I'm noting the intersection today of the criticisms of Muhammed for his 'sins' and the criticisms of the Bush Administration's attitude toward water boarding.
What most people didn't object to in 2002 while the fear of terrorism was a close as their breath, with the subsiding of that fear and memory, the public is now moreso criticizing Bush and Co for failing to live up to American ideals during time of war.
[It is noted that indeed there were many who objected DURING the war.]
In this context, I offer a review of the biography of Muhammed:
To understand the prophet we have to understand the environment he had to work with and the culture of chivalry that he was part of.He was not born in an age of social security, old age homes and political correctness.
Muhammad's mission emerged in a war zone, if u want a modern parallel think of the Krips and Bloods magnified by a thousand, Think ethnic cleansing in Bosnia/Serbia. For those with more historical erudtiion think of Japan in the Muromachi period.
In the midst of such turmoil and suffering a noble warrior emerges, his basic message to the people is that we are all the same, no tribe or person is superior to another there is only one god ie we are all part of the unity of things.
This in a nutshell is the sahadah or testimony of the Islamic faith. He preaches the message in peace at first and maintains this peaceful mission despite persecution of him and his followers. When the persecution becomes too great and the powers that be refuse to change their evil ways, god grants him the authority to fight. Muhammad takes up the mantle for war even though his army is still low in their numbers and their resources pitiful. Miraculously with he help of God, Muhammed an his followers are able to overcome their adversaries and are able to create a new civilisation. This is how a Hollywood movie would portray the prophets life, it's a lot more digestible now isn't it?
Muhammad sanctioned the death of a lot of people, but he spared the lives of a lot of people too even though he would be justified in taking their lives as an example to others or in self defense.
Some people will avoid the truth and become enemies of it,or it is their dharma to protect the old order,rightly or wrongly(as is the case of his own uncle)This will lead to more bloodshed injustice and suffering than if they are allowed to live.
God wont just wave a wand and everyone will be cleansed and purified, this defeats the whole purpose of human existence,destiny and responsibility. When we are able to extricate our limited grasp of the human experience from our cosy suburban cages we can see the true genius of the prophet. In a war situation, a person has to be a warrior, The prophet of Islam is the greatest warrior that ever lived, he did not shy away from the responsibilities and the horrors of war, for someone who was of such a sensitive and ascetic disposition it must have been unbearably painful.In Muhammed we see the personification of Arjuna in the Bhagvad Gita.Muhammed waged war,selflessly and with absolute trust in gods will(bhakti).He did not indulge in the power and privelige his victories bought him(he married mostly widows and died with hardly anything to his name.) In the character of the prophet Muhammad we see the character of God, that is what is meant by his saying `he who has seen me has seen god'. As god says his wrath is great, but his mercy overrideth his wrath.In fact gods wrath is illusionary, it is a mercy in disguise.(that is an esoteric principle which need exploration)
Muhammad was harsh and decisive when necessary, in life harshness is necessary ,let alone in a period of warring states. The harshness he displayed is as the harshness of god. Muhammad was equally generous (he spared the jew that bewitched him,forgave the people of Taif etc etc. He always maintained that the peaceful path was superior to the path of confrontation.
Muhammad and Islam is problem for people who have a problem with accepting reality as it is and want spirituality to be an escape from facing the truth about ourselves and the evil within us.
All Reliogus mythology,in fact all moral systems emerge out of conflict betwen opposing forces,so it seems very peculiar that Islam is singled out as being inhernetly violent, when in fact all moral systems we know in any civilisation have pretty much the same origins.Christ did not bring a new civilisation,he was a reformer of an existing one. Muhammed integrated both yin and yang of the spiritual path.He was able to be the sitting and walking Buddha in one.In his example i can see the spiritual perfection aspired towards by a sage in every religion,he managed to reconcile heaven and earth and mastered and mediated between both.
Muhammad is a true example to all humanity of how spirituality should be exercised in all conditions of life,not just when we have the luxury to live in an ideological bubble. A truly remarkable Human Being.
-jin (Amazon book reviewer)
I also take just a moment to say that I find some comments here concerning those who follow Islam to be as 'extremist' as the recent characterizations here of Islam and the people who practice that faith.
I have known many Muslim people who are in no way extremists, violent or ignorant.
On the whole, of those I've met, I've found them to be intelligent, reverent, and much more mild mannered than most who participate on this blog!
From my studies of the history of all religions it seems apparent that each 'prophet' came asa wayshower to a different population at various times thru history. Mohammed delivered amessage that could be heard and accepted by the desert population of the Middle East, and so it would come as no surprise that it spoke to them 'from where they were'. I find it helpful tohear the teachings (whatever the religion) with that in mind.