Invasion of Banu Nadir

Invasion of Banu Nadir

Successful invasion and Siege:

  • Banu Nadir expelled, the Muslims seize their weapons and capture their goods as war booty[1]
Muslims Banu Nadir tribe

The invasion of Banu Nadir took place in August 625 AD (Rabi' al-awwal, 4 AH)[1][2] The account is related in Surah Al-Hashr (Chapter 59 - The Gathering) which describes the banishment of the Jewish tribe Banu Nadir who were expelled from Medina after being accused of plotting to assassinate the Islamic prophet Muhammad.[3]

Mubrakpuri claims that the attack was carried out because the Angel Gabriel, told Muhammad that some members of the Banu Nadir were plotting to assassinate him.[1] According to Afzalur Rahman, the Banu Nazir were legally bound in a pact between them and the Muslims.[4] The Banu Nadir, however, broke the pact, started hostile activities aimed at harming the Muslims, and secretly sided with the Quraysh during the Battle of Uhud.[4] After Muhammad was informed of their attempt to assassinate him, he sent an envoy to dispatch a message to the Banu Nadir to leave Madinah, however, the Banu Nadir refused to do so, instead challenging him to do as he liked.[4] Muhammad, then marched against the Banu Nadir and after a fifteen-day siege, the Banu Nadir surrendered and were defeated.[4] Western Orientalist, William Montgomery Watt, however, contends it was in response to the tribe’s criticism of Muhammad which was fuelling suspicions among ordinary Muslims, and that the claim they wanted to assassinate Muhammad was not the fundamental reason for attacking them. Watt doubts whether the Banu Nadir wanted to assassinate Muhammad. He claimed that "it is possible that the allegation was no more than an excuse to justify the attack".[5] Zafar Ali Qureshi has on the other hand severely criticized Watt, for what he regards as a fallacious analysis of the matter.[6]


Reason for attack

Submission of Banu Nadir to the Muslim troops (14th-century painting)

According to The Sealed Nectar, a modern Islamic biography of Muhammad written by the Indian Muslim author Saif ur-Rahman Mubarakpuri, once Muhammad with some of his Companions set out to see the Banu Nadir tribe and seek their help in raising the blood-money he had to pay to the Banu Kilab for the two men that ‘Amr bin Omaiyah Ad-Damari had killed by mistake in the Expedition of Bir Maona. On hearing his story they said they would share in paying the blood-money and asked him and his Companions Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Ali and others to sit under a wall of their houses and wait. Mubrakpuri says that the angel Gabriel came down to reveal the plot by the Banu Nadir to assassinate Muhammad, so he, with his Companions, hurried off back to Madinah. On their way, he told his Companions of the Divine Revelation.

Mubrakpuri said, that the Banu Nadir Jews held a short private meeting and they conspired to kill him.[1]

According to Norman Stillman, Muhammad found a casus belli by claiming to have received a divine revelation that the Banu Nadir were plotting to assassinate him.[7] The Encyclopaedia of Islam, states that through Muhammad ibn Maslama, Muhammad ordered them to leave Medina within ten days. The tribe at first decided to comply, but Abdullah ibn Ubayy, the chief of the Khazraj, persuaded them to resist in their fortresses, promising to send 2,000 men to their aid. Huyayy ibn Akhtab decided to put up resistance, hoping also for help from Banu Qurayza, despite opposition within the tribe.[8]

Mubrakpuri claims that in this regards, the Quran says:

"If you are expelled, we (too) indeed will go out with you, and we shall never obey anyone against you, and if you are attacked (in fight), we shall indeed help you."[Quran 59:11][1]

The Banu Nadir regained their confidence and were determined to fight. Their chief Huyai bin Akhtab relied hopefully on what Abdullah ibn Ubayy said. So he sent a message to Muhammad saying: "We will not leave our houses. Do whatever you like to do."[1]

According to the Muslim Jurist, Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Abu Salmah gave an ultimatum to the Banu Nadir on the orders of Muhammad. Tabari claims that he (Abu Salmah) said:

Abu Salamah: Hearts have changed, and Islam has wiped out the old covenants

[Tabari, Volume 7, Foundation of the Community, p.158]



