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Banu Quraizah was not slaughtered by Muslims

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Category: Religion - Islam
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Topic: Banu Quraizah was not slaughtered by Muslims
Posted By: candid_new
Subject: Banu Quraizah was not slaughtered by Muslims
Date Posted: 11 March 2009 at 1:48am
It can be demonstrated that the assertion that 600 or 800 or 9007 men of Banu Qurayza were put to death in cold blood can not be true; that it is a later invention; and that it has its source in Jewish traditions. Indeed the source of the details in earlier Jewish history can be pointed out with surprising accuracy.

So much for the sources: they were neither uninterested nor trustworthy; and the report was very late in time. Now for the story. The reasons for rejecting the story are the following:

(i) As already stated above, the reference to the story in the Qur'an is extremely brief, and there is no indication whatever of the killing of a large number. In a battle context the reference is to those who were actually fighting. The Qur'an is the only authority which the historian would accept without hesitation or doubt. It is a contemporary text, and, for the most cogent reasons, what we have is the authentic version.

(ii) The rule in Islam is to punish only those who were responsible for the sedition.

(iii) To kill such a large number is diametrically opposed to the Islamic sense of justice and to the basic principles laid down in the Qur'an - particularly the verse. "No soul shall bear another's burden."22 It is obvious in the story that the leaders were numbered and were well known. They were named.

(iv) It it also against the Qur'anic rule regarding prisoners of war, which is: either they are to be granted their freedom or else they are to be allowed to be ransomed.23

(v) It is unlikely that the Banu Qurayza should be slaughtered when the other Jewish groups who surrendered before Banu Qurayza and after them were treated leniently and allowed to go. Indeed Abu 'Ubayd b. Sallam relates in his Kitab al-amwal24 that when Khaybar felt to the Muslims there were among the residents a particular family or clan who had distinguished themselves by execesive unseemly abuse of the Prophet. Yet in that hour the Prophet addressed them in words which are no more than a rebuke: "Sons of Abu al-Huqayq (he said to them) I have known the extent of your hostility to God and to His apostle, yet that does not prevent me from treating you as I treated your brethren." That was after the surrender of Banu Qurayza.

(vi) If indeed so many hundreds of people had actually been put to death in the market-place, and trenches were dug for the operation, it is very strange that there should be no trace whatever of all that - no sign or word to point to the place, and no reference to a visible mark.25

(vii) Had this slaughter actually happened, jurists would have adopted it as a precedent. In fact exactly the opposite has been the case. The attitude of jurists, and their rulings, have been more according to the Qur'anic rule in the verse, "No soul shall bear another's burden."

Indeed, Abu 'Ubayd b. Sallam relates a very significant incident in his book Kifab al-amwal,26 which, it must be noted, is a book of jurisprudence, of law, not a sira or a biography. He tells us that in the time of the Imam al-Awza'i27 there was a case of trouble among a group of the People of the Book in the Lebanon when 'Abdullab b. 'All was regional governor. He put down the sedition and ordered the community in question to be moved elsewhere. Al-Awza'i in his capacity as the leading jurist immediately objected. His argument was that the incident was not the result of the cormmunity's unanimous agreement. "At far as I know (he argued) it is not a rule of God that God should punish the many for the fault of the few but punish the few for the fault of the many."

Now, had the Imam al-Awza'i accepted the story of the slaughter of Banu Qurayza, he would have treated it as a precedent, and would not have come out with an argument against Authority, represented in 'Abdullah b. 'Ali. Al-Awza'i, it should be remembered, was a younger contemporary of Ibn Ishaq.

(viii) In the story of Qurayza a few specific persons were named as having been put to death, some of whom were described as particularly active in their hostility. It is the reasonable conclusion that those were the ones who led the sedition and who were consequently punished - not the whole tribe.

(ix) The details given in the story clearly and of necessity imply inside knowledge, i.e. from among the Jews themselves. Such are the details of their consultation when they were besieged, the harangue of Ka'b b. Asad as their leader; and the suggestion that they should kill their women and children and then make a last desperate attack against the Muslims.

(x) Just as the descendants of Qurayza would want to glorify their ancestors, so did the descendants of the Madanese connected with the event. One notices that that part of the story which concerned the judgement of Sa'd b. Mu'adh against Qurayza, was transmitted from one of his direct descendants. According to this part the Prophet said to Mu'adh: "You have pronounced God's judgement upon them [as inspired] through Seven Veils."28

Now it is well known that for the purposes of glorifying their ancestors or white washing those who were inimical to Islam at the beginning, many stories were invented by later generations and a vast amount of verse was forged, much of which was transmitted by Ibn Ishaq. The story and the statement concerning Sa'd are one such detail.

