In this article, I try to answer the question: How did Muhammad make a living? What kind of work did he do after his prophetic call?
Before Muhammad was a prophet, he used to do some odd jobs. He worked as a sheep herder for a while. I would not rule out him fetching some buckets of water for the Pagan pilgrims to the Ka'ba during the jahiliyya time. He also herded cattle. Khadija hired him to manage her caravan trade business. He did travel to the greater Syria region for commerce. His job with Khadija was of an “Amin” or “Amin Al Mal” (Financial trustee). Muslims brag about Muhammad being Al Amin (the honest one). Far from it. It was just a job-title for him concerning his work for Khadija. After becoming a prophet, he stopped working and lived on Khadija considerable wealth. When he moved to Medina 12 years after becoming a prophet, he was almost broke. So, he soon started raiding commercial caravans, mostly of the Meccans, in which failed miserably for the first few months. Finally, during a holy month, the first raiding success came in Nakla. It was this raid that played a determining factor in his future means of making a living.
Background of the Nakla raid
After Muhammad moved to Medina, known in history as Al-Hijra, with a group of Muslims, known in history as Al-Muhajiroon, things got really tough for him and his followers. The rich Jewish tribes knew he was an imposter, not a prophet (an understanding, though correct, proved to be of fatal consequences to the Jews of Arabia later on). In order to survive, Muhammad set out to attack the rich caravans of Quraysh. After all, it was their rejection of his religion that forced him to leave Mecca and land in serious difficulty. His first few attempts at raiding the Meccan caravans were flat out failures. However, he managed to sign treaties with some tribes that lived in the areas where he was attempting to attack the caravans of the Quraysh. This, in the long run, helped him roam freely attacking caravans, killing their attendants, and stealing everything else. As one would expect, such “blessed” acts cannot be as such without the sanctioned divine revelation through the Qur’an. After all, Muhammad is none but the messenger. The following is a hadith from Sahih El-Bukhari. The hadith comes to us, supposedly, from a time after one of the earlier raids, Al-Abwa. The raid itself was a failure, but during the process of the raid, Muhammad forced one of the tribes to sign a treaty not to attack Muhammad and his gang of robbers during their ambushes and attacks to the Quraysh caravans. Here is the hadith:
Volume 4, Book 52, Number 256:
Narrated As-Sab bin Jaththama:
The Prophet passed by me at a place called Al-Abwa or Waddan, and was asked whether it was permissible to attack the pagan warriors at night with the probability of exposing their women and children to danger. The Prophet replied, "They (i.e. women and children) are from them (i.e. pagans)." I also heard the Prophet saying, "The institution of Hima is invalid except for Allah and His Apostle."
The above hadith is a very interesting one indeed. It establishes the following rules right from Islam’s very beginnings:
Official sanctioning of robbing from the non-Muslims and killing the men and, if needed, killing the women and children.
This idea of “Us the Muslims” against “Them the non-Muslims” has marked the history of Islam since that time until our 21st century. Time and again, results of this Islamic creed proved disastrous for human beings everywhere throughout the last 1400+ years. Do you then blame people like Ali Sina, Abul Kasem, Wafa Sultan and many many others who pretty much say in their own words something like: “The only good Islam, is a Dead Islam.”
Right from the beginning, Muhammad established, as a mandate, His and Allah’s protection. “Hima” means “Protection” in Arabic, even by brute force if necessary. No wonder modern-day jihadists go berserk if you doubt Allah, the Qur’an, or his pedophile murderer prophet!
The Nakhla Raid
Muhammad sent Abdallah Bin Jahsh, along with a party of between seven and twelve men of the Muhajireen (those are the people who migrated from Mecca to Medina with Muhammad) to a valley east of Mecca called Nakhla. This valley was approximately half way between Ta’ef and Mecca. The valley was on the Meccan route toward Syria. Abdallah, the party leader did not know of his final destination until two days after the start of his trip. Muhammad had given him a letter containing instructions on where to go. The letter was not to be opened until two days after the start of the trip have passed. The letter included Muhammad’s instructions to go and hide in the valley of Nakhla to observe a rich Quraysh caravan that will be passing through. The letter, according to Islamic historians, did not include Muhammad’s instructions to attack during a holy month. Because the historical sources are Muslim in this case, I entertain some measure of doubt about Muhammad's instruction not to attack during the holy month. This group had Muhammad as their leader. If he had not instructed them to attack, they would not. The history of Islam supports my suspicion here. If Abdallah had disobeyed Muhammad, he was supposed to admonish him, if not expel him from Islam. Instead, Muhammad gave Abdallah the proud title of 'Ameer al Muminin', meaning 'the leader of the believers'. Moreover, does the name Sa’d Bin Waqqas ring a bell? The same applies to the other names.
Sure enough a rich caravan was passing through. The caravan had a lot of goods (raisins, leather, ..etc.) with only four men guarding it. Since the caravan was moving during a holy month, Quraysh leaders did not bother putting more protection to their goods, as by tradition the Arabs abstained from violence and blood-shed during the holy month. After Muhammad and his Sahabi gang came to the seen, it all changed. Needless to say that the Muslim gang attacked the caravan, with some hesitation off course, since it was the holy month. The lead attendant of the caravan was killed. Another man escaped, and the other two men were captured by Muhammad's gang. The booty and the prisoners were brought back to Medina. Abdallah bin Jahsh gave a fifth of the booty to Muhammad who initially refused it. After all, the Muslims had attacked during a sacred time, and this would make Muhammad and the Muslims look bad in the eyes of the rest of Arab tribes. Yet, Muhammad desperately wanted a share of the booty. The attack against the Quraysh was not only unprovoked, but also badly timed. But hey! Booty is booty. Muhammad and his followers have been struggling to feed themselves for a while in Medina. They desperately needed the booty to sustain their lives. And so, Allah intervenes and tells Muhammad: Take the booty man! It's yours. Here is the Quar’anic blessing:
YUSUFALI: They ask thee concerning fighting in the Prohibited Month. Say: "Fighting therein is a grave (offence); but graver is it in the sight of Allah to prevent access to the path of Allah, to deny Him, to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque, and drive out its members." Tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter. Nor will they cease fighting you until they turn you back from your faith if they can. And if any of you Turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear no fruit in this life and in the Hereafter; they will be companions of the Fire and will abide therein.
So, Muhammad took the khums (20%), his cut of the loot. Muhammad also made a good sum of ransom money from the two prisoners before sending them back to Quaraysh and had his cut of the deal on that one also. All in all, it was a success for the Muslim Umma. They plundered, killed, stole, violated the sacred, and made a goodly amount of booty and ransom money.
When the news of the raid reached Mecca, the Meccans realized that Muhammad’s evil intentions were turning to be a major threat to their livelihood, especially their commerce with Syria. At the time, Zainab, Muhammad’s daughter, and also some of his followers, were living in Mecca. None of them were threatened or hurt by the Meccans when the news of Muhammad's evil raid broke.
Where did the 20% cut for Muhammad come from?
Sura al-Anfal (spoils of war), verse 41, in the Qur’an makes a divine command to give to Muhammad 20% of the loots that the Muslims gain by raiding others:
And know that anything you obtain of war booty – then indeed, for Allah is one fifth of it and for the Messenger and for [his] near relatives and the orphans, the needy, and the [stranded] traveler, if you have believed in Allah and in that which We sent down to Our Servant on the day of criterion – the day when the two armies met. And Allah, over all things, is competent.
Needless to say that Muhammad’s divine entity, Allah, won’t come down to claim his part of the joint share of the booty with Muhammad. The verse was just a justification for Muhammad to get one-fifth of his Muslim gang’s robberies and loots for himself.
Those who think Muhammad lived poor need to think again. When Muhammad committed his evil genocide of bani Qurayza, he beheaded about 800 men. Now, let us think for a minute here. He just finished off the heads of 800 families. Muslims took over their properties and enslaved the women and children. A property of 800 households is a lot of fortune. Muhammad got one-fifth of that. That’s the belongings of 160 households. That includes all material property and the women and children enslaved and raped upon desire. Muslims who think Muhammad lived poor need to think again. Muslims attacked many groups of people, tribes and towns. Muhammad got a fifth of the booty and loots. That does not tell he lived poor, does it? Muhammad had nine wives when he died. How in the world can a person like that be poor? Muhammad made a nice living, though through evil means, namely by attacking others and grabbing their properties. He managed to do all that because there was not a functioning government in Arabia to take care of him and his cronies. During Muhammad’s time, Might was right in Arabia. This is what allowed Muhammad to be the monster that he became.
Once prophethood sat in with Muhammad, he made sure people knew there is a new sheriff in town. A past prophet was forgiving, decent, and suffered in place of others. When Muhammad came, he changed the meaning of a prophet. A prophet is a gangster and looter. This is how Muhammad made a living. He terrorized others and instilled fear in their hearts, and got the booty when he could. I would like to finish this article with the two following hadiths. The first hadith shows the meaning of who prophet Muhammad was. The second Hadith shows how greedy Muhammad was. If a tribe surrendered without fight, Muhammad took all. His gangsters got nothing. And, I would imagine, if any of them begged to differ with Muhammad on this matter, he was put to the sword:
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “I have been sent with the shortest expressions bearing the widest meanings, and I have been made victorious with terror (cast in the hearts of the enemy), and while I was sleeping, the keys of the treasures of the world were brought to me and put in my hand.” Abu Huraira added: Allah’s Apostle has left the world and now you, people, are bringing out those treasures (i.e. the Prophet did not benefit by them).
Bukhari(Book #52, Hadith #153)
Narrated ‘Umar: The properties of bani An-nadir which Allah had transferred to His Apostle as Fai Booty were not gained by the Muslims with their horses and camels. The properties therefore, belonged especially to Allah’s Apostle who used to give his family their yearly expenditure and spend what remained thereof on arms and horses to be used in Allah’s Cause.