Introduction

In the name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful
To delegitimize the Messenger ﷺ is to call into question the entire message.[1]  During his time, the Meccans called him a poet, a magician, and a madman, among other names. Today, he is insulted with other labels. But perhaps the most invidious insult, designed to undermine the powerful establishment and spread of his message, is that he overcame his foes with terror only to rule them with cruelty. Descriptions of Muhammad ﷺ’s life, military career, and traditions form the foundation for most judgments about his mission. Islam as a whole, through these depictions, is seen as either a religion of peace or a religion of war, depending on which interpretation of the messenger and message is followed. Modern critiques of some of the Prophet ﷺ’s undertakings are meant to question the civility of Islam in the ongoing manufactured clash of civilizations that fuel both Islamophobes and extremists. Michael Bonner notes, “Many of these modern arguments over historiography, and over the rise of Islam and the origins of jihad more generally, began in the nineteenth and the earlier twentieth centuries among European academic specialists in the study of the East, often referred to as the orientalists.”[2] He goes on to note that the motivation of these arguments cannot be disconnected from “their involvement in the colonial project.”[3] 
By portraying the Prophet ﷺ himself as a barbarian, surely his followers must also be treated as an inherently violent political body that will employ any means necessary to achieve global domination. What is uncontroversial is that Muhammad ﷺ succeeded at wielding unprecedented power after decades of persecution. Michael Hart, who famously considered him the most influential man in history, wrote,

My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular level.[4] 

The question of whether or not he sacrificed his principles in the pursuit of that success is one that requires an in-depth look at his consistency, or lack thereof, in varied political contexts.

“His Character Was the Quran”

A Blessing in Disguise

A Difficult Decade in Mecca

The Legacy Continues in Madinah

Marching to Mecca: A Conquest Like No Other

A Flawless Finish

Incorruptible

A Mercy Misunderstood

Notes