Banu Qurayza – A Tribe Betrayed

Refuting a Muslim Propagandist’s Defense of Muhammad’s Brutality and Treachery

Sam Shamoun

Bassam Zawadi "replied" (*) to one of our articles which documents from Islamic sources that, contrary to the oft-repeated Muslim assertion, the Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayza did not betray the Muslims and therefore did not deserve to be brutally massacred by Muhammad and his companions (1, 2).

Here we will address the points he raises to defend Muhammad’s atrocities.

Muhammad threatens to harm the Jewish tribes

Zawadi says that Muhammad’s warning to the Jews that they must become Muslims in order to be safe can have one of two possible meanings.

My Response:

When the Prophet (peace be upon him) told the Jews that they must become Muslims in order to be safe, this could have two possible meanings.

First, either it meant that the Jews needed to convert to Islam in order to be safe from Allah's wrath on the Day of Judgment.

Secondly, it meant that they physically needed to be safe from the Muslims if they didn't convert to Islam and the Prophet (peace be upon him) also wanted to have them exiled from their land.

It is once again apparent that this is another time where Zawadi has not understood or bothered to read the sources carefully. The very narratives themselves show that the first explanation is not at all plausible or even possible:

Narrated Abu Hurayrah:

While we were at the Mosque, the Messenger of Allah came to us and said, "Go to the Jews."  

So we went out with him until we arrived. So the Messenger of Allah stood up and called on them, "O ye Jewish people, become Muslims and you will be safe."

They replied, "You have delivered [your message] O Aba Al-Qasim."

So he said to them, "That [delivering the message] is what I want. Become Muslims and you will be safe."

They replied, "You have delivered [your message] O Aba Al-Qasim]."

So he repeated what he said for the third time and said, "Know that the land is for Allah and his Messenger, and I want to EXILE you from this land. So let him he who finds something valuable in his possession sell it; or know that the land is for Allah and his Messenger." (Sahih Muslim, Number 1765)


Narrated Umar bin Al-Khattab:

He [Umar] heard the Messenger of Allah saying, "I indeed will EXILE the Jews and the Christians from the Arabian Peninsula until I leave no one but a Muslim." (Sahih Muslim, Number 1767)

There can only be one possible meaning from these narratives. Muhammad threatened to kill or expel these Jews from the homes and lands which they had owned long before he had ever set foot in Medina to make their lives miserable, unless they converted to his religion.

The treaty with the Banu Nadir

Zawadi claims that the AI author is wrong for asserting that Muhammad attacked the Banu Nadir only after the latter refused to make a treaty with him. He then links to an article from the Bismikaallahuma website (*) where the writer tries to show that the reason why the Banu Nadir tribe was expelled from their land was because they conspired to kill Muhammad.

Zawadi further mentions that the Banu Nadir had already made a treaty with Muhammad before the attack. I assume that Zawadi is referring to the treaty that Muhammad made when he entered Medina demanding that the Jews stand in solidarity with the Muslims and not assist the pagans of Mecca in attacking Muhammad and his followers.

Zawadi has obviously confused the treaty that Muhammad initially made with all the residents of Medina and the one mentioned by the AI author, since these treaties are not the same just as the following narrative proves:

Narrated Ka'ab bin Malik by a companion of the Prophet…

The Quraysh infidels wrote to the Jews after the Battle of Badr, "You are the people of the arms and fortresses. You will either fight our friend [Mohammad], or we will do to you so and so and nothing will come between us and the servants of your women except for Al-Khalakheel [bracelets for women worn around the ankle] [in other words, Quraysh is threatening the Jews here]."

So when this letter came to the Prophet [meaning he heard about it], Bani Al-Nadheer was set on treason. So they sent to the Messenger of Allah, "Come to us with thirty men of your companions, thirty of our Rabbis will come to you until we meet midway and they [the Rabbis] will hear what you have to say; if they believed you and followed you we will follow you."

So he told their story [to his companions]. And when the next day came, the Messenger of Allah came to them with armies and surrounded them and said, "By Allah you will not be safe from me unless it is by a treaty we make."  

They refused to make a treaty with him, so he fought them that very day. Then the day after he went to Bani Quraytha with his armies and left Bani Al-Nadheer, and he asked them [Bani Quraytha] to make a treaty with him and so they did, so he left them. Then he went to Bani Al-Nadheer [again] with his armies and he fought them until they surrendered and agreed to be exiled. So they were exiled carrying with them what their camels could carry of their possessions and the doors to their houses and the wood. Thus the palm of Bani Al-Nadheer was for the Messenger of Allah alone, Allah gave it to him alone. (Sunan Abu Dawood, Number 3004)

In the following sections we will have more to say concerning the initial treaty that Muhammad made with the Jews and how this backfires against Zawadi.

