Because of the ridicule and the growing hostility, Muhammad left Mecca and went to Ta-if. Finding no success or converts in Ta-if, he decided to return to Mecca where he found that the hostility to his message had grown even more. The merchants, in particular, were deeply concerned lest the financial base of the city be destroyed by his attack on the worship of the idols that were placed at the Kabah. Muhammad once again left Mecca and this time moved to Medina where his preaching was received. While at Medina, Muhammad realised that his family and tribe would not give up their worship of idols unless they were forced by physical violence to do so. He began to test his own power in making war by first sending out six followers who attacked a caravan, killed a man, enslaved others, and looted the caravan. This event is known as the Nakhla Raid. All of this took place during the Arab's traditional month of truce and peace! Muhammad received massive criticism for violating a time of truce observed by the entire community in order to loot the caravan. Now that the taste of looting and bloodshed was in the mouths of his disciples, Muhammad led the second battle himself. He and his followers won the battle of Badr. This great success led to more followers who wanted to follow a victorious leader.
It was at this time that Muhammad decided that the Jews were not going to convert. The Muslim scholar Ali Dashti comments: 'After the Nakhla raid, further attacks on Qorayshite caravans and unfriendly tribes met with success and helped to make the financial position of the Moslems more secure. This raiding opened the way for the acquisition of power by the Prophet Mohammed and his companions and for their eventual domination of all Arabia; but the immediate step which secured the economic base and strengthened the prestige of the Moslems was their seizure of the property of the Jews of Yathreb.' Muhammad had at first tried to encourage the Jews to accept his prophet-hood by preaching monotheism, observing the Jewish Sabbath, praying toward Jerusalem, appealing to Abraham and the patriarchs, adopting some of their dietary laws, and praising their Scriptures. But when it was obvious that the Jewish merchants were not going to become his disciples Muhammad decided to drop the observance of Jewish rites. He changed the direction of prayer from Jerusalem to Mecca, dropped the Saturday Sabbath and adopted the pagan Friday Sabbath instead! He once again adopted the pagan religious rites in which his family had raised him. But this was not all. He began a deliberate concerted campaign against the Jews. At first he sent out assassins to kill individual Jews and then later on he attacked Jewish settlements. There was a financial reason as well as a religious one for his attacks on the Jews. Some of the Jewish settlements were centres of the gold and silver trade; by conquering such places, great wealth could be obtained quickly. The Encyclopaedia Britannica points out: 'When he discovered their military incompetence he appears to have been unable to resist the temptation to appropriate their goods; and his attack on the flourishing Jewish settlement of Khaibar appears to have been designed to satisfy his discontented adherents by an accession of plunder.
The Meccans had finally decided that Muhammad was a serious threat and approached his band with a large army headed by Uhud. Muhammad lost this battle although he had predicted victory. He was struck in the mouth by a sword, lost several teeth, and almost died. It was a terrible defeat for him and his followers. Some of his followers fell away as a result of this incident. They felt they had been deceived because they had gone forth in battle expecting a glorious victory and much plunder, but had to retreat in defeat with their leader and so-called prophet severely wounded. Why the Meccans did not follow through and destroy Muhammad and his forces is not known, but after inflicting sufficient casualties to appease the sense of Arab vengeance the Meccans returned to their towns and left Muhammad in peace. Muhammad then turned his attention once again to the Jews, who were easier targets than the Meccans. He began killing the Jews and looting Jewish settlements. After one Jewish town had surrendered, 700 to 1,000 men were beheaded in one day while all the women and children were sold into slavery and the possessions of the town looted! This fact is supported by Muslim scholars as well as by Western historians. Muhammad then turned his attention again to Mecca. His forces had grown sufficiently so that he now had a large army in the field. A treaty was established with the authorities of Mecca in which peace between Muhammad and Mecca was to last for ten years. On the basis of the promise of peace, Muhammad and his followers would be allowed to make the pilgrimage to the Kabah and Mecca and Muhammad would be free to seek to persuade people by moral persuasion and preaching to adopt Islam, but not by force. Within a year, Muhammad broke the treaty and with an army of thousands of followers, forced Mecca to surrender. Muhammad then became the undisputed political leader of Mecca as well as its undisputed religious head. He cleansed the temple at Kabah of all its idols. He suppressed all idol worship by violence. Some of the people he had killed were ones with whom he had a personal vendetta! For example, there was a woman poetess who had ridiculed him and had pointed out that some of the material in the Quran had actually been stolen from her poet father. She was put to death in order to silence her. Muhammad had now achieved unbelievable success. As the undisputed head and potentate of Mecca and of its religious centre, Arab tribesmen began to flock to him from all sides.
