Thursday, September 13, 2012

Defending the Prophet: methodology of Qur'an and Sunnah

A movie depicting the 'controversial' sides of the life of the Prophet [Sall Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam] has prompted protests at US embassies in some areas of the Muslim world, and even has resulted in the tragic and unjustified killing of the US envoy to Libya, Christopher Stevens.

That this 'movie' [which I watched, a very cheesy collection of disparate images and themes] trailer is an attempt to provoke Muslims to react emotionally is obvious when we consider the 'mystery' [as BBC words it] surrounding those who produced it. Indeed, the logistics of making "Innocence of Muslims" sounds like some sort of really badly prepared James Bond film. It is also a bit suspicious that the film would only recently be translated into Arabic and that, on the anniversary of the 9/11 attack, in the middle of a fierce presidential contest, increased tensions between Iran and Israel, in the midst of what is going on in Syria, that this intellectual suicide of a production would be promoted within Muslim media outlets.

Yet, the heart of the issue is not the motivations of Sam Bacile or whatever made up names he and his associates [or whatever agencies/organizations they are involved with]. The issue is not what they say, because they have always been speaking against the Prophet, against the Qur'an and and Islam. That is apparent throughout the Qur'an itself, which actually quotes some of those insults. Rather, the core issue lies within us, US, the followers of Islam!


The love Muslims have for the Messenger of Allah is apparent to anyone even slightly familiar with Islam.This has been briefly outlined in our comments on Soorah Al-Kauthar [[url][url]]. Yet, we cannot allow our love to be used and manipulated for political or ideological purposes. To use an analogy, if an African American is called "The N word", a violent response would not be acceptable. The recipient of the insult who responds with violence will not be let off by the legal system just because his feelings were hurt, even if pushed into it by way of instigation.

Allah says in the Qur'an " O you who have faith! Be those who consistently stand before God, witnesses for justice [and fair play]. Do not allow the opposition of another people to direct you in any way other than that of justice [and fair play]. Be just, as [the doing of ] justice is the closest [act that displays] piety. God is aware of what you do. God's promise, to those with faith, and who conduct themselves as doers of good/ those who reconcile, is [Divine] forgiveness/protection, and a magnificent reward." [Q 5:8-9].

The Prophet was called names, many of which are recorded in the Qur'an. Among those names and insults are "Crazy" [Majnoon], "Soothsayer"  [Kaahin],  "an ear:" [Udhunun][ft.1], yet, not only does the Qur'an stay silent in terms of some violent response, it speaks of the Prophet's congenial nature in general, and of overlooking and forgiving those who, out of hatred and jealousy, seek to provoke [ 9:128 and 2:109].

We need to be reminded of the Qur'anic description of believers. Among the characteristics, we have it that when ignorant people address us, we are to say 'peace' and leave them alone [Q 25:63].

Evidence is key to addressing controversy

The best source of evidence, or material for which to prove one's case Islamically, or when referencing the Prophet, is the Qur'an itself.We are told, in Arabic, wa jaahidhum bihi Jihaadan Kabeeran. "and make Jihad with it [i.e. Qur'an], and a mighty Jihad it is." [Q 25:52].

The Qur'an needs to become central in our explanations, because it is the most important source in Islam! It contains all we need in order to combat, intellectually, those whose hearts are filled with hatred.

Prophet's actions as related in the Hadeeth literature

In Madinah, where he was in control, there was present therein enemies, of all stripes. One narration [Saheeh Al-Bukhari 78:38] states that while with his wife, the youthful and spirited 'A'ishaa, May Allah be pleased with her, enemies came to him and said, to his face "Die"! Yet, he, the head of state, did not respond. When his wife made a response out of emotion, he told her "be gentle!" [Mahlan].

Moreover, it is well known, even to the anti-Islamic forces, that when the Prophet, upon whom be peace and blessings, overcame his enemies in their own capital [Makkah], he issued an amnesty, one which even extended to those who brutally killed his uncle!

Such a man would not give approval to attacks on innocent parties.

Concluding thoughts:

This "Innocence of Muslims" production has raised an issue with the true age of 'A'ishaa at the time of marriage. It is popularly assumed that the marriage took place at six, and its consummation at nine. Before analyzing this, it's important to remember that in the hadeeth literature to a great extent and to a lesser on the books of Tareekh and Fiqh, we find quotes and statements that are often devoid of any context, leaving the reader to just muddle through. Now, this narration about her age, which may be something as simple as misstating two numbers on the part of a narrator, has been examined by a number of writers, particularly in English and Urdu, from many angles, found to be untrue in light of other hadeeths and historical facts. For this writer, I think its sufficient to note that the Seerah literature says that A'ishaa had been engaged before her engagement and subsequent marriage to the Prophet, i.e. in the time before Islam, to one Jubair ibn Mut'im. Marriages were not something to just discard like unwanted food, and 'child marriage' was not a habit of the Arabs. The point being is that two engagements by the age of at least 6, that would be untenable to say the least! Moreover, while the hadeeth and seerah literature tell us many of the objections raised against the Prophet, the issue of 'A'ishaa and his marriage to her is not mentioned, meaning, had the opponents, contemporary to the Prophet,  been able to say something about it, they would have, but there is no record of them ever doing so! Indeed, it is only a modern controversy, with the advent of Orientalist writers [many of whose pioneering scholars were Christian clergy] in the last century, that has made his marriage with her an issue at all!

If this line of reasoning is not convincing, let us turn to the Qur'an. It speaks of 'age of marriage' [Balaagh an Nikaah]. The verse [ 4:6] referenced deals specifically with property, being turned over by guardians of wards when they reach Balaagh an Nikaah. That is certainly not at six or nine years of age, for males or females, in any society!

We do not say this in consideration of Western sensitivities. Indeed, it's diverse even now, with legal marriageable ages varying from 16-21, while just a century or two before marriages at younger ages were not uncommon. We say these things in investigation of truth, of shining light wherein no light had been present before.

A Muslim's moral compass is the word of Allah, over culture, habits or any other source. This includes how we deal with others, and our perception of Allah's messenger, the final Prophet, a mercy to all nations.

[1] "He is an ear", is recorded in Qur'an 9:61. Al Fat-h al Qadeer [Imam Shawkanee] says that they used this expression to denote their view that the Prophet was naive, unable to distinguish between truth and falsehood."

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