Archive for February, 2012

Islamo-Judaic Relations : politically correct mythology – 3 : Foundation of Islam and the ethnic cleansing of Jews

Posted on February 18, 2012. Filed under: Antisemitism, Arab, diaspora, exile, Islam, Islamic propaganda, Israel, Jew, Jihad, Muslims, religion, terrorism |

3  Islam and the Jews – the historical testament :

I am starting with the record of “encouragement” by Muslims to the Jews living around the Levant and Near East. This may appear to be “too much history” – but pause to think what effect this can have on the collective social consciousness of the Jews towards the Muslims who continued in the longest most recent occupation of their homeland until 1948. Note that this is the early period – in the 600’s. I will post subsequently about the medieval period.

With Islam what seems to be most interesting is that the more organized communities that Muhammad appears to face up to, are the Jews. In fact it was a Jewish settlement, Yathrib, that afforded him asylum when he felt supposedly persecuted in his birth-place, Mecca. But significantly we hear that the Meccans had not carried out any violence on him for his activities and allowed him to “migrate” with 100 or 140 or 60 or 90 depending on sources] companions including females. Prior to this, Muhammad had preached “secretly” against the ruling clan, their beliefs, their idols and called for their overthrow. It appears that when one of his followers began mocking publicly and then got into a fight, he killed or fatally wonded a Meccan with a sharpened camel bone. That was how the sect was exposed and even then, Muhammad was offered medical help of the time [curing demonic possession which was the natural conclusion of Meccans because Muhammad claimed that he heard voices from angels, and God was speaking to him directly]. Yathrib has been renamed Medina now [another consistent Muslim practice of renaming a place to wipe out cultural linkages to the past].

After this, Muhammad seems to have taken to raiding vulnerable oasis settlements which appear to have been worked more by Jewish settlements. Whatever might have been his initial motivations, perhaps easy loot, providing females to his soldiers, the way the Quranic and Hadthic narratives have shaped it all up – makes it all a divine necessity.

This “God ordered” aspect and the peculiar notion of “Sunna” – emulating what Muhammad actually did, makes the erasure of Jews a persistent core religious theme within the Islamic. I acknowledge gratefully faithfreedom.org for most of the supporting material:

3.1 The Ethnic Cleansing of Banu Quaynuqa Jews from Medina by Muhammad-July, 624CE

After the decisive victory at Badr II and after assassinating intellectual critics at Medina, like a talented mother who lampooned his claims (Asma bnt Marwan) and a 120 year old Jewish critique, Muhammad moved against the Jews who were successful agriculturists, artisans, craftsmen, jewelers and merchants. The three important Jewish clans, the Banu Quaynuqa, Banu Nadir and Banu Qurayza made a covenant with Muhammad when he migrated to Medina “to live in tranquility and harmony and to aid him, should any attack fell on him.” So, Gabriel brought the decree (Quaran 8:58) from Allah that Muhammad was free to break the treaty with the Jews. Muhammad selected the B. Qaynuqa Jews as the target probably because they were the weakest of the three, and declared to the B. Qaynuqa Jews in their market:

“O Jews, beware lest God bring on you the like of the retribution which he brought on Quraysh. Accept Islam, for you know that I am a prophet sent by God. You will find this in your scriptures and in God’s covenant with you.”

The B. Qaynuqa Jews retaliated by ignoring his plea for Islam and challenged Muhammad to face them militarily, replying “Muhammad, do you think that we are like your people? Do not be deluded by the fact that you met a people with no knowledge of war and that you made good use of your opportunity. By God, if you fight us you will know that we are real men!” Then Muhammad demanded Jizya from the Jews but the Jews disparaged Muhammad by saying that His Allah was poor. An angry Allah, (Quaran 3:181), immediately promised His retribution to the Jews. Allah also revealed verse 3:12, 13, assuring Muhammad of his victory against the Jews. In addition, the Muslims also complained of sowing discord between the B. Aws and B. Khazraj by the Jews by narrating the battle of Buath, in which these two tribes had fought. It was during this time that Allah forbade, (Quran verse 5:57), to engage in friendship by the Muslims with the Jews and the Christians.

An Arab wife of a Muslim convert of Medina was waiting on a seat for some jewelry at a  Jewish goldsmith in the market of Qaynuqa. A flirtatious neighbor stepped on her skirt and on rising the inevitable happened. Her screamed drew a passing Muslim who immediately killed the offending Jew. The brother of the Jew then killed the Muslim. The family of the murdered Muslim then appealed to the converts of Medina to take revenge.

The conflict spread and contrary to the propaganda now made  that Muhammad avoided conflict and mitigated for peace, he made no such attempt or try to do  justice. He immediately gathered his followers under a white banner in the hand of Hamzah and marched forward to attack the Jews who took shelter in their fortified apartments. So, Muhammad laid a siege and a full blockade was imposed. The siege lasted for fifteen days. The Jews were expecting help from their Khazarj allies. But the help did not come. So, the desperate B. Qaynuqa Jews had no choice but to surrender to Muhammad. Their hands were tied behind their backs and preparations were made for their execution. At this time, Abd Allah ibn Ubayy, the Khazarite and a new convert to Islam (he was a highly effective exposer of Muhammad at Medina, indicated in Muhammad calling him a hypocrite) intervened.  He begged Muhammad for mercy, but Muhammad turned his face away. Abd Allah persisted. Finally, Muhammad yielded and let the prisoners escape execution. He then cursed the Jews and Abd Allah ibn Ubay with Allah’s punishment. Then Muhammad ordered the Jews of B. Qaynuqa to leave Medina within three days on condition  that the Jews surrendered their arms and jewel-making machinery.

Tabari writes: “Allah gave their property as booty to his Messenger and the Muslims. The Banu Qaynuqa did not have any land, as they were goldsmiths. The messenger of God took many weapons belonging to them and the tools of their trade

3.2 The Murder of Ibn Sunyanah at Medina by Muhayyish b. Masud -July, 624CE

Ibn Sunyanah was a Jewish merchant who was friendly and helpful to many Muslim converts. In the morning after the murder of Ka’b b. Ashraf, [a Medinite poet of Jewish descent who criticized Muhammad – and who was assassinated in a deceptive night meeting] Muhammad gave a general license to kill any Jew whom they might chance to meet.

Tabari:

The messenger of God said, “Whoever of the Jews falls into your hands, kill him.” So Muhayyish b. Masud fell upon Ibn Sunaynah, one of the Jewish merchants who was in close terms with them and used to trade with them, and killed him. Huwayyish b. Masud (his brother) at that time had not accepted Islam; he was older than Muhayysih, and when (the latter) killed (the Jew), he began beating him saying, “O enemy of God, have you killed him? By God you have made much fat in your belly from his wealth.” Muhayyish said, “I said to him, ‘By God, if he who commanded me to kill him had commanded me to kill you, I would have cut off your head.’” And, by God, that was the beginning of Huwayyish’s acceptance of Islam. He said, “If Muhammad had ordered you to kill me. You would have killed me?” and I replied, “Yes, by God, if he had ordered me to kill you I would have cut off your head.” “By God,” he said, “a faith which has brought you to this is indeed a marvel.” Then Huwayyisah accepted Islam.

