The Expedition of Sons of Nadr


(4th Year of the Migration, the month of Rabiulawwal / 625)

Sons of Nadr were a rich and strong Jewish tribe that descended from the lineage of Hazrat Harun (Aaron) (pbuh). They lived in strong castles two hours away from Madinah. They had signed a treaty with the Messenger of God stating that they would not take part in any activities against Muslims, that they would not help any enemies of Muslims and that they would contribute to the ransoms to be paid.[1]However, they did not give up cooperating with the Qurayshi polytheists and Madinah munafiqs secretly. They increased their relationship with the polytheists and munafiqs especially after the Battle of Uhud.

As we have mentioned above, Amr b. Umayya had killed two people from the tribe of Amir by mistake. According to the treaty signed by Sons of Nadr Jews, they had to contribute to the ransom to be paid for those two people.

The Prophet (pbuh) went to the place of Sons of Nadr with Hazrat Abu Ba­kr, Umar, Ali, Zubayr b. Awwam, Talha b. Ubaydullah, Sa’d b. Muadh and Usayd b. Khu­dayr (may God be pleased with them) to demand a contribution to be paid as blood money and to find out how loyal they were to the treaty.

They welcomed the Prophet nicely and said that they were glad that the Prophet and his friends came to see them; they stated clearly that they would fulfill their duty.[2]

The Prophet sat near the wall of a house with his Companions.

The Jews, who welcomed the Prophet seemingly nicely, started to whisper among them:

 “Never would you get such a golden chance. If one of us drops a rock on him from the top of the house, we shall get rid of him.” Then they asked, “Who will do it?”

Amr b. Jihhash came to the front and said, “I will do it!”[3]

Meanwhile, Sallam b. Mishkam, one of the notables said, “O my tribesmen! Obey me this time; then, oppose me after that whenever you want.”

He added, “I swear by God that if you try to do something like that, he will be informed about it by revelation. It will be very bad for us. It will be regarded as violating the treaty between us and him. Please give up that decision. If you try to do it, it will mean the end of Jews and the elevation of Islam till the Day of Judgment!”[4]

Jews, who were famous for betraying prophets, did not give up this decision. Meanwhile, Amr b. Jihhash, who undertook the duty of dropping rocks on him, went up to the roof. 

Gabriel Informs the Prophet about the Situation

Just then, Gabriel arrived and told the Prophet about the assassination attempt and the betrayal. The Messenger of God stood up and pretended as if he was going to go to the toilet and set off for Madinah. The Companions waited there for some time for him to return. When they realized that he would not come, they left the place.

A Jewish Person Warns his Tribe

Kinana b. Suriya, one of the Jews asked his tribesmen, “Do you know why Muhammad left?”

They said, “No. if you know, tell us about it.”

Kinana started to speak:

“I swear by the Torah that I know that Muhammad was informed about the assassination you planned! Do not deceive yourselves in vain. I swear by God that he is the Messenger of God and the last Prophet! He left because he was informed about the assassination you planned. You expected him to come from the descent of the Prophet Aaron. We wrote clearly in the Torah: ‘The birthplace of the last Prophet to come is Makkah; the place he will migrate to is Yathrib (Madinah)’. The properties of the last Prophet comply with that definition. There is nothing contrary to his properties in our book. There will be nobody to fight you before him. I imagine seeing you loading your possessions on camels and migrate, hearing the screams of your children and seeing you leaving your property behind and leave! Obey me in two things and know that the third is no good for you!”

The Jews asked, “What are they?”

Kinana said, “Embrace Islam and join the Companions of Muhammad! Only in this way can you secure your children and possessions, reach salvation and avoid being expelled from your land and home!”

However, the Jews said, “We shall not leave the Torah and the oath of Moses.”[5]

The Prophet Sends a Messenger to Sons of Nadr Telling them“To Leave their Land”

The assassination attempt planned by the Jews of Sons of Nadr showed clearly that they were not friends of Islam and Muslims and that they did not remain loyal to the treaty they made with the Prophet. Therefore, the Prophet assumed a very definite attitude against them.

