MUHAMMAD AND THE MUSLIMS FROM URAYNAH
During the year 628 A.D., eight men from the clan of Uraynah, came to Medina. They became Muslims. While they were there they got sick. Muhammad prescribed a medicine for them: he told them to drink camel milk and camel urine. After the men got better, they brutally murdered the shepherd of the camels, stole the camels, and tried to escape. Muhammad sent an armed party of 20 men after them. They were caught and brought back to Medina. There, Muhammad pronounced their judgment: their eyes were branded with hot irons, then plucked out, their hands and feet were cut off, and then, while still alive, they were thrown out on the hot desert to die.
By this time, Muhammad had climbed to the top of power in Medina. Men from different areas would often come to Medina for various reasons. Some of them would convert to Islam and submit to Muhammad. One of the more strange events that took place at this time was Muhammad's prescription of camel urine as medicine and then the apostasy and punishment of the men who had come from Uraynah to Medina.
These men were not used to the climate in Medina, and they got sick. Muhammad told them to go and drink camel milk and urine as a medicine. Afterwards, when they felt better, they decided to steal the camels. In doing this they brutally murdered the shepherd of the camels.
As the ruler of the Muslims in Medina Muhammad correctly felt he needed to take action against the men from Uraynah. He sent out a posse who promptly captured the Uraynians and brought them back to Medina. Obviously they had to pay for their crimes. There Muhammad pronounced a cruel judgment against them.
PRESENTATION OF ISLAMIC SOURCES
I present four different respected Islamic sources for this event.
FROM THE HISTORY OF TABARI, VOLUME 8, pages 97, 98 (1)
"According to Muhammad b. Umar [al-Waqidi]: "In this year a raiding party led by Kurz b. Jabir al-Fihri set out against the members of the Banu Uraynah who had killed the herdsman of the Messenger of God and driven off camels in Shawwal of the year 6. The Messenger of God sent Kurz with twenty horsemen.""
FROM THE HADITH OF SAHIH BUKHARI (2)
From Volume 1, #234
1.234: Narrated Abu Qilaba:
Anas said, "Some people of 'Ukl or 'Uraina tribe came to Medina and its climate did not suit them. So the Prophet ordered them to go to the herd of (Milch) camels and to drink their milk and urine (as a medicine). So they went as directed and after they became healthy, they killed the shepherd of the Prophet and drove away all the camels. The news reached the Prophet early in the morning and he sent (men) in their pursuit and they were captured and brought at noon. He then ordered to cut their hands and feet (and it was done), and their eyes were branded with heated pieces of iron. They were put in 'Al-Harra' and when they asked for water, no water was given to them." Abu Qilaba said, "Those people committed theft and murder, became infidels after embracing Islam and fought against Allah and His Apostle ."
From Bukhari Volume 2, #577
2.577: Narrated Anas:
Some people from 'Uraina tribe came to Medina and its climate did not suit them, so Allah's Apostle allowed them to go to the herd of camels (given as Zakat) and they drank their milk and urine (as medicine) but they killed the shepherd and drove away all the camels. So Allah's Apostle sent (men) in their pursuit to catch them, and they were brought, and he had their hands and feet cut, and their eyes were branded with heated pieces of iron and they were left in the Harra (a stony place at Medina) biting the stones.
Similar references are found in Bukhari 5.505, 7.623, and 8.797.
FROM THE SIRAT RASUL ALLAH (THE LIFE OF THE PROPHET OF GOD), BY IBN ISHAQ (3), pages 677, 678
"A traditionalist told me from one who had told him from Muhammad b. Talha from Uthman v. Abdul-Rahman that in the raid of Muharib and B. Thalaba the apostle had captured a slave called Yasar, and he put him in charge of his milch-camels to shepherd them in the neighborhood of al-Jamma. Some men of Qays of Kubba of Bajila came to the apostle suffering from an epidemic and enlarged spleens, and the apostle told them that if they went to the milch camels and drank their milk and their urine they would recover, so off they went. When they recovered their health and their bellies contracted to their normal size they fell upon the apostle's shepherds Yasar and killed him and stuck thorns in his eyes and drove away his camels. The apostle sent Kurz b. Jabir in pursuit and he overtook them and brought them to the apostle as he returned from the raid of Dhu Qarad. He cut off their hands and feet and gouged out their eyes."
FROM THE KITAB AL TABAQAT AL KABIR (BOOK OF THE MAJOR CLASSES), Volume 2, BY IBN SA'D, pages 114, 115 (4)
Then (occurred) the sariyyah of Kurz Ibn Jabir al-Fihri towards al-Uraniyin in Shawwal of the sixth year from the hijrah of the Apostle of Allah. They (narrators) said: A party of the Uraynah numbering eight came to the Apostle of Allah and embraced Islam but the climate of al-Medina did not suit them. Thereupon the Apostle of Allah ordered them to live with his milch-camels which used to graze at Dhu al-Jadr in the vicinity of Quba close to Ayr at a distance of six miles from al-Medina. They remained there till they recuperated and became fat. One morning they made a raid on the milch camels and drove them away. Yasar the mawla of the Apostle of Allah, with a party confronted them. He fought with them. They cut his hands and feet and pricked thorns in his tongue and eyes. Consequently he died. The news of his incident reached the Apostle of Allah. He sent twenty horsemen to pursue them and appointed Kurz Ibn al-Fihri their leader. They reached there, and surrounded them. They captured them, tied them, and seating them on their horses they brought them to al-Medina. The Apostle of Allah, was at al-Ghabah. They set out with them towards him and met him at al-Zaghabah, the place where flood water came from all directions. He gave orders and their hands and feet were amputated, their eyes were extracted. They were crucified. Then the verse was revealed to the Apostle of Allah:
"The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His Messenger and strive after corruption in the land".
