Why this Duplicity, Dr. Zaman?
By Abul Kasem
Dr. Ahmad Wahid
Zaman (AWZ) took almost six months to build a defense to my essay on the
wives of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
original article was actually directed to Mr. Parvez Ahmad (of CAIR) who
wrote an essay claiming that the information on Muhammad’s wives were
based on ‘apocryphal’ writings. I
protested to his contention and requested him to prove his assertions
point-by-point by citing authentic sources from Islamic literature,
scholarly of course. I even sent him a copy of my essay directed to his
personal e-mail. A few days
later, Syed Kamran Mirza (SKM) also posted a similar rebuttal to Mr Parvez
Ahmad and sent a personal copy of his essay to him. Almost six months have elapsed since then.
However, no reply came from Mr Parvez Ahmed.
What were the reasons for his reticence all these months?
I was just wondering - why?
after such a long period of lull, I nearly forgot all about my essay.
Then, suddenly comes Dr. AWZ. He
took six months of time to do elaborate research to rebut my essay.
He is determined to demolish my ‘Liliputian’ treatise by a
‘Goliath’, judging from the five (yes, five) volumes of his tome-sized
rebuttals. Dr. AWZ has not
yet indicated whether volume five will be the last in the series of his
‘arsenal’ or not. Therefore, we can certainly expect more from him on
In his first volume, Dr. AWZ
categorically rejected almost all the authentic sources of Muhammad’s
biography such as, Ibn Ishak, Muhammad Wakkidi, Ibn S’ad (Wakkidi’s
secretary), Tabari, etc. I
wrote a short rejoinder to this essay (See ‘The suicide of an
intellectual a la Islamic style,’ NFB) of
him, thanking him for rendering our job easier to demolish the myth
surrounding Islam in general and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in particular.
few days ago, Syed Kamran Mirza (SKM) too, gave a befitting reply to Dr.
AWZ. For SKM’s reply see:
Muslims Reject Some Parts of Qur’an too? (http://www.faithfreedom.org/Articles/SKM30622.htm)
though that was the end of everything.
it was not to be the end of the game. Dr. AWZ diligently penned another
four volumes of extremely prolix essays to ‘kill’ my ‘blasphemous’
utterings, although I based everything from the most authentic Islamic
is what Dr. AWZ wrote in Volume I of his essay:
“With these obvious
contradictory stories about Prophet Muhammad’s wives, it is very
difficult for any reasonable and honest intelligent person to believe in
anything and everything what Ibn S’ad had penned down in his famous book
"Tabaqat al-Kabir" and quote from that book without
further varying from other sources. But
that is what these two gentlemen (AK and SKM) did to prove only their
foolishness and naked ignorance of their knowledge. But we understand the
reasons. "Necessity knows no law" is their basic motto”.
Please note that SKM and I never
ever quoted a single line or a paragraph (in our essays in NFB or other e-fora)
from Ibn Sa’d’s book. However, this did not prevent Dr. AWZ to hurl
epithets to us using disparaging language, calling us ‘fools’, and
‘ignorant’ people. Never
mind such abusive language, we still hold Dr. AWZ with great respect and
we definitely acknowledge his vast knowledge and understanding of the
I seldom quote from the book of
Ibn S’ad, because I am aware of its contradictory statements and
questionable authenticity. Ditto for Wakkidi’s book. That is why Ibn
Ishak/Ibn Hisham and Tabari’s works are still considered the most
authentic when it comes to Muhammahd’s biography.
In fact, Tabari, very rarely uses references of Ibn S’ad.
Almost two-third of his (Tabari) work on the biography of Muhammad
is based on IbnIshak/Ibn Hisham’s narrations and to some extent from Ibn
Humayd and Ibn Kalbi’s works.
We thought Dr. AWZ would
steadfastly stick to his gun and will never ever mention
‘questionable’ and ‘problem-maker’ Ibn S’ad and his
‘apocryphal’ information. However, that was not to be the case.
Dr. AWZ has surprised everyone when he used the very
‘unauthentic’ source of Ibn S’ad in his latest (Volume V) of his
dissertation. He unceasingly quoted from Ibn Sa’d’s ‘dubious’ work
to prove that Rayhana, Saffiya and Mariyah Kibtia were not Muhammad’s
sex slaves, but were legally married wives.
