Against Scholar Hasan Mahmud’s claim that “the Prophet even did not use bad words toward them (apostates)”, Muhammad had, clearly, ordered the killing of every apostate, who came within his power. And he desperately wanted that those apostates were successfully executed.
[Read the first part of this article: What the Quran Says about the Apostates of Islam? "Just Kill Them"]
Muhammad’s dealing with apostates in the hadith
Scholar Hasan Mahmud claims: Not a single hadith gives evidence of killing apostates
Scholar of Islam Hasan Mahmud, who rejects opinions on Islam of the greatest Islamic scholars in history, claims that he had thorough read all of the 23,000 Sunni hadiths and another 16,000 Shia hadiths, and none of them give specific evidence of killing apostates (see the video). He makes similar claim about the Sira (see below).
Bizarre claim! This can only happen if one reads the collections of hadiths with her/his eyes closed and mind disabled. Many authors have listed the hadiths that commands the killing of apostates and incidents of killing them. So, I will not spend too much time on the hadiths in this article. I will spend more time on the evidence of Muhammad’s order to kill his apostatized disciples and the incidents of killing them under his supervision as described in the Prophet’s biography (Sira).
Below are two hadiths that gives clear evidence that Muhammad commanded the killing apostates:
Bukhari 52:260: "...The Prophet said, 'If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.'"
Bukhari 83:37: "Allah's Apostle never killed anyone except in one of the following three situations: (1) A person who killed somebody unjustly, was killed (in Qisas), (2) a married person who committed illegal sexual intercourse, and (3) a man who fought against Allah and His Apostle, and deserted Islam and became an apostate."
When Ibn Warraq quoted the first hadith (Bukhari 52:260) in the debate – "Kill those who change their religion" – Scholar Mahmud retorted: "whoever changes his religion from Judaism and Christianity to Islam, kill them too?"
What a senile way of doing a debate! Muhammad founded a new religion and was inviting everybody from other religions to join Islam. In this context, when Muhammad said, "Kill those who change their religion", even the stupidest person in the whole world would know that Muhammad was talking about a Muslim’s changing of her/his religion from Islam to another. Is scholar Mahmud suggesting that Muhammad was inviting Christians and Jews to embrace Islam for killing them after they embrace Islam? Either Scholar Mahmud is senile, or his beloved prophet was senile.
Here is one hadith, which describes Muhammad’s disciple Mu’adh bin Jabal’s killing of one Muslim for reverting to Judaism based on the "judgment of Allah and His Apostle":
Bukhari 9:84:58: Narrated Abu Burda: “…The Prophet then sent Mu'adh bin Jabal after him and when Mu'adh reached him, he spread out a cushion for him and requested him to get down (and sit on the cushion). Behold: There was a fettered man beside Abu Muisa. Mu'adh asked, "Who is this (man)?" Abu Muisa said, "He was a Jew and became a Muslim and then reverted back to Judaism." Then Abu Muisa requested Mu'adh to sit down but Mu'adh said, "I will not sit down till he has been killed. This is the judgment of Allah and His Apostle (for such cases) and repeated it thrice. Then Abu Musa ordered that the man be killed, and he was killed..."
There are numerous more hadiths, referring to the prophet’s command of killing the apostates of Islam, and the incidents of killing them as per the command of Muhammad and Allah, which can be read in this article: Punishment of Apostates in Islam is Death by Beheading.
Muhammad’s dealing apostates in the Sira
Scholar Hasan Mahmud claims: Prophet Muhammad Let Apostates Go Scot-free
In the debate with Ibn Warraq, scholar Hasan Mahmud, referring to Ibn Ishaq’s Sira of the Prophet, says:
We have four cases of apostasy in front of Prophet in his life-time... Abdullah bin Sa’d, Al-Harith, and Ubaidullah. These three persons left Islam in prophet’s time, and prophet did not put them to death, did not punish them in anyway, even prophet did not use bad words toward them.
These are probably the biggest lies ever told, because Prophet Muhammad had ordered the killing each of his apostatized disciples that came within his power, including these apostates cited by Scholar Mahmud.
It should be mentioned beforehand that there were hardly any typical apostate amongst Muhammad’s disciple, who chose to leave it, because they didn’t like it. A few cases of apostasy amongst Muhammad’s disciples that we know were actually forced by circumstances, namely they made a grievous mistake for which Muhammad would have killed them. So, they ran away in trying to save their life; they didn’t leave Islam because of their dislike of it.
