In order to determine whether the petition has any legs to stand on, we will go through the petition, and analyze the evidence it has presented
According to the petition, there are two main themes to the Quran.
1. How to treat and deal with the non believers
2. How the followers of the religion should become a militant brotherhood (ummah) on the basis of uniform beliefs and behaviour
As mentioned in the previous article, the various verses of Quran were revealed as and when there was a need to the Prophet, or when the situation presented itself in a manner where divine intervention was required. However, the petition presents these revelations in a systematic manner:
Command to preach Islam publicly: The religion started as a secret society and practiced inside houses in Makkah, before the followers reached a certain number. After this a verse was revealed commanding the Prophet to preach it openly
Satan’s revelation: When the Prophet faced resistance and backlash from the pagans, he felt forlorn. They started to boycott him and his gatherings. This campaign of theirs gained momentum specially since the 3 sacred Goddesses were declared ‘false’ and ‘filthy’. It is then that a verse was revealed permitting the Prophet to proclaim that the Goddesses Al Lat, Al Manat and Al Uzza could intercede in the favor of Allah (53:21-23). After it served its purpose, it was revealed through Angel Gabriel that Satan had interceded and corrupted the verse 21, and Allah replaced and it was revealed that Satan had succeeded in mixing his own “untruth” with Allah’s “truth”.
Revelations against Jews: The Quranic verses which was revealed while the Prophet was in Makkah were mostly borrowed from Jewish scripture. When the followers and their leader decided to go to Madina, which had a sizable Jewish population, it was seen that the Jewish had nothing but scorn and mirth for the Prophet. Seeing that he was in danger of getting discredited even in the eyes of his own followers as well as the Arab Pagans who were his target market, Allah revealed a large number of verses (2.1- 100; 3.111-12, 118-20) pronouncing Abraham as the first Muslim. So far Muslims had prayed facing the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Allah changed the qiblah from Jerusalem to Kaba at Mecca (2.142-45, 149-50). Muslims were now commanded to fight the Jews, subjugate them (9.29) and harass them in every way.
Formation of Ummah: After settling down in Madina, the first Ummah was founded which included the Makkah Muslims (Muhajirun) and Madina (Ansars), and also had the Jews of Madina. An agreement called Hudaibia was formed against the Makkah Pagans. However, since the Jews showed clearly what they thought of the Prophet, the agreement soon broke. Following this, Allah sent down “revelations” to form a Muslim Ummah (2.143; 3.110) which had inherited dominion over the whole earth from the earlier scriptuaries (7.128) – the Jews and the Christians. From the on, Muslims were the Chosen People (10.13-14) entrusted with the mission of spreading the “only true faith”.
Fighting by sword (Jihad bil Saif): When the Prophet was still hoping to form alliance with the Jews so they could fight against Makkah people together, verses (22.39-41) came permitting to fight in self-defence, and promising help. But no attacks came from Makka so that the Prophet was left free to break his alliance with the Jews and form his own Muslim Ummah. Allah converted the permission into a command soon after (2.216; 4.76-77, 84, 8.39, 66- 66). During this time, the caravans were looted, lands usurped and orchards overtaken to increase the financial strength of the Ummah. War against the Pagans now became obligatory on all Muslims. Avoiding Jihad became a great sin and violation of the covenant with Allah (2.218; 3.156; 4.74, 77, 95; 9.24, 38-39, 81.84). Becoming a martyr (Shahid) became the highest merit for every Muslim (2.154; 3.157, 169-70,195, 198; 22.58; 33.16-17). It is significant that all these “revelations” about Jihad bil Saif were received by him after his migration to Medina.
Bloodshed in the Sacred Months justified: After a few of the expedition to bring money failed, finally, the one sent to Nakhla was successful. However, it took place in the sacred month of Rajab , which is when a man from Medina by the expedition head. This was a serious violation of the ancient Arab tradition that no blood was to be shed in the four Sacred Months, of which Rajab was the last. This incident met with disapproval even from the followers, but then Allah confirmed his prophet’s reasoning for war in sacred months, in a “revelation” (2.217). The plunder was distributed among the Muslims and their murmurs silenced.
Division of plunder: The large amounts gathered from Battle of Bad as war booty was deposited with the Prophet, who was searching for a way to clam his own share out of it. Allah sent a “revelation” (8.1,41) which established the Islamic institution of Khams, “the sacred one-fifth”. In times to come, as the Islamic empire expanded over large areas, Khams became the principal source of revenue for every Islamic state.
Expulsion of Banu Qaynuqa Jews from Medina: Madina was the home to rich Jew tribes, but because they had strong relations with the Pagans of Makkah, it was decided to tread carefully and test the alliance by one tribe, Banu Qaynuqa. The Jewish tribe was starved into surrender after the Arabs did nothing practical to help them. They did stop their mass murder and the expelling the Banu Qaynuqa from Medina took place. He had also to allow them to take away whatever movable properties they could. The compromise was approved by Allah (3.12-13, 19-20).
Defeat at Uhud: An army of the Quraish pagans from Makkah defeated the Muslims at Uhud near Medina, killed some of their stalwarts like Hamza, and even wounded the Prophet himself. The Pagans and the Jews in Medina started making fun of them and Allah sent down the appropriate “revelations” (93.139-57, 164-72) to justify the situation.
Cutting of date-palms and instituting Fai: The Jewish tribe of Banu Nazir was accused of partnering with Pagan Arabs who had killed members of a proselytizing party. The date palms around the settlement of Bank Nazir were cut and their roots burned by the Muslims when they refused to leave Madina. As the Prophet was in the habit of quoting Moses often, the Jews appealed to him in the name of Moses who had forbidden cutting of Palm trees. But 59.2-5 were revealed telling the Jews that the law of Moses had been violated in obedience to a specific order from Allah repudiating the disobedient ones (59.2-5). Banu Nazir had to surrender and accept banishment from Medina, and had to leave their properties. Since this was a plunder obtained without a fight, according to 59.6 – 8, such a plunder belonged solely to Allah and his Prophet. The institution of Fai was thus established, and it made many Islamic leaders very rich.
(This is the 5th article from an ongoing series of articles on The Calcutta Quran Petition. The series will continue)
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