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Muhammad and the Jews

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« on: May 12, 2007, 05:23:42 am »

Muhammad and the Jews. There are many written accounts of Muhammad having had contact with many Jews from tribes living in and around Medina. Muhammad had fought many battles with Jewish tribes such as the Banu Nadir and took concubines from them, including Safiyya bint Huyayy who became his wife and Rayhana bint Zayd who is said to have poisoned him.
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« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2007, 05:27:09 am »

Muhammad and the Jewish tribes of Medina

In the course of Muhammad's proselytizing in Mecca, he viewed Christians and Jews (whom he referred to as "People of the Book") as natural allies, sharing the core principles of his teachings, and anticipated their acceptance and support. Muslims, like Jews, were at that time praying towards Jerusalem.[1] Muhammad was very excited to move to Medina, where the Jewish community there had long worshiped the one God.[2]

Many Medinans converted to the faith of the Meccan immigrants, but the Jewish tribes did not. Much to Muhammad's disappointment, they rejected his status as a prophet.[1]
Their opposition "may well have been for political as well as religious reasons". [3] According to Watt, "Jews would normally be unwilling to admit that a non-Jew could be a prophet."[4] Mark Cohen adds that Muhammad was appearing "centuries after the cessation of biblical prophecy" and "couched his message in a verbiage foreign to Judaism both in its format and rhetoric." [5] As Muhammad taught that his message was identical to those of previous prophets (such as Abraham, Moses and Jesus), the Jews were furthermore in the position to make some Muslims doubt about his prophethood; the Jews, according to Watt, could argue that "some passages in the Qur'an contradicted their ancient scriptures". [4] Watt states that many of the Jews had close links with Abd-Allah ibn Ubayy[4] , "the potential prince of Medina" who "is said that but for the arrival of Muhammad, had not become" [6] the chief arbitrator of the community. The Jews may have hoped for greater influence if Ubayy had become a ruler. [4] [4] Watt writes that the Islamic response to these criticisms was: [4]

The Qur'an, met these intellectual criticisms by developing the conception of the religion of Abraham. While the knowledge of Abraham came from the Old Testament and material based on that, Abraham could be regarded as the ancestor of the Arabs through Ishmael. It was also an undeniable fact that he was not a Jew or Christian, since the Jews are either to be taken as the followers of Moses or as the descendants of Abraham's grandson, Jacob. At the same time Abraham had stood for the worship of God alone. The Qur'an therefore claimed that it was restoring the pure monotheism of Abraham which had been corrupted in various, clearly specified, ways by Jews and Christians.

Watt states that the charge of altering the scripture may mean no more than giving false interpretations to some passages, though in later Islam it was taken to mean that parts of the Bible are corrupt. Muslims were also arguing that there was nothing surprising in Muhammad's rejection by Jews, as that had had occurred to other prophets mentioned in Jewish scripture. Watt claims that the Quran "also went on to criticize Jewish exaggerations of their claim to be the chosen people"[7] and argued against the supposed claim of the Jews of Medina "that they alone had a true knowledge of God" (Watt, Muslim-Christian Encounters, p.14). The Qur'an also criticized the Jews for believing that Ezra is the Son of God, a claim unattested either in Jewish or other extra-Qur'anic sources. (Kate Zebiri, Encyclopedia of the Qur'an, The Qur'an and Polemics) David Waines opines that the Qur'an is mirroring contemporary popular beliefs many of which probably bordered on heresy. (David Waines, An Introduction to Islam, p.27) Michael Cook considers the charge of considering Ezra as the Son of God to be petty or obscure. (Michael Cook, Muhammad, p.34)

In the Constitution of Medina, Muhammad demanded the Jews' political loyalty in return for religious and cultural autonomy.[1] However, after each major battle with the Medinans, Muhammad accused one of the Jewish tribes of treachery (See 2:100). After Badr and Uhud, the Banu Qainuqa and Banu Nadir, respectively, were expelled "with their families and possessions" from Medina. After the Battle of the Trench in 627, the Jews of Banu Qurayza were accused of conspiring with the Meccans; Qurayza men were beheaded, women and children enslaved, and their properties confiscated.[8] Watt writes that some of the Arab tribe of Aws wanted to honour their old alliance with Qurayza, are said to asked Muhammad to forgive the Qurayza for their sake as Muhammad had previously forgiven the Nadir for the sake of Abd-Allah ibn Ubayy. Muhammad met this feeling by suggesting that the fate of Qurayza should be decided by one of their Muslim allies and thereby avoiding any likelihood of blood-feud. A suggestion to which the Jews agreed. Muhammad appointed Sa'd ibn Mua'dh, a leading man among Aws, who passed execution sentence against Qurayza. Watt states that there is no need to suppose that Muhammad brought pressure on Sa'd ibn Mua'dh: Those of the Aws who wanted leniency for Qurayza seems to have been regarded Qurayza unfaithful only to Muhammad and not to Aws; the old Arab tradition required support of an ally, independent of the ally's conduct to other people. But Sa'd didn't want to allow tribal allegiance to come before the Islamic allegiance. [9]

