How the Prophet Muhammad Dealt with Insults

Muslims who respond to the likes of “Charlie Hebdo” with violence need to consult the Qu’ran.

Wednesday’s brazen attack in the offices of French magazine Charlie Hebdo has left many people the world over shocked, saddened, and even infuriated. As the smoke cleared and we learned that 12 people were killed at the hands of three individuals wearing commando uniforms who brandished automatic weapons that were fired indiscriminately at the office, we were left with the horrific reality that these individuals were killed for the single fact that they used their free speech to publish provocative content.

As a Muslim, I was left having to grapple with — and answer — questions about the Islamic stance towards free speech and whether this attack is a natural consequence of mocking or abusing Muslim sentiments.

Many of us are no strangers to Charlie Hebdo, which has worked its way into controversy for some years, especially after choosing on multiple occasions to publish insulting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad with the expressed intention of offending Muslims. And, of course, if Charlie Hebdo has the right to insult, then Muslims have a right to feel offended. But the question becomes how Muslims should react and respond to this offense?

As hurt as I was to learn that 12 people lost their lives (and 12 families lost loved ones) due to this unjustifiable and unconscionable terrorist attack, I also experienced anger when I learned of the response of a known radical cleric in the United Kingdom named Anjem Choudary. This obscure leader of a tiny group of radical Muslims has spouted off some of the most despicable words one could imagine and appears hell-bent on intentionally maligning the Islamic faith and its prophet.

Why should I care about his article? Well, in less than 12 hours of being published, it had already been shared on social networks nearly 8,000 times, with 300 comments posted by readers. This obscure, insignificant lunatic has a platform and his voice is being heard. In his rant, he claims, “Muslims do not believe in the concept of freedom of expression,” alleging that anyone found guilty of abusing the Prophet Muhammad will receive “capital punishment implementable by an Islamic State.”

Purporting to be an Imam, he did not make even the slightest hint that there was anything wrong with commandos brutally killing these people. Instead of expanding on how Islamic scripture explicitly instructs Muslims to respond to insulting speech, Choudary concluded, “It is time that the sanctity of a Prophet revered by up to one-quarter of the world’s population was protected.”

In truth, it is time for radical hate-mongers like Choudary, who clearly have no true attachment to God or the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, to be confronted by the true teachings of Islam. Islam offers the balanced approach, instructing believers to self-govern their own speech but also how to respond to unseemly speech.

The Qur’an strongly discourages indecent behavior and speech, or the hurting of others’ sensitivities, regardless of whether it is done with or without a “valid” reason. Prophet Muhammad called his followers to human decency, integrity, and sensitivity through self-restraint — a virtue that encompasses forgiveness, patience, abstention from injury, truth, sweetness of speech, benevolence, and freedom from malice.

But Islam does not support people who violently censor free speech. Freedom of speech is guaranteed in the Qur’an both through direct instruction as well as recalling how Muhammad was insulted to his face and never retaliated. The Qur’an records that he was called crazy, a victim of deception, a liar, and a fraud. Through this all, the Prophet Muhammad never retaliated or called for these people to be attacked, seized, or executed. This is because the Qur’an says to “overlook their annoying talk” and to “bear patiently what they say.” It instructs us to avoid the company of those who continue their derogatory attacks against Islam. There simply is no room in Islam for responding to mockery or blasphemy with violence.

But perhaps most pointedly, the Qur’an tells believers not to be provoked by those who seem to attack Islam, stating very clearly “let not a people’s enmity incite you to act otherwise than with justice.”

This is supported by the actions of the Prophet Muhammad himself.  When he was once returning from an expedition, an antagonist used insulting words against him. Although a companion suggested that the culprit be killed, the Prophet Muhammad did not permit anyone to do so and, instead, instructed they leave him alone.

How tragic that some so-called Muslims have forsaken the words of the Qur’an and the prophet they claim to somehow defend. Muslims are not allowed to respond with violence. Rather, they must have the same courage as the Prophet of Islam to face such insults in the eye and respond with forbearance and calm, righteous speech.

So when you hear lunatics such as Anjem Choudary claim that people who mock Islam must be killed, tell him to go read the Qur’an and educate himself on the faith to which he claims allegiance but of which he remains ignorant.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Harris Zafar
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  • Sam

    I always enjoyed the stories of the Prophet (pbuh) where he should such fortitude. Two come to mind.

