The recent events in France demand that we ask a fundamental question. Do the authoritative texts in Islam support acts of violence against those who are perceived as insulting the Prophet of Islam? First we’ll take look at what the Qur’an says then we’ll look at the traditions of Muhammad to determine if those acts recently perpetrated have any basis in Islam.
Before there was a single Qur’anic revelation concerning insults, Muhammad’s biography records in Ishaq 136 that one Al-Nadir said he was a better story teller than Muhammad. In Ishaq 308 he was decapitated by Ali. Ali was Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law who married Muhammad’s daughter Fatima. Although Ali became the 4th Caliph of Sunni Islam, Shi’a Muslims consider him the 1st Imam of Shi’a Islam.
The same year Uqba bin Abu Muayt insulted Muhammad. According to Bukhari, vol. 4, no. 2934; Muslim, vol. 3, nos. 4422, 4424 Muhammad called on Allah for revenge on this poet.
In Ishaq 308-316 Uqba was captured after the Battle of Badr. Muhammad ordered his execution for his poetic criticism. When Uqba asked who would look after his children Muhammad replied HELLFIRE. After Uqba was decapitated Muhammad called Uqba a wretched person.
In Bukhari vol. 5, no. 4037; Muslim vol. 3, no. 4436 and Ibn Ishaq 364—69 / 548—53; Ka’b bin al-Ashraf, a Jewish poet wrote verses about Muslims that Muhammad found insulting. Muhammad asked his followers, ‘Who will rid me of this man?’ several volunteered. Al-Ashraf was stabbed to death.
Tabari VII 99-100 and Bukhari V4B52N264 recall Muhammad sending assassins to kill the Jewish Chieftain Abu Rafi for speaking against him. The assassins claimed they drove a sword in Abu-Rafi’s belly.
In Tabari VII 101 and Ishaq 483 Muhammad granted permission to murder the Jew Salaam Huqayq. He was in bed when assassins thrust a sword into his belly.
Before we proceed to the following year realize that Muhammad ordered the execution of those who insulted and ridiculed him. He did this without the benefit of a Qur’anic revelation…but that would soon change.
In this year the Muslims lost a battle to the Meccan Polytheists at a place called Uhud. Muhammad was bloodied and the Muslims fled the battlefield. After the battle Sura 3 was revealed. This means that words came out of Muhammad’s mouth which he attributed to the Angel Gabriel (Jibril).
In Sura 3:186 Allah told Muhammad the loss at Uhud was a test. He would hear insults from the Jews and Polytheists but he was counseled to bear the insults.
So notice after a military defeat Allah advised him to take the verbal insults because at this point Muhammad and his forces were in no position to take retribution.
In Tabari VII 144-150 In an attempt to strike at his enemy, Muhammad sent Amr Umayya to assassinate the Quraysh leader Abu Sufyan. Amr instead murdered Uthman bin Malik. Upon returning from Mecca, Amr met a Shepherd who stated that he’d never become a Muslim. Later Amr told the Prophet “When the Bedouin was asleep I killed him in a more horrible way than any man has been killed” Muhammad then blessed him. In fact the horrible way the Shepherd died was to have an arrow pushed through his good eye until it emerged out of the back of his neck.
Two years after the disaster at Uhud, Muhammad’s fortunes greatly changed. He withstood a Meccan siege at Medina and slaughtered the surrendering Banu Qurayza Jews.
It was in this context that Surah 33:21 was revealed. It stated that Muhammad was a beautiful model for Muslims to follow.
Surah 33:57-61 was then revealed and stated those who insult Allah and Muhammad are cursed and bound for hell. Those who insult Muslims are guilty of slander and sin. If the unbelievers do not stop (the insults) they will not remain as your neighbors. They should be seized and slaughtered.
Although Muhammad commanded assassinations of those who insulted him three years prior, he now had Qur’anic cover to kill them.
