Kab bin Ashraf, the Poet, is Killed

(3rd Year of the Migration /AD 624)

Ka’b b. Ashraf was an ambitious Jew and a famous poet. He often satirized the Prophet and Muslims especially after the victory of the Muslims in the Battle of Badr due to his jealousy and enmity. He often went to Makkah, provoked the polytheists against Muslims, recited laments and tried to arouse their feelings of vengeance and enmity. He acted insolently in Madinah and said bad things about the daughters and wives of the Muslims.

We had mentioned before that poetry and rhetoric played an important role in the life of Arabs. The poetry of that day was as influential as the media of today. Therefore, the enmity of this Jewish poet against Islam spread to other people. Therefore, the Messenger of God heeded the poems of this inauspicious man and sought ways of coping with his poems. 

We learn from the resources that Ka’b did not find it enough to work against Islam with his poetry; he also set up a plan to kill the Prophet.

The body of such a man was fully harmful for Islam. Therefore, it was necessary to eliminate him.

With the permission of the Messenger of God, Muhammad b. Maslama and two or three more Companions undertook the duty of killing Ka’b. One night, they went to his house and killed him.[1]

The murder of a famous person like Ka’b b. Ashraf caused a great panic among Jews. Some people from his tribe went to the presence of the Messenger of God and said that Ka’b was innocent and that he did not deserve to be killed. The Messenger of God answered them as follows:

“He satirized us and oppressed Muslims with his tongue; he also encouraged the polytheists to fight us.”[2]

After this incident, Jews, who were famous for causing mischief and unrest in history, started to act respectfully and softly to a certain extent toward the Prophet and Muslims. They did not insult or provoke openly but they never gave up mischief-making, which was part of their nature, openly or secretly. 


(3rd Year of the Migration, the month of Rabiulawwal)

The Victory of Badr made the neighboring Arab tribes that had not signed a peace treaty with Muslims brood over the situation. They were worried that the Muslims, who had become very strong, would attack them. Therefore, there were some activities in the neighboring Arab tribes after the Battle of Badr. One of the expeditions that took place as a result of those activities is the Expedition of Ghatafan or Anmar. 

Du’thur b Harith (also known as Ghawrath), one of the brave people of Sons of Muharib, decided to make a raid on Madinah with many people from Sons of Tha’laba and Sons of Muharib that belonged to the tribe of Ghatafan. Their aim was to intimidate the Muslims and to plunder things around Madinah.[3]

The Messenger of God heard about their preparation. He left Uthman b. Affan as his deputy in Madinah and walked toward the plunderers with four hundred and fifty people, among whom were some cavaliers. However, when the plunderers heard that the Prophet was coming, they escaped and took shelter behind the hills. Nobody was seen around when Muslims arrived. Only a person called Jabir from Sons of Thalaba was captivated. He told them about what had happened. Then, Jabir was invited to Islam and he became a Muslim.[4]

Assassination Attempt by Ghawrath

Finding out that the plunderers took refuge behind the hills, the Prophet found it appropriate to wait there for a while. While they were waiting, it started to rain. The clothes of the Prophet got wet. He hung his clothes on a branch of a tree to dry them. He lay down under the tree in order to rest for a while.

Those who wanted to make a raid were watching the Prophet from the hill. When they noticed that the Prophet took of his armor and started to lie down under the tree alone, they informed Ghawrath, their leader, about the situation happily. 

“This is an unmissable opportunity! Muhammad has left his Companions and he is alone. We will kill him before his Companions come and try to protect him!”

Ghawrath took action at once. He approached the Prophet without being seen by anybody. He drew his sword and said to the Prophet,

“Who will save you from me?”

The Messenger of God said, “God!” and then prayed as follows: 

“O God! Protect me from his harms!”

Ghawrath received a blow in the middle of his shoulders from nowhere. His sword fell out of his hand and he fell down on the ground.

This time, the Messenger of God picked up the sword and said, “Who will save you from me now?”

Ghawrath said, “Nobody!” Then he said, “I witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger. I will never gather anybody against you from now on.”

Thereupon the Messenger of God forgave Ghawrath. While returning, Ghawrath turned toward the Messenger of God and said, “By God, you are better than me!”

The Prophet said, “I definitely deserve this more than you do.”

When Ghawrath, who was very brave and courageous, returned to his tribe like that, they asked, “What happened to you? Why did you not do anything?”

Ghawrath told them what had happened and said, “By God, I am coming from near the best man in the world!”[5]

After the expedition that lasted about a month, the Messenger of God returned to Madinah.[6]


(3rd Year of the Migration, the month of Jumada al-akhir)

When the Prophet dominated the land around, the polytheists had to change their trade ways. The trade way to Damascus through the coast became risky; so, they preferred going to Damascus through Iraq because it was safer.

They sent a caravan to Damascus through that way. Saf­wan b. Umayya and Abdullah b. Abi Rabia, two notables of the the Quraysh, were among the people in the caravan.

There was a twist of fate... One of the polytheists came to Madinah and stayed in the house of a Jew. Maybe he came to set up a plan against Muslims or to inform them about a plan they had set up. They drank, chatted and had fun. Meanwhile, the polytheist unintentionally said that the caravan had been sent to Damascus via Iraq. Meanwhile, Salit b. Nu­man was passing by. He heard the news and told the Messenger of God about it.

It was winter.

The Prophet prepared a company of cavaliers consisting of a hundred people. He appointed Zayd b. Haritha as their commander. Zayd, who had been bought as a slave from the market and adopted by the Prophet, became the commander of a company of a hundred cavaliers. It is a wonderful example showing that Islam did not discriminate between the rich and the poor, the slave and the master while appointing people to posts and that it took worthiness into consideration, acting justly.  

The aim of the sariyyah was to catch the caravan.

Zayd b. Haritha set off with the cavalrymen and blocked the way of the Quraysh caravan. The people in caravan encountered something that they had not expected. They had nothing else to do but run away. They did so. They left everything to save their lives.

Zayd took their goods to the Messenger of God in Madinah. One fifth of the goods was given to the Treasure and the remaining four-fifths were divided among the mujahids that were in the sariyyah.  

Furat b. Hayyan, the guide of the caravan, had been taken captive. When he arrived in Madinah, he was told that he would be set free if he became a Muslim. He became a Muslim and was saved.[7]

The Prophet congratulated Zayd b. Haritha on his success by saying, “Zayd b. Haritha is the best one of the sariyyah commanders.[8]

That sariyyah is known as Zayd b. Haritha referring to its commander.[9]



[1]Ibn Hisham, Sirah, Vol. 3, p. 58-59; Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, Vol. 2, p. 33.

[2]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 34.

[3]Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, Vol. 2, p. 34.

[4]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 34.

[5]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 35; Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, Vol. 3, p. 365; Qadi Iyad, ash-Shifa, Vol. 1, p. 81; Badiuzzaman Said Nursi, Mektûbat, p. 161.

[6]Ibn Hisham, Sirah, Vol. 3, p. 46; Tabari, Tarikh, Vol. 3, p. 2.

[7]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 36.

[8]Suyuti, Jamiu’s-Saghir, Vol. 2, p. 10.

[9]Ibn Hisham, Sirah, Vol. 3, p. 53.

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