History Jews of Arabia

The Expul­sion of Banu Qaynuqa

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

The date of the campaign

Regard­ing the time of its occur­rence, the his­to­ri­ans agree that this action took place after Badr. Al Zuhri defined its date as being in the month of Shaww­al in the sec­ond year of the Hijrah. Al Waqi­di added that it took place on a Sat­ur­day in the mid­dle of Shaww­al.Al Tabari, Tarikh al Rusul, 2479 ; 480 ; Al Waqi­di, al Mag­hazi, 1176 ; Ibn Sa’d, al Tabaqat, 2÷2829

The rea­son for the campaign

Regard­ing the back­ground of and the rea­son for the expul­sion, the Sir­ah sources men­tion that the Jews of Banu Qaynuqa showed anger and jeal­ousy when the Mus­lims were vic­to­ri­ous at Badr, and these feel­ings reached the lev­el of open hostility.

In order to appre­ci­ate the psy­cho­log­i­cal atmos­phere which sur­round­ed their expul­sion, cer­tain devel­op­ments must be con­sid­ered. For exam­ple, the Prophet thought of gath­er­ing the Jews togeth­er and advis­ing them. He did this in the mar­ket place of Banu Qaynuqa. Address­ing them, he said : O Jews ! Become Mus­lims before what befell the Quraysh befalls you.” They said : O Muham­mad, you seem to think that we are your peo­ple. Do not deceive your­self because you van­quished a con­tin­gent of Quraysh hav­ing no knowl­edge of war and got the bet­ter of them ; for, by God, if we fight you, you will find that we are real men, and that you have not met the like of us”. Their answer clear­ly con­tained a chal­lenge and a threat, despite the fact that they had accept­ed his lead­er­ship accord­ing to the terms of the treaty. This report comes through Ibn IshaqIbn Hisham, Sir­ah, 294 ; Abu Dawud, al Sunan, 3÷4023. Ibn Hajar said that it was hasan.Fath al Bari, 7332 But the isnad includes Muham­mad ibn Muham­mad, the freed­man of Zayd ibn Thabit, whom Ibn Hajar him­self said was majhul (unknown).Al Taqrib, 2205

Even if we accept Ibn Hajar’s sug­ges­tion that the report is hasan, that does not mean that the rea­son for the expul­sion of Banu Qaynuqa was their refusal to accept Islam, because at that stage Islam still allowed the Mus­lims to live in peace with them, and the Prophet did not make enter­ing Islam a con­di­tion for any one of the Jews to stay in Mad­i­nah. Rather, the Doc­u­mentSee the the­sis : Announce­ment of the Con­sti­tu­tion” ensured the reli­gious free­dom of the Jews. The rea­son for their expul­sion was the aggres­sion which they showed. This result­ed in a breach of the inter­nal secu­ri­ty of Madinah.

There is a report which says that one of the Banu Qaynuqa tied the hem of the gar­ment of a Mus­lim woman who was in their mar­ket-place, in such a way that when she stood up, she was uncov­ered and she screamed. One of the Mus­lims came and killed the Jew who had done it. Then the Jews attacked the Mus­lim and killed him. The Mus­lim’s fam­i­ly called on the rest of the Mus­lims to help them against the Jews. The Mus­lims became angry, and bad feel­ings arose between them and the Banu Qaynuqa. This is a daif report since its isnad is bro­ken between Ibn Hisham and Abd Allah iba Ja’­far al Makhra­mi, and ends with a less­er tabi’i, Abu Awn, whose sta­tus (in hadith) is not known. But this report could be tak­en into con­sid­er­a­tion as regards his­to­ry, and most Sir­ah sources include it. It describes the chain of events lead­ing up to the expul­sion of Banu Qaynuqa. Their refusal to enter Islam was not the rea­son for their expul­sion ; the true rea­son was their breach of secu­ri­ty and open hos­til­i­ty, which con­vinced the Mes­sen­ger that it was impos­si­ble to live with them in peace.

The siege

The report of the expul­sion of Banu Qaynuqa is sahihAl Bukhari, al Sahih, 311. Ibn Ishaq (in a report from Asim ibn Umar ibn Qatadah) and al Waqi­di (with­out isnad,) give details of the Mus­lims’ siege of Banu Qaynuqa. The his­to­ri­ans and Sir­ah writ­ers fol­lowed them in report­ing this event, in spite of the fact that these details had not been proved sahih from the point of view of hadith. But the details of the siege are among the mate­ri­als which the hadith schol­ars allowed to be trans­mit­ted and which can be relied upon accord­ing to the meth­ods of his­tor­i­cal crit­i­cism, which do not make it a con­di­tion that the isnad should be sahih. These reports can be relied upon for his­tor­i­cal study. How­ev­er, if they per­tain to aspects of Islam­ic belief and law, such reports can­not be relied upon as evi­dence unless they are sahih or hasan.

