Saturday, 22 December 2012

Dhimwit Case-Study: Karen Armstrong on the Nakhla Raid

Ibn Kammuna

(dïm-wît): A non-Muslim member of a free society, who unwittingly abets the stated cause of Islamic domination. A dhimwit is always quick to extend sympathy to the very enemy that would take away his or her own freedom (or life) if given the opportunity.

And Karen Amstrong fit this bill perfectly. Find out why?

In her book on Muhammad, Karen Armstrong is quick to explain and justify all and every action that Muhammad did. I will take the reader of this article on a journey to see how Ms Armstrong does that through her discussion of the Nakhla Raid. Readers may consult my previous essay to understand the background of the
Nakhla raid. For a summary of the incident, Allah’s prophet ordered a group of Muslims to go to a place called Nakhla. There, they ambushed a small Meccan commercial caravan, killing one person and imprisoning two others. In addition, all the spoils became the ownership of the Muslims.

Now, for any decent human being, this was an act of desert piracy, but not to Karen Armstrong. To add insult to injury, this piracy took place on the last day of a sacred month. You see, Arabs before Islam respected the sacredness of time. They never attacked others during their holy months. This was the case for centuries, until Muhammad and his bandits came to the scene.

After this successful raid, the Muslim bandits returned to Medina with prisoners and booty. When the news spread to Medina, everyone, justifiably, was upset. Those sacred months were ‘safety zones’ for all Arabs. Muhammad, seeing this negative reaction, distanced himself from the incident. Then, to justify his greed and his willingness to tramp over anything considered holy by others, he comes down with ‘Allah’s’ revelation:

002.217 YUSUFALI:
They ask thee concerning fighting in the Prohibited Month. Say: ‘Fighting therein 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.

Please note that Muhammad chose to leave Mecca. He was not under much oppression there. Readers are encouraged to read M. A. Khan’s book on this matter. However, Muhammad needed excuse to justify his greed for booty. So, he came down with a lame excuse (that is uglier than admission of guilt as some Arab proverb says) represented by the verse from above. How can preventing access to a place be worse than slaughter? Only a brainwashed person can believe this nonsense.

Our Dimwhit Karen Armstrong defends the attack itself, then, defends his holiness ‘prophet Muhammad’ from any criticism. She even goes farther to show the ‘genius’ of Muhammad. As for the attack itself, Karen Armstrong in her book on Muhammad writes:

What should they do? It was the last day of Rajab, but if they waited until the next day, when fighting was permitted, the caravan would have reached the safety of the Meccan sanctuary. (p. 170)

Any decent human being can tell Armstrong what they should have done. They should have left that caravan alone. It’s not the right time. It was a holy time where all Arabs from east to west and north to south respected as safe time-zones for all to conduct their affairs without fear. This is what they should have done Miss Armstrong. According to Armstrong, Muhammad wanted to abandon those sacred months, because they belonged to the pagan religion. This is actually false as all Arabs whether monotheists or polytheists followed this tradition of sacred months.

Moving along, those bandits take their booty and prisoners and go to Medina. When the people of Medina heard the news of the attack during a sacred time, everyone became saddened, if not shocked, as this was completely against the moral standards followed by all Arabs. Muhammad got worried about this reaction and distanced himself initially from the bandits that he sent out to start with. But, he really wanted the booty and the prisoners’ ransom money. So, the above verse comes down to him telling him that it is okay to attack, unprovoked, a commercial caravan during a time sacred to Arabs. As usual, Karen Armstrong is quick to defend Muhammad:

This incident is a good example of Muhammad’s way of working. He was ready to die for his faith, but was also ready to compromise on inessentials. In the absence of a long-established ethical system, he would listen carefully to events and see them as a revelation of God’s will? (p. 172)

Well, respecting the holy months is not ‘inessential’ Miss Armstrong. Arabs lived thousands of years before Muhammad. So, they had a ‘long-established ethical system’ Miss Armstrong.

It is evident that Karen Armstrong was quick to extend her sympathy to what Muhammad and his murderous robbers did. She fits the definition of a Dhimwhit par excellence. In fact, her views on Islam constitute an ideal example Dhimwhitness.



Thursday, 20 December 2012

Muhammad: A Kindred Spirit From Mecca

Ibn Kammuna

In this article, I try to investigate the claim that Muhammad had a gentle spirit in Mecca, that changed quickly after his emigration to Medina. This study relies mainly on comparing earlier Meccan Qur’anic verses with other Qur’anic verses from his early times in Medina, as well as with verses from his last “revelation” when he was the supreme leader of Arabia.

