Part 2 of a Series
The Historical Advance of Islam
For the first twelve years of his prophetic calling, Muhammad had hoped to convince both his own Quraysh tribe and the Jews that he was the ultimate and most authoritative prophet following in the line from Abraham to Jesus. He failed at this, however, and had to flee with a small group of followers to Medina, just to the north of Mecca. In Medina, the embittered Muhammad collected a larger following. Further revelations from Allah through the Angel Gabriel allowed him to transition from peaceful means of persuasion and economic endeavor to caravan raiding.
In 622 AD, Muhammad began to raid Quraysh caravans. Later that year at the Battle of Badr, with a force of 300 men, he defeated and routed a Quraysh force of more than a thousand men and beheaded many of their leaders. This date should probably mark the real birth of Islam. Under subsequent revelations from Allah, Muhammad became a formidable military leader and warlord.
In Medina, the new Muslim religion and war-machine had considerable exposure to three relatively wealthy Jewish tribes engaged in trading near Medina. Muhammad became increasingly bitter against the Jews for rejecting him as a Messiah-prophet and for their occasional alliances with the Meccan Quraysh. Receiving some expedient revelations from Allah, Muhammad then began to deal harshly with the Jews.
In 624 AD, Muhammad called the Jewish Qaynuga tribe in the Medina area to become Muslims or face the wrath of Allah. When they contemptuously rejected his offer, Muhammad laid siege to their camp and forced them to surrender. Muhammad wanted to have all the men killed, but at the request of a prominent merchant, he spared their lives, confiscated their property, and drove them away from Medina. The Prophet, however, began to regret not killing them. Surah (chapter) 5:51 of the Koran states:
“O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and Christians for your friends and protectors.”
The Koran claims in three different places that Allah has transformed the Jews into pigs and monkeys. (Surahs 2:62-65, 5:50-60, and 7:166). Dehumanizing your enemy makes inhuman treatment of them more palatable.
Muhammad then ordered the assassination of Ka’b bin Al-Ashraf, a Jewish poet who had been critical of him. According to Muhammad’s earliest biographer, Ibn Ishaq, he then gave a blanket command: “Kill any Jew that falls into your power.” The next victim was a Jewish merchant. These were just two of at least twenty-seven assassinations and murders Muhammad ordered against critics. Muhammad then besieged the Jewish tribe of Banu Nadir, who were forced to abandon any property they could not carry with them into exile.
The Muslims next laid siege to the strongholds of the Jewish Banu Qurayza tribe. According to Ibn Ishaq, “Allah cast terror into their hearts.” After twenty-five days the Qurayza surrendered and were faced with a choice of becoming Muslims or being slaughtered. Only a few of them agreed to become Muslims. Muhammad approved a plan to kill all the males over puberty and take their wives and children as slaves. He had the men and older boys brought forward to trenches in small groups and actively participated in beheading approximately 750 of them. After witnessing the brutal slaying of their men, the survivors were divided among the Muslim men as slaves, and the wives and girls were forced to submit to their new husbands.
According to the Sahih Muslim, one of the two most trusted compilations of the Hadiths (the teachings and example of Muhammad), Muhammad said:
“The last hour would not come unless the Muslims fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide behind a stone or tree and a stone or a tree would say: ‘Muslim, or servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him.”
Following the death of Muhammad in 632 AD, exhorted by his Jihadic teachings, the successors of the Prophet conquered Persia, Palestine, Iraq, and Syria, within six years. By 644 AD they had conquered Egypt and most of North Africa. In 669 AD, they completed the conquest of Morocco. A Muslim army crossed into Spain in 711 and seven years later the entire Iberian Peninsula was under their control.
Islamic expansion into Europe was finally halted in 732 AD by a Frankish army under the command of Charles Martel at the Battle of Poitiers in France. Had not the Muslim invaders been stopped there, all of Europe might have come under the dominion of Islam, and Christianity might have been snuffed out. Spain was not completely free of the Muslims until 1492.
The Crusades, which lasted from 1095 to 1291, were attempts to free once Christian lands from Muslim rule and prevent further Muslim advances in Europe. The history of the Crusades has been subject to considerable politically correct distortion. This will be covered in a separate series.
In 1452, the Muslim Ottoman Turks defeated the Byzantine Empire and advanced into the Balkans. They laid siege to Vienna in 1529 but were turned back by winter. They again besieged Vienna in 1683 but were defeated by Polish and Austrian forces, and slowly retreated from most of Southeastern Europe. Bosnia and Albania remain Muslim to this day. As recently as 1999, through a misguided NATO war against Serbia, Muslim Albanians displaced the Serbian Christian population of Kosovo.