Invasion of Banu Nadir

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Invasion of Banu Nadir
Location Medina

Successful invasion and Siege:

  • Banu Nadir expelled, Muhammad seizes their weapons and captures their goods as war booty[1]
Muslims Banu Nadir tribe

The invasion of Banu Nadir took place in August 625 AD (Rabi' al-awwal, 4 AH)[1][2] The account is related in Surah Al-Hashr (Chapter 59 - The Gathering) which describes the banishment of the Jewish tribe Banu Nadir who were expelled from Medina after being accused of plotting to assassinate the Islamic prophet Muhammad.[3]

Mubrakpuri claims that the attack was carried out because the Angel Gabriel, told Muhammad that some members of the Banu Nadir were plotting to assassinate him.[1] Others (like Watt) contend it was in response to the tribe’s criticism of Muhammad which was fuelling suspicions among ordinary Muslims, and that the claim they wanted to assassinate Muhammad was not the fundamental reason for attacking them. Watt doubts whether the Banu Nadir wanted to assassinate Muhammad. He claimed that "it is possible that the allegation was no more than an excuse to justify the attack".[4]

The chapter teaches the laws relating to the cutting down and burning of enemy land and trees and the accumulation of booty during military conquest.[1][5] The Quran verse 2:256 "there is no compulsion in religion" is also learnt from this event.[6]


Reason for attack[edit]

Submission of Banu Nadir to the Muslim troops (14th-century painting)

According to The Sealed Nectar, a modern Islamic biography of Muhammad written by the Indian Muslim author Saif ur-Rahman Mubarakpuri, once Muhammad with some of his Companions set out to see the Banu Nadir tribe and seek their help in raising the blood-money he had to pay to the Banu Kalab for the two men that ‘Amr bin Omaiyah Ad-Damari had killed by mistake in the Expedition of Bir Maona. On hearing his story they said they would share in paying the blood-money and asked him and his Companions Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Ali and others to sit under a wall of their houses and wait. Mubrakpuri says that the angel Gabriel came down to reveal the plot by the Banu Nadir to assassinate Muhammad, so he, with his Companions, hurried off back to Madinah. On their way, he told his Companions of the Divine Revelation.

Mubrakpuri said, that the Banu Nadir Jews held a short private meeting and they conspired to kill him.[1]

According to Norman Stillman, Muhammad found a casus belli by claiming to have received a divine revelation that the Banu Nadir were plotting to assassinate him.[7] The Encyclopaedia of Islam, states that through Muhammad ibn Maslama, Muhammad ordered them to leave Medina within ten days. The tribe at first decided to comply, but Abdullah ibn Ubayy, the chief of the Khazraj, persuaded them to resist in their fortresses, promising to send 2,000 men to their aid. Huyayy ibn Akhtab decided to put up resistance, hoping also for help from Banu Qurayza, despite opposition within the tribe.[5]

Mubrakpuri claims that in this regards, the Quran says:

"If you are expelled, we (too) indeed will go out with you, and we shall never obey anyone against you, and if you are attacked (in fight), we shall indeed help you."[Quran 59:11][1]

The Banu Nadir regained their confidence and were determined to fight. Their chief Huyai bin Akhtab relied hopefully on what Abdullah ibn Ubayy said. So he sent a message to Muhammad saying: "We will not leave our houses. Do whatever you like to do."[1]

According to the Muslim Jurist, Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Abu Salmah gave an ultimatum to the Banu Nadir on the orders of Muhammad. Tabari claims that he (Abu Salmah) said:

Abu Salamah: Hearts have changed, and Islam has wiped out the old covenants

[Tabari, Volume 7, Foundation of the Community, p.158]



William Montgomery Watt, mentions in the foreword of the translation of Tabari, Volume 7, that the main underlying reason for the expulsion of the Banu Nadir was same as that of the Banu Qaynuqa. Namely that Jewishw criticism of Muhammad endangered the ordinary Muslims belief in Muhammad and the Quran. The clan of Nadir had an alliance with the Banu Amir, but it is not clear how this affected the seeking of blood money that Muslims were after. He also doubts whether the Banu Nadir wanted to drop a stone on Muhammad. He claims that it is possible that the "allegation was no more than an excuse to justify the attack".[4]

