Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Real Islam, Violence, and Sheila Musaji

By Silas

Recently I engaged in an email discussion with a friend and fellow Christian who understands much of Islam.  He can read the texts in Arabic, has lived in the Mideast for an extended period of time, and studied the field academically.  I asked if he could put forward a textually based Islamic argument that proves that aggressive violence is not integral to Islam.  After all, he knew the source material, could read it in Arabic, and was familiar with the pros and cons of this topic.  I believed he was qualified and I wanted earnestly to hear his side of the argument.

Over the next several months we discussed and debated the topic.  Unfortunately the best he could do was provide flimsy articles and quotations that others, Muslims and non-Muslims had written, which argued that violence was not inherent to Islam.  When I took them apart he could not provide a response.  In the end he agreed with me that the Islamic source texts establish aggressive violence and that Islam’s major theological schools as well as the majority of the great classical Muslim Islamic scholars supported my side of the argument.  His only counter was that modern Muslim scholars be allowed to re-interpret the Islamic texts for reapplication in our times, saying more or less:  "Why should we be relegated to abiding by the opinion of the historic scholars?  We should allow modern scholars to re-interpret the texts and apply those new innovative, interpretations."  He, like many others, hope that through these scholar’s creativity, Islam can be re-fashioned into a non-violent faith by a successful Islamic reformist movement.

This discussion falls under a common theme argued about Islam today:  "What about Islam causes so many Muslims to behave violently?  Is aggressive violence integral to Islam?"  "Is it a matter of how the texts are interpreted, and if so, what is the correct interpretation?"  Another variant of these questions is “it sounds like there are two versions of the Koran floating around out there. If so, what is the difference between the Koran that the Terrorists are reading, and the Koran that the rest of the Muslim world is reading? ... I need to have the ‘real’ Islam please stand up.”

Given the constant Islamic hit parade of terror being played throughout the world today these are certainly fair questions to ask.  America suffered one of its worst attacks in history at the hands of dedicated Muslims who performed their evil deed in Islam's name.  Since then many other countries such as Spain, England, Russia, Thailand, India, etc., have continued to suffer various forms of violence committed by devout Muslims.  While the proportion of Muslims committing and actively supporting terrorist acts is around 10 - 15% or so, (based upon the numbers generated by Dr. Daniel Pipes work(1), in contrast to members of other faiths committing violence, that percentage is huge.

So while it would not be fair to judge Islam and answer the questions based solely upon the attitude and actions of this 10 - 15%; (there are many more non-violent Muslims in the world), it is appropriate to ask these questions.  Actually, the large proportion of violent Muslims on a worldwide scale demands this query!  When Muslims are murdering children in Beslan, butchering Buddhist priests in Thailand, and beheading Christian school girls in Indonesia, etc., it is understandable and essential that Islam be challenged and investigated.


This theme of the relationship between Islam and violence has been addressed by Muslims and non-Muslims, conservatives and liberals, Westerners and Easterners, and their answers come out on both sides of the argument.  One Muslim woman who has addressed this question is Sheila Musaji.  She is an intelligent and articulate Muslim lady and an apologist for her version of Islam.  She argues that Islam is not to blame for the violence, that Islam is not more violent than other religions, and that violence is NOT integral to Islam.  Further, she has written consistently against Muslims using violence in Islam's name.  One of her arguments can be found at her “The American Muslim” website(2).

Below are her main points.  Her argument is not unique to her; many people, Muslim and non-Muslim, make similar arguments.

  1. She argues that there are a number of verses in the Quran that teach justice, forgiveness, speak against murdering the innocent, urge Muslims to seek peace, and use violence only for self defense.  However she provides no context for these verses, something she accuses critics of Islam of failing to do.

  2. She argues that the critics of Islam are engaging in "quote mining" i.e. taking "violent" verses out of context, mis-interpreting them, mis-applying them, and ignoring their historical background.  Again, the same criticism could be made against her article.

  3. She argues that the violent verses are open to multiple interpretations and as these interpretations spread it becomes impossible to define an "orthodox", (i.e. established standard) Islamic doctrine on the use of violence.  Since there are multiple interpretations of such violent verses one cannot declare that aggressive violence is inherent in Islam.  (Hence she de facto admits that many Muslims believe that aggressive violence is inherent in Islam and theologically established.)

