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Rebuttal to "Muhammad’s Dead Poets Society"

By Umar






His article is located at:



We will skip the introduction, and the other parts of the article, that has nothing to do with those "poets".


He Wrote:


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.


My Response:


James Arlandson mentions the Battle of Badr, and how it was Nadr's unfortunate luck that he joined the army, since he got executed. However, out of the 72 captives, only 2 were executed, one of them being Nadr b. al-Harith. Here is the account:


" It would be in the fitness of things to say a few words about the magnanious treatment that was accorded to the prisoners of war by Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his companions. This noble attitude which they showed can be fully appreciated if we review it in the context of the circumstances which led to the war. The Prophet and his companions had endured for full fifteen years unspeakable insults and injuries at the hands of the Quraysh of Mecca so much so that they were obliged to bid goodbye to their native place and seek shelter into a far-off place. The Meccans who were thirsty for their blood did not allow them to lead a life of peace even in their new abodes. They fell upon them with all their forces in order to exterminate them root and branch. Fate, however, decided otherwise and they were defeated by a small army of the Muslims. Amidgst such feelings of bitterness the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) remained calm and self-possessed. No atrocity was perpetrated upon the prisoners. Out of the seventy-two captives only two were executed, viz., al-Nadir b. al-Harith and Uqbah b. Abi Mu'ayt who were notorious for their unrelenting hostility towards the Muslims. The rest of the captives were treated with utmost kindness and consideration. "Blessings on the men of Medina," said one of these in later days, "they gave us wheaten bread to eat when there was little of it, contenting themselves with dates." It is not surprising, therefore, that some of the captives, yielding to these influences, embraced Islam and were therefore immediately set free. The rest were kept for ransom. But this was long before Quraysh could humble themselves to visit Medina for the purpose. The spell of kindly treatment was thus prolonged and left a favourable impression on the minds of those even who did not at once go over to Islam.


  The ransom of each prisoner varied with his financial position, ranging from one thousand dirhams to four thousand. The poor who could not afford to pay were set f ree without any compensation. Those who could read and write were given the charge of small children. Each one of them had to teach ten of their wards and when they became proficient in reading and writing, their instructor was granted liberty. This condition of securing freedom throws a good deal of light on the value which Islam attaches to learning."


(Source: The Life of Muhammad PBUH by Abdul Hameed Siddiqui, p.185-186, Islamic Publications LTD.)


The two men, were executed because of their unrelenting hostility towards the Muslims. However, whats interesting, is that out of all the prisoners of war, only 2 were executed. Moreover, these prisoners were treated so kindly, that the Muslims gave them the better thing to eat, while they contented themselves with dates.


He Wrote:


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.



My Response:


Uqba bin Abu Muayt, was a person who once tried to strangle the Holy Prophet:


SAHIH BUKHARI, BOOK 60: Prophetic Commentary on the Qur'an (Tafseer of the Prophet (pbuh))


Volume 6, Book 60, Number 339:

Narrated Urwa bin Az-Zubair:

I asked 'Abdullah bin 'Amr bin Al-'As to inform me of the worst thing the pagans had done to Allah's Apostle. He said: "While Allah's Apostle was praying in the courtyard of the ka'ba, 'Uqba bin Abi Mu'ait came and seized Allah's Apostle by the shoulder and twisted his garment round his neck and throttled him severely. Abu Bakr came and seized 'Uqba's shoulder and threw him away from Allah's Apostle and said, "Would you kill a man because he says: 'My Lord is Allah,' and has come to you with clear Signs from your Lord?" (40.28)

The above hadith, outrules Uqba as being a good person, but shows him as an extremely intolerant person of the Holy Prophet (S), that he even attempted to kill him. Now, I looked all over the collection of Hadiths, to find a narration that says the Holy Prophet (S) told Uqba that hell will look after his children, and I couldn't find a single narration that says that.


