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The Expul­sion of Banu al Nadir

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Akram Diya al Umari

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

The date of the campaign

Two reports, each with a sahih isnad, men­tion that the cam­paign against Banu al Nadir took place after the Bat­tle of Badr.

1. The first was report­ed by al Zuhri, who said : Abd Allah ibn Abd al Rah­man ibn Ka’ab ibn Malik informed me from one of the com­pan­ions of the Prophet.[1]

2. The sec­ond was report­ed by ?Urwah from ?Aishah[2], despite the fact that al Bay­haqi said that ?A?ishah was not specif­i­cal­ly men­tioned (ghayr mah­fuz). But al Dha­habi said that she was men­tioned. I think that the name has been added by a reli­able schol­ar, and this is accept­able. Al Bay­haqi is the only one who men­tions the rea­sons for this report being mur­sal. There is a mur­sal report from ?Urwah that this cam­paign took place six months after Badr.[3]

Al Bay­haqi trans­mit­ted anoth­er report from ?Urwah which indi­cat­ed that the cam­paign took place in Muhar­ram of the third year AH. This agrees with the first report, because Badr occurred on 17th Ramadan in the sec­ond year AH. This infor­ma­tion was also trans­mit­ted by Musa ibn ?Uqbah.[4] ?Urwah is a sec­ond gen­er­a­tion Mus­lim (tabi’i of great stature and Musa is a tabi’i of less­er stature. The isnad which goes back to them includes some men whose biogra­phies I could not find, oth­er­wise the report would be hasan.

Ibn Ishaq report­ed that the cam­paign took place in the fourth year of the hijrah.[5] Al Waqi­di and Ibn Sad relate with­out isnad, that it hap­pened in Rabi ? al Aww­al, 37 months after the hijrah.[6] Most of the Sir­ah writ­ers fol­lowed Ibn Ishaq in giv­ing the date of the cam­paign. Ibn al Qayy­im is sure that al Zuhri was either con­fused or mis­tak­en in say­ing that it hap­pened six months after Badr. He does not doubt that it took place after Uhud, and in say­ing so he favors the report of the major­i­ty of Sir­ah and Mag­hazi writers.[7] Ibn Hajar thinks that what Abd al Rah­man ibn Abd Allah ibn Ka?b men­tioned is stronger than what Ibn Ishaq men­tioned from the aspect of hadith sound­ness (sih­hah). But he also thinks that if it can be proved that the rea­son for the expul­sion of Banu al Nadir was con­nect­ed with the col­lect­ing of blood mon­ey for the two men of Banu ?Amir who had acci­den­tal­ly been killed, then we should accept Ibn Ishaq?s ver­dict, because all the schol­ars are agreed that the inci­dent at Bi?r Ma?unah took place after Uhud.[8]

Oth­er accounts with regard to the date of the cam­paign are report­ed in the com­men­tary of the Qur?anic verse :

O you who believe ! Call in remem­brance the favor of God unto you when cer­tain men formed the design to stretch out their hands against you, but God held back their hands from you : so fear God. And on God let believ­ers put (all) their trust.” (Al Ma?idah 5:12)

The reports say that this was revealed con­cern­ing Banu al Nadir when they were on the point of killing the Prophet, and Allah res­cued him by His grace. There is some weak­ness in this account, but when that is put togeth­er with oth­er accounts, they sup­port each oth­er and can be accept­ed as valid evidence.[9]

These chron­i­cles sup­port what Ibn Ishaq sug­gest­ed, but still the ques­tion remains with­out a def­i­nite answer : when did the cam­paign against Banu al Nadir take place ? Ibn Hajar did not give a def­i­nite opin­ion on the mat­ter, despite the fact that he had stud­ied the reports and decid­ed which one was the strongest, and he stat­ed that Ibn Ishaq?s report could be accept­ed if it were proved that the cam­paign against Banu al Nadir was con­nect­ed to the killing of the two men from Banu ?Amir. It seems that the abun­dance of reports, despite their weak­ness, sup­port Ibn Ishaq?s ver­dict. This explains why Ibn Hajar did not give a def­i­nite opin­ion. The method of deal­ing with his­tor­i­cal reports is more flex­i­ble in apply­ing the rules of Hadith tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the spe­cial­iza­tion of oth­er schol­ars, and respects the sug­ges­tions of the schol­ars of Maghazi.

