Saturday, 18 April 2009

The Historical Context of the Battle of Badr and of Uhud

Context for 8:60, 47:4, 8:39 and 4:56 (jihadist verses)

Let’s give a look to these three verses, that are clearly belligerent, intended to create terror, killing (by beheading), and not time bound. They are all linked to the historical context of the battle of Badr. We will see how this helps to corroborate the very negative view about the term “jihad”.

Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of God and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom God doth know. Whatever ye shall spend in the cause of God, shall be repaid unto you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly. (8:60, Yussuf Ali)

Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens. Thus (are ye commanded): but if it had been God's Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); but (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the Way of God, - He will never let their deeds be lost.
(47:4, Yussuf Ali)

And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God altogether and everywhere; but if they cease, verily God doth see all that they do
. (8:39, Yussuf Ali)

istorical Context of the Battle of Badr (context for 8:60, 47:4, 8:39)

1. A Quraysh caravan comes from Syria to Mecca, funded with money raised from the sale of the belongings, of those who went off to join Muhammad
2. Muhammad intended to ambush/raid the caravan.
3. The caravan found out about Muhammad’s planned ambush, and so sent out a messenger to Mecca, to ask for reinforcements.
4. Quraysh sent an army out, to defend the caravan.
5. Muhammad learnt of the Quraysh reinforcements, but forced his men, to prepare for the arrival of the Quraysh
6. Muhammad ordered his men to fill-in all but one water source, and then defend the remaining water source, forcing the Quraysh to attack, in order to gain access to it.
7. Muhammad’s troops took a strong defensive position.
8. The Quraysh attacked, but lost the battle to Muhammad, despite having an army 3 times bigger than Muhammad.

Muslims claim that the battle of Badr was ‘purely of self-defence’ vs the aggressor/ oppressor Quraysh. But, Muhammad intended to raid the caravan (2) before the Quraysh even thought about attacking Muhammad. (3-4) The Quraysh then sent their troops ‘to defend the caravan’. (6) Muhammad provoked the Quraysh into attacking, by filling-in all the water sources (but 1), whilst defending the last one from the Quraysh. One can see that Muhammad was the true aggressor in this battle. The Quraysh were simply defending their caravan and were later provoked into attacking, in order to gain access to water. So if we consider this historical context, the verses 8:60, 47:4 and 8:39 are all in relation to a battle in which Muhammad was the true aggressor and provoker.

Historical Context: Battle of Uhud (The historical context for 4:56)

Those who reject our Signs, We shall soon cast into the Fire: as often as their skins are roasted through, We shall change them for fresh skins, that they may taste the penalty: for God is Exalted in Power, Wise. (4:56, Yussuf Ali)

1. The Quraysh desired to avenge their losses at Badr
2. The Quraysh also wanted to strike back at Muhammad, for raiding many Quraysh caravans and for generally being a mass-murdering marauder.
3. The Muslims readied for war, soon afterwards, and the two armies fought on the slopes and plains of Uhud.
4. The losses on the Muslim side were far greater than at Badr, but they still gained victory.

Note: Again, Muslims and apologists often claim that the battle of Uhud was ‘purely self-defence’ against the aggressor/oppressor beeing the Quraysh. Whilst technically the Muslims did act in self-defence here, the battle of Uhud was in response to the constant raids carried out by Muhammad as his followers (as in the case of Badr), as well as due to the fact that Muhammad was the true aggressor and provoker of the battle of Badr, thus making him a warlord as well as a marauder of caravans & people.

more analysis added on the verses for which an historical analysis has been given:

8:60 - “…to strike terror into the hearts of the enemies, of Allah and your enemies”.

This verse shows that that through a Qura’nic verse alone, Allah incites Muslims to terrorise, and that the terrorism carried out by Muslims today, is inspired by such verses, since Allah is literally commanding Muslims to terrorise their enemy. Note: Unlike Islamic apologists will argue, this verse does not command Muslims to ‘frighten’ their enemies, in hope that their enemy will retreat. Looking backwards in this chapter, for more context on what is meant by “Strike terror into the hearts of the unbelievers”, we refer to Qur’an 8:12, where we can see another example of this use of ‘Terror’ against unbelievers, with A saying:

I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them”.