  4. She elaborates on point #2 above, by pointing to different interpretations or applications of theology throughout Christian history.  Her point is that members of all religious faiths have committed both good and evil acts, and in that light, it is not fair to blame Islam for the actions of the Muslim terrorists.  "This response is to the concept that violence is somehow unique—or even more common to—Islam than to other religious groups. It is currently common to EVERYONE."  She appeals implicitly that Islam be given the same benefit of the doubt with respect to its violent verses and actions of violent Muslims.

  5. Near the end of her article she makes a significant statement that defines her position:
  6. However, in this author’s opinion, the message of Jesus Christ was correct. Violence is not the answer. Indeed, if people of faith (every faith I can think of) were to follow the actual teachings of their scriptures (not some crazed pastors’ or imams’ distorted agenda), then the current violence would end.  No legitimate representatives of any faith can both follow the teachings of their faith and preach violence.

Her argument:  There are many interpretations of Islam, some violent, some not violent, therefore, it is not fair or accurate to declare that violence is integral to Islam.

Mrs. Musaji is correct in pointing out that members of all faiths have committed evil actions in their faith's name.  She's correct that there are opposing interpretations of Islam today.  She's correct that there are many verses in the Quran that urge peace, justice, and non-violence.

But if her premise is true, that there are many differing interpretations of Islam, then any group can interpret anything Islamic and define Islam on how it suits them.  Indeed there are many Muslim scholars living in Asia and the Mideast who teach that spreading Islam via jihad is not only valid, it is Allah’s mandate, Allah’s command.

Moreover, if any interpretation is as valid as another then the whole of Islam can be re-created many different ways.  Do we have the freedom to take the whole of the Quran and as a marionette master make it dance to whatever music we wish to play?  A Muslim may say, "There is only one God."  A Mormon could reply, "The Quran really means that there is only one God with Whom we have to do, but there are other Gods."  Would the Mormon's interpretation of the Quran be as valid as the Muslim's?

I am not trying to oversimplify or distort her argument, but she unwittingly leaves her readers stuck in a ball of confusion.  One interpretation of Islam is as valid as another and the argument becomes a “which ice cream flavor is best?” argument:

"Is aggressive violence inherent in Islam?"  "Umm, I dunno, I guess it depends on how you interpret it?  What do you think, what’s your opinion?”  “I guess I don’t know either, I read one internet article that says it isn’t, but a different one said it is.  I guess we’ll never figure it out”.

This is an important question and it cannot be left to a shrug, flip of the coin, haphazard approach.  All over the world dedicated Muslims are murdering and harming others and few people are taking this question seriously!  If we in the West are unable to find a reasonable, rational, and comprehensive answer to such a critical question then we are ignorant fools and invite the sword thrusts of devout Muslims.  A question like this must be answered, and answered substantially.  Otherwise, Islam turns to clay and anyone can mold Islam into any image, be it devouring brutal monster, or Mother Theresa, and change it at their whim.

Only a lazy fool would deal with real life this way.  God has given us minds to discern, understand, and categorize.  People deserve more and better than Sheila’s unreliable approach.




So let me ask you, the reader, what would suffice as an indicator, an evidence, or a proof for the question?  Mrs. Musaji admits that there are many violent verses in the Quran but asserts they are interpreted incorrectly by Islam's critics.  What else can we use to interpret or understand what Muhammad meant by those Quranic violent words?  What aids us in determining their meaning?

Understanding a leader’s teachings is critical to knowing the truth about the man and his goals.  Without understanding this we are left with Islamic clay; with understanding we can define and declare something concrete about Islam.  Consider the question:  “What can aid us in comprehending what a man means by his words?”

His actions.  You can more fully understand his words by his actions.  You know the saying, “Actions speak louder than words.”  We must ask not only, "What did Muhammad say?" we must also ask, "What did Muhammad do?"  "Why did he do it?"  "What was the context behind what he did?"

After all, one record about Jesus states:  “I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach,” (Act 1:1-3), so we too should examine not only Muhammad’s words found in the Quran, but also his actions.  These actions are detailed in the Islamic writings that comprise the biography and traditions of Muhammad, known as the sira and hadith.  These texts were written and compiled by devout Muslim scholars.  They are not the works of Islam's critics, no, they are the works of some of the most esteemed scholars in Islam's history and their work forms the bedrock of Islamic theology today.  Despite Mrs. Musaji's implication, Islam is not an undefined faith.  There exists a well-established bedrock of theological principles, based upon Muhammad’s words and deeds, that have existed for a thousand years.  Even my scholar friend acknowledged that.

