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The Fate of the Jews of Khaybar

The Fate of the Jews of Khaybar

The Fate of the Jews of Khaybar

Upon their surrender, the Jews of Khaybar asked the Holy Prophet to permit them to stay on their lands for cultivation. He agreed on condition that they should yield half of their yearly produce to the Islamic government[1] and that they should leave when the Holy Prophet wished so.[2] This treaty was in effect until the reign of `Umar when they took part in some conspiracies against Muslims. For this reason, `Umar banished them to Damascus.[3]


After the fall of Khaybar, the Jews of Fadak surrendered with no resistance and entered into a treaty with the Holy Prophet like the one with Khaybar. Since Fadak was captured with no fight, half of its revenue went to the Holy Prophet.[4]

Chapter Two
The spread of Islam

The war of Mu’tah

After the °udaybiyah Truce, the Holy Prophet started his universal mission and invited the heads of governments of the world to his faith. Among the countries of those days, the Roman Empire and the Iranian Empire enjoyed high standards of living. Having acquired some information regarding the Prophet’s mission, Caesar of Rome had the will to accept Islam; but when he revealed his intentions, he was resisted by the Christians and the Roman army; therefore, he had to withdraw his decision.[5] This shows that the commanders of the Roman army had a hostile attitude towards Islam. We could find the root of the Mu’tah war with this view.

In order to spread his faith outside the Arabian Peninsula, the Holy Prophet dispatched °¡rith Ibn `Umayr al-Azd¢ to carry a letter to the King of Bu¥r¡ (Damascus).[6] That was in Jum¡d¡ al-¬l¡, the eighth year of Hegira.

Shura¦b¢l ibn `Amr al-Ghass¡n¢, the governor of Damascus appointed by the Roman emperor,[7] arrested the Holy Prophet’s courier and, having known the nature of his mission, killed him at the village of Mu’tah. This event saddened the Holy Prophet greatly.[8]

Although the murder of one person could not be considered good reason to start war, the murder of the Holy Prophet’s representative, which was against ethical codes, was in fact a sort of military threat on the part of the governor of Damascus vis-à-vis the peaceful invitation to the Holy Prophet’s faith. He therefore decided to send a troop over there. This movement could be interpreted as a sign of military power.

Based on these facts, the Holy Prophet dispatched to Mu’tah an army of three thousand troops under the commandership of Ja`far ibn Ab¢-±¡lib,[9] Zayd ibn °¡rithah and `Abdull¡h ibn Raw¡¦ah respectively.[10]

The Islamic troops faced the one hundred thousand troops of Rome near the village of Mu’tah. The three Muslim commanders bore the banner in turn and they all were martyred. Then, the Muslim troops elected Kh¡lid ibn Wal¢d as the commander-in-chief. Using special tactics, he frightened the enemy and then issued the command to retreat to Medina.[11]

Al-W¡qidi records that the martyrs of this war were eight[12] but Ibn Hush¡m records them as twelve.[13] In some contemporary records, it is written that they were seventeen.[14] The tombs of these martyrs rest next to the city of Mu’tah;[15] each one of the commanders has a magnificent shrine with a dome. Next to the tomb of Ja`far, there is built a handsome mosque.[16]

[1] al-W¡qid¢, al-Magh¡z¢ 2:690; Y¡q£t al-°amaw¢, Mu`jam al-Buld¡n 2:410.

[2] Ibn Hush¡m, al-S¢rah al-Nabawiyyah 3:352.

[3] Y¡q£t al-°amaw¢, op cit, pp. 410; al-Bul¡dhar¢, Fut£¦ al-Buld¡n, pp. 36-37.

[4] al-Bul¡dhar¢, op cit, pp. 42; Ibn Hush¡m 2:352; Ibn al-Ath¢r, al-K¡mil f¢’l-T¡r¢kh 2:224; al-W¡qid¢, op cit, 2:707; Y¡q£t al-°amaw¢, op cit, 4:236; Q¡sim ibn Sall¡m, al-Amw¡l, pp. 16.

[5] Zayn¢ Da¦l¡n, al-S¢rah al-Nabawiyyah 2:170-171; °alab¢, al-S¢rah al-°alabiyyah 3:289-290.

[6] °alab¢ writes: “The Holy Prophet sent a letter to Hercules, the Roman emperor, who resided in Damascus at that time.” See al-S¢rah al-°alabiyyah 2:786.

[7] °alab¢, op cit, 2:786.

[8] al-W¡qid¢, al-Magh¡z¢ 2:755; Ibn Sa`d, Al-±abaq¡t al-Kubr¡ 2:128.

[9] Ja`far ibn Ab¢-±¡lib, having lived in Abyssinia for several years, returned to Medina in the seventh year of Hegira. After the conquest of Khaybar, he met the Holy Prophet there. The Holy Prophet was so delighted with Ja`far’s return that he said, “I do not know which news is more delightful; Ja`far’s return or the conquest of Khaybar!” See al-°¡kim al-Nays¡b£r¢’s al-Mustadrak `Al¡’l-¯a¦¢¦ayn 2:624. For further information, refer to Ibn Sa`d, al-±abaq¡t al-Kubr¡ 4:35, Ibn al-Ath¢r, Usd al-Gh¡bah 1:287; Ibn `Abd al-Barr, al-Is¢`¡b 1:210; Ab£’l-Faraj al-I¥fah¡n¢, Maq¡til al-±¡libiyy¢n, pp. 30; Ibn Kath¢r: al-Bid¡yah wa’l-Nih¡yah 4:206.

[10] ±abris¢, I`l¡m al-War¡, pp. 107. Although some reports state that Zayd had taken the commandership of the Muslim army during that battle before Ja`far, some Sh¢`ite narrations (according to ±abars¢) show that Ja`far was the first commander, as is confirmed by some details of the event. See Sub¦¡n¢, Fur£gh Abadiyyat 2:291-293. A narration reported by Ibn Sa`d deals with this issue. (Al-±abaq¡t al-Kubr¡ 2:130). For further information, refer to Ja`far Murta¤¡’s Dir¡s¡t wa-Bu¦£th f¢’l-T¡r¢kh wa’l-Isl¡m 1:210 and the following pages.

[11] Ibn Hush¡m, al-S¢rah al-Nabawiyyah 4:19-21; ±abar¢, T¡r¢kh al-Umam wa’l-Mul£k 3:107-110; al-W¡qid¢, op cit, 2:755-769; Ibn Sa`d, op cit, 2:128-130; °alab¢, op cit, 2:787-793; ±abars¢, I`l¡m al-War¡ pp. 102-104; Zayn¢ Da¦l¡n, op cit, 2:68-72; al-Majlis¢, Bi¦¡r al-Anw¡r 21:50-63; ±£s¢, al-Am¡l¢, pp. 141.

[12] al-Magh¡z¢ 2:769.

[13] Al-S¢rah al-Nabawiyyah 4:30.

[14] Mu¦ammad Ibr¡h¢m ªyat¢, the History of the Prophet of Islam, pp. 501.

[15] This city is situated in Jordan, in the southern province of Karak, which is 135 Kilometers away from the capital Amman.

[16] Ja`far Sub¦¡n¢, A report of a journey made to Jordan (Mu'tah, the land of Memories), Lessons from the School of Islam Magazine, year 38, Issue No. 7, Mehr 1377 ASH.

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