The Islamic Rulings On Insulting Allah, the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and Companions, By Murtadha Gusau
…in the context of some Muslims countries and in some states in northern Nigeria, where they have their own systems of legislation to prevent the acts of insulting Islam, they should report to the authorities anything in the form of words, statements, actions and behaviour that could be perceived as an act of insult towards the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), so that they will be punished in accordance with their law. We cannot take actions in our own hands without going through the proper channels, especially using force, for it would affect the image of Islam…
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), his wives, his family, his companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Respected brothers and sisters, a court in Kano State, Northern Nigeria, has sentenced a young musician to death for blasphemy against our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). An Upper Shari’ah Court sitting at Hausawa, Filin Hockey, sentenced 22-year-old Yahaya Sharif to death by hanging. The judge, Aliyu Kani, gave the verdict on Monday, August 10, after finding Yahaya Sharif guilty as charged. He was convicted based on Section 382 (b) of Kano penal code of 2000. Yahaya Sharif, a resident of Sharifai in Kano metropolis, was accused of committing blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) in a song he circulated via WhatsApp in March. Following the incident, some angry protesters burned down the singer’s family house and led a protest to the Kano Hisbah command’s headquarters. The Hisbah is a Kano State-owned security outfit that enforces the Shari’ah law in the State. Yahaya Sharif’s father, Aminu Sharif, has disowned him, saying he was not living in his house when he committed the crime. He also said that he did not share his son’s religious views or ideology.
On Monday, the court also sentenced Umar Farouq of Sharadah quarters of Kano metropolis to 10 years imprisonment with hard labour for making derogatory statements concerning the Almighty Allah in a public argument. The judge said the convict committed the offence at a younger age, and his trial was delayed to enable him to attain adulthood as proscribed by Maliki Islamic jurisprudence and the administration of criminal justice law. Both convicts have 30 days to appeal the judgment.
As you all known, Kano is one of about 12 states in Northern Nigeria where Shari’ah law is in place. Many people have been condemned to death under Shari’ah law since it was first introduced in Zamfara State in 1999, but so far only one execution has been carried out. That was in 2002 when a man was put to death in Kano, after being convicted of killing a woman and her two children. Many people convicted of theft have had their limbs amputated under the Shari’ah law.
Dear brothers and sisters, no doubt, in Islam, the issue of the insult towards the beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is a serious and grave matter. Allah the Almighty states:
“And among them are those who abuse the Prophet and say, “He is an ear.” Say, “[It is] an ear of goodness for you that believes in Allah and [is] a mercy to those who believe among you.” And those who abuse the Messenger of Allah – for them is a painful punishment.” [Surah Al-Taubah: 61]
Sheikh al-Maraghi said in his commentaries:
“Hurting the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) after his death is the same as hurting him while he was still alive. The belief in the Prophet (Peace be upon him) would prevent a believer from doing anything that could hurt him. It is a great sin and disobedience.”
Allah the Most High also states:
“Indeed, those who abuse Allah and His Messenger – Allah has cursed them in this world and the Hereafter and prepared for them a humiliating punishment.” [Surah Al-Ahzab: 57]
Respected servants of Allah, defending the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is a part of the perfection of Iman (Faith). Hence, each Muslim is obligated to love the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), for loving him completes our faith (Iman). From Anas Bin Malik (RA), the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“Whoever possesses the (following) three qualities will have the sweetness of faith: (1) The one to whom Allah and His Messenger becomes dearer than anything else; (2) Who loves a person and he loves him only for Allah’s Sake; (3) who hates to revert to atheism (disbelief) as he hates to be thrown into the Fire.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
And among the methods and ways to show our belief and love in the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is to do what the Companions and the Salaf did, which is by defending him.
From Umar Bin Al-Khattab, there was an incident where a man was found guilty for insulting the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). Thus, Umar sentenced him to death. Then Umar said:
“Whoever insults Allah the Almighty, or insults one of the Prophets, then kill him.” [See Saifil Maslul ala Man Sabbal-Rasul, page 124, by Imam Taqiyuddin Al-Subki]
From Abdul-Hamid Bin Abdurrahman Bin Zaid Bin Al-Khattab, who said while he was in Kufah representing Khalifah Umar Bin Abdul’aziz:
“I found a man insulted you in Kufah, and he is proven guilty for insulting you, thus, I was going to kill him, or cut his hands, or cut his tongue, or cane him, but I thought that I would better consult the matter with you first.”
