Invasion of Banu Qurayza

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Invasion of Banu Qurayza
Date February/March, 627 AD
Location Fortress of Banu Qurayza
Result
  • Successful 25 day siege of Banu Qurayza tribe[1][2]
Belligerents
Muslims Banu Qurayza
Commanders and leaders
Muhammad
Ali ibn Abi Talib
Strength
3000 infantry, 30 horsemen Unknown [1]
Casualties and losses
2 killed[1] Muslim Sources
  • 600-900 beheaded (Tabari, Ibn Hisham)[1][2][3]
  • All Males beheaded (Sahih al-Bukhari), All males and one woman beheaded (Sunan Abu Dawud)[4][5]

The Invasion of Banu Qurayza,[1] also known as the Massacre of Banu Qurayza, refers to an incident that took place in the Dhul Qa‘dah during February and March of 627 CE (5 AH).[6]

The Banu Qurayza, a Jewish tribe in Medina, formed an alliance with the Muslim community led by Islamic prophet Muhammad. This community soon faced a siege from Meccan forces who were in a state of war with the Muslims. According to the treaty between them,[citation needed] the Banu Qurayza would not take part in the battle against the Meccans, but neither would they attack the Muslims. The community survived the siege, but the Banu Qurayza betrayed the alliance by colluding with enemy forces.

The Banu Qurayza where subsequently besieged for 25 days until they surrendered and faced a judgement for their breach.[1] One of Muhammad's companions, Sa'd ibn Mua'dh, who was also a member of an tribe allied to the Banu Qurayza and a former Jew,[citation needed] was agreed upon to act as judge. He ruled that "the men should be killed, the property divided, and the women and children taken as captives". Some sources claim that this sentence was derived from Jewish testimony and law. Muhammad approved of the ruling, calling it fair as it was according to the Jew's own laws,.[7][8][9][10][11] According to Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad said to Sa'd : "You have given the judgment of Allah above the seven heavens".[12] All male members of the tribe who had reached puberty were beheaded.[2][13] According to Daniel C. Peterson and Martin Lings, this judgment coincided with the law of Moses as stated in Deuteronomy 20:10-14.[14][15] The Muslim jurist Tabari quotes 600-900 being executed.[1][3] The Sunni hadith do not give the number killed, but state that all males were killed and 1 woman (the 1 woman is according to Sunan Abu Dawud).[16] The rest of the woman and children were sold in exchange for weapons and horses, according to Islamic sources.[1]

According to Ibn Kathir, Quranic verses 33:26-27 and 33:9-10 are about the attack against the Banu Qurayza.[2][17][18]

The Banu Qurayza were allied to Muhammmad and during the Battle of the Trench they lent tools to the Muslims to defend themselves in Medina, but they did not participate in any fighting. The Qurayza were deeply offended by Muhammad's recitation of revelations which strongly attacked Jews, and according to Islamic sources (such as Al-Waqidi[19]) they negotiated with the Meccans.[20] Waqidi says that Muhammad had a treaty with the tribe which was torn apart. Norman Stillman and Watt claims that such a treaty was "doubtful" to have existed, though Watt believes the Qurayza had agreed not to assist Muhammad's enemies against him.[19][21] Al-Waqidi has been frequently criticized by Muslim writers, who claim that he is unreliable.[22] According to Mubrakpuri, Peters, Stillman, Guillaume, Inamdar and Ibn Kathir, on the day of the Meccans' withdrawal Muhammad led his forces against the Banu Qurayza neighborhood. According to Muslim tradition he had been ordered to do so by the angel Gabriel (Jibraaiyl).[1][2][7][8][9][23]

Banu Qurayza[edit]

Main article: Banu Qurayza

The Banu Qurayza (Arabic: بني قريظة; بنو قريظة‎ alternate spellings include Quraiza, Qurayzah, Quraytha, and the archaic Koreiza) were a Jewish tribe which lived in northern Arabia, at the oasis of Yathrib (presently known as Medina)

Jewish tribes reportedly arrived in Hijaz in the wake of the Jewish-Roman wars and introduced agriculture, putting them in a culturally, economically and politically dominant position.[19][24]

