From Rags to Riches, From Preacher to Despot
There are many contradictory verses in the Quran that can be quite confusing. This ambiguity allows Muslims to have their personalized “divine guidance” based on their own preferences. Those who like tolerance or want to present Islam as a tolerant religion can quote parts of the Quran that advocates tolerance, while the hardliners, the fundamentalists and even the terrorists can quote those parts of the Quran that foments hate and killing of the disbelievers. Therefore ironically everyone can find what he is looking for in that book. And they call this the “miracle” of Quran!
Let us compare both sides of Quran:
In Surah 73:10 God tells Mohammad to be patient with his opponents, “Be patient with what they say, and part from them courteously”. While in Surah 2:191 God orders him to kill his opponents, “kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from wherever they drove you out.” In Surah 2:256 God tells Mohammad not to impose Islam by force, “There is no compulsion in religion”, Then again in verse 193 He tells his messenger to kill whoever rejects Islam, “Fight them until there is no persecution and the religion is God’s”. In Surah 29:46 God tells Mohammad to speak nicely to people of the Book (Christians and Jews), “Argue with people of the book, other than evil doers, only by means of what are better! and say, we believe in what has been sent down to us and sent down to you. Our God is the same as your God, and we are surrendered to Him.” But in Surah 9:29 Allah tells him to fight the people of the Book, “Fight those who do not believe in God and the last day… and fight People of the Book, who do not accept the religion of truth (Islam) until they pay tribute by hand, being inferior”.
Muhammad gives no justification for this discrepancy in the Quran and the change in Allah’s mood from peaceful to militant and conciliatory to confrontational. Muslim apologists in the West present the kinder verses of the Quran or what is known as the Early Revelation. While Islamic scholars, when have only Muslims as their audience, say that those softer verses of the Quran were abrogated and supplanted by harsher ones. The reason given is, as Al Maudoody puts it, “Mohammad became strong enough to move from the stage of weakness to the stage of Jihad”.
For 13 years Muhammad preached in Mecca but less than 100 people accepted him. Meccans preferred Al Nadir, another storyteller to him. Muhammad’s irreverence to their gods angered them. So he escaped and established himself in Medina . His followers also joined him and he called them immigrants. At first they were poor and used to work as journeymen in palm plantations that belonged to the Jews living in Medina . They used to give some of their food to Muhammad, who often dined on nothing but few dates. After one year in exile, Muhammad found the situation unbearable and he started raiding the merchant caravans that were carrying goods from Damascus to Mecca . One of these raids that took place at Badr was a big success and the Prophet made a good fortune thereof. Then he planned other highway robberies. He distributed the booty, including women, among those who took part in the battles and kept 20% for himself. He even made money by taking the passengers of the Caravan and threatened to kill them if ransom was not paid by their families. He assured his followers that if they fall in the battles, they will get more rewards in Paradise . Gradually his fortunes changed. He was no more a weak neglected preacher but the head of a state who commanded absolute power over his followers. With this change of fortune Muhammad’s message also changed. Here is a comparison between some early verses he wrote in Mecca while weak and some that he wrote in Medina after becoming powerful.
|Meccan Early Verses||Medinan Later verses|
|2:256There is no compulsion in religion||9:123Oh ye who believe! Murder those of the disbelievers and let them find harshness in you.|
|73:10Be patient with what they say, and part from them courteously||8:12I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off.|
|109:6To you be your religion, and to me my religion”||3:85Whoso desires another religion than Islam, it shall not be accepted of him; in the next world he shall be among the losers.”|
|20:103Therefore be patient with what they say, and celebrate (constantly) the praises of thy Lord,||2:191kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from wherever they drove you out|
|2:83Speak good to men…||9:5Slay the idolaters wherever you find them|
|10:99If it had been thy Lord’s Will, they would all have believed, all who are on earth! Wilt thou then compel mankind against their will to believe!||2:193Fight them on until there is no more tumult and religion becomes that of Allah|
|50:45We well know what the infidels say: but you are not to compel them||9:14Fight them, and Allah will punish them by your hands, cover them with shame, help you (to victory) over them, heal the breasts of Believers|
