Islam Under Scrutiny by Ex-Muslims

The Root of Terrorism a la Islamic style
Chapter 11

'You live here, but I live among the infidels. Please let me wash off some of my sin'---Ziad al-Jarrah

Terror Thirty-four

Raid Against al-Qurata at Dariyaah by Muhammad ibn Maslama - July, 627CE

Readers might remember the name of Muhammad ibn Maslama. He was the hired killer of Ka'b b. al-Ashraf, the Jewish poet (see Terror 17, CH. 5). Hitherto, Muhammad b. Maslama was a very special person to Muhammad, the messenger of Allah. Whenever. Muhammad needed to do covert assassination; he (Muhammad ibn Maslama) was the trusted person to accomplish such an act of murder. Having been satisfied with his impeccable service for Islam (via terror), Muhammad, the messenger of Allah, decided to assign him with a much more challenging and rewarding job, i.e., committing plunder or Ghanimah.

So he dispatched Muhammad ibn Maslama, the professional killer, at the head of thirty Jihadists to surround and to plunder al-Qarata, a branch of Kilab tribe that inhabited a place called Dariyyah, about fifty or sixty miles from Medina. Muhammad b. Maslama marched by night, concealing during day, and when he arrived at Dariyyah, he attacked the al-Qurata tribe suddenly, creating panic and terror amongst the people there. During this raid the Muslims killed ten people while others fled offering no resistance. The booty was enormous: one hundred and fifty camels (around US$ 52,000) and three thousand goats (around US$ 105,000) plus the household goods (unspecified sum, probably around US$ 50,000). Muhammad ibn Maslamah continued this looting for nineteen days; then he returned to Medina with the booty. Muhammad, the messenger of Allah took his share (Khums, one-fifth) and distributed the rest to his ardent companions. A camel was made equivalent to ten goats. The Muslims also brought a prisoner who was a disciple of Musaylamah, another claimant of messenger of Allah and Muhammad's bitter competitor. Muhammad, the messenger of Allah accused this prisoner of plotting to kill him in collaboration with Musaylamah. It is stated that the prisoner later accepted Islam.

Terror Thirty-five

First Raid Against B. Thalabah towards Dhu al-Qassah by Muhammad ibn Maslama - July, 627CE

After a few successful raids, Muhammad's herd of camels greatly increased by the plunder. He sent this large herd of camels out to graze in the vicinity of Hayfa, a place seven miles from Medina which was lush with green pastures. Due to the continuous drought prevailing in the adjoining areas during this time, B. Thalabah, a section of the Ghatafan tribe, was greatly tempted to steal from Muhammad's herd. He suspected mischievousness from these people and sent his trusted lieutenant, Muhammad b. Maslama with ten followers to plunder the vicinity of Dhu al-Qassah of B. Thalabah. It was a night's journey from Medina. B. Thalabah people were already aware of the impending attack; so they lay in wait for the Muslims, and when Muhammad b. Maslama arrived at the site, B. Thalabah, with one hundred men attacked them while the Muslims were making preparation to sleep; and after a brief resistance killed all of Muhammad b. Maslama's men. Muhammad b. Maslama himself was severely wounded in his ankle; he could not move. He was left in the field for dead. A Muslim who happened to pass that way found him and assisted him to return to Medina.

Terror Thirty-six

Second Raid against B. Thalabah at Dhu al-Qassah by Ubayda b. al-Jarrah - August, 627CE

When Muhammad, the messenger of Allah learned of this incident (Terror 35), he immediately dispatched an army of forty well-mounted soldiers under the leadership of Abu Ubayda b. al-Jarrah to punish the offenders. This plundering team arrived there (Dhu al-Qassah) just before dawn. Immediately upon their arrival, they raided the inhabitants who quickly fled to the mountains. The Muslims took their cattle, clothes and captured one man. They brought the booty to Muhammad. After taking his due share, he distributed the booty to his men. The captured man embraced (or forced to) Islam and Muhammad released him.

Terror Thirty-seven

Raid Against B. Asad at al-Ghamr by Ukkash b. Mihsan - August, 627CE

During this period, Muhammad sent out forty Jihadists under the leadership of Ukkash b. Mihsan to plunder the neighborhood of al-Ghamr (towards Syrian frontier), a watering place belonging to B. Asad b. Khuzaymah. When Ukkash arrived at the site of pillage he found that the enemy had already fled. The Jihadists captured their cattle, including two hundred camels (worth around US$ 70,000) and brought them to Medina. They also captured a spy whom they set free.

