Khaibar was a spacious strongly fortified territory, studded with castles and farms, lying at a distance of 60-80 miles north of Madinah, now a village known for its uncongenial climate. After Al-Hudaibiyah Treaty, the major party of the anti-Islam tripartite coalition — Quraish, the bedouin horde of Najd tribes and the Jews — was neutralized, therefore, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) deemed it an appropriate time to settle his affairs with the other two wings — the Jews and the Najd tribes — in order that peace and security could prevail and the Muslims may devote their time and effort in propagating the Message of Allâh and calling people to embrace it. Khaibar itself had always remained a hotbed of intrigue and conspiracy, and the Jews had always constituted it a source of military provocations and war instigation centre, so it was given a top priority on the agenda of the Prophet’s compelling exigencies. The Jews of Khaibar had united by an ancient alliance with the Confederates, triggered Bani Quraiza to practise treachery, maintained contacts with Ghatfan and the Arabians and they even devised an attempt at the Prophet’s life. In fact, the continual afflictions that the Muslims had sustained were primarily attributable to the Jews. Envoys were repeatedly sent to them for peaceful settlement, but all in vain. Consequently the Prophet (Peace be upon him) came to the conclusion that a military campaign was a must in order to forestall their hostilities.
Interpreters of the Noble Qur’ân suggest that capturing Khaibar had been a Divine promise implied in Allâh’s Words:
“Allâh has promised you abundant spoils that you will capture, and He has hastened for you this.” [48:20]
i.e., Al-Hudaibiyah Peace Treaty and the surrender of Khaibar.
The hypocrites and people weak oheart had hung back from joining the true Muslims in Al-Hudaibiyah campaigns, so now Allâh, the All-Mighty inculcated the following words in His Prophet’s ears:
“Those who lagged behind will say, when you set forth to take the spoils, ‘Allow us to follow you.’ They want to change Allâh’s Words. Say: ‘You shall not follow us; thus Allâh has said beforehand.’ Then they will say: ‘Nay, you envy us.’ Nay, but they understand not except a little.” [48:15]
For this reason, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) invited only those who were willing to fight in the cause of Allâh to accompany him in his march against Khaibar. 1400 men only, who had sworn allegiance in response to his call.
Meanwhile, Siba‘ bin ‘Arfatah Al-Ghifari was chosen to run the affairs of Madinah. Another incident of high significance is noteworthy, namely the Islamization of Abu Huraira, a venerable Muslim scholar and an authentic narrator of the Prophetic traditions.
The hypocrites of Arabia took notice of the fresh Islamic intentions so they began to alert the Jews to the imminent military activities. Their chief, ‘Abdullah bin Ubai delegated an envoy to the Jews of Khaibar warning them against the dangers approaching, and nerving them to resist the Muslims as they outnumbered the latter and were better equipped. On hearing the news the Jews despatched Kinanah bin Abi Al-Huqaiq and Haudha bin Qais to their former allies, the tribe of Ghatfan requesting military assistance, promising to grant them half the yield of the fruit that their farms could yield if they managed to beat the Muslims.
The Prophet marched by way of Isra Mountain and then went forward with the army till he halted in a valley called Ar-Raji‘, encamping between Khaibar and Ghatfan so as to prevent the latter from reinforcing the Jews. The guides accompanying him led him to an intersection from which branched out three roads with different designations; all leading to his destination. He abstained from following the first two roads on grounds of their ominous designation and chose the third for its propitious indications.
It is noteworthy that some interesting incidents featured the Muslims’ march towards Khaibar; of which we mention the following: