Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

The Inconsistency of Bassam Zawadi Part 1

Islam’s Position on the Killing and Murdering of Women and Children

Sam Shamoun

Bassam Zawadi produced an appendix to his “reply” to my refutation of his feeble attempt of justifying Muhammad beheading nearly 600-900 of the Banu Qurayza Jews, which included young boys. Lord willing I intend to address his most recent “response” and prove that there is no justification for what Muhammad did to a tribe which had enough sense to see that he was a false prophet and tyrant who sought to impose his religion on them. Muhammad’s cold-blooded murder of these men was a morally reprehensible act and only reveals the true source of his instructions (cf. John 8:44).

However, what I intend to do in these particular responses is to provide further evidence for Zawadi’s blatant inconsistency and double standards.

Here is how Zawadi “responds” to my pointing out the Muslim inconsistency of justifying Muhammad’s decree to murder 600-900 Jews by claiming that he was simply carrying out the order found in Deuteronomy 20 when these same dawagandists condemn the Holy Bible for containing such teachings:

I would like Shamoun to point out where Muslim apologists such as myself, Sami Zaatari or others declared this specific OT injunction to be cruel and harsh. This specific command specifically speaks about adult men being killed, while all the criticisms of the OT coming from Muslim apologists have to do with killing of women and children, raping of women, bashing babies heads against rocks and excessive forms of torture. So Shamoun hasn't shown any inconsistency. On the contrary, it is only him and his colleagues who are being inconsistent for rejecting Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) for allegedly committing acts, which are nowhere near as grotesque as those found in the OT.

There are major problems with Zawadi’s arguments, not the least of which is the fact that both the Quran and the so-called authentic sunna confirms the Torah which both Jesus and Muhammad had access to:

Yet how will they make thee their judge seeing THEY HAVE the Torah, wherein is God's judgment, then thereafter turn their backs? They are not believers. Surely We sent down the Torah, wherein is guidance and light; by which the Prophets who had surrendered themselves judged the Jews, as did the masters and the rabbis, following such portion of God's Book as they were given to keep and were witnesses to. So fear not men, but fear you Me; and sell not My signs for a little price. Whoso judges not according to what God has sent down - they are the unbelievers. And therein We prescribed for them: 'A life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and for wounds retaliation'; but whosoever forgoes it as a freewill offering, that shall be for him an expiation. Whoso judges not according to what God has sent down -- they are the evildoers. And IN THEIR FOOTSTEPS we sent Jesus son of Mary confirming the Torah between his hands (musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi mina al-tawrati) and we gave to him the Gospel, wherein IS guidance and light, and confirming the Torah between his hands (wa musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi mina al-tawrati), as a guidance and an admonition to the pious. S. 5:43-46

Muhammad in this passage informs the Jews of his day that they should judge by their Torah instead of coming to him for judgment. He then gives them a reason why they should do so, namely, the prophets themselves judged by the Torah. Muhammad’s point is that if the Torah was good enough for the prophets to judge by then it most certainly is good enough for the Jews of his day to do the same.

Muhammad then goes on to claim that God sent Jesus with the Gospel to confirm the Torah which was between his hands.

In this next passage Muhammad asks the Jews for their copy of the Torah and then proceeds to confirm and praise it as the very Word of God:

“… Abu Dawud recorded that Ibn `Umar said, “Some Jews came to the Messenger of Allah and invited him to go to the Quff area. So he went to the house of Al-Midras and they said, ‘O Abu Al-Qasim! A man from us committed adultery with a woman, so decide on their matter.’ They arranged a pillow for the Messenger of Allah and he sat on it and said…

<<Bring the Tawrah to me.>> He was brought the Tawrah and he removed the pillow from under him and placed the Tawrah on it, saying


<<Bring me your most knowledgeable person.>> So he was brought a young man… and then he mentioned the rest of the story that Malik narrated from Nafi`… These Hadiths state that the Messenger of Allah issued a decision that conforms with the ruling in the Tawrah, not to honor the Jews in what they believe in, for the Jews were commanded to follow the Law of Muhammad only. Rather, the Prophet did this because Allah commanded him to do so. He asked them about the ruling of stoning in the Tawrah to make them admit to what the Tawrah contains and what they collaborated to hide, deny and exclude from implementing for all that time. They had to admit to what they did, although they did it while having knowledge of the correct ruling…” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 5:41; bold and underline emphasis ours)

However, the Torah which Jesus and Muhammad confirmed to be the uncorrupt Word of God contained all of these alleged instructions, e.g. "killing of women and children, raping of women, and excessive forms of torture," which Zawadi condemns! (We say alleged since nowhere does the Bible condone or permit rape, smashing of infants etc. This is simply Zawadi’s gross distortion of what the Bible actually teaches.)

Therefore, Zawadi ends up condemning both Jesus and his own false prophet for affirming commands which Zawadi finds morally objectionable!

Second, the Quran and ahadith also confirm that the Israelites wiped out the nations according to a direct order which came from God!