Meccan Muhammad
Muhammad’s message was for his kin folks. Allah is in control of everything. Muhammad is no more than a warner. However, Muhammad did what he could, mainly threaten people. Note how verse 42:7 in the Qur’an promises those who do not follow him the fire of hell. There is more beauty and rhyme in the Meccan Suras. Arabs loved poetry and rhyme, and Muhammad had to compete with that. They had certain annual markets in Mecca where poets competed with their poetry (i.e. Ukad or Ukaz,..). The best poems were hung on the walls of the Ka’ba, an honor that not every poet obtained. Muhammad was unsuccessful with his new ‘poetry-like’ jargon; the Qur’an. In this regard many great poets won the hearts of the Arabs more than Muhammad’s Suras. By the end of his thirteen years in Mecca, Muhammad realized that words are powerful, especially if they came in an attractive way (i.e. poetry). But he also realized that his language abilities cannot compete with those great poets of old. When he went to Yathrib (called Medina later), he probably had in mind getting rid of those poets who went against him, or mocked him with their poetry. History bears me out here. Did he not assassinate Asma bint Marwan and other poets who said some poetry criticizing him? Muhammad’s assassinations and killings of poets are best understood within the context of his life. He could not do much to them when he was in Mecca. He was weak with no political power. Would it not be natural to see Muhammad as a vindictive unforgiving person for those who criticized him right from the start? Muhammad did target poets after the hijra (emigration) to Yathrib (Medina) with assassinations. Even after he took over Mecca, he ordered the killing of Ibn Khatal and his two singing girls because they sang songs making fun of Muhammad. He was just a vindictive unforgiving person right from the Meccan times. He just did not muster enough power to send his henchmen to kill people back then (Muhammad himself was a coward who relied on others to do his bad deeds for him). Below are some verses from the Meccan period (all of the Qur’anic quotes below are from Yusuf Ali translation):

And admonish thy nearest kinsmen,
Thus doth (He) send inspiration to thee as (He did) to those before thee,- Allah, Exalted in Power, Full of Wisdom.
To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and on earth: and He is Most High, Most Great.
042.005 The heavens are almost rent asunder from above them (by Him Glory): and the angels celebrate the Praises of their Lord, and pray for forgiveness for (all) beings on earth: Behold! Verily Allah is He, the Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
042.006 And those who take as protectors others besides Him,- Allah doth watch over them; and thou art not the disposer of their affairs.
042.007 Thus have We sent by inspiration to thee an Arabic Qur’an: that thou mayest warn the Mother of Cities and all around her,- and warn (them) of the Day of Assembly, of which there is no doubt: (when) some will be in the Garden, and some in the Blazing Fire.

While in Mecca, Muhammad increasingly became more insulting to his kin folks and their religions. Despite that, the pagans of Mecca were civil people. They did not drive him or his Muslim group out of Mecca. He had leaving the city on his mind as he realized he cannot make it to be the leading authority figure if he stayed. Over a period of thirteen years he only managed to have around one hundred to a hundred and fifty Muslims, mostly rowdy and lower class people.
The fact of the matter is that Muhammad had it in his mind to leave Mecca all along. He sent a group of Muslims to Abyssinia (Ethiopia, 615-6) to see about the situation there. He also went to Taif (619), and the people there told him to just leave. They kicked him out. The idea that Muhammad was forced to leave Mecca because the Meccans were after him wanting to kill him does not find much historical support. The reader is advised to see M. A. Khan’s book discussion on this matter (Islamic Jihad, pp. 18-26).

Early Medinan Muhammad
In Medina, there are, in my view, two distinct stages to Muhammad’s career of ten years there. In Mecca, he realized that he can’t win the hearts of people through his kind verses Qur’an (poetry!!). He just was not good enough to compete with the top poets of the time. He must have contemplated more power and success in life. So, he had to feel his way by using force. He wanted to see how much power he can exercise over other people. First loots were unsuccessful. However, the Nakhla raid was a success. He made a good bounty out of that raid without even lifting a finger. For a quick analogy here, I grew up where there are local dogs in the villages that herded sheep and goats. If a dog tasted the blood of a goat and killed it, that dog had to be shot. There was no way to keep that dog from doing it again. The usual say in the village would be “He (meaning the dog) could not be kept alive. He tasted blood”. Well, in a sense, the Nakhla raid for Muhammad was his “blood tasting” experience. (off course, the problem was he, Muhammad, was kept alive).

