The following comments are a rebuttal to the documentary aired nation-wide on PBS, which can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RMQhmOcWAs. It was obvious to anyone who watched that show that the narrative was slanted to present Islam and its prophet as the champions of peace and brotherhood among all mankind. The few times that opposing views were introduced into the TV series, the narrator dismissed them as controversial or misunderstandings of Islam. Non-Muslims need to become aware of the extent to which Islamists distort their own history and sacred documents to make Islam appear to be something that stands in stark contrast to the violence and intolerance displayed by devout followers of Islam and Muhammad in the media every day.
Episode 1 – The Seeker
For a prophet seeking the truth about God, this segment was filled with numerous false statements and distortions. Here are just a couple of gross distortions that were made in the narration:
- The documentary made a big deal of the Quran coming directly from Allah with no interpretation by man. However, they showed texts of the Quran with diacritical markings. Those were not in the original. A copy of the original Quran was shown briefly after the scene where Robert Spencer appears. That text had no diacritical markings. What this means is that "someone" interjected those markings into the "original" Quran to designate whether a particular letter was a "b" or a "p" or a "t”. There is no consensus on those determinations, which means that today there are something like 65 different versions of the Quran merely because different diacritical markings were applied to the original Quran by different scholars. For this reason the Quran is no more "pure" than the Torah or the New Testament.
- Several people in the documentary quoted the verse in the Quran that states that "There is no compulsion in religion." (2:256) However, there was no mention of a later verse that abrogated that statement: "Are they seeking a religion other than Allah's, when every soul in the heavens and the earth has sub mitted to Him, willingly or by compulsion? (3:83) Surah 2 was received in the first two years when Mohammed was in Medina. Surah 3 was received in the third or later years – once Mohammed got his army together.
- The biggest falsehood in the documentary was the denial that the incident where Mohammed conceded to endorse the Quraysh gods of al-Lat, al-Uzza, and Manat was ever mentioned in Ibn Ishaq's biography of Mohammed. The incident is described on page 165 (paragraph T. 1192). This paragraph number refers to Al Tabari's History, Volume VI, paragraph 1192. Al Tabari received a copy of the entire biography from Ibn Isahaq, so anything Al-Tabari wrote was clearly in the original document. Ibn Hasham, who finalized Ishaq's biography of Mohammed, states in his notes, "For the sake of brevity [he omitted things that had nothing to do with Mohammed and] things which it is disgraceful to discuss; matters which would distress certain people." The Satanic verses were also mentioned in the Quran in Surah 53:1-20. The documentary states that Muslims are insulted when non-Muslims perpetrate this falsehood about Satanic Verses to discredit Muslims. The truth is, this is part of their history, and they need to own up to it.
Episode 2 – Holy Wars
A more appropriate title for this segment would have been, "The Origins of Muslim Anti-Semitism." The documentary begins with Mohammad's miraculous night journey to Jerusalem. While the narration of the documentary makes it clear that this was a "spiritual" journey instead of a physical journey, this vision has become the basis of claiming that Jerusalem is the third most holy city in Islam. Never mind that Jerusalem is not mentioned by name even once in the Quran (Surah 17.1), while it is specified 850 times in the Old Testament alone as the home of the Jews. (See also the statements in the Quran that Israel is the land of the Jews in Surah 5:21 and 17:104)
The documentary insists that the conflict between Muslims and Jews is simply a dispute over LAND, nothing else. The hypocrisy of this statement is best illustrated by the map below which compares today's Muslim land vs. Israel's land:
The Mohammed documentary makes a big deal about the equality that Christians and Jews shared with the Muslims of Medina under the “Constitution of Medina,” but the more important agreement was the secret Second Pledge of Al-Aqba in which the Muslims of Medina united as “men of war” against the non-Muslims. Even though there were three Jewish tribes in Medina, Mohammed chose his twelve leaders only from the two non-Jewish tribes. (Ibn Ishaq, para. 297) Later, the Muslims rescinded the Constitution of Medina on the pretext that the Jews had violated it. (See Surahs 9:12 and 9:123)
Another false claim in the documentary was that the Meccans were persecuting the Muslims in Medina. The opposite was true. The Muslims were raiding the passing Meccan caravans for booty. The first raid at Nakhla occurred during the sacred month when no such raids were allowed by custom. But then Mohammed received a revelation that “persecution is worse than slaughter.” (Ibn Ishaq, para. 426 and Surah 2:191) This became the basic justification for all future Muslim aggression. The Meccans later tried to suppress Mohammed and his Muslim bandits, but it was only AFTER the Muslim raids on caravans had become a menace to the Meccan commerce. While Robert Spencer is given a minute in the documentary to explain that this Nakhla incident led to an Islamic culture that is aggressive, Tariq Ramadan (the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna) countered with the Islamist view that Muslims have the right of self-defense. Yes, we see these “defensive” bombings and terror attacks all around the world, usually Muslim-on-Muslim violence.
