The Expulsion of Banu al Nadir

Akram Diya al Umari

Excerpted from Madinan Society At the Time of the Prophet, International Islamic Publishing House & IIIT, 1991

The date of the campaign

Two reports, each with a sahih isnad, mention that the campaign against Banu al Nadir took place after the Battle of Badr.

1. The first was reported by al Zuhri, who said: “Abd Allah ibn Abd al Rahman ibn Ka’ab ibn Malik informed me from one of the companions of the Prophet.[1]

2. The second was reported by ?Urwah from ?Aishah[2], despite the fact that al Bayhaqi said that ?A?ishah was not specifically mentioned (ghayr mahfuz). But al Dhahabi said that she was mentioned. I think that the name has been added by a reliable scholar, and this is acceptable. Al Bayhaqi is the only one who mentions the reasons for this report being mursal. There is a mursal report from ?Urwah that this campaign took place six months after Badr.[3]

Al Bayhaqi transmitted another report from ?Urwah which indicated that the campaign took place in Muharram of the third year AH. This agrees with the first report, because Badr occurred on 17th Ramadan in the second year AH. This information was also transmitted by Musa ibn ?Uqbah.[4] ?Urwah is a second generation Muslim (tabi’i of great stature and Musa is a tabi’i of lesser stature. The isnad which goes back to them includes some men whose biographies I could not find, otherwise the report would be hasan.

Ibn Ishaq reported that the campaign took place in the fourth year of the hijrah.[5] Al Waqidi and Ibn Sad relate without isnad, that it happened in Rabi? al Awwal, 37 months after the hijrah.[6] Most of the Sirah writers followed Ibn Ishaq in giving the date of the campaign. Ibn al Qayyim is sure that al Zuhri was either confused or mistaken in saying that it happened six months after Badr. He does not doubt that it took place after Uhud, and in saying so he favors the report of the majority of Sirah and Maghazi writers.[7] Ibn Hajar thinks that what Abd al Rahman ibn Abd Allah ibn Ka?b mentioned is stronger than what Ibn Ishaq mentioned from the aspect of hadith soundness (sihhah). But he also thinks that if it can be proved that the reason for the expulsion of Banu al Nadir was connected with the collecting of blood money for the two men of Banu ?Amir who had accidentally been killed, then we should accept Ibn Ishaq?s verdict, because all the scholars are agreed that the incident at Bi?r Ma?unah took place after Uhud.[8]

Other accounts with regard to the date of the campaign are reported in the commentary of the Qur?anic verse:

“O you who believe! Call in remembrance the favor of God unto you when certain men formed the design to stretch out their hands against you, but God held back their hands from you: so fear God. And on God let believers put (all) their trust.” (Al Ma?idah 5:12)

The reports say that this was revealed concerning Banu al Nadir when they were on the point of killing the Prophet, and Allah rescued him by His grace. There is some weakness in this account, but when that is put together with other accounts, they support each other and can be accepted as valid evidence.[9]

These chronicles support what Ibn Ishaq suggested, but still the question remains without a definite answer: when did the campaign against Banu al Nadir take place? Ibn Hajar did not give a definite opinion on the matter, despite the fact that he had studied the reports and decided which one was the strongest, and he stated that Ibn Ishaq?s report could be accepted if it were proved that the campaign against Banu al Nadir was connected to the killing of the two men from Banu ?Amir. It seems that the abundance of reports, despite their weakness, support Ibn Ishaq?s verdict. This explains why Ibn Hajar did not give a definite opinion. The method of dealing with historical reports is more flexible in applying the rules of Hadith taking into consideration the specialization of other scholars, and respects the suggestions of the scholars of Maghazi.

The reasons for the campaign

The sources mention three reasons for the campaign:

1. The attempt of Banu al Nadir to kill the Messenger after the Battle of Badr. The sources mention two attempts. The first attempt came after Quraysh had written to Banu al Nadir, threatening to wage war on them if they did not fight the Messenger. Banu al Nadir complied with their wish and resolved to use treachery. The Jews sent a message to the Prophet, inviting him to come out with 30 of his companions to meet them. They promised to come out with a similar number of their rabbis, to a place in the center of Madinah, where they would listen to him: if the rabbis believed what he said, then all the Jews would convert. When the two parties approached each other, the Jews suggested that the Prophet and three of his companions should meet with three of their rabbis, and if he convinced them, then Banu al Nadir would convert. The three rabbis were carrying daggers, but one of the Jewish women whose brother was a Muslim told him about their plans. He told the Prophet who turned back and did not go to meet them. Then he besieged them until they accepted expulsion, on the condition that they could take with them whatever their camels could carry, except weapons; they even took the doors of their houses. The isnad of this report includes men who are reliable; the name of the companion is not known, but this does not affect the validity of this isnad (because all the companions are reliable).[10]

