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Miracles, Myths, Mistakes and MattersSee Title Page and List of Contents

See: Project Rebuttal: What the West needs to know about Islam

Refuting the gross distortion and misrepresentation of the Quran, the Prophet Muhammad and Islam, made by the critics of Islam

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October 21st, 2012

Issue 75

Issue 75 [@1:17:15]: Slide projected with voice – The Life of Muhammad, p 368 – We saluted him [-the Prophet] as he stood praying, and he came out to us, and we told him that we had killed God’s enemy. He spat upon our comrade’s wounds, and both he and we returned to our families. Our attack on God’s enemy cast terror among the Jews, and there was no Jew in Medina who did not fear for his life.

Rebuttal 75: The above is a phony chronicle. Before we entertain the said tale attributed to Prophet Muhammad for any intelligent discussion, we have to compare it with the Quranic standards of personal hygiene that are to be maintained in a daily living:

74:5. And uncleanness do shun.

2:222. …He [– Allah] loves those who purify themselves.

Prophet’s life is reflection of edicts in Quran. Following hadiths are just a sampler about oral hygiene alone:

“Were it not that I would place too heavy a burden on my community, I would have commanded them to use the tooth-brush at every ablution.” (Bukhari 30:27.)

He used to brush his teeth daily, at every service, in the morning and at retiring, with a rotating motion from the gum to the grinding surface and vice versa, so as to endure the removal of any sticky coating. (Ahmad bin Hambal, vol v.)

“The tooth-brush purifies the mouth and is a means of seeking the pleasure of the Lord.” (Bukhari 30:27)

Never did the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, wake up after sleeping at night or in the day, but he used the tooth-brush before he performed ablution.” 14(AD-Msh. 3:3)

I asked `A’ishah, What was the first thing the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, did when he entered his house? She said, Tooth-brushing. (M-Msh. 3:3)

With the above emphasis on personal cleanliness and oral hygiene in particular, the excerpted quote from Sirat (by Ibn Ishaq) in the documentary is totally absurd where it states about the Prophet – “He spat upon our comrade’s wounds.” The very unhygienic bend in the quote is sufficient to brand the whole narrative from where it is fetched as a fable, because the Prophet’s life style was anything but unclean or unhygienic. This can be further judged by hadiths about his purification practices and habits (Manual of Hadith – by Muhammad Ali).

Ibn Ishaq was born about 75 years after the death of Prophet and belonged to the family of Iraqi storytellers. Though born in Medina, was educated in Egypt, finally expelled from Medina for relating a false hadith from a woman he did not meet. His works were oral dictations to his pupils, most of which have been lost. The current version is the remnant that survived only through some of the pupillary chain and finally edited by Ibn Hisham, about 200 years after the death of the Prophet.

Storytelling was a profession that passed from father to son, in the same fashion as other trades e.g. iron smiths, shoe makers etc. Such storytellers are known to build upon the drama to suit the fancy of every newer generation of their times, by constantly inventing the facts and details for the mere fact that more the drama more the money they got paid. Listening to storytelling was a common evening past time in the tea houses. The whole market places were named after storytellers e.g. Qissa Khawani Bazaar in Peshawar, Pakistan. In order to understand Ibn Ishaq, one has to see this video clip at 40:20-40:55 and 47:35-48:54 to get a feeling of what storytelling means in his case and why he wrote what he wrote. A storyteller judges the mood of the audience and modifies his script in light of the response that he gets.

In the tradition of storytellers, Ibn Ishaq usually has no sources or weak sources to his narratives. The only difference between Ibn Ishaq and his ancestors is that he broke away from their verbal style to a written style. The lack of authenticity and poor quality of his work can be accessed by peer review by others in his own times that are recognized as literary figures in Islamic history [ref: link]:

Unfortunately, Ibn Ishaq excited the enmity of Malik b. Anas, for whose work he showed his contempt, and it was not long before his own writings and his orthodoxy were called in question.” (Alfred, Guillaume. The Life of Muhammad – A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah – Oxford University Press, 2004 – Introduction, Page XIII).

