Critics of Islam keep accusing Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) of killing his personal enemies. Nothing is further from the truth. The Prophet (s.a.w) was well known for his forgiveness, patience and kindness. (See Prophet Muhammad’s Forgiveness, below). He once stated, ” Do not say, that if the people do good to us, we will do good to them; and if the people oppress us, we will oppress them; but determine that if people do you good, you will do good to them; and if they oppress you, you will not oppress them.”
The critics never fail to provide references of few pagans or Jews who were killed during the time of Prophet Muhammad as evidence that the Prophet was vengeful. Interestingly, most people who point out these isolated cases are the least familiar with Islamic history and the character of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). They are more interested in attacking the person of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) than in facts. The following is a list of those individuals who were allegedly killed by Prophet Muhammad (s.aw), and I have provided an explanation to suggest that if these people were killed, it’s not because that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) had something against them personally but because they were doing great harm to Muslims, endangering lives, or there were other reasons which had nothing to do with Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w):
Ka`b bin al-Ashraf
Ka’ab bin al-Ashraf not only was an enemy of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) but he also instigated people against the Prophet. He went to Mecca and encouraged Meccans to attack Muslim. When he returned to Medina, he statred writing dirty poems about Muslim women. Only at that point, his behavior became intolerable and Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) asked his followers whether any of them would help him get rid of this man. This is clear from Ibn Ishaq’s book Sira which states, “Then he composed amatory verses of an insulting nature about Muslim women. The apostle said_ ‘Who will rid me of Ibnu’l-Ashraf?’ So, first he committed treason (which is punishable by death even according to the US Constitution) by instigating Meccans against the Muslims which would have led to killing of Muslims and he then tried to destroy the reputation of Muslim women. In Western societies, defamation can be sued but it is not considered serious. In traditional Eastern societies, loss of reputation can be catastrophic, especially for women who can suffer social and economic ostracization.
The web site www.jewishencyclopedia.com states that Quranic verses 7:174,175 were revealed about Ka’b bin al-Ashraf. This is not true. Several names have been mentioned such as Bal’am b. Ba’ura, Umayyah b. Abi al-Salt, Saifi b. al-Rahib, but not that of Ka’b b. al-Ashraf. However, some Muslim authors claim that verse 4:51 might have been about him. The web site almost presents him as a Jewish martyr. However, the evil character of Ka’b b. al-Ashraf can be judged from this hadith reported in Bukhari:
Volume 3, Book 45, Number 687:
Narrated Jabir bin ‘Abdullah:
Allah’s Apostle said, “Who would kill Ka’b bin Al-Ashraf as he has harmed Allah and His Apostle ?” Muhammad bin Maslama (got up and) said, “I will kill him.” So, Muhammad bin Maslama went to Ka’b and said, “I want a loan of one or two Wasqs of food grains.” Ka’b said, “Mortgage your women to me.” Muhammad bin Maslama said, “How can we mortgage our women, and you are the most handsome among the Arabs?” He said, “Then mortgage your sons to me.” Muhammad said, “How can we mortgage our sons, as the people will abuse them for being mortgaged for one or two Wasqs of food grains? It is shameful for us. But we will mortgage our arms to you.” So, Muhammad bin Maslama promised him that he would come to him next time. They (Muhammad bin Maslama and his companions came to him as promised and murdered him. Then they went to the Prophet and told him about it.
So, to loan money, Ka’b b. al-Ashraf wanted women or boys so that he could abuse them!
The web site www.answering.islam.org has raised numerous foolish objections such as that Ka’b bin Ashraf was killed primarily for opposing Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), that he should have been brought to trial instead of being killed in a covert operation, or that Muslims should have abided by the treaty that they had signed with the Jews. All these objections are based on rancor and regret that it were enemies of the Muslims who were killed and not Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) and Muslims, for that would have been better for Christianity. The trick that the authors of this web site uses, which is also common in American media, is to personalize the conflict by portraying Prophet Muhammad as an embodiment of all Muslims who lived in his times. Although from nearly all historical sources it is obvious that Ka’b b. Ashraf was trying to get Meccans to attack Muslims in Medina, which could have resulted in great loss of life, the web site authors portray it as a conspiracy against Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) which, according to them, he avenged by getting Ka’b b. al-Asharaf killed. As far as bringing Ka’b to trial, that was simply impossible as Ka’b lived in an area which was not under the control of Muslims. In trying to be shrewdly fair-minded, the web site even admits that by stating that, “At that time, the Islamic state did not rule over all Medina.”