Background[edit]

Agreement with Muhammad[edit]

The Banu Qurayza signed a treaty with Muhammad,[citation needed] but it is unclear whether or not their treaty with Muhammad, obliged the Qurayza help him defend Medina or merely to remain neutral,[25] according to Ramadan, they had signed an agreement of mutual assistance with Muhammad.[26] This stance is supported by medieval sources Ibn Ishaq/Ibn Hisham and al-Waqidi.[19] Both Watt and Stillman believe that no special agreement existed between Muhammad and Qurayza.[21] Watt, however, does agree that the Qurayza had agreed not to support Muhammad's enemies against him. He also notes that the Qurayza were allied to two Muslim tribes (the Banu Aws and Banu Khazraj).[19] But nobody shows this agreement.[citation needed]

Battle of the Trench[edit]

In 627 AD, Abu Sufyan, led an attack on Medina during the Battle of the Trench.[25] The Qurayza did not participate in the fighting - according to David Norcliffe, but they lent tools to the Muslims, to defend themselves in Medina. The Qurayza were deeply offended by Muhammad's recitation of revelations which strongly attacked Jews.[20] According to Al-Waqidi, the Banu Qurayza helped the defense effort of Medina by supplying spades, picks, and baskets for the excavation of the defensive trench the defenders of Medina had dug in preparation.[21] According to Watt, the Banu Qurayza "seem to have tried to remain neutral" in the battle[27] but later changed their attitude when a Jew from Khaybar persuaded them that Muhammad was sure to be overwhelmed, making them doubt whether they should help and ally with Muhammad[25] and though they did not commit any act overtly hostile to Muhammad, according to Watt,[19] they entered into negotiations with the invading army to reach a settlement.[27] Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal no. 22823 also mentions that the Qurayza helped Muhammad by turning down Abu Sufyan when he wanted there help to attack Muhammad, and that Abu Sufyan was not happy with them.[28]

According to Shibli Nomani, Ibn Ishaq writes that during the siege, the Qurayza readmitted Huyayy ibn Akhtab, the chief of the Banu Nadir whom Muhammad had exiled (during the Invasion of Banu Nadir),[29] At this point, some historians believe that Huyayy tore into pieces the agreement between Ka'b and Muhammad, though other historians doubt that a special agreement existed (see above).[19] Whatever the treaty, rumours began to spread that the Qurayza had "defected". So Muhammad sent some men to confirm this. According to William Muir, the Qurayza said to the men "Who is Mohamet, and who is the Apostle of God, that we should obey him? There is no bond or compact between us and him." [30]

Reason for attack[edit]

Muslims considered the support of Banu Qurayza for the Quraishies in the Battle of the Trench as a Treachery and Breach of Covenant and the Agreement with Muslims (Banu Qurayza believed that Quraish will win the Battle especially with 10,000 armed men against 3,000), Thus, Muslims wanted to get rid of the hidden enemies in Al-Madinah.[2]

According to Peters and Stillman, on the day of the Meccans' withdrawal, Muhammad led his forces against the Banu Qurayza neighborhood. According to the Muslim tradition, he had been ordered to do so by the angel Gabriel.[7][8][9][23]

According to The Sealed Nectar, a modern Islamic biography of Muhammad written by the Indian Muslim author Saif ur-Rahman Mubarakpuri, the Angel Gabriel visited Muhammad while he was washing clothes at Umm Salama’s house, asking that he should unsheathe his sword and to go to the Banu Qurayza and fight them. Mubarakpuri claims Gabriel said that he with a procession of angels would go ahead the fort of Banu Qurayza and cast fear in their hearts.[1] This is also mentioned in the Sunni hadith collections in Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:68 .

