On this day - 1984 - launch of the Apple Macintosh personal computer
Brother Rachid, AlHayat TV addresses President Obama about the relationship between Islam and the Islamic State

Islamic State, the Australian Defence Force and Malcolm Turnbull's War of Ideas

This is part two of three parts - part one is here.

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Last Saturday Malcolm Turnbull got a feel for life in Baghdad, capital of Iraq.  Large slabs of the country are now part of the Islamists Caliphate. Turnbull was there because Australia is helping Iraq in its military efforts to destroy Islamic State.

Turnbull and Iraq's PM Al-Abadi appeared for the cameras.  Turnbull gave a glowing report card on how the shooting war is going.

"We are full of admiration for your efforts in retaking Ramadi and we are very pleased that Australia has been able to assist you in that effort", said Turnbull.

"We are strongly committed to helping Iraq in its fight against Daesh. Daesh is a threat to all of us and we need to continue to work together to defeat these terrorists".

I'm all for wiping these Islamists from the face of the earth.   They have forfeited any right to remain among civilised nations.   They're expansionist, they're murderous and they pose a direct threat to us at home.  There is no further need for justification of what is a righteous war.   As General Jim Mattis says, "If they choose to fight us, they should all die in their first battle.   No survivors."

He's right, they've gone to war with us, they should all die for it.

So while we're at war ,over there, helping the Iraqi shooters, I have no idea what Turnbull could have meant when he added this after his commentary about the recent success in military operations. 

"It is also in many respects a war of ideas".

My first reaction was "A war of what?"   Their ideas?   What's there to discuss?   The relative merits of our way of life versus theirs, which includes crucifixion, barbecuing, beheading, tossing homosexuals from tall buildings, taking sex slaves, random bombings and the overthrow of civil governments around the world to be replaced by their own Shariah?

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Sorry Malcolm, where would you start engaging?

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Their ideas date back to 600AD and remain unchanged.   To quote Tony Abbott, their faith derives from the kill-or-be-killed milieu of the Prophet Muhammed.

But on reflection I think the Prime Minister has opened the door to an important discussion - not with them and not for them - but a discussion about Islam, for all of us.

We are at war.   The unclear question is with whom?   Until this last week, Turnbull has said of Islamic State:

  • (their actions and philosophy are) completely contrary to the precepts of Islam
  • they defame religion, they blaspheme, they defame Islam
  • they are utterly godless

Last Monday Turnbull changed tack just a little.  He told an audience in Washington:

We should not be so delicate as to say ISIL and its ilk have “got nothing to do with Islam”.

(he then went on for several paragraphs telling us that ISIL has got nothing to do with Islam) and continued:

....in Australia, leading Islamic groups and leaders have also spoken out strongly against ISIL, warning that any support for the group contradicts Islamic teachings.

Now, as we confront this threat, at home, in the Middle East, in Africa and South East Asia, we should remember that terrorism is a strategy of the weak deployed against the strong.

We should not, as the President observed last week, allow anxiety about ISIL to lead us into exaggerating its power. Their threat to sweep across continents like the armies of Mohammed, to stable their horses in the Vatican are crazed delusions. We should not amplify them.

Really? More than one million last year, Germany's lost 600,000 and this year's invasion looks set to deliver 3 million mostly young Muslim men into Europe.

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So could a public discussion about Turnbull's War of Ideas help us militarily?  Could it help us understand what we're up against and what they're like?

The Australian Defence Force doesn't use the word Islam at all in its publicly available statements about our war with Islamic State. That's because it's at pains to give Islam equal standing with Christianity and other religions on instructions from the  bureaucracy in Canberra.   It's a chargeable offence for ADF members to say things about Islam that might be considered offensive to Islamists.

This document is the ADF's guide to religion.

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It contains this warning.

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You'll recall our report on the returned diggers who reacted to the Sydney Muslim street riots - they were charged with offences under these provisions.

 According to the ADF, we are at war with terrorism, as if the enemy was a technique.  The ADF is very much of the "nothing to do with Islam" apologist clique.  That's more than passing strange, because the ADF's own Guide to Religion tells us all we need to know about our enemy.

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There it is - the heart of Islam:

Muslims believe that Mohammed was as perfect as any human could be, and they live their lives in a way that follows his example

According to Islam, Mohammed led "the beautiful life" or "the perfect life".  

That is why so many Muslim men and Ray Hadley believe it's wrong to criticise  a 50 year old man for having sex with a 9 year old girl whom he married when she was 6.   Mohammed did it and he was perfect.   And remember Mohammed invented Islam - or an angel told him what God was saying and he wrote that down.   Either way, Mohammed is the man who set it all out.

So is Islamic State following Mohammed's example, is it Islamic or not?

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Islamic State reckon they're doing Mohamed's bidding by going to war to take territory for their Islamic Caliphate.   They say they're doing things just the way Mohammed showed them to.

