[Excerpts, with occasional modest edits, from The Real Muḥammad: In the Eyes of Ibn Isḥāq, copyright 2013, TEI Publishing House. All quotations from the Sīrat Rasūl Allāh (“Life of the Messenger of Allāh”) are from the translation by Alfred Guillaume (Oxford University Press), copyright 1955. These stories are faithfully passed along from the most ancient, extant and authoritative biography of Muḥammad. All Muslims are called to imitate Muḥammad in their daily lives, and Muslim scholars know that Ibn Isḥāq is the best source for the historical Muḥammad, despite concern for various hon-historical material. The question is this: Can Muḥammad satisfy the Muslim thirst for freedom? How many people, of their own volition, would follow Muḥammad if they were free to choose otherwise? The same question is freely received by Muslims who would question Christians who follow Jesus as the Son of God]
John C. Rankin
Diḥya b. Khalīfa al-Khalbī is transporting some merchandise for Muḥammad, and near the wādi of Shanār, “ ‘al-Hunayd b. ‘Ūṣ and his son ‘Ūṣ of Ḍulay‘, a clan of Judhām[,] attacked Diḥya and seized everything he had with him. News of this reached some of the al-Ḍubayb of the kin of Rifā‘a b. Zayd [al-Judhāmī], who had become Muslims, and they went after al-Hunayd and his son … They recovered what Hunayd and his son had taken and restored it to Diḥya, and Diḥya went off and told the apostle what had happened[,] and asked him to let him kill al-Hunayd and his son. The apostle sent Zayd b. Ḥāritha against them and that was what provoked the raid of Zayd on Judhām.” Al-Hunayd, his son and three others are tracked down and killed accordingly.
‘Abdullah b. Rawāḥa approaches a Jew in Khaybar, al-Yusayr b. Rizām, who is organizing the Ghaṭafān to attack Muḥammad. He comes to him and says if he would come to the apostle he would give him an appointment and honour him. “They kept on at him until he went with them with a number of Jews … until when he was in al-Qarqara, about six miles from Khaybar, al-Yusayr changed his mind about going to the apostle.” Then ‘Abdullah draws his sword, rushes him and cut off his leg. “Al-Yusayr hit him with a stick of shuaḥat wood which he had in his hand and wounded his head. All the apostle’s companions fell on their Jewish companions and killed them except one man who escaped on his feet … On the second occasion ‘Abdullah b. ‘Atīk raided Khaybar and killed Rāfi’b Abū’l-Ḥuqayq.”
In this latter instance, it looks like an assassination run, but without attribution as to whether Muḥammad orders it, or if it is ‘Abdullah’s initiative.
Ibn Sufyān b. Nubayḥ al-Hudhalī is collecting a force to attack Muḥammad. So Muḥammad sends ‘Abdullah b. Unays to kill him, and tells him, “If you see him he will remind you of Satan. A sure sign is that when you see him you will feel a shudder.” ‘Abdullah does so, sees him with a number of women in a howdah, feels the shudder and kills him. Muḥammad promises him a special reputation that will go with him to the resurrection day.
In the raid of Ghālib b. ‘Abdullah al-Kalbī, on the country of B. Murra, a man of the Anṣār kills Mirdās b. Nahīk. This is reported by Usāma b. Zayd, even though as Mirdās is attacked, he pronounces the shahāda [confession of Islamic faith]. As this is reported to Muḥammad, Usāma is rebuked: “ ‘Who will absolve you, Usāma, from ignoring the confession of faith?’ I told him that the man had pronounced the words merely to escape death; but he repeated the question and continued to do so until I wished that I had not been a Muslim heretofore[,] and had only become one that day[,] and that I had not killed the man. I asked him to forgive me and promised that I would never kill a man who pronounced the shahāda. He said, ‘You will say it after me, Usāma?’ and I said that I would.”
The statement of the shahāda is always a means to avoid being killed. It locks the person into Islām, where to leave Islām later is apostasy, that which carries with it the death sentence.