Muhammad Fact Check

← back to home

Myth #8: Muhammad demanded slaughter of the pluralistic Meccans

Did Muhammad demand slaughter of the Pluralistic Meccans?

Ibn Ishaq records the full background surrounding this allegation as follows:

“When the Quraysh became distressed by the trouble caused by the enmity between them and the apostle and those of their people who accepted his teaching, they stirred up against him foolish men who called him a liar, insulted him, and accused him of being a poet, a sorcerer, a diviner, and of being possessed. However, the apostle continued to proclaim what God had ordered him to proclaim, concealing nothing, and exciting their dislike by condemning their religion, forsaking their ideals, and leaving them to their unbelief.” [1]

Already we see that Prophet Muhammad’s only “crime” was openly preaching his faith. No complaints are made against him for being violent or instigating violence—rather, complaints of enmity are raised because Prophet Muhammad disavowed idol worship. Ibn Ishaq records “foolish men” were stirred up to call Prophet Muhammad a liar—clearly demonstrating that the wise and educated well understood that Prophet Muhammad was quite the opposite.

Yahya bin Urwa bin al-Zubair on the authority of his father from Abdullah b. Amr b. Al-As relates:

“While they [the Meccans] were … discussing him [Muhammad], the apostle came towards them and kissed the black stone, then he passed them as he walked round the temple [Ka‘aba]. As he passed they said some injurious things about him. This I could see from his expression. He went on and as he passed them the second time they attacked him similarly. This I could see from his expression. Then he passed the third time, and they did the same. He stopped and said, ‘Will you listen to me O Quraysh? By him who holds my life in His hand, I bring you slaughter [Dhabh].’ This word so struck the people that not one of them but stood silent and still; even one who had hitherto been most violent spoke to him in the kindest way possible, saying, ‘Depart, O Abu’l-Qasim [2], for by God you are not violent.’ So the apostle went away…” [3]

Facts demonstrate that Prophet Muhammad patiently bore repeated insults while he peacefully worshiped. His allegedly violent statement was, instead, reactionary. Moreover, it was merely a reflection of what prophets are wont to do—warn their people to stop their abuse. In fact, Prophet Muhammad’s statement is no different than Prophet Moses declaring, “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn – both men and animals – and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD.” [4] Similarly there is Jesus Christ’s proclamation, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on Earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” [5] The most telling testimony is that of the very people insulting Prophet Muhammad, who declared, “O [Muhammad], by God you are not violent!”

What remarkable testimony! The same people, critics claim to be victims of Prophet Muhammad’s alleged tyranny, not only openly insult Prophet Muhammad without fear of reprisal, but recognize that whatever he meant in using the word “slaughter,” one thing was for sure—by God, Prophet Muhammad is not violent. People who fear a tyrant do not repeatedly insult him to his face. They certainly do not swear by God that the alleged tyrant is not violent. Rather, we see a people that aggressively engaged Prophet Muhammad, insulted him repeatedly, yet recognized that he was, above all, a peaceful man.

Yahya bin Urwa bin al-Zubair further reports that after Prophet Muhammad peacefully left the company of those insulting him, the next day the Meccan idol worshipers—unprovoked—tried to murder Prophet Muhammad:

“… [The Meccan leaders] assembled in the Hijr, I being there too, and they asked one another if they remembered what had taken place between them and the apostle so that when he openly said something unpleasant they let him alone. While they were talking thus the apostle appeared, and they leaped upon him as one man and encircled him, saying, ‘Are you the one who said so-and-so against our gods and our religion?’ The apostle said, ‘Yes, I am the one who has said that.’ And I saw one of them seize his robe. Then Abu Bakr interposed himself weeping and saying, ‘Would you kill a man for saying Allah is my Lord?’ Then they left him… Abu Bakr returned that day with the hair of his head torn [because] they had dragged him along by his beard.” [6]

The Meccans—unprovoked—attacked and attempted to assassinate Prophet Muhammad, even after they swore by God that he was not a violent man. The attack was so vicious that even Abu Bakr, companion and First Khalifa of Prophet Muhammad, literally had his hair and beard ripped from his face as he tried to protect Prophet Muhammad from certain death.

More telling, perhaps, is that Abu Bakr proclaimed Prophet Muhammad’s “crime,” for which they tried to kill him—simply declaring that Allah is his Lord. That is—Prophet Muhammad’s crime for which the Meccans tried to murder him was exercising his freedom of speech. At no point did any of Prophet Muhammad’s enemies allege that their desire to kill him was due to an injustice he committed, any wrong he had done, or any person he had harmed.

Prophet Muhammad was anything but a persecutor. Rather, he was a model of compassion on such a profound level that even his most hardened enemies could not help but swear by God that he was not a violent man. Prophet Muhammad’s contemporaries—critics and friends alike—unreservedly proclaimed this fact.

[1] Alfred Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad – A Translation of Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah 131 (Oxford University Press, 1955).

[2] Per Arab tradition, a man was referred to as the father of his son. Muhammad was called Abu al-Qasim (Abu’l Qasim) or Father of Qasim on account of his young son Qasim, who passed away in infancy.

[3] Alfred Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad – A Translation of Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah 131 (Oxford University Press, 1955).

[4] Exodus 12:12.

[5] Matthew 10:34.

[6] Alfred Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, 131 (Oxford University Press, 1955).

Learn more at a "Muhammad, Messenger of Peace" event in your area. Click here.