Terror Thirty-eight

Second Attack on Banu Lihyan at Ghiran by Muhammad - September, 627CE

Six months after the massacre of B. Qurayza, Muhammad went out to take revenge on the B. Lihyan people for the killing of his men, namely, Khubayb b. Adi and his companion, Zayd b. al-Dathinnah (see Terror 25, CH. 7) at al-Rajii. After the stalemate at the battle of the Trench and after the ethnic cleansing of B. Qurayzah, Muhammad felt he was militarily strong enough to exact retribution to this tribe. He selected two hundred men on camels and twenty horses.To trick and to to make a sudden and surprise attack on the enemy, he pretended to be heading north, towards Syria. After proceeding north for a short distance and when he felt secure that neither the Quraysh nor their neighbours were aware of his intentions, he made a sudden turn to the left and followed the direct route to Mecca leading him to the town of Ghiran, the abode of B. Lihyan. The B. Lihyan people were already on alert, and when they saw the Muslim army, they took up secure positions on mountain tops, taking their cattle with them, in order to confront Muhammad's army. Muhammad sent some people to search for the tribe of Lihyan, but they could not find their trace.

Having failed to attack the B. Lihyan by shock and terror, Muhammad felt frustrated. In order not to waste this trip, he thought of scaring the Meccans by approaching Mecca and showing his newly found military might. So he marched out with two hundred of his men and halted at Usfan. At Usfan, he dispatched two horsemen towards Mecca. They went up to Kuraul Ghamin and then returned back at Usfan. Then he tripped back to Medina. Ibn Sa'd writes that Muhammad sent Abu Bakr with ten horsemen towards Mecca to terrorize them (the Meccans).

Terror Thirty-nine

Raid on Muhammad's Milch Camels at al-Ghabah by Uyana b. Hisn - September, 627CE

A few days after Muhammad returned Medina from the unsuccessful raid on B. Lihyan, a band of armed men of Ghatafan led by Uyanah b. Hisn raided the outskirts of the city; seized twenty milch camels of Muhammad that were grazing in the area of al-Ghabah. They also killed the shepherd and took his wife as a captive. A Muslim, called Amr ibn al Akwa, saw this plunder and the carrying away of booty. He shot arrows at them and called for help. Muhammad soon heard his call and alerted the people of Medina.

Terror Forty

The Second Raid on Ghatafan at Dhu Qarad by Sa'd b. Zayd/Muhammad - September, 627CE

When Muhammad heard of the raid on his camel herd at al-Gabah by Uyanah b. Hisn, he immediately sent a battery of five hundred cavalrymen under the leadership of Sa'd b. Zayd to search and finish off the perpetrators. He told them that he would meet them later. The Muslim soldiers were more in number than the bandits. They marched out and found the bandits resting in a valley at Dhu Qarad. After a day or two, Muhammad went out with further men and halted at the mountain of Dhu Qarad where the rest of the Muslims joined him. The Muslims then attacked the armed B. Ghatafan and slew several of the marauders and recovered half of the plundered camels. In the battle that ensued, Uyanah's son, Abd al-Rahman was killed. The Muslims lost only one man.He was the son of Abu Dhar Ghifari, one of the most trusted lieutenants of Muhammad. Muhammad's army chased the attackers as far as towards Khaybar and rescued the camels and the woman. They also took as booty, the weapons from the bandits.

Later, Muhammad stayed at Dhu Qarad for a day and a night, and then the Muslims returned to Medina with the looted camels.

Terror Forty-one

Plunder of B. Sulaym at Nakhl by Zayd ibn Haritha - September, 627CE

Zayd ibn Haritha was the freed slave and the adopted son of Muhammad. Muhammad later married Zayd's wife Zaynab. It was time to reward this adopted son with booty. So Muhammad entrusted Zayd b Haritha to lead a plundering team at Jamum, near Nakhl. He captured a woman who led him to the site of B. Sulaym. Zayd's team then raided this place and captured cattle, sheep, camels and took many B. Sulaym as captives. Among the captives was the husband of the woman who led the Muslims to the plundering site. Zayd brought his booty to Muhammad. When Muhammad heard the entire story he granted the woman her freedom and released her husband, presumably for assisting the Muslims in the pillage.

Terror Forty-two

Plunder of the Quraysh at al-Is by Zayd ibn Haritha - September, 627CE

After the successful plunder of B. Sulaym by Muhammad's adopted son, Zayd ibn Haritha, Muhammad thought of entrusting him with a far richer looting operation. Muhammad had already received information that a highly rich caravan of the Quraysh was on its return journey from Syria, and he did not want to waste time to plunder it. So, in the autumn of 627 Muhammad dispatched Zayd with an army of one hundred and seventy horsemen towards al-Is, an important trading center to intercept this Quraysh caravan. The journey was four nights march from Medina. The Muslim plunderers seized the caravan and looted it entirely. Needless to say, it was a highly successful raid and the Muslim army returned with a large amount of booty including plenty of silver belonging to Safwan b Umayyah as well as plenty of captives.