I want to ask Dr. AWZ a simple question: why should we trust your
version of the story when you have deliberately used the ‘apocryphal’
writings of Ibn Sa’d even though you, in the beginning, clearly stated
that his (Ibn Sa’d’s) works are not trustworthy?
Isn’t that a deceptive approach?
One could ruin their scholarship resorting to this kind of dubious
approach. He should clarify
as to why he was citing Ibn Sa’d’s work copiously to defend
Muhammad’s (pbuh) action vis-à-vis Rayhana, Saffiya, and Mariyah
For everyone’s information, this
is what is written in the front flap of ‘Kitab al-Tabaqat’(Ref.1):
‘No doubt, many of his
narrations included in the Tabaqat are fabricated and untrustworthy
and cannot be accepted as authority, but the book is a vast mine of
information, and the modern reader will find considerable material which
is useful for the early history of Islam.’
Here is another surprise. The
reason why Ibn Sa’d is not considered authentic is that Ibn Sa’d was a
believer of the ‘creation of Qur’an theory. Unbelievable,
isn’t it? This is what the translator of Ibn Sa’d’s Kitab al-Tabaqat
al-Kabir writes in the introduction of this ancient book:
“Ibn Sa’d was also considered
to be prominent scholar of Fiqh by his contemporaries. It has been
stated that he was one of the seven top-most jurists whom Caliph Ma’mun
had invited to give their opinion on the occasion of Khalq Qur’an
(creation of Qu’ran). All of them corroborated the Caliph’s
view that the Qur’an was created. For this reason some of the
Muhaddithin were displeased with him”. (Ref. 1, Vol.I,
Please do remember that the
Muslims believe that the Holy Qur’an is uncreated. They believe
that the Qur’an had always existed. Allah has its original
manuscript, a copy of which was sent to Muhammad, the Prophet of mercy (pbuh)
via archangel Gabriel.
What punishment does Ibn Sa’d
deserve for committing the gravest of blasphemy by asserting that the Qur’an
was created? Isn’t his
theory of Khalq Quran smacks the popular belief among Muslims? Never mind its capability to demolish the entire edifice of
Islam. All devotees of Islam please reflect on this.
Let me now put it very bluntly to
Dr. AWZ. Why is it that, when
you find ‘good things’ in the works of Ibn Sa’d, you immediately
jump to accept it as authentic (same argument goes for Sahi Ahadith);
whereas, whenever we point out ‘bad things’ you right away discard
them as simply apocryphal. You
cannot have it both ways, Dr.. Zaman!
What kind of logic is this, Dr. AWZ?
We are at a loss. You even discredited authorities and scholarships
of writers such as Ibn Ishak, Tabari, Bukhari…and…. my, my Bibi Aishah,
etc., when we used their references to prove the ‘innocence’ of
childhood (six years of age) marriage of Aishah with 52 years old Prophet
of compassion (pbuh). I can bet with you that you surely will consider
these stalwarts of Islam as the most authentic, if we quote something very
favourable that pleases you and the Islamists. Am I correct?
Now, let us come to the topic of
concubines (sex slaves) of Prophet Muhhammad (pbuh).
Do you think that I invented this element of Muhammd’s (pbuh)
life by myself? Think again.
Or, was it my figment of imagination? Did I deliberately devise
this fib to malign Islam and its Prophet? For your information, it was not
a simple task for me. I have given very careful contemplation and I used
extreme caution to write a single sentence that may portray the Prophet (pbuh)
of Islam as contrary to what the vast majority of Muslims take for
granted. No, it was not my
creation. I have used the
most reliable Islamic sources (please read my original essay to be
absolutely sure). Please show
me any Islamic Organisation/Mullah that has ever issued fatwa against Ibn
Ishak, Ibn Hisham, Tabari, Bukhari, Bibi Aishah and had called their
writings/narrations as not authentic. However, you glibly declared them
‘apocryphal’ and ‘untrustworthy’ at your own behest.
Why must we trust you and your sources to be authentic then?
Why must we accept as true your double standard?
Recently, Syed Kamran Mirza (SKM)
wrote a sharp rebuttal (http://www.bangladesh-web.com/news/jun/18/g18062003.htm#A3)
to your last four volumes of essay. In
that rebuttal, SKM cited a few samples of contradictory verses in the Qur’an.
