Juwairiyah: The enslaved Jewish Beauty Turned Muhammad's Wife
In the history of the Arabs that predates the arrival of Islam, never before had there been such wars, certainly none on the scale and magnitude of those that were instigated by Muhammad the founder of Islam. Previous battles in Arabia had mainly centered on tribal differences and were confined to bouts of squabbling with some fights. With the introduction of Islam came not only war, but also an unrelenting genocide and terror that would quickly become integral components in furthering Islam’s expansionism.
The early years of Muhammad’s prophetic carrier, in his native town Mecca, were peaceful. After 13 year of preaching no more than 70 or 80 people had embraced his cause. Not all of them were able fighting men. That explains why those early years were peaceful. Muslims did not have the strength to fight. However soon after Muhammad migrated and settled in Medina, and the Arab population of that town accepted his religion, he began invading and looting first the merchant caravans and then the human settlements to survive and to provide for his followers who had accompanied him and because of their lack of expertise had a difficult time finding employments in Medina.
The fifth year of hijrah (migration to Medina) was an eventful year. That was the year that Muslims fought the famous war of the ditch against the Meccans and soon after that they surrounded the Jewish quarter of Bani Qaynuqa of Medina who were a prosperous population of goldsmiths and blacksmiths and after confiscating their properties (vineyards and homes) and belongings (jewelry and arms) they were banished from their ancestral home. After that he set his sight on another Jewish tribe, the Bani Nadir. He did a similar thing to them. He killed their leaders and many of their able-bodied men and after confiscating their properties and much of their wealth, expelled the rest from Medina. In neither of these cases the Jews offered any resistance. They were taken by surprise and simply surrendered under the superior forces of Muhammad’s men.
Emboldened by his victories over these weaker, non-combative and non-threatening people who agreed to give up their wealth in exchange for their lives and goaded by an insatiable greed and his lust for power this self styled messenger of Allah then set his eyes upon other Jewish tribes of Arabia living outside of Medina. This time it was the turn of Bani al-Mustaliq.
Bukhari, the great biographer of Muhammad, narrates the attack on Bani al-Mustaliq in the following story (Hadith) ( Volume 3, Book 46, Number 717):
"Narrated Ibn Aun:
I wrote a letter to Nafi and Nafi wrote in reply to my letter that the Prophet had suddenly attacked Bani Mustaliq without warning while they were heedless and their cattle were being watered at the places of water. Their fighting men were killed and their women and children were taken as captives; the Prophet got Juwairiya on that day. Nafi said that Ibn 'Umar had told him the above narration and that Ibn 'Umar was in that army.”
This same Hadith is recorded in the Sahih Muslim Book 019, Number 4292, which validates the claim of its authenticity.
Muhammad molded his religion after Judaism and had great expectations that the Jews would be the first to heed his call. Nevertheless, to his chagrin, the Jews had no interest in his religion and he never forgave them for that. You cannot reject a narcissist without invoking his rage. Muhammad was so upset that he changed the direction of the Qiblah (the direction towards which the Muslims pray) from Jerusalem to Kaaba, which at that time was just a temple of idols and said Allah transformed the Jews were transformed into apes and swine because of their transgression (Q. 5:60) and (Q. 2:65). Muhammad made the Jews the scapegoat to rally his followers around himself. He was an expert of that old trick known as “divide n’ conquer”. The Arabs of Medina were generally a bunch of illiterate folk with little skills and often poor who made their living by working in the vineyards of the Jews and rendering other services to them. They where originally immigrants from Yemen while the Jews were the masters of trades and the owners of the lands who had called Medina home, for 2000 years. They were easy targets. Prowling their wealth and making more money by enslaving their women and children and distributing them among the poor Arabs while giving them the assurance that killing their masters and bread givers is not only ethical but also sanctioned by God proved a very lucrative enterprise for Muhammad, one that would change his fortunes, and set this new religion on its eventual path of war and military conquests.
Muhammad sent one of his companions; Bareeda bin Haseeb, to spy on the Bani al-Mustaliq and after assessing the situation he ordered his men to attack. Muslims came out of Madina on 2nd Shaban of 5 A. H. and encamped at Muraisa, a place at a distance of 9 marches from Medina.
