Muhammad: The Treacherous Warlord
Muhammad was a lousy poet and an unsuccessful preacher but he turned out to be a very good warlord. His stock in trade was treachery and treaty breaking. Genghis Khan was a truly great warlord, Muhammad was not in that class but he kick-started the unification of Arabia and some pretty impressive later conquests. In June 622 CE Muhammad and his followers left Mecca and moved to a Jewish town Yathrib (now Medina). Perhaps they didn't like work in the date palms but they soon tried another source of income - killing and stealing and they steadily got better at it. Muhammad sent out the first gang to attack a caravan during a sacred month during which fighting was not permitted. This was a treacherous act but Allah came up with a thumbs up and a pat on the back for Muhammad as he always did.
they ask you about fighting in the sacred month. Tell them that it is a great sin. However, creating an obstacle in the way of Allah, disbelief in Him and the Sacred Mosque, and driving away the neighbors of the Sacred Mosque is an even greater sin in the sight of Allah: Disbelief in Allah is worse than committing murder. - Quran (2:217)
Fuck me. Just not believing in Allah is worse than being a murderer and according to Sharia the penalty for a murderer is execution.
Muhammad didn't take long to realise he wasn't going to convert the Jews here through his poetry, his discourse or his personality. He repeated his claim that secretly they totally recognised he was a God ordained prophet but that they pretended otherwise. Pathetic and embarassing.
Those to whom We have given the Book (Bible), know you (Muhammad) just as a well as they know their sons. It is certain that some of them deliberately hide the truth. - Quran (2:146)
So he tried another approach: treachery and treaty-breaking. He practised these essential warlord techniques on the three tribes of Jews of Medina. The first attack was on the weakest Jewish tribe (Muhammad wasn't stupid), the Banu Qaynuqa. This was shortly after the Muslims had their first major victory over the Meccans at the Battle of Badr. There were trumped-up charges and then the Jews were besieged in their forts. They surrendered after a couple of weeks and were sent packing from Medina with the Muslims keeping their property, 1/5 of which went to Muhammad. Muhammad had decided to behead the men but he was not yet powerful enough to go against Abdallah ibn Ubayy, a Medinan tribal leader, who insisted on exile only.
The attack on the Banu Nadir took place in August 625. We can be certain that the Jews were treacherous because the angel Jibreel (Gabriel) whispered it to Muhammad and an angel's testimony is unimpeachable. The Jews enjoyed the strategic advantage that their thick fields of Date Palm trees provided some protection. Muhammad ordered the orchards destroyed which was a military no-no according to the customs at that time and most times. No problem, Allah okayed the tree-killings:
Whatever palm-tree you cut down or leave standing upon its roots, It is by Allah's command, and that He may abase the transgressors. - Quran (59:5)
They surrendered and were sent packing and could take with them what they could carry on their 600 camels but no weapons. This confiscation gave Muhammad and his companions land and financial independence.
In 627 Muhammad was strong enough to take on the most powerful Jewish tribe, the Banu Qurayza. The Meccans had besieged Medina but Muhammad had dug some defensive trenches which had apparently prevented the Meccans from making a full frontal attack. Once they gave up and went home Muhammad was taking a bath when the angel Jibreel told him to finish off the Jews. He still had all his men waiting around so this time Muhammad really finished the Jews of Medina off, having up to 900 Jewish men and boys with pubic hair beheaded. The property and women and children of the tribe were divided up as slaves among the Muslim warriors who raped them at will.
In 628 Muhammad threatened an attack on Mecca and a ten year truce was arranged: the Truce of Hudaybiyya. He then attacked the Jewish settlement at Khaybar which had the largest Date Palm plantations in Arabia. Ibn Ishaq wrote that "We met the workers of Khaybar coming out in the morning with their spades and baskets. When they saw the apostle and the army they cried, "Muhammad with his force," and turned tail and fled … The apostle seized the property piece by piece …"
The Muslims killed all the warriors including Kinana who was tortured by lighting a fire on his chest to reveal where the community's savings were hidden and then beheaded. His wife Safiya was a 17 year old Jewess and she was given to one Dihya Al-Kalbi as his share of the booty. Many of the Muslim men were talking about how exceptionally hot this Safiya was (as you do) and so Muhammad took a look and told Dihya, "Sorry mate, she's mine." Muhammad fucked her that night. Was it rape? Probably she just lay back and remembered her husband's head lying on the ground.
Two years later, not ten, Muhammad arrived at Mecca with an army - the Meccans obviously hadn't studied Muhammad's methods closely enough. A few Meccans were sentenced to death by Muhammad himself, just a few grudges to settle: "a small number who were to be killed even if they were found beneath the curtains of the Ka'ba" - The Life of Muhammad", Guillaume's translation of Ibn Hisham's "Sirat Rasul Allah", p550 By then Muhammad undoubtedly felt pretty good about things. As Mel Brooks might have said, "It is good to be the Prophet!"
A year before he died Muhammad decided to raise the stakes with the revelation of al-Tawbah ("the Repentance"). He gave the tribes of Arabia 4 months grace but if by then they had not joined the Ummah and started to pay the zakat ("extortion tax") then Muslims must "slay the idolaters wherever you find them." Who else but Muhammad would declare an "immunity" which was really a threat of a war of conquest and absorption. These days, for political reasons, the concept of 'Jihad' is argued over but to Muhammad it appears he had decided that war against non-Muslims could be waged virtually at any time, without anything non-Muslims would consider a valid reason and in any place where non-Muslims could be found.
Within 40 years of Muhammad leaving Mecca, Muawiya the son of Abu Sufyan, Muhammad's most bitter opponent, became the first emperor of the Islamic empire. He achieved this by saving himself from defeat by Ali, Muhammad's most devout follower and rightful caliph, in a particularly irreligious manner. He got his troops to attach verses of the Quran on their spearpoints thereby causing confusion in Ali's troops. Ali's career was downhill all the way from then until a poisoned sword ended it while he was praying in the Great Mosque of Kufa. The Ummayads were nor famous for their piety. So much for Muhammad's legacy.
Muslims have their own version of these events full of special pleading, angelic interventions and Islamic interpretations, they remind me of Hitler's excuses for invading Poland. I find the straightforward recounting of Muhammad's vile and vicious actions far more persuasive.