Muhammad's Cruelty Against the People of Ukl

Sam Shamoun

Bassam Zawadi replied to our criticism of Muhammad’s excessive cruelty towards the Uraynians.

Zawadi writes:

Muslims believe in equality, which is a universal principle.

Surah 16:126

And if ye do catch them out, catch them out no worse than they catch you out: But if ye show patience, that is indeed the best (course) for those who are patient.

The reason why the Prophet applied such a brutal punishment to those Bedouins was because the Prophet found out that those Bedouins did the same exact thing to the shepherd. 

You can read the Tafsir for that hadith here

Therefore, the punishment that was ordered upon them was fair and just because they deserved to feel and endure what they made that poor shepherd feel. (Bassam Zawadi, Was Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) Unfair In The Way He Punished The Armed Robbers From The Tribe Of Ukl?; source)


Zawadi’s appeal to Sura 16:126 will severely backfire against him for several reasons. First, Zawadi doesn’t inform his readers that Muslim scholars such as Ibn Kathir believed that this text was abrogated by the command to fight unbelievers (jihad):

The Command for Equality in Punishment

Allah commands justice in punishment and equity in settling the cases of rights. ‘Abdur-Razzaq recorded that, concerning the Ayah, …

<then punish them with the like of that with which you were afflicted.> Ibn Sirin said, "If a man among you takes something from you, then you should take something similar from him."' This was also the opinion of Mujahid, Ibrahim, Al-Hasan Al-Basri, and others. Ibn Jarir also favored this opinion. Ibn Zayd said: "They had been commanded to forgive the idolators, then some men became Muslim who were strong and powerful. They said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, if only Allah would give us permission, we would sort out these dogs!’ Then this Ayah was revealed, THEN IT WAS LATER ABROGATED BY THE COMMAND TO ENGAGE IN JIHAD." (online edition)

The verses regarding Jihad include Sura 9:5, 29 etc. Muslimah Aisha Bewley provides a translation of several Muslim scholars’ exegesis of Sura 9:5:

Ibn Juzayy:

(Then when the sacred months are over) i.e. the four months designated for them. Those who say that they are Shawwal, Dhu’l-Qa’da, Dhu’l-Hijja and al-Muharram, says that they are the well-known Sacred Months - with the addition of Shawwal and omission of Rajab. They are called "sacred" because the majority dominates in an Arabic phrase. Those who say that they last until Rab' ath-Thani calls them sacred because of their inviolability and because fighting in them was forbidden.

(kill the mushrikun wherever you find them) ABROGATING EVERY PEACE TREATY IN THE QUR’AN. It is said that it abrogates, "by setting them free or ransom." (47:4) It is also said that it is abrogated by it and so setting them free and ransom are permitted. (seize them) means to capture, and the one taken is the captive.

(If they make tawba) after disbelief. Then He connects belief to the prayer and zakat. That is an indication that one should fight anyone WHO ABANDONS THE PRAYER AND ZAKAT as Abu Bakr as-Siddiq did. The ayat encompassed the meaning of the Prophet’s words, "I am commanded to fight people until they say, 'There is no god but Allah and establish the prayer and pay the zakat." (let them go on their way) granting them security.


(when the sacred months are over) have gone and the term is complete. (kill the idolaters wherever you find them) In sacred or profane land. (and besiege them) in fortresses and forts until they are forced out, being killed or becoming Muslim.

[Ibn Kathir states that is not enough to merely find them, but they must be besieged in their strongholds and fortresses. You must wait for them on their pathways and roads so that what was previously ample becomes constricted for them and you force them to either be killed or become Muslim.]

(lie in wait for them on every road)

[As-Sawi: So that they do not disperse in the land.]

(if they make tawba and ... pay the zakat)

[Ibn Kathir notes that Abu Bakr as-Siddiq relied on this noble ayat when he fought those who refused to pay the zakat since the prohibition against fighting them WAS BASED ON ENTERING INTO ISLAM AND CARRYING OUT ITS OBLIGATIONS.]

(let them go on their way) do not attack them.

[As-Sawi: Do not attack their persons or property and do not take jizya, 'ushr or anything else from them.]

(Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful) to the one who turns in repentance.


This is an Ayat of the Sword WHICH ABROGATES PARDON, TRUCE AND OVERLOOKING. (seize them) is used as evidence for the permission to take captives. (and besiege them) is permission for besieging and raiding and attacking by night. Ibn Abi Hatim reported that Abu 'Imran al-Jawfi said that ribat in the way of Allah is found in the words, "lie in wait for them on every road." (if they make tawba and establish the prayer and pay the zakat, let them go on their way) Repentance from shirk is not enough to let them go their way until they establish the prayer and pay the zakat. Ash-Shafi'i took this as a proof FOR KILLING ANYONE WHO ABANDONS THE PRAYER and fighting ANYONE WHO REFUSES TO PAY ZAKAT. Some use it as a proof that they are kafirun. (Bewley, Surat at-Tawba: Repentance -- Tafsir, source; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)

Second, Sura 16:126 doesn’t clarify Sura 5:33 but actually contradicts it. Note what the latter verse actually commands:

The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom; Pickthall

Sura 5:33 doesn’t demand equal retribution since the word corruption (fasad) can refer to someone who speaks out against Muhammad and/or Islam. This means that the above prescribed punishments will be inflicted on a person even if the individual hasn’t caused any physical injury to anyone:

The Punishment of those Who Cause Mischief in the Land
Allah said next, ...
<The recompense of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and do mischief in the land is only that they shall be killed or crucified or their hands and their feet be cut off on the opposite sides, or be exiled from the land.>

'Wage war' mentioned here means, OPPOSE AND CONTRADICT, and it includes DISBELIEF, blocking roads and spreading fear in the fairways. Mischief in the land refers to various types of evil. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Volume 3, p. 161; online edition; capital emphasis ours)

Ibn Kathir wrote in reference to Sura 2:11-12:

Meaning of Mischief
In his Tafsir, As-Suddi said that Ibn `Abbas and Ibn Mas`ud commented, ...

<And when it is said to them: "Do not make mischief on the earth," they say: "We are only peacemakers.">

"They are the hypocrites. As for, ...
<"Do not make mischief on the earth">, that is DISBELIEF AND ACTS OF DISOBEDIENCE." Abu Ja`far said that Ar-Rabi` bin Anas said that Abu Al-`Aliyah said that Allah's statement, ...
<And when it is said to them: "Do not make mischief on the earth,">, means, "Do not commit acts of disobedience on the earth. Their mischief is DISOBEYING Allah, because whoever disobeys Allah on the earth, OR COMMANDS THAT ALLAH BE DISOBEYED, he has committed mischief on the earth. Peace on both the earth and in the heavens is ensured (and earned) through obedience (to Allah)." Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and Qatadah said similarly. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Volume 1, Parts 1 and 2 (Surat Al-Fatihah to Verse 252 of Surat Al-Baqarah), abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, Lahore; First Edition: January 2000], pp. 131-132: online edition; capital emphasis ours)


Types of Mischief that the Hypocrites commit
Ibn Jarir said, "The hypocrites commit mischief on earth BY DISOBEYING THEIR LORD on it and continuing in the prohibited acts. They also ABANDON WHAT ALLAH MADE OBLIGATORY AND DOUBT HIS RELIGION, even though He does not accept a deed from anyone EXCEPT WITH FAITH IN HIS RELIGION and certainty of its truth. The hypocrites also lie to the believers by saying contrary to the doubt and hesitation their hearts harbor. They give as much aid as they can, against Allah's loyal friends, and support those who deny Allah, His Books and His Messengers. This is how the hypocrites commit mischief on earth, while thinking that they are doing righteous work on earth."
The statement by Ibn Jarir is true, taking the disbelievers as friends is one of the categories of mischief on the earth... (Ibid., p. 132; online source; capital emphasis ours)

Hence, Sura 5:33 is prescribing extremely cruel punishments not just on those who physically wage war against Muslims, but even on those who deny that Islam is true or that Muhammad is a true prophet. Basically, this injunction gives Muslims the right to punish any individual simply for questioning Muhammad since this is viewed as waging war and spreading corruption!

Moreover, Sura 16:126 also contradicts verses such as the following:

O believers, prescribed for you is retaliation, touching the slain; freeman for freeman, slave for slave, female for female. But if aught is pardoned a man by his brother, let the pursuing be honourable, and let the payment be with kindliness. That is a lightening granted you by your Lord, and a mercy; and for him who commits aggression after that -- for him there awaits a painful chastisement. S. 2:178 Arberry

Note just how incoherent this passage truly is. Is the citation saying that a freeman who wrongly kills a slave man will not be put to death for it, nor the man who kills a woman? If so, does this also apply in the case of the reverse, i.e. a slave who kills a free man shall not be put to death or the woman who kills a man? What happens if a woman kills a slave or vice-versa?

More importantly, how can a person carry out just retribution when the above text places freemen, females and slaves on different levels? In other words, how can this be just when the formulation of the verse implies that a freeman will not be put to death for a slave, or for a woman etc.?

The commentators don’t help resolve the situation, but only compound the problem and complicate matters. Muslim scholar Mahmoud M. Ayoub writes:

(178) It is related by Wahidi that this verse was sent down concerning two feuding Arab tribes. The stronger of the two vowed to kill a free man for a slave, a man for a woman, and two men for only one man of the other tribe. This practiced continued until Islam came and the verse was sent down to regulate the practice of retaliation (Wahidi, p. 44; see also Tabari, II, pp. 99-100).

