128160: Does a slave woman become free if her master marries her? From IslamQA

Does a slave woman become free if her master marries her?.

Published Date: 2009-06-09
Praise be to Allaah.The scholars are unanimously agreed that it is not permissible for the master to marry his slave woman, because the contract of ownership is stronger than the contract of marriage, and it contains all the same conditions as the marriage contract and more. It is permissible for him to marry the slave woman of another man if the conditions of that are fulfilled

Ibn Qudaamah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

The master does not have the right to marry his slave woman because ownership makes him entitled to benefit (from what he owns) and intimacy, so it cannot be combined with a contract that is weaker than it. If he becomes his wife’s owner and she is a slave woman, her marriage contract is annulled; the same applies if a woman becomes the owner of her husband, her marriage contract is annulled. We do not know of any difference of opinion among the scholars concerning this. End quote.

Al-Mughni, 7/527

In his commentary on the verse (interpretation of the meaning): “And whoever of you have not the means wherewith to wed free believing women, they may wed believing girls from among those (slaves) whom your right hands possess” [al-Nisa’ 4:25], al-Qurtubi said:

the words “those (slaves) whom your right hands possess” mean: let him marry the slave woman of another. There is no difference of opinion among the scholars that it is not permissible for him to marry his own slave woman, because of the conflict of rights. End quote.

al-Jaami’ li Ahkaam al-Qur’aan, 5/139

Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan (may Allaah preserve him) said:

It is haraam for a slave to marry his mistress [owner] according to scholarly consensus, because there is a contradiction between her being his mistress and him being her husband, because each of them come under different rulings.

It is haraam for a master to marry his slave woman, because the contract of ownership is stronger than the contract of marriage, and a contract cannot be combined with one that is weaker than it. End quote.

Al-Mulakhkhas al-Fiqhi, 2/344

To sum up: a marriage contract cannot be done between a master and his slave woman; she remains his possession and under his ownership and she does not become free thereby.

If a man wants to marry his slave woman, then he must manumit her first so that she will become free, then he may marry her.

The Prophet SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There are three who will be given a double reward: a man from among the people of the Book who believed in his Prophet, then lived to see the Prophet (S) and followed him and believed in him– he will have a double reward; and a slave who fulfils his duty towards Allaah and towards his master – he will have a double reward; and a man who had a slave woman whom he fed and fed her well, and taught her and taught her well, then he set her free and married her – he will have a double reward”

narrated by al-Bukhaari (97) and Muslim (154).

And Allaah knows best.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Jesus calls on the man to take control of his senses and his actions, Islam just blames the woman and isolates her

Matthew 5 v 27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

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Hugh Fitzgerald: Rabbis Stand Up For Their “Hoosier Sisters and Brothers Who Are Muslim” (Part One), with comments

In Indianapolis a billboard was recently put up that has caused quite a stir.

It has been denounced as an “anti-Islam” billboard, because it lists six things about “the Perfect Man” (a clear reference to Muhammad, known in Islam as al-insan al-kamil, the Perfect Man), who (I quote verbatim the billboard): “1) married 6-year old 2) slave owner and dealer 3) rapist 4) 13 wives, 11 at a time 5) beheaded 600 Jews in one day 6) tortured and killed unbelievers.”

The Board of Rabbis of Indiana was outraged by this billboard, and produced a collective letter denouncing it:

The Indiana Board of Rabbis denounces the anonymously posted billboard on Interstate 465, which attacks Islam by denigrating its prophet. We repudiate the billboard’s reference to Jews as a justification for its disparaging message.

Jewish tradition recognizes the vast power of words to create or destroy. The Jewish sages of old likened “the evil tongue” to murder. The right to free speech in America does not give license to the dissemination of hatred.

We call for the billboard’s immediate removal. We stand in solidarity and friendship with our Hoosier sisters and brothers who are Muslim. And we will continue to promote tolerance, understanding and good will among all the faith communities in our state.

So the rabbis, while self-righteously declaring that “We stand in solidarity and friendship with our Hoosier sisters and brothers who are Muslim,” did not address any of the six charges made against Muhammad, nothing about their falsehood or their truth, did not try to refute even one, as if to do so were unnecessary. But they did “call for the billboard’s immediate removal,” a nice demonstration of their commitment to free speech. And there was this bizarre claim: “We repudiate the billboard’s reference to Jews as a justification for its disparaging message.” The reference to Jews was this: Muhammad “beheaded 600 Jews in one day.” That was indeed the case, as everyone who has read the passages about the Banu Qurayza in Ibn Ishaq’s biography, or in the sahih (authentic) hadiths, knows. In Yathrib (Medina), Muhammad had 600 to 900 male members of the Banu Qurayza, a Jewish tribe, bound and then beheaded, all in one day. He was present throughout.

The rabbis interpreted the mention of a massacre of Jews as something it clearly wasn’t intended to be — they described it as being exploited as “justification for its [the billboard’s] disparaging message.” No, it wasn’t meant as “justification” It was an important example of Muhammad at his murderous worst. Why shouldn’t it be mentioned? These rabbis must believe that one should never overlook antisemitic murders — except, it appears, if the murders are ordered by Muhammad, who was surely one of history’s most influential antisemites. What would they have thought if someone listing Muhammad’s deplorable acts had left out any mention of his anti-Jewish atrocities? Would that have pleased them? Wouldn’t such an omission have outraged the rabbis of Indiana? Or are they so far gone that any mention of Muhammad’s anti-Jewish acts would have infuriated them, as “not helpful under the present circumstances of rampant islamophobia”?

What those rabbis did not do is claim that they had carefully looked into the claims on the billboard,, and found them without foundation, nor did they give any indication that they would be interested in finding out whether those charges were true. It was the mere making of them that provoked their outrage. Perhaps they assumed that they all had to be false, for how could Muslims revere as the “Perfect Man” someone who had done the following: married a six-year old; had a total of 13 wives, 11 of them at one time; committed rape; beheaded (or had beheaded) 600 Jews; owned slaves; tortured and killed unbelievers? If those charges were true, what would that lead any sensible person to conclude about Islam? Still, one would like to know why those deeply distressed rabbis thought they had no responsibility, before calling for the billboard to be taken down, to do some research themselves, to see if one or more of those charges were true. Apparently they listen to a Higher Authority — and that Higher Authority is Muslim.

So let’s do what neither the rabbis, nor the reporters for the IndyStar, appear to have thought it necessary to undertake: that is, to find out what evidence, if any, there is for the six charges.

The first charge: did he “marry a 6-year-old”? Most Sunni scriptural sources accept that Aisha, the daughter of Muhammad’s friend Abu Bakr, was married to Muhammad when she was six, but continued to live with her parents until the age of nine, when she went to live with Muhammad and the marriage was consummated — that is, nine-year-old Aisha had sexual intercourse with Muhammad when he was 53. There are many sources in the Hadith for this. The most authoritative of all collections, the Sahih (authentic) Bukhari, states that Aisha was six years old when she married Muhammad, and nine years old when they consummated the marriage (Sahih al-Bukhari, 7:62:64). Do the indignant rabbis even know who Bukhari was, or why his mention of Aisha’s marriage carries such great weight? Does their ignorance make them at all uneasy? Or do they not care?

The second charge is that Muhammad had a total of 13 wives, with eleven of them the most he had at any one time. The main source for this is the Sira (biography of Muhammad) of Ibn Ishaq. All Muslim authorities agree that Muhammad had at least eleven wives. See, for example, Anas bin Malik, who testified that “the Prophet used to visit all his wives in a round, during the day and night and they were eleven in number.” But in total, over his lifetime, he had at least two other wives. Some Islamic sources even claim he had a total of fifteen wives. But the main point has been made. Muhammad took many wives (and in addition to his wives, he had several concubines at any one time), and allowed himself many more wives than he allowed his followers who, while polygamous, had to stop at four. The word “misogyny” comes to mind. And so does the word “hypocrisy.”

The third charge is that Muhammad committed rape. Is there evidence to back this up? It’s hard not to think that the only word for what he did when he forced himself on his slave girls, those women “whom his right hand possessed,” who were always available, is “rape.” But let’s consider just one such case, that of the beautiful Jewish girl, Saafiya, who was part of the booty Muhammad took when he raided the Khaybar Oasis. The same day that her father and uncle had been killed by Muhammad’s men, and her husband tortured to death in front of her, and all of her other male relatives also put to death, Muhammad had sexual intercourse with her. It’s related in the hadith of Muslim (who with Bukhari is considered to be the most trustworthy of hadith scholars): “That [same] day Saafiya’s husband was tortured and beheaded in front of her eyes, her father and brothers were killed, her sisters, cousins, and mother were given away to jihadis as booty and then Mohammed still wearing bloody clothes with the blood of her relatives, had sex with her.”

Would anyone describe what Muhammad did to Saafiya as consensual sex? Of course not. Yes, Muhammad raped Saafiya, and we can find in the hadith and sira other examples of his having non-consensual intercourse with women “whom his right hand possessed.” Muhammad was a rapist many times over. And how should we describe Muhammad’s intercourse with a nine-year-old girl? Was she capable of giving “consent” to that intercourse, or should we describe what he did with little Aisha as “rape”? Did the good rabbis of Indiana bother to look into this charge or did they regard it as so implausible — how could “the Perfect Man” also be a rapist? — that they felt there was no need to do so? What do they make of the story of Saafiyah? Or that of nine-year-old Aisha and 53-year-old Muhammad? Anything? Nothing?

The fourth charge on the billboard is that Muhammad “beheaded 600 Jews in one day.” This is a reference to the killing of all the adult males of the Jewish tribe of the Banu Qurayza in Yathrib (Medina). The Banu Qurayza had taken no side in the fight between Muhammad and the Meccans who besieged his forces in Medina. Nonetheless, once the siege was lifted, with the Meccans having withdrawn — thereby depriving Muhammad of the chance of booty — he ordered that the inoffensive Banu Qurayza be attacked. For 25 days Muhammad’s forces besieged the Jewish tribe until it finally surrendered. Muhammad then ordered that all males who had reached the age of puberty should be seized, bound with rope, and beheaded. Between 600 and 900 were killed. There is some evidence that Muhammad personally engaged in the slaughter. Not only does the earliest narrative bluntly say that the apostle “sent for them” and “made an end of them,” but there is also support for this in the Qur’an. Qur’an 33:26 says of the Qurayza, “some you slew, some you took captive.” The “captives” were the women and girls, taken as sex slaves. The Arabic “you” is in the plural, but the Quran is supposed to be Allah’s conversation with Muhammad, so it makes no sense that he would be excluded. In any case, to make the point again, just as we can say that “Saddam Hussein killed 182,000 Kurds” without meaning that he did so personally, it is perfectly understandable to say that Muhammad “beheaded 600 Jews” (Abu Dawud 4390). And in fact, over his life, Muhammad was responsible for the deaths of far more Jews than just those of the Banu Qurayza.

The fifth charge on the Indianapolis billboard is that Muhammad “tortured and killed unbelievers.” By that is clearly meant that he ordered that certain people be tortured and killed, not that he did it himself. One example of this is from an authoritative hadith collection, the Sahih Muslim:

“They were caught and brought to him (the Holy Prophet). He commanded about them, and (thus) their hands and feet were cut off and their eyes were gouged and then they were thrown in the sun, until they died.” (Sahih Muslim 4131). This account is also confirmed by at least three other narrations.

Another such example is that of Kinana of Khaybar, a Jewish man from whom Muhammad wanted to extract information about hidden treasure. Some of the treasure was given up by Kinana. But Muhammad suspected that more was hidden, and he ordered one of his followers to torture Kwinana until he revealed where the treasure was hidden: “‘Torture him until you extract what he has.’ So he [the follower] kindled a fire with flint and steel on his chest until he was nearly dead. Then the apostle [Muhammad] delivered him to Muhammad b. Maslama and he struck off his head, in revenge for his brother Mahmud.”

And there are so many other assassinations ordered by Muhammad, particularly of those who had mocked him, such as the poetess Asma bint Marwan, or sown doubt about him, as did the 120-year old Jewish poet Abu ‘Afak, or appeared to be disloyal to him, like still another Jewish poet, Ka’b ibn al-Ashraf — all three of them killed on Muhammad’s orders. The list of those he ordered to be murdered is very long (Bukhari 56:369, 4:241). So it’s true: Muhammad did have men and women killed, and some tortured as well. Would the rabbis of Indiana wish to exculpate Muhammad because he merely ordered people to be tortured and killed, and didn’t do it all himself? Didn’t we hear something of the sort from Adolf Eichmann?

The sixth charge is that Muhammad owned and traded in slaves. Could that possibly be true? Why, yes it could. In one famous hadith, he trades two black slaves he owned for one white slave whom he wanted to free:

There came a slave and pledged allegiance to Allah’s Apostle on migration; he (the Holy Prophet) did not know that he was a slave. Then there came his master and demanded him back, whereupon Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: Sell him to me. And he bought him for two black slaves [whom Muhammad owned] , and he did not afterwards take allegiance from anyone until he had asked him whether he was a slave (or a free man) (Sahih Muslim 3901).

He also gave sex slaves to three followers who later succeeded him as caliph: “The apostle gave Ali a girl called Rayta; and he gave Uthman a girl called Zaynab; and he gave Umar a girl whom Umar gave to his son Abdullah.” (The two sources for this are Ibn Ishaq’s biography of Muhammad, and Ibn Kathir, the author of a celebrated commentary to the Qur’an). He encouraged his men to rape enslaved women (Abu Dawood 2150, Quran 4:24) and to take as many sex slaves from captured women as they wanted.

And even when Muslims concede that Muhammad was a slave-owner, in his defense they say that he urged better treatment for slaves, or they “contextualize” the slavery by saying that “it was the common practice of those times.” That may well have been, but it does not refute the charge that he bought, sold, traded, and captured slaves, without the slightest moral qualms.

Muhammad’s life was a succession of warfare, plundering, and killings. In the last ten years of his life, he engaged in 65 military campaigns and raids. He murderously practiced what he murderously preached: “Fight everyone in the way of Allah and kill those who disbelieve in Allah.” (Ibn Ishaq 992). He ordered the killing of captives taken in battle (Ibn Ishaq 451). He took female captives as sex slaves. He ordered the killing of those who mocked or spoke against him. He ordered the torture, before killing, of Kinana of Khaybar. He was ferociously against the Jews. What do the rabbis make of this history? I don’t think they make anything of it. I think they are deliberately refusing to learn about Muhammad, for fear of what they might find out. It’s an unbearable thought, that they might then have to take issue with, beg to differ from, even question entirely, the received version of Islam fed them by their “Hoosier sisters and brothers who are Muslim.”

Where does this leave us? It leaves us with all six of the charges leveled at Muhammad having textual support in one or more of the Islamic texts — Qur’an, Hadith (especially the “authentic” hadith of Bukhari and Muslim), and the Sira (the biography by Ibn Ishaq, as set down by Ibn Hisham), the history of Al-Tabari, the tafsir (commentary) of Ibn Kathir, and other islamically authoritative sources.

When the rabbis decided to publish their letter, demanding that the billboard be taken down, what did they know, and when did they know it?

NYC: Muslim screaming “Allahu akbar” breaks into church, vows to “kill any Christians”
Ramadan in Mali: Two dead as jihadis storm tourist resort popular with Westerners


    1. Phil says

      June 19, 2017 at 5:58 am

      I wish that I could sincerely say that this is unbelievable in the face of what has been happening all over Europe and the US. But it is all too familiar.

    1. Malcolm (South Afric) says

      June 19, 2017 at 6:09 am

      Is this the new form of vigilantes or representation, to form a bulwark against truth, open discussion,

    1. Charli Main says

      June 19, 2017 at 6:15 am

      ” we will continue to promote tolerance, understanding and good will among all the faith communities in our state.”

      A fine epitaph to engrave on the tombstone of western democracy.

        • john spielman says

          June 19, 2017 at 7:34 am

          exactly- i believe the Lord God has allowed a veil to be placed over the face of our society because of our rejection of Christ – so that islamic deception is no longer recognized and refuted but embraced.
          foolish rabbis, and the world in general – they( Jews) and we ( gentiles) may face another holocaust- this time by islamofascism

    1. billybob says

      June 19, 2017 at 6:26 am

      I think we should write to our Jewish brethren in Indianapolis with a link to Hugh Fitzgerald’s informative article that they may find other more worthy causes of concern.

