EVALUATION OF THE CHALLENGE
THAT MOHAMMED OUGHT TO BE THE
MODEL OF ALL MANKIND
"...If you love Allah, then follow me (Mohammed)..." (Sura 3:31).
"Ye have indeed in the Apostle of Allah a beautiful pattern of
(conduct) for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day."
"I leave with you two things. If you hold fast by them both, you
will never be misguided - the Book of Allah and Sunnah of the
Prophet." ("Mishkat" I, page 173).
"Whoso obeys me shall enter Paradise and whoso disobeys me, has
indeed rejected the truth." (ibid. pages 5 and 159).
"All the utterances and deeds of the Holy Prophet are divinely
inspired, and in them alone can one find the true meaning and the
real significance of the will of Allah...The Prophet alone is best
fitted and, therefore, divinely authorized to determine the meanings
of the Holy Quran, to unfold before humanity the deep wisdom
contained in it...It is by following Muhammad that we can achieve
the cherished goal of winning Allah's favour. ("Sahih Muslim" I,
Introduction pp. i-ii). See also chapter: "The Hadis and Sunnah",
It is essential, that our Muslim friends do not assume that Christians
are just trying to be difficult when they imply that Mohammed was
not a man of immaculate quality.
"For three centuries, they (writers of European countries) have
cried themselves hoarse over their accusations of Muhammad being a
licentious man, an imposter, a murderer, a liar and all other vile
epithets which their hearts could accept. And they go on repeating
these lying accusations believing that some of the mud they throw
may stick....And what proof have these writers of Muhammad being a
licentious man? Nothing but the fact that after he was 53 years old,
he gradually contracted a number of marriages which they dislike,
and the further fact that whilst he limited the number of wives to
his followers at a maximum of four he made an exception of the law
in his own case...
Abraham, David, Solomon and many other prophets and saints of the
Old Testament had many wives. Were they all licentious men? God
forbid such an accusation!" ("Dictionary of Islam", pp. 399-400).
In reply to this, we should like to state that the word "European"
has no place here. It is not a question of nationality, race or
colour, but rather of truth or error. Racism with all its consequences
is evil wherever it comes from.
We reject the implication that certain objections raised by Christians
are not supported by fact.
We cannot be ruled by our emotions on this subject. It ought to be
mentioned also, that all our information about Mohammed comes from
Islamic sources. Every substantiated statement can consequently not
be a "lying accusation."
If it is demanded of a person that he follow and obey a certain
leader he may weigh up the pros and cons and reach a decision. But
when Truth and eternal life are involved, expediency on temporal
issues matters no longer. So when we are told to follow the footsteps
of a spiritual leader, our confidence must not be emotional only, but
most important of all, it must be rational.
That presupposes as deep a study of the quality of the life of the
example, as possible. One should not give a deaf ear to negative
reports, provided they are substantiated. Also one would not explain
away possible flaws. But most of all one must have a fixed standard
by which to measure right and wrong, good and evil. As Christians we
use the standard that is found in the Bible. Ultimately our concept
of what is moral and what immoral will find its origin there.
May just one text indicate what we mean by this:
"Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
Who may live on your holy hill?
He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous ...
has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbour no wrong
and casts no slur on his fellow man ... who keeps his oath
even when it hurts ... " (from Psalm 15).
Since it has been mentioned already, let us look at the concept of
monogamy and polygamy. Was Abraham polygamous? He had Sarah, his
wife, and after her death he "took another wife whose name was
Ketu'rah" (Genesis 25:1). But then he had Hagar for a short
period of time on the advice of Sarah, whose servant she was
(Genesis 16:1-2) with the object of raising a descendant and heir to
Abraham. This was, at least in a sense, polygamy. What was God's view
of this relationship? We have only one and that by implication: after
this episode God had no communion with Abraham for 13 years.
