Khaybar[note 1] (Arabic: خَيْبَر, IPA: [ˈxajbar, ˈxäjbär]) is an oasis situated some 153 kilometres (95 mi) north of the city of Medina in the Medina Province of Saudi Arabia. Prior to the rise of Islam in the 7th century, the area had been inhabited by Arabian Jewish tribes until it fell to Muslim armies under Muhammad during the Battle of Khaybar in 628 CE.

Ancient ruins of Khaybar
Ancient ruins of Khaybar
Khaybar is located in Saudi Arabia
Coordinates: 25°41′55″N 39°17′33″E / 25.69861°N 39.29250°E / 25.69861; 39.29250Coordinates: 25°41′55″N 39°17′33″E / 25.69861°N 39.29250°E / 25.69861; 39.29250
Country Saudi Arabia
RegionAl Madinah Region
established6th century BC
Time zoneUTC+3 (AST)


Climate data for Khaybar
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 21.6
Average low °C (°F) 9.1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 9



Before the advent of Islam in the 7th century CE, indigenous Arabs, as well as Jews, once made up the population of Khaybar, although when Jewish settlement in northern Arabia began is unknown.[note 2] In 567, Khaybar was invaded and purged of its Jewish inhabitants by the Ghassanid Arab Christian king Al-Harith ibn Jabalah. He later freed the captives upon his return to the Levant. A brief account of the campaign is given by Ibn Qutaybah,[1] and confirmed by the Harran Inscription.[2] See Irfan Shahid's Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century for full details.[3]

7th centuryEdit

As late as the 7th century, Khaybar was still inhabited by Jews, who pioneered the cultivation of the oasis[4] and made their living growing date palm trees, as well as through commerce and craftsmanship, accumulating considerable wealth.[citation needed]

The oasis was divided into three regions: al-Natat, al-Shikk, and al-Katiba, probably separated by natural divisions, such as the desert, Harrat Khaybar 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.[citation needed]

Military campaigns of MuhammadEdit

Expedition of FadakEdit

In the year 627 Muhammad ordered the Expedition of Fadak to attack the Bani Sa‘d bin Bakr tribe, because Muhammad received intelligence they were planning to help the Jews of Khaybar.[5] In this expedition one person was captured by Muslims, the rest of the tribe fled.[6]

Battle of KhaybarEdit

The Battle of Khaybar took place in May/June 628.[7] The Jewish Banū *Naḍīr of *Medina, who claimed to be descendants of Aaron the priest, owned lands in Khaybar and had castles, fortresses, and their own weapons there. After Muhammad expelled them from Medina in 625, their leaders moved to their estates in Khaybar in order to prepare for war against Muhammad and to recruit the aid of Arab tribes. Muhammad first sent disguised guests to the homes of the leaders of Banū Naḍīr who then killed their hosts. Muhammad's victory over the Jews of Khaybar in the subsequent battle was also aided by the distance of the settlements and their castles from one another, the absence of coordination between the fighting forces, the death of the leader Sallām ibn Mishkam, and a Jew who showed the Muslims the secret entrances to one of the fortresses. The castles of Khaybar had tunnels and passages which in wartime enabled the besieged to reach water sources outside the castles.[8] Between 16 to 18 Muslims and 93 Jews were killed.[9]

After the Muslim victory, Muhammad, concerned that Khaybar would remain desolate and would not continue supplying its agricultural produce to the Hejaz, signed an agreement with the Jews which allowed many of its inhabitants to remain on their lands, while requiring payment of half their crops to the conquerors.


