In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, Ever Merciful.

Love for All, Hatred for None.

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Book: Murder in the Name of Allah
Murder in the
Name of Allah
Mirza Tahir Ahmad
Editor’s Foreword
Notes on This Translation
1. Religion Drips with Blood
2. The Preaching of Islam: Two Conflicting Views
3. A Rebuttal of Maududian Philosophy
4. Prophets and Troopers: A Study in Contrast
5. The Maududian Law of Apostasy
6. Recantation under Islam
7. Punishment for Apostasy
8. Mercy for the Universe
9. Islamic Terrorism?
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Mercy for the Universe

They were clever enough to realise that a Musalman’s feelings are never more easily amused than over a real or fancied insult to the Holy Prophetsa. They, therefore, began to proclaim that their activates were meant to preserve the nubuwwat [prophethood] of the Holy Prophetsa and to repel attacks on his namus [honor]… The trick succeeded and they began to attract large audiences to their meetings. Since some of the Ahrar speakers are experts in the choice of words and expression and the use of similes and metaphors and can intersperse their speeches with flashes of humor of however low an order, they soon began gaining in popularity.

—Justice Mr. Muhammad Munir1

Disparaging a prophet of God is as old as the prophehood itself. Even Muhammadsa could not escape it. He was mocked, not only during the Meccan period of his life, but also in Medina where he had the authority to punish. The Jews of Medina had sharp tongues and a sick sense of humor, and did not miss an opportunity of ridiculing the Prophetsa.

After the Hijrah, the Quraish of Mecca joined forces with these Jews to stop the progress of Islam. The hypocrites were already there, starting work as fifth columnists. Apart from intrigue and war, they also employed the communications network for anti-Muslim propaganda. The propagandist poets, whom Maxime Rodinson has described as ‘the journalists of the time’ and Carmichael as ‘kindlers of battle’,2 accused the Medinite Muslims of dishonoring themselves by submitting to an outsider. Abu Afak taunted the children of Qayla (the Aws and the Khazraj):

I have lived a long time, but I have never seen
Either a house or gathering of People
More loyal and faithful to
Its allies, when they call on it,
Than that of the children of Qayla
(the Aws and the Khazraj) as a whole.
The mountains will crumble before they submit
Yet here is a rider come among them who had divided them.
(He says) ‘This is permitted; this is forbidden’
To all kinds of things.
But if you had believed in power
And in might, why did you not follow a tubba?3

Abu ‘Afak in effect was saying, ‘The tubba was, after all, a south Arabian king of great reputation, yet you resisted him. Now what has happened to you that you have accepted the claims of a Meccan refugee?’ Meanwhile, Kab was elected chief of the Jews, replacing Malik b. al Sayf4 who also lamented the loss of Quraish at Badr.5 In an elegy he said:

Drive out that fool of yours that you may be safe
From talk that has no sense!
Do you taunt me because I shed tears
For people who loved me sincerely?
As long as I live I shall weep and remember
The merits of people whose glory is the houses of Mecca.6

Obviously, the main purpose of this vulgar and abusive campaign was to sow the seeds of dissention between the Ansar and the Muhajirs on the one hand and between the Aws and the Khazraj on the other. The campaign seemed to pay off when a Jew from the Bann Qua’inq’ua, Shas b. Qays, ordered a Jewish youth to recite some poems composed at the battle of Buath. They were recited to a mixed gathering of Muslims, comprising the Aws and the Khazraj. Eventually, both sides got worked up and challenged each other, saying: ‘If you wish we will do the same thing again.’ They both replied: ‘We will! Your meeting place is outside—that being the volcanic tract. To arms! To arms!’7 As soon as the Holy Prophetsa heard the news he hurried to the spot with the Emigrants and addressed the men of the Aws and the Khazraj:

O Muslims! Remember God, remember God. Will you act like pagans while I am with you? After God has guided you to Islam and honored you and saved you from paganism? After he has delivered you from unbelief and made you friends by so doing.8

The following verses of the Quran were revealed on the occasion10: O ye who believe… if you obey any of those who have been given the Book, they will turn you again into disbelievers after you have believed. When you are the people to whom the signs of Allah are given and among whom the Messenger of Allah is present, how can you disbelieve? He who holds fast to Allah is indeed guided to the right path.

