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Explaining Islam

Banu Qaynuqa – Countering Lies Of “The Religion Of Peace” Website

Salam Zaid

I have decided to take on “The Religion Of Peace” (TROP) website, which is owned by a Christian missionary by the name of Glen Roberts. I want to dedicate a series of articles to refute their so called responses to DTT (discover the truth site). Glen Roberts made several poor and very badly worded “refutations” to DTT. The majority of them were actually commentary and not actual refutation. Here I will address their sources one by one and I will provide arguments as to why their “refutation” is a work of a layman.

The Banu Qaynuqa incident

The first article TROP wrote to DTT was in regards to Banu Qaynuqa incident, where the Jews of Madinah attempted to assassinate the Muslims, betrayed them, and waged war on them:

Glen Roberts decided to take the approach of commentary on some of DTT’s arguments, but later decided to cite Al-Tabari without authenticating what he said or giving sanad to the narrations he was citing. I have already shown why we should take whatever Tabari (those that are not authentic) said with grain of salt in my responses to TMA with that being said let us proceed.

Their commentary on DTT sources goes as follows:

Glen Roberts starts off,

“DTT quotes from five historians, each of whom seems to be repeating what the one before says. The earliest is probably Ibn Ishaq’s account, since the next most reliable account (Kitab Futuh al-Buldan) directly references it. One of their sources, al-Waqidi, is widely regarded as a fabricator.”

Apart from the part regarding Al-Waqidi being fabricator which can be regarded as correct criticism (and about the only good point Roberts made) we should not leave out Ibn Ishaq and several other sources DTT used
We will comment later on, but one comment they made that send the most shock to me is the following,

“None of these accounts say that the Qaynuqa killed Muslims. None even name a third party, much less say that the Qaynuqa took sides against the Muslims in a battle. In fact, the tribe seem to have been on friendly terms with other Muslims”

We will explore how wrong this is later, but first let’s see what Ka’ab Bin al-Ashraf did,

“when the Prophet was done from the battle of Badr he sent Zaid Bin Harith and Abdullah bin Rowaha to tell the ummah of Muslims of the victory, and when this reached Ka’ab Bin al-Ashraf he told the one who informed him of it: how could you say that, these are the kings of Arabs and masters of the people (referring to Quraish), the he left to Makkah and he was crying over the corpses of Quraish dead soldiers and he (Ka’b) was instigating the people to fight the Prophet.” (Sunnan Al-Kubra by Baihaqi volume 9, page 183)

However is it correct that they never killed a Muslim? This is not correcting let’s explore some sources apart from their treason,

“a muslim woman was selling something in banu qaynaqua market for a gold and jewry maker, so the jews wanted her to uncover her face, so the muslim woman didn’t allow this, so the jewry maker took part of her clothes and torn it from back and when she stood up her privte parts were exposed naked so they laughed, so she screamed, so a man of muslims went to the jewry maker and killed him, and the jews gathered around the muslim and killed him, and the muslims saw this and was enraged and a fight happened between the jews and muslims” (Sira Ibn Hisham, volume 2, page 47)

Glen Roberts makes the following childish comment in light of growing evidence,

“If the Banu Qaynuqa actually broke the agreement in some meaningful way, then it would have been included in the historical account. Against this reality, the statement that they “violated” the treaty seems to be an editorial comment that got repeated without supporting detail.“

The part regarding Tabari which as I said before should always be taken with grain of salt was the following,

“Tabari, whom DTT quotes as proof that the Qaynuqa ‘violated’ the agreement actually uses a word that can be interpreted as ‘disagree.’ This is important because the full account offered in his work suggests that Muhammad required that he be recognized as a prophet, and they refused:
What happened with regard to the Banu Qaynuqa’ was that the Messenger of God assembled them in the Market of the Banu Qaynuqa’ and said, “0 Jews, beware lest God bring on you the like of the retribution which he brought on Quraysh. Accept Islam, for you know that I am a prophet sent by God. You will find this in your scriptures and in God’s covenant with you.” They replied, “Muhammad, do you think that we are like your people? Do not be deluded by the fact that you met a people with no knowledge of war and that you made good use of your opportunity. By God, if you fight us you will know that we are real men!” (Tabari v.7 p.85)”

Due to some people unable to have access to the volumious books of Tabari, Glen Roberts thinks he can deceive his audience and change words to suit his propaganda against Islam. The word “disagree” is not even in there (screenshot from Tabari, vol.7, p.85-86):

Let’s forget the fact that they didn’t give the sanad of the narration. Let’s forget the fact that no where did the narration suggest that they “disagreed” but rather that they instigated to go to war with with the Muslims. But let’s forget that, let’s explore TROP’s ability to do research and find if a narrator is regarded as authentic, did they do that with Tabari? Or did they treat it as authentic as sunnis view Sahih Bukhari? The answer is no, infact this narration is regarded as non-authentic because of Ibn Hamid (which they removed from chain of narration list, Muhammad Bin Hamid Bin Hyan was one of the narrators of this story and he is regarded as matruk meaning not authentic or literally (dropped) (Online source)

Infact what makes it funnier is that if we read further (using the same weak narrations) we actually see that Tabari refutes Glen Roberts,

“According to Ibn Humayd-Salamah-Muhammad b. Ishaq-‘Asim b. ‘Umar b.Qatadah: The Banu Qaynuqa’ were the first Jews to infringe the agreement between them and the Messenger of God; they took to arms between Badr and Uhud.” (Tabari, volume 7, page 85 – 86)

Screenshot from the book:

Readers, notice the level of deception on Glen Roberts’ part. He delibrately hides these facts to deceive his readers. Glen Roberts, your own source just affirmed what DTT said that Banu Qaynuqa broke the treaty and took up arms against the Muslims.

Glen Roberts continues,

“Here is how Tabari explains it:
According to Al-Zuhri-‘Urwah : Gabriel [the angel] brought the following verse down to the Messenger of God : “And if thou fearest treachery from any folk, then throw back to them their treaty fairly. “‘When Gabriel had finished delivering this verse, the Messenger of God said, “I fear the Banu Qaynuga’.” ‘Urwah says: It was on the basis of this verse that the Messenger of God advanced upon them. (Tabari v.7 p.86)
Hmmm… An angel tells Muhammad that if he simply fears treachery then it’s OK to break the treaty. Why say that if the treaty were already broken? Muhammad promptly says he fears treachery and then advances on the Qaynuqa community with an army. This is a very strange way of saying that he was under attack, as Discover the Truth fantasizes.”

Yet another citation of Tabari with no authentication or verification at all. But let’s have a comment on this like how Glen Roberts loves to do too DTT. Muhammad (p) here simply implied that Banu Qaynuqa might break the treaty and se he advanced upon them, Roberts seems to make the argument that this was the only motivation Muhammad had to attack them. But that is incorrect because if we recall few paragraphs earlier, we seen Tabari clearly laying out that they broke the treaty and “took up arms” against the Muslims at Badr and Uhud? Is the above narration cited by Roberts authentic? The answer might shock you because it laughs at the credibility of TROP, remember when they discredited DTT for using Waqidi? Yup, here they used a narration that was narrated through Waqidi. According to Sahih wa da’if tarikh Tabari in da’if section volume 7 page 101,

“within it’s sanad exist waqidi, and he is matruk” (literally means “Abandoned” e.g., the technical meaning: that the Hadith in which there is such a narrator who has been blamed for lying or falsehood in matters other than narrating Hadith”).

Glen Roberts criticizes DTT for using Waqidi and then goes on to use it himself. Let’s quote Tabari again himself again, he refutes Glen Roberts and states that Banu Qaynuqa took up arms against the Muslims:

“According to Ibn Humayd-Salamah-Muhammad b. Ishaq-‘Asim b. ‘Umar b.Qatadah: The Banu Qaynuqa’ were the first Jews to infringe the agreement between them and the Messenger of God; they took to arms between Badr and Uhud.” (History of al-Tabari: The: The Foundation of the Community: volume 7, page 85 – 86)

So here Tabari clearly states that they took arms preparing to infringe the agreement between them and the Messenger (p).

So clearly when we piece the evidences together, Muhammad (p), based on the evidences from Tabari alone we see that the Banu Qaynuqa advanced, they took arms against the Muslims and infringed upon the agreement. Somehow Glen Roberts wants to deceive his readers, delibrately hide facts related by Tabari to fool innocent readers? So much for “The Qaynuqa were fighting defensively according to every account”.

Glen Roberts later states,

“Tabari continues: The Messenger of God besieged them for fifteen days and prevented any of them from getting out. They then surrendered at the discretion of the Mesenger of God . They were fettered, and he wanted to kill them, but ‘Abd Allah b. Ubayy spoke to him on their behalf… Four hundred men without armour and three hundred with coats of mail, who defended me from the Arab and the non-Arab alike, and you would mow them down in a single morning? By God, I do not feel safe and am afraid of what the future may have in store (Tabari v.7 p.86)
Muhammad “fears” treachery, has a private conversation with an “angel” and the next thing you know, 700 people are tied up and waiting to be beheaded. Which party would you fear? “

You don’t know the party that instigated a war? The party that threatened to fight Muhammad? The party that took arms in preparation for battle? The party that humiliated the Muslims by attacking an innocent woman?
Let’s see yet again if this is an authentic narration. According to Sahih Wa Da’if Tarikh Tabari volume 7 page 102
“it contains Waqidi and he is matruk”

Isn’t it ironic for the second time TROP uses Waqidi after criticizing DTT for using him?

So far TROP has not shown what part of the agreement or treaty did Muhammad broke or invoked “The Qaynuqa were fighting defensively according to every account”.

No they were not, they saw the might of the Prophet (p) who defeated the Quraish tribe and instigated to fight him, remember Ka’ab Ibn al-Ashraf, earlier?

But let us see the full account and not take parts of what Glen Roberts deceptively left out,

“The Messenger of God besieged them until they surrendered at his discretion. ‘Abd Allah b . Ubayy b. Salul rose up when God had put them in his power, and said, “Muhammad, treat my mawdli well”; for they were the confederates of al-Khazraj . The Prophet delayed his answer, so ‘Abd Allah repeated, “Muhammad, treat my mawali well.” The Prophet turned away from him, and he put his hand into (the Messenger’s) collar. The Messenger of God said, “Let me go! “-he was so angry that they could see shadows in his face (that is, his face coloured ). Then he said, “Damn you, let me go!” He replied, “No, by God, I will not let you go until you treat my mawali well. Four hundred men without armour and three hundred with coats of mail, who defended me from the Arab and the non-Arab alike, and you would mow them down in a single morning? By God, I do not feel safe and am afraid of what the future may have in store .” So THE MESSENGER OF GOD SAID, THEY ARE YOURS.” (Tabari, volume 7, page 86)

Hold on, so Muhammad actually let them go and didn’t keep them on besiege and didn’t behead them? Hmmmmmm sounds like Glen Roberts is hiding important details to spread his propaganda.

However, the account I gave above is also weak for having waqidi in it’s narration

“If the Banu Qaynuqa actually broke the agreement in some meaningful way, then it would have been included in the historical account”

Either Glen Roberts is blind or delibrately deceiving his readers. The very source TROP quotes, such as Tabari in fact states clearly that Banu Qaynuqa broke the treaty. Tabari went further and also showed that they took up arms against the Muslim community.

Here are the earliest documented reports (before Tabari) that state that the Banu Qaynuqa broke the treaty and waged war.

1. Kitab Futuh al-Buldan – al-Imam abu-l Abbas Ahmad Ibn-Jabir al-Baladhuri (d. 892 CE):

“It is reported that at the arrival of the Prophet in al-Madinah he wrote an agreement and made a covenant with the Jews of Yathrib. The Jews of Kainuka, however were the first to violate the covenant, and the Prophet expelled them from al-Madinah.” (Kitab Futuh Al-Buldan, By al-Imam abu-l Abbas Ahmad Ibn-Jabir al-Baladhuri, (Translated by Philip Khuri Hitti, PH. D.), [New York – Columbia Univeristy, Longmans, Green & Co., Agents – London: P. S. King & Son, LTD. 1916], volume 1, page 33)

2. Ibn Hisham (d. 833 CE):

“Among the Jews of Madīnah, the Banu Qainuqa‘ were the first to break the treaty which had been settled between them and the Holy Prophet.” (As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah,  Abu Muḥammad ‘Abdul-Malik bin Hisham, page 514)

3. Zurqani (1645 – 1710 CE):

“When the battle of Badr took place the Jews (Banu Qainuqa) manifested their malevolence and their spirit of revolt and retracted from their plighted word (i.e., broke the treaty).” (Zurqani, volume 1, page 529)

4. Ibn Ishaq (704 – 768 CE):

“Asim b. Umar b. Qatada said that the banu Qaynuqa were the first of the Jews to break their agreements with the apostle and to go to war, between Badr and Uhud, and the Apostle besieged them until they surrendered unconditionally.” (Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah – The Life of Muhammad [Translated by A. Guillaume], page 363)

5. Tabaqat al-Kabir – Ibn Sa’d (784 – 845 CE):

“The Banu Qainuqa… after Badr, they began to rebel fiercely and openly expressed their rancour and malice and broke their treaty and agreement.”3 (Aṭ-Ṭabaqatul-Kubra, By Muḥammad bin Sa‘d, volume 2, page 264)

6. Kitab al-Amwaal – Abu Ubayd al-Qasim Ibn Sallam (774 – 838 CE):

(519) “… The People of the Book were in three groups: Banu Qaynaqa, al-Nadir and Qurayza. The FIRST GROUP revolted and annulled the treaty. They were allies of Abd’Allah Ibn Ubayy. The Messenger of God (p) expelled them from Madina.” (Kitab al-Amwaal by Abu Ubayd al-Qasim Ibn Sallam, page 205)

7. In another classical source it states that the Banu Qaynuqa even challenged the Muslims to war (1559 CE):

“Do not become arrogant over your victory at Badr. When you are to fight us you shall come to know the real likes of warriors.” (Tarikhul-Khamis Fi Aḥwali Anfasi Nafis, By Ḥusain bin Muḥammad bin Ḥasan, volume 1, page 409)

8. Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (1292 – 1350 CE):

“He (the Prophet) made an agreement with the Jews of Al-Madinah, but Banu
Qainiqa’ fought against him after the Battle of Badr, going over to the
east (i.e. to the polytheists forces of Makkah) after it took place,
revealing their injustice and envy.” (Zaad al-Ma’ad, by Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, page 324)

Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (1292 – 1350 CE) gives a up bit more info on page 481 as well:

“And he made a number of judgements regarding the Jews: He
made a covenant with them when he first arrived in Al-Madinah,
then Banu Qainuqa’ made war on him and so he conquered them,
then he freed them. (Zaad al-Ma’ad, by Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, page 481)

In conclusion for this,

Glen Roberts cited a weak narration by Tabari regarding the Jews of Banu Qaynaqua claiming they will fight back. Glen Roberts misquoted and bluntly took two narrations out of context, removed a complete narration from the section in the book, cited Tabari without sanad and based on the work of Waqidi who is a weak narrator as they admitted. Made several deceptive comments. Glen Roberts failed to tackle DTT’s sources (apart from Waqidi). Cited yet another weak narration by Tabari, used waqidi twice after criticizing DTT for using him, there is literally not a single valid narration TROP made here. Nearly all of Roberts citations of Tabari have been discredited (except those narrations that are reported in other classical book which state that Banu Qaynuqa broke the treaty and waged war against the Muslims), and almost all their objections were mere comments, there is no indication of “self defense” as he deceptively claims, and he ignored all DTT’s citations to how the Banu Qaynaqua broke the treaty. And to add on top of that, they ignored a similar narration from Tabari that refutes their argument and clearly state that the Banu Qaynuqa took arms after infringing upon the treaty. [2]


About me:

My name is Salam Zaid, I own the blog Please take your time and go visit the blog as I have written several articles tackling many Islamophobes such as supposed ex-muslims, and looked at several allegations with historical backing. I am a former ex-muslim turned revert back to Islam after studying Islam for years and engaging with apologetics. Please keep in mind my English isn’t perfect, it’s my second language. Arabic is my mother language and I might make some grammatical mistakes, keep that in mind whenever you read any of my publications. If you see any poor phrasing or bad wordings please inform me, thank you.


[1] The article I am writing a response too can can be accesed here:
[2] Scholar Umari al-Madni,
“The reasons for their deportation have to be looked into their continued HOSTILITY TOWARDS Islam and MUSLIMS. That led to a lack of security in Madinah as is evidenced by what they did the Muslim lady.” (Umari: Al-Mujtama, Al-Madni, page 138))


Ibn Taymiyya Responds To The Claim Of Peaceful Verses Being “Abrogated”

Kaleef K. Karim

Interesting quotation I came across today. In the following quotation scholar Ibn Taymiyyah who lived in the latter part of the 13th century refutes the claim being made that the verses of peaceful preaching and good argumentation are abrogated by the “verses of fighting“, see more details here:

Ibn Taymiyyah (1263 – 1328 CE) states:

“The eigth angle [in refuting the claim of abrogation] is that many of the People of the Book claim that Muhammad and his nation established their religion with the sword and not through guidance, knowledge and signs (evidences). Thereafter, when they request knowledge and debate [about Islam] and it is said to them in response: ‘There is no answer to you except the sword’, then this is what corroborates [in their minds] this is FALSE PRESUMPTION [they have to begin with]. And this is from the greatest of what they use as proof amongst themselves for the corruption of Islam, that it is not a religion of a Messenger sent by Allah, but a religion of a King who established it with the sword.” (Al-Jawab al-Sahih, by Ibn Taymiyyah, volume 1, page 244)

Thanks too ““ website for providing us with this quotation:

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(1) – “Prophet Muhammed’s Charity To Non-Muslims”

(2) – “Generosity Towards Non-Muslim Neighbours”

(3) – “Social Conditions: Christians And Jews In Early Period Of Islam”

(4) – “The Relationship Of The Muslim With Non-Muslims”

(5) – “What Does Islam Teach about Justice?”

“They Know Him As They Know Their Son” – Explanation

Eric Bin Kisam

Scriptures  are not just text of revelation which one must understand within the border of sacred theological paradigm  but it can also be approached as a collective memory of a profane history.  In this context one should not neglect to read re-examine the scriptures as veracious historical evidences through philology, this is what we will try to attempt in this post.

In the Qur’an there is an interesting keyword which we argue linguistically refer to prophetic claim:  abna‘ ( ابناء ):

لَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمُ الْكِتَابَ يَعْرِفُونَهُ كَمَا يَعْرِفُونَ أَبْنَاءَهُمْ ۖ وَإِنَّ فَرِيقًا مِّنْهُمْ لَيَكْتُمُونَ الْحَقَّ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ. الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّكَ ۖ فَلَا تَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْمُمْتَرِينَ

Those to whom We gave the Scripture know him as they know their own sons. But indeed, a party of them conceal the truth while they know [it]. The truth is from your Lord, so never be among the doubters. (Q 2:146-7)

The Quran thus told us that “Those to whom We gave the Scripture” ie the Israelites will  recognize  Prophet Muhammad like their own sons.  This consequently imply that Prophet Muhammad has legitimate right of the biblical prophecies via biological genealogies not only through his character, the signs he brought, and the truth of his message.

By employing the term  ابناء (abna’) in arabic, whih cognate with hebrew בני (b’ney), the Quran thus link the prophetic claim of Muhammad through genetic ancestry with the Israelites. Therefore this verse do not merely speaks allegory as, I am sure, many of used to think.

Lets analyze this verse :

الذين اءتينهم الكتاب يعرفونه كما يعرفون ابناءهم

(2:46 البقرة)

Alladhīna ʾātaynāhumu l-kitāba yaʿrifūnahū ka-mā yaʿrifūna ʾabnāʾahum

אלה אשר נתנו להם את הספר מכירים אותו כפי שמכירים את בניכם

(2:146  סורת אלבקרה)     

Elleh asher natannu lachem et has-Sefer machchirim oto kefiy shemmachchirim et b’neychem [1]

Those to whom We gave the Scripture know him as they know their own sons.

(Al-Baqarah 2:146)

Traditional Historical sources in Tarikh Al Islam confirm the accuracy of the genetic link of the Prophet of Islam to Israelite because genealogically Prophet Muhammad (p) is not of a “pure” arab stock or A’rab ‘Aaribah العرب العاربة rather he is considered as “arabized” arab or A’rab Musta’ribah  العرب المستعربة .  This may surprise some but it should not. 

Hāshim ibn Abdul Manan (whom the tribe is named hence Banu Hashim or Hashemite)  the great-grandfather of Prophet Muhammad married to Salma bint Amr of Banu Najjar a priestly Israelite clan[2]  from the city of  Medina (Yathrib as known to the Arabs) the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad. This makes Banu Hashim a unique both an Ishmaelite and Israelite clan and this comes as no surprise that this clan is prominent to this day[3].

We have textual evidence that the city of Medina is  always a city  of particular significant for the jews as in Targum Onkelos 10:30  which was written in Judeo Aramaic from 1AD there is reference of settlements of Joktanides[4] which is called מָדִינְחָא Medincha [5,6], and there is no reason to think that this is the city other than  Medina in Arabia. There must be particular reason why the Israelite clans, the large number of them, settled in the primary Arab city of Medina, I would assume this was to do with the prevailing messianic/prophetic expectation at that time of but that perhaps another topic for another post. The fact is to such a great extend Medina had been known by the Israelites 6 centuries prior to the advent prophet Muhammad, a Hashemite (qabilah banu Hashim), whom paternal bloodline are the descendants of  Patriarch Abraham through his first-born son and seed (zera)prophet Ishmael[7], but also claim maternal bloodline of priestly Israelite ancestry from the tribe of Banu Najjar.

Exceptional Clan Solidarity

To be sure, the solidarity of the Hashemite clan was exceptionally strong. In Tarikh Al Islam we learnt that although the message of Prophet Muhammad the hashemite   incited the resentment of other Arabic tribes, the Hashemites were always united to protect one of his son, whether they are believers or not to the point that other tribes enforced a economic and social boycott against the Hashemites. For years the hashemites lived in exile and endured misery and hunger. Never once Prophet Muhammad (p) stop in preaching the message of revelation still the Hashemite clan were always by his side with exceptional patience and fortitude because they believed the noteworthiness of Muhammad’s prophetic role[8].

Exilarch connection

Hāshim ibn Abdul Manan also married another woman Qaylah (or Hind) bint Amr ibn Malik of the Banu Khuza’a from whom he had a son Asad (who was Ali Ibn Abi Thalib‘s maternal grandfather the 4th Caliph, the cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad). Asad ibn Hāshim then married to Zahna bat Kafnai Gaon, an Exilarch[9] princess, the daughter of Kafnai Gaon of Baghdad, the 32th Babylonian Exilarch (C. 530 – C. 580/581): a very noble royal family who traced their ancestry through the Davidic patrilineal line/ Malkhut Beit David(מלכות בית דוד).  From this marriage Asad ibn Hāshim and Zahna bat Kafnai Gaon bore Fāṭimah bint Asad, who then was married to  Abu Thalib bin Abdul Muthalib ibn Hashim.

Fatimah the Blessed Memory

I will argue there must be a good reason why Asad ibn Hāshim and Zahna bat Kafnai named his daughter FāṭimahIt turns out that Fāṭimah is no ordinary for name in the Oral Torah. As a daughter of a prominent jewish leader, Hazna must realized the significance of this name and play part in choosing it as a good name for her daughter, a name from the collective memory of her tradition which is the wife of prophet Ishmael the noble patrilineal ancestor of her husband: פטימא Phetima.

Here is the text from Targum Jonathan on Genesis/Sefer Bereshit 21:21 found in most rabbinic bible Mikraot Gedolot (מקראות גדולות):

וְיָתִיב בְּמַדְבְּרָא דְפָּארָן וּנְסֵיב אִתְּתָא יַת עֲדִישָׁא וְתֵרְכָהּ וּנְסִיבַת לֵיהּ אִמֵיהּ יַת פְּטִימָא אִתְּתָא מֵאַרְעָא דְמִצְרָיִם

‘And he dwelt in the wilderness of Pharan and took for a wife Adisha, but put her away. And his mother took for him Phetimato wife from the land of Egypt.

And also it was no coincidence that Prophet Muhammad too also gave his youngest daughter (from Khadija), Fāṭimah. Even until now she is one of the most loved and revered woman figure and prominent character in the religion of Islam and after her name is most muslims give name to their daughter. It is the  most popular muslim girl’s names. Undoubtedly it is to do with divine plan to preserve this noble name Phetima פְּטִימָא  (Ar: Fāṭimah فاطمة‎‎)  for generations to come.

Their Own Son

The Ishmaelite – Israelite blood union within the Hashemite genealogy proved the mature and stable existence of religious and political axis between the Babylonian Exilarch  in Baghdad – and their counterpart in Yathrib in pre-Islamic Arabian peninsula (The Hijaz)  through the uniquely influential and mixed Ishmaelite and Israelite ancestry, the Hashemite clan.  Thus genealogically it makes perfect sense that the  Qur’an designate Prophet Muhammad as “their own son” for the Israelites (ie. those who had been given scriptures) not only  in the sense through the prophecies in the  Bible.

It may explain why when Prophet Muhammad made his Hijrah  هِجْرَة  and the city was soon renamed Madīnat مَـديـنـة, the the jews of Yathrib who had the upper hand with their large settlement and huge property never objected to the name. This is a strong indication that the jews had already familiar with the name which was medintā מְדִֽינְתָּא֙ in Judeo -Aramaic and they were there awaiting the arrival of a future prophet. This is further supported by the most prominent Gaonic Rabbi:  Saadia Gaon ben Yosef / Rasag who mentioned the location Mecca مكة and Medina المدينة for his rendering of Genesis/Bereishit10:30[10].


  1. Subhi ‘Ali ‘Adwi, הַקּוּראָן בְּלָשׁוֹן אַחֵר Ha-Qur’an BeLashon Akher, 2015.
  2. The Banu Najjar /  b’ney Naggar בני נגר  (Arabic: بنو نجّار) tribe literally translates to “Sons of the Carpenter.” It may also be hinting at a rabbinic lineage as the termנגר naggar in the Talmud signifies a learned, wise and literate in the Torah.  [Jesus the Jew: a historian’s reading of the Gospels by Geza Vermes 1983; p21-22 ] 
  3. This bloodline from Salma and their father Hashem, makes the Hashemites in specific, unique among their Ishmaelite clans in Arabia and the entire Middle East, as they  are both Ishmaelite by paternal descent, and also Israelite through maternal descent, from the Royal House of Judah, from whom the Bani an-Najjar originally descend.
  4. Joktanites: ancient Arab tribes of southern Arabian peninsula
  5. Onkelos on the Torah Bereishit Noach Ch 10:30 p57 by Drazin & Wagner
  6. Medincha or Medinta? Are we sure the Aramaic term is  מָדִינְחָא Medincha with chet? But as far as my knowledge of Aramaic goes I would expect the correct spelling should read מְדִֽינְתָּא֙ medintā  with taw. The latter simply  mean the “city” in singular exactly cognates with the arabic مدينة where the blessed city are known for until today.
  7. Lineage from Ishmael according to classical accounting are considered the “Arabized” arabs or A’rab Musta’ribah  العرب المستعربة . They were arabized because Ishmael had to learn arabic when je came to Mecca and subsequently married into arab tribe of Jurhum. From Ishmael came the “Northern Arabs” associated with Adnāand later to Prophet Muhamad (in contrast to the biblical Joktanites  which give rise to “Southern Arabs” like the Yemenis)
  8. ان الله اصطفى كنانة من ولد اسماعيل و اصطفى قريسا من كنانة واصطفى قريسا بني هاشم و اصطفى ني بني هاشم – صحيح مسلم

    Verily Allah granted eminence to Kinana from amongst the descendants of Isma’il, and he granted eminence to the Quraish amongst Kinana, and he granted eminence to Banu Hashim amonsgst the Quraish, and he granted me eminence from the tribe of Banu Hashim. (Sahih Muslim » The Book of Virtues).

  9. Exilarch (Heb: ראש גלות Rosh Galut, Aram: ריש גלותא Reysh Galuta or Resh Galvata, Ar: رأس الجالوت Raas al-Galut lit. “leader of the captives”) refers to the leaders of the Diaspora Jewish community in Babylon following the deportation of King Jeconiah and his court into Babylonian exile after the first fall of Jerusalem in 597 BCE
  10.  See my previous article entitled The Road to Shur in this blog:

Umar B. Al-Khattab Did Not Burn The Library Of Alexandria

Kaleef K. Karim

The Caliph Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (ra), when he conquered Alexandria in Egypt, it is claimed that he had burned the Library of Alexandria. The earliest quotation that is often used by proponents goes back as far as the 13th century. That is literally 500 hundred years after the demise of Umar Ibn al-Khattab (ra). Abd al-Latif al-Baghdadi who lived in the 13th century is one of the first people to allude to this.

It is highly improbably that Umar Ibn al-Khattab (ra) would have taken such a decision. Besides, had he been of the view that there should be no need of any book except the Quran, then he would have also took the decision that there was no need of Churches, synonogues or fire-temples.

It is historical fact, that all of the four Caliphs, Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali protected and gave security to Churches, synagogues and temples. For example, the first Caliph Abu Bakr Siddique (ra) would issue clear orders not to “desecrate” Churches and leave those who are attached to their religions alone:

“Do not deluge (destroy) date-palm trees, do not kill animals, do not cut down fruit-bearing trees, DO NOT DESECRATE A CHURCH, do not kill children, do not kill women and do not kill old people. You shall soon come upon those that have secluded themselves in monasteries/churches, you must let them be so that they may SAFELY engage in that for whose sake they have secluded themselves.” (al-Sunan al-Kubra, [Mecca, Saudi Arabia: Maktaba Dar al-Baz 1994] by Ahmad bin al-Husayn al-Bayhaqi, volume 9, page 85)

Another Companion of the Prophet, Khalid Ibn Walid (ra) is said to have given guaranteed safety of the churches:

He gave them security for their persons, property, churches, and the wall of their city. None of their houses shall be destroyed or dwelt in. For this they have the promise of God, and the protection of His Prophet, the caliphs, and the believers. Nothing but good shall befall them if they tribute.’ (Futuh ul Buldan, Baladhuri, page 121)

The Prophet Muhammed (p) on his departure from this world ordered his companions to treat the Egyptians well. This is authentically reported in many of our classic sources. The Prophet (p) said to treat its inhabitants of Egypt well:

“Abu Dharr reported: Messenger of Allah said, “You will soon conquer a land where people deal with Qirat.” And according to another version: Messenger of Allah said, “You will soon conquer Egypt where Al-Qirat is frequently mentioned. So when you conquer it, TREAT ITS INHABITANTS WELL. For there lies upon you the responsibility because of blood ties or MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP (with them)“. (Riyad as-Salihin Book 1, Hadith 328)


“Abu Dharr reported Allah’s Messenger as saying: You would soon conquer Egypt and that is a land which is known (as the land of al-qirat). So when you conquer it, TREAT ITS INHABITANTS WELL. For there lies upon you the responsibility because of blood-tie or relationship of MARRIAGE (WITH THEM). And when you see two persons falling into dispute amongst themselves for the space of a brick, than get out of that. He (Abu Dharr) said: I saw Abd al-Rahman b. Shurahbil b. Hasana and his brother Rabi’a disputing with one another for the space of a brick. So I left that (land). (Sahih Muslim Book 31, Hadith 6174)

Abd al-Hakam (803 – 870 CE) reports that Umar Ibn al-Khattab (ra) himself heard this statement of the Prophet (p) to “take good care” of Christians in Egypt:

“Omar, the Commander of the Faithful, told me that he heard the Apostle of God say: ‘God will open Egypt to you after my death. So take GOOD CARE of the Copts in that country; for they are YOUR KINSMEN and under your protection. Cast down your eyes therefore, and keep your hands off them.” (The Arab Conquest Of Egypt And The Last Thirty Years Of The Roman Dominion [Oxford – At The Clarendon Press, 1902] by Alfred J. Butler, D. Litt., F.S.A., Fellow Of Brasenose College, Author Of ‘The Ancient Coptic Churches Of Egypt’. Etc., page 436)

I am sure the false story about descretating other people’s Sacred scriptures is not treating them with kindness. The report about Umar and Amr Ibn al-As in its entirety has no historical truth. Western academics have for past few centuries debunked this false story. Indeed, Umar Ibn al-Khattab is innocent of the lies that are attrbuted to him. I won’t go into much more detail, as I will list a dozen or more scholars who will vindicate Umar and Amr Ibn al-As from the lies that are attributed to them.

Muslim scholars

Dr. Muhammad Ali al-Sallabi quotes scholar Abdur-Raheem Muhammad Abdul-Hameed’s extensive work on this false story:

“The claim that the Muslims burnt the library of Alexandria
Dr. Abdur-Raheem Muhammad Abdul-Hameed said: ‘We did not find any text or indication that Amr Ibn al-As burned the library of Alexandria. All there is, is a text by Ibn al-Qafti, quoting from Ibn al-Abari (d. 685 A.H./1286 C.E.) which says: ‘Yahya al-Nahawi – who was from Alexandria and lived until the city of Alexandria was conquered by Amr Ibn al-As – went to see Amr. He was known for his knowledge, so Amr honoured him and heard from him philosophical words with which the Arabs were not familiar.’ Ibn al-Qafti completed the story by saying: ‘Amr said to him, ‘What do you want from us?’ He said, ‘The books of wisdom that are in the royal stores’… forty-five thousand, one hundred and twenty volumes. Amr thought that what Yahya had mentioned was too much, and he said, ‘I cannot issue such an order without asking permission from the caliph.’ He wrote to Umar and told him what Yahya had said, and ‘Umar wrote back, saying: ‘As for the books which you have mentioned, if what is in them is accordance with the Book of Allah, then we should be content with the Book of Allah. If what is in them is contrary to the Book of Allah, then we have no need of them. So go ahead and destroy them. ‘Amr Ibn al-As started distributing the books to the bath-houses of Alexandria, where they were burned in the stoves, and I was told the number of bath-houses at that time, but I forgot. They said that it took six months to burn them all, so listen to what happened and be amazed.’ 162 (Amr Ibn al-As Al-Qa’id Wa as-Siyasi, page 133)
But this story of the book-burning was narrated before Ibn al-Qafti and before al-Abari. Abdul-Lateef al-Baghdadi (d. 649 A.H./1231 C.E.) said: It was a house of knowledge that was built by Alexander when he built the city, in which were stored the books that were burned by Amr Ibn al-As with the permission of Umar Ibn al-Khattab.’ (Amr Ibn al-As Al-Qa’id Wa as-Siyasi, page 134)
But if we study these reports, we must note the following points:
1. There is no connection between these three reports or between their narrators, even though they lived in a similar time frame.
2. There is no isnad to which these reports can be attributed; rather they reflect assumptions that are made by their authors.
3. These reports were written at a time that was distant from the conquest of Egypt and the time of Amr Ibn al-As. So we may say with all certainty that this story is obviously fabricated and the following criticisms may be made:
4. The story of the burning of the library of Alexandria is not mentioned by those who wrote the history of Egypt and its conquest, who lived many centuries before those who wrote this story.
5. This story is not mentioned by al-Waqidi, at-Tabari, Ibn al-Atheer or Ibn Khaldoun, let alone Ibn Abdul-Hakam, and it is not mentioned by Yaqoot al-Hamawi in his description of Alexandria.
6. This story can be traced back to the time of the Crusades, through al-Baghdadi, who may have fabricated it under pressure, or it may have been fabricated later on and attributed to him.
7. If this so-called library ever existed, then we may say that the Byzantines who left Alexandria could have taken it with them and they probably did do that.
8. Amr could have thrown the books into the sea within a very short time, instead of burning them, which supposedly took six months. This points to the purpose behind fabrication of this story. We can say without any hesitation that Umar Ibn al-Khattab and Amr Ibn al-As are innocent of what has been attributed to them in this fabricated story, which stems from the imaginations of people who love to exaggerate, so they imagined things that did not happen.” (Amr Ibn al-As, Al-Qa’id Wa As-Siyasi, page 134). (Umar Ibn al-Khattab – His Life & Times [Translated by Nasiruddin al-Khattab, International Islamic Publishing House], by Dr. Muhammad Ali al-Sallabi, volume 2, page 339 – 341)

Non-Muslim Scholars

British historian and scholar of Islam, Arthur Stanley Tritton (1881 – 1973) states that “Umar I did not destroy the library” and that such words were “put into his mouth”:

“It has been proved that ‘Umar I did NOT destroy the library at Alexandria. In addition to other reasons, one may argue that the words put into his mouth, ‘If the books agree with the Koran, they are unnecessary ; if they do not, they are pernicious’ reveal the mind of a later age, when Islam had become intellectually proud.” (The Caliphs And Their Non-Muslim Subjects: A Critical Study Of The Covenant Of Umar” [Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press – London Bombay Calcutta Madras, 1930], by Arthur Stanley Tritton, page 233)

British – American historian Bernard Lewis (b. 1916) by far gives the most detailed rebuttal to this mythical story:

“The Arab Destruction Of The Library Of Alexandria: Anatomy Of A Myth
Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, some writers are still disposed to believe and even repeat the story of how the Great Library of Alexandria was destroyed by the Arabs after their conquest of the city in 642 A.D., by order of the Caliph Umar. This story – its origins, purpose, acceptance and rejection – provides an interesting example of how such historical myths arise and, for a while at least, flourish.
This story first became known to Western scholarship in 1663, when Edward Pococke, the Laudian Professor of Arabic at Oxford, published an edition of the Arabic text, with Latin translation, of part of the compendious History of the Dynasties of the Syrian-Christian author Barhebraeus, also known as Abu al-Faraj. According to this story, Amr Ibn al-As, the commander of the Arab conquerors, was inclined to accept the pleas of John the Grammarian and spare the library, but the Caliph decreed otherwise: ‘If these writings of the Greeks agree with the book of God, they are useless and need not be preserved; if they disagree, they are pernicious and ought to be destroyed.’ The books in the library, the story continues, were accordingly distributed among the four thousand bathouses of the city, and used to heat the furnaces, which they kept going for almost six months.
AS EARLY AS 1713, FATHER EUSEBE RENAUDOT, THE DISTINGUISHED FRENCH ORIENTALIST, CAST DOUBT ON THIS STORY, remarking in his history of the Patriarchs of Alexandria, published in that year, that it ‘HAD SOMETHING UNTRUSTWORTHY ABOUT IT.’
Curiously, although Father Renaudot’s text is in Latin, the word ‘untrustworthy’ is in Greek – perhaps a security precaution. The great English historian Edward Gibbon, never one to miss a good story, relates it with gusto, and then proceeds:
‘For my own part, I am strongly tempted to deny both the facts and the consequences.’
To explain this denial, Gibbon gives the two principal arguments against authenticity – that the story first appears some six hundred years after the actions which it purports to describe, and that such action is in any case contrary to what we know of the teachings and practice of the Muslims. Both arguments are, to say the least, convincing, but the story still survives.
Since then, a succession of other Western scholars have analysed and demolished the story – Alfred J. Butler in 1902, Victor Chauvin in 1911, Paul Casanova and Eugenio Griffini, independently in 1923. Some have attacked the inherent improbabilities of the story. Paper was not introduced to Egypt until centuries after the Arab conquest, and many if not most, of the books at that time would have been written on vellum, which does not burn. To keep that many bathhouse furnaces going for that length of time, a library of at least 14 million books would have been required. Another difficulty is that John the Grammarian who, according to the Barhebraeus story, pleaded with Amr for his Library probably lived and died in the previous century. In any case, there is good evidence that the Library itself was destroyed long before the Arabs arrived in Egypt.
Another curious detail: the fourteenth century historian Ibn Khaldun tells an almost identical story concerning the destruction of a library of Persian, presumably Zoroastrian, books in Persia, also by order of the Caliph Umar, with the very same words. This again strongly suggests a mythic or folkloric origin. By far the strongest argument against the story is the slight and late evidence on which it rests. Barhebraeus, the principal source used by Western historians, lived from 1226 to 1289. He had only two predecessors, from one of whom he simply copied the story, and both preceded him by no more than a few decades. The earliest source is a Baghdadi physician called Abd al-Latif, who was in Egypt in 1203, and in a brief account of his journey refers in passing to “the library which ‘Amr ibn al-‘As burnt with the permisison of ‘Umar.” An Egyptian scholar, Ibn al-Qifti, wrote a history of learned men in about 1227, and includes a biography of John the Grammarian in the course of which he tells the story on which the legend is based. His narrative ends: “I was told the number of bathhouses that existed at that time, but I have forgotten it. It is said that they were heated for six months. Listen to this story and wonder!” Barhebraeus merely followed the text of Ibn al-Qifti, omitting his final observation on the number of baths. This number is provided by other Arabic sources, in quite different contexts.

