Is Islam a Religion of Peace? Examining the Life of Muhammad

written by Aaron BrakeIslam2

“I have been ordered to fight with the people till they say, none has the right to be worshiped, but Allah.”

Muhammad (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 4, Hadith No. 196)

“Whoever changes his Islamic religion, kill him.”

Muhammad (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 9, Hadith No. 57)


One and a half billion Muslims in the world today look to the prophet Muhammad as a life example and truest practitioner of Islam. Islam is currently the second largest religion in the world making Muhammad one of the most significant and influential figures in history. Indeed, the inception, growth, and current state of the Muslim religion cannot be understood without looking into his life and teachings. A prophet springing from the Arabian Peninsula, Muhammad was a man characterized by violence and a quest for political and military power as evidenced in the earliest written Islamic sources. The sunna[1] and teachings of Muhammad found in two of these earliest sources, the Qur’an and the Sirat Rasul Allah[2] by Ibn Ishaq, present a disturbing picture of a man whom many revere as God’s final prophet to mankind. 

So should Islam be considered a religion of peace? To answer this we will look at the teachings of the Qur’an, the Islamic theological doctrine of the law of abrogation, and the life example of Muhammad himself.

The Problem of Historicity 

There is a problem that modern day scholars are facing in attempting to study the life and teachings of Muhammad. They find themselves forced to depend entirely on Muslim sources and tradition for most, if not all, of their information. There are simply no sources outside of Islam with which to corroborate the early Islamic history which Muslims assume to be true. But the problem gets worse. The Islamic sources we do have are written anywhere from 150 to 300 years after the events which they describe. In other words, we have no primary sources to go to in researching the life and teachings of Muhammad but only secondary sources which rely on other material no longer in existence. Therefore in looking at the Qur’an and the Sirat Rasul Allah it is not to be assumed that these sources are factually accurate and dogmatically correct in all respects. But this is not the issue or even what is most important in this particular discussion.

What is important is the fact that these sources have shaped the minds and lives of billions of Muslims who have looked to them as guides and examples to be followed. Ultimately this is what matters more than the authenticity of the sources.[3] We look to their sources to find out about their prophet to see if he really was a man who can be called the final and greatest spokesman of God. It is appropriate then to begin with the Qur’an. 

What is the Qur’an?

The Qur’an is acclaimed by Muslims to be the most important and authoritative revelation from Allah. It is God’s final revelation to mankind and held to be an exact word-for-word copy of eternal tablets existing in heaven. The word Qur’an, which means “to recite,” places Allah as the central figure of the book and consistently emphasizes His uniqueness and oneness. 

According to Muslim tradition, Muhammad was called to be a prophet of Allah at the age of forty in the year 610 A.D. During his twenty-two-year prophetic career he received numerous revelations from Allah via the angel Gabriel which were eventually compiled into the 114 suras (chapters) of the Qur’an. Muhammad spent the first twelve years of his prophetic life, from 610 to 622 A.D., in the city of Mecca and the last ten years, from 622 to 632 A.D., in the city of Medina. This is highly relevant to our discussion because the life of Muhammad, and therefore the religion of Islam, is really a tale of two cities: Mecca and Medina. Mecca was a time of peace in the life of Muhammad while his time in Medina was largely filled with war and violence. The contrast between these two periods in Muhammad’s life can be seen in the revelations he received and the example he set.

The Evolution of a Prophet: From Mecca to Medina 

According to Islamic scholars, 86 of the suras revealed to Muhammad were given to him in Mecca while 28 were given to him in Medina (though it seems portions of some suras were recited in both places). What is interesting is that the content and timing of these Meccan and Medinian suras seem to correspond exactly with the content and timing of Muhammad’s prophetic career. In other words, as Muhammad’s status evolves from that of an unknown preacher in Mecca to a strong political, religious, and military figure in the Arabian Peninsula, the content of his message changes as well from one of tolerance and acceptance to violence and oppression.

