Battle of Khaybar

Battle of Khaybar
قلعه‌های خیبر.jpg
Forts of Khaybar
Date 7/628
Location Khaybar
Result Muslims' victorious
Cause inciting some Arabian tribes against Muslims
Belligerents
Muslims Jews of Khaybar
Commanders
The Prophet (s)
Strength
1400? Jews of Khaybar
Casualties
15 or 18 martyrs 93 were killed

Battle of Khaybar (Arabic: غزوة خیبر) was a battle or ghazwa by the Prophet Muhammad (s) against Jews of Khaybar region that began in Muharram of 7/628 and ended with the victory of Muslims in Safar of the same year. The battle started because Jews in Khaybar had given refuge to Jews who were expelled from Medina and incited some Arabian tribes against Muslims. Muslims won the battle and according to a treaty between Jews and the Prophet (s) they were to leave the region with their families; in the second treaty the Prophet (s) agreed that they stay in the region and continue their agriculture but pay half of their benefit to Muslims instead.

One remarkable feature of the battle is Imam Ali's (a) gallantry in conquering some forts of Khaybar.

Location of Khaybar

Main article: Khaybar

Today the area of Khaybar is located 165 kilometers north of Medina in the road leading to Syria (Tabuk Road), and its center is the city of al-Shurayf. The area includes a number of villages and green farms located in Khaybar oasis in a stone area of a height of about 854 meters above the sea level. Khaybar includes large valleys and water, agriculture, and a large population. Its main agricultural product is date, for which it has long been known.

Backgrounds of the Battle

In 4/625 after the Prophet (s) expelled the Banu Nadir Jews from Medina because of their betrayals, some of them took refuge to Khaybar. One year later they went to Mecca and incited the Quraysh against the Prophet (s). Thus Khaybar turned into a center of conspiracy against the nascent Islamic Umma.

In Sha'ban of 6/December 627-January 628, when the Prophet (s) learned that the Banu Sa'd b. Bakr tribe—an Arabian neighbor of Khaybar—gathered to help the Jews of Khaybar, he sent 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a) and a group of Muslims to them. The enemy escaped after 'Ali's (a) attack and Muslims seized the booties. In Ramadan of 6/January-February 628, Sallam b. Abi l-Huqayq was killed because of inciting groups of Quraysh against the Prophet (s) and Muslims in a Sariyya (or expedition) under the commandership of 'Abd Allah b. 'Atik. At the same time, 'Abd Allah b. Rawaha was commissioned by the Prophet (s) to investigate the conditions of the Jews in Khaybar.

After this, Jews of Khaybar elected Usayr b. Zarim (or Yusayr b. Rizam) as their ruler, and he tried to incite Arabian tribes, such as Ghatafan, to fight with the Prophet (s). He intended to attack Medina with their help. Thus in Shawwal of 6/February-March 628, once again the Prophet (s) sent 'Abd Allah b. Rawaha to Khaybar for an expedition in which Usayr and some Jews in his company were killed.

Moreover, when the Jews of Banu Qurayza were expelled from Medina and peace was back there and an agreement was made with other Jews of Medina, Jews of Khaybar, with whom the heads of Banu Nadir lived, sought to revenge on the Prophet (s). They spent their money to incite neighboring Arabs, including the strong tribe of Ghatafan, against the Muslims. This was a sufficient reason for the Prophet (s) to attack Khaybar soon after the Hudaybiyya Peace Treaty.

The Date of the Battle of Khaybar

The Prophet (s) departed for the Battle of Khaybar in the early Muharram of 7/May 628 and conquered the area in the Safar/June, and returned to Medina on Rabi' I 1, 7/July 12, 628.

The Prophet (s)'s Successor in Medina

The Prophet (s) appointed Saba' b. 'Urfuta al-Ghifari or Abu Dhar al-Ghifari as his successor in Medina, and gave the flag of the battle to 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a), appointing him as the commander of the front army.

Number of Muslim Soldiers

On some accounts, the number of Muslims in the Battle of Khaybar was 1400 people, and on others, it was equal to the number of soldiers in the Battle of Hudaybiyya, that is 1500 or 1540. In the Battle of Khaybar, 20 women accompanied the army of the Prophet (s), including Umm Salama, the Prophet's (s) wife. Some women from Banu Ghifar attended the battle with the permission of the Prophet (s) in order to take care of injured soldiers and help Muslims. Tens of Jews in Medina as well as some slaves also attended the battle.

Number of People in Khaybar

People of Khaybar, whose number was, on some apparently exaggerated accounts, 10,000 or 20,000, never thought that the Prophet (s) would go to war with them. Relying on their firm forts that were located on top of mountains and their weaponry and large population and permanent water, they thought that they could resist for years. Some Jews in Medina warned Muslims that they could not defeat people of Khaybar and their strong forts. They sent someone to Kinana b. Abi l-Huqayq in Khaybar to tell him that the number of Muslims was small and they did not have much weaponry at their disposal. Quraysh polytheists hoped that if a war occurred, People of Khaybar would defeat the Prophet (s) and his army, and they made bets on that.

