Qaynuqa, the Banu al-Nadir, and the Banu Qurayza. Muhammad and the Muslims based their community within Medina, and over a period of five years they

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ONEQURAN AND CONQUESTMUHAMMAD, THE QURAN, AND JIHADIslam did not begin with violence. Rather, it began as the peaceful proclamation of the absolute unity of God by the Prophet Muhammad (ca. 610 c.e.) in the pagan-dominated town of Mecca. The early suras(chapters) of the Qur an proclaim this basic message: ÒSay: He is Allah,the only One, Allah, the Everlasting. He did not beget and is not begot- ten, and none is His equalÓ (Quran 112). Initially, Muhammad was instructed merely to communicate this message to his immediate family and close friends, who, together with a number of social outcasts and slaves, formed the original community of Muslims. Within a few years, the Prophet and his adherents found themselves increasingly persecuted for their beliefs by the elite of the Quraysh (the tribe that dominated Mecca). Muhammad proselytized among the tribesmen of the oasis of Yathrib, about 150miles to the north of Mecca, who accepted his mes-sage. In 622he, together with the other Muslims, emigrated to this oasis, which was subsequently called Medina.Muslim history begins with the hijiraÑMuhammadÕs emigration to Medina (although there continue to be major, unresolved problems with the historicity of the events narrated below concerning the life of the Prophet Muhammad and the Þrst conquests). Medina was not a town in the conventional sense but rather a collection of small villages and forts spread over the oasis, divided politically among two pagan Arab tribesÑ the Aws and the KhazrajÑand three smaller Jewish tribes: the Banu 501ch.qxp 5/20/15 5:35 PM Page 5

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Qaynuqa, the Banu al-Nadir, and the Banu Qurayza. Muhammad and the Muslims based their community within Medina, and over a period of Þve years they converted the Arab tribesmen that occupied the territory. It was in this context that jihad arose, and the campaigns to gain adherents and control territory constituted the focus of the communityÕs activity during the last nine years of the ProphetÕs life. Muhammad is recorded as having participated in at least twenty-seven campaigns and deputized some Þfty-nine othersÑan average of no fewer than nine campaigns annually. 1These campaigns can be divided into four groups:1.The Þve ÒthematicÓ battles of Badr ( 624), Uhud (625), Khan-daq (627), Mecca (630) and Hunayn (630), undertaken withthe goal of dominating the three principal settled areas of the Hijaz: Mecca, Medina, and al-Ta if2.Raids against the Bedouin, undertaken to force local tribesmen to supportÑor at least not to attackÑthe Muslims3.Attacks against Jewish tribes to secure the oases in which they resided4.Two raids against the Byzantines at al-Mu ta (629) and Tabuk (631) and the campaign led by Usama b. Zayd (632) againstSyria, which, though less than successful at best, heralded the direction of Muslim conquests during the years following the ProphetÕs death in 632.This evidence demonstrates categorically the importance of jihad to the early Muslim community. It is no coincidence that a number of the Prophet MuhammadÕs early biographers refer to the last ten years of his life as al-maghazi(the raids).2The raids were a mixed success. Unexpectedly, the Muslims emerged victorious from the Þrst of their battlesÑthe Battle of BadrÑbut cam- paigns undertaken during the three years following ended in losses or stalemates, compensated in some instances by attacks on poorly defended Jewish tribes, Þrst in Medina and later in the oases to the north. After the Battle of the Khandaq in 627, which was a stalemate,the tide turned for the Muslims, as a result of the MeccansÕ political weaknesses. By 629Muhammad controlled the region to the north ofMedina almost to the border with the Byzantine Empire, and in 630heconquered Mecca and its allied town of al-Ta if.This mixed bag of victories, half-victories, Pyrrhic victories, anddefeats associated with IslamÕs origins Þgured prominently in how the 6/QUR AN AND CONQUEST01ch.qxp 5/20/15 5:35 PM Page 6

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community deÞned itself. The revelations that constitute the Qur ancoincide with military activity, and many address issues related to the conduct of jihad; one of the earliest of these deÞnes just causes for wag- ing jihad, emphasizing the essential component of justice:Permission is given to those who Þght because they are wronged. SurelyAllah is capable of giving them victory. Those who were driven out of their homes unjustly, merely for their saying: ÒOur Lord is Allah.Ó Had Allah not repelled some people by others, surely monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is mentioned fre- quently, would have been demolished. Indeed, Allah will support who- ever supports Him. Allah is surely Strong and Mighty. ( 22:39Ð40)This verse emphasizes the basic component of justice in the waging ofjihad. The persecutions of the pagan Quraysh forced the Muslims to emigrate to Medina. During the course of this migration, many of the Muslims lost most or all of their worldly goods and were unable to adjust to life in the agricultural oasis of Medina (as Mecca lacked any agriculture [see 14:37]). Since Medina lay close to the route betweenMecca and Syria, through which the Meccans had to pass in order to continue their trading activities, the Muslims sought recompense for their losses by attacking the caravans of the Quraysh. These attacks pre- cipitated the Þrst round of Òthematic battlesÓ leading to the eventual conquest of Mecca by Muhammad and the Muslims. In 624a Meccancaravan was passing by Medina en route from Syria, and its com- mander, Abu Sufyan, realizing the danger, sent for reinforcements to assist him. Muhammad, who was leading the Muslims, intercepted the caravan, but Abu Sufyan managed to escape. The subsequent battle at Badr between the Muslims and Meccan reinforcements constituted the Þrst of MuhammadÕs victories. Much of sura8(the Spoils) deals with this event, which was impor-tant to early Islam for a number of reasons. The victory was unexpected because of the fact that the Muslims were outnumbered, necessary because the Muslims needed it in order to build up prestige, and sweet because of the number of prominent members of the Quraysh who were slain, for they had Þgured prominently in the persecution of the Mus- lims in Mecca. The battle was important for Islam in the long run as well. The Quran identiÞes God as the agent of the battle and the solecause of the MuslimÕs victory. According to sura8, it was God whoinduced the believers to march forward (8:5), compelled the Muslims toattack the Meccan reinforcements instead of the caravan (8:6), and sup-plied angels to assist the Muslims (8:9):QURAN AND CONQUEST/7 01ch.qxp 5/20/15 5:35 PM Page 7

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It was not you [the Muslims] who slew them, but Allah; and when youthrew it was actually Allah who threw, so that He might generously reward the believers. Allah is Hearing, Knowing. (8:17)The Quran, moreover, directs the community of Muslims to preserve the memory of the event: Òwhoever turns his back on that day, unless preparing to resume Þghting, or joining another group, incurs AllahÕs wrath and his refuge is Hell; and what an evil fate!Ó (8:16). All of thiswill be accomplished Òso that He may cause the Truth to triumph and nullify falsehood, even though the wicked sinners dislike itÓ (8:8).Although Christian and Jewish bibles and apocalyptic literature, like the Quran, often describe God Þghting on the side of believers (see, forexample, Joshua 10:14), associating the will of the deity with victory istheologically problematic, and particularly so in the wake of a defeat.The Battle of Badr was not taken advantage of by the Muslim com- munity, which was too small to follow up on its unexpected victory. A year later, the Meccans sought revenge for their defeat and obtained it at the Battle of Uhud, fought just to the north of Medina. The Muslims took positions at the foot of Mount Uhud (a small butte), while the Meccans held a key strategic location between them and the entrance to Medina. Just before the battle, a number of Muslims, led by Abdallahb. Ubayy (the leader of the lukewarm, or uncommitted, Muslims, usu- ally called Òthe HypocritesÓ in the Quran), abandoned the Muslimforce in full view of the Meccans. When the Muslims advanced from their base on Mount Uhud, the Meccan cavalry encircled them from behind; the Prophet Muhammad only narrowly made his escape, while many of his adherents, thinking he had been killed, ßed the battle. Sev- eral prominent Muslims, including MuhammadÕs uncle Hamza (often called Òthe Prince of MartyrsÓ in the jihad literature), were killed in the trap. To a large extent, Muhammad and the Muslims could count them- selves lucky that the Meccans did not take advantage of their victory and Þnish off the defenseless Muslim families in Medina.Because of the theological weight placed upon the victory at Badr theprevious year, the defeat at Uhud proved difÞcult to explain. Muslims asked: if God was on our side then, why did He allow this disastrous defeat? Answers are forthcoming in the Qur an, especially in the lasthalf of sura3(The Family of Imran), which introduces the idea thatÒIslamÓ needs to be divorced from the person of Muhammad ( 3:144);the death of the religionÕs prophet will not signal the end of the religion itself. The defeat at Uhud is explained in terms of GodÕs alternating vic- tories between people in order to test them ( 3:140Ð42, 152), and the 8/QUR AN AND CONQUEST01ch.qxp 5/20/15 5:35 PM Page 8

