The second prophecy

Sirat p. 296
Quraysh advanced, and when they reached al-Juhfa, Juhaym saw a vision. He said: “Between waking and sleeping I saw a man advancing on a horse with a camel, and then he halted and said: “Slain are: Utba and shayba and Abul-Hakam and Umayya (and he went on to enumerate the men who were killed ad Badr, all nobles of Quraysh). Then I saw him stab his camel in the chest and send it loose into the camp, and every single tent was bestappered with its blood.” When the story reached Abu Jalh, he said: “Here’s another prophet from B. al-Muttalib! He’ll know tomorrow if we meet them, who is going to be killed!” The family of Muhammad were more prone to having prophecies than himself. This one also doesn’t bode well. When Abu Sufyan saw that he had saved his caravan, he sent word to Quraysh: “Since you came out to save your caravan, your men, and your property, and Allah has delivered them, go back.” Abu Sufyan, the caravan leader, has enough common sense to ask his men away from the danger of battle. After all, these people were merchants more than militants. Abu Jahl said: “By Allah, we ill not go back until we have been to Badr” – Badr was the site of one of the Arab fairs where they used to hold a market every hear. “We will spend three days there, slaughter camels and feast and drink wine, and the girls shall play for us. The Arabs will hear that we have come and gathered together, and will respect us in the future. So come on!” The lure of the festival overrides the danger. And what would there be to fear? The main target of Muhammad and the Muslims, the caravan, is away in safety. Further, it is still the holy month of Ramadan, where the tradition of the Arabs was to put aside their swords and have a festival. Only the two prophect dreams tell the Quraysh that not everything is fine.

The battle

Sirat p. 297
After some preparation for the battle from the side of the Muslims, we come to: Quraysh, having marched forth at daybreak, now came on. When Muhammad saw them descending fromt he hill Aqanqal into the valley, he cried: “Oh Allah, here come the Quraysh in their vanity and pride, contending with Thee and calling Thy messenger a liar. Oh Allah, grant the help which Thoug didst promise me. Destroy them this morning!” King James style English aside, we here get the reason that Muhammad wants them destroyed in battle: They contended with him and called him a liar. In other words, they did not recognize him as being the messenger of Allah. Muhammad went forth to the people and incited them, saying: “By Allah, in whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, no man will be slain this day fighting againstthem with steadfast courage, advancing, not retreating, but Allah will cause him to enter Paradise.” Umar b. al-Humam was eating some dates which he had in his hand. “Fine, fine!”, said he, “is there nothing between me and my entering paradise save to be killed by these men?” He flung the dates from his hand, seized his sword, and fought against them till he was slain. Paradise appears an effective motivation to enter battle. Fundamentalist Jihad warriors of today share the conviction. Auf b. Harith said: “Oh, messenger of Allah, what makes the Lord laugh with joy at His servant?” He answered: When he plunges into the midst of the enemy without mail.” Auf drew off the mail-coat that was on him and threw it away; then he seized his sword and fought the enemy until he was slain. This fatalistic approach to battle is nothing short of amazing. As an aside, the Judeo-Christian God never encouraged such suicidal behaviour. Here and in other places (very frequently in the Quran) we see Allah take a remarkable enjoyment in death and punishment. When the warriors advanced to battle and drew near to one another, Abu Jahl cried: “Oh Allah, destroy this morning him that more than any of us has cut the ties of kinship and wrought that which is not approved.” Thus, he condemned himself to death. The gripe of the Meccans against Muhammad were more clear. Muhammad had broken the ties of kinship, plundered caravans, taken prisoners, killed etc., much of it even during the holy months. Abu Jahl obviously sees this battle as an opportunity to stop this. Then Muhammad took a handful of small pebbles and said, turning towards Wuraysh, “Foul be those faces!” Then he threw the pebbles at them and ordered his companions to charge. The foe was routed. Allah slew many of their chiefs and made captive many of their nobles. Like so many religious wars during the ages, the net result was defeat to one side, death of many a man, and the capture of others. The two prophetic dreams of the Quraysh had come true: The best of the Quraysh men were slain or taken captive.

