Sunday, March 22, 2009

Asghar Ali Engineer, Omar, Ali, Hussein and Yazid - 4


(Islam and Modern Age, March 09)

Husain stood for Islam and Islamic values and Yazid for power


Asghar Ali Engineer

But after death of the Prophet (PBUH) there was no great moral authority to influence people and since there was no formal state structure, it became necessary to evolve a formal state structure. Since there was no available model among Arabs, much had to be copied from Persian and Roman state structures. [Asghar Ali Engineer].

It is unfortunate that these wars for power were often called ‘jihad’ and not only meaning of jihad which originally means struggle for truth was corrupted to mean war in the way of Allah. These wars were anything but war in the way of Allah. Qur’anic doctrine nowhere requires war with sword to spread Islam. So all conquests that took place had nothing to do with religion and were anything but jihad. In fact the series of conquests begin with the 2nd Caliph Umar and Sassanid and parts of Roman Empire were conquered. Unfortunately we do not find much on reasons for these conquests in early sources. It was certainly not for spread of Islam or spread of truth. [Asghar Ali Engineer].


Dear Editor,

I wonder if Mr Asgher Ali Engineer has even read the Volumes number 2, 3, and 4 of Tabari [he relied on Tabari to condemn Muawiyah and Yazeed] wherein a complete State Structure is given which was left by Prophet Mohammad [PBUH], Mr Asgher Ali should also have tried first two volumes of Tabaqat-e-Ibn-e-Sa'ad, and should also have read Ibn Khaldun's Volume [Rasool and Khulafa-e-Rasool] before passing the comment that;


But after death of the Prophet (PBUH) there was no great moral authority to influence people and since there was no formal state structure, it became necessary to evolve a formal state structure. Since there was no available model among Arabs, much had to be copied from Persian and Roman state structures.


Some of the important facts that need to be kept in mind while passing any judgments about the expidition of Persia (often termed forced conversion) [by the Companions] and killing and expelling the Jews of the Banu Qurayzah and other tribes from Arabia:

The Prophet Mohammad [PBUH] was the last messenger of Allah. With his status as a Rasul, the Prophet Mohammad [PBUH] was in a position to do Itmamu'l-Hujjah [Final Argument] even as an individual. No one after him has that privilege. No individual can do Itmamu'l-Hujjah now because no individual can claim that his propagation has manifested the truth to the extent that no excuse is left to deny it. Indeed, an individual cannot even be absolutely certain of having understood the truth absolutely correctly. He can only be certain that God will reward him for doing his duty as he has 'been given the light to see it'. Only the Prophet Mohammad [PBUH]'s word are final in religion. After the Prophet [PBUH], the responsibility of bearing witness to the truth of Islam was passed on to his Companions [May Allah be pleased with them], who were declared Ummah Wasat (the intermediate people) and the shuhada 'ala'l-Nas (witnesses over people).

The Qur'an says:

And strive for Allah with the endeavour which is His right. He hath chosen you and hath not laid upon you in religion any hardship; the faith of your father Abraham (is yours). He hath named you Muslims of old time and in this (Scripture), that the messenger may be a witness against you, and that ye may be witnesses against mankind. So establish worship, pay the poor-due, and hold fast to Allah. He is your Protecting friend. A blessed Patron and a blessed Helper! [AL-HAJJ (THE PILGRIMAGE) Chapter 22 - Verse 78]

Thus We have appointed you a middle nation, that ye may be witnesses against mankind, and that the messenger may be a witness against you. [AL-BAQARA (THE COW) Chapter 2 Verse 143]

Killing and Expelling the Jews of the Banu Qurayzah:

1- After the Prophet’s migration to Medinah, the Banu Qurayzah, with the other Jewish tribes of the locality, became a party to the Medinah declaration, according to which, these Jewish tribes and the Muslim state of Medinah were to act as alliances against any foreign attacks. According to this declaration, the Jews were allowed complete religious freedom and were granted protection of life and wealth as long as they honored the declaration;

2- Previously, the Banu Qurayzah were given a lesser status than the other Jewish tribe – the Banu Nadheer – which is evident from the fact that the blood money that they were granted, if any of their tribesman was killed by Banu Nadheer was half that of what was granted to Banu Nadheer. The Prophet (pbuh) corrected this injustice and granted the Banu Qurayzah the same political status as that of Banu Nadheer. (Abu Dawood, Kitaab al-Diyyaat, Baab al-Nafs bi al-Nafs, Hadith No. 3896)

3- The Jewish tribes did not honor their part of the Medinah declaration and on the instigation of the Qureish broke the agreement. At this the Banu Nadheer were sent into exile; while the Banu Qurayzah asked forgiveness and requested a renewal of the agreement, to which the Prophet (pbuh) agreed and allowed them another chance (Muslim, Kitaab al-Jihaad wa al-Siyar, Baab Ijlaa al-Yahood min al-Hijaaz, Hadith No. 3312)

4- Even after all this, the Banu Qurayzah joined the alliance that was gathered by the Qureish against the Muslims.

It was in this background that immediately after the confrontation with the confederates (Ahzaab), the Prophet (pbuh) decided to take the Banu Qurayzah to task. Even then, had the Banu Qurayzah sought forgiveness for their betrayal, the Prophet (pbuh) may have given them respite, as he did so in the past. Nevertheless, the Banu Qurayzah had decided to fight the Muslims. This was evident from the fact that when Ali (ra) reached their fort, they openly abused the Prophet (pbuh).

The Muslims kept the forts of Banu Qurayzah under siege for about one month. Ultimately, the Banu Qurayzah requested the arbitration of Sa`d Ibn Mu`aaz (ra) – one of the leaders of the tribe of Aws – a traditional ally of the Banu Qurayzah

and promised that they would accept whatever Sa`d ibn Mu`aaz decides for them. Later on, Sa`d decided that all those among the Banu Qurayzah, who could fight be killed, while all their women and children be taken as slaves and all their wealth and property be confiscated and distributed among the Muslims. Subsequently, the sentence pronounced by Sa`d was implemented by the Muslims.

It should be clear from the facts given above that in the light of their behavior preceding the judgment the Banu Qurayzah deserved a very strict punishment. Furthermore, it is also clear that the punishment was not decided by the Prophet (pbuh), but was actually decided by a person, who was appointed as arbitrator, by the Banu Qurayzah, themselves.

However, one may still be of the opinion that the Prophet (pbuh) should have softened the punishment, even if it was pronounced by an arbitrator, who was appointed by the Banu Qurayzah themselves. On the contrary, the Prophet (pbuh) not only upheld and implemented the decision pronounced by the arbitrator, but also commended it as: ‘in accordance with God’s law’.

To fully understand why the Prophet (pbuh) did not soften or alter the sentence pronounced by Sa`d ibn Mu`aaz, we should keep in mind that Banu Qurayzah were actually Jews, who were subject to the laws of the

Deuteronomy 20: 10 – 14 says:

When you draw near to a town to fight against it, offer it terms of peace. If it accepts your terms of peace and surrenders to you, then all the people in it shall serve you at forced labor. If it does not submit to you peacefully, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it; and when the LORD your God gives it into your hand, you shall put all its males to the sword. You may, however, take as your booty the women, the children, livestock, and everything else in the town, all its spoil. You may enjoy the spoil of your enemies, which the LORD your God has given you.

It was in accordance with this law that Moses (pbuh) ordered the killing of all the men of Midian and taking all their women and children as captives.

Numbers 31: 7 – 11 read as:

They did battle against Midian, as the LORD had commanded Moses, and killed every male… The Israelites took the women of Midian and their little ones captive; and they took all their cattle, their flocks, and all their goods as booty. All their towns where they had settled, and all their encampments, they burned, but they took all the spoil and all the booty, both people and animals.

Obviously, on reciprocal basis, the Israelites themselves were subject to the same divine law. Thus, Sa`d Ibn Mu`aaz pronounced his judgment according to this law, upon which, the Prophet (pbuh) declared that his decision was 'in accordance with God's law'. Furthermore, because of this particular nature and basis of the judgment, the Prophet (pbuh) neither had the right nor the authority to alter it.

Because Sa`d ibn Mu`aaz’s decision was in accordance with the directives of the Torah, which the Jews accepted to be divine and were, therefore, subject to, the Prophet (pbuh) did not alter the decision. It was, in fact, because of this background of the judgment that when Hayee ibn Akhtab – one of the Jewish leaders – was brought to the place where he was to be killed, he looked at the Prophet (pbuh) and said:

By God, I have no regrets in opposing you, but the fact is that whoever tries to deceive God is Himself, ultimately, deceived.

Then he turned toward his people and said:

People, there is no harm in the implementation of God’s laws. This was a directive of God, it was decided, it is a punishment, which God had prescribed for the Israelites.

Thus, the Banu Qurayzah were, in fact, slaughtered by the sword of the Torah – the book, which they, themselves, held to be divine.


This response is primarily based on Shibli Naumani’s “Seerat al-Nabiy”. [History is used as per the criteria used by Asghar Ali Engineer]

The Prophet Mohammad [PBUH] sent Ali Ibn Abi Talib [May Allah be pleased with him] with his flag to the Banu Qurayzah and people started moving toward them. When Ali [May Allah be pleased with him] came close to their forts, he heard them say despicable things about the Prophet [May Allah be pleased with him].

According to Ibn Katheer’s Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihaayah [History is used as per the criteria used by Asghar Ali Engineer to curse not only Yazeed and Muwaiyah but indirectly Hazrat Omar], the Banu Qurayzah were misguided by some of their allies that if the Prophet (pbuh) were to decide their fate, he would kill them all.

Life of the Prophet [Seeratul Alnabwiya by Ibn-e-Hisham Volume 4 Page 201][History is used as per the criteria used by Asghar Ali Engineer]

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