Why I Am a Christian

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Myths About Muhammad 4. Violence

     The Rev. Jerry Vine also claimed that Muḥammad was an inspirer of terrorism. Is this accurate? A lot will depend on how his modern followers interpret his actions and words, because flying planes into skyscrapers and blowing oneself up in the middle of a crowded building are somewhat different from the way Muḥammad waged war. During the conflict with the Meccans, first blood was drawn at Ṭā'if, when a raiding party send out by Muḥammad cut down unarmed men in violation of the pilgrims' peace. So shocking was this to his contemporaries that God had to send a chapter of the Koran justifying it. But the important point to note was that the outrage was directed at the violation of a religious taboo. Nobody criticized the killing per se. This is the whole point: the violence perpetrated by Muḥammad was standard for Arabian warfare. In this sense, he wasn't doing anything unusual.
     The same thing goes for sex slavery - the seizure of women in raids and war, and making them into concubines. This was a standard Arab custom; Muḥammad did not institute it. What he did was reform it. Under his "revelations" Muslims were not permitted to prostitute their female slaves, and if they did not want them for their sexual pleasure, they had to find husbands for them. Any child a concubine bore had equal rights with the children of his wives, and the mother could then not be sold or given away, and she gained her freedom when her master died. Many of these reforms have been honoured in the breach, but they were nevertheless praiseworthy. However, Muḥammad did not abolish the practice, and the customs of a barbarian desert society became the law of an empire.

"Religion of Peace"
     Now we come to the Big Myth. Heaven only knows what inspired President Bush to invent that term, but it has now become so debunked that it is normally used only in irony. You only have to look at Muḥammad's own history.
     When he started his preaching at Mecca, the city was a polytheistic pilgrimage hub under the control of a tribe called the Quraysh. Needless to say, these heathens, who had grown prosperous on the pilgrim trade, did not take kindly to Muḥammad's demands to give it all up, so they began to harass him and his followers. Then, a delegation from the town of Yathrib, which was tearing itself apart with internecine strife asked him to come and be their umpire-cum-leader. Thus was sparked the turning point in Islam: the Hijra or migration to Yathrib, which would henceforth be known as Medinatu-'n-Nabi, "the city of the the prophet", or simply Medina.
     It was also the point at which Muḥammad turned to violence. On his orders several people were assassinated primarily because they composed poems against him. (So what does that mean for those of us who speak out against Islam?) Meanwhile, back in Mecca, there is no evidence that the Quraysh were at all interested in Muḥammad once he was gone. Probably, they regarded it as "good riddance to bad rubbish" or "somebody else's problem". But it wasn't to be; Muḥammad sent out raiding parties against their caravans, shedding first blood, as mentioned before, at Ṭā'if. Eventually, they had to act, with the result that three consecutive armies were sent against Medina, and defeated in three consecutive battles. But the important thing to understand is that the instigator of the warfare was solely and simply Muḥammad. Modern Muslims will no doubt consider that the Quraysh were wholly to blame for not accepting Muḥammad in the first place, but the same logic now guides their violence against us.
     Meanwhile, back in Medina, as well as the regular heathen Arabs, there existed three Jewish tribes, who soon came into conflict with Muḥammad. This was the original basis for the virulent anti-Semitism which runs through the history of Islam like a red thread. But again, it is important to understand that it was Muḥammad who instigated the conflict. The Jews did not attack him. Their chief offense, in his eyes, was that they refused to accept him as prophet.
     The first tribe to face his wrath was the Qaynûqa. An altercation between the two groups occurred when a Qaynûqa goldsmith molested a Muslim woman. Instead of trying to conciliate the parties, Muḥammad attacked the tribe until they were forced to surrender at discretion. Tellingly, as they submitted, he had their hands bound behind their backs, and was only prevented from having them all executed by the intercession of a friend.
    The next on his list were the Naḍîr, whom he accused, with not much evidence, of planning to assassinate him. He drove them out of Medina. For the last tribe, the Qurayẓah, the writing was on the wall. During the last battle against the Meccans, they negotiated with the enemy, but did not join them. In retaliation, Muḥammad turned on them, and treated them as he had originally planned to deal with the Qaynûqa : he had every adult member of the tribe, totaling 600 to 800, murdered, and their wives and children enslaved.
    Muslims will, of course, will point to other details in the script to justify his actions, but none that would not justify treating us equally badly. The fact is, Muḥammad was not a peace maker. His aim was never conciliation, but always to escalate the conflict. To his mind, and to that of his modern day supporters, the chief offense of his opponents was that they preferred not to be ruled by him, or convert to his religion.
     After that, he signed a ten-year treaty with the Meccans, but the following year he found an excuse to break it and conquer Mecca.

