The Battle of Khaibar
As we noted before, the Jews in Madinah were cooperating with the hypocrites and the polytheists against the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), his companions and his Islamic da'wah (call). Indeed the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) had to fight them three times in the places called Banu Nadhir, Banu Quraidah and Banu Quwainiqa' in order to frustrates their conspiracies.
The Jews had also incited the polytheists to attack Madinah and fight the Muslims in the battle of Khandaq or Ahzab in the fifth year of hijra.
Therefore on 7 A.H., in the month of Rajab, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), in order to rid Islam and Muslims of their evil plots and spying, decided to attack their six fortress cities in which they had assembled more than 20,000 fighters.
The Muslims forces took the outlying forts with ease, before laying siege to Fort Qamus, the impregnable Jewish stronghold, which was manned by their renowned champions.
Incidentally, Imam Ali, because of having sore eyes was left behind in Madinah.
During the siege, daily, a companion of the Prophet used to lead the attacks on the fort without achieving anything.
One day, the Prophet summoned Abu Bakr and gave him the standard of Islam with instructions to attack the fort. The latter and men under him suffered defeat and fled back to the Muslim camp, with Abu Bakr vigorously denouncing the people under him while they were just as vigorously blaming him for the failure. The next day, Umar ibn Khatab was given the standard, but he too, soon fled the battle scene accusing his followers of cowardice while they in turn were calling him coward. Then the Prophet (s.a.w.) uttered those famous words:
Tomorrow, I will entrust this standard to a man who is an intrepid attacker and who never flees. Who loves Allah and His Messenger and (in turn) is loved by Allah and the Messenger. Allah, the Glorious will deliver Khaibar at his hand. 82
All the companions wished to be the man that the Prophet described and spent the night hoping to have that honour.
The next day, to their surprise the Prophet asked:
Where is Ali bin Abi Talib? He was told that he had sore eyes.
Show him to me and you will show a man who loves Allah and His Messenger and whom Allah and His Messenger love. He takes things up in the right way and he will not flee. replied the Prophet.
Then Imam Ali came from Madinah, and the Prophet applied his saliva into the eyes of his beloved cousin and cured him with Allah's permission.
Take this standard and go forth with it till Allah grants victory to the Muslims through you. 83
Bukhari, the Hadith compiler, also narrates the events, by saying:
The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said at Khaibar: 'The next day I shall give the standard to a man through whom Allah will bring victory.' The companions spent the night asking each other: Who is this man whom the Holy Prophet meant? They came in the morning to the Messenger and every one of them was hoping that he would be the man of the standard. 'Where is Ali bin Abi Talib?' the Prophet asked. 'He is suffering from inflammation of the eyes,' they said. The Prophet sent for him. When Ali was brought to the Prophet he treated Ali's eyes with his blessed saliva and prayed for him. Ali's eyes cured instantly as if they had not been sore. On receiving the standard from the Prophet, Ali asked: 'O Messenger of Allah, shall I fight them until they become Muslims like us?' The Messenger said: 'Go on, until you reach their fortress. Invite them to Islam and inform them of their duty towards Allah and Islam. By Allah, if He guides one single soul through you to the right way, it would be better for you than to own a huge treasure.' 84
Then the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali set out with the standard until he reached the fortress. There, Marhab the leading Jewish warrior was rather surprised at the courage of the young Muslim standard-bearer, who unlike his predecessors of the past few days, was not showing any sing of nervousness, and seemed intent to challenge the Jewish champions to combat. Marhab, dad in heavy armour, at last charged out from the fort on his steed to test his skills with the new-comer. The dialogue which ensued between the two combatants will seem out of context here.
In short, after telling the Jewish warrior that his mother had named him 'Haider' (lion), Imam Ali exchanged blows with Marhab, and soon dispatched his wretched soul to hell, with one stroke of his famous sword 'Dhulfiqar', which cut man and his horse in two.
The Jewish force, seeing their champion fell rushed back to the fort and bolted its strong doors in face of the Muslim army. However, Imam Ali marched forth right up to the forth, and with a jerk of his strong hand tore down the gate from its binges, and fleeing it across the trench to be used as a bridge for the rejuvenated Muslim army. Thus, by the Grace of Allah, Khaibar was conquered by the Muslims, ending once and for all, Jewish power and intrigues in Arabia.
82. Al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah (Life of the Prophet), Ibn Hisham, vol. 3, p. 349, Beirut Edition, Dar Ihhya' al-Turath al-Arabi.
84. Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari, vol. 5, p.22, Beirut Edition, Dar Ihhya' al-Turath al-Arabi.
Adapted from the book: "Muhammad; The Messenger of Allah"
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