Did Muhammad Respect the Holiness of the Ka'ba?
02 Mar, 2009
What would you think about one of the holiest men of our time if
he committed a bloody murder in the holiest of temples? What would
you think of mother Teresa if, before she died, killed a poor man
right in her main headquarter in India? What would you think if one
of the holiest and wisest of Swamis and Gurus commits a murder in
his own home? What would you think of the Pope if he committed a
murder in his own Cathedral in Rome? And, what if the crime was for
no good reason at all. Let us say that one of the bishops in Rome
left the faith and became an atheist. Is that a good reason for the
Pope to order one of his followers to kill the apostate bishop even
if he was holding to the curtains where the pictures of Jesus and
Mary are displayed in their utmost light? I am sure that any reader
capable of doing some thinking will say that the Pope is never
justified in committing such a crime. Good answer.
Now, let us go to the prophet of Islam (PBUH) and see what he did
when he entered Mecca, victorious, with his three thousand strong
men. I present the reader a collection of hadiths, and some quotes,
about Ibn Khatal. The hadiths and quotes are all from very reliable
Islamic sources. So, there is no doubt that the story of Ibn Khatal
did in fact happen in a , pretty much, sequence of events as we will
Who was Ibn Khatal?
He was a Muslim at one time, then apostasised. Please note that the apostle of Allah (PBUH) ordered him killed because of his apostasy, not because he (Ibn Khatal) killed a freed slave working for him. Such slaves were not considered as equals to free people..
Also, note that he had two singing girls who sang satire about
the prophet (now that would have been really fun to hear!!).
"Another [to be killed] was Abdullah Khatal of B. Taym b. Ghalib. He had become a Muslim and the apostle sent him to collect the poor tax in company with one of the Ansar. He had with him a freed slave who served him. (He was Muslim). When they halted he ordered the latter to kill a goat for him and prepare some food, and went to sleep. When he woke up the man had done nothing, so he attacked and killed him and apostatized. He had two singing-girls Fartana and her friend who used to sing satirical songs about the apostle, so he ordered that they should be killed with him." (the Sirat, p. 550)
The Prophet ordered Ibn Khatal killed
Tabaqat Ibn Sa'ad - Vol 2. - p.168
"The apostle of Allah entered through Adhakhir, [into Mecca], and prohibited fighting. He ordered six men and four women to be killed, they were (1) Ikrimah Ibn Abi Jahl, (2) Habbar Ibn al-Aswad, (3) Abd Allah Ibn Sa'd Ibn Abi Sarh, (4) Miqyas Ibn Sababah al-Laythi, (5) al-Huwayrith Ibn Nuqaydh, (6) Abd Abbah Ibn Hilal Ibn Khatal al-Adrami, (7) Hind Bint Utbah, (8) Sarah, the mawlat (enfranchised girl) of Amr Ibn Hashim, (9) Fartana and (10) Qaribah. ("Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir" by Ibn Sa'd, Vol. 2, p.168)
How was Ibn Khatal to be killed?
Also on pages 172 and 173 in Ibn Sa'd's Tabaqat:
"The apostle of Allah entered Makkah in the year of victory and on his head there was a helmet. Then he removed it. Ma'n and Musa Ibn Dawud said in their version: A person came to him and said, "O apostle of Allah! Ibn Khatal is holding fast the curtains of al-Kabah. Thereupon the apostle of Allah said: "Kill him."
"....kill him wherever you find him"
Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 29, Number 72:
Narrated Anas bin Malik:
Allah's Apostle entered Mecca in the year of its Conquest wearing an Arabian helmet on his head and when the Prophet took it off, a person came and said, "Ibn Khatal is holding the covering of the Ka'ba (taking refuge in the Ka'ba)." The Prophet said, "Kill him."
Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 582:
Narrated Anas bin Malik:
On the day of the Conquest, the Prophet entered Mecca, wearing a helmet on his head. When he took it off, a man came and said, "Ibn Khatal is clinging to the curtain of the Ka'ba." The Prophet said, "Kill him." (Malik a sub-narrator said, "On that day the Prophet was not in a state of Ihram as it appeared to us, and Allah knows better.")
Muslim, Book 007, Number 3145:
Anas b. Malik (Allah be pleased with them) reported that Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) entered Mecca in the Year of Victory with a helmet on his head; and when he took it off, a man came to him and said: Ibn Khatal is hanging on to the curtains of the Ka'ba, whereupon he said: Kill him. Malik (one of the narrators) attested this statement having been made.
Muwatta' Malik, Book 20, Number 20.76.256:
Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab from Anas ibn Malik that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, entered Makka, in the Year of Victory, wearing a helmet, and when he took it off a man came to him and said, "Messenger of Allah, Ibn Khatal is clinging to the covers of the Kaba,'' and the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Kill him."
Malik commented, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was not in ihram at the time, and Allah knows best."
The Sirat, p. 550:
"Another [to be killed] was Abdullah Khatal of B. Taym b. Ghalib. He had become a Muslim and the apostle sent him to collect the poor tax in company with one of the Ansar. He had with him a freed slave who served him. (He was Muslim). When they halted he ordered the latter to kill a goat for him and prepare some food, and went to sleep. When he woke up the man had done nothing, so he attacked and killed him and apostatized. He had two singing-girls Fartana and her friend who used to sing satirical songs about the apostle, so he ordered that they should be killed with him."
So, it seems that the holy prophet of Islam ordered the killing
of an apostate. This apostate went to the holiest of places in the
holiest place in Mecca at the time. This action did not save him.
Muhammad was ruthless, and did not respect the presencee of this man
in the Ka'ba. I wonder if Muslim apologetics even think of “What
Ifs”. What if Muhammad had pardoned him? Isn't that a better course
of action. After all the man was harmless. He probably was in the
entertainment business along with his two singing girls. Let us move
to the details of his death.
How did Ibn Khatal die?
"Verily the apostle of Alah ordered (his followers) on the day of the Victory to kill Ibn Abi Sarh, Fartana Ibn al-Zibr'ra and Ibn Khatal. Abu Barzah came and saw him (Ibn Khatal) holding fast the curtains of al-Kabah. He (Abu Barzah) ripped open his belly.” [Tabaqat Ibn Sa'd, p.174]
What happened to the two slave girls?
"As for Ibn Khatal's two singing girls, one was killed and the other ran away until the apostle, asked for immunity, gave it to her." (Sirat, p.551)
Did Muhammad make a wise decision regarding Ibn Khatal and his two slave girls?
No, he did not. He could have easily forgiven him and let the incidents pass by. Ibn Khatal was not an important person for Muhammad to worry about. He was in the entertainment business along with the two singing girls. The same applies to the killing of one of the girls. Forgiveness is a virtue that Muhammad died thinking it spelled as “REVENGE”.
And the answer to the title of this article is: No, Muhammad had no respect for the holy. He demonstrated that in his Nakhla raid when he attacked a Meccan commercial caravan during the sacred month. He demonstrated that by violating, again and again, his own signed treaties before conquering Mecca. And, yet again, proved this claim by ordering the killing of a man who was holding to the curtains of the most holy in Mecca; the Ka'ba. Is this a man worthy of being called a prophet of the most High?
Ibn Kamuna is an Arabic-speaking writer. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.