The reports of the siege of Banu Qaynuqa tell us that the Qaynuqa Jews were allies of Abd Allah ibn Ubayy ibn Salul, that they were the bravest of the Jews, and that they were gold­smiths. When they dis­played open hos­til­i­ty and hatred, the Prophet was afraid that they might betray him. He appoint­ed Abu Lubabah ibn Abd al Mund­hir to rule in Mad­i­nah in his absence, appoint­ed Hamzah ibn Abd al Mut­tal­ib to car­ry the white flag, and besieged Banu Qaynuqa for 15 days, until the begin­ning of Dhu al Qa’­dah. Then he inten­si­fied the siege against them, and they agreed to accept the judg­ment of the Mes­sen­ger that he should take their wealth and they should keep their women and chil­dren. He ordered that the Qaynuqa Jews should be tied up. Then their ally Abd Allah ibn Ubayy ibn Salul spoke to him about them and pestered him, say­ing : 400 men with­out armor, and 300 with armor pro­tect­ed me from the red and the black (i.e., every one), and you want to kill them all in one day?’ The Mes­sen­ger of Allah said : They are yours.’ ”.The words of Abd Allah ibn Ubayy were report­ed by Ibn Ishaq from Asim ibn Umar and the isnad ends with him (Ibn Hisham, al Sir­ah, 2÷562÷3). Asim is one of the less­er tabi’i­in. The report is daif accord­ing to the stan­dards of the hadith schol­ars, but it is the kind of khabar that is allowed to be trans­mit­ted. Its impor­tance is derived from its men­tion­ing the num­ber of war­riors of Banu Qaynuqa.

He ordered that they should be expelled from Mad­i­nah, and the one respon­si­ble for car­ry­ing out this order was Ubadah ibn al Samit. The Jews went to Adhra’at. The one respon­si­ble for seiz­ing their wealth was Muham­mad ibn Maslamah al Ansari. It was shared among the com­pan­ions as booty, after one-fifth of it had been tak­en for the Mes­sen­ger.Al Waqi­di, al Mag­hazi, 1÷1767 ; Ibn Sa’d, al Tabaqat, 229 The fol­low­ing vers­es of the Qur’an were revealed con­cern­ing the expul­sion of Banu Qaynuqa :

Say to those who reject faith : Soon will you be van­quished and gath­ered togeth­er in Hell’ an evil bed indeed (to lie on)! There has already been for you a sign in the two armies that met (in com­bat): one was fight­ing in the cause of God, the oth­er resist­ing God…” (Al Imran 3:12 – 13)

Some of the com­men­ta­tors of the Qur’an trans­mit­ted the opin­ion that the fol­low­ing verse was revealed con­cern­ing Abd Allah ibn Ubayy’s close friend­ship with the Jews of Banu Qaynuqa :

O you who believe ! Take not the Jews and the Chris­tians for your friends and pro­tec­tors : they are but friends and pro­tec­tors to each oth­er. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friend­ship) is of them. Ver­i­ly, Allah guides not a peo­ple unjust.”(Al Ma’i­dah 5:54).

At the same time, Ubadah ibn al Samit announced that he was dis­own­ing his Jew­ish allies in favor of Allah and His Mes­sen­ger : O Mes­sen­ger of Allah, I have many close friends among the Jews, but I am dis­own­ing the friend­ship of the Jews and turn­ing to Allah and His Mes­sen­ger. I take only Allah and His Mes­sen­ger for close friends.”

There is a clear dif­fer­ence between Abd Allah ibn Ubayy, whose heart was full of hypocrisy, and Ubadah ibn al Samit, whose per­son­al­i­ty had been refined under the teach­ing of the Prophet, which had rid him of all traces of preIs­lam­ic trib­al loy­al­ty, Jahili Asabiyyah desires, and per­son­al inter­ests. He con­sid­ered the inter­ests of faith and gave them pri­or­i­ty over his own inter­ests. He was a good exam­ple of the con­sci­en­tious and com­mit­ted believer. The Expulsion of Banu Qaynuqa 26Endmark

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1 Comment

  1. Abdur Rehman Reply

    The ref­er­ence of the ayah of Quran in the third last para is not 5:54 it is 5:51 plz correct.

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