Alice C. Linsley
Mohammed left Mecca in 622 A.D. after the Meccan chiefs of his own tribe had attempted to kill him. He went to Medina which was then called Yathrib. Compared with arid Mecca, Yathrib was a paradise with lush gardens, date-palm groves, and productive farms. It was originally a Horite settlement. Yathrib (yt-rb) means "that which belongs to the son." The Y is a solar symbol also used to designate rulers such as Yaqtan, Yitzak, Yisbak, Yacob, Yosef, etc.
Medina is situated on the western edge of the central Arabian plateau in the heart of the region of Dedan. The Dedanites descended from Kush and from Abraham by his couisn wife, Keturah. Dedan the Younger was the son of Abraham's son Joktan.
Most Southern Arabians are descended from Abraham through Joktan, his first-born son. He is remembered by Arabs as Yaqtan. Josephus knew him as Joctan and his name is preserved in the ancient town of Jectan near Mecca.
Medina had a population of roughly 10,000 people when Mohammed arrived. Word of his prophetic utterances had gone before him and he was greeted by the common folk as a prophet, many urging him to stay in their homes which they believed would bring a blessing upon their households. In Medina there were three clans of Kenites, descendents of Kain, the earliest ruler named in the Bible. The Kenites had communities throughout the territories of Ham, Shem, Midian, Dedan, Raamah, Sheba and Joktan/Yaqtan.
In Medina, Mohammed built an open-air mosque with a shaded area to the south called the suffah and he aligned the prayer space facing north towards Jerusalem. The qibla (prayer direction) was later changed to face Mecca, to the south. Adjoining this mosque were homes for Mohammed’s two wives Sauda and Aisha. Aisha lived long after Mohammed died and was regarded as a prophet in her own right. Later Mohammed added other apartments for his many concubines. One of these was a Jewish girl named Safiya, who had been betrothed to the chief Kinana, who was slain when Mohammed’s raiders attacked the Khaibar Jews in their settlement six days journey northeast of Yathrib.
Among the people in Medina, there was a small community of Jews, a three-clan confederation who had resided in this area from before recorded history. These Jews agreed to protect Yathrib alongside Mohammed were the Meccans to attack. The agreement, called the Constitution of Medina, stated that “The Jews shall be responsible for their expenses and the Believers for theirs. Each, if attacked, shall come to the assistance of the other.” It also stated that “The Jews shall maintain their own religion and the Muslims theirs.” The nature of this treaty is the subject of dispute among historians. Many maintain that it is a cobbling together of oral and written agreements, and likely reflects different periods.
The Banu Kainuka (بنو قينقاع) was one of the Jewish clans living in Medina. In 624, they threatened Mohammed's political authority by rejecting his claim to be The Prophet of Allah. Around this time, a Moslem girl visited a goldsmith shop owned by one of the Kainuka Jews. As she sat in the shop a mischievous Kainuka pinned her skirt behind her to her upper dress. When she arose she cried out in shame at her exposure. A Moslem then slew the offending Jew, whose brothers retaliated by killing the Moslem. For fifteen days, Mohammed blockaded the Kainuka Jews in their quarter until they surrendered. He then ordered them to leave Medina without their possessions.
These Jews were descendants of Kain or "Kenites" who had intermarried with their Arab brothers for many centuries. They numbered about 700, and their principal occupation was metal work. They resided in two fortresses in the south-western part of the city and they had Arabic names. Old Arabic, sometimes called "Dedanite" was in use in this region since the 8th century B.C.
Mohammed considered himself at war with the rulers of Mecca and felt justified in removing hostile elements living in Medina. He attacked the Banu-Nadhir Jews, charging them with helping his enemies and plotting against his life. After a three-week siege, these Jews were forced to leave Medina. This time, each family was allowed to take as much as a camel could carry.
Mohammed appropriated their date orchards to support his household, and distributed other lands among his supporters.
Arab historians identify twenty Jewish clans living among the Arabs, including two priestly lines. These priestly lines are traced back to Abraham's Afro-Arabian ancestors. The priestly lines intermarried, with priests marrying the daughters of priests. This intermarriage began long before Jews can be identified as a separate group in about 580 BC. The ruling ancestors of Jews and Arabs intermarried so that the two groups are blood kin.
1. Kain is associated with metal smiths and one of his descendents – Tubal-Kain – is said to be the “father” of smiths. Smiths held a high social status in the ancient world. Early in the Upper Nile, Badari smiths smelted copper. These are the same people who used ritual flint knives for circumcision, such at that used by Zipporah.
2. Ibn Ishak, an 8th century A.D., historian wrote a history for Muslims which includes genealogies representing the Islamic tradition. He appears to be the principal source of information about the Constitution of Medina.
3. The highest concentration of Old Arabic texts has been found in the region of Dedan. Genesis 10:7 tell us that Dedan the Elder was a grandson of the Kush by his son Raamah.
4. A large bull camel can carry up to 1323 pounds (600 kg) and smaller camels up to 882 pounds (400 kg). To read about Abraham's camels, go here.