In this article, I will discuss the genocide of Bani Qurayza and the consequent moral implications.
Bani Qurayza was a Jewish tribe living in Yathrib, before Muhammad renamed it Medina. After Muhammad migrated to there, many of its Pagan inhabitants accepted Islam, but not the Jews. They thought he was an imposter, not a true prophet. So they rejected his message. Over religious disagreements and the Jews refusal to embrace Islam started hostilities between Muhammad’s Muslim gang and the Jews of Medina.
There were three larger Jewish tribes in Medina: Bani Qaynuqa, Bani Al-Nadir, and Bani Qurayza. As Muhammad grew strong in Medina, and he realized that the Jews are not going to accept him as a prophet, his Qur’anic verses started becoming increasingly hostile towards people of the book (the Jews and the Christians). He also changed the Muslim prayer direction (called “Qibla” in Islam) from Jerusalem to Mecca. In any case, Muhammad got rid of the first two Jewish tribes that I just mentioned by driving them out after failing to genocide them due to opposition from intervention of Abdullah ibn Obay, a powerful Muslim leader of Medinan origin. What was left is Bani Qurayza. Those tribes were rich. Muhammad and his followers’ economic status much improved from forcing the first two tribes out of Medina, and robbing them of a great part of their possessions. Now, the stage was set for him, to get rid of the last rich tribe. If he can get rid of them and obtain all of what they have, the Muslim Umma will definitely be richer and stronger.
The Meccans had had enough from Muhammad and his gang of thieves raiding their commercial caravans, and came out to Medina to finish up Muhammad and his robbing gang. The Meccans laid siege upon the community of Muhammad for a few weeks. As Muslims had dug deep trench around their abode, Meccans eventually had to leave with no luck. This came to be known as the Battle of the Trench (Al-Khandaq, AD 627). During that time period word came to Muhammad that the Meccans were seeking help of Banu Qurayza against the Muslims, and they were planning to support the Meccans. While a negotiation apparently did take place, Banu Qurayza refused to help the Meccans. Banu Qurayza leaders stayed true to their promises and agreement with Muhammad not to help his enemies.
In any case, this is one area of Arab history, where I wish there were people living in Mecca and Medina who documented such incidents and were neutral, or even anti-Muslim with regard to religious beliefs. The problem is that all we know about early Islam came to us from Islam-friendly sources. Imagine! All those horror stories we know about the early Muslims came to us from Muslim-friendly sources. Those who refused Islam got killed, no questions asked. Saying negative things about Islam was no simple matter. Muhammad ordered the assassination of a hundred plus years old man just because he said some “not very nice things” about Muhammad. And when a mother of five heard of that and said some “negative” things about Muhammad, he ordered her assassination too. The assassin had to move away her nursing baby from her chest to be able to kill her. When you are talking about Muhammad and his thugs, you’ll be amazed at what that evil man can do. It is important for us to remember that even if the Qurayza tribe conspired against him, they never attacked or harmed any of the Muslims. Again, I wish that we had more historical details about what exactly happened, but we don’t. If one is to rely on only Muslim-friendly sources, she probably won’t get the full story.
In any case, moving back to our story: When the Meccans left, Muhammad went home and started taking a bath during just when a divine revelation came telling him to attack Bani Qurayza and get rid of them, and take all of their belongings:
Bukhari: Volume 4, Book 52, Number 68:
Narrated ‘Aisha: When Allah’s Apostle returned on the day (of the battle) of Al-Khandaq (i.e. Trench), he put down his arms and took a bath. Then Gabriel whose head was covered with dust, came to him saying, “You have put down your arms! By Allah, I have not put down my arms yet.” Allah’s Apostle said, “Where (to go now)?” Gabriel said, “This way,” pointing towards the tribe of Bani Quraiza. So Allah’s Apostle went out towards them.
