The next several articles I will post on this blog will be taken directly from the website "Political Islam," and will be the text from their "Thirteen Talks on Political Islam" (see the clickable link at the bottom of this article).
Note that this is about Islam, not Muslims. Muslims are people; Islam is a doctrine and an ideology.
If you know Mohammed, then you know Islam. If you do not know Mohammed, you do not know Islam. Every Muslim's life goal is to imitate Mohammed in every detail. Mohammed led a fascinating life-he was a business man, prophet, politician and warrior. His greatest invention was a political system that can make all others submit.
We're going to study Mohammed before we study the basics of Islam. This is because Mohammed is the origin of Islam and he comes before everything. There was no Islam before Mohammed and he called himself the last of the prophets. In a sense, Islam both begins with Mohammed and ends with Mohammed. The importance of studying Mohammed is found in the Koran itself. Over 30 times the Koran says that every human being is supposed to do everything in their life patterned after Mohammed. Then it turns around and says over 40 times that if you don't do everything like Mohammed did it, you will go to hell. Everything has to be done the way Mohammed did. Mohammed is the perfect pattern of life for all peoples for all time.
We know an enormous amount about the man Mohammed. His biography, the Sira, is over 800 pages long and it is in fine print. Then, as if that were not enough, we have what are called the Traditions of Mohammed, also called the hadith, we have thousands upon thousands of these traditions. We know a lot about this man. As a matter of fact, we probably know more about the personal details of Mohammed's life than we do, for instance, about George Washington.
The importance of Mohammed can be found in the religion of Islam. Most kafirs (kafir is what the Koran calls a non-Muslim) think that you become a Muslim by worshiping the God Allah, but this is not true. You can worship the God Allah and still not be a Muslim. What it takes to be a Muslim is to worship Allah exactly like Mohammed did, and we know exactly how he worshiped his God. A further importance of Mohammed can be found in this: there is not enough in the Koran to enable you to practice the religion of Islam.
There are Five Pillars of Islam which we will study in the next lesson, but there is not enough information in the Koran to practice even one of the Five Pillars. You cannot worship in an Islamic way without imitating Mohammed. Mohammed's way of doing things is so important that it has a very special name: The Sunna. Sunna means The Way.
It is in Mohammed that we find right and wrong, except right and wrong as we think of it in a moral sense is not used within Islam. Instead, the concept is: "What is permitted" and "What is forbidden." What is permitted is what Mohammed did. What is forbidden is what he said not to do, or he himself didn't do, so the Sunna of Mohammed is what dictates Islam. Again, this is the reason we have to study Mohammed.
One of the ways that you can tell how much someone knows about Islam is if they mention Mohammed or not. Sometimes you run into people who want to explain Islam on the basis of the Koran. When this happens, you can be sure you have run into a person who does not really understand Islam. Again, the Koran is not even remotely enough to truly explain Islam. Mohammed defines all the ethics and customs of Islam.
Let's take a very small item. Have you ever been watching a news broadcast and there's some Islamic leader from the Middle East and he's talking and he's angry; perhaps he's shouting. Why do they do this? One simple reason: Mohammed was easily angered. This is recorded in both the Sira and the Hadith, so when you see a Muslim who is quick to anger, he is simply imitating Mohammed.
Mohammed was the perfect father, the perfect husband, religious leader, military leader, and political leader. There is no aspect of life, including business, where a Muslim does not turn to the example of Mohammed. He is the perfect Muslim. There is not a Muslim alive who does not know the life of Mohammed. What is odd is that there are so few kafirs who know anything about the life of Mohammed. When you study Mohammed, it is rather confusing, because he seems to be two very different people.
Let's quickly review his life. He was an orphan as a child and later became a businessman. He went on caravan trading trips to Syria. He was prosperous and well thought of in his community. He was seen as a person who could settle arguments and heal disputes. He was a very religious man, and then, in his 40s, he began to go on religious retreats, leaving the city of Mecca and praying by himself. Then he started to hear a voice, and he saw a vision. Now, this was a voice that no one else ever heard, and a vision that no one else ever saw, but it was very important to Mohammed and it completely changed his life and, indeed, his entire character.
After seeing this vision and hearing the voice, he went back to Mecca and began to tell people--first, his friends and family--that he had been chosen as the messenger of the only God of the Universe. Later this God was named and was called Allah. Mohammed began to introduce two principles that were to change him and to change the entire world forever.
The first of these principles was submission. Mohammed said that the God of the universe told him to tell everyone else that they were to do exactly what he said when he said it---that their lives were to be patterned after him, that he was the perfect man, the perfect pattern. This created dissension within Mecca, because amongst the other things he told the Meccans, was that their ancestors were burning in hell. He then created, at the same time, a second principle called duality. He created a great division between those who believed what he said and those who did not. This was the great division of the Koran---humanity was divided into the believer and nonbeliever, the Muslim and the kafir.
Mohammed was very aggressive in pushing his message. So much so that he irritated the Meccans. He was not very successful as a consequence, and over the next 13 years, in spite of his daily preaching, he failed to gain many followers. He was argumentative and caused trouble, but the Meccans couldn't do anything about him, because he was protected by his uncle who had some power within Mecca. Then, his protector died, and the Meccans told Mohammed, "You'll have to leave. We're sick and tired of living with you. You've created dissension and distress and suffering within our community." So Mohammed went north 100 miles to a town called Medina.
