Continued from "War of Words"
Hijra changed it all – the aptitude of the Prophet, the content of the Quran, the character of the faith, and above all, the destiny of Islam. Had Muhammad, revealing the Quran, confined himself to Mecca, or had he continued with his meditation at Hira, probably, he would have ended up being the Bahira of Kabah. But, even as the rejection of the Quraysh steeled his will, the conversion of the Yathribs into Islam cemented his belief in himself. In the end, the Hijra with the accompanied submission of the Helpers turned the Prophet of Mecca into the Czar of Medina. However, it was in the Battle of Badr that he discovered his unique skills of man-management, which kindled his ambition to conquer Arabia. And that changed the destiny of Islam as well as the harmony of the world.
If in Mecca, it was the promise of the ‘Hereafter’ that attracted the faithful into the Islamic fold, in Medina, it was the spoils of war and the prospect of Paradise, which swelled the ranks of the Musalmans. It may be noted that it was Muhammad who led by example in looting the Jewish settlements of the oases, one after the other. In the process, wittingly or unwittingly, its prophet gave Islam plunder as its legacy. Much after his death, as the Musalmans ran over the nations of the world, loot became the single source of Arab income.
However, it was also Muhammad who had set the trend by providing for his faithful with the spoils of war. As can be expected, living out of ransom and plunder wouldn’t have shaped a work-culture amongst his faithful, and the nations of the West Asia, to this day, suffer from the lack of it. Thus, Muhammad’s statecraft, based on parasitism, proved to be the economic nemesis of the Islamic world in the long run. And the Quran too played its part by deprecating the life ‘here’ and extolling the one in ‘Hereafter’.
The politico-religious ascendancy that Medina afforded Muhammad enabled him to deal with the Jews, the Christians and the idolaters, read the Meccans, rather aggressively. The Medina revelations of the Quran provide ample testimony to the changed realities in Muhammad’s political life and the altered goalposts of his religious ambition. Likewise, the socio-military consolidation that he could bring about in Medina finds reflection in his arbitrariness in dealing with his detractors. However, after pushing the Jewish settlers into Muslim subjugation, it’s as though ‘the God’ left the Quran to Muhammad’s care. After all, by then Jehovah was avenged well and true.
For his part, blessed with capable men to protect the faith he founded, Muhammad began to address himself to the administration of Medina, however, with an eye on Mecca. Living a frugal life, in spite of his one-fifth share of the ever-rising war booty, he was wont to tend the poor and the needy amongst the Helpers. However, in time, with his politico-religious consolidation well underway, Muhammad turned his attention to the possibilities of life ‘here’ itself. Though by then, he had Sawadh and Ayesha, both of whom he married after Khadijah’s demise, maybe driven by the desire for an heir to take over the mantle from him, or pushed by the dictates of his passion, and/or both, he began seeking more and more women to cohabit.
While Quran obliged him by waiving the four women ceiling for him, power, the magnet that draws women to men, fetched him nine more wives, not to speak of the slave girls that came with the spoils of war. After all, there was the divine sanction in place for the Semitic Prophets to keep the female slaves all for themselves. That might make the skeptics wonder whether these prophets of yore were but tribal heads who donned the religious garb to pursue their own agendas for better effect. Notwithstanding his fondness for women, Ayesha remained his favorite till the very end, though he was enamored of Mariyah, towards the end of his chequered life.
Those who won’t vouch for Islam, in particular the Christians, tend to debunk Muhammad for his ways of the flesh, and by extension the faith he founded as well. To be fair to Muhammad, he never claimed himself to be a saint. Instead, he had all along maintained that he was, after all, human. Besides, while the culture of his tribe sanctioned polygamy, the proclivities of the war widows warranted it; and thus to measure the libido of the Arabic prophet on the Christian scale of missionary celibacy would indeed be erroneous.
His personal philosophy concerning the pleasures of life is best illustrated in his own words when one of his followers wanted to seek his permission to become an ascetic.
“Hast though not in me an example,” said Muhammad, “And I go into women, I eat meat, and I fast, and I break my fast. He is not of my people who maketh men eunuchs or maketh himself an eunuch. For verily thine eyes have their rights over thee. And thy body hath its rights. As thy family have their rights, so pray, and sleep and fast, and breakfast.”
More than the personal character, it is the public posturing of this singular man, who rules the minds of millions of Musalmans to this day, which is worth examining. That the Musalmans, most of whom were converts from varied cultures and from far off lands, should treat every word of his as the Gospel Truth, and take his prescriptions, based on medieval injunctions, as divine sanctions indeed make the faith of Islam but a creed of Muhammadanism! To the perennial hurt of the Musalmans, and paradoxically at that, all the while waging war against idolatry, he forever encouraged his followers to worship his persona, and revere his personal affects. Why the inimical effect of this is there for all to see in the Islam of the day.
Above all, this account of an ambassador of Quraysh reveals it all: “O people, I have been sent as envoy unto kings – unto Caesar and Chosroes and the Negus – and I have not seen a king whose men so honour him as the companions of Muhammad honour Muhammad. If he commandeth aught, they almost outstrip his word in fulfilling it; when he performeth his ablution, they well might fight for the water thereof; when he speaketh, their voices are hushed in his presence; nor will they look him full in the face, but lower their eyes in reverence for him.”
It’s as though Muhammad had put the fear of ‘the God’ in his followers so that they come to revere him, His messenger.
Continued to "Angels of War"