Dr. Stephen M. Kirby
In Part 2 we will learn more about Considine’s Fantasy Islam.
Let’s continue examining the creativity of Considine’s Fantasy Islam.
Muhammad’s Farewell Sermon
On p. 61 Considine lauded Muhammad’s Farewell Sermon as an example of Muhammad’s belief in racial equality:
The Farewell Sermon (see Appendix 2) of Muhammad…is another noteworthy manifestation of the Prophet’s stance on anti-racism. He stated in the sermon: “…a white person has no superiority over a black, not does a black have any superiority over white [sic]…”
The Farewell Sermon is found on pp. 125-126 of Considine’s book. Considine introduced this Sermon by writing: “Ibn Hisham offers the following version of the Sermon.” In this “version” Muhammad reportedly stated that a white has no superiority over a black and a black has no superiority over a white.
Ibn Hisham had written a biography of Muhammad titled Sirat Ibn Hisham, Biography of the Prophet. Ibn Hisham reported what Muhammad said in the Farewell Sermon on pp. 270-272 of that biography. In ibn Hisham’s report Muhammad said nothing about white and black superiority. Ibn Hisham had also edited the classic biography of Muhammad by ibn Ishaq: The Life of Muhammad: Sirat Rasul Allah. This classic work reported on Muhammad’s Farewell Pilgrimage, during which he gave his Farewell Sermon, on pp. 649-652; again there is no mention of Muhammad having talked about white and black superiority during this pilgrimage.
Since Considine provided no source information for the version of Muhammad’s Farewell Sermon in his book (other than simply stating it was ibn Hisham’s “version”) one can only wonder where Considine found it.
Did Muhammad really make such a statement about whites and blacks? Considine recently wrote an article based on this putative statement of Muhammad: Who Is the First Anti-Racist in Human History? Considine identified Muhammad as the “first anti-racist” based on this statement. I responded by writing an article showing that this statement is found in only one source, and taking into consideration the complete statement, with the proper wording, Muhammad’s statement had nothing to do with racism; Muhammad was simply dividing the world into Muslims and doomed evildoers.
Muhammad went to Medina to mediate disputes?
On p. 50 Considine wrote that one of the reasons Muhammad and the Muslims emigrated to Medina was because the tribes of Medina wanted Muhammad “to mediate the various disputes between the clans and diverse people from which the city suffered.” However, the reality is completely different.
Beginning around 614 Muhammad had made it a regular practice to approach the members of Arab tribes coming to Mecca during the pilgrimage season, or for fairs, and to preach to them about Islam. But as the years went by he had no success.
However, that changed in 620 when Muhammad met with a group of six Arab men on pilgrimage from Medina; these men were from the Khazraj tribe and they accepted Islam. Did they accept Islam because they wanted Muhammad to come to Medina to mediate disputes? No. They accepted Islam due to threats from the Jews in Medina. The noted Muslim historian al-Tabari (839-923) explained it this way:
One of the things which God had done for them [the Khazraj] in order to prepare them for Islam was that the Jews lived with them in their land. The Jews were people of scripture and knowledge, while the Khazraj were polytheists and idolaters. They had gained the mastery over the Jews in their land, and whenever any dispute arose among them the Jews would say to them, “A prophet will be sent soon. His time is at hand. We shall follow him, and with him as our leader we shall kill you as ‘Ad and Iram were killed.” When the Messenger of God spoke to this group of people [the Khazraj] and called them to God, they said to one another, “Take note! This, by God, is the prophet with whom the Jews are menacing you. Do not let them be before you in accepting him.”
So these six accepted Islam because they believed that Muhammad was the prophet with which the Jews had been threatening them. These six men of the Khajraz wanted to be the first to join with that prophet.
These six new Muslims returned to Medina and started converting others to Islam; the Muslims in Medina became known as the Ansar [Helpers]
Groups of the Ansar came to Mecca and met with Muhammad in 621 and again in 622. In that second meeting the Ansar took an oath of allegiance to Muhammad. This oath of allegiance included a pledge to wage war against all of mankind:
When they gathered to take the oath of allegiance to the Messenger of God, al-‘Abbas b. ‘Ubadah b. Nadlah al-Ansari…said, “People of the Khazraj, do you know what you are pledging yourselves to in swearing allegiance to this man?” “Yes,” they said. He continued, “In swearing allegiance to him you are pledging yourselves to wage war against all mankind.”
This oath of allegiance also meant that the Ansar would have to sever their ties with the Jews of Medina. One of the Ansar said to Muhammad:
“O Messenger of God, there are ties between us and other people which we shall have to sever (meaning the Jews). If we do this and God gives you victory, will you perhaps return to your own people and leave us?” The Messenger of God smiled and then said, “Rather, blood is blood, and blood shed without retaliation is blood shed without retaliation. You are of me and I am of you. I shall fight whomever you fight and make peace with whomever you make peace with.”
