The Shade of Swords: Jihad and the Conflict between Islam and Christianity

By M. J. Akbar | Go to book overview

3

REBELLIONS IN THE DARK OF THE NIGHT

The last injunction that the apostle gave was in his words ‘Let not two religions be left in the Arabian peninsula’. (The apostle died on the twelfth Rabi-ul-awwal on the very day that he came to Medina as an emigrant, having completed exactly twelve years in his migration.) When the apostle was dead the Muslims were sore stricken. I have heard that Aisha used to say, ‘When the apostle died the Arabs apostatized and Christianity and Judaism raised their heads and disaffection appeared. The Muslims became as sheep exposed to rain on a winter’s night through the loss of their Prophet until God united them under Abu Bakr.’

[From The Life of Muhammad by Ibn Ishaq, born in Medina c. AH 85 and died in Baghdad in AH 151.]

Hind, who had tasted his uncle’s liver, was understandably apprehensive as she waited in line to pay homage to Muhammad. Her husband, Abu Sufyan, leader of the Quraysh, had already become a Muslim. He welcomed Muhammad, who wore a red turban of Yemeni cloth as he entered his birthplace in triumph on the twentieth of Ramadan, in 630 by the Western calendar, at the head of ten thousand fully-armed Muhajirs and Ansars. Hind resisted to the end; outraged, she went up to Abu Sufyan, seized his moustaches, and cried to the Quraysh, ‘Kill this fat, greasy bladder of lard! What a rotten protector of the people!’ Abu Sufyan told his people not to be deceived by ‘this woman’ and accept the Muslim victory.

Muhammad, astride his camel, went to the Kaaba and circled it seven times. He touched the black stone with the stick in his hand, then took the key from the keeper, Uthman bin Talha, and went inside. He found a

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The Shade of Swords: Jihad and the Conflict between Islam and Christianity
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Introduction xv
  • 1 - Chapter and Verse 1
  • 2 - The Joys of Death: a Bargain with Allah 12
  • 3 - Rebellions in the Dark of the Night 26
  • 4 - A Map of Islam 40
  • 5 - Circle of Hell 52
  • 6 - Allah! Muhammad! Saladin! 67
  • 7 - The Doors of Europe 83
  • 8 - Jihad in the East: a Crescent Over Delhi 99
  • 9 - The Holy Sea: Pepper and Power 113
  • 10 - The Bargain Goes Sour 131
  • 11 - The Wedge and the Gate 145
  • 12 - History as Anger, Jihad as Non-Violence 160
  • 13 - Islam in Danger Zone 177
  • 14 - Jinnah Redux and the Age of Osama 189
  • Glossary 214
  • A Suggested Reading List 218
  • Thumbnail Sketches 228
  • Index 251
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