If the story of Islam was told to me in a pub
2.1 Remember the Alamo
If it had not been for the Jews of Medina who intervened to shelter Muhammad who was on the run from his Meccan kin who wanted to kill him for promoting what they considered a hateful intolerant religion, Islam would have been literally dead on arrival.
When Muhammad sought refuge in the oasis city, he was welcomed by the Jews, in part, because he preached that the god of the Old Testament was the one and only god. They even entered into a covenant with him to come to his aid if the Muslim were attacked. In return, he signed a promise of non-aggression.
The three Jewish tribes of Medina did not see the rise of Islam as a threat to them until Muhammad and his followers developed an appetite for booty and started raiding the caravans that passed by the city on their way to and from Mecca.
Bob: And Allah was okay with that?
Uzza: Yes. He sent out a revelation to that effect, telling Muhammad and his followers that He had retroactively made it lawful for the believers, for them only, to take spoils, captives even the food of unbelievers.
Muhammad even bragged that Allah had given him, and by extension the believers the keys to the treasures of the world. He said: "I have been sent with the shortest expressions bearing the widest meanings, and I have been made victorious with terror, and while I was sleeping, the keys of the treasures of the world were brought to me and put in my hand."
Archie: Back up the Prophet for a minute. Okay, Allah made stealing into a virtue depending on who you stole from. I get it. But did you just say that terrorism leads to victory?
Uzza: I did not say that.
Bob: No, but he did. So that means, when Islamists commit acts of terrorism they are just following the example of the Prophet.
Uzza: You could say that.
Archie: So Islam has commandments that say: "Though shall steal!" "Thought shall make your neighbour fear you!"
Uzza: No silly. Islam does not have commandments like the Ten Commandments which are universal in their application; but Allah and Muhammad offer similar directives which normally apply only to believers.
Archie: So if a Muslim steals from another Muslim it is a sin, but if he steals from an unbeliever it is not; if he kills another Muslim it is a sin, if he kills an unbeliever it is not; if he lies to a Muslim it is a sin, if he lies to an unbeliever it is not; if he rapes a Muslim it is a sin, if he rapes an unbeliever it is not and so on and so on.
Uzza: Only those who actively oppose the expansion of Islam. And terrorism is not about getting your neighbour to fear you but to fear God.
Archie: And there's a difference?
Uzza: For Islamists there is.
Archie: And now they are all around us.
Uzza: I blame our wonderful hate laws that have silenced any critics of Islamic scriptures, allowing Islamists to spread their lies about what the scriptures tell them they must do once they have the upper hand or what they must do to gain the upper hand.
Archie: Including terrorism.
Uzza: It is unfortunate for unbelievers, but Muhammad has been proven right, terrorism in the name of god works. Consider what has happened since the attack on the World Trade Center and the London subway bombings. Laws have been promulgated that stifle criticism of the very scriptures that inspire those self-same terrorist acts and threats of terrorism allowing Islam to advance almost unchallenged to a point where we are about to see a return to 7th century give no-quarter coordinated barbarity, of which Islamic State was just a taste.
Bob: It all started way back then?
Uzza: Yes, with a raid that went wrong, perhaps by design. Muhammad arrived in Medina a former merchant with nothing to trade leading a bunch of men with no marketable skills. Medina was a peaceful oasis city where those who understood how to grow things were in demand, not warriors. How were the believers to survive, and Allah expected them to survive. Also, raids at the time did not involve killing anyone, and were not that uncommon, especially by Bedouins on unescorted caravans during the months which were not considered sacred. You intimidated your victims into parting with their belonging by a simple show of strength.
Gerry: How civilized.
Uzza: Robert Montagne, in La Civilisation du désert, wrote of the pre-Islamic Arabs: "I am not aware in the entire history of civilisation of a more gracious, more loving, more vibrant society than that of the Arabs before Islam … [it was a time] … of unbound freedom, lofty sentiments, a nomadic and chivalrous way of life, [a land] of fantasy, joy, mischievousness, bawdy impious poetry, refined love-making…"
Bob: "Refined love-making", I can go for that.
Gerry: Get you mind out of the gutter.
Uzza: There was a also a practical reason you avoided killing anyone, for Talion law was the law of the land. You killed anyone and their extended family, their tribe would demand retribution in kind and you did not want that. Anyway, that would soon change, a change Allah approved off which heightened the Jews' apprehension of the people they had saved.
