Saturday, March 06, 2010

Muhammad and the West


By: John L. Esposito

Talk of Islam's new moral order and the normative nature that Muhammad's life had for Muslims seems to clash with Western perceptions of Islam. If Muslim tradition tended to mythify the Prophet, Western tradition too often has denigrated and vilified his memory. Two issues in particular-Muhammad's treatment of the Jews and his (polygynous) marriages-have proven popular stumbling blocks, or perhaps more accurately whipping posts, for Western critics and polemics.In his early preaching, Muhammad had looked to the Jews and Christians of Arabia as natural allies whose faiths had much in common with Islam. He anticipated their acceptance and approval. When the Islamic community was established at Medina, Muslims, like the Jews, had faced Jerusalem to pray. However, the Jewish tribes, which had long lived in Medina and had political ties with the Quraysh, tended to resist both religious and political cooperation with the Muslims.

They denied Muhammad's prophet-hood and message and cooperated with his Meccan enemies. While the constitution of Medina had granted them autonomy in internal religious affairs, political loyalty and allegiance were expected. Yet the Quran accuses the Jewish tribes of regularly breaking such pacts: "Why is it that whenever they make pacts, a group among them casts it aside unilaterally?" (2:100).

After each major battle, one of the Jewish tribes was accused and punished for such acts. Muslim perception of distrust, intrigue, and rejection on the part of the Jews led first to exile and later to warfare. After Badr, the Banu Qainuqa tribe and after the Battle of Uhud, the Banu Nadir, with their families and possessions, were expelled from Medina. After the Battle of the Ditch in 627, the Jews of the Banu Qurayza were denounced as traitors who had consorted with the Meccans. As was common in Arab (and, indeed, Semitic) practice, the men were massacred; the women and children were spared but enslaved. However, it is important to note that the motivation for such actions was political rather than racial or theological. Although the Banu Qurayza had remained neutral, they had also negotiated with the Quraysh.

Moreover, the exiled Jewish clans had actively supported the Meccans. Muhammad moved decisively to crush the Jews who remained in Medina, viewing them as a continued political threat to the consolidation of Muslim dominance and rule in Arabia.One final point should be made. Muhammad's use of warfare in general was alien neither to Arab custom nor to that of the Hebrew prophets. Both believed that God had sanctioned battle with the enemies of the Lord. Biblical stories about the exploits of kings and prophets such as Moses, Joshua, Elijah, Samuel, Jehu, Saul, and David recount the struggles of a community called by God and the permissibility, indeed requirement, to take up arms when necessary against those who had defied God, and to fight "in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel." Similarly, in speaking of the Israelite conquests, Moses recalls: "And I commanded you at that time, saying, 'The Lord your God has given you this land to possess. . . . You shall not fear them; for it is the Lord your God who fights for you " (Deuteronomy 3:18-22).

Muhammad's marriages have long provided another source of Western criticism of the moral character of the Prophet. A noted British author has observed:

No great religious leader has been so maligned as Muhammad. Attacked in the past as a heretic, an impostor, or a sensualist, it is still possible to find him referred to as "the false prophet." A modern German writer accuses Muhammad of sensuality, surrounding himself with young women. This man was not married until he was twenty-five years of age, then he and his wife lived in happiness and fidelity for twenty-four years, until her death when he was forty-nine. Only between the age of fifty and his death at sixty-two did Muhammad take other wives, only one of whom was a virgin, and most of them were taken for dynastic and political reasons. Certainly the Prophet's record was better than that head of the Church of England, Henry VIII.

