The Expul­sion of Banu al-Qurayzah

Excerpt­ed from Mad­i­nan Soci­ety At the Time of the Prophet, Inter­na­tion­al Islam­ic Pub­lish­ing House & IIIT, 1991

The date of the campaign

The action against Banu Qurayzah took place at the end of Dhu al Qa’­dah and the begin­ning of Dhu al Hij­jah in the fifth year1, after the Bat­tle of the Ditch, which took place in Shaww­al of the fifth year AH, accord­ing to Qatadah, Urwah ibn al Zubayr, Ibn Ishaq and Abd al Raz­zaq.Abd al Raz­zaq, al Musan­naf, 5367 ; Ibn Hisham, al Sir­ah, 3699 ; al Haytha­mi, Maj­ma’ al Zawa’id, 6143 : he attrib­uted it to al Tabarani and said that the men in the isnad are thiqah. Imam Malik and Musa ibn Uqbah sug­gest­ed that the Bat­tle of the Ditch took place in Shaww­al of the fourth year. Ibn Hazm sug­gest­ed the same. The three of them drew their con­clu­sion from a hadith of Abd Allah ibn Umar which said that the Prophet would not let him fight at the Bat­tle of the Ditch, when he was 15.Al Bukhari, at Sahih, 333, 73 ; see also Malik’s suggestion.

Al Bay­haqi showed that it was pos­si­ble to rec­on­cile the two sug­ges­tions. He said : In fact, there is no dif­fer­ence between them, because they meant that it took place after four years had passed and before the fifth year was com­plet­ed.” Al Zuhri declared that the Bat­tle of the Ditch took place two years after Uhud. All are agreed that Uhud took place in Shaww­al of the third year, except for those who sug­gest­ed that the hijrah cal­en­dar should begin from Muhar­ram of the year fol­low­ing the emi­gra­tion, and did not take into con­sid­er­a­tion the months which remained in the year of the hijrah, from Rabi’ al Aww­al onwards, as al Bay­haqi men­tions. Yaqub ibn Sufyan al Fasawi sug­gest­ed that Badr took place in the first year, Uhud in the sec­ond year, Badr al Maw?id in Sha?ban of the third year, and the Bat­tle of the Ditch in Shaww­al of the fourth year. This con­tra­dicts the opin­ion of the major­i­ty of schol­ars. It is well known that Umar decreed that the hijrah cal­en­dar should start from Muhar­ram of the year in which the emi­gra­tion took place, and accord­ing to Malik, that it should start from Rabi’ al Aww­al of that year.

There are three opin­ions, but the opin­ion of the major­i­ty, that Uhud took place in the third year, and that the Bat­tle of the Ditch took place in Shaww­al of the fifth year, is authentic.

Some of the schol­ars, includ­ing al Bay­haqi, explained the hadith of Ibn Umar by say­ing that at the Bat­tle of Uhud he had only just turned 14, where­as at the Bat­tle of the Ditch he was 15 going on 16. This is rea­son­able, because when the Bat­tle of Uhud end­ed, the two sides agreed to meet at Badr for anoth­er bat­tle in the fol­low­ing year (Badr al Mawaid), but it did not hap­pen. Al Bay­haqi said : It is non­sense to say that they came to besiege Mad­i­nah two months lat­er.“Ibn Kathir, al Bidayah, 4934 ; and al Sir­ah at Nabawiyyah, 3÷1801 ; Ibn Qayy­im, Zad al Ma’ad, 388 – 9 ; Ibn Hajar, Fath al Bari, 7393

