Here begins a series of articles where I will be citing from Shabir Ally’s debates and lectures, primarily from his recent exchanges with Christian apologist and philosopher David Wood, in order to show how Ally makes statements and claims which end up condemning Muhammad as a false prophet. As a result of his blatant inconsistencies and uncritical thinking (at times), Ally says things that prove quite damaging to the credibility of Muhammad and which even call into question his moral integrity.
As an example of such damage, in one of his debates with Wood I had called in challenging Ally to address the fact that his prophet condoned temporary marriages called muta, marriages done for the sole purpose of gratifying the sexual lusts of Muslim men. What makes these so-called marriages so shameful is that the Muslim men knowingly marry women for a short designated time which both parties agree to, and for a sum of money or some other form of compensation that the men are required to give for the sexual services provided by these women. Such marriages are nothing more than prostitution, plain and simple.
A Muslim youtuber has done us all a favor by actually taking my brief exchange with Ally and turning into a short clip for all to see and hear (Is Muta (Temporary Marriage) allowed in Islam?).
I had mentioned the criteria that the Lord Jesus gave in Matthew 7:15-20, a text which Ally himself alluded to in defense of Muhammad’s prophetic claims, where the Lord stated that a false prophet will be known by the rotten and evil fruits he produces. I then mentioned certain narrations from Sahih al-Bukhari concerning this issue of muta, citing them as an example of a very rotten and reprehensible fruit which calls into question Muhammad’s prophethood, and asked Ally how he could justify such a gross distortion and perversion of marriage, which in reality is nothing more than prostitution.
Here is what I was referring to:
Narrated Jabir bin ‘Abdullah and Salama bin Al-Akwa’: While we were in an army, Allah’s Apostle came to us and said, “You have been allowed to do the Mut’a (marriage), so do it.” Salama bin Al-Akwa’ said: Allah’s Apostle’s said, “If a man and a woman agree (to marry temporarily), their marriage should last for three nights, and if they like to continue, they can do so; and if they want to separate, they can do so.” I do not know whether that was only for us or for all the people in general. Abu Abdullah (Al-Bukhari) said: ‘Ali made it clear that the Prophet said, “The Mut’a marriage has been cancelled (made unlawful).” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 52)
Narrated Abdullah: We used to participate in the holy battles led by Allah’s Apostle and we had nothing (no wives) with us. So we said, “Shall we get ourselves castrated?” He forbade us that and then allowed us to marry women with a temporary contract and recited to us: — ‘O you who believe! Make not unlawful the good things which Allah has made lawful for you, but commit no transgression.’ (5.87) (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 13o)
Tragically, there were some instances in which women even got pregnant through such immoral unions:
Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab from Urwa ibn az-Zubayr that Khawla ibn Hakim came to Umar ibn al-Khattab and said, “Rabia ibn Umayya made a temporary marriage with a woman and she is pregnant by him.” Umar ibn al-Khattab went out in dismay dragging his cloak, saying, “This temporary marriage, had I come across it, I would have ordered stoning and done away with it!” (Malik’s Muwatta, Book 28, Number 28.18.42)
Ally started out his response by first calling into question the historical veracity of al-Bukhari’s reports, arguing that these may have been something which the hypocrites concocted and managed to dupe the Muslims into believing that they actually came from Muhammad himself!
To show you just how desperate and weak Ally’s explanation is, notice what Muslim scholars have stated concerning Al-Bukhari’s work and the stringent method he employed to insure the veracity of every report that made it into his collection.
