8: The Spoils of War
Chapter 8, Al-Anfāl, literally translates to The Spoils of War. Or Booty if your translator is less concerned with image. The chapter is sort of a neener neener neener about the Battle of Badr, which we discussed in depth back in back in chapter 3. I highly recommend reading that post before this one so you’re not totally lost. It covers the Battle of Badr in the Quran and hadith. Plus it has some stories about my batshitasscrazy grandma and the infamous hadith where Mohammed prays to keep evil spirits from flying up his butthole. No, really. Dude had some serious fucking issues.
Anyway, if you think the name Al-Anfāl sounds familiar, it’s because that was Saddam Hussein’s codename for his genocidal campaign against the Kurds:
Al Anfal is the eighth sura or chapter of the Qur’an which explains the triumph of 319 followers of the new Muslim faith over almost 900 pagans at the battle of Badr in 642 AD. Al Anfal literally means the spoils (of war) and was perhaps quite fitting for a military campaign of extermination and looting commanded by Ali Hassan al-Majid. His orders informed jash (literally “donkey’s foal” in Kurdish) units that taking cattle, sheep, goats, money, weapons and even Kurdish women was legal.
Oh lawsie mercy. That last sentence gave me a fucking ulcer. That’s the kind of shit the Quran is inspiring? Ooooh whee! Strap yourselves in, babies, this might be a painful one.
1. THEY ASK YOU of (benefits accruing as) spoils of war. Tell them: “The benefits belong to God and His Messenger.” So fulfil your duty to God and keep peace among yourselves. Obey God and the Prophet, If you really believe.
OK, now see that (benefits accruing as) right there? That’s Ahmed Ali helping God out a little. And he does it a lot in this chapter. A lot lot. Fucker.
Anyway, the Battle of Badr was the first really big battle that the Muslims won. They were kicking ass and taking slaves names. On second thought, maybe “taking slaves” is really more appropriate. There was a ton of war booty — both the monetary kind and the sexy kind — and Mohammed’s army wanted to know how to divvy that shit up. God has the answers to all their questions: he tells Mohammed to tell his people that the war booty belongs to (dun dun dunnnnnnn!) God and Mohammed!
Now usually when I read something like this, I ask myself cui bono, who benefits from this? This is a pretty fucking obvious one, right? I especially like how God tosses in that bit about how if you really believe, you’ll listen to whatever Mohammed says. How very fucking convenient! If I didn’t know any better, I’d guess that this God character doesn’t actually exist and that Mohammed was manipulating people into giving him more than his fair share of the war booty. ….oh wait. That’s exactly what’s going on. And here I thought Islam was this great big egalitarian group hug. …oh wait. I’m not that fucking naïve.
2. Only they are true believers whose hearts fill up with awe when the name of God is mentioned; and their faith is further strengthened when His messages are read out to them; and those who place their trust in their Lord,
3. Who are firm in devotion, and spend of what We have given them,
4. Are true believers. There are for them (high) ranks with their Lord, and pardon and noble provision.
That’s right: the only true believers are those who shit their pants at the name of God. So all those moderate Muslims out there who don’t burst out into hysterics at hearing “Allah” are pantywaists. Why does God pause to mention this? Whhhy? Because the very next verse is all about how some people didn’t agree with Mohammed’s war-mongering:
5. As your Lord sent you from your home (to fight) for the true cause, a section of the faithful were averse,
6. Who argued with you about the matter even after it had become quite clear, as if they were being pushed into (the arms of) death as they waited.
7. Though God promised that one of two columns (would fall to you), you desired the one that was not armed. But God wished to confirm the truth by His words, and wipe the unbelievers out to the last,
8. So that Truth may be affirmed and falsehood negated, even though the sinners be averse.
Pantywaists! Some people believed in God, but they didn’t believe believe. They didn’t throw themselves on the floor and start convulsing at the mere mention of God. And they were opposed to Mohammed’s God’s chop off their heads & fingers strategy. Guess what? They’re sinners! Sinners I can fucking relate to. What’s the point of making people chop off other peoples’ heads? Especially when you can just snap your fingers and *poof* all those people out of existence? Why make people do it? Isn’t it a sin to kill someone? Isn’t it?? It is, but only if they’re Muslim. Don’t you love loopholes?