The final part if this segment of the documentary is about the systematic banishment of all Jews from Medina, ending with the beheading of 600 to 900 Jewish men of the Banu Qurayza tribe in the market square of Medina. On camera, Tariq Ramadan pronounces a bold-faced lie, “It had nothing to do with the fact that they were Jews. Anti-Semitism is against our religion. The Jews are our brothers and sisters in faith and humanity.” The biography of Mohammed by Ibn. Ishaq offers some inconvenient facts that Tariq Ramadan seemed to have forgotten: 1) There were no specific charges against the tribe, but only rumors of their disloyalty. (para. 683); 2) During the twenty-five night siege of the Banu Qurayza, Mohammed shouted at them, “You brothers of monkeys!” (para. 684); 3) The Jews were offered amnesty if they converted to Islam, but they refused. (para. 686); and 4) Mohammed, on his deathbed, made his final will, which was, “Let not two religions be left in the Arabian peninsula.” (page 689 –T. 1834)
In view of the gross distortion of Islam’s relationship with Jews in the documentary, it is instructive to read former Muslim Nonie Darwish’s explanation of the Islamists’ dilemma in her book, “The Devil We Don’t Know”:
The Islamic cause is a deceptive and convoluted goal that must hide its true intent, which is to eliminate an entire group of people, the Jews, for no reason other than that they are Jews. . . No prophet documented in the history of man, except Mohammed, has ever committed mass genocide. Mohammed’s honor was stained, not by the Jews, but by Mohammed’s own behavior toward them. . . Anti-Semitism originated with Islam. . . . [T]o obtain legitimacy, [Mohammad] linked [Islam] to the two previous Abrahamic religions, Judaism and Christianity. . . Still, the Jews refused to take Mohammed as their Messiah and pointed to his lack of knowledge and mistakes in his understanding of the Bible. Mohammed was devastated and could not control his anger, envy, and wish to punish them for humiliating him. . . The rejection of the Jews reinforced his [own] tribe’s belief that he was a fraud. . . The mass genocide committed by Mohammed was reported in Muslims scriptures not as a sin or as something to be ashamed of, but as a justifiable deed. . . The message of Islam became, “We do not coexist, we replace.” . . . Islam has an existential problem. . . Mohammed and Muslims had two choices: either the Jews are evil sub-humans, apes, pigs, and enemies of Allah, a common description of Jews still heard regularly in Middle Eastern mosques today, or Mohammed was a genocidal warlord and not fit to be a prophet of God, a choice that would mean the end of Islam. Then and now, Mohammed and Muslims clearly chose the first worldview and decreed that any hint of the second must be severely punished. Jews must remain eternally evil enemies of Islam, if Islam is to remain legitimate. (pages 99-110)
Episode 3 – Holy Peace -- A better title for this episode would have been, “Holy Crap!” There is such a big discrepancy between the present-day reality of Islamic terrorism and intolerance and the image the documentary wanted to portray of a moral and peaceful Muhammad that it took a major search by Central Casting to find two Muslims who could face the camera and tell lies that everyone, including Muslims, knows are untrue. The principal takiyya artists were the documentary’s narrator, Rageh Omar, and the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brothernood, Tarek Ramadan. Here are the principal lies told in the documentary about Muhammad, along with the actual statements from Ibn Ishaq’s authoritative biography of Muhammad and Sharia Law:
- Muhammad developed a moral code, called Sharia Law, that was based on social justice for all including brotherhood, justice, equality, and freedom.
Reliance of the Traveler, the classic manual of Sharia Law, states that women and non-Muslims do not have the same inheritance rights as men or Muslims (See L1.0, L5.2, L6.7)
Muslim women may not marry non-Muslim men (m6.7(5)), or men of a different social class (m4.2(3)), and a non-Arab man may not marry an Arab woman regardless of religion (m4.2(1))
Killing an apostate form Islam is without consequences (o2.0(3))
A father or mother (or their fathers or mothers) are not held accountable for killing their offspring or their offspring’s offspring (o2.0(4))
- Only elected leaders can implement Sharia Law, so any imposition of Sharia Law by imams or individual Muslims is invalid.