From the Sahih Hadith of Sunaan Abu Dawud: (Book 19, Number 2996): Narrated Muhayyisah: The Apostle of Allah (PBUH) said: If you gain a victory over the men of Jews, kill them. So Muhayyisah jumped over Shubaybah, a man of the Jewish merchants. He had close relations with them. He then killed him. At that time Huwayyisah (brother of Muhayyisah) had not embraced Islam. He was older than Muhayyisah. When he killed him, Huwayyisah beat him and said: O enemy of Allah, I swear by Allah, you have a good deal of fat in your belly from his property.

3.3  The Ethnic Cleansing of B. Nadir Jews from Medina by Muhammad-July, 625CE

Bani Nadir Jews were the second of three tribes in the vicinity of Medina to be targeted. They were prosperous landowners with substantial orchards of date palms. Muhammad went to the Bani Nadir Jews to raise the blood money to be paid for the killing of two men of B. Amir, whom the assassin, Amr b. Umayya al-Damri, employed by Muhammad, had killed by mistake.

Muhammad, accompanied, Abu Bakr, Ali and Umar visited the village of B. Nadir, and requested the chief of B. Nadir to refund the blood money that he had already paid. The B. Nadir Jews received Muhammad courteously, asked him to sit down while they attentively listened to his demand and agreed to honor Muhammad’s request. After agreeing to Muhammad’s demand for blood money, the B. Nadir Jews went for a private discussion among themselves. Muhammad claimed that B. Nadir Jews wanted to kill him by dropping a stone from top of the house under whose shade he was waiting as informed by “Gabriel”. So, he suddenly stood up and left the place, as if to answer the call of nature asking others, including Abu Bakr, Umar and Ali not to leave the place until he returned. When his companions found that Muhammad’s return was very much delayed, they went out looking for him. On their way to Medina they met a man who told them he saw Muhammad was headed for Medina. When they met Muhammad at Medina, he told them of his perception of treachery by B. Nadir and asked the Muslims to prepare to fight the B. Nadir.

Muhammad asked another of his assassins, Muhammad ibn Maslamah (murderer of Ka’b b. Ashraf), to go to the Banu Nadir Jews to announce to them the ultimatum to leave Medina within ten days, and if after this deadline any Jew was seen in the area, he would be killed. Maslamah, on friendly terms with the Jews who expressed their dismay at the action of Muhammad, said, “ Hearts have changed, and Islam has wiped out the old covenants.”

When Abd Allah ibn Ubayy learned about the precarious situation of the B. Nadir Jews, he sent the message to them that he himself would be coming to their assistance with two thousand Jewish and Arab fighters. But the Banu Nadir Jews recalled that the same person promised to help the Banu Qaynuqa Jews, but in the end, betrayed. So, the Banu Nadir Jews, at first, decided towards removing themselves to Khaybar or nearby. They thought that they could still come to Yathrib (Medina) to harvest their crops and then return to their fortresses at Khaybar. Huyayy ibn Akhtab, their leader finally resolved against this view. He decided to send a message to Muhammad, declining his order of expulsion,. entered in their fortified fortresses, stocked them with enough supplies to last up to a year and got ready to defend themselves. So, no Jew left Medina after the expiry of the ten days ultimatum.

Accordingly, when Muhammad ibn Maslamah returned to Medina with the news Muhammad,  immediately gave order to his fighters in his mosque to arm themselves and march forward to lay a siege on the fortresses of B. Nadir. In the beginning, the Jews defended themselves well and the siege lasted for fifteen or twenty days. Muhammad, in contravention of the ancient Arab laws, cut down the surrounding date trees and burned them. When the Jews protested about the breaking of sacrosanct Arab laws on warfare, he demanded a special revelation from Allah (59:4) that was promptly sent down, sanctioning the destruction of enemy’s palm trees. In this verse Allah gave generous permission to the Muslims to cut down the palm trees: it was not a destruction but the vengeance from Allah, and to humble the evil doers that is to say, it is alright to cut down cultivated land and burn crops in a war. The Muslim poet Hassan b. Thabit enjoyed this destruction of the livelihood of the B. Nadir Jews and composed lyrics on this :

Sahih Bukhari :Volume 3, Book 39, Number 519:  Narrated ‘Abdullah:

The Prophet got the date palm trees of the tribe of Bani-An-Nadir burnt and the trees cut down at a place called Al-Buwaira . Hassan bin Thabit said in a poetic verse: “The chiefs of Bani Lu’ai found it easy to watch fire spreading at Al-Buwaira.”

We should note that the current propaganda by teleslamists tries to establish Muhammad’s kindness towards the trees/crops/orchards of enemies. [Most versions of sharia law texts sanction similar destruction of crops and trees of enemies – but this is carefully avoided in representations to western or non-Muslim audiences with an outright lie claiming exactly opposite stipulations].

B. Nadir surrendered after this and an agreement was reached by which Muhammad spared their lives, and required of the Jews to only take those of their property that they could carry on their camels, surrender all arms. Some of them, with their chiefs Huyey, Sallam and Kinana went to Khaybar.

An entire sura (Sura 59:al- Hashr) relates to the B. Nadir, where Allah says that the B. Nadir Jews were subdued by the striking of terror in their hearts.

Hussain Haykal comments:

After the expulsion of the B. Nadir Jews, Muhammad distributed their lands to the Mohajirs and with this, they were quite satisfied with their new lands. The Ansars were equally happy that they no longer had to support the Mohajirs. Muhammad claimed that B. Nadir property was a special gift from Allah to him. He sold B. Nadir booty to purchase arms, horses, provision for his wives and used the B. Nadir property to support his wives.

Sahih Bukahri: Volume 6, Book 60, Number 407:

Narrated Umar:

The properties of Bam An-Nadir were among the booty that Allah gave to His Apostle such Booty were not obtained by any expedition on the part of Muslims, neither with cavalry, nor with camelry. So those properties were for Allah’s Apostle only, and he used to provide thereof the yearly expenditure for his wives, and dedicate the rest of its revenues for purchasing arms and horses as war material to be used in Allah’s Cause.

Sunaan Abu Dawud : Book 19, Number 2961:

Narrated Umar ibn al-Khattab:

Malik ibn Aws al-Hadthan said: One of the arguments put forward by Umar was that he said that the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) received three things exclusively to himself: Banu an-Nadir, Khaybar and Fadak. The Banu an-Nadir property was kept wholly for his emergent needs, Fadak for travellers, and Khaybar was divided by the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) into three sections: two for Muslims, and one as a contribution for his family. If anything remained after making the contribution of his family, he divided it among the poor Emigrants.