|29:45Argue with people of the book, other than evil doers, only by means of what are better! and say, we believe in what has been sent down to us and sent down to you. Our God is the same as your God, and we are surrendered to Him.||9:29Fight those who do not believe in God and the last day… and fight People of the Book, who do not accept the religion of truth (Islam) until they pay tribute by hand, being inferior”|
|2:62Those who believe (in the Qur’an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabeans,- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.||9:30The Jews call ‘Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!|
|7:199Hold to forgiveness; command what is right; But turn away from the ignorant.||9:28O you who believe! Verily, the Mushrikûn (unbeleivers) are Najasun (impure). So let them not come near Al-Masjid-al-Harâm (at Makkah) after this year, …|
|15:85Pardon thou, with a gracious pardoning….||14:17Before him is Hell; and he shall be made to drink boiling water.|
|6:108and insult not (Revile not) those whom they call upon besides Allah, lest they out of spite revile Allah in their ignorance. Thus we made alluring to each people its own doings. In the end they return to their Lord, and we shall then tell them the truth of all that they did||3:61If any one disputes in this matter with thee, now after (full) knowledge Hath come to thee, say: “Come! let us gather together,- our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves: Then let us earnestly pray, and invoke the curse of Allah on those who lie!”|
|43:88,89O Lord, these are people who do not believe,’ Bear with them and wish them ‘peace.’ In the end they shall know their folly.||47:4When you meet the unbelievers, strike off their heads; then when you have made wide slaughter among them, carefully tie up the remaining captives.|
|50:45We know best what they say; and thou art not one to overawe them by force.||8:65,O Prophet! rouse the Believers to the fight. If there are twenty amongst you, patient and persevering, they will vanquish two hundred: if a hundred, they will vanquish a thousand of the Unbelievers|
|16:90Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you, that ye may receive admonition.||3:28Let not the believers take for friends or helpers unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah. except by way of precaution, that ye may guard yourselves from them. But Allah cautions you (to fear) Himself; for the final goal is to Allah.|
|45.14Tell those who believe, to forgive those who do not look forward to the Days of Allah:||8:60Against 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 Allah and your enemies.|
This dichotomy is explained by some Muslim scholars.
Dr. M. Khan the translator of Sahih Bukhari and the Quran into English writes:
“Allah revealed in Sura Bara’at (Repentance, IX) [the order to discard (all) obligations (covenants, etc), and commanded the Muslims to fight against all the Pagans as well as against the people of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians) if they do not embrace Islam, till they pay the Jizia (a tax levied on the Jews and Christians) with willing submission and feel themselves subdued (as it is revealed in 9:29). So the Muslims were not permitted to abandon “the fighting” against them (Pagans, Jews and Christians) and to reconcile with them and to suspend hostilities against them for an unlimited period while they are STRONG and have the ability to fight against them. So at first “the fighting” was forbidden, then it was permitted, and after that it was made obligatory “[Introduction to English translation of Sahih Bukhari, p.xxiv.]
Q 9:5 reads: “Slay the idolaters wherever you find them”
So according to Dr. M. Khan in Q. 9:5 Allah ordered Mohammad to cancel all covenants and to fight the pagans, the Jews even the Christians. This is in contrast to what Muhammad wrote earlier.
“Thou wilt find the nearest of them in love to the believers [Muslims} are those who say ‘We are Christians'” (Q. 5:82)
Dr. Khan continues:
The “Mujahideen who fight against the enemies of Allah in order that the worship should be all for Allah (alone and not for any other deity) and that the word is Allah’s (ie. none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and His religion Islam) should be upper most.”
So first it was “There is no compulsion in religion” (Q. 2:265) and then
“O who believe! shall I direct you to a commerce that which will save you from a painful torment? That you believe in Allah and His Apostle (Mohammad), and that you strive hard and fight in the cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives. That will be better for you, if you but knew. If you do so He will forgive you your sins, and admit you into gardens of Eternity – that is the great success” (Q. 61:10-12)
Dr. Sobhy as-Saleh, a contemporary academic, does not see in Q. 2:256 and Q. 9:73 a case of abrogation but a case of delaying or postponing the command to fight the infidels. To support his view he quoted Imam Suyuti the author of Itqan Fi ‘Ulum al- Qur’an who wrote:
“The command to fight the infidels was DELAYED UNTIL THE MUSLIMS BECOME STRONG, but when they were weak they were commanded to endure and be patient. [ Sobhy as_Saleh, Mabaheth Fi ‘Ulum al- Qur’an, Dar al-‘Ilm Lel-Malayeen, Beirut , 1983, p. 269.]