The rea­son for the campaign

The rea­son for the cam­paign goes back to Banu Qurayza­h’s break­ing of the treaty between them­selves and the Prophet. This has been proved from dif­fer­ent reports which, when tak­en togeth­er, could be used as valid evi­dence. Huyayy ibn Akhtab al NadariAbd al Raz­zaq report­ed this from the mur­sal hadith of Sa’id ibn al Musayyab, which are the most sahih mur­sal hadith. The report is valid as evi­dence, if there are oth­er reports which sup­port it (al Musan­naf, 5÷368373). Abu Nu’aym, from the mur­sal hadith of Sa’id also (Abu Nu’aym, Dala’il al Nubuwwah, 3183). incit­ed them to break the treaty at a crit­i­cal time when the Mus­lims were being besieged by 10,000 war­riors from the var­i­ous tribes. There is a strong report that the Prophet sent al Zubayr ibn al AwwamAl Bukhari, al Sahih, 3306 ; Mus­lim, al Sahih, 7138 to check on Banu Qurayzah, then he sent Sad ibn Mu’adh, Sa’d ibn Ubadah, Abd Allah ibn Rawa­hah and Khawwat ibn JubayrIbn Hisham, al Sir­ah, 3706, with­out isnad. to check whether the rumors about the treach­ery of Banu Qurayzah were true. These four con­firmed the rumors, and this news dis­tressed the Muslims.

Ibn Ishaq gave a detailed report — with­out isnad — of the treach­ery of Banu Qurayzah and their break­ing of the treaty. Most of the Sir­ah writ­ers also report­ed it with­out isnadAl-Waqi­di, al Mag­hazi, 3÷4549 ; Al Tabari, Tarikh al Rusul, 3÷5703 ; Ibn Hazm, Jawa­mi al Sir­ah, 187 – 8 ; Ibn Abd al Barr, al Durar, 181 – 3 ; Ibn Sayyid al Nas, Uyun al Athar, 3÷5960 ; Ibn Kathir, at Bidayah, 3÷1034.

Musa ibn Uqbah men­tions — also with­out isnad — that Qurayzah asked Huyayy ibn Akhtab to take 90 men from the nobles of Quraysh and Ghatafan as hostages, so the Quraysh would not leave Mad­i­nah before they had destroyed the Mus­lims. Huyayy agreed to that, so they announced their break­ing of the treaty.Ibn Kathir, al Bidayah, 3÷1034

The Prophet was com­mand­ed by God to fight Banu Qurayzah after he returned from the Bat­tle of the DitchAl Bukhari, al Sahih, 324 ; Ahmad, al Mus­nad, 656, 131, 280 so the Prophet ordered his com­pan­ions to go to Qurayzah straight away, and tell them that God had sent Jib­ril to shake their strong­holds and strike fear into their heartsAl Bukhari, al Sahih, 324 ; 144, and instruct­ed them that no one was to pray Asr before they reached Banu QurayzahBukhari (Ibid., 324); Mus­lim (Mus­lim, al Sahih, 5163) say Zuhr.. The time for Asr came, and some were still on their way to Banu Qurayzah, so some of them prayed, and some of them delayed their prayer, but the Prophet did not blame either group, because they had tried their best to under­stand what he want­ed them to do. Those who had delayed the Asr prayed it after Isha as Ibn Ishaq explained.Ibn Hisham, al Sir­ah, 3÷7167, from the mur­sal hadith of Ma’bad ibn Ka’b ibn Malik, who is maqbul.

The schol­ars rec­on­cile the reports of al Bukhari and Mus­lim by sug­gest­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty that some of them had already prayed zuhr before the order came, while some had not, so the Prophet ordered those who had not yet prayed not to pray, and ordered those who had already prayed not to pray Asr. It is also pos­si­ble that two groups were sent out sep­a­rate­ly : the first group was told not to pray Zuhr and the sec­ond was told not to pray Asr.Ibn Hajar, Fath al Bari, 7÷4089

The Prophet went out to Banu Qurayzah, and appoint­ed Abd Allah ibn Umm Mak­tumIbn Hisham, al Sir­ah, 3716 ; Ibn Sa’d, al Tabaqat, 374 (both with­out isnad). to gov­ern Mad­i­nah in his absence. This report could be accept­ed even though it has not been proved to be sahih.

