Remembering Uzza

24 A Man in a Hurry Takes Wife #11

(3.2 draft)

UzzaUzza: Muhammad will use the breathing space provided by the Treaty of Hudaibiyah to complete the encirclement of Mecca. Under the Treaty, Mecca must remain neutral in disputes between the believers and their enemies and that includes the Jews of Khaybar.

Archie: How could the Meccans be so stupid?

Uzza: One explanation is that Muhammad was an old man, in his late fifties when he signed the treaty. He had already exceeded the life expectancy of people of his time. If he respected the terms of the treaty, Mecca was safe for at least ten years during which time Muhammad would undoubtedly have passed away and the threat to the city would have receded without a fight.

Gerry: It was obviously a miscalculation.

Uzza: It might have worked if Muhammad's age had not worked against them; not for them as they may have expected.

Bob: I don't understand.

Uzza: Muhammad, probably because of his age and expectations, was a man in a hurry.

Gerry: Are you saying that he had no intention of respecting the terms of the treaty he just signed?

Uzza: Like most doomsday prophets Muhammad expected that fateful day to occur in his lifetime. Unlike most doomsday prophets, he expected to help bring it about and perhaps avoid spending any time in the grave.

Bob: From what you have told us about life in the grave, I would not want to spend any time as a zombie if I could help it.

Uzza: Avoiding life in the grave is probably the second greatest incentive for suicide bombers to do what they do after the promise of an afterlife of non-stop debauchery for an eternity.

Bob: Was the Prophet, if he helped bring about Judgement Day, expecting to be raptured or something, and be raised up to heaven before all hell broke loose?

Uzza: That is a Christian belief. Except for Jesus and martyrs, every men, women and child, even the prophets must spend time in the grave until Judgement Day.

Gerry: If Islam considers Jesus just another prophet of Allah, and even for the prophets there is no avoiding a zombie-like existence, why the exception?

Uzza: God needed a general, so to speak, to lead the forces of good against the forces of evil during the end-times cataclysmic battles.

Gerry: But that is a Christian belief?

Uzza: And an Islamic one as well, with one key distinction. The forces of good are the believers.

Gerry: That is a big difference!

Archie: No kidding. So, Uzza, how does if feel having a drink with a bunch of evil dudes instead of hanging out with the righteous twosome dressed in original Model T colours who came in earlier?

Uzza: You are not evil.

Archie: Is it because black is not our favourite colour?

Uzza: Don’t be silly.

Gerry: You are not losing your religion are you Uzza?

Uzza: If I did, I would not admit it. I am not that brave.

Gerry: I think you are [touches her hand].

Bob: Getting back to the old guy and his obsession with killing Jews.

Uzza: Muhammad was not obsessed with killing Jews. Yes, he was upset with them for denying his claim to prophethood because he was not a Jew, but it was his obsession with what he thought was a looming Judgement Day that drove him to fight them, and when necessary, kill them.

Gerry: How was killing Jews helping him to bring about Judgement Day?

Uzza: Muhammad said that the last hour will not come until Muslims vanquished the Romans, the Byzantines at a place call Dabiq in modern day Syria, a few miles from the Turkish border. He intended to lead the believers in a last battle which would usher the end-times and Judgement Day.

Archie: Who did he think he was?

Uzza: We've talked about that before. He saw himself as the Arab Moses. Moses led his people to the Promised Land. Muhammad would lead his people to Dabiq, the last stopover before the Hereafter where he will stand next to God and be praised by his tribesman for having saved most of them from Hell's fire and to watch as Allah sentences those who refused to submit to burn in Hell.

Archie: Talk about delusional.

Uzza: He was not crazy. Muhammad had a plan and it involved forging a united Arab nation under God able to field an army capable of defeating the Byzantines. A necessary step was removing the Jewish threat should the Meccans come to theirs senses and renew their alliance with the Jews of Khaybar.

Archie: Fickle allies the Meccans were.

Bob: Are you imitating Yoda now Archie?

Archie: Star Wars is a parody of another fight between good and evil, between light and darkness. And the bad guys are all dressed in black.

