Let's have a look at one example of how Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, spread compassion among the nations. As I explain in my book The Truth About Muhammad, Muhammad led a Muslim force against the Khaybar oasis, which was inhabited by Jews -- many of whom he had previously exiled from Medina. When he did so, he was not responding to any provocation; he encountered the men of Khaybar going out to work their farms, with no idea that they were about to be attacked. One of the Muslims later remembered: "When the apostle raided a people he waited until the morning. If he heard a call to prayer he held back; if he did not hear it he attacked. We came to Khaybar by night, and the apostle passed the night there; and when morning came he did not hear the call to prayer, so he rode and we rode with him....We met the workers of Khaybar coming out in the morning with their spades and baskets. When they saw the apostle and the army they cried, 'Muhammad with his force,' and turned tail and fled. The apostle said, 'Allah Akbar! Khaybar is destroyed. When we arrive in a people's square it is a bad morning for those who have been warned.'"
The Muslim advance was inexorable. "The apostle," according to Muhammad's earliest biographer, Ibn Ishaq, "seized the property piece by piece and conquered the forts one by one as he came to them." Another biographer of Muhammad, Ibn Sa'd, reports that the battle was fierce: the "polytheists...killed a large number of [Muhammad's] Companions and he also put to death a very large number of them....He killed ninety-three men of the Jews..." Muhammad and his men offered the fajr prayer, the Islamic dawn prayer, before it was light, and then entered Khaybar itself. The Muslims immediately set out to locate the inhabitants' wealth. A Jewish leader of Khaybar, Kinana bin al-Rabi, was brought before Muhammad; Kinana was supposed to have been entrusted with the treasure of the Jewish tribes of Arabia, the Banu Nadir. Kinana denied knowing where this treasure was, but Muhammad pressed him: "Do you know that if we find you have it I shall kill you?" Kinana said yes, that he did know that.
Some of the treasure was found. To find the rest, Muhammad gave orders concerning Kinana: "Torture him until you extract what he has." One of the Muslims built a fire on Kinana's chest, but Kinana would not give up his secret. When he was at the point of death, one of the Muslims beheaded him. Kinana's wife was taken as a war prize; Muhammad claimed her for himself and hastily arranged a wedding ceremony that night. He halted the Muslims' caravan out of Khaybar later that night in order to consummate the marriage.
Muhammad agreed to let the people of Khaybar to go into exile, allowing them to keep as much of their property as they could carry. The Prophet of Islam, however, commanded them to leave behind all their gold and silver. He had intended to expel all of them, but some, who were farmers, begged him to allow them to let them stay if they gave him half their yield annually. Muhammad agreed: "I will allow you to continue here, so long as we would desire." He warned them: "If we wish to expel you we will expel you." They no longer had any rights that did not depend upon the good will and sufferance of Muhammad and the Muslims. And indeed, when the Muslims discovered some treasure that some of the Khaybar Jews had hidden, he ordered the women of the tribe enslaved and seized the perpetrators' land. A hadith notes that "the Prophet had their warriors killed, their offspring and woman taken as captives."
"Armstrong: Islam came to spread compassion among the nations of the world," by Siddeek Tawfeek for Islam Online, March 17 (thanks to Jan):
As part of its cultural events, Georgetown University’s CIRS (Centre for International and Regional Studies), School of Foreign Services in Qatar, invited professor Karen Armstrong to deliver a lecture titled, The Core of Our Religious Traditions on 13th March 2011.
Professor Armstrong started her lecture by saying that religion has a main role in that it can provide a major contribution to build a global community where people can live in peace and harmony. She said that some believe that religion is the cause of violence and wars throughout history, refuting this concept by saying that wars and violence are motivated by greed and power. Each religion has its own particular and exclusive insights, but all religions have a thing in common, and that is the belief in the Supreme Being who is God. Words stop and fail when we begin to define God. Professor Armstrong summed up the situation by quoting in Arabic: “Allahu Akbar” (God is greater).