Report of the Battle

Commencement of the Battle

The Prophet (s) and his army departed to Khaybar with two informants. He ordered one of the informants to guide the army in such a way that they would eventually stop between Khaybar and Syria, so that people of Khaybar could not be assisted by their Ghatafani allies. Of several ways leading to Khaybar, the Prophet (s) went on the road known as Marhab. It was later known that the Jews were horrified by Muslim attacks.

The War's Strategy of Jews in Khaybar

When the Jews in Khaybar learned that the Prophet (s) was heading towards them, Harith Abu Zaynab, one of the Jews, suggested to them that they camp outside the forts and prepare themselves for the war, but relying on the fortification of their forts, they preferred to stay inside the forts.

The Army of Islam Entering Khaybar

After crossing the forts of Shiqq and Natat, the Prophet (s) arrived near Khaybar at night and spent the night there. The next day they moved on until they arrived in Manzila. In Manzila, the Prophet (s) selected a place as a mosque and said prayers there. The place later turned into the Mosque of Khaybar. In the morning, Jews of Khaybar were surprised by the Prophet's (s) arrival in the area and escaped to their forts. The Prophet (s) prohibited his people from killing women and children. That day, they fought the residents of the Natat Fort until night. The Prophet (s) then moved the military camp from its wet location that was in the range of arrows to an area called Raji'. He then ordered that some dates of Khaybar be cut.

On the first day of the battle, 50 Muslims were injured. The Prophet (a) and his companions camped in Raji' for 7 days and nights. He fought the Jews together with Muslims each group of whom had their own flag. On the sixth night, a Jewish man from Natat, called Sammak, went to the Prophet (s) and asked for a safety conduct to guide them to the fort. He informed the Muslims that Natat, in which the Jews' supply of food and various weaponries were stored, was in turmoil, and its residents were leaving it. The next day, the Muslims conquered Natat. That Jewish man later became a Muslim.

Conquest of the Na'im Fort

It is said that the first fort of Khaybar conquered by the Prophet (s) was Na'im. The fort consisted of several forts. On that day, the Prophet (s) gave his white flag to two people from Muhajirun (on Ibn Ishaq's account, Abu Bakr b. Abi Quhafa and 'Umar b. al-Khattab) and then to a man from Ansar. But they returned without gaining any victory. The Prophet (s) said: "Tomorrow I will give the flag to someone who is loved by God and His prophet, and God will give victory to Muslims on his hands, and he never runs away". The next morning, the Prophet (s) miraculously healed Imam 'Ali's (a) eyes that were in pain, and then gave the flag to him.

Conquest of the Qumus Fort

On another account, the largest, strongest, and firmest fort of Khaybar was the fort of Qumus. The Prophet (s) gave the flag of the conquest to Imam 'Ali (a). Imam 'Ali (a) conquered the fort by killing Marhab (the fort was also named after him).

On Abu Rafi's account, near the gate of the fort a man stroke Imam 'Ali (a) and the shield fell from the Imam's (a) hand, so he had to use a door near the fort as his shield. He went on fighting with that door in his hand until he conquered the fort and gave the good news to the Prophet (s). On one account, that Jewish man was Marhab himself. It is said that the door was so heavy that only 40 or 70 people could lift it. The crucial conquest of Khaybar by Imam 'Ali (a) is one of his virtues agreed on by all narrators. When these brave Jewish men in the Fort of Na'im were killed, the way to the complete conquest of Khaybar was paved.

Siege and Conquest of the Fort of Natat

The fort of Sa'b b. Mu'adh was also located in Natat in which food supplies, livestock, and commodities were stored and 500 warriors lived. Muslims sieged the fort of Natat for 10 days and fought with the enemy. After two days of intense fighting, the fort of Sa'b b. Mu'adh was conquered on the morning of the third day. The Jews residing in the forts of Na'im, Natat and Sa'b b. Mu'adh left their forts and fled to the fort of al-Zubayr which was tall and firm. This fort was also sieged for three days until a Jewish man went to the Prophet (s) and asked for a safety conduct and gave Muslims the required information to conquer this last fort.

Relief of Muslims and Moving the Camp

People of the fort of Natat were the bravest Jews of Khaybar. When this fort was conquered, the Prophet (s) was assured that Jews could no long launch an attack against them, and ordered that the camp be moved from Raji' to its previous location, Manzila. They then moved to the fort of Shiqq that included several other forts. After an intense war, Muslims first conquered the fort of Sumran and then that of Nazar, and imprisoned their residents.

Peace Request by the Jews

Nazar was the last fort in which a war occurred. After its conquest, all fugitives from the forts of Natat and Shiqq fled to the firm forts of Qumus, Watih and Sulalim (inside the Fort of Katiba) and closed the doors. Thus the Prophet (s) decided to use catapults. After 14 days of siege, the Jews were frustrated and asked for a peace. They made a peace treaty with the Prophet (s) under certain conditions. The Prophet (s) gave them a safety conduct and they surrendered all their property, golds, silvers and armors to the Prophet (s). Watih and Sulalim were the last forts of Khaybar that were conquered by Muslims.