(Genesis 16:16-17:1). Besides this, we see the inevitable problem of
jealousy coming up, which eventually led to Hagar and Ishmael's
banishment from the family. Also in the case of David we read of no
comment by God on his polygamy, although God severely judged him for
his adulterous act with Bathsheba (II Samuel 12). Solomon lived in
absolute excess as far as women were concerned, yet there is no
direct condemnation, except in that he took idolatrous wives who led
him away from the Lord in the latter years of his life. There were
other cases of polygamy also, but we see no rejection of this practice
in the Old Testament. Jesus, when approached on the question of
divorce, re-instituted, however, the original purpose of marriage:
"He (God) who made them from the beginning made them male and
female" (implying not male and females!) and said, for this reason
a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife
(not wives!) and the TWO shall become one. So they are no longer TWO
but ONE. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put
asunder." They said to him: 'Why then did Moses command one to give
a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?' He said to them,
'For your hardness of heart Moses (not God) allowed you to divorce
your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto
you: Whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries
another, commits adultery."
"And he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits
adultery." (Matthew 19:4 and Luke 16:18).
Why? Because polygamy excludes devoted love, for love between the
sexes is exclusive, otherwise it is degraded in essence to mere
sexual fulfilment. No woman who loves her husband and wishes to be
fully loved in return, can tolerate a partner. One may lose sight of
this fact in a polygamous society, but even Ayshah, the favourite
wife of Mohammed, confessed to having been jealous. How much more
would the others have been!
But there is one further aspect: Monogamy gives recognition, status
and integrity to a woman. It is silly to argue that a polygamous
society makes prostitution unnecessary. What about sexual fulfilment
for the woman, who has to share her husband with other wives? And
what about the men who surely have to go without wives, because
someone else has more than one?
The fact that there is a numerical superiority of girls over boys,
is too insignificant to justify the legalisation of polygamy.
We cannot accept the argument that during the "Holy Wars" when many
men were killed, polygamy was a justifiable provision for the widows.
According to notes in "Sahih Muslim" III, page 941, in all the 82
hostilities during the lifetime of Mohammed, only 259 Muslims lost
their lives. He moved to Mecca with 10 000 men. How many of them would
have had a chance of marrying even one widow? 2%!
Be that as it may, we do not wish to regard the custom of polygamy as
a sinful practice, simply because it appears that in Old Testament
times at least, God overlooked it--maybe because of the "hardness of
heart" of the people or simply because it was part of their culture.
Had it been of much consequence spiritually, God would, no doubt,
have spoken out. Nevertheless to a Christian and even in Western
Society the above quotation by Jesus and the reasoning that follows,
give polygamy a negative connotation.
We have to remember that Mohammed lived in a polygamous society. But
he also lived after Jesus and ought to have been aware of His teaching.
Mohammed and his wives
In Sura 66:1 ff we read:
"Oh prophet, why do you hold forbidden what Allah has made lawful to
thee? Thou seekest to please thy wives. And Allah is all-forgiving,
all-compassionate. Allah hss ordained for you the dissolution of your
oaths. Allah is your protector and he is the all-knowing and the
all-wise. When the Prophet confided to one of his wives a certain
matter; and then when she told of it, and turned aside one part; then
when he told her of it, she said, 'Who told thee this?' he said, 'I
was told of it by the All-knowing and the All-aware. If you two repent
to Allah, yet your hearts certainly inclined, but if you support one
another against him, Allah is his protector and Gabriel and the
righteous among the believers and after that the angels and his
supporters. It is possible that, if he divorces you, his Lord
will give him in exchange wives better than you, women who have
surrendered, believing, obedient, penitent, devout, given to fasting,
who have been married and virgins too."
Al-Baiz‚wi, (Commentary Vol.II, pp. 340-341), the Quranic commentator,
gives an explanation of this passage:
"It is related that Mohammed was alone in company with Mary in Ayshah's
or Hafsah's turn. Hafsah became aware of that and therefore scolded
him about it. He declared he had taken an oath, but admitted his
unlawful behaviour, therefore these verses descended." ("Mizanu'l
Haqq, page 330). (The "Mishkat" names Zainab instead of Hafsah -
"Mishkat" II, pages 680-681).
(The complete story is told in the Rauzatu'r Saf‚ , Vol. II,
It is in brief, as follows:
"Mary (the Copt) was a Christian slave given to Mohammed 7 A.H. (628
A.D.) by the Governor of Egypt, Elmokaukas. Her sister, Shereena was
also given at the same time. Mohammed became intimate with Mary and she
bore him Ibrahim, who died in 10 A.H. The intimacy took place in the
home and bed of his wife Hafsah (daughter of Umar) who was absent at
that moment and on the day which was either her or Ayshah's turn. When
Hafsah found this out and questioned him he promised (on oath) not to
touch Mary again if she would keep this a secret, and promised that
Umar and Abu-Bakr should be his successors. Hafsah, however, told
Ayshah about this event, and for a full month Mohammed had no dealings
with any of his wives, living with Mary alone." During that period this
"revelation" was given. ("Der Koran", translated by Ludwig Ullman,
Footnote 2 of Sura 66:1-2, page 456).