The Banu Qurayza incident has generated much controversy in the centuries since, and is therefore worth examining more closely here. Watt writes that "during the siege of Medina, Muhammad became anxious about their conduct and sent some of the leading Muslims to talk to them [the Jewish tribes]; the result was disquieting.[10] Though Qurayza does not appear to have committed any overt hostile act[10] and been overtly correct in their behaviour[11], they had almost certainly[11][probably [10]] been involved in negotiations with the enemy [10] and would have attacked Muhammad in the rear had there been an opportunity. [12]" Marco Scholler believes the Banu Qurayza were "openly, probably actively," supporting Meccans and their allies.[13] Nasr writes that it was discovered that Qurayzah had been complicit with the enemy during the Battle. [14] Finally, Welch states that Muslims "discovered, or perhaps became suspected" that the Jews were conspiring with the enemy.[15]" A minority of academic scholars reject the incident holding that Ibn Ishaq, the first biographer of Muhammad, supposedly gathered many details of the incident from descendants of the Qurayza Jews themselves. These descendants allegedly embellished or manufactured details of the incident by borrowing from histories of Jewish persecutions during Roman times.[16] Watt, however, finds this argument "not entirely convincing."


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« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2007, 05:29:23 am »

February 25, 2006
Muhammad and Massacre of the Qurayza Jews
By James Arlandson


In AD 627, Muhammad committed an atrocity against the last remaining major tribe of Jews in Medina: the Qurayza. He beheaded the men and the pubescent boys and enslaved the women and children. In doing this, he wiped an entire tribe 'off the map' to use the recent language of the President of Iran.

To understand how and why this atrocity unfolded, some straightforward history of early Islam is helpful.

Background

The immediate background of this mass extermination and enslavement is the Battle of the Trench (or Ditch), in February—March—April (the exact calculations vary), AD 627. This battle—though it ended up being a siege—pitted the Quraysh (a large tribe in and around Mecca) against the Muslims and Medinan non—Muslims.

The Quraysh had allies: the Ghatafan (northern Arab tribes to the east of Medina and Mecca) and an assortment of smaller tribes. As for the Muslims, prominent Islamologist W. M. Watt says that on the eve of battle, Muhammad's army consisted of

'practically all the inhabitants of Medina with the exception of the Jewish tribe of Qurayzah, who seem to have tried to remain neutral. There were some Medinans in league with the Meccans, but they were presumably . . . exiled from Medina for the time being' (Muhammad at Medina, p. 36).

As for the size of the two armies, the standard figure for the Meccans and their allies is 10,000, but one Muslim scholar says that the coalition of pagans may have reached 12,000 (Maududi vol. 3, p. 63). However, Watt says of the coalition:

'The numbers given for the various contingents [the coalition was divided into three corps], however, do not add up to more than about 7,500. The Meccans themselves had about 300 horses and the nomadic tribes a similar number' (Statesman, pp. 166—67)

On the Muslim side, the standard figure that is widely accepted is 3,000. They had no cavalry to speak of.

The larger background of this atrocity against the Jews reveals that Muhammad had already expelled two tribes of Jews: the Qaynuqa in AD 624 and the Nadir in AD 625. (The reasons are reviewed here.) The upshot of all of this is clear. The conflict between Muslims and Jews is escalating, and the Prophet is about to impose the ultimate penalty on the last remaining major tribe of Jews in Medina. [1]

What started the Battle of the Trench?

Many causes feed into any conflict, but one stands out. Muslim raiders harassed Meccan trade. Modern Saudi biographer Safi—ur—Rahman al—Mubarakpuri expresses the right idea: . . .

't was wise for the Muslims to bring the commercial routes leading to Makkah [Mecca] under their control' (p. 201).

Then he lists eight raids between 623 and the Battle of Badr in AD 624. In each one, Muslims were the aggressors, to accomplish the big objective of strangling Mecca's trade. These raids that sometimes involved hundreds of men continued steadily from that time to the Battle of the Trench, when the Meccans had had enough. So they wanted to finish off Islam, once and for all.

From Muhammad's point of view, he wanted the Kabah shrine in Mecca, and if this goal involved hindering Meccan trade, then so be it. Two early Medinan suras or chapters (2 and Cool reveal his outlook.

Sura 2:189—196 and 216—218 command Muslims to fight the Quraysh because this tribe wanted to control their own shrine, even if this entailed prohibiting the Muslims (who were hampering the large tribe's trade in the first place) from visiting it.

Sura 2:125—129 asserts without a shred of evidence that Abraham built and purified the shrine, and now Muhammad the monotheist is the best representative of this patriarch. He claimed this while he lived in Mecca, too (Sura 14:35—41). So in effect the shrine belonged to him by revelation, before it actually did by conquest (in early AD 630).

