World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Invasion of Banu Qaynuqa

Article Id: WHEBN0032361658
Reproduction Date:

Title: Invasion of Banu Qaynuqa  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Siege, Caravan raids, Conquest of Fadak, Demolition of Dhul Khalasa, Expedition of Abu Sufyan ibn Harb
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Invasion of Banu Qaynuqa

Expedition of Safwan
Date 624 [1][2]
Location Yathrib [3]
Result Siege and surrender of Banu Qaynuqa.
Muslims of Mecca Banu Qaynuqa tribe [3]
Commanders and leaders
Muhammad Unknown
Unknown 700 [2]:209–10
Casualties and losses
Some revenge killings[4] Some revenge killings[4]

According to Islamic tradition, the invasion of Banu Qaynuqa,[5] also known as the expedition against Banu Qaynuqa,[6] occurred in 624 AD. The Banu Qaynuqa were a Jewish tribe expelled by the Islamic prophet Muhammad for allegedly breaking the treaty known as the Constitution of Medina[1][2]:209 by pinning the clothes of a Muslim woman, which lead to her being stripped naked. A Muslim killed a Jew in retaliation, and the Jews in turn killed the Muslim man. This escalated to a chain of revenge killings, and enmity grew between Muslims and the Banu Qaynuqa, leading to the siege of their fortress.[1][7][8]:122 The tribe eventually surrendered to Muhammad, who initially wanted to kill the members of Banu Qaynuqa but ultimately yielded to Abdullah ibn Ubayy's insistence and agreed to expel the Qaynuqa.[9]

Banu Qaynuqa

In the 7th century, the Banu Qaynuqa were living in two fortresses in the south-western part of the city of Yathrib, now Medina, having settled there at an unknown date. Although the Banu Qaynuqa bore mostly Arabic names, they were both ethnically and religiously Jewish. They owned no land and earned their living through commerce and craftsmanship, including goldsmithery.[3] Yathrib's marketplace was in the area of the town where the Qaynuqa lived.[10]:182 The Banu Qaynuqa were allied with the local Arab tribe of Khazraj and supported them in their conflicts with the rival Arab tribe of Aws.[3]

Background and reason for attack

In March 624, Muslims led by Muhammad defeated the Meccans of the Banu Quraish tribe in the Battle of Badr. According to Ibn Hisham, a dispute broke out between the Muslims and the Banu Qaynuqa (the allies of the Khazraj tribe) soon afterwards. When a Muslim woman visited a jeweler's shop in the Qaynuqa marketplace, she was pestered to uncover her face. The goldsmith, a Jew, pinned her clothing such, that upon getting up, she was stripped naked. A Muslim man coming upon the resulting commotion killed the shopkeeper in retaliation. The Jews in turn killed the Muslim man. This escalated to a chain of revenge killings, and enmity grew between Muslims and the Banu Qaynuqa.[7][8]:122[11]

The Jews of Medina became increasingly hostile to Muhammad because he claimed to be a Prophet, although a few Jews did convert to Islam. Of the three Jewish tribes, the Banu Nadir, Banu Qurayza and Banu Qaynuqa, the Banu Qaynuqa were the weakest, therefore Muhammad chose to confront them. The other tribes were much larger, whereas the Banu Qaynuqa had only 300 soldiers with armour, and 400 without.[12]


Traditional Muslim sources view these episodes as a violation of the Constitution of Medina.[1] Muhammad himself regarded this as casus belli.[2]:209 Western historians, however, do not find in these events the underlying reason for Muhammad's attack on the Qaynuqa. According to F.E. Peters, the precise circumstances of the alleged violation of the Constitution of Medina are not specified in the sources.[10]:218 According to Fred Donner, available sources do not elucidate the reasons for the expulsion of the Qaynuqa. Donner argues that Muhammad turned against the Qaynuqa because, as artisans and traders, they were in close contact with Meccan merchants.[13] Weinsinck views the episodes cited by the Muslim historians, such as the story of the Jewish goldsmith, as having no more than anecdotal value. He writes that the Jews had assumed a contentious attitude towards Muhammad, and as a group possessing substantial independent power, they posed a great danger. Wensinck thus concludes that Muhammad, strengthened by the victory at Badr, soon resolved to eliminate the Jewish opposition to himself.[3] Norman Stillman also believes that Muhammad decided to move against the Jews of Medina after being strengthened in the wake of the Battle of Badr.[8]:13