For example, when Muhammad first began to preach his religion of Islam in the city of Mecca he was not well accepted. The Meccans of the time were heavily involved in polytheism and did not receive the version of monotheism proclaimed by Muhammad. It is during this time that Muhammad received revelations such as Sura 2:256 which reads, “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error.” This aya[4] seems to show Muhammad refraining from forcing his religion on anyone but content in simply declaring it to be true. It makes sense that Muhammad would take a more charitable attitude during this time given the fact that he was heavily outnumbered and suffering persecution in Mecca. Looking at a verse such as this gives the impression that the Qur’an encourages tolerance and that Muslims are to be at peace with neighboring faiths. However, in 622 A.D. Muhammad and a group of approximately 150 followers fled to Medina. This emigration, known as the Hijra, was the monumental turning point in the prophetic career of Muhammad, and for Islam itself. 

It is significant that just prior to leaving for Medina, Ibn Ishaq tells us that Muhammad received his first revelation allowing him to fight the Meccans.[5] Sura 22:39-41 reads, “To those against whom war is made, permission is given (to fight), because they are wronged…(They are) those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right—(for no cause) except that they say, ‘Our Lord is Allah.’” These revelations seem very convenient as Muhammad enters Medina and establishes his power base. Once Muhammad gained political and military power in Medina the revelations he received became increasingly intolerant and violent. After the Battle of Badr, a very important military victory for Muhammad in which 300 of his men defeated approximately 1000 Quraysh, Ibn Ishaq tells us that Allah revealed Sura 8 to Muhammad.[6] Sura 8:12, 39 reads, “I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: Smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger tips off them…And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevails justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere.” It is during this time in Medina that Muhammad received many of his revelations concerning Jihad, or Holy War.

The Sword Verses 

These verses dealing with Jihad are sometimes referred to as the “sword verses.” There are approximately 164 clear and direct sword verses within the Qur’an which deal specifically with military expedition, fighting, or distributing war spoils.[7] This figure does not include numerous other verses in which Muhammad speaks of further aspects of Jihad such as (1) his poor opinion of those who do not go on Jihad and (2) the heavenly rewards which Jihadists can expect when they die and enter paradise. One such well known verse commanding Jihad is Sura 9:5 which says, “But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war).” Sura 47:4 reads, “Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; at length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them).”

That Muhammad understood these verses to be applicable to Muslim life is found in the fact that he personally was involved in 29 battles and planned 39 others. This means that during the last ten years of Muhammad’s life he was either directly involved in, or commissioned others to participate in, 68 battles (almost seven battles a year). This warfare mentality was carried on by Muhammad’s successors and confirms the idea that to be a Muslim during the first 100 years of Islam was to be a soldier fighting for the cause of Allah. 

Liberal Muslims and the Law of Abrogation

Despite these seemingly obvious verses within the Qur’an which encourage warfare and fighting in the name of Allah, many modern day Muslims object. Critics of radical Islam often say these verses are taken out of context and misapplied by the vehement pseudo-Muslims of today. Liberal and moderate Muslims speak of Islam as a religion of peace which in no way condones violence for the sake of Allah. 

What critics often forget, and what many Muslims are unfamiliar with, is the Islamic doctrine known as the law of abrogation. Muslim authorities state that certain passages of the Qur’an are annulled (Mansukh) by verses revealed chronologically later, known as Nasikh verses. In other words, the revelations Muhammad received later in his life take precedence and may cancel out verses revealed earlier. The Qur’an teaches this principle in a number of passages. Sura 2:106 states, “None of our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah hath power over all things?” Sura 16:101 reads, “We substitute one revelation for another—and Allah knows best.”

These verses indicate a type of progressive revelation with which Allah is able to conveniently substitute and change previous revelations for newer ones. The law of abrogation is an inexact science and the number of abrogated verses within the Qur’an has been estimated to be anywhere from five to 500. It seems odd that revelation from God would need to be changed and updated within a 22 year time span and yet this is exactly what we would expect if Muhammad and his followers were simply making things up as they went along. 