Finally, in Sura 8:30—40, the Prophet recounts his persecution back in Mecca and why the Quraysh are not the rightful guardians of the shrine. They barred people from it—never mind that about eight years later the Prophet will bar pagans from the shrine. All Arab polytheists will be forced to convert or die.

It is impossible (for me at least) to escape the impression that if Muhammad had put aside this desire to control the Kabah, then much of the conflict between him and the Quraysh would never have erupted in the first place. But the shrine was a popular place of religious pilgrimage, so how could he allow religious freedom for polytheists?

Were the Jews involved in the start of the Battle of the Trench? The Islamic sources say that they indeed stirred up the Meccans against the Muslims.

Early biographer Ibn Ishaq says:

A number of Jews who had formed a party against the apostle, among whom were Sallam b. Abu'l—Huqayq al—Nadir [he had been assassinated so the chronology or his placement here is off], and Huyayy b. Aktab al—Nadri, and Kinana b. Abu'l—Huaqayq al—Nadri, and Hauda b. Qays al—Wa'ili, and Abu Ammar al—Wa'ili with a number of B. [Bani or tribe or clan] Nadir and B. Wa'il, went to the Quraysh at Mecca and invited them to join them in an attack on the apostle so that they might get rid of him altogether. (p. 450).

How much did the Jews instigate the battle, and how much were the Meccans fed up with Muslim harassment on their own without Jewish provocation?  This is unclear. But let us assume only for the sake of argument that the Islamic sources are right. These specific Jews were the principal instigators. In the end, this does not matter, for the following reason.

It is important to cite these (complex) names, above, because today's Muslim polemicists who defend Muhammad's extermination and enslavement of the Qurayza Jews overlook the fact that early Islam knew specifically who the enemy Jewish leaders were—by name.

So did all the men and adolescent boys have to be executed and all the women and children enslaved? Couldn't only the leaders have been executed? [2]

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« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2007, 05:30:58 am »

The Battle of the Trench

The strategy of digging trenches was new to Arabia, and the early Islamic sources make much of it. The Muslims dug a trench to the north of Medina, linking them to places near or on high ground (e.g. Mt. Sal, a hill in the central area of Medina) and other difficult spots (e.g. a marshy ground), in order to neutralize the Meccan cavalry and to avoid hand—to—hand pitched battles.  The Muslim army bivouacked south of the trench with Medina at their backs, while the coalition camped north of the trench, facing Medina, with Mt. Uhud at their backs. The Jews retreated south of Medina, facing the back of the Muslim army.

Though the Muslims were under siege, which pressed them hard, the trenches worked well. The coalition's cavalry was stymied, except a foray that came to nothing. The Meccans tried to assault the trench, but they were easily repulsed. The Muslim sources say that Ali, Muhammad's cousin and son—in—law, fought in a duel, which he won. Some arrows were shot, but that achieved nothing.

Therefore, this must be emphasized: No real battles or warfare occurred, and this favored the outnumbered Muslims. Early biographer Ibn Ishaq says—and modern historians are in complete agreement—that

'[t]he siege continued without any actual fighting' (p. 454).

Early historian Tabari agrees:

'The Messenger of God and the polytheists stayed in their positions for over twenty nights—nearly a month—with no warfare between the troops, except for the shooting of arrows and the siege' (vol. 8, p. 17).

Again, modern western scholars agree on this point.

Even the Quran confirms the absence of a pitched battle:

'Allah turned back the unbelievers [Meccans and their allies] in a state of rage, having not won any good, and Allah spared the believers battle' (Sura 33:25; see the section 'the Quran' for more analysis, below)

It is important to realize this fact because Muslim polemicists assert or imply that the Jews actually fought the Muslims, so if the Jews were exterminated and enslaved, then it was their fault.

But no full—scale battles ever took place, and the early sources say that the Jews remained in their houses and fortresses near Medina—that is, the sources do not depict them forcefully sallying out and attacking Muslims from behind.

Finally, the early sources say that a storm battered the coalition, and the Quran confirms this, implying also that supernatural forces joined in the fight:

'You who believe, remember God's goodness to you when mighty armies massed against you: We sent a violent wind and invisible forces against them. God sees all that you do' (Sura 33:9; Haleem, The Qur'an, Oxford UP, 2004).

In short, the coalition that had amassed against the Muslims in Medina was losing heart.

The bottom line on this siege: the Meccans and their allies had to withdraw because their siege did not work.

Besides Ibn Ishaq and Tabari, see the reliable hadith collector and editor Bukhari here  and here. The hadith is the traditions about Muhammad outside of the Quran.

The aftermath for the Qurayza Jews

After the withdrawal of the coalition, the Jews were isolated, whereas Muhammad had 3,000 jihadists, signaling disaster for the Jews. The tragic drama unfolds in five stages.

(1) The Angel Gabirel

Traditions state that as the Prophet was taking a bath, (non—Biblical) Gabriel the angel appeared to him.

Gabriel tells him the battle is not finished. Muhammad is ordered to fight the Qurayza Jews.

