Jewish Tribe Banu Qurayza – [Part 1]

Jewish Tribe Banu Qurayza – [Part 1]

Mohamad Mostafa Nassar


Click to read this, a lot more detailed: Re-Examining Banu Qurayzah Incident

The Banu Qurayza was a Jewish tribe which lived in Madinah and made a treaty with the Prophet Muhammad (p) that they will never assist enemies of the Prophet, 1400 years ago. This is exactly what the Qurayza did. Banu Qurayza broke treaties before and waged war against the Muslims, but out of mercy and kindness the Prophet let them stay in Madinah. Hence, when the Banu Qurayza broke the treaty the second time and sided with the enemy, the Prophet only killed those who violated and waged war against the Prophet (p).

Narrated Ibn `Umar: Bani An-Nadir and Bani Quraiza fought (against the Prophet violating their peace treaty), so the Prophet exiled Bani An-Nadir and allowed Bani Quraiza to remain at their places (in Medina) taking nothing from them till they fought against the Prophet again.

He then killed their men and distributed their women, children and property among the Muslims, but some of them came to the Prophet and he granted them safety, and they embraced Islam. He exiled all the Jews from Medina. They were the Jews of Bani Qainuqa’, the tribe of `Abdullah bin Salam and the Jews of Bani Haritha and all the other Jews of Medina. – (Sahih al-Bukhari Volume 5, Book 59, Hadith 362)

Another thing I would like to point out is that the Prophet (p) was not the one who ordered the men be executed – rather the judgement was left to Sa’d Ibn Mu’adh who the Jews (Banu Qurayza) chose to make judgement on their treachery. Hence, Sa’d judged according to the Old Testament ruling (Deuteronomy 20:10-14);

Narrated Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri: When the tribe of Bani Quraiza was ready to accept Sa`d’s judgement, Allah’s Messenger sent for Sa`d who was near to him. Sa`d came, riding a donkey and when he came near, Allah’s Messenger said (to the Ansar), “Stand up for your leader.”

Then Sa`d came and sat beside Allah’s Messenger who said to him. “These people are ready to accept your judgment.” Sa`d said, “I give the judgement that their warriors should be killed and their children and women should be taken as prisoners.” The Prophet then remarked, “O Sa`d! You have judged amongst them with (or similar to) the judgment of the King Allah.”- (Sahih al-Bukhari Volume 4, Book 52, Hadith 280)

Click to read this, a lot more detailed: Re-Examining Banu Qurayzah Incident

Scholar Cheragh Ali commenting:


The Bani Koreiza, a Jewish tribe living in the vicinity of Mecca, had entered into an alliance with the Moslem Commonwealth to defend the city of Medina from the attack of the aggressors. While Medina was besieged by the ten thousand Koreish and other Bedioun tribes in A. H. 6, they (the Koreiza), instead of co-operating with the Moslems,

defected from their allegiance and entered into negotiations with the besieging foe. After the cessation of the siege, they were besieged in their turn, and a fearful example was made of them, not by Mohammad, but by an arbiter chosen and appointed themselves.

The execution of some of them was not on account of their being prisoners of war; they were war-traitors and rebels, and deserved death according to the international law. Their crime was high treason against Medina while it was blockaded.

There had no actual fighting taken place between the Bani Koreiza and the Moslems, after the former the Bani Koreiza and the Moslems, after the former had thrown off their allegiance to the latter and had aided and abetted the enemies of the realm.

They were besieged by the Moslems to punish them for their high treason, and consequently they were not prisoners of war. Even such prisoners of war suffer for high treason. ‘Treating, in the field, the rebellions enemy according to the law and usages of war, has never prevented the legitimate Government from trying the leaders of the rebellion, or chief rebels for high treason, and from treating them accordingly, unless they are included in a general amnesty.’

The whole tribe of the Bani Koreiza was not executed, nor all the male prisoners were put to the sword. The number slain was comparatively very small. That they were not executed at the commands of Muhammad, nor all of them were killed, nor a divine sanction was alleged for it, is shown by the following verses of the Koran:

‘And he caused those of the people of the Book (the Jews) who had aided the confederates to come down of their fortresses, and cast dismay into their hearts: some ye slew; others ye took prisoners.’ Sura, xxxiii, 26.

The slaying and taking of prisoners is attributed to them to whom the verse is addressed as their own act. The rest of the Bani Koreiza,-male adults, women, and children,- were either liberated or got themselves ransomed. We read in Oyoon-al-Asar by Ibn Sayyad-al-Nas some account of the ransom. Osman-bin-Affan gathered much money by the transaction.

The number of male adults executed has been much exaggerated, though it is immaterial, when an execution, though it is immaterial, when an execution duly authorized by the international law of a country takes place, to consider the smallness or greatness of the number. I cannot do better than quote Moulvi Ameer Ali of Calcutta on the subject, who has very judiciously criticised the same:

‘Passing now to the men executed,’ he says, ‘one can at once see how it has been exaggerated. Some say they were 400; others have carried the number even up to 900. But Christan historians generally give it as varying from 700 to 800. I look upon this as a gross exaggeration.

Even 400 would seen an exaggerated number. The traditions agree in making the warlike materials of the Bani Koreiza consist of 300 cuirasses, 500 bucklers, 1,500 sabres, &c. In order to magnify the value of the spoil, the traditions probably exaggerated these numbers.

But taking them as they stand, and remembering that such arms are always kept greatly in excess of the number of fighting men, I am led to that the warriors could not have been more than 200 or 300. The mistake probably arose from confounding the whole body of prisoners who fell into the hands of the Moslems with those executed.’

Even 200 seems to be a large number, as all of the prisoners were up for the night in the house of Bint-al-Haris, which would have been insufficient for such a large number. [1]


[1] A Critical Exposition of the Popular Jihad (Original 1885) – Cheragh Ali, page 87

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