the war of words between muhammad and the jews
a war of words between muhammad and the jews, which proved to be greater and more sinister than that which raged between muhammad arid quraysh, followed ibn salam's conversion. unlike the hostility with quraysh, the new war in yathrib witnessed the connivance of treason, deception, and scriptural knowledge for the attack against muhammad, his message, and his companions, whether muhajirun or ansar. the jews sent some of their rabbis to feign conversion to islam in order to enter muslim ranks and councils. while showing all piety, these rabbis were commissioned to disseminate doubt and suspicion of muhammad among his own people. they asked muhammad questions which they thought might shake the muslims' conviction and arouse doubt in the message muhammad was teaching. a number of hypocrites from al aws and al khazraj tribes joined islam for the same purpose. both jews and unbelievers, however, reached such levels of deception that they denied either torah or god in order to ask muhammad, "if god created creation, who then created god?" muhammad used to answer them with the divine verses: "say, `god is one, the eternal. he was not born, nor did he give birth to anyone. none is like unto him.'[qur'an, 112:1-3]. the muslims soon detected their purpose and uncovered their attempts. when some of them plotting in secrecy in one of the mosque's corners were discovered one day by the muslims, muhammad had to command that they be expelled from the mosque. however, their efforts to split muslim ranks continued. a jewish leader called shas ibn qays passed one day by a group of al aws and al khazraj tribesmen enjoying one another's company in good harmony. he remembered how they were once divided and warring against each other, and thought that should the banu qaylah[le., al aws and al khazraj.] remain united in this territory the jews would not be able to live in peace for long. he therefore instructed a young jew who frequented their sessions to seek an opportunity to arouse memories of the day of bu'ath when al aws vanquished al khazraj. the youth did speak and recalled the memory of that war and succeeded in arousing the old pride and hatred of the two tribes, convincing some that a return to that dies nefastus was possible as well as desirable. when muhammad learned of this, he hurried with his companions and reminded the divisive elements how islam had sweetened their hearts and made of them mutually loving brethren. muhammad continued to talk to them, emphasizing their islamic unity and brotherhood until their tears ran down in emotion and they embraced one another.
the war of words between muhammad and the jews increased in intensity. the evidence therefore is what the qur'an has to say about it. the first eighty-one verses of surah "al nisa'," mention the people of the book, their denial of their own scripture, and condemns their unbelief and denial in strong terms
"verily, we revealed to moses the scripture and called after him messengers to follow in his footsteps. to jesus, son of mary, we gave manifest signs and we strengthened him with the spirit of holiness. `will you then, o jews, every time a prophet comes to you with what you yourselves do not like take to false pride and arrogantly belie some and kill others?' they rationalize and seek to excuse themselves by admitting to dimness of vision. god, however, curses them for their disbelief. little are they convinced of the truth! and when the book which came from god and which confirmed their own scripture was brought to them and invoked for their benefit they denied it. hitherto they were boasting of such revelation and deriding the unbelievers for never receiving any. now that the same truth which they had known beforehand has come to the believers from god they reject it. god's wrath will surely fall upon the unbelievers.”[qur'an, 2:87-89]