28 Facts About Banu Qurayza


Banu Qurayza were a Jewish tribe which lived in northern Arabia, at the oasis of Yathrib.

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In 627, when the Quraysh and their allies besieged the city in the Battle of the Trench, the Banu Qurayza initially tried to remain neutral but eventually entered into negotiations with the besieging army, violating the pact they had agreed to years earlier.

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The Banu Qurayza eventually surrendered and their men were beheaded.

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Extant sources provide no conclusive evidence whether the Banu Qurayza were ethnically Jewish or Arab converts to Judaism.

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Just like the other Jews of Yathrib, the Banu Qurayza claimed to be of Israelite descent and observed the commandments of Judaism, but adopted many Arab customs and intermarried with Arabs.

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The Banu Nadir and the Banu Qurayza were allied with the Aws, while the Banu Qaynuqa sided with the Khazraj.

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Banu Qurayza appear as a tribe of considerable military importance: they possessed large numbers of weaponry, as upon their surrender 1,500 swords, 2,000 lances, 300 suits of armor, and 500 shields were later seized by the Muslims.

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Further, the blood money paid for killing a man of the Banu Qurayza was only half of the blood-money required for killing a man of the Nadir, placing the Banu Qurayza in a socially inferior position.

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In 624, after his victory over the Meccans in the Battle of Badr, Banu Qurayza Qaynuqa threatened Muhammad's political position and assaulted a Muslim woman which led to their expulsion from Medina for breaking the peace treaty of Constitution of Medina.

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The Banu Qurayza remained passive during the whole Qaynuqa affair, apparently because the Qaynuqa were historically allied with the Khazraj, while the Banu Qurayza were the allies of the Aws.

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Banu Qurayza had one of the Banu Nadir's chiefs, the poet Ka'b ibn al-Ashraf, assassinated and after the Battle of Uhud accused the tribe of treachery and plotting against his life and expelled them from the city.

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The Qurayza remained passive during this conflict, according to R B Serjeant because of the blood money issue related above.

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The Banu Qurayza did not participate in the fighting - according to David Norcliffe, because they were offended by attacks against Jews in Muhammad's preaching - but lent tools to the town's defenders.

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Nuaym went to the Banu Qurayza and advised them to join the hostilities against Muhammad only if the besiegers provide hostages from among their chiefs.

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Banu Qurayza then hurried to the invaders and warned them that if the Qurayza asked for hostages, it is because they intended to turn them over to the Medinan defenders.

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The representatives of the besiegers refused, breaking down negotiations and resulting in the Banu Qurayza becoming extremely distrustful of the besieging army.

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The Banu Qurayza did not take any actions to support them until the besieging forces retreated.

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The Banu Qurayza retreated into their stronghold and endured the siege for 25 days.

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The next morning, the Banu Qurayza surrendered and the Muslims seized their stronghold and their stores.

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Circumstances of the Banu Qurayza's demise have been related by Ibn Ishaq and other Muslim historians who relied upon his account.

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The Aws, who wanted to honor their old alliance with the Banu Qurayza, asked Muhammad to treat the Banu Qurayza leniently as he had previously treated the Qaynuqa for the sake of Ibn Ubayy.

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Muir holds that the Banu Qurayza surrendered on the condition that "their fate was decided by their allies, the Bani Aws".

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Banu Qurayza then decreed that "the men should be killed, the property divided, and the women and children taken as captives".

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Lings reports that Sa'ad feared that if expelled, the Banu Qurayza would join the Nadir in the fight against the Muslims.

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Some women and children of the Banu Qurayza who were enslaved by the Muslims were later bought by Jews, in particular the Banu Nadir.

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However, the proceedings of Muhammad with regard to the Banu Nadir and the Banu Qurayza were not taken as a model for the relationship of Muslim states toward its Jewish subjects.

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Paret and Watt say that the Banu Qurayza were killed not because of their faith but for "treasonable activities against the Medinan community".

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Fate of the Banu Qurayza became the subject of Shaul Tchernichovsky's Hebrew poem Ha-aharon li-Venei Kuraita.

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