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Unfettered Religious Freedom in Islam – A Fact or Fiction?; Part 3

By       Message Alamgir Hussain     Permalink
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"Conquest of Mecca and Quraysh pagans' embracing of Islam in great number"

Apologist moderate Muslims also typically cite the allegedly peaceful entry of Muslim army into Mecca in 630 and the conversion of large number of the Quraysh to Islam under no duress. Brig. Zaman also did not miss the same as he wrote: "The Muslims occupied Makkah in January, 630 almost unopposed. Makkans in great numbers embraced Islam."

It is important to consider if the un-opposed entry of the Muslims into Mecca was because they were a peaceful and lovable people or because that the Muslims were deadly and cruel enough to destroy the weak Mecca pagans had they opposed their entry. Weren't the fates of unfortunate Jewish clans of Medina alive in the minds of the Mecca pagan? How come, the Mecca citizens did not choose the religion of peace just two years earlier when Muhammad had led a pilgrimage to Mecca? Instead, they had sought to prevent Muslims' entry into their city with their lives which resulted in the negotiated signing of the Hudaibiya treaty.

Is there any evidence that Muslims did any work of peace and love during those two intervening years after singing the Hudaibiya treaty, which might have convinced the Mecca pagan to convert to Islam in such great number as soon as the Muslim conquered Mecca in 630. Instead, Islamic history tells us that Muslims engaged in a number of aggressive and violent attacks, raids and expeditions against non-Muslim tribes and territories around Medina that came within their reach and power during those two intervening years. What then may have convinced the Mecca pagans to embrace Islam in such great number as soon as Muslims captured Mecca?

Let us examine what took place behind this mass conversion of the Quraysh pagans on the day of the Prophet's capture of Mecca. By discarding the treaty of Hudaibiya, the Prophet ordered preparation for attacking Mecca. He wanted to take the Quraysh by surprise and so he kept praying as the preparation went on: "O Allah, take eyes and ears from the Quraysh so that we may take them by surprise in their land" [Ibn Ishaq, 544].

An invincible Muslim army approached near Mecca and camped at Marr al-Zahran at night each lighting fire to show to the Quraysh a glimpse of the huge army assembled. Catching a glimpse of the Muslim army, Al-Abbas who had joined the Muslim camp a while earlier said, "Alas, Quraysh, if the apostle enters Mecca by force before they come and ask for protection; that will be the end of the Quraysh forever".

Quraysh leader Abu Sufian, Prophet Muhammad's father-in-law, received the news and set off for a negotiation and mercy to his citizens. On the way, his brother Al-Abbas met him in the darkness and assured him protection and led him to the Prophet. On the way, Omar al-Khattab met them and seeing Abu Sufian, he cried out: "Abu Sufian, the enemy of God! Thanks be to God who has delivered you up with out agreement or word". He then rushed for his sword, adding: "Let me take off his head". [Ibn Ishaq, p547]

Al-Abbas overcame Omar on the ground of his promise of protection to Abu Sufyan and brought him to the prophet, who asked to bring him back the next morning. When brought back the next morning, the apostle said, "Isn't it time that you should recognize there is no God but Allah?" When Abu Sufyan showed hesitation, the apostle exclaimed, "Woe to you, Abu Sufian! Isn't it time that you recognized that I am the apostle of God?" To which he answered, "As to that I still have some doubt." At this point, Al-Abbas forcefully intervened and said to him, "Submit and testify that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the apostle of god before you lose your head"; so he did. Then Al-Abbas requested the Prophet to do something for Abu Sufian's people in Mecca. The Prophet said, "He who enters Abu Sufians house is safe, and he who locks his door is safe and he, who enters the mosque (become Muslim) is safe" [Ibn Ishaq, p547-48].

Here is the cruel saga behind Muslims' lofty claims of Muhammad's peaceful entry into Mecca and many Quraysh people's embracing of Islam in great number on that day under no compulsion. Of course, when 'entering the mosque', that is, 'becoming Muslims' is one of the two choices in face of the complete submission of their city to Muhammad's army, many Quraysh were to convert to Islam naturally. However, those stubborn ones, who had persisted on practicing idolatry, did not have much time before they were forced to convert to Islam on the pain of death (see the conclusion).


"Muhammad's display of great kindness and forgiveness to the Quraysh"

Another gigantic claim Muslims make is about Prophet Muhammad's display of great generosity and forgiveness to the citizens of Mecca for sparing their lives. This is also a proof of the Prophet's kindness towards his enemies and tolerance towards people of pagan religion. Muslims give such an impression that never in history, such accordance of forgiveness and tolerance was shown by any leader in the world.

Let us first consider why the pagans of Quraysh should be considered such great enemies by the Muslims at all, which warranted forgiveness. The bitterness of the rivalry between the Quraysh of Mecca and the Muslims has been clearly outlined once by Allah in the Quran:

[Quran 2:217] They ask thee concerning fighting in the Prohibited Month. Say: 'Fighting therein is a grave (offence); but graver is it in the sight of Allah to prevent access to the path of Allah, to deny Him, to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque, and drive out its members.' Tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter. Nor will they cease fighting you until they turn you back from your faith if they can....

The Prophet also describes his rivalry with the Quraysh in the battle field of Badr. As the dead-bodies of the slain Koreish were being unceremoniously thrown into a mass-grave, an indignant Prophet yelled over them:

"Oh people of the pit, you evil kinsfolk of your prophet. Have ye now found true that which your Lord did promise to you? What my Lord promised to me, that have I verily found to be true. Woe unto these people! Ye have rejected me, your Prophet! Ye cast me forth, and others gave me refuge; ye fought against me, and others came to my help!" [Ibn Ishaq, p305-6]

These statements of the Quran and the Prophet clearly say that the fault of the pagans were their non-acceptance of Muhammad's new religion, advising others not to accept it, and stopping him from entering the Ka'ba (which was pagan's sacred temple for centuries), which resulted in the Prophet's relocation to Medina (seeing a better prospect of success of his religion there). Islamic literatures do not list any incidence of violence by the Quraysh against Muhammad and his converts except some of their slaves who had converted. By 'ye fought against me', the Prophet probably meant the fighting and wars that were initiated by the Prophet after relocating to Medina since there is no incidence of fights between them when the Prophet was living in Mecca.

The Quran is hateful to non-Islamic religions, people and their cultures on every page of it. The Quraysh tolerated the preaching of such hateful messages for 12 years before Muhammad relocated to Medina (al-Hijrah). Quran also makes a claim on the Ka'ba, the most sacred temple of the pagans in Arabia for centuries, as the house of Allah, the God of Muhammad's new religion. After all these, they never tortured or attacked him other than putting the Muslims under social exclusion for two years, which is very much a civilized measure in even today's standard.

This most tolerant and civilized gestures of the Quraysh were termed as 'tumult and oppression' which were worse than slaughter in the eyes of Allah and His prophet. So, Muhammad started attacking the Quraysh caravans and killing their people which resulted in a number of blood-letting confrontations. Muhammad disrupted most of the trading pathways of the Quraysh causing great sufferings to them. On top of that, when Muhammad became strong enough, he disregarded an existing treaty and attacked Mecca, captured the Ka'ba and destroyed the idol-gods therein, which were revered by the citizens for centuries. It appears that Muhammad had not yet had enough of barbaric brutalization of the Quraysh of Mecca. Muslims of all shades think that the Quraysh had done such unpardonable crime out of their most civilized and tolerant behavior that Muhammad should have slaughtered them all after capturing Mecca in 630.

To be continued....

 

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Muhammad Hussain is a researcher and freelance writer.

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