The Great Commission
     The Great Commission is the title given by Christians to the words of the risen Christ recorded in Matthew 28:19-20.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
     It is because of this that Christianity is the largest religion in the world today.
     The reason that Islam is the second largest is their equivalent of the Great Commission, recorded in chapter 9 of the Koran, as "handed down to" Muḥammad the second year after the conquest of Mecca. Non-Muslims are divided into two groups: the polytheists and the monotheists, the latter being called the People of the Book. The first were offered four months' grace to become Muslim, after which they would be subject to forcible conversion.
But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the polytheists wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem. (v 5)
    This explains the atrocities committed against the Yazidis by the Islamic State, as well as previously by the Ottomans: they are regarded as polytheists.
     As for other monotheists, they would be allowed to retain their religion provided they paid a special tax known as jizya, and submitted to various humiliating restrictions as second class subjects.
Fight those who do not believe in God or the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden by God and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, of the People of the Book, until they pay jizya out of hand, and are humbled. (v 29)
    In obedience to this, after Muḥammad's death, the Muslims swept out of Arabia, attacking both the Byzantine and Persian Empires at the one time. This was naked aggression; neither empire had ever done them any harm. Each city they encountered was offered three choices: convert, and join in the rampage, pay jizya, or fight. If they chose the last, and were defeated, their property would be looted, and their wives and daughters dragged off to the Muslims' harems. God alone knows how many men were killed and women raped in the establishment of Islam. Yet it must never be forgotten that these crimes were not committed by tyrants using religion as a mask, but by men who occupied the same position in relation to Muḥammad as the Twelve Apostles did with Jesus, and who, in all other matters, were the epitome of virtue.

 The Aftermath
     Muḥammad was illiterate; the scriptures of the other monotheists were closed books to him. So he was not aware of Jesus' words at the time he was arrested.
One of those who were with Jesus stretched out his and and drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest, and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all who take up the sword will perish by the sword." (Matt. 26:51-52, emphasis added)
    Now let us see how this played out for Islam. When Muḥammad died, the community leaders got into a huddle and chose a caliph, or successor, of which the first caliphs are known as the Râshidûn, or rightly guided ones.
    (1) Abu Bakr (632-634) was one of Muḥammad's first converts, and the father of his youngest wife, Ayesha. He was an old man, and died of natural causes after just two years.
    (2) Omar (634-644) was Muḥammad's right hand man, and certainly the greatest of all the caliphs, both for his extensive conquests and his upright life. Then one day, he was stabbed six times by a Persian captive. As he lay dying, having been told that his assassin was a Christian, he thanked God it had not been a fellow Muslim. His successor was not so lucky.
    (3) Othmân (644 - 656) ruled over an empire which was growing restless, and a band of insurgents rose up against him. "The taking of life," announced the caliph, "is lawful only for three things: apostasy, murder, and adultery. By taking my life without such cause, you but suspend the sword over your own necks. Sedition and bloodshed shall not depart for ever from your midst." But they did break in and murder him while he was reading the Koran and, true enough, sedition and bloodshed never departed from their midst.
    (4) Alî (656 -661) was the son-in-law of Muḥammad. However, Othman's next of kin, Muâwiya, the Governor of Damascus, held him personally responsible, not completely fairly, for his relative's death. The result was civil war. Then some hotheads decided that this was no concern of theirs, but that the judgment should be settled by God ie by violence. They became the Kharijites. or "goers-out", and appointed two of their number to assassinate Ali and Muâwiya respectively. Muâwiya's assassin failed, but Ali's succeed, so the caliphate went by default to Muâwiya.
     Thus three of the first four caliphs died by the sword. When Muâwiya passed away in 680, Ḥusein, the son of Ali and the grandson of the prophet, made a play for the caliphate. He was slain at the Battle of Karbala, an event still commemorated every year by the Shiites, the supporters of Ali. They have been continually raising revolts against the Sunnis throughout history. Meanwhile, the Kharajites became the most feared terrorists in the Middle East. Whenever a gap arose in the power structure, new revolts would occur, and new terrorists groups arise. The Kharijites and the Assassins were the medieval equivalent of al-Qaeda and Hamas, except that their terrorism was directly wholly at fellow Muslims.
    The sword which Muḥammad had unsheathed has turned against his followers. The house of Muḥammad and the house of Islam have become a house of blood forever.

