The 4 Freedoms Library

It takes a nation to protect the nation

There are 13 highlighted in bold red, killed for writing or reciting poetry.

A further 8 are highlighted in bold black, killed for 'causing offence' (and where've you heard that before?)

The use of assassination to achieve political/religious goals has been important throughout the history of Arabia and Islamic expansion, and the very word "assassin"[1] has Arabic roots (حشّاشين).

This list contains the results and reasons for the targeted killings and assassinations ordered or supported by Muhammad, as well as the primary sources which mention these incidents.

No. Name Date Muhammad's reason for ordering or supporting killing Result Notable Primary sources
1 'Asma' bint Marwan January 624[2] Kill 'Asma' bint Marwan for opposing Muhammad with poetry and for provoking others to attack him[3][4][2]

Asma' bint Marwan assassinated[2][5]

  • Ibn Hisham & Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah[6]
  • Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-tabaqat al-kabir, Volume 2[3]
2 Abu 'Afak February 624[7] Kill Abu Afak for opposing Muhammad through poetry[4][6][7][8]

Abu Afak assassinated[7][6][4]

  • Ibn Hisham & Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah[9]
  • Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-tabaqat al-kabir, Volume 2[10]
3 Al Nadr ibn al-Harith After Battle of Badr
March 624[11]
According to Mubarakpuri, Al Nadir was captured during the Battle of Badr. A Qur'an verse was revealed ordering the execution of Nadr bin Harith, he was one of two prisoners who were executed and not allowed to be ransomed by their clans because he mocked and harassed Muhammad and wrote poems and stories criticizing him[11][12]

Nadr bin Harith beheaded by Ali[11][12]

4 Uqba bin Abu Muayt After Battle of Badr
March 624[11]
Uqba bin Abu Muayt was captured in the Battle of Badr and was killed instead of being ransomed, because he threw dead animal entrails on Muhammad, and wrapped his garmet around Muhammad's neck while he was praying[11][12]

Uqba bin Abu Muayt beheaded by Asim ibn Thabbit or Ali[11][12]

  • Sunan Abu Dawud no. 2680 (with commentary from Awnul Mabud 3/12)[14]
  • Sahih Bukhari1:9:499
  • Ibn Hisham & Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah[15]
  • Tabari, Volume 9, The last years of the Prophet[16]
5 Ka'b ibn al-Ashraf September 624[17][18][19] According to Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad ordered his followers to kill Ka'b because he "had gone to Mecca after Badr and inveighed against Muhammad. He also composed verses in which he bewailed the victims of Quraysh who had been killed at Badr. Shortly afterwards he returned to Medina and composed amatory verses of an insulting nature about the Muslim women".[20][21]

Ka'b ibn al-Ashraf assassinated[21]

6 Abu Rafi' ibn Abi Al-Huqaiq December 624[22] Kill Abu Rafi' ibn Abi Al-Huqaiq for mocking Muhammad with his poetry and for helping the troops of the Confederates by providing them with money and supplies[23][22]

Abu Rafi assassinated[23][22]

7 Khalid ibn Sufyan 625[27] Kill Khalid bin Sufyan, because there were reports he considered an attack on Medina and that he was inciting the people on Nakhla or Uranah to fight Muslims[27][28]

Khalid ibn Sufyan assassinated[27][28]

  • Musnad Ahmad 3:496[29]
  • Abu Dawud, book 2 no.1244[30]
  • Ibn Hisham, Sirat Rasul Allah[27]
  • Tabari, Volume 9, The last years of the Prophet[31][32]
8 Abu 'Azzah 'Amr bin 'Abd Allah al-Jumahi March 625[33] Behead Abu 'Azzah 'Amr bin 'Abd Allah al-Jumahi because he was a prisoner of War captured during the Invasion of Hamra al-Asad, that Muhammad released once, but he took up arms against him again[34][35]

Abu 'Azzah beheaded by Ali[34][35]

  • Tabari, Volume 7, The foundation of the community[35]
9 Muawiyah bin Al Mugheerah March 625[33] Kill Muawiyah bin Al Mugheerah, because he was accused by Muhammad of being a spy. He went to Uthman (his cousin) for shelter, and Uthman arranged for his return to Mecca, but he stayed too long in Medina. After Muhammad heard he was still in Medina, he ordered his death[34][36]

Muawiyah bin Al Mugheerah captured and executed[34][37]

  • Ibn Hisham & Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah[37]
10 Al-Harith bin Suwayd al-Ansari March 625[33] Kill Al-Harith bin Suwayd because according to Islamic tradition, Allah revealed Qur'an 3:86, which indicated that those who reject Islam after accepting it should be put to death. Al-Harith bin Suwayd was a Muslim who fought in the Battle of Uhud and killed some Muslims, he then joined the Quraysh and left Islam. Al-Harith sent his brother to Muhammad for his forgiveness. Muhammad allowed his return but then decided to kill him.[37][38][39][40]

