Battle of Khaybar

Battle of Khaybar

The Battle of Khaybar (خَيبَر) is one of the significant events of the year 7 AH. After breaching the Hudaybiyyah (حُديبِيَّة) peace treaty, the Jews were exiled to Medina where they built a base in a place called Khaybar and became a threat to Islam. In this article, we will look at the following topics:

A Glimpse at the Battle of Khaybar

  • After discovering the acts of sabotage of the Jews of Khaybar, Prophet Muhammad mobilized an army and moved toward their fortresses. The Jews had ten fortresses that were captured one after another. However, capturing the last fortress became difficult and lowered the morale of the Muslims.
  • After several companions of the Prophet failed to capture the main fortress of Khaybar, Ali came forward to fight the famous Jewish champion and brought him to his knees. Then, he broke the door of the fortress of Khaybar with his bare hands and captured the main fortress of the Jews and gained the Muslims a glorious and total victory.
  •  The Noble Prophet allowed the Jews to live their lives and pay half of their goods and products as jizya (جِزيَة), a special tax, to the Islamic government.
  • After the news of the defeat of the Jews of Khaybar and the gentle treatment of the Prophet toward them spread, the Jews living in the Northern parts of the Hejaz such as Fadak, sent a group of people to the Prophet to send their message of seeking peace with Muslims.

The Great Base of the Jews

One of the biggest threats to Islam, was the Jewish base who were against Islam. Therefore, the Prophet must have confronted them. Three Jewish tribes of Banī Qaynuqā‘ (بَني قَينُقاع), Banī Naḍīr (بَني نَضير), and Banī Qurayẓah (بَني قُرَيظَة) breached the treaty of living together with the Muslims in peace and were therefore exiled from Medina. Banī Naḍīr went to Khaybar and after a while they took control of that region. Prior to this, the Jews of Khaybar did not have any conflict with the Muslims. However, Banī Naḍīr who bore a grudge against Islam turned Khaybar into a great base for antagonizing Islam and confronting the government in Medina. One of the results of this was creating a great coalition and fighting the Battle of Trench (Khandaq: خَندَق).

The Prophet’s Measures to Prevent the Battle of Khaybar

To prevent confrontation with Jews of Khaybar, the Prophet of Allah took some preventative measures. One of the things his holiness did was dispatching Abdullah ibn Rawahah (عبدالله ابن رواحة) to Khaybar. He was charged with preventing the chief of Khaybar from antagonizing Islam and leading him to the path of peace and reconciliation with Islam. The Prophet had sent him a message saying, “If you do not antagonize Islam, we will officially recognize you as the chief of Khaybar.”

Initially, the chief of Khaybar was influenced by the Prophet’s message and went to Medina along with thirty people from among the people of Khaybar accompanied by Abdullah ibn Rawahah and his men. However, on the way, he changed his mind and even wanted to kill Abdullah. Abdullah found out about his intention and reacted so far as the chief of Khaybar and his men were killed. This caused the Jews of Khaybar to hate the Muslims and they tried their best to destroy Islam. One of the things they did was allying themselves with the Jews of Fadak. Before the Jews of Fadak could do anything, the Prophet sent Ali along with an army to Fadak. Ali bravely went into the heart of the enemy such that the Jews of that region did not even have the chance to get ready for battle and all of them fled. Ali was able to take full control over Fadak and prevented the Jews of Fadak from going to Khaybar.

The Battle of Khaybar Begins

From that moment onwards, more news of anti-Islamic activities of Jews reached the Prophet of God. When his holiness became certain that they want to confront Islam, he did not give them a chance and before they could do anything, he mobilized an army and marched toward Khaybar. The Muslims followed this long path with such a good plan that the Jews did not become aware of their movement.

The region of Khaybar consisted of ten fortresses that had passages to each other from under the ground. It was night when the Muslims reached the first fortress. The Jews who were unaware of the Muslims’ deployment, came out of their fortresses in the morning and were about to go to their farms when they were faced with the army of Islam. They were filled with fear and quickly went back to the fortresses.