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Prophet is commended for having forgiven those whose impetuousnesscaused the disaster (3:155Ð59). Thus, an event that could have dividedthe still small Muslim community was used to reinforce its unity. This unity was tested yet again during the Battle of the Khandaq(627). By this time, the pagan Meccans had decided that the Muslimcommunity must be decisively defeated, and so they gathered a large number of tribal alliesÑreferred to in the Qur an as al-ahzab,the Con-federatesÑand laid siege to the oasis of Medina. Within Medina, the Prophet MuhammadÕs authority was challenged by the Hypocrites, who discounted the threat and refused to Þght ( 33:12Ð20). The true believ-ers are characterized as Òmen who fulÞlled what they pledged to Allah; some of them have died, some are still waiting, without changing in the leastÓ (33:23).The Battle of Khandaq was not a battle of weapons, but rather a chal-lenge to the disunity among Muslims Þrst manifested in the Battle of Uhud (by Abdallah b. UbayyÕs last-minute abandonment of the other Muslims). These problems were resolved by the massacre of the Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayza (33:26), GodÕs causing a wind to arise and send- ing unseen hosts to defeat the Meccan besiegers (33:9), and the ultimatecapitulation of the Hypocrites and their integration within the commu- nity loyal to Muhammad. These factors were decisive in the ultimate victory of the Muslims over their Meccan opponents three years later. The conquest of Mecca (630) is treated only brießy in the Qur an,although most of sura48is devoted to this subject. Of much greater importance for the study of jihad is the penultimate sura in the Quran,surat al-Tawba (Repentance). This surais the only chapter of theQuran that is not preceded by the phrase ÒIn the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful,Ó which in itself indicates the martial nature of the text. It was most likely revealed in 631.3Sura9containsthe account of the salviÞc covenant between God and the Muslims that helps deÞne the nature of jihad:Allah has bought from the believers their lives and their wealth in returnfor Paradise; they Þght in the way of Allah, kill and get killed. That is a true promise from Him in the Torah, the Gospel, and the Qur an; andwho fulÞlls His promise better than Allah? Rejoice, then, at the bargain you have made with Him; for that is the great triumph. (9:111)Like much of the language of the Quran, this covenant is presented incontractual terms. The exchange is clear: the MuslimsÕ lives and wealth are given to Allah in return for an assurance of Paradise. Given the verseÕs unique power and relevance to the subject, it is no wonder that QURAN AND CONQUEST/9 01ch.qxp 5/20/15 5:35 PM Page 9

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this verse is prominently cited in collections on the subject of jihad (forexample, that of al-Bukhari).However, sura9has many more important verses to offer concerningjihad. The suraÕs main subject is the revocation of the immunity granted by God and Muhammad to those tribes that had not converted to Islam prior to this revelation. After the lifting of the immunity, the Muslims must Þght the unbelievers:Then, when the sacred months are over, kill the idolaters wherever you Þnd them, take them [captive], besiege them, and lie in wait for them at every point of observation. If they repent afterwards, perform the prayer and pay the alms, then release them. Allah is truly All-Forgiving, Merci- ful. (9:5)This verse, together with the salviÞc covenant, is one of the most impor-tant verses on the subject of jihad. It is usually called the ÒVerse of the SwordÓ and is said to abrogate all other verses in the Quran on the sub-ject of war and peace. While its immediate subject is the pagan ArabsÑ a narrow application sustained by early commentatorsÑlater Muslim jurists would use the verse to proclaim a universal jihad against all non- Muslims.Sura 9also deals extensively with social relations between believersand nonbelieversÑagain of decisive importance for the later develop- ment of Islam. According to 9:23Ð24, a Muslim should distance himself from his kin and friends if they persist in unbelief (see also 3:28, 4:139,5:51, 57). This sura also establishes the paradigm of Muslim dominanceover Jews and Christians that would dictate the social system of Islam for centuries to come:Fight those among the People of the Book [Jews and Christians] who do not believe in God and the Last Day, do not forbid what God and His Apostle have forbidden, and do not profess the true religion [Islam] until they pay the poll-tax out of hand and submissively. ( 9:29)One of the goals of jihad was to conquer and dominate non-Muslims.Reading through sura 9, and understanding that this sura was probablyrevealed toward the end of MuhammadÕs life, just a few years before the conquests (making the Þnal revelation a declaration of war), explains the aggressiveness of the early Muslims.In summarizing the teachings of the Quran with regard to the sub- ject of jihad, it is important to emphasize that we have a very martialand well-developed teaching here. Although it not an exhaustive treat- ment of jihadÑmany of the hadithand subsequent jurisprudence are10/QUR AN AND CONQUEST01ch.qxp 5/20/15 5:35 PM Page 10

