Did Prophet Muhammad assassinate his critics?

Did Prophet Muhammad assassinate his critics?

Mohamad Mostafa Nassar


In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

It is said Prophet Muhammad assassinated a man only for criticizing him. Is Islam intolerant of criticism?

The story cited in this regard is the killing of Kaโ€™b ibn al-Ashraf, who was a leader among the armies that were fighting a war of extermination against the Muslims, as is made clear in the several narrations concerning this incident. He was killed because he was an enemy combatant who also criticized Islam in poetry. Anti-Muslim writers only cite his poetry while they ignore his unwarranted aggression.

Badr al-Din al-โ€˜Ayni comments on this story, writing:

ููŠ ู‡ุฐุง ูƒู„ู‡ ุฃู†ู‡ ู„ู… ูŠู‚ุชู„ู‡ู… ุจู…ุฌุฑุฏ ุณุจู‡ู… ูˆุฅู†ู…ุง ูƒุงู†ูˆุง ุนูˆู†ุง ุนู„ูŠู‡ ูˆูŠุฌู…ุนูˆู† ู…ู† ูŠุญุงุฑุจูˆู†ู‡ ูˆูŠุคูŠุฏู‡

In these traditions it is shown that they were not killed merely for their insults. Indeed, they were only killed due to their aiding the enemy and preparing for war against him.

Source: สปUmdat al-Qฤriสผ Sharแธฅ แนขaแธฅฤซแธฅ al-Bukhฤrฤซ 34/413

Kaโ€™b ibn Al-Ashraf had made known his support for violence against the Muslim community, so killing him was done as a legitimate act of self-defense, not simply because he had criticized the Prophet (แนฃ). Rather, the Prophet (แนฃ) condemned any assassination that violates a peace treaty, pledge, promise, or security agreement.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

ุงู„ู’ุฅููŠู…ูŽุงู†ู ู‚ูŽูŠูŽู‘ุฏูŽ ุงู„ู’ููŽุชู’ูƒูŽ ู„ูŽุง ูŠูŽูู’ุชููƒู ู…ูุคู’ู…ูู†ูŒ

Faith has prevented treacherous assassination. A believer does not assassinate.

Source: Sunan Abฤซ Dฤwลซd 2769, Grade: Sahih

Al-Azimabadi commented on this tradition, writing:

ู…ูŽุนู’ู†ูŽู‰ ุงู„ู’ุญูŽุฏููŠุซู ุฃูŽู†ูŽู‘ ุงู„ู’ุฅููŠู…ูŽุงู†ูŽ ูŠูŽู…ู’ู†ูŽุนู ู…ูู†ูŽ ุงู„ู’ููŽุชู’ูƒู ุงู„ูŽู‘ุฐููŠ ู‡ููˆูŽ ุงู„ู’ู‚ูŽุชู’ู„ู ุจูŽุนู’ุฏูŽ ุงู„ู’ุฃูŽู…ูŽุงู†ู ุบูŽุฏู’ุฑู‹ุง

The meaning of the tradition is that faith prohibits assassination, which is to treacherously kill a person after pledging them security.

Source: โ€˜Awn al-Maสปbลซd 2769

In fact, the Prophet (แนฃ) never took revenge for acts of abuse against himself, but instead he would only implement justice with due process.

Aisha reported:

ูˆูŽู…ูŽุง ุงู†ู’ุชูŽู‚ูŽู…ูŽ ุฑูŽุณููˆู„ู ุงู„ู„ูŽู‘ู‡ู ุตูŽู„ูŽู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ูŽู‘ู‡ู ุนูŽู„ูŽูŠู’ู‡ู ูˆูŽุณูŽู„ูŽู‘ู…ูŽ ู„ูู†ูŽูู’ุณูู‡ู ุฅูู„ูŽู‘ุง ุฃูŽู†ู’ ุชูู†ู’ุชูŽู‡ูŽูƒูŽ ุญูุฑู’ู…ูŽุฉู ุงู„ู„ูŽู‘ู‡ู ููŽูŠูŽู†ู’ุชูŽู‚ูู…ูŽ ู„ูู„ูŽู‘ู‡ู ุจูู‡ูŽุง

The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, did not take revenge for anything against himself, but if the sacred limits of Allah were violated, he would retaliate for the sake of Allah.

Source: แนขaแธฅฤซแธฅ al-Bukhฤrฤซ 3367, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi

There were many instances in the Prophetโ€™s life in which he was insulted, mocked, and harmed by his enemies, and he responded with patience, forbearance, and forgiveness.