He called Muhammad b. Maslama and said to him,

“Go to the Jews of Sons of Nadr! Tell them, ‘the Messenger of God sent me to tell you to leave this land and not to live in the same place as him because you planned an assassination to kill him. You have ten days. If any of you is seen here after ten days, they will be killed’”[6]

Muhammad b. Maslama went to the land of the Sons of Nadr. Before telling them about the order of the Prophet, he said,

“Tell me the truth for the sake of God, who sent the Torah to Moses: Before Muhammad was sent as a prophet and when the Torah was in front of you, I came to you and you offered me to embrace Judaism; I said to you, ‘I will never embrace Judaism’. You said to me, “What prevents you from embracing our religion? There is no religion other than Judaism. It is the same religion as the religion of Hanif that you are seeking and you have heard. The Prophet that will come to you has a shariah and he is a warrior. There is a slight red mark in his eye. He will come from the direction of Yemen; he will ride a camel, wear an ihram (cloak), find it sufficient to have a bone with little meat, have his sword hanging on from his neck and speak wisely.’ Did you not say so?”

Sons of Nadr Jews said, “Yes, we said so but he is not the Prophet that we told you about!”

Then, Muhammad b. Maslama told them about the order of the Prophet.

Sons of Nadr realized that the assassination attempt cost them dearly but it was too late now. They had nothing else to do but act in accordance with the Prophet’s order. They said to Muhammad b. Mas­lama, “We will migrate” and started to make preparations.  

The Message Sent by the Leader of Munafiqs

Meanwhile they received a message from Abdullah b. Ubay. The message was as follows: 

“Do not leave your property by migrating from your land! Stay in your castle. I will send two thousand people from my tribe and other Arab tribes to help you. They will fight together with you until they die. Besides, the Jews of Sons of Qurayza will help you!”[7]

Sons of Nadr Jews Challenge Arrogantly

Upon the message sent by Abdullah b. Ubay, the leader of munafiqs, Sons of Nadr gave up migrating. They sent a message to the Prophet: “We shall not leave our land. Do whatever you can!”[8]

It was a clear and arrogant challenge.

When the Prophet received their message, he called out, “Allahu Akbar!” The Muslims called out together with him.  

Sallam b. Mishkam Warns Huyay b. Ahtab

One of the most effective people who led Sons of Nadr Jews to such a dangerous adventure was Huyay b. Ahtab. He said the following to console his tribe:

“We will stock many goods and take shelter in our castle. We will guard the big gates and streets. We will carry stones to our castle. We have enough food that will last for a year. We have enough water, too!”

Another prominent figure of Jews was Sallam b. Mishkam. He opposed the idea. He said, “O Huyay! Your soul deceives you through useless things and makes you feel conceited. Stop it. We all know it that Muhammad is the Messenger of God. His attributes are written in our books. We do not obey him because we are jealous of him and because we expected the last Prophet to appear among the sons of Aaron. Let us accept the pardon given to us and leave our land. If Muhammad walks against us, he will besiege us in one day in this castle”

Huyay, who was a conceited person, would not give up his thought. He said to Sallam, “Muhammad cannot besiege us! He will not be able to beat us; he will return. Ab­dul­lah b. Ubay promised me many things.”

Sallam knew that what they were going to do was dangerous; he repeated his warning: “What Ab­dullah b. Ubay says is not valid. He wants to drag you to the precipice of destruction and to make us fight Muhammad. After making us fight, he will return home and sit!”

Huyay b. Ahtab did not heed his warning; he insisted on his conceit, which would make him repent.[9]

Sons of Nadr are Besieged

It was the 4th year of the Migration, the month of Rabi’ul‐Awwal.

The Messenger of God appointed Abdullah b. Umm Maktum as his deputy in Madinah and set off to the land of Sons of Nadr. Hazrat Ali was carrying the standard. 

The Messenger of God performed the afternoon prayer among the vineyards and gardens of Sons of Nadr. He besieged them. Sons of Nadr took refuge in their strong castles.

The Prophet repeated his order again: “Leave Madinah!”

Sons of Nadr did not accept this offer. They said, “Death is easier for us than what you offer. We will risk death but will not accept your offer!”, challenging the Prophet.  

