General View

The Reality of Ka’b bin Ashraf the Blasphemer

The story of Ka’b ibn al Ashraf!

Ka’b bin al Ashraf, was a Jewish leader and he was a very eloquent poet. When the news was carried to Madina of the victory of the Muslims in the battle of Badr and Ka’b ibn al Ashraf heard of that news he said

If this news is true, then being under the earth is better for us, then being on top of it. Meaning, it is better for us to die. What good is there in living after the Kuffar of Quraysh have been defeated.

And he started making poems in which he would lament the loss of the Mushrikeen and he would also speak against the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and the Muslims.

Then he went on to Makkah to present to them his poetry and to also join them in their losses.

And he went further and started mentioning Muslim women in his poetry. So the Prophet of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said Who will take care of Ka’b ibn Ashraf because he has harmed Allah and his Messenger?. Muhammad bin Maslamah (may Allah be pleased with him), one of the Ansar from the tribe of Aws said: .I will do so O Messenger of Allah! Do you want me to kill him?

The Prophet of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, Yes!

Muhammad bin al Maslamah had now given a promise; he has given his word that he would kill Ka’b ibn Ashraf!

He went back home and started thinking about this and it seemed to be quite a difficult thing. Ka’b ibn Ashraf was living in a fortress, in a Jewish area, surrounded by his supporters, so it was a very, very difficult thing to do! And he became quite concerned about this and his concern prevented him from eating and drinking except from that that would make him survive! For three days he would barely eat or drink anything.

That news reached the Prophet of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), so the Prophet called him and said .What.s wrong with you, Muhammad ibn Maslamah, is it true that you have stopped eating or drinking?

Muhammad ibn Maslamah said, yes The Prophet of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) asked him .Why?

He said, I have promised you something and I wonder whether I would be successful and able to fulfill it! The Prophet of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) told him

All what you have to do is do your effort and leave the rest on Allah Almighty.

Muhammad ibn Maslamah (may Allah be pleased with him) said, O Messenger of Allah, then you will have to allow me to speak against you!

So the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, Say whatever you want!

Muhammad bin Maslamah and a small group of Ansar, all from his tribe Aws, went to first visit Ka’b bin Ashraf to set up the trap for him. One of the men with Muhammad was Abu Na’ilah, it is mentioned that he was the foster brother of Ka’b bin al Ashraf.

They told Ka’b , This man has been a test from Allah to us, he has been a problem, he is a disaster. they are referring to Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and theArabs have all fought us and taken us as enemies because of him.

Ka’b told him .I already told you so, and you are going to see even worse times.

Muhammad ibn al Maslamah said .Well we want to wait and see how all of this will end. He is now trying to build rapport with him. So Ka’b, our financial situation has deteriorated because of this man, we want to borrow from you some bargain and we want to leave you a guarantee!

He said, .Well, leave me your children.

They said, We leave you our children and for the rest of their lives people will tell them that your parents have put you in for a small amount of bargain, it will be shame on them for the rest of their lives!

He said .Then you leave with me your women.

They said .How can we leave our women with you and you are the most handsome man? But we will bring with us and leave with you our weapons!

He said .Fine! 

Muhammad bin Maslamah set him up so that next time when they would bring their weapons with them, he would not be suspicious.

So they set an appointment and they came back to him and they called him late at night, as it was the right time.

His wife told him .I can smell blood in this voice! 

He said don’t worry this is Muhammad ibn Maslamah my friend, and it is my brother Abu Na.ilah. So it shows there was some good relationship between them, there was friendship since the time of Ignorance.

So he went down to meet them, Muhammad ibn Maslamah set up a sign with his companions he told them .When you see me grab at his head, then tear him apart with your swords.. This was the sign. 

So Ka’b came down and they told him .What about we go walking to Sh’b al A.jooz and spend our night over there talking?.

He said Fine.

So they were able to drag him away from his fortress, to this faraway place called Sh’b al A’jooz.

And when they reached there, Muhammad ibn Maslamah told Ka’b, Wow! This smell that is coming from you is so beautiful! (He had musk or some other perfume in his hair)

Can I smell it?

He said, .Yes, go ahead!

So Muhammad ibn Maslamah put his hand in his head and pulled it towards him and smelled it.

