A new book reveals how the Islamic prophet's war on the Jews spawned the birth of jihad.
Frontpage Interview's guest today is David Hayden, the author of the new book, Muhammad and the Birth of Islamic Supremacism: The War With the Jews 622-628 A.D.
FP: David Hayden, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Let’s begin with what motivated you to write this book.
Hayden: I've always had a keen interest in history, but my knowledge of Muslim history was quite deficient until the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and the failed attack on the White House on Sept. 11, 2001. I wanted to understand the ideas and motivations of the attackers. Powerful ideas had to support such a brazen attack on civilian populations. All of the suicide attackers were Muslims. What was it in their belief system that persuaded them that such heinous acts were the moral thing to do? To answer such questions I began a search to learn everything I could about Islam. I read well over 100 books about Islam including 14 biographies of Muhammad, the Qur'an, numerous hadith (especially Bukhari, Muslim, and Dawud), several tafsir (commentaries on the Qur'an), Muslim and non-Muslim historians and commentators, and countless articles from both print and online sources.
FP: So what did you learn and what is your book primarily about?
Hayden: The research led me to focus on Allah's revelations and Muhammad as the messenger and enforcer of those revelations. Without both the revelations and the messenger the idea of Islamic supremacism would not exist. A detailed study of the Qur'an, hadith (collected sayings and actions of Muhammad, and sira (early biographies of Muhamad) led me to this conclusion. I focused on Muhammad's contentious relationship with the Jews of Medina and the Hejaz region of Arabia because this relationship brings into focus the birth of the idea of Islamic supremacism.
FP: What is different about your book from other books on the subject?
Hayden: I have not encountered another source which has covered Muhammad's war with the Jews with the same thorough depth and breadth as I have. The book is filled with the voices of Allah, Muhammad and his companions, commentators on the Qur'an, poets, warrior/jihadists, Muslim and non-Muslim historians and commentators. A variety of points of view are presented throughout the book as well as my interpretation of these differing views.
FP: Tell us about your research. What are some of the sources you drew most heavily from?
Hayden: As stated above, I relied heavily on the Qur'an, the hadith (especially Bukhari, Muslim, and Dawud; the three most respected collectors of the hadith); and the biographies of Muhammad (especially Ibn Ishaq, Martin Lings, Muhammad Husayn Haykal, al-Mubarakpuri, Ibn Sa'd, Maulana Muhammad Ali, Maxime Rodinson, W. Montgomery Watt, Robert Spencer, Karen Armstrong, Sir John Glubb, M.J. Kister, and Gordon Darnell Newby).
FP: Crystallize for us the foundations of Islam.
Hayden: Islam's foundations begin with Allah's revelations to his messenger. According to Orthodox Islam the Qur'an has always existed and can never be changed. Islamic law, the Sharia, has to conform with the Qur'an and the Sunna (the hadith and sira, both of which must conform to the Qur'an). Support for the idea of Islamic supremacism can be found in all three of these documents. Pious Muslims involved in violent jihad base their beliefs and behavior on these documents.
FP: Share with us how you recovered the historical truth of Mohammad's war on the Jews and how it marked his rise to power.
Hayden: I tried to find the historical truth of Muhammad's war with the Jews through persistent research of the sources. In each of the major points of contention during the 622-628 years, Allah through revelations and Muhammad through his words and actions tend to place the blame on the hypocrites, poets, pagans and infidels in general, but the Jews primarily received the brunt of Muslim attacks on its enemies.
Jewish poets, Asma Marwan, Abu Afak, and Ka'b Ibn al-Ashraf, criticized Muhammad for causing the battle of Badr by his failed attempt to raid a wealth-laden caravan returning from Syria; Muhammad had them assassinated. The Jewish Banu Qaynuqa tribe was accused of treachery and mockery of Muhammad; he had them exiled and their wealth confiscated after they surrendered. The Jewish Banu Nadir tribe was accused of plotting to kill Muhammad (with flimsy evidence); Muhammad commanded them to leave "his country." They refused but surrendered after their castles were besieged by the Muslims. They, too, were exiled and their wealth confiscated. The Jewish Banu Qurayza tribe tried to remain neutral during the Battle of the Ditch between the Muslims and the Meccan-Jewish-Ghatafan confederation, but reluctantly agreed to help due to the persistent urging of a Banu Nadir leader. But the sources show no evidence that they actually aided those who were trying to defeat the Muslims. After a Muslim victory, Muhammad had the adult males of the Qurayza Jews beheaded and their women and children enslaved, plus all of their land and wealth were confiscated.
A year later, Muhammad attacked the Jewish settlements at Khaybar, defeated them, confiscated their land and wealth, and effectively began the system of dhimmitude with the Jews who remained to work the land for the new owners. In each of these episodes, the Jews were always the "treacherous" ones according to the Muslims who told the story. At no time, however, did a Jewish tribe attack the Muslims; the reverse was true in every case. Some Jews were reportedly involved in helping defeat Muhammad, but no evidence could be found that a Jewish tribe, as a collective group, ever attacked the Muslims.
The pattern goes like this: the treacherous Jews are accused of some misdeed which has little factual support; the Jews are given a chance to accept Allah and his messenger; the Jews refuse and are attacked by the Muslims who further accuse the Jews of starting a war; after several weeks of trying to defend their property and lives the Jews surrender; the Muslims either exile the surviving tribe, or in the case of the Qurayza Jews, behead the males and enslave the women and children and confiscate all their land and wealth.
In every case the Muslims view the Jews as the aggressors and Muhammad and his companions as victims of such aggression.