The following quote from an Islamic site states:
"The news of the advance of Muslim forces had already reached Haris. In panic, his men deserted him and he himself took refuge in some unknown place. But the local population of Muraisa took up arms against the Muslims and rained showers of arrows in a sustained manner. The Muslims launched a sudden and furious attack and routed the enemy, who suffered huge casualties and nearly 600 were taken prisoners by the Muslims. Among the booty there were 2,000 camels and 5,000 goats.
The prisoners of war included Barra, the daughter of Haris, who later on became Hazrat Juwairiyah, the consort of the Holy Prophet. According to the prevailing practice all the prisoners were made slaves and distributed among the victorious Muslim soldiers. Hazrat Juwairiyah fell to the lot of Thabit bin Qais. She was the daughter of the leader of the clan, and therefore, very much felt the discomfiture and disgrace of being made slave of an ordinary Muslim soldier. Therefore, she requested him to release her on payment of ransom. Thabit agreed to this, if she could pay him 9 Auqias of gold. Hazrat Juwairiyah had no ready money with her. She tried to raise this amount through contributions, and approached the Holy Prophet also in this connection. She said to him "0' Prophet of Allah! I am the daughter of Al Haris bin Zarar, the Lord (chief) of his people. You know that it is by chance that our people have fallen captive and I have fallen to the share of Thabit bin Qais and have requested him to release me considering my status, but he has refused. Please do an act of kindness and save me from humiliation". The Holy Prophet was moved and asked the captive woman if she would like a thing still better. She asked as to what was that thing. He said that he was ready to pay her ransom and marry her if she liked. She agreed to this proposal. So the Holy Prophet (sallal alaho alahie wasallam) paid the amount of ransom and married her.”
The above is the story how Muhammad married Juwairiyah as recorded by Muslim historians. Interestingly Muhammad makes his Allah praise him with verses such as the following: "And surely thou hast sublime morals" (Quran 68:4). and “Indeed in the Messenger of Allah you have a good example to follow" (Quran 33:21). The question that begs an answer is; was he really the standard of sublime morals and good example to follow?
First he attacks a population without warning and only because they were easy targets and wealthy. As usual he kills the unarmed able-bodied men, plunders their belongings, then enslaves the rest. Is this behavior befitting of a messenger of God? The narrator says, “According to the prevailing practice all the prisoners were made slaves and distributed among the victorious Muslim soldiers.” As we read the history of Islam, we see this WAS indeed the prevailing practice of the Muslim Mujahedin, throughout the bloody history of Islam. Yet the question remains unanswered. Is this how a messenger of God should behave? In another place Muhammad called himself the mercy of God for all the worlds 21:107. What is the difference between this “mercy of God” and a ruthless marauding gangster and a tyrant? If Muhammad were not the “mercy of God” and if he were not “a good example to follow”, how else would he have then behaved?
If this was the prevailing practice of the Arabs, couldn’t the messenger of God change it? Why engage in such a barbaric practice at all? Did he not say that his is the example to follow? Why should a man with such a claim behave in so brutal a fashion? Was he merely following the customs of his people or was he attempting to set an example for them to follow?
It is very clear that Muhammad was not "moved" by compassion but by lust. Muhammad did not set free Juwairiyah because he felt sorry for her. He was a man incapable of such feelings. He wanted Juwairiyah for himself. And this is the man 1.2 billion people follow as the perfect example and a messenger of God.
Unlike what most people may think, Muhammad’s intentions were not to convert people to his religion. His real aim was power, wealth and domination. Religion was just the pretext he used to subdue and conquer those he first sought to have dominion over. He weighed each case differently and considered its financial benefits. In most cases it was more profitable if the people did not convert to Islam, but killed and their belongings taken as spoils of war and their wives and children enslaved and soled with huge profits. This could bring sudden wealth to this “messenger of God” that otherwise he could not have. If people were given the choice they could have feared defeat and the harsh consequences and they could have accepted Islam. This would have impeded Muslims of looting them, which meant loss of profit. That is why Muhammad did not deem appropriate to warn the Bani Mustaliq just as he never warned his other victims but attacked them by surprise.
Muslim, another biographer of Muhammad narrates (Book 019, Number 4292):
Ibn 'Aun reported: I wrote to Nafi' inquiring from him whether it was necessary to extend (to the disbelievers) an invitation to accept (Islam) before meeting them in fight. He wrote (in reply) to me that it was necessary in the early days of Islam. The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) made a raid upon Banu Mustaliq while they were unaware and their cattle were having a drink at the water. He killed those who fought and imprisoned others. On that very day, he captured Juwairiya bint al-Harith. Nafi' said that this tradition was related to him by Abdullah b. Umar who (himself) was among the raiding troops.”
