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Hunt for Paradise: The Western-Muhamaddan ConnectionA BIT ABOUT RELIGIONS, POLITICS, MONIES, YOU [AND MORE ...]
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Begonius
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Quranization of the Scripture
In the early days of Islam, an event took place in Medina that resonates to the present day. The year was CE 627 and Muhammad, angry at the Jews for laughing at him because of his baroque interpretation of the Bible, issued an order to the Jewish community in Nadir to convert to Islam or else. The Jews refused and, as a result, between seven hundred and eight hundred men of the Jewish Banu Nadir of the Quraidha tribe, their hands tied behind them, were one by one decapitated; their women and children were sold to slavery.
Previously, members of another Jewish tribe at Nadir, the Qanuqa, had been for the same reason expelled, their land, homes, and cattle confiscated and given to the Emigrants." A similar fate awaited the Jews of Kheybar, a region in the north of Arabia where the Prophet went to wage a military campaign following the Nadir tragedy.
The tribe of Banu Nadir dwellings were surrounded by date palm orchards known for producing the best fruit in the region. Angry by what he saw as Jewish insubordination, and justifying his act by citing a revelation he'd received from God to the effect that Jews plotted to assassinate him, the Prophet ordered the trees in the orchard cut down, despite the Banu Nadir Jews pleading with him not to cut down the trees, reminding him that it was he who had forbidden the practice.
In his book Why I Am Not a Muslim, Ibn Warraq quotes the late Episcopalian minister, scholar, and spokesman for the Christian ministry in London, W. Montgomery Watt, as saying that the tragic lot of the Banu Nadir conformed to a conduct "expected from any devout Muslim," excusing thereby the bloody act as an appropriate behavior that complies with Muslim ethics. A number of his colleagues disagree with Watt's rhetoric, however, pointing out that not only does it ignore the Christian principle of unconditional love, a maxim that prevents a pious Christian from harming a person under any circumstance, but that in effect it excuses the Muslim's violent deeds.
Karen Armstrong, a religious scholar in her own right, also thinks that Muhammad was right to annihilate the Banu Nadir Jews because they "formed alliances with the Meccans" and in so doing "posed a threat" to Muslims. Executing the men and enslaving their widows and orphans, acts in which "Muhammad showed no mercy," states Armstrong in her book Islam, was therefore in order.
Many also reject Armstrong's views regarding the gruesome event, if not on the basis of the logistic realities of the time. Her critics argue, for example, that given the 270 miles that separate Medina from Mecca, as well as the fact that the available transportation in the seventh century was mostly on the camel's back, organizing and carrying out a revolt on a short notice seems unlikely. The main objection the opponents have to Ms. Armstrong's arguments, however, are her claims that there was a "Jewish plot" aimed at ending the Prophet's life and that the Jewish minorities of Medina "had powerful armies" capable of endangering the Muslims. With the Jewish Banu Qanuqa gone, leaving just a few hundred Quraidha soulssome of whom, admittedly, may have been "armed" because of their profession as goldsmiths and workers of metalcritics find Armstrong's assertions untenable.
A story has it that a devout Muslim hailed a taxi in London. Upon entering it, he courtly asked the cabbie to turn of the radio playing music because, as the Prophet said in the Quran, a Muslim was forbidden to listen to music of an infidel. The cab driver politely obliged then stopped the car, opened the door and said, "In the time of the Prophet, there were no taxis, so kiss my ass and wait for a camel."
The late Sir John Glubb, who spent most of his life with Muslims in Arabia and was fluent in Arabic, avers in his book The Life and Times of Muhammad that the Jews of Medina actually posed little threat to Muslims. Says he, "Kheybar offered a more vigorous resistance than the Jews of Medina. This [the Jewish resistance at Kheybar] seems to be the only occasion in which Jewish champions challenged the Muslims." (Emphasis added.)
And there is still more criticism on the address of Armstrong. For example, while accusing Western Islamologists of exaggerating the importance of Muslim expansionism in the period following the hundred-year period after Muhammad's death, the noted commentator on predominantly Eastern religions, and a former nun herself, maintains in her book that "the Arabs felt no compulsion to conquer western Christendom ... [for] Europe ... seemed unattractive to them." The lapse in consistency does not appear evident, however, until Armstrong admits that Muslim horsemen did, in fact, storm and occupy in 711 Spain and tried to conquer France in 732. They were stopped at Tours by Charles Martel, the king of France, from venturing farther north.
Changing the veracity of past events is not a new phenomenon, for creating an after-the-fact history seems as old an endeavor as is the existence of humanity itself. Denying, as some literary or political figures have been doing, the reality of the Jewish holocaust by Nazi Germany in WW II is the most telling example. Is history indeed the biggest lie?
