The Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa)

Friday Sermon Summary 6th October 2023: ‘Life of the Holy Prophet (sa) – Two Fabricated Incidents’

After reciting Tashahhud, Ta‘awwuz and Surah al-Fatihah, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) said that he has been mentioning narrations in the previous sermon pertaining to the killing of Asma, and His Holiness (aba) had said there was also a second fabricated incident. The second fabricated incident is the killing of the Jewish man Abu Afak.

His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad

Alleged Assassination of Abu Afak

His Holiness (aba) said that the supposed incident is that the Holy Prophet (sa) asked his Companions who from among them would take the life of Abu Afak. He was an elderly man, reported to be 120 years old, who would mock the Holy Prophet (sa) in his poetry. Hazrat Salim bin Umair (ra), who had also participated in the Battle of Badr, stood up upon this question of the Holy Prophet (sa) and said that either he would take Abu Afak’s life or lose his own in this endeavour. One night, Hazrat Salim (ra) learned that Abu Afak was sleeping in the courtyard of his home owing to the heat and so he went there and took Abu Afak’s life. This is the supposed incident according to one book of history. 

His Holiness (aba) said that this incident is not substantiated by any authentic source, nor is it mentioned in any of the six authentic books of traditions (Sihah-e-Sittah). It has been mentioned in some books of history, however, most authentic books of history have not mentioned this incident. 

Discrepancies in the Various Accounts

His Holiness (aba) said that there are various factors pertaining to the incident itself that also prove its inauthenticity. For example, there are discrepancies in various accounts as to who the killer actually was. Some say that it was Salim bin Umair, and others say it was Salim bin Umar, or Salim bin Abdillah bin Thabit Ansari. Furthermore, there are also discrepancies as to the reason for this killing; some say that Salim became impassioned and killed him, some say it was due to the difference in religion, while some assert that it was commanded by the Holy Prophet (sa). Furthermore, there are differences of opinion regarding when this incident would have taken place. Had this incident truly taken place, then there would have been some record of retaliation by the Jewish people, however, no such instance is found. These factors clearly show that this is a fabricated incident. 

His Holiness (aba) quoted Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad (ra), who writes about the fabricated incidents:

‘After the events of the Battle of Badr, Waqidi and other historians have written two incidents, which are nowhere to be found among the books of Ahadith and authentic historical records. Even if a person contemplates in terms of Dirayat, they do not prove to be correct. However, since they furnish an apparent means for levelling an allegation against the Holy Prophet (sa), various Christian historians, as per their habit, have alluded to these instances in a very unpleasant manner. The first of these fabricated incidents relates to a lady named ‘Asma’ who used to reside in Madinah and was a staunch enemy of Islam. She would speak ill of the Holy Prophet (sa) and would greatly incite people against the Holy Prophet (sa) through her provocative couplets, and would inflame people to murder the Holy Prophet (sa). Finally, in his rage, a blind companion named ‘Umair bin ‘Adiyy killed her whilst she was in her home at night, during her sleep. When the Holy Prophet (sa) was informed of this occurrence, the Holy Prophet (sa) did not reprimand him; rather, in a way, he even commended the action. 

The second incident which has been mentioned is that of an elderly Jewish man named Abu ‘Afak, who lived in Madinah. This person would also recite provocative couplets against the Holy Prophet (sa) and would incite the disbelievers to wage war against the Holy Prophet (sa) and assassinate him. Eventually, he too was killed by a Companion named Salim bin ‘Umair in his fury, during the night, whilst he was in the veranda of his own home.

Waqidi and Ibni Hisham have even written some of the provocative couplets which ‘Asma’ and Abu ‘Afak had composed against the Holy Prophet (sa). Sir William Muir and others have embellished their books with these two incidents in a very unpleasant manner. However, the truth is that in the face of scrutiny and criticism, these incidents cannot even be proven to have occurred at all. The first argument, which puts the authenticity of these two incidents into question is that they are nowhere to be found among the books of Ahadith. In other words, there is not a single Hadith in which an occurrence of this nature has been related, along with the names of the assassin or victim. 

