"Do Islam's most authoritative documents say Muhammad was a terrorist?"
Submitted by Lactantius Jr (United Kingdom), Jan 14, 2008 at 16:05
To Abdul Muuib,
We use words to express ourselves and everything that we believe, and so, in order to aid understanding between us, and to establish whether the apology you demand I make is required, I start by defining my understanding of "terrorism," using Merriam Webster Online dictionary http://www.m-w.com/ terrorism "the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion" going on to ask, did Muhammad use terror to spread and enforce Islam, was he peaceful and peaceloving, what do the most authoritative Islamic documents say about him?
was Muhammad "the archetypal Islamic terrorist?" and seeking to answer those questions, I have consulted the only available sources which can provide an answer, the most authoritative Islamic documents themselves. The Qur'an, the Sahi Hadith of Bukhari http://www.sunnipath.com/Library/Hadith/H0002P0000.aspx and Sahi Muslim, http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/muslim/
the Sirat literature, especially the Sirat Rasulullah of Ibn Ishaq (Muhammad Ibn Ishaq Ibn Yasar Ibn Khiyar, born 704AD, died 767 AD), the earliest, most comprehensive and most important biography of Muhammad, which provides one of the most important sources of information about Muhammad's life, and the Tar'ikh ('history') of al-Tabari (Muhammad Ibni Jarir Abu Jafar Al-Tabari 838-923 AD), "who is today recognized as the father of Islamic History, and one of the greatest historians that the world has produced." (http://www.renaissance.com.pk/myletfor95.html ) Do these Islamic authorities (the Islamic "title-deeds"), clearly describe Muhammad as the archetypal Islamic terrorist?
I searched the online Qur'an browser at http://www.quranbrowser.com/ for "terror" and the search returned 6 relevant ayat, which are reproduced below. The Qur'an describes how Muhammad utilized the systematic use of violence and terror, to achieve his/Allah's objectives, as the following Qur'anic references demonstrate:- "Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority: their abode will be the Fire: And evil is the home of the wrong-doers! Surah 3:151 (Abdullah Yusuf Ali) "This discourse is particularly addressed to the Christians, and ‘invites' them to accept Islam." http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/maududi/mau3.html
"Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): "I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them." Surah 8:12 (Abdullah Yusuf Ali) "Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know. Whatever ye shall spend in the cause of Allah, shall be repaid unto you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly." Surah 8:60 (Abdullah Yusuf Ali) "The Muslims should always be prepared for war on every front, but should be ready to make peace if the other party is inclined towards it." http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/maududi/mau8.html
And those of the People of the Book who aided them - Allah did take them down from their strongholds and cast terror into their hearts. (So that) some ye slew, and some ye made prisoners. Surah 33:26 (Abdullah Yusuf Ali) "It is He Who got out the Unbelievers among the People of the Book from their homes at the first gathering (of the forces). Little did ye think that they would get out: And they thought that their fortresses would defend them from Allah! But the (Wrath of) Allah came to them from quarters from which they little expected (it), and cast terror into their hearts, so that they destroyed their dwellings by their own hands and the hands of the Believers, take warning, then, O ye with eyes (to see)!" Surah 59:2 (Abdullah Yusuf Ali) The theme of the Surah is an appraisal of the battle against the Bani an Nadir, a prominent Jewish tribe of Medina, and to take heed of the fate that befell them.
Bani an-Nadir was a major tribe, numerically as strong as the Muslims, wealthier than them and well equipped militarily, but whose well fortified forts could not stand siege for even a few days, and who expressed their readiness to accept banishment from their centuries old, well established settlement, even though not a single man from among them was slain.
Allah says that this happened not because of any power possessed by the Muslims, but because the Jews had tried to resist and fight Allah and His Messenger, and those who dare to resist the power of Allah, always meet with the same fate. http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/maududi/mau59.html
"Of a truth ye are stronger (than they) because of the terror in their hearts, (sent) by Allah. This is because they are men devoid of understanding." Surah 59:13 (Abdullah Yusuf Ali) The Jews of Bani an Nadir had tried to resist and fight Allah and His Messenger, and those who dare to resist the power of Allah, always meet with the same fate.
In those ayat, the pronouns he and we have a common antecedent: Allah, who will and did cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve and who commanded Muhammad to strike them over the necks, and smite over all their fingers and toes. The end result was that groups of disbelievers were killed or captivated and dispossessed. Are those ayat metaphorical & allegorical or are they clear commandments?
Are they limited to the 7th. century Hijaz, or are they generally applicable ? What does the Qur'an say? "And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere; but if they cease, verily Allah doth see all that they do." Surah 8:39 (Abdullah Yusuf Ali) "He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning); they are the foundation of the Book: others are allegorical.
But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord, and searching for its hidden meanings, but no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: "We believe in the Book; the whole of it is from our Lord:" and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding." Surah 3:7 (Abdullah Yusuf Ali) Clearly, in both cases, there is no chronological nor geographic limit.
