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A Critical Exposition of the Popular ‘Jihad’— Part 4: No Proof of Mohammad's antagonism towards Christianity at any period of his life

By Moulavi Chirágh Ali 

 "The account of the embassy of the Bani Hanífa is more decidedly unfavourable to Christianity, but its details appear of doubtful authority. Moseilama, the false Prophet, was among the number, and there are some unlikely anticipation of his sacrilegious claims.

"As the embassy were departing, Mahomet gave them a vessel in which were the leavings of the water with which he had performed his lustration; and he said,--'_When you reach your country, break down your church, and sprinkle its sight with this water, and make in its place a mosque_'....

"The story appears to me improbable, because nowhere else is Mahomet represented as exhibiting such antagonism to Christians and their churches when they submitted themselves to him."--Muir's Life of Mahomet, Vol. II, pp. 303-4, _footnote_. The author changes his opinion in the fourth volume of his work and says: "I have there stated (in Vol. II) the story to be improbable. But I am now inclined to think that during the last year or two of Mahomet's life, there was quite enough of antagonistic feeling against Christianity as it presented itself in the profession of the Arab and Syrian tribes to support the narrative."--Life of Mahomet by Sir W. Muir, Vol. IV, page 218, _footnote_.

This is a mere presumption on the part of the writer, and there is no proof of Mohammad's antagonism towards Christianity at any period of his life except against those who waged war with him. The following verse of the Koran will show how far I am true:--

"Verily they who believe (Moslems), and they who follow the Jewish religion, and the Christians and Sabeites, whoever of those believeth in God and the Last Day, and doth that which is right shall have their reward with their Lord: Fear shall not come upon them, neither shall they be grieved."]

[Footnote 89: Also a Christian tribe in Yemen descended from the Kahtanite stock of the Bani Madhij, and collateral therefore with Bani Kinda. Two of the embassy, one of them being Akil or Abd-ul-Masih, the chief of the deputation, adopted Islam. The rest returned with a full guarantee from Mohammad for the preservation of their social and religious liberty. Further information regarding the Bani Háris of Najrán will be found at pp. 48 and 106 of this book.

"_Kâtib al Wâckidi_, p. 69. The subsequent history of the Najrán Christians is there traced. They continued in possession of their lands and rights under the treaty during the rest of Mohammad's life and the whole of Abu Bakr's Caliphate. Then they were accused of taking usury, and Omar expelled them from the land, and wrote as follows:--

"The despatch of Omar, the Commander of the Faithful, to the people of Najran. Whoever of them emigrates is under the guarantee of God. No Moslem shall injure them;--to fulfil that which Mahomet and Abu Bakr wrote unto them.

"Now to whomsoever of the chiefs of Syria and Irâc they may repair, let such chiefs allot them lands, and whatever they cultivate there from shall be theirs; it is an exchange for their own lands. None shall injure or maltreat them; Moslems shall assist them against oppressors. Their tribute is remitted for two years. They will not be troubled except for evil deeds.

"Some of them alighted in Irâc, and settled in Najránia near to Cufa.

"That the offence of usury is alleged in justification of this measure appears to me to disprove the common tradition that a command was said to have been given by Mahomet on his deathbed for the Peninsula to be swept clear of all other religions but Islam."--Muir's Life of Mahomet, Vol. II, pp. 301-2.]

[Footnote 90: Descendants of the great Ghatafán tribe already described.]

[Footnote 91: Bani Himyar from Yemen. The Himyarites are too well-known to be described. The Himyarite princes of Ro-en, Mu-afir, Hamadan and Bazan, all of the Christian faith in Yemen, embraced Islam and announced their conversion by letter sent to Mohammad through their emissaries which reached him after his return from Tabúk.]

[Footnote 92: Either a clan of Lakhm, or a branch of Bani Aámir.]

[Footnote 93: A sub-tribe of the Bani Aámir bin Sáasáa already described.]

[Footnote 94: The King of Omán, together with the people of Omán, embraced Islam during A.H. 8 and 9. The people of Omán were of the Azdite stock.]