        • WPM says

          June 19, 2017 at 7:10 am

          The Rabbis are like the Roman Catholic Pope and many other main stream Christian, and Jewish leaders they think if we play nice they the” Islamics” they will start being nice to us. It has not work once in 1400 years ,the true is out there in every country in the world, under every kind of government ,culture, language ,race Islam when if it is a presents in the land in any great number is a problem .I am sorry 1 am ignorant on the Buddhist and Hindu religious leaders take is on the “Islamic” problem. I do no think the leaders of Christian and Jewish faiths should push for any violence but at least state there is a problem with a faith that wants to wipe you off the face of the earth!

    1. Lon Spector says

      June 19, 2017 at 7:04 am

      Hitler was a Nazi. That’s short for National Socalist. No doubt the Jews of his time thought
      that the socalism aspect meant Hitler couldn’t be THAT bad. They found out otherwise.
      Now, ignoring all history, the Jews believe that if they make nice with the Muslims their lives
      would be spared. After all, it’s mostly Christians who are being butchered. They will find out

        • WPM says

          June 19, 2017 at 7:24 am

          True Islamics are like Nazism on steroids. Older stronger more deeply root in the souls of the people taught from birth to death in there holy books of hate. Only truth will set the Moslems free of the faith that cripples the soul of true believers. The other religions of the world should put that truth out there not hid it that light under a bushel basket. Islam is the only religion in the world you have a death sentence if you leave it. If it was a religion of peace and love that would not be needed.

    1. Chatillon says

      June 19, 2017 at 7:31 am

      What strikes me as curious is the words “Mohammed”, “Muslim” and “Islam” appear nowhere on the billboard, yet so many are aware of the Muslim outrage. Do these allies of Muslim outrage know of the context, clearly presented in Mr. Fitzgerald’s posting, or do they merely know of the Muslim outrage?

      The world has benefited much from Jewish scholasticism. So why does it fail in this case with these scholars?

  1. Mark Spahn (West Seneca, NY) says

    June 19, 2017 at 7:36 am

    “That [same] day Saafiya’s husband was tortured and beheaded in front of her eyes, her father and brothers were killed, her sisters, cousins, and mother were given away to jihadis as booty and then Mohammed[,] still wearing bloody clothes with the blood of her relatives, had sex with her.”
    This quotation is attributed to the hadith compiler sahih Muslim, but no chapter-and-verse are cited. Let’s have the citation, to verify it online. Who prepared this English translation, and when? The wording “had sex with her” sounds modern, and unscriptural.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Mohammed without Camouflage

[ Note: This article was written during World War I, and published shortly thereafter. This will help to understand some of the references to ‘current circumstances’. ]

Ecce Homo……Arabicus

W.H.T. Gairdner

The ISLAMIC REVIEW — the monthly organ of the Woking cult — leads off its 1917 volume with what it calls “OUR PROPHET’S BIRTHDAY NUMBER”1 This number from end to end consists of panegyrics on the Founder of Islam from the pens of various persons, not all of them (apparently) within the Islamic fold, but all of them of one mind in attributing every excellence to Mohammed, and disclaiming for him every fault above a negligible magnitude. The Mohammedan writers further claim for him the position of perfect human exemplar and final ethical standard.

We have meditated for some time on this remarkable number, and the following article represents some of our meditations.

First, we wish to protest with all our might against the way in which our Moslem friends practically force us into a position in which we appear to be that poor thing, the advocatus diaboli. If the question were nothing more than the estimating of the character of a great historic personage, a great reformer, enthusiast, statesman, what you will, then we could let it go at that, and with the ringers ring the changes on his greatness and his merits, mentioning manifest blots without any particular emphasis, as things appertaining to his times and environment. Nay, we have often enough done so. For, prate our detractors as they will, we believe and dare to assert that the sketches or biographies of Mohammed which have shown most seriousness, most sympathetic insight, and most concern of all aspects of the subject-matter, are some by Christian missionaries or missionary supporters. The secular Christian writers are too worldly, often too scornful: they miss the mark by trying to treat secularly of what was fundamentally religious. On the other hand, the works of modern Mohammedans and Islamophils are incorrigible in their glozing over of plain but uncongenial facts, and they invariably topple over into fulsomeness. But is Muir wanting in either religious sympathy or truth? Who has convicted him of untruth or even of inaccuracy? He simply reproduces the sources as they stand, and the grounds of his verdicts are stated with perfect clearness and candour.

This being so, we greatly resent being exhibited as mere detractors, or being forced into appearing as such. For two things do seem often to force us, against our will, into apparently taking that position: namely, the downright untruthfulness in the way of concealment and evasion; and, secondly, the fact that so much more is claimed for Mohammed than the right to be called a great and good man. No, he must be the best; the perfect fruit of humanity; the man par excellence: the blameless exemplar! And, per contra, the figure of Jesus in the Gospels must (in the polite productions of the Islamic press) be held up to many a delicate insinuation of inferiority2, to a patronizing hardly concealing its real total want of sympathy; or (in the writers of the lewder sort) to the grossest forms of self-defamatory attack. In short Ecce Homo is to be transferred from the Nazarene to the Arabian.

Obviously those who make these claims and set up these comparisons render silence impossible, and, unfortunately, make the work of Mohammed-criticism, for mere truth’s sake, inevitable. But when there is no option, then the work is not that of an advocatus diaboli, but an advocatus Dei. This reckless tampering with ethical values must be prevented at any cost. And the criticisms thus wrung from us, based directly as they are on the facts taken straight from the Arabic authorities, must not and shall not be cried down as “bigotry”, nor yet deprecated because such criticism offends the dangerous element of the Moslem public. The latter plea, by the way, would be particularly cowardly if it came from the protected serenity of a mosque-precinct in England.

The view we shall substantiate is, we submit, that “Our Prophet’s Birthday Number” gives us a Mohammed-cum-lavender-water: that the true Mohammed was really an Arabian of the seventh-century, with (it may be) all the virtues of his time and some in which he was beyond his time; also with many of the violence and sins of his time and environment: and that therefore the claims made for him (but not by him) to be humanity’s beau-ideal and consummate example for ever, is a pernicious one, and in the name of the God of Truth must be rejected and resisted – wa la mu’akhadha fi dhalik.

The comments on the life of the Founder of Islam which we think are demanded by truth and right shall not be our own. They are drawn straight from the records of the Moslem chroniclers themselves. Further, they will not be vague generalities, still less vulgar abuse: they will consist of the citation of specific instances drawn from the said chronicles, and these (we are told in the editorial to the number under examination) are reliable: “the record of the acts and sayings of the Prophet Mohammed himself is exceptionally complete, faithful, and correct” (p. 3). So be it. We hope that after this we shall have no attempt to get rid of embarrassing incidents by means of an absolutely arbitrary “criticism”. We do not want to hear now from these people that a traditionalist like al-Bukhari, an historian like Ibn Hisham, or a favorite biographer like al-Halabi are incomplete, unfaithful, or incorrect”. As a matter of fact, the incidents in question are just the sort which a criticism of al-Bukhari, Ibn Hisham, and al-Halabi — and needless to say such a criticism is inevitable — would leave untouched; for they occur in what might be called the prosaic parts of the biography; they are the incidents which were the most complete, sharply defined and easily remembered; and therefore likely to be most faithfully recorded and handed down, — the ordinary historic stuff which, in the life of any man, is least likely to be intentionally or unintentionally twisted. And, besides, what would it boot to meet us with a feeble, arbitrary, subjective criticism of the sources of these three books? Two (al Bukhari and al Halabi) are among the two most popular and universal in the Dar al Islam. The incidents recorded therein have been accepted by the general mind of billions of Mohammedans for over a thousand years, — moulding their thoughts and ideals into a public opinion that is absolutely perdurable and permanent. For a millennium the universal conscience of Islam has approved of the things chronicled in these books; has found in them nothing to censure but on the contrary everything to esteem and admire. From the viewpoint therefore of “Mohammed as Moral Ideal” these incidents are all of equal importance, and for a Mohammedan to raise at this time of day the question of the historical actuality of this or that incident is to commit an absolute irrelevance. Apart from all which, as already said, the question cannot be raised by Mohammedans in virtue of any genuine critical apparatus possessed by them. The fact is that it only can be and only is raised a priori, by those who, when they find themselves among Christians and in a Christian atmosphere, jib at many things in the sira which have not caused, and which do not cause, so much as one qualm in a truly Mohammedan environment. Such ‘historical’ scruples are therefore simply a convincing tribute to the moral and spiritual superiority of the Catholic-Christian ideal, and to the serious and felt defectiveness of the Catholic-Islamic one. We welcome them as a sign that truth will surely conquer; and we pass on3.

Mohammed and the “Morals of War”.For special pleading and assumed superiority it would be hard to beat the following:

“If God had to come as the ‘ideal representative and guide of humanity’, as it is said he did in the person of Jesus, we could have been more benefited if God had appeared as a king or a statesman. He could have left better rules for the guidance of Christian kings and statesmen in Europe, and the world would have been saved this terrible conflagration with which is has been thrown under ambition and self-assertiveness. Christendom wanted a God in the person of a general and an emperor rather than in a “Prince of peace”, to guide Christian nations in their recent slaughter of humanity. He could have taught then the morals of war4. Perhaps His precepts and action in this respect might have proved a better check in this war and all that has created in Europe a long and sombre procession of cruelty and suffering and a most deplorable and tragic spectacle of bloodshed and destress.”

As if the spirit of Christianity had not been steadily evolving an international code of decency and practicable humaneness in war, the deliberate scrapping of which by some is just what is raising up the whole world in it defence! As if “rule for guidance” can ever avail where spirit and principle have been denied! As if either rules or principle stopped a single Ottoman conqueror in Hungary, or a Mahmoud or Timur in India, from committing slaughters and atrocities! As if, from the days of the fathers of Islam until now, either Koran or Sunna had ever eliminated the “ambition and self-assertiveness” which have caused the countless wars between Mohammadans from the days of ‘Uthman down to those of Mulai Hafiz! As if Mohammed himself, at all times and on every occasion, taught by his example the highest “morals of war”! But to proceed.

“Hague Conventions” of the Seventh Century.The passage before us, and others in the number, appears to censure Prussian methods. But is there not a real analogy between the way in which Prussia has washed out the old European-Christian conventions and codes, and the resolute way in which Mohammed ignored and destroyed some of the most sacred conventions which embodied the public conscience of Arabia at that time, and represented the best and noblest to which the Arabs had been hitherto able to rise?

For example, one of the holiest articles of “international” i.e. inter-tribal morality in Arabia was that in all wars and raids the date-palms should be spared. At the raid on the Bani Nadir, however, in A.H. 4, Mohammed “had the date-palms of the Nadirites” — their pride, glory, and chief means of sustenance — “burned or cut down.” The narrative is from Ibn Ishaq, the oldest biographer of Mohammad5, who continues: “Then they cried, O Mohammed, have you not punished forbidden acts of destructiveness, and censured whoever commits such? How then can you have these date-palms cut down and burnt?”6

No answer was reported! What answer could there have been — except “military necessity”!7

This was not the only time where the consciences of his own followers caused outspoken disapproval of something for which Mohammed gave permission (rakhkhas, see Muslim vol. ii p. 220). But it was of no avail. Muslims (loc. cit.) tells us what happened on one such occasion. “He got so angry hat his anger was visible on his face”! And the scruples were dashed aside by the assertion that he was the most god-fearing of them all.

A still holier law than the one prohibiting the destruction of date-palms, — the one, in fact, which made social life possible in Arabia at that time, — was the Truce of God which forbade all fighting during the four “sacred months.” Only an anarch or an outlaw ever dreamed of infringing this law. Yet in one of the earliest raids launched from al Madina on the Quraishites this law was flagrantly broken. The story can be found in any of the biographies in the chapter about the raid on the Kinana in the sacred month of Rajab. But a most interesting addition to it has been discovered in the traditions collected by Ahmed b. Hanbal. From this it appears that Sa’d b. Waqqas was the original leader. Sa’d’s own account will be found translated in Margoliouth’s Life, page 243 8. Not all the details are clear — in fact, to leave some of them obscure was necessary. Also, the whole incident has formed the subject of controversy, and much sophistry. But no obscurity and no sophism can explain away the following facts: (1) Mohammed sent Sa’d out on a warlike operation during Rajab. (2) The recently Islamised Junaiha were scandalized. (3) Sa’d and his party themselves believed that they were out to fight during that month, — not to wait till the next. (4) When nevertheless they returned empty-handed the Prophet went “red with rage.” (5) He immediately appointed the unscrupulous ‘Abdallah b. Jahsh, who left with sealed orders, the text of which contained definite instructions to attack a party who were going without escort under cover of the sacred month, though the precise command to do so in that month was wanting (litera scripta manet!) (6) This was done, and blood was shed, during the truce. (7) The act was, finally, expressly justified by Mohammed, in the name of Allah and the scandal which it created9 was thus silenced.

The manifest desire of some apologists to show that Mohammed did not order the Truce to be violated is valuable as showing their opinion of such an act. Unfortunately, for them, the facts are against them, and him.

Rapes by Moslem TroopsSo much for the violation of conventions deemed sacred by the conscience of that time. But there were also violations of laws of humanity itself. We have heard with shuddering of the wholesale rapes during the present campaign: what will the public think, and what will Woking say, when it is known that troops composed of the first Mohammedan saints and martyrs and commanded by Mohammed in person, committed rape on the field on at least one occasion and under peculiarly shocking circumstances? The occassion was after the overthrow of the Bani Mustaliq at the wells of Marasi’, when many of the two hundred captured women of the tribe (expressly said to be free women and not slaves, kara’im al ‘Arab Halabi ii 296) were raped by Mohammed’s men with his full consent10! There can be no doubt about the facts; they are narrated by all the most reputed of the Traditionalists, and by at least two of the historians11: so much so that a certain point in the Shari’a itself is settled by reference to the incident12. The violated wives had actually still to be bought back by their husbands. We refrain from translating the passage in full, for the simple reason that it is really unprintable. The prejudiced Muir and other Christian historians (until “Caetini”!) have…. kept silent on the incident! Let not their generosity however be now represented as a silent verdict on their part that the incident is spurious. The authority is far too strong, as we saw. And who would have invented such things? And even supposing the incident is spurious, it was and is accepted by Islam as absolute truth, — except of course when Christians are in the neighborhood.

Nor was this an isolated incident. The very fact that on at lest two occasions, Khaybar13 and Hunain14, Mohammed had to regulate what might be done with women taken on the field shows this sufficiently. It was at Hunain that he definitely enacted, against the scruples of some of his followers, that capture on the field ipso facto dissolved previous (heathen) marriages (see Koran iv 22); and that married wives (not merely virgins and slave-girls), their husbands being living and most likely present, might be passed to the immediate15 use of their conquerors, provided that certain precautions were taken against pregnancy. Are we to add these prescriptions to the universal “morals of war”?

Deportation, and an Execution En-MasseAgain, wholesale deportations of defenseless people have lately excited the indignation of humanity. But this deporting was done without scruple and on a large scale in the wars conducted from the City of Mohammed. We must not judge the practice and conditions of that time from the standpoint of the present day? But we thought that the whole point of the “Birthday Number” was to show that “Our Prophet’s” example and practice was to standardise morality, (and especially “the morals of war”) for all time?

The wealthy, prosperous Jewish tribe of the Qainuqa’ had to purchase dear life itself by submitting to this wholesale deportation. They went off in the direction of Syria, where they vanish from history. For ought we know, or any Moslem cared, they may have perished as the deported Armenians have. Their goods were confiscated. It is utterly impossible to assert that the special occasion justified such fearful severity, for the whole matter was occasioned by a private brawl. The real cause was the impossibility of winning over that Jewish tribe to the new order of things16.

The plea of the apologists is that Mohammed was the de facto ruler of Madina and that he, in agreeing with the patrons of these Jewish tribes, had virtually agreed with the tribes, so that their opposition was treachery. We only remark (a) the “Kitab” of A.H. was a rescript not an agreement; (b) one of the tribes definitely denied the existence of any agreement with Mohammed (la a ‘qda bainana wa baina Muhammadin wala ‘ahd) and the two Sa’ds did not in reply appeal to the kitab (Hisham p. 675); and, (c) the Qainuqa’ had admittedly not got further than foolish boastings and taunts (Hisham p. 545). Does the perfect human ethic approve of the designed slaughter of the manhood of a tribe for this?

