A response to Chapter 10

The Life of Muhammad

Muslims believe that Muhammad is the last of the prophets, who brought forth the full and final revelation of God to mankind.

"We sent you not (O Muhammad), but as a Mercy for all creatures."

[There is no doubt that Muhammad believed he was called of God, but the circumstances around this "call" need some explanation. Muhammad himself said of the angel, "He choked me with the cloth until I believed that I should die. Then he released me and said: Recite!" When he hesitated, he received 'twice again the repeated harsh treatment'. This seems to many an unusual form of coercion, unlike a gracious and merciful God Muslims claim Allah to be, as well as contrary to the free choice they claim he has granted his creatures.

Muhammad lacked faith in what he was preaching and did not really believe in his heart what Allah was revealing to him. At one point, he believed he was demon-possessed. For example, why should he feel as if he were being strangled if it was a good God that wanted to give him a message? After 23 years or so of preaching, Muhammad could only say 'I do not know what will be done with me or with you (... those who followed his teaching)' (46:9). Can you imagine that?

Also clouding the alleged divine origin of his message is the fact that after this there was a long period of silence, which according to some accounts lasted 3 years, during which time Muhammad fell into the depths of despair, feeling forsaken by God, and even entertaining thoughts of suicide. These characteristics strike many as uncharacteristic of a divine call] (The Crescent in the Light of the Cross, Norman L. Geisler & Abdul Saleeb, published by Baker Books, copyright 1993, pp. 146- 169).

Now let's take a look at violence in the life of Muhammad.

Many Muslims do not like reading about the violence in Islam as they believe this is a misrepresentation. But can they ignore their history? Muhammad not only commanded wars, but was also involved in person.

In regard to religious tolerance, the only place any Muslim can confidently point to in the Quran is surah 2:256 which says in part, "Let there be no compulsion in religion". But we all know this statement was made at the early stage of Muhammad's mission, when he was just settling down in Medina. Such an attitude was necessary in order to get the co-operation of the Jewish tribes and Christians who were in the majority in Medina. Muhammad said he believed in all the Jewish prophets, and that he had not brought any new religion but the very things that the old prophets of Israel had preached.

In the Meccan messages of Muhammad, there are positive and friendly statements about Jews, Christians, and the Scriptures. Here the prophet expects a warm welcome from the Arabian Jews and Christians concerning his divine commission and proclamation of God's unity. (2:62, 29:46, 5:50, 10:94).

However, as time went on and Muhammad was rejected by the majority of Jews and Christians as an imposter, Muhammad's attitude toward these people and the scriptures shifted dramatically. And the change in his disposition becomes clearly reflected not only in the later verses of the Quran and his treatment of the Jews, but also to a great extent in Islamic theology and culture. (5:54, 3:85, 5:85, 9:29, 2:42, 3:71,78, 4:46, 2,78,85).

At that time, he did not have enough people to wage any war. When, however, he had raised enough military manpower, he began to launch out against those he suspected did not believe in his religion. Speaking as an oracle of Allah, Muhammad commanded true muslims to:

(9:29) "fight those who believe not in Allah nor the last day nor acknowledge the religion of truth". The Quran says to fight Buddhists, Jews, and Christians, and whoever else doesn't believe in Islam.

(9:5) "fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them ... but IF they repent, and establish regular prayers, and pay zakat ... THEN open the way for them". The Quran even ADVOCATES forced conversions. IF ... THEN. Slay them until they accept Islam ...

(9:29) "fight them until (let me repeat ... UNTIL) they pay the Jizya". In other words, if they don't pay the Jizya, keep fighting them.

Muhammad was commanded by Allah to make sure that Islam prevails over all the other religions (61:9).

The Quran even orders Muslims not to take Jews and Christians as friends (5:51). One begins to wonder how there can be any peace in the world when muslims are given this command.

The Quran orders muslims to be obedient in killing in order to spread Islam (4:74) "let those fight in the cause of Allah ... whether he is slain or gets victory". Allah loves those who fight in battle array (61:4). Muslim soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the cause of Islam are even awarded a paradise filled with virgins (3:157-158; 22:58-59; 56:10-22,35-38; etc).

After Muhammad fled to Medina, life soon became difficult for these settlers economically, and they had to survive. Muhammad therefore felt that he had to take revenge on the Meccan merchants for the hostility he had suffered in Mecca. But because of their ethnic affliliation, many of the Muslims did not see why they should attack and loot their own tribesman in order to survive or because of a religion. But a revelation came to Muhammad from Allah to justify this first mobilization for Jihad. And so, in surah (2:216), we read, "Jihad is ordained for you and you disliked it, and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you ...".

