Violence in the Koran:

Mohammed himself took part, if leading fro the rear, in thirty-three recorded battles, plus an unknown number of raids on caravans between 622 and 632, an inauspicious beginning to any religion claiming to be characterised by Peace. He also ordered the Expedition to Qatan, or a Sirya in which he did not take part. When addressing Christendom in 1097 with a view towards raising the First Crusade to regain the Holy Land from Islam, and assist Byzantium against the depredations of the Seljuk Muslims, Pope Urban II summarised the early onslaughts of Mohammed’s Arab and Turkish raiders fighting their religiously inspired jihads under the prophet’s crescent banner. Urban goaded European Christians saying:

For your brethren who live in the east are in urgent need of your help, and you must hasten to give them the aid which has often been promised to them. For, as most of you have heard, the Turks and Arabs have attacked them and have conquered the territory of Romania (the Greek empire) as far west as the shore of the Mediterranean and the Hellespont, which is called the Arm of St. George. They have occupied more and more of the lands of those Christians, and have overcome them in seven battles. They have killed and captured many, and have destroyed the churches and devastated the empire. If you permit them to continue thus for a while with impunity, the faithful of God will be much more widely attacked by them. On this account I, or rather the Lord, beseech you as Christ’s heralds to publish this everywhere and to persuade all people whatever rank, foot-soldiers and knights, poor and rich, to carry aid promptly to those Christians and to destroy that vile race from the lands of our friends.

There were few enclaves free of the Islamic yoke in North Africa, if any, where autonomous Christian communities lived. Where they were allowed to practise their faith, they were obliged to wear turbans of a distinctive colour, to pay discriminatory poll taxes to Muslim authorities, barred from government employment or other sinecures, denied rights of free association, and subject to severe punishments if they were deemed to be apostates to Islam. At the same time, they were not permitted to resist attempts to convert them to Islam.

Pope Urban was fully aware of the imperial purposes of Islam, with all of European Spain already under its oppressive heel. Islamic impositions, including violence against so-called infidels, was not only condoned, but encouraged by the Suras of the Koran from the earliest years of Mohammed’s onslaught. Thus in the Surah,Koran 2:216 the bellicose prophet taught:
Warfare is ordained for you, though it is hateful unto you; but it may happen that you hate a thing which is good for you and it may happen that you love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knoweth, you knew not.

This exhortation formed a justification for the massacre of unarmed merchants from the Quraysh tribe of Mecca, Mohammed’s own tribe, in 623 AD at Nakhla. Mohammed had fled to Medina, in an event now celebrated as the hejira, but it seems he was more like a fleeing outlaw. He had destroyed the idols of the Quraysh, and so was guilty of the apostasy and sacrilege he would never condone in others who contravened the religion of peace that he preached.

His bloody punishment, or outrageous atrocities at Nakhla demonstrate that the Islamic idea of warfare does not entail battle against an armed enemy. The terrorists who carry their incendiaries secretly amongst unwitting and unarmed victims can cite Nakhla as a precedent justifying their own actions, and so claim martyrdom.

The merchants were travelling to Mecca during the holy month of Rejeb which was considered sacred for trade in Arabia, when warfare or violence was strictly forbidden by Mohammed. He was able to use this Surahto justify his act of plunder as a divinely ordained opportunity designed for his benefit.

To those who had the temerity to challenge the righteousness of this behaviour, Mohammed was enthused to provide the following specious justification, conveniently appended as the next Surahat 2:217
They question you (O Muhammad) with regard to warfare in the sacred month. Say: ‘Warfare therein is a great transgression but to turn men from the way of Allah and to disbelieve in Him and the inviolable place of worship and to expel its people thence is a greater transgression, for persecution is worse than killing’.

That is, his action was based on a pious need to provide an example to non-believers that would encourage them to accept Islam. The fact that Mohammed personally profited by keeping one fifth of the looted merchandise was merely a sign of Allah’s favour. Of course, that it was permissible under Islam to slaughter non-Muslims in order to facilitate proselytising was beyond question.

In March, 623, during Ramadan Mohammed was again able to use specious, divine inspiration to justify murder and banditry at the well at Badr. On this occasion, the plundered caravan included seventy Quraysh merchants, as well as a paramilitary force from Mecca that came to defend them. The value of the cargo, at 50,000 gold dinars may well have been the primary motive rather than religious zeal. The same Suras could of course be used to justify this violence though it was against a group of merchants that was supported by the government of Mecca. Nor was the captured gold and the deaths of 200 soldiers and merchants enough to curb the prophet’s rage against those who dared to challenge him. In keeping with his religious fervour he demanded ransoms for seventy prisoners; those for whom no righteous offering was made were beheaded, just as infidels who are captured by devout Islamic warriors today and who are not ransomed, are beheaded. Of course now, decapitation can be by chainsaw as well as scimitar or dagger.

