Battle of Khyber


Contemporary scholar Laura Veccia Vaglieri, while giving full credence to Watt’s view, points out other reasons such as Muhammad’s raising his prestige among his followers, as well as his capturing booty to sustain subsequent conquests. [4][5] The Jews of Khaybar finally surrendered and were allowed to live in the oasis on the condition that they would give one-half of their produce to the Muslims. Jews continued to live in the oasis for several more years until they were finally expelled by caliph Umar. The imposition of tribute upon the conquered Jews served as a precedent for provisions in the Islamic law requiring the exaction of tribute known as jizya from non-Muslims under Muslim rule, and confiscation of land belonging to non-Muslims into the collective property of the Muslim community.

In return, non-Muslim citizens were permitted to practice their faith, to enjoy a measure of communal autonomy, to be entitled to Muslim state’s protection from outside aggression, and to be exempted from military service and the Zakat, which is obligatory upon Muslim citizens. |Contents | |[hide] | |1 Pretext to battle | |1. 1 Khaybar in the 7th century | |1. 2 Banu Nadir | |1. 3 Treaty of Hudaybiyya | |1. 4 Political situation | |2 Course of battle | |2. Jewish pre-emtive attack | |2. 2 Storming Naim | |2. 3 Failure of Banu Ghatafan | |3 Aftermath | |4 The battle in classic Islamic literature | |5 See also | |6 Notes | |7 References | [pic][edit] Pretext to battle [edit] Khaybar in the 7th century Main article: Jewish community of Khaybar

In the 7th century, Khaybar was inhabited by Jews. The inhabitants had stored in a redoubt at Khaybar a siege-engine, swords, lances, shields and other weaponry. In the past some scholars attempted to explain the presence of the weapons, suggesting that they were used for settling quarrels among the families of the community. Vaglieri suggests that it is more logical to assume that the weapons were stored in a depot for future sale. Similarly the Jews kept 20 bales of cloth and 500 cloaks for sale, and other luxury goods. These commercial activities as a cause of hostility, Vaglieri argues, are similar to the economic causes behind persecutions in many other countries throughout history. 4] The oasis was divided into three regions: al-Natat, al-Shikk, and al-Katiba, probably separated by natural divisions, such as the desert, lava drifts, and swamps. Each of these regions contained several fortresses or redoubts including homes, storehouses and stables. Each fortress was occupied by a separate family and surrounded by cultivated fields and palm-groves. In order to improve their defensive capabilities, the fortresses were raised up on hills or basalt rocks.

Banu Nadir See also: Banu Nadir After they were sent into exile in 625, the Banu Nadir had settled in Khaybar. In 627, the Nadir chief Huyayy ibn Akhtab together with his son joined the Meccans and Bedouins besieging Medina during the Battle of the Trench. 8] In addition, the Nadir paid Arabian tribes to go to war against the Muslims. Bribing Banu Ghatafan with half their harvest, Banu Nadir secured 2,000 men 300 horsemen from the tribe to attack Muhammad,[9][10] and similarly persuaded the Bani Asad. [11] They attempted to get the Banu Sulaym to attack the Muslims, but the tribe gave them only 700 men, since some of its leaders were sympathetic towards Islam; the Bani Amir refused to join them all together, as they had a pact with Muhammad. [12] Once the battle started, Huyayy ibn Akhtab persuaded the Banu Qurayza to go against their covenant with Muhammad and turn against him during the battle. 13] After defeat of the confederates in the battle and Qurayza’s subsequent surrender, Huyayy (who was at that time in the Qurayza strongholds of Medina) was killed alongside the men of the Qurayza.

After the death of Huyayy, Abu al-Rafi ibn Abi al-Huqayq took charge of the Banu Nadir at Khaybar. Al-Huqayq soon approached neighboring tribes to raise an army against Muhammad. [14][15] After learning this, the Muslims, aided by an Arab with a Jewish dialect, assassinated him. [16] Al-Huqayq was succeeded by Usayr ibn Zarim. It has been recorded by one source[17] that Usayr also approached the Ghatafan and rumors spread that he intended to attack the “capital of Muhammad”. The latter sent Abdullah bin Rawaha with a number of his ompanions, among whom were Abdullah bin Unays, an ally of Banu Salima, a clan hostile to the Jews. When they came to him they spoke to him and treated him saying that if he would come to Muhammad he would give him an appointment and honour him. They kept on at him until he went with them with a number of Jews. Abdullah bin Unays mounted him on his beast until when he was in al-Qarqara, about six miles from Khaybar, Usayr changed his mind about going with them. Abdullah perceived his intention as he was preparing to draw his sword so he rushed at him and struck him with his sword cutting off his leg. Usayr hit him with a stick of shauhat wood which he had in his hand and wounded his head.

