Battle of Banu Qurayza

This article is featured on May 20, 2017. For other featured articles click here.
Good article since August 13, 2016
Priority: b, Quality: a
From wikishia
Battle of Banu Qurayza
what today remains of Banu Qurayza's strongholds
CauseBetrayal of Banu Qurayza
ResultEntrusting arbitration to Sa'd b. Mu'adh, on behalf of the Prophet (s). Sa'd judged that anyone who stayed against the Prophet (s) must be killed and women and children should be captured
Jews of Banu Qurayza
The Prophet (s)
Casualties and losses
600 to 800 men of Banu Qurayza were executed
NoteQur'an mentioned this event in Qur'an 8:56-58 and Qur'an 33:26-27

Early Islam

The Battle with Banū Qurayẓa is the last battle of the Prophet (s) with the Jews of Medina that took place in 5/627 because Banu Qurayza violated their treaty with the Prophet (s) and became allied with the polytheists in the Battle of Ahzab. After the Battle of Ahzab, Muslims headed to the stronghold of Banu Qurayza and besieged them. After about a month, Jews surrendered and proposed the arbitration of Sa'd b. Muadh, and the Prophet (s) accepted. According to some reports, Sa'd b. Muadh taking the treaty between the Prophet (s) and Banu Qurayza, into consideration on the one hand, and the rules of Torah on the other hand, declared that the combatant men of the tribe must be executed, and the children and women enslaved, and their estate confiscated. Some historians doubted the report that Sa'd b. Muadh has declared that all men of the tribe must be executed.

History of Banu Qurayza

There are different reports about the origin of Banu Qurayza and their migration to Yathrib. According to some oral narratives of Jews, Banu Qurayza are descendants of Harun (a) (Aaron), the brother of Moses (a), who were in Yathrib before the flood of 'Arim, which caused the emigration of Arab tribes of Aws and Khazraj to Yathrib.[1]

According to some reports, after the war between the Romans with Jews (70 A.C.), Banu Qurayza escaped to Hijaz and resided in Yathrib[2]. Some other sources identify Banu Qurayza form the Judham tribe from Palestine, who converted to Judaism in the time of 'Adiya b. Samu'il (reign: 1075-1045 AD)[3].

Banu Qurayza along other Jewish tribes of Yathrib gained the political control of the city. Their ruler was a tax payer to the Iranian ruler of al-Zarih (in Bahrain)[4]. In 525 A.C, the Christian ruler of Habasha (Ethiopia), who was the representative of Rome, defeated the Jewish ruler in Yemen; which caused the decrease of the power of the Jews in Yathrib. And finally in a battle between the Jews and Khazraj tribe, the Jewish governor was killed and Arabs gained the control of the city[5].

The rule of Arab tribes on the city made most of the Jews leave Yathrib. In the times near the emergence of Islam, the Jewish tribes were living in their strongholds out of the city. Banu Qurayza, had the upper hand in population compared to the other two tribes, Banu Nadir and Banu Qaynuqa', and were placed in south-east of Yathrib, they were mostly farmers. The only report about Banu Qurayza is about their battle with Muslims in the year 5 AH/626. Other reports about them are about the history of Aws and Khazraj, and mostly are about pre-Islamic era.

Reason of the Battle

The main reason of the battle was their violation of their treaty with the Prophet (s), and their cooperation with the polytheists in the Battle of Ahzab against Muslims.

When the army of polytheists of Mecca and their allies approached Medina, Huyyay b. Akhtab -one of the Jews form Banu Nadir tribe, who had a major role in the formation of the army of the polytheists- met with the Banu Qurayza leaders as the representative of the polytheists and they agreed to cooperate with the polytheists against Muslims[6].

When the report reached the Prophet (s), he sent a group, among them Sa'd b. Mu'adh, Sa'd b. 'Ubada, and Usayd b. Hudayr, to the stronghold of Banu Qurayza to investigate the report. In their meeting with the group, Banu Qurayza disdained the Prophet (s) and rejected their treaty with Muslims[7].

Because of the geographical location of Banu Qurayza they could attack Medina when Muslims were defending the trench; therefore the report of the betrayal of Banu Qurayza demoralized Muslims. According to some reports, when polytheists' army besieged Medina, Banu Qurayza decided to attack Medina overnight, and sent some messages to the polytheists and requested force. Hearing the report, the Prophet (s) sent 200 Muslim men to defend Medina and say takbir till morning, with the lights of day, the danger resolved[8].