The rea­sons for the campaign

The sources men­tion three rea­sons for the campaign :

1. The attempt of Banu al Nadir to kill the Mes­sen­ger after the Bat­tle of Badr. The sources men­tion two attempts. The first attempt came after Quraysh had writ­ten to Banu al Nadir, threat­en­ing to wage war on them if they did not fight the Mes­sen­ger. Banu al Nadir com­plied with their wish and resolved to use treach­ery. The Jews sent a mes­sage to the Prophet, invit­ing him to come out with 30 of his com­pan­ions to meet them. They promised to come out with a sim­i­lar num­ber of their rab­bis, to a place in the cen­ter of Mad­i­nah, where they would lis­ten to him : if the rab­bis believed what he said, then all the Jews would con­vert. When the two par­ties approached each oth­er, the Jews sug­gest­ed that the Prophet and three of his com­pan­ions should meet with three of their rab­bis, and if he con­vinced them, then Banu al Nadir would con­vert. The three rab­bis were car­ry­ing dag­gers, but one of the Jew­ish women whose broth­er was a Mus­lim told him about their plans. He told the Prophet who turned back and did not go to meet them. Then he besieged them until they accept­ed expul­sion, on the con­di­tion that they could take with them what­ev­er their camels could car­ry, except weapons ; they even took the doors of their hous­es. The isnad of this report includes men who are reli­able ; the name of the com­pan­ion is not known, but this does not affect the valid­i­ty of this isnad (because all the com­pan­ions are reliable).[10]

2. The sec­ond attempt was report­ed by Ibn Ishaq, who was fol­lowed by most of the oth­er Sir­ah writ­ers. The Prophet went to Banu al Nadir to ask them for help in pay­ing the blood mon­ey for two men from a tribe which was par­ty to the treaty, whom Amr ibn Umayyah al Damari had killed by mis­take fol­low­ing the inci­dent of al Raji. When he came to Banu al Nadir, he sat down against a wall. They were about to drop a rock onto him and kill him, but he learnt of that through divine inspi­ra­tion. He left them quick­ly and went back to Mad­i­nah, and he ordered that they should be besieged. They agreed to a peace treaty after a siege last­ing six days, on the con­di­tion that they could take with them what­ev­er their camels could carry.[11] The isnad of this report ends with Yazid ibn Ruman, who is a less­er tabi’i, but it could be strength­ened by oth­er sim­i­lar reports. Indeed, it was fol­lowed by the report of ?Urwah ibn al Zubayr in the Mag­hazi of Musa ibn ?Uqbah.[12] Musa ibn ?Uqbah was a writer of Mag­hazi who added to what Ibn Ishaq had said : Banu al Nadir had plot­ted with Quraysh, encour­aged them to fight the Mes­sen­ger of Allah, and had told them of the Mus­lims ? weak points.”[13]

Despite the fact that Abd al Razzaq?s report is stronger in its isnad than that of Ibn Ishaq, the Sir­ah writ­ers pre­ferred the lat­ter. Both reports attribute the Mus­lims ? siege of Banu al Nadir to their attempt to kill the Prophet by treach­ery. Musa ibn ?Uqbah does not say exact­ly when the Jews com­mit­ted such acts against the Mus­lims as intrigue, incite­ment, and giv­ing infor­ma­tion to Quraysh. It is well-known that they incit­ed the dis­be­liev­ers to fight the Mus­lims ? this result­ed in the Bat­tle of Uhud ? and that they helped Abu Sufyan to attack the out­skirts of Mad­i­nah, which caused the Mus­lims to pur­sue him after Uhud in a cam­paign known as Ghazwat al Suwayq. The poems which Ka?b ibn al Ashraf al Nadari com­posed to incite Quraysh to make war on the Mus­lims are well known. Musa ibn Uqbah?s ref­er­ence to these events in his report was prob­a­bly intend­ed to give an indi­ca­tion of the dete­ri­o­ra­tion of the rela­tion­ship between the Mus­lims and Banu al Nadir, and that it came to an end when they attempt­ed treach­ery. This was a direct cause of their being besieged, but it was pre­ced­ed by a suc­ces­sion of aggres­sive acts.

