Friday, October 31, 2008

Who was the Father of Muhammad? Part 2

Fatwas have recently begun appearing on Islamic websites offering a 60 million dollar reward for the murder of Zakariya Boutrous (the US reward for Usama Bin Ladin is less than half that). A lawsuit at the highest level is being brought against him in his native country of Egypt. Why? Because he does what few people dare to do – ask hard questions about Islam. Following is the broadcast on Al-Hayat TV that started it all, with host Ahmad and Father (Abuna) Zakariya discussing the birth of Muhammad.

AHMAD: Welcome to “The Bull’s Eye”, in which we look at issues surrounded by questions. Today we will examine the genealogy of Muhammad from Islamic sources to see who he is and where he came from. Abuna, have you found information about this in Islamic history?

ABUNA: Yes I have, and there are questions that I have never heard explained by any Islamic scholar or Imam. I don’t know why they hesitate to talk about it. It’s a vital subject and discussed in the history books. I invite all those watching to think about and do further research on the claim that Muhammad remained in the womb of his mother Amina for four years.

AHMAD: But Muslims will say this is just one of the miracles of Muhammad. What’s unusual about that?

ABUNA: Of course they can say this is a pre-natal miracle of Muhammad, just as they say that he was the first of God’s creation which is another of his miracles. If that’s what they want to say, fine. But they try to justify it by saying that other women have remained pregnant for several years. In other ways, they claim it to be a natural phenomenon. But I pose the question, is it natural that a child would remain in the womb of his mother for four years?

AHMAD: It seems to be an embarrassing question. How do Muslims deal with it?

ABUNA: They just ignore it. You would think they would want to know as much as possible about the birth of Muhammad, just as we Christians want to know as much as possible about the birth of Jesus. The miracles surrounding Christ’s birth are well known. If Muhammad is, as Muslims believe, the highest of the prophets, they should want to know everything about him. The problem concerning the birth of Muhammad begins and ends with his connection to his uncle Hamza, who was the son of Muhammad’s grandfather Abd al-Mutallib.

AHMAD: What’s the relationship between Muhammad and Hamza?

ABUNA: The biography of Muhammad written by al-Halabi, as well as "The Comprehensive Compilation of the Names of the Prophet's Companions" by Ibn Abd al-Barr, both say that Muhammad’s mother Amina lived in the house of her uncle Wahib. Abd al-Mutallib went with his son Abdallah to seek the hand of Wahib’s niece Amina. While there, Abd al-Mutallib was attracted to a daughter of Wahib named Hala and asked for her hand as well. Wahib agreed, and Muhammad’s father Abdallah and his grandfather Abd al-Mutallib were both married on the same day in a double marriage ceremony.

AHMAD: So Muhammad’s father married Amina, and his grandfather married her cousin Hala on the same day.

ABUNA: That’s correct. In his biography of the prophet, Ibn Hisham says that Abdallah had sexual intercourse with Amina in her father’s house immediately after the marriage and she became pregnant with the Messenger of God. So what is undisputed is that Amina became pregnant with Muhammad just after becoming married. “The Book of the Major Classes” by historian Ibn Sad says that Abdallah died a few months after his marriage at the age of 25, when his wife Amina was pregnant with Muhammad. Muhammad’s grandfather Abd al-Mutallib and his new wife Hala also had a son Hamza, who was Muhammad’s uncle.

AHMAD: So what’s the problem with that?

ABUNA: The problem is that Muhammad and Hamza should be about the same age. If Hala and Amina both became pregnant soon after their marriage, Muhammad and Hamza would be the same age. If Hala became pregnant a few years later, Hamza would be younger than Muhammad. But Islamic history informs us that Hamza was older than Muhammad. In his biography of Muhammad “Uyun al-Athar”, Ibn Sayyid al-Nas wrote, “Zubayr narrated that Hamza was four years older than the Prophet. But this does not seem correct to me, because reliable hadith state that Thaybiya nursed both Hamza and the Prophet.” Ibn Sayyid concluded that Hamza was two years older than Muhamad, rather than four years as Zubayr claimed. He finished by saying, as they always say about matters that are in doubt, “Only God knows.”

In his book “Finding the Truth in Judging the Companions”, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani writes that Hamza was born two to four years before Muhammad. Ibn Sad says in “The Book of the Major Classes” that Hamza was killed at the Battle of Uhud when he was 59 years old. Ibn Sad adds that Hamza was four years older than the Prophet of God, and he was killed when Washi Ibn al-Harb pierced his stomach.

AHMAD: How old was Muhammad at the Battle of Uhud?

ABUNA: The encyclopedia “Dairat al-Maarif al-Islamiyah” says Muhammad was born in 570 AD. It also says the Battle of Uhud took place three years after the emigration from Mecca to Medina in 622, which means the battle occurred in 625. So Muhammad was 55 years old when Hamza died at the age of 59.

AHMAD: So Hamza was four years older than his nephew Muhammad. What’s so important about that?

ABUNA: It’s important because of the question that I am going to ask. I challenge Shaykh Tantawi of Al-Azhar University, and Shaykh Qardawi and Shaykh Beblawi and all the other famous Shaykhs to answer this question. If Abdallah and his father Abd al-Mutallib both got married on the same day and Abdallah died a few months later, how could Hamza be four years older than Muhammad? To put my question even more clearly another way, “Who was the father of Muhammad if he was born four years after Abdallah died?”

AHMAD: My goodness! If there was doubt about the genealogy of Muhammad, why wasn’t it mentioned in the history books?

ABUNA: It was mentioned; who said it wasn’t? Ibn Kathir states in his book “The Beginning and the End” that men from the Beni Kindah tribe claimed that Muhammad was one of them.

AHMAD: Who are the Beni Kindah?

ABUNA: One of the Arab tribes of the time, but not the Beni Hashim tribe that Muslims believe Muhammad is descended from. In his book “Dalail al-Nubuwwah”, Abu Naim al-Isbahani wrote that Ibn Abbas told Muhammad that the Quraysh were talking about their ancestors and described Muhammad as “a palm tree growing on the hillside”. When Muhammad heard that, he became angry.

AHMAD: What does that mean, a palm tree growing on the hillside?

ABUNA: It means they were saying Muhammad was not a palm tree they had planted, he was just a tree growing by itself. No-one knew who planted it or put it there. Muhammad understood what they were saying, and that is why he became angry. Abu Naim al-Isbahani went on to say that Ibn Abbas told Muhammad, “When the Quraysh meet each other, they give each other big smiles. But when they meet us, they mock us and say they don’t know where our Prophet came from.” Muhammad became very angry when he heard that.

Some researchers have interpreted this to mean that the men of Beni Kindah knew that Muhammad was from their tribe, not from the Beni Hashim, and that Muhammad admitted that. They also said that the statement that Muhammad was “a palm tree growing on the hillside” meant that he had no known ancestry. It’s all written in the history books.

AHMAD: Those are hard and hurtful words. Why don’t the Islamic scholars come on television and explain them to us?

ABUNA: That’s why I’m bringing it up, so they can explain it to us and tell us what is right and what is wrong. And so that Muslims will not be blinded by not knowing the facts because no one will explain it to them. What makes the situation even more interesting is the biography of Muhammad, “Al –Sirah Al-Halabiyah”, by Imam Ali Burhan al-Din al-Halabi in which he writes that the mother of Muhammad commented that her pregnancy with Muhammad was easier than any other pregnancy.

AHMAD: Does that mean she was pregnant before she had Muhammad?

ABUNA: That’s the big question. The same thing is repeated in “The Beginning and the End” by Ibn Kathir, and “Al-Khasas al-Kubra” by Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti and many of the well-known hadith. It is often repeated that she said when she became pregnant with Muhammad it was easier than any other pregnancy. Should this be interpreted to mean she had been pregnant before?

AHMAD: How could Abd al-Mutallib accept that his son marry her if that was the case?

ABUNA: This was in the time of jahiliyah (before Islam). That is when Abd al-Mutallib lived. It was not a problem in those days for a woman to have sexual relations with more than one man. “Al –Sirah Al-Halabiyah” recounts that Amr Ibn al-As in Mecca did not know who his father was, because four men had a sexual relationship with his mother. When he asked his mother who his father was, she chose al-As and Amr Ibn al-As considered him to be his father. This is all in the history books of Islam.

AHMAD: Someone wrote about that and was convicted of “takfir” (becoming an unbeliever. What do you say about that?

ABUNA: It’s true; an Egyptian scholar wrote about it, and was convicted of takfir even though he is a famous writer. I always say the truth is bitter. It’s like when everyone knows how bad a man is treating his wife, but if you go and talk to him about it, he kills you.

AHMAD: You said that it was common in the jahiliyah for a woman to have a sexual relationship with more than one man. Are there other things from the jahiliyah that factor in here?

ABUNA: Yes, it was also common for a man who was unable to impregnate his wife to send her to another man. When she became pregnant, she would return to her husband.