Also, if this story is to be found in the works of Ibn Ishaq, then it must be noted that the books on Rijal, have explicitly stated that Ibn Ishaq used to borrow from the Jews stories concerning the battles of the Holy Prophet (S). (See Sirat Un Nabi Vol. II p. 173 by Allama Shibli Nu'Mani)


He Wrote:


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.


My Response:


The response by Brother Hesham Azmy:


The Killing of Asma': True Story or Forgery?

Basically the charge is that the Prophet(P) had ordered the killing of Asma' when she insulted him with her poetry. As it is usually the case where the history of Islam and the character of the Prophet(P) is concerned, it is left to the Muslims to throw some light on authenticity of the story in which this incident is reported by the sources and educate the missionaries in matters which they have no clue about.

The story of the killing of Asma' bint Marwan is mentioned by Ibn Sa'd in Kitab At-Tabaqat Al-Kabir[3] and by the author of Kinz-ul-'Ummal under number 44131 who attributes it to Ibn Sa'd, Ibn 'Adiyy and Ibn 'Asaker. What is interesting is that Ibn 'Adiyy mentions it in his book Al-Kamel on the authority of Ja'far Ibn Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn As-Sabah on authority of Muhammad Ibn Ibrahim Ash-Shami on authority of Muhammad Ibn Al-Hajjaj Al-Lakhmi on authority of Mujalid on authority of Ash-Shu'abi on authority of Ibn 'Abbas, and added that

...this isnâd (chain of reporters) is not narrated on authority of Mujalid but by Muhammad Ibn Al-Hajjaj and they all (other reporters in the chain) accuse Muhammad Ibn Al-Hajjaj of forging it.[4]

It is also reported by Ibn al-Gawzi in Al-'Ilal[5] and is listed among other flawed reports.

So according to its isnâd, the report is forged - because one of its reporters is notorious for fabricating hadîth. Hence, such a story is rejected and is better off being put into the trash can.

(Taken from: )



He Wrote:


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.


My Response:


Another response by Brother Hesham Azmy:


The Killing of Abu 'Afak: Where is The Isnâd?

According to Ibn Sa'd and Ibn Ishâq, Abu 'Afak was a 120 years old Jewish man who had abused the Prophet(P) verbally, so the latter launched a raid under the command of Salîm Ibn 'Umaîr to kill him. We do know that Ibn Ishâq lived in the 2nd half of the 2nd century after Hijra, as well as Al-Waqîdî from whom Ibn Sa'd (died 230 A.H.) copied the story of Abu 'Afak.

As explained above, the chain of reporters of the story from eye-witnesses of the event till Ibn Ishâq or Al-Waqîdî must be examined and verified. So, our legitimate question is: where is the isnâd (i.e., chain of reporters)?

Unfortunately, references of the Sîrah do not provide such information. Actually, we are told that this story has no isnâd at all; neither Ibn Ishâq (or his disciple Ibn Hîsham) nor Al-Waqîdî (or his disciple Ibn Sa'd) had provided such a thing! In this case, the story is rated by hadîth scholars as "...of no basis", indicating that it has reached the lowest degree of criticism regarding its isnâd. This is in fact a proper scientific position because we cannot accept such a problematic story without evidence.

In brief, we have no commitment to accept such a baseless story - according to scientific criteria of hadîth criticism - which strangely had appeared in the 2nd half of the 2nd century after Hijra. We are therefore obliged to reject the story of the killing of Abu 'Afak by Salîm Ibn 'Umaîr at the Prophet’s command.
(Taken from: )



He Wrote:


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 heads not 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.


My Response:


In response to the above, Allama Shibli Nu'Mani says:


"Ka'b ibn Ashraf was a reputed Jew Poet. His father, who belonged to the tribe of Tai, came to Medina, settled as an ally of the Bani Nadir, and acquired such honour and position that he was married to the daughter of Abu Rafi 'Ibn Abi al-Huqauaiq the leading personality known as the prince merchant of Hijaz. Ka'b was born of this union, and as a result of the two-fold relationship, had friendly terms both with the Arabs and with the Jews. His poetic talent added to his influence over his people. In course of time, his wealth made him the leader of all the Jewish community in Arabia. He fixed montly allowanced for all Jewish scholars and religious men of repute. When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had settled at Medina, the Jew scholars,  who came to Ka'b received their allowances, were asked to give their views about Islam and the Prophet of Islam; and they were paid their salaries only when their opinions were found to be in agreement with those of Ka'b.


