The Life and Character of the Seal of Prophets – Chapter IX

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Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad(ra) was one of the sons of the Promised Messiah(as). Born on April 20, 1893 he passed his matriculation in 1910 with distinction, and according to the wishes of the Promised Messiah(as), attained an MA in Arabic in 1916. A great religious scholar and prolific writer, his books and speeches are easily understandable by the average reader. Some of his important works include Siratul Mahdi (Life of the Mahdi), Silsila-e-Ahmadiyya (The Ahmadiyya community), Tabligh-e-Hidayat (Propagation of Guidance), Kalimutal Fasl (The Decisive Word) and Hamara Khuda (Our God). He also contributed countless articles to magazines and periodicals of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, such as the daily Al-Fazl, and was Editor of The Review of Religions for many years. Sirat Khatamun Nabiyyin is his magnum opus; an outstanding biography of the Holy Prophet(saw), which includes insightful analysis and commentary on various aspects of his life. For the first time this book has been translated into English. The English rendering, “The Life and Character of the Seal of Prophets,” will be serialised in various parts in The Review of Religions.

life-and-character

First ever serialisation of the newly translated Volume II of Hadhrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra’s outstanding biography, Seerat Khatamun Nabiyyin, on the life and character of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa. In this section, we explore the circumstances surrounding the exile of the Banu Nadir tribe.

 

Exile of the Banu Nadir – Rabi‘ul-Awwal 4 A.H.

When a nation is doomed to days of misfortune, its vision falls weaker and it does not pay due attention towards taking a lesson and warning from events. As such, instead of taking admonition from the exile of the Banu Qainuqa‘, and refraining from acts of mischief and disturbance; and instead of allowing the Muslims to live in peace and living their own lives in peace, the remaining two tribes from among the Jews did not change their behaviour. In hiding, they continued to kindle flames of mischief against the Muslims, and continued to conspire with the Quraish of Makkah as well. As a matter of fact, after the exile of the Banu Qainuqa‘, the hostility of the Jews grew even more than before, and their plans began to take on a more dangerous state day by day. As such, not long after the incidents of Raji‘ and Bi’r-e-Ma‘unah, when the course of events took on a more critical state, for his own protection, the Holy Prophetsa was compelled to take military action against the Banu Nadir, due to which, this tribe was ultimately exiled from Madinah as well. Describing the causes leading up to this Ghazwah, experts of Hadith and Sirat have presented varying factors. Due to these varying views, a difference of opinion has also arisen with respect to the era of this Ghazwah. Ibni Ishaq and Ibni Sa‘d, who I have followed here without any specific investigation, have placed the Ghazwah of Banu Nadir after the battle of Uhud and the incident of Bi’r-e-Ma‘unah. In support of this view, they write that on his way back to Madinah, ‘Amr bin Umaiyyah Ḍamrira , who was taken captive and then released by the disbelievers in the incident of Bi’r-e-Ma‘unah, encountered two men from the tribe of Banu ‘Amir, who had entered into a treaty with the Holy Prophetsa . Since ‘Amr was unaware of this treaty and agreement, upon finding an opportunity, he killed these two men in retribution for the martyrs of Bi’r-e-Ma‘unah, whose deaths were owed to a chieftain of the Banu ‘Amir, named ‘Amir bin Tufail, even though, as mentioned earlier, the people of Banu ‘Amir had themselves refrained from this murder and bloodshed. When ‘Amr bin Umaiyyahra arrived to Madinah, he submitted the entire account to the Holy Prophetsa , and told him about the killing of those two men as well. When the Holy Prophetsa was informed of the killing of these two men, he was very displeased by this action of ‘Amr bin Umaiyyahra , and said,  “They were our confederates.” The Holy Prophetsa immediately sent the blood-money of both these men to the respective families. However, since the people of the Banu ‘Amir were allies of the Banu Nadir, and the Banu Nadir were allies of the Muslims, by virtue of treaty, the Banu Nadir were also liable to bear an equal share of the blood-money. As such, along with a few of his Companions, the Holy Prophetsa went to the settlement of the Banu Nadir and explaining the entire incident, he asked for their share of the blood-money. Apparently, it seemed as if they were joyous upon the arrival of the Holy Prophetsa, and asked him to sit while they went and arranged for the money at once. As such, the Holy Prophetsa took a seat in the shade of a wall along with his Companions, and the Banu Nadir retired to one side in order to deliberate. They apparently made it seem as if they were arranging for the money, but instead of this, they actually schemed that this was a perfect opportunity. They thought that as Muhammadsa was sitting in the shade of a house up against its wall; if someone were to climb to the top of the house from the opposite side and throw a large stone upon the Holy Prophetsa, he could be finished once and for all.1

