Questions asked anonymously, answered by Theresa Corbin, and originally published on Al Jumuah
There are so many untruths spreading through the Western world (and have been for centuries) about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). For those of us who love and deeply respect the Prophet, these egregious fallacies can be hard to fathom, much less refute. But we must answer the hard questions for those who are curious and have been wading through the mountain of ignorant cant about this noble man.
And recently, I had the honor to do just that for one brave person who chose to ask a Muslim –and not the number of unreliable sources out there– honest questions that were born out of research into Islam. I hope that sharing the following Q&A can help others clear up some of the misconceptions and malicious errors about the Prophet (PBUH), his example, and the message of Islam.
Q:Why would Muhammad send followers to loot and raid caravans travelling through Madinah? OK, so it was an accepted practice at the time, but you kind of wish that your prophet could rise above stuff like stealing and killing.
A: This is one weapon Islamophobes use to paint the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as a war monger. But they don’t seem ever to talk about the context: that would put a damper on the claims they are trying to make.
The polytheists of Makkah during the time of Revelation tortured, killed, starved out the Muslims. When the Muslims made their exodus from Makkah for Madinah, they had to do so in secret for fear of being murdered. And that meant they would escape only with what they could carry for a safer place to live and to worship God alone.
I have been walking around the past few days in a serious funk, wondering what was bringing me down. I had been attributing it to the news.
I woke up Wednesday to the news of 3 beautiful, intelligent, young Muslims murdered in their home by an Anti-theist who hypocritically claimed religion is the source of violence and hatred in the world.
On Thursday, I researched a case of a mosque burning in Ohio in 2012 where the criminal who set the blaze claimed he never met a Muslim and did not know what Islam was beyond what he heard on Fox News and talk radio.
Then I came upon a story where a women murdered a fellow human being by pushing him in front of an oncoming subway because, as she said, “I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I’ve been beating them up.” Her conflating of the two vastly different faiths shows her obvious ignorance.
Just this morning, I read news of an Islamic community and education center in Houston, TX that has burned down (it is not known yet if this was an accident or a hate crime). And I read about the murder of a 15 year old Muslim in Kansas at the hands of a man who harassed and taunted him for his faith.
I read several posts in my Facebook news feed over the past few days of Muslim women being insulted and harassed.
These crimes against humanity lay at the feet of Muslim Extremists, White supremacists, Christian Extremists, Fox News Talking heads, Talk radio bigots, Islamophobes, Anti-theists, and anyone who spreads hate and cheers in the face of lost lives and violence. It is my hope that these crimes will make them lose sleep and in the process lose their insane ideologies.
It is a distinctly sinking and sickening feeling to know that people hate you, want to see you suffer, want to kill you … people who don’t even know you. It is horrifying knowing that the media and well-organized and well-funded groups are implicit in twisting my religion and spreading lies to create this hatred of me and my people. It is most terrifying knowing that some weak-minded and uneducated Muslims play into this twisting of Islam and perpetuate these lies!
But still, this was not entirely the source of my melancholy.
Media lies and dehumanization of Muslims is nothing new. Islamophobes and their dark hearts have campaigned to distort my faith and defame me, my brothers, and sisters since the 7th century. Muslim ignorance and intolerance has been rife since Muslim majority lands have been torn apart, colonized, and continually destabilized by Western powers. And I have lived knowing these facts for more than 13 years.
However, the funk I was in took a different shape when I watched a lecture on YouTube by Nouman Ali Khan, a bright scholar of Quran and the Arabic language. While watching his lecture, I realized that nothing that will happen to the Muslims will be worse than the death of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH-peace be upon him).
I realized I was mourning the loss of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), a man I knew so well, but had never met. Yes, I had been depressed because of the lost lives and fear my community is facing. But also because in this time of crisis we will never again have Muhammad (PBUH) to lead us with the ultimate wisdom and mercy he came with.
It was the guidance from God that I missed. It was the man God sent with a smile and a sense of humor that I missed. I missed urgently and deeply a man I had never met.
And now, as I write this, I realize that we have his legacy. We still have God’s guidance sent through Muhammad (PBUH). And we can pick up were he left off. We can do our best to do as Muhammad did.
He was known as Al-Sadiq (the Truthful) and Al-Amin (the Faithful) among all that knew him—even his enemies.
When the Qaiser of Rome received a letter from Muhammad (peace be upon him) inviting the Qaiser to Islam, he asked Abu Sufyan about Muhammad. Abu Sufyan, who at the time was a staunch opponent of Muhammad’s message, said:
“Muhammad is nobly born; is honest and truthful, and has never broken a pledge. He enjoins his followers to worship none but One God and to pray to Him alone. He preaches kindness, piety and, tolerance towards all. And his followers are on the increase.”
This man was so honest that even his enemies called him the honest and the truthful. We can be like this too.
We can be protective like him
Muhammad (peace be upon him) lost his father before he was born and his mother at an early age, an experience that left a lasting impression on him. Having been vulnerable at an early age, he advocated for the good treatment of those who are vulnerable in society. He would attend to the needs of the indigent and the widowed. He took care of the orphans, and recommend others to do the same.
The Prophet said:
“The one who looks after and works for a widow and for a poor person is like a warrior fighting for Allah’s cause.” (Al-Bukhari, 6006)
“The best house among the Muslims is one where an orphan is well treated, and the worst house among the Muslims is one where an orphan is badly treated.” (Ibn Majah, 3679)
We can be good to the widowed, orphaned, the homeless, and the helpless in society. Nothing is stopping us but our selves.
We can seek justice like he did
Muhammad was an advocate for blind justice. He said:
“Assist your Muslim brother, whether he be an oppressor or oppressed.”
And when a companion of the Prophet asked:
“But how shall we do it when he is an oppressor?”
Prophet Muhammad replied:
“Assisting an oppressor by forbidding and withholding him from oppression.” (Al-Bukhari, 2444)
Here is a man who told people to be loyal to justice first even if it means witnessing against your own self. We too can reignite this revolutionary thinking- and end bigotry, racism, sectarianism and so much more.
We can be honorable like him
Muhammad (PBUH) treated women with dignity and told his followers to do the same.
He never lifted a hand against a woman. He never lost his temper with a woman. He sought advice from women and advocated for women’s rights and their good treatment.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told his followers:
“Only an honorable man treats women with honor and integrity. Only a mean, deceitful, and dishonest man humiliates and insults them.”
Muhammad (PBUH) left an example to men and women alike. He emphasized the need to respect each other as full and actualized human beings.
We can be patient like him
Muhammad (PBUH) told us “The strong person is not the good wrestler. Rather, the strong person is the one who controls himself when he is angry”. This is an inspiration. We can claim self-control for ourselves as the only true strength.
Through learning about the legacy of his behavior, teachings, compassion, strength, and mercy; I learned how amazing a human being could be.
I learned what it means to love and respect someone I would never meet in this life. And I missed Muhammad. I still miss him, but I seek comfort in knowing that I and my brothers and sisters can and do strive to live his legacy.
Quran 25:63 And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace.”
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This post is one that I wrote in September 2012 about the anti-Islam video “The Innocence of Islam” and subsequent murders and riots. I know that it is no longer a “current event”, but the issue remains and has been relevant since the first prophet, Adam (peace be upon him).
It is important to understand why Muslims are/were angry
Muslims try to honor the prophets and follow their example. The prophets were patient, honest, and steadfast. Overall they were the best of mankind. They suffered, were harassed, and tortured for the message they were chosen to deliver.
So, when people slander a prophet, Muslims should and do take it personally. It is worse than a “your momma …” joke. Any good Muslim (or human being for that matter) will protect the honor and reputation of Abraham, Isaac, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, and all the true prophets (peace be upon them all).
One lie about the prophet named Muhammad (the last and final prophet- PBUH) that particularly angers Muslims, is the claim that he was a child molester because of his marriage to Aisha (RA). To say that a man in the 7th century CE was a child molester for marrying someone who had reached puberty (as the Innocence of Islam claims) is absurd!
This kind of marriage was common practice in both the East and the West during a time when people died very young. If people then waited to marry like we do in our time, the species would have died out. Besides, people only estimated their ages back then. They didn’t have birth records or birthday parties at Chili’s.
Five centuries after Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha, 33-year-old King John of England married 12-year-old Isabella of Angoulême. The only difference is that in Islam the bride-to-be had to (and still has to) give her approval of the marriage before it was (is) valid.
Whereas, a woman’s consent in the West was not even considered!
Historical facts need to be put in historical context. And not misconstrued to the level of vile slander.
However… and this is a HUGE however,
the reaction to the video was unfounded and un-Islamic.
Lives are phenomenally more important that some ignorant idiot’s video/cartoon/words/etc. It is NOT OK to kill people. Especially over a flippin’ video; especially people who had nothing to do with it; especially when the sin of murdering one person is like the sin of murdering all of mankind.
I am ASHAMED of the Muslims who are committing these and other similarly atrocious acts!
Nothing can be solved this way, Nothing!
Would the Civil Rights movement have made an inch of progress if they had employed these tactics? Absolutely not. And we would all suffer from a lack of civil liberties in America today.
**Muslims need to remember that the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings Be Upon him) was insulted during his life, and he bore these insults with patience and returned them with kindness. Let us defend the prophets reputations’ by emulating their example.
So, as Amphion was said to move stones with his poetry to build Thebes, the prophets have moved men’s hearts to build empires of faith. Let us honor them by not tearing nations further apart.
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