A more recent example, this time of offensive, not defensive forgery, is the so-called Protocols of the Elders of Zion. These were concocted in France in the late nineteenth century, on behalf of the Czarist Russian secret police. The forgers adapted them from a French propaganda tract against Napoleon III and a minor nineteenth century French novel, neither making any mention of Jews. With this weapon, the Czarist secret police were able to discredit their two favorite enemies at the same time, by attributing revolutionary designs to the Jews and Jewish inspiration to the revolutionaries. The so-called ‘Protocols’ were extensively used in the propaganda campaigns of the Nazis in Germany and of their disciples and imitators elsewhere, to justify hatred and, where convenient, persecution. Though their falsity has been repeatedly demonstrated by historical analysis and even proved in courts of law in several countries, they remain a favorite of propagandists seeking to prove a point and not unduly concerned about the authenticity of their evidence. THE MYTH OF THE ARAB DESTRUCTION OF THE LIBRARY OF ALEXANDRIA IS NOT SUPPORTED BY EVEN A FABRICATED DOCUMENT. One may wonder what purpose it served. One answer, often given and certainly in accord with a currently popular school of epistemology would see the story as anti-Islamic propaganda, designed by hostile elements to blacken the good name of Islam by showing the revered Caliph Umar as a destroyer of libraries. But this explanation is as absurd as the myth itself. The original sources of the story are Muslim, the only exception being the Syrian-Christian Barhebraeus, who copied it from a Muslim author. Not the creation, but the demolition of the myth was the achievement of European orientalist scholarship, which from the eighteenth century to the present day has rejected the story as false and absurd, and this exonerated the Caliph Umar and the early Muslims from this libel. But if the myth was created and disseminated by Muslims and not by their enemies, what could possibly have been their motive? The answer is almost certainly provided in a comment of Paul Casanova. Since the earliest occurrence of the story is an allusion at the beginning of the thirteenth century, it must have become current in the late twelfth century – that is to say, in the time of the great Muslim hero Saladin, famous not for his victories over the Crusaders, but also – and in a Muslim context perhaps more importantly – for having extinguished the heretical Fatimid Caliphate in Cairo, which, with its Isma’ili doctrines, had for centuries threatened the unity of Islam. Abd al-Latif was an admirer of Saladin, whom he went to visit in Jerusalem. Ibn al-Qifti’s father was a follower of Saladin, who appointed him Qadi in the newly conquered city. One of Saladin’s first tasks after the restoration of Sunnism in Cairo was to break up the Fatimid collections and treasures and sell their contents at public auction. These included a very considerable library, presumably full of heretical Isma’ili books. The break-up of a library, even one containing heretical books, might well have evoked disapproval in a civilized, literate society. The myth provided an obvious justification. It is unlikely that the story was fabricated from the whole cloth at this time. More probably, those who used it adopted and adapted folkloric material current at the time. According to this interpretation, the message of the narrative was not that the Caliph Umar was a barbarian because he destroyed a library, but that destroying a library could be justified, because the revered Caliph Umar had approved of it. This once again, as on so many occasions, the early heroes of Islam were mobilized by later Muslim propagandists to give posthumous sanction to actions and policies of which they never heard and which they would probably not have condoned. IT IS SURELY TIME THAT THE CALIPH UMAR AND AMR IBN AL-AS WERE FINALLY ACQUITTED OF THIS CHARGE WHICH THEIR ADMIRERS AND LATER DETRACTORS CONSPIRED TO BRING AGAINST THEM.” (What Happened To The Ancient Library Of Alexandria [Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2008], (edited by Mostafa El-Abbadi and Omnia Mounir Fathallah), by Bernard Lewis, page 213 – 217)

British philosopher and historian Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970 CE):

“The belief that fanaticism promotes success in war is one that is not borne out by history, although it is constantly assumed by those who cloak their ignorance under the name of ‘realism’. When the Romans conquered the Mediterranean world, fanaticism played no part in their success. The motives of Roman Generals were either to acquire the gold reserves of temples with a view to keeping half for themselves and giving half to their soldiers, or, as in the case of Caesar, to gain the prestige which would enable them to win elections in Roma and defy their creditors. In the early contests of Christians and Mohammedans it was the Christians who were fanatical and the Mohammedans who were successful. CHRISTIAN PROPAGANDA HAS INVENTED STORIES OF MOHAMMEDAN INTOLERANCE, BUT THESE ARE WHOLLY FALSE AS APPLIED TO THE EARLY CENTURIES OF ISLAM. Every Christian has been taught the story of the Caliph destroying the Library of Alexandria. As a matter of fact, this Library was frequently destroyed and frequently re-created. Its first destroyed was Julius Caesar, and its last antedated the Prophet. The early Mohammedans, unlike the Christians, tolerated those whom they called ‘people of the Book’, provided they paid tribute. In contrast to the Christians, who persecuted not only pagans but each other, the Mohammedans were welcomed for their broadmindedness, and it was largely this that facilitated their conquests. To come to later time, Spain was ruined by fanatical hatred of Jews and Moors; France was disastrously impoverished by the persecution of Huguenots…” (Human Society In Ethics And Politics [London – George Allen & Unwin LTD, Ruskin House, Museum Street, 1954] by Bertrand Russell, page 217 – 218)

English historican Alfred J. Butler (1850 – 1936) is one of the first scholars in the western world to have written extensively on the conquests of Egypt. He states that the story of Umar ordering the burning of books is “ridiculous”:

“Caliph’s orders could not make it burn: what then became of all these manuscripts ? And when one has deducted all the writings on vellum, how can it be seriously imagined that the remainder of the books would have kept the 4,000 bathfurnaces of Alexandria alive for 180 days ? The tale, as it stands, is ridiculous; one may indeed listen and wonder. … It is difficult either to convict or to clear Caesar of the charge. Plutarch has no doubt of the fact: As his fleet was falling into the hands of the enemy, he was forced to repel the danger by fire : this spread from the dockyards and destroyed the great Library. Plut. Caes. 49.” (The Arab Conquest Of Egypt And The Last Thirty Years Of The Roman Dominion [Oxford – At The Clarendon Press, 1902] by Alfred J. Butler, D. Litt., F.S.A., Fellow Of Brasenose College, Author Of ‘The Ancient Coptic Churches Of Egypt’. Etc., page 405 – 408)

Alfred J. Butler goes further and states that the story is a “mere fable, totally destitute of historical foundation”:

“One or two other points remain to be noticed. Let it be granted for a moment that all the foregoing reasoning has not seriously shaken the theory of the survival of the Serapeum Library; and suppose also that the Library was intact when the Arabs captured Alexandria ; I would still say that its destruction by the Arabs is extremely improbable. For this reason : that the Arabs did not enter Alexandria for eleven months after its capture, and in the treaty of surrender it was expressly stipulated that during the interval, not only might the Romans themselves depart, but that they might carry off all their movable possessions and valuables ^. During all this period the sea was open, and the passage to Constantinople and other ports was absolutely unhindered. The mere market value of the books in the Serapeum Library, if it existed, must have been enormous: their literary value must have been keenly appreciated by a large number of persons with intellectual interests : and these students would surely have forestalled the fabled zeal of John Philoponus by securing the removal of such priceless treasures while it was still time, instead of leaving them to the ignorant mercy of the desert warriors to whom the city was to be delivered. Finally, the silence that prevails among fifth and sixth century writers reigns also after the conquest. There are no Arab historians of Egypt in the seventh or eighth century ; and it might be said that later writers were anxious to suppress the story of the burning of the Library. But this cannot apply to the Coptic bishop, John of Nikiou, who was a man of learning, and who wrote before the end of the seventh century. The range and the detail of his work prove that he had access to plentiful sources of information fifty years after the conquest. Abu Faraj himself—the author of the charge against the Arabs—proves that Alexandria continued to be frequented by students about the year 680 a. d.: for he represents James of Edessa as going to Alexandria to complete his education after receiving a thorough instruction in the Greek language and in the Scriptures at a Syrian convent. This evidence warrants the assertion that some private and monastic libraries continued after, as before, the conquest. But if there had been a great public library before the conquest, and if it had been burned by the Arabs at the conquest, is it possible that John of Nikiou — an almost contemporary writer, who deals minutely with the capture of Alexandria—should have consigned to oblivion an event which not merely impoverished his history of its best materials, but robbed the literary world of its great storehouse of treasure for all time ? It may not be amiss to briefly recapitulate the argument. The problem being to discover the truth or falsehood of the story which charges the Arabs with burning the Alexandrian Library, I have shown, —
(i) that the story makes its first appearance more than five hundred years after the event to which it relates;
(2) that on analysis the details of the story resolve into absurdities;
(3) that the principal actor in the story, viz. John Philoponus, was dead long before the Saracens invaded Egypt;
(4) that of the two great public Libraries to which the story could refer, (a) the Museum Library perished in the conflagration caused by Julius Caesar, or, if not, then at a date not less than four hundred years anterior to the Arab conquest; while
(5) the Serapeum Library either was removed prior to the year 391, or was then dispersed or destroyed, so that in any case it disappeared two and a half centuries before the conquest; (5) that fifth, sixth, and early seventh century literature contains no mention of the existence of any such Library;
(6) that if, nevertheless, it had existed when Cyrus set his hand to the treaty surrendering Alexandria, yet the books would almost certainly have been removed—under the clause permitting the removal of valuables—during the eleven months’ armistice which intervened between the signature of the con- vention and the actual entry of the Arabs into the city; and
(7) that if the Library had been removed, or if it had been destroyed, the almost contemporary historian and man of letters, John of Nikiou, could not have passed over its disappearance in total silence.
The conclusion of the whole matter can be no longer doubtful. The suspicion of Renaudot and the scepticism of Gibbon are more than justified. One must pronounce that Abu Faraj’s story is a mere fable, totally destitute of historical foundation.” (The Arab Conquest Of Egypt And The Last Thirty Years Of The Roman Dominion [Oxford – At The Clarendon Press, 1902] by Alfred J. Butler, D. Litt., F.S.A., Fellow Of Brasenose College, Author Of ‘The Ancient Coptic Churches Of Egypt’. Etc., page 423 – 425)

Indian scholar D. P. Singhal (1954) :

“In 642 Alexandria, protected by walls and towers and guarded by the Byzantine fleet, fell to the Arabs. The hub of intellectual and cultural life for about a thousand years and the proud possessor of some of the best monuments of antiquity. Alexandria lay in ruins before the arms of the Arab commander Amr Ibn al-As. According to a well-known story, the manuscripts from the famous library supplied fuel for the public baths for six months. The story also relates the oft-quoted remark allegedly by Caliph Omar Ibn al-Khattab (ca. 634-44) when he consented to the destruction of the library:
‘If these writings of the Greeks agree with the book of God, they are useless and need not be preserved; if they disagree, they are pernicious and ought to be destroyed.’
The story, however, is no more than a fable. It makes its first appearance in the solitary report of a stranger, Abul Faraj, who wrote five hundred years laterThe reported sentence of the Caliph is alien to the traditional precept of the Muslimcasuists who had expressly commanded the preservation of captured religious texts of the Jews and Christians, and had declared that the works of profane scientists and philosophers could be lawfully applied to the believer. Seldom in history has there been a parallel for transcribing a falsehood with such persistence, conviction, and indignation, in spite of contrary evidence. Gibbon, like many other scholars denied both the fact and the consequences. In fact, the Arabs were far too fond of books and knowledge to behave in this manner. They built a number of famous libraries in their empire, and their librarians were often men of high learning. But many other Asian conquerors, such as Mahmud of Ghazni, Holagu, and Genghis Khan, destroyed libraries. European invaders from Palestine and Syria burned the magnificent library at Tripolis during the first Crusade. Many early and medieval Christian enthusiasts burned libraries, archives, and works of art in North Africa, pre-Columbian America, Rome and Asia. It is likely that Emperor Theodosius of Constantinople destroyed all or part of the library of Alexandria because, as a devout Christian, he did not approve of pagan books – Greek or Asian.” (India And World Civilization [Michigan State university Press, 1969] by D. P. Singhal, volume 1, page 136 – 137)

Ruth Stellhorn Mackensen:

“Ever since 1663, when Pococke published the Arabic text of the Dynasties by Abu al-Faraj (Barhebraeus) with a Latin translation, there has been a perennial interest in the account there given of the destruction of the Alexandrian library by the Arabs when they conquered that city in 642 a.d. Renaudot and Gibbon viewed the story with skepticism, and numerous recent scholars, after examining all the available sources in detail, believe it entirely unfounded. But many more have been willing to accept it as true, partly, perhaps, because it is a well-told and on the surface fairly convincing tale, and partly due to prejudice against Mohammedanism. Those who accept it for the latter reason overlook similar charges which Moslems, supported by far more dependable evidence, make Against Christians. They point to the destruction of a princely library in Syrian Tripolis at the hands of the Crusaders, and to the burning of the royal library at Granada by Cardinal Ximenez in 1492. In the minds of many non-Arabists the annihilation of the Alexandrian library is the only connection of Arabs with libraries, and hence if for no other reason the affair merits discussion here. Briefly, the story is that the Arab general Amr became friendly with a famous Christian scholar, John Philoponus, who observed to him that among the treasures of Alexandria the conqueror had left untouched the great library, and since the Arabs were not interested in its contents he asked for the books as a gift. Amr, personally inclined to accede to the request, considered it his duty to refer the matter to his caliph. Umar sent back the brief order, “Touching the books you mention, if what is written in them agrees with the Book of God, they are not required: if it disagrees, they are not desired. Therefore destroy them.” Whereupon c Amr ordered the books distributed to the four thousand baths of the city, which required six months to consume the precious fuel. As A. J. Butler points out, 4 the chief argument for the authenticity of the story is its picturesqueness and the true oriental flavor of Umar’s reply. The latter somewhat loses its force when one is reminded that Ibn Khaldun places the same words in the mouth of this caliph in response to the inquiry of another general as to the proper disposal of books found in the course of his Persian conquests. Probably some Western readers have been inclined to believe the report just because it is found in Arabic sources. However, the total lack of contemporary references to the supposed event, especially in such writings as that of a Coptic bishop, John of Nikiou, who, writing before the end of the seventh century, gives minute details of the capture of the city, is significant. Further, the first Arabic reference to the incident, so far as we can judge from extant literature, comes from the twelfth century, approximately six hundred years after the event. Abd al-Latif (d. 1231 a.d.), who went to Egypt in 1193, wrote a description of that country some time after 1202, in which he makes passing allusion to “the library which c Amr burned with Umar’s permission.” 6 The first detailed account is given by the Egyptian historian Ibn al-Kifti (d. 1248 a.d.), the existing summary of whose work, generally called Tarikh al Hukama, was made by al-Zauzani the year after the author’s death. 7 Shortly before his death in 1286 Abu al-Faraj, the great Syrian Christian scholar, prepared an Arabic abridgment of the first half of his great Syriac Chronicle, to which he added a summary of biblical history and an account of Arabic scientific literature. For the latter he drew greatly on Ibn al-Kifti, from whom he copied word for word the much-quoted fate of the Alexandrian library. 8 Thereafter Arabic and Coptic writers refer to the matter frequently. Picturesque as the story is, it will not bear close scrutiny.
It is most unlikely that if Amr had been ordered to destroy the books he would have troubled to dole them out to the baths of the city— an arrangement entailing considerable work and a delay which would have given ardent bibliophiles every opportunity to make away with many of the most valuable manuscripts. The picture of four thousand baths ablaze with books for six months is the very stuff of fairy tales, and is characteristic of the fabulous numbers so dear to the heart of oriental story-tellers. An even more serious discrepancy is the part supposedly played by John Philoponus, for it is known that he was writing as early as 540, and possibly before the accession of Justinian in 527, over a century before Alexandria fell into the hands of the Arabs in 642. And, finally, scholars have shown that it is highly improbable that the library survived until this date.
The history of the Museum and its successor the Serapium is fraught with many problems which need not be discussed here. Nor shall we detain ourselves with an examination of the sources. For complete details the reader may refer to some of the complete studies of the subject. 9 However, certain conclusions which are pertinent to our problem are fairly clearly established. The Museum, of which the great library was a part, seems to have been planned and possibly begun by Ptolemy Soter, whose successor, Philadelphus, completed its equipment and organization about the middle of the third century b.c. It is generally supposed that the library suffered and perhaps was destroyed in the conflagration which spread in the Bruchion quarter as a result of the burning of the harbor by Julius Caesar in 48 b.c. Scholars, however, continued to frequent the Museum, at least until 216 a.d., when Caracalla suppressed the common hall. The institution came to an end in 273, when Aurelian destroyed all the buildings.
Sometime early in the Christian Era a new library grew up in connection with the great temple of Serapis. Some suppose that the royal library of Pergamus which Mark Antony carried off to present to Cleopatra, a few years after the fire in 48 b.c., furnished the nucleus for this new collection. Others, among them Butler, hold that Cleopatra placed her books in the Caesarion, begun during her reign and finished by Augustus, for the libraries of that temple are referred to occasionally. The Caesarion was plundered in 366 a.d. It is worthy of note that Ammianus Marcellinus speaks of numerous libraries in Alexandria.
At any rate, it is quite clear that by the fourth century the older Museum had disappeared and in its place was the daughter-institution, the Serapium, which continued its traditions as a scientific and literary academy. In 391 the latter was plundered and demolished by the Christians, to whom the great image of Serapis and its cult had long been hateful. There is no positive evidence that the library perished at this time. Rufinus, an eyewitness who gives considerable detail on the destruction of the temple, makes no mention of the fate of the library. His silence has led some scholars to suppose that the books were kept in other buildings on the Acropolis and thereby survived the catastrophe. But from the remarks of Aphthonius, who visited the Serapium not long before the events of 391, it is evident that the library was associated with the temple building and was still frequented by men of learning. Hence it is most likely that it was destroyed along with the temple proper. There is also little reason for accepting the suggestion that the books were removed and shipped to Constantinople, for the frenzied mob, whose sole desire was to wipe out idolatry and all its accompaniments, can scarcely be supposed to have given thought to the value of pagan literature. The much-discussed lament of Orosius on the empty bookshelves is evidence that in 416 there were no longer any large and ancient libraries in Alexandria. 10
The total lack of any references to such libraries in all subsequent writings, both previous to and in the centuries following the Arab conquest, can only be interpreted as mute testimony to their disappearance. Above all, we should expect John Moschus and his friend Sophronius, who evince a passionate interest in all matters relating to books and who do describe lesser libraries they saw, to have mentioned the Serapium library if it was still in existence. They visited Egypt a few years before the coming of the Arabs in 642.
Some writers have attempted to clear Abu al-Faraj of responsibility for the famous report of the destruction of the Alexandrian library. They point out that it does not appear in the Syriac original of his history and hence hold it to be a late interpolation in the Arabic. However, we have seen that Abu al-Faraj is responsible for the Arabic epitome of his work and the additions to it. Its absence in the Beirut edition  is due to the red pencil of the Turkish censor rather than to a difference in manuscripts. This passage as well as several others lacking in this edition are on the proof sheets which were sent me by the director of the Catholic Press of Beirut in response to my inquiry. The manuscript used by Pococke is fairly late, 13 but was collated by the more recent editor with other manuscripts, all of which include the incident in question. At any rate, the problem of its existence in Abu al-Faraj’s history is of secondary importance, for it is evident from the statements of two Moslems, Ibn al-Kifti and Abd al-Latif , that the tradition was current in Arabic literature. Neither will Bury’s argument 14 that Abu al-Faraj did not use the word “library” but libri philosophici qui in gazophilaciis regiis reperiuntur get us out of the difficulty. The Arabic which Pococke so translated is khazahn al-mulukvap This phrase means literally “royal treasuries or collections”; khazapin and its singular, khizana , can mean simply “treasuries,” “stores,” “collections.” A library is specifically khizanat al-kutub (“collection of books”), but Arabic writers quite frequently omit the word “books” when the context makes it clear, as it does here, that “collections of books” are meant. So the Fihrist quotes a man as saying, “In my Khizana at Basra among his books are ” Of course one can legitimately argue that the royal library or collections does not necessarily refer to the great library of the Museum or Serapium, but we have just seen that there is no evidence that any great libraries survived the depredations of the Christians. It therefore seems quite clear that there arose — why we do not know, but apparently in Egypt not later than the first half of the thirteenth century — this story that Amr, on the order of the second caliph, destroyed a great library of royal foundation in Alexandria, and that although it was believed and recounted both by Christian and by Moslem historians, it is utterly groundless. The fact that Arabic writers should have perpetuated such a reflection on their forefathers speaks for their candor if not for their critical judgment. Possibly the story arose among a group of scholarly but heretical Moslems who greatly admired the remnants of Greek learning but regretted that so few survived and at the same time had little use for the early caliphs. One can quite well imagine such among the ranks of Ismaili savants who frequented the court of the Fatimids, whose heretical caliphate in Egypt was brought to an end by Saladin in 567/ 1171. As partisans of the house of Ali, whom they believed foully prevented from succeeding Mohammed as the true head of the Moslem state, they would have felt no scruples against representing Umar and his envoy as ignorant vandals. We know that the academy and library founded and supported by the Fatimid caliphs at Cairo was definitely modeled on the Museum or Serapium and that there sciences, of Greek origin, and literature were cultivated along with strictly religious studies. This institution was closed by Saladin and the books from its library were scattered all over Egypt and Syria. Or is it too far-fetched to imagine that the story may be no older than this event and took form as a protest or a bit of literary revenge on the part of some deposed scholar of the Fatimid House of Science? Saladin’s victory spelled the triumph of orthodoxy in Egypt, and in place of the essentially liberal and diversified studies of the academy there arose numerous madrasas, or theological schools, devoted almost exclusively to problems of Koranic exegesis, theology, and canon law. One can quite easily picture some disgruntled Fellow of the old academy viewing the limited interests of these new schools with dismay, saying, “So it has always been with the orthodox ; they have no appreciation of true learning. Today their general Saladin closes our school and scatters our books and so the general of Umar, may Allah curse him, destroyed the academy and the books of the ancients.” The story, then, may be supposed to have circulated — perhaps underground — in Egypt, where it was picked up by Abd al-Latif with his fondness for antiquities, and by Ibn al-Kifti with his interest in philosophy and philosophers and translations from the Greek, and accepted as a plausible explanation for the loss of books known only by name. There is good evidence that serious Arabic scholars were aware that they did not possess the full body of Greek literature. This hypothesis is frankly an imaginative construction for which there is no direct evidence, but it is offered as a possible explanation of the origin of a curious story which has aroused endless discussion.” (Background Of The History Of Moslem Libraries, ]The University Of Chicago Press – The American Journal Of Semitic Languages and Literatures, Jan., 1935] by Ruth Stellhorn Mackensen, volume 51, page 116 – 122, No. 2)

The late Emeritus Professor Of Semitic Literature Princeton University, Philip K. Hitti (1886 -1978) calls the story “tales that make good fiction”:

“The story that by the Caliph’s order Amr for six long months fed the numerous bath furnaces of the city with the volumes of the Alexandrian library is one of those TALES THAT MAKE GOOD FICTION but bad history. The great Ptolemaic Library was burnt as early as 48 B.C. by Julius Ceasar. A later one, referred to as the Daughter Library, was destroyed about A.D. 389 as a result of an edict by the Emperor Theodosius. At the time of the Arab conquests, therefore, no library of importance existed in Alexandria and no contemporary writer ever brought the charge against Amr or Umar. Abd al-Latif al-Baghdadi, who died as late as A.H. 629 (1231), seems to have been the first to relate the TALE. Why he did it we do not know, however, his version was copied and amplified by later authors.” (History Of The Arabs From The Earliest Times To The Present [Tenth Edition – Macmillan 1970], by Philip K. Hitti (Professor Emeritus Of Semitic Literature Princeton University), page 166)

English historian and scholar Edward Gibbon (1737 – 1794):

“I should deceive the expectation of the reader, if I passed in silence the fate of the Alexandrian library, as it is described by the learned Abulpharagius. The spirit of Amrou was more curious and liberal than that of his brethren, and in his leisure hours the Arabian chief was pleased with the conversation of John, the last disciple of Ammonius, and who derived the surname of Philoponus from his laborious studies of grammar and philosophy. Emboldened by this familiar intercourse, Philoponus presumed to solicit a gift, inestimable in his opinion, contemptible in that of the barbarians: the royal library, which alone, among the spoils of Alexandria, had not been appropriated by the visit and the seal of the conqueror. Amrou was inclined to gratify the wish of the grammarian, but his rigid integrity refused to alienate the minutest object without the consent of the caliph; and the well-known answer of Omar was inspired by the ignorance of a fanatic. ‘If these writings of the Greeks agree with the book of God, they are useless and need not be preserved; if they disagree, they are pernicious and ought to be destroyed.’
The sentence was executed with blind obedience; the volumes of paper or parchment were distributed to the four thousand baths of the city; and such was their incredible multitude that six months were barely sufficient for the consumption of this precious fuel. Since the Dynasties of Abulpharagius have been given to the world in a Latin version, with pious indignation, has deplored the irreparable shipwreck of the learning, the arts, and the genius, of antiquity. For my own part, I AM STRONGLY TEMPTED TO DENY BOTH THE FACT AND THE CONSEQUENCES. The fact is indeed marvellous; ‘Read and wonder!’ says the historian himself; and the solitary report of a stranger who wrote at the end of six hundred years on the confines of Media is overbalanced by the silence of two annalists of a more early date, both Christians, both natives of Egypt, and the most ancient of whom, the patriarch Eutychius, has amply described the conquest of Alexandria. The rigid sentence of Omar is repugnant to the sound and orthodox precept of the Mahometan casuists: they expressly declare that the religious books of the Jews and Christians, which are acquired by the right of war, SHOULD NEVER BE COMMITTED TO THE FLAMES; and that the works of profane science, historians or poets, physicians or philosophers, may be lawfully applied to the use of the faithful. A more destructive zeal may perhaps be attributed to the first successors of Mahomet; yet in this instance the conflagration would have speedily expired in the deficiency of materials. I shall not recapitulate the disasters of the Alexandrian library, the involuntary flame that was kindled by Caesar in his own defence, or the mischievous bigotry of the Christians who studied to destroy the monuments of idolatry. But, if we gradually descend from the age of the Antonines to that of Theodosius, we shall learn from a chain of contemporary witnesses that the royal place and the temple of Serapis no longer contained the four, or the seven, hundred thousand volumes which had been assembled by the curiosity and magnificence of the Ptolemies. Perhaps the church and seat of the patriarchs might be enriched with a repository of books; but, if the ponderous mass of Arian and Monophysite controversy were indeed consumed in the public baths, a philosopher may allow, with a smile, that it was ultimately devoted to the benefit of mankind.
I sincerely regret the more valuable libraries which have been involved in the ruin of the Roman empire; but, when I seriously compute the lapse of ages, the waste of ignorance, and the calamities of war, our treasures, rather than our losses, are the object of my surprise. Many curious and interesting facts are buried in oblivion: the three great historians of Rome have been transmitted to our hands in a mutilated state, and we are deprived of many pleasing compositions of the lyric, iambic, and dramatic poetry of the Greeks. Yet we should gratefully remember that the mischances of time and accident have spared the classic works to which the suffrage of antiquity had adjudged the first place of genius and glory; the teachers of ancient knowledge, who are still extant, had perused and compared the writings of their predecessors; nor can it fairly be presumed that any important truth, any useful discovery in art or nature, has been snatched away from the curiosity of modern ages.” (The History Of The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire [Methuen & Co. LTD. 36 Essex Street W.C., London, 1911] by Edward Gibbon, volume V (5), page 481 – 484)

Diana Delia:

“Although numerous other libraries throughout the ancient Mediterranean – in Asia Minor, the Persian empire, Athens and Rhodes, for example – have disappeared, no one ponders their fate. In the Western tradition, the romantic lament for the lost wisdom of the ancient world is reserved for the great library at Alexandria. The legend of the main library and its magnificent collection inspired the ruminations of the medieval Arab historians in the thirteenth century. The dazzling impression that the size and splendour of Alexandria made on Arabs and the potential danger it posed to an absolute faith are revealed by Ibn Duqmaq, who cited Abd al-Malik Ibn Juraij as claiming that, although he had made the pilgrimage to Mecca sixty times, ‘if God had suffered me to stay a month at Alexandria and pray on its shores, that month would be dearer to me than the sixty pilgrimages which I have undertaken.’ In Ibn Duqmaq’s own experience, ‘if a man make a pilgrimage around Alexandria in the morning, God will make for him a golden crown set with pearls, perfumed with musk and camphor and shining from the east to the west.’ In contrast to the classical tradition, which attributed the destruction of the Ptolemaic library to accident, Arab historians Abd al-Latif al-Baghdadi, Ibn al-Qifti, and Abu al-Faraj credited the dashing Muslim general Amr with its deliberate ruin during the Arab conquest of Egypt in A.D. 642. The second caliph, Umar, allegedly doomed the great library by decreeing as superfluous all books that conformed with the holy Qur’an and as undesirable all volumes that contradicted it. Thereupon, Amr reportedly consigned the entire collection to the flames, heating some four thousand public baths at Alexandria for a full six months. Bold TALES of this sort glorified both the magnificence of the ancient city and the Arabs who had conquered it.
But several considerations render the Islamic tradition SUSPECT. It is scarcely likely that many pagan manuscripts from the main library and annexes survived the depredations of Christian zealots during late antiquity. Also, this story suddenly surfaced in the thirteenth century after five and a half centuries of silence. And precisely the same response of Umar is recorded by Ibn Khaldun in connection with the destruction of another library in Persia. Romanticism combined with nationalistic fervor to FABRICATE an utterly fantastic legend about the destruction of the great Alexandrian library – not by the Romans but by the most recent subjugators of Egypt. ‘Listen and wonder,’ Ibn al-Qifti sceptically concluded, as well one might! Though clearly apocryphal…” (From Romance to Rhetoric: The Alexandrian Library in Classical and Islamic Traditions, [The American Historical Review – Oxford University Press, Dec., 1992] by Diana Delia, volume 97, No. 5, page 1464 – 1466)

In the book, “The Library Of Alexandria, Centre Of Learning In The Ancient World” written by the  Emeirtus Professor Roy Macleod (b. 1941) and published in 2000, he casts doubt on the story:

“there are many objections to accepting this tradition. The story first appears more than 500 years after the Arab conquest of Alexandria. John the Grammarian appears to be the Alexandrian philosopher John Philoponus, who must have been dead by the time of the conquest. It seems, as shown above, that both the Alexandrian libraries were destroyed by the end of the fourth century, and there is no mention of any library surviving at Alexandria in the Christian literature of the centuries following this date. It is also suspicious that the caliph Omar is recorded to have made the same remark about books found by the Arabs during their conquest of Iran. In short, the story is at best a testimony to the persistence of legends about the library long after it had in fact disappeared.” (The Library Of Alexandria, Centre Of Learning In The Ancient World [I.B.TAURIS, 2010 ], by Roy Macleod, page 74)


It is time to bury this false story once and for all. Umar Ibn al-Khattab (ra) and Amr Ibn al-As (ra) are vindicated from the lies that are attributed to them.

Don’t forget to follow Discover The Truth on Facebook and TwitterPLEASE help spread the word by sharing our articles on your favourite social networks.

(1) – “Prophet Muhammed’s Charity To Non-Muslims“

(2) – “Generosity Towards Non-Muslim Neighbours”

(3) – “Social Conditions: Christians And Jews In Early Period Of Islam”

(4) – “The Relationship Of The Muslim With Non-Muslims”

(5) – “What Does Islam Teach about Justice?”

(6) – “The Vanished Library“ – Bernard Lewis

Why Did Ali Burn “Apostates” Alive?

This article was originally published on

Kaleef K. Karim


1. Introduction
2. Sab’iyyans: Ali Was Divine And Sowing Discord Among Muslims
3. Evidence: Ali Did Not Burn Saba’s Followers Alive
4. The Prohibition Of Burning And Mutilation
5. Did Ali Ibn Abi Talib Reject Ibn Abbas’s Opinion?
6. Conclusion

1. Introduction

The aim of this article is to examine an episode in the life-time of Ali Ibn Abi Talib (ra), in which it is claimed that he burned alive a number of people as a result of them leaving the religion of Islam. In this article, we will explore the Hadith reports which are used for this, and look into the historical context surrounding these reports. We will aim to find out when the statement was made, and why did he carry out what he did against the person(s), 1400 years ago.

The reports which are used on this incident are very ambiguous and does not give us much information. At the end of this article we will try give a better picture as to what happened with some of those killed by Ali Ibn Abi Talib (ra). With the extra historical information available to us, we will shed a better light as to what took place prior and get better historical understanding of the said incident.

In the Caliphate of Uthman Ibn Affan (ra) there were individuals who were not pleased with him and loved to see the downfall of his rule. One group sprang up in his life-time whose aim was to either take Uthman Ibn Affan out of power or get him killed.

The group were called Saba’iyyans, whose founder Abdullah Ibn Saba led the group. Abdullah Ibn Saba was a former Jew who became a Muslim. Some historians have questioned his conversion. [1] They have suspected that he only became Muslim so as to spread mischief/bloodshed, disunite the Muslim community and bring the Islamic Empire down:

“Abd-Allah Ibn Saba, who is also known as Ibn al-Sawda, was from San’a who appeared outwardly to have become Muslim at the time of Uthman Ibn Affan. He was noticeably active in Syria, Iraq and Egypt in particular. He drew up plans and produced destructive ideas to divert the Muslims from their religion and stop them obeying their caliph, and create division among them.” (Tahqeeq Mawaqif al-Sahabah fi’l-Fitnah, volume 1, page 284).” (The Biography of Uthman Ibn Affan – Dhun-Noorayn [Darussalam, Translated by Nasir Khattab, edited by Hoda Khattab] by Dr. Ali Muhammad as-Sallabi page 478)

2. Sab’iyyans: Ali Was Divine And Sowing Discord Among Muslims

The Saba’iyyans had heretical beliefs in which they believed that Ali Ibn Abi Talib (ra) was God. Ibn Hajar (1372 – 1449 CE) writes:

“… Abd-Allah Ibn Saba was one of the extreme heretics… he had followers who were called Saba’is, who believed in the divinity of Ali Ibn Abi Talib.” (Lisan al-Mizan by Ahmad Ibn Hajar [Hyderabad Deccan] volume 3, page 360).” (The Biography of Uthman Ibn Affan – Dhun-Noorayn [Darussalam, Translated by Nasir Khattab, edited by Hoda Khattab] by Dr. Ali Muhammad as-Sallabi page 480 – 481)

Note, their extreme self-devotion and believing that Ali is Divine is connected to the said incident we are going to examine:

“‘Ikrimah said: ‘Ali burned some people who retreated from Islam. When Ibn ‘Abbas was informed of it, he said: If it had been I, I would not have burned them, for the Messenger of Allah said: Do not inflict Allah’s punishment on anyone, but would have had killed them on account of the statement of the Messenger of Allah. The Apostle said: Kill those who change their religion. When ‘Ali was informed about it he said: How truly Ibn ‘Abbas said!” (Sunan Abi Dawud Book 39, Hadith 4337 (Eng. Tran., Sahih Al-Albani, )

This is also reported in Sunan an-Nasa’i:

“Some people apostatized after accepting Islam, and Ali burned them with fire. Ibn Abbas said: ‘If it had been me, I would not have burned them; the Messenger of Allah said: ‘No one should be punished with the punishment of Allah.’ If it had been me, I would have killed them…” (Sunan an-Nasa’i volume 5, Book 37, Hadith 4065, Eng. Tran. Sahih Darussalam, )

The above reports seem to imply that the people were killed as a result of them of leaving Islam. However, when we consult other historical sources, they tell us that they still believed in Islam and were accepted as being “Muslims” by the wider society. They believed in Prophet Muhammed (p) and the message he came with, but at the same time adopted extreme heretical beliefs for which some were dealt with and others exiled. [2]

Ibn Hajar (1372 – 1449 CE) states:

“Abu al-Mudhaffar – al-Isfariyeeni said in al-Milal wan-Nihal that those whom ‘Ali burned were a group of the Raifidis who claimed that he was divine. They were the Saba’is. Their leader Abdullah ibn Saba…. This may be based on what we have reported from Abu Tau al-Mukhlis via Abdullah ibn Shurayk al-‘bin who said: ‘It was said to Ali: “There are some people at the door of the mosque who are claiming that you are their Lord.” He called them and said: “Woe to you, what are you saying?’ They said: “You are our lord, creator and provider. “This is a reliable chain of narration.” (Fath al-Bari, volume 12, page 271), Ali Ibn Abi Talib, [Translated by Nasiruddin al-Khattab – International Islamic Publishing House], by Dr. Ali M. Sallabi, volume 2, page 322)

Abu Mansur Abd-al-Kahir Ibn-Tahir al-Baghdadi (980 – 1037 CE) provides a number of different views and reports on Abdullah Saba and his followers [3]:

“The Sabbabiyah among them started their heresy in the time of Ali. One of them said to Ali, ‘THOU ART A GOD,’ and Ali destroyed SOME of them by fire, and banished Ibn Saba to Sabat al-Mada’in. This sect is not one of the divisions of the Ummat al-Islam, because it calls Ali a god.” (Moslem Schisms And Sects (Al-Fark Bain al-Firak) Being The History Of Various Philosophic Systems Developed In Islam by Abu Mansur Abd-al-Kahir Ibn-Tahir al-Baghdadi (d. 1037) [Translated From The Arabic by Kate Chambers Seelye, PH.D – New York: Columbia University Press, 1920] Part 1 (Vol. 1) page 38)


“…The rise of the doctrine of anthropomorphism is linked with several groups among the ghulat Rawafid. One of them is the Sabbabiyya who CALLED ALI GOD AND IDENTIFIED HIM WITH THE ESSENCE OF GOD.” (Moslem Schisms And Sects (Al-Fark Bain al-Firak) Being the History of The Various Philosophic Systems Developed In Islam by Abu Mansur Abd-al-Kahir Ibn Tahir al-Baghdadi (d. 1037) [Tel Aviv: Palestine Publishing Co., Ltd., Porcupine Press, Philadelphia, 1978 – Translated from the Arabic with introduction and notes by Abraham S. Halkin] Part 2 (Vol. 2) page 31)

In the Muqaddimah by Ibn Khaldun (1332 – 1406 CE) it is reported that the Sabi’yyan group gave Ali divine qualities:

”Something of that sort has been stated with regard to Ali himself. He is said to be in the clouds. The thunder is his voice, and lightening his whip.” (Ibn Khaldun – The Muqaddimah: An introduction to History [Bollingen Series XLIII, Princeton University Press, second printing of second edition, 1980, Translated from the Arabic by Franz Rosenthal] volume 1, page 407)

In Fath al-Bari – Ibn Hajar (1372 – 1449 CE) states that they called Ali a “Lord”:

“They say “You are our Lord, Our creator, Our provider, ‘Ali (r.a.) says: “Woe unto you, I’m a servant like you, I eat exactly as you eat, I drink as you drink and that I obey Allah and he compensates me, God willing.” – (Fath al-Bari, volume 12, page 271, Ibn Hajar said: “This is Hasan”)

Ibn Taymiyya (1263 – 1328 CE) also confirms this account:

“…wish to ruin the religion of Islam like Paul the son of Joshua the King of the Jews, ruined the Christian religion. Their prayers do not go past their ears. Ali Ibn Abi Talib burned them and EXILED THEM FROM THE CITIES. Among those (who he exiled were): Abd’Allah Ibn Saba, one of the Jews of San’a, he exiled him to Sabat; and Abu Bakr al-arawwas, he exiled him to Jabiya. He burned among them a group who came to him and said, ‘You are he!’ He said, ‘Who am I!’ They said, ‘YOU ARE OUR LORD!” (Minhaj, Ibn Taymiyya, volume, page 28. And Malati Tanbih, page 118)

The following two reports tell us that the above incident is intertwined together and this happened at the same time.

Abu Nu’aym al-Isfahani (947 – 1038 CE) reports that:

”It reached Ali THAT IBN SABA GAVE HIM PREFERENCE OVER ABU BAKR AND UMAR, so (Ali) became determined to kill (Abdullah Ibn Saba). Someone said to him, ‘Will you kill a man who only glorifies you and favors you?’ He said, ‘CERTAINLY HE WILL NOT DWELL BESIDE ME IN ANY COUNTRY WHERE I AM TO BE FOUND. Abd’Allah Ibn hubayq said, ‘It was related to me concerning (Abdallah Ibn Saba) by al-Haytham Ibn Jamil, that ‘(Abdullah Ibn Saba) was EXILEDto a land near al-Mada’in until the Hour.” (Abu Nu’aym, Hilya, volume 8, page 253)

Here Ibn Saba (Sawda) is raising Ali above other Sahaba. Sowing discord:

“… He related to them that he discovered in the Torah that every Prophet is given an heir and that Ali was the heir of Muhammad and that he was the most perfect heir just as Muhammad had been the most perfect prophet. When the Ali party heard this from him they said to Ali: Verily he is an admirer of yours. Ali, therefore, raised his rank and seated him under the stairs of his Mimbar [in the Mosque]. Then he was informed of IBN SAWDA’S (IBN SABA) EXTRAVAGANT ATTITUDE TOWARDS HIM and he planned to kill, but Ibn Abbas dissuaded him from doing it, saying to him: if you kill him, your supporters will part company with you, and since you are set resuming war with the Syrians, you will have to honor your men. Since HE FEARED THE SEDITION WHICH IBN ABBAS FORESAW AS A RESULT OF HIS AND IBN SABA’S EXECUTION HE BANISHED THE TWO INTO AL-MADAIN.” (Moslem Schisms And Sects (Al-Fark Bain al-Firak) Being the History of The Various Philosophic Systems Developed In Islam by Abu Mansur Abd-al-Kahir Ibn Tahir al-Baghdadi (d. 1037) [Tel Aviv: Palestine Publishing Co., Ltd., Porcupine Press, Philadelphia, 1978 – Translated from the Arabic with introduction and notes by Abraham S. Halkin] Part 2 (Vol. 2) page 44)


“Suwayd Ibn Ghaflah said: ‘I entered on Ali ibn abi Talib during his emirate and said: ‘I passed by some folks who were talking about Abu Bakr and Umar and saying that YOU HAVE A DEEP HATRED FOR BOTH OF THEM, one of those folks ABDULLAH IBN SABA, Ali Said: ‘do not understand this wicked man (Ibn Saba), I seek refuge in Allah from this matter and I only have deep beautiful respect for them. Then he sent after Ibn Saba and exiled him to al-Madaen, Yemen and said: ‘He will not live in the same land with me.’ He then went to his Mimbar and when the people gathered he complimented both of them and said nothing but good things about them. Then he said: #If it reaches me that anyone prefers me over them (Shaykhayn) then I shall lash them as they do with the slandering liar.” (The Virtues of Ali ibn Abi Talib [Jawahir Media, 2015] by Luqman al-Andalusi, volume 1, page 144- 145)

If the above instances are correct, that is, that they happened on the same occasion of those who proclaimed Ali to be divine, then this would mean that their devotion and exalting Ali alone did not result in their killing by Ali. Rather it was combination of disbelief and an act of rebellion, and sowing disunity in the community.

From the above narrations and the previous ones it shows that exaltation of Ali, giving Divine qualities was not the only factor in which he killed them. It seems that the exaltation, sowing discord, showing hatred towards Abu Bakr, Umar Ibn al-Khattab may have been another factor which led to some of the being killed and others being exiled.