It is noteworthy that a revelation from the Holy One should promote
and commend a breach of oath by Mohammed--and under such circumstances!
We conclude that Mohammed, at least in his later years, used Quranic
utterances in favour of his personal interests. That certain revelations
were used for his personal convenience is obvious, and bewilder us:
"O believers, enter not the house of the Prophet, except leave
(permission) is given you for a meal without watching for its hour.
But when you are invited, then enter. And when you have had the meal,
disperse, neither lingering for idle talk; that is hurtful to the
Prophet and he is ashamed before you." (Sura 33:53).
According to the Hadis ("Sahih Muslim" II, page 723 ff. and "Mishkat"
II, page 210) this "revelation" came when Mohammed had just married
Zainab and he wanted the guests to leave.
In Sura 33 there are other instances that no-one can really term
ethical. The Sura records:
"It is not fitting a believer, man or woman, when a matter has been
decided by Allah and his Apostle, to have any option about their
decision. If anyone disobeys Allah and his Apostle, he is indeed on a
clearly wrong path." (Sura 33:36).
We find it presumtuous - not to say blasphemous - when a prophet
assumes a position of equality with God ("..... has been decided by
Allah and his Apostle...."). This suspicion is amplified when
the very next text covers up, or even makes acceptable, an action which
we consider unethical, never mind what the circumstances.
In this case Mohammed married the wife of his adopted son,
Zaid-ibn-Haritha. The story is rather obscure, but was reported by
"Mohammed beheld her, (Zainab, Zaid's wife) after he (Mohammed) had
wedded her (Zainab) to him (Zaid), and she fell into his soul; therefore
he said: 'Praise to Allah who turneth hearts upsidedown.' Zaid heard
it and there occured to his soul an aversion from her society
(nearness). Therefore he came to the Prophet and said: 'I desire to put
away my wife!' After having been persuaded to keep her on, Zaid tried
a while, but then divorced her. After the time prescribed following a
divorce, (a waiting period of 90 days), another "revelation" came to
Mohammed: " 'We wedded her to thee' (Sura 33:37)... the meaning is that
He (Allah) made her his (Mohammed's) wife without the interposition of
a marriage contract. And what confirms it (i.e. this explanation) is
that she used to say to the rest of the Prophet's wives, 'Verily Allah
acted the part of a relative in my being given in marriage, and as for
you, your relatives gave you in marriage.' And it is said that Zaid was
the go-between in her betrothal, and that was a great trial, and an
evident witness to the strength of his faith". (Commentary of Al-Baiz‚wi
Volume II, page 129), (Mizanu'l Haqq, pages 331-332).
The latter statement of Baiz‚wi is, also reflected in the "Sahih
Muslim" (page 724):
"Allah's Messenger said to Zaid to make a mention to her (Zainab) about
him. Zaid went--and said: 'Zainab, Allah's Messenger has sent (me) with
a message to you!' She said: I do not do anything until I consult the
will of my Lord.' So she stood at her place of worship and the (verse
of) the Quran (pertaining to her marriage) was revealed, and Allah's
Messenger came to her without permission."
This "revelation" can be read in Sura 33:37-38:
All the modern commentators explain that both Zaid and Zainab, being
incompatible, were suffering in their marriage; that both were
encouraged by Mohammed to stay together, until the marriage could last
no longer; only then did Zaid (a freed slave) divorce Zainab (of a noble
family); and Mohammed, feeling partly responsible for the failure and
wanting to reinstate Zainab, married her. We have not found any support
for this modern interpretation in the Traditions.
We are reminded of the words of Jesus:
"He who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery."
One may argue that in Zainab's case Mohammed was subject to the culture
and customs of those days. True. But when God speaks He gives absolute
standards that are binding to all who claim to be believers.