The process is
1. Allah terrorises the unbelievers, and then
2. Muslims carry out violent acts against the unbelievers. The process is not:

1. Allah terrorises the unbelievers, and then
2. Muslims watch the unbelievers retreat.

There is a clear system here, which first begins with terrorism, and then ends in Muslims carrying out violent acts against the unbelievers. It is not, as apologists argue, that terrorism was used merely to make an enemy retreat, so as to avert having to fight any battle. 8:12’s use of terrorism is specifically accompanied with acts of violence.

So when we refer back to 8:60, where A commands Muslims to: “
strike terror into the hearts of the enemies, of A and your enemies”, he is (specifically) giving Muslims permission to do the terrorising, unlike in 8:12, where it is Allah doing the terrorising.

Furthermore, if we refer to Bukhari, we also find
Muhammad himself admitting that he has been made victorious with terror (Bukhari: 4.52.220). The historical context of 8:60 (And 8:12), places the verse(s) after the battle of Badr. The ‘enemies of Allah’, which are mentioned in the verse, were historically the Quraysh tribe (who fought them at Badr)

The verse does not simply apply to that time and people, but instead applies to ‘enemies of Allah’ (generally) and applies for all time. In a modern context, literally all non-Muslims can be argued to be ‘enemies of Alla’

4:56 - “Those who have disbelieved our signs, we shall roast them in fire: Whenever their skins are cooked to a turn, we shall substitute new skins for them, that they may feel the punishment: Verily Allah is sublime and wise”

1. Bukhari 4.52.176-177: Muhammad says “The Hour” (ie. The Islamic Resurrection and End of Time), is literally dependent on the killing of Jews by Muslims, that the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and that the rocks and trees will yell out to Muslims, to come and kill the Jews.

2. Jews as “Apes and Pigs”, inspired not by some random hatred of Jews, but in accordance with Qur'an 2:62-5, 5:59-60 and 7:166. These 2 relate to Qur’an 4:56, because 4:56 is about Jews, if you consider that verses 4:44-59 are a general censure against Jews. Verse 4:47 talks of Jews being accursed by Muhammad and ‘being transformed’ (Consequently into the ‘apes and pigs’, as noted above). Historical context of 4:56, places the verse after the battle of Uhud. Again, just as in the case of Badr it was the Quraysh army versus Muhammad’s army. The censure in chapter 4 of the Qur’an, against the Jews, is intended to denigrate them into the ‘apes and pigs’ and generally make the Jews appear ‘less human’. Again, since the Qur’an cannot change and that it applies forever, this censure remains a constant, and accounts for the modern anti-Semitism exhibited by Muslims today.

The historical context of providing a censure against the Jews of the Quraysh tribe has been applied in a modern context, to
all Jews, since the verse only states: “Those who have disbelieved our signs”, rather than “The Quraysh, who have disbelieved our signs”. This ambiguity was intentional, so that the verse would apply indefinitely to pretty much anyone who ‘disbelieves’.

Also, when 4:56 states that “
Those who have disbelieved our signs, we shall roast them in fire”, the verse has been interpreted today, to mean that Muslims should be the ones who “roast them in fire” (aka. By suicide bomb), rather than as a description which only happens to unbelievers in Hell.

47:4 - “Therefore, when ye meet the unbelievers, smite at their necks, and when ye have caused a bloodbath amongst them, bind a bond firmly on them”

The quotation of 47:4 is meant to show that Muslims are required to carry out these violent acts (against unbelievers), and that this verse continues to inspire today’s Muslims to carry out these violent acts (against unbelievers)
. The historical context of this verse, places the verse before the battle of Badr, that is, before Muhammad and his army, defeated the first Quraysh attack. This verse gives the Muslims permission to behead the Quraysh, to cause a bloodbath amongst them, and to take prisoners (in pre-emption of the battle). All violent acts of which the Muslims do during the battle of Badr.