Among the prisoners was Abu al-As, the son-in-law of Muhammad, the husband of Zaynab, Muhammad's eldest daughter. Abu al-As was the nephew of Khadija (Muhammad's first wife) and a prosperous trader in Mecca. When Muhammad received the prophet hood, Abu al-As declined to embrace Islam. But he also refused to divorce Zaynab at the insistence of the Quraysh, for, his love for Zaynab was great. The love was mutual and Muhammad was quite happy about it. When Muhammad migrated to Medina, Zaynab, with her husband, Abu al-As remained at Mecca. In the battle of Badr II Abu al-As was taken as a prisoner. Zaynab sent a necklace of Khadijah to Muhammad as a ransom for the release of her husband. His story has already been told (see Terror 9, CH. 3).

It was after three or four years that Abu al-As was caught again as a prisoner at al-Is. When the party of prisoners arrived at Medina, Abu al-As was given the permission to meet, at night, with his ex-wife Zaynab for her protection. Then he rejoined the other prisoners. In the morning when the Muslims gathered at the mosque for prayer, Zaynab called out loudly that she had given protection to Abu al-As. Muhammad agreed that she could treat Abu al-As as an honored guest but not as her husband. He appealed to the captors to release Abu al-As along with his property, if they wished. If not, then they could keep Abu al-As as their booty. Abu al-As' captors immediately agreed to release him from their captivity. Abu al-As was greatly moved by this generosity; returned to Mecca, completed his affairs there, then returned to Medina and accepted Islam. He then rejoined his wife Zaynab. However, Zaynab died within a year after rejoining her former husband---purportedly due to the illness suffered as a result of her miscarriage.

Muhammad was greatly angered by the acts of the two Quraysh, especially Habbar who manhandled his daughter (Zaynab) during her attempt to escape from Mecca. He gave the order that both of them be burned alive. Later, at night he changed his mind and decided that they should be put to death in the ordinary way, i.e., by beheading. Ali put one of the attackers, Huweirith, to death when the Muslims captured Mecca.

Terror Forty-three

Third Raid on B. Thalabah at al-Taraf By Zayd b. Haritha - October, 627CE

With two successful looting operations by Zayd b. Haritha, Muhammad must have been very pleased with his adopted son. So, he sent Zayd with fifteen men to Al-Taraf, thirty-six miles from Medina to punish and to plunder B. Thalabah once again (see Terror 35, 36 above). When this raid took place, the Bedouin tribe of B. Thalabah fled. Zayd's booty was twenty camels. He spent four nights conducting this raid then returned to Medina with the booty.

Terror Forty-four

Raid Against B. Judham at Hisma By Zayd b Haritha - October, 627CE

In the Sirah (biography) of Muhammad we read that after his signing of Hudaibiya peace treaty with the Quraysh in Mecca, Muhammad took himself as the true messenger of Allah. To prove his clout, he sent several emissaries in a few neighboring countries, inviting them to Islam. He sent Dhiyah b. Khalifah al-Kalbi, one of his devoted followers on a mission to the governor of Syria regarding some concession on the commerce with the Roman province. In his epistle to Heraclius, the Byzantine emperor, Muhammad wrote: "In the name of God, the Merciful and compassionate. From Muhammad, the Messenger of God, to Heraclius, the ruler of the Romans. Peace to whoever follows right guidance!

To proceed: submit yourself, and you shall be safe. Submit yourself, and God shall give you your reward twice over. But, if you turn away, the sin of the Husbandmen shall be upon you."

Despite Muhammad's threat and insulting remarks, Dhiya was graciously received and was presented with a dress of honor. When, after finishing his trip to Syria, Dhiya was returning to Medina with those expensive gifts from the emperor; a group of bandit belonging to B. Judham robbed him of everything when he reached Hisma, a place on way to Syria and on the west of Tabuk.

Dihya approached the neighbouring tribe (with whom he was in good terms) for help. They attacked Bani Judham, recovered the spoils and returned them to Dhiya. When the news of this robbery by B. Judham reached Muhammad, he immediately dispatched Zayd ibn Haritha with five hundred men to punish them. The Muslim army fought with B. Judham, killed several of them, including their chief, Al-Hunayd ibn Arid and his son. Zayd also killed another three men from another clan of B.Judham. The Muslims captured their women and children and plundered a great collection of herds and flocks. Another leader of B. Judham who had recently converted to Islam appealed to Muhammad to release the living captives. Muhammad sent Ali to release those captives there.

Terror Forty-five

First raid at Wadi al-Qura by Zayd b. Haritha - November, 627CE

After so many successful terror operations by Zayd b. Haritha, Muhammad rewarded him by appointing him the Amir (ruler) of the area surrounding Wadi al-Qura. This was an important oasis, about seven miles from Medina, lying in the valley of Qura and on the route to Dumat al-Jandal (Duma) and thence to Syria. It was absolutely important that Muhammad established his full military control on this region to secure his position. Zayd set out with twelve men to survey this area and to monitor the movements of enemies of Muhammad, i.e., the unbelieving tribes inhabiting this region.

However, the inhabitants in this area were unfriendly to Zayd and Islam. They attacked the Muslims, killing nine of them; the rest, including Zayd, managed to escape and returned to Medina.

Continued in Chapter 12 >>>

(Introduction - 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20)


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 [email protected].