As a matter of fact, these Qainuqa’ only owed their escape from wholesale massacre to the pertinacity of the temporiser ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy, not to the humanity of Mohammed. It is explicitly stated by Tabari that “they came down for the judgment of the Prophet: then they were bound, he being determined on their slaughter17“. Then ‘Abdullah intervened. But for this, their “700 warriors” would have shared the horrible fate the ultimately overtook the men of the Bani Quraiza18. As it was ‘Abdallah’s desperate persistence “made the Prophet wroth, so that his countenance became quite dark.” He was furious at being obliged to spare those hundreds of human lives.

In just the same way the Bani Nadir were expelled from their country and nearly the whole of their goods were plundered. The excuses for this proceeding, indeed for the whole campaign against them, were of the flimsiest and will not stand a moment’s analysis. For example, the charge of treachery, which ostensibly occasioned and justified the original attack was tacitly dropped. It is not so much as mentioned in the Koran (Surah 58).

This bad business of deportation was later given up, because it was found to be bad economics, and the “more profitable practice of constituting the subject-tribe as tribute paying dhimmis was instituted.” Thus the tribe of Khaybar was not deported but made tributary19.

A darker fate overtook the Bani Quraiza, the fate that the Qainuqa’ only just avoided. These people had certainly waged actual war with the Mohammedans and had helped to put Madina in great danger. But then, they had seen the fate of the Qainuqa’ and the Bani Nadir! At any rate their punishment was horrible, and that though they capitulated in the apparently satisfactory hope that their lives would be spared. It is perfectly clear, however, that this time Mohammed had decided that no meddling ‘Abdallah should stop the blood from flowing20, though with unworthy want of candor he employed a transparent device, by which the fatal decision should appear not to be his but that of the umpire who was agreed on between him and the Jews themselves. Between 600 and 900 men were beheaded over a trench in a single night! The women and children were treated as booty. “Our Propher’s Birthday Number” would have us adopt this also, we presume, as a sample of the perfect ethics of war, and as an element in the human beau-ideal.

The umpire who gave the fatal decision (Sa’d) was extravagantly praised by Mohammed21. Yet his action was wholly and admittedly due to his lust for personal vengeance on a tribe which had occasioned him a painful wound. In the agony of its treatment he cried out,—M “O God, let not my soul go forth ere thou has cooled my eye from the Bani Quraiza”22. This was the arbiter to whose word the fate of that tribe was given over. His sentiments were well-known to Mohammed, who appointed him. It is perfectly clear from that that their slaughter had been decreed.

What makes it clearer still is the assertion of another biographer23 that Mohammed had refused to treat with the Bani Quraiza at all until they had “come down to receive the judgement of the Apostle of God.” Accordingly “they came down”; in other words put themselves in his power. And only then was the arbitration of Sa’d proposed and accepted, — but not accepted until it had been forced on him by Mohammed; for Sa’d first declined, and tried to make Mohammed take the responsibility, but was told “qad amarak Allahu an tahkuma fihim” “Allah has commanded you to give sentence in their case”24.

From every point of view therefore the evidence is simply crushing that Mohammed was the ultimate author of this massacre. His own thin attempt to conceal this fact, and the neo-Moslems’ attempt to shift the responsibility on to Sa’d, merely prove that neither his conscience not theirs have been at rest over the dark affair.

The milder fate of the Khaybarites has already been mentioned. Yet the campaign against them was marked by two very shocking individual incidents.

(1) One of the surrendered Jews, Kinana, was believed to have a certain treasure which he had refrained from handing over. He denied it existence, but Mohammed asked him whether he might kill him if it was found. He assented. A renegade then revealed the cache where part of it was hidden and then, at Mohammed’s bidding, the wretch was tortured “till he should give up the whole.” He was plied with fire-brands thrust on to his breast, till be was near death, when Muhammad gave him over to Ibn Maslama who slew him for his brother Mahmoud25. All this, be it observed, after the entire surrender of the tribe had taken place; and over a question of booty, pure and simple. Such was another piece of “frightfulness” to which the first saints of Islam were introduced by their leader. Are we to adopt these methods also as an article in “the ethics of war”, and also weave the action into our ideal for a perfect human character?

(2) The wife of the man thus tortured to death, the beautiful Safiyya (whose father and brother had also perished at the hands of Mohammed) become nevertheless within a few days his wedded wife! That she was willing to do this thing, (as she was), merely arouses astonished disgust towards her26. But it has nothing to do with the verdict which the incident calls for. The thing took place because Mohammed conceived a passion for the woman. It is high time that the ignorant or hypocritical statements of neo-Mohammedan writers, to the effect that all Mohammed’s marriage and demi-marriage connections were made for humanitarian or political (etc., etc.) reasons, and that the women in question were elderly or otherwise unattractive, should be put a stop to. These statements are becoming stereotyped among apologist writers both of the west and the east. But they are false; and they are made either ignorantly of falsely. To take the present case only — and from it the cases of Raihana and Zainab may also be judged27: the records make the matter perfectly plain. The woman’s beauty was well-known, and it made an instant impression. When it was announced “Oh Apostle of God, there has fallen to the lot of Dahya a beautiful damsel”, the Apostle of God immediately (we are told) “purchase her.”28 The marriage was hastened on with a speed that set at defiance even the decent (and sacred) law of ‘idda29; and, finally, there were several special circumstances that showed the extreme complacency of the bridegroom, — which as usual occasioned tears in the hareem. In view of these facts, and of the case of Juwairiyya (see footnote), the remarks of Mr. S.H. Leeder in B.N. p. 31 reach the very nadir of ineptitude and soft untruth.

Unprovoked Attacks.“Mohammed was compelled to wage wars, but never a sword was drawn but as a last resort to defend human life and secure safety to it.” Thus Mr. Sadr ud Din in the “Birthday Number”, p. 23.

Is this in the least true? The biographers30 make it perfectly clear that the earliest object of the very first warlike raids planned by Mohammed was to cut off and capture Makkan caravans[Appendix]. There is not the least hint in these accounts of anything else, nor of the existence of any necessity for instituting defensive operations. Ibn Sa’d, for instance, leads off his account of the Wars of the Prophet (al maghazi) with the words kharaga Hamza ya’iarid li’ir quraish, “Hamza went out to intercept the caravan of the Quraish which had come from Syria making for Makka.31” Ibn Ishaq is equally explicit. According to him32 the first expedition was so militarily and strategically planned that it had in view not merely the Quraish but the perfectly neutral Bani Damra, the position of whose territory vis-a-vis of Makka was strategically important. The document promulgated by Mohammed shortly after his arrival in Madina makes clear in its 20th article that he regarded himself and all his people as in a state of de facto hostility with the Quraish of Makka.33 The sending of cutting-out expeditions followed as a matter of course; and the swords of cutting-out expeditions do not usually abide in their sheaths. And so blood inevitably flowed. Later on, as success grew, the object of the Holy War became the right to worship at the Ka’ba in the way of Islam. And finally, or course, it became the conquest of Arabia (and later the whole world) for Islam. There is not the smallest piece of concrete evidence that the Makkans meditated hostilities on the Moslems after having once relieved Makka of their uncongenial presence. With the fullest knowledge of all the Arabic sources34 Caetani in a note on this subject (vol. i. p. 423) is crushingly conclusive: “Qui (i.e. in the first expedition) abbiamo vera e propria aggressione meditata: nessuna attenuante per necessità di difese: i Qurays non si davano alcun pensiero di molestare il Profeta in Medina.” [Here we have true and properly meditated aggression: no attenuating for the need of defense: the Quraish did not give any thought to annoy the Prophet in Medina.]

Compare these plain facts now with the windy remark of Mr. Sadr ad Din quoted above. The Neo-Moslems do not tell the truth: that is the trouble.35

So much for the earliest raids; in which, it is especially recorded (Ibn Sa’d i 3), the first arrow shot was shot by a Moslem (Sa’d ibn Waqqas), and the first blood shed was shed by a Moslem (in the raid in the Sacred Month, see above). After this point it became unprofitable to pursue the enquiry as to who was provoker and who provoked. When the whole of a history is written up by the conquerors it is easy to show the conquered as invariably in the wrong. Imagine the history of the invasion of Serbia written by Austrian historians A.D. 2050, all Serbians having disappeared or been absorbed! Nevertheless, it is often possibly to see that there was no provocation or that the provocation was itself provoked, so indifferent are the Moslem historians to casus belli in such cases, trained as they were to think that the whole world was Dar ul Harb and that the non-Islamism of any state was the one real and sufficient casus belli. We have seen that a mere private brawl occasioned the expatriation, which almost included the decimation, of the Bani Qainuqa’; and that the Bani Nadir also were attacked for reasons which, even as stated, will not bear a moment’s examination. But in other cases, one act of violence became the cause, and even the justification, of the next. For the weak are always, and of necessity, in the wrong.

Take for instance the affair of Khaybar. Caetani to whom Mr. S. Khuda Bukhsh would have us appeal, states roundly and very strongly that this attack was utterly unmotivated, and that it is an instance of the most purely arbitrary aggression36. This is morally true; but it would be more accurate to say that it is an instance where an aggression was a natural and inevitable result of previous ones. Consider the following train of circumstances.

(1) The Bani Nadir are attacked and exiled, as we have seen, without cause.

(2) A party of them, under a declared rebel Abu Rafi’, settle among their kindred, the tribe of Khaybar, a somewhat distant settlement in the opposite direction from Makka. Note that the departing Nadirites had not been discouraged from settling there or elsewhere. They were perfectly free in this matter.

(3) The presence of Abu Rafi’ now “justifies” an expedition under ‘Ali (without notice) against the tribe of Khybar, with no result.

(4) The sudden assassination of Abu Rafi’ is next procured by Mohammed. The assassin was ‘Abdallah ibn Unais.

(5) It is related by Waqidi that the immigrant Nadirites now begin to engineer from Khaybar a league with the Quraish for the subversion of Islam. Supposing it true, it is rather naive in Waqidi not to give the smallest suggestion that an unprovoked campaign, and the assassination of a guest in the bosom of the host-tribe, might justifiably have something to do with the hostility of the Khaybarites! But up to this time it is only the exiled Nadirites who are as a matter of fact mentioned in this connection. The awakening of the Khaybarites came after the Quraiza massacre.

(6) Waqidi reports37 though here again not a single other historian or biographer bears him out, that the appalling news of the Bani Quraiza massacre reached Khaybar where an indescribable consternation was created. At a meeting of these Bani Nadirites and the Khaybarites it was then proposed “as it is certain that Mohammed will next attack Khaybar, to anticipate him.” This was agreed to38.

(7) The successor of Abu Rafi’, Usair, is also suspected and his assassination is determined on, but it is not found to be feasible. Nevertheless he and his followers are subsequently destroyed, while unarmed and under safe-conduct, under most dubious circumstances (see below), and by the almost professional assassin ‘Abdallah ibn Unais.

(8) No more is reported from Khaybar. But the Khaybarites are next attacked suddenly and in fullest strength, six months later. They are totally despoiled; their rich possessions are divided among the conquerors.

We think that a candid examination of the above train of circumstances, which are here brought together for the first time, will show clearly how hopeless was the position of a tribe like Khaybar, which originally, no doubt, simply wanted to be left in peace. To the very end of the chapter no semblance of a negotiation was carried on with the Khaybarites themselves. The blow fell, when it fell, like lightening, a surprise attack without either declaration of war or even remonstrance. Yet “never” a sword was drawn but “as a last resort”, etc., etc., (Mr. Sadr ud Din); and we are to see in all this an example of “the morals of war” — and we presume of diplomacy also! The fact is that the theory “I will destroy you because I fear, or pretend to fear, you will attack me”, with which also we have been familiarized of late, is a ruinously dangerous one in the hands of anyone who from the beginning determines to be on top. And, observe, when the weaker begins to think of acting on the same theory (if Waqidi’s account is to be trusted), his action is to be considered a piece of unqualified aggression, and the counterstroke becomes an act of merest defence! So impossible is it for the weaker under such circumstances ever to be right, or the stronger ever to be wrong. It is further to be noticed that the Khaybarites had not the smallest doubt as to Mohammed’s principles and practice in these matters. And their plot, if there was a plot, was simply the result of the despair engendered by the knowledge. Not even Waqidi asserts that there had been any previous ill-will39.

It were unprofitable to follow out any further the justifiability or unjustifiability of the many campaigns of the period, or to study them from the viewpoint of “the morals of war.” But just to show how far the Moslems had got by this time from all pretence of waiting for provocation, we might mention the expeditions against the Christians of Duma, and against Midyan, both in the far north of Arabia, distant many days journey. The authorities do not so much as trouble to mention the cause of offence. In fact there were none. In the case of the latter raid40, totally unprovoked as we have said, many women and children were captured and brought away to Makka, where they were all sold into slavery. (The Mohammedan saints were going to have sold the mothers and their children separately, but here the prophet intervened.) Now, we ask, in what single respect was this proceeding distinguishable from a vulgar slave-raid?” Are we to work it also into our “morals of war”? And where is now the man who “never drew a sword but as a last resort to defend human life and secure safety to it”? What would have been the comment of the husbands of these Midyanite women on this bland remark? We wish Woking could have heard it.

Government by AssassinationKipling somewhere wisely remarks, of a certain Ameer, that, like other heads of states, he governs not as he would, but as he can. By some such axiom the various atrocities connected with the government of Mohammed are usually justified. It is represented that there was no settled government in Arabia, no constitution, no international code, no legislature and no judicature. A man who became powerful enough in any given district was ruler de facto and therefore de jure, and it was henceforth the business of those about him to be subject, or take the consequences. Hostility, even on the part of those who had never desired his rule, was high-treason, and might be punished in any way whatsoever.

In other words, Mohammed was a son of his time and by his time must his actions be justified. Agreed. This fact, as we said at the very outset, might and would make us excuse and justify an ordinary man, the story of whose life is being told relatively to his times; and were Mohammedans consistent in taking this line, there would be the less to be said. But how would this be consistent with the position of the Birthday Number, that the Prophet’s life is all beautiful, not relatively but absolutely; that it is a human ideal for all time and times; and that from it we may construct our ethics, not only of war, but the true ethic itself?

It is, therefore, just when we are asked to invest this Makkan with a perfect human light, that his government by assassination appears hideous. His use of this method for governmental purposes41 is clear enough — indeed the fact is not denied. But … government by assassination!. When it comes to giving the method its name, one is permitted to regret that the human ideal for all time lived in Arabia.

We pass over the first of the series, — the assassination of the sleeping woman42 with a baby at her breast, and the Prophet’s brutally contemptuous remark about the matter when he enthusiastically commended the assassin. We pass over also the assassination of the bridegroom, called by treachery, unarmed, from the presence of his bride. And we pass by a largish number of other “executions”.

It is understood that legal procedure as conducted in Arabia was necessarily deficient, and that justice, disencumbered of bandage and scales, had to yield to one and the same man, the exceptional facilities of being assurer, crown-counsel, judge, and (through his followers) executioner, at one and the same time. The method certainly made for despatch. But is it permissible to whisper another word to the Woking enthusiasts, — Justice?

But even so, there are some things that make one catch one’s breath. What is to be thought, for example, of the “execution” of Usair (see above) with all his thirty men, all unarmed, riding to Madina under safe-conduct, each behind a Mohammedan ambassador? These ambassadors had come under the white flag and under the white flag they were riding away. Their leader, an approved assassin, had already “executed” the former chief of the tribe, Ibn Rafi’ yet he had the impudence to say that the slaughter of this whole unarmed band was committed because he felt Usair feeling stealthily for his (‘Abdallah’s) sword as he rode behind him through the night. Now this is really rather too thin; for (1) Waqidi and Ibn Sa’d43 state explicitly that Mohammed had just offered the man peace and the secure headship of the tribe, and that the man himself wanted peace; (2) supposing he had overmastered ‘Abdallah, how about the other thirty armed Moslems?! And (3) to crown all, Waqidi tells us that ‘Abdallah, himself said to his son, “I was mending my bow when I came and found that my comrades had been ordered out against Usair. The Prophet said ‘May I never see Usair.’ He meant that I should kill him!44

Waqidi merely makes explicit what is clearly writ between every two lines of this unhallowed story. And, in fact, the popular biography of Halabi (III pp 207, 208) makes it absolutely patent that Mohammed was designing Usair’s death from the start. Government by assassination! And it thirty others have to fall, as well as the assumed offender, and that under the white flag, what of it? As the prophet remarked, they were well rid — by Allah of course — “of an unrighteous people.”45

Well, it may have been good enough for Arabia in the Seventh Century. But we were talking, we thought, of humanity for all time?