Let’s examine Muhammad’s life and his use of violence.  That should help clarify things shouldn’t it?  For the first 13 years of his life he was weak and subsequently non-violent.  But during the last 10 years of his life Muhammad held military and political power.  A test of a man’s character is what he does with power.

Unfortunately, during his last 10 years he committed and sanctioned many acts of violence, terrorism, warfare, and brutality upon others.  Often those actions tied directly into his words and teachings.  I’ll present only four of Muhammad's violent actions.  I could chose from dozens but I believe these will lay a first brick of understanding this debate topic and the nature of Islamic violence.

I will also include references for your study.  Let's face it, those who have studied any subject in detail know more about it than the professional newspaper or online columnist whose job requires them to churn out articles week after week.  Those articles are usually shallow because the journalist does not have the time, energy, or resources to be an expert on every topic he writes about.

I include the references because I want the reader to do some independent studying on this subject.  Please, please, instead of reading people’s opinions, get a hold of Guillaume’s “The Life of Muhammad.”  Get a hold of Bukhari’s or Muslim’s hadith collection, (online for free, or available from bookstores), and read the chapters on jihad!  Afterwards you’ll laugh at those who defend Islam by saying that true jihad is only spiritual, or only for defense, or that it is not holy warfare to spread Islam’s rule.  Muhammad’s texts, his actions, and centuries of blood-covered swords say otherwise.

The violent actions I’ll cover are:

  1. Muhammad’s order to kill three young women who mocked him years earlier.
  2. A Muslim's murder of a partially blind shepherd.
  3. Muhammad's request that a mother of five children be murdered.
  4. Muhammad's dealings with the Christian town of Aylah.

These four will enable you to understand why critics like me state that violence is integral to Islam.  Based on the historical facts, based on the theological evidence, based on the teachings and actions of Muhammad, no other logical, reasonable, and comprehensive conclusion can be drawn.  That is why Islamic theological history has maintained such a uniform position on the use of violence for some 1400 years.


The first example:  Muhammad’s order to kill three young women.

The historical background:  when Muhammad was in Mecca he proclaimed himself as a prophet, preached his religion Islam, and insulted the faiths and heritage of the Meccans.  Naturally they objected to his derision, his rejection of their faiths, his preaching of his own religion.  They reciprocated by returning the ridicule and persecuting his few followers.  He received more verbal abuse than he dished out and life in Mecca was very difficult.  Three of the people who mocked him were young women, two of whom were “singing” girls, (probably slaves).  Some writers suggest they were used as prostitutes.  Surely their lives were not enviable.

These women were accomplished at their craft and they mocked Muhammad effectively.  Other people joined in the mockery and laughter and the Quran records people claiming he was crazy, demon possessed, or a fraud.  Certainly this was emotionally painful for him.  Being laughed at, being the object of ribald humor, being made a fool, hurts.  These women excelled in their efforts and inflicted deep emotional wounds.  Those wounds never healed, those wounds grew roots of bitterness, those wounds and roots brought forth a bitter fruit.  Muhammad hated them enough to kill them.

Years later Muhammad returned to Mecca as a conqueror leading an army of some 10,000 men.  Mecca was surrendered without a fight by its leader Abu Sufyan (although a few men in the town fought the Muslims but they were either killed or driven off).  Ibn Sa’d records that the Meccans converted to Islam either “willingly or unwillingly.”  No doubt as polytheists and rejecters of Islam they would have been killed.  With Islam, the adage, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” applies.

The tide had turned completely.  Muhammad was no longer the mocked fool, he was the powerful conqueror.  He had scores to settle.  He ordered that 10 people be killed wherever they were found.  Among these 10 were these three young women.  The seeds of pain these women sowed into Muhammad’s soul brought forth a harvest of hatred and revenge.  If these women were caught they would be stabbed, sliced, slashed, and perhaps beheaded on the spot.
Here are the quotes from Ibn Sa’d’s Kitab al-Tabaqat and Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah.

First, Ibn Sa’d’s Tabaqat list of names.