“Adh-Dhahabi also listed some of the major scholars of Islam who refuted Ibn Is’haq’s reliability in Hadith narrations. Imam Muslim, for instance, called Ibn Is’haq a liar and Yahya Ibn Saeed al-Ansari, as well as al-Amash refuted one of Ibn Is’haq’s narrations by saying that he lied.” Imam Ahmad also said that Ibn Ishaq did not care from whom he collected Hadiths. Imam Ibn Numair said that Ibn Ishaq reported false Hadiths from unknown narrators.” (Shaykh Jalal Abu Al Rub – The Prophet of Mercy – Chapter 2 – Page 10).

“Allah has provided evidence (i.e. Isnad) establishing the authenticity or lack thereof of the narrations that are necessary in matters of the religion. It is well known that most of what was reported in aspects of Tafsir (commentaries on the Qur’an) is similar to narrations reporting Maghazi (or Seerah) and battles, promoting Imam Ahmad to state that three matters do not have Isnad: Tafsir, Mala’him (i.e. great battles), and Maghazi. This is because most of their narrations are of the Maraseel (plural for Mursal) type, such as narrations reported by Urwah Ibn az-Zubair, ash-Sha’bi, az-Zuhri, Musa Ibn Uqbah and Ibn Ishaq. (Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah – Majmu’ Al Fataawa – Volume 13 – Page 345).

“Imam Malik was not the only contemporary of Ibn Ishaq’s to have problems with him. Despite writing the earliest biography of Prophet Muhammad, Scholars such as al-Nisa’I and Yahya b. Kattan did not view Ibn Ishaq as a reliable or authoritative source of Hadith.” (Jones, J.M.B. Ibn Ishak. Vol. IV, in Encyclopaedia of Islam, edited by Ch. Pellat, and J. SchachtV.L.M.B. Lewis. London: Luzac & Co., 1971: pages 810-811).

“Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal discounted the reliability of Ibn Ishaq if he alone narrates a Hadeeth. Also, Imams Yahya Ibn Ma`een (in another narration from him), an-Nasaii and ad-Daraqutni stated that Ibn Ishaq was weak in Hadeeth. The great Imam of Sunnah, Imam A`hmad Ibn Hanbal, also added that Ibn Is`haq’s narrations are not accepted if they are about the Sunan.”

Suffice is to say about false narrations attributed to the Prophet in Prophet’s own words:

“…Whoso ascribeth doctrines or precepts to me, and they are not mine, the same shall go to hell.” (Bukhari 8:73:217)

The excerpt quoted in the current issue has been taken from Sirat Rasul Allah by Ibn Ishaq – (Translation: The Life of Muhammad by A. Guillaume) from its section THE KILLING OF KA’B B. AL-ASHRAF [pages 364-369]. Before we go further, the reader is encouraged to review Issue 58 that addresses the same topic from its socio-political angles.

We quote the full section below which only highlights the short comings of Ibn Ishaq. His narratives are long on tales and short on history. The passage not only shows the dearth and weakness of his sources, but also the long winded drama that he creates by the dialogues. Not surprisingly while describing the events he even gets into the heads of the different characters and lays bare to the reader as to what was that person actually thinking. Anyone who takes such narratives as history is not far from essentially believing in Santa Claus. His sources for various sections are highlighted in bold font below:

After the Quraysh defeat at Badr the apostle had sent Zayd b. Haritha to the lower quarter and ‘Abdullah b. Rawaha to the upper quarter to tell the Muslims of Medina of God’s victory and of the polytheists who had been killed. `Abdullah b. al-Mughith b. Abu Burda al-Zafari and ‘Abdullah b. Abu Bakr b. Muhammad b. ‘Amr b. kfazm and ‘Asim b. Umar b. Qatada and Salib b. Abfi Umama b. Sahl each gave me a part of the following story: Ka’b b. al-Ashraf who was one of the Tayy’ of the subsection B. Nabhan whose mother was from the B. al-Nadir, when he heard the news said, ‘Is this true? Did Muhammad actually kill these whom these two men mention? (i.e. Zayd and ‘Abdullah b. Rawaha). These are the nobles of the Arabs and kingly men; by God, if Muhammad has slain these people ’twere better to be dead than alive.’ {fn: Lit. the inside of the earth is better than the outside.}

