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Aspects of the Islamic Faith - 106: Peaceful arrangements after a war

Published: 24/06/2011 01:31:00 AM GMT
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By BY ADIL SALAHI Published: Jun 23, 2011 20:39 Updated: Jun 23, 2011 20:39

There were several Jewish concentrations in Arabia during the lifetime of the Prophet (peace be upon him). When he immigrated to Madinah, there were several Jewish tribes there. He concluded a treaty of peace and cooperation with them.



They, however, violated the terms of the treaty and collaborated with the unbelievers against the Muslim state in Madinah. Therefore, the Prophet evacuated them, one major tribe after another. The largest Jewish concentration in Arabia, however, was at Khaybar in the north. They were raising an army to attack Madinah in collaboration with some Arab tribes. The Prophet quickly raised an army and besieged Khaybar before the Jews could complete their preparations. He called on them to surrender and establish peace, but they refused. However, they were defeated in one battle after another. When most of the forts of Khaybar fell to the Muslims, the rest gave up without a fight. Thus, some of the land of Khaybar was taken by force and some without a fight. Arrangements were then made concerning the agricultural land of Khaybar.

Abdullah ibn Umar reports: “Umar evacuated the Jews and the Christians from the land of Hijaz. When the Prophet took over Khaybar, he wanted to evacuate the Jews, as the land he conquered now belonged to God, His messenger and the Muslims. However, the Jews requested the Prophet to let them stay and till the land for half its produce. The Prophet said to them, ‘We will let you stay for as long as we wish'. They remained until Umar evacuated them to Taima' and Ariha.” (Related by Al-Bukhari).

There are several points to discuss in this Hadith. The first is the evacuation of the Jews from Arabia. This was due to the repeated attempts of the Jews to undermine the fledgling Islamic state in Madinah. Time after time they collaborated with others and forged alliances with the declared aim of putting an end to Islam and the Muslim community. They repeatedly violated the treaty, which bound them to peaceful coexistence and collaboration with the Muslims. Hence, it was necessary to remove this constant threat.

Yet despite the fact that the Jews of Khaybar were scheming to attack Madinah in collaboration with Ghatafan, a major tribe of pagan Arabs, they were able to reach agreement with the Prophet keeping them in the land the Muslims had gained. They offered to do the farming of the land for half its produce. The Prophet agreed, judging that it was in the interests of the Muslim state to accept this offer for a time. Hence, he specified that the arrangement was not permanent and it gave the Jews no right of ownership of the land. They would have to leave whenever the Muslims asked them to do so. A few years later, the second Caliph, Umar, ordered their evacuation. They resettled in the north of Arabia, which was by the time a part of the Muslim state.

From the legislative point of view, the Hadith makes clear that it is permissible to arrive at an agreement with non-Muslims living in the land of Islam to undertake the farming work for half the produce. Although the Khaybar arrangements dealt mainly with dates, it applies to all farm produce. Scholars point out that the deal the Prophet made with the Jews had two parts: The first concerned their stay in Khaybar, which he allowed them subject to the condition that he, or his successors, had the right to end the arrangement at any time. The second was the terms of work in return for half the produce. Scholars have detailed views on the conditions that apply in any such agreement.

Reproduced from Arab News




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