Kaleef K. Karim
I was updated on Facebook that James R. White was going to debate Robert Spencer. The volume of listeners that attracted Dr. Michael Brown’s live show, as a result it kept getting interrupted. In the short time I got to listen to Robert Spencer speak before it was cut off.
Robert Spencer made a lot of claims in the short few minutes I was able to listen before it got cut off. Many of them was inaccurate. Many of the claims he made about Islam, he is either ignorant or lying. Here are my responses to some of the inaccurate statements Robert Spencer made in the debate with Dr. James R. White, titled, “Is True Islam Always Violent Islam?”, on the 21st June 2017.
1. “I have been commanded to…”
Robert Spencer begins by quoting this Hadith:
“I have been commanded to fight the people until they testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establish the prayer and pay the Zakah.” (Fath al-Bari, volume 1, page 95) (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) [Abridged by A Group of Scholars Under The Supervision Of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri. Maktaba Dar-us-Salam – Second Edition, 2003] volume 4, page 377)”
This Hadith was uttered in relation to the polytheistic Quraysh who persecuted the Muslims. In fact, this Hadith was said in relation to when the Quraysh along with Banu Bakr went on to murdering the non-Muslim tribe Banu Khuza’a (an ally of Prophet Muhammed).
The 13th-century scholar Taqi ad-Din Ahmed Ibn Taymiyyah (1263 – 1328 AD) comments on this Hadith report and says it speaks about those who wage war against the Muslims:
“It refers to FIGHTING THOSE WHO ARE WAGING WAR, whom Allah has permitted us to fight. It does not refer to those who have a covenant with us with whom Allah commands us to fulfill our covenant.” (Majmu al-Fatawa by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, volume 19, page 20)
For Robert Spencer to quote this Hadith to spread his propaganda against the Islamic faith is shameful and very un-Christian of him. For a more detailed analysis on this Hadith, please see the following articles: “The Hadith ‘…Fight Until They Say There Is No god But Allah’ Explained” and here: “Revisiting ‘I Have Been Commanded To Fight…’ Hadith”
2. Ukil case to show that the Prophet (p) was bad and “terroristic” (68)
The second case where Robert Spencer deliberately misrepresents a Hadith is the case where a group of people from Ukil (or Urayna) came to Madina. Spencer claims that these people only were killed due to them taking few camels. However, there is a lot more to the story than what Spencer claims:
“A group of eight men from the tribe of ‘Ukil came to the Prophet and then they found the climate of Medina unsuitable for them. So, they said, “O Allah’s Messenger! Provide us with some milk.” Allah’s Apostle said, “I recommend that you should join the herd of camels.” So they went and drank the urine and the milk of the camels (as a medicine) till they became healthy and fat. Then THEY KILLED the shepherd and drove away the camels, and they became unbelievers after they were Muslims. When the Prophet was informed by a shouter for help, he sent some men in their pursuit, and before the sun rose high, they were brought, and he had their hands and feet cut off. … (Abu Qilaba, a sub-narrator said, “They committed murder and theft and fought against Allah and His Apostle, and spread evil in the land.”) (Sahih al-Bukhari volume 4, Book 52, Hadith 261)
This group of people later in the day went on to murder a shepherd. Then they went on to commit robbery as the above report shows. It should be noted that they not only murdered the shepherd but also tortured him. When this group were pursued to bring them justice they went on to terrorise people in the highway and rape women. Here is the 9th century scholar Tabari (838 – 923 CE) on this incident:
“Abd al-Malik Ibn Marwan wrote a letter to Anas Ibn Malik, was asking him about this verse (i.e., Quran 5:33). Then Anas responded with a letter to him informing him that this verse was revealed concerning those group of Uraniyyun (or Ukil) from Bajilah. Anas said: ‘They apostatized from Islam, KILLED THE SHEPHERD, herded off the camels, SPREAD TERROR ON THE HIGHWAY, AND RAPED WOMEN. Anas said, ‘The Messenger of God asked Jibril [Angel Gabriel] about the ruling concerning those who brigandage. He (Gabriel) said, ‘Whosoever steals and spreads terror on the highway, cut off his hand for his thievery and his leg for spreading terror. And whosoever kills, kill him. And whosoever kills, spreads terror on the highway, and rapes, crucify him.’” (Tabari, jami, by Abu Jafar Muḥammad ibn Jarir al-Ṭabari, volume 10, page 267 (Arabic ed.), (number 11854))
Kitab al-tabaqat al-Kabir – Ibn Sa’d (784 – 845 CE):
“THE SARIYYAH OF KURZ IBN JABIR AL-FIHRI TOWARDS AL-URANIYINS
Then (occurred) the sariyyah of Kurz Ibn Jabir al-Fihri towards al-Uraniyun in Shawwal of the sixth year from the hijrah of the Apostle of Allah. They (narrators) said: A party of the Uraynah numbering eight came to the Apostle of Allah, and embraced Islam but the climate of al-Madinah did not suit them. Thereupon the Apostle of Allah ordered them to live with his milch-camels which used to graze at Dhu al-Jadr in the vicinity of Quba close to Ayr at a distance of six miles from al-Madinah. They remained there till they recuperated and became fat. One morning they made a raid on the milch camels and drove them away. Yasar, the mawla of the Apostle of Allah, confronted them. He fought with them. They cut his hands and feet and pricked thorns in his tongue and eyes. Consequently he died. The news of this incident reached the Apostle of Allah. He sent twenty horsemen to pursue them and appointed Kurz Ibn Jabir al-Fijri their leader. They reached there, and surrounded them. They captured them, tied them, and seating tem on their horses they brought them to al-Madinah. The Apostle of Allah was at al-Ghabah. They set out with them towards him and met him at al-Zaghabah, the place where flood water came from all directions. He gave orders and their hands and feet were amputated, their eyes extracted. They were crucified. Then the verse was revealed to the Apostle of Allah. ‘The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and his Messenger and strive after corruption in the land.’ – Al-Qur’an, 5:33 …” (Kitab al-tabaqat al-Kabir, by Ibn Sa’d, volume 2, page 114 – 115)
These criminals were caught and justice was served to them. Robert Spencer makes it out to the listeners as if these people were innocent who had done nothing wrong. History, however, refutes Spencer’s deliberate lies on this incident.
For more detail surrounding this incident please see the following article: “‘Those Who Wage War And Make Mischief’ – Quran 5:33”
3. Robert Spencer claimed that there is no Hadith where the Prophet said to live in peace with non-Muslims. The Qur’an infact states, orders Muslims to strongly to treat non-Muslims kindly and with justice. In the Quran, Allah says:
“Allah does not forbid you, with regard to those who do not fight you on account of your religion nor drive you out of your homes, to treat them with goodness and to be just to them; truly, Allah loves those who are just. Indeed, Allah forbids you (only) with regard to those who fight you on account of religion and drive you out of your homes, and assist (others) in driving you out, that you turn to them (in friendship); and whoever turns to them (in friendship), they are wrongdoers. (Quran – Al-Mumtahanah, 60:8-9)
In-fact this verse was used by many classical scholars in ordering Muslims to be kind and just to non-Muslims.
4. I have been made terror “ru’b”,
“Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon hlmg) said: I have been given superiority over the other prophets in six respects: I have been given words which are concise but comprehensive in meaning; I have been helped by terror (in the hearts of enemies): spoils have been made lawful to me: the earth has been made for me clean and a place of worship; I have been sent to all mankind and the line of prophets is closed with me.” (Sahih Muslim Book 4, Hadith 1062. Eng. Tran., https://sunnah.com/muslim/5/7 )
The Arabic word here used is “ru’b” and it does not have the same meaning as Robert Spencer tries to convey.
The ‘terror’ that is mentioned in this verse, critics like Robert Spencer tries to interpret it and convey to readers the following definition:
“Violence committed or threatened by a group to intimidate or coerce a population, as for military or political purposes.” (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
However, the Arabic word ‘ru’b’ (رُعْب) does not have that meaning at all. When the Arabic word is used in the Quran or Hadith literature, it just means fear, alarm and fright in the hearts enemy. Here is Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic: Arabic-English – by Hans Wehr:
“رُعْب ru’b fright, alarm, dismay
ir’ab frightening, intimidation
ra’ib dreadful, horrifying, terrible …” (Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic: Arabic-English [Third edition – 1976] By Hans Wehr, page 345)
And here is Wortabet’s Arabic-English Dictionary – by Wortabet William Thomson:
“To be frightened رُعْب
Fright, fear, causing fear, terrifying” (Wortabet’s Arabic-English Dictionary by Wortabet William Thomson, with the collaboration of Rev. John Wortabet M.D. and Professor Harvey Porter Ph. D., [Fourth edition – Librairie du liban Beirut], page 217)
See more dictionaries on the word, here: “Arabic Meaning For Ru’b, Fear, Terror?”
In Fact, this Hadith was uttered in relation to Prophet Muhammed’s enemies i.e., the Quraysh. The”ru’b” is instilled is against his own enemies, as the following Hadith reports clarify (note “ru’b” is translated as “fear” as we clarified earlier),
“It was narrated that Jabir bin ‘Abdullah said: “The Messenger of Allah said: ‘I have been given five things that were not given to anyone before me: I have been supported with fear being struck into the hearts of my enemy for a distance of one month’s travel; the earth has been made a place of prostration and a means of purification for me, so wherever a man of my Ummah is when the time for prayer comes, let him pray; I have been given the intercession which was not given to any Prophet before me; and I have been sent to all of mankind whereas the Prophets before me were sent to their own people.” (Sunan an-Nasa’i, volume 1, Book 4, Hadith 432, Sahih Darussalam, https://sunnah.com/nasai/4/37 )
“(And We have not sent you except to all mankind) meaning, to all the people. Qatadah said concerning this Ayah, “Allah, may He be exalted, sent Muhammad to both the Arabs and the non-Arabs, so the most honored of them with Allah is the one who is most obedient to Allah.” In the Two Sahihs it was reported that Jabir, may Allah be pleased with him said, “The Messenger of Allah said:
I have been given five things which were not given to any of the Prophets before me. I have been aided by fear (the distance of ) a month’s journey. The entire earth has been made a Masjid and a means of purification for me, so that when the time for prayer comes, any man of my Ummah should pray. The spoils of war have been made permissible for me, whereas they were not permitted for any before me. I have been given the power of intercession; and the Prophets before me were sent to their own people, but I have been sent to all of mankind.)” It was also recorded in the Sahih that the Messenger of Allah said.”(Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged), volume 8, page 94)
So who are those who get “ru’b” instilled in their hearts? The exact same word is used in Q. 3:151,
“Soon shall We cast terror (ru’b) into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority”. – Qur’an 3:151
Classical scholars have explained that this Quranic verse along with above Hadith reports was in relation to the Quraysh at the battle of Uhud (Ibn Kathir). The Quraysh for many years had persecuted Muslims in Makkah and even when the Muslims had fled to Madinah they were once again pursued.
Commenting on 3:151, the 15/16th century commentary al-Jalalayn states that ru’b was instilled in the Quraysh’s enemy because they had resolved to come back and murder more Muslims at Uhud:
“We will cast terror (read ru‘b or ru‘ub) into the hearts of the disbelievers: after departing from Uhud they resolved to return in order to exterminate the Muslims, but they were terrified and did not return; for what they have associated, because of their associating, with God that for which He has revealed no warrant, that is, [no] argument in support of its worship, namely, idols; their abode shall be the Fire; evil is the abode, the resting place, of the evildoers, the disbelievers.” (Tafsir al-Jalalayn, online source http://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=74&tSoraNo=3&tAyahNo=151&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=2)
This is also confirmed by the 11th century scholar Abul Hasan Ali ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ali al Wahidi in his “Asbab Al-Nuzul” (d. 1075 CE):
“(We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve) [3:151]. Said al-Suddi: “After Uhud, Abu Sufyan and the idolaters headed toward Mecca. But after they traversed a certain distance, they felt regret, saying: ‘Evil is that which we have done! We massacred them [Muslims] such that none of them remained except those who fled from the battlefield and then we left them alone. Go back and exterminate them’. But when they decided to do so, Allah, exalted is He, cast terror in their hearts which made them decide against what they had resolved to do. Allah, exalted is He, then revealed this verse.” (Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi, online source, http://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=86&tSoraNo=3&tAyahNo=151&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=2 )
When the historical contect surrounding these Hadith reports are shown, we can clearly see that Robert Spencer is delibrately misrepresenting our Islamic scripture.
5. Quran 3:28, “deceive unbelievers”… (96)
Before the live show link got intterupted, Robert Spencer tried to claim that Muslims in general are allowed to lie to non-Muslims, whenever and wherever. For his evidence he presented the following verse,
“Let not the believers take the disbelievers as Auliya (supporters, helpers, etc.) instead of the believers, and whoever does that will never be helped by God in any way, except if you indeed fear a danger from them. And God warns you against Himself (His Punishment), and to God is the final return.” Qur’an 3:28
This verse has nothing whatsoever to do with what Spencer tried to claim. This verse was revealed in regards to those Muslims who get persecuted. That a Muslim is allowed to hide his faith if he knows that he will get tortured and even maybe murdered for revealing his faith. The great Hadith scholar Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi (1903 – 1979 CE) explains the meaning of this verse:
“25 That is, “If a believer falls into the hands of the enemies of Islam and is afraid of maltreatment and high-handedness, he may conceal his Faith, and live among them as if he were one of them. Or, if they come to know of his Faith, he may make a show of his friendship towards them to save his life. In case of extreme fear, he is permitted even to disown his Faith, if he feels that he is not strong enough to endure their oppression.” (Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi – Tafhim al-Qur’an – The Meaning of the Qur’an, online source, http://www.englishtafsir.com/Quran/3/index.html#sdfootnote25sym )
We challenge Robert Spencer to show us one shred of evidence in any of our Sacred Islamic scripture where it permits Muslims to lie to non-Muslims as he claimed.
The claims being made by the “hate preacher” Robert Spencer does not hold any weight when we examined them. The assertions made by Robert Spencer just shows to what lengths people like him will go to spread his venom about Islam. Furthermore, everything he cited, we seen Spencer delibrately lied about it. The earliest historical sources showed that those Hadith reports were uttered in relation to incident(s) that involved enemies who were out there to exterminate the Muslim community.
We urge fellow Christians not to take any information from a man like Robert Spencer about Islam. Go to our direct sources and investigate them yourselves. We have to bear in mind, that Spencer is here to make money. He has no shame, nor intergrity.
Sadly Robert Spencer has a lot in common extremists. They have created this atmosphere, a world of “us” vs “them” mentality, which contributes more hate and destruction in the world. The only way to win against hate preachers and extremists on all sides is to give the true message of scripture and bring communities together for a better and peaceful world.
(1) – “Answering Jihad: ‘Fight Against Those Who Do Not Believe’ – Quran 9:29”
(2) – “IMAMS’ TRIP TO AUSCHWITZ BRINGS HOPE”