By Randall A. Terry
As we recoil in disgust at the brutal decapitations and mass murder taking place in Iraq and Syria at the hands of ISIS – especially the murder of women, children, and non-combatants – many of us step back and say; “Why? Why do they do this?”
The answer lies in the history of early Islam, and its founder, Muhammad. ISIS leaders and “mujahidin” are following the narrative left behind by Muhammad.
It is safe to say that vast majority of Americans have little or no knowledge of Muhammad. The central themes of his teachings are a mystery to us, and the details of his life are even more alien to our knowledge and experience. However, Muhammad's vision of the Almighty and his specific directives to his followers are binding on all Muslims, and are indispensible to understanding Islam and the deeds of ISIS.
Muhammad is the central figure, hero, and example of the Islamic faith. Doing the will of Allah as revealed to and exemplified by Muhammad is the duty of all Muslims. Hence, studying Muhammad’s words and deeds will help us understand Islam in general, and give clarity to the events happening in Iraq.
The Quran teaches that Muhammad was the best example of a Muslim. What he did (or did not do) is to be imitated by all Muslims.
Hence, a vast record of Muhammad’s words and deeds that are not found in the Quran – called the Haddith, or the Sunnah, of the “Traditions of the Prophet” – form the foundation for accepted behavior of Muslims. Moreover, three “canonical histories” of Muhammad’s life (used in this tract, and referenced at the end) lay out an extensive history of Muhammad’s life, based upon the Haddith. These sources, in conjunction with the Quran, form the basis for Sha’ria Law, and acceptable Muslim behavior.
Muslim Scholar S. A. Nigossian states:
The Islamic devotion to the Sunnah or the Hadith – or the Traditions of the Prophet as they are also called – is universal, from small and great, rich and poor, layman and cleric, subjects and ruler; “…the Hadith has been to Muslims as vital a source of spiritual guidance as the Quran. For Muslims, to reject the Hadith is to reject the Quran. Hadith, the Quran, and the prophet Muhammad are inseparable…” (Nigosian, 84, Emphasis added).
Let us study ISIS in the light of Muhammad’s life.
The revered Muslim historian - Ibn Ishaq - recounts the killing of "the enemy of God" named Ka'b son of al-Ashraf (page 365). After Muhammad won a seminal military victory at Badr, Ka'b "began to inveigh against the apostle…" Ka’b wrote and declared verses of poetry insulting Muhammad and Islamic women.
Muhammad said, "Who will rid me of the son of Ashraf?" Muhammad son of Maslama said, 'I will deal with him for you, O apostle of God, I will kill him.' He said, 'Do so if you can.'" Muhammad then gave the assassin permission to lie and deceive the target of his wrath. The killer recruited the victim's foster brother, who had become a Muslim to help him commit murder. With the foster brother having the victim's confidence, they led him on a midnight stroll pretending to conduct business with him. On signal, they lunged on him. The assassin reported: "I thrust [my dagger] into the lower part of his body, then I bore down upon it until I reached his genitals, and the enemy of God fell to the ground... Our attack upon God's enemy cast terror among the Jews, and there was no Jew in Medina who did not fear for his life" (368, Ibn Ishaq)
An anti-Semitic rage emerged from Muhammad’s heart, because the Jews refused to accept that Muhammad was a prophet. This rage resulted in Muhammad ordering the murder of hundreds of Jews. For example, Ibn Ishaq records the following: "The apostle said, 'Kill any Jew that falls into your power.' Thereupon Muhayyisa son of Mas'ud leapt upon Ibn Sunayna, a Jewish merchant with whom he had social and business relations, and killed him."
These murders and assassinations cast “terror” into the hearts of the living, which resulted in multitudes “becoming Muslims” in fear for their lives.
For example, in the above story, the assassin's older brother's name was Huwayyisa; he was outraged that his younger brother had murdered his business and social associate, Ibn Sunayna. Ishaq says, "When Muhayyisa killed him [Ibn Sunayna] Huwayyisa [the older brother] began to beat him, saying, 'You enemy of God, did you kill him when much of the fat on your belly comes from his wealth?'" His brother answered, ‘Had the one who ordered me to kill him ordered me to kill you I would have cut your head off...’” The older brother replied, "'By God, if Muhammad had ordered you to kill me would you have killed me?' He said, 'Yes, by God, had he ordered me to cut off your head I would have done so.' He exclaimed, 'By God, a religion which can bring you to this is marvelous!' and he became a Muslim." (Emphasis added.)
