The Battle of Khyber was a battle of great significance. After emerging victorious in the battle, the Muslims gained more strength and power. The battle allowed Islam to spread beyond Madina. The battle of Khyber was fought against the Jews.
1-Jews had established a great settlement at about a hundred miles from Madina. This Jewish settlement was named as Khyber as the Jews had built about 6-7 forts. Different groups of Jews had occupied each fort. The Khyber was a significant market as it was an oasis blessed with dates.
2-As the Battle of Khyber took place after the Battle of the trench (khandaq), there are some points to be made clear.
Jewish tribes had offered help in the battle of Trench and after Muslims were able to emerge victorious in the battle of the trench, the Jews belonging to the Jewish tribes named Banu Qainuqah and Banu Nadhir had no option left but to seek refuge in Khyber.
The Jews wanted to take revenge from Muslims by invading into Madina. They were planning an alliance with the Quraish but the Quraish had entered the treaty of Hudabiyah with the Muslims. The treaty of Hudabiyah forbids the Quraish from forming an alliance with Jews to attack the city of Madina.
3-After the treaty of Hudabiyah, the Muslims under the commandment of Holy Prophet PBUH started preparing to hold a battle against the Jews. The Muslim army approached Khyber for an attack at the beginning of Muharram in 7th Hijri.
When the Jews saw that the Muslims army had appeared, they were shocked. The Prophet PBUH asked the Jews to surrender, but they were very proud of their mighty forts and said that Muslims shall prepare themselves for losing the battle.
4-The Jews locked themselves inside the forts. The Muslims attacked the forts one by one. The first fort on which the battle was fought was the Fort Naim. The Muslims were able to capture the fort under the leadership of Muhammad bin Muslimah, who died during the fierce battle.
Later on, Muslims were able to take over other small forts, yet one of the greatest challenges for Muslims was to capture the fort Qamus. Qamus was one of the most important forts. The strong fort was regarded unconquerable.
5-The Holy Prophet PBUH sent Muslim army under the commandment of Hazrat Abu Bakr R.A towards the fort Qumus. The Muslim army was unable to conquer the fort. The fort became a great challenge for Muslims.
For 21 days Muslims fought hard to capture the fort. Every day the Muslims would charge the fort with different technique under the commandment of a different person. The Holy Prophet PBUH changed the commander every day, yet none was able to conquer the fort.
6-The next day, the Holy Prophet PBUH announced that the fort would be conquered in the morning as commandment would be given to the person who is beloved of Allah and the Holy Prophet PBUH. This not only made Muslims happier that finally they would be able to take charge of the fort but also made them curious about the person who would be given commandment the next day.
7-In the morning the Muslim army got ready for the battle and was anxiously waiting to hear the name of the Beloved commander. The Holy Prophet PBUH announced the name of Hazrat Ali R.A. as the commander.
The Holy Prophet approached Hazrat Ali R.A and put the armor on him. The Holy Prophet put the armor on Ali with his own hands. The Holy Prophet PBUH prayed for the Muslim force, he prayed for their victory and then ordered them to attack the fort in the name of Allah.
8-When the Muslims approached the fort Qamus, one of the most reputed warriors of Jews named Marhab came out. He challenged Ali for a fight. Marhab was sure that he would win as he was considered a warrior equivalent to a thousand warriors.
He sang a battle song declaring that he is a lion whom none can face. Ali accepted the challenge saying that he is Lion of Allah and that he fights in the name of Allah. As soon as the fight started, Marhab was killed by Ali in a few moments! Ali was blessed with great powers that day.
Seeing the loss of a great warrior, another powerful Jewish warrior came out to fight against Hazrat Ali. Rabih bin Abu Aqiq came out to kill his prey but missed it. However, Ali didn’t miss his prey and killed Rabih with a single stroke of his sword. Soon, another Jewish warrior, Yasir was put to death by Hazrat Ali.
9-This made Jews fearful. Within no time their three great warriors had been knocked out. They started to hide inside the fort yet Ali skillfully attacked the gate before it was closed.
The gate was uprooted by Hazrat Ali and allowed Muslim army to enter the fort. Muslims were able to kill a number of Jews who resisted them. When Jews saw that they held no chance against the Muslims, the surrendered. The fort which was considered unconquerable was now conquered by the Muslims.
10-Hazrat Ali went towards the Muslim camp as a successful commander. He greeted the Holy Prophet PBUH and delighted him with the news of victory. The camp rejoiced with the victory.
The Jewish law stated that in such a case, all male Jews could be killed. Yet the Jews asked for a favor and offered that they would give half the produce of their land to Muslims. The Muslims agreed and Jews remained under the dominance of Muslims.