Ibn Taymiyya (1263 – 1328 CE) states that this group had immense “hatred of the people of Islam”:

“Al-Sha’bi stated: Beware of the people of these misleading beliefs, the worst of them being the Rafida. They did not enter Islam of their own desire, nor out of fear [of God], but rather out of HATRED OF THE PEOPLE ISLAM, to commit outrages against them. Ali Ibn Abi Talib burnt them and bainished them to the far countries. Of them was AbdAllah Ibn Saba, a Jew from among the Jews of Sana [who was] banished to Sabit, and AbdAllah Ibn Yasar [who was also] banished to Khazar, which events support that the REBELLION…” (Ibn Taymiyyah, Kitab al-Minjah al-Sunnah al-Nabawiyya fi Naqd al-Kalam al-Sia wa-l-Qadariyya [Cairo, 1321], page 6 – 9)

Ibn Taimiyyah confirms that these people showed open hatred towards the companions of the Prophet (p). In his words, they started “disparaging the Sahabah”:

“the first one to START DISPARAGING THE SAHABAH and who introduced the doctrine of wilayah was a hypocrite and a zindiq who intended to corrode Islam from within. He wished to scheme as Baulus (Paul) had schemed against Christianity. Prophet Jesus was raised to the heavens, and there were a precious few who followed his teachings. His teachings thus weakened the fabric of Christianity and many started adopting his exaggerated notions and many kings were won over to their side. When their scholars tried to oppose them, they were killed, some were exiled, while some were confined to life-long sentences in remote monasteries. On the other hand, this ummah will always have a group of staunch followers who will uphold the truth. No corrupt person will be able to destroy Islam, he will only gain some followers.” (Ibn Taymiyyah, Minhaj al-Sunnah, volume 3, page 261)

Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (1372 – 1449 CE) throws more light on the dialogue between Ali and ibn Saba on this occasion:

“Abul Ijlas says that I heard Ali telling Abdullah ibn Saba: “By Allah, I have not hidden any secret from anyone which the Holy Prophet told me. I heard the Holy Prophet saying that there would appear thirty liars before the last day, and you are one of them.” Once Suwaid ibn Ghafalah visited Ali during his reign and told him that he had passed a few people amongst whom was IBN SABA SPEAKING ILL OF ABU BAKR. They claimed that you also held the same opinion.” Ali retorted: “I have nothing to do with this creature. I seek refuge from Allah that I hold any opinion other than the best for Abu Bakr and `Umar.” He then EXILED IBN SABA saying that he could not tolerate to live with him in one city. Ali then ascended the pulpit, and after relating the story said: “I will lash anyone who prefers me over Abu Bakr and Umar, the lashing of a slanderer.” (Lisan al-Mizan, Ibn Hajar, volume 3, page 290)

Ibn Asakir (1106 – 1175 CE) also confirms this account:

“The first to begin fabricating narrations was Abdullah ibn Sabaʼ. He would ascribe falsehood to Allah and Messenger. Ali I would say, ‘What relation do I have with this wicked man (Ibn Sabaʼ).’ He would speak ill of Abu Bakr and Umar I as well. … I swear by Allah, he cannot live in the same city as me. Ali exiled him to Al-Madaʼin.” (Ibn Asakir, Tarikh Damashq, Tahdhib Tarikh Damashq, volume 7, page 430)

It seems Ali was not the only one who exiled Ibn Saba out of their community. Ibn Saba was bent on disuniting the Muslims and attempting to cause internal conflict among the Muslims:

“Ibn al-Sawda (Abdullah Ibn Saba) converted to Islam in the reign of Uthman Ibn Affan. He tried to deceive people, but was unable to deceive the people of Makkah and Madinah. Then he went to Basra and settled among the Abd al-Qays and became influential among the people. Ibn Amir heard of this and exiled him, and he came to Kufa in the eighth year. He settled among the Abd al-Qays, and a group of those whom Sa’d removed from authority because loyal to him. Al-Ashtar, Abu Zaynab and Abu Muwari and that group came to them. Sa’d sent for (Ibn Saba) and said to him, ‘what is this that has reached me? That you are spreading Hadith and reading, ‘We decreed to the children of Israel in the book, ‘Verily you shall spread corruption in the Earth two times’, and it is they are the ones who have twice spread corruption on the Earth!’ (Ibn Saba) said, we are more knowledgable of the Hadith on the children of Israel than you all!’ ‘He speaks the truth! Those with him said. Sa’d said, ‘he lies and you lie. By Allah if I had not been ordered to hold back from you, you people would have found me quite severe against you all. SA’D EXILED (Ibn Saba), and the people aided him in this. So (Ibn Saba) left to Syria, but he unable to accomplish anything that he wished there. He then went to Egypt, and his companions became many there. He corresponded with his brothers from the garrison cities through letters and aided them in their aims, and thus HE WAS THE FIRST TO DISPATCH PROPAGANDISTS AMONG THE COMMUNITY, INVITING PEOPLE TO REBEL.” (Kitab al-Ridda wa’l-Futuh, Saif Bin Umar al-Tamimi, volume 1, page 55)

This is also reported here:

“Ibn Saba started off in Basrah where he propagated his wicked mission among all groups of people. Among his sayings which constitute the basis of his mission are: ‘Each Prophet has Wasiyy (a nominated successor) and Ali is the successor nominated by Muhammad, so who, then does more wrong than one who does not abide by the nomination of the Prophet?’ And Uthmaan illegitimately seized it (the Caliphate), so you should revolt against this, starting by laying accusations against your leaders and pretending that you are enjoining good and forbidding evil.’ Ibn Saba also attacked the great companions; he was the first to accuse Abu Bakr and Umar and degrade them. Yet, Ali dissociated himself from Ibn Saba and accused him of lying against Allah and His Messenger.
Ibn Saba, however, continued his deviate claims to the extent that he claimed, ‘It is strange for one to believe that Jesus will descend and deny that Muhammad will return.’ Deceiving people by searching for proof (for his claims) in Allah’ saying,
‘Verily He Who ordained the Qur’an for thee, will bring thee back to the Place of Return.’ (Al-Qassas: 85)
Once the governor of Basrah knew about his claims, he dismissed him. Ibn Saba therefore headed for Kufah where he resumed his destructive activity. Yet, soon the Kufah’s governor dismissed him, too. He next went to Syria. By that time, he already poisoned the atmosphere in Iraq spreading such evil thoughts that deeply affected many people whose faith was still frail even though they were Muslims. In Syria, Ibn Saba could hardly do anything. That was because Syria was under a strong, intelligent and far-sighted governor, namely Mu’awiyah Ibn Abi Sufyaan. Ibn Saba continued his devilish journey to Egypt where he found a fertile soil for his lies. There he incited the public against the Caliph and aroused bitter feelings in their breasts against him. The absence of Egypt’s governor Abdullaah Ibn Sa’d Ibn Abi Sarh, who was preoccupied with fighting the Romans and the people of Nubia, made his task in Egypt an easy one.” (Biographies of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs: Prepared from the works of Ibn Katheer, At-Tabari, As-Syooti, and other historians [Prepared and translated by Tamir Abu As-Su’ood Muhammad, Noha Kamal Ed-Din Abu Al-Yazid, Revised and Edited by: M. Ibrahim Kamara, Joanne McEwan, Dar Al-Manarah, First edition, Safar 1422 – May 2001], page 305 – 306)

In Ta’rikh al-rusul wa’l muluk – Muhammed Ibn Jarir al-Tabari (838 – 923 CE) gives this account also:

“(Azid al-Faq’asi) says: This gained the approval [of his listeners], and so he fabricated for them [the notion of] the Return [raj’ah], and they discussed it among themselves. Later on, (Ibn Saba) said to them, ‘every Prophet has an executor (wasi) and Ali was the executor of Muhammad.’ He continued, ‘Muhammed is the seal of the Prophets, and Ali is the seal of the executors.’ Then after that he said, ‘Who commits a greater wrong than a man who has not carried out the testament of the Messenger of God, and who has usurped power over the Community?’ Then he told them, ‘Verily ‘Uthman has taken it without right, while this one [that is, Ali] is the executor of the Messenger of God. Therefore champion this cause and set it going. Begin by censuring your governors (umara). Proclaim publicly the commanding of good and the forbidding of evil, and you will win over the people. Summon them to this cause. ’Then he dispersed his agents (du’at) and wrote to those whom he had corrupted in the garrison town s. They returned his correspondence and secretly preached notions [to others]. In public they proclaimed the commanding of good and the forbidding of evil. They began sending letters to the garrison twons, filling them with censure of their rulers, while their brethren would write back to them in similar terms. Among [these dissidents] the inhabitants of each garrison town would write about their activities to another garrison town. Those involved would read this aloud in their various garrison towns, until finally they extended this [agitation] to Medina and spread his message throughout the earth. Their real aim was different from the one that they proclaimed in public, and what they kept secret was different from that which they presented openly. Thus, the inhabitants of every garrison town were saying, ‘We are secure from the trials of everyone except the Medinese.’ As the latter became aware of [the agitation] in all the garrison towns, they said, ‘We are secure from the situation facing the people.’” (The History Of al-Tabari (Ta’rikh al-rusul wa’l muluk – The Crisis of the Early Caliphate, translated and annotated by R. Stephen Humphreys (University of Wisconsin, Madison) [1990, State University of New York – Bibliotheca Persica, edited by Ehsan Yar-Shater] Volume XV (Volume 15), page 146)

Ibn Saba and his followers intentions was also to murder the Muslim leader at the time, Uthman Ibn Affan. This happened just before Ali’s incident:

“a group of those who were hostile to Uthmaan from Kufah, Basrah and Egypt reached Madeenah for secretly-contrivedconspiracy. They explained their plan saying: ‘We want to mention to the caliph certain ideas which we indoctrinate people to believe. We will then return to the people and claim that he admitted them, and did not give them up or repent. Next we will dress as pilgrims, besiege him and depose him. If he refuses, we will kill him.’ That was the exact scenario that took place.” (Biographies of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs: Prepared from the works of Ibn Katheer, At-Tabari, As-Syooti, and other historians [Prepared and translated by Tamir Abu As-Su’ood Muhammad, Noha Kamal Ed-Din Abu Al-Yazid, Revised and Edited by: M. Ibrahim Kamara, Joanne McEwan, Dar Al-Manarah, First edition, Safar 1422 – May 2001], page 308)

Uthman and his people were aware that Saba’s followers were trying to murder him:

“When the governors returned [from their meeting in Mecca], the sect of Ibn Saba (al-Saba’iyyah) had no way to get to the garrison towns. They wrote their adherents in the garrison towns that they should assemble in Medina in order to decide what they meant to do. They pretended that they were simply ‘commanding the good’ and interrogating Uthman about certain issues. Their aim was for these to circulate among the people and become verified against him. Thus, they assembled in Medina, and as his envoys Uthman sent two men one from the clan of Makhzum and the other from the clan of Zuhr. He said, ‘Find out what they mean to do and learn all about them.’ These two men were among those who had won Uthman’s respect by their refined behaviour (adab); they patiently sought the truth and harboured no malevolence. When (the dissidents) saw them, they revealed their secrets to them and informed them of their aims. (Uthman’s two envoys said, ‘Who among the Medinese supports you against this man [namely, Uthman]? ‘Three persons,’ they answered. The two men said, ‘Is there anyone else?’ No,’ they said. The two (envoys went on, ‘So what do you intend to do?’ They replied, ‘We want to mention to [Uthman] certain misdeeds that we have planted in the hearts of the people. Afterwards we shall go back to them and claim that we compelled him to confess these things, but that he did not abandon them or repent. Then we will set out in the guise of pilgrims until we reach [Medina]. We will surround him and depose him, and if he refuses we will kill him.’ And so it happened.” (The History Of al-Tabari (Ta’rikh al-rusul wa’l muluk – The Crisis of the Early Caliphate, translated and annotated by R. Stephen Humphreys (University of Wisconsin, Madison) [1990, State University of New York – Bibliotheca Persica, edited by Ehsan Yar-Shater] Volume XV (Volume 15), page 154 – 155)

A number of facts we can gather so far about this group that were killed:

1. This group believed that Ali was a “God”.
2. Their leader and his followers had deep hatred towards Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman Ibn Affan.
3. They sowed hatred in the society.
4. Some were killed and others exiled for having heretical beliefs and sowing discord in the community.

A careful examination of these sources reveal that both the heretical beliefs being espoused, sowing discord, and showing hatred towards Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman happened at the same time.

We may suppose, that the heretical beliefs and spreading hatred, sowing discord in the community was one of the several reasons why Ali killed them, 1400 years ago.

3. Evidence: Ali Did Not Burn Saba’s Followers Alive

Some may ask about the method of which Ali, punished those of the followers of Ibn Saba. There are few views espoused in regards to this case:

(1) There is the apparent statement in the Hadith that Ali burned them.
(2) Smoke choked them out, the fire did not touch them.
(3) There is also the view that he killed them and then threw the dead bodies in fire.

Let’s look at the three views and conclude what may have occurred historically speaking.

The first view that is held among scholars is that Ali Ibn Abi Talib did not know the prohibition of fire. Since he didn’t know the ruling then he is not to be blamed for doing something that was against Prophet Muhammed (p). I will elaborate further later why this may be not the case. For the first case, evidence is presented where Ali admits to doing something that is not Islamic. He owns up to it and says that Ibn Abbas’s opinion in regards to the prohibition of burning is the truth.

The issue arises here is that some of those scholars do not give the extra historical understanding surrounding the Hadith reports. The apparent reading of the Hadith suggests that Ali may have burned them alive. But when the other many reports are seen for the same event, this is not the case. When one reads a report or a Quranic verse without having the historical understanding, when and why the statement was made, people tend to make mistakes. This is what happens when one takes a snippet quote from a Hadith book and make general statement and thus giving an understanding that is not in line of the historical incident.

The second view is that Ali did not burn them but rather he smoked them i.e., the smoke that they were inhaling killed them, not the fire. [4]

The third view, they were killed first and then thrown in the fire. The persons Ali Ibn Abi Talib killed were long dead when their bodies were thrown in the fire. The 14th century scholar Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (1335 – 1393 CE) refers to this view that they were not put in the flame while they were alive. They were killed and then their dead bodies were burned:

“Someone else said that he killed them and then burnt them…” (The Compendium Of Knowledge And Wisdom (“Jami’al –Ulum Wal – Hikam”) – Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali [Translated by Abdassamad Clarke – Turath Publishing, 1428/2007], page 250) [5]

The 11th century scholar Ibn Abd al-Barr (978 – 1071 CE) states that they were dead long before the bodies were thrown in the fire:

“We have related, in various versions, the account according to which Ali only burned these people after putting them to death.” (Al-Tamhid, by Ibn Abd al-Barr, volume 5, page 317)

It seems Ali Ibn Abi Talib did not want to bury these individuals, hence he decided that they be thrown in the fire. This is incident is also reported in a number of Hadith.

In Muʿjam al-Ausaṭ – Tabarani (873 – 918 CE) reports this incident and states:

“Suwayd bin Ghaflah bin Awsajah narrates that, Ali learnt of a group who had left Islam and he summoned them before him. He fed them and invited them to return to Islam but they refused. He had a trench dug and brought them forward, he then severed their heads and threw them inside. He ordered wood to be thrown on top of their bodies and they were all burnt. He then said: “Allah and His Rasul have spoken the truth.” (Fatḥ al-Bari, by Ibn Hajar volume 12, page 270)

Abu Bakr al-Ajurri (877 – 970 CE):

“Abu Bakr Abdullah b. Muhammad b. Abd al-Hamid Al-Wasiti narrated to us, he said: Fadl b. Sahl Al-‘Araj narrated to us, he said: Shabab b. Sawwar narrated to us, he said: Kharija b. Mus’ab, from Salam b. Abi Al-Qasim, from ‘Usman b. Abi ‘Usman said: “Some people from among the Shi’ah came to ‘Ali b. Abi Talib (r.a.), they said: “O’ Amir Al-Mu’mineen, who are you?” ‘Ali (r.a.) said: “Who am I?” They said: “He” ‘Ali (r.a.) said: “Woe to you, Who am I?” They said: “You are our Lord” Ali (r.a.) said: “Return and repent”, but they refused and he struck their necks then made furrows in the ground, then said: “O Qambar bring me firmly firewood، Qambar came with the firewood and ‘Ali burnt them with fire.” (Kitab Al-Shari’ah, Abu Bakr al-Ajurri, volume 5, page 2521; quoted in Fath al-Bari by Ibn Hajar, volume 12, page 271)

al-Tabari (838 – 923 CE) in Tahdhib al-Aathar reports:

“Narrated by Abu al-Tufayl: A group of zindiqs were brought in front of `Ali and they said: ‘You are He’ (anta Hu). He said: ‘Who am I?’ They said, ‘You are He.’ He said: ‘A curse upon you! Who am I?’ They said: ‘You are their Lord’ (anta rabbuhum). Ali said, ‘The people of Ibrahim became angered for their gods, so they decided to burn Ibrahim with fire; we have greater right to become angry for our Lord.’ Then he called Qanbar who beheaded them, after which he dug pits in which he stoked a fire and threw them in.” (al-Tabari in Tahdhib al-Aathaar – Musnad of Ali Ibn Abi Talib page 82 nos. 147-148)

In this report it is said that the incident may have took place in Yemen:

“Narrated from Abu Raja’, Some people from the Yemenis reneged from Islam in the time of Ali Ibn Abi Talib, whereupon Ali sent Jariya b. Qudama and he sent an army with him. I was part of that army. He marched and when he reached the gorges of Adiy and Taym, he decided to go faster, so he left men behind and he left me behind as well, and marched faster. When he reached the locality he gathered those who had apostatized from Islam, beheaded them and burnt their bodies with fire. Thus had Ali commanded him to do.” (al-Tabari in Tahdhib al-Aathaar – Musnad of Ali Ibn Abi Talib page 80, no. 142) [6]

Al-Tamhid – Ibn Abd al-Barr (978 – 1071 CE):

“Some Shiites came to Ali and declared O Commander of the Faithful, you are He.’ Who am I?’ he asked.‘You are He,’ they replied, ‘Woe be to you! Who am I? he said. You are our Lord.’ ‘Woe be to you! Take back what you just said and repent.’ However, they refused, so he beheaded them. Then he said, Qunbur, bring me bundles of firewood.’ He then dug a trench for them in the ground and burned them in the fire, after which he recited the verse, ‘When I set my eyes…’” (Al-Tamhid, by Ibn Abd al-Barr, volume 5, page 317) [7]

The unintentional mistake of a narrator not to tell the whole story (or he may not have received the whole story), that they were dead already caused confusion among some later scholars on this incident.

When everything is taken in context, one would see that the narrator may have transmitted the incident to the listeners about the dead individuals burning without mentioning the part that they were killed long before that. Hence, later readers construed the idea that Ali killed the individuals with fire alone. When in reality they were dead already. Ali didn’t want to bury them hence he ordered that their bodies be burned.

4. The Prohibition Of Burning And Mutilation

The reports about Ali Ibn Abi Talib burning dead individuals for having heretic beliefs are contrary to Islamic rulings. The are clear-cut Prophetic statements that mutilating someone dead or burning a person is forbidden (haram). There are many authentic reports where the Prophet appointed his Sahaba for an expedition he would order them to fear God, not to mutilate dead bodies. In another narration the Prophet clearly prohibited his companions from burning:

“Chapter: Regarding The ABHORRANCE Of Burning The Enemy With Fire
No one punishes with fire except the Lord of the fire.” (Sunan Abi Dawud Book 14, Hadith 2667. Eng. Tran., Sahih Al-Albani, )

Al-Bayhaqi (994 – 1066 CE):

“Do not punish the creatures of God with the punishment of God” (al-Bayhaqi, Sunan al-Kubra, volume 8, page 195)

Imam Ahmad (780 -855 CE) narrates a Hadith where the Prophet (p) became angry upon hearing that some ants were burned:

“We were with the Prophet and we passed by a colony of ants which had been burned, and the Prophet became ANGRY and said, ‘It is not fitting for any man to punish with the punishment of Allah.” (Musnad Ahmad, volume 1, page 423) (The Compendium Of Knowledge And Wisdom (“Jami’al –Ulum Wal – Hikam”) – Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali, [Translated by Abdassamad Clarke – Turath Publishing, 1428/2007], page 252)

There is also the prohibition of disfigurement (mutilation). Burning is disfigurement, as such this is also Haram (forbidden):

“The Prophet forbade robbery (taking away what belongs to others without their permission), and also forbade mutilation (or maiming) of bodies.” (Sahih al-Bukhari volume 3, Book 43, Hadith 654 Eng. Tran., )

Muwatta Malik (711 -795 CE):

“…do not act treacherously. DO NOT MUTILATE and do not kill children.” (Muwatta Malik Book 21, Hadith 11 Eng. Tran.)

Sunan Abi Dawud (817 – 889 CE):

“(967)Chapter: Regarding The PROHIBITION OF MUTILATION
The Messenger of Allah used to exhort us to give alms (sadaqah) and FORBID US TO MUTILATE (a slain). I then came to Imran ibn Husayn and asked him. He said: The Messenger of Allah used to exhort us to give alms (sadaqah) and forbid us to mutilate (a slain).” (Sunan Abi Dawud Book 14, Hadith 2661. Eng. Tran., Sahih Al-Albani, )

Sunan an-Nasa’i (829 – 915 CE):

“The Messenger of Allah used to stress charity in his sermons, and PROHIBIT MUTILATION.” (Sunan an-Nasa’I, volume 5, Book 37, Hadith 4052. Eng. Tran., Sahih Darussalam, )

Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya – Ibn Kathir (1301 – 1373 CE):

“He then told Bilal to present him with the banner, and he did so. The Messenger of God (SAAS) praised God, spoke a prayer for himself and said, ‘Take it, Ibn ‘Awf. … DO NOT defraud or use deceit, mutilate, or kill children. This is God’s covenant and the way of your Prophet among you.’” (The Life Of The Prophet Muhammad (“Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya”), [Translated by Professor Trevor Le Gassick – Reviewed by Dr. Muneer Fareed – Garnet Publishing, The Center For Muslim Contribution To Civilization, 2000], by Ibn Kathir Volume IV (4), page 316)

Fawa’id – Zawa’id al-Ajza al-Manthurah:

“I was informed by Abu al-Hasan Ali Ibn al-Hasan Ibn Allan al-Hafiz on the authority of al-Mufaddal Ibn Muhammed al-Jundi… The Messenger of God PROHIBITED THE MUTILATION OF CORPSES.” (Fawa’id – Zawa’id al-Ajza al-Manthurah, by Al-Hafiz Tammam al-Razi, page 440) [8]

5. Did Ali Ibn Abi Talib Reject Ibn Abbas’s Opinion?

Some may point out to the few Hadith reports where the Arabic words seem to say that Ali disagreed with Ibn Abbas. It is assumed by some that what Ali did was actually something he endorsed and he rejected other companions’ opinions on this matter. In support of critics defence they point out to the following Arabic words “وَيْحَ ابْنَ عَبَّاسٍ” in this report:

“Wayh Ibn Abbas!”
“Woe To Ibn Abbas” (Sunan Abi Dawud (4351) Book 40, Hadith 1. Arabic. Sahih Al-Albani)

The words are slightly different in al-Bayhaqi’s report:

“‘Woe to Ibn Umm al-Fadl (that is, Ibn Abbas)!” (Sunan al-Kubra, al-Bayhaqi, volume 8, page 202) [9]

From the above reports it is claimed that Ali, here, disagreed and rejected Ibn Abbas’s opinion since the words are evident. This claim is not based on clear textual evidence but rather on pure speculation. [10] [11]

A report by Al-Bayhaqi on this incident tells us why Ali objected to Ibn Abbas:

“We were informed by Sulayman Ibn Harb… ‘’When news of what Ibn Abbas had said reached Ali, he said, ‘Woe to Ibn Umm al-Fadl (that is, Ibn Abbas)! He is keen to point out [other people’s] MISTAKES.” (Sunan al-Kubra, al-Bayhaqi, volume 8, page 202)

This is also confirmed in Bidayah Wa Nihayah by Ibn Kathir (1301 – 1373 CE):

“News of what Ibn Abbas said reached Ali, he said, ‘Woe to Ibn Umm al-Fadl (that is, Ibn Abbas)!
‘He is keen to discuss (other people’s) IMPERFECTIONS‘.” (Bidayah Wa Nihayah, Ibn Kathir, volume 8, page 331, source)

We see from the above reports that the objection on Ali’s part was not that he rejected Ibn Abbas’s opinion, but rather he was annoyed for Ibn Abbas publicly rebuked him for what he had done to the dead bodies. The most that could be said in regards to the words used is that Ali objected to the way Ibn Abbas expressed himself in public to him.

In fact, in the following Hadith it is clearly demonstrated that Ali agreed with Ibn Abbas’s opinion:

“I would not have burned them because the Messenger of Allah said: ‘Do not punish with the punishment of Allah.’ So this reached ‘Ali, and he said: “IBN ABBAS HAS TOLD THE TRUTH.” (Jami at-Tirmidhi volume 3, Book 15, Hadith 1458. Eng. Tran., Sahih Darussalam, )

Sunan Abi Dawud:

“When ‘Ali was informed about it he said: HOW TRULY IBN ABBAS SAID!” (Sunan Abi Dawud Book 39, Hadith 4337. Eng. Tran., Sahih Al-Albani, )

In the above reports it is clear that Ali agrees with Ibn Abbas that he is telling the truth on this matter. Ali Ibn Abi Talib admits that he was “wrong” for burning the dead bodies. [12] Ali admits that Ibn Abbas’s opinion and his understanding was truthful. Ali’s order of burning the dead bodies was carried out in a state of anger what these people had done. [13] When he calmed down and Ibn Abbas confronted him about it, he acknowledged that he did wrong. [14]

It is clear that Ali acknowledged that burning dead persons was not permissible in Islam.

6. Conclusion

Having analysed the oft quoted Hadith reports that some people were killed due to them leaving Islam, we looked at the report when it was said it showed that the people were Muslims in the sense that they did not reject Islam nor the Prophet (p). As such, the extra historical sources in relation to the incident revealed that these people were killed as a result of many reasons. One of those were that they held Ali Ibn Abi Talib to be “God”, they gave him Divine qualities. Other sources also seem to reveal further evidence that these group of people were sowing hatred, disparaging the Companions. Causing internal conflict among the Muslims. Just before Ali Ibn Abi Talib’s incident they also attempted to overthrow and murder the Muslim leader at the time, Uthman Ibn Affan. And they succeeded in the latter. [15] [16] [17] [18]

We also looked in the surrounding sources on the method of killing. After a careful examination of this incident it is clear that Ali Ibn Abi Talib did not burn anyone alive. The historical reports revealed that Ali killed them. He did not want to bury them, hence he decided to burn their bodies. For this, Ibn Abbas rebuked Ali, as there is a clear prohibition against this by the Prophet Muhammed (p). Ali agreed that he was wrong for what he did and acknowledged his mistake. [19]

Thus, we have consulted all the evidences, by doing this, we have learned the correct Islamic ruling that on burning of human, that it is haram (forbidden). That is, it is prohibited in Islam. In fact, past Islamic scholars abhorred such actions. We have seen the Islamic sources, that Prophet Muhammed prohibited the burning of people. Ibn Abbas’s opinion on this matter was the correct one, the same one which the Prophet (p) himself espoused throughout his life.

Don’t forget to follow Discover The Truth on Facebook and TwitterPLEASE help spread the word by sharing our articles on your favourite social networks.

Related articles:

(1) – “‘Those Who Wage War And Make Mischief’ – Quran 5:33” (Ukil & Urayna)

(2) – “Baseless Story Of Kinana Ibn Al-Rabi – Treasure?”

(3) – “Hadith Without Context Is Meaningless: Abu Bakr’s ‘Apostasy’ Wars”

(4) – “Revisiting Abu Bakr’s Conversation With Umar And The Delegation(s): Ridda Wars”

(5) – “The Hadith ‘…Fight Until They Say There Is No god But Allah’ Explained”


[1] It is claimed that Abdullah Ibn Saba only outwardly confessed Islam. In reality he was not a Muslim, as it is reported by some historians:
“…Ibn Saba was said to be a (former) Jew, ‘Outwardly confessing Islam in order to beguile its adherents. Ibn Hazm, Kitab al-Milal wa’;-Nihal…” (Moslem Schisms And Sects (Al-Fark Bain al-Firak) Being The History Of Various Philosophic Systems Developed In Islam by Abu Mansur Abd-al-Kahir Ibn-Tahir al-Baghdadi (d. 1037) [Translated From The Arabic by Kate Chambers Seelye, PH.D – New York: Columbia University Press, 1920] Part 1 (Vol. 1) page 34)
[2] “Abu Assim Khushaysh ibn Asram (d. 253 AH) narrated a report about Ali burning some of the companions of Ibn Saba…” (The Biography of Uthman Ibn Affan – Dhun-Noorayn [Darussalam, Translated by Nasir Khattab, edited by Hoda Khattab] by Dr. Ali Muhammad as-Sallabi, page 480)
[3] They continued with their heretical beliefs even after the demise of Ali Ibn Abi Talib:
“Some of the Sabbabiyya believe that Ali is in the clouds, that the thunder is his voice, and the lightning his whip. Whenever anyone of them hears the sound of thunder he says: Peace be upon you, O Prince of the Faithful! It is told in the name of Amir Ibn Shurahil al-Sha’bi that when Ibn was told: Behold, Ali was killed, he replied: Even if you bring us his brain in a bag we shall not admit the truth of his death, for he shall not die until he descends from heaven and rules over the world. …” (Moslem Schisms And Sects (Al-Fark Bain al-Firak) Being the History of The Various Philosophic Systems Developed In Islam by Abu Mansur Abd-al-Kahir Ibn Tahir al-Baghdadi (d. 1037) [Tel Aviv: Palestine Publishing Co., Ltd., Porcupine Press, Philadelphia, 1978 – Translated from the Arabic with introduction and notes by Abraham S. Halkin] Part 2 (Vol. 2) page 42 – 43)
[4] This act is totally forbidden. Ali would never do this. The Prophet got angry ones when some animals were confined without them being able to move. Ali Ibn Abi Talib would never do this. The other majority of reports show that only their dead bodies were burnt. The incident of smoke is told in the following book, The Compendium Of Knowledge And Wisdom (“Jami’al –Ulum Wal – Hikam”) – Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali [Translated by Abdassamad Clarke – Turath Publishing, 1428/2007], page 250)
[5] Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali commented on his own report and said, “but that is not a sound narration”. This may be due to him having one with a weak chain. However, this incident is reported by many other scholars with Hasan (good) and Sahih chains.  The Compendium Of Knowledge And Wisdom (“Jami’al –Ulum Wal – Hikam”) – Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali [Translated by Abdassamad Clarke – Turath Publishing, 1428/2007], page 250)
[6] The two reports of Musnad of Ali Ibn Abi Talib, were taken from an article by Shaykh Gibril Fouad Haddad, (Last accessed 9th March 2017),
[7] Ibn Abd al-Barr’s report was cited by the late scholar Taha Jabir al-Alalwani (1935 – 2016), May Allah be pleased with him and grant him Jannah, ameen. The Book, Apostasy in Islam: A Historical and Scriptural Analysis [Translated by Nancy Roberts – The International Institute Of Islamic Thought, 1432AH/2011CE] by Taha Jabir Alalwani, page 86 – 87)
[8] Apostasy in Islam: A Historical and Scriptural Analysis [Translated by Nancy Roberts – The International Institute Of Islamic Thought, 1432AH/2011CE] by Taha Jabir Alalwani, page 82
[9] The Arabic words used for Ibn Abbas are: “وَيْحُ ابْنِ أُمِّ الْفَضْلِ” – “Wayh Umm Ibn Abbas” (Sunan al-Kubra, Al-Bayhaqi, volume 8, page 202)
[10] The best interpretation given is the report in Bayhaqi and Bidayah wa Nihayah. Scholars have in the past given their own explanations in regards to the words. An-Nassabah Abu Bakar Muhammad bin Musa Al-Hazimi Al-Hamadani states that one of possible interpretations in regards to this is:
“The possible meaning is ‘Woe to him for being right!’ The latter interpretation implies that “the Hadith had not reached him [`Ali] before”. (al-Hazimi, al-I`tibar fi bayan al-nasikh wal-mansukh min al-aathaar [Edition, 1940], page 195). [9]
[11] Muhammad Ibn Ali Ibn Adam al-Ethiopi states:
“It may be that he said it – i.e., when ‘Ali said ‘Woe to Ibn ‘Abbas!’ – by way of approving of what he said, and that Ibn Abbas remembered what Ali had forgotten.” (Dhakheerat al-‘Uqba fi Sharh al-Mujtaba, by Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Adam al-Ethiopi, volume 31, page 385)
[12] Shaykh Abdul-Azeez bin Baaz, (Last accessed 9th March 2017)
[13] Ali Ibn Abi Talib is considered to be the best “judge”. Hence, he most probably done it in a state of not knowing the ruling or state of anger:
“The Messenger of Allah said: The most merciful of my Ummah towards my Ummah is Abu Bakr; the one who adheres most sternly to the religion of Allah is ‘Umar; the most sincere of them in shyness and modesty is ‘Uthman; the best judge is ‘Ali bin Abu Talib…” (Sunan Ibn Majah volume 1, Book 1, Hadith 154. Eng. Tran., Sahih Darussalam, )
[14] Ali being the best judge is also reported by Umar Ibn al-Khattab, the second Caliph:
“Narrated Ibn Abbas: Umar said, “Our best Qur’an reciter is Ubai and our best judge is Ali…” (Sahih al-Bukhari  volume 6, Book 60. Eng. Tran., Hadith 8, )
[15] Some have claimed that Ibn Saba wasn’t killed because he didn’t come out publicly with his beliefs. This reports states otherwise (and there are many more similar to this):
“The Sabbabiyya are followers of Abdallah Ibn Saba who exaggerated with respect to Ali, maintaining that he was a Prophet. Then he exaggerated still further believing that he was a God. He spread propaganda for this belief among the erring Kufites. The story of this group was reported to Ali… HOWEVER, ALI FEARED TO BURN THE REST OF THEM LEST THE PEOPLE OF SYRIA REJOICE OVER HIS CALAMITIES AND, MOREOVER, HE DREADED THE OPPOSITION OF HIS ADHERENTS. SO HE BANISHED IBN SABA TO SABBAT-AL-MADAIN. When Ali was killed, Ibn Saba held that the slain one was not Ali but a devil who appeared to the people in the likeness of Ali. Ali himself ascended to heaven just as Isa Ibn Mariam had ascended there. He said: Just as the Jews and Christians lie in affirming the execution of Isa, so the Nasihs and Khawarij lie in alleging Ali’s assassination. However, the Jews and Christians saw a crucified person who they confused with Isa. Similarly those who affirm the killing of Ali saw a slain person who resembled him, so that they were of the opinion it was Ali. But Ali, in truth, ascended to heaven, and he will surely come down to earth and take revenge of his foes.” (Moslem Schisms And Sects (Al-Fark Bain al-Firak) Being the History of The Various Philosophic Systems Developed In Islam by Abu Mansur Abd-al-Kahir Ibn Tahir al-Baghdadi (d. 1037) [Tel Aviv: Palestine Publishing Co., Ltd., Porcupine Press, Philadelphia, 1978 – Translated from the Arabic with introduction and notes by Abraham S. Halkin] Part 2 (Vol. 2) page 41 – 42)
[16] Imam Ash-Shafa’i (767 – 820 CE) said:
“When the Muslims captured polytheists (enemies in war, warmongers) and want to kill them, they killed them by beheading, but they did NOT go beyond that. They did NOT mutilate them by cutting off hands or feet or any part of the body, or stabbing them in the stomach or burning or drowning or anything beyond what was described, because the Messenger of God forbade mutilation”. (Ali Ibn Abi Talib [Translated by Nasiruddin al-Khattab – International Islamic Publishing House], by Dr. Ali M. Sallabi, volume 1, page 570)
[17] al-Mawardi (972 – 1058 CE) states:
“burning any of them [the enemy] with fire either dead or alive is IMPERMISSIBLE.” (Al-Mawardi, Al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyyah, page 72)
[18] Abu Bakr al-Siddique’s ten commands to his army commander, which included:
“do not cut down fruit-bearing trees; do not destroy buildings; do not slaughter a sheep or a camel except for food; do not burn or drown palm trees” (al-Bayhaqi, Sunan al-Kubra, volume 9, page 85)
[19] Although some reports suggest that the incident of Ali Ibn Talib with Ibn Saba group happened in his reign. I believe, all these incidents happened in the reign of Uthman Ibn Affan. There are many reasons. But I will give few, there are many reports where Ali says he was against what the rebels did to Uthman. He goes further and states that he dissuaded and told them not to do anything to Uthman, but they didn’t listen to him. Furthermore, Ali Ibn Abi Talib had direct connection with the the leaders of that group. One of the main leaders was Abdullah Ibn Saba (Sawda). He was one of the main people who instigated attacks and was involved in the murder of Uthman Ibn Affan. For this reason, I find it inconceivable that Ali described as being the best judge by the Prophet (p), who stood up for the truth, and someone who loved all the companions would entertain murderers in his reign.

Explanation Of “Do Not Say ‘Salaam’ To Jews…” Hadith

Kaleef K. Karim

I have always advised Muslims and others that when you use a Hadith or a Quranic verse, you should know the historical background as why it was said and when it was revealed. If you do not know the very basics of when and why a verse of the Quran was revealed or why the Prophet (p) said a statement, don’t try give an explanation and lead  innocent people astray. Without its historical background one will at times give an interpretation that may be alien to the way it was understood when it was uttered. For example, the following Hadith is often quoted and twisted by individuals who want to paint the Islamic faith negatively:

“Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger as saying: Do not greet the Jews and the Christians before they greet you and when you meet any one of them on the roads force him to go to the narrowest part of it.” (Sahih Muslim Book 26, Hadith 5389. Eng. Tran., )


“Narrated Abu Hurairah: that the Messenger of Allah said: “Do not precede the Jews and the Christians with the Salam. And if one of you meets them in the path, then force them to its narrow portion.” (Jami at-Tirmidhi volume 5, Book 40, Hadith 2700. Eng. Tran., Sahih Darussalam, )

Just reading the above reports by itself may seem to give a reader an impression that the Prophet (p) discriminated against other religious groups. However, this is not the case when we consult historical sources on the same incident. This saying was uttered mainly against an enemy group who aimed to harm the Prophet (p) and the Muslims. There are two Hadith reports on this:

“It was narrated from Abu ‘Abdur-Rahman Al Juhani that the Messenger of Allah said: “I am riding to the Jews tomorrow. Do not initiate the greeting with them, and if they greet you, then say: Wa ‘alaikum (and also upon you)”. Sunan Ibn Majah volume 5, Book 33, Hadith 3699. Eng. Tran., Hasan Darussalam )

And here:

“Abu Basra al-Ghifari reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “I will ride to the Jews tomorrow. Do not give them the greeting first. If they greet you, then say, ‘and on you.’” (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad Book 44, Hadith 1102. Eng. Tran., Sahih Al-Albani, )

The part where it says, “I will ride to the Jews” or “I am riding to the Jews” indicates that the Prophet (p) was at war with this group of people in his time. There are two clear proofs from classical scholars that this statement was made in relation to war.

The 9th century Persian Islamic scholar Abu Isa Muḥammad ibn Isa as-Sulami ad-Darir al-Bughi at-Tirmidhi (824 – 892 CE) placed this Hadith in the category of “The Book on military expeditions” [1]:

(41)Chapter: What Has Been Related About Greeting The People Of The Book With Salam
Narrated Abu Hurairah:That the Messenger of Allah said: “Do not precede the Jews and the Christians with the Salam. And if one you meets one of them in the path, then force him to its narrow portion.” (Jami at-Tirmidhi volume 3, Book 19, Hadith 1602 Eng. Tran., Sahih Darussalam, 

The 14/15th century Shafi’I scholar Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (1372 – 1449 CE) placed this Hadith in the category of “The Book On Jihad”:

“Bulugh al-Maram – The Book on Jihad
Abu Hurairah (RAA) narrated that The Messenger of Allah said: “Do not start by saluting the Jews and the Christians (when you meet them), and if you meet any of them on the road, force him to go to the narrowest part of the road.” (Bulugh al-Maram Book 11, Hadith 1350. Eng. Tran., )

It is quite clear that among classical scholars of Islam, they deemed this Hadith report to be in relation to war only.

Who exactly was this group that the Prophet (p) and his companions were at war with? This saying was uttered on the occasion of the Banu Qurayza incident. The Prophet and his people were marching to the Banu Qurayza tribe. This tribe just had violated the peace treaty and attacked the Muslim community. They had violated the treated and helped the Quraysh in war against the Muslims, in the battle of Khandaq: “Battle Of The Trench (al-Khandaq – al-Ahzab)“

For more information on Banu Quraizah incident, see the following article please: “Re-Examining Banu Qurayzah Incident”

The medieval sunni scholar Imam Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (1292 – 1350 CE) states that the Hadith was uttered in relation to when the Muslims “went out to Banu Quraizah” [2]:

“Regarding His Guidance In Giving Salutations Of Peace To The People Of The Scripture
It has been authentically reported from the Prophet that he said:
‘Do not anticipate them in offering salutations of peace; and if you meet them in the road, force them to the narrowest part of it.’
However, it has been said: That was in special circumstances, when HE WENT OUT TO BANU QURAIZAH and he said: ‘Do not anticipate them in offering salutations of peace.’ ” (Provisions for the Hereafter (Zaad Al-Ma’ad) by Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah, page 211 – 212)

Contemporary Professor Said Fares Hassan comments on this particular Hadith and gives a plausible explanation(s) as why the Prophet uttered those words on that occasion:

“The Qur’an is the ultimate source, and the Sunnah runs in its orbit and does not depart from it. Therefore if the Qur’an states the principle of justice and righteousness in dealing with non-Muslims, then prophetic hadith such as ‘do not initiate peace greeting i.e., saying ‘peace be upon you,’ with the Jews and oblige them to take the side of the road’ should be reinterpreted in terms of the Qur’an and not otherwise. Such a statement should not be taken at its face value. The Sunnah has to be considered as an integral structure in its own right, however closely linked to the Qur’an as an elaboration of its values in a relative specific context. Based on the principle, the above hadith is applicable only in its specific context. It is reported that the Prophet instructed Muslims not to greet the Jews when he was heading to war against the Jewish community of BANU QURAYZAH for the breaching of their covenant with him. Muslims were advised not to greet them because if they exchange greetings, THIS WILL BE LIKE GIVING THE JEWS AN AMAN, THAT IS, CONCLUDING A PEACE TREATY, which is not desired in this specific situation. Against this specific incident, the Qur’an lays the general principle that ‘Allah does not forbid you to deal justly with those who fought not against you on account of religion nor drove you out of your homes’ (Qur’an 60:8). If one adds to this some other prophetic Hadiths that support the Qur’anic principle, one can conclude the inapplicability of the statement preventing the greeting of non-Muslims.” (Fiqh al-Aqalliyat – History, Development, and Progress [Palgrave Macmillan, 2013], by Said Fares Hassan, page 104)

This explanation offered by Professor Said Fares Hassan has also been given by other classical scholars in the past. The highly respected scholar Ishaq bin Rahwaih (777 – 852 CE) comments in relation to the report under discussion. He writes:

“إذا كانت حاجة إليه فلك أن تبدأه بالسلام، ومعنى قول النبي (لا تبدؤوهم بالسلام)لما خاف أن يدعوا ذلك أمانا وكان قد غدا إلى يهود
“If there is a need for it, then initiate the greeting. As for the meaning of the words of the Prophet “Do not greet them”, he said this out of fear that this might signify to them that they are safe, while he already marched against the Jews (Banu Qurayzah).” (Masaa’il al-Imam Ahmad wa Ishaq bin Rahwaih, volume 1, page 87)

When the historical context of the Hadith is taken into account, we see that the Prophet (p) said this statement in the time of war. Hence, the Hadith reports under discussion has been understood from the earliest of days of Islam as a safeguard not to give false hope to the enemy. For example, since the Prophet (p) and his companions were going out to battle against a treacherous group of people, they did not want to greet them since that would amount to giving them security. Hence, that would be considered treachery on their part if they did. Thus, the companions at the time were prohibited from greeting them.

Furthermore, to better explain what scholar Ishaq bin Rahwaih (777 – 852 CE) is saying, we have to look Islamic teachings and see how strict Islam is when it comes to treachery:

“Aman may be given by Muslims to non-Muslims and by non-Muslims to Muslims. At the time of ‘Umar, the second Caliph, during a war, a Persian soldier took shelter at the top of a tree. A Muslims soldier told him in Persian cum Arabic ‘matrasi’ (don’t be afraid). His adversary thought that he was given a pledge and protection and came down. Sadly, he was killed by the Muslim soldier. The matter was reported to the Caliph, who warned the commander, saying ‘As God is my witness, if I hear anyone has done this I shall cut his neck.”’ (Badruddin Ayni, Umdah Al-Qari Sharh Saheeh al-Bukhari, (Cairo Al-Taba Muneeriya, n.d.), volume 15, page 94) (The Concept Of Treaty In Relation To War And Peace In Islam, [Fikr-O-Nazar Urdu Journal (July-Sept 2009)], by Dr. Muhammad Munir, volume 47, No. 1, page 43 – 65)

And according to Shaybani (749 -805 CE):

“‘Umar wrote to his commander in Iraq that if anyone gave pledge to any enemy soldier buy sing, inter alia, the Persian words ‘matrasi’, then these words are binding.’ (Shaybani, Siyar al-Kabir, volume 1, page 199) (The Concept Of Treaty In Relation To War And Peace In Islam, [Fikr-O-Nazar Urdu Journal (July-Sept 2009)], by Dr. Muhammad Munir, volume 47, No. 1, page 43 – 65)

Muwatta Malik (711 -795 CE):

“…DO NOT ACT TREACHEROUSLY. Do not mutilate and do not kill children.” (Muwatta Malik Book 21, Hadith 11 Eng. Tran.)


“Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war, do not embezzle the spoils; DO NOT COMMIT TREACHERY; and do not mutilate (the dead) bodies; do not kill the children.” (Sahih Muslim Book 019, Number 4294)


In light of the context, the Prophet Muhammed (p) was worried that he was going to give the enemy a false sense of security by imitating greetings. If one is responsible in any way for providing the enemy a false sense of security and then you fight him, Islam considers this to be an act of treachery. That is the justice of Islam. And so the Prophet was just trying to be extra cautious in regards to this situation with the Banu Qurayza.

Don’t forget to follow Discover The Truth on Facebook and Twitter. PLEASE help spread the word by sharing our articles on your favourite social networks.

Related articles:

(1) – “‘Those Who Wage War And Make Mischief’ – Quran 5:33” (Ukil & Urayna)

(2) – “Baseless Story Of Kinana Ibn Al-Rabi – Treasure?”

(3) – “Hadith Without Context Is Meaningless: Abu Bakr’s ‘Apostasy’ Wars”

(4) – “Revisiting Abu Bakr’s Conversation With Umar And The Delegation(s): Ridda Wars”

(5) – “The Hadith ‘…Fight Until They Say There Is No god But Allah’ Explained”

(6) – “Early Expeditions And Battles Of Islam”

(7) – “Muhammed A Mercy: Analysing Dogs Killed In Madinah”

(8) – “What Happened To The Captive Women In Awtas Incident?”

(9) – “Most Misinterpreted Verses Of The Quran?”

(10) – “Did Jews Get Expelled From Arabia?”

(11) – “Ali Ibn Abi Talib Did Not Burn Apostates Alive – Historical Analysis”

[1] Commenting on this, classical scholar Abu Eisa stated that those people were at war with they should not be honored:
[He said:] There are narrations on this topic from Ibn ‘Umar, Anas, and Abu Basrah Al-Ghifari the Companion of the Prophet.
[Abu ‘Eisa said:] This Hadith is Hasan Sahih. And regarding the meaning of this Hadith: “Do not precede the Jews and the Christians”: Some of the people of knowledge said that it only means that it is disliked because it would be honoring them, and the Muslims were ordered to humiliate them. For this reason, when one of them is met on the path, then the path is not yielded for him, because doing so would amount to honoring them.” (Jami at-Tirmidhi volume 3, Book 19, Hadith 1602 Eng. Tran., Sahih Darussalam, )
[2] 14th century scholar Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (1335 – 1393 CE) comments in regards to treachery:
“…if he makes a contract he is treacherous and does not fulfil the contract. He says:
Fullfill your contracts. Contracts will be asked about.’ Surat al-Isra:34)
And he says:
‘Be true to Allah’s contract when you have agreed to it, and do not break your oaths once they are confirmed and you have made Allah your guarantee’ – Surat an-Nahl: 91
And he says:
‘Those who sell Allah’s contract and their own oaths for a party price, such people will have no portion in the akhirah and on the Day of Rising Allah will not speak to them or look at them or purify them. They will have a painful punishment.’ – (Surah Al Imran:77)
There is in the two Sahih books from Ibn Umar that the Prophet said, ‘For every treacherous one there is a banner on the Day of Rising by which he will be recognised.’
And in a version, ‘The treacherous one will have set up for him a standard on the Day of Rising, and it will be said, ‘This is the treachery of so-and-son! Al-Bukhari (3188) and Muslim (1735)
They both also narrated it in a hadith of Anas in the same sense.
Muslim narrated a hadith of Abu Sa’id that the Prophet said, ‘Every treacherous one will have a standard at his buttocks on the Day of Rising.’ Muslim (1738)
TREACHERY IS HARAM IN EVERY CONTRACT between Muslims and another, EVEN IF THE PERSON WITH WHOM THE CONTRACT IS MADE IS A KAFIR. For this reason there is in the hadith of Abdullah ibn Amr from the Prophet ‘Whoever kills a person whom he has an agreement without a just cause will not smell the gragrance of the Garden, and its fragrance can be experienced at a distance of forty years travel.’ Al-Bukhari narrated it. (Al-Bukhari (3166, 6914).
Allah, exalted is He, commands in His Book that we fulfil idolaters contracts if they undertake to fulfil their contracts and do not fail in them.” (“Jami’al –Ulum Wal – Hikam”) – Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali [Translated by Abdassamad Clarke – Turath Publishing, 1428/2007], page 744 – 745)

Tafsir On Quran 9:29 – Byzantine’s Tabuk

This article was originally published on the following website:

The site Religion Of Peace (TROP), the founder is Glen Roberts – this notorious Christian missionary has written an article in response to our piece on Quran 9:29 which can be see here: “Answering Jihad: ‘Fight Against Those Who Do Not Believe’ – Quran 9:29”

This missionary has been publishing anti-Muslim and Islam articles for many years pretending to be an “expert” on Islam. In reality he has no expertise in any field let alone when it comes to Islam. He is a fraud masquerading as an “expert”. The supposed article he wrote in response to ours – he made a lot of claims without evidence. Usually when a person does a rebuttal to another person, one would attach a URL link for people to read what the author is actually rebutting in order for readers to make their own conclusions. In an unusual turn Glen Roberts did not link our article for his viewers to read.

This article is in response to some of the claims he made. We will link Glen Roberts’ piece in reference section, so people can compare what we have written to his and make their own conclusions up on this matter. [1]

Glen Roberts begins by claiming that nowhere in the Quran is there any hint that the verse is referred to the Byzantine’s. He then goes on to say that the verse commanded early believers to fight people based on their belief alone as result of them following the Christian or Jewish faith. Then he makes the mistake as other missionaries do usually and writes:

“This is extremely important because the Quran is claimed by Muslims to be perfect and complete. Why would Allah neglect to mention an opposing army if it is critical to interpreting the passage? What’s worse is that instead of laying out the case for self-defense, Allah explicitly curses Jews and Christians in the next verse (9:30).”

There are a number of issues with this approach. The Christian missionary makes the same mistake as his other friends by saying the Quran is complete then there is no need for other outside Prophetic statements. The Quran is indeed complete. His misunderstanding, the verse of the Quran he refers to indirectly is in regards to Laws in the Quran. The Laws laid out in the Quran are very clear. This is how scholars have understood the verse he inferred. It has nothing to do with the verse we are speaking about. The Quran speaks about prayer and other ritualistic matters, but we don’t know how to carry them out in our day to day lives unless we approach the Hadith, the Prophetic statements on this.

Furthermore, Glen Roberts cherry picks what we can believe in and what we can’t. You do not have the authority to dictate what Muslims have believed in for 1400 years, and all of sudden claim that those outside sources of the Quran shouldn’t be relied on when it conveniently goes against your article.

The very same Quran tells us that the Prophet Muhammed (p) came to explain, elucidate and these are recorded in the Hadith:

“with manifest signs and with scriptures; and we have sent down the Reminder to thee too, that thou mayest EXPLAIN to men what has been sent down to them, and haply they may reflect.” – Quran 16:44 (Edward Henry Palmer Translation)

As for the claim to connect Surah 9:29 and verse 30 together, these two have no connections whatsoever. Let us explain: you should be aware that just because straight after 9:29 comes the cursing of a group of people who exalted Ezra that does not mean that the verses were revealed on the same occasion. For example, Surah 9:1 all the way to verse 24 was revealed in connection with the Quraysh polytheists, which was revealed over a year before surah 9:29 was revealed.

The discussion surrounding 9:29 and 9:30 refer to two completely different groups. While 9:29 was revealed on the occasion of Tabuk, that is in relation to Byzantine as one of the earliest scholar’s of Islam who met Muhammed’s companions report’s this to us. He very clearly states that this verse was revealed in relation to Tabuk, the Byzantine’s. Whereas S. 9:30 as the companions of Muhammed have said, the latter verse refers to a group of People who called Ezra the son of God in Madinah. Ibn Abbas (619 – 687 CE) the Prophet Muhammed’s companion states the following in relation to 9:30,

“Ibn Abbas states: Sallam b. Mishkam, Nu’man b. Abi awfa, shas b. Qays, and Malik al-sayf [Jews] came to the Prophet Muhammad (p) and said: ‘How can we follow you if you renounce that which came before you. You do not think that Ezra is the son of God?’ So Allah revealed to him the verse.” (Ezra (Uzayr) The ‘Son Of God’, online source, )

Now compare the above with Mujahid Ibn Jabr (645 – 722 CE) who met the companions of Prophet Muhammed, he states in his exegesis for 9:29 that the verse was revealed in connection to the Byzantine’s. The Tabuk expedition more specifically:

“Mujahid Said: ‘This was when Muhammad (p) ordered his companions for Ghazwah Tabook.’
حين أمر محمدٌ وأصحابه بغزوة تبوك (Tafsir al-Tabari, on Surah 9:29, online source, )

Many other classical scholars have said that Surah 9:29 was revealed in connection with Tabuk. Their names are, Hud b. Muhakkam Huwwariyy (9th century) [2], al-Tabari (838 – 923 CE) [3], Baghawi (1044 – 1122 AD), Ibn Kathir (1301 – 1373 AD), Al-Zurqani (1645 – 1710 CE).

When we look at the two verses in a historical perspective readers would be aware that the two verses have no connection to each other when they were revealed. Each verse dealt with separate incident’s on two different occasions. Missionaries like Glen and others make frequent mistakes in matters of the Quran, this is as a result of them never studying Islam in basic level or in University. This is one of the reasons why scholars dedicate years to study and learn the science of revelation i.e., occasions or circumstances of revelation (Asbab al-Nuzul). The Quran is not like any other scripture. Many verses were revealed on different occasions and therefore it is important to know when and why each verse was revealed. Without extensive studies of this field one will make mistakes and make up claims that is in not line with historical understanding of the verse(s).

As for the claim:

“The most obvious problem with this argument is that verse 9:29 bluntly says to fight Jews and Christians on the basis of their religious belief. … The enemy is defined simply as those who “believe not in Allah” nor acknowledge the superiority of Islam.”

Scholar Zakaria Bashier (b. 1940), who obtained his BA and M.litt. in Philosophy from the Universities of Khartoum, Sudan and Durham, UK respectively, and his PhD on Islamic Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh, USA, he has written an interesting and in-depth piece on the Arabic words used for Surah 9:29 alone. He states that the fact that they were called “Christians” and “Jews” and (1) did not believe in God (atheists), (2) they do not believe in the day of Judgement and (3) non-practicing – based on the Arabic words used he concludes that the verse cannot refer to all Christians and Jews in Arabia, because the Quran unequivocally states elsewhere that there are Christians who are believers in God and the Last Day. The scholar concludes and says based on the Arabic words used in the verse, that it refers to a specific group only, not all Christians and Jews. For a detailed analysis on the words, please see the following article by Scholar Zakaria Bashier: “Revisiting Quran 9:29 – Tabuk”

Roberts then makes a more outlandish and deceptive claim:

“Given that there is no textual context for self-defense in Sura 9, the next problem for apologists is that the historical record is not terribly cooperative either, even from Muslim sources. In the first place, there is no independent confirmation that there was ever a military advance at Tabuk on Muhammad’s tribe. In other words, there is not a shred of historical evidence that a Byzantine army had been assembled at that time, much less that it was attacking Muslims.”

You asserted that there is no independent outside non-Muslim sources on Tabuk and surrounding events. You may be right here. You should remember that as a Christian you don’t have one shred of independent evidence to corroborate that Jesus existed outside the New Testament. Have you got a source which says Jesus existed and did the things described in the New Testament by any contemporary person that lived at the time Jesus was alive? You don’t. You base your beliefs of Jesus on sources from within Christianity. Same goes with Islam, we base our evidence on our sources which have been accepted and authentic in Islam for over a 1000 years.

If you’re going with this line of thinking, then be consistent with your approach and accept also that there is no independent contemporary evidence that Jesus existed outside of the New Testament. Thus, you should reject your Christian beliefs because as per your logic, there is no “independent” source outside your NT. You won’t do that. So all we are asking of you is at least use the same measurement of approach to our scripture as you do to your own. Don’t be one-sided and biased.

You then moved on and claimed that there is no historical evidence, not even from Muslim sources of an impending army. Did you skip the number of early reports we cited in the article which clearly state that the Byzantine’s were trying to attack the Muslim community? Or did you wilfully make this claim up in order to deliberately mislead your readers not to see those facts presented? Is this why you didn’t provide a direct link to our article for your readers to read?

Let’s present some of the earliest sources on the Byzantine army’s attempt to attack the Muslim community. The following report from Sahih Muslim and other sources tell us that Byzantine army had already been encamped at Tabuk. The Hadith clearly mentions that the Prophet and the Muslims had to “confront a large army” of the Byzantine’s:

“…this is my story of remaining back from Allah’s Messenger on the occasion of the Battle of TABUK. Never did I possess means enough and (my circumstances) more favourable than at the occasion of this expedition. And, by Allah, I had never before this expedition simultaneously in my possession two rides. Allah’s Messenger set out for this expedition in extremely hot season; the journey was long and the land (which he and his army had to cover) was waterless and HE HAD TO CONFRONT A LARGE ARMY, so he informed the Muslims about the actual situation (they had to face), so that they should adequately equip themselves for this expedition, and he also told them the destination where he intended to go. …” (Sahih Muslim Book 37, Hadith 6670)

Riyad as-Salihin:

“…this is the account of my staying behind from the battle of TABUK. I never had better means and more favourable circumstances than at the time of this expedition. And by Allah, I had never before possessed two riding-camels as I did during the time of this expedition. Whenever Messenger of Allah decided to go on a campaign, he would not disclose his real destination till the last moment (of departure). But on this expedition, he set out in extremely hot weather; the journey was long and the terrain was waterless desert; and HE HAD TO FACE A STRONG ARMY, so he informed the Muslims about the actual position so that they should make full preparation for the campaign.” (Riyad as-Salihin Book 1, Hadith 21)

Mishkat Al-Masabih:

“To Tabuk. God’s messenger undertook it in extreme heat, facing a long journey, desert country and A NUMEROUS ENEMY. He made clear to the Muslims what they were about to do in order that they might get ready the equipment for their expedition, telling them where he was going.” (Mishkat Al-Masabih – English Translation With Explanatory Notes [Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, Publishers, Lahore, Pakistan., 1991] by James Robson, D. Litt., D.D. (Emeritus Professor Of Arabic, The University of Manchester), volume II (Vol. 2), page 836 (Chapter V))

One of the earliest sources on the Tabuk expedition is by Ibn Sa’d (784-845 CE), in his Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir he furnishes us with much detail surrounding this event. He states that reports had reached Prophet Muhammed (p) that the Byzantine (Romans) had “concentrated large forces” and Heracluis had sent some his military to ‘Balqa’. This is when the Muhammed (p) “summoned” his companions to Tabuk:

“They (narrators) saud: It (report) reached the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him, that the ROMANS HAD CONCENTRATED LARGE FORCES IN SYRIA had, that Heraclius had disbursed one year’s salary to his soldiers, and that tribes of Lakhm, Judham, ‘Amilah and Ghassan had joined hands with him. THEY SENT HAD SENT THEIR VANGUARDS TO AL-BALQA. THE MESSENGER of Allah, SUMMONED THE PEOPLE TO MARCH. He set out and informed them about the place which he intended, so that they could make necessary preparations. He sent (messengers) to Makkah and to the tribes of Arabia (asking them) to send help. This took place in the days of intense heat.” (Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, [Translated by S. Moinul Haq (New Delhi: Kitab Bhavan, 2009)], by Ibn Sa’d, volume 2, page 203-204)

This is also reported by the 9th Century historian Aḥmad Ibn Yaḥya al-Baladhuri (D. 892 CE), in his book ‘Kitab Futuh Al-Buldan’, he states in clear words that the Prophet (p) learned that the Byzantine army “had assembled against him”:

“Tabuk make terms. When in the year 9 AH the Prophet marched to TABUK in Syria for the invasion of those of the Greeks, Amilah, Lakhm, Judham and others WHOM HE LEARNT HAD ASSEMBLED AGAINST HIM, he met no resistance. So he spent a few days in Tabuk, whose inhabitants made terms with him agreeing to pay poll-tax.” (The origins of the Islamic State, being a translation from the Arabic accompanied with annotations Geographic and historic notes of the Kitab Futuh Al-Buldan of al-Imam Abu’l Abbas Ahmad Ibn Jabir Al Baladhuri, [Translated by Phillip Khurti Hitti, PHD, 1916], volume 1, page 92)

In the version that is narrated by Mu’jam Tabarani (873 – 918 CE), he states that Christians said it is a “appropriate time to attack the Arabs” (Muslims):

“The Battle Of Tabuk
Rajab 9 A. H.
On the authority of Imran Ibn Husayn that the Christian Arabs wrote to Hercules, the King Of Rome that Muhammad passed away and that the people were dying because of the drought that they were experiencing. It was therefore a very appropriate TIME TO ATTACK THE ARABS (MUSLIMS). Hercules immediately issued the order for preparations. A fully equipped army of 40 000 was prepared.” (Mu’jam az-Zawa’id, volume 6, page 191) (Siratul Mustafa [Translated by Maulana Mahomed Mahomedy – Madrasah Arabia Islamia and Zam Zam Publishers – Fifth Authorized Edition, 2015] by Hadrat Maulana Idris Sahib Kandehlawi, volume 3, page 96)

Muhammad al-Zurqani (1645 – 1710 CE) also reports the above accounts:

“It is related that the Prophet (p) received reports of the Byzantine military crossing on the northern frontiers of Arabia with the intend of MOUNTING AN ATTACK ON THE MUSLIMS. The Prophet was informed by some Nabataeans and others that Heraclius was stocking one year’s provisions for his army and drafting the pro-Byzantine tribes of Lakhm, Judham, Amla and GHASSAN under his banner, INTENDING TO COME UPON HIM and that his advance columns had already reached Balqa.” (A Commentary On Al-Mawahib, by Muhammad al-Zurqani,  volume 3, page 63 – 64)

It should be noted also that the Pro-Byzantine Ghassasnide (Ghassan) tribe which Ibn Sa’d and Zurqani already mentioned [4], few months before Tabuk expedition were attempting to attack the Muslim community. But the Muslims did not initiate any fighting. The Muslims only took action when the reports were confirmed as shown in the above accounts in relation to Tabuk expedition.

These are the sources that mention that Pro-Byzantine Ghassan tribe intended to attack. Sahih al-Bukhari reports:

“… I left her (and went home). At that time I had a friend from the Ansar who used to bring news (from the Prophet) in case of my absence, and I used to bring him the news if he was absent. In those days we were afraid of one of the kings of GHASSANID TRIBE. We heard that he INTENDED TO MOVE AND ATTACK US, so fear filled our hearts because of that. (One day) my Ansari friend unexpectedly knocked at my door, and said, “Open Open!’ I said, ‘Has the king of Ghassan come?’ He said, ‘No, but something worse; God’s Messenger has isolated himself from his wives.’ …” (Sahih al-Bukhari volume 6, Book 60, Hadith 435. Eng. Tran., )

Sahih Muslim:

“I had a friend from the Ansar. When I had been absent (from the company of the Prophet) he used to bring me the news and when he had been absent I used to bring him the news, and at that time we dreaded a KING OF GHASSAN. It was mentioned to us that he INTENDED TO ATTACK US, AND OUR MINDS WERE HAUNTED BY HIM. My friend, the Ansari, came to me, and he knocked at the door and said: Open it, open it. I said: Has the Ghassanid come? He said: (The matter is) more serious than that. The Messenger of Allah has separated himself from his wives. …” (Sahih Muslim Book 9, Hadith 3508. Eng Tran., )

Jami at-Tirmidhi:

“‘My house was in Al-Awali among those of Banu Umayya, and I had a neighbour among the Ansar, and he and I would take turns visiting the Messenger of God.’ He said: ‘One day I would visit him and bring the news of the Revelation, and one day he would visit him and bring the same. We heard that GHASSAN WERE PREPARING THEIR HORSES TO ATTACK US. He said: ‘One day he came to me in the evening and knocked on my door, so I went out to him. He said: “A horrible thing has happened.” I said: “Ghassan has come?” He said: “Worse than that. The Messenger of God has divorced his wives.’ … “(Jami at-Tirmidhi volume 5, Book 44, Hadith 3318. Eng. Tran., Sahih Darussalam,

Roberts also claims that the expedition was set out based on “rumours” and not factual evidence, then why did the Muslims few months before Tabuk expedition not set out against the pro-Byzantine the Ghassan tribe when the Muslims heard that they were advancing against them but the Muslims did not do anything but stayed, as shown in the above Hadith reports? For more information on the Ghassan incident see the following article please: “Byzantine’s, Tabuk Expedition And The Rumor Claim”

The fact of the matter is the Muslims only advanced months later when there was clear evidence of Byzantne’s impending army. Readers should also be aware that a year before this event the Ghasanide’s assassinated an envoy, a Messenger of Muhammed which led to the battle of Mut’ah: “The Battle Of Mu’tah (Mutah)”

So far, based on the earliest sources of Islam, we get a clear picture that the Byzantine’s did indeed concentrate large forces in order to overthrow and murder innocent Muslims.

Then author moves away this time claiming that what we used are “weak” sources:

“Even the more questionable sources do not say that there was a real army at Tabuk, just a possible rumor that one was being put together. [Apologists such as “Discover the Truth” routinely interchange reliable and weaker sources to make it appear that Muslims at Medina were in imminent danger at the time.”

Roberts, you claimed that we used weak sources, could you show us what exactly is weak? It should be noted to our respected readers that the critic did not present a single evidence to back his outlandish assertion that we used “weak sources”. A simple Google search would inform readers that Sahih Muslim, Sahih Bukhari, Riyad as-Salihin and other sources we quoted are some of the most authentic sources of Islam.

Glen Roberts then claims that we quoted events that occurred “after Tabuk”:

“They also alter the wording from the original verse and introduce events that occurred after Tabuk as if they preceded it].”

Here he infers on some of the earliest reports from classical scholars who say that Abu Amir along with Byzantine leader prepared to assassinate Prophet Muhammed and murder Muslims. He deceptively claims that this event occurred after Tabuk. The event you misrepresented and inferred to did not happen after Tabuk. In fact the very sources you claim to have read clearly state that this happened just before the Prophet set out to Tabuk expedition. The sources mention that the Byzantine leader along with Abu Amir attempted to murder the Prophet. The very sources you deliberately misrepresented and not show your readers mention this fact.

The 14th-century respected scholar Abu l-Fidaʾ Ismail Ibn Umar Ibn Kathir (1301-1373 CE), mentions that Abu Amir got the backing of Heraclius to launch an attack on the Muslim community, notice he states “Before Tabuk”:

“Masjid Ad-Dirar and Masjid At-Taqwa
The reason behind revealing these honorable Ayat is that before the Messenger of Allah migrated to Al-Madinah, there was a man from Al-Khazraj called “Abu `Amir Ar-Rahib (the Monk).” This man embraced Christianity before Islam and read the Scriptures. During the time of Jahiliyyah, Abu Amir was known for being a worshipper and being a notable person among Al-Khazraj. When the Messenger of Allah arrived at Al-Madinah after the Hijrah, the Muslims gathered around him and the word of Islam was triumphant on the day of Badr, causing Abu `Amir, the cursed one, to choke on his own saliva and announce his enmity to Islam. He fled from Al-Madinah to the idolators of Quraysh in Makkah to support them in the WAR AGAINST THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH. The Quraysh united their forces and the bedouins who joined them for the battle of Uhud, during which Allah tested the Muslims, but the good end is always for the pious and righteous people. The rebellious Abu Amir dug many holes in the ground between the two camps, into one of which the Messenger fell, injuring his face and breaking one of his right lower teeth. He also sustained a head injury. Before the fighting started, Abu Amir approached his people among the Ansar and tried to convince them to support and agree with him. When they recognized him, they said, “May Allah never burden an eye by seeing you, O Fasiq one, O enemy of Allah!” They cursed him and he went back declaring, “By Allah! Evil has touched my people after I left.” The Messenger of Allah called Abu Amir to Allah and recited the Qur’an to him before his flight to Makkah, but he refused to embrace Islam and REBELLED. The Messenger invoked Allah that Abu Amir die as an outcast in an alien land, and his invocation came true. After the battle of Uhud was finished, ABU AMIR realized that the Messenger’s call was still rising and gaining momentum, so HE WENT TO HERACLIUS, THE EMPEROR OF ROME, ASKING FOR HIS AID AGAINST THE PROPHET. HERACLIUS GAVE HIM PROMISES AND ABU AMIR REMAINED WITH HIM. He also wrote to several of his people in Al-Madinah, who embraced hypocrisy, promising and insinuating to them THAT HE WILL LEAD AN ARMY TO FIGHT THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH TO DEFEAT HIM AND HIS CALL. He ordered them to establish a stronghold where he could send his emissaries and to serve as an outpost when he joins them later on. These hypocrites built a Masjid next to the Masjid in Quba’, and they finished building it BEFORE the Messenger went to TABUK. They went to the Messenger inviting him to pray in their Masjid so that it would be a proof that the Messenger approved of their Masjid.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, last accessed 27th February 2017, )


The plan of assassinating Prophet Muhammed (p) was in preparation long before the Prophet (p) set out to Tabuk. Another classical source, Ibn Juzzay mentions that this group wanted to lure the Prophet (p) into the mosque (Masjid al-Dirar) as a way for them to kill him. He also states that this event happened before Tabuk expedition. So preparation was made to murder the Prophet at Taif battle, this occurred many months before the Tabuk incident.

Tafsir Ibn Juzayy (1321 – 1357 AD) writes:

“… (to create division between the muminun) They meant to separate the believers from the Mosque of Quba’. (and in readiness for those who previously made war on Allah and His Messenger ) i.e. waiting for the one WHO FIGHTS ALLAH AND HIS MESSENGER. He was Abu ‘Amir ar-Rahib who the Messenger of Allah called a fasiq. He was one of the people of Madina. When the Messenger of Allah came to Madina, he FOUGHT with rejection and hyprocrisy, and then left for Makka and FORMED THE PARTIES OF THE IDOLATERS. When Makka was conquered, he went to Ta’if. When the people of TA’IF became Muslim, he went to SYRIA AND SOUGHT THE HELP OF CAESAR. He died there. The people of the Mosque of Harm said, “When Abu ‘Amir came to Madina, he prayed in this mosque.” “Before” indicates what he did with the Parties.” (Tafsir Ibn Juzayy, last accessed 27th February 2017, online source, )

For details surrounding the Ta’if incident, what led to it please see the following article: “The Siege Of Ta’if (Taif)”

So it is quite clear from the above early sources that the Byzantine leader long with Abu Amir were attempting to assassinate Prophet Muhammed before the Tabuk expedition was undertaken.

Glen Roberts then goes on to assert:

“Ibn Kathir is one of Islam’s most respected historians, which even the apologists admit. He worked at a time when Islamic scholars were far less concerned about spin than fact. His research determined that the expedition to Tabuk was about loot and tribute to compensate for the loss of pilgrimage revenue.”

In fact he is either blatantly lying, deliberately misleading people or does not understand the verse and just interprets it how he feels like as a way of attacking Islam. The verse 9:28 was revealed in connection with Hunayn incident which took place long before the expedition of Tabuk. No doubt they were going to get compensated, but this has no connection in relation to the said incident under discussion. Surah 9:28 did not trigger off the Muslims to fight for mere money. What started the war as we have seen from early sources is the aggression and hostility from the Byzantine’s.

Roberts then goes on to conclude on Ibn Kathir’s quotation:

“The Muslims were not under attack when verses 9:29 and 9:123 were narrated.”

They did attempt to attack the Muslim community. Ibn Kathir himself showed that the Byzantine leader along with Abu Amir attempted to murder the Prophet before Tabuk expedition. Besides this, Ibn Sa’d and Kitab Futuh al Buldan and others who lived long before Ibn Kathir also confirm the account that the Byzantine’s assembled an army to attack the Muslim community.

It is interesting, on one hand he chooses to disparage and attack our classical scholars and earliest sources we quoted on this incident but when it suits him he quotes Ibn Kathir. You can’t have it both ways. Ibn Kathir himself says very clearly that the Byzantine’s were attempting to Murder Prophet Muhammed before the Tabuk expedition was undertaken, as the above reports cited clearly showed.

He continues:

“’Discover the Truth’ adds a few other embellishments to the story, such as claiming that the opposing army had fled (supported by neither Muslim nor independent accounts)”

The Muslim sources show that an army was there. This is confirmed in Sahih Muslim, Ibn Sa’d, Kitab Futuh al-Buldan and Al-Zurqani as shown earlier. How does that negate the fact that they fled? They left the area they wanted to engage in fighting. When the confirmed reports show that they were there but when Muslims arrived, they went away, how does that not support our position that they fled? You are clearly clinging to straws here.

Glen Roberts continues:

“and also that “no harm was inflicted on any Christian or Jews” once Muhammad arrived at Tabuk. This is what is called a bald-faced lie. Here is the actual account of what Muhammad did…”

Our statement that no Christian or Jew was attacked was in relation to those who did not engage in fighting. The very source you quote actually hints to us that there was a fight from both sides hence one person got killed:

“When they came out, the cavalry of the Prophet ENGAGED them, capturing Ukaydir and killing his brother.” (Ibn Kathir volume 4, page 21)

Readers should be aware Khalid was sent to get the leader Ukaydir Ibn Abd al-Malik to the Prophet. Unfortunately the leader did not want to come and instead, it seems he engaged in war against Khalid. In which it resulted in a death of one person. Khalid was not sent to fight but rather to bring the leader Ukaydir to the Prophet and sort things out in words. If the critic claims that he was sent out to kill, then he needs to answer as to why others weren’t killed? Why was only one person harmed, but the rest were brought to the Prophet (p) and set free? Sunan Abi Dawud reports:

“Narrated Anas ibn Malik ; Uthman ibn Abu Sulayman: The Prophet sent Khalid ibn al-Walid to Ukaydir of Dumah. He was seized and they brought him to him (i.e. the Prophet). He SPARED HIS LIFE AND MADE PEACE WITH HIM on condition that he should pay jizyah (poll-tax). (Sunan Abi Dawud Book 19, Hadith 3031. Eng. Tran., Hasan Al-Albani, )

He concludes on this incident by saying:

“So there’s that. A Christian family going about their business is ruthlessly attacked and robbed on Muhammad’s order. At least one member is killed and the others save their lives. …”

Glen Roberts makes it out as if these people are a normal, law abiding family who have done nothing wrong other than look after their animals. This picture that is portrayed here is typical among missionaries to make the perpetrators that have done wrong as victims whilst Muhammed (p) defending himself and the community as the bad ones. Let’s explain why this picture is not in harmony with the historical sources we have available.

Some might ask what reason was there for Prophet Muhammed to send out Khalid to get Ukaydir Ibn Abd al-Malik? The leader of that region along with his people were on the side and pledged allegiance to the Byzantine’s. Hence, when the expedition of Tabuk was undertaken, these people were on the side of the Byzantine’s. They knew that the Byzantine’s were going to engage in warfare against the Muslim community but still pledged allegiance and supported them. Scholar Shaykh Allamah Shibli Nomani (1857 – 1914 CE) explains:

“Dumat al-Jandal (also pronounced as Daumat al-Jandal), which is five stages from Damascus, there was an Arab chief, UKAIDIR BY NAME, WHO OWED ALLEGIANCE TO THE ROMAN EMPEROR. Khalid Ibn Walid was despatched with four hundred and twenty men to subdue him. Khalid made captive, and later on released him on condition that he would personally appear before the Prophet (p) to settle terms. Accordingly, he arrived accompanied by his brother and was promised protection.” (Sirat -un- Nabi [Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam] by Shaykh Allamah Shibli Nomani, volume 2, page 238)

The people of that area and their leader of Dumat al-Jandal who was Ukaydir, before the Tabuk expedition took place they engaged in hostility and attempted to attack the Muslim community in Madinah as a number of sources confirm this. Kitab al-tabaqat al-Kabir – Ibn sa’d (784 – 845 CE):

“Then (occurred) the Ghazwah of the Apostle of Allah, to Dumat al-Jandal … They (narrators) said: (The news) reached the Apostle of Allah, that a large number of men had assembled at DUMAT AL-JANDAL and that they treated cruelly the camel-riders when they passed by them, and INTENDED TO ATTACK AL-MADINAH.” (Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, [Translated by S. Moinul Haq (New Delhi: Kitab Bhavan, 2009)], by Ibn Sa’d, volume 2, page 76)

This is also reported by Abu Ja’far Muhammad b. Jarir al-Tabari (838-923 CE):

“In this year he mounted an expedition against Dumat al-Jandal in the month of Rabi’i. The reason for it was that word reached the Messenger of God that a host had ASSEMBLED THERE AND HAD APPROACHED HIS TERRITORIES…” (The History of Al-Tabari: The Victory of Islam: Muhammad at Medina (“Ta’rikh al-rusul wa’l-Muluk”) – [Translated by Michael Fishbein – State University of New York Press, 1997], volume VIII (8), page 4 – 5)

It was in the interest of the Muslims to make a peace treaty with this group and to make sure they stop their hostilities against the Muslim community. In which after Khalid’s incident they agreed.

As for his claim,

“agreeing to pay jizya (ie. extortion)…”

Jizya was never “extortion” as the deceptive of an “expert” claims. What was Jizya? In modern times we would understand this as a tax that was used to pay for hospitals, schools, military defence of the country, helping the poor and needy. This tax (Jizyah) was needed for the Government to function, and adequate care for its citizens be met. The claim that the author seems to push that ‘Jizya’ was oppressive is only found by those who are pushing a certain agenda to paint Islam negatively. In fact, the same tax that was levied on non-Muslims was also imposed on to Muslims, called Zakat. It was compulsory for the Muslims to pay this as a way for the poor and needy Muslim and non-Muslim be fed and clothed. Odd that he conveniently leaves that out to his readers.

There is a remarkable story of the second Caliph Umar Ibn al-Khattab (586 – 644 CE, online source ). He was passing along a house when saw an old, blind man begging. Umar immediately touched the old man and asked him, whether he was a Christian or a Jew, the man said that he was from the Jewish faith. The old blind man then further told him that he begged in the day so he could provide himself the daily needs, for his food and pay the Jizya yearly. Umar Ibn Khattab upon hearing this story immediately summoned his people to feed him and allowed the man to longer pay any Jizya:

“To which of the people of the Book do you belong? I am a Jew, responded the blind man. Umar took him by the hand, led him to his own house, GAVE HIM SOMETHING FROM IT (i.e., food) and then sent him to the keeper of the treasure with this message, ‘See to this man and his like, for we have not done right if we devour their youth and neglect their old age. The religious tax is for the poor and needy. The poor are the Muslims; this man is one of the needy of the people of the Book (Christians and Jews). HE FREED THE MAN FROM THE OBLIGATION TO PAY THE JIZYAH.“ (Kitab al-Kharaj, by Abu Yusuf Yaqub (d. 798), page 71)

As Roberts was unable to find any credible evidence that concretely agrees with his claims on Q. 9:29, he then concludes by saying Islam spread to every community to Spain, and to the Indian sub-continent after Prophet Muhammed’s death by his companions. Therefore his assertions on Sura 9:29 is correct. This line of claims are not credible nor in accord with history. No doubt Islam spread to many of the places you mentioned, but you’re leaving out a major factor and that is, many of these countries did not allow Muslims to spread the religion of Islam freely with words and were very oppressive. Missionary activities were forbidden. Hence there was a suppression by the leaders at the time. These lands, their leaders were very oppressive. Hence, it led those countries being conquered. Nobody denies the fact that those countries were conquered.

To prove that conquering was based on there being no freedom of religion is the case of Abyssinia. Abyssinia allowed Muslims to practice their religion freely. To preach openly about their religion without there being suppression or any hostility. The Prophet nor any of the companions attacked Abyssinia. Nor did they pay any Jizya because the leader was faithful and a righteous Christian man who did not oppress Muslims. Where there was freedom for the Muslim community, the Prophet’s companions never initiated war against them. This is a historical fact. The Prophet’s statement on this matter confirms this:

Leave the Abyssinians alone, so long as they do not take the offensive (leave you at peace).
Transliteration: utruk al-habasha ma tarkukum.” (Al Sirah al Halabiyah, volume 3, page 294)

Sunan an-Nasa’i:

“The Messenger of Allah said at that point “Leave the Ethiopians alone so long as they leave you alone, and leave the Turks alone so long as they leave you alone.’” (Sunan an-Nasa’i volume 1, Book 25, Hadith 3178. Eng. Tran., Hasan Darussalam, )

Sunan Abi Dawud:

“(1594) Chapter: Prohibition Of Agitating The Turks And Abyssinians
“Narrated from Abi Sukainah One of the Companions: The Prophet said: Let (leave) the Abyssinians alone as long as they let you alone, and let the Turks alone as long as they leave you alone.” (Sunan Abi Dawud Book 38, Hadith 4288. Eng. Tran., Hasan Al-Albani, )

The relationship between Abyssinia and the early Muslim government is an excellent example for rebutting the claims that have been made by Glen Roberts.

The mission of Prophet Muhammed’s entire life was always to spread the message of Islam and stand up for justice. And he only fought those who oppressed people, as the following prayer (Du’a) of the Prophet (p) demonstrates:

“(O Allah, apportion to us such fear as should serve as a barrier between us and acts of disobedience; and such obedience as will take us to Your Jannah; and such as will make easy for us to bear in the calamities of this world. O Allah! let us enjoy our hearing, our sight and our power as long as You keep us alive and make our heirs from our own offspring, and make our REVENGE RESTRICTED TO THOSE WHO OPPRESS US, and SUPPORT US AGAINST THOSE WHO ARE HOSTILE TO US let no misfortune afflict our Deen; let not worldly affairs be our principal concern, or the ultimate limit of our knowledge, and let not those rule over us who do not show mercy to us).” (Riyad as-Salihin Book 5, Hadith 834 Eng. Tran., )


The claims being made against our article on 9:29 does not hold any weight when we examined them. The assertion of Glen Roberts that Surah 9:29 has no connection to Tabuk was not true. The earliest evidence shows that Sura 9:29 was revealed on the occasion of Tabuk is from Mujahid Ibn Jabr [5], a scholar who met the companions of Prophet Muhammed (p) as we showed earlier. Furthermore, the Arabic words used and the earliest historical sources showed that 9:29 was revealed on occasion to the Tabuk expedition. The verse targeted and referred to a specific group of people. In which we found that the Byzantine’s alongside other tribes formed an alliance to attack and murder Muslims. Therefore, the claims being made to discredit our article was nothing more than a deceptive piece to deliberately mislead innocent readers. This article thoroughly showed that Glen Roberts claims made on Sura 9:29 were untenable and thus should be rejected by sane light-minded people. [6]

Sadly the author of the article from TROP has a lot in common extremists right-wingers. They have created this atmosphere, a world of “us” vs “them” mentality, which contributes nothing more than hate and destruction in the world. The only way to win against these extremist bigots on all sides is to give the true message of scripture and bring communities together for a better and peaceful world.

Don’t forget to follow Discover The Truth on Facebook and Twitter. PLEASE help spread the word by sharing our articles on your favourite social networks.

Related articles:

(1) – “Social Conditions: Christians And Jews In Early Period Of Islam”

(2) – “The Relationship Of The Muslim With Non-Muslims”

(3) – “Most Misinterpreted Verses Of The Quran?”

(4) – “The Hadith ‘…Fight Until They Say There Is No god But Allah’ Explained”

(5) – “Early Expeditions And Battles Of Islam”

(6) – “The Truth About Jizyah”


[1] This is the article that was written by Glen Roberts: “The Myth: Muhammad was Attacked by a Byzantine Army: The Tabuk Expedition and Verse 9:29” (Last accessed 28th February 2017 (*)),
[2] The 9th century scholar Hud b. Muhakkam Hawwari states that Surah 9:29 was revealed as a result of Tabuk, his statement is reported in the book, “Striving in the Path of God: Jihad and Martyrdom in Islamic Thought” by Asma Afsaruddin, page 75 – 76
[3] A summary on 9:29 from At-Tabari (838 – 923 CE):
“عَنْ مُجَاهِدٍ قَاتِلُوا الَّذِينَ لا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَلا بِالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ… حِينَ أُمِرَ مُحَمَّدٌ وَأَصْحَابُهُ بِغَزْوَةِ تَبُوكَ
Mujahid reported concerning the verse, “Fight those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day…” that it was revealed when Muhammad and his companions were commanded with the expedition of Tabuk. The expedition of Tabuk was preceded by the battle of Mu’tah which began when the emissary of the Prophet was assassinated while delivering a letter to a Roman ally. (Tafseer At-Tabari 9:29 Online source, )
[4] The New Encyclopedia of Islam – Cyril Glasse on the Ghassan tribe:
“Ghassanis. A South Arabian tribe, the Banu Ghassan, who migrated to Syria from the Yemen between the 3rd and 4th century AD and settled in the region of Damascus. Many of them became monophysite Christians. Their leaders were accorded a Phylarcate, or status of vassal kingdom, under the Byzantine Emperor Justinian (527 – 569). The Ghassanis protected the southern flank of the Byzantine Empire.” (The New Encyclopedia of Islam – Revised Edition Of The Concise Encyclopedia Of Islam [Introduction by Professor Huston Smith – Altamira Press – Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, INC, 2002], by Cyril Glasse, page 154)
[5] Mujahid Ibn Jabr (645-722 AD) clearly states in his exegesis that Surah 9:29 was revealed as a result of Tabuk expedition:
“Mujahid Said: ‘This was when Muhammad (p) ordered his companions for Ghazwah Tabook.’
حين أمر محمدٌ وأصحابه بغزوة تبوك (Tafsir al-Tabari, on Surah 9:29, online source, )
[6] In Sahih al-Bukhari the Prophet (p) is reported to have said that he will not sit down while the enemy is out there trying to persecute him or his community:
“I saw the Messenger of God, on the day of the battle with the confederates while he was carrying so much earth for the trench that his abdomen was covered. The Prophet was saying, “O God, had you not guided us, we would not have given charity nor prayed. Send tranquility upon us and make our stance firm if we encounter the enemy. Verily, THEY WERE THE FIRST TO TRANSGRESS AGAINST US. IF THEY INTEND PERSECUTION, THEN WE HAVE REFUSED.” (Sahih al-Bukhari volume 9, Book 90, Hadith 34, Arabic Tran.)

Aisha And Muhammed’s Marriage – Puberty

Kaleef K. Karim


1. Was Aisha’s Marriage Common In History?
2. Khawlah Suggested The Prophet To Marry Aisha
3. Aisha And Dolls
4. Jariyya – Young Lady
5. Aisha Reached Puberty Before Marriage Was Consummated


Among the claims made in regards to Prophet Muhammed’s marriage to Aisha is that such a marriage was uncommon. Some online detractors even go the extend to avoid and deliberately make out to their readers that such a marriage was unheard off in history.

Indeed there are a number of authentic reports in Sahih al Bukhari and other sources which say that her marriage was consummated at the age of 9 (or 10 in some other sources). This was the time she had reached the age of puberty. Although this age is something that has been accepted among the conservative Muslims in the past and today, there are some 20th century proponents who have pointed out based on external evidence from a number of authentic reports that her age was older than what is commonly accepted among Muslims. I won’t go into much more detail on this here, as there may be an article on this matter in the near future to see if what is presented has any validity.

1. Was Aisha’s Marriage Common In History?

Yes, her marriage was very common. Among the ancient cultures and societies it was custom when a girl hits puberty she was transitioned into adulthood. This was the stage where girls who hit puberty were deemed to be a woman, and a time for them to be married off.

The Bible for example gives us many instances where Prophets married very young girls, for today it may shock some readers, but these type of marriages were very common.

1.1. Prophet Jacob’s daughter, Dinah was given away in marriage when she was below the age of 9-years-old to Shechem. The marriage didn’t last long as Dinah’s brothers murdered members of Shechem’s family due to Shechem’s act before the marriage: “Bible: How Old Was Dinah When She Was Married To Shechem?”

1.2. There is also the case wherein King David in his old age wasn’t getting warm in his bed. His nurses (doctors) proposed to bring a young girl to warm him up. To bring him back to his youthful strength. This is while King David was 70-years-old, the girl Abishag was no older than 12-years-old when she was married off to him: “King David’s Marriage To 12 Year Old Abishag – Bible“

. Another two piece articles have been written about this incident, please see here:

And here:

1.3. The most common marriage that is widely known among scholars is that of Isaac and Rebecca. Some very early scholars have pointed out that she was no older than 3-years-old when she was married off to Isaac. However, this number is not in accord with the Biblical text. I wrote a very detailed article on this showing that Rebecca was anything below the age of 9, but not three. The Biblical text support the evidence provided that Isaac was 40-years-old when he married 8-year-old Rebecca: “The Age Of Rebecca When She Married Isaac – Biblical Perspective“ .

Here is another piece on Rebecca and Isaac’s marriage:

1.4. The apocryphal writings report that Mary was 12-years-old when she was given away in marriage to 80-year-old (other reports say 90-year-old) Joseph the carpenter. Some modern Christians uncomfortable about this account have dismissed it. Mary being married off at 12-years-old is not just reported in apocryphal writings, this is well attested also by some of the earliest Church fathers: “Mary the wife of Joseph The carpenter”:

1.5. There is also the case with Moses and his men marrying prepubescent girls, this is related in the Biblical verse, Numbers 31:18:

1.6. Away from the Bible, just over 100 years ago, the age of consent in America and Europe was 10, and in the State of Delaware it was as low as 7: “Age of Consent in European and American History“:

The New York Times, in 1895 mentions the age of consent laws in a publication: “The Age Of Consent Laws In America, 1800s“:

Scholars have pointed out that what we call “child-marriage” today was never brought up. A female was deemed to be an adult the moment she hit puberty. Same was the case for boys, they were deemed be an adults the moment there were signs of pubic hair or had a wet dream.

If one thinks these above cases are only in the past, they are mistaken.

In 1972, a case was brought in Pinellas County, it was said that Sherry Johnson, of Tallahassee, was raped at the age of 10. As a result of this she got impregnated by the perpetrator. Sherry Johnson’s mom gave approval for her daughter to “marry the 20-year-old” man:

And here:

The law did not prohibit the couple from getting married, even though he was a lot older. [1]

Away from the 1970s, between 2000 and 2010 over 240 thousand children were married off in America:

The youngest girl married was 12-years-old. The vast majority of the time the men were a lot older than the girls. Despite this, such marriages continue to this very day in many Christian, Jewish and even secular communities . [2] [3]

With parental consent a 12 to 14-year-old can be married in some states in America:

“A handful of other states sanction extremely early marriages with parental consent: In Alabama, South Carolina and Utah, girls can marry at 14; in New Hampshire it’s 13; in Massachusetts and Kansas, 12.”(“Early marriage survives in the U.S.”, last acessed 27th february 2017, online source,

Here is New Hampshire’s Law:

“The state of New Hampshire requires males as young as 14 and females as young as 13 to obtain parental consent before a marriage license will be granted. The statute does not provide specific exceptions, but allows the judge to grant marriage license requests if he or she believes it is in the couple’s best interests.” (“New Hampshire Marriage Age Requirements Laws” (Last accessed 19th February 2017), online source, )

As recently as 2014, in Spain a girl of 14 years-old could get married by Law. They lifted the age from 14 to 16 years of age as pressure was mounted on the government (online source, ). [4]

As we have read so far, Aisha’s marriage 1400 society was normal, very common among the ancient cultures and all the way to the present day.

2. Khawlah Suggested The Prophet To Marry Aisha

The Prophet Muhammed (p) became sad at the loss of his beloved wife, Khadija. He had four young children to bring up by himself. To heal his wounds at the demise of his wife, Khawlah bint Hakim offered to search around to find him a new wife. She went over to the Prophet Muhammed (p) and suggested two options, one was the virgin, Aisha the daughter of his closest friend from Jahiliyyah days, Abu Bakr, and the other was a former widow, Sawdah bint Zamah [5]. Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya – Ibn Kathir quotes a Hadith from Musnad of Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal on this:

“Imam Ahmad stated in the Musnad, of A’isha, ‘the mother of the faithful,’ that Muhammad b. Bishr related to him, from Bishr and Muhammad b. Amr, who was told the following by Abu Salama and Yahya: ‘When Khadija died, Khawla, daughter of Hakim, the wife of Uthman b. Maz’un, came and said, ‘O Messenger of God, wouldn’t you like to get married?’ He replied, to whom?’
‘To either a virgin or to someone previously married, as you wish.’
‘And who would the virgin be?’ He asked. She replied, ‘That creation of God you enjoy above all others, A’isha, daughter of Abu Bakr!’
‘And who would the previously married woman be?’ He asked. ‘Sawda, daughter of Zam’a,’ she answered. ‘She has expressed belief in you and has become your follower.’
‘You may go,’ he told her, ‘and make mention of me to them.’ ‘She entered Abu Bakr’s house and said to his wife, ‘Umm Ruman, what goodness and blessings God brings you!’ ‘How do you mean?’ She enquired. ‘The Messenger of God (SAAS) has sent me to ask to become engaged to A’isha!’
‘See Abu Bakr when he comes in,’ she replied.
‘Abu Bakr did come and Khawla said, ‘O Abu Bakr, what goodness and blessings God brings you!’
‘How so?’ he asked.
‘The Messenger of God (SAAS) has sent me to ask to become engaged to A’isha!’ … Umm Ruman told me, ‘Mut’im b. Adi has asked for her in marriage to his son; and, I swear, Abu Bakr went in to see Mut’im b. Adi who had his wife, Umm al-Sabi, with him. She commented, ‘Well, son of Abu Quhafa, are you perhaps having our friend change his religion and join yours if he gets married into your family?’ Abu Bakr asked Mut’im b. Adi, ‘Is this how you respond?’ He replied, ‘It’s she who said that.’ ‘And so Abu Bakr left, God having relieved him of the promise he had made to Mut’im. He returned home and told Khawla, ‘Call for the Messenger of God (SAAS) to come to me.’ She did so and he agreed to her (Aisha) marriage to him (Muhammed)…” (The Life of the Prophet Muhammed (‘Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya’) [Translated by Professor Trevor Le Gassick, Garnet Publishing – Copyright 2000, The Center for Muslim Contribution To civilization], by Ibn Kathir, volume 2, page 94 – 95)

Ta’rikh al-rusul wa’l-Muluk – Abu Ja’far Muhammad b Jarir al-Tabari [6]:

“The Reason Why The Messenger of God Asked for the Hands of Both A’ishah and Sawdah in Marriage and the Received Reports as to with Whom He First Contracted the Marriage
… When Khadijah died, Khawlah bt. Hakim b. Umayyah b. al-Awqas, wife of Uthman b. Maz’un, who was in Mecca, said [to the Messenger of God]. ‘O Messenger of God, will you not marry?’ He replied, ‘Whom’? ‘A Maiden,’ she said, ‘if you like, or a non-maiden.’ He replied, ‘Who is the maiden?’ ‘The daughter of the dearest creature of God to you,’ she answered, ‘A’ishah bt. Abi Bakr.’ He asked, ‘And who is the non-maiden?’ ‘Sawdah bt. Zam’ah b. Qays,’ she replied, ‘she has [long] believed in you and has followed you.’ [So the Prophet] asked her to go and propose to them on his behalf. She went to Abu Bakr’s house, where she found Umm Ruman, mother of A’ishah, and said, ‘O Umm Ruman, what a good thing and a blessing has God brought to you!’ She said, ‘What is that?’ Khawlah replied, ‘The Messenger of God has sent me to ask for A’ishah’s hand in marriage on his behalf.’ She answered. ‘I ask that you wait for Abu Bakr, for he should be on his way.’ When Abu Bakr came, Khawlah repeated what she had said. He replied, ‘She is [like] his brother’s daughter. Would she be appropriate for him?’ When Khawlah returned to the Messenger of God and told him about it he said, ‘God back to him and say that he is my brother in Islam and that I am his brother [in Islam], so his daughter is good for me.’ She cae to Abu Bakr and told him what the Messenger of God had said. Then he asked her to wait until he returned. Umm Ruman said that al-Mut’im b. Adi has asked A’ishah’s hand for his son, but Abu Bakr had not promised anything. Abu Bakr left and went to Mut’im while his wife, mother of the son for whom he had asked A’ishah’s hand, was with him.” (The History Of al-Tabari (Ta’rikh al-rusul wa’l-muluk”) – The Last Years Of the Prophet [Translated and annotated by Ismail K. Poonawala, University of California, Los Angeles – State University Of New York, 1990], volume IX (9), page 129 – 130)


“This is an account of the same circumstances related by al-Bayhaqi through Ahmad b. Abd al-Jabbar, as follows, ‘Abd Allah b. Idris al-Azdi related to us, from Muhammad b. Amr, from Yahya b. Abd al-Rahman b. Hatib who reported, ‘A’isha said, ‘When Khadija died Khawla, daughter of Hakim, came and said, ‘O Messenger of God, would you like to be married?’ ‘To whom?’ he enquired. ‘It could, if you wish, be to a virgin or to a woman previously married,’ she replied. ‘Which virgin, and which previously married?’ he asked. ‘The virgin could be the daughter of that creation of God whom you love best; the previously married woman would be Sawda, daughter of Zam’a. She has expressed belief in you and become your follower.’ ‘Make mention of me to them, he told her.’” (The Life of the Prophet Muhammed (‘Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya’) [Translated by Professor Trevor Le Gassick, Garnet Publishing – Copyright 2000, The Center for Muslim Contribution To civilization], by Ibn Kathir, volume 2, page 96)


“In other words the messenger of God desists from marrying? He said: And who [do you suggest]? She said: Do you want a young woman (bakra) or an old woman (thayiba)? He said: So who is the young woman? She said: The daughter of the most beloved of Allah’s creation to you, ‘Aisha bint Abi Bakr. And he said: Who is the older woman? She said: Sawdah bint Zama‘ah. He said: So go and mention me to both of them.“ (Abu al-Qasim al-Ṭabarani, al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir (Cairo: Maktabah ibn Taymiyah, 1994), 5923:23. Nu‘im bin al-Ḥakim al-Naysaburi, al-Mustadarak ala al-Ṣahihayn (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘ilmiyah, 1999), tradition 2704, 2:181. Isnad graded Sahih) (“A Modern Matn Criticism on the Tradition on Aisha’s Age of Marriage: Translation and Analysis”, p. 18-19, source,’A’isha’s_Age_of_Marriage_Translation_and_Analysis )

We gather from the above reports that the marriage of Aisha was suggested by Khawlah who was a close family friend. She encouraged Prophet Muhammad to marry Aisha ‘to form a close relationship with Abu Bakr’s family’.

Another important information that needs highlighting here is, the above reports tell us that Aisha was already engaged to Jubayr Ibn Mut’im Ibn Adi, a young man who had not embraced Islam at the time. This shows that marriage of the Prophet (p) and Aisha was not uncommon. As far as history is witness, there was nothing unusual about this marriage.

Barnaby Rogerson comments on this, regarding Khawlah suggesting the marriage and saying that the marriage was consummated years later when Aisha had physically matured, “after her menstruation”:

“After Khadijah died the Prophet’s household and his daughters were cared for by Khawlah, the wife of one of his loyal followers. After the first period of mourning had passed, Khawlah suggested that he should find another wife. She herself put forward two candidates, the very beautiful Aisha, daughter of Abu Bakr, and Sawdah, a motherly thirty-year-old. Muhammad chose both of them Sawdah, of the Muslims who had taken refuge in Abyssinia, had recently been widowed. She was therefore immediately available and moved in to take charge of the household. Aisha, then still a pre-pubescent virgin, was betrothed by her father BUT DID NOT PHYSICALLY BECOME MUHAMMAD’S WIFE UNTIL SHE WAS CONSIDERED SEXUALLY MATURE, AFTER HER MENSTRUATION.” (The Prophet Muhammad: And the Roots of the Sunni-Shia Schism [Hachette Digital, 2003], by Barnaby Rogerson page 55)


3. Aisha And Dolls

Narrated ‘Aisha: I used to play with the dolls in the presence of the Prophet, and my girl friends also used to play with me. When Allah’s Apostle used to enter (my dwelling place) they used to hide themselves, but the Prophet would call them to join and play with me. (The playing with the dolls and similar images is forbidden, but it was allowed for ‘Aisha at that time, as she was a little girl, not reached the age of puberty.) (Fateh-al-Bari, volume 13, page 143) (Sahih Al-Bukhari, volume 8, Book 73, Number 151)

The above report(s) is often cited by some critics as evidence that Aisha played with dolls, therefore she was a prepubescent girl after her marriage was consummated. This claim has no foundation, given that we have many reports, which tell us that Aisha hit puberty long before the marriage was consummated with Prophet Muhammed (p).

It should be noted the part where it’s in brackets,

(“The playing with the dolls and similar images is forbidden, but it was allowed for ‘Aisha at that time, as she was a little girl, not yet reached the age of puberty”.)

This is not part of the report, it is in fact a commentary of Sahih Bukhari titled ‘Fath-al-Bari’, written in the year 1428, by Shafi qadi, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani.

The claim that “Aisha playing with dolls proves she was too immature to marry Muhammad”, this is baseless. Not only do we have historical evidence proving that Aisha hit puberty, the BBC America produced a documentary which show women above the age of 18 play with dolls:

“Monica Walsh, a 41-year-old wife and mother of a 2-year-old daughter from Orange County, N.Y., has one doll – “Hayden.” And, yes, she told Lauer, she plays with her doll “the same way a man might make a big train station and play with his train station or play with his sports car, his boat or his motorcycle.”
Fran Sullivan, 62, lives in Florida and has never had children. She brought two reborns to New York, “Robin” and “Nicholas,” and said she has a collection of more than 600 dolls of all kinds, including a number of reborn dolls.” (“Bogus baby boom: Women who collect lifelike dolls”, by Mike Celizic, online source (last accessed 8th February 2017), )


The BBC UK (2013) also published an article on this, titled “Teddy bears: Adults on their stuffed toy companions”, showing how grown up women play with teddy bears often:

“I have a small brown bear, Frank by name. He is so called because he is an earnest, honest, upright bear. He was given to me by a friend, as a promise that he would come home to me – and Frank. Frank had looked after my friend when his life went wrong. My friend never came home, he went to France and found someone else. Now Frank and I look after each other and we go everywhere together. Frank is a very special wee bear and very knowing. He has a beautiful soul. I will love him always. He is a good listener and he is my best friend. Heather, Rutland

My partner and I have 17 teddy bears which we’ve collected over the last five years, one of whom is my partner’s best friend and has been since he was 18 months old. Our teddies are a huge part of our lives. They travel the world with us and I couldn’t “bear” to leave any of them at home. Laura, Exeter, Devon.” (“Teddy bears: Adults on their stuffed toy companions” (BBC Magazine., Published 8 February 2013), online source (Last accessed 8th February 2017), )

Additionally, this is also supported by the New York Times:  [7]

Dr. Juliette Peers says that it was very fashionable for adult women to carry dolls in public in the early 20th century:

“As dolls were becoming closely identified with medicalized norms of girls’ behaviour, many adult doll-type products began production in the 1920s and 1930s. Some of these, such as the Lenci felt dolls from Italy, crossed over from adult mascot or living room decorations into the realm of children’s toys. Others-such as the pinchusion dolls and porcelain dolls in the shape of hair tidies, bookends, perfume bottles, vases powder bowls, powder puffs, lamp bases and face brooches- would have been familiar items to the younger teen at least in their personal home environment and their mother’s room, if not standing on the girl’s dressing table o decorating her bedroom. DURING THE 1920S, IT WAS TRENDY FOR ADULT WOMEN TO CARRY DOLLS IN PUBLIC, especially in urban areas, as a fashion accessory, and perfume flasks, purses and handbags were produced with doll or teddy bear faces. The Nancy Ann Story Book Company of California produced small dolls in series that encouraged young girls to collect the whole set. The Nancy Ann Dolls crossed over from the younger to a young ADULT AUDIENCE, who regarded them a mascots and ornaments. Because the Nancy Ann dolls were extremely popular, the company had to switch to locally produced dolls when the supply sources in Axis countries became unavailable during World War II.” (Girl Culture: An Encyclopedia [Claudia Mitchell, Jacqueline Reid-Walsh (editors), GP – Greenwood Press, 2008] by Dr. Juliette Peers, volume 1, page 28)

And here:

“Collectible dolls are often given as presents to girls by doting parents and grandparents, as well as being bought as personal items by adult women.” (Girl Culture: An Encyclopedia [Claudia Mitchell, Jacqueline Reid-Walsh (editors), GP – Greenwood Press, 2008] by Dr. Juliette Peers, volume 1, page 36)

The above instances on dolls, show that just because one has a doll or plays with one it does not equate to the person being a child. As the above evidence has demonstrated, adult women play with dolls also. Therefore, this claim that Aisha was prepubescent for merely playing dolls is baseless, since we know that grown women in this very era play with dolls.

4. Jariyya – Young Lady

In order to cast doubt on Aisha’s marriage being consummated at the time when she hit puberty, some critics have claimed that the Arabic word Jariyya used in a number of instances with Aisha shows that she did not hit puberty before her marriage was consummated. For this they don’t present any evidence, other than make claims and play with words. The following Hadith is used for their claims:

“On that Allah’s Messenger called Buraira and said, ‘O Burair. Did you ever see anything which roused your suspicions about her?’ Buraira said, ‘No, by Allah Who has sent you with the Truth, I have never seen in her anything faulty except that she is a girl of immature age, who sometimes sleeps and leaves the dough for the goats to eat.’” (Sahih al-Bukhari Hadith volume 3, Book 48, Hadith 829. Eng. Tran., )

Br. Bassam Zawadi gives evidence that there is nothing in the Hadith that suggests that she was “immature”, in the sense of being prepubescent:

“Looking at the Arabic text, I don’t see word “immature” anywhere. It only states that she is a YOUNG GIRL, which we will already know. But if someone is young that doesn’t necessarily imply that he or she is immature.
Secondly, the companion was not criticizing Aisha for her age. Rather, he was saying that her fault was that she:
GOES TO SLEEP while kneading the flour and the lamb eats that’.
Imam Nawawi (1233 – 1277) states in his commentary:
And the meaning of this statement is that there are no faults about her (Aisha) to begin with. There is nothing wrong about her EXCEPT THAT SHE SLEEPS WHILE KNEADING THE FLOUR. (Imam Nawawi, Sharh Saheeh Muslim, Kitab: Al Tawbah, Bab: Fee Hadeeth Al Ifk Wa Qubool Tawbat Al Qaazhif, Commentary on Hadith no. 4974, Source )

The companion might have attributed her carelessness due to the fact that she was young and did not take seriously her responsibility over her tasks. However, this does not imply she was immature or psychologically incapable of being married.” (“Refuting Sam Shamoun’s Arguments Regarding The Prophet’s Marriage To Aisha”, by Bassam Zawadi, online source (last accessed 16th February 2017), )

Nowhere in the above Hadith does it prove the claims that have been made. In fact we have a number of Hadith wherein it explicitly mentions that she started menstruating while she moved in to Prophet Muhammed’s house. This evidence will be shown later, in section 5.

Br. Bassam is correct here indeed! Jariyya Haditha is used elsewhere by Aisha, and it literally means “young girl” or “young lady”. Being young does not equate to being prepubescent or immature. The main issue as shown was that she sleeps and sometimes neglects certain tasks. The following report has the exact same words used as the above report, notice “young lady” from Aisha’s own statement,

“At that time women were light in weight and were not fleshy for they used to eat little (food), so those people did not feel the lightness of the howdah while raising it up, and I was still a YOUNG LADY [JARIYYA HADITHA]. They drove away the camel and proceeded. Then I found my necklace after the army had gone.” (Sahih al-Bukhari volume 6, Book 60, Hadith 274, Eng. Tran., )

Furthermore, the word Jariyya is understood by Arabic English dictionaries as being referring to someone who is an adult. They tell us that Jariyya is used for a girl, slave, concubine and it is always used for grown up adult females:

“جَارِيَةٌ Jariya pl. –at, … jawarin girl; slave GIRL; maid, servant; ship, vessel.”
(Hans Wehr A Dictionary of Modern written Arabic [Edited by John Milton – Spoken Language Services, Inc. 1976], page 146)

English-Arabic Dictionary – Professor Francis Joseph Steingass:

“… Jari, flowing, running, current; passing, happening; – 5 jariya-t pl. jawari, slave-girl; GIRL; mercy of God; ship; sun.” (English-Arabic Dictionary: For the Use of Both Travellers and Students [LONDON – Crosby Lockwood And Son 7, Stationers Hall Court, Ludgate Hill, E.C.] by Professor Francis Joseph Steingass, page 214)

Edward William Lane’s Lexicon:

“جَارِيَةٌ A ship; (S, Msb, K ; ) because of its running upon the sea: (Msb : )an epithet in which the quality of a subst. predominates: pl. … (TA.) – The sun; (K;) because of its running from region to region: (TA : ) or the sun’s disk in the sky. (T. TA.) And … The Stars. (TA. [But see art. …]) – The mind: pl. as above. (TA.) – A GIRL, or YOUNG WOMAN; S, Mgh, Msb, K ; ) a female of which the male is termed …; so called because her activity and running; opposed to …: (Mgh : ) and a female slave; (Mgh voce …;) [in the sense] applied even to one who is an OLD WOMAN, unable to work, or to employ herself actively; alluding to what she was: (Msb : ) pl. as above. (Msb, K.) – The eye of any animal. (TA.) – A benefit, favour, boon, or blessing, bestowed by God (K, TA) upon his servants. (TA.).” (Edward Lane’s Lexicon, page 419, online source)


Arabic-English Dictionary Of Qur’anic Usage – Elsaid M. Badawi & Muhammad Abdel Haleem:

“… j-r-y to run, to flow, to stream, to sail; stream, channel, the way of things; vessel, boat; to continue, to be constant; YOUNG FEMALE, overseer. Of this root, five forms occur 64 times in the Qur’an: … jara 57 times; … jariyatun twice; … jariyat once; jawari three times and … majri once.” (Arabic-English Dictionary Of Qur’anic Usage [Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands, 2008] by Elsaid M. Badawi, Muhammad Abdel Haleem, page 161)


Dictionary Of The Holy Qur’an – Malik Ghulam Farid:

“… [aor. … inf. Noun … and …] …: The water flowed, ran quickly. …: The horse ran. … : A continuous or permanent charity; … also means, a ship (plural lll) because of its running upon the sea; the sun; … Stars (81:17). ); a girl or YOUNG WOMAN; the wind; a female slave; an OLD WOMAN; the eye of an animal; a benefit, favour, blessing or boon bestowed by God upon His servants.” (Dictionary Of The Holy Qur’an of With References and Explanation of the Text by Malik Ghulam Farid M. A., page 134)


Dr. Mary Ann Fay:

“The word jawar and its variants (e.g., sing. JARIYA) are only used in connection with WOMEN and should be understood as the female equivalent of mamluk or tabi, that is, as a slave who is manumitted and becomes a client of his/her patron. Like mamluk, the word tabi is used to describe the relationship between men, not between men and women or women and women. Women are ma’tuqa or Jariyya.” (Women, The Family, And Dvorce Laws In Islamic History [Edited by Amira El Azhary Sonbol – Syracuse University Press. – First Edition, 1996], by Mary Ann Fay, page 163)

Professor of History Madeline C. Zilfe:

“Jariya (T. cariya) slave WOMAN; concubine.”
(Women In The Ottoman Empire Middle Eastern Women In The Early Modern Era [Koninlijke Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands, 1997], by Madeline C. Zilfe, page 300 (Glossary))

Professor Joel L. Kraemer:

“Arab WOMEN were also entertainers, singers, musicians and poetesses (JARIYA qayna: ‘female slaver singer’) in royal courts.” (The Cambridge Genizah Collections: Their Contents and Significance [Cambridge University Press, 2002], by Joel L. Kraemer, page 184)

With the above evidences in perspective, Jariya is a young girl and it is used in the sense of a mature woman. Jariya is a person that has passed the age of puberty.

5. Aisha Reached Puberty Before Marriage Was Consummated

It is claimed when the marriage of Aisha was consummated she was a prepubescent girl. This not true when one looks at some of the earliest historical sources of Islam:

Narrated AISHA: (the wife of the Prophet) I had seen my parents following Islam since I attained the age of PUBERTY. Not a day passed but the Prophet visited us, both in the mornings and evenings.” (Sahih al-Bukhari volume 1, Book 8, Hadith 465

The above report is also reported elsewhere but with a slight variation of words. While the above has the word “puberty”, this exchanged with “remember”. While the former Hadith says she hit puberty, this Hadith (below) says that she remembers things. This suggests that at this stage of her life she had reached the mental faculty to discern things:

“Narrated Aisha: (the wife of the Prophet) “I do not remember (A’QAL) my parents believing in any religion other than the Religion (of Islam), and our being visited by Allah’s Messenger in the morning and in the evening. One day, while we were sitting in the house of Abu Bakr (my father) at noon, someone said, ‘This is Allah’s Messenger coming at an hour at which he never used to visit us.’ Abu Bakr said, ‘There must be something very urgent that has brought him at this hour.’ The Prophet said, ‘I have been allowed to go out (of Mecca) to migrate.’” (Sahih al-Bukhari volume 8, Book 73, Hadith 102, )

In the two narrations we have read we see that Aisha had seen her parents follow Islam since she ‘attained the age of puberty’ and in the second report she was mentally mature. She goes on to say that a day did not pass, but that the Prophet Muhammad visited her (Aisha) and her parents. The Hadith reports presented shows that Aisha had reached puberty and had mentally matured to discern things while she still living with her parents, before the marriage was consummated to Prophet Muhammed (p).

Some critics have cast doubt on the Hadith where it mentions that Aisha hit “puberty” and claim that the translation that was made by the renowned scholar Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan is unreliable. As such we looked at Arabic-English Dictionaries on the word a’qal. The late professor Hans Wehr (1909 – 1981) who studied at the University of Munster published a book, “A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic”. He comments on the word “A’qal”:

“… a’qal more reasonable; brighter, smarter, more intelligent | … a’qal al’umr the most reasonable time of life, the years of reason and MATURITY.” (Hans Wehr A Dictionary of Modern written Arabic [Edited by John Milton – Spoken Language Services, Inc. 1976],  page 737)

Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan’s rendering of “puberty” in the first report is line with Professor Hans Wehr’s understanding of the Arabic language.

The narrations presented prove that Aisha had already hit puberty before the consummation of the marriage taken place. This is also confirmed by the 9th century scholar Abu Dawud Sulayman Ibn al-Ash‘ath al-Azdi as-Sijistani (817 – 889 CE), where he comments on a Hadith and says that Aisha herself says that she menstruated the same day the marriage was consummated:

“I was then brought to the Messenger of Allah, and he took up cohabitation with me when I was nine. She halted me at the door, and I burst into laughter.
Abu Dawud said: That is to say: I MENSTRUATED, and I was brought in a house, and there were some women of the Ansari in it. They said: With good luck and blessing. The tradition of one of them has been included in the other.” (Sunan Abi Dawud Book 42, Hadith 4915. Eng. Tran., Sahih al-Albani, )

Additionally, we have another narration where science attests that Aisha had hit puberty before the marriage was consummated. The following report states:

Narrated Aisha: The Prophet engaged me when I was a girl of six (years). We went to Medina and stayed at the home of Bani-al-Harith bin Khazraj. THEN I GOT ILL AND MY HAIR FELL DOWN. LATER ON MY HAIR GREW (again) and my mother, Um Ruman, came to me while I was playing in a swing with some of my girl friends. She called me, and I went to her, not knowing what she wanted to do to me. She caught me by the hand and made me stand at the door of the house. I was breathless then, and when my breathing became Allright, she took some water and rubbed my face and head with it. Then she took me into the house. There in the house I saw some Ansari women who said, “Best wishes and Allah’s Blessing and a good luck.” Then she entrusted me to them and they prepared me (for the marriage). Unexpectedly Allah’s Apostle came to me in the forenoon and my mother handed me over to him, and at that time I was a girl of nine years of age. (Sahih al-Bukhari volume 5, Book 58, Hadith 234)

The above narration is also reported in Sunan Ibn Majah:

“Aishah said: “The Messenger of Allah married me when I was six years old. Then we came to Al-Madinah and settled among Banu Harith bin Khazraj. I BECAME ILL AND MY HAIR FELL OUT, THEN IT GREW BACK AND BECAME ABUNDANT. My mother Umm Ruman came to me while I was on an Urjuhah with some of my friends, and called for me. I went to her, and I did not know what she wanted. She took me by the hand and made me stand at the door of the house, and I was panting. When I got my breath back, she took some water and wiped my face and head, and led me into the house. There were some woman of the Ansar inside the house, and they said: ‘With blessings and good fortune (from Allah).’ (My mother) handed me over to them and they tidied me up. And suddenly I saw the Messenger of Allah in the morning. And she handed me over to him and I was at that time, nine years old.” (Sahih) Sunan Ibn Majah volume 3, Book 9, Hadith 1876., Sahih Darussalam, )

It’s important to pay close attention to the above two narrations. Some may wonder, what is important about the part in the narration that is capitalized in bold, where it says,

“Then I got ill and my hair fell down. Later on my hair grew”

This part of the Hadith shows explicitly from the point of science that Aisha hit puberty before the marriage was consummated with the Prophet (p). Hair loss is common among women. Hair loss happens when a girl goes through changes with her body i.e, hitting puberty.

Shannon Harrison, Melissa Piliang and Wilma explain why, when hair disorders occur:

Alopecia is the general term for hair loss. Hair loss can occur from the scalp and any hair-bearing part of the body. Hair has great social and cultural importance, and patients with hair loss experience anxiety and concern…..
….The most common form of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia (pattern hair loss), which increases with age; at least 80% of white men show some degree of thinning by the age of 70 year. Androgenetic alopecia OCCURS WITH THE ONSET OF PUBERTY and in males is dependent on circulating androgens. FEMALE PATTERN HAIR LOSS (female androgenetic alopecia) ALSO STARTS AFTER PUBERTY…” (Current Clinical Medicine: Expert Consult [Second edition – Elsevier Inc, 2010], by Shannon Harrison, Melissa Piliang, & Wilma Bergfeld, page 289 – 290)

Dr. Lisa Akbari:

“Studies show that hair loss affects approximately one third of all women. Although hair loss is most commonly seen after menopause, it can begin AS EARLY AS PUBERTY.” (Every Woman’s Guide to Beautiful Hair at Any Age: Learn What Can Be Done to keep a beautiful head of hair for a lifetime [SourceBooks, Inc – Naperville, Illinois, 2007] by Lisa Akbari page 70 -71)

Scholars Gisela Torres and Stephen K. Tyring:

“Androgenic alopecia may develop in a WOMAN at any time AFTER THE ONSET OF PUBERTY, although it most often occurs during the perimenopausal period or at times of hormonal change.
Primary Care for Women [Second edition – Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2004] by Gisela Torres and Stephen K. Tyring, page 838)

The following facts we can gather from this evidence: (1) Aisha got ill and a lot of her hair started falling (hitting puberty). (2) After a while (months or year(s)) her hair grew again. (3) Aisha states that she was 9 years old when the marriage was consummated and this is when she started living with Prophet Mohammed (p) as the report states:

“(My mother) handed me over to them and they tidied me up. And suddenly I saw the Messenger of Allah in the morning. And she handed me over to him and I was at that time, nine years old.”

The claim that “Aisha was a prepubescent girl when her marriage was consummated”, the evidences presented refutes this. From the perspective of modern science, the scholars attest that Aisha did indeed hit puberty before the marriage was consummated.


Many any of the claims made in regards to Aisha and Muhammed (p) does not hold up when we consulted historical facts. Furthermore the ahadith reports shown explicitly mentioned that Aisha had reached puberty long before the marriage was consummated with the Prophet (p).

Hence, from the original Arabic language, it is clear that Aisha was at the age of puberty when she was married off. The scientific evidence presented on Aisha losing a lot of hair shows that she had begun her first menstrual period before the marriage was consummated. We know from the evidence presented that Prophet Muhammed (p) married her at the time when she was at the age where she was physically and mentally ready for marriage, 1400 years ago.



[1] “Law would ban marriage in Florida before age 16” Last accessed 27th February 2017,
[2] “Why can 12-year-olds still get married in the United States?” Last accessed 27th February 2017,
[3] “The Rate Of Child Marriages In America Is Alarming”, last acessed 27th February 2017,
[4] “Spain raises age of consent from 13 to 16”, last accessed 27th February 2017,
[5] Xavier Williams:
“Ayesha Siddiqua: A woman named Khawlah Bint Hakeem suggested that Prophet Muhammad marry Ayesha, the daughter of Abu Bakr, to form a close relationship with Abu Bakr’s family. She was already engaged to Jober Ibn Al Moteam Ibn Oday. At this time Jober was not yet a Muslim. The people of Mecca did not object to Ayeshah becoming married because although she was young, she was mature enough to understand the responsibility of marriage.” (World Religions, True Beliefs and New Age Spirituality: A New Age Study on How Economic Tides and Parental Conditioning Mold Our World of Ethics, Religions, Beliefs, Sex And Relationships, by Xavier Williams, page 285)
[6] Some have claimed that Abu Bakr’s reluctance actually shows that it probably wasn’t all that accepted to marry your daughter off. In actual fact, the hadith says that Abu Bakr’s reluctance was actually because him and Muhammad were seen as brothers because they knew each other for many years, not because of Aisha’s age some have claimed. Prophet Muhammad replied that they weren’t literal brothers so it was fine. Furthermore, given that Aisha was already in the process of being given away in marriage to Jubayr Ibn Mut’im Ibn Adi shows that the age was not the issue with Abu Bakr.
[7] “Motherhood, Reborn and Everlasting”, last accessed 27th February 2017,




Related Articles:

(1) – “Minimum Age For Marriage In The Quran”

(2) – “India: Villagers attack police who prevented child marriages” (*)

(3) – “200 Thousand Christian Children Were Married Before 10 In India”

(4) – “Indian teenager annuls her child ‘marriage‘”

(5) – “Indian underage brides ‘at 44%’“

Closer Look At The Hudaybiyyah Treaty’s Stipulations [Part 2]

Kaleef K. Karim

We are revisiting the treaty of Hudaybiyyah once again. It is claimed by some that part of the treaty agreement was the stipulation that women have to be returned to the Meccans. They say that women were part of the agreement when it was signed.

In the sixth year of Hijrah, a 10-year peace treaty was concluded at al-Hudaybiyyah, one article of which specified that any men emigrating to Prophet Muhammed’s camp without the permission of his guardian (or people) would have to be returned back to Makkah. Whereas any Muslim emigrating to Makkah would not be returned. This pact, however, was not regarded as covering the case of Muslim women. This verse of the Quran, Surah 60:10 was revealed on this occasion to reassure the Prophet (p) that women were not part of the agreement.

It is further asserted by some detractors that when the Quraysh came to Prophet Muhammed to return some women, Muhammed “refused” but he instead had ordered the Muslim women return the dowries that were given to them.

Now, the truth of matter is that the Quraysh men did not come. Only a few women came to argue the case that women were part of the treaty. However, the Prophet refused it on the ground that only men (Rajul) were part of the treaty. The Quraysh’s leaders did not object to Prophet Muhammed’s stance on this matter. We have already dedicated a thorough article on this claim, please see the following link: “Did The Treaty Of Hudaybiyyah Include Women?”

In this article, we aim to give further evidence which shows that part of the treaty agreement was only in regards to men. That the men only were to be returned to the Quraysh if they came to the Muslim camp.

Some reports in relation to this incident mention “Him”, “His”, “He”, this proves that conditions stipulated by the treaty was in regards to men as it has clear Arabic word(s) which are masculine pronouns.

Some critics unable to handle the fact that the treaty agreement was only in regards to men, they claim masculine pronouns used, refer to both genders collectively also. For this they present the following for their claims:

Surely the Safa and the Marwa are among the signs appointed by Allah; so WHOEVER makes a pilgrimage to the House or pays a visit (to it), there is no blame on HIM if HE goes round them both; and WHOEVER does good spontaneously, then surely Allah is Grateful, Knowing. S. 2:158 Shakir

who do not appeal to any other deity besides God [Alone]; nor kill any soul whom God has forbidden [them to] except through [due process of] law; nor misbehave sexually. Anyone who does so will incur a penalty. Torment will be doubled for HIM on Resurrection Day and HE will remain disgraced for ever in it, except for someone who repents and believes, and acts in a honorable manner. God will replace their evil deeds with fine ones, since God is Forgiving, Merciful. Anyone who repents and acts honorably should turn to God in repentance, and those who will not bear false witness, and when they pass by [people] gossiping, pass by in a dignified manner, who whenever they are reminded of their Lord’s signs, do not fall down deaf and blind [when reminded] of them; and [rather] who say: “Our Lord, bestow the comfort of our eyes on us in our spouses (min azwajina) and our offspring. Make us a model for those who do their duty.” Those will be rewarded with the Mansion because they have been so patient, and welcomed there with greetings as well as “Peace [be on you]!”, to live there for ever. How fine is such a residence and status! S. 25:68-76 T.B. Irving

As for HIM who giveth and is dutiful (toward Allah) And believeth in goodness; Surely We will ease HIS way unto the state of ease. But as for HIM who hoardeth and deemeth HIMSELF independent, And disbelieveth in goodness; Surely We will ease HIS way unto adversity. HIS riches will not save HIM when HE perisheth. Lo! Ours it is (to give) the guidance And lo! unto Us belong the latter portion and the former. Therefore have I warned you of the flaming Fire Which only the most wretched must endure, HE who denieth and turneth away. Far removed from it will be the RIGHTEOUS Who giveth HIS wealth that HE may grow (in goodness). And none hath with HIM any favour for reward, Except as seeking (to fulfill) the purpose of HIS Lord Most High. HE verily will be content. S. 92:5-21 Pickthall

The problem with the above verses and the reports is that both are using completely different words. The critic may have a point if the Arabic word Rajul was used, but nowhere in the above verses is the word used.

The reports are clear that the treaty agreement was in regards to men only (“He”, “Him”). Here is Sahih al-Bukhari (Bewley Translation):

“3945. Part of what ‘Urwa reported from Marwan ibn al-Hakam and al-Miswar ibn Makhrama, reporting about what happened with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in the ‘umra of al-Hudaybiyya, “When the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, wrote out the truce treaty with Suhayl ibn ‘Amr on the Day of al-Hudaybiya, one of the preconditions of that Suhayl ibn ‘Amr made was: ‘IF ANY OF US (MEN) comes to you, even if HE has your religion, you will return HIM TO US and you will not come between US AND HIM.’ Suhayl refused to conclude the truce with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, except on that basis. The believers disliked that and were grieved by it and spoke against it. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, signed it and then the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, returned Abu Jandal ibn Suhayl on that very day to his father, Suhayl ibn ‘Amr, When any man came to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, he returned him in that period, even if he was a Muslim. Believing emigrant women came. and Umm Kulthum bint ‘Uqba ibn Abi Mu’ayt was one of those who went to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. She was a young woman. Her family came to ask the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, to return her when Allah Almighty revealed what He revealed about believing women.” [i.e. 60:12] (The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, Chapter 67. Book of Expeditions – XXXIII: The expedition of al-Hudaybiyya, (Bewley Translation), online source)

The above reported is also translated by Dr. M. Muhsin Khan.

The Arabic text for the above reports mention the word Rajul fourteen times. “He”, “him”, here the Arabic word used is Rajul. This word according to Arabic-English dictionaries means a “man”:

“رجل rajul pl. … rijal MAN; pl. … rijalat great, important MEN, leading personalities, MEN of distinction | … r. ad-daula statesmen; …
rijali men’s, for men (e. g., apparel) …” (Hans Wehr A Dictionary of Modern written Arabic [Edited by John Milton – Spoken Language Services, Inc. 1976], page 329)

Edward Lane’s Lexicon:

(TA. [See …]) He became a رجل or MAN; he rose to MANHOOD. )See an explanation of …, in what follows.). (Edward Lane’s Lexicon, page 1049, online source,,ll=1086,ls=6,la=1532,sg=413,ha=246,br=364,pr=62,vi=158,mgf=336,mr=245,mn=458,aan=207,kz=802,uqq=115,ulq=767,uqa=143,uqw=586,umr=396,ums=325,umj=274,bdw=339,amr=244,asb=323,auh=607,dhq=196,mht=321,msb=88,tla=51,amj=263,ens=1,mis=1 )

Professor Francis Joseph Steingass:

“…rajul, pl. rijal, rijalat, rijla-t, rajla-t rijala-t, arijil, marjal, MAN; powerful MAN, MAN of great physical strength ; common MAN (opposed to a leader, &c.) …” (English-Arabic Dictionary: For the Use of Both Travellers and Students [LONDON – Crosby Lockwood And Son 7, Stationers Hall Court, Ludgate Hill, E.C.] by Professor Francis Joseph Steingass, page 405)

Arabic-English Dictionary Of Qur’anic Usage:

“… r-j-l a MAN, MANHOOD, masculinity, a foot, a leg, …”
Arabic-English Dictionary Of Qur’anic Usage [Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands, 2008] by Elsaid M. Badawi, Muhammad Abdel Haleem, page 350)

Dictionary And Glossary Of The Kor-an – John Penrice:

“…رجل A MAN,…” (Dictionary And Glossary Of The Kor-an, With Copious Grammatical References And Explanations Of The Text [Adam Publishers & Distributors, Shandar Market Chitli Qabar Delhi-110006., Printed in India, 1991] by John Penrice, B. A., page 56)

Dictionary Of The Holy Qur’an of With References and Explanation of the Text – Malik Ghulam Farid:

“… رجل means also a MAN perfect or complete in respect of bodily vigour. … He is a man among Men, i.e., very strong, perfect or vigorous man. …” (Dictionary Of The Holy Qur’an of With References and Explanation of the Text by Malik Ghulam Farid M. A., page 315 – 316)

A Dictionary Of Egyptian Arabic:

“… raagil/n pl riggaala, rigaal la MAN, ADULT MALE, raagil kibiir, an old MAN. || raagil il beet the master of the house. 1b one distinguished…” (A Dictionary Of Egyptian Arabic – Arabic English [Librairie du Liban, Riad Solh Sqaure, Beirut., 1986] by Martin Hinds & El-Said Badawi, page 327)

Dictionary Of The Holy Qur’an:

“… Rajulun … MALE human being; MAN; … Rajulun … MAN. Rajulan … /rajulain … (n. dual.) TWO MEN. Rijal … (n. plu.): MEN…” (Dictionary Of The Holy Qur’an – Arabic Words – English Meanings (With Notes) – (Classical Arabic Dictionaries Combined) [NOOR Foundation – International Inc., 2010] by Abdul Mannan Omar (Translator) – Subject Codifier Musnad Imam Ahmad Bin Muhammad bin Hanbal, page 203 – 204)

The Easy Dictionary of the Qur’an:

“4036 a right minded MAN … رجل” (The Easy Dictionary of the Qur’an (Compiled in the order of recitation) Compiled [Translated By(Late) AbdurRasheed Kamptee, Dr. Abdulazeez Abdulraheem & Shaikh AbdulGhafoor Parekh – Third Revised English Edition., 2000] by Shaikh AbdulKarim Parekh, page 164, online source )

Bewley and Dr. Muhsin Khan’s translation report shown earlier with the word “he”, “him” in there, is translated elsewhere by non-Muslim academics. For example, in Mishkat Al-Masabih – translated by James Robson, D. Litt., D.D. (Emeritus Professor Of Arabic, The University of Manchester) the word “rajul” is translated as “man”:

“… Meanwhile Budail b. Warqa al-Khuza’I came with some members of Khuza’I and Urwa b. Mas’ud joined him. He went on with the tradition to the point where he said that when Suhail b. Amr came the Prophet said, ‘Write: This is what Muhammad God’s messenger has decided.’ Suhail protested, ‘I swear by God that if we knew you were God’s messenger we would not turn you away from the House or fight with you; but write: Muhammad b. Abdallah.’ The Prophet replied, ‘I swear by God that I am God’s messenger even if you disbelieve me; write Muhammad b. Abdallah.’ Suhail said, ‘And that a MAN will not come to you from us, even if he follows your religion, without your sending him back to us.’ Then when he finished drawing up the document God’s messenger said to his companions, ‘Get up and sacrifice, and shave.’“ (Mishkat Al-Masabih – English Translation With Explanatory Notes [Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, Publishers, Lahore, Pakistan., 1991] by James Robson, D. Litt., D.D. (Emeritus Professor Of Arabic, The University of Manchester), volume II (Vol. 2), page 861 – 862 (Chapter X – Peace.))

