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The Unlettered Prophet (38)
Khalid Masud
(Tr. by:Nikhat Sattar)


The Rewards of the Hudaybiyyah Treaty 

1. Victory of Khaybar

God Almighty rewarded the faithful for their patience and perseverance and wisdom by promising them in Surah Fath that He will provide them with a magnificent victory in the near future in which they will also obtain war booty in plenty. This victory came two months after return from Hudaybiyyah. This was the victory over Khaybar, the largest centre of the Jews.

The Jews had a large population in Khaybar and its suburbs, Fadak and Makkah. When the Banu Nadir were exiled from Madinah, they had settled in the Khaybar. These people were instrumental in planning for the Battle of Ahzab. Even after they were defeated in that battle, their conspiracies did not end. Instead, they kept plotting with the idolatrous tribes of northern Arabia, the Banu Ghatfan and the Banu Sa‘d and continued to assess the possibility of preparing a large army to launch an attack on Madinah. This is the reason why the Prophet (sws) had to send commissions to many tribes to intimidate them and prevent them from becoming instruments of such conspiracies.

During the return journey from Hudaybiyyah, the Prophet (sws) was instructed about a new order to come soon from God. Only those people who had taken the oath of Ridwan were to be included in it. Those who had remained behind and not gone for ‘umrah would try to participate in anticipation of the booty but they were to be refused and told clearly that because they had refused to join them for ‘umrah, they had been forbidden to accompany them in this mission too.  

Those who lagged behind [will say], when ye [are free to] march and take booty [in war]: “Permit us to follow you.” They wish to change Allah’s decree: Say: “Not thus will ye follow us: Allah has already declared [this] beforehand”: then they will say: “But ye are jealous of us.” Nay, but little do they understand [such things]. (48:15) 

In the month of Muharram, 7th hijrah, the Prophet (sws) decided to break the influence of the Jews by attacking Khaybar. According to the above instruction, he took only those companions who had taken the oath of Ridwan and when others requested to be taken along, he refused. Biographers have quoted that his instruction was that no one who was not inclined towards jihad should be with them, but this does not explain the fact as described in Surah Fath. Narrators have not given the proper perspective. He must have said that only those people who had agreed for the first jihad should come on this journey; others were not required. This is the reason why the number of people in the army was 1400-1500, exactly the same who had gone for ‘umrah. The Quraysh had always assisted the Jews, but this time, they were unable to do so because of the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah. Thus, the Jews had to fight their own battle.

Because the Jews and the Banu Ghatfan were in cahoots, and it was quite possible that the Banu Ghatfan might come to the rescue of their allies, the Prophet (sws) camped at a place called Al-Raji‘, that was at the meeting point of the area of the Banu Ghatfan and Khaybar. The Banu Ghatfan came out to help the Jews, but when they sensed danger to their property and families, they preferred saving the latter.

The Prophet (sws) attacked Khaybar early in the morning. When the people of Khaybar came out with their spades and mattocks to work on their land, they found the army in front of them. They ran and took refuge in the Fort of Na‘im and closed its doors. They told the people within the fort that Muhammad (sws) was outside with his full army. The Prophet predicted: “God is the greatest! Khaybar shall be destroyed!” the Jew, Salam ibn Mishkam was present inside the fort and he was accompanied by people who were able to fight. During the siege, the famous Companion, Muhammad ibn Maslamah (rta) was standing under a wall of the fort when a door of the mill was thrown at him and he was killed. Both armies continued to throw arrows at each other. Finally, the Muslims were successful.

From among the Muslim army, the Banu Saham asked the Prophet (sws) for help as they did not have anything to eat or drink. The Prophet (sws) was short of rations. The Prophet (sws) prayed to God, saying that He knew of the circumstances of His servants; could He give them a castle in their custody from where they could meet their food needs? Thus, when the castle of Sa‘d ibn Mu‘adh was conquered, it had a large amount of foodstuff. A difficult castle was the castle of Qamus. This was possessed by the sons of Abu al-Huqayq, the leader of the Banu Nadir. It was conquered after a 20 day siege. The persons who were captured during this conquest included Safiyyah, the daughter of Huyy ibn Akhtab, the chief of the Banu Nadir. She was married to Kananah ibn Abi al-Huqayq. The Jews gathered within the castle of al-Zubayr which was situated at the top of a hill. The siege prolonged, but the castle could not be conquered. At last, the Muslims came to know that there was shortage of water within the castle and the Jews went down during the night to obtain water from a spring. The Muslims found the spring and stopped access to it. The Jews came out and after some resistance, the castle was conquered.

A large number of the Jews were concentrated within two castles, al-Watih and al-Salalim. The Prophet (sws) asked who would fight them. Muhammad ibn Maslamah (rta) got up and said: “O Prophet of Allah, these people have killed my brother Mahmud. I will go out to take revenge for him.” The Prophet (sws) prayed for his victory. As he went forward, Marhab attacked him with his sword. The sword was stuck in the helmet and, while he was trying to disengage it, Muhammad ibn Maslamah (rta) killed him. After this, Marhab’s brother Yasir came forward and called out for competition. Zubayr ibn al-‘Awwam fought and killed him. Some narratives suggest that ‘Ali (rta) had killed Marhab. Finally, these castles too were conquered.

Kananah ibn Abi al-Huqayq possessed in his custody the treasures of the Banu Nadir, which they had brought from Madinah. The Prophet (sws) called Kananah and asked him about this, first taking an oath that he would tell the truth and not hide anything. Kananah showed his ignorance about such a treasure. It was conveyed to the Prophet (sws) that Kananah had been seen going to a certain deserted place. The Prophet (sws) gave orders for digging there and the treasure was discovered. Then the Prophet (sws) gave Kananah in the custody of Muhammad ibn Maslamah (rta) who made an effort to force the former to give information about the rest of the treasure but was unsuccessful. Ultimately, Kananah was killed.

When the Jews were no longer able to fight, they requested for peace. Muhaysah ibn Mas‘ud negotiated with them to find out their views. It was decided that the Muslims would possess all the property and wealth but the Jews would continue to work on the agricultural land. Half of the produce would belong to them and the other half to the new masters. Further, this arrangement would not be permanent. Muslims could expel the Jews anytime they wished.

When all matters had been settled with the Jews, Salam ibn Mishkam’s wife Zaynab sent a roasted goat to the Prophet (sws). She had poisoned it well. As soon as the Prophet (sws) took a mouthful, he realized that it was poisoned and threw it out.  Bishr ibn Bara’a ibn Ma‘rur had swallowed his mouthful. He fell sick and died. The Prophet (sws) asked for Zaynab who admitted her crime but the Prophet (sws) forgave her.

Considering the situation in Khaybar, the rest of the Jewish population in Fadak and Wadi al-Qura’ etc made an agreement with the Muslims on the same terms as those for Khaybar before they came towards them.

After the war, when the Prophet (sws) distributed captives among the soldiers, it was found that Safiyyah was the daughter of the Jewish leader, Huyy ibn Akhtab. The Prophet (sws) freed her first and then married her.


(Translated by Nikhat Sattar)



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