Rebuttal to Silas's Article "MUHAMMAD AND THE DEATH OF KINANA"


Bassam Zawadi

This article is in response to 

Silas said:

The oldest extant biography of Muhammad is called the "Sirat Rasulallah" - "Life of the Prophet of Allah".  This book was written by Ibn Ishaq, a devout Muslim scholar, and later revised by Ibn Hisham.  It was written before any of the major works of Hadith.  It is considered the most authentic biography of Muhammad.  It was translated into English by A. Guillaume as "The Life of Muhammad".

  page 515 reads:

 "Kinana al-Rabi, who had the custody of the treasure of Banu Nadir, was brought to the apostle who asked him about it.  He denied that he knew where it was.  A Jew came (Tabari says "was brought"), to the apostle and said that he had seen Kinana going round a certain ruin every morning early.  When the apostle said to Kinana, "Do you know that if we find you have it I shall kill you?"  He said "Yes".  The apostle gave orders that the ruin was to be excavated and some of the treasure was found.  When he asked him about the rest he refused to produce it, so the apostle gave orders to al-Zubayr Al-Awwam, "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, in revenge for his brother Mahmud."  

My Response:

Many anti-Islamics have used this incident of the torture of Kinana to attack the integrity of the Prophet. When I first read about it, I myself was quite shocked that the Prophet would torture someone just because of some treasure. 

Indeed, Islam teaches us that treatment of the prisoners of war is a must. For the evidence, you can read the following:

Now, back to the Kinana issue. The source of this story is invalid—not because the source is weak, but because there is no source!

Having left Medina and settled at Khaibar, the Banu Nadir started hatching a wide-spread conspiracy against Islam. Their leaders, Sallam Ibn Abi-al Huqauaiq, Huyayy Ibn Akhtab, Kinana al-Rabi and others came to Mecca, met the Quraish and told them that Islam could be destroyed." (Allama Shibli Nu'Mani, Sirat-Un-Nabi, volume II, p 106)

This goes to show that Kinana was a war criminal. Let's read on:

" While describing the battle of Khaibar, the history writers have committed a serious blunder in reporting a totally baseless report, which has become a common place. It is said that the Prophet ( Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had granted amnesty to the Jews on condition that they would not hide anything. When Kinana Ibn Rabi' refused to give any clue to the hidden treasures, the Prophet ( peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) ordered Zubair to adopt stern measures to force a disclosure. Zubair branded his chest with a hot flint again and again, till he was on the point of death. At last he ordered Kinana to be put to death and all the Jews were made slaves.

The whole truth in the story is that Kinana was put to death. But it was not for his refusal to give a clue to the hidden treasure. He was put to death because he had killed Mahmud Ibn Maslama (also Muslima). Tabari had reported it in unambiguous words: " Then the Holy Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) gave Kinana to Muhammad Ibn Maslama (Muslima), " and he put him to death in retaliation of the murder of his own brother, Mahmud Ibn Maslama (Muslima)."

In the rest of the report, both Tabari and Ibn Hisham have quoted it from Ibn Ishaq, but Ibn Ishaq does not name any narrator. Traditionalists, in books on Rijal, have explicitly stated that Ibn Ishaq used to borrow from the Jews stories concerning the battle of the Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). As Ibn Ishaq does not mention the name of any narrator whatsoever in this case, there is every likelihood of the story of having been passed on by the Jews.

That a man should be tortured with burns on his chest by the sparks of a flint is too heinous a deed for a Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who had earned for himself the title of Rahma'lil Alamin (Mercy for all the worlds). After all, did he not let the woman who had sought to poison him go scot free? Who would expect such a soul to order human body to be so burnt for the sake of a few coins.

As a matter of fact, Kinana Ibn Rabi Ibn al-Huquaiq had been granted his life on the condition that he would never break faith or make false statements. He had also given his word, according to one of the reports, that if he did anything to the contrary, he could be put to death. Kinana played false, and the immunity granted to him was withdrawn. He killed Mahmud Ibn Maslama (Muslima) and had, therefore to suffer for it, as we have already stated on the authority of Tabari." (Allama Shibli Nu'Mani, Sirat-Un-Nabi, volume II, p 173-174) 

As we can see, there is no evidence whatsoever for this story of Kinana because no narration or source is given. It was contrary to the teachings of the Quran and the Prophet's character. Therefore, Christians have to stop using this argument against the glorious Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).



Shamoun responds to my article over here. He argues that there is an authentic hadith in Sunan Abu Dawud that shows that Kinana was tortured for treasure. He said before posting it:


Finally, and more importantly, one particular hadith provides substantiation that the torture of Kinana over the treasure actually happened:


And after he posted it, he said:


Thus, we have one of the most trusted collections of hadiths corroborating this story of Muhammad torturing and killing Kinana for withholding information regarding the whereabouts of the money purse.


