Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Did Muhammad committed genocide towards the tribe of the Banu Qurayza; Part I

How to massacre 700-800 men by heavenly inspiration..

We will revise the topic "Banu Qurayza" massacre. There is plenty of literature available on this very topic, and there are no new “items” that will come up. However, this article will try to cover all arguments for and rebut them:

Hijra year 5 (627 AD): Almost
900 Jews of a Medinan tribe named Banu Qurayza were massacred by Muslims in a day. Muhammad was the main spectator of this massacre, genocide and total annihilation. Those escaped death were taken captives by Muslims and sold as slaves.

To begin with, I want to address the usual Muslim apologetics on the issue of Banu Qurayza massacre. First, the war of Khandaq (of the Trench) was never fought. Second, neither Muhammad nor his followers were accusing Banu Qurayza of treachery to besiege the tribe and eventually exterminate them.

Qur’an mentions the incident:
And He brought those of the People of the Scripture who supported them down from their strongholds, and cast panic into their hearts. Some ye slew and ye made captive some. [Q 33:26]

The people of the scripture mentioned are the Jews of Banu Qurayza. And reason given to slay them is they supported some Meccans who came to fight Muslims of Medina. We will start from this verse. This massacre has no parallels in history because it was perpetrated by a man who is claimed to be the prophet of God to the end of times for the entire humankind.

From the
Qura’n, it is clear that the alleged author mentions the incident after the occurrence. And it is Allah who accuses the Jews of supporting the Meccans. This is crucial. Muslims usually justify the massacre based on these verses as the tribe broke treaty and joined Meccans against Muslims. Since breaking treaty and fighting along with Meccans was a treacherous incident, Jews of Banu Qurayza deserved total annihilation. This is the argument we have been customarily hearing over and over again.

In fact, Allah's allegation is totally baseless because there was not a treachery from the part of Banu Qurayza that can justify total annihilation of the tribe. They were being victimized for the vicious incentives of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. This will be made clear as we move with the holy text of Muslims. So let us see in where the Qur’an starts to mention the battle of th Trench.

"O ye who believe Remember Allah's favor unto you when there came against you hosts and we sent against them a great wind and hosts ye could not see. And Allah is ever Seer of what ye do" [Q 33:9]

is reminding his pious believers of the favors he bestowed upon them, by sending a wind and thus saving the believers from destruction. God is speaking of an incident that has occurred. Besides this, the enemies are being turned away by God. Doubt remains whether the enemies were turned away after fighting a war or before it. Let’s go on with the very next verse:

"When they came upon you from above you and from below you, and when eyes grew wild and hearts reached to the throats, and ye were imagining vain thoughts concerning Allah."[Qur’an. 33:10]

Here, Allah reveals the state of Muslims; when they had to face a huge Meccan army. They (Muslims) started to doubt fighting a huge army will certainly be devastating to them. Ibn Kathir clarifies in his Tafsir:

Ibn Jarir said: "Some of those who were with the Messenger of Allah , had doubts and thought that the outcome would be against the believers, and that Allah would allow that to happen.'' [Tafsir Ibn Kathir]

Qur’anic verses in conjunction with the interpretation reveal that Muhammad and his army was not at all in any position to fight a war at Khandaq. Muhammad heard of the strength of Meccan army much earlier, so acting upon the advice of his companion Salman- the Persian, there were trenches dug all around to prevent hostile Meccans from entering Muslims territory. The battle gained the name "the war of Trench" due to this tactic of Muhammad. Meccans were a huge army consisting two tribes namely Quraish and Ghatafans. The very reason, Muhammad adopted an extremely defensive stance in this fighting proves the weakness of Muslim army and strength of their foes.

The "war of Khandaq" was in fact never fought! Meccans, though were a huge army which could have annihilated the entire host of Muslims at that time, had to halt at the trenches without finding an entry route. Their only chances of entering Muslims was through the route of Banu Qurayza  where Muhammad did not dig trenches, but ultimately the Meccans had to go back without finding a way to enter Medina. Allah had inflicted terror on the opposition sending winds and shaking their settlements, so that they had to withdraw. The very Qur’an confirms that the battle did not occur at all.