Neither has Ms. Armstrong as much as a single word to say in her book about an event still a subject to controversy, namely one that took place at Nakhla. In November 623, a caravan of four men traveling from the city of Ta'ïf to Mecca was ambushed by nine Muslim Bedouins. The raid occurred during Rejab, a sacred month in which it was forbidden to shed blood. The attackers, their head shaved to make them look like pilgrims, managed to trick the travelers into believing that they had good intentions. Trusting that the "pilgrims" meant no harm, the entire company made for the night. When the travelers were asleep, however, the Muslims attacked them, killing one of the travelers.
The bloody incident at Nakhlaa series of similar offensives organized by the Prophet and in which he often participatedcarried out in the sacred time of truce sent shock waves throughout the Medina community. It sickened people that the attack was executed by Muhammad's men in violation of an ancient and up-to-then honored custom. As a result, the crime occasioned massive reconversions to paganism.
Fretting over the raid in which a member of the Quraiyshi tribe (to which, ironically, Muhammad belonged) was killed, the Prophet sat tight, waiting for the fury to go down. Two months later, at a time of the victorious Battle of Badr, God (who never failed to came to the Messenger's aid whenever the latter was in trouble or faced a moral or ethical dilemma) spoke to Muhammad, informing him that "to expel the faithful Muslims [from Kab'a by the Quraiyshi] is more serious than murder, the who would make you renounce [God] let the [offender] perish."
Except for thieves and vandals who carried out attacks, raiding caravans had been a sporadic occurrence in the pre-Islamic times. Soon after Islam came into being, however, the phenomenon became a frequent occurrence. At first done for reasons of survival by the newly arrived and starved emigrants from Mecca, ambushing unsuspecting merchants in time acquired a character of establishing Muslim power. No longer destitute, the raids came to serve Muslims to simply assert themselves and to impose their agenda without worrying that this type of force, namely ambushing and robbing, devastated legitimate businesses the local economy depended on.
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The Bible-Quran Unconnected Kinship
In his preachings, Muhammad made extensive use of the Bible. It was a strategy that served him in good stead, given that the sacred book had always commanded respect among Arabs. In time, however, and notably after the Banu Nadir debacle, the Prophet began to dare the holders of the Bible, accusing them of having corrupted the book. The Jews defiled the Scriptures and betrayed its message, Muhammad charged. As such, it was a sin that was not to remain unpunished, for God had chosen him and his people to rectify what the Jews (and the Christians) were guilty of. Arguing further that the Hebrews and those embracing either the Judaic or the Christian faith were traitors in God's eyes, the Prophet, in spite of inspiring himself by the biblical book, established himself as a reformer who gave a new slant to the word monotheistic.
Oddly, initially Muhammad had Christians (as well as Jews) for friends. In such good terms had been the Prophet with them that he advised converts to Islam in Mecca, a city they came to feel unsafe in, to take refuge in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia), a Christian territory "where there is justice," he said.
Classical scholars assume that Islam saw the light of the day in the dusty Arabian Desert, a territory already oriented to the idea of a single God. Indeed, the area did present a fertile ground for monotheism to take roots there. More and more, the notion of adoring a singular divinity was gaining ground there so that by the time Muhammad, the future Prophet, came on the scene, the mind of a significant portion of the populationMuhammad's first wife's cousin was a devout Christianwas already well disposed to the concept.
Growing up in thus a propitious environment, adults' talk about worshipping one Allah intrigued Muhammad. And when the young boy saw the piety of the Jews and Christians, which he attributed to their venerating a single God, he too longed for the same religious zeal and reverence in his community. Coinciding with the harsh social realities that existed in Arabia and that in fact contributed his becoming a preacher, Muhammad's exposure to the Jewish and Christian devotion to God became the cornerstone of his and his followers' philosophy.
The Three Christian Prophets
Indebted to the Bible as it is, and acknowledging the saintly book as it does, the Quran only contours some of the Jewish and Christian personages; however, a detail resulting in the fact that the key points of the lives of guiding figures, Moses and Jesus, are not indexed there. The Hebrew lawgiver Moses, but particularly Jesus, only appendicized in the Quranic text, functioning as channelers as it were, are merely used as evidence of the decadence and chaos the Jews and Christians allege Muslims fell into.
In spite of the fact that the patriarch of the Israelites, Moses, is more frequently than any other Jewish or Christian biblical luminary mentioned there, to Muslims the prophet is merely a circumstantial and cosmetic figure, a body God created for the purpose of ending the Jews' wandering in the desert. As such, he is a symbol of their moral blindness for which they deserve to be punished. Profiling Moses as God's design to show the Jews' moral stupor, the Quran thus makes the role of Moses, as well as that of Jesus, perfunctory.
As for Jesus, in particular, the chief reason for his figuring in the Quran seems to be its need to have him (as well as Moses and others) announce the coming of a new prophet, Muhammad. However, and leaving aside the question of why the New Testament had not quashed such potentially threatening information, the Bible allegedly announcing Muhammad's coming thus, from the perspective of logic, necessitates Muslim gratitude to the Jewish God.