As stated, this chilling account shows a direct connection between the assassination of an innocent man and the "conversion" of an unbeliever. It was not the content of Muhammad's message that convinced this man, but it was the passionate obedience of his younger brother that shocked him into the Islamic faith. He knew that if this faith could cause his younger brother to decapitate him, then Islam was something to be dreaded and obeyed.
Islamic history repeatedly makes a direct connection between the sword and conversion. Tragically, we shall now see that women are not exempt from Muhammad’s brutality.
The following record of two other assassinations proves the point. A man named Abu 'Afak was upset when Muhammad killed a man ‘Afak respected, so he (Abu 'Afak) spoke out against Muhammad with verses of poetry. Muhammad said the oft repeated words, "Who will deal with this rascal for me?" whereupon one of his associates went and murdered the man. (Ibn Ishaq, 675)
When Abu 'Afak was assassinated for publicly speaking against Muhammad's killing of another man, Asma daughter of Marwan spoke out against Muhammad, and against Abu 'Afak's murder.
Ishaq records: "When the apostle heard what she had said he said, 'who will rid me of Marwan's daughter?' Umayr... who was with him heard him, and that very night he went to her house and killed her. In the morning he came to the apostle and told him what he had done and he said, 'You have helped God and his apostle, O Umayr!' When he asked if he would have to bear any evil consequences the apostle said, 'Two goats won't butt their heads about her...'" (Ibn Ishaq, 675)
Her murder caused a great commotion amongst her friends, family and people of her Tribe, the Khatma. As was the pattern and intent, Ibn Ishaq says that her murder led to the conversion of many unbelievers. He states, "She had five sons, and when Umayr went to them from the apostle he said, 'I have killed the daughter of Marwan, O sons of Khatma. Withstand me if you can; don't keep me waiting.' That was the first day that Islam became powerful among the tribe of Khatma... the day after the daughter of Marwan was killed the men of Khatma became Muslims because they saw the power of Islam." (Ibn Ishaq, 676)
Note that these conversions took place because a non-Muslim woman was murdered in her bed, and the assassin then defied her sons. This was “the power of Islam.” (Think ISIS.)
Muhammad also slaughtered prisoners with his own sword. Ibn Ishaq records that Muhammad possessed prisoners after the battle of Uhud that he "killed with his own hand." (Ibn Ishaq, 403) The histories I have read give little detail about the event, but they record it, as well as Muhammad’s pride when he told his daughter that his sword “served him well” that day. This is a key incident (as is the one that follows) because it shows Muhammad himself, not merely killing in battle, but then killing prisoners and hostages.
The last illustration I will relay is the tragic story of the Jewish tribe of the Qurayza. These Jewish families lived in the Medina area, and had coexisted with Muhammad for a few years in relative peace. Their leader secretly joined a Confederacy against Muhammad that came to nothing. None of the Jews in question bore arms against Muhammad in battle.
Muhammad learned The Jews surrendered, and agreed to allow Muhammad to appointment of a referee to negotiate a settlement between them and the Muslims. (Muhammad had offered them the chance to them to become Muslims and thereby avoid all ramifications, but they refused the offer.) The Jews anticipated that they would lose their property, and be allowed to emigrate from Medina into Syria or perhaps another neighboring country.
The Muslim referee specifically obtained a promise from Muhammad that Muhammad himself would honor his decision concerning the Jews of Qurayza. Once Muhammad agreed, the referee pronounced his verdict: "Then I give judgment that the men should be killed, the property divided, and the women and children taken as captives." Ibn Ishaq, 464) Muhammad's response was again pivotal in the theology, history, and the spread of Islam for centuries to come. He stated in the presence of all who had gathered: "You have given the judgment of Allah above the seven heavens." (Ibn Ishaq, 464)
The narration continues: “Then the apostle [Muhammad] went out to the market of Medina (which is still its market today) and dug trenches in it. Then he sent for them and struck off their heads in those trenches as they were brought up to him in batches. Among them was the enemy of Allah Huyayy (over) (cont.) son of Akhtab and Ka'b son of Asad their chief. There were 600 or 700 in all, though some put the figure as high as 800 or 900…This went on until the apostle made an end of them." (Ibn Ishaq, 464)
Please note that Muhammad is squarely at the center of the event. The passage says the apostle dug the ditch and struck off their heads; the apostle made an end of them. Muhammad was not a bystander, helplessly watching an angry mob gone out of control; he was an active participant in this massacre.
