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MARḤAB IBN AL-ḤARITH:

Jewish Arabian warrior and poet; killed during Mohammed'sinvasion of Khaibar about 628. Marḥab, who was of Himyarite descent, distinguished himself by his bravery in defending one of the forts of Khaibar. He is represented in the "Ta'rikh alḤamis" (quoted by Caussin de Perceval) as a man of uncommon strength and audacity, wearing two cuirasses, a double turban and a helmet, and a sword at each side, and brandishing a three-pointed lance. According to the custom of Arab warriors, Marḥab sent a poem challenging any of Mohammed's heroes to single combat. Ali, Mohammed's cousin and third successor, answered the challenge, and Marḥab was killed. According to Ibn Hisham, Mohammed's biographer, it was Mohammed ibn Maslamah, who, wishing to avenge his brother, killed on the previous day, offered to fight Marḥab. Ibn Hisham further says that the two combatants kept a tree between them as a defense, and that the branches of the tree immediately over their heads were soon cut away. Marḥab accidentally dropping his sword, Mohammed seized the opportunity to deal him a fatal blow.

Bibliography:
  • Caussin de Perceval, Essai sur l'Histoire des Arabes, iii. 195 et seq.;
  • Grätz, Gesch. 3d ed., v. 105-106;
  • Ibn Hisham, Kitab Sirat Rasul Allah, pp. 760-761, ed. Wüstenfeld, Göttingen, 1858.
J. M. Sel.
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