Exposing Zawadi’s Smoke and Mirrors Tactics

According to the hadith which the AI author sourced the Banu Qurayza refused to aide the Quraysh against the Muslims:

Narrated Huthayfa bin Al-Yaman…

He [Muhammad] said to me, "O Huthayfa, go and infiltrate the people [the armies against the Muslims] and see what they're up to, and don't say a word until you return."

So I went and infiltrated the people while the winds and the soldiers of Allah were doing what they were doing – not leaving them [the armies] any cauldron or fire or structure. So Abu Sufyan bin Harb stood up and said, "O ye people of Quraysh, let every person check and see the person sitting next to him [in fear of spies]."

So I took the hand of the man next to me and said, "Who are you?"

He replied, "I am someone the son of someone."

So Abu Sufyan said, "O ye people of Quraysh, by Allah your [current] dwelling isn't a place to be dwelled in [meaning that their current situation is bad]; the horses [and camels, mules, etc..] have died, Bani Quraytha has turned us down - we received from them what we don't like [meaning they refused to let them in through their fortresses], and this wind is giving us what you see [a hard time]. By Allah, our cauldrons aren't standing, the fires aren't lasting, and the structures aren't holding. So retreat for I am retreating." (Musnad Ahmad, Number 2283)

Zawadi accuses the author of quoting out of context and of distorting facts on the grounds that the Banu Qurayza did conspire against the Muslims, and that Abu Sufyan’s statement that the Jews turned the Quraysh down was only uttered after he suspected that they wouldn’t go through with their plan to attack Muhammad and his followers. Zawadi is hoping to prove form this that Abu Sufyan’s comments do not mean that the Banu Qurayza refused to attack the Muslims.

Yet in order to prove his assertion Zawadi doesn’t quote from this specific hadith but appeals to a completely different source, one where Muhammad is reported to have approved of a man from the tribe of Ghatafan called Na‘im bin Mas‘ud who had secretly become a Muslim to lie and deceive the Quraysh and Banu Qurayza in order to pit them against each other!

However, Zawadi is forced to admit that the narrative in question does not record these pertinent details:

Apparently [sic], Abu Sufyan's exact statement as recorded in Musnad Ahmad is not presented in the above citation, however if one refers to Dr. Madhi's Rizqullah Ahmad's book [sic] A Biography of the Prophet of Islam: In the Light of the Original Sources An Analytical Study, Volume 2, p .560 you would see that he places Abu Sufyan's statement at the same time when HE THINKS [sic] (due to being deceived by Nu'aym) that the Bani Quraytha betrayed him. (Emphasis ours)

In light of this admission one is left wondering how Zawadi could accuse the author of the AI article of distorting anything when he has done nothing more than accurately quote what is found in Musnad Ahmad? And why should we assume that a later Muslim biographer has accurately pieced these disparate reports together and that he has correctly understood their relationship with one another?

Has Zawadi provided any proof from the collection of Musnad Ahmad itself to prove his assertion? Absolutely not! Zawadi has simply assumed that these varying narrations are complementary, as opposed to being in conflict with one another, a rather gratuitous assumption in light of all the blatant irreconcilable contradictions that exists within the Islamic corpus.

Zawadi proposes to translate the Arabic of Musnad Ahmad in a different manner, one in which he assumes supports his position that Abu Sufyan’s statement actually meant that the Jews weren’t intending to go through with their promise to help the Quraysh to attack the Muslims:

Looking at the historical context, it seems more appropriate to understand that Abu Sufyan's statement meant that he believed that the Jews DECEIVED the pagans and were not willing to keep their agreement with them. This is indirect, yet clear evidence that the Jews were already conspiring with the Meccan pagans against the Muslims. (Emphasis ours)

The problem with Zawadi’s eisegesis is manifold. He has to assume that the chronology proposed by his source is correct, e.g. Dr. Madhi's Rizqullah Ahmad’s sequence of these reports is correct and that his explanation is therefore sound. Zawadi needs to start proving his case, and not merely assume that he or his reference is correct.

