23.5 Huyayy Persuades Banu Qurayza
Huyayy ibn Akhtab, the Jewish chief, feared that the tribes would be disillusioned by their long wait and turn back. It would then be difficult, if not impossible, to bring them all together again. Already Ghatafan, the second biggest tribe after Quraysh, was getting restless. So he went to them and said that he was convinced that Banu Qurayza, the last Jewish tribe that had not broken its covenant with the Messenger and had its forts inside the city walls, were ready to be on their side, to cut the Muslims' food and water supply (the Muslims were besieged from all sides, except that of Banu Qurayza) and open the gates to the enemy, then they would exterminate the Muslims in a matter of hours.
Then he went to work on Banu Qurayza. At first its chief, Kab ibn Asad, would not let him in or listen to him. He knew how fair the Messenger was, and what great advantages and security this treaty was giving them. Mohamed would never go back on any part of it as long as they did not break it themselves. The tribes were not so trustworthy. But Huyayy kept pressing him, promising him power and glory for the whole Jewish nation, appealing to his feelings as a Jew. Finally he gave in.
On top of all that they had to face, the Muslims received news of Banu Qurayza's treachery. Mohamed sent three men to them to find out if the rumor was true. These three men were the head of Al-Aws, who had been the allies of Banu Qurayza before Islam, the head of Al-Khazraj, the second most important tribe in Medina, and one of the great men of the Emigrants.
On entering the forts of Banu Qurayza, they found them in a vindictive and evil mood. Sad ibn Muadh, the head of Al-Aws and their former ally, tried to warn them of the consequences of breaking the covenant that protected them and of becoming traitors to the city that sheltered them, but his efforts were in vain. They were certain the Muslims would be annihilated and let all the bitter envy and hatred in their heart appear. Like the polytheist tribes, they were roused and wanted Muslim blood. They used vile language and nearly came to blows with their distinguished visitors. The three men returned to report the treachery of Banu Qurayza to the Prophet.
Banu Qurayza asked the tribes to give them ten days to get ready. During those ten days the tribes were to begin the fighting, entering into heavy fighting by the time the Banu Qurayza were ready. The tribes divided themselves into strategic positions. One contingent was to enter Medina from the side, another from above it, while Abu Sufyan with the main force was to engage Mohamed and his army, and stood facing the trench ready for action.