3.2 A Big Deal
Bob: To thank them?
Uzza: No, to kill them!
Bob, Gerry: WHAT!
Bob: Why kill them? They had proven useful.
Gerry: And why did you say "apparently stymied" them.
Uzza: As we talked about after the Meccans refused to pursue their advantage over the believers at Uhud, it was the tradition of the Arabs in conflict situations to try to avoid bloodshed, usually by a simple show of force. This could be why the Meccans did not make a serious attempt to cross what Archie pointed out should have been a minor obstacle, and why the remaining Jews of Medina did not attack the believers while they were looking the other way.
Gerry: If he killed them, was it after he defeated them in battle, after they put up a fight?
Uzza: There was no battle. Muhammad marched on the Jews' fortress just outside Medina with three thousand jihadists. When he neared the fortifications he called out to its defenders: “O brothers of monkeys and pigs! Fear me, fear me.” This dehumanizing simian reference would make its way into the Koran.
Archie: Didn't Hitler do the same thing?
Uzza: Please, no more comparisons to Mein Kampf.
Archie: Maybe Allah told His Messenger about evolution, the monkey part I mean, that we are all descendants of monkeys.
Gerry: Don't be funny, this is serious. So what happened next?
Uzza: Adopting that civilizing influence of the pre-Islamic Arabs of not fighting a losing battle to avoid bloodshed the Jews asked for a negotiator. Muhammad sent Abu Lubabah. He matter-of-factly informed the assembled men and weeping women and children that he was the emissary of a man who had slaughter on his mind by pointing at his throat.
Bob: And they surrendered anyway?
Uzza: The holy warriors outnumbered the fighting men of the Banu Qurayzah by at least four to one. The Jews may also have counted on Muhammad's reputation for mercy.
Archie: After what he did after the Battle of Badr, that was wishful thinking.
Uzza: He did ransom most of the prisoners of Badr, and that may have given hope to the men who laid down their weapons and appeared defenceless with their wives and children before Muhammad, offering to go into exile and leaving all their possessions for the believers to plunder at their leisure.
Archie: But that wasn't enough for the Prophet this time around was it?
Uzza: Perhaps to protect a reputation for mercy, Muhammad called upon one of the less than a dozen Muslim casualties of the Battle of the Ditch to decide the fate of the helpless, hapless Jews. The mortally wounded Sad bin Mu’adh could be counted upon to render the expected verdict, and he did, declaring that the men should be killed and their wives and children parceled out among the holy warriors to do with them whatever.
Bob: How did they determined who was old enough to be killed?
Uzza: Any boy who was unlucky enough to show signs of pubic hair was herded with the men next to a ditch Muhammad had dug in the marketplace. Then, he sat down to watch as, in orderly fashion the more than 700 men and boys of the last Jewish tribe of Medina were beheaded, their decapitated body tumbling along with their severed head into the ditch dug for the occasion.
Bob: Why did they dig another ditch, couldn't they use the one that had already been dug to defend the place, or was it just not deep enough?
Uzza: Like the Islamic State at Raqqa, the marketplace or public square is where you carry out these types of executions, in part to demonstrate your ruthlessness. That is how it was done in the idealized time of Muhammad by kings and others who claimed to rule by divine right.
Archie: The ditch and lining up those you intend to murder on the rim so that they simply fall in or simply require a nudge after you have executed them reminds me of how the NAZIs processed the Jews of Poland and Ukraine before the gas chambers became available.
Uzza: HOLY WARRIORS ARE NOT NAZIs, they only do what God approves of. There is a difference!
Archie: If you say so.
Uzza: Those who kill in God's name are not like those who commit murder in a man's name.
Gerry: Sad was a man.
Uzza: Sad knew his duty as a believer to rid the world of those who will not submit to Allah's Will, what it means to be a believer, even in the face of death.
Archie: Doing what God would do if He were here, His own dirty work.
Gerry: How do we know God approved of the mass execution of the men and boys of the last Jewish tribe of Medina?
Uzza: When Sad bin Mu’adh died later that day, Muhammad told the believers that Allah’s throne shook, so moved was God by the death of a man who had the courage to cold-bloodily send His enemies to their death and their wives and daughters into slavery. A revelation would follow making it official.