Jurists have, however, disagreed concerning the details of this law. Zamakhshari reports, according to 'Umar ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz, Hasan al-Basri, 'Ata, and 'Ikrimah, with whom both Malik and al-Shafi'i agreed, "A FREE MAN MAY NOT BE KILLED FOR A SLAVE, NOR A MALE FOR A FEMALE." They regarded the verse as explaining the ordinance (Q. 5:45): "A soul for a soul." On the other hand, according to Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab, al-Sha'bi, al-Nakh'i, Qatadah, and Sufyan al-Thawri with whom Abu Hanifah agreed, this verse was abrogated by God's saying: "A soul for a soul." Hence the law of retaliation applies equally to the slave and the free man and the male and the female. They base their argument on the Prophet's saying, "The lives [lit. bloods] of all Muslims are equal" (Zamakhshari, I, p. 331). (Ayoub, The Qur'an and its Interpreters [State University of New York Press (SUNY) Albany 1984], Volume I, pp. 185-186; underline and capital emphasis ours)

Ibn Kathir claimed that this reference, much like 16:126, has also been abrogated! He even admitted that a Muslim would not be killed for an unbeliever:

Allah's statement…

<the free for the free, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female.>

was ABROGATED by the statement life for life (5:45). However, the majority of scholars agree that the Muslim is not killed for a disbeliever whom he kills. Al- Bukhari reported that `Ali narrated that Allah's Messenger said…

<The Muslim is not killed for the disbeliever (whom he kills).>

No opinion that opposes this ruling could stand correct, nor is there an authentic Hadith to contradict it. However, Abu Hanifah thought that the Muslim could be killed for a disbeliever, following the general meaning of the Ayah (5:45) in Surat Al-Ma'idah (chapter 5 in the Qur'an).

The Four Imams (Abu Hanifah, Malik, Shafi`i and Ahmad) and the majority of scholars stated that the group is killed for one person whom they murder. `Umar said, about a boy who was killed by seven men, "If all the residents of San`a' (capital of Yemen today) collaborated on killing him, I would kill them all.'' No opposing opinion was known by the Companions during that time which constitutes a near Ijma` (consensus). There is an opinion attributed to Imam Ahmad that a group of people is not killed for one person whom they kill, and that only one person is killed for one person. Ibn Al-Mundhir also attributed this opinion to Mu`adh, Ibn Az-Zubayr, `Abdul-Malik bin Marwan, Az-Zuhri, Ibn Sirin and Habib bin Abu Thabit. Allah's statement…

<But if the killer is forgiven by the brother (or the relatives) of the killed (against blood money), then it should be sought in a good manner, and paid to him respectfully.> refers to accepting blood money (by the relatives of the victim in return for pardoning the killer) in cases of intentional murder. This opinion is attributed to Abu Al-`Aliyah, Abu Sha`tha', Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, `Ata' Al-Hasan, Qatadah and Muqatil bin Hayyan. Ad-Dahhak said that Ibn `Abbas said…

<But if the killer is forgiven by the brother (or the relatives) of the killed (against blood money)> means the killer is pardoned by his brother (i.e., the relative of the victim) and accepting the Diyah after capital punishment becomes due (against the killer), this is the `Afw (pardon mentioned in the Ayah).'' Allah's statement…

<…then it should be sought in a good manner,> means, when the relative agrees to take the blood money, he should collect his rightful dues with kindness…

<and paid to him respectfully.> means, the killer should accept the terms of settlement without causing further harm or resisting the payment.

Allah's statement…

<This is an alleviation and a mercy from your Lord.> means the legislation that allows you to accept the blood money for intentional murder is an alleviation and a mercy from your Lord. It lightens what was required from those who were before you, either applying capital punishment or forgiving.

Sa`id bin Mansur reported that Ibn `Abbas said, "The Children of Israel were required to apply the Law of equality in murder cases and were not allowed to offer pardons (in return for blood money). Allah said to this Ummah (the Muslim nation)…

<The Law of equality in punishment is prescribed for you in case of murder: the free for the free, the servant for the servant, and the female for the female. But if the killer is forgiven by the brother (or the relatives) of the killed (against blood money),>

Hence, `pardoning' or `forgiving' means accepting blood money in intentional murder cases.'' Ibn Hibban also recorded this in his Sahih. Qatadah said…

<This is an alleviation from your Lord> Allah had mercy on this Ummah by giving them the Diyah which was not allowed for any nation before it. The People of the Torah (Jews) were allowed to either apply the penal code (for murder, i.e., execution) or to pardon the killer, but they were not allowed to take blood money. The People of the Injil (the Gospel - the Christians) were required to pardon (the killer, but no Diyah was legislated). This Ummah (Muslims) is allowed to apply the penal code (execution) or to pardon and accept the blood money.'' Similar was reported from Sa`id bin Jubayr, Muqatil bin Hayyan and Ar-Rabi` bin Anas.

Allah's statement…

<So after this whoever transgresses the limits, he shall have a painful torment.> means, those who kill in retaliation after taking the Diyah or accepting it, they will suffer a painful and severe torment from Allah. The same was reported from Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ata' `Ikrimah, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, As-Suddi and Muqatil bin Hayyan. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir on Sura 2:178; online edition; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)

The so-called sound narrations confirm the position that Muslims are not to be put to death for the murder of an infidel:

Narrated Ash-Sha’bi:

Abu Juhaifa said, "I asked Ali, ‘Have you got any book (which has been revealed to the Prophet apart from the Qur'an)?’ ‘Ali replied, ‘No, except Allah’s Book or the power of understanding which has been bestowed (by Allah) upon a Muslim or what is (written) in this sheet of paper (with me).’" Abu Juhaifa said, "I asked, ‘What is (written) in this sheet of paper?’ Ali replied, it deals with the Diya (compensation (blood money) paid by the killer to the relatives of the victim), the ransom for the releasing of the captives from the hands of the enemies, and the law that NO Muslim should be killed in Qisas (equality in punishment) for the killing of (a disbeliever).’" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 3, Number 111)

