a community the Jews were not on good terms with each other
and were constantly plagued with inter-tribal conflicts. From
a religious point of view they were very well educated. They
knew their scriptures well and they regarded themselves as the
The economy of Madinah at that
time was controlled by the Jews. Being wealthy, they lent money
on interest on security of personal property. Madinah was an
agricultural area of date vines and there was huge scope for
money lending since the poorer tribes often needed finance for
cultivation. An incident narrated by Imam Bukhari Rahimahullah
tells us that the Jews went further than requesting personal
property as security for loans given out by them. They often
demanded the borrowers to pledge their women and children as
security. Naturally, this caused tension and animosity, as the
Arabs were passionate when it came to the honour of their womenfolk.
As the controllers of finance in the city they exercised control
over the social conditions of the inhabitants. They would spend
lavishly in causing rifts amongst their neighbouring tribes.
2. The Aus and Khazraj
These were two Arab tribes who
had migrated from Yemen and settled in Madinah. They came to
Madinah after the Jews but were larger in number. They were
also at loggerheads with one another and frequently fought battles.
Spiritually, they were idol worshippers like the Quraish of
Being of Arab stock, generosity
was in their blood. They would often take loans from the Jews
for their business and personal ventures. They did not care
to save their money for a rainy day.
Strategic Importance of Madinah
Madinah was an important city since
it commanded the commercial trading routes leading to Makkah.
The Quraish were aware of this and knew that security of this
caravan route was crucial for their economy. The Aus and Kazraj
tribes of Madinah were also renowned in Arabia for their might
and power in war.
From a geographical and defence
point of view Madinah was impregnable like a fortified city.
Only the north of the city was exposed. Buildings, date palm
groves and lava plains protected the other three sides. A chain
of high mountains, lava and volcanic igneous rock formations
protected the city from the east and west. This was an impossible
area for warfare. In the south there were dense date palm groves.
An army attacking Madinah from this side would have difficulty
synchronising and communicating. (2)