Following the screening of the Holocaust drama ‘Zero Degree Turn’, Iranian TV put on another series recently featuring Jews, called ’40 soldiers’. The series promises defeat and conversion to the recalcitrant Jews living in Khaybar in Muhammad’s time, while in an episode set in the future 40 mythological Persian war heroes come forth to repel the US army. (Via MEMRI)
During the second half of 2007, Iran’s Channel 2 aired a 28-episode series called “40 Soldiers.” The series, created by Mohammad Nouri-zad, examines the development of Iranian culture from four historical perspectives: the mythological pre-Islamic period, the life of national poet Hakim Abol-Qasem Ferdowsi Tusi (935-1020 CE), the life of Imam Ali, and the modern era.
In his portrayal of the life of Imam Ali, the director depicts the Muslim siege of the Jewish fortress of Khaybar. The Muslim army, led by Imam Ali, manages to conquer the fortress, following a sword fight between Imam Ali himself and the Jewish military commanders.
The narrator sets the scene:“The Jews [who lived] in the suburbs of Al-Madina harassed the Muslims, especially the Prophet [Muhammad]. They repeatedly violated the agreements. This is Khaybar, an inhabited region far from Al-Madina. Some of the fortresses of the Jews have been liberated by the Muslims, but their most important fortress still stands, and all the Muslims efforts to take control of it have been unsuccessful. Hunger afflicts the Muslim army, making the campaign even more difficult. They are all hungry – even the commanders and the Prophet’s companions.”
In one scene the Jew Abu Aswad (literally Father of the Black) sees the Light and becomes a Muslim. But his fate is to be beheaded by the Jews for abandoning Judaism. Here’s another telling moment when Ali tries to persuade the blood-thirsty Jew Marhab to convert to Islam:
Marhab: “You killed my brother, Al-Hareth, son of Zaynab from Khaybar, right?”
Ali: “I gave him a chance, but he did not use it. I told him that if he became a Muslim, he would be saved. I say the same to you.”
Marhab: “Me, become a Muslim?! I drink Muslim blood. Me, a Muslim? Muhammad, you have come to your own graveyard of your own free will. Here I am – Marhab, the hunter and killer of lions. Here I am – Marhab, avenging my brother Al-Hareth.”
Ali: “You are a well-known hero, but even great heroes do not rely only on their arms of steel, but use their minds too. Think about it. All the monotheistic religions continue one another, and do not run parallel to one another. The path that began with Adam, Noah, Moses, and Jesus culminates with Muhammad.”
Marhab: “Enough talking, Ali. If you are a man, let’s see you voice the battle cry. The people of Khaybar know that I, Marhab, am armed to the teeth with weapons and iron, and that I am experienced and well-versed in battle. The moment the sharp blades reach me, I will draw my sword and spear.”
Ali: “Despite your thirst for our blood, we have an affinity to you.”
Marhab: “Our path differs from yours.”
Ali: “How can you say that? The paths of all the prophets are the same.”
Marhab: “What you are saying is false. The path of Moses is different.”
Ali: “Your Moses is our Moses too. A Muslims who does not respect and honor Moses is not a true Muslim.”
Marhab: “Stop talking, Ali. You have your religion, and we have ours.”
Marhab loses a sword. Ali delivers a deadly blow to Marhab. The Muslims charge the fortress.
Narrator: “Eventually, the last unconquered Khaybar fortress was taken. The great Prophet always gave the people of Khaybar a chance, except at times when they shut the door on compromise, with their continuous treachery and scheming. The events of Khaybar serve as a sacred lesson to those who doubt the distinction between truth and falsehood.”
Muslim leader: “Dear Ali, I congratulate you and us on this victory.”