The Prophet’s warn­ing of expul­sion to Banu al Nadir

There is no report which is sahih from the hadith point of view, which refers to the Prophet?s warn­ing Banu al Nadir of expul­sion. How­ev­er, their actu­al expul­sion is proved in a sahih hadith which was report­ed by Abd Allah ibn ?Umar.[14] The warn­ing was men­tioned by al Waqi­di and Ibn Sa’d ? with­out isnad ? who said that the Prophet asked them to leave Mad­i­nah with­in ten days ; any­one who was seen after that would be behead­ed. They pre­pared to leave, but ?Abd Allah ibn Ubayy ibn Salul incit­ed them to rebel and stay, and he promised to sup­port them. They announced their rebel­lion, and the Mus­lims besieged them.[15] Two reports?both with isnads end­ing with ?Urwah ibn al Zubayr and Musa ibn ?Uqbah, and con­tain­ing nar­ra­tors whose biogra­phies I could not find ? men­tion the Prophet?s warn­ing the Banu al Nadir that they would be expelled.[16]

Most of the books of Sir­ah report this warn­ing with­out giv­ing any isnad.[17] Despite the fact that the atti­tude of the hyp­ocrites (in sup­port­ing Banu al Nadir) is only men­tioned in weak reports which can­not be tak­en as valid evi­dence, it can be proved by many sahih reports to have been revealed con­cern­ing Banu al Nadir.[18]

The Siege of Banu al Nadir and their Expul­sion Agreement

There is enough evi­dence to make sahih the report that the Mes­sen­ger of Allah besieged Banu al Nadir and said : I will not guar­an­tee your safe­ty unless you make a treaty with me and promise to adhere to it.” They refused to make a treaty with him, so the Mes­sen­ger led the Mus­lims in fight­ing them all day. The next day, he left Banu al Nadir and came to Banu Qurayzah with sol­diers on horse­back. He invit­ed Banu Qurayzah to make a treaty with him ; they did so and then he left them. The fol­low­ing day he came to Banu al Nadir with the sol­diers, and fought them until they agreed to accept expul­sion, on the con­di­tion that they could take with them what­ev­er their camels could car­ry, except weapons. Banu al Nadir came and took with them as many of their pos­ses­sions as their camels could car­ry, includ­ing the doors of their hous­es ; they destroyed their hous­es and took from them the choic­est wood.[19]

It is stat­ed in the Qur?an[20] and hadith[21] that the Prophet burnt and cut down some of Banu al Nadir?s palm trees dur­ing the siege.

The expul­sion treaty con­firmed that the Jews ? blood would be spared, that they would be expelled from their homes, and that they would be per­mit­ted to take with them what­ev­er pos­ses­sions and wealth their camels could car­ry, with the excep­tion of weapons, which they were to leave for the Mus­lims. It is pos­si­ble to rec­on­cile the sahih reports which say that they were expelled to Syria[22], with Ibn Sa?d?s report[23] that they went to Khay­bar, when we under­stand that their lead­ers, such as Huyayy ibn Akhtab, Salam ibn Abu al Haqiq, Kinanah ibn al Rabi ? and oth­ers went to Khay­bar, while most of them went to Syr­ia. Ibn Sa’d?s report is weak and with­out isnad, but it is proved by lat­er events which are men­tioned in strong reports, such as reports of their fight­ing at the Bat­tle of Khay­bar, of the killing of Kinanah and of the cap­ture of Safiyah, and the report about Salam ibn Abu al Haqiq. The reports can be rec­on­ciled by the expla­na­tion that Banu al Nadir were expelled to Syr­ia, and some of them set­tled in Khay­bar. Ibn Ishaq sug­gest­ed this.[24] Two men from Banu al Nadir had become Mus­lims, so they kept their pos­ses­sions ; they were Yamin ibn ?Umar ibn Ka?b and Abu Sa?d ibn Wahb.[25] The wealth and palm trees of Banu al Nadir were exclu­sive­ly for the Mes­sen­ger accord­ing to the text of the Qur?an[26]. Surat al Hashr was revealed con­cern­ing Banu al Nadir.[27] He spent some of the income from it on his fam­i­ly every year, and used what was left to buy weapons and hors­es in readi­ness for fight­ing for the cause of Allah. The Prophet dis­trib­uted the Jews ? land among the Muha­jirun ; he gave land to only two Ansar ? Sahl ibn Hanif and Abu Dujanah Sam­mak ibn Kharashah?because they were poor.[28]

