There's new accusation from none other than a non-Muslim authors that Muhammad had imposed head-to-toe veil upon Muslim women, because they were being molested/persecuted by his opponents, purportedly the Jews of Medina. How true is this never-heard accusation, which even Muslims, masters of making all kinds of unfounded accusations against Muhammad's infidel opponents of Arabia, never make...
While growing up as a young boy, I was told (as do all Muslims) of how horribly the kafirs (idol-worshipper) of Mecca persecuted our beloved Prophet and his disciples. As an example, Abu Shujaah, an Islamic propagandist, writes of the persecution suffered by Muhammad at Mecca: "You’re dealing with a dictatorial society. Muhammad (saw) and the followers of Islam were shunned, closed off, hounded by the polytheist Pagan Quraysh leaders, who had the money and manpower to provoke, threaten and at one point completely lock of the Muslims to the extent they were starved for several months."
Another Muslim once wrote to me that "many Muslims perished, died under torture, in many horrific ways for 13 years."
While Muslim minds are loaded with such propaganda in most emotive language from early age, Islamic literature records no overt persecution of the Muslims by Meccan kafirs. The verses of the Quran and Muhammad’s utterances intensely condemned the religious practices, customs and ancestors of Meccan idolaters. In response, the kafirs only restricted Muhammad’s preaching, but some 5-6 years later. When his attack on the Meccan religion continued, they sanctioned boycott of Muhammad’s community for two years (617–619) in order to discipline him, albeit unsuccessfully. While it caused hardship to Muslims, it can be considered a civilized measure even today. North Korea has been under U.N. sanctions for many decades now.
Besides this, there were no overt incidents of violence against Muslims: there was no death, no Muslim died during Muhammad’s 13-year stay and preaching in Mecca, before he willingly relocated in 622 CE to Medina, where his religion was making converts. He had tried to relocate to Taif three years earlier (619), but was not welcomed there. He returned to Mecca and lived another three years, facing no violence at all.
The Meccan kafirs’ treatment of Muhammad can be summed up in this way: If someone pretends to be a prophet in exactly the same way as did Muhammad and try to preach a new religion in Mecca, that person would not remain alive for an hour; Muslims would murder him forthwith. (Readers may consult my book, Islamic Jihad, which deals with the exemplary tolerance shown to Muhammad by the much-maligned kafirs of Arabia.)
When confronted with Muhammad’s horrendous violence against the Jews of Medina and elsewhere in Arabia, Muslims offer similar justification that the Jews had horribly persecuted Muhammad, forcing him to take the just defensive measures: evictions, slaughter en masse and enslavement of the Jews.
But Islamic literature clearly shows that the Jews never harmed Muhammad; their only fault was their criticism of Muhammad’s religious doctrines, as well as his barbaric violence and cruelty (by poets Asma, Kaab and Abu Afak etc). Such criticisms are considered one’s human rights today. The civility of a society is determined by its culture of criticism and its tolerance, not its suppression.
Many kafir scholars have joined the tune of Muslims to condemn the innocent kafirs of Arabia—who were treated most cruelly by Muhammad—labeling unfounded accusations against them.
James Lennard’s recent essays on Islamic veil are one such effort. His accusation is grotesque, because even no Muslim ever made the same accusation. It's totally new. It relates to verse 33:59 that commands for head-to-toe veiling of Muslim women:
O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (jalabib) close around themselves; that is better that they are recognized and not annoyed. And God is Most Forgiving, Merciful.
Allah command Muslim women to be veiled when go out so that they can be recognized as Muslims and be “not annoyed”.
“Not annoyed” by who?
Lennard tells us that it was Muhammad’s opponents, i.e. the kafirs of Medina (must be the Jews), as he wrote:
An early Arabian historian explains that Muhammad’s wives had been bothered by his opponents in Medina, when they left the house at night to ‘relieve themselves’, because they took unveiled women for slaves…
It is well-known that when Muhammad’s wives were going out to relieve themselves, it was the prophet’s distinguished sahaba, Umar, later the 2nd caliph, who was acting as a “peeping tom”. He later felt guilty about it and asked Muhammad to sanction veil for the Muslim women. Mr. Lennard mentions this fact at end of the same paragraph:
Umar used to watch these ladies in the open and requested Muhammad to cover his wives with veils whenever they went out to do their business in the open fields at night. At first, Muhammad ignored Umar’s plea, but when Umar kept pestering, Muhammad turned to Allah for His suggestions, resulting in Surah 33:59.
