Abu Rafi'

Thus, owing to the education and moral training the Muslims had received from the Holy Prophet (sa) , they always administered justice. When the people of Khayber instigated their mischief, a Jew by the name of Abu Rafey was killed. Hazrat Muhammad (ra) bin Maslamah was also part of the group of companions that were dispatched to kill Abu Rafey. Although he was killed by one person, however, Hazrat Muhammad (ra) bin Maslamah was part of that delegation. Analysing this incident in depth from different historical sources, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad Sahib (ra) writes:

“The mischief-making and instigation of the Jewish Chieftains resulted in the dangerous conflict of the Battle of Ahzab against the Muslims in 5 AH. Among them, Huyaiy bin Akhtab had already met his end along with the Banu Qurayzah. However, Sallam bin Abil-Huqaiq, whose appellation was Abu Rafey, was still engaged freely in his mischief-making as before, in the region of Khaybar. Rather, the humiliating failure of Ahzab and the terrible end of the Banu Qurayzah had only further increased his animosity. Since the settlement of the tribes of Ghatafan were situated near Khaybar and the Jews of Khaybar were as if neighbours to the tribes of Najd, for this reason, Abu Rafey who was a very affluent and influential merchant, had made it a custom to incite the barbaric and warmongering tribes of Najd against the Muslims. In his animosity towards the Holy Prophet (sa), he was the like of Kaab bin Ashraf. As such, during that era, which we are mentioning now, he had given the Ghatafani people very significant financial aid in order to launch an assault against the Holy Prophet (sa). Furthermore, it is proven by history that the Jews of Khaybar, who were creating disorder in the watch of Abu Rafey, were also behind the threat which emerged against the Muslims by the Banu Saad in the month of Sha‘ban for the defence of which an army was sent from Medina under the leadership of Hazrat Ali (ra).

“However, Abu Rafey did not suffice with this, and his enmity was thirsty for Muslim blood and the person of the Holy Prophet (sa) was a thorn in his eye. Therefore, ultimately the plan which he employed was that in the likeness of the Battle of Ahzab, he once again began to tour the tribes of Najd, including the Ghatafan and other tribes, and began to gather a grand army to destroy the Muslims.

“When the state of affairs reached this extent and the scenes of Ahzab once again began to appear before the eyes of the Muslims, a few Ansar from the Khazraj presented themselves before the Holy Prophet (sa) and said, ‘Now, the solution to this turmoil is nothing but to put an end to the mastermind of this unrest.’ Considering the fact that the elimination of a single mischief-maker and seditious person was more preferable than mass bloodshed throughout the land, the Holy Prophet (sa) granted permission to these companions. He sent four companions from the Khazraj under the leadership of Abdullah (ra) bin Atik Ansari towards Abu Rafey. However, as he sent them, he emphasised, ‘Look here, do not at all kill any women or children.’ Therefore, in the month of Ramadan 6 AH, this party set off and returned after very skilfully completing its mission. In this manner, these clouds of calamity dispersed from the sky of Medina.

“The details of this account as mentioned in Bukhari and is one of the most accurate narrations in relation to this incident. It states:

Bara‘ bin Azib narrates that the Holy Prophet (sa) sent a party of his companions to kill Abu Rafey the Jew, and appointed Abdullah (ra) bin Atik as their leader. The story of Abu Rafey is that he would inflict great grief on the Holy Prophet (sa) and would incite and help people against the Holy Prophet (sa). When Abdullah (ra) bin Atik and his companions reached near the fort of Abu Rafey and the sun had set, Abdullah (ra) bin Atik left his companions behind and proceeded to the gate of the fort. He covered himself with his mantle and sat down as if answering the call of nature. When the gatekeeper approached the entrance of the fort, he called out to Abdullah (ra) bin Atik and said, ‘O ye, enter if you wish, for I am about to close the gate.’ Still covered in his mantle, Abdullah (ra) bin Atik quickly entered the gate and hid to one side of the castle. The gatekeeper closed the gate, hung the key on a nearby peg and left.

“After this, the narration of Abdullah (ra) bin Atik himself begins. He says, ‘First and foremost, I got up and opened the lock in the gate, so that a swift and easy exit was possible if needed. At the time, Abu Rafey was in a room of his, and many people were seated around him in a night assembly talking to each other. When these people dispersed and it became silent, I climbed the stairs to the home of Abu Rafey. I was careful that whenever I came to a door, I would enter it and close it from behind. When I reached the room of Abu Rafey, he had put out the lantern and was preparing to sleep. The room was pitch dark. I called out the name of Abu Rafey to which he responded, ‘Who is there?’ So, I sprung towards the source of the voice and made a single and powerful strike of the sword. However, it was very dark, and due to my perplexity, I missed him. Abu Rafey cried out, upon which I left the room. After some time, I entered the room again and changing my voice, enquired, ‘O Abu Rafey what is this noise?’ He could not recognise my changed voice and said, ‘May your mother forsake you, someone has just attacked me with a sword.’ Upon hearing this voice, I sprung towards him again and struck him with the sword. This time, my strike was on point, but he was still not dead, upon which I attacked him a third time and killed him.

“After this, I quickly opened the doors one by one till I reached outside of the home. However, when I was descending the stairs, there were still a few steps left and I thought I had reached the ground due to which I fell down and broke my leg” and in another narration it is mentioned that the leg was dislocated. “However, I tied it with my turban and dragged myself out, but I said to myself that until I am fully satisfied that Abu Rafey is dead, I shall not leave. Therefore, I hid in a place near the fort. The next morning, I heard the voice of someone from inside the fort saying, Abu Rafey, the merchant of Hijaz, has died. Thereupon, I got up, and slowly but gradually met with my companions. Upon arriving in Medina, we informed the Holy Prophet (sa) of the death of Abu Rafey. Upon listening to the entire account, the Holy Prophet (sa) said, ‘Stretch out your broken leg.’ I stretched out my leg and the Holy Prophet (sa) rubbed his blessed hand upon it while praying, and I felt as if I had never had any ailment whatsoever.’

In another narration, it is mentioned that when Abdullah (ra) bin Atik attacked Abu Rafey, his wife began to scream loudly, upon which he became worried that others might be alerted by her noise and clamour. Upon this, he raised his sword to kill her, but then he remembered that the Holy Prophet (sa) had prohibited the killing of women and therefore he refrained from doing this.”

It is further written in Sirat Khatamun-Nabiyyin:

“At this point, we need not enter a discussion on the justification of the killing of Abu Rafey. The bloodthirsty undertakings of Abu Rafey are an open page of history. Furthermore, an elaborate exposition has been written on a similar instance with relevance to Kaab bin Ashraf … During that era, the Muslims were in a very weak state, surrounded by adversity from all directions … It was as if the entire land was uniting to annihilate the Muslims. In these delicate times, Abu Rafey … was inciting the various tribes of Arabia against Islam.” I am mentioning a summary of why the killing was permissible and not relating the entire account. “Also, in the likeness of the Ghazwah [Battle] of Ahzab, he was preparing to unite the barbaric tribes of Arabia to again launch an assault against Medina.

“During that era, there was no government in Arabia whereby justice could be administered. Instead, every tribe was free and independent. Therefore, there was no other option other than to employ a strategy for self-protection.”

(Sirat Khatamun-Nabiyyin, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra), Vol. 3, pp. 79-82)

In the previous sermon the details regarding this were mentioned in that there was no government in place but in fact, the Holy Prophet (sa) was the leader. In these circumstances, whatever the companions did was absolutely correct and prudent. Moreover, in a state of war, when a nation is passing through life or death, strategies of this kind are completely permissible.