Also, did you cringe when God says he wanted to wipe the unbelievers out to the last? I bet that one’s a hit at fundie mosques all over the world! And here’s another one that I bet they just love to pull out:
65. O Prophet, urge the faithful to fight. If there are twenty among you with determination they will vanquish two hundred; and if there are a hundred then they will vanquish a thousand unbelievers, for they are people devoid of understanding.
66. God has lightened your burden as He knows you are weak: So, if there are a hundred men of firm determination among you, they will vanquish two hundred; and if there are a thousand of you they will vanquish two thousand by the will of God, for God is with those who are determined.
You don’t need big numbers. Not when God’s on your team! All it takes is a handful of determined men to fuck shit up. It’s not that much of a stretch to think that all it takes is one guy with a really good bomb vest. Besides, it’s your duty as a Muslim to do whatever it takes to fight the infidels. Check it out:
59. The infidels should not think that they can bypass (the law of God). Surely they cannot get away.
60. Prepare against them whatever arms and cavalry you can muster, that you may strike terror in (the hearts of) the enemies of God and your own, and others besides them not known to you, but known to God.
Strike terror in (the hearts of) the enemies of God. (The hearts of) is, of course, Ahmed Ali’s addition to lighten things up. Softens the blow a little, doesn’t it? Oh, no no, you shouldn’t actually use violence against them. Why that would be downright uncivilized. No, God just wants you to scare ‘em, shake ‘em up a little! Right. Ahmed Ali, God’s little helper monkey. Take out that part and the verse takes on a whole different meaning: strike terror in the enemies of God. It says so in the fucking Quran. Need a little more coaxing? How’s this?:
28. Know that your worldly possessions and your children are just a temptation, and that God has greater rewards with Him.
Your things, your family — that’s temptation. God will give you even better stuff and an even better family! Oh, go on. Blow yourself up. I’ll just be waiting back here at headquarters where it’s, you know, safe and stuff.
Yeah. I’m beginning to see how that works. Thanks, Quran!
9. Remember when you prayed to your Lord for help, He heard you and said: “I shall send a thousand angels following behind you for your aid.”
10. He gave you the good news only to reassure your hearts, for victory comes from God alone, and certainly God is all-mighty and all-wise.
God is all-mighty and all-wise, alright. And really, really bad at math. In chapter 8, God says he sent down 1000 angels to the Battle of Badr. In chapter 3?
3:124. Remember when you said to the faithful: “Is it not sufficient that your Lord should send for your help three thousand angels from the heavens?
3:125. Indeed if you are patient and take heed for yourselves, and the (enemy) come rushing at you suddenly your Lord will send even five thousand angels on chargers sweeping down.”
You know how after some people go fishing, they brag about that great catch? It’s thisbig! And then a week later, that same fish is THISBIG! And then a month later, it’s a OMFG THE BIGGEST FISH IN THE ENTIRE WORLD! That’s what’s up with those contradicting verses.
See, I keep forgetting that the Quran isn’t arranged in chronological order — it’s arranged by length, with the longest chapters up front and the shortest in back. So I looked up the chronological order of Mohammed’s revelations. Turns out chapter 8 was revealed before chapter 3.
Right after the Battle of Badr, Mohammed said that God sent down 1000 angels (on cavalry horses, no less) to do the dirty work for him. And a little later on, when 1000 didn’t seem so impressive anymore, he raised the number to 3000. …OMFG THE BIGGEST ANGEL ARMY IN THE ENTIRE WORLD!
Moving right along:
11. A blanketing sleep came over you as a (measure of) security from Him, and He sent down rain from the skies to cleanse you, and to remove the plague of Satan, and to strengthen your hearts and steady your steps. (12) And the Lord said to the angels: “I am with you; go and strengthen the faithful. I shall fill the hearts of infidels with terror. So smite them on their necks and every joint, (and incapacitate them),”
So at the Battle of Badr, God slipped some roofies into the camel milk to knock the Muslims out. And then he made it rain to cleanse the Debbil out of them. Which, you know, seems pretty fucking retarded when you think about it. It’s not like he actually proved anything to anyone — they were all passed out when it happened. Plus if he’s an all-powerful God, what’s the point of that little song and dance? Why not snap his fingers and *poof* everyone clean? Why do things the hard way?
