Can you give a detailed information about the jew tribe Banu Qurayza ?

The Details of the Question

As I know the men of this tribe were killed , yet I want to know why. Can you give a detailed information please ?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The Expedition of Sons of Qurayza

According to the treaty between Sons of Qurayza Jews and the Prophet, Sons of Qurayza Jews were supposed to defend Madinah, which was besieged by the enemy, together with Muslims during the Battle of Khandaq.[1]However, they did not do so; besides, they collaborated with the polytheists during the most critical point of the battle by violating the articles of the treaty. They insulted the delegates that the Prophet had sent to investigate the claims and to make peace by saying, “Who is the Messenger of Allah? We have no agreement or treaty with Muhammad.” They even said bad words against the Prophet.[2]What is more, they attacked on Madinah and tried to kill the Muslim women and children. Thus, they worried and panicked Muslims more than the worry about the battle. It was a clear betrayal and gratitude against the Prophet, who had treated them favorably.  

As a result of the Battle of Khandaq, the enemy army that consisted of ten thousand people was defeated heavily and had to retreat. Sons of Qurayza, who had supported the polytheists during the battle also retreated and took shelter in their strong castle, which was two hours away from Madinah, with disappointment. 

They were aware of their treacherous act. Therefore, they were worried that the Messenger of Allah would walk against them.

The Order Brought by Gabriel

As a matter of fact, the Muslims had just returned to Madinah. Gabriel gave the Messenger of Allah the following order:

“O Muhammad! Allah orders you to walk against Sons of Qurayza.”[3]

The Messenger of Allah had just taken off his armor and weapons and cleaned them. He summoned Bilal at once and told him to make the following announcement:

“Those who hear and obey the order of Allah have to perform the afternoon prayer in the land of Sons of Qurayza.”[4]

The Muslims who heard this call came together at once.

The Prophet gave the standard to Hazrat Ali and sent him before the army. He appointed Abdullah b. Umm Mak­tum as his deputy in Madinah.[5]

The Islamic army consisted of three thousand people. There were thirty-six cavalrymen among them. The army set off in order to punish Sons of Qurayza Jews, who violated the treaty they had signed with the Messenger of Allah in the most critical point of the battle, who betrayed Muslims and collaborated with the enemy.   

Hazrat Ali Arrives at the Land of Sons of Qurayza

Hazrat Ali, who had set off before the army, approached the castle of Sons of Qurayza and put the standard near the castle. Meanwhile, he heard some nasty words from Jews. Sons of Qurayza cursed the Prophet and talked against him. Thus, they made it clear that they did not regret the betrayal they had committed.

Hazrat Ali gave the standard to another Companion and returned. He met the Prophet on the way. He did not want the Prophet to hear those words and to grieve.

He said, “O Messenger of Allah! Is it not better for you not to approach those evil men?”

The Messenger of Allah asked, “Why not?”

Hazrat Ali kept silent because he felt ashamed to report the words he had heard from Jews.

The Prophet said, “You probably heard some words that would depress me from them.” He said,  “Yes, O Messenger of Allah!”

Thereupon, the Prophet said,

“The Prophet Moses heard worse words and felt very depressed. Go! If those enemies of Allah see me, they will not be able to utter any of those bad words.”[6]

The Prophet Talks to Sons of Qurayza Jews

The Messenger of Allah approached the castle of Sons of Qurayza Jews with the mujahids; he mentioned all of the names of Jewish notables and said to them, “O the brothers of those who were affected by the wrath of Allah and were turned to monkeys! Did Allah make you despicable and send His punishment down to you? You uttered bad words about me. Is that right?His His”

The notables of Jews became as timid as a mouse. They denied having uttered those words by saying,

“O Aba’l-Qasim! You were not a person who did not know what he said. We swear by the Torah that was sent to Moses that we did not utter any bad words against you.”[7]

Sons of Qurayza are Besieged

Sons of Qurayza Jews committed crimes over crimes. Instead of welcoming the Prophet and the mujahids, they talked against them and uttered bad words. It showed that they would not surrender and that they would resist.  

Thereupon, the Prophet ordered the mujahids to shoot arrows at them first. The mujahids started to shoot arrows at them. Sons of Qurayza started to shoot arrows from the castle at the Muslims. Thus, Sons of Qurayza were besieged.

The Munafiqs Encourage Sons of Qurayza

The munafiqs who seemingly supported the Messenger of Allah and the Muslims, and who actually collaborated with the enemies of Islam secretly sent some news to Sons of Qurayza Jews during the siege and said to them,

“Do not surrender! Even if they say, ‘Leave Madinah’, do not leave! If you keep fighting by rejecting their offer, we promise to help you with our bodies and weapons.”

