Eliminating Anti-Islamic-State Instigators-Ka‘b bin Al-Ashraf Assassinated

Explanation of Hadith Sahih al-Bukhari 3031

Lessons learned from the incident of the assassination of the enemy of Islam the Jewish Ka‘b bin Al-Ashraf

Short Answer:

Ka ‘b bin Al-Ashraf was Jewish Poet who incited insurrection or mutiny against Islam and Muslims, by being a mouthpiece for the hostile Jewish people at Medina/Madinah, he used his poem as a tool to inciting terrorism, hatred, to encourage enemies of Islam to kill Muslim, not that only but also he wrote poem of sexual nature depicting Muslim women.

 In other words, he was a national security to the first state of Islam led by Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him and Muslim. Now, what do you expect of Muslims to do to defend the new Muslim community in Medina/Madinah?

Would you expect that Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him to send him a bunch of flowers as a reward to that Ka‘b bin Al-Ashraf who was committing betrayal to the peace accord between Muslims and the Jews and committing national security crimes of the highest degree?

Death penalty is the punishment for those who betray peace and incite mass murdering of Muslims even by words. Anyone who collaborate of the enemy and encourage them to attack and kill Muslims is treated EXACTLY, the same as other enemies of Islam who are carrying swords or gun to kill Muslims.

In today’s legal terms, Ka‘b bin Al-Ashraf would be charged with being accessory to the planning of premeditated mass murders of Muslims old and young, men and women. That is who Prophet Muhammed as the supreme leader of the State of Islam in Medina/Madinah had to make a strategic decision to eliminate that imminent danger before the gathering of all enemies of Islam such as the Arab pagans along with the hostile Jews.

The companions of the prophet had to catch that criminal to STOP his black Islamophobic propaganda against Muslims and Muslim children. ANYONE who supports the Enemies of Islam is AN ENEMY of Islam and BOTH are treated THE SAME.

A non-Muslim might jump and ask, how can Prophet Muhammed and Muslims migrate to Medina/Madinah

There are number of reasons as to why Medina/Madinah was chosen:

1)    Order from Almighty Allah to migrate to Medina/Madinah.

2)    Prophet Muhammed’s uncles to his mother’s side, are from Medina/Madinah and owned houses, lands etc, they invited him.

3)    New Muslims from Al-Aws and Al-Khazraj tribes.  

The migration to Medina/Madinah from Mecca, also called ‘Hijrah’, is specific to Prophet Mohamed (Peace be upon him) and his followers. As the number of people embracing Islam steadily increased, so did the opposition and persecution from the Arab Pagan polytheists=Makkan tribes. Concerned about the safety of the new Muslims, the Prophet sent some of them to Ethiopia= Abyssinia, where the Christian ruler, Armah =An-Najashi, warmly received and offered his protection to them.

However, the abuse and torture continued in Makkah and reached a point, where the Prophet ordered more of his followers to set off to the town of ‘Yathrib’, which was later named ‘Al Madinah’, meaning ‘The City’.

The Prophet, however, did not join the emigrants but awaited divine permission from Allah. Once granted, he set off, being accompanied by his closest friend, Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, to join the emigrants in Madinah.

The Muslims who made the Hijrah were called the ‘Muhajirun’ or the ‘Emigrants’- while those already residing in Medina, who later became Muslims, were called the ‘Ansar’ or ‘Helpers’.

The people of Madinah were so pleased with the Prophet and Islam that they asked him to stay permanently with them and make Madinah his home, which he gracefully agreed. Furthermore, the people of Madinah shared their homes and wealth with the migrants, and the Prophet united them with brotherhood.

Thus, began the Islamic civilization, and the establishment of the Muslim state, which gradually spread to Persia, Egypt, and other parts of the world.

Detailed answer:

Important Events Between the Battles of Badr and Uhud:

Tribulation mongers are no less dangerous than those who brandish swords to fight the Muslims, for had it not been for these mongers, tribulation would never have risen. Therefore, the Messenger peace be upon him pursued and killed them to suppress temptation and enable the truth. Some of them were killed after the battle of Badr, including:

The Jewish man, Abu ‘Afak: He was an old man from Banu ‘Amr bin ‘Awf, a Jew who would instigate people against the Prophet peace be upon him and compose poetry to this effect. The Messenger peace be upon him said: “Who would rid me of this wicked [man]?” Saalim bin ‘Umayr, may Allah be pleased with him, set out to find him and kill him.