After that he did not extract eyes of anyone.
The milch-camels were fifteen in number which yielded much milk. They brought them back to al-Medina. The Apostle of Allah found one of the camels called al-Hinna missing. He inquired about it and was told that they had slaughtered it."
Two strange things stand out in this event:
#1) Muhammad, the self appointed prophet of God told Muslims to drink camel urine as medicine.
#2) Muhammad had the criminals brutally tortured before they died a slow death in the heat of the desert.
In dealing with point #1, I've asked some medical professionals about urine having any medicinal properties. All of them said that urine is a waste product, not a medicine.
Urine does contain urea, which is an organic compound. It can be used as a fertilizer, just as dung can be used. But urea is basically excess nitrogen being expelled by the body of humans or other animals. It has no medicinal properties. (5)
Notice that the Sirat Rasul Allah says that the Uraynians had "enlarged spleens". I've read about the spleen. It is an organ that filters useless substances from the blood. It also helps the body fight infection. However, I see no help given to the spleen in drinking urine, which is a waste product to begin with. And, one can surmise the cleanliness levels of the Arabs in that time. I doubt if sanitary conditions were all that excellent. If anything, they were drinking in germs. (6)
I have been told that using camel urine was a cultural thing for the Arabs. Perhaps, but you certainly don't read about it much in their literature. I am willing to accept that Muhammad believed that it had medicinal properties, true or false. History is full of various people groups using elements as "medicines" only to find out later that there were no medicinal properties in the elements they used. Muhammad's sincere belief that it was medicine does not make it a medicine.
In dealing with point #2, I’d say that this is an extraordinary act of brutality on Muhammad's part. I believe that the criminals needed to be punished and I have no problem with putting them to death. But I do have a problem with torturing them. Let's review what was done to these men after they were captured and brought to Muhammad.
1) Their hands and feet were cut off.
2) Their eyes were seared with hot irons then gouged out.
3) They were thrown upon the hot, black rocks of the Harra desert. There they began to suffer the effects of dehydration. They begged for water, but none was given to them. In their pain and agony the men bit at the rocks.
Personally, I don't have sympathy for the criminals. I have no problem with the death penalty for their crime. But it amazes me that a man who claimed to be from God would treat other humans in this fashion. You can sense the bitter hate, the driving need for revenge in Muhammad's heart as he had them tortured in this way. I don't see God in this. I see dark spiritual forces, and dark fleshly forces at work, driving Muhammad to do this.
1) What happened to the "prophethood" of the prophet? After all, he was supposed to be in contact with Allah. Did Allah want the Muslims to be misled into believing that camel urine is medicine? Remember, Muslims are to follow his lifestyle today. Do they also believe that camel urine is a medicine? Do Islamic pharmacies prescribe camel urine? Why was he prescribing urine as a medicine? Ask Muslims you know if they drink urine as medicine.
2) Was it necessary for Muhammad to torture the criminals the way he did? 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?
3) 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.
4) If Muhammad were allowed by God to do this to the criminals, and Muslims are commanded to follow Muhammad's lifestyle, then what does this say about real Islamic society?
Muhammad was no real prophet of God. He was a man bent on doing his own thing. When angered he took a brutal revenge upon those who crossed him. His prescription of camel urine shows that he adhered to superstitious folklore as guidance. His treatment of the criminals shows that he was driven by dark, hateful motives.
Concerning those who would not be allowed into paradise, Jesus said, "Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood." Revelation 22:15.
Jesus healed the sick, He didn't prescribe superstitions as medicine. Jesus taught God's justice, but He didn't teach in-humane torture.
(1) "The History of Tabari", volume 8 - "The Victory of Islam", published by SUNY, translated by Michael Fishbein.
(2) "Sahih Al-Bukhari", (Traditions of Bukhari), translated by Dr. Muhsin Khan, published by Kitab Bhavan, New Delhi
(3) "The Life of Muhammad", a translation of Ibn Ishaq's "Sirat Rasul Allah" (The Life of the Prophet of God) by A. Guillaume. This book is the best biography of Muhammad available. Note that Guillaume added in other references from Tabari, and other early Islamic writings.
(4) "Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir", (Book of the Major Classes), by Ibn Sa'd. Translated by Moinul Haq, published by the Pakistan Historical Society
(5) The World Book Encyclopedia, under "Urea".
(6) The World Book Encyclopedia, under "Spleen".
Rev A: 4-5-98, Rev B: 9/16/01
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