Muhammad Attacks Bani Qurayza
With around 3000 worriers, and the Meccans out of sight, no wonder Allah tells him to go unprovoked and take over the fortunes of Bani Qurayza. Who is there to stop him? Muhammad laid siege to Bani Qurayza for twenty five days, after which they surrendered unconditionally. They did not offer any resistance. Before they surrendered, they asked Abu Lubabah, who was doing the negotiations between them and Muhammad, since he was on friendly terms with them from previous dealings, if they should submit to Muhammad’s judgement. Abu Lubabah said yes, and gestured with his hand to his throat, telling them that Muhammad is adamant on finishing them up. Such a gesture could only mean one thing: beheading. Afterwards, Abu Lubabah felt bad that he had betrayed Muhammad, but again, he had some passion to his old Jewish friends. In history, the gesture is not disputed. What is in disputed is why Abu Lubabah felt that he betrayed Muhammad. I think the answer is simple: Abu Lubabah knew what the murderer prophet was up to.
Bani Qurayza probably felt they had no option but to surrender. Muhammad’s criminals were three thousand strong. The mighty Meccans could not take care of him and his cronies, would one tribe in Medina be able to do it on its own? Surely not. So, instead of dying fighting Muhammad, they chose to surrender in the hopes that Muhammad will take their belongings and allow them to leave town, as he did with the previous tribes. However, this was not to be. Muhammad had become blood thirsty more and more as time passed by.
After the surrender of Bani Quaryza, Muhammad chose Sa’d, a Muslim, to declare the judgment against Bani Qurayza. References from different books and hadiths show that Muhammad was adamant on killing them. But other Muslim leaders, who had good past relationship with Bani Qurayza, forced him to choose someone else to declare a judgement against them. Muhammad didn’t not allow them to choose another person, whom they wanted to judge the verdict. He (Muhammad) named Sa’d and ended the discussion. Sa’d was a born killer with very strong loyalty to Muhammad. He was also badly wounded in the Battle of the Trench, from which he soon died. So, he was not going to be sympathetic to Bani Qurayza, who rejected the prophet. He would kill you or me in an instant if Muhammad just says the word. Such was Sa’d Bin Mu’ad. My suspicion is that he also knew what Muhammad desired to do with Bani Qurayza. He was very close to Muhammad. In fact history tells us that the prophet put up a tent in the mosque for Sa’d so he could personally take care of him and his (Sa’d’s) wound. As one would expect, Sa’d’s judgment was what Muhammad wanted:
Bukhari: Volume 4, Book 52, Number 280:
Narrated Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri:
When the tribe of Bani Quraiza was ready to accept Sad’s judgment, Allah’s Apostle sent for Sad who was near to him. Sad came, riding a donkey and when he came near, Allah’s Apostle said (to the Ansar), “Stand up for your leader.” Then Sad came and sat beside Allah’s Apostle who said to him. “These people are ready to accept your judgment.” Sad said, “I give the judgment that their warriors should be killed and their children and women should be taken as prisoners.” The Prophet then remarked, “O Sad! You have judged amongst them with (or similar to) the judgment of the King Allah.”
It is interesting to note, here, that Sa’d’s judgment is Allah’s (god of the Arabs). The fact of the matter is that whatever Muhammad wanted, became Allah’s and vice versa. So, the divine judgment has come and the crimes are almost as good as done. Here is how Muhammad accomplished his evil genocide on Bani Qurayza’s men. History tells us their numbers were between 600 and 900 men:
During the night, trenches sufficient to contain the dead bodies of the men were dug across the market place of the city. In the morning, Mahomet, himself a spectator of the tragedy, commanded that male captives to be brought forth in companies of five or six at a time. Each company as it came up was made to sit down in a row on the brink of the trench destined for its grave, there beheaded, and the bodies cast therein. … The butchery, begun in the morning, lasted all day, and continued by torchlight till the evening. Having thus drenched the market place with the blood of seven or eight hundred victims, and having given command for the earth to be smoothed over their remains, Mahomet returned from the horrid spectacle to solace himself with the charms of Rihana, whose husband and all her male relatives had just perished in the massacre. [Source: W. Muir, The Life of Muhammad, (Edinburg 1923, Pages 307-8)].
As one of the Bani Qurayza woman sees the spectacle taking place in the today’s medina market, she becomes hysterical and delirious. Muhammad’s thugs take care of her the best way they know how:
Abu Dawud: Book 14, Number 2665:
Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin:
No woman of Banu Qurayzah was killed except one. She was with me, talking and laughing on her back and belly (extremely), while the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) was killing her people with the swords. Suddenly a man called her name: Where is so-and-so? She said: I I asked: What is the matter with you? She said: I did a new act. She said: The man took her and beheaded her. She said: I will not forget that she was laughing extremely although she knew that she would be killed.
