Saturday, July 11, 2015

How Islam Was Born Decided Its Outlook

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                    
The dictionary defines  religion as:  the service and worship of God or the supernatural;  commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance;  a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices;  scrupulous conformity, conscientiousness, a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.
How Islam was created was quite different from Judaism or Christianity and even Buddhism.  Islam was founded upon conquest.  For nearly 1,000 years, it drew its lifeblood from war and expansion.  What happened to Christianity and Buddhism was that they were minority communities for 300 years at their beginnings and both experienced persecutions that have left indelible marks on them, and then they became oppressive and perpetrated war.

 Judaism started with Abraham's monotheistic belief and his family held onto that pretty much until about 400 years later when Moses led them out of Egypt from slavery.  They had to fight in Canaan to enter there, then settled down to follow the commandments of Moses which were of how to live with each other peacefully and worship G-d.  They would not have fought had they been met with friendly people in Canaan, but that was expecting a lot when 600,000 people entered the land uninvited.

Islam never experienced persecution and never experienced the feeling of a minority group, but only knew victory over other societies.  These facts have helped to create the Muslim attitude of superiority.  It led to making "others" living among them as 2nd class citizens or dhimmis.  From the position it started at with Mohammad, it started with pagan people, not monotheistic people affected by Abraham's revelation.  They were people believing in many gods and used idols that were in the Kaaba.  Mohammad seemed to be the only person recorded who bothered to listen to the stories of the Jews and Christians of Medina.
Christianity's First Crusaders 1096-9 to win Palestine from Moslems, but went through Europe killing the Jews in N. France, Rhineland, massacring them in Mainz, Worms, Speyer, Cologne, etc., later in Prague, Salonica, and etc.  There were about 4 Crusades.  
Judaism had experienced persecution right  from the beginning from Greeks and Romans. Then when Christianity was born about a 1,000 years later, the persecution continued on a grander scale for 2,000 years and it looks like it hasn't really stopped yet if you look at the UN decisions against Israel, for Israel is a Jewish country, attacked by Muslim countries because of its religion.

 Some of the Jewish people still have not shed its slave mentality in trying to appease their "Others."  For being the "Chosen" by G-d, most have never taken on a superiority complex like the Muslims.   Actually, Jews are more like Mr. Spock, in that other religions just don't compute. They are not logical to most Jews.    I guess I'm speaking for myself.  Now, I have Muslim friends, and they all do not act superior about their religion, not until a few have  tried  to convert me to their way of thinking, which has happened.   Jews had started a conversion policy in the beginning but was stopped in their tracks by the new Christian Church laws, and being a minority without a country, couldn't do anything but try to stay alive, so dropped it.
Mecca and the Kabba
 Getting back to Islam, however, Muhammad was not an accepted person in Mecca when he started to teach his new beliefs.  The first to convert was his faithful wife, Khadija.  Next was Ali bin Abu Talib, a little boy 10 years old who later became an important leader of Islam.  Like most who are not a hit in their own home town, and that goes for artists as well often times, he had to move out to Medina in 622 to find his willing. audience.  The largest Jewish community in Arabia was in Medina.  They may have arrived after the fall of the 2nd Temple in 70 CE.   The 3 main Jewish tribes were Banu el Nadir, Banu Kainuka and Banu Kuraiza who made a living by the cultivation of palm-groves and other callings.
He turned on the Jews when they didn't convert willingly.  Eventually, whole tribes of Jews were slaughtered.  Individuals converted.  Mohammad led raids on the large Quraysh caravans coming from Syria full of money and goods and had his followers rob them.  He told them that Allah told his followers to fight fiercely and behead their enemies.  "Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers in fight, smite at their necks...."  He hated the Quraysh, his own tribe, because they had rejected him and so he put a curse on them.  One of those cursed, Uqba, had once  thrown camel dung, blood and intestines on Mohammad when he was praying.  He probably had his head cut off as they did to another, Abu Johl.
Mohammed was born in 570 and died in 632. He was an orphan from the Quraysh tribe, part of the  Banu Hashim clan when but a small child and was raised by his Uncle Abu Talib.  They were pagans.   When a young man, he had accompanied the Meccan trade caravans and often met Jews and Christians who probably whet his interest in religion. The Quraysh, based in Mecca, happened to be the center of trade and pilgrimage as everyone passed through it.  Pilgrims came there to the local shrine, the Ka'bah, which housed many pagan idols-mainly the image of the god, Hubal.  Then there were the local gods as well.  Other idols identified with trees and stones near the Ka'bah.  One of these gods, "Allah," probably was a tribal god of the Quraysh.

 By age 40, he was thinking a lot about God, the hereafter, and the Day of Judgement which he seemed to think was close, just like we think this today.  He had learned that G-d revealed himself through prophets.   He felt he was the one chosen to be the Arab prophet because he said he had been visited by Gabriel, one of the angels.   His mission, he said, was to confirm what had been revealed to earlier prophets and to correct distortions.  He thought there was little difference between Judaism and his Islam and figured that Jews would be his first followers.  He must have been very disappointed when this did not happen.  The Jews of Medina were either eventually annihilated in attacks or expelled from the land.
One of his wives was Safia, (Safia bint Huyayy) , daughter of Huyayy bin Akhtab who had induced the Banu Qurayzah Jews to repudiate their alliance with Muhammad.  Muhammad killed Huyayy and the rest of the men of the Qurayzah tribe.  Safiyya's husband was Kinana ibn Rabi, who had just been tortured and killed by the warriors of Jihad.  She was  a Jewish woman, widow of a slain Jewish chieftain, taken captive, to possible position of slave, freed by Mohammad who married her after she promised to convert to Islam. Safia must have been very beautiful, because the killers of her husband said, "We have not seen the like of her among the captives of war,"  and that she was the chief-mistress of the ladies of the tribes of Quraiza and An-Nadir.    Mohammad had to fight to become recognized by the Arabian fighters and now took the best of the female captives as a wife.

