Dissociating from Slavery – Should the ‘Prophet’ Be Next?

Bristol, England: Edward Colston’s statue being dumped in the river as part of the #BlackLivesMatter protests. In contrast the centuries long history of Islamic inspired Arab slave trading remains unaddressed.

A significant sub-theme of the recent ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests was the emphasis on ‘cleansing’ public spaces from any taint of an association with the historical slave trade. This was perhaps nowhere more graphically illustrated than in the city of Bristol where a statue of the slave-trader Edward Colston was toppled and dumped in the river.

One historical manifestation that is receiving a huge ‘free pass’ in the current furore is Islam and its role in launching and sustaining a massive slave trade over more than a millenium. Instead of coming to terms with Islam’s complicity in motivating slavery, it is pushed as an enlightened alternative to Western values by people who are essentially clueless about its regressive teachings.

Nowhere is this trend more evident than in the disconnect between the idea that Islam stands for human rights and its attitude towards slavery.

Even a cursory examination of the Qur’an and hadiths will quickly reveal that Muhammad enthusiastically participated in the buying and selling of fellow human beings. The following is a brief selection of texts confirming this:

“O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those (slaves) whom thy right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to thee” (Qur’an 33:50) This is one of the many convenient revelations that Muhammad received. In this case, he is allowed as many sexual partners as he desires from among his female slaves. This verse would presumably not have been ‘revealed’ if Muhammad did not possess any female slaves.

Jabir (Allah be pleased with him) reported: There came a slave and pledged allegiance to Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) on migration; he (the Holy Prophet) did not know that he was a slave. Then there came his master and demanded him back, whereupon Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: Sell him to me. And he bought him for two black slaves (Sahih Muslim 10:3901) Here we see the prophet of Islam actually involved in the trading of slaves (selling two black slaves in exchange for a Muslim slave). Note that there is no record whatsoever of Muhammad immediately setting the Muslim slave free. Even if he did set him free it would have been better to pay in cash rather than with the black slaves. By ‘paying in slaves’ he ensured that the freedom of the Muslim slave (if he was indeed freed) was bought at the terrible price of the continued enslavement of the two black slaves.

Narrated Anas bin Malik: Allah’s Apostle was on a journey and he had a black slave called Anjasha, and he was driving the camels (very fast, and there were women riding on those camels). Allah’s Apostle said, “Waihaka (May Allah be merciful to you), O Anjasha! Drive slowly (the camels) with the glass vessels (women)!” (Sahih Bukhari 8:73:182) This is just one of the many examples of Muhammad interacting with his slaves. Interestingly the hadiths often stress the fact that many of Muhammad’s slaves were black.

The Prophet sent for a woman from the emigrants and she had a slave who was a carpenter. The Prophet said to her “Order your slave to prepare the wood (pieces) for the pulpit.” So, she ordered her slave who went and cut the wood from the tamarisk and prepared the pulpit, for the Prophet. When he finished the pulpit, the woman informed the Prophet that it had been finished. The Prophet asked her to send that pulpit to him, so they brought it. The Prophet lifted it and placed it at the place in which you see now.” (Sahih Bukhari 3:47:743) This hadith does not deal with a slave directly owned by Muhammad, but it does show that he had no problem commanding his followers to order their slaves to work on his behalf. It is a staggering fact that the very pulpit that he used to preach Islam from was constructed with slave labor.

Not quite ‘Let Freedom Ring’ is it? In fact, on the basis of the prophet’s teaching and example a centuries long slave trade that terrorised Europe and Africa for centuries was launched. So, will the campaign of ‘disassociation’ reach him anytime soon? Will we soon se #MuhammadMustFall hashtags?

Somehow I’m not holding my breath!

For a fuller discussion of the incompatibility of Islam with Western values see my book ‘Questioning Islam – Tough Questions and Honest Answers About the Muslim Religion’

“All Lives Matter?” Islam: Not so Fast!

‘Diversity Hire’ Muhammad Noor and his victim, Justine Damon

I’m slightly reluctant to enter the conversation around the protests following the death of George Floyd, since my writings mostly focus on Islam and the way in which the increasing Islamization of our societies threaten our freedoms. However, I recently came across an aspect of the protests that is directly relevant to this and that should not pass without comment. First, some context is needed.

On 15 July 2017 Australian-American woman Justine Damon called the Minneapolis Police (yes, the very same police department involved in the George Floyd killing!) to report what she believed was a domestic violence incident in the alley behind her home. Answering the call was one of the brightest stars of the Minneapolis police. Mohammad Noor’s appointment as a police officer was celebrated around the US as a victory for diversity in policing, as he was one the first Somali Americans to be appointed as a Minnesota police officer. Photos of him, smiling broadly, with his family (the women all in hijabs) were proudly distributed by the MPD.

However, the events of 15 July 2017 were nothing to smile about. Even as he was appointed some people in the MPD felt uneasy about Noor’s general jumpiness and his perceived lack of respect for women. He also had three pending complaints against him after just a few months on the force, one for allegedly assaulting a woman while on duty. Yet, remarkably, he was still on the beat. As Ms. Damon approached the squad car, with bare feet and in her pajamas, Officer Noor pulled his gun and shot her at virtually point-blank range without so much as a word of warning. The contrast with the Floyd incident could not be starker. No riots followed her death and the events of the day were quickly buried in the news cycle. Officer Derek Chauvin was charged with murdering George Floyd within a week. In the case of Officer Noor, it took eight months (you read that right) for him to be charged with second-degree murder. He spent that entire eight months on paid leave. Noor was eventually acquitted of second-degree murder, found guilty of the lesser charge of third-degree murder, and sent to prison for 12.5 years.

How (besides the obvious double standards) does this tie in the with Black Lives Matter protests? Well, a CNN reporter asked some Somali Minneapolis residents, participating in the George Floyd protests, what kind of justice they were looking for. One of came up with the following, rather startling, answer: “Free Muhmmad Noor!” His friend echoed this: “Free that man right now!” This is nothing short of jaw dropping. People supposedly protesting police brutality calling for the release of a policeman who brutally killed a defenseless woman.

It is easy to dismiss this reaction as the ravings of two cranks enjoying their 15 Minutes of Fame. I want to suggest, however, that there is something deeper going on here. You see, despite all the slogans flying around at the moment, Islam does not believe or teach that ‘All Lives Matter’. At least not equally so.

Shari’a (Islamic law) emphatically declares non-Muslim life to be worth less than that of Muslims. This is based on several hadiths that states that the life of a disbeliever is worth much less than of that of a Muslim. For example: “… no Muslim should be killed in Qisas (equality in punishment) for killing a Kafir (disbeliever).” (Sahih al-Bukhari, 9:83:50) So, it is a legal principle within Islam that a Muslim must never be executed for killing a non-Muslim since the Muslim life is more valuable. From this departure point a whole web of legal rulings were developed, assigning values to different lives.

According to the Hanbali legal school, the life of a Christian or Jew is worth half that of a Muslim, and thus the diya (blood money) awarded by modern-day Hanbali courts is half that awarded in case of Muslim’s death. The Hanafi and Maliki schools also consider the life of a Christian or Jew to be worth half a Muslim’s life, but Shafi’i schools of jurisprudence consider it to be worth a third that of a Muslim. When it comes to those who are not Christians or Jews the picture is even grimmer. The Hanafi, Maliki and Shafi’i legal schools of Sunni Islam, as well as those of Shia Islam, have considered the life of polytheists and atheists as one-fifteenth the value of a Muslim during sentencing.

Somali Muslims follow the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence. That means that our CNN interviewees would have thought that Ms. Damon’s life was worth only a third of that of a Muslim (assuming they believed she was a Christian). This worth would have been diminished even further by the fact that she was a woman, as shari’a mandates half the blood-money for the killing of a woman compared to a man. Thus, reducing her worth to one sixth of theirs. Such calculations potentially shed a rather interesting light on their calls for the release of Officer Noor. It is quite possible that they think that the punishment does not fit the crime, since Justine Damon’s death was not that big of a deal. Could it be that they believe that as a non-Muslim, and a non-Muslim woman at that, her murder should not see a Muslim languishing in jail for more than a decade?

The standard response to the statement that ‘All Lives Matter’ is to say that this is true but that there are certain lives that we should pay more attention to at this point in history. We can debate long and hard about this, but it is an incontrovertible fact that this is not a statement that devout followers of Islam can wholeheartedly endorse. Their faith teaches them that the value of lives depends on whether people follow the Muslim religion or not. There are more and more parts of Western world, including in Minneapolis, where this is fast becoming the majority opinion.

Might this be a moment to pause and think about what we are importing and allowing to flourish?

For a hard hitting look at the links between Islamic teaching and violence, please see my book ‘Nothing to do with Islam? Investigating the West’s Most Dangerous Blind Spot

Investigating the Red-Green Alliance

The 2017 celebration of the Islamic festival of Eid Al-Adha will probably long be remembered by worshippers at the Ottawa Islamic Association. On that day none other than the Prime Minister of Canada popped in for a visit. As he basked in the warm glow of appreciation from the assembled worshippers, Justin Trudeau could not be more open and appreciative in his remarks about how much he valued the contribution of Muslims to Canadian society.

Still, it is likely that some of those worshippers remember Mr. Trudeau’s visit better than others. Some could probably not even see him properly. You see, in line with Islamic teachings this was a segregated gathering. So, the women present had to observe from a gallery, far from the action. This fact was not remarked on by Mr. Trudeau despite his comments earlier in the week that a key part of his policy agenda was to: “…speak to inclusive growth, help for the middle class. I will talk about gender equality. I will talk about the rights of the LGBT community. We will continue to promote the values which bring us together.” 

Rather predictably neither ‘gender equality’ nor ‘the LGBT community’ got much of a look-in amidst the mutual backslapping of the day. There was also no mention of the fact that the Islamic community in Ottawa has been on the receiving end of millions of dollars from one of the most illiberal regimes on the planet.  Perhaps it would have been bad form to ask if all that Saudi money came with any strings attached? So in the absence of awkward questions, the polite fiction that the two sides, Canada’s uber-liberal Prime Minister and the members of the mosque funded by a nation that does not allow women to leave home without a male guardian, really had deep-seated values ‘which bring us together’. We would, at the very least, be entitled to wonder what exactly those shared values might be?

In the same year, that Ottawa’s Muslims pushed some of their most cherished convictions aside to dote upon a Prime Minister whose values they probably privately despised (if they wanted to remain true to their prophet’s teachings) another group, at the other end of the spectrum, chose to do the same in reverse. The ‘Woman’s March’ in Washington DC was intended to draw attention to some of the most cherished causes of a certain segment of the radical left. It was all there, ‘smashing the patriarchy’, transgender rights, radical abortion reform and much much more. Yet, right at the heart of it, as co-chair no less, was a follower of a religion whose prophet called women ‘deficient in intelligence and religion’ (Sahih Bukhari 1:6:301) and whose holy book commands men to beat disobedient wives (Qur’an 4:34). 

Linda Sarsour’s Muslim identity was not an embarrassment for the painfully woke leadership of the Woman’s March. Instead, she was celebrated precisely because of that identity. In fact, one of the most memorable images from the march was a picture, in the style of President Obama’s famous ‘Hope’ campaign poster, in which the most striking feature was a hijab. The message could not be clearer. The hijab should be celebrated as a symbol of female liberation, a strike against the patriarchy! This would surely come as news to the multitude of women in the Muslim world who served prison terms because they refused to wear one.  Had they been aware of this the radical leftist organisers of the march probably still would not care. They had to show that Muslims were right at the heart of their movement, even if this came at the cost of some serious cognitive dissonance.

What on earth is going on? Why do people who, on the basis of their ideology, should despise the other side appear so ready to ‘kiss and make up’. I call this phenomenon the Red-Green (or Leftist-Islamist) Alliance and coming to grips with how it came to be, and how it can be challenged for the sake of freedom, are the major themes of the book I am currently working on. I’ll be blogging some of the chapters as I go along, so watch this space!

PS. My Red-Green Alliance book is still a few months away from publication. In the meantime I’m sure you will enjoy my first novel, ‘The House Built on Sand’ with its penetrating look at the earliest years of Islam.

Islamic Supremacy Ringing out Over the Western World

In one example among many, media outlets in the USA are gushing in their praise for the move by the City of Minneapolis in granting a noise permit so that the Islamic ‘call to prayer’ can be broadcast five times a day in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood during the month of Ramadan. The move is widely heralded as ‘historic’, and some uncomfortable truths (like the fact that the terror-linked ‘Council on American Islamic Relations’ is funding the broadcasts) are quietly ignored. In fact, the move by Minneapolis is widely seen as a sign of bigger things to come, with some even expressing the hope that the adhan (call to prayer) will ring out permanently across this part of Minneapolis.
The last thing that those celebrating this ‘wonderful expression of diversity’ is ready to do is to enquire too deeply into what exactly the adhan signifies. At its most basic it is so much more than an invitation to prayer. Instead it forcefully proclaims the supremacy of Islam over all other faiths and ideologies. In Arabic, the word adhan means to listen, to be informed or enlightened — signifying that people previously in darkness and ignorance are now informed and enlightened about the true religion of Islam, to which they must submit. This is evident in the very words that are being used: “Allah is the greatest. I bear witness that there is no god except Allah. I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. Come to prayer. Come to salvation.
One wonders whether the ’enlightened’ civic leaders of Minneapolis had quite this kind of enlightenment in mind when they voted to have the supremacy of Islam proclaimed over their city.
What is even more concerning is that the adhan has a definite territorial dimension. The presence of it within a community definitively marks it out as part of the ‘house of Islam’. A place, therefore, where Islam is seen to be dominant to the exclusion of all other competing faiths.
According to his biographer Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad himself used the adhan to determine which communities to attack and which to leave alone. Its absence at the village of Khaybar was ultimately what motivated Muhammad to visit carnage upon it. According to Ibn Ishaq: “When the apostle [Muhammad] raided a people he waited until the morning.  If he heard a call to prayer he held back; if he did not hear it he attacked.  We came to Khaybar by night, and the apostle passed the night there; and when morning came, he did not hear the call to prayer, so he rode (to attack it) and we rode with him.
It would be naive in the extreme to think that the Muslim people of Cedar-Riverside are entirely unaware of these deeper resonances of the adhan. Presumably this causes them to think of their neighborhood as a place where Islam dominates and where they can be at peace. One shudders to think, however, of what it tells them about the rest of their city where the adhan is not being heard.

For more on how the example and teachings of Muhammad play a significant role in inspiring violence in the name of Islam, please see my book:Nothing to do with Islam – Investigating the West’s Most Dangerous Blind Spot”.