Zaynab, daughter of Muhammad

Sirat p. 314
When the Meccans sent to ransom their prisoners, Zaynab [daughter of Muhammad, Muslim] sent the money for Abul-As [son-in-law, non-Muslim]; with it she sent a necklace which Khadija [her mother, first wife of Muhammad] had given her on her marriage to Abul-As. When Muhammad saw it, his feelings overcame him, and he said: “If you would like to let her have her captive husband back and return her money to her, do so.” The people at once agreed, and they let him go and sent her money back. Muhammad was not all greed and gloating. When his daughter asked to have her husband back, sending even the necklace from Khadija, his family feeling took over. He was released free of charge, and the entire ransom returned.


A significant event
This is the Battle of Badr, in all its glory. This is where Muhammad, took his religion from a fledgling tribe of emigrants to a considerable power in Medina, by at the same time deepening his alliance with the Medina Muslims and dealing the Meccans a dramatic blow. By any measure a defining moment in history. In the Quran and other places it is frequently referred to as “The day the two armies met.” It is significant that the battle took place in the holy month of Ramadan. This underlines that fighting, even non-defensively, in the cause of Allah, is a divinely sanctioned undertaking, obliberating the traditional ban on fighting in the holy months. The victory became legendary among the Muslims. The fast of Ramadan, which is still strictly obeyed by Muslims worldwide, was instituted at this time. It might even be seen as a kind of celebration of the victory. Continue reading

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Dividing the spoils

Sirat p. 307
Muhammad ordered that everything that had been collected in the camp should be brought together, and the Muslims quarrelled over it. Quarrels over booty is a recurring event among the early Muslims. Nothing surprising here. Allah took it out of their hands and gave it to Muhammad, and he divided it equally among the Muslims. At this time, equal distribution was the norm. Later the owners of horses and camels would get two extra shares, and even later the newly-converted Muslims would get the lions share of the booty to reward their conversion. Sura 8 (aptly named “The Spoils of War”) was revealed as a response to the quarrels. While we will not include the entire Sura here, nor comment on it, it is recommended reading in connection with the battle of Badr. We note that Allah, as always, is on the side of Muhammad when problems arise. Abu Usayd al-Saidi said: “I got a sword belonging to B. Aidh the Makhzumites which was called al-Marzuban, and when the messenger ordered everyone to turn in what they had taken, I came and threw it into the heap of spoils. Now the messenger never held back anything he was asked for, and al-Arqam knew this and asked him for it, and the messenger gave it to him.” It’s tricky to divy up the spoils. Abu Usayd was a good Muslim and threw in his new-found sword, only to see it given to the first person asking for it. Incidentically, we see in other places that Muhammad was perfectly capable of rejecting requests for particular pieces of booty. But that was later, when there were more Muslims and relatively less booty. Continue reading

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ISLAMABAD/LONDON (BosNewsLife)– Islamic militants have threatened to kill the director of a Christian advocacy group in Pakistan because he criticized controversial anti-blasphemy legislation on Pakistani television networks, his organization said Friday, March 25.

Joseph Francis, who leads the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) in Pakistan, said he received death threats after speaking about the “misuse” of the law to punish innocent people, including Christians, on programs ‘Policy Matters’ of Duniya TV and Kal Tak aired by the Express TV channel.

“After the murder of Punjab [province] Governor Salman Taseer and Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti in the last few months, these threats are being taken extremely seriously,” the group’s British affiliate CLAAS UK told BosNewsLife in a statement.

It was not immediately clear who threatened him. However suspected Islamic militants who killed Bhatti in Islamabad on March 2 left leaflets at the scene saying terror group al-Qaida and the Pakistani Taliban Movement in Punjab province would kill all those openly opposing the anti-blasphemy legislation. Continue reading

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KARACHI, Pakistan (CDN) — Two Christians were gunned down and two others are in a serious condition with bullet wounds after Muslim youths attacked them outside a church building in Hyderabad last night, witnesses said.

Residents of Hurr Camp, a colony of working-class Christians in Hyderabad in Sindh Province, were reportedly celebrating the 30th anniversary of their Salvation Army church when a group of Muslim youths gathered outside the building and started playing music loudly on their cell phones. They also started teasing Christian women as they arrived for the celebration, according to reports.

Christians Younis Masih, 47, Siddique Masih, 45, Jameel Masih, 22, and a 20-year-old identified as Waseem came out of the church building to stop the Muslim youths from teasing the Christian women, telling them to respect the sanctity of the church. A verbal clash ensued, after which the Muslim youths left, only to return with handguns.

