the sword of the prophet

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    The Sword of the Prophet
    Prof. Paul Eidelberg
    28 July 2003

    The title of this article is from Serge Trifkovik’s The Sword of the Prophet (2002), a book described as “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam.” That Canadian Ambassador James Bissett wrote a laudatory preface to this book attests to its scholarship and seriousness.

    The portrayal of Muhammad, based primarily on the Kuran and Traditions — the Hadiths — is not edifying. We behold a simple preacher of Mecca who underwent a profound personality change and became a warlord. When Jews and Christians, as well as Arabs, resisted his teachings, Muhammad declared: “I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers,” and he urged his followers to “smite [them] above their necks.” When the head of one of his enemies, Abu Jahl, was thrown before him, he jubilantly exclaimed that the spectacle pleased him better than “the choicest camel in Arabia.”

    To multiply his followers, Muhammad offered them the prospect of booty: “Know that whatever ye take as spoils of war, lo! a fifth thereof is for Allah, and for the Messenger and for the kinsmen.”

    Having become a warlord, Muhammad had men and women, old and young, put to the sword. Jews who rejected his superficial, second-hand knowledge of their Scriptures were butchered. After slaughtering tribesmen and looting thousands of their camels, Muhammad and his followers kidnapped their women. The night after the battle, they staged an orgy of rape.

    The Hadith (Sahih Muslim, Book 8, No. 3371) explains:
    “We desired them, for we were suffering from the absence of our wives, but at the same time we also desired ransom for them. So we decided to have sexual intercourse with them but by observing ‘azl [coitus interruptus]. But we said: We are doing an act, whereas Allah’s Messenger is amongst us; why not ask him? So we asked Allah’s Messenger… and he said: It does not matter if you do not do it, for every soul that is to be born up to the Day of Resurrection will be born.”

    Trifkovik comments: “In telling his companions to go ahead and rape their captive married women without practicing al-‘azl, the only contentious issue was whether their victim’s ransom would be diminished or lost completely if they were returned pregnant to their husbands.”

    In his attack on one Jewish tribe Muhammad offered the men conversion to Islam as an alternative to death. Upon their refusal, up to 900 were decapitated in front of their women and children. “Truly the judgment of Allah was pronounced on high,” was Muhammad’s comment. The women were subsequently raped.

    Trifkovik remarks that Muhammad repeatedly invoked Allah as a deus ex machina, providing revelations relevant to the Prophet’s personal needs: “Nowhere was this more obvious than when it came to his exaggerated sensuality.” Our author writes in the sequel: “That Muhammad’s actions and words, as immortalized in the Kuran and recorded in the Traditions, are frankly shocking by the standards of our time — and punishable by it laws, that range from war crimes and murder to rape and child molestation — almost goes without saying.” Trifkovik is aware of the cultural and historical relativism that would prompt Western intellectuals to say, “We must not extend the judgmental yardstick of our own culture to the members of other cultures who have lived in other eras.” He counters this relativism by pointing out that “even in the context of seventh century Arabia, Muhammad had to resort to divine revelations as a means of suppressing the prevalent moral code of his own milieu.”

    Attacking caravans in the month of Ramadan, murdering people without provocation, and indulging with considerable abandon one’s sensual passions was so fundamentally at odds with the moral standards of his own Arab contemporaries that only the ultimate authority [Allah] could, and did, sanction it. As an Edwardian author put it, “the problem with Muhammad’s behavior is not that he was a Bedouin, but that he was a morally degenerate Bedouin.”

    Muhammad’s practice and constant encouragement of bloodshed are unique in the history of religions. Murder, pillage, rape and more murder are in the Kuran and in the Traditions. “Kill, kill the unbelievers wherever you find them.” - this is an unending formula for war.

    Trifkovik quotes Ibn Warraq, a contemporary author who asks whether Muhammad was a “known fraud, or did he sincerely believe that all his ‘revelations’ that constitute the Kuran were direct communications from God?” Warraq does not see how this can possibly matter to our moral judgment of Muhammad’s character: “Certain racists sincerely believe that Jews should be exterminated. How does their sincerity affect our moral judgment of their beliefs?”

    Trifkovik concludes: “On the Prophet’s own admission, Islam stands or falls with the person of Muhammad, a deeply flawed man by the standards of his own society, as well as those of the Old and New Testaments… and even by the law of which he claimed to be the divinely appointed medium and custodian. The problem of Islam, and the problem of the rest of the world with Islam, is not the remarkable career of Muhammad per se… It is the religion’s claim that the words and acts of its prophet provide the universally valid standard of morality as such, for all time and all men.”
    Professor Eidelberg, co-founder of the Jerusalem-based Foundation for Constitutional Democracy, is the President of the Yamin Israel movement.

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