Shamoun, the King and Master of everyone who has a reading comprehension problem, said the above statements after reading the following hadith: 

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Umar:

The Prophet fought with the people of Khaybar, and captured their palm-trees and land, and forced them to remain confined to their fortresses. So they concluded a treaty of peace providing that gold, silver and weapons would go to the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him), and whatever they took away on their camels would belong to them, on condition that they would not hide and carry away anything. If they did (so), there would be no protection for them and no treaty (with Muslims).

They carried away a purse of Huyayy ibn Akhtab who was killed before (the battle of) Khaybar. He took away the ornaments of Banu an-Nadir when they were expelled.

The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) asked Sa'yah: Where is the purse of Huyayy ibn Akhtab?

He replied: The contents of this purse were spent on battles and other expenses. (Later on) they found the purse. So he killed Ibn AbulHuqayq, captured their women and children, and intended to deport them. They said: Muhammad, leave us to work on this land; we shall have half (of the produce) as you wish, and you will have half. The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) used to make a contribution of eighty wasqs of dates and twenty wasqs of wheat to each of his wives. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 19, Number 3000)

Where on earth does it say that Kinana was tortured for treasure? Nowhere does it say this. Also, where does it say that the main reason for Kinana being killed was because he "merely" hid treasure? It does not say that. Let us read the hadith again while I emphasize in bold the important parts: 

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Umar:

The Prophet fought with the people of Khaybar, and captured their palm-trees and land, and forced them to remain confined to their fortresses. So they concluded a treaty of peace providing that gold, silver and weapons would go to the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him), and whatever they took away on their camels would belong to them, on condition that they would not hide and carry away anything. If they did (so), there would be no protection for them and no treaty (with Muslims).

They carried away a purse of Huyayy ibn Akhtab who was killed before (the battle of) Khaybar. He took away the ornaments of Banu an-Nadir when they were expelled.

The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) asked Sa'yah: Where is the purse of Huyayy ibn Akhtab?

He replied: The contents of this purse were spent on battles and other expenses. (Later on) they found the purse. So he killed Ibn AbulHuqayq, captured their women and children, and intended to deport them. They said: Muhammad, leave us to work on this land; we shall have half (of the produce) as you wish, and you will have half. The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) used to make a contribution of eighty wasqs of dates and twenty wasqs of wheat to each of his wives. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 19, Number 3000) 

Based on the above hadith, we see the following facts:


-  The Muslims and the Jews at Khaybar were already at war (*).

-  The Muslims and the Jews agreed to a peace treaty that ended the war.

-  The peace treaty stated that the Jews must not hide any treasure from the Muslims; otherwise, this would be considered a violation of the treaty.

-  If the treaty is broken, then that means that the other party is a war combatant who must be fought and killed.

-  Kinana broke the treaty by hiding the treasure unjustifiably due to greed.

-   Kinana was treated as a war combatant because he violated one of the conditions of the peace treaty.

-  War combatants are to be killed.

-  Kinana knew that what he would do would lead to his death if he were to get caught. No one forced him to lie or to be greedy. It was his choice.

-  Kinana's death was justifiable.


So, the main reason for the killing of Kinana (putting aside the fact that he was already guilty of murder) was not merely over money. Rather, it was due to him becoming a war combatant after breaking a peace treaty. His concealment of the money violated the peace treaty, which then led to his death. It's not like the Muslims just went around confiscating people's money for no reason. Shamoun is making it out to be that Muslims were just greedy for money and would kill anyone that stood in their way, while that is not the case at all. 

Shamoun said: 

Third, there is no evidence that Ibn Ishaq took this story over from the Jews. This is merely conjecture on the part of the Muslim writer. 

So, where did he take it from? The burden of proof is on Shamoun to show the story has come from reliable sources. I am not arguing that it came from the Jews, but that still doesn't change the fact that we don't know where it came from.


Shamoun said:


Fourth, even if this report did originate from the Jews, Zawadi's source erroneously assumes that this automatically calls the event into question. But why should that be the case? Why shouldn't we assume the exact opposite, that the Jews would be able to more accurately and honestly recount the atrocities committed against them by Muhammad than would the Muslims? It is equivalent to saying that stories from the Jews regarding the atrocities they experienced during the holocaust should not be trusted since this is nothing more than Isra'iliyat propaganda!


Every case is examined individually. The evidence for the holocaust is absolutely overwhelming, while the evidence for Kinana's torture is not even considered to be mildly good. Shamoun is committing nothing more than the fallacy of false analogy. The main point that must be understood is that we don't know where the story came from; hence, we can't be sure of its reliability.