The apostle of Allah entered through Adhakhir, and prohibited fighting.  He ordered six men and four women to be killed, they were (1) Ikrimah Ibn Abi Jahl, (2) Habbar Ibn al-Aswad, (3) Abd Allah Ibn Sa'd Ibn Abi Sarh, (4) Miqyas Ibn Sababah al-Laythi, (5) al-Huwayrith Ibn Nuqaydh, (6) Abd Abbah Ibn Hilal Ibn Khatal al-Adrami, (7) Hind Bint Utbah, (8) Sarah, the mawlat (enfranchised girl) of Amr Ibn Hashim, (9) Fartana and (10) Qaribah.(3)

The girls’ names of interest to us here are Sarah, Fartana, and Qaribah.  In parallel to this passage are quotes from Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat:

The apostle had instructed his commanders when they entered Mecca only to fight those who resisted them, except a small number who were to be killed even if they were found beneath the curtains of the Kaba. …

Another was Abdullah Khatal of B. Taym b. Ghalib.  He had become a Muslim and the apostle sent him to collect the poor tax in company with one of the Ansar.  He had with him a freed slave who served him.  (He was Muslim). When they halted he ordered the latter to kill a goat for him and prepare some food, and went to sleep.  When he woke up the man had done nothing, so he attacked and killed him and apostatized.  He had two singing-girls Fartana and her friend who used to sing satirical songs about the apostle, so he ordered that they should be killed with him."

As for Ibn Khatal's two singing girls, one was killed and the other ran away until the apostle, asked for immunity, gave it to her.(4)

One girl was murdered, one ran away, and later begged for and received Muhammad’s forgiveness.  (This shows that Muhammad's death sentences were personal, willy-nilly vendettas.)

The story of the third girl, Sara continues:

And Sara, freed slave of one of the Abdul-Muttalib, and Ikrima Abu Jahl.  Sara had insulted him in Mecca.  … Similarly Sara, who lived until in the time of Umar a mounted soldier trod her down in the valley of Mecca and killed her.(5)

Ikrima Abu Jahl was one of Muhammad’s chief enemies in Mecca.  Since Sara had been freed by Ikrima Abu Jahl it is possible they had a close relationship and understandable that she would side with Abu Jahl against Muhammad and mock him.

In sum, Muhammad had been mocked skillfully, he became embittered, and later order their deaths.

With respect to our theme, Islam and violence, what do Muhammad’s words and actions tell us about Muhammad?  It tells us that violence was a valid option, a tool, a means to an end.  In this case violence was to be used to end the lives of the young women.

Why did Muhammad order the murder of these young women?

  1. Were these girls a threat to Muhammad?  No, they were probably terrified that he had conquered Mecca and rightly feared for their lives.
  2. Did Muhammad need to kill these women in self defense?  Ha, hardly.
  3. Had these young women committed some crime worthy of death?  No, they had only made fun of him and hurt his feelings.

Now let me remind the reader of one of Mrs. Musaji's statements:

However, in this author’s opinion, the message of Jesus Christ was correct. Violence is not the answer. Indeed, if people of faith (every faith I can think of) were to follow the actual teachings of their scriptures (not some crazed pastors’ or imams’ distorted agenda), then the current violence would end.  No legitimate representatives of any faith can both follow the teachings of their faith and preach violence.

In light of Musaji’s claim above, here are some questions:

  1. "Was violence Muhammad's answer in this case?"  (The two dead girls think so).
  2. "Did the Muslims who killed those women follow Muhammad's teachings?"
    What does this say then about Musaji's implicit claim, i.e. that violence was not Muhammad’s answer?


The second example:  the murder of a shepherd.

The background is that Muhammad and the Muslims were defeated by the Meccans at the battle of Uhud, during which Muhammad suffered a severe facial wound and some thought that he died.  The Meccans were led by Muhammad's arch rival, Abu Sufyan.  The defeated Muslims went back to Medina and licked their wounds.  Muhammad wanted Abu Sufyan dead and he sent two of his men, 'Amr Umayya, and another, to assassinate Abu Sufyan.  'Amr Umayya went to Mecca clandestinely but was discovered.  He fled, and both Muslims escaped.  Later on they split up and journeyed back to Medina separately.  'Amr went into a cave to spend the night and a one-eyed shepherd also came to the cave to sleep.  They greeted each other and both announced that they were from the same clan.  The shepherd trusted 'Amr and both lay down to sleep.  As he lay there the shepherd sang a song:

I won't be a Muslim as long as I live,
Nor heed to their religion give.

