Battle of Banu Quraydha
On his return from the Battle of the Trench, as the Prophet prepared to take a bath in the apartment of Umm Salamah, Jibreel came to him. He informed the Prophet that he and other angels were being sent to terrify Banu Quraydha and inflict havoc on their fortresses.
As it happened, even before the Muslim forces got there, Allah cast terror into the hearts of Banu Quraydha. They shut themselves in their castles, too terrified to confront the Muslim warriors who arrived to lay siege. The Jews sent word to the Prophet that they wished to consult with Abu Lubaba, who was then sent there as chief negotiator. Seeing him approach, the men rushed toward him while their women and children began to weep bitterly. Their tears and lamentation moved Abu Lubaba deeply. They said to him, “Do you think it desirable that we submit to Muhammad?”
“Yes,” replied Abu Lubaba, and then he pointed to his throat indicating that all of them would be put to death. Instantly it occurred to him that he had betrayed Allah and His Messenger by giving the enemy information through his gesture. He hastened back, went straight to the Prophet’s mosque and tied himself to one of the pillars, vowing that the Prophet alone would unfasten him. When the Prophet heard what Abu Lubaba had done, he remarked, “Had he come to me I would have invoked Allah’s forgiveness upon him. Since he has imprisoned himself of his own voilition, I will leave him in the same state until Allah decides his fate.”
The long seige disheartened Banu Quraydha. Twenty-five days passed, and they finally surrendered to the Prophet . He imprisoned the men and kept the women separate. The people of Aus asked him to show mercy to their old allies just as he had done with Banu Qaynuqa.
Wisely, the Prophet avoided putting himself in the position of sole arbiter of the captives’ fates. He asked the people of Aus, “Would you let an arbitrator from amongst you decide?” They nodded, and to their pleasure the Prophet appointed their chief, Sa’d bin Mu’adh, judge.
The wound Sa’d had received in the Battle of the Trench had left him confined to Madinah. He was summoned to the Muslim camp, and as he rode up, the Prophet said to the people, “Rise up to help him.” Obediently the people rose and advanced to help Sa’d. They milled around him clamouring, “Sa’d, treat your allies kindly.” Sa’d did not reply. When the people grew insistent with their plea’s, he said, “This is the time when Sa’d cares least about the reproaches of those who reproach Allah Almighty.”
Sa’d’s words were an emphatic rejection of the people’s requests. They knew then that no ieniency was to be expected, and some people returned to Madinah and announced the demise of the captives.
When Sa’d dismounted, and he was told that Banu Quraydha had declared their willingness to accept his verdict, he pronounced his judgment – the men were to be killed, the women and children to be taken captive, and the property to be divided among the Muslim community.
The Propeht remarked, “The judgment you have passed on them was passed by Allah Almighty in the seven heavens. This judgment is also in accordance with the law of the Jews; in fact, it shows more compassion than is found in Jewish law.”
Following Sa’d’s decision, Banu Quraydha were brought to Madinah. They were confined in the house of a woman of Banu Najjar – the daughter of Harith. Pits were dug in the marketplace of Madinah, and the prisoners were brought in groups and beheaded in these pits. Some sources put their number at 400, while others place it between 600 and 700. Only one woman was put to death. She had thrown a hand mill at Khalaad bin Suwayd and killed him.
Along with them, Huyayy bin Akhtab, the chieftain of Banu Nadir was also killed. He was one of those twenty chieftains of the Jews who had orchestrated the alliance between the Quraysh and Banu Ghatfan. It was he who had swayed Banu Quraydha to break their pact with the Muslims, pledging them his support and saying he was ready to share their fate. He remained with them during the seige and their subsequent surrender, and was finally put to death with them.
Some individuals of Banu Quraydha had embraced Islam before the surrender and escaped punishment. The booty amounted to 1500 swords, 300 coats of mail, 2000 lances, 500 shields, and a large number of goods, vessels, and livestock. The Prophet then kept one-fifth of the date palms and the captives, and he divided the rest of the booty among the soldiers – the foot soldiers got one part, and the cavaliers received three parts of the whole – one portion for the soldier and two for his horse.
The prisoners were sent to Najd and arms bought in lieu of them. However, the Prophet chose Rayhana bint Zayd bin Amr bin Khanafah for himself. It is said that he married her after setting her free. She died after the Prophet’s Farewell Hajj.
Whe the Muslims did away with Banu Quraydha, the prayer of Sa’d bin Mu’adh, the righteous servant of Allah, was answered. He lay in a tent by the Prophet’s mosque so that the Prophet could visit him and enquire after his health. One day, a she-goat leaped on him and caused his injury to bleed again. Sa’d succumbed to his injury. It is said that angels lifted his coffin. Abu Lubaba, who had imprisoned himself in the Prophet’s mosque for his hint to Banu Quraydha about their fate, had spent six nights tied to a pillar. His wife would unfasten him at prayer time, and afterwards he would again tie himself to the pillar. Then a verse regarding Abu Lubaba was revealed to the Prophet while he was at Umm Salamah’s house. Allah revealed He had forgiven Abu Lubaba. People rushed to Abu Lubaba with the good news and tried to untie him, but he reused to be unbound saying that none but the Prophet would do it. The Prophet unfastened him when he came out to offer Fajr prayer and events came to a close.
After the Battle of Banu Quraydha, the Prophet led a number of expeditions to consolidate the peace he had won. Some of his important military excursions are described in the following section.