And even the Arabian stomach occasionally turned quest when even its low records were further lowered by the innovators. Many years after the event, the death of Ka’b was being discussed in Madina, and a converted Nadirite Jew-Moslem, named Benjamin, roundly asserted that Ka’b had been treacherously assassinated. The assassin (Mohammed b. Muslima, then a very old man) was present and was furious, and shouted, “Dost thou ascribe to the Apostle of God a treachery?; for only at his direct order did we compass his death.” And he threatened the speaker so that he would assassinate him, and very nearly accomplished his threat too. This attitude of the original hero of the piece is what we should expect; it is the attitude of Benjamin that gives food for thought. Many must have had similar scruples which were never expressed, or which if expressed have not broken their way through into tradition. The saints were not slow to follow the leader’s lead. One of them, finding his sister by the sea shore, killed — we suppose we must say “executed” — her on the spot for satire against the prophet. Islam, at that time at any rate, completely obliterated natural ties. The was sometimes, in fact, a bloodthirsty competition to show sincerity by the assassination of father46, relative 47, or friend48.

But the word “executed” would have to be stretched to an impossible tenuity to cover the following instance. After the assassination of Ka’b (see above) — in fact the next day — Mohammed gave the astounding order to kill all Jews wherever found50! (It must be remembered that these were still early days. Badr had only just been fought and only the first of the Jewish tribes, al Quainuqa’, had offended and paid the penalty.) Accordingly one of the Mohammedans slew a Jewish trader, actually a man with whom he had most friendly commercial dealings, which had been highly profitable to him. The motive of the deed was purely mercenary — to get his benefactor’s goods. A blacker murder in short, (for God’s sake let us occasionally call a thing by its real name,) was never committed. It was too much for the brother of the murderer (not being yet a Moslem). He cried shame on his brother saying: “You enemy of God, have you murdered a man from whose goods most of the fat in your carcase came?51 It is needless to say the act was never disclaimed or even criticized, by Mohammed. It was in fact directly due to his own fatal proscription. Let Woking appeal to the universal conscience of humanity as to whose instinct was the sounder, the unconverted brother’s or the Moslem assassin’s. The heavens would fall — we say, the very heavens would fall — if the verdict were to be given to the latter.

Forgiveness of Enemies“‘Love your enemy’ did not pass beyond the domain of dream in Christianity, but Mohammed — peace be on him — has shown us how love for the enemy may be shown in practice.”The Birthday Number rings the changes upon this theme. It is one of the great discoveries of Neo-Islam that poor Sayyidna ‘Isa was all very well in his way (see the whole on p. 22), but never had the chance to show real forgiveness, i.e. in an hour of actual triumph. This Mohammed actually did. Such is the theme.

We are far from asserting that Mohammed was a radically inhumane or radically vindictive man, though he once punished some of his enemies by cutting off their hands and feet, blinding them, and then impaling the sightless trucks till life ebbed. But this was an isolated and exceptional incident, and the men were themselves murderers and mutilators, and were being punished in kind52.

So far from Mohammed’s being specially cruel or specially vindictive the contrary is the case, if we confine ourselves to Arabia. He was magnanimous, and also had with his magnanimity that coolness of head which showed him clearly where and when magnanimity paid; especially at the capture of Makka, when the tide had clearly turned, and where to have ruined his winning cause by acts of vindictiveness would have been the absurdist of blunders. And other conquerors have been as clear-sighted, and, let us gladly add, as magnanimous. But the challenge of the Birthday Number cannot be allowed to pass so tamely. We have seen Mohammed’s intense vindictiveness in regard to one special type of offence, satire; we have seen the assassinations that followed this with every circumstance of horror, over which, to do him justice, and to put it mildly, no crocodile’s tears were shed, for the deaths caused him the keenest pleasure, if in the shades Abu Lahab has access to the Birthday Number, these parts of it must amuse him considerably. The ferocious vindictiveness of the prophet in his case could not even be kept out of the Koran. Another uncle, Abu Jahl, with others of the slain at Badr, were pitched into a pit, to the accompaniment of opprobrious remarks from the prophet. One Nawfal was among the prisoners hacked down after Badr, and Mohammed’s keen relish there at is specially commented on53. The look which he fastened on al Nadr was so black that a bystander whispered that death was in it. The implacable and angry pitilessness shown, after the surrender of the Bani Quraiza (see the case of Thabit, and Mohammed’s comment on the judgment of Sa’d) we have already seen; also the soulless spirit of unmercifulness in which the sentence of mercy for Qainuqa’ was extorted from him. But

“Mohammed was the last of the race, and all those Divine moral attributes which were still undeveloped in men found their proper Epiphany in him. Forgiveness being one of them had its own occasion as well as its use. It found no occasion in the life-time of Jesus; and if others had it, they did not utilize it. But Mohammed had the rare occasion, and did not fail to use it. His enemies, when utterly fallen; entreated him to treat them as a noble-minded person would do. The appeal was most opportune, and made to the right man, and was readily accepted. (B.N. p. 23.)We have seen the very considerable qualification which such extravagant words need. And what shall we say to the following as a commentary upon them? When ‘Uqba was ordered out to be executed after Badr he asked why he should be treated with such special rigour? “Because of your enmity to Allah and his prophet,” answered Mohammed. And then a gleam of human pathos suddenly illuminates the gloomy record, as the condemned man cried out, “Who will look after the children, Mohammed?” To which the reply was, “Hell!” and he was cut down54. Another historian adds that the prophet went on: “Wretch that thou wast, and persecutor.. I give thanks to the Lord that he hath slain thee, and comforted mine eyes, thereby.” — The “Epiphany of the Divine moral attributes” had something to learn from the Sermon of the Mount, after all — nay, he had something to learn even from the despised heathen Quraish, who, according to the Birthday Number, “deserved every imaginable punishment to be devised of human ingenuity! (p. 22). For when al-Nadr (see above) was led out to execution — though his ransom would have been accepted by his captor — he said to Mus’ab, “Had the Quraish made thee a prisoner, they would never have put thee to death”; to which came a reply, somewhat unfortunate in this connection, “I am not as thou art: Islam has broken the pacts.” And at this precise moment the command to strike off his head was interposed by Mohammed, who had been watching what had passed. And it was instantly done by ‘Ali55.

The plain fact is that Mohammed though above the men of his time and place in many things, was, to put it mildly on their own level in others. It is not to later lavender-watering traditions produced by humaner Syrians and Persians, still less to milk-and-watery idealizations like this Birthday Number, that one must look, but to records which are evidently contemporary. What the real attitude of this Arabian was in this matter of vengeance and forgiveness is admirably shown up — with naive unconsciousness moreover — by the contemporary poet Ka’b b. Zuhair, an Arab of the Arabs. That attitude thoroughly appealed to Ka’b, but we do not see why it should arouse the enthusiasm of the mild gentlemen responsible for the Birthday Number. It was expressed by the said poet in his famous poem, the Banat Su’ad. We should premise that he also had been dabbling in the perilous game of satire, and that it was represented to him that the fate of the other Ka’b and sundry male and female members of the satirical profession would inevitably be his. He therefore made his submission in the following words:

Slanderers worked their way to Su’ad and repeated other “Thou are dead man, O K’ab!”
And every friend in whom I hoped said to me “I will not meddle with thee, I have no time for thee”56:
Until I pledged my troth to the Man of Vengeances whose word is law.
Verily when it was said to me ‘Thou are being charged and asked after’, he was more terrible to me than a lion of the forest.”There is a good deal of Araby, but precious little of Woking, in all this.

Slaughter of PrisonersThe Birthday Number writers do not specially say that the slaughter of prisoners is barbarous under any circumstances, but it is to be imagined that they would say so in no unmeasured terms, especially if they had come across any such incident in “Christian” wars. But such deeds occurred after some of Mohammed’s battles. After Badr, especially, the greatest vindictiveness and bloodthirstiness were manifested. Many prisoners were slaughtered in cold blood, at least two of them at the personal instance of Mohammed who had a special grudge against them. The most famous Companions (except Abu Bakr) were then the most truculent. One of them was for burning the prisoners alive en masse!57 The Prophet checked these excesses. But the very words in which he did so, the very limits set up, show clearly that defenseless prisoners might always be slaughtered in cold blood if they could not get anyone to redeem them58.

The Sura produced after the event (viii 68) explicitly commands the slaughter of prisoners on occasions when it is advisable to make an impression by “frightfulness”: on such occasions the sin would be to grow rich by accepting ransoms! And there is a whole series of traditions (quoted by Muir, Life p. 231) which make out that the “leniency” shown at Badr was a sin, that Mohammed had been against that sin, that humane Abu Bakr was the chief offender, and that had that sin been punished, only the whole-hoggers who had urged the slaughter of all the prisoners (‘Umar and Sa’d) would have escaped!

The same Sura however gives signs that Mohammed already saw that the Badr policy was not for universal application. And as Islam developed, the terrible Badrian alternative was modified. For one thing, as we have already seen, the practice of selling war-captives became common (Are we, by the way, to regulate our practice by this also when the Governments turn their attention to the prisoners after the present war?): and, as the Birthday Number says, the Koran itself recommended the ransoming of war-captives as a form of charity suitable for rich Moslems. But the Badr alternative is always there in the background, and on suitable occasions may always be brought into the foreground. The prisoner of war is mubah damuhu: his life is essentially forfeit. Are we to ask the coming Hague convention of the new world to adopt this into its code of ethics for international war?

Forced ConversionsThe subject of the “execution” of prisoners of war leads insensibly to forced conversions, about which some nonsense has been written by Christians, and a good deal more by Moslem apologist. It is quite true that some Christian writers have written as if the whole Moslem propaganda might be depicted exclusively by a Moslem standing over a non-Moslem with the sword in one hand and the Koran in the other. In regard to Christians and Jews this idea was in any case absurd and false, for the law from the beginning — or at any rate since Khaybar — has been that Christians and Jews (Peoples of the Book) have been free to reject Islam and hold to their own faith on condition of becoming tributary59 Zimmiyyun. And most of the best-known wars of Islam have been against peoples of a Book, for even the Persians were from the first included practically under the term. In consequence of which, the plea to regard Islam as an exceptionally tolerant religion has lately gained more and more recognition, and in some respects perfectly rightly so.

But not in all. It seems to be forgotten, and we may be sure that the Birthday Number does not remind us of it, that the Arabian heathen had by law no benefit whatever of protection without Islamising. For them and the “apostatates” the law from the beginning was Islam or death. And it was at the beginning that that law was most rigorously carried out. Moslems are very naive, and what has prevented them from seeing that this fact is constitutive of forced conversion is their idea that the deliberate presence of “conversion” to death is not a forced conversion! (It is notorious that neither Mohammed nor any who came after ever troubled about motives for profession; and so every conversion is a conversion wis salam.) They forget that the very real alternative was death. True, most preferred to escape death; but that proves, not disproves, our point. What of those who refused?

Sura IX is of course the locus classicus for the above facts. After the pilgrimage of A.H. 9 there was to be no quarter for heathen (in particular at least.) It was to be for them Islam of death. And the alternative was enforced. And note that the text makes the alternative most explicit: “When the sacred months are past (viz, the time of grace allowed at the Pilgrimage of A.H. 9), kill the polytheist wherever you find them … but if they repent and perform the prayer and bring alms, let them go their way.” None of these conformists, then, were instances of “forced conversion”! They all, of course, “repented”! No, it will not do. How about their almost unanimous apostasy (ridda) the moment the terrible Quraishite passed from the scene?

We shall not go into the question whether these proscriptions referred only to contemporary Arabs or to pagans all down the centuries60, for our theme is Mohammed. And it would seem to be a sufficient answer to the following challenge to have shown that by the command of the Prophet many thousands were as a plain matter of fact converted by force. The challenge is this:

If the sword was drawn to force these to conversion, why were the prisoners released at the end of each war and allowed to go to their home without being converted to Islam? Can any person refer to a single conversion which was secured through compulsion? (B.N. 24).Most assuredly any person can. We should have thought that a Ka’b preferring Islam to the continual menace of the assassin’s sword would have been a sufficient instance for most people. But here the apologists are to some extent helped by the incurable naivete of the Arab mind, which saw in such arguments real signs that so lusty a religion was from Allah — or at any rate was to be subscribed to: in practice the two things came to the same thing: only Allah knoweth the hearts.

But the matter cannot be so lightly dismissed.

Does Woking know, or merely conceal the fact, that any one of those “executed” hundreds of the Bani Quraiza Jews could have bought life be “conversion”? One, Jabal did so61. Was his case, or was it not, a conversion which was secured through compulsion? And the remaining hundreds? Is it not a fact that they only escaped “conversion” by resisting the “compulsion,” and paying for their constancy with their lives?

Similarly the picket captured in the Marasi’ expedition. He was first questioned, but refused to make any reply. Mohammed then offered him Islam. He refused. The Prophet then ordered ‘Umar to cut off his head, which that cheerful headsman most readily did62. If that man had preferred to Islamise and save his neck, it would not have been, it seems, a forced conversion!

It may be objected that in this instance the man was a spy, and a spy’s life was forfeit, and that the offering Islam to him was a gratuitous mercy. And somewhat similarly the Bani Quraiza. But this is beside the mark. Our subject is enforced conversion; and if the “conversion” of a man at the sword’s point, whatever be the circumstances, is not to be called a forced conversion, then words have lost their meaning.

But all doubts are dispelled by the following incident63. Another spy was captured at Khaybar, but on this occasion the man was induced to talk, and his life was secured to him on Mohammed’s express word. In consideration of this promise, Mohammed (remarks the historian) refrained from ordering ‘Umar to cut his head off64. Latter on however “He had him brought before him in Khaybar and offered him Islam, with the remark that if on the third time of asking he did not accept it the rope should only depart from his neck after swinging65 (i.e. he should hang). That worked.” No doubt it did. We waive enquiry into the honorableness or the morality of the threat66 after what had occurred at the outset. The point is that here we have the clearest possible example of a forced conversion, — Islam or the halter.

Then we have Mohammed’s words to ‘Ali before Khaybar67 “Fight them till they witness that there is no God except Allah and that Mohammed is the apostle of Allah: for if they do this, the they will have kept their blood and goods from you, — but only at the price of the same, and their reckoning is on God.” We are asked to believe that a “witness” under these conditions was not a forced witness!

And “Apostles”? Whether their apostasy was from honest conviction, or motivated, or whether it was due to the fact that their original Islamising was a hypocritical farce as it obviously often was, matters not. The alternative for them was to be, Islam or death. If they chose Islam, would this or would it not, be a forced conversion?

And what comment is needed by the following candid narrative from Ibn Hisham? After the acts of frightfulness against the Jews which we have already mentioned, numbers of Jews “pretended to have embraced Islam. They adopted it in order to escape being killed”68.

Let the facts speak for themselves.

ConclusionWe must now bring this investigation to a close. And in closing it we would emphatically repeat what was said at the outset, namely that when and if admirers of Mohammed are content to regard him historically as a great Arabian, who had a real and strange sense of propherical call, and through this and his immense natural genius, singular gifts, and many virtues, accomplished a stupendous life-work, then we join with the admirers. Who with a grain of historic sense and appreciation would not? The worst enemies of Mohammed are not his opponents, but his friends, who will have it that the character of this Arabian giant is the very type of perfected humanity; that all his actions apart from trifles were perfect; that no great wrong can be attributed to him; that his moral splendor throws that of Jesus completely in shade; and that his example and precept make the best foundation not only for codes of conduct but for national and international law! Worst offenders of all are the Neo-Moslems who have assumed the task of dishing up the Biography to suit the taste of the Christian West; omitting here, explaining away there; challenging this (against the sources) and glozing that. It is not our business to estimate the sincerity of these men, nor of their Christian supporters. Some of these latter have been inspired to their self-appointed task through the indignation of an honest reaction against former exaggerations, or misrepresentation, or under-estimations; and some are merely officious and mealy mouthed. We have nothing to do with that. All we know is that these men one and all, are doing a disservice both to truth and to their idol. For they as little give the world the whole truth as did the old-time wholesale obloquist; and they simply force those who see in these assertions a gross offence against the fact, and a definite attack on the perfection and universality of the Man Christ Jesus, to rise up and show from the sources that the real Mohammed, the Mohammed of the sources and of the Agreement of Islam, the only Mohammed who counts, because the Mohammed of thirteen dead centuries and three hundred million living Moslems, will not fit the role in virtue of which the human race in invited to travel from Bethlehem to Mekka, from the Mount of the Beatitudes to the Mount of ‘Arafat.