2. The second attempt was reported by Ibn Ishaq, who was followed by most of the other Sirah writers. The Prophet went to Banu al Nadir to ask them for help in paying the blood money for two men from a tribe which was party to the treaty, whom Amr ibn Umayyah al Damari had killed by mistake following the incident of al Raji. When he came to Banu al Nadir, he sat down against a wall. They were about to drop a rock onto him and kill him, but he learnt of that through divine inspiration. He left them quickly and went back to Madinah, and he ordered that they should be besieged. They agreed to a peace treaty after a siege lasting six days, on the condition that they could take with them whatever their camels could carry.[11] The isnad of this report ends with Yazid ibn Ruman, who is a lesser tabi’i, but it could be strengthened by other similar reports. Indeed, it was followed by the report of ?Urwah ibn al Zubayr in the Maghazi of Musa ibn ?Uqbah.[12] Musa ibn ?Uqbah was a writer of Maghazi who added to what Ibn Ishaq had said: “Banu al Nadir had plotted with Quraysh, encouraged them to fight the Messenger of Allah, and had told them of the Muslims? weak points.”[13]

Despite the fact that Abd al Razzaq?s report is stronger in its isnad than that of Ibn Ishaq, the Sirah writers preferred the latter. Both reports attribute the Muslims? siege of Banu al Nadir to their attempt to kill the Prophet by treachery. Musa ibn ?Uqbah does not say exactly when the Jews committed such acts against the Muslims as intrigue, incitement, and giving information to Quraysh. It is well-known that they incited the disbelievers to fight the Muslims ? this resulted in the Battle of Uhud ? and that they helped Abu Sufyan to attack the outskirts of Madinah, which caused the Muslims to pursue him after Uhud in a campaign known as Ghazwat al Suwayq. The poems which Ka?b ibn al Ashraf al Nadari composed to incite Quraysh to make war on the Muslims are well known. Musa ibn Uqbah?s reference to these events in his report was probably intended to give an indication of the deterioration of the relationship between the Muslims and Banu al Nadir, and that it came to an end when they attempted treachery. This was a direct cause of their being besieged, but it was preceded by a succession of aggressive acts.

The Prophet’s warning of expulsion to Banu al Nadir

There is no report which is sahih from the hadith point of view, which refers to the Prophet?s warning Banu al Nadir of expulsion. However, their actual expulsion is proved in a sahih hadith which was reported by Abd Allah ibn ?Umar.[14] The warning was mentioned by al Waqidi and Ibn Sa’d ? without isnad ? who said that the Prophet asked them to leave Madinah within ten days; anyone who was seen after that would be beheaded. They prepared to leave, but ?Abd Allah ibn Ubayy ibn Salul incited them to rebel and stay, and he promised to support them. They announced their rebellion, and the Muslims besieged them.[15] Two reports?both with isnads ending with ?Urwah ibn al Zubayr and Musa ibn ?Uqbah, and containing narrators whose biographies I could not find ? mention the Prophet?s warning the Banu al Nadir that they would be expelled.[16]

Most of the books of Sirah report this warning without giving any isnad.[17] Despite the fact that the attitude of the hypocrites (in supporting Banu al Nadir) is only mentioned in weak reports which cannot be taken as valid evidence, it can be proved by many sahih reports to have been revealed concerning Banu al Nadir.[18]

The Siege of Banu al Nadir and their Expulsion Agreement

There is enough evidence to make sahih the report that the Messenger of Allah besieged Banu al Nadir and said: “I will not guarantee your safety unless you make a treaty with me and promise to adhere to it.” They refused to make a treaty with him, so the Messenger led the Muslims in fighting them all day. The next day, he left Banu al Nadir and came to Banu Qurayzah with soldiers on horseback. He invited Banu Qurayzah to make a treaty with him; they did so and then he left them. The following day he came to Banu al Nadir with the soldiers, and fought them until they agreed to accept expulsion, on the condition that they could take with them whatever their camels could carry, except weapons. Banu al Nadir came and took with them as many of their possessions as their camels could carry, including the doors of their houses; they destroyed their houses and took from them the choicest wood.[19]

It is stated in the Qur?an[20] and hadith[21] that the Prophet burnt and cut down some of Banu al Nadir?s palm trees during the siege.