This is also the case in the report in “Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya” – translated by Professor Trevor Le Gassick:

“Al-Zuhri states, ‘This relates to his having said, ‘I’ll accept any request they make of me by which the sanctuaries of God are dignified.’
‘The Prophet (SAAS) then said, ‘on condition that you allow us access to the Ka’ba so that we may circumambulate it.’
‘Suhayl objected, ‘By God, we’ll not have the Arabs say that we accepted pressure; however, that can happen next year.’
‘So he wrote it. Suhayl then said, ‘A condition is that any of OUR MEN who come over to you, even if in your religion, you will return to us.’
‘The Muslims said, ‘Goodness gracious, how could someone be returned to the polytheists if he came as a Muslim!’
‘While this discussion was in progress Abu Jandal b. Suhayl b. Amr came along, dragging his chains, having escaped from below Mecca, and threw himself down among the Muslims.
‘Suhayl said, ‘This fellow, Muhammad, is the first whom I charge you to return to me.’ The Prophet (SAAS) said, ‘But we’ve not completed the agreement yet.’ In that case, Suhayl insisted, I’ll never make a pact with you over anything.’ The Prophet (SAAS) then said, ‘Release him to my custody.’ I’ll not release him to you,’ Suhayl said. ‘I insist that you release him!’ That I’ll not do,’ he replied. Mikraz then said, ‘Very well, we’ll release him to you.’” (The Life of the Prophet Muhammed (‘Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya’) [Translated by Professor Trevor Le Gassick, Garnet Publishing – Copyright 2000, The Center for Muslim Contribution To civilization], by Ibn Kathir, volume 3, page 238 – 239. This Hadith is also mention in Sahih Bukhari online source,


Kitab al-Maghazi by Ma’mar Ibn Rashid [Translated by Professor Sean W. Anthony]:

“… And that was due to the Prophet’s declaration, ‘I will grant them any course of action that magnifies the sanctity of God.’
The Prophet said, ‘Let it be stipulated that you grant us access to the Sacred House, so that we may circumambulate it.’
‘We can’t have the Arabs saying that we gave in under pressure; rather, that pilgrimage can wait until next year,’ replied Suhayl. So it was written. Then Suhayl continued, ‘And let it be stipulated that none of our MEN may come to you, even if they have accepted your religion, without you returning them to us.’
‘Glory be to God!’ said the Muslims…” (The Expeditions (“Kitab al-Maghazi”)- An Early Biography Of Muhammad by Ma’mar Ibn Rashid – According to the recension of Abd al-Razzaq al-San’ani [Edited and translated by Sean W. Anthony – Foreword by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem., NEW YORK University Press., 2014], page 35 – 36)

And [1]:

“The Prophet said, ‘I am the Messenger of Allah even though you do not believe me. Write, ‘Muhammad ibn Abdullah.’
He asked Ali to erase what he had written but Ali said, ‘By Allah no, I will not erase it.’
The Messenger of Allah said, ‘Show me the place,’ and he erased it himself. Then he said, ‘This is what the Messenger of Allah agrees provided that you give us leave to perform tawaf of the Ka’bah.’
Suhayk said, ‘By Allah, we will not allow the Arabs to say that we submitted to pressure. It will have to be next year.’ It was also written: ‘On the condition that if any of OUR MEN, even if he has your religion, comes to you, you will return him to us.’ …” (Muhammad The Last Prophet – A Model For All Time [UK Islamic Academy, 1995] by Sayyed Abul Hassan Ali Nadwi, page 118)

With the above evidences shown, we see that it was stipulated that if any men came over to the Quraysh they would not be sent back. With the above in perspective, now we will leave readers with scholars commenting on this incident.

Shaykh Allama Shibli Nu’mani (1857 – 1914 CE):

“The condition that those who fled from Mecca would be returned, related only to men, not to women. Concerning women the following verse was revealed:
‘O you who believe, when believing women come unto you as emigrants, examine them. Allah is the best Knower of their faith. Then if ye know them to be true believers, send them not back unto the infidels, they are not lawful unto them, nor are they lawful unto them. And give them that which they expanded. Nor is it any crime in you if you marry them, when ye have given them their hires. And hold not to the ties of the infidel women, and ask back that which ye have expanded, and let them ask back that which they have expanded. That is the judgment of Allah, He judgeth between you. And Allah is Knowing, Wise.’ (60:10)
The helpless among the Muslims, left at Mecca would often flee to Medina to escape the tortures inflicted by the infidels. The first to flee was Utba Ibn Ubaid (Abu Basir). The Quraish deputed two men to fetch him back. They came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and asked him to return their man. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) advised Utba to go back. …” (Sirat-Un-Nabi (The Life Of The Prophet) [Rendered into English by M. Tayyib Bakhsh Budayuni, Idarah-I Adabiyat-I Delli, 2009 Qasimjan St. Delhi (India)] by Shaykh Allama Shibli Nu’mani, volume 2 (vol. II), page 145 – 146)

Shaykh Safiur Rahman Mubarakpuri:

“The issue of Muhajir women
Shortly after the Treaty of Hudaybia, some Muslim women came to the Prophet seeking asylum, while the pagans demanded their return. The Prophet rejected the pagans demand, saying that the TREATY HAD NOTHING WITH THE WOMEN. …” (When The Moon Split (A Biography Of Prophet Muhammad) [Edited and Translated by Tabassum Siraj, Michael Richardson, Badr Asimabadi, Darussalam – Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh], Compiled by Safiur Rahman Mubarakpuri, page 215)

Scholar Martin Lings (Abu Bakr Siraj ad-Din):

“But the cut festered, and the wound proved to be mortal. He was able, none the less, before he died, to write a letter to his brother Khalid urging him to enter Islam. Only one Muslim woman escaped from Mecca at this time and took refuge in Medina, and that was Uthman’s half-sister, Umm Kulthum, the daughter of his mother Arwa and of Uqbah, who had been put to death on the way from Badr. But a Revelation now came forbidding the return of any believing women to the disbelievers. So when Umm Kulthum’s two full brothers came to take her back, the Prophet refused to let them have her, and QURAYSH ACCEPTED HIS REFUSAL WITHOUT PROTEST. THERE HAD BEEN NO MENTION OF WOMEN IN THE TREATY. Then Zayd and Zubayr and Abd ar-Rahman ibn Awf asked for her hand in marriage, and the Prophet advised her to marry Zayd, which she did.” (Muhammad – His Life Based On The Earliest Sources by Martin Lings, page 258 – 259, online source )

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan:

“It is perhaps easier to arrive at the truth by examining the wording of this particular condition of the pact. Here we quote Bukhari’s version, which may be taken as the most authentic: ‘You will have to return any of our men who come to you, even if they have accepted your faith.’ The expression ‘any of our men’ (rajul) obviously gave Muslims a loophole by which to exclude women from the application of this condition. This condition of the pact had not been put forward by them, but by the Meccans, and the actual wording had been dictated by the delegates of the Quraysh.
It seems that when one of them, called Suhayl ibn Amr, was dictating, he was thinking of both men and women, but that the actual word he chose in order to convey ‘any person’ (inclusive of both men and women) was rajul, which in Arabic is actualy used only for men. Most probably this was why the Prophet could legitimately refuse – according to Imam Zuhri – to hand over Umm Kulthum bint Uqbah to her brothers when they came to him to demand her return.
Razi is another annalist who records the Prophet on this occasion as having explained that “the condition applied to men and NOT to women.” 97 (97. Ibn Hajar al-Athqalani, Fath al-Bari, volume 9, page 345) Thus God, by means of a single word, saved virtuous Muslim women from the humiliation of being returned to their oppressors.” (Woman In Islamic Shari’ah [Goodword Books, 2002] by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, page 102 – 103)

Moulavi Cheragh Ali:

“Females and the Treaty of Hodeibia.
Females were not included in the truce of Hodeibia. The stipulation for the surrender of deserters referred only to the male sex. All women who were to come over to Medina from Mecca during the period of the peace were, by the dictates of Sura LX, 10, to be tried, and if their profession was found sincere, they were to be retained. They were prohibited from marrying the unbelievers. The guardians of such believing females were to receive from the Moslem commonwealth what they had spent upon their charges. …” (A Critical Exposition Of The Popular “Jihad” – Showing That All The Wars Of Mohammad Were Defensive; And That Aggressive War, Or Compulsory Conversion, Is Not Allowed In The Koran. With Appendices – Proving That The Word ‘Jihad’ Does Not Exegetically Mean ‘Warefare,’ And That Slavery Is Not Sanctioned By The Prophet Of Islam [Calcutta: Thacker, Spink And Co., 1885] by Moulavi Cheragh Ali, page 110)

Sayyid Ala Maududi:

“but the reporters have reported its purport in their own words. But since most of the traditions arc of the same nature, the commentators and traditionists generally have understood that the treaty was general, which applied to both men and women, and the women too were to be returned according to it. Later, when this injunction of the Qur’an that the believing women were not to be returned, came to their knowledge, they interpreted it to mean that Allah in this verse had decided to break the treaty in so far as it related to the believing women But this was not an ordinary thing which should be accepted so easily. If the treaty was general, without any exception in respect of men and women, it could not be lawful for one party to amend it unilaterally and change a part of it by itself. And even if such a thing happened, it is strange that the Quraish did not protest against it, whereas they remained on the lookout for an opportunity to raise objections against everything that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah’s peace) and the Muslims did. Had they found that the Holy Prophet had committed a breach of the treaty conditions, they would have raised a loud clamor. But we do not find any trace of it in any tradition that they took an exception to this ruling of the Qur’an. Had this question been carefully considered the problem could have been resolved by reference to the actual words of the treaty. But many people paid no attention they it; if some scholars (e.g Qadi Abu Bakr Ibn al-‘Arabi) did pay any attention, they did not hesitate to say that the reason why the Quraish did not raise any objection was that Allah had miraculously scaled their mouths in this matter. It is strange how these scholars felt satisfied at this explanation.
The fact of the matter is that this condition of the peace treaty had been proposed by the disbelieving Quraish, and not by the Muslims, and the words that Suhail bin ‘Amr, their representative, had-got included in the treaty were: “AND THAT WHICHEVER MAN (RAJUL) come to you from us, even if HE be on your religion, you will return him to us.” These words of the treaty have been reproduced in Bukhari (Kitab ash-Shurut: Bab ash-Shurut fil-Jihad wal-Masalahah) through authentic channels. It may be that Suhail used the word rajul in the meaning of a person, but this might be the meaning he had in his mind. The word written in the treaty was RAJUL, WHICH IS USED FOR A FULL-GROWN MAN IN ARABIC. That is why when the brothers of Umm Kulthum bint ‘Uqbah came to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah’s peace) and demanded her return, (according to Imam Zuhri’s tradition) the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah’s peace) refused return her, saying: “The condition was about the men, not the women. ” (Ibn al- Arabi, Ahkam al-Qur an; Loam Razi, Tafsir Kabir) Until then the people of Quraish themselves were under the delusion that the treaty applied to all kinds of emigrants, men or women; But when the Holy Prophet drew their attention to these words of the treaty, they were struck dumb and had to accept this decision.
According to this condition of the treaty the Muslims had the right to decline return of any woman who emigrated from Makkah to Madinah, for any reason whatever. But Islam was interested only in safeguarding the believing omen and not to make the holy city of Madinah a place of refuge for every kind of female fugitive. Therefore, Allah enjoined: “Ascertain by examination the faith of the women who emigrated to you and profess to have believed; and when it is fully ascertained that they have emigrated with genuine faith, and no other motive, do not return them.” Thus, the procedure adopted for carrying out this Command was was that the women who emigrated were questioned whether they believed in the oneness of Allah and the Prophethood of Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace) and had emigrated only for the sake of Allah and His Messenger, and not out of any worldly consideration, e.g. hatred of the husband, or love of somebody in Madinah, or some other worldly motive. Only those women who gave satisfactory answers to these questions were detained, others were sent back. (Ibn Jarir on the authority of Iba `Abbas, Qatadah, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Ibn Zaid).
In this verse a basic principle of the Law of Evidence also bas been stated and its further clarification has been made by the procedure that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah’s peace) had prescribed for implementing it, The verse enjoins three things:
(1) Examine the faith of the emigrating women who present themselves as believers;
(2) Allah alone knows the truth about their faith; the Muslims have no means to find out whether they have really believed or not; and
(3) when it has been ascertained that they are believers, they are not to be returned.
Then, in accordance with this injunction, the method that the Holy Prophet prescribed for examining and ascertaining the faith of the women was that the statement given by them on oath should be relied on and it should be made sure after necessary examination that they had no other motive of emigration than the Faith. First, it gives the principle that for taking decision on different matters it is not necessary for the court to have direct knowledge of the truth; for the court only that knowledge is sufficient which is obtained through evidence. Second, the statement given by a person on oath will be regarded as reliable until it is proved to be false by a clear evidence. Third, whatever declaration a person himself may make about his creed and faith, will be accepted and no search will be made into finding out, whether what he states actually constitutes his faith or not, unless there is a clear indication to the contrary. And fourth, in the personal affairs of a person, which no one else can know, his own statement will be trusted. e.g. in the matters of divorce and the waiting period (iddat) the woman’s own statement about her menstrual course and state of purity will be regarded as reliable, whether it is true or false. According to these very rules, in the science of the Hadith also, those traditions will be accepted, the apparent state of whose reporters testifies to their being righteous, unless, of course, there are other circumstances which forbid the acceptance of a particular tradition.” (Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi – Tafhim al-Qur’an – The Meaning of the Qur’an – online source, )

Conclusion, there is no doubt with the abundant evidence presented that the part of the treaty was only in regards to men.

Related articles:

(1) – “A Historical Examination Of The Sword Verse – Surah 9:5”

(2) – “Early Expeditions And Battles Of Islam”

(3) – “Most Misinterpreted Verses Of The Quran?”

(4) – “The Hadith ‘…Fight Until They Say There Is No god But Allah’ Explained”

(5) – “Revisiting ‘I Have Been Commanded To Fight…’ Hadith”

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[1] Kitab Futuh al-Buldan:
The cause of its invasion. When the Prophet made arrangements with the Kuraish in the year of al-Hudaibiyah and wrote down the statement of the truce to the effect that he who desires to make a covenant with Muhammad can do so, and he who desires to make a covenant with Kuraish can do so; and that HE of the Companions of the Prophet comes to Kuraish should not be returned, and HE of the banu-Kuraish or their allies who comes to the Prophet be returned, then those of Kinanah who were present rose and said, ‘We will enter into a covenant with Kuraish, and accept their terms’; but Khuza’ah said, ‘We will enter into the covenant of Muhammad and his contract.’ …” (The origins of the Islamic State, being a translation from the Arabic accompanied with annotations Geographic and historic notes of the Kitab Futuh Al-Buldan of al-Imam Abu’l Abbas Ahmad Ibn Jabir Al Baladhuri, [Translated by Phillip Khurti Hitti, PHD – NEW YORK: Columbia University, Longmans, Green & Co., Agents – London: P. S. King & Son. Ltd., 1916], volume 1, page 60)

“Beat” – Surah 4:34 Explained

Kaleef K. Karim

Disclaimer: This article is by no means a defense of domestic violence, but a comprehensive elucidation on the Quranic verse (S. 4:34), explaining the verse in question in great detail, using the Quran, Hadith, Muslim and non-Muslim Scholarly evidence so that readers understand the verse and its implications more thoroughly.


1. Introduction
2. Qawwamuna – ‘Protectors and maintainers’
3. The Arabic word ‘Nushuz’
4. The Connection of Nushuz And Fahishah Mubayyina In The Farewell Sermon Hadith
5. The Prophet Muhammed’s Conduct With His Wives
6. Speaking to your wife (1) and then separating beds (2)
7. The Arabic word “Daraba”
8. Non-Muslim Academics on Surah 4:34
9. Classical Scholars: ‘Do Not Hit Your Wife’
10. Physical Violence: A Right Of Divorce
11. Domestic Violence: Compensating The Wife – Punishing The Husband
12. LAW – Legal Frameworks Addressing Domestic Violence In Muslim Majority Countries
13. The Quran And Prophetic Statements On Wives
14. Conclusion

1. Introduction

“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel (strength) the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and GUARD in the husband’s absence what ALLAH ORDERS THEM TO GUARD. As to those women on whose part you SEE INFIDELITY (NUSHUZAHUNNA), admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly), but if they return to obedience, seek not against them. Surely, Allah is Ever Most High, Most Great.” – Quran 4:34

Some have cited the Quranic verse Surah 4:34 – as evidence that the Quran advocates and endorses wife abuse, despite the Prophet Muhammed’s example to the contrary.

This very well-known verse is cited often claiming that physical violence against one’s wife is endorsed by the Quranic verse if the husband feels that there is clear evident “Nushuz”. Nushuz according to some scholars and critics means that a simple argument or the wife raises her voice warrants the prescription described in S. 4:34. Indeed such an interpretation is problematic and against the very nature of the Quran and Prophetic model and conduct.

Over the years I have personally had a hard time as a believer understanding the verse under discussion. I felt uneasy speaking about the verse (S. 4:34) with other people, and often questioned it in my own mind why would God Almighty in All His Mercy reveal this on a wife. My own uneasiness of speaking about the verse may be due to the upbringing or the 21st century World we are living in. I firmly believe that God is Just and every verse of the Quran is a blessing. Other religious followers have their own fair share of debates and often question verses from their own sacred scriptures.

In any religious scripture, there is indeed verses where a believer and follower of that faith may feel unease at certain injunctions and orders laid out. The Bible has got his fair share of things that are deemed in today’s society to be shocking or for the believer to question and often even rejecting the literal interpretation of the reading. There is a verse in the Old Testament, for example, if a wife grabs hold of a man’s private parts defending and helping her husband out in a fight is ordered by the Bible to have her hand cut off. [1] There is the disciplining of the children in the Old Testament, where a disobedient child is ordered to be beaten with a rod (stick) until he/she comes back and listens to the father and mother. Some Christian believers have rejected this injunction and argue that it is part of the Old Testament and they are ordered to follow the New Testament. They are not obliged to follow Old Testament laws since Jesus came to abrogate it, as they argue. Other Christian scholars, Priests, and their fellow believers argue to the contrary and say that the verse of physical disciplining of one’s child is a good thing and parents should use the prescriptions described in the Bible. [2] Away from the Old Testament, there is an even more infamous verse from the New Testament, dubbed by some scholars to be an endorsement of “marital rape”. [3] The verse orders that a Christian wife has got no rights over her own private parts, and a man could go into her wife without the consent of her wife. Academics often have pointed out that the verse orders the wife to submit to the husband’s desires whenever he so wishes, and she cannot deny her husband that right. Indeed these verses are difficult for present day believers to understand. Is a present day believer going to reject these verses or are you going to interpret them to reflect today’s world? Are God’s Words to be followed and implemented forever or are they left to the society and environment these sacred passages were revealed in? These are difficult questions for a believer to answer, how we go about explaining them is left to the individual at the end of the day.

In this article, we will aim to answer the question of what is the true historical understanding for Surah 4:34? Does the verse give a husband a license to discipline his wife physically whenever he so wishes? A conclusion will be drawn by examining the reasons against this interpretation. We will aim to give earliest historical pieces of evidence backing our position that this interpretation is alien to the Prophetic model and conduct. We will aim to give a more plausible and more likely interpretation of S. 4:34 which mirrors how the Prophet Muhammed (p) himself originally understood it.

In order to understand Surah 4:34 we will go through three channels to find out its true historical meaning:

Tafsir of the Quran 4:34, let the Quran naturally explain itself i.e., having a closer examination of the words.
Tafsir of the Quran 4:34 in light of the Prophetic statements i.e., Hadith.
Tafsir of Quran 4:34 in light of the statement from companions of Prophet Muhammed (p) and the latter classical scholars.

With the above three routes, we will aim to understand the verse (S. 4:34) in its true sense.

2. Qawwamuna – ‘Protectors and maintainers’

The passage begins by stating that men are ‘protectors and maintainers’ of wives. I would like to highlight here that the verse does not say that men are superior to their wives in the sense of being a master or dictator over them. The Arabic word ‘qawwamuna’ used at the start of the verse literally means that men are “protectors and maintainers”. Dr. Ahmed K. Nazir comments on the word ‘Qawwam’ (‘qawwamuna’) in his book, he writes:

“Some quote the verse 4:34 (Men are the protectors and maintainers of women…) to say that, in Islam, men are the bosses of women. This phrase does not mean that men are the rulers or commanders of women. As human beings, Islam gives equal status to both men and women. This phrase means that men are protectors of wives and they are responsible to spend their money for the support of wives. The Arabic word ‘Qawwam’ (protectors) means ‘One who stands firm in another’s business, protects his interests, and looks after his affairs: or it may be, standing form in his own business, managing affairs, with a steady purpose.’” (Dispositions: Gazing Into the Amazing, Colorful, Global Crystal of Human Life [2009] by Dr. Ahmed K. Nazir M.D., page 108)

Thus, the Arabic word ‘Qawwamanu’ means, ‘to guard’, ‘protect’, ‘maintain’, and to take care of their wives. The claim made by some that “men are masters over their wives” is not supported from the verse. Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Religion: Q-Z also gives the meaning of the Arabic word Qawwam,

“Qawwam: Qawwam or qayyim is a person responsible for administering or supervising the affairs of either an individual or an organization, for protecting and safeguarding them and taking care of their needs.” (Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Religion: Q-Z [2005] by Dr. Ramesh Chopra, page 623)

Professor Abdur Rahman I. Doi:

“Allah informs us in this verse that men are Qawwamun i.e., protectors and maintainers of women. THE WORD QAWWAMUN SIGNIFIES A PERSON WHO TAKES THE RESPONSIBILITY OF SAFEGUARDING THE INTEREST OF ANOTHER. This position comes to men are opposed to women not only because, generally speaking, they have more physical strength and greater capacity for hard work…” (Shari’ah – Islamic Law [Revised and expanded Abdassamad Clarke – Ta-Ha Publishers LTD – Second Revised Edition, 2013] by Abd ar-Rahman I. Doi, page 216)

Islamic scholar Mufti Taqi Usmani (b. 1943):

“Now coming to the word used for men to lead, Allah Almighty has not used words like ‘king’, ‘ruler’, ‘owner’ or ‘lord’. He has used the word ‘Qawwaam’ (قوام) which REFERS TO THAT PERSON WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR SOME TASK WHICH DOES NOT AT ALL MEAN THAT HE OWNS THE WOMAN IN ANY WAY POSSIBLE. In Islam, the ruler is not one who sits on the throne and rules but a ruler is as defined by the Prophet (ﷺ):

سيد القوم خادمهم.
‘The leader of the nation is their SERVANT.’ (Kanz ul-A’maal, Hadith no. 17517)

In today’s time when we hear the word ‘ruler’, we get the image of a king or a big leader who do not even like to speak to their subjects and not consider speaking to them worthy of their honor but the LEADER AS PER QUR’AN AND HADITH IS ONE WHO SERVES and not the one who merely issues orders and seeks to enforce them.” (“Women in Islam: Are they subservient to men?” [Translated by Adeel T. Khan] by Mufti Taqi Usmani, online source (Last accessed, 7th February, 2017) )

We can see that the word ‘Qawwamuna’ is someone who is a ‘protector and maintainer’ of a wife. A man who is financially responsible for the family. God Almighty has assigned men the role, to be a maintainer and guardian of the household, taking care of the wife’s needs i.e., food on the plate, clothing, shelter and protecting her physically and emotionally when she is down. The men are ordered in the Quran to treat their wives with dignity, kindness and are commanded that they should be protected when they feel low. In a Muslim society, the husband has full responsibility for the maintenance of his family. This is not only a moral but also a legal obligation. Anything a wife earns is her own to dispose of, either to use it herself or to contribute it to the family budget if she wishes to do so.

3. The Arabic word ‘Nushuz’

The Quranic verse hints to us that Nushuz here entails something to do with cheating. The words “Hafizatun Lil-Ghaybi Bima Hafiza” (“guarding in the unseen that which (orders) them to guard” straight after comes Nushuz. Nushuz here is connected to unfaithfulness in marriage i.e., sexual sin. It orders the wife to guard her chastity while the husband is away. In basic English terminology God commands the wife to safeguard herself and not cheat behind her husband’s back:

“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel (strength) the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and GUARD in the husband’s absence what ALLAH ORDERS THEM TO GUARD. As to those women on whose part you SEE INFIDELITY (NUSHUZAHUNNA), admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly), but if they return to obedience, seek not against them. Surely, Allah is Ever Most High, Most Great.” – Quran 4:34

The words “Hafizatun Lil-Ghaybi Bima Hafiza”, means the wife is told to guard the chastity of the marriage. In basic words, they don’t cheat on their husband. In this specific verse (4:34) we see that the words “Hafizatun Lil-Ghaybi Bima Hafiza” and Nushuz have a clear connection and are related to this article under discussion. Those words in the verse of the Quran here orders the wife to protect her chastity. Nusuhuz and the previous word are interconnected in order to understand the verse historically.

Another word which stands out under careful examination is “fear”. The verse starts off with telling the husband, “if you fear” (“Wa-Allati Takhafuna”/”وَاللَّاتِي تَخَافُونَ”) Nushuz. How are we determine what this means? In order to answer this, we need to ask the following question, what is there that would make a husband fear and make him worry about his wife the most in a relationship? Does shouting, raising one’s voice or have verbal discord at home sound like this suits the verse? No! The most logical explanation here is that the fear is in regards to evident cheating on the wife’s part. If you ask any husband what would make them fear or worry about their spouse doing? They would naturally say a wife being unfaithful, cheating behind his back. Committing adultery. Some of the Quran translations have alluded to this (“disloyalty” and “infidelity“):

Yusuf Ali (Orig. 1938):
“As to those women on whose part ye fear DISLOYALTY…” – Q. 4:34

Yusuf Ali (Saudi Rev. 1985)
“As to those women on whose part ye fear DISLOYALTY…” – Q. 4:34

Wahiduddin Khan (Edition, 2013)
“As for those from whom you apprehend INFIDELITY…” – Q. 4:34

Syed Vickar Ahamed (Edition, 2007):
“As to those women on whose part you fear DISLOYALTY…” – Q. 4:34

Talal A. Itani (New Translation. 2012):
“As for those from whom you fear DISLOYALTY…” – Q. 4:34

Bilal Muhammad (2013 Edition):
“As for those whom you suspect DISLOYALTY…” – Q. 4:34

We have gathered the following facts from Quran 4:34,

1. “Hafizatun Lil-Ghaybi Bima Hafiza” orders the wife to guard her chastity, basically not to cheat.
2. If you fear (“Wa-Allati Takhafuna”/”وَاللَّاتِي تَخَافُونَ”) Nushuz, further shows that the order in the verse is in relation to a unfaithful and a cheating wife.

A clarification for some our readers: nushuz part, equating it with adultery but this is not necessarily only that. A husband finding his wife walking with a man holding his hand or just kissing would also fall under this definition of Nushuz. Or whenever the man returns home, he finds a man walking out the back door which results him doubting his wife also falls under this term.

In this section, we have clarified from the Quran’s point of view that Nushuz is connected to cheating on the wife’s part.

4. The Connection of Nushuz And Fahishah Mubayyina In The Farewell Sermon Hadith

The Prophetic statement recorded in a number of Hadith connects Nushuz to infidelity (adultery). The Arabic word Nushuz is connected to “Fahisha” (“بِفَاحِشَةٍ”). In the Prophet Muhammed’s farewell sermon (“Khutbat al-Wadaa”) we are told that he ordered his people to be kind to their wives. And if they are guilty of Fahisha Mubayyinah or seen a man on his bed with his wife (cheating) he is allowed (or the courts) lightly to beat his wife, without leaving any marks:

“It was narrated that: Sulaiman bin Amr bin Ahwas said: “My father told me that he was present at the Farewell Pilgrimage with the Messenger of Allah. He praised and glorified Allah, and reminded and exhorted (the people). Then he said: ‘I ENJOIN GOOD TREATMENT OF WOMEN, for they are prisoners with you, and you have no right to treat them otherwise, unless THEY COMMIT CLEAR INDECENCY (FAHISHA MUBAYYINA/”بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُبَيِّنَةٍ”). IF THEY DO THAT, then forsake them in their beds and hit them, but without causing injury or leaving a mark. If they obey you, then do not seek means of annoyance against them. You have rights over your women and your women have rights over you. Your rights over your women are that they are not to allow anyone whom you dislike to TREAD ON YOUR BEDDING, NOR ALLOW ANYONE WHOM YOU DISLIKE TO ENTER YOUR HOUSES. And their right over you are that you should treat them kindly with regard to their clothing and food.’ ” (Sunan Ibn Majah volume 3, Book 9, Hadith 1851, Eng. Tran., Sahih Darussalam

Jami at-Tirmidhi:

“Sulaiman bin Amr bin Al-Ahwas said: “My father narrated to me that he witnessed the farewell Hajj with the Messenger of Allah. So he thanked and praised Allah and he reminded and gave admonition. He mentioned a story in his narration and he (the Prophet) said: “And indeed I ORDER YOU TO BE GOOD TO THE WOMEN, for they are but captives with you over whom you have no power than that, except IF THEY COME WITH MANIFEST FAHISHAH (“بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُبَيِّنَةٍ”). If they do that, then abandon their beds and beat them with a beating THAT IS NOT HARMFUL (“وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ ضَرْبًا غَيْرَ مُبَرِّحٍ”). And if they obey you then you have no cause against them. Indeed you have rights over your women, and your women have rights over you. As for your rights over your women, then they must not allow anyone whom you dislike TO TREAT ON YOUR BEDDING, NOR TO ADMIT ANYONE IN YOUR HOME THAT YOU DISLIKE. And their rights over you are that you treat them well in clothing them and feeding them.” (Jami` at-Tirmidhi volume 1, Book 7, Hadith 1163. Eng. Tran., Sahih Darussalam )

Jami at-Tirmidhi:

“Narrated Sulaiman bin ‘Amr bin Al-Ahwas: “My father narrated to me that he attended the Farewell Hajj with the Messenger of Allah. He expressed his gratitude to Allah and praised Him, and reminded and exhorted, then he said: ‘Which day is most sacred? Which day is most sacred? Which day is most sacred?’ He said: “So the people said: ‘The day of Al-Hajj Al-Akbar O Messenger of Allah!’ So he said: ‘Indeed, your blood, your wealth, your honor, is as sacred for you as the sacredness of this day of yours, in this city of yours, in this month of yours. Behold! None commits a crime but against himself, none offends a father for a son, nor a son for a father. Behold! … Behold! I ORDER YOU TO TREAT WOMEN WELL, for they are but like captives with you, you have no sovereignty beyond this over them, unless they MANIFEST LEWDNESS (FAHISHA MUBAYYINA/“ بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُبَيِّنَةٍ”). If they do that, then abandon their beds, and beat them with a beating THAT IS NOT PAINFUL (“وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ ضَرْبًا غَيْرَ مُبَرِّحٍ”). Then if they obey you, then there is no cause for you against them beyond that. Behold! There are rights for you upon your women, and rights for your women upon you. As for your rights upon them, then they ARE NOT TO ALLOW ANYONE ON YOUR BEDDING whom you dislike, nor permit anyone whom your dislike in your homes. Behold! Indeed their rights upon you are that you treat them well in clothing them and feeding them.’” (Jami at-Tirmidhi volume 5, Book 44, Hadith 3087. Eng. Tran., Hasan Darussalam

Imam Nasir al-Din Abu al-Khair Abdullah Ibn Umar al-Baydawi (d. 1286):

“You have a right over your women. [The right] is yours that they should not cause anyone you dislike to TREAD YOUR BEDS [la yuti’na furusha-kum/”أَلاَّ يُوطِئْنَ فُرُشَكُمْ”] and that they should not commit an open IMMORAL ACT (FAHISHAH MUBAYYINAH). If they do, God permits you to break off relations with them in beds and to beat them, but not severely. If they finally desist they shall have their maintenance and clothing in accordance with custom (bi-‘l-ma’ruf)” (Commentarius in Koranum, [Edition H. C. Fleischer, Leipzig, 1846-8], by Nasir al-Din Abu al-Khair Abdullah Ibn Umar al-Baydawi, page 121)

The Hadith recorded in Sunan al-Kubra by Abu Bakr Ahmed Ibn al-Hussayn al-Bayhaqi (994 – 1066), the words from Surah 4:34 is clearly mentioned in the farewell sermon:

“Fear Allah concerning your women, indeed they have rights over you and you have rights over them. THEY SHOULD NOT GIVE YOUR BEDS [FURUSHAKUM/” فُرُشَكُمْ”] TO ANYONE OTHER THAN YOU and they should not permit anyone you dislike into your houses [Buyutikum/” بُيُوتِكُمْ”]. IF YOU FEAR NUSHUZ from them, then admonish them, and abandon them in the bed, and hit them without causing extreme pain [Ghair Mubarrih/” غَيْرَ مُبَرِّحٍ”] (Quran 4:34). And their rights over you is that you provide for them and clothe them in a manner that is good. Indeed you have taken them as a trust from Allah, since you seek to make their private parts permissible to you with Allah’s word, and the one who has a trust must return it to the one who entrusted it to him.” (Sunan al-Kubra [Beirut – Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyya, 1994], by Abu Bakr Ahmed Ibn al-Hussayn al-Bayhaqi, volume 2, page 257)

So what exactly does the Arabic word “Fahisha” mean? According to Arabic-English dictionaries the word carries the meaning of “whoredom”, “harlot”, “Adultery”, “illicit sexual intercourse”, “fornicates”, and “fornication”. [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16]

The companions of Prophet Muhammed (p) and the Tabi’een (individuals who did not meet the Prophet but met his companions)  such as, Abdullah bin Masud (d. 650), Ibn Abbas (619 – 687), Sa’id bin Al-Musayyib (637 – 715), Ash-Sha’bi (d. 722-23), Al-Hasan (d. 728), Ibn Sirin (653 – 733), Mujahid (642 – 722), Ikrimah (d. 723), Sa’id bin Jubayr (665 – 714), Abu Qilabah (d. 722-23), Abu Salih, Ad-Dahhak (d. 723), Zayd bin Aslam (d. 753), Ata Al-Khurasani (670 – 752), As-Suddi (d. 745), Sa’id bin Hilal and others have said that ‘Fahisa Mubayyina’ means “adultery” or advancing sexual desire or lust (cheating) to another man. [17] [18] [19] [20] [21]

The basic order of the Prophetic statement is that a wife should not allow any but the husband to tread the bed nor enter the house, nor should she commit an immoral act – not to cheat. Nushuz in light of Prophet’s Muhammed’s (p) statement means a wife that is caught bringing a man into the husband’s bed or committing an immoral act or advancing sexual lust to another man. [22] [23]

It is a husband’s nature, especially in a patriarchal society when this verse was revealed, over thirteen hundred years ago if he caught a man in his bed with his wife, he would do something that may endanger the life of her wife and the man caught in the act. The husband may take such an action that may lead to injury or even death of the man and his wife. There have been many cases where men have caught their wives cheating and it has led to the death of women in the Western world. Many heinous cases have been reported in the Western World where a husband has taken the life of his wife due to suspicion of her cheating. [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35] [36] Just a case recently where a woman was talking to another man, the husband (Robert Bance) saw the two talking to each other in the pub, he lost it and ended up stabbing his wife 20 times for merely talking. [37] The Quran and the Prophet (p) categorically condemns and prohibits such evil actions. But sadly this happens all around the world.

God in all his Mercy Knows that it was in the nature of patriarchal male that if he saw his wife advancing sexual attention or caught cheating the man in the vast majority of cases would take to harm his wife and the man. The steps categorized in Surah 4:34 was a way to prevent the man from harming his wife. It was of controlling the anger of the man. It was steps in anger management.

The first step that was utilized in this, was to approach the wife and advise her with words where there are issues at home in relation to arguments or any other matter. If she continues causing distress and arguments and feuds continue, the husband is to separate the bed, not sleep with her. This way the husband was giving her the time to calm down, reflect and sort things out as adults. The Quran’s last resort is in relation to evident cheating of the wife only. This last step was understood as to hit lightly in the case of clear evident adultery. Scholars like Ibn Ashur, Khaled Abu Fadl, Dr. Shabir Ally and others have pointed out that the light hit (Dharb Ghayr Mubarrih) the wife receives is meted out by the courts. The husband is not allowed to touch her. They use the Quranic evidence from 4:34-35 to point out that is the courts who inflict such a punishment, not the husband. [38] [39]

With the above in perspective, one can safely say with the evidences presented that Nushuz is connected to Fahisha. Which is the stage wherein it refers to unwarranted behaviour on the wife where she is making sexual advances to another party – be that in the house or outside or clear evident adultery.

5. The Prophet Muhammed’s Conduct With His Wives

Some have argued that a simple argument, or the wife being harsh means that the husband can use physical force. Although some have interpreted Nushuz as a wife who disobeys her husband in regards to arguing with her husband or having disputes – this interpretation is alien to the Prophet Muhammed. The wives of the Prophet (p) did not hesitate to speak their mind when there were issues. For the Prophet (p) to connect Nushuz to Fahisha Mubayyina is clear, that Surah 4:34 relates to sexual advances or the wife caught cheating (adultery). There are numerous instances where the Prophet (p) had disputes and his wife annoying him, where he would not speak to them for days. He did not lash out or raise his hand against them. There is a number of famous Hadith reports where some of the wives shout, throwing mood swings and arguing with the Prophet (p). At times Hafsa, the Prophet’s wife used to argue to the extend of upsetting him, yet he kept cool [40]:

“Narrated Ibn `Abbas: For one year I wanted to ask `Umar about the two women who helped each other against the Prophet but I was afraid of him. One day he dismounted his riding animal and went among the trees of Arak to answer the call of nature, and when he returned, I asked him and he said, “(They were) `Aisha and Hafsa.” Then he added, “We never used to give significance to ladies in the days of the Pre-lslamic period of ignorance, but when Islam came and Allah mentioned their rights, we used to give them their rights but did not allow them to interfere in our affairs. Once there was some DISPUTE BETWEEN ME AND MY WIFE AND SHE ANSWERED ME BACK IN A LOUD VOICE. I said to her, ‘Strange! You can retort in this way?’ She said, ‘Yes. Do you say this to me while your daughter TROUBLES ALLAH’S MESSENGER?’ So I went to Hafsa and said to her, ‘I warn you not to DISOBEY ALLAH AND HIS APOSTLE.’ I first went to Hafsa and then to Um Salama and told her the same. She said to me, ‘O `Umar! It surprises me that you interfere in our affairs so much that you would poke your nose even into the affairs of Allah’s Messenger and his wives.’ So SHE REJECTED MY ADVICE. … A great event has happened!’ I asked him, ‘What is it? Has the Ghassani (king) come?’ He said, ‘Greater than that! Allah’s Messenger has divorced his wives! I went to them and found all of them weeping in their dwellings, and the Prophet had ascended to an upper room of his. At the door of the room there was a slave to whom I went and said, “Ask the permission for me to enter.” He admitted me and I entered to see the Prophet lying on a mat that had left its imprint on his side. Under his head there was a leather pillow stuffed with palm fires. Behold! There were some hides hanging there and some grass for tanning. THEN I MENTIONED WHAT I HAD SAID TO HAFSA AND UM SALAMA and what reply Um Salama had given me. Allah’s Messenger SMILED AND STAYED THERE FOR TWENTY NINE DAYS AND THEN CAME DOWN.” (Sahih al-Bukhari volume 7, Book 72, Hadith 734. Eng. Tran. )

Sahih Muslim

“Abdullah b. Abbas reported: …He (the narrator) stated that ‘Umar had said: By Allah, during the days of ignorance we had no regard for women until Allah the Exalted revealed about them what He has revealed, and appointed (turn) for them what he appointed. He said: It so happened that I was thinking about some matter that my wife said: I wish you had done that and that. I said to her: It does not concern you and you should not feel disturbed in a matter which I intend to do. She said to me: How strange is it that you, O son of Khattab, do not like anyone to retort upon you, whereas YOUR DAUGHTER RETORTS UPON ALLAH’S MESSENGER UNTIL HE SPENDS THE DAY IN VEXATION. ‘Umar said: I took hold of my cloak, then came out of my house until I visited Hafsa and said to her: O daughter, (I HEARD) THAT YOU RETORT UPON ALLAH’S MESSENGER UNTIL HE SPENDS THE DAY IN VEXATION, WHEREUPON HAFSA SAID: BY ALLAH, WE DO RETORT UPON HIM. I said: You should bear in mind, my daughter, that I warn you against the punishment of Allah and the wrath of His Messenger. You may not be misled by one whose beauty has fascinated her, and the love of Allah’s Messenger for her. I (‘Umar) then visited Umm Salama because of my relationship with her and I talked to her. Umm Salama said to me: Umar b. al-Khattab, how strange is it that you meddle with every matter so much so that you are anxious to interfere between Allah’s Messenger and his wives, and this perturbed me so much that I refrained from saying what I had to say, so I came out of her apartment, and I had a friend from the Anar. … My friend, the Ansari, came to me, and he knocked at the door and said: Open it, open it. I said: Has the Ghassani come? He said: (The matter is) more serious than that. The Messenger of Allah HAS SEPARATED HIMSELF FROM HIS WIVES. I said: Let the nose of Hafsa and ‘A’isha be besmeared with dust. I then took hold of my cloth and went out until I came and found Allah’s Messenger in his attic to which he climbed by means of a ladder made of date-palm, and the servant of Allah’s Messenger who was black had been sitting at the end of the ladder. I said: This is Umar. So permission was granted to me. I narrated this news to Allah’s Messenger and as I NARRATED THE NEWS CONCERNING UMM SALAMA, ALLAH’S MESSENGER SMILED. ….” (Sahih Muslim Book 9, Hadith 3508 )

Sahih Muslim:

“I wish if you had seen how we the people of Quraish had domination over women but when we came to Medina we found people whom THEIR WOMEN DOMINATED. So our women began to learn from their women. One day I became angry with MY WIFE AND SHE BEGAN TO RETORT UPON ME. I did not approve that she should retort upon me. She said: You do not like that I should retort upon you, but, by Allah, THE WIVES OF ALLAH’S APOSTLE RETORT UPON HIM AND ANY ONE OF THEM SEPARATES HERSELF FROM HIM FOR A DAY UNTIL NIGHT. I said: He who did that amongst them in fact failed and incurred loss. Does any of them feel safe from the wrath of Allah upon her due to the wrath of Allah’s Messenger, and she has certainly perished. ALLAH’S MESSENGER SMILED, I said: Messenger of Allah, I visited Hafsa and said: (THE BEHAVIOUR) of your companion (‘A’isha) may not mislead you, If she is more graceful than you and is dearer to Allah’s Messenger than you. Allah’s Messenger SMILED for the second time. … I said: Allah’s Messenger! seek pardon for me. And he (Allah’s Messenger) had taken an oath that he would not visit them for a month DUE TO EXTREME ANNOYANCE with them until Allah showed His displeasure to him (Allah’s Messenger).” Sahih Muslim Book 9, Hadith 3511. Eng Tran. )

In the first report, it mentions where we are told that the Prophet Muhammed (p) isolated himself for 29 days, and he returned to his wives. Aishah (ra) informed the Prophet that he returned one day early, and it is not 30 days yet. The Prophet smiled and told her that there are 29 days in some months in a year. The purpose of it here is that the Prophet (p) loved his wives so much so that he wanted to get back to them. He didn’t demand them to apologise for what was said to him prior.

