The Root of Terrorism a la
20 Nov, 2005
The world is fast becoming accustomed to the term 'Islamic Terror.' It is a new genre of global terrorism. Thanks to the Jihadists, Suicide Bombers, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaishe Muhammad, Islamists, Mullahs, Maulanas, Pirs, Hijabi Women-Islam today, dominates virtually every News Media of every continent. Sooner or later, the term 'Islamic Terror' may find a place in the English lexicon. With such a plethora of Islamic awareness, the question is: Is Terror a la Islamic fashion is something new or is it a product of the early Jihadists' zeal as taught and practiced by Muhammad? Ask any Islamist/Islamic apologist this question and the pithy answer will, most likely be something like: Islam is peaceful, it never advocates violence, the least of all, 'Terrorism' using Islam; Osama bin Ladin and his Jihadists who have hijacked Islam are not true Muslims, the suicide bombers do not represent the true teachings of Islam-..and so on and so forth.
In this detailed article, by exposing the 'true' nature of what Islam is all about, I would like to demolish the above paradigm of the Islamists. Since Islam is firmly rooted in the past, in order to find the root cause/s of the present 'mayhem' by the Islamic fighters, we must analyse the past deeds, actions, philosophical and theological attitudes of the early Jihadists under the leadership of none but Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah. As we proceed, we must, first of all, realise that there is no such thing as the 'moderate Islam,' 'current Islam' or the 'future Islam.' It is the past-the actions of millennium ago that propelled all Muslims of yesterday, haunts and impels all the Muslims of to-day and will continue doing so to-morrow. We must look back, and not forward, to find out the truth about Islam. Just as a tree sustains its life and continues its growth because of its roots that are firmly anchored underground-beyond the ocular visibility, so is Islam. Terrorism is firmly rooted in the very 'lofty' doctrine of an Islamic world visioned by Muhammad. This use of terror tactic is nothing new in Islam; it was the lifeblood through which Muhammad forced his concept of a unipolar world, devoted only to one Semitic God, Allah. In this lengthy treatise, I have chronicled all the events of terror, murder, deceit, lies, intrigue and warfare that had been used to nurture, advance and propagate the very essence of Islam: accept Islam, pay protection money (Jizya) or die. Many readers will be shocked and surprised at the contents of this dissertation and will shake their heads in utter disbelief. Most Muslims will be agitated, angry, frustrated and will surely go on a complete denial mode. To all these readers I would like to say that I, too, went through the same phase. As I took Islam very seriously during my formative years, I started to understand fully its doctrine and its life force, I could not believe that a man who claimed to be the messenger of Allah could ever indulge himself, as well as instruct his followers in mindless murder, loot, plunder, torture and unbound lasciviousness. As you read episodes after episodes of the early terrorism of Islam, you will find eerie similarities with the modern day global terrorism as perpetrated by the Jihadists of today. You will, for sure, discover that all the ingredients of terrorist operations are present, as they were millennium ago; it is, as if, to use the infidel language, the 'reincarnation' (or resurrection) of the past Islamic terrorists. These ingredients are/were:
Persecution and the killing of the unbelievers
Plunder and ethnic cleansing
Political assassination and revenge killing
Gratuitous murder and unabated genocide
Property grab and extreme lasciviousness
Sectarian persecution (destruction of mosques)
Let us now delve into early Islamic history and find out how and why the early Jiahadists did what they did.
The seed of terror a la Islamic fashion was planted when Muhammad concluded an elaborate treaty with seventy five (seventy-three men and two women) Ansars (Medina residents) that is commonly called the second pledge of Aqaba, Aqaba being a small hilly hamlet (or a cave) in the outskirts of Mecca. This pact was done in secrecy to protect the life of Muhammad when he desired to migrate to Medina. During the negotiation process, Muhammad asked for the solemn pledge of the Ansars to protect his life the way the Ansars would protect their women and children. When the Ansars pledged their complete fealty to Muhammad, to the extent of sacrificing their own lives for his security, he promised blood to the Meccans and paradise to the Ansars. As per Ibn Ishak, Muhammad said to the Ansars: "Nay, blood is blood and blood not to be paid for is blood not to be paid for. I am of you and you are of me. I will war against them that war against you and be at peace with those at peace with you." Tabari writes that during the oath of Aqaba al-Abbas and Ubadah b. Nadlah said that pledging allegiance to Muhammad was declaring war against the world. Soon after the second pledge of Aqaba, Allah approved this declaration of war against all infidels, first in verses 22:40-42 and then in verse 2:198.