AHMAD: Has that practice stopped, or does it still exist in Islam?

ABUNA: One other practice in the jahiliyah was that when people made the pilgrimage they would often have communal marriages. None of these things were a problem at that time. Did this continue into Islam? Malik relates a hadith that a woman remarried 14 months after the death of her husband and then gave birth to a child four months later. When Umar Ibn al-Khattab heard about this, he asked the people what should be done. They told him this was not a problem, because it was possible she had become pregnant from her first husband and the fetus had solidified after his death until the sperm of her second husband reactivated the life of the fetus. This was their way of justifying her giving birth four months after her marriage. There are many strange stories like that. But the important thing for our purposes is that Abd al-Mutallib, in the days of jahaliya, would not have a problem with Amina not being a virgin when she married his son.

AHMAD: How have the Muslim scholars dealt with the issue of Hamza being four years older than Muhammad?

ABUNA: Many of them have claimed that a pregnancy of four years is no problem. "Al-Sirah Al-Halabiyah” says that Malik and Dahak Ibn al-Muzaim both remained in the wombs of their mothers for two years. The “Muhadarat” of Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti states that another person was in his mother’s womb for three years. The Imam of Cordoba, Ibn al-Arabiya, wrote that if a fetus could remain in his mother’s womb for five years, it could also remain for ten years or more. We discussed in a previous program the event in the Islamic history books when a child emerged from his mother’s womb after ten years knowing how to speak. Can any Muslim in the 21st century believe that a child could remain in the womb of his mother for four years? Can they bring one example from medical history? I would like to address this question specifically to the medical college of Al Azhar University. Can you find one example in history? I urge you to do your research, and come tell us.

And I have another question. If Muhammad was the first of God’s creation, why could God not cause him to have a normal birth, or a birth accompanied by miracles such as the birth of Jesus? Was his being born after remaining in the womb of his mother four years a miracle from God? I want people to think and ask themselves if the Muhammad whom they follow was the son of Abdallah. This is the question I ask the scholars of religion and the Ulema and the Shaykhs.

AHMAD: And what is your conclusion?

ABUNA: I am not a Muslim scholar. I am simply an observer asking a question.

* * * * * * * *
And asking that question was enough to have a 60 million dollar bounty put on his head. It’s small wonder that our government, academics, and media are frightened to criticize Islam.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Who was the Father of Muhammad?

Coptic Priest Father (Abuna) Zakariya Boutros has millions of Arab Muslim listeners who tune in to the Al-Hayat (Life) TV channel to watch his discussion of Muhammad, the Quran, and Islam. Below is a summary of a recent program in which he presented evidence from Islamic sources that Abdallah, traditionally believed to be the father of Muhammad, might not have been his real father. As a result of this program, Islamic scholars in Egypt brought a lawsuit against Zakariya alleging that he claimed that Muhammad was born out of wedlock. As Zakariya himself often states, he uses only authentic Islamic sources to raise the questions he discusses on his program.

ABUNA: Our host today is Sayf from Morocco, who was a Muslim and is now a Christian. Could you tell us how you left Islam to become a Christian?

SAYF: At one stage of my life as a Muslim, I was very religious. I would not allow music in my house or greet a woman. But as I studied the Quran and the Sunnah, I became aware of the many contradictions there. I then began to read the Bible, even though as a Muslim I believed that it was corrupted. I began to see the differences between it and the Quran. For example, the last of the Ten Commandments says that one should not desire his neighbor’s wife. But sura 33 of the Quran tells of Muhammad’s desire for Zaynab, the wife of his adopted son Zayd, and how he persuaded Zayd to divorce her so that he could marry her. I then had personal experiences that convinced me that Jesus was with me and I began to follow him. But as the host of today’s program, let’s begin with our subject, which is a comparison of the births of Muhammad and Jesus from Islamic sources.

ABUNA: Muslims believe the father of Muhammad was Abdallah and his mother was Amina. When Muhammad’s grandfather, Abd al-Mutallib, went to arrange the marriage of his son Abdallah to Amina, he saw a woman that he liked and asked for her hand as well. The marriage of Abdallah and his father Abd al-Mutallib took place the same day. Abdallah’s wife Amina immediately became pregnant, and Abdallah died several months later. But the son of Abd al-Mutallib and his new wife, Muhammad’s uncle Hamza, was four years older than Muhammad. If both wives became pregnant at the same time, Muhammad and Hamza would be the same age. If Abd al-Mutallib’s new wife became pregnant later, Hamza would be younger than Muhammad. So the question is, “Was Abdallah really the father of Muhammad, or was Muhammad conceived some years after Abdallah’s death?”