Narrated Abu Juhaifa:

I asked ‘Ali "Do you have anything Divine literature besides what is in the Qur’an?" Or, as Uyaina once said, "Apart from what the people have?" ‘Ali said, "By Him Who made the grain split (germinate) and created the soul, we have nothing except what is in the Quran and the ability (gift) of understanding Allah's Book which He may endow a man, with and what is written in this sheet of paper." I asked, "What is on this paper?" He replied, "The legal regulations of Diya (Blood-money) and the (ransom for) releasing of the captives, and the judgment that no Muslim should be killed in Qisas (equality in punishment) for killing a Kafir (disbeliever)." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 83, Number 50)

Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-'As:

The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: A believer will not be killed for an infidel. If anyone kills a man deliberately, he is to be handed over to the relatives of the one who has been killed. If they wish, they may kill, but if they wish, they may accept blood-wit. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 39, Number 4491)

Narrated Ali ibn AbuTalib:

Qays ibn Abbad and Ashtar went to Ali and said to him: Did the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) give you any instruction about anything for which he did not give any instruction to the people in general?

He said: No, except what is contained in this document of mine. Musaddad said: He then took out a document. Ahmad said: A document from the sheath of his sword.

It contained: The lives of all Muslims are equal; they are one hand against others; the lowliest of them can guarantee their protection. Beware, a Muslim must not be killed for an infidel, nor must one who has been given a covenant be killed while his covenant holds. If anyone introduces an innovation, he will be responsible for it. If anyone introduces an innovation or gives shelter to a man who introduces an innovation (in religion), he is cursed by Allah, by His angels, and by all the people.

Musaddad said: Ibn AbuUrubah's version has: He took out a document. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 39, Number 4515)

Where is the justice in all of this?

Finally, Sura 16:126 states that it would have been better for Muhammad to simply forgive those who dealt treacherously with him:

And if you chastise, chastise even as you have been chastised; and yet assuredly if you are patient, better it is for those patient. Arberry

This is a point which the Quran reiterates more than once:

So for their breaking their compact We cursed them and made their hearts hard, they perverting words from their meanings; and they have forgotten a portion of that they were reminded of; and thou wilt never cease to light upon some act of treachery on their part, except a few of them. Yet pardon them, and forgive; surely God loves the good-doers. S. 5:13 Arberry

Not equal are the good deed and the evil deed. Repel with that which is fairer and behold, he between whom and thee there is enmity shall be as if he were a loyal friend. S. 41:34 Arberry

Remember that the recompense of an injury is an injury the like thereof; but whoso forgives and thereby brings about an improvement, his reward is with ALLAH. Surely, HE loves not the wrongdoers. S. 42:40 Sher Ali –cf. 17:33

But instead of doing what was better, Muhammad couldn’t refrain himself from inflicting torture on individuals who had attacked his shepherds and took off with his herd. What makes this all the more ironic is that these men did to Muhammad the very same thing that he and his followers had already done to the caravans of others (see this article)!

Let us summarize the contradictions and chaos that spring from the foregoing data:

  1. Suras 5:45, 16:126, 17:33, 42:40 speak of just retribution, essentially prescribing the law of retaliation as found in the Holy Bible (cf. Exodus 21:23-25).
  2. Yet Suras 2:178 and 5:33 contradict these Quranic references since it prescribes unfair punishments depending on a person’s status, religion, gender etc.
  3. As a result of these contradictions, and in order to explain them away, certain Muslim scholars conveniently appealed to the doctrine of abrogation.
  4. Yet these scholars didn’t really help resolve the issues since there were disagreements between them, i.e. was Sura 16:126 abrogated by the verses on jihad, did Sura 5:45 abrogate 2:178 etc.?
  5. Moreover, the hadith literature, specifically the so-called sound narrations, prohibits a Muslim from being killed for murdering an unbeliever, an infidel.
  6. Muhammad’s torture of the Uraynians failed to do the more righteous thing, to follow the better way, as prescribed in passages such as 5:15; 16:126; 41:34; 42:40.

For more on these issues the readers can consult the following articles:

Zawadi continues:

My Response:

Lets look at each claim first. Shamoun says that the Prophet should have cut the hands and feet from opposite sides. However, the incident took place before the verse was even revealed and the Prophet was not obliged to obey it because it was not even revealed yet. 

However, there are narrations that state that the Prophet did order the cutting of their hands and feet from opposite sides.


Al Hafiz said: there is a narration by Al Tirmidhi which says on opposite sides. 

So its possible that the Prophet did order the cutting of the hands and feet from opposite sides. Therefore, if it is POSSIBLE then you can't use it as sufficient evidence to accuse the Prophet. However, either way this verse was sent down after the incident and the Prophet did not technically disobey the Quran.