When the enemy of God became certain that the news was true he left the town and went to Mecca to stay with al-Muttalib b. Abu Wada’a b. Dubayra al-Sahmi who was married to ‘Atika d. Abu’l-‘Is b. Umayya b. ‘Abdu Shams b. ‘Abdu Manaf. She took him in and entertained him hospitably. He began to inveigh against the apostle and to recite verses in which he bewailed the Quraysh who were thrown into the pit after having been slain at Badr. He said:

Badr’s mill ground out the blood of its people.
At events like Badr you should weep and cry.
The best of the people were slain round their cisterns,
Don’t think it strange that the princes were left lying.
How many noble handsome men,
The refuge of the homeless were slain,
Liberal when the stars gave no rain,
Who bore others’ burdens, ruling and taking their due fourth.
Some people whose anger pleases me say ‘Ka’b b. al-Ashraf is utterly dejected’.
They arc right. O that the earth when they were killed
Had split asunder and engulfed its people,
That he who spread the report had been thrust through
Or lived cowering blind and deaf.
I was told that all the Banu’l-Mughira were humiliated
And brought low by the death of
And the two sons of Rabra with him,
And Munabbih and the others did not attain (such honour) as those who were slain! {fn: Or ‘Tubba’ did not’ (so A. Dh.). Waq. has hal for ma and al-tubba’u for watubba’u.}
I was told that al-Harith ibn Hisham
Is doing well and gathering troops
To visit Yathrib with armies,
For only the noble, handsome man protects the loftiest {fn: The reading must be ula, because yahmi governs an accusative.} reputation (573).

Hassan b. Thabit answered him thus:

Does Ka’b weep for him again and again
And live in humiliation hearing nothing?’ {fn: The question is ironical: let him weep if he wants to. The text of this poem is dubious.}
In the vale of Badr I saw some of them, the slain,
Eyes pouring with tears for them.
Weep [Atika], for you have made a mean slave weep
Like a pup following a little bitch.
God has given satisfaction to our leader
And put to shame and prostrated those who fought him.
Those whose hearts were torn with fear
Escaped and fled away (574).

A Muslim woman of B. Murayd, a clan of Bali who were allied attachments of B. Umayya b. Zayd, called al-Ja’adira answered Kalb (575):

This slave shows great concern Weeping over the slain untiringly.
May the eye that weeps over the slain at Badr weep on
And may Lu’ayy b. Ghalib weep double as much!
Would that those weltering in their blood
Could be seen by those who live between Mecca’s mountains!
They would know for certain and would see
How they were dragged along by hair and beard. {fn: Or, reading mahazzahum, ‘the sword cuts above their beards and eyebrows’.}

Ka`b b. al-Ashraf answered her:

Drive off that fool of yours that you may be safe
From talk that has no sense!
Do you taunt me because I shed tears
For people who loved me sincerely?
As long as I live I shall weep and remember
The merits of people whose glory is in Mecca’s houses.
By my life Murayd used to be far from hostile
But now they are become as jackals.
They ought to have their noses cut off
For insulting the two clans of Lu’ayy b. Ghalib.
I give my share in Murayd to Ja’dar
In truth, by God’s house, between Mecca’s mountains.

Then Ka’b returned to Medina and composed amatory verses about Ummul-Fadl d. al-Harith, saying:

Are you off without stopping in the valley
And leaving Ummu’l-Fadl in Mecca?
Out would come what she bought from the pedlar of bottles,
Henna and hair dye.
What lies ‘twixt ankle and elbow is in motion {fn: Presumably her buttocks are meant: they would be between her ankle and her elbow as she reclined. Large and heavy buttocks were marks of female beauty among the old Arabs.}
When she tries to stand and does not.
Like Umm Hakim when she was with us
The link between us firm and not to be cut.
She is one of B. ‘Amir who bewitches the heart,
And if she wished she could cure my sickness.
The glory of women and of a people is their father,
A people held in honour true to their oath.
Never did I see the sun rise at night till I saw her
Display herself to us in the darkness of the night!

