EW: I've spent quite a bit of time reading the hadith collections of Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, as well as the biography of Mohammed by Ibn Ishaq. Through these books, I've learned a lot about Mohammed's character. There were a few incidents these reliable biographers conveyed that caught my attention. I'd like us to now take a look at them:
The first one deals with Mohammed's treatment of a man named Uqba. According to the hadith, Uqba was strongly opposed to Mohammed. In fact, we're told that Uqba even tried to kill Mohammed. So we know that Uqba was someone Mohammed needed to deal with in order to further his religion. Since Islam is the religion of peace, we might assume that Mohammed "showed him the light" by doing good deeds, extending forgiveness to him, etc. But Mohammed didn't do that. No, instead of bringing him around through peaceful means, Mohammed had him killed. Let's take a look at what these reliable sources had to say:
Bukhari, vol. 4, no. 2934; Muslim, vol. 3, nos. 4422, 4424; Ibn Ishaq, p. 308 / 458
"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.
So we see that because Mohammed perceived Uqba as a threat, he had him executed. Again, I'd hope for a more tolerant, forgiving response, but it's not for me to judge.
But what really concerns me is Mohammed's response to this dying man's plea. Uqba knew death was imminent. As a last gesture, a desperate attempt to seek forgiveness, or at the very least, ensure protection for his innocent children, he asks Mohammed, "Who will take care of my children?"
Most would hope "the greatest man to ever live" would say something like, "Though I have to kill you for security reasons, I promise to take care of your children", or perhaps, "Only you have wronged me, Uqba. Therefore, I will leave your children in peace".
But Mohammed didn't do that. Instead, in response to a loving father's desperate plea, Mohammed "coldly" replied "Hell" will take care of your children.
This seems odd to me. Mohammed is the greatest man to ever live. Such a callous, unfeeling response hardly seems appropriate. Why do you personally believe Mohammed behaved so terribly?
Dr. Naik: (Stumbling, muttering, etc)
EW: Well, there's no need to answer right now. I'd like us to take a look at a couple more examples.
According to Ibn Ishaq, Abu Afak was a man of over 100 years of age. Obviously, such an old man hardly could have posed much of a threat to Mohammed. But let's take a look at the way Mohammed treated him:
Ibn Ishaq p. 675
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!’"
So for some reason, Mohammed felt the need to "have this rascal dealt with" for the terrible crime of writing poetry Mohammed didn't like.
That seems a little harsh to me. He's a 100 year old man writing poetry. What threat did he pose to Mohammed? None, of course. Yet Mohammed incited one of his followers to kill him.
That doesn't really square with my view of "the standard for all humanity".
Let's take a look at one more example:
Ibn Ishaq, pp. 675-76
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.
So we can see that Asma was a female poet. According to Ibn Ishaq, she wrote poetry that was critical of Mohammed, and we might even say that she was attempting to incite violent action against Mohammed and his followers.
However, his response seems a little strong. Certainly, since Mohammed was God's last, true Prophet, he knew that Islam was God's plan. Since this was the case, he must have known that no man (or woman) could have possibly stopped it. Therefore, I fail to see why he felt the need to have these people eliminated. Again, this is God's plan. If God is for it, no man could possibly stop it.
So we can confidently say that these murders were unnecessary. Yet for some reason, Mohammed still incited his followers to kill people who had been critical of him.
That seems strange to me. Could you help me to understand why Mohammed needlessly had people murdered?
Dr. Naik: (Probably go on about how these people were a true threat, and that's why it was necessary for them to be killed; if he chooses to go that route, hammer him about how Islam is God's true plan, and Mohammed knew that. Since this was the case, Mohammed knew no man could have possibly stopped Islam, and that these murders were therefore totally unnecessary)
*It's also possible he could go the, "Ibn Ishaq included fake reports, there were some fake hadith, etc.
If that happens, remind him that the biography of Ibn Ishaq is considered the most important biography of Mohammed, and the hadith collections of Sahih Muslim and Sahih Bukhari are considered the second and third most important books in Islam.