In the name of Allāh,
the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Peace and Blessings of Allāh on Mohammad.
Allāh–the Glorious and the High,
Lord of the worlds
Mohammad–who brought the world
to our feet and eternity to our arms.
JEWS & RAIDING PARTIES; KA’B al-ASHRAF
Mohammad and the Bani Quraiza: In his book Why I am not a Muslim, Ibn Warraq wrote (p. 32):“Norman Stillman describes Watt’s justification of the murder of between 600 and 900 Jews of Qurayzah by the Muslims under Muhammad as “as strong an apologetic defense of Muhammad’s conduct on this occasion as might be expected from any devout Muslim.”
And Stillman’s baseless claim is “as strong” a condemnation of Mohammad’s “conduct on this occasion as might be expected from any devout” critic of Islam.
These Jews were not “murder(ed),” they were executed for treason; and executed under the dictates of the Torah. Mohammad did not pass this judgment. This judgment was rendered by the person chosen by the Jews to arbitrate on their behalf. Whatever misfortune the Quraiza’s suffered were due to their own orchestration. Which fate was of their own choosing seeing that they demanded “that they should submit to the sentence of punishment pronounced by Sa’d ibn Mu’adh.” The men were “put to death” and the women and children ransomed “in accordance with the Jewish law”–Deut. 20:12-14.”1 And Deut. 20:12-14 say that if the people will not make peace but war with you then: “thou shalt besiege it; And when the Lord thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword: But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself.”
If Mohammad was pleased with this decision by Sa’d, Mohammad was justified because as believers in the Torah they were judged and sentenced according to the Torah. Thus, Mohammad being pleased was not because the Bani Quraiza was executed (for Mohammad could have executed the Bani Nadir instead of expelling them from Madinah) but because the Quraiza had been judged and sentenced according to the law of God.
Mohammad faced death not only from the idolaters on the outside, but also from the Jews in the inside. “The Jews,” as Muhammad Husayn Haykal noted, “sent some of their rabbis to feign conversion to Islam in order to enter Muslim ranks and councils. While showing all piety, these rabbis were commis-sioned to disseminate doubt and suspicion of Muhammad among his own people.…A number of hypocrites from al Aws and al Khazraj tribes joined Islam for the same purpose.” And “…upon Muhammad’s arrival at Madinah” the Jews, “after befriending him and pledging to honor his freedom to practice and preach the new religion, they had begun to oppose and plot against him. In fact, no sooner had Muhammad settled down and the prospects of Islam had begun to improve, than the Jews, for their part, began their undeclared war against him. Their opposition and hostility were never open.”2
Muhammad Ali noted that upon his settling into Madinah the Prophet Muhammad made a “treaty of mutual obligation” with the Jews in which “the Muslims and the Jews were bound not only not to turn their hands against each other but also to defend one another against a common enemy;” and “when the enemy laid siege to Madinah, they were bound to repel the attack.” But, “Instead of this they sided with the investing army.” The Quraiza’s “were in alliance with the Prophet, but when the Quraish attacked Medinah, which, under the treaty, they were bound to repel, they secretly sided with the invading army.” 3
Mohammad and the Bani Qaynuqa: Ibn Warraq uses the conjectures of “several eminent scholars” in his effort to portray the Prophet Mohammad as “no more than the head of a robber community, unwilling to earn an honest living.” (Ibid, pp. 91-94).
Qur’an 3:12-13, (vvs. 10-11): “Say to those who disbelieve: You shall be vanquished, and driven together to hell; and evil is the resting place,” does not refer to the Jewish tribe of Qaynuqa, as Warraq claims; but to the disbelievers in general. As Muhammad Ali explained: “This is one of the passages in which the punishment of this life, which is vanquishment, is spoken of in the same breath with the punishment of the Hereafter, which is hell.” Reading from the beginning of this section (from verse 9) to verse 12 makes this clear.
That Mohammad was “head of a robber community”: Can pomegranates be had from a cactus plant? What a rare and astounding feat! That this “robber community” should become the practitioners of the highest morality, the pioneers of progress, and the inhabitors of thrones by following a leader who indulged them in “lying and treachery,” “obscenity” of language, and the want of the “goods and wives” of others.The many nations of the world today could use the leadership of this “robber” chief. There would be (through promiscuity) no more AIDS, syphilis and gonorrhea; no more epidemic of drunkenness and libertine, and ‘junkie’ kids; no more battered wives and broken homes and troubled suffering children; no more unwed parents, unwanted babies, and the sadness and tragedy of discarded infants; no more hypocrisy and double-talk; no more aggression, usurpation and occupation (of other people), persecution and exploitation; hoodlums –blue collars and white– who prey on the resources and on the persons and the lives of others would rightly lose their hands and heads. In fact, society will be free of all of its “dead weight”.