To sharpen his accusation against the kafirs of Medina, Lennard adds:
It appears that during the time in Madinah, when Muslims were being persecuted (as mentioned in Surah al-Ahzab ayat 57–61), it was fard for all Muslim women to draw their jilbabs over their faces. …Persecution is a valid reason for concealment…
Let us see what Maududi says in explanation of this section of the verse (his translation: “It is likelier that they will be recognized and not molested”):
"...will thus be recognized": will be recognized to be noble and chaste women from their simple and modest dress, and not women of ill repute from whom some wicked person could cherish evil hopes. ''...are not molested": will not be teased, but let alone.
Maududi does not say who those purported molesters (persecutors) were.
Now first, if persecution of Muslims and their women by Muhammad’s enemies was the issue here, it must have been a situation that Muhammad was weak at the time and could not defend himself. At such a time, imposing the veil on pious women, which would’ve made them easily recognizable as Muslim, and, therefore, easier target for molestation. We know that some Muslims in the U.S. were advising their women not to wear the veil for some time after the 9/11 attacks, fearing that it will make them targets of molestation or attacks. So, it must have been silly on the part of Muhammad to advise the Muslim women to do something, which would increase chances of their falling pray to persecution (molestation). Therefore, it was not the kafirs, who were molesting, but likely some wayward Muslims, who were picking believing women for molestation.
The time-frame of verse’s revelation may give a clue as to who were those molesters. This verse was revealed after Muhammad’s marriage to his daughter-in-law Zainab that occurred in 629 CE, which can be deduced from the fact that verse 33:53 were revealed on the occasion of Muhammad’s marriage to Zainab (see tafsirs by Ibn Kathir and Maududi).
And we know that non-Muslims were not living in Medina at that time: Medina became purely Islamic after Muhammad exterminated the Banu Quraiza Jews in 627. If at all some rare pieces of kafirs were living in Medina at this time, they must’ve been trembling with fear of Muhammad, given the fire of terror that he had ignited around Arabia by this time. It’s impossible that the kafirs were the ones, who were molesting the Muslim women as mentioned in verse 33:59.
So, one can be certain that it was some rowdy Muslims, who were the molesters mentioned in the veiling verse 33:59. We know that Muslims were on an orgasmic enthusiasm at this time going around Arabia, raiding non-Muslim communities, and enslaving hundreds of women to use as sex-slaves. They had become the master-molester of women in Arabia, unprecedented in those times.
It is perfectly possible that some amongst such as barbarous band of Muhammad’s followers—who were so inspired to waging wars for capturing booty, prominently women, to rape them keeping as sex-slaves—would misbehave even with Muslim women that come along their way as long as she was attractive. In fact even today, even a veiled Muslim woman, if walking alone at 12 at night in the streets of Cairo, Islamabad, Riyadh or Mecca, she is unlikely to escape molestation from their own Muslim brethren; she would, most likely, be raped by Muslim men.
The veiling was imposed to create a barrier, so that the rowdy followers of Muhammad (males) cannot know who the woman was (could be the molester’s own mother or sister) or see how attractive she was. This would reduce the chances of their molestation by their coreligionists.
In sum, it is obvious that the purported molesters/persecutors, mentioned in Quran 33:59, were not the kafir opponents of Muhammad. It could be only be Muslims themselves. It is, therefore, gross injustice to accuse that Muhammad’s opponents, who could be none other than the Jews, were molesting the Muslim women as mentioned in this verse.
Indeed, this accusation constitutes injustice of the highest degree, given that those unfortunate innocent Jews suffered most horribly at Muhammad’s hand, and that it was Muhammad and his followers, who were the violators of the Jewish women, of the worst kind, as they were engaging in mass-slaughter of the Jewish men, and enslaving and raping their women.