If anything, one can actually take Zawadi’s proposed explanation to prove the exact opposite point, namely, by deceiving the pagans the Banu Qurayza showed that they had no intention of assisting the Quraysh in their attack upon the Muslims. Zawadi’s proposed interpretation demonstrates that this Jewish tribe was simply telling the pagans what they wanted to hear in order to get them off their case since they may have recalled how the Quraysh had threatened to kill the Banu Nadir if they did not cooperate with them:

The Quraysh infidels wrote to the Jews after the Battle of Badr, "You are the people of the arms and fortresses. You will either fight our friend [Mohammad], or we will do to you so and so and nothing will come between us and the servants of your women except for Al-Khalakheel [bracelets for women worn around the ankle] [in other words, Quraysh is threatening the Jews here]." … (Sunan Abu Dawood, Number 3004)

With this threat fresh in their minds the tribe may have told the pagans that they would assist them but their actions later on showed that they had no intention of turning on the Muslims.

More importantly, one wonders why did Muhammad and his warriors lay down their arms if the Banu Qurayza were really so treacherous?

Narrated 'Aisha:
When Allah's Apostle returned on the day (of the battle) of Al-Khandaq (i.e. Trench), he put down his arms and took a bath. Then Gabriel whose head was covered with dust, came to him saying, "You have put down your arms! By Allah, I have not put down my arms yet." Allah's Apostle said, "Where (to go now)?" Gabriel said, "This way," pointing towards the tribe of Bani Quraiza. So Allah's Apostle went out towards them. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 68)


The Campaign against Banu Qurayzah

We have already noted that when the Confederates came and camped outside Al-Madinah, Banu Qurayzah broke the covenant that existed between them and the Messenger of Allah. This happened by the agency of Huyay bin Akhtab An-Nadari, may Allah curse him, who entered their stronghold and would not leave their leader, Ka`b bin Asad, alone until he agreed to break the covenant. Among the things that he said to him was, "Woe to you! This is the opportunity for glory. The Quraysh and their company of men from various tribes, and the Ghatafan and their followers, have come to you, and they will stay here until they eliminate Muhammad and his companions." Ka`b said to him, "No, by Allah, this is the opportunity for humiliation. Woe to you, O Huyay, you are a bad omen. Leave us alone." But Huyay kept trying to persuade him until he agreed to his request. He laid down the condition that if the Confederates went away without doing anything, he [Huyay] would join them in their stronghold and would share their fate. When Banu Qurayzah broke their covenant and news of this reached the Messenger of Allah , he and the Muslims were very distressed by that. When Allah helped him by suppressing his enemy and driving them back disappointed and lost, having gained nothing, the Messenger of Allah returned to Al-Madinah in triumph and the people put down their weapons. While the Messenger of Allah was washing off the dust of battle in the house of Umm Salamah, Jibril came to him wearing a turban of brocade, riding on a mule on which was a cloth of silk brocade. He said, "Have you put down your weapons, O Messenger of Allah?" He said, "Yes." He said, "But the angels have not put down their weapons. I have just now come back from pursuing the people." Then he said: "Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, commands you to get up and go to Banu Qurayzah." According to another report, "What a fighter you are! Have you put down your weapons" He said, "Yes." He said, "But we have not put down our weapons yet, get up and go to these people." He said: "Where?" He said, "Banu Qurayzah, for Allah has commanded me to shake them." So the Messenger of Allah got up immediately, and commanded the people to march towards Banu Qurayzah, who were a few miles from Al-Madinah. This was after Salat Az-Zuhr… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 33:26-27; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

If this Jewish tribe had really betrayed Muhammad and his cronies then why did the Muslims put down their weapons? Why didn’t Muhammad immediately confront the Banu Qurayza and settle the issue with them? Why did it take the prodding of "Gabriel" for Muhammad to turn his attention to the Banu Qurayza? And why did Muhammad have to ask his spirit guide where he should attack? Wasn’t it apparent that the spirit was obviously referring to Banu Qurayza in light of their alleged treachery? Finally, where do the so-called sound ahadith say that the reason why "Gabriel" commanded Muhammad to attack the Banu Qurayza was because of their betrayal?

As the AI author stated in his article:

I've searched the nine books of Hadeeth (Saheeh Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim, Sunan Al-Tarmithi, Sunan Al-Nasa'i, Sunan Abi Dawood, Sunan Ibn Majah, Musnad Ahmad, Muwatta' Malik, and Sunan Al-Darimi). In my search I did not find any single Hadeeth which indicates that Bani Quraytha either officially (or even unofficially) renounced the treaty, nor did I find a Hadeeth which indicates that Bani Quraytha violated the treaty in any way.

As a matter of fact, the only Hadeeth I found regarding Bani Quraytha's position was one Hadeeth [Musnad Ahmad - 22823] which says that Bani Quraytha actually refused to assist the Pagan Arabs in any way in their assault against Mohammed… History is written by the victors, thus the Muslims have throughout history claimed that the Bani Quraytha Jews were the traitors. Yet because the nine Hadeeth collectors (From Bukhari to Al-Darimi) were men who feared Allah, they couldn't include in their books any Hadeeth which wasn't authentic, thus they couldn't find any Hadeeth to put in their books which talks about the treachery of Bani Quraytha. (Underline emphasis ours)

So much for Zawadi’s smoke and mirrors tactics.