It has been UNANIMOUSLY AGREED that Imam Bukhari’s work is the most authentic of all the other works in Hadith literature PUT TOGETHER. The authenticity of Al-Bukhari’s work is such that the religious learned scholars of Islam said concerning him: “The most authentic book after the Book of Allah (i.e., Al-Qur’an) is Sahih Al-Bukhari.”… Before he recorded each Hadith he would make ablution and offer two Rak’at prayer and supplicate his Lord (Allah). Many religious scholars of Islam tried to find fault in the great remarkable collection- Sahih Al-Bukhari, BUT WITHOUT SUCCESS. It is for this reason, they UNANIMOUSLY AGREED that the most authentic book after the Book of Allah IS Sahih Al-Bukhari. (Translation of the Meanings of Sahih al-Bukhari, Arabic-English, translated by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, Formerly Director, University Hospital, Islamic University, Al-Madina Al-Munawwara (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), [Dar-us-Salam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh-Saudi Arabia, July, 1997], Volume 1, pp. 18-19; bold and capital emphasis ours)
The following citations are taken from the Islamic Awareness team’s response to fellow Christian writer and apologist Andrew Vargo’s criticism of Imam al-Bukhari’s compilation:
* The two sahîh collections did not gather the totality of the authentic ahâdîth as proved by al-Bukhârî’s testimony: “I have not included in my book al-Jâmic but what is authentic, and I left out among the authentic for fear of [excessive] length.(Footnote 2)”
Footnote 2 says:
He [al-Bukhârî] meant that he did not mention all the turuq [parallel chains of transmission] for each and every hadîth.
To reiterate this in elementary English for the neophyte, Imâm al-Bukhârî selected only a few authentic ahâdîth from his vast collection. However, he left out certain traditions, despite their authenticity, simply to avoid excessive length and repetition in his al-Jâmic (a discussion about which is given below). If anything, the privilege to make such a gesture is highly complimentary to the authenticity of the Islamic traditions. In another tradition, Imâm al-Bukhârî is also reported to have said:
He said, I heard as-Sacdânî say, I heard some of our companions say, Muhammad Ibn Ismâcîl said: I selected/published [the content of] this book – meaning the Sahih book – from about 600,000 hadîths/reports. Abû Sacd al-Mâlînî informed us that cAbdullâh Ibn cUdayy informed us: I heard al-Hasan Ibn al-Husayn al-Bukhârî say: “I have not included in my book al-Jâmic but what is authentic, and I left out among the authentic what I could not get hold of.“
Imâm al-Bukhârî’s collection of ahâdîth was maintained to be authentic on account of his authority, and it has been maintained as authentic EVER SINCE. The neophyte’s assertion, that Imâm al-Bukhârî regarded almost 99% of his own collection as spurious, is among the most rash and foolhardy statements ever dared by a Christian missionary. On the contrary, the 7,397 refers to the number of hadîths that Imâm al-Bukhârî chose to include in his al-Jâmic and left out many authentic narrations from his vast collection for the fear of excessive length.
…Regardless, we will quote the famous trial of Imâm al-Bukhârî to show how Maqlub (changed, reversed) ahadîth can be identified with ease by a scholar of hadîth:
The famous trial of al-Bukhârî by the scholars of Baghdad provides a good example of a Maqlûb isnâd. The traditionists, in order to test their visitor, al-Bukhârî, appointed ten men, each with ten ahâdîth. Now, each hadîth (text) of these ten people was prefixed with the isnâd of another. Imâm al-Bukhârî listened to each of the ten men as they narrated their ahâdîth and denied the correctness of every hadîth. When they had finished narrating these ahâdîth, he addressed each person in turn and recounted to him each of his ahâdîth with its correct isnâd. This trial earned him great honour among the scholars of Baghdad. (On The Nature Of Hadith Collections Of Imam Al-Bukhari & Muslim; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)
The foregoing should make it abundantly clear that al-Bukhari would not include anything which he suspected was fraudulent or that didn’t meet his criteria for authenticity.(1) Therefore, since he did include these reports about Muhammad basically prostituting women under the guise of temporary marriage, this means that they all must have met al-Bukhari’s very strict specifications and that he was obviously fully convinced of their historical veracity.