This event was seminal; it must not be ignored or glossed over. Every ancient Islamic historian – and modern day terrorist - embraces this atrocity as a great victory for Islam. The Quran heralds this massacre as a glorious testament to the expansion of Islam: "And he caused those people of the book (the Jews), who aided the Confederates, to come down out of their fortresses, and cast dismay into their hearts: some ye slew, others ye took prisoners. And he gave you their land, and their dwellings, and their wealth, for an heritage--even a land on which ye had never set foot: for the might of God is equal to all things." (Sura 33: 26,27)
The scene of Muhammad standing over hundreds of lifeless old men, innocent teenagers, strong fathers and husbands – all decapitated - with their bodies being pushed into ditches - this scene is being repeated right now in Iraq by ISIS.
Children became orphans and were sold as slaves. Women were robbed of their husbands, their children, and their homes in a single moment of time. They too became slaves and chattel property.
Muhammad took one of the widows as his sex slave. I repeat: when the spoils of Qurayza were divided, Muhammad took a Jewish women – Rayhanah by name – as his sex slave, owning here until he died: “…she remained his concubine; when he predeceased her, she was still in his possession” (al-Tabari, Vol VIII, pg 39).
If one accepts Islam, one must believe that these murders, the slaughter of the Jewish men, the spoiling of their goods, the enslaving of their children and wives by the Muhammad and his followers were righteous acts before God. It is part of the fiber and foundation of Islam. This is how Islam was established, how converts were made, and how Muslims conquered or dispersed all other religions in Arabia in the lifetime of Muhammad and his associates.
These events serve as lessons and warnings. We see an offer to believe in Allah and accept Muhammad as the messenger of God. If that is rejected, it is followed by the murder of those who reject Muhammad, the slaughter of innocent non-combatants, the theft of their property, and the enslavement of their families. This is exactly what is happening right now in Iraq at the hand of devout Muslims in ISIS. These men are following the example laid down in the life and times of Muhammad.
When Nicholas Berg was decapitated, his murderer stated: "Allah has left us an example in the blessed Prophet [Muhammad] with the slow cutting of the prisoners’ necks, and the cutting off of their heads." (Emphasis added.) The murderers in Irag who are decapitating journalists are men who know their Islamic heritage, and the example left to them by Muhammad and his early companions.
ISIS terrorists believe – based upon the Quran and the examples from Muhammad’s life – that the mass murders, decapitations, sexual assaults and slavery, etc., will lead the fearful in Iraq and Syria to convert to Islam, and will help establish Sha’ria law there, and ultimately, around the world. As incomprehensible or bizarre as it may sound, they are evangelizing, and suppressing “idolatry” and “heresy” in the mode of Muhammad. They truly believe they are doing God a service, and that He will reward them in this life with victory, and in the next life with abundant honors.
I leave it to you, the reader, to ponder how we respond to ISIS, and to Islam itself. Those who declare that Islam is a “religion of peace” are partly correct. We can have “peace” with Islam if we convert and obey; or we can have peace in our graves, after they have decapitated us.
The Life of the Prophet Muhammad. Ibn Kathir. Volume II, Translated by Professor Trevor LeGassick. Garnet publishing.
The Koran. Translated from the Aribic by J.M. Rodwell
The Life of Muhammad. A translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasol Allah. Oxford University Press.
Al-Tabari, Volume VIII, New York University Press
A Short History of Islam, S.F. Mahmud, Oxford University Press
Nigosian, S. A. “Islam: Its History, Teaching, and Practices.” Indiana University Press, Bloomington, IN, USA. 2004.
Permission granted to reprint. To learn more about Muhammad’s Life, historic Islam, and Sha’ria Law, go to www.VoiceOfResistance.com
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