In the Name of Allah, the All-Beneficent, the All-Merciful.
May Allah bless Muhammad and his Family and damn their enemies.
- The mindset of a Terrorist Supporter – The effects of the Saqifa Dogma.
We sadly find that many Muslims today who function within the mainstream media and often are role-models for the youth, gloss over early Islamic history and make mole-hills out of mountains. I do not believe that they do this deliberately. I believe I can explain the psychological phenomenon as follows:
- The George Tamarin Experiment.
Many of you may be familiar with the George Tamarin experiment in 20th Century Israel where school children were presented with two scenarios: one in which they were told that the culprit was Biblical Joshua; and the other in which the Culprit was the medieval Chinese leader General Lin. General Lin and his soldiers took the towns of China and utterly obliterated all that was in therein, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, sheep and ass, with the edge of the sword (as does Joshua in the Biblical presentation of his story).
The Children when asked, naturally found the story of General Lin morally abhorrent, but when asked the same of Joshua somehow felt it was justified and righteous. The two stories are virtually clones of one another (albeit geography and era). 60 % of the Jewish students surveyed insisted Joshua was right and justified, whereas 75 % thought General Lin was wrong. For Tamarin contended, showed that chauvinism shapes moral judgment and that uncritical teaching of the Bible forms prejudices.
For more on this experiment: Click here
I contend likewise that many Muslims suffer from the same issue today. Many of these Muslim theologians and leaders are some of the most humanitarian and pious individuals I have ever met in my life, and yet, just because they find that they must concede to the consensus of fallible men who were the earliest scholars of their creed, they find the need to justify the actions they find documented in early Islamic history. Not only justify it but more importantly, find it to be the more pious action at times.
I propose here that my friends suffer from the same problem that was highlighted in the findings of the experiment, an unjustifiable cognitive dissonance.
- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in Early Islamic History
Without a doubt for most human beings, they can find a plethora of excellence in the paradigms which were set by the Prophet Muhammad in things like the Constitution of Medina, which recognized a state which contained numerous ethnicities and religions, granting each their rights. They can recognize advancement in the treatise of rights established by the Prophet Muhammad’s great-grandson, ‘Ali b. al-Husayn, they resonate highly with the document given by ‘Ali b. Abi Talib to his governor in Egypt, Malik b. al-Ashtar in which people are recognized as being of value regardless of whether or not they agreed in creedal beliefs. These are beautiful aspects of Islamic history, which we can all agree are objectively good.
Sadly, there is a slightly uglier side that is not only being ignored and whitewashed in these discussions of extremism but more importantly, it’s being praised in gatherings in which the context of extremism is being dropped.
This example will be relevant to the places in which people are being killed with axes for apparently insulting the Prophet Muhammad. It is narrated as thus:
A blind man had a freed concubine who used to insult the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and say bad things about him. He told her not to do that, but she did not stop, and he rebuked her but she did not heed him. One night, when she started to say bad things about the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and insult him, he took a short sword or dagger, put it on her belly and pressed it and killed her. A child fell between her legs and became covered by the blood. The following morning that was mentioned to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
He called the people together and said:
I ask by Allah, the man who has done this action and I order him by my right over him that he should stand up.
The blind man stood up and said
O Messenger of Allah, I am the one who did it; she used to insult you and say bad things about you. I forbade her, but she did not stop, and I rebuked her, but she did not give up her habit. I have two sons like pearls from her, and she was kind to me. Last night she began to insult you and say bad things about you. So I took a dagger, put it on her belly and pressed it till I killed her.
Thereupon the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
Bear witness, there is no blood-money due for her.
Classed as authentic by the chain, by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan Abi Dawood #4361
One notes here that even though the Prophet was not pleased with the action, even according to this narration, not much is done to this man who according to many Muslims belongs to the best of generations and hence a role model see for instance the following link
Rather, he is left, and there isn’t much condemnation, nor is there a long speech stating that this was not to continue. I, as a Muslim who believes in the Prophet Muhammad being mercy to all of creation, cannot accept such narrations, as a historiographer, I consider them to be fabrications of the corrupt rulers who justify their lack of consideration for the rights of non-Muslim citizens when oppressed.
Example two: Our Prophet (S) was not a torturer.
So did the Imams warn us of the tampering of the epics and the personality of the Prophet? Absolutely. We find a couple of interesting narrations in this regard from the Imams, the first from Imam al-Sadiq, who states:
Three people would regularly lie upon the Messenger of Allah: Abu Hurayra; Anas, son of Malik; and one of his wives.
Furthermore, we find that his father, al-Baqir, tells us what Anas would lie about or one of the areas he would lie in. In ‘Ilal al-Shara’ia by al-Saduq, Imam al-Baqir is reported to have said the following:
The first thing to give a justification for the rulers to use to torture was a lie which was fabricated by Anas, son of Malik, upon our grandfather the Messenger of Allah. What was the lie? Asked a companion. When giving an example of this, the Imam said: That the Messenger of Allah would put nails into people.
