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KHAIBAR

Encyclopaedia of Ismailism by Mumtaz Ali Tajddin

"In 7/629, about six weeks after the Prophet's party returned from Hudaibia, they learnt that the Jews in Khaibar were planning to make an inroad on Medina. To forestall these moves, the Muslims marched on Khaibar, about 92 miles from Medina, with 1600 men, and covered the distance in three forced marches and reached the enemy territory before dawn on the fourth morning. The two armies met at first at Natat and fought each other strongly. When Sullam bin Mishkam, the chief of the Jews was killed, Harith bin Abu Zaynab took over the leadership, and charged from the fortress of Naim, but he was soon repulsed. Five strongholds at Khaibar were reduced one by one with the exception of the strongly fortified and impregnable al-Qamus, which was under the command of Marhab, who was like Goliath of Goeth.

The Prophet at first assigned Abu Bakr to lead the Muslim army to besiege the fort. R.V.C. Bodley writes in The Messenger (London, 1946, p. 271) that, "Into this Abu Bakr led a heroic attack, but he was driven back. Then Umar tried, but while he reached the mouth of the breach, he had to retire." Thus, the Prophet declared, "Tomorrow, I will hand over the banner of Islamic army to such a person who is an impetuous warrior and not an absconder; he befriends God and His Apostle and is also befriended by them. God is sure to grant victory on his hands." The next morning, Ali had been given the charge to lead the assault and to fight till the Jews acknowledged submission. Ali, clad in a scarlet vest over which was buckled a cuirass of steel, proceeded to the front. He put Harith, a man of gigantic stature to the sword. To revenge the death of his brother, the Jewish champion Marhab stepped forward from Jewish lines, and challenged Ali to single combat. "I am Marhab", he cried, "as all Khaibar know, a warrior bristling with arms in a furiously ranging war." Ali advanced from the Muslim ranks in response to his vainglorious challenge, saying "I am he whom his mother named Haidar, a lion of the wilderness; I weigh my foes in a gigantic balance." As both closed, Marhab made a thrust at Ali with his three-pronged lance, which Ali dexterously warded off, and before he could recover himself, Ali dealt him a blow with his irresistible sword, which divided his buckler, passed through his doubled turban, cleaving his head went down to his chest. Marhab fell lifeless to the ground. The Muslim warriors rushed forward in a body, and captured the citadel and the victory was decisive. The casualties of the Muslims in this battle did not exceed twenty, while ninety-three were killed on Jewish side.


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