We in the West see Islam in 3 parts;  religion, empire and culture.  The Muslims see themselves in one whole.  They believe Allah ordered their wars and attacks in order to expand.  Their soldiers were God's soldiers.  Muhammad was in the battles leading the charges of which Muslims take pride. They do not separate their religion from their actions.   Their picture of Mohammad is a man with a sword in his hand.  Mohammad was in the battle in 624 of Badr.  The end of the 1000s, Islam's armies did not have any major defeats.  Nobody had stopped their advances.
 The attack  at Khaybar, which is 93 miles from Medina,  in 629 between Muslims and Jews has not been forgotten by the Muslims.  It's their reason for hating Jews, their raison d'etre.    Mohammad led his men against the Khaybar oasis, inhabited by Jews who were exiles from Medina.  93 Jews were killed, farmers who were just working the oasis.  The invaders then looked for the Jews' wealth.  They beheaded the Jew they thought knew where it was hidden who wouldn't tell.  A hadith tells that "the Prophet had their warriors killed, their offspring and women taken as captives."  Later, during the caliphate of Umar (634-644), the Jews who remained at Khaybar were banished to Syria, and the rest of their land was seized.  "According to Francis Edwards Peters, "The Jews also began secretly to connive with Muhammad's enemies in Mecca to overthrow him."  This probably would have happened after  "Muhammad expelled from Medina the Banu Qaynuqa, one of the three main Jewish tribes."   The "Religion of Peace" has been led by the "Warrior Prophet."  

The background of this story is:  After they were sent into exile in 625 from Medina by Muslim forces, the Banu Nadir had settled in Khaybar. In 627, the Nadir chief Huyayy ibn Akhtab together with his son joined the Meccans and Bedouins besieging Medina during the Battle of the Trench. In addition, the Nadir paid Arabian tribes to go to war against the Muslims. Bribing Banu Ghatafan with half of their harvest, Banu Nadir secured 2,000 men and 300 horsemen from the tribe to attack Muhammad, and similarly persuaded the Bani Asad.  They attempted to get the Banu Sulaym attack the Muslims, but the tribe gave them only 700 men, since some of its leaders were sympathetic towards Islam.   Once the battle started, Huyayy ibn Akhtab persuaded the Banu Qurayza to go against their covenant with Muhammad and turn against him during the battle.   After the defeat of the confederates in the battle, and Qurayza's subsequent surrender, Huyayy (who was at that time in the Qurayza strongholds of Medina) was killed alongside the men of the Qurayza. After Huyayy's death, Abu al-Rafi ibn Abi al-Huqayq took charge of the Banu Nadir at Khaybar. Al-Huqayq soon approached neighboring tribes to raise an army against Muhammad.   After learning this, the Muslims, aided by an Arab with a Jewish dialect, assassinated him."
Arabs were overcome finally by the Saljuqs (Seljuks-a Turko-Persian Empire) from 1000 to 1194 whose capital was in Persia (Iran),  and other Turkish tribes had also become devout Muslims  and as it happened, actually helped to strengthen orthodoxy and unity  of the ummah ( the whole community of Muslims bound together by ties of religion.) under the prevailing caliph of Allah.  Every time these Muslims won a battle, they would believe that Allah was with them and that they were invincible.  In 1071 the Saljuqs defeated the Byzantine army in the battle of Manzikert and created a kingdom in Asia Minor.  The Muslims had high expectations.  They believed that their caliph was the first to bring the whole world under the rule of Allah and his Prophet, Mohammad.  One can see that Arabs and Iranian, or Sunni and Shi'as have been competing for about a l,000 years with each other.  
This must be the premise that IS is acting with.  They have even gone back to those primitive methods of fighting to act this out.  They have robbed banks and even kill Sunni Muslims who are not following the Salafist Way.

It seems that our religious leaders were truly men of primitive days and cultures. Evidently both heard a voice; Moses of G-d and Mohammad of the angel, Gabriel.   Moses had killed an overseer of slaves for his horrid treatment of beating those not working to suit him and then later during the Exodus, to have lost his temper by hitting a rock with a stick.  He, through G-d,  expected his people to show by example the religion of Judaism and that would be a light to the world.   Mohammad led charges in battle, ordered deaths of people and led in robbing caravans of his enemy.  He had ordered his people to convert by the sword.
 Many of his converts try to follow his example by copying his behaviors.  They do not seem to judge as "bad" what we see as "bad"  behaviors. Could it be  because they are not following the same set of laws? Would it also be true that those without any religion, the atheists, also have a different outlook of morality?  We have the idea that anyone, regardless of their religion,  follows basic right and wrong behaviors, that these things are inborn within us.  Perhaps not,  since Moses had to come along and teach such basic things as the 10 Commandments; such things such as killing others was wrong and robbing them and taking their things was also wrong.  

Textbook:  2nd Edition of Middle East Past & Present by Yahya Armajani, Thomas M. Ricks, Chapter 9, Islamic lands on the Defensive.
Webster's 7th New Collegiate Dictionary
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia; Mohammad
The Truth about Muhammad by Robert Spencer

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