Muhammad's Commands in War Hoax

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There is a wide-spread meme on the internet listing supposed war commands ("war etiquette") from Muhammad. The meme doesn't contain any sources from the Quran or the hadiths.

"Muhammed's (PBUH) commands in Wars" meme hoax

The commands

Don't cut a tree

What exactly is wrong about cutting a tree? Is it wrong to make paper from trees and print the Quran?

There is some truth to it, since Muhammad prohibited cutting down lote-trees:

Narrated Abdullah ibn Habashi:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: If anyone cuts the lote-tree, Allah brings him headlong into Hell.

Abu Dawud was asked about the meaning of this tradition. He said: This is a brief tradition. It means that if anyone cuts uselessly, unjustly and without any right a lote-tree under the shade of which travellers and beasts take shelter, Allah will bring him into Hell headlong.

But what does this have to do with war? And it was only about lote-trees. Besides that, Muhammad burned and cut down palm-trees of the tribe Banu Nadir:

It was narrated from Ibn ‘Umar that the Prophet (ﷺ) burned the palm trees of Banu Nadir and cut them down. Concerning that, their poet said: “It is easy for the elite of Banu Luai – To burn Al-Buwairah in a Frightening manner.”


Don't kill a woman

So killing men is ok? And what if an army of women attacks Muslims?

There is a hadith, where Muhammad disapproves killing women and children:

Narrated `Abdullah:

During some of the Ghazawat of the Prophet (ﷺ) a woman was found killed. Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) disapproved the killing of women and children.


The translator chose not to translate the word مغازي (maghazi) and used "Ghazawat", which is not even a transliteration of the original Arabic text. It means "military expeditions" [1], but probably didn't sound peaceful, so he rather went with mysterious "Ghazawat".

So in that hadith Muhammad disapproved of killing women and children, but there is also another hadith where he states a different opinion:

It is reported on the authority of Sa'b b. Jaththama that the Prophet of Allah (ﷺ), when asked about the women and children of the polytheists being killed during the night raid, said:

They are from them. (هم منهم, hum min-hum)


So in this hadith, he preferred "hum min-hum" war philosophy, where you can kill women and children.

But let's go back to the first hadith: Why did Muhammad disapprove killing women?

Narrated Sahl ibn al-Hanzaliyyah:

On the day of Hunayn we travelled with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and we journeyed for a long time until the evening came. I attended the prayer along with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ).

A horseman came and said: Messenger of Allah, I went before you and climbed a certain mountain where saw Hawazin all together with their women, cattle, and sheep, having gathered at Hunayn.

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) smiled and said: That will be the booty of the Muslims tomorrow if Allah wills.


Abu Sa’id Al Khudri said “The Apostle of Allaah(ﷺ) sent a military expedition to Awtas on the occasion of the battle of Hunain. They met their enemy and fought with them. They defeated them and took them captives. Some of the Companions of Apostle of Allaah (ﷺ) were reluctant to have relations with the female captives because of their pagan husbands. So, Allaah the exalted sent down the Qur’anic verse “And all married women (are forbidden) unto you save those (captives) whom your right hand posses.” This is to say that they are lawful for them when they complete their waiting period.


Then the apostle sent Sa-d b. Zayd al-Ansari, brother of Abdu'l-Ashal with some of the captive women of Banu Qurayza to Najd and he sold them for horses and weapons.


Ibn Ishaq, p. 693

So it is true, that in some battles Muhammad and his army didn't kill women, but it was not out of respect for women, but out of lust for sex and greed for money (in case of selling them on the market). The enslaved women had no choice and were treated as a property.

Don't kill a child

This overlaps with the previous section about killing women. It's either "hum min-hum" or enslavement.

Don't kill a sick person

There's no hadith mentioning this prohibition. [2]

Don't kill old people

An old man had a sense of humor: When the Muslims prayed by placing their heads to the ground, he took a piece of the ground and put it on his forhead and said that this is enough for him. Let's see how Muslims reacted to his joke:

Narrated 'Abdullah:

The Prophet (ﷺ) recited Surat-an-Najm and then prostrated himself, and all who were with him prostrated too. But an old man took a handful of dust and touched his forehead with it saying, "This is sufficient for me." Later on I saw him killed as an infidel.


Besides this there are two weak (da'if) hadiths in Abi Dawud, one says "Do not kill a decrepit old man" [3], but the other says "Kill the old men who are polytheists" [4]. So which one should we trust?

Also look at The Story of Umm Qirfa.

Don't kill a monk or a priest

There is no hadith mentioning this prohibition. [5]

But there is a Quranic verse commanding Muslims to fight against the people of The Book (that is The Bible), because they don't believe in Muhammad:

Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture - [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.


Don't destroy a temple or a church

Muhammad destroyed the mosque Ad-Dirar:

"The Messenger of God proceeded until he halted in Dhu Awan, a town an hour’s daytime journey from Medina. The people who had built the Mosque of Dissent (masjid al-dirar) had come to him while he was preparing for Tabuk saying, ‘O Messenger of God, we have built a mosque for the sick and needy and for rainy and cold nights, and we would like you to visit us and pray for us in it.’ [The Prophet] said that he was on the verge of traveling, and he was preoccupied, or words to that effect, and that when he returned, God willing, he would come to them and pray for them in it. When he stopped in Dhu Awan, news of the mosque came to him, and he summoned Malik b. al-Dukhshum, a brother of the Banu Salim b. ‘Awf, and Ma’n b. ‘Adi, or his brother ‘Asim b. ‘Adi, brothers of the Banu al-‘Ajlan, and said, "Go to this mosque whose owners are unjust people and destroy and burn it". They went out briskly until they came to the Banu Salim b. ‘Awf who were Malik b. al-Dukhshum’s clan. Malik said to Ma’n, "Wait for me until I bring fire from my people." He went to his kinsfolk and took a palm branch and lighted it. Then both of them ran until they entered the mosque, its people inside, set fire to it and destroyed it and the people dispersed. Concerning this, it was revealed in the Quran...


Tabari, Volume 9, The last Years of the Prophet, pg 60-61

He didn't prohibit destroying temples and churches, but he gave this advice:

It was narrated that Talq bin 'Ali said: "We went out as a delegation to the Prophet (ﷺ); we gave him our oath of allegiance and prayed with him. We told him that in our land there was a church that belonged to us. We asked him to give us the leftovers of his purification (Wudu' water). So he called for water, performed Wudu' and rinsed out his mouth, then he poured it into a vessel and said to us: 'Leave, and when you return to your land, demolish your church, and sprinkle this water on that place, and take it as a Masjid.' We said: 'Our land is far away and it is very hot; the water is far away and it is very hot; the water will dry up.' He said: 'Add more water to it, for that will only make it better.' So we left and when we came to our land we demolished our church, then we sprinkled the water on that place and took it as a Masjid, and we called the Adhan in it. The monk was a man from Tayy', and when he heard the Adhan, he said: 'It is a true call.' Then he headed toward one of the hills and we never saw him again."


Kaba was a holy place for the pagans. They had 360 idols there. Muhammad destroyed them:

Narrated `Abdullah:

When the Prophet (ﷺ) entered Mecca on the day of the Conquest, there were 360 idols around the Ka`ba. The Prophet (ﷺ) started striking them with a stick he had in his hand and was saying, "Truth has come and Falsehood will neither start nor will it reappear.

So destroying mosques, churches, temples and pagan idols is a part of sunnah.

Don't disfigure the dead

This one is true.

Narrated `Abdullah bin Yazid Al-Ansari:

The Prophet (ﷺ) forbade robbery (taking away what belongs to others without their permission), and also forbade mutilation (or maiming) of bodies.


But he disfigured the living!

Narrated Abu Qilaba:

Anas said, "Some people of `Ukl or `Uraina tribe came to Medina and its climate did not suit them. So the Prophet (ﷺ) ordered them to go to the herd of (Milch) camels and to drink their milk and urine (as a medicine). So they went as directed and after they became healthy, they killed the shepherd of the Prophet and drove away all the camels. The news reached the Prophet (ﷺ) early in the morning and he sent (men) in their pursuit and they were captured and brought at noon. He then ordered to cut their hands and feet (and it was done), and their eyes were branded with heated pieces of iron, They were put in 'Al-Harra' and when they asked for water, no water was given to them." Abu Qilaba said, "Those people committed theft and murder, became infidels after embracing Islam and fought against Allah and His Apostle ."


Don't destroy a building

Why is this mentioned separately from "Don't destroy a temple or a church"? If all buildings are forbidden to destroy, then it would automatically include temples and churches.

So this topic was already covered in the section "Don't destroy a temple or a church".

Don't kill an animal except for eating

Muhammad had no problem with killing these animals:

It was narrated that Ibn Umar said: "Hafsha the wife of the Prophet said: 'The Messenger of Allah said: Thee are five animals for which there is no sin on the one who kill them: Scorpions, crows, kites, mice and vicious dogs.'"


Don't kill those who surrendered

Let's look at the genocide of Banu Qurayza:

Then they surrendered, and the apostle confined them in Medina in the quarter of d. al-Harith, a woman of B. al-Najjar. Then the apostle went out to the market of Medina (which is still its market today) and dug trenches in it. Then he sent for them and struck off their heads in those trenches as they were brought out to him in batches. Among them was the enemy of Allah Huyayy b. Akhtab and Ka`b b. Asad their chief. There were 600 or 700 in all, though some put the figure as high as 800 or 900.


Ibn Ishaq

Be good to the prisoners and feed them

Since Muslims took as captives those who surrendered, this was already discussed in the previous section.

There is an interesting (or morally disgusting) story about the revelation circumstances of the verse 8:67. This is what Asbab An-Nuzul says:

When the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, consulted the Muslims about the prisoners of Badr, they said: 'O Messenger of Allah, they are your cousins, so free them in exchange for a ransom'. 'Umar ibn al-Khattab said: 'No, O Messenger of Allah, you should kill them'. Then this verse was revealed (It is not for any prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land)”. Said Ibn 'Umar: “The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, consulted Abu Bakr regarding the prisoners of Badr, and the latter said: 'They are your people and clan, let them go!' But when he consulted 'Umar, the latter said: 'Kill them'. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, freed them in exchange for a ransom. Allah, exalted is He, then revealed (It is not for any prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land) up to his words (Now enjoy what ye have won, as lawful and good…) [8:69]. When the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, met 'Umar, he said to him: 'We almost incurred a misfortune as a result of opposing your view!'


Asbab An-Nuzul, on verse 8:67

So Abu Bakr wanted to set the prisoners free for ransom, while Umar wanted to kill them. Muhammad chose the less cruel option, but then "fortunately" Allah sent them a message, that killing is a better way. So it turned out, that Umar's "great idea" was better in the eyes of Allah.

Don't kill who ran away

It's cruel to kill the poor person who run away, but according to Muhammad, it's perfectly ok.

It was narrated from Jarir that: The Prophet [SAW] said: "If a slave runs away to the land of Shirk, it becomes permissible to shed his blood."


Don't enforce Islam

There is a lot of hadith to chose from..

It has been reported from Sulaiman b. Buraida through his father that when the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) appointed anyone as leader of an army or detachment he would especially exhort him to fear Allah and to be good to the Muslims who were with him. He would say:

Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war, do not embezzle the spoils; do not break your pledge; and do not mutilate (the dead) bodies; do not kill the children. When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them. Then invite them to migrate from their lands to the land of the Muhajireen and inform them that, if they do so, they shall have all the privileges and obligations of the Muhajireen. If they refuse to migrate, tell them that they will have the status of Bedouin Muslims and will be subjected to the Commands of Allah like other Muslims, but they will not get any share from the spoils of war or Fai' except when they actually fight with the Muslims (against the disbelievers). If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah's help and fight them.


So it's either Islam, extortion or death.

Besides attacking non-Muslims and forcing them to convert to Islam, when a Muslim decides to leave Islam, he should also be killed, according to Muhammad:

Narrated `Ikrima:

Some Zanadiqa (atheists) were brought to `Ali and he burnt them. The news of this event, reached Ibn `Abbas who said, "If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) forbade it, saying, 'Do not punish anybody with Allah's punishment (fire).' I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah's Messenger (ﷺ), 'Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.'"


Because of these terroristic teachings, even today, ex-Muslims all over the world have to deal with death threats.

See Also

  • Hoaxes - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Hoaxes

References

  1. https://www.almaany.com/en/dict/ar-en/%D9%85%D8%BA%D8%A7%D8%B2%D9%8A/
  2. https://sunnah.com/search/?q=don%27t+kill+sick
  3. "Narrated Anas ibn Malik: The Prophet (ﷺ) said: Go in Allah's name, trusting in Allah, and adhering to the religion of Allah's Apostle. Do not kill a decrepit old man, or a young infant, or a child, or a woman; do not be dishonest about booty, but collect your spoils, do right and act well, for Allah loves those who do well." Sunan Abu Dawud 14:2608
  4. "Narrated Samurah ibn Jundub: The Prophet (ﷺ) said: Kill the old men who are polytheists, but spare their children." Sunan Abu Dawud 14:2664
  5. https://sunnah.com/search/?q=kill+priest