Captives of war and slaves from other countries were brought to Khaybar and the people of Hejaz became more accustomed to agriculture. Jews continued to live in the oasis for several more years afterwards until they were finally expelled by caliph Umar, who decided to expel the Jews of Khaybar in 642 under the pretense that before his death Muhammad had commanded that two religions could not exist simultaneously in the Hejaz.[8]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

Expulsion of the JewsEdit

During the reign of Caliph Umar (634–644), the Jewish community of Khaybar were transported alongside the Christian community of Najran to the newly conquered regions of Syria and Iraq; Umar also forbade non-Muslims to reside in the Hejaz for longer than three days.[10] Since then, the Jews of Khaybar traveled around many areas throughout the Islamic Empire as artisans and merchants and maintained a distinctive identity until the 12th century.[citation needed]

The Journey of Benjamin of TudelaEdit

Benjamin was a Jew from Tudela in the Kingdom of Navarre. He travelled to Persia and Arabia in the 12th century. He visited and described Khaybar and neighboring Tayma some time around 1170, mentioning these places as Jewish habitations.[11]


Historically, Khaybar is known for growing dates. The dates raised in the region were generally exported to Medina.[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Other standardized Arabic transliterations: Ḫaybar / ḵaybar. Anglicized pronunciation: /ˈkbər/, /ˈkbɑːr/.
  2. ^ In a research conducted by David Samuel Margoliouth and published in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society in the last century, he points out the fact that the Jews of Khaybar and Yathrib (in Saudi-Arabia), as early as the 6th century CE when Jews still lived there - before being evicted to places in Syria and to the city of Al-Kufah in Iraq, did not differentiate between the non-accentuated "thau" (ת) and the accentuated "tau" (תּ) – although these letters have distinct phonetic sounds by those scrupulous in the use of proper Hebrew grammar (See: Margoliouth, D.S.: "A poem attributed to Al-Samau’al." Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. Published by the Society, 22, Albemarle St. London W. London, 1906. p. 364).
  1. ^ Ibn Qutaybah: al-Ma'arif
  2. ^ "Harran Inscription: A Pre-Islamic Arabic Inscription From 568 CE". Retrieved 2020-03-20.
  3. ^ Irfan Shahid: Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, p. 322
  4. ^ Yāqut, Šihāb al-Dīn ibn ‘Abd Allah al-Ḥamawī al-Rūmī al-Baġdādī (ed. Ferdinand Wüstenfeld), Mu’jam al-Buldān, vol. IV, Leipzig 1866, p. 542 (reprint: Ṭaharān 1965, Maktabat al-Asadi); Hayyim Zeev Hirschberg, Israel Ba-‘Arav, Tel Aviv 1946, p. 343 (Hebrew).
  5. ^ Mubarakpuri, The Sealed Nectar, p. 211. (online)
  6. ^ Sa'd, Ibn (1967). Kitab al-tabaqat al-kabir, By Ibn Sa'd, Volume 2. Pakistan Historical Society. p. 110. ASIN B0007JAWMK. SARIYYAH OF 'ALI IBN ABl TALIB AGAINST BANU SA'D IBN BAKR AT FADAK
  7. ^ Watt, W. Montgomery (1956). Muhammad at Medina. Oxford University Press. p. 2. ISBN 978-0195773071. Muhammad had thus a straightforward reason for attacking Khaybar. The moment he chose for the attack May /June 628 (i/y) shortly after his return from the expedition of al-Hudaybiyah was one when it was also convenient for him to have booty to distribute to his followers whose expectations had recently been disappointed. (free online)
  8. ^ a b I. Ben-Ze'ev, Ha-Yehudim ba-Arav (19572), index; H.Z. Hirschberg, Yisrael ba-Arav (1946), index; I. Ben Zvi, in: Keneset, 5 (1940), 281–302; J. Braslavsky, Le-Ḥeker Arẓenu (1954), 3–52 (English summaries: 3–4, English section); S.D. Goitein, in: KS, 9 (1932/33), 507–21; Caetani, in: Annali dell' Islam, 2 (1905), 8–41; R. Leszynsky, Juden in Arabien zur Zeit Mohammeds (1910)
  9. ^ Mubarakpuri, The Sealed Nectar, p. 238. (online)
  10. ^ Giorgio Levi Della Vida and Michael Bonner, Encyclopaedia of Islam, and Madelung, The Succession to Prophet Muhammad, p. 74
  11. ^ The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela (ed. Marcus Nathan Adler), Oxford University Press, London 1907, pp. 47-49.
  12. ^ Prothero, G. W. (1920). Arabia. London: H.M. Stationery Office. p. 83.

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