Such are the acts of the prophet of Islam and his Sahaba. Those are the people who are supposed to be an example of conduct for mankind!
The genocide of Bani Qurayza was for the men. Any male who had grown pubic hair was killed. The rest of the tribe were enslaved. The tribes’ belongings went to Muhammad and the rest of the criminals. Muhammad’s economic situation improved tremendously after this massive act of evil:
Bukhari: Volume 4, Book 53, Number 357:
Narrated Anas bin Malik:
People used to give some of their date palms to the Prophet (as a gift), till he conquered Bani Quraiza and Bani An-Nadir, whereupon he started returning their favors.
Can there be a sufficient apologetic defense to this massacre?
Islam has its apologetics. If Muhammad’s crime is assassinating a woman, or an old man, they can create a scenario to make it plausible that Muhammad may have been justified in what he did. I studied many of Muhammad’s assassinations and published many articles about that. There is a lot of Muslim apologetics on the web who try to defend Muhammad and the early Muslims. None, in my view, made a successful defense of Muhammad and Islam.
Bani Qurayza genocide was done on a massive scale. So, the Muslim apologetic cannot, in principle cannot, defend Muhammad and the early Muslims. You see, we are not talking about one person here. Let’s say the Qurayza men who were beheaded were 700 men. That is 700 hundred crimes committed by Muhammad. Seven hundred purposeful killings. Can any decent human being see that a defense of Muhammad’s crimes in this instance even remotely plausible. Muslim apologetics really have no shame. You can find their writings on the web defending Muhammad and the early Muslims on the Bani Qurayza story too.
There are actually Multiple crimes committed in this story. There are seven hundred plus killings. There is the beheading of the Qurayza woman crime. There is the crimes of taking the belongings of Bani Qurayza. Authentic Hadith tell us that Muhammad sent a group of Qurayza women to Yemen. They were sold in order that the Muslims buy weapons. So, there is the crimes of putting all those women into slavery.
There are many crimes committed here. Muslim apologetic do not have a shame when they try to defend Muhammad in the Qurayza events. There is really no sufficient defense. I am not saying that to condemn Muhammad and the Muslims and not allow the Muslim apologetics to have their say. Its not like that at all. How can anyone justify seven hundred plus homicides? A favorite of Muslims apologetics is that some of the Qurayza leaders conspired against Muhammad during the battle of the trench. This matter is not clear at all in the historical sources. But, let us for a moment say that some of the Qurayza leaders did conspire against Muhammad. Is that a sufficient reason to annihilate the whole tribe? There were kids who were twelve or thirteen years old who got beheaded that day just because they had grown some pubic hair. How can any decent human being defend the Muslims and Muhammad when it comes to beheading such young lads who do not yet understand the nature of life to start with?
It is not enough for the Muslim apologetic to say that Bani Qurayza were guilty, or that they were judged by their Torah. Here we have a large number of people beheaded in one day. The problem is most of them, if not all, are innocent. Completely innocent! There is, in principle, no justification, for what Muhammad and his thugs did. This is why I affirm in this article, that Muslim apologetics have no shame in defending Muhammad and the Muslims when it comes to the genocide of Bani Qurayza.
A Look Toward The Future
Muhammad and the Muslims took over the Arabian peninsula and spread beyond. So, Bani Qurayza victims have not been vindicated or honored in any way. I plan to write about Bani Qurayza every now and then just to honor them and remind myself and others of them. Humanity needs to remember them too. Humanity needs to honor them. Saudi Arabia is still ruled by Islam; a sixth century barbaric religion. However, I look to a day when Saudi Arabia comes to realize how evil Islam is and was. I look to a day when a large shrine is built in the Medina market where Bani Qurayza men were killed. In that shrine, there will be lists of names of those who perished that day, and some of their stories and poetry that was preserved. People from all over the globe will go there just to visit that shrine, pay tribute and respect and honor those victims and say: Never again we will allow a thug and his bandits to do such an evil act against a group of people as was done to Bani Qurayza.