- The Arabs commonly say: Aazana Allahu bil Islam, which means that 'Allah has made us (the Arabs) valued because of Islam'. The Arabs point of view is straight forward; they were insignificant Arab tribes in the desert of Arabia who later ruled a vast Islamic empire. I don’t think there are many Arabs who question the accuracy of the above statement; even some Arab atheists tend to agree with it despite their belief that Mohammed was a liar and brutal gang leader. However, the subject that the Arabs are far better off without Islam is beyond the scope of this article. But the question that springs to my mind whenever I hear the above Arabic adage is: can any other Muslim nation claim that Allah made them valued because of Islam? Can the Indians or the Iranians, who had a formidable empire in the seventh century, make such a claim?
Islam, a language-based religion
Islam is the only religion in the world that is completely based on a language. Islam can only survive in an Arabic language environment, if the Arabic language disappears, so does Islam. Learning the Arabic language is mandatory to all Muslims in order to read the Quran and perform the Islamic rituals.
Nowadays, almost all Muslims claim that their devotion to Islam is because they are convinced of its authenticity and dismiss the fact that they inherited it from their parents as a sheer coincidence. The Muslims’ claims suggest that they researched and studied their religion and found it to be flawless. Studying Islam entails reading the Quran carefully, in Arabic, and concluding that it is too good to be authored by humans, therefore, must be divine. Oddly enough, if you ask those ‘convinced’ Muslims for an explanation of any of the Quran’s contradictions or blunders they would refer you to Muslim scholars.
I explained in previous articles that when the Arabs had a free choice they did not like the Quran. After fourteen centuries, we still do not have convincing explanations to any of the hundreds of errors that litter the Quran. In addition to the errors, the Quran also contains some serious weaknesses in style that would not be acceptable by any decent author. It does not matter how good some verses are because the unprejudiced reader would never be convinced of the Quran in the presence of any error.
It is perfectly possible for an ordinary person who speaks little Arabic or no Arabic at all, to read the Quran and identify its contradictions or mistakes. That kind of critical assessment is within the reach of any impartial person who reads the Quran with judicious objectivity. However, it is not possible for the same person to read a few verses and claims they are so nicely composed and must be divine. Such an assertive conclusion depends on personal taste and requires thorough knowledge of the Arabic language and its literature, which most of the non-Arabs do not have. I am afraid that the claims of the non-Arab Muslims to be convinced of Islam are false claims that hide the uncomfortable reality that they believe in Islam because they take the Arabs’ word for it.
The language issue and the Quran
The Quran was revealed, or rather released, in the Quraysh language, which was the Arabic language as spoken by the Arabs of Mecca including Mohammed. Throughout Mohammed’s stay in Mecca there were no language issues at all because Mohammed had only to deal with his own clan who spoke his own language and in his own dialect. The dialect issue only surfaced after Mohammed assumed power in Yathrib and started to deal with the Arab tribes in distant regions of Arabia. Even though Arabic was spoken throughout Arabia, but different regions had different dialects, as would be expected in a country as vast as Arabia. It didn’t fit the Arabs’ tribal pride to be asked to speak another tribe’s dialect when it comes to reading the Quran. Mohammed didn’t want this issue to stop the Arabs from joining him so he allowed each tribe to read the Quran as they please in their own dialects. As with everything else, it was Allah who whispered to Mohammed to demonstrate that flexibility and give his permission to the tribes. The divine gesture worked well and preserved the national identity of each Arab tribe.
However, the above gesture and divine flexibility didn’t extend to other nations, it was a privilege only to the Arabs. All other nations must learn Arabic to read the Quran and practice Islam. At this point, it is remarkable to note that while the early Arabs felt offended by just being asked to speak a dialect other than own, today’s Muslims are happy to read the Quran, not in a different dialect, but in a completely foreign language, without feeling offended! The non-Arab Muslims accept this obvious bias towards the Arabs as a natural part of life.
This association between the Arabic language and Islam was a kind of divine windfall to the Arabs; they automatically became leaders in the world of Islam just because they can speak their own language! Even though other Muslim nations may produce some very good scholars, but unless those scholars learn the Arabic language perfectly well they won’t be highly credited in the Islamic world.
Signs of selfishness, tribalism and racism in Mohammed’s behaviour
Judged by the number of personal privileges that Mohammed granted himself, he was probably the most selfish leader in history. The following is only a small sample of those privileges:
Mohammed, through the Quran, granted himself the right to marry as many women as he wished but restricted the other Muslims to marry only four women. In addition Mohammed granted himself the right to have sex with women who offer themselves to him.
Mohammed granted himself the right to marry other Muslims’ widows but declared, through the Quran, that it is a sin for other Muslims to marry his own wives (after his death).
Mohammed declared that his shares from any war booty were 20%, the remaining 80% to be shared by the rest of the Muslims.
Mohammed considered himself to be the first among all human beings including the previous prophets. According to him, he was second only to Allah. As a matter of fact there was no difference between Islam and the other religions already practiced in Arabia except that in Islam Mohammed added his name next to Allah’s name.
Mohammed’s egocentricity extended to his immediate family, called aal Mohammed, for whom Muslims are required to pray in every Islamic prayer.
Even though Mohammed’s own tribe, Quraysh, despised him and fought wars against him and did nothing to promote Islam, the evidence is that Mohammed preferred them to the rest of the Arabs. In fact, Mohammed preferred the tribe of Quraysh to the tribes of Yathrib who supported him, converted to Islam and fought on his side. Mohammed used the Arabs of Yarhrib, known as the Aws and Khazraj tribes, for his purposes but neither he nor any of his companions respected them. The Muslims frequently claim that there were social or political motives behind some of Mohammed’s marriages, which he used as a tool to strengthen his ties with the various tribes. From this perspective, it is noteworthy that Mohammed did not bother to marry from the Aws or Khazraj tribes. Mohammed preferred Quraysh, so did his influential companions, who all came from Quraysh. It is striking that while the Aws and Khazraj completely disappeared from history, the Quraysh Arabs ruled the Islamic empire (khilafa) until 1258 AD and they continue to rule some states up to our time. Mohammed believed that the Aws and Khazraj were politically too naive and too weak to be trusted to govern. Mohammed’s attitude towards the Aws and Khazraj reminds me with an interview I watched about ten years ago on Aljazeera in which the Islamic cleric AbuHamza was asked: why do you live in the west if you disrespect it that much? His answer was: “we Muslims consider the west like a toilet, we visit it because we need to, but once we finish we leave.”
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