Reliance of the Traveler states that Muslims are obligated to discipline others. If censuring with harsh words, breaking things, or intimidation do not work, Muslims are obligated “to directly hit or kick the person, or use similar measures that do not involve weapons.” (Section q5.8)
- Muhammad didn’t marry Aisha until she was 16 or 18
Narrated Aisha: The Prophet engaged me when I was a girl of six (years). We went to Medina and stayed at the home of Bani-al-Harith bin Khazraj. Then I got ill and my hair fell down. Later on my hair grew (again) and my mother, Um Ruman, came to me while I was playing in a swing with some of my girlfriends. She called me, and I went to her, not knowing what she wanted to do to me. She caught me by the hand and made me stand at the door of the house. I was breathless then, and when my breathing became alright, she took some water and rubbed my face and head with it. Then she took me into the house. There in the house I saw some Ansari women who said, "Best wishes and Allah's Blessing and a good luck." Then she entrusted me to them and they prepared me (for the marriage). Unexpectedly Allah's Apostle came to me in the forenoon and my mother handed me over to him, and at that time I was a girl of nine years of age. (Sahih Bukhari 5:58:234)
- Muhammad had many wives in order to form tribal alliances.
Of the 20 wives and concubines that Muhammad had, only three could be considered “strategic” -- Aisha, Umm Habiba and Maymuna. The rest were for other reasons – Khadija (economic ?), Sauda (widow of an early convert), Hafsa (war widow), Rayhana (war widow), Juwayriyya (Jewess war booty), Zaynab (wife of Muhammad’s adopted son), Safiyya (Jewess war booty), Asma (trophy wife from siege of Mecca, marriage not consummated); Fatima (marriage not consummated); Mariya (Coptic slave who bore Mohammed a son), Omm Shaik (gave herself to Muhammad for sex), Maymuna (gave herself to Muhammad for sex), Zaynam (gave herself to Muhammad for sex), Amra (marriage not consummated)
- Islam has been falsely accused of requiring stoning for adultery. The Quran only stipulates 100 lashes. (Surah 14:2)
Reliance of the Traveler calls for the stoning of adulterers in section o12.2. This is supported by many reliable hadith, including the following:
A woman belonging to the tribe of Juhaynah was brought to the Prophet and said that she had committed fornication and that she was pregnant. The Apostle of Allah called her guardian. Then the Apostle of Allah said to him: Be good to her, and when she bears a child, bring her(to me). When she gave birth to the child, he brought her (to him).The Prophet gave orders regarding her, and her clothes were tied to her. He then commanded regarding her and she was stoned to death! (hadith of Abu-Dawud, Book 38, Number 4356)
- The Treaty of Al-Hudaybiya was a gesture of Muhammad’s peaceful intent with the Quraysh of Mecca.
Ibn. Ishaq’s biography makes it clear that this was 10 year treaty to “lay aside war” and to return people who joined Muslims without the permission of their guardians. But Muhammad received a revelation (Surah 60:10) that allowed the Muslims to violate the treaty. (Ishaq, para. 748) The next year Muhammad invaded Mecca with 12,000 armed men who were instructed to fight only those who resisted. Several Meccans were murdered because they had apostatized or insulted Muhammad when he was in Mecca. (Ishaq, para 819) All of the idols and images in the Ka’ba were collected and burned or broken up. (Ishaq, page 552) Hudaybiya became the precedent for making short term treaties when Muslims are weak so that they have the ability to re-arm or make alliances to become more powerful. Reliance of the Traveler states, “If Muslims are weak, a truce may be made for ten years if necessary.” (para o9.16) Palestinian Yasser Arafat was notorious for making truces with Israel when he was overpowered, only to break them as soon as he felt he was stronger. (See http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2002/10/back-in-the-news-the-treaty-of-hudaybiya )
- Within 100 years after Muhammad’s death, his message spread across the world. He succeeded through peace and not through war.
The advance of Islam had nothing to do with the “message” of Islam, but rather the “sword’ of Islam. There was no Quran until much later. This is eloquently stated by Sayyid Qutub in his commentary on the commands to fight the non-believers in Surah 9, the Quran’s final major Surah:
Thus the final outcome [of Mohammed’s mission] is the termination of all treaties with unbelievers in the Arabian Peninsula, and an end to very concept of having a treaty with idolaters. . . Stage after stage and event after event, it was practically demonstrated that it was impossible to achieve coexistence between two diametrically opposed ways of life with such deep-rooted and fundamental differences that affect every detail of concepts, beliefs, moral values, social behavior, as well as social, economic and political structures. . . [After the expiration of the four month grace period in Surah 9:5], All people in Arabia would then be in a state of war with the Muslims unless they believed in Allah and his Messenger. The whole Arab population of Arabia became Muslims and none continued with their old religion. (In the Shade of the Quran, Vol. VIII, page 37-40)
- Muhammad left Arabia a better place than he found it.
Yes, because of all the booty that was taken from neighboring countries by his Islamic bandits. Muhammad got 20 percent of the spoils of war, so he threatened the neighboring countries and rulers with war if they did not “submit” to him. He also extracted a dhimmi tax from Christians and Jews which added to the Islamic coffers. Inside the Arabian Peninsula, all other religions were outlawed and banished. Muhammad was a thief, a murderer, and a child rapist. Unfortunately the PBS documentary left viewers with the impression that he was a model of humanity, kindness, and love for all mankind. If he were walking the streets of any civilized nation today, he would be arrested.
