Arab terror has a long history. Thirteen centuries ago Mohammed, Islam’s founder and prophet, capitalized on the intrinsic violence of the Arab psyche, and made it a part of Islam’s basic principles – Jihad or Holy War.
Jewish tribes living in the Arabian Peninsula for centuries before the rise of Islam and whose bravery and scholarship was legendary among the Arabs became Mohammed’s first teachers. As a young merchant from Mecca, Mohammed learned Judaism from fellow Jewish merchants on long caravan routes. Jewish teachers provided inspiration for Mohammed’s creed. Jewish prophets foretold his success among his people and prepared the ground for his prophecies. Jewish warriors helped him escape from his own tribe and other Arab enemies hostile to his teachings and protected him behind the walls of the Jewish city, Medina. This flight is celebrated in Muslim history as the historic “Hijra.” Yet, it was they, Mohammed’s Jewish friends, who became the first victims of his Jihad.
Mohammad captured three beautiful Jewish women and added them to his harem. One was Rihana of the Kuraiza tribe, the elite of the Jewish Arab clans. The second was Safia, widow of Kihana, the slain Jewish tribal chief of the powerful Khaibar clan. The third was Zainab, sister of another slain warrior of the same tribe.
Safia was Mohammad’s favorite, her name glorified in the Koran.
Zainab, a woman of great pride and fiery temper, refused to reconcile herself to being the wife of her people’s implacable foe and swore revenge. On one occasion when she was charged with serving Mohammad and several guests in his tent, Zainab surreptitiously poisoned the food. While most of the guests died, Mohammad survived but suffered from the effects of the poison for the rest of his life.
Zainab was summarily executed.
The surviving Jewish tribal leaders were too intimidated by Mohammad’s cruelty to stand up against him. It was the women, two talented Jewesses, celebrated poets in the Arab world, who changed the mood.
One was Sarah of Yathrib, who in a famous elegy mourning the massacre of her people, recounted how the leaders of her city trusted Mohammad’s promise of peace, and opened the city gates. Mohammad and his men rushed in and slaughtered the men, taking the wives and children as slaves.
The other was Asmaa Bat Marwan from the tribe of Banu Khatama, who wrote biting satire about Mohammad’s prophesies, scorning him for his perfidy and cowardice. Asmaa’s satires and narrative poems were battle cries to the Jewish tribes to defy “the prophet of an inferior creed.”
The poems of Sarah and Asmaa were rare fearless voices of dissent, aimed to inspire the fragmented Jewish community to unite and rise up against Mohammad and his rule of terror.
To be continuedProf. Livia Bitton-Jackson
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