[Footnote 95: Already described at page 43.]

[Footnote 96: A branch of Saad-al-Ashira from the Kahtanite stock. This tribe inhabited Yemen. They had some peculiar prejudice against eating the heart of an animal. Mohammad had caused their chief to break his superstition, which he did by making him eat the roasted heart of an animal.

But they returned disgusted when told that his (the chief's) mother who had committed infanticide was in hell. However they sent another deputation a second time and finally embraced Islam.]

[Footnote 97: They settled in Dumat-ul-Jundal, now Jal-al-Jowf, and north of Arabia. They were a tribe of the Bani Kozaá descended from Himyar.]

[Footnote 98: A tribe of the Kahtanite stock at Yemen. They lived in a hilly country of that name in Yemen.]

[Footnote 99: They were a tribe of the Kahtanite stock on the coast of Yemen.]

[Footnote 100: A clan of the Bani Aámir bin Sáasáa of the Hawázin tribe already described.]

[Footnote 101: Descendants of Khazima of the Moaddite stock.]

[Footnote 102: The Bani Kinda princes, Vail bin Hijar and Al-Ash-as bin Kays; the former, the chief of the coast, and the latter, the chief of the Hazaramaut in the south of Arabia. They with their whole clans embraced Islam. Bani Kinda were a powerful tribe of the Kahálánite stock.]

[Footnote 103: A clan of Ozra from Kozaá described at page 46.]

[Footnote 104: Descendants of Ghatafán of the Moaddite stock.]

[Footnote 105: They inhabited the sea-coast of Yemen, and were a tribe of Muzhie of the Kahtanite stock.]

[Footnote 106: A branch of the tribe of Aámir bin Sáasáa.]

[Footnote 107: A branch of Zobian.]

[Footnote 108: They were a tribe of the Kahtanite stock, residing in Yemen. Their deputation consisted of two hundred persons. It is said this was the last deputation received by Mohammad. Some time before this Ali was sent to the Bani Nakh-a and other tribes of the Mudhij stock in Yemen.]

[Footnote 109: A tribe of Kozaá of the Himyarite stock at Yemen.]

[Footnote 110: A sub-tribe of Kozaá inhabiting Syria described at page 46.]

[Footnote 111: A tribe of Muzhij of the Kahtanite stock at Yemen.]

[Footnote 112: They were a clan of the Bani Aámir bin Sáasáa already described.]

[Footnote 113: A tribe of the Kozaá of the Moaddite stock, and according to some from Yemen.]

[Footnote 114: Descendants of Hazaramaut of the Kahtanite stock at Yemen.]

[Footnote 115: A clan of the Bani Hanifa, descendants of Bakr bin Wail already described.]

[Footnote 116: A clan of the Bani Shaiban, the descendants of Bakr bin Wail already mentioned.]

[Footnote 117: The Bani Sakeef (Thackif) were a branch of the Mazar tribes of the Moaddite stock. They were a sub-tribe of the Hawázin and sister tribe to the Bani Adwán, Ghatafán, and Suleim. They (the Bani Sakeef) lived at Tayif and worshipped the idol _Lat_ or _Táqhia_. Orwa, a chief of Tayif, had gone to Medina to embrace Islam. His first generous impulse was to return to Tayif and invite his fellow-citizens to share in the blessings imparted by the new faith. Upon his making public his conversion, he was wounded by a mob and suffered martyrdom. But he left a favourable impression of Islam at Tayif. Their deputation consisted of six chiefs with fifteen or twenty followers. The Prophet received them gladly and pitched a tent for their accommodation in the court of his mosque. Every evening after supper he paid them there a visit and instructed them in the faith till it was dark. Sir W. Muir writes:--"The martyrdom of Orwa compromised the inhabitants of Tayif, and forced to continue the hostile course they had previously been pursuing. But they began to suffer severely from the marauding attacks of Bani Hawazin under Malik. That chief, according to his engagement, maintained the increasing predatory warfare against them."--Life of Mahomet, Vol. IV, page 204. At page 155 he says regarding Malik,--"being confirmed in his chief ship he engaged to maintain a constant warfare with the citizens of Tayif." But there was no such engagement with Málik. The authority (Hishamee) referred to by Sir W. Muir does not speak anything of the alleged engagement. _Vide_ Hishamee, page 879. Hishamee has only so much that Mohammad made Malik chief of those who were converted from the tribe. These were the clans of Somála, Salma, and Fahm, and that he used to fight with them against the Sakifites. Sir W. Muir further writes that the inhabitants of Tayif said among themselves: "We have not strength to fight against the Arab tribe all around that have plighted their faith to Mahomet, _and bound themselves to fight in his cause_" (Vol. IV, p. 205). The italics are mine and these words are not to be found in the original authorities. Hishamee (page 914) has _Bayaoo va Aslamoo_, _i.e._, they have plighted and submitted (or converted to Islam).]