The law of abrogation is not only found within the Qur’an but is spoken of by Ibn Ishaq in his biography of Muhammad, the Sirat Rasul Allah. As mentioned earlier, Allah revealed Sura 8 to Muhammad after his victory at the battle of Badr. Ibn Ishaq provides some commentary on the circumstances surrounding this particular revelation. We are told in the biography that Allah speaks to Muhammad saying, “O prophet, God is sufficient for thee and the believers who follow thee. O prophet, exhort the believers to fight. If there are twenty steadfast ones among you they will overcome two hundred, and if there are a hundred of you they will overcome a thousand unbelievers for they are a senseless people.”[8] This revelation contained within the biography corresponds with Sura 8:65. Muhammad here is told to encourage the Muslims to fight because they will be able to overcome great odds. Twenty Muslims will be able to defeat two-hundred unbelievers in battle and one-hundred Muslims will be able to defeat one-thousand. Ibn Ishaq then provides us with some interesting information regarding the response of the followers of Muhammad. We are told that “when this verse came down it came as a shock to the Muslims who took it hard that twenty should have to fight two hundred, and a hundred fight a thousand.”[9]

It appears the Muslims did not really like these odds and became discouraged that they should be commanded to fight in light of such overwhelming numbers. How does Muhammad respond to this? What we do not find the prophet saying is, “Be of good cheer, Allah is all-powerful, most wise!” Instead, Ibn Ishaq tells us the following: “So God relieved them and cancelled the verse with another saying: ‘Now has God relieved you and He knows that there is weakness amongst you, so if there are a hundred steadfast they shall overcome two hundred, and if there are a thousand of you they shall overcome two thousand by God’s permission, for God is with the steadfast.”[10] In the Qur’an this verse is found in Sura 8:66, immediately after the first verse revealed. In this account we see that Muhammad speaks a verse which is not accepted well by the people and so Allah immediately calls upon the law of abrogation because apparently the people knew better than Allah. The first verse revealed is immediately canceled out by the second and yet both verses still appear in the Qur’an, one right after the other. Both the Qur’an and the biography of Muhammad testify to the fact that the law of abrogation was part of Islamic theology from the very outset. 

Why is all of this important? The law of abrogation is highly significant in understanding the role of violence in the life of Muhammad and the religion of Islam because verses in the Qur’an encouraging warfare were revealed later in the prophetic career of Muhammad, abrogating the earlier verses encouraging tolerance and peace. Verses such as Sura 2:256 which reads, “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error,” was revealed in the early part of Muhammad’s preaching while in Mecca. Remember that Islam is a tale of two cities: Mecca and Medina. During the first twelve years of Muhammad’s prophetic career the revelations he received tended to advocate an attitude of acceptance and peace. It was not until the later Medinian period of his life that Muhammad’s preaching of violence and Jihad came to full fruition in verses such as Sura 9:5.

What does all this mean? It means that when we take Islam seriously and apply the law of abrogation consistently, as early orthodox Muslims did, we find there is absolutely no ground for saying that Islam is a religion of peace. It is more appropriate to say that Muhammad advocated a religion of peace established through war. Once everyone converts to Islam, agrees to pay the Jizya tax, or is killed by the sword, then peace will reign. The Dictionary of Islam states, “When an infidel’s country is conquered by a Muslim ruler, its inhabitants are offered three alternatives: 1) the reception of Islam, in which case the conquered became enfranchised citizens of the Muslim state, 2) the payment of the Jizya tax, by which unbelievers obtained “protection” and became Dhimmis,[11] provided they were not idolaters, and 3) death by the sword to those who would not pay the Jizya tax.” In light of the law of abrogation it is simply intellectually dishonest to say that Islam in its truest form was anything other than violent and oppressive. 

