The Fiqh Concerning Those Who Insult The Messenger of Allah
Allah the Exalted has said in Surat al-Ahzab (33:57):
As for those who abuse Allah and His Messenger,
Allah’s curse is on them in the dunya and the akhira.
He has prepared a humiliating punishment for them.
In the Fiqh, as we shall see, there are absolutely no opinions, no variants, no exceptions. The matter is a clear one inside the Deen of Islam, that is, within the clear and active Fiqh as defined by our four Imams, Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik, Imam Shafi’ and Imam Ahmad, may Allah be pleased with all of them. Outside the unified and powerful fortress of the Islamic Shari‘at there is of course, in matters that should be definitive and non-negotiable, that very descent, diminution and longing to dismantle the Deen that is the mark of the kafirun. In this latter category can be found that other religion, Shi‘ism, which wears the cloak of Islam while cursing its Khalifs and denying its people, as well as the Modernists, who, under the cloak of Islam, secretly long to adhere to the contract of Western scepticism, and their mark is their utter disdain for the Law of a taken Zakat, an Islamic currency, and an acceptance of the Imams.
Central to this issue is the significant failure of the kafirun to recognise what the key to the whole affair is. It is this failure that renders meaningless the triviality of their response on the one hand, and the malevolent hostility towards us on the other. The key of this affair is – that we, the Muslims, love the Messenger of Allah, may Allah be pleased with him. With us the whole affair is a matter of love. Millions of Muslims sing Al-Busairi’s famous song ‘Al-Burda’ which pours out a flood of blessings on the Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and which brings tears to the eyes of the Muminun. Equally, millions recite the Dala’il al-Khayrat of Shaykh Jazuli. There are thousands more to be found written through the centuries by our Muslim community, expressing our love and gratitude for his existence.
Let us look again at Surat al-Ahzab. The ayat preceding the one which is foundation to the legal judgment which concerns us here is the Ayat indicating the higher, superior and more exalted community, those who love the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. We find Allah distinguishing the Muslims over and against the pagan hordes of ignorant people who insult the Messenger, and significantly, in the ayat which follows, indicates that the ones who insult the Messenger do not end there, but unjustly degrade the Muminun. Surat al-Ahzab (33:56-58):
Allah and His angels call down blessings on the Prophet.
You who have iman! call down blessings on him
and ask for complete peace and safety for him.
As for those who abuse Allah and His Messenger,
Allah’s curse is on them in the dunya and the akhira.
He has prepared a humiliating punishment for them.
And those who abuse men and women who are muminun,
when they have not merited it,
bear the weight of slander and clear wrongdoing.
Much of the aggravation that has resulted from the recent incident has in fact come from media both owned and operated by people who have a militant, and indeed military, opposition to the Muslim peoples. The man who re-launched the affair by publishing the cartoon in ‘France Soir’ was one Arnault Levey. The notoriously prejudicial BBC TV rushed a man to the Central Mosque in London. The interviewer was a jew, and he deliberately picked out to interview the wildest and most incoherent in the crowd to confirm that silhouette which they are instructed to expose to the world. At Jumu‘ah prayers he could have gone among the hundreds of highly cultured and educated Muslims, and could easily have picked out academics, barristers, and businessmen who would have put another face on the affair. Nevertheless, what the world has seen is that the World Muslim Community, who have tolerated the quotidian barrage of insults by the media, governments and military, this same community that has shown their sacred tolerance up to the chin – will not tolerate an attack on our beloved Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Maybe, this time, they may find that THEY have to exercise tolerance. A tolerance which recognises that there is a vast world community of men, women and children who do not worship what they worship, and will never worship what they worship, and it is part of the reality of existence, and the sooner they come to terms with it, the better for them.
However you wish to configure and interpret the fury and the outrage of hundreds of thousands of Muslims across the world, there is another spectacle which the kuffar have to face up to – and that is the miserable emotional and spiritual bankruptcy of the Danish people, and indeed the crushed and bewildered denizens of the European Union fortress. From a human point of view, from a psychiatric point of view, the spectacle of the Danish bourgeois, living in their heavily subsidised reality, holding their silly candles, clearly revealed that they were all dismally unable to realise that living among them were a people for whom unseen realities were greater, more important, and indeed, a matter of life and death. The Danish people have come a long, long way from the christian writer, Kierkegaard. They have no fear and trembling for the Divine Lord of the Universe, only a fear and trembling of their bland, characterless existence of material welfare, purveyors of alcohol to the whole world, especially their own children.