Now, what made Muhammad (who could salvage their lives and pride without fighting a war) turn towards Banu Qurayza right after Meccans left? We will always stick to the most authentic sources of Islam, in order for not being accused of making things up. First of all, let us see what happened soon after Meccans left without entering into a full-scale battle. We saw Allah himself attests he was the one who drove away Meccans and helped Muslims from otherwise an inevitable annihilation. Now see it in Ibn Kathir what happened afterwards:

Messenger of Allah returned to Al-Madinah in triumph and the people put down their weapons. While the Messenger of Allah was washing off the dust of battle in the house of Umm Salamah, may Allah be pleased with her, Jibril, upon him be peace, came to him wearing a turban of brocade, riding on a mule on which was a cloth of silk brocade. He said, "Have you put down your weapons, O Messenger of Allah'' He said, "Yes.'' He said, "But the angels have not put down their weapons. I have just now come back from pursuing the people.'' Then he said: "Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, commands you to get up and go to Banu Qurayza .'' According to another report, "What a fighter you are! Have you put down your weapons'' He said, "Yes.’’? He said, "But we have not put down our weapons yet, get up and go to these people.'' He said: "Where'' He said, "Banu Qurayza , for Allah has commanded me to shake them.'' So the Messenger of Allah got up immediately, and commanded the people to march towards Banu Qurayza , who were a few miles from Al-Madinah. [
Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 33:26-27; source]

This account of Ibn Kathir is authenticated by Sahih Hadiths: See it in Sahih Bukhari:

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 Banu Qurayza. So Allah's Apostle went out towards them. [Sahih Bukhari. Book: 52, Hadith: 68]

Evident from this account: Muhammad and his followers were relaxed and reclining after the withdrawal of Meccan troops. Campaign against Banu Qurayza  was not made an agenda for them until Gabriel slowed down with Allah's orders. Gabriel and Allah both are nothing more than Muhammad's altered egos. He used them conveniently for his purposes all the time whenever he felt in need of a divine intervention. Here too he brings Gabriel into the picture.

What does this tell us? It does reveal the fact Banu Qurayza  did not do anything atrocious to Muslims during the siege at Khandaq while Meccan army stranded at trenches. Sources say the siege lasted for almost a month, but at last Meccans departed without offering fight. It was not possible for them to fight because the dug trenches were a new tactic that they never expected from Muhammad's side. Still they waited to get a green signal from the Banu Qurayza  stronghold because that was the only route to enter. At last, losing all hopes of crossing and engaging in a full-scale war which would have resulted into wiping out of all Muslims, Meccans had to retreat. Enemy gone; it is time for Muslims to lay down arms and relax, but not for their supreme commander Muhammad. He felt it inadequate to regress without any gains. Whenever he fought a war prior to it, he and his followers emerged victorious and victory brought them booties in means of materials and human beings. This time, though they could not have engaged Meccans and come out victorious, still there is something lacking. Booties..! Meccan's resignation left them without any of such.

So, it is time for Gabriel to show up. Muhammad needs booties to satisfy himself and his fellow warriors. A small fraction stationed in a fort near would make an easy target now to acquire all these means of satisfaction. So slows down Gabriel with orders from Allah. "No Muhammad, you laid arms without meeting the objective." And the prime objective here is slaughter then booties acquired by means of it.

If Banu Qurayza  were in fact treacherous, Muhammad and his Islam should have been buried in those trenches they dug. That did not happen and Muhammad's fellow warriors did not feel any need to carry on. All that changed because Muhammad intervened with the aid of his altered egos. This proves
the alleged treason is nothing but a made up excuse or a pretext Muslims uses in our period to justify genocide.

What happened then? The Muslim warriors of Islam besieged a weak tribe for almost a month until those besieged had to give up. NOT fighting, but enduring. Siege ended in unconditional surrender of Jews. Now, it is all unto Muhammad who can determine the fate of the Jews.