As a matter of fact, putting the Ahadith to one side, even various historians have not alluded to these incidents; whereas if incidents of this nature had actually taken place, there was no reason for the books of Ahadith and various books of history to be empty of their mention. At this instance, it cannot be speculated that since an allegation fell upon the Holy Prophet (sa) and his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them), the Muhaddithin and various historians probably omitted these occurrences. The reason being that firstly, the circumstances in which these occurrences took place are not objectionable. Secondly, any individual who possesses even an elementary study of the Ahadith and history cannot be oblivious to the fact that the Muslim Muhaddithin and historians have never omitted a narration merely on the basis that it may apparently seem to raise an objection against Islām or the Founder of Islām. Their sure practice was that they would never be reluctant at all in relating whatever they found to be authentic in terms of Riwayat, merely due to its subject matter. As a matter of fact, the practice of some Muhaddithin and most historians was that they would honestly include within their collections any narration at all which reached them regarding the Holy Prophet (sa) and his Companions (may Allāh be pleased with them), even if it was weak and unreliable, both in terms of Riwayat and Dirayat. They would then leave it to the judgement of theologians and research scholars of later times to distinguish between authentic and weak narrations for themselves. Moreover, in doing so their intention was that anything at all which was attributed to the Holy Prophet (sa) and his Companions, whether it seemed to be true or false, should not be omitted from inclusion. It is for this reason that all kinds of reliable and unreliable narrations have been gathered in the early works of history. However, this does not mean that all of it is acceptable, rather, now it is our work to differentiate between the weak and authentic. In any case, there is not even an iota of doubt that any Muslim Muhaddith or historian ever disregarded a narration merely on the basis that apparently it seemed at odds with the greatness of the Holy Prophet (sa) or his Companions, or because an allegation fell upon the Holy Prophet (sa) or Islam as a result. As such, the executions of Ka‘b bin Ashraf and Abu Rafi‘, the Jew, which completely resemble the so-called incidents of ‘Asma’ and Abu ‘Afak, and which shall be mentioned ahead at their appropriate places, have been mentioned in all the books of Ahadith and history with full clarity and detail, and no Muslim narrator, Muhaddith or historian has neglected to mention them. In these circumstances, since the execution of ‘Asma’ and Abu ‘Afak, the Jew, have not been mentioned in any Hadith, and then, the various historians from among the early historians are also silent with regards to this issue, it is almost clearly established that these are fabricated tales which have somehow found way into various narrations, and thus become a part of history. Then, if one studies the details of these tales, their fabricated nature becomes even more evident. For example, in the tale of ‘Asma’ the name of the assassin as related by Ibni Sa‘d and others is ‘Umair bin ‘Adiyy. However, in contrast, the name of the assassin as related by Ibni Duraid is not ‘Umair bin ‘Adiyy, rather, the name is Ghashmir. Suhaili declares both of these names as being incorrect and asserts that in actuality, ‘Asma’ was killed by her own husband, whose name has been related as Yazid bin Zaid in various narrations. Then in other narrations it is related that none of the above mentioned people killed ‘Asma’, rather, the assassin was an anonymous person who belonged to her own people. Ibni Sa‘d and others have named the victim as being ‘Asma’ bint Marwan, but there is a statement of ‘Allamah Abdul-Barr that she was not ‘Asma’ bint Marwan, but in fact, ‘Umair killed his own sister whose name was Binti ‘Adiyy. Ibni Sa‘d has written that the killing took place in the middle part of the night. However, the narration of Zarqani establishes that the account took place during the day, or at most, in the early part of the night, because the narration mentions that at the time, the victim was selling dates.

The second incident is the execution of Abu ‘Afak. For this occurrence, Ibni Sa‘d, Waqidi and others have written that the assassin’s name was Salim bin ‘Umair. However, in some narrations, his name has been recorded as Salim bin ‘Amr, while Ibni ‘Aqabah has mentioned the name Salim bin ‘Abdullah. Similarly, with respect to the victim Abu ‘Afak, Ibni Sa‘d has written that he was a Jew, while Waqidi has not described him as such. Then it is ascertained from both Ibni Sa‘d and Waqidi that Salim killed Abu ‘Afak out of anger by his own accord. However, in one narration it has been related that he was executed upon the instruction of the Holy Prophet (sa). Even with respect to the time of the execution, Ibni Sa‘d and Waqidi place it after the execution of ‘Asma’. However, Ibni Ishaq and Abur-Rabi‘ state that it occurred prior to the execution of ‘Asma’. All of these contradictions result in the strong doubt that these tales are fabricated and false, or if there is some truth in them, it is so obscure that a statement cannot be passed with respect to its details and nature.