Bob: What is Talion law again?
Uzza: It means "law as retaliation". Its most commonly expressed as "an eye for an eye”.
Gerry: Isn't that also what Islamic law is about?
Uzza: Talion made it almost unchanged into the Koran. It is one of the defining differences between Islam and Christianity. You say turn the other cheek, we say slap him right back.
Archie: So what was this raid that changed everything?
Uzza: The Meccans' response to the Muslim raiders was to send larger detachments of armed to men to accompany their caravans. This did the trick, forcing Muhammad to look for softer targets. The softer target that would change everything was a small unescorted farmer's caravan making its way from Ta’if to Mecca.
Gerry: Why would Muhammad be interested in a farmer's labour when he lived on an oasis?
Uzza: It is possible that the raid, especially the timing of it, was a ploy by the farsighted Muhammad to do away, once and for all, with the interdiction against warfare during the Sacred Months. An interdiction which he could foresee would play havoc with his plans to Islamisize (sic) the Peninsula by force.
Archie: What are these sacred months?
Uzza: What were these sacred months. Today, they are sacred in name only. In pre-Islamic times there was a four months long festival centered on Mecca, a festival referred to as the Sacred Months. The Sacred Months allowed everyone to make their way to Mecca unmolested. During this period, all faiths came together; all wars and all petty quarrels had to stop.
Gerry: Again, how civilized.
Uzza: That all changed with the first unprovoked murder of an unbeliever. In November 623, having failed to plunder even a single Meccan caravan passing between the Red Sea and Medina, Muhammad decided to attack a non-Meccan caravan plying another route. It is all very hush-hush. Even the men who will carry out the raid don’t know what their ultimate target is.
The leader of an eight men raiding party is given a letter by Muhammad — yes, somebody else probably wrote it — which he is told not to read until he arrives at a famous well, two days ride by camel. Two weeks later, they reach their final destination on the trade route between Mecca and Ta’if where they wait for a caravan making its way from Ta’if to Mecca.
There is still a day left in the sacred month of Rajab when they spot four men on their way to Mecca with a cargo of raisins, wine and animal skins. If they wait a day until the end of the sacred month to attack, the small caravan will have reached the precinct of Mecca and will be inviolate.
What to do? Follow Muhammad's instructions, which they believe to be from God or respect God’s sacred month. They decide to attack, and one of the four people with the caravan is killed. Amr-ben-al Hadra’mi becomes the first reported murder of an unbeliever by a believer.
When they return to Medina, the story of the murder of Hadra’mi during a sacred month has spread far and wide. A scandal erupts. Believers and unbelievers alike are aghast that anyone would pillage and murder during a sacred month and that this sacrilege would be tolerated. Muhammad's reputation and his quest are at stake.
He is surprised by the uproar, but is unperturbed. He orders that the puny plunder for which a man was killed (raisins, wine and animal skins) be set aside and not distributed until he has heard from God. A few days later the Angel Gabriel delivers revelations from Allah intended to clarify the rules regarding this killing business during a sacred month. In a series of revealed truths Allah implicitly condoms the killing of unbelievers year round if it will advance His Cause.
Archie: And what is His Cause?
Uzza: A world governed by the Sharia, which, as I mentioned earlier, means God's law. The murder of Hadra’mi, haunts us, all of us, to this day. His murder and Allah's failure to categorically condemn the killing during a sacred month, meant that jihad could be conducted throughout the year. This could have been Muhammad's objective all along, we don't know.
Gerry: It seems a long way to go for raisins and not kill anyone. Do you think the killing was also planned so as to get God to commit to the murder of unbelievers and thereby give the Prophet and his followers a free hand to so? A sort of moral authority to murder his enemies which he equated as being God's ennemies.
Uzza: Jihadists and Islamists consider murders in Allah's Cause morally justifiable. It's a different morality than the West is used to, I will admit, and may be what they have to fear the most. As to whether this was Muhammad's intentions, if he actually ordered the killing of one of the farmers, I would not even hazard an opinion and neither should you.
Bob: What happened next?
