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The War of Ban£-Quray¨ah

The War of Ban£-Quray¨ah

The War of Ban£-Quray¨ah

After the retreat of the Allies, the Holy Prophet was commissioned to go after Ban£-Quray¨ah. In the evening of the next day, the Holy Prophet ordered his men to surround the stronghold of Ban£-Quray¨ah whose members were shooting from this stronghold and insulting the Holy Prophet.

After a twenty-five day siege, Ban£-Quray¨ah had to surrender. Aws who were in a military pact with Ban£-Quray¨ah asked the Holy Prophet to treat their allies the same way as he had treated Ban£-Qaynuq¡`, the Allies of Khazaraj. The Holy Prophet said, “Let your leader, Sa`d ibn Mu`¡dh, be a judge in this issue.” The people of Aws and Ban£-Quray¨ah accepted. Traditionally, Sa`d should have favored Ban£-Quray¨ah. Uninfluenced by the recommendation of his tribe, Sa`d declared that he would not fear any criticism. When he obtained the permission of both sides, he issued that men of Ban£-Quray¨ah should be killed, their women and children taken as captives and their possessions confiscated. This verdict was immediately put into action. °uyay ibn Akh§ab, the chief of Ban£’l-Na¤¢r who had encouraged Ban£-Quray¨ah to breach their pact with Muslims, was also killed. In his last moments, he was severely reproached for his acts of treason. Instead of confessing his errors and feeling remorse, he deemed the unfortunate fate of Ban£-Quray¨ah and him the result of God’s predeterminism. He addressed the Holy Prophet saying, “I do not regret my enmity to you; rather, one whom God decides to be miserable will be miserable forever.” He then turned to people and said, “We should surrender to God’s wishes; this defeat was imposed by God over the Israelites.[1]

The Holy Prophet sent a group of captives to Najd in order to buy horses and ammunitions.[2] Referring to their disastrous fate, the Holy Qur'¡n remarks:

And He drove down those of the followers of the Book who backed them from their fortresses and He cast awe into their hearts; some you killed and you took captive another part. And He made you heirs to their land and their dwellings and their property; and to a land which you have not yet trodden, and Allah has power over all things. (33: 26-27)

Analysis and Criticism

Although the details of this issue are ambiguous for historians, we will deal with two views hereinafter:

(1) Some European authors have criticized the treatment that Ban£-Quray¨ah received as barbarous and inhumane.[3] However, this criticism cannot be held considering the crimes they had committed, because they not only broke their contract with Muslims but also committed acts of treason inside Medina when they supplied the enemies with ammunition. We know that in warfare, these acts could not be pardonable.

The Holy Prophet could have punished them himself; but due to the request of the people of Aws, he accepted the judgment of Sa`d. This proposal was accepted by both Aws and Ban£-Quray¨ah. So, there is no room left for criticism.

This question still holds: Whom should be treated kindly; and where should affections be used? Should those who have bypassed human values and whose very nature is filled with hatred be eligible to receive mercy?[4] Were the Jews of Ban£’l-Na¤¢r, under the leadership of °uyay ibn Akh§ab, not pardoned? However, they did not cease conspiring against Muslims and they practically waged a war against Muslims. How could °uyay ibn Akh§ab and Ka`b ibn Asad convince others that they would neither resume their previous viciousness nor would they prepare forces to destroy Muslims? Was leniency appropriate in their case? During the siege of Medina, Ab£-Sufy¡n wrote a threatening letter to the Holy Prophet, saying:

“I swear to L¡t and `Uzz¡ that I have come here with this army to fight you. We will not need any further fight; I am determined to destroy you this time. However, if we return to Mecca, we will make for you a day like the day of U¦ud when women will not stop mourning.”[5]

If this had happened would Ban£-Quray¨ah not have cooperated with the Allies?

Sa`d’s judgment was in accordance with the commands in the Torah—whose penal laws must have been known by him—that reads:

“When you approach a city to engage in fight, first propose peace. If they open the doors to you, all of them will fall slaves to you. If they refuse to have peace, then you must fight and kill their men, take their women and children as captives, and confiscate their property.”[6]

(2) A contemporary researcher has denied the punishment of Ban£-Quray¨ah. Referring to some records, he has reckoned impossible such a severe punishment by the Holy Prophet.[7] Although his statements could be used as a protection to defend the Muslim status vis-à-vis the European and Zionist propaganda, the reasons this writer has offered are not valid.[8] In his reasoning, he has not paid attention to verse 26 of S£rah al-A¦z¡b (No. 33) which refers to this issue. Furthermore, after the Battle of the Allies (A¦z¡b), there is no mention of Ban£-Quray¨ah in historical records. If the issue of punishment had not existed, there should have been some mentions of their existence as such.