There was nothing left to do but to fight them. However, they had taken refuge in their strong castles and they did not face leaving their castles and fighting; so the fight would be very difficult. Therefore, the Messenger of God did not find it appropriate to fight; he applied a war plan by the permission of God. He ordered his soldiers to demolish the nearest Jewish houses and castles, and to burn and cut the palm trees. He aimed to force the Jews to leave the castle and fight against them.

When the Jews saw that their houses were being demolished, they shouted, “O Muhammad! You used to forbid mischief; why do you get palm trees cut off and burned?”[10]

Those who spent all of their lives with mischief started to say that cutting of trees was a mischief. Their shouting caused some Muslims to hesitate. Thereupon, the verse that was sent down clarified the issue: “Whether ye cut down (o ye Muslims!) the tender palm-trees, or ye left them standing on their roots, it was by leave of God, and in order that He might cover with shame the rebellious transgressors.”[11]

When the verse was sent down, the hesitations and worries of the Muslims were eliminated.

Acting upon this event and the verse, the scholars stated that all kinds of green trees could be cut down as a necessity of the war.[12]

Munafiqs Send a Message to Jews: “Resist!”

The besiege was going on.

Meanwhile, the munafiqs and especially Abdullah b. Ubay, their leader, sent a message to Sons of Nadr Jews:  “if you resist Muslims and fight against them, we will not surrender you to them. If you are expelled from your land, we will go out with you.”

Sons of Nadr Jews believed the words of munafiqs and resisted for a while.

The Explanation of the Quran

Those acts of the munafiqs, who always caused mischief, were described as follows in the Quran:

“Hast thou not observed the Hypocrites say to their misbelieving brethren among the People of the Book?― "If ye are expelled, We too will go out with you and we will never hearken to anyone in your affair; and if ye are attacked (in fight), we will help you." But God is witness that they are indeed liars.

If they are expelled never will they go out with them; and if they are attacked (in fight), they will never help them; and if they do help them, they will turn their backs; so they will receive no help.”[13]

They Deem it Obligatory to Surrender and Ask for Pardon

It was the 15th day of the siege.

When Sons of Nadr Jews saw that the help promised by Abdullah b. Ubay and others did not come, they decided to surrender and ask for pardon.

The Prophet pardoned them and did not punish any of them. He let them go by allowing them to load as much of their possessions as they could, except their arms, on their camels and then leave.

Acting upon the permission of the Prophet, they loaded their goods on six hundred camels as much as they could. They demolished their own houses that were sound so that Muslims would not live there. Their women put on their best clothes and their jewels to show that they did not feel depressed due to this event. They left Madinah by playing their tambourines and blowing their whistles. Some of them went to the direction of Damascus, some to Khaybar and some to Yemen.

The Possessions They Left

When Sons of Nadr Jews left Madinah, they left behind many date groves, crops, property, sheep, cattle and horses and other animals. They also left fifty armors, three hundred and forty swords.[14]

All of those things belonged to the Prophet as the head of the state because they had been obtained without fighting, without riding horses or camels. They are called “fay”. Fay is the property that was obtained from the enemy through banishment or imposing tax without fighting and  that God allocated to the Prophet. The Prophet was free to use that property as he wished.

This issue is stated in the Quran as follows:

“What God has bestowed on His Messenger (and taken away) from them― for this ye made no expedition with either cavalry or camelry: but God gives power to His messengers over any He pleases: and God has power over all things..”[15]

The Ansar, who were the natives of Madinah, had undertaken the sustenance of the muhajirs; they had shared their possessions with them. Therefore, the sustenance of the muhajirs was regarded as a burden on them.

The Messenger of God wanted to divide the fay among the muhajirs in order to relieve the burden of the Ansar. Therefore, he called them and said to them, “I can divide the goods of Sons of Nadr Jews that God gave me among you and the muhajirs if you want. In this case, the muhajirs will go on living in your houses and sharing your things. Or, I can divide those goods among the muhajirs only; in that case, they will leave your houses and you will not have to share your things with them.”

