Sarwait Husain’s guest commentary entitled “Blame Islam?” begins the common narrative of Islamic apologists, “Islam is a religion of Peace” with the inevitable peaceful Quranic quotes.
She describes Muhammad’s first 13 years in Mecca suffering “demeaning abuse, mockery and torture”. Mecca in reality was at its pinnacle of multiculturalism, with followers of 360 pagan religions, as well as of Judaism and Christianity.
What changed in those ten years to make Meccans eventually exile Muhammad?
For ten years he reached out and the Meccans were initially tolerant. What’s another religion when you already have more than 360! However, Muhammad’s aggressive tendency to denounce, demean and belittle the Jews and Christians and pagans was met with greater resistance.
Imagine a street vendor who starts off quietly but becomes bolder and louder over time. When the inevitable pushback began and poets began following Muhammad to mock his sermons and dispute tales of Abrahamic lineage, Muhammad portrayed himself as the “victim” of abuse and intolerance.
Aggressive street-preaching is met with the same reaction today as it was in the 7th century, that is negatively. Any mockery or verbal abuse was exactly that, verbal attack only. Muhammad was grazed in one physical attack but it was certainly not “torture” as Ms. Hussain claims.
Why poets? Poets were the “media” of the day. Muhammad expressed his hatred toward the power of the pen and on multiple occasions asked his supporters “who will rid me of (the poet)”
In the last ten years of Muhammad’s life Islam had a much more ominous tone. Retribution began in 624 AD as his followers swelled with “convert or die” followers. Violent revenge became a part of Islamic history.
In the Battle of Badr all but two prisoners were given the option to have their lives spared by the payment of a ransom. The two who were not spared and beheaded by Muhammad’s followers were poets/critics of Muhammad.
A poetess and pagan mother of five children who mocked Muhammad, Asma bint Marwan, was murdered in her bed while her sleeping child rested on her chest. Muhammad said, “Who will rid me of this Marwan’s daughter?” A convert to Islam from her tribe thrust a sword through her chest granting Muhammad his wish.
The Quran, the Hadiths and Muhammad’s biography capture many more of these vicious attacks.
Can we agree that if Muhammad encouraged acts of violence in his day it is understandable why Boko Haram and other terrorists groups make the claim today they are following the “will of Allah”?
Is asking one’s followers, “who will rid me” not justification for questioning the peacefulness of Islam and Muhammad?
Were the Muslim terrorists in France not “ridding” critics of Muhammad’s in the same way?
The contrasts between the peaceful narrative given by Ms. Husain and the violence depicted in Islamic texts are easily explained. The Islamic concept of “abrogation” allows later Quranic revelations to overrule earlier revelations. The result, more violent passages revealed in the later years of Muhammad “abrogated” earlier peaceful verses in the Quran. Ms. Husain fails to include this fact when addressing an unknowing audience. The Islamic terrorists know this but many Muslims and nearly all non-Muslims don’t.
Like the poets in Muhammad’s day, the French cartoonists fell victim to the same fate. The Islamic terrorists were simply following the “latest” teachings of Muhammad. We must ask Ms. Husain who is to be held accountable for this if not Muhammad and the Islamic ideology?
Most Muslims reject the violent tenets of Islam but it does not erase Muhammad’s complicity in promoting Islam through violence. Wishing it so doesn’t make it so.
Peace-loving Muslims who know of this “dark-side” (and many don’t) are not going to be encouraged to speak out about this unless “kafirs”, non-believers do. The social, economic and personal consequences often are too great thereby preventing Muslims from speaking out but non-Muslims can empower Muslims by speaking out.
Ms. Husain may have forgotten that the biggest abuser of Muslims are other Muslims, all in the name of Allah. An honest debate on the connection between Muhammad and violence toward non-Muslims and Muslims is the path to less violence. As General Sisi, President of Egypt said, a reformation needs to occur within Islam. Amen!
EDITORS NOTE: In the January 18, 2015 edition the San Antonio Express News, Sarwat Husain, Executive Director of the Council of American Islamic Relations published her defense of why Islam should not be blamed for the violence of a few. The platform Ms. Husain has been provided by the San Antonio Express News since 2007 to voice her opinion is far greater than any persons who reasonably disagrees with some of her opinions on Islam. For example since 2010, she’s been granted space for 15 guest commentaries on the editorial page and been a part of at least 10 articles where her opinion has been aired on various aspects of Islam. These two numbers combined have allowed her to share 10,000 words of opinions on Islam. In doing a search on the San Antonio Express News website, Brigitte Gabriel, a Lebanese Christian and founder of ACT! for America has never had one of her editorials printed.