The Root of Terrorism a la
20 Nov, 2005
- 'One man's faith is another man's delusion'---Dr. Anthony Storr (1920-2001)
The Ethnic Cleansing of B. Nadir Jews from Medina by Muhammad - July, 625CE
Bani Nadir Jews inhabited the fertile land in the vicinity of Medina. They were prosperous Jews, having vast tracts of land, on which they cultivated date palms. They were in confederation with the B. Amir people. As mentioned previously (CH. 7), Muhammad went to the Bani Nadir Jews to raise the blood money to be paid for the killing of two men of B. Amir, whom the professional killer, Amr b. Umayya al-Damri had killed by mistake.
So, Muhammad, with a few of his followers, including, Abu Bakr, Ali and Umar visited the village of B. Nadir, two or three miles away from Medina and requested the chief of B. Nadir to refund the blood money that he had already paid. The B. Nadir Jews received Muhammad courteously, asked him to sit down while they attentively listened to his demand and agreed to honor Muhammad's request. Muhammad was quite unhappy when the B. Nadir readily agreed to his demand. In reality, he was expecting the B. Nadir Jews to reject his demand, so that he could have a good pretext to attack them and seize their land and property.
After agreeing to Muhammad's demand for blood money, the B. Nadir Jews went for a private discussion among themselves. This unnerved Muhammad. While he was sitting by the wall of a house, he thought that B. Nadir Jews were plotting to kill him. He claimed that B. Nadir Jews wanted to kill him by dropping a stone from top of the house. As usual, he pretended that Gabriel gave him this information. So, he suddenly stood up and left the place, as if to answer the call of nature asking others, including Abu Bakr, Umar and Ali not to leave the place until he returned. When his companions found that Muhammad's return was very much delayed, they went out looking for him. On their way to Medina they met a man who told them he saw Muhammad was headed for Medina. When they met Muhammad at Medina, he told them his perception of treachery by B. Nadir and asked the Muslims to prepare to fight the B. Nadir.
With clear war and invasion of Jewish property in mind, Muhammad asked another of his professional assassins, Muhammad ibn Maslamah (remember? He murdered Ka'b b. Ashraf, see Terror 17, CH. 5) to go to the Banu Nadir Jews to announce to them the ultimatum to vacate Medina. He gave the Jews ten days to evacuate Medina and, if after this deadline any Jew was seen in the area, he would be killed---the ultimatum said. The B. Nadir Jews were startled with this sudden change of heart of Muhammad. They could not believe it coming from a person like Muhammad who claimed to be the messenger of Allah. They were more surprised that Muhammad ibn Maslamah, who was hitherto very much on friendly terms with the Jews had to serve them the ultimatum. When the B. Nadir Jews expressed their dismay at the action of Muhammad b. Maslamah, he said, " Hearts have changed, and Islam has wiped out the old covenants."
When Abd Allah ibn Ubayy learned about the precarious situation of the B. Nadir Jews, he sent the message to them that he himself would be coming to their assistance with two thousand Jewish and Arab fighters. But the Banu Nadir Jews recalled that the same person promised to help the Banu Qaynuqa Jews, but in the end, betrayed. So, the Banu Nadir Jews, at first, decided towards removing themselves to Khaybar or nearby. They thought that they could still come to Yathrib (Medina) to harvest their crops and then return to their fortresses at Khaybar. Huyayy ibn Akhtab, their leader finally resolved against this view. He decided to send a message to Muhammad, declining his order of expulsion,. entered in their fortified fortresses, stocked them with enough supplies to last up to a year and got ready to defend themselves. So, no Jew left Medina after the expiry of the ten days ultimatum. Muhammad now had the most legitimate reason to besiege the Jews.
Accordingly, when Muhammad ibn Maslamah returned to Medina with the news of the Jews, Muhammad, the Prophet immediately gave order to his fanatic Jihadists in his mosque to arm themselves and march forward to lay a siege on the fortresses of B. Nadir Jews. A band of Muslims, with Muhammad as their leader started marching against B. Nadir who had already taken shelter in their formidable fortresses. In the beginning, the Jews attacked the Muslim besiegers with arrows and stones and held out gallantly. Although not unexpected, they were greatly disappointed when no help came from Abd Allah ibn Ubayy, nor from any other previously trusted sources. The siege lasted for fifteen or twenty days, and Muhammad became very impatient. At last, to hasten their surrender, Muhammad, in contravention of the revered laws of Arab warfare, cut down the surrounding date trees and burned them. When the Jews protested about the breaking of sacrosanct Arab laws on warfare, he demanded a special revelation from Allah (59:4) that was promptly sent down, sanctioning the destruction of enemy's palm trees. In this verse Allah gave generous permission to the Muslims to cut down the palm trees: it was not a destruction but the vengeance from Allah, and to humble the evil doers that is to say, it is alright to cut down cultivated land and burn crops in a war. The Muslim poet (or the war correspondent of those days) Hassan b. Thabit enjoyed this gutting of the livelihood of the B. Nadir Jews and composed lyrics on this savage acts of the Jihadists.. Here is a Hadith from Sahih Bukhari that describes Hassan's mood :
Volume 3, Book 39, Number 519:
The Prophet got the date palm trees of the tribe of Bani-An-Nadir burnt and the trees cut down at a place called Al-Buwaira . Hassan bin Thabit said in a poetic verse: "The chiefs of Bani Lu'ai found it easy to watch fire spreading at Al-Buwaira."
After Muhammad destroyed their only source of livelihood, the B. Nadir found their case completely hopeless, and finding no other alternative, they decided to surrender and abandon their lands. In exchange for this, they wanted Muhammad to spare their lives, on which he agreed, on condition that they could only take those of their property that they could carry on their camels. He stipulated that the Jews must surrender their arms. They were allowed to carry whatever they could stock upon their camels. The Jews agreed to comply with those humiliating conditions, loaded six hundred camels with their goods and departed from their ancestral land with fanfare, din and alacrity. Some of them, with their chiefs Huyey, Sallam and Kinana went to Khaybar. The rest of them went to Jericho and the highlands of south Syria. Only two of them embraced Islam. They were given back their land and all of their properties.
[ Note: The Sharia Law (Islamic Law) on destruction of enemy properties states:
It is permissible in Jihad to cut down the enemy trees and destroy their dwellings.
Once the expulsion of B. Nadir Jews was complete, Muhammad took over the ownership of their property making it his personal chattel that he could dispose of as he wished. He claimed that the spoils of B. Nadir belonged to Allah and to him exempting the land from the usual law of distribution of booty because it was gained without actually fighting. He divided the land according to his discretion, choosing the best lots for himself. With the exception of two Medina citizens (Ansar) the whole of B. Nadir lands were distributed among the refugees (Muhajirs). In this way the refugees became independent and affluent. Muhammad, Abu Bakr, Umar, Zubayr and the other chief companions of Muhammad acquired valuable estates. The other booty consisted of fifty armors coats, fifty stand of armor and three hundred and fifty swords. Thus, the expulsion of B. Nadir Jews was a great material success for Muhammad. An entire sura (Sura 59:al- Hashr) relates to the affair of B. Nadir, where Allah says that the B. Nadir Jews were subdued by the striking of terror in their hearts. Terror, duly sanctioned by Allah, thus became a legitimate weapon in the arsenal of Muhammad.
On the success of this terror and plunder, Hussain Haykal writes that this was the biggest prize to the Muslims. These booties were not divided among the Muslims as war booty. They were all considered as a trust which Muhammad divided among the early emigrants after putting away some for the purposes of the poor and the deprived. Thus, the necessary economic support of the Muhajirun by al-Ansar was alleviated for the first time. The Muhajirun now acquired as much wealth as their hosts.
Continuing further, Hussain Haykal comments:
After the expulsion of the B. Nadir Jews, Muhammad distributed their lands to the Mohajirs and with this, they were quite satisfied with their new lands. The Ansars were equally happy that they no longer had to support the Mohajirs.
In this way, Muhammad became quite a rich man in Medina and the migrant Muslims found a permanent means of their livelihood.
Until the exit of B.Nadir Jews from Medina, Muhammad's secretary was a Jew. Muhammad chose him because of his ability to write letters in Hebrew and Syriac as well as in Arabic. After the evacuation of Banu Nadir Jews, Muhammad no longer trusted a non-Muslim to write his letters. So, he engaged Zayd ibn Thabit, a Medinese youth to learn the two languages, and appointed him as his secretary for all affairs. Zayd ibn Thabit also collected/compiled the Qur'an during the caliphate of Abu Bakr and Uthman.
Muhammad claimed that B. Nadir property was a special gift from Allah to him. He sold B. Nadir booty to purchase arms, horses, provision for his wives and used the B. Nadir property to support his wives. Here is a Hadith in support of the actions of Muhammad from Sahih Bukahri:
Volume 6, Book 60, Number 407:
The properties of Bam An-Nadir were among the booty that Allah gave to His Apostle such Booty were not obtained by any expedition on the part of Muslims, neither with cavalry, nor with camelry. So those properties were for Allah's Apostle only, and he used to provide thereof the yearly expenditure for his wives, and dedicate the rest of its revenues for purchasing arms and horses as war material to be used in Allah's Cause.
Here is another Hadith from Sunaan Abu Dawud about Muhammad's exclusive rights on the annexed properties of B. Nadir, Fadak and Khaybar:
Book 19, Number 2961:
Narrated Umar ibn al-Khattab:
Malik ibn Aws al-Hadthan said: One of the arguments put forward by Umar was that he said that the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) received three things exclusively to himself: Banu an-Nadir, Khaybar and Fadak. The Banu an-Nadir property was kept wholly for his emergent needs, Fadak for travellers, and Khaybar was divided by the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) into three sections: two for Muslims, and one as a contribution for his family. If anything remained after making the contribution of his family, he divided it among the poor Emigrants.
Once again, we note that terrorism had really paid a huge dividend to Muhammad and his horde of fanatic Jihadists.
Many Islamists often claim that 'There is no compulsion in religion' (2:256) to portray the religious freedom in Islam. However, they cleverly avoid the context of this verse. This verse relates to some Muslim children who were raised as Jews with the B. Nadir. This happened, because during those days, many Muslims who had difficulty in having children used to vow that if Allah gave them any child they would make that child a Jew and raise the child with the Jews. When Muhammad performed his ethnic cleansing on the Jews of B. Nadir, the Muslim parents of these children asked him about what should they do with their children. Muhammad permitted these children to remain Jews by saying 'There should be no compulsion in religion.' Therefore, the verse 2:256 has no relevance with religious freedom whatsoever.
Here is a Hadith from Sunaan Abu Dawud on this matter:
Book 14, Number 2676:
Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas:
When the children of a woman (in pre-Islamic days) did not survive, she took a vow on herself that if her child survives, she would convert it a Jew. When Banu an-Nadir were expelled (from Arabia), there were some children of the Ansar (Helpers) among them. They said: We shall not leave our children. So Allah the Exalted revealed; "Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error."
Raid Against B. Ghatafan at Dhat al-Riqa by Muhammad - October, 625CE
After the expulsion of the B. Nadir Jews, Muhammad stayed in Medina for two months. Then he received the news that certain tribes of B. Ghatafan were assembling at Dhat al Riqa with suspicious purposes. The Ghatafan were an Arabian tribe, descended from Qais. Muhammad, proceeding up to Nakhl led an expedition against the B. Muhamrib and the B. Thalabah, a sub-clan of the Ghatafan. This is called the expedition of Dhat al-Riqa'(the patchwork of mountain) because the mountain after which it was named had black, white and red patches on it. He made a surprise raid on them with four hundred (or seven hundred) men to disperse them. The Ghatafan fled to the mountains, leaving their women behind. No fighting took place but Muhammad attacked their habitations and carried all their women off including a very pretty girl. When the prayer time came, the Muslims were terrified that the Ghatafan men might descend from their mountain hideout and make a sudden attack on them while they were praying. Apprehending this fear, Muhammad introduced the 'service of prayer of danger.' In this system, a party of faithful stands guard while the other party prays. Then they take turns. The public prayer is thus repeated twice. A revelation came from Allah on this provision (4:100-102) regarding shortening of a prayer.
While Muhammad was resting under the shade of a tree at Dhat al-Riqa, a polytheist man came to him with the intention of killing him. The man was playing with Muhammad's sword and pointed it to Muhammad; asked him if he was afraid of him or not. Muhammad claimed that Allah would protect him and that he was not afraid at all. The would-be assassin then sheathed the sword and returned it to Muhammad. On this occasion Allah revealed verse 5:11, proclaiming His unflinching protection for Muhammad whenever someone stretches his hand out for his life. After fifteen days Muhammad returned to Medina. But he was not at peace; he apprehended that the B. Ghatafan might make a sudden attack to reclaim their women.
Surprisingly, the Sirah (biography of Muhammad) is completely silent about what happened to those captured women of Ghatafan. I searched most of the well-known Islamic sources, but they are as mute as a fish. However, if I have to go by the Islamic rules then I am pretty certain that those women were awarded to the Jihadists to be enjoyed or sold as slaves to raise money for war as per the booty rules
The Expedition for Badr III by Muhammad - January, 626CE
As per the appointment at Uhud (see Terror 21, CH. 6), the forces of Mecca and Medina were to meet again at Badr within a year. That time soon arrived. This was a year of great drought. Abu Sufyan b. Harb thought it to be unwise to set out for a war in this year of famine and desired that the appointment be deferred to a year of plenty. He sent an emissary, Nuaym, to Medina who exaggerated the preparation of the Meccans. Abu Sufyan did that hoping that this exaggeration might dissuade the Muslims who still had in mind, the terrible defeat at Uhud. The Quraysh, however, marched from Mecca with two thousand foot soldiers and fifty horses. Abu Sufyan went out of Mecca as far as Usfan, then decided to go back after two days of marching, because he could not find a good pasture, the year being a year of severe drought. The Meccan army was reduced to live on flour and water only. Hence this is also known as the expedition of Sawick (barley porridge).
The report of Nuaym greatly alarmed the Muslims of Medina. Many of them were reluctant to meet the formidable enemy again. But Muhammad decided to go forth. He gathered fifteen hundred men and prepared for the march to Badr. This was the third time that the two armies were presumably to meet at Badr. The Muslims arrived at Badr and encamped there for eight days. They carried a lot of wares with them in anticipation of a fair there. When they arrived at Badr they found no Quraysh army there. Muhammad waited for the rendezvous with Abu Sufyan b. Harb. When this did not materialise he met Makashi b. Amr al-Damri and expressed his intention of dissolving their treaty of peace, if B. Damri people desired. Actually, Muhammad wanted to wage a war on this tribal people as he felt he was strong enough to terrorize smaller tribes. But the Damri people decided to keep the treaty of peace with him.
The Muslim army bartered their wares, made good profit and returned to Medina. Muhammad was much pleased with this expedition and took that as a sign of Allah. He received the revelation 3:172-175 regarding Satan casting fear in the mind of Muhammad.
When the Quraysh heard of Muhammad's rejoice, they were greatly mortified, fearing further terrorism from him. They began to plan another grand attack against Muhammad. It took them a year to plan and execute the attack. During this period Muhammad had a little respite.
First Raid at Dumat al-Jandal byMuhammad - July, 626CE
In the summer of 626CE Muhammad purportedly received intelligence reports that the Ghatafan tribe, once again, had mobilised troops at Dumat al-Jandal to launch an attack on him. Dumat al-Jandal is an oasis on the frontier between Hijaz and al-Sham, midway between the Red sea and the Persian Gulf.on the borders of Syria. A severe drought during this time caused famine in this area. Without wasting any time, Muhammad immediately made a raid on this band of Ghatafan tribe and captured their herd grazing in the neighbourhood. He led this expedition with an army of one thousand men and reached the confines of Syria. No fighting took place as the B. Ghatafan fled without giving any opposition. The Muslims returned to Medina with the booty. This expedition greatly enhanced the lust for plunder in the hearts of Muhammad's men. On his way back, Muhammad entered into a truce with Uyanah b. Hisn, the leader of B. Fazarah, a powerful part of Ghatafan, so that Uyanah b. Hisn b. Hudhayfah could pasture his herds in the nearby territory of Taghlaman, controlled by Muhammad as Uyanah's territory was afflicted with drought. The land at Taghlaman was lush with pasturage due to rain there.
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.