UI – Part 221 – Jesus’ Disciples were Adults; Muhammad’s Companions, Many, were Children
When Jesus began his life as a leader and example for all mankind to follow he chose adults to follow him. Matthew 4:18- GNT, “As Jesus walked along the shore of Lake Galilee, he saw two brothers who were fishermen, Simon (called Peter) and his brother Andrew, catching fish in the lake with a net Jesus said to them, ‘Come with me, and I will teach you to catch people.’ (be fishers of men) At once they left their nets and went with him. He went on and saw two other brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were in their boat with their father Zebedee, getting their nets ready. Jesus called them, and at once they left the boat and their father, and went with him.” When he was done Jesus had assembled twelve men as his disciples: Simon (called Peter), Andrew, James, John (son of Zebedee), Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James, son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Patriot and Judas Iscariot.
In Yatrib Muhammad’s household included many very young. Muhammad’s young wife A’isha was 11 or 12. Zaid was 13. The son of Umar, a friend, military leader to be and 2ndCaliph, was a frequent visitor. He was 9. Umar was 37. Another boy, Mas’ud, slightly older, in his early 20’s, had been with Muhammad for a while. He was a sheepherder. Enamored by the Prophet, he converted to Muhammad’s call to accept but one god and was asked to join Muhammad’s household. A young cousin of Muhammad also lived in the household compound. Abbas was 7. Ali, the son of Abu Talib, the uncle who raised Muhammad, was also often at the home of Muhammad. He was 25; he knew Muhammad’s first wife, Khadija and was one of the early persons to learn about Muhammad’s first revelation, living in Mecca at the time. Muhammad died at age 62 in 632. Those named were among the most ardent Companions and followers of Muhammad.
When he died there were 7 considered the closest Companions, the Sahaba, 4 were under the age of 22. A’isha, one of his wives, whom he married when she was 7, Zaid his suppossed secretary, Ibn Umar the son of the 2nd Caliph and an ardent admirer of the prophet, and Ibn Abbas a young cousin. They were respectively 20, 22, 18, and 14. Hafsah was 23, she was also married to Muhammad, a widow from one of Muhammad’s many battles to establish his religion. Mas’ud was a good friend, he was 32. Ali, a step cousin, was 34. Muhammad was 62. Umar, the military leader, was 46, the oldest of the 7 noted. Hafsah, not of the 7, might be viewed as the next closest, #8, as she had retained much of the verses of what became part of the Quran from hearing Muhammad’s recitations. I mention the 7 as they came to be relied upon in the establishment of Islamic Law, or the rule-of-law as Muhammad might have imposed when he was living, of which they would be the most familiar.
From the persons as followers of the noted religious leaders it is evident Jesus’ following was adult, persons in their mid-20’s, when they met. One might adduce they chose to follow Jesus of their own accord. There was no monetary benefit or even an element of protection or entitlement as a supporter of Jesus. He was not there to feed them, clothe them or provide them shelter. It was an independent decision.
Whereas the companions of Muhammad, many, were children. When we think of children we consider their innocence and the possibility their education can be a form of brainwashing. If provided food and shelter they were dependents. Thus the children’s livelihood, their lives, were in Muhammad’s hands. Clearly that is the case for A’isha, Zaid, Ibn Umar, Ibn Abbas and Hafsah. Mas’ud was not much older. And we learn that A’isha was quite influential after Muhammad’s death on the choice of Caliph’s, the first being her father (Abu Bakr). Their everyday lives for many years were with Muhammad, under his spell, often required to memorize his proclamations and claims. One might question, as I have, how independent they were in their decision to follow Muhammad.
The conclusion I draw from this information is that Muhammad did not have the same strength of character in his followers as did Jesus. Most were young and immature. Muhammad may have taught and cared for these young companions, taught only in the ways of Muhammad, dependent on him entirely and knowing little else. Whereas Jesus lead by example, proved his divine nature with miracles and had the apostles as witnesses to only conclude this was a man of God, son of man and son of God.
The apostles also witnessed Jesus life after death (Christ). Muhammad related his own story emanating from a dream involving his ascension[i], alive but dreaming, traveling by donkey from Mecca to Jerusalem, through 7 stages to Allah. It is related in the Quran (Sura 17). There were no witnesses. When he related this story (the next day) many called him a “madman.” He was transported from the Kaaba to Jerusalem (the site of the Dome of the Rock) in one leap by ‘a beast not larger than a donkey but no smaller that a mule which also had wings.’ (the creature called ‘Buraq’) The angel Gabriel was by his side.
Jesus followers had evidentiary proof through their eyes of Jesus capabilities. War was never involved. Those that wanted Jesus as a military leader, the Zealots, to take on the Romans and remove them as occupiers were confused and disappointed. Killing for God was never God’s command. That was not the message of Jesus. He sought only believers, those that would follow and love God and do the same for their neighbors. Jesus provided the example for others to follow and thus become representatives as believers in God, filled with God’s Spirit. He died for all mankind, but not all would accept his sacrifice or example. Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist to give people an example of dying for one’s sins, cleansed of sin in the water, to rise-up a new person. That new person then ‘belongs to Christ.’ “The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT)
“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was rasied from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4, NIV)
Muhammad was militaristic. Fighting was common and approved as a means to gain converts, to maintain, and keep in line members of the brotherhood of Muhammad. It was not out of love of God and neighbor as the primary commandments from Muhammad that his following and forces grew. It was from the benefits, the spoils of battle, the distributions from raided caravans, the entitlements, and the fear of retribution if one were to be dis-loyal, all in the name of Allah. Allah was the one god to honor, but Muhammad was the master of their fate, an autocratic leader, his charisma, his God given gift abused, as he sought his own destiny as commander of the forces for Allah to achieve his ends, not necessesarily God’s end. His example became the example other militaristic, imperialistic, successors followed, to include teachers of the ideology patterned after Muhammad.
Some food for thought
Grace and Peace