Shibli Nomani and Safiur Rahman al-Mubarakpuri (author of the The Sealed Nectar) view this response as a declaration of war.[7][14] According to the Muslim tradition, the verses 3:10-13 of the Qur'an were revealed to Muhammad following the exchange.[1] Muhammad then besieged the Banu Qaynuqa for fourteen[3] or fifteen days, according to ibn Hisham,[8]:123 after which the tribe surrendered unconditionally.[1][8]:123 It was certain, according to Watt, that there were some sort of negotiations. At the time of the siege, the Qaynuqa had a fighting force of 700 men, 400 of whom were armoured. Watt concludes that Muhammad could not have besieged such a large force so successfully if the Qaynuqa's allies did not whole-heartedly support Muhammad.[2]:209–10

After the surrender of Banu Qaynuqa, Abdullah ibn Ubayy, the chief of a section of the clan of Khazraj̲, pleaded for them.[15] According to Tabari, who cites Ibn Ishaq and Asim ibn Umar ibn Qatada in his chain of narrations:[16]

According to Michael Cook, Muhammad initially wanted to kill the members of Banu Qaynuqa but ultimately yielded to Abdullah's insistence and agreed to expel the Qaynuqa.[9] According to William Montgomery Watt, Abd-Allah ibn Ubayy attempted to stop the expulsion, and Muhammad's insistence was that the Qaynuqa must leave the city, but was prepared to be lenient about other conditions; Ibn Ubayy argued that the presence of the Qaynuqa with 700 fighting men might be helpful in view of the expected Meccan onslaught.[19][20] Maxime Rodinson states that Muhammad wanted to put all the men to death, but was convinced not to do so by Abdullah ibn Ubayy, who was an old ally of the Qaynuqa.[21] Because of this interference and other episodes of his discord with Muhammad, Abdullah ibn Ubayy earned for himself the title of the leader of hypocrites (munafiqun) in the Muslim tradition.[15][8]:13,123


The Banu Qaynuqa left first for the Jewish colonies in the Wadi al-Kura, north of Medina, and from there to Der'a in Syria,[3] west of Salkhad. In the course of time, they assimilated with the Jewish communities, pre-existing in that area, strengthening them numerically.[22]

Muhammad divided the property of the Banu Qaynuqa, including their arms and tools, among his followers, taking for himself a fifth share of the spoils for the first time. Some members of the tribe chose to stay in Medina and convert to Islam, possibly more out of opportunism than conviction. One man from the Banu Qaynuqa, Abdullah ibn Salam, became a devout Muslim. Although some Muslim sources claim that he converted immediately after Muhammad’s arrival to Medina, modern scholars give more credence to the other Muslim sources, which indicate that 8 years later, 630, as the year of ibn Salam’s conversion.[3]

Islamic primary sources

Quran 8:58, 3:118, 3:12

The Quran verse 8:58 is reportedly related to this event. It states:[23]

Ibn Kathir interprets the verse as saying that if non-Muslims broke their treaties with Muslims, then Muslims should break theirs.[24]

Muhammad reportedly asked the Jews to pay the tribute (Jizyah), but they refused and instead taunted Muhammad by claiming his God is poor. Islamic tradition says that the Quran verse 3:118 was revealed because of the comments.[25][26] It states:

The verse states not to take non-Muslims as "Bitanah", which has been interpreted as meaning, advisors, consultants, protectors, helpers and friends.[27]

Quran 3:12 and 3:13 is also related to this event.[28] It states:

Ibn Kathir says about this verse, that after Muhammad "gained victory in the battle of Badr and went back to Al-Madinah, he gathered the Jews in the marketplace of Bani Qaynuqa`" then, the verse was revealed.[29]


The event is mentioned in the Sunni Hadith collection, Sahih Muslim. It states:

Other primary sources

The event is also mentioned by the Muslim Scholar Ibn Sa'd in his book "Kitab al-tabaqat al-kabir", as follows:


  1. ^ a b c d e f Sirat Rasul Allah [The Life of Muhammad], transl. Guillaume, p. 363 
  2. ^ a b c d e Watt (1956), Muhammad at Medina .
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Wensinck, AJ, "Kaynuka, banu",  .
  4. ^ a b Mubarakpuri, The Sealed Nectar, pp.149-150. (online)
  5. ^ Mubarakpuri, Saifur Rahman Al (2005), Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum, Darussalam Publications, p. 117 
  6. ^ Mubarakpuri, Saifur Rahman Al (2002), When the Moon Split, DarusSalam, p. 159,  
  7. ^ a b c Mubarakpuri, Saifur Rahman Al (2005), The sealed nectar: biography of the Noble Prophet, Darussalam Publications, p. 284,  
  8. ^ a b c d e f Stillman, The Jews of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book .
  9. ^ a b Cook, Michael, Muhammad, p. 21 .
  10. ^ a b Peters, Muhammad and the Origins of Islam .
  11. ^ Guillaume 363, ibn Kathir 2
  12. ^ Gabriel, Richard A (2008), Muhammad, Islam's first general, University of Oklahoma Press, p. 104,  
  13. ^ Donner, Muhammad's Political Consolidation in Arabia up to the Conquest of Mecca, pp. 231–2 .
  14. ^ Nomani 90-91
  15. ^ a b William Montgomery Watt. "Abd Allah b. Ubayy b. Salul." Encyclopaedia of Islam
  16. ^ M. V. (Michael V.) McDonald, William Montgomery Watt, The history of al-Tabari, p. 86
  17. ^ Tabari, Al (2008), The foundation of the community, State University of New York Press, p. 86,  
  18. ^ Haykal, Husayn (1976), The Life of Muhammad, Islamic Book Trust, p. 264,  
  19. ^ Watt, Muhammad the prophet and statesman, p. 131.
  20. ^ William Montgomery Watt. "Abd Allah b. Ubayy b. Salul." Encyclopaedia of Islam.
  21. ^ Rodinson, Muhammad, p. 173 .
  22. ^ Ben-Zvi, The Exiled and the Redeemed, p. 147.
  23. ^ Sāzmān-i Tablīghāt-i Islāmī (1987), Al-Tawḥīd 5, Tehran, Iran: Islamic Propagation Organization, International Relations Dept, p. 86 
  24. ^ Ismāʻīl ibn ʻUmar Ibn Kathīr, Ṣafī al-Raḥmān Mubārakfūrī, Tafsir Ibn Kathir 4, Darussalam, p. 342,  
  25. ^  
  26. ^ Abū Khalīl, Shawqī (2003). Atlas of the Quran. Dar-us-Salam. p. 248.  
  27. ^ Abū Khalīl, Shawqī (2003). Atlas of the Quran. Dar-us-Salam. p. 253.  
  28. ^ Francis E. Peters (1993). A Reader on classical Islam. Princeton University Press. p. 78.  
  29. ^  
  30. ^ Sa'd, Ibn (1967). Kitab al-tabaqat al-kabir 2. Pakistan Historical Society. p. 32.  


  • Encyclopaedia of Islam. Ed. P. Bearman et al., Leiden: Brill, 1960–2005.
  • Guillaume, A. The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah. Oxford University Press, 1955. ISBN 0-19-636033-1
  • Donner, Fred M.. "Muhammad's Political Consolidation in Arabia up to the Conquest of Mecca". Muslim World 69: 229–47, 1979.
  • Firestone, Reuven. Jihad: The Origin of Holy War in Islam. Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-19-512580-0
  • Ben-Zvi, Yitzhak. The Exiled and the Redeemed. Jewish Publication Society, 1957
  • Peters, Francis E. Muhammad and the Origins of Islam. State University of New York Press, 1994. ISBN 0-7914-1875-8
  • Stillman, Norman. The Jews of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1979. ISBN 0-8276-0198-0
  • Watt, W. Montgomery. Muhammad, Prophet and Statesman, Oxford University Press.
  • Mubarakpuri, Safi ur-Rahman (1996).  
  • Mubarakpuri, Safi ur-Rahman (1996).  
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.