Will the real antagonists please stand up?

Let us take for granted that Zawadi and his fellow dawagandists are correct and that the Banu Qurayza did intend to aide the pagans against the Muslims. Would that make them traitors and therefore deserving of extermination? Not at all.

What Zawadi’s "reply" completely ignores is the fact that the reason why the Meccans (and later the Jews) decided to fight the Muslims is because Muhammad had derided and insulted them during his stay at Mecca, and then had his followers attack and rob their caravans after he had migrated to Medina.

According to ‘Ali b. Nasr b. ‘Ali and ‘Abd al-Warith b. ‘Abd al-Samad b. ‘Abd al-Warith- ‘Abd al-Samad b. ‘Abd al-Warith- his father- Aban al-‘Attar- Hisham b. ‘Urwah: ‘Urwah wrote to ‘Abd al-Malik b. Marwan as follows:

You have written to me asking about Abu Sufyan and the circumstances of his expedition. Abu Sufyan b. Harb came from Syria at the head of nearly seventy horsemen from all the clans of Quraysh. They had been trading in Syria and they all came together with their money and their merchandise. The Messenger of God and his companions were informed about them. This was after fighting had broken out between them and people had been killed, including Ibn al-Hadrami at Nakhlah, and some of Quraysh had been taken captive, including one of the sons of al-Mughirah and their mawla, Ibn Kaysan. Those responsible [for the fighting] were ‘Abd Allah b. Jash and Waqid, the confederate of the Banu ‘Adi b. Ka‘b, together with other companions of the Messenger of God whom he had sent out with ‘Abd Allah b. Jash. This incident had provoked (a state of) war between the Messenger of God and Quraysh and was the beginning of the fighting in which they inflicted casualties upon one another; it took place before Abu Sufyan and his companions had set out for Syria.

Subsequently Abu Sufyan and the horsemen of Quraysh who were with him returned from Syria, following the coastal road. When the Messenger of God heard about them he called together his companions and told them of the wealth they had with them and the fewness of their numbers. The Muslims set out with no other object than Abu Sufyan and the horsemen with him. They did not think that these were anything but (easy) booty and did not suppose that there would be a great battle when they met them. It is concerning this that God revealed, "And ye longed that other than the armed one might be yours."

When Abu Sufyan heard that the companions of the messenger of God were on their way to intercept him, he sent to Quraysh (saying), "Muhammad and his companions are going to intercept your caravan, so protect your merchandise …" (The History of Al-Tabari: The Foundation of the Community, translated by M. V. McDonald, annotated by W. Montgomery Watt [State University of New York Press, Albany 1987], Volume VII, pp. 28-29; bold emphasis and comments within brackets ours)

The Meccans suspected that the reason Muhammad left for Medina was to regroup in order to come back to fight and subjugate them. It didn’t take long for Muhammad to confirm that their suspicions were correct:

After his companions had left, the apostle stayed in Mecca waiting for permission to migrate. Except for Abu Bakr and ‘Ali, none of his supporters were left but those under restraint and those who had been forced to apostatize. The former kept asking the apostle for permission to emigrate and he would answer, ‘Don’t be in a hurry; it may be that God will give you a companion.’ Abu Bakr hoped that it would be Muhammad himself.

When the Quraysh saw that the apostle had a party and companions not of their tribe and outside their territory, and that his companions had migrated to join them, and knew that they had settled in a new home and had gained protectors, they feared that the apostle might join them, SINCE THEY KNEW THAT HE HAD DECIDED TO FIGHT THEM. So they assembled in their council chamber, the house of Qusayy b. Kilab where all their important business was conducted, to take counsel what they should do in regard to the apostle, FOR THEY WERE NOW IN FEAR OF HIM. (The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Oxford University Press, Karachi, Tenth impression 1995], p. 221; capital emphasis ours)

Zawadi mentioned the treaty Muhammad made with the Jews, the one which guaranteed their peace and protection provided that they kept their end of the bargain. Zawadi obviously thinks that this proves that the Jews were at fault for what Muhammad did to them.

