The Root of Terrorism a la
20 Nov, 2005
Raid Against B. Kilab at al-Zuji by al-Dahak ibn Sufyan al-Kilabi - August, 630CE
Muhammad sent al-Dahak ibn Sufyan to al-Zuji to invite the people of B. Kilab to embrace Islam. When they refused, the Muslims attacked them and forced them to flee in terror. Among the Muslims was a devoted Jihadist, al-Asyad. He found his father, Salamah mounted on his own horse and asked him to accept Islam. The father berated al-Asyad for entering Islam. Al-asyad, became angry and hamstrung his father's horse. When his father fell down, al-Asyad held his father till other Muslims surrounded him and killed the father. To hide this shameful, barbaric and unconscionable murder, Muslim historians, like Ibn S'ad specifically says that al-Asyad did not kill, with his own hands, his father.
Forced Conversion of Poet Ka'b - August, 630CE
Ka'b ibn Zuhayr, a Meccan poet used to construct vicious poetry against Muhammad [Remember? the poets in those days were what journalists are today]. When Muhammad captured Mecca, he forced Ka'b's brother, Bojayr (another poet) to convert to Islam. After becoming a Muslim Bojayr rejected his brother and came to Medina. Then he wrote to Ka'b that the Prophet was executing people who had lampooned him or otherwise offended him, and that every poet who had done such thing now fled Mecca and advised him (Ka'b) to come to Medina and submit to Muhammad or face a certain death. However, Ka'b replied in displeasing verses against his brother's conversion to Islam. Muhammad was highly incensed and threatened Ka'b with terror. Ka'b, in desperation, to escape the wrath of Muhammad, sought asylum elsewhere but was unsuccessful. So with hopelessness, he presented himself before Muhammad and pleaded for a pardon. When he embraced Islam, Muhammad pardoned him.
Raid Against Abyssinian at Jeddah Coast by Alaqamah b. Mujazziz - September, 630CE
A group of Abyssinian (Ethiopian) people arrived at the coastal port city of Jeddah. The Muslims feared that they were pirates and fled the town. When Muhammad learned about these purported attacks by these pirates, he dispatched, Alaqamah b. Mujazziz at the head of three hundred strong Muslim army. He chased the Abyssinians (or al-Habasha) and pursued them to their sanctuary at an island. When the tides rose, these so-called pirates fled fearing an attack from the Muslims.
Revenge Killing at Dhu Qarad by Alaqamah b. Mujazziz - September, 630CE
After the successful operation on the Abyssinians at the coast of Jeddah by Alaqamah b. Mujazziz, Muhammad sent him to take revenge of the killing of the son of Abu Dhar Ghifari (Terror 40, CH. 11) on the day of Dhu Qarad. Alqama and his companions returned without fighting
Destruction of B. Tayii idol Yakut at al-Fuls by Ali b. Talib - September, 630CE
Ali marched out at the head of two hundred horsemen to plunder the worshipping place of the Tayii people Although many B. Tayii people were polytheists, its leader Adi b. Tayii, the son of the legendary generous Arab philanthropist Hatim Tayii was a Christian. Previously, he entered the fort of the Thaqif people at Nakhla who were mostly polytheists. This clearly indicates that, contrary to what the Muslim historians write about Jahiliya, the religious tolerance before the advent of Islam was impeccable in the Arabian Peninsula. When Muhammad attacked the Thaqif, Adi b. Hatim Tayii fled and stayed with his own people at al-Fuls. Ali made an early-morning surprise attack at al-Fuls, the temple where the idol of Yakut was held. Yakut was the idol of a horse representing swiftness. When the Muslim invaders destroyed this idol, Tayii leader, Adi b. Tayii again took to heels to Syria to join his Christian allies. The Muslims burned the al-Fuls temple to ground, plundered it and took plenty of booty, including three famous swords from under the rubble of Yakut. They also took a number of men, women and children as captives.