In his personal life, Muhammad had two great weaknesses. The first was greed. By looting caravans and Jewish settlements he had amassed fabulous wealth for himself, his family, and his tribe. His next greatest weakness was women. Although in the Quran he would limit his followers to having four wives, he himself took more than four wives and concubines. Joseph Smith the Mormon 'prophet' followed this example to the letter! The question of the number of women with whom Muhammad was sexually involved either as wives, concubines, or devotees was made a point of contention by the Jews in Muhammad's day. Ali Dashti comments: 'All the commentaries agree that verse 57 of Sura 4 (on-Nesa) was sent down after the Jews criticised Mohammad's appetite for women, alleging that he had nothing to do except to take wives.' Since polygamy was practised in the Old Testament by such patriarchs as Abraham, the mere fact that Muhammad had more than one wife is not sufficient in and of itself to discount his claim to prophet-hood. But this does negate the fact that the issue has historical interest in terms of trying to understand Muhammad as a man. It also poses a logical problem for Muslims. Because the Quran in Sura 4:3 forbids the taking of more than four wives, to have taken any more would have been sinful for Muhammad! Muslim apologists use circular reasoning to try and escape the inescapable and 'argue': Muhammad was sinless. The Quran makes taking more than four wives a sin. Therefore Muhammad could not have taken more than four wives. Why? Because Muhammad was sinless.' I hear a thousand Homer Simpson's shouting 'Doh!'
Obviously, the question of how many wives Muhammad or anyone else had should be answered on the basis of the historical and literary evidence and not blind faith. Muslim scholar and statesman Ali Dashti gives the following list of the women in Muhammad's life:
6. Zaynab (of Jahsh)
8. Omm Habiba
10. Maymuna (of Hareth)
13. Asthma (of Saba)
14. Zaynab (of Khozayma)
16. Asthma (of Noman)
17. Mary (the Christian)
19. Omm Sharik
21. Zaynab (a third one)
The first 16 women were wives, numbers 17 and 18 were slaves or concubines. The last four women were neither wives or slaves but devout Muslim women who 'gave' themselves to satisfy Muhammad's sexual desires. Zaynab of Jahsh was originally Muhammad's adopted son s wife. The fact that Muhammad took her for himself has been problematic to many people, Muslims included. Aesha was only eight or nine years old when Muhammad took her to his bed. This facet of Muhammad's sexual appetite is particularly distressing to Westerners. While in Islamic countries an eight- or nine-year old girl can be given in marriage to an adult male, in the West most people would shudder to think of an eight- or nine-year-old girl being given in marriage to anyone. This aspect of Muhammad's personal life is something that many scholars pass over once again because they do not want to hurt the feelings of Muslims. Yet history cannot be rewritten to avoid confronting the facts that Muhammad had unnatural desires for little girls. Finally, Mary, the Coptic Christian, refused to marry Muhammad because she would not renounce Christianity and embrace Islam. She bravely chose to remain a slave rather than convert. The documentation for all the women in Muhammad's harem is so vast and has been presented so many times by able scholars that only those who use circular reasoning can object to it.
Does Professor Casey consider this 'prophet' and his 'religion' to be an example worthy of imitation, or does he join in the general disapproval voiced by British people who are strong in their condemnation of such behaviour in our contemporary society?
I challenge Casey to disprove these facts and await his reply.