Zawadi either missed the point or decided to ignore it. The narrations which we cited clearly showed that Sura 5:33 was given after Muhammad had committed this vicious act. The purpose of the text was to dictate how Muhammad was to treat those who would wage war against him and the Muslims. The problem with this is that Allah was a little too late. After all, why didn’t Muhammad’s god reveal this text beforehand in order to prevent the brutal torture which Muhammad inflicted on the Uraynians? Why did he only reveal it after these men were viciously executed?

Moreover, Zawadi’s claim that Muhammad may have cut off their hands and feet again misses the point since he would have done this in addition to branding their eyes out and causing them to die of thirst. Muhammad went above and beyond the prescribed punishments of Sura 5:33, which is why he was supposedly rebuked by Allah. Yet Allah could have prevented all this by simply sending down Sura 5:33 beforehand.


As for the Prophet's refusal to give them water. Well there are different opinions.....


And Qadi Iyad said regarding the refusal to their request of water that on who so ever there is a duty to kill, providing that person with water is not forbidden, and he answered that this was not the order of the Prophet peace be upon him and he never refused to provide them with water. Al Hafiz said and it is a very weak narration that the Prophet peace be upon him indirectly ordered it because his silence was enough for the ruling of his judgment.

And Al Khattabi said: The Prophet peace be upon him wanted them to die that way

(of thirst) and said: The wisdom behind letting them get thirsty is because they disbelieved in the blessing of the milk of the camel that was a cure for them; and because the Prophet peace be upon him also called for the thirst of those who made his Ahlul Bayt thirsty in a story narrated by Al Tirmidhi.

Al Nawawi was also of the opinion that if Muslims don't have enough water for ablution, they shouldn't be obliged to make Tayamum and therefore could let the apostate warrior die of thirst. (Source:

It is also said in Fathul Wadud that the Prophet let them die of thirst as Qisas because they did so to the shepherd. (Source:

I absolutely see nothing wrong with what the Prophet did. The Prophet either never ordered it, or did it because indeed those warriors deserved it.


First, let us see if Muhammad wasn’t responsible for the refusal to grant them water:

Narrated Anas bin Malik:
A group of eight men from the tribe of 'Ukil came to the Prophet and then they found the climate of Medina unsuitable for them. So, they said, "O Allah’s Apostle! Provide us with some milk." Allah's Apostle said, "I recommend that you should join the herd of camels." So they went and drank the urine and the milk of the camels (as a medicine) till they became healthy and fat. Then they killed the shepherd and drove away the camels, and they became unbelievers after they were Muslims. When the Prophet was informed by a shouter for help, he sent some men in their pursuit, and before the sun rose high, they were brought, and he had their hands and feet cut off. Then he ordered for nails which were heated and passed over their eyes, and whey were left in the Harra (i.e. rocky land in Medina). They asked for water, and nobody provided them with water till they died (Abu Qilaba, a sub-narrator said, "They committed murder and theft and fought against Allah and His Apostle, and spread evil in the land.") (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 261)

Narrated Anas bin Malik
A group of people from Ukl (or 'Uraina) tribe--but I think he said that they were from 'Ukl- came to Medina and (they became ill, so) the Prophet ordered them to go to the herd of (Milch) she- camels and told them to go out and drink the camels’ urine and milk (as a medicine). So they went and drank it, and when they became healthy, they killed the shepherd and drove away the camels. This news reached the Prophet early in the morning, so he sent (some) men in their pursuit and they were captured AND BROUGHT TO THE PROPHET before midday. He ordered to cut off their hands and legs and their eyes to be branded with heated iron pieces and they were thrown at Al-Harra, and when they asked for water to drink, they were not given water. (Abu Qilaba said, "Those were the people who committed theft and murder and reverted to disbelief after being believers (Muslims), and fought against Allah and His Apostle)." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 82, Number 797)

Note that these narrations explicitly state that the men were brought to Muhammad who gave the Muslims the order to do what they did to them. Since these hadiths come from the so-called sound collections this means that, contrary to Qadi Iyad, it is not a weak narration which says that Muhammad indirectly ordered this cruelty. After all, Muhammad could have intervened or rebuked his followers for refusing to give them water. In fact, we have a challenge for Zawadi that is rather simple:

Please provide a so-called sound narration where Muhammad rebuked the Muslims for not giving the Uraynians water to drink.

In point of fact, the statements by the Qadi agree fully with our analysis since he doesn't deny that Muhammad refused to give his captors any water. Rather, he denies that Muhammad did so explicitly:

And Qadi Iyad said regarding the refusal to their request of water that on who so ever there is a duty to kill, providing that person with water is not forbidden, and he answered that this was not the order of the Prophet peace be upon him and he never refused to provide them with water. Al Hafiz said and it is a very weak narration that the Prophet peace be upon him indirectly ordered it BECAUSE HIS SILENCE WAS ENOUGH FOR THE RULING OF HIS JUDGMENT.

And Al Khattabi said: The Prophet peace be upon him WANTED THEM TO DIE THAT WAY (OF THIRST) and said: The wisdom behind LETTING THEM GET THIRSTY is because they disbelieved in the blessing of the milk of the camel that was a cure for them; and because the Prophet peace be upon him also called for the thirst of those who made his Ahlul Bayt thirsty in a story narrated by Al Tirmidhi.

It is rather obvious that Zawadi didn't read his own quote carefully.

Moreover, note just how weak and lame al-Nawawi’s justification is. These men didn’t receive water because there wasn’t enough of it for ablution?! So does this mean that Zawadi would have no problems with the Jews refusing to give captured Muslims water on the grounds that they wouldn’t have enough for their ritual washings?

Furthermore, Zawadi’s argument once again presupposes that Muhammad was simply repaying the Uraynians for what they had done; yet he has provided no tradition from the earliest sources or from the so-called sound narrations stating that these men refused to give the shepherd any water. In light of this, we have another challenge for Zawadi:

Please provide a reference from Ibn Ishaq or the Sahihayn stating that the Uraynians refused to give water to Muhammad’s shepherd before killing him.

We need to repeat this point again. The fact that Sura 5:33 was supposedly given in connection to Muhammad’s brutality shows that Muhammad’s torturing these individuals went above and beyond the Islamic standards of so-called just retribution.

Moreover, Zawadi’s statements that Muslim sources contradict each other regarding whether Muhammad refused to give them water or not confirms what we have been saying over and over again. It simply proves just how confused and chaotic the Islamic sources and Muslim scholarship truly are! With every rebuttal Zawadi produces he only manages to further expose just how utterly shallow and intellectually bankrupt Islam really is.

Finally, Zawadi’s candid admission that he sees nothing wrong with what Muhammad did should greatly trouble the readers. It is because Muslims see nothing wrong with Muhammad’s cruel acts and cold-blooded murders that we find so much violence and bloodshed in the Muslim world throughout history and also today. After all, doesn’t the Quran say that Muhammad is the example for Muslims to emulate?

Verily in the messenger of Allah ye have a good example for him who looketh unto Allah and the Last Day, and remembereth Allah much. S. 33:21 Pickthall

And thou dost, surely, possess sublime moral excellences. S. 68:4 Sher Ali

Zawadi tries to address the hadiths which say that Sura 5:33 was sent down to rebuke Muhammad:

And he said he heard Muhammad Ibn Ajlan say: This verse has come down on the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him as a recrimination in that and taught him the punishment of people like them from cutting and killing and refusal (refusing to give the water) and he did not pierce the eyes of anyone after them. He said this statement has been mentioned to Ibn Umar, he renounced the fact this verse came down as a recrimination and said that indeed the punishment of those men was by their eyes (meaning they deserved to have their eyes pierced) then this verse came down as a punishment for anyone besides them for who fought after them and the piercing of the eyes as a punishment was over.

Of course, I would take the opinion of Ibn Umar as he was one of the greatest scholars of Islam. This just goes to show that some companions of the Prophet misunderstood the reason for this revelation.

God did not reprimand the glorious Prophet.

Even for sake of argument, lets say that God did indeed reprimand the Prophet. He would have reprimanded him for doing something wrong. Because we know that the Prophet made mistakes and that God would correct the Prophet at times.


Note again the confusion and contradictions that exist amongst Muslim sources. We cited Abu Dawud to confirm that Allah rebuked Muhammad with the "sending down" of Sura 5:33, with Zawadi providing another source from Ibn Ajlan that concurs:

And he said he heard Muhammad Ibn Ajlan say: This verse has come down on the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him as a recrimination in that and taught him the punishment of people like them from cutting and killing and refusal (refusing to give the water) and he did not pierce the eyes of anyone AFTER THEM

Zawadi thinks that by citing Ibn Umar this will somehow undermine all these other narrations, when all this does is once again expose the completely chaotic and confusing state of Islamic scholarship.

Besides, Zawadi conveniently failed to address all the other narrations such as Ibn Kathir which admit that Sura 5:33 was given after Muhammad’s brutal treatment of the Uraynians. Note, for instance, how this source connects the injunctions of Sura 5:33 with the incident of Ukl:

Killing Apostates and People who strive to cause Mischief.

Anas told that some people of ‘Ukl who had come to the Prophet and accepted Islam found Medina unhealthy, so he ordered them to go to the camels of the sadaqa and drink some of their urine and their milk. They did so and became well, after which they apostatised, killed the herdsmen and rove off the camels. So he sent people in pursuit of them, and when they were brought he had their hands and feet cut off and their eyes put out and left them to die without cauterizing them to stop the flow of blood. A version says nails were driven into their eyes. Another says he ordered nails to be heated and after having them blinded with them he had them thrown out on the harra, and although they begged for water they were left to die without being given any. (Bukhari and Muslim) (Mishkat Al Masabih - English translation with explanatory notes by Dr. James Robson, [Sh. Muhammad Ahsraf Publishers, Booksellers & Exporters, Lahore-Pakistan, Reprinted 1990], Volume I, Chapter V, Book XV.- Retaliation, pp. 752, 753; bold and underline emphasis ours)

1. Cf. Qur’an, v. 33, 64 (Ibid., p. 752; bold and underline emphasis ours)

The question that Zawadi needs to address is what is the exact correlation with Sura 5:33 and the Uraynians? Why do all these Muslim sources connect this commandment to Muhammad cruelly murdering these men?