When Allah's Apostle returned on the day (of the battle) of Al—Khandaq (i.e. Trench), he put down his arms and took a bath. Then Gabriel, whose head was covered with dust, came to him saying,

'You have put down your arms! By Allah, I have not put down my arms yet.'

Allah's Apostle said,

'Where (to go now)?'

Gabriel said,

'This way,' pointing towards the tribe of Bani [tribe] Quraiza. So Allah's Apostle went out towards them. (Bukhari; see a parallel hadith here. )

This next hadith shows a regiment of Gabriel (Muslim warriors) marching towards the fortresses of the Jews.

Narrated Anas:

As if I am just now looking at the dust rising in the street of Banu Ghanm (in Medina) because of the marching of Gabriel's regiment when Allah's Apostle set out to Banu Quraiza (to attack them).  (Bukhari; see this parallel hadith: Muslim no. 4370
and see also no. 4371)

These traditions about Gabriel's leadership are designed to give divine support for the atrocity that is about to be unleashed. Today, we may see this as fanciful, but to millions of Muslims this is real. Be that as it may, one thing is clear. Muhammad had taken off his armor and was enjoying a bath, so he did not feel immediately threatened by these Jews. They had not lined up in battle array to wage war.

But even if Muhammad had felt threatened, why not expel the Jews? Soon Islam will be so powerful that it will expel all Jews (and Christians) from the Arabian Peninsula (see also the hadiths here  and here).

Muhammad in fact already had expelled two tribes of Jews a few years earlier. He conquered the mainly Jewish city of Khaybar in AD 628. Some assert that if Muhammad had simply expelled the Jews, they would constitute a later substantial and serious threat. But he had already done so with no threat ever developing. He was on the rise militarily.

(2) The poet warrior

It is odd that during Muhammad's twenty—five—day siege of the Jews, he employed a poet to abuse them.

The Prophet said to Hassan, 'Abuse them (with your poems), and Gabriel is with you (i.e. supports you).' (Through another group of sub—narrators) Al—Bara bin Azib said, 'On the day of Quraiza's (besiege), Allah's Apostle said to Hassan bin Thabit, 'Abuse them (with your poems), and Gabriel is with you (i.e. supports you).'' (Bukhari)

This demonstrates the high value poetry held was in seventh—century Arabia. Call it the psychological warfare of its day. A smear campaign.

Muhammad believed poetry so powerful that he assassinated poets who mocked him. But now that he has the power, he gets to employ a satirical poet without fear of reprisal. In fact, he refers to the Jews as brothers of monkeys, citing a legend that he believed, namely, that God turned some disobedient Jews into apes.  (Ibn Ishaq pp. 461—62).

(3) No strong Jewish resistance.

How could they resist, when Muhammad had just withstood such a large coalition and still had at his command 3,000 jihadists?

Something strange happened while the Jews were negotiating the terms of surrender. They called for a man named Abu Lubaba, a nominal or half—committed Muslim who may have opposed Muhammad on several occasions.

They asked him, 'Abu Lubaba, do you think we should submit to Muhammad's judgment?' He said yes, but then he gestured with his hand to his throat to indicate slaughter.

Immediately afterwards, he felt that he had betrayed Muhammad. But why? Scholars are not sure.

Maybe Abu Lubaba believed that he had signaled imminent death to the Jews, although Muhammad wanted to keep this brutality a secret. The Jews would have resisted submission on these gruesome terms. Watt speculates that the Muslim go—between may have been standing firm in his own clan's alliance with the Jews and gave away too much information.

Regardless of the scholarly debate, his gesture at his throat is not in dispute.At issue is why he felt that he betrayed Muhammad.

This means that the outcome was not in doubt. The hand to the throat unmistakably indicated the Jews would die.

Source: Ibn Ishaq p. 462; Watt, Muhammad at Medina, pp. 188—89; 214—17

(4) Muhammad proposed that the Jews submit to the judgment of Sad bin Muadh.

He was the leader of a large Medinan tribe, the Aws (or Aus), some of whom favored old alliances with the Jews. The leader was an elderly man who was wounded during the siege. His verdict was short and simple—but bloody and cruel.

When the tribe of . . . Quraiza was ready to accept Sad's judgment, Allah's Apostle sent for Sad who was near to him. Sad came, riding a donkey and when he came near, Allah's Apostle said (to the Ansar) [or Helpers], 'Stand up for your leader.' Then Sad came and sat beside Allah's Apostle who said to him. 'These people are ready to accept your judgment.' Sad said, 'I give the judgment that their warriors should be killed and their children and women should be taken as prisoners.' The Prophet then remarked, 'O Sad! You have judged amongst them with (or similar to) the judgment of the King Allah.' (Bukhari; see parallel hadiths here, here, and here)

It should be noted from this passage that Sad bin Muadh sat next to Muhammad. Was there undue influence from Muhammad on the wounded old man who was about to die and meet Allah? Muhammad had often preached hell fire in the mosque. That is, Sad knew that he was dying, so possibly he wanted to demonstrate his allegiance to the Prophet and Islam. The best way, as the circumstances presented themselves, was to decide on death and enslavement, the ultimate penalty signaling the ultimate commitment. Sad made the Prophet glad. Shortly after this verdict the elder in fact died from his wound. Sources: Ibn Ishaq pp. 463—64; Tabari vol. 8, p. 34.

(5) The sentence: Death by decapitation for around 300—600 men and pubescent boys, and enslavement for the women and children. Ibn Ishaq says that the number may have been as high as 800—900 (p. 464).

Muhammad was wise enough to have six clans execute two Jews each in order to stop any blood—feuds. The rest of the executions were probably carried out by Muhammad's fellow Emigrants from Mecca, as the heads and bodies were dragged into trenches in the business district of Medina. Source: Watt, Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman, p. 174

How did the executioners decide on which boy to slaughter or leave alive? This hadith gives the obvious answer. Narrated Atiyyah al—Qurazi:

I was among the captives of Banu [tribe] Qurayzah. They (the Companions) examined us, and those who had begun to grow hair (pubes) were killed, and those who had not were not killed. I was among those who had not grown hair. (Bukhari; see Ibn Ishaq p. 466)

This next hadith indicates that a woman was delirious. She was killed. Narrated Aisha . . .

No woman of Banu [tribe] Qurayzah was killed except one. She was with me, talking and laughing on her back and belly (extremely), while the Apostle of Allah . . . was killing her people with the swords. Suddenly a man called her name: Where is so—and—so?....  I asked: What is the matter with you? She said: I did a new act. [Aisha] said: The man took her and beheaded her. [Aisha] said: I will not forget that she was laughing extremely although she knew that she would be killed. (Bukhari)

The following narrative says that Muhammad took one woman for himself.

The apostle had chosen one of their women for himself, Rayhana bint Amr . . . one of the women of . . . Qurayza, and she remained with him until she died, in his power. The apostle had proposed to marry and put a veil on her, but she said: "Nay, leave me in your power, for that will be easier for me and for you." So he left her. She had shown repugnance towards Islam when she was captured and clung to Judaism. (Ibn Ishaq p. 466)

Shortly afterwards, though, she converted to Islam and a messenger informed Muhammad of this, and he reacted to the good news: "This gave him pleasure." It is wrong to believe that this woman was Muhammad's motive to execute so many Jews, but she did provide an unforeseen, extra benefit.

This hadith gives a hint on how the wealth was distributed.

People used to give some of their date palms to the Prophet (as a gift), till he conquered Bani [tribe] Quraiza and Bani An—Nadir, whereupon he started returning their favors. (Bukhari; see a parallel hadith here)

More specifically, Ibn Ishaq says the spoils were divided among the Muslims thus:

Then the apostle divided the property, wives, and children . . . among the Muslims, and he made known on that day the shares of horse and men, and took out the fifth. A horseman got three shares, two for the horse and one for the rider. A man without a horse got one share (p. 466).

A jihadist horseman was generally wealthier than a horseless jihadist, so this rewarded those with wealth in 'egalitarian' Islam. Also, Muhammad was unable to collect any spoils from the departed Meccans and their allies, so how was he supposed to reward his jihadists? The wealth of the Jews. Apart from the details of how the Prophet distributed the spoils here, the division of twenty percent for him and eighty percent for his warriors conforms to a 'revelation' just after the Battle of Badr in AD 624. In Sura (Chapter) 8:1 and 41, which deals with this battle, Allah grants him and his fighters these percentages.

Allah also allows jihadists to have sex with female slaves.  Do we need to discuss this topic any further in the context of these Jewish women and girls? Sources: Ibn Ishaq, pp. 464—66; Tabari, vol. 8, pp. 27—41.

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« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2007, 05:32:14 am »

The steps to the massacre

Since all the names and politics can be confusing, here is a quick summary of the facts found in the previous section.

1. After the Meccans and their allies depart, the Jews are left powerless and outnumbered, facing 3,000 Muslim jihadists.

2. While the Jews were negotiating the terms of surrender with Abu Lubaba, he gestures to his throat, which indicates slaughter. This means that the flow of the events headed in one direction.

3. Sad bin Muadh is the leader of the Aws tribe.

4. This tribe had old alliances, whatever they were, with the Qurayzah tribe of Jews.

5. However, the Aws fought alongside Muhammad.

6. The Jews sided with the coalition (though the Jews did not actually fight).
7. Thus, the old alliances between the Aws and Jews are weakening.

8. After Muhammad's attack on the Jews, some of the Aws plead with Muhammad to be lenient, such as expulsion.

9. Muhammad turns down this request for mercy—a key point, which supports no. 2. The outcome is never in doubt.

10. Instead, Muhammad appoints Sad bin Muadh to decide, and everyone agrees to abide by his decision.

11. Sad decrees slaughter and enslavement, wanting to firm up his allegiance to Islam before he dies. He dies shortly thereafter from his wound.