One night about ten of Jewish fighters attacked the city and returned after an hour of struggle with a group of Muslims[9]. It is narrated from Abu Bakr: "we were more scared about our children and women from Banu Qurayza than from Quraysh and Ghatfan"[10].

The day after the dissipation of the polytheists in the Battle of Ahzab, the Prophet (s) went for the battle with Banu Qurayza.


Muslims besieged the stronghold of Banu Qurayza. The period of siege is reported between 15 to 25 days. Banu Qurayza proposed to surrender with the same conditions as Banu Nadir -Banu Nadir had leaved Medina, leaving their belongings behind- but the Prophet (s) rejected every proposal except that they surrender unconditionally[11].

By the propose of Banu Qurayza, the Prophet (s) accepted the arbitration of Sa'd b. Mu'adh, one of the nobles of Aws and the head of Banu 'Abd Ashhal[12]. Banu Qurayza proposed the arbitration of Sa'd b. Mu'adh because they had an alliance before Islam. Sa'd referring to the rules of Torah and the treaty between the Jews and the Prophet (s) declared that who had gathered against the Prophet (s) must be executed[13], and the children and women become enslaved. The Prophet (s) considered the verdict in accordance to the rules of God. The verses 56 to 58 of Qur'an 8 and verses 26 and 27 of Qur'an 33 are about the battle with Banu Qurayza[14].

The report about the killings are different. Some said that all the men of Banu Qurayza whose number was 600 to 800 were executed; also a woman who had killed a Muslim, was executed. One of the men of the tribe named Rifa'a b. Simawal was forgiven with the intervention of one of the aunts of the Prophet (s)[15]. Some others report that only the fighters of Banu Qurayza who had acted against Muslims were executed[16].

The belongings of Banu Qurayza were divided between Muslims. For the first time, the shares of cavalry and infantry specified. The cavalry were given two shares and the infantry had one. As the sources have mentioned, the spoils, especially the weapons, were remarkable.

Historical Analysis

According to the whole of reports, it could be concluded that Muslims because of their previous experience with the deportation of Banu Qaynuqa' and Banu Nadir, would not accept to only exile Banu Qurayza; because if they exited Medina, they would join the opponents of Islam, just as Banu Qaynuqa' and Banu Nadir had done.

The verses 26 and 27 of Qur'an 33 verifies the verdict[17], but not the execution of all men of the tribe, but only those who acted against Muslims; Sayyid Ja'far Murtada al-'Amili (d. 2019) in al-Sahih in the exegesis of the verse 26 of Qur'an 33 says: the part of the verse "… you killed a part of them, and took captive [another] part of them", the word used for taking captive (تأسرون, ta'sirun) is used for men; because in Arabic, for taking women captive, another word is used; but some exegetes have incorrectly interpret the word killed about men and the word took captive for women and children[18]. So only fighters who had acted against Muslims executed and the rest became enslaved. As Ibn Shahrashub mentioned the total number of men 700, and the number of the executed 450[19].

Number of the Executed

  • Dr. Shahidi says: "It seems that the story of the Battle of Banu Qurayza, is altered and written years after the event, by a story teller from Khazraj tribe, whose intention was to imply that the Prophet (s) killed Banu Qurayza, the ally of Aws, contrary to the ally of Khazraj (Banu Nadir) who had not been killed; because Khazraj was dearer to the Prophet (s) than Aws"[20].
  • Malik b. Anas had named the main narrator of the story, Ibn Ishaq, as Dajjal[21]! Because he had narrated the story of the battles of Muslims with the Jews, from Jews, who have a history of forging stories[22].
  • Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani had also considered the reason of weakness of narrations of Ibn Ishaq as narrating such stories from such a sources[23].
  • Sayyid Ahmad Barakat had also rejected the story of Ibn Ishaq with various reasons[24].
  • Walid ‘Arafat also considered the story of Ibn Ishaq far from the real story of Banu Qurayza, the main reason is that Ibn Ishaq does not have any correct document, and also some other reasons are mentioned[25].

Verdict According to Judaism

Sa'd b. Mu'adh issued the verdict, referring to the treaty of Banu Qurayza with the Prophet (s) and the rules of Judaism[26]. The verdict was a religious ruling for Jews[27]. In the book of Deuteronomy, about a city which is entered with force, it is said: "When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves"[28].

