Why terrorism? A look at the Life of Mohammed.
Attending the many Muslim diversity meetings in town, I observed several contradictions,
perhaps not unusual in matters of faith. Is history able to shed any light on answering
a question of a particular "why" about Muslims?
Mohammed: Brigand, 622-630
1. Mohammed (569-632) gathered his philosophies from Jews and Christians he
met in his business travels which made more sense to him than the polytheistic beliefs
of the Arab tribes. He announced his religion in 610, at age 40, after a vision by Gabriel.
He allied with the Jews who considered him a popular rabbi whose teachings
were essentially Jewish. His preaching, including freeing slaves, disturbed the
leaders of Mecca and eventually he had to flee to Medina in 622 (age 53) -- this
flight is the starting date of the Mohammedan era.
2. At Medina, to support his believers, he instructed his lieutenants
to raid passing caravans: 80% of the spoils went to the raiders, 20% to the Prophet.
He planned 65 raids, personally led 23 of them, and was seriously wounded in one.
3. The Jews disliked his turn to banditry. Mohammed expelled the Jews and
changed the direction of prayer from towards Jerusalem to towards his hometown,
Mecca. He assassinated Arabs who opposed him. He attacked the Jewish city, which surrendered ; he buried 600 men of fighting age in the market square and sold the woman and children into slavery.
4. He made a ten-year peace pact with the leaders of Mecca,
promising to only raid the Jews. Two years later, 630 (age 61) he felt strong
enough to attack Mecca -- which accepted him unopposed.
5. He returned to Medina and spent his time on government business
and making revelations as issues developed (there was no orderly system). He claimed no
power to perform miracles himself, but was a messenger of Allah. He took ten wives,
age seven and up, plus two concubines. Revelations provided justification for any
woman he desired to marry, including the wife of an adopted son.
He died 7 June 632.
6. He had no sons that lived and left no instructions for succession.
He had one daughter that survived him and at least one adopted son. His favorite prayer
leader became the first Caliph of Islam. When the cities avoided tithes, the Caliph
sent an army to collect – thus uniting Arabia. Policy was established to accept
Islam, or pay tribute, or the sword. The successful army was invited into Persia.
Then, that army was invited to expel the Greeks from Syria. The Muslim troops were forbidden to buy or till land, so as to remain a military caste. All of what we know now as the
Middle East was taken by 641 -- in nine years. By the end of the century,
rule had been taken for all of North Africa and to the Indus Valley.
7. Later Caliphs considered religion a way to police the people.
In a series of revolts, revolutions and counter-revolutions, starting in 656,
family members of Mohammed became Caliph alternately -- by wars and assassinations
-- with other deposed Caliphs and the center of Islam moved to Persia.
The two factions were to become the dominant Sunni, Caliph followers, and
the minority Shiites, family member followers.
The question "Why?" that caused my research was:
Is there a flaw in Islam that allows extreme behavior?"
My conclusion is that Mohammed was not an ascetic like Buddha or Jesus, nor a
diplomat like Confucius, nor a peaceful scholar, but rather acted as a stone age,
tribal warchief and bandit-- far different from the Essene and Classic
philosophers that established western morality. Any extremely devout Islam-follower
studying history would find that it is okay to attack neighbors, to
assassinate opponents, and to plunder the innocent. Also, it is okay to
turn on your allies, there is no requirement to honor agreements, and
no system of law. A true believer going back to the original, fundamental
ethics finds acceptance of terror attacks on innocent caravans or skyscrapers
to further the cause of Islam. The end does justify the means.
The fundamentalist Islamite does not find the same form of guidance to life
that is known in the West.
The question of a flaw in Islam has been answered.
More about Mohammed
About this page: islam - thoughts triggered by review of Mohammed's life.