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Medina, the Jewish City

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Sarah
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« on: May 12, 2007, 05:47:38 am »

Conflict with Meccans and Jews

In January of 623 Muhammad dispatched Obeida, son of Harith to lead another raiding party against a caravan passing along the Syria-to-Mecca trade route. As the caravan (led by Abu Sufyan) was watering in the valley of Rabigh, Muhammad's men fired volleys of arrows from a distance but did not inflict any damage. Obeida was given the honor of "he who shot the first arrow for Islam" as Abu Sufyan altered course to flee the highwaymen. In retaliation for this attack Abu Sufyan requested an armed force from Mecca who came and engaged in the Battle of Badr.

Throughout the winter and spring of 623 other raiding parties were sent by Muhammad from Medina but, while troublesome, were not particularly effective or destructive.

Muhammad's agreement with the Jewish tribes soon broke down, as the Jews would not accept Muhammad's claims to prophethood or his growing influence. After his victory at Badr, Muhammad besieged and conquered the tribe of the Banu Qaynuqa, that had been involved in a tribal feud and adamantly refused to convert to Islam or keep peace with the Muslims. Because of the intercession of Abdallah ibn Ubayy and because it was the first incident with the tribes, Muhammad spared tribe's lives and expelled them from the city.

In 625, Abu Sufyan once again led a Meccan force against Medina. Muhammad marched out to meet the force but before reaching the battle, about one third of the troops under Abdallah ibn Ubayy withdrew. Nevertheless the Muslims marched forth into battle and originally were somewhat successful in pushing the Meccans back. However, a strategic hill was lost which allowed the Meccans to come from behind the Muslims so they suffered defeat in the Battle of Uhud. However, the Meccans did not capitalize on their victory by invading Medina and so returned to Mecca.

Meanwhile, conflict with the Jews arose again: Muhammad had one of the Banu Nadir's chiefs, the poet Ka'b ibn al-Ashraf, assassinated for breaching the Constitution of Medina and after the battle of Uhud Muhammad accused the tribe of treachery and plotting against his life and expelled them from the city after a short fight.

In 627, the Abu Sufyan once more led Meccan forces against Medina. Because the people of Medina had dug a trench to further protect the city, this event became known as the Battle of the Trench. After a protracted siege and various skirmishes, the Meccans withdrew again. During the siege, Abu Sufyan had contacted the remaining Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayza and formed an agreement with them, to attack the defenders from behind the lines. It was however discovered by the Muslims and thwarted. This was in breach of the Constitution of Medina and after the Meccan withdrawal, Muhammad immediately marched against the Qurayza and laid siege to their strongholds. The Jews eventually surrendered. Some members of the Banu Aus now interceded on behalf of their old allies and Muhammad agreed to the appointment of one of their chiefs, Sa'ad ibn Mua'dh, as judge. Sa'ad judged that all male members of the tribe were killed and the women and children taken prisoner. That was the end of the Jews of Medina.

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