12. Muhammad says that Sad's verdict is the judgment of 'King Allah.' It is right and just. Sad makes him glad.

13. Even though everyone agrees to abide by the verdict, Muhammad still does not show mercy, as the men and boys are handcuffed behind their backs and beheaded, and the women and children are enslaved. Instead, he takes one of the beautiful, recently 'widowed' Jewish women for himself.

14. Muhammad gets twenty percent of the Jewish property (movable, immovable and human), and the jihadists get eighty percent, to be distributed as he sees fit.

In any steps leading up to an atrocity, something wrong is bound to be revealed, and this appears to be no. 9. As noted, Muhammad could have exiled the Jews, as he had done to the Jewish tribes of Qaynuqa and Nadir a few years earlier. Or he could have executed only the leaders, if he believed that they stirred up his enemies—assuming that they really did this, as the Islamic sources allege.

Something is also wrong with step no. 13. Even though everyone agreed to abide by the verdict, who could have complained—justly complained—if Muhammad had announced the following?

'We agreed to abide by the tribal chief's verdict, but as I watch the men and boys being handcuffed and observe all the tears from the women and children, I'm sure no one would object if we showed mercy and exiled them and executed only the few trouble—makers. After all, I often say that Allah is most merciful. I set the example for my community and the world!' But this is wishful thinking. He took one of the beauties (now a widow) for himself, instead of taking the path of mercy.

Why does he not show mercy? The answer is found in no. 14. Muhammad needs to reward his jihadists, since they collected no spoils from the departed coalition—Allah gives him permission to do this in Sura 33:27 (see the next section, 'the Quran'). And what makes this entire episode doubly heinous is that Muhammad and his jihadists could have had all of the wealth of the Jews after he banished them, but he still did not take this merciful option.

The Quran

Allah seems to celebrate this slaughter and enslavement in Sura 33:25—27:

25 Allah turned back the unbelievers [Meccans and their allies] in a state of rage, having not won any good, and Allah spared the believers battle [q—t—l]. Allah is, indeed, Strong and Mighty. 26 And He brought those of the People of the Book [Qurayza] who supported them from their fortresses and cast terror into their hearts, some of them you slew [q—t—l] and some you took captive. 27 And he bequeathed to you their lands, their homes and their possessions, together with land you have never trodden. Allah has power over everything. (Majid Fakhry, An Interpretation of the Qur'an, NYUP, 2004; insertions are mine)

These verses reveal three unpleasant truths.

First, Allah helps the Muslims in warfare or battle (three—letter Arabic root is q—t—l in v. 25) against a much—larger foe, so Allah endorses Islam in battle. Also, verse 25 confirms that Muhammad had nothing substantial to fear from the Jews. 'Allah turned back the unbelievers . . . and Allah spared the believers battle.' In down—to—earth terms, Muhammad still had at his disposal a large, weather—beaten army. The Prophet had expelled two other tribes (Qaynuqa and Nadir), so he could have done the same to the Qurayza—as indeed they requested. But the Prophet for humanity declined this merciful and humane option.

Second, Allah permits the enslavement and beheading of Jews, so any Muslim familiar with the background of this verse knows that beheading as such has been assimilated into the Quran. The word q—t—l in verse 26 means slaughter. What is so troubling about the verse is that it seems to celebrate the 'terror' that Allah threw into the Jews' hearts. Indeed, when Abu Lubaba the mediator approached the Jews during negotiations, the women and children were crying. Allah gladly terrorized them.

Finally, Allah permits Muhammad to take the Jewish clan's property on the basis of conquest and his possession of all things. This is a dubious revelation and reasoning. Allah speaks, and this benefits Muhammad materially. This happens often in Muhammad's life.

If anyone is looking for a down—to—earth reason for Muhammad's attack on the Qurayza Jews (instead of 'Gabriel's leadership'), then he does not need to look any further than verse 27. The Prophet confiscated wealth. After all, the Meccans and their allies withdrew without allowing Muslims to take their wealth. So how was Muhammad going to reward his jihadists?

For more translations of these verses, the readers may go to three sites: this one  has multiple translations; this one  has three; and this translation is subsidized by the Saudi royal family.

Conclusion

Muslim polemical and outreach websites  often assert  that Islam promotes  human rights.  It is impossible to see how they can say this honestly and at the same time appeal to the origins of their religion.

This whitewash is deceitful at best and dangerous at worst, if or when Islam gets a foothold in a region on the pretence of 'peace and love.' Maybe sleepy Westerners and others will accept this benign version of Islam—in fact too many do, right now. But what happens later when hard—line Muslims (not to mention nonviolent and violent fanatics) cite the numerous brutal verses in the Quran and passages in the hadith to inflict barbarity on people, especially on Jews?

The evidence in this article alone demonstrates that violence is embedded in original Islam. Even a reliable hadith  shows Allah reprimanding Muhammad for another of his cruelties (see this article). Sadly, though, Allah did not reprimand his favorite prophet for this clear atrocity against the Jews, but celebrates it (Sura 33:25—27).