    One is of the woman who always threw trash on him and how despite this he continued to take the same path everyday and refused to retaliate in anyway. The day she didn’t throw the trash on him he was concerned and went to find out what was wrong only to discover she was ill. He went on to help her and do his best to help her back to health.

    The second is the story of the blind man who the Prophet (pbuh) feed by hand while listening to him berate the “False Prophet” and “liar” the whole time. Only when the Prophet (pbuh) passed away did the blind man find out that Muhammad (pbuh) was actually the one feeding him this whole time.

    May we all aspire to such character.

    • Yahya Ahmad Khan

      Amazing! Cant stop my tears! Peace and blessings of God be upon him!

    • Shepard

      Such character! In this next story, there is no way I could have followed his example. After the slaughtering of the Jewish and other inhabitants of Khaybar into submission, he traded two female cousins of Safiyah to Dihya b. Khalifa al-Kalbi. I would have kept the two girls.Well actually I would not have kept the two girls, nor made war on the Jews and inhabitants of Khaybar, but that is just me. Christ killed nobody, slept with nobody.
      Here is the account’s excerpt:
      “The apostle took captives (of Khaybar, an oases he invaded and sacked) from them among whom was Safiya d. Huyayy b. Akhtab who had been the wife of Kinana b. al-Rabi b. Abu’l-Huqayq, and two cousins of hers. The apostle chose Safiya for himself. Dihya b. Khalifa al-Kalbi had asked the apostle for Safiya, aand when he chose her for himself he gave him her two cousins. The women of Khaybar were distributed among the Muslims.” (ibn Ishaq, The Expedition to Khaybar, A.H.7 appx. 629 A.D.)
      What a pious example of giving more to his soldiers than to himself. I mean, his 12 wives, two former captives weren’t enough for his sexual impulses.
      No apostle of God kills so many people, has his rapes codoned by Allah “right hands possesses”, and consumates his marriage with Aisha who was 9, a child, or has his affair with his slave girl Maryam acceptable who bore him Ibrahim. In the West he would have been arrested for child molestation, rape, and terrorism. His adultery and 12 wives frowned upon. He did good things in the beginning, but the devil (Gabriel in the form of a man) was to cunning for the once upon a time orphan

      • Sam

        There is nothing I could say to you that you would hear. Your cup is full.
        Thank you for sharing and I pray your continuing quest for God leads you to all that is right and true in this world and the next.
        Go in Peace. 🙂

        • Shepard

          I hear sir. I hear you are very kind. There is just a stark difference between Jesus Christ who died for mankind as a payment of our sins and Muhammad who killed many people, had way too many wives, sex slaves (concubines), and other un-pious actions. Despite his 12 wives, Muhammad was an adulterer (Maryam the Copt). Maryam gave birth to Ibrahim, but she was not a wife. This isn’t piety. I shouldn’t sound so harsh as to turn Muslims away from my words. Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament covenant and a salvation to you and me. He had no wife. He killed no one. He forgave his enemies. And he died upon the cross as a ransom to our sins. And He rose from the dead. Christ will not return to break the cross and kill the Jews, he will return to save us all. My sources come from the Quran, ibn Ishaq, and Sahih al-Bukhari’s Hadiths 9 vol aHadiths.

          • Sam

            It is common, for Muhammad as for all Prophets, for people to bad mouth them and spread lies about them. Both their enemies and there “followers”. Just as Paul spread lies about a Prophet of God many “Muslims” spread lies about Muhammad. It is the way of humankind.

            Go in peace.
            God will be a just Judge on the Day. 🙂

          • Shepard

            These “lies” come from the aHadiths, ibn Ishaq’s biography which comes from the aHadiths/Quran, and the Quran itself. But the Quran is vague and unclear without the aHadiths. The 5 Pillars of Islam in clearest form come from the aHadiths! These are Islamic sources Mr. Sam, not lies or Christian sources. Again you are kind but you cannot remain blind.

          • Sam

            I don’t think you read what I read. I pray that you remove the plank and read what I write rather than projecting on to what I say what you wish. 🙂

            I stated:
            Both their enemies and there “followers”.
            Why leave this out Shepard?