Here are some verses from that period:

Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.
002.257 Allah is the Protector of those who have faith: from the depths of darkness He will lead them forth into light. Of those who reject faith the patrons are the evil ones: from light they will lead them forth into the depths of darkness. They will be companions of the fire, to dwell therein (For ever).

Note that the above verses still gives an option of belief to people, however he is still threatening people with hell fire. Muhammad is still feeling his way on what to do next. However, look at those verses from the same period:

Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors.
002.191 And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith.

It is evident that Muhammad had moved to what I call passive fighting. Muslims are still weak during that period. He wants them to defend themselves by fighting those who fight the Muslims. Verse 191 above shows Muhammad’s hateful heart against those who fight the Muslims. It is at this stage that we see Muhammad feeling that he has some power to be able to subdue those who fight the Muslims. But, he has to be careful with his revelations, as he is still not in full control power-wise. He had to seek alliances with multiple groups and tribes.

Muhammad’s True Colors
The true color of a person shows best when he is in power to decide the fate of other people. Many people loved the late king Hussein of Jordan for many reasons. He was just a kind-hearted man. One of the things about the late king if one reads his writings, and many people do not know that, is that there were many assassination attempts and coups against his life and against his rule. It was a habit of his to forgive those who tried to kill him or make a coup against him (in fact, many of those people he elevated to high ranks in the Jordanian army and the Jordanian police). The late king Hussein had a gentle spirit. Compare that to Muhammad and what he says in the last Sura of the Qur’an (chronologically). Please remember that he was the highest authority in the land when such verses were “revealed” to him. By the way, by that time, Muhammad’s “revelations” lost their rhyme. He did not need to compete with the poets anymore. He had military and political control over much of Arabia. Below are the verses from the chronologically last “revelation”:

O ye who believe! Truly the Pagans are unclean; so let them not, after this year of theirs, approach the Sacred Mosque. And if ye fear poverty, soon will Allah enrich you, if He wills, out of His bounty, for Allah is All-knowing, All-wise.
009.029 Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
009.073 O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the Hypocrites, and be firm against them. Their abode is Hell,- an evil refuge indeed.
009.074 They swear by Allah that they said nothing (evil), but indeed they uttered blasphemy, and they did it after accepting Islam; and they meditated a plot which they were unable to carry out: this revenge of theirs was (their) only return for the bounty with which Allah and His Messenger had enriched them! If they repent, it will be best for them; but if they turn back (to their evil ways), Allah will punish them with a grievous penalty in this life and in the Hereafter: They shall have none on earth to protect or help them.
009.113 It is not fitting, for the Prophet and those who believe, that they should pray for forgiveness for Pagans, even though they be of kin, after it is clear to them that they are companions of the Fire.
009.123 O ye who believe! fight the unbelievers who gird you about, and let them find firmness in you: and know that Allah is with those who fear Him.

The above verses show no mercy against non-Muslims. The command is to put others into submission by whatever means necessary, force them to pay Jizya, kill them,..etc. Choice of religious belief in a pluralistic society is no more existent.

Concluding Remarks
Muhammad was not a kindred spirit as some Muslim apologetics try to portray him. This fact dates back to his Meccan times. He had a vengeful inner spirit. However, in Mecca, he could not harm people and kill them as he did not have much power. The best he could do is curse others and say Qur’anic verses telling them they are going to hell. That he did. As his power increased, his Qur’an lost much of the rhyme, and added much of the “harm and kill the others” to it. Earlier in Medina, this matter was less noticeable as Muhammad was not in complete control of everything. Later in Medina, he had supreme power over all of Arabia. It is during that time that his true colours showed up in the form of teaching the Muslims, through his Qur’an, to kill and subdue all who do not agree with his message.



Wednesday, 19 December 2012

National Geographic Blunders on Islamic-Christian History

A friend of mine brought to my attention a problematic article in the National Geographic of June 2009. Apparently, National Geographic featured an article on Arab Christians entitled, "The Forgotten Faithful." Although the article is mainly focused on modern Arab Christians, the author reports this inaccurate historical record:

"Such scenes reflect the Levant's history of coexistence between Muslims and people of other faiths, which dates from the earliest days of Islam. When the Muslim Caliph Omar conquered Syria from the Byzantine Empire around 636,
he protected the Christians under his rule, allowing them to keep their churches and worship as they pleased. But many Christians converted to Islam anyway, preferring its emphasis on a personal connection with God to the oppressive hierarchies of the Byzantine Church." [emphasis mine]

You can read this for yourself on the seventh page of the article by
clicking here.

