Slander, Blasphemy & Censorship

Which Muhammad Rules?

NPR ignores a powerful question in Islamic law.

BY CounterJihad · @CounterjihadUS | March 11, 2016

It is not every day that Islam’s Muhammad gets such good press as he did from America’s National Public Radio today.  The author, Tom Gjelten, wants you to know what a wonderful person Muhammad was.  He liked cucumbers, dying his hair, cool drinks, and clean fingernails.  He cites a Knoxville imam’s method as useful:

Even what seems like the most trivial detail — what kind of sandal he wore, for instance — serves a purpose: humanizing Muhammad, making it easier for Muslims to emulate him.

Hassan argues that if Muslims had more knowledge of how the Prophet Muhammad actually lived and what he taught, they would be less vulnerable to extremist propaganda….

He cites the abundance of examples from the Hadith that emphasize charity and respect for other faiths.

The tradition associated with the Prophet Muhammad, Hassan says, “has never been radicalized and has always produced beauty, always produced involvement in the community, always produced tolerance.”

The danger of speaking this way is partly that it ignores the other example left by the very same man, the example of murderous war against non-believers.  The other danger is that it ignores a well-established tradition in sharia law about how to understand Muhammad’s instructions.  The tradition uses the principle of naskh, an Arabic word that is often translated as “abrogation.”  Under this principle, what Muhammad said last governs in the case of a conflict between verses said by Muhammad.  The violent verses came last, because Muhammad’s wars were waged toward the end of his life.

This is an old and well-established standard of Islamic law.  “[T]he principle of abrogation of an older verse by a new verse of Quran, or within the Hadiths became a well established principle in Sharia at least by the 9th century.[3][4][5”  

This tradition of Islamic law has thus held firm for many centuries.  It could change, of course, and there are some within the Islamic world who would like to change it.  The Herald of Malaysia recently interviewed one Muslim scholar who would like to reverse the principle of naskh, interpreting Muhammad’s earlier and more peaceful verses as being the ones that govern.  Islam will not survive if it fails to do this, he argues.  His arguments are worth quoting at length, because they are the arguments of a real scholar from the Islamic world engaged in the problems that NPR paints over.

[E]xtremism has been endemic in Islam, present almost from the beginning of Islamic history. Muslims fought among themselves and quite vehemently even before the collection of Hadith and codification of [sharia], over a hundred to up to 300 years after the demise of the Prophet (pbuh), but they now consider them divine. Muslims have still not found an antidote to militant verses in the Quran that are now available to anyone with access to internet….  Saying that it is a Muslim’s primary religious duty to help establish God’s sovereignty on earth and impose “divine” [sharia] Laws is only a way to deepen extremism…  Muslims will just have to abandon the generally accepted current theology that leads to violence and supremacism and evolve a new theology, a coherent theology of peace and pluralism, consistent in all respects with the teachings of Islam, and suitable for contemporary and future societies….

ISIS may be militarily defeated tomorrow and even go out of existence. But this will not solve the problem of Muslim radicalisation. If our madrasas and educational institutions continue to prepare the ground for self-segregation and militancy, expounding the current theology… Muslims will continue to struggle to fit in the way of life in the contemporary world.

Unfortunately, the task is not so easy. For hundreds of years now, major Muslim theologians have been engaged in creating a coherent theology of intolerance and violence in order to expand the Islamic reach. They have conclusively made the lower form of Jihad, i.e., warfare, compulsory for all able-bodied Muslims.

That is the real work that has to be done if Islam and the West are to live together.  Being honest about the challenge is the first step.


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