Uzza: Before long Muhammad was informed that a rich caravan would shortly be passing by on its way to Mecca. To protect the caravan from the believers the Meccans sent the now standard detachment of armed men. Muhammad decides, to use a poker expression, to go all in. This will not be an ordinary raid. They are unbelievers and Allah has decreed that killing unbelievers in His Cause is the right thing to do, and lets get on with it. The battle of Badr is the most quoted battle in the Koran and an inspiration for Islamists and others to this day.
Archie: How do spell that?
Uzza: English or Arabic.
Archie: English of course.
Uzza: I am just having fun with you. So you don't know Arabic, the second most popular language which replaced French as an official language.
Archie: My kids get their regular dose of Arabic in school. When I went to school it was French you had to learn if you wanted to graduate. So yes, I don't know Arabic, and don't care too.
Uzza: Don't get upset. The English spelling is B A D R, and, can I have another glass of wine please.
Archie: Why not! [refills her glass]
Bob: So what was it with bad r and the Jews?
Uzza: The believers' victory at Badr, the first real battle of a war which continues to this day in one form or another, only added to the Jews' uneasiness at having rescued Muhammad and his small band from certain death. The believers at Badr defeated a much larger force. An attack that should have been easily repulsed resulted in dramatic victory for the outnumbered believers.
As in the case of all victories described in the Koran, Allah is quick to take credit, revealing that he send His angels with swords "to strike at the necks" of the unbelievers.
Bob: Beheaders from heaven and not from that other place. Go figure.
Uzza: How depressing it was when the trendsetting Toronto School District was coerced by Islamists into allowing prayers on school property during school hours and to accommodate Friday services with the prerequisite motivational sermon.
Bob: Uzza, focus, we are talking about blood and guts, about taking the unbelievers' head off, if I get Allah's meaning when He says to strike at their necks, not about kids saying a few prayers during class.
Uzza: But they are related.
Gerry: How so?
Uzza: Remember the Alamo.
Bob: Uzza, you've had too much to drink.
Uzza: Remember the Alamo was a way of reminding people about why they should hate the Mexicans during Texas' fight for independence from Mexico. It meant something to those who understood what the cry was all about and nothing to those who knew nothing about the famous battle.
Gerry: [getting Uzza's drift] But the believers won the battle of Badr?
Uzza: It doesn't matter. If I say "Remember Badr" or even more evocative battles to come where Jews and Christians are the targets, I am saying to those who know their Koran who they should hate. And, yes, Bob is it, strike at their neck does mean what you said it meant. Both Allah and His spokesperson were fans of this method of killing those who opposed Islam.
Gerry: That would explain why Islamists favour that form of execution.
Uzza: Imitation as they say is the sincerest form of flattery.
Bob: I still don't get what this has to do with allowing prayers in school.
Uzza: Allah said "Whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted from him". You are about to be smothered by a religion that tolerates no equal and you don't even know the significance of its most basic rituals; the daily prayers and the Friday sermon.
Bob: Prayers are prayers. Big deal!
Uzza: In Islam they are a big deal for the believers and should be an even bigger deal for unbelievers for the prayers are mainly about them. Prayers in Islam involve repeating verses from the Koran, including the verses that reek of hatred for unbelievers and which appear on almost every page of what is a short holy book by holy book standards at about 1/10 the size in words of the Bible.
Gerry: I remember a spokesman for the school board promising prayers and the Friday sermon would be monitored for hate speech.
Uzza: That was before the students reminded the Board that scriptures are protected speech. Also, monitoring the prayers would have required an adult versed in Arabic for Allah will not listen to prayers not said in Arabic.
Bob: So that is why every Muslim is required to learn Arabic.
Uzza: That is one reason, but it also strengthens the bonds between believers, putting even more distance between them and unbelievers. Much of our rituals, customs, even the way Islamist dress, and Allah and His spokesperson make no bones about this, are meant to do just that, to avoid contamination while projecting an air of superiority in belief.
Archie: What about the sermon?
Uzza: The sermon can be in whatever language and is subject to laws regarding hate speech.
Gerry: But then, as you mentioned earlier in your Alamo and Badr example, how do you stop the preacher from using an expression whose message of hate is so cleverly camouflage.
Uzza: [raising her voice] EASY! DON'T ALLOW RELIGION IN SCHOOLS!
Archie: A bit late for that, isn't it.