Also, God tells the angels to smite the infidels on the necks and on every joint. OK, I get it. Decapitate the fuckers. But what’s with the every joint thing? I checked out a couple of other translations:
A. J. Arberry:12. When thy Lord was revealing to the angels, ‘I am with you; so confirm the believers. I shall cast into the unbelievers’ hearts terror; so smite above the necks, and smite every finger of them!Pickthall:12. When thy Lord inspired the angels, (saying): I am with you. So make those who believe stand firm. I will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Then smite the necks and smite of them each finger.Yusuf Ali:12. Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): “I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.”
4. So, when you clash with the unbelievers, smite their necks until you overpower them, then hold them in bondage. Then either free them graciously or after taking a ransom, until war shall have come to end. If God had pleased He could have punished them (Himself), but He wills to test some of you through some others. He will not allow the deeds of those who are killed in the cause of God to go waste.
A. J. Arberry:
47:4. When you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks, then, when you have made wide slaughter among them, tie fast the bonds; then set them free, either by grace or ransom, till the war lays down its loads. So it shall be; and if God had willed, He would have avenged Himself upon them; but that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of God, He will not send their works astray.
Decapitation. Slaughter. Imprisonment. Ransom. God’s fucking mercy and graciousness in action, ladies and gentlemen! I especially love the bit about how he could have punished these people himself if he wanted, but it’s all just a test for the Muslims. Better behead those fuckers so you don’t fail it!
But, alas, I digress again. It’s easy when you’re reading a book that’s so all over the fucking place. Back to chapter 8:
13. For they had opposed God and His Apostle; but whosoever opposes God and his Apostle (should know) that God is severe in retribution.
14. For you is this (punishment) to taste, for the infidels the torment of Hell.
I had to reread that passage because I can’t figure out who exactly God is talking to when he says “For you is this (punishment) to taste.”
He starts out by saying that they — the infidels — have earned his wrath for thinking Mohammed is a batshitass crazy son of a bitch. And then he says “For you is this (punishment) to taste,” as if he’s still talking about the infidels. But then everything goes to shit when he says “for the infidels the torment of hell.” Huh? Who’s tasting the punishment? The Muslims? But why would they get punished? Or are the Muslims getting a taste of the infidels’ punishment? Um, by slaughtering them? Are they supposed to relish the fact that they’re butchering people, cutting off their heads and fingers?
Gross, dude. That entire passage kind of makes my stomach turn. I wondered if another translation would shed some light on this subject. AJ Arberry is usually pretty straightforward in his translations — less parentheticals, less apologetics. Check his version out, starting at verse 12:
A. J. Arberry:
12. When thy Lord was revealing to the angels, ‘I am with you; so confirm the believers. I shall cast into the unbelievers’ hearts terror; so smite above the necks, and smite every finger of them!
13. That, because they had made a breach with God and with His Messenger; and whosoever makes a breach with God and with His Messenger, surely God is terrible in retribution.
14. That for you; therefore taste it; and that the chastisement of the Fire is for the unbelievers.
Yeah. Still fucking confusing. It still sounds like Muslims are supposed to gleefully slaughter the infidels and send them on their merry way to hell. Or, hell, maybe not. I don’t know. Either way, this is all in a book that claims to be free from doubt and complexity. And yet here it is: doubt and fucking complexity in the Quran. Infallible? Hardly. Full of bullshit? You betcha! Long-winded, boring and repetitive? Ugh, don’t remind me. Lets get on with the show so I don’t keep thinking about headless, fingerless people:
15. O believers, when you meet unbelievers on the field of battle, do not turn your backs to them.
16. For any one who turns his back on that day, except to manoeuvre or rally to his side, will bring the wrath of God on himself, and have Hell as abode; and what an evil destination!
We ran across this one before, too. If you’re a Muslim and you retreat in battle: game over. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, go straight to hell. But don’t forget — if you die fighting for God, you don’t have to wait around in your grave for the Day of Judgment. You get to bypass the velvet rope and go straight to heaven where you can hang out with some houris, get handjobs from eternally youthful boy-servants, get crunk up on some divine wine, and eat as much fruit as your heart desires. Oh, and you get to oil up God’s dick for the rest of eternity. Fun!
17. It was not you who killed them, but God did so. You did not throw what you threw, (sand into the eyes of the enemy at Badr), but God, to bring out the best in the faithful by doing them a favour of His own. God is all-hearing and all-knowing.