The expul­sion of Banu al Nadir led to the col­lapse of pow­er of the Jews and the hyp­ocrites in Mad­i­nah. The Qurayzah renewed the treaty with the Mus­lims dur­ing the siege of the Banu al Nadir, and showed their will­ing­ness to adhere to the treaty until the Bat­tle of the Ditch. The hyp­ocrites did not ful­fill their promise of sup­port to Banu al Nadir, and the Jews real­ized the futil­i­ty of rely­ing on the hypocrites.

Islam became stronger by get­ting rid of Banu al Nadir and ben­e­fit­ting from their lands which were giv­en to the Muha­jirun, who had pre­vi­ous­ly relied on the lands and hous­es of the Ansar.

Banu al Nadir’s incite­ment of the Mushrikun

The Jews of Banu al Nadir con­tin­ued to hate the Mus­lims ; this hatred led them to incite the dis­be­liev­ers of the Quraysh and oth­er tribes to attack Mad­i­nah in the Bat­tle of the Ditch. Sev­er­al reports have been trans­mit­ted which are weak either because they are mur­sal or munqati or because one of the nar­ra­tors in the isnad is majhul.[29] But when these reports are put togeth­er, they can be tak­en as evi­dence, and they strength­en one anoth­er. The reports go back to ?Urwah ibn al Zubayr, ?Asim ibn ?Umar ibn Qatadah, Abd Allah ibn Abu Bakr ibn Hazm, Sa’id ibn al Musayyab and Musa ibn ?Uqbah. Some of them gave the names of the inciters from Banu al Nadir and Ibn Ishaq men­tioned some of them : Salam ibn Abu al Haqiq, Kinanah ibn Abu al Haqiq al Nadari and Huyayy ibn Akhtab al Nadari.[30]


[1] Abd al Raz­zaq, al Musan­naf, 5357 ; Abu Dawud, al Sunan, 2÷13926, Kitab al Kharaj wa al Fay wa al Imarah

[2] Al Hakim, al Mus­tadrak, 2483, Kitab al Tafsir

[3] Abd al Raz­zaq, al Musan­naf, 5357

[4] Al Bay­haqi, Dala’il al Nubuwwah, 3÷446450 ; Abu Nu’aym, Dala’il al Nubuwwah, 3÷1767

[5] Ibn Hisham, al Sir­ah, 3683 ; al Bukhari, al Sahih, 311, Mu’al­laq from Ibn Ishaq.

[6] Al Waqi­di, al Mag­hazi, 1363 ; Ibn Sa’d, al Tabaqat, 357). Ibn Hisham agrees with them that it took place in Rabi ? al Aww­al (Al Sir­ah, 3683).

[7] Ibn al Qayy­im, Zad al Ma’ad

[8] Fath al Bari, 6÷3889

[9] See isnads in al Tabari (Tarikh al Rusul, 6÷1467) some of which end with Yazid ibn Ruman. Some include Muham­mad ibn Hamid al Razi, who is weak, and Salamah ibn al Fadl al Abrashi, Da’la‘il al Nubuwwah, by al Bay­haqi, 3÷4468. with two isnads going back to Urwah ibn al Zubayr and Musa ibn Uqbah (the two isnads end with them ; Ibn Kathir, al Tafsir, 331, trans­mit­ted from Ibn Ishaq, Mujahid and Ikrimah).

