[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]

‘Amr b. Umayya Kills a Handicapped Man

John C. Rankin

There is a raid on Dūmatu’l-Jandal by ‘Abdu’l-Raḥmān b “Auf; and where Muḥammad says: “[Fight] everyone in the way of God [Allāh] and kill those who disbelieve in God [Allāh]. Then he orders ‘Amr b. Ummaya to assassinate Abū Sufyān while in Mecca, taking along with him one of the Anṣārī. But he is recognized and has to flee to a cave outside the city.

“While we were in the cave up came ‘Uthmān b. Mālik b. ‘Ubaydullah al-Taymī cutting grass for a horse of his. He kept coming nearer until he was at the very entrance of the cave. I told my friend who he was and that he would give us away to the Meccans, and I went out and stabbed him under the breast with the dagger. He shrieked so loud that the Meccans heard him and came towards him.”

The Meccans get to ‘Uthmān at his last breath, learn who the assailant is, but are so preoccupied with taking care of his body that they cannot search for ‘Amr, who stays in the cave for two days until the pursuit is over.

In then leaving the vicinity of Mecca: “I continued on foot until I looked down on the valley of Ḍajnān. I went into a cave there taking my bow and arrows, and while I was there, in came a one-eyed man of B. al-Dīl driving a sheep of his. When he asked who I was I told him that I was one of the B. Bakr. He said that he was also, adding of the B. al-Dīl clan. Then he lay down beside me and lifting up his voice began to sing:

“ ‘I won’t be a Muslim as long as I live, nor heed to their religion give.’

“I said (to myself), ‘You will soon know!’ and as soon as the badu was asleep and snoring[,] I got up and killed him in a more horrible way than any man has been killed. I put the end of my bow in his sound eye, then I bore down on it until I forced it out at the back of his neck.”

On leaving the cave, Umayya sees two Meccans sent to spy on Muḥammad: “I recognized them and called on them to surrender, and when they refused I shot one and killed him, and the other surrendered. I bound him and took him to the apostle … Now I had bound my prisoner’s thumbs with my bowstring, and when the apostle looked at him he laughed so that one could see his black teeth. He asked me my news and when I told him what had happened he blessed me.”

Islām advances here by ‘Amr b. Ummaya’s brutal murder of a handicapped man, for a simple melodic declaration that he will not become a Muslim. Muḥammad laughs at the pain inflicted on a captured enemy, and blesses ‘Amr b. Ummaya for such killings.

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