Conservative Colloquium

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Muhammad Raided Meccan Caravans, Islam Spread Through Violence

Posted by Tony Listi on May 3, 2009

In my class on the history of the modern Middle East, we started the semester with a discussion about Islam and Muhammad. Our professor told us that Muhammad and the city of Medina acted in self-defense against the city of Mecca (623-630 AD).

Yet in the very textbook she assigned to us, it says the exact opposite:

Even as he was consolidating his position in Medina, Muhammad made plans to disrupt the caravan trade on which Mecca’s prosperity depended. Within a year of his arrival in Medina, he ordered the first of what would become an ongoing series of raids on Meccan caravans. The initial raid occurred during one of the sacred pilgrimage months, when, according to established custom, hostilities were to be suspended. This was disturbing to many of the Muslims of Medina who continued to respect existing traditions. However, a divine revelation sanctified warfare against unbelievers and designated all Muslims who engaged in spreading Islam through force of arms as deserving of special merit. [How convenient!]

In retaliation for Muhammad’s attacks on their caravans, the Meccans launched several campaigns against the Muslims in Medina, but each time, the outnumbered Muslim forces managed to hold their own and even to gain limited victories. Muhammad emerged during these encounters as an innovative military tactician, and his success in thwarting the Meccans enhanced his prestige among the neighboring tribes. Many swore their allegiance to him not because they fully understood or accepted the religious message of Islam but because association with Muhammad’s endeavor appeared to guarantee victory, and with victory came the spoils of war…. In 630, Muhammad led a force of 10,000 men to the outskirts of Mecca….

Thus, from the beginning, Muhammad advocated and practiced the spread of Islam by force and violence (623-630 AD). And let’s remember that he is the supreme example in Islam of how Muslims should behave and live their lives.

For further reading see Bukhari Vol. 4, Book 56, No. 3012; Ibn Ishaq, 287-288.

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11 Responses to “Muhammad Raided Meccan Caravans, Islam Spread Through Violence”

  1. Seher said

    Hello.

    I have a few questions if you don’t mind me asking:
    – The textbook you’re referring to, what was it called?
    – Which school was this being taught in?

    Thanks.

  2. foospro86 said

    I don’t mind at all.

    If you click on the hyperlink on “textbook” you’ll see exactly what book I’m citing. It was written by William L. Cleveland.

    I go to Texas A&M University. I very much doubt my professor agrees with the excerpt in this post, but she did select the book.

  3. James Doohan said

    The Bible is the guide on how Christians should lead their lives and is soaked to the core with violence.

  4. Don said

    True, like any other historical book, the Bible records acts of violence. The difference is, with Christianity, the religion’s founder isn’t the one committing the violence.

    • Nasera said

      If the scripture does not match with the action of the founder, then how come this is said to be authentic and to be followed by the believers?Did Christ actually constitute Christianity?

      • Tony Listi said

        Read the Bible! It’s a complex compilation of many writings by many authors over a span of thousands of years. The violence commanded by God against wicked peoplesj in the Old Testament was direct divine judgment on those peoples, not a spreading of the Jewish faith. There is no violence on the part of Christians in the New Testament. The only Christian violence to be found in the New Testament is in Revelation which speaks of the 2nd Coming of Jesus in all power and glory to establish His kingdom totally on earth.

  5. Chris said

    Good comeback Don ;o)

  6. Ariel said

    Mohammed advocated violence in order to usurp political power. Religion was merely an instrument which he used to fulfil his political ambitions.

  7. […] […]

  8. http://paulmarcelrene.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/the-jihad-were-all-in-this-together/

  9. Chameleon said

    Please study history and get your facts straight. Your professor is right, and the book is wrong. The first Muslims migrated to Medina from Mecca due to severe persecution of Muslims by the Meccans while they lived in Mecca. They continued to persecute those who remained behind. Moreover, the Meccans were the first to launch an attack on the Muslims in Medina. There was a war going on, and the Meccans were prosecuting it. If the Muslims attacked Meccan caravans in retaliation, please explain to me how this violates any normal standard of an appropriate military response. Should they have chosen a more non-Muslim “shock and awe” response instead? As I have already thoroughly debunked in your other post about the violent verses in the Quran, there is no such verse anywhere in the Quran to condone unilateral aggression against anyone, including Christians, Jews and even idolaters. There is also specifically a verse to prohibit fighting during certain sacred months, except when enemies don’t respect those months as sacred and continue fighting or start aggressions.

    As for the hackneyed “spreading of Islam by the sword argument”, please walk me through the process, step by step, of how this occurs, especially when compelling individuals to become Muslim is clearly forbidden in Islam (10:99-100 and 2:256). So someone holds a sword to your neck and says become a Muslim or die — OK, and then what? What happens one hour later, 24 hours later, one month later, 10 or 100 years later after “converting”? Is the sword at your necks and your family’s necks all this time so that you and your progeny are somehow doing all the practices of Islam out of compulsion, teaching your children Islam and continuing generation upon generation to be Muslims out of fear of a sword? The idea that any individual, let alone entire societies, could be sustainably converted to any religion out of fear is patently absurd. It was tried with utmost vigor during the Inquisitions, but failed miserably (incidentally, I consider the Inquisitions a human failure, not a failure attributable to Christianity, unlike those who attribute terrorism to Islam). The only argument that can be maintained is that a massive number of non-Muslims were killed because they didn’t convert, and that there were a lot of passive zombies left behind who could be reprogrammed to remain Muslims and teach their children Islam for generations to come. Unfortunately, this diverges from historical fact. As a case in point, please read a letter from the Prophet Muhammad to the Christian monks of Saint Catherine’s Monastery in Mount Sinai to get a small flavor for how he supposedly used the sword to make Christians “far and near” convert or suffer death in a rampage of his unquenchable hatred (and I promise you that you will read this letter at least twice):

    “This is a message written by Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, far and near. We are behind them. Verily, I defend them by myself, the servants, the helpers, and my followers, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be changed from their jobs, nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they (Christians) are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate. No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, this is not to take place without her own wish. She is not to be prevented from going to her church to pray. Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation is to disobey this covenant till the Day of Judgment and the end of the world.”

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