In addressing the issue of Muhammad's polygamous marriages, it is important to remember several points. First, Semitic culture in general and Arab practice in particular permitted polygamy. It was common practice in Arabian society, especially among nobles and leaders. Though less common, polygamy was also permitted in biblical and even in post biblical Judaism. From Abraham, David, and Solomon down to the reformation period, polygamy was practiced by some Jews. While Jewish law changed after the Middle Ages due to the influence of Christian rule, for Jews under Islamic rule, polygamy remained licit, though it was not extensively practiced . Second, during the prime of his life, Muhammad remained married to one woman, Khadija. Third, it was only after her death that he took a number of wives. Fourth, Muhammad's use of the special dispensation from God to exceed the limit of four wives imposed by the Quran, occurred only after the death of Khadija. Moreover, most of the eleven marriages had political and social motives. As was customary for Arab chiefs, many were political marriages to cement alliances. Others were marriages to the widows of his companions who had fallen in combat and were in need of protection. Remarriage was difficult in a society that emphasized virgin marriages. Aisha was the only virgin that Muhammad married and the wife with whom he had the closest relationship. Fifth, as we shall see later, Muhammad's teachings and actions, as well as the Quranic message, improved the status of all women-wives, daughters, mothers, widows, and orphans.Talk of the political and social motives behind many of the Prophet's marriages should not obscure the fact that Muhammad was attracted to women and enjoyed his wives. To deny this would contradict the Islamic outlook on marriage and sexuality, found in both revelation and Prophetic traditions, which emphasizes the importance of family and views sex as a gift from God to be enjoyed within the bonds of marriage. The many stories about Muhammad's concern and care for his wives reflect these values.

Excerpted from 'Islam the Straight Way' by Professor John L. Esposito, Director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University

Blogger comment:
It is time for Muslims to believe firmly in the Quran as God's book. We do not need to do politics anymore we have to say it like it is. The evil Jews (not the good ones) stood against most God's prophets. Jesus (PBUH) from the first moment they stood against him and put him under the microscope to cause the anguish of his soul and lastly tried to literally take his soul by their conspiracy to get him killed. We do not need to make politics anymore with them but to expose the evil ones. There are very good Jews and there are the evil Jews who control the world and were always standing against God and in the last days before Christ they will try to maintain the kingdom of Satan.
They knew deeply from their heart that Jesus (PBUH) and Muhammad (PBUH) are prophets from God and they chose to stand against them with all of their tactics and wickedness. If you notice both started their mission trying to win the Jews over. God know the future and know that the Jews will stand against them however he still gave the chance to the Jews. The effect of Satan and their heard hearts are well explained in the Quran. Read what God said about them in the Quran to us and to Muhammad (PBUH).

وَإِذْ أَخَذْنَا مِيثَاقَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ لاَ تَعْبُدُونَ إِلاَّ اللّهَ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَاناً وَذِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْيَتَامَى وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَقُولُواْ لِلنَّاسِ حُسْناً وَأَقِيمُواْ الصَّلاَةَ وَآتُواْ الزَّكَاةَ ثُمَّ تَوَلَّيْتُمْ إِلاَّ قَلِيلاً مِّنكُمْ وَأَنتُم مِّعْرِضُونَ (2:83)
2:83 (Picktall) And (remember) when We made a covenant with the children of israel, (saying): Worship none save Allah (only), and be good to parents and to kindred and to orphans and the needy, and speak kindly to mankind; and establish worship and pay the poor due. Then, after that, ye slid back, save a few of you, being averse.

لَقَدْ أَخَذْنَا مِيثَاقَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ وَأَرْسَلْنَا إِلَيْهِمْ رُسُلاً كُلَّمَا جَاءهُمْ رَسُولٌ بِمَا لاَ تَهْوَى أَنْفُسُهُمْ فَرِيقًا كَذَّبُواْ وَفَرِيقًا يَقْتُلُونَ (5:70)
5:70 (Picktall) We made a covenant of old with the children of israel and We sent unto them messengers. As often as a messenger came unto them with that which their souls desired not (they became rebellious). Some (of them) they denied and some they slew.

لُعِنَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ مِن بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ عَلَى لِسَانِ دَاوُودَ وَعِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ ذَلِكَ بِمَا عَصَوا وَّكَانُواْ يَعْتَدُونَ (5:78)
5:78 (Picktall) Those of the children of israel who went astray were cursed by the tongue of David, and of Jesus, son of Mary. That was because they rebelled and used to transgress.

