This is the story of Rabbi Mukhayriq – the first Jewish martyr of Islam.
Mukhayriq, a Rabbi from Madina, who fought in the battle of Uhud together with Prophet Muhammad ﷺ against the enemies of Islam and was martyred in it.
According to Ibn Ishaq, the earliest biographer of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, Mukhayriq is a wealthy, well- respected and learned leader of the tribe of Tha’labah, who had affection for Prophet Muhammad ﷺ because he have seen Muhammad ﷺ as a Prophet of the One God.
During the battle of Uhud, which was fought on Saturday, Rabbi Mukhayriq addressed and asked his tribesmen to go and support Prophet Muhammad ﷺ by joining him in the battle. Some agreed to support and others declined saying that it fell upon the day of Sabbath.
According to orthodox Jewish Shari’ah, Jewish men are not supposed to go to war on the Sabbath unless they are being attacked.
Mukhayriq severely reprimand them for not understanding the deeper meaning of Sabbath and said the congregation that he would fight to protect Muhammad ﷺfrom his enemies. He then commanded his people that if died in battle against the Makkans, his entire wealth should go to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, said, “He was the best of Jews.”
Mukhayriq died fighting alongside Prophet Muhammad ﷺ against the Makkans and was martyred. And when Prophet ﷺ, who was severely wounded in the battle of Uhud, was informed about Mukhayriq’s death, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, said, “He was the best of Jews.”
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ inherited seven date palm orchards and other forms of wealth from Mukhayriq and he used this wealth to establish the first ever waqf – a “charitable endowment of Islam”.
It was from this rabbi’s endowment that the Prophet ﷺ helped many poor in Madina.
Why did Rabbi Mukhayriq give such extraordinary support to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ?
When Prophet Muhammad ﷺ migrated from Makkah to Madina in 622, various tribes signed a treaty with Prophet ﷺ that is referred to by historians as The Constitution of Madina.
Based on this social contract, the first Islamic, a multi-tribal and multi-religious state was established by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in Madina.
In accordance with this constitution, all tribes (including Mukhayriq’s people) constituted one nation (ummah) and were obliged to help and fight with Muhammad ﷺ and bear their own expenses.
In a way Rabbi Mukhayriq, a well-respected scholar of Jews, a true citizen of the state of Madina was fulfilling a social contract.
This story of interfaith charity by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and Mukhayriq, a Jew who was “a true Islamic hero” whose loyalty, bravery, sacrifice and generosity can inspire and build bridges between various religious communities.
Dr. Muqtedar Khan, an associate professor of Political Science and founding Director of the Islamic Studies Program at the University of Delaware in his article calls the story of Rabbi Mukhayriq’s sacrifice “fantastic”.
Perhaps it is about people like Mukhayriq that the Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَ says:
وَإِنَّ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ لَمَن يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكُمْ وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْهِمْ خَاشِعِينَ لِلَّهِ لَا يَشْتَرُونَ بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا ۗ أُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ
“And there are, certainly, among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), those who believe in Allah and in that which has been revealed to you, and in that which has been revealed to them, humbling themselves before Allah. They do not sell the Verses of Allah for a little price, for them is a reward with their Lord. Surely, Allah is Swift in account. (Quran 3:199).”