Jesus had not been sired by God, says the Quran. Nor was the Christian Savior born in a stable but by a palm tree. Moreover, since prophets are inviolable, it is therefore unthinkable that Jesus would have been subjected to such a humiliation as his execution. So whoever died on the cross, it was not the Christ, says the Quran. The latter reaches the conclusion that Jesus died a natural death and will be only resurrected on the day of the Last Judgment. As for Mary, the mother of Jesus, she was a commoner and as such a terrestrial being, hence ineligible for a nonsexual conception, maintains the Quran.
Nor was Muhammad like Jesus in other respects. Contrary to what to Christians is their Savior whose hands never touched a weapon, let alone used it, preferring to reveal his truth barehandedChrist's only weapon being his magnetism, personal example, and spoken wordMuhammad did not seem shy about using arms.
In her assertion that Christianity was as violent as any other religion, Karen Armstrong quotes Jesus as saying, "I come to you not to bring you peace but with a sword." Devout Christians knowing Jesus for never having raised hand against anyone understand, however, that the word sword, rather than to be taken literally, namely as an instrument that kills, is meant symbolically, merely serving as a tool to grapple with one's own ego.
Abdul Bahá, the enlightened religious thinker and peace activist of the early twentieth century, speaking against prejudice and discrimination and discoursing on a number of sensitive issues, such as God's oneness, the humanity fellowship, equality between men and women, and the necessity to unite science and religion, expressed unconditional love as being Christ's weapon. "[Jesus] conquered the East and the West by the sword of his utterance." Touring the world, Abdul Bahá shared his spiritual vision with another outstanding Arab, the painter, poet ,and his contemporary, Khalil Gibran. Gibran gave his own conception of Christ's sainthood in a painting he said was the closest to his heart.
Unlike Jesus, Muhammad, though undoubtedly preferring peace to war, was no stranger to killing hardware, using it in raids and battles. The curved-blade sword being his faithful companion, the Prophet also directed his followers to use the lethal machinery against people whom he hated for having opposed him.
Bukhari, an authority on Muslim tradition and a Muslim himself, in his treatise The True Traditions, written some 220 years after Muhammad's death, quotes the Prophet as saying that "A morning ... battle in the Path of God [the attack of 9/11 occurred in the morning] is better than the world and all that is in it." Similarly, by way of another example, specifically one relating to a battle against the Meccans, the Prophet handing his sword to one of his fellow combatants said, "Use it as it should be until it bends in your hand." Bukhari also quotes Muhammad at the occasion of being asked who was the most deserving of men as answering, "It is the believer who fights in the way of God," a buzz word to the Islamists.
The Prophet's urging to punish the enemy, a tactic he freely employed in Medina, sharply contrasts with Jesus's pacifism calling to offer the foe the other cheek. Having thus morphed Jesus's concept of love for the neighbor into a business whose main component was submission to Allah, Muhammad managed to mold the Muslim psyche into a menagerie imbued with not only the duty to God but with a distrust of other religions as well.
Never claiming that he was "God's progeny" who would "die for our sins" and be "resurrected," Jesus had not sought to found a church, either. For he would have, many believe, set up a shopas was the case of Muhammad six centuries laterfrom which to decree rules and recruit adherents. Not known to aspire to social status, either, but aiming to instruct, help, and cure, and calling for always giving a pardon to one's adversary, Christ's were nonviolent sessions of peace and modesty.
Similarly, opposed to going after self-interest, including the misuse of power and money, Jesus aimed at fusing people's minds, hearts, and souls into one. His vision of love on earth modeled after that of God were along with compassion, mercy, and a brotherhood the foundation of his teaching. Believing that love and tenderness for the other inspired forgiveness, Christ was convinced that such ennobling feelings brought about in their turn union with the divine, a desirable end that he advised his listeners to strive for.
Love and forgiveness of the neighbor, features that characterize the Christian faith and that Jesus tirelessly taught, were not exclusionary but reached all, including offenders. Once when coming face-to-face with a person who had prostituted herself, Christ, according to the New Testament, asked of her, "Woman ... no one condemned you?" No one did," she answered. "I do not condemn you either. Go and sin no more."
What would Muhammad have said in that situation? And how would he have reacted to the case of Sarah, the fifteen-year-old Filipino maid who in accordance of the Sharia justice was sentenced by the Saudi Arabia court to death for having killed her Arab employer who repeatedly violated her? What would have the Prophet said about the one hundred blowsprobably as lethal to the diminutive girl as the original verdictand to which, following the outcry in the world, Sarah's death sentence was commuted? By contrast, would Jesus in a similar situation have condoned the Sharia code of justice that demanded that Amise Lawal, an African woman, die by stoning for having given birth to a child out of wedlock?
Excerpted from Hunt for Paradise: The Western-Muhamaddan Connection by BEGONIUS Copyright © 2012 by Begonius. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Quranization of the Scripture....................17
Chapter 2 9/11 and Other Events of Infamy....................35
Chapter 3 Bread and Crumbs....................77
Chapter 4 Second among Equals....................193
Chapter 5 Sacraments and Sacrileges....................221
Chapter 6 West of Eden....................251