Demise of The Banu Qurayza
The circumstances of the Qurayza's demise has been related by Ibn Ishaq and other Muslim historians. According to Watt, Peters and Stillman, the Qurayza surrendered to Muhammad's judgement - a move Watt classifies as unconditional. The Aws, who wanted to honor their old alliance with the Qurayza, asked Muhammad to treat the Qurayza leniently as he had previously treated the Qaynuqa for the sake of Ibn Ubayy. (Arab custom required support of an ally, independent of the ally's conduct to a third party.) Muhammad then suggested to bring the case before an arbitrator chosen from the Aws, to which both the Aws and the Qurayza agreed. Muhammad then appointed Sa'd ibn Mua'dh (a chief among the Aws) to decide the fate of the Jewish tribe. According to Hashmi, Buchanan and Moore, the tribe agreed to surrender on the condition of a Muslim arbitrator of their choosing. According to Khadduri (also cited by Abu-Nimer), "both parties agreed to submit their dispute to a person chosen by them" in accordance with the Arabian tradition of arbitration. Muir holds that the Qurayza surrendered on the condition that "their fate was decided by their allies, the Bani Aws".
In all accounts, the appointed arbitrator was Sa'd ibn Mua'dh, a leading man among the Aws. During the Battle of the Trench, he had been one of Muhammad's emissaries to the Quarayza (see above) and now was dying from a wound he had received later in the battle. When Sa'd arrived, his fellow Aws pleaded for leniency towards the Qurayza and on his request pledged that they would abide by his decision. He then decreed the sentence according to the Torah, declaring that "the men should be killed, the property divided, and the women and children taken as captives". Muhammad approved of the ruling, calling it similar to "God's" judgment. Chirāgh ʼAlī (1885) argues that this statement may have referred to "king" or "ruler" rather than God.
Sa'd dismissed the pleas of the Aws, according to Watt because being close to death and concerned with his afterlife, he put what he considered "his duty to God and the Muslim community" before tribal allegiance. Tariq Ramadan argues that Muhammad deviated from his earlier, more lenient treatment of prisoners as this was seen "as sign of weakness if not madness", Peterson concurs that the Muslims wanted to deter future treachery by setting an example with severe punishment. Lings reports that Sa'ad feared that if expelled, the Qurayza would join the Nadir in the fight against the Muslims.
Stillman claims that Muhammad chose Sa'd so as not to pronounce the judgment himself, after the precedents he had set with the Banu Qaynuqa and the Banu Nadir: "Sa`d took the hint and condemned the adult males to death and the hapless women and children to slavery." Furthermore, Stillman infers from Abu Lubaba's gesture that Muhammad had decided the fate of the Qurayza even before their surrender.
Ibn Ishaq describes the killing of the Banu Qurayza men as follows:
|“||Then they surrendered, and the apostle confined them in Medina in the quarter of d. al-Harith, a woman of B. al-Najjar. Then the apostle went out to the market of Medina (which is still its market today) and dug trenches in it. Then he sent for them and struck off their heads in those trenches as they were brought out to him in batches. Among them was the enemy of Allah Huyayy b. Akhtab and Ka`b b. Asad their chief. There were 600 or 700 in all, though some put the figure as high as 800 or 900. As they were being taken out in batches to the apostle they asked Ka`b what he thought would be done with them. He replied, 'Will you never understand? Don't you see that the summoner never stops and those who are taken away do not return? By Allah it is death!' This went on until the apostle made an end of them. Huyayy was brought out wearing a flowered robe in which he had made holes about the size of the finger-tips in every part so that it should not be taken from him as spoil, with his hands bound to his neck by a rope. When he saw the apostle he said, 'By God, I do not blame myself for opposing you, but he who forsakes God will be forsaken.' Then he went to the men and said, 'God's command is right. A book and a decree, and massacre have been written against the Sons of Israel.' Then he sat down and his head was struck off.||”|
Several accounts note Muhammad's companions as executioners, Ali and Al-Zubayr in particular, and that each clan of the Aws was also charged with killing a group of Qurayza men. Subhash Inamdar argues that this was done in order to avoid the risk of further conflicts between Muhammad and the Aws. According to Inamdar, Muhammad wanted to distance himself from the events and, had he been involved, he would have risked alienating some of the Aws.
It is also reported that one woman, who had thrown a millstone from the battlements during the siege and killed one of the Muslim besiegers, was also beheaded along with the men. Ibn Asakir writes in his History of Damascus that the Banu Kilab, a clan of Arab clients of the Banu Qurayza, were killed alongside the Jewish tribe.
Three boys of the clan of Hadl, who had been with Qurayza in the strongholds, slipped out before the surrender and converted to Islam. The son of one of them, Muhammad ibn Ka'b al-Qurazi, gained distinction as a scholar. One or two other men also escaped.
The spoils of battle, including the enslaved women and children of the tribe, were divided up among the Islamic warriors that had participated in the siege and among the emigrees from Mecca (who had hitherto depended on the help of the Muslims native to Medina.
Mohammad collected one-fifth of the booty, the amount which then is paid as Islamic tax to be distributed to the poor and needy.
As part of his share of the spoils, Muhammad selected one of the women, Rayhana, for himself and took her as part of his booty. Muhammad offered to free and marry her and according to some sources she accepted his proposal, while according to others she rejected it and remained the Prophet's slave and concubine. She is said to have later become a Muslim.
Some of the women and children of the Banu Qurayza who were enslaved by the Muslims were later bought by Jews, in particular the Banu Nadir. Peterson argues that this is because the Nadir felt responsible for the Qurayza's fate due to the role of their chieftain in the events.
Read more about this topic: Banu Qurayza