O ye who believe, be mindful of your duty to Allah in all respects, every moment of your lives, so that whenever death overtakes you, it will find you in a state of complete submission to Him. All of you, take hold of Allah’s rope which He gave you when you hated each other. He urtited your hearts in love so that by His grace you became brethren. (3:103, 104)

This was the atmosphere of unrest in Medina when the Prophetsa decided to stop the poet’s propaganda campaign and ask for volunteers to execute them. It was clear they had become a grave danger to peace. To say that they were killed because they reviled and insulted the Prophetsa is to twist historical fact. To use these executions as a precedent for the execution of those who defame the Prophetsa is either deliberate dishonesty or sheer historical ignorance. Defaming the Prophetsa, known technically as sabb, is neither a hadd offence according to the Quran nor a capital offence according to the sunnah. In fact it is not punishable at all, unless there are contributing circumstances. Its punishment, like that of apostasy, is in the hands of Allah alone. The Quran uses goodwill to uphold the honor of Allah and his prophets, not the sword. The Quran says:

Revile not those to whom they pray besides Allah, lest they wrongfully revile Allah through ignorance. Thus unto every nation have We made their deed seem fair. Then unto their Lord is their return, and He will tell them what they used to do. (6.109)

Respect, honor, love and esteem for someone come from the heart. Force can shut mouths, create terror and result in disrespect and irreverence. This is why the Quran takes a positive view in matters of the heart.

As regards respect for the Holy Prophetsa, the Quran says:

Lo! Allah and His angels shower blessings on the Prophet. O ye who believe! Ask blessings on him and honor him with a worthy salutation. Lo! Those who malign Allah and His Messenger Allah hath cursed them in this world and in the next and hath prepared for them the doom of the disdained. And those who malign believing men and women undeservedly, they bear the guilt of slander and manifest sin. (33:5–59)

The Quran is very clear about sabb. It asks Muslims not to seem even the false gods of unbelievers and it does not lay down any punishment for those who show disrespect to the Prophetsa—for them, God has prepared the ‘doom of the disdained’.

And how did the Excellent Exemplarsa treat those who reviled him? Let us return to the leader of them munafiqun, Abdullah b. Ubayy. After the battle of Al-Mustaliq (6AH/AD737), while the Holy Prophetsa was staying by the watering-place of Al-Muraysi, an unpleasant dispute took place between the Muhajirs and Ansar. A hired servant of Umar, Jahjah b. Masud, and Sinan b. Wabar al-Juhani, an ally of Ansar, began fighting.

According to Ibn Ishaq:

The Juhani called out: ‘Men of AI-Ansar!’ and Jahjah called out ‘Men of the Muhajirun!’ Abdullah b. Ubayy b. Salul was enraged. With him were some of his people, including Zayd b. Arqam, a young boy. He said: ‘Have they actually done this? They dispute our priority, they outnumber us in our country. Nothing is more apt for us and the vagabonds of Quaraish than the ancient saying, “Feed a dog and it will devour you.” By Allah, when we return to Medina the most honorable will drive out the meanest.’ Then he went to his people and said: ‘This is what you have done to yourselves. You have let them occupy your country and you have divided your property among them. Had you only kept your property from them they would have gone elsewhere.’ Zayd b. Arqam heard this and, when he had disposed of his enemies, went and told the Prophetsa. Umar, who was with him, said: ‘Tell Abbad b. Bishr to go and kill him.’ The Prophetsa answered: ‘What if men should say Muhammad kills his own Companions? No, but give orders to setoff.‘10

The Holy Prophetsa was, of course, greatly upset. The tribal appeal of Juhani to Ansar and Jahjah’s call to ‘the men of Mahajirun’ reminded him of the Day of Buath and the war of Basus, which lasted forty years. Had Abdullah b. Ubayy succeeded the Ansar, the Muhajirs would have gone back to their tribal wars. The message of Islamic unity, which changed these disunited tribes into a mighty Arab nation, would have been lost forever. The Holy Prophetsa was so upset that he gave orders to move, although, as Ibn Ishaq reports, ‘This was at a time when the Prophetsa was not used to traveling.’11 Referring to this incident, the Quran says:

They [the munafiqun] say: ‘When we return to Medina the one most honorable shall surely drive out the meanest.’ True honor belongs to Allah, to His Messenger and believers; but the hypocrites know it not. (63.9)

When Abdullah, son of Abdullah b. Ubayy, heard of this affair, he went to the Prophetsa and said:

‘I have heard that you want to kill Abdullah b. Ubayy for what you heard about him. If you must, order me to do it and I will bring his head, for Al-Khazraj know they have no man more dutiful to his father than I. I am afraid that if you order someone else to kill him, I could not bear to see his executioner walking around and might kill him. I would therefore be killing a believer for an unbeliever and I would certainly be damned.’ The Prophetsa said: said: ‘No, but let us deal kindly with him and make much of his companionship while he is with us.’12

Muslim rulers, who understood why the Holy Prophetsa treated Abdullah b. Ubayy and other hypocrites and Jews as he did, have been extremely reluctant to create false martyrs in the process of protecting the honor of the Prophetsa (Namus-i-Rasul). In Cordova, between 850 and 859, a group of Christian zealots was formed under the leadership of Eulogius. The members of this group were determined to denounce the Holy Prophetsa publicly and to accept martyrdom. The qadis of Cordova, however, refused to oblige them and jailed them instead. Will Durant reports one such incident:

Isaac, a Cardovan monk, went to the qadi and professed a desire for conversion; but when the judge, well pleased, began to expound Mohammedanism, the monk interrupted him: ‘Your Prophet’, he said, ‘has lied and deceived you. May he be cursed, who has dragged so many wretches with him down to hell!’ The qadi reproved him and asked had he been drinking? The monk replied: ‘I am in my right mind. Condemn me to death.’ The qadi had him imprisoned, but asked permission of Abd-ur Rahman II to dismiss him as insane.13

Shaykhul Islam Ebussuud Efendi, chief mufti of the Ottoman Empire during the reign of the Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, allowed the death penalty, but only for habitual and public defamers of the Holy Prophetsa. Shaykhul Islam went out of his way to insist that execution should not be ordered lightly. He clearly wished to avoid frivolous and malicious prosecutions and laid down that an offender could not be treated as habitual ‘merely on the word of one or two persons’. The habitual character of the offender had to be proved to the authorities by impartial (begharaz) Muslims, who had no axe to grind. But there was an important rider to this which showed that though Shaykhul Islam Ebussuud issued a fatwa without any Quranic or hadith authority, he knew the punishment of sabb was Allah’s alone. The fatwa was issued, probably under political pressure, because he nullified its entire effect by stating that unbelievers were not held guilty for declaring ‘that which constitutes their disbelief’: that is, for rejecting Muhammad’ssa prophetic mission.

The quality of a Muslim’s faith and the measure of respect he holds for the Prophetsa cannot be legally defined. Conversely, an unbeliever can neither be forced to embrace Islam nor to honor its Prophetsa at gunpoint. This is why God has prescribed no punishment for irtidad or sabb in this world. Despite the disparaging words uttered by Abdullah b. Ubayy at the watering-hole of Al-Muraysi, the Holy Prophetssa did not punish him.

The punishment of these two offences is easily exploited by politically orientated ulema who would debase religious causes by using them for materialist purposes and exploit religious belief for their own ends.14