Among the prisoners was Hatim's daughter (i.e., Adi b. Hatim's sister). Ali brought the sister of Adi and other captives to Muhammad. Hatim's daughter and other Tayii prisoners were incarcerated in a mosque.
She was a very old woman and pleaded mercy from Muhammad and requested his help to track down her brother, Adi. On her pitiful, repeated pleading, Muhammad released her and provided assistance to her to locate her fugitive brother.
She came to her brother Adi in Syria mounted on the camel provided by Ali and pleaded with Adi to embrace Islam as she found Muhammad to be very kind and considerate. Adi followed her advice, came to Muhammad and listened to Muhammad's harangue on Islam. As stated earlier, Adi b. Hatim was a Christian chief. He also used to collect one-fourth from the spoils of war. Muhammad accused him of collecting one-fourth of spoils from his men contravening the teachings of Christianity. (Note: Muhammad's collection of spoils of war was one-fifth of spoils).
When Muhammad asked the reasons for his hesitancy to embrace Islam, Adi pointed out to Muhammad that very few people accepted Islam those days. Then Muhammad promised a great wealth to whoever embraced his new faith. He also predicted the capture of Babylon. Hearing Muhammad's promise of great wealth, Adi embraced Islam and Muhammad appointed him again the chief of B. Tayii.
During this time, Muhammad's predicted that the symbol for the last day was that a woman rides a camel without protection.
Raid Against al-Jinab and B. Udrah at Bali by Ukkash b. Mihsan - October, 630CE
Muhammad sent a strong army, led by Ukkash b. Mihsan to Bali to subdue the tribe of Udrah and al-Jinab. No details of this terror campaign are available.
Killing of Polytheists is Laudable - October, 630CE
When the various tribes of Arabian Peninsula realized the savage power of Muhammad's army, they accepted the fact that it pays to succumb to Islam--at least materially. Many of these tribal leaders made deputations to Muhammad and offered their allegiance to him in return for a share in the plunder and the Islamic tax, viz: Jizya and Zakat. Some of the kings of Himyar (the rulers of Southern Arabia: Yemen, Hadhramaut, Oman, Bahrain, etc.) did just that. These kings were the vassals of the Persian Emperor. At that time the Persian Empire was on decline and these greedy kings did not mind changing their allegiance to Muhammad in return for good reward and to maintain their status-quo. They sent letters to Muhammad declaring their acceptance of Islam, and their desire to share the plunder and the revenue raised through extortion.
Muhammad expressed his satisfaction over the acceptance of Islam by the Himyar kings. He lauded them for killing the polytheists and instructed them to obey Allah and His messenger, pay Zakat, give Khums (one-fifth of spoils) to Muhammad, the right of Muhammad of his special selection from the booty (Safi) in addition to Khums. Muhammad then enumerated details on Zakat. If a Jew or a Christian embraces Islam then his rights are the same as that of an ordinary Muslim. Jews and Christians are not to be forced to convert as long as they pay the Jizya tax of one Dinar for every adult or its equivalent in cloth. If they refuse to pay the Jizya then they become the enemy of Allah and Muhammad and are to be killed.
Then Muhammad instructed the Himyar kings to hand over the Zakat and other payments to Muhammad's tax collectors until they are satisfied with the collection. He further wrote thanking the Himyar kings for killing the polytheists. Muhammad wrote, "Malik B. Murrah al-Rahawa has reported to me that you were the first from Himyar to embrace Islam and that you have killed the polytheists, so rejoice at your good fortune. The Messenger of God is the master of [both] your rich and your poor. Alms are neither lawful to Muhammad nor to his family; it is a purifying tax to be spent on poor Muslims and the wayfarer-.."