The process is:

1. Allah gives Muslims permission to a) Behead unbelievers, b) Cause a bloodbath amongst them, c) Take prisoners. And then...
2. The Muslims act upon said verse, in the battle of Badr, by a) Beheading unbelievers, b) Causing a bloodbath, and c) Taking prisoners.

Perfectly consistent with the verse.

4:89 - “… so take not friends from their ranks, until they flee in the way of A. But if they turn renegades, seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and take no friends or helpers from their ranks”.

It is forbidden to leave Islam, and that if after becoming Muslim, someone converts from Islam or betrays the Muslims, then Muslims are required (by Allah’s command, and also consequently by Islamic law itself) to capture them and kill the apostate, wherever the Muslims find them, without taking any friends or helpers (From amongst the unbelievers) in accomplishing this task. From 4:89, apostasy laws are derived - “If they turn renegades, seize them and kill them, wherever you find them”. The apostasy death sentence directly influences this superiority complex, because if Allah himself commands apostates to be killed, then Islam must be “The best religion”, since otherwise Allah would not command Muslims to kill apostates.

The historical context of this verse, places the
verse after the battle of Uhud, with the ‘people’ mentioned in the verse “They but wish ye should reject faith as they do”, being the Bedouin tribes, which lived in Medina (and also the countryside). At the time of this verse, there was much distrust over the Bedouin, who inhabited Medina. Some Muslims were hoping that eventually the Bedouin would become Muslims (which is the foundation behind Dhimmitude), whilst some Muslims wanted to take a harsher stance towards them.

The verse continues this trend of distrust: “
So take not friends from their ranks, until they flee in the way of Allah. But if they turn renegades, seize them and kill them wherever you find them”, thus commanding the Muslims not to be friends with the Bedouin, until they become Muslims, and that if the Bedouin (after accepting Islam) leave Islam, or betray the Muslims, then the Muslims are required by Allah, to capture and kill them. Again, since the Qur’an is not limited to a specific people or place, and the verses apply for all time, Muslims in a modern context, can use 4:89, replacing the historically contextual Bedouin, with any modern denomination they feel like (Christians, Hindus, Zoroastrians, etc).

8:39 - “Fight them until there is no dissension, and the religion is entirely Allah’s”

 One of the goals of Islam, is to dominate the entire world. The historical context places this verse as being revealed after the battle of Badr, with “Fight them” to mean the Jews of the Quraysh tribe. The verse refers to the ‘persecution’ of the Muslims by the Quraysh, and that Allah commands the Muslims to “fight them until there is no more persecution”, adding “and religion should be only for Allah.

To understand how exactly and for
what reasons the Quraysh were ‘persecuting’ the Muslims, I would first need to discuss the battle of Badr and the reasons for the Quraysh launching an attack against the Muslims in the first place. The ending (to Qur’an 8:39) goes: “and religion should be only for Allah; but if they desist, then surely A sees what they do”. According to Tafsir Ibn Kathir, the former part of the ending, which states that “religion should be only for A
llah”, means that Muslims should fight until there is no more “shirk”.
“Shirk is the association of partners with Allah – i.e., calling Jesus the Son of God. So this verse, although it was revealed in the aftermath of a seventh-century battle between Muslims and pagans,
has a universal application”. Basically, 8:39 verse commands Muslims to fight non-Muslims, until the only religion (in the world), is Islam. This is nothing less than Allah condoning/commanding genocide, and nothing less than the rhetoric of world domination.

This goal of dominating the world, was even admitted by Muhammad who said: “
I have been commanded to fight against people, till they testify to the fact that there is no god but Allah, and believe in me (that) I am the messenger (from the Lord)” Note: The Razzias (raids) carried out by Muhammad and his followers: Prior to the two battles, the Muslims and Meccans had fought several smaller skirmishes in late 623 and early 624, as the Muslim raids grew increasingly commonplace, but Badr was their first large-scale battle.