As far as this peace treaty is concerned we will let the late great Christian scholar of Islam Sir William Muir help put this in perspective in order to see the bigger picture:

IV. The Jews

The JEWISH TRIBES located in the vicinity of Medina were on an entirely different footing. Mahomet, as I have already shown, had not only acknowledged the divine authority of their religion, but rested his own claims, in an important degree, upon the evidence of their Scriptures, and the testimony of their learned men. No object was nearer his heart than a combination with them. His feasts, his fasts, his ceremonies, were, up to this time, framed in close correspondence with Jewish custom. Jerusalem itself was his Kibla. Towards that holy spot, the Prophet, and all his followers, turned five times a day while they prostrated themselves in prayer. There was no sacrifice that Mahomet was not prepared to make, short of the abandonment of his claim to the prophetic office, in order to gain the Jews over to his cause.

Mahomet desirous of a combination with them

It was natural that Mahomet, holding these sentiments, should desire to enter into close union with the Jews. This he did in a formal manner shortly after reaching Medina; for he associated them in a treaty of mutual obligation, drawn up in writing, between the Refugees and the men of Medina, in which he confirmed the Jews in the practice of their religion, and in the secure possession of their property. The main provisions of this Contract, as given to us by Ibn Ishac, are the following:- …

Ill-will grows up between Mahomet and the Jews.

It is nowhere stated when this treaty was entered into; but we may naturally conclude that it was not long after the arrival of Mahomet at Medina. It is probable that, for a short time, the Jews remained on terms of cordiality with their new ally; but it soon became apparent to them that Judaism could not go hand in hand with Islam. The position of Mahomet was no longer negative: his religion was not a mere protest against error and superstition. It was daily becoming more positive and more exclusive in its terms. The Prophet rested his claims on the predictions of the Jewish Scriptures; yet he did not profess to be the Messiah; --- the Messiah, he held, had already appeared in the person of Jesus, and had been rejected. He was himself another, and a greater Prophet, also foretold in their Book. The Jews, he said, knew this: they recognized in Mahomet the promised Prophet, "as they recognized their own sons;" yet, out of jealousy and spite, from wilful blindness, they rejected him, as they had rejected their own Messiah. This was the position which Mahomet held: how could they concede it without an entire abandonment of Judaism? It was impossible. Thus Judaism and Islam came rapidly into a state of direct antagonism. Those Jews who joined Mahomet virtually abnegated their ancestral faith, and went over to another. With few exceptions, however, the Jews remained steadfast, and fearlessly testified that their Scriptures contained no warrant for the assumptions of the Arabian Prophet: the Messiah that was to come, they said, should be of Jewish blood, and of the lineage of David. The disappointed hope of finding in Mahomet a supporter of their faith, naturally changed into bitter and hostile feeling. What availed his oft-repeated professions of respect for their ancient prophets, and allegiance to their Scriptures, when he now so openly contradicted their clearest testimony?

They are inveighed against as blind and stiff-necked

The few traitors to Judaism, whom Mahomet was able (by what inducements we shall see by and by) to gain over, were of the utmost service to his cause. They were constantly referred to as his "witnesses". They bore evidence that the Prophet's character answered to every mark predicted in their Books; and asserted that their brethren, actuated by jealousy, and mortified that the gift of prophecy should pass over from their nation to another people, had concealed the passages which were favourable to his claims. These were the only men whose eyes were open. Judicial blindness had seized the rest; a "thick covering" enveloped their hearts, and rendered them seared and callous. They followed in the footsteps of their forefathers. What but unbelief and rebellion might be looked for from the descendants of those who murmured against Moses, killed their Prophets, and rejected their Messiah?

The Jews a standing cause of annoyance to Mahomet

Such was the plausible reasoning by which Mahomet succeeded, so far as his own followers were concerned, in setting aside the adverse testimony of the Jews; yet they were a constant cause of trouble and anxiety. They annoyed him with questions, the point of which he found it often difficult to turn aside. The very people to whose corroboration he had spontaneously appealed over and over again in the Coran, proved a stubborn and standing witness against him. There existed, also, a strong sympathy between the clans of Medina and the Jewish tribes, which had severally stood by them in their troubles, and had repeatedly shed their blood in their defence. Sympathy in such a direction was dangerous to Mahomet. He resolved to rid him of this source of weakness and risk; and he was not long in finding pretexts which might enable him to gain his end.

Notices of them in the Coran

Meanwhile, his Revelation teemed with invectives against the Israelites. The tales of their forefathers’ disobedience, folly, idolatry, were reiterated at great length; and the conclusion insinuated that the descendants of so flagitious and incorrigible a race must be equally incorrigible and flagitious15.

