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Khaybar (Arabic,خيبر) is the name of an oasis some 95 miles to the north of Medinamarker (ancient Yathribmarker), Saudi Arabiamarker. It was inhabited by Jews before the rise of Islam, and was conquered by Muhammad in 628 A.D.


Pre-Islamic Khaybar

In 567, Khaybar was invaded and vacated of its Jewish inhabitants by the Ghassanid Arab Christian king Al-Harith ibn Jabalah. He later freed to the captives upon his return to the Levant. A brief account of the campaign is given by Ibn Qutaybah , and confirmed by the Harran Inscription. See Irfan Shahid's Byzantium and the Arab in the six century for full details.

Khaybar in the 7th century

In the 7th century, Khaybar was inhabited by Jews, who pioneered the cultivation of the oasis and made their living growing date palm trees, as well as through commerce and craftsmanship, accumulating considerable wealth. Some objects found by the Muslims when they entered Khaybar — a siege-engine, 20 bales of Yemenitemarker cloth, and 500 cloaks — point out to an intense trade carried out by the Jews. In the past some scholars attempted to explain the siege-engine by suggesting that it was used for settling quarrels among the families of the community. Today most academics believe it was stored in a depôt for future sale, in the same way that swords, lances, shields, and other weaponry had been sold by the Jews to Arabs. Equally, the cloth and the cloaks must have been intended for sale, as it was unlikely that such a quantity of luxury goods were kept for the exclusive use of the Jews.

The oasis was divided into three regions: al-Natat, al-Shikk, and al-Katiba, probably separated by natural divisions, such as the desert, lava drifts, and swamps. Each of these regions contained several fortresses or redoubts containing homes, storehouses and stables. Each fortress was occupied by a separate family and surrounded by cultivated fields and palm-groves. In order to improve their defensive capabilities, the settlers raised the fortresses up on hills or basalt rocks.


Jews continued to live in the oasis for several more years afterwards until they were finally expelled by caliph Umar. The imposition of tribute upon the conquered Jews of the Khaybar Fortress served as a precedent. Islamic law came to require exaction of tribute known as jizya from dhimmis, i.e. non-Muslims under Muslim rule. The reasons behind Jizaya were many. Muslim men were required to put their lives at risk in battles to protect their citizenry - Muslims & non-Muslims. However, non-Muslims - Dhimmis - were exempted from this. Therefore, non-Muslims were expected to pay Jizya in return for the protection of their property & lives. Many Muslim households were deprived of their male protectors due to battles. Whereas Jewish household did not have to suffer such loss. Further, they were endowed with much wealth.

For many centuries, the oasis at Khaybar was an important caravan stopping place. The center developed around a series of ancient dams built to hold run-off water from the rain. Around the water catchments, date palms grew. Khaybar became an important date-producing center.

Battle of Khaybar

Expulsion of the Jews from Khaybar

The Jews were exiled from Khaybar in the reign of caliph Umar (634-644) battle of Khaybar. During his caliphate, the Muslims conquered vast territories in the Middle East, from which they transported large numbers of captives as slaves to Arabia. The Jews of Khaybar settled in many areas throughout the Middle East, and they maintained a distinctive identity until the 12th century.

The Battle of Khaybar in the Hadith

Muhammed Ibn Ismaiel Al-Bukhari, author of one of the six major Hadith collections, wrote that "the Prophet had their warriors killed, their offspring and woman taken as captives".

The journey of Benjamin of Tudela

Benjamin was a Jew from Tudelamarker in Spain. He travelled to Persia and Arabia in the 12th century. He visited and described Khaybar and neighboring Taymamarker some time around 1170.


In modern times, Khaybar has inspired an Arabic chant commonly used in demonstrations against Israelmarker. The chant essentially goes, Khaybar Khaybar ya Yahūd, jaysh Muḥammad saufa ya‘ūd, and the translation is "Khaybar, Khaybar o Jews, the army of Muhammad will return" (خيبر خيبر يايهود جيش محمد سوف يعود). Another version is Khaybar, Khaybar ya Sahyun, Hizbullah qadimun "Khaybar, Khaybar you Zionists, Hizbullah is coming".

Khaybar and Hezbollah

The Lebanese shi'ite Hezbollah baptized missiles it fired on Israeli cities in the Summer of 2006 "Kaybar". Lebanon’s leading Shi’ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, praised Hizballah for waging a “new battle of Khaibar.”

See also


  1. Ibn Qutaybah: al-Ma'arif
  2. Harran Inscription
  3. Irfan Shahîd: Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, p. 322
  4. Muhammed Ibn Ismaiel Al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari: The Translation of the Meanings, translated by Muhammad M. Khan, Darussalam,, vol. 5, book 64, no. 4200
  5. Hizbullah: We fired Khaibar-1 rockets at Hadera, Ynetnews, August 8, 2006
  6. Lebanon Shiite Cleric: Hezbollah Fighters Will Win Fight, Associated Press, August 4th, 2006

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