Fort of Ka’b bin Ashraf

Ruins of the fort of Ka'b bin Ashraf
Ruins of the fort of Ka'b bin Ashraf

These are the remains of the fort of Ka’b bin Ashraf, an extremely wealthy Jewish poet who stirred up great hatred for the Prophet (ﷺ) and the Muslims. He was killed here in 3 A.H. on the orders of the Prophet (ﷺ).

  • Ka’b  would use his considerable poetic talent to compose and recite derogatory verses against the Prophet (ﷺ), his companions and the honour of Muslim women. He would praise their sworn enemies and incite them to fight the Muslims.
  • On hearing of the outcome of the battle of Badr, he became exasperated and swore that he would prefer death to life if the news was true. When this was confirmed he wrote poems satirizing the Prophet (ﷺ), eulogizing the Quraysh and enticing them for a war against the Muslims.
  • Ka’b rode to Makkah where he started to trigger the fire of war, and kindle hatred against the Muslims in Madinah. This was in contravention of the Constitution of Madinah, of which the tribe led by Ka’b bin Ashraf was a signatory and which prohibited them from extending any support to the tribes of Makkah, namely the Quraysh.
  • When Abu Sufyan asked him which religion he was more inclined to, the religion of the Makkans or that of Muhammad and his companions, he replied that the pagans were better guided. With respect to this situation, Allah (ﷻ) revealed the following words of the Quran:“Have you not seen those who were given a portion of the Scripture? They believe in Jibt and Taghût, and say to the disbelievers that they are better guided as regards the way than the believers (Muslims).” [4:51]
Rooms in the fort of Ka'b bin Ashraf
Rooms in the fort of Ka’b bin Ashraf
  • He then returned to Madinah to start a fresh campaign of slanderous propaganda that took the form of obscene songs and poems with a view to defaming the Muslim women. At this stage, the situation became unbearable and could no longer be tolerated. The Prophet (ﷺ) gathered his men and said: “Who will kill Ka‘b bin Ashraf? He has maligned Allah, and His Messenger.” Thereupon, Muhammad bin Muslimah, Abbad bin Bishr, Al-Harith bin Aws, Abu ‘Abs bin Hibr and Salkan bin Salamah, Ka‘b’s foster brother, volunteered to do the job.
  • Muhammad bin Muslimah said: “O Messenger of Allâh, do you wish that I should kill him?” He said: “Yes.” He said: “Permit me to talk (to him in the way I deem fit).” He said: “Talk (as you like).” So, Muhammad bin Muslimah, with his companions went to Ka’b and said, “This man [indicating the Prophet] came to us, asking for charity, but he has put us to great trouble.” His words had the desired effect. Ka’b exclaimed with joy, “By God, you people will tire of him even more in the future!”
  • Now that Muhammad had gained Ka’bs confidence, he requested a loan of wheat or dates. Ka’b was so evil that he first asked for their women and children as collateral, but after their protests eventually settled for taking their weapons. He agreed to meet them at a later date, delighted at finding apparently disenchanted Muslims through whom he could hurt the Prophet.
Well outside the Fort of Ka'b bin Ashraf
Well outside the Fort of Ka’b bin Ashraf
  • On the 14th of Rabi al Awwal, 3 A.H., the full moon was shining down on Ka’b as he lay with his wife in his fortress. When the returning five armed Muslims called out to him, Ka’b readily went down to see them, disregarding his wife’s pleas to take care. He was so pleased about his success in finding partners that even the sight of the Muslim’s weapons did not startle him. He was completely unaware that he himself was their target.
  • They set out on a walk. Muhammad bin Muslimah complemented Ka’b about his perfume, and asked permission to smell his head. Flattered, Ka’b obliged Muhammad bin Muslimah who sniffed Ka’bs head and then, holding it in his hands, bade his companions to smell the fragrance as well. He asked to do so again and was allowed to smell the fragrance once more. When Ka’bs head was securely on his grasp, Muhammad bin Muslimah urged his comrades, “Seize this enemy of Allah!”.
  • Instantly, the others struck with their swords and Muhammad bin Muslimah used his axe to strike Ka’bs abdomen. As the axe cleaved his body, Ka’b died screaming horribly. The sound of the disturbance roused Ka’bs men, who lit torches around the top of the fort, but they didn’t find the five men who got away, having silenced their most vocal enemy at last.
  • A narration of Ikramah (رضي الله عنه) states that after Ka’bs death the Jews came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and said, “Our leader was killed by deception.” The Prophet (ﷺ) reminded them of Ka’bs treacherous ways and about how he instigated against Islam and harmed the Muslims. Ibn Sa’d adds that after this the Jews kept silent.

References: Hayatus Sahabah – Moulana Yusuf Kandhalvi, When the Moon split – Sh. Safiur Rahman Mubarakpuri, The Sealed Nectar – Sh. Safiur Rahman Mubarakpuri, Wikipedia.

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