Posts Tagged ‘Abu Bakr’

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Audio: the first rich Arab patron of jihad

January 3, 2013

Abu Bakr sponsored the military campaigns in the early days of conquest by Muhammad.  Khadija gave Muhammad enough money to help him attract followers, but it was the even wealthier Abu Bakr who helped buy the weapons and horses of Islam’s holy war against unbelievers.

A new recording from the British Islamic studios of Al Baseera highlight’s Muhammad’s praise for Abu Bakr’s role in funding the “deen” (or “dīn,” which can be translated from Arabic to English as “religion”).

It’s just 80 seconds long—take a listen:

Abu Bakr famously contributed all of his money to fund the Battle of Tabuk, an opening salvo in the Byzantine-Arab wars.  The implicit theme of messages like this is for rich Muslims to follow suit and fund jihad today.

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The fairy tale of Muhammad dying in poverty

July 8, 2012

The would-be heirs of Muhammad’s wealth: Ali (left) and Fatima (right), with their children on Muhammad’s lap

Why would Fatima and Abu Bakr engage in a protracted dispute over the inheritance of the estate of Muhammad (see the Sahih Muslim, Book 19, No. 4354) if, as Muhammad’s wife Aisha (“Mother of the Believers”) described, Muhammad died a poor man with his armor mortgaged to a Jew in Medina?  What happened to the enormous wealth of Khadija, Muhammad’s first wife, after she died?  Would he not have inherited it?

These provocative questions are raised and answered in an excellent 10 minute lecture by Iraqi exile I.Q. al Rassooli, author of Lifting the Veil and blogger at the-koran.blogspot.com and inthenameofallah.org.

This talk also covers many issues which we have highlighted over the past few years about Muhammad’s personal accumulation of wealth through taxes (particularly khums and fai) that he claimed were mandated by Allah.

We don’t normally post audio that’s longer than five minutes, but it is worth the time:

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Abu Bakr: a taxing companion

July 3, 2012

Muhammad had a knack for recruiting the wealthiest people to Islam before bothering with the poor.  Like the first person to convert to Islam (Khadija) the second person, Abu Bakr, was also very wealthy.  Abu Bakr was a rich cloth merchant (an early fashion designer, if you will) whose business trips took him as far as Syria and Yemen.

But once he fell under the spell of Khadija and Muhammad, Abu Bakr became transformed into a jihadist Daddy Warbucks—the businessman who helped ensure the Prophet had the money he needed to raise an army to fight the infidel.  Abu Bakr endeared himself to Muhammad by forfeiting all of his household wealth to fund the war effort.  At one point, Abu Bakr slapped a Jewish rabbi in the face who questioned the Koranic verse 57:11 that suggested Allah needed a loan.  Some have explained that the true reason behind the altercation was that Abu Bakr approached the rabbi to obtain a loan on Muhammad’s behalf, and the rabbi refused.

Despite Muhammad’s love for Abu Bakr, the #1 companion faced difficulties too.  The most notable opposition came from Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad, and her husband Ali.  When Muhammad died, Abu Bakr seemed eager to retain Muhammad’s estate to propagate Islam, and fought off the attempts of Fatima to claim personal inheritance from her father’s ownership of an orchard at Fedak.

In so doing, Abu Bakr basically imposed a 100 percent estate tax on the deceased Muhammad’s wealth and appropriated it for the needs of the burgeoning caliphate.  The money grab/inheritance dispute between Abu Bakr on one side and Fatima Ali on the other would result in the Sunni-Shia split that has roiled the Islamic world ever since.

Even after he was named the first caliph after Muhammad’s death, Abu Bakr continued earning income from selling clothes.  Noting the unseemliness of this behavior, Muhammad’s #2 companion, Umar, arranged a salary for Abu Bakr.  But Abu Bakr generally seemed more concerned about the treasury of Islam, the bayt al-mal, than with his own portfolio.  He made his mark on the early caliphate by pledging to fight those who refused to pay zakat, rejecting the leniency his advisers urged.

One author has written that under the circumstances of zakat non-payment, “It is not strange… that Abu Bakr and his government should have undertaken the killing of innocent Muslims and the destruction of their sanctity and the enslavement of their women and progeny.”  No, not strange at all!  Given Abu Bakr’s background of spending his whole adult life and net worth to help obtain early victories for Islam, it is little wonder he undertook a campaign to kill tax debtors who he felt were shortchanging the cause.

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Allah requested loan, offered interest

November 27, 2011

The Koran, Sura 57 (“Iron”), Verse 11 says “Who is he that will lend a generous loan to God?”  The verse continues by assuring that Allah will “double it” as repayment to the lender.

Several passages of the Koran parallel this verse.  From a theological standpoint, it is curious that an all-powerful god would request a loan from the people he created.  An outsider could wonder, as did some of the Jews in Arabia during the time of Muhammad, if “Allah is poor and we are rich.”

But Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s best friend and himself a rich man, did not like being confronted with the possibility of Allah’s state of financial dependence or the verse from the Koran which suggested it.  Here’s the story of the Jewish rabbi Finhas, who resisted Abu Bakr’s appeals by saying:

“We have no need of Allah, but He has need of us! We do not beseech Him as He beseeches us. We are independent of Him, but He is not independent of us. If He were independent of us, He would not ask for our money as your master Muhammad does [for a war against Mecca]. He forbids usury to you, but pays us interest; if He were independent of us He would give us no interest.”

At this, Abu Bakr became angry, and struck Finhas violently, saying, ‘I swear by Him in whose hands my life rests that if there were no treaty between us I would have struck off your head, you enemy of Allah!’

Abu Bakr wished he could cut off Finhas’s head for pointing out the contents of the Koran and the contradictions of riba.  Even assuming that the loan-to-Allah verse is a non-literal expression, we are still left with the contradiction that Allah will “double” the repayment of loans made to him, which sounds a lot like the riba (interest) or usury which is outlawed throughout most other texts of Islam.

Many Muslims now claim in public that the loan to Allah in Verse 11 is actually charity for the poor, but the preceding verse of the Koran suggests, as Finhas suspected, a more warlike purpose:  “Those among you who contributed before the victory, and fought, shall be differently treated from certain others among you!” (Koran 57:10).  Charity toward “victory”?  Charity toward “fighting”?  Charity toward “iron”?  No—in context, the loan does not appear to be for charity for poor people, but financing the conquest of Mecca and the establishment of the Islamic state.

Rewards promised to those who give their money toward the military victory of Islam are frequent throughout the Koran.