Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun and Jochen Katz's Article, "Quran Difficulty: Should Muslims Show Kindness to Parents?"


Bassam Zawadi

Their article could be located here.

They argue that in one place, the Qur'an says that we must be kind to our parents even if they are disbelievers and that this contradicts the other verses in the Qur'an that state that we must hate them and not befriend them.

Regarding the issue of hate, we have already differentiated between the "natural" kinds of emotions and the "divine" kinds of emotions in this article.

One does not have to love someone to treat that someone justly and kindly. Love and hate have to do more with inward feelings and emotions, while treating someone kindly and justly has to do more with outward actions and behavior. One can hate someone, such as his boss, colleague, etc., and still treat the person with respect and dignity. There is nothing illogical or impossible about such a thing.

Nor do I have to be someone's companion (the issue is clarified here) to be in a peace treaty with that person or treat that person kindly. For example, I can be kind to an old man by helping him cross the street and not necessarily be his friend.

Thus, I see no logical contradiction in someone being kind to someone whom he does not love or is friends with.

They then proceed to present some examples in an attempt to show how some early Muslims went against their parents.

The first story that they bring up is:

They (the narrators) said: The Apostle of Allah sent a force under al-Dahhak Ibn Sufyan Ibn 'Awf Ibn Abu Bakr al-Kilabi, against al-Qurara. Al-Asyad Ibn Salamah Ibn Qart was with him. They encountered them at al-Zujj, the Zujj of Lawah and invited them to embrace Islam. They refused, so they attacked them and forced them to flee. Then al-Asyad met his father Salamah who was on his own horse, in a pond of al-Zujj. He invited his father to embrace Islam promising him amnesty. He (father) abused him and his creed. Consequently al-Asyad hamstrung the horse of his father. When the horse fell on his hoofs Salamah reclined on his spear in water. He (al-Asyad) held him till one of them (Muslims) came there and killed him. His son did not kill him. (Ibn Sa'ad's Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir, English translation by S. Moinul Haq, M.A., PH.D assisted by H.K. Ghazanfar M.A. [Kitab Bhavan Exporters & Importers, 1784 Kalan Mahal, Daryaganj, New Delhi - 110 002 India], Volume II, p. 201)

Then they argue:

Thus, Muhammad's religion destroys the relationship between Muslim convert children and their still non-Muslim parents.

In this case, the son puts before his own father the choice of embracing Islam now or death. He prevents his father from fleeing. The son is the direct cause that his father is killed by his fellow Muslims.

First of all, the chain of transmission for this story is weak.

It contains Abu Mawhoob Alkilaabi, who the scholars of hadith consider to be unknown (majhool). (See Al Jarh wal Ta'deel, Volume 3, page 507 & Meeazn al 'Itidaal, Volume 2, page 52).

The narration also contains Hayyan bin Abee Salma, which is also considered unknown. (See Al Jarh wal Ta'deel, Volume 3, page 247 & Meeazn al 'Itidaal, Volume 1, page 622).

Assuming that the narration is authentic, Al Asyad's father was siding with the Bani Kilaab tribe, which had conspired with the tribes of Bani Muhaarib and Bani Anmaar to attack the Muslims. Thus, his father was at war with the Muslims. He had to choose whom he was loyal to: his father or the Creator of his father.

Islam teaches us that justice should be implemented against anyone, even if it is someone's own family:

Surah 4:135

O ye who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for God can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily God is well-acquainted with all that ye do.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not make exceptions to implementing the laws of Allah, even in his own family:

Saheeh Muslim

Book 017, Number 4187:

A'isha reported that the Quraish had been anxious about the Makhzumi woman who had committed theft, and said: Who will speak to Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) about her? They said: Who dare it, but Usama, the loved one of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him)? So Usama spoke to him. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: Do you intercede regarding one of the punishments prescribed by Allah? He then stood up and addressed (people) saying: O people, those who have gone before you were destroyed, because if any one of high rank committed theft amongst them, they spared him; and it anyone of low rank committed theft, they inflicted the prescribed punishment upon him. By Allah, if Fatima, daughter of Muhammad, were to steal, I would have her hand cut off. In the hadith transmitted on the authority of Ibn Rumh (the words are):" Verily those before you perished."

Loyalty to the Creator of our parents is given more precedence than loyalty to them.

Islam gives a general command to Muslims to treat everyone with justice, but there are always exceptions to this rule (e.g., a war breaks out), even if they happen to be our own parents.

Letting religion take precedence over family is not something alien to Christianity, for the Biblical Jesus said:

Luke 14:26

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-yes, even his own life-he cannot be my disciple."

Notice how one must love Jesus more than anyone else. I find nothing wrong with this; however, the Biblical Jesus takes things to the extreme.

Following is a conversation that Jesus had with some people:

Luke 9:59-62

59He said to another man, "Follow me." 
      But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."

    60Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."

    61 Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family."

    62Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."

This is a very insensitive thing to do. Look at the cold-hearted reply Jesus gave to that man: "Let the dead bury their own dead"! We are talking about a man's father here! How can Jesus reply to him that way?

Also, Jesus didn't let that man go back and bid his family farewell. That person's family was probably worried sick, wondering where he went.

Jesus did not even allow these people to take a break for around an hour to attend to urgent family issues. He showed no open-mindedness or mercy to these people and did not bother trying to understand their situation.

Islam in no way teaches a person to go to such extreme levels. A person is not to abandon his family for purposes of evangelism, just like we see the Biblical Jesus has taught rather he is required to be moderate, as Sheikh Munajjid said:

It is not permissible for a Muslim to neglect his family even if he claims that he is traveling for the purpose of worship and righteous deeds. (Source)

Thus, we see that it is Islam and not Christianity that is moderate when it comes to one trying to balance between his family life and religious life.

If a Muslim's parents are going to fight him for his religion, then he is to fight them back. Would Christians argue that they won't fight back in self-defense if their parents were to fight them regarding their faith? Surely not.

Shamoun and Katz then refer to the story of Abdullah ibn Ubayy, which has already been addressed here.

In conclusion, the Answering Islam team (as usual) cannot level a successful critique of Islam and end up exposing the flaws found in their false religion.

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