If Dr. AWZ is really serious about Islam and its authenticity,
then, he must answer SKM’s pertinent questions without any ambiguity and
confusion. There is great
anachronism in Dr. AWZ’s writings. If Ahadith contain contradictory
narrations he (Dr. AWZ) conveniently rejects that hadis, if Ibn
Ishak truthfully mentions some appalling side of Muhammad (pbuh), he
readily rejects Ibn Ishak, if Tabari honestly narrates the historical
facts that are not palatable, he simply casts away Tabari, if Ibn Sa’d
writes contradictory narrations, he swiftly rebuff him. What sort of
approach is this Dr. AWZ, would you kindly let us know?
How about the Qur’an? Are
you prepared to reject the Holy Qur’an too, when undeniable
contradictory verses are mentioned by SKM?
Or will you look the other way pretending that no one had said
anything defamatory against the Holy Islamic Scriptures.
Enough of your duplicity, Mr. Zaman.
We are eagerly awaiting your reply on this matter.
Let us now come to the issue of
concubines of Muhammad once again. You glibly asserted that Muhammad had
no concubines or sex slaves even though I cited the proof from Ibn Ishak.
You were so angry with Ibn Ishak that you immediately rejected his
monumental work that has become immortal not only to the Muslims but also
to every one who is seriously interested in the details of Muhammad’s (pbuh)
life and work.
Now, please read the following
citations on Muhammad’s concubines or sex slaves. This paragraph is not
from Ibn Sa’d, neither from a ‘fool’ (to use your word) like me, nor
from an ‘ignorant’ SKM. This
quote is from the book of biography that most Muslims read as the only
authentic biography. This is such a great book to the Islamists that it is
posted in most Islamic websites. In fact, this book won the first prize
among the biographies of Muhammad.
Let us first read the following
lines from the new version (January, 2002) of this book:
“Besides these, he had two female slaves. The first was Mariyah the
Coptic (an Egyptian Christian), a gift from Al-Muqawqis, ruler of
Egypt—she gave birth to his son Ibrahim, who died in Madinah while still
child, on the 28th or 29th of Shawwal in the year 10
AH..i.e., January, 632 C.E. the second one was Rehana bint Zaid bin
‘Amir bin Khanafah bin Sham’un bin Zaid An-Nadriyah or Quraziyah, a
captive from Bani Quraizah. Some people say she was one of his wives.
However, Ibn Al-Qaiyim gives more weight to the first version. Abu
‘Ubaidah spoke of two more slave girls, Jamilah, a captive, and another
one, a bondwoman granted to him by Zainab bint Jahsh .”( Ref. 2, page
Now, we shall
read the same paragraph as was written in the original edition of this
celebrated book. This is what
is written on the extra sex partners of the Prophet of mercy (pbuh):
“Besides these, he had two
concubines. The first was Mariyah, the Coptic (an Egyptian Christian), a
present gift from Al-Muqauqis, vicegerent of Egypt — she gave birth to
his son Ibrâhim, who died in Madinah while still a little child, on the
28th or 29th of Shawwal in the year 10 A.H., i.e. 27th January, 632 A.D.
The second one was Raihanah bint Zaid An-Nadriyah or Quraziyah, a captive
from Bani Quraiza. Some people say she was one of his wives. However, Ibn
Al-Qaiyim gives more weight to the first version. Abu ‘Ubaidah spoke of
two more concubines, Jameelah, a captive, and another one, a bondwoman
granted to him by Zainab bint Jahsh. [Za'd Al-Ma'ad 1/29]”
You can verify
the above quote by reading the Internet version of this book by clicking
intelligent reader will certainly notice the attempt by the author to
soften the word ‘concubine’ (in the original version) with the words
‘female slaves’ in the latest version. Nevertheless, he (the author)
could not make these two slave girls to be the ‘free woman’ married to
This is what is
written on the back cover of this book (Ref: 2):
“This book was awarded the First Prize by
the Muslim World League at worldwide competition on the biography of the
Prophet held at Makkah Al-Mukarramah in 1399H/1979”
The above two
excerpts clearly demonstrate the futile attempt by this ‘famous’
biographer to camouflage the truth. No
matter how much Saifur Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri (the author) tried to improve
the image of Muhmmad (pbuh) by modifying his sentence (in the revised
version of 2002), he could not hide the truth. I should also mention that
Saifur Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri was no ordinary Muslim. This India-born
Islamic scholar was appointed as a research fellow at the Islamic
University of Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah and was entrusted with the duty of
preparing an encyclopedia on the subject of the life history of the Noble
Prophet (pbuh). He is still working there. Therefore, you can even now
contact him and check the veracity of what I had written.