It is time for Muslim leaders to renounce violence clearly and specifically, not vaguely: 'Yes, we denounce all forms of violence' They must go deeper than this. They must stop denying the dark past, found in the Quran itself and in the example of their Prophet. They must, instead, be clear. 'We denounce these specific verses and passages in the Quran and hadith that are violent. These specific acts and words happened in the seventh century (and later centuries), and we have moved beyond all of them. We now want peace.'

A peaceful presentation of Islam is not full disclosure. It is time to be honest. Only then can interfaith dialogue even begin.

James M. Arlandson can be reached at jamesmarlandson@hotmail.com.

Endnotes:

[1] Sources: Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman, Oxford UP, 1961, pp. 166—67; Muhammad at Medina, Oxfored UP, 1956; Sayyid Abul A'La Maududi, The Meaning of the Quran, vol. 3; Ibn Ishaq, Life of Muhammad, trans. A. Guillaume, Oxford UP, 1955,  pp. 363—64; 437—45. Ibn Ishaq (d. 767) valuable and reliable source by modern scholars, except for some chronology and the miraculous elements. Tabari, The Foundation of the Community, trans. M.V. McDonald and annotated by W. M. Watt (SUNYP, 1987), pp. 85—87; 156—61. Tabari (d. 923) is also considered a reliable source, except for some chronology and the miraculous elements.

[2] Sources: Ibn Ishaq; Tabari, The Victory of Islam, trans. M. Fishbein, vol. 8, (1997), pp. 6—7. Safi—ur—Rahman Mubarakpuri, The Sealed Nectar: Biography of the Noble Prophet, Darrusalam, 1996, p. 201. This biography was awarded first prize by the Muslim World League, but it is an encomium more than an objective biography. 

Supplemental Material

This article  is the longer version. It has a section that replies to Muslim defenses of this indefensible atrocity. Another section shows in more detail why the Meccan coalition had to withdraw from its siege of Medina.

See this series of articles for more information on Muhammad's atrocity against the Qurayza Jews.

http://www.americanthinker.com/2006/02/muhammad_and_massacre_of_the_q.html


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« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2007, 10:03:46 pm »

I am sorry Sarah,
but, The issue you wrote is against islamic people and this is a religion discrimination..Atlantis forum supposedly for everyone..And Not all the muslims are terorists actually smeans"Peace" Why should we interested in and despise this religion just because some crazy people makes terorism..
? I think If we all make muslim friends, this people will more frinedly to us and less animosity will be between religions..I saw very racist and anti all of the parts of christians except themselves people among evangelists, catholics and Orthodoxs too.Dont fprget Hitler was not a muslim.. And besides Now, israeli state does the same thing to the Palestinias what Hitler did to the jews.Please write a Little more objective.Not that much prejudicial.
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« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2007, 10:23:06 pm »

I am sorry Sarah,
but, The issue you wrote is against islamic people and this is a religion discrimination..Atlantis forum supposedly for everyone..And Not all the muslims are terorists actually smeans"Peace" Why should we interested in and despise this religion just because some crazy people makes terorism..
? I think If we all make muslim friends, this people will more frinedly to us and less animosity will be between religions..I saw very racist and anti all of the parts of christians except themselves people among evangelists, catholics and Orthodoxs too.Dont fprget Hitler was not a muslim.. And besides Now, israeli state does the same thing to the Palestinias what Hitler did to the jews.Please write a Little more objective.Not that much prejudicial.


Ridiculous assertion.

You write:

Quote
And besides Now, israeli state does the same thing to the Palestinias what Hitler did to the jews.Please write a Little more objective.Not that much prejudicial.

Who is being prejudicial?  You are.

Apparently, any criticsm towards the historical aspects of how the Islamic faith came into being is considered prejudicial to you.  You are so biased that you can't even see it.

Sarah
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« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2007, 07:42:23 am »

Sarah: In the beginnnig of the History everyone fouth woth everyone.If you think the crusades millions of Muslims were killed by europeans..
If you bring here everything you have to bring here what The kings of Judea did also..mohammad was founding a relgion.He fought with the everyone..But, that does not justify what israeli government doestoday.Mohammads actions were in the &th century.We are in the 21.th century.And we still kill each other.I am against any kind of war.everything should have solution on the table of the peace.war and torture is wrong..
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« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2007, 05:57:47 pm »

Julia,

And what, pray tell, do you believe the Israeli government does today that is even comparable to what Muhammed did to to the Jews? Pick an Arab government, nearly any Arab government, and compare them to Israel - you'll find that they are far worse to even their own people, with far more rules, and more severe punishments  than anything that Israel has done.  Perhaps you should spend more time on how the Arabs treat themselves than how the Israelis treat them, most measures taken out of the spirit of self-defense.