Among the first blood sheb by Muhammad's followers in Medina was that of a poetess, Asma, daughter of Merwan and wife of Yazid bin Zaid. According to Ibn Ishaq in his monumental work "Sirat ar-Rasul", edited by Ibn Hisham and translated into English by A. Guillaume under the title "The Life of Muhammad", Mrs. Asma Yazid had composed and popularized some poems to ridicule the people of Medina for following a man who had slain 49 of his own tribesmen at Badr and looted their caravan in order to establish a religion. This woman was stabbed on her bed. About three other poets who could not be silent had their necks face the sharp edge of the Islamic sword and soon lost their heads. One of them was Abu 'Afrak.

Another poet (and soldier), Abbas, was to face a similar judgement. It was after the battle of Honain. The problem arose as to the way Muhammad shared the booty. Abbas, said to be a lukewarm convert, grumbled about Muhammad's arithmetic of sharing the booty. Muhammad overheard him and said with a smile, "Take that man from here and cut out his tongue" (Khan, M. Ebrahim. "Anecdotes from Islam", Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, Lahore (1960), p.20).

Immediately following the Battle of Badr, Muhammad's prestige increased greatly. Relying on his newly elevated status, Muhammad launched the systematic elimination of his opponents in Medina, which in Muhammad's mind had always posed a real threat to the stability of the Islamic community. This extermination involved the assassination of some poets who had satirized the prophet in verse, and also the expulsion of one of the three Jewish tribes from Medina.

Barely one year after the defeat at Uhud, Muhammad expelled the second Jewish tribe from Medina and confiscated all their properties. Shortly after the seize of Medina, Muhammad attacked the last Jewish tribe based on the suspicion that they had plotted with the Meccan enemies against Muslims. Unlike the previous two Jewish tribes that had been simply expelled from the city, this time all the men of the tribe were put to death and the women and children were sold into slavery.

Now to the present day: Even though Ayatollah Khomeini belonged to the Shiite sect of Islam, he was generally regarded as an exemplary muslim of our time. Following the steps of the prophet of Allah in establishing an Islamic state, Khomeini slaughtered more people during the first few years of his reign than were killed during all the years of his predecessor, Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi. After all the massacres of non-Muslims in Persia (present day Iran), Khomeini said: "In Persia no people have been killed so far - only beasts!"

On another occasion, this servant of Allah said: "The purest joy in Islam is to kill and be killed for Allah". Early in 1984, Khomeini was quoted as saying: "In order to achieve the victory of Islam in the world, we need to provoke repeated crises, restore value to the idea of death and martyrdom. If Iran has to vanish, that is not important. The important thing is to engulf the world in crises". From our studies of the Quran so far, was Khomeini sounding un-quranic or un-allahic?

In surah (4:89), Allah commands that any person who leaves Islam or encourages others to do so, should be seized and slain. That is the main reason why muslims are very much afraid to being converted to christianity in a muslim country.

In Islamic countries, it is lawful for a muslim to convert a christian to Islam, but illegal, and in fact, a serious crime for a christian to attempt to convert a muslim to Christianity. In some countries, the christian preachers may face a death penalty.

Christianity is blasphemed by all true Muslims today and without any consequence. On the other hand, you cannot say anything bad about Islam without fear of death. Take Salman Rushdie as one example. The woman from India (who just spoke against Islamic law) is in fear of her life. Then we have that 12 year old boy from Pakistan. They were going to execute him on suspicion that he said something bad about Muhammad. And then you have the persecution of Christians by Muslims in Africa, Indonesia, and the Phillipines as other examples. I hear about these attrocities from the missionaries that report back. The muslims that do these things are not fanatical. They are just following the precepts of the Quran.

According to surah (9:19), there are three things that attract more rewards than all others. These are: belief in Allah, belief in the last day, and jihad. These three supersede many other good deeds in Islam.

Saying anything bad about Muhammad invokes a strong response in Muslims. It has even resulted in the death or imprisonment of some Christians throughout the world. Its a good thing that Christians do not respond in kind when Muslims blaspheme Christ and the Bible with their attacks.

Since Al-Kadhi put large emphasis on the letters Muhammad supposedly wrote to various emperors, please also see the article on Muslim tradition on Heraclius' response to Muhammad's invitation.

About Muhammad

The Rebuttal to "What Did Jesus Really Say?"
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