Saturday, October 16, 2010

Prelude To The Great War in Islam.

Article first published as Prelude to the Great War in Islam on Blogcritics.

Previously we spoke about the Jews of Medina and how they fraternized with the Muslims, even to the extent of following some of their doctrines, in the hope of winning Muhammed (pbuh) over to their side— to help them against the Christians whom they hated for having expelled them from Palestine.

We spoke about how these Jews enjoyed countless privileges alongside the Muslims, especially the fulfillment of huge trade benefits that Muhammed's (pbuh) emergence on the political scene effected.

We looked at how many of the Jews accepted Islam and what turmoil this caused amongst the 'Jewish Council'— mainly because some of their respected clergy were abjuring the exclusivity of their own Faith.

We then saw what happened to Abdullah ibn Salam, a respected Rabbi, who had converted to Islam, and who had approached the Prophet (pbuh) for help.

We found that he was jeered at, mocked incessantly, and even physically abused by those who had previously held him in great esteem, when they learnt about his conversion to Islam— and, as the Council had decreed, blasphemed against Judaism.

This in itself may or may not have caused the Jews' mistrust of Muhammed (pbuh), as well as their disillusionment with Islam. But their ambitions of winning him over to their side to bolster their aspirations against the Christians was taking a serious knock and they gradually began to deny any legitimate claims he laid to prophet-hood.

So much so that we now saw many of the followers of Judaism consorting with the enemies of Islam—the tribesmen of Qureish in Medina; the Aws and Al Khazraj (those who were not Muslim); the Jews of Khaybar and many other tribes who could not wait to see the back of Muhammed (pbuh).
The situation was becoming so serious that many of the Jews who had accepted Islam previously had to be turned out of the mosques— some violently— because of their collusion with the 'mischief-makers', and they were then classified alongside those (the 'inbetweeners') who became known as the 'Munafiqun' (Hypocrites) that Al-Quran describes.

Medinah was fast becoming a threatening powder-keg of political upheaval.

One other point of note, though, was that many of the Muhajireen (Muslims who came from Mecca) were seriously starting to rethink their situation concerning their forced migration from the 'Holy City'.

These Arabs (as has been amply recorded) had left behind most of their possessions, their properties—houses and businesses—even, in some cases, wives and children! And it was high time to do something about it.

One can then imagine Muhammed's (pbuh) dilemma in keeping vigil on different fronts, all at the same time. On the one side there were the Jews and 'Hypocrites' who were going out of their way to stir up trouble between the various Arab tribes (those who were Muslim, of course) and, on the other, there were the Muhajireen who wanted to wage war on the Qureish in Mecca.

Muhammed (pbuh), albeit, an astute leader and statesman, was not at liberty to follow his own desires. Up until now his constitution had primarily been the 'Injunctions and Guidelines of Al-Quran'. And, according to one particular verse revealed in the 'Holy Book', Muhammed (pbuh) is actually cautioned against 'the act of aggression...'

However, on further consideration, The Quran also states that even though God does not love 'aggression, and, neither the Aggressor', to keep men away from the Commands of God, to deny Allah and to violate the sanctity of the 'Holy Mosque' by turning its people away from its precincts, is an even greater sin than fighting, even if it be during the 'Holy Months' of Islam.

We then found that Muhammed (pbuh) and his followers adopted a new line of thinking when confronted by those intent on destroying Islam. No more was there the 'turning of the other cheek'— and no more were there the compromises that were being struck in order to keep the peace. Muslims were now engaging the 'mischief-makers' head-on!

We find that coupled with the forceful removal of 'mischief-makers' from the mosques, Muhammed (pbuh) instructed strong men like his uncle, Hamza (the lion hunter), to lead raids on Qureish's caravans which, in those days, were packed to the brim with merchandise—moving through the desert towards destinations like Al Abwa and Buwa, on the outskirts of Medina

The Prophet (pbuh) himself, together with 200 men from the Muhajireen as well as Ansars, also led raids deep into enemy territory— and although they never engaged the enemy physically (at that time) this mere show of force drastically changed the perception the Qureish had of the Muslims.

Qureishi caravans travelling in near proximity to Medina were considerably beefed up with more camels and escorts. Seasoned warriors, armed to the hilt, kept careful watch over their precious cargo as it braved, not only the dangers of attackers, but the elements as well. Sandstorms and the murderous desert sun were known to decimate many an unsuspecting caravan.

All in all, Muhammed (pbuh) only sought to claim what was rightly theirs (the Muhajireen) as fair retribution for the belongings and properties they left behind in Mecca, or strike an agreement with Qureish to allow the Muslims (those who had families in the 'Holy City') free access into Mecca and to reclaim whatever belonged to them.

Qureish, on hearing this, did not only refuse outright, but spread malicious rumors about Muhammed's (pbuh) violation of the sanctity of the 'Holy Months' that all Meccans had to abide by, as well as his manifest evil in attacking their bread and butter.

And, as fate would have it, Abu Sufyan, the leader of Qureish at that time, was bringing a caravan through the desert that boasted an almighty amount of 2000 camels! The estimated value of merchandise it carried was 50,000 dinars! (1 dinar = 1 gold coin.)