 He hated ISlam from the very depth of his heart. The loss of the Quraish dignitaries at the battle of Badr had given him a severe shock, and he had personlly gone to Mecca to offer condolences. There he composed elegies full of pathos and a spirit of revenge, and incited them before huge gatherings of the meccans, amid tears of his own and those of his audience. While dealing with these events Ibn Hisham has quoted these elegies. Most of the poems of this type are usually spurious; yet inasmuch as these elegies seem to be couched in the language of the day, a few of them may bear repitition;


" The millsontes of the battle ground the men at Badr. Weep we must over mishaps like Badr, where many a noble face that shone white and radiant and gave shelter to the needy, was for ever lost."


On his return to Medina, he began to incite people and compose satirical verses against the Prophet. In Arabia poetry exerted the same influence over public mind as the stirring speeches of great statesmen and the articles of leading newspapers do today. A single poet through his verse could ignite a whole tribe.


There is another report to the effect that he went to Mecca with forty others, me with Abu Sufyan, and incited him to avenge the dead at Badr. Abu Sufyan took them all to the Haram, and there, holding the curtain of the Ka'ba, they vowed vengeance for the Battle of Badr.


 Not satisfied with all that, he made plans to get the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) secretly assassinated. 'Allama Ya'qubi in his history says: "Ka'b Ibn Ashraf, the Jew, made an effort to get the Prophet treacherously murdered." This report is further corroborated by another quoted by Allama Hafiz Ibn Hajar, who ,while dealing with the murder of Ka'b ibn Ashraf states on the authority fo Ikrima that Ka'b invited the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to a feast and appointed his men to murder him when he came. Hafiz Ibn Hajar has delcared thsi report to be weak, yet in view of the existing circumstances the weak points in the sources do not warrant its rejection.


Fearing more trouble from these covert desings, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) spoke of it to his Companions, and with his approval, Muhammad Ibn Maslama came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaha be upon him) and asked for his permission in these words, " Let us haev permission to say something". " To say something" has been interpreted by writers on history as saying false things, which they believe, the Prophet permitted as all is far in war. But the report in Sahih Al Bukhari has the words: " We may be permitted to have a talk with him." Sahih Al Bukhari's words in no way suggest that permission to say something untrue was sought and given. On the other hand the dialogue reported to have taken place reveals low morals and inner mind of the Jews. Muhammad Ibn Maslama went to Ka'b and said, "We gave shelter to Muhammad and incurred the wrath of the whole of Arabia. Now alms and charities are demanded of us. So we come to you to pawn our things and get money from you." At this Ka'b said, " You will get fed up with Muhammad. All right, you should pawn your wives." But this beautiful face of yours, said Ibn Maslama, "does not let us trust the fidelity of our wives." Ka;b then replied, "then mortgage your children." "This will bring us into disgrace and disrepute throughout Arabia", said Ibn Maslama, " We shall pawn our arms and you konw how great is their need these days."


The report of this murder as mentioned in the Sahih al-Bukhari runs thus: " The people called Ka'b out of his house in a friendly manner and then pretending to smell his lock of hair caught hold of it, and killed him. This report does not mention the Prophet permitting anybody to do it. Among the Arabs of the days such methods of murder were not objectionable. Later on we shall discuss in a seperate chapter how the Prophet brought about a gradual reform in all these manners.


