A Jewish tribe in Medina. It appears to have been chiefly composed of priestly families, as this, together with the Banu Ḳuraiẓa, was styled "Alkahinan" (The Two Priests). Their habitations were situated in the northern environs of Medina, notably Bu'airah, al-Nawa'im, Mudainib, and the castles of Al-Buwailah, Baraj, Ghars, and Fadija. At the time of Mohammed the following persons were their leaders: Ḥuyayy ibn Akhtab, his brothers Abu Jāsir and Juday, Sallam ibn Mishkam, and some others. The poet Ka'ab b. al-Ashraf, a member of this tribe, the son of an Arab father and a Jewish mother, was an enemy of Mohammed and composed poems hostile to his cause. Mohammed, therefore, wished to be rid of him, and accepted the services of an Arab who offered to assassinate him. The deed was done and approved of by Mohammed. The simile in the Koran (vii. 175), "His likeness is as the likeness of a dog" (kalb), etc., is probably an allusion to "Ka'ab." After his death Mohammed proceeded to attack the whole tribe. He besieged them and burnt their palm-trees, which was against the customs of war in Arabia. The Jews were obliged to surrender, but were permitted to depart. Their estates, goods, and chattels were confiscated, and they were only allowed to take one camel-load for each group of three persons. They left for the north, and founded new habitations partly in Khaibar and partly in Syria, near the refugees of the Banu Ḳainuḳa'a. The chief cause of their disaster was lack of unity.
- Hirschfeld, Essai sur l'Histoire des Juifs de Medine, in Revue Etudes Juives, vii. 170 et seq., x. 169 et seq.;
- New Researches into the Composition and Exegesis of the Qoran;
- Wellhausen, Skizzen und Vorarbeiten, iv. 7 et seq.