And true to his promise, Muhammad's days of blood and terror started soon after he left Mecca, and with a handful of his followers, arrived at Medina. Except for a few, those followers were desperately poor illiterate hoodlums and troublemakers with no saleable skill or means to support themselves through gainful employment. Many of his companions lived in utter unhygienic conditions, so much so that lice grew on their heads and they developed terrible body odour. Here is a Hadith from Sunaan Abu Dawud about the unbearable body stench of Muhammad's early converts:
Book 32, Number 4022:
Narrated AbuMusa al-Ash'ari:
Abu Burdah said: My father said to me: My son, if you had seen us while we were with the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) and the rain had fallen on us, you would have thought that our smell was the smell of the sheep.
Even Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah developed lice on his head! Unbelievable, isn't it? Read this Sahih Hadith from Sahih Bukhari:
Volume 4, Book 52, Number 47:
Narrated Anas bin Malik:
Allah's Apostle used to visit Um Haram bint Milhan, who would offer him meals. Um-Haram was the wife of Ubada bin As-Samit. Allah's Apostle, once visited her and she provided him with food and started looking for lice in his head. Then Allah's Apostle slept, and afterwards woke up smiling. Um Haram asked, "What causes you to smile, O Allah's Apostle?" He said. "Some of my followers who (in a dream) were presented before me as fighters in Allah's Cause (on board a ship) amidst this sea cause me to smile; they were as kings on the thrones (or like kings on the thrones)." (Ishaq, a sub-narrator is not sure as to which expression the Prophet used.) Um-Haram said, "O Allah's Apostle! Invoke Allah that he makes me one of them. Allah's Apostle invoked Allah for her and slept again and woke up smiling. Once again Um Haram asked, "What makes you smile, O Allah's Apostle?" He replied, "Some of my followers were presented to me as fighters in Allah's Cause," repeating the same dream. Um-Haram said, "O Allah's Apostle! Invoke Allah that He makes me one of them." He said, "You are amongst the first ones." It happened that she sailed on the sea during the Caliphate of Mu'awlya bin Abi Sufyan, and after she disembarked, she fell down from her riding animal and died.
- Now, back to Muhammad's companions. Yes, almost all of Muhammad's companions used to smell like sheep! Muhammad took them to Medina in search of useful employment for them; but no one wanted those doleful, indigent, stinky Jihadist clods to be on his/her payroll. Except for a few, even the regular job of daily labourer was out for them. Some of them would work as manual labourers and/or 'coolies' for a very brief period and then become unemployed once again. The extent of poverty among these early 'birds' of Islam has been summed up in this Hadith of Sahi Bukhari by Aisha, Muhammad's favourite wife:
Volume 2, Book 24, Number 499:
A lady along with her two daughters came to me asking (for some alms), but she found nothing with me except one date which I gave to her and she divided it between her two daughters, and did not eat anything herself, and then she got up and went away. Then the Prophet came in and I informed him about this story. He said, "Whoever is put to trial by these daughters and he treats them generously (with benevolence) then these daughters will act as a shield for him from Hell-Fire." (See Hadith No. 24, Vol. 8).
The greatest surprise is that those indigent, dirt poor Muslims later became very rich indeed. Here is a Hadith from Sahih Bukhari about their transformation from poverty to wealth:
Volume 2, Book 24, Number 497:
Narrated Abu Masud Al-Ansar:
Whenever Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) ordered us to give in charity, we used to go to the market and work as porters and get a Mudd (a special measure of grain) and then give it in charity. (Those were the days of poverty) and today some of us have one hundred thousand.
How did Muhammad do such a miracle? Was this transformation from dire poverty to wealth achieved through Islamic piety, spirituality, prayer, fasting and the blessings of Allah? Or was this through 'terrorism?' To find the answer please read on.
When the life of the largely unemployed and underemployed Muhajirs (refugees) became intolerable in Medina, Muhammad had to do something for their survival, and he had to do this rather quickly before they became disillusioned with his promise of the great treasures of Khusroo (the Persian Emperor) and the Byzantine King. Rodinson writes that these early Muslims had no regular sources of income and the only method of survival for them was plundering when all else had failed.
