Relations with the Jews
Before the advent of Islam,
the Jews were well established in and around Madinah. Their
chief tribes, the Banu Nadhir, Banu Qainuqa and Banu Quraizah,
lived in well-fortified areas. They controlled the economy
of Madinah and owned practically all the date groves. They
were money-lenders who charged enormous interest in their
financial dealings. This allowed them to establish an extensive
sphere of influence over the poor and illiterate Arab tribes
of Aus and Khazraj. Even the wives and children of people
were pawned and mortgaged to them as securities against
non-payment. In addition to their political and economic
domination they were also known for their religious knowledge
of the scriptures. On the arrival of the Prophet Sallallahu
Alaihi Wasallam in Madinah, most of the people of Aus and
Khazraj embraced Islam and the Jewish stronghold over them
As time passed the Jews began
to plot against the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam.
No kindness or generosity on the part of the Prophet Sallallahu
Alaihi Wasallam would satisfy them. They soon broke off
the treaty made by the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam
and began conspiring with the enemies of Islam. They slandered
the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam, twisted their tongues
and mispronounced the Qur’anic words. They used to
greet him with the words : "Assaamu Alaikum"
(May death overtake you), instead of "Assalaaamu
Alaikum" (May peace be upon you).The Jewish poets
insulted all sense of common decency and began to ridicule
Muslim women in obscene verses.
The Jews tried to sow the seeds
of animosity amongst the people of Madinah. By their superior
education, intelligence and their friendship with the hypocrites
they now arose as a most dangerous element within the city.
They had previously also played a role in inciting the Quraish
to avenge their defeat at Badr.
Examples of their troublesome
nature were many and open. The Jewish tribe of Banu Qainuqa
were goldsmiths by trade. They were always arrogant and
haughty. Once a Muslim woman had gone into their market
to sell milk when some Jews insulted and humiliated her.
A Muslim went to her rescue but the Jews killed him.
On another occasion a Jew by
the name of Shas Ibn Qais created a major tumult amongst
the Aus and Khazraj when he reminded them of the Bu'ath
war that they had previously fought between themselves.
There would certainly have been bloodshed had the Prophet
Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam not intervened and reunited their
Another Jew by the name of
Kab Ibn Ashraf was a leading figure in Arabia. His wealth
allowed him to wield a high degree of influence amongst
the Arabs and Jews. He hated Islam from the bottom of his
heart. After the defeat of the Quraish at Badr he personally
went to Makkah and offered condolences. Being a poet he
often composed poems reviling the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi
Wasallam. Poetry was a powerful weapon amongst the Arabs
and entire tribes could be ignited through the satirical
words of the poets. Muhammad Ibn Maslamah Radhi Allahu Anhu
finally killed Kab under the instruction of the Prophet
Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam.
The Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi
Wasallam realised that if this type of rebellion by the
Jews was allowed to go unpunished Madinah would be turned
into an arena of hostile factions, murder and chaos. It
was necessary to put a stop to this with a firm hand or
else peace and security would never prevail in Madinah.
The Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi
Wasallam ordered the siege of their fortress in Madinah.
After sixteen days the siege was lifted and the Jews surrendered
and begged for mercy. Abdullah Ibn Ubay Ibn Sulool, the
leader of the hypocrites, who was also a friend of the Jews
pleaded with the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam to spare
their lives. But, the Banu Qainuqa could not to be trusted
anymore and the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam ordered
their banishment from Madinah. They then settled at Khaibar.
The Banu Nadhir were also a
treacherous tribe and were noted for their evil plotting
against the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam. Once, while
conversing with a few Sahabah, the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi
Wasallam was seated in the shade of a house when a Jew,
Amr Ibn Muhasin, climbed stealthily onto the flat roof with
the intention of crushing the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi
Wasallam with huge stones already placed there. By divine
inspiration, the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam looked
up just as he was about to throw down the stones. He moved
quickly away and his life was saved.
The Banu Nadhir had now placed
themselves in exactly the same position as the Banu Qainuqa
had previously done. They had by their own act of deceit
and treachery put themselves outside the pale of the treaty.
The Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam sent a message to
them asking them to embrace Islam or to vacate Madinah.
Relying on the support of Abdullah Ibn Ubay Ibn Sulool and
with two thousand men to defend their settlement the Banu
Nadhir returned a defiant answer. The Prophet Sallallahu
Alaihi Wasallam set out to punish them. The Banu Nadhir
shut themselves up in their strongholds and held out for
ten days. They finally asked for peace and agreed to evacuate
The Jewish lands and weapons
that they could not carry away were distributed by the Prophet
Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam among the Muhajireen with the
consent and cordial approval of the Ansaar. (1)