The following drawings and text were created by F. W. Burleigh, author of the book, It's All About Muhammad. Click on the images to see them larger.
Muhammad was born and raised in Mecca, and it was in Mecca that he began to believe that he was chosen as God’s messenger. This belief was likely due to epileptic seizures that gave him feelings of communing with the divine. Believing himself to be a prophet, he crafted a monotheistic religion based on ideas he took from Judaism and Christianity, but claimed his source was God. He feuded with the Meccans over their belief in multiple gods. The Meccans, who thought he was demon possessed, ridiculed him and persecuted his followers, leading him to threaten to “bring them slaughter.” Because of the disruptions to their society caused by his aggressive proselytizing, the Meccans finally decided they had to kill him to preserve their way of life. But he learned of their plans and fled to Yathrib, a fertile valley 230 miles north of Mecca, and vowed to make war on them and anyone else who rejected his religion and his belief in himself as God’s messenger. His flight from Mecca took place in A.D. 622.
In Yathrib, he had a mosque built that served as his headquarters — his al-qaeda — for waging war on the Meccans. He began by attacking their caravans. About 18 months after he arrived in Mecca, a battle took place between 300 of Muhammad’s followers and an army of 900 Meccans. This came to be known as the Battle of Badr because of the name of the oasis where the battle took place. It resulted from Muhammad’s attacks on Meccan caravans. They had learned he planned on hijacking a major caravan on its return trip from Syria and sent an army to defend it. But the army was led by merchants who were inexperienced in war, and they were defeated by Muhammad’s zealots. The caravan managed to elude him, but most of the Meccan leaders were killed in the battle, and Muhammad threw their bodies into a well.
One the Meccan leaders — one of Muhammad’s chief enemies — was mortally wounded during the battle, but was still alive when it ended. Muhammad sent a trusted servant to find him. The servant killed the merchant and brought his head to Muhammad, who rejoiced and praised Allah for the death of his enemy.
Of the seventy Meccans who were taken captive, forty-nine were spared and held for ransom. The rest were the Meccans who were hated for one reason or another and were slain. One of them was a man named Nader al-Harith. Muhammad ordered him beheaded because he used to insult Muhammad in Mecca by calling his prophet stories “tales of the ancients” and offering to tell the Meccans more interesting stories about Persian kings and heroes. Nader had lived for a time in one of the Persian provinces and had learned the stories. In Mecca he would follow Muhammad around and interrupt his attempts at proselytizing with such tales. For this he was slain.
Following this battle Muhammad sanctified violence in Koran verses and gave Allah’s stamp of approval for taking plunder, thus turning his aggressions into an organized criminal enterprise. He distributed everything that was captured from the Meccans to the men who had fought at Badr after taking 20 percent for himself, a plunder distribution policy that he followed from then on. “Enjoy what you take in plunder,” he tells the faithful in the Koran, “for it is lawful and good.
This battle marks the beginning of a rampage of killing and plunder that Muhammad engaged in until his death in A.D. 632.