Also very strange to us is a special concession to Mohammed concerning
his matrimonial affairs. In Sura 4:3 the number of wives for a Muslim
is restricted to four at a time, plus, however,
"what your right hand possesses", i.e. concubines or slave girls
We would contend that prisoners or slaves are still human beings with
needs and feelings. One could degrade them to animals or use them like
a shirt or socks, but we hold that this is barbaric and unethical. If
that was the practice in a barbaric society, a man of God could not
fall in line with it. Purely for that reason alone we ought to say that
an intimate relationship, without giving the woman concerned the status
of wife, constitutes exploitation, even if the social environment does
not regard it as such. That is why concubinage is a practice rejected
In Sura 33:50-57, however, we notice a different law:
"O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives (1) to whom thou hast
paid their dowers; and those whom thy right hand possesses (2) and of
the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to thee; (3) and daughters
of thy maternal uncles and aunts (4) who migrated with thee (from
Mecca); and any believing woman (5) who dedicates her soul to the
Prophet--if the Prophet wishes to wed her. This only for thee and not
for the believers....Thou mayest defer (the turn of) any of them that
thou pleasest, and thou mayest receive any thou pleasest, and there is
no blame on thee if thou invitest one whose (turn) thou hast set
aside....It is not lawful for thee (to marry more) women after this,
nor to change them for other wives, even though their beauty attract
thee, except any thy right hand should possess."
"It is not right for you that ye should annoy Allah's Apostle, or that
ye should marry his widows after him at any time: truly such a thing
is Allah's sight an enormity....Allah and his Angels send blessings on
the Prophet. 0 ye that believe! Send ye blessings on him, and salute
him with all respect. Those who annoy Allah and his Apostle--Allah has
cursed them in this world and in the hereafter, and has prepared for
them a humiliating punishment."
Thus Mohammed indeed enjoyed a superhuman status.
Ayshah, Mohammed's favourite wife,
"reported that Allah's Apostle married her when she was seven years
old, and she was taken to his house as a bride when she was nine, and
her dolls were with her, and when he (the Holy Prophet) died she was
18 years old." ("Sahih Muslim", page 716).
In Sura 4:23 marriage is forbidden with two sisters at the same time.
It is not well-known, but Mohammed had as slave-concubine not only
Mary, the Copt, but also her sister, Shereena.
How Mohammed's wives must have felt about all this is reflected to some
extent in a Hadis of Ayshah's:
"I used to backbite those (females) who offered themselves for the
Messenger of Allah. So I asked: 'Does a woman offer herself? Then the
Almighty Allah revealed: 'You may put off whom you please of them, you
may take to you whom you wish, and if you desire any whom you have
separated no blame attaches you.' (Sura 33:51) I said: 'It seems to me
that your Lord hastens to satisfy your desire.'" ("Mishkat" I, page 210).
We must emphasize, that all this information comes from authentic
Not without reason Christians are inclined to be critical about
expedient "revelations" like this:
"Ayshah reported that Allah's Messenger sought our permission when he
had (a turn to spend) a day with (one of his wives) amongst us (whereas
he had wanted to visit his other wives too). It was after this that
this verse was revealed: 'Thou mayest put off whom thou pleasest of
them, and take for thee whom thou pleasest.' (Sura 33:51)."
("Sahih Muslim" II, page 762).
Muslims seem to be under the impression, that sexuality in the case
of Mohammed played a very subordinate role in his marriages.
Quotations from the Hadis do not confirm this. Perhaps one Hadis of
Al-Bukhari's (Volume I, page 165) will illustrate this:
"Anas bin Malik said, 'The Prophet used to visit all his wives in a
round, during the day and night and they were eleven in number.' I
asked Anas, 'Had the Prophet the strength for it?' Anas replied, 'We
used to say that the Prophet was given strength of thirty (men).' "
There are some final questions. Was there no envy or jealousy among
the wives of Mohammed? Did he actually make use of his special
privileges? Did he treat all his wives alike, as is prescribed in
Let us hear another of Ayshah's accounts ("Sahih Muslim" IV,
pages 1 299-1 301):
"The wives of Allah's Apostle sent Fatima, the daughter of Allah's
Messenger, to Allah's Apostle. She sought permission to get in as he
had been lying with me in my mantle (robe). He gave her permission
and she said: 'Allah's Messenger, verily your wives have sent me to
you in order to ask you to observe equity in case of the
daughter of Abu Quh‚fa' (It happened to be "her turn" G.N.).