[Footnote 118: Descendants of the Kozaá inhabited the hills of that name (Salámán).]

[Footnote 119: Descendants and branch of Bakr bin Wail.]

[Footnote 120: A tribe of the Kahtanite stock from Yemen.]

[Footnote 121: The Bani Taghlib bin Wail were a tribe of the Moaddite stock of Meccan origin and a sister tribe to the Bani Bakr bin Wail. Their wars are famous in the annals of Arabia. The war of Basús has been already alluded to under Bani Bakr. These tribes, the Bani Bakr and Taghlib, were located in Yemama, Bahrein, Najd, and Tihama, but lastly the Bani Taghlib had immigrated to Mesopotamia and professed the Christian faith. The members of their deputation to Mohammad wore golden crosses. When invited to Islam, they did not embrace it, but promised to allow their children to become Moslems. Mohammad allowed them to maintain unchanged their profession of Christianity. Their Christianity was of a notoriously superficial character. "The Taghlib," said Ali, the fourth Khalif, "are not Christians; they have borrowed from Christianity only the custom of drinking wine."--Dozy _Historie_, i, 20.]

[Footnote 122: A clan of Kinda from the sub-tribe of Sakun at Yemen.]

[Footnote 123: The Bani Tamim were descendants of Tabikha bin Elyas of the Moaddite stock. They are famous in the history of Najd, the north-eastern desert of which from the confines of Syria to Yemama they inhabited. They were at constant warfare with the Bani Bakr bin Abd Monát, descendants of Kinána of the Moaddite stock, from 615 to 630 A.D. All the branches of the tribe which had not yet converted to Islam were now converted in A.H. 9.]

[Footnote 124: The Bani Tay was a great tribe of the Kahtanite stock of Yemen, had moved northwards, and settled in the mountains of Ajá and Salmá to the north of Najd and Hijaz and the town of Tyma. They had adopted Christianity, but some of them were Jews and Pagans. Their intertribal war has been alluded to in Para. 26. The whole tribe now embraced Islam. "A deputation from the Bani Tay, headed by their chief, Zeid-al-Khail, came to Medina to ransom the prisoners, soon after Ali's expedition. Mahomet was charmed with Zeid, of whose fame both as a warrior and a poet he had long heard. He changed his name to Zeid _al Kheir_ (_the beneficent_), granted him a large tract of country, and sent him away laden with presents."

Muir's Life of Mahomet, Vol. IV, p. 178.]

[Footnote 125: They were a branch of Sad-al-Ashirá of the Mazhij tribe of the Kahtanite stock. They inhabited the sea-coast of Yemen.]

[Sidenote: All the conversions, individual and tribal, without any compulsion.]