As far as the treaty is concerned, it was with certain tribes of Medina and not with every Jew; in any case, Ka’b, who belonged to the Tai’ tribe, was only half Jew, having a pagan Arab father and a Jewish mother. The other accusation that is made by answering.islam web site is that Muslim used deception to lure Ka’b to his death. Ali (r.a) is quoted to have said that ” war is guile.” This is no different than “tactical deception,” as explained by Defence Secretary Rumsfeld or by his deputy Douglas Feith who was quoted as saying, “We’re also going to preserve our option to mislead the enemy about our operations. But we are not going to blow our credibility as an institution in our public pronouncements.” The web site answering.islam simply doesn’t realize that there is a difference between misleading an enemy in order to destroy him, in order to cut one’s own losses, and honesty or credibility in everyday life.
Sallam Ibn Abu’l-Huqayq (Abu Rafi)
Sallam Ibn Abu’l Huqaiq was instrumental in organizing the tribes against the Muslims which led to Battle of the Trench and also war with B. Qurayza. Because of his treachery, scores of people had been killed. Therefore, justice required that he be punished for his crimes. He was killed by the tribesmen of Khazraj with the permission of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) who instructed them not to harm any women and children. See Ibn Ishaq’s “Sira” for reference.
Al-Nadr bin al-Harith
http://www.Answering.iislam.org web site alleges that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) had Al-Nadr bin al-Harith killed because he had “arguments and eloquent stories countering his [Prophet Muhammad's] suras.” They also report that “two people are singled out by Muhammad to be killed al-Nadr bin al-Harith and `Uqba bin Abi Mu`ayt.” They list their source as Ibn Ishaq’s “Sira.” But are they telling you the truth? This is what Ibn Ishaq truly says: ” The apostle sat one day, so I have heard, with al-Walid b. al-Mughira in the mosque, and al-Nadr b. al-Harith came and sat with them in the assembly where some of Quraysh were. When the apostle spoke al-Nadr interrupted him, and the apostle spoke to him until he silenced him. Then he read to him and to others: ‘Verily ye and what ye serve other than God is the fuel of hell…’ Then the apostle rose and Abdullah b. al-Ziba’ra al-Sahmi came and sat down. Al-Walid said to him: ‘By God al-Nadr could not stand up to the grandson of Abdul-Mutalib just now and Muhammad alleged that we and our gods are fuel for hell.’ This passage clearly shows that Prophet Muhammad had no intellectual jealousy against al-Nadr. Secondly, Ibn Ishaq says that al-Nadr was captured in the Battle of Badr and while the prisoners were being taken to Madina, al-Nadr was killed by Ali (r.a.), and the reason is not given. Nowhere in the text does it say that al-Nadr was singled out by Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). When the other prisoners reached Madina, the Prophet (s.a.w) instructed his followers that the prisoners should be treated well. In fact, one of the prisoners had this to say: “I was with a number of Ansar when they brought me from Badr, and when they ate their morning and evening meals they gave me bread and ate the dates themselves in accordance with the orders that the apostle had given about us. If anyone had a morsel of bread he gave it to me. I felt ashamed and returned it to one of them but he returned it to me untouched.”
`Uqba bin Abi Mu`ayt
He spat on Prophet Muhammad’s face after he was challenged by his friend Ubbay b. Khalaf b. Wahb b. Hudhafa to do so. Did Prophet Muhammad killed him at that point, absolutely not. Later on, he too was a prisoner of war after the Battle of Badr and was killed along with Al-Nadr bin Harith. The reason for his killing was not only his long standing enmity towards Islam but also because he had fought against the Muslims.