Ayshah said: 'Keep quiet.' Thereupon Allah's Messenger said to
Fatima: 'O daughter, don't you love whom I love?' She said: 'Yes!'
Thereupon he said: 'I love this one'. Fatima then stood up when she
heard this from Allah's Messenger, and went to the wives of Allah's
Apostle and informed them of what she had said to him and what
Allah's Messenger had said to her. Thereupon
they said to her: 'We think that you have been of no avail to us.
You may again go to Allah's Messenger and tell him that his wives
seek equity in case of the daughter of Abu Quh‚fa.' Fatima
said: 'By Allah, I will never talk to him about this matter.' Ayshah
(further) reported: The wives of Allah's Apostle then sent Zainab,
the wife of Allah's Apostle, and she was one who was somewhat equal
in rank with me in the eyes of Allah's Messenger, and I have never
seen a woman more advanced in religious piety than Zainab...., more
close to Allah, than her. She, however, lost her temper very soon,
but was soon calm. Allah's Messenger permitted her to enter as she
(Ayshah) was alone with Allah's Messenger in her mantle, in the very
same state when Fatima entered. She said, 'Allah's Messenger, your
wives have sent me to you, seeking equity in the case of the
daughter of Abu Quh‚fa.' She then came to me and showed
harshness to me and I was seeing the eyes of Allah's Messenger
whether he would permit me. Zainab went on until I came to know
that Allah's Messenger would not disapprove if I retorted. Then
I exchanged hot words until I made her quiet. Thereupon Allah's
Messenger smiled and said: 'She is the daughter of Abu Bakr' "
We have not quoted the above to slander Mohammed, but try to
balance the one-sided romantic picture that has persisted in Islam
down the centuries. This is despite the above negative information
being available - information that prevents us from being able to
accep that Mohammed's life is the product of divine revelation. We
appeal to those who present a totally one-sided impression of the
life of Mohammed to the followers of Islam, to be impartial.
We are aware that prophets are only people, after all. But we do not
expect them to secure an exclusive position for themselves, and seek
privileges that would be called sin in others. For instance, we
cannot accept the sentimental suggestions by many Muslims, that
Mohammed's matrimonial (and extra-matrimonial) affairs are the result
of unselfish sacrifice to unite Arab tribes and protect exploited
widows, although this should not be ruled out. That Mohammed lived
in monogamy until Khadiyah's death (when he was 50) and that he
married no virgin (apart from Ayshah) does not seem to prove
anything when one considers reports in the Hadis such as quoted
Mohammed and his enemies
As Christians our ethics are strongly influenced by and have their
origin in the teaching of Jesus Christ and His attitudes towards His
enemies. Admittedly a very high standard is set here, perhaps too
high for the normal individual to be realized in full on every
occasion. Consequently, Biblical Christianity rejects force of any
description, at least in attaining spiritual goals. We reject as
totally unjustifiable all "religious" wars such as Crusades and
those of the "Conquistadores". Christ's Kingdom "is not of this
world", otherwise His servants would have fought for it (John 18:36).
When Peter used force to defend Christ, he was reprimanded.
Practising Christians therefore have no sympathy with "holy wars".
That churches have repeatedly given their blessings to wars and
even bombs is a sad proof of the fact that mass-Christianity has
little concern for Biblical standards and consequently has no right
to call itself truly Christian.
Here we should like to have a closer look at the subject of one's
enemies on a more personal level:
"We were (sitting) in the mosque when the Messenger of Allah came
to us and said: (Let us) go to the Jews. We went out with him until
we came to them. The Messenger of Allah stood up and called out to
them (saying): 'O ye assembly of Jews, accept Islam (and) you will
be safe.' They said: Abu'l Qasim (=Mohammed) you have communicated
(Allah's message to us).' "This was twice repeated with the same
answer. Then Mohammed added: "You should know that the earth belongs
to Allah and His Apostle, and I wish that I should expel you from
this land." Mohammed expelled Banu Nadir. ("Sahih Muslim" II, pages
963-960 and "Mishkat" II, page 454). The Banu Quraiza (also Jews)
put up a resistance.
"Then he killed their men and distributed their women, children and
properties among the Muslims, except that some of them had joined
the Messenger of Allah, who granted them security. They embraced
Islam." ("Sahih Muslim" III, pages 963-964).
