[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 Woman Poet ‘Asmā’ D. Marwān + Tally of Assassinations

John C. Rankin

‘Asmā’ d. Marwān is of the B. Umayya b. Zayd, a woman poet: “When Abū ‘Afak had been killed she displayed disaffection. Blaming Islam and its followers she said:

“I despise B. Mālik and al-Nabīt and ‘Auf and B. al-Khazraj. You obey a stranger who is none of yours, one not of Murād or Madhḥij.

“Do you expect good from him after the killing of your chiefs like a hungry man waiting for a cook’s broth? Is there no man of pride who would attack him by surprise and cut off the hopes of those who expect aught from him?”

Ḥassān b. Thābit answered her:

“Banū Wā’il and B. Wāqif and Khaṭma are inferior to B. al-Khazraj. When she called for folly woe to her in her weeping, For death is coming.

“She stirred up a man of glorious origin, noble in his going out and his coming in. Before midnight he dyed her in his blood and incurring no guilt thereby.”

When the apostle heard what she had said[,] he said, “ ‘Who will rid me of Marwān’s daughter?’ ‘Umayr b. ‘Adīy al-Khaṭmī who was with him heard him, and that very night he went to her house and killed her. In the morning he came to the apostle and told him what he had done and he said, ‘You have helped God [Allāh] and His apostle, O ‘Umayr!’ When he asked if he would have to bear any evil consequences[,] the apostle said, ‘Two goats won’t butt their heads about her,’ so ‘Umayr went back to his people.”  Now there was a great commotion among B. Khaṭma that day about the affair of Bint Marwān. She had five sons, and when ‘Umayr went to them from the apostle he said, “I have killed Bint Marwān, O sons of Khaṭma. Withstand me if you can; don’t keep me waiting. That was the first day that Islam became powerful among B. Khaṭma; before that those who were Muslims concealed the fact. The first of them to accept Islam was ‘Umayr b. ‘Adīy who was called ‘the Reader,’ and Abdullah b. Aus and Khuzayma b. Thābit. The day after Marwān was killed the men of B. Khaṭma became Muslims because they saw the power of Islam.”

Thus, at the order of Muḥammad, a woman poet is assassinated in her house at night. Then he sends the very assassin after the fact in an in-your-face taunt to her five sons, those who would otherwise avenge their mother’s murder. ‘Umayr comes not just as one man, they realize, but with the armies of Muḥammad behind him, as it were, and thus “the power of Islam” is set forth. Vengeance is thus precluded, for her sons and likewise her whole tribe. Insulting poetry, even by a woman, calling for a tribe to protect itself against outside imposition, is not to be tolerated. And the men of her tribe do not answer her call, but cower and yield to Islām on these terms.

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Tally of Assasinations

Muḥammad orders the assassination of a number of opponents and poets, including women, due to insult or religious/political opposition; most but not all are carried out, as some successfully flee, and others end up submitting to Islām out of fear for their lives – e.g., Ka‘b b. al-Ashraf; carte blanche against any Jew, and thus the Jewish merchant Ibn Sunayna; Mu‘ādh b. ‘Afrā’; Sallām Ibn Abū’l Ḥuqayq; Abū Sufyān; ‘Abdullah b. Sa‘d; ‘Abdullah b. Khaṭal and his two singing girls; al-Ḥuwayrith b. Nuqaydh b. Wahb b. ‘Abd b. Quṣayy; Miqyas b. Ḥubāba; Sāra, freed slave of one of the B. ‘Abdu’l-Muṭṭalib; ‘Ikrima b. Abū Jahl; some unnamed Qurayshī poets; Ka ‘b b. Zuhayr; Ibn al-Ziba‘rā; Hubayra b. Abū Wahb; his prayers to Allāh are said to kill ‘Āmir b. al-Ṭufayl and Arbad b. Qays; al-Hunayd b. ‘Ūṣ , along with his son and three others; Ibn Sufyān b. Nubayḥ al-Hudhalī; [Rifā‘a b. Qays]; [‘Uthmān b. Mālik b. ‘Ubaydullah al-Taymī ]; Abū ‘Afak; and ‘Asmā’ d. Marwān. Others are also killed in like fashion, and/or in an overlap with such specific assignments, such as Rāfi’b Abū’l-Ḥuqayq.

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