the jews' spiritual influences
besides this competition for power and dominion, there is a sphere in which the jews exerted greater influence upon al aws and al khazraj than they had over any other tribe of arabia. that is the realm of the spirit. as adherents of a monotheistic faith, the jews had been castigating their idolatrous neighbors for worshipping at the feet of idols which they took to be intercessors for them with god. the jews had been threatening them with the prediction that soon a prophet would arise among the arabs who would destroy them and ally himself to the jews. nonetheless, they did not succeed in judaizing the arabs for two reasons: the first was that perpetual enmity between christianity and judaism did not allow the jews to entertain any hope of political dominion in yathrib. to realize for themselves a measure of security and prosperity through trade was the highest desideratum to which they would aspire. the second was that the jews had thought of themselves as god's chosen people and objected that any other people might share with them such favored position. they do not missionarize their faith, for they do not wish for it to include other than their own people, the children of israel. this notwithstanding, neighborliness and trade between arab and jew enabled al aws and al khazraj to become more familiar with and more prepared for spiritual and religious discussion than other tribes. the evidence of this preparation is in the fact that nowhere had the arabs responded to muhammad's spiritual call with the same understanding and enthusiasm.
suwayd ibn al samit
suwayd ibn al samit was one of the noblest men of yathrib. his people called him "the perfect" for his bravery, his eloquent poetry, his great honor, and his noble lineage. during this period suwayd, who came to makkah for pilgrimage, was approached by muhammad, who called him unto god and islam. suwayd said, "perhaps what you have, muhammad, is like that which i have." muhammad answered, "what is it that you have?" he answered, "the wisdom of luqman." muhammad asked him to explain this wisdom, and after hearing him, he said: "your words are good, but those which i have are even better. for they are a qur'an revealed by god to me as light and guidance." he read to him the qur'an and called him to islam. suwayd was pleased with what he heard, and said: "that is indeed good." when he left muhammad, he was in deep thought; there are reports that when al khazraj killed him he had already become a muslim.
iyas ibn mu'adh
suwayd ibn al samit was not the only example of the spiritual influence of the jews upon the arabs of yathrib. the jews had not only instigated the enmity of al aws for al khazraj and vice versa, but fanned its flames as well. this enmity caused each of the two hostile tribes to seek alliances with other tribes to consolidate its power. it was in search of an alliance from the quraysh against al khazraj that abu al haysar anas ibn rafi` came to makkah with a number of men from banu `abd al ashhal, including iyas ibn mu'adh. after muhammad heard of their arrival, he visited with them for a while, calling them unto islam and reading to them the qur'an. when he finished, iyas ibn mu'adh, still young and of tender age, rose and said:"0 my people, this is by god far better than your religion." the delegation returned to yathrib with one convert to islam, namely iyas. apparently, they were too busy to listen attentively to muhammad's preaching and too preoccupied with their war preparations. upon the return of abu al haysar and his delegation from makkah, al aws engaged them in the war of bu'ath where both parties suffered grave losses. nonetheless, the words of muhammad-may god's peace be upon him-left such a deep impression upon them that both al aws and al khazra. carte to see in muhammad a prophet, a messenger of god, and a worthy spiritual leader.