Editions Quoted

The following are the editions quoted in the article:—

Tabari, the Leyden (1st edition.)
Ibn Hisham, Wüstenfeld’s edition (Leipzig.)
Halabi, Cairo, 1320.
Sira Nabawiyya, on the margin of Halabi.
Waqidi, Wellhausen’s translation.
Ibn Sa’d ed. Sachan (Leyden.)

AppendixNote on page 15.

That it was Mohammed who took the offensive from Medina is quite frankly stated by the author of the Sira Nabawiyya. The mealy-mouthedness of these moderns would have seemed unintelligible, or perhaps somewhat contemptible, to him. He says: “The first thing which the Prophet set about was to intercept the caravans of the Quraish so as to capture their goods, in order that that might be an occasion for the opening of hostilities, and in order that the hearts of his companions might be inured to hostilities little by little; and in order that they might profit from what should accrue to them from the spoils which they carried off from those caravans, and thus get relief.”69 Quid plura? the author of this sira merely brings out clearly what is written is not very invisible ink over all these early proceedings.

W.H.T. Gairdner


1 Vol. V, No. 1.

2 See B.N. (i.e. “Birthday Number”) pp. 9, 14-16, etc.

3 Some of the writers in this number are a little unfortunate when they begin to handle modern critical apparatus. Thus Mr. S. Khuda Bukhsh quotes “Bosworth, Smith,” and others. Does he give us the whole considered verdict of these (two!) gentlemen? He also refers prejudiced Christians to “the monumental work of Caetini (sic) in Italian.” It is obvious he has never read a line of “Caetini”. No more weighty and severe judgements could be imagined than some which Caetani has passed on several scenes in the life of Mohammed, although his standpoint is purely historic and objective.

4 Italics ours.

5 Ibn Hisham, sub loco; see Wüstenfeld’s edition, p. 653.

6 A writer in the Birthday Number (on page 25) makes his boast of Abu Bakr’s humanity as a warrior in explicitly commanding his men “to cut down no palms”! Sometimes a disciple is greater than his master, then.

7 The subsequent indemnification for the act in a Koran utterance is the reverse of impressive.

8 Translated from the Musnad of Ahmed ibn Hanbal i 178.

9 Arnold (Preaching of Islam p. 30) asserts Mohammed “disapproved of the act,” on the return of the triumphing ‘Abdallah. If so, on the face of the above, the disapproval was manifest hypocrisy. And the point remains, Mohammed did sanction the violation of the Sacred Truce. Arnold suppresses entirely this cardinal fact that Mohammed finally condoned the act and sanctioned the practice. He also suppresses most of the facts of the case mentioned above.

10 The fact that means were recommended by the Prophet (in at least one case not successfully) to prevent conception only increases one’s sense of disgust.

11 Halabi ii 296,7; Waqidi (Kitab el Maghazi, translated by Wellhausen page 179). In the hadith anthology, Mishkat al Masabih, the tradition is marked as muttafaq ‘alaih, i.e. found in all the great collections.

12 Halabi loc. cit..

13 Hisham p. 759, Waqidi (ed. Wellhausen) p. 282.

14 Muslim in Mishkat al Masabih, Kitab an nikah, v. i. 9; Waqidi p. 366.

15 This is perfectly clear both from the wording of the tradition from Muslim and from the analogy of the Bani Mustaliq affair. The three-months limit (‘idda) was only in case of conception were not artificially prevented, and did not hinder immediate violation. Indeed Waqidi makes this point explicit (op. cit. p. 366); but it is unmistakable even without this.

16 Whether the account of al-Bukhari or of Ibn Hisham is considered, it is utterly impossible to say that anything in them justifies the sequel. Moreover it is to be remembered that in no single one of these cases of alleged offence is it possible audire alteram partem.

17 Vol. i, 1360 “wahuwa yuridu qatlahum”

18 Ibn Hisham p. 546 makes this perfectly clear.

19 Nevertheless, the Caliph Omar later hustled away the remnant of these poor people out of the peninsula.

20 The warning of Abu Lubaba (Hisham p. 686) makes this perfectly clear. It is to be feared that this story also proves that Abu Lubaba had been sent to mislead the garrison into surrendering in order to save their lives, the destruction of which had nevertheless been settled on. They asked him if they should surrender, and he answered ‘yes’: but with a significant gesture of hand to the throat signifying that their fate would certainly be butchery (Ibn Hisham p. 688). The narrative goes on to say that an instant after Abu Lubaba “felt he had betrayed God and the Apostle.” It is obvious he had been instructed to encourage them to surrender, and equally obvious that their tragic fate had nevertheless been decided on. It is another proof that the arbitration of Sa’d was a mere subterfuge.

21 Musnad of ibn Hanbal vi 55, iii 207.

22 ib. iii 350.

23 Sira Nabawiyya on a margin of al-Halabi ii p. 150.

24 ib. ii p. 154.

25 Hisham p. 763, 4.

26 The historians represent that her husband had ill-used her. She is certainly made out as having showed no love for him alive or dead. See Hisham p. 763.

27 In the case of Juwairiyya, the old historians state with the utmost freedom that the prophet was smitten with her beauty the moment he set eyes on her. See Halabi ii p. 291, 292, where the jealous ‘A’isha tells the story: “Juwairiyya was a lovely woman (hilwa) whom men no sooner saw than they became smitten with her…. She came in, and by Allah I no sooner set eyes on her than I was vexed at her coming in, and knew that the Apostle of God would see her in her just what I saw.” The meaning is obvious, and is made explicit by the following: “I felt certain that if once the Apostle of God saw her he would admire her” (‘for she knew’, adds the historian, ‘the influence of beauty on him’). “Well, then, she spoke to him, and he said to her, ‘Better still, I will pay the ransom and marry thee myself’.” See also Hisham p. 729. The marriage was consummated that very day, — the day, by the way, when Juwairiyya’s fellow tribes-women were being raped by the bridegroom’s comrades at the wells of Marasi’ (see above). We hope we shall now hear no more of the neo-Moslem pretence mentioned above.

28 Musnad of Ibn Hanbal, iii p. 123.

29 That is, that before marrying a widow a man must wait at least three months to make sure she is not with child by her first husband. When, in the “Reproach of Islam”, I erroneously stated that Raihana — again a celebrated beauty who also had just lost her husband at Mohammed’s hands — was taken to his embraces immediately after his execution, I was severely taken to task by a well-known neo-Moslem apologist of Cairo for gross ignorance. Did I not know that the law of ‘idda would itself have made such a thing impossible? I keenly regretted the slip. But this gentleman did not see fit to mention this case of Safiyya! Was this disingenuousness? Or was my gross ignorance balanced by his? — See also above, where it shows that, given certain circumstances, the law of the ‘idda was irrelevant.

30 e.g. Hisham pp 415-6, Waqidi p. 33; Tab. i. p. 1265.

31 op. cit. i. p. 2 and twice on p. 3.

32 Hisham p. 415.

33 Caetani vol i, pp. 358-9 and reff.

34 For some of them see previous note.

35 Arnold (Preaching of Islam, p. 30) is equally untrustworthy. To facts he opposes theories. It is extraordinary, and a real pity, how this useful book is spoiled by its being a brief. We have had an example of this already in his treatment of the fight in the sacred month. Here is another example. Take the crucial point of the object of the first expedition against the Quraish. Arnold:— “We find mention of several reconnoitering parties that went out in small numbers to watch the movements of the Quraish” (p. 30). Now the historians:— (on the first raid, not accompanied by Mohammed) “to intercept the camels of the Quraish”, Ibn Sa’d i. p. 3, Hal. ii, p. 134:— (on the first expedition accompanied by Mohammed himself, “to intercept the camels of the Quraish”, Ibn Sa’d i. p. 4! Another grossly misleading remark is found in a footnote to p. 30, where the raid of the Quraishite Kurz (see Muir p. 207) is brought in with the sole point of showing that the Quraish practiced the first hostilities. Now in the first place there is not the smallest proof that this marauder had been sent by the Quraish: and what shall we say, further, when we learn that his raid, such as it was, took place after Mohammed or his officers had already some four times taken the field! (Hisham p. 423, Tabari I, pp 1269).

36 Annali II pp 9, 10; We commend this passage to the notice of Mr. Bukhsh and his friends, but to spare their feelings refrain from translating it.

37 Ed. Wellhausen, p. 190.

38 Ed. Wellhausen p. 224. Considering that Waqidi mentions that a few months later the head of the tribe wanted peace with Mohammed, nothing important having happened in the meantime, one need not take these unsupported assertations of Khaybarite plotting very seriously.

39 A remarkable tradition is recorded by Muslim. (ii p. 237) “The Prophet gave the standard to ‘Ali and said ‘Forward! And do not look back until Allah gives you the victory.’ ‘Ali went forward a few steps and halted, and without looking back shouted out ‘O Apostle of Allah, to what end am I to fight the folk?’ He replied, ‘Fight them so that they may witness that there is no god save Allah and that Mohammed is Allah’s Apostle. If they do this they have redeemed their lives from you: or else they must buy their lives with the price of them.”

40 Hal. III, 206.

41 It will be noticed that in deference to Moslems we drop the notion of personal animosity. Let these assassinations be “executions” conceived and executed with passionless, judicial sternness.

42 She was a poetess and a satirist, and she had satirized Mohammed. We do not forget that modern researches (see Goldziher’s Abhandlungen) have made it clearer that these hija poets had uncanny power in those days, and that their satires were much more to be dreaded by governments than those of Mr. Punch. So, let her satire be high-treason. Still…! This by the way was the man who “made the woman sex almost sacred” (B.N. p. 32). Mohammed’s contempt for the “female sex” is notoriously proved from the traditions.

43 Halabi I 67.

44 op. cit. pp. 239, 240.

45 Close of Ibn Hisham’s narrative p. 980 f.

46 As in the case of the son of ‘Abdallah ibn Ubayy, Hisham p. 727.

47 As here.

48 See the following incident.

49 Hisham p. 553.

50 loc. cit. When he heard that his brother would have had as little hesitation in killing him, he is said to have exclaimed, “By Allah, such a religion is a wonderful religion,” and incontinently embraced Islam. We wonder what is thought of this argument for Islamizing.

51 Still the very Sura which, after this horrible incident, humanely forbade punishment by torture or crucifixion, commanded that robbers, both male and female, should have their hands cut off, and their feet to follow, one after the other, if the crime were repeated. Are we, by the way, to work this also into our ideal penal code?

53 Muir p. 227 note.

54 Hisham p. 458.

55 Waqidi p. 68.

56 To which the commentator: “They washed their hands of him in their despair for his life and their fear of the Prophet’s anger.

57 Musnad I 383.

58 Loc. cit. la yanfalitanna ahadun minkum illa bifida’in aw dar-bati ‘unq: “Let not one escape you except he pay a ransom, or else have his head struck off.”

59 The Armenian horrors, in which the alternative of Islam or death was many a time horribly presented, were justly represented by Moslems as contrary to the law of Islam. We suspect however that very many Moslems justified these in their hearts on the score of the sezmimmis’ loss of rights through rebellion — an excuse which can be stretched to fit almost any case. [sezmimmis = dhimmis; the web editor]

60 We suspect that the fact that the first great campaigns were against People of a Book — for the expression was stretched to embrace even the Persians — mitigated the rigour of Sura ix. The Arabs were from the first sensitive to humanizing and civilizing influences. It was noted as noteworthy that when India was reached the polytheists got the benefit of the tribute privilege, whereby they kept their heads and their polytheism. Still, when Timur “turned Northern India into a shambles,” we imagine he was able to make out a fairly good case for himself.

61 Isaba I 453.

62 Halabi II p. 294.

63 Waqidi pp. 266, 7.

64 ‘Umar seems to have been a sort of voluntary headsman to the court, being devoted to the argument of the sword at all times (see his conduct after Badr). Later responsibility seems greatly to have elevated and enlarged his character.

65 Lam yakhrug il hablu min ‘unqika illa su’udan, Waqidi, p. 267.

66 The incident of Abu Lubaba sent by Mohammed to parley with the Bani Quraiza, offers a similar instance of doubtful good-faith.

67 Muslim II 237.

68 Zaharu bil ‘islam wa ttakhadhuhu hannatan min al qatl.

69 Li yakun dhalik sababan l iftitah il qital wa li taqwa gulubu ashabihi ‘ala l qitali shai’an fa shai’an, etc. vol. I. p. 417.

This article was taken from a pamphlet, published privately in 1918. Later it appeared also in The Moslem World, vol. ix, 1919, pp 25-57.

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Muhammad’s Dead Poets Society, a post from Answering-Islam.org

The assassinations of satirical poets in early Islam

James M. Arlandson

From the mainstream press, scholars, and Muslim spokespersons who have access to the media, we have heard that Islam is the religion of peace. They point out that the three-letter root s-l-m is found both in Islam, which means surrender or submission (to Allah), and salam, which means peace, soundness, and safety. This etymology may be accurate, but it also serves merely as a positive advanced press release that covers up some problems. For more information on the incongruity of the Arabic root s-l-m and Islam being the religion of peace, see this short article.

Upon reading the original source documents of Islam—the Quran, hadith, biographies, and histories—one is struck by the casual and matter-of-fact way that Muhammad and his Muslims traffic in violence and bloodshed.

Today, radical Muslims, reading these source documents, take up the call to violence that is found in the life and times of their prophet. For example, in 1989 they issued a fatwa (legal decree) to assassinate Salman Rushdie, a novelist, who wrote Satanic Verses, which includes questions about the angel Gabriel’s role in inspiring the Quran. Now the extremists in the highest levels in Iran have renewed the fatwa.

An article by David Harsanyi in Frontpagemag.com reports on deadly fatwas against Salman Rushdie, other authors, and even against Muslim clerics. For example, Taslima Nasrin, a poet and novelist, whose works confront sharia and the role of women in society, particularly in Bangladesh, has had a fatwa on her head since 1993. She was met with violent protests for a scheduled speech in November 2002 at Concordia University in Canada, where Benjamin Netanyahu, former Prime Minister of Israel, also encountered violent protests.

Harsanyi cites another case. “A Dutch Muslim woman, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, had to flee the Netherlands because she said that Muslim men traditionally oppressed Muslim women. A death fatwa quickly followed.”

In November 2004, Theo Van Gogh was assassinated by a Muslim because the descendant of the brother of the famous artist had made a film that depicted a Muslim woman who was forced into an arranged marriage, abused by her husband, and raped by her uncle.

Where do the violent radicals get the idea to put bounties on the heads of poets and authors? Out of thin air? One direction that the violence in earliest Islam took is the assassination of pagan men and women, many of whom were poets and storytellers, and at least one innocent bystander whose crime was being Jewish. The poets wrote satirical poems about Muhammad and his claim to prophethood and about his followers, so the prophet ordered their death. To borrow the title of a popular movie, Muhammad violently created a dead poets society of his own.

To explain how this kind of violence sits at the core of Islam at its founding, this article is divided into four parts. First, the evidence for these assassinations is presented from Islamic early sources. Second, after these facts are sketched out, we critique point by point the explanations and defense from Muslims for this violence. Third, we examine five passages in the Quran that portend death in this life and damnation in the next for mockers. Both the early Muslim sources and the Quran are used by violent fanatics to justify their assassinations. Finally, we reach some conclusions about how violent early Islam is.

Islam is not the religion of peace.

Before laying out the evidence, the larger historical context of these assassinations must be taken into account. First, in seventh-century Arabia, poetry was taken seriously; even poetry contests were held, with declared winners. It was a powerful way to communicate a message. Second, in March 624, in the Battle of Badr, Muhammad, living in Medina, won a surprising victory against a much-larger Meccan army of polytheists (c. 320 Muslims v. 1000 Meccans). Muhammad’s standing in Medina was insecure before the battle, but afterwards his position became strong, and he used his new strength to eliminate some enemies.

The Evidence

Though more assassinations are carried out than the ten analyzed in this article (omitted because they involve leaders raising armies against or attempting assassinations of Muhammad), here follow the stories of assassinations or near-assassinations of lesser victims.