Archie: So the Chosen People are actually God's enemies. You learn something new every day.
Bob: Allah doesn't sound much like the compassionate and merciful god I keep hearing about on TV.
Uzza: That is what the preachers want you to hear and believe. It's an insider joke.
Bob: An insider joke? I don't understand?
Uzza: The flattering invocation “In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful” headlines 112 of the 114 surahs of the Koran; and in hundreds of revelations, Allah unabashedly brags about His compassionate and merciful nature. But the joke is on those who can't be bothered to read the Koran, for if they did, they would soon realize only the believers are entitled to the Author's mercy and compassion.
If you had read the Koran, you would understand why Allah was impressed by Sad's decision and by anyone who kills unbelievers wherever they find them, and the more the merrier. If the West had understood this simple message as to whom Allah considers compassion-worthy they would never have let the Islamists in. Mass public executions are about to become much more commonplace.
There was a lesson to be learned in what happened to the Jews of Medina.
Archie: Yes, be careful who you welcome to stay with you because you think they are just like you.
Uzza: It was a lesson that was lost in the painting of Islam's violent history as a defensive struggle or as bringing peace to a supposedly violent region when it did exactly the opposite.
Bob: Even after the massacre, people still believed the Prophet to be a nice guy?
Uzza: News of the massacre spread like wildfire and like terrorists attacks today would lead to a conversion bonanza. Many would convert to Islam not only because they believed that a man who would do such a thing could not be stopped, but to join in the general pillage of unbelievers’ property. All you had to say was “I declare there is no god except God” and you could with impunity kill the men who refused to say those magic life-saving words and abscond with their wives and their daughters for your troubles, as Muhammad did after the massacre, and still be guaranteed a place in Paradise.
Gerry: What about the part about Muhammad being the Messenger of God?
Uzza: That would be added later.
Archie: I'll bet the Prophet's choice of a reward for his role in the massacre was a couple of really young girls. Am I right?
Uzza: No, YOU ARE WRONG! Aisha would be his only child-bride. No, he took for himself the wife of one of the man killed, a young woman by the name of Rayhanah.
Bob: Talk about a nervy guy. I'm impressed. And this Rayhanah was okay with having sex with the guy responsible for the murder of her husband?
Uzza: Again, it was not a murder, god-sanctioned killings are not murder.
Archie: Then what are they?
Bob: Quit changing the subject. So was this Jewish princess okay with being bonked by the man who killed her husband as a favour to the big boss in the sky?
Uzza: Her father was the leader of the Qurayzah, so that would actually make her a Jewish princess of sorts.
Archie: And he lost his head as well, didn't he?
Uzza: Yes. This may explain why Rayhanah refused Muhammad's offer of marriage, thinking it unseemly under the circumstances and only accepted to be his concubine. Of all the women that Muhammad found irresistible and had to have, Rayhanah is the most pathetic. Even as a concubine, she may have found her life sexually servicing the man who did what he did to her kin and family, even if he had God's approval, unbearable and committed suicide a few years later. None of Muhammad's young wives and concubines, and probably his sex-slaves, had a shorter life than the beautiful tragic Rayhanah [wipes away a tear].
Archie: I have heard that the Prophet took in all these women and girls to solidify relationships with other tribes or with cronies. What relationship would he have solidified if Rayhanah had accepted his marriage proposal?
Uzza: Some of the arranged marriages were to cement relationships with other tribes but many were not. At least two were cronies who, perhaps to further ingratiate themselves with Muhammad, or to place spies in his household, offered their daughters in marriage after Muhammad expressed an interest in them.
Gerry: Perhaps Muslims should admit that Muhammad, in middle age and even past that developed an insatiable appetite for beautiful young women, and girls; and when he saw one he liked he just had to have her, and he had the power.
Uzza: You may be right. The most blatant evidence of these bouts of infatuation and the lengths he was willing to go to get what he wanted is in his marriage to his cousin Zaynab. He walked in on her when she was almost naked, and mesmerized by her beauty he just had to have her. The only problem, his cousin was already married to his adopted son Zayd.
Bob: Zayd must not have been pleased?
Uzza: When he became aware of Muhammad's latest obsession he quickly divorced Zaynab so that she was available for his father to marry.
Gerry: But Muhammad was not really his father?