That, the major means of livelihood for the Muslims in Medina was from the proceeds of plunder and the forced Jizya tax on non-Muslims, can be confirmed from the following Hadith in Sahih Bukhari:
Volume 4, Book 53, Number 388:
Narrated Juwairiya bin Qudama At-Tamimi:
We said to 'Umar bin Al-Khattab, O Chief of the believers! Advise us." He said, "I advise you to fulfill Allah's Convention (made with the Dhimmis) as it is the convention of your Prophet and the source of the livelihood of your dependents (i.e. the taxes from the Dhimmis.)."
[Please note that this Hadith has been removed by the compiler from the summarised Translated (by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan) version of Sahih Al-Bukhari. However this Hadith is available in the Internet version of Translation of Sahih Al-Bukhari]
How did Muhammad earn his living in Medina? What job did he do? In what occupation was he employed? What business was he involved in? All these questions remain unanswered. Except for the following Hadith from Sahih Bukhari, all the Sunna, the Sahih Ahadith, the Sirah (biography) never mention of any form of acceptable and/or dignified profession/occupation that Muhammad engaged in to support himself and his retinue of ever increasing number of wives and concubines: Here is that incredible Hadith:
EXACT QUOTE AND FOOTNOTE, VOL-IV (88) CHAPTER.
Narrated Ibn 'Umar that the Prophet (SA) said, "My livelihood is under the shade of my spear,(1) and he who disobeys my orders will be humiliated by paying Jizya"
Footnote:- (1) "Under the shade of my spear" means "from war booty".
That's right, Muhammad, the messenger of Allah earned his livelihood by plunder; the above Hadith is very clear on this. Please note that this Hadith has been carefully removed from the Internet version of Sahih Bukhari. This hard to believe Hadith can only be found in the original print version of the Translation of Sahi Bukhari by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan. [Ref: The Translation of the Meanings of Sahih Al-Bukhari, Arabic-English, Vol.IV (page 104) by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, Islamic University-Al-Medina Al-Munauwara] Please consult the reference provided if you have doubt. It is also interesting to note that in the footnote the translator explains the meaning of 'spear' as 'booty'; clever indeed.
If you thought that this is too much-- that a messenger of Allah, the best of Allah's creation could never ever resort to sword (read terrorism) to earn a living, then there is even more surprise awaiting for you. Here is a Hadith from Sahih Muslim that writes clearly, without ambiguity, that Muhammad and his followers did just that-resort to terrorism (please note that the comment inside the parenthesis is by the translator):
Book 004, Number 1066:
Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: I have been helped by terror (in the heart of the enemy); I have been given words which are concise but comprehensive in meaning; and while I was asleep I was brought the keys of the treasures of the earth which were placed in my hand.
If those impeccable Ahadith are not convincing enough to attest that Muhammad resorted to terrorism to enrich his followers, here is another Sahih Hadith from Sahih Bukhari:
Volume 4, Book 52, Number 220:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah's Apostle said, "I have been sent with the shortest expressions bearing the widest meanings, and I have been made victorious with terror (cast in the hearts of the enemy), and while I was sleeping, the keys of the treasures of the world were brought to me and put in my hand." Abu Huraira added: Allah's Apostle has left the world and now you, people, are bringing out those treasures (i.e. the Prophet did not benefit by them).
To put his words into action, Muhammad even declared that booty or plunder (read theft and armed robbery) was lawful for him, as confirmed from this Sahih Hadith from Sahih Bukhari:
Volume 4, Book 53, Number 351:
Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah:
Allah's Apostle said, "Booty has been made legal for me."
- The following Hadith tells us that Muhammad built mosques using the proceeds of robbery, pillage and the revenue from forced Jizya on non-Muslims. Read this Hadith carefully and you will surely comprehend why many people flocked to Muhammad and his Islam-yes, it was pure greed and lust for money and wealth; Muhammad broke all laws and rules of an established contemporary civilised society just to satisfy this greed of his followers. Here is the appropriate Hadith from Sahih Bukhari:
Volume 4, Book 53, Number 390:
Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah:
Allah's Apostle once said to me, "If the revenue of Bahrain came, I would give you this much and this much." When Allah's Apostle had died, the revenue of Bahrain came, and Abu Bakr announced, " Let whoever was promised something by Allah's Apostle come to me." So, I went to Abu Bakr and said, "Allah's Apostle said to me, 'If the revenue of Bahrain came, I would give you this much and this. much." On that Abu Bakr said to me, "Scoop (money) with both your hands." I scooped money with both my hands and Abu Bakr asked me to count it. I counted it and it was five-hundred (gold pieces). The total amount he gave me was one thousand and five hundred (gold pieces.)
