Ka'b ibn al-Ashraf

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Ka'b ibn al-Ashraf
Born
Ka'b ibn al-Ashraf

Diedc. 624 CE
Cause of deathAssassinated by Muhammad ibn Maslamah in the order of Muhammad
NationalityJewish
Banu Qurayza

Ka'b ibn al-Ashraf (Arabic: كعب بن الاشرف‎; died c. 624) was, according Islamic texts, a Jewish leader and poet in Medina.[1] He was killed on the order of the Islamic prophet Muhammad after the Battle of Badr.[2]

Biography[edit]

Ka'b was born to a father from the Arab Tayy tribe and a mother from the Jewish Banu Nadir tribe. His father having died early, Ka'b was brought up in his mother's family and in her faith.[3] He was recognized as belonging to his mother's tribe, in which he was one of the leading men.[4]:18–19

The order to kill Ka'b is mentioned in numerous hadiths. Muhammad made it clear to his companions that he wished Ka'b killed, saying, "Who is willing to kill Ka’b bin Al-Ashraf who has hurt Allah and His Apostle?"[5] Muhammad bin Maslama volunteered and was aided by several others, including Ka‘b’s foster brother, Abu Na'ila. Ibn Maslamah was troubled that this assassination would involve lying to Ka'b, but Muhammad gave him a dispensation to do so.[6] They took Ka'b out for a walk late at night and killed him.[7]

Interpretation[edit]

Many authors have ascribed evil deeds to Ka'b, with questionable veracity.[3] According to the Encyclopaedia of Islam, following the victory of the Muslims over the Quraysh in the Battle of Badr, in March 624, Ka'b was angry at the execution of a number of Meccan notables who had been captured after that battle.[7] According to some Islamic commentators, Muhammad called upon his followers to kill Ka'b because the latter had "provoked [the] Quraysh against Muhammad" by bewailing Quraysh victims of the Battle in a poem, returning shortly thereafter to Medina to composed amatory verses of an insulting nature about the Muslim women.[4]:18–19[2][6]

Ibn Hisham's biography of Muhammad reports Ka'b as saying "By Allah, if Muhammad has indeed struck down those people, then it were better to be buried in the earth than to walk upon it!"[6]

Other sources state that the reason for killing of Ka'b was that he had plotted with a group of Jews to kill Muhammad. The writings of the later commentators such as al-Zamakhshari, al-Tabarsi, al-Razi, al-Baydawi, and al-Asqalani provide another distinct report according to which Ka'b was killed because Gabriel had informed Muhammad about a treaty signed by himself and Aba Sufyan creating an alliance between the Quraysh and forty Jews against Muhammad during Ka'b's visit to Mecca.[2]:66[8] According to Uri Rubin, some allusions to the existence of an anti-Muslim treaty between Quraysh and Ibn al-Ashraf may be found in the earlier sources.[2]:65–71

On some accounts, Huyayy bin Akhtab of Banu Nadir tribe had earlier refused to pay blood money for the murder of two Muslims and Abd-Allah bin Ubayy had planned along with allied nomads to attack Muhammad.[4]:211–212 Muhammad besieged the Banu Nadir and ordered the tribe to leave Medina within ten days. The tribe at first decided to comply, but certain people from Medina who were not believers offered to help Banu al-Nadir fight the Muslims.[9] Huyayy ibn Akhtab, despite opposition from within the tribe, decided to fight, a fight which ended with their surrender although they were allowed to leave and take what possessions they could carry on their camels, with the exception of their weapons which they had to leave behind.[10]

Further reading[edit]

Ehsan Roohi, The Murder of the Jewish Chieftain Ka‘b b. al-Ashraf: A Re-examination, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society , Volume 31 , Issue 1 , January 2021 , pp. 103 - 124

Esat Ayyıldız, Ka‘b b. el-Eşref’in Arap-Yahudi Edebiyatındaki Şiirleri, Güncel Filoloji Çalışmaları, Lyon: Livre de Lyon, 2020. s.1-28.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ibn Sallâm al-Jumahî [fr] quotes his name among eight names of Arab poets of Jewish religion, in his Tabaqat ashooara.[citation needed]
  2. ^ a b c d Rubin, Uri (1990). "The Assassination of Kaʿb b. al-Ashraf". Oriens. 32: 66. doi:10.2307/1580625. JSTOR 1580625.
  3. ^ a b  Gottheil, Richard; Hirschfeld, Hartwig (1904). "Ka'b ibn al-Ashraf". In Singer, Isidore; et al. (eds.). The Jewish Encyclopedia. 7. New York: Funk & Wagnalls. p. 400.
  4. ^ a b c Montgomery Watt, W. (1956). Muhammad at Medina. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. OCLC 458879357.
  5. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:270
  6. ^ a b c Stillman, Norman (1979). The Jews of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book. Jewish Publication Society (Translation of Ibn Hisham's al-Sira al-Nabawiyya). Jewish Publication Society. pp. 124–127. ISBN 978-0-8276-0116-1.
  7. ^ a b Montgomery Watt, W. "Ka'b ibn al-Ashraf". Encyclopaedia of Islam (Online ed.). Brill Academic Publishers. ISSN 1573-3912.
  8. ^ Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (2005). "Fath al-Bari". Kitab al-Maghazi (in Arabic). 9. Dar Taybah. p. 96. وأخرج ابن عائذ من طريق الكلبي أن كعب بن الأشرف قدم على مشركي قريش فحالفهم عند أستار الكعبة على قتال المسلمين
  9. ^ "The earliest biography of Muhammad, by Ibn Ishaq". Archived from the original on 25 June 2004.
  10. ^ Montgomery Watt, W. "Nadir, Banu 'l". Encyclopaedia of Islam (Online ed.). Brill Academic Publishers. ISSN 1573-3912.