After the shepherd fell asleep 'Amr got up and murdered the shepherd by driving the end of his bow through the shepherd's good eye.  Below is the quote from Ibn Ishaq:

"as soon as the badu was asleep and snoring I got up and killed him in a more horrible way than any man has been killed. I put the end of my bow in his sound eye, then I bore down on it until I forced it out at the back of his neck."(7)

Umayya returned to Medina and reported to Muhammad.  'Amr relates the story:

"He asked my news and when I told him what had happened he blessed me".

Muhammad blessed the brutal murderer.  Let's ask a few questions.

Why did 'Amr murder the shepherd?

  1. Was the shepherd an enemy combatant?  No.
  2. Was the shepherd a threat to 'Amr?  No.
  3. Was the shepherd's rejection of Islam the cause for his murder?  Yes, and that alone was why 'Amr murdered him.
  4. Did Muhammad rebuke this violent, cold-blooded murder?  No, instead he praised 'Amr!

Related to question 4 above, later Muslim armies followed the same principle.  Muslim armies would approach towns and give them a choice:  "Accept Islam or die."  You can read about this in "The History of al-Tabari”, volumes 10, 11, and 12.  What they were saying then was in accord with how Muhammad operated earlier.  Muhammad’s words and actions sing together in harmony and they sing a bloody song.

Again, let me remind the reader of Musaji's statement:

However, in this author’s opinion, the message of Jesus Christ was correct. Violence is not the answer. Indeed, if people of faith (every faith I can think of) were to follow the actual teachings of their scriptures (not some crazed pastors’ or imams’ distorted agenda), then the current violence would end.  No legitimate representatives of any faith can both follow the teachings of their faith and preach violence.

In light of Musaji’s claim here are related questions:

  1. "Was violence Muhammad's answer in this case?"
  2. "Did 'Amr follow Muhammad's teachings?"

What does this event say then about Musaji's claim?


Let's move on to the third example:  the murder of Asma the daughter of Marwan.
The background is that Muhammad had requested the assassination of a very old Jewish man, Abu Afak, who had simply criticized Muhammad publicly.  Abu Afak was murdered while he slept.  Asma was his friend and knowing Muhammad was behind the murder spoke out against him.  She urged her fellow townsfolk to kill Muhammad before he killed them (as well).  Muhammad would not tolerate any critics so he asked his men to kill her.  Here is Ibn Ishaq's account, (words in [ ] brackets are mine):

When the apostle heard what she had said he said, "Who will rid me of Marwan's daughter?"  Umayr b. Adiy al-Khatmi who was with him heard him, and that very night he went to her house and killed her.  In the morning he came to the apostle and told him what he had done and he said, "You have helped God and His apostle, O Umayr!"  When he asked if he would have to bear any evil consequences the apostle said, "Two goats won't butt their heads about her", so Umayr went back to his people.
Now there was a great commotion among B. Khatma that day about the affair of Bint [daughter of] Marwan.  She had five sons, and when Umayr went to them from the apostle he said, "I have killed bint Marwan, O sons of Khatma.  Withstand me if you can; don't keep me waiting."(8)

Here is Ibn Sa'd's:

Then (occurred) the sariyyah of Umayr ibn adi Ibn Kharashah al-Khatmi against Asma Bint Marwan, of Banu Umayyah Ibn Zayd, when five nights had remained from the month of Ramadan, in the beginning of the nineteenth month from the hijrah of the apostle of Allah.  Asma was the wife of Yazid Ibn Zayd Ibn Hisn al-Khatmi.  She used to revile Islam, offend the prophet and instigate the (people) against him.  She composed verses.  Umayr Ibn Adi came to her in the night and entered her house.  Her children were sleeping around her.  There was one whom she was suckling.  He searched her with his hand because he was blind, and separated the child from her.  He thrust his sword in her chest till it pierced up to her back.  Then he offered the morning prayers with the prophet at al-Medina.  The apostle of Allah said to him:  "Have you slain the daughter of Marwan?"  He said:  "Yes.  Is there something more for me to do?"  He said:  "No.  Two goats will butt together about her.  This was the word that was first heard from the apostle of Allah.  The apostle of Allah called him Umayr, "basir" (the seeing).(9)

Why did Muhammad have Asma murdered?

