Podcast: ‘Not Radical, But Real Muslims,’ by Dr. Stephen Flick.
Across the political and social spectrums, politicians, preachers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and a host of other well-educated cultural leaders continue to refer to the followers of Islam who, at the end of the twentieth century and beginning of the twenty-first century, have terrorized numerous points around the globe as “radical Muslims.” The facts demonstrate, however, that these terrorists are not part of “radical Islam,” but real Islam which follows the example of Muhammad, the founder of Islam. To continue to refer to such individuals as “radicals” is uninformed, dishonest, and a deliberate distortion of the historical facts; these individuals are real Muslims. More so than moderate-Muslims, these ardent followers of Islam seek to return to the beliefs and practices of Muhammad himself. If it may be demonstrated that they follow the example of Muhammad, then they are true or real Muslims and not aberrant “radicals.” Only a few brief thumbnail sketches are necessary to demonstrate that these true followers of Muhammad are being faithful to his example. While many similarities could be identified between Muhammad and his contemporary “real” Muslims, only five of the most significant similarities will be identified to demonstrate how they are faithful to Muhammad’s example.
In 611, Muhammad received his alleged call to be a prophet of Allah, the name used for the high god of the pagan people of Mecca. In 622, Muhammad fled from Mecca to the city of Medina, leaving behind a trail of blood. The violence exhibited by contemporary Muslims around the world is a reflection of the very beginning of Islam under Muhammad, in Mecca where he was born. Murder, brutality, theft, and numerous forms of violence were all part of the first decade of the life of Islam. As Muhammad attracted more followers to his new religion in Mecca, opposition to him increased from the citizens. Muhammad and his followers “preached that all who did not submit to the will of Allah . . . would burn in hell for all eternity.” The brutality that was customary among Arab tribes of this part of the world was engrafted into Muhammad’s new religion. Muhammad initiated the reign of terror that has seized the attention of the world in more recent decades as Islam was being birthed in the city of Mecca. One scholar of the life of Muhammad correctly writes,
There was rarely anything gentle about the historic Muhammad, whatever may be the lofty opinions of his followers.
In 622, Muhammad and his few followers were forced to leave Mecca and flee to the city of Medina. The first of Muhammad’s emigrants left Mecca on July 16, 622. Muhammad and his trusted adviser, Abu Bakr, fled sometime afterward and arrived in Medina on September 24, 622. This flight from Mecca to Medina is known as Muhammad’s Hegira (flight).
Within six months of having arrived at Medina, Muhammad engaged in a common practice of the Arab world at this time–raids or razzias. The intent of such raids was the theft of sheep or camels of rival tribes and groups. Forced to flee from Mecca, Muhammad and his followers had no choice but to leave their properties and possessions to their enemies who remained in Mecca. To support themselves, Muhammad and his Muslims resorted to raids on the main trade route between Mecca and Syria, which was not far from Medina. Initially, Muhammad and his forces were without success, but finally, in the sacred month of Ramadan, they savored their first victory at Nakhla. With the victory at Nakhla, Muhammad established a precedent that he receive one fifth of the booty for himself. This practice has been observed by the Muslim caliphs and sultans and extended to all treasure, money, women, and slaves. Kidnapping of women and girls and the seizure of possession and property all began for Muhammad and his disciples only a few months after fleeing to the city of Medina.
Medina was a green fertile oasis and was home to five tribes–two Arab and three Jewish tribes. Initially, Muhammad believed his new religion was the same as that delivered by Moses to the Jews and Jesus to the Christians. He attempted to win Jewish converts to his new faith. To accomplish this, he preached monotheism, observed the Jewish Sabbath of Saturday, prayed toward Jerusalem, appealed to Abraham and the patriarchs, adopted their dietary laws, and praised their Scriptures. But when the Jews of Medina rejected Muhammad and his new faith because his teachings were not consistent with Scripture, a break came between Muhammad and the Jews in 624. From that point onward, he changed the direction he faced when he prayed to Mecca, observed the pagan Friday Sabbath, again employed religious rites common to the worship of Mecca, and began to subjugate the Jews with the sword.