Furthermore, in Islam we would accept Jewish testimony just for the mere fact that they are Jewish. Two examples would suffice to prove this point:


A man named Ta'ima stole an armored suit from Qataada, his neighbor. Qataada had hidden the armor inside a flour sack, so when Ta'ima took it, the flour leaked out of the sack through a hole, leaving a trail up to his house.  Ta'ima then left the armor in the care of a Jewish man named Zayed, who kept it in his house to conceal his crime.  Thus, when the people searched for the stolen armor, they followed the trail of flour to Ta'ima's house but did not find it there.  When confronted, he swore to them he had not taken it and knew nothing about it.  The people helping the owner also swore that they had seen him breaking into Qataada's house at night and had subsequently followed the tell-tale trail of flour, which had led them to his house.  Nevertheless, after hearing Ta'ima swear he was innocent, they left him alone. They looked for further clues, finally finding a thinner trail of flour leading to the house of Zayed, so they arrested him.

The Jewish man told them that Ta'ima had left the armor with him, and some Jewish people confirmed his statement.  The tribe to which Ta'ima belonged sent some of their men to the Messenger of God to present his side of the story and asked them to defend him.  The delegation was told, 'If you do not defend our clansman, Ta'ima, he will lose his reputation and be punished severely, and the Jew will go free.'  The Prophet was subsequently inclined to believe them and was about to punish the Jewish man when God revealed the following verses of the Quran to vindicate the Jew. 

Surah 4:105-109

"Indeed, We have revealed to you, (O Muhammad), the Book in truth so you may judge between the people by that which God has shown you.  And do not be an advocate for the deceitful.  And seek forgiveness of God.  Indeed, God is ever Forgiving and Merciful.  And do not argue on behalf of those who deceive themselves.  Indeed, God loves not one who is a habitually sinful deceiver.  They conceal [their evil intentions and deeds] from the people, but they cannot conceal [them] from God, and He is with them (in His knowledge) when they spend the night in such as He does not accept of speech.  And God ever is encompassing of what they do.  Here you are - those who argue on their behalf in [this] worldly life - but who will argue with God for them on the Day of Resurrection, or who will [then] be their representative?" 

See Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Jalalayn, Qurtubi and Tabari. 

These verses continue to be recited by Muslims today as a reminder that justice must be served for all.

Once, a dispute arose between Ali bin Ali Talib, who was the Caliph, and a Jewish man who went to Judge Shuray al-Kindi.  Shuray tells the details of what happened:

"Ali found he was missing a suit of mail, so he went back to Kufa and found it in the hands of a Jewish man who was selling it in the market.  He said, 'O Jew! That suit of mail is mine!  I did not give it away or sell it!'

The Jew responded, 'It is mine.  It is in my possession.'

Ali said, 'We will have the judge rule on this for us.'

So they came to me and Ali sat next to me and said, 'That suit of mail is mine; I did not give it away or sell it.'

The Jew sat before me and said, 'That is my suit of mail.  It is in my possession.'

I asked, 'O Commander of the Faithful, do you have any proof?'

'Yes,' Ali said. 'My son Hasan and Qanbar can testify that it is my suit of mail.'

I said, 'Commander of the Faithful, the testimony of a son in his father's favor is not admissible in court.'

Ali exclaimed, 'How Perfect is God!  You cannot accept the testimony of a man who has been promised Paradise?  I heard the Messenger of God saying that Hasan and Husain are the princes of the youth in Paradise.' (Al-Tirmidhi) 

The Jewish man said:


'The Commander of the Faithful takes me before his own judge and the judge rules in my favor against him!  I bear witness that no one deserves worship except God and that Muhammad is His Messenger [the Jewish man accepted Islam], and that the suit of armor is yours, Commander of the Faithful.  You dropped it at night and I found it.' (Abu Bakr Hayyan, Tarikh al-Qudat, Volume 2, p. 200) 


Shamoun said:


In this case, the Muslims were the victors, the Jews the victims. Why would Zawadi believe that the version of the victors is more credible than the version told by the victims? Currently, in Israel the Jews have the upper hand over the Muslims. And to every incident there are two stories. Should we believe the victors or the victims? Why? Or is Zawadi claiming that in any case, the Muslims are stating the truth and the Jews are lying no matter what they say, and no matter who was strong and who was weak in this event?


Anyone who reads history and watches the videos on TV can know very well who the victims of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict are. But because Christianity isn't that peaceful religion, which many people make it out to be, we have millions of evangelicals supporting the state of Israel and using the Bible to do so as well. I hope that Christianity is being distorted by Christians today and that it really doesn't teach this violence. But when I see well-respected Christian scholars such as Dr. William Lane Craig and Professor Kenneth Richard Samples supporting the state of Israel and they are well-respected authorities of the Christian faith, what am I then to think of Christianity?