Here are five cases of apostasy cited in Ibn Ishaq’s Sira, and three of them has been mentioned by Scholar Mahmud:
1) Abdullah b. Sa'd: Abdullah b. Sa’d is the most well-known amongst the few of Muhammad’s apostatized disciples. He had emigrated with Muhammad to Medina, and acted his secretary for writing down the revelations. According to Ali Dasti, Dashti (Twenty Three Years, p. 98):
[Abdullah] had been one of the scribes employed at Medina to write down the 'revelations'. On a number of occasions, with Muhammad's consent, he changed the closing words of verses. For example, when Muhammad said "And God is mighty and wise", Abdullah Sarh suggested 'knowing and wise', and the prophet answered that there was no objection. Having observed a succession of changes of this type, Abdullah renounced Islam on the ground that the revelations, if from God, could not be changed at the prompting of a scribe such as himself. After his apostasy, he went to Mecca and joined the Qorayshites.
So, Abdullah’s was a classic case of apostasy under Muhammad, because he understood the falsity of Muhammad’s revelations, and left Islam. And immediately, he fled to Mecca to be safe from Muhammad’s punishment. And how did Muhammad deal with him when he fell into his power on the day of the conquest of Mecca? Let us here it from Ibn Ishaq’s Sira, which Mr. Mahmud has used as his sources:
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 Ka'ba. Among them was 'Abdullah b. Sa'd, brother of the B. 'Amir b. Lu'ayy. The reason he ordered him to be killed was that he had been a Muslim and used to write down revelation; then he apostatized and returned to Quraysh… (The Life of Muhammad, Karachi, p. 550).
However, Muhammad desperate wanted to have him killed, but could not due to intervention of his son-in-law Uthman, the third caliph of Islam, who was Abdullah’s foster brother. Ibn Ishaq’s following account makes Muhammad’s desperate intention crystal clear (p. 550):
…[Abdullah] fled to Uthman b. Affan whose foster-brother he was: The latter hid him until he brought him to the apostle after the situation in Mecca was tranquil, and asked that he might be granted immunity. They allege that the apostle remained silent for a long time till finally he said yes. When Uthman had left, he [Muhammad] said to his companions who were sitting around him, 'I kept silent so that one of you might get up and strike off his head!' One of the Ansar said, ‘Then why didn't you give me a sign, O apostle of God’. He answered that a prophet does not kill by pointing.
2) Abdullah b. Khatal: Abdullah b. Khatal (not mentioned by Mr. Mahmud) was another disciple of Muhammad, who had apostatized. Once, Muhammad had sent him, along with an ansar and a slave to collect "poor tax" (zakaat). On the way, they halted, and "he ordered the slave to kill a goat for him and prepare some food, and went to sleep." When he woke up, he found that the slave had not prepared any food, and out of anger, hungry Abdullah bin Khatal killed the slave. And knowing how Muhammad will deal with him for killing the slave, who was Muslim, he fled to Meccan and thus he became an apostatized.
So, Abdullah bin Khatal was not a classic case of apostasy, i.e. he didn’t leave Islam because of his dislike for it. He made a grievous mistake, and in fear that Muhammad would kill him, he left Muhammad’s camp. And Abdullah bin Khatal was among those Muhammad had ordered to be killed on the day of capturing Mecca. His two singing-girls, Fartana and her friend, were also ordered to be killed, because they used to sing satirical songs about the apostle. Abdullah b. Khatal was killed by Sa'id b. Hurayth al-Makhzumi and Abu Barza al-Aslami acting together. One of his singing-girls was also killed; the other girl could escape and was later pardoned. (Ibn Ishaq, p. 551)
3) Miqyas b. Hubaba: Miqyas was another of Muhammad’s disciples (not mentioned by Mr. Mahmud), who had turned apostate, but not out of his own choice. He killed an Ansari as revenge, because that Ansari had killed his brother. And he too had to flee to the Quraysh, fearing that Muhammad would kill him. So, Miqyas also did not leave Islam, because he disliked it. And his name was in the list of those Muhammad had ordered to be killed upon capturing Mecca. Muhammad disciple Numayla b. Abdullah killed Miqyas, and his sister wrote (Ibn Ishaq, p. 551):
By my life, Numayla shamed his people
And distressed the winter guests when he slew Miqyas.
Whoever has seen a man like Miqyas
Who provided food for young mothers in hard times.
