Treachery of Great Magnitude

Sayyid Qutb

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

He brought down from their strongholds those of the people of earlier revelations, who aided them, casting terror in their hearts: some you slew, and some you took captive.

And He passed on to you their land, their houses and their goods, as well as a land on which you had never yet set foot. God has power over all things. [The Confederates, Al-Ahzab: 33: 26-27]

This only left the Quraizah, the third major Jewish tribe in Madinah. As we now know, they too had sided with the confederate tribes against the Muslims, this at the instigation of the Al-Nadir chiefs, particularly Huyay ibn Akhtab. This treachery by the Quraizah, in violation of their treaty with the Prophet (peace be upon him), was a much harder test for the Muslims than the external attack they faced from the confederates.

To be absolutely sure of this new situation, the Prophet sent four of his companions — Saad Ibn Muadz, the chief of the Aws, Saad Ibn Ubadah, the chief of the Khazraj, Abdullah Ibn Rawahah and Khawat Ibn Jubair — to the Quraizah to ascertain their position: “If you find out that the intelligence we have received is true, give me a hint which I will understand. Try to avoid affecting the Muslims’ morale. If, on the other hand, you find that the Quraizah remain faithful to their treaty with us, make the news known to everyone.” This shows how seriously he expected the news of treachery to affect the Muslim community as a whole.

The delegation went to the Quraizah and met the people there, calling on them to maintain their peaceful relations and to confirm their alliance with the Prophet. However, they found that the Quraizah had adopted a worse position than what they had heard about. Defiantly, they said: “You want us to confirm the alliance now, when we have been weakened by the departure of the Al-Nadir. Who is God’s Messenger? We do not know him. We have no treaty or agreement with Muhammad.”

The Muslim delegation then left the Quraizah, returning to the Prophet with the bad news that the Jews no longer recognized their peace treaty with him. On arrival, they found the Prophet with a group of his companions. Following his advice, they gave him a clear hint of the Quraizah’s treachery rather than deliver the fact publicly. The Prophet was not perturbed. On the contrary, he said: “God is supreme. Rejoice, you Muslims, for the end will be a happy one.”

In his report of these events, Ibn Ishaq says: “This test was too hard for the Muslims: fear mounted; the enemy came upon them from the front and the rear; the Muslims’ thoughts went in all directions; hypocrisy was now in the open, etc.”

When God gave the Prophet His support so as to make his enemies withdraw without gaining any advantage, sparing the believers the need to fight, the Prophet returned to Madinah victorious. People put down their arms. Back in his wife, Umm Salamah’s home, the Prophet was washing himself after the long ordeal. Jibril, the angel, came to him saying: “The angels have not put down their arms yet. I have just come back from chasing the enemy.” He then said to him: “God commands you to march to the Quraizah.” Their quarters were a few miles away from Madinah. This was after the Dzuhur prayer. The Prophet issued an order to all his companions: “He who obeys God must not pray Asr except at the Quraizah.” People started marching. On the way, the Asar prayer became due. Some of them stopped to offer it arguing that the Prophet had only wanted them to start marching immediately. Others said they would prefer to delay it until they had arrived, taking the Prophet’s order at face value. Neither party blamed the other.

The Prophet marched behind them, having asked Ibn Umm Maktum, his blind companion, to deputize for him in Madinah. He also gave the banner to his cousin Ali Ibn Abi Talib. The Prophet laid siege to the Quraizah quarter for 25 days. When they were in despair, they sent word to the Prophet saying that they would accept the judgment of Saad Ibn Muadz, the chief of the Aws tribe of the Ansar, as he was their ally in pre-Islamic days. They felt that he was bound to be lenient toward them just like Abdullah Ibn Ubayy had been lenient toward the Qainuqa Jews when he sought their release by the Prophet.

When the Quraizah Jews intimated that they would accept Sa’ad’s judgment, the Prophet gave instructions for him to be brought in. His tribesmen, the Aws, tried to persuade him to be lenient. They said: ‘Be kind to your allies. The Prophet has chosen you to judge them in order that you be kind to them.’ Sa’ad first chose to be silent. When he was tired of their insistence, he said: “It is time for Saad to disregard all criticism when it comes to something through which he hopes to please God.” His tribesmen realized then that he would not be lenient. Sa’ad gave his ruling which is referred to in the Qur’anic verse as the execution of a group of them and enslavement of others. This verdict was carried out. That day not only marked the humiliation of the Jews but also the weakness of hypocrisy. Thereafter, the hypocrites were reluctant to continue with their earlier trickery. Moreover, the idolaters no longer thought of attacking the Muslims in Madinah. In fact it was the Muslims who were now able to go on the offensive. Events thus moved in such a way as to lead to the fall of the two main cities in Arabia, Makkah and Taif, to Islam. It may be said that the actions of the Jews, the hypocrites and the idolaters were interlinked, and that the expulsion of the Jews from Madinah put an end to such affiliations. The whole episode thus marked a totally new stage in the history of the Muslim state.

This was the practical development to which the Qur’anic verses refer. The phrase, “a land on which you never yet set foot,” can refer either to a land that the Quraizah owned outside their quarters, and which the Muslims took over along with the rest of their property, or it may refer to the fact that the Quraizah surrendered their land without fighting. In this second sense, the Arabic phrase tata’u, meaning, “to set foot,” indicates fighting, which involves taking land by force.

“God has power over all things.” This comment is taken from what takes place in reality. It refers all matters to God. The surah’s presentation of the battle and its commentary on events are altogether consistent with this. It attributes all matters and actions to God, so that this essential truth is firmly rooted in the hearts of all Muslims. We see how God establishes it in people’s hearts using first the actual events and then the Qur’an as it makes a record of these events. Thus it takes its place at the center of the overall Islamic concept.

In this way, the events become the subject matter of education, and the Qur’an a manual and guide for life and all that relates to it. Values are well established and hearts reassured, using both the practical test and the Qur’an as the means.

[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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