Everything changed, because Mohammed became a politician and a warrior. He did not succeed by numbers when he was a preacher, but now he became overwhelmingly successful because he created a new concept, the concept of jihad. Jihad totally changed Mohammed and totally changed Islam. Now, through jihad, Islam had a way to get money and lots of it. It had a way to bring about political power.
Here we have the second element of duality that Mohammed introduced. There are two Mohammeds. There is the religious preacher Mohammed, and there is the warrior politician Mohammed. Duality is one of the things that is confusing about Islam. It always has two messages to preach, and the reason it has two messages to preach is that there are two Mohammeds. More than that, when you read the Koran it's clear there are two Korans---one Koran which is religious, the other Koran which is political. Mohammed the religious man was not much of a success at all, but Mohammed the political man and the warrior was overwhelmingly successful. In the last nine years of his life he averaged an event of violence every six weeks, for nine straight years. By this process of constant warfare, he became the first ruler of all of Arabia.
Let's look a little more at Mohammed, because he explains everything we see inside of Islam. If there is ever anything that puzzles you about Islam, all you need to do is to look to Mohammed, because if Muslims do it, Mohammed did it.
One of the things we see is that Mohammed did not get along well with his neighbors. Even in his religious phase, he was pushy and aggressive. Remember, the Meccans didn't like him. They said, "You've created more suffering in this community than we've ever had before." Before he became a Muslim, Mohammed was a good neighbor. After he became the messenger of Allah, he became an aggressive neighbor. When he went to Medina, his behavior became even worse.
As an example--when he moved to Medina, half the town was Jewish. Within three years after he arrived, all the Jews had been either driven out of Medina---after their money was taken---or they'd been killed and sold into slavery. But after Mohammed had conquered all of Medina, being a hostile neighbor had a new meaning. If you lived even 100 miles away, Mohammed would show up with his arms and troops and demand that you submit to Allah. Once he ruled all of Arabia, he was still a hostile neighbor. Before Mohammed died, he had struck out to the north to Syria to fight the Christians. His dying words were: "Let there be neither Jew nor Christian left in Arabia."
Mohammed was the most successful military man who ever lived. Let's take a look at this. As political leader he became all-powerful. We have other examples in history of men who became all-powerful and we can measure to some degree how powerful they were by how many people they caused to die. The person who in our known history killed the most people was Mao Tse-Tung. As far as we can tell, figures show that through starvation and persecution and outright executions, Mao Tse-Tung was responsible for the deaths of 77 million people.
Now we come to Mohammed. Mohammed has influenced the deaths through his principle of jihad and aggressive politics of 270 million people---now, this has taken over 1400 years; Mao killed 77 million within his own lifetime. But still, the total of those that Mao killed is fewer than those who were killed in imitation of Mohammed. When you think of a political leader, you may think of Napoleon; you may think of Alexander the Great or Caesar; and they were great generals, but they don't hold a candle to Mohammed, because no one today kills for Napoleon; no one today kills for Caesar; but today, as you're reading this, it is undoubtedly true that somewhere in the world people are being destroyed because of the perfect example of Mohammed.
Mohammed had a very dualistic personality. He had a sense of humor; he loved children. He wept when his favorite warrior was killed. But at the same time, he was a soft-spoken man who laughed heartily when the head of one of his enemies was thrown at his feet. He was the perfect slaveholder and slave trader. Mohammed was deeply involved in slavery. Indeed, one of the ways he financed jihad was through the sale of slaves. He got his slaves in the time-honored way of killing their protectors. He attacked a tribe, killed the male members until the rest surrendered, and then they were given a choice to convert. If they didn't, they were sold into slavery---women, children, and men. This was profitable, and indeed, jihad was profitable. He used jihad to finance more jihad. Mohammed came up with a way to make religion and politics pay and pay well.
Mohammed was a very intolerant man. This is interesting. Before Mohammed, Arabs were noted for their religious tolerance. Indeed, Mecca, the town where Mohammed first rose to power, had over 360 religions. No man was ever injured because of his religion, until Mohammed. Mohammed converted the Arab from being a tolerant person to the most intolerant person; and the reason that the Arab became intolerant was they followed the Sunna of Mohammed.
One of the conventions regarding Mohammed today is that no one can tell a joke about him. You hear jokes about Jesus, Noah, Adam, St. Peter, God...but you never hear a Mohammed joke. You may remember when a Danish cartoonist said, "Let's have a contest and see who can draw the best Mohammed cartoon." People died because of those cartoons, because Mohammed was made fun of. You can't make a joke about Mohammed, not even one. In fact, in Pakistan and other Muslim countries, to tell a joke about Mohammed is literally a death sentence.
There's one more thing about Mohammed which explains Muslims and Islam. He never forgot a slight or an insult...never. When he re-entered Mecca---this time triumphant after the jihad in Medina---the first thing he did---and here we have the essence of the man Mohammed---the first thing he did was to pray; the second thing he did was to have all religious art destroyed. So the religious objects of 360 religions in Mecca were destroyed. Mohammed helped to build the fire and break the objects. The next thing he did was to issue death warrants for five different people who'd criticized him. These were intellectuals, not warriors. For instance, two of the people who were killed were dancing girls. What had they done? They had been in a skit, with a song and a poem that ridiculed Mohammed. Mohammed never forgot an insult.
Mohammed is the most common name in the world even after 1400 years. He continues to be the most influential politician and warrior who ever lived. His life as the Messenger of Allah shapes ethics, morals, politics and culture of over a billion Muslims. His politics have annihilated half of ancient Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism. You need to know about the life of Mohammed.
The above is from the website Political Islam: Mohammed