This statement is wrong and can be quickly checked against the Omar Agreement (aka Umar Agreement).
Click here for source. Under Caliph Omar, Christians were given three choices: death, conversion, or agreement to pay jizya tax. Here is the agreement:

The Status of Non-Muslims Under Muslim Rule

We heard from 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Ghanam [died 78/697] as follows: When Umar ibn al-Khattab, may God be pleased with him, accorded a peace to the Christians of Syria, we wrote to him as follows: In the name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate. This is a letter to the servant of God Umar [ibn al-Khattab], Commander of the Faithful, from the Christians of such-and-such a city. When you came against us, we asked you for safe-conduct (aman) for ourselves, our descendants, our property, and the people of our community, and we undertook the following obligations toward you:
We shall not build, in our cities or in their neighborhood, new monasteries, Churches, convents, or monks' cells,

nor shall we repair, by day or by night, such of them as fall in ruins or are situated in the quarters of the Muslims.
We shall keep our gates wide open for passersby and travelers.
We shall give board and lodging to all Muslims who pass our way for three days.
We shall not give shelter in our churches or in our dwellings to any spy, nor bide him from the Muslims.
We shall not teach the Qur'an to our children.
We shall not manifest our religion publicly nor convert anyone to it.
We shall not prevent any of our kin from entering Islam if they wish it.
We shall show respect toward the Muslims, and we shall rise from our seats when they wish to sit.
We shall not seek to resemble the Muslims by imitating any of their garments, the qalansuwa, the turban, footwear, or the parting of the hair.
We shall not speak as they do, nor shall we adopt their kunyas.
We shall not mount on saddles, nor shall we gird swords nor bear any kind of arms nor carry them on our- persons.
We shall not engrave Arabic inscriptions on our seals.
We shall not sell fermented drinks.
We shall clip the fronts of our heads.
We shall always dress in the same way wherever we may be, and we shall bind the zunar round our waists
We shall not display our crosses or our books in the roads or markets of the Muslims.
We shall use only clappers in our churches very softly.
We shall not raise our voices when following our dead.
We shall not show lights on any of the roads of the Muslims or in their markets.
We shall not bury our dead near the Muslims.
We shall not take slaves who have been allotted to Muslims.
We shall not build houses overtopping the houses of the Muslims.
(When I brought the letter to Umar, may God be pleased with him, he added, "We shall not strike a Muslim.")

We accept these conditions for ourselves and for the people of our community, and in return we receive safe-conduct. If we in any way violate these undertakings for which we ourselves stand surety, we forfeit our covenant [dhimma], and we become liable to the penalties for contumacy and sedition. Umar ibn al-Khittab replied: Sign what they ask, but add two clauses and impose them in addition to those which they have undertaken. They are: "They shall not buy anyone made prisoner by the Muslims," and "Whoever strikes a Muslim with deliberate intent shall forfeit the protection of this pact." from Al-Turtushi, Siraj al-Muluk, pp. 229-230.

[This was a from hand out at an Islamic History Class at the University of Edinburgh in 1979. Source of translation not given.]

It is disappointing that the journalist, who wrote,
The Forgotten Faithful, did not report on Omar's Agreement at all. To give him the benefit of the doubt, he may not have known that this agreement existed. However, notice the term dhimma in the text. This is a term for second class citizens under Sharia Law (Islamic Law). This is not how these people are portrayed in the National Geographic article when the author reports these people worshiped "as they pleased."

As Nabeel Qureshi of Acts 17 Apologetics pointed out, in reference to this same article: "Unfortunately, there is a problem with this [the author's] perspective: it ignores virtually everything about Islam. As we have pointed out before, Sharia stems from the Qur'an, and in its final days of revelation, the Qur'an commanded that Christians and Jews be fought until they are humiliated (9:29). Sharia thus calls for active antagonism towards non-Muslims."

Also, it is unfortunate how the article presented an imbalance of religious violence,
focusing more on historical Christian violence without a balanced assessment of the Muslim violence in history, as well. And so it appears as if the article is attempting to persuade people about an ideology under the guise of reporting his