(Source: Sirat Un Nabi by Allama Shibli Nu'Mani, rendered into English by M. Tayyib Bakhsh Budayuni, Vol. II, p. 91-94, Kazi Publications Lahore Pakistan)


The footnote for the "blue" is as follows:


In Abu Dawud we find these words: "Ka'b Ibn Ashraf used to satirize the Prophet through his verse and excite the infidels of the Quraish against him. (Abu Dawud, Vol.II, Chapter" Banishment of the Jews") Ibn Sa'd has these words: "Ka'b Ibn Ashraf was a poet who composed satirical verses against the Prophet and excited the people against him." The Commentary by Ibn Jarir (Vol. V, p.79) says: " Ka'b ibn Ashraf went to the infidels of Mecca and excited them against the Prophet and asked them to wage a war against him." - Sulaiman




" Another person who was strongly against the Muslims was Ka'b ibn al-Ashraf. He was gutted when he heard that Muslims had beaten the army of the Makkans. He went around creating problems for the Muslims and would speak ill of them. He would spread many lies about the Muslims and invite the people to show hostility towards the Muslims.

When he went to the Makkans, he encouraged them to raise an army to fight the Muslims promising his full support. He even compromised his own beliefs saying that the religion of the idol worshipping Makkans was closer to theirs than Islam. Muslims and Jews believe in the one and same God whilst the Makkans believed in many gods and worshipped idols.

When Ka'b ibn al-Ashraf returned back to his fort near Madina, he would write poems in which he would say nasty things against the Muslims and the Prophet (pbuh). He would even insulted Muslim women in the love poems he wrote. He tried to attack Islam and the Muslims by every means open to him.

The prophet (pbuh) asked some of the Sahabah to rid them of this menace before he could spread his message of evil and hate further. A group of sahabah went to meet Ka'b in his heavily fortified fort and soon won his trust over. One night, they attempted to arrest Ka'b during which he was killed and one of the Sahabah, al-Harith ibn Aws was badly injured.

When the sahabah returned to the prophet (pbuh), they told him the whole story. The prophet (pbuh) did a dua for him and put some saliva on the al-Harith's wound which healed instantly. "

(Source: , bold and underlined emphasis ours)


"We now come to the genuine cases which are mentioned in collections of hadith. The first of these is the case of Ka'b ibn Ashraf. We propose to discuss it in detail, for this one case would show how the Holy Prophet has been misrepresented. Ka'b's father belonged to the tribe of Tayy, but coming over to Madinah he became an ally of the Jewish tribe of Bani Nadir and became so influential that be succeeded in marrying the daughter of a Jewish leader. Ka'b thus stood in a very near relationship to both Jews and Arabs. When the Holy Prophet came to Madinah, the Jews made an agreement with him, by the terms of which Jews and Muslims were to live as one people, both retaining their own faith, and in the case of an attack on Madinah or an unaggressive war with a third party they bound themselves to help each other. The Prophet was accepted as the final court of appeal in all disputes. When, however, a Makkan army advanced on Madinah in the 2nd year of Hijrah, the Muslims had to meet them alone, and notwithstanding that they were less than a third of the Makkan army and very inferior in efficiency and arms, they inflicted a crushing defeat on the invading army at Badr. The Muslim victory only added to the Jewish spite against Islam. Ka'b, who was bound by the Madinah treaty, now used his poetic gift freely to excite hatred of Islam and the Muslims. Not content with this, he proceeded to Makkah and openly joined hands with the enemies of Islam. He urged upon the Quraish the necessity of attacking Madinah with a strong force at an early date, and swore in the Ka'bah that he would fight against the Muslims when Madinah was invaded. Not only this; he returned from Makkah with a plan to put an end to the Prophet's life by underhand means. It is only in the true Christian missionary spirit that Muir, in his Life of Mahomet, has no place for these acts while he has sufficient room for the minutest details as to how Ka'b was put to death, and he gives vent to his inner feelings when he concludes his description of one of the alleged "assassinations" in the following words:

"The progress of Islam begins to stand out in unenviable contrast with that of early Christianity. Converts were gained to the faith of Jesus by witnessing the constancy with which its confessors suffered death, they were gained to Islam by the spectacle of the readiness with which its adherents inflicted death. In the one case conversion imperilled the believer's life; in the other, it was the only means of saving it."

