A Critical Exposition of the Popular 'Jihád'/Introduction/15
[Sidenote: Mr. Green quoted.]
15. The Rev. Samuel Green writes:—
- "It has been insinuated that Mahomet first took up arms in his own defence, and by more than one historian he has been justified in seeking to repel or prevent the hostilities of his enemies, and to exact a reasonable measure of retaliation. 'The choice of an independent people,' says Gibbon, 'had exalted the fugitive of Mecca to the rank of a sovereign, and he was invested with the just prerogative of forming alliances, and of waging offensive or defensive war." That such a sentiment was entertained by a Mahometan does not at all surprise us, nor is it marvellous that it should be justified by an infidel; if it be true, war needs nothing to render laudable but the pretext of former injuries and the possession of power. The defence set up for Mahomet is equally availing for every sanguinary and revengeful tyrant; and men, instead of being bound together by the ties of clemency and mutual forgiveness of injuries, are transformed into fiends, watching for the opportunity of destroying each other."
There was no pretence of former injuries on the part of the Moslems to make war on the Koreish. They were actually attacked by the Koreish and were several times threatened with inroads by them and their allies. So it was not until they were attacked by the enemy that they took up arms in their own defence, and sought to repel and prevent hostilities of their enemies. The defence set up for Mohammad is not equally availing of every sanguinary and revengeful tyrant. It was not only that Mohammad was wronged or attacked, but all the Moslems suffered injuries and outrages at Mecca, and when expelled therefrom, they were attacked upon, were not allowed to return to their homes, and to perform the pilgrimage there. The social and religious liberty, a natural right of every individual and nation, was denied them. A cruel or revengeful tyrant may not be justified in taking up arms in his own defence, or in seeking to redress his personal wrongs and private injuries; but the whole Moslem community at Mecca was outraged, persecuted and expelled,—and the entire Mohammadan commonwealth at Medina was attacked, injured and wronged,—their natural rights and privileges were disregarded—after such miseries the Moslems took up arms to protect themselves from the hostilities of their enemies and to repel force by force; and were justified by every law and justice.
The right of self-defence is a part of the law of nature, and it is the indispensable duty of civil society to protect its members. Even if a sanguinary and revengeful tyrant were to do so in his own behalf, he would be quite justified in this particular act. A just war, that is one undertaken for just causes to repel or revert wrongful force, or to establish a right, cannot be impeached on any ground, religious, moral, or political. But the Moslems had tried every possible means of obtaining a pacific solution of the difficulty which had arisen between them and their enemies, the Koreish and the Jews, to avert war and its horrors. Mohammad had repeatedly informed the Koreish that if they desist they will be forgiven.
- 88. "But if they desist, then verily God is gracious, merciful."
- 189. "But if they desist, then let there be no hostility, save against wrong-doers."—Sura II.
- 19. "O Meccans!" if ye desired a decision, now hath the decision come to you. It will be better for you to give over the struggle. If ye return to it, we will return; and your forces, though they be many, shall by no means avail you aught, because God is with the faithful."
- 39. "Say to the infidels: If they desist what is now past shall be forgiven them; but if they turn to it, they have already before them the doom of the former."—Sura VIII.
And the same was the case regarding the Jews.
- 104. "Many of those who have Scripture would like to bring you back to unbelief after you have believed, out of selfish envy, even after the truth hath been shown to them. Forgive them then, and shun them till God shall come with his decree. Truly God hath power over all things."—Sura II.
- 63. "But if they lean to peace, lean thou also to it; and put thy trust in God. He verily is the hearing, the knowing."—Sura VIII.
- 16. ... "Thou wilt not cease to discover the treacherous ones among them, except a few of them. But forgive them and pass it over. Verily God loveth those who act generously."—Sura V.
But there could be no peace or mutual agreement on the part of the enemy until the truce of Hodeibia, which was also violated by them in a short time.
Even in the wars which were waged for self-preservation, the Prophet had very much mitigated the evils which are necessarily inflicted in the progress of wars. Fraud, perfidy, cruelty, killing women, children and aged persons were forbidden by Mohammad; and a kind treatment of the prisoners of war enjoined. But foremost of these all—slavery, and domestication of concubinary slaves, the concomitant evils of war—were abolished by him, ordering at the same time that prisoners of war should be either liberated gratis or ransomed. Neither they were to be enslaved nor killed. (Vide Sura XLVII, verses 4 and 5; and Appendix B of this work.) Attacking offensively was forbidden by the Koran (II, 186 "La Taatadú", i.e. 'Do not attack first'). Mohammad had taken oaths from the Moslems to refrain from plundering (vide page 58 of this book).
- "All hostilities and plundering excursions between neighbouring tribes that had become Musalman he forbade on pain of death; and this among those who had hitherto lived by plunder or by war, and who he knew might be deterred by such prohibition from joining him. 'Let us make one more expedition against the Temim,' said a tribe that was almost, but not altogether, persuaded to embrace the faith, 'and then we will become Musalmans.'"
- "In avenging my injuries," said he (Mohammad), "molest not the harmless votaries of domestic seclusion; spare the weakness of the softer sex, the infant at the breast, and those who in the course of nature are hastening from this scene of mortality. Abstain from demolishing the dwellings of the unresisting inhabitants; destroy not their means of subsistence, respect their fruit trees, and touch not the palm, so useful to the Syrians for its shade, and delightful for its verdure."
- "The Bani Bakr," writes Sir W. Muir, "meanwhile, foreseeing from the practice of the Prophet that, under the new faith, their mutual enmities would be stifled, resolved upon a last passage of arms with their foes. The battle of Shaitain fought at the close of 630 A.D. was a bloody and fatal one to the Bani Tamím."
- "Decline and Fall, Chap. 1."
- The Life of Mahomet, founder of the religion of Islamism and of the Empire of the Saracens, by the Rev. Samuel Green, page 126: London, 1877.
- Mohammad's instruction to Abdal-Rahman was—"In no case shalt thou use deceit or perfidy, nor shalt thou kill any child."—Muir, Vol. IV, p. 11.
- 'Quoted by Dr. Cazenove,' "Christian Remembrancer," January, 1855, page 71, from Caussin de Perceval. Mohammed & Mohammedanism. By R. Bosworth Smith, Second Edn., pp. 257 & 258. London, 1876.
- An History of Mohammedanism; comprising the Life and Character of the Arabian Prophet; by Charles Mills, page 27. London 1818.
- The Life of Mahomet, Vol. I, Intro., p. ccxxvii. London, 1861.