Ibn Kathir, mentioned the sequence of events in his Tafsir, as follows:

The Messenger of Allah returned to Al-Madinah in triumph and the people put down their weapons. While the Messenger of Allah was washing off the dust of battle in the house of Umm Salamah, may Allah be pleased with her, Jibril, upon him be peace, came to him wearing a turban of brocade, riding on a mule on which was a cloth of silk brocade. He said, "Have you put down your weapons, O Messenger of Allah" He said, "Yes" He said, "But the angels have not put down their weapons. I have just now come back from pursuing the people." Then he said: "Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, commands you to get up and go to Banu Quraiza. According to another report, "What a fighter you are! Have you put down your weapons" He said, "Yes". He said, "But we have not put down our weapons yet, get up and go to these people." He said: "Where?" He said, "Banu Quraiza, for Allah has commanded me to shake them." So the Messenger of Allah got up immediately, and commanded the people to march towards Banu Quraiza, who were a few miles from Al-Madinah. This was after Salat Az-Zuhr. He said, No one among you should pray `Asr except at Banu Quraiza.[2]

[Tafsir ibn Kathir]

Muhammad, immediately summoned the prayer caller and ordered him to announce fresh hostilities against Banu Quraiza, institued Ibn Umm Maktum as a ruler of Madinah, and entrusted the banner of war to ‘Ali bin Abi Talib who marched towards the appointed target and came close enough to hear the Banu Qurayza abusing Muhammad, who on his part set out at the head of 3000 infantry men and 30 horsemen of Ansar (Helpers) and Muhajireen (Emigrants).[1][31]

Siege of Banu Qurayza[edit]

When they reached the habitations of Banu Quraiza, they laid tight siege to their forts. [1][32] The Banu Qurayza retreated into their stronghold and endured the siege for 25 days. As their morale waned, Ka'b ibn Asad (the chief of the tribe) suggested three alternative ways out of their predicament: embrace Islam, kill their own children and women, then rush out for a charge to either win or die; or make a surprise attack on the Sabbath. The Banu Qurayza accepted none of these alternatives. Instead they asked to confer with Abu Lubaba, one of their allies from the Aws. According to Ibn Ishaq, Abu Lubaba felt pity for the women and children of the tribe who were crying and when asked whether the Qurayza should surrender to Muhammad, advised them to do so. However he also "made a sign with his hand toward his throat, indicating that [their fate] would be slaughter".[7][8][9][23] According to Mubarakpuri, Abu Lubab begged Muhammad for forgiveness (on behalf of the Qurayza), but Muhammad said it is only God who can forgive him.[1][32] The next morning, the Banu Qurayza surrendered and the Muslims seized their stronghold and their stores.[25][33] The men - numbering between 400 and 900[7][34] - were bound and placed under the custody of Muhammad ibn Maslamah, who had killed Ka'b ibn al-Ashraf, while the women and children - numbering about 1,000[34] - were placed under Abdullah ibn Sallam, a former rabbi who had converted to Islam.[35]

According to Mubrakpuri, Muslims continued their siege for many days and were getting tired. Ali and Az-Zubair bin ‘Awwam proceeded with ‘Ali swearing that he would never stop until he had either stormed their garrisons or been martyred like Hamza.[1]

Muhammad meanwhile asked one of his poets, Hasam bin Thabit to abuse them with his poems. This is mentioned in Sahih al-Bukhari, 5:59:449

Demise of Banu Qurayza[edit]

Surrender and execution[edit]

Tabari and Ibn Hisham mention 600-900 of the Banu Qurayza were beheaded.[3][36] Detail from miniature painting The Prophet, Ali, and the Companions at the Massacre of the Prisoners of the Jewish Tribe of Beni Qurayzah, illustration of a 19th century text by Muhammad Rafi Bazil.

After their garrisons were stormed by Ali they had no choice but to comply with Muhammad's judgement. Muhammad ordered that the men should be handcuffed, and this was done under the supervision of Muhammad bin Salamah Al-Ansari while the women and children were isolated in confinement. Thereupon Al-Aws tribe interceded begging Muhammad to be lenient towards them. He suggested that Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh a Muslim convert who was a former ally of the tribe, should decide their fate.[7][8][9][10][25][25]