Money from Bahrain was brought to the Prophet . He said, "Spread it in the Mosque." It was the biggest amount that had ever been brought to Allah's Apostle . In the meantime Al-'Abbas came to him and said, "O Allah's Apostle! Give me, for I gave the ransom of myself and Aqil." The Prophet said (to him), "Take." He scooped money with both hands and poured it in his garment and tried to lift it, but he could not and appealed to the Prophet, "Will you order someone to help me in lifting it?" The Prophet said, "No." Then Al-'Abbas said, "Then will you yourself help me carry it?" The Prophet said, "No." Then Al 'Abbas threw away some of the money, but even then he was not able to lift it, and so he gain requested the Prophet "Will you order someone to help me carry it?" The Prophet said, "No." Then Al-'Abbas said, "Then will you yourself yelp me carry it?" The Prophet said, 'No." So, Al-'Abbas threw away some more money and lifted it on his shoulder and went away. The Prophet kept on looking at him with astonishment at his greediness till he went out of our sight. Allah's Apostle did not get up from there till not a single Dirham remained from that money.
- Looking around for prey, Muhammad found that there were only two choices for him; rob the Medina residents, or resort to armed highway robbery for the booty of rich Meccan caravans plying the Mecca-Medina route. He could not rob his Medina companions (Ansars) as that would tantamount to his immediate destruction. So, the only other choices left were the Jews, and his nemesis, the Meccan Quraysh, who had largely rejected his call for his brand of religion. As for the Jews, he could not agitate them so soon, as he had already entered into a covenant with them. He had no legitimate reason to attack and appropriate their land and goods. Please note that, in all the first few raids, Muhammad did not want any Ansar to take part in it. It was, because he did not want to upset the Medinites by displaying his transformation to a true brigand. He was also fearful that if his plundering raids were not successful (i.e. unprofitable) then the Ansars would lose their awe and respect for him. That was why, he, at first, did not invite any Ansar to take part in his first few terror raids. He needed to demonstrate to his host country that terrorism was/is profitable indeed!
With the notion of plundering the Jews out, the only choice he was now left with was to attack and loot the Quraysh caravan. Nonetheless, with such a feeble force at his disposal at that time, he would never be able to launch a decisive strike on the mighty Quraysh army--he thought correctly. After all, in the first place, this fear of military might of the Quraysh, was the main reason for his exile from Mecca.
He contrived a brilliant idea. The plan was to lay siege on the Quraysh when they were the most vulnerable; that is, when they (the Quraysh) were either alone, with very few comrades, or were far away from their formidable sanctuary at Mecca. That meant, raiding the Quraysh merchant caravans, terrorising them and robbing them either on their way to trade with Syria or on their return journey to Mecca. But Muhammad was clever too; he was not hasty; he was patient in seizing the appropriate opportunity to attack the vulnerable Quraysh caravans. The plan was very smart and lucrative, no doubt, because with this assault, he could inspire his Jihadist followers to take revenge on their 'tormentors,' while, at the same time, they could also plunder a great booty that Muhammad could never offer to these destitute and famished Muhajirs.
With this design in mind, Muhammad was set to move. He engaged a few spies to supply him with the intelligence of the movement of Meccan caravans. However, the Quraysh caravans were always well protected with armed security guards, just to prevent it from the plunder of highway bandits. Still then, Muhammad wanted to try his luck, as those Meccan caravans were such richly laden with exquisite goods-no Jihadist could resist. Apologist biographer, like Hussein Haykal of course tries to conceal the truth by mentioning that the Muhajirs from Mecca were homesick and were looking for an opportunity to take revenge. While it is natural to feel a little 'homesickness,' the overwhelming reason for attacking the Quraysh caravan was plundering and booty-plain and simple. This premise bourns out from the fact that later, when Muhammad conquered Mecca, none of those 'homesick' Muhajirs decided to return to their former abode!
