but if they desist1 then let there be no hostility, save against
the wicked. 189.
The warlike spirit is also stirred up by a reference to the wars of the
children of Israel and of Saul who in one case is confounded with Gideon,
showing that Muhammad's knowledge of Old Testament history was very confused.
The Israelites are represented as saying:
Why should we not fight for the religion of God, seeing We are dispossessed
of our habitations, and our children are driven forth.
How oft, by God's will, hath a small host vanquished a large host, and God is
with the patiently persevering.
Such are the signs of God. Sura Al-Baqarah (ii) 247, 250, 253.
Thus, just as the small host under Gideon overcame the Midianites, so would
the small host of Muslims overcome the Meccans, and such victories were God's
signs or witnesses to the truths which His prophets inculcated. In this way and
by such teaching Muhammad encouraged his followers.