Continuing my responses to the disingenuous Islamic apologetics of Ahmadiyya leader Rizwan Khan in reply to Hugh Fitzgerald.
16. How did Muhammad react when he heard that a 120-year-old Jewish poet, Abu ‘Afak, had been killed?
Where is the name Abu ‘Afak mentioned anywhere in the six authentic books of Hadith?
As for blasphemy, the Quran rejects any worldly punishment against those who mock the signs of Allah, their account will be in the hereafter: [4:141] “And He has already revealed to you in the Book that, when you hear the Signs of Allah being denied and mocked at, sit not with them until they engage in a talk other than that; for in that case you would be like them. Surely, Allah will assemble the hypocrites and the disbelievers in Hell, all together;”(4:141), “And bear patiently all that they say; and part with them in a decent manner.” (73:11)
As opposed to this, the Bible teaches: “Anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them. Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death.” (Leviticus 24:16)
Once again Rizwan Khan hopes that you don’t know that authoritative material is not found only in the Qur’an and six authentic books of Hadith. The killing of Abu Afak (which pleased Muhammad) is recounted in three of the earliest biographies of Muhammad: that of Ibn Ishaq, al-Waqidi, and Ibn Sa’d. And in reality, there is much support in the Qur’an and Sunnah for the death penalty for blasphemy. It can arguably be found in this verse: “Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment.” (5:33)
Also: “Those who annoy Allah and His Messenger – Allah has cursed them in this World and in the Hereafter, and has prepared for them a humiliating Punishment” (33:57)
And: “If they violate their oaths after pledging to keep their covenants, and attack your religion, you may fight the leaders of paganism – you are no longer bound by your covenant with them – that they may refrain” (9:12).
There is more in the hadith: Asma bint Marwan and Abu Afak were not isolated incidents. In one account, Muhammad asked: “Who is willing to kill Ka’b bin Al-Ashraf who has hurt Allah and His Apostle?” One of the Muslims, Muhammad bin Maslama, answered, “O Allah’s Apostle! Would you like that I kill him?” When Muhammad said that he would, Muhammad bin Maslama said, “Then allow me to say a (false) thing (i.e. to deceive Kab).” Muhammad responded: “You may say it.” Muhammad bin Maslama duly lied to Ka’b, luring him into his trap, and murdered him. (Bukhari 5.59.369)
“A Jewess used to abuse the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) and disparage him. A man strangled her till she died. The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) declared that no recompense was payable for her blood.” (Sunan Abu-Dawud 38.4349)
As for the Bible quote, Judaism and Christianity have both developed interpretative traditions that reject the literal understanding and contemporary applicability of those passages. Islam has never done so for the Qur’an’s violent passages.
17. How are non-Muslims described in the Qur’an? (see 98.6)
Opponents of Islam who try to quote this verse usually misquote it in a misleading way by leaving out the words “those who disbelieve from among”.
The verse under question: “Verily, those who disbelieve from among the People of the Book and the idolaters will be in the Fire of Hell, abiding therein. They are the worst of creatures.” (98:7)
The Quran does not give blanket endorsements or condemnations of people, it speaks of actions. The Quran always praises the People of the Book when they do good actions and condemns them when they do evil actions. The Quran says: “They are not all alike. Among the People of the Book there is a party who stand by their covenant; they recite the word of Allah in the hours of night and prostrate themselves before Him.They believe in Allah and the Last Day, and enjoin what is good and forbid evil, and hasten, vying with one another, in good works. And these are among the righteous. And whatever good they do, they shall not be denied its due reward; and Allah well knows the God-fearing.” (3:114-116)
When the People of the Book did evil actions, they were condemned as the worst of creation. When they did good actions, they were praised as the best of people in the Quran: “O children of Israel! remember My favour which I bestowed upon you and that I exalted you above the peoples.” (2:48, 123)
“They are not all alike indeed.” The distinction here is very simple: “those who disbelieve from among the People of the Book” are the People of the Book who have remained Jews and Christians. Those who “believe in Allah and the Last Day” are those who have become Muslims. So the Qur’an’s designation of “the most vile of created beings” refers to Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians — the People of the Book — who do not convert to Islam.
18. How are Muslims described in the Qur’an? (see 3.110)
Again, the Quran does not give blanket endorsements or condemnations of people, it speaks of actions.
The Quran praises the Muslims as long as they do the good actions of enjoining good and forbidding evil: “You are the best people raised for the good of mankind; you enjoin what is good and forbid evil and believe in Allah.” (3:111)
However, if they do evil actions, the Quran describes Muslims as hypocrites who will be the worst of people: “The hypocrites shall surely be in the lowest depth of the Fire; and thou shalt find no helper for them,” (4:146)
If Muslims do good actions, they are the best of people, and if Muslims do evil actions, they are the worst of people.
“The Quran praises the Muslims as long as they do the good actions of enjoining good and forbidding evil.” Exactly. So Muslims who think this way consider themselves to be praiseworthy in the sight of Allah when they are working to impose Sharia, which is, according to Islamic doctrine, the full articulation of the divine will regarding what is good and what is evil.
19. Why do so many non-Arab Muslims take Arabic names?
Ask those non-Arab Muslims who take Arabic names, they are responsible for justifying their own actions. Islam is a religion. Religion is what is written in its scripture, which in Islam is the Quran and the authentic Ahadith that do not contradict the Quran.
The Quran teaches that true honor comes from one’s righteousness, not one’s tribe: “O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female; and We have made you into tribes and sub-tribes that you may recognize one another. Verily, the most honourable among you, in the sight of Allah, is he who is the most righteous among you. Surely, Allah is All-knowing, All-Aware.” (49:14)
Once again, Rizwan Khan is omitting some salient hadiths: “Arabs are the most noble people in lineage, the most prominent, and the best in deeds. We were the first to respond to the call of the Prophet. We are Allah’s helpers and the viziers of His Messenger. We fight people until they believe in Allah. He who believes in Allah and His Messenger has protected his life and possessions from us. As for one who disbelieves, we will fight him forever in Allah’s Cause. Killing him is a small matter to us.” (Tabari vol. IX, 69) And: “Narrated Jabir bin Samura: I heard the Prophet saying, “There will be twelve Muslim rulers (who will rule all the Islamic world).” He then said a sentence which I did not hear. My father said, “All of them (those rulers) will be from Quraish.” (Bukhari 9:89:329) The Quraish are the Arabs of Mecca, Muhammad’s tribe.
20. When does the doctrine of “abrogation” (naskh) in Qur’anic interpretation apply?
The first verse that is used to justify “abrogation” is, “And when We bring one Sign (اية) in place of another — and Allah knows best what He reveals — they say, ‘Thou art but a fabricator.’ Nay, but most of them know not” (16:102). Here, the word اية is sometimes translated as ‘verse’ or ‘message,’ but it primarily means ‘sign.’ Signs can be changed, but the words of Allah Almighty can never be changed, “No change is there in the words of Allah.” (10:65)
The second verse that is used to justify the idea of abrogation is 2:107, which is quoted here with its preceding verse, “They who disbelieve from among the People of the Book, or from among those who associate gods with Allah, desire not that any good should be sent down to you from your Lord; but Allah chooses for His mercy whomsoever He pleases; and Allah is of exceeding bounty. Whatever Sign (اية) We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring one better than that or the like thereof. Dost thou not know that Allah has the power to do all that He wills?”(2:106-107)
Here, again, the word اية is used which primarily has the meaning of ‘sign.’ If the word ‘sign’ is interpreted to mean ‘verse,’ then this verse simply means that God Almighty sends down the perfect teachings of the Quran to replace those teachings of previous religions that are deficient or forgotten. To interpret this verse to mean that certain verses of the Quran cancel other verses of the Quran is an interpretation that goes contrary to the context of the verse itself. On one hand, God Almighty says that disbelievers from the People of the Book do not desire that any good be sent down to the Prophet (sa), and then immediately after He says that He sends down verses that are obsolete and cancelled by others; such an interpretation goes contrary to common sense and can only be forced by ignoring context and the remainder of the Quran.
In authentic sayings of the Prophet (sa), there is no mention anywhere of the Prophet (sa) saying that any verse was cancelled. There is clear mention of abrogation of far less significant teachings, like Ahadith. Prophet Muhammad (sa) said, “I forbade you to visit graves, but you may now visit them; I forbade you to eat the flesh of sacrificial animals after three days, but you way now keep it as along as you feel inclined; and I forbade you nabidh except in a water-skin, you may (now) drink it from all kinds of water-skins, but you must not drink anything intoxicating.” (Sahih Muslim) In Ahadith, there are repeated mentions of instances when verses were revealed; and even mention of the abrogation of certain Ahadith. The abrogation of a verse of the Holy Quran would have been of highest significance. The complete absence of any mention of it leaves this entire idea as nothing more than a speculation of people after Prophet Muhammad (sa), and no Muslim is religiously obliged to believe in or defend the speculations of scholars.
Indeed, there is disagreement among Muslim scholars as to whether verses of the Qur’an can be or have been abrogated. Yet when there are flat contradictions, there are some scholars who do hold that Qur’an verses have been abrogated. For example, 2:219 says that in alcohol there is “some benefit,” but in 5:90 it says alcohol is the “work of Satan.” Many hold that 2:219 was abrogated by 5:90. And according to an early Muslim, Mujahid ibn Jabr, said that the famous “there is no compulsion in religion” verse (2:256) was abrogated by Qur’an 9:29, in which the Muslims are commanded to fight against and subjugate the People of the Book.
The doctrine of abrogation is only really important in a practical sense to non-Muslims because of its relevance to the Qur’an’s varying statements about warfare against unbelievers. But even without it, Muslim scholars throughout history have recognized an evolution in the Qur’an’s teaching on warfare. The eighth-century biographer of Muhammad Ibn Ishaq explains the progression of Qur’anic revelation about warfare. First, he explains, Allah allowed Muslims to wage defensive warfare. But that was not Allah’s last word on the circumstances in which Muslims should fight. Ibn Ishaq explains offensive jihad by invoking a Qur’anic verse: “Then God sent down to him: ‘Fight them so that there be no more seduction,’ i.e. until no believer is seduced from his religion. ‘And the religion is God’s’, i.e. Until God alone is worshipped.” The Qur’an verse Ibn Ishaq quotes here (2:193; cf. also 8:39) commands much more than defensive warfare: Muslims must fight until “the religion is God’s” — that is, until Allah alone is worshipped. It’s unclear whether he was saying the earlier verses were abrogated or not, but it doesn’t really matter: the key point is the offensive warfare against unbelievers is the final stage of the Qur’an’s statements on the topic.
Ibn Ishaq is by no means alone in this. The great medieval scholar Ibn Qayyim (1292-1350) also outlines the stages of the Muhammad’s prophetic career: “For thirteen years after the beginning of his Messengership, he called people to God through preaching, without fighting or Jizyah, and was commanded to restrain himself and to practice patience and forbearance. Then he was commanded to migrate, and later permission was given to fight. Then he was commanded to fight those who fought him, and to restrain himself from those who did not make war with him. Later he was commanded to fight the polytheists until God’s religion was fully established.”
In other words, he initially could fight only defensively — only “those who fought him” — but later he could fight the polytheists until Islam was “fully established.” He could fight them even if they didn’t fight him first, and solely because they were not Muslim.
21. Under what conditions can a Muslim man beat his wife?
A Muslim should follow the example of Prophet Muhammad (sa) and never hit his wife. Sahih Muslim narrates: “’A’isha reported that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) never beat anyone with his hand, neither a woman nor a servant” (https://sunnah.com/muslim/43/108)
If people do want to resolve their differences with physical friction, no one can stop two consenting adults from hitting each other if no one is harmed. All one can do is give both husband and wife complete freedom to leave the relationship whenever either wants. Islam places restrictions on men in such situations. Tirmidhi narrates the final guidance of Prophet Muhammad (sa) at the Farewell Pilgrimage, where he commanded men to be good to women. However “if they come with manifest Fahishah (evil behavior). If they do that, then abandon their beds and beat them with a beating that is not harmful.” (https://sunnah.com/tirmidhi/12/18) If a couple wishes to remain in a dysfunctional relationship despite every scriptural right in Islam to leave, and they somehow find a way of beating each other without actually harming each other, then they are free to do as they please as consenting adults.
The hadith are full of contradictory material. Muhammad sat by as a woman was violently beaten: Ibn Ishaq records that when Muhammad was trying to determine whether or not his favorite wife, Aisha, was guilty of adultery, he asked a slave, Burayra: “So the apostle called Burayra to ask her, and Ali got up and gave her a violent beating, saying ‘Tell the Apostle the truth.’” (Ibn Ishaq 734) Muhammad is not recorded as having rebuked Ali for violently beating this woman.
Muhammad also struck Aisha himself. She recounted that Muhammad “struck me on the chest which caused me pain, and then said: Did you think that Allah and His Apostle would deal unjustly with you?” — Aisha (Muslim 2127)
And of course this is based on the Qur’an: “Men have authority over women because Allah has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because Allah has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them.” — Qur’an 4:34
22. What is the Muslim Heaven like?
Heaven as described in Islam as an experience that a person will perceive through their spiritual senses. It is explained in metaphors. To interpret heaven literally is an interpretation that contradicts the Quran: “But whoso is blind in this world will be blind in the Hereafter, and even more astray from the way.” (17:73)
To interpret the women in paradise literally is also an absurdity. Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim describe the beauty of the women in paradise as follows: “the marrow of the bones of the wives’ legs will be seen through the flesh” (https://sunnah.com/riyadussaliheen/20/14). There is no conceivable way to interpret such descriptions sexually or physically. The purity of the spiritual spouses of paradise is described in Islam.
It may be an absurdity, but many Muslims do take these passages literally. IslamQA quotes two Qur’an passages: “And We shall marry them to Hoor (fair females) with wide lovely eyes” (44:54) and “They will recline (with ease) on thrones arranged in ranks. And We shall marry them to Hoor (fair females) with wide lovely eyes (52:20), and then goes on to explain: “Al-hoor al-‘iyn are extremely beautiful, such that the marrow of their shins will be visible from beneath their garments. Every man who enters Paradise will have two wives from among al-hoor al-‘iyn.” Clearly IslamQA, which is managed by numerous prominent imams, takes this “absurdity” quite literally.
23. When can a Muslim father punish his daughter without fear of being punished himself?
Where is this mentioned anywhere in the Quran or sayings of Prophet Muhammad (sa)?
In sura 18 of the Qur’an. Khadir, or Khidr, a mysterious figure so named only in Islamic tradition, not in the Qur’anic passage itself, is traveling with Moses, and: “Then they proceeded: until, when they met a young man, he [Khadir] killed him. Moses said: “Have you killed an innocent person who had killed no one? Truly a foul thing you have done!” Khadir replies: “As for the youth, his parents were people of faith, and we feared that he would grieve them by obstinate rebellion and ingratitude. So we desired that their Lord would give them in exchange one better in purity and closer in affection….” (18:74, 18:80-81).
That’s an odd passage in the middle of an unusual section in the Qur’an, but a hadith brings its connection to honor killing into clearer light: ““The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) used not to kill the children, so you should not kill them unless you could know what Khadir had known about the child he killed, or you could distinguish between a child who would grow up to he a believer (and a child who would grow up to be a non-believer), so that you killed the (prospective) non-believer and left the (prospective) believer aside.” (Muslim 4457)
The same principle is enshrined in Islamic law: A manual of Islamic law certified by Al-Azhar as a reliable guide to Sunni orthodoxy says that “retaliation is obligatory against anyone who kills a human being purely intentionally and without right.” However, “not subject to retaliation” is “a father or mother (or their fathers or mothers) for killing their offspring, or offspring’s offspring.” (Reliance of the Traveller o1.1-2). In other words, someone who kills his child incurs no legal penalty under Islamic law.
This law has had its effect on Islamic culture. Muslims commit 91 percent of honor killings worldwide. The Palestinian Authority gives pardons or suspended sentences for honor murders. Iraqi women have asked for tougher sentences for Islamic honor murderers, who get off lightly now. Syria in 2009 scrapped a law limiting the length of sentences for honor killings, but “the new law says a man can still benefit from extenuating circumstances in crimes of passion or honour ‘provided he serves a prison term of no less than two years in the case of killing.’” And in 2003 the Jordanian Parliament voted down on Islamic grounds a provision designed to stiffen penalties for honor killings. Al-Jazeera reported that “Islamists and conservatives said the laws violated religious traditions and would destroy families and values.”
Until the encouragement Islamic law gives to honor killing is acknowledged and confronted, more women will suffer.
But Rizwan Khan prefers to sweep all this under the rug, rather than confront and reform it.