Leaving Islam





Was Falwell Wrong? 

By Ali Sina

During the time of the Prophet Muhammad, there was a young and handsome man who was the chief of his tribe. His name was Ka’b ibn Ashraf. He used to malign the Prophet. He even composed some poetry vilifying the messenger of Allah reciting them in Mecca a town that was hostile to the Prophet. Ibn Ashraf was in fear for his own tribe because he had seen that Muhammad had banished another Jewish tribe, the Bani Qainuqa from Medina after confiscating all their possessions. Muhammad was very much annoyed by Ibn Ashraf’s insolence and one day he addressed his companions and said:

"Who is ready to kill Ka'b bin Ashraf (i.e. a Jew)." Muhammad bin Maslama replied, "Do you like me to kill him?" The Prophet replied in the affirmative. Muhammad bin Maslama said, "Then allow me to say what I like." The Prophet replied, "I do (i.e. allow you)." Bukhari: Volume 4, Book 52, Number 271

Ibn Maslama lied to Ibn Ashraf and treacherously gained his trust, then stabbed him to death. Tabari, the great historian of Islam, reports, (volume 3, p. 1006 Persian edition Entesharat-e Asatir) that the death of Ibn Ashraf threw fear in the hearts of the Jews residing in Medina and the next day the Apostle of Allah said: 

“If you gain a victory over the men of Jews, kill them. So Muhayyisah jumped over Shubaybah, a man of the Jewish merchants. He had close relations with them. He then killed him. At that time Huwayyisah (brother of Muhayyisah) had not embraced Islam. He was older than Muhayyisah. When he killed him, Huwayyisah beat him and said: O enemy of Allah, I swear by Allah, you have a good deal of fat in your belly from his property. Muhayysah told him “By Allah if the one who has ordered me to kill him orders me to kill you, I will do it”. Huwayyisah was stupefied and asked: “By Allah would you really kill me?” Muhayyisah answered “Yes by Allah if he orders me to kill you, I will kill you”. Huwayyisah, the older brother, said: “By Allah, the religion that has made you thus is strange” and he embraced Islam.” 

 This story is also partially recorded in collection of hadith: Sunan Abu Dawud Book 19, Number 2996:  

In an interview broadcast last week on the CBS program 60 Minutes, Rev. Jerry Falwell said, “I think Muhammad was a terrorist”. Pat Robertson and Franklin Graham also made similar remarks about the Prophet of Islam. These remarks outraged the Islamic community around the world to the point that some Islamic clerics like Shabestari, a representative of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was quoted saying: "The death of that man (Falwell) is a religious duty”. And Sheikh Muhammed Hussein Fadlullah, a Lebanese top cleric said: “Muslims all over the world ought to remain vigilant and rise up to defend their faith against this new wave of wars and crusades against Islam.” 

Muslims in India rioted over Falwell's remarks and five people were killed. Things got so scary that the Executive Board of the (U.S.) National Council of Churches, fearing that Falwell’s statements would endanger the lives of Christians around the world condemned and repudiated the Reverend’s statements. 

The pressure mounted: "This is a war against Islam, against the Prophet Muhammad, against the Qura'an" said Sheikh Walid al-Haj, a popular speaker in Hebron. "Don't you believe them when they tell you they are only against terror, they are against every thing Islamic. Didn't you see how Bush and his gang remained silent when one of the pigs (Jerry Falwell) described the Prophet Muhammad as a terrorist," said al Haj during Friday sermon. 

Finally the preacher was forced to swallow his pride and take back his words. On one hand there was a real threat to his life, on the other, the lives of many Christians around the world was in jeopardy. The President of USA, who unwillingly had been dragged into the controversy, and placed under the spotlight, in such delicate situation when he has to walk on eggshells or else, might also be one of the reasons behind Falwell’s retraction. 

As the result everything went back to normalcy. Falwell apologized and the media reassured the public that Islam is a religion of peace. 

Although some clerics like Ayatollah Hussein Mousavi Tabrizi accepted the Evangelist's apology and called him "worthy of praise" for his courageous apology, others like  Sheik Zuheir Jaaed, deputy head of the Islamic Ulama Gathering, a Lebanon-based association of Sunni and Shiite Muslim scholars, said Falwell's comments "will not calm us" and added:  One "cannot insult the prophet then apologize".

Yet I still do not understand how through threats, murder and acts of terrorism one can prove that his religion is not a religion of terror. Don't these very threats prove that Islam is not a religion at all? When I read the story of the conversion of Huwayyisah I was amazed at the low moral intelligence of the Arabs of the 7th century. Huwayyisah saw the evil in killing a friend especially one who feeds you, yet he mistook his brother's zealotry as the sign of the greatness of his Faith. What is disappointing is that 1400 years later the moral intelligence of Muslims has not surpassed that of Huwayyisah. 

Many called Falwell’s remarks, “historically untrue” and “factually uninformed”. I wonder based on which history they made such claims! The history of Islam, as was recorded by Waquidi, Tabari, Ibn Hesham  and other early historians portray the Prophet of Islam as a terrorist. For how long can we continue with our denial? What we gain by lying to ourselves? Isn’t it time that we read the history of Islam and learn the facts? For how long shall we keep denying that Islam and the examples laid by its founder are the real cause of Islamic terrorism? Perhaps we should ask apologists of Islam such as Karen Armstrong and John Esposito, which historic books do they read? Where do they get their facts from? How they came to the conclusion that Islam is a religion of peace? We are a society living in denial. Only we, will suffer the consequences of our unwillingness to face the truth. More lives will be lost while we try to rewrite the history negating it.






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