Islam Under Scrutiny by Ex-Muslims

The Root of Terrorism a la Islamic style
Chapter 17

'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'---Isaac Asimov (1920-1992)


Terror Seventy-three

The Destruction of al-Uzza at Nakhla by Khalid b. al-Walid - January, 630CE

During the next two weeks after Muhammad's occupation of Mecca (see Terror 72, CH.16), Muhammads' true notion on religious freedom and tolerance was revealed. Immediately after he seized control of Meeca, he dispatched troops all around Mecca to destroy the pagan idols and to force people to Islam. The first such 'religious cleansing,' just five nights before the end of Ramadan, was the destruction of al-Uzza by the fearsome general Khalid b. al-Walid. Al-Uzza was the biggest female idol (goddess) at Nakhla, more recent than al-Lat and was worshipped and venerated by B. Shayban, a sub-clan of B. Sulaym, Quraysh, Kinanah and al-Mudar, inhabiting in and around Mecca.

Ibn Kalbi contends that Muhammad had once given an offering to al-Uzza. He writes:

'We have been told that the Apostle of God once mentioned al-Uzza saying, "I have offered a white sheep to al-'Uzza, while I was a follower of the religion of my people."'

Upon Muhammad's order, Khalid raided the temple and demolished the idol. He raided this temple twice. In his first incursion, he cut down a tree in the temple, broke the idol and killed its attendant and returned to Medina. Not satisfied with this, Muhammad sent him again. This time, Khalid went out with full fury, ransacked the temple while the custodian of al-Uzza, Dubayyah al-Sulami started to cry. Khalid killed him and cut down another tree in the temple compound. Then, while Khaild was rampaging through the shrine, a wailing, naked Ethiopian woman rushed towards Khalid. He beheaded her, took her Jewellery and brought it back to Muhammad. Muhammad was extremely pleased and claimed that that naked black woman was the real al-Uzza.

Terror Seventy-four

The Destruction of Suwa at Ruhat by Amr b. al-As - January, 630CE

Almost at the same time Muhammad sent Khalid to destroy al-Uzza, he also sent Amr b. al-As to destroy the stone idol of Suwa at Ruhat, a mere three kms from Mecca. Suwa was a stone in the shape of a woman to represent mutability and beauty and was worshipped by the tribe of Hudhayl. Its custodian was a man from B. Lihyan. Amr b. al-As broke the stone idol in pieces and, forced its keeper under sword to accept Islam. To his disappointment Amr did not find much valuable treasure in this temple.

Terror Seventy-five

The Destruction of al-Manat at al-Kadid by Sa'd b. Zayd al-Ashhali - January, 630CE

Then Sa'd b. Zayd went out to al-Kadid with twenty horsemen and destroyed the female idol (goddess) of Manat that the people of al-Aws al-Khazraj, and Ghassan used to worship. Manat was the most ancient of all idols around Mecca and its vicinity. When the Muslims arrived at the temple, they found there a black woman with unkempt hair. Sa'd struck her with his sword and killed her. Then Sa'd ransacked the area for valuables but found none. Some say that Manat was destroyed by Ali. Ali found two swords under the foundation of Manat and Muhammad gave those two swords to Ali.

Terror Seventy-six

Plunder of B. Jadhimah at Tihamah by Khalid b. al-Walid - January, 630CE

Pleased with Khalid's service, Muhammad sent him with a detachment of three hundred and fifty (350) men to deal with the Banu Jodhimah who inhabited the low lands of Tihamah. They were not really pagans or polytheists, but Sabeans. The Sabeans claimed to be the descendants of Seth, a son of Adam. They used to worship the Sun, the Moon and the Stars, claiming their faith to be the religion of Noah. Muhammad instructed Khalid to call them to Islam without fighting. However, when Khalid arrived at the site, he brought up old issue of enmity and mistreated them. B. Jadhima refused to surrender and took up arms against Khalid.

Nonetheless, after pleading from several other senior members of the tribe, they surrendered. Even then, Khalid b. Walid killed some of them. Haykal writes that those who surrendered but did not accept Islam were to be killed. When Muhammad received the news of the atrocity by Khalid, he was very displeased and asked Allah to absolve him from the act of violence by Khalid, the peccant. He said, "Slay the people as long as you do not hear a Muadhdin (cryer for Islamic prayers) or see a mosque."