3.4 The Genocide of Bani Qurayzah Jews by Muhammad-February-March, 627

After Muhammad escaped from the Battle of the Trench to Medina, and while he was washing his head in the house of Umm Salamah, one of his wives, “Gabriel” visited him at noon and informed him that the battle was not over yet, and that Allah commanded him (Muhammad) to besiege the B. Qurayzah. After listening to the instruction of Gabriel, Muhammad abandoned the noon (Asr) prayer and ordered the Muslims to march against B. Qurayzah, Ali being sent ahead of the rest. Muhammad informed his followers that during war, prayer can be omitted, as fighting during this time was more incumbent than praying.  In the evening, the Muslims soldiers marched toward the fortress of Bani Qurayza that lay two or three miles to the south-east of Medina. Muhammad rode an ass, while an army of three thousand Muslims, with thirty-six horses followed him. A tent in the compound of the mosque in Medina was also pitched where Sa’d b. Muadh took shelter to recuperate from his wound.

Muhammad approached the fortress of the B. Qurayzah Jews, yelling, ‘you brothers of apes.’ This is alluded to in  Qur’an in verses 2:65, 5:60 and 7:166, where Allah says that He turned the Jews in to apes : i and Muhammad had confirmed this “O brothers of monkeys and pigs! Fear me, fear me.” and asked his poet friend Hassan b. Thabit to make verbal abuse of the Jews through poems.

Sahih Bukhari : Volume 5, Book 59, Number 449: Narrated Al-Bara: “The Prophet said to Hassan, “Abuse them (with your poems), and Gabriel is with you (i.e, supports you).” (Through another group of sub narrators) Al-Bara bin Azib said, “On the day of Quraiza’s (besiege), Allah’s Apostle said to Hassan bin Thabit, ‘Abuse them (with your poems), and Gabriel is with you (i.e. supports you).’ ”

B. Qurayzah Jews were patient and courteous with Muhammad, and addressed him as Abu al-Qasim (father of Qasim, Muhammad’s dead son). Tabari writes: ‘When the Messenger of God had approached their fortresses, he said: “You brothers of apes! Has God shamed you and sent down his retribution on you?” they said, “Abu al-Qasim, you have never been one to act impetuously.”’

The Muslim archers had no impact and  a Muslim approaching carelessly, was killed by a Jewess by casting down a millstone on him.  After twenty-five days of siege, the Jews were on the verge of starvation. Among the Jews was Huyayy b. Akhtab who, as a fulfillment of his pledge to be with B. Qurayzah through thick and thin, did not escape with the Quraysh and the Ghatafan, but stayed with the B. Qurayzah Jews. Unable to bear the desperate situation of the Jewish women and children, the B. Qurayzah leader, Ka’b b.Asad proposed that the Jews should accept Islam to save their lives but the Jews refused. Ka’b proposed that they should kill their women and children, then, all the men could go out and fight Muhammad without any impediment. But the Jews did not want to kill their loved ones. Ka’b then proposed an attack on Muhammad the next day which was a Jewish Sabbath day (ie Saturday). The Jews flatly declined to engage in any warfare during the Sabbath.

The Jews  sent a message to Muhammad, asking that Abu Lubabah b. Abd al-Mundhir, their confidante from B. Aws, be sent to them for a discussion and advice.

Tabari writes: “When they saw him (i.e Abu Lubabah), the men rose to meet him, and the women and children rushed to grab hold of him, weeping before him, so that he felt pity for them. They said to him, “Abu Lubabah, do you think that we should submit to Muhammad’s judgment”? “Yes”, he said, but he pointed with his hand to his throat, that it would be slaughter.”’

So, the Banu Qurayzah sent the proposal to evacuate their territory and to remove themselves to Adriat (in Syria). Muhammad rejected their proposal and insisted on their abiding by his judgment. Having indicated by sign language what Muhammad had in mind for the Jews, Abu Lubabah felt guilty that he had broken his promise of secrecy with Muhammad. To atone for his ‘misdeed’ he went straight to the mosque and bound himself with ropes to one of the pillars. This pillar is known as the ‘pillar of repentance’ or the ‘pillars of Abu Lubabah’. Allah expressed His displeasure with Abu Lubabah’s conduct through verse 8:27.

In the morning, the B. Qurayzah Jews surrendered to Muhammad for his judgment. The male Jews were chained and kept in the fortress till a decision was made about their fate. The B. Aws people were on good terms with the B. Qurayzah Jews. They pleaded with Muhammad for mercy and a fair judgment for their Jewish allies. On this, Muhammad proposed that the judgment be passed by Sa’d b Muadh who was the B. Aws leader, recuperating from his wound in a tent nearby Medina. B. Aws and the B. Qurayzah both agreed on this proposal of Muhammad, hoping to have some mercy from Sa’d b. Muadh. Muhammad dispatched some B. Aws men to bring Sa’d to deliver his judgment. Riding a donkey Sa’d arrived at the site where all the seven or eight hundred Jewish men and many B. Aws people were standing to listen to his judgment. Many B. Aws people requested Sa’d to deal with the Jews with leniency and mercy. Sa’d then asked his people if they would accept whatever judgment he pronounced. The crowd agreed.

Then Muhammad asked Sa’d b. Muadh to pass his judgment. Sa’d replied, “I pass judgment on them that the men shall be killed, the property divided, and the children and women made captives.” Muhammad praised Sa’d for proclaiming a solemn judgment of the Almighty. “You have passed judgment on them with the judgment of God and the judgment of His Messenger.” Sahih Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 148: Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: “Some people (i.e. the Jews of Bani bin Quraiza) agreed to accept the verdict of Sad bin Muadh so the Prophet sent for him (i.e. Sad bin Muadh). He came riding a donkey, and when he approached the Mosque, the Prophet said, “Get up for the best amongst you.” or said, “Get up for your chief.” Then the Prophet said, “O Sad! These people have agreed to accept your verdict.” Sad said, “I judge that their warriors should be killed and their children and women should be taken as captives.” The Prophet said, “You have given a judgment similar to Allah’s Judgment (or the King’s judgment).”

[this is usually omitted in the “public face” versions of Shahi Bukhari : the full text of Sahih Al-Bukhari contains it] “The women and children were then separated from their husbands and fathers, others were put under the care of Abdullah, a renegade Jew. All the goods and possessions of the B. Qurayzah Jews, their camels and flocks were all brought as spoils of war to be distributed amongst the Muslims.”

After Sa’d b. Muadh passed the judgment of slaughter, the B. Qurayzah Jews were brought down from their dwellings; the men were handcuffed behind their backs with their women and children having already been separated. They were placed under the charge of Mohammad ibn Maslama, the assassin of Ka’b ibn Ashraf, to be despatched to Medina to the compound of the daughter of another Muslim, al-Harith before their execution in batches. A long trench was dug in the marketplace of Medina. The prisoners were then taken there, made to kneel down and beheaded in groups of five or six. Muhammad was personally present to witness this slaughter. Ali and Zubayr cut off the heads of the Jews in front of Muhammad. Sourcing from Al-Waqidi, Tabari writes:“…the messenger of God commanded that furrows should be dug in the ground for the B. Qurayzah. Then he sat down, and Ali and al-Zubayr began cutting off their heads in his presence.” Ibn Ishaq writes that they were taken in groups to Muhammad for beheading in front of him.