Khalifah Umar Bin Abdul’aziz then wrote back to him:
“Peace be upon you, by Allah in Whose hands is my soul, if you kill him, then I would kill you for it, if you cut him, then I would cut you for it, if you cane him, then I would pull him away from you. When you receive my letter, go out to al-Khunasah (a dumpster), then you insult him just as he has insulted me, or you forgive him and that is what I would prefer you to do. The reason is, it is prohibited to kill another Muslim unless he insults the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).” [See Al-Muhallah, vol. 14, page 434]
• The Right and Power of the Governments and the Authorities to Arrest and Punish Anyone Who Insults the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)
My beloved people, this shows how great the offence of insulting the Prophet (Peace be upon him) is. It’s only the government and those in authorities that have a right to take legal actions against anyone inciting fitnah in our society by insulting the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
The authors of Al-Fiqh al-Manhaji, in vol. 8, page 142 state the responsibilities of non-Muslims in a Muslim country:
“They are permitted to only say good things about the religion of Islam. If they degrade the Qur’an, the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) or insults Allah Almighty’s legislation, they are to be punished through ta’zir.”
Originally, the punishment of ta’zir is meant as ta’dib (a lesson/to educate) offenders and society. Thus, authorities should use the power given to them wisely in handling these cases to prevent it from recurring. Other than punishments, the most important thing that the government and Muslims should do is to spread and educate people about the true characters of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), removing doubts and prejudice towards our beloved Prophet. It may be due to their ignorance and misinformation that results in their poor actions. Thinking through the effects of our approach in Da’awah is known as Fiqh al-Ma’al. Allah the Almighty states:
“And do not insult those they invoke other than Allah, lest they insult Allah in enmity without knowledge.” [Surah Al-An’am:108]
Imam Ibn Kathir said:
“Allah the Almighty and His Messenger the Prophet (Peace be upon him) prohibit the believers from insulting the god of idolaters even if there is truth in them. The reason being, it could lead to a greater harm, for they would return the insult to the God of Muslims, while Allah the Most High is Rabb where, there is no other God except Him.” [See Tafsir Ibn Kathir, vol. 3, page 272]
The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:
“I do not want the people to say that Muhammad kills his Companions.” [Al-Bukhari]
The above Hadith is about the hypocrites, led by Abdullah Bin Ubay Bin Salul, where he said:
“By Allah! If we return to Madinah indeed the more honourable will expel therefrom the meaner.”
This made Umar angry and he asked the permission from the Prophet (Peace be upon him) to kill the hypocrites. Thus, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) answered as stated above.
Imam Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar said:
“It is feared that the killing (as punishment) would lead to fitnah towards the religion, making people fear Islam and keeping them away from Islam.” [See Fath al-Bari, vol. 3, page 392]
Hence, in the context of some Muslims countries and in some states in northern Nigeria, where they have their own systems of legislation to prevent the acts of insulting Islam, they should report to the authorities anything in the form of words, statements, actions and behaviour that could be perceived as an act of insult towards the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), so that they will be punished in accordance with their law. We cannot take actions in our own hands without going through the proper channels, especially using force, for it would affect the image of Islam, Muslims and our country’s peace, referring back to the statement by Imam Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar:
“It is feared that the killing (as punishment) would lead to fitnah towards the religion, making people fear Islam and keeping them away from Islam.”
May this explanation give understanding and guidance to the Muslims and non-Muslims, ameen.
Dear brothers and sisters, in the video clip taken from an interview given by Sheikh Abu-Ishaq Al-Huwaini on the Egyptian satellite television station, al-Hikmah, on July 7, 2011. Sheikh Al-Huwaini explains that whoever insults Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), even if he later repents, must be killed.
In the interview, Sheikh Al-Huwaini went on to contrast this with the case of one who insults Allah. He said that insulting Allah of course makes one an infidel, which is agreed to by all Islamic scholars, yet the one who insults Allah is not killed – he is merely called to repentance. This is because even if the whole world insults Allah, it does not matter to him – it does not hurt him.
After recounting a Hadith regarding Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) being mocked by poetry from the Quraish, Sheikh Al-Huwaini explained that:
“Prophet Muhammad had complete authority to waive his right (to kill those who mocked him). But the leader does not have the authority to waive the Prophet Muhammad’s right.”