Mohammad and the Bani Nadir: Ibn Warraq wrote:“Needing a victory, Muhammad decided to attack the Jewish tribe of Nadir, who are said to have expressed joy at the defeat of the Muslims. On the pretext that he had received a divine warning of their intention to assassinate him, Muhammad ordered them to leave Medina within ten days on pain of death. After a siege of several weeks, the Jews surrendered and were allowed to leave; they left and joined the Jews of Khaybar, only to be massacred there two years later. This victory over the Jews is referred to at length in sura 59. The Prophet had been well aware of the wealth of the departing Nadir, whose land was divided between the Muslims; Muhammad’s share made him financially independent.” (Ibid, p. 95).
(Qur’an 59:2). That the Prophet Mohammad was under the constant shadow of the assassin’s blade was no “pretext.” This shadow took substance on the eve of the Prophet’s departure to Madinah. The strike was fruitless however as ‘Ali, his future son-in-law and fourth Caliph, had made himself a shield for the noble Messenger. This banishment of the Bani Nadir was not on account of any “pretext” by Mohammad to pre-empt this threat on his life.
“The banishment spoken of here took place six months after the battle of Uhud, when the Bani Nadir, a Jewish tribe of Madinah, who had at first entered into a covenant with the Holy Prophet, showed signs of treachery and were punished with banishment (Bokhari) ….The following detailed account is given by Rz (Razi): The Bani Nadir made a treaty with the Holy Prophet to stand neutral between him and his enemies. When he was victorious at Badr, they said that he was the Prophet promised in the Torah, on account of the victory, but when the Muslims suffered a loss on the day of Uhud, they (i.e., the Bani Nadir) repudiated their vow and broke the agreement. Ka’b, son of Ashraf, went to Makkah with forty horsemen and made an alliance with Abu Sufyan. As a consequence, Ka’b was murdered, and the Holy Prophet told the tribe to leave Madinah. They wanted ten days for preparation, but ‘Abd Allah ibn Ubayy (the head of the hypocrites) advised them not to leave Madinah but to fight against the Prophet, promising the help of his own men. He also assured them that, if they were compelled to go forth, he would go with them. So they fortified themselves within their strong-holds. After having remained besieged for twenty-one days, and having despaired of help from the hypocrites, they surrendered. The Prophet raised the siege on condition that they should depart from Madinah. With the exception of two families that chose to remain at Khaibar, they all went to Syria.
Dr. Prideaux says that the Prophet ordered a party of the Muslims to pursue the emigrants, and that thus they were all put to death. Sale has shown in his note on this verse that the incident from which Dr. Prideaux draws this strange conclusion relates really to the murder in cold blood of seventy Muslims, who, being invited to preach Islam, were treacherously put to death by an Arab tribe.”
“The Bani Nadir, being granted ten days in which to collect and take with them such of their property as they desired, devoted the time at their disposal to the destruction of their houses, lest they should be a source of strength to the Muslims. What remained of them was demolished by the Muslims.”4
No Head of State would tolerate such treachery within its midst. In the twentieth century (and the twenty-first also) people are expelled from their homes, lands, and countries for far less than treachery. If Mohammad wanted to execute the Bani Nadir nothing could have prevented him once they had surrendered. If Mohammad wanted their properties he would not have given them time to collect and to destroy, he would have let them go “empty-handed.” Mohammad could not be unjust to the Jews (or to any other) when he is commanded by Allah to give justice to all, even if it be against his self or parents or kins–(Qur’an 4:135).
If Mohammad’s share of the Bani Nadir’s “wealth” made Mohammad “financially independent,” Mohammad must have been a squanderer of wealth –which goes against the injunctions of Allah; and Mohammad observed the injunctions of Allah– because when he died his shield was in the hands of a Jewish “pawnbroker.”
(It is to be known that a large number of these “killings” that the Prophet Mohammad is said to have ordered was quoted from Ibn Hisham, also known as Ibn Ishaq. It is said of Ibn Ishaq that: “Throughout his work, Ibn Ishaq precedes every statement with the word za`ama or za`amu, he (they) alleged). It carries with it more than a hint that the statement may not be true, though it might be sound. This attitude reflects Ibn Ishaq’s caution and fairness.”* Thus, it is evident that such “killings” may be doubtful. Nevertheless even if the Prophet Mohammad ordered such “killings” they, as shown, are hardly a blot on the Prophet’s character).