In another similar version, Umar Ibn Khattab was about to raise his hand against his daughter Hafsa for upsetting the Prophet. Prophet Muhammed (p) immediately walks in and did not allow him to touch her:

“Hafsa, like A’isha with whom she became close friends, was never at a loss for words, and was not afraid to argue with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who was content to allow her to say what she thought. One day, while speaking to Hafsa’s mother Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “I think I shall so and so.” Whereupon his wife replied, “But it would be better if you did such and such.” “Are you arguing with me, woman?” said Umar who was a fierce man who did not expect his wives to talk back at him. “Why not?” she answered. “Your daughter KEEPS ARGUING WITH THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH UNTIL SHE UPSETS HIM FOR THE WHOLE DAY.” Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) immediately put on his cloak and went directly to his daughter’s house. “Is it true that you argue with the Messenger of Allah?” he asked. “INDEED I DO.” She replied. Umar was just about to chastise her for what he considered were bad manners, when THE PROPHET (PEACE AND BLESSINGS OF ALLAH BE UPON HIM) CAME INTO THE ROOM AND WOULD NOT ALLOW HIM TO EVEN TOUCH HER. So Umar went round to visit Umm Salama, to whom Umar was related in order to try and influence Hafsa’s behavior through her.
“I wonder at you, Ibn Khattab,” she said, after she had listened to him. “You have interfered in everything. Will you now interfere between the Messenger of Allah and his wives?” Sayiduna Umar when relating this incident, continued, “And she kept after me until she made me give up much of what I thought proper.’” (Muhammad’s Life – The Wives of the Prophet Muhammad, by Ibn Kathir, [translated by Sheikh Muhammad Gemeiah, Office of the Grand Imam, Sheikh Al Azhar, Edited by: Aelfwine Acelas Mischler], Online source )

A similar incident is also reported between Aisha and the Prophet (p) [41]:

“It is narrated by Nu‘man ibn Basheer: Abu Bakr came and sought permission to enter the Prophet’s house. He heard ‘A’ISHAH RAISING HER VOICE OVER THAT OF THE PROPHET’S. After being permitted, he entered, got hold of her, and said: O daughter of Umm Rooman, why are you raising your voice over that of the Messenger of Allah? The Prophet intervened and PREVENTED HIM FROM HITTING HIS DAUGHTER. When Abu Bakr left, the Prophet consoled her and said: Did you see how I saved you from him? After a while, Abu Bakr returned, sought permission to enter, and this time he saw the PROPHET JOKING AND LAUGHING WITH ‘A’ISHAH. Abu Bakr said: O Messenger of Allah, allow me to be part of your peace, just as you have allowed me to be part of your conflict.” (Related by Ahmed, graded as hasan) (The prophet Mohammad The Best of All Husbands (“Al-Nabi Sallahu Alayhi Wa-Sallam Zawja”) [Translated by Najwa Jaffer] by Dr. Ghazi al-Shammari, page 35 – 36)

There is also the incident of Aisha deliberately breaking a bowl of food out of jealousy in front of Prophet Muhammed (p) and his companions:

Anas narrated: “One of the wives of the Prophet gave the Prophet some food in a bowl. Then ‘Aishah broke the bowl with her hand, and discarded what was in it. So the Prophet said: “Food for food and vessel for vessel.” (Jami at-Tirmidhi, volume 3, Book 13, Hadith 1359. Eng. Tran., Sahih Darussalam

In another version, it is said that a bowl was struck deliberately so that it breaks. The Prophet (p) calmly picks up the food:

“Anas said: “The Prophet was with one of the Mothers of the Believers when another one sent a wooden bowl in which was some food. SHE STRUCK THE HAND OF THE PROPHET AND THE BOWL FELL AND BROKE. The Prophet picked up the two pieces and put them together, then he started to gather up the food and said: ‘YOUR MOTHER GOT JEALOUS; EAT.’ SO THEY ATE. He waited until she brought the wooden bowl that was in her house, then he gave the sound bowl to the messenger and left the broken bowl in the house of the one who had broken it.” (Sunan an-Nasa’i volume 4, Book 36, Hadith 3407. Eng. Tran. Sahih (Darussalam )


“It was narrated that Anas bin Malik said: “The Prophet was with one of the Mothers of the Believers (his wives) and another (wife) sent a bowl containing food. SHE (THE FIRST WIFE) STRUCK THE HAND OF THE MESSENGER OF AND THE BOWL FELL AND BROKE. THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH TOOK THE TWO PIECES AND PUT THEM BACK TOGETHER, THEN HE STARTED GATHERING UP THE FOOD and putting it in (the bowl). HE SAID: ‘YOUR MOTHER WAS JEALOUS. EAT.’ So they ate, and she (the wife who broke the bowl) brought the bowl that was in her house and gave the intact bowl to the Messenger, who left the broken bowl in the house of the one who broke it.” (Sunan Ibn Majah volume 3, Book 13, Hadith 2334. Eng. Tran. Sahih Darussalam )

What sort of a husband today would tolerate such an act? Here we see Prophet Muhammed (p) calmly picking up the food and eating it without reprimanding his wife.

The qualities of mercy, kindness, and leniency and patience in the Prophet Muhammed’s personality are best exhibited in his relationship with his wives and this can be seen in the following example also:

“It is narrated by Anas: Every night, the Prophet’s wives used to collect in the house of the wife whose turn it was. Zaynab entered ‘Aishah’s house and the Prophet extended his hand, so ‘Aishah said: She is Zaynab. So the Prophet closed his fist, and both (wives) began arguing until their voices became very loud. Abu Bakr, who was passing by, heard them and said: I feel like throwing dirt in their mouths. The time for prayer approached, so the Prophet got up and left without saying anything to her, but Abu Bakr came back and scolded ‘Aishah. (Sahih Muslim Book 8, Hadith 3450 Eng. Tran., )

The Prophet’s patience can be seen clearly here. Even though his wives were arguing in front of him he did not reprimand them.

This is the magnificent patience that the Prophet (p) shown in all these instances. When Umar Ibn al-Khattab’s wife retorted to her husband over some issues, he took it as a great offence, yet the Prophet Muhammed’s wives were used to answering him back, arguing with him, raising their voices and having discussions with him, and he would calmly listen to them without denying them this indulgence. This shows the humility, mercy, and kindness and patience with which he dealt with his wives. In fact, he was so kind and patient with his wives that they would talk back to him and abandon him until night came, but he would remain patient and forgiving. Based on these instances,  and Prophet Muhammed’s use of the words ‘Fashishah Mubayyinah’ in his Khutbat al-Wadaa (farewell sermon) it shows that Surah 4:34, Nushuz refers directly to cases in which there is a clear and evident adultery or something equal to that. Not disobedience or mere violations on to the husband’s whims and wishes. For the life of Prophet Muhammed (p) refutes the claim that mere disobedience to husband warrants striking a wife, this act is abhorred, alien and unheard of when we analyse the Prophet Muhammed’s life.

6. Speaking to your wife (1) and then separating beds (2)

It is also important to highlight that when a wife was disobedient in the sense of arguing, being confrontational or raising their voices – the Quran orders to sort their differences with words. When the verbal complaint to the wife was exhausted and the wife continues with the same old behaviour in the case where it is seriously disturbing the marriage, the Quran orders the husband to separate beds. Depriving her of sexual needs. In the case of a wife who was caught inviting men into the house (cheating), making sexual advances, seriously disturbing the peace in marriage God granted the husband only in this instance to hit the wife lightly. The rule here was an exception, not the norm. Touching a wife in any other instance besides unfaithfulness (adultery) on the wife’s part, is clear that he had broken the covenant of Allah and his Messenger. Even in this case, it was suggested by some scholars it is best not to touch her, file a divorce and go your separate ways.

7. The Arabic word “Daraba”

The phrase ‘Id’ribuhunna’ for chapter 4 verse 34, has been by many critics, especially Anti-Islam propagandists have twisted and distorted the verse. The claim that the word sanctions (approves) of wife abuse has no historical basis. ‘Id’ribuhunna’, the verb of which is Daraba (“ضَرَبَ“). Daraba has many meanings, here are some of them:

“Daraba (darb) to beat, strike, … to play … (to play musical instrument)l to make music; to type ( on a type writer); to sting (scorpion); to separate, part (… people); to impose (… on s.o. to turn away from, leave, forsake, abandon, avoid, or shun s.o. or; – (darb, … daraban) to pulsate. … to move, stir, to rove, roam about, travel. …” (M…” (Hans Wehr A Dictionary of Modern written Arabic [Edited by John Milton – Spoken Language Services, Inc. 1976, 4th edition], page 629)

In this case it is understood for the passage (Q 4:34) to mean ‘beat’ lightly (non-violent). This final step the husband was allowed to take, was in the case of clear adultery or something equal to that.

When one looks at the verse in its historical perspective, it was always understood in a symbolic way. It was pointed out by the earliest scholars of Islam that the husband is not allowed to hurt, bruise, break any part of her body and must avoid the face. Prophet Muhammad (p) stated in his farewell pilgrimage as we showed earlier:

“Treat women kindly, they are like captives in your hands; you do not owe anything else from them. In case they are guilty of open indecency (Fahishah Mubayyinah), then do not share their beds and beat them lightly but if they return to obedience, do not have recourse to anything else against them. You have rights over your wives and they have their rights over you. Your right is that they shall not permit anyone you dislike to enter your home, and their right is that you should treat them well in the matter of food and clothing.” (Jami at-Tirmidhi, volume 1, Book 7, Hadith 1163. Eng. Tran., Sahih Darussalam)

We see from the above narration the Prophet (p) commanding his early followers that they treat their wives with kindness. The Prophet (p) also mentions that if his wife is found to be “guilty of indecency” (Fahisha Mubayyina), in this case, he was allowed to strike lightly in this instance only. Furthermore, how do we know that the strike is non-violent, non-aggressive and light?

This last resort was understood by Prophet Muhammed in the above Hadith and scholars as ‘beat lightly’ or “non-violent strike’ (“ضَرْبًا غَيْرَ مُبَرِّحٍ”), touching her in such a way as to not leave a mark, nor hurt her. Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari (838 – 923 AD) who is one of the earliest commentators of the Quran writes on Surah 4:34. Tabari has a tradition going back to one of the Companions of the Prophet (p) explains the word ‘beat’ as:

“I asked Ibn Abbas: ‘What is the hitting that is Ghayr Al-Mubarrih?’ He replied [with] the siwak (toothbrush like a twig) and the like’. [Narrated by al-Tabari in his tafsir [Dar al-fikr] volume 5, page 68)

Furthermore, Al-Razi (865 – 925 AD) who was a scholar also comments on the verse and mentions that as a rule,
(a) it must be a light beating and (b) the face must be avoided. He added that certain Shafi’I jurists said “coiled scarf (mindil malfuf) or his hand may be used but not a whip nor a stick (Al-Razi volume 3, page 222).

Sufyan Ibn Uyaynah (725 – 814 AD) states clearly that the punishment is “non-violent” [42] [43] [44]. From the evidence presented, it is abundantly clear that the beat was non-violent and light, that one was to use a Miswak (toothbrush) or “coiled scarf”, as the scholars stated. It is evident that the force utilised by a ‘folded scarf’ or a ‘miswak’ is, therefore, purely symbolic, it was in no way meant to hurt her. It was more of a shock.

8. Non-Muslim Academics on Surah 4:34

John Louis Esposito (b. 1940) is a professor of International Affairs and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University. He is a Catholic Christian he says in his book “What does Islam have to say about domestic violence?” He states that domestic violence is completely forbidden and the Prophet’s conduct is clear that he never touched any of his wives:

“Domestic violence is a serious social problem in the West and globally, and the Muslim world is no exception. Many grass-roots movements and women’s organizations who work to eradicate it through education for both men and women emphasize Quranic teachings about the rights and responsibilities of men and women and about marital relations. In some Muslim societies, men use the Quran to justify domestic violence. However, many verses in the Quran teach that men and women are to be kind to and supportive of each other. Love and justice in family relationships are emphasized, and cruelty is forbidden. Quran 30:21 states, ‘And among his signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your [hearts]: behold, verily in that are signs for those who reflect.’ Quran 4:19 further commands, ‘O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should you treat them with harshness. On the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If you take dislike to them it may be that you dislike a thing through which God brings about a great deal of good. ’Chronologically, the last Quranic verse to be revealed that addressed relations between husband and wife was 9:71, in which women and men are described as being each other’s protecting friends and guardians, emphasizing their cooperation in living together as partners, rather than adversaries or superiors and subordinates.Likewise, the hadith (Prophetic traditions) note Muhammad’s respect for and protection of women. Muhammad said, ‘The best of you is he who is best to his wife.’ Muhammad’s wife Aisha narrated that Muhammad never hit any servant or woman and never physically struck anyone with his own hand. Neither the Quran nor the hadith record Muhammad as ever mistreating or losing temper with any of his wives, even when he was unhappy or dissatisfied. Those who use the Quran to justify wife-beating point to 4:34, which says, ‘Good women are obedient, guarding in secret that which God has guarded. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them, then banish them to beds apart and strike them. But if they obey you, do not seek a way against them.’ In recent years scholars have argued that ‘obedience’ refers to women’s attitude toward God, not toward her husband. Furthermore, obedience in this verse is tied to the women’s guarding of her chastity, so that an obedient women is one who does not commit sexual immorality. The word typically translated as ‘disobedience’ (Nushuz) refers to disruption of marital harmony in which one spouse fails to fulfil the required duties of marriage. It is applied elsewhere in the Quran to bother men and women. The end of the verse admonishes men not to mistreat women who obey them. Rather than granting men the right to strike their wives, reformers argue, this verse reminds men of their responsibility to treat women fairly. Quran 4:34 lists three methods to be used in resolving marital disputes. First comes admonition or discussion between the husband and wife alone or with the assistance of arbiters. This practice, also recommended by 4:35 and 4:128, is also to be used for couples considering divorce. If this fails, the second option is physical separation, sleeping in separate beds, which gives the couple space for cooling off and thinking about the future of their marital relationship. The third and final method is to strike or hit. The striking takes the singular form grammatically, so that only a single strike Is permissible. Quran 4:34 was revealed early In the Medinan period of Muhammad’s ministry, a time and place in which cruelty and violence against women remained rampant. Thus some Muslim scholars today argue that the single strike permitted in this verse was intended as a restriction on an existing practice, not as a recommended method for dealing with one’s wife.
In the major hadith collections– Muslim, Bukhari, Tirmidhi, Abu Daud, Nasai, and Ibn Majah- hadith about striking all emphasize that striking should be done in such a way AS NOT TO CAUSE PAIN OR HARM. THESE SOURCES TRESS STRESS THAT IN CASES WHERE A SINGLE STRIKE IS USED, IT SHOULD BE MERELY SYMBOLIC. The founder of the Shafii law of school maintained that it is preferable to avoid striking altogether. Despite the fact that domestic violence continued to exist in male-dominated cultures and to be legitimated in the name of religion, neither the majority of Quranic verses nor the hadith support or permit it.” (What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam: Second Edition [Copyright 2011] by John L. Esposito page 114 – 116)

Rev. Dr. Ira Gilbert Zepp, Jr., professor emeritus of the Religious Studies department at McDaniel College, also comments on the Quranic passage 4:34, he writes the following:

“The husband is the head of the household, is the final authority, and has due obedience and cooperation from his wife. If the wife is rebellious or disobedient, there are several options open to the husband. He may first try dissuade her with kind and gentle reasoning. If this fails, he may then refrain from sleeping with her. And if the above are not effective, he has Quranic permission to ‘beat her lightly’ (4:34).
Such ‘slight physical correction’ (as Yusuf Ali says) avoids her face and other sensitive areas. Striking your wife in the face (as was pictured in the film Not without my Daughter) and other forms of verbal and physical cruelty have no sanction in the Quran.
Many Muslims feel that although permitted, such activity is not advisable and is the exception much more than the rule. If all else fails, the next verse (4:35) suggests the couple seek help and counsel from a mediator. Perhaps the disagreement between husband and wife can be resolved in this open, balanced and neutral way.” (A Muslim Primer: Beginner’s Guide to Islam, [Copyright 1992] by Ira G. Zepp Jr page, volume 1, 127 – 128)

Dr. Chris T. R. Hewer ‘comes from a background in Christian theology, education, Islamic studies and inter-faith studies and has worked in the field of Muslims in Britain and Christian-Muslim relations since 1986.’ Dr. Chris T.R Hewer who is of Christian faith, is another in line of respected experts commenting on the Quranic passage 4:34, he says:

“An adult woman has many rights within Islam that were granted by the Qur’an and Hadith of Muhammad but for which Western women have had to fight in the twentieth century. Both men and women have an equal responsibility to follow the Islamic way of life (Q. 33.35). A Muslim woman is allowed to own property in her own right and dispose of it without reference to her husband. She normally keeps her own name after marriage. She is permitted to make her own will to dispose of her goods after death. She has an entitlement to education at all levels equal to that of a man. She is entitled to sexual fulfilment. She has a right to engage in any profession or business. She should be consulted in public affairs, following the example of Muhammad who habitually sought the opinion of some of the Muslim women before making a decision. She has the right to keep and control her earnings, it being the duty of the husband to meet all domestic expenditure, house his family and educate his children (Q. 4.34).
There are no grounds for her to be a domestic drudge, it technically being the husband’s duty to see that hot food is laid before his wife. The only duty laid upon a wife is to be open to bear children, should God bless them, and to nurse them when they are young, although even here a wet-nurse can be retained. These are of course the ideals as provided by Islamic law but the realities in Muslim families around the world do not always follow these prescriptions.
Reference is often made to the verse of the Qur’an that appears to allow a husband to beat his wife (Q. 4.34). The context here is one of nushuz, a violation of duties on the part of the religious wife. This verse of the Quran lays down four steps to be taken, which may be seen as a correction and limitation of pre-Islamic practices. First the man should speak to his wife. If this fails, he should then refuse sleep with her. Only if this fails to change her ways, is he allowed a kind of symbolic humiliation by striking her with his miswak, a piece of wood smaller than a pencil, the tip of which is used for brushing the teeth. Even this is considered inadvisable in some schools of Islam, and any form of cruelty, including verbal abuse, is unanimously forbidden. Should all this fail, then the couple should seek arbitration within the family.”(Understanding Islam: The First Ten Steps [Copyright 2006] by Dr. Chris T. R. Hewer, Allan Anderson page 129 – 130)

Christian scholar Dr. Winfried Corduan states that the verse in question is in regards “marital infidelity”. The claim often spouted that the wife can be disciplined whenever the husband so wishes is not true. I don’t agree with everything he states, but nonetheless, he presents some things that are line with the historical understanding of the verse:

“Please note that his verse is NOT an unlimited licence for Muslim men to commit spousal abuse.
– Does this verse say that husbands may thrash their wives whenever they are upset with them? OF COURSE, NOT.
– Does it say that if the wife does not obey the husband in some unspecified matter, he is allowed to proceed through the sequence of disciplines: admonition, denial of marital relations, and finally light physical discipline? STILL, NO.
– The occasion for application of this verse is very clear. The only two areas to which it applies are (1) if the wife squanders her husband’s earnings, thereby putting both of them into economic jeopardy, and (2) (based on surrounding material) if the husband has good reason to suspect MARITAL INFIDELITY ON THE PART OF THE WIFE.
Thus, there are limits to a husband’s physical discipline of his wife in both occasion and method… If the issue is not resolved, the expected OUTCOME IS DIVORCE, NOT ESCALATING unilateral punishment of the woman.” (Neighboring Faiths: A Christian Introduction to World Religions [IVP Academic – An Imprint Of InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois. Second edition, 2012] by Winfried Corduan, page 127 – 128)

Although some of the opinion(s) was not true as we have already explained earlier, however, One thing that stands out here is that the above scholars all agree that cruelty is forbidden. And that the rule here was an exception, not the norm.

9. Classical Scholars: ‘Do Not Hit Your Wife’

Some of the leading classical scholars have opined to the point of not hitting at all. Rather the husband should find other ways of solving their issues:

“The vast majority of the ulama across the Sunni schools of law inherited the Prophet’s unease over domestic violence and placed further restrictions on the evident meaning of the ‘Wife Beating Verse: A LEADING MECCAN SCHOLAR FROM THE SECOND GENERATION OF MUSLIMS, ATA’ BIN ABI RABAH, COUNSELED A HUSBAND NOT TO BEAT HIS WIFE even if she ignored him but rather to express his anger in some other way. Darimi, a teacher of both Tirmidhi and Muslim bin Hajjaj as well as a leading early scholar in Iran, collected all the Hadiths showing Muhammad’s disapproval of beating] in a chapter entitled ‘THE PROHIBITION ON STRIKING WOMEN. A thirteenth century scholar from Granada, Ibn Faras, notes that one camp of ulama had staked out a stance FORBIDDING STRIKING A WIFE ALTOGETHER, declaring it CONTRARY TO THE PROPHET’S EXAMPLE AND DENYING THE AUTHENTICITY OF ANY HADITHS THAT SEEMED TO PERMIT BEATING. Even IBN HAJAR, the pillar of late medieval Sunni Hadith scholarship, concludes that, contrary to what seems to be an explicit command in the Qur’an, the Hadiths of the Prophet leave no doubt that striking one’s wife to discipline her actually FALLS UNDER THE SHARIAH RULING OF ‘STRONGLY DISLIKED’ OR ‘DISLIKED VERGING ON PROHIBITED.” (Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari, 9:378-79) (Misquoting Muhammad – The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy [Oneworld Publications, 2014], by Jonathan A. C. Brown, page 275 – 276)

Ibn al-Arabi (d. 1148) agrees with the opinion of scholar Ata Ibn Abi Rabah’s (653 – 732 AD) who met the companions of Prophet Muhammed (p). Ata’s statement is that even when a woman who disobeys or does something which is against the husband he should not touch her:

“…women should not be beaten, even when they disobey their husbands’ orders. They should limit themselves to be angry with their wives.” (Ahkam al-Quran [Dar al kotob al Ilmiyyah , Beirut, Lebanon] by Abu Bakr Ibn al-Arabi, volume 1, page 469)

Classical jurist Imam al-Shafi’I states that although light beating was permissible as evidenced in Surah 4:34, but it is not compulsory (fard) nor a religious duty. He ends with the words it is better and preferable not touch your wife, rather the husband should use words or other means to sort things out as Prophet Muhammed (p) did throughout his life he never raised his finger against any of his wives:

“…we choose what the Messenger of Allah chose himself, and we prefer that the husband does not beat his wife when she goes too far against him in her words and similar things…” (Kitab Al-Umm [Edited by Muhammed Zuhri al-Najjar. Cairo – Maktabat al-Kulliyyat al-Ashariyya, 1381/1961], by Imam Al-Shafi’I, volume 5, page 194)

The great classical Quranic commentator, Imam Jalal al-Din as-Suyuti (1445 – 1505 AD) states in regard to 4:34:

“If strife ensues between a man and wife, HE SHOULD SEEK COUNSEL from the righteous men and someone who is his peer in righteousness among the women so they can determine which one of the two is in the wrong (and help them correct it).” (Jalal al-din as-Suyuţi, Al-durar al-manthur fi tafsir bi’l ma’thur, retrieved August 30, 2010 from AlTafsir.) (The Prohibition Of Domestic Violence In Islam – A Fatwa issued by Shaykh M. Hisham Kabbani and Dr. Homayra Ziad [World Organization for Resource Development And Education, 2011], page 24)

Abu l-Qasim Abdu l-Karim al-Qushayri (986 – 1072 AD):

“What is meant here is to encourage them to correct themselves in stages and with KINDNESS. But if the matter is settled by admonishing then ONE SHOULD NOT BEAT HER (with a stick or the hand) BECAUSE THE VERSE IMPLIES the conduct of engaging in sexual relations.” (Abu l-Qasim Abdu l-Karim al-Qushayri, Laṭa’if al-isharat bi tafsir al-Qur’an (Egypt: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2000), retrieved August 30, 2010 from Altafsir website.) (The Prohibition Of Domestic Violence In Islam – A Fatwa issued by Shaykh M. Hisham Kabbani and Dr. Homayra Ziad [World Organization for Resource Development And Education, 2011], page 23)

10. Physical Violence: A Right Of Divorce

The right of divorce is not always afforded to victims of abuse in some religions. For example, in the New Testament (Bible), Jesus says that only in the case of clear adultery does a wife have a right of divorce. If she divorces the husband without him being unfaithful (cheating) and marries again, she is called an “adulterous” woman (Matthew 5:32; 19:9, Luke 16:18 & Mark 10:10-12). The Law in the New Testament is so strict that even if a wife were to get abused physically or verbally she is forbidden from divorcing her husband. In Islam however, this is not the case. A wife has got the right to divorce if the husband abuses her physically or even verbally.

There was an incident in the life-time of Prophet Muhammed (p) where a man by the name of Thabit Ibn Qays hit his wife and injured her. The wife went to the Prophet (p) asking for a divorce, he granted her the wish:

“Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin: Habibah daughter of Sahl was the wife of Thabit ibn Qays Shimmas He beat her and broke some of her part. So SHE CAME TO THE PROPHET AFTER MORNING, AND COMPLAINED TO HIM AGAINST HER HUSBAND. The Prophet called on Thabit ibn Qays and said (to him): Take a part of her property AND SEPARATE YOURSELF FROM HER. He asked: Is that right, Messenger of Allah? He said: Yes. He said: I have given her two gardens of mine as a dower, and they are already in her possession. The Prophet said: Take them and SEPARATE YOURSELF FROM HER.” (Sunan Abi Dawud Book 12, Hadith 2220 Eng. Tran. Sahih al-Albani )

This incident is also reported in Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir – Muhammad Ibn Sa’d (784 – 845) [45]:

“…Habiba bint Sahl married Thabit ibn Qays. Thabit beat her and she went to the door of the Messenger of Allah in the morning in the darkness to COMPLAIN ABOUT HIM. She said, ‘I will not remain with Thabit. ‘The Messenger of Allah said, ‘Take back from her what you gave her.’ SHE HAD A … DIVORCE from him for what he had given her, and she remained with her family.’” Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir (“The Women Of Madina”) [Translated by Aisha Bewley – Ta-Ha Publishers LTD, 2015] by Muhammad Ibn Sa’d, volume 8, page 288)

Prophet Muhammed (p) disapproved of husbands’ who hit their wives. In these above reports, the Prophet (p) clearly expresses strong dislike and disapproval domestic abuse, as such considered it was a legitimate cause for a wife to get a divorce if the husband touched (beat) his wife. [46]

11. Domestic Violence: Compensating The Wife – Punishing The Husband

Where there was a wife abused the scholars made sure she was compensated and at times the husband was even punished (lashed). The judges used to dissolve the marriage:

“In articulating their understanding of what God meant in Qur’an 4:34, no Muslim scholar has understood the verse as granting a husband unrestricted license to strike his wife. On the contrary, beginning with Muhammad (or what Muslims imagined to be Muhammad), THE MAJORITY OF THE ULAMA STRONGLY DISCOURAGED ANY ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WIVES. And all schools of law offered the wife protection and required THE HUSBAND TO PAY HER COMPENSATION FOR INJURIES. Most allowed a JUDGE TO DISSOLVE THE MARRIAGE without the wife losing any financial rights. If one takes Shariah courts as the primary interpreters of God’s law, then they repeatedly said ‘no’ to the evident meaning of the Qur’anic verse. As defendants before a Shariah court, husbands effectively had no legitimate right to strike their wives.” (Misquoting Muhammad – The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy [Oneworld Publications, 2014], by Jonathan A. C. Brown, page 286)

There is an interesting case in which the companion of Prophet Muhammed (p), the second Caliph Umar Ibn al-Khattab (579 – 644 AD) meted out a punishment, a beating on a man as a result of him causing trouble and being harsh to his wife. After the punishment, the man returns to his wife this time kind and gentle and resolves the past issues between themselves. [47]

If a wife is injured by the husband it is an “actionable as a criminal offence” according to 12th Century scholar Al-Barakat Aimad Al-Dardir (d. 1201):

“Furthermore, any “HITTING” WHICH IS INJURIOUS or leaves a mark on the woman’s body is actionable as a CRIMINAL OFFENSE.”‘ (Al-Sharh Al-Saghir [Dar Al-Ma’aref], by Al-Barakat Aimad Al-Dardir, page 512) ((An Islamic Perspective on Domestic Violence [Fordham International Law Journal, Issue 1 2003 Article 8], Azizah Y. al-Hibri, volume 27, page 221)

There was a case in the 17th century Ottoman court where a wife testified against her husband. She showed evidence that she was beaten and abused by her husband. The court reprimanded the husband and ordered that he be given “discretionary corporal punishment” (Ta’zir):

“In one court case from May 1687 Fatima bt. Hajj ‘Ali filed a lawsuit against her husband testifying that he was abusing her, he had hit her with a stick on her body and on her mouth causing her to bleed. She claimed that he was constantly abusive. In her defense [sic] she brought along five witnesses. The court reprimanded the abusive husband, ordering that HE BE GIVEN TA’ZIR (DISCRETIONARY CORPORAL PUNISHMENT). (The Ottoman Empire. Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Culture: Family, Law and Politics [Leiden, The Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill NV, 2004], by E. Semerdjian, volume 2, page 121)., (A Critical Examination of Qur’an 4:34 and its Relevance to Intimate Partner Violence in Muslim Families [Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia, 2010] by Nada Ibrahim and Mohamad Abdalla, page 12 -13)

Professor Jonathan A. C. Brown shows instances in history where a wife was abused or beaten the Muslim scholars reprimanded, punished the husband and made sure the wife was compensated for her injuries:

“If the husband was in fact abusive, under the Maliki school in North Africa and Andalusia judges could TERMINATE THE MARRIAGE AND AWARD THE WIFE COMPENSATION. If the wife’s behavior was unbearable, the husband could receive a divorce by judicial decree. (27. Fierro, 324-33) … a famous tenth-century Hanafi jurist in Rayy (now absorbed into modern-day Tehran) wrote that it is the judge’s, responsibility to PREVENT A HUSBAND FROM ABUSING HIS WIFE, both by assigning the wife to live in the house of a trustworthy neighbor and by requiring compensation from the husband for any injury she suffered. Traveling in the fourteenth century through Mardin, near the contemporary Turkey-Syria border, Ibn Battuta recounts how the city’s chief judge had been approached by a woman COMPLAINING THAT HER HUSBAND HAD BEATEN HER. The court had closed for the day, but the judge accompanied the woman to the couple’s home and calmly spoke with the mortified husband in the presence of a crowd of prying neighbors, instructing him to put his affairs in order and GIVE HIS WIFE SATISFACTION. Despite the limitations that the empire’s official Hanafi school placed on judges in such matters, Ottoman court records suggest a similar receptiveness to wives seeking assistance. The influential sixteenth-century chief of the Ottoman religious establishment, Ebusu’ud Efendi, issued a fatwa that a judge was permitted to use any means possible TO PREVENT A HUSBAND FROM HURTING HIS WIFE. A leading Shariah consultant (mufti) to the courts in seventeenth-century Ottoman Palestine issued a fatwa that a husband who had knocked out three of his wife’s teeth HAD TO PAY THE SET COMPENSATION SUM OF ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY GOLD COINS. A series of cases from Shariah courts in and around Aleppo in the late 1600s and early 1700s demonstrated another phenomenon: women who had stipulated in their marriage contracts that if their husbands ever struck them THEY WOULD BE DIVORCED IMMEDIATELY, keeping their dower payment and with the husband responsible for spousal maintenance. (28. Elyse Semerdjian, of the Straight Path, 138-44.) Ottoman Shariah courts could end up extending their jurisdiction into the non-Muslim minorities in the empire. In 1529, the Ottoman Shariah court in a Greek town heard the complaint of a Christian family whose daughter had been beaten to death by her husband, ultimately awarding them her wergild amount. (29. Mathieu Tillier, ‘Women before the Qadi Under The Abbasids,’ 284; Ibn Battuta, Travels, 2:354-55; Judith Tucker, In the House of the Law, 66; Yvonne Seng, ‘Invisible Women: Residents of early Sixteenth-Century Istanbul,’ 250.) Shariah courts that continued under colonial rule and others that continue to function today have taken a similar approach. Women who come before the judge with complaints of abuse and evidence to prove it receive compensation for their injuries and, should they wish, judicially declared divorces and full maintenance rights. If a woman has no witnesses or other evidence that abuse has occurred, the judge might still house her with a neighbor temporarily. Shariah court records from Zanzibar between 1900 and 1950 show that judges would refuse to dissolve the marriages of wives who claimed their husbands abused them but could provide no witnesses, from among the neighbors or family, or other evidence to that effect. If there were any witnesses, the judges immediately housed the wife with a reliable neighbor, dissolved the marriage and fined the husband. (30. Elke E. Stokreiter, Child Marriage and Domestic Violence: Islamic and Colonial Discourses on Gender Relations and female Status in Zanzibar, 1900-1959s, in Domestic Violence and the Law in Colonial and Postcolonial Africa, ed. Emily S. Burrill, et al., 138, 143-44.) In French West Africa in 1911, courts in Kita and Jenne (both in present-day Mali) GRANTED DIVORCES TO NUMEROUS WOMEN WHO CLAIMED THEIR HUSBANDS HAD BEATEN THEM and either brought witnesses to corroborate this or when the husband admitted it. The courts usually AWARDED THE WIFE COMPENSATION FROM THE HUSBAND, DISSOLVED THE MARRIAGE and allowed the wife to keep her dower gift. One case records the husband explaining to the judge why his wife deserved a beating. The court ignored him since, by dint of requiring legal remedy, his actions had exceeded his rights to discipline her.” (31. Emily Burrill and Richard Roberts, Domestic Violence, Colonial Courts, and the End of Slavery in French Soudan, 1905-12, in Burril., et al., 45-46.) A case from Casablanca in 1917 shows how the classical principles of Shariah procedure were still active. If neighbors claimed they heard a wife screaming but saw nothing (i.e., they could provide no evidence of abuse), THE JUDGE WOULD STILL PUNISH THE HUSBAND. In the Maliki school it was reasoned that, if the husband had not sought help from anyone when his wife was screaming, it could be assumed that he had been responsible for her distress.” (32. Fierro, 336) (Misquoting Muhammad – The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy [Oneworld Publications, 2014], by Jonathan A. C. Brown, page 282 – 284)

The Hanafite scholar Al-Jassas (917 -981) states that a judge must prevent a husband from abusing his wife, and if it continues the judge was allowed (permitted) to sentence him to physical punishment (“Ta’zir”) [48]:

“An ill-treated woman might file a complaint against her husband. … according to al-Jaṣṣaṣ, THE QADI MUST PREVENT HER HUSBAND FROM ABUSING HER. (Al-Jaṣṣas, in al-Khaṣṣaf, Adab al-qadi, p. 652) He can order a man to let his wife live in the house of respectable neighbors (Saliḥin) who will inform the qaḍi about the husband’s behavior with his wife. If it appears that he is in fact maltreating her, the qadi will REPRIMAND HIM OR SENTENCE HIM TO PHYSICAL PUNISHMENT. (Al-Khassaf, Adab al-qadi, p. 652.” (Women before the Qadi Under the Abbasids [BRILL – Islamic Law and Society 16 (2009)] by Mathieu Tillier, page 284)

In recent times, in Saudi Arabia for example, there have been cases of domestic abuse. A husband was punished in 2002 for beating his wife. He was made to pay over 2000 dollars as compensation to the wife and he received 30 lashes:

“In an effort to create a format for regularizing judicial rulings, the Saudi Ministry of Justice has begun publishing yearly compilations of case records that offer examples for how to rule on types of cases. The model for domestic abuse is a 2002 case handled in the Riyadh lower claims court, which heard the case of a woman who accused her husband of beating her and abusing her verbally. Hospital reports confirmed that she had suffered bruises on her back, arms and thighs as well as a black eye. The husband admitted insulting her and that he had hit her `to discipline her’ because she had insulted him foully. The JUDGE DEEMED THAT THE HUSBAND HAD VIOLATED THE QUR’ANIC PRINCIPLE REQUIRING HUSBANDS TO `LIVE WITH THEM [WIVES] ACCORDING TO WHAT IS RIGHT‘ (4:19) and, based on the medical reports, ruled THAT THE HUSBAND SHOULD PAY HIS WIFE 9,000 RIYALS (AROUND $2,400) COMPENSATION FOR HER INJURIES AND RECEIVE THIRTY LASHES for his insulting language. The excuse that the husband gave, that his wife had insulted him, held no weight before the court. Unlike the husband, she had not admitted using abusive language, nor had the husband provided any evidence for his claim.” 33 (The Saudi Ministry of Justice, Mudawwanat al-Ahkam al-Qada’iyya, 113-17. A Similar ruling in the region of Qatif recently made headlines, with a man receiving thirty lashes and ten days in prison after he admitted hitting his wife; ‘Saudi Arabia: Judge Ignores Wife, Sentences Husband to 30 Lashes for Domestic Violence,’ International Business Times, June 6, 2013, ) (Misquoting Muhammad – The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy [Oneworld Publications, 2014], by Jonathan A. C. Brown, page 284 – 285)

There are many more cases in history where a husband was punished as a result of his actions towards his wife. Abuse of a wife was abhorred by the earliest scholars of Islam. If a husband was to harm his wife, the wife was compensated and at times made sure that he was punished (lashed). There was permanent laws enacted by scholars from earliest of days to punish abusive husbands. [49] [50] [51] [52] [53]

12. LAW – Legal Frameworks Addressing Domestic Violence In Muslim Majority Countries

Many Muslim majority countries around the World have implemented laws in order to protect women from being physically or verbally abused by men or their husbands. See the following article for the countries that have implemented these laws: “The Laws On Domestic Violence In Muslim Majority Countries“.

13. The Quran And Prophetic Statements On Wives

Islamic scripture has strongly emphasized and taught to love your wife, to feed them, to treat them with kindness, as it is clearly shown in the following statements from Prophet Muhammad (p) [54]:

“I went to the Messenger of Allah and asked him: What do you say (command) about our wives? He replied: Give them food what you have for yourself, and clothe them by which you clothe yourself, and do not beat them, and do not revile them.” (Sunan Abi Dawud Book 11, Hadith 2139. Eng. Tran., Sahih Al-Albani, )

The above is a clear command from Prophet Muhammed (p) not to hit your wife.