To recount what happened then to a subjugated tribe who were on the knees to Muhammad and his fellow thugs, let’s go to Muhammad Husayn Haikal's "The life of Muhammad"

Banu Qurayza  sent word to Muhammad proposing to evacuate their territory and remove themselves to Adhri'at, but Muhammad rejected their proposal and insisted on their abiding by his judgment. They sent to al Aws pleading that they should help them as al Khazraj had helped their client Jews before them. A group of al Aws tribesmen sought Muhammad and pleaded with him to accept from their allies a similar arrangement to that which he accepted from the allies of al Khazraj. Muhammad asked, "0 men of al Aws, would you be happy if we allowed one of your men to arbitrate the case?" When they agreed, he asked them to nominate whomsoever they wished. This was communicated to the Jews, and the latter, unmindful of the fate that was lying in store for them, nominated Sa'd ibn Mu'adh. Sa'd was a reputable man of al Aws tribe, respected for his sound judgment. Previously, Sa'd was the first one to approach the Jews, to warn them adequately, even to predict to them that they might have to face Muhammad one day. He had witnessed the Jews cursing Muhammad and the Muslims. After his nomination and acceptance as arbitrator, Sa'd sought guarantees from the two parties that they would abide by his judgment. After these guarantees were secured, he commanded that Banu Qurayza  come out of their fortress and surrender their armour. Sa'd then pronounced his verdict that the fighting men be put to the sword, that their wealth be confiscated as war booty, and that the women and the children be taken as captives. When Muhammad heard the verdict, he said: "By Him Who dominates my soul, God is pleased with your judgment, 0 Sa'd; and so are the believers. You have surely done your duty." He then proceeded to Medina where he commanded a large grave to be dug for the Jewish fighters brought in to be killed and buried. [The Life of Muhammad/ Muhammad: Husayn Haykal. Page 313-314]

According to Ibn Kathir:
Then the Messenger of Allah commanded that ditches should be dug, so they were dug in the earth, and they were brought tied by their shoulders, and were beheaded. There were between seven hundred and eight hundred of them. The children who had not yet reached adolescence and the women were taken prisoner, and their wealth was seized. [Ibn Kathir]

Worth mentioning here: Not all were lucky to get beheaded among Banu Qurayza. Those whose lives were spared had the worst waiting for them: again from Haykal:

The Prophet divided the properties, women, and children of Banu Qurayza  among the Muslims after he had separated one-fifth for public purposes. Each man of the cavalry received two shares, one for himself and one for his horse. On that day, the Muslim force included thirty-six cavalrymen. Sa'd ibn Zayd al Ansari sent a number of Banu Qurayza captives to Najd where he exchanged them for horses and armour in order to increase Muslim military power. [Haykal. Page: 315-316]

These captives who were sold for horses were women of Banu Qurayza  tribe. Ibn Ishaq testifies it:

Then the apostle sent for Sa'd bin Zayd al-Ansari brother of bin Abdul-Ashhal with some of the captive women of Banu Qurayza to Najd and he sold them for horses and weapons [Ibn Ishaq 693]

Human beings exchanged for horses and weapons..! It is how Islam honours human rights..!

Now, we
will be focusing trying to cover Muslims' polemics and rebut them. Arguments (of Muslims) for Banu Qurayza massacre will be in red.

* Banu Qurayza were treacherous, so they were dealt accordingly:

The Banu Qurayza
  were NOT treacherous. The very reason Muhammad needed his Gabriel to order for besieging Banu Qurayza attests to it. Neither Muhammad nor his followers accused Banu Qurayza of being treacherous even to hold it as a reason to besiege the tribe. The account given in the Qur’an as Banu Qurayza siding with Muslims enemy at Khandaq is AFTER the incidents occurred, not during it. Muhammad should have felt it necessary to find some reasons for annihilating an entire tribe, so he came up with holy verses later.

The Banu Qurayza during the siege were under intense pressure to open the gates of their forts for the Meccan army to get through. They showed little bit of weakness by admitting one of their brethren who came along with Meccan army. Ibn Ishaq narrates this incident as the chief of
Qurayza  tribe refused to admit Huayy Bin Aktab (a single person) making hm put his knees down to get in. Still nothing happened as Meccans waited and waited for a green signal from Jewish side which never happened. Muslim apologists here weave their conspiracy theories speculating as Banu Qurayza  broke the treaty and allied with Meccans to conspire against Muslims. The question they want to answer is: If what they tell is true, why didn't it happen?

So, if Banu Qurayza
  were treacherous, Muhammad is the top authority to attest it. But can any Muslim bring out any instance from their own source that is indicative of Muhammad ever accusing Banu Qurayza  of being treacherous to besiege and massacre them?