See Also


  1. Isfahani, Abu l-Faraj, Kitab al-aghani, Vol.22, P.107
  2. Isfahani, Abu l-Faraj, Kitab al-aghani, Vol.22, PP.108-9
  3. al-Ya'qubi, Tarikh al-Ya'qubi, Vol.1, P.408
  4. Yaqut al-Hamawi, Mu'jam al-Buldan, Vol.5, PP.83-5
  5. Muqaddasi, Kitab al-bad' wa al-tarikh, Vol.4, P.130
  6. al-Waqidi, al-Maghazi, Vol.2, PP.454-6; Ibn Hisham, al-Sira al-nabawiyya, Vol.2, PP.220-1
  7. al-Waqidi, al-Maghazi, Vol.2, PP.458-9; Ibn Hisham, al-Sira al-nabawiyya, Vol.2, PP.221-2
  8. al-Waqidi, al-Maghazi, Vol.2, P.460
  9. al-Waqidi, al-Maghazi, Vol.2, P.462
  10. al-Waqidi, al-Maghazi, Vol.2, P.460
  11. al-Waqidi, al-Maghazi, Vol.2, P.501
  12. Sayyid Ja'far Murtada, al-Sahih, Vol.12, P.90
  13. Sayyid Ja'far Murtada, al-Sahih, Vol.12, P.88
  14. Al-Tabari, Tarikh al-rusul wa l-muluk, sesele.1, P.1493; Ibn Hisham, al-Sira al-nabawiyya, Vol.3, PP.265-6
  15. Ibn Hisham, al-Sira al-nabawiyya, Vol.3, PP.263-5
  16. Sayyid Ja'far Murtada, al-Sahih, Vol.12, P.88
  17. Sayyid al-Qutb, Fi zilal al-Qur'an, Vol.6, P.569
  18. Sayyid Ja'far Murtada, al-Sahih, Vol.12, P.148
  19. Ibn Shahrashub, al-Manaqib, Vol.3, P.171
  20. Shahidi, Tarikh-i tahlili-i Islam, P.90
  21. Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib, Vol.9, P.36
  22. Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib, Vol.9, PP.39-40
  23. Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib, Vol.9, PP.39-40
  24. Barakat Ahmad, Muhammad and the Jews: A Re-examination, p. 24
  25. W. N. Arafat, New Light on the Story of Banu Qurayza and the Jews of Medina, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (1976), pp. 100-107
  26. Hasani, Sirat al-Mustafa, PP.519-521
  27. Abu Zuhre, Khatam-i Payambaran, Vol.2, PP.671-2
  28. Old Testament, Deuteronomy, 20:13-14


  • The material of this article is mainly taken from غزوه بنی قریظه in Farsi WikiShia.
  • Abu Zuhre, Muhammad. 1373 sh. Khatam-i Payambaran Trans. Husayn Sabiri. Mashhad.
  • Al-'Asqalani, Ibn Hajar. 1404 AH. Tahdhib al-tahdhib. Beirut: Dar al-Fikr.
  • Al-'Amili, Sayyid Ja'far Murtada. 1385 sh. Al-Sahih min sirat al-Nabi al-a'zam. Qom: Dar al-Hadith.
  • Arafat, W. N. 1976. "New Light on the Story of Banu Qurayza and the Jews of Medina." Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland.
  • Barakat, Ahmad. n.d. Muhammad and the Jews: A Re-examination.
  • Hasani, Hashim Ma'ruf. 1406 AH / 1986. Sirat al-Mustafa. Beirut.
  • Ibn Hisham. n.d. Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya. Cairo: Muhammad Muhyiddin 'Abd al-Hamid.
  • —. n.d. Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya, Ed. Mustafa al-Saqa & Ibrahim al-Abyari & 'Abd al-Hafiz al-Shalbi. Beirut: Dar al-Ma'rifa.
  • Isfahani, Abu l-Faraj. n.d. Kitab al-aghani. Beirut.
  • Muqaddasi, Mutahhar b. Tahir. 1899-1919. kitab al-bad' wa al-tarikh. Paris.
  • n.d. Old Testament. Ilam.
  • Sayyid al-Qutb. 1386 AH/1967. Fi zilal al-Qur'an. Beirut.
  • Shahidi, Sayyid Ja'far. 1390 sh. Tarikh-i tahlili-i Islam. Tehran: Markaz-i Nashr-i Danishgahi.
  • Al-Tabari, Muhammad b. Jarir. 1879-1896. Tarikh al-rusul wa l-muluk. Leiden.
  • Al-Waqidi, Muhammad b. 'Umar. 1966. Kitab al-maghazi. London: Marceden Jones.
  • Al-Ya'qubi, Ahmad b. Ishaq. 1379 AH/1960. Tarikh al-Ya'qubi. Beirut.