The romantic ideal
Muslims emphatically insist that the Jihad, or Holy War, was only a means of defence and was never used as an offensive act. This is underlined in the explanatory notes of the Sahih Muslim:
"The sword has not been used recklessly by the Muslims; it has been wielded purely with humane feelings in the wider interest of humanity" (ibid. page 941 - also explanatory note).
The materialistic purpose.
Let us investigate how this claim is supported by the actual facts of history.
One could also call it robbery in self-defence, if there is such a thing.
This is reasonable - though one would, perhaps, object to war as a means of income. This income, no doubt, is at the expense of someone's livelihood. But let us look at Muslim warfare in practice:
"....Kill those who join other gods with Allah wherever you find them; besiege them, seize them, lay in wait for them with every kind of ambush...."(Sura 9:5).
"When you encounter the unbelievers, strike off their heads, until ye have made a great slaughter among them...."(Sura 47:4).
"....Make war upon such of those to whom the Scriptures have been given as believe not in Allah, or in the Last Day, and who forbid not what Allah and His Apostle have forbidden....until they pay tribute..." (Sura 9:29).
"Say to the infidels: If they desist, what is now past shall be forgiven them; but if they return, they have already before them the doom of the ancients! Fight then against them till strife be at an end, and the religion be all of it Allah's." (Sura 8:39).
"Proclaim a grievious penalty to those who reject faith." (Sura 9:3).
All of the above texts are contradicted by:
From the Hadayah (II, page 140) we learn with regard to the Jihad, that:
"In the actual war-field in the midst of hostilities, some concessions were sometimes given to soldiers for recreation. Captive virgin girls in war were once made lawful for the soldiers for copulation. "(ibid. page 440 and "Sahih Muslim" II, pages 705-707).
What is right today cannot be wrong tomorrow, otherwise we have an example of situational ethics.
To an objective observer the following picture emerges: interest in material gain was as important as the making of converts One cannot help feeling that the Holy War was a pretence to make booty and receive continuing taxes. This must have persuaded many a man to join the Holy War and thus to become a mercenary. This interest no doubt gave enormous political and military momentum to the cause of Mohammed. Each warrior had a right to the belongings of the man he had slain, and could sell for ransom any prisoner he had made. Women and children were also reckoned as booty and a Muslim saw no moral irregularity in taking married woman prisoners as concubines as long as they were not pregnant. He would also have his share of the combined booty, of which; however, one-fifth belonged to Mohammed (and in the case of no fight taking place, it belonged to him totally). We are aware, however, that Mohammed never lived an extravagant life or hoarded goods. On the contrary, he was most generous in every aspect, particularly to the poor, to orphans and to widows.
Taxes could be very harsh indeed as in the case of the defeated Jews who lived in Khaiber. They
"After the Battle of Badr, the verse dealing with the booties was first revealed. The verse introduced the rule for the first time that the spoils of war would be the property of the soldiers who actually take part in the battle...THAT IS ONE OF THE REASONS why the soldiers of Islam fought tooth and nail. They would get Paradise in case of death in a Holy War, and booties in the case of CONQUEST. Jihad is therefore the best source of all acquisitions." ("Mishkat" II, page 406, explanatory note).
Jihad "is the best method of earning both spiritual and temporal. If victory is won, there is enormous booty and (sic) CONQUEST of a country, which cannot be equal to any other source of earnings." (ibid. page 253, explanatory note).
"In the battle of Muraisi with Banu Mustalig, the booties gained were nearly 200 camels and 5 000 goats. In the campaign of Hunain, the booties that fell to the hands of the Muslims were 24 000 sheep, 4 000 silver coins and innumerable camels. In the Battle of Badr and Uhud, the booties were also great." (ibid. page 406).
There is little wonder that a poem ascribed to Ali ibn Abi Talib, reads thus:
The opposing concept of Jesus.
Earlier we accepted the concept of progressive revelation. Progress is seen, for instance, in Moses being told by God that the then prevailing revenge custom (you knock out my tooth and I will cut off your neck) had to be changed to: "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" - no more! This was progress.
Then in a developing process of revelation, God revealed through Christ in the Sermon on the Mount, His concept for the Christian believer:
Again this is progress. This may not appear very practical--if one excludes God's doings in this world - but it is His way. It is sad to say that few, if any, nominal Christians give heed to this teaching of Christ's.
We find that Mohammed's ethical standards constitute a return or regression to the time before Christ
The question we should like to put is: How does the statement "There is no compulsion in religion" agree with: "Kill those who join other gods with Allah", "strike off their heads" and "fight then against them till strife be at an end, and the religion be all of it Allah's."?
Christians wonder why they are not allowed to build churches and freely propagate their faith in Islamic countries, whereas Muslims enjoy religious freedom in most non-Muslim lands, except behind the Iron Curtain. Recently the only church in Afghanistan was bulldozed down.
The claim that Muslims acted only in defence is patently untrue. What were the Muslims defending in Spain, France, India, Persia or at the very gates of Vienna? The fact that people were not prepared to become Muslims by choice ("there is no compulsion in religion") does not constitute aggression toward the Muslims. The repeated claim that booty could not have been a motive - because the Holy War must have pure religious motives - is insincere, for if it were so, booty would surely not have been made an incentive.
We believe that the promise of booty served to attain political aims. From a purely military point of view we can see no fault in Mohammed's actions, if we consider that most other military leaders acted similarly. No doubt he was a superior general. administrator, leader, social reformer and politician; but his actions and what he commissioned, do not in the view of Christians, qualify him to be the ultimate Prophet of God.
QUESTION: If God wants to extend His rule by the use of force of His followers, which we see possible, would it be a spiritual inscentive to offer booty? Why are Muslims always stressing the defensive character of Mohammed's warfare, knowing it was mostly offensive? Why were most of the conquests orientated on political and material gains, rather than on the propagation of the Almighty God?
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