Hast thou not Turned thy vision to the Chiefs of the Children of Israel after (the time of) Moses? They said to a prophet (That was) among them: "Appoint for us a king, that we May fight in the cause of God." He said: "Is it not possible, if ye were commanded to fight, that that ye will not fight?" They said: "How could we refuse to fight in the cause of God, seeing that we were turned out of our homes and our families?" but when they were commanded to fight, they turned back, except a small band among them. But God Has full knowledge of those who do wrong. Their Prophet said to them: "God hath appointed Talut as king over you." They said: "How can he exercise authority over us when we are better fitted than he to exercise authority, and he is not even gifted, with wealth in abundance?" He said: "God hath Chosen him above you, and hath gifted him abundantly with knowledge and bodily prowess: God Granteth His authority to whom He pleaseth. God careth for all, and He knoweth all things." And (further) their Prophet said to them: "A Sign of his authority is that there shall come to you the Ark of the covenant, with (an assurance) therein of security from your Lord, and the relics left by the family of Moses and the family of Aaron, carried by angels. In this is a symbol for you if ye indeed have faith." When Talut set forth with the armies, he said: "God will test you at the stream: if any drinks of its water, He goes not with my army: Only those who taste not of it go with me: A mere sip out of the hand is excused." but they all drank of it, except a few. When they crossed the river,- He and the faithful ones with him,- they said: "This day We cannot cope with Goliath and his forces." but those who were convinced that they must meet God, said: "How oft, by God's will, Hath a small force vanquished a big one? God is with those who steadfastly persevere. When they advanced to meet Goliath and his forces, they prayed: "Our Lord! Pour out constancy on us and make our steps firm: Help us against those that reject faith." By God's will they routed them; and David slew Goliath; and God gave him power and wisdom and taught him whatever (else) He willed. And did not God Check one set of people by means of another, the earth would indeed be full of mischief: But God is full of bounty to all the worlds. S. 2:246-251 Y. Ali

In this passage the Quran recounts the story of the people of Israel asking the prophet Samuel for a king, Saul’s appointment as a king, Saul’s wars, and David killing Goliath (cf. 1 Samuel 8-17). What is interesting about all this is that even though the Quranic narration presupposes the biblical account of God’s commission to wipe out the Amalekites it nowhere condemns this event. It does not say that killing women and children was an evil thing or that the Israelites tampered with the story since this isn’t how it happened; nor does it deny that these things did happen. Its very mention in the Quran without any qualification presupposes that the author(s) of the Quran had absolutely no problem with these wars since s/he/they believed that God sanctioned them.

There is more. Notice what this next report says regarding Muhammad’s view of the prophet Joshua’s battles against the enemies of God:

Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, "A prophet amongst the prophets carried out a holy military expedition, so he said to his followers, 'Anyone who has married a woman and wants to consummate the marriage, and has not done so yet, should not accompany me; nor should a man who has built a house but has not completed its roof; nor a man who has sheep or she camels and is waiting for the birth of their young ones.' So, the prophet carried out the expedition and when he reached that town at the time or nearly at the time of the 'Asr prayer, he said to the sun, 'O sun! You are under Allah's Order and I am under Allah's Order. O Allah! Stop it (i.e. the sun) from setting.' It was stopped till Allah made him victorious. Then he collected the booty and the fire came to burn it, but it did not burn it. He said (to his men), 'Some of you have stolen something from the booty. So one man from every tribe should give me a pledge of allegiance by shaking hands with me.' (They did so and) the hand of a man got stuck over the hand of their prophet. Then that prophet said (to the man), 'The theft has been committed by your people. So all the persons of your tribe should give me the pledge of allegiance by shaking hands with me.' The hands of two or three men got stuck over the hand of their prophet and he said, "You have committed the theft.' Then they brought a head of gold like the head of a cow and put it there, and the fire came and consumed the booty. The Prophet added: Then Allah saw our weakness and disability, so he made booty legal for us." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 53, Number 353)

Here Muhammad conflates several biblical stories, namely, Moses' instruction in Deuteronomy 20:1-9, Joshua’s expeditions against Ai and the king of Jerusalem (cf. Joshua 7 and 10). These are the very expeditions where God commanded Joshua and the Israelites to wipe out everything that breathes!

Since Zawadi accepts the sahih ahadith as reliable he must therefore accept the fact that Muhammad had no problems with God ordering the Israelites to annihilate everything that breathes, including women, children and livestock!

So why do Zawadi, Zaatari and the other dawagandists go against the teachings of their own religious sources (as false as they maybe) and attack the Holy Bible for something which Muhammad himself confirmed and had no problem with? Do they know better than their own prophet did? If so then why are they still Muslims?

The Quran on the killing of women and children

But it gets worse for these dawagandists since the Quran actually permits the killing of even non-combatants, especially women and children. In fact, there isn’t a single statement in the Quran which forbids the killing of old men, women, children, rabbis or priests. A careful reading of the Quran actually shows that Muslims are commanded to actually fight against all classes of people.

We will let the Quran speak in its own language, and not seek to impose upon it language and concepts that are foreign to it.

Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors. And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers. But if they desist, then lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrong-doers. The forbidden month for the forbidden month, and forbidden things in retaliation. And one who attacketh you, attack him in like manner as he attacked you. Observe your duty to Allah, and know that Allah is with those who ward off (evil). S. 2:190-194 Pickthall

The above text doesn’t say fight only the men who fought you, but do not harm their women and children or elderly. The language is inclusive, i.e. fight ALL those who fight you whether they be men, women or children.

The readers can easily see the soundness of our exegesis by simply pondering on the following point: According to Islamic sources, did the polytheists drive out only the Muslim men, or did they also drive out women and children?

For this reason did We prescribe to the children of Israel that WHOEVER slays a SOUL, unless it be for manslaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as though he slew all men; and whoever keeps it alive, it is as though he kept alive all men; and certainly Our apostles came to them with clear arguments, but even after that many of them certainly act extravagantly in the land. The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement, Except those who repent before you have them in your power; so know that Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. S. 5:32-33 Shakir

The language here is inclusive, i.e. whoever slays a soul obviously includes woman, children, old or young, free or slave etc. The text also says that those who wage war or cause mischief should be punished, which clearly encompasses women and children. Again, the text doesn’t say only the men who wage war or strive for mischief should be punished.