  1. Was Asma a physical threat to Muhammad?  No.  She was no warrior and she was very busy raising her children.
  2. Did Muhammad need to kill Asma in self defense or in the defense of others?  No, Muhammad knew that her tribe and others did not take her seriously (“two goats won’t butt their heads about her”).
  3. Did Muhammad have her murdered for speaking out against him?  Yes, she was murdered because she did the right thing and spoke out against the injustice of seeing her friend murdered.
  4. Did Muhammad denounce al-Khatmi for murdering Asma?  No!  He mocked her death and thanked al-Khatmi.

Again, Musaji's words:

However, in this author’s opinion, the message of Jesus Christ was correct. Violence is not the answer. Indeed, if people of faith (every faith I can think of) were to follow the actual teachings of their scriptures (not some crazed pastors’ or imams’ distorted agenda), then the current violence would end.  No legitimate representatives of any faith can both follow the teachings of their faith and preach violence.

In light of Musaji’s claim, here are related questions:

  1. Does Muhammad agree with Mrs. Musaji?
  2. Did Umayr follow and obey Muhammad’s instructions?
  3. Did Muhammad preach violence when he said, “You have helped God and His apostle?”

Compare the two women, Asma and Musaji.  Asma spoke out against Muhammad and she was murdered because she took a stand for justice.  Sheila speaks out for the murderer and whitewashes his brutal crimes.  One woman died because she spoke out against evil, the other women speaks out for the evil.  Musaji pretends Muhammad did no wrong and proclaims that he is a great example for all humanity!

What does this tell you about Musaji's knowledge of Muhammad and Islam?


The fourth event:  Muhammad's dealings with the town of Aylah.

The background is that Muhammad had led an army north from Medina to engage a Byzantine army.  When he arrived at Tabuk there was no Byzantine army to be found.  However, not far away from Tabuk was the Christian fishing town of Aylah, a port at the head of the Red Sea.  Muhammad summoned the leader of the town, John, and gave him his demands.  Here is a quote from Muir’s composite translation of biographical information.

"To John ibn Rabah and the Chiefs of Aylah. Peace be on you! I praise God for you, beside whom there is no Lord. I will not fight against you until I have written thus unto you. Believe, or else pay tribute. And be obedient unto the Lord and his Prophet, and the messengers of his Prophet. Honour them and clothe them with excellent vestments, not with inferior raiment. Specially clothe Zeid with excellent garments. As long as my messengers are pleased, so likewise am I. Ye know the tribute. If ye desire to have security by sea and by land, obey the Lord and his Apostle, and he will defend you from every claim, whether by Arab or foreigner, saving the claim of the Lord and his Apostle. But if ye oppose and displease them, I will not accept from you a single thing, until I have fought against you and taken captive your little ones and slain the elder. For I am the Apostle of the Lord in truth. Believe in the Lord and in his Prophets, and in the Messiah, son of Mary; verily he is the Word of God: I believe in him that he was a messenger of God. Come then, before trouble reach you. I commend my messengers to you. Give to Harmala three measures of barley. And indeed Harmala hath interceded for you. As for me, if it were not for the Lord and for this (intercession), I would not have sent any message at all unto you, until ye had seen the army. But now, if ye obey my messengers, God will be your protector, and Mahomet, and whosoever belongeth unto him. Now my messengers are Sharahbil and Obey, and Harmala and Horeith ibn Zeid. Unto you is the guarantee of God and of Mahomet his Apostle, and peace be unto you if ye submit. And convey the people of Macna back to their land."(10)

Although the quote is in older English we note several germane points:

  1. Muhammad told the Christians that they had to convert to Islam (believe), or "pay tribute."
  2. The Christian people were to obey Muhammad and give excellent clothes to Zeid and Muhammad's emissaries and please them, but if they displeased the emissaries Muhammad would:  “not accept from you a single thing, until I have fought against you and taken captive your little ones and slain the elder.  For I am the Apostle of the Lord in truth.”
  3. The threat of violence was Muhammad's tool of choice.

Once again Musaji's words:

However, in this author’s opinion, the message of Jesus Christ was correct. Violence is not the answer. Indeed, if people of faith (every faith I can think of) were to follow the actual teachings of their scriptures (not some crazed pastors’ or imams’ distorted agenda), then the current violence would end.  No legitimate representatives of any faith can both follow the teachings of their faith and preach violence.