`Abdullah bin Ubai bin Salul al-`Aufi
When Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) migrated to Medina, Abdullah bin Ubai bin Salul al-‘Aufi was the chief and he was about to be crowned as the king. However, his people converted to Islam and he had no choice left but to accept Islam albeit he did so reluctantly. Once, when Muslims defeated B. Qaynuqa for breaking their agreement, he came to Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) and threatened him physically to let the prisoners go free. And the prophet did let go the prisoners. Abdullah bin Ubai bin Salul al’-Aufi was also a bigot. He tried to turn people of Medina against the Prophet and the Muhajiroon who had migrated with him to Medina. He told his people, ” This what you have done to yourselves. You have let them occupy your country, and you have divided your property among them. Had you but kept your property from them they would have gone elsewhere.” When Umar (r.a.) heard about it he said, “Tell Abbad b. Bishr to go go and kill him.” But the Prophet stooped him and said, “But what if men should say Muhammad kills his own companions.” Later on Abdulla’s own son came and asked Prophet Muhammad permission to kill his own father. But Prophet Muhammad said, “Nay, but let us deal kindly with him and make much of his companionship while he is with us.” Later on, Abdullah’s own people turned against him. Abdullah also spread gossip against the wife of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w); however he was not among those who were punished for bearing false witness. Abdullah bin Ubai bin Salul died a natural death and he was not killed by the Prophet. At his funeral Umar (r.a.) asked the prophet (s.a.w), “Are you going to pray over God’s enemy Abdullah b. Ubbay, the man who said so and so and on such and such occasions.” The prophet smiled and said, ” Get behind me Umar. I have been given the choice and I have chosen. It was said to me, ‘Ask pardon for them or ask it not. If you ask pardon for them seventy times God will not pardon them.’ Did I know that if I added to the seventy he would be forgiven I would thereto.” Then he prayed for him.
Umaiya bin Khalaf Abi Safwan
The web site answering.islam admits that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) did not kill Umaiya bin Khalaf Abi Safwan and that he was killed in the Battle of Badr. They quote a Hadith in which Sa’d bin Mu’adh went on a pilgrimage to Mecca at a time when the city was still under the control of the pagans and got into a heated argument with Abu Jahl. While Umaiya was trying to scare Sa’d into quieting down, Sa’d is quoted as saying, “Be away from me, for I have heard Muhammad saying that he will kill you.” Now the hadith doesn’t say under what pretext Prophet Muhammad had said those words. Nor is there any other account that substantiates this story. Sa’d was known to have a violent temper which is also confirmed by Ibn Ishaq’s “Sira” who describes him as “a man of hasty temper…” it is possible that Sa’d may have said those words in the heat of the moment without meaning it or implying in general that Muslims would destroy their enemies. The Hadith simply makes a point that even though the enemies of Islam hated Prophet Muhammad they never doubted his truthfulness.
`Amr b. Jihash
The Prophet (s.a.w) went to Bani al-Nadir to ask for their help in paying the bloodwit because two men from B. Amir had been killed by Amr’ b. Umayya since B. Amir and Bani al-Nadir had a mutual alliance. When the prophet was sitting there, they conspired among themselves asking, ” Who will go to the top of the house and drop a rock on him and rid us of him?” And it was Amr b. Jihash who volunteered to do this. However, their scheme was discovered, but no action was taken against Amr b. Jihash. Later on Amr’s own cousin Yamin converted to Islam and the prophet asked him, ” Have you seen the way your cousin has treated me and what he proposed to do?” According to Ibn Ishaq ” Yamin gave a man money to kill ‘Amr b. Jihash and he did kill him, or so they allege.” Thus, Ibn Ishaq is doubting the story himself. But even if it is true, what is clear is that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) never asked Yamin to kill his cousin.
