MURDERING ISLAM'S CRITICS: The Female Slaves and Theo Van Gogh
The recent murder of Theo Van Gogh has shocked and awakened the Dutch, and to a lesser extent the Germans, because one of their own was done in by Muslims. Some Muslims in Holland had promised that they were going to kill Theo and they kept their word (cf. this article).
Interestingly, I don’t think the Spanish bombings that killed some 200 people had the same effect on the people of Holland and Germany. Couldn’t the good-hearted Dutch people and savvy Germans read the writing on the wall?
Most people in the West do not follow the actions of Muslims in Muslim lands. The sad reality is that this is not a new phenomenon. Muslims in the Mideast and Southeast Asia have been murdering those that criticize or "abuse" Islam & Muhammad for many years. Liberal Muslim men and women who have been critical of Islam have been hunted and murdered by devout Muslims world wide. A couple years ago real Islam touched America; now, real Islam is touching Europe gently. Muslims are going to continue to murder Europeans who criticize Islam. More of the Islamic hit parade will follow.
And of course, predictably on cue, Muslims in the West again bray that Islam is a religion of peace and that it does not allow the murder of those who criticize Islam. It’s becoming humorous now. How can they do it with a straight face?
I want to address the question, "Does Islam allow for the murder of its critics?" What do the Islamic source materials say?
THE ISLAMIC SOURCE MATERIALS
Muhammad lived through a variety of highs and lows during his 23 years of prophethood. For the first 13 years the Meccans oppressed him because he began by reviling their faiths and families while at the same time preaching Islam to them. During that period of his life he was weak and thus was subjected to many insults. Even slave girls sang songs of mockery. Muhammad wanted to fight with violence but he knew that if he did so he would have died quickly. Accordingly, there are various Hadith and Quranic passages that relate to this time and depict Allah encouraging Muhammad and the Muslims to bear patiently with the insults and oppression. At best, all Muhammad could do was to threaten the Meccans:
"Will you listen to me O Meccans? By him who holds my life in His hand I bring you slaughter." (The Life of Muhammad, by A. Guillaume, page 131)
After Muhammad ran for his life and fled to Yathrib (Medina) he became strong. An armed group of tough fighters gathered around him. They believed in him fully and they fought and died for him. And yes, they also murdered critics for him. Muhammad’s command was Allah’s command and they obeyed earnestly.
Muhammad established a physical Muslim community in Medina. Now that Muhammad had the power of life and death at his fingertips, his actions and his theology of Islam changed. Thus the real question is: "What did Muhammad do once he had the power?" It is no good pointing out that Muhammad was non-violent prior to his ascendancy in Medina. He had no power or potential to be violent there. But what did he do with the sword once he could weld it?
"The measure of a man is what he does with power."
Let’s take a look at Muhammad’s track record and examine several incidents to see if we can determine if Islam allows the murder of its harsh critics.
The first case we’ll examine concerns the killing of a female slave who mocked Muhammad.
From the Hadith of Abu Dawud, Book 38, Number 4348:
Narrated Abdullah Ibn Abbas:
A blind man had a slave-mother who used to abuse the Prophet and disparage him. He forbade her but she did not stop. He rebuked her but she did not give up her habit. One night she began to slander the Prophet and abuse him. So he took a dagger, placed it on her belly, pressed it, and killed her. A child who came between her legs was smeared with the blood that was there. When the morning came, the Prophet was informed about it.
He assembled the people and said: I adjure by Allah the man who has done this action and I adjure him by my right to him that he should stand up. Jumping over the necks of the people and trembling the man stood up.
He sat before the Prophet and said: Apostle of Allah! I am her master; she used to abuse you and disparage you. I forbade her, but she did not stop, and I rebuked her, but she did not abandon her habit. I have two sons like pearls from her, and she was my companion. Last night she began to abuse and disparage you. So I took a dagger, put it on her belly and pressed it till I killed her.
Thereupon the Prophet said: Oh be witness, no retaliation is payable for her blood.3799
We see that Muhammad allowed people to murder others just for insulting him. In this case a slave woman, who was used as a concubine by her Muslim master, paid for her criticism of Muhammad with her life.