The major event in the elimination of the anti-Islamic-State instigators in the interval between the Battles of Badr and Uhud was the killing of Ka‘b bin Al-Ashraf.

The killing of Ka‘b bin Al-Ashraf: Ka‘b’s lineage is traced back to Banu Nabhaan, a sect of Tayyi’. In the pre-Islamic era, his father killed someone so he escaped to Madeenah and allied with the Jews of Banu An-Nadheer. He married ‘Aqeelah bint Abi Al-Huqayq and had Ka‘b by her. Ka‘b, who was a poet, antagonized Islam. 

Enraged by the Muslims’ victory over Quraysh in Badr, he traveled to Makkah, lampooning the Prophet peace be upon him and urging Quraysh to retaliate for their slain men whom he mourned and wailed for in his poetry. He also called them to annihilate the Messenger peace be upon him and the Muslims.

He continued to abuse the Prophet peace be upon him in his poetry, encouraging Quraysh to fight the Muslims and maliciously target the Messenger peace be upon him. Once Abu Sufyaan, who was still a polytheist at that time, asked him whether the polytheists’ religion or that of Muhammad peace be upon him and his followers was more loveable to Allah the Almighty.

Ka‘b replied that the polytheists followed a more enlightened way. He then left, having formed the polytheists’ public opinion on fighting the Messenger peace be upon him and declaring his animosity and verbally abusing the Messenger peace be upon him.

When he arrived in Madinah, he publicly provoked the Prophet peace be upon him and started to insult him. He was insolent enough to compose amorous poetry about Umm Al-Fadhl bint Al-Haarith, may Allah be pleased with her, the wife of Al-‘Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with him, who was the uncle of the Prophet .

Hassaan bin Thaabit, may Allah be pleased with him, answers back

The Messenger peace be upon him would urge Hassaan, may Allah be pleased with him, to answer Ka‘b bin Al-Ashraf and would tell him about the whereabouts of Ka‘b in Makkah. When Ka‘b stayed at the house of Al-Muttalib bin Abi Wadaa‘ah bin Dhumayrah As-Sahmi and his wife ‘Aatikah bint Aseed bin Abi Al-‘Ees, the Prophet peace be upon him  informed Hassaan bin Thaabit, may Allah be pleased with him, who composed poetry satirizing Ka‘b’s hosts for having him in their home. When news of Hassaan’s poetry reached ‘Aatikah bint Aseed, she threw out Ka‘b’s luggage and said to her husband,

“What do we have to do with this Jew? Can you not see what Hassaan is doing to us”?

Ka‘b then moved to another household, but every time the Prophet peace be upon him  would tell Hassaan, may Allah be pleased with him, where Ka‘b was, and Hassaan would criticize the hosts in his poetry and they would expel Ka‘b until each and every household had expelled Ka‘b and he returned to Madinah to meet his inevitable doom and well-deserved punishment.

Thus, the propaganda war launched by Hassaan bin Thaabit, may Allah be pleased with him, against Ka‘b achieved its goals.

Ka’b bin Al-Ashraf receives his punishment

The Jew, Ka‘b bin Al-Ashraf, had committed many crimes and acts of treachery and abuse against the Messenger peace be upon him  and against Muslim men and women. Each of these crimes was in itself a violation of the covenant between the Muslims and Jews and thus necessitated the death penalty, so what then should the penalty have been if all these crimes were committed by one single person: this wicked Jew?

The insults to the Prophet, peace be upon him, in his poetry, the sympathy he showed towards the enemies of the Muslims, the lament of their slain warriors and his instigation against the Muslims, all meant that Ka‘b bin Al-Ashraf had breached the covenant and was at war with the Muslims.

Thus, the shedding of his blood became lawful. Therefore, the Prophet peace be upon him ordered that he be killed. The following are the details of this as narrated by Jaabir bin ‘Abdullaah, may Allah be pleased with him and his father:

The Prophet peace be upon him said: “Who is willing to kill Ka‘b bin Al-Ashraf who has offended Allah and His Apostle?”

 Muhammad bin Maslamah got up saying, “Messenger of Allah, would you like me to kill him?” The Prophet peace be upon him said: “Yes.” Ibn Maslamah said, “Then allow me to say a [false] thing [i.e. to deceive Ka‘b].” The Prophet peace be upon him said: “You may say it..”

Then Ibn Maslamah went to Ka‘b and said, “That man [i.e. Muhammad peace be upon him ] demands charity [Zakah] from us, and this has caused us trouble. I have therefore come to borrow from you.” On that, Ka‘b said, “By Allah, you will get drained by him!”