At the moment, Deobandi/Ahli hadith ulema are accusing the Ahmadis of disparaging the Prophetsa. Little do they realize that in doing so they have created the means of their own destruction. In comparison with mainstream Sunnis, who constitute the majority of Muslims in the subcontinent,15 Turkey, and many other Muslim countries, the Deobandis/Ahli hadith and the followers of the Najdi reformer Abdul Wahhab are in a minority throughout the Muslim world (except in Nejd). They are accused of belittling the Prophetsa. The Deobandi/Wahhabi ulema consider the mainstream Sunnis to be kafir for attributing to the Prophetsa qualities which, to say the least, are polytheist. For instance, they say that his body did not cast a shadow because he was filled with light. When Meauud-i-Sherif, popularized by the Turkish poet Suleyman Chelebi of Busra (1410), is concluded with ya Nabi Salam Alaika (peace be with you), the Prophet’ssa soul is present at the event, and, therefore, everyone attending should stand to show respect. In the same manner, praying at his tomb, kissing the grillwork surrounding it and many other such beliefs and practices of the Sunnis Brelvis are shirk according to Deobandis. The Wahhabis, having demolished the historical graveyard of Jannat ul-Baqi, wished to destroy even the dome of the Prophet’ssa mosque and were prevented from doing so only by the strong reaction in the Muslim world. For these acts of destruction of graves, tombs and domes, Sunnis all over the world accuse the Wahhabis of denigrating and belittling the Holy Prophetsa. The Brelvis consider that it was the Deoband scholars Maulana Muhammad Qasim Nanautwi and Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi, who did not believe in Khatm-i-nubuwatt. In a booklet, Deobandi Maulwiyon ka Iman, Maulana Abdul Mustafa Abu Yahya Muhammad Muinuddin Shafi ‘i Qadri Rizvi Thanwi writes:

O Muslims! Look how this accursed, unholy, satanic assertion has destroyed the very basis of Khatm-i-nubuwatt… See that Maulwi Qasim Nanautwi does not believe in Khatm-i-nubuwatt, while Maulwi Rashid Ahmad, Maulwi Khalil Ahmad and other Wahhabi ulema have declared those who reject Khatm-i-nubuwatt as kafir.16

Brelvi-Deobandi polemics—all in the name of protecting the Holy Prophetsa, the very paragon of modesty—have reached such vulgarity that even the mildest examples are offensive. Shourish Kashmiri, a supporter of the Deobandi school, said in his pamphlet ‘Kafir saz Mulla’ that anyone who declares the great leader of Deoband as kafir (unbeliever) is a liar. In the same pamphlet he said that the Brelvi/ulema sell religion and the sharia of the Prophetsa to make a living, that they are the born slaves of Lord Clive’s household, the enemies of the Muslim League and Qaid-i-Azam Jinnah. In another pamphlet, he said that these people were even lower than a brick in Maulana Husain Ahmad’s and Syed Ataullah Shah Bukhari’s lavatory. (16)

The Brelvi reply to these abusive charges was tasteless. They said that the man slandering them and the Holy Prophetsa had spent his life wandering the red-light districts. ‘The man who called Nehru a prophet is now accusing us of selling the Shari’a of the Prophet,’ they cried. ‘Why shouldn’t Muhammad Qasim Nanautwi be called a kafir and how can we accept Ashraf Ali Thanwi as a Muslim? Aren’t they the men who said the door of prophethood was open? Aren’t they the pathfinders of the Qadiyanis? Who has taught you how to denigrate Mustafa? Who has taught you unbelief? You have taken your clothes off, have you no sense of decency or modesty? You have created disorder under the name of khatm-i-nubuwwat and spread mischief under the name of peace. You are collecting money under the name of nubuwwat and begging under the name of the Prophetssa.’

Another poet, Sayyad Muhammad Tanha, said:

How can you appreciate the high status of Ahmad Raza?
Go and smell the stinking underpants of Hindus.
Gold is your prophet, gold is your God
You belong to the party of those who show you gold
You have spent all your life with kufr
How can you, a Khatri Hindu by caste, join Islam?
O Nimrod, how can you glorify Allah?
Your place is with Hindus, go there and praise there the name of Hari, Hari.18

Compare the language, the style and the contents of this Barelvi attack on Deobandi ulema with the tirade of Deobandi scholars against Ahmadis:

  1. Ahmadis deny khatm-i-nubuwwat;
  2. Ahmadis denigrate the Holy Prophetsa:
  3. Ahmadis created British imperialism in India;
  4. Ahmadis opposed the creation of Pakistan;
  5. Ahmadis are opposed to jihad;
  6. Ahmadis associate with non-Muslims;
  7. Ahmadiyat is a racket in religion’s name.