Al-Harith bin Suwayd beheaded by Uthman[37][38][39]

11 Abu Sufyan 627[41] Amr bin Umayyah al-Damri sent to assassinate Abu Sufyan (Quraysh leader)[42][42]

3 polytheists killed by Muslims[42]

  • Tabari, Volume 7, The foundation of the community[43]
12 Banu Qurayza tribe February–March 627[44]

Attack Banu Qurayza because according to Muslim tradition he had been ordered to do so by the angel Gabriel.[45][46][47][48][49][50] One of Muhammad's companions decided that "the men should be killed, the property divided, and the women and children taken as captives". Muhammad approved of the ruling, calling it similar to God's judgment,[48][49][51][52][53] after which all male members of the tribe who had reached puberty were beheaded[46][54]

Muslims: 2 killed[45]

  1. 600-900 beheaded (Tabari, Ibn Hisham)
  2. All Males and 1 woman beheaded
13 Abdullah ibn Ubayy December 627[41]
(during Invasion of Banu Mustaliq[61] )
Kill Abdullah ibn Ubayy, who was accused by Muhammad of slandering his family by spreading false rumors about Aisha (his wife).[62] His son offered to behead him[63][64]

Muhammad calls off assassination and says to Umar "if I had had him (Abdullah bin Ubai) killed, a large number of dignitaries would have furiously hastened to fight for him"[65] Later he reveals a Quran verse forbidding Muslims from attending the funeral of disbelievers and "hypocrites"[66][67]

14 Al-Yusayr ibn Rizam February 628[41] Kill Al-Yusayr ibn Rizam because Muhammad heard that his group was preparing to attack him[68][69]

30 killed by Muslims[68][69]

  • Tirmidhi no. 3923[70]
  • Ibn Hisham & Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah[71]
15 Eight men from 'Ukil February 628[41] Kill 8 men who came to him to convert to Islam, but then killed one Muslim and drove off with Muhammad's camels[72]

Muslims: 1 killed
Non-Muslims: 8 tortured to death[72][73]

16 Rifa’ah bin Qays 629[75][76] To kill Rifa’ah bin Qays, because Muhammad heard they were allegedly enticing the people of Qais to fight him[76]

1 beheaded,[77] 4 women captured by Muslims[78]

  • Ibn Hisham & Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah[77]
  • Tabari, Volume 8, History of Islam[78]
17 Abdullah bin Khatal During/after Conquest of Mecca
(Jan 630)[79][80][81]
Kill Abdullah bin Khatal for killing a slave and fleeing, as well and for reciting poems insulting Muhammad[79][80][81]

2 Muslims execute him, after finding him hiding under the curtains of the Ka'aba[79][80][81]

18 Fartana During/after Conquest of Mecca
(Jan 630)[79][84]
Kill Fartana (a slave girl of Abdullah ibn Khatal), because she used to recite poems insulting Muhammad[79][81]

Fartana is killed[79][81][84]

19 Quraybah During/after Conquest of Mecca
(Jan 630)[79]
Kill Quraybah (a slave girl of Abdullah ibn Khatal), because she used to recite poems insulting Muhammad[79]

Quraybah converts to Islam and is pardoned[79][83]

20 Huwayrith ibn Nafidh During/after Conquest of Mecca
(Jan 630)[79]
When Muhammad's daughters were fleeing Medina, he stabbed their camels, causing injuries. He was a poet who "disgraced and abused" Islam[79][81][86]

Huwayrith ibn Nafidh killed[81][86] by Ali[79]

  • Ibn Hisham & Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah[82]
21 Miqyas ibn Subabah During/after Conquest of Mecca
(Jan 630)[79]
Miqyas killed a Muslim who accidentally killed his brother, and escaped to Mecca and became an apostate by embracing polytheism[79][81][82][86]

Miqyas killed[79][81][86]

  • Ibn Hisham & Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah[82]
22 Sarah During/after Conquest of Mecca
(Jan 630)[79]
Kill Sarah, because Muhammad claimed that she used to molest him while he was in Mecca[79][82]

Conflicting reports:

  1. Ibn Ishaq reports that she embraced Islam but was killed later, during the time of Umar[82]
  2. Tabari reports she was killed[87]
  • Ibn Hisham & Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah[82]
  • Tabari, Volume 8, History of Islam[87]
23 Harith ibn Hisham During/after Conquest of Mecca
(Jan 630)[79]
Kill Harith ibn Hisham, reason unknown[79][82]

According to Ibn Sa'd, Zubayr ibn Abi Umayyah and Harith ibn Hisham both sought refuge in a Muslim relatives house, the relative pleaded with Muhammad for mercy, so he pardoned them on the condition they embrace Islam[79][88]