(* Quote taken from the Internet, art. Ibn Hisham, from an answer given to an inquirer about the authenticity of reports by Ibn Ishaq/Ibn Hisham).
Mohammad and the Jews of Khaibar: The Prophet Mohammad is alleged to have dealt unjustly with the Jews. The Prophet expelled the Jews from Khaibar because they had proven themselves treacherous. Now, if the Prophet had dealt unjustly with the Jews how were they able to return to Khaibar for them to be expelled a second time (by ‘Umar)? The Prophet never dealt unjustly with anyone, His God would not allow him. These Jews and Christians were not expelled for their religion. If religion was the factor they would not have been allowed back after their first banishment. These Jews and Christians were guilty of “conspiracy and sedition.”
About non-Muslims and religion and these Jews and Christians expelled by ‘Umar, Muhammad Ali: “Non-Muslims enjoyed perfect freedom of religion. Even on grave charges of conspiracy and sedition he gave them but light punishment. When the Jews of Khaibar and the Christians of Najran were on some such charges, ordered to settle elsewhere, they were at the same time paid the full value of their properties from the public treasury. Orders were also issued to allow them special concessions on the journey as well as to exempt them from jizyah for some time.” (The Early Caliphate, p. 118).
People in today’s nations who are guilty of conspiracy and sedition face lifetime in jail, if not the firing squad. Instead of bemoaning the expulsion –which is hardly any punishment for such a crime– of these Jews and Christians, the critics should be praising ‘Umar for his leniency.
Regarding the Jews of Khaibar Irshad Manji wrote in her book The Trouble with Islam: “Consider the terms that Muhammad reportedly dictated to a group of Jewish peasants after his soldiers looted their oasis at Khaybar, north of Medina. She (Bat Ye’or) writes, “The Prophet allowed the Jews to farm their lands, but only as tenants; he demanded delivery of half their harvest and reserved the right to drive them out when he wished.” (Palestinians are being kicked off their lands without receiving even a quarter of their crops; and they are not guilty of treachery or of any transgression). I’m not trying to pick on the Prophet; it’s just that his conduct would have set the tone for real-politik in Islam. (Do, pick on him. I would love to feast on your pickings).
To be fair, other historians suggest that Muhammad showed an abiding admiration of his Jewish neighbors. He urged Muslims to join the fast that Jews performed on their day of atonement. He designated Friday, the start of the Jewish Sabbath, as the time for Muslim communal prayers. And he picked Jerusalem, not Mecca, as the original direction of prayer. Lovely gestures. But we have to confront this question: Is it possible that these were only gestures, offered up by an excellent politician, and that over -emphasizing them distracts us from the malignant underside of Islam?” (pp. 68-69).
Muslims did not “loot” from the Jews. These farms were the spoils of war. These “peasants” were also enemies of war. Like the previous Jewish tribes –Quraizah, Nadir and Qaynuqa, who proved treacherous and were vanquished by the Prophet– the Jews of Khaybar were also inimical towards the Prophet. They “were anxious for an opportunity to take revenge upon” the Prophet; “their enmity and bitterness surpassed that of the Quraysh,” as noted by Haykal.
After intense fighting, the Muslims triumphed over the Jews. In despair, the Jews “begged for peace.” The Prophet “accepted their plea and permitted them to stay on their land whose title now passed to him by right of conquest.”
The Jews were allowed to farm the land. Muhammad Husayn Haykal notes: ‘Abdullah ibn Rawahah, Muhammad’s deputy for the division of the Khaybar crops, dealt justly with the Jews, following in this regard the instructions of the Prophet himself. So honorable was his conduct that he returned to them copies of the Torah seized by the Muslims in the course of the hostilities –(and it is claimed that the Qur’an says to “hate” Jews). This is in direct contrast to the manner in which the Romans treated the Jews when they conquered Jerusalem and burned all the sacred writings they found in the temple and trampled them under foot. It is also far from the Christian persecution of the Jews in Spain where every Torah seized was put to the torch.” (The Life of Muhammad, pp. 366, 370, 371).
That Mohammad gave sanctuary to those who were a deadly threat to him and his followers and had them benefit from half of their produce is yet another proof of Mohammad’s mercy and tolerance. A tolerance afforded by the sublime spirit of Islam. These Jews not only received half of their crops from Mohammad; most importantly, they received their lives. They were doubly fortunate.
Instead of blindly condemning “dhimmitude,” Bat Ye’or is to show ‘gratitude.’ But for Mohammad’s mercy her ascendants may have been wiped out and she never born.
Fasting on Jewish day of atonement: This fasting of the Muslims is known as Ashura, and is observed on the tenth day of the month of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar.