1. March 624: Al-Nadr bin al-Harith

Before Muhammad’s Hijrah (Emigration from Mecca to Medina in 622), he used to sit in the assembly and invite the Meccans to Allah, citing the Quran and warning them of God’s punishment for mocking his prophets. Al-Nadr would then follow him and speak about heroes and kings of Persia, saying, “By God, Muhammad cannot tell a better story than I, and his talk is only of old fables which he has copied as I have.” Al-Nadr is referring to legends and opaque histories about Arabs of long ago and possibly to Bible stories about such figures as Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, which Muhammad told, but according to his own inaccurate versions. On other days al-Nadr would interrupt Muhammad until the prophet silenced him. In reply to al-Nadir’s harassment, it is possible (scholars sometimes have difficulties matching up Quranic verses with historical events) that Allah sent down these verses to Muhammad concerning him or certainly other mockers in Mecca, according to the account of Ibn Abbas, Muhammad’s cousin, who is considered a reliable transmitter of traditions:

25:6 Say [Prophet], “It was sent down by Him who knows the secrets of the heavens and earth. He is all forgiving and merciful.” (MAS Abdel Haleem, The Qur’an, Oxford UP, 2004)

83:13 … [W]hen Our revelations are recited to him, he says, “Ancient fables!” 14 No indeed! Their hearts are encrusted with what they have done. 15 No indeed! On that day they will be screened off from their Lord, 16 they will burn in Hell, 17 and they will be told, “This is what you call a lie.” (Haleem)

Muhammad did not take revenge on him—not yet—even though the verses in Sura 83 promise a dismal eternal future for mockers. Muhammad’s revenge was not long coming. It was al-Nadir’s bad fortune to join Mecca’s army, riding north to protect their caravan, which Muhammad attacked at the Battle of Badr in AD 624. The story-telling polytheist was captured, and on Muhammad’s return journey back to Medina, Ali, Muhammad’s son-in-law, at Muhammad’s order, beheaded him, instead of getting some possible ransom money. He was one of two prisoners who were executed and not allowed to be ransomed by their clans—all because they wrote poems and told stories critiquing Muhammad.

Source: Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, trans. A. Guillaume, (Oxford UP, 1955, 2004), pp. 136 (Arabic pages 191-92); 163 / 236; 181 / 262; 308 / 458. Reputable historians today consider Ibn Ishaq to be a good source of early Islam, though they may disagree on his chronology and miraculous elements.

2. March 624: Uqba bin Abu Muayt

A similar story as that of al-Nadir can be told about Uqba. He too harassed and mocked Muhammad in Mecca and wrote derogatory verses about him. He too was captured during the Battle of Badr, and Muhammad ordered him to be executed. “But who will look after my children, O Muhammad?” Uqba cried with anguish. “Hell,” retorted the prophet coldly. Then the sword of one of his followers cut through Uqba’s neck.

Source: Bukhari, vol. 4, no. 2934; Muslim, vol. 3, nos. 4422, 4424; Ibn Ishaq, p. 308 / 458. Bukhari and Muslim are reliable collectors and editors of the hadith (words and deeds of Muhammad outside of the Quran). These three passages from the hadith depict Muhammad calling on Allah for revenge on this poet.

3. March 624: Asma bint Marwan

Asma was a poetess who belonged to a tribe of Medinan pagans, and whose husband was named Yazid b. Zayd. She composed a poem blaming the Medinan pagans for obeying a stranger (Muhammad) and for not taking the initiative to attack him by surprise. When the Allah-inspired prophet heard what she had said, he asked, “Who will rid me of Marwan’s daughter?” A member of her husband’s tribe volunteered and crept into her house that night. She had five children, and the youngest was sleeping at her breast. The assassin gently removed the child, drew his sword, and plunged it into her, killing her in her sleep.

The following morning, the assassin defied anyone to take revenge. No one took him up on his challenge, not even her husband. In fact, Islam became powerful among his tribe. Previously, some members who had kept their conversion secret now became Muslims openly, “because they saw the power of Islam,” conjectures Ibn Ishaq.

Source: Ibn Ishaq, pp. 675-76 / 995-96.

4. April 624: Abu Afak

Abu Afak, an centenarian elder of Medina, belonging to a group of clans who were associated with the god Manat (though another account has him as a Jew), wrote a derogatory poem about Muhammad, extolling the ancestors of his tribe who were strong enough to overthrow mountains and to resist submitting to an outsider (Muhammad) who divides two large Medinan tribes with religious commands like “permitted” and “forbidden.” That is, the poet is referring to Muhammad’s legal decrees about things that are forbidden (e.g. pork and alcohol) and permitted (e.g. other meats like beef and camel). Before the Battle of Badr, Muhammad let him live.

After the battle, the prophet queried, “Who will deal with this rascal for me?” That night, Salim b. Umayr “went forth and killed him.” One of the Muslims wrote a poem in reply: “A hanif [monotheist or Muslim] gave you a thrust in the night saying / ‘Take that Abu Afak in spite of your age!’” Muhammad eliminated him, which shows religious violence. Islam is not the religion of peace.

Source: Ibn Ishaq p. 675 / 995.

5. September 624: Kab bin al-Ashraf

Kab b. al-Ashraf had a mixed ancestry. His father came from a nomadic Arab, but his mother was a Jewess from the powerful al-Nadr tribe in Medina. He lived as a member of his mother’s tribe. He heard about the Muslim victory at the battle of Badr, and he was disgusted, for he thought Muhammad the newcomer to Medina was a trouble-maker and divisive. Kab had the gift of poetry, and after the Battle of Badr he traveled down to Mecca, apparently stopping by Badr, since it was near a major trade route to Mecca, witnessing the aftermath. Arriving in Mecca, he wrote a widely circulated poem, a hostile lament, over the dead of Mecca. It is important to include most of the political lament to show whether the poem is a serious offence, meriting assassination, as Muslim apologists (defenders of Islam) argue.

… At events like Badr you should weep and cry.
The best of its people were slain round cisterns,
Don’t think it strange that the princes were left lying.
How many noble handsome men,
The refuge of the homeless were slain.


Some people whose anger pleases me say,
“Kab b. al-Ashraf is utterly dejected.”
They are right. O that the earth when they were killed
Had split asunder and engulfed its people,
That he who spread the report had been thrust through
Or lived cowering blind and deaf.


I was told that al-Harith ibn Hisham [a Meccan]
Is doing well and gathering troops
To visit Yathrib [pre-Islamic name of Medina] with armies,
For only the noble, handsome man protects the loftiest reputation.
(Translated by Guillaume, p. 365)

To us today this poem does not seem excessive, and other Arab poetry was worse, such as the poem celebrating the assassination of Abu Afak, cited above (no. 4). It seems to be a genuine lament that invokes the Arab concept of revenge. Also, the last four lines is not an explicit plea for the Meccans to exact vengeance because that was a foregone conclusion. Arab custom demanded a riposte against the humiliation of defeat. Rather, the lines seem to reflect reality. A Meccan leader is said to be gathering an army; Kab is not ordering him to do so.

Pro-Muslim poets answered Kab’s poem with ones of their own, and that was enough for his hosts in Mecca to turn him out. He returned to Medina, writing some amatory verses about Muslim women, a mistake compounded on a mistake, given the tense climate in Medina and Muhammad’s victory at Badr. For example, right after the battle Muhammad assembled a Jewish tribe, the Qaynuqa, and warned them as follows: “O Jews, beware lest God bring upon you the vengeance that He brought upon Quraysh [large Meccan tribe at Badr], and become Muslims.” … In late spring (April-June) Muhammad then expelled the Jewish tribe.

Angered by the poems and now able to strike back after Badr and the exile, Muhammad had had enough. He asked, “Who would rid me of [Kab]?” Five Muslims volunteered, one of whom was Kab’s foster-brother named Abu Naila. They informed him, “O apostle of God [Muhammad], we shall have to tell lies.” He answered, “Say what you like, for you are free in the matter.” They set upon a clever plan.

Abu Naila and another conspirator visited Kab, and they cited poetry together, the three appreciating the art, and chatted leisurely, so the two would not raise suspicions of their conspiracy. Then, after a long time, Abu-Naila lied just as he said he would. He said he was tired of Muhammad because “he was a very great trial for us.” Muhammad provoked the hostility of the Arabs, and they were all in league against the Medinans. Abu Naila complained that the roads had become impassable and trade was hampered, so that their families were in want, privation, and great distress. Kab, in effect, said to his foster brother, “I told you so.”

Then the foster-brother asked him for a loan of a camel load or two of food. Kab agreed, but only on the collateral of Abu-Naila’s sons. The foster-brother refused, and Kab asked for his women, but he again refused. Finally, Abu Naila offered his and his conspirators’ weapons. That arrangement provided the cover they needed to carry weapons right into Kab’s presence without alarm. Kab agreed, “Weapons are a good pledge.”

The two visitors departed, stopped by the other three, and told them of the plan. Not long afterwards, gathering their weapons, they went to Muhammad, who sent them off with this wish: “Go in God’s name; O God, help them.” They set out under a moonlit night until they made it to a fortress, one of several that the Jewish tribe had built in the rough environment of Arabia. In fact, the ruin of the fortress where Kab resided can be seen even today near Medina. They called out to him.

Kab had recently married, and his wife, hearing their yells, said, “You are at war, and those who are at war do not go out at this hour … I hear evil [or blood] in his voice.” But the custom of hospitality in the Arab world was strong. Her husband told her that they were only his foster-brother and his foster-brother’s partners, adding that “a generous man should respond to a call at night, even if invited to be killed.” Kab came down and greeted them. Abu Naila suggested they go for a walk. The signal to kill was as follows: Abu Naila would run his hand through Kab’s hair, complimenting him on his perfume, three times. This he did, yelling, “Smite the enemy of God!” Kab mounted a strong defense, so their swords were ineffective. Finally, one of the conspirators remembered his dagger, stabbed Kab in the belly, and then bore it down until it reached Kab’s genitals, killing him.

They made it back to Muhammad, but only after difficulty, since in the dark they had wounded one of their own. They saluted the prophet as he stood praying, and he came out to them. They told him that the mission was accomplished. He spat on their comrade’s wound, and they returned to their families. Their attack on Kab sent shock waves into the Jewish community, so that “there was no Jew in Medina who did not fear for his life,” reports Ibn Ishaq.

Muslim historian Tabari reports that the five Muslim thugs severed Kab’s head and brought it to Muhammad. How can the terrorists who are also thrilled to sever heads not be inspired by early Islam?

Sources: Bukhari vol. 5, no. 4037; Muslim vol. 3, no. 4436; Ibn Ishaq 364-69 / 548-53; Tabari, The History of al-Tabari, Vol. VII, trans. W. Montgomery Watt (SUNYP, 1987), pp. 94-98 / 1368-73. Reputable historians today consider Tabari to be a good source of data on early Islam, though they may not agree on his chronology or miraculous elements.

6. September (?) 624: Ibn Sunayna

It is on the heels of this assassination that Ibn Sunayna, a Jewish merchant, was assassinated. With the success of the five conspirators, Muhammad said, “Kill any Jew that falls into your power.” Shortly afterwards, Muhayyisa b. Masud leapt upon and killed Ibn Sunayna, with whom Muhayyisa had some social and business relations. However, Muhayyisa’s elder brother, not a Muslim at the time, beat the assassin, the younger brother, saying, “You enemy of God, did you kill him when much of the fat on your belly comes from his wealth?” Muhayyisa retorted that if Muhammad had ordered even the elder brother’s assassination, he would have carried it out. The elder was impressed: “By God, a religion which can bring you to this is marvelous!” And he became a Muslim. That is, the elder brother implies that Muhammad must be a great leader and worthy of devotion if he commands such lethal reverence and deadly obedience from his followers.

Then Muhayyisa wrote a poem that celebrates such obedience. “I would smite his [the elder brother’s] neck with a sharp sword, / A blade as white as salt from polishing. / My downward stroke never misses its mark.” Advancing religious violence, these lines in the poem show how deadly poetry could be, and they match the Muslim’s poem against Abu Afak (no. 4, above): “a hanif gave you a thrust in the night.” Kab’s poem, it should be recalled, was far milder. These poems that a Westerner reads in the early Islamic source are jarring. It seems the early Muslim authors of the documents relish inserting them into their books.

Source: Ibn Ishaq p. 369 / 534.

7. July-August 625: A One-eyed Bedouin

In revenge for an ambush on some Muslim missionaries, Muhammad sent Amr bin Umayya and a companion to assassinate Abu Sufyan, a leader of the Meccans. This shows that the prophet could get caught up in the cycle of violence that went on endlessly in seventh-century Arab culture. Umayyah failed in his attempt, and he had to flee under pursuit, hiding in a cave, murdering a man named Ibn Malik along the way. As the pursuit was dying down, a tall, one-eyed, unnamed Bedouin entered the cave, driving some sheep. Umayyah and the Bedouin introduced each other. After they settled down, the shepherd sang a simple two-line song in defiance of Muslims and Islam:

I will not be a Muslim as long as I live,
And will not believe in the faith of the Muslims. (Watt)

Another translation reads:

I won’t be a Muslim as long as I live,
Nor heed to their religion give. (Guillaume)

Unfortunately for this Bedouin, he was in the cave with a radical Muslim, who said: “You will soon see!” The Bedouin fell asleep, snoring. Umayyah recounts what he did: … “I went to him and killed him in the most dreadful way that anybody has ever been killed. I leaned over him, stuck the end of my bow into his good eye, and thrust it down until it came out of the back of his neck.” He fled back to Muhammad, who said, “Well done!” The account ends: The prophet “prayed for me [Umayyah] to be blessed.”

This poor shepherd’s only sin was to compose a little two-line ditty against Islam. Therefore, he was assassinated, with the blessing of Muhammad—the prophet did not arrest the assassin or even scold him for killing a man who had nothing to do with the ambush.

Source: Tabari, vol. 7, pp. 149-50 / 1440-41; A later editor incorporated some of Tabari’s account into Ibn Ishaq’s biography, pp. 674-75.

8. After January 630: close call for Abdullah bin Sad

Before 10,000 Muslim warriors entered Mecca in January 630, Muhammad ordered that they should kill only those who resisted, except a small number who should be hunted down even if they hid under the curtain of the Kabah stone. One of them was Abdullah, an original Emigrant with the prophet in 622. He had the high privilege of writing down some verses of the Quran, after Muhammad received them by revelation. Doubting, Abdullah on occasion would change the words around to see if Muhammad had noticed the changes, but he did not. W. Montgomery Watt provides an example: “When Muhammad dictated a phrase of the Quran such as sami‘ ‘alim, ‘Hearing, Knowing’ (with reference to God), he had written, for example, ‘alim hakim ‘Knowing, Wise,’ and Muhammad had not noticed the change” … (Muhammad at Medina, Oxford UP, 1956, p. 68). Abdullah therefore disbelieved Muhammad’s inspiration and apostatized (left Islam) and returned to Mecca a polytheist.

However, his foster-brother was Uthman b. Affan, one of Muhammad’s Companions, who hid Abdullah until calm settled on conquered Mecca and who interceded for Abdullah, in the presence of Muhammad. The prophet waited a long time before he granted the repentant apostate immunity. After Uthman left, Muhammad said to those sitting around him: “I kept silent so that one of you might get up and strike off his head!” One of them asked why Muhammad did not give them a signal. He answered that a prophet does not kill by pointing.

Though Abdullah escaped with his life, this story is included because it reveals Muhammad’s attitude toward apostates, because of the doubt of one of Muhammad’s followers—a literate scholar who was involved in writing down the revelations, and because Muhammad’s anger could be assuaged under the right conditions.

Source: Ibn Ishaq, p. 550 / 818.

9. After January 630: One of Abdullah bin Katal’s two singing-girls

On the list of those excluded from amnesty after the conquest of Mecca was not only Abdullah b. Katal, collector of legal alms, who had killed his slave for incompetence, apostatized, and took the money back to Mecca, but also his two singing-girls who sang satirical verses about Muhammad, which Abdullah had composed. He was killed, even though he was clinging to the curtain of the Kabah shrine. And one of the girls was also killed, but the other ran away until she asked for pardon from Muhammad, who forgave her.

Source: Bukhari vol. 4, 3044; Ibn Ishaq, pp. 550-51 / 819.

