Jihad in the Koran

The Civil War Which Started It All

Massacre of the Banu Qurayzah

An Avoidable Tragedy

Jihad in the KoranThe Jews of Medina did not blame God for what happened to them, they blamed His Messenger. They worshipped the same monotheistic deity as the Muslims and that god would not have done what the Prophet did to them, revelation 4:78. Verse 4:77 about believers wanting a rest from the fighting is not relevant here, but its conclusion is the beginning of revelation 4:78.

4:77 Have you not seen those to whom it was said: “Hold back your hands, perform the prayer and give the alms-tax”; but when they were ordered to fight, a group of them appeared to fear men just as they fear Allah, or even more. They said: “Lord, why have you ordered us to fight? If only You would grant us respite for a short period.” Say: “The pleasure of this world is small and the Hereafter is far better for the God-fearing; and you will not be wronged a whit.”

4:78 Wherever you may be, death will overtake you, even if you are in high towers. And if good fortune befalls them (the Jews) they say: “This is from Allah.” But when misfortune befalls them, they say: “It is from you (Muhammad).” Say: “All is from Allah.” What is the matter with those people who barely understand any discourse!

4:79 Whatever good visits you, it is from Allah; and whatever evil befalls you, it is from yourself; and We have sent you (Muhammad) forth to mankind as a Messenger. Allah is the All-Sufficient Witness!

That the Jews of Medina bear a large responsibility for what happened to them is undeniable. They first welcomed and protected the Prophet Muhammad because they worshipped the same god. They fell out because they could not accept him as a legitimate conduit with the Almighty – that role being reserved for “the chosen people” exclusively.

Muhammad was a Muslim, but also what we would call today an Arab nationalist. The Jews scriptural position meant that the Muslim Arabs would have to accept the equivalent of Jewish suzerainty, a Jewish supremacy that the Torah maintains will eventually encompass all nations.

The Prophet, having borrowed so much from the Torah, borrowed one last communication from the Jewish flavour of their common God: it was the Muslims who were called upon to become rulers of the world because of their claim to the “Superior Religion”.

Realizing that they had been outmaneuvered, and not being able to modify their scriptural position to give the Muslims equal billing before God, the Jews of Medina should have all left the city or fought the good fight. They did neither, and the Battle of the Ditch sealed their faith.

The Broken Covenant

5:12 Allah made a covenant with the Children of Israel, and We raised among them twelve chieftains. And Allah said: “I am with you. Surely, if you perform the prayer, give the alms, believe in my Messengers and support them and lend Allah a fair loan (spend in the way ordered by Allah), I will forgive you your sins and admit you into Gardens, beneath which rivers flow. But if any one of you disbelieves afterwards, he certainly strays from the right path.

Allah will remind the Jews of Medina, some of whom may have converted to Islam, about this covenant while providing additional specifics meant for them alone.

2:83 When We made a covenant with the Children of Israel (saying): “You shall worship none other than Allah; show kindness to your parents, to the near of kin, to the orphans and to the poor; speak to people; perform the prayers, give the alms-tax.” But, with the exception of a few, you did not abide by the covenant and you turned away.

Sometimes you do have to leave the explanation to the experts. Look for a scholar’s commentary after the following revelations which expand on this sub-covenant with the Jews of Medina.

2:84 And when We made a covenant with you (saying): “You shall not shed your own blood, nor drive your people away from their homes”, you accepted and you bore witness [thereto].

2:85 Yet there you are killing each other and turning some of your folks from their homes, making common cause against them with sin and aggression. But should they come to you as captives you would ransom them. Surely it was unlawful for you to drive them away. Do you, then, believe in one part (paying the ransom) of the Book and disbelieve in another (killing and driving away their people from their homes)? The reward of those among you who do that is nothing but disgrace in this world, and on the Day of Resurrection they shall be turned over to the most severe punishment. Allah is not unaware of what you do.

2:86 Those are the people who have traded the life of this world for the Hereafter. Their punishment shall not be lightened, nor shall they be helped.

Moududi's commentary:

Before the advent of the Prophet (peace be on him) the Jewish tribes who lived on the outskirts of Madina (sic) had concluded an alliance with the Arab tribes of Aws and Khazraj. When the Arab tribes fought against one another each Jewish tribe fought on the side of its allies, which led to fratricide and so to a flagrant violation of the Book of God. Moreover, when the war ended the captives were ransomed. This ransom was justified on the basis of scriptural arguments; they extolled the Word of God when it permitted the ransom of prisoners of war, but attached no significance at all to the same Word of God when it prohibited mutual feuding.