Another argument which establishes these incidents as being false, is that the era in which both these tales are said to have taken place, is one with respect to which all historians are unanimous that until that time, no confrontation or dispute had yet arisen between the Muslims and Jews. History establishes that the Ghazwah of Banu Qainuqa’, was the very first battle, which took place between the Muslims and Jews, and that the Jews of Banu Qainuqa’ were the first ones to practically step forward in their enmity towards Islām. How then can it be accepted that prior to this Ghazwah, such killing and bloodshed had taken place between the Jews and Muslims? Furthermore, if such events had in fact transpired prior to the Ghazwah of Banu Qainuqa’, then it was impossible for them to not have been listed among the factors, etc., leading up to this Ghazwah. In the least, the Jewish people, who could have capitalized on an apparent opportunity to raise an allegation against the Muslims on the basis of these events, that it was the Muslims who initially provoked physical conflict, would have raised an outcry over these incidents. Yet, in no historical record, and even in the works of those historians who have transmitted these tales, there is absolutely no mention whatsoever that the Jews of Madinah ever raised such an allegation. If someone believes that perhaps they did raise an objection, but Muslim historians conveniently omitted it, then this would be an erroneous and baseless notion. For as already mentioned, no Muslim Muhaddith or historian has ever placed a veil upon any allegation levelled by an opponent. For example, in the incident of the Sariyyah of Nakhlah, when the idolators of Makkah raised an objection against the Muslims for dishonouring the sacred months, Muslim historians recorded this allegation in their books with unprecedented integrity. Hence, if any such allegation had been raised by the Jews on this occasion, historical records would not have been empty of its mention. Therefore, these tales do not prove to be correct from any perspective of analysis. It seems as if a hidden enemy of Islām either related these tales, whilst attributing them to some Muslim, and then they found way of inclusion in the narrations of the Muslims; or perhaps a weak Muslim included these narrations into the historical record in order to attribute the false pride towards his own tribe that such men as were related to him killed various harmful disbelievers; and Allah knows best.

This is the actual reality which is ascertained with respect to these incidents. However, as we have indicated above, even if these occurrences were true, they cannot be considered objectionable under the circumstances in which they took place. In those days, the vulnerable state with which the Muslims were confronted, has already been described above. Their state was exactly like that of a person who becomes surrounded in such a place which is engulfed by a dangerously blazing fire on all four sides to as far as one can see, and he has no place of escape; and such people are standing beside him which are thirsty for his blood. In this extremely vulnerable state of the Muslims, if an evil and mischievous person incites people against their Master and Chief by reciting provocative couplets and provokes his enemies to assassinate him, what other solution could there have been in the circumstances of that era, except for putting an end to such a person? Then, this action was performed by the Muslims only in a state of extreme provocation – a state in which a minor killing cannot be considered enough for retribution. As such, even an individual like Mr. Margoliouth, who generally takes an opposing stance on every matter, does not hold the Muslims worthy of condemnation on account of these incidents. Hence, Mr. Margoliouth writes:

“Since, if the verses ascribed to ‘Asma be genuine, she had deliberately incited the people of Medinah to a murderous attack on the Prophet, her execution would not have been an inexcusably ruthless measure, judged by any standard; and it must not be forgotten that satire was a far more effective weapon in Arabia than elsewhere…and from the fact that only the culprit suffered, it was a decided improvement on the existing system, by which satire on an individual meant war between whole tribes. The principle that each person shall suffer for his own fault was introduced instead.”

If Mr. Margoliouth has any objection with respect to these executions, it is only with regards to the manner in which they were carried out. In other words, why were they not officially executed after the formal announcement of their crimes? The first answer to this is that even if these incidents are deemed as being true, they were the individual actions of certain Muslims themselves, which were committed by them after they had been immensely provoked. The Holy Prophet (sa) did not order these actions and this is categorically established by the record of Ibni Sa‘d. Secondly, if hypothetically, it is accepted that the Holy Prophet (sa) had ordered these actions, even still, the circumstances of that era were most definitely such, that if an official judgement had been formally passed with regards to the execution of ‘Asma’ and Abu ‘Afak, and the relatives of the criminals were to have been informed in advance that their people were to be executed, this could have entailed dangerous consequences. Furthermore, there was also strong apprehension of the fact that these incidents could have set ablaze a vast fire of war between the Muslims and Jews, and even between the Muslims and idolators of Madinah. It is strange that while Mr. Margoliouth has considered the mere action of killing to be permissible in light of the specific circumstances of Arabia at the time, why then with respect to the method of execution was his observation unable to take into account the specific circumstances of that era? In this regard as well if he had taken into account the specific circumstances of that era, perhaps he would have been convinced that the method employed was most appropriate and necessary for the circumstances of that era and in the interest of the public peace. However, God-Willing, we shall present our readers with a more detailed discussion on this issue in the account of the execution of Ka‘b bin Ashraf.

In summary, firstly, the incidents of the execution of ‘Asma’ and Abu ‘Afak, the Jew, do not even hold to be true in terms of Riwayat and Dirayat. Then, if they are hypothetically accepted as being true, they cannot be considered objectionable in light of the circumstances of that era. Then, whatever the case, maybe these killings were the individual actions of certain Muslims, which were committed by them after they had been seriously provoked, and the Holy Prophet (sa) did not issue any such order.’ 