 Ibn Maslamah, said, “Well, as we have followed him, we do not want to leave him until we see what will happen to him. We want you to lend us one or two Wasq [a Wasq is equal to almost 150 kg] of food. Ka‘b said, “Yes, [I will lend it to you], but you should mortgage something to me.”

 Ibn Maslamah and his companion said, “What do you want?” Ka‘b replied, “Mortgage your women to me.” They said, “How can we mortgage our women to you, and you are the most handsome of the Arabs?” Ka‘b said, “Then mortgage your sons to me.” They said, “How can we mortgage our sons to you then later they would be disgraced for having been pawned for one or two Wasq of food. We will mortgage our arms to you.”

Muhammad bin Maslamah promised Ka‘b that they would return to him. He came to Ka‘b at night along with Ka‘b’s foster brother, Abu Naa’ilah. Ka‘b invited them to come into the fort, and then he went down to them. His wife asked him, “Where are you going at this hour?”

 Ka‘b replied, “It is only Muhammad bin Maslamah and my brother Abu Naa’ilah.” His wife said, “I hear a voice as if blood is dripping from it.” Ka‘b said, “They are none but my brother Muhammad bin Maslamah and my foster brother Abu Naa’ilah.”

Muhammad bin Maslamah had, in fact, brought two other men with him and said to them, “When Ka‘b comes, I will say something about his hair and then smell it; when you see that I have got hold of his head, strike him.”

Ka‘b bin Al-Ashraf came down to them wrapped in his clothes, diffusing perfume. Muhammad bin Maslamah said, “Will you allow me to smell your head?” Ka‘b said, “Yes.” Ibn Maslamah smelt it and made his companions smell it as well. Then he asked Ka‘b again, “Will you let me [smell your head]?” Ka‘b said, “Yes.” When Ibn Maslamah got a strong hold of him, he said [to his companions], “Kill him!” So they killed him and went to the Prophet peace be upon him and informed him. [Al-Bukhari]

According to As-Seerah An-Nabawiyyah by Ibn Hishaam may Allah be pleased with him Muhammad bin Maslamah, may Allah be pleased with him, remained for three days without eating or drinking except very little, just enough to keep himself alive, in preparation for the task of killing Ka‘b bin Al-Ashraf.

When the Prophet peace be upon him was informed of this, he asked him why he did not eat or drink. Muhammad bin Maslamah, may Allah be pleased with him, said that it was due to the apprehension he felt due to promising the Prophet peace be upon him to carry out the task while being uncertain whether he could actually do it.

The Prophet peace be upon him said: “You only have to do your best.” Ibn Maslamah, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “We will have to say something false [about the Prophet peace be upon him to carry out the plan];” and the Prophet peace be upon him said, “Say whatever you will.”

According to As-Seerah An-Nabawiyyah by Ibn Is’haaq may Allah be pleased with him  who narrated through a good chain of narrators on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with them, that as they set out on their mission, the Prophet peace be upon him  walked with Muhammad bin Maslamah, may Allah be pleased with him, and his friends up to the Baqee‘ Al-Gharqad graveyard and saw them off, saying: “Go ahead in the Name of Allah. May Allah help you”!

The killing of Ka‘b bin Al-Ashraf provides lessons and benefits in the Fiqh (jurisprudence) of the Prophet peace be upon him  in the way he dealt with the adversaries of Islam and the Islamic state. It is clear from this incident that the penalty for those who breach the covenant is death, and that was what the Prophet peace be upon him decreed. Also, the due penalty for those who insult the Prophet peace be upon him and harm him by speaking ill of him with poetry or otherwise is death – and this was the penalty that Ka‘b bin Al-Ashraf received. 

We derive from this that anyone who verbally abuses the Prophet peace be upon him whether in covenant with the Muslims or not, is due death as punishment. Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah may Allah be pleased with him aptly explained these rulings in detail in his book As-Saarim Al-Maslool ‘alaa Shaatim Ar-Rasool:

  • The way the ruling of the Prophet peace be upon him regarding Ka‘b bin Al-Ashraf was executed indicates that Muslim public interest may necessitate that the execution be done secretly. Secrecy becomes a must if there is potential tribulation or danger that might harm the Muslims a great deal if the execution is not carried out in secret. This indicates that confrontation with the disbelievers, enemies of Islam, and fighters against the Islamic state, is not restricted to the battlefield but transcends into any action that would spite them, provided it is within the limits of Sharee‘ah.

