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Prophets of God – Part 2

The Patriarch Prophet Abraham(as) whose progenies include Judaic prophets and Jesus(as) and the Ishmaelite branch left an indelible imprint on the future of mankind.

27The Review of Religions – February 2006 Armed conflict, war and threats of war were forced constantly on the Prophet(sa). After he migrated to Madinah, the pagans of Makkah and the Jews of Madinah, encouraged by the hypocrites, busily plotted against Islam. They inspired hatred against Muslims and worked pagan Arabs up to a fever pitch against the Holy P r o p h e t( s a ). All the defensive actions the Muslims were forced to take, obstructed the Prophet’s(sa) basic mission. Muslims needed peace but, as our examination will show, that peace was deliberately disturbed to prevent them from spreading the new faith. 1 . I s l a m ’s enemies used every means of communication against Islam. For the Arabs, poets were historians, genealogists, satirists, moralists and founts of wisdom1. The poet was the ‘kindler of battle’2 and ‘the journalist of the time’.3 The Ansar (the Muslims of Madinah) were accused of dishonouring themselves by submitting to an outsider. Asma bint Marwan of Umayyah b. Zayd composed verses taunting and insulting Medinite Muslims. She said: ‘Cowards4 of Malik and Nabit And cowards of Awf and Khazraj You obey a stranger who does not belong to you Who is neither a Murad nor a Mad’hij5 Do you – when your own chiefs have been murdered – hope in him Like the greedy people looking towards a cooking pot of meal soup? Is there no man of honour among you who will take advantage of an unguarded moment Rebuttal of Maududian Philosophy – Part 3 This is the third extract from the Murder in the Name of Allah by Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, dealing with Maulana Maududi’s misinterpretation of the Islamic concept of Jihad. 28 The Review of Religions –February 2006 And cut off the gulls’ hopes?’6 The centenarian poet of Khazrajite class, Abu Afale, taunted the Medinites with the following verses: ‘I have lived a long time, but I have never seen Either a house or gathering of people More loyal and faithful to Its allies, when they call on them, Than those of the Children of Qayla7 as a whole. The mountains will crumble before they submit. Yet here is a rider come among them who has divided them. (He says) ‘This is permitted, this is forbidden’ To all kinds of things But if you had believed in power And in might, why did you not follow Tubba?’8 Tubbas were south Arabian kings of great reputation. Abu Afak, in effect, asked the Ansar, ‘Once you resisted Tubba, now what has happened to you that you have accepted the claims of a Makkah refugee?’ While Asma and Abu Afak were putting the Ansar to shame, the Jewish poet Ka’b b. al- Ashraf9, enraged by the Muslim victory at Badr, went all the way to Makkah to rouse the Quraish against the Holy Prophet(sa). He played on the Arab weakness for vengeance: ‘Badr’s mill ground out the blood of its people. At events like Badr you should weep and cry. The best people were killed round their cisterns. D o n ’t think it strange that princes were left lying How many noble, handsome men, The refuge of the homeless, were slain, Liberal when the stars gave no rain.10 2 . The vendetta, as we have observed earlier, was one of the pillars of pre-Islamic Arab s o c i e t y. So, whenever a pagan combatant was killed by a Muslim in armed conflict, his heirs took an oath to avenge his death and the whole tribe accused Islam of his death. The fact that conflicts were REBUTTAL OF MAUDUDIAN PHILOSOPHY – PART 2 29The Review of Religions – February 2006 initiated by pagans themselves was conveniently forgotten. 3. The Holy Prophet’s(sa) mission was restricted to a small area of Arabia because of the general hostility to him. Missionaries could not take the message of Islam to the whole of the peninsula. 4 . Many Arabs had accepted Islam, but fear of war made them afraid to declare their new faith. 