Supporting this Muslim point of view is the Qur'an. Numerous verses are sharply critical of the Jews, including Allah's talk of terrorizing them himself and leading the charge in battle such as at Badr. Muhammad had to be quite smug knowing that Allah supported his efforts to take on the Jews. Likewise, the hadith and sira provide evidence for the aggressive behavior of Muhammad in each of these cases. Islamic supremacism for the sake of Allah permeates the early Islamic literature. A belief in this supremacy undergirds Muhammad's rise to power.
FP: So, what motivated the jihadists for the 9-11 attack?
Hayden: The 9-11 jihadists believe in the idea of Islamic supremacism. They are quite serious and sincere about their faith. In their hearts and minds, they believe they are truly following in the footsteps of Muhammad, the perfect man, who simply carried out the commands of Allah through revelation.
Today's jihadists consistently refer to the Qur'an, hadith, sira, commentaries on the Qur'an (tafsir), the shari'a (Islamic law) and the military success of the first 1000 years of Islamic history to support the idea that Islam will eventually triumph over the infidel. They believe in the long view of history. September 11, 1683, is a pivotal date in Islamic history. Osama bin Laden referred to it soon after the attacks on America on 9-11. On September 11, 1683, Ottoman Muslim forces were repulsed from taking over Vienna, Austria. The attack on the World Trade Center was a Muslim jihadist way of saying, "We're back." To repeat: today's jihadists are motivated because of Allah's revelations and his messenger's words and actions.
FP: Why does our mainstream media and higher literary culture never speak a word on the things your book talks about? What are the consequences of this denial and ignorance in our culture?
Hayden: Both the mainstream media and higher literary culture in the United States seem to have a penchant for believing Islam is a religion of peace. While it is probably true that a good percentage of Muslims in America are law-abiding and peaceful, my research has led me to understand that the Qur'an, hadith, sira, tafsir, and 1400 years of Islamic history can be interpreted to support the idea of Islamic supremacism and violent jihad as core Islamic beliefs.
So why do the mainstream media and literary elites tend to ignore this interpretation and focus on the peaceful side of Islam? Fear is one explanation. The jihadists' use of terror against the West has succeeded in silencing many in the media who might otherwise try to report the truth honestly. Journalists, professors, and politicians tend to bend over backwards not to criticize the basic tenets of Islam which present the religion in a bad light. Some of Allah's revelations reveal the Muslim belief in the divine use of terror. After the Muslim victory over the Quraysh (Meccans) at the Battle of Badr, Allah revealed this verse:
"When the Lord inspired the angels [saying to them], 'I am with you; so make those who believe stand firm. I will throw FEAR into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Then [you angels] smite their necks and smite of them each finger'" (Qur'an 8: 12).
In another verse dealing with a battle against the Qaynuqa Jews of Medina, Allah said: "So if you gain the mastery over them in war, punish them severely in order to disperse [create terror in] those who are behind them, so that they may learn a lesson" (Qur'an 8: 57).
Allah also revealed how he cast terror into the hearts of the Qurayza Jews:
"And those of the Book who aided them--Allah did take them down from their strongholds and cast terror into their hearts, (so that) some ye slew, and some ye made prisoners" (Qur'an 33: 27).
As terror worked against the Jews in the 7th century, so has it worked with our mainstream media, politicians, and cultural elites.
Some liberals and progressives tend to not have fear of Islamic terror; they actually support the goals of jihad. In an exchange with an editor of a progressive book publishing company, I was told that the thesis of my book was "strange." He went on to make this revealing statement:
"We now believe that all cultures in spite of their differences have 'human dignity.' There is no war of Muslims against Jews now. What we have is the last gasps of a dying Euro/America which seems determined to kill as many people of the world as it can while it still has any breath remaining. The era of Euro/American hegemony is passing but it is not going out peacefully. There is no rationale for our current wars other than pure viciousness. Jews are Europeans. That's what makes them enemies."
He says America/Israel are the causes of the world's problems; Islamic jihadists are simply fighting to make social justice a reality. The left's romance with social justice makes them bedfellows with the jihadists. Both of them are totalitarian, against free market capitalism, and anti-liberty in their stated goals. It is easy to understand why "they never speak a word" about the contents of my book. But eventually, they too may well be in the crosshairs of the supremacists.
Our culture cannot afford to remain ignorant of Islamic supremacism. The jihadists have declared America enemy #1 for Islam. Knowledge precedes understanding.
FP: What are your main conclusions and what is your advice and warning for the West and its leaders?
Hayden: My research of Muhammad's relationship with the Jews of the Hejaz has convinced me that modern-day jihadists have a better understanding of Muhammad than do those who see his schtick as a man of peace. Muslim supremacists do, however, believe in peace, but they say true peace will not reign until after Islam has become supreme and Allah's law, the sharia, is accepted all over the world. In the meantime, jihadists have the green light to create violent mayhem both in the lands of the disbelievers and against the disbelievers in Islamic lands. They use terror or a tactic to intimidate the infidel; that includes all non-Muslims and those in the Islamic fold they consider to be heretics. This presents an existential problem for peaceful Muslims. As perceived enemies of Islam and Muhammad, they too are in the crosshairs of the jihadists who recognize them as apostates from the true faith. Our political and military leaders, plus the wonks who implement U.S. foreign policy, need to drop all the political correctness and take an Islamo-Realist approach. In order to do that, they have to understand the nature of Islam starting with the birth of Islamic supremacism which began with Allah's revelations and Muhammad's role as messenger/enforcer of them.
FP: David Hayden, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.
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