Sarah
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« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2007, 08:26:17 pm »

Ms.sarah: The Thing is Jewish state was founded on humanity and as a free country as a democracy.The arabic countries was not like that.Actually jewish people are mixed up with the Europeans and lived hunderds of years In europe they are not middle easterns anymore.They carry all of freedom and democratic ideas.Thats why it is strange In the Israeli country if those things happen.It is just like a democratic coutry of the USA does all those bad things in Abu gharib.We know USA a country of freedom and example of the democracy.Israel also..And besides what Mohammad did was in the 5 th century.We are in the 21th century right now.It must be alittle difference between 16 centuries.
and belive me I dont pick jews I have no antisemitism whatsoever.Arabs are semitic also.why shall I defend them??It is just an issue of principalities.
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« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2007, 09:40:04 pm »

Julia,

There have always been Jews in the Middle East, in Israel, many never left. And many more have been immigrating to Israel for hundreds of years, even before it became a state. 

As for why the Jews of Europe didn't simply stay there, perhaps you weren't aware that, after World War II, many countries seized Jewish property and not only refused to repatriot them, they murdered them as well. Holocaust survivors returned to Kielce, Poland, for instance, and 37 of them were murdered, 82 wounded on July 4, 1946, which, you'll note, was after World War II was ended. 

Sarah
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« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2007, 01:43:54 am »

You can pick any country or group of people on the planet, and somewhere in their past you WILL find atrocities. Be it against rivals or internal conflict, man has always done abhorrent things to man.

Israel is no exception.

The things they have done "in the spirit of self defense" are reprehensible. You cannot tell me that shooting children with the main gun of a tank, sniping an elderly woman in the head on the steps of a hospital, or surrounding a refuge camp just to watch (participate in?) its massacre has anything whatsoever with self defense. Yes these are all things that Israel has done, and is doing now. At least the Arabs have the honesty to say that they would like to see Israel nonexistent. Israel hides behind "self defence" of our "homeland", even though they would like to see the surrounding Arab countries nonexistent as well.

(Please note that I do not interchange the word Israel with the word Jew. They are two completely different things. The vast majority of the followers of the Jewish faith are good people, the country that acts in their name is guilty of many, many war crimes period.)

Having said that, all the strife is indicative of the real problem, war itself. People who are unable to just live and let live. Gandhi once said "All of mans troubles come from his inability to sit quietly in a room, by himself". I cannot agree more. We worry too much about what other people do because we are not comfortable with ourselves. Who cares what the Muslims did to the Jews, or what the Christians did to the pagans, or what the Christians did to the Muslims and the Jews, or what the Jew did to the Muslims (the list goes on and on). What we should care about is, what has anyone done to you particularly. If they have not wronged you then they should be your friend, regardless of religious affiliation, or country of origin. Far to much bad has been done in this world because people herd together in groups. My tribe versus your tribe, would not be needed if we focused more on our own personal/spiritual growth, than on what our neighbor is doing.

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« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2007, 02:43:36 pm »

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« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2007, 02:06:27 am »

Quote
Who cares what the Muslims did to the Jews, or what the Christians did to the pagans, or what the Christians did to the Muslims and the Jews, or what the Jew did to the Muslims (the list goes on and on).


You seem to care what the Jews have done to the Palestinians, and yet don't seem to care what the Palestinians have done to us.  We are not Christians, and you are not one to give us advice.

As for this:


Quote
The things they have done "in the spirit of self defense" are reprehensible. You cannot tell me that shooting children with the main gun of a tank, sniping an elderly woman in the head on the steps of a hospital, or surrounding a refuge camp just to watch (participate in?)



I give you this:




A Palestinian girl wears toy explosive belt on the bookcover of Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror by Mia Bloom.

A Palestinian girl wears toy explosive belt on the bookcover of Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror by Mia Bloom.

According to the Israel Defense Forces:

*Since the beginning of violence in the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000, 29 suicide attacks have been carried out by youth under the age of 18.
*Since May 2001, 22 shootings attacks and attacks using explosive devices were carried out by youth under the age of 18.
*Since the beginning of 2001, more than 40 youths under the age of 18 were involved in attempted suicide bombings that were thwarted (of them, three during 2004).


It is a fallacy to think that Israelis would be interested in rounding up innocent children to shoot them.  For what purpose?  In Palestine, even the children are indoctrinated to kill.  They are often suicide bombers themselves.

More often than not, it is their parents who are the only ones responsible for their deaths.

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« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2007, 03:49:04 am »

"It is a fallacy to think that Israelis would be interested in rounding up innocent children to shoot them.  For what purpose? "

You are right, Israelis do not round them up to shoot them.

http://www.themodernreligion.com/jihad/sniper.html

We can post opposing documents until our fingers bleed.

Please look at :
Not in My Name www.nimn.org
Jewish Unity for a Just Peace www.junity.org
Gush Shalom www.gush-shalom.org
Bat Shalom www.batshalom.org
B'tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories www.btselem.org

I sincerly hope that all the violence will stop. However in order for that to happen both sides need to admit that they are doing wrong.

Jake
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