William Montgomery Watt, mentions in the foreword of the translation of Tabari, Volume 7, that the main underlying reason for the expulsion of the Banu Nadir was same as that of the Banu Qaynuqa. Namely that Jewishw criticism of Muhammad endangered the ordinary Muslims belief in Muhammad and the Quran. The clan of Nadir had an alliance with the Banu Amir, but it is not clear how this affected the seeking of blood money that Muslims were after. He also doubts whether the Banu Nadir wanted to drop a stone on Muhammad. He claims that it is possible that the "allegation was no more than an excuse to justify the attack".[5]

William Muir claims that: "the pretext on which the Banu Nadhir were besieged and expatriated (namely that Gabriel had revealed their design against the prophet's life) was feeble and unworthy of an honest cause".[10]

Zafar Ali Qureshi, on the other hand hand has severely criticized Watt, Muir and other Orientalists, for what he regards as a fallacious, Western-centric, and incorrect analysis of the matter.[6]

Invasion of Banu Nadir

According to The Sealed Nectar, the Muslims made the decisive decisions of taking up arms whatever turn the consequences could assume. When the Muhammad received the reply of Huyai bin Akhtab he said: "Allâhu Akbar, Allâhu Akbar." (Allâh is the Greatest of all) and his Companions repeated after him. Then he set out to fight them after appointing Ibn Umm Maktum to dispose the affairs of Madinah during his absence. The standard was entrusted to ‘Ali bin Abi Talib. He laid siege to their forts for six nights — in another version, fifteen. Banu Nadeer resorted to their castles, mounted them and started shooting arrows and pelting stones at the Muslims enjoying the strategic advantage that their thick fields of palm trees provided. The Muslims were therefore ordered to burn those trees. In this respect, a Quranic Verse was revealed:

"What you (O Muslims) cut down of the palm-trees (of the enemy), or you left them standing on their stems, it was by leave of Allâh." [Quran 59:5][1]

This incident is also mentioned in the Sahih Bukhari hadith collection in Sahih al-Bukhari, 3:39:519.

Quraizah tribe remained neutral, and ‘Abd-Allah ibn Ubayyas well as Ghatafan failed to keep their promises of support to the Banu Nadir. Mubarakpuri says that Quran 59:16 is related to this.[1]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Rahman al-Mubarakpuri, Saifur (2005), The Sealed Nectar, Darussalam Publications, p. 189 (online)
  2. Tabari, Al (25 Sep 1990), The last years of the Prophet (translated by Isma'il Qurban Husayn), State University of New York Press, ISBN 9780887066917
  3. Jamie Stokes (2005), Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Africa and the Middle East, Volume 1, Infobase Publishing, p. 99, ISBN 978-0-8160-7158-6, According to Islamic tradition, the Bani Nadir were expelled from Medina in 625 after being implicated in a plot to assassinate Muhammad
  4. 1 2 3 4 Afzalur Rahman (1993), Muhammad As a Military Leader, Kazi Publications, p. 119, ISBN 9781567441468
  5. 1 2 Tabari, Al (2008), The foundation of the community, State University of New York Press, p. xxxv, ISBN 978-0-88706-344-2, The main underlying reason for the expulsion of the clan of al-Nadir was the same as in the case of Quaynuqa, namely, that Jewish criticisms endangered the ordinary Muslim's belief in Muhammad's prophethood and in the Quran as revelation from God.
  6. 1 2 Zafar Ali Qureshi (1992), Prophet Mohammad and His Western Critics: A Critique of W. Montgomery Watt and Others, Idara Ma'arif Islami, ISBN 9781567441383
  7. Stillman, Norman. The Jews of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1979. ISBN 0-8276-0198-0. p.14
  8. Vacca, V. "Nadir, Banu 'l". In P.J. Bearman; Th. Bianquis; C.E. Bosworth; E. van Donzel; W.P. Heinrichs. Encyclopaedia of Islam Online. Brill Academic Publishers. ISSN 1573-3912.
  9. Tabari, Al (2008), The foundation of the community, State University of New York Press, pp. 158–159, ISBN 978-0-88706-344-2
  10. Muir, William (1861), The life of Mahomet and history of Islam to the era of the Hegira, Volume 4, Smith, Elder & Co, p. 308

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