Summit Lecture Series: The Hadith & Islam’s Battles with and Christians and Jews with Nabeel Qureshi

Summit Lecture Series: The Hadith & Islam’s Battles with and Christians and Jews with Nabeel Qureshi February 23, 2016

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In 624 AD, Muhammad started launching raids against Meccan caravans from Medina, which caused the Meccans to retaliate in larger numbers. That’s when the large-scale battles began, including the Battle of Badr, the Battle of Uhud, and Battle of the Trench.

During this time, the Jewish tribesmen of Medina realize that instead of being a peaceful arbiter, Muhammad was bringing about more and more strife to their region. So, they began to oppose him more and more, and Muhammad’s writings in the Qur’an reflect his own opposition to the Jews as time went on.

This is why, when you read the Qur’an, Islam begins very amenable to Jews and Christians, but during Muhammad’s Median period, we see a shift in the nature of his revelations – becoming more and more antagonistic toward the Jews. This all culminates in Muhammad dealing with the last tribe of Jews living in Medina. However, unlike when he exiled the other two tribes that he came into conflict with, Muhammad actually had this final tribe executed. In one day, 500-800 men were killed and all the women and children were sold into slavery. Remember, these were people who invited him into the city to act as a peacemaker.

Needless to say, this created a lot of tension between the Jews and Muslims.

In 630, Muhammad returned to Mecca and conquered the city. And, shortly after this, he issued a battle edict against the Christians of the Middle East. In October of that year, he sanctioned the Battle of Tabouk, which was the first battle planned against Christians, particularly the Byzantine Empire or Eastern Roman Empire. Now, the battle itself didn’t actually come to fruition, but it did mark the beginning of Muhammad’s hostilities toward Christ followers, as is written in the Qur’an:

Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (Qur’an 9:29)

Now, when you talk to most Muslims today, especially in light of the life of Muhammad, they will most often quote the Hadith, or “The Sayings of Muhammad”. Often, subsumed into that concept are the actions and traditions of Muhammad, called the Sunnah. So, the words, actions, and traditions of Muhammad, found in the Hadith, are a necessary compliment to the Qur’an. Unlike Christians and the Bible, no practicing Muslim would say that the Qur’an is all they need as their holy, guiding book. Nearly every Muslim would say that the Hadith are invaluable to understanding Islam.

For instance, every practicing Muslim stops his or her day five times for prayer. Yet, only three of these prayers are found in the Qur’an. The other two are in the Hadith. Additionally, the Hadith – not the Qur’an – tell Muslims how to give, how and who to marry, and other aspects of daily life, based on how Muhammad lived out his Islamic life.

One tricky thing to understanding Islam is that not all Muslims believe in the same books of Hadith. For example, Shiite Muslims follow different Hadith books than Sunni Muslims. And even within the Sunni sects, you will find disagreements on which Hadith are legitimate and which ones are not.Hadith Books

The Sahih is considered by most to be the most accurate book of the Hadith, while almost all Sunni Muslims subscribe to the Sahih al-Bukhari and the Sahih al-Muslim. In fact, when it comes to learning about Islam and Muhammad, these last two books are where most people turn to – and for most Sunni, if it’s written in either of those books, it’s as valid as anything written in the Qur’an.

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