“THE LIFE OF MOHAMMAD”

LEADER TIMES WEEKEND RELIGION ARTICLE FOR

August 24, 2013 by William H. Scarle, Jr.

This article is being written on Monday, August 19, the day prior to the airing of Public Broadcasting’s “THE LIFE OF MOHAMMAD.”  Everyone connected with this three hour presentation is a Moslem.  This is not necessarily bad, except there is no one feeding into the script any skepticism or critical analysis that would prevent it from becoming a mere propaganda piece.

The reviews of the documentary done by those who have seen the film make the point that, “Nearly every element of modern Islam the Westerners find troubling is, the array of talking heads assure us, a result of either a misunderstanding or a misrepresentation of the Quran.”  This leaves us with an obvious question.  Why in the whole world are the followers of Islam as well as the “unbelievers” getting it so wrong?  Thousands, even millions, are being killed in Syria, Egypt, Iran, Africa in the name of Allah and his prophet.

Part of the answer is the difference between the sayings of the Quran before the Hijra (Muhammad’s move from Mecca to Medina) and after the Hijra.  The earlier sayings are mostly at the end of the Quran and the later sayings at the beginning.  The reason for this is the Quran is not arranged chronologically but by the length of the sayings.  It is also a recognized principal of Quranic interpretation that the later sayings are to be taken as authoritative if there is any conflict between surahs.

The chronology is as follows.  Mohammad was born in 570 AD.  His first revelation came to him in 610.  He was exiled from Mecca in 622.  After many battles he returns and conquers Mecca in 630.

Mark Gabriel contrasts the early period with the later period as follows.

Mecca: He invited people to be a part of Islam by preaching.

Medina: He persuaded people to convert by the sward

Mecca:  He acted like a priest, living a life of prayer, fasting and worship.

Medina:  He behaved like a military commander, personally leading twenty-seven attacks.

Mecca:  He had only one wife, Khadija, for those twelve years.

Medina:  He married twelve more women in ten years.

Mecca:  He fought against idol worship.

Medina:  He fought against People of the Book (Jews and Christians).

It is possible to take the early surahs of the Quran and put them out to the public as if the later surahs do not exist.  The fact is that the later surahs are the more authoritative in orthodox Islam and most of the Arabs who became Moslems in the early years did so because of the rewards they received from raids on people who would not submit to Islam.  The Quran is clear about the rules for dividing the spoils from the raids of Mohammad’s army.  The prophet was to get one fifth.

My favorite word is “Shalom.”  The Apostle Paul used it regularly in his greeting the churches; “Grace and peace,” or in Hebrew, “Hesed v’shalom.” This is not the cry we hear from the Moslem world.

(Bill Scarle can be contacted at ravscarle@verizon.net ).  END – whs

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