The Murder of Asma Bint Marwan Revisited

Exposing the Distortions of one Muslim Dawagandist

Sam Shamoun

In his recent debate with David Wood (Is Muhammad a Prophet? (04/12/2008); source) Jalal Abualrub claimed that his opponent was using fraudulent narratives to impugn Muhammad’s character, such as the stories of his prophet having Abu Afak and Asma bint Marwan murdered for writing disparaging poems (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7).

Since Jalal passes himself off as an authority on Islam this means that he should know what he is talking about and has consulted his sources carefully before making such statements. In light of this Jalal must have known that his own Salafi scholars accept the historical veracity of the incident with Asma and even use it as evidence that those who disparage Muhammad should be murdered.

Note, for instance, what this Salafi biography on the life Muhammad states concerning this episode:

The Affair of ‘Asma bint Marwan

‘Asma’ was one of those who used to insult the Prophet, revile Islam and provoke people to violence. She also produced some satire. When these poetical pieces reached the Prophet, he said, "Will not someone take care of this woman for my sake?" ‘Umayr bin ‘Adi Khatmi, who was of the same tribe as her husband, visited her at night in her house. She had her children around her, one of whom she was suckling. He took her by her hand, released the child – because ‘Umayr was blind – and then struck her with his sword. Then he attended the morning prayers with the Prophet. He asked him, "Did you ill Marwan’s daughter?" He replied, "Yes." The Prophet said, "You have helped Allah and His Messenger, O ‘Umayr." ‘Umayr asked, "Is there any penalty on me for this?" The Prophet replied, "Two goats will not lock horns over this affair." The prophet was the first to use such a phrase.

Subsequently the Prophet named ‘Umayr as Bashir (the seeing). This incident took place on the 25th of Ramadan, nineteen months after Hijrah, almost immediately after the battle of Badr.

Moved by the power of Islam, several of the Banu Khatmah embraced Islam, and several of those who had until then concealed their faith, pronounced it openly.

  1. Reported by Ibn Ishaq – Ibn Hisham (4/379), through a chain about which he did not mention clearly whether he himself heard. It is part of a report narrated in connection with the death of ‘Asma’, and so is weak. However it obtains strength from the trustworthy narrative in Abu Dawud as in the following note.
  2. Ibid. It was also documented by Abu Dawud in his Sunan (4/528-29/The Book of Hudud, rulings on those who insulted the Prophet. He follows a chain other than that of Ibn Ishaq through a chain that is Connected and its transmitters reliable as ruled by Ibn Hajar in Bulugh Al-Maram (2/241). Nasa’i has also collected this report in his Sunan (7/107-108) as well as Tabarani in his Kabir.
  3. See the story as reported in the books of campaigns, such as of ibn Ishaq: who did not clearly mention hearing the report himself – Ibn Hisham (4/377-379) who states her killing took place after the killing of Abu ‘Afak. See also al-Waqidi (1/172) and Ibn Sa‘d (2/27) without a chain. (A Biography of the Prophet of Islam In the Light of Original Sources: An Analytical Study, by Dr. Mahdi Rizqullah Ahmad, translated by Syed Iqbal Zaheer [Darussalam Publishers and Distributors, Riyadh, Jeddah, Sharjah, Lahore, London, Houston, New York; First Edition: November 2005], Volume 1, Chapter 6: Events and Expeditions between Badr and Uhud, pp. 431-432; underline emphasis ours)

And just recently the following Salafi Muslim site used this very same incident to justify the murder of a Jewish slavegirl who disparaged Muhammad to her master:

4 – Similar things happened at the time of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), such as the hypocrite who was killed by ‘Umar without the permission of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), when the hypocrite did not agree with the ruling of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). Then Qur’aan was revealed approving ‘Umar’s action. And there was the daughter of Marwaan who was killed by that man, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) called him the supporter of Allaah and His Messenger. That is because the one whose execution becomes necessary because of his plot to corrupt the religion is not like one who is executed because of his sin of zina and the like. End quote from al-Saarim al-Maslool (285-286).

And Allaah knows best. (Question No. 103739, Regarding the hadeeth about the blind man who killed his slave woman who had borne him a child (umm walad) because she reviled the Prophet; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

With the foregoing in perspective didn’t these Salafi scholars and writers know better than to use such forged narratives to substantiate their case? And didn’t they bother consulting Jalal first before passing off such fraudulent tales as actual historical events in the life of Muhammad to support the fact that Muslims can murder helpless women simply for mocking their false prophet? More importantly, how dare one of Islam’s greatest hadith scholars Ibn Hajar rule that the transmitters for the report found in Sunan Abu Dawud were reliable, thereby authenticating this event?

Or is this more proof that Jalal will resort to lying and deception in order to cover up such evil since he realizes that people with any moral sense will be appalled at Muhammad’s vindictive nature and murder sprees?

Lord Jesus willing, more rebuttals to Jalal’s debate points to follow soon.

Further Reading

Responses to Jalal Abualrub
Articles by Sam Shamoun
Answering Islam Home Page