Both the Ahli-Sunnat wal Jamaat (Brelvi) and Deobandi ulema accuse each other of disparaging the Holy Prophetsa. As we saw earlier, the Jamaati Islami described the Ahl-i-Quran as being worse than the Ahmadis. But the Shias have not been spared either—they have been accused of degrading the status of the Holy Prophetsa by claiming that Ali shared the prophethood with him.

The Canadian scholar, Wilfred Cantwell Smith, who visited the subcontinent and closely observed the Muslim society of India and Pakistan, has accused Muslims of ‘a fanaticism of blazing vehemence’. In his book, Islam in Modern India, he says:

Muslims will allow attacks on Allah: there are atheists and atheistic publications and rationalistic societies, but to disparage Muhammad will provoke from even the most liberal sections of the community a fanati cism of blazing vehemence.19

This is an incorrect assessment of Muslim temperament. Prof. Cantwell Smith has generalized. Actually, it is the Mullahs and the politically orientated leadership which recognized: ‘that the feelings of a Musulman are never more easily aroused and his indignation awakened than over a real or fancied insult to the Holy Prophet.’20

No doubt the rich and the poor, the intellectuals, the uneducated, the pious and impious have always been united in the love of the Prophetsa and considered fana fir-rasul (annihilation in the name of the Prophetsa) to be the peak of religious experience. But no Muslim is unmindful that the Holy Prophet’ssa highest experience was the miraj, when he, surrounded by clouds of angels, soared high into the Divine Presence, where even the angel Gabriel has no access. The power-hungry Muslim leadership forgets that the exhortation ‘Muhammadsa is the Messenger of God’ is only the second part of the confession of the Muslim faith. The first is: ‘There is no God but Allah.’

There is no way to measure love or respect. Lovers and mystics wrote diwans after diwans and finally devoted their lives to trying to express feelings no language could really convey. The mullahs can scan the poem of love, but cannot understand it. It is no mere accident that the founder of the Ahmadiyyah Movement in Islam was named Ghulam Ahmadas. What an honor! What a status! What a glory! In the following three couplets he answers those who accuse him of disparaging the Holy Prophetsa and critics, like Cantwell Smith, who accuse Muslims of being negligent of Allah’s honor:

After the love of Allah it is Muhammad’s love
which has captivated my heart;
If this love be kufr, by God I am a great kafir.21
My Love! My Benefactor! Let my life be sacrificed in Thy way,
For when hath Thou shown indifference in Thy goodness to this slave?22
If it be the custom that claimants of
Thy love be beheaded at Thy threshold,
Then let it be known I am the first to claim that reward.23

The founder of the Ahmadiyyah Movement in Islam has clearly and honestly declared his faith in the supreme authority of the Holy Prophetsa as the Khatam-un-nabiyyin. He said:

The basis of our religion and the essence of our belief is that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Prophet. The faith that we follow in this earthly life and the faith in which, by the grace of God, we shall depart from this transitory abode, is that of our Lord and great Master, Muhammad –( may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is Khatam-un-nabiyyin. Nabuwwat, prophethood are the great blessings, leading man straight to God and it has reached that state of completion to which nothing can be added.24

And, again:

A superior status, comprising all that is good, belongs to our Lord and Master, Seal of the Prophets, Muhammad Mustafasa. It is unique to him, it is unapproachable.25

The writer of the four quotations given above, Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, and his followers have been declared non-Muslims by Muslims described by Sir Muhammad lqbal (1875–1938) in the following stanzas of a long Urdu poem:

Hands are impotent and nerveless,
hearts unfaithful and infidel,

The Community a heartbreak to
their Prophet and a shame;

Gone are the idol-breakers, in their
places idol-makers dwell;

Abraham their father was: the
children merit Azar’s name.26

New and strange the band of drinkers,
and their wine is strange and new,

A new shrine to house their Kaaba,
new and strange the idols too.

Very heavy on your spirits weighs the
charge of morning’s prayer;

How much more would you prefer sleeping, than
rising up to worship me.

Ramadan is too oppressive for you
tempers free to bear;

Tell me now, do you consider that the
law of loyalty?

Nations come to birth by faith; let
faith expire, and nations die

So, when gravitation ceases, the
thronged stars asunder fly.

Why, you are a people utterly bereft
of every art;

No other nation in the world so lightly
spurns its native place;

You are like a barn where lightnings
nestle, and will not depart;

You would sell your fathers’ graveyards,
And say that such a thing was right;

Making profit out of tombstones has
secured you such renown—

Why not set up shop in idols,
if you chance to hunt some down?

Loud the cry goes up ‘The Muslims?
They are vanished, lost to view’,

We re-echo, ‘Are true Muslims to be
found in any place?’

Christian is your mode of living, and
your culture is Hindu;

Why, such Muslims to the Jews
would be a shame and a disgrace.

Sure enough, you have your Syeds,
Mirzas, Afghans, all the rest;

But can you claim that you are Muslims
if the truth must be confessed?27

Having claimed that the Muslims of the day would shame even Jews, and that they would even sell their ancestors’ tombstones, the ‘poet, philosopher, political thinker and altogether most eminent figure in Indian Islam of the twentieth century’28 decided to distinguish between Muslims and Ahmadis.

So in 1936 he wrote in an open letter to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the leader of the predominantly Hindu Indian National Congress and, later, first prime minister of India, demanding that Ahmadis should be declared a non-Muslim minority. In the constitution of secular India the demand was, of course, ignored. But for the ulema of Deoband it was a matter of life and death. Hindus have occupied Babari Masjid in Ayodhya and converted it under police protection into the Ram Janina Bhoomi temple. Another section of Hindus demand the conversion of Benares and Kashi mosques into temples. Most Hindus are agitating for the abolition of Muslim personal law.

This is what becomes of people who reject prophets of God and men of peace. They stand disunited and bereft of the blessings of the peace they sought to disturb. They breed violence and terrorism.


  1. Munir Commission Report , 258.
  2. Maxime Rodinson, Mohammad , trans. Anne Carter (New York, 1971), 194. ‘A tribal poet among the Bedouin,’ as Joel Carmichael puts it, was ‘no mere versifier, but a kindler of battle’, his poems were ‘thought of as the serious beginning of real warfare’ (The Shaping of the Arabs, a Study in Ethnic Identity, New York, 1967, 38).
  3. IbnHisham, Kitab Sirat Rasul Allah ,995.TheEnglish translation is by Anne Carter, given in Rodinson’s Mohammed , op.cit ., 157.
  4. Ali b. Burhan ad Din ud-Halabi, Insan al-Uyun , vol. II, 116; cited by Kister, The Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient , vol. VIII, 267.
  5. Ibn Hisham, op.cit ., 459.
  6. Ibn Hisham, op.cit ., 550, this translation by A. Guillaume.
  7. Ibid., 386.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid., 387.
  10. Ibid., 726.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Will Durant, The Story of Civilisation , 11 vols. (New York: Simon & Shuster, 1950), vol. IV, The Age of Faith, 301.
  14. Munir Commission Report , 259.
  15. In the subcontinent they are generally known as Brelvis.
  16. Deobandi Maulwiyon ka Iman (Lyallpur: Shahi Masjid, n.d.).
  17. Razakhani Fitna Pardazon ka siyah jhoot .
  18. Shah Muhammad Asi and Syed Muhammad Tanha, Shourish’ urfBhare ka Tattoo , 7–8.
  19. Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Modern Islam in India (Lahore, 2nd ed., 1947).
  20. Munir Commission Report , 257.
  21. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Izala-i-Awham (Amritsar, 1891), part 1, 176.
  22. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, A’ ina-i-Kamalat (Qadian, 1893), last page.
  23. Ibid.
  24. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, op.cit ., Izala-i-Awham , 138.
  25. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Tawdih-i-Maram (Amritsar, 1308 AH), 23.
  26. According to the Quran, Abraham’s father’s name was Azar, (Adhar) the name given by the Church historian, Eusebius, and not Terah as given in Genesis 11:26; Quran, 6.75.
  27. Sir Muhammad tribal, Bang-i-Dara, Jawab-i-Shikwah , stanzas VII, IX, X and X V II, trans. A. ,J. Arberry.
  28. Ant Ahmad and G.E. Grunebaum (eds.) Muslim Self-Statement in India and Pakistan , 1857–1968 (Wiesbaden, 1970), 13.
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