Naturally, this secret news encouraged Sons of Qurayza. They continued resisting. 

They Become Tired of the Siege and Ask for Peace

The Prophet did not end the siege despite everything. He encouraged Muslims to make jihad and put up with troubles through his talks.

When Sons of Qurayza Jews saw that the siege prolonged, they started to get bored and tired. When no help arrived from the munafiqs, they were demoralized. They got very scared. Thereupon, they wanted to negotiate. The Messenger of Allah accepted their wish to negotiate. 

They sent Nabbash b. Qays to talk to the Prophet.

Nabbash said, “O Muhammad! Do not shed our blood like Sons of Nadr when they surrendered. Take our goods and weapons. Let us leave with our wives and children. Let each family take as many goods as a camel can carry with them except weapons.”

The Prophet said, “No! I will not accept this offer!”

Thereupon, Nabbash made another offer: “Then, do not shed our blood. Let us take our wives and children, and go. We will leave all of our goods to you.”

The Prophet said, “No! You have nothing to do but to surrender without any conditions!”

Nabbash returned to his tribe in a very bad and hopeless state. He told them about the talk between him and the Prophet.

The Offers of Ka’b b. Asad

Ka’b b. Asad was one of the leaders of Sons of Qurayza Jews. He understood the situation clearly after all those incidents. He said,

“O Jews! You see that you are face to face with a disaster. I will present three offers. You can accept any of them.”

Sons of Qurayza Jews asked curiously, “What are they?”

Ka’b started to present his offers:

“My first offer: Let us obey this man and accept his prophethood!

By Allah, you all know that he is the prophet whose attributes are written in our book, which was sent by Allah. If you believe in him, your blood, goods, wives and children will be saved.

The only reason why you do not obey him, is the jealousy you feel and the fact that he is not from Sons of Israel. However, it is something that Allah knows.

Do you not remember what Ibn Hirash told you when he came over to you. Had he not said, ‘I left Damascus, where there are all kinds of food and drinks, and came here, where there is only water dates and barley’ When he was asked, ‘what do you mean?’, he said, ‘A prophet will emerge in Makkah. If I am alive then, I will obey him and help him. If he comes after I die, do not try to deceive him! Obey him and be his friends and helpers.’?”

Sons of Qurayza Jews said, “No! We will not obey anyone who is not from one of us. We are a group that has a book!”

When Ka’b saw that nobody accepted this offer, he made his second offer:

“Then, this is my second offer: Let us kill our children and wives so that there will be nothing that will prevent us. Then let us draw our swords and attack Muhammad and his Companions. Let us continue to fight him until Allah decides between us. If we die, there will be no generation after us; if we defeat them, we will marry again and bring up children.”

Sons of Qurayza Jews did not accept this offer, either.

Thereupon, Ka’b made his third offer:

“This is my third offer: Tonight is Sabt (Saturday night). Muhammad and his Companions are sure that we will not do anything against them tonight; they might be heedless. Then, let us go out and attack them. We can kill them suddenly!”

Sons of Qurayza Jews answered this offer as follows:

“How can we violate the prohibition of working on Sabt? How can we do something that nobody except those who were transformed to monkeys and pigs due to their disrespect to the day of Sabt did?”

After those talks, Ka’b’s last words were:

“None of you has ever had even one night with precautions and right views from the day he was born up to now!”[8]

Then, a disagreement and disorder started among them. On the other hand, woman and children started to cry. They could not put up with their crying. They regretted what they had done.

Asad and Tha’laba from Sons of Sa’ya Embrace Islam

Meanwhile, Tha’laba and Asad b. Sa’ya, two brothers, stood up and gave Sons of Qurayza some advice: “O Sons of Qurayza! By Allah, you know very well that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. Both our scholars and the scholars of Sons of Nadr told us about his attributes. One of them is Ibn Hayyiban, whom we all love. When he was about to die, he told us about the attributes of that prophet. ”

Sons of Qurayza Jews said, “No! He is not the prophet that will come.” They denied the truth deliberately.

However, the two brothers did not give up their views. They repeated their views recklessly.

They said, “By Allah! He has the attributes of the prophet to come! Fear Allah and believe in Him.”[9]

Sons of Qurayza Jews had become the captives of their jealousy. They did not want to approve the prophethood of our Prophet.

Thereupon, Tha’laba and Asad, the two brothers, and Asad b. Ubayd, their cousin, left the castle and embraced Islam.[10]

Ibn Hayyiban was a Jew from Damascus. He was a scholar. Two years before the emergence of Islam, he was a guest of Sons of Nadr Jews. After living there for a while, he became very ill. When he realized that he was going to die, he said, “O Jews! Do you know why I came here?”