Bob: No, they don't all wear black. The stormtroopers all wear white armor.

Archie: A sometimes confusing storyteller this Lucas person is.

Gerry: But not Uzza. I have never heard the story of Islam told to me in such an engaging fashion where it all makes sense.

Uzza: You're too kind.

Gerry: Forget this Star Wars nonsense, Uzza. I want to hear more about how we got into the mess we find ourselves in today with Western Civilisation on the brink of annihilation.

Uzza: From Islam's point of view, believers are bringing order to chaos; cleaning up the mess you say you find yourselves in today.

Archie: And what has the killing of the Jews of Khaybar have to do with cleaning up a mess, except for one of the Prophet's own making?

Uzza: Muhammad did not kill all the male Jews of Khaybar with pubic hair like he did at Medina. Medina had thought him that farmers are useful in both war and peace. He allowed the surviving Jews of Khaybar to continue farming the land with him taking 50% of the crop, to feed his army mostly.

Archie: I'll bet that is not all he got for his troubles.

Uzza: Yes, he also took for himself a 17-year-old Jewish teenager by the name of Safiyyah bint Huyai, as his eleventh wife after allowing a holy warrior to take her as his slave.

Archie: A bit of an Indian-giver was the Prophet, was he?

Uzza: The use of that expression does not become you Archie and he was not the type of person you describe. Muhammad was supervising the distribution of the women and girls of his dead and defeated enemy when a holy warrior came forward and asked him for a slave girl from among the captives. He picked the young and beautiful Safiyyah. That was before a companion informed Muhammad of her beauty and status as the widow of a chief among the Jews.

Bob: Just like Rayhanah?

Uzza: No, unlike Rayhanah, Safiyyah was a merry widow, happy to be rid of an abusive husband, it is said, and happy to become the wife of Muhammad even if the customary dowry demanded by the Koran would not be available to ransom herself, as unlikely as that was about to happen.

Bob: Muhammad broke the law?

Uzza: Of course not. She may have been a slave for only a short time, but he made her a free woman before he married her and deemed her freedom to be her dowry.

Gerry: What you’re saying is that his new teenaged acquisition cost him nothing and he changed the law in the process because it suited him.

Uzza: That is not what I am saying at all.

Bob: What did you mean by ransom herself?

Uzza: The Koran demands that a bride be given a dowry. This is meant to give the wife-to-be some means of looking after herself, if only for a short period, should her husband divorce her and she must leave his home forthwith. A believing man unhappy with a marital choice need only repeat twice to his wife “I divorce you” before sending her packing after ascertaining she is not pregnant with his child.

A wife’s dowry is her only possession, everything else including the family home is exclusively her husband’s. Her dowry is also one of the few means she has of “ransoming herself”, that is foregoing her dowry to obtain a divorce from say an abusive husband.

Gerry: Not providing Safiyyah a “real” dowry makes the Prophet out to be a bit of a scrooge.

Uzza: Muhammad was parsimonious, I will admit. When his daughter Fatima asked her father to give her one of his slave-girls to help with the housework he refused, telling her that more prayers would be just as helpful.

Bob: You don't get rich by giving your stuff away, that's for sure.

Uzza: Whatever Muhammad took for himself he spent most of it in Allah's Cause.

Archie: How do you spend women in Allah's Cause?

Uzza: As a reward. I am sure if giving one or more of his many wives and slave-girls to a holy warrior would have advanced Allah's Cause, Muhammad would have done so.

Archie: If you believe that, I've got a bridge you might be interested in.

Uzza: You are impossible.

Gerry: A wife without a dowry could not ransom herself, making an unhappy marriage possibly worse than slavery. That would make what Bernard Lewis said about the lot of women in Islam even more true, that women in Islam were worse off than unbelievers or slaves, and by slaves he meant male slaves. "The slave could be freed by his master; the unbeliever could at any time become a believer by his own choice, and thus end his inferiority. Only the woman was doomed forever to remain what she was."

Uzza: There is some truth to that.

Bob: Muhammad was pushing sixty and he felt confident enough to satisfy a 17-year-old girl and ten other wives. Must have been some kind of sexual superman.