  • Ibn Hisham & Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah[82]
  • Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-tabaqat al-kabir, Volume 2[88]
24 Zubayr ibn Abi Umayyah During/after Conquest of Mecca
(Jan 630)[79]
Kill Zubayr ibn Abi Umayyah, reason unknown[79][82]

See above result[79][82]

  • Ibn Hisham & Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah[82]
25 Habbar Ibn al-Aswad bin Ka`b al-`Ansi During/after Conquest of Mecca
(Jan 630)[79]
Kill Habbar ibn al-Aswad because he was a "liar",[89][90] he claimed he was a Prophet[89]

Habbar ibn al-Aswad killed[89][90]

26 Ikrimah ibn Abu Jahl During/after Conquest of Mecca
(Jan 630)[79]
Kill Ikrimah ibn Abu Jahl, bcause he was hostile to Muhammad like his father Abu Jahl[79][82]

Conflicting reports

  1. Ibn Ishaq says, his wife "became a Muslim and asked for immunity for him and the apostle gave it"[82]
  2. Tabari says he was "eliminated"[92]
  • Ibn Hisham & Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah[82]
  • Tabari, Volume 8, History of Islam[92]
27 Wahshi ibn Harb During/after Conquest of Mecca
(Jan 630)[79]
Kill Wahshi ibn Harb, for killing Muhammad's uncle during the Battle of Uhud[79]

Wahshi ibn Harb pardoned by Muhammad after he asks for forgiveness and offers to convert to Islam[79][93]

  • Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-tabaqat al-kabir, Volume 2[93]
28 Ka'b ibn Zuhayr ibn Abi Sulama During/after Conquest of Mecca
(Jan 630)[79]
Assassinate Ka'b ibn Zuhayr ibn Abi Sulama for writing satirical poems about Muhammad[79][94][95][96]

Ibn Ishaq wrote that Muhammad said "Leave him alone, he has become a repentant Muslim after the disposal of his past.", so he was pardoned[95][96]

  • Ibn Hisham & Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah[96]
29 Al-Harith bin al-Talatil During/after Conquest of Mecca
(Jan 630)[79]
For mocking Muhammad through poetry[79]

Al-Harith bin al-Talatil is killed by Ali[79][97]

  • Ibn Hisham & Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah[97]
30 Abdullah ibn Zib'ari During/after Conquest of Mecca
(Jan 630)[79]
Kill Abdullah ibn Zib'ari, for writing insulting poems about Muhammad[79]

Abdullah ibn Zib'ari repents and converts to Islam, so Muhammad pardoned him[79]

  • Ibn Hisham & Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah
31 Hubayrah During/after Conquest of Mecca
(Jan 630)[79]
Kill Hubayrah, for mocking Muhammad through poetry[79]

Tabari Volume 39 states, Hubayrah "ran away when Mecca was conquered, and died in Najran as an infidel"[79]

  • Tabari, Volume 39, Biographies of the Prophet's companions and their successors[98]
32 Hind bint Utbah During/after Conquest of Mecca
(Jan 630)[79]
Kill Hind bint Utbah (wife of Abu Sufyan) for cutting out the heart of Muhammad's uncle Hamza after he died, during the Battle of Uhud[79]

Tabari said, Hind "swore allegiance and became a Muslim.",[99] she was pardoned by Muhammad[79]

33 Amr ibn Jihash (convert to Islam)[100] During the Invasion of Banu Nadir[100]
(Aug 625)[101]
According to Ibn Kathir and Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad said to Yamin bim Umayr, about Amr ibn Jash "Have you seen the way your cousin has treated me and what he proposed to do?"[102][100] Muhammad accused him of trying to assassinate him[103]

Amr ibn Jihash is assassinated after a Muslim offers a reward for his killing[100]

  • Ibn Hisham & Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah[102]
34 King or Prince of Dumatul Jandal October 630[104] Attack the chief of Duma for Jizyah and booty[105][106]

1 killed, 2 taken captive[107]

35 Umaiya bin Khalaf Abi Safwan Unknown Kill Umaiya bin Khalaf, Muhammad's reason is unknown.[109] But Bilal wanted to kill him for torturing him[110]

Umaiya bin Khalaf killed by Bilal[109][110]

36 Blind man's wife Unknown Muhammad supported this killing because the women insulted him[111][112]

Blind Muslim kills his wife/concubine[111][112]

37 Ibn Sunayna Unknown Muhammad reportedly ordered his followers to "kill any Jew that falls into your power", Muhayissa heard this and went out to kill Ibn Sunayna (a Jew)[113][114]

Ibn Sunayna killed by Muhayissa[113][114]

38 Abdullah ibn Sa‘ad Unknown Kill Abdullah ibn Sa‘ad, because he became and apostate (left Islam) and fled to Mecca. He also claimed that he was the one who wrote the Qur'an and started to mock Muhammad, which made him angry[116]

