[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]

Voluntarily or by Force & Killing for a Dowry

John C. Rankin

Muḥammad sends ‘Amr to raid Dhātu’l-Salāsil “to convoke the Arabs to war on Syria.” In the process he seeks inclusion in the Muslim leadership, and has a conflict with Abū Bakr, who says: “God [Allāh] sent Muhammad with his religion and he strove for it until men accepted it voluntarily or by force.”

“When the apostle died and Abū Bakr was set over men I went to him and reminded him that he had forbidden me to assume authority over two Muslims. He said he still forbade me to do so, and when I asked him what induced him to assume authority over every one he said that he had no alternative; he was afraid that Muhammad’s community would split up.”

Abū Bakr sums up the missionary ethic of Islām – all people must submit to it, whether of free will or by imposition. Ibn Isḥāq carefully and repeatedly undergirds this thesis, and making it a virtual conclusion point for the Sīra.

Following an incident where a Muslim kills a Muslim due to a quarrel, and revenge is pursued, Ibn Isḥāq reports about a man named Ibn Ḥadrad who promises two hundred dirhams as a dowry for a woman of his tribe. He asks Muḥammad for help, and he says, “Good gracious, if you could get dirhams from the bottom of a valley you could not have offered more! I haven’t the money to help you!”

Thus, Ibn Ḥadrad lies in ambush for the chief of the B. Jusham called Rifā‘a b. Qays, who is planning to attack Muḥammad. “As he went he passed by me, and when I came in range I shot him in the heart with an arrow, and he died without uttering a word. I leapt upon him and cut off his head and ran in the direction of the camp shouting ‘Allah akbar’ … We drove off a large number of camels and sheep and brought them to the apostle and I took Rifā‘a’s head to the apostle, who gave me thirteen of the camels to help me with the woman’s dowry, and I consummated my marriage.”

Assassination for money, and as rewarded by Muḥammad.

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