Violence was Muhammad’s solution to get the people of Aylah to submit to him.  Muhammad threatened them with death and enslavement if they did not agree to his demands.  This threat duplicates exactly what is found in the Quran 9:29:

Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.(11)

Is violence part of Islamic theology?  We see that violence is incorporated in Islam’s theology as found in the Quran, as heard in Muhammad’s words, and as seen in Muhammad’s actions.  Time and time again, Muhammad taught the use of violence and carried out violent acts to achieve his goals.  Violence against weak people was a legitimate means to an end.




The date of the Tabuk campaign was Oct, 630.  Muhammad died about a year and a half later.  After returning from Tabuk an interesting event occurred that provides additional details for our discussion:

Ibn Sa’d records:

Then the Apostle of Allah returned from Tabuk without an encounter…. The Muslims began to sell their arms, saying that Jihad had come to an end.  This (report) reached the Apostle of Allah, who stopped them from it and said:  A party of my people will continue fighting for truth till the emergence of Antichrist.(12)

This is corroborated by the hadith collection of Abu Dawud (and others):

Narrated Imran ibn Husayn:
The Prophet  said: A section of my community will continue to fight for the right and overcome their opponents till the last of them fights with the Antichrist.

Muir’s “The Life of Mahomet,” differs slightly but establishes the same principles of continuing jihad:

Mahomet tells his followers that the war shall be carried on by Islam even till Antichrist appears

The campaign to Tabuk was the last expedition undertaken during the Prophet's lifetime. The following curious tradition, if authentic, shews how little the real spirit of Islam, as aggressive and tending necessarily to universal conquest, had yet dawned upon the understanding of the people, although the principles from which such a conclusion was legitimately to be deduced, had long been inculcated by Mahomet. Looking around them, and seeing no enemy remain,-----the Romans even having retired and left them alone in their deserts, the followers of the Prophet began to sell their arms, saying, "The wars for religion now are ended." But when this reached the ears of Mahomet, he forbade it ----"There shall not cease," he said, "from the midst of my people a party engaged in crusades for the truth, even, until Antichrist appear."(14)

By this time in history Muhammad had reached the apex of his power and had a golden opportunity to show that he was truly a man of peace.  Instead he instructed his people that they must continue to fight to spread Islam until the last days.

Previous to this Muhammad had given similar instructions to his followers.  After Mecca was conquered Bukhari’s hadith collection records:

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:
On the day of the Conquest (of Mecca) the Prophet said, "There is no emigration after the Conquest but Jihad and intentions. When you are called (by the Muslim ruler) for fighting, go forth immediately."

Muhammad was consistent in his teaching and application of violence after he fled from Mecca and established himself in Medina.  Early in his ministry he told his followers what Allah had commanded him to do:

"I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.' And if they say so, pray like our prayers, face our Qibla and slaughter as we slaughter, then their blood and property will be sacred to us and we will not interfere with them except legally and their reckoning will be with Allah."(16)

If Allah commanded Muhammad to fight people until they practiced Islam, or submitted to its rule, then shouldn’t Muhammad obey Allah?  Shouldn’t today’s Muslims obey Muhammad, (and Allah)?




The primary point I am making in this short review is that Muhammad was a man with both good and bad qualities.  He was no angel, he was no demon. But power has a way of changing a man and revealing his true character.  You’ve heard the saying, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  There is much truth in that and we can evaluate Muhammad’s character based on his use of his power.  Linked to this thought are Plato’s words:  “The measure of a man is what he does with power,” and Lincoln’s “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.”  Muhammad obtained power and his use of that power revealed the vengeful, malicious, and repressive side of his character.  He used that power to subject or kill those who rejected his claim to prophethood.

Four examples of Muhammad's use of violence were presented.  It was not necessary or justified for Muhammad to have ordered or sanctioned the use of violence in any of these cases.  Instead, violence was one valid option, one legitimate choice, one easy solution for Muhammad.  Muhammad’s teachings and actions establish that violence is integral to Islam.  Ultimately, when an opportunity occurred for Muhammad to turn from violence he instructed his followers that jihad should continue to spread Islam’s domain.

Muhammad’s words, his teachings, and his actions, sing in harmony, and they sing a threatening song:  “Accept Islam and you will be safe.”  Safe from what?  Safe from Muhammad’s sword.  Why did Muhammad bring the sword?  Because God ordered Muhammad to fight all people until they become Muslim or pay the jizya extortion tax.

