Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Muhammad and the Natural Law: Murder for Prophet: Murdering the Competition--Al-Aswad

MUHAMMAD NOT ONLY MURDERED his political opponents, he also could not entertain the existence of rival politico-religious prophets. Combining religion and politics and claiming a monopoly on both was Muhammad's specialty and trademark. Competition--either through a secular state, through the separation of church and state, or by reference to a natural law above both church and state--is bad for Islam. It prefers the benefits of, and the ease of profit obtained by, a politico-religious monopoly and restraint on freedom in both politics and religion. Consequently, it should come as no surprise when we read, in Volume IX of al-Tabari's work, of Muhammad busy at work sending "messengers," i.e., assassins, to murder rival governors and prophets.*

One such prophet to whom Muhammad sent "messengers" was named al-Aswad al'Ansi. Between the history of al-Tabari and the Kitab Futuh Al-Buldan by Ahmad Yahya bin Jabir al-Baladhuri (a 9th century Persian historian),** we have some interesting facts about Al-Aswad al-'Ansi. Whether all these are true or not is hard to tell, but it seems reliable, given our knowledge of Muhammad, when the early Muslim historians say that Muhammad both planned and delighted in this rival prophet's death.

Muhammad Inciting his Disciples to Violence

Al-Aswad al-'Ansi was also known also Dhu al-Khimar (or Dhu al-Himar) 'Abhalah b. Ka'b. His real name we are told 'Aihalah, but he was called al-Aswad (الأسود), "the black one," because he had a black (أسود) face. It was said that he had a trained donkey (حمار) that was trained to bow at the command, "Bow before your Lord," and would kneel when so commanded. For that reason, some called him al-Himar (الحمار), meaning "he of the donkey." Yet another story was that he was called al-Khimar (الخمار), "he of the veil," because he used to appear with a veil (خمار) and turban. This black-faced, turbaned, veiled, donkey-man was known as a "soothsayer and a juggler." "He used to show [the people] wondrous things captivating the hearts who listened to his speech." al-Tabari, 165. "The first time," al-Tabari tells us, al-Aswad claimed prophethood, "was [after] his coming out of the Khubban cave." al-Tabari, 165. The cave was his home, as he had been both born and raised there. He seemed like another Muhammad in the making: an ambitious prophet.

Muhammad apparently feared the same. Muhammad sent a messenger to al-Aswad in Yemen inviting him to convert to Islam. But al-Aswad declined Muhammad's offer. Instead, he decided to act like Muhammad and battled Khalid ibn Sai'd ibn al'-Asi from the town of San'a' (now the capital of Yemen, صنعاء‎), thereby becoming its governor. The Islamic historians naturally find fault in al-Aswad, and state that he was "haughty and oppressed al-Abna', the descendants of the Persians who were originally sent to al-Yaman [Yemen] by Kisra in the company of ibn-dhi-Yazan and under the leadership of Wahriz." KFaB, 160. (Remember! Muhammad was not haughty, nor did he oppress anyone. Whatever "haughtiness" he showed or whatever "oppression" he was guilty of, it was not haughtiness or oppression by definition, since Muhammad is--regardless of the facts, regardless of reason, regardless of reality--al-Insan al-Kamil (الإنسان الكامل), i.e., the perfect human.) Al-Aswad is also accused of making the people which he ruled to "serve him and compelled them to do things against their will," something, of course, that Muhammad never, ever did.

Muhammad's appetite for killing in the name of Allah, though himself quite sick and only a few days himself from death, remained unabated and unappeased. His blutlust and mordlust ran deep. He summoned his "messengers" to go to Yemen "instructing them [to get rid] of al-Aswad by artful contrivance." Rival prophets were apostates in the mind of Muhammad, any means of escape was to be "cut off," and they were to be attacked while "in a state of waning," in other words, while asleep. In that way they would be "isolated," and "occupied with themselves," and could be dispatched efficiently.

The plan was for Kais ibn-Hubairah-l-Makshuh al Muradi and some of his men to be sent to San'a' and feign that they agreed with al-Aswad against Muhammad. By this pretext (i.e., lie), he and his men were allowed entry into the town. Once in the town, he started gaining converts for Islam among the discontented, including al-Aswad's wife.

Kais thus slipped into al-Aswad's home before the break of dawn, digging a whole through a crack or slipping in through a gutter. Kais the assassin found al-Aswad in bed, "sleeping under the influence of drink." KFaB, 161.
Kais slew him [al-Aswad] and he began to bellow like a bull, so much so that his guard scared by the noise, asked, "What is the matter with Rahman al-Yaman?"*** "The inspiration," answered his wife, is upon him."
KFaB, 161.

Then the historian al-Baladhuri informs us of a scene which could have been written yesterday:
Kais severed [al-Aswad's] head and shouted, "Allah is great! Allah is great! I testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Prophet of Allay, and that al-Aswad, the false Prophet, is the enemy of Allah!" As the followers of al-Aswad gathered, Kais cast the head to them and they dispersed with the exception of a few. At this the men of Kais opened the door and put the rest of the followers of [al-Aswad] al-'Ansi to the sword, and none escaped except those who accepted Islam.
KFaB, 161.

How many times have we heard Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! in the context of violence. Some things in Islam never change.

So it was that Al-Aswad was killed.†

Though some sources say Muhammad died before al-Aswad was actually killed, other sources suggest it was his last earthly delight:
Certain scholars assert that the death of [as-Aswad by] Kais took place five days before the expiration of the Prophet, who on his death-bed said: "Allah has brought about the death of al-Aswad al-'Ansi through the righteous man Fairuz ibn-ad-Dailami" . . . .
* * *

Christ and Muhammad were both put on a high place, a very high mountain, where all the kingdoms could be seen. All the powers of the world were shown Jesus and Muhammad by Satan. "All these things I will give you if you fall down and worship me." To which Jesus replied, "Begone, Satan: for it is written, 'The Lord thy God shall you adore, and him only shall you serve.'" (Matt. 4:7-9). We know Christ's response. What was Muhammad's? Muhammad set eyes on tribes, then towns, then kingdoms. His followers, who imitate him, have dreams of ruling the world. Jesus answered Satan no. It would seem that the evidence is mounting, nay, even conclusive, that to that question (if it was by posed by Satan, and who else would pose it?) Muhammad answered yes.

There are too many dead bodies in Muhammad's trail to think otherwise. Someone with their pulse on the natural moral law would have second thoughts to the suggestion that Muhammad was a prophet of God. Ordinarily, someone who follows the natural law does not leave a mounting trail of dead bodies behind him. It seems the presumption is against Muhammad, and the common refrain, that الله ورسوله أعلم, Allah and his messenger know best the natural law notwithstanding, are empty words that bear no weight. When used to excuse violence, they are the words of thugs.

*History of al-Tabari, Volume IX: The Last Years of the Prophet (New York: SUNY Pres, 1990).
**The Origins of the Islamic State: Being a Translation from the Arabic of the
Kitab Futuh al-Buldan (Philip Khuri Hitti, trans.) (New York: Columbia, 1916) (herein KFaB).
***All his names were apparently insufficient, al-Aswad also called himself Rahman al-Yaman, "The Merciful one of Yemen," once he assumed the governorship of San'a'.
†As the KFaB notes, some sources suggest that the actually killer was Fairuz inb-ad-Dailamni, a convert to Islam, and that Kais only severed al-Aswad's head.

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