A few words to Muslims
     If any Muslims have been reading this, and have managed to get this far, they may be asking: why shouldn't you respect our Prophet? After all, we respect Jesus. This is a false view of the situation. Respect does not mean refusal to make valid criticism. Moreover, the cases are different. Not everybody accepts Jesus' claim to divinity, or even believe everything he is reported to have done but, based on the records, it is difficult for anyone to claim that he was a bad man. However, based on the records of Muḥammad's life - all of which were written by Muslims - a lot of questions arise about his treatment of women and his opponents, and Muslims are shirking the issue if they refuse to face the critics.
    The problem also lies in the history of the two religions. Christianity began as a minority religion which was persecuted for its first 300 years. Christians therefore developed the art of apologetics, or defending their faith to non-believers, and answering criticism. On the contrary, Islam began as an empire. Non-Muslims were forbidden to attempt to convert Muslims, and they themselves were under relentless pressure to become Muslims - not by logical argument, but by political pressure. Islam thus had little need to develop a system of apologetics. So when Muslims arrive in a free country, and hear criticism of their religion and prophet, they cannot think of any other response than the traditional one of trying to suppress it.
     Also, Islamic society tends to be honour based. It is regarded as appropriate and virtuous to react angrily at any perceived insults to one's honour, including criticism of one's religion. However, this is counterproductive in Western society. Over here, equanimity in the face of insults is expected, and giving rein to anger is a good way to lose face. In fact, when a person rants and rages at an insult to his belief system, everyone assumes that his case is very weak.
    Finally, you will find on many anti-Islam sites the dire prediction that Islam is in the process of taking over Europe by means of immigration and increased breeding. Let me assure you, this is not going to happen. Certainly, the Establishment's ostrich-like burying of its head in the sand will ensure that the situation will get worse before it gets better. But the indigenous population's patience is already close to breaking point, and it will not be long before they stand up and demand action. So much the worse for Muslims if the Europeans have forsaken their Christian heritage; mercy is a Christian virtue not necessarily shared with the ungodly. Muslims will need to be thankful if the reaction consists of no more than a ban on face veils, minarets, new mosques, and further Muslim immigration. The worst case scenario is that the Establishment maintains its head in the sand, and the population takes things into its own hands. Already there are many Islamic enclaves which are no-go zones for non-Muslims. But one day the natives will reclaim those enclaves. Pray that it is done in an orderly manner by the police and the military because - trust me - you won't want to be around if the mob decides to clean up the no-go zones.

Back to:   Part 1. Moon God
               Part 2. Demon Possessed
               Part 3. Pedophile