"The people of Quraiza surrendered accepting the decision of Saïd
ibn Mu'adh (a loyal Muslim) about them....Saïd said; 'You will
kill their fighters and capture their women and children.' (Hearing
this), the Prophet said: 'You have judged by the command of God.' "
(ibid. page 966).
We are told in practically all the explanations of this incident,
that the Quraiza had been acting treacherously towards the Muslims.
We could not find this claim confirmed in any Hadis, but even if we
had, the following event would not be justified:
"Then the Apostle of Allah went out to the market place of
Medinah....and caused to be dug in it trenches. Then he sent for them
and beheaded them in those trenches. They were brought forth unto him
as sent for....there were 600 - 700 of them. And he who estimates
their number highest says that they were between 800 and 900....And
that state of affairs did not come to an end until the Apostle of
Allah had finished with them....
"None of their women were slain, except one woman....she was with
me, talking with me....while the Apostle of Allah was killing her
men in the market place, when a crier cried out her name.....She
said, 'It is I, by God.' I said to her, 'Alas for thee, what is the
matter with thee?' She said, 'I shall be killed.'I said, 'And why?'
She said, 'For the talk which I talk.' Then she was taken off and
beheaded." Ayshah used to say, " By Allah, I do not forget my
surprise at her, the godliness of her person...." "Then verily the
Apostle of Allah divided the goods of the Banu Quraiza and their
wives and children among the Muslims....And the Apostle of God
chose for himself of their women Rih‚nah....and she was with
the Apostle of Allah until he died from her, and she was among his
concubines." (Siratu'l Rasool vss. 689-693).
She remained in that state, yet this was despite the clear ordinance
"when war ceases, the slave women and girls, when taken at home,
cannot be used (!) for sexual intercourse without regular marriage.
Look at the case of the Prophet. He did not keep any captive women
of war without marriage....This was repeated in the verse: '(You may
marry) of those whom your right hands have possessed (=prisoners)
from among your believing maidens. (Sura 4:25). There is mention of
fornication in the above verse if the slave girls are not taken
lawfully in marriage." ("Mishkat" II, page 460- commentary).
Considering the easy and superficial way marriage could be
concluded and dissolved, this means very little effort indeed.
Again we conclude that this action, however much justification is
given to it, is not appropriate for a man of God, all the more when
we compare it to the life and teaching of Jesus Christ.
"In the Battle of Badr, 70 prisoners fell to the hands of Muslims,
some of them were released without any ransom by the clemency of the
Prophet and some with ransom." ("Mishkat" II, page 439).
Maybe the compiler of this Hadis overlooked what Muslim had recorded.
There it is related ("Sahih Muslim" III, pages 961-962) that
Mohammed asked Abu Bakr for his opinion concerning the 70 captives.
Considering that they were of the same tribe, he suggested release
for ransom. Thereupon Ibn Khattab was also asked. His reply was:
"I am of the opinion that you should hand them over to us so that
we may cut off their heads."
Mohammed did not approve. Next the narrator Ibn Abbas found Mohammed
and Abu Bakr shedding tears. Asked for the reason, he said:
"I weep for what has happened to your companions for taking ransom
(from the prisoners). I was shown the torture to which they were
subjected (in hell? G.N.). Then Allah revealed the verse: 'It is not
befitting for a prophet that he should take prisoners until the
force of the disbelievers has been crushed....' to the end of the
verse: 'So eat ye the spoils of war, (it is) lawful and pure'.
(Sura 8:69). So Allah made booty lawful for them."
Yet another account of the same situation we read in the
"Dictionary of Islam" (page 380):
"On the morrow (the day after Badr), the prisoners were brought before
him (Mohammed). As he scrutinized each, his eye fell fiercely on
Nadir, son of Harith. `There was death in that glance,' whispered
Nadir trembling to a bystander. `Not so,' replied the other, `it is
but thine own imagination.' The unfortunate prisoner thought
otherwise and he sought Musab to intercede for him. Musab reminded
him that he had denied the faith and persecuted believers. `Ah!'
said Nadir, `had the Quraish been made thee a prisoner, they would
never have put thee to death!' `Even if it were so,' Musab scornfully
replied, `I am not as thou art; Islam hath rent all bounds asunder.'