All Muhammad’s emissaries fell upon the thirty Jewish companions and killed them except one man who escaped on his feet. [18] Abdullah bin Unays is the assassin who volunteered and got permission to kill Banu Nadir’s Sallam ibn Abu al-Huqayq at a previous night mission in Khaybar. Many scholars have considered the above machinations of the Nadir as a reason for the battle. According to Montgomery Watt, their intriguing and use of their wealth to incite tribes against Muhammad left him no choice to attack;[19] Vaglieri concurs that one reason for attack was that the Jews of Khaybar were responsible for the Confederates that attacked Muslims during the Battle of the Trench. 4] Shibli Numani also sees Khaybar’s actions during the Battle of the Trench, and draws particular attention to Banu Nadir’s leader Huyayy ibn Akhtab, who had gone to the Banu Qurayza during the battle to instigate them to attack Muhammad. [14] [edit] Treaty of Hudaybiyya See also: Treaty of Hudaybiyya In 628, when the Muslims attempted to perform the pilgrimage,[20] After much negotiations, the Muslims entered a peace treaty with the Quraysh, ending the Muslim-Quraysh wars.

Some of his followers, however, were discontent at the terms Muhammad had agreed to. [21] Scholars agree that Muhammad’s need to raise his prestige amongst his followers, which had been eroded by the Treaty, was one reason for the battle. 4][22][23][24] Vaglieri also argues that the conquest of Khaybar would satisfy those Muslims who had hoped to conquer Mecca, as well as bring in army and money. [4] Stillman adds that Muhammad needed the victory to show the Bedouins, who were not strongly tied to the rest of the Muslim community, that the alliance with him would pay off. [22] In addition, the treaty also gave Muhammad the assurance of not being attacked in the rear by the Meccans during the expedition. [4] [edit] Political situation As war with Muhammad seemed imminent, the Jews of Khaybar entered into an alliance with the Jews of Fadak oasis. They also successfully persuaded the Bedouin Ghatafan tribe to join their side in the war in exchange for half their produce.

However, the lack of central authority at Khaybar prevented any further defensive preparations, and quarrels between different families left the Jews disorganized. [4] The Banu Fazara, related to the Ghatafan, also offered their assistance to Khaybar, after their unsuccessful negotiations with the Muslims. [25] [edit] Course of battle Before the battle, the people of Khaybar no doubt knew of the war. The Muslims set out for Khaybar in May 628, Muharram 7 AH. [26] According to different sources, the strength of Muslims army varied from 1,400 to 1,800 men and between 100 and 200 horses. Some Muslim women (including Umm Salama) also joined the army, in order to take care of the wounded. 27] Compared to the Khaybarian fighting strength of 10,000, the Muslim contingent was small, but this gave Muslims advantages. It allowed Muslims to swiftly and quietly march to Khaybar (in only three days[28]), catching the city by surprise. It also made Khaybar over-confident in themselves. [29] As a result, the Jews failed to mount a centrally organized defense, leaving each family to defend its own fortified redoubt. [4][22] [edit] Jewish pre-emtive attack The Jews, going on the offensive, charged from Natat attacking the Muslim army’s flanks. When the Muslims started their operations they met with much opposition, in particular from Jewish Khabarian archers, the best in Arabia, who wounded more than 50 Muslims.

The Muslims pressed on with their attack or five days, but were met with no success. The Muslims did not make any gains on the sixth day, but on that night, a Jewish spy was caught, who was interrogated and told the Muslims that they should attack the fort of Naim. [2] [edit] Storming Naim The advantages of attacking Naim was that it wasn’t well-guarded and could fall with the least effort. In addition it had a stockpile of weapons (especially siege engines) stored, that could be used against the more well-defended forts. [2] Muhammad sent various contingents to attack the fort, first under Abu Bakr who failed,later led by Umar who also failed, and finally under the champion warrior Ali. 28] Duels took place between Ali and Marhab, the chief of the fort, and between Zubayr and Yasir (Marhab’s brother) – both resulting in Muslim victory. Ali incredibly managed to seize a portal on himself, which according to islamic sources, would take between 40 to 45 people to move it. He then used it as a bridge to bring his men into the fort. Fighting inside the fort continued, until the Jewish leader Al-Harith ibn Abi Zaynab was killed in combat. [28] When the fort fell, Muslims recovered various siege machines. Among them was a ballista for hurling projectiles, and two testudos that could bring men to the walls so they could breach an entrance. [2] [edit] Failure of Banu Ghatafan

Knowing the outcome of Muhammad’s battles with other Jewish tribes, the Jews of Khaybar put up fierce resistance, and the Muslims were forced to take the fortresses one by one. During the battle, the Muslims were able to prevent Khaybar’s Ghatafan allies (consisting of 4,000 men) from providing them with reinforcements. One reason given is that the Muslims were able to buy off the Bedouin allies of the Jews. Watt, however, also suggests that rumors of a Muslim attack on Ghatafan strongholds might also have played a role. [22][30] The Jews, after a rather bloody skirmish in front of one of the fortresses, avoided combat in the open country. Most of the fighting consisted of shooting arrows at a great distance. On at least one occasion he Muslims were able to storm the fortresses. The besieged Jews managed to organize, under the cover of darkness, the transfer of people and treasures from one fortress to another as needed to make their resistance more effective. [4] Neither the Jews nor the Muslims were prepared for an extended siege, and both suffered from a lack of provisions. The Jews, initially overconfident in their strength, failed to prepare even enough water supplies for a short siege. [31] After the forts at an-Natat and those at ash-Shiqq were captured, there remained the last and the heavily guarded fortress called al-Qamus, the siege of which lasted almost a month.