Muir holds that the Qurayza surrendered on the condition that "their fate was decided by their allies, the Bani Aws" but mentions that Sa'd wanted to get revenge and that he said "Suffer me not to die until my heart hadth had its revenge against them".[37] Stillman also made the same claim, he said: "Sa`d took the hint and condemned the adult males to death and the hapless women and children to slavery." Furthermore, Stillman infers from Abu Lubaba's gesture that Muhammad had decided the fate of the Qurayza even before their surrender.[21]

According to Mubrakpuri, Stillman, Peters and Adil and Muir, when Sa'd arrived, his fellow Aws pleaded for leniency towards the Qurayza and on his request pledged that they would abide by his decision.[14] He then pronounced that "the men should be killed, the property divided, and the women and children taken as captives". Muhammad approved of the ruling, calling it similar to God's judgment.[7][8][9][10][11] Mubarakpuri states that the tribe who reached puberty were beheaded.[1] No Sunni Hadith or Prophetic biography of Muhammad source evokes Deuteronomy or any law of Moses.

Sa'd dismissed the pleas of the Aws, according to Watt because being close to death and concerned with his afterlife, he put what he considered "his duty to God and the Muslim community" before tribal allegiance.[25] Tariq Ramadan argues that Muhammad deviated from his earlier, more lenient treatment of prisoners as this was seen as "as sign of weakness if not madness"[35] and Peterson concurs that the Muslims wanted to deter future treachery by severe punishment.[14]

This is also mentioned in the Sunni hadith collections, stating:

Then the Prophet said, "O Sad! These people have agreed to accept your verdict." Sad said, "I judge that their warriors should be killed and their children and women should be taken as captives." The Prophet said, "You have given a judgment similar to Allah's Judgment (or the King's judgment)."Sahih al-Bukhari, 5:58:148

A large arsenal of the Banu Qurayza which consisted of 1500 swords, 2000 spears, 300 armours and 500 shields, were confiscated by Muhammad. Trenches were dug in the bazaar of Madinah and a number of Jews between six and seven hundred were beheaded therein.[1][24][38]

Huyai, a chief of Bani Nadir and Safiyah’s father, had joined the ranks of Banu Quraiza when Quraish and Ghatfan defected, was admitted into the audience of Muhammad with his hands tied to his neck with a rope. In audacious defiance, he declared obstinate enmity to Muhammad. He was ordered to sit down, and was beheaded on the spot.[1]

According to Mubrakpuri, only one woman of the Jews was killed because she had killed a Muslim warrior by flinging a grinding stone upon him.[1] This is also mentioned in Sunni Hadith collections:

No woman of Banu Qurayza was killed except one. She was with me, talking and laughing on her back and belly (extremely), while the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) was killing her people with the swords. Suddenly a man called her name: Where is so-and-so? She said: I I asked: What is the matter with you? She said: I did a new act. She said: The man took her and beheaded her. She said: I will not forget that she was laughing extremely although she knew that she would be killed.

Sunan Abu Dawood, 14:2665

A few elements of the enemy embraced Islam and their lives, wealth and children were spared. As for the spoils of the war, Muhammad divided them. Women captives were sent to Najd to be exchanged with horses and weaponry. In the process of the siege laid to Banu Quraiza, one man of the Muslims, Khallad bin Suwaid was killed when a woman of the Jews dropped the grinding stone on him, and another, Abu Sinan bin Mihsan, the brother of ‘Ukasha, died. The siege of Banu Quraiza’s forts lasted for 25 days.[1]

Executioners[edit]

Several accounts note Muhammad's companions as executioners, Ali and Al-Zubayr in particular, and that each clan of the Aws was also charged with killing a group of Qurayza men.[23][34] Subhash Inamdar argues that this was done in order to avoid the risk of further conflicts between Muhammad and the Aws. According to Inamdar, Muhammad wanted to distance himself from the events and, had he been involved, would have risked alienating some of the Aws.[23] the Banu Aws were allied to the Banu Qurayza and Muhammad.[20]

Islamic primary sources[edit]

Quran[edit]

The event is supposedly referenced in the Quran:

And those of the People of the Book who aided them - Allah did take them down from their strongholds and cast terror into their hearts. (So that) some ye slew, and some ye made prisoners.[Quran 33:26]