Oh. Their. God. Glory hog! God is exactly the kind of bitchass show-boater I wouldn’t want on my team. As if all those “I am so mercifuls” and “I am so greats” weren’t bad enough. He spends half the book sucking the shit out of his own ass, and now he takes all the credit for the Battle of Badr? What a bitch! Give cedit where credit is due. And no, I don’t mean the Muslims who were out there beheading and befingering those 900 Quraysh. I’m talking about the 1000-3000 invisible angels on 1000-3000 invisible cavalry horses, flying around the battle field, fucking shit up…invisibly.
Also, double you tee eff at God’s fighting technique. He threw sand in the Quraysh’s eyes and made them lose. It makes me wonder if the Muslims put Vaseline on their faces and hid razor blades in their hair before heading out to that street brawl. Fight dirty, bitches — scratch, bite and cut. Thug life!
30. Remember, when the infidels contrived to make you a prisoner or to murder or expel you, they plotted, but God also planned; and God’s plan is the best.
31. When Our messages were read out to them, they said: “We have heard. We could certainly compose (writings) like them if we choose. They are but only tales of long ago.”
32. They had also said: “If this be the truth from you, O God, then rain down on us stones from the skies, or inflict a grievous punishment upon us.”
33. But God would not choose to punish them while you are in their midst, nor afflict them when they are seeking forgiveness.
So the Quraysh wanted to put the hurting on Mohammed. Can’t say I blame them — the guy sounds like a fucking douchebag of the highest order. But God prevented it from happening. Yaaaaay.
I really dig how the Quraysh sound like a lot of atheists I know. They are but only tales of long ago. Why, yes. Yes they are. If this be the truth from you, O God, then rain down on us stones from the skies, or inflict a grievous punishment upon us. Rain down stones? Why didn’t I think of that? I went with lightening which, you know, happens naturally. But raining down stones? That would be kind of impressive. Props to the Quraysh.
Needless to say, that whole raining down of stones shit never happened. Why? Because God didn’t want to stone the Quraysh while the Muslims were nearby. Apparently God’s aim totally fucking sucks. And if he accidentally kills someone, it’s like, really hard to bring them back. You can’t just go *poof* and bring them back! …unless you’re all-powerful, all-knowing, master of the motherfucking universe God. Yeah. God should totally change his name to Toilet because he’s so full of shit.
Anyway, God goes blah blah blah about how great he is, and then we finally hit the jackpot:
41. Know that one-fifth of what you acquire as booty (of war) is for God and His Apostle, and for relatives and orphans, the poor and wayfarers, if you truly believe in God and what We revealed to Our votary on the day of victory over the infidels when the two armies clashed (at Badr). For God has the power to do any thing.
20%. That’s Mohammed’s cut. But he’s so generous that he shares his loot with his relatives and with Toilet God. One for me and one for my homies! Only one of his homies doesn’t need money or slaves or camels or much of anything. God’s preferred method of payment is to get his dick sucked by Muslims 5 times a day.
Mohammed proves he’s not a total asshole by throwing God’s share at people who need it. He gives it to orphans, travelers and the needy. Kind of like how Christian missionaries go to really impoverished areas and trade food for faith. Zing! I’m an equal opportunity mocker. Go cry to Jesus about it, bitches.
Anyway, about those war captives:
70. O Prophet, tell the captives you have taken: “If God finds some good in your hearts, He will reward you with something better than was taken away from you, and forgive your sins, for God is forgiving and kind.”
71. If they try to deceive you, remember they have deceived God before. So He gave you mastery over them, for God is all-knowing and all-wise.
Oh. Their. God. Insensitive much?? God wants Mohammed to tell the captives that if he feels like it, he’ll replace the things they lost with even better things. What’s that? Your family that we just massacred right in front of you? Meh. They sucked. God will give you a better one. P.S. You’re my slave now!
Oh yeah. I know that would make me feel all better if I’d just watch my husband get killed by my captors. Ohz noz, my husband is dead…but who fucking cares? This guy’s God is going to abrogate the shit out him and give me a hotter, funnier, Muslimer husband! Cha-ching!
Also, I find it really interesting that God says “mastery over them.” Like it’s no big deal. Owning another fucking human being — no big deal. Right. I don’t pull out the C word that often, but he’s got it coming: God is a cunt.
That’s all I’ve got for chapter 8. Coming up next: chapter 9, Repentance. I have a feeling God’s going to be greasing up his dick even more than usual. I’m so excited, I could claw my fucking eyes out. Stay tuned!