Kab returned to Madinah and continued his verbal attacks on the Prophet and his abuse of Muslim women. He refused, after warnings from the Prophet, to stop his dirty campaign and sinister intrigues. He was bent on fomenting a revolt against the Prophet and the Muslims in Madinah. By all these actions, Kab had openly declared war against the Prophet. He was dangerous and a public enemy to the nascent Muslim state. The Prophet was quite exasperated with him and said to the Muslims: "Who will deal with Kab ibn al-Ashraf? He has offended God and His Apostle."
"I shall deal with him for you, O Messenger of God," volunteered Muhammad ibn Maslamah.
This, however, was no easy undertaking. Muhammad ibn Maslamah, according to one report, went home and stayed for three days without either eating or drinking, just thinking about what he had to do. The Prophet heard of this, called him and asked him why he had not been eating or drinking. He replied: "O Messenger of God, I gave an undertaking to you but I do not know whether I can accomplish it or not." "Your duty is only to try your utmost," replied the Prophet.
Muhammad ibn Maslamah then went to some other companions of the Prophet and told them what he had undertaken to do. They included Abu Nailah, a foster brother of Kab ibn al-Ahsraf. They agreed to help him and he devised a plan to accomplish the mission. They went back to the Prophet to seek his approval since the plan involved enticing Kab from his fortress residence through some deception. The Prophet gave his consent on the principle that war involved deceit.
Both Muhammad ibn Maslamah who was in fact a nephew of Kab by fosterage and Abu Nailah then went to Kab's residence. Muhammad ibn Maslamah was the first to speak: "This man (meaning the Prophet, peace be on him) has asked us for sadaqah (charitable tax) and we cannot even find food to eat. He is oppressing us with his laws and prohibitions and I thought I could come to you to ask for a loan."
"By God, I am much more dissatisfied with him," confessed Kab. "We have followed him but we do not want to leave him until we see how this whole business will end. We would like you to lend us a wasaq or two of gold," continued Muhammad ibn Maslamah.
"Isn't it about time that you realize what falsehood you are tolerating from him? asked Kab as he promised to give them the loan. "However," he said, "you must provide security (for the loan)."
"What security do you want?" they asked. "Give me your wives as security," he suggested. "How can we give you our wives as security ," they protested, "when you are the most handsome of Arabs?"
"Then give me your children as security," Kab suggested. "How can we give you our children as security when any one of them would thereafter be ridiculed by being called a hostage for one or two wasaqs of gold. This would be a disgrace to us. But we could give you our (means of) protection (meaning weapons) since you know that we need them."
Kab agreed to this suggestion which they had made to disabuse his mind of any notion that they had come armed. They promised to come back to him again to bring the weapons.
Meanwhile, Abu Nailah also came up to Kab and said: "Woe to you, Ibn Ashraf. I have come to you intending to mention something to you and you do not encourage me." Kab asked him to go on and Abu Nailah said: "The coming of this man to us has been a source of affliction to our Arab customs. With one shot he has severed our ways and left families hungry and in difficulties. We and our families are struggling." Kab replied: "I, Ibn al-Ashraf, by God, I had told you, son of Salamah, that the matter would end up as I predicted." Abu Nailah replied: "I wish you could sell us some food and we would give you whatever form of security and trust required. Be good to us. I have friends who share my views on this and I want to bring them to you so that you could sell them some food and deal well towards them. We will come to you and pledge our shields and weapons to you as security." "There is loyalty and good faith in weapons," agreed Kab.
With this they left promising to return and bring the required security for the loan. They went back to the Prophet and reported to him what had happened. That night, Muhammad ibn Maslamah, Abu Nailah, Abbad ibn Bisnr, Al-Harith ibn Aws and Abu Abasah ibn Jabr all set off for Kabs house. The Prophet went with them for a short distance and parted with the words:
"Go forth in the name of God." And he prayed: "O Lord, help them." The Prophet returned home. It was a moonlit night in the month of Rabi al-Awwal in the third year of the hijrah.
Muhammad ibn Maslamah and the four with him reached Kab's house. They called out to him. As he got out of bed, his wife held him and warned: "You are a man at war. People at war do not go down at such an hour." "It is only my nephew Muhammad ibn Maslamah and my foster brother, Abu Nailah..." Kab came down with his sword drawn. He was heavily scented with the perfume of musk.
"I have not smelt such a pleasant scent as today," greeted Muhammad ibn Maslamah. "Let me smell your head." Kab agreed and as Muhammad bent over, he grasped Kab's head firmly and called on the others to strike down the enemy of God.
(Details of this incident vary somewhat. Some reports state that it was Abu Nailah who gave the command to strike down Kab and this was done after Kab had emerged from his house and walked with them for some time. )
The elimination of Kab ibn al-Ashraf struck terror into the hearts of those, and there were many of them in Madinah, who plotted and intrigued against the Prophet. Such open hostility as Kab's diminished for a time but certainly did not cease.
