Political Unity in Madinah
jewish power in madinah was considerably reduced after the expulsion of banu qaynuqa', for most of the jews who called themselves madinese lived far from madinah, in khaybar and umm al qura. it was this political objective at which muhammad had aimed, and it reveals most clearly his political wisdom and foresight. it was the first of a number of political consequences of muhammad's strategy. nothing could be more harmful to the unity of a state than internal division. and if internal strife is inevitable, it is equally inevitable that one faction will finally establish its authority and dominion over all the others. some historians have criticized the conduct of the muslims toward the jews. they claim that the incident of the muslim woman at the jeweler's shop was relatively easy to settle as long as each party had already paid with the loss of one of its members. in answer to this claim, we may say that the victimization of the jew and the muslim did not efface the insult which the muslims suffered at the hands of the jews in the person of that woman. we may also argue that among the arabs, more than among any other people, such an insult produces far greater commotion and, according to custom, would have easily caused continual war between two tribes for many long years. examples of such incidents and the wars which followed them are legion in arab history. besides this consideration, however, there is yet a stronger one. the incident at the jeweler's shop was to the blockade of banu qaynuqa` and their expulsion from madinah as the murder of the austrian heir-apparent in serajevo in 1914 was to world war i, which enveloped the whole of europe. the incident was only the spark which inflamed muslims and jews and caused them to explode. the fact was that the presence of muslims, jews, associationists and munafiqun in one city with all their disparate ideals and customs made that city a political volcano replete with explosive power. the blockade of banu qaynuqa` and their expulsion were a prologue to the coming explosion.
the campaign of al sawiq
after the expulsion of banu qaynuqa`, the non-muslims of madinah naturally withdrew from public life and the city appeared peaceful and quiet. the peace lasted one whole month and would have lasted longer were it not for abu sufyan who, unable to bear the memory of makkan defeat at badr, resolved to venture again outside of makkah. he sought to reimpress the arabs of the peninsula with the notion that quraysh was still strong, dominant and capable of attack and war. he mobilized two hundred makkans (forty according to other versions) and led them out in secret in the direction of madinah. upon arrival in the vicinity of madinah, they attacked at night a locality called al `urayd. only one madinese and his client were in the locality at the time. they were killed and their house and orchard destroyed. abu sufyan thought his vow to attack muhammad had now been fulfilled, and he and his associates therefore left the scene quickly, fearing pursuit by the prophet or his men. the muslims did in fact pursue abu sufyan as far as qarqarat al kudr. in order to hasten their flight, abu sufyan and his party every now and then threw away some of their provisions of wheat and barley flour. while the muslims followed their trail, they picked up these provisions; they soon realized, however, that the makkans had escaped, and they decided to return home. by this raid abu sufyan had sought to console quraysh after its defeat at badr and to recapture its lost pride. in fact, his scheme turned against him and his flight in face of his pursuers brought further shame to quraysh. because of al sawiq (i.e., the flour), which the men of quraysh dropped on their path, this expedition was given the name "al sawiq campaign