Yathrib had been chosen by Allah to shelter the Messenger of God (peace be upon him) after his migration and to bring forth not only the first Islamic Society but also to serve as a focal point for the universal call of Islam. The great honor accorded to the city makes it necessary to know its distinctive features. Such as its physical, social and cultural conditions, the Arab tribes living there and their mutual relations, the economic and political manipulations of the Jews and their fighting spirit as well as the way of life sustained by its fertile land. Various religions, cultures and communities flourished in the city tremendously, contrary to Makkah, which was dominated by one faith and one cultural pattern. The details given here, albeit briefly, depict the state of affairs in Madinah when the Prophet (peace be upon him) made his debut in that city.
The view preferred by historians about Jewish settlements in Arabia, at large and those in Madinah, in particular, is that they date from the first century A.D. Dr. Israel Welphenson writes that:
After Palestine and Jerusalem were laid waste in 70 A.D. and the Jews dispersed to different parts of the world, a number of them made their way to Arabia. This is in accordance with the Jewish historian Josephus, who was himself present at the siege of Jerusalem and had led the Jewish units on several occasions. Arab sources also corroborate his statement.”
Three Jewish tribes, Qaynuqaa’, an-Nadhir and Quraydha, were settled in Madinah. The number of adults belonging to these tribes was over two thousand where Qaynuqaa’ was estimated to have seven hundred combatants, with an-Nadir having almost the same number too, while the grown-ups of Quraydha were reported to be between seven and nine hundred. (1)
These tribes were not in good terms and very often they are caught in confrontations with one another. Dr. Israel Welphenson says: