When attempting to understand the phenomenon of terrorism, the important thing is not merely to understand the forms in which it manifests itself – but to understand the mechanisms, that is the tools and the psychologico-religious apparatus that lie behind all its manifestations and tragedies.[1] One of these mechanisms is the delirious desire to ‘imitate’ the Prophet in his role as the ‘primary ancestor’, to imitate everything he said and he did. 


THIS DESIRE IS deeply rooted in the psychology of a certain class of Muslims – the Salafists, Wahhabists and Jihadis in particular – and it is this that motivates them to recreate what the Prophet said or did a full 14 centuries ago. To give an example, the heads of Islamist movements regularly commence their letters with the phrase: We take refuge in God from our evil selves and our wicked deeds, in the same way as the Prophet initiated the page. They also let their beards grow long and employ a wooden toothpick just as he did and, during Ramadan, they break the fast by consuming four dates and a cup of milk just as he did. They also kill Jewish civilians, or threaten to kill them, again just as the Prophet did.

In contrast to other nations (including those that are less-developed), they perpetuate the governance of the Middle Ages – the sovereignty of the divine intellect – and are yet to come over to the governance of the modern age where the sovereignty of the human intellect has taken the place of the divine intellect in every sphere: in politics, economics, science, art, literature and even in reformed, rationalised religion and so on. Every development, no matter how small, towards transferring to the governance of the human intellect sends the Islamic extreme right into a panic: it terms this development ‘succumbing to the jāhiliyya [2] of the 20th century’ or, as it is referred to in Tunisia, ‘religious desertification’! This intelligentsia is unable to adapt Islam to modernity, a task which is not only possible but vital for the reforming of Islam. Instead they replace it with an unimportant and impossible task: the Islamisation of modernity.

Sectors of the elite and the masses still perpetuate the doctrine of al-walā’ wal-barā’ which was instituted by Madinan Islam:[3]

O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He among you who taketh them for friends is (one) of them [Qur’ān V,51]

‘Loyalty’ is exclusively for the Muslims while enmity is for the Jews and Christians, and to ‘infidels’ in general. That is, enmity to their persons, their beliefs, their institutions, sciences, values and ways of thinking and conduct. It is this that is forming a religious and mental barrier today preventing Muslims from adapting to the requirements of the world they are living in.

Al-walā’ wal-barā’, as Ayman al-Zawahiri wrote in his book Knights under the Banner of the Prophet, is the primary justification for al-Qaeda’s globalised Jihad. Al-walā’ wal-barā’ turns friendship with non-Muslims or any co-operation with them into an act deserving of excommunication, and this constitutes a religious and mental obstacle deterring Muslims from integrating into contemporary civilisation, a civilisation which is the product of the People of the Book! [4] It also consciously and unconsciously deters Muslims outside the Muslim world from integrating into their societies. Yet without such an integration these Muslims have no future, no work, no home, no family. Instead they face a life of marginalisation, loss, drug addiction, delinquency and terrorism.

Even the most basic duties of human courtesy and diplomatic decency were cancelled out by these Qur’ānic texts

Muhammad’s wars against the Jews of Madina, his threats against them and against the Christians in the Madinan Qur’ānic verses, provide the foundations for this suicidal isolationism. For even the most basic duties of human courtesy and diplomatic decency were cancelled out by these Qur’ānic texts, duties such as the consolation of a bereaved neighbour or a non-Muslim head of state:

But grieve not for the disbelieving folk [Qur’ān V,68]

This is in addition to the verses that urge the boycotting and slaying of ‘infidels’, such as: Take them and kill them wherever ye find them [Qur’ān IV,89] for the purposes of brainwashing the Muslim and making him politically docile, and religiously and ethically legitimising the random killing of ‘infidels.’ And this is what is taking place right in front of our eyes. We saw this on September 11, 2001 and in the second Intifada where the Hamas martyrs killed and carried out suicide bombings amongst Israelis standing at a bus stop or queuing up to enter a disco or a McDonald’s. We saw this amongst the Jews in Morocco in 2003 and afterwards at the synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba, and amongst the ‘apostate’ Muslims in Algeria.

The extermination of the Jewish tribes at Madina, the confiscation of their possessions, the killing of every adult Jewish male of the Banū Qurayza and the selling of their women and children into slavery in Abyssinia, all these are real tragedies. How, for instance, did they make a distinction between the children who had, or who had not, come of age? – by stripping them naked to see if their pubic hair had grown. All those whose pubic hair had grown were handed over to the slaughter – the first edition, as it were, of the massacres of the Catholic Inquisition. This extermination provided the foundations for collective punishment – foundations which the Meccan Qur’ān had previously annulled with its establishment of individual criminal responsibility, whereby

No laden soul can bear another’s load [Qur’ān XVII,15]

This individual responsibility today forms the underlying principle of international criminal law. The extermination also laid the foundations for the persecution of minorities in the Muslim world, and it may be that the killing of a million Armenians in Turkey in 1915 is merely a remake, a re-run of the film of the killing of the Banū Qurayza.

The Islamic extreme right public in the Arab world now threatens contemporary Jews with a repetition of the slaughter of the Banū Qurayza Jews. During demonstrations in Jordan in support of Hamas the principal slogan of the Muslim Brotherhood was: “Khaybar, Khaybar, you Jews today, Muhammad’s army is on its way”.[5] And when the Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh visited Tunisia he was greeted by a mass of Islamists chanting the same words. Meanwhile, an Islamist deputy in the Constituent Assembly warned that “the fate of the Tunisian island of Djerba will be the same as the fate of Palestine”, that is that the Jews will buy up all the territory. The Jewish minority in Tunisia numbers less than 2,000!

The prohibition on positive law instituted by Madinan Islam still has its dolorous consequences for Muslims today

One depressing delusion, even made the contemporary faqīh ‘Umrān Husayn, seeks inspiration from the massacre of the Jewish males of the Banū Qurayza. In a scenario of the imminent end of the world, he reiterated the formula of al-Bukhārī’s famous Hadīth concerning the Muslim’s killing of the last Jew before the end of the world.[6] This final and most harsh punishment will be inflicted upon the Jews who, ‘Umrān Husayn says, “have been punished by God first with the Babylonian Exile and second with the invasion of the Romans and the destruction of the Temple; they will now be punished a third and last time when the Army of Islam takes care of them down to the last Jew,” following which the Day of Resurrection will take place.

A verse from the Madinan Qur’ān stipulated that the People of the Dhimma,[7] the Jews and the Christians, must needs be humiliated: until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low [Qur’ān IX,29]. The humiliation of the People of the Dhimma is also written into what has been termed the ‘Pact of ‘Umar’:

“… that they do not raise the height of their dwellings or churches above that of the Muslims and their mosques, and that they ride on asses while Muslims ride upon horses, that they wear clothing of a distinctive colour so that they may be recognised by Muslims, that it is not for Muslims to initiate greetings, that Christians do not have the right to build new churches or restore those that have fallen into disrepair…”

In the 1930s the lexicographer Ismail Muzhir recorded the following formula used on contracts of sale between Muslims and Christians:

‘The doomed-to-perdition ………… (e.g. George) has hereby sold ………. to the future resident of paradise ………. (e.g. Muhammad) the following: ……..”

The prohibition on positive law and the freedom of expression instituted by Madinan Islam, still has its dolorous consequences for Muslims today: Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are disbelievers [Qur’ān V,44]. What this means is that positive law has no legitimacy to it and that any attempt to apply it will lead one into a state of Unbelief.

The Prophet’s killing – and at times cruel killing – of poets who had criticised or insulted him has been turned by the Islamic extreme right in countries where they rule into legislation that prohibits the criticism of religion, that is, critical research concerning God, the Prophets, the Prophet of Islam or his wives or Companions. Freedom of expression or freedom of thought and scholarly research have now become ‘infringements of sanctities’. Article 40 of the Islamic Egyptian Constitution outlawed the criticism of religion. The Islamic extreme right in Tunisia proposed that the prohibition on criticising sanctities should be written into the Constitution and the press have recently reported that a full half of the new Islamic Constitution is taken over from the present Iranian Constitution!

The prohibition on critically evaluating religion spells the death knell for the teaching or practising of new forms of religion. The Islamic religious sciences are founded upon the uncritical perpetuation of religious myths and assurances. Thus the freedom of expression, or all freedoms, are placed between quotation marks, since the prohibition of free discussion and criticism closes the door to intellectual life, to democracy and the freedom of the press. The Islamic far right in Tunisia actually terms the free media ‘the media of shame’, since it publishes criticisms of the Islamic government. In Egypt the media were prosecuted as criminals on the charge of criticising religion or criticising the President. The Muslim Brotherhood’s project for the Constitution, which they proposed in 2011, was an eloquent example of the perpetuation of Madinan Islam, with all of its autistic culture of hatred for Jews and Christians, along with hatred for believers in heathen faiths unrecognised by Islam, making believers choose between embracing Islam or death. Here, for example, is a sample of the Draft Constitution concerning foreign policy:

Article 177: Islam is the axis around which foreign policy revolves, and upon this basis are to be constructed the relations of the state with all other states;

Article 178: States with which we do not have treaties, and actual colonial powers such as England, America and France, and states which have designs on our countries such as Russia, are to be considered hostile states … with whom it is not permitted to establish diplomatic relations … Actual hostile states such as Israel must be considered to be in a state of war and this should form the basis of all activities; none of its subjects are permitted to enter the country, and the blood of their non-Muslim residents is proscribed.

Hear now the strong echo of the massacre of the Jews of the Banū Qurayza!

[1] This essay is an extract from the author’s last work: من محمد الايمان إلى محمد التاريخ (‘From the Muhammad of Faith to the Muhammad of History’), Manshūrāt al-Jamal / Al-Kamel Verlag, Freiburg, Germany 2014.

[2] A state of ‘ignorance’ or ‘paganism’. See Glossary: Jāhiliyya.

[3] The author is here referring to the later stage of the Prophet’s career following his migration from Mecca, during which period the tone of the revelations moved from issues of faith and the next world to public order and political expansion against non-believers. See Glossary: Sūra.

[4] See Glossary: Ahl al-Kitāb

[5] Khaybar was an oasis and fortress town in Arabia inhabited by the Jews before the rise of Islam. It was attacked by Muhammad and the Muslims in the year 629. It was finally cleared of his Jewish inhabitants during the reign of the caliph ‘Umar (634-644). (Ed.)

[6] The text is the following: Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. “O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.” Sahīh Bukhārī: 4:52:177 (Ed.)

[7] Non-Muslim subjects in Muslim countries who are granted ‘protection’ but no political rights, in return for payment of the jizya tax (Ed.) See Glossary: Dhimma.

Qur’an V, 51 (‘Take not the Jews and Christians as friends’ …) on a Turkish bus stop – Municipality of Konya

For more information on the doctrine of al-walā’ wal-barā’  see Addendum here

‘Khaybar, Khaybar, O you Jews, Muhammad’s army is on its way’ – Demonstration in Tanta, Egypt, 2012