10. After February 630: close call for Kab bin Zuhayr

Confident with the victory over Mecca, Muhammad returned to Medina a hero and firmly in charge of the southwest of the Arabian Peninsula. In this context we come to another poet who satirized Muhammad and the Muslims, Kab bin Zuhayr (called Zuhayr to distinguish him from Kab bin al-Ashraf, above, no. 5). Zuhayr’s brother wrote him that Muhammad had killed a number of satirical poets during his conquest of Mecca, but that the prophet would forgive a poet who came to him in repentance, which really means becoming a Muslim. His brother told him that the poets who were left had fled in all directions. “If you have any use for your life, then come to the apostle [Muhammad] quickly, for he does not kill anyone who comes to him in repentance,” wrote the brother, continuing: “if you do not do that, then get to a safe place.”

However, Zuhayr responded with a poem that says their fathers and father had never held Islam dear, so why should he change? His brother replied with a poem of warning of his own; if he would not repent, then Zuhayr will be guilty on Judgment Day. Poetry penetrated deeply in Arab culture, and, receiving the letter, Zuhayr was distressed until finally he gave in. Finding no way out, he wrote a letter extolling Muhammad. Soon afterwards, he traveled up to Medina to ask for security as a Muslim. Muhammad was saying his morning prayers, and a friend took Zuhayr into Muhammad’s presence. “Would you accept him as such if he came to you?” his friend asked. The prophet said he would.

One of the Ansars (or helpers: native Medinans who offered help to Muhammad after his Hijrah) leaped upon Zuhayr and asked the prophet if he could behead the enemy of God, for some of Zuhayr’s verses mocked the Ansars, too. The apostle said to leave him alone, for Zuhayr was breaking free from his past. The implication is clear: if Muhammad had caught Zuhayr before his repentance, Muhammad would have allowed him to be beheaded. Either he converts or he dies—for writing derogatory poetry. What is remarkable about the anecdote is how the morning prayer provides the setting for a Muslim leaping on a poet and threatening to cut his head off, as if this is an ordinary day and act.

Source: Ibn Ishaq, pp. 597-602 / 887-93.

Defense and Challenges

From all of these stories it should be clear that the accounts about assassinations are jarring to the reader expecting to find the religion of peace. It is a matter of course that Muslims and some Western scholars or Islamophiles would be anxious to explain these circumstances in a favorable light. Their defense usually takes six lines of argument. Our analysis follows each defense.

First, reputable scholars remind us of the brutality of Arab culture. When a stranger or enemy in this culture was left unprotected outside of a tribe, he or she was vulnerable to attack and murder. Who could take revenge? Blood feud was never ignited. Thus, the only check on violence in this culture is revenge or more violence, when adequate law courts and law enforcement did not exist, as they did, say, in the Roman Empire. Muhammad was therefore only following Arab culture (Watt, Muhammad: Prophet and Statesmen, (Oxford UP, 1961), pp. 128-30).

On the surface, this seems to be a reasonable explanation. Muhammad was a man of his own times and region. However, at bottom, it is disappointing that a Gabriel-inspired prophet would not or could not rise above his culture, especially above the questionable custom of assassination. Most importantly, it seems that many Muslims today look to his example, and this lands Islam in interpretative difficulties as seen in the fatwas against various authors today. How are Muslims today, especially those with a radical bent, supposed to interpret Muhammad’s willingness to eliminate opponents and slanderers? Again, one would hope that a prophet would rise above the dubious customs like blood feuds, rife in his own culture. But he did not, and one of his dubious qualities was his deft handling of blood feuds and sizing up opponents based on their strength or weakness. That is why the assassinations did not take place before the Battle of Badr in 624 when his stance in Medina was less secure, but after the battle, when he was strong, and after the conquest of Mecca in 630, along with Battles at Hunayn and Ta’if, a little later. It is true that the victims listed in this article belonged to tribes that should have taken revenge, but evidently they were too weak to do so. Muhammad was wise in his calculations.

For information on Muhammad’s various other questionable actions, visit this online booklet from an older generation Christian. He has a section on assassinations as well.

Second, Muslim apologists (defenders of Islam) take seriously the assassination of Kab bin al-Ashraf (no. 5, above) because reliable hadith treat of him at length. Maulana Muhammad Ali, though a member of the Ahmadiyyah sect, which is considered a heresy, is mentioned here because he defends his prophet thoroughly, pointing out that Kab was a combatant and an enemy leader of the Jews (Muhammad the Prophet, 7th ed., 1993, pp. 202-06). Also, another Muslim scholar says that since Kab was willing to take his foster-brother’s sons and women as collateral, he had a wicked heart and deserved his death (Abdul Hamid Siddiqi, trans. of Sahih Muslim, 3:990, note 2269). Neither was he willing to commit his crime openly, but secretly, so he had to be assassinated secretly. But secret assassination is an exception in Islam, says Sayyid Abul A’La Maududi (referenced in Siddiqi, 3:991, note 2272). Still another commentator says that he led a large contingency of horsemen (forty? two to three hundred? The estimates vary) to Mecca (so much for the secrecy), presumably to provoke the Meccans to avenge their loss at Badr, as if they needed this one man and his posse to do that (Razi, referenced in Maulana Ali’s commentary on Sura 59:2).

In reply, however, the magnification of Kab’s crime is questionable. But even if it is admitted that Kab was an unsavory character who used bad judgment with his insulting poetry, and even though he was living in the hostile environment of Medina, he was not a formal combatant in a battle. His wife’s observation that the tribes were at war reflects the tension between the Jews and the growing Muslim community. Instead, he seems to have lived in a “gray” area between his mother’s Jewish tribe and his father’s distant nomadic tribe, and Muhammad correctly judged he was weak enough to be assassinated. As to Kab’s wicked heart and his secret crimes, Muhammad could have expelled him for wickedness (see Sura 5:33). And his poetry was circulated widely; it was not a secret. His living in a fortress near Medina was not so secret that the five assassins could not find him. Finally, did he openly, not secretly, lead a band of forty or hundreds of horsemen in an age when horses were costly, thereby indicating Kab’s power and leadership of a Jewish tribe? Answer: neither Bukhari nor Muslim reports this. Succinctly put, despite all of these unusual and conflicting explanations, it just seems more likely that Muhammad was simply following Arab culture and eliminated an opponent who was vulnerable after the Battle of Badr, simply for writing derogatory poetry. Ockham’s razor cuts out needless explanations.

Third, one scholar says that the Muslim community in Medina, even after Badr, was still weak, so Muhammad was forced to take a hard line against mockers and enemies (as he perceived them), just to survive. This scholar uses language like “oppression” and “persecution” and “conspiracy,” which came from both the Jewish and pagan communities in Medina.

However, Muhammad did not see himself as so weak that he would not carry out the assassinations. It should be recalled that Asma bint Marwan (no. 3), Abu Afak (no. 4), and Kab (no. 5) belonged to tribes, but they could not carry out the required custom of blood feud: revenge. Therefore, Muhammad correctly discerned their weakness and his strength and followed the Arab custom of assassination. Most importantly, Muslim apologists (defenders of Islam) must step back and look at the big picture. It was Muhammad who attacked the Meccan caravans six times without provocation and without self-defense in the first year and a half or so after moving to Medina. (For more information, go to this article and scroll down to reason no. four). It is the Allah-inspired prophet who went west seventy to eighty miles (a two to three day journey) to the wells of Badr in order to attack the Meccan caravan coming from the north, wanting only the unarmed band, that is, the large caravan loaded with goods (Sura 8:7). To judge from the big picture, it was Muhammad who settled in Medina and stirred up trouble. If Muhammad had stayed within Medina and expanded his message by preaching alone, then no military or political trouble would have erupted. True, people would have resisted his message, but if it had something to offer people, it could have still grown. True, people may have attempted to assassinate him, but he had a bodyguard.

We see this growth by proclamation alone in the message of Jesus, who drew big crowds when he preached and healed and worked miracles—and eventually purposing to die on the cross for the sins of the world. He did not assassinate people, even though he met with resistance from religious leaders (see more on this below). The growth of the true kingdom of God by peaceful means implies that God was backing this message. In contrast, the growth of Muhammad’s message with an army always lurking in the background implies that God was not backing this message and that Islam was unattractive and unacceptable to many listeners, as seen, for example, in the revolt of the Arab tribes after Muhammad died of a fever in AD 632. Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s successor, took two years to suppress these revolts militarily and to force the tribes to re-join Islam.

Fourth, one Muslim scholar argues in regards to Kab (and the same could apply to the other poets) that Kab insulted the Head of an Islamic State (Muhammad) and the State itself. The Head could not allow immoral poetry, which drags the honor of Arab women “into the mire,” and the Head could not allow political poetry that insults the Head and instigates the enemies of the State (Siddiqi 3:991, note 2269). In other words, Kab (and the others) deserved what he (and they) got. The tact of this scholar goes in the opposite direction from the third explanation. Early Islam was not fragile, but strong. It was not a community growing in power in a city with competing tribes and interests.

However, this analysis is questionable, for at this stage in early Islam Muhammad was still feeling his way. But even if this explanation were true, the question still remains: did the Head of State have to assassinate, regardless of how seriously Arab culture took poetry? He had banishment at his disposal (Sura 5:33), which he applied to the Jewish Qaynuqa tribe. After all, Muhammad employed poets to counter his enemies, but apparently his enemies did not have the power to assassinate or to banish Muhammad or his poets. Moreover, Muhammad’s policy, if coming from a strong State, only gives permission to the extremists in Islam today to attack weak dissidents and satirists. If Muhammad did it, why cannot the extremists follow his example? Those who issue deadly fatwas are doing just that.

Fifth, Muslim apologists generally recount the atrocities perpetrated in and by the Western world, sometimes committed in the name of Christianity, so who are Christians or Westerners (the two are not identical) to complain?

But this comparison is uneven and unfair. A better comparison is made between the earliest stage of Islam, during the life of Muhammad, and the earliest stage of Christianity, during the life of Christ. And then the similarities break down completely. At no time did Jesus behead or assassinate or even wish for the beheading or assassination of his opponents, many of whom mocked or challenged him face-to-face. Maybe this is why Christianity turned the world upside down for the first three centuries without warfare—Constantine comes around in the fourth century and does not set the genetic code for Christianity, nor do the Medieval Crusades, especially not.

The sixth and final line of defense questions the reliability of the early traditions that narrate these anecdotes. As noted, only the narrative about Kab in our article is discussed at length in the most reliable hadith, that of Bukhari and Muslim. Therefore, one Muslim scholar dismisses every tradition except Kab’s (Maulana Muhammad Ali, pp. 202-06), whereas one conservative biographer accepts other narratives, such as the assassinations of Asma (no. 3) and Abu Afak (no. 4) (Muhammad Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, 8th ed., trans. Ismail Raji al-Faruqi, 1935, 2002, p. 243). In Maulana Ali’s case, along with this dismissal comes the presupposition that since Islam is the religion of peace, a prophet like Muhammad would never assassinate poets, singing-girls and an innocent Jewish bystander. Ali then quotes passages from the Quran or the hadith that says old men and women should not be killed. This kind of reasoning is shaky because it has a holy book determining historical events. This attitude can be expressed simply in an if-then argument:

If A, then B. If early Islam were the religion of peace, then Muhammad would never order the assassination of poets, poetesses, singing-girls, and an innocent Jewish bystander.
A obtains. Islam was the religion of peace (The Quran and hadith say so).
So does B. Therefore, he would never order their assassinations (and never did).

This unspoken logic lurks behind the desire to find extraordinary crimes in Kab’s behavior (see the second defense, above). Surely this is how Muslims today must eliminate the violence that jars any reasonable Muslim. But does the evidence support this logic? This article demonstrates that the evidence does not support this dubious reasoning.

However, though it is difficult to believe that all of these stories coming from pro-Muslim sources are fabrications, let us assume only for the sake of argument that all of these stories, even Kab’s, are fictitious and should be dismissed. Even if they are all fictions and regardless of the motives behind the logic of the Muslim apologists, this question still needs to be asked about the earliest stage of Islam, during Muhammad’s life:

What is it about Islam at that time that would produce such stories of assassinations for the crime of composing insulting poetry and of being Jewish?

The authors of such “fictions” seem eager to write them up.

After all, fictions were invented about Jesus, but they do not involve assassinations that are situated in non-miraculous social contexts which therefore aim at giving the assassinations a ring of historical accuracy or plausibility—all of which are true in Muhammad’s case. Rather, the fictions are usually outlandish miracles, such as Jesus as a baby in a cradle, speaking like an adult, or Jesus as a young boy making birds out of clay, breathing into them, and causing them to fly away (two fictions that Muhammad incorporated into the inerrant Quran; see 19:29-34 and 3:49). It is true that the anti-Semitic Infancy Gospel of Thomas (where, incidentally, is found the clay birds episode) has the child Jesus cursing a Jewish teacher who then died. Yet, the social context of this myth is supernatural and concerns Jesus’ childhood, on which canonical and historical accounts are mostly silent. On the other hand, Muhammad’s assassinations are set in non-miraculous social contexts and not during his childhood, about which the early Islamic records are largely silent. Moreover, they are attested in Bukhari’s reliable hadith.

In contrast to these legends about Jesus, the culture of first-century Israel saw the assassinations of politicians and other harsh punishments like crucifixion. But the real Jesus handled an angry crowd who threatened to throw him off a cliff by simply walking out of trouble confidently and going on his way (Luke 4:28-29). Thus, Jesus did not promote or use violence to fulfill his own political agenda. Nor did he endorse, for example, the amputation of hands or feet or stoning for any sin whatsoever, and Paul suggests that a thief should work with his hands, not get his hands cut off (Ephesians 4:28); in fact Jesus stopped the imminent stoning of an adulteress (John 8:1-11). Thus, the known message and life of Jesus did not include assassinations and other punishments, so an inventor of such extreme legends would have been laughed out of court.

In Muhammad’s own life and times, beheadings and assassinations of weak opponents, as noted in the first defense, above, were part of the social environment. More important, reliable hadith show beyond all doubt that Muhammad practiced amputations for theft, enshrined in the Quran (Sura 5:38), stoning for adultery in the hadith, which also reliably reports Kab’s and a Jewish leader’s assassinations, not mentioned in this article. Thus, we see a coinciding of the facts of Muhammad’s harsh culture and his known harsh practices, unlike the situation with Jesus, who did not have harsh practices, though he lived in a harsh culture. The life and message of the two Founders differ widely, so the legends about them differ widely—though in Muhammad’s case these legends are not fictitious.

It is clear, then, that Jesus rose above his violent culture, whereas Muhammad did not. Jesus trusted in God, but Muhammad took matters into his own hand and killed his enemies and opponents stealthily.

Indeed, reputable historians accept the historicity of most of the assassinations cited in this article. That is, in all probability Muhammad did in fact assassinate enemies of Islam, even for the crime of composing insulting poetry. After all, the numerous stories come from pro-Muslim early sources that seem eager to portray Muhammad as ordering assassinations. More importantly, this debate is academic. Should we doubt whether the violent radicals today accept the early assassinations as historical? What does the prophet’s example communicate to these radicals who feel holy as they apply seventh-century Arabian customs to the twenty-first century world? It seems the terrorists and assassins are terrorized by this logic:

If A, then B. If early Islam were the religion of peace, then Muhammad would never order the assassination of poets, poetesses, singing-girls, and an innocent Jewish bystander.
Not-B. But Muhammad did order their assassinations. (Historical reality says so.)
Therefore, not-A. Therefore, early Islam was not the religion of peace.

To counter this logic and the jarring aspect of early Islamic violence, terrorist-assassins must remain with (1)-(3), above, regardless of the evidence and the cost that truth must pay. Allah had to have guided Muhammad perfectly, so, to be obedient, they now have to follow or are permitted to follow in Muhammad’s footsteps and carry out assassinations of authors and filmmakers (see below) today for the sin of blasphemy. Early Islam inspires them. Allah wills it. It never occurs to them that Allah did not guide Muhammad perfectly and that Islam is not the religion of peace (4)-(6); that would be too jarring. The violent radicals, instead, appeal to a higher source than the hadith—the Quran itself.

Dark Inspiration from the Quran

Does the Quran assert that insulters and mockers should not be touched, killed, or condemned to hell? We analyze five passages in chronological order, not textual order.

After the Battle of Uhud in March 625, which the Muslims lost, Muhammad was stung. He and his Muslim community suffered a loss of prestige, though the community did not crumble, but quickly recovered and grew, so the loss was not material. In this verse about undergoing insults from the People of the Book (Jews, mostly, in Medina at this time), Muhammad has to take the path of humility.