If Banu Qurayza  were deceitful and joined the Meccan army to fight Muslims, less than a few hours would have been sufficient for the huge Meccan army to intrude and end the business of Muslims once and forever. That did NOT happen, and we know the only chance of Meccans to do so was through Banu Qurayza route. Still what makes Banu Qurayza guilty?

If anyone willing to take this challenge, come up with sources of Islam. If none can, then stop this accusation which Muslims' prophet Muhammad did not do.

* Banu Qurayza  broke their covenant with Muhammad and Muslims:

NOT true. If the treaty was broken and Banu Qurayza were acting deceitfully, Meccans should not have had to wait at trenches for such a long time and DEPART without fighting. Banu Qurayza
  could have easily let Meccans intrude through their route and helped in annihilating Muslims. That did not happen.

There were some developments within the Banu Qurayza fort while Meccans were waiting at trenches. It is claimed that Muhammad's tactic of sending an envoy to confuse Banu Qurayza people resulted to their eventual neutral stance for not opening doors for Meccans. Many Muslims argue this was the reason for Banu Qurayza not allowing enemy to intrude. Let it be true or false, but what happened ultimately is what should be counted.
The Jewish tribe did not help Meccans so the latter had to retreat for the very reason. Even though one admits Jews tried to trait, ultimately they did nothing against Muhammad and Muslims, so Muslims escaped from the real carnage. Where is treason here? Can any Muslim come up and prove?

In fact the very existence of Muslims today is a very solid proof that Banu Qurayza
  did not trait Muslims during the Khandaq siege. If they were, the huge Meccan army should have intruded and annihilated Muslims and buried Islam in then dug trenches.

* Jews did not protest before getting slaughtered, because it was ordained to them.

This is the funniest of all arguments.
Jews were in no position to protest because they were subjugated. They can only accept whatever Muhammad and his thugs decide. If they believed a massacre is ordained for them by their god, they were deluded people stranded as scapegoats. If Saad ruled according to Muhammad's god-in-heaven then it is definitely Muhammad's (Allah's) ruling. Muslims can not escape from this accusing Deuteronomy.

* Banu Qurayza  were massacred because Sad bin Muadh, the arbitrator they agreed to be the one who judged. So Muhammad had nothing to do with it.

This argument is nothing but rubbish for two reasons.

First: Saad bin Muadh judged and Muhammad attested his judgement stating it is the ruling of Allah above. Then how come it is Saad's fault? No way. Muslims must have the honesty to admit Saad bin Muadh judged according to Allah, because it is what their prophet did. See in Sahih Bukhari.

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: Some people agreed to accept the verdict of Sad bin Muadh so the Prophet sent for him (i.e. Sad bin Muadh). He came riding a donkey, and when he approached the Mosque, the Prophet said, "Get up for the best amongst you." or said, "Get up for your chief." Then the Prophet said, "O Sad! These people have agreed to accept your verdict." Sad said, "I judge that their (Banu Qurayza's) warriors should be killed and their children and women should be taken as captives." The Prophet said, "You have given a judgment similar to Allah's Judgment." [Sahih Bukhari. Book: 58 Hadith: 148] or [Bukhari. Book: 59, Hadith: 447]

Both hadiths are essentially the same. See a Muhammad who rushes to approve Saad bin Muadh right after the latter gives his gory verdict.
It is Muhammad who attested Saad judged according to Allah's judgment. To be succinct, the moment Muhammad approved Sad-the so-called arbitrator's verdict as Allah's verdict, the call for genocide becomes Allah's (Muhammad's) and neither Saad's.

Second: Muhammad intended to massacre the tribe ever before Saad bin Muadh came into the picture. He had this plan in his mind from the very first. He sent an envoy (Abu Lubaba) to Banu Qurayza  fort during the siege. Let’s see what Ibn Ishaq tells about this:

Apostle sent him (Abu Lubaba) to them (Banu Qurayza ), and when they saw him they got up to meet him. The women and children went up to him weeping in his face, and he felt sorry for them. They said, ‘Oh Abu Lubaba, do you think that we should submit to Muhammad's judgement? He said ‘yes' and pointed with his hand to his throat signifying slaughter. [Ibn Ishaq: 686]

Remember this incident
occurred during the siege and Saad bin Muadh appeared in this affair after the siege. Here we see Muhammad's envoy revealing Muhammad's intention of slaughter to Banu Qurayza. Again we see a remorseful Abu Lubaba who later felt contrite for revealing Muhammad's gory plan to the besieged tribe. This man soon left the place and tied himself to one of the pillars in the mosque. See it in Ibn Ishaq again.