An anonymous man
The answering.islam web site quotes a Hadith in which a spy was caught and was killed by the Muslims who pursued him. The Christians in their web site allege that this was unjust because there was no trial. What they fail to note is that the spy was running away and probably killed by an arrow or while resisting arrest. They also question how Prophet Muhammad could tell whether he was a spy or not, which begs the question, why would he run away after being identified as a spy? Since no other information is available, it is anybody’s guess how he was killed. It goes without saying that in almost all countries where there is capital punishment, spying is punishable by death.
In the web site answering.islam, Christians give an account from Sunan Abu Dawud and an almost exact narrative from Ibn Ishaq’s Sira. The language is so similar that it seems that Abu Dawud copied this information from Ibn Ishaq. The context of this is provided in Sira, Ibn Hisham’s note No. 580. The identical story, with the exact same quotes, is told about K’ab b. Yahudha. So K’ab and Ibn Sunayna must have been one and the same. At that time, Aus and Khazraj were two important tribes of Medina. The Jews of Medina, particularly Bani Quraiza, kept trying to get Muslims killed either by siding with the pagans of Mecca or trying to sow seeds of discord, so Aus and Khazraj would keep fighting with each other. Those who had supported Aus against Khazraj were executed, and among these was Ibn Sunaina. These people were killed because they were enemies of Muslims and by their actions many Muslims would have been killed. This is no different that the US killing Talibans or al-Quaida supporters in Afghanistan. One also has to realize that times were different. The enemies of Muslims didn’t exactly play by the rules. And it is strange that non-Muslims would bring up events that took place more than 1400 years ago but would ignore the atrocities that are taking place against Muslims these days.
In the narrative it is alleged that Muhayyisa kills a Jew Ibn Sunayna, claiming that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) had told him to ‘Kill any Jew that falls into your power.’ Anybody who is familiar with Islamic history knows that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) could not have issued such a general statement because he himself did no such thing unless he was at war with the Jewish tribes. It is interesting that we find Muhayyisa in another Hadith accusing Jews of killing Abdullah bin Sahl, which they clearly denied. It seems that Muhayyisa had great animosity against the Jews, and he may have made up this story or somebody fabricated it in his name. Let us look at the other Hadith in question: Volume 9, Book 89, Number 302: Narrated Abu Laila bin ‘Abdullah bin Abdur-Rahman bin Sahl: Sahl bin Abi Hathma and some great men of his tribe said, ‘Abdullah bin ‘Sahl and Muhaiyisa went out to Khaibar as they were struck with poverty and difficult living conditions. Then Muhaiyisa was informed that Abdullah had been killed and thrown in a pit or a spring. Muhaiyisa went to the Jews and said, “By Allah, you have killed my companion.” The Jews said, “By Allah, we have not killed him.” Muhaiyisa then came back to his people and told them the story. He, his elder brother Huwaiyisa and ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Sahl came (to the Prophet) and he who had been at Khaibar, proceeded to speak, but the Prophet said to Muhaiyisa, “The eldest! The eldest!” meaning, “Let the eldest of you speak.” Huwaiyisa spoke first and then Muhaiyisa. Allah’s Apostle said, “The Jews should either pay the blood money of your (deceased) companion or be ready for war.” After that Allah’s Apostle wrote a letter to the Jews in that respect, and they wrote that they had not killed him. Then Allah’s Apostle said to Huwaiyisa, Muhaiyisa and ‘Abdur-Rahman, “Can you take an oath by which you will be entitled to take the blood money?” They said, “No.” He said (to them), “Shall we ask the Jews to take an oath before you?” They replied, “But the Jews are not Muslims.” So Allah’s Apostle gave them one-hundred she-camels as blood money from himself. Sahl added: When those she-camels were made to enter the house, one of them kicked me with its leg.” The last statement is very revealing for it hints that this blood money, which they received, was truly undeserved and the cause of Abdullah’s death might have been something else. To contradict Muhaiyisa’s statement, there are numerous Ahadith in which the Jews came to the Prophet seeking justice which they did receive, without any harm coming to them. Here are a few examples: Volume 9, Book 83, Number 52: Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: A Jew whose face had been slapped (by someone), came to the Prophet and said, “O Muhammad! A man from your Ansari companions slapped me. ” The Prophet said, “Call him”. They called him and the Prophet asked him, “Why did you slap his face?” He said, “O Allah’s Apostle! While I was passing by the Jews, I heard him saying, ‘By Him Who chose Moses above all the human beings.’ I said (protestingly), ‘Even above Muhammad?’ So I became furious and slapped him.” The Prophet said, “Do not give me preference to other prophets, for the people will become unconscious on the Day of Resurrection and I will be the first to gain conscious, and behold, I will Find Moses holding one of the pillars of the Throne (of Allah). Then I will not know whether he has become conscious before me or he has been exempted because of his unconsciousness at the mountain (during his worldly life) which he received.” Volume 3, Book 48, Number 834-835: Narrated Abdullah: Allah’s Apostle said, “If somebody takes a false oath in order to get the property of a Muslim (unjustly) by that oath, then Allah will be angry with him when he will meet Him.” Al-Ash’ath informed me, “By Allah! This was said regarding me. There was a dispute about a piece of land between me and a man from the Jews who denied my right. I took him to the Prophet. Allah’s Apostle asked me, ‘Do you have an evidence?’ I replied in the negative. He said to the Jew, ‘Take an oath.’ I said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! He will surely take an oath and take my property unjustly.” So, Allah revealed: “Verily! Those who purchase a little gain at the cost of Allah’s covenant and their oaths . . . ” (3.77) Ibn ‘Abbas wrote that the Prophet gave his verdict on the basis of the defendant’s oath.
Abd Allah Ibn Sa`d Ibn Abi Sarh
Abdullah b. Sa’d was not killed and web site answering.islam fails to point out that he later converted to Islam again, was given a governorship by Umar (r.a.) and also by Othman (r.a.). The web site alleges that the reason prophet Muhammad wanted to have him killed after the invasion of Mecca was that he was a scribe who had exposed Prophet Muhammad for dictating the Quran himself. See also this web site: http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Sources/Sarh/
Abu `Afak Abu Afak
He was trying to sow the seeds of discord and division between the Muslim immigrants who had arrived from Mecca and the people of Medina who had given refuge to the Prophet (s.a.w). His aim was two fold: 1) To divide the Muslims on the basis of regional differences 2) To encourage the people of Medina to throw out the Prophet (s.a.w) so that he and other Muslims would be left at the mercy of the idolaters who would then have them killed. Therefore, in order to preserve unity and to safeguard the lives of Muslim immigrants, it was necessary that he should be eliminated. But nowhere in the three references that are provided by answering.islam web site does it say that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) actually ordered the killing. He merely asked, ” Who will deal with this rascal for me?” And Salim b. Umayr went forth and killed Abu Afak, who was from his own tribe.
`Asma’ Bint Marwan
Asma Bint Marwan wrote a poem in which she called for the murder of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) and Umayr b. Adi al-Khatami, who was blind, went and killed her. The people who wrote for answering.islam web site did not realize that Umayr was from the same tribe as Asma. They also fail to take note of a very important statement in Ibn Ishaq’s Seerah that when she was killed, ” That was the first day that Islam became powerful among B. Khatma; before that those who were Muslims concealed the fact.” It seems that out of B. Khatma, only three people had converted to Islam; Umayr b. Adiy, who killed Asma, Abdullah b. Aus, and Khuzayma b. Thabit. Reading this, any person with a little intelligence can figure out what was going on within B. Khatma: non-Muslims could speak against Islam and even call for the murder of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) but those who had converted to Islam were suppressed and had to conceal their religion. And many who wanted to convert to Islam couldn’t because they were afraid. It also seems that Asma was a powerful lady who exerted great political influence on her people. As soon as she was killed, people of her tribe accepted Islam because, according to Ibn Ishaq, “they saw the power of Islam.” They realized that the barrier had been removed and they were free to choose Islam as their religion without being subjugated to the authority of those who ridiculed Islam.