Tabari further writes: “The messenger of God went out into the marketplace of Medina and had trenches dug in it; then he sent for them and had them beheaded in those trenches. They were brought out to him in groups. Among them were the enemy of God, Huyayy b. Akhtab, and Ka’b b. Asad, the head of the tribe. They numbered 600 or 700-the largest estimate says they were between 800 and 900. As they were being taken in groups to the Messenger of God, they said to Ka’b b. Asad, “Ka’b, what do you understand. Do you not see that the summoner does not discharge [anyone] and that those of you who are taken away do not come back? By God, it is death!” the affair continued until the Messenger of God had finished with them.’

Huyayy b. Akhtab, the banished B. Nadir Jewish leader was taken to the execution field. Tabari describes his execution this way: “Huyayy b. Akhtab, the enemy of God, was brought. He was wearing a rose-colored suit of clothes that had torn all over with fingertip-sized holes so that it would not be taken as booty from him, and his hands were bound to his neck with a rope. When he looked at the Messenger of God, he said, “By God, I do not blame myself for being hostile to you, but whomever God forsakes is forsaken.” Then he turned to the people and said: “People, there is no injury in God’s command. It is the book of God, His decree, and a battlefield of great slaughter ordained against the Children of Israel. Then he sat down and was beheaded.’

One woman of the B. Qurayzah was killed. She was the wife of Hasan al-Qurazi and was friendly with Aisha. Aisha narrated her story of beheading thus: ‘Only one of their women was killed. By God, she was by me, talking with me and laughing unrestraintedly while the Messenger of God was killing their men in the marketplace, when suddenly a mysterious voice called out her name, saying, “Where is so and so?” She said, “I shall be killed.” “Why?” I asked. She said, A misdeed that I committed.” She was taken away and beheaded. (Aisha used to say: I shall never forget my wonder at her cheerfulness and much laughter, even when she knew that she would be killed.).’

This incident is also recorded in a Sahi Hadith of Abu Dawud:

Book 14, Number 2665: Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin: “No woman of Banu Qurayzah was killed except one. She was with me, talking and laughing on her back and belly (extremely), while the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) was killing her people with the swords. Suddenly a man called her name: Where is so-and-so? She said: I I asked: What is the matter with you? She said: I did a new act. She said: The man took her and beheaded her. She said: I will not forget that she was laughing extremely although she knew that she would be killed.”

A very old Jewish man named Az-Zabir saved the life of a Muslim convert, Thabit b. Qays in the Bu’ath war. Now, when Az-Zabir was about to be beheaded Thabit requested Muhammad to save the life of this old man and his family as a return to his favor. Muhammad reluctantly agreed to spare this Jewish man and his family members. Az-Zabir then asked Thabit b. Qays about the fate of the Jewish leaders such as Ka’b b. Asad and Huayy b. Akhtab, and he preferred to die rather than to live without them. Az-Zabir said, “Then I ask you for the sake of the favor I once did for you to join me to my kinsmen, for by God there is no good in living after them. I will not wait patiently for God, not even [the time needed] to take the bucket of a watering trough, until I meet my dear ones.” So Thabit brought him forward, and he was beheaded. When Abu Bakr heard what that old man said just before his execution, he said, “He will meet them, by God, in the Gehenna, there to dwell forever and forever.”

Muhammad commanded that all those Jewish men with pubic hair were to be killed. One Jewish boy took refuge with a Muslim woman, Salma bt. Qays. She requested Muhammad that mercy be shown to this Jewish boy. It is said that Muhammad spared his life. Here is a Hadith from Sunaan Abu Dawud on this: Book 38, Number 4390: Narrated Atiyyah al-Qurazi: “I was among the captives of Banu Qurayzah. They (the Companions) examined us, and those who had begun to grow hair (pubes) were killed, and those who had not were not killed. I was among those who had not grown hair.”

Having beheaded all the adult males of the B. Qurayzah Jews, Muhammad now busied himself with the distribution of the Jewish booty. He divided the wealth, the wives and the children of the B. Qrayzah Jews among his followers. The booty rules were changed slightly. A horseman received three shares: two shares for the horse and one share for the rider. A foot Jihadist, who had no horse, received one share. It was the first booty in which shares were allotted and from which the Khums was deducted. This simplified rule on booty (fai) was followed in the later plunders.

 After executing all the adult male Jews, Muhammad sent Sa’d b. Zayd al-Ansari with some captives (women and children) from the B. Qurayzah to Najd to sell them in the slave market. Among the captive women, he found a pretty, young Jewess called Rayhanh bt. ‘Amr b. Khunafah and took her as his concubine. It is said that when Muhammad offered to make her his wife by embracing Islam, she declined. She preferred to remain a concubine slave to becoming a Muslim. “Messenger of God, rather leave me in your possession [as a concubine], for it is easier for me and for you.”

3.5 The Raid on Bani al-Mustaliq by Muhammad-December, 627CE

Two months after Muhammad returned from Dhu Qarad campaign, Allah suddenly revealed that B. al-Mustaliq, a Jewish tribe friendly to Muslims, under the leadership of Haritha b. Abi Dirar was mobilizing against him.  Muhammad, spread the rumour that B. al-Mustaliq were now joining with the Quraysh to launch an attack against the Muslims. The Muslims killed a man from B. al-Mustaliq accusing him of spying and Muhammad rallied all the fighting men around him to assail the B. al- Mustaliq. B. al-Mustaliq Jews took all precautionary measures to prevent such an invasion on them. Naturally, they sought help from other clans as well. Muhammad gave no opportunity to this clan to embrace Islam before facing genocide unlike previous occasions, when he had given a three days reprieve to decide whether to accept Islam or face liquidation.

Shahi Muslim Book 019, Number 4292: Ibn ‘Aun reported: I wrote to Nafi’ inquiring from him whether it was necessary to extend (to the disbelievers) an invitation to accept (Islam) before meeting them in fight. He wrote (in reply) to me that it was necessary in the early days of Islam. The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) made a raid upon Banu Mustaliq while they were unaware and their cattle were having a drink at the water. He killed those who fought and imprisoned others. On that very day, he captured Juwairiya bint al-Harith. Nafi’ said that this tradition was related to him by Abdullah b. Umar who (himself) was among the raiding troops.

•Sahih Bukhari: Volume 3, Book 46, Number 717: Narrated Ibn Aun: “I wrote a letter to Nafi and Nafi wrote in reply to my letter that the Prophet had suddenly attacked Bani Mustaliq without warning while they were heedless and their cattle were being watered at the places of water. Their fighting men were killed and their women and children were taken as captives; the Prophet got Juwairiya on that day. Nafi said that Ibn ‘Umar had told him the above narration and that Ibn ‘Umar was in that army.

Muhammad gave Abu Bakr the flag for this attack. The Muslim forces then started marching with thirty horses. After eight days of marching they encamped at the wells of Muraysi near the seashore, close to Mecca. Muhammad pitched tents for himself, Aisha and Umm Salma, two of his wives who accompanied him. When the B. al-Mustaliq people heard the arrival of Muhammad’s soldiers, they were dismayed, but fought gallantly. After exchanging arrows for a brief period, the Muslim forces advanced and quickly surrounded the B. al-Mustaliq, and soon B. al-Mustaliq’s ranks fell in disarray and they were vanquished, having lost some of their men. Ali b. Talib killed a few wounded B. al-Mustaliq people; among them were Malik and his son. Muhammad seized their cattle herd, took many as captives and divided them among the Jihadists. Two hundred families were taken as captives, two thousand camels and five thousand sheep and goats, as well as a huge quantity of household goods were taken as booty. Juwayriah, the young, beautiful and vivacious daughter of B. al-Mutaliq chief was one of the captives. The household goods were sold in an auction to the highest bidders. During the battle a Muslim was mortally wounded by another Muslim by accident.

Here is the “encouragement” provided to the Jewish B. Mustaliq women captives.

Sahih Bukhari: Volume 5, Book 59, Number 459: Narrated Ibn Muhairiz: I entered the Mosque and saw Abu Said Al-Khudri and sat beside him and asked him about Al-Azl (i.e. coitus interruptus). Abu Said said, “We went out with Allah’s Apostle for the Ghazwa of Banu Al-Mustaliq and we received captives from among the captives and we desired women and celibacy became hard on us and we loved to do coitus interruptus. So when we intended to do coitus interrupt us, we said, ‘How can we do coitus interruptus before asking Allah’s Apostle who is present among us?” We asked (him) about it and he said, ‘It is better for you not to do so, for if any soul (till the Day of Resurrection) is predestined to exist, it will exist.” After having sex (rape) with his captive-girl, Said al-Khudri took this young girl to the nearest slave market for a quick sale. Here is the continuation of the above story, as told by al-Waqidi (vol.i, p.413) and excerpted by Rodinson: “A Jew said to me: ‘Abu Said, no doubt you want to sell her as she has in her belly a baby by you.’ I said: ‘No; I used the ‘azl.’ To which he replied [sarcastically]: ‘Then it was lesser child-murder!’ When I repeated this story to the Prophet he said: ‘The Jews lie. The Jews lie.’”

The captives of the B. al-Mustaliq were carried to Medina. Among the captives were two hundred women. Men from B. al-Mustaliq soon arrived to make terms for their release. At first, unknown to Muhammad, the pretty Juwayriah fell in the hands of Thabit b. Qays, an Ansar and one of his cousins. Juwayrah was a young woman, the daughter of B. al-Mustaliq chief and married to Musab b. Safwan. As soon as she became a captive, her marriage was immediately cancelled-as per Islamic rule and she was handed over to those two Jihadists [why two at the same time?] to do with her whatever they liked. Because of Juwayriah’s rank, her captor/s put a ransom of nine ounces of gold. She could not raise that large sum of gold. So, she approached Muhammad while he was resting in Aisha’s apartment and pleaded for some remission for the heavy price demanded for her release. As soon as Aisha saw Juwayriah she was filled with jealousy. Muhammad gently replied that he would pay her ransom and marry her. Juwayriah agreed on this suggestion. The ransom was paid and Muhammad immediately married her and built a seventh quarter to house her. She was only twenty and Muhammad fifty-eight when he married her. Aisha was thirteen at that time. [From Sunaan Abu Dawud, Book 29, Number 3920: (Narrated by Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin)]

This consistent enslavement, rape and concubinage of Jewish women should be noted. It is rarely matched in Christian “atrocities”. Moreover this entire description occurs in Islamic narratives – outlined with unabashed glee and pride.

3.6 Assassination of Al-Yusayr b. Rizam and a party of Khaybar Jews at al-Qarqara-February, 628CE

Even with the assassination of Abu Rafi (also known as Sallam ibn Abul-Huqayq), the chief of Khaybar Jews in December, 624 Muhammad did not feel safe from the Jews of Khaybar. The new chief of the Khaybar Jews was Al-Yusayr b. Rizam. He maintained the good relation with the B. Ghatafan, the tribe that Muhammad was scared of. Muhammad dispatched Abdallah ibn Rawaha, a leader of the B. Khazraj to Khaybar, to gather intelligence to eliminate Al-Yusayr clandestinely. But Abd Allah ibn Rawaha found the Jews to be very alert and returned to Medina. Muhammad sent him back with thirty men mounted on camels to persuade al-Yusayr b. Rizam to visit Medina. When the Muslims arrived at Khaybar the Jews treated them well. Abd Allah ibn Rawaha pretended to be friendly with the Jews and invited al-Yusayr b. Rizam to visit Medina with them. He assured al-Yusayr b. Rizam that Muhammad would make him the ruler of Khaybar, giving al-Yusayr b. Rizam a solemn guarantee of his safety. At first, al-Yusayr declined. But due to the persistence of the Muslim delegation he finally relented and went with them with a number of Jews. One of the Muslim delegates, Abd Allah b. Unays mounted al-Yusayr on his beast and rode behind him. When they arrived at al-Qarqarat, about six miles from Khaybar, al-Yusayr suspected the motive of the Muslims and changed his mind about going to meet Muhammad. He dismounted from the beast he was riding with Abd Allah Unays. Abd Allah b. Unays claimed that he perceived al-Yusayr was drawing his sword so he rushed at him and cut off his leg. Al-Yusayr hit Abd Allah b. Unays with a piece of wood and wounded his head. Ibn Ishak claims that later, God killed al-Yusayr. The Muslims killed all other Jews except one who escaped on his feet. When Abd Allah b. Unays came to Muhammad, Muhammad spat on his wound in his head and it healed immediately. Muhammad praised Allah when he heard the news of assassination of al-Yusayr b. Rizam and the killing of the Jews.

This is one in the long line pf precedence in Islamo-Jewish relationship about deceptive guarantees of safety/peace/non-aggression from the Muslim side towards the Jews – each of which was made when the Muslims side was not strong enough to kill off the Jews – but each of which was broken as soon as it was convenient to do so.

3.7 The Raid on Khaybar and Fadak by Muhammad-May, 628CE

After the famous Hudaibiya pact, with dissent mounting among his followers, in the backdrop of a severe drought at Medina, Muhammad decided to plunder and loot the remaining Jews at Khaybar. Haykal writes that the the Jews living at Khaybar were the strongest, the richest and the best equipped for war of all the peoples of Arabia (Hykal, Ch. Khaybar expedition).To assure and to please Muhammad in this plunder, Allah revealed Sura al-Fath (Victory, Sura 48) forgiving his past and future sins (48:2) and guaranteeing him triumph (48:21) through His (Allah’s) help. In verses 48:16, 20 Allah promised further booty for joining in Jihad; this was to improve the material life of the Jihadists. Mubarakpuri insists that this promise of booty meant the loot of Khaybar.

al-Tabari:

During the prevailing draught at Medina at that time, a group of B. Aslam who had embraced Islam came to Muhammad for assistance. But Muhammad had nothing to assist them. So he prayed to Allah so that they could plunder the richly laden fortresses of the Khyabar Jews including their luscious green agricultural lands. He said, “O God, Thou knowest their condition-that they have no strength and that I have nothing to give them. Open to them [for conquest] the greatest of the fortresses of Khaybar, the one most abounding in food and fat meat.”

The next morning, Muhammad plundered the fortress of al-Sa’b b. Muadh (a Jewish chief) that had the most abundance in food.

Sahih Bukhari : Volume 5, Book 59, Number 547: Narrated ‘Aisha: When Khaibar was conquered, we said, “Now we will eat our fill of dates!”

Volume 5, Book 59, Number 548: Narrated Ibn Umar: We did not eat our fill except after we had conquered Khaibar.

Muhammad’s army started marching against the Khaybar Jews with a force of around fourteen hundred with around 100-200 cavalry, covered the distance of about one hundred miles from Medina in about four or five days. Ibn Sa’d writes that it was a fasting month; some Muslims fasted, some did not. Before attacking the Khaybar Jews, Muhammad stopped at a valley named al-Rajii encamping between the people of Ghatafan and the people of Khaybar to prevent the people of Ghatafan to come to the aid of the Khaybar Jews when he attacked them.

When the Ghatafan heard of Muhammad’s advance they assembled their men and marched forward to help the Khaybar Jews. After marching for a day they heard from planted spies that Muhammad had attacked their families left behind. So they hastened back to protect their families. This opened the way to Khaybar and Muhammad made an early morning attack on Khaybar claiming that early morning times were miserable times for the infidels (Sahih Bukhari, vol. 4, book 52, number 195). The attack was so sudden that the farmers of Khaybar were completely taken by surprise when they were just preparing to go to their plantations.

Ibn Ishak writes that the war cry of the Muslims at Khaybar was, ‘O victorious one slay, slay!’ It is the Islamic custom to raid a place early in the morning invoking the name of Allah. Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 11, Number 584:

Narrated Humaid:

Anas bin Malik said, “Whenever the Prophet went out with us to fight (in Allah’s cause) against any nation, he never allowed us to attack till morning and he would wait and see: if he heard Adhan he would postpone the attack and if he did not hear Adhan he would attack them.” Anas added, “We reached Khaibar at night and in the morning when he did not hear the Adhan for the prayer, he (the Prophet ) rode and I rode behind Abi Talha and my foot was touching that of the Prophet.

The inhabitants of Khaibar came out with their baskets and spades and when they saw the Prophet they shouted ‘Muhammad! By Allah, Muhammad and his army.’ When Allah’s Apostle saw them, he said, “Allahu-Akbar! Allahu-Akbar! Khaibar is ruined. Whenever we approach a (hostile) nation (to fight), then evil will be the morning of those who have been warned.”

Initially shocked, the Khaybar Jews returned to rally around their new leader, Abul Huqayq and posted themselves in front of their citadel, Qamus. Previously, Muhammad had assassinated Sallam ibn Abul-Huqayq (Abu Rafi) and another Jewish leader, Al-Yusayr b. Rizam just a few months earlier. In the beginning, Muhammad made a few unsuccessful attempts to dislodge them from their formidable fortress.

Then one of the Jews, Marhab challenged the Muslims in a single combat. So, a Jihadist, Amir, confronted Marhab. Unfortunately, while attacking Marhab, Amir accidentally cut his vein by himself and died. Many Muslims thought that Amir had committed suicide and sought Muhammad’s clarification about those who commit suicide while fighting the infidels. Muhammad assured them that Amir will receive double reward for his (suicidal) action. Sourcing authentic chain of narrators, Ibn Sa’d writes: ‘ Salamah ibn Akwa said: “ I came across the Companions of the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, who declared: All the good deeds of ‘Amir were lost, as he had committed suicide. Salamah said: Then I approached the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him weeping and asked : ‘Were the deeds of ‘Amir vain? He said: And who said this? I said some of your Companions (said this). The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him said: He who said this uttered a lie. His reward has been doubled.”’

Sahih Bukhari on “suicide attacks”: Volume 5, Book 59, Number 515: Narrated Abu Huraira:

We witnessed (the battle of) Khaibar. Allah’s Apostle said about one of those who were with him and who claimed to be a Muslim. “This (man) is from the dwellers of the Hell-Fire.” When the battle started, that fellow fought so violently and bravely that he received plenty of wounds. Some of the people were about to doubt (the Prophet’s statement), but the man, feeling the pain of his wounds, put his hand into his quiver and took out of it, some arrows with which he slaughtered himself (i.e. committed suicide). Then some men amongst the Muslims came hurriedly and said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Allah has made your statement true so-and-so has committed suicide. “The Prophet said, “O so-and-so! Get up and make an announcement that none but a believer will enter Paradise and that Allah may support the religion with an unchaste (evil) wicked man.

After the death (suicide) of Amir, Muhammad b. Maslamah (the professional killer) went to fight with Marhab and in a grueling duel he killed Marhab. Then Marhab’s brother, Yasir rushed forward to avenge his brother’s death. Then al-Zubayr went forward to meet him in a single combat. After a short fighting, al-Zubayr killed Yasir.

A general battle now ensued and the Muslims were able to make a good advance. The situation of the Jews became desperate. Muhammad started appropriating Khaybar property piece by piece, fortress by fortress. He captured the first fortress that belonged to Na’im. Muhammad’s comrade Mahmud b Maslama (Muhammad b. Maslama’s brother) was killed here when a millstone was hurled at him. The next fortress to fall was Qamus, which belonged to Abul Huqayq. Then Muhammad besieged the last two of the fortresses, the fortress of al-Watih and al-Sulalim for thirteen and nineteen days respectively. The Jewish leader, Sallam ibn Mishkam was killed and al Harith ibn Abu Zaynab took over the leadership of the Jewish forces. Many Jews, after being defeated at other locations had taken sanctuary at these two fortresses that Muhammad found difficult to penetrate. So he, as per Islamic rule, cut off their water supply. The Jews then had no choice but to submit to the invading Muslim army. Muhammad continued with his plunder until he finished capturing all the property that he could lay his hands on. He agreed to spare the lives of the surrendered Jews by expelling them from their ancestral homes on condition that they must hand over all their yellow and white metals (i.e. gold and silver). The Jews were permitted to take with them all their belongings that they could load on their beasts (camels and donkeys) except for gold and silver. Failure to comply with this stipulation meant a certain death-Muhammad warned. There was a severe shortage of provision for the Muslim soldiers and many of them became very hungry. Unable to find provision easily, Muhammad asked them to eat horse meat but forbade them to eat donkey meat. Other prohibitions imposed were: the eating of garlic (raw) and the ‘muta’ (contract) marriage. However, the Shias claims that no such ban on ‘muta’ marriage was imposed. [This and the source of dynastic religious heritage are the primary examples of the grand differences between the Sunnis and the Shias that many non-Muslims refer to vaguely when they talk about the non-monolithic nature of Islam ]

The Jews lost ninety-three men while the loss on the Muslim side apparently only nineteen men. Muhammad took some Khaybar Jews as captives, including Safiyyah bt. Huyayy b. Akhtab, an exquisitely pretty young newly married bride of Kinanah b. al-Rabi b. al-Huqayq. She was the daughter of B. Nadir chief, Huayy b. Akhtab who was beheaded by Muhammad in the slaughtering of B. Qurayzah (Muhammad had already expelled B. Nadir Jews from Medina. Kinanah had recently married Safiyyah, and had received a good treasure trove as gift. Muhammad also took two daughters of Safiyaah’s paternal uncle. At first Dihyah al-Kalbi, a Muslim Jihadists asked for Safiyyah. But when Muhammad saw her, he chose her for himself and gave her two cousin sisters to Dihyah.

Tabari writes:

“After the Messenger of God conquered al-Qamus, the fortress of Ibn Abi al-Huqyaq, Safiyyah bt. Huyayy b. Akhtab was brought to him, and another woman with her. Bilal, who was the one who brought them, led them pat some of the slain Jews. When the woman who was with Safiyyah saw them, she cried out, struck her face, and poured dust on her head. When the Messenger of God saw her, he said, “Take this she-devil away from me!” she commanded that Safiyyah should be kept behind him and that the Messenger of God had chosen her for himself.”

Muhammad then accused Safiyyah’s husband, Kinanah and his cousin of hiding some of their properties in contravention of the terms of surrender. He was especially angered that Kinanah had hidden the wealth (worth about ten thousad Dinars) that he received from his marriage to Safiyyah. A renegade Jew divulged the secret of Kinanah’s hidden gold treasures. That Jew went and fetched the hidden treasures. Kinanah and his cousin were promptly arrested by the Muslims and brought to Muhammad. Muhammad charged him of hiding his wealth in some underground storage. When Kinanah denied this allegation, Muhammad ordered to inflict torture on him. He was tormented by branding his chest with a heated stake and then he was beheaded.

Quoting Ibn Ishak, Tabari writes:

‘Kinanah b. al-Rabi b. al-Huqyaq who had the treasure of B. Nadir was brought to the Messenger of God, who questioned him; but he denied knowing where it was. Then the messenger of God was brought a Jew who said to him, “I have seen Kinanah walk around this ruin every morning.” The Messenger of God said to Kinanah: “What do you say? If we find it in your possession, I will kill you.” “All right,” he answered. The Messenger of God commanded that the ruin should be dug up, and some of the treasure was extracted from it. Then he asked him for the rest of it. Kinanah refused to surrender it; so the Messenger of God gave orders concerning him to al-Zubayr b. al-‘Awwam, saying, “torture him until you root out what he has.” Al-Zubayr kept twirling his firestick in his breast until Kinanah almost expired; then the Messenger of God gave him to Muhammad b. Maslamah, who beheaded him to avenge his brother Mahmud b. Maslamah.”’

Muir writes that then the heads of the two chiefs (Kinana and his cousin) were cut off. Citing the so-called treachery by the Jews for allegedly hiding their treasures, Muhammad now ordered the Muslims to take possession of the women and children of the Jews of Khaybar. Muhammad sent Bilal to bring Safiyyah, Kinana’s wife (real name Zaynab and was allotted to Dhiya al-Kalbi. But Muhammad chose her as his Safi – special selection by Muhammad before the khums and distribution of booty to the Muslims). So when Zaynab became Muhammad’s Safi she became to be known as Safiyyah (Muhammad’s special selection).

Sunan Abu Dawud: Kitab al-Kharaj Book 19; number 2988

‘A’isha said: Safiyyah was called after the word safi (a special portion of the Prophet).

Sunan Abu Dawud: Kitab al-Kharaj : Book 19; number 2992

Anas said: Captives were gathered at Khaibar. Dihyah came and said: Apostle of Allah, give me a slave-girl from the captives. He said : Go and take a slave-girl. He took Safiyaah daughter of Huyayy. A man then came to the Prophet (may peace be upon him) and said: You gave Safiyaah daughter of Huyayy, chief lady of Quraizah and al-Nadir to Dihyah? This is according to the version of Ya’qub. Then the version goes: She is worthy of you. He said: Call him along with her. When the Prophet (may peace be upon him) looked at her, he said to him: Take another slave-girl from the captives. The Prophet (may peace be upon him) then set her free and married her.

Bilal brought Safiyyah and her cousin straight across the battlefield strewn with the dead and close by the corpses of Kinana and his cousin. The two cousin sisters of Safiyyah shrieked in terror when they witnessed the grotesque scene of the slain dead bodies of their dearest relatives that they had to cross over. They tremulously begged a stone-hearted Bilal for mercy but to no avail. When they were brought to Muhammad, he cursed the panic-stricken cousins as devilish and cast his mantle around Safiyyah indicating that she was to be his own. Muhammad consoled a frustrated Dhiya by giving him Safiyyah’s cousin sisters. Ibn Sa’d says that Muhammad purchased Safiyyah from Dhiyah for seven camels and consummated his possession the same night.

Ibn Sa’d writes:

: “….when it was night, he entered a tent and she entered with him. Abu Ayyub came there and passed the nigh by the tent by the tent with a sword keeping his head at the tent. When it was morning and the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, perceived (some body) moving, he asked: Who is there? He replied: I am Abu Ayub. He asked: Why are you here? He replied: O Apostle of Allah! There is a young lass newly wedded (to you) with whose late husband you have done what you have done. I was not sure of safety, so I wanted to be close to you. Thereupon the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, said twice: O Abu Ayyub! May Allah show you mercy.” Note that the 3 month Iddat period was not followed.

During the time of negotiation with the Khaybar Jews, Muhammad sent a message to the Jews of Fadak asking them to surrender their properties and wealth or be attacked. When the Fadak Jews heard of Khaybar they requested Muhammad to take over their property and banish them. Muhammad did exactly that. After the Khaybar Jews surrendered to Muhammad and having lost their only source of livelihood, they requested him to employ them back on their properties for half the share of the crop. Muhammad found it much more convenient to re-employ them, as the Jews were already very experienced with their land, whereas the Muslims had no experience with agriculture and cultivation. So Muhammad made some conciliation to the Khaybar Jews by re-engaging them in their lost land, but on condition that he reserved the right to banish them at anytime he wished. Same terms were applied to the Fadak Jews. Later, when Umar became the Caliph of Islam, he expelled all the Jews from Kahybar and Fadak.

Khaybar became the booty of the Muslims, but Fadak became Muhammad’s private property (a Fai), as there was no fighting involved in Fadak. This provision was sanctioned by Allah in verse 17:64, 59:6-7

A fifth of the booty was set apart for Muhammad. The remaining four-fifths were then divided into 1,800 shares. One share went for a foot soldier and three for a horseman. One half of Khaybar land was reserved for Muhammad and his family and the remaining land was divided using the same rule as for the personal booty.