(xi) Other details are difficult to accept. How could so many hundreds of persons he incarcerated in the house belonging to a woman of Banu al-Najjar?29

(xii) The history of the Jewish tribes after the establishment of Islam is not really clear at all. The idea that they all departed on the spot seems to be in need of revision, as can be seen on examining the sources. For example, in his Jamharat al-ansab,30 Ibn Hazm occasionally refers to Jews still living in Medina. In two places al-Waqidi31 mentions Jews who were still in Medina when the Prophet prepared to march against Khaybar - i.e. after the supposed liquidation of all three tribes, including Qurayza. In one case ten Madanese Jews actually joined the Prophet in an excursion to Khaybar, and in the other the Jews who had made their peace with him in Medina were extremely worried when he prepared to attack Khaybar. Al-Waqadi explains that they tried to prevent the departure of any Muslim who owed them money.

Indeed Ibn Kathir32 takes the trouble to point out that 'Umar expelled only those Jews of Khaybar who had not made a peace agreement with the Prophet. Ibn Kathir then proceeds to explain that at a much later date, i.e. after the year 300 A.H., the Jews of Khaybar claimed that they had in their possession a document allegedly given them by the Prophet which exempted them from poll-tax. He said that some scholars were taken in by this document so that they ruled that the Jews of Khaybar should be exempted. However, that was a forged letter and had been refuted in detail. It quoted persons who were already dead, it used technical terms which came into being at a later time, it claimed that Mu'awiya b. Abi Sufyan witnessed it, when in fact he had not even been converted to Islam at that time, and so on.

So then the real source of this unacceptable story of slaughter was the descendants of the Jews of Medina, from whom Ibn Ishaq took these "odd tales". For doing so Ibn Ishaq was severely criticized by other scholars and historians and was called by Malik an impostor.

The sources of the story are, therefore, extremely doubtful and the details are diametrically opposed to the spirit of Islam and the rules of the Qur'an to make the story credible. Credible authority is lacking, and circumstantial evidence does not support it. This means that the story is more than doubtful.

However, the story, in my view, has its origins in earlier events. Is can be shown that it reproduces similar stories which survived from the account of the Jewish rebellion against the Romans, which ended in the destruction of the temple in the year AD. 73, the night of the Jewish zealots and sicarii to the rock fortress of Masada, and the final liquidation of the besieged. Stories of their experience were naturally transmitted by Jewish survivors who fled south. Indeed one of the more plausible theories of the origin of the Jews of Medina is that they came after the Jewish wars. This was the theory preferred by the late Professor Guillaume.33 -

Posted By: rememberallah
Date Posted: 24 October 2012 at 12:23pm
Peace be on you my brother, keep up your research and search for truth.....
i have a different opinion on the matter.....
i do not go into wether it happened or not but go into other details....yes agreeing completely with you that it was unislamic.....but i see that-
1 - prophet treated the other 2 jewish tribes earlier with utter leniency.
2 - shabas went to prophet seeeking that he should show similar mercy to them, he said that he will leave the matter to them and infact left the matter to the head of aws tribe, whose men were seeking mercy for them as prophet had shown mercy on earlier 2 occassions with the 2 other jewish tribes.
3 - they approached their chief who was injured that prophet has left the matter to the tribe to deal with them mercifully.
4 - the chief on reaching the spot asked everyone to swear that they will accept "HIS" order, and made even prophet swear that he will also accept his judgement.....prophet swore he would.
5 - to the shock of the sahabas who saught mercy their chief dictated the punishment that comes was given......{so it was not prophets decision but the decision of the chief of aws tribe, which was against the sunnah of the prophet in the way he dealt with the earlier tribes, and also against the wish of the tribesmen who were also sahabas} it was not islamic.
6 - now prophet said "your judgement is like the judgement of God from above the seven heavens"....people take it to be a compliment.....well, it was a harsh criticissm.....prophet was not praising "HIS" judgement but criticising it, that your judgement is not like the judgement of Allah from the first heaven when he is most merciful, but your judgement is that you do not care,, your judgement is not like mine was.
7 -  prophet could not overturn it by breaking his swear, as it comes in Quran that prophet could not even help muslims if he was in a sworn treaty with non-muslims who were persecuting muslims!!

so agreeing with you it is unislamic, just see it from this point of view too and things might make sense to you.....we are nothing in front of sahabas but we have to accept the truth that at times they did not behave the way prophet did, otherwise caliphs wouldnt have been killed, and sahabas wouldnt have faught war after war between themselves.
the case of banu quraizah, can not be accepted as our shariah as it was not the order of prophet, we have to follow the order of the prophet which is what he did on earlier two occassions.
may Allah guide us to charity.

The whole world is like Hazrat Umar but no one is like his sister and brother in law.

Posted By: nospam001
Date Posted: 28 October 2012 at 7:36pm

I haven't read much about this episode before but both views strike me as well-argued and quite plausible.  Thanks to both of you.Clap

God has the right to remain silent. For His advocates, however, each resigned shrug is a missed opportunity to win new converts.

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