Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A very brief background of Prophet Mohammad

Prophet was born in the year 569 and lost his father very early and then Mother, when he was only 7 years old. Then he was brought up by his grand father and then Uncle Abu Talib. He belongs to a tribe Quraysh, largest and powerful in Mecca. He married a wealthy woman named Khadija when he was 25 and she was 40 (it is not 100% accurate, better to say between 35 and 40) and she was a wealthy merchant. For her this was second or third marriage. She was very powerful and wealthy too. Prophet, before the marriage, worked for her by managing her caravans.

Then in the year 610, he started receiving revelations from angel Gabriel. Before this he tried to commit suicide but was stopped by angel Gabriel and asked him to be Allah’s messenger. So after some time, initial hesitation, he started preaching in Mecca. But then he and his followers were persecuted and expelled from Mecca along with his followers. This is what Muslims and Islamic apologists say.

Let’s get it straight a bit. It was true that people of Quraysh disliked his teachings and called him mad. Remember Mecca was a trading center and also a major place of pilgrimage because of Ka’ba. Yes, Ka’ba was a holy place much before the arrival of Islam and its Prophet. From many places pilgrims used to come to Mecca to perform rituals. Many of these rituals are followed by Muslims even today because they were sanctioned in holy Koran.

Some of them are shaving head, running between hills (Al-Safa and Al-Marwah), circumventing the Ka’ba in counter clockwise direction three times, fasting. Originally Ka’ba used to house about 360 gods (or Idols), major one being moon god Hubal. One should also understand that this pilgrimage used to be a source of major revenue and also their livelihood for Meccans. It should be noted that, of 360 idols there was a rock structure (other than black stone) which Pagans of Mecca recognized as Moon god, Hubal. When Prophet conquered Mecca, he destroyed all the idols in Ka’ba except this one. He claimed this structure as House of God and was built by Abraham on the command by Allah.

Prophet was initially allowed to preach freely and to of no success. He tried to take his message to the Jews and Christians, but was rejected. In the first 13 years he gained only 150 followers in Mecca. Majority of these were very poor. Frustrated with this lack of progress Prophet started abusing Pagans and their religion, so the quarrels developed between them. They didn't harm him because of his uncle and his wife who were very influential  in Mecca. They(Pagans) asked his uncle to negotiate truce between them and Prophet. Why did they do this when they could kill him easily? Call it tolerance and tribal kinship.

In fact, Koran or any Hadiths never mention physical harm to Prophet at the hands of this Quraysh tribe, except a lone incident by a man when he was praying at Ka’ba.

Concerns of Quraysh tribe are highly justified because his preachings and acts could affect the Pilgrims and revenue that comes from them. In fact at one time Prophet said that he came to bring slaughter to them (Pagans). The Quraysh tribe tried to settle the whole issue through his uncle Abu Talib.

Check this from Ibn Ishaq's book,

[The leading men of Mecca] went to Abu Talib [and said] “Your nephew has cursed our gods, insulted our religion, mocked our way of life and accused our forefathers of error. Either you must stop him or you must let us get at him”

But Abu Talib would not relent:

The apostle continued on his way… In consequence, his relations with the Quraysh [Meccans] deteriorated and men withdrew from him in enmity. (Ibn Ishaq’s sira 168).

Now if this is not tolerance what it is? If you observe closely this looks much better than the way today's Muslims behave and deal with people of other faiths. Overall he was allowed to preach for whole 13 years and this it self tells of tolerance.

The story that early Muslims were persecuted by Meccans was a fabricated one (Victorious version of history). All that Meccans did was to boycott Muslims economically, but never any physical violence, except once which was mentioned in ahadith. They never even tried to damage  the properties of Muslims.  In fact many Muslims stayed behind in Mecca, even after Prophet asked them to migrate to Medina (Yathrib) which eventually enraged him. Why did they stay in Mecca when others were threatening and persecuting them? In fact tolerance showed by Pagans of Mecca was far better than Islamic tolerance towards other religious people in today’s world.

Prophet migrated to Medina (Yathrib) in the year 622 AD. Prior to this, he also asked his followers to move to Medina and many moved and few stayed back. Muslim apologists say that Meccans tried to kill him and other Muslims, so he had to escape. Even Koran disagrees with this. If Meccans wanted to kill Prophet and others, why didn't they kill Ali, his cousin and later to become his son-in-law? Ibn Ishaq writes:

"Ali stayed in Mecca for three days and nights until he had restored the deposits which the apostle held."  (Ibn Ishaq 335)

After moving to Medina, Prophet and his men started raiding the caravans from and to Syria, including the caravans of Meccans, in the process instigating battle of Badr (624 AD), which he won. After this Muslims lost at Uhud (625 AD) against Meccans (He was injured here) and defended them selves successfully in the battle of trenches (627 AD) at Medina against confederates or clans (Group of some tribes in Arabian Peninsula). This battle of trenches was the only defensive battle for Muslims. In fact Muslims were the first ones to draw blood in the feud between Muslims and Meccans.

And in the year 628 he reached a treaty called Treaty of Hudaibiya with Meccans for about ten years. But in less than 21 months he broke it by invading Mecca in the year 630 (Jan) and conquering. He then tried to seize Tabuk (October) with 30,000 thousand strong army, a Christian city, part of Byzantine Empire, but seeing no armies from other side he retreated to Medina, only after ensuring that Christians living there agreed to pay Jizya tax. Then came the question of making Hajj to Mecca. But as other Pagans from all over Arabian Peninsula will be coming, he sent Abu Bakr (First Caliph after Prophet) to Mecca, as he disliked Pagans coming to Ka’ba.

At this point, Prophet delivered the Guillotine on all Pagans living in Arabian Peninsula, in the form Allah's revelation, Sura 9 (actually it is infamous verse of sword 9:5, which gave two choices to Pagans, either death or Islam). When this was reveled he was more or less undisputed authority in Arabian Peninsula. In essence, to say Prophet fought wars to defend him self is a pure lie and a deceit. We see more on this.

In the ten years of his stay in Medina Prophet organized or participated in 86 wars, one per every 6 weeks. Some say the number is 78 but what is the difference between 78 and 86.

Prophet died in the year 632 AD (June). At this time entire Arabian Peninsula was under the control of Muslims. Immediately after his death, Many Muslims were leaving Islam and also many stopped paying tax, called Zakat, but the first Caliph Abu Bakr fought them successfully. These wars were referred to as Riddah wars.

So in Mecca, Prophet preached peacefully for 13 years and had about 150 followers. In Medina when Prophet started fighting, entire Arabian Peninsula fell to his command in less than ten years.