This woman was not a physical threat to Muhammad. She was just a slave who had children and a husband to care for. She certainly was not a ringleader of an anti-Islamic sect. I doubt Muslims were going to leave Islam because of her criticism. Couldn’t she have been punished some other way? Yet stabbing the woman to death was quite acceptable to Muhammad.
Note 3799 says,
It is unanimously agreed that if a Muslim abuses or insults the Prophet (may peace be upon him) he should be killed. There is a difference of opinion about the killing of a non-Muslim. According to al-Shafi’i, he should be killed. Abu Hanifah is of opinion that he should not be killed. The sin of being a polytheist is far greater than it. Malik maintains that he should be killed except that he embraces Islam. (‘Awn al-Ma’bud, IV, 226).
The second case is also found in this section of Abu Dawud.
Ali said : A Jewess used to abuse the Prophet and disparage him. A man strangled her till she died. The Apostle of Allah declared that no recompense was payable for her blood.3800
Note 3800 states:
This shows that even if a Jew or any non-Muslim abuses the Prophet (may peace be upon him) he will be killed. This is held by al-Laith, al-Shafi'i, Ahmad, and Ishaq. Malik and al-Auza’i hold that abusing the Prophet (may peace be upon him) is an act of apostasy. A Muslim should be asked to repent. If he refuses to repent, he should be killed.
The third case involves three slave girls who mocked Muhammad while he lived in Mecca. Ibn Ishaq details this in his biography of Muhammad, "Sirat Rasulallah." This is now available as, "The Life of Muhammad" by Alfred Guillaume. These three slave girls were part of the ten people Muhammad ordered to be killed after he had conquered Mecca. From pages 550, 551. (Words in [ ] brackets are mine).
Another [to be killed] was Abdullah Khatal of B. Taym b. Ghalib. He had become a Muslim and the apostle sent him to collect the poor tax in company with one of the Ansar. He had with him a freed slave who served him. (He was a Muslim.) When they halted he ordered the latter to kill a goat for him and prepare some food, and went to sleep. When he woke up the man had done nothing, so he attacked and killed him and apostatized. He had two singing-girls Fartana and her friend who used to sing satirical songs about the apostle, so he ordered that they should be killed with him.
Also on page 551
… And Sara, freed slave of one of the B. ‘Abdul-Muttalib; and ‘Ikrima Abu Jahl. Sara had insulted him in Mecca …
The three slave girls, Sara, Fartana, and her friend, Qaribah (her name is not given in this account), had made fun of Muhammad years earlier while he lived in Mecca. He remembered their jesting and was very hurt and bitter towards them. Now he had the power and opportunity to pay them back. And so he did.
Would you agree with me that these slave girls were no threat to the mighty Muhammad?
There are other similar examples of people being killed because they insulted Muhammad. I don’t feel I need to go into more detail.
So we’ve seen cases of both Muslims and non-Muslims being murdered for criticizing Muhammad. Some Muslims argue that these murders can only be carried out in Muslim lands; others say any place is permissible. The point is that Islam is at war with all that is non-Islamic. Muslims will never lack excuses to commit crimes in Allah’s name against non-Muslims. Muslims who have studied their faith understand fully that they are in a war, either violent or non-violent, against non-Muslims. Today there is a growing minority of Muslims who are taking this war seriously and killing those "enemies of Islam". This especially includes people that speak out critically about the person of Muhammad, but holds true also for public critique of other important aspects of Islam.
The message from Islam is this: "Accept Islam and you will be safe". They are not talking about being safe from the judgment of hell; they are talking about being safe from physical attacks by Muslims. If you choose to reject or criticize Islam (like Theo, and many, many, unnamed liberal, or ex-Muslims), then you will be in conflict with Muhammad. If you stand up to Muhammad, you are fighting him and the Muslim community will be at war with you. The Muslims are confident and they see Europeans as weak. After all, the Europeans couldn’t even solve Bosnia without American help. They are too weak to come to grips with Islam. They will continue to pressure the Europeans to bend the knee and bow the head to Muhammad’s rule.