So, who is a
concubine? Here is the
definition from the widely used Oxford dictionary:
Woman who cohabits with a man without marriage.
If we combine
the meaning of the both the versions (the original and the sanctified
version of 2002) of this ‘great’ biography (most Muslims consider this
book as the only authentic source of Muhammad’s biography), we can
plainly surmise that Mariyah and Raihana were not only concubines of
Muhammad (pbuh) but they were also female slaves to him.
Now, please make up your mind as to what can be a simple word/s for
such relationships. Isn’t the words ‘sex slaves’ most accurately
describes the status of these concubines of Muhammad?
noteworthy that in my original essay, I mentioned only Mariyah and Raihana
as concubines (or sex slaves) of the Prophet (pbuh).
In fact, I made an understatement.
I softened the wild sex-play of the Prophet (pbuh) by discarding a
few other women concubines.
those two quotes above one more time.
The Prophet (pbuh)
had at least two other concubines, besides Mariyah and Rayhana that I
mentioned. One of them was a present from his wife Bibi Zainab bint Jahsh.
Surprise! Surprise!! A married wife of the Prophet (pbuh) presents a
concubine to her beloved husband!! What conclusion shall we derive from
these examples, Dr. AWZ if you do not mind to elaborate?
There is more
distressing information in this book for the Islamic apologists who invent
crazy theories to convert the six years old bride of Muhammad to a young
girl of sixteen or nineteen years of age.
On page 562-563 of this book, the author clearly stated that the
Prophet of mercy (pbuh) married Aishah when she was six year old and
consummated the marriage when she turned nine years of age.
I wonder why the Islamic University of Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah
happily accepted this information as true when all the new breed of
apologists of Islam vehemently reject any utterance that Aishah was just a
six years old little child girl when the Prophet (pbuh) married her, even
though, Aishah, herself has testified to this information in several ahadith
in Sahi Bukhari and Sahi Muslim.
Not only that the Islamic University of Medinah gleefully accepted
what Saifur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri had written but also the Muslim World
League has bestowed the author with the first prize of fifty thousand
Saudi Riyals for writing such a ‘marvelous’ biography of Muhammad (pbuh),
the Prophet of Islam. When
one intently reads the pages of this ‘extraordinary’ book, one simply
becomes amazed to notice how liberally the author (I mean Mubarakpuri) has
used the works of Ibn Hisham, Ibn Ishak, Tabari as well as some selective
works of Ibn Sa’d. Now, I
would request Dr. AWZ to answer why the Islamic University of Madinah and
the Muslim world League did not object to Saifur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri’s
‘disinformation’ on Aishah’s age of marriage?
Why don’t you (Dr. AWZ) consider Maulvi (he also hold s
the title of A’lim) Mubarakpuri’s writing as ‘foolishness’
and ‘ignorant’ since he wrote the same thing as we (i.e SKM and I)
did? Will you call Al-Mubarakpuri’s
scholarly work merely apocryphal? Would
you please tell us why do you practice such a double standard, Dr. AWZ?
Or, is this the teachings of Islam that promotes double talk as and
I do not want
to bore to death the reader with more facts. Here are my very two specific
questions to Dr. AWZ:
you please tell us why did you use materials of Ibn Sa’d’s
‘Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir’ after you had declared them as
will be your response to SKM’s assertion of contradictory verses in
your time to answer those two questions.
There is no need to rush. We
give you plenty of time to do your research.
This essay was not written to disparage or belittle anyone. We readily acknowledge the profound scholarship of Dr. AWZ on
Islamic stuff and we sincerely respect his opinions, though we may not
completely agree with them.
Sa’d, Ibn; Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir (Vol. I , II), Translated by
S. Moinul Haq, M.A. Ph.D, Kitab Bhavan, 1784 Kalan Mahal, Darayaganj, New
Delhi 110002 (1972).
Al-Mubarakpuri, Saifur Rahman; The Sealed Nectar (Ar-Raheequl-Makhtum);
revised edition, January 2002; Darussalam, P.O. Box 22743, Riyadh 11416,
writes from Sydney. His e-mail address is [email protected]