32. Thus all these tribal conversions and the speedy spread of Islam in the whole of Arabia was accomplished without any resort to arms, compulsion, threat, or "the scymitar in one hand and the Koran in the other." The Pagan Arabs, the Christians and the Jews, those who embraced Islam adopted it joyfully and voluntarily. Islam had been much persecuted for many years from the third year of its Prophet's mission to the sixth year after the Hegira--a period of about sixteen years, but it flourished alike during persecutions and oppositions as well as during periods of peace and security of the Moslems. It was the result of Mohammad's staunch adherence to the uncompromising severity of his inflexible principles of preaching the divine Truth and his sincere belief in his own mission that he bore steadfastly all the hardships of persecutions at Mecca and the horrors of the aggressive wars of the Quraish and others at Medina, and persuaded the whole of Arabia, Pagan, Jewish and Christian, to adopt Islam voluntarily. [126]

[Footnote 126: The rebellion of almost the whole of Arabia—wrongly called apostasy--after the death of Mohammad was chiefly against the Government of Abu Bakr, the first Khalifa of the Republic of Islam. No such paramount power over the whole of Arabia was ever vested in the chiefs of Mecca, and the Arabs were unaccustomed to this new form of Government. They had neither rebelled against Islam, nor apostatized from their religion, except a very few of them who had attached themselves to Moseilama for a short time.]

[Sidenote: Mohammad was not favoured with circumstances round him.]

33. It was not an easy task for Mohammad to have converted the Arabs from their national idolatry to a religion of pure and strict monotheism. The aspect of Arabia was strictly conservative, and there were no prospects of hopeful changes. The indigenous idolatry and deep-rooted superstition, the worship of visible and material objects of devotion,--idols and unshaped stones,--something that the eyes can see and the hands can handle,--and the dread of invisible genii and other evil spirits, held the Arab mind in a rigorous and undisputed thraldom. Arabia was obstinately fixed in the profession of idolatry which the Peninsula being thickly overspread, widely diffused and thoroughly organized, was supported by national pride and latterly by the sword.

     "It was," writes Dr. Marcus Dods, "certainly no hopeful task which Mohammed undertook when he proposed by the influence of religion to combine into one nation tribes so incapable of being deeply influenced by any religion, and so irreconcilably opposed to one another; to abolish customs which had the sanction of immemorial usage; and to root out an idolatry, which, if it had no profound hold upon the spiritual nature, was at least bound up with old family traditions and well-understood tribal interests."[127]

The sacrifices made to, and the requirements essential to Islam, its numerous positive prohibitions, the immediate repudiation of old prejudices, the renunciation of all sorts of idolatry and superstition, the throwing aside of favourite idols and the abandoning of licentious rites and customs, the total abstinence from much-relished vices, the demand for producing practical effect on the will and character, and the reaping of material fruits from holy and religious life--were barriers insurmountable for the speedy progress of Islam.

Notwithstanding these impediments Mohammad succeeded, by the influence of his religion, in combining into one nation the wild and independent tribes, and putting a stop to their internecine wars; in abolishing the custom which had the sanction of immemorial usage; and in rooting out the national idolatry of indigenous growth, without compromising his inflexible principles of truth and sincerity and honesty; and without adopting the superstitions and vices of the people.

     Dr. Mosheim thinks that, "the causes of this new religion's rapid progress are not difficult to be discovered: Mahomet's law itself was admirably fitted to the natural disposition of man, but especially to the manners, opinions and vices prevalent among the people of the East; for it was extremely simple proposing few things to be believed; nor did it enjoin many and difficult duties to be performed, or such as laid severe restraints on the propensities."[128]

It is manifest from the history of religions that the people generally try their best to obtain religion's sanction for the vices prevalent among them. But there is no doubt in this that Mohammad never sanctioned the idolatries and superstitions of the Arabs, nor he framed his doctrines according to the opinions and fancies of the people. He preached vehemently against everything he found blamable in the people; he spared not their dear idols and beloved gods and the dreaded genii, nor accommodated his preaching and reform to indulge them in their evil practices; nor did he adopt any of the vices current among the people into his system.

Mohammad certainly did lay stress on the propensities of the mind and made the actions of the heart answerable to God, and preferred inward holiness to outside form.

     53. "The heart is prone to evils."--Sura XII.

     38. "The hearing and the sight and the heart, each of these shall be inquired of."--Sura XVI.

     225. "God will not punish you for a mistake in your oaths; but He will punish you for that which your hearts have assented to. God is gracious, merciful."