These remarks explain Mahomet's secession from the Jewish institutions

This outline, otherwise in some respects premature, is necessary as an introduction to the following chapter, in which we shall find Mahomet gradually receding from the customs and institutions of the Jews, even where he had formerly adopted them. (Muir, The Life of Mahomet: With Introductory Chapters on the Original Sources for the Biography of Mahomet, and on the Pre-Islamic History of Arabia, Volume III, Chapter Ninth: State of Parties at Medina.—First two Years after Mahomet's Arrival. A.H. II. A.D. 623, pp. 31, 35-38; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

As Muir wonderfully put it, Muhammad at first sought to appease the Jews by following their customs and practices in order to win them over, a point which is tacitly admitted by the Muslim sources themselves. Yet when he saw that his efforts were in vain and that they were not going to convert Muhammad turned against them and their traditions. For example, Muhammad initially prayed facing Jerusalem and only changed his direction to the Kabah when he saw the Jews mocking him:

The Change of Qiblah

One of these is God’s changing of the Muslims’ Qiblah (the direction faced in prayer) from Syria (that is, Jerusalem) to the Ka‘bah. This was in the second year of the Prophet’s residence in Medina, in Sha‘ban (which began January 28, 624). The early scholars disagree as to the date at which the Qiblah was changed in this year; the majority say that it was changed halfway through Sha‘ban, eighteen months after the arrival of the Messenger of God in Medina.

Those who says this.

According to Musa b. Harun al-Hamdani – ‘Amr b. Hammad – Asbat – al-Suddi – Abu Malik and Abu Salih – Ibn ‘Abbas and Murrah al-Hamdani – Ibn Mas‘ud and some companions of the Prophet: People used to pray towards Jerusalem when the Prophet came to Medina, and for eighteen months after his Emigration. He used to raise his head to heaven when he prayed, to see what he would be commanded, he used to pray towards Jerusalem, and then this was abrogated in favour of the Ka‘bah. The Prophet used to like to pray towards the Ka‘bah, and God revealed the verse: "We have seen the turning of your face to Heaven…"

According to Yunus b. ‘Abd al-A‘la – Ibn Wahb – Ibn Zayd: The Prophet turned towards Jerusalem for sixteen months, and then it reached his ears that the Jews were saying, "By God, Muhammad and his companions did not know where their Qiblah was until we directed them." This displeased the Prophet and he raised his face toward Heaven, and God said, "We have seen the turning of your face to Heaven." (The History of Al-Tabari: The Foundation of the Community, translated by M. V. McDonald, annotated by W. Montgomery Watt [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany 1987], Volume VII, pp. 24-25; bold emphasis ours)

For more on this point please see this article.

And, as Muir again correctly noted, these Jews had legitimate disagreements with Muhammad’s prophetic assertions since he contradicted just about everything that the Hebrew prophets said regarding God, Messiah, salvation, ethics etc.

Muhammad had even told the Jews that if they couldn’t find a prophecy about him in their Scriptures then they were not obligated to follow him. But when the Jews denied that he was mentioned in their inspired Books, Muhammad refused to accept this and took their rejection as a sign of their obstinate rebellion:

The apostle wrote to the Jews of Khaybar according to what a freedman of the family of Zayd b. Thabit told me from ‘Ikrima or from Sa‘id b. Jubayr from Ibn ‘Abbas: ‘In the name of God the compassionate the merciful from Muhammad the apostle of God friend and brother of Moses WHO CONFIRMS WHAT MOSES BROUGHT. God says to you O scripture folk, and you will find it in your scripture "Muhammad is the apostle of God; and those with him are severe against the unbelievers, merciful among themselves. Thou seest them bowing, falling prostrate seeking bounty and acceptance from God. The mark of their prostrations is on their foreheads. That is their likeness in the Torah and in the Gospel like a seed which sends forth its shoot and strengthens it and it becomes thick and rises straight upon its stalk delighting the sowers that He may anger the unbelievers with them. God has promised those who believe and do well forgiveness and a great reward." I adjure you by God, AND BY WHAT HE HAS SENT DOWN TO YOU, by the manna and quails He gave as food to your tribes before you, and by His drying up the sea for your fathers when He delivered them from Pharaoh and his works, that you tell me, DO YOU FIND IN WHAT HE SENT DOWN TO YOU that you should believe in Muhammad? IF YOU DO NOT FIND THAT IN YOUR SCRIPTURE THEN THERE IS NO COMPULSION UPON YOU. "The right path has become plainly distinguished from error" so I call you to God and His Prophet’ (313). (Alfred Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, p. 256; capital emphasis ours)


According to what I heard from ‘Ikrima, freedman of Ibn ‘Abbas or from Sa‘id b. Jubayr from Ibn ‘Abbas, Jews used to hope that the apostle would be a help to them against Aus and Khazraj before his mission began; and when God sent him from among the Arabs they disbelieved in him and contradicted what they had formerly said about him. Mu‘adh b. Jabal and Bishr b. al-Bara’ b. Ma‘rur brother of B. Salama said to them: ‘O Jews, fear God and become Muslims, for you used to hope for Muhammad’s help against us when we were polytheists and to tell us that he would be sent and describe him to us.’ Salam b. Mishkam, one of the B. al-Nadir, said, ‘He has not brought us anything we recognize and he is not the one we spoke of to you.’ So God sent down about that saying of theirs: ‘And when a book comes to them from God CONFIRMING what they have, though beforehand they were asking for help against those who disbelieve, when there came to them what they knew, they disbelieved in it, so God’s curse rests on the unbelievers.’

