Following Muhammad’s Brutal Example

Shouting the jihadist battle cry declared by Islam’s prophet Muhammad himself, “Allahu-akbar (“Allah is greater”),” a Muslim gunman opened fire on participants at a Copenhagen conference on freedom of expression, killing one and wounding three others.

The pattern of what transpired in Paris -- murders of cartoonists who dared to lampoon Islam’s prophet, followed by a murderous attack on a Parisian kosher market – was repeated by the Copenhagen jihadist. Omar Abdel Hamid el-Hussein, whom the Danish intelligence service “knew in advance,” subsequently attacked the city’s Great Synagogue in Krystalgade.

El-Hussein, who may have been assisted by at least two surviving suspects, is alleged to have undergone an “abrupt transition” from street crime to Islamic jihadism. He murdered a Jewish community member on security duty during a bat mitzvah celebration, and wounded two police officers before being shot to death near the Nørrebro train station by Danish police.

This latest paroxysm of lethal jihadist violence against Western free speech -- and Jews -- began exactly 26 years to the day after Ayatollah Khomeini issued his February 14, 1989 fatwa (i.e., authoritative Islamic religious ruling) condemning to death Salman Rushdie, as well as his publishers, for producing the “blasphemous” novel The Satanic Verses.

As noted by Professor Muhammad Hashim Kamali -- who since 1985 has taught Sharia and jurisprudence at the International Islamic University of Malaysia -- in his authoritative Freedom of Expression in Islam: “ ... no serious Muslim commentator has challenged the basic validity of the Ayatollah's fatwa. Adjudication was generally viewed to be necessary if only to find out if Rushdie was willing to repent.”

The fatwa wrought targeted murders in Europe and Japan and a mass killing in Turkey. Khomeini’s edict reflected an ongoing, intensifying, global campaign to impose Islamic blasphemy law on non-Muslims, including those living in non-Muslim societies.

Ultimately however, the Islamic religio-political inspiration for this free speech-crushing jihad derives from Muhammad’s attitudes and behaviors. As sura (chapter) 33 of the Koran itself elucidates (33:6; 33:21), Muhammad’s actions -- which animate Islamic law -- also represent the eternal, idealized prototype for all Muslims. Islam’s prophet routinely ordered his “mockers” put to death, or approved of their assassination, posthumously, by his Muslim followers. Jews were targeted for such killings, featuring prominently in Muhammad’s own dead poets society.

Muhammad’s murderous behaviors towards Jews, as well as “blasphemers,” validate Omar Abdel Hamid el-Hussein’s lethal attacks in Copenhagen this past weekend. Abu Bilal Ismail, imam at Aarhus’s Grimhøj mosque, and Mohammed al-Khaled Samha, an imam at a mosque run by the Islamic Society in Denmark in Vollsmose, foment jihadism and Islamic Jew-hatred within the local Danish Muslim environment. It is critical to understand that the core anti-Semitic motifs imams Ismail and Samha have been promoting -- Jews as “prophet killers (Koran 3:112),” “corrupters (Koran 5:64),” “apes and pigs (Koran 5:60)”, and even their calls for the annihilation of Jews to usher in Islam’s own “Messianic” age (repeating Muhammad’s words, per Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985) -- all derive from Islam’s canonical texts, i.e., the Koran and the traditions of Muhammad (or hadith). Moreover, these same themes were expounded—and acted upon—by Muhammad, validating their eternal, sacralized relevance.

Thus Muhammad, per two of his earliest Muslim biographers, just prior to orchestrating the en masse execution of the adult males from the besieged Medinan Jewish tribe the Banu Qurayzah (and distributing their women, children, and possessions as slave “booty” for the Muslims), addressed these Jews with menacing, hateful Koranic epithets as apes (Koran 2:65/7:166), or apes and pigs (Koran 5:60).

Finally, on the very evening before jihadist Omar Abdel Hamid el-Hussein murderously attacked both a Copenhagen free speech conference, and then a synagogue, Hajj Saeed, Imam of the Al-Faruq Mosque in Copenhagen, eschewed “dialogue” with Jews, reminding his Muslim listeners that Muhammad waged jihad against the Jews when they failed to submit to his nascent Islamic order. The good imam Saeed intoned the following during his February 13, 2015 sermon:

Our Prophet Muhammad had Jewish neighbors in Al-Madina. Did he call for closer relations, harmony, and dialogue with them, in the manner of the UN and of those who call to reconciliation Truth and Falsehood? Or did he call upon them to worship Allah? When they violated their pledge and did not accept this call well, you know what he did to them. It appears in his Sira [earliest Muslim biographies of Muhammad]. He waged war against the Jews. 

Muhammad’s lethal intolerance of blasphemers and Jews -- as imbued in his followers since the advent of Islam -- was manifest on the streets of Copenhagen.

Even beheading vanquished non-Muslim captives -- such as the 21 hapless Coptic laborers just decapitated by ISIS in a grisly display on a Libyan beach -- simply re-affirms another one of Muhammad’s “sacralized” deeds. According to the first pious Muslim biography of Muhammad by Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad personally beheaded 700-900 men, including barely post-pubescent boys, of the surrendered Jewish tribe, Banu Qurayzah. Classical Muslim jurists, citing Muhammad’s precedent vis-à-vis the Banu Qurayzah, and Koran 47:4, enshrined beheading, “cutting their necks,” as the foremost “beneficial” Islamic law option for Muslim jihadists when dealing with their captives, followed by enslavement, or ransom for Muslim prisoners of war.

The wrenching reform of Islam required to eliminate its “sacralized” violence, and render the creed compatible with modern human-rights standards, remains an inchoate, dubious proposition. Dutch politician Geert Wilders recognized this potentially intractable problem, rooted in Muhammad’s persona, and demanded, “A public debate about the true nature and character of Muhammad [which] can provide insight and support to Muslims all over the world who wish to leave Islam.” Regardless, all intellectually honest efforts at reforming Islam must include unflinching criti­cism of both the Koran, and Islam’s prophet. As Ayaan Hirsi Ali has observed:

You cannot liberalize Islam without criticizing the Prophet and the Koran. . . . You cannot redecorate a house without entering inside.