An acquittal, from God and His Messenger, unto THE IDOLATERS with whom you made covenant: ‘Journey freely in the land for four months; and know that you cannot frustrate the will of God, and that God degrades the unbelievers.’ A proclamation, from God and His Messenger, UNTO MANKIND on the day of the Greater Pilgrimage: ‘God is quit, and His Messenger, of THE IDOLATERS. So if you repent, that will be better for you; but if you turn your backs; know that you cannot frustrate the will of God. And give thou good tidings to THE UNBELIEVERS of a painful chastisement; excepting those of THE IDOLATERS with whom you made covenant, then they failed. You naught neither lent support to any man against you. With them fulfil your covenant till their term; surely God loves THE GODFEARING. Then, when the sacred months are drawn away, SLAY THE IDOLATERS wherever you find them, and take them, and confine them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they repent, and perform the prayer, and pay the alms, then let them go their way; God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. And if ANY OF THE IDOLATERS seeks of thee protection, grant him protection till he hears the words of God; then do thou convey him to his place of security -- that, because they are A PEOPLE who do not know. How should THE IDOLATERS have a covenant with God and His Messenger? -- excepting those with whom you made covenant at the Holy Mosque; so long as they go straight with you, do you go straight with them; surely God loves the godfearing. How? If they get the better of you, they will not observe towards you any bond or treaty, giving you satisfaction with their mouths but in their hearts refusing; and the most of them are ungodly. They have sold the signs of God for a small price, and have barred from His way; truly evil is that they have been doing, observing neither bond nor treaty towards a believer; they are the transgressors. Yet if they repent, and perform the prayer, and pay the alms, then they are your brothers in religion; and We distinguish the signs for a people who know. But if they break their oaths after their covenant and thrust at your religion, then fight the leaders of unbelief; they have no sacred oaths; haply they will give over. Will you not fight A PEOPLE who broke their oaths and purposed to expel the Messenger, beginning the first time against you? Are you afraid of them? You would do better to be afraid of God, if you are believers. Fight them, and God will chastise them at your hands and degrade them, and He will help you against them, and bring healing to the breasts of a people who believe, and He will remove the rage within their hearts; and God turns towards whomsoever He will; God is All-knowing, All-wise Or did you suppose you would be left in peace, and God knows not as yet those of you who have struggled, and taken not -- apart from God and His Messenger and the believers -- any intimate? God is aware of what you do. It is not for THE IDOLATERS to inhabit God's places of worship, witnessing against themselves unbelief; those -- their works have failed them, and in the Fire they shall dwell forever. Only he shall inhabit God's places of worship who believes in God and the Last Day, and performs the prayer, and pays the alms, and fears none but God alone; it may be that those will be among the guided. S. 9:1-18 Arberry

The above passage addresses the idolaters, the people, mankind etc. The text says that the idolaters are not to approach the places of worship, which obviously includes women, children, old, young, free, slave and so on. The obvious implication of the passage is that the Muslims are to fight and ambush ALL the idolaters, not just their men. Muslims, according to these verses, are to chastise and degrade all the unbelievers until they repent and become Muslims.

Then will Allah after this turn (mercifully) to whom He pleases, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. O you who believe! THE IDOLATERS are nothing but unclean, so they shall not approach the Sacred Mosque after this year; and if you fear poverty then Allah will enrich you out of His grace if He please; surely Allah is Knowing Wise. Fight THOSE WHO DO NOT BELIEVE in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection. And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away! THEY have taken their doctors of law and their monks for lords besides Allah, and (also) the Messiah son of Marium AND THEY WERE ENJOINED THAT THEY SHOULD SERVE one God only, there is no god but He; far from His glory be what THEY set up (with Him). They desire to put out the light of Allah with their mouths, and Allah will not consent save to perfect His light, though THE UNBELEIVERS are averse. He it is Who sent His Apostle with guidance and the religion of truth, that He might cause it to prevail over all religions, though THE POLYTHEISTS may be averse. O YOU WHO BELIEVE! most surely many of the doctors of law and the monks eat away the property of men falsely, and turn (them) from Allah's way; and (as for) those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in Allah's way, announce to them a painful chastisement, On the day when it shall be heated in the fire of hell, then their foreheads and their sides and their backs shall be branded with it; this is what you hoarded up for yourselves, therefore taste what you hoarded. Surely the number of months with Allah is twelve months in Allah's ordinance since the day when He created the heavens and the earth, of these four being sacred; that is the right reckoning; therefore be not unjust to yourselves regarding them, and fight THE POLYTHEISTS ALL TOGETHER as they fight you all together; and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil). Postponing (of the sacred month) is only an addition in unbelief, wherewith those WHO DISBELIEVE are led astray, violating it one year and keeping it sacred another, that they may agree in the number (of months) that Allah has made sacred, and thus violate what Allah has made sacred; the evil of their doings is made fairseeming to them; and Allah does not guide THE UNBELIEVING PEOPLE. S. 9:27-37 Shakir

All idolaters are unclean which, in this context, includes Jews and Christians as well. They all must be fought until they convert or pay the jizya in order to feel humiliated. The text even says to fight the polytheists altogether without any distinction.