Note: Even though many Muslims were Quraysh themselves, they believed that they were entitled to steal from them, because the Meccans had expelled them from their homes and tribes (Crazy Muslim logic 101). Qaradawi recently made a comment saying that: “
We need scholarly refutations to claims that Muhammad incited the killing of men and women”. Really, it just defies any sense of verisimilitude, to say that the Muhammad never incited the killing of men and women.
He clearly did

Generally, Muslims, historically, say that Muhammad’s behaviour vas due to the belligerent and aggressive behaviour of the Infedels. We already dealt avec the Meccans, Let’s analyse now this assertion: “

Now, however, many surrounding tribes also became hostile to Islam and joined in the Meccans' fight”.

This is another misleading statement. Arab society was "tribal" and at times they did fight amongst themselves. But, if any one group of people were considered violent, it was the Muslims. Why? Because it was Muhammad and the Muslims that broke a sacred trust amongst the Arabs and attacked, plundered, enslaved and murdered other Arabs during a time of year, (the "Sacred Months"), of recognized, and expected, peace among all Arab tribes.

Not long after Muhammad arrived in Medina he sent his men out to attack and plunder other people’s goods. However, among the Arabs in the area there were four months that were considered "sacred". It was during this time that no warfare was permitted. One of the reasons for this was to allow commerce so that the Arab people could have a livelihood.

However, during one of the sacred months, one of the Muslim’s raids, attacked a caravan and murdered a caravan attendant, stole the goods, and enslaved other attendants. This created an outcry among many Arabs, even amongst the Muslims! The Muslims were seen as villains for transgressing a sacred time. And how did Muhammad react when confronted with his crime? He claimed to get yet another "revelation" from Allah allowing him to make war upon, murder, enslave, and plunder non-Muslims. Here is the verse from the Qur’an :

Fighting is prescribed for you and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth and ye know not. 217. They ask thee concerning fighting in the Prohibited Month. Say: "Fighting is a grave (offence); but graver is it in the sight of Allah to prevent access to the path of Allah to deny Him to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque and drive out its members. Tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter. Nor will they cease fighting you until they turn you back from your faith if they can. And if any of you turn back from their faith and die in unbelief their works will bear no fruit in this life and in the Hereafter; they will be Companions of the Fire and will abide therein. Sura 2:216- 217: 216.

One of the great Islamic scholars, Baidawi, commented on this verse:

In this case the more specific (that is, the prohibition against fighting during the month of Rajab) would be abrogated by the general (that is, the general command to kill the unbelievers).

Baidawi was a famous Qur’anic Exegete of the Shafi’i school of Islam. He was so esteemed that he is known as "The Judge" in reference to Qur’an ic commentary. You can find his comments in Helmut Gätje’s book, "The Qur’an and its Exegesis", Oneworld, Oxford, England, 1997, (at

So Muhammad was saying that it was indeed allowable for the Muslims to make war upon non-Muslims, even during a time when the other Arab tribes were working together to live in peace

And what about this verse?

In addition, when the enemy inclines toward peace, Muslims are commanded to cease hostilities: "But if the enemy incline towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace" (8:61).

Most scholars say that chapter 8 of the Quran was spoken about the Battle of Badr, which occurred in 2 A.H. If this verse is about that battle, it was Muhammad that started the war with the Meccans by attacking and robbing their caravans. Doesn’t sound like someone was really interested in peace doesn’it? I would think that the only reason Muhammad wanted to incline towards peace was when he felt he was outgunned.

Further, Muhammad instructed the Muslims to make war upon non-Muslims as discussed.

Finally, when it came to war with the Muslims having the upper hand, this is what Muhammad commanded the Muslims to do:

Therefore do not falter or sue for peace when you have gained the upper hand. God is on your side and will not grudge you the reward of your labors. (47:35)


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