Muslims all over the country are outraged over a billboard implying Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, is a “rapist” and a “slave owner & dealer” who married a six-year-old. The billboard was most likely erected by a right-wing anti-Islam group called “Truthophobes.”
Rima Shahid, executive director of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana, said the anti-Islam statements are untrue and offensive.
It is a horrible billboard. I’m outraged by it, but saddened at the same time … and I would like to know who is behind it … It seems very cowardly to me. If you have some kind of stance, you should want to stand up next to your statement. I didn’t think there was any room for hate in our city. This billboard tells me otherwise … This kind of rhetoric just furthers division in our state and makes a neighbor question a neighbor, just like I am today.
Truthophobes, which works toward “exposing Islam and the left who fear the truth,” didn’t respond to my emails but insists the claims are true and that truth has become “the new hate speech.” Looking at their site, it doesn’t appear as though accuracy (or grammar or graphic design etiquette) is all that important to them.
Still, let’s take at the specific claims made on the sign:
- Did Muhammad marry a six-year-old girl? This one is false. Although it was culturally acceptable for parents to marry off a girl of that age during Muhammad’s time and in that region, he actually didn’t marry Ayesha until she was at least nine (and able to bear children, according to the story). I despise child molestation. Still, to hold Muhammad accountable for that, we’d have to do the same to Christians and Jews since the Old Testament condones girls getting married at as young as three years old. Truthophobes, which fights to “#KeepCHRISTinChristmas,” does not do that.
- Did Muhammad behead 600 Jews in one day? It is true that Muhammad and his army together executed between 600 and 900 males who had reached puberty, but that isn’t the whole story (as is usually the case in these debates). The beheadings took place as part of a military dispute, an invasion, and that is not at all unusual among religious groups. Again, if you look at the Bible, we can see even the most noble heroes engaging in similar behavior. In fact, King David was said to have personally slaughtered more than 200 non-Jews, then collecting their foreskins.
- Was Muhammad a slave owner and dealer? Yes, Muhammad bought, sold, captured, and owned slaves. That’s not surprising, though, because the Bible (on which Islam is based) condones slavery. It was common practice back then. It may be strange to think about, but many U.S. Presidents have also owned slaves. That doesn’t make it right, but faux selective outrage at tragedies from hundreds of years ago must be put into perspective. For the record, Muhammad also insisted that slave owners treat their slaves well. If that reminds you of anything, it should: “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result.” (Exodus 21:20)
- Did Muhammad have 13 wives? Muhammad had between 11 and 13 wives (there is a debate over whether two concubines ultimately became wives), but since when is this a problem in religions? Polygamy is popular in the Old and New Testaments, and King Solomon actually had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. Solomon is one of the 48 prophets, according to the Talmud (1 Kings 11:1-3).
- Was Muhammad a rapist? From what I can tell, this claim is made based on 1) the fact that Muhammad married a young girl and 2) inferences made based on female slaves taken in battle. If that is the standard we are using, again, Christianity and Judaism are going to have to take the criticisms, too. In fact, according to Deuteronomy 22:28-29, rape is okay if the attacker pays the victim’s father fifty shekels of silver and marries her (the Bible says nothing about what the woman wants).
- Did Muhammad torture and kill unbelievers? I know Muhammad ordered the killing of some non-believers during wartime, but that also seems consistent with the Old Testament on which his faith was based. Deuteronomy 17 instructs believers stone non-believers to death, and Deuteronomy 13 says those who worship other gods should be “put to death.” Religions do this because it helps them spread — it helps foster the us vs. them mentality on which faiths often thrive.
After looking at the facts behind these claims, we can conclude two things: 1) they are mostly accurate and 2) there is a ridiculous double standard when it comes to similar issues in Christianity and Judaism.
Whether Truthophobes put up the billboard or not (they are officially remaining anonymous), their source was definitely a person or group that is not looking at the facts objectively. It comes from a place of hate, not education. If that was their goal, they would have made similar comparisons to Christianity’s leaders. I doubt that will happen. For that reason alone, this billboard should be condemned, not celebrated for its supposed honesty.
(Screenshot via YouTube)