Depictions of Mohammad and Jesus in Islam – my discussion with Ali Selim on Today FM

by Michael Nugent on February 7, 2015

Yesterday on Today FM’s The Last Word with Matt Cooper, I and Ali Selim discussed the recent controversy in an Irish school where a pupil brought in a copy of the Charlie Hebdo magazine for discussion in a class about France. We also discussed the depiction of Mohammad and Jesus in Islam.

At the end, a listener asked a question about Mohammad marrying Aisha at age nine, and I said that both this and Mohammad hitting Aisha in the chest were in the Hadith. Ali Selim denied that these things happened, and said that if I could not produce the Hadith I should listen to him.

Obviously, I did not have the Hadith in the radio studio, so I said that I would come back to it. Here are two Hadith extracts referring to these issues. As with any controversial passage in the Quran or Hadith, there are arguments about interpretation, but it is wrong to try to close down the discussion by implying that, without having the Hadith to hand, the references do not exist.

Sahih Bukhari
Volume 5, Book 58, Number 234

The Prophet engaged me when I was a girl of six (years). We went to Medina and stayed at the home of Bani-al-Harith bin Khazraj. Then I got ill and my hair fell down. Later on my hair grew (again) and my mother, Um Ruman, came to me while I was playing in a swing with some of my girl friends. She called me, and I went to her, not knowing what she wanted to do to me. She caught me by the hand and made me stand at the door of the house. I was breathless then, and when my breathing became Allright, she took some water and rubbed my face and head with it. Then she took me into the house. There in the house I saw some Ansari women who said, “Best wishes and Allah’s Blessing and a good luck.” Then she entrusted me to them and they prepared me (for the marriage). Unexpectedly Allah’s Apostle came to me in the forenoon and my mother handed me over to him, and at that time I was a girl of nine years of age.

Sahih Muslim
The Book of Prayer
Book 4, No 2127

I, however, preceded him and I entered (the house), and as I lay down in the bed, he (the Prophet) entered the (house), and said: Why is it, O ‘A’isha, that you are out of breath? I said: There is nothing. He said: Tell me or the Subtle and the Aware would inform me. I said: Messenger of Allaah, may my father and mother be ransom for you, and then I told him (the whole story). He said: Was it the darkness (of your shadow) that I saw in front of me? I said: Yes. He struck me on the chest which caused me pain, and then said: Did you think that Allaah and His Prophet would deal unjustly with you?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 citizen_wolf February 7, 2015 at 11:04 am

Jeez, can you imagine what it would be like to be in a class instructed by Mr Selim.

Mr Selim: Every Tuesday invisible green Jinn run around your house.
Student: Errr… I’ve never seen any……
Mr Selim: Where is your proof? Ha, you have none! Therefore you should listen to me, you silly boy.

2 Rogmeister February 7, 2015 at 4:31 pm

He argues that “If they believe in it their perception matters”

So following that logic, if we believe in free press and freedom to publish pictures of whatever we want, then it’s our perception that matters- not the Islamic one.

Ultimately it is a poorly defined and handwaving argument to defend something that’s indefensible.

He personally would not draw pictures of Jesus, and would not draw pictures of Mohammed.
Grand- yet he threatened to invoke the blasphemy law to prosecute anybody who would publish the Charlie Hebdo images in Ireland, but not anybody caricaturing jesus.
Maddeningly inconsistent that is.

As Michael pointed out, both are equally against Islam, both should have an equally passionate response.

3 Skepsheik February 7, 2015 at 11:27 pm

Excellent performance Michael, but I suspect you would have got nowhere with Ali Selim, regarding the Aisha question, even if you had the Hadiths at hand. You would have faced the standard islam apologist tactic of saying that you are only dealing with a translation and that you need to speak arabic to get the real meaning.
There is a way to deal with this – at least on this particular issue – which is to point out that those who DO speak arabic, and are experts on the Koran, namely the religious authorities in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, base their marriage laws on the precedent set by Mohammeds marriage to Aisha.
Here are a couple of references if you need them:
http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2011/10/02/sharia-law-has-led-to-the-legislation-of-child-marriage-in-6-countries.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/29/world/middleeast/29marriage.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Personally I tend to stay away from the argument that Mohammed was, strictly speaking, a pedophile or a wife beater (it may be that he was no worse, or better than the average desert warlord at the time.) What I do conclude from this is that it seems that Allah made a horrible mistake if he encouraged Mohammed to marry Aisha, for the simple reason that this precedent has provided the justification for untold millions of child brides to be married off at an age that their body was not able to cope with the demands of sex and pregnancy.
Why didn’t Allah just tell Mohammed to stick with older women?
Wouldn’t this have meant we could have avoided so many millions of deaths in childbirth of immature girls married off far too young, and all with the blessing of their religious authorities and based on Mohammeds action?

4 Steven Carr February 8, 2015 at 12:06 am

Have Muslims now taken to denying the existence of certain Hadith?

They have taken to denying the existence of Islamic texts?

5 Ewan Duffy February 8, 2015 at 8:44 am

@Stephen Carr

They would just be following the example of Christian apologists in ignoring those bits of the Old Testament (most of it, really) that happen to be inconvenient for modern culture.

6 Steven Carr February 8, 2015 at 11:11 am

http://www.answering-christianity.com/karim/mistranslations_of_hadiths.htm

Turns out it wasn’t a strike in the chest after all.

It was a blessing.

Who would have guessed?

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