The Prophet Mohammad urged Muslims to fast not because he “showed an abiding admiration of his Jewish neighbors” –there is no admiration, abiding or other, for a people who broke their covenant with God; killed His prophets; inimical towards you, intrigues to kill you; arrogant to their prophet (Moses) telling him to go and fight while you sit and wait; tampered with their Scripture; the majority of whom are faithless, arrogant, mischievous, treacherous, and who are to be chastised to the Resurrection (see Judaism; Palestine, Bible corrupt & obsolete; Rabbi Marmur & Farouk Hosny)– but because he was closer to Moses than the Jews were. The Prophet was closer to Moses in that they both were messengers of Allāh –of the brotherhood of prophets– both were Muslims, and both taught Islam.
(While all prophets were Muslims and taught Islam which would make the followers of these prophets Muslims, Jews and Christians are not following the teachings of Moses and Jesus, respectively: (1) There is no such Divine teaching as “chosen people” to the exclusion of others; and no “superiority” of people based on their race; and Jews are required to follow Mohammad, which rejection of Mohammad has subjected them to be “chastised” to the Resurrection. (2) The Christian doctrines of Divine sonship of God, Trinity, inherited sin, and vicarious atonement have no Divine foundation, no prophetic foundation, no logical foundation; and are repugnant to reason.
Friday prayer: Mohammad did not designate Friday as the Muslims communal prayer, Allah did–(Qur’an 62:9). Notably, whereas Christians claim an annual Good Friday, every Friday is a Good Friday for Muslims. In fact Muslims have:
-the best day, Friday
-the best night, night of Qadr which is better than a thousand months
-the best fortnight, I’tikaf –seclusion in the mosque during the last ten days in the month of Ramadan
-the best month, Ramadan
-the best gathering, Hajj –the only Divinely ordained pilgrimage
-the best Book, the Qur’an
-the best Prophet, Mohammad
-the best Religion, Islam –the only religion from God.
Qiblah: This is the direction/station which Muslims face to offer their prayers. This Qiblah is the Ka’ba in Makkah.
Mohammad did not change the Qiblah from Jerusalem to Makkah so as to gain the acceptance of Jews and Christians. Allah instructed him to do this–(Qur’an 2:143, 149-150). It was not Mohammad’s duty to get anyone to accept him as Messenger of Allah. His duty was only to preach the message of Allah–(Qur’an 24:54).
Since Allah informed Mohammad that He instructed Abraham and Ishmael to purify His House for His righteous servants–(Qur’an 2:125, which House at Makkah is the first House of worship appointed for mankind–Qur’an 3:95), it is obvious that Mohammad was anxious for the House of Allah to be made the Qiblah for Muslims; and was wondering why the order to make this sacred (and first) House at Makkah the Qiblah was not yet given.
As well, since Jerusalem was the center of the Israelite prophets –a brotherhood (of prophets) of which he himself was a member– Mohammad had no choice but to honor Jerusalem as the center of worship (until he received revelation to change to the Ka’ba at Makkah).
Islam, the Divinely crafted Religion for the moral, social, spiritual and intellectual progress of man could not have a “malignant underside.”
Mohammad and raiding parties. Ibn Warraq writes in his book Why I am not a Muslim: “After six months in Medina, Muhammad began sending out raiding parties to attack and capture Meccan caravans on their way to Syria.”(p. 77).
(This charge as well as those on the Jewish tribes above and many other charges are also made by one Christian quarter on the Internet. When confronted by charges against Islam Muslims are to consult Muhammad Ali’s translation of the Qur’an, as MA has demolished almost all the charges against Allāh, the Prophet, Islam and the Qur’an. MA’s translation can be viewed online: www.muslim.org).
In response to Warraq’s charge. Mohammad preached against the irrationality of polytheism, the futility and degradation of idolatry, the humiliation of human worship (Gods born of the womb), the depravity of wine and profligacy, and the injustice against daughters, wives, orphans and slaves.
The Makkans were free to accept or reject Mohammad’s message. If they had not taken up arms against Mohammad, Mohammad would not have retaliated. Mohammad had no choice but to defend himself and followers. No man would do any less. (There are nations today that have not been wronged and are yet transgressors).
In the year 622 (After Christ), a dozen years after he began preaching the Divine Message of the Qur’an, the Prophet Mohammad, because of persecution by the Makkans, was forced to migrate with his followers to Madinah. In Madinah, Mohammad entered into covenants with various tribes along the Makkan trade route. Mohammad did not enter into these alliances so as to make war on the Makkans; and to acquire booty. If Mohammad’s intention was to acquire booty by raiding the Makkan’s caravans along the trade route, Mohammad was fully justified; for these were the very Makkans who forced him into exile and usurped his property.