In Bukhari (3:106) – “The Prophet said, “Do not tell a lie against me for whoever tells a lie against me then he will surely enter the Hell-fire.” Here it is interesting to read that Muhammad, who claimed no divinity, can state that those who slander him will definitely go to hell. Muhammad constantly reacted with death for those who belittled him.
Then Abu Dawud (vol. 3, no. 4348) recorded that a blind man had a concubine who was mother of two of his children and who used to abuse the prophet with her words. The man tried to stop her repeatedly, ‘but she did not give up the habit.’ One night she began to slander the Prophet . . . and abuse him. So the blind man took a dagger and killed her smearing her child with the woman’s blood.
The next morning after Muhammad was informed of the murder he assembled the people and demanded to know who did it. The blind man stood up and explained to Muhammad that the concubine, his property, was hurling insults. He said he even had two sons by her. He told the Prophet that he tried to stop her, but she refused to stop. He admitted that he killed her. Muhammad responded, ‘Oh, be my witness, no retaliation is payable for her blood’. Interestingly Muslims see Muhammad as merciful for sparing the life of the murderer. To many westerners they see Muhammad as one giving approval for his followers to murder anyone who speaks ill of him.
Abu Dawud continues in (vol. 3, no. 4349) stating that a Jewish woman insulted the prophet and disparage him. A Muslim strangled her to death. The Apostle of Allah . . . declared that no recompense was payable for her blood. Blasphemy and cursing of one’s parent was punishable by death under the Law of Moses. The prophet Elisha on two occasions called death upon those who mocked and disparaged him. Eli and Samuel failed to punish their sons for their blasphemous misconduct as priests and God took their lives and cut off the lineage of Eli and of Samuel from the priesthood. The real problem is that disparaging Muhammad is equated as disparaging Allah, and is therefore blasphemy that must be punished by death. It took Christ’s Gospel to eliminate capital punishment for blasphemy. This can be found in Matthew 12:31-32 and Mark 3:29 where Jesus stated words spoken against him will be forgiven. Nevertheless capital punishment was the norm in Christendom until the 19th century.
In Tabari VIII 90-96; Ishaq 507-509 an old woman, Umm Qirfa, mocked the Prophet. She was arrested and brutally executed by being quartered. Her daughter was given to Muhammad.
At this juncture Muhammad just captured Mecca and had attacked the Byzantines. He is now largely unopposed. In this position of strength the next Surah was revealed.
Surah 9:61-66 states, when Muhammad’s credibility is attacked, torment awaits those who insult him. Whosoever opposes Allah and Muhammad will be bound for a Hell fire the supreme disgrace. Those who make jokes about Allah, Muhammad or the Qur’an are infidels.
Then Tabari VIII 181-183; Ishaq 553 recall after witnessing a series of executions that included: Ibn Khatal, Fartana the slave girl, Al Huwayrith, Miqyas, Sara Mawlat, and Abu Jahl’s slave the Meccans submit to Islam and became Muslims.
The killings continue in Ishaq 675-676. Muhammad ordered the assassinations of Al Harith ibn Suwayd ibn Samit, for speaking against him, Abu Afak (120 year old murdered in his sleep for objecting to Samit’s murder), and Assam bint Marwan, who was impaled in her tent while sleeping with her children and pregnant with another child for satirizing Muhammad in her poetry.
Muhammad Husayn Haykal N242 recorded that her tribe, Banu Khutmah, became Muslims because they felt the power of Islam.
Finally in Bukhari V2B23N1330; V5B64N4441 just before Muhammad’s death he stated, “May Allah curse Jews & Christians for they built their places of worship at the graves of the prophets. For no two religions are to exist in the Arab peninsula.”
The information presented here was in chronological order and in context. The traditions of Muhammad reveal how he reacted and dealt with insults. There is no other version concerning how Muslims are to literally interpret these verses. Islamic literalists who react violently to perceived insults of Islam are within the confines of Qur’anic law to enact violence against perceived offenders. Therefore when politicians continue the mantra that Muslim violence has nothing to do with Islam you now have ammunition to counter how they ignorantly or purposely misinform the people of the west.