In this affair, there is also a dimension for which we have to take responsibility. While a complete analysis of causes must be done by all of us, it is outside the remit of this Hukm. We are nevertheless obliged to indicate it in order to give us a clear view of the matter at hand. It is that the Muslims, who are a community of Law, can only live under an Amir, who, on behalf of his people, upholds that Law. It is the absence of an Amir which prevents this matter being dealt with, properly speaking, in a legal manner. This does not mean, however, that in the absence of an Amir the matter will simply go away. It certainly means that it must be dealt with in relation to this primary absence of the commanding authority. To understand this better we should look at two examples. One being the response of a weak Muslim leader. The other being the response of a non-Muslim leader, Shi‘a.
Some years ago I was in Abu Dhabi. A few years previously I had initiated a Conference of Maliki Fiqh. It had been in Granada, Spain. The then Chief Qadi of the U.A.E., the late Shaykh Aal-Mubarak, himself a renowned Maliki scholar, offered to host a second Conference the following year in Abu Dhabi. At the opening Reception for the very impressive array of scholars expert in the School of the ‘Amal of the Ahl al-Madinah, Shaykh Zayed, the then President of the U.A.E., made the Speech of Welcome. In it, he announced publicly his intention to govern the U.A.E. according to the Shari‘at of Islam.
Now, during my stay, the English-speaking paper of the Emirates published an article by an Indian doctor in which he clearly insulted the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, as well as the Qur’an itself. Outraged, I took the newspaper to Shaykh Aal-Mubarak. He responded immediately. He ordered a translation into Arabic of the text. When he received it he confirmed that it was legally actionable. The man was arrested and charged with insulting the Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the Qur’an. The man was a modernist Muslim, but significantly the outrage came from the normally happy hindu community in the Emirates. The Court found him guilty, but delayed the judgment. The Indian government which declares it is secular, but in reality worships at the temples of monkeys, elephants and a little blue man, intervened in the name of their notorious ‘Tolérance’. As a result, the miserable doctor was bundled off to India before judgment could be carried out. That he had lost a lucrative job, a high salary and a fine villa was not considered by the Muslims to be a satisfactory end to the affair.
This was a direct result of the weakness of an Arab ruler, yet he could not be expected to defend the honour of the Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, when he had already assumed power on the understanding that he would accept payment for Abu Dhabi petrol in paper currency, while his father had been assassinated for insisting that it be paid in gold bullion.
The other example is the already forgotten matter of the Indian Shi‘a novelist. At that time the posture of the Iranian government was that “We were all Muslims together”. Perhaps in order to appear, as it were, the Defender of the Faith, Imam Khomeini issued a Fatwa calling for the execution of the miserable author. The result is well known. Effectively, it set a cordon sanitaire around the criminal which, at a cost of millions of dollars, absolutely guaranteed not only his physical safety but his elevation to an icon among the atheists. As if that were not bad enough, a later Iranian government rescinded the Fatwa. Later, again, it was announced that, no, it was still operative, but was not to be activated.
It is very clear from this that the action of the Shi‘a Amir, devoid of the application of Islamic Fiqh, did not accomplish what he at least stated was his primal intention.
The Ikhwan al-Muslimun’s Shaykh al-Qardawi has called for what apparently he calls ‘An International Day of Anger’ – this, of course, is beneath contempt.
True to their traditional position of shame, the President of Palestine went on television to condemn the insult, but then hastened to instruct his people that nevertheless, in the light of it, they should not commit any acts of violence. In other words, it was alright for Palestinians to kill Israeli women and children and send their sons off to commit suicide in order to recover land that had been stolen from them, but in the matter of the commanded defence of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, they were not to raise a finger.
What we see from this is that lack of Muslim leadership, compounded by a false leadership claiming to be Islamic while it is not, has placed us all in a very vulnerable position. As far as the Fiqh on the matter is concerned, there is no doubt. No doubt whatsoever.
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The judgment of the Shari‘ah regarding someone who curses or disparages the Prophet. QADI ‘IYAD IBN MUSA AL-YAHSUBI, one of the greatest of the Fuqaha of the School of the ‘Amal of the Ahl al-Madinah, which has been called the ‘Umm al-Madhahib (and which was given precedence in its judgments over all the Madhhabs by Ibn Taymiyya in a renowned book), DECLARED:
“Know that all who curse Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, or blame him or attribute imperfection to him in his person, his lineage, his deen or any of his qualities, or alludes to that or its like by any means whatsoever, whether in the form of a curse or contempt or belittling him or detracting from him or finding fault with him or maligning him, the judgement regarding such a person is the same as the judgement against anyone who curses him. He is killed as we shall make clear. This judgement extends to anything which amounts to a curse or disparagement. We have no hesitation concerning this matter, be it a clear statement or allusion.
The same applies to anyone who curses him, invokes against him, desires to harm him, ascribes to him what does not befit his position or jokes about his mighty affair with foolish talk, satire, disliked words or lies, or reviles him because of any affliction or trial which happened to him or disparages him, because of any of the permissible and well-known human events which happened to him. All of this is the consensus of the ‘ulama’ and the imams of fatwa from the time of the Companions until today.
Abu Bakr ibn al-Mundhir said that the bulk of the people of knowledge agree that whoever curses the Prophet is killed. These include Malik ibn Anas, al-Layth, Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Ishaq ibn Rahawayh, and it is the position of the Shafi‘i school. Qadi Abu’l-Fadl said that it is based on the statement of Abu Bakr as-Siddiq. His repentance is not accepted. Something similar was stated by Abu Hanifa and his people, ath-Thawri and the people of Kufa and al-Awza‘i about the Muslims.” […]
“Ibn al-Qasim said in the ‘Utbiyya, ‘Anyone who curses him, reviles him, finds fault with him or disparages him is killed.’”
“The fuqaha’ of Andalusia gave a Fatwa that Ibn Hatim, the scholar of Toledo, be killed and crucified because there was testimony that he made light of what is due to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and claimed that his zuhd was not intentional, and similar things”
“The fuqaha’ of the Qayrawan (the great mosque and early Islamic university near Tunis) and the companions of Sahnun gave a Fatwa for the killing of Ibrahim al-Ghazari, a poet and master of many sciences. He was one of those who attended the assembly of Qadi Abu’l-‘Abbas ibn Talib for debate. He was accused of objectionable things like mocking Allah, His Prophets and our Prophet. Qadi Yahya ibn ‘Umar and other fuqaha’ summoned him and commanded that he be killed and crucified upside down. One of the historians related that when the post to which he was tied was lifted up, the body turned around away from qibla. It was a sign to all and the people made Takbir. Then a dog came and licked his blood.”
“Habib ibn Rabi‘ al-Qarawi said that the school of Malik and his companions (that is, the School of Madinah) is that anyone who says anything insulting about the Prophet is killed without being asked to repent.”
“We have already mentioned the consensus. As for the traditions, al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali related from his father that the Messenger of Allah said in respect of this matter, ‘Whoever curses a Prophet, kill him. Whoever curses my Companions, beat him.’ This is found in at-Tabarani and ad-Daraqutni.”
“In a sound hadith the Prophet commanded that Ka‘b ibn al-Ashraf be killed. He asked, ‘Who will deal with Ka‘b ibn al-Ashraf? He has harmed Allah and His Messenger.’ He sent someone to assassinate him without calling him to Islam, as distinct from other mushriks. The cause of that lay in his causing harm to the Prophet. That indicates that the Prophet had him killed for something other than Shirk. It was for causing harm.”
“In another hadith about a man who used to insult the Prophet, the Prophet said, ‘Who will save me from my enemy?’ Khalid said, ‘I will,’ so the Prophet sent him out and he killed him.”
It is at this point important to understand that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in having these enemies killed, was in the defence and protection of the Divine Revelation, and his obligation to preserve himself for the completion of his task. It is now, in the light of these hadith, that we can recognise the grave error of Khomeini in the act of issuing his Fatwa. An Amir is obliged to issue a public Fatwa immediately in the defence of the Muminun, but we observe a distinction between endangering the Muminun and an attack on the Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. An attack on him is an attack not only on the Divinely appointed Messenger, but also upon the Revelation itself, therefore our ‘ulama distinguish it from any other form of attack. It is considered an act of war. In a well-known hadith the Prophet has said, ‘Strategy is part of war.’ We derive from this that in the event of a direct attack by insult against the Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, a strategy must be applied which guarantees that the enemy is eliminated. For this reason, the one who attacks is identified. An executioner or executioners are sent to carry out the authorised sentence of execution. Then and only after the assassination is the order declared, to warn off others from similar action. It was the failure of Khomeini that he made the Fatwa prior to the execution of it, which rendered that Fatwa meaningless. There remains the possibility that that was the purpose of his Fatwa in the first place.