Here is Sahi Hadith from Sahih Bukhari on the level of atrocity and cruelty perpetrated on B. Jadhimah by the Muslims:

Volume 5, Book 59, Number 628:

Narrated Salim's father:

The Prophet sent Khalid bin Al-Walid to the tribe of Jadhima and Khalid invited them to Islam but they could not express themselves by saying, "Aslamna (i.e. we have embraced Islam)," but they started saying "Saba'na! Saba'na (i.e. we have come out of one religion to another)." Khalid kept on killing (some of) them and taking (some of) them as captives and gave every one of us his Captive. When there came the day then Khalid ordered that each man (i.e. Muslim soldier) should kill his captive, I said, "By Allah, I will not kill my captive, and none of my companions will kill his captive." When we reached the Prophet, we mentioned to him the whole story. On that, the Prophet raised both his hands and said twice, "O Allah! I am free from what Khalid has done."

Then Muhammad asked Ali to go to B. Jadhimah to pay the compensation for the killing by Khalid. Ali paid the B. Jadhimah the blood money and the compensation for the property that Khalid had destroyed.

As per Ibn Ishaq Muhammad had commanded Khalid to kill the B. Jadhimah for their refusal to accept Islam.

Here is a pitiable tale of cruelty by the Muslim army as narrated by a Jihadist when Khalid invaded B. Jadhimah

According to Sa'id b Yahya al-Umawi--.-..Abdallah b. Abi Hadrad, who said:

I was among Khalid's horsemen that day. One of their young men-he was among the prisoners, his hands were tied to his neck with a rope, and some women were gathered not far from him-said to me, "Young man!" "Yes," I said. He said: "Will you take hold of this rope and lead me by it to these women, so that I can entrust them with a needful matter of business? Then you can bring me back to do as you all please with me." I said, "By God, what you have asked me is a small thing." I took hold of his rope and led him by it until I had brought him to stand near them. He said, Farewell, Hubayshah, as life runs out!"

After the condemned man met his sweetheart, he recited a poem for her and the woman replied, "And you-may you be made to live ten and seven years uninterrupted and eight right after them!"

Then the Jihadist took him away and cut off his head. The distraught woman ran to her beheaded lover, threw herself down on him and she kept kissing him until she died beside him.

Terror Seventy-seven

Second Raid on B. Hawazin or the Battle of Hunayn by Muhammad - January, 630CE

B. Hawazin were a large group of north Arabian tribes who were bitterly opposed to the Quraysh. This hostility was due to the trade rivalry between Mecca and Taif.

The place where this battle took place was a valley, called Hunayn and was about three days march from Mecca. This battle is mentioned in the Qur'an in verse 9:25-26

Muhammad stayed in Mecca for a fortnight after conquering it; sending his troops around Mecca to remove the last vestiges of polytheism and to force the non-Quraysh people, living in the vicinity of Mecca to Islam. He did this religious persecution with ease, as most of the polytheists could not anticipate such a sudden ferocious attack on them, and were completely unprepared for this atrocity. The Hawazin and the Thaqf tribes were particularly disturbed and enraged by the destruction of pagan idols in Mecca and within its vicinity. They decided not to let this inhuman torment and barbarity of Muhammad's army go unchallenged

It is reported that when Malik b. Awf from B. Nasri (a branch of Hawazin tribe), a tribal leader of thirty, heard of the conquest of Mecca by Muhammad, he gathered a force, consisting of B. Thaqif, B. Nasr and B. Jusham and other minor tribes residing in the locality. Excepting a few minor sub-clans from the Hawazin, all other tribes inhabiting the area joined in this battle to resist the aggression of Muhammad. Towards the last few days during his stay, Muhammad received information that the Hawazin and Thaqif groups of tribes had marched out against Mecca and had already assembled at Hunayn to confront him.

The Hawazin tribe, with twenty thousand men, under the leadership of Malik b. Awf marched against Muhammad with their women, children and cattle, meaning that this was a fight to death. As soon as Muhammad received the news of mobilisation of B. Hawazin and Thaqif, he sent Abd Allah b. Abi Hadrad al-Aslami to spy on them and collect information on their plan. This Muslim spy infiltrated the Hawazin and Thaqif people and brought the news that they had decided to fight Muhammad. It is reported by Tabari that when the Muslim spy, Abd Allah b. Abi Hadrad brought the information of the B. Hawazin, Umar b. Khattab did not believe him and called the Muslim spy a liar. On this accusation, the Muslim spy revealed the secret that Umar had, on some occasions, called Muhammad a liar too. This is what Abd Allah said, "O, Umar, if you accuse me of lying, then many a time you have denied the truth. You have accused the one who is better than me [i.e, the Prophet] of lying."

Tabari further reports that the Hawazin and the other Meccan tribes considered Muhammad an apostate of his time because he parted from the religion of the Quraysh.

Malik had vowed that either he will win against the apostate (i.e., Muhammad) or he would commit suicide. Malik's people readily agreed with him, i.e., to win or to die.

Having secured the unqualified support from his people, Malik gave order to his people that when they saw their enemy they would attack them as one body, thus maintaining the solid unity among his people.

Then the spies of Malik went out to gather information on the movement of Muhammad's army. An apocryphal account says that they saw the white men (angels?) on black and white horses they were blinded and returned quickly.

After Muhammad heard from the Muslim spy the news of B. Hawazin and their confederates, he decided to march to face his new enemy. Since, he, at that time had very little money, he approached Safwan b. Umayyah (Safwan was under suspended death sentence by Muhammad-see Terror 72, CH.16), an arms manufacturer, who was still a polytheist, to lend the Muslims the weapons necessary for the war. Safwan readily accepted Muhammad's arms deal and supplied (on loan) and transported all the weapons the Muslims required for their battle.

Having procured the arms from an infidel, Muhammad now marched with ten thousand (10,000) of his Medinaan followers along with two thousand (2,000) of his new converts of Mecca, i.e., altogether twelve thousand (12,000) Muslim Jihadists against B. Hawazin and B.Thaqif. This was the second raid on B. Hawazin by the Muslims (for the first raid, see Terror 54, CH.14). He kept Attab b. Asid, a recent convert to Islam in charge of Mecca to look after the men left in Mecca. Foremost in the minds of these Muslim fighters was the exquisite booty that they could have from the B. Hawazin and their confederates. Here is a Hadith from Sunaan Abu Dawud about how Muhammad motivated his fighters with booty. This is a lengthy Hadith; I have quoted only the relevant part):

Book 14, Number 2495:

Narrated Sahl ibn al-Hanzaliyyah:

On the day of Hunayn we travelled with the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) and we journeyed for a long time until the evening came. I attended the prayer along with the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him).

A horseman came and said: Apostle of Allah, I went before you and climbed a certain mountain where saw Hawazin all together with their women, cattle, and sheep, having gathered at Hunayn.

The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) smiled and said: That will be the booty of the Muslims tomorrow if Allah wills. He then asked: Who will be on guard tonight? ----..

Muhammad arrived at Hunayn in the evening or at night and encamped there. Ibn Ishak writes that while at a halt on their journey the Muslims asked Muhammad to make a tree for them to hang their swords, per the Meccan tradition whereby they would hang their swords and sacrifice their animals in such a tree. He compared this request by his followers to that of the request to Moses to make a heifer for worship during Moses' exodus across the Red sea. Allah revealed verse 7:138 in this connection. In the very early morning, before sunrise, (Muhammad's usual time to conduct terror raids) he rode Duldul (his white mule) towards the rear of the forces. In front was B. Sulaym, led by Khalid b Walid.

When the Muslims approached the valley of Hunayn and were passing through its canyon, the Hawazins, in the darkness of the dawn, suddenly attacked them like one man. The Muslims were extremely frightened and took to flight. It was each for himself as they fled. No Jihadist cared for another Jihadist. The defeat was so severe that no one even listened to Muhammad when he cried out to the fleeing Jihadists to return to fight. He said, "Where are you, O men? Come to me! I am the Messenger of God! I am Muhammad the son of Abd Allah!" But all his desperate calls fell into deaf ears.

Except for a few core group of Jihadists, all the Muslim fighters ran away from the battlefield. Those who remained with Muhammad were some Muhajirs, a few Ansars and the nearest of his family members like: Abu Bakr, Umar, Ali, al-Abbas and his son al-Fadl, Abu Sufyan and Usamah b. Zayd b. Haritha.

When the stampede of the Muslims became quite uncontrollable, Abu Sufyan b. Harb remarked, "Their stampede will not stop until they reach the ocean!" Abu Sufyan was about to use some kind of sorcery but his half-brother Safwan b. Umayyah b.Khalaf said that sorcery was useless on that day. Safwan was still a polytheist at that time of grace period Muhammad gave him (see Terror 72, CH.16) to convert to Islam. But Abu Sufyan b. Harb was very panicky as he preferred to be ruled by a man from the Quraysh than by the Hawazin. A rumour also spread that Muhammad had been killed, creating more panic and terror among the Muslims.

However, soon the message went out that the attempt to kill Muhammad during this panicky stage of the battle was thwarted by divine intervention-it is claimed.

During this time, Muhammad met a pregnant woman, Umm Sulaym bt Milhan the wife of Abu Talhah. She advised Muhammad to kill those Jihdists who flee the battlefield just in the same manner as Muhammad kills his enemy combatants. But Muhammad was not very enthusiastic over this and said that Allah was enough for him. On that day she and her husband had come fully armed to kill as many polytheists as they could and to take their booty. Her husband, Abu Talhah, took the spoils of twenty men he had killed himself.

When Muhammad found that his call for Jihad was in vain, he summoned his uncle al-Abbas (who had a very thunderous voice), to cry out very loudly for the Muslims to return and resume fighting. Al-Abbas did the same, and, at last, one-hundred Muslims gathered around Muhammad. They started to fight the enemy with new vigour and Muhammad watched the fighting standing on his stirrup.

While this was going on, Ali b. Abi Talib attacked from behind a leading man from Hawazin, who was fighting fiercely with his lance. Ali hamstrung this man's camel. The Muslims jumped over him and cut off his foot and half of his shank. This brave Hawazin man still kept on fighting and finally died.

When the battle became very intense, Muhammad got down from his mule, Duldul, picked up some pebbles from the ground, threw them towards the enemy (remember Badr II?) and started reciting verses from Sura Ha-Mim (Sura 41); the enemy started retreating-so it is claimed. Then a black striped garment descended from the sky; it was a mass of black ants! Those were the angels descended from heaven to help the Muslims, Muhammad exhorted. The truth is that the colony of black ants was a probably a dark cloud in the sky, as Ibn Sa'd writes that it rained on the day of Hunayn. With the help of those angels disguised as black ants, the Muslims finally defeated the B. Hawazin-Muslim historians assert. Some even claim that the angels wore red turbans on the day of Hunayn!

After the defeat of the B. Hawazin, there was widespread killing of them; seventy of them were slaughtered where their banner fell. Ibn Ishak writes that the fierce general, Khalid b. Walid, killed some women and children of the polytheists. Muhammad reprimanded Khalid for resorting to such act.

Malik tried his best but could not rescue the women and children. So he ran away. The women and children fell in the hands of Muhammad, including their property, camp and flock. Six thousand prisoners were taken. Ibn Ishak writes that a handcuffed man was beheaded for offending the Muslims. The Jihadist soldiers then engaged in stripping of the armours, coats of mail, and personal valuables from the corpses of enemy soldiers that they had killed with their own hands. One Jihadist bought his first real estate from the proceeds of such booty. Here is a Hadith from Malik's Muwatta to confirm this:

Book 21, Number 21.10.19:

Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab that al-Qasim ibn Muhammad said that he had heard a man asking ibn Abbas about booty. Ibn Abbas said, "Horses are part of the booty and personal effects are as well."

Then the man repeated his question, and Ibn Abbas repeated his answer. Then the man said, "What are the spoils which He, the Blessed, the Exalted, mentioned in His Book?" He kept on asking until Ibn Abbas was on the verge of being annoyed, then Ibn Abbas said, "Do you know who this man is like? Ibn Sabigh, who was beaten by Umar ibn al-Khattab because he was notorious for asking foolish questions."

Yahya said that Malik was asked whether someone who killed one of the enemy could keep the man's effects without the permission of the Imam. He said, "No one can do that without the permission of the Imam. Only the Imam can make ijtihad. I have not heard that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, ever said, 'Whoever kills someone can have his effects,' on any other day than the day of Hunayn."

The loss on the Muslim side was minimal; some say the loss was quite heavy-two tribes were completely annihilated for whom Muhammad offered special prayer.

Muhammad lost his maid servant, Umm Ayman in this battle.

The remaining polytheists, along with their leader Malik, fled to Taif. Some went to Nakhla, still some went to Awtas. The Awtas group then took shelter in their camp. Later, they were eventually defeated in a severe fight.