The Battle of Badr was based on more than pure greed, obviously. Muhammad was edified, as the prophet of Allah to find the corpse of Abu Jahal, a Meccan who had publicly denounced him as a mountebank. The desecration of Abu Jahal’s corpse provided a further channel for heavenly communication to Muhammad, he Apostle of peace, who happily called on his followers to take succour from their victory, telling them, ‘Rejoice! Here lies the head of the enemy of Allah! Praise Allah, for there is no other but he! It is more acceptable to me than the choicest camel in all Arabia.’ Though with the gold he had amassed he would not have to deny himself any camels that took his fancy.

After burying the mutilated corpses of his enemies in a common grave, or pit, Mohammed announced, ‘O People of the Pit, have you found that what Allah threatened is true now? For I have found that what my Lord promised was true! Rejoice All Muslims!’. Among the captured was the superior storyteller, Al Nadr Ibn al Harith, whose ability as a better raconteur left. Mohammed no option but to have his head removed; clearly Nadr’s superiority was a gift of Shaitan, a mere infernal parody of talent that the righteous could not withstand. Other similarly impertinent minions of the devil were similarly punished on this happy occasion.
Still, for the benighted Muhammad needed a revelation to establish he was merely the hand of God, rather than a vain, grasping, egotistical psychopath, a ridiculous view that even at this time some misguided persons held. Providentially, Allah elucidated Mohammed’s agency in the eight Chapter of the Koran, entitled Al-Anfal, or “The Spoils of War”, or “Booty” by which, happily Allah authorized Mohammed to claim the entire booty taken at Badr:

They ask thee concerning things taken as spoils of war. Say: (Such) spoils are at the disposal of Allah and the Messenger (Muhammad): so fear Allah, and keep straight the relations between yourselves. Obey Allah and his Messenger, if ye do believe. Koran 8:1

However, Mohammed did distribute four fifths of the lucre to his followers, in the spirit of Islamic peace and co-operation. Such generosity may go some way to explaining how Mohammed was able to maintain unity among his followers. Unbelievers were lawful prey for Mohammed’s troops, while apostates are “the vilest of creatures” (Koran 98:6) to whom it is not only unnecessary but wrong to show mercy. The Prophet exhorted his flock: “Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers, smite at their necks.” (Koran 47:4) The term unbelievers or Kafirs applies more to those who were never Muslims rather apostates, or Murtadds; or to Mushriks, who are believers in the Blessed Trinity, so that it may include Christians and Jews. But even Mushriks may not resist submission to Islam.

For Islam, a demonstration of power, or the inspiring of terror takes priority over mercy, as in Surah 8:67 stating: “It is not for any prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land. You desire the lure of this world and Allah desires for you the hereafter and Allah is Mighty, Wise.. Now enjoy what you have won as lawful and good and keep your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is forgiving, merciful.”
This Surah exposes Islam to be a religion that not only encourages violence but actually makes it a sacred duty for Muslims to kill anyone who does not submit to Muslim. Mohammed seems oblivious to the absurdity of his own theology, in which an ‘All forgiving Allah’ demands his followers slaughter those who are not Muslims. The most insensible apologists of Islam with a cursory knowledge of the Bible could point to such contradictions in the Old or New Testaments. The Hebrew prophets never preached forgiveness in conjunction with aggressive warfare, as when the twelve tribes brought down the walls of Jericho, or Samson pulled down Baal’s temple on the heads of the Philistines. There is no such hypocrisy in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, Christ urges his followers to forgive their enemies seven times seventy times, or to turn the other cheek. Christ offers no equivocation. Profiteering from religious war was never condoned in either part of the Bible. The current efforts of Western armies, fighting in the traditions of Judaeo-Christian traditions, are instead working hard towards reconstructing Afghanistan and Iraq, building infrastructure and stable government, so far as it is possible in states unable to overcome the continuous anarchy of internecine war.

Shortly after the Battle of Badr, the Prophet was troubled that Abdallah Ibn Ubayy, a powerful chief who was allied with the Jewish Tribe of Banu Qaynuqa did not defer to his authority. Though these Jews had given Mohammed asylum from the Quraysh when he fled Mecca, he was inspired by divine agency to understand he had no debt of gratitude, but instead an opportunity he was bound to exploit. It was obvious to Mohammed as it would be to any egocentric, crazed, psychopath that Ubayy’s recalcitrance was anathaema in the eyes of Allah. He may have been motivated to correct this effrontery in particular because many of the Banu Qaynuqa happened to be goldsmiths. The Muslims blockaded the fort of the Banu Qaynuqa for fifteen days until the starving Jews surrendered. However, Mohammed could not take immediate advantage of the capitulation of the Jews without first obviating his goal through divination, to be articulated in Surahs 8 55-57:

Lo, the worst of beasts in Allah’s sight are the ungrateful who will not believe. Those of them with whom you made a treaty and then at every opportunity they break their treaty and they keep not duty to Allah, If you come on them in the war, deal with them so as to strike fear in those who are behind them, so that they may remember.