Captives and killing

Sirat p. 301
Then Muhammad took a handful of small pebbles and said, turning towards Quraysh: “Foul be those faces!”Then he threw the pebbles at them and ordered his companions to charge. The foe was routed. Allah slew many of their chiefs and made captive many of their nobles. Meanwhile Muhammad was in the hut and Sad b. Muadh was standing at the door of the hut girt with his sword. With him were some of the Ansar guarding Muhammad for fear lest the enemy should come back at him. A small hut had been constructed where Muhammad could watch the battle with his personal escort. While he used to urge his soldiers to martyrdom, he did not have the habit of seeking the priviledge for himself. While the folk were laying their hands on the prisoners, Muhammad, as I have been told, saw displeasure on the face of Sad at what they were doing. He said to him: “You seem to dislike what the people are doing?” “Yes, by Allah,” he replied, “it is the first defeat that Allah has brougt on the infidel and I would rather see them slaughtered than left alive.” Sad is among the more blood-thirsty of the Muslims, making killing a higher priority than ransom. His position is supported by the Quran, Sura 8, “The Spoils of War”: Quran 8:67: It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war (and free them with ransom) until he had made a great slaughter (among his enemies) in the land. You desire the good of this world (i.e. the money of ransom for freeing the captives), but Allâh desires (for you) the Hereafter. And Allâh is All-Mighty, All-Wise. Muhammad said: I know that some of the B. Hashim and others have been forced to come out against their will and have no desire to fight us; so if any of you meet one of the B. Hashim or Abul-Bakhtari or al-Abbas (Muhammad’s uncle) do not kill him, for he has been made to come out against his will.” Abu Hudhayfa said: “Are we to kill our fathers and our sons and our brothers and our families, and leave al-Abbas? By Allah, if I meet him I will flesh my sword in him!” One of the Muslims objects to Muhammad having ordered them to fight their clan and family, and now requesting them to spare his own uncle. Let’s see how that plays out. This saying reached Muhammad, and he said to [future Caliph] Umar: “Oh Abu Hafs, ought the face of the messengers uncle to be marked with the sword?” Umar replied: “Let me off with his head! By Allah, the man is a false Muslim.” Not so well, after all. Abu Hudhayfa is now in danger of decapitation for his unruly behaviour towards Muhammad. Ibn Ishaq has this interesting footnote: “The verb rom which ‘munafiqun’, generally ‘hypocrites’, is formed. Clearly it includes the meaning of a rebel against the prophet’s authority; perhaps the underlying idea is feigned obedience.” The Quran agrees: Quran 8:20-23: O you who believe! Obey Allâh and His Messenger, and turn not away from him while you are hearing. And be not like those who say: “We have heard,” but they hear not. Verily, the worst of living creatures with Allâh are the deaf and the dumb, who understand not. Had Allâh known of any good in them, He would indeed have made them listen; and even if He had made them listen, they would but have turned away with aversion. It is somewhat convoluted, but the bottom line is that obedience to Allah _and_ his Messenger are central messages of the teaching, and those who do not understand this are deaf and dumb. Ishaq:322 Allah said: “Turn not away from Muhammad when your are istening.” i.e. Do not contradict his orders when you hear him speak and while you assert that you are on his side. “And be not like those who said: “We hear” when they did not hear.” i.e. Like the hypocrites who pretend to be obedient and are secretly disobedient to him.” No doubt that obedience is the highest religious quality in Islam. Obedience to Muhammad, interestingly, not directly to Allah. “O you who believe, respond to Allah and Muhammad when he summons you to that which will quicken you.” i.e. to the war in which Allah exalted you after humiliation, and made you strong after weakness, and protected you from your enemies after you had been overcome by them.” These Quran quotes repeated in the Hadith makes things quite clear. When Muslims are called to war, they must follow. One has to be quite deaf and dumb to not understand this.

Umayya and his son

Sirat p. 302
On the day of Badr I passed Umayya standing with his son Ali holding him by the hand. I was carrying coats of mail which I had looted; and when he saw me he said: “Won’t you take me prisoner, for I am more valuable than these coats of mail which you have?” Presumably, Umayya is seeking some protection for himself and his son after having lost the battle. “By Allah I will,” I said. So I threw away the mail and took him and his son by the hand, he saying the while: “I never saw a ady like this. Have you no use for milk?” Then I walked off with the pair of them. Taking prisoners and trading slaves was normal in Arabia at this time. Not knowing the price on healthy male slaves, we can assume that it is significantly higher than the coats of mail Abdul-Ilah throws away here. Umayya said to me as I walked between them holding their hands: “Who is that man who is wearing an ostrich feather on his breast?” When I told him it was Hamza, he said that it was he who had done them so much damage. As I was leading them away, Bilal saw him with me. Now it was Umayya who used to torture Bilal in Mecca to make him abandon Islam. […] As soon as he saw him he said: “The arch-infidel Umayya b. Khalaf! May I not live if he lives.” I said: “(would you attack) my prisoners?” One might think that having the ‘arch-infidel’ being prisoner would be sufficient for the poor Bilal. But he kept cyring out these words in spite of my remonstrances, until finally he shouted at the top of his voice: “Oh Allah’s Helpers, the arch-infidel Umayya b. Khalaf! May I not live if he lives.” The people formed a ring around us as I was protecting him. Then a man drew his sword and cut off his son’s foot so that he fell down and Umayya let out a cry as I have never heard; That was not nice. Instead of cutting down the offender, they go for his son, who presumably did not do any wrong. At least nothing is listed. and I said to him: “Make your escape” (though he had no chance of escape) “I can do nothing for you.” As a last-ditch effort, Abdul-Ilah suggests his former friend, now slave, to escape. But unarmed and completely outnumbered, there is little to do. They hewed him to pieces with their swords until they were dead. Abdul-Ilah used to say: “Allah have mercy on Bilal. I lost my coats of mail and he deprived me of my prisoners.” Uh. Abdul-Ilah just saw and old friend of his, and his son, cut to pieces. All he grieves, however, is his economical loss, both the mail (which presumably someone else would have looted by now) and the prisoners. One should think that at least Bilal would compensate him. But that does not seem to be the case.


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