Uzza: The pre-Islamic Arabs were even enlightened when it came to adopted sons; they completely erased the distinction between an adopted and a natural-born son. An adopted son became the son of the man who adopted him with all the rights and obligation of a natural-born son including calling the man who took him in father.
Bob: And Allah was okay with this, marrying your living son's former wife?
Uzza: Absolutely not!
Gerry: So how did the Prophet get around this taboo?
Uzza: We don't know who first got the idea to change the status of adopted sons to "brothers in religion", but Allah, who Aisha remarked was always quick to please her husband when it came to his sexual needs made marrying the former wife of other than your natural-born son, like marrying the divorced wife of any man.
Archie: You have to hand it to the Prophet, he had this special relationship with God, if you believe in that sort of thing, and he used it for all it was worth.
Uzza: Of all the things Allah did to cater to Muhammad's sexual appetites this has had the most lasting and most detrimental impact. The revelations changing the relationship between adopted sons and their surrogate parent so that Muhammad could add his former daughter-in-law to his collection of wives, concubines and slave-girls have been interpreted to mean that Islam is against Western style adoption where an adopted son can take the name of his adopted parents.
Allah, for good measure, made it a sin for adopted sons to take their surrogate father's surname when he made them second-class children. This has been a lasting disincentive for men to take the responsibility of raising another man's child as if he was their son as was done in pre-Islamic times, meaning that today in the Islamic world you have an untold number of children with no one to call father.
Archie: You would think a religion which produces so many orphans would threat them better.
Uzza: [getting emotional again] Can we change the subject.
Gerry: You still haven't answered the question: why kill them? Surely the Prophet did not engineer the mass killing simply to add to his harem?
Uzza: [regaining her composure] Of course not. It was kill them now or kill them later. Killing them now when they were at his mercy was the best strategy when you consider the mission Allah had given Muhammad.
Bob: And what mission was that? Kill all unbelievers, even your friends and benefactors?
Uzza: The only friends of believers, Allah said, are other believers. Believers who took unbelievers as friends, He warned, would join them in Hell on Judgement Day
Gerry: Does that mean we can't be friends?
Uzza: For those who swear by the Koran this is definitely the case.
Archie: [something dawns on Archie] I GET IT. The Prophet was about to go on the warpath and could expect that many of the Jews he had exiled would join the opposition. When put that way, the massacre actually makes sense.
Uzza: Allah told Muhammad to make Islam the dominant religion. Muhammad interpreted this as the believers fighting the unbelievers until everyone believed or, if they were Christians or Jews, accepted Muslim suzerainty by humbly paying the jizya.
Bob: What do you mean by Muslim suzerainty? That can't be good!
Uzza: Muslim rule, as was the case in Spain during the Caliphate.
Gerry: Sam Harris, in a book he wrote about a conversation he had with a former radical by the name of Nawaz, said that "the vaunted peace of Andalusia is largely a fairy tale, first presented in the novels of Sir Walter Scott, Benjamin Disraeli and others who romanticized Muslim rule, [that] it was good only by comparison with the most murderous periods of medieval Christendom... [that] the general reality was a world absolutely suffocated by religious stupidity and violence.
Uzza: I wouldn't know.
Bob: So with the Meccans gone, the Jews no longer an issue, what did the believers do to celebrate?
Archie: BOOTY TIME! With more than a thousand defenceless females and the Prophet's approval, what do you think they did?
Bob: What does Archie mean by "the Prophet's approval"?
Uzza: You don't miss a thing do you Archie? Remember earlier when I said that Muhammad asked holy warriors not to practice coitus interruptus during rape?
Uzza: That meant he did not object to rape per se, just that the rapist should not withdraw to avoid impregnating the victim and thereby deprive Allah of the opportunity to make a baby. This is called his silent approval and it has the same force in law as if he had shouted "go out and rape and multiply without the benefit of marriage." And that is exactly what Islamic State did when it raped all those captured Yazidi women and girls.
Bob: They were rewarding themselves for killing their husbands and fathers, just like the Muslims of Medina who killed the Jews?
Uzza: Yes, but they were not breaking any laws.
Gerry: Another argument for Western jurisprudence which condemns immorality not condone it.
