This is another excerpt from Bill Warner’s book Abridged Koran where the verses of Koran are arranged in their chronological order and provided with facts from prophet Muhammad’s life, giving context for them.
CHAPTER 11 JIHAD, WAR AGAINST ALL
4:42 On that day, the unbelievers and those who disobeyed the Messenger will wish they could sink into the earth for they cannot hide a single thing from Allah.
In Mecca, Mohammed had divided the community into Islam and those of the native Arabic religions. In Mecca he adopted all the classical Jewish stories to prove his prophesy and spoke well of the Jews. But there were almost no Jews living in Mecca, and therefore, no one to differ with him.
In Medina half of the population were Jews, who let Mohammed know that they disagreed with him. So in Medina, Mohammed argued with Jews as well as the non-Muslim Arabs. Even though there were very few in the town who were Christian, Mohammed argued against them as well. All non-Muslims were verbally attacked in Medina.
I415 It was thirteen years after he started preaching and one to two years after going to Medina that Mohammed prepared for war as commanded by Allah. He would fight his enemies, those who were not Muslims.
Jihad — The First Killing
Mohammed sent forth his fighters on seven armed raids to find the trade caravans headed to Mecca.
Mohammed sent Abdullah out with eight men. A caravan of the Quraysh passed by the Muslims as they overlooked the road from a rise. The caravan was loaded with leather and raisins. When the Quraysh saw them they were scared because they had slept not too far from here, but one of the Muslims had a shaved head. Now a shaved head was a mark of pilgrim so the Quraysh felt better. They were safe. They were also in a sacred month when weapons were not carried.
I425 The Muslims took council. They were in a dilemma. If they attacked the caravan now, they would be killing in a sacred month. Luckily, the sacred month ended today and tomorrow there would be no taboo about killing. But there was another problem. By tonight they would be in the sacred area of Mecca. In the sanctified area, there could never be any killing. They hesitated and talked about what to do. They decided to go ahead and kill as many as possible today and take their goods.
Islam drew first blood against the Quraysh of Mecca. They attacked the unarmed men. Amr was killed by an arrow. He was the first man to be killed in jihad. One man escaped and they captured two prisoners. They took their camels with their goods and headed back to Mohammed in Medina. On the way they talked about how Mohammed would get one fifth of the stolen goods, spoils.
When they got back, Mohammed said that he did not order them to attack in the sacred month. So he held the caravan and the two prisoners in suspense and refused to do anything with the goods or prisoners. The prisoners said, “Mohammed has violated the sacred month, shed blood therein, stolen goods and taken prisoners.” But the Koran said:
2:216 You are commanded to fight although you dislike it. You may hate something that is good for you, and love something that is bad for you. Allah knows and you do not. When they ask you about fighting in the holy month, say: Fighting at this time is a serious offense, but it is worse in Allah’s eyes to deny others the path to Him, to disbelieve in Him, and to drive His worshippers out of the Sacred Mosque. Idolatry is a greater sin than murder. They will not stop fighting you until you turn away from your religion. But any of you who renounce your faith and die an unbeliever, will have your works count for nothing in this world and the world to come. These people will be prisoners of the Fire, where they will live forever.
To resist the doctrine of Islam and to try and persuade Muslims to drop their faith is worse than killing. Before Islam, the rule of justice in Arabia was a killing for a killing, but now to resist Islam was worse than murder. Those who argue against Islam and resist Islam can be killed as a sacred act. The spoils were distributed and a ransom set for the prisoners. The men who had killed and stolen were now concerned as to whether they would get their take of the spoils. So once again the Koran spoke:
2:218 Those that have embraced the Faith, and those that have fled their land and fought for the cause of Allah, may hope for Allah’s mercy. Allah is forgiving and merciful.
As Muslims who had been exiled and fought they were blessed by Allah. They received their spoils and Mohammed took his one fifth of the spoils of war.
You (Quraysh) count war in the holy month a grave matter
But graver is your opposition to Mohammed and your unbelief.
Though you defame us for killing Amr
Our lances drank Amr’s blood
We lit the flame of war. —Abu Bakr, the first caliph