Micdad the Captor, fearing lest the prisoner, and with him the
chance of a rich ransom, was about to slip from his hands, cried
out: `The prisoner is mine!' But at this moment the command to strike
off his head was interposed by Mohammed, who has been watching what
passed. ... Nadir was forthwith beheaded by Ali. Two days later Ocba
another prisoner, was ordered for execution. He ventured to expostulate
and demanded why he should be treated more rigorously than the other
captives. `Because of thy enmity to Allah and His Prophet,' replied
Mohammed. `And my little girl?' cried Ocba, in the bitterness of his
soul, `who will take care of her?' `Hellfire!' exclaimed the ...
conqueror and on the instant his victim was hewn to the ground.'"
Still more distasteful if not in numbers, then in sordidness, is
the record of the murder of Ka'b ibnu'l Ashraf, a Jew of the tribe
of Banu Nadir. He is said to have conspired against the life of
Mohammed and to have sung obscene songs defaming Muslim women.
"These crimes were enough to take his life", is the comment
on this account in the "Sahih Muslim",
"The Messenger of Allah said: 'Who will kill Ka'b ibnu'l Ashraf?
He has maligned Allah, the Exalted, and His Messenger!'" (This
was after the Muslims apparently were in control of the war
situation.) "Muhammad ibn Maslama said: 'Messenger of Allah,
do you wish that I should kill him?' He said: 'Yes" ... so
Muhammad ibn Maslama came to Ka'b and pretended to be a
dissident of Islam to gain his confidence. He asked for the
loan of foodstuffs. It was agreed upon to pledge the weapons
in exchange. Muhammad ibn Maslama promised that he would
return with three (four) friends. That night they went. When
his wife heard them, she exclaimed: "I hear a voice which
sounds like the voice of murder", but Ka'b quietened her
and went down to them. Muhammad (ibn Maslama) said to his
companions: "As he comes down, I will extend my hands towards
his head and when I hold him fast, you should do your job.'"
They conversed about the "very fine smell" of the scent of
his hair. Being allowed to smell his hair, he held his head
fast" and said to his companions: 'Do your job.' And they
killed him." ("Sahih Muslim" III, pages 990-991).
Ibn Hisham in the "Siratu'r Rasul" (vss. 550-553) has a more
elaborate version. When Muhammad ibn Maslama doubted his ability
to execute the "job", Mohammed said to him:
"'All that is incumbent upon you is that you should try.
'He said: 'O Apostle of God, we shall have to tell lies.'
He answered: 'Say what you like, for you are free in the
matter.'" So lies and deception were used. Mohammed
accompanied them for a while and blessed them in parting:
"Go in God's name; O God help them." After having seized
the locks of Ka'b he said: "'Smite the enemy of Allah'.
Accordingly they smote him. Their swords came in collision
with one another and effected nothing. Muhammad ibn Maslama
said: 'Then I recalled to mind my dagger ... I seized it.
The enemy of Allah cried out with such a cry, that around
us there remained not a stronghold on which a fire was not
kindled. Then I stuck it into his abdomen, then I pressed
upon it till it reached his genitals, and the enemy of
Allah fell.'" In the grappling with the swords one of the
companions was wounded. They carried him back to Mohammed
who was - "standing praying. We saluted him, and he came
out to us. We informed him of the killing of the enemy
of Allah. He spat upon our comrade's wound, and went back."
The laconic end of the story goes like this: "Our attack
upon God's enemy cast terror among the Jews, and there was
no Jew in Medina who did not fear for his life."
In the same verses, we are told that Ibn Ishaq said:
"the Apostle of Allah said, 'Kill any Jew that falls into
your power.'" (vs. 553).
This resulted in the killing of a Jewish merchant. (vss 714-715) We are
told that rivalry existed between the tribes of the Ansars, Aus and
Khazraj, each being resolved that the others should not excel it in
zeal for Islam and Mohammed.
"When the Aus had destroyed Ka'b ibnu'l Ashraf ... the
Khazraj said: 'By Allah, they shall never excel us in this!'
They remembered a man who was hostile to the apostle, Sallam
ibn Abu'l Huqaiq, at Khaibar. They asked permission of the
apostle of Allah to slay him, and he gave them leave. Abdullah
ibn Atik was placed in command of the group of five by Mohammed.
