Issue 66 [@1:11:52]: Robert Spencer – Director, JihadWatch.org – “Islam from its beginnings was both a religion and a system of government. For example, the Islamic calendar doesn’t base year one from the time that Muhammad was born or the time when Muhammad received his first revelation from God which I think are both what Westerners might expect. But from the time that Muhammad became the leader of an army and head of state in Medina. This is the beginning of the Islamic calendar because in Islamic understanding Islam is a political and social system as well as an individual faith.
Rebuttal 66: It is a totally meritless comment by Robert Spencer when he tries to create unfounded doubts in the audience by questioning the start of Hijri Calendar. If we take his line of argument, then will it be equally fair to state that – “ the Christian calendar doesn’t base year one from the time that Jesus was crucified or the time when Jesus was raised from the ‘dead’ which I think are both what non-Westerners might expect,” but instead starts from birth of Jesus i.e. Anno Domini (A.D.)?
Spencer side stepped the main crux of Islamic history. He falsely equates Islamic calendar to – “the time that Muhammad became the leader of an army and head of state in Medina.” What the readers need to know based upon facts of history is that Islamic calendar is more correctly called Hijra or Hijri Calendar. Hijra means migration which according to online Dictionary.com is defined as:
“the flight of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina to escape persecution a.d. 622: regarded as the beginning of the Muslim Era.”
Hijri calendar was adopted seven years after the death of Prophet Muhammad during the fourth year of reign of Caliph Umar, details of which could be read on Wikipedia.
Spencer is maliciously wrong when he states Islamic calendar started – “from the time that Muhammad became the leader of an army and head of state in Medina.” The facts are exactly opposite of what Spencer is misquoting. The year of Hijra was the lowest point of Islam, when it had no temporal power. The preceding thirteen years of incessant persecution of professors of one God reached to such a low ebb that the last of the Muslims in Makkah, namely Muhammad, Abu Bakr and Ali had to escape to Medina, if nothing else, to survive. Two previous emigrations of other Muslims to Ethiopia had proven insufficient for a nascent Muslim community to exist in their home town. The first two escaped in the night. Muhammad slipped out of his home in the darkness while his house was surrounded by a band of killers drawn from all the tribes of Makkah who were under oath to kill him simultaneously. Both, Muhammad and Abu-Bakr, to thwart the hunt by their pursuers initially escaped southward while Medina was towards north of Makkah. They hid in a cave for three nights, before they traveled north by a circuitous route to Medina. For what fault of theirs, were they to be killed? Can any figure in world history match Muhammad’s honesty and integrity, while he himself close to be murdered, instructed Ali to return people’s property that was in his safe keeping, before the latter too emigrates to Medina the next day? Can this documentary answer these simple questions?
The persecution did not end with emigration of Muslims to Medina. Thereafter, within a span of five years they were attacked three times by armed to the teeth Makkan armies with full support of neighboring tribes of Medina and the complicity of Jewish tribes within Medina. First time in 2nd year of emigration they had to defend themselves at Badr in which there were 1000 Makkans against 313 Medinites at a distance of 60 miles from Medina and 120 mile from Makkah. Second time in the 3rd year of migration, 3 miles from Medina, 700 Medinites faced 3000 Makkans. For the third time in the 5th year, while within Medina, 2000 Medinites faced more than 10,000 Makkans and their allies. Never were Makkans able to prevail over Medina.
Spencer is again wrong when he states “Muhammad became the leader of an army.” Never did Medina have a standing army during the life of Prophet Muhammad when the city was constantly under threat from Makkans. Medina defenses were only managed by the scramble of a rag-tag voluntary but self-sacrificing Muslims under Prophet Muhammad, a group whose sole basis of self-defense was their Quranic injunction:
4:75. And what reason have you not to fight in the way of Allah, and of the weak among the men and the women and the children,who say: Our Lord, take us out of this town, whose people are oppressors, and grant us from Yourself a friend, and grant us from Yourself a helper!
Never will Robert Spencer and his coattail followers ask the fundamental question as to what was that thing that made the Muslims bear inhuman torture at the hands of the Makkans for thirteen straight years after proclamation of prophethood by Muhammad, while they lived amongst their midst and then for another 8 years after their fleeing to Medina? What was that infallible truth for which the Muslims were willing to forgo their own lives, families, property and chose indignation and deprivation instead? Did Muhammad promise them any power or riches? Did any Muslim hurt any non-Muslim with a word of mouth or even a scratch of a skin while they themselves unflinchingly bore inhuman sufferings in Makkah? Why did they not spit on face of the Prophet or sell him for a few silver coins to get themselves out of their torments at the hands of their persecutors, while they had the example of the companions of Jesus before them?
The answer to above questions can be found within the words of Spencer himself – “because in Islamic understanding Islam is a political and social system as well as an individual faith.” Right from its inception, without any political, military or economic force behind him, Prophet Muhammad was able to invoke dignity and equality of man amongst his followers, who contrary to the prevailing norms were able to give freedom to women, rights to orphans, emancipation to slaves and charity to poor, while their own personal lives were filled with piety and humility and their examples are till this day a model of virtue for the humanity and shall remain so for centuries to come.
Even though the project at hand is a rebuttal to the misleading attacks and false allegation against Quran, Islam, Muhammad and history, the current opening given by Spencer provides and an opportunity to lay open as to what Islam stands for. Following is the online booklet by Muhammad Ali – “Islam – The Religion of Humanity” – (pub. 1928, rev. 1980, 1985, with Foreword by Lord Headley):
Foreword to the Original Edition
Significance of name.
New meaning introduced into religion.
2. Some Distinctive Features of Islam
Belief in all prophets.
Perfection of religion.
Unity of mankind.
An historical religion.
3. The Fundamental Principles of Islam
4. The Divine Being
Conception of God in Islam.
Existence of God.
Example of Holy Quran.
Unity of God.
5. Divine Revelation
Belief in prophets.
Perfection of revelation.
Continuance of lower forms.
6. Life after Death
is continuation of present life.
image of spiritual state in this life.
7. Significance of Belief
Belief in angels.
Belief as basis for action.
8. Principles of Action
9. Man’s Duties towards God
Meaningful acts of worship.
10. Man’s Duties to Man
Brotherhood of Islam.
Rights of women.
Illustrations of Islamic rule.
Zakat and Charity.
11. Scope of Moral Teachings