Sheikh Al-Huwaini reported that Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) could waive this right whenever he wanted, but after his death he retained this right, meaning no one could waive the right for him. That is why those who insult the Prophet now must be killed.
He then narrated another Hadith in which Abu-Bakr, the first Rightly-Guided Caliph of Islam, is mocked by someone. Abu-Barzah offered to kill this man for Abu-Bakr. Abu-Bakr explained, however, that this right (i.e. to kill the one who mocks the leader) was not given to anyone after Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him); or in other words, only Prophet Muhammad had the right to kill those who mocked him.
He said all of this in the context of the controversy in Egypt with the Christian businessman, Naguib Sawiris, a billionaire and founder of the Free Egyptians Party. In late June 2011, Sawiris tweeted a picture of Mickey Mouse wearing a Muslim beard and jilbab, and Minnie Mouse wearing a niqab, which was considered to be mocking Islam. Sheikh Al-Huwaini did not say explicitly that Sawiris should be killed for mocking Islam, but did say that all of his companies should be boycotted, even if he only owns 10 per cent share in the company.
• Insulting the Prophet Muhammad’s Companions
Respected servants of Allah, the issue of insulting the Prophet Muhammad’s Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) is one of the issues that need lengthy explanation because the one who insults them may do so because of a worldly rivalry between them, and that is obvious in their lifetime. A person may insult a number of the Companions because he believes that they have apostatised or have done major sins in his view. He may also insult them because they have provided victory to this religion (Islam), which he claims to be attributed to, but in fact he is not a Muslim.
The best among the scholars who explained this issue quite well was Sheikhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah bestow mercy on his soul) in the last portion of his book, Al Sarimul Maslul Ala Shatimir-Rasul where he said:
“As for those who insult the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) whether from his family or others, Imam Ahmad said: they should be beaten harshly, but he did not declare their disbelief nor he said they must be killed.” Abu Talib said: “I asked Ahmad about those who insult the Companions of the Prophet (Peace be upon him)? He said: “Do not kill them, but beat them harshly.” Abdullah said: “I asked my father about those who insult a Companion of the Prophet (Peace be upon him)? He said: “They must be beaten. I asked him: Is it a prescribed penalty? He did not comment on that, but said: They must be beaten and I do not think they are Muslims.”
He also said in the letter that was narrated by Abul Abbas Ahmad Ibn Ya’qub Al-Istakhry and others:
“The best people after the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) are: Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali. Then he stopped and said: they are rightly guided Caliphs, then the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) after those four people. They are people of good and it is not permissible for anyone to mention any of their faults nor attribute any insult or harm to them, and anyone does that the leader must punish him and he cannot forgive him. However, if the person repents his fault and sin, it will be accepted from him, but if he sticks to his belief, he should be punished again or detained until he repents or dies.”
Imam Ahmad reported the previous saying from the people of knowledge in his time, and the same view was reported by Al-Kirmany, Ishaq, Al-Humaidi, Sa’id Ibn Mansur, and others.
Imam Al-Maimuni said:
“I heard Imam Ahmad saying: “Why do they speak badly about Mu’awiyyah?! We ask Allah for the good speech. He said to me: “O Abul Hasan, if you see anyone mentions the Companions of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) badly, accuse him with apostatising from Islam.”
Imam Ahmad (may Allah be pleased with him) stated that such a person should be lashed and he should repent his sin, but if he does not cease, he shall be detained until he repents or dies. He also said: I do not think he is a Muslim and do not kill him.
Imam Ishaq Ibn Rahawaih said:
“Anyone insults the Companions of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) should be punished and imprisoned. This is the view of the most of our scholars, such as Ibn Abu Musa. He said: “Anyone of the Shi’a insults one of the Predecessor (the Companions) he is not competent and should not be married any of our women. And whoever attributes lies to Aisha (may Allah be pleased her) he will not be a Muslim and cannot marry a Muslim woman except if he repents and declare his repentance.
This is the view of Umar Ibn Abdul’aziz, Asim Al-Ahwal, and other Successors.