A misunderstanding leads to his pardoning. Abdullah ibn Sa‘ad was brought in front of Muhammad and offered his loyalty, Muhammad upheld his hand to indicate that his followers should kill him, but the Muslims thought he pardoned him.[116] He said "Was not there a wise man among you who would stand up to him when he saw that I had withheld my hand from accepting his allegiance, and kill him?"[117]

39 Ibn an-Nawwahah Unknown According to Ibn Kathir, Muhammad once said about Ibn an-Nawwahah "I would have cut off your head, if it was not that emissaries are not killed" because he claimed Musaylimah was a Prophet, so Abdullah ibn Masud killed Ibn an-Nawwahah when he was no longer an emissary[118][119]

Abdullah ibn Masud beheads Ibn an-Nawwahah[118][119]

40 Blind Jew Unknown Muhammad's followers kill a blind Jew for throwing dust at his face[121][122]

Blind Jew killed by Sa'd ibn Zayd[121][122]

  • Ibn Hisham & Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah[123]
  • Tabari, Volume 7, The foundation of the community[122]
41 Nameless spy Unknown Kill a man Muhammad suspected of being a spy[124][125]

Salama bin Al-Akwa chases and kills the suspected spy[124][125]

42 Man from Aslam tribe Unknown Kill a man from the Aslam tribe for Adultery[126][127]

Man from Aslam tribe stoned to death[126][127]

43 Kinana ibn al-Rabi Unknown Torture Kinana ibn al-Rabi to find location of allegedly hidden treasure[128][129]

Kinana ibn al-Rabi beheaded[128][129]

  • Ibn Hisham & Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah[130]

Tags: Killings, List, Muhammad, Ordered, Zarabia, Zcensorship

Views: 541

Replies to This Discussion

Reply by Philip Smeeton:

Muslims do not understand the concept of freedom. To them it is the exact opposite of what we understand. Freedom to a Muslim is total submission to the will of Allah.

For us freedom is the right to choose, to believe in a particular religion or not. Islam offers no such choice, those that do not accept Islam deserve to die.

The fundamental motivation for Islam and thus the duty of its followers is to destroy everything not Islamic. Only when everything and everyone on this planet can be called Muslim will it stop.

The future looks dismal and the only solution I can see is to confine Muslims to Muslim countries and to deny them access to ours.

Reply by Joe:

In the topsy-turvy, humpty-dumpty world of islam freedom = submission.  Not having to think, knowing that all your actions have been laid down for you as permissible or non-permissible = freedom. Women submitting to men = freedom for women.

Muhammad’s Dead Poets Society

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 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 headsnot 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 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 drugsas 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.


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


Page Monitor

Just fill in the box below on any 4F page to be notified when it changes.

Privacy & Unsubscribe respected

Muslim Terrorism Count

Thousands of Deadly Islamic Terror Attacks Since 9/11

Mission Overview

Most Western societies are based on Secular Democracy, which itself is based on the concept that the open marketplace of ideas leads to the optimum government. Whilst that model has been very successful, it has defects. The 4 Freedoms address 4 of the principal vulnerabilities, and gives corrections to them. 

At the moment, one of the main actors exploiting these defects, is Islam, so this site pays particular attention to that threat.

Islam, operating at the micro and macro levels, is unstoppable by individuals, hence: "It takes a nation to protect the nation". There is not enough time to fight all its attacks, nor to read them nor even to record them. So the members of 4F try to curate a representative subset of these events.

We need to capture this information before it is removed.  The site already contains sufficient information to cover most issues, but our members add further updates when possible.

We hope that free nations will wake up to stop the threat, and force the separation of (Islamic) Church and State. This will also allow moderate Muslims to escape from their totalitarian political system.

The 4 Freedoms

These 4 freedoms are designed to close 4 vulnerabilities in Secular Democracy, by making them SP or Self-Protecting (see Hobbes's first law of nature). But Democracy also requires - in addition to the standard divisions of Executive, Legislature & Judiciary - a fourth body, Protector of the Open Society (POS), to monitor all its vulnerabilities (see also Popper). 
1. SP Freedom of Speech
Any speech is allowed - except that advocating the end of these freedoms
2. SP Freedom of Election
Any party is allowed - except one advocating the end of these freedoms
3. SP Freedom from Voter Importation
Immigration is allowed - except where that changes the political demography (this is electoral fraud)
4. SP Freedom from Debt
The Central Bank is allowed to create debt - except where that debt burden can pass across a generation (25 years).

An additional Freedom from Religion is deducible if the law is applied equally to everyone:

  • Religious and cultural activities are exempt from legal oversight except where they intrude into the public sphere (Res Publica)"

© 2022   Created by Netcon.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service