He said it’s wonderful! (This was a test- a trial)

The next time, he told him .Can you let me smell it again?

He said, .Yes, go ahead!

He grabbed him and the swords started striking at Ka’b ibn Ashraf. But they were not sufficient to kill him and he screamed for help. All the fortresses were lit up in a moment. Muhammad ibn

Maslamah said, I remembered that I had a dagger with me so I pulled it out and I stuck it in his stomach and pulled it down until it hit the pubic bone and then we left!

This is how Muhammad ibn Maslamah and his men from Aws dealt with the one who cursed the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)! 
Ibn Taymiyah mentions this story in his book As Sarim al Maslool ala Shatim arRasool. The drawn sword on the one who curses the Messenger and he mentions a few things, which we will go through.

First of all, he brings a narration from Al Waqidi one of the scholars of Seerah. Al Waqidi talks about the consequences of what happened as this was a very powerful and special operation the consequences of which were great. It sent a ripple among the Jewish community and the disbelieving community that was surrounding Madina!

So Al Waqidi says: The Jews mobilized along with Mushrikeen and came to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) in the morning and said,  Our man who was one of our noble men and leaders was assassinated last night!

They said Qutila Ghilah and Ghilah means assassination and this word also has some negative connotations because it means that the person was killed and taken by surprise, he didn’t know about it, it wasn’t a duel, it wasn’t a one-on-one, he was killed in secret without him knowing about it!

They said .He was assassinated without committing any crime!

Why was Ka’b bin al Ashraf killed, that was their question put to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him), because there was an agreement between the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) and all of the Jews. It’s well known in Seerah that when the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) came to Madina he had a peace agreement with all of the Jews.

Now Ka’b ibn al Ashraf was killed, WHY? HOW COME THAT HAPPENED? What did the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) say? The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said:

If he had calmed down, like others who follow his opinion or are on the same opinion as his have calmed down, he wouldn’t have been assassinated! But he has harmed us and he has defamed us with his poetry, and none of you would do this except we would deal with him with the sword!

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) is saying that there are many who have in their hearts the same belief as Ka’b bin Ashraf; he wasn’t killed because of that! So he was not killed because of his disbelief, he was not killed because he hated the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him); he was not killed because he hated the Muslims, NO! There are many people who have that disease in their hearts and we have left them alone. .If he had calmed down like other people calmed down, we wouldn’t have assassinated him. But he spoke against us, he spoke against me and he defamed me with his poetry.

And then he made it clear to the Jews: If any one of you, you the Jews or the Mushrikeen, try to.

 Seerah meaning the life story of the ProphetAs Sarim al Maslool ala shatim ar Rasool (Evidences from the Sunnah on the killing of a Zimmi who curses the Messenger of Allah) defame me through your words this will be the way we deal with you, there is nothing between us and you except the sword! There will be no dialogue, there will be no forgiveness, there will be no building of bridges, there will be no attempts of reconciliation there will be only the sword between me and you, and he made it very clear. And then, he called them to come and sign a document in which they all state their agreement that they will not speak against him.

Ibn Taymiyah says, and this is evidence that harming Allah and his Messenger is a reason to encourage Muslims to kill whoever does that even if they have a contract with the Muslims, even if there is a covenant!

Ibn Taymiyah in his book responds to some of the arguments and doubts that were placed against this Huqm. So he uses this story as an evidence to refute those arguments.


Some people tried to twist the meaning of this hadith and say that Ka’b was killed because he was encouraging the disbelievers to fight against Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) and not because of his words.

Ibn Taymiyah says .NO! He was killed because of his poetry which was even before he set out to go to Makkah. So it had nothing to do with him going to Makkah and encouraging them to fight the Muslims, it was specifically because of his poetry!

And then he says,

Everything that Ibn Ashraf did was harm by the tongue. His lamenting of the killed of the disbelievers and his encouraging them to fight, and his cursing and his defamation and his putting down of the religion of Islam and preferring the religion of the disbelievers, all of this were words by the tongue. And he did not do anything that included physical fighting of the believers and what he did was harmed the Muslims with his tongue. And this is a Hujjah. This is evidence against anyone who would argue in these issues. And it is clear that the blood of such a person who harms Allah and his Messenger by poetry and defamation is not protected by any means.


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