So one can imagine, in today's terms, how much money that is!
Muhammed (pbuh) then gathered all his followers in Medina and prepared to attack the caravan while it was still near to the city. He knew that he would never get such an opportunity to strike at Qureish, where it would hurt them severely. He knew that the time was right for the first real confrontation of Islam!

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Jews of Medina|Islam The Straight Path|Islam Teachings|Quran Guidance

Article first published as The Jews of Medina on Blogcritics.

Thus far we have looked at the political turnaround Muhammed (pbuh) brought about in Medina, and we also looked at the mixed reactions the various communities displayed towards these changes.

We spoke about the Aws and Al-Khazraj- two tribes who aspired to the highest office of that city, and who were obviously not impressed by Muhammed (pbuh) deploying his new brand of politics amongst all the peoples of Medina – and not only the Muslims!

We spoke about the 'Unbelievers' from amongst these two tribes, those who had ceaselessly plotted to oust Muhammed (pbuh) from their City and whose primary function it was to create dissension amongst the 'Believers' - especially the Ansar (local Arabs from Medina) and the Muhajireen (immigrant Arabs from Mecca).

We spoke about the 'inbetweeners'- those who had reverted to Islam, but were not really Muslim; those who had backstabbed the Prophet (pbuh) at every turn, even going as far as building their own mosque.

We discussed the Jews, who, on the other hand, afforded the Prophet (pbuh) a genuine warm welcome - fraternizing with the Muslims, even following them in certain of their doctrines, believing and hoping that Muhammed (pbuh) had come to help them against the Christians whom they hated for having expelled them from Palestine.

But as we have said before, Muhammed (pbuh) knew that the peace that existed between the various tribes (of Arabs), as well as some of the other denominations (Muslims and non-Muslims), could not be left to chance and he instituted the 'Covenant of Medina'.

We discussed how this 'Accord' instructed them in ways contrary to what they believed and practiced - in their personal lives - and how it bonded Arab and non-Arab into a brotherhood that had never been thought possible at that time.

The Jews, as we have said previously, looked at Muhammed (pbuh) with great expectations. They enjoyed having the Prophet (pbuh) in their midst, engaging in healthy debates with their Rabbis, and even fasting with them during their 'Holy Days'.

These Jews, or most of them, apart from following the Muslims, enjoyed countless privileges under Muhammed (pbuh), who, in the meantime, was becoming increasingly powerful due to the unprecedented conversion of large numbers of people to the religion of Islam.

We find that the Prophet's (pbuh) unique brand of politics was bringing untold trade prospects to the city of Medina - and one can thus imagine what this must have done for the Jews, who, in turn, offered the least resistance to Muhammed's (pbuh) ministries and his universal 'Call to Islam'.

Perhaps this euphoria or state of perceived security (if you like) that the Jews enjoyed might have continued had some of their own hierarchy not abjured the exclusivity of their own faith.

We find that suddenly and unexpectedly huge numbers of Jewish scholars and 'holy men' entered into the fold of Islam; Priests and Rabbis seriously began to look at what Muhammed (pbuh) was offering - besides prosperity - and wondered if they were doing the right thing in allowing the Prophet (pbuh) so much freedom in making so many inroads into their lives. Even some Rabbis were starting to look favorably towards the 'Religion'.

One such Rabbi, Abdullah ibn Salam, approached the Prophet (pbuh) and announced that he and his family had embraced Islam. His entire household! he said.

He then proceeded to proclaim the 'Oneness of Allah' and the articles of faith that are customary to the 'Acceptance of the Religion', and the Prophet (pbuh) welcomed him and his whole family into the religion of Islam.

Abdullah ibn Salam then said, 'O, Messenger of Allah, I fear for the well-being of my family and myself, should the others find out about our conversion.' He stared hesitantly at the Prophet (pbuh) who looked at him reassuringly.

'What is it you would like me to do?' the Prophet (pbuh) enquired.

'I would like you to ask them what would they do if I, Abdullah ibn Salam, were to accept Islam.' And he looked down at his feet, feeling awkward and not knowing what to say further.

The Prophet (pbuh) then placed his hand on Abdullah's shoulder and said. 'O, Abdullah...It is only Allah who gives guidance, and if He has so willed that you shall become a Muslim then have no fear. Allah will protect you!'

But when Muhammed (pbuh) approached the 'Jewish Council' as Abdullah ibn Salam had requested, he was told in no uncertain terms: 'Abdullah ibn Salam is our master and the son of our Master. He is a learned scholar and Rabbi, and he shall never denounce his faith!'

Thus when Abdullah ibn Salam went back to his people and told them about his conversion, they attacked him and spread all sorts of malicious gossip about him and his family to all and sundry in the Jewish quarters of Medina.

This incident also triggered the Jews' mistrust of Muhammed (pbuh) and their denial of him as a prophet. It also opened the path to all those enemies of Islam to form a bond with the Jews and systematically begin to undermine Islam.

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