The expulsion treaty confirmed that the Jews? blood would be spared, that they would be expelled from their homes, and that they would be permitted to take with them whatever possessions and wealth their camels could carry, with the exception of weapons, which they were to leave for the Muslims. It is possible to reconcile the sahih reports which say that they were expelled to Syria[22], with Ibn Sa?d?s report[23] that they went to Khaybar, when we understand that their leaders, such as Huyayy ibn Akhtab, Salam ibn Abu al Haqiq, Kinanah ibn al Rabi? and others went to Khaybar, while most of them went to Syria. Ibn Sa’d?s report is weak and without isnad, but it is proved by later events which are mentioned in strong reports, such as reports of their fighting at the Battle of Khaybar, of the killing of Kinanah and of the capture of Safiyah, and the report about Salam ibn Abu al Haqiq. The reports can be reconciled by the explanation that Banu al Nadir were expelled to Syria, and some of them settled in Khaybar. Ibn Ishaq suggested this.[24] Two men from Banu al Nadir had become Muslims, so they kept their possessions; they were Yamin ibn ?Umar ibn Ka?b and Abu Sa?d ibn Wahb.[25] The wealth and palm trees of Banu al Nadir were exclusively for the Messenger according to the text of the Qur?an[26]. Surat al Hashr was revealed concerning Banu al Nadir.[27] He spent some of the income from it on his family every year, and used what was left to buy weapons and horses in readiness for fighting for the cause of Allah. The Prophet distributed the Jews? land among the Muhajirun; he gave land to only two Ansar ? Sahl ibn Hanif and Abu Dujanah Sammak ibn Kharashah?because they were poor.[28]

The expulsion of Banu al Nadir led to the collapse of power of the Jews and the hypocrites in Madinah. The Qurayzah renewed the treaty with the Muslims during the siege of the Banu al Nadir, and showed their willingness to adhere to the treaty until the Battle of the Ditch. The hypocrites did not fulfill their promise of support to Banu al Nadir, and the Jews realized the futility of relying on the hypocrites.

Islam became stronger by getting rid of Banu al Nadir and benefitting from their lands which were given to the Muhajirun, who had previously relied on the lands and houses of the Ansar.

Banu al Nadir’s incitement of the Mushrikun

The Jews of Banu al Nadir continued to hate the Muslims; this hatred led them to incite the disbelievers of the Quraysh and other tribes to attack Madinah in the Battle of the Ditch. Several reports have been transmitted which are weak either because they are mursal or munqati or because one of the narrators in the isnad is majhul.[29] But when these reports are put together, they can be taken as evidence, and they strengthen one another. The reports go back to ?Urwah ibn al Zubayr, ?Asim ibn ?Umar ibn Qatadah, Abd Allah ibn Abu Bakr ibn Hazm, Sa’id ibn al Musayyab and Musa ibn ?Uqbah. Some of them gave the names of the inciters from Banu al Nadir and Ibn Ishaq mentioned some of them: Salam ibn Abu al Haqiq, Kinanah ibn Abu al Haqiq al Nadari and Huyayy ibn Akhtab al Nadari.[30]


[1] Abd al Razzaq, al Musannaf, 5/357; Abu Dawud, al Sunan, 2/139-26, Kitab al Kharaj wa al Fay wa al Imarah

[2] Al Hakim, al Mustadrak, 2/483, Kitab al Tafsir

[3] Abd al Razzaq, al Musannaf, 5/357

[4] Al Bayhaqi, Dala’il al Nubuwwah, 3/446-450; Abu Nu’aym, Dala’il al Nubuwwah, 3/176-7

[5] Ibn Hisham, al Sirah, 3/683; al Bukhari, al Sahih, 3/11, Mu’allaq from Ibn Ishaq.

[6] Al Waqidi, al Maghazi, 1/363; Ibn Sa’d, al Tabaqat, 3/57). Ibn Hisham agrees with them that it took place in Rabi? al Awwal (Al Sirah, 3/683).