About this same time, two incidents occurred in relation to Jewish tribes of Medina. The first incident involved the Banu Qaynuqa (in 624), one of three main Jewish tribes. Though the details vary, conflict arose between the Muslims and this Jewish tribe as a result of the exposure of a Muslim woman by a Jewish man in the marketplace. A Muslim man immediately killed the Jewish man who exposed the nakedness of the Muslim woman, which in turn set off a series of revenge killings. Muhammad declared that the exposure of the woman violated a legal agreement between the Muslims and the Jews (known as the Constitution of Medina) and besieged the Qaynuqa community in the southwestern part of the city. After nearly two weeks of siege, terms of surrender were negotiated. Fearing all the Jewish men would be slaughtered, one of the leaders of the Khazraj (an Arab tribe allied to the Jewish Qaynuqa tribe), successfully pleaded for the lives of the Jews. Escaping with only their lives, the Jews were forced to leave their land and possessions behind for Muhammad and his Muslims.
A second dramatic incident pertaining to the Jews of Medina occurred about this time also. The details that led to this horrific page in Islamic history are incomplete, but one writer recorded the vivid details of the gruesome slaughter:
Muhammad, as well as being a fighting warrior, was responsible for the deaths of thousands not only in battle, but also through execution and assassination. Not many are aware of the massive execution by be- heading of 600 to 800 men of the Jewish Beni Qoreiga tribe in Medina, who had withheld their support from him after his takeover of the city. He had the executions carried out in the market place, where trenches previously had been dug to receive the corpses. The carnage started in the morning and went on all day and into the night by torchlight. Muhammad left the scene early in the evening to enjoy the charms of Reihana, the young widow of one of the victims, a beautiful Jewish girl who had been set aside for the Prophet’s pleasure. She refused to become his wife but was enrolled into his harem as a concubine instead. The other women of the tribe as well as the children, about a thousand in all, were sold into slavery.
The slaughter of the Beni Qoreiga tribe was also a highly profitable business operation for Muhammad. In addition to the slaves, the spoils included a rich haul of livestock (camels, goats, sheep, and horses), and of land, date trees, houses, furniture, jewelry, and money. The booty was divided into 3,072 parts, of which one fifth went to the Prophet [Muhammad] and made him a rich man overnight. The Muslims also took from the slain Jews a large number of weapons, including 1,500 swords and scimitars, a similar number of shields, 1,000 spears, and 300 coats of mail that all went to furbish the Prophet’s recently created army. The Koran (sura 33, verse 25) praised God for the killings and Muhammad became a foe to be feared. The Jihad had been born in a deluge of blood.
Of all the numerous raids and battles that Muhammad planned and took part, one of the most important is the Battle of Badr (March 13, 624). With some three hundred of his warriors, Muhammad set out to raid a caravan belonging to merchants from Mecca. Muhammad set his forces in ambush at Badr, but being made aware of it, the caravan eluded the Muslims, but sent their defense force to spring the ambush at Badr. Though outnumbered more than three to one, Muhammad and his Muslims won the battle. Among those taken in the battle was Abu Jahl, a long-time enemy of Muhammad who was subsequently beheaded. Many of the seventy prisoners taken in battle were ransomed or freed.
Victory in the Battle of Badr helped to strengthen Muhammad’s power over Medina. Upon arriving in Medina from Mecca in 622, some of the poets of Medina ridiculed Muhammad and the followers of his new religion. Among them was a woman by the name of Asma bint Marwan, but she was not the only one to speak out against the refugees from Mecca. As a newcomer to Medina, Muhammad lacked the strength necessary to silence his opposition. As he increased in wealth from his raids, Muhammad grew in political strength and control of Medina. Though he became more brazen in wielding his power, the media’s opposition of him continued. Unwilling to tolerate the literary slurs against him any longer, Muhammad enlisted the aid of a faithful follower to rid himself of the continuing irritation. One night as the poetess Asma bint Marwan slept with her infant, Muhammad’s assassin so viciously stabbed her that he nailed her to her couch–and she was not the only literary critic of Muhammad to meet a similar fate.
In 620 while Muhammad yet lived in Mecca, his first wife, Khadijah, died at the age of 65–Muhammad being only 50 at the time of her death. Two months later, he married Sauda, the widow of a man who had become a Christian. She was the first of a number more wives whom Muhammad would marry, many of whom he would wed after leaving Mecca. Upon his flight from Mecca, Muhammad left behind the six-year-old daughter of his adviser, Abu Bakr. Later following Muhammad to Medina, she became his bride–at the age of six. Muslims insist that the marriage was not consummated until she was nine.
In Medina, Muhammad began a harem, which included 10 to 12 wives. In addition to his wives, Muhammad also possessed concubines who were his sex slaves. Though this brief article cannot fully relate–nor would we wish to relate–all of his sexual idiosyncrasies, one anecdote will provide breadth of insight into this facet of Muhammad’s life.