The Muslims of Madinah heartily said, “O Messenger of God! Divide the goods of Sons of Nadr among the muhajirs but let them live with us in our houses. You can also give from our goods to them as much as you want!”[16]

Hazrat Abu Bakr stood up. After thanking his Ansar brothers, he said, “May God reward you. I swear by God that there are no people like you and us in the world.”

The Prophet prayed for the Ansar as follows: “O God! Protect the Ansar and their children; show mercy on them!”[17]

Due to that noble and chivalrous act of Madinah Muslims, the following verse was sent down: 

“And those who before them, had homes (in Medina) and had adopted the Faith― show their affection to such as came to them for refuge, and entertain no desire in their hearts for things given to the (latter), but give them preference over themselves even though poverty was their (own lot).[18] And those saved from the covetousness of their own souls, they are the ones that achieve prosperity.”[19]

The Ansar, who were the natives of Madinah, attained the consent of both the Messenger of God and God Almighty due to their behavior.

Thereupon, the Prophet divided the goods of Sons of Nadr among the mujahids only as God Almighty advised in the verse[20]. Thus, he enabled them to stand on their own feet without needing the help of the Ansar.

Apart from the muhajirs, the Prophet also gave some goods to Abu Dujana and Suhayl b. Hunayf from the Ansar because they were very poor.[21]


(4th Year of the Migration, the month of Jumadalawwal / 625)

It was two months after the expulsion of Sons of Nadr Jews from Madinah.

It was heard in Madinah that the tribes of Anmar and Sons of Salaba gathered in order to fight Muslims.

The Prophet immediately made preparations and left Madinah with four hundred (or seven hundred) mujahids. He proceeded to the place called Dhat ar-Riqa and set up the headquarters there.

The polytheists could not face fighting the mujahids; so, they went up to the mountain. There was only a woman left; she was held captive.

The Messenger of God waited there for a while. When the time for noon prayer started, they performed the noon prayer in the form of salat al-khawf (prayer of fear). How to perform salat al-khawf is described in verses 101-102 of the chapter of an-Nisa.  

The fact that the Messenger of God performed prayers in congregation even in the most dangerous moments shows us how important it is to perform prayers in congregation and that it must not be ignored.

A Miracle

It was during the expedition of Dhat ar-Riqa.

Ulba b. Zayd, a Companion, found three ostrich eggs and brought them to the Prophet.

The Messenger of God said, “O Jabir; cook them.”

Hazrat  Jabir cooked the eggs in a bowl and brought them.

The Prophet and the mujahids ate from that bowl until they were full but they saw that the eggs remained the same in the bowl.[22]

Mercy of God upon Believers

It was during the same expedition.

One of the Companions found a young bird. The bird’s mother or father darted into the hands of the Companion who was holding the young bird as if it was sacrificing itself. The Companions were amazed by the acts of the bird. The Messenger of God said to them: 

“Are you amazed and surprise by the act of the bird to save its young? By God, the mercy and compassion of your Lord toward you is more than the mercy and compassion of this bird toward its young!”[23]

The Complaint of the Camel

The Prophet had left Dhat ar-Riqa together with the mujahids and was heading toward Madinah. When they arrived at a place called Harra, they saw that a camel ran toward the Prophet and sat before him with respect; it moved its neck forward and talked to the Prophet.

While the mujahids were looking at them in astonishment, the Prophet said, “Do you know what this camel says? He is complaining about the oppression of its owner. It says its owner made it work for many years and now he wants to slaughter it.” Then, the Prophet told Jabir b. Abdullah to bring the owner of the camel.

When Jabir said, “O Messenger of God! I do not know the owner of the camel”, the Messenger of God said,

“The camel will take you to its owner!”

Indeed, the Prophet took Jabir to its owner as if it was ordered by the Prophet.

Hazrat Jabir said,

“I took the owner of the camel to the Prophet. The Messenger of God talked to him about the camel and said, ‘Is what the camel said true?’ The owner of the camel said, ‘Yes, o Messenger of God!...’.”[24]

The Name of the Expedition

It is stated in the resources that all of the people that took part in this expedition were infantry, that their bare feet were torn by stones and thorns, that their nails fell off and that they wrapped their feet with pieces of cloth; therefore it was given the name Dhat ar-Riqa. Riqa is the plural of “ruqa”, which means a piece of cloth sewn on a garment to cover the torn part; that is, patch.