Shamoun then brings up the issue of the Jewess who poisoned the Prophet's sheep. He argues that the narrations seem to contradict each other on whether the Prophet (peace be upon him) had her killed or not. There is no contradiction. What happened was that once the Prophet (peace be upon him) found out she put the poison, he forgave her. However, what happened was that later on after some time the poison ended up killing the Prophet's companion. When that occurred, the Prophet (peace be upon him) had her killed for murder in retaliation.


Shamoun has a problem with this reconciliation and says: 

  • If Muhammad didn't kill the Jewess then this means that the heirs of Bishr received no satisfaction for the death of their loved one.
  • If she was killed then this means Muhammad wasn't being as merciful as he could have been, and failed to live up to his description as "Mercy for all worlds", since he could have demanded that the family of Bishr relinquish their right to justice and they would have obliged. This would have been much more merciful per Muhammad's own instructions in the Quran.
  • Yet by forgiving her without demanding retribution would mean that Muhammad failed to maintain the balance between justice and mercy, righteousness and compassion.

We agree with the first and third points above but not the second.


First of all, Muhammad (peace be upon him) had no right to demand the family of Bishr to forgive the Jewess. It is exclusively their right and their decision. Muhammad (peace be upon him) had no authority to intervene and overrule God's law at this point.


Secondly, Shamoun thinks that if Muhammad (peace be upon him) were to punish people for their crimes, then that would negate the notion that he was sent as a mercy to people. To always forgive people for heinous crimes for no valid reason is not mercy, rather it is stupidity and injustice. The Prophet (peace be upon him) forgave at times and implemented justice at times. He knew when to balance between the two. He couldn't always be forgiving, for this would put the Muslims in a weak position and make them vulnerable to more attacks by their enemies. Neither did he always punish people, as is evident by his forgiving the Bedouin who tried to kill him (Saheeh Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 49, Number 458), forgave the one who murdered his uncle (Saheeh Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 399), the people of Mecca when he conquered them (Saheeh Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 3, Number 112), except with very few exceptions, etc.


Indeed Islam is the religion of moderation. We don't need bloodthirsty murderers as we see the false God of the Old Testament ordering people to be, and we don't need cowards who would just turn the other cheek as we see the false God of the New Testament trying to teach people to do. Rather, we need Islam that is moderate and balances between justice and mercy.


Shamoun dared to say:


Sidenote: This assumes that the Jewess was wrong for what she did to Muhammad and deserved to be punished, when the reality is that she was simply seeking just retribution against a tyrant who harassed and murdered her family and people.


How dare he utter the above words? If Christianity disagrees with Shamoun's statement above, then Shamoun should reconsider what he said. If Christianity does agree, then this goes to show that Shamoun's religion orders people to act like they are peaceful and loving people who obey their authorities despite them oppressing them (assuming Muhammad oppressed the Jews), but deep down inside, Christians bear hatred for people and would resort to violence and anarchy. We will let Shamoun tell us what Christianity teaches on this issue.


The Jewess did not say that she poisoned the Prophet (peace be upon him) because he oppressed her. She said that she did it to test his Prophethood.


Secondly, we challenge Shamoun to show us a single instance where the Prophet (peace be upon him) fought the Jews unless they were planning to kill him first. If he killed his enemies first, does that mean he is to be blamed? What is this reasoning? Just because the Jewess said that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had her father killed, is that evidence that he was killed unjustly? Well of course not. We challenge Shamoun to show us the injustice.


Shamoun concludes his discussion by saying: 

  • Since Muslims believe that Allah is the most merciful and that Muhammad was a mercy for creation why didn't the Islamic deity do the more merciful thing and spare Kinana such pain and suffering?

Let us be consistent and ask why Allah and Muhammad (peace be upon him) wouldn't forgive everyone for every crime. Where do we draw the line when we should forgive? If we were to put someone in jail for robbery, for instance, wouldn't this be considered cruel? Should we forgive the robber so that we can be merciful? Shamoun needs to learn how to balance between mercy and justice.


Also, why wasn't the Father merciful to the Son and not let him get crucified and tortured? Why didn't the Father spare the Son such pain and suffering? Shamoun will reply with some twisted (and pretty sick, I might add) logic to justify this and try to make it sound nice, but he wouldn't allow his logic to try and understand how the Prophet's decision regarding Kinana was fair. Indeed, double standards.


Secondly, the Prophet (peace be upon him) made it crystal clear to Kinana that he would be killed if they found the treasure. The Prophet (peace be upon him) gave him a chance to spare his life even after breaking the peace treaty and even after lying to them about where the treasure was, yet Kinana insisted. So whose fault was that?

  • If Muhammad was truly a prophet then why didn't Allah bother to reveal to him the exact location of the treasure? After all, if such a man was receiving supernatural information