So what was Mohammed like.  Here's one battle extensively referenced in the Quran, the Hadith and Islamic scholarly texts.   You'll be the judge - is Islamic State Islamic or not.  Who's right?  Malcolm or Mohammed (and Ray)?

Siege of Banu Qurayza

When they reached the habitations of Banu Quraiza, they laid tight siege to their forts. The Banu Qurayza retreated into their stronghold and endured the siege for 25 days. As their morale waned, Ka'b ibn Asad (the chief of the tribe) suggested three alternative ways out of their predicament: embrace Islam, kill their own children and women, then rush out for a charge to either win or die; or make a surprise attack on the Sabbath. The Banu Qurayza accepted none of these alternatives. Instead they asked to confer with Abu Lubaba, one of their allies from the Aws. According to Ibn Ishaq, Abu Lubaba felt pity for the women and children of the tribe who were crying and when asked whether the Qurayza should surrender to Muhammad, advised them to do so. However he also "made a sign with his hand toward his throat, indicating that [their fate] would be slaughter". According to Mubarakpuri, Abu Lubab begged Muhammad for forgiveness (on behalf of the Qurayza), but Muhammad said it is only God who can forgive him. The next morning, the Banu Qurayza surrendered and the Muslims seized their stronghold and their stores. The men - numbering between 400 and 900 - were bound and placed under the custody of Muhammad ibn Maslamah, who had killed Ka'b ibn al-Ashraf, while the women and children - numbering about 1,000 - were placed under Abdullah ibn Sallam, a former rabbi who had converted to Islam.

According to Mubrakpuri, Muslims continued their siege for many days and were getting tired. Ali and Az-Zubair bin ‘Awwam proceeded with ‘Ali swearing that he would never stop until he had either stormed their garrisons or been martyred like Hamza.

Muhammad meanwhile asked one of his poets, Hasam bin Thabit to abuse them with his poems. This is mentioned in Sahih al-Bukhari, 

Demise of Banu Qurayza

Surrender and execution

Tabari and Ibn Hisham mention 600-900 of the Banu Qurayza were beheaded. Detail from miniature painting The Prophet, Ali, and the Companions at the Massacre of the Prisoners of the Jewish Tribe of Beni Qurayzah, illustration of a 19th century text by Muhammad Rafi Bazil.

After their garrisons were stormed by Ali they had no choice but to comply with Muhammad's judgement. Muhammad ordered that the men should be handcuffed, and this was done under the supervision of Muhammad bin Salamah Al-Ansari while the women and children were isolated in confinement. Thereupon Al-Aws tribe interceded begging Muhammad to be lenient towards them. He suggested that Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh, a Muslim convert who was a former ally of the tribe, should decide their fate.

According to Mubrakpuri, Stillman, Peters and Adil and Muir, when Sa'd arrived, his fellow Aws pleaded for leniency towards the Qurayza and on his request pledged that they would abide by his decision.He then pronounced that "the men should be killed, the property divided, and the women and children taken as captives". Muhammad approved of the ruling, calling it similar to God's judgment.Mubarakpuri states that the tribe who reached puberty were beheaded.According to Daniel C. Peterson and Martin Lings, this judgment was in accordance with the law of Moses as stated in Deuteronomy 20:10-14. Deuteronomy 20:10-14 says:

When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies.

Sa'd dismissed the pleas of the Aws, according to Watt because being close to death and concerned with his afterlife, he put what he considered "his duty to God and the Muslim community" before tribal allegiance. Tariq Ramadan argues that Muhammad deviated from his earlier, more lenient treatment of prisoners as this was seen as "as sign of weakness if not madness" and Peterson concurs that the Muslims wanted to deter future treachery by severe punishment.

This is also mentioned in the Sunni hadith collections, stating:

Then the Prophet said, "O Sad! These people have agreed to accept your verdict." Sad said, "I judge that their warriors should be killed and their children and women should be taken as captives." The Prophet said, "You have given a judgment similar to Allah's Judgment (or the King's judgment)."Sahih al-Bukhari, 5:58:148

A large arsenal of the Banu Qurayza which consisted of 1500 swords, 2000 spears, 300 armours and 500 shields, were confiscated by Muhammad. Trenches were dug in the bazaar of Madinah and a number of Jews between six and seven hundred were beheaded therein.

Huyai, a chief of Bani Nadir and Safiyah’s father, had joined the ranks of Banu Quraiza when Quraish and Ghatfan defected, was admitted into the audience of Muhammad with his hands tied to his neck with a rope. In audacious defiance, he declared obstinate enmity to Muhammad. He was ordered to sit down, and was beheaded on the spot.

