Guide to Understanding Islam



What does the
Religion of Peace
Teach About...

Insulting Islam



Does Islam command that those who insult the religion should be put to death?

Summary Answer

Under Sharia, those who insult Muhammad or Allah are to be put to death.  So are those who desecrate the Qur'an, or commit other acts of blasphemy.  This tradition began with Muhammad, as recorded in the Hadith and by his biographers.  There is also a Qur'anic basis for it.

The Qur'an:

Qur'an (6:93) - "Who can be more wicked than one who inventeth a lie against Allah?"  If the death penalty is prescribed for lesser crime, then it stands to reason that it should be imposed for the most "wicked".

Qur'an (33:57) - "Lo! those who malign Allah and His messenger, Allah hath cursed them in this world and the Hereafter, and hath prepared for them the doom of the disdained"

Qur'an (33:61) - [continues from above] "Accursed, they will be seized wherever found and slain with a (fierce) slaughter."

From the Hadith:


Bukhari (59:369) - This recounts the murder of Ka'b bin al-Ashraf, a Jewish poet who wrote verses about Muslims that Muhammad found insulting.  He asked his followers, 'Who will rid me of this man?' and several volunteered.  al-Ashraf was stabbed to death while fighting for his life.


Bukhari (3:106) - "The Prophet said, "Do not tell a lie against me for whoever tells a lie against me (intentionally) then he will surely enter the Hell-fire."


Bukhari (4:241) - Those who mocked Muhammad at Mecca were killed after he had retaken the city and asserted his authority.


Additional Notes:

Muslims in the West who do not want it known that their religion prescribes death for detractors often quote Qur'an (3:186).  This is an earlier verse following a defeat in battle - when Muhammad's forces were relatively weak.  Though encouraging Muslims to endure insults at the time, the text goes on to say that if Muslims are patient, then a "grievous penalty" will befall those who mock them.  Indeed, those to whom this verse specifically referred, were put to death by Muhammad just a few short years later.


Perhaps the best evidence that Muhammad punished critics with death are the number of people who were murdered for this very reason shortly after he attained the power to do so.  His biographers list numerous citizens who were murdered merely for mockery or criticism, particularly poets - the media artists of the time.  One was a mother of five, who had her child pulled from her breast before she was run through with a sword.  See Muhammad's Dead Poets Society for more information.


When author Salman Rushdie published "The Satanic Verses," a 1988 novel deemed offensive to Muhammad, the Ayatollah Khomeini pronounced a death sentence that was supported by a majority of Muslims. 


In 2006, when a Danish newspaper published cartoons of Muhammad, an Imam (and immigrant to Denmark), traveled back to the Middle East and whipped up hatred that resulted in deadly rioting on three continents.  Demonstrators in London held signs reading "Massacre Those Who Insult Islam."


A more in-depth discussion of this subject can be found in other places, including this article from Answering-Islam and Insulting Muhammad from American Thinker. Home Page


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