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The Battle of Khaybar


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“If I bear witness as you say,” inquired the slave, “and have faith in God, what shall I get in return?”

The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) replied, “If you die with faith, you will enter paradise.”

The slave accepted Islam and then asked the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam). “What should I do with this flock? I hold it in trust.”

The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) told him to abandon the goats in the field near the fort and God would cause them to reach their owner. The man did as he had been told and true enough, the goats found their way back to their master. The Jew also came to know that his slave has gone over to the fold of the Muslims.

Before the encounter started between the Muslims and the Jews, the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) urged his men to fight for the sake of God. The slave also advanced with the Muslims and was killed in the battlefield. When the Muslims brought his dead body, the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) tried to look at him and turning to his companions, he said, “Allah blessed this man and brought him to Khaybar. I saw him for two hours doing that as I was standing by his side although he never prostrated to God.” (Zad al-Ma’ad, Vol. I, p. 393.)


A bedouin came to the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) and after accepting Islam expressed his wish to accompany him in the expedition. The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) asked some of his companions to take care of him and settle his needs. When the Muslims captured one of the forts and won a large booty, the man had taken out a herd of cattle for grazing. The spoils were distributed among the combatants apportioning the Bedouin also of his share. When he was given his part, he took it to the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) and asked, “What is this?” The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) explained that it was his share of the booty of war, but he said, “I didn’t come to you for it.” Then pointing to his throat he continued, “I followed you hoping that I would be hit by an arrow, entitling me of Paradise.” The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) replied, “If you desire it so, God will do likewise.”

Then, in a subsequent battle at Khaybar the Bedouin was among those killed in the encounter. The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) asked, “Is it the same man?” When the companions replied in the affirmative, the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) remarked, “He was true to God and God made his wish come true.” The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) shrouded his corpse with his own mantle and recited the funeral service for him. Thereafter, he said, “O Allah, thy servant had come to migrate in Thy way and was killed for Thy sake. I bear witness to it.” (Zad al-Ma’ad, Vol. I, p. 394)

The people of Khaybar were beleaguered in their forts which began to fall one by one. The Jews, unable to stand the siege any longer, asked for a peace pact. The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) wanted to displace the Jews from Khaybar, but they bargained if they could be allowed to live in their homes and to cultivate the fields. They pleaded that they were better farmers and knew more about it than others. The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) did not want his companions to till the soil since it would have required them to settle there and lay themselves out in farming. Therefore, he allowed the Jews to retain their farmhouses on the condition that the Muslims would get half of the produce of their fields and groves. Another condition imposed was that the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) could unilaterally abolish the agreement. (Zad al-Ma’ad, Vol. pp. 394-95. For details see Sinan Abu Dawud)

The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) delegated the production sharing to ‘Abdallah b. Rawaha who used to divide the produce into two equal parts, and then ask the Jews to choose one of them. The Jews often remarked on his even-handed justice: “This is on which stand the heavens and the earth.” (Balahuri: Futuh-ul-Buldan, Leiden, 1886, p. 34)


The booty collected by the Muslims in the battle of Khaybar included not a few copies of the Jewish scripture. The Jews requested the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) for their retrieval to which the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) acceded and ordered that they should be given back to them. (Tarikh al-Khamis, Vol. II, p. 60)

A Jewish scholar, Dr. Israel Welphenson, reviewing the conquest of Khaybar, refers to the magnanimous treatment of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) towards the Jews in these words:

“The event shows what a high regard the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) had for their scriptures. His tolerant and considerate behavior impressed the Jews who could never forget that the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) did nothing to degrade their sacred scriptures. The Jews knew how the Romans had, when they captured Jerusalem in 70 B.C., burnt their scriptures and trampled them underfoot. The fanatic Christians persecuting the Jews in Spain had likewise consigned their scriptures to fire. This is the great difference we find between these conquerors and the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) of Islam.”(Al-Yahud fi Balad il’-‘Arab, p. 170)

ARRIVAL OF J’AFAR IBN ABI TALIB (radiallahu 'anhu)

J’afar b. Abi Talib, the cousin of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) and other emigrants returned from Abyssinia while the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) was still in Khaybar. The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) was so pleased to see him that he kissed the forehead of J’afar and said, “By God, I don’t know which gives me the greater pleasure – the conquest of Khaybar or the arrival of J’afar!” (Zad al-Ma’ad, Vol. p. 397)


It was during the Khaybar expedition that an attempt was made to poison the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam). Zaynab bint al-Harith, the wife of Salam b. Mishkam presented a roasted kid to the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam), having first inquired what part he preferred. Recognizing that the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) relished the shoulder, she put a lot of poison in it and offered it to him. The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) tasted a morsel of it but quickly threw it out realizing that it was poisoned.

The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) summoned the Jews and inquired from them, “Will you be truthful, if I ask something from you?” They said, “Yes”. The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) again asked them, “Did you poison the kid?” When they again replied in the affirmative, the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) queried what had made them to do that. They replied, “We thought that if you were a pretender, we would get rid of you but if you were really a Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam), the poison would be ineffective.” Zaynab bint Al-Harith was then produced before the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam). She confessed her guilt, saying, “I wanted to kill you.” The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) replied, “God would not allow you to gain power over me.” Some of the companions asked permission to punish the woman for her crime, but the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) forbade them. Zainab was set free, but when Bishr b. Al-Bara who had taken the roasted lamb with the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) died a painful death owing to such cause, Zaynab was slain. (Al-Bukhaari)


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