Let us now briefly review the first few of such many surprise/terror raids on the Quraysh caravan. There is a controversy as to which was the first raid on the Quraysh caravan by Muhammad. Ibn Ishak writes that Muhammad himself conducted the first raid, and it was the raid on a caravan at Waddan. Ibn Ishak's book is scanty in giving a reasonable dating of these operations. Waqidi writes that the first raid was the raid conducted by Hamzah. Most other biographers are quite agreeable with Waqidi's version of the dating of Muhammad's raids. I have tried to use the same approach.
Note: The dates are approximate and are guides only.
The Raid on Quraysh Caravan at al-Is, or the Expedition of Sif al-Bahr by Hamzah ibn al-Muttalib - March, 623CE
The first raid/expedition against the Quraysh caravans took place seven or nine months after the Hijrah. Led by Hamzah ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib (Muhammad's uncle), with thirty or forty men of the emigrants; the purpose of this raid, as stated earlier, was to plunder the Quraysh caravan. This raiding party of Hamzah assembled at the seacoast near al-Is, between Mecca and Medina, where Abu Jahl ibn Hashim, the leader of the caravan was camping with three hundred Meccan riders. Hamza met Abu Jahl there with a view to attack the caravan, but Majdi b. Amr al-Juhani, a Quraysh who was friendly to both the parties intervened between them; so, both parties separated without fighting.
This very first adventure of Muhammad in war and plunder was not a success. Hamza returned to Medina and Abu Jahl proceeded towards Mecca. This raid failed as the Muslims were afraid to face such a formidable convoy of the Quraysh; they returned to Medina empty-handed.
Raid on Meccan Caravan at Buwat by Ubaydah b. al-Harith - April, 623CE
This raid took place nine months after the Hijrah, a few weeks after the first terror at al-Is.
About a month after Hamzah's abortive bid for plunder, Muhammad entrusted a party of sixty (or eighty) Jihadists led by Ubaydah b. al-Harith (a cousin of him) to conduct another terror operation at a Quraysh caravan that was returning from Syria and protected by two hundred armed men,. The leader of this caravan was either Abu Sufyan ibn Harb or Ikrima b. Abu Jahl. The Muslim party went as far as Thanyatul-Murra, a watering place in Hejaz. No fighting took place, as the Quraysh were quite far from the place where Muslims were in the offing to attack the caravan. Nevertheless, Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas, an ardent Jihadist, shot an arrow at the Quraysh. This was the 'first arrow of Islam.' The arrows thrown at them by the Medina party surprised the Quraysh. It was completely an unprovoked attack on the Quraysh that sent the strong message to them about what they could expect next. However, no fighting took place and the Muslims returned empty-handed. Some say that Ubaydah was the first Jihadist to carry the banner of Islam; others say Hamzah (see Terror 1) was the first to carry the first banner.
Some say that Muhammad commanded Ubaydah to conduct this raid while he (Muhammad) was returning from the raid of al-Abwa (see Terror 4).
Raid on a Meccan Caravan at Kharar by Sa'd ibn Waqqas - April, 623CE
The very brave act of Sa'd ibn Waqqas, to shoot arrows at the Quraysh (see Terror 2), must have greatly impressed Muhammad. During this time, Sa'd had been between twenty to twenty-five years old. However, his young age did not deter him from being appointed by Muhammad as the leader of a plundering team to lay a siege, with only twenty other Jihadissts (some say only eight), on the Meccan caravan. All of them were from the Muahjirs (immigrants). So, one month later, the third terrorist operation took place under the leadership of a youthful Sa'd and his gang. Sa'd, with his minions of committed Jihadists set up an ambush in the valley of Kharrar on the road to Mecca and waited to raid a returning Meccan caravan from Syria.
They planned a surprise attack. Nonetheless, to their utter frustration, they learnt that the 'booty' (the Meccan caravan) had already eluded them, just one day before they arrived at the place of plunder. The Muslims returned to Medina crestfallen.
Abul Kasem is an Bengali ex-Muslim and academic. He has contributed in Leaving Islam - Apostates Speak Out and Beyond Jihad - Critical Voices from Inside and Why We Left Islam.. He has also written extensively on Islam in various websites and is the author of five e-Books: A Complete Guide to Allah, Root of Terrorism ala Islamic Style, Sex and Sexuality in Islam, Who Authored the Quran? and Women in Islam. Mr. Kasem leaves in Sydney, Australia. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.