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shrewd military strategy. The early Muslims adopted innovative tactics involving the extensive use of light cavalry to move quickly and target enemies at their weak points.5Some of these innovations are describedin the hadith on the subject of jihad . The weakness of the Byzantine andSasanian empires also aided the early Muslims immensely. With the exception of the Sasanians, not a single major powerful state fell to the early Muslims. Rather, the Muslims advanced through politically unsta- ble regions or regions controlled by nomads, many of whom converted to Islam and joined the conquest. These auxiliary forces, by supple- menting the manpower from which the Muslims could draw their armies, proved crucial in obtaining the ultimate victory. 6The Islamic conquests wrested control of an enormous territory from Christian and Zoroastrian religious domination (with local populations of Jews, Manicheans, Gnostic sects, and pagans) and resulted in a lin- guistic shift in the entire region from Aramaic (and its dialects) and Greek to Arabic. The changes engendered by the conquests culminated in the civilization known to historians as the high Islamic civilization, which lasted roughly until the thirteenth century. The speed at which the Muslims conquered is reminiscent of the campaigns of Genghis Khan, Napoleon, or Hitler, but none of these conquerors was able to sustain his conquests. The geographic scope of the Muslim conquest, the resul- tant advanced civilization, and religious and linguistic shifts could be compared to those of the Romans, the Spanish, or the British, but these empires expanded much more slowly in order to consolidate their gains. The most apt comparison is the conquests undertaken by Alexander the Great, whose victories over the Persian Achmenaeid Empire (330sb.c.e.) similarly heralded long-term religious and linguistic shifts (thespread of Hellenistic culture and the Greek language) in the territories he conquered at lightning speed.For many Muslims, the conquests constitute a miracle from God at-testing to the veracity of the revelation of Islam. During preparations for the Battle of the Khandaq, the following scene is said to have taken place:[Salman al-Farisi] said: I was striking [with a pick while digging thetrench] on one part of the Khandaq, when there was a stone that was too tough for me. The Messenger of Allah [Muhammad] was close to me, and when he saw me and how difÞcult the place was for me, he descended [into the trench] and took the pick from my hands. He struck the rock with force that caused lightning to ßash from the pickthen he struck again, and lightning ßashed from beneath the pickand then struck a third time and again lightning ßashed from beneath it. I12/QUR AN AND CONQUEST01ch.qxp 5/20/15 5:35 PM Page 12

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said: ÒMay my father and mother [be a redemption for you], O Messen-ger of Allah, what was that I saw beneath the pick when you struck?Ó He said: ÒDid you see that, O Salman?Ó I said: ÒYes.Ó He said: ÒWith the Þrst [ßash] Allah gave me the Yemen, with the second Allah gave me Syria and the Maghrib [Morocco] and with the third, Allah gave me the East.Ó7Thus Muhammad, like Moses (Deut. 34:1Ð4), was granted a legitimiz-ing vision of the lands his community was to conquer shortly after his death; the visionÕs meaning is explicated in the verse immediately fol- lowing the account of promised territories:Abu Hurayra would say after these amsar[cities founded by the Mus-lims] were conquered during the time of Umar, Uthman and after-wards, ÒConquer whatever you wish, because by the One who holds the soul of Abu Hurayra in His hands, you have never conquered nor will you ever conquer any city until the Day of Resurrection without Allah having already given its keys into the hands of Muhammad previously.Ó 8Because of the miracle of the conquests, jihad emerged as one of thecore elements of Islam. Without the conquests, the religion would not have had the opportunity to spread in the way that it did, nor would it have been the attractant that it was. Islam was not in fact Òspread by the swordÓÑconversion was not forced on the occupants of conquered ter- ritoriesÑbut the conquests created the necessary preconditions for the spread of Islam. With only a few exceptions (East Africa, Southeast Asia, and to some extent Central Asia beyond Transoxiana), Islam has become the majority faith only in territories that were conquered by force. Thus, the conquests and the doctrine that motivated these con- questsÑjihadÑwere crucial to the development of Islam.While the Quran provides the basis for the doctrine of jihad, it is the tradition literature of Islam that describes how Muslims perceived it as they were Þghting and what they were Þghting for. ACCOUNTS OF THE JIHAD: THE HADITH LITERATURE Such remarkable conquests could not have been achieved had they not been backed up by the developing Islamic tradition. The tradition liter- ature, or hadithÑsayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad andaccounts of events in his life recounted by his close companionsÑis in part a record of the warfare during this early period. These traditions cover a broad range of subjects, in some instances supplementingQURAN AND CONQUEST/13 01ch.qxp 5/20/15 5:35 PM Page 13

