-Munthir to run the affairs in Medinah. When Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) saw that the Jews had come with their soldiers, he surrounded and laid siege on their forts. Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) laid siege on them for 15 days. The Jews had a total of 700 fighters with them at that time. Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) then ordered that they be held prisoners, under the charge of Al-Munthir ibn Qudamah As-Salamy.

At this time, Abdullah ibn Abu Salul tried to intercede for the Jews with Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him), urging Prophet Muuhammed not to fight them by saying, “Oh Muhammed, deal well with my allies.” He repeated this many times, referring to them as close allies and helpers. Ibn As-haq related that when Ibn Salul pulled Prophet Muhammed back from behind by placing his hand in Prophet Muhammed's armour, Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) said to him, And he (peace be upon him) became so angry his face turned red. It is also said that after Abu Salul kept asking him over and over again, Prophet Muhammed agreed to leave the Jews without harming them, just exiling them from Medinah.  Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) cursed them (the Jews) and Ibn Salul. Then the orders were carried out, and they left moving north towards Ash-Sham, settling in Athru’a in Ash-Sham. They left their wealth, arms and tools. They were blacksmiths by trade. After three nights, Mohammed ibn Musalamah gathered all their booty.

There were many weapons in their houses; as has been previously mentioned, they were the wealthiest and strongest of the Jews. Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) took 3 types of bows from their weapons: a bow called 'The Quiet One', as a person could not hear an arrow being shot with it, one type called ‘Ruha'’, and one type called ‘White’, as well as two shields: one shield called 'As-Saghadiyah'. It is said that it was Prophet David’s shield which he wore when he fought Jaloot. The second shield was called 'Fadah'. Moreover, there were 3 spears and 3 swords. He gave a shield to Mohammed ibn Musalamah and the other shield to Saad ibn Muadh [Al-Tabaqat by Ibn Saad, 218].

The Companion Ubaydah ibn As-Samat used to be an ally of the Jews of Banu Qainuqa, but he rejected them and his allegiance with them after they insulted the Muslims. Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) gave him the task of supervising the evacuation of the Jews. About Ibn Samat, the following ayah (verse of the Quran) was revealed, {O Believers, do not take the Jews nor the Christians as your close friends: they are only one another's close friends} to { And whoever makes Allah and His Messenger and the believers his friends, let him know that Allah's party will surely come out victorious} [Surah Al-Maidah: 51 - 56].

Consequences of the Battle of Banu Qainuqa

The Jews of Banu Qainuqa were exiled from Medinah because of their treachery against the Muslims and their breaking the covenant with the believers. It is said that only a few of them remained after that, most of them perishing in exile. Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) distributed the booty between the Companions, after setting aside one fifth, as Allah had ordered. This one fifth was for the needy Muslims. Following this, he (peace be upon him) went out to the prayer area to pray Eid Prayer with the Muslims, which was the first Eid Prayer in Islam. He then slaughtered two sheep, some reporters say one sheep. The other Muslims also slaughtered cattle with him [The Battles of the Messenger of Allah by Abdul-Hameed Shakir].

Lessons we learn from this battle

The Jews were the worst enemies against the Muslims. This was clear after the Battle of Badr, in which Allah gave victory to His slaves of the Muslims. We also learn that showing force with the enemies of Allah is an effective solution when facing those who break covenants and treaties. Moreover, we learn that the Muslims’ loyalty has to be to Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him), and that they should absolve themselves of all those who fight Allah’s religion, as Ubaydah ibn As-Samat did.