So, Miqyas was a kind and generous person, who made a mistake, which had some justification, but Muhammad did not forgive him. He was killed as per Muhammad's order.
4) Al-Harith b. Suwayd b. Samit: Al-Harith was a disciple of Muhammad (i.e. an ansar), who, joining Muhammad's party in the Battle of Uhud, killed two Muslims, named al-Mujadhdhar b. Dhiyad al-Balawi and Qays b. Zayd. He did this as revenge, because al-Mujadhdhar had earlier killed his father (it seems Qays was targeted, but got killed by mistake). And knowing that Muhammad will kill him for killing another Muslim, although he had some justification for committing the crime, he immediately fled to Mecca. Let’s hear from Ibn Ishaq about how Muhammad dealt with him? (p. 384):
Now the apostle, as they say, had ordered Umar to kill him [Al-Harith], if he got the better of him, but he escaped him and was in Mecca.
Scholar Hasan Mahmud says, concerning the case of Al-Harith’s apostasy, verse 3:86 was revealed, which says:
"How can God guide a people who have disbelieved after their belief, and after that they have testified that the apostle is true and proofs have been given to them. God will not guide an evil people.”
Mr. Mahmud claims that Allah only expressed His frustration in this verse, but didn't command his killing.
Scholar Mahmud is wrong again. We have to understand that Muhammad had already ordered Al-Harith's killing before this verse was revealed. After this order to kill him, Ibn Ishaq, on the authority of Ibn Abbas, says that Al-Harith sent his brother al-Julas to the Prophet informing of his repentance and seeking his forgiveness, so that he might return to Muhammad's community (So, Al-Harith never really left Islam in effect). And, to his, God sent down verse 3:86. If one reads Allah’s words in verse 3:86, bearing in mind that Muhammad had already order Al-Harith’s killing, Allah clearly did not forgive him. Instead, Allah only justified Muhammad’s order of killing him by refusing to guide him back to Islam in saying "How can God guide a people who have disbelieved after their belief” and that "God will not guide an evil people.” The verse clearly says that Allah refused to forgive him and accept him back as a Muslim. That means, Allah held Muhammad’s order to killing him valid in verse 3:86.
5) Ubaydullah b. Jahsh: Ubaydullah, husband of Abu Sufian's daughter Umm Habiba, was the fifth apostate among Muhammad’s disciples. He, along with Umm Habiba, went to exile in Abyssinia (Ethiopia) in 615. It is there in Abyssinia that he was impressed by the Christian faith, embraced it, and died there as a Christian. (Ibn Ishaq, p. 527)
Ubaydullah was the only apostate, whom Muhammad did not order to be killed. And expecting the same is also stupidity for a number of reasons: 1) Ubaydullah was living in a far-away country, and he died there even before Muhammad's military power had been firmly established; 2) Muhammad needed a safe haven for his emigrated disciples there, many of whom stayed there until 628, and Ubaydullah had died before that; 3) Abyssinia was also a very powerful kingdom, which Muslim could never conquer, despite its close proximity to the Arab Peninsula.
Nonetheless, Ubaydullah's conversion to Christianity seemed to have angered Muhammad, and he tried to relieve it somewhat by adding his wife Umm Habiba into his harem, who returned after Ubaydullah's conversion to Christianity turned their marriage null and void. Muhammad also added Ubaydullah sister Zanab bte Jahsh to his harem, for which he even had to break Allah's earlier command of four wives per Muslim, as his harem already had four.
Let me sum up Muhammad's dealing with his apostatized disciples. Against Scholar Hasan Mahmud's claim that “the Prophet even did not use bad words toward them (apostates)”, Muhammad had, clearly, ordered the killing of every apostate, who came within his power. And he desperately wanted that those apostates were successfully executed. It is beyond my comprehension: How decent people, such as scholar Hasan Mahmud, could engage in lying and deceiving so nakedly and so shamelessly, when it comes to defending Islam.
In the first part of this article, What the Quran Says about the Apostates of Islam? "Just Kill Them", I shown conclusively that when Islam became powerful, Allah commanded clearly and unequivocally to kill the apostates of Islam. In this part, we see that Muhammad made desperate efforts to kill each of his disciples, who had apostatized. So, Allah commanded killing the apostates, Muhammad executed the command with utmost sincerity.
M A Khan is the author of Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Forced Conversion, Imperialism and Slavery.
written by The Fog Horn , April 13, 2012
written by Editor, M A Khan , April 15, 2012