False Allegation: Prophet Muhammad Brutally Killed Banu Qurayza

False Allegation: Prophet Muhammad Brutally Killed Banu Qurayza

Mohamad Mostafa Nassar


The claim by enemies of Islam is often made:

Mohammed’s bloodthirsty slaughter of the Jews at Banu Qurayza, leaving only the women and children to be sold into slavery shows Islam is false and Muhammad was a warlord
from Abu Da’ud

Narrated Atiyyah al-Qurazi:
I was among the captives of Banu Qurayza. They (Mohammed’s followers) examined us, and those who had begun to grow (pubic) hair were killed, and those who had not were not killed. I was among those who had not grown hair.


Ok lets look at this incident, which is quite often used as an example by Islam-haters of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) being a butcher.
Rather then the anti islamic sites, let us look at the true historical context behind the incident.

At the beginning of the seventh century A.D., there were three Jewish tribes living in Madinah (Yathrib). They were Banu Qainuka’a, Banu Nadhir and Banu Qurayza. All three tribes were rich and powerful, and also, they were more civilized than the Arabs.

Whereas the Arabs were all farmers, the Jews were the entrepreneurs of industry, business and commerce in Arabia, and they controlled the economic life of Madinah (Yathrib). The two Arab tribes – Aus and Khazraj – were debt-ridden to the Jews perennially.

The migration of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam), from Makkah to Madinah (then Yathrib), brought him into contact with the Jews for the first time. At the beginning they were friendly to him. He granted them the famous Charter of Madinah, and they acknowledged him the ruler of their city, and agreed to abide by his decisions in all disputes.

They also agreed to defend the city in the event of an invasion by an enemy.

But, unfortunately, this friendship did not last long. It soon became obvious that the Jews had given their friendship to Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) with many reservations. In their own interest, they ought to have acted their part of the agreement faithfully but they did not.

For this change in their attitude, there were many reasons, among them:

1. When the Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) arrived in Madinah, he reformed the life of whoever became a Muslim. He taught them to be temperate and moderate in everything, and taught them the value of discipline in life. They stopped drinking and gambling both of which were the causes of their ruin in the past; and they gave up taking loans at high rates of interest from the Jews.

When the Arabs stopped taking loans and paying interest on them, a rich source of revenue suddenly dried up for the Jews, and they bitterly resented this. They could now see that their grip on the economic life of Madinah was beginning to loosen.

2. The Jews also realized that Islam was an enemy of the system of exploitation, and of the capitalist system. They began to see Islam as a threat to their economic interests.

3. The Jewish priests hated Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) as much as the Jewish money-lenders. He had shown to the Jews how their priest followed deviant interpretations of their scriptures, and how they distorted their text.

The priests, on their part, tried to convince their flocks that Prophet Muhammad (Sallallaahu alaihi wasallam)did not have knowledge of their scriptures, and they tried to point out to them the “errors” in the Qur’an.

The Jews also believed that they were safe only as long as the two Arab tribes of Madinah, the Aus and the Khazraj, were fighting against each other. Peace between the Aus and the Khazraj, they thought, would pose a threat to their survival in Arabia. For this reason, they were always fomenting trouble between them.

Of the three Jewish tribes of Madinah, the Banu Qainuka’a and the Banu Nadhir had already been expelled after the battles of Badr and Uhud respectively, and they had left with all their baggage, and herds of animals, and had resettled in Khyber.

The third and the last tribe of the Jews in Madinah was the Banu Qurayza. According to the terms of the Charter of Madinah, it was their duty to take an active part in defending the city during the siege of A.D. 627.

But not only they did not contribute any men or materials during the siege but were actually caught conspiring with the enemy to compass the destruction of the Muslims. Some Jews even attacked a house in which many Muslim women and children had taken refuge as it was considered a safer place for them than their own houses.

Between the pagans of Makkah and the Jews of Madinah, the Muslims would have been massacred. It was only the presence of mind of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) that averted such a disaster.