إِذْ قَالَ اللّهُ يَا عِيسى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ اذْكُرْ نِعْمَتِي عَلَيْكَ وَعَلَى وَالِدَتِكَ إِذْ أَيَّدتُّكَ بِرُوحِ الْقُدُسِ تُكَلِّمُ النَّاسَ فِي الْمَهْدِ وَكَهْلاً وَإِذْ عَلَّمْتُكَ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَالتَّوْرَاةَ وَالإِنجِيلَ وَإِذْ تَخْلُقُ مِنَ الطِّينِ كَهَيْئَةِ الطَّيْرِ بِإِذْنِي فَتَنفُخُ فِيهَا فَتَكُونُ طَيْرًا بِإِذْنِي وَتُبْرِىءُ الأَكْمَهَ وَالأَبْرَصَ بِإِذْنِي وَإِذْ تُخْرِجُ الْمَوتَى بِإِذْنِي وَإِذْ كَفَفْتُ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ عَنكَ إِذْ جِئْتَهُمْ بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ فَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ مِنْهُمْ إِنْ هَـذَا إِلاَّ سِحْرٌ مُّبِينٌ (5:110)
5:110 (Picktall) When Allah saith: O Jesus, son of Mary! Remember My favor unto thee and unto thy mother; how I strengthened thee with the holy Spirit, so that thou spakest unto mankind in the cradle as in maturity; and how I taught thee the Scripture and Wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel; and how thou didst shape of clay as it were the likeness of a bird by My permission, and didst blow upon it and it was a bird by My permission, and thou didst heal him who was born blind and the leper by My permission; and how thou didst raise the dead, by My permission and how I restrained the children of israel from (harming) thee when thou camest unto them with clear proofs, and those of them who disbelieved exclaimed: This is naught else than mere magic;

As you see in the Quran and read in the Gospels you found the Jews standing against Jesus with all their wickedness and God according to the Quran stopped the Children of Israel from harming Jesus anymore when he raised him. He just had it with them. In fact for their evil deeds God will let them believe in a messiah that will not be Jesus but in fact the Anti-Christ.

For honesty there are some good Jews who are the best of us. I encourage them to recruit Jews to their side and save other Jews eternity. Jesus is the messiah it is time for the Jews to accept him and stop their wickedness.

Regarding the polygamy of the prophet Muslims consider it God wish rather than the prophet since in all his life he was monogamous until the age of 52 at the epic of his prophethood when has his enemies were everywhere. There women he married were mostly widowed Muslims women who may not even have chance to marry and he honoured them by the marriage. One of them was a daughter of a friend of him that Muslim were reluctant to marry her for her strong personality. Muhammad married her to please his friend. His marriages were more to take care of the orphans and honour close friends.

No liar, impostor, social reformer .....would do that in top of his prophetic or political career. He would be afraid one of the women would say I quote him in a lie or he has temper. The fact that they all attested for him to be a prophet of God and praised his morality and his soundness and wisdom is another great proff of his prophethood.

I would personally prefer for him to marry one woman so we do not hear the hatred of some of the people of the book but as Muslims we have to respect the wisdom of God at that time for Muslims not to leave the widowed and the orphans at this epic of time of Islam without a caring husband and a man to help to raise their kids with and who would do that better than the prophet.
The polygamy in Islam in general is the exception when become necessary. For men who thinks they need more than one wife. You have the right to do that if: the first wife would accept that, you can support both and you will be just and balanced with both. Still the problems with polygamy are less than that of fornication. You see in the latter more broken families, sexually transmitted diseases, illegitimate children and violent community.

Time for Muslims to have strong faith and do not care what the others will say. Jesus is our messiah and he will descend to earth and he will govern by Islam since its Shariah is both comprehensive, just and above all from the creator who is being fought by the Evil Jews and their allies from world leaders particularly the Arab tyrants. Again ask the Arab tyrants for a simple test to say in public I am not Al Mahdi Al Muntazer.

No comments: