Free Speech, Muhammad’s Character — And Ours
Following violent Muslim reactions to the amateurish Innocence of Muslims video, international and domestic Islamic agendas are openly converging with vehement calls for universal application of Islamic blasphemy law.
October 6, 2012 - 12:00 am
Four years later, in 1919, Gairdner wrote an essay titled “Muhammad Without Camouflage,” responding to a mendacious birthday tribute panegyric of Islam’s prophet written collaboratively by Muslims and non-Muslims. A particularly trenchant segment of Gairdner’s rebuttal discussed the slaughter of the vanquished Medinan Jewish tribe, Banu Qurayza, whose massacre became an important motif in jihad war jurisprudence. Relying exclusively upon Muslim sources, Gairdner highlighted without equivocation the pivotal role that Muhammad himself played in orchestrating the overall events:
The umpire who gave the fatal decision (Saad) was extravagantly praised by Muhammad. Yet his action was wholly and admittedly due to his lust for personal vengeance on a tribe which had occasioned him a painful wound. In the agony of its treatment he cried out: “O God, let not my soul go forth ere thou has cooled my eye from the Bani Quraiza” [Banu Qurayza]. This was the arbiter to whose word the fate of that tribe was given over. His sentiments were well-known to Muhammad, who appointed him. It is perfectly clear from that that their slaughter had been decreed. What makes it clearer still is the assertion of another biographer that Muhammad had refused to treat with the Bani Quraiza at all until they had “come down to receive the judgment of the Apostle of God.” Accordingly “they came down”; in other words put themselves in his power. And only then was the arbitration of Saad proposed and accepted — but not accepted until it had been forced on him by Muhammad; for Saad first declined and tried to make Muhammad take the responsibility, but was told “qad amarak Allahu takhuma fihim,” — “Allah has commanded you to give sentence in their case.” From every point of view therefore the evidence is simply crushing that Muhammad was the ultimate author of this massacre.
The modern Muslim scholar Ali Dashti’s biography of Muhammad, 23 Years: A Study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammad, has also chronicled Muhammad’s “changed course” at Medina, where the Muslim prophet begins to “issue orders for war” in multiple and repeated Koranic revelations (Sura [chapter] 9 being composed almost entirely of such war proclamations — permanent injunctions against pagans, Jews, and Christians). Prior to describing some of the numerous assassinations Muhammad ordered, Ali Dashti observes
…Islam was gradually transformed from a purely spiritual mission into a militant and punitive organization whose progress depended on booty from raids and [tax] revenue….The Prophet’s steps in the decade after the hejra [emigration from Mecca to Medina] were directed to the end of establishing and consolidating a religion-based state. Some of the deeds done on his command [were] killings of prisoners and political assassinations…
Pace Nadwi’s hagiographic views — the narrative all are being forced to accept lest they be accused of “blasphemy” under the OIC-hatched “defamation of religions” UN resolution — the persistent consequences of Muhammad’s status as “a good [even ‘beautiful’] example of conduct” (Koran 33:21), across a continuum of nearly 14 centuries, remain glaringly evident. Invoked by contemporary Muslim clerics, governments, journalists and jihadists alike, Muhammad’s sacralized behaviors continue to result in: exploited child brides and general misogyny, sanctioned by law; Draconian, mutilating punishments such as stoning for adultery and amputation for theft; jihad violence against non-Muslims, and Sharia (Islamic Law)-sanctioned oppression of non-Muslims under Muslim rule.
The great Orientalist David S. Margoliouth’s very balanced 1905 biography of Islam’s prophet recognized Muhammad as “ . . . a great man, who solved a political problem of appalling difficulty — the construction of a state and empire out of the Arab tribes.” Margoliouth recounted this accomplishment without “apology” or “indictment,” summarizing faithfully the images of Muhammad that emerge in the earliest and most authoritative pious Muslim biography of the Muslim prophet by Ibn Ishaq (d. 761/767), as follows:
In order to gain his ends he recoils from no expedient, and he approves of similar unscrupulousness on the part of his adherents, when exercised in his interest. He profits to the utmost from the chivalry of the Meccans, but rarely requites it with the like. He organizes assassinations and wholesale massacres.
His career as tyrant of Medina is that of a robber chief, whose political economy consists in securing and dividing plunder . . . He is himself an unbridled libertine and encourages the same passion in his followers. For whatever he does he is prepared to plead the express authorization of the deity. It is, however, impossible to find any doctrine which he is not prepared to abandon in order to secure a political end…This is a disagreeable picture for the founder of a religion, and it cannot be pleaded that it is a picture drawn by an enemy…
If we are silent and ignore the reality of Muhammad’s “beautiful example of conduct,” in lieu of defiantly upholding the irrefragable evidence briefly adduced herein, we are tacitly condemning Professor Margoliouth, posthumously, and all who presently understand and expound the proven wisdom of his judgments, and submissively acquiescing to the establishment of universal Islamic blasphemy law.