Again, unless Zawadi wants to contend that only the men are unclean and will go to hell for their disbelief and idolatry, it should be clear even to him that the language of these texts are inclusive, e.g. the passages are addressed to the entire group of idolaters, be they men or women, young or old, without discrimination.

We repeat: The Quran clearly speaks of fighting and killing ALL unbelievers which includes men and women, young and old. The Quran never excludes the women or children from this command. As such, there is no need for a specific command to kill women and children, since they are already included in the general injunction.

The question must be put the other way around: Why does the Quran never command to spare and protect the women and children after it had commanded to fight and kill all the idolaters?

Here are a few more passages which use inclusive language:

ALLAH has promised to believers, men and women, Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide, and delightful dwelling-places in Gardens of Eternity. And the pleasure of ALLAH is the greatest of all. That is the supreme triumph. O Prophet! strive hard against the disbelievers and the Hypocrites. And be firm against them. Their abode is Hell, and evil destination it is. They swear by ALLAH that they said nothing, but they did certainly utter the word of disbelief, and disbelieved after they had embraced Islam. And they designed what they could not attain. And they cherished enmity against believers only because ALLAH and HIS Messenger had enriched them out of HIS bounty. So if they repent, it will be better for them; but if they turn away, ALLAH will punish them with a grievous punishment in this world and the Hereafter, and they shall have neither friend nor helper in the earth. And among them are those who made a covenant with ALLAH, saying, ‘If HE give us of HIS bounty, we would most surely give alms and be of the virtuous.’ But when HE gave them out of HIS bounty, they became niggardly of it, and turned away in aversion. So HE requited them with hypocrisy which shall last in their hearts until the day when they shall meet HIM, because they broke their promise, and because they lied. Know they not that ALLAH knows their hidden thoughts as well as their secret counsels and that ALLAH knows full well all unseen things? These hypocrites are those who find fault with such of the believers as give freely in charity and with such as find nothing to give save the earnings of their toil. So they deride them. ALLAH shall punish them for their derision, and for them is a grievous punishment. Ask thou forgiveness for them, or ask thou not forgiveness for them; even if thou ask forgiveness for them seventy times, ALLAH will never forgive them. That is because they disbelieved in ALLAH and HIS Messenger. And ALLAH guides not the perfidious people. Those who contrived to be left behind rejoice in their sitting at home behind the Messenger of ALLAH, and were averse to striving with their wealth and their persons in the cause of ALLAH. And they said, ‘Go not forth in the heat.’ Say, ‘The fire of Hell is more intense in heat.’ If only they could understand. They should laugh little and weep much as a reward for that which they used to earn. And if ALLAH bring thee back to a party of them, they ask of thee leave to go forth to fight, say then, ‘You shall never go forth with me, and shall never fight an enemy with me. You chose to sit at home the first time, so sit now with those who remain behind.’ And never pray thou for any of them that dies, nor stand by his grave; for they disbelieved in ALLAH and HIS Messenger and died while they were disobedient. And let not their riches and their children excite thy wonder; ALLAH only intends to punish them therewith in this world and that their souls may depart while they are disbelievers. And when a Surah is revealed, enjoining, ‘Believe in ALLAH and strive in HIS cause in company with HIS Messenger,’ men of wealth an affluence among them ask leave of thee and say, ‘Leave us that we be with those who sit at home.’ They prefer to be with the womenfolk, who remain behind at home and their hearts are sealed so that they understand not. S. 9:72-87 Sher Ali

It was not proper for the people of Medina and those around them from among the Arabs of the desert that they should have remained behind the Messenger of ALLAH or that they should have preferred their own lives to his. That is because there afflicts them neither thirst nor fatigue nor hunger in the way of ALLAH, nor do they tread a track which enrages the disbelievers, nor do they gain an advantage over the enemy but there is written down for them a good work on account of it. Surely, ALLAH suffers not the reward of those who do good, to be lost. And they spend not any sum, small or great, nor do they traverse a valley, but it is written down for them, among their good works, that ALLAH may give them the best reward for what they did. It is not possible for THE BELIEVERS to go forth all together. Why, then, does not a party from every section of them go forth that they may become well-versed in religion, and that they may warn their people when they return to them, so that they may guard against evil. O ye who believe! FIGHT SUCH OF THE DISBELIEVERS AS ARE NEAR TO YOU AND LET THEM FIND HARDNESS IN YOU; and know that ALLAH is with the righteous. S. 9:120-123 Sher Ali

Unless Zawadi wants to argue that the promises of reward and the threat of punishment are limited solely to the men, then it should be clear enough to see that these verses include every member of that specific group.

In other words, these passages lead us to (un)safely assume that when the Quran speaks of believers, disbelievers, idolaters etc., without any qualification, then we are to infer from this that it is including all of them, whether men or women, old or young.

Moreover, Zawadi cannot object to our exegesis on the grounds that some of these texts use masculine pronouns, and therefore do not include women, since this is what he himself just recently wrote concerning this very same issue:

Second thing to bare in mind is one of the features of the Arabic language known as Taghleeb Al Dhukur 'Ala Al Enaath, which basically means that male gender pronouns could be used to include women under its categorization as well… (Rebuttal to Jochen Katz's Article "Did Allah forget the wives?")

Hence, since masculine pronouns can also include women Zawadi has no valid grounds to object to our exegesis from the Quran itself.

