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: 6

On the night of Friday, March 7, Huyaiy stole into the settlement of the Bani Quraizah. He knocked at the door of their leader, Kab bin Asad; but the latter, guessing that Huyaiy had come as a Jew and probably intended to incite his fellow Jews against the Prophet, refused to see him. After some wrangling, however, Huyaiy was allowed in, and he gently and cleverly began to work on Kab, pressing him to join the Allies in the war against the Muslims. At first Kab refused. "Muhammad has kept his pact with us, and we have no reason to complain", he said. "In any case you have no certainty of victory. If we join you and the campaign fails, your idol?worshippers will go back in peace to their homes and we will have to bear the brunt of the wrath of Muhammad." 1 But the visitor continued to press, now threatening, now tempting, now begging, and eventually got Kab to agree to a pact with the Allies. According to the terms of this pact there would be a simultaneous attack by the Allies and the Bani Quraizah. These Jews had their settlement and their forts two miles south?east of Madinah, and they would attack from this direction and draw some of the Muslims away from the ditch while the Allies attacked frontally. In case the attack failed, the Allies would leave a strong garrison in the Jewish forts to defend the Jews against the Muslims who were bound to turn against them in revenge. The Bani Quraizah asked for 10 days to prepare themselves before the attack was begun, during which period the Allies could continue minor operations from the north.

Thus the last of the Jews of Madinah, following in the footsteps of their co?religionists, broke their pact with the Muslims. Little did they know how heavily they would pay for their perfidy!

It was not long before the Prophet came to know about this pact. He got the intelligence through one of his agents who entered the camp of the Allies one night and unknown to them, overheard certain conversations. Then rumours of the pact also spread, and the report was ultimately confirmed by the incident of 'Safiyyah and the Jew'.

Safiyyah was an aunt of the Prophet, and along with other women and children had moved to a small fort in the south-eastern part of Madinah. Present in the fort was Hassaan the Poet, and he was the only man there! One day Safiyyah, looking down from the fort, saw a fully armed Jew moving stealthily beneath the wall as if seeking a way around the fort. Safiyyah at once concluded that he was a scout of the Bani Quraizah who had been sent to reconnoitre a route which the Jews might take in their attack. This Jew would act as a guide, leading his tribe into the unprotected rear of the Muslims.

Safiyyah went to the poet and said, "O Hassaan! There is a Jew who is seeking a way by which he can lead the Bani Quraizah to attack our settlements from the rear. You know that the Messenger of Allah and all the men are busy at the front and cannot detach forces to protect us. This man must be killed. Go and kill him at once!" "May Allah bless you, O Daughter of Abdul Muttalib," replied Hassaan, "you know that such work is not for me." Throwing a glance of contempt at the poet, Safiyyah picked up a club, tied a waist?band around her waist and went down to meet the Jew. The brave lady killed the Jew. Leaving him lying with a crushed skull in a pool of blood, she returned to the fort and said to Hassaan, "I have killed him, O Hassaan! Now go and take the booty from his body, for it is not right for a woman to undress a man." "May Allah bless you, O Daughter of Abdul Muttalib," replied Hassaan, "I have no need for such booty!" 2

When the news of this incident reached the Muslims, there was no doubt left in their minds about the treachery of the Bani Quraizah. The situation now became more tense, and the Hypocrites became more outspoken. From half rations the Muslims came down to quarter rations. (Later it was to become no rations!) Their resolution was still unshaken; but if the siege continued very much longer, sheer starvation would force the Muslims to submit. And the Muslims could find no direct military solution to the problem.

1. Ibn Hisham: Vol. 2, p. 221; Waqidi: Maghazi p. 292.
2. Ibn Hisham: Vol. 2, p. 228.