So far, Ibn Ishaq can be given leeway in what he states because as a tradition, Arabs had good memories for poetry entailing themes of honor, rage, insinuated love and sensuality. Most readers in general will agree that they themselves remember the poems and lullabies from their childhood more than the stories they might have read. The above poetry only proves that Ka’b bin Ashraf was instigating Makkans against Muslims by using the most effective propaganda tool of the times, the poetry.

Now, let’s pay attention to the following section which forms the basis of Issue 58 before. Ibn Ishaq quotes only one source for a string of events that involved multiple participants. If the events are true as reported, then there must have been many more corroborative sources, but does not. Notice the dramatic details in the dialogues and their corresponding expressions, all emanating from a single source, written 200 hundred years after the event. How could such a single source know all such details? How is it even possible to write history in such a manner? Should we call it a recall or fanciful concoction?

Then he composed amatory verses of an insulting nature about the Muslim women. The apostle said—according to what ‘Abdullah b. al-Mughith b. Abu Burda told me—’Who will rid me of Ibnu’l-Ashraf ?’ Muhammad b. Maslama, brother of the B. ‘Abdu’l-Ashhal, said, ‘I will deal with him for you, O apostle of God, I will kill him.’ He said, `Do so if you can.’So Muhammad b. Maslama returned and waited for three days without food or drink, apart from what was absolutely necessary. When the apostle was told of this he summoned him and asked him why he had given up eating and drinking. He replied that he had given him an under-taking and he did not know whether he could fulfil it. The apostle said, ‘All that is incumbent upon you is that you should try.’ He said, ‘O apostle of God, we shall have to tell lies.’ He answered, ‘Say what you like, for you are free in the matter.’ Thereupon he and Silkan b. Salama b. Waqsh who was Abil Na’ila one of the B. ‘Abdu’l-Ashhal, foster-brother of Ka’b, and ‘Abbad b. Bishr b. Waqsh, and al-Harith b. Aus b. Muadh of the B. ‘Abdu’l-Ashhal and Abu ‘Abs b. Jabr of the B. Haritha conspired together and sent Silkan to the enemy of God, Ka’b b. Ashraf, before they came to him. He talked to him some time and they recited poetry one to the other, for Silkan was fond of poetry. Then he said, ‘O Ibn Ashraf, I have come to you about a matter which I want to tell you of and wish you to keep secret.’ ‘Very well,’ he replied. He went on, ‘The coming of this man is a great trial to us. It has provoked the hostility of the Arabs, and they are all in league against us. The roads have become impassable so that our families are in want and privation, and we and our families are in great distress.’ Ka’b answered, `By God, I kept telling you, O Ibn Salama, that the things I warned you of would happen.’ Silkan said to him, ‘I want you to sell us food and we will give you a pledge of security and you deal generously in the matter.’ He replied, Will you give me your sons as a pledge?’ He said, ‘You want to insult us. I have friends who share my opinion and I want to bring them to you so that you may sell to them and act generously, and we will give you enough weapons for a good pledge.’ Silkan’s object was that he should not take alarm at the sight of weapons when they brought them. Ka’b answered, ‘Weapons are a good pledge.’ Thereupon Silkan returned to his companions, told them what had happened, and ordered them to take their arms. Then they went away and assembled with him and met the apostle (576).

While paying attention to the ‘history’ captured by Ibn Ishaq that is a ‘definite’ and ‘authentic’ source for this documentary, also please note the ridiculousness of details as if being captured by an iPhone of the onlooker and that Ibn Ishaq is even privy to bedroom talk and interaction of the Jewish couple:

Thaur b. Zayd from ‘Ikrima from Ibn ‘Abbas told me the apostle walked with them as far as Baqi u’l-Glharqad. Then he sent them off, saying, `Go in God’s name ; O God help them.’ So saying, he returned to his house. Now it was a moonlight night and they journeyed on until they came to his castle, and Abu Na’ila called out to him. He had only recently married, and he jumped up in the bed sheet, and his wife took hold of the end of it and said, ‘You are at war, and those who are at war do not go out at this hour.’ He replied, ‘It is Abu Naila. Had he found me sleeping he would not have woken me.’ She answered, ‘By God, I can feel evil in his voice.’ Ka’b answered, ‘Even if the call were for a stab a brave man must answer it.’ So he went down and talked to them for some time, while they conversed with him. Then Abu Na’ila said, ‘Would you like to walk with us to Shi’b al-Ajuz, so that we can talk for the rest of the night? ‘If you like,’ he answered, so they went off walking together; and after a time Abu Na’ila ran his hand through his hair. Then he smelt his hand, and said, ‘I have never smelt a scent finer than this.’ They walked on farther and he did the same so that Ka’b suspected no evil. Then after a space he did it for the third time, and cried, ‘Smite the enemy of God!’ So they smote him, and, their swords clashed over him with no effect. Muhammad b. Maslama said, ‘I remembered my dagger when I saw that our swords were useless, and I seized it. Meanwhile the enemy of God had made such a noise that every fort around us was showing a light. I thrust it into the lower part of his body, then I bore down upon it until I reached his genitals, and the enemy of God fell to the ground. Al-Harith had been hurt, being wounded either in his head or in his foot, one of our swords having struck him. We went away, passing by the B. Umayya b. Zayd and then the B. Qurayza and then Bu’ath until we went up the Harra of al-Urayd. {fn: Harra is a district of black volcanic stone and Urayd is one of the valleys of Medina.} Our friend al-Harith had lagged behind, weakened by loss of blood, so we waited for him for some time until he came up, following our tracks. We carried him and brought him to the apostle at the end of the night. We saluted him as he stood praying, and he came out to us, and we told him that we had killed God’s enemy. He spat upon our comrade’s wounds, and both he and we returned to our families. Our attack upon God’s enemy cast terror among the Jews, and there was no Jew in Medina who did not fear for his life.‘ {fn: A photograph of the ruins of Ka’b’s castle is given in The Islamic Review, Sept. 1953, p. 12. There Dr. M. Hamidullah writes: ‘Towards the south [of Medina] in the eastern lava plain near Wadi Mudhanib, there is a small hillock. On this the walls of the palace of Ka’b Ibn al-Ashraf still stand, about a yard or a yard and a quarter in height, built of stone. Inside the palace there is a well…. In front of the palace, on the base of the hillock, there are rims of a big cistern of water, built of lime and divided into several sections, each connected with the other by means of clay pipes.’} [see this pdf link]

Though Ibn Ishaq mentions names of his sources below, but one has to ask as to who are they to begin with?

Ka`b b. Malik said:

Of them Ka’b was left prostrate there
(After his fall al-Nadir were brought low).
Sword in hand we cut him down
By Muhammad’s order when he sent secretly by night
Ka’b’s brother to go to Ka’b.
He beguiled him and brought him down with guile
Mahmud was trustworthy, bold (577).

Hassan b. Thabit, mentioning the killing of Ka’b and of Sallam b. Abu’l-Huqayq, said:

What a fine band you met, O Ibnu’l-Huqayq,
And you too, Ibnu’l-Ashraf,
Travelling by night with their light swords
Bold as lions in their jungle lair
Until they came to you in your quarter
And made you taste death with their deadly swords,
Seeking victory for the religion of their prophet
Counting their lives and wealth as nothing (578).

Even a superficial read of the narrative above about Ka’b bin Ashraf proves that it is nothing but a dramatic tale that tries to mesmerize and captivate the coin flinging audience to the storyteller where the storyteller is creating imagery by poetry, dialogue, expressions, emotions and details of which is just impossible to have been captured in history hundreds of years after the event. The narrative by Ibn Ishaq is clearly synthetic and product of a storytelling tradition. It is shameful that the documentary calls such an ink on paper as history.

Sorry Spencers of the documentary, your claims against Islam and the Prophet are as bogus as your sources of history.


{fn: footnotes in the original book are incorporated into the body of the text above, bound by curly braces}

Manual of Hadith – by Muhammad Ali
Ibn Ishaq – Wikipedia
Ibn Hisham – Wikipedia
Qissa Khawani Bazaar – Wikipedia
In The Footsteps Of Alexander The Great [BBC] – Son of God (2/4) – YouTube
Sirat Rasul Allah – The Life of Muhammad by A. Guillaume – Internet Archive
The Islamic Review, Sept. 1953 –
Holy Quran – Muhammad Ali, edited by Zahid Aziz

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