[10] Abd al Raz­zaq, al Musan­naf, 5÷35960 ; see also, Ibn Hajar, Fath al Bari, 7331 ; Abu Dawud, Sunan, 2÷13940, Kitab al Kharaj wa al Fay wa al Imarah

[11] Ibn Ishaq, al Sir­ah, 3191

[12] Ibn Hajar, Fath al Bari, 7331

[13] Ibid., 7332

[14] Al Bukhari, al Sahih, 311 ; Mus­lim, al Sahih, 5159

[15] Al Waqi­di, al Mag­hazi, 1÷36370, but al Waqi­di is matruk ; Ibn Hisham, al Sir­ah, 3682, with­out isnad ; Ibn Sa?d, al Tabaqat, 3÷578, with­out isnad ; al Bay­haqi, Dala?il al Nubuwwah, 3÷44650, with two isnads which include four men who are majhul.

[16] Al Bay­haqi, Dala?il al Nubuwwah, 3÷4468 ; Abu Nu?aym, Dala?il al Nubuwwah, 3÷1767. Their isnads include Abu Ja?far Muham­mad ibn ?Abd Allah al Bagh­dad, Abu Alaqah Muham­mad ibn ?Amr ibn Khalid, Muham­mad ibn ?Abd Allah ibn ?Itab and al Qasim ibn ?Abd Allah ibn al Mughi­rah ; I did not find their biogra­phies, but the oth­er men in the two isnads are reli­able (thiqah).

[17] Al Tabari, Tarikh al Rusul, 3÷3345 ; Ibn Sayyid al Nas, Uyun al Athar, 348 ; Ibn Kathir, al Bidayah, 345, and others

[18] Ibn Sayyid al Nas, Uyun al Athar, 249 ; Ibn Kathir, al Tafsir, 4330 ; al Suyu­ti, Lubab al Nuqul fi Asbab al Nuzul, 214

[19] Abd al Raz­zaq. al Musan­naf, 5÷358361 ; Abu Dawud, al Sunan, 3÷4047 ; al Bay­haqi, Dala?il al Nubuwwah, 3÷4468 ; see also, Ibn Hajar, Fath al Bari, 7331

[20] Surat al Hashr (59:5): ?What­ev­er you cut down (O you Mus­lims) the ten­der palm trees, or you left them stand­ing on their roots, it was by leave of Allah?”

[21] Al Bukhari, al Sahih, 311, 143 ; Abu Dawud, al Sunan, 336 ; al Tir­mid­hi, al Sunan (with the com­men­tary Tuh­fat al Ahwad­hi, 5÷1578 ; Ibn Majah, Sunan, 3÷9489

[22] Abd al Raz­zaq, al Musan­naf, 5÷358361

[23] Ibn Sa’d, al Tabaqat, 358

[24] Ibn Hisham, al Sir­ah, 3683, with­out isnad. It is strength­ened by what is in at Bay­haqi’s Dala?il al Nubuwwah, 3÷4469, with an isnad going back to ?Urwah and Musa ibn ?Uqbah. The two isnads men­tion men whose biogra­phies I could not find.

[25] Ibn Hisham, al Sir­ah, 3683, with an isnad going back to Abd Allah ibn Abu Bakr.

[26] What God has bestowed on His Apos­tle (and tak­en away) from them?for this you made no expe­di­tion with either cav­al­ry or camel­ry : but God gives pow­er to His Apos­tle over any He pleas­es : and God has pow­er over all things.” (al Hashr 59:6)

[27] Sahih al Bukhari, 3131 and Sahih Mus­lim, 8345

[28] Abd al Raz­zaq, al Musan­naf, 5÷358361 ; Abu Dawud, al Sunan, 3÷4047 ; see also Ibn Hajar, Fath al Bari, 7331 and Ibn Hisham, al Sir­ah, 3÷6834

[29] Ibn Hisham, al Sir­ah, 3÷7001 ; Abd al Raz­zaq, al Musan­naf, 5÷368373 ; Ibn Sa’d, al Tabaqat, 3÷656 ; Ibn Hajar, Fath al Bari, 7÷4124

[30] Ibn Hisham, al Sir­ah, 3÷700701Endmark

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