Abu Musa al-Ash’ari says the following regarding the issue:

“We went on an expedition with the Messenger of God (pbuh). We had only one camel. We rode the camel in turns. Our feet had been pierced. Both of my feet had been pierced and my nails had fallen off. Therefore, we wrapped our feet with pieces of cloth. That expedition was called Dhat ar-Riqa since we wrapped our feet with pieces of cloth.[25]

God’s Messenger’s Miracle of Abundance

Abdullah b. Amr b. Haram, the father of Hazrat Jabir, from the Ansar, had been martyred in Uhud. He had six daughters and a lot of debt.

His creditors were Jews.

Abdullah b. Amr had two orchards with various palm trees with dates; however, their crops were not enough to pay his debt. He owed forty loads of camels of dates to only one Jew.  

When the season of dates started, the Jews started to ask for their money and urge him. Hazrat Jabir offered to give them the whole yield of his dates but they did not accept it.

Thereupon, Jabir went to the presence of the Messenger of God and said, “O Messenger of God! You know that my father was martyred on the day of Uhud. He had a lot of debt. I offered to give the whole yield of my dates to his creditors but they did not accept it.” He asked the Messenger of God to help him.

The Messenger of God talked to the creditors of Abdullah b. Amr b. Haram and offered them to give the whole yield of his date groves in return for his debt by they did not accept it. The creditors did not accept the following offer the Messenger of God, either: “Accept some of the debt this year and the rest next year.”

Thereupon, the Prophet said to Jabir, “Go now; I will come to you tomorrow before noon.”

The next day, the Prophet went to the date grove of Jabir together with Hazrat Abu Bakr and Hazrat Umar. He said to Jabir, “Go and collect your dates. Gather the good ones in one group and the rest in another group. Then, inform me about it!”

Hazrat Jabir fulfilled the order and went to the Messenger of God to inform him. Hazrat Jabir summoned his creditors, too. When they saw the Prophet, they repeated their demands.

The Messenger of God walked round the biggest dates pile three times and prayed; then, he said to Jabir, “Bring your creditors next to me.”

The creditors came. They were given dates from the dates piles in return for their credits. All of the debt was paid. 

Hazrat Jabir narrated what he had seen as follows:

“I had only wished God to pay my debt; I would be pleased to go to my sisters with only a single date after my debt was paid. However, the Messenger of God gave lots of dates to my creditors but not even one date decreased!”[26]

The Jewish creditors were astonished by what they had seen.

It was an obvious miracle of the Messenger of God!


(4th Year of the Migration, the month of Shaban / 625)

As it had been mentioned before, While Abu Sufyan was returning from Uhud, he said to Muslims, “Let us meet you in Badr next year.” Hazrat Umar had said, acting upon the order of the Messenger of God, “All right! I hope it will be the place of fighting between you and us.”[27]

One year had passed after the Battle of Uhud.

The Messenger of God started to make preparations in order to keep his promise.

On the other hand, Abu Sufyan, the leader of the Qurayshis, was continuing his preparations for the war. However, there was a big drought and famine in Makkah that year. Therefore, Abu Sufyan did not intend to fight that year though he encouraged people to do so.

The Tactic Employed by Abu Sufyan

Abu Sufyan, who wanted to give up the decision of going to Badr, wanted to prevent the Prophet and Muslims from going there; he was looking for ways of doing it. 

He met Nuaym b. Mas’­ud, who had not been a Muslim yet, in Makkah. Nuaym had come to Makkah for umrah. 