The Qur'an has this to say of Muhammad, "Ye have indeed in the Apostle of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah." Surah 33:21 (Abdullah Yusuf Ali) And of himself, Muhammad spoke the following words during his last sermon on 7th.March 632AD in Mecca, "I am leaving you with the Book of Allah (the QUR'AN), and my SUNNAH (the life style and the behavioural mode of the Prophet), if you follow them you will never go astray." even saying of himself, "whoever obeys me will enter Paradise" Bukhari V9B92N384
Full understanding of the Qur'an cannot be achieved without referring to the Sunnah of Muhammad, with only Muhammad being qualified to interpret his recitations. The Hadith contain some relevant references to terror. Turning to the Sahi Hadith of Bukhari and Muslim, we read, Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "I have been sent with the shortest expressions bearing the widest meanings, and I have been made victorious with terror (cast in the hearts of the enemy), and while I was sleeping, the keys of the treasures of the world were brought to me and put in my hand."
Abu Huraira added: Allah's Apostle has left the world and now you, people, are bringing out those treasures (i.e. the Prophet did not benefit by them). Sahi Bukhari Volume 4, Book 52, Number 220: "Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: I have been given superiority over the other prophets in six respects: I have been given words which are concise but comprehensive in meaning; I have been helped by terror (in the hearts of enemies): spoils have been made lawful to me: the earth has been made for me clean and a place of worship; I have been sent to all mankind and the line of prophets is closed with me." Sahih Muslim Book 004, Number 1062: "Muhammad said ‘I have been commanded to fight until they testify there is no god but Allah and I am his messenger.'" Sahi Muslim C9B1N33 "Allah's Apostle said ‘Killing disbelievers is a small matter to us.'"
Tabari IX:69 "Muhammad said ‘Know that Paradise is under shade of swords.'" Sahi Bukhari V4B5N73 and in the context of the list of Muhammad's assets at the end of his life, al-Tabari records the nicknames of Muhammad weapons, detailing that he had nicknamed three swords that he took from the Jewish tribe Qaynuqa, after banishing them from Medina in April 624AD: "Pluck Out," "Very Sharp," and "Death." Two other swords from elsewhere are named: "Sharp" and "That is wont to sink" (presumably into human flesh).
After his Hijrah or Emigration from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD, he owned two swords called "Sharp" and "Having the vertebrae of the back." This last sword he collected as booty, after his victory at the Battle of Badr in March 624 AD. Finally, even Muhammad himself has a nickname. After Tabari lists the positive ones, he matter-of-factly provides one that is not so positive: "The obliterator." "The messenger of Allah named himself to us in various ways. He said, ‘I am Muhammad the one who is praised, Ahmad, the most praiseworthy, al-Aqib, the last in succession, and al-Mahi, the obliterator'".
Tabari IX:156 "It is related that Jabir ibn 'Abdullah said, The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, I have been given five things which no one before me was given: I have been helped to victory by terror flooding (my enemies') hearts up to a month's journey away; for me, the whole earth has been made a mosque and made pure (for purification by tayammum) - wherever a man of my community finds himself when the time of prayer comes, he can pray; taking booty has been made lawful for me when it was not lawful for anyone before me; I have been given the right of intercession; and whereas every other Prophet was sent only to his people, I have been sent to all mankind." Bukhari chapter 7 ‘Book of Tayammum' #328 Clearly, Muhammad was boasting about his practice of terrorism: "I have been made victorious with terror", "I have been helped by terror", "I have been helped to victory by terror flooding (my enemies') hearts up to a month's journey away". Clearly, there was no geographic limit on his scope: "I have been sent to all mankind".
This leaves the question of duration: How long will Islamic Jihad and its attendant terrorism last? Narrated Anas ibn Malik: The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: Three things are the roots of faith: to refrain from (killing) a person who utters, "There is no god but Allah" and not to declare him unbeliever whatever sin he commits, and not to excommunicate him from Islam for his any action; and jihad will be performed continuously since the day Allah sent me as a prophet until the day the last member of my community will fight with theDajjal (Antichrist) . The tyranny of any tyrant and the justice of any just (ruler) will not invalidate it.
One must have faith in Divine decree. Abu Dawud Book 14, Number 2526 http://www.sunnipath.com/Library/Hadith/H0002P0000.aspx Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. "O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him." Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 52, Number 177: Jihad runs from AD 610 to Judgement Day, and killing the last Jew is a prerequisite for Judgement Day! Allah commanded Muslims to fight disbelievers until only Allah is worshiped and there is no more resistance or they are subdued, submit and pay extortion. Conquered Jewish & Christian settlements were used to exemplify the use of terrorism.
Muhammad boasted about the success of his terrorism. How are these principles applied? Ibn Al-Humam said 79, "As for the one who is not able to go out for fighting, he must go out to swell/increase the ranks for this will help terrorise the enemy. " Sheik Abdullah Azzam: "Join the Caravan" http://www.islamistwatch.org/texts/azzam/caravan/part3.html Offensive Jihad (where the enemy is attacked in his own territory). Where the Kuffar are not gathering to fight the Muslims.