Concluding Remarks – Denial of Jihad
The PBS documentary on Mohammed closed with factitious attempt to explain away the violence and turmoil caused by Islamists today. The “verse of the sword” (Surah 9:5) was disavowed. Tariq Ramadan said that verse had to be contextualized, and it applied only to that period. The fact of the matter, however, is that Surah 9 was the final will and testament of Mohammed, and it was last major chapter in the Quran. The language of the Surah is not time-specific. For example, Surah 9:122 states, “It is not right that all the faithful should go to war at once. A band from each community should stay behind to instruct themselves in religion and to admonish their men when they return [abandoning the fight], so that they may take heed.” That process of going to war and training others is perpetual.
Furthermore, according to the documentary, Jihad does not mean “holy war.” The narrator, Rageh Omar, claimed that Jihad is merely striving to improve oneself in the eyes of God. Perhaps he forgot what Reliance of the Traveler states in paragraph o9.0 – “Jihad means to war against non-Muslims and is etymologically derived from the word mujahada, signifying warfare to establish religion.” Paragraph o9.0 explains that the objective is to “make war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians until they become Muslim or else pay the non-Muslim poll tax.” Section o9.10 says, “It is not permissible in jihad to kill women or children unless they are fighting against the Muslims.” (See the later discussion as to how that ruling is applied.) Finally, paragraph 09.13 states, “When a child or a woman is taken captive, they become slaves by the fact of capture, and the woman’s previous marriage is immediately annulled.”
The word “jihad” (strive and its derivatives) occurs 59 times in the Quran. Forty-three of the instances include an object – strive against someone or something. Only sixteen instances could be construed as self-improvement with no object specified. For example, how could the following command from Surah 9:41 be anything but militant fighting? – “Whether unarmed or well-equipped, march on and strive [jihad] for the cause of Allah, with your wealth and with your persons.”
The documentary used a cynical ploy to indict all non-Muslims as enemies of Islam without having to reference the clear commands in the Quran and Sharia Law. The narrator of the documentary interviewed two Muslim ex-convicts about their views on Islamic terrorism. (Why not interview an imam or a religious scholar?) The recently-released convicted Islamic terrorists asserted that it is OK to attack civilians because they have elected governments that fought against Islam. They asserted that jihad involves eliminating any opposition to Islam. This is a common con by Islamists who find ways to discredit the jihadists when they are unable to demonstrate by actual, unabrogated verses in the Quran or reliable hadith that jihad is against Islamic ideology.
The documentary made much of Mohammed’s Final Sermon as an eternal statement of peace and equality. According to the narrator, the final sermon sets the agenda for Muslims in the future. Those who have the read final sermon in the early accounts written by Ibn Ishaq or al-Tabari would be hard-pressed to find any similarity between the historical record and the claims in the documentary about peace and equality. Here are the principle statements from Mohammed’s final sermon according to Al-Tabari (History, Vol. IX, paragraphs 1754 and 1755):
- Usury is abolished – this explains why Muslims cannot borrow or lend money for interest – a major cause of the lack of economic development in the Middle East
- All bloodshed in the pre-Islamic days is to be left unavenged – this wiped the slate clean for the past, but Mohammed also asserted that for the future, “your blood and your property are sacrosanct” (See also Surah 2:78-80 regarding retaliation.)
- Intercalculation is an increase of unbelief – this statement established forever the Muslim lunar calendar which is astronomically incorrect by 11 days a year.
- Women should not commit indecency, but God permits men to beat their wives
- “Treat women well, for they are [like] domestic animals with you and do not possess anything for themselves”
- “you have made the enjoyment of [your women’s] persons lawful by the word of God”
- ‘every Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, and all Muslims are brethren.” Islam makes a sharp distinction between Muslims and non-Muslims who are called the “worst of creatures” in Surah 8:57. Muslims are warned against making friendships with non-Muslims (Surah 5:51)
Al-Tabari’s account concludes with a tally of the number of military expeditions Mohammed personally participated in during the last 10 years of his life – the figures varied between eighteen and thirty-five. So much for the peaceful, humanitarian prophet of Islam!
I recommend that non-Muslims take the time to watch the documentary. It is available on YouTube at: http://video.pbs.org/video/2365065552/ We need to be able to discuss with others who have seen it the many ways in which it was pure propaganda. We need to remind people that Sharia Law states that it is OK to lie to advance Islam if it is impossible to advance Islam by telling the truth. (Reliance of the Traveler, para. r8.2) The Islamists are spending a lot of resources promoting a false narrative of Mohammed and the origins of Islam. We must counter that message with the truth. Otherwise, our silence will be seen as approval.