Muslims all over the world are using #WhoIsMuhammad to express their feelings about the man who founded their religion. The hashtag arose partially in reaction to the horrifying events in France last week and mostly because Muslims and Islam are generally not exactly very positively perceived.
I understand what Muslims are trying to do with the hashtag. Really, I do. I remember what it was like to be a Muslim in a hostile environment, especially in the direct wake of terrorist acts committed by Islamist types.
However, if the various traces of him that we have left are to be accepted, Muhammad was not a peacenik hippie who wanted everyone to love each other forever. There was much more to him than that.
Please note that I am using pro-Muslim sources, so any quibbles about the validity of the hadith can be directed at the Muslims who believe in it rather than me.
Narrated by ‘Abullah bin Abi Awfa: Allah’s Apostle Said, “Had I ordered a person to prostrate to someone rather than Allah, I would have ordered the wife to prostrate to her husband. By Allah, who holds the soul of Muhammad in his hands, the wife will not be fulfilling her duty towards Allah until she fulfils her duty towards her husband. If he asks her (for sexual intercourse) while she is on a camel (what means, being busy), she should not disobey him.”
If a woman refuses to come to bed when invited by her husband, she becomes a target of the curses of angels. Exactly the same happens if she deserts her husband’s bed. (Bokhari, Vol. 7, p 93)
Again, if a man is in a mood to have sexual intercourse, the wife must come immediately even if she is baking bread at a communal oven (Tirmzi, Vol. 1, p 428)
1632. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) cursed a man who puts on the dress of women, and a woman who puts on the dress of men. [Abu Dawud].
Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin: Ibn AbuMulaykah told that when someone remarked to Aisha that a woman was wearing sandals, she replied: The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) cursed mannish women.
Volume 9, Book 83, Number 17: Narrated ‘Abdullah: Allah’s Apostle said, “The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: In Qisas for murder, a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims.”
Sahih Bukhari 9.140 Narrated ‘Aisha: Allah’s Apostle said to me, “You were shown to me twice (in my dream) before I married you. I saw an angel carrying you in a silken piece of cloth, and I said to him, ‘Uncover (her),’ and behold, it was you. I said (to myself), ‘If this is from Allah, then it must happen.
Bowdlerizing the complexities of Muhammad’s life and impact on the world is hardly the best course if your goal is to make the world an overall better place. He was human. He promoted things that were good and bad. He started a religion that has led to good and bad things. In order to address issues with Muhammad, Islam, and Muslims, the realities must be acknowledged rather than glossed over by focusing only on the nicer sayings.