Al-Harith Ibn Utbah narrated:
“A man insulted Uthman was brought to Umar Ibn Abdul’aziz and Umar asked him: “Why did you do that? He said: I hate him. He said: If you hate someone, would you insult him?! He said: He commanded that the man should be lashed 30 lashes.” Ibrahim Ibn Maisarah said: “I never saw Umar Ibn Abdul’aziz hit a person but a person insulted Mu’awiyyah, he would lash him.” [Reported by Al-lalika’i]
It was reported that he wrote a letter in regard of a person had insulted saying:
“Nobody shall be killed except a person who insults the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), but lash him over his head, and except I have believed that would be better for him, I would not have done that.”
Imam Ahmad reported on the authority of Abu Mu’awiyyah that Asim Al-Ahwal said:
“A man insulted Uthman was brought to me and I beat him ten lashes then he repeated what he said, thereupon I lashed him ten more. He kept on repeating his saying until I lashed him 70 lashes.”
This is the famous view of Imam Malik. Malik said: “Anyone insults the Prophet (Peace be upon him) must be killed, and anyone insults his Companions must be lashed.”
Imam Abdul-Malik Ibn Habib said:
“Anyone of the Shi’a hates Uthman or free himself of him must be lashed harshly and anyone hates Abu Bakr and Umar the punishment will be doubled. He may be beaten again and again or detained until death. He must not be killed except when he insults the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).”
Imam Ibn Al-Mundhir said:
“I do not know anyone (of scholars) who passes the verdict of killing the one who insults other than the Prophet (Peace be upon him).”
Imam Abu Ya’alah Al-Qadi said:
“The Islamic jurists (Fuqaha) agreed that the one who insults the Companions believing that is lawful thing to do, he will be a disbeliever and if he does not believe so, he will be a dissolute whether he called them unbelievers or doubted about their Islam. Some jurists (Fuqaha) of Kufah and others were decisive regarding the killing of those who insult the Companions and attributing disbelief to the Shi’a.”
Imam Muhammad Ibn Yusuf Al-Firyabi was asked about the person who insults Abu Bakr, he said:
“He is a disbeliever.” He was asked: should we offer Salah on him after his death (funeral prayer or janazah)? He said: No. He was asked: What can we do while he is saying “La ilaha illalah (There’s no god but Allah)”? He said: “Do not touch him with your hands but push him with a stick until you bury him.”
Imam Ahmad Ibn Yunus said:
“If a Jew slaughtered a sheep and a Shi’ite who insult the Prophet’s Companion slaughtered a sheep too, I would eat the sheep of the Jew and do not eat the sheep of the Shi’ite because he is not an apostate.”
Imam Abu Bakr Ibn Hani said:
“The slaughtered sheep of the Shi’a and Al-Qadariyyah (a sect states that everything was inevitable) is not eaten. The slaughtered sheep of the apostate is not eaten although the slaughtered sheep of the people of the Scriptures (Ahlul Kitab) is not eaten because the Shi’a is treated as apostate, but the people of the Scriptures (Ahlul Kitab) are approved and the tribute is taken from them.”
Abdullah Ibn Idris, one of the honourable jurists of Kufah, said:
“Pre-emption is not entitled for a Shi’ite because pre-emption is only given to a Muslim.”
Imam Al-Fudail Ibn Marzuq said:
I heard Al-Hasan Ibn Al-Hasan, the son of Ali Ibn Abu Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) saying to a man from the Shi’ites: “By Allah, killing you is a pious act to Allah, but I refrain from doing that because of the right of neighbourhood.”
In another narration, he said:
“The man said to him: May Allah bless, I knew you were joking. Al-Hasan said: I was not joking, this is the truth, and if Allah gives us permission to kill you, we will cut off your hands and legs.”
A group of our scholars declared freeing themselves from the Kharijites (extremists/terrorists) who believe the disbelief of Ali and Uthman and declared the disbelief of the Shi’ite who insulted the Companions, called them as disbelievers, or called them as dissolute.
Imam Abu Bakr Abdul’aziz said in ‘Al Muqni’:
“As for a Shi’ite who insults the Companions, he is a disbeliever and should not marry a Muslim woman.”
Some of them said, which was approved by Abu Ya’ala Al-Qadi:
“If a person insults them in term of their religion and trustworthiness, he will be a disbeliever. If the insult was in other than the belief or the trustworthiness, such as insulting one of their fathers or insulting them with the intention to tease them, he will not be a disbeliever.”
Imam Ahmad commented on the narration of Abu Talib about the man who insulted Uthman:
“This is hidden atheism.”
