Saturday, March 14, 2009
(Islam's blood soaked history. Picture courtesy Aryamehr.)
One of the canons of Islam is the first collection of quotes and anecdotes of Muhammad - the Sira - written by Ibn Ishaq and edited by Ibn Hisham, both pious Muslims. Along with the Hadith, it forms the source of much of what we know about Muhammad. Here is the first incident of forcible conversion to Islam that I have seen recorded in Islamic history. It happens immediately before Muhammad conquered Mecca. Muhammad's adherents arrest Abu Sufyan, one of Mecca's inhabitants who had rejected Muhammad's claims of being a Prophet. They bring him to Muhammad. Ibn Hisham tells us what happens next, in "The Biography of Muhammad"(Part 4, Page 11)
Muhammad told him: "Woe to you, O Abu Sufyan. Is it not time for you to realize that there is no God but the only God?" Abu Sufyan answered: "I do believe that." Muhammad then said to him: "Woe to you, O Abu Sufyan. Is it not time for you to know that I am the apostle of God?" Abu Sufyan answered: "By God, O Muhammad, of this there is doubt in my soul." The 'Abbas who was present with Muhammad told Abu Sufyan: "Woe to you! Accept Islam and testify that Muhammad is the apostle of God before your neck is cut off by the sword." Thus he professed the faith of Islam and became a Muslim."
Notice that Abu Sufyan - a man who had known Muhammad for years in Mecca - did not believe that Muhammad was a prophet. He thought, like most Meccans, that Muhammad was a deluded person, or a charlatan. I would like readers to note two important points:
1. Because Islam treats Muhammad as the "perfect man" and makes it normative for every muslim to emulate and copy Muhammad in every regard, this means that now forcible conversion by placing a sword at the neck becomes part of Islamic law! This is now cast in stone, and becomes an act of great piety for every muslim, because he is, after all, following his beloved Prophet!
2. Muhammad - a man whom every Meccan knew since childhood, in 10 years of preaching in Mecca, could get only about 100 followers. After 10 years of trying and failing to convince people of his claims to Prophethood, he left for Medina, and returned later to Mecca with the sword in hand. Once he offered the "convert or die" choice to the pagans of Mecca, his ranks quickly swelled to almost 35,000 followers by the time he died a few years later. This is the way Islam spread. Not by peace, but ENTIRELY by the sword. The numbers tell the whole story. His first 10 years of peaceful preaching got Muhammad 100 followers. His last 2 years of using the sword brought him 35,000. Islam had discovered the magic formula for fast expansion - put the sword on the neck and say "Convert or die!"
Anyway, let us continue reading the biography of Muhammad. I now quote from Part 4, Page 134:
Muhammad sent Khalid Ibn al-Walid to the tribe of the children of Haritha and told him: "Call them to accept Islam before you fight with them. If they respond, accept that from them, but if they refuse, fight them." Khalid told them: "Accept Islam and spare your life." They entered Islam by force. He brought them to Muhammad. Muhammad said to them: "Had you not accepted Islam I would have cast your heads under your feet"
Another instance of forcing Islam at the pain of death. What kind of religion is this? And men such as Khalid bin Walid are heroes of Islam!
Let us continue reading the biography of Muhammad. Here is an incident from page 113, depicting Ali, the son-in-law of Muhammad:
Ali Ibn Abi Talib encountered a man called 'Umru and told him, "I indeed invite you to Islam." 'Umru said, "I do not need that (Islam)." Ali said, "Then I call you to fight." 'Umru answered him, "What for my nephew? By God, I do not like to kill you." Ali said, "But, by God, I love to kill you"'
I find the above a very telling incident. It shows just how naive to Muhammad's new way of thinking the pagan Arabs of that time were. Umru is still treating Ali with love, addressing him as "my nephew", and stating that he would not like to fight Ali. But Ali's reply is very Islamic - "By Allah, I would love to kill you." Ali's thinking is now simply this - those who don't convert to Islam must be killed. That has been the pattern repeated throughout history.
Finally, I come to one of the greatest Islamic scholars and Imams of them all - Isma'il Ibn Kathir, whose tafsir (commentary) on the Kuran is one of the most famous and frequently used. Ibn Kathir narrates this incident from the traditions of Muhammad in his book, Bidaayah wan Nihaayah, in the section on "The Prophetic Biography" (part 3, p. 596).
Muhammad's followers met a man and asked him to become a Muslim. The man asked them, "What is Islam?" to which Muhammad's followers explained Islam to him. He then asked, "What if I refuse to convert to Islam? What would you do to me?" They answered, "We would kill you." Despite that, he refused to become a Muslim and they killed the poor man after he went and bade his wife farewell. She continued to weep over his corpse for days until she died of grief over her slain beloved who was killed for no reason other than that he refused to accept Islam.
Now, all of the above happened at the time of Muhammad, and mostly in his presence. Let us take a look at how Islamic armies treated others when they conquered all of arabia and spread outward. Here is the first account of the Islamic invasion of India in 712AD, written by the first muslim governor of Sindh, soon after the invasion. Note the similarity. Those that don't convert are killed.
"Mohd bin Qasim first attacked Debal. It was garrisoned by 4000 hindu kshatriyas
and supported by 3000 brahmans. All males of ages 17 and upwards were put to the
sword (killed) and their women and children enslaved. 700 beautiful females who
were seeking protection in the budh (probably meaning buddhist temple) were
captured with valuable ornaments. Mohd dispatched 1/5th of these to Hajjaj,
governor of Damascus as per Islamic law. This included 75 damsels. Other 4/5ths
were distributed among soldiers.
Thereafter whichever places were attacked like Rawar, Sehwan, Dhalila, Multan, etc. hindu soldiers and men were slain, the common people fled or had to accept Islam. Some died with their religion (ie refused to convert). Many women of the higher class immolated themselves (Jauhar) and most others became the prize of the conquerors. These women and children were enslaved and converted. Batches of them were sent to the Caliph in regular installments. After Rawar was taken, Qasim halted there for 3 days during which he killed 6000 men. Their followers and women were taken captive. Later when the slaves were counted, there were 60,000. Of these, 30 young ladies were of royal blood. Qasim sent them all to the Hajjaj, who forwaded them to Walid the Khalifa. A considerable number of hindus were enslaved and deported to Iraq. The entire garrison of Multan was put to sword, and families of the chiefs numbering 6000 were enslaved.
In Sindh, females captured after every campaign were converted and married to arab
soldiers. The instructions given by Hajjaj to Mohd Bin Qasim were "give no
quarter to the infidels, but to cut their throats, and take the women and
children as slaves."
So now I ask all of my readers - how did Islam spread so quickly, especially in the centuries right after Muhammad's death? By simply following Muhammad's example of placing the sword at the neck, and offering the choice Islam has always offered - "Convert, or die!."
I wish to end by appealing to Muslim readers - please read all the accounts of Muhammad's life for yourself. Don't believe me. Read and judge for yourself. Your own humanity will tell you that this man was a cruel, manipulative charlatan. Most Muslims have been forced into Islam at some point in their family history. Please reject this religion that has been forced upon you. In Kashmir - the Hindus were forced into Islam by the cruel despot Sikandar Butshikan. If you read of how he imposed Islam by the sword, it will make your humanity cry. If you are Kashmiri, how can you stay in that religion that was forced upon your ancestors. If you are a muslim in Sindh, maybe one of the men murdered by Mohammad Bin Qasim was your forefather. If you are an Arab muslim, maybe the men murdered by Muhammad were your direct ancestors. Please leave this religion that has spread through violence, lies, and hatred. This is a sincere appeal to all Muslim readers.