This now causes major problems for Zawadi and his criticism of the Holy Bible. The above citations speak of fighting, subduing, ambushing etc., Jews, Christians, unbelievers, idolaters and so on, without any qualification. Therefore, if we were to base our understanding of Jihad on the Quran alone then we must conclude that Muslims can fight and kill all unbelievers and all idolaters, including non-combatants, like women and children and the elderly. Since Zawadi condemned the Holy Bible for teaching the same thing will he now condemn Allah and his messenger? If he is consistent he must do so which means that he can longer remain a Muslim.

But there is more. The Quran provides further substantiation for our exegesis since there are places in the Quran where women and children are cursed, and where a young boy is even killed:

If any one disputes in this matter with thee, now after (full) knowledge Hath come to thee, say: "Come! let us gather together, - our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves: Then let us earnestly pray, and invoke the curse of God on those who lie!" S. 3:61 Y. Ali

Muhammad invokes Allah’s curse not just on the men who supposedly lied, whether Muslims or not, but also their women/wives and children! According to the commentators this verse was given to challenge a Christian deputation from Najran. The deputation consisted only of men who weren’t accompanied by any of their women or children.

In light of this, why would Muhammad even need to include the wives or children of the Christians when they had nothing to do with it? Why does he specifically challenge them to (go home and) also bring their wives and their children? Does this not show that Muhammad had no qualms with cursing or condemning women and children? Here is another verse which condones the killing of innocent children:

“And remember the time when Moses said to his young companion, ‘I will not cease pursuing my course until I reach the junction of the two seas, though I may have to journey on for ages.’ But when they reached the place where the two seas met, they forgot their fish and it made its way into the sea going away quickly. And when they had gone beyond that place, he said to his young companion, ‘Bring us our morning meal. Surely, we have suffered much fatigue on account of this journey of ours.’ He replied, ‘Didst thou see, when we betook ourselves to the rock for rest and I forgot the fish - and none but Satan caused me to forget to mention it to thee - it took its way into the sea in a marvelous manner?’ He said, ‘That is what we have been seeking.’ So they both returned, retracing their footsteps. Then they found a servant of OURS, upon whom WE had bestowed mercy from US, and whom WE had taught knowledge from Ourselves… So they journeyed on till when they met a young boy; he slew him. Moses said, ‘What! hast thou slain an innocent person without his having slain anyone! Surely, thou hast done a hideous thing’ ... ‘And as for the youth, his parents were believers, and we feared lest on growing up he should involve them into trouble through rebellion and disbelief;’” S. 18:60-65, 74, 80 Sher Ali

Moses’ companion, who was supposed to have been one of the slaves of Allah, murders a young, innocent boy on the grounds that the boy may have grown up to be a rebellious unbeliever! He wasn’t even certain!

In fact, this text served as a basis for allowing Muslims to kill their children whom they suspected would turn out to be disbelievers!

This tradition has been narrated by the same authority (Yazid b. Hurmus) through a different chain of transmitters with the following difference in the elucidation of one of the points raised by Najda in his letter to Ibn Abbas: The Messenger of Allah used not to kill the children, so thou shouldst 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 be 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. (Sahih Muslim, Book 019, Number 4457)

Khadir is the name traditionally given to this unnamed companion of Moses, the one that killed the child.

How disturbing. Muhammad gives Muslims the leeway to use their fallible discretion to determine whether a child may grow up to be an unbeliever, which in turn could result in the child being murdered on the mere grounds of suspicion!

Hence, if Zawadi has issues with the Holy Bible he needs to take issue with his own book which condones the killing of a young boy who may or may not have grown up to be a disbeliever. Since Allah had a man kill a boy, which obviously included some kind of violence and pain, would Zawadi stand with us in condemning Allah and Muhammad for their extreme cruelty?

Furthermore, the noted Muslim historian al-Tabari stated that one of the so-called prophets named Salih allegedly commanded certain persons of Thamud to kill the children so as to prevent one of them from growing up and killing Allah’s she-camel:

According to Hajjaj- Ibn Jurayj: When Salih told the eight evildoers that a boy would be born at whose hands they would be destroyed, they said, "What do you command us?" He said, "I command you to kill THEM" (that is their male children). SO THEY KILLED THEM except one... (The History of Al-Tabari: Prophets and Patriarchs, translated by William M. Brinner [State University of New York Press (SUNY), 1987], Volume II, p. 43; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Allah also condemned an old woman during the time of Lot:

He said, 'Truly I am a detester of what you do. My Lord, deliver me and my people from that they do.' So We delivered him and his people all together, save an old woman among those that tarried; S. 26:169-171 Arberry

According to other passages, this old woman was Lot’s wife:

So We delivered him and his family, except his wife; We decreed she should be of those that tarried. S. 27:57 Arberry

Hence, these examples conclusively show that Allah is not above cursing and killing older people, women and children.

Therefore, the inevitable conclusion we arrive at when we combine all these citations together is that the Quran permits, and even commands, Muslims to fight all non-combatants, which clearly includes women and children, until they either repent or are subdued.

There is another line of evidence which indirectly supports the above conclusion, and that is the fact that the Quran doesn’t expressly prohibit the killing of women and children. It is not as if the Quran couldn’t have made such a prohibition since in a couple of places it condemns the unjust killing of children:

Losers are they who slay their children in folly, without knowledge, and have forbidden what God has provided them, forging against God; they have gone astray, and are not right-guided. S. 6:140 Arberry

Say: Come I will recite what your Lord has forbidden to you -- (remember) that you do not associate anything with Him and show kindness to your parents, and do not slay your children for (fear of) poverty -- We provide for you and for them -- and do not draw nigh to indecencies, those of them which are apparent and those which are concealed, and do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden except for the requirements of justice; this He has enjoined you with that you may understand. S. 6:151 Shakir

Surely your Lord makes plentiful the means of subsistence for whom He pleases and He straightens (them); surely He is ever Aware of, Seeing, His servants. And do not kill your children for fear of poverty; We give them sustenance and yourselves (too); surely to kill them is a great wrong. S. 17:30-31 Shakir

It is interesting to see how the Quran explicitly forbids Muslims to kill their own children (unless, that is, they have become unbelievers or their parents merely fear they might become unbelievers, as we have seen above) but never speaks out against the killing of the children of the idolaters. Since the Quran mentions the unjust killing of innocent children, be it the cruel act of burying infant girls alive etc., it could have just as easily commanded Muslims not to kill them during Jihad. But the Quran fails to expressly prohibit the vicious murdering of non-combatants.

Besides, the above verses seem to speak mostly about infants, and only speak about not killing for fear of poverty, but leaves open killing them for other reasons.

The Quran further teaches that Allah wiped out entire places, villages and cities, such as Sodom and Gomorrah, either by flood, fire, winds etc. The Quran even points out the fact that Allah’s destruction of these places and peoples was terribly painful and violent:

Such is the seizing of thy Lord, when He seizes the cities that are evildoing; surely His seizing IS PAINFUL, TERRIBLE. S. 11:102 Arberry

There definitely were women, children, the old and feeble, as well as animals living in all these places that Allah destroyed and annihilated. This means that Allah deliberately wiped out and killed babies and infants, as well as women and elderly folk!

Now Zawadi may run to the hadith literature to prove that Muhammad expressly forbad the killing of women and children. The problem with this approach is that there are other narrations that permit the slaying of women and children, specifically during Muslim raids where they attack unsuspecting victims at night:

Narrated As-Sab bin Jaththama:
The Prophet passed by me at a place called Al-Abwa or Waddan, and was asked whether it was permissible to attack the pagan warriors at night with the probability of exposing their women and children to danger. The Prophet replied, "They (i.e. women and children) are from them (i.e. pagans)." I also heard the Prophet saying, "The institution of Hima is invalid except for Allah and His Apostle." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 256)

I.e., they are all the same—both the women and children are nothing more than pagans! The above narration is repeated in several, different hadith collections:


It is reported on the authority of Sa'b b. Jaththama that the Prophet of Allah, when asked about the women and children of the polytheists being killed during the night raid, said: They are from them. (Sahih Muslim, Book 019, Number 4321)

Keep in mind that the subheading is not part of the narration, it is added by the collector of the hadiths. In other words, the statement regarding the killing of women and children being permissible as long as it isn’t deliberate is not part of what Muhammad said nor do the hadiths explicitly say this, and yet the compiler assumed that this was the clear implication and meaning of these narrations.

Sa'b b. Jaththama has narrated that the Prophet asked: What about the children of polytheists killed by the cavalry during the night raid? He said: They are from them. (Sahih Muslim, Book 019, Number 4323)

Narrated Samurah ibn Jundub:
The Prophet said: Kill the old men who are polytheists, but spare their children. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 14, Number 2664)

One Muslim seemed to be so troubled by this concession on the part of Muhammad that he claimed that the killing of women and children was abrogated!

Al-Sa‘b b. Jaththamah said that he asked the Apostle of Allah about the polytheists whose settlements were attacked at night when some of their offspring and women were smitten. The Prophet said: They are of them. ‘Amr b. Dinar used to say: They are regarded in the same way as their parents.

Al-Zuhri said: Thereafter the Apostle of Allah prohibited to kill women and children. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 14, Number 2666)

Not all Muslims share al-Zuhri’s conviction. The English translator makes the following comments regarding the above narration:

2018. This tradition allows to kill women and children of the infidels IN THE BATTLE. The other traditions indicate that it is prohibited to kill women and children in the battle. These CONTRADICTORY traditions have been reconciled by saying that the tradition of al-Sa‘b b. Jaththamah has been abrogated. The other interpretation is that it is allowable to kill women and children when the settlements of the infidels are attacked AT NIGHT, as they cannot be distinguished from the fighting men in the dark. (Sunan Abu Dawud, English translation with explanatory notes by Prof. Ahmad Hasan [Sh. Muhammad Ashraf Publishers, Booksellers & Exporters; Lahore, Pakistan, 1984], Volume II, p. 739; capital emphasis ours)

Ahmad Hasan’s explanation is no excuse and provides absolutely no comfort for the women and children who were killed, or for their surviving families. A true God-inspired prophet would be more cautious and not allow such night raids so as to prevent the unnecessary killing of women and children.

Nearly all cultures have the honor code that in wars the women and children are to be spared, i.e. the fight only goes against the men of a group or nation. The very fact that Muhammad is asked this question shows that the questioner had doubts in his mind about it. Maybe Muhammad had ordered such a raid or attack, and the Muslim wanted to be sure that Muhammad knew the consequences if they went ahead with it. It was going against his conscience, but if Muhammad would order it anyway, knowing of the parameters, then he would obey. The answer of Muhammad shows that these women and children were of little concern to him. The advantage gained by a surprise attack in the night was more important to him, even if it meant the killing of women and children.

