The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

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Chapter 4: The Battle of the Ditch

 Part I: In the Time of the Prophet (SAWS)


Page: 3

An important element in the population of Madinah consisted of Jews, comprising three tribes known as Bani Qainqa, Bani Nazir and Bani Quraizah. When the Prophet arrived at Madinah, these Jews accepted him without reservation and could see no possible threat to their position from the new faith. Each of the tribes entered into a pact with the Prophet which could be described as a friendship pact or a non?aggression pact. The pact included a clause under which one party would not in any way assist the enemies of the other party, should the other party be engaged in hostilities.

While the Prophet had been in Makkah, the revelations of the Quran had dealt mainly with spiritual and religious matters. Thus the character of Islam then was essentially spiritual and religious, dealing with man's relationship with Allah. When the Prophet migrated to Madinah, Islam took on a more dynamic and vital role in the affairs of men, entering the fields of society, politics and economics. It began to deal with man as a member of society and society as an instrument for the achievement of a more virtuous, more progressive and more prosperous way of life for mankind. This new dynamism which entered the character of Islam was bound to bring it into conflict with the older faiths. A clash was inevitable sooner or later; and the nearest of the older religions with which Islam came in conflict was Judaism. The Jews first became conscious of the threat to their position when the Muslims won a resounding victory at the Battle of Badr. Then the Bani Qainqa broke their pact and came out in open opposition to the Muslims. The Prophet besieged this tribe in its strongholds and forced it into submission. As punishment for violating their pledge, the Bani Qainqa were banished from Madinah, and they migrated to Syria.

The next Jewish tribe to break its pledge was the Bani Nazir, which happened soon after the Battle of Uhud. This tribe received the same punishment from the Muslims. Some of its members migrated to Syria, while others settled down in the area of Khaibar, north of Madinah. In the operations against both these tribes, Abdullah bin Ubayy, the chief of the Hypocrites, first sided with the Jews, secretly inciting them to fight the Prophet and promising active help from his followers. Later, when he saw the fortunes of war turning in favour of the Muslims, he abandoned the Jews to their fate.

The third Jewish tribe, the Bani Quraizah, continued to live peacefully in Madinah. Its relations with the Muslims were perfectly normal and entirely peaceful, each side respecting and observing the terms of the pact. But the Jews of the Bani Nazir who had settled at Khaibar did not forgive the Muslims the banishment which they had suffered. After Uhud they came to know of the agreement between the Muslims and the Quraish to fight another battle, and they waited patiently, hoping that in that battle the Muslims would be crushed. But when they found a year later that there was not going to be another battle, they decided to take direct action to bring on an attack against the Muslims.

As the summer of 626 came to an end, a delegation of the Jews of Khaibar set out for Makkah. Their leader was Huyaiy bin Akhtab, who had been the chief of the Bani Nazir in Madinah. On arrival at Makkah this delegation conferred with Abu Sufyan, and set about to organise an expedition against the Prophet. It was necessary for Huyaiy to work on the fears and emotions of the Quraish, and he started off by outlining the danger the Quraish faced from the spread of Islam in Arabia. If the Muslims reached Yamamah, the Quraish trade routes to Iraq and Bahrain would be blocked.

"Tell me, O Son of Akhtab", asked Abu Sufyan. "You are one of the People of the Book. Is it your opinion that the new religion of Muhammad is better than our religion?" Without batting an eye Huyaiy replied, "As one who knows the Book, I can assure you that your religion is better than Muhammad's. You are in the right." 1 This pleased the Quraish no end, and they agreed to fight Muhammad if other Arab tribes would join them.

The Jewish delegation then went to the Ghatfan and the Bain Asad with whom it had similar talks and achieved similar results. These and various other tribes all agreed to take part in a massive expedition to fight and destroy the Muslims.

1. Ibn Hisham: Vol. 2, p. 214.