Important questions arise following the slaying last week of four expatriate French nationals in Saudi Arabia. They were murdered by machine gun-wielding terrorists while on a site-seeing tour with their families. The gunmen targeted the adult males, leaving the females and children unharmed, when they were camping in an area near the city of Medina. Non-Muslims are barred from entering the city of Medina and Mecca, the holiest cities in Islam.
It is thought that this breach or transgression may have been the motive for the attack. Home-grown Islamist radicals in the kingdom, declaring allegiance with al-Qaeda, have launched waves of terrorist attacks over the last few years often targeted at foreigners in their aim to drive the "infidel" Westerners not only out of Mecca and Medina but also from Saudi Arabia – the birthplace of Islam and its holy prophet.
Lying behind the holiness of the cities of Mecca and Medina and the entire Saudi Kingdom, for that matter, is a tragic tale of barbaric terrorism, which was orchestrated by the prophet of Islam 14 centuries ago. The latest murder of the French tourists is simply a continuation of that legacy.
The prophet of Islam started his mission of preaching a new religion in 610 AD in the city of Mecca, dominated by the idol-worshipping pagans. His messages were insulting to the religion and gods of Mecca people, abusive to their culture and tradition and degrading to their ancestors, which can be easily confirmed by reading the pages of the Koran. Muhammad preached his religion for 12 years and people of Mecca joined his creed freely, without ever facing violence or threat of injuries, except that a two-year-long social excommunication was imposed between 617-619. Muhammad made very little progress during 12 years of preaching in Mecca, which led the prophet to relocate, with about 50 Mecca followers, to Medina in 622, where his mission was achieving brisk success in making converts.
The Mecca pagans steadfastly refrained from joining his creed, naturally encouraged their fellow pagans not to join his mission and did not allow him access to their holy temple of Ka’ba on which Muhammad laid claim of belonging to his God, Allah. This was affirmed when the victorious Prophet yelled over the dead bodies of the Mecca pagans at the battle-field of Badr (624): “Have ye now found true that which your Lord did promise to you. What my Lord promised to me, that have I verily found to be true. Woe unto these people! Ye have rejected me, your Prophet! Ye cast me forth, and others gave me refuge; ye fought against me, and others came to my help!" [Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, trs. Guillaume, Karachi, p 305-6] The Koran also affirms the same: “but graver is it in the sight of Allah to prevent access to the path of Allah, to deny Him, to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque, and drive out its members. Tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter” [Q 2:217]
Shockingly, this simple rejection of Muhammad’s creed and sticking to idolatry by the Mecca pagans became tantamount to tumult and oppression, which in turn, was considered worse than slaughter by Allah and his apostle, defying all logic and reason. It did not end there. Muslims must take revenge for this so-called tumult and oppression by fighting and killing their kinsfolk of Mecca. To convince and force the hesitant believers, Allah sent down a revelation making fighting the infidels binding upon them, even if they didn’t like: "Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not". [Quran 2.216]
In Medina, where Muhammad became a refugee, the idolater tribes quickly assembled under the umbrella of Islam. The prophet sought to coax the wealthy and influential Jews (also probably some Christians) to his apostleship by affirming their scriptures (Torah & New Testament), sometimes erroneously, in his revelation (Q 5:65-66) and by adopting many of the Jewish customs and rituals such as fasting, circumcision and prohibiting pig meat etc. When the Jews and Christians did not accept his religion, the annoyed Allah parted with them: "And the Jews will not be pleased with you, nor the Christians until you follow their religion. Say: Surely Allah's guidance, that is the (true) guidance. And if you follow their desires after the knowledge that has come to you, you shall have no guardian from Allah, nor any helper" [Quran 2:120].
With these sanctions coming down from heaven, Muhammad got the licence to launch a campaign of terror against the pagans of Mecca and the Jews of Medina. In 624 he attacked the Jewish tribe of Banu Qaynuqa and the Banu Nadir two years later and sent them to exile. In 628, he attacked the last Jewish outpost of Banu Qurayzah and slaughtered their 600-900 grown-up males. The women and children were captured as slaves, the prettier women were kept as sex-slaves and the rest were sold overseas for horses and weapons. This was done with this sanction from Allah: “Some ye slew, and ye made captive some. And He caused you to inherit their land and their houses and their wealth, and land ye have not trodden” [Q 33:26-27]
On the other front, Muhammad started raiding the life-sustaining trade caravans from Mecca passing through the major routes nearby Medina in order to kill the oppressors of Mecca in revenge and to loot the caravans. This led to a number of blood-letting confrontations between 623 and 630. By 630, Muhammad had become so powerful that he breached an existing 10 year-long treaty after only two years and attacked and captured Mecca. The vestige of idolatry was blotted out from Mecca and larger Arabia with the following sanction from heaven: “when the forbidden months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush… [Q 9:5]
In sum, Medina became the holy city of Islam, through the banishment of the Jews from their centuries-old homes and through Muhammad’s terror resulting in their eviction, mass slaughter and enslavement. On the other hand, Mecca became the Muslim holy city by complete banishment of idolatry through slaughter of some of the Mecca pagans and forcing others to accept Islam at the pain of death [Q 9:5]. Not only Mecca and Medina: the entire Arabia became holy for the Muslims and no-go zones for the infidels when the prophet commanded to finish off the Jews and Christians from Arabia “that two religions should not be allowed to remain in the Arab Peninsula." [Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, (trs. A Guillaume), Karachi, p 523] Prophet’s last wish was ruthlessly executed by his successors. In 638, caliph Omar expelled the Jews of Khaybar, who were allowed to stay when Muhammad had conquered that outpost 10 years earlier. By the time of 3rd caliph Othman (died 656), there remained no Christians and Jews in the Islamic heartland of Arabian Peninsula.
What are known as the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina and the holy land of Arabia, thus, is the outcome of ruthless terrorism perpetrated by the founder of Islam with the collusion of the Islamic God. At the receiving end of it were the existing pagans, Jews and Christians of the region, who suffered disastrous tragedy. The founding of the Islamic holy land in Arabia also marked beginning of unbridled terrorism, which devastated vast parts of the world “stretching from the banks of the Indus in the east to the shores of the Atlantic in the West” in a very short time, which may have resulted in the violent death of approximately 270 million people. This also marked a barbaric legacy of terror that has continued for the entire 14 centuries of Islam’s existence to this day. This legacy will probably continue until Allah’s promise to “make them (Muslims) rulers in the earth as He made rulers" [Q 24:55] is fulfilled. The terrorist attack in Medina that killed four Frenchmen is just the continuation of that legacy of holy terror which the prophet of Islam had started 14 centuries ago. So are all Islamic terror campaigns in Iraq, Iran, India, Sudan, Somalia, Chechnya, Kosovo, Thailand and elsewhere, which are ongoing across the world.