We see it every day in the media that politicians say one thing today and another thing tomorrow, whatever is expedient at the time. Sometimes they speak of principles and may even follow them for a while and another time they only look how to get an advantage. Looking for "one clear principle and teaching" in Muhammad’s life assumes that he is consistent because he is a prophet of God. When Muhammad says at one time to spare women and children and at another time discounts that principle and values the tactical advantage above the lives of innocent people then this does not mean that one tradition is correct and the other is wrong, but it simply shows that Muhammad acts like all politicians, looking how he can get all he can get, sometimes by talking about high principles and another time discarding them. It shows that he was not acting in obedience to a moral God with clear and unchanging principles, but that he was acting as most politicians and military leaders do to gain or to keep or extend his power.

Furthermore, Islamic sources provide many examples where Muslims deliberately and brutally murdered women and children. Noted Islamic commentator and historian Al-Tabari mentioned one such incident:

In this year a raiding party led by Zayd b. Harithah set out against Umm Qirfah in the month of Ramadan. During it, Umm Qirfah (Fatimah bt. Rabi‘ah b. Badr) suffered a cruel death. He tied her legs with rope and then tied her between two camels until they split her in two. She was a very old woman.

Her story is as follows. According to Ibn Humayd – Salamah – Ibn Ishaq – ‘Abdallah b. Abi Bakr, who said: The Messenger of God sent Zayd b. Harithah to Wadi al-Qura, where he encountered the Banu Fazarah. Some of his companions were killed there, and Zayd was carried away wounded from among the slain. One of those killed was Ward b. ‘Amr, one of the Banu Sa‘d b. Hudhaym: he was killed by one of the Banu Badr [b. Fazarah]. When Zayd returned, he vowed that no washing [to cleanse him] from impurity should touch his head until he had raided the Fazarah. After he recovered from his wounds, the Messenger of God sent him with an army against the Banu Fazarah. He met them in Wadi al-Qura and inflicted causalities on them. Qays b. al-Musahhar al-Ya‘muri killed Mas‘adah b. Hakamah b. Malik b. Badr and took Umm Qirfah prisoner. (Her name was Fatimah bt. Rabi‘ah b. Badr. She was married to Malik b. Hudhayfah b. Badr. She was a very old woman.) He also took one of Umm Qirfah’ daughters and ‘Abdallah b. Mas‘adah prisoner. Zayd b. Harithah ordered Qays to kill Umm Qirfah, and he killed her cruelly. He tied each of her legs with a rope and tied the ropes to two camels, and they split her in two. Then they brought Umm Qirfah’s daughter and ‘Abdallah b. Mas‘adah to the Messenger of God. Umm Qirfah’s daughter belonged to Salamah b. ‘Amr b. al-Akwa‘, who had taken her - she was a member of a distinguished family among her people: the Arabs used to say, "Had you been more powerful than Umm Qirfah, you could have done no more." The Messenger of God asked Salamah for her, and Salamah gave her to him. He then gave her to his maternal uncle, Hazn b. Abi Wahb and she bore him ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Hazn. (The History of Al-Tabari: The Victory of Islam, translated by Michael Fishbein [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany 1997], Volume VIII, pp. 95-97)

Al-Tabari also mentioned that Muhammad had the young boys of the Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayzah beheaded:

The Messenger of God had commanded that all of them who had reached puberty should be killed. (Ibid., p. 38)

Another source tells us how they determined whether a person had reached puberty:

Narrated Atiyyah al-Qurazi:
I was among the captives of Banu Qurayzah. They (the Companions) examined us, and those who had begun to grow hair (pubes) were killed, and those who had not were not killed. I was among those who had not grown hair. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 38, Number 4390)

Not only were the young boys of the tribe beheaded, but the Muslims also beheaded one of their women:

According to Ibn Ishaq, the conquest of the Banu Qurayzah took place in the month of Dhu al-Qa‘dah or in the beginning of Dhu al-Hijjah. Al-Waqidi, however, said that the Messenger of God attacked them a few days before the end of Dhu al-Qa‘dah. He asserted that the Messenger of God commanded that furrows should be dug in the ground for the Banu Qurayzah. Then he sat down, and ‘Ali and al-Zubayr began cutting off their heads in his presence. He asserts that the woman whom the Prophet killed that day was named Bunanah, the wife of al-Hakam al-Qurazi- it was she who had killed Khallad b. Suwayd by throwing a milestone on him. The Messenger of God called for her and beheaded her in retaliation for Khallad b. Suwayd. (The History of Al-Tabari, Volume VIII, pp. 40-41)

Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin:
No woman of Banu Qurayzah was killed except one. She was with me, talking and laughing on her back and belly (extremely), while the Apostle of Allah was killing her people with the swords. Suddenly a man called her name: Where is so-and-so? She said: I. I asked: What is the matter with you? She said: I did a new act. She said: The man took her and beheaded her. She said: I will not forget that she was laughing extremely although she knew that she would be killed. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 14, Number 2665)

It doesn’t stop here. When Muhammad conquered Mecca he ordered that a couple of singers be murdered solely because they had made fun of him in song!

Also among them was ‘Abdallah b. Khatal, a member of the Banu Taym b. Ghalib. The Messenger of God ordered that he should be killed only for the following reason: He was a Muslim, and the Messenger of God sent him to collect alms, sending with him one of the Ansar. With him went a mawla of his, also a Muslim, to serve him. He halted at a resting place and commanded the mawla to slaughter him a goat and make him a meal; then he went to sleep. When he woke up, the mawla had done nothing for him; so he attacked him and killed him. He had two singing girls, Fartana and another with her. The two used to sing satire about the Messenger of God; so the latter commanded that the two of them should be killed along with him…

Also among them were ‘Ikrimah b. Abi Jahl and Sarah, a mawla of one of the sons of ‘Abd al-Muttalib. She was one of those who used to molest the Messenger of God in Mecca…

‘Abdallah b. Khatal was killed by Sa‘id b. Hurayth al-Makhzumi and Abu Barzah al-Aslami: the two shared in his blood. Miqyas b. Subabah was killed by Numaylah b. ‘Abdallah, a man of his own clan…

As for Ibn Khatal’s two singing girls, one was killed and the other fled. The Messenger of God later was asked to grant her a promise of safety, and he did so. [As for Sarah, he was asked to grant her a promise of safety, and he did so.] She lived until someone in the time of ‘Umar b. al-Khattab caused his horse to trample her at al-Abtah and killed her. Al-Huwayrith b. Nuqaydh was killed by ‘Ali b. Abi Talib.

According to al-Waqidi: The Messenger of God commanded that six men and four women should be killed. Of the men, [al-Waqidi] mentioned those whom Ibn Ishaq named. The women he mentioned were Hind bt. ‘Utbah b. Rabi‘ah, who became a Muslim and swore allegiance; Sarah, the mawla of ‘Amr b. Hashim b. ‘Abd al-Muttalib b. ‘Abd Manaf, who was killed on that day; Quraybah, who was killed on that day; and Fartana, who lived until the caliphate of ‘Uthman. (The History of Al-Tabari, Volume VIII, pp. 179-181)

Hadith compiler Abu Dawud provides a couple of more examples of women being killed for disparaging Muhammad:

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Abbas:

A blind man had a slave-mother who used to abuse the Prophet and disparage him. He forbade her but she did not stop. He rebuked her but she did not give up her habit. One night she began to slander the Prophet and abuse him. So he took a dagger, placed it on her belly, pressed it, and killed her. A child who came between her legs was smeared with the blood that was there. When the morning came, the Prophet was informed about it.

He assembled the people and said: I adjure by Allah the man who has done this action and I adjure him by my right to him that he should stand up. Jumping over the necks of the people and trembling the man stood up.

He sat before the Prophet and said: Apostle of Allah! I am her master; she used to abuse you and disparage you. I forbade her, but she did not stop, and I rebuked her, but she did not abandon her habit. I have two sons like pearls from her, and she was my companion. Last night she began to abuse and disparage you. So I took a dagger, put it on her belly and pressed it till I killed her.

Thereupon the Prophet said: Oh be witness, no retaliation is payable for her blood. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 38, Number 4348)

Narrated Ali ibn AbuTalib:

A Jewess used to abuse the Prophet and disparage him. A man strangled her till she died. The Apostle of Allah declared that no recompense was payable for her blood. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 38, Number 4349)

The oldest extant biography on Muhammad’s life also mentions instances where Muhammad ordered the murder of the elderly and women:


Abu Afak was one of the B. Amr b. Auf of the B. Ubayda clan. He showed his disaffection when the apostle killed al-Harith b. Suwayd b. Samit and said:

"Long have I lived but never have I seen
An assembly or collection of people
More faithful to their undertaking
And their allies when called upon
Than the sons of Qayla when they assembled,
Men who overthrew mountains and never submitted,
A rider who came to them split them in two (saying)
Permitted", "Forbidden", of all sorts of things.
Had you believed in glory or kingship
You would have followed Tubba

The apostle said, "Who will deal with this rascal for me?" Whereupon Salim b. Umayr, brother of B. Amr b. Auf, one of the "weepers", went forth and killed him. Umama b. Muzayriya said concerning that:

You gave the lie to God's religion and the man Ahmad! [Muhammad]
By him who was your father, evil is the son he produced!
A "hanif" gave you a thrust in the night saying
"Take that Abu Afak in spite of your age!"
Though I knew whether it was man or jinn
Who slew you in the dead of night (I would say naught).

(The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Oxford University Press, Karachi, Tenth impression 1995], p. 675)


When the apostle heard what she had said he said, "Who will rid me of Marwan's daughter?" Umayr b. Adiy al-Khatmi who was with him heard him, and that very night he went to her house and killed her. In the morning he came to the apostle and told him what he had done and he [Muhammad] said, "You have helped God and His apostle, O Umayr!" When he asked if he would have to bear any evil consequences the apostle said, "Two goats won't butt their heads about her", so Umayr went back to his people.

Now there was a great commotion among B. Khatma that day about the affair of bint [girl] Marwan. She had five sons, and when Umayr went to them from the apostle he said, "I have killed bint Marwan, O sons of Khatma. Withstand me if you can; don't keep me waiting." That was the first day Islam became powerful among B. Khatma; before that those who were Muslims concealed the fact. The first of them to accept Islam was Umayr b. Adiy who was called the "Reader", and Abdullah b. Aus and Khuzayma b. Thabit. The day after Bint Marwan was killed the men of B. Khatma became Muslims because they saw the power of Islam." (Ibid., p. 676)

The preceding sources show that the assertion that Islam prohibits the killing of women and children cannot be conclusively proven from the data. The Islamic source material is contradictory at best since one set of traditions prohibits the murder of women and children, whereas another set condones and permits it.

Again, since Zawadi said he had a problem with what the Holy Bible teaches concerning this issue will he now condemn Allah and his messenger for their brutal and murderous ways? Will he oppose Muhammad for both confirming the Torah which contains these injunctions and for also commanding the cold blooded murder of the elderly, the women and the children? If not then why not?

However, this is merely the start of Zawadi’s problems just as we shall see in the next part.

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