They said, “You know it better.”

Thereupon, Ibn Hayyiban told them why he had come.

“I came here to see the prophet whose time of emergence has approached and who will migrate here. I hope he will emerge soon and I will obey him. O Jews! You must obey him before everybody else.”[11]

Ibn Hayyiban, who gave the glad tidings of the emergence of the Prophet in his death bed, died before he attained what he had expected.[12]

Appointing an Arbitrator

After the siege that lasted for twenty-five nights, Sons of Qurayza Jews accepted to surrender realizing that they had nothing else to do. They asked the Prophet to appoint an arbitrator to decide about them. The Messenger of Allah said, “Choose anyone from my Companions as an arbitrator.”

Sons of Qurayza Jews said, “We will accept what Sa’d b. Muadh will decide.”

The Prophet said, “All right! Accept what Sa’d b. Muadh will decide.”[13]

Hazrat Sa’d b. Muadh, who had been wounded during the Battle of Khandaq, was in a tent in Masjid an-Nabawi for his treatment. The Muslims of Aws fetched him to the presence of the Messenger of Allah.

The Prophet said, “O Sa’d! They accepted to agree with the decision you will make. Now, tell me about your decision regarding them.”

Sa’d said, “O Messenger of Allah! I know very well that Allah ordered you what to do to them. Do what Allah ordered you to do.”

The Prophet said, “Yes, you are right, but tell me about your decision regarding them.”

Sa’d said, “O Messenger of Allah! I fear that I cannot make a decision that will be in accordance with the judgment of Allah.”

The Prophet insisted: “Make your decision about them.”[14]

Sons of Qurayza Jews were the allies of the Aws tribe in the past. Therefore, Sa’d wanted to obtain a promise from them. He asked the Aws tribe,

“Do you promise me by the name of Allah that you will accept the decision I will make about Sons of Qurayza?”

They said, “Yes, we do.”

Sa’d had to ask the Prophet about the issue since he was the arbitrator. Meanwhile, the Prophet was sitting somewhere together with some Companions. Due to his respect toward the Prophet, Sa’d felt ashamed to mention his name and to ask him directly. He turned his face to another direction and asked, “Does that person sitting there promise me by the name of Allah that he will accept the decision I will make?”

The Messenger of Allah said, “Yes...”

Upon the order of Sa’d, Sons of Qurayza Jews came out of their castles, left their weapons and surrendered.

Judgment

Sa’d b. Muadh expressed his judgment as follows:

“I decided that the males who reached the age of puberty would be killed, that their goods would be distributed among Muslims and their women and children would be held as captives.”

The Prophet congratulated Sa’d on making this decision and said, “You have made a decision that is in accordance with what Allah ordered over the seven skies.”[15]

Indeed, the judgment Sa’d b. Muadh made about Sons of Qurayza Jews was in accordance with the judgment of the Shariah of Hazrat Moses. This judgment is stated in the Old Testament as follows:

“When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies. This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.”[16]

Sons of Qurayza Jews had to agree with the punishment they were given in accordance with the judgment in the Torah.

Upon the order of the Prophet, the hands of all of the males that reached the age of puberty were tied. Their goods were gathered in a place. The tied males, their goods and sheep were taken to Madinah. The booty was put in a house. The sheep were left to graze. Then, one-fifth of the booty was left to the Treasure. The remaining booty was shared among the mujahids.

As a necessity of the judgment, the males were killed. A woman called Nubata, who had martyred a Companion by throwing a stone at him from the castle during the siege, was also killed.

Meanwhile, a few Jews were forgiven. They had done some favors for Muslims beforehand. The Companions that they had helped asked the Messenger of Allah to forgive them and he forgave them.

Thus, the neighborhoods around Madinah were cleared of harmful elements. The Messenger of Allah and Muslims lived in peace and tranquility, without any wars for a long time after this incident.

FOOTNOTES

[1]Ibn Hisham, Sirah, Vol. 2, p. 147-148.

[2]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 233; Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, Vol. 2, p. 74; Muslim, Sahih, Vol. 3, p. 1389.

[3]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 244.

[4]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 244-245; Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 74.

[5]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 74.

[6]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 245; Ibn Kathir, Sirah, Vol. 3, p. 228; Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 77.

[7]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 245.

[8]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 246-247.

[9]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 228; Ibn Hajar, al-Isaba, Vol. 1, p. 33.

[10]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 227-228.

[11]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 228.

[12]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 228.

[13]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 351; Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 422.

[14]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 424-425.

[15]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 251; Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 426; Tabari, Tarikh, Vol. 3, p. 56.

[16]the Torah, Deuteronomy, 20, 10-15.

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