The Sunna of Muhammad

Nevertheless, perhaps these violent verses are simply taken out of context. We need only look to Muhammad to find out since the most telling indication of how these verses are to be interpreted comes from examining the sunna of the Prophet himself. If anyone knows the proper context of these verses and how they should be applied it is Muhammad. After all, Muhammad is the receiver of these revelations and the restorer of true monotheism by the commissioning of Allah. He is the final and greatest prophet to mankind and the example which one and a half billion Muslims seek to emulate in their everyday life. He is held by Muslims to be beyond sin and the perfect moral example for humankind. Kamal ud Din ad Damiri states,


Mohammed is the most favored of mankind, the most honored of all apostles, the prophet of mercy…He is the best of prophets, and his nation is the best of nations;…He was perfect in intellect, and was of noble origin. He had an absolutely graceful form, complete generosity, perfect bravery, excessive humility, useful knowledge…perfect fear of God and sublime piety. He was the most eloquent and the most perfect of mankind in every variety of perfection.[12]

In order to find out if this is really the case we need to turn to our primary text on the matter, the Sirat Rasul Allah by Ibn Ishaq. It is important to remember that this biography is not some foreign text written by a disenchanted, anti-Islamic apologist in an attempt to discredit the Prophet. It is a very open, honest, and early look into the life of the prophet Muhammad written by one of his own followers. In reading this account the question must be asked, “Is this the life of a man beyond sin who sets the moral example which we are to emulate?” 

The Sirat Rasul Allah: Violence Personified

The Sirat Rasul Allah by Ibn Ishaq is a biography filled with violence, assassinations, and constant warfare. It is nearly 700 pages in length and yet the majority of the text, nearly 500 pages, focuses exclusively on the last ten years of Muhammad’s life in the city of Medina. It is during this Medinian period that numerous examples of violence and Jihad can be found. Therefore, because this Medinian period is the heart of the biography it should also be the focal point in examining the sunna of Muhammad. This period establishes the context in which the violent verses in the Qur’an were revealed and gives insight into the life of the Prophet himself. 

Medina was a city filled with numerous indigenous Arab clans. Conflict in the city arose between the Jewish settlers and Arab immigrants of the tribes of al-Aws and al-Khazraj. Prior to Muhammad’s coming these quarrels had resulted in bloodshed and instability. Muhammad was seen as a wise and just outsider who could arbitrate and establish order.[13] He wrote the constitution of Medina[14] which regulated relations between the Arab clans and Muhammad’s followers. It states, “A believer shall not slay a believer…Believers are friends one to the other to the exclusion of outsiders…The believers must avenge the blood of one another shed in the way of God.”[15] It was during this period that Muhammad began his raiding campaigns that would continue in the following years. Ibn Ishaq tells us, “Then the apostle prepared for war in pursuance of God’s command to fight his enemies and to fight those polytheists who were near at hand whom God commanded him to fight.”[16]

In approximately 623 A.D., Muhammad and his men began their raids of Meccan caravans with divine approval. However, the Prophet and his followers were unsuccessful in their first three raids. It was not until early 624 A.D. when they had their first success in raiding a caravan near Mecca, killing one man and taking two prisoners. The success of this raid was due in large part to the fact that it took place during the holy month of Ramadan and was not expected. Bloodshed during this month was to be avoided and Muhammad immediately began to receive criticism. Fortunately for Muhammad, he received a revelation from Allah justifying his raid. Sura 2:217 reads, “They ask thee concerning fighting in the Prohibited Month. Say: ‘Fighting therein is a grave (offence); but graver is it in the sight of Allah to prevent access to the path of Allah, to deny Him, to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque and drive out its members.’ Tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter.” Muhammad continued receiving these convenient revelations, suitable to the needs of the moment, which allowed him to establish political, legal, and military power and authority. 

Assassinations Galore

Muhammad not only participated in raiding campaigns but ordered a number of assassinations as well. The first in a series was the murder of an old Jewish man named Ibnu’l-Ashraf who had composed insulting poetry about Muslim women. Muhammad said, “Who will rid me of Ibnu’l-Ashraf?” One of his followers answered, “I will deal with him for you, O apostle of god, I will kill him.” Muhammad responded by saying, “Do so if you can.”[17] Muhammad then gave his followers permission to lie and use trickery if need be to get the job done. His followers venture to the house of Ibnu’l-Ashraf in the middle of the night and deceive him in order to coax him out of his house. Ibn Ishaq tells us they cried, “Smite the enemy of God!” and Muhammad’s follower recounts, “I remembered my dagger when I saw that our swords were useless, and I seized it. Meanwhile the enemy of God had made such a noise that every fort around us was showing a light. I thrust it into the lower part of his body, then I bore down upon it until I reached his genitals, and the enemy of God fell to the ground.” He concludes by saying, “Our attack upon God’s enemy cast terror among the Jews, and there was no Jew in Medina who did not fear for his life.”[18] 

Immediately after this Muhammad states, “Kill any Jew that falls into your power.” Upon hearing this, a follower of Muhammad named Muhayyisa b. Mas’ūd killed a Jewish merchant. Muhayyisa’s older brother Huwayyisa objected to the killing at which point Muhayyisa says, “Had the one who ordered me to kill him ordered me to kill you I would have cut your head off.” Huwayyisa was astonished. We are told, “He exclaimed, ‘By God, a religion which can bring you to this is marvelous!’ and he became a Muslim.”[19] Not only does the Prophet of Islam command Jews to be killed but apparently this was seen as evidence of a grand religion.

One of the most horrific and violent acts in the life of Muhammad was performed after the battle of the ditch.[20] According to this account, the Meccans sought to crush Muhammad once and for all by advancing against Medina with an army of 10,000 led by Muhammad’s uncle, Abu Sufyan. Muhammad and his followers were able to withstand a two-week siege through various tactics including digging a trench around the city of Medina, after which the Meccans gave up and withdrew. Proclaiming victory, Muhammad proceeded to attack the last Jewish tribe in Medina, Banu Qurayzah. Ibn Ishaq tells us that after the tribe surrendered, Muhammad confined them in Medina and “went out to the market of Medina…and dug trenches in it. Then he sent for them and struck off their heads in those trenches as they were brought out to him in batches…This went on until the apostle made an end of them.”[21] Ibn Ishaq tells us the number of men killed that day by Muhammad was between six hundred and nine hundred. The biography goes on to say that Muhammad “divided the property, wives, and children of B. Qurayza among the Muslims, and he made known on that day the shares of horse and men, and took out the fifth.”[22] Muhammad even chose one of the captured women for himself. 

At this time Allah sent down a revelation to Muhammad found in the Qur’an: Sura 33. Sura 33:26 reads, “And those of the people of the Book who aided them—Allah did take them down from their strongholds and cast terror into their hearts, (so that) some ye slew, and some ye made prisoners.” The fact that Ibn Ishaq makes known that Sura 33 is revealed at this time is very significant because it allows the context of the sura to be established. Here in the holy book of Islam and the biography of Muhammad we have reference to the assassination of hundreds of men by the Prophet along with the explicit approval of Allah. It goes on to say that Allah showed great pleasure toward Muhammad for this and addressed the believers saying, “In God’s apostle you have a fine example for one who hopes for Allah and the last day.”[23]

Another incident described by Ibn Ishaq is the torture and killing of Kināna b. al-Rabīʽ. Kināna had custody of the treasure of B. al-Nadīr and was questioned about it by Muhammad. Kināna denied knowing where the treasure was located. Muhammad responded, “Do you know that if we find you have it I shall kill you?” The Prophet was told of a certain ruin where Kināna would go every morning and when the ruin was searched part of the treasure was found. Muhammad questioned Kināna as to the location of the rest of the treasure but he refused to cooperate. We are then told that, “the apostle gave orders to al-Zubar b. al-ʽAwwām, ‘Torture him until you extract what he has,’ so he kindled a fire with flint and steel on his chest until he was nearly dead. Then the apostle delivered him to Muhammad b. Maslama and he struck off his head.”[24] 

Violence, Violence, and More Violence

Muhammad continued to lead successful campaigns and increased in power and financial resources. After the nullification of a peace treaty between Muhammad and the city of Mecca, the Prophet and an army of ten thousand men invaded Mecca in the year 630 A.D. Ibn Ishaq says that “The apostle had instructed his commanders when they entered Mecca only to fight those who resisted them, except a small number who were to be killed even if they were found beneath the curtains of the Ka’ba.”[25] Among those ordered to be killed was ʽAbdullah b. Saʽd because he had apostatized from the Muslim religion. However, ‘Abdullah was a foster brother of a close companion of Muhammad and was able to receive a hearing from the Prophet in order to request immunity. Muhammad remained silent for a long time until he reluctantly granted ‘Abdullah immunity. Afterwards Muhammad told his followers, “‘I kept silent so that one of you might get up and strike off his head!’ One of the Ansar said, ‘Then why didn’t you give me a sign, O apostle of God?’ He answered that a prophet does not kill by pointing.”[26] Among the others ordered to be assassinated by Muhammad were those who had brought insults against him. Two of these were girls who “used to sing satirical songs about the apostle, so he ordered that they should be killed,” and another was a man “who used to insult him in Mecca.”[27] 

As Muhammad continued his raids he was preparing to send one of his commanders on an expedition. He instructed ‘Abdu’l-Rahman b. ‘Auf to “Fight everyone in the way of God and kill those who disbelieve in God. Do not be deceitful with the spoil; do not be treacherous, nor mutilate, nor kill children. This is God’s ordinance and the practice (sira) of his prophet among you.”[28] Muhammad here gave his commander explicit instructions to fight and kill all non-Muslims who disbelieve in Allah. Notice also that Muhammad says this has been ordained and is the common practice that he himself follows. If Muslims then are expected to follow the path of Muhammad it is easy to see where they get there justification for violence and oppression.

Assassinations continued throughout the last years of Muhammad’s life. Abu Sufyan, Muhammad’s uncle, was the leader of the pagan opposition to the Prophet in Mecca. Muhammad ordered that he should be killed and sent two of his followers, one of them being ‘Amr b. Umayya. Upon arriving at Mecca, ‘Amr and his companion were recognized and pursued, leaving them unable to assassinate Abu Sufyan. While hiding in a cave ‘Amr recognized an enemy and “went out and stabbed him under the breast with the dagger.” Continuing back to Medina ‘Amr met a one-eyed shepherd who sang “I won’t be a Muslim as long as I live, Nor heed to their religion give.” ‘Amr recounts that as soon as the man was “asleep and snoring I got up and killed him in a more horrible way than any man has been killed. I put the end of my bow in his sound eye, then I bore down on it until I forced it out at the back of his neck.”[29] ‘Amr fled and came across two Meccans sent to spy on the apostle. He shot and killed one and took the other captive. When ‘Amr finally reached Medina with his captive he stated that Muhammad “asked my news and when I told him what had happened he blessed me.”[30] 

Immediately after this we are told of a man named Abu ‘Afak. He had shown disaffection toward the killings of Muhammad and wrote a poem against him. Muhammad responded, “Who will deal with this rascal for me?”[31] Salim b. ‘Umayr rose to the challenge and went forth and killed Abu ‘Afak. After this assassination we are told of a woman named ‘Asma’ d. Marwan. She did not like that Abu ‘Afak had been killed so she composed a poem against Muhammad and his followers. When Muhammad found out he said, “Who will rid me of Marwan’s daughter?” Ibn Ishaq tells us that ‘Umayr “who was with him heard him, and that very night he went to her house and killed her. In the morning he came to the apostle and told him what he had done and he said, ‘You have helped God and his apostle, O ‘Umayr!’” ‘Umayr then asks if he would have to suffer any consequences for his actions to which Muhammad responds “Two goats won’t butt their heads about her.”[32] So ‘Umayr returned to his people.