Dr. Sobhy, in a footnote, commends the opinion of a scholar named Zarkashi who said:
“Allah the most high and wise revealed to Mohammad in his weak condition what suited the situation, because of his mercy to him and his followers. For if He gave them the command to fight while they were weak it would have been embarrassing and most difficult, but when the most high made Islam victorious He commanded him with what suited the situation, that is asking the people of the Book to become Muslims or to pay the levied tax, and the infidels to become Muslims or face death. These two options, to fight or to have peace return according to the strength or the weakness of the Muslims.”[ibid p. 270]
And Nahas writes:
“the scholars differed concerning Q. 2:256. (There is no compulsion if religion) Some said: ‘It has been abrogated [cancelled] for the Prophet compelled the Arabs to embrace Islam and fought them and did not accept any alternative but their surrender to Islam. The abrogating verse is Q. 9:73 ‘O Prophet, struggle with the unbelievers and hypocrites, and be thou harsh with them.’ Mohammad asked Allah the permission to fight them and it was granted. Other scholars said Q. 2:256 has not been abrogated, but it had a special application. It was revealed concerning the people of the Book [the Jews and the Christians]; they can not be compelled to embrace Islam if they pay the Jizia (that is head tax on free non-Muslims under Muslim rule). It is only the idol worshippers who are compelled to embrace Islam and upon them Q. 9:73 applies. This is the opinion of Ibn ‘Abbas which is the best opinion due to the authenticity of its chain of authority.”[ al-Nahas, An-Nasikh wal-Mansukh, p.80. See also Ibn Hazm al-Andalusi, A-Nnasikh wal-Mansukh, Dar al-Kotob al-‘Elmeyah, birute, 1986, p.42.]
Ibn Hazm al-Andalusi writes:
“Fight in the way of God with those who fight with you, but aggress not: God loves not the aggressors (2:190)” On the authority of Ga’far ar-Razi from Rabi’ Ibn ‘Ons, from ‘Abil-‘Aliyah who said: This is the first verse that was revealed in the Qur’an about fighting in the Madina. When it was revealed the prophet used to fight those who fight with him and avoid those who avoid him, until Sura 9 was revealed. And so is the opinion of ‘Abd ar-Rahman Ibn Zayd Ibn ‘Aslam who said this verse was cancelled by 9:5 “Slay the idolaters wherever you find them”[ bn Hazm al-Andalusi, An-Nasikh wal- Mansukh, Dar al-Kotob al-‘Elmeyah, birute, 1986, P.27]
For more on this subject see http://www.debate.domini.org/newton/tolerance.html,
Muhammad demanded from his followers to wage war against people of their own kin. And to justify his killing sprees he said, “oppression is worse than killing”. The following verse was revealed to incite the immigrants to kill their fellow Meccans because they oppressed them forcing them to leave Mecca .
You may kill those who wage war against you, and you may evict them whence they evicted you. Oppression is worse than murder. Do not fight them at the Sacred Masjid, unless they attack you therein. If they attack you, you may kill them. This is the just retribution for those disbelievers.
In fact the Qurashis were not sympathetic to Muslims. They mocked and teased them but never killed anyone for accepting Islam. The reason for this loss of love was due to the fact that Muhammad was making sacrilege of their gods and was disrespectful of their beliefs. The reaction of the Meccans was justifiable and normal.
What did Muhammad do to those who mocked HIM? He was not a man who could tolerate criticisms. Abu `Afak, a 120 year old man and `Asma’ Bint Marwan a nursing single mother of 5 were assassinated by Muhammad’s orders for composing poems that Muhammad found offensive. That is all it took to lose their lives.
Muhammad says that oppression is worse than killing. Apart from the fact that this statement is ridiculous, he himself instructed his followers to be harsh and oppressive when dealing with the non-believers.
Q. 9: 123
Oh ye who believe! Murder those of the disbelievers and let them find harshness (qilzat) in you.
However, as the facts stands the non-believers did not attack the Muslims. It were Muslims who attacked Mecca , Kheibar, and the Jewish quarters of Medina . Was it the Persians who raided the Muslims? Was it India that was preventing the Arabs from worshiping Allah? Did Spain come to fight against the Muslims? If Allah was God, one would expect a grain of honesty from his messenger and his devotees.
Muhammad said anyone who does not believe in him must be killed. But he spared the lives of the Christians and the Jews provided they pay a penalty tax. In Keibar he exacted 50% of all the crops produced by the Jews from their own lands that he confiscated to be given to him. Is this not oppression? Of course when Muhammad died Omar banished all those poor Jews from Keibar altogether. The Quran is unequivocal when it comes to oppressing the non-believers.
