We infidels are only just beginning to understand the flexibility of the Koran. There is a ready-made verse for every occasion – to prove the peacefulness of Islam or, more frequently, to proclaim the wrath and terrible vengeance of Allah to be visited on idolators and kafirs (despised unbelievers).
Most recently, Islamic State chose Al-Hashr:2, the 59th “exile surah” as the lesson for the day to headline its murderous attacks in Paris:
The Almighty said: “And they thought that their strongholds would defend them from the wrath of Allah! But Allah’s (wrath) reached them from a way whereof they expected it not, and He cast terror into their hearts so that they destroyed their own dwellings with their own hands and the hands of the believers. Then take admonition, O you with eyes to see.”
If this appears a somewhat obscure justification for a gun-and-bomb spree that killed 129 people and left another 352 injured, 99 of them grievously suffering, it has to be remembered that ISIS interprets all its operations in terms of the history of Mohammed himself. It is not merely symbolic; every human action and interaction — right down to the explicit detailing of lavatory etiquette — is referenced to, and sanctioned by, Islamic scripture.
As noted above, Al-Hashr is known as the “exile surah” because it recounts the story of the Jewish tribe of Banu Nadhir driven from Medina after allegedly repudiating its treaty with the Islamists, siding with the polytheists of Mecca, and challenging Muhammad’s power in Medina. The Banu Nadhir Jews were wealthy traders who had built a fortress some distance from the town. After a 14-day siege, they surrendered to Muhammad’s forces and were ordered to leave. The histories record the Banu Nadhir destroyed their homes before leaving on 600 camels in an impressive and defiant cavalcade, eventually settling as far north as Syria. It is said that after their departure, Muhammad conveniently received from Allah the revelation of the surah Al-Hashr.
So what, we might ask, is the relevance of that surah? The Banu Nadhir were defeated without a fight because
God Almighty sent fear, the invisible army, to render assistance to the Muslims. He cast terror into the hearts of disbelievers (who) had prepared themselves to confront with armies, but were ignorant of the inward army that led them to cooperate with their own foes in demolishing their own homes.
Now we can turn to the ISIS statement on Paris (emphasis added):
In a blessed attack for which Allah facilitated the causes for success, a faithful group of the soldiers of the Caliphate launched out, targeting the capital of prostitution and obscenity, the carrier of the banner of the Cross in Europe, Paris…Youths who divorced the world and went to their enemy seeking to be killed in the cause of Allah, in support of His religion and His Prophet, and to put the noses of His enemies in the ground.
Allah conquered through their hands and cast in the hearts of the Crusaders horror in the middle of their land, where eight brothers wrapped in explosive belts and armed with machine rifles, targeted sites that were accurately chosen in the heart of the capital of France…..So Paris shook under their feet, and its streets were tight upon them, and the result of the attacks was the death of no less than 100 Crusaders and the wounding of more than those, and unto Allah is all praise and gratitude.
Let France and those who walk in its path know that they will remain on the top of the list of targets of the Islamic State, and that the smell of death will never leave their noses as long as they lead the convoy of the Crusader campaign and dare to curse our Prophet, and are proud of fighting Islam in France and striking the Muslims in the land of the Caliphate with their planes, which did not help them at all in the streets of Paris and its rotten alleys.
This attack is the first of the storm and a warning to those who wish to learn.
ISIS is bound by obedience to a cult established by an Arabian warlord 1400 years ago. There is every reason for rational thinkers of our modern world to consider Muhammad more as politician than a prophet on Allah’s email list; that surah 59, Al-Hashr, was not a divine inspiration but the convenient invention of a skilful manipulator of febrile mediaeval minds; that he was, in fact, a superbly imaginative fraud, a con-man for his season.
If people wish to believe in the obscure rantings of an aggressive self-aggrandising individual and cite them in extenuation of their crazed politico-militarist ambitions, we should remind them, forcefully when necessary, that it is not a licence to inflict terror on the adult world. They need to accept, that as far as Islam and the Koran is concerned, “When the past comes calling, don’t answer. It has nothing new to say.”