And if Muir conceals the facts which show that from an ally Ka'b had turned into a combatant, The missionaries, notwithstanding their parading the original authorities, is guilty of the same offence. That there was a war between Muslims and non-Muslims at the time of the alleged "assassination," in the third year of the Hijrah, is an undeniable fact. The question is whether Ka'b was among the combatants or the non-combatants. If he actually joined hands with the enemies of Islam and placed himself among those who were fighting with the Muslims, and he was killed by the Muslims, can this be called a case of treachery, cruelty or butchery? That Ka'b had openly joined the combatants and become their ally is borne out by all historical accounts; nay, some of them go so far as to say that he had planned to murder the Prophet(P) treacherously. Here are a few authorities:

"He went to the Quraish weeping over their killed (at Badr) and inciting them to fight with the Prophet."1

(The Prophet said): "He (Ka'b) has openly assumed enmity to us and speaks evil of us and he has gone over to the polytheists (who were at war with Muslims) and has made them gather against us for fighting"2

"And according to Kalbi, he united in a league with the Quraish before the curtains of the Ka'bah, to fight against the Muslims."3

"And he prepared a feast, and conspired with some Jews that he would invite the Prophet and when he came they should fall on him all of a sudden."4

Commenting on Bukhari's report relating to the killing of Ka'b, the author of Fath al-Bari relates the reports which we have quoted above from Zurqani, viz., Ka'b's going to Makkah and inciting the Quraish entering into a league before the curtains of the Ka'bah to fight against the Muslims, the Holy Prophet's declaration that he had assumed open enmity, and his plan to kill the Prophet by inviting him to a feast. Bukhari himself speaks of the incidents relating to the killing of Ka'b under headings in which the word harb (fighting) occurs, thus showing that he was looked upon as a combatant. Abu Dawud speaks of the incident under the heading, "When the enemy is attacked and he is unprepared," showing that Ka'b was dealt with as an enemy at war with Muslims. And the comment on this is that "Ka'b used to incite people to murder the Muslims"; and discussing the legality of what the party sent out for the punishment of Ka'b did, the same commentator adds: "This is not allowed in the case of an enemy after security has been given to him or peace has been made with him … but it is allowed in the case of one who breaks the covenant and helps others in the murder of Muslims." And Ibn Sa'd tells us that when the Jews complained to the Holy Prophet that their leader was killed, "he reminded them of his deeds and how he urged and incited (the Quraish) to fight against them," and adds that "the Prophet then called upon them to make an agreement with him", and this agreement "was afterwards in the possession of 'Ali." All this evidence is too clear to show that Ka'b was put to death for having broken the agreement with the Prophet and joining his enemies who were at war with him and he was therefore treated as a combatant, while the other Jews who did not go to this length, though they were not less active in speaking evil of the Holy Prophet, still lived at peace with him and all that they were required to do was to sign an agreement that they would not join hands with those who were at war with the Muslims.

