The Unnecessary Hostility

Sayyid Qutb 

In the name of God, the Lord of Grace, the Most Merciful

God turned back the unbelievers in all their rage and fury; they gained no advantage. He spared the believers the need to fight. God is Most Powerful, Almighty. (The Confederates Al-Ahzab: 33: 25)

When the Muslims arrived in Madinah, the Jews there maintained peaceful relations with them for only a short period. Shortly after his arrival in Madinah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) took step to sign a treaty with them with mutual obligations of sustaining support against outside enemies and clear conditions that they would never be in breach of their commitments, or aid any enemy, or take any hostile action against the Muslims.

The Jews, however, soon felt that Islam represented a threat to their traditional position as followers of the divine faith. Indeed they enjoyed much respect by the people of Madinah on account of this fact. Moreover, they felt that the new social system Islam established in Madinah under the leadership of the Prophet also constituted a threat to their position. Previously, they had very cleverly exploited the conflict between the two main Arab tribes in Madinah, the Aws and the Khazraj, to ensure that they themselves had the upper hand. The Prophet united the two tribes in a new social system, which deprived the Jews of the chance to sow discord between them.

Perhaps the last straw that broke the camel’s back for them was that the rabbi they considered to be their master and leading scholar, Abdullah Ibn Sallam, converted to Islam with all his family members. However, he feared that should he announce his conversion to Islam in public, the Jews might level false accusations against him. Therefore, he requested that the Prophet ask them about him and his standing among them before telling them that he had become a Muslim. When the Prophet asked the Jews as Abdullah had requested him, they said: “He is our master as his father was; and he is our rabbi and leading scholar.” It was at this point that Abdullah came out to tell them that Islam was God’s message to mankind and he asked them to follow his example and become Muslims. They immediately turned against him, speaking ill of him and warning all the other Jews against him. Clearly they felt that Islam represented an imminent threat to their religious and political standing. They were determined to scheme against God’s Messenger allowing him no respite. This, then, was the beginning of the war between Islam and the Jews, which has never subsided.

At first, the war started as a cold war, as we say these days. That is to say, it began as propaganda against both Muhammad (peace be upon him) and Islam. The tactics they employed varied from raising doubts about the message and the new faith, to sowing discord and creating division between the Muslims, as between the Aws and the Khazraj one day and between the Muhajirin and the Ansar another day. They also spied on the Muslims for their idolater enemies, and befriended a group of hypocrites who pretended to be Muslims manipulating them to create trouble within the Muslim community. Ultimately, they openly urged other groups to unite against the Muslims, as happened in the encounter with the confederate tribes.

The major Jewish groups in Madinah were the tribes of the Qainuqa, Al-Nadir and Quraizah. Each had its own ongoing situation with the Prophet and the Muslim community.

The Qainuqa tribe, who were the best fighters among the Jews, begrudged the Muslims their victory at Badar. Therefore, they started to exploit little events against the Muslims, so demonstrating that they had little respect for their treaty with the Prophet, fearing that he would soon gather strength and gain mastery over them. They once said to the Prophet after his victory over the Quraish in the Battle of Badar: “Muhammad! Do not take it as something great that you met people who have no knowledge of war and fighting and that you got the upper hand against them. Should we fight you, you will learn that we are the true fighters.”

Ibn Hisham also reports on the authority of Abdullah Ibn Jaafar: “Behind the problem of the Qainuqa was an Arab woman who had brought some milk and sold it in the Qainuqa market. She then sat at a jeweler’s shop. People there wanted her to uncover her face, but she refused. The jeweler took the edge of her dress and tied it to her back, without her noticing. When she rose, her bottom was exposed and people laughed at her. She shouted for help. A Muslim attacked the Jewish jeweler and killed him. The Jews then attacked the Muslim and killed him. His people shouted for other Muslims to come and help. The Muslims were very angry and trouble so erupted between them and the Qainuqa clan.”

Ibn Ishaq continues this report of the events: “The Prophet laid siege to them until they agreed to accept his judgment. Abdullah Ibn Ubayy (the chief of the hypocrites who was still accepted as a Muslim) tried hard to intercede on their behalf until the Prophet accepted his intercession, provided they agreed to leave Madinah, taking their property with them, but not their weapons. Thus Madinah was rid of a powerful Jewish section.

As for the Al-Nadir tribe, the Prophet went to their quarters in the fourth year of his migration to Madinah, after the Battle of Uhud, seeking their help in raising funds to pay the blood money for two people killed accidentally by one of his companions. According to the provisions of the agreement between them and the Muslim state, they were bound to make such a contribution. When he explained his purpose, they said: “Yes, we will certainly make a contribution.” He sat with his back to the wall of one of their houses. Then they consulted among themselves, and some suggested: “You will never again find this man in such a vulnerable state. Who can get to the roof of this house and throw a large rock to rid us of him?”

So they set about carrying out their wicked plot. The Prophet was informed of what they were planning; so he returned to Madinah. Once there, he ordered his community to prepare to fight the Jewish tribe of Al-Nadir. They retreated to their forts. Abdullah ibn Ubayy, the chief of the hypocrites, sent them word to remain steadfast promising to give them his full support. He added: “We will never let you down. If war is waged against you, we will fight alongside you; and if you are made to leave, we will go with you.” The hypocrites, however, did not fulfill their promise to the Jews. Instead, God struck fear into the hearts of the Al-Nadir and they surrendered without a fight. They asked the Prophet to spare their lives in return for their departure. He agreed and allowed them a camel load each of their property, provided they surrendered any arms.

They thus left Madinah, most settling in Khaibar, whilst others went further north to Syria. Among their leaders were Sallam Ibn Abi Al-Huqayq, Kinanah Ibn Al-Rabi Ibn Abi Al-Huqayq and Huyay Ibn Akhtab, the three who had played a leading role in forging the alliance between the Quraish and Ghatafan and so forming the confederate tribes that sought to exterminate Islam and the Muslims.

[Via Arab News]

About Md Radzi Ahmad
A retired Malaysian civil servant. Served the Malaysian government for thirty-one years. Posted to London, Rangoon, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Bangkok. Born in Kampong Hutan Kandeh, Alor Star, Kedah. Educated at Sultan Abdul Hamid College, Alor Star and University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. Currently resides in Subang Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan,Malaysia.Blessed with three children, a son, two daughters, daughter in law and two grandaughters.

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