“In the hadith of Abu Barza as-Aslami it says, ‘One day I was sitting with Abu Bakr as-Siddiq and he became angry at one of the Muslim men.’ The man had cursed Abu Bakr. An-Nasa’i went to him and said, ‘Khalif of Allah, let me strike off his head!’ He said, ‘Sit down. That is not for anyone except the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.’”
“Qadi Abu Muhammad ibn Nasr said, ‘No-one disagreed with him.’ So the Imams take this as a proof that anyone who does anything that might anger, harm or insult the Prophet in any way should be killed.”
“There is also the letter of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdu’l-’Aziz to his governor in Kufa. He had asked his advice about killing a man who had cursed ‘Umar. ‘Umar wrote back to him, ‘It is not lawful to kill a Muslim for cursing anyone except the Messenger of Allah. Whoever curses him, his blood is lawful.’”
At this point Qadi ‘Iyad makes a significant observation: “Anyone who insults or disparages the Prophet has shown clear symptoms of the sickness in his heart.”
Our ‘ulama have all confirmed that this judgment comes down on the Muslim, the Dhimmi, that is someone under the protection of the Muslims, and the kafirun. All are liable to this legal judgment.
“In ‘The Book of Muhammad’, the companions of Malik have told us that he said that whoever curses the Messenger of Allah, or any other Prophet, be he Muslim or kafir, is killed without being asked to repent. Ibn Wahb related from Ibn ‘Umar that a monk made a verbal attack on the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Ibn ‘Umar asked, ‘Why did you not kill him?’”
“In ‘An-Nawadir’, written by Ibn Abi Zaid al-Qayrawani, author of the renowned ‘Risala’, from the version of Sahnun, from Malik, we find that any jew or christian who reviles the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in other than the normal way by which the jews and christians reject him is beheaded unless he becomes a Muslim.”
Muhammad ibn Sahnun said that even if a man claims that it is part of his religion to insult the Messenger, and so in his religion it is lawful, that makes no difference to us. If he openly insults our Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, then our religion makes it lawful to kill him. This surely is the inescapable centre of the current affair. The arrogant kuffar have to learn that the world contains a two-billion community who have a different set of Laws from theirs, and who can never be detached from that Law, for while their laws are inspired by fear, ours are inspired by love. Qadi ‘Iyad gives an interesting narration on Malik that could be said to represent exactly the emotion of the millions of Muslims across the world that have been so disturbed by this affair.
“Ibn al-Qasim said that Malik was asked about a christian in Egypt against whom there was testimony that he had insulted the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. The evidence was very distressing. They asked whether they should kill him so that people would be saved from him. Finally Malik said that he thought the man should be beheaded. After that, Imam Malik added, ‘I almost did not say anything about it, but then I realised that I could not remain silent.’”
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The Fiqh is clear. There is no debate. There can be no opinion. The judgment has to be that the kuffar have to realise that we exist, and what is sacred to us we will never tolerate that it be violated. The kuffar must realise – perhaps, if they are intelligent, realise with a shock – that nothing matters to them in the same way, because they are outside the great circle of those who love Allah and His Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.
The puffed-up indignity of those who rabbit on about free speech, itself an invented fantasy, has to cool down. We are not fools. We know, and they know, that there is not and never has been free speech in any society. From California to the Carpathian Mountains, if you say one word against the jews, even if you propose historically indefensible ideas about the non-existence of Nazi genocide, you are flung into prison. Europe used to fling into prison people who made the equally preposterous claim that the earth was flat. Perhaps the Danish newspaper would care to hold a competition for the best cartoon on Auschwitz, just to demonstrate that what is good for the goose is good for the gander?
There is a strong argument that the whole matter was resurrected in France to draw attention away from the disastrous situation in Israel, where the people huddle helplessly round the dead, zombified figure of the old general who has left them leaderless. The matter is certainly not finished. The weak and strangely silent governments of the kuffar would be well advised to call off their dogs. The governments of Muslim countries, who are to blame for this in the first place, would be well advised to reflect on the counsel of Ibn Khaldun, inspired by his reading of the Qur’an – they too, shall pass away.
Allah the Exalted said in Surat al-Kafirun (109:1-6):
In the name of Allah, All-Merciful, Most Merciful
I do not worship what you worship
and you do not worship what I worship.
Nor will I worship what you worship
nor will you worship what I worship.
You have your deen and I have my deen.’