We have already spoken about the disgraceful behaviour of the Jews and how they were always thirsting to shed the blood of the Muslims and undermine the cause of Islam despite all the covenants and pledges they had given to the Prophet (Peace be upon him). Their behaviour fluctuated between resignation and slackness after the Banu Qainuqa‘ event and the murder of Ka‘b bin Al-Ashraf, and rebellion coupled with treacherous clandestine contacts with Quraish and the hypocrites in order to establish an alliance against the Muslims after the battle of Uhud. Being inexperienced in war tactics, they resorted to conspiracy and intrigue hatching. They first of all declared open hatred and enmity, and chose to play all sorts of tricks that might harm the Muslims, but were very careful not to initiate any sort of hostilities that might involve them in open war.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him), on his part, exercised the highest degree of patience with them but they went too far in their provocative deeds, especially after Ar-Raji‘ and Ma‘una Well events; they even made an attempt on his life.
Once the Prophet (Peace be upon him) with some of his Companions set out to see Banu Nadeer and seek their help in raising the blood-money he had to pay to Bani Kalb for the two men that ‘Amr bin Omaiyah Ad-Damari had killed by mistake. All of that was in accordance with the clauses of the treaty that both parties had already signed. On hearing his story they said they would share in paying the blood-money and asked him and his Companions Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Ali and others to sit under a wall of their houses and wait. The Jews held a short private meeting and conspired to kill the Prophet (Peace be upon him). The most wicked among them, ‘Amr bin Jahsh, volunteered to climb up the wall and drop a large millstone on his head. One of them, Salam bin Mashkam, cautioned them against perpetrating such a crime, predicting that Allâh would divulge their plot to him, and added that such an act would constitute a manifest violation of the pact concluded with the Muslims.
In fact, Gabriel did come down to reveal to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) their wicked criminal intention, so he, with his Companions, hurried off back to Madinah. On their way, he told his Companions of the Divine Revelation.
Soon after, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) delegated Muhammad bin Maslamah to communicate an ultimatum to Bani Nadeer to the effect that they should evacuate Madinah within ten days, otherwise, their heads would be cut off. The chief of the hypocrites, ‘Abdullah bin Ubai, urged the Jews not to pay heed to the Prophet ’s words and to stay in their habitations, offering to run to their support with two thousands of his followers, and assuring them of help to come from Quraizah tribe and former allies Banu Ghatfan. In this regards, Allâh says:
“If you are expelled, we (too) indeed will go out with you, and we shall never obey anyone against you, and if you are attacked (in fight), we shall indeed help you.” [59:11]
The Jews regained their confidence and were determined to fight. Their chief Huyai bin Akhtab relied hopefully on what the chief of the hypocrites said. So he sent to the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) saying: “We will not leave our houses. Do whatever you like to do.”
Undoubtedly the situation was awkward for the Muslims. Launching a war against their opponents at this critical stage could entail terrible far reaching ramifications in the light of the unfavourable conditions they were passing through, besides the hostile environment growing in power and hatred around them, the harbinger of which assumed the form of killing the Muslim missions, as it has been already introduced.
The Jews of Bani Nadeer were also a power to count for, and the prospects of inflicting a military defeat on them was precarious; consequently forcing them into war engagement would be attended with unpredictable risks. On the other hand, the continual state of repeated assassinations and acts of treachery carried out against the Muslims individually and collectively brought about unbearable headache to Muhammad ’s followers. Having judged all the prevalent status quo in this perspective, and in the light of the disgraceful attempt on thlife of the Prophet (Peace be upon him), the Muslims made the decisive decisions of taking up arms whatever turn the consequences could assume.
When the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) received the reply of Huyai bin Akhtab he said: “Allâhu Akbar, Allâhu Akbar.” (Allâh is the Greatest of all) and his Companions repeated after him. Then he set out to fight them after appointing Ibn Umm Maktum to dispose the affairs of Madinah during his absence. The standard was entrusted to ‘Ali bin Abi Talib. He laid siege to their forts for six nights — in another version, fifteen.
Banu Nadeer resorted to their castles, mounted them and started shooting arrows and pelting stones at the Muslims enjoying the strategic advantage that their thick fields of palm trees provided. The Muslims were therefore ordered to fell and burn those trees. In this respect, Allâh, the All-Mighty, states in the Qur’ân:
“What you (O Muslims) cut down of the palm-trees (of the enemy), or you left them standing on their stems, it was by leave of Allâh.” [59:5]
Quraizah tribe remained neutral, and the hypocrite ‘Abdullah bin Ubai as well as Ghatfan failed to keep their promises of support. In this regard Allâh says:
“(Their allies deceived them) like Satan, when he says to man: ‘Disbelieve in Allâh.’ But when (man) disbelieves in Allâh, Satan says: ‘I am free of you.’” [59:16]
The siege did not last long for Allâh, the All-Mighty, cast horror into the hearts of the Jews, and they willingly offered to comply with the Prophet ’s order and leave Madinah. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) accepted their request and allowed them to carry as much luggage as their camels could lift, arms were excepted. Of course, they had no choice but to carry out the orders, so they took with them everything they could carry even the pegs and beams of ceilings. Their caravan counted 600 loaded camels including their chiefs, Huyai bin Akhtab and Salam bin Abi Al-Huqaiq, who left for Khaibar whereas another party shifted to Syria. Two of them embraced Islam, Yameen bin ‘Amr and Abu Sa‘d bin Wahab, and so they retained their personal wealth.
The Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) seized their weapons, land, houses, and wealth. Amongst the other booty he managed to capture, there were 50 armours, 50 helmets, and 340 swords.
This booty was exclusively the Prophet ’s because no fighting was involved in capturing it. He divided the booty at his own discretion among the early Emigrants and two poor Helpers, Abu Dujana and Suhail bin Haneef. Anyway the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) spent a portion of this wealth on his family to sustain their living the year around. The rest was expended to provide the Muslim army with equipment for further wars in the way of Allâh.
The invasion of Bani An-Nadeer took place in Rabi‘ Al-Awwal, 4 A.H. i.e. in August 625 A.D. Almost all the verses of Sûrah Al-Hashr (Chapter 59 - The Gathering) describe the banishment of the Jews and reveal the disgraceful manners of the hypocrites. The verses manifest the rules relevant to the booty. In this Chapter, Allâh, the All-Mighty, praises the Emigrants and Helpers. This Chapter also shows the legitimacy of cutting down and burning the enemy’s land and trees for military purposes. Such acts cannot be regarded as phenomena of corruption so long that they are in the way of Allâh.
In this very Chapter, Allâh recommends the believers to be pious and prepare themselves for the world to come and He ends it with a compliment upon Himself and a manifestation of His Holy Names and Attributes.
As this Chapter concentrates on Bani An-Nadeer and their banishment, Ibn ‘Abbas used to describe it as ‘An-Nadeer Chapter’.