[This is perhaps the first online Muslim response to the Christian slanders about this particular issue]
The way the story of killing of Umm Qirfa is presented by anti-Islamic polemicists is a perfect example of how they twist the facts.
The twisted story:
They give an impression as if she was a noble lady of great character and Muslims for no valid reason attacked her tribe and her killing in that specific manner, of tying her legs to two camels and driving them away and thus tearing her apart, was carried out on by the command of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) himself. They also allege that her head was brought to the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and he ordered it to be paraded in Medina. Then they try to make an issue about her daughter who was taken as a prisoner and later gave birth to a child of Hazn bin Abu Wahb. They tend to convey as if she was raped. Indeed nothing can be far from truth then this.
Some issues with the narration:
First of all let me say that there is some confusion as to when was Umm Qirfa killed and who lead the campaign against her violent tribe. According to Baihiqi’s Sunan al-Kubra 8/204 and Sunan Darqutni (H.3249) she was killed during the caliphate of Abu Bakr (RA) while most of the books on Sirah (life and times of the Holy Prophet PBUH) put it somewhere in 6th year A.H. Further according to Sahih Muslim (H.3299) Abu Bakr (RA) led the campaign during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). But accounts in the books of Sirah give the notion as if Zaid bin Harith (RA) was the leader. Polemicists, mostly Christians, generally refer to the books of Sirah so we shall reply considering those particular narrations.
The True Story in Full:
Here I give the full account as to what actually happened. Reading the accounts of the event given in both Sirat Ibn Hisham and Tabaqat Ibn S’ad will help us understand better.
1- Zaid bin Harith (RA) went on a trading journey to Syria and with him was the merchandise for Companions of the Prophet (PBUH). While he was near Wadi’l Qura’ he encountered people from the Tribe of Badr of Fazara, whose leader was Umm Qirfa. They attacked him and his companions and snatched all they had of merchandise.
2- Some of his fellows were killed and he himself was carried wounded from the field. Zaid vowed that he would not wash his head for ritual purity (i.e. he vowed to abstain from sexual intercourse) until he fought the people of Fazara.
3- When he recovered from his wounds the Holy Prophet (PBUH) sent him to punish the treacherous people and ordered them to move by the night and rest by the day as a stratagem.
4- Zaid went and fought the Fazara in Wadi’l Qura, killed some of them. Qais bin Musahhar killed Mas’ada bin Hakama. Umm Qirfa, her daughter and Abdullah bin Mas’ada were taken as prisoners. Zaid ordered Qais bin Musahhar to kill Umm Qirfa and Qais killed her by putting a rope in her two legs, tying it to two camels and driving them in opposite directions until she was killed, ripped apart.
(Tabaqaat Ibn Sa’d 2/90 & Sirat Ibn Hisham 2/617)
In Sirat Halbiyya, another source they cite on this issue, it is clearly stated;
“Zaid bin Harith went on a trading expedition towards Syria and with him was the merchandise for the Companions of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). While he was near Wadi’l Qura he met a party from the Tribe of Fazara of Banu Badr. They attacked him and his companions and snatched all that was with them (of merchandize).” (Sirat Halabiyya 2/192)
5- Further we learn that Umm Qirfa in her capacity of being the tribal leader plotted to harm the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in person (Ar-Raheeq al-Makhtum p.457). In Sirat Halabiyya it is stated that;
“Zaid bin Harith ordered the killing of Umm Qirfa for she used to revile the Prophet, on whom be peace and blessings of Allah, and because she had prepared thirty riders from amongst he children and grand children and had asked them to attack Medina and kill Muhammad (PBUH).” (Sirat Halabaiyya 3/251)
Facts and the Lies!
Now this clarifies certain points.
1- It was the Tribe of Fazara, which was headed by Umm Qirfa, who first attacked Muslims who were merely on trading journey.
2- They killed Muslims and took their merchandise.
3- Muslims made a counter attack to punish the trigger-happy tribe.
4- There is no authentic report whether Holy Prophet (PBUH) ordered her killing specifically. Infact it was Zaid bin Harith (RA) who ordered her killing as she was, being the leader of the tribe, responsible for all that happened. And we just read Zaid himself had seen their aggression and merely survived it.
5- Her killing was perfectly justified as she led her tribe to commit violence against Muslims. She was no innocent a woman and was rather a hostile enemy.
6- The manner she was killed was not ordained by the Prophet (PBUH) but was carried on by the people who had undergone the terror practiced by her men. It was a reaction by such people; nevertheless it goes against the mannerism taught by Islam. And though such a behavior is deplorable, it is Umm Qirfa herself who is to be held responsible for such a reaction.
7- No authentic report makes any mention of her head being brought to the Prophet (PBUH) and then paraded in the streets of Medina. This is a myth and a lie! The books these slanderers produce as a reference are no authority as they are not written by trustworthy people and no authentic report in any of the classical books gives even a hint to such a happening.
The Daughter of Umm Qirfa:
8- Now coming to the daughter of Umm Qirfa. There are two reports and these liars refer to both of them. According to Sahih Muslim, she was given to Salama bin al-Akwa’ and then Holy Prophet (PBUH) took her from Salama and she was given as a ransom for Muslim captives in Makkah. While according to Sirat Ibn Hisham etc she was taken from Salama and then given to Hazn bin Abu Wahb and later bore him a son, Abdul Rahman.
9. She was not raped: According to Sahih Muslim she was first given to Salama (RA) and he himself reports:
“…we arrived in Medina. I had not yet disrobed her when the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) met me in the street and said: ‘Give me that girl, O Salama!’ I said: ‘Messenger of Allah, she has fascinated me. I had not yet disrobed her.’ The next day, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) again met me in the street, he said: ‘O Salama, give me that girl, May God bless your father.’ I said: ‘She is for you. Messenger of Allah! By Allah! I have not yet disrobed her.’ The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) sent her to the people of Makkah, and surrendered her as ransom for a number of Muslims who had been kept as prisoners at Makkah.” (Sahih Muslim, Hadith 3299)
Now one can observe that Salama (RA) said that he had not disrobed her when they reached Medina and again when the Holy Prophet (PBUH) met him in the street he told that he had not disrobed her. And even the next day, after the night having passed, when he was again asked for the girl, he testified that he had yet not disrobed her though she fascinated him.
This is enough proof that Salama didn’t forcefully lay with her as it was against the teachings of Islam. Islam does not allow a man to forcefully have sexual intercourse with his slave woman, otherwise no could stop Salama from sleeping with a slave girl who fascinated him. And if she later gave birth bore Hazn bin Abu Wahb (RA) a son then it must have been by her own consent. We have seen the conduct of pious companion Salama (RA) and there is no reason to say that another pious companion Hazn (RA) would have violated the Islamic injunction and forced the daughter of Umm Qirfa into the intimate relation.
Indiscriminate killing of women and children:
“Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” (1Samuel 15:3)
Agreed that the Amalekites were accused of being violent to the Israel on their way out of Egypt but did Fazara, the tribe lead by Umm Qirfa, not do the same to Muslims who were merely on trading journey? But still there is difference. Muslims killed only those who fought and plotted against Muslims and even Holy Prophet (PBUH) in person, but why did the ‘loving Father’ in the Heavens above order the indiscriminate killing of men and women and even infants? Why infant and the suckling? No devil or saint can help the Christians come up with a justification for such cruelty.
Keep virgin women ‘for yourselves’!
Bible puts the following words into the mouth of Moses (PBUH) alleging that he was inspired by God:
“Therefore kill all that are of the male sex, even of the children: and put to death the women, that have carnally known men. But the girls, and all the women that are virgins save for yourselves:” (Numbers 31:17-18)
Again why kill children? Were they also accused of deceiving the people of Israel? Why kill even the little ones for your weakness of Faith? Even the learned men of Christianity find no way to justify this barbarism attributed to holy men. Adam Clarke in his commentary to this verse says: “The little ones were safely lodged; they were taken to heaven and saved from the evil to come.” What a justification! Reasoning and rationality can only mourn at it.
But ‘all the girls and all the women that are virgins save for yourselves!’ says the Bible attributing it to Moses (PBUH). What for? Were the virgin women not accused of deceiving the Israel while even the children were? I need not say that as you, the reader, can easily sense what the reason can be. And I urge you to give a verdict if it suits these slandering Christians to speak about Islam?
Kill the men, capture the women, and take the spoils!
“When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee. And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it: And when the LORD thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword: But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the LORD thy God hath given thee.” (Deuteronomy 20:10-14)
These verses are a slap on the face of all those evil mongers among the Christians who speak against the Islamic idea of Jihad, taking women as captives (remember, Islam allows this under some special circumstances governed by rules that guarantee rights of those taken as captives) and capturing spoils of war.It does not suit a person who dwells in a house made of delicate glass to throw stones at others!
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
INDEED ALLAH KNOWS THE BEST!
…by Waqar Akbar Cheema