Killing a man who is noticeably effective in a war against the Muslims may save much effort and gross losses that would otherwise be sustained by the Muslims.

This is contingent on the level of security from tribulation which is achieved when the Muslims possess power and rule, so that they would not in consequence suffer eradication or the uprooting of Da‘wah (Islamic propagation) or the corruption of their societies. Some Muslims in the Islamic world have mistakenly resorted to military conflict, based on this incident, which is not proof for them. This is because the Muslims in Madinah were powerful and politically established, whereas those people neither have a state nor power.

The incident at that time enhanced Islam and deterred the disbelievers, and it involved benefits without any potential harm to Muslims. Adopting a similar approach at a time when the Muslims are oppressed results in much evil, corruption, shedding of Muslim blood, the slandering of Muslims and appropriation of their wealth.

The Prophet peace be upon him did not attempt to eliminate any of the polytheists in Makkah even though he was capable of killing the chiefs of disbelief, such as Abu Jahl, Umayyah bin Khalaf and ‘Utbah. It would have been sufficient for him only to gesture to Hamzah or ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with them, or any other Companion and they would have executed that task.

We learn from his guidance, therefore, that the jurisprudence for killing the leaders of disbelief requires power and might, as well as sound Fatwas (religious rulings) from competent religious authorities and full awareness of the consequent benefits and drawbacks. This requires well-established scholars – since in this age interests are interlaced – public opinion plays a major role in state decisions, and the potential for the expansion of harm exists.

  • The behavior of Muhammad bin Maslamah, may Allah be pleased with him, shows the value of the spoken word to the Companions. He promised the Prophet peace be upon him to kill the Jew, Ibn Al-Ashraf, and then he tarried, fearing that difficulties would arise and hinder him from fulfilling his promise. He even abstained from eating and drinking and was overwhelmed by sadness for saying what he felt he could not fulfill.

Contrary to this, many people today make promises and pledges but do not honor them. They breach or retract them, and they remain mere ink on paper. Such are not people of principles and stands intended for the sake of Allah, but rather, they seek interests and benefits which they worship in fear, aside from Allah the Almighty.

Those who uphold the Dawah would rather have their necks broken, their bodies set on fire, and their souls taken than having to retract their words, promises and pledges. They relish death and torment for the sake of their ideology and their Islam.

  • The Prophet’s words: “You only have to do your best,” indicate that victory comes only after the exertion of effort and patiently standing trials. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {That is from the news of the unseen which We reveal to you, [O Muhammad]. You knew it not, neither you nor your people, before this. So be patient; indeed, the [best] outcome is for the righteous.} [Quran 11:49] A Muslim is expected to exhaust his physical and mental energy to fulfill his promise and then rely on Allah the Almighty for the result.
  • The permission the Prophet peace be upon him gave to Muhammad bin Maslamah, may Allah be pleased with him, and his companions to say whatever they willed (to Ka‘b) represents prophetic guidance. They said what would be deemed disbelief under normal circumstances, which means that no limits should be set on spoken words for the sake of achieving military tasks.

However, another question arises: What if the success of military tasks entails committing impermissible deeds or overlooking obligations?

It is known that there is no greater sin than disbelief and polytheism. If pretence of disbelief is permitted, then lesser sins are more deserving of being permitted, provided that it is a guaranteed way of reaching the required results or most likely would lead to them, and provided that only the minimum required of that sin is employed whether it is delaying the performance of an obligation or committing a forbidden act. 

Still, both alternatives are contingent on a Fatwa, for there are certain forbidden acts that are impermissible under any circumstances such as adultery and sodomy.

  • Some issues need to be exclusively decided by the competent Fatwa authorities, especially in exceptional and coercive conditions, as well as during political trials and court martials, since such situations need to be weighed and exceptional Fatwas are to be issued regarding them. 
  •  Original and base rulings are known to everybody, but exceptional rulings which are necessitated by exceptional conditions require the contribution of well-established righteous scholars and Fiqh experts who understand the objectives of the Shari’ah and are well-aware of the reality of the age in which they live.
  • There is great jurisprudence in the Prophetic permission to the Companions to say what they willed, clarified by the Hadeeth: “War is stratagem.” [Muslim]
  • Saying “Go ahead in the Name of Allah. O Allah Help them!” was a reminder for the Companions to be sincere in Jihad. He asked them to proceed in the Name of Allah the Almighty and supplicated to Him to grant them help and success. This motivated the Companions to remain steadfast and boosted their morale. 
  • Consequently, they paid no attention to the power of Ibn Al-Ashraf and the people around him, as they sensed the Help of Allah the Almighty and the Prophetic supplications for Divine help and success.