Considine needed only to consult the works of authoritative Muslim scholars to know that the idea that Muhammad was invited to Medina to mediate disputes was a myth.
The Golden Rule
On p. 98 Considine wrote that:
Jesus and Muhammad were kindred spirits who followed the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule is the principle that “we should treat others as we would have them treat us.”
This is a glaring example of Considine’s Fantasy Islam. The only way someone could make this claim is by totally ignoring the commands of Allah in the Koran and the teachings and example of Muhammad. In other words, Considine has ignored Islam and appears to hope that his readers have virtually no knowledge about Islam.
For details about the baselessness of this claim about Muhammad following The Golden Rule, see my brochure Does Islam Have a Golden Rule?
Islam was not spread by the sword
On pp. 105-106 Considine maintained that Islam was not spread at the point of a sword, and he used quotes from two non-Muslims (Hugh Kennedy and Mohandas Gandhi) to support this claim. Considine used this quote from Gandhi:
“…it was not the sword that won a place for Islam…It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet, the scrupulous regard for pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every obstacle.”
Considine listed the source for this quote in Endnote 61 on p. 159 of his book: “This Gandhi quote was cited in a statement that he published in Young India in 1924.” From an academic standpoint this is an insufficient endnote; however, for those interested this quote can be found in The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi.
Considine relied on quotes from two non-Muslims to claim that Islam was not spread by the sword. The reality of how Islam was spread is summarized in the writings of two authoritative Muslim scholars:
At-Tamimi: He [Muhammad] continued for more than ten years warning them by preaching, without fighting and without imposing the Jizyah and Allah commanded him to be forbearing and to patiently persevere. Then He [Allah] allowed him to migrate (Hijrah) to Al-Madinah and He permitted him to fight. Then He commanded him to fight those who fought against him. Then He commanded him to fight the polytheists until all and every kind of worship is for Allah (Alone).
Ibn Kathir: Allah’s Messenger remained in Makkah for thirteen years. During that time, the revelation continued being sent to him…When the evidence was established against those who defied the Messenger, Allah decreed the Hijrah. Then he ordered the believers to fight the disbelievers using swords, using them to strike the necks and foreheads of those who opposed, rejected and denied the Qur’an.
For a detailed examination of how Muhammad spread Islam across the Arabian Peninsula at the point of the sword, see my book, Islam’s Militant Prophet: Muhammad and Forced Conversions to Islam.
Considine had to go to the extent of ignoring the writings of authoritative Muslim scholars and the history of Islam, and instead going with selected writings from two non-Muslims to maintain his claim that Islam was not spread at the point of the sword.
Taking Koran Verses out of Context
On p. 25 Considine wrote:
Islamophobes…tend to take Qur’anic passages out of context to claim that Muhammad persecuted the Christians in his midst.
The irony is that Considine took Koran verses out of context himself. On p. 31 he quoted Koran verses 3:113-115 and 3:199 and claimed these verses “speak of Jews and Christians in a warm light.” When one reads the Koran commentaries, one finds that the “warm” words in these Koran verses are only talking about Jews and Christians who converted to Islam, not about Jews and Christians in general. On p. 42 he quoted Koran 2:62 to claim that if Christians “display faith, piety, and good actions” they will get their reward in Heaven. But according to Koran commentaries, 2:62 pertained to good actions by non-Muslims that occurred before the advent of Islam; after the advent of Islam, people needed to believe in Islam to receive their rewards. And 2:26 had actually been abrogated by 3:85 which proclaimed that Islam was the only acceptable religion. On pp. 23 and 54 he referred to Koran 49:13 which he claimed showed Islam was “fundamentally rooted in mercy, compassion…” and that all people are equal members of society; in reality 49:13 states that Muslims were the most honorable of people.
On pp. 23 and 53 Considine referred to Koran 2:256 (“no compulsion in religion”) to prove that Islam advocates freedom of religion. However, as I showed in my book Islam’s Militant Prophet: Muhammad and Forced Conversions to Islam, Koran 2:256 had doctrinal authority only from August 625 to December 627. After that, forced conversions to Islam or payment of the jizyah became the norm (unless one wanted to fight to the death).
It is interesting that Considine criticized “Islamophobes” for taking Koran verses out of context, because he frequently referred to Koran verses and explained their meanings himself, giving no indication that he had consulted any Koran commentaries. And there were no such commentaries listed in his Bibliography. Considine simply provided the contexts/meanings of the Koran verses that fit his narrative, while criticizing those he claimed did the same thing.
On to Part 3, our final look at Considine’s Fantasy Islam!
Dr. Stephen M. Kirby is the author of six books about Islam. His latest book is Islamic Doctrine versus the U.S. Constitution: The Dilemma for Muslim Public Officials.