The only question that is worth considering is why Ka'b was put to death by certain Muslims attacking him suddenly and unawares. In the first place, it must be clearly understood that responsibility for the manner in which he was put to death cannot lie with the Prophet. That the Prophet considered Ka'b as deserving death is quite true, but there is no proof at all that he gave any directions as to the manner in which that sentence was to be carried out. On the other hand, according to one report, when the Prophet was asked by Muhammad ibn Maslamah whether he should kill him he assumed silence, while according to another he said: "If you are going to do it, be not in a hurry until you have consulted Sa'd ibn Mu'adh"5. At any rate he knew nothing about the details, and it is even doubtful whether the details as given are true, the Holy Prophet had nothing to do with them. And leaving aside the question of the Prophet's responsibility, there was no other method to which resort could be had under the circumstances. The hostile critic takes it for granted that the conditions under which the Muslims lived at Madinah were very like those under which he lived in the twentieth century. They had to deal with an enemy, and they dealt with him in the only way in which it was possible to proceed under circumstances then existing. Ka'b had chosen to enter into a league with an enemy at war with Muslims, and according to all human and Divine laws he could not but be treated as an enemy at war. And dealing with him as a combatant, the Holy Prophet sent a party against him; it is definitely called a sariyyah (lit. a portion of an army) in all biographical works, thus showing that the party was sent to fight with him; but it rested with the leader of the party to choose the best way in which he could deal a blow at the enemy. And Muhammad ibn Maslamah, the leader, chose a method which was recognised among the Arabs and which in his opinion was the best and most effective way under the circumstances. If the leader of the party had chosen to attack Ka'b openly, there would have been much more bloodshed, and probably the whole Jewish tribe of Bani Nadir would have suffered along with Ka'b. Ka'b had broken his agreement with the Prophet, he had revolted against him, he had entered into a league to fight against the Muslims till they were extirpated, and he had secretly planned to take away the Prophet's life. For every one of these offences he had forfeited his life. A party was sent to execute this decree and his life was taken in a manner which, if it had the fault of being secret, had also the merit of not involving innocent people along with the culprit, which would surely have been the result in the case of an open attack. But theProphet was not in any way responsible for the method of the execution."

(Taken from: )


He Wrote:


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.


My Response:


Despite the fact that this story is mentioned in Sunan Abu Dawood, it is weak and unreliable. Concerning isnad (i.e. chain of reporters), this Hadith was narrated by servant of Zaid Ibn Thabet on authority of daughter of Muhayyisah. Servant of Zaid is Muhammad Ibn Ibi Muhammad and he is unreliable, and daughter of Muhayyisah is unknown. Concerning matn (i.e. text), it says that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) ordered to kill all Jews which is illogical even if Christian missionaries want to believe it! Because the Jews had a treaty with Muslims and there was no evidence that Muslims indulged in killing any Jew other than this Hadith. Moreover, Ibn Hesham himelf who edited the work of Ibn Ishaq suggests that the incident of Huwayyisah and Muhayyisah occurred during slaughter of Bani-Qurayzah, not after murder of Ka’b(11). Needless to say, there is no such thing as “Kill any Jew that come under your power”.

(11) As-Sirat-un-Nabawiyyah, Volume 3, page 18

(Taken from: )


He Wrote:

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.

My Response:

When I looked in my books, for a similar account like the one given by James, I couldn't find it. This made me think about the authenticity of the above, so I doubted if the story was true or not. Tabari relied heavily on the works of Ibn Ishaq, however, Al-Dhahabi said that Ibn Ishaq used to borrow reports from Christians, and Jews:

" Al-Dhahabi also declares that Muhammad ibn Ishaq reported facts borrowed from the Jews and the Christians, whom unforutnately, he considered as reliable."

(Source: Sirat Un Nabi by Allama Shibli Nu'Mani rendered into English by M. Tayyib Bakhsh Budayuni Vol.I, p.22, Kazi Publications Lahore Pakistan)


"But let alone this logical criticism, we shall have to admit that the story even if judged on the basis of reports, is unacceptable. Sahih-Al-Bukhari mentions the execution of Ibn Khatal alone, and this is admitted on all hands that he was executed for a murder. The execution of Miqyas too was a retaliatory sentence. All such reports, as ascribe the execution of others merely to their having harrased the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in the past, have Ibn Ishaq as the last narrator at the top; and in the terminology of the traditionalists such reports are called Mursal and are not to be relied on."

(Source: Sirat-Un-Nabi, by Allama Shibli Nu'Mani, rendered into English by M. Tayyib Bakhsh Budayuni, Kazi Publications Lahore, Vol. II, p. 199-203, bold and underlined emphasis ours)


He Wrote:


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.


My Response:


This has been already refuted before in my rebuttal to the article "Meccan 10". Here is the refutation:

" Chroniclers name ten persons, who, notwithstanding the general amnesty granted to the Meccans, were declared to be punishable with death whenever found. Some of them like 'Abdullah Ibn Khatal and Miqyas Ibn Subaba, stood charged with murder and were executed to pay for the blood they had shed. But others had only been guilty of torturing and tormenting the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), while at Mecca or composing slanderous verses against him. One was a woman who had sung satirical songs against the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and was put to death.

