3: The Family of Imran (Part III — The Battle of Badr)
Today is the last day I’m working on chapter 3 — if I have to rerererere-reread it, I’m going to die of boredom. Then I’ll go straight to hell and have nothing to drink but boiling water. No fun. So let’s wrap this puppy up and move on to chapter 4, which has actually been much more interesting so far. Don’t get too excited now. It’s still kind of a fucking snore.
The first thing I learned about the Battle of Badr is that everything we know about it comes from two main sources: Mohammed’s biographies and hadith, both of which were written or compiled decades after his death.
Hadith are the everyday practices and traditions from Mohammed’s life, which were transmitted orally and written down much later. Boy, that sounds reputable, doesn’t it? They cover everything from dream interpretation to gardening to dinner table etiquette. I’ve met some Muslims who take hadith very seriously, and others who think hadith are total bullshit. Most of all, though, I’ve met Muslims who cherry pick the best advice and ignore the shit that makes Mohammed look batshitass crazy.
My family falls into that last category for the most part, but my grandmother was all about the hadith. Or at least the hadith as she knew them. It drove me nuts when she would chastise my left-handed cousin with, “The prophet says you should never eat with your left hand!” Why not, grandma? “It’s the hand of the devil!” Well, fuck. All this time I thought it belonged to me. There were many hadith she would pull out of her ass, but this one was her absolute favorite.
Now I don’t know if anything my grandmother believed existed outside of her head. She was home schooled by an imam, and her education consisted entirely of Islamic studies. It ended at the age of 15, when she married my grandfather. For all I know, the imam taught her his personal interpretation of Islam, made shit up as he went along. It definitely shouldn’t be used as an example of what the vast majority of Muslims believe. I just wanted to throw in a little story about my loony toons grandmother.
So, yeah, I never paid much attention to written hadith until I started researching the Battle of Badr to see what these hadith are all about. I honestly have no idea what to make of them, so I’ll just let them do the talking:
Ibn ‘Abbas reported: The Apostle (may peace be upon him) woke up at night; relieved himself, and then washed his face and hands and then again slept.
OK, I don’t know who Ibn ‘Abbas is, but he sounds like a fucking stalker. Can’t you just see it? The guys are all at battle or something, there’s Ibn ‘Abbas, curled up in his bedroll by the fire, peeking out from under his blanket, staring at the prophet all fucking night. It’s seriously creepy.
‘A’isha reported: Whenever the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) intended to sleep after having sexual intercourse, he performed ablution as for the prayer before going to sleep.
Dang, ya’ll, A’isha had a big fucking mouth. TMI, lady. TM fucking I. I guess it’s not terrible though. I mean, at least Mohammed put his johnson to use, unlike some other suspiciously asexual prophets who shall remain nameless. I’m looking at you, Jesus. Other hadith feature Mohammed giving advice to someone who comes to him for help:
Anas b. Malik reported: Umm Sulaim who was the grandmother of Ishaq came to the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) in the presence of ‘A’isha and said to him: Messenger of Allah, in case or woman sees what a man sees in dream and she experiences in dream what a man experiences (i.e. experiences orgasm)? Upon this ‘A’isha remarked: O Umm Sulaim, you brought humiliation to women;may your right hand be covered with dust. He (the Holy Prophet) said to ‘A’isha: Let your hand be covered with dust, and (addressing Umm Sulaim) said: Well, O Umm Sulaim, she should take a bath if she sees that (i.e. she experiences orgasm in dream).
Say what? Did I read that right? Orgasms are “what a man experiences”? Wow, I guess the clitoris wasn’t invented until way later. If a woman has a titillating dream and happens to have an orgasm, she should take a bath to cleanse herself. Why? Because Mohammed said so, that’s why. (P.S. Nice try, Mo, but that tactic didn’t even work for my mom. It sure as hell isn’t going to work for some dead guy who had visions while fasting in the fucking desert.)
And it’s not just limited to questions about sex. Pretty much anything is covered:
Al-Aswad narrated it from ‘A’isha that she observed : I used to wash the head of the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him), while I was in a state of menstruation.
Ladies, it’s a-OK to wash your husband’s hair while you’re on your period. Just in case you were wondering. Which I totally was. So, whew!, now that I’ve got that out of the way, I can get on with life. And here’s my personal favorite:
Anas reported: When the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) entered the privy, and in the hadith transmitted by Hushaim (the words are): When the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) entered the lavatory, he used to say: O Allah, I seek refuge in Thee from wicked and noxious things.
Yessir, you read that right: when Mohammed went to the bathroom to take a dump, he would ask God to protect him from evil. And germs. I don’t even need to comment on this one, because it pretty much says it all.
…fuck it. Seriously? Seriously?? Was he scared that evil spirits were going to fly up his ass while he took a shit? Did God actually listen to this pre-bathroom prayer? Was he up there in heaving going, “No prob, Mo, I got your back! Bombs away, buddy, you drop that deuce!”
To be fair, I did end up finding a couple that were really nice. Like this one:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, “When your servant brings your food to you, if you do not ask him to join you, then at least ask him to take one or two handfuls, for he has suffered from its heat (while cooking it) and has taken pains to cook it nicely.”
All together now: awwwwwwww! Asking your servant to join you for dinner is really, really nice. But you don’t need a fucking hadith to tell you that. My servant, er, husband and I have a rule where the cook never does the dishes. And we figured that one out all on our own. ven though we’re heathens, incapable of loving or caring about anyone but ourselves.
I shouldn’t rip on the hadith too much, because I haven’t read them all, although if more of them are as fucked up as that evil spirits in the bathroom one, I might have to start a second fucking blog.
Moving right along, let’s talk about the battle itself. Wikipedia, don’t let me down! Here we go:
The year is 624. (Or thereabouts. Who really fucking knows?) On one side of the ring, you have Mohammed and his Muslims. On the other, straight outta Mecca, Abu Sufyan and his Qurayshi crew. Let’s get rrrready to rrrrumble!
When the Muslims left Mecca for Medina, they left their money and belongings behind in Mecca. Abu Sufyan, big fat jerk that he was, used their money to fund a caravan from Syria to Mecca. Just to piss the Muslims off. So you have 950 Qurayshi on a trek to Mecca, giving the finger to the Muslims.
What do the Muslims do? They give the finger right back. Mohammed gathers up just over 300 of his best men to go kick their collective ass. And then Xerxes gets totally pissed off, and King Leonidis is all like, “Ready your breakfast and eat hearty. For tonight, we dine in hell!” …just making sure you’re still paying attention.
121. Remember when you set forth in the morning from your house assigning the faithful positions for the battle, God heard everything and knew all.
122. When two of your bands were about to lose heart God befriended them; and in Him should the faithful place their trust.
123. For God had helped you during the Battle of Badr at a time when you were helpless. So act in compliance with the laws of God; you may well be grateful.
Mohammed and his 313 men wail on the Qurayshi, and they whoop some serious ass. The Qurayshi are totally defeated and humiliated. It’s a huge victory for Mohammed, but instead of giving credit to the people who fought their little Muslim asses off, he gives it all to God. Of course.
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?
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.”
Jackpot! God sent down 3000 angels to fight with the 300 Muslims. What. The. Fuck? And here, silly little me just assumed that angels sat on clouds all day long. Turns out they’re warriors! On chargers! I had to look up “chargers” because I’m a dummy, and in case any of you are also dummies, a charger is a horse trained for battle. Angels on cavalry horses. 3000 of them. Yup.
126. And God did not do so but as good tidings for you, and to reassure your hearts for victory comes from God alone, the all-mighty and all-wise —
127. In order that He may cut off a part of unbelievers or overthrow them, and they turn back in frustration.
128. You have no say in the matter if He pardon them or punish them, for they are unjust.
You didn’t think we’d make it out of this chapter without a little divine back-patting, did you? Merciful, wise, blah blah blah. And that basically wraps it up. That’s the Battle of Badr in chapter 3. It’s mentioned some more in chapter 8 with basically the same story line, but something doesn’t add up. Literally.
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.
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.”
Hold up now. God sent only 1000 angels? The fuck? What happened to 3000?
Oh, that God. There he goes being all forgetful again! He is kind of getting up there in years. Maybe that’s why he keeps reminding us of how merciful and all-knowing he is. Maybe he just forgets and he thinks he’s saying it for the first time. My grandmother does that sometimes. Or maybe it’s the angels’ fault. Maybe he actually sent 3000 of them, but 2000 of them pussed out on the way to the battle field. Maybe 2000 of the horses broke down halfway there. Maybe they stopped to get some coffee or something, and they ended up taking the wrong exit. Either that, or it’s a mistake. A mistake in the “infallible word of God” Quran. Blasphemy!!
But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Maybe this is all just one big misunderstanding. God might be talking about a different battle. Perhaps he has so little faith in the Muslims that he has to tip the scales in their favor by sending in reinforcements to every single battle. I check my Quran’s index to just to make sure this is listed under the Battle of Badr. Turns out it is.
So maybe Ahmed Ali is wrong — maybe he mistranslated something or he accidentally listed it as the wrong battle. He takes some serious fucking liberties with his parenthetical additions and his footnotes, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was flat-out wrong about something. I consulted the Skeptic’s Annotated Quran to see if this was in the version they use, too. Guess what? Same fucking contradiction. 3000 angels in one verse, 1000 angels in another.
I was going to check a few other versions online, but what’s the fucking point? The Quran is wrong. It’s filled with contradictions, and anyone who points them out is going straight-the-fuck to hell where their skin burns off and then regenerates so it can burn off again (coming up in chapter 4!). If you don’t believe me, you can look it up for yourselves.
Those, as far as I can tell, are the only mentions of the actual number of angels who made an appearance at the battle. God pats himself on the back again (you’d think he’d have bruises or something from how often he does that):
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.
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.
And then he takes all the fucking credit for himself. Again.
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.
18. That was that, but remember God will make the plots of the unbelievers contemptible.
So basically God is saying this: You silly Muslims, you didn’t fucking win this battle by fighting well. I sent somewhere between 1000 and 3000 angels on horseback to fuck shit up, and I won this battle for you! (You’re welcome.)
That’s it — the last of chapter 3. Thank God! Wait, no, I mean thank me. He didn’t fucking slave away for days reading this tedious crap, trying to make sense of verse after boring verse. He didn’t blow off his husband’s suggestion of having a weekend-long Battlestar Galactica couch marathon. Screw you, God! I’m taking the credit for this one!
Coming up next, chapter 4, The Women. Laws, laws and more laws! Stay tuned.