Witnesses told Compass by phone that the Muslim youths opened fire on the Christians, killing Younis Masih and Jameel Masih instantly, and seriously injuring Siddique Masih and Waseem. The injured men have been transferred to a hospital in Karachi, the provincial capital of Sindh. Continue reading

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Killer angels

Sirat p. 303
After this incident, it is comforting to have something religious: One of the reasons quoted for the victory at Badr was the participation of killing angels: Abu Usayd Malik, who was present at Badr, told after he lost his sight: “If I were in Badr today and had my sight, I could show you the glen from which the angels emerged. I have not the slightest doubt on the point.” Abu Daud al-Mazini, who was at Badr, told: “I was pursuing a polytheist at Badr to smite him, when his head fell off before I could get at him with my sword, and I knew that someone else had killed him.” Abdullah b. Abbas told: “The sign of the angels at Badr was white turbans flowing behind them, at Hunayn they were red turbans.” Ibn Abbas told me: “The angels did not fight in any battle but Badr. In the other battles they were there as reinforcements, but they did not fight.”

Death of Abu Jahl

Sirat p. 304
Muawwidh b. Afra passed Abu Jahl as he lay there helpless and smote him until he left him at his last gasp. Then Abdullah b. Masud passed by Abu Jahl when Muhammad had ordered that he was to be searched for among the slain. IAbdullah b. Masud said that he found him at his last gasp and put his foot on his neck and said to him: “Has Allah put you to shame, you enemy of Allah?” He replied: “How has He shamed me? Am I anything more remarkable than a man you have killed? Tell me how the battle went.” He told him that it went in favor of Allah and his messenger. Abu Jahl is a leader of the Quraysh. Getting him down is significant. He said to me: “You have climbed high, little shepherd.” Then I cut off his head and brought it to Muhammad saying: “This is the head of the enemy of Allah, Abu Jahl.” He said: “By Allah than Whom there is no other, is it?” “Yes,” I said, and I threw his head before Muhammad, and he gave thanks to Allah. This is so clear it doesn’t need additional comment. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

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The first prophecy

Sirat p. 290
Atika saw a vision which frightened her. She sent to her brother al-Abbas, saying: “Brother, last night I saw a vision whcih bfrightened me, and I am afraid that evil and misfortune will come upon your people, so treat what I tell you as a confidence.” He aksed what she had seen, and she said: “I saw a rider coming upon a camel who halted in the valley. Then he cried at the top of his voice: “Come forth, Oh people, ´do not leave yor men to face a disaster what will come upon you in three days time.” I saw the people flock to him, and then he went into the mosque with the people following him. While they were round him, his camel mounted to the top of the Ka’aba. Then he called out again, using the same words. Then his camel monted to the top of Abu Qubays [a mountain nearby], and he cried out again. Then he seized a rock and loosened it, and it began to fall, unitl at the bottom of the mountain it split into pieces. There was not a house or a dwelling in Mecca but received a bit of it. This dream is immediately recognized as a vision by the Meccans. Al-Abbas said: “By Allah, this is indeed a vision, and you had better keep quet about it and not tell anyone.” But the story soon escaped into the town talk of Mecca. Soon after: Abu Jahl said [addressing the Muttalib family, to which Muhammad belonged]: “Oh Banu Abdul-Muttalib, since when have you had a prophetess among you?” [..] “Are you not satisfied that your men should play the prohet, that your women should do so also? Atika has alleged that in her vision someone said: “Come forth to war in three days.” We shall keep an eye on you these three days, and if what she says is true, then it will be so; but if the three days pass and nothing happens, we will write you down as the greatest liars of the temple people among the Arabs.” Story out, the idea to have another prophet in the family is not particular appealing. And a woman, at that! The solution to this is obvious: Wait out the three days, and declare her a liar if nothing happened. On the third day after Atika’s vision, Abu Jahl heard the voice of Damdam crying out in the bottom of the wadi, as he stood upon his camel, having cut his nose, turned his saddle around, and rent his shirt, while he was saying: “Oh Qurays, the transport camels, the transport camels! Muhammad and his companions are lying in wait for your property which is with Abu Sufyan. I do not think that you will overtake it. Help! help!” The vision of Atika had an interesting quality: It was prophetic. After three days, indeed comes a rider on a camel calling out in warning to the Quraysh. One might wonder if this is not a problem for the claim of Muhammad to be a prophet? After all, the prophets of Israel had this quality of visions useful to guide their people. But the point is actually rendered moot, for Islam has an additional meaning to the word ‘prophet’, namely to be a divine messenger handing out the scripture stored in heaven since the beginning of time. It is thus the revelations that earn Muhammad the title of prophet, not prophecies in the traditional sense. Continue reading

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