The Raid on Tabuk by Muhammad - October, 630CE - April, 631CE
After his return from the siege of Taif, Muhammad stayed in Medina for a few months, conducting a few more terror campaigns against the Arab tribes living nearby. Those raids and plunders have been described previously. Then, through grapevine, he received the news that the Byzantines were readying their troops at Tabuk to attack Medina. This was in retaliation against the unprovoked attack by the Muslims at Mu'tah, he surmised. It was also rumoured that the Roman emperor had paid their soldiers one year's salary in advance to buy their loyalty. Muhammad immediately gave an order of general mobilisation for a military confrontation with the Byzantine army.
It was a season of hard times with oppressive heat and a severe dry spell. So, many Muslims were reluctant to join in the Jihad. They were also quite tired of endless wars; they wanted to enjoy in peace, their new found wealth from spoils of wars in peace. Many approached Muhammad with an alibi to be exempt from the forthcoming war. Muhammad accepted the excuses of eighty-two of them, and they were given a reprieve from this Jihad. Breaking his tradition of maintaining secrecy on the destination of Jihad, Muhammad announced that the expedition would be against the Byzantine king at Tabuk. Despite their dislike for further Jihad, thirty-thousand Muslims got ready to take part in this expedition. This was the largest assembly of Muslim army ever put in motion in Arabia. Out of the thirty-thousand men, no less than ten thousand were cavalry. The only problem was the intense heat and the severe shortage of water.
In the narration of this expedition, we gather some interesting insight into the Jihadists' motivation for raid and plunder. Besides booty, enjoying infidel women was one of the prime reasons to join Jihad. Here is one such narration:
A Jihadi, Jadd b. Qays was reluctant to go to Jihad when Muhammad approached him. He was fond of women. He replied, "O Messenger of God, please excuse me from this and do not prompt me. By God, my folk know no better admirer of women than I. I fear that if I see the women of the Banu Asfar (i.e., the Byzantine women) I shall not be able to control myself. Muhammad turned away from him saying, "I excuse you." It was Jadd on whom Allah revealed verse 9:49, berating those who prefer to stay at home instead of fighting Allah also revealed verses 9:42-48 admonishing those who are reluctant to join in Jihad
Another hypocrite incited the people not to join in the Jihad because of the intense heat and also by spreading rumours about Muhammad. To reprimand these hypocrites, Allah released verses 9:81-82, warning them that the heat of hell is far more intense. Many hypocrites gathered at the house of Suwaylim, the newly converted Muslim (previously, a Jew) to prevent men from joining Muhammad in the looming war. Muhammad instructed Talha b. Ubaydullah along with a few men to burn down Suwaylims's house with all the people inside. Talha did just that. Most people escaped unharmed. However, one person broke his leg while jumping from the roof of the house.
Muhammad sought financial help from the well-to-do people and many of them contributed generously towards this adventure. His son-in law Uthman b. Affan donated one thousand (1,000) Dinars, the highest contribution. However, a few Jihadists were turned away because Muhammad could not provide them with the resources to fight the war. They were chagrined. Some Jihadists were provided with only a camel and some dates to join in the expedition.
Despite the odds, having made full preparation for the war, Muhammad set out for Tabuk with full alacrity. Tabuk was about 250 miles from Medina, on the border of the Byzantine Empire. At first, he pitched his tent at Thaniyat al-Wada. Abdullah ibn Ubayy, Muhammad's nemesis joined him but he encamped separately from Muhammad. Then, when Muhammad started to march for Tabuk, Abdallah ibn Ubayy stayed behind with the hypocrites and the doubters.
So, Allah revealed verse 9:48 regarding the futility of the machinations of the hypocrites. Abdallah ibn Ubayy died soon after Muhammad returned from Tabuk.
Muhammad left behind Ali b. Abi Talib to look after his family. Some hypocrites angered Ali by spreading the slander that he was a burden to Muhammad. A furious Ali, taking his weapons, set off to meet Muhammad who was already on his way to Tabuk. Ali traveled swiftly and met Muhammad who was camped at al-Jurf. He then expressed his dismay at what the hypocrites were fabricating about him. Muhammad told Ali that hypocrites had lied; Muhammad asked Ali to return to his family and assured him that he Ali was to him as Aaron was to Moses with the exception that there would be no prophet after him (Muhammad). Pleased and satisfied with the answer of Muhammad, Ali went back to his family and Muhammad resumed his journey for Tabuk.
