What Would Mohammad Do?

by Raymond Ibrahim

Private Papers

We’ve all seen them — those little wristbands Christians sometimes wear, or put on bumper stickers, with the acronym “WWJD?” — What Would Jesus Do? A reminder for them to ask, in every situation they face, what their Lord would do, and to emulate Jesus’ teachings of divine compassion, love, patience, faith, hope, and charity.

What about Muslims?  Muslims are clear that Mohammad is not divine.  However, they are directed to follow their Prophet’s example [e.g. Koran 33:21] with literal devotion.   In fact, the Sunnis, who make up some 90% of the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims, are precisely that: the Arabic word “Sunna,” defined by the Hans Wehr dictionary, is “habitual practice, customary procedure or action, norm, usage sanctioned by tradition; the ‘Sunna of the Prophet,’ i.e., his sayings and doings, later established as legally binding precedents.”  Thus by definition, Sunnis — “the people of custom” — are those who (are at least supposed to) follow the practice and example of the Prophet, in both word and deed, often quite literally.  One of the founders of Sunni Islam’s four schools of jurisprudence, the highly respected Ibn Hanbal, forbade himself from eating watermelons because he found no evidence that Mohammad ever ate one.

Even so, emulation of the Prophet and his warrior companions is not limited to flowing robes, beards, and veils; personal conduct is much more important than these superficialities.  To that end, Muslims consult the Koran and the Hadith: the former the Divine Word of Allah; the latter a vast compilation of the words, thoughts, musings, and deeds — a biography of sorts — of Allah’s Prophet, as witnessed by his contemporaries.  Thus what Mohammad would do in any given situation is not only an extremely important question for Muslims; it is also readily attainable.

Today, one wonders, What would Mohammed do?  Would he smile upon “moderate” Muslims such as America’s “friends,” the many secular regimes who do not enforce Islamic law (which itself is based on his own commands) and who cooperate fully with the infidel West, or would he find favor in a man like Osama bin Laden, who defies the West?  The answer to this question is easily found in the Koran and historical record of the Prophet.

Allah proclaims:  “But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity [i.e. embrace Islam], then open the way for them: for Allah is oft forgiving, most merciful” (Koran 9:5). This message is repeated continuously in the Koran and Hadith, and most Muslim jurists are agreed that these “Sword Verses” abrogate all earlier verses of tolerance and peaceable co-existence between Muslims and non-Muslims.  Furthermore, the commandments of the Koran transcend time and are thus as applicable today as they were in the 7th century.

The historical record of Islam — its rise and spread — is even more illustrative than the words of the Koran. Islam was established by the sword. This is an historical fact, not an accusation.  It’s not for nothing that Saudi Arabia, home of the Prophet and Islam, depicts a scimitar with the words “There is no god but Allah and Mohammad is His Prophet” on its national flag.  Both Muslim and non-Muslim histories of Islam agree that the Warrior-Prophet personally waged war after war with the express purpose of spreading Islam.

These were wars forcing other peoples, first Arabs then non-Arabs, to embrace Islam and submit to the life-guiding Words of Allah (the Sharia), or else to pay tribute and live in humility as subjects of Islam, or else, to die by the sword.

These jihads prevailed for centuries. Indeed, just a mere century after the Prophet died, jihad had established Islam supreme in much of Asia, all of North Africa, and much of Mediterranean Europe (Spain, Sicily). This was more territory than the Roman Empire ever ruled in its heyday. It took Christianity five times as long to achieve such ubiquity (possibly because methods of diffusion differed). Holy War only ceased when Islam was defeated on the battleground — not because a new Revelation from Allah declared that expansion should cease, or that the three choices — conversion, submission, or death — have been abrogated. (The orthodox view in Sunni Islam is that peace will only exist once Islam reigns supreme over the whole world).

Islam is a rigorous faith with many laudable principles and prescriptions. Many people, not only Muslims, agree that other cultures can learn from the ideas of mercy, charity, and justice that also underlie Islam. But the fact remains that establishing Islam’s supremacy itself is the first principle, according to its holiest books and history. Moreover, based on the actions of the Prophet, his Companions and first caliphs, establishing Islamic hegemony through the sword was and thus is the norm.

So, based on his history, words, and deeds, what would Mohammad do?  What would he do at a time when, far from assertively spreading Islam, the entire Muslim world believes that they are being ruthlessly persecuted by a Christian and godless West?  What would his views and subsequent actions be regarding Israel’s occupation of Palestine, one of Islam’s holiest regions?  What would he do about infidels stationed all around the Arabian Peninsula — where no non-Muslim is permitted to stay, per his own command?  Iraq?  Afghanistan?  Would he go, briefcase in hand, to parley at the United Nations?  Rebuke bin Laden for his violent ways?  No, what he would do is all too clear:

Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book [Christians and Jews], until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (Koran 9:29)

It is mportant to bear in mind that this injunction and similar verses depict the standard relationship between Muslims and infidels — even when the latter mind their own business. How much more is expected of Muslims when it isthey who are under attack from the infidels?

Before he died, Mohammad sent a message to the Christian Roman emperor in Constantinople inviting him to embrace Islam or suffer the consequences. Up to that time, the Christian Empire had little to do with Arabia and nothing to do with Islam. The demand was dismissed. Mohammad then initiated jihads against Christian lands, permanently annexing a good chunk, till Constantinople itself, the seat of Christianity, fell to Islam after 800 years of jihad campaigns.  That’s what the Prophet wanted, and that’s what his faithful followers accomplished.

So, what would Mohammad do now that Islam is perceived to be under direct attack?

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