Infiltrating the Fortresses of Khaybar

The defenses and architecture of the fortresses were such that the Muslims did not have the equipment to infiltrate them. Therefore, they laid siege to the fortresses and were looking for an opportunity to capture them. The Jews would climb the fortress walls and fire arrows at the Muslims. A few Muslims were wounded by these arrows and thus the Prophet commanded the army to move back a little so that they would be outside the enemy’s firing range. The Muslim army were still looking for a way to infiltrate the fortresses of Khaybar until they were able to detain one of the Jews. In order for his life to be spared, he willingly showed the Muslims the way of infiltrating one of the fortresses.

The Muslims entered the fortress from that way and defeated its guards and the fortress was captured. In this fortress, they found a catapult that they used to destroy the walls of the other fortresses, and therefore they captured the other fortresses one after another. However, the main fortress remained intact and all those who had fled sought refuge in it.

The Main Fortress of Khaybar

The main fortress of Khaybar had very strong defenses and it was not possible to destroy it with a catapult. The Prophet sent two of his prominent companions to fight one of the champions among the Jews named Marhab Khaybary (مرحب خيبري). He was a very strong man and had a helmet that resembled a crown with a large gem in the middle of it that was the size of an egg. Those two companions retreated after seeing Marhab’s might. This was when the Prophet said:

أُعْطِیَنَّ الرَّایَهَ غَداً رَجُلًا یُحِبُّ اللّهَ وَ رَسُولَهُ وَ یُحِبُّهُ اللّهُ وَ رَسُولُهُ کَرَّارٌ غَیْرُ فَرَّارٍ یُفْتَحُ عَلَى یَدِهِ بِالنَّصْر

“Tomorrow, I will give the flag to a man who loves Allah and His Messenger, and Allah and His Messenger loves him. He attacks without ever fleeing. Victory is in his hands.”

The Unprecedented Gallantry of Imam Ali in the Battle of Khaybar

The Muslims were waiting to see who the Prophet would give the flag to. The next day, the Prophet called Ali and gave him the flag. Before the army could come to their senses Ali launched an attack on the enemy fortress. One of the companions of the Prophet shouted, “O Ali, wait until we reach you!” Ali said, “I’m gone. You come after me.” Ali went to the door of the fortress. Marhab Khaybari who thought Ali is like the ones before him and is no match for him, came out of the fortress and started fighting Ali. Ali struck his head so hard that his helmet and the gem split into half. Then Marhab’s brother came to fight and Ali also defeated him.

The Door of Khaybar

The Jews who witnessed a completely different scenario quickly went inside the fortress and closed its door. The Jews had taken the same measures the Muslims had taken in the Battle of Trench. They had dug trenches all around the fortress and had built a very fortified door for it. This door was designed in such a way that after being opened, it would be placed on a trench and people would walk on it to enter and exit the fortress. At times of danger and at night, they would close the door. Therefore, there were two obstacles in the way of reaching the fortress; first, the trench, and second, the great door.

After those two Jewish champions were defeated, Ali rode his horse and jumped from one side of the trench to the other side next to the door of Khaybar. By the grace and miracle of Allah, he was able to grab and open the door of Khaybar with his bare hands and placed it on the trench. The Muslim army who had just reached the fortress went inside the fortress and defeated the Jews completely. This great victory that was achieved with the gallantry of Ali, weakened the political and military status of the Jews in the Arabian Peninsula.

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The Prophet’s Compassion Toward the Jews of Khaybar

After this victory, the Noble Prophet was kind to the Jews and neither took any of them captive nor killed them. He let them return to their day to day lives. It was only determined that half of their products be paid to the Islamic government as a special tax paid by non-Muslims known as jizya. The Jews considered this act to be very merciful and accepted to pay the tax. After the news of the defeat of the Jews of Khaybar and the Prophet’s compassion toward them spread, other Jews living in other regions such as Fadak went to the Prophet and sent their message of peace. They even offered the Prophet to give half of the land of Fadak to the Prophet, which his holiness accepted.

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Abu Mahdi
Abu Mahdi
I'm Abu Mahdi, one of the writers of this blog. I have a BA in English literature and an MA in English language teaching. I am also a teacher and reciter of the Quran in the field of reading the Quran, tajweed, and maqamat. Currently, we are working on a course for learning tajweed of the Quran here on Islam4u.

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