Saturday, 10 January 2015

Sabatina James: Killing of Ka'b Ibn Al Ashraf - Dr Bashar Shala and Dr Yasir Qadhi

Note, for another discussion on Ka'b ibn al Ashraf please see:

The Truth About Ka'b Bin Al Ashraf - Just Assassination/Killing...

Ka'b bin al-Ashraf was the son of an Arab father and a Jewish mother. He was one of the leaders of Banu Nadir, he was rich, residing in a fortress and was known for his good looks. He was also a poet and had enmity towards Islam. He had written a lot of poetry against Prophet Muhammad (p) and the Muslims.

When news of the Muslim victory in the battle of Badr came to Ka'b, Ka'b went off to Mecca and formed an alliance with Abu Sufyan. The details of this alliance is unknown but of course, as Abu Sufyan was at war with the Muslims in Medina this alliance was an obvious problem for the Muslims at that time.

Dr Bashar Shala mentions the treaty which Ka'b broke included stipulations such as:

1. Jews should be one nation with Muslims

2. Muslims and Jews should advise and protect each other

3. They should have goodness in their treatment of each other.

4. If Muslims are being fought by an enemy then the Jews should side with the Muslims

He took his provocation of Muslims further in that he began to write lewd poetry about the Muslim ladies. This poem was not general either, he was mentioning specific names of the ladies too.

Another version of events?

According to Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Hisham and al Waqidi, Ka'b was assassinated between the battle of Badr and Uhud. However, there's another opinion of great scholars too. In this other version, Ka'b was killed after Uhud - the other scholars add another reason for Kab's assassination. Ka'b was behind  an assassination attempt on the Prophet Muhammad (p).

So if the second group of historical opinion is valid, another reason is added to the list for killing Ka'b, i.e. Ka'b's attempt to kill Prophet Muhammad. Though, Sheikh Dr Yasir Qadhi does stress the stronger and more authoritative version appears to be that of Bin Ishaq. Either way, as Sheikh Dr Yasir Qadhi points out, there's still enough reason to justify the killing of Ka'b at that time.

The Prophet asked who will take care of Ka'b bin Ashraf. Muhammad bin Maslamah volunteered to do so.

Muhammad bin Maslamah carried out the killing with other companions and one of the companions got wounded in the process. When he got back to Medina, Prophet Muhammad (p) used some of his saliva to heal him - and he was healed.

The implications of Ka'b's actions were clear to others. Kab's wife considered him a man at war and was worried for him when he planned on going out of his fortress at night.

Contextualise the political society

People who lived in those societies understood the dynamics of the society - this is shown through Ka'b's wife. She knew Ka'b's actions meant his life was under threat.

It's clear that the actions of Prophet Muhammad (who was the ruler of /medina at the time) were normal and legal for that time period.

Dr Qadhi does not see any reason to be apologetic - it's really about understanding and contextualising the killing of Ka'b bin al Asharaf. Sadly, there are Islamophobes who decontextualize the killing of Ka'b - this is academically dishonest.


We should not decontextualise, we should understand this event with its entire context.
Prophet Muhammad (p) was the political ruler of Medina and thus this was an action of a state ruler - not an individual.

Ka'b ibn alAshraf was not killed because he was a poet.

Ka'b was not an innocent man and he was seen as a man at war by his own wife:

-The treaty Ka'b made with the Quraish [which in turn betrayed the treaty which was made with the Muslims]. Dr Qadhi's theory is, that Ka'b may have helped Abu Sufyan in an attack on Medina.

-The lewd poetry

-Also there's an alternative historical account which tells us he was behind an attempt to assassinated Prophet Muhammad (p)

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