Muslim warriors carried on this sunnah (examples set by Muhammad) after his death.
When a Muslim army invaded a town, they would not allow anyone to convert to Islam for three days. During these three days they could kill as many men as they liked, pillage their properties, then rape and enslave their women and children. Only after a town had been decimated and all the young women and children that could be sold as slaves were captured would the brutal campaign of Islamization, with its brutal mandate that all must convert or die, began. However the Jews and the Christians were given protection to live provided they pay a penalty tax called Jizyah and enter into dhimmitude. Dhimmi means protected. But the dhimmis had to pay a hefty jizyah for their protection. This Jizyah was the source of livelihood of the Muslims who through it were able to live like parasites off the labor of the dhimmis. The following Hadith, reported by Bukhari, records the source for this practice based on the admonitions of Muhammad toward the dhimmi (Volume 4, Book 53, Number 388):
Narrated Juwairiya bin Qudama At-Tamimi:
We said to 'Umar bin Al-Khattab, oh Chief of the believers! Advise us." He said, "I advise you to fulfill Allah's Convention (made with the Dhimmis) as it is the convention of your Prophet and the source of the livelihood of your dependents (i.e. the taxes from the Dhimmis.)"
Continuing the story of Juwairiyah, Aisha who accompanied the prophet on this expedition related:
"when the prophet-peace be upon him- distributed the captives of Banu Almustaliq, she (Barrah) fell to the lot of Thabit ibn Qyas. She was married to her cousin, who was killed during the battle. She gave Thabit a deed, agreeing to pay him nine okes of gold for her freedom. She was a very beautiful woman. She captivated every man who saw her. She came to the prophet-peace be upon him-, to ask for his help in the matter. As soon as I saw her at door of my room, I took a dislike to her, for I knew that he would see her as I saw her. She went in and told him who she was, the daughter of al-Harith ibn Dhirar, the chief of his people. She said: "you can see the state to which I have been brought. I have fallen to the lot of Thabit, and have given him a deed for ransom, and I have to come to ask your help in the matter.' He said: 'would you like something better than that? I will discharge your debt, and marry you.' she said: 'yes. O then it is messenger of Allah! Done.' he replied.” http://220.127.116.11/alsalafiyat/juwairiyah.htm
This story ends any further arguments about to the real motives of Muhammad in marrying only the young and beautiful women. As it can be seen Muhammad murders the husband of Juwairiyah, who was also her cousin. Captivated by her beauty, he offers to free her, but only on the condition she marry him. After having come to Muhammad to plead for his help, this self declared Messenger of God, this self proclaimed “mercy of God for humanity”, this self styled “example to follow” by all the Muslims presents her with a most unwelcome choice, for whose price is that she must surrender her freedom. What other choice could there possibly be for her? Muslims apologetics insists that most of Muhammad’s wives were widows. They try to give the impression Muhammad married them as an act of charity. However as it becomes clear these women were young and beautiful. If they were widows, is because Muhammad murdered their husbands. Juwairiyah was just 20 years old then while Muhammad was 58.
Interestingly, the name of Juwairiyah was originally Barra (Pious). Apparently Muhammad did not like this name and so changed her name to Juwairiyah. Even the two Zeinabs who were his wives were previously called Barra and he changed their names as well to Zeinab, It would appear the Prophet had some guilt in becoming sexually intimate with women that were called “Pious”. These seemingly incidental incidents reflect a certain hitherto humanity, a conscience, if you will, to his character, and perhaps hint at his own real, but hidden religiosity. Muhammad was certainly convinced of his own cause. However his understanding of reality was distorted as he had difficulty to distinguish between what is real and what is imagined. In fact Muhammad was more motivated by fear and superstitions than by conscience and ethics.
The rest of the story of Juwairiyah is mixed with half-truths and exaggerations, in the manner that have tainted most of the Hadiths. We read:
It is said that when the Prophet-peace be upon him- departed from the raid with Juwairiyah and was at Dhuljaysh, he entrusted her to one of the Ansar and went forward to Madinah. Her father, al-Harith, discovered that she was held captive and went back o Madinah, bringing his daughter's ransom. When he reached al-Aqia, he looked at the camels he had brought as her ransom and admired the two of them greatly, so he hid them in one of the passes of al-Aqia. Then he came to the Prophet-peace be upon him- dragging the camels behind him, and told him: "My daughter is too noble to be taken as a captive. Set her free by this ransom." the Prophet-peace be upon him- replied: "Isn't it better that we let her choose her self?" that is fair enough," said al-Harith. He came to his daughter and said: "This man is letting you chose so do not dishonor us!" "I choose Allah's messenger," she replied calmly. "What a disgrace!" he exclaimed.
