Allah is often described as “the Merciful” in the Koran, but was Mohammad merciful? Here’s an example that certainly raises the question. Eight men of the “Ukl” tribe came to Mohammad and spoke the words to accept Islam. Being ill, they were sent by Mohammad to where a herd of camels was kept. They were to be given camel milk and urine to drink (Apparently this was considered medicinal). When they recovered they killed the camel herdsman, stole the camels and fled. However, they were caught and brought before Mohammad for judgement. In most cultures of the day they would probably be condemned to death for their actions. But Mohammad’s solution was extreme. He had their hands and feet cut off, their eyes gouged out and they were then thrown out into the hot sunshine to suffer until they died.
We talk elsewhere about an event when Mohammad’s favorite wife Aisha was suspected of adultery. Another part of the story was that Mohammad launched an investigation into the affair and this investigation included the brutal interrogation of a female slave: “So the apostle called Burayra to ask her, and Ali got up and gave her a violent beating, saying “Tell the Apostle the truth.” (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 734).
The hadith of Ibn Ishaq also tells about the torture of another one of Mohammad’s victims. The Banu Nadir were a tribe of Jews that had been robbed and expelled from Medina by the Muslims in about 625. The tribe relocated to an area called Khaybar which was more than 200 kilometers north of Medina. The Muslims attacked Khaybar in 629. The Jews of Khaybar outnumbered the Muslim forces attacking them but they lived in several small fortresses that were separated by significant distances. Thus, the Muslims were able to attack, besiege and capture the fortresses one-by-one without ever having to face the entire Khaybar force in battle. After the battles were over, Mohammad was sure that the Jews had hidden some treasure during the attack. Ibn Ishaq tells us that Mohammad had Kenana bin al-Rabi, the person who was suspected of knowing the location of the treasure, tortured to attempt to find its location. A fire was ignited on Kenana’s chest and extinguished while he was still alive. Ultimately, he was beheaded. Mohammad later took his victim’s wife Safiyya bint Huyayy as a wife.
- Mohammad and Torture