SAYF: Is there an Islamic source dealing with this question?

ABUNA: There are many sources, one of which is the book “Finding the Truth in Judging the Companions”, by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani. He writes that Hamza was four years older than Muhammad, and that some explain this by saying that Amina’s pregnancy with Muhammad lasted four years. Others say this is related to the reason Gabriel told Muhammad many years later he could not pray at the grave of his mother. In his book, “The Scattered Pearls; Intertextual Exegesis”, Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti suggests that the statement of Gabriel is perhaps because Muhammad was born several years after the death of his father.

SAYF: Are there miracles associated with Amina’s pregnancy and Muhammad’s birth in Islamic sources?

ABUNA: Yes indeed. In “The Book of the Major Classes”, historian Ibn Sa’d writes that during her pregnancy a light shone from Amina’s womb that was seen in the palaces of Busra in Syria.

SAYF: Why did he mention Busra in particular? Why not just Syria or the palaces there?

ABUNA: That is a good observation. Shaykh Khalil Abd al-Karim commented in his book, “The Preparation Period of the Honest One” that this was to show the relationship between Amina and the Christian monk Buhira in Busra who later declared that he saw in Muhammad the physical characteristics of a prophet.

SAYF: What is your comment on this alleged shining light?

ABUNA: They say this light shone both when she was pregnant, and when she gave birth to Muhammad. My question is, if this really happened why did Amina die an unbeliever, and why did she not even want to see Muhammad after his birth as we have explained in previous episodes. I believe this supposed light is just a fable with no basis in fact.

SAYF: In comparison, what does the Quran say about the birth of Jesus?

ABUNA: The Quran says that the method of the birth of Jesus surpassed the birth of all other people, including Muhammad. In sura 19:20 Mary stated that she was a virgin. In his explanation of his verse, Ibn Kathir noted that she did not have a husband. The Quran says in 4:171 that Jesus was conceived by the spirit of God.

SAYF: Does the Quran mention miracles that accompanied the birth of Jesus?

ABUNA: Yes, indeed. As Christians, we do not believe them, but they are mentioned in the Quran. Sura 19:24, 25 says that Jesus informed Mary as a newborn or perhaps even from the womb that God would provide food and water for her when she was hungry and thirsty. In 19:30, Jesus spoke from the cradle to the relatives of Mary. Did the Quran say anything like this about the birth of Muhammad? His name is not even mentioned in the suras of Mecca. There is no mention of who he is, or where he came from.

SAYF: Why does the Bible place such emphasis on the events that surrounded the birth of Jesus?

ABUNA: It was to show the glory of God, with the message of peace on earth. I Timothy 3:16 says that the great mystery of our faith is that God appeared in the flesh. Did anything like this happen in the life of Muhammad?

SAYF: Muslims often ask how God could possibly appear in physical form.

ABUNA: The Quran says in 7:143 that God appeared in physical form to the mountain. Three other suras repeat that God appeared in the burning bush that spoke to Moses. If Muslims believe that God appeared in a mountain or in a bush, why do they find it hard to believe that God appeared in a person? God is able to do all things, and surely a person is of higher value than a bush or a mountain.

SAYF: Have Muslim scholars written about the possibility of God appearing in human form?

ABUNA: Yes, indeed. In the book “Al-Milal wa Al-Nahal”, al-Shahristani writes, “The appearance of the divine in the body of a human is not something that is illogical.” Shaykh Abu al-Fadhil al-Qurashi in his book about the exigesis of Imam al-Baydawi writes, “They say that the glory of the divine appeared in the person of the Christ. We cannot say that those who believe this are infidels, because God is great.”

SAYF: In summary, what are the most important differences between the births of Muhammad and Jesus?

ABUNA: The most important thing is that Muhammad was only a person born from a human father and mother. The Quran says nothing about Muhammad having a miraculous birth. There were no angels announcing his birth, and he was not “the word of God” or born by “the spirit of God”, as the Quran describes Jesus. He himself said in Quran 18:110, “I am only a man like you are.” The Quran describes Jesus as the word of God, born to a virgin by the spirit of God. Which is better? Which one should you follow?

QUESTIONER: Why do you use the Quran to try to prove that Jesus is the son of God?

ABUNA: I do not believe in the Quran, but you do. If I used the Bible, you would say the Bible has been corrupted. Just as a court listens to the testimony of the accused and judges him based on his own words, we use the Quran to draw our conclusions.