He also forbade them to kill a child or a woman. Again in
a treacherous way they pretended to seek to buy corn. Having
been admitted by his wife, they found him in bed. "We went
in to him, we locked the room upon ourselves and upon her
(thereby shutting her out), through fear lest, if there
should be a combat over him, she should intervene between
us and him. Therefore his wife cried out and screamed at us.
(How impolite! G.N.) We came unexpectantly upon him with our
swords: (he was in his bed) ... Accordingly, when we struck
him with our swords, Abdullah ibn Unais pressed upon him
with his sword in his belly till he pierced him through ...
and we went out."
There was an unexpected casualty. On fleeing down the staircase, one
of the murderers fell down and hurt himself. The dying victim's friends
tried to pursue the murderers, who were then hiding. The victim died
when his friends returned.
"We carried our wounded comrade and came to the Apostle of
Allah and informed him about the killing of the enemy of
Allah. And in his (Mohammed's) presence we differed among
ourselves about his killing, each of us laying claim to it.
Therefore the Apostle of Allah said: 'Bring your swords.'
We brought them to him. He looked at them and said: 'Truly
the sword of this Abdullah ibn Unais has killed him: On it
I see the traces of food!'"
Sallam ibn Abu'l Huqaiq was also known under the name of Abu Rafe,
and we find the above report confirmed in "Mishkat" IV, page 404:
"Bara'a reported: The holy Prophet sent a party to Abu Rafe'.
Abdullah ibn Atik entered his house at night while he was
asleep and killed him. Abdullah ibn Atik said afterwards,
'I fixed my sword over his belly till it went out by his
back.' He fell thereafter and broke his leg. It was bandaged
and then he went to Mohammed to report the murder, whereupon
he healed him."
In similar manner Abu Afak, a very old man, was slain as also was
Asma daughter of Marwan, a poetess who attacked Mohammed in her
verses. (Ibid. vs. 995)
"The Apostle of Allah said, 'Who will rid me of the
daughter of Marwan?' "
Umair ibn Udaj went to her house and killed her.
"Then in the morning he was with the Apostle of Allah and
said to him, 'O Apostle of Allah, verily I have killed her.'
Then (Mohammed) said, 'Thou hast helped Allah and His Apostle,
o Umair!' "
In a footnote (2,272) in "Sahih Muslim" III, page 991, we find a
commentary by the well-known Maulana Maududi regarding the murder
of Ka'b ibnu'l Ashraf:
"It is wrong to infer from this that taking of the lives
of the chiefs of the enemy secretly is a permanent clause
in the ethics of Islamic warfare. ... We find in the whole
history of Islam only two persons who were killed this way:
one Ka'b ibnu'l Ashraf and the other Abu Rafi'.... This
goes to prove, that killing of an enemy secretly, is not
the war policy of Islam, but an exceptional case, which
is permitted under exceptional circumstances, when the
enemy does not come to the forefront, but constantly
conspires against the Muslims secretly."
("al-Jihad fi'l-Islam", pages 259-260).
This, as many similar comments, shows the embarrassment of Islam about
certain actions in early Islamic history. This is a hopeful sign.
Disappointing, however, is the fact, that such despicable terrorism is
covered by a cloak of respectibility--simply because Mohammed is
involved. The sincere love for the Truth at any cost is absent. All
these reports undermine the possibility that Mohammed is the final and
universal Apostle of God.
The evidence given here speaks for itself. It may be objected that this
chapter is one-sided - that may be so - yet a camouflage or denial of
these facts, is just as one-sided. If we consider Hitler, for example,
and leave out his failures and negative trends we would have a person
who eliminated unemployment in a country that was riddled with it and
who built up a new economy, sense of nationhood and integrity for a
whole nation. He built roads and highways, initiated the Volkswagen,
which at that time cost two months' salary of the average employee and
had tremendous home ownership schemes for the workers, How wonderful!
But he left Germany in a chaos of ruins and despair. So, in fairness,
we have to present the other side of the picture.
QUESTION: As mentioned before, Christians have a code of ethics by
which the above behaviour and happenings are absolutely unacceptable.
Can an honest Muslim with a sense of justice and righteousness see any
quality reflecting divine inspiration in such actions? Comparing the
reports above with the reports of the life of Jesus, can anyone fail
to see the total difference? Can any Christian be blamed to prefer
being a Christian with a knowledge of the above facts?
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