Malik b. al-Sayf said when the apostle had been sent and they were reminded of the condition that had been imposed on them and what God had covenanted with them concerning him, ‘No covenant was ever made with us about Muhammad.’ So God sent down concerning him: ‘Is it not that whenever they make a covenant a party of them set it aside? Nay most of them do not believe.’

Abu Saluba al-Fityuni said to the apostle: ‘O Muhammad, you have not brought us anything we recognize and God has not sent down to you any sign that we should follow you.’ So God sent concerning his words, ‘We have sent down to thee plain signs and only evildoers disbelieve in them.’ (P. 257; bold, capital and italic emphasis ours)

One more time:

A number of them came in to the apostle and he said to them, ‘Surely you know that I am an apostle from God to you.’ They replied that they did not know it and would not bear witness to him. So god sent down concerning their words: ‘But God testifies concerning what He has sent down to thee. With His knowledge did He send it down and the angels bear witness. And God is sufficient as a witness.’ (P. 265; bold emphasis ours)


Mahmud b. Sayhan and Nu’man b. Ada’ and Bahri and ‘Uzayr and Sallam came to him and said: ‘Is it true, Muhammad, that what you have brought is the truth from God? For our part we cannot see that it is arranged as the Torah is.’ He answered, ‘You know quite well that it is from God; you will find it written IN THE TORAH WHICH YOU HAVE. If men and jinn came together to produce its like they could not.’ Finhas and ‘Abdullah b. Suriya and Ibn Saluba and Kinana b. al-Raba‘ and Ashya‘ and Ka’b b. al-Asad and Shamwil and Jabal were there and they said: ‘Did neither men nor jinn tell you this, Muhammad?’ He said: ‘You know well that it is from God and that I am the apostle of God. You will find it written IN THE TORAH YOU HAVE.’ They said: ‘When God sends an apostle He does for him what he wishes, so bring down a book to us from heaven that we may read it and know what it is, otherwise we will produce one like the one you bring.’ So God sent down concerning their words: ‘Say, Though men and jinn should meet to produce the like of this Quran they would not produce its like though one helped the other.’ (324).

Huyayy, Ka’b, Abu Rafi‘, Ashya‘, and Shamwil said to ‘Abdullah b. Sallam when he became a Muslim, ‘There is no prophecy among the Arabs, but your master is a king.’ Then they went to the apostle and asked him about Dhu’l-Qarnayn and he told them what God had sent him about him from what he had already narrated to Quraysh. They were of those who ordered Quraysh to ask the apostle about him when they sent al-Nadr and ‘Uqba to them. (Ibid., pp. 269-270; bold, underline and capital emphasis ours)

This is when Muhammad decided to threaten them by demanding the Jews to convert to Islam or suffer the consequences.

And to get an idea of how Muhammad really felt about the Banu Qurayza notice what he said to them on the day of their slaughter:

When the apostle approached their forts he said: ‘You brothers of monkeys… has god disgraced you and brought his vengeance upon you?’ Banu Quraiza replied: ‘O Abul Qasim, you are not a barbarous person.’ (Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad, p. 461)

How wrong they were since Muhammad was truly a barbaric tyrant as they were about to soon find out. To add insult to injury Muhammad had one of his poets lampoon their fate in rhyme:

Narrated Al-Bara:
The Prophet said to Hassan, "Abuse them (with your poems), and Gabriel is with you (i.e., supports you)." (Through another group of sub narrators) Al-Bara bin Azib said, "On the day of Quraiza's (besiege), Allah's Apostle said to Hassan bin Thabit, ‘Abuse them (with your poems), and Gabriel is with you (i.e. supports you).’" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 449)

With the foregoing in perspective does anyone really blame the Jews, or the pagans for that matter, for wanting to get rid of such an evil tyrant? What would the Muslim response be to such a dictator who invades their lands and expects them to accept all his conditions, such as embracing him as a prophet after Muhammad, even though this means that Muslims must reject what the Quran says concerning the finality of prophethood, and threatens to kill and/or expel them if they don’t acquiesce to all of his demands? The answer is too obvious.