Consistent Islam is Violent Islam 

These examples of Muhammad’s involvement in warfare and killing and his approval of assassinations and torture are but a small example. Does this seem to be the life of a man who has been appointed by God to be the moral example for all mankind? If this is the sunna that modern day Muslims are expected to follow it is no wonder that 28 of the 32 Muslim states worldwide were classified as “Terror States” in 1991. 

Do Muslims really still believe that this example of Muhammad is applicable to today? It seems that many do. One translation of the Qur’an titled “The Noble Qur’an” is published at the King Fahd complex in Saudi Arabia. Notice how they translate Sura 8:60. It states, “And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war (tanks, planes, missiles, artillery) to threaten the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others besides whom, you may not know but whom Allah does know.” The words in parenthesis are obviously not in the original Arabic. They were added by the translators because they believe that the words of the Qur’an are just as applicable today as they were when they were written. The life example of Muhammad is to be followed today just as it was during the first 100 years after the death of Muhammad when Islam proceeded to conquer nation after nation. Historians have commented that if it were not for Charles Martel stopping the Muslim advancement at the Battle of Tours in 732 A.D. there is a good possibility we might all be speaking Arabic right now. It is no wonder that Westerners are often skeptical when Islam is touted as a religion of peace. These “radical” or “extreme” Muslims seem to be the true Muslims who are following true Islam and the life example of Muhammad. It is easy to see where their authority comes from.


In conclusion, our earliest Islamic sources depict the life of Muhammad as one filled with warfare, assassinations, and constant violence. While the majority of Muslims today are peaceful, the grounding for this attitude within Islam seems to be without authority. Muhammad was not a peaceful man instilling a peaceful religion. His life depicts the evolution of a man from a tolerant street-preacher to a power-hungry political and military leader willing to engage in atrocious acts for the cause of his religion. When we understand the revelations contained within the Qur’an, the law of abrogation, and the context set within his biography, we are presented with a man whose life example is not to be emulated but rather avoided and condemned by all. Until more Muslims are willing to come forward and denounce this “prophet” it is hard to take seriously the notion that Islam is a religion of peace.

[1] The life example of Muhammad which Muslims seek to emulate.

[2] The earliest biography of Muhammad as found in written form.

[3] Serge Trifkovic, The Sword of the Prophet (Boston, MA: Regina Orthodox Press, 2002), 12.

[4] Aya means “miracle” in Arabic and refers to the individual verses within suras.

[5] Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, trans. A Guillaume (London: Oxford, 1955), 213.

[6] Ibn Ishaq, 321.

[7] See www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Themes/jihad_passages.html.

[8] Ibn Ishaq, 326.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Dhimmis are members of a protected community, especially referring to Jews and Christians who live under Muslim rule. The right to practice their own religion was guaranteed by their payment of a special poll tax, the jizya (Rippin, 313).

[12] As quoted in Norman L. Geisler and Abdul Saleeb, Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002), 174.

[13] Trifkovic, 35.

[14] Ibn Ishaq, 231.

[15] Ibid., 232.

[16] Ibid., 280.

[17] Ibid., 367.

[18] Ibid., 368.

[19] Ibid., 369.

[20] Ibid., 450.

[21] Ibid., 464.

[22] Ibid., 466.

[23] Ibid., 467.

[24] Ibid., 515.

[25] Ibid., 550.

[26] Ibid., 550.

[27] Ibid., 551

[28] Ibid., 672.

[29] Ibid., 674.

[30] Ibid., 675.

[31] Ibid., 675.

[32] Ibid., 676.

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