The ingratitude of the Banu Qaynuqa obliged Muhammad to keep one-fifth of their wealth, to enslave a number of them, and to demand the conversion of others who had had the temerity to resist him. But of course, women also must expect the wrath of Allah to be visited upon, together with difficult children, for the obvious reason that they are of their parents, just as wives are under the tutelage of their husbands:

Surah 4:34 Husbands should take full care of their wives, with [the bounties] God has given to some more than others and with what they spend out of their own money. Righteous wives are devout and guard what God would have them guard in the husbands’ absence. If you fear high-handedness from your wives, remind them [of the teaching of God], then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them. If they obey you, you have no right to act against them. God is most high and great.
Of course, Mohammed was quite reasonable, advising men to ignore nagging wives before beating them. But women and children who are not Muslim cannot reasonably expect such lassitude. The destruction of any non-Muslims is readily vouchsafed so long as it occurs at a suitable point in the Islamic calendar:

Surah9:5 –“So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush,…”

There is no need to make any declaration of confrontation regardless of the strength or weakness of the faithless. Of course those who are so intransigent as to take the initiative against extends beyond mere decapitation or quick death, to crucifixion and amputation, as in the pious Surah 5:33:

The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned.

Even the people of the Book are subject to the punishment deemed righteous by the Apostle of Peace, who cannot be deceived by false overtures of friendship. Having taught his followers the doctrine of Taqiyah, that they should deceive authorities who were not of Islam, he also taught them to be wary of Jews and Christians who must be as duplicitous as his own followers:

Surah5:51 – O you who believe! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.

Even where Mohammed’s faithful live amongst those who have not learned to submit, in apparent harmony, they regard them with antipathy and are, as demonstrated from the Surahs provided here, quite justified by Mohammed’s teaching to turn on and destroy those who do not accept their faith.

References:
Miller, William M., A Christian’s Response to Islam, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing,
Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 1976.
Geisler, Norman, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker
Books, 1999.
Glasse, Cyril, The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. San Francisco, 1989.
Morey, Robert, The Islamic Invasion, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene Oregon, 1992.

Chronology of early Islam

· 570 – Birth of Muhammad in Mecca into the tribe of Quraish.
· 577 – Muhammad’s mother dies.
· 580 – Death of Abdul Muttalib, Muhammad’s grandfather.
· 583 – First journey to Syria with a trading Caravan.
· 595 – Muhammad marries Khadijah a rich widow several years older than him.
· 595 – Second journey to Syra.
· 598 – His son, Qasim, is born.
· 600 – His daughter, Zainab, is born.
· 603 – His daughter, Um-e-Kalthum, is born.
· 604 – His daughter, Ruqayya, is born.
· 605 – Placement of Black Stone in Ka’aba.
· 605 – His daughter, Fatima, is born.
· 610 – Mohammed, in a cave on Mt. Hira, hears the angel Gabriel tell him that
Allah is the only true God.
· 613 – Muhammad’s first public preaching of Islam at Mt. Hira; gets few converts.
· 615 – Muslims persecuted by the Quraish.
· 619 – Marries Sau’da and Aisha.
· 620 – Institution of five daily prayers.
· 622 – Muhammad immigrates from Mecca to Medina, which was then called Yathrib, gets
more converts.
· 623 – Battle of Waddan.
· 623 – Battle of Safwan.
· 623 – Battle of Dul-‘Ashir.
· 624 – Muhammad and converts begin raids on caravans to fund the movement.
· 624 – Zakat becomes mandatory.
· 624 – Battle of Badr.
· 624 – Battle of Bani Salim.
· 624 – Battle of Eid-ul-Fitr and Zakat-ul-Fitr.
· 624 – Battle of Bani Qainuqa’.
· 624 – Battle of Sawiq.
· 624 – Battle of Ghatfan.
· 624 – Battle of Bahran.
· 625 – Battle of Uhud; 70 Muslims are killed.
· 625 – Battle of Humra-ul-Asad.
· 625 – Battle of Banu Nudair.
· 625 – Battle of Dhatur-Riqa.
· 626 – Battle of Badru-Ukhra.
· 626 – Battle of Dumatul-Jandal.
· 626 – Battle of Banu Mustalaq Nikah.
· 627 – Battle of the Trench.
· 627 – Battle of Ahzab.
· 627 – Battle of Bani Quraiza.
· 627 – Battle of Bani Lahyan.
· 627 – Battle of Ghaiba.
· 627 – Battle of Khaibar.
· 628 – Muhammad signs treaty with Quraish.
· 630 – Muhammad conquers Mecca.
· 630 – Battle of Hunsin.
· 630 – Battle of Tabuk.
· 632 – Muhammad dies.
References:
Miller, William M., A Christian’s Response to Islam, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing,
Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 1976.
Geisler, Norman, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Books, 1999.
Glasse, Cyril, The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. San Francisco, 1989.
Morey, Robert, The Islamic Invasion, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene Oregon, 1992.

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