When the Meccans (pagan) enemies of Islam came forth with a force to attack Medinah and annihilate Islam, the Banu Quraiza, the Jewish tribe in Medinah who agreed to abide by the peace treaty with the Muslims joined the enemy ranks and thus openly the treacherously broke the peace treaty.

The Prophet sent two of his deputies to reconcile with the Jews and reminded them of the peace alliance. The Jews responded: “There is no bond or compact between us and him”

Thus they had committed breach of the treaty right at the most critical moment of the war, joined hands with the invaders and endangered the entire population of Madinah.

After winning the battle against the Meccan pagans, the Prophet moved toward the Bani Quraiza tribe to justly reprove them (as per the treaty) for breaking the sacred agreed upon alliance. By his mercy, the Prophet asked the Jewish tribe as to who should be the judge to grant them the appropriate castigation. The Jews agreed that one of their own men, Sa’d ibn Mu’adh (a Jewish convert to Islam) to be their judge.

Thus Sa’d (and NOT the Prophet) questioned the Jewish tribe: “will ye, then bind yourselves by the covenant of God that whatsoever I shall decide, ye shall accept?” There was a murmur of assent. “Then” Proceeded Sa’d, “my judgment is that the men shall be put to death…”. Then the judgement was likewise implemented.

Now with this context to the incident one can clearly conclude that the Islamic state had a relationship of full tolerance and a comprehensive peace treaty with the Jews which all sides agreed to abide by. This treaty was broken by the Jews, who fought alongside the enemies of Islam, and were thus punished according to the judgement made by a man of their own liking and choice, whose judgement they promised to abide by.

Sir William Muir, a critic of Islam, praised the Prophet for his immense contribution to the world,

“We may freely concede that it (Islam) banished forever many of the darker elements of superstition for ages shrouding the (Arabian) Peninsula. Idolatry vanished before the battle-cry of Islam; the doctrine of the Unity and infinite Perfections of God, and a special all-pervading Providence, became a living principle in the hearts and lives of the followers of Mohammad, even as in his own…Nor are social virtues wanting. Brotherly love inculcated towards all within the circle of the faith; infanticide proscribed; orphans to be protected, and slaves (servants) treated with considerations; intoxicating drinks prohibited, so that Mohammadanism (Islam) may boast of a degree of temperance unknown to any other creed”. (The Life of Mahomet, p. 521).

4 thoughts on “Quraiza

  1. charmedshiva December 31, 2012 at 10:12 am Reply

    Wait, let me get this straight. You are creating a POSITIVE picture out of the story of Banu Qurayza? It’s a positive thing that the Prophet asked another person to rule a judgement which turned out to be a judgement of massacre, and then swiftly implemented the massacre?

    Your quote from Muir has nothing at all to prove about the case of Banu Qurayza. It doesn’t belong in this post at all. Random quotes that portray a positive picture of certain prophetic characteristics, from a limited and non-holistic picture of the sira, have no place in the presentation of specific, individual morals in Islam. There is no need to gauge attention away from the real issue at hand and instead put it on a vague praise quote.

    Quite frankly, one would have to wonder what kind of “tolerance” we can learn from contracting “peace” with people who didn’t even know what breach would entail, and whose men (+ one woman) were killed in totality, sparing only the young boys who hadn’t grown any facial hair from puberty. When a war is fought between two nations, for instance, does the winning army then take all the members of the opposing army and massacre them as a punishment? Would that soothe your sense of morality?

    It would be better if you included some more details. What exactly was their treacherous breach of the peace treaty? What details do we have about what exactly they did to fight against the Muslims and break the treaty? Why did their breaching of the treaty deserve a massacre? What are the differing views on this topic? Who has authority to say the sources cited for it are reliable (seeing that this story is mostly taken from Ibn Ishaq) and what are their claims? What was written within that treaty/pact? What are the Quranic verses referring to this event and what do they reveal? Etc.

    • sincereadvisor January 1, 2013 at 5:39 am Reply

      You are perhaps correct that I need to add more details. I will do so in future. Most of these posts were in reply to other people who were already familiar with the story. One thing I never understood is that there are some Hadiths about an elderly, poor Jewish man in Medina who Caliph Omar took to Beit-ul-Mal to get him assistance. If all Jewish men had been killed, where did this Jewish man come from? ” So not all Jewish males were killed. This is also hinted at in Quran, which says, “so that some you slew, and some you made prisoners.” The story about Banu Quraiza most likely started with Ibn Ishaq’s Sira, which Ishaq had heard from Jews who probably exaggerated it. In any case, later on, it was partly narrated in Sahih Muslim.

      There is no dispute, however, that the issue was treason, and there is no reason to regurgitate it. I think somebody on Wikipedia summarized it really well: “Several members of the Banu Aus pleaded for their old Jewish allies and agreed to Muhammad’s proposal that one of their chiefs should judge the matter. Muhammad appointed Sa’d, the Banu Qurayza agreed to his appointment.[Sa’d had been wounded in the earlier battles, and was on the verge of death. He declared that they be judged by the laws of their own religion (Judaism). Invoking Torah law, Sa’d decreed that all adult male members of the tribe should be executed and all women and children enslaved.” So, it was not Prophet Muhammad’s decision but Saad’s who used the Old Testament to decide the case. But as I stated above, most likely not all men were executed. It had also been the practice of Prophet Muhammad to try Jews (with regard to adultery cases) using the Old Testament laws. This was to drive home the point that the Old Testament was obsolete, and Jews would be better off accepting God’s new law.

  2. charmedshiva January 2, 2013 at 6:44 am Reply

    Banu Qurayza was not the only Jewish tribe in Arabia. No one said the Prophet wiped out all Jewish men.

    I don’t see how that verse from the Quran indicates that some men were spared. It only indicates that some Jews, who very well could have been women, were not killed. Are there any more verses discussing this issue? What does Sahih Muslim reveal about this?

    This one word answer, “treason,” is a pretty vague way of saying what the specific crime was.

    I still don’t see why massacre was appropriate. Using the Torah to come up with law only furthers the problem for me, it doesn’t justify anything. I’m interested in knowing what part of the Torah says that when “a tribe” commits treason all of its men should be massacred.

    Using Jewish law to stone people or allow massacre and enslavement as a way to “drive home the point that the Old Testament was obsolete, and Jews would be better off accepting God’s new law” is wrong on so many levels.

  3. Herman March 20, 2014 at 3:16 pm Reply

    First of all, according to the Jews themselves, “The Jews responded: “There is no bond or compact between us and him.” But the writer of the original post automatically concludes that it is the Muslims telling the truth & not the Jews.

    Second of all, and more importantly, in what universe is “violating a treaty” tantamount to treason? The Japanese in World War 2 violated all kinds of treaties — they were using chemical weapons on the poor Chinese, invaded Thailand, Burma, etc. So did the victorious allies after the end of the war massacre all Japanese men? NO, OF COURSE NOT as CIVILIZED PEOPLE DO NOT COMMIT SUCH ATROCITIES.

    Third of all, suppose for the sake of argument that the writer of the original post and I have established a peace treaty, and then the writer of the original post goes out with his merry men and robs people for booty and enslaves people along the way. Would anyone logically argue that I should be still bound by the peace treaty, given that the one I made the treaty with is not interested in peace, or can I just rightly conclude that the writer of the original post is a MENACE TO SOCIETY?

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