How to Defend Prophet Muhammad? (Part 2)

Showing Our Love for Prophet Muhammad
By Sadaf Farooqi
Freelance Writer- Pakistan

There are many things Muslims the world over can do to combat the current global wave of offense and outcry.

Part 1

How the Companions Defended the Prophet’s Honor

There were times in the Prophet’s life that some of his opponents tried to inflict emotional and physical harm upon him.

At such times, his companions always rose to defend him selflessly. The Prophet never stopped them from raising their tongues or hands to defend him, except when they crossed limits.

Some of the enemies of the Prophet would compose and publicly recite offensive verses of poetry deriding and ridiculing him. In retaliation, the Prophet allowed one of his companions to return the favor. Not just that, but he supplicated God to aid him in his efforts:

Narrated Aisha:

"Once Hassan ibn Thabit asked the permission of the Prophet to lampoon (i.e. compose satirical poetry defaming) the infidels. The Prophet said:

What about the fact that I have common descent with them?

Hassan replied: I shall take you out of them as a hair is taken out of dough." (Al-Bukhari)

Narrated Sa`id ibn Al Musaiyab:

Umar came to the Mosque while Hassan was reciting a poem. (Umar disapproved of that). On that, Hassan said: “I used to recite poetry in this very masjid in the presence of one (i.e. the Prophet ) who was better than you.” Then he turned towards Abu Hurairah and said (to him), “I ask you by Allah, did you hear Allah's Apostle saying (to me), “Retort on my behalf. O Allah! Support him (i.e. Hassan) with the Holy Spirit?” Abu Hurairah said: “Yes.” (Al-Bukhari)

It was narrated from Anas that:

“The Prophet entered Makkah during the Umratul-Qada, and Abdullah ibn Rawahah was walking in front of him and saying:

Get out of his way, you unbelievers, make way.

Today we will fight about its revelation

With blows that will remove beads from shoulders

And make friend unmindful of friends.

Umar said to him: “O Ibn Rawahah! In front of the Messenger of Allah and in the Sanctuary of Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, you recite poetry?” The Prophet said: “Let him do so, for what he is saying is more effective than shooting arrows at them.” (Al-Nasa’i)

The Prophet did not reprimand him for doing so, even though they were all in the state of ihram
At a turning point in the history of Islam, when the treaty of Hudaibiyah was about to be drawn up, and the Prophet and his companions were coming to Makkah in the state of ihram, Urwa ibn Mas’ud came to talk to the Prophet. During his conversation, he said that the Prophet had with him companions who would desert him and leave him alone. At that point, Abu Bakr, who was standing nearby, abused Urwa using a colloquial phrase common among the Arabs at that time (which is not decent enough to be translated). The Prophet did not reprimand him for doing so, even though they were all in the state of ihram.

During the same conversation, Urwa would sometimes extend his hand to grab the beard of the Prophet while talking to him. Each time, the companion Al Mughirah ibn Shu’bah, who was standing nearby, would hit Urwa’s hand with his sheathed sword and say to him: “Remove your hand from the beard of Allah's messenger!”

The hadith goes on to quote how Urwa perceived the loyalty of the Prophet’s companions: “…Urwa returned to his people and said:

“O people! By Allah, I have been to the kings and to Caesar, Khosrau and Al Negus, yet I have never seen any of them respected by his courtiers as much as Muhammad is respected by his companions. By Allah, if he spat, the spittle would fall in the hand of one of them, who would rub it on his face and skin; if he ordered them, they would carry out his order immediately; if he performed ablution, they would struggle to take the remaining water; and when they spoke, they would lower their voices and would not look at his face constantly out of respect.” (Al-Bukhari)

It is obvious from the above narrations that, whilst we, as Muslims, should definitely take the “higher road” when it comes to reacting to provocative incidents in which mud is slung upon our Prophet, we should nevertheless feel anger and defensiveness in our hearts that drives us to protect the Prophet's honor, just the way his companions felt when they protected him from all sides, and responded to any kind of verbal or physical attack.

Staying within Limits

Once the Prophet’s wife Aisha, being young and passionate, overstepped bounds while returning the vile greeting of a group of Jews who pretended to greet the Prophet in her presence, but actually wished death upon him by using a twist of the tongue to distort the Arabic word “salam”:

Narrated Ibn Abi Mulaika:

Aisha said: The Jews came to the Prophet and said to him: “As-Saamu 'Alaika (i.e. “death be upon you”).” He replied, “The same on you.” Aisha said to them, “Death be upon you, and may Allah curse you and shower His wrath upon you!” Allah's messenger said:

Be gentle, O Aisha! Be gentle and beware of being harsh and of saying evil things.”

She said: “Didn't you hear what they said?”

He said: “Didn't you hear what I replied (to them)? I have returned their statement to them, and my invocation against them will be accepted, but theirs against me will not be accepted. (Al-Bukhari)

The Prophet clearly reprimanded Aisha and urged her to adopt “rifq”, which when translated from Arabic, means, “gentle, soft, tender, gracious, courteous, and civil”.

However, he also pointed out to Aisha that he had returned their evil greeting, even though he could have chosen to ignore it.

This hadith clearly indicates something about retaliation which the Quran also corroborates: {…. an eye for an eye, and a nose for a nose, and an ear for an ear, and a tooth for a tooth...} (Al-Mai’dah 5: 45)

That for us Muslims, even though forgiving and overlooking antagonism from the Prophet’s enemies is better, taking revenge is nevertheless allowed, but only within strict limits not overstepping the level of vice that they have meted out.

The Prophet emphasized to Aisha that he returned their invocation back upon them, i.e. the wish for death, but did not go one step ahead to wish curse or wrath upon them, the way she did.

What Should We Do?

we need to keep cool and collected and ponder about how to unify our efforts

There are many things Muslims the world over can do to combat the current global wave of offense and outcry that has resulted as an aftermath of the incitation of a small group of mischief mongers.

First of all, we need to take a deep breath, and, despite the deep ache in our hearts, our raging emotions, and our desire to undertake brash defensiveness, we need to keep cool and collected and ponder about how to unify our efforts in order to react in a manner that will bring about a win-win situation for the entire world. Here are a few tips about what to do in this particular situation:

- Pray to God sincerely to enable us to stage a reaction to this provocation that is completely in accordance with His pleasure.

- Write columns, blog posts, status updates on social media protesting peacefully against the contents of this film.

- Share online links to articles penned by learned scholars and wisdom-preaching imams which elaborate and promote the correct way of reacting to this fitnah.

- Get our complains heard by contacting the higher-ups and authority figures, such as righteous government leaders, unbiased politicians and truthful journalists.

- Peaceful online and in-person protests with banners and slogans to get the message of peace across globally.

- Not just individually emulate but also orate and write about the beautiful character of Prophet Muhammad, in particular about the numerous times he overlooked evil actions directed towards him, and how repeatedly forgave and pardoned his enemies.

- Abstain from engaging in arguments and debates with other Muslims about how to react.

- Continue to denounce the destructive rallies, protests, and death- and injury-inflicting, property-damaging and conflict-deepening clashes, hooliganism, vandalism and violence that are being carried out by Muslims and others around the world. Condemn such behavior as not being in accordance with the way of Prophet Muhammad and his noble companions.

Practice Farsightedness

When 9/11 happened, the world was outraged and shocked. In the short-term, the image of Muslims and Islam appeared to suffer a grave misrepresentation that went against their favor. However, over the years, the general interest in, and awareness about Islam grew and increased, as more and more people who had previously known nothing about Islam, started purchasing copies of Quran, its translation, as well as other Islamic books and articles about God, Islam, Quran and Prophet Muhammad.

It is not just my hope but also my earnest dua’ that God converts this sad incident perpetrated by a tiny group of unknown troublemakers - who undoubtedly made this blasphemous film and deliberately dubbed it in Arabic just for cheap thrills, seeking to defame a perfect religion and its noble Prophet, - into a massive, international ‘PR campaign’ for our Prophet, which spreads the light of Islam, its actual message, and the knowledge of the beautiful conduct of its Prophet to every corner of the globe, entering as guidance towards the Truth every heart that wonders, “So who was this Muhammad? And what was he really like?”

That is when we will see who comes out as the real winner!
Related Links:
Muhammad: A 21st Century Prophet? (Special Folder)
Freedom of Expression vs. Respect for the Prophet
The Prophet’s Wisdom in Leading His Companions
Prophet Muhammad: A Man of Character
What Would Muhammad Do? (Introduction)
Sadaf Farooqi is a freelance writer based in Karachi, Pakistan. She has a postgraduate master degree in Computer Science and a diploma in Islamic education. She has seven years of experience as a teacher of Islamic education courses for women and girls. She has an award winning blog called Sadaf's Space, and has written for Hiba Magazine, SISTERS Magazine, Saudi Gazette and MuslimMatters.org. Sadaf has also authored a book titled Traversing the Highs and Lows of Muslim Marriage.

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