William Muir claims that: "the pretext on which the Banu Nadhir were besieged and expatriated (namely that Gabriel had revealed their design against the prophet's life) was feeble and unworthy of an honest cause".[9]

Invasion of Banu Nadir[edit]

According to The Sealed Nectar, the Muslims made the decisive decisions of taking up arms whatever turn the consequences could assume. When the Muhammad received the reply of Huyai bin Akhtab he said: "Allâhu Akbar, Allâhu Akbar." (Allâh is the Greatest of all) and his Companions repeated after him. Then he set out to fight them after appointing Ibn Umm Maktum to dispose the affairs of Madinah during his absence. The standard was entrusted to ‘Ali bin Abi Talib. He laid siege to their forts for six nights — in another version, fifteen. Banu Nadeer resorted to their castles, mounted them and started shooting arrows and pelting stones at the Muslims enjoying the strategic advantage that their thick fields of palm trees provided. The Muslims were therefore ordered to burn those trees. In this respect, a Quranic Verse was revealed:

"What you (O Muslims) cut down of the palm-trees (of the enemy), or you left them standing on their stems, it was by leave of Allâh." [Quran 59:5][1]

This incident is also mentioned in the Sahih Bukhari hadith collection in Sahih al-Bukhari, 3:39:519.

Quraizah tribe remained neutral, and ‘Abd-Allah ibn Ubayyas well as Ghatafan failed to keep their promises of support to the Banu Nadir. Mubarakpuri says that Quran 59:16 is related to this.[1]


Submission of Banu Nadir[edit]

According to the Sealed Nectar, the siege did not last long the Banu Nadir Jews, willingly offered to comply with the Muhammad's order and leave Madinah. Their caravan counted 600 loaded camels including their chiefs, Huyai bin Akhtab and Salam bin Abi Al-Huqaiq, who left for Khaibar whereas another party shifted to Syria. Two of them embraced Islam, Yameen bin ‘Amr and Abu Sa‘d bin Wahab, and so they retained their personal wealth. Muhammad seized their weapons, land, houses, and wealth. Amongst the other booty he managed to capture, there were 50 armours, 50 helmets, and 340 swords. This booty was exclusively Muhammad's because no fighting was involved in capturing it. He divided the booty at his own discretion among the early Emigrants and two poor Helpers, Abu Dujana and Suhail bin Haneef.[1]

Expulsion and departure of Banu Nadir[edit]

Al-Waqidi described their impressive farewell: "Their women were decked out in litters wearing silk, brocade, velvet, and fine red and green silk. People lined up to gape at them."[10] Most of Banu Nadir found refuge among the Jews of Khaybar, while others emigrated to Syria.[5] According to Ibn Ishaq, the chiefs of Nadir who went to Khaybar were Sallam b. Abu'l-Huqayq, Kenana ibn al-Rabi and Huyayy b. Akhtab. When these chiefs arrvied in Khaybar, the Jewish inhabitants of Khaybar became subject to them.[11]

Islamic sources[edit]

Quran chapter 59, and 2:256[edit]

According to the Sealed Nectar, almost all the verses of Surah Al-Hashr (Chapter 59 - The Gathering) describe the banishment of the Banu Nadir Jews .[1][5]

According World religions and norms of war, a book published by the United Nations University, Quran 2:256 ("there is no compulsion in religion") is related to the event.[6]

The Quran commentator (Muffasir) Ibn Kathir said that this verse was abrogated,[12] he wrote about it:

Ibn Abbas said: it was revealed with regard to a man from the tribe of Bani Salim Ibn Awf called al-Husayni whose two sons converted to Christianity but he was himself a Muslim. He told the Prophet: "Shall I force them to embrace Islam, they insist on Christianity", hence Allah revealed this verse. But, this verse was abrogated by the verse of fighting[12]

