The Banu Nadir
Muhammad evicted the second Jewish tribe, the Banu Nadir, less than a year after evicting the first. The circumstances under which this occurred are a strong testimony to the double-standards by which the early Muslims treated others (as laid out in the Quran: 48:29).
In 625, one of Muhammad’s soldiers murdered two men in their sleep who were from a tribe that had “an agreement of friendship” with him (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 650). It was decided that blood-money would be offered to satisfy this debt (although Muhammad held non-Muslims to the highest standards, he never put his own men to death for killing non-Muslims).
Rather than take care of this debt himself from the substantial wealth that he acquired from raiding Meccan caravans and confiscating Jewish property, Muhammad went to a Jewish tribe, the Banu Nadir, to request their contribution, even though the tribe had nothing to do with the murder (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 652).
Once he showed up with his men, Muhammad made his demands and then waited outside the wall of their house for the money. Later, he claimed that Allah spoke to him during this time and told him that the Jews were going to assassinate him by dropping a rock from the roof of the house onto his head:
Muhammad left, then returned with an army and laid siege to the entire community, forcing them to surrender without a fight.
As with the Qaynuqa (the Jewish tribe before them), the people were evicted with the clothes on their back and what they could pack on their camels. Another revelation from Allah (relayed through Muhammad, of course) allowed the prophet of Islam to personally confiscate all of the remaining property for himself (Bukhari 52:153).
For the skeptic, there are a couple of problems with Muhammad’s justification for evicting an entire tribe of people, even within the boundaries of the account. In the first place, it is suspicious that he demanded that another tribe pay for what his own men had done – and that he went personally to collect the money. Given what Allah supposedly knew, one wonders why Allah didn’t just save His “messenger” the trip.
As for Muhammad’s assertion that his god spoke in his ear, thus enabling him to confiscate the wealth of an entire community for his personal gain… well, let’s just say that it is curious at best.
Revelations of convenience were quite common in Muhammad’s life, providing him with wealth from Muslims and non-Muslims alike, along with eleven wives and unlimited sex with female slaves. He operated with the impunity of a cult leader.
But the largest problem is that Muhammad justified his attack on the Banu Nadir by saying that they had planned to assassinate him. By this standard, the Jews would have been acting entirely within their rights, given that the prophet of Islam had carried out several assassinations against their own community by that time!
A Banu Nadir Jew named Ka’b al-Ashraf was actually murdered on Muhammad’s order just a few months before the entire tribe was attacked. The excuse was that he had lamented the killing of the Meccans at the Battle of Badr and responded by composing crude poems about the Muslim women:
Muhammad gave the man permission to take any measures necessary to murder the poet, including lying. The assassin gathered a group of Muslims and tricked al-Ashraf to come out of his house, alone and unarmed, by pretending to be interested in obtaining a loan.
The murder took place in the dark and was a messy affair. al-Ashraf began screaming as he was being stabbed:
These two events demonstrate that the Muslims of Medina operated under a different standard than what they held to those around them. Muslims were allowed to kill others when they felt insulted or in danger, but others were not allowed to even defend themselves.
Muhammad was in a position to deny others the same sympathy and tolerance that he demanded for himself because of the control that he managed to establishe within his first two years of arriving in Medina. He used his newfound power to order assassinations and evictions, thus putting dissenters in fear.
Keep in mind that when Muhammad was in Mecca, he told the elders there that he would bring them “slaughter” (Tabari Vol 6, 102) and they subsequently evicted him. Yet, instead of recognizing their justification, Muhammad complained incessantly about his ignominious ouster and eventually returned with a conquering army. He also behaved with extreme hypocrisy toward those who spoke out against him, regardless of what sort of threat they actually posed.
For today’s Muslims, who prefer to believe that Muhammad was an unselfish man of perfect character, the fate of the Banu Nadir is but a minor inconvenience. It does not bother them that an entire tribe of Jews was evicted on the basis of a hypothetical assassination plot following the very real assassination of one of their leaders. Jews are not Muslims. Hence they are not entitled to be treated with the same respect.
Islam is the ultimate supremacist ideology.
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