Muhammad's army followed those who fled to Nakhla but returned after a short chase. While pursuing them, the Muslim soldiers caught Durayd b. Simmah, the old man who did not fight at all in the battle. He was riding a camel litter hiding there as a woman. When Durayd asked the young Jihadist, Rabiah b. Rufay, what he intended to do with an old man like him, Rabiah said that he wanted to kill him. When Rabiah struck his sword on Durayd it did not kill him. Durayd laughed at the poor mastery of weapon by the young Jihadist. He gave his own sword to Rabiah and instructed him how to perform a slaughter. Then Durayd told Rabiah that after killing him he should go back to his mother (Rabiah) and inform her about the slaying; for he (Durayd) had previously saved many of their women.

After slaying Durayd, Rabiah returned to his mother and told her about what he had done. His mother said, "By God, he set free three mothers of yours."

That was how Muhammad's fanatic Jihadists treated enemy's old men men during war. In fact, we read in an authentic Hadith that in a Jihad, it is permissible to kill old infidel men, sparing their children. Read the following Hadith:

Sunaan Abu Dawud: Book 14, Number 2664:

Narrated Samurah ibn Jundub:

The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: Kill the old men who are polytheists, but spare their children.

[Note: Sharia law (Islamic law) permits unrestrained killing of old infidel men in a Jihad. I have quoted the relevant Sharia rule on this in a previous episode (see rule o9.10, p.603, Reliance of the Traveller)]

However, in another Sahi Hadith we learn that during a night raid, Muhammad permitted the killing of the children of infidel. Here is a Hadith from Sahih Muslim on this matter:

Book 019, Number 4322:

It is narrated by Sa'b b. Jaththama that he said (to the Holy Prophet): Messenger of Allah, we kill the children of the polytheists during the night raids. He said: They are from them.

As told before, having suffered the defeat at Hunayn, Malik b. Awf fled with many of his compatriots. One B. Hawazin men, Bijad was one of them. Muhammad's intense irk fell on him as he claimed that Bijad had previously dismembered a Muslim's body and then burnt it. Muhammad gave directive that anyone who caught Bijad should not let him escape.

The Muslims hunted down Bijad along with his sister, Shayma bt. al-Harith, while they were trying to flee. The Muslims caught them, bound them like cattle, manhandled them in their captivity, and then brought them to Muhammad. It turned out that Shayma bt. al-Harith was the foster sister of Muhammad (i.e., Shyama was the daughter of Halima, Muhmmad's milk mother) but the Muslims did not believe her claim.

When she was brought to Muhammad, he wanted proof that she was indeed his foster sister. So Shayma showed Muhammad the bite on her back that Muhammad did when she carried him on her hip. This convinced Muhammad and he offered her the choice between living with him or to return to her people. She preferred the latter choice. Muhammad gave her a slave-man called Mukhul and a slave-girl. After she left Muhammad, she had these two slaves marry. Another version of this story says that Shayma embraced Islam and Muhammad gave her three slaves. It is not known what happened to Bijad.

The victory at Hunayn brought more captives and booty than the Muslims had ever seen before. The spoil was huge: twenty-two thousand (22,000) camels, forty thousand (40,000) goats and four thousand (4,000) ounces of silver. The Muslims seized all of them. This booty (worth around US$ 9 million), along with six thousand (6,000) captives (worth around US$ 12 million), mainly women and children were transported under Muslim protection to the valley of Jirana and stored in a warehouse there. The Muslims were overwhelmed with greed; they celebrated their victory and waited for the distribution of the booty. However, Muhammad commanded his men to march to the city of Taif to capture Malik. The booty had to wait till the mission to capture Malik was accomplished-Muhammad ordered.

The Thaqif who escaped from the battle of Hunayn returned to Taif and shut themselves up inside their formidable fortresses. They were well versed in modern warfare and took preparation for a long-drawn war. To meet them, Muhammad sent Urwah b. Masud and Ghaylan b. Salamah to Jurash to learn the techniques of warfare with the use of catapult and Testudo-a sort of primitive tank made from wood. These two Muslims were not present either at Hunayn or at Taif because of their duty to acquire modern warfare techniques.

Continued in Chapter 18 >>>

(Introduction - 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20)

Abul Kasem is an Bengali ex-Muslim and academic. He has contributed in Leaving Islam - Apostates Speak Out and Beyond Jihad - Critical Voices from Inside and Why We Left Islam.. He has also written extensively on Islam in various websites and is the author of five e-Books: A Complete Guide to Allah, Root of Terrorism ala Islamic Style, Sex and Sexuality in Islam, Who Authored the Quran? and Women in Islam. Mr. Kasem leaves in Sydney, Australia. He can be contacted at