So did Imam Muslim since he too included these narrations about temporary marriages:
Abdullah (b. Mas’ud) reported: We were on an expedition with Allah’s Messenger and we had no women with us. We said: Should we not have ourselves castrated? He (the Holy Prophet) forbade us to do so He then granted us permission that we should contract temporary marriage for a stipulated period giving her a garment, and ‘Abdullah then recited this verse: ‘Those who believe do not make unlawful the good things which Allah has made lawful for you, and do not transgress. Allah does not like trangressers” (al-Qur’an, v. 87). (Sahih Muslim, Book 008, Number 3243)
Rabi’ b. Sabra reported that his father went on an expedition with Allah’s Messenger during the Victory of Mecca, and we stayed there for fifteen days (i. e. for thirteen full days and a day and a night), and Allah’s Messenger permitted us to contract temporary marriage with women. So I and another person of my tribe went out, and I was more handsome than he, whereas he was almost ugly. Each one of us had a cloak, My cloak was worn out, whereas the cloak of my cousin was quite new. As we reached the lower or the upper side of Mecca, we came across a young woman like a young smart long-necked she-camel. We said: Is it possible that one of us may contract temporary marriage with you? She said: What will you give me as a dower? Each one of us spread his cloak. She began to cast a glance on both the persons. My companion also looked at her when she was casting a glance at her side and he said: This cloak of his is worn out, whereas my cloak is quite new. She, however, said twice or thrice: There is no harm in (accepting) this cloak (the old one). So I contracted temporary marriage with her, and I did not come out (of this) until Allah’s Messenger declared it forbidden. (Sahih Muslim, Book 008, Number 3253)
Sahih Muslim even includes a report which states that muta was still being observed all the way up until the time of Umar’s caliphate:
Ibn Uraij reported: ‘Ati’ reported that Jabir b. Abdullah came to perform ‘Umra, and we came to his abode, and the people asked him about different things, and then they made a mention of temporary marriage, whereupon he said: Yes, we had been benefiting ourselves by this temporary marriage during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet and during the time of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. (Sahih Muslim, Book 008, Number 3248)
Now what makes these hadiths from Sahih Muslim all the more interesting is that, not only has this collection been deemed as thoroughly reliable by the consensus of the greatest Muslim scholars that have ever lived, some of these very scholars have even gone as far as to argue that in some respects Sahih Muslim is actually superior to the hadith collection of Sahih al-Bukhari!
“… Although Sahih al-Bukhari is the most reliable collection of Ahadith, however, Sahih Muslim has certain aspects of superiority. Imam Muslim adhered strictly to most of the principles of the Science of Hadith which were somehow at some places ignored by his teacher Imam Bukhari. Imam Muslim accepted for his collection only such Ahadith which had been transmitted with an unbroken chain of reliable narrators, free from all defects and were in perfect harmony with the narrations of other narrators. He has recorded only those ahadith which were transmitted at least by two different transmitters from two different Companions. Imam Bukhari has sometimes used the Kunyah (surname) of the narrators and sometimes their names. Imam Muslim avoided this confusion. Imam Muslim is also particular in pointing out the slightest difference in the text of the narrations. Imam Bukhari has fragmented most of the Ahadith and presented the portions under different chapters, while Imam Muslim presented them as a whole narration. So, the works of both Imams provide different approaches for the scholars and readers of Ahadith.” (The Translation of the Meanings of Summarized Sahih Muslim, Publisher’s Note, Volume 1, p. ii; bold emphasis ours)
“Imam Muslim compiled many books and treatises on Hadith, the most important of his works is the compilation of the Hadith collection Al-Jami‘ As-Sahih, which is famous by the name of Sahih Muslim. Some scholars of Hadith opine that in some respects IT IS THE BEST AND MOST AUTHENTIC COLLECTION of Ahadith. Imam Muslim laboriously collected 300,000 Ahadith, but after critical study, he selected only 4,000 Ahadith for this collection…
“Many students learned the Science of Hadith from Imam Muslim. Those who became famous and occupied a prominent position are: Abu Hatim Razi, Musa bin Harun, Ahmad bin Salamah, Abu ‘Isa Tirmidhi, Abu Bakr bin Khuzaimah, Abu ‘Awanah and Hafiz Dhahbi.” (Ibid., p. v; bold and capital emphasis ours).
Note that these are the very sources that Ally has no qualms throwing under the bus whenever they prove too damaging for his position. This is precisely why I accused Ally of preaching Hislam, e.g., his version of Islam, as opposed to actual Islam, since he presents an Islam that doesn’t exist in reality and which isn’t anchored in its primary sources. Rather Ally’s HISlam only exists in his own wishful thinking.