While Muhammad was at al-Hijr, people drew water from a well to drink. After departing al-Hijr, he forbade his people from drinking or making ablution with water from a well in an area inhabited by Allahless people. If they used that water to make dough to prepare food then that food should be fed to the camels. He also forbade that none of his people should go out alone at night without a companion. One Jihadi violated this rule. He went alone at night to relieve himself and was choked on his way. Another Jihadist went out alone at night to look after his camel; he was carried away by the violent sandstorm. When Muhammad prayed for the man who was choked, he recovered. The other man was blown away and somehow returned to Medina.
When people complained about no water, Muhammad prayed to Allah and He quickly sent a heavy cloud and it rained very profoundly.
Muhammad moved on. On his way, his camel strayed and his companions went searching for it. One hypocrite then said that even being a prophet, Muhammad did not know where his camel was. Having heard of such an insult on his prophethood, Muhammad predicted where the strayed camel could be located. The searcher of the camel went there and found the lost camel.
A band of hypocrites joining the Tabuk expedition expressed their doubt about winning the battle against the Byzantine and said some words to that effect. When Muhammad showed his displeasure at what they had uttered, these hypocrites told him that they were simply playing with words. On this, Allah revealed 9:65 that foretold of the hypocritical playful words of them.
Forced Conversion and Forced Jizya on Christians and the Jews - December, 631CE
When the Muslim army was quite near to Tabuk, they found that there was no mobilisation of the Byzantine force whatsoever. The entire expedition was of no use and many of them became frustrated that they missed a great booty. To please his greedy Jihadists, Muhammad planned to raid the nearby tribes and to extort money from them. So, when he reached Tabuk he announced his threat to the nearby rulers. He sent a letter to Yuhanna b. Ru'bah (John), the Christian prince of Ayla asking him to submit to Islam or face being attacked. The prince quickly came with his cross and embraced Islam. He then concluded a treaty with Muhammad that forced him to pay Jizya tax of three hundred (300) Dinars (US$ 15,000) per year (i.e., one Dinar per-head, as there were three hundred inhabitants there) and, in the event of not following Muhammad's injunction, old people are to be slain and the children to be taken as captives. Muhammad also ordered John to pay tributes to his favourite commanders like Zayd, Khalid, Maslama-etc.
Similar treaties were also signed with the Jewish settlements of Makna, Adhruh and Jarba (an ancient fortress on the Roman road from Busra to Red sea). They were required to submit to Islam. To each was given a specified tax to be paid and Muhammad bound them to afford refuge and aid to any Muslim traveler or Muslims merchants who might need their assistance. Muhammad fixed the tax as fourth of whatever they produced.
A few more acts of terror while at Tabuk will be illustrated in the next part of this episode.
Muhammad wandered over the border for ten nights, inviting all to fight or make peace with him. Then he returned to Medina.
The last (or the second last) Sura (9) was revealed during this period. A few of the most notorious verses on terror e.g., the verse of 'sword' (9:5) was revealed during this time, after Muhammad's return from Tabuk. When he returned to Medina he rebuked those who stayed back in Medina without his permission. Allah approved His messenger's admonition in verses 9:39-51. The most censured were the Bedouins who stayed away (9:97) from the Jihad.
It is claimed by some biographers that, while returning from Tabuk an attempt was made by some of Muhammad's soldiers (hypocrites) to kill him by throwing him over a cliff. However, these 'hypocrites' were not successful in their attempt, as Allah cast fear in them. When this attempt on Muhammad's life was unsuccessful, Allah revealed the verse 9:73-74 asking Muhammad to be harsh with the infidels and the hypocrites.
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.