The answer should be obvious. The reason Sura 5:33 was given was to prevent such atrocious and excessive acts of brutality from ever being committed again. This is apparent even from Ibn Umar’s alleged statements:

… He said this statement has been mentioned to Ibn Umar, he renounced the fact this verse came down as a recrimination and said that indeed the punishment of those men was by their eyes (meaning they deserved to have their eyes pierced) then this verse came down as a punishment FOR ANYONE BESIDES THEM for who fought after them and the piercing of the eyes as a punishment WAS OVER.

Thus, instead of refuting our claim Zawadi has only provided further attestation for it with this reference!

In fact, we are not the only ones to see just how cruel this makes Muhammad look. Note what this Muslim writer says in relation to the incident with the Uraynians:

Below is a set of narrations concerning the standard of character depicted for our beloved prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him), to be found within the Sahih Collection by Imam Bukhari as well as by Muslim. Please also read the two Verses of the Glorious Qur'an which reveals a picture given to us by Allah (s.w.t.) for His Messenger. Since the heart, soul and the mind of an Honest Believer cannot Truthfully reconcile with these TWO conflicting pictures emerging from TWO extreme spectrums of the standard, should he or she continue to follow his or her ancestral practice with a load of hypocrisy and pretense upon SOUL or hold fast to what our Rabb has revealed? (Akbarally Meherally, The Standard of Character Depicted for our Beloved Prophet (s.a.s.) within the Qur'an and by Bukhari and Muslim; online source; underline emphasis ours)

He proceeds to quote Suras 21:107 and 68:4 regarding Muhammad being a mercy and having an exalted character, and then contrasts these claims with the narrations found in Bukhari and Muslim regarding the brutality shown against the Uraynians.

Meherally wasn't alone in voicing criticisms against these narrations. Asif Jalil states before quoting the incident with the Uraynians that:

Certain reports in Bokhari, if accepted as authentic, portray the Messenger of Allah in a very bad light. How such reports got included in the Hadith compilations is a mystery. The best approach is to ignore them as inauthentic. But it is strange that some religious leaders try to interpret them in a way to soften their blow so that the sanctity of these reports is not affected. Strange is the attitude of these fans of the Messenger of Allah who let his image get tarnished but do not like to see the Hadith compilers (who were definitely no better than the Messenger of Allah) proven wrong. It really is the question of their survival. Without these reports, they have no justification for existence in a Muslim society. There were no religious leaders in the time of the Messenger of Allah and the righteous caliphs. These reports date from the era of autocratic rule when it all began.

The anti-Islam propaganda is never based upon the Quran except perhaps that it is the personal work of the Messenger of Allah. It all springs from the Muslim Literature of history and Tradition.

Bokhari contains 67 reports which mutilate the Messenger of Allah's moral and ethical character. Many are downright sexually embarrassing. I do not propose to list those in this book as they are not worthy of our respectable female readers. Some examples which are not sexually explicit are as follows: (Jalil, Samples from Sahih Bukhari; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

One Shiite author writes:

Can a Muslim believe that the Prophet of Allah (P), who forbade mutilation, himself mutilates these people, cutting off their hands and feet, and branding their eyes because they slaughtered his herder? Had the narrator said that these people had mutilated the herder, there would have been some justification for the Prophet to punish them in the same way. That was not the case, so how could the Prophet of Allah (P) kill and mutilate them in this way without investigation and cross examination until it became clear who among them was the murderer so that he could kill him for that? Perhaps some would say that they all participated in killing him, could the Prophet of Allah (S.A.W.) not forgive and pardon them for they were Muslims as proved by their words "O Prophet of Allah?" Did the Prophet of Allah not hear Allah's words: "And if you punish them, then punish them the way you were punished. And if you are patient then that is better for those who are patient" (16:126).

This verse was revealed to the Prophet of Allah (S.A.W.) when his heart was burning over his uncle, the master of the martyrs, Hamza b. 'Abd al-Muttalib whose stomach they had slashed open, and eaten his liver and cut his private parts. The Prophet was enraged when he saw his uncle in that condition. He declared: "Should Allah let me prevail over them, I will mutilate seventy [of them]". Whereupon the verse was revealed unto him and he said: "I shall be patient, O my Lord". He then forgave Wahshi, the murderer of his uncle as well as Hind who had mutilated his pure body and ate his liver. This was the [true] character of the Prophet (P).

What proves the repulsive [nature] of the narration and that the narrator himself found it abominable, is that he followed it up by saying: "Qatada said: 'Muhammad b. Sirin informed me that this occurred before legal punishments were revealed ...'" to justify, by that, the actions of the Prophet (P). Far removed be the Prophet from judging by himself before his Lord made matters clear to him. If he did not judge in even trivial matters until revelation came to him, what do you think about matters pertaining to blood and penalties?

It is very easy for anyone who reflects upon the matter to realise that it is a narration forged by the Umayyads and their followers to please the rulers who did not hesitate to kill innocent people based on suspicion and accusation, mutilating them in a hideous manner. The proof of this is what came in the end of the report itself which al-Bukhari reported saying: "Salam said: 'I came to know that Hajjaj said to Anas: 'Tell me the severest punishment the Prophet meted out', and Anas reported this [hadith ]'. When al-Hasan came to know this he said: 'I wish he had not told him this'".

