For many, the bottom line on the Banu Qurayza legend — Tarek Fatah denies its authenticity, others embrace it and like it — involves the unconditional surrender of the Jewish tribe followed by the mass slaughter of all of the males (down to the youngest with but a single pubic hair). It stands as the echo in history of what ISIS is doing today and right to the letter of the script as read by Baghdaddi (who may be dead by now . . . we are uncertain of that state of affairs today).
The above noted PBS piece starts this way:
“Judaism was already well established in Medina two centuries before Muhammad’s birth. Although influential, the Jews did not rule the oasis. Rather, they were clients of two large Arab tribes there, the Khazraj and the Aws Allah, who protected them in return for feudal loyalty. Medina’s Jews were expert jewelers, and weapons and armor makers. There were many Jewish clans-some records indicate more than twenty, of which three were prominent-the Banu Nadir, the Banu Qaynuqa, and the Banu Qurayza.
“Various traditions uphold different views, and it is unclear whether Medina’s Jewish clans were Arabized Jews or Arabs who practiced Jewish monotheism. Certainly they were Arabic speakers with Arab names. They followed the fundamental precepts of the Torah, though scholars question their familiarity with the Talmud and Jewish scholarship, and there is a suggestion in the Qur’an that they may have embraced unorthodox beliefs, such as considering the Prophet Ezra the son of God.”
There are now many contradictory renditions of the Banu Qurayza legend and analysis on the web, but that may serve to underscore my argument that part of the world is fighting over survival through corrupted allegiance — the telling of loyal lies — and the risks of promoting an integrity that has God and the ideal — the true — as its standard. We hope for the latter because it serves all universally. It’s better to have honest reporting, honest scholarship, research with integrity, and, perhaps with the Banu Qurayza, the wisdom to say one doesn’t know how the Qurayza lives.
Historically, the Jews as merchants developing wealth have done so because of a circumspect trustworthiness — i.e., people with whom one can do earnest business. The medieval persecutions inevitably apply leverage based in religion — the Spanish Inquisition and the Spanish Expulsion serve as example — to shun, murder, and plunder the Jews for the wealth they have developed. That’s how it works, has always worked, and probably how it worked in the 7th Century: simple theft and murder cloaked in religion.
The Awesome Conversation may become a clear conversation about power, loyalty, idealism, and God.
Within the context of the Islamic Small Wars, there’s political litmus in how one relates to certain symbols, and the Banu Qurayza Legend is one of them. Some embrace the story — a great victory (met with unconditional surrender followed by mass slaughter) — and some, like Tarek Fatah, find it so inexecrable that it needs to be downplayed and written out of the lore being dragged into the future.
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