Sahih Bukhari: Volume 3, Book 39, Number 531:

Narrated Ibn ‘Umar:

Umar expelled the Jews and the Christians from Hijaz. When Allah’s Apostle had conquered Khaibar, he wanted to expel the Jews from it as its land became the property of Allah, His Apostle, and the Muslims. Allah’s Apostle intended to expel the Jews but they requested him to let them stay there on the condition that they would do the labor and get half of the fruits. Allah’s Apostle told them, “We will let you stay on thus condition, as long as we wish.” So, they kept on living there until ‘Umar forced them to go towards Taima’ and Ariha’.

Muhammad used the annexed land of the Jews of Khaybar to support his increasing Harem. Sahih Muslim, Book 010, Number 3759:

Ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with them) reported: Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) handed over the land of Khaibar (on the condition) of the share of produce of fruits and harvest, and he also gave to his wives every year one hundred wasqs: eighty wasqs of dates and twenty wasqs of barley. When ‘Umar became the caliph he distributed the (lands and trees) of Khaibar, and gave option to the wives of Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) to earmark for themselves the land and water or stick to the wasqs (that they got) every year. They differed in this matter. Some of them opted for land and water, and some of them opted for wasqs every year. ‘A’isha and Hafsa were among those who opted for land and water.

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Islamo-Judaic Relations : politically correct mythology – 2 (the strange case of no-Roman-trauma)

Posted on February 4, 2012. Filed under: Antisemitism, Babylon, diaspora, exile, Israel, Palestine, religion, Roman |

Who repressed the Jews or expelled them “more” -Babylonians, Romans or Muslims? The case of Babylonian versus Roman debate.

(the “Roman violence on the Jews and the resultant Jewish Diaspora” : )

The Myth : “In A.D. 70, and again in 135, the Roman Empire brutally put down Jewish revolts in Judea, destroying Jerusalem, killing hundreds of thousands of Jews and sending hundreds of thousands more into slavery and exile.

Hebrew University professor, Yisrael Yuval, dubs the above a “myth” in “The Myth of the Jewish Exile from the Land of Israel: A Demonstration of Irenic Scholarship” Common Knowledge – Volume 12, Issue 1, Winter 2006, pp. 16-33

“The first point to make is that well before the revolt against Rome in 66-70 c.e., there were Jewish communities outside Palestine, most notably in Babylonia and in Egypt, but elsewhere as well. References to the dispersal of the Jewish people throughout the civilized world are found in the book of Esther, Josephus, and Philo. There is no indication that these communities were small, satellite communities. There is no contemporary 1st and 2nd centuries c.e evidence that anything like an exile took place. The Romans crushed two Jewish revolts in 66-70 c.e. and in 132-135 c.e. As per Josephus, the rebels were killed, and many of the Jews starved to death.”

Some POW’s were sent to Rome, and others were sold in Libya. But nowhere does Josephus speak of Jews being taken into exile. Yuval claims that there is much evidence to the contrary and apparently there was always Jewish emigration from the Land of Israel.

The first known reference to the exile of the Jews occurs in remarks attributed to the third century Palestinian rabbi, R. Yohanan found in the Babylonian Talmud, a work that received its final formulation several centuries later (c. 500 c.e.): “Our House has been destroyed, our Temple burnt, and we ourselves exiled from our land” (Gittin). The editor/s of the Talmud apparently referred this statement to the Roman exile. Similar statements can be found elsewhere in the Babylonian Talmud attributing to rabbis living in the Land of Israel the view that the Romans were responsible for the destruction of the House, the burning of the temple, and the exile from the land. Yuval however says that on examining other Babylonian sources, and most sources from Israel, the statements “most likely” refer to the First Temple, and the exile by the Babylonians.

 Yuval summarizes the sources as:
“In other words, it seems that the triple expression—destruction of the House, burning of the Temple, exile from the land—originally (in the sources from the Land of Israel) referred to the First Temple and were applied to the Second Temple only in Babylonia.10 In the Tannaitic and early Amoraic sources, Rome is accused only of destroying the Temple, not of exiling the people from their land.11 A broad historical and national outlook, one that viewed the “Exile of Edom” (Rome being identified with the biblical Edom) as a political result of forced expulsion, did not survive from this period. Nor would such a view have been appropriate to the political reality and the conditions of Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel, which were certainly very well known to the members of that generation.”

Note that Yuval is here being cautious as academics are trained to be – he carefully phrases his conclusion in the typical modern professional historian’s style of weaving new narratives within the old by posing speculating questions hinting at alternatives, but he does not commit entirely to this alternative because he might not have the incontrovertible proof and therefore his claim remains a hypothesis.
Chaim Milikowsky, professor and past chairman of the Talmud department at Bar Ilan university, has argued that in 2nd and 3rd century tannaitic sources, the Hebrew term rendered as “exile” has the meaning of political subjugation rather than physically being driven from the land (cited in Yuval, p. 19, n.1)  Commentators propose that “Zionists” supposedly were somewhat at a loss to explain how Jewish rabbis could create the Mishnah and subsequently the Talmud of the Land of Israel if there was a mass exile. Of course here the assumption is that “mass exiles” are exiles of whole nations or countries with nothing left behind.

An interesting historical paradox is of course overlooked here : what made the Babylonian “exile” so qualitatively different from the Roman “one”? The impression of a massive exile and trauma under Babylon is based on the same Jewish scholarly voices that are derided for fraudulently claiming similar trauma at the hands of the Roman. So if the Jews in the Roman period deliberately, or out of ignorance, drew upon and confused with the trauma of a period much earlier – what makes their representation of the Babylonian trauma so reliable and truthful? What if the Jews were also “emigrating” “all the time” even under the heyday of Babylonian rule? What if they were making up or confusing the Babylonian interlude with earlier reconstructions of trauma – say from the Egyptian “experience”? Modern archeologists and historians like Prof Zahi Hawas, seem to strongly support the theory [and conclusion] that Pharaonic society was not a “slave” society, and therefore the accusations of slavery within the Mosaic tradition is similarly suspect? 

By challenging and denying the reliability of one historical reconstruction of trauma by the use of another assumed historical trauma, even the earlier justifying one becomes unreliable and suspect – thereby making the whole exercise a futile speculation.

However, for the comparative trauma debate – modern scholarship appears to go for the version that Roman “atrocities” were a myth invented by “Zionists”. I would rather not go into the problematic aspects that this raises: was it the need to absolve an European “iconic heritage” (the Roman) from responsibilities of anti-Semitism? Was this need based on a panicked over-reaction to trying to absolve the role of the early Church in anti-Semitism and hence by association the modern Church? Was the urge to delegitimize the “Zionist” an overkill? These are issues to be debated or explored in how subconscious hidden political inclinations might still be colouring historiography – but for our purposes, it seems then that the Romans were not the chief culprits and they were perhaps not the cause of Jewish trauma as per modern so-called professional historians.

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