It is a frequent practice of dawah team, especially when Christians mention the Muslim massacre of non-Muslims such as at Banu Qurayzah, or orders allowing the killing of civilians as recorded in the Hadith and Seerah, to refer to God’s order to extirpate the Amalekites. The Muslim texts to which Christians often refer include these:
Sahih Al-Bukhari 5.448 Narrated by Aisha; …When the Prophet returned from the (battle) of Al-Khandaq [Trench] and laid down his arms and took a bath Gabriel came to him while he [Gabriel] was shaking the dust off his head, and said, “You have laid down the arms?” By Allah, I have not laid them down. Go out to them (to attack them).” The Prophet said, “Where?” Gabriel pointed towards Bani Quraiza. So Allah’s Apostle went to them (i.e., Banu Quraiza) (i.e., besieged them). They then surrendered to the Prophet’s judgment but he directed them to Sad to give his verdict concerning them. Sad said, “I give my judgment that their warriors should be killed, their women and children should be taken as captives, and their properties distributed.”….
Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 4.256 Narrated by As Sab bin Jaththama: The Prophet passed by me at a place called Al-Abwa or Waddan, and was asked whether it was permissible to attack the pagan warriors at night with the probability of exposing their women and children to danger. The Prophet replied, ‘They (women and children) are from them (pagans).’
Al-Misri, The Reliance of the Traveller, Book O: Justice, Chapter O-9.0: Jihad; O-9.10: ‘The Rules of Warfare’, p. 603. It is not permissible (A: in jihad) to kill women or children unless they are fighting against the Muslims. Nor is it permissible to kill animals, unless they are being ridden into battle against the Muslims, or if killing them will help defeat the enemy. It is permissible to kill old men (O: old man, shaykh, meaning someone more than forty years of age) and monks.
7389 AL-RISALA (Maliki Manual) CHAPTER 30: A Chapter on Jihad or Holy War … Women and children are not to be killed. Muslims must avoid the killing of monks and learned men except where these fight them. Similarly, if a woman fights she can be killed…
What particularly excites dawah team is 1 Samuel 15: 1-3: And Samuel said to Saul, “YHWH sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of YHWH.2 Thus says YHWH of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt.3 Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”
The accusation of dawah team is that this is a command to commit genocide, and they particularly emphasise the order to kill even minors. Obviously, to understand this command, we need to examine the context, and to comprehend why the command was given in the first place. This is vital, because dawah team always ignore what precedes the order – the historical recollection of Amalek’s aggression against the Israelites immediately after the Exodus.
That is, the command is responsive, and should be compared to America dropping the atomic bomb on Japan in 1945 to end the war and spare the lives of tens of thousands of Allied servicemen (American, British, Australian, New Zealand and other Allies), and as a responsive act to Japanese aggression at Pearl Harbor in 1941, and especially, in light of Japanese massacres in China in 1937 such as the Rape of Nanking, the invasion of Indo-China, Malaya, Burma and other British-ruled territories, the Dutch East Indies, the Philippines, and attacks on India and Australia, as well as the well-founded reports of the torture of Allied POWs and violations of the Geneva Convention. In short: no Pearl Harbor, no atomic bombs dropped on Japan. Similarly, no Amalekite aggression, no divine punishment.
Part 2 of 6 will discuss the identity and culture of Amalek.