R.V.C. Bodley writes:

The Jews were not at first inclined to listen to Abu Sufyan’s proposal (to attack Muslims from the rear), but after a while they compromised and agreed to betray the Moslems when the time seemed opportune. (The Messenger – the Life of Mohammed)

The reason for the campaign goes back to Banu Qurayzah’s breaking of the treaty between themselves and the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam). This has been proved from different reports which, when taken together, could be used as valid evidence. Huyayy ibn Akhtab al Nadari incited them to break the treaty at a critical time when the Muslims were being besieged by 10,000 warriors from the various tribes.

There is a strong report that the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) sent al Zubayr ibn al Awwam (radhiyallahu anhu) to check on Banu Qurayzah, then he sent Sad ibn Mu’adh, Sa’d ibn ‘Ubadah, Abd Allah ibn Rawahah and Khawwat ibn Jubayr (radhiyallahu anhuma)to check whether the rumors about the treachery of Banu Qurayzah were true. These four confirmed the rumors, and this news distressed the Muslims.

Ibn Ishaq gave a detailed report — without isnad — of the treachery of Banu Qurayzah and their breaking of the treaty. Most of the Seerah writers also reported it without isnad

Musa ibn ‘Uqbah mentions — also without isnad — that Qurayzah asked Huyayy ibn Akhtab to take 90 men from the nobles of Quraysh and Ghatafan as hostages, so the Quraysh would not leave Madinah before they had destroyed the Muslims. Huyayy agreed to that, so they announced their breaking of the treaty.

The conduct of the Jews during the siege of Madinah was high treason against the State.

Therefore, when the confederate army broke up and the danger to Madinah was averted, the Muslims turned their attention to them.

The Jews shut themselves up in their forts and the Muslims besieged them. But some days later, they requested the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) to raise the siege, and agreed to refer the dispute to arbitration.

The Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam)allowed the Jews to choose their own arbitrator. Here they made a very costly blunder. They should have chosen Prophet  Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) himself – the embodiment of mercy – to be their judge. If they had, he would have allowed them to depart from Madinah with their baggage and their animals, and the incident would have been closed.

But the Jews didn’t choose the Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) as their judge. Instead, they chose Sa’ad ibn Muadh, the leader of their former allies, the Aus. Sa’ad was a man who was utterly reckless with life – his own as well as that of others.

Sa’ad had received a mortal wound during the battle of the Trench, and in fact died soon after he had passed judgment on the fate of the Jews. HE declared treason to be an unpardonable offense, and his verdict was inexorable. He invoked the Torah, the Scripture of the Jews, and sentenced all men to death, and women and children to slavery.

The number of WARRIORS who were executed was 400. Three of Banu Qurayzah were spared because they entered Islam and they kept their wealth; three others may have been spared because they were protected by some of the companions because of their loyalty to the treaty during the siege. There are many reports dealing with this, but they cannot be taken as valid evidence. The prisoners were detained in the house of Bint al Harith.

Only one of their women was killed, she had killed one of the companions — Khalid ibn Suwayd(radhiyallahu anhu) — by dropping a millstone on him. Boys below the age of puberty were released.

Behold the evidence:

Saheeh Bukhari
Volume 5, Book 58, Number 148:
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
Some people (i.e. the Jews of Bani bin Quraiza) agreed to accept the verdict of Sa’d bin Muadh so the Prophet sent for him (i.e. Sad bin Muadh). He came riding a donkey, and when he approached the Mosque, the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wadallam) said, “Get up for the best amongst you.” or said, “Get up for your chief.” Then the Prophet said, “O S’ad! These people have agreed to accept your verdict.” S’ad said, “I judge that their WARRIORS should be killed and their children and women should be taken as captives.” The Prophet said, “You have given a judgment similar to Allah’s Judgment (or the King’s judgment).”

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 280:
Narrated Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri:
When the tribe of Bani Quraiza was ready to accept S’ad’s judgment, Allah’s Apostle sent for S’ad who was near to him. S’ad came, riding a donkey and when he came near, Allah’s Apostle said (to the Ansar), “Stand up for your leader.” Then S’ad came and sat beside Allah’s Apostle who said to him. “These people are ready to accept your judgment.” S’ad 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.”