The Prophet (p) used to treat women very tenderly. [55] [56] [57] [58] He said:

‘Whoever remains patient with regards to the misbehaviour of his wife, Allah will give him a reward as great as Ayub’s (Job) for his affliction. Likewise, if a woman keeps patient with regards to the misbehaviour of her husband, Allah will give her a reward as great as Aishah’s Bint Bint Muzahim, (the Pharaoh’s wife).’ (Al-Hakim in Al-Mustadrak – Transmitters of this Hadith are trustworthy) (Major Sins [translators: Abdul-Hamid A. Eliwa Ali M. As-Sawi, Wa’il A. Shehab, Mahmud AI-Qastawi] by Imam Shamsu ed-Deen Dhahabi, page 136, online source )

The best husband is the one who is best to his wife [59]:

“The Prophet said: ‘THE BEST OF YOU IS THE ONE WHO IS BEST TO HIS WIFE, and I am the best of you to my wives.’” (Sunan Ibn Majah volume 3, Book 9, Hadith 1977. Eng. Tran., Hasan, Darussalam

The most perfect faith are from the men who have the best bahviour towards their wives:

“Messenger of Allah said, ‘The believers who show the most perfect Faith are those who have the best behaviour, and the best of you are those who are the best to their wives.’” (Riyad as-Salihin Book 1, Hadith 278. Eng. Tran., )

A husband should not hate his wife because if he dislikes something in her, he will find something else he likes about her:

“Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger saying: A believing man should not hate a believing woman (wife); if he dislikes one of her characteristics, he will be pleased with another.” (Sahih Muslim Book 8, Hadith 3469. Eng. Tran.,

God loves kindness:

“’A’isha, the wife of Allah’s Apostle, reported that Allah’s Messenger said: ‘A’isha, verily Allah is kind and He loves kindness and confers upon kindness which he does not confer upon severity and does not confer upon anything else besides it (kindness).” (Sahih Muslim 2593 Book 32, Hadith 6273. Eng. Tran., )

Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (1058 – 1111 AD) – Ihya Ulum-Id-Din:

“The Prophet of God said, “the most perfect of believers in faith are those who are the finest in manners and most gentle toward their wives.” He said, “The best among you are the most charitable toward their wives…” (Book On The Etiquette of Marriage – Being the Second Book of The Section on Customs In The Book: The Revival of the Religious Sciences (“Ihya Ulum al-Deen”) [Translated by Madelain Farah], by Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, part 2 (II), page 96)

Buying gifts for your spouse, there will be love between one another:

“…that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Give gifts and you will love one another.” (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad Book 30, Hadith 594. Eng. Tran., Hasan, Al-Albani )

Classical Scholar, Shaykh Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (1058 – 1111 AD) has put the above report in the section of “The Etiquette Of Marriage”:

“Exchanging gifts is desirable, and results in friendship.’ The Prophet said, “If you exchange gifts, you will love each other.” (Book On The Etiquette of Marriage – Being the Second Book of The Section on Customs In The Book: The Revival of the Religious Sciences (“Ihya Ulum al-Deen”) [Translated by Madelain Farah], by Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, part 2 (II), page 89)

Sahih al-Bukhari:

“Whatever you spend (on your wife) will be considered a Sadaqa (charity) for you, even the mouthful of food you put in the mouth of your wife.” (Sahih al-Bukhari volume 7, Book 64, Hadith 266. Eng. Tran. )

Live with your wife in kindness (Quran 4:19):

“O you who have believed, it is not lawful for you to inherit women by compulsion. And do not make difficulties for them in order to take [back] part of what you gave them… And LIVE WITH THEM IN KINDNESS. For if you dislike them – perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good.” – Quran 4:19 (Sahih International)

Friends and allies of one other:

The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Those – Allah will have mercy upon them. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.” – Quran 9:71 Sahih International)

The husband and wife are likened to clothing in the Quran (S. 2:187). They guard, respect and honour each other:

“They are clothing for you and you are clothing for them.” – Quran 2:187 (Sahih International)

In Quran 30:21 it says that God has placed “tranquality”, “affection” and “mercy”:,

“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.” – Quran 30:21 (Sahih International)

Ibn Kathir’s (1301 – 1373 AD) commentary on the above verse:

“Out of Allah’s perfect mercy He made their wives from their own kind, and CREATED LOVE AND KINDNESS BETWEEN THEM. For a MAN STAYS WITH A WOMAN BECAUSE HE LOVES HER, or because he feels compassion towards her if they have a child together, or because she needs him to take care of her, etc.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) [Abridged by A Group of Scholars Under The Supervision Of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri. Maktaba Dar-us-Salam – Second Edition, 2003], volume 7, page 535)

Muhammad b. al-Sa’ib al-Kalbi (d. 763 AD) exegesis on S. 30:21,

“(And of His signs) of the signs of His divine Oneness and power (is this: He CREATED FOR YOU SPOUSES) human beings like yourselves (from yourselves that ye might find rest in them) so that the husband may find rest in his wife, (and He ordained between you) HUSBAND AND WIFE (LOVE) LOVE OF THE WIFE FOR HER HUSBAND (AND MERCY) of the husband towards his wife; it is also said that this means: love of the young ones of the old ones and mercy from the older ones towards the young ones. (Lo, herein) in that which I have mentioned (indeed are portents) signs and lessons (for folk who reflect) upon what Allah created.” – (Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn Abbas on Surah 30:21 – online source )

14. Conclusion:

Based on Prophet Muhammed’s use of the words ‘Fashishah Mubayyinah’ in his Khutbat al-Wadaa (farewell sermon) it shows that Surah 4:34, Nushuz refers directly to cases in which there is a clear and evident adultery or something equal to that. [60] [61] Not disobedience or mere violations on to the husband’s whims and wishes. For the life of Prophet Muhammed (p) refutes the claim that mere disobedience to a husband warrants striking your wife, this is alien and unheard of when we analyse the Prophet’s life. A careful reading of the words in Surah 4:34 also reveals that Nushuz has connotations of a sexual act outside of marriage or advancing sexual lust/desire to another man.

If she was guilty of cheating, and the husband has proof he may take his case to a court before things escalate or the man takes things into his own hands. If he happens to continue to live with her and not amending her ways, the Quran, 1300 years ago gave the approval of a husband to take the step of approving her behaviour, by a light strike. Anything beyond that he would have broken the covenant of God and his Messenger (p). And therefore a judge would have reprimanded him and punished him. Mere suspicions did not give a sanctioning or endorsement in the steps described in Surah 4:34. For a wife to be guilty, there had to be clear and evident proof from the husband’s side. Mere suspicions are discouraged and sinful at times. [62]

The Quran recognises that the male in patriarchal society fourteen hundred years ago seeing his wife cheating, the first thing he would do is to uncontrollable anger beat his wife black and blue, or at times even kill his wife. The Quranic verse (S. 4:34) was sent down to prevent the husband from carrying out such violent and detestable crime. In preventing this, it was a way of steps in anger management. The steps taken in the verse was actually to calm down the husband.

Finally, I will end with the words of Professor Azizah Y. al-Hibri [63]: The Quran states very clearly in the following:

“The parties should either hold together on equitable terms or separate with kindness.” – Quran 2:229

Thus, the Quranic approach to the problem of husbands hitting their wives aims at eliminating such behaviour altogether, but it takes into account the very nature of human beings (males), the complexity of their emotions, and the need for “a gestation period” for them to achieve a higher stage of development. It also helps them reach that higher stage through a series of prescribed behavior aimed at self-control and anger management as mentioned earlier, and by describing and exhorting by words and the example of the Prophet the blissful higher stage of marital life. The Quranic verse was revealed in ancient Arabia, over fourteen hundred years ago when the world as a whole viewed beating one’s wife as a right in the male dominated patriarchal society. Today, our society has moved decidedly beyond that stage, and views wife abuse as a crime, it really is. The Prophet Muhammed and earliest Muslim jurists agree on this. How do we move forward? It is now time for the rest of the Muslims to catch up with this vision, and help the troubled men within it to move to the higher stages of consciousness described in the Quran and implemented by the Prophet Muhammed’s (p) own conduct and model. In this way, we can achieve the Quranic marital ideal of tranquility, affection, and mercy, or gracefully follow God’s injunction of parting ways in kindness. [64] [65]

Related Articles:

(1) – “Refuting The Allegation That ‘Muhammed hit his wife Aisha’ and more!

(2) – “Muhammed (p) ‘Never Hit Any Of His Wives’

(3) – “Wife-beating husband gets 30 lashes” (2012) (*)

(4) – “Saudi man gets jail and 30 lashes for slapping and spitting on his wife” (2015) (* *)

References & Notes:

[1] The verse from Deut. 25:11-12, on the punishment of a wife for defending her husband:
“11 If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, 12 you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.” Deuteronomy 25:11-12 New International Version (NIV)
[2] On physically beating a child, this is mentioned in Proverbs 23:13-14,
“Don’t withhold discipline from a child — if you beat him with a stick, he won’t die! 14 If you beat him with a stick, you will save him from Sh’ol.” Proverbs 23:13-14 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) There is an article written on this verse and others: “Does the Bible Teach child Abuse, ‘Beat him with a rod?’”
[3] “Does The New Testament Endorse Marital Rape?”
[4] Professor Francis Joseph Steingass:
“…fahish, a, shameless, obscene; excessive, unproportional; -fahisa-t, FORNICATES, WHORE; pl. fawahis, sin, FORNICATION.” (English-Arabic Dictionary: For the Use of Both Travellers and Students [LONDON – Crosby Lockwood And Son 7, Stationers Hall Court, Ludgate Hill, E.C.] by Professor Francis Joseph Steingass, page 769)
[5] Hans Wehr:
“…fahsa’ monstrosity, abomination, atrocity, vile deed, crime; ADULTERY, FORNICATION, WHOREDOM.
… fahhas obscene, lewd…”
…Fahisha HARLOT, WHORE, PROSTITUTE: – (pl. fawahis) monstrosity, abomination, atrocity, vile deed, crime, ADULTERY, FORNICATION, WHOREDOM…” (Hans Wehr A Dictionary of Modern written Arabic [Edited by John Milton – Spoken Language Services, Inc. 1976, 4th edition], page 817 – 818)
[6] Edward William Lane – Arabic-English Lexicon:
“…[gross, immodest, lewd, or obscene… Also, Adultery, or fornication; (S, Mgh, Msb, K; and so …: Bd in xii. 24; &c.:) so in the Kur iv. 23 and lxv. 1 (as well as in numerious other instances]…”
(Edward William Lane – Arabic-English Lexicon, page 2399 – 2400, online source)
[7] Rev. F. J. G. Hava, S. J.:
“بِفَاحِشَةٍ enormity. Abomination. ADULTERY. Prostitute.”
(Arabic English Dictionary for the use of students [Byrut – Catholic press, 1899, By the Rev. F. J. G. Hava, S. J., page 540)
[8] Arabic-English Dictionary Of Qur’anic Usage:
“…f-h-sh to be excessive… obscene… adultery, to commit adultery. …Lewdness, fornication, adultery, immoral act, indecency (12:24)…” (Arabic-English Dictionary Of Qur’anic Usage [Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands, 2008] by Elsaid M. Badawi, Muhammad Abdel Haleem, page 696)
[9] Dictionary And Glossary Of The Kor-an – John Penrice:
“فاحشة… Filthiness, uncleanness, a filthy report, a crime, FORNICATION OR ADULTERY; Plur. … (2nd declension) Abominable crimes.” (Dictionary And Glossary Of The Kor-an, With Copious Grammatical References And Explanations Of The Text [Adam Publishers & Distributors, Shandar Market Chitli Qabar Delhi-110006., Printed in India, 1991] by John Penrice, B. A., page 109)
[10] Dictionary Of The Holy Qur’an of With References and Explanation of the Text – Malik Ghulam Farid:
“…evil, gross, lewd, obscene, or it became excessively so, (as also …). … immoral, lewd or obscene… or crime… ADULTERY OR FORNICATION. …” (Dictionary Of The Holy Qur’an of With References and Explanation of the Text by Malik Ghulam Farid M. A., page 641)
[11] Vocabulary of the Holy Quran – Dr. Abdullah Abbas Al-Nadwi:
“Adultery (2) – … And for those of your women who (may) commit adultery. [415] indecency (n.) …” (Vocabulary of the Holy Quran (“Qamus al-Faz al-Quran al-Karim”) by Dr. Abdullah Abbas Al-Nadwi, page 449)
[12] A Dictionary Of Egyptian Arabic – Arabic English – Martin Hinds & El-Said Badawi:
“..faahis /adj/outrages, extreme. Zulm fahis MONSTROUS INJUSTICE. Fahsa, faahisa, n pl fawaahis/ (act of) ADULTERY, FORNICATION. … fawahsi /adj and pl –yyal adulterous.” (A Dictionary Of Egyptian Arabic – Arabic English [Librairie du Liban, Riad Solh Sqaure, Beirut., 1986] by Martin Hinds & El-Said Badawi, page 643)
[13] Dictionary Of The Holy Qur’an – Arabic Words – English Meanings – (Classical Arabic Dictionaries Combined:
“Fahusha … Immoral conduct; indecent or LEWD or abominable… Flagrant indecency; ADULTERY, FORNICATION; SODOMY. ILLICIT SEXUAL INTERCOURSE. Its plu. Is Fawahish… Fahishatun … (act. Pic. F. sing.): ill-deed; Act of indecency; Manifest improper conduct;…” (Dictionary Of The Holy Qur’an – Arabic Words – English Meanings (With Notes) – (Classical Arabic Dictionaries Combined) [NOOR Foundation – International Inc., 2010] by Abdul Mannan Omar (Translator) – Subject Codifier Musnad Imam Ahmad Bin Muhammad bin Hanbal, page 418 – 419)
[14] Scottish scholar Robert Bertram Serjeant in footnote 13 states that there is no doubt that fahisha mentioned in the farewell sermon is about adultery:
“leave us in no doubt that fahishah means “adultery”, ‘fornication’” (Arabic Literature To The End Of The Umayyad Period [Cambridge University Press 2003] by R. B. Serjeant, page 121 (footnote 13))
[15] Fahisha Mubayyina implies adultery according to the majority of the companions of Prophet Muhammed and the Tab’ieen:
“‘except in case they are guilty of Fahishah Mubayyinah.’ meaning that the divorced wife is not to abandon her husband’s house unless she commits FAHISHAH MUBAYYINAH, in which case, she vacates her husband’s house. For example, FAHISHAH MUBAYYINAH IMPLIES ADULTERY, according to `Abdullah bin Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib, Ash-Sha`bi, Al-Hasan, Ibn Sirin, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Abu Qilabah, Abu Salih, Ad-Dahhak, Zayd bin Aslam, `Ata’ Al-Khurasani, As-Suddi, Sa`id bin Hilal and others. (At-Tabari, volume 23, page 438, Al-Qurtubi, volume 18, page 156, and Ad-Durr Al-Manthur volume 8, page 194) Fahishah Mubayyinah implies disobeying her husband openly or when she abuses her husband’s family in words and actions, according to Ubay bin Ka`b, Ibn `Abbas, `Ikrimah and others.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) [Abridged by A Group of Scholars Under The Supervision Of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri. Maktaba Dar-us-Salam – Second Edition, 2003], volume 10, page 36)
[16] Ibn Athir (1160 – 1233) and AI-Jawhari defined Fahisha Mubayyina in the Prophet’s Khutbat al Wadaa as “Adultery”:
“FAHISHAH” MEANS SIMPLY ADULTERY.92 (bal abuse). “92. See, e.g., 10 Ibn Mathur, Lisan al-Arab, page 192 (Beirut: Dar Ihya’ Al-Turath Al- ‘Arabi, 2nd printing of a 13th century reprint 1992) (quoting IBN AI-ATHIR as defining fahisha mubayyinah, occurring in the Prophet’s last address, AS ADULTERY … AL-ZABIDI, supra note 81, at 331 (quoting AI-Jawhari and Ibn Al-Athir as defining fahisha mubayyinah as adultery). …” (An Islamic Perspective on Domestic Violence [Fordham International Law Journal, Issue 1 2003 Article 8], Azizah Y. al-Hibri, volume 27, page 217)
[17] Many classical jurists stated that Fahisha Mubayyina means “adultery”:
“So what is “Fahishah Mubayyinah”? As stated earlier, MANY JURISTS SAID THAT IT WAS ADULTERY.” (Al-Tabari, supra note 32, at 211-12.), An Islamic Perspective on Domestic Violence [Fordham International Law Journal, Issue 1 2003 Article 8], Azizah Y. al-Hibri, volume 27, page 217)
[18] Commenting on Surah 7:80–81, classic scholar al-Tabari (838 – 923) connects fahisha to intercourse (“sexually”):
“The transgression [FAHISHA] that they approach, for which they were punished by Allah, is “PENETRATING MALES SEXUALLY” [ityan dhukur]. The meaning is this: it is as if Lut were saying “You are, all of you, you nation of people, coming to men in their rears, out of lust, rather than coming to those that Allah has approved for you and made permissible to you from the women. You are a people that approach what Allah has prohibited for you. Therefore you rebel against Allah by that act.” That is what the Qur’an means by going beyond the bounds [israf] when Lut said, You are a people who go beyond all bounds.” (Tafsir al-Tabari min Jami al-Bayan ‘an Ta’wil Ayi al-Quran, [ed. Bashar Awwad – Beirut, Muassasat al-Risala, 1994], by al-Tabari, volume 3, page 463)
[19] Al-Qurtubi (1214 -1273):
“Do you approach the TRANSGRESSION [FAHISHA] MEANS “SEXUALLY ENTERING MALES” [idkhal al-rijal]. Allah mentions this act with the term the transgression [fahisha] in order to make it clear that this act is adultery [zina]. It is just like Allah’s statement in another verse, Do not approach adultery [zina] for it is a transgression [fahisha] (Surat al-A‘raf 7:80–84).” (Tafsir al-Jami‘ fi Ahkam al-Qur’an [Cairo, Dar al-Qalam, 1967], by Al-Qurtubi, Muhammad ibn Ahmad, volume 7, page 243)
[20] “You [men] have rights against women, and they have rights against you. It is your right that they do not bring someone you dislike INTO YOUR BED, or that they commit FAHISHAH (AN ACT OF ADULTERY) Mubayyinah (which is clear and evident to all). If they do, then God has permitted you to desert them in bed, and [then] hit them lightly. If they stop, you are obliged to maintain them.”‘ (Al-Bidwaya wa Al-Nihaya Al-Hafidth Ibn Kathir, p. 202 (Beirut: Maktabat al Ma’arif 1979); Tarikh al-Tabari Muhammad Ibn Jareer p. 206 (Beirut: Dar A1-Kutub Al-Ilmiyyah 1988). (An Islamic Perspective on Domestic Violence [Fordham International Law Journal, Issue 1 2003 Article 8], Azizah Y. al-Hibri, volume 27, Page 216)
[21] Professor Azizah Y. al-Hibri:
“Furthermore, even if the Prophet was not providing the meaning of the “Chastisement Passage” in his hadith, he must have been providing examples. But an instructive example must be adequately illustrative of the meaning. The examples given by the Prophet referred to two types of possible actions: (a) actions for which God has decreed hudud [specific punishments], and (b) actions that are a proximate cause of type (a) actions (such as BRINGING SOMEONE INTO ONE’S HUSBAND’S BED – A PROXIMATE CAUSE FOR ADULTERY). Had the ayah intended to cover less egregious actions, such as violations of the husband’s whims and wishes, the Prophet would have indicated so and given men a more accurate idea about the scope of their rights. He did not do so.” (An Islamic Perspective on Domestic Violence [Fordham International Law Journal, Issue 1 2003 Article 8], Azizah Y. al-Hibri, volume 27, page 218)
[22] 11th Century Scholar Raghib Al-Isfahani (d. 1108) connects Nushuz to a wife’s sexual “lust toward another man”:
“‘Neshz’ is the pinnacle of soil formed on the ground; rebellion of the woman and her LUST TOWARD ANOTHER MAN IS ‘NUSHOOZ’ (Raghib Al-Isfahani, Mufredat. Item hvf, Damascus and Beirut 1412/1992., online source )
[23] Modern scholars have also agreed that Nushuz here is in reference to “sexual lewdness”:
“If the Prophet used the expression fahisha mubina (a grave and known sin) to mean nushuz, then nushuz in verse 4:34 cannot simply mean “disobedience” of the wife but a “GRAVE SEXUAL SIN”, OR “SEXUAL LEWDNESS” (ABOU EL FADL, 2009, P. 110). HADDAD (2000) AGREES THAT NUSHUZ IN THE VERSE IS A EUPHEMISM FOR ADULTERY because a wife’s primary marital responsibility is spelled out in the hadith as “not allowing whom you hate to enter your bed or your house”. Therefore, nushuz refers to some serious level of misbehavior which could threaten the continuation of the marriage, not just some minor annoyances and the natural give-and-take between partners. The issue of nushuz is particularly important in Islamic law as this is the one condition where jurists agree that the wife revokes her right to maintenance by her husband (Abd al Ati, 1977, pp. 157-159), and where the imperative wadribuhunna may be practiced. But what exactly is meant by wadribuhunna?” (A Critical Examination of Qur’an 4:34 and its Relevance to Intimate Partner Violence in Muslim Families [Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia, 2010] by Nada Ibrahim and Mohamad Abdalla, page 18)
[24] “Jealous husband arrested after killing wife and crashing car in Somerset – jailed for life” NAME: Neil Winn. 10 Jul 2015,
[25] “Jealous husband jailed for strangling nurse wife in her hospital intensive care unit”. NAME: Royston Jones. 11 Feb 2015.
[26] “Jealous husband killed adulterous wife and tried to strangle son”. NAME: Craig Bidgway. 30 Jun 2008
[27] “Jealous husband jailed for baseball bat terror”. NAME: Edward Wright. March 06, 2015,
[28] “Jealous husband ‘killed’ wife over suspected online affair” (Italy). NAME: Giuseppe Castro. 31 Mar 2009,
[29] “Jailed for life: Jealous husband who murdered international concert pianist Natalia Strelchenko is locked up”. NAME: John Martin. 21 MAR 2016
[30] “Jealous Husband Kills Wife’s Lover”. NAME: Ezekiel Igbokwe. Aug 11 2016
[31] “Jury finds Trevino guilty of murder”. Jeffery Trevino killed his wife due her texting messages to another man: “Prosecutors said Trevino killed Steger after he got fed up with her texting the co-worker throughout their date night. Her last text to the man was at 11:44 p.m. telling him that the Minnesota Wild won their game. Prosecutors believe Trevino killed her in their master bedroom within two hours of that text message, put her in the trunk of her car, fueled the car at a gas station on Larpenteur Avenue about 2:10 a.m. on Feb. 22, and dumped her in the river.” OCTOBER 3, 2013,
[32] “Insanely Jealous Husband Shoots Wife’s Friend Over Facebook Messages”. NAME: Christopher Romoleroux. May 1, 2015.
[33] “Cops: Jealous husband turns violent”. NAME: Vernon Degroat Jr. Jul 2, 2015
[34] “Jealous Medway man Peter Wood jailed for trying to murder estranged wife Tina Wood in brutal stabbing in Wainscott when she started new relationship”. NAME: Peter Wood. 14 July 2014.,
[35] “Husband charged over dancer’s death”. NAME: Parminder Singh. January 10, 2015.,
[36] “Jealous husband jailed for life”. NAME: Ian Bains. 16 July 2008.,
[37] “Jealous dad-of-eight knifed wife in heart after seeing her talking to another man.” NAME Robert Bance. 20 JAN 2017.,
[38] Islamic scholar Muhammed al-Tahir Ibn Ashur (1879 – 1973):
“IBN ASHUR ARGUES THAT THE SOLE ADDRESSEE OF 4:34 AND 4:35 WAS THE COURT AUTHORITIES. In most societies, he explained, no license can be given to husbands to discipline their wives violently. This is clear if one applied Shariah procedure at a family level, for only in exceptional circumstances can a person involved in a case also act as the judge who decides guilt and metes out punishment. In addition, experience shows that husbands cannot be trusted to restrain themselves in private. Even if they are told that they can only use light blows, husbands will inevitably ‘quench their anger’ and In all likelihood transgress the limits.’ In urbanized societies and modern states, which enjoy functioning legal systems, Ibn ‘Ashur suggests that the whole verse is addressed to the state and the organs of the court. The authorities (wulat al-umur) are obligated to announce that any man who beats his wife will be punished and assign the duty of disciplining wives to the courts alone. It is the Shariah court judge who hears complaints of a wife’s unacceptable conduct. If she is guilty, the judge admonishes her, separates the couple if necessary and finally orders a beating administered should she refuse to reform.” 22 (al-Tahrir wa’l – Tanwir by Muhammad Tahir Ibn Ashur, volume 5, page 43 – 44) ((Misquoting Muhammad – The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy [Oneworld Publications, 2014], by Jonathan A. C. Brown, page 280)
[39] Professor of Law Khaled Abou El Fadl:
“ALTERNATIVELY 4:34 IS NOT ADDRESSED TO HUSBANDS AT ALL BUT TO THE STATE. Meaning, if there is an allegation of a grave and known sin and it is proven by the resolution of a court, a separation or corporal punishment may be ordered. In case of a disagreement not involving a grave and known sin, an arbitration may be ordered. In other words, THE REMEDY IS NOT LEFT TO THE DISCRETION OF HUSBANDS BUT IS GIVEN TO A COURT. Nothing in 4:34 necessitates that the remedy be in private hands, for history and creation have shown that when it comes to punishment husbands are hardly the one to be trusted.” (The Search for Beauty in Islam: A Conference of the Books [Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, INC, 2006] by Khaled Abou El Fadl, page 112)
[40] There is a report recorded by Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (1058 – 1111 AD), in his book titled, ‘Iyha Ulum al-Deen’ wherein we are told that one of the wives of the Prophet HIT HIM on his chest. The woman’s mother finding out what she had done, “scolded” her In turn the Prophet (p) responded by saying to leave her alone:
“It was also related that one wife hit the Prophet in the chest, so her mother scolded her. The Prophet said, ‘Leave her alone; they [wives] do worse than that.’ (Book On The Etiquette of Marriage – Being the Second Book of The Section on Customs In The Book: The Revival of the Religious Sciences (“Ihya Ulum al-Deen”) [Translated by Madelain Farah – Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, 1984], by Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, part 2 (II), page 95)
[41] This incident is also reported in Musnad Ibn Hanbal:
“It was narrated that Nu‘maan ibn Basheer said: Abu Bakr came and asked permission to enter upon the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), and HE HEARD ‘AA’ISHAH RAISING HER VOICE TO THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH. He gave him permission to enter, so he entered and said: O daughter of Umm Roomaan! – and he grabbed her – do you RAISE YOUR VOICE TO THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH? THE PROPHET SEPARATED THEM, and when Abu Bakr left, the Prophet started saying to her, to make her feel happy: “Do you not see how I intervened between the man and you?” He said: Then Abu Bakr came and asked for permission to enter upon him, and HE FOUND HIM LAUGHING WITH HER. Permission was given to him, and he entered, and Abu Bakr said to him: O Messenger of Allah, make me a partner in your peace as you made me a partner in your war.” (Narrated by Ahmad in al-Musnad, volume 30, page 341- 342. The commentators said: Its isnaad is saheeh according to the conditions of Muslim) (Online source, )
[42] “non-violent (ghair Mubarrih)… doing it with a Miswak (a small stick used cleaning the teeth in the East/Africa) or something that is similar to that.” (Tafsir Sufyan Ibn Uyaynah [Maktabah Asamah – Edition Ahmad Salih Muhayyari – Riyad, 1403/1983], page 235)
[43] In context of Surah 4:34 the earliest exegesis ordered that the beating must not produce open wounds where blood is seen nor broken bones. (See Ahkam al-Quran [Dar al kotob al Ilmiyyah , Beirut, Lebanon], by Ibn al-Arabi, volume 1, page 468; Tafsir Kitab Allah al-Aziz [Beirut – Dar al-Gharb al-Islami, 1990], by Hud b. Muhakkam Huwwariyy, volume 1, page 377; Al-kashshaf an haqaiq ghawamid al-tanzil by al-Zamahshari, volume 1, page 506; and Muharrar, by Ibn Atiya volume 3, page 107) Others went as far as to say that no trace or wound is not permissible. No beating should on the wife’s face (See al-Tafsir al-Kabir by al-Razi, volume 10, page 90 and Hadith reports)
[44] The original English translation of this was not in accord with Arabic text of Imam Ghazali’s Iyha Ulum al-Deen. As such it was amended to suit its original intent of the text:
“Know that good conduct with her means not harming her, also enduring harm from her and forbearance in the face of her fickleness and anger in emulation of the Prophet; for his wives used to talk back to him, and on occasion one would leave him for the whole night.” (Book On The Etiquette of Marriage – Being the Second Book of The Section on Customs In The Book: The Revival of the Religious Sciences (“Ihya Ulum al-Deen”) [Translated by Madelain Farah], by Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, part 2 (II), page 94)
[45] This report is again cited in Sunan an-Nasai, with a slight variation of words:
“Ar-Rubayy’ bint Mu’awwidh bin ‘Afra’ narrated that Thabit bin Qais bin Shammas hit his wife and broke her arm –her name was Jamilah bint ‘Abdullah bin Ubayy. Her brother came to the Messenger of Allah to COMPLAIN ABOUT HIM, and the Messenger of Allah sent for Thabit and said: “Take what she owes you AND LET HER GO.” He said: “Yes.” And the Messenger of Allah ordered her to wait for one menstrual cycle and then go to her family. (Sunan an-Nasa’i volume 4, Book 27, Hadith 3527. Eng. Tran. Hasan Darussalam.
[46] A Man by the name of al-Walid was hitting his wife. The woman came to the Prophet (p) complaining of the mistreatment, the Prophet (p) told her to go back and tell him that she is under the protection of him and that she should not be touched. Al-Walid did not listen. The Prophet (p) asked Allah to deal with him and cursed him for disobeying his order:
“The wife of al-Walid b. Uqbah came to the Prophet of God and complained that her husband hit her. [Prophet Muhammad] said to her, ‘Return to him and tell him ‘The Prophet of God has taken me under his protection [qad ajarani].’ So she went away for an hour or so and then returned saying, ‘O Prophet of God, he did not desist [from beating] me. Muhammed cut a fringe from his robe and handed it to her, saying, ‘Tell him, ‘The Prophet of God has taken me under his protection, and this is a fringe from his robe.’ She left for an hour and returned, saying, ‘O Prophet of God, he only increased in hitting me.’ Then the Prophet of God raised his hands and prayed, ‘O Allah, you deal with al-Walid, for he has sinned against me twice.’ He repeated this two or three times.” (Ghayat Al-Maqsad fi Zawa’id al-Musnad [Beirut – Dar al-Kutub, 2001] by Nur al-Din Ali Ibn Abi Bakr al-Haythami, volume 2, page 262 – 263)
Prophet Muhammed’s stance in this Hadith report clearly conveys very strong disapproval of men who hit their wives.
[47] There is an interesting case in which the second Caliph Umar Ibn al-Khattab (579 – 644 AD) tries to sort out a material issue between a husband and a wife. He sent out two family members two deal with the issues, so that the husband and wife amend their past issues and get on with each other (Surah 4:35). The husband was stubborn, and it seems was continuing to be harsh and cause trouble in his household, Umar Ibn al-Khattab beats him for it. The husband then returns, this time being kind/gentle towards his wife and reconciled their issues. This story is mentioned by the great clasical scholar, Imam Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali (1058 – 1111 AD):
“Umar sent an arbitrator to a couple, but he returned without succeeding in reconciling them; whereupon he [‘Umar] BEAT HIM saying, “Almighty God says, ‘If they desire amendment [reconciliation], Allah will make them of one mind’ [Quran 4:35].“ So the man returned and with [good] intention[s] and gentleness toward them, he reconciled them.” (Book On The Etiquette of Marriage – Being the Second Book of The Section on Customs In The Book: The Revival of the Religious Sciences (“Ihya Ulum al-Deen”) [Translated by Madelain Farah], by Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, part 2 (II), Page 105)
[48] The Hanafite scholar Al-Jassas (917 -981) did not beieve a wife can get a divorce if her husband was abusive, however, he states that the Muslim authorities (Qadi) could do anything in their power to stop him from touching her. And the husband should get punished (Taz’ir) if he hurts her. Some among the Hanafite school believe only the husband has a right of divorcing the wife, not the other way around. The divorce being on the husband’s only is not reflective of Prophet Muhammed’s model and condcuct. For we seen earlier the Prophet (p) divorced Thabit Ibn Qays’s wife when he hurt her.
[49] Classical scholar Al-Nawawi opined that if the husband hit his wife in a way of injury she was entitled to a divorce and “retiribution”:
“18th century reprint 1972) (noting that the hitting may not affect the wife’s bones or flesh. The husband may not resort to hitting his wife if he knows that it would be useless. If the husband hits his wife despite this knowledge, SHE IS ENTITLED TO DIVORCE AND RETRIBUTION). (AL-Nawawi, supra note 91, at 676-77 (stating that hitting may not cause harm or be heavy, cannot be on the face or other vulnerable areas, and if it causes harm, THE WOMAN IS ENTITLED TO DAMAGES); Al-Zuhail, supra note 106, at 7856-57 (noting that the Hanafi and Shafi’i schools of thought would find the HUSBAND LIABLE IF HE HARMED HIS WIFE…). (An Islamic Perspective on Domestic Violence [Fordham International Law Journal, Issue 1. 2003. Article 8], Azizah Y. al-Hibri, volume 27, page 221 – 222)
[50] This was also the opinion of scholar Al-Zuhail:
“Also, if the husband reaches that unfortunate stage of “hitting,” he may hit the wife only with something as gentle as a miswak or handkerchief. 112 (112. See AL-TABARI, supra note 32, at 44; 5 Al-Nawawi, supra note 91, at 676-77 (hitting may not cause harm or be heavy and cannot be on the face or other vulnerable areas and IF IT CAUSES HARM, THE WOMAN IS ENTITLED TO DAMAGES); Al- Zuhail, supra note 106, at 7856.) (An Islamic Perspective on Domestic Violence [Fordham International Law Journal, Issue 1 2003 Article 8], Azizah Y. al-Hibri, volume 27, page 222)
[51] “Ali Gomaa has built on this theme in a small book of fatwas recently written for women. He took the standard late Shafi’i school position that it is not recommended for a man to strike his wife and that HE MUST PAY HER COMPENSATION FOR ANY INJURY HE CAUSES. Men who truly want to follow the model of the Prophet WOULD NEVER BEAT THEIR WIVES.” (Misquoting Muhammad – The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy [Oneworld Publications, 2014], by Jonathan A. C. Brown, page 278)
[52] “109. Among these is the sequential interpretation of the Qur’anic verse 4:34. See supra note 106 and accompanying text. Other limitations are mentioned in Al-Tabari, supra note 32, at 43-45 (noting that the man MAY NOT HIT THE WOMAN DHARB GHAYR MUBRAH WALA MU’ATH.THIR [IN THE FACE, OR HIT SO AS TO CAUSE PAIN OR HARM]); Al-Nawawi, supra note 91, at 676-77 (hitting may not cause harm or be heavy, cannot be on the face or other vulnerable areas. IF IT CAUSES HARM, THE WOMAN IS ENTITLED TO DAMAGES). See id. at 7856-57 (citing medieval jurists as requiring that the “hitting” does not cause fear in the wife, is not directed against the face or abdomen, and other places that could result in serious harm). (An Islamic Perspective on Domestic Violence [Fordham International Law Journal, Issue 1 2003 Article 8], Azizah Y. al-Hibri, volume 27, page 221
[53] While hitting was permissible in situations where the wife was guilty of lewdness or sexual lusfulness towards another man, it was preferable to abandon hitting and more graceful. In Jordan and other Muslim countries, verbal abuse was grounds for granting the wife the right to divorce:
“Finally, given the Qur’anic ideal of marital relations, the majority of Muslim scholars concluded that while the act of “hitting” is permissible in Islam, ABANDONING IT IS PREFERABLE AND MORE GRACEFUL [lajmal]. (Abd Al-Karim Zaydan, Al-Mufassal Fi Ahkam Al-Mar’ah Wa Al-Bayr page, 318 (1994); 5 Al-Razi, supra note 51, at 93.) They also concluded that A WOMAN ABUSED PHYSICALLY OR VERBALLY IS ENTITLED TO DIVORCE FROM HER HUSBAND. (114 This view has been adopted by some personal status codes such as Jordanian Code, Personal Status Code, Provisional Law No. 61 (1976), ch. 12, art. 132; Kuwaiti Code, Personal Status, pt. 1, bk. 1, tit. 3, ch. 1, art. 126.)
They lowered the bar significantly on what counts as abuse, so as to make it include verbal abuse. This interpretation is still reflected in the laws of some Muslim countries today. 115 (115. Certain Codes explicitly specify that VERBAL ABUSE IS GROUNDS FOR GRANTING THE WIFE THE JUDICIAL DIVORCE. See Jordanian Code, supra note 114, ch. 10, art. 132; Kuwaiti Code, supra note 114, pt. 1, bk. 2, tit. 3, art. 126.) (An Islamic Perspective on Domestic Violence [Fordham International Law Journal, Issue 1 2003 Article 8], Azizah Y. al-Hibri, volume 27, page 222)
[54] Imam Ghazali:
“Umar said, “It is necessary that a man be like a child in his family; but if they seek what he possesses, he should be found a man.’ Luq­man said, “A wise man should be like a child in his family, and when he is in public, he should be found a man.” In a commentary on the related khabar, [it is stated that] “GOD DETESTS the ja’zari al jawwaz”; THAT IS, ONE WHO IS HARSH TOWARD HIS FAMILY AND WHO IS ARROGANT. The same explanation has been offered for the term ‘utul used by Almighty God [Qur’an 68:13]: for it has been said that ‘utul designates one who has a harsh tongue and who is cruel toward his family.” (Book On The Etiquette of Marriage – Being the Second Book of The Section on Customs In The Book: The Revival of the Religious Sciences (“Ihya Ulum al-Deen”) [Translated by Madelain Farah], by Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, part 2 (II), page 96)
[55] “The Prophet said, “Let none of you come upon his wife like an animal, and let there be an emissary between them.” He was asked, “What is this emissary, Messenger of God?” He said, “THE KISS AND [SWEET] WORDS.” He also said, “There are three qualities which are considered deficiencies in a man: one, that he should meet someone whose acquaintance he wishes to make but parts from him before learning his name and lineage; second, that he should be treated kindly and reject the kindness’ done unto him; and third, that he should approach his wife and have sexual contact with her before exchanging tender words and caresses, consequently, he sleeps with her and fulfills his needs before he fulfills hers.” (Book On The Etiquette of Marriage – Being the Second Book of The Section on Customs In The Book: The Revival of the Religious Sciences (“Ihya Ulum al-Deen”) [Translated by Madelain Farah], by Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, part 2 (II), page 106 – 107)
[56] Al-Hasan the grandson of Prophet Muhammed, ‘Ali’s son. and the Prophet (p) both emphasised giving daughters away to those who are God fearing. When one who fears God, he will love his wife and be kind to her:
“A man said to al-Hasan, ‘A number of suitors have asked for my daughter’s hand in marriage; to whom should I give her?” He replied, “To the one who fears God; because if he loves her, HE WILL BE KIND TO HER; and if he hates her, he will not wrong her.” The Prophet said, “Whoever gives his daughter in marriage to a licentious man has betrayed her womb.” ’ (Book On The Etiquette of Marriage – Being the Second Book of The Section on Customs In The Book: The Revival of the Religious Sciences (“Ihya Ulum al-Deen”) [Translated by Madelain Farah – Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, 1984], by Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, part 2 (II), page 91)
[57] He the Prophet discouraged women from marrying men who are known for their harshness, as evidenced in the story of Fatimah bint Qays narrated in Sunan Ibn Majah and Sahih Muslim. The Prophet instructed her not marry someone who is abusive. The Prophet (p) wanted her to marry someone who is kind and loving. This Hadith report shows that he very strongly detested abusive men towards women and discouraged marriage with such men:
“I heard Fathima bint Qais say: ‘The Messenger of Allah said to me: “When you become lawful, tell me.” So I told him.’ Then Muawiyah, Abu Jahm bin Sukhair and Usamah bin Zaid proposed marriage to her. THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH SAID: ‘As for Muawiyah, he is a poor man who has no money. As from ABU JAHM HE IS A MAN WHO HABITUALLY BEATS WOMAN. But USAMAH (IS GOOD).’ SHE GESTURED WITH HER HAND, SAYING: ‘USAMAH, Usamah!?’ The Messenger of Allah said to her: ‘Obedience to Allah and obedience to His Messenger is better for you.’ She said: ‘So I married him and I was pleased with him.” (Sunan Ibn Majah volume 3, Book 9, Hadith 1869. Eng. Tran. Sahih, Darussalam)., )
[58] This story is mentioned in Sahih Muslim also:
“My husband Abu ‘Amr b. Hafs b. al-Mughira sent ‘Ayyish b. Abu Rabi’a to me with a divorce, and he also sent through him five si’s of dates and five si’s of barley. I said: Is there no maintenance allowance for me but only this, and I cannot even spend my ‘Idda period in your house? He said: No. She said: I dressed myself and came to Allah’s Messenger. He said: How many pronouncements of divorce have been made for you? I said: Three. He said what he (‘Ayyish b. Abu Rabi’a) had stated was true. There is no maintenance allowance for you. Spend ‘Idda period in the house of your cousin, Ibn Umm Maktum. He is blind and you can put off your garment in his presence. And when you have spent your Idda period, you inform me. She said: Mu’awiya and Abu’l-Jahm were among those who had given me the proposal of marriage. Thereupon Allah’s Apostle said: Mu’awiya is destitute and in poor condition and ABU’L-JAHM IS VERY HARSH WITH WOMEN (or he beats women, or like that), YOU SHOULD TAKE USAMA B. ZAID (AS YOUR HUSBAND).” (Sahih Muslim Book 9, Hadith 3527. Eng. Tran., )
[59] Muhammad ibn Umar and others report that the Prophet said on this occasion: “She among you who fears God and does not commit a manifest abomination [fahisha mubayyina] and sticks to the back of her mat [zahr hasiriha] is my wife in the hereafter” (Ibn Sa’d, Muhammad. Fi l-nisa of Kitab al-tabaqat al-kabir. [Ed. Carl Brockelmann. Leiden: Brill, 1904] Volume 8, page 150). (Women in the Qur’an, Traditions, and Interpretation [Oxford University Press, 1994] by Barbara Freyer Stowasser, page 116)
[60] The triliteral root fa ḥa shin (ف ح ش) occurs 24 times in the Quran, in two derived forms: 17 times as the noun faḥishat (فَٰحِشَة) seven times as the noun faḥsha (فَحْشَآء). The following are the verses: 3:135, 4:15, 4:19, 4:22, 4:25, 6:151, 7:28, 7:33, 7:80, 17:32, 24:19, 27:54, 29:28, 33:30, 42:37, 53:32, 65:1, 2:169, 2:268, 12:24, 16:90, 29:45. In vast majority of these verses the word has connotations of adultery or sexual sin on the part of the wife or the man.$#(12:24:15)
[61] “The Prophet said, “There is a type of jealousy which God detests, and that is the unjustifiable jealousy of a man over his wife when THERE IS NO JUSTIFICATION [FOR SUSPICION]” because that suspicion we have DECREED AGAINST. Certain [types of] SUSPICION ARE SINFUL. ‘Ali said, “Do not indulge excessively in showing jealousy over your wife lest she be accused of evil behavior because of you.” (Book On The Etiquette of Marriage – Being the Second Book of The Section on Customs In The Book: The Revival of the Religious Sciences (“Ihya Ulum al-Deen”) [Translated by Madelain Farah], by Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, part 2 (II), Page 99)
[62] Profesor Azizah Y. al-Hibri on the story of Job:
“An important Qur’anic precedent on the issue of domestic violence is found in the story of Job. (Qur’an 38:44) When Job was being tested, his wife lost her faith and blasphemed.’ As a result, he took an oath to hit her as punishment. A dilemma was thus created: a prophet should not engage in violent and unworthy behavior towards his wife. On the other hand, a prophet may not violate his oath. The divine solution to this dilemma is expressed in a Qur’anic verse, which instructs Job to satisfy his oath to hit his wife by “hitting” her with a handful of fragrant grass (or basil). 123 The intent was to satisfy the promise without harming the wife. In this way, Prophet Job resolved his dilemma. 123 (123. The word dighth in Qur’anic verse 38:44 means a handful of grass or even basil. See 5 Ibn Abdin, Radd Al-Muhtar 659 (Dar Al-Kutub Al-‘Ilmiyya, 19th century reprint 1994) (explaining the meaning of dighth as a handful of basil, also noting that others stated that it meant “a handful of grass or thin branches”). Cf Ibn ‘Abdin argues that the use of basil by Job is a special case, reflecting God’s mercy, and cannot be generalized to other women.) (An Islamic Perspective on Domestic Violence [Fordham International Law Journal, Issue 1 2003 Article 8], Azizah Y. al-Hibri, volume 27, page 223)
[63] (An Islamic Perspective on Domestic Violence [Fordham International Law Journal, Issue 1 2003 Article 8], Professor Azizah Y. al-Hibri, volume 27, page 223 – 224)
[64] The Maliki Madhahib which is in North Africa, West Africa and parts of central eastern Arabian peninsula allowed a woman to get automatic divorce if the man was cruel, or failed to maintain her and other reasons:
“The Maliki Sunnis allowed a woman to divorce on several additional grounds, including cruelty, desertion, failure to maintain, affliction with a dangerous disease or insanity.” (Women’s Studies Encyclopedia – Revised And Expanded Edition, [Library Of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication, 1999] (edited) by Helen Tierney, volume 2, (G-P), page 748)