Question: What is the authenticity of the details provided in the Sira of Ibn Ishaq that state that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) specifically had members of the Aws tribe execute soldiers at Bani Quraydha?
Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
Thank you for your important question.
Firstly, we must understand that Sira in general was never subjected to the same level of scrutiny as hadith. Therefore, any fact of the Sira that is not well known historically (mutawatir), or not backed up by a sound hadith, is by its very nature questionable.
Imam Ahmad was asked about Ibn Ishaq and he said that he was a man that ‘such stories are taken from.’ He added that for a hadith to be sound, Ibn Ishaq is not the man you want. (Tahdhib al Tahdhib, Ibn Hajar) We can learn for this that Sira was considered inspiring and interesting stories that are relevant to our religious lives, but not a bonafide source of creed or Islamic law.
With regards to the specific question of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) specifically appointing members of the Aws tribe to execute soldiers at Bani Quraydha, I checked Waqidi’s work on Sira, as well as the Tabari’s work on history, and Ibn Abd al Barr’s work on Sira. None of them mention the details that Ibn Ishaq mentions. This is particularly interesting because Tabari and Ibn Abd al Barr drew heavily on Ibn Ishaq so perhaps they actually edited it out. (al Maghazi, Waqidi; Tarikh al Umam wa al Muluk, Tabari; al Durar, Ibn Abd al Barr)
Salihi does mention it, and in fact, adds details not found in Ibn Ishaq, which suggests there are other sources besides Ibn Ishaq that support the point in question. (Subul al Huda wa al Rashad, Salihi)
Given that there is no reason to reject the details, and given that Salihi mentions it, I don’t think it is reasonable to deem it inauthentic.
The question remains then, ‘Why did the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) depute the Aws to execute the remaining soldiers at Bani Quraydha?’
The answer as given in the full account is that the Aws had had strong political ties with them, and the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) wanted them to submit fully to Sad ibn Muadh’s judgment to have the traitors executed, and not behold on to their own political or social ties. He did say of Sad’s judgment, after all, ‘You have judged according to the judgment of Allah from seven heavens away.’ (al Durar, Ibn Abd al Barr)
I pray this helps.
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language