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Banu Qurayza

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Early Islam
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Banū Qurayẓa (Arabic: بنو قريظة) was a Jewish tribe inhabiting Medina in the first years after the migration of the Prophet (s). The Prophet's (s) war with Banu Qurayza in 5/626 was his last war with the Jews of Medina, which came to be called the Battle of Banu Qurayza.

After the Battle of Ahzab, the Prophet (s) and his army went to Banu Qurayza, and after fifteen days of siege they proposed a compromise and agreed on Sa'd b. Mu'adh as the arbiter. Contrary to what his tribe preferred, Sa'd ruled that male warriors of Banu Quraza be killed and their property be divided up among Muslim warriors. However, Sayyid Ja'far Shahidi, a contemporary scholar and historiographer, has cast doubts on the accuracy of this account, because of inconsistencies in historical sources as well as certain external evidence. The reason for the Battle of Banu Qurayza was their cooperation with polytheists in the Battle of Ahzab.

According to historical sources, Banu Qurayza and Banu Nadir tribes were from the progeny of Aaron, the brother of the Prophet Moses (a), who lived in and governed Yathrib before the migration of Aws and Khazraj tribes to the town. However, when the Jewish government of Yemen was defeated by the Christian king of Abyssinia, Jews in Yathrib were also defeated by Khazraj in a battle, and since then, the town was governed by the Khazraj tribe.

General Facts

In many historical sources, the Jewish tribes of Banu Qurayza and Banu Nadir are said to be from the progeny of Aaron the brother of the Prophet Moses (a). However, in some other sources, Banu Qurayza are said to be from the Judham clan in Palestine who converted to Judaism in the period of 'Adiya b. Samawa'al.

Allegedly, the Jews of Banu Qurayza lived in Yathrib before the migration of the Arabian tribes of Aws and Khazraj to the town. Thus, in the wake of Jewish-Roman wars in seventy, Banu Qurayza fled to Hijaz and inhabited Mahzur near Yathrib.

Along with other Jewish tribes, Banu Qurayza governed Yathrib. Allegedly, their commander was al-Qaytuwan or Fatyun who was a taxpayer to the Iranian ruler, al-Zarih (in Bahrain). According to historical sources, when the Jewish government in Yemen was defeated by the Christian king of Abyssinia, the Jews of Medina were undermined. Finally, in a battle between Khazraj and the Jews, their commander was killed and Arabs overtook the town.

Because of the dominance of Arab tribes on Medina, many Jews left the city. It is also reported that near the emergence of Islam, Jewish tribes lived outside the city in their forts. In this period, Banu Qurayza had greater population and influence as compared to Banu Nadir and Banu Qaynuqa'. They lived in the southeast of Medina and were mainly engaged in agriculture.

The Battle of Banu Qurayza

According to some authors, the only independent account of Banu Qurayza in Islamic sources is the one concerning Muslims' war with them in 5/626. Other accounts of their history and events appear as part of the history of Aws and Khazraj.

The Battle of Banu Qurayza allegedly occurred in late Dhu l-Qa'da and early Dhu l-Hajja in 5/April 626, and was the last conflict between Muslims and the Jews of Medina. According to Islamic sources, immediately after the Battle of Ahzab and the retreat of the enemies, the Prophet (s) raged a war against Banu Qurayza. Muslims besieged the forts and homes of Banu Qurayza for fifteen days, and then the Jews proposed a compromise and agreed on Sa'd b. Mu'adh as their arbiter.

According to historical sources, despite his injuries and sickness, Sa'd b. Mu'adh left his tent and went to Banu Qurayza, and contrary to what his tribe, as an ally with Banu Qurayza, expected, he ruled that male warriors of Banu Qurayza must be killed, their property must be divided up, and their children must be captivated. According to sources, the Prophet (s) characterized Sa'd's ruling as the ruling of God. The war with Banu Qurayza occurred because they had violated their pact with Muslims and cooperated with polytheists in the Battle of Ahzab against Muslims.

Sayyid Ja'far Shahidi, a contemporary scholar and historiographer, cites remarkable inconsistencies in historical sources as well as external facts such as the population of Medina and the Prophet's (s) kind character, and thereby, casts doubts over the accuracy of the account, and in particular, the massacre of six hundred to nine hundred people from Banu Qurayza. He characterizes the event as a myth fabricated by people of Khazraj in order to downgrade the status of Aws in the eyes of the Prophet (s).

In his al-Maghazi al-nabawiyya, Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri (51/671-124/742) refers to Sa'd b. Mu'adh's ruling and the Prophet's (s) endorsement of the ruling. However, he only confirms the killing of Huyayy b. Akhtab, the senior figure of Banu Nadir who encouraged Banu Qurayza to hostility towards the Prophet (s).

See Also

References