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"Discover the Truth's" Game

The Banu Qaynuqa

From Discover the Truth:

They violated the pact, killed, and declared war against the Muslims.
(March 13, 2016)

What the Apologists Want You to Believe

The Banu Qaynuqa were one of the existing Jewish tribes in Medina prior to Muhammad's arrival.  Since everyone agrees that they were the first to be defeated and evicted, DTT insists that they were deserving of their fate because they "sided" with another party against the Muslims and "killed" Muslims. As they put it, "the Prophet had no choice but to exile Banu Qaynuqa criminals" (in fact, he exiled the entire tribe).

What They Offer as Proof

DTT quotes from five historians, each of whom seems to be repeating what the one before says.  The earliest is probably Ibn Ishaq's account, since the next most reliable account (Kitab Futuh al-Buldan) directly references it.  One of their sources, al-Waqidi, is widely regarded as a fabricator.

Each of the accounts say rather simply that the Jews of Qaynuqa were the "first" to violate the agreement.  Ibn Ishaq adds that they went "to war."  There is no mention of a third party, much less what DTT contends is "proof the Banu Qaynuqa sided with an enemy against the Muslims".

What They Leave Out and Why They are Wrong

History is written by the winners.  Where it isn't written, it's probably reasonable to assume that it isn't supportive or flattering.  It is quite telling that there is no detail provided, either in the Sira or sahih Hadith explaining how the Qaynuqa "went to war" or "took up arms" against the Muslims.

None of these accounts say that the Qaynuqa killed Muslims.  None even name a third party, much less say that the Qaynuqa took sides against the Muslims in a battle.  In fact, the tribe seem to have been on friendly terms with other Muslims, such as Abd Allah b. Ubayy, whose life they saved.

Tabari, whom DTT quotes as proof that the Qaynuqa 'violated' the agreement actually uses a word that can be interpreted as 'disagree.'  This is important because the full account offered in his work suggests that Muhammad required that he be recognized as a prophet, and they refused:
What happened with regard to the Banu Qaynuqa' was that the Messenger of God assembled them in the Market of the Banu Qaynuqa' and said, "0 Jews, beware lest God bring on you the like of the retribution which he brought on Quraysh. Accept Islam, for you know that I am a prophet sent by God. You will find this in your scriptures and in God's covenant with you." They replied, "Muhammad, do you think that we are like your people? Do not be deluded by the fact that you met a people with no knowledge of war and that you made good use of your opportunity. By God, if you fight us you will know that we are real men!" (Tabari v.7 p.85)
Further evidence against DTT's assertion of a third party is Tabari's statment that they "took up arms between Badr and Uhud" (the two battles fought with the Quraish).

So why did they "take up arms?"

Here is how Tabari explains it:
According to Al-Zuhri-'Urwah : Gabriel [the angel] brought the following verse down to the Messenger of God : "And if thou fearest treachery from any folk, then throw back to them their treaty fairly. "'When Gabriel had finished delivering this verse, the Messenger of God said, "I fear the Banu Qaynuga'." 'Urwah says: It was on the basis of this verse that the Messenger of God advanced upon them. (Tabari v.7 p.86
Hmmm...  An angel tells Muhammad that if he simply fears treachery then it's OK to break the treaty.  Why say that if the treaty were already broken?  Muhammad promptly says he fears treachery and then advances on the Qaynuqa community with an army.  This is a very strange way of saying that he was under attack, as Discover the Truth fantasizes.

Tabari continues:
The Messenger of God besieged them for fifteen days and prevented any of them from getting out. They then surrendered at the discretion of the Mesenger of God . They were fettered, and he wanted to kill them, but 'Abd Allah b. Ubayy spoke to him on their behalf... Four hundred men without armour and three hundred with coats of mail, who defended me from the Arab and the non-Arab alike, and you would mow them down in a single morning? By God, I do not feel safe and am afraid of what the future may have in store (Tabari v.7 p.86)
Muhammad "fears" treachery, has a private conversation with an "angel" and the next thing you know, 700 people are tied up and waiting to be beheaded.  Which party would you fear?  Even a fellow Muslim said that he was afraid for his own safety because of Muhammad's state of mind.

The Qaynuqa were fighting defensively according to every account.  In other words, they took up arms to defend themselves.  Although Muhammad was talked out of beheading them, they were robbed of their tools and property (the Banu Qaynuqa were goldsmiths), and were evicted.

Ibn Ishaq spends several pages detailing the friction between the Qaynuqa and Muhammad prior to this, sometimes redundantly.  Again, the rationale seems to be that the tribe refused Muhammad's new requirment that they recognize him as a prophet.  There is no mention of dead Muslims or any sort of military advance on the Muslim tribe, either by the Banu Qaynuqa or a third party. 

Lesser hadith verses may shed light on the possible flashpoint (or rationalization) for the siege of the Jewish tribe.  Apparently a Muslim was killed by the Qaynuqa... shortly after he killed a Qaynuqa over a childish prank!  It goes without saying that had the shoe been on the other foot, DTT would certainly have been claiming that the 'treaty' was violated by the first killing.

If the Banu Qaynuqa actually broke the agreement in some meaningful way, then it would have been included in the historical account.  Against this reality, the statement that they "violated" the treaty seems to be an editorial comment that got repeated without supporting detail. 

What we are told about the dispute is sufficient to dispel the notion that Muslims were fighting in self-defense or that Muhammad was "forced" to expel an entire tribe of people after stealing what they owned. 

Further Reading

Discover the Truth Propaganda Index

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