Ibn Kathir commentary of the verse in his Tafsir is as follows:

Then the Messenger of Allah commanded that ditches should be dug, so they were dug in the earth, and they were brought tied by their shoulders, and were beheaded. There were between seven hundred and eight hundred of them. The children who had not yet reached adolescence and the women were taken prisoner, and their wealth was seized.[2]

[Ibn Kathir, on Quran 33:26]

According to Ibn Kathir, Quran 33:09 and 33:10 is also related to the Banu Qurayza.[17]

Hadith literature[edit]

According to Kister all male members of the tribe who reached puberty were beheaded,[13] Ibn Kathir says those who did not reach adolescence were taken prisoners instead of being killed.[2] This is also mentioned in the Sunni hadith collection Abu Dawud:

Narrated Atiyyah al-Qurazi: I was among the captives of Banu Qurayza. They (the Companions) examined us, and those who had begun to grow hair (pubes) were killed, and those who had not were not killed. I was among those who had not grown hair.Sunan Abu Dawood, 38:4390

According to Mubrakpuri, Peters, Stillman, Guillaume and Inamdar, Islamic tradition says that the angel Gabriel told Muhammad to go and attack the Qurayza.[1][7][8][9][23] This is also mentioned in the Sunni hadith collection Sahih Bukhari:

When Allah's Apostle returned on the day (of the battle) of Al-Khandaq (i.e. Trench), he put down his arms and took a bath. Then Gabriel whose head was covered with dust, came to him saying, "You have put down your arms! By Allah, I have not put down my arms yet." Allah's Apostle said, "Where (to go now)?" Gabriel said, "This way," pointing towards the tribe of Bani Quraiza. So Allah's Apostle went out towards them .

Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:68

The event is also mentioned in Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:57:66, Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:68, Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:59:443, Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:59:44, Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:280 and many others.

Biographical literature[edit]

The early Muslim jurist Tabari and Ibn Hisham also mention this event stating 600-900 were killed. Tabari's account is as follows:

The messenger of God went out into the marketplace of Medina and had trenches dug in it; then he sent for them and had them beheaded in those trenches. They were brought out to him in groups. Among them were the enemy of God, Huyayy b. Akhtab, and Ka’b b. Asad, the head of the tribe. They numbered 600 or 700—the largest estimate says they were between 800 and 900. As they were being taken in groups to the Messenger of God, they said to Ka’b b. Asad, “Ka’b, what do you understand. Do you not see that the summoner does not discharge [anyone] and that those of you who are taken away do not come back? By God, it is death!” the affair continued until the Messenger of God had finished with them.[3]

[Volume 8, Victory of Islam, p. 35-36]