Be that as it may, this now creates a major dilemma for Ally. Since these traditions are found in both collections of Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, this shows that they met the rather rigorous and stringent criteria of authenticity of both of these renowned hadith masters and compilers. To put this simply, both of these renowned hadith scholars were fully persuaded that these reports of Muhammad permitting temporary marriages actually go back to him. When we add to the fact that the traditions concerning temporary marriages are found in all the rest of the major hadith collections, i.e., Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, Tirmidhi etc., then the problem becomes even more complicated for Ally since he is going to have to do a whole lot more than simply brush these narratives aside as questionable. Ally has no choice but to contend with the fact that according to the very strict methodology employed by the leading scholars on hadiths and their authenticity, these narrations concerning muta definitely go back to the historical Muhammad (that is, as far as Islamic historiography and hadith criticism are concerned).
However, this is the least of Ally’s problems. Ally went on to claim that Sunni Muslims have prohibited muta on the grounds of it being classified as adultery. Pay careful attention to what he said:
“When it comes to temporary marriage, the Sunni Muslim scholars say that this is not allowed and that it is akin to adultery and fornication, whereas the Shi’i scholars allow it. And the passages you cited, if you correctly cited them–I am not familiar with these–then this would reflect that view. And the fact that it is found in the Sunni book, does not mean that it cannot support an early view which later on Sunnis would not come to accept.”
Notice that the reason why Sunnis reject temporary marriage according to Ally is because, “IT IS AKIN TO ADULTERY AND FORNICATION”!
Ally has essentially accused both Muhammad and his followers of being a group of adulterers and fornicators, since the Sunni sources confirm that all of them were performing muta for years and years before it was made impermissible! Ally’s claim also means that Muhammad and his companions were all guilty of degrading women by treating them as prostitutes.
I am going to break this all down so the readers can see how Ally has basically accused his own prophet of being an adulterer and fornicator without even realizing it.
- Sunni Islam’s earliest and most reliable sources confirm that Muhammad sanctioned temporary marriage for a period of time.
- According to Ally, the reason why Sunni scholars have forbidden temporary marriage is because it is nothing more than adultery and fornication.
- Therefore, according to the position of these scholars whom Ally appealed to, Muhammad and his companions all stand condemned for committing adultery and fornication, since they all carried out temporary marriages for many years before someone decided to abrogate this reprehensible and immoral practice.
- This in turn means that Muhammad and his followers treated women as prostitutes since they paid certain women to marry them for a short period of time solely for sex. They had no intention of marrying them permanently.
- Ally’s response also turns Shi’a Muslims into a bunch of adulterers and fornicators since, as he himself admits, Shi’a Islam still permits temporary marriages.
Way to go Shabir!
Therefore, in his zeal to defend the indefensible Ally ended up condemning his own prophet as an adulterer and fornicator, and for treating women as prostitutes (albeit indirectly).
Lord willing, we will be posting more of Ally’s indirect assaults against his messenger in the near future.
(1) It needs to be emphasized that just because these narratives satisfied al-Bukhari’s criteria for authenticity doesn’t prove that this somehow makes it a genuine saying of Muhammad. It simply means that those who claim to be Sunni Muslims like Shabir must contend with the fact that these reports met al-Bukhari’s strict and rigorous standards of reliability and therefore cannot simply be dismissed and brushed aside. Furthermore, without these sources Muslims such as Shabir cannot make heads or tails out of much of the Quran since a great bulk of it is quite unintelligible. In fact, it is these same collections of traditions that inform Ally how to pray, fast, dress, perform the Hajj, the amount of alms one is to give etc., all of which he takes advantage of and acts upon. And yet whenever these same sources prove too damaging for his cause and call into question Muhammad’s prophethood, Ally will not hesitate to attack their reliability.
This merely exemplifies the circular nature of Ally’s approach, i.e., assuming that Muhammad was a true prophet and therefore wouldn’t utter such nonsense or engage in and/or permit/promote gross immorality. It also proves that Ally is not interested in the religion of Islam as has been historically understood and practiced by the greatest Muslim scholars of the past fourteen hundred years. Rather, Ally is more concerned about spreading the message of HISlam, e.g., his version of Islam which only exists in his own mind.