Project Rebuttal :Background
Sources of distortion and bias in Islamic history and their subsequent exploitation:
Khwaja Kamaluddin sums up the basis of historical exaggeration and distortion both in the sources and subsequently enlightened Islam haters who pick and choose such fictional accounts to their liking and then try to make their case against Muhammad and Islam:
There are numberless books on the life of the Holy Prophet, some of them written in the early days of Islam, and among these Books of Sirat (biography) and Maghazi (campaigns) are conspicuous. Nevertheless, they should be put to the test of the Books of Hadith, the traditions of the Prophet before they can be accepted as reliable on the subject. Hafiz Zainuddin, a well known “traditionist” very rightly remarks in his book, Al-flya-fissyar: “The seeker should remember that books on the Sirat (biography) of Muhammad gather all kinds of traditions and sayings, both those that are true and those which should be rejected”. The Sirat and Maghazi books were not over-carefully compiled, and many unreliable accounts, in the nature of fiction, crept into them. On the other hand, in the books of Hadith, we have the statements of about 13,000 persons who had spoken with the Prophet and seen him that have been written down and passed on to us. “In order then, to ascertain whether a certain narrator of a certain tradition is trustworthy, we consult a special branch of Arabic literature known as Asma-ur-Ral that is to say, the names of those who have either spoken to or seen the Prophet. In these books are preserved the accounts of the lives of the persons who are narrators of traditions, and it is from these books that we learn whether such should be accepted or rejected. Thousands of “traditionists” spent their whole lives in preparing this branch of knowledge. They took long journeys to meet and interview the persons who could relate any events of the Life of Muhammad. They met them and inquired about them; whether the narrator was a pious man; what were his occupations; whether he had a good memory; whether he was of a superficial or deep character; and if he proved to be in any way deficient, his evidence was rejected.” It was under this system of sifting the truth that the books of Sihah Sittah – six reliable books of traditions were prepared and became the basis of all other books on the life of the Prophet.
The books of Maghazi, on the other hand, have not appealed to the Muslim Divines and “traditionists,” and their writers have not been accepted as reliable. Among these writers, Waqidi and his Katib have been regarded (Life of Muhammad – by Syed Ameer Ali), in the Muhammadan world, as the least trustworthy and most careless biographers of Muhammad. Of the former Ibn Khalikan speaks thus: “The traditions received from him (Waqidi) are considered of feeble authority, and doubts have been expressed on the subject of his veracity (vol. iii, p. 62). Imam Shafi’i one of the four great Imams of the Muslim world says that all the books of Waqidi are a load of lies, and other “traditionists” say the same. But unfortunately Waqidi is the chief authority with some of those European writers, who approach the subject with sinister motives and for obvious reasons. They can of Muhammad as, with little distortion, will help them to malign the Holy Prophet. [The Ideal Prophet – pg 8-9]
While extra caution and high standards were exercised in the collection of Hadith, the collectors left it up to the judgment of the future readers to accept them or not in light of Quran. Essentially, they undertook to preserve sayings and actions of the Prophet but their work is still a human effort and does not match the standards of authenticity that Quran enjoys.
Add to the list of likes of Waqidi is Ibn Ishaq, who was born in the family of story tellers. He kept the same tradition of non-verifiable narrations in his compilations. It is no wonder that his contemporary scholars some of whom were Hadith collectors disregarded his works. That includes Imam Muslim, Imam Hanbal, Imam Malik and Imam Bukhari. He not only gets a poor peer review of his works but even outright rejection. He is particularly known for collecting “odd tales” from the Jewish descendants of Arabia with regards to events in the times of Muhammad.
The Ideal Prophet – Khwaja Kamaluddin
Ibn Isḥaq ( 85 AH – 150 AH)
Imam Malik ( 93 AH – 179 AH)
Al-Waqidi (130 AH – 207 AH)
Imam Shafi’i (135 AH – 188 AH)
Imam Hanbal (164 AH – 241 AH)
Imam Bukhari (194 AH – 256 AH)
Ibn Khalikan (608 AH – 681 AH)
Psychology of selective reasoning in anti-Islam literature:
Khwaja Kamaluddin comments on the dynamics of bigoted view of self proclaimed scholars who take it upon themselves to debase Quran, Islam and Muhammad despite the facts to the contrary:
“But there is another undesirable thing in some of the writers. Unfortunately Christianity has some advocates who advance her cause at the expense of others. They illuminate her by blackening other religions, they safeguard her by robbing others of their due; they deify her Lord by reviling all other Prophets of God. They have a novel system of recording actualities, for they know that they cannot appeal to facts in history. The force of repetition stands with them as the equivalent of proof. To repeat certain statements, while ignoring rebutting facts, is a sure method of carrying conviction to the minds of thousands. These writers have adopted this plan. They play upon the mob psychology and produce the desired effect. In writing against other religions the popular course is this: First of all, one writer says something by way of suggestion or insinuation; the next after him declares the suggestion a possibility; the possibility then is converted into a theory by a third writer, while the fourth tries to make a fact out of the theory. Thus a wish, in four or five metamorphoses, becomes a well-established fact, especially when other religions or civilizations come under their criticism.” [The Ideal Prophet – pg 4-5]
The Ideal Prophet – Khwaja Kamaluddin