The War of Ban£’l-Mu¥§alaq

In Sha`b¡n[9] of the sixth year of Hegira, the Holy Prophet was informed that °¡rith ibn Ab¢-®ir¡r, the chief of Ban£’l-Mu¥§alaq—a branch of Ban£-Khuz¡`ah—had mobilized some men together with some Arabs of that region to attack Medina. The Holy Prophet mobilized Muslim troops and went forward as far as Musayr¢` Well[10] in the coastal areas of the Red Sea. The war took place there. Ban£’l-Mu¥§alaq were easily defeated; many captives were taken and their property was confiscated.[11]

Juwayriyah, daughter of °¡rith, was among the captives. In order to free his daughter, °¡rith met the Holy Prophet in Medina.  He embraced Islam when the Holy Prophet told him that he hid two camels which he had determined to offer to the Holy Prophet as her daughter’s ransom. The Holy Prophet first freed Juwayriyah and then married her.[12]

In honor of the Holy Prophet, Muslims made free the captives who had now become relatives by marriage of the Holy Prophet. For this reason, Juwayriyah is remembered as the Holy Prophet’s most blessed wife.[13] This marriage could be regarded as an instance of the Holy Prophet’s marriages purposed for social consequences and personal considerations



[1] For further information concerning this war, refer to the following reference books: Al-±abaq¡t al-Kubr¡ 2:74-78; T¡r¢kh al-Umam wa’l-Mul£k 3:53-58; al-Magh¡z¢ 2:496-524; al-S¢rah al-Nabawiyyah 3:244-261; Waf¡' al-Waf¡' 1:305-309; Bi¦¡r al-Anw¡r 20:233-238.

[2] Ibn Hush¡m, al-S¢rah al-Nabawiyyah 3:256; ±abar¢, T¡r¢kh al-Umam wa’l-Mul£k 3:58.

The Holy Prophet sent another group to Damascus under the leadership of Sa`d ibn `Ab¡dah. (al-W¡qid¢, al-Magh¡z¢ 2:533). For further information about the Battle of the Allies and Ban£-Quray¨ah, refer to al-M¢z¡n f¢ Tafs¢r al-Qur'¡n 16:291-303.

[3] Montgomery Watt, Mu¦ammad at Medina, pp. 327. The writer criticizes this verdict. Referring Ban£-Quray¨ah's treason, he writes, “At the Battle of the Allies and the siege of Medina, the status of Muslims was extremely perilous and there was the danger of Ban£-Quray¨ah’s joining the enemies. In that case, Muslim's conditions would have become even worse and the Islamic movement would have ceased for ever. They should have been treated kindly by Mu¦ammad.” See Mus§af¡ °usayni ±ab¡§ab¡’¢, Treason in the Historical Accounts 3:164-165.

[4] The secret reports of Ban£-Quray¨ah show their extreme aggression and obstinacy. Although one of them, together with his wife and children, was pardoned by the Holy Prophet upon the request of some Muslims, he preferred death to stopping obstinacy! See Ibn Hush¡m, al-S¢rah al-Nabawiyyah 3:253-254.

[5] al-W¡qid¢, al-Magh¡z¢ 2:492.

[6] The Old Testament, Book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 20. For further information about Sa`d’s judgment, see Ja`far Sub¦¡n¢, Fur£gh-e-Abadiyyat 2:154-157; Mus§af¡ ±ab¡§ab¡’¢, Treason in the Historical Accounts 3:161-173.

[7] Sayyid Ja`far Shah¢d¢, T¡r¢kh Ta¦l¢l¢ Isl¡m t¡ P¡y¡n Umawiyy¡n, pp. 73-75.

[8] Sayyid `Al¢ M¢r Shar¢f¢, A quick Look at the War of Ban£-Quray¨ah.

[9] Some historians, including al-Bul¡dhar¢, al-W¡qid¢, and Mu¦ammad Ibn Sa`d, reckon this war among the events of the firth year of Hegira. For this reason, they have put it before the Battle of the Allies. Some reasons confirm their position. See al-S¢rah al-Nabawiyyah 3:302; Waf¡' al-Waf¡' 1:314.

[10] For this reason, it is also called the Battle of Musayr¢`.

[11] Ibn Hush¡m, op cit, 3:302-308; ±abar¢, op cit, 3:63-66; al-Majlis¢, op cit, 20:281-290.

[12] Ibn Hush¡m, op cit, 3:308; Muf¢d, al-Irsh¡d, pp. 118-119; Ibn Shahr¡sh£b, Man¡qib 1:201.

[13] Ibn Hush¡m, op cit, 3:307-308; al-W¡qid¢, op cit, 1:411; ±abars¢, I`l¡m al-War¡, pp. 94. In some other historical records, there is another account of this marriage.

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