The Prophet-peace be upon him-, then said "where are two camels which you have hidden in al-Aqia in such -and- such a pass?" al-Harith exclaimed: "I bear witness that there is no God but Allah, and that you Muhammad are the messenger of Allah! For none could have know of this but Allah."
Ibn-i-S'ad in his 'Tabaqat', states that the father of Juwairiyah paid her ransom amount, and when she became free, the Holy Prophet married her. As a result of this marriage a11 the prisoners of war numbering about 600 were freed by the Muslims as they did not like that any member of the family in which the holy Prophet was married, be made a slave."
It is hard to determine which part of these stories is true and which part is not. However, what is not so difficult to notice are the many contradictions contained within the main storyline. For instance, we read that Muhammad paid the ransom to Thabit the captor of Juwairiyah, and then married her after freeing her. Then we read that Hairth, the father of Juwairiyah also paid the ransom to set her free. As to the claims of Muhammad having some sort of psychic power, that empowered him to know or tell certain things in advance, for instance knowing certain information such as the whereabouts of camels, we can safely conclude that these claims are false. On many occasions Muhammad demonstrated precisely the opposite, and proved that he was by no means psychic, let alone prescient, as he failed to discern or to obtain through divine blessings the information he so desired. For instance, when he raided Khaibar, he tortured the treasurer of that town, even to the point of death, just so he could extract from him the information that would lead to the whereabouts of the city’s treasures.
It is important to understand the character of the Arab peoples. In this particular instance it was the Arabs who exhibited higher moral standards than their prophet. They released the relatives of Juwairiyah after they learned that Muhammad had married her. Muhammed was devoid of common decency, of having or showing even a hint of the virtues reflective of a moral leader. Without any empathy for those whose misfortune it was to become his victim.
Muslims claim that Juwairiyah became a very devout believer and would spend all of her days praying. The source of this claim can be found in the book Usud-ul-Ghaba. There the author writes that whenever the Prophet used to come to Juwairiyah he would find her praying, then when he would return at a later time he still found her praying. One day he said to her: “Shall I tell you few words, if you say them they will be heavier in the scale than what you have done? You say: 'subhaana allahe 'adada khalqihi, subhana allahe ridhaa nafsehe, subhana allahe zinata 'arshehe, subhana allahe zinata 'arshehe,subhana allah midadda kalimaatihi.' (Praise Allah as many times as number of his creatures, and as much as pleases him, and as much as the weight of his throne, and as much as the ink for his words).
One wonders why Muslims spend 5 times a day praying and waste that much man hours unproductively when they have such a simple and unbeatable formula to praise Allah?
Let us look at this situation from a more realistic perspective. Put yourself in the shoes of a young woman who has just fallen into the lot of a murderer of her husband who also happened to be her cousin! As relatives, they grew up together. They were more than just husband and wife. They were first playmates, then lovers and companions for life. If you were a woman in Juwairiyah’s situation, how would you feel about the killer of your husband and many of your relatives and loved ones? Suppose further you don’t have anywhere to go to. Without any viable options for escape, your only choice would be to surrender as a sex slave to this old man, one who is the king of his people and has plenty of money or to be given away to one of his soldiers. Under whose captivity would you rather be? I believe the answer is clear. Juwairiah had no choice but to accept Muhammad’s offer to marry her. Now what would any woman do if such an old man as this came to her for sex or company? She probably would devise a survival ploy. That is what Juwairiyah did. Any time she noticed Muhammad is coming, she pretended that she was busy praying, hoping that he would leave her and go to his other wives to satisfy his wretched lust. Yet, as we see, Muhammad was a cunning old man. He soon prescribed a sentence and told her that this “will be heavier in the scale” than praying all day long, robbing her from excuses to shun him when he desired her.
Ali Sina is the editor of Faithfreedom.org. He is has contributed in 'Beyond Jihad - Critical Voices from Inside Islam'. His latest book is Understanding Muhammad: The Psychobiography of Allah’s Prophet.