The fighting becomes Fard Kifaya with the minimum requirement of appointing believers to guard borders, and the sending of an army at least once a year to terrorise the enemies of Allah. It is a duty of the Imam to assemble and send out an army unit into the land of war once or twice every year. Moreover, it is the responsibility of the Muslim population to assist him, and if he does not send an army he is in sin.- And the Ulama have mentioned that this type of jihad is for maintaining the payment of Jizya.
The scholars of the principles of religion have also said: " Jihad is Daw'ah with a force, and is obligatory to perform with all available capabilities, until there remains only Muslims or people who submit to Islam.
Sheikh Abdullah Azzam "Defence of Muslim Lands" http://www.islamistwatch.org/texts/azzam/defense/chap1.html ‘Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies of Allah and your enemies.' (Surat-al-Anfaal (8), ayah 60) http://www.islamistwatch.org/texts/banna/quran.html The young came to prepare themselves for Jihad [holy war ] , commanded by the majestic Allah's order in the holy Koran . [Koranic verse:]"Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power,including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of)the enemies of Allah and your enemies, and others besides whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know." http://www.islamistwatch.org/texts/alqaeda/users/manualpart1_1.pdf
Muslims are currently engaged in terrorism all around the world, believing it to be a tactic divinely sanctified for use in a Jihad commanded by Allah & exemplified by Muhammad, not because of social or economic conditions!! Islamic scripture is the root of Islamic terrorism. At the time of 9/11, the then US Attorney General John Ashworth showed he understood Islam much better than his President, by saying, "A fundamental difference between Christianity and Islam is that The God of the Bible sent His Son to die for us, whilst the Qur'anic Allah requires Muslims sons to die for him."
That's a massive difference Abdul, and Surahs 61:10-12, 4:74, and 9:111, guarantee Islamic shahids ("martyrs") paradise in an economic bargain. Indeed, these three references explicitly use words that connote buying and selling and signing a contract of sale, and the currency behind the deals is death by "martyrdom." A Muslim sells his life through "martyrdom" in Jihad in a bargain with Allah. In return, the Muslim gets the guaranteed reward of Islamic paradise.
For Allah's part, he uses the surrender to spread Islam around the world. Muhammad set the genetic code for Islam, he is Islam, and the Islam of Muhammad sure aint peaceful and peaceloving. Muhammad is foundational for Islam, and he indeed endorses using a sword, actually swinging one on his frequent military raids and wars. William Montgomery Watt (1909-2006), was Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, between 1964 and 1979, and one of the key historians in the West of Islam.
Watt detailed the expeditions, raids and wars in Muhammad's life from AD 622 to 632, adding up the number that Muhammad either sent out, or went out on: at seventy-four (Muhammad at Medina, pp. 2; 339-43). They range from negotiations (only a few, compared to the violent expeditions), to small assassination hit squads, to the conquest of Mecca with 10,000 jihadis, and to the confrontation of Byzantine Christians (who never showed up), with 30,000 jihadis to Tabuk.
Thus, aggressive military violence sits at the heart of early Islam—in Muhammad's life and in the Qur'an, it was foundational to Islam, it is deeply embedded in it, and copied by ‘good' Muslims today. Furthermore, Muhamad was certainly involved in violence of a very offensive nature. Take a look at the ‘Sira-t-ul rasul-Allah', particularly the oldest amongst this genre, the ‘Maghazi manuscripts', where we read that Muhammad is known to have conducted 29 battles and planned 39 others (see Sira Halabiyya, Ibn Kathir's Bidaya Wa Nihaya, and Ibn Hisham's Sira). For centuries the spread of Islam was backed by large Muslim armies.
The world could have evaluated Islam more positively, if it had spread only by peaceful means during Muhammad's life, and in the centuries after his death. But it didn't, in truth it was spread by the sword. So Islamic terrorists today are following Muhammad's sunnah, his Islam and the Qur'an. They are not misinterpreting, misapplying or perverting their sacred text, rather they are being perverted by it. Not all Muslims are Islamic terrorists, and I am truly grateful they are not, they are in fact, living very much better lives than Muhammad lived, but it is the case, that all Islamic terrorists are religiously motivated Muslims, following the sunnah of Muhammad and the teaching of the Qur'an, and the fact remains, however unpleasant that may be for you to acknowledge Abdul, that Muhammad was the archetypal Islamic terrorist.
No apology is needed for this portrait of Muhammad which is given by the most authoritative documents of Islam itself, and I conclude by repeating my request, asking you to show me where my understanding of Islam is wrong, when the most authoritative Islamic documents demonstrate violence to have been foundational to Islam, modeled by Muhammad its prophet.
With kind regards and best wishes Lactantius Jr
Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".
Reader comments (164) on this item
Comment on this item
Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum. Daniel J. Pipes