 From among the Jews, an individual by the name of Salam bin Mashkam opposed this idea and argued that this was an act of treachery, and violated the terms of their agreement with the Holy Prophetsa, but the others did not pay heed.2 Finally, a Jew by the name of ‘Amr bin Jahhash climbed to the top of the house with a very large stone and was about to roll it off from above, but it is narrated that God the Exalted informed the Holy Prophetsa about this sinister plan of the Jews by way of revelation. The Holy Prophetsa stood up immediately, and this was so unexpected that his Companions as well as the Jews thought that the Holy Prophetsa had stood up to attend to an immediate matter. Hence, they continued to calmly sit and wait for the Holy Prophetsa. However, the Holy Prophetsa made way to Madinah at once. The Companions waited for the Holy Prophetsa for some time, but when he did not return, they stood up in concern, and during the course of their search for the Holy Prophetsa, ultimately saw their way to Madinah as well. It was then that the Holy Prophetsa informed the Companions of the dangerous conspiracy of the Jews.3 After this, the Holy Prophetsa called upon Muhammad bin Maslamahra, a chief of the Aus tribe and said:

“Go to the Banu Nadir and speak to them about this issue. Tell them that since they have gone too far in their acts of mischief and their treachery has reached its extreme limit, it is no longer appropriate for them to remain in Madinah. It is better that they leave Madinah and take up residence somewhere else.”

The Holy Prophetsa gave them a time limit of ten days. When Muhammad bin Maslamahra went to them, they behaved most arrogantly and said, “Tell Muhammadsa that we are not prepared to leave Madinah, do what you may.” When the Holy Prophetsa received this response from the Jews, he spontaneously said, “God is the Greatest, it appears as if the Jews are prepared for war.”4 The Holy Prophetsa instructed the Muslims to prepare and stepped into the field of battle against the Banu Nadir with a group of his Companions.

Most historians have adopted the above-mentioned narration, to the extent that this very narration has become generally renowned and prominent in history. However, in contrast to this, an authentic narration has been transmitted by Imam Zuhri. This narration states that after the Battle of Badr (the exact year and month are not known), the chieftains of the Quraish wrote a letter to the Banu Nadir saying, “Declare war against Muhammadsa and the Muslims, or we shall wage war against you.” Upon this, the Banu Nadir mutually consulted and decided that they should tactfully assassinate the Holy Prophetsa. To this end, they schemed to invite the Holy Prophetsa by some excuse, and then find an opportunity to murder him. As such, they sent word to the Holy Prophetsa that they would like to arrange a religious dialogue between the Holy Prophetsa and their own scholars.5  They claimed that if the truth of the Holy Prophetsa became evident to them, they would accept him; therefore, the Holy Prophetsa should come along with thirty Companions so that an exchange of religious views could take place with thirty Jewish scholars.6 On the one hand, they conveyed this message to the Holy Prophetsa, while on the other, they consolidated their scheme and fully prepared accordingly. They conspired that after the Holy Prophetsa had arrived, these very same “scholars,” secretly possessing hidden daggers, would find an opportunity and assassinate the Holy Prophetsa. However, a lady from the tribe of the Banu Nadir transmitted timely information with respect to the evil motives of her people to a man from the Ansar, who was her brother. The Holy Prophetsa had only just left his residence when he received this news and returned.7 The Holy Prophetsa immediately commanded mobilisation, and set out towards the fortresses of the Banu Nadir. As soon as he reached there, the Holy Prophetsa besieged them and sent a message to their chieftains that under the circumstances which had come to light, they could not be permitted to remain in Madinah, until they were to settle a new treaty with the Holy Prophetsa and assure him that they would not violate their treaty and commit treachery again. The Jews, however, plainly refused to settle another treaty, and in this manner, war commenced. The Banu Nadir very arrogantly took to their fortresses. On the following day, the Holy Prophetsa received news, or perhaps gathered from the circumstances that the other tribe of the Jews, known as the Banu Quraizah was also displaying signs of rebellion. The Holy Prophetsa took along a detachment and marched towards the fortresses of the Banu Quraizah and besieged them as well. When the Banu Quraizah saw that their secret had been leaked, they became fearful and seeking forgiveness, settled a new treaty of peace and security, and a mutual alliance with the Holy Prophetsa. Upon this, the Holy Prophetsa lifted the siege and returned to the fortresses of the Banu Nadir. However, the Banu Nadir persisted in their obstinacy and hostility, and a proper state of war commenced.8

 These are the two varying narrations which have been related with respect to the cause of the Ghazwah of Banu Nadir. From a historical perspective, the latter narration is more correct and authentic, and other narrations also support this in principle. However, the first narration has been more widely accepted by historians and various authentic Ahadith have also alluded to its authenticity. As such, although Imam Bukhari has given precedence to the narration of Zuhri, he has still mentioned the blood-money of the two people who were killed from the ‘Amir tribe.9 Therefore, in our opinion, if both narrations are deemed to be correct and taken together, there is no harm in this. Albeit, as far as the era of this Ghazwah is concerned, one narration must be given preference from among the two, because in this respect, both narrations cannot be correct. It appears as if on various occasions, different causes for war were created by the Banu Nadir, and the Holy Prophetsa continued to grant them respite and dealt with them in a forgiving manner. However, when the final cause arose after the incident of Bi’r-e-Ma‘unah, the Holy Prophetsa reminded them of all their previous designs and finally took military action against them. In other words, all the causes which have been mentioned are correct in their own right, but the final motivating factor was the one that took place when the blood-moneywas demanded for the two men killed from the Banu ‘Amir.10

It should also be remembered that Ka‘b bin Ashraf, whose execution has been alluded to above and who had ignited a fire of hostility against the Muslims was also from the Banu Nadir.

In any case, the Jewish tribe of the Banu Nadir violated their treaty and acted treacherously, and conspired to assassinate the Holy Prophetsa. When they were told that under these circumstances it was no longer appropriate for them to remain in Madinah and that they should leave, they behaved arrogantly and rebelliously. Furthermore, they refused to settle a new treaty and became prepared for war. For this reason, the Holy Prophetsa had no other choice but to step into the field of battle. As such, in his own absence, the Holy Prophetsa appointed Ibni Maktumra as the Imamus-Salat for the settlement of Madinah. With a group of Companions, the Holy Prophetsa set out from Madinah himself and besieged the village of the Banu Nadir. According to the custom of warfare at the time, the Banu Nadir took to their fortresses. It was perhaps on this occasion that ‘Abdullah bin Ubaiyy bin Sulul and the other hypocrites of Madinah sent word to the chieftains of the Banu Nadir saying, “Do not fear the Muslims at all, for we shall support you and shall fight on your behalf.” However, to the surprise of the Banu Nadir, when war practically commenced, these hypocrites could not muster the courage to openly enter the field of battle in opposition to the Holy Prophetsa11;nor could the Banu Quraizah dare to step into the battlefield against the Muslims and openly aid the Banu Nadir either, although they were with them at heart, and would aid them in secret as well; and the Muslims had even become aware of this.12 In any case, the Banu Nadir did not openly take to the field in opposition to the Muslims and retired to their fortresses instead. However, according to the circumstances of that era, their fortresses were very strong and for this reason, they were confident that the Muslims would be able to do them no harm whatsoever, and would themselves become frustrated and lift the siege. There is no doubt that according to the circumstances of that era, to conquer such fortresses was a very difficult and strenuous task, and demanded a very long siege. As such, the Muslims continued the siege for many days, but there was no outcome. After a few days had passed, and no outcome came about; and the Banu Nadir remained bent upon conflict as usual, the Holy Prophetsa issued the order that some of the date trees belonging to the Banu Nadir, which were situated in the exterior grounds beyond their fortresses should be cut down.13 These trees which were cut down bore a type of date known as Linah,14 which is a very low-grade date and whose fruit cannot generally be consumed by humans.15  The intention behind this order was so that the Banu Nadir would become awe-stricken at the sight of these trees being cut down, and so that they would open the gates of their fortresses; in this manner, with the loss of a few trees, the loss of countless lives, as well as conflict and rebellion in the country could be prevented. Hence, this strategy proved to be successful and only six trees had been cut down16 when the Banu Nadir began to raise a hue and cry, perhaps under the assumption that the Muslims would cut down all their trees, which included those bearing high-quality fruit as well. Nonetheless, as the Holy Qur’an has elaborated, only a few trees were permitted to be cut down, and even those were of the Linah date. With respect to the remaining trees, however, it was instructed that they be safeguarded.17 Even under normal circumstances, the Muslims were not permitted to cut down the fruit-bearing trees of their enemy.18 In any case, this strategy proved to be successful and being struck with awe, after a siege of fifteen days, the Banu Nadir opened the gates of their fortresses on the condition that they would be permitted to leave with all of their property and belongings in peace and security.19 This was the very same offer which the Holy Prophetsa had already presented. Since the only desire of the Holy Prophetsa was the establishment of peace, turning a blind eye towards the hardship and expenses, which the Muslims had been made to bear in this campaign, even now, the Holy Prophetsa accepted the condition of the Banu Nadir and appointed his Companion Muhammad bin Maslamahra to supervise the departure of the Banu Nadir from Madinah in peace and security.20 As such, with great pomp, splendour and magnificence, the Banu Nadir took along all their movable belongings and possessions. They even demolished their own homes with their own hands, and dislocated their doors, door-frames, and wood and took them along as well.21