Aisha reported: A group of Jews asked permission to visit the Prophet and when they were admitted they said, โ€œDeath be upon you.โ€ I said to them, โ€œRather death and the curse of Allah be upon you!โ€ The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

ูŠูŽุง ุนูŽุงุฆูุดูŽุฉู ุฅูู†ูŽู‘ ุงู„ู„ูŽู‘ู‡ูŽ ุฑูŽูููŠู‚ูŒ ูŠูุญูุจูู‘ ุงู„ุฑูู‘ูู’ู‚ูŽ ูููŠ ุงู„ู’ุฃูŽู…ู’ุฑู ูƒูู„ูู‘ู‡ู

O Aisha, Allah is kind and He loves kindness in all matters.

Source: แนขaแธฅฤซแธฅ al-Bukhฤrฤซ 6528, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi

This was because the Prophet would apply the teachings of the Quran which council forbearance and forgiveness in the face of insults and mockery.

Allah said:

ุฎูุฐู ุงู„ู’ุนูŽูู’ูˆูŽ ูˆูŽุฃู’ู…ูุฑู’ ุจูุงู„ู’ุนูุฑู’ูู ูˆูŽุฃูŽุนู’ุฑูุถู’ ุนูŽู†ู ุงู„ู’ุฌูŽุงู‡ูู„ููŠู†ูŽ

Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the ignorant.

Surat al-Aโ€™raf 7:199

And Allah said:

ูˆูŽุนูุจูŽุงุฏู ุงู„ุฑูŽู‘ุญู’ู…ูŽูฐู†ู ุงู„ูŽู‘ุฐููŠู†ูŽ ูŠูŽู…ู’ุดููˆู†ูŽ ุนูŽู„ูŽู‰ ุงู„ู’ุฃูŽุฑู’ุถู ู‡ูŽูˆู’ู†ู‹ุง ูˆูŽุฅูุฐูŽุง ุฎูŽุงุทูŽุจูŽู‡ูู…ู ุงู„ู’ุฌูŽุงู‡ูู„ููˆู†ูŽ ู‚ูŽุงู„ููˆุง ุณูŽู„ูŽุงู…ู‹ุง

The servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth in humility and when the ignorant address them harshly, they say words of peace.

Surat al-Furqan 25:63

And Allah said:

ูˆูŽุฅูุฐูŽุง ุณูŽู…ูุนููˆุง ุงู„ู„ูŽู‘ุบู’ูˆูŽ ุฃูŽุนู’ุฑูŽุถููˆุง ุนูŽู†ู’ู‡ู ูˆูŽู‚ูŽุงู„ููˆุง ู„ูŽู†ูŽุง ุฃูŽุนู’ู…ูŽุงู„ูู†ูŽุง ูˆูŽู„ูŽูƒูู…ู’ ุฃูŽุนู’ู…ูŽุงู„ููƒูู…ู’ ุณูŽู„ูŽุงู…ูŒ ุนูŽู„ูŽูŠู’ูƒูู…ู’ ู„ูŽุง ู†ูŽุจู’ุชูŽุบููŠ ุงู„ู’ุฌูŽุงู‡ูู„ููŠู†ูŽ

When they hear ill speech, they turn away from it and say: For us are our deeds, and for you are your deeds. Peace be upon you, for we seek not the way of ignorance.

Surat al-Qasas 28:55

And Allah said:

ููŽุงุตู’ุจูุฑู’ ุนูŽู„ูŽู‰ูฐ ู…ูŽุง ูŠูŽู‚ููˆู„ููˆู†ูŽ ูˆูŽุณูŽุจูู‘ุญู’ ุจูุญูŽู…ู’ุฏู ุฑูŽุจูู‘ูƒูŽ ู‚ูŽุจู’ู„ูŽ ุทูู„ููˆุนู ุงู„ุดูŽู‘ู…ู’ุณู ูˆูŽู‚ูŽุจู’ู„ูŽ ุงู„ู’ุบูุฑููˆุจู

Be patient over what they say and exalt the praise of your Lord before the rising of the sun and before its setting.

Surat Qaf 50:39

And Allah said:

ูˆูŽุงุตู’ุจูุฑู’ ุนูŽู„ูŽู‰ูฐ ู…ูŽุง ูŠูŽู‚ููˆู„ููˆู†ูŽ ูˆูŽุงู‡ู’ุฌูุฑู’ู‡ูู…ู’ ู‡ูŽุฌู’ุฑู‹ุง ุฌูŽู…ููŠู„ู‹ุง

Be patient over what they say and avoid them with gracious avoidance.

Surat al-Muzammil 73:10

In sum, the Prophet (แนฃ) did not kill anyone merely because he was insulted, but rather he performed military operations against aggressors in defense of the Muslim community and their freedom to practice Islam.

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.