Abu Sufyan said, “O Nuaym! I had promised Muhammad and his friend to fight in Badr. Now, the time for the fight has arrived. However, there is drought and famine in Makkah now. It is not appropriate for us to fight now. Therefore, we do not want to fight Muhammad this year. If we confront him, it will increase his courage.” Thus, he expressed his intention and worry; and he made Nuaym the following offer:

“Return to Madinah at once! Tell them that I have gathered a force that cannot be resisted; dissuade them from fighting against us in Badr! If you do it, we will give you seventy grown-up camels.”[28]

Nuaym returned to Madinah at once. He started an intense propaganda in favor of the polytheists in order to obtain the prize. He kept on saying that the Qurayshis had gathered an army that cannot be resisted. When the munafiqs also supported him, the Muslims started to lax. Jews and munafiqs were delighted by the situation. They showed their joy insolently by saying,   “Muhammad cannot make anybody fight against the polytheists!”

The Final Decision of the Prophet

Hazrat Abu Bakr and Hazrat Umar informed the Prophet about the situation at once.

The decision of the Messenger of God was definite. He said, “I swear by God in whose powerful hand is my existence that I will go to Badr alone if nobody from Madinah comes with me!”[29]

Those resolute and courageous words struck like lightning in the heart of the Muslims and eliminated the fear and hesitation in their hearts by the permission of God at once.

The Messenger of God appointed Abdullah b. Rawaha as his deputy and left Madinah with one thousand and five hundred mujahids. Hazrat Ali was the standard-bearer. There were only ten cavalrymen in the army.

Mujahids also had their merchandise with them because there was a fair in the place where they were heading toward every year. The expedition coincided with the fair. If the enemy came, they would fight. If they did not come, they would do business.

The Prophet arrived in Badr with his army and started to wait. However, the enemy forces did not appear.

The army of the polytheists commanded by Abu Sufyan had two thousand soldiers; they made preparations and left Makkah but they were able to reach a place called Majinnah only. They did not have the courage to move one step further; although they outnumbered the Muslim army, they could not dare to fight Muslims. Consequently, they returned to Makkah. 

The Messenger of God stayed in Badr for eight nights.

The Arab tribes that came to visit the fair saw that the Muslims maintained their power and that they did not lose their courage and hope. The Qurayshis lost their prestige in the eye of other Arab tribes. 

When the mujahids saw that the enemy would not appear, they bought and sold things, making a lot of profit. 

After staying there for eight nights, the Prophet returned to Madinah with the mujahids happily and joyfully.

This expedition was also called the Minor Badr.


[1]Ibn Hisham, Sirah, Vol. 3, p. 199.
[2]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 199; Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, Vol. 2. p. 57.
[3]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 199; Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 57; Halabi, Insanu’l-Uyun, Vol. 2, p. 560.
[4]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 57.
[5]Waqidi, Maghazi, p. 284-285.
[6]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 57.
[7]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 57.
[8]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 57.
[9]Tabari, Tarikh, Vol. 3, p. 38.
[10]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 200.
[11]al-Hashr, 5.
[12]seeTajrid Translation, Vol. 12, p. 167.
[13]al-Hashr, 11-12.
[14]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 58.
[15]al-Hashr, 6.
[16]Ibn Sayyid, Uyun al-Athar, Vol. 2, p. 50-51.
[17]Ibn Sayyid, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 50-51.
[18]This characteristic is called isar (altruism). It means to help one's Muslim brother preferring to meet his brother's needs instead of his own needs. In other words, it means to prefer his brother to himself in terms of honor, rank, favor and things that the soul desires like material interests. The Islamic history is full of wonderful examples of altruism.
[19]al-Hashr, 9.
[20]al-Hashr, 8.
[21]Ibn Hisham, Sirah, Vol. 3, p. 201-202.
[22]Halabi, Insanu’l-Uyun, Vol. 2, p. 289.
[23]Ibn Kathir, Sirah, Vol. 3, p. 165.
[24]Halabi, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 289.
[25]Bukhari, Sahih, Vol. 3, p. 35.
[26]Bukhari, Sahih, Vol. 3, p. 84, 199; Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, Vol. 3, p. 373, 393; Badiuzzaman Said Nursi, Mektûbat, p. 120-121.
[27]Ibn Hisham, Sirah, Vol. 3, p. 99-100; Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, Vol. 2, p. 58.
[28]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 59; Tabari, Tarikh, Vol. 3, p. 41.
[29]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 59.

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