     284. "Whatever is in the Heavens and in the Earth is God's, and whether ye disclose what is in your minds or conceal it, God will reckon with you for it; and whom He pleaseth will He forgive, and whom he pleaseth will He punish; for God is All-powerful."—Sura II.

     5. "And unless made with intent of heart, mistakes in this matter shall be no crimes in you."--Sura XXXIII.

The teachings of the Koran make our natural inclination subject to regulation. It lays stress upon the heart of men. Note the following injunctions regarding internal purity:

     120. "Abandon the outside iniquity and its inside."--Sura VI.

     152. "Come not near the pollutions outside or inward."--_Ibid._

     31. "Say: Truly my Lord hath forbidden filthy actions whether open      or secret, and iniquity and unjust violence."--Sura VIII.

Referring to Dr. Mosheim's cause of the spread of Islam, I will quote Henry Hallam's opinion regarding the causes of the success of Islam.

enry Hallam, after enumerating the three important causes of the success of Islam, the first of which is "those just and elevated notions of the divine nature and of moral duties, the gold-ore that pervades the dross of the Koran, which were calculated to strike a serious and reflecting people," and explaining the two others which are not against us, he says:--

    "It may be expected that I should add to this what is commonly considered as a distinguishing mark of Mohammedanism,--its indulgence to voluptuousness. But this appears to be greatly exaggerated. Although the character of its founder may have been tainted by sensuality as ferociousness, I do not think that he relied upon inducements of the former kind for the diffusion of his system. We are not to judge of this by rules of Christian purity, or of European practice. If polygamy was a prevailing usage in Arabia, as is not questioned, its permission gave no additional license to the proselytes of Mohammed, who will be found rather to have narrowed the unbounded liberty of oriental manners in this respect; while his decided condemnation of adultery and of incestuous connections, so frequent among barbarous nations, does not argue a very lax and accommodating morality. A devout Mussulman exhibits much more of the stoical than the epicurean character. Nor can anyone read the Koran without being sensible that it breathes an austere and scrupulous spirit. And in fact, the founder of a new religion or sect is little likely to obtain permanent success by indulging the vices or luxuries of mankind. I should rather be disposed to reckon the severity of Mohammed's discipline among the causes of its influence. Precepts of ritual observance, being always definite and unequivocal, are less likely to be neglected, after their obligation has been acknowledged than those of moral virtue. Thus the long fasting, the pilgrimages, and regular prayers and ablutions, the constant almsgiving, the abstinence from stimulating liquors, enjoined by the Koran, created a visible standard of practice among its followers, and preserved a continual recollection of their law.

     "But the prevalence of Islam in the lifetime of its Prophet, and during the first ages of its existence, chiefly owed to the spirit of martial energy that he infused into it. The religion of Mohammed is as essentially a military system as the institution of chivalry in the west of Europe. The people of Arabia, a race of strong passions and sanguinary temper, inured to habits of pillage and murder, found in the law of their native prophet not a license, but a command, to desolate the world, and the promise of all that their glowing imaginations could anticipate of Paradise annexed to all in which they most delighted upon earth."[129]

This is sufficient to refute the opinion of Dr. Mosheim. But what Hallam says regarding the prevalence of Islam in the lifetime of the Prophet, and during the first ages of its existence, that "the people of Arabia, a race of strong passions and sanguinary temper, inured to habits of pillage and murder, found in the law of their native prophet not a license, but a command, to desolate the world," is untenable. There was neither a command nor a license to desolate the world, nor was any person or tribe converted to Islam with that object in view. All the teachings of the Koran and the history of the early spread of Islam falsify such an idea.

[Footnote 127: Mohammed, Buddha and Christ, by Marcus Dods, D.D., page 83.]

[Footnote 128: Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History, Book II, Chap. III, page 73.]

[Footnote 129: Hallam's Middle Ages, Vol. II, pp. 118-9.]

[Sidenote: Mohammad's unwavering belief in his own mission and his success show him to be a true prophet.]

URL of Part 1:ágh-ali/a-critical-exposition-of-the-popular-‘jihad’—part-1--jihad-does-not-exegetically-mean--warfare-/d/11091

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