The Battle of Khaibar
The banishment of the Jewish tribes of Banu Nadhir and Banu Qinaqa' from Medina had accentuated the animosity of the Jews towards the Muslims. These tribes had settled down at Khaibar at a distance of about eighty miles from Medina. "Khaibar" means: "fortified place". It was a Jewish stronghold comprised of seven fortresses: Naaim, Qamus (on a hill of the same name), Katiba, Shiqu, Natat, Watih and Sulalim, of which Qamus was the most fortified.
These tribes were instigating other tribes to join them in a conclusive assault upon the Muslims. The Battle of Ahzab was the first attempt in which the Jews had participated for the siege of the Muslims. The reverses they had suffered had not deterred them. Their chief, Usir ibn Razam, collected all the Jewish tribes and solicited the aid of Ghatfan for a final showdown. To demonstrate their strength, Ghatfan sent a posse, which captured twenty camels of the Prophet after killing their herdsman and capturing his wife.
The news of the preparation of the Jews was reaching Medina frequently. At last, the Holy Prophet decided to crush them before they could destroy the Muslims. It was the "near victory" foretold in the Sura of "Victory" revealed just after the truce of Hudaibiyah:
Indeed God was well pleased with the Believers when they swore allegiance to thee under the tree, and He knew what was in their hearts, so He sent down tranquility on them and rewarded them with a near victory. (Qur'an, 48:18)
By the middle of Muharram, 7 A.H., the Holy Prophet marched on Khaibar with 1,400 persons. In about seven days, six of the Jewish fortresses were overrun by the Muslims. Then Qamus was besieged. Abul Fida says the following in his book of history: (Tarikhu 'l-mukhtasar fi Akhbari 'l-basha):
In those days, the Prophet sometimes used to suffer from migraine. As a matter of chance, on the day he reached Khaibar, he suffered from the same. Abu Bakr, therefore, took the banner and went out to fight but returned unsuccessful. Then Umar took the standard and fought hard, more than his predecessor, but returned equally unsuccessful. When the Prophet came to know of these reversals, he said, "By Allah, tomorrow I will give the standard to a man who loves Allah and His Messenger and whom Allah and His Messenger love, one who is constant in onslaught and does not flee, one who will stand firm and will not return till victory is achieved." Having heard this, both the Immigrants and the Helpers aspired for the flag. When the day dawned, having said the morning prayer, the Prophet came and stood among his companions. Then he called for the banner. At that moment, every companion was engrossed in the hope and desire of getting the flag, while the Prophet called for 'Ali who was suffering from red eyes. The Prophet took some of his own saliva on his finger and applied it to 'Ali's eyes. The eyes were at once cured and the Prophet handed over the standard to him.
Shaikh 'Abdul-Haqq Muhaddith Dehlavi (traditionist) writes in his Madarijun-Nubuwwah as follows:
"Then 'Ali started with the flag in his hand and, reaching under the fort of Qamus, planted the standard on a rock. A Rabbi who was watching from the fort asked, 'O standard-bearer! Who are you?' 'Ali replied, 'I am 'Ali son of Abu Talib.' The Rabbi called unto his people, 'By the Torah, you will be defeated! This man will not go back without winning the battle."'
The author of Madarijun-Nubuwwah, states the following:
"Perhaps that Jew was well informed of 'Ali's valor and had seen his praises in the Torah."