But this statement, when subjected to higher criticism as developed by the traditionists cannot stand scrutiny. Barring a few- not more then half a dozen- which of the Meccans had refrained from active participation in the persecution of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Yet they were all given their freedom. The victims alleged to have been put to death were answeable for crimes much less serious. Let us remember 'Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) saying that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) never sought a personal revenge, a report that appears in all Six Books of Authentic Ahadith. A woman had put poison in his food at Khaibar, but when asked whether she was to be slain, the Prophet's answer was a clear "No". If a Jewess, guilty of attempting murder by poison could go unharmed, how, on earth could the offenders of Mecca fail to share his mercy, in spite of the fact that they were not charged with anything as black as that.

But let alone this logical criticism, we shall have to admit that the story even if judged on the basis of reports, is unacceptable. Sahih-Al-Bukhari mentions the execution of Ibn Khatal alone, and this is admitted on all hands that he was executed for a murder. The execution of Miqyas too was a retaliatory sentence. All such reports, as ascribe the execution of others merely to their having harrased the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in the past, have Ibn Ishaq as the last narrator at the top; and in the terminology of the traditionalists such reports are called Mursal and are not to be relied on.

The most reliable report that can be referred to in this connection is the one mentioned in Abu Dawud, which says that on the day when Mecca fell, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) declared that four persons could not be promised immunity. But Abu Dawud, adds that for this report he could not find authoritative sources of desired merit. Then he quotes the report about Ibn Khatal. The report quoted earlier has Ahmad Ibn Mufaddal as one of the narrators, whom Azdi calls a narrator of Munkar traditions. Another link in the series has Isbat Ibn Nadr whom Nasa'i does not believe to be quite weighty. Certainly, flaws are not enough to make up good case for rejecting a narration. Yet in view of the importance of the issue in hand even this much of deficiency is enough to create doubts.

It is certain that some Meccan notables who formed the vanguard of the opposition did flee away from Meccan, when the approach of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) came to be known. That they left because of a death sentence is a mere product of Ibn Ishaq's imagination. Ibn Ishaq names 'Ikrima, the son of Abu Jahl, as well as one of the proclaimed culprits. In Muwatta' by Imam Malik, which in accuracy and reliability has, according to Imam Shafi'i, no equal under the sun except the Qur'an, this incident has been narrated as below : Umm Hakin, daugher of Harith Ibn Hisham, was the wife of 'Ikrima, son of Abu Jahl. She embraced Islam on the day Mecca fell. But her husband 'Ikrima Ibn Abu Jahl fled to Yaman, to keep away from Islam. Umm Hakim went to Yaman, and invited him to Islam. He believed and came to Mecca. As the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saw him, he rose to his feet in joy and walked up to him in a hurry, even without the upper garment ( a sheet of cloth) on his body. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) then initiated him into Islam.

It must also be noted that those who were granted protection were not forced to embrace Islam. Historians and biographers have all stated that the Muslim force at the battle of Hunain, which took place a little after the Fall of Mecca, had in its ranks a good number of non-believers from Mecca who still stuck to their old beliefs. And it was their presence that brought on defeat, for they could not stand the first assault, and this disorder forced the Muslims to follow suit. "

(Source: Sirat-Un-Nabi, by Allama Shibli Nu'Mani, rendered into English by M. Tayyib Bakhsh Budayuni, Kazi Publications Lahore, Vol. II, p. 199-203, bold and underlined emphasis ours)


He Wrote:


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.


My Response:


Now, read what the missionary first says:

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.

Now, read his biased conclusion:

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.

I assume, that James concluded this, because of his reading of the other accounts, where the Holy Prophet (S) allegedly killed the other people for saying bad things to him. However, we have refuted that theory, therefore James' conclusion is unreliable.


And Allah SWT knows best!





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