It is written that these people left Madinah with such joy, pomp and show, singing and playing their instruments, as if they were a marriage procession.22 However, their equipment of war, their immovable property, such as orchards, etc., came to the hands of the Muslims. Since this wealth had been acquired without any practical war, in light of the Islamic Shari‘at, the privilege of its division was solely in the hands of the Messenger of Allah. The Holy Prophetsa mostly divided this wealth among the poor Muhajirin,23 whose means of sustenance was still being borne by the properties of the Ansar, according to the initial system of brotherhood. In this manner, the Ansar indirectly became partners in this wealth of spoils as well.24

When the Banu Nadir were departing from Madinah under the supervision of the Companion Muhammad bin Maslamahra, some of the Ansar attempted to restrain those people who were actually from the progeny of the Ansar, but had become Jewish due to vows made by the Ansar, and the Banu Nadir desired to take them along. However, this demand of the Ansar was against the following Islamic injunction:

 

“There should be no compulsion in the matter of religion.”25

 Hence, the Holy Prophetsa decided against the case presented by the Muslims and issued a verdict in favour of the Jews saying, “We cannot stop any person from leaving who is a Jew and desires to leave.”26 Albeit two men from the Banu Nadir became Muslim of their own choice and remained in Madinah.27

There is a narration which relates that the Holy Prophetsa ordered the Banu Nadir to move towards Syria, i.e., that they should not remain in Arabia. However, despite this, a few of their chieftains such as Salam bin Abil-Huqaiq, Kinanah bin Rabi‘ and Huyaiyy bin Akhtab, etc., and a segment of their commoners as well, resettled to the north of Hijaz in the renowned Jewish village of Khaibar. The people of Khaibar welcomed them with open arms28 and as shall be mentioned later at its appropriate place, these people ultimately became the cause of very dangerous sedition and incitement of war. The Banu Quraizah, who ignored all of their treaties and agreements, and acted treacherously towards the Holy Prophetsa and abetted the Banu Nadir, were forgiven by the Holy Prophetsa as an act of benevolence.29 However, the manner in which these wretched people repaid this compassionate treatment shall be mentioned ahead.

The incident of the Banu Nadir has been alluded to in Surah Hashr of the Holy Qur’an. The entire Surah is, more or less, related to this Ghazwah.

 

Endnotes

1. *As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah, By Abu Muhammad ‘Abdul-Malik bin Hisham, p. 605, Amru Ijla’i Banin-Nadir. Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (2001)

*At-Tabaqatul-Kubra, By Muhammad bin Sa‘d, Volume 2, p. 278, Ghazwatu Rasulillahisa Banin-Nadīr, Daru Ihya’it-Turathil-‘Arabi, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (1996)

2. *At-Tabaqatul-Kubra, By Muhammad bin Sa‘d, Volume 2, p. 278, Ghazwatu Rasulillahsa Banin-Nadir, Daru Ihya’it-Turathil-‘Arabi, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (1996)

3. *As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah, By Abu Muhammad ‘Abdul-Malik bin Hishām, p. 605, Amru Ijla’i Banin-Nadir, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (2001)

*At-Tabaqatul-Kubra, By Muhammad bin Sa‘d, Volume 2, p. 278, Ghazwatu Rasulillahisa Banin-Nadir, Daru Ihya’it-Turathil-‘Arabi, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (1996)

4. * At-Tabaqatul-Kubra, By Muhammad bin Sa‘d, Volume 2, p. 278, Ghazwatu Rasulillahisa

Banin-Nadir, Daru Ihya’it-Turathil-‘Arabi, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (1996)

* As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah, By Abu Muhammad ‘Abdul-Malik bin Hisham, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah,

Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (2001)

5. They knew full well that the easiest and most definitive means by which the Holy Prophetsa

could be motivated was by the ploy of ‘preaching.’

6. Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitabul-Kharaji Wal-Imarati, Babun Fi Khabarin-Nadir Hadith No. 3004

7. Sharhul-‘Allamatiz-Zarqani ‘Alal-Mawahibil-Ladunniyyah, By Allamah Shihabuddin Al-Qastalani,

Volume 2, p. 510, Hadithu Banin-Nadir, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition

(1996)

8. Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitabul-Jihad, Babun Fi Khabarin-Nadir Hadith No. 3004

9. Sahihul-Bukhari, Kitabul-Maghazi, Babun Hadithu Banin-Nadir

10. And Allah knows the truth best (Publishers)

11. As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah, By Abu Muhammad ‘Abdul-Malik bin Hisham, p. 606, Amru Ijla’i Banin-Nadir, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (2001)

12. Sahihul-Bukhari, Kitabul-Maghazi, Babun Hadithu Banin-Nadir, Hadith No. 4028

Sahīhul-Muslim, Kitābul-Jihād, Bābu Ijlā’il-Yahūdi Minal-Hijāz, Hadīth No. 4592

13. *As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah, By Abu Muhammad ‘Abdul-Malik bin Hisham, pp. 605-606, Amru Ijla’i Banin-Nadir…, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (2001)

* At-Tabaqatul-Kubra, By Muhammad bin Sa‘d, Volume 2, p. 278, Ghazwatu Rasulillahisa

Banin-Nadir, Daru Ihya’it-Turathil-‘Arabi, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (1996)

14. *Al-Hashr (59:6)

15. *Ar-Raudul-Unufi Fi Tafsiris-Siratin-Nabawiyyati libni Hisham, By Abul-Qasim ‘Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Abdillah bin Ahmad, Volume 3, p. 388, Ghazwatu Banin-Naḍīri Wa Ma Nazala Fiha / Qat‘ul-Linati Wa Ta’wiluhu, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition

16. *Sharhul-‘Allamatiz-Zarqani ‘Alal-Mawahibil-Ladunniyyah, By Allamah Shihabuddīn Al-Qastalani, Volume 2, p. 512, Hadithu Banin-Nadir, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (1996)

17. *Al-Hashr (59:6)

18. *Al-Muwatta, By Imam Malik bin Anas, Kitabul-Jihad, Bābun-Nahyi Min-Qatlin-Nisa’i Wal-Wildan, Hadith No. 982

19. *As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah, By Abu Muhammad ‘Abdul-Malik bin Hisham, p. 606, Amru Ijla’i Banin-Nadir, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (2001)

*At-Tabaqatul-Kubra, By Muhammad bin Sa‘d, Volume 2, p. 278, Ghazwatu Rasulillahisa Banin-Nadir, Daru Ihya’it-Turathil-‘Arabi, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (1996)

20. *At-Tabaqatul-Kubra, By Muhammad bin Sa‘d, Volume 2, p. 278, Ghazwatu Rasulillahisa Banin-Nadir, Daru Ihya’it-Turathil-‘Arabi, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (1996)

21. *Talkhisus-Sihah [527/6]

22. *Tarikhur-Rusuli Wal-Muluk (Tarikhut-Tabari), By Abu Ja‘far Muhammad bin Jarir At-Tabari, Volume 3, p. 91, Thumma Dakhalatis-Sanatur-Rabi‘atu Minal-Hijrah / Khabaru Jala’i Banin-Nadir, Darul-Fikr, Beirut, Lebanon, Second Edition (2002)

23. *Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitabul-Jihad, Babun Fi Khabarin-Nadir, Hadith No. 3004

24. *As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah, By Abu Muhammad ‘Abdul-Malik bin Hisham, p. 606, Amru Ijla’i Banin-Nadir…, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (2001)

*Sharhul-‘Allamatiz-Zarqani ‘Alal-Mawāhibil-Ladunniyyah, By Allamah Shihabuddin Al-Qastalani, Volume 2, pp. 519-520, Hadithu Banin-Nadir, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (1996) – 25. *Al-Baqarah (2:257)

26. *Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitabul-Jihad, Babu Fil-Asīri Yukrahu ‘Alal-Islam, Hadīth No. 2682

27. *As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah, By Abu Muhammad ‘Abdul-Malik bin Hisham, pp. 606-607, Amru Ijla’i Banin-Nadir…, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (2001)

28. *Tarikhur-Rusuli Wal-Muluk (Tarikhut-Tabari), By Abu Ja‘far Muhammad bin Jarir At-Tabari, Volume 3, pp. 90-91, Thumma Dakhalatis-Sanatur-Rabi‘atu Minal-Hijrah / Khabaru Jala’i Banin-Nadir, Darul-Fikr, Beirut, Lebanon, Second Edition (2002)

29. *Sahihul-Bukhari, Kitabul-Maghazi, Babu Hadithu Banin-Nadir, Hadith No. 4028

Sahihul-Muslim, Kitabul-Jihadi Was-Siyar, Babu Ijla’il-Yahudi Minal-Hijaz, Hadith No. 4592 (428/4)

 

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