            The Quran stands fine on it’s own. Perhaps you did not find what you were looking for in it so you looked elsewhere but perhaps you could retry. I recommend The Message of the Quran a translation by Muhammad Asad. The footnotes, for historical reference and linguistic understanding are meticulous.

            The 5 Pillars were certainly codified after the death of the Seal of the Prophets but they are all there just as clearly as the trinity is in the New Testament.

            Below is a note I wrote previously on the Hadith. I touch on the issues with them. If you would like to look at potential issues with the Quran I recommend Journey to the End of Islam by Michael Muhammad Knight.

            I have never felt comfortable with the Hadith. The idea that they are divine revelation is held by only the fewest of the few to be true, but I think hadiths such as

            Sahih al-Bukhari 3320, Book 59, Hadith 126, Vol. 4, Book 54, Hadith 537:

            Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said “If a house fly falls in the drink of anyone of you, he should dip it (in the drink), for one of its wings has a disease and the other has the cure for the disease.”

            And then thunder is given a far from accurate description in Vol. 5, Book 44, Hadith 3117 or Book 47, Hadith 3406 of Jami` at-Tirmidhi:

            Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:

            “The Jews came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and said: ‘O Abul-Qasim! Inform us about the thunder, what is it?’ He said: ‘An angel among the angels, who is responsible for the clouds. He has a piece of fire wherever that he drives the clouds wherever Allah wills.’ They said: ‘Then what is this noise we hear?’ He said: ‘It is him, striking the clouds when he drives them on, until it goes where it is ordered.’ They said: ‘You have told the truth.’ They said: ‘Then inform us about what Isra’il made unlawful for himself.’ He said: ‘He suffered from sciatica, and he could not find anything agreeable due to it (to consume) except for camel meat and its milk. So for that reason he made it unlawful.’ They said: ‘You have told the truth.'”

            These are clearly and empirically inaccurate. This lead me to one of two conclusions either the Prophet was showing his own humanness as he attempted to share a solution to a problem or this text was added later by someone else. Either way it is evidence to question hadiths, even those considered most “sound” or “authentic,” especially since this is from Bukhari one of the two most “authentic” hadiths (at least to Sunni).

            This becomes even more of an issue when contradictions in hadith take place. For example regarding wudu:

            Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:

            The Prophet performed ablution by washing the body parts only once. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 4, Number 159)

            Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Zaid:

            The Prophet performed ablution by washing the body parts twice. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 4, Number 160)

            This is the just the tip of the iceberg. Even the Hadiths contradict on whether there should even be hadith:

            Sahih Muslim Introduction 72

            ‘I wrote to Shu’bah asking him about Abū Shaybah , a judge of Wāsit, so he wrote to me: ‘Do not write anything from him [of Ḥadīth] and tear up my letter [to you about this]’.

            This is probably the reason that it took almost two centuries before the first hadith collections began to appear, which is, ironically, the same issue I have with the Biblical text. Not only does time erode accuracy and it also allows all kinds of misinterpretations, misrepresentation, and flat out lies to enter the record. This is found to be true of both the aforementioned statements regarding the Jews as well as many others.

            In Sahih Muslim 2373, Book 43, Hadith 211; Sahih al-Bukhari 2411, Book 44, Hadith 2; and Sahih al-Bukhari 6517, Book 81, Hadith 106 for example the Prophet clarifies he is no greater than Moses and in the process shows that Jews should be treated by Muslims with respect. He also stands for a funeral procession even though he is well aware that the deceased is a Jew (Sahih al-Bukhari 1311, Book 23, Hadith 70). He even discusses the need to be a good neighbor, even to Jews, in Jami` at-Tirmidhi 1943, Book 27, Hadith 49, Vol. 4, Book 1, Hadith 1943. According to Sahih al-Bukhari 7192, Book 93, Hadith 54 the Prophet stepped in and paid the blood money for the death of a Muslim when the Jews accused by the Muslim’s brother, another Muslim, to incite peace instead of violence and discord. Also in Sahih al-Bukhari 5663, Book 75, Hadith 24, the Prophet is said to have calmed down a group of not just Muslims, but Jews and polytheists as well.

            In Sunan Abi Dawud 3049, Book 20, Hadith 122 the Prophet states that there is to be no tithe levied on Christians and Jews (which kind flies in the face of jizya). He is stated to have said peace to a mixed group (Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2702, Book 42, Hadith 15) and he is said that you should return an equal greeting or one better no matter from whom you receive it from (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 1107, Book 44, Hadith 7, Book 44, Hadith 1107). But he is also said to have said “and unto you” when Jews said to him “Death upon you” (Sahih al-Bukhari 6928, Book 88, Hadith 10).

            He is also recorded to have attempted to fulfill Jewish law (likely before he became a Prophet, as the biographies say he always had tried to follow God’s law) as evidenced by his stoning fornicators to death, Sunan Abi Dawud 4450, Book 40, Hadith 100 and Sahih al-Bukhari 6819, Book 86, Hadith 48, Vol. 8, Book 82, Hadith 809. Along these lines he is reported to have been even accepted by some Jews as telling the truth and being a Prophet but the fear that other Jews might kill them lead to them not following him (Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2733, Book 42, Hadith 46, Vol. 5, Book 40, Hadith 2733). This is becomes ridiculous though in Sahih al-Bukhari 3827, Book 63, Hadith 53, Vol. 5, Book 58, Hadith 169 where both a rabbi and a priest direct a young seeker to Islam because that would please God most. Why the rabbi and priest wouldn’t then seek to be Muslim themselves boggles the imagination.

            This is a super short summation of why I find the hadiths to be untrustworthy. Perhaps if less time had passed between the events and their recording we say with more accuracy whether they are true, but until we have time machines I am going to take a pass.

            Obviously I can see why these documents are useful for both the detractors of Islam and the fanatics of Islam, such as al-Qaeda. The ability to find texts that support the call for mass slaughter serve both their causes and wouldn’t serve God’s at all.

            Proponents, both Muslim and Western, of the authenticity and authority of the hadith like to use ayah’s such as 4:59, 3:32, 3:132, and 4:59. But this is in contradiction to the Quran itself in 6:112-115, 39:27, 2:2, 15:1, 75:16-19, and especially 2:170.

            But the most damning evidence is when Hadith attempt to contradict the Quran.

            Bukhari 84:57 and 83:37 state the punishment of murder for apostasy, murder, and fornication. These are in direct violation of the Quran.

            There shall be no coercion in matters of faith (2:256).

            And say: The truth has now come from your Sustainer: let, then, him who wills, believe in it, and let him who wills, reject it (18:29).

            Behold, from on high have We bestowed upon thee this divine writ, setting forth the truth for the benefit of all mankind. And whoever chooses to be guided thereby, does so for his own good, and whoever chooses to go astray, goes but astray to his own hurt: and thou hast not the power to determine their fate (39:41).

            Unto every one of you have We appointed a different law and way of life. And if God had so willed, He could surely have made you all one single community: but He willed it otherwise in order to test you by means of what He has vouchsafed unto you. Vie, then, with one another in doing good works! Unto God you all must return and then He will make you truly understand all that on which you were wont to differ (5:48).

            For never would thy Sustainer destroy a community for wrong beliefs alone so long as its people behave righteously towards one another. And had thy Sustainer so willed, He could surely have made all mankind one single community: but He willed it otherwise, and so they continue to hold divergent views – all of them, save those upon whom thy Sustainer has bestowed His grace.


            And on whatever you may differ, O believers, the verdict thereon rests with God (42:10).

            I was left with the conclusion that various reasons from willful political manipulation to plain misunderstanding the hadiths cannot be counted on as source material to know God. That is why I stick to the Quran.

          • Shepard

            Great reply. I did read all of it while at work. The snow gave me down time. So you only read the Quran. That is fine. The aHadiths though are accepted throughout the majority of Islam which is why I was asked to study them. I will leave the rest to you. No point in arguing. The commentaries on my Quran and the one you assert are truly extensive. But where and what are their sources? For mine, he pulls heavily from the aHadiths. Otherwise, how can you explain the jumping around in the Quran from topic to topic?

          • Joy

            Muhammad (PBUH) did not have intercouse with any woman except after marriage to her, this marriage was not popularly known but still documented. You portray him as one who had excessive sexual appetite but you lie! His wives were mostly widows and divorced women except one. If he was controlled by lust, he would have gone for young attractive girls.

            As for portraying Jesus as one who never had interest in killing, who inspired these verses in the bible?

            Kill Nonbelievers
            They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. (2 Chronicles 15:12-13 NAB)

            God will kill Children
            If even then you remain hostile toward me and refuse to obey, I will inflict you with seven more disasters for your sins. I will release wild animals that will kill your children and destroy your cattle, so your numbers will dwindle and your roads will be deserted. (Leviticus 26:21-22 NLT)

            Leviticus 25:44-46 “Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.”

            Don’t even get me started on the “Old Testament” thing, the bible itself says in Luke 16:17
            “But that doesn’t mean that the law has lost its force. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the smallest point of God’s law to be overturned.”

          • Shepard

            Great research. Glad to respond to you sir. My sources are only the
            Quran, Sahih al-bukhari’s Hadiths and Sahih Muslim, and ibn Ishaq’s 8th
            century biography of Muhammad only when either the Quran of Hadiths
            support it. All my info comes from Islamic sources and not anyone else
            in regards to Muhammad’s actions. If you have a problem, it is not with me, but Muhammad. An apostle of peace doesn’t do what he did.

            had sexual relations to Maryam the Coptic slave of his and she bore him
            Ibrahim who died at 18 months/10 A.H. Muhammad was not married to her.
            Muhammad had atleast 12 wives according to all 4 sources (Quran via commentary)
            Muhammad consumates marriage with Aisha when she was 9. “he would have gone for young attractive girls.” He did.

            Muhammad had several concubines/sex slaves from being captured as
            spoils of war. A few married Muhammad and were thus granted freedom.
            They are:
            Juwairiyah bint Al-Harith (POW Mustaliq -Their fighting men were killed and their women and children were taken as
            captives; the Prophet got Juwairiya on that day.), Rayhana
            (POW of b. Qurazai, Jewish tribe of Medina massacred, Concubine, not
            wife), Safiyah (POW of Khaybar, married and consumated with Muhammad the
            same day of her husband’s torture by Muhammad’s military).
            was in over 38 recorded, military campaigns I have seen with my own
            eyes via the sources. Others are listed, but I have not seen who led the
            fight, the outcome, or the place in my recorded records. I haven’t
            finished Muhammad’s military biography yet.
            Highlights of
            Muhammad’s military campaigns: Banishing of the two Jewish tribes in
            Medina and beheading (600-900 depending on which source) Jewish male
            heads, including a few females according to Aisha. If a boy had pubic
            hair, he was beheaded as well in the market square of Medina in the
            trench Muhammad supposedly dug himself. That day the women and children
            were distributed as booty, including Rayhana.
            Muhammad attacked at dawn (b/c he waited to hear if prayers were prayed) and shouted “Allah akbar!”.

            Muhammad had 5 poets assasinated that are explicitly named in all
            sources (except the Quran which ibn Ishaq points out) for mocking him.

            This section of Muhammad ends…Your Bible question, a valid one, begins…

            is a common misconception muslims have about the Bible. Muhammad
            believed Christians were polytheists because he thought we worshipped
            three Gods (Father God, Son God Jesus, and Mary). His concept of the
            Trinity is incorrect. The Trinity is God the Father, the Son, and the
            Holy Ghost. They are all God but titles to his character, not seperate
            entities. Mary is revered, but not worshiped.
            As for your question that is a common misconception,
            “As for portraying Jesus as one who never had interest in killing, who inspired these verses in the bible?”.
            inspiration was God to Moses, not Jesus. Jesus did not enter the earth
            until 2015 years ago birthed by Mary. Jesus has always existed b/c he is
            of God. He is the promised Messiah the Jewish prophets spoke of between
            2000 B.C. up to Malachi in 4th century B.C. The inspiration was from
            God for the legal code of the State of Israel. There is a difference
            between Divine Law (look to Genesis and God’s intent of man and woman,
            free from sin and no slavery) v. State Law/Ceremonial Law
            (state/ceremonial law is the Law of Moses such as what you mentioned in
            War/Slaves and foods to eat). The Laws of Moses reveal God recognizes
            man’s incarnate nature to sin because mankind is fallen and thus the
            Laws of Moses were made for sinful man.
            God ordained the
            Israelites as he ambassadors to the earth. Through their national
            successes and failures God reveals his handling of the world. Remember
            (unless you never knew) God said he would bless the Jews in Canaan (the
            war verses were directed at the Caanites and no one else
            Genesis-Dueteronomy) who resettled the land called Israel. God would
            also be the purger of the Israelites if they abandoned God (First the
            Northern tribes because they split Israel in two <Judah in the South
            and Israel in the North. Israel in the North was consumed by Assyria in
            722. Judah in the South was consumed by Babylon in 586, but not totally
            destroyed. Jews today come from Judah/Judea, hence Jew). After their
            exile for killing the coming Messiah (Jesus) as mentioned in the prophet
            Isaiah, they would return to Israel reunited, Jerusalem and all. Plus,
            their neighbors would hate them for it. That came true in 1948 and for
            Jerusalem in 1967, nearly 2,000 years later. I mention some Israelite
            history here because the verses you pulled are not in context. The Lord
            chose Isreal and made laws for Israel.
            Response to 2 Chronicles
            15:12-13 NAB- Israel was to be faithful and purge all non believers (in
            contrast to a small nation, the Islamic umma is world wide. This Islamic
            version is far deadlier) b/c they were chosen. They were to be more
            purified from sinful hearts than any other.
            Response to
            (Leviticus 26:21-22 NLT)- This is punishment if Israel rebels against
            the Lord their redeemer. This happens numerous times, I just showed you
            the two biggest destructive examples of Assyria and Babylon.

            Response to Leviticus 25:44-46 and slavery- Slavery could not exist
            beyond 7 years unless the slave VOLUNTARILY submitted himself for life.
            If you also finish reading Leviticus, it deals with their use of labor
            with master abuse a serious crime. It was a sin and a crime to abuse a
            slave. Israel had the best anti slave laws until America and Western
            Europe abolished it. (Yes, Muhammad granted freedom to many slaves. He
            also had many. He also sold many for ransom to fund jihad against the
            Quraish. There are no limits on how long a slave can be held. If the
            slave is a prisoner of war and a female, the male owner, even if married
            may have sexual relations with her. All four sources confirm this. Sura
            4:3 for a quick one, its not the only one).
            Respone to Luke-
            refer above to Divine Law and the Laws of Moses which are Divine and
            others State/Ceremonial. The Ten Commandments is Divine Law, slavery for
            7 years is State Law, and not eating shell fish is Ceremonial Law.
            State and Ceremonial Law often criss cross. Divine law does so as well.

            hope that wasn't too much for you. I meant for the info to be shorter.
            Alas, like I said, all my info comes from Islamic sources and not anyone
            else in regards to Muhammad. If you have a problem with what I said
            about Muhammad, then it is Muhammad you have a problem with. Slaves,
            Warrior, Concubines, 12 wives, etc. Muhammad mentions the Bible a lot.
            As a proper muslim, you should thus be learned in the Bible through and
            through like the Quran. Muhammad abrogates the bible. What he doesn't is
            truth. Therefore, you should see what is abrogated and what is not. Be
            aware of context because your quotes were missing context which is bad. I
            promise to reply shorter next time. Peace be upon you sir.

          • Shepard

            I am not sure why my response came out the way it did so i apologize.

  • Martin Hughes

    To those who say that the religion that exists in the mind of these assassins under the name of Islam is totally inauthentic I would ask why this inauthentic and terrible form has clearly gained such a visible and terrifying degree of support? To those who respond purely with anti-Islamic sentiment I would ask whether legitimate grievance as well as religious delusion played any part?

    • W Maxwell Cassity-Guilliom

      Legitimate grievance in regards to the attack on Charlie Hebdo? No, none at all. It might be said of some militant movements that some portion of grievances are legitimate, but never of terrorism.

      • Martin Hughes

        If the members of group X are being wronged and ill-treated by members of group Z they have legitimate grievances. Surely these do not cease to be legitimate nor the wrongs done to Xs cease to be wrong even if some Xs go to immoral extremes of militancy?

        • W Maxwell Cassity-Guilliom

          I agree with your hypothetical example but it does not apply to this situation. The slaughter of non-militarily-relevant targets has no legitimate basis. There are no grievances that cover any degree of justification for terrorism.

          • Martin Hughes

            I tried to avoid giving a specific example but to look at the logic. If we find from history that Xs were subject to wrong and cruelty by Zs, maybe including murder and rape, and formed militant protest groups which always stopped short of atrocity until a certain date, but then on that day (April 25th1925 or June 3rd 47 BC) some of them snapped and went over the moral cliff we could not say that the murders and rapes were no longer objectionable or that they played no part in the causation of the atrocity. They do not justify the atrocity but that is another matter.

          • W Maxwell Cassity-Guilliom

            No, the problem is with assigning causation when the actions of group X are a non-sequitur. It does not follow from past injustices that some random group of non-combatants be attacked, we would just be blaming the victims.

            Unless you’re talking about causation in a banal way, such as a woman walking home from a theater being assaulted. You could say that her going to the theater was a causal influence on the assault in that it would not have occurred otherwise, but to place blame on anyone except the perpetrator would be absurd. Likewise it may be true the massacre wouldn’t have happened if the magazine didn’t comment on religions, but the fix for that is not to stop it from publishing. We gain nothing from pretending the perpetrators are rational actors with honest motivations, rather than violent, barbarous fanatics. The fact that they gunned down twelve human beings for saying something they didn’t like tells us everything.

          • Martin Hughes

            I take it you don’t disagree with my first point that the sufferings of the Xs remain a serious matter even after some Xs have gone too far.
            If two people both resent something but one acts moderately and the other atrociously the causation of their actions has both something in common which is not trivial, ie the resentment that they share, plus something different, presumably the moderation of one and the rage of the other. What if the woman on her way from the theatre is attacked by two children who suppose that she is responsible for the death of their parents, one of whom merely wishes to confront her while the other loses her temper and lashes out?
            Atrocity cannot by definition be justified – I certainly didn’t mean to suggest otherwise. Even moderate resentment, arising from the same cause, may be completely misconceived and based on false imagination. But it may be a candidate for sympathetic consideration.
            Thiago reminds us, I think, that the proportion of Muslims actually involved in atrocities in the West is so small as to be all but incalculable. That is true. But the school of thought that reacts violently to these insults has, as I mentioned the first time round, a more than trivial presence. This whole discussion starts from Mr.Zafar’s argument that this school of thought is completely and utterly inauthentic within Islam: can the matter really be so clear-cut? Would things really have come to this terrible pass if no shadow of a case could be made the other way?
            As a Christian I’m aware that our scriptures and traditions too have some highly questionable elements

          • W Maxwell Cassity-Guilliom

            The proportion of regressive attitudes among muslims regarding all sorts of issues – free speech, violence, female and homosexual rights, etc – is well documented. There are a handful of methodologically sound muslim opinion polls that tell us rather disappointing things. Though of course as you mention, very few muslims personally participate in atrocities.

            Whether regressive and violent views of muslim scripture accurately represent islamic theology as best interpreted is difficult to say. Like the bible, the quran is sometimes at odds with itself and can be used to justify a number of mutually exclusive and contradicting interpretations depending on how the individual cherry-picks. The difference is that most of the worst stuff from the bible is in the old testament while most of the best is in the new testament, so christians have an easier time cherry-picking. On the other hand the quran maintains a consistent stance against non-believers throughout often with justifications for oppression, including the well-known death penalty for apostasy from islam.

          • Martin Hughes

            I fully agree – as far as I’m competent to judge. I think your knowledge of things Islamic exceeds mine.

          • Martin Hughes

            Just to say that a report flashed past me that one of the leaders of some militant Islamic group in the Middle East has remarked that this sort of atrocity does more harm to Islam than cartoons ever could. This may or may not be accurate theology but it is, as far as it goes, common sense. If that view now comes to prevail fully in the Muslim world then something good will have come out of all this.

    • Thiago Kurovski

      For all the terror and the deaths, we have to remember the entire effort contained no more than a few guys with Kalashnikovs. Terror tactics are popular because they serve as a force multiplier, though a very dubious one…

  • Terry

    While we all would like to believe that Choudary is the outlier here, that is not the case. If these cartoons were to be published anywhere where Muslims are in power, those responsible would be put to death.

    Are you next going to tell us that Islam peacefully allows conversions to other faiths?

    • Thiago Kurovski

      Turkey? Tunisia? Morocco? Egypt?

      • FA Miniter

        But definitely not in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan or Pakistan.

    • Qudsia

      Yes, Terry, Islam most definitely allows free conversion to and from Islam. That is another misconception spread by some so called Muslim scholars who want control over the masses under their influence. But you are right that most Muslim majority countries have little respect for freedom of speech and expression, and most unfortunately they express their ignorance in the name of Islam.

  • Yasir Ali

    anjum choudary should go to iraq and join ISIS he dont have the courage to do what he preaches to his followers

  • Hyder Noori

    The same historic sources showing Mohammed’s tolerance for insults also show us a violent man who ordered the assassination of poets who mocked and ridiculed him.
    These sources also tell us how Mohammed executed war prisoners in more than one occasion (not always, of course)
    until you, moderate muslims, sum up the courage to deal with ALL the baggage of Islam/Mohammed, muslims will continue to slaughter each other as well as others in the name of religion.
    Cherry picking stories will only make matters worse.

  • Ryan Stephens

    The article was a good read, but I noticed you omitted incidents like Bani Qurayza. It’s well documented that the prophet ordered the killing of more than 600 men. It’s one thing to make an argument for the peaceful nature of the religion, but it’s nullified when you try to re-write history. Christians, for example, don’t have this problem because Jesus never ordered anyone’s death so far as records indicate. You have to deal with that problem in Islam, and you can’t just pretend it didn’t happen.

    • Aqeel

      This idea that 600 were killed is totally false. The first reason is that the author of the book the Sira where this is written did not challenge the authenticity of his sources, in fact many scholars disagree with what he has written because of the fact that there are several things such as poems which are in fact forged. Malik, who is not one of your modern Muslims as he lived just after the time the Sira was published which was about 200 years after the prophet, called him a liar and an imposter. Secondly if this was done why wasn’t it taken as the correct course of actions for the treatment of Jews. Even after this event all the jewish tribes were freed which would not happen if this killing was taken as the norm.

      • Shepard

        600 is totally false, I agree. It was up to 900. ibn Ishaq, Sahih al-Bukaria. Muhammad dug a trench in Medina’s market, sent the jews out in batches, and inspected if they had pubic hair. Those old enough were beheaded until they were eradicated. The women were divided as booty (literally) for slavery or sold as ransom. Also, the hadiths and tradition are just as valid as the 5 pillars of Islam. Sure they are in the Quran, but never are they mentioned together but sometimes vaguely throughout. Question Bukahri, then question Islam

  • Shepard

    I guess the author here didn’t know about his assasinations of poets after the Hijrah and his hit list when he occupied Mecca and had quite a few people killed despite his declared prohibition to the city before entry.
    Ibnal Ashraf, Amr b. Jihash, Sallam ibn Abu’l-Huqaya, Abu Afak (he was 100), and Asmad Marwan ( a female poet he chastised M for murdering Asmad).
    This is on top of his over 38 military operations of raiding caravans, pitched battles against the Meccan coalitions, the exiling of two jewish tribes of Medina, the capturing and beheading of 900 Jewish males of the Banu Quraish and the dividing up of the women and children for ransom, slavery, and sexual gratification.
    O, Muhammad had several sex slaves. Thankfully, Allah cordoned his sexual graitification in the Quran allowing Muhammad to have sex with his wives and what his “right hand possesses” which were prisoners of war. These prisoners of war were women. Maryam was a Coptic slave that bore him Ibrahim. Prisoners of War he captured were Rahayna ,Safiyah (after her husband was tortured and killed in Khaybar), and Juwayriya. There are others not named.

    Muhammad was the first so called prophet to wage war and enslave women for booty. Literally. He was also the only person allowed to spill blood in Mecca during his occupation, which he did with his hitlist and those few who resisted. He spoke beautifully early in his career (610-622), but after he moved to Medina (Hijra) and began its take over, he changed as did his revelations. Before he had an army, “there is no compulsion in religion”. After he amassed an estimated 10,000 soldiers marching towards Mecca, “there cannot be two religions in the Arabian peninsula”.
    (note* spellings are not uniformed in regards to names but are most common).