Uzza: The Sharia, God's law, cannot, by definition, condone immorality. Therefore, what holy warriors do to their female captives is both legal and moral.
Gerry: So you don't have a problem with what was done to the Yazidi females?
Uzza: OF COURSE I DO. NO SANE PERSON WOULDN'T!
Archie: No need to shout. We get it. People who do these things are insane and the laws they live by just as crazy.
Uzza: I did not say that.
Archie: Of course you didn't. We understand.
Uzza: And, if there was what you called "booty time", after the elimination of potential enemies, it would only have provided a temporary respite from what was still a dire situation for the believers.
Bob: How's that?
Uzza: The Meccans and the Jews of Khaybar, a large farming community to the north of Medina to which many of the Jewish exiled had fled, had agreed to come to each other's aid if either was attacked by the believers. Both cities also instituted the equivalent of an economic blockade. Not only were the Muslim caravans confined to Medina but so were their raiding parties. Not only could the believers no longer depend on plunder to make ends meet, but Muhammad had destroyed much of the orchards of the oasis city and exiled or slaughtered its farmers.
Something had to give. The believers appeared to have no choice. Unless they broke the blockade by attacking either Khaybar or Mecca, many of the warriors who became believers for the plunder and the sex, with starvation a definite possibility, will leave, or worse, change sides, making the fall of Medina and the defeat of the believers inevitable.
Bob: So who did they attack first?
Uzza: Neither. Muhammad is probably the greatest military strategist that has ever lived. He would give his kin what they most wanted, a negotiated peace that avoided, for now, unnecessary bloodshed, but on his terms.
Gerry: Calling for peace, from what you have told us so far, is not what Muslims do.
Uzza: Allah told the believers not to call for peace if they had the upper hand; but He also said it was okay to lie in His Cause. A lie in His Cause at this point seemed the appropriate thing to do if the believers were to survive to fight another day. Many believers, when informed of Muhammad's plans to go to Mecca, not to fight but to perform the lesser pilgrimage, the Umrah, thought it was a ruse to catch the Meccans off guard.
Gerry: But it wasn't?
Uzza: No it wasn't, but neither was it about the pilgrimage based on what happened when he got there. He invited all believers to accompany him on this 800 km round-trip trek. Except for the Bedouins who became believers for the booty, a majority of his follower joined him. Those who will accompany him are only allowed a sheathed sword and must follow the ritual preparation, much of it borrowed from the pagans, such as fasting, shaving your head and body hair, wearing a simple robe without decorations of any kind and abstaining from sexual relations.
Gerry: That is definitely not preparing to do battle.
Uzza: On February 628, Muhammad and an estimated fourteen hundred men leave Medina for Mecca. Somehow they manage to avoid a large force sent to intercept them and make it to the outskirts of the city. Uthman, Muhammad’s son in law, accepts to go and talk to the Meccans. When he is late in returning, rumours start to circulate that he has been killed or is being tortured.
Again, to everyone's astonishment, except perhaps Muhammad, a short time later, a delegation from Mecca arrives. A ten year non-aggression treaty is signed, the Treaty of Hudaibiyah. Under Hudaibiyah, believers will be allowed to perform the pilgrimage the following year and every year during which the treaty is in force.
It is during the signing of this treaty that we get the best indication from a credible witness that Muhammad was not a total illiterate. His scribe wrote, where Muhammad was to put his imprimatur "These are the terms on which Muhammad, Allah's Apostle agreed."
The Meccans objected, saying that if they believed he was really Allah's Apostle, they would have no objections to him visiting the Ka'ba anytime. When Muhammad's scribe refused to change the wording, he took the treaty from him, rubbed out what the Meccans found objectionable and wrote in what met with their approval.
Bob: So Muhammad could read and write?
Uzza: Reputable scholars agree that Muhammad was not a total illiterate, that he could write his name and perhaps read at a rudimentary level. Does that make him literate? I don't know.
Archie: So the treaty allowed the Muslims to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. Big deal!
Uzza: The big deal was that the treaty no longer committed the Meccans to come to the aid of the Jews of Khaybar if they were attacked.
Gerry: That is a big deal!
Uzza: So that is what Muhammad did. Having made peace, if only a temporary one, with his Arab kin, he wasted no time in attacking Khaybar.