Al-Waqidi has also written on these events, though his reliability has been called into question by Muslim writers.[22]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Rahman al-Mubarakpuri, Saifur (2005), The Sealed Nectar, Darussalam Publications, pp. 201–205  (online)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ibn Kathir, Saed Abdul-Rahman (2009), Tafsir Ibn Kathir Juz'21, MSA Publication Limited, p. 213, ISBN 978-1-86179-611-0 (online)
  3. ^ a b c d Al Tabari, Michael Fishbein (translator) (1997), Volume 8, Victory of Islam, State University of New York Press, pp. 35–36, ISBN 978-0-7914-3150-4 
  4. ^ Sunan Abu Dawood, 14:2665
  5. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:280
  6. ^ William Muir (2003), The life of Mahomet, Kessinger Publishing, p. 317, ISBN 978-0-7661-7741-3 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Ibn Ishaq, A. Guillaume (translator) (2002), The Life of Muhammad (Sirat Rasul Allah), Oxford University Press, pp. 461–464, ISBN 978-0-19-636033-1 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Peters, Muhammad and the Origins of Islam, p. 222-224.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Stillman, The Jews of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book, pp. 137-141.
  10. ^ a b c Adil, Muhammad: The Messenger of Islam, p. 395f.
  11. ^ a b William Muir (2003), The life of Mahomet, Kessinger Publishing, p. 329, ISBN 978-0-7661-7741-3 
  12. ^ Ibn Ishaq, A. Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad (a translation of Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah), Oxford University Press, p. 464 The life of Muhammad
  13. ^ a b Kister (1990), Society and religion from Jāhiliyya to Islam, p. 54.
  14. ^ a b c Peterson, Muhammad: the prophet of God, p. 125-127.
  15. ^ Lings, Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources, p. 229-233
  16. ^ Sunan Abu Dawood, 14:2665, "No woman of Banu Qurayzah was killed except one. She was with me, talking and laughing on her back and belly (extremely), while the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) was killing her people with the swords. Suddenly a man called her name: Where is so-and-so? She said: I I asked: What is the matter with you? She said: I did a new act. She said: The man took her and beheaded her. She said: I will not forget that she was laughing extremely although she knew that she would be killed. "
  17. ^ a b Ibn Kathir, Saed Abdul-Rahman (2009), Tafsir Ibn Kathir Juz'21, MSA Publication Limited, p. 213, ISBN 978-1-86179-611-0 (online)
  18. ^ Haykal, Husayn (1976), The Life of Muhammad, Islamic Book Trust, p. 338, ISBN 978-983-9154-17-7 
  19. ^ a b c d e f g Watt, Encyclopaedia of Islam, Section on "Kurayza, Banu".
  20. ^ a b c David Norcliffe (1999), Islam: faith and practice, Sussex Academic Press, p. 21, ISBN 1-898723-86-9 
  21. ^ a b c d Stillman, The Jews of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book, pp. 14-16.
  22. ^ a b Encyclopedia of Islam, section on "Muhammad"
  23. ^ a b c d e f Subhash C. Inamdar (2001), Muhammad and the Rise of Islam: The Creation of Group Identity, Psychosocial Press, p. 166 (footnotes), ISBN 1-887841-28-8 
  24. ^ a b Francis Edwards Peters (1994), Muhammad and the origins of Islam, SUNY Press, p. 192(footnote 8–10), ISBN 0-7914-1875-8 
  25. ^ a b c d e f g William Montgomery Watt (1961), Muhammad, Prophet and Statesman, Oxford University Press, p. 166, ISBN 0-19-881078-4 
  26. ^ Tariq Ramadan (2007), In the Footsteps of the Prophet, Oxford University Press, p. 140(footnotes), ISBN 0-19-530880-8 
  27. ^ a b Watt, W. Montgomery (1956). Muhammad at Medina. Oxford University Press. pp. 36–38. ISBN 978-0-19-577307-1.  (free online)
  28. ^ Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, no. 22823, al-islam.com (archive)
  29. ^ Nomani, Sirat al-Nabi, p. 382.
  30. ^ William Muir (2003), The life of Mahomet, Kessinger Publishing, p. 320, ISBN 978-0-7661-7741-3 
  31. ^ William Muir (2003), The life of Mahomet, Kessinger Publishing, p. 326, ISBN 978-0-7661-7741-3 
  32. ^ a b William Muir (2003), The life of Mahomet, Kessinger Publishing, p. 327, ISBN 978-0-7661-7741-3 
  33. ^ Kister, Meir J., "The Massacre of the Banu Quraiza. A re-examination of a tradition", in: Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 8 (1986), p. 94 ,“These included weapons, household goods, utensils, camels and cattle. The stored wine was spilled”.
  34. ^ a b c Kister, Meir J., "The Massacre of the Banu Quraiza. A re-examination of a tradition", in: Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 8 (1986), p. 93 (footnotes). (also referenced in Society and religion from Jāhiliyya to Islam, p. 45)
  35. ^ a b Tariq Ramadan (2007), In the Footsteps of the Prophet, Oxford University Press, p. 145, ISBN 0-19-530880-8 
  36. ^ Ibn Ishaq, A. Guillaume (translator) (2002), The Life of Muhammad (Sirat Rasul Allah), Oxford University Press, p. 464, ISBN 978-0-19-636033-1 
  37. ^ William Muir (2003), The life of Mahomet, Kessinger Publishing, p. 328, ISBN 978-0-7661-7741-3 
  38. ^ Encyclopedia Judaica, "Qurayza".

Sources[edit]