had good reasons to be apprehensive of the Bani Quraizah for he was
mindful that his cruel treatment of the other Jewish tribes may drive the
Bani Quraizah to side with the enemy.
often claim that the massacre of the Bani Quraizah was justifiable because
they broke their treaty with Muhammad. However it is not clear in what
ways the Jews broke their treaty. But we can see that Muhammad had already
broken his treaty when he assassinated Asma bint Marwan, Abu Afak and
Ka’b ibn Ashraf and when he besieged the Bani Qainuqa and Bani Nadir,
confiscated their wealth and expelled them from the town.
south-eastern entrance of the city, where the fortress of Bani Quraizah
was built at a distance of two or three miles, was the most vulnerable
part. The Jews had still many friends and adherents among the citizens and
when the siege prolonged and the weakness of the Muslims became apparent,
disaffection lurked everywhere and talks of desertion were being heard
even among the professed followers of Muhammad. Muhammad was fearful of
his own life and while the soldiers were camped along the ditches, he
stayed in the mosque amidst the women and children with a strong guard to
keep vigil over him.
enemy, notwithstanding their number was unable to cross the ditch reach
and the vigilance of the Muslim outposts. Although they dismissed the
trenches as an unworthy subterfuge, "a foreign artifice, to which no
Arabs have ever yet descended" it were those trenches that hold them
back from marching into the city.
a few days of frustrating wait, a cavalry of four men including Ikrima,
the son of Abul Hakam, and Amr ibn Abd Wudd discovered a rocky point where
the trench was not too wide. They spurred their horses from it, and
succeeded in clearing the crevice!
off from their own army and in the perimeter of
, they boldly advanced into the Muslim camp, and challenged them to fight
in a single combat. Ali with a few others rose to move out against them.
Muhammad, fearful that Ali, who was now also his son in law, might be
killed stopped him hoping that someone else would rise to the challenge.
But no other man dared to respond to Amr’s challenge, who despite his
advanced age was still considered to be a formidable warrior.
Muhammad had to let Ali meet the challenger. As for himself, Muhammad
never fought in any war personally nor he ever took risks with his life.
Ali and old Amr closed in and for a while they were lost in the dust. An
unconfirmed tradition says that the fight lasted for a long time when Ali,
who was wounded, suddenly exclaimed: “See thy brother is coming behind
thee.” Amr looked round and Ali taking advantage of his distraction slew
him at once. Then he stood up and shouted Allahu Akbar announcing his
victory over his aging opponent.
seeing the death of Amr, the rest of the Meccan party spurred their horses
over the trench and managed to leap back to the other side, excepting
Nowfal, who fell and Zobeir jumped on the wounded man and dispatched him.
trench was guarded intensely and the Meccans were not able to cross it. To
protect the trench Muslims did not say their prayers and Muhammad is
reported to have cursed the pagans for that.
diverted us from (offering) the middle prayer. i. e. the 'Asr prayer. May
Allah fill their bellies and their graves with fire,!"
this war Muslims lost only five men and Sa’d ibn Muadh, was wounded
severely by an arrow in the shoulder. The confederates had but three men
killed. Despite this low rate of casualties, the army of
was exhausted of the continuous watch and duty. The siege seemed endless.
Those who lived outside the town wanted to leave, bring the excuses to
fear that their houses would be plundered, and many inside the town showed
the signs of disaffection. Muhammad was wary of not only his followers who
were wondering, “Where is the Divine assistance that he had promised”,
but also of the Jews who he feared could attack him from the rear.
now appeared weak and helpless in the eyes of his people. Muhammad recalls
these dreary tiring days in the Quran: -
“Behold! they came on you from above you and from below you, and
behold, the eyes became dim and the hearts gaped up to the throats, and ye
imagined various (vain) thoughts about Allah!” Quran
was the state of panic that once Safiya, Muhammad’s aunt, saw a Jew
prowling, or so she thought, and fearing that he is spying on the state of
the Muslims and might report their disappointment and defenseless state to
the enemy, she asked Hasan the Poet, who was present, to go and kill him.
Hasan thought her fears are unfounded and declined to commit the murder.
So Safiya herself went down and slew that Jew taking him by surprise. Sira
this point Muhammad tried to break the confederates by bribing the
Ghatafans. He offered them a third of the dates of
if they withdrew from the confederates. The Ghatafan responded that they
would agree if they were given half of the proceeds. Muhammad consented
but he had overestimated his authority over his followers. Sa’d ibn
Muadh was consulted and he vehemently declined this humiliating treaty and
the deal fell through. Sira p.291.
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