[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]
Muḥammad Orders Killing of the Poet Abū ‘Afak
John C. Rankin
Abū ‘Afak was one of the B. ‘Amr b. ‘Auf of the B. ‘Ubayda clan. He showed his disaffection when the apostle killed al-Ḥārith b. Suwayd b. Ṣāmit and said:
“Long have I lived but never have I seen an assembly or collection of people more faithful to their undertaking and their allies when called upon then the sons of Qayla when they assembled, men who overthrew mountains and never submitted.
“A rider who came to them and split them in two (saying) ‘Permitted,’ ‘Forbidden,’ of all sorts of things. Had you believed in glory or kingship you would have followed Tubba‘.”
The apostle said, “Who will deal with this rascal for me?” whereupon Sālim b. ‘Umayr, brother of B. ‘Amr b. ‘Auf, one of the ‘weepers,’ went forth and killed him. Umāma b. Muzayriya said concerning that:
“You gave the lie to God’s [Allāh’s] religion and the man Aḥmad! By him who was your father, evil is the son he produced! A ḥanīf gave you a thrust in the night saying ‘Take that Abū ‘Afak in spite of your age!’ Though I knew whether it was man or jinn who slew you in the dead of night (I would say naught).”
An old man, angry because of a prior assassination by Muḥammad, is not to be allowed to live, due to mere words of disaffection, and though Sālim is the explicit killer, he plays on words suggesting that perhaps a jinn did it.