(The Life & Character of the Seal of Prophets (sa), Vol. 2, pp. 266-273)

His Holiness (aba) said that it is a great favour of God that He has enabled us to recognise the Imam of the Age, through whose guidance we analyse all such narrations and incidents to determine their reality before mentioning them. Furthermore, we refute any allegation that may arise against the Holy Prophet (sa). His Holiness (aba) prayed that may Allah the Almighty grant understanding to such so-called scholars who bring light to such incidents only for their personal gain. They apparently say that they are serving Islam, whereas, in actuality, they defame Islam and thereby establish extremist factions. May Allah grant them understanding.

Mubarak Mosque Front

Funeral Prayers

His Holiness (aba) said that he would mention some deceased members of the Community. 

Professor Dr Nasir Ahmad Khan

Professor Dr Nasir Ahmad Khan who was also known as Perwaiz Perwazi. He recently passed away in Canada. He was born in Qadian and was the son of a missionary, Maulana Ahmad Khan Naseem. He obtained his PhD from the Punjab University. He started teaching in various government schools. He also started contributing to various literary publications. He later dedicated his life and began teaching at the Talimul Islam College in Rabwah, where he would also serve as the head of the Urdu department. He would go on to teach in Japan, where he also rendered services in helping to establish the Ahmadiyya Community in Japan. Upon returning to Pakistan, he taught in various colleges of Rabwah. However, he faced great opposition, due to which he was forced to migrate from Pakistan. He first went to the UK, and then, upon the guidance of the Fourth Caliph (rh), he went to Sweden, where he continued to teach at a college. He also served on the Nobel Prize Committee for Literature while in Sweden. He later moved to Canada. 

He is survived by his wife, two sons and three daughters. His wife attests that he was a loyal and faithful husband who took great care of his family. He would always be smiling no matter the circumstances. He had a profound love of the Caliphate. He continued writing to His Holiness (aba) until his final days. He loved the Holy Qur’an and would regularly recite an entire part of the Qur’an daily. He also instilled love for the Caliphate within his children. He exhibited to his children and grandchildren what it means to have a connection with God. Until his final moments, he continuously said Alhamdulillah (all praise belongs to Allah). His Holiness (aba) prayed that may Allah grant him forgiveness and mercy and enable his progeny to carry on the legacy of his virtues.

Sharif Ahmad Bhatti

Sharif Ahmad Bhatti son of Amir Khan Bhatti of Rabwah. He is survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters. One of his sons, Tahir Bhatti, is a missionary in Sierra Leone. Sharif Ahmad Bhatti’s father accepted Ahmadiyyat upon realising its truth when the prophecy of Lekh Ram was fulfilled. Sharif Ahmad Bhatti worked in a textile mill, and never hid the fact that he was an Ahmadi despite facing opposition. Once, someone came to him and started using abusive language for the Promised Messiah (as). The man said that only one of them would remain in the textile mill. Later, it came to be known that the man was caught stealing from the mill and was let go by the managers. He always read the Community’s literature. He would hearken to any directive of the Caliphate, especially when the Caliph would make an appeal for prayers. His Holiness (aba) prayed that may Allah grant him forgiveness and mercy and enable his progeny to carry on the legacy of his virtues.

Professor Abdul Qadir Dahri

Professor Abdul Qadir Dahri former President of Nawab Shah. He was a very courageous and sincere person. He obtained a degree in the Sindhi language, after which he started a course for the Sindhi language. He would openly declare that he was an Ahmadi and also instilled in his children to never fear open declaration that they are Ahmadi. He also had the honour of translating the Holy Qur’an into Sindhi upon the guidance of the Third Caliph (rh). He was also a member of the Fazl-e-Umar foundation. His Holiness (aba) prayed that may Allah grant him forgiveness and mercy and enable his progeny to carry on the legacy of his virtues.

Professor Dr Muhammad Sharif Khan

Professor Dr Umar Sharif Khan who passed away recently in the USA. He obtained his PhD in zoology. He then served as a professor at the Talimul Islam College. He had about 250 research papers published throughout the world. His Holiness (aba) said that he was also his student and he would take the class out to teach them about various insects, reptiles and the like. In 2002 he was awarded Zoologist of the year in Pakistan. He was very kind and humble. He treated his students and friends. Some scientists from the USA and Canada went to meet him in Pakistan and they attested that there was no one more expert than him. He was regular in offering prayers, keeping fasts and reciting the Holy Qur’an. He encouraged his children and grandchildren to focus on studies. He had a special love for the Caliphate. His Holiness (aba) prayed that may Allah grant him forgiveness and mercy and enable his progeny to carry on the legacy of his virtues.

Summary prepared by The Review of Religions