The Muslims who migrated with Mohammad to Madinah were forced to leave behind their property and wealth. Why should they not recoup from the Makkans what they had been forced to abandon? If you were to meet the person who forced you out of your home in a vulnerable position wouldn’t you confront him? Why then fault Mohammad for a legal act that you would commit? Be it Seventh century Arabia or Twentieth century era, the occupier/usurper is not to be left untouched to devour the fruits of his victims in peace.
However, that Mohammad’s purpose was to make war, and to acquire booty is a myth. The number of Muslims on these expeditions were far less than those of the Quraish guarding their trade caravans; and their armaments “was not such as would encourage them to make war.”
The “covenant of al ‘Aqabah was a defensive one which both al Aws and al Khazraj had undertaken to protect Muhammad. These tribes of Madinah have never agreed either with Muhammad nor with anyone else to commit aggression on anyone.” Moreover, the Madinites were not bandits. They, like the Makkans, “had other sources of income” and took part in “agriculture and trade.” Whereas the Muslim emigrants were “entitled to seize” the goods of the Quraish “in retaliation” for the loss of goods they suffered from migrating, they were unable to retaliate “before the battle of Badr.” Thus, their expeditions could not have been for war and booty. These early expeditions of the Muslims were meant as a message to the Makkans, to let the Message of the Qur’an “take its course freely, without impediment or recourse to war or fighting.”5
Regarding the opinion that Mohammad wanted to attack the unarmed caravan of Abu Sufyan–(Qur’an 8:5), which was on its way from Syria to Makkah, Muhammad Ali points out:
“It is true that a caravan was returning from Syria, and an army (which one critic opined was responding to Abu Sufyan’s call for help) had marched forth from Makkah; it is also true that some of the Muslims wished that they should encounter the caravan and not face the Makkan force (which was Allah’s purpose that they should face, in order to “cut off the root of the disbelievers”–Qur’an 8:7). Had the Holy Prophet desired to plunder the caravan, he would have done so long before Abu Sufyan could obtain succour from Makkah. Madinah was situated at a distance of thirteen days journey from Makkah, so that if the Holy Prophet had actually an idea of plundering the caravan, he would have done it long before Abu Sufyan could obtain succour in less than a month, even if he had been apprised of the Holy Prophet’s intentions and had sent for aid from Makkah. And why should the Prophet have waited all this while and not plundered the caravan before help reached Abu Sufyan?
Badr, where the encounter took place, lies at a distance of three days’ journey from Madinah. Here, marching towards each other, the two armies met. This shows that the Makkan army had long been on its way to Madinah, while the Muslims were as yet quite unprepared. The enemy had marched forth for ten days and the Muslims only for three days when the two forces encountered each other, which shows clearly that the Muslims had turned out to take the defensive against an invading force. The Prophet had never any design of plundering the caravan, for if he had any such design he could have carried it out long before the Makkan force had approached Madinah, and his hands would thus have been strengthened to meet a powerful enemy. It is quite clear that the Holy Prophet only marched forth when the enemy had already travelled over three fourths of the way to Madinah, and the caravan had left Madinah far behind.
Further, it is clearly stated here (Qur’an 8:5) that a party of the believers were averse to fighting. They could not have been averse if they had to encounter only an unarmed caravan. What is said in the next verse makes it clearer still, they went forth as if they were being driven to death, because they knew that they were going to meet an enemy not only treble in numbers, but also much more powerful and efficient.” (M. Ali. Qur’anic comm. 980).
If Mohammad raided the caravans of his enemies to “nourish” his army, Mohammad was fully justified. These were the very enemies who persecuted him, plotted against him, made attempt to assassinate him, drove him out of his home and confiscated his property, and were bent on annihilating him and his followers.
(That “two wrongs” do not make a right. One taking from his enemies in return for what was taken from him could hardly be viewed as a “wrong.” And, for how long must the “first wrong” [by the enemies] be allowed to perpetuate?)
1. Ali, Muhammad, Qur’anic comm. #’s 126a, 1983. See also comm. #1971.
2. Haykal, Muhammad Husayn, The Life of Muhammad, pp. 191, 206-207. (Italics/emphasis added). There is a lot of detail to this topic.
3. Ali, Muhammad, Qur’anic comm. 126, 126a, 1983, see also 2475.
4. Ali, Muhammad, Qur’anic comm. 2475, 2476.
5. Haykal, Muhammad Husayn, pp. 203-208.