[7] Ibn al Qayyim, Zad al Ma’ad

[8] Fath al Bari, 6/388-9

[9] See isnads in al Tabari (Tarikh al Rusul, 6/146-7) some of which end with Yazid ibn Ruman. Some include Muhammad ibn Hamid al Razi, who is weak, and Salamah ibn al Fadl al Abrashi, Da’la`il al Nubuwwah, by al Bayhaqi, 3/446-8. with two isnads going back to Urwah ibn al Zubayr and Musa ibn Uqbah (the two isnads end with them; Ibn Kathir, al Tafsir, 3/31, transmitted from Ibn Ishaq, Mujahid and Ikrimah).

[10] Abd al Razzaq, al Musannaf, 5/359-60; see also, Ibn Hajar, Fath al Bari, 7/331; Abu Dawud, Sunan, 2/139-40, Kitab al Kharaj wa al Fay wa al Imarah

[11] Ibn Ishaq, al Sirah, 3/191

[12] Ibn Hajar, Fath al Bari, 7/331

[13] Ibid., 7/332

[14] Al Bukhari, al Sahih, 3/11; Muslim, al Sahih, 5/159

[15] Al Waqidi, al Maghazi, 1/363-70, but al Waqidi is matruk; Ibn Hisham, al Sirah, 3/682, without isnad; Ibn Sa?d, al Tabaqat, 3/57-8, without isnad; al Bayhaqi, Dala?il al Nubuwwah, 3/446-50, with two isnads which include four men who are majhul.

[16] Al Bayhaqi, Dala?il al Nubuwwah, 3/446-8; Abu Nu?aym, Dala?il al Nubuwwah, 3/176-7. Their isnads include Abu Ja?far Muhammad ibn ?Abd Allah al Baghdad, Abu Alaqah Muhammad ibn ?Amr ibn Khalid, Muhammad ibn ?Abd Allah ibn ?Itab and al Qasim ibn ?Abd Allah ibn al Mughirah; I did not find their biographies, but the other men in the two isnads are reliable (thiqah).

[17] Al Tabari, Tarikh al Rusul, 3/334-5; Ibn Sayyid al Nas, Uyun al Athar, 3/48; Ibn Kathir, al Bidayah, 3/45, and others

[18] Ibn Sayyid al Nas, Uyun al Athar, 2/49; Ibn Kathir, al Tafsir, 4/330; al Suyuti, Lubab al Nuqul fi Asbab al Nuzul, 214

[19] Abd al Razzaq. al Musannaf, 5/358-361; Abu Dawud, al Sunan, 3/404-7; al Bayhaqi, Dala?il al Nubuwwah, 3/446-8; see also, Ibn Hajar, Fath al Bari, 7/331

[20] Surat al Hashr (59:5): ?Whatever you cut down (O you Muslims) the tender palm trees, or you left them standing on their roots, it was by leave of Allah?”

[21] Al Bukhari, al Sahih, 3/11, 143; Abu Dawud, al Sunan, 3/36; al Tirmidhi, al Sunan (with the commentary Tuhfat al Ahwadhi, 5/157-8; Ibn Majah, Sunan, 3/948-9

[22] Abd al Razzaq, al Musannaf, 5/358-361

[23] Ibn Sa’d, al Tabaqat, 3/58

[24] Ibn Hisham, al Sirah, 3/683, without isnad. It is strengthened by what is in at Bayhaqi’s Dala?il al Nubuwwah, 3/446-9, with an isnad going back to ?Urwah and Musa ibn ?Uqbah. The two isnads mention men whose biographies I could not find.

[25] Ibn Hisham, al Sirah, 3/683, with an isnad going back to Abd Allah ibn Abu Bakr.

[26] “What God has bestowed on His Apostle (and taken away) from them?for this you made no expedition with either cavalry or camelry: but God gives power to His Apostle over any He pleases: and God has power over all things.” (al Hashr 59:6)

[27] Sahih al Bukhari, 3/131 and Sahih Muslim, 8/345

[28] Abd al Razzaq, al Musannaf, 5/358-361; Abu Dawud, al Sunan, 3/404-7; see also Ibn Hajar, Fath al Bari, 7/331 and Ibn Hisham, al Sirah, 3/683-4

[29] Ibn Hisham, al Sirah, 3/700-1; Abd al Razzaq, al Musannaf, 5/368-373; Ibn Sa’d, al Tabaqat, 3/65-6; Ibn Hajar, Fath al Bari, 7/412-4

[30] Ibn Hisham, al Sirah, 3/700-701

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