In the Tafsir of Al-Wahidi (called Asbab al-Nuzul), it also states the verse was "abrogated and the Prophet was commanded to fight the people of the Book in Surah Repentance".[13]

Biographical literature[edit]

This event is also 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.[14] Among the modern secondary sources which mention this, include the award winning book,[15] The Sealed Nectar.[1]

Hadith literature[edit]

World religions and norms of war, a book published by the United Nations University, states that Quran 2:256: "there is no compulsion in religion" was mentioned about this event, the books quotes the Sunan Abu Dawud hadith[6] below:

When the children of a woman (in pre-Islamic days) did not survive, she took a vow on herself that if her child survives, she would convert it a Jew. When Banu an-Nadir were expelled (from Arabia), there were some children of the Ansar (Helpers) among them. They said: We shall not leave our children. So Allah the Exalted revealed; "Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error." Sunan Abu Dawood, 14:2676 [6]

The event is also mentioned in the Sahih Bukhari hadith collection as follows:

The Prophet got the date palm trees of the tribe of Bani-An-Nadir burnt and the trees cut down at a place called Al-Buwaira . Hassan bin Thabit said in a poetic verse: "The chiefs of Bani Lu'ai found it easy to watch fire spreading at Al-Buwaira." Sahih al-Bukhari, 3:39:519

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Rahman al-Mubarakpuri, Saifur (2005), The Sealed Nectar, Darussalam Publications, p. 189  (online)
  2. ^ Tabari, Al (25 Sep 1990), The last years of the Prophet (translated by Isma’il Qurban Husayn), State University of New York Press 
  3. ^ Jamie Stokes (2005), Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Africa and the Middle East, Volume 1, Infobase Publishing, p. 99, ISBN 978-0-8160-7158-6, According to Islamic tradition, the Bani Nadir were expelled from Medina in 625 after being implicated in a plot to assassinate Muhammad 
  4. ^ a b Tabari, Al (2008), The foundation of the community, State University of New York Press, p. xxxv, ISBN 978-0-88706-344-2, The main underlying reason for the expulsion of the clan of al-Nadir was the same as in the case of Quaynuqa, namely, that Jewish criticisms endangered the ordinary Muslim's belief in Muhammad's prophethood and in the Quran as revelation from God. 
  5. ^ a b c d Vacca, V. "Nadir, Banu 'l". In P.J. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Encyclopaedia of Islam Online. Brill Academic Publishers. ISSN 1573-3912. 
  6. ^ a b c d Vesselin Popovski, Gregory M. Reichberg, Nicholas Turner (2009). World religions and norms of war. United Nations University Press. p. 296. ISBN 978-92-808-1163-6. 
  7. ^ Stillman, Norman. The Jews of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1979. ISBN 0-8276-0198-0. p.14
  8. ^ Tabari, Al (2008), The foundation of the community, State University of New York Press, pp. 158–159, ISBN 978-0-88706-344-2 
  9. ^ Muir, William (1861), The life of Mahomet and history of Islam to the era of the Hegira, Volume 4, Smith, Elder & Co, p. 308 
  10. ^ Al-Waqidi (1966). Marsden Jones, ed. Kitab al-Maghazi. London. pp. 363–375.  English translation from Stillman (1979), p. 136.
  11. ^ A. Guillaume, The life of Muhammad, Oxford University Press, p.438
  12. ^ a b Tafsir Ibn Kathir Part 3: Surah Al-Baqaray, Ayat 253 to 286, Surah Al-Imran, Ayat 1 to 92, by Ar-Rafa'i, Muhammad Nasib, Al-Firdous Ltd., London, 1999: First Edition, Part 3, pp. 37-38
  13. ^ Asbab Al-Nuzul , by Al-Wahidi, verse 2:256, (owned by al-Azhar university)
  14. ^ Rahman al-Mubarakpuri, Saifur (2005), The Sealed Nectar, Darussalam Publications, p. 192 . See red text
  15. ^ Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum - The Sealed Nectar. Dar-us-Salam Publications