At the beginning of the fourth year of the hijrah, the Prophet went to the Jewish tribe of Banu Nadir on the outskirts of Madinah to seek their help on a certain matter. While among them, he found out that they were planning to kill him then and there. He had to take decisive action. The Banu Nadir had gone too far. Straight away, the Prophet went back to the center of the city. He summoned Muhammad ibn Maslamah and sent him to inform the Banu Nadir that they had to leave Madinah within ten days because of their treacherous behavior and that any one of them seen after that in the city would forfeit his life.
One can just imagine Muhammad ibn Maslamah addressing the Banu Nadir. His towering stature and his loud and clear voice combined to let the Banu Nadir know that the Prophet meant every word he said and that they had to stand the consequences of their treacherous acts. The fact that the Prophet chose Muhammad ibn Maslamah for the task is a tribute to his loyalty, courage and firmness.
Further details of the expulsion of the Banu Nadir from Madinah do not concern us here: their plan to resist the Prophet with outside help; the Prophet's siege of their district and their eventual surrender and evacuation mainly to Khaybar in the north. Two of the Banu Nadir though became MusIims - Yamin ibn Umayr and Abu Sad ibn Wahb. Ali this happened exactly one year after the elimination of Kab ibn al-Ashraf.
Both during the time of the Prophet and after, Muhammad ibn Maslamah was known for carrying out any assignment he accepted exactly as he was ordered, neither doing more nor less than he was asked to do. It was these qualities which made Umar choose him as one of his ministers and as a trusted friend and guide.
When Amr ibn al-Aas requested reinforcements during his expedition to Egypt, Umar sent him four detachments of one thousand men each. Leading these detachments were Muhammad ibn Maslamah, az-Zubayr ibn aI-Awwam, Ubadah ibn as-Samit and al-Miqdad ibn al-Aswad. To Amr, Umar sent a message saying, "Let me remind you that I am sending Muhammad ibn Maslamah to you to help you distribute your wealth. Accommodate him and forgive any harshness of his towards you."
Ibn Maslamah went to Amr in Fustat (near present-day Cairo).. He sat at his table but did not touch the food. Amr asked him: "Did Umar prevent you from tasting my food?" "No," replied ibn Maslamah, "he did not prevent me from having your food but neither did he command me to eat of it." He then placed a flat loaf of bread on the table and ate it with salt. Amr became upset and said: "May God bring to an end the time in which we work for Umar ibn al-Khattab! I have witnessed a time when al-Khattab and his son Umar were wandering around wearing clothes which could not even cover them properly while Al-Aas ibn Wail (Amr's father) sported brocade lined with gold..."
"As for your father and the father of Umar, they are in hell," retorted Muhammad ibn Maslamah, because they did not accept Islam. "As for you, if Umar did not give you an appointment, you would have been pleased with what you got from their udders," continued Ibn Maslamah obviously disabusing Amr's mind of any ideas he might have of appearing superior because he was the governor of Egypt.
"Assemblies must be conducted as a form of trust," said Amr in an attempt to diffuse the situation and Muhammad ibn Maslamah replied: "Oh yes, so long as Umar is alive." He wanted to impress upon people the justice of Umar and the egalitarian teachings of Islam. Muhammad ibn Maslamah was a veritable scourge against all arrogant and haughty behavior.
On another occasion and at another end of the Muslim state under his caliphate, Umar heard that the famous Sad ibn Abi Waqqas was building a palace at Kufa. Umar sent Muhammad ibn Maslamah to deal with the situation. On reaching Kufa, Muhammad promptly burnt the palace down. One does not know whether people were more surprised by the instructions of Umar or by the humiliation of Sad ibn Abi Waqqas, the famed fighter, conqueror at Qadisiyyah, and the one praised by the Prophet himself for his sacrifices at Uhud.
Sad did not say a word. This was all part of the great process of self-criticism and rectification which helped to make Islam spread and establish it on foundations of justice and piety.
Muhammad ibn Maslamah served Umar's successor, Uthman ibn Allan, faithfully. When, however, the latter was killed and civil war broke out among the Muslims, Muhammad ibn Maslamah did not participate. The sword which he always used and which was given to him by the Prophet himself he deliberately broke. During the time of the Prophet, he was known as the "Knight of the Prophet". By refusing to use the sword against Muslims he preserved this reputation undiminished.
Subsequently, he made a sword from wood and fashioned it well. He placed it in a scabbard and hung it inside his house. When he was asked about it he said: "I simply hang it there to terrify people." Muhammad ibn Maslamah died in Madinah in the month of Safar in the year 46 AH. He was seventy seven years old.