We notice from the prophetic guidance the utilization of all the available material means and sound planning together with the blessed prophetic supplications. The Companions did not overlook the means that would make their task a success, as Muslims are required to both rely on Allah the Almighty and utilize lawful means.

The plan set by Muhammad bin Maslamah, may Allah be pleased with him, along with his brothers was perfect, as they understood well the prophetic Sunnah (norm) of utilization of means. 

The means that helped make their plan successful were as follows:

  • Abu Naa’ilah, may Allah be pleased with him, was Ka‘b’s foster brother and thus, Ka‘b would have felt safe with him and not feel apprehensive in his presence.
  • Some narrations state that Abu Naa’ilah, may Allah be pleased with him, reassured Ka‘b and brought amusement to his heart by reciting poetry to him before asking for what he needed.
  •  Further contribution to the success of the task was that Abu Naa’ilah spoke to Ka‘b about his need, after Ka‘b asked the people who were with him to leave. Perhaps they would have discovered the matter and warned Ka‘b of the consequences. So having a private conversation with Ka‘b was very successful.
  • Expressing discomfort with the Prophet, peace be upon him and complaining about him reassured Ka‘b bin Al-Ashraf.
  • The idea of mortgaging their weapons was very successful, as their taking weapons with them would not then raise doubts since they brought them to give to Ka‘b as a mortgage. However, they would use these weapons when they met him.
  •  In making an appointment with Ka‘b, they perfected the plan in such a way that they could come at any time of the night and knock on his door without him having the slightest doubt about their intentions.
  • Feeling safe about Abu Naa’ilah and Muhammad bin Maslamah, may Allah be pleased with them, made Ka‘b go outdoors at night at a time when no one would usually venture out of his home for fear of being attacked by an enemy unawares.
  • It was a successful part of the plan to take Ka‘b away from his home to a place where no one could watch or assist him.
  • Abu Naa’ilah successfully lured Ibn Al-Ashraf by holding his hair and smelling the perfume he was wearing. It was a smooth introduction to holding that wicked head to execute the Divine ruling on him.
  •  The Companions showed great ability to preserve secrecy when they kept the plan secret despite the multitudes of the Jews and hypocrites living in Madinah, and the delay in its implementation, and despite the fact that the Prophet peace be upon him suggested the matter publicly before the Companions and consulted them about it. This was proof of the strength of faith of these Companions and their loyalty to their religion.

These brave men carried out their roles in the perfect plan they agreed upon, fully aware of the sublime purpose behind it, and the Messenger peace be upon him with them, with his senses and feelings. They were carrying out the plan with their minds and bodies, and he was leading them by communicating with Allah the Almighty and imploring Him to help and support them.

The impact of the assassination of Ibn Al-Ashraf on the Jews

The news of Ibn Al-Ashraf’s assassination spread throughout Madinah, and the rabbis hastened to complain to the Prophet peace be upon him objecting to what his Companions had done. The Prophet peace be upon him did not show them much care and even confirmed the news of the killing, which was inevitable, owing to his hostile attitude.

The assassination terrorized all the Jews and none of their chiefs dared to leave his fort. They all feared the Muslims, and they were obliged to renew the treaty with the Messenger peace be upon him. They were deeply affected by the assassination of Ka‘b, but continued their schemes against Islam as would be revealed by the ensuing events.

It is worth mentioning that the Messenger peace be upon him did not punish the Jews of Banu An-Nadheer for the crimes of Ka‘b; it was enough to kill him alone in return for his betrayal and he renewed the treaty with them. We learn from the way the Prophet peace be upon him dealt with the Jews that this is the ideal treatment for Jews: to rebuff them, and to kill and pursue those who seek tribulation, as they are people of evil who neither stop their evil nor eliminate it

Allah knows Best.

Almighty Allah is the highest and most knowledgeable, and the attribution of knowledge to him is the safest.

Right from Almighty Allah and wrong from me and Satan

Prepared by Mohamad Mostafa Nassar- Australia.


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Arrogance is not only a sign of insecurity, but also a sign of immaturity. Mature and fully realised persons can get their points across, even emphatically without demeaning or intimidating others.