One may argue for the sake of unity that the chain of narrators is weak. Let us check if we can verify this narration’s authenticity. We find it in Sahih Bukhari, and you can find this account in any translation:
Narrated by Anas, son of Malik:
A group of eight men from the tribe of ‘Ukil came to the Prophet and then they found the climate of Medina unsuitable for them. So, they said: “O Allah’s Apostle! Provide us with some milk.” Allah’s Apostle said: “I recommend that you should join the herd of camels.” So they went and drank the urine and the milk of the camels (as a medicine) until they became healthy and fat. Then they killed the shepherd and drove away from the camels, and they became unbelievers after they were Muslims. When the Prophet was informed by a shouter for help, he sent some men in their pursuit, and before the sun rose high, they were brought, and he had their hands and feet cut off. Then he ordered for nails which were heated and passed over their eyes, and they were left in the Harra. They asked for water, and nobody provided them with water till they died. Abu Qilaba, a sub-narrator said: “They committed murder and theft and fought against Allah and His Apostle, and spread evil in the land.
Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 261
One interesting thing which is not included in the translation is some notes. They can be found in most good editions of Bukhari and are commented upon within Ibn Hajar’s Fath al-Bari. The narrator after Anas, namely Salaam, son of Miskeen, states after narrating the narration:
Al-Hajjaj b. Yusuf told Anas: ‘Tell me of the most severe punishment utilized by the Prophet.’ so Anas informed him of this event. When this reached Hasan al-Basri, he said that he wished that Anas had not stated this.
Found in Bukhari and Fath al-Bari
Example Three: The Sword of Allah uses heads as utensils and kills those who withdraw tax!
One need not travel far to know that most mainstream Muslims believe that an individual called Khalid, son of Al-Walid, is to be revered and held as the peak of Islamic chivalry. They nickname him ‘The Sword of Allah’ due to his military prowess, yet there, is another side of Khalid which many even know about and merely gloss it over as a partially justified exaggerated act.
Ibn Kathir narrates in his al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah:
…Khaled called upon Malik, son of Nuwayrah, and warned from what he did by following Sajah, and from not paying the tax, and he said to him: “Do you not know it should be fulfilled like prayers?” Malik said: “Your master (Abu Bakr) claims that.” Khaled said: ” So he is just our Master, not your master?” Khaled said: “O Tharrar, chop his head off.” Then his head got chopped off. He (Khalid) ordered that the head (of Malik) be placed with two stones and inserted into a cooking pot. He (Khalid) then ate from it that night to scare the Arabs and others from being apostates… Abu Qutadah spoke to Khaled over what he did. They argued about it. Qutadah then went to complain to Abu Bakr… Umar insisted on complaining to Abu Bakr to withdraw Khaled from the leadership, saying: “He shed innocent blood with his sword!” Abu Bakr sent after Khaled to come. Khaled came to Medina… When he entered the mosque, Umar came to him and snatched the arrows from the turban of Khaled and destroyed it and said to him: “Because of your hypocrisy, did you kill a Muslim man and forcefully fornicate with his wife, I swear by Allah I shall stone you!
Khaled remained quiet, not saying anything, thinking that Abu Bakr will have the same opinion as Umar. Khaled then entered on Abu Bakr and apologized to him, and Abu Bakr accepted his apology and overlooked what he had done. Khaled left and saw Umar sitting in the mosque. Khaled said to him: “Come here O Son of Umm Shamlah.” Umar didn’t reply to him because knowing that Abu Bakr became pleased with him. Abu Bakr thus left Khaled as the leader (of his army).
Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 3
So, whilst ‘Umar, son of al-Khattab, knew that Khalid must be punished for this, Abu Bakr, the ruler, due to being pleased with Khalid’s military achievements, left him as the leader of his army, a man whom we all hear the praises of being sung daily in the Muslim world.
It is as if such Muslims have not read the Qur’an which states:
For this reason did We prescribe to the children of Israel that whoever slays a soul, unless it be for manslaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as though he slew all men; and whoever keeps it alive, it is as though he kept alive all men; and certainly Our messengers came to them with clear arguments, but even after that many of them certainly act extravagantly in the land.
And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his punishment is hell; he shall abide in it, and Allah will send His wrath on him and curse him and prepare for him a painful chastisement.
It is truly a sad day when such freethinkers amongst my friends in ‘Sunni’ scholarship are unable to condemn such aspects of their texts, all due to the following attitude, as prominent Saudi scholar al-Uthaymin states in his commentary upon Ibn Taymiyyah’s Aqidat al-Wasitiyyah (meaning ‘The Creed of the Moderates’):
There is no doubt that some of them (the first generation of Muslims) stole, drank alcohol, launched a false charge against chaste women, performed adultery whilst being married and performed adultery whilst being single. But all these are forgivable on account of their virtues and good deeds, and some of them were punished so as to purify them.
Sharh al-‘Aqidah al-Wasitiyyah, p. 447, al-Uthaymin
The Office of Sheikh al-Habib