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accounts in the Quran, in others treating events and issues notaddressed therein. Scholars analyzing this material have concluded that few, if any, of the hadithare contemporaneous with the events that theydescribe; the earliest extant parts of the corpus likely date to the end of the seventh century (about seventy years after the ProphetÕs death). For Sunni Muslims the hadith literature is of central importance in deciding how to live oneÕs life. These early collections of tradition literature, although small com- pared to the genreÕs vast growth during the eighth and probably ninth centuries, record the living and developing religion of Islam at the time of its origins. The earliest hadithcompilations that have come down tous are as random as the subjects they address. By the mid-eighth century, and especially by the ninth century, however, the collections become much more sophisticated, organized topically for the purpose of refer- ence. These annotated hadithcontain extensive discussions of jihad,which in most collections are located immediately after the sections devoted to the ÒÞve pillars of Islam.ÓSome of the earliest collections are devoted entirely to jihad, and with the aid of these books we can reconstruct to some extent the beliefs of the early Muslim conquerors. The earliest known writer is Abdallah (d. 797), who was originally from the region of CentralAsia and emigrated to Syria in order to Þght the Byzantines. He was well known as a warrior-ascetic (see chapter 2), and his Kitab al-jihadcom-plements his much larger book on asceticism. The Kitab al-jihaddocu-ments the evolution of the Muslim conception of warfare during the period of the conquests after MuhammadÕs death. The spiritual concep- tion of warfare is much more detailed than it is in the Quran:The slain [in jihad] are three [types of] men: a believer, who struggles with himself and his possessions in the path of God, such that when he meets the enemy [in battle] he Þghts them until he is killed. This martyr (shahid)is tested, [and is] in the camp of God under His throne; theprophets do not exceed him [in merit] except by the level of prophecy. [Then] a believer, committing offenses and sins against himself, who struggles with himself and his possessions in the path of God, such that when he meets the enemy [in battle] he Þghts until he is killed. This cleansing wipes away his offenses and his sinsÑbehold the sword wipes [away] sins!Ñand he will be let into heaven from whatever gate he wishes.[T hen] a hypocrite, who struggles with himself and his pos-sessions in the path of God, such that when he meets the enemy [in bat- tle] he Þghts until he is killed. This [man] is in hell since the sword does not wipe away hypocrisy. 914/QUR AN AND CONQUEST01ch.qxp 5/20/15 5:35 PM Page 14

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This tradition could be taken as a representative example of the numer-ous (262) traditions contained within this book on the subject of jihad.It presents jihad as spiritualized warfare in the same spirit as Qur an9:111. Of the three Þgures mentionedÑthe True Believer, the Sinning but Repentant Believer, and the Hypocritical BelieverÑthe second is clearly the most interesting. This Sinning but Repentant Believer seeks to expiate his sins on the Þeld of battle. According to the tradition, the sword, together with the pure intention of the Þghter, wipes away the believerÕs sins. Thus, there is a redemptive aspect to jihad that is crucial to under-standing its development. We have already noted Qur an 9:111, wherethis salviÞc contract is spelled out. In Abdallah b. al-MubarakÕs Kitabal-jihadwe see similar attitudes. In the above hadith, Òthe sword wipesaway sinsÓ in a manner similar to the Christian tradition, which places redemption in the Cross: ÒBeing killed in the path of Allah washes away impurity; killing is two things: atonement and rank [in heaven].Ó10Fighters were encouraged to wear white so that the blood of their sacri- Þce would be apparent.11Later traditions distinguish several types ofÞghters:There is a man who Þghts in the path of Allah and does not want to killor be killed, but is struck by an arrow. The Þrst drop of blood [dripping] from him is atonement for every sin he has committed; for every drop he sheds he gains levels in paradise. The second type of man is one who Þghts desiring to kill but not to be killed, and is struck by an arrow. The Þrst drop of blood [dripping] from him is atonement for every sin; for every drop he sheds he gains a level in paradise until he bumps Abra- hamÕs knee [on the top level]. The third type of man is one who Þghts in the path of Allah desiring to kill and be killed, and is struck by an arrow. The Þrst drop of blood [dripping] from him is atonement for every sin; he will come to the Day of Resurrection with a drawn sword, [able to] intercede.12These traditions are very powerful and descriptive, reßecting a beliefsystem capable of inspiring the conquest of so much territory and achieving what the early Muslims achieved.Much of the extensive tradition literature on the subject of jihad con- cerns broad themes: deÞning Þghters and Þghting, distinguishing classes of prohibitions in Þghting, determining the equitable division of spoils and the fate of prisoners. Among the authoritative collections, those of Malik b. Anas (d. 795) and al-Awza i (d. 773), although not included inthe Òsix canonical collectionsÓ of Sunni Islam, are important because ofQURAN AND CONQUEST/15 01ch.qxp 5/20/15 5:35 PM Page 15

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