Mrs. Musaji argues that Islam is not inherently violent, and that those who quote the Quran’s violent verses do in ignorance, or out of context.  But she is the one who quotes verses out of context, (such as 2:256).  The image of Muhammad that Sheila worships may have existed somewhat in Mecca but that personage grew evil and ugly in Medina.  The trail of blood behind his feet grew wider during the last ten years of his life.  From individual assassinations to the forceful subjection of entire villages.  (A similar series of events repeated itself after Muhammad’s death – thousands of people who were coerced into becoming Muslims left Islam and apostatized.  Subsequently they were attacked by Muslim armies and forced to embrace Islam, or they were massacred.)

Musaji’s assertion that Muhammad and Islam teach non-violence as Jesus did has been proven to be false.  She proclaims an Orwellian Animal Farm lie in opposition to the historical facts.  Muhammad is the opposite of Jesus when it comes to violence.  Jesus taught His kingdom was not of this world, Muhammad’s kingdom was this world, (he proclaimed this to the Banu Qaynuqa Jews - Sahih Muslim #4363), and he taught his followers to spread his rule by force.

Sheila, those young women hurt Muhammad’s feelings but instead of turning the other cheek, Muhammad wanted their heads.  Muhammad and the Muslims did not “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and that trusting shepherd was murdered with Muhammad’s blessing.  Muhammad did not raise people from the dead, instead he had people assassinated, and five children grew up without their mother.  Aylah did not want Muhammad’s yoke upon their neck, they did not want Muhammad’s cross, they did not need his Capone-style “protection,” but they were threatened with extinction if they rejected Muhammad’s demands.  In all these cases Muhammad used violence as a means to an end.  This same violence continues in the Islamic world today.

Jesus said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  Muhammad stole, killed, and destroyed.

Sheila, take a look at Muhammad’s face.  The face you want to see is not there, Jesus is not there.  Look closely at Muhammad’s evil deeds, let his actions, and his words, in the correct context, speak to you.  They are a poison in humanity’s soul.  All over the world there are violent problems with Islam, both within Islamic countries, and in countries with large populations of Muslims.

The argument here is not between Mrs. Musaji and me, it is between Mrs. Musaji and Muhammad.  Sheila knows that Jesus brought the best way, God's way, and in her heart she sides with Him.  Muhammad was a merchant of violence and Musaji disavows Muhammad implicitly.  Muhammad is not the man Mrs. Musaji believes him to be, Islam is not the religion that Mrs. Musaji teaches.  She has created a false image of Islam, an idol, and presents it to her readers.  She hides Muhammad’s ugly face behind a Jesus mask.

The sadness here, a real sadness, is that Sheila does not want the real Muhammad, she wants Jesus, the real Jesus, the Son of God who loved and gave Himself for us.  Her own statements say so.  She abhors violence, she respects other faiths, and she desires that people of all faith at least show respect for others.  Mrs. Musaji, please take an honest look at the facts.  We will all give an account of ourselves to God.  You will not be able to justify your faith in Muhammad with his historical record of his crimes and brutalities.  Put your faith in the true Jesus.



3)    Ibn Sa'd, (d. 852 A.D.), "Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir", (Book of the Major Classes), translated by S. Moinul Haq, Pakistan Historical Society, Vol. 2, page 168.
4)    Ibn Ishaq, (d.782), "Sirat Rasul Allah", compiled by A. Guillaume as  "The Life of Muhammad", Oxford, London, 1955, pages 550, 551
5)    ibid, p551
6)    ibid, p674
7)    ibid, p674
8)    ibid, p675, 676
9)    Ibn Sa'd, "Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir", translated by S. Haq, Pakistan Historical Society, Vol. 2, page 168.
10) (Page 188).
11)    Pickthall, M., “The Meaning of the Glorious Koran”, Mentor, New York, 1953
12)    Ibn Sa'd, "Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir", translated by S. Haq, Pakistan Historical Society, Vol. 2, page 206.
13    Abu Dawud, “Sunan,” translated by Ahmad Hasan, Al-Madina Publications, New Delhi, India, Book 14, Number 2478
14)  pages 201, 202
15)    Bukhari, Muhammad, “Sahih Bukhari”, Kitab Bhavan, New Delhi, India, 1987, translated by M. Khan, volume 4, number 79
16)    ibid, volume 1, number 387