He further states in his afore-mentioned book:
"Harith, brother of Marhab, first sallied forth from the fort with a huge spear whose point weighed about 3 mounds (a measure of weight, varying from a few lb. to 84 lb. according to the custom of the area). In his immediate attack, he killed a number of Muslim veterans. Then 'Ali proceeded towards him and dispatched him to hell. in one stroke. When Marhab was informed of his brother's plight, he rushed out of the fort accompanied by some of the bravest soldiers from the Khaibar garrison to avenge his brother's death. It is said that Marhab was the strongest, tallest, and the most fierce among the warriors of Khaibar and that none equalled him in his might. That day, he was armed twice over, wearing double armor with two swords dangling by his sides. He was also wearing two turbans with a helmet over and above. He marched ahead in the battlefield singing about his own valor. Nobody among the Muslims dared to fight him in the battlefield. 'Ali, therefore, darted out, reciting about his own valiance in response to Marhab's. Taking the initiative, Marhab attacked 'Ali with his sword. But 'Ali avoided the blow and rendered with Dhul-Fiqar such a forceful blow on Marhab's head that it cut through the latter's helmet, the double turban, the head, till it reached the man's throat. According to some narratives, it is said that he was cut up to his thigh, in others that it tore him into two parts upon the saddle. Marhab took his way to hell in two pieces. Then the Muslims under the command of 'Ali began fighting the Jews. 'Ali himself killed seven generals of the Jewish forces everyone of whom was considered to be most valiant. After these had been killed, the remnants of the Jewish troops ran helter-skelter towards their fort. 'Ali followed them in hot pursuit. In this rush, one Jew delivered a blow to 'Ali's hand wherein he carried his shield. The shield fell down. Another Jew picked it up and made good with his booty. This infuriated 'Ali, who was now strengthened with such a spiritual force and divine strength that he jumped across the moat and came straight to the door of the iron gate. He dislodged it from its hinges, held it up as a shield, and resumed fighting."
According to Ibn Hisham's Sirat, and according to Al-Tarikh al-Kamil and Abul Fida's Tarikh, Abu Rafi' is cited saying:
"When the Prophet gave the flag to 'Ali and bade him fight the forces of Khaibar, we, too, accompanied him. When 'Ali was a short distance from the fort, fighting all along, a Jew struck a blow on his hand with such a force that the shield 'Ali was holding fell down. 'Ali at once pulled out a part of the gate of Khaibar, held it up as a shield and fought till Allah granted him a clear victory. Once the fighting was over, he threw it away. It was so heavy that eight men from among us could hardly turn it over from one side to the other."
An agreement was reached with the Jews of Khaibar. Their lands and movable property were left in their hands. They were allowed to practice their religion freely. In return for the protection they would receive, they were required to pay the Muslims half the produce of their lands. The Prophet maintained the right to turn them out of their lands whenever he so decided. The battle of Khaibar is important as it put an end to the Jewish resistance and, for the first time, a non-Muslim people were made "Protected Persons" of the Muslim commonwealth.
On the same day, Ja.'far ibn Abi Talib returned from Ethiopia. The Holy Prophet said:
"I do not know on which blessing of Allah I should thank Him more: on the victory of Khaibar or on the return of Jaf'ar!"
The Holy Prophet then sent an expedition with 'Ali ibn Abi Talib to a Jewish tribe living in Fadak. Without any battle, they agreed to the same terms as the people of Khaibar had.
The income from Khaibar was for all Muslims in general, whereas the income from Fadak was exclusively for the Prophet because it was taken without any use of force. Jalaluddin al-Suyuti states in Ad-Durr al-Manthur on the authority of Bazaar, Abu Yaala and Ibn Abi Hatim who have taken the tradition from Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri that when the verse: Wa aati dhal-Qurba Haqqahu (Qur'an, Chap. 17, V. 26), ("and give thy kinsfolk their dues") was revealed, the Prophet gave the property of Fadak as a gift to Fatimah. Ibn 'Abbas has narrated that:
"When the verse And give thy kinsfolk their dues' was revealed, the Prophet assigned the Fadak property to Fatimah."
A Visit to Mecca
According to the terms of the treaty with the Meccans, the Muslims could visit Mecca the next year. Towards the end of the seventh year of Hijra (March 629 C.E.) the Prophet, accompanied by about two thousand Muslims, proceeded to Mecca to make the lesser pitgrimage (the 'umrah). The Quraish left their houses and watched the Muslims from their tents pitched on the heights- of the surrounding hills. After three days' sojourn, the Muslims retired strictly in accordance with the terms of the treaty.