Several attempts by Muslims to capture this citadel in some single combat,[32] failed. All this time Ali, son-inlaw and cousin of Prophet Muhammad, was ill and could not participate in the failed attempts. Now Prophet Muhammad called for Ali to capture the citadel. Harith, a Jewish champion who have severely repulsed the previous attacks, stepped forward and was killed by Ali. Then followed his brother Marhab, a famed Arab warrior,[33] who was again killed by Ali and the citadel was conquered… [33][34] “The Apostle revived their (his followers) faith by the example of Ali, on whom he bestowed the surname of the Lion of God”[35] The Jews speedily met with Muhammad to discuss the terms of surrender. [32] The people of al-Wa? and al-Sulalim surrendered to the Muslims on the condition that they be “treated leniently” and the Muslims refrain from shedding their blood. Muhammad agreed to these conditions and did not take any of the property of these two forts. [36] [edit] Aftermath Muhammad met with Ibn Abi al-Huqaiq, al-Katibah and al-Watih[37] to discuss the terms of surrender. As part of the agreement, the Jews of Khaybar were to evacuate the area, and surrender their wealth. The Muslims, would cease warfare, and not hurt any of the Jews.

After the agreement some Jews approached Muhammad, with a request to continue to cultivate their fine orchards, and remain in the oasis. In return, they would give one-half of their produce to the Muslims. Muhammad beheaded 2,000 of his captives at an all-day fest. 37] According to Ibn Hisham’s version of the pact with Khaybar, it was concluded on the condition that the Muslims “may expel you [Jews of Khaybar] if and when we wish to expel you. ” Norman Stillman believes that this is probably a later interpolation intended to justify the expulsion of Jews in 642. [36] The agreement with the Jews of Khaybar served as an important precedent for Islamic Law in determining the status of dhimmis, (non-Muslims under Muslim rule). [4][6][7] After hearing about this battle, the people of Fadak, allied with Khaybar during the battle, sent Mu? ayyisa b. Masud to Muhammad. Fadak offered to be “treated leniently” in return for surrender. A treaty similar to that of Khaybar was drawn with Fadak as well. 36] Among the Jewish women there was one who was chosen by Muhammad as wife.

It was Safiyya bint Huyayy, daughter of the killed Banu Nadir chief Huyayy ibn Akhtab and widow of Kinana ibn al-Rabi, the treasurer of Banu Nadir. According to Ibn Ishaq, when Muhammad asked him to locate the tribe’s treasure, al-Rabi denied knowing where it was breaking the surrender treaty. A Jew told Muhammad that he had seen Al-Rabi near a certain ruin every morning. When the ruin was excavated, it was found to contain some of the treasure. Muhammad ordered Al-Zubayr to interrogate al-Rabi until he revealed the location of the rest, then handed him to Muhammad ibn Maslamah, whose brother had died in the battle, to be beheaded. 36][38] However, the authour of this event states that he had gotten it from an unnamed source, hence Muslims have deemned it unauthentic. Muslim biographers of Muhammad tell a story that a Jewish woman of the Banu Nadir tribe attempted to poison Muhammad to avenge her slain relatives. She poisoned a piece of lamb that she cooked for Muhammad and his companion, putting especially much poison into the shoulder — Muhammad’s favorite part of lamb.

The attempt on Muhammad’s life failed because he reportedly spat out the meat, feeling that it was poisoned, while his companion ate the meat and died. Muhammad’s companions reported that, on his deathbed, Muhammad said that his illness was the result of that poisoning. 39] The victory in Khaybar greatly raised the status of Muhammad among his followers and, local Bedouin tribes, who, seeing his power, swore allegiance to Muhammad and converted to Islam. The captured booty and weapons strengthened his army, and he captured Mecca just 18 months after Khaybar. [4][22] [edit] The battle in classic Islamic literature The traditional Muslim biographies of Muhammad report that in one of the fortresses, first Abu Bakr, then Umar, took up the standard in the hope of breaking down their resistance, by putting themselves at the head of the attacks, but both failed. According to this tradition, Muhammad then called for Ali, who killed a Jewish chieftain with a sword-stroke, which split in two the helmet, the head and the body of the victim.

Having lost his shield, Ali is said to have lifted both of the doors of the fortress from its hinges, climbed into the moat and held them up to make a bridge whereby the attackers gained access to the redoubt. The door was so heavy that forty men were required to put it back in place. This story is one basis for the Muslim view, especially in Shi’a Islam, of Ali as the prototype of heroes. [4][40] On one occasion, Muslim soldiers killed and cooked a score of donkeys, which had escaped from a farm. The incident led Muhammad to forbid to Muslims the meat of horses, mules, and donkeys, unless consumption was forced by necessity. The Jews surrendered when after a month and a half of the siege, all but two fortresses were captured by the Muslims.

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