Nuh Arslantaş

Keywords: Expulsion, Khaibar, Jews

Abstract

Khaibar, which means citadel in Hebrew, is one of the oldest Jewish settlements in Arabian Peninsula. They had come here first as the result of Assyrian expulsion in 721 BC, then in the course of time the city turned into a Jewish town owing to other expulsions from Palestine. When Islam came on the scene, Khaibar was populated by the most powerful and organized Jewish community in Arabia. In the time of Prophet Muhammad Khaibar had become famous with its strongly fortified castles, fertile lands and rich water reservoirs. Thanks to its strategic location on the very important commercial route in the Peninsula, the city prospered in a short period of time. After the migration of Prophet Muhammad to Madina, Khaibar had always remained a source of trouble for Madina, and Khaibarite Jews had become a source of military provocations and centre for war investigations. Therefore, the city was given a top priority by the Prophet. On the other hand the Jews had concluded political alliances with some of the Arab tribes to eliminate the new state, but these attempts failed. After a heavy siege that lasted for fourteen days, Khaibar was conquered by Muslims in 628 [7 AH]. The Jews realized that they would perish, therefore, they asked for a negotiable peace treaty on the condition that they be allowed to remain in Khaibar and cultivate their lands, gardens and date palms. In return they agreed to pay half of their harvest to the Muslims. However, the land itself would henceforth belong to the Muslims. The Jews were also granted permission to keep practising their faith. The Jews of Khaibar continued to stay on these conditions until the final years of Caliph Omar. For some political and economical reasons, Omar exiled a considerable part of the Jews to Taima and Jeriho. As time passed they were further dispersed from there to some towns of Egypt, Syria and lraq. Due to the Wahhabi movement the remainder Jews in Khaibar migrated during the second half of the 18th century. As pointed above, at time of conquest they were exempted from jizya, but after their expulsion in 641 AD they were levied jizya. In the following centuries some of them demanded to be exempted from jizya with some forged documents claiming that these documents were given by the Prophet himself. Abbasid administrators never accepted such false documents and did not exempt them from jizya, but Fatimids did. They excused Khaibarite Jews from jizya and some other obligations. An example of such a false document which was found in Geniza is also attached at the end of this article.