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Charbonnier
"I’d rather die standing up
than live on my knees."
Stephane Charbonnier
(1967-2015)




Myths of Muhammad

The Myth:

Muhammad Never
 Took Revenge


"Our Prophet (peace be upon him) never avenged anyone for his own sake."

The Truth:

For a man who "never" took revenge, there certainly are a curious number of bodies piled up around the prophet of Islam:
...“Ka’ab bin Al Ashraf used to satire the Prophet and incited the infidels of the Quraish against him... They used to hurt the Prophet and his Companions... When Ka’ab bin Al Ashraf refused to desist from hurting the Prophet the Prophet ordered Sa’d bin Mu’adh to send a band to kill him... When they killed him, the Jews and the polytheist were frightened... (Abu Dawud 3000)
and
Abu Afak was one of the B. Amr b. Auf of the B. Ubayda clan. He showed his disaffection when the apostle killed al-Harith b. Suwayd b. Samit... The apostle said, "Who will deal with this rascal for me?" Whereupon Salim b. Umayr, brother of B. Amr b. Auf, one of the "weepers", went forth and killed him. (Ibn Ishaq 995)
and
She [Asma bint Marwan] was of B. Umayyya b. Zayd. When Abu Afak had been killed she displayed disaffection... Blaming Islam and its followers she said: "I despise B. Malik and al-Nabit and Auf and B. al-Khazraj. You obey a stranger who is none of yours... Do you expect good from him after the killing of your chiefs?"...
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. (Ibn Ishaq 996)
These were three poets murdered on Muhammad's order for having criticized him (usually for having murdered someone else).  These examples seem to argue against the two or three hadith in which someone says that Muhammad "never took revenge."

A closer look at the hadith verses shows that they read more like editorial opinion than journalistic fact.  Even so, there is a gaping loophole:
The Messenger of Allah never took revenge on his own behalf for anything unless something Allah had forbidden has been transgressed, in which event he took revenge for it for Allah’s sake. (Abu Dawud 4767
So, Muhammad actually did take revenge, when it was "for Allah's sake!"  Lets see how this works in practice by looking at the life and death of Uqba, a member of the Quraish tribe in Mecca.

Uqba was said to have mocked Muhammad by throwing camel entrails onto his back when he was praying.  Pay attention to Muhammad's response:
While Allah's Messenger was praying beside the Ka`ba, there were some Quraish people sitting in a gathering. One of them said, 'Don't you see this (who does deeds just to show off)? Who amongst you can go and bring the dung, blood and the Abdominal contents (intestines, etc.) of the slaughtered camels of the family of so and so and then wait till he prostrates and put that in between his shoulders?' The most unfortunate amongst them (`Uqba bin Abi Mu'ait) went (and brought them) and when Allah's Messenger prostrated, he put them between his shoulders. The Prophet remained in prostration and they laughed so much so that they fell on each other...
When Allah's Messenger completed his prayer, he said, 'O Allah! Take revenge on Quraish.' He said so thrice and added, 'O Allah! take revenge on...`Uqba bin Abi Mu'ait... (Sahih Bukhari 9:499)
Here, Muhammad is the victim of a humiliating practical joke at a time when he does not have the power to retaliate (as he later does when he has poets murdered).  Instead, he calls down "Allah's revenge".  So, what form does Allah's revenge take?  A lightening bolt?  An unfortunate accident, perhaps? 

None of the above.  Here is what eventually happened to Uqba:
The polytheist captives were with the Messenger of God [Muhammad]...  Among the captives were 'Uqba b. Abi Mu'ayt... When the Messenger of God ordered him to be killed, 'Uqba said, "Who will look after my children, Muhammad?" 'Hellfire," Muhammad replied. (Tabari v7 p.66, Abu Dawud 2686)
As shown, Uqba is brought to Muhammad as a defenseless captive, whereupon the thin-skinned prophet of Islam orders his execution.

Surely Allah works in mysterious ways!

"Taking revenge for Allah's sake" is a bit nebulous.  Is Allah not capable of taking his own revenge?  What's up with that?

To complicate matters, Allah always speaks through Muhammad... nothing suspicious there... and even ties Muhammad's honor to his own:
The Quran says: "Lo! those who malign Allah and His messenger, Allah has cursed them in this world and the Hereafter, and has prepared for them the doom of the disdained... "Accursed, they will be seized wherever found and slain with a (fierce) slaughter." (33:57-61)
Thus, Muhammad says that he has special status from Allah and that anyone who maligns him is to be seized and slaughtered.  Clearly the notion that he "never took revenge for his own sake" is a disingenuous word game.

Further Reading:

 

Myths of Muhammad Index

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