Muhammad Ibn Maslamah

Kab agreed to this suggestion which they had made to disabuse his mind of any notion that they had come armed. They promised to come back to him again to bring the weapons.

Meanwhile, Abu Nailah also came up to Kab and said: “Woe to you, Ibn Ashraf. I have come to you intending to mention something to you and you do not encourage me.” Kab asked him to go on and Abu Nailah said: “The coming of this man to us has been a source of affliction to our Arab customs. With one shot he has severed our ways and left families hungry and in difficulties. We and our families are struggling.” Kab replied: “I, Ibn al-Ashraf, by God, I had told you, son of Salamah, that the matter would end up as I predicted.” Abu Nailah replied: “I wish you could sell us some food and we would give you whatever form of security and trust required. Be good to us. I have friends who share my views on this and I want to bring them to you so that you could sell them some food and deal well towards them. We will come to you and pledge our shields and weapons to you as security.” “There is loyalty and good faith in weapons,” agreed Kab.

With this they left promising to return and bring the required security for the loan. They went back to the Prophet and reported to him what had happened. That night, Muhammad ibn Maslamah, Abu Nailah, Abbad ibn Bisnr, Al-Harith ibn Aws and Abu Abasah ibn Jabr all set off for Kabs house. The Prophet went with them for a short distance and parted with the words:

“Go forth in the name of God.” And he prayed: “O Lord, help them.” The Prophet returned home. It was a moonlit night in the month of Rabi al-Awwal in the third year of the hijrah.

Muhammad ibn Maslamah and the four with him reached Kab’s house. They called out to him. As he got out of bed, his wife held him and warned: “You are a man at war. People at war do not go down at such an hour.” “It is only my nephew Muhammad ibn Maslamah and my foster brother, Abu Nailah…” Kab came down with his sword drawn. He was heavily scented with the perfume of musk.

“I have not smelt such a pleasant scent as today,” greeted Muhammad ibn Maslamah. “Let me smell your head.” Kab agreed and as Muhammad bent over, he grasped Kab’s head firmly and called on the others to strike down the enemy of God.

(Details of this incident vary somewhat. Some reports state that it was Abu Nailah who gave the command to strike down Kab and this was done after Kab had emerged from his house and walked with them for some time. )

The elimination of Kab ibn al-Ashraf struck terror into the hearts of those, and there were many of them in Madinah, who plotted and intrigued against the Prophet. Such open hostility as Kab’s diminished for a time but certainly did not cease.

At the beginning of the fourth year of the hijrah, the Prophet went to the Jewish tribe of Banu Nadir on the outskirts of Madinah to seek their help on a certain matter. While among them, he found out that they were planning to kill him then and there. He had to take decisive action. The Banu Nadir had gone too far. Straight away, the Prophet went back to the center of the city. He summoned Muhammad ibn Maslamah and sent him to inform the Banu Nadir that they had to leave Madinah within ten days because o f their treacherous behavior and that any one of them seen after that in the city would forfeit his life.

One can just imagine Muhammad ibn Maslamah addressing the Banu Nadir. His towering stature and his loud and clear voice combined to let the Banu Nadir know that the Prophet meant every word he said and that they had to stand the consequences of their trea cherous acts. The fact that the Prophet chose Muhammad ibn Maslamah for the task is a tribute to his loyalty, courage and firmness.

Further details of the expulsion of the Banu Nadir from Madinah do not concern us here: their plan to resist the Prophet with outside help; the Prophet’s siege of their district and their eventual surrender and evacuation mainly to Khaybar in the north. T wo of the Banu Nadir though became MusIims – Yamin ibn Umayr and Abu Sad ibn Wahb. Ali this happened exactly one year after the elimination of Kab ibn al-Ashraf.

Both during the time of the Prophet and after, Muhammad ibn Maslamah was known for carrying out any assignment he accepted exactly as he was ordered, neither doing more nor less than he was asked to do. It was these qualities which made Umar choose him as one of his ministers and as a trusted friend and guide.

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