the muslims realized what the jews were about, for the latter were neither gentle nor discrete. their instigation was always overdone. the muslims accused those who entered into the covenant of madinah of hypocrisy, and classified them with the munafiqun.[munafiqun, literally, the pretenders; applied to the insincere idolaters who joined the ranks of islam for ulterior motives. -tr.]. some jews were once violently expelled from the mosque, and were later isolated and boycotted. after failing to convince them of the truth of islam, the prophet, may god's blessing be upon him, let them alone. but to let them alone religiously did not mean that they should be allowed to instigate the muslims to a civil internecine war. politically speaking, it was not enough to warn them and to warn the muslims of their instigation. it was necessary to impress them with the fact that the muslims were sufficiently strong to stamp out any such war as the jews were instigating as well as to uproot its causes. a good way for pressing this realization upon them was the sending out of muslim forces on military expeditions in all directions on condition that such sorties entail no actual fighting and no military setback. this account seems to be factual, for men like hamzah, whom we know to have been quick to fly into a rage, turned around in front of the enemy without engagement. the appearance of an honored friend asking for peace is not enough to separate two parties either of which is bent upon fighting. rather, non-engagement was a deliberate and carefully laid out plan. its specific purpose was on one side to threaten and warn the jews, and, on the other, to seek an understanding with the quraysh to let the religious call take its course freely, without impediment or recourse to war or fighting.
islam and fighting
this peaceful show of strength by islam does not at all mean that islam, at that time, forbade fighting in defense of personal life and of religion, or to put a stop to persecution. indeed, islam did not. rather, it imposed such defense as a sacred duty. what it did really mean at that time, as it does today or will ever do, was to condemn any war of aggression. "do not commit any aggression," god commands. he counsels, "god does not love the aggressors."[qur'an, 2:190] if, at that time, the muhajirun felt justified in seizing the property of the quraysh in retaliation for the latter's confiscation of their property when they emigrated, they certainly realized that to protect the muslims against apostasy from their faith was a greater duty in the eyes of god and his prophet. the latter was the main purpose for the sake of which god had permitted the muslims to fight at all.