Why, then, should the Jewish tribes of Yathrib be considered traitors for trying to protect themselves from Muhammad’s tyranny when all they wanted was to be left alone and not to be forced to believe in a false prophet who clearly contradicted their inspired Scriptures?

The judgement of Sa’d bin Muadh and the inconsistency of Muslim Apologists

According to the so-called sound ahadith a Muslim named Sa’d bin Muadh was appointed to determine the fate of the Banu Qurayza. He decided that the men should all be killed and the women and children taken captive. The reports all say that Muhammad praised Sa’d’s decision on the grounds that this was God’s own ruling, that Sa’d judged according to God’s own judgment:

Narrated Abu Sa'id Al-Khudri:
When the tribe of Bani Quraiza was ready to accept Sad's judgment, Allah's Apostle sent for Sad who was near to him. Sad came, riding a donkey and when he came near, Allah's Apostle said (to the Ansar), "Stand up for your leader." Then Sad came and sat beside Allah's Apostle who said to him. "These people are ready to accept your judgment." Sad said, "I give the judgment that their warriors should be killed and their children and women should be taken as prisoners." The Prophet then remarked, "O Sad! You have judged amongst them with (or similar to) the judgment of the King Allah." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 280)

Another Islamic source says that Sa’d passed judgment in accord with the directives of the Torah, specifically Deuteronomy 20:

The Banu Qurayza committed high treason by breaking their oath of alliance with the Muslims and turning against them in time of war. When the battle against them was over, the Prophet, upon him peace, searched for an arbiter known and accepted to both sides who would rule concerning their penalty. The arbiter chosen was Sa`d ibn Mu`adh, who had been mortally wounded and died shortly afterwards. Sa`d said: "I will judge them according to the Law of Musa." He was of the tribe of Aws, who were the allies of the Jewish Banu Qurayza, the men who were executed. They assented to whatever verdict he would give as a leader from Aws.

Ibn Kathir in al-Bidaya mentions that the number of the men executed after the 25-day siege were 400, and that another version says 700. Someone said that the decision was probably taken by Sa`d ibn Mu`adh in light of Deuteronomy 20:12-14 (Shaykh Gibril Fouad Haddad, Banu Qurayza Mosaic Penalty; source; underline emphasis ours)

This raises several questions.

1) Why are Muhammad and his companions accepting the judgment of Deuteronomy 20 as righteous and just when on other occasions Muslim dawagandists attack such OT injunctions as being cruel and harsh, claiming that these Biblical verses are vile and wicked for supposedly condoning the mass genocide of peoples?

2) The Islamic sources say that Muhammad didn’t only have the warriors or those responsible killed, such as the leaders of Banu Quraiza, but even young men who had reached puberty were massacred despite the fact that they didn't have anything to do with the decisions of their leaders/elders.

The Messenger of God had commanded that all of them who had reached puberty should be killed. (The History of Al-Tabari: The Victory of Islam, translated by Michael Fishbein [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany 1997], Volume VIII, p. 38)

Why were these innocent boys therefore killed?

3) To top it off the Islamic reports further claim that the way Muslims determined whether the children had become young, mature men is by having them expose their genitalia to see if they had pubic hairs!

Narrated Atiyyah al-Qurazi:
I was among the captives of Banu Qurayzah. They (the Companions) examined us, and those who had begun to grow hair (pubes) were killed, and those who had not were not killed. I was among those who had not grown hair. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 38, Number 4390)

This basically means that many of those who were brutally murdered were very young, perhaps as young as eleven or twelve. Again, why do Muslim apologists such as Zawadi have no problem with Muhammad’s orders to behead innocent young boys when they didn't conspire to "betray" the Muslims? Why should such actions now be acceptable when on other occasions both Zawadi and his cohorts constantly attack the OT commandment to wipe out men, women, children, and infants?

Muslims like Zawadi cannot have their cake and eat it too. If the OT is wrong for commanding the mass extermination of tribes then Muhammad was equally wrong for beheading young boys who had done nothing wrong. After all, are Muslims like Zawadi not always harping on how Islam denies original sin and corporate solidarity (*)? Why, then, should these innocent young men suffer because of the decision of a few leaders?

For those interested in reading the justice behind these OT commands we recommend the following articles and rebuttals (1, 2).

And to see what Islam truly teaches concerning original sin, corporate solidarity, federal headship etc., we suggesting consulting these discussions and responses (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

We come to the conclusion of our response. Lord Jesus willing, more refutations to Zawadi’s smokescreens and bluster will follow shortly.

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