5. Conversion to a new religion requires commitment and courage, even when honour and life itself are not at risk. Here, acceptance of Islam demanded more than the joining of a religious society: it meant taking up arms in its defence. Since Muslims at this time were unarmed and weak, it was suicide to join them. 6. Self-defence kept the Muslims so busy that very little time was left for spreading the faith. If our premise is correct, the ending of hostilities should have immediately boosted the spread of Islam. As we shall see, this is exactly what happened. Makkah was conquered in January 630. That, according to the orientalists and enemies of Islam, was the turning-point in Islamic history. If that were true, one could indeed say that the sword had played a role in the spread of Islam. But history tells a rather different story. Hostilities between the Muslims and the pagan Arabs ended with the truce of Al-Hudaybiah11 (March 628). The terms of the truce appeared to be so degrading that ‘Umar could not contain himself, and asked the Prophet( s a ): ‘Why yield we in such lowly wise against the honour of our religion?’ The Makkans thought it was a victory. But it was this respite from armed conflict which gave the Holy Prophet( s a ) m u c h more time to spread the faith. The extent of his success can be gauged by the 10,000 Muslims who marched to Makkah with him in January 630. Previously, his l a rgest force had been 3000 men. This was the strength of the Muslim army which defended Madinah when it was besieged by an army of 10,000 pagan Arabs.35 The additional 7000 men were REBUTTAL OF MAUDUDIAN PHILOSOPHY – PART 2 30 The Review of Religions –February 2006 obviously converted to Islam during the two-year truce. People like Amr b. aI-As and Khalid b. Walid were converted at this time. The success of this peaceful penetration by Islam was so great that a puzzled Montgomery Watt counts it ‘among the impon- derabilia’ and adds: ‘Foremost among the reasons for this success of Muhammad’s was the attractiveness of Islam and its relevance as a religious and social system to the religious and social needs of the Arabs.13 Watt also says, as if directly addressing Maulana Maududi himself: ‘Had Muhammad not been able to maintain and strengthen his hold on the Muslims by the sway of religious ideas of Islam over their imaginations, and had he not been able to attract fresh converts to Islam, the treaty of Al-Hudaybiah would not have worked in his favour… Any historian who is not biased in favour of materialism must also allow as factors of supreme importance Muhammad’s belief in the message of the Q u r’an, his belief in the structure of Islam as a religious and political system, and his unflinching devotion to the task to which, as he believed, God had called him . . . This expedition and treaty mark a new initiative on the part of Muhammad.14 It is sad to note that while an orientalist puts the Holy Prophet’s(sa) success down to ‘the sway of the religious ideas of Islam’, a leading Muslim of Maulana Maududi’s stature insists that it was through the sway of the sword after the battle of Hunayn that teeming thousands of Arabs accepted Islam. If these were the people whose souls were cleansed with the blade of the sword, then these were also the people who were the first to revolt after the Prophet’s(sa) death. That answer to the Maulana’s argument, however, does not explain the revolt. In the past, travel was difficult. There were no roads and therefore o n e ’s safety could not be guaranteed. It was, therefore, impossible for every Arab to come to the Prophet(sa) to learn about Islam at first hand, nor for the REBUTTAL OF MAUDUDIAN PHILOSOPHY – PART 2 31The Review of Religions – February 2006 Prophet(sa) to visit every region of the peninsula. The Arab custom was that either a tribal delegation would be sent to the Prophet(sa) or a Muslim delegation would be sent to the tribes to deliver the message of Islam. There were discussions and debates, and after every question had been asked, the tribe accepted whatever the members of the delegation or the elders of the tribe decided. So there was a large number of converts who had no opportunity of benefiting directly from the P r o p h e t ’s(sa) teaching; they had never even seen him. They did not even have the chance to spend time with the Prophet’s( s a ) Companions. Religion is a personal experience and is learned especially by example and inspi- ration – things not available to the new converts. Misfortune was compounded by the death of the Holy Prophet(sa) soon after their conversion. The Arab horizon was more than a little darkened by the passing away of Muhammad(sa). We can learn a great deal from that period of history. When people reject the prophet of their time and extinguish his light by force, they are severely punished for it. One result of that punishment is that most people see the light of iman (belief) when