The hadith stinks of the smell of fabrication to please al-Hajjaj al-Thaqafi who caused havoc in the land and murdered thousands of innocent followers of the ahl al-bayt, mutilating them. He used to cut off their hands and feet and brand out their eyes. He would take out the tongues from the back of the heads and crucify those alive until they were burnt by the sun. Narrations such as these justify his actions for he was simply following the Prophet of Allah: "And you have in the Prophet of Allah a good example". There is no power or strength except with Allah.

As a result, Mu'awiya became an expert in punishment and mutilation of Muslims who were the followers of 'Ali. How many were burnt to death? How many were buried alive? How many were crucified on branches of date palms? One of the arts which his minister 'Amr b. al-'As invented was that he mutilated Muhammad b. Abu Bakr, then clothed him in the skin of an ass and then cast him into the fire.

To justify their craze and great infatuation with maidservants and women, here are some narrations [which they quote]. (Sayed Mohamed Tijani Smaoui, Ask Those Who Know, Chapter 7, The Prophet inflicts a vile penalty and mutilates Muslims ; online source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

In light of the foregoing, Zawadi’s concession that if Allah did reprimand Muhammad this would be no huge problem on the basis that Muhammad made mistakes is quite astonishing to say the least. Zawadi obviously doesn’t realize that this admission is directly at odds with the classic Islamic position that Allah protected the prophets from committing major sins and errors (known as masum). What Muhammad did wasn’t simply a mistake but outright torture and barbarity, which are major transgressions.

At least Zawadi has the backing of the Quran at this point since it unapologetically affirms that Muhammad was a sinner who committed major offenses. See the following for the details:

Now that we have drawn near to the conclusion of our rebuttal we have some questions to ask of Zawadi. In fact, most of these questions are taken from Silas’ excellent article discussing Muhammad’s brutal killing of the Uraynians (here):

  1. What happened to Muhammad’s prophethood? After all, he was supposed to be in contact with Allah so then why didn’t Allah send down his decision [cf. Sura 5:33] before he killed these men in such a brutal fashion?
  2. Was it necessary for Muhammad to torture the criminals the way he did? Obviously not since Zawadi cited the following text:
  3. And if ye do catch them out, catch them out no worse than they catch you out: But if ye show patience, that is indeed the best (course) for those who are patient. S. 16:126 Y. Ali

    Why didn’t Muhammad follow the better way and remit the punishment, taking Allah’s advice to be patient with those who committed these crimes? After all, didn’t Muhammad himself have his men attack and plunder caravans as well?

  4. What would the Muslims of today say if the Israelis were to torture Islamic terrorists in the same way? What would the world say? What does your heart say?
  5. If Muslims today condemn the atrocities that some peoples have perpetrated upon their fellow Muslims, then shouldn't they condemn the actions of Muhammad himself? What's good for the goose is good for the gander. If Muslims today justify Muhammad's actions upon his enemies, then they have no right to complain about many (not all) of the suffering inflicted upon fellow Muslims by their enemies.
  6. If Muhammad was allowed by Allah to do this to the criminals, and Muslims are commanded to follow Muhammad's lifestyle, then what does this say about real Islamic society?

Zawadi concludes his rebuttal by bringing up the Old Testament in reference to God having commanded that even animals be killed. The example he mentions is 1 Samuel 15, a text which we have already thoroughly addressed:

So we won’t defend that subject here apart from saying that this is nothing more than the fallacy of tu quoque, and shows that Zawadi knew he didn’t have a good enough response to the issues that we had raised against his prophet. He therefore decided to divert attention away from his prophet’s cruelty by attacking the OT Scriptures, but in so doing Zawadi has only raised additional problems for his religion.

Is Zawadi trying to prove that Muhammad’s cruelty is justified in light of the (so-called) cruel teachings of the OT? If so then he hasn’t vindicated Muhammad’s atrocities but only proven that the Bible’s teachings are just as evil and wicked as Muhammad’s instructions and practices.

Or is he saying that God in the Bible is crueler than Allah since the former commanded that even animals be killed whereas the latter didn’t? If so then this exposes Zawadi’s ignorance of Islam since the Quran mentions Allah destroying entire places and populations by flood, fire, winds etc., i.e. Sodom, Noah’s folk, the people of Thamud etc. These destructions definitely included animals as well.

Moreover, Muhammad demanded that certain dogs be killed on the basis that some of them were devils and that angels do not enter places where there are dogs:

Narrated Abu Talha:
The Prophet said, "Angels do not enter a house witch has either a dog or a picture in it." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Number 539)

Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Umar:
Allah's Apostle ordered that the dogs should be killed. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Number 540)

For more on this please read the following articles:

Since Zawadi had a problem with the true God killing animals does he now have a problem with his god and prophet for showing cruelty to animals as well?

Even more important: Does Zawadi really want to say that killing animals is worse than torturing human beings?

The foregoing should show that Zawadi’s attack on the OT teachings does absolutely nothing to vindicate Muhammad’s extreme viciousness and excessive cruelty.

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