The Treachery of Jews of Medina and Justice by Jewish Law; Deut: 20:13-14
The Jewish tribe of the Banu Quraiza were counted among the citizens of Madinah and were bound by solemn engagements to help in the defence of the City. But on the occasion of the Confederate siege by the Quraish and their allies they intrigued with the enemies and treacherously aided them. Immediately after the siege was raised and the Confederates had fled in hot haste, the Prophet turned his attention to these treacherous “friends” who had betrayed his City in the hour of danger.
The Banu Quraiza [Jewish Arab tribe at Median] were filled with terror and dismay when Madinah was free from the Quraish danger. They shut themselves up in their castles about three or four miles to the east (or north east) of Madinah, and sustained a siege of 25 days, after which they surrendered, stipulating that they would abide by the decision of their fate at the hands of Sad ibn Mu’az, chief of the Aus tribe, with which they had been in alliance.
Sad ibn Sad applied to them the Jewish Law of the Old Testament, not as strictly as the case warranted. In Deut;20:10-18, the treatment of a city “which is very far off from thee” is prescribed to be comparatively more lenient than the treatment of a city “of those people, which the Lord thy God does give thee for an inheritance,” i.e., which is near enough to corrupt the religion of the Jewish people. The punishment for these is total annihilation: “thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth” (Deut;20:16). The more lenient treatment for far-off cities is described in the next note. According to the Jewish standard, then, the Banu Quraiza deserved total extermination-of men, women, and children. They were in the territory of Madinah itself, and further they had broken their engagements and helped the enemy.
Sad adjudged them the milder treatment of the “far-off” cities which is thus described in the Jewish Law: “Thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword: but the women and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself, and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the Lord thy God hath given thee” (Deut: 20:13-14). The men of the Quraiza were slain: the women were sold as captives of war; and their lands and properties were divided among the Muhijirs.
Khaibar is a Harrat or volcanic tract, well-watered with many springs issuing from its basaltic rocks. It has a good irrigation system and produces good harvests of grain and dates in its wet valleys, while the outcrop of rocks in the high ground affords sites for numerous fortresses. In the holy Prophet’s time there were Jewish colonies settled here, but they were a source of constant trouble especially after Siege of Madinah. It became a nest of all the hostile Jewish elements expelled for their treachery from elsewhere. Its capital, Khaibar, is about 90 miles due north of Madinah. Its inhabitants offered some resistance, and Hadhrat ‘Ali, though he had just risen from a bed of illness, performed prodigies of valour. After its surrender, a land settlement was made, which retained the cultivators of the soil on the land, but brought them under control, so that no further focus of active hostility should remain near Madinah. The terms of the settlement will be found in Waqidi.
[General reference in Qur’an;33:25-27]