the source of that light is about to be extinguished. Sometimes people only recognise a prophet long after his death. What a punishment! To persecute a prophet while he is alive; to accept him only after he has gone. Since Maulana Maududi joined the worst enemies of Islam by arguing that the sword played a part in the preaching of Islam, let us re-examine the Prophet’s(sa) life to see if at any stage people were converted against their will. The division of the Holy Prophet’s(sa) life into two periods, the Makkan and the Madinite, seems logical, but it is in reality an o v e r-simplification. After the Hijrah, the Prophet( s a ) and the Emigrants had escaped perse- cution, but the struggle for survival was not over. It would be more logical to divide the Prophet’s(sa) life into three phases: the first being the time up to his migration to Madinah, and the second the time from his migration to the truce of REBUTTAL OF MAUDUDIAN PHILOSOPHY – PART 2 32 The Review of Religions –February 2006 Hudaybiyah, which was also a period of persecution; the third from the truce to the surrender of Makkah. (Though the Muslims were allowed to fight back, they were no match for the pagan opposition. Madinah was the only town where Muslims lived, but they did not control it The three Jewish tribes and the non-Muslim members of the Aws and the Khazraj dominated the town. The size of the opposing armies at the battle of Badr15 represented their actual strength. Therefore, this period should be considered an extension of the Makkan period of bitter struggle.) The third period begins with the truce of Hudaybiyah and ends with the surrender of Makkah. It was a period of peace. The Makkan pagans did not attack the Muslims, though a few skirmishes took place with the Jews and some Arab tribes who broke their agreements with the Muslims. The first period of persecution lasted thirteen years. During that time there was no question of conversion by force. Even the orientalists agree with that. In fact, people accepted Islam in spite of Makkan persecution. Muslims who accepted Islam in Makkah at that time are known as Muhajirs (Emigrants) and it is an historical fact that no Emigrant was unwillingly converted. The Muslims offered armed resistance during the second period of their persecution. A critic might think that during that armed conflict at least some might have been forced into accepting Islam. But the history of the period is fully documented. The majority of Muslims in Madinah belonged to two Arab tribes, the Aws and the Khazraj. These were the people who had invited the Holy Prophet( s a ) to Madinah. When they met him at Aqbah, he said: ‘I make with you this pact on condition that the allegiance you pledge me shall bind you to protect me even as you protect your women and children.’ The Khazrajite chief, Barm, who rose to reply, took the Prophet’s(sa) hand and said: ‘By Him who sent thee with the truth, we will protect thee as we protect them. So accept the pledge of our allegiance, O REBUTTAL OF MAUDUDIAN PHILOSOPHY – PART 2 33The Review of Religions – February 2006 Messenger of God, for we are men of war, possessed of arms that have been handed down from father to son.’ These were the people who travelled all the way from Yathrib (Madinah) to Makkah to off e r their swords to the Prophet(sa) and who are now known as Ansar (Helpers). A few Jews in Madinah and a small number of Arabs from outlying towns also became Muslims, but none of them accepted their new faith under duress or as a result of armed conflict. During this period, the spread of lslam in Makkah was relentless and, despite greater persecution, the Makkan Arabs continued to accept Islam. Again, force did not enter into it. The conversion of prisioners-of- war is the only remotely possible exception. Before we look at it, let us clear up one misunderstanding. The words ghazwah and sariyah do not mean ‘war’ or even ‘armed conflict’. They only mean ‘an expedition’. Scouts, patrols, missions, rescue parties, the chasing of highwaymen – even a single Companion’s journey to preach – are grouped under these titles. Expeditions were known as sariyah; if the Prophet(sa) himself led them, as ghazwah. F o r instance, the first expedition the Prophet(sa) led was to Al-Abwa, where his mother was buried. He was accompanied by sixty Muhajirs. The Holy Prophet( s a ) stayed there for a few days and signed a treaty of friendship with the chief of the Banu Damrah. Soon after, the