In addition to looting and plundering caravans, Muhammad and his men executed raids on neighboring towns and villages. One of those towns was Khaybar, where the Banu Nadir Jewish tribe had fled after being banished from Medina by Muhammad nearly two years earlier. Muhammad had beheaded Huyeiy Ibn Akhtab, the chief of the Jewish Banu Nadir tribe before that tribe was forced to leave Medina. Huyeiy Ibn Akhtab, had a seventeen-year-old daughter by the name of Safiyah. She had married her cousin, Kinana, who was the young Jewish leader in the town of Khaybar, the town to which they had fled.
When Muhammad and his Muslims raided the Khaybar, a Jewish traitor at Khaybar informed Muhammad that Safiyah’s husband Kinana was the treasurer of the town and had hidden the wealth of the Jews in some nearby ruins. But when pressed to disclose the whereabouts of the cash of wealth, Kinana refused to divulge the secret. Muhammad ordered that a fire be built upon Kinana’s chest, but the torture did not make Kinana speak. When Kinana finally died under his torture, Muhammad ordered that his head be cut off.
Then Muhammad asked that the prettiest woman from among the Jewish captives be brought to him–a common request of Muhammad after such raids. From house to house, his men took Jewish women prisoners; among them were Safiyah–deceased Kinana’s wife–and the two sisters of Kinana. As they were brought to Muhammad, they passed the lifeless mutilated body of Kinana, something that evoked deep emotional outbursts from the women. When Kinana’s two sisters strewed dust on their heads as a sign of grief, Muhammad angrily responded, “Remove these two she devils from me.” Being attracted to the beauty of Safiyah, however, he ordered her to remain and proceeded to throw his cloak over her, symbolizing that he had reserved her for himself. Safiyah was taken to Muhammad’s tent that very night where he sought to gratify his sexual appetite, only hours after torturing her husband to death. But Safiyah resisted his advances.
The next day Muhammad again covered Safiyah with his mantle, signifying that she was now his. That day she was groomed for a mock wedding and raped that night. The man that had murdered both her father and rightful husband had become her husband.
While additional parallels between Muhammad and contemporary true Muslims (who are designated as “radicals”) could be identified, the most distasteful and obvious associations have been discussed. Muhammad observed these same practices. The real “radical” Muslims are those who have deviated from Muhammad’s violent example! They are the moderate Muslims.
For decades, liberal college and university professors have ridiculed the colonial policies of Western powers such as Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Holland and Russian that colonized developing nations around the world, often calling those Western powers “imperialistic.” But as Western nations relinquished their holds on those nations throughout the twentieth century, those nations have often reverted to dominant native religious influences, which generally have not been Christian and often have been Muslim. While those Western powers were dominant in those nations, Islam and other violent religions were held in check, but when Western powers allowed for nationalization, many of those former colonies reverted to the violent influence of Islam.
This fact goes a long way in explaining the increasing violence of Muslims around the world. The violent example of Muhammad became the pattern for Muhammad’s contemporaries as well as his successors. In fact, the Christian Crusades came after nearly 500 years of persistent Muslim attacks upon Christian people groups and their nations. Muhammad’s successors, following his violent example, have subjugated people groups and nations all around the world. Referring to contemporary expressions of Islam as “radical Islam” is intellectually and historically dishonest. It is an attempt to avoid the stark and glaring reality of the violent nature of Islam as first seen in the life of Muhammad. Those who have never seriously studied the history of Muhammad and his new religion are shocked by recent violence around the world perpetrated by the followers of Muhammad. The fact is that colonialization held these violent expressions at bay for nearly a century, and only now is this generation forced to confront what previous generations faced for centuries from the descendants of Muhammad. Contemporary followers of Muhammad’s example who express their religion in the same violent manner as did Muhammad are not radical, but real Muslims.
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 Paul Fregosi, Jihad in the West: Muslim Conquests From the 7th to the 21st Centuries (Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 1998), 36.
 Fregosi, Jihad in the West, 38.
 The name of this tribe is spelled in a variety of ways: Banu Kainuka, Banu Kaynuka, Banu Qainuqa, Banu Qaynuqa.
 “Banu Qaynuqa,” Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banu_Qaynuqa, September 81, 2014).
 Fregosi, Jihad in the West, 59.
 Fregosi, Jihad in the West, 44-45.
 Fregosi, Jihad in the West, 39, 41.
 See http://www.faithfreedom.org/challenge/rapist.htm; http://www.sullivan-county.com/islam/rape.htm
 Fregosi, Jihad in the West, 22.
 Fregosi, Jihad in the West, 22, 25.