3:186 You [Muhammad] are sure to be tested through your possessions and persons; you are sure to hear much that is hurtful [aa-dh-aa] from those who were given the Scripture before you and from those who associate others with God [polytheists]. If you are steadfast and mindful of God, that is the best course. (Haleem)

The word “hurtful” is the same Arabic word (three-letter root is aa-dh-aa) that has been translated, below, as “annoy” and “insult.” It has the semantic range of hurt, suffer, damage, injure, or harm. “The word … signifies a slight evil … or anything causing a slight harm” (Abdul Mannan Omar, ed., Dictionary of the Holy Qur’an, Noor Foundation, 2003, p. 19). Fakhry translates the key word in this verse as “abuse” (An Interpretation of the Qur’an, NYUP, 2000, 2004). Allah tells his prophet that he has to take the insults, not retaliate. Historically, Muhammad was momentarily too weak to retaliate against insults after the Battle of Uhud. But Allah reveals that if he is patient, then he will find a great strength. Indeed, he exiled the Jewish tribe of an-Nadir in August of that year and the Jewish tribe Qurayza after the Battle of the Trench in AD 627.

After the Battle of the Trench in 627, Muhammad’s power, though always growing, increases exponentially in Medina, even more so than after the Battle of Badr in 624; therefore Allah sends down Sura 33 in the context of the Trench. In fact, we find in this sura that Muhammad is so powerful that he lays seize to the Jewish strongholds in Medina, captures them, decapitates 600 male Jews of the Qurayzah tribe, enslaves its women and children, though he keeps a beautiful Jewess for himself, and confiscates all of their property, which is considerable (33:26-27). After this great victory and confiscation, Muhammad is wealthier than ever. So Aisha and Hafsa and Muhammad’s other wives approach their husband to ask for more money. Miffed, Muhammad gives all of them the option to depart or to remain with him and be content with their allowance. He separates himself from them for twenty-nine days, and afterwards they decide to remain with him (33:33-28). Next, he issues an edict that gives him special permission to marry Zainab, the wife of his adopted son Zaid. Arab culture forbad men from marrying the wives of their sons, but Muhammad claimed that Zaid was merely his adopted son; besides, Allah told him his desire was legitimate (33:35-40). Thus, it is in the context of Muhammad’s rising power and wealth, atrocity against the Jews, and new laws about marriage and the behavior of women that these verses were received in Surah 33:

33:57 Those who insult [aa-dh-aa] God and His Messenger will be rejected by God in this world and the next—He has prepared a humiliating punishment for them— 58 and those who undeservedly insult [aa-dh-aa] believing men and women will bear the guilt of slander and obvious sin. (Haleem)

Muslim scholars agree that the Arabic word includes false reports. So Muhammad was advocating eternal damnation for merely annoying the prophet and his Muslims, the “believing men and women,” and for lying insults.

Then the sura continues with commands to Muhammad’s wives to wear veils so that the insults will stop. But he also promises the insulting liars conquest and death (v. 61), which seems to echo the atrocity committed against the Jewish Qurayzah tribe.

33:59 Prophet, tell your wives your daughters, and women believers to make their outer garment hang low over them, so as to be recognized and not insulted [aa-dh-aa]: God is most forgiving, most merciful. 60 If the hypocrites, the sick of heart, and those who spread lies in the city {Medina] do not desist, We shall arouse you [Prophet] against them, and then they will only be your neighbors in this city for a short while. 61 They will be rejected wherever they are found, and then seized and killed. (Haleem)

This passage is stark. We find Muhammad laying down the law for all the Muslim women so that no false rumors can grow—they must wear veils. The phrase “sick of heart” is understood by Muslim commentators like Maulana Ali and Hilali and Khan as those who have excessive sexual desire, so the women must cover up. Regardless, the class of rumor-mongers, “those who spread lies,” is subjected to the harshest warning. If they do not desist, they will not only be exiled, but also find no rest wherever they go. Then they will be “seized and killed,” as the Qurayza tribe was. These verses, though received in 627, predict nicely what will happen to the satirical poets during the conquest of Mecca in 630, for they spread lies and insult the honor of Muslim women and Muhammad himself.

David Harsanyi, in the article for Frontpagemag.com referenced in the introduction to this article, reports on a Muslim riot provoked by an observation made by fashion journalist Isioma Daniel in the Nigerian newspaper This Day, in November 2002, in defense of the Miss World pageant held in Nigeria. She observed that perhaps Muhammad would have chosen one of the beautiful contestants for one of his wives. “A direct result of what was at worst a thoughtless remark in a fashion column has directly led to the deaths of 200 people with another 500 injured in Nigeria during four days of rioting and mob violence,” writes Harsanyi.

Harsanyi’s article continues. Do the violent radicals use the Quran to justify their actions? They did against Ms. Daniel:

What we are saying is that the Holy Koran has clearly stated that whoever insults the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, should be killed,” said Zamfara State Commissioner for Information, Umar Dangaladima Magaji. The New Nigerian newspaper said the fatwa had been issued by Zamfara’s Deputy Governor Mamuda Aliyu Dallatun Shinkafi, who compared Daniel to Rushdie: “Like Salman Rushdie, the blood of Isioma Daniel can be shed.”

Thus, the State Commissioner for Information, not an anonymous killer who can hide in the shadows, asserts that the Quran supports the actions of the Muslims, and the Deputy Governor published the fatwa in the newspaper and over the radio so that a Muslim mob could take matters into its own hand and kill anyone who looks like a Christian, as the BBC reported, according to Harsanyi.

Finally, in Sura 9, Muhammad’s power is complete, especially in the last two-thirds of the sura, which deals with the expedition to Tabuk (in the far north of Saudi Arabia today) in late 630. The hypocrites in Islam are the lukewarm Muslims who circle just outside of Islam, watching the fortunes of the community, whether they rise and stay prosperous. They do not follow the prophet when he cracks the whip; indeed, they backed away from following him to Tabuk because of the expense, the harvest season, and the heat (Sura 9:81-83). Muhammad could not tolerate such wishy-washy behavior, since he planned to expand northward even after Tabuk. Watt is reasonable when he observes: “… if the Islamic community was to engage in expeditions into Syria [the far north in the Byzantine Empire] which would involve the absence of most of the fighting men for long periods, it could not allow a body of dissidents to ensconce themselves in the suburbs of Medina” (Muhammad at Medina, p. 190). So it is in this context that Muhammad receives these verses about insults and mockery and jokes from hypocrites.

9:61 There are others who insult[aa-dh-aa] the Prophet by saying, “He will listen to anything.” [Muhammad,] Say, “He listens for your own good” … An agonizing torment awaits those who insult [aa-dh-aa] God’s Messenger … 63 Do they not know that whoever opposes God and His Messenger will go to the Fire of Hell and stay there?” That is the supreme disgrace. (Haleem)

Thus, the hypocrites accuse Muhammad of listening to anything and everything, so he lacks wisdom and inspiration from Allah. But Allah gets the last laugh, for they will be thrown into the fires of hell. According to Sura 9:73 and 123, Muhammad wages a physical and violent war on them. So Watt’s explanation is misguided if he excuses Muhammad’s violence.

Muhammad continues his denunciation of the hypocrites with their jokes:

9:64 The hypocrites fear that a sura will be revealed exposing what is in their hearts—say, “Carry on with your jokes: God will bring about what you fear!”— 65 yet if you were to question them, they would be sure to say, “We were just chatting, just amusing ourselves.” Say, “Were you making jokes about God, His Revelation [the Quran], and His Messenger? 66 Do not try to justify yourselves; you have gone from belief to disbelief.” (Haleem)

Muhammad goes on to assert that the hypocrites are misleading a number of people, and in the eyes of the violent radicals today, this could easily be applied to Muslims who go from “belief to disbelief” as they criticize Islam and Muhammad. They have become hypocrites worthy of the fires of hell (v. 68); and taking verse 33:61 (see above) seriously, which promises besiegement and death, the radicals today help the hypocrites reach hell more quickly, by assassinating them rather than waiting for natural causes. The hypocrites of Muhammad’ time and of today cannot hide behind “chatting and amusing themselves” because God, the Quran, and the Messenger cannot be trifled with. Indeed, the Ayatollah Khomeini (d. 1989) in 1980, shortly after he gained power in Iran and who issued the first fatwa against Rushdie, said: “There is no room for play in Islam …. It is deadly serious about everything.”

The following hadiths from Sunan Abu Dawud, a reputable source, support the verses in the Quran and the deceased Supreme Leader. This passage is narrated by Ibn Abbas, who was Muhammad’s cousin and considered a highly reliable transmitter of early traditions.

The blind husband of a woman who used to verbally abuse Muhammad kept telling her to stop, but she would not. Eventually, he took a dagger and stabbed her to death. Muhammad heard about it and gathered his followers together to find out who did it. Trembling, the man leaped up and told Muhammad that he did it, whereupon, the prophet said: “Oh, be witness, no retaliation is payable for her blood” (vol. 3, no. 4348). The translator of Sunan Abu Dawud, Ahmad Hasan, says that later jurists or legal scholars are unanimous that a Muslim who abuses or insults the prophet should be killed (note 3799). Muhammad did not arrest the murderous thug, but let him go free, and the jurists use this passage (and others) to apply this punishment to the world outside of Medina. It is breathtaking to watch Islam in action.

Finally, Ali, Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, narrated the following murder of a Jewish woman for insulting Muhammad: “A man strangled her till she died. The Apostle of Allah [Muhammad] declared that no recompense was payable for her blood” (vol. 3, no. 4349). The translator informs us that all Jews or any non-Muslims who insults the prophet should also be killed (note 3800). Again, the example of Muhammad serves to guide later Islam. Allah was guiding this religion, but the true God was not.

These hadith passages, though not dealing directly with insult poetry, demonstrate that early Islam is violent. All in all, the sources of early Islam—the Quran, the hadith, biographies, and histories—converge together and agree on this violence, painting a dark picture of this religion.

Islam is not the religion of peace.


So the deadly fatwas and assassinations continue. Radical Muslims are concerned not only for their prophet, but also for another “prophet,” Jesus, who comes behind Muhammad in importance, though revered nonetheless. David Harsanyi reports that in 1999, a London-based group called Muhajiroun (named after Muhammad’s fellow-emigrants from Mecca to Medina in AD 622), describing itself as Defenders of the Messenger Jesus, put a bounty on the playwright Terrence McNally for his play Corpus Christi, when it reached London. The play, set in modern Texas, shows Jesus dying not as the King of Kings, but as the King of Queers, after his gay lover Judas betrays him. This play is especially offensive to Christians, and some may protest it, but no Christian can ever cite support from the New Testament or from the example of Christ to assassinate McNally. The Muhajiroun, however, have ample testimony from the example of Muhammad and the Quran to eliminate the playwright.

As noted in the introduction, Theo van Gogh, 47, descendant of the brother of the famous nineteenth-century painter Vincent, was assassinated for his film Submission, which depicts violence against women in Muslim society. One woman is forced into an arranged marriage and beaten by her husband. Van Gogh was assassinated while cycling by a man dressed in a traditional Moroccan jallaba. The Dutch artist, pleading for mercy, had his throat sliced after his killer fired six shots into him. It should be noted that van Gogh called Jesus “the rotten fish of Nazareth,” apparently referring to the Christian symbol of a fish, but no Christian—not even the most zealous fundamentalist—attempted to or actually assassinated him. And if anyone did, then Christian leaders around the world would have roundly condemned him, as they have condemned a few killers of abortion doctors and bombers of abortion clinics over the last two or so decades. The silence of Muslim leaders about van Gogh’s death speaks loudly about the state of Islam. For more information, go to these articles [1], [2], [3], [4].

Radical Muslims do not hesitate to riot if the Quran is desecrated. In honor of their holy book, they kill innocent people. Though their deaths are not assassinations as such, they demonstrate how far radicals will go in responding to insults of their religion. This article analyzes why Islam is disrespected. It is one of the few major religions to erupt in violence when a desecration may occur (or not).

We began this article with the three-letter root of Islam (s-l-m), which means peace. However, Webster’s Dictionary says that the word “assassin” comes from another Arabic word: “hashshashin,” (plural of hashshash). This comes from “one who smokes or chews hashish,” which also names “a secret order of Muslims that at the time of the Crusades terrorized Christians and other enemies by secret murder committed under the influence of hashish.” It has been shown that the terrorists in Iraq use drugs as they terrorize their fellow Iraqis and the infidels.

Worse still, the religious and Muhammad-sanctioned violence in the earliest source documents—the Quran, the hadith, the biographies, and the histories—acts as a kind of drug on the conscience of violent radicals. They read these sources and reasonably conclude that Allah endorses violence. So why would they feel guilty for violence if they have their conscience soothed by Muhammad’s example?

The anaesthetizing seeds of assassination have been planted in the earliest soil of Islam, and now they have grown up into the assassinations of artists and writers and filmmakers. Early Islam inspires such terrorist-assassins.

Jesus did not assassinate anyone, nor did he endorse assassinations to promote the true kingdom of God.

Jesus saves. Muhammad assassinated.

Supplementary material:

This article surveys the rise of violence in Bangladesh. The political parties listed in the box on the right, particularly Islami Chhatra Shibir, has been implicated in religiously motivated assassinations, not to mention the political ones. This article also deals with the rise of violence in Bangladesh.

This analysis discusses the similarities between assassinations in early Islam and the ones today. It is written in honor of Professor Humayon Azad who was assassinated for writing books lampooning or criticizing fundamentalist Islam in Bangladesh.

This analysis examines the many causes of assassinations of journalists and intellectuals in several Islamic countries, notably Algeria, but the analysis fails to go back to the ultimate source: Muhammad himself.

This ironical article gives five “reverse” pillars of Islam. The third one includes assassinations.

These two articles analyze the assassination of the filmmaker Theo van Gogh in light of the assassinations in early Islam: [1], [2].

American journalist Daniel Pearl was assassinated apparently for the crime of being Jewish (so says the recruitment video title, noted in this analysis) and being American (read: an infidel). This article has a scathing rebuke of Islamic societies that either encourage gruesome murders or remain silent about them.

Copyright by James Malcolm Arlandson. Originally published at americanthinker.com, this article was edited and expanded for Answering Islam.

Articles by James Arlandson
Answering Islam Home Page

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Islam and Dhimmitude – Adnan Rashid vs Mark Durie

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Mohammed creates a religious conflict with the Meccans which has no purpose in God’s redemptive plans for mankind. This futile conflict begins with verbal altercations and escalates to a full blown war in which many were killed because of one misguided man. This proves that he was a false prophet

Two of Mohammed’s mistakes are firstly that the Meccans must be coerced by force to change their religion and to keep their religion. Both of these are false according to the bible. Secondly Mohammed ruled that one must worship through the means of a holy place, the Kaaba. This is another reason why he created a false conflict with the Meccans because of his insistence that the Kaaba was being desecrated through the pagan worship that was being performed there. The false religion of Islam is built on these errors which have been perpetuated to our very day. What did Jesus say about a holy place of worship? With the coming of his kingdom it would not be required any more. True believers will worship in spirit and in truth and their own bodies will be the only temple existing under the New Covenant in his blood. If Mohammed had been more wise he could have saved the world much violence and bloodshed.

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Islam only has one goal for the non-Muslim which is to strike terror in to their hearts and minds. If you understand this you understand all behaviour of Muslims towards non-Muslims

[3:151] We will throw terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, since they set up besides GOD powerless idols. Their destiny is Hell; what a miserable abode for the transgressors!
[8:12] Recall that your Lord inspired the angels: “I am with you; so support those who believed. I will throw terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved. You may strike them above the necks, and you may strike even every finger.”
[18:18] You would think that they were awake, when they were in fact asleep. We turned them to the right side and the left side, while their dog stretched his arms in their midst. Had you looked at them, you would have fled from them, stricken with terror.
[33:26] He also brought down their allies among the people of the scripture from their secure positions, and threw terror into their hearts. Some of them you killed, and some you took captive.
[34:51] If you could only see them when the great terror strikes them; they cannot escape then, and they will be taken away forcibly.
[59:2] He is the One who evicted those who disbelieved among the people of the scripture from their homes in a mass exodus. You never thought that they would leave, and they thought that their preparations would protect them from GOD. But then GOD came to them whence they never expected, and threw terror into their hearts. Thus, they abandoned their homes on their own volition, in addition to pressure from the believers. You should learn from this, O you who possess vision.
[59:13] Indeed, you strike more terror in their hearts than their fear of GOD. This is because they are people who do not comprehend.
[100:4] Striking terror therein.
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The Village of the Apes and Swine, part 2

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The Village of the Apes and Swine, part 1

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