Prophet(sa) had to follow Kurz alFihri. As Wa t t points out: ‘It was an attempt to punish a freebooter of the neighbouring region for stealing some of the Madinite pasturing camels.’16 The expedition, again in the words of Watt, ‘illustrates the dangers against which he (the Holy Prophet”) had to be constantly on guard’ .17 There were about fifty such expeditions between Hijrah and the truce of Hudaybiyah. Of them, three conflicts assumed the dimensions of fullscale war. Badr, Uhud and Ahzab. In the armed conflict with B. Mustaliq over 100 prisoners were taken, but all of REBUTTAL OF MAUDUDIAN PHILOSOPHY – PART 2 34 The Review of Religions –February 2006 them were freed without ransom. In some minor expeditions where one or two prisoners were seized, they too were released without any conditions. It was at the battle of Badr that seventy-two prisoners-of-war were taken. Two of them were executed for past crimes; the rest were freed after a ransom was paid. That, in some cases, was limited only to teaching the children of Ansar how to read and write. The third period began with the truce of Hudaybiyah and ended with the surrender of Makkah. Twenty-two expeditions were made during this period. Of them, only three conflicts saw any prisoners-of-war being taken. The P r o p h e t( s a ) had sent Dihyah b. Khalifah al-Kalbi as an envoy to C a e s a r. On his return journey, Dihyah was robbed of Byzantine presents he was carrying for the Holy Prophet( s a ), by Al-Hunayd and other members of the tribe of Jurham. The Prophet(sa) sent an expedition under Zayd b. Haritha to punish Al-Hunayd and his allies. The prisoners taken in the resulting skirmish were freed after they repented. Bashir b. Sad successfully led an expedition against the Ghatfan, who were in alliance with the Jews of Madinah and the pagans of Makkah. A small number of prisioners were taken, but it is not known what happened to them. Similarly, an expedition was sent to punish B. Bani Kilab. A group of B. Uraynah, who lived among the B. Kilab, came in distress to Madinah and accepted Islam. As they were suffering from a fever, they were sent to the Prophet’s(sa) pasture grounds to enjoy good food and milk. But, when they recovered their strength, they cruelly killed the herdsmen and stole fifteen camels. They were punished. There was probably a small number of prisoners, but the details are not known. This rather detailed examination shows that from the Hijrah to the surrender of Makkah, not a single p r i s o n e r-of-war was forced to convert. There is no evidence to suggest that the filth of their soul was removed by the blade of the sword. Rather, these prisoners were allowed to return to their paganism. REBUTTAL OF MAUDUDIAN PHILOSOPHY – PART 2 35The Review of Religions – February 2006 The final period of the Holy P r o p h e t ’s( s a ) life began with M a k k a h ’s surrender – or the day of the conquering of hearts. That Islamic victory over the Makkans conclusively proved that the spreading of Islam was not even remotely connected with violence. Not one person was converted by f o r c e . Abu Sufyan, the arch-enemy of Islam, who became a Muslim on the eve of the Prophet’s ( s a ) triumphant entry into Makkah, watched the Muslim army from a vantage point near the city. The Holy Prophet’s( s a ) uncle, Abbas, was with him. What Abu Sufyan saw there has been vividly described by Martin Lings: ‘ Troop after troop went by, and, at the passing of each, Abu Sufyan asked who they were, and each time he marvelled, either because the tribe in question had hitherto been far beyond the range of influence of Quraish, or because it had recently been hostile to the Prophet, as was the case with the Ghatafanite clan of Ashja, one of whose ensigns was borne by Nuaym, the former friend of himself and Suhayl. “Of all the Arabs,” said Abu Sufyan, “These were Muhammad’s bitterest foes.” “God caused Islam to enter their hearts,” said Abbas. “All this is by the grace of God.”’18 Was it the sword which converted them? And when the Prophet(sa) entered Makkah with his 10,000 men, did he avenge the thirteen- year persecution? The idea of settling scores was certainly in the minds of some. When Sad ibn Ubada saw Abu Sufyan he said: ‘O Abu Sufyan, this is the day of slaughter: the day when the inviolable shall be violated: the day of God’s abasement of Quraish.’ When Abu Sufyan repeated to the Holy Prophet(sa) what Sad had said, the Prophet(sa) replied: ‘This is the day of mercy, the day on which God has exalted Quraish.’ A general amnesty was proclaimed. Using the words of J o s e p h( a s ), as reported in the Qur’an, Muhammad(sa) said: REBUTTAL OF MAUDUDIAN PHILOSOPHY – PART 2 36 The Review of Religions –February 2006 Verily I say as my brother Joseph said, this day there shall be no reproach on you. May Allah forgive you. He is the Most Merciful of all those who show mercy. (Ch.12:V.93) Washington Irving, by no means a sympathetic observer of Islam, describes the Holy Prophet’s( s a ) entry into Makkah in the following way: ‘The sun was just rising as he entered the gates of his native c i t y, with the glory of a conqueror, but the garb and humility of a pilgrim. He entered, repeating verses of the Koran, which he said had been revealed to him at Medina, and were prophetic of the event. He triumphed in the spirit of a religious zealot, not a warrior.19 Makkan leaders who opposed the Prophet(sa) with every means at their disposal were not only magnanimously pardoned but also, as even Montgomery Watt admits: ‘were not forced to become Muslims; they and doubtless many others remained pagan, at least till after Al- J i r a n a h ’ .2 0 Maxime Rodinson agrees with Watt: ‘No man seems to have felt under constraint to embrace Islam.’21 Had there been even the remotest hint of conversion by force in our primary sources of hadith o r sirah, the critics of Islam would have had a field day. Now compare again the opinions of Irving, Watt and Rodinson with what Maulana Maududi said on the subject ‘When every method of persuasion failed, the Prophet(sa) took to the sword. That sword removed evil and mischief and the filth of the soul.’ The conquest of Makkah will be engraved on the pages of history forever. That day will continue to absolve the Prophet(sa) – the Mercy for Mankind – from charges of violence and force which Maulana Maududi has imputed to him. That a non-Muslim orientalist, Stanley Lane-Poole, should have to put right Maududi’s mistake is a tragedy of great magnitude which should sadden the heart of every Muslim. Lane-Poole says: REBUTTAL OF MAUDUDIAN PHILOSOPHY – PART 2 37The Review of Religions – February 2006 ‘The day of Muhammad’s greatest triumph over his enemies was also the day of his grandest victory over himself. He freely forgave the Quraish all the years of sorrow and cruel scorn to which they had inflicted him, and gave an amnesty to the whole population of Makkah.22 The last phase of the Prophet’s( s a ) life begins with Makkah’s conquest and ends with his death. There were seven expeditions during this time. There was no fighting at all in three of them and no prisoners were taken. In the remaining four, more than 6000 prisoners were seized. What happened to these prisoners? M a u d u d i ’s logic would lead us to believe that this would have been the perfect occasion for removing filth from prisoners’ souls and converting them to Islam. History tells us something diff e r e n t . At the battle of Hunayn, 6000 prisoners were taken. The Holy P r o p h e t( s a ) had spent his infancy with one of the clans of this tribe as a foster child. Among the prisoners, an old woman protested to her captor saying, ‘By God, I am the sister of your chief!’ The woman was produced before the Holy Prophet( s a ), who realised it was indeed one of his foster- sisters, Shayma’. The Prophet( s a ) spread his rug and bade her be seated. With tears in his eyes, he asked about Halimah, his foster- m o t h e r. There was no word of reproach. The Prophet( s a ) did not ask why the tribe had not thought of its foster-son before going to w a r. Instead, he said: ‘So far those who have fallen unto me and unto the sons of Abd ul-Muttalib, they are yours; and I will plead with other men on your behalf.’ When other Muslims heard about this they said: ‘What belongs to us, belongs to the Holy Prophet( s a ), and they immediately presented their captives to him. Thus all 6000 prisoners were freed. The sword played no part in their conversion. The Holy Prophet ( s a ) gave his f o s t e r-sister camels, sheep and goats as presents. Harith, the brother of the Holy Prophet’s( s a ) f o s t e r- f a t h e r, insisted that the whole tribe of Hawazin be considered his foster- k i n s m e n . Their leader, Malik, who had REBUTTAL OF MAUDUDIAN PHILOSOPHY – PART 2 38 The Review of Religions –February 2006 escaped to Taif, was recalled and given 100 camels. The Holy P r o p h e t( s a ) also put him in command of the already