Then he (Abu Lubaba) left them and did not go to the apostle but bound himself to one of the pillars in the mosque saying ‘I will not leave this place until god forgives me for what I have done' and he promised god that he would never go to Banu Qurayza  and would never be seen in a town in which he had betrayed god and his apostle [Ibn Ishaq: 686]

It is high time for Muslims to admit:
Muhammad's intention from the very beginning was slaughtering of Banu Qurayza . We see it in one of his followers' words and deeds here.

* Jews of Banu Qurayza were put to death according to the laws of Torah. Saad bin Muadh's verdict went in par with Deuteronomy 20:10-18.

Deuteronomy 20:10-18 is not the "law of the Torah." It is a specific direction from God for a specific program of conquest.
No longer relevant; once the Promised land had been settled. It has nothing to do with "treason," or the treatment of treasonous allies. So it is a wrong application of the wrong law to the wrong situation.

Besides, this argument of Muslims begs questions:

Why are the Muslims now accepting the judgment of Deuteronomy as righteous and just when on other occasions they attack this as being cruel and harsh command, a clear example of genocide?

2) The Islamic sources say that Muhammad did not only have those fighting men killed, such as the leaders of Banu Qurayza , but even their young men were massacred who did not have anything to do with the decisions of their leaders/elders. Why these innocent were killed?

Some Muslims claims only those who were able to fight among the tribe Banu Qurayza were killed. Not true according to their sources.
How did Muhammad determine people capable of fighting? See it in their sources:

The Messenger of God had commanded that all of them who had reached puberty should be killed. [The History of Al-Tabari: The Victory of Islam, trans. by Michael. F: State University of New York Press, Albany 1997, Volume 8. Page 38]

Another source to know how Muhammad determined whether a person had reached puberty:

Narrated Atiyyah al-Qurazi: I was among the captives of Banu Qurayzah. They (the Companions) examined us, and those who had begun to grow hair (pubes) were killed, and those who had not were not killed. I was among those who had not grown hair. [Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 38, Number 4390]

On the other hand, we saw how
Saad's verdict went in par with the laws of Allah as Muhammad testified it. Muslims should stop pointlessly attacking Torah, and focus on Muhammad their prophet who attested the verdict of Saad with applause.

Finally it will be interesting to know how
Muhammad the prophet and role model of Muslims to the end of times dealt Jews of Banu Qurayza prior to besieging them. Let their sources speak up:

When the apostle approached their forts he (Muhammad) said: "You brothers of monkeys.., has god disgraced you and brought his vengeance upon you?"

Banu Qurayza
  replied: "O Abul Qasim (Muhammad), you are not a barbarous person" [Ibn Ishaq: 684]

From an hadith:
Narrated Al-Bara: "On the day of Qurayza 's (besiege), Allah's Apostle said to Hassan bin Thabit, 'Abuse them (with your poems), and Gabriel is with you" [Bukhari: Book: 59 Hadith: 449]

How apposite it will be for a merciful prophet of an all merciful god to a
buse helpless people with words like "brothers of monkeys" and to incite his followers to do the same as he did..? Not to say he traded these insults before besieging them with gory intentions in his mind..

Conclusion: Muslims try to give Banu Qurayza a bad name and hang them. The main reason they bring is the alleged treachery of Banu Qurayza . It is more than lame an argument because any act of treachery from the tribe should definitely have let the huge confederate army to intrude and end all Muslim lives. It would effectively have got rid of Islam early at Khandaq. The excuses they forward thumbing a man who came into the picture much later are also too feeble excuses, for the very reason Muhammad planned to slaughter the tribe much earlier ever before Saad bin Muadh the so-called arbitrator has been invited. Moreover, when the latter pronounced his sanguinary verdict, it was Muhammad who rushed in favour of the judgement attesting it is Allah's judgement. Taking all these matters into account, there is nothing for Muslims to argue in defense of this most gruesome genocide which has no parallels in history for the very reason it was perpetrated by a man who claimed to be the role model for all to the end of times.





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