He commented on the narration of Al-Marwazi:
“The one who insults Abu-Bakr, Umar and A’ishah is not a Muslim.”
He said about the narration of Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal:
“Anyone who insults one of the Prophet’s Companions is not a Muslim.”
Imam Abu Ya’ala Al-Qadi said:
“Anyone insults the Companions of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) is not a Muslim and did not comment on the narration of Abdullah and Abu Talib in regard of killing him. The prescribed penalty and lashing is a proof that they are still Muslims.” He said: It is possible that his saying: “he is not a Muslim” is given when a person believes that insulting the Companions is lawful, in that case he is not a Muslim with one accord. Dropping the killing penalty from the one who insults them while not believing it is lawful to do so because he did it knowingly it is not lawful as the person who commits sins. He said: It is possible that the meaning of “He is not a Muslim” is given when a person insults their trustworthiness as they said: they oppressed and went astray after the Prophet’s death and seized the caliphate without right. It is also possible that the meaning of “dropping the killing” from the people who do not doubt their Islam, such as to say: they did not have enough knowledge, they had lack of politics and courage, they were misers, or loved the world, and so on. He said: it is possible that to interpret the narration in two ways: 1. He is not a Muslim. 2. He is a dissolute. This is the view of Al-Qadi and others who have reported the two narrations. Al-Qadi said: “Anyone insults Aisha with committing adultery of which she was free is a disbeliever with one accord.” Now I sum up the issue in two chapters: 1. The ruling on insulting them in general. 2. About the details of insult. As for the first, insulting the Companions of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) is unlawful by the Qur’an and the Sunnah, then he mentioned the proofs from the Qur’an and the Sunnah about that and explained the proofs. Then he said: “Chapter on the views of scholars in their regard.”
As for the people who combined their insults with a claim that Ali was a god, was a Prophet, or Angel Jibril (Gabriel) has mistaken by revealing on Muhammad, no doubt they are disbelievers with one accord, moreover there is no doubt in the disbelief of those who doubted their disbelief. Likewise, the people who claimed that Qur’anic verses were concealed or claimed it has inward meanings to drop the permissible ordinances, such as “Al-Qaramitah and Al-Batiniyyah” and “Al-Tanasukhiyyah” who are declared disbelievers by the scholars.
As for those who insult them without insulting their faith or trustworthiness, such as attributing miserliness, cowardiness, lack of knowledge, loving the world, or something like that, such a person deserves disciplinary and lashing. He is not a disbeliever as some of the scholars said and this is the interpretation of their view.
As for the people who curse and insult absolutely, this is controversial because the matter ranges between insult as a result of rage or insult based on disbelief.
As for those who claimed that they have apostatised from Islam after the Prophet’s death except for only a few of them who did not exceed several and ten people or they attributed debauch to the common Companions, no doubt they are disbelievers too because they had contradicted the noble Qur’an in many positions where they were trustworthy and pious. Anyone doubts that he is surely a disbeliever because the meaning of this statement is: the people have conveyed the Qur’an and the Sunnah are either disbelievers or dissolute. The nation which has been proven to be the best nations of mankind and the first generation is the best generation of mankind turned up to be the worst nation (as they claim) and their men who conveyed the message of Islam are either disbelievers or dissolute. The people who adopt such view is a disbeliever and most of them conceal their belief and Allah has punished them by turning them into monkeys and pigs during their lifetime or after their death. Scholars have collected their news, such as Al-Hafiz Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahid Al-Maqdisi in his book ‘An Nahyi An Sabbil Ashab wa ma Ja’a Fihi minal Ithm wal-Iqab” (The forbiddance of insulting the Companions, and the punishment that came in their regard).
Respected brothers and sisters, to sum it up, some of those who insult the Prophet Muhammad’s Companions are judged to be disbelievers, some are not disbelievers, and others whose matter are controversial. This is not the right place to elaborate in this issue but I have mentioned these matters to explain the issue we mentioned.
This is some of what has been said in this issue, I ask Allah to make it solely for His Sake, benefit Muslims and non-Muslims with it, and to use us in things that please Him in actions and speech, ameen.
Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. Peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and his Companions.
And Allah knows best!
Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: email@example.com or +2348038289761.
This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Dhul-Hijjah 24, 1441 A.H. (August 14, 2020).