increasing Muslim community in Hawazin. Many others also received gifts. S i m i l a r l y, sixty-two prisoners were brought to Madinah from the expedition of Uyaynah b. Hisn. They asked for mercy and were released. In the expedition to Puis, a centre of idol worship, Adi, the leader of the opposing tribe, Tayy, escaped but one of his sisters was captured. When she was brought to Madinah she threw herself at the Prophet’s(sa) feet and begged for mercy. She said: ‘My father freed the prisoners, provided hospitality for guests, fed the hungry and gave comfort to those in distress. He never turned away anyone who came to his door seeking help. I am the daughter of Hatim.’ The Holy Prophet(sa) spoke kindly to her and ordered her release, saying: ‘Her father loved noble ways, and Allah likewise loves them.’ The Prophet(sa) gave her a camel and fine garments. Since she did not want to be released alone, all other captives taken with her were also freed. All this was done because she was the daughter of a great poet, whose hospitality and generosity made Arabs proud. When Adi heard of his sister’s treatment he entered Islam and the Holy Prophet ( s a ) confirmed his chieftancy of Tayy. Surveying the orientalists’ conflicting opinions about the Prophet’s(sa) personality, Maxime Rodinson has observed: ‘Everyone has shaped him after their own passions, ideas or f a n t a s i e s . ’2 3 This observation applies more to Maulana Maududi, a Muslim, than it does to non-Muslim orientalists. His passion for political authority was fed on his childhood impressions of fading Hyderabadi glory and strengthened by the political struggle of his younger days, when he first admired Gandhiji and then opposed Hindu communalism. This so dominated his thinking that in his account he converted the life of the Holy Prophets( s a ) – a blessing for all mankind – into that REBUTTAL OF MAUDUDIAN PHILOSOPHY – PART 2 39The Review of Religions – February 2006 of a warrior. . . a warrior putting the world to rights with the blade of a sword. Notes 1. Will Durant, The Age of Faith, op.dt., 1 5 9 . 2 . Joel Carmichael, The Shaping of the A r a b s, a Study In Ethnic Identity (New York,1967),3 8. 3 . Maxime Rodinson, M o h a m m e d, trans. Anne Carter (New York, 1971), 194. 4. The word used by Asma is much more a b u s i v e . 5. Two Yemenite tribes. 6 . Ibn Hisham, Kitab Sirat Rasul Allah, ed. F. Wustenfeld, 2 vols. (Gottingen, 1856-60), 995-6. 7 . The two Ansar tribes, the Aws and K h a z r a j . 8 . Ibn Hisham, op.dt., 995. The translation is by Anne Carter, in Maxime Rodinson, Mohammed, op.cit., 157. Like ‘Pharaoh’ (Egypt) and ‘Caesar’ (Rome), ‘Tubba’ was the name given to the ancient kings of south Arabia. 9 . K ’ a b ’s mother belonged to the Jewish tribe an-Nadir. Though his father was an Arab, he was accepted as a member of Banu an-Nadir. 1 0 . Ibn Hisham, o p . c i t ., 548-9; trans. A. Guillaume, The life of Muhammad (London: Oxford University Press, 1 9 7 0 ) . 11 . As the result of a dream, the Holy P r o p h e t(sa) decided to go on umrah (smaller pilgrimage) to Makkah with 1400 to 1600 men. He camped at the edge of the sacred territory of Makkah, at Al-Hudaybiyah, where envoys between Muslims and Makaans came and went. Finally, a truce was signed, forcing the Muslims to retreat that year on condition that they would be allowed to return to Makkah for hajj the following year. 1 2 . The battle of Ahzab or the Trench on 30 March 627. 1 3 . W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammad at M e d i n a, op.cit., 69. 1 4 . i b i d . , 5 1 – 2 . 1 5 . Muhammad Yusuf, o p . c i t., 363-4; and Mu Inuddin Aqil, o p . c i t., 27. 1 6 . W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammad at M e d i n a, op.cit., 4. 1 7 . i b i d . 1 8 . Martin Lings, Muhammad, his life Based on the Earliest Sourc e s ( L o n d o n : G e o rge Allen & Unwin, 1983), 297. 1 9 . Washington Irving, Mahomet and His S u c c e s s o r s, 2 vols. (New York: G.P. P u t m a n ’s Sons, 1868), vol. 1, 253. 2 0 . W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammad at Medina, op.cit. , 68. The valley of Jiranah is about ten miles from Makkah and the spoils of the battle of Hunayn were sent there to be stored. 2 1 . Maxime Rodinson, Mohammed, op.cit., 262. 22 Stanley Lane-Poole, Selections from the Q u r’an and Hadith , (Lahore: Sind Sagar Academy, n . d . ) , 2 8 . 23. Maxime Rodinson, M o h a m m e d , op.cit., 312. REBUTTAL OF MAUDUDIAN PHILOSOPHY – PART 2