Under this peace treaty, it was agreed that the lives of warriors inside the fort be protected and they leave Khaybar with their wives and children and surrender their property, lands, weapons, armors and clothes to the Prophet (s).

The Duration of the Battle of Khaybar

Contrary to what was initially believed, the Jews of Khaybar were finally defeated by the Prophet (s) and his army. It was the second defeat of Jews after about one month of war and siege. Thus the 7th year after Hijra (628) was called "Sanat al-Istighlab" (the year of victory).

The Prophet (s) and Some of His Companions Poisoned by Meat Given by a Jewish Woman

It is said that after the conquest of Khaybar by the Prophet (s), Zaynab bt. Harith (the wife of Sallam b. Mishkam, a head of the Jews) gave a poisoned piece of meat to the Prophet (s) as a gift in order avenge the deaths of her father, uncle and husband. The Prophet (s) and some of his companions, including Bishr b. al-Bara', ate some of the meat, and then they stopped eating it at the command of the Prophet (s). Bishr died of the poison immediately (or, on other accounts, after one year of sickness). Some people take the Prophet (s)'s death to be caused by this poisoned meat.

Number of the Fallen

In the Battle of Khaybar, 15 or 18 Muslims were martyred. Of the Jews, 93 men were killed.

The Strengthening of Muslim Military Forces

The victory of the Prophet (s) and Muslims in Khaybar undermined the military power of the Quraysh and their allied tribes, and strengthened the military and economic power of Muslims.

Booties

The Prophet Muhammad (s) commissioned Farwa b. 'Amr al-Bayadi to protect the booties of the Battle of Khaybar, and told everyone to return every tiny thing they took from the booties of war. The booties were divided into 5 parts: one part, that was the Khums, was taken by the Prophet (s), from which he gave shares to his wives, Ahl al-Bayt (a) ('Ali b. Abi Talib (a) and Fatima al-Zahra (a)), the sons of 'Abd al-Muttalib b. Hashim b. 'Abd Manaf and sons of Muttalib b. 'Abd Manaf, and some Sahaba and orphans and people in need. The other four parts were sold. Other parts of Khaybar (such as Watih and Sulalim) that were conquered without a war belonged to the Prophet (s) as fay'.

After the conquest, a group of people from the Daws tribe, together with Abu Hurayra, Tufayl b. 'Amr and a number of people from the Ashja' tribe went to the Prophet (a) and received a share from him. The Prophet (s) also donated part of the booties to the Jews, slaves and women who accompanied the Muslim army in the battle.

Request by the Jews to Farm in Khaybar

After the conquest of Khaybar, the Prophet (s) permitted the Jews, per their request, to continue to farm dates in the lands of Khaybar (which was their main occupation), taking half of the date crops of Khaybar for themselves. He made an agreement with them and gave them a safety conduct regarding their life, property and lands.

Ceding Fadak to the Prophet (s)

Main article: Fadak

After the conquest of Khaybar, Jews surrendered to Muslims. When the Jewish people of Fadak were informed about their defeat to the Muslim forces, they were afraid of a probable attack to Fadak; therefore, they sent their representative to Prophet Muhammad (s) in order to negotiate and make peace with Muslims.

According to their peace treaty Jews were supposed to give half of their gardens and fields of Fadak to Prophet (s) in exchange for permission to continue their life in Fadak. It also guaranteed safety and security for the rest of their properties and lands.

The Prophet (s)'s Marriage with Safiyya

In Khaybar or on his way back to Medina in an area called Sahba', the Prophet (s) invited Safiyya bt. Huyayy b. Akhtab—who was imprisoned by Muslims—to convert to Islam, and she accepted it. The Prophet (s) emancipated and married her.

Interpretation of Some Quranic Verses in Terms of the Battle of Khaybar

It is said that the verse of the Quran, 48:18, in which God gave the good news of an "imminent conquest" (Arabic: فَتْحًا قَرِیبًا) or victory to Muslims, refers to the conquest of Khaybar, and the term, "many booties" (Arabic: مغانم کثيرة) (Quran 48:19) refers to the booties of the Battle of Khaybar. Some exegetes of the Quran interpreted verses 1 and 15 of Sura al-Fath (Quran: 18:1-15) to refer to the Battle of Khaybar, too. Also the Quran, 33:27 ("and a land you have never trodden" (Arabic: وَأَرْضًا لَّمْ تَطَئُوهَا)) is taken by exegetes to refer to the land of Khaybar.

Poems about the Conquest of Khaybar

After the conquest of Khaybar, some poems, including Hassan b. Thabit, composed poems with regard to it.

See Also

References

  • The material for this article is mainly taken from غزوه خیبر in Farsi Wikishia.
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