Volume 5, Book 59, Number 447:

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
The people of (Banu) Quraiza agreed to accept the verdict of S’ad bin Mu’adh. So the Prophet sent for S’ad, and the latter came (riding) a donkey and when he approached the Mosque, the Prophet said to the Ansar, “Get up for your chief or for the best among you.”

Then the Prophet said (to S’ad).” These (i.e. Banu Quraiza) have agreed to accept your verdict.” S’ad said, “Kill their WARRIORS and take their offspring as captives, “On that the Prophet said, “You have judged according to Allah’s Judgment,” or said, “according to the King’s judgment.”

Volume 8, Book 74, Number 278:
Narrated Abu Said:
The people of (the tribe of) Quraiza agreed upon to accept the verdict of Sa’d. The Prophet sent for him (Sa’d) and he came.

The Prophet said (to those people), “Get up for your chief or the best among you!” Sa’d sat beside the Prophet and the Prophet said (to him), “These people have agreed to accept your verdict.” Sa’d said, “So I give my judgment that their WARRIORS should be killed and their women and children should be taken as captives.” The Prophet said, “You have judged according to the King’s (Allah’s) judgment.” (See Hadith No. 447, Vol. 5)

As for the others:

The siege continued for twenty-five days, during which the Muslims allowed the Jews who had refused to betray the Prophet (peace be upon him) during the Battle of the Ditch to leave and go wherever they wished as a reward for their faithfulness.

(Muhammad Al Ghazali, Fiqh-Us-Seerah: Understanding the Life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), International Islamic Publishing House, p346)

The severe punishments were only given because of the acts of high treason which Banu Qurayzah committed when they betrayed the Muslims and broke the treaty, instead of participating with them in defending Madinah, in accordance with the treaty between the two sides. In this day and age, nations still execute traitors who cooperate with the enemy.

The punishment of Banu Qurayzah fitted their crime, because they had exposed the Muslims to the threat of being killed, their wealth to the threat of being seized, and their women and children to the threat of being taken prisoner; therefore, their punishment was a fitting recompense.

Fact is Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) was not even the one who gave the order for the people to be killed, the decision was made by the arbitrator who the Jews themselves chose. He applied their own law on them, from the Torah. There is no need to avoid historical facts or to deny authentic reports.


They broke a treaty which was agreed between both parties to defend the state of Madinah. They were residents of Madinah and they plotted against other residents of Madinah, clearly violating the treaty they agreed to. Hence it was treason. They plotted against the defending Muslim forces and formed alliances with the enemy. They accepted the verdict because they were guilty.

In the Battle of the Trenches, the Madinan Jews had made a secret alliance with the superior Makkan forces. They planned a rear attack. When the Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) found out about this plot, he took the essential action both politically and for the sake of justice to punish the great betrayal. Its quite clear that if someone agrees to defend you but then betray you, this is a crime.

They didnt physically attack the Muslims because the Muslims discovered their plan. According to anti-islamist logic, action against them would only be justified if there plan worked?? bearing in mind they were going to attack the Muslims from the rear, that would mean all the Muslims would be killed and there would be no one left to administer the punishment for the Jews betrayal. The correct action was taken just in the nick of time.

The historical account is recorded by the people who were there at the time, even the hadith used to form attacks on Islam was recorded by someone who was one of the Jews at the time. It is as accurate as you can get, one thing that you can’t hold against Islam is the degree to which history has been recorded. People against Islam have been using it for years to base there attacks on Islam, so its a bit rich when people now try and claim the historical account is pro Muslim. They think its reliable when they want, and then they claim it aint when it proves there allegations are false

It is certainly more reliable then the evidence presented by anti islamists, which is a mish-mash of conjecture and a re hash of historical events from a number of anti -islamic sites all of whom i have visited. Half quoting hadiths and not giving the full context is there speciality, and obviously someone who is not exposed to the whole truth will be easily swayed.

Its simple, the predetermined agenda of all these sites is that Muhammad was a butcher who wanted power, and Islam is false. They then interpret any hadith, historical incident or Quranic verse to fit this hypothesis. When you get down to the nitty gritty and look at each of the incidents which are cited as evidence, you find that they are all twisted and based on falsehoods.

Allah Knows Best.

Islam reigns