Fakhry, in a footnote, writes that Allah’s Covenant in revelation 2:40, which follows, includes “believing that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”. Muhammad would, of course, not have been alive when Allah’s Covenant with the Jews was first entered into thousands of years earlier, just before He separated them into twelve tribes. This could indicate that the following revelations about a covenant may also have been meant for Jewish contemporaries of God’s Messenger.

2:40 O Children of Israel, remember the grace which I bestowed on you. Fulfil your covenant (by believing that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah) and I shall fulfil my Covenant (by rewarding you). And Me alone you should fear.

2:41 Believe in what I have revealed confirming that which is with you (your Scriptures) and do not be the first to deny it. Do not trade My Revelations for a small price; and Me alone you should fear.

2:42 And do not confuse truth with falsehood and do not conceal the truth while you know it.

2:43 Perform the prayer; give the alms-tax and bow down with those who bow down.

2:44 Do you command others to be righteous and forget yourselves while you recite the Book? Do you not understand?

2:45 Seek assistance through patience and prayer. It is hard, except for the truly devout;

2:46 Who believe that they shall meet their Lord, and unto Him they shall return.

The Jews can look forward to spending an eternity burning in Hell, as is the fate of all of those with whom Allah is displeased.

62:5 The case of those who were loaded with the Torah, then failed to carry it, is similar to an ass which carries learned books. Wretched is the case of the people who have denounced Allah’s Signs. Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people.

62:6 Say: “O you who have adopted Judaism; if you claim to be Allah’s friends, apart from other people, then do wish for death, if you are truthful.”

62:7 Yet, they will never wish it, due to what their hands have advanced. Allah knows well the wrongdoers.

62:8 Say: “The death from which you flee will surely overtake you. Then you will be turned over to Him Who knows the Unseen and the Seen, and He will inform you about what you used to do.”

A Change of Direction

41:37 Of His signs are the night and the day, the sun and the moon. Do not prostrate yourself to the sun or to the moon, but prostrate yourself to Allah Who created them, if it is He you truly worship.

41:38 Should they wax proud (the Meccan pagans), then those with your Lord (the angels, Moududi) do glorify him by night and day, without growing weary.

The first Muslims prostrated themselves during prayer in the direction of Jerusalem. It was only after the Prophet’s falling out with the Jews of Medina  that revelations were received from Allah informing His Messenger about a change of direction.

Following are the verses where Allah gives His reasons for this about-face (no pun intended).

2:142 The ignorant among the people (among the Jews and polytheist Arabs) will say: “What caused them (the Prophet Muhammad and the believers) to turn away from the former Qibla towards which they used to turn (Jerusalem)?” Say: “To Allah belongs the East and the West. He guides whom He wills towards the Right Path.”

2:143 And thus We have made you (the Muslim nation) a just nation, so that you may bear witness unto the rest of mankind, and that the Messenger may bear witness unto you. We did not ordain your former Qibla except that We may distinguish those who follow the Messenger from those who turn on their heels (return to disbelief). It was indeed a hard test except for those whom Allah guided. Allah would not allow your faith to be in vain. He is Clement and Merciful to mankind.

2:144 Surely, We see your face turned towards heaven (yearning for guidance through revelation). We shall turn you towards a Qibla that will please you. Turn your face then towards the Sacred Mosque (the Sacred Mosque of Mecca, the Ka’ba); and wherever you are turn your faces towards it. Those who were given the Book (the Jews and Christians) certainly know this to be the Truth from their Lord. Allah is not unaware of what they do.

2:145 Were you even to come to the People of the Book with every proof, they will not follow your Qibla, nor will you follow their Qibla. Nor will some of them follow the Qibla of the others. And were you to follow their desires after all the knowledge that came to you, surely you would be one of the evil-doers.

2:146 Those to whom We gave the Book know him (Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah) as they know their own sons; but a group of them will knowingly conceal the truth.

2:147 The truth is from your Lord. So do not be one of the doubters.

2:148 To everyone there is a direction towards which he turns. So hasten to do the good works. Wherever you are, Allah will bring you all together (in the Hereafter). Surely Allah has power over all things.

Allah’s instructions were not limited to the direction Muslims must face when performing the prayers.

2:149 From whatever place you come out, turn towards the Sacred Mosque. This is indeed the truth from your Lord. Allah is not unaware of what you do.

2:150 From whatever place you come out, turn your faces towards the Sacred Mosque. And wherever you all are, turn your faces towards it, lest people should have cause to argue with you, except for the evil-doers among them. Do not fear them, but fear Me so that I may complete My Grace upon you, and that you be rightly guided.