“Fight those who do not believe in God and the last day… and fight People of the Book, who do not accept the religion of truth (Islam) until they pay tribute by hand, being inferior”
Muslims who claim that Islam is a religion of peace and quote the Quranic verses where Muhammad keeps reminding that Allah is the Merciful and Forgiving, when shown these verses of Quran and the bloody legacy of the Prophet’s wars and plunders, change their tactic and boast that “Yes, Islam countenances the use of violence under certain defined circumstances”, as a cyber apologist wrote to me.
What are those “defined conditions”? Let us make it clear that we are not talking about using force against common criminals, murderers or rapists. We are talking about violence against innocent people who do not accept Muhammad’s claim of prophethood and prefer to worship their own God, in their own way or worship none if they choose so.
Capital punishment by death has been eliminated in most of the civilized world. But even those countries that still practice it kill the convicts by lethal injection or another painless and humane way. They never torture them or maim them. Yet Muhammad prescribed the worst tortures for those who do not accept his hodgepodge of religion.
Q.5: 34 “Retribution of those, who wage war against ALLAH and HIS Messenger and strive to create disorder in the land, is that they be slain or crucified or their hands and feet be cut off on account of their enmity, or they be expelled from the land. That shall be a disgrace for them in this world, and in the Hereafter they shall have a great punishment.”
What kind of sadistic god is this Allah!?
One question that I was never able to get an answer for is: if Allah wants to kill the unbelievers, why he dose not do it himself? It should be easy for him to kill them, maim them, burn them, and strike them with all sorts of disasters and calamities to satisfy his vengeful nature and bloodthirsty mood. Why instead he asks his messenger and his zealot devotees to do his dirty work? Is it perhaps that he is incapable to do it on his own? Or is it that he is no god at all but the figment of Muhammad’s mind, a convenient scarecrow that would give the self acclaimed prophet unlimited power to plunder, rape and govern the lives and minds of those ignorant barbarians who believed in the concoction of his lies?
Muhammad claimed that the disbelief in Allah was the greatest crime punishable by death. Who benefited from this? He was the only contact between Allah and his foolhardy followers. Disobedience to him meant disobedience to God. Would really God care if people believed in Him or not? What does he get out it? Would really God’s self esteem be hurt if these primates of the Earth did not recognize and praised him? Would he really be so offended that he would burn people eternally? That is an absurd preposition. But it gave Muhammad the same power as God to do anything he wished with no one to question him. He got the cart blanch to kill anyone, to demand his followers to go and fight even their own allies, relatives and friends and bring 20% of the booty to him. It gave him right to sleep with any number of women and choose the youngest and the prettiest of the captive women. The more he exalted Allah the more his power grew. Allah was an excuse that empowered a power hungry man to rise from poverty to absolute dominance and make him even dream of conquering the great kingdoms of Persia and Byzantine.
“Say: If it be that your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates, or your kindred; the wealth that ye have gained; the commerce in which ye fear a decline: or the dwellings in which ye delight – are dearer to you than Allah, or His Messenger, or the striving in His cause;- then wait until Allah brings about His decision: and Allah guides not the rebellious. Q.9: 24
He was no teacher of morality. Goodness or virtues had no meaning to him. His only preoccupation was making people submit their wills to his Allah, whom no one had access to except him. The more dreadful he painted his god, the more control he could exert over his followers. Allah was an alter ego for a control freak narcissist man hungry for power and adulation. His obsession to subdue people into accepting his god was such that he promised even the adulterers and thieves a place in Paradise if they accepted him while those who would not accept him would be burned in Hell even if they led a saintly life.
Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 54, Number 445
Narrated Abu Dhar:
The Prophet said, “Gabriel said to me, ‘Whoever amongst your followers die without having worshipped others besides Allah, will enter Paradise (or will not enter the (Hell) Fire).” The Prophet asked. “Even if he has committed illegal sexual intercourse or theft?” He replied, “Even then.”
This is even confirmed in Quran:
4:48 “Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin Most heinous indeed.”
Of course it goes without saying that those who murder innocent people for him in the name of Allah would go straight to paradise.
How could any fair-minded person accept this nonsense? How is it possible that people do not stop for a minute to think about the whole thing? Why we don’t ask ourselves simple questions, like:
Why God NEEDS to be known?
- If He is so desperate to be known, why he dose not reveal Himself to everyone just the way he reveal Himself to his prophet?
- Why he plays hide and seek and then punishes those who fail to find him?
- Why his messenger acted so ruthlessly and lived such immoral life as to cast doubt on his integrity and truthfulness?
- Why his words in the Quran are so contrary to science, logic and commonsense?
These are simple yet important questions, that every Muslim must ask himself. We are not sheep. We are humans endowed with a brain and it is up to us to use it.