According to Mubrakpuri, only one woman of the Jews was killed because she had killed a Muslim warrior by flinging a grinding stone upon him. This is also mentioned in Sunni Hadith collections:

No woman of Banu Qurayza was killed except one. She was with me, talking and laughing on her back and belly (extremely), while the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) was killing her people with the swords. Suddenly a man called her name: Where is so-and-so? She said: I I asked: What is the matter with you? She said: I did a new act. She said: The man took her and beheaded her. She said: I will not forget that she was laughing extremely although she knew that she would be killed.

Sunan Abu Dawud 

A few elements of the enemy embraced Islam and their lives, wealth and children were spared. As for the spoils of the war, Muhammad divided them. Women captives were sent to Najd to be exchanged with horses and weaponry. In the process of the siege laid to Banu Quraiza, one man of the Muslims, Khallad bin Suwaid was killed when a women of the Jews dropped the grinding stone on him, and another, Abu Sinan bin Mihsan, the brother of ‘Ukasha, died. The siege of Banu Quraiza’s forts lasted for 25 days.


Several accounts note Muhammad's companions as executioners, Ali and Al-Zubayr in particular, and that each clan of the Aws was also charged with killing a group of Qurayza men.Subhash Inamdar argues that this was done in order to avoid the risk of further conflicts between Muhammad and the Aws. According to Inamdar, Muhammad wanted to distance himself from the events and, had he been involved, would have risked alienating some of the Aws. the Banu Aws were allied to the Banu Qurayza and Muhammad.

Islamic primary sources


The event if referenced in the Quran:

And those of the People of the Book who aided them - Allah did take them down from their strongholds and cast terror into their hearts. (So that) some ye slew, and some ye made prisoners.[Quran 33:26]

Ibn Kathir commentary of the verse in his Tafsir is as follows:

Then the Messenger of Allah commanded that ditches should be dug, so they were dug in the earth, and they were brought tied by their shoulders, and were beheaded. There were between seven hundred and eight hundred of them. The children who had not yet reached adolescence and the women were taken prisoner, and their wealth was seized.

[Ibn Kathir, on Quran 33:26]

According to Ibn Kathir, Quran 33:09 and 33:10 is also related to the Banu Qurayza.

Hadith literature

According to Kister all male members of the tribe who reached puberty were beheaded, Ibn Kathir says those who did not reach adolescence were taken prisoners instead of being killed. This is also mentioned in the Sunni hadith collection Abu Dawud:

Narrated Atiyyah al-Qurazi: I was among the captives of Banu Qurayza. They (the Companions) examined us, and those who had begun to grow hair (pubes) were killed, and those who had not were not killed. I was among those who had not grown hair.Sunan Abu Dawood, 38:4390

According to Mubrakpuri, Peters, Stillman, Guillaume and Inamdar, Islamic tradition says that the angel Gabriel and Muhammad spoke to one another before the attack.This is also mentioned in the Sunni hadith collection Sahih Bukhari:

When Allah's Apostle returned on the day (of the battle) of Al-Khandaq (i.e. Trench), he put down his arms and took a bath. Then Gabriel whose head was covered with dust, came to him saying, "You have put down your arms! By Allah, I have not put down my arms yet." Allah's Apostle said, "Where (to go now)?" Gabriel said, "This way," pointing towards the tribe of Bani Quraiza. So Allah's Apostle went out towards them .

Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:68

The event is also mentioned in Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:57:66, Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:57:66, Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:68, Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:59:443, Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:59:44, Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:280 and many others.

Biographical literature[edit]

The early Muslim jurist Tabari and Ibn Hisham also mention this event stating 600-900 were killed. Tabari's account is as follows:

The messenger of God went out into the marketplace of Medina and had trenches dug in it; then he sent for them and had them beheaded in those trenches. They were brought out to him in groups. Among them were the enemy of God, Huyayy b. Akhtab, and Ka’b b. Asad, the head of the tribe. They numbered 600 or 700—the largest estimate says they were between 800 and 900. As they were being taken in groups to the Messenger of God, they said to Ka’b b. Asad, "Ka’b, what do you understand. Do you not see that the summoner does not discharge [anyone] and that those of you who are taken away do not come back? By God, it is death!" the affair continued until the Messenger of God had finished with them.[3]

[Tabari, Volume 8, Victory of Islam, p. 35-36]



In February 2015 Malcolm Turnbull told the Australian Parliament of his sure-fire way to defeat Islamic State and its followers.

 "Our strongest armour is in our hearts, we defy the terrorists with love'.

You stick with that plan Malcolm.   Sounds like a winner, particularly if your War of Ideas is hosted on QandA with a live Twitter feed.   Hope you don't mind if the rest of us go with plan B and send in the troops.

And good luck changing Islamic State's ideas Malcolm.   The bloke who told them what to do died 1400 years ago.   You've got a bit in common, he was perfect too.

Islamic State has nothing to do with Islam?   You're dreaming.