She pointed out that religion teaches us mainly to worship Allah and to do good, and the Qur’an calls for good actions. She quoted the Arabic word: (al-salihat) which includes doing whatever good to help people, be it kindness to orphans, and giving alms to the poor. In other words, The Qur’an calls for compassion, and compassion is the core of the Golden Rule which says: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” This is the bond of suffering. Professor Armstrong quoted the hadith (prophetic saying) of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), where he says: “None of you will be a true believer until he desires for others what he desires for himself.”
Professor Armstrong said that after the September 11th event, the Muslim communities in the West have been exposed to a lot of suffering inflicted upon them. Such a treatment is too far from the Golden Rule of compassion. As a reaction to this injustice toward Muslims, cities in different parts of the world have developed campaigns to promote community compassion among its residents, where Muslim youths are significantly participating in these campaigns, especially in Amsterdam, Holland. The city of Seattle in north-western United States, leads the list of compassionate cities. On the other hand, Professor Armstrong cited Afghanistan and Iraq as examples of venues where compassion is non-existent.
It is doubtful that Professor Armstrong mentioned such inconveniently non-compassionate post-9/11 (and indeed, quite recent) Muslims as Khalid Aldawsari, the would-be jihad mass murderer in Lubbock, Texas; or Muhammad Hussain, the would-be jihad bomber in Baltimore; or Mohamed Mohamud, the would-be jihad bomber in Portland; or Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood jihad mass-murderer; or Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square jihad mass-murderer; or Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, the Arkansas military recruiting station jihad murderer; or Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the would-be Christmas airplane jihad bomber. Mentioning them might have interfered with her narrative of Muslim persecution in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
“Just like a mother has compassion for her child, Allah has compassion for man. There was a time when Allah’s revelation to the Prophet (PBUH) stopped and the Prophet (PBUH) felt desolate, abandoned, and depressed” she added. Later, revelation returned and the Prophet (PBUH), feeling that the grace of the Lord was proclaimed, he went public in his message. The first Sura (chapter) that was revealed to him from Allah was “Al Duha”, whose opening Ayas (verses), Professor Armstrong quoted from memory: “By the morning hours, and the night when it falls. Your Lord has neither forgotten nor forsaken you. And the hereafter is better for you than present life. And verily, your Lord will give you so that you will be pleased.”
Furthermore, Islam came to spread compassion among the tribes, and consequently among the nations of the world. Compassion is very well testified when Allah ordered the Prophet (PBUH) prayers five times a day and not fifty times. This also indicates another aspect of compassion and that is to be moderate in order to be tolerant. The Qur’an preaches compassion by avoiding the infliction of pain upon others; compassion makes us closely akin to God....
Professor Armstrong is well versed in The Qur’an and has intimate knowledge of Islamic discourse and the life of the Prophet. Whenever she mentioned his name, she followed it by the phrase: Peace Be Upon Him (PBUH)....
That's interesting. Has Karen Armstrong finally converted to Islam? Does she believe Muhammad was a prophet?
In an interview with Bill Moyers published on March 2009 at Public Broadcasting Service site, Armstrong states that "Islam is a religion of success.… Mohammed was not an apparent failure. He was a dazzling success, politically as well as spiritually, and Islam went from strength to strength to strength." Armstrong argued that “until the 20th century, Islam was a far more tolerant and peaceful faith than Christianity. The Qur’an strictly forbids any coercion in religion and regards all rightly guided religions as coming from God; and despite the Western belief to the contrary, Muslims did not impose their faith by the sword”.
Armstrong is referring to the dhimma, which was so much more tolerant and peaceful than anything Christianity offered that at the dawn of the twentieth century, there were sixteen to seventeen million Jews in Christian Europe, and one million Jews in Islamic lands. And yes, Islam did not spread by the sword; non-Muslims were subjugated as dhimmis, and made subject to so many deprivations and legalized hardships that they freely converted to Islam just to have a chance at a better life. But no, no one forced them!
In another interview, Armstrong states that "Muslims should try to use the media; they have got to have a Muslim lobby. This is a jihad, an effort, a struggle, that is very important. If you want to change the media, then you have got to make people see that Islam is a force to be reckoned with politically and culturally."
They're doing that quite well already.