There are many mur­sal tra­di­tions (athar) which strength­en one anoth­er to the lev­el of hasan li ghayrih, and which say that Ali was sent to car­ry the flag at the head of the army.Ibn Hisam, al Sir­ah, 3716 ; Ibn Hajar, Fath at Bari, 7413

The reports dif­fer as to whether the siege of Banu Qurayzah last­ed for a monthTabari, Tarikh al Rusul, 2583, the nar­ra­tor him­self said that he was unsure as to whether it was a month or 25 days., 25 daysAl Sa’ati, al Fath al Rab­bani li Tart­ib Mus­nad al Imam Ahmad, 21÷813. All the nar­ra­tors are reli­able., 15 daysIbn Sa’d, al Tabaqat, 374, with­out isnad. or any num­ber of days between 10 and 18Ibn Kathir, al Bidayah, 4÷1189 ; Ibn Hajar, Fath at Bari, 7413 ; mur­sal from Musa ibn Uqbah from al Zuhri.. The strongest evi­dence shows that it was twen­ty-five days ; most of the Mag­hazi writ­ers favor this ver­sion, fol­low­ing Ibn Ishaq.Tabari, Tarikh al Rusul, 2583 ; Ibn Hazm, Jawa­mi al Sir­ah, 193 ; Ibn Abd al Barr, al Durar, 189 ; Ibn Sayyid al Nas, Uyun al Athar, 269

The suc­cess of the siege and the fate of Banu Qurayzah

When the siege inten­si­fied and became unbear­able for Banu Qurayzah, they want­ed to sur­ren­der and accept what­ev­er judg­ment the Prophet passed on them. They con­sult­ed Abu Lubabah ibn Abd al Mund­hir, one of the com­pan­ions of the Prophet who was also their ally, and he indi­cat­ed that if they sur­ren­dered, they would be killed. Abu Lubabah lat­er regret­ted say­ing this, and tied him­self to one of the pil­lars in the Prophet’s Mosque until his repen­tance was accept­ed.Al Sa’ati, al Fath al Rab­bani, 21÷813, with a hasan isnad. Banu Qurayzah agreed to accept the judg­ment of Sa’d ibn Mu’adh ; they thought that he would show mer­cy to them, because of the alliance between them and his peo­ple, al Aws.

Sa’d was car­ried to them, because he had been wound­ed in the hand by an arrow at the Bat­tle of the Ditch, and was ill. He judged that the war­riors should be killed, and their wealth shared. The Mes­sen­ger con­firmed this and said : You have judged accord­ing to God’s judg­ment.” Al Bukhari, al Sahih, 2210, 3÷2425 ; Mus­lim, al Sahih, 5÷1601 By doing this, Sad ibn Mu’adh dis­owned his alliance with Banu Qurayzah. This did not dis­turb the Aws at all, despite their alliance with Banu Qurayzah and the fact that they had only recent­ly entered Islam. Their accep­tance of this was facil­i­tat­ed by the fact that their leader Sa’d passed judg­ment on Banu Qurayzah. The num­ber of war­riors who were exe­cut­ed was 400.Ahmad, al Mus­nad, 3350, with a hasan isnad ; Ibn Hajar (Fath al Bari, 714) men­tioned the dif­fer­ences in their num­bers, rang­ing from 400 to 900, and rec­on­ciled the dif­fer­ent reports by say­ing that the increase includ­ed the fol­low­ers of Banu Qurayzah, such as slaves, freed­men, and oth­ers. Three of Banu Qurayzah were spared because they entered IslamAl Bukhari, al Sahih, 311 ; Mus­lim, al Sahih, 5159. The three who entered Islam were : Tha’labah ibn Sa’iyah, Usayd ibn Sa’iyah and Asad ibn Ubayd. and they kept their wealth ; three oth­ers may have been spared because they were pro­tect­ed by some of the com­pan­ions because of their loy­al­ty to the treaty dur­ing the siege. There are many reports deal­ing with this, but they can­not be tak­en as valid evi­dence. The pris­on­ers were detained in the house of Bint al Harith.This is the report of Ibn Ishaq (Ibn Hisham, al Sir­ah, 3721). Urwah men­tions it was the house of Usamah ibn Zayd. The reports can be rec­on­ciled by say­ing that the pris­on­ers were put in two hous­es because of their great numbers.

The exe­cu­tions were car­ried out in the mar­ket place in Mad­i­nah, where trench­es were dug ; they were killed in groups and thrown into the trench­es.Ahmad, al Mus­nad, 3351 ; al Tir­mid­hi, Sunan, 4÷1445 Only one of their women was killedIbn Hisham, al Sir­ah, 3722 ; Ahmad, al Mus­nad, 6277 ; Abu Dawud, al Sunan, 2150. Its isnad is hasan li dhatih.; she had killed one of the com­pan­ions — Khalid ibn Suwayd — by drop­ping a mill­stone on him.

Boys below the age of puber­ty were released.Ibn Hisham, al Sir­ah, 3724 ; Ibn Sa’d, al Tabaqat, 2÷727 After the exe­cu­tion of the war­riors had been car­ried out, the Prophet divid­ed their wealth and appoint­ed the women to the cus­tody of the Mus­lims.Al Bukhari, al Sahih, 311 ; Mus­lim, al Sahih, 5159 The books of Mag­hazi give some detail of how the divi­sion was car­ried out, but their reports can­not be tak­en as valid evidence.

The Mes­sen­ger chose Ray­hanah ibn Khanafah, one of the women pris­on­ers, for him­self, accord­ing to Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Sa’d and many oth­ers. Al Waqi­di and those who fol­lowed him said that he mar­ried her, but the first sug­ges­tion is more likely.

Some con­tem­po­rary his­to­ri­ans tend to deny and weak­en the reports deal­ing with the pun­ish­ment faced by Banu QurayzahSee the research of Dr. Walid Arafat in the papers of the World Sir­ah Con­fer­ence in Qatar. Ed. note : See the same paper in The Jour­nal of the Roy­al Asi­at­ic Soci­ety of Great Britain and Ire­land, 1976, pp. 100 – 107 on the basis that prov­ing these reports may hurt human­i­tar­i­an feel­ings or serve the inter­ests of Zion­ist pro­pa­gan­da, but this is not the case. The most authen­tic Islam­ic sources prove that it hap­pened. The severe pun­ish­ments were only giv­en because of the acts of high trea­son which Banu Qurayzah com­mit­ted when they betrayed the Mus­lims and broke the treaty, instead of par­tic­i­pat­ing with them in defend­ing Mad­i­nah, in accor­dance with the treaty between the two sides. In this day and age, nations still exe­cute trai­tors who coöper­ate with the enemy.

The pun­ish­ment of Banu Qurayzah fit­ted their crime, because they had exposed the Mus­lims to the threat of being killed, their wealth to the threat of being seized, and their women and chil­dren to the threat of being tak­en pris­on­er ; there­fore, their pun­ish­ment was a fit­ting rec­om­pense. There is no need to avoid his­tor­i­cal facts or to deny authen­tic reports. Endmark

Cite this arti­cle as : Akram Diya al Umari, The Expul­sion of Banu al-Qurayzah,” in Bis­mi­ka Allahu­ma, Octo­ber 16, 2005, last accessed April 14, 2024, https://​bis​mikaal​lahu​ma​.org/​h​i​s​t​o​r​y​/​j​e​w​s​-​o​f​-​a​r​a​b​i​a​/​b​a​n​u​-​q​u​r​a​y​z​a​-​e​x​p​u​l​s​i​on/
  1. Ibn Sa’d, al Tabaqat, 374 ; Ibn Hisham, al Sir­ah, 3715 ; Al Tabari, Tarikh al Rusul, 3593 ; Ibn Sayyid al Nas, Uyun al Athar, 368[]


2 responses to “The Expul­sion of Banu al-Qurayzah”

  1. Inayah Avatar

    Dis­gust­ing article…u for­got to men­tion that the banu quray­d­ha SURRENDERED…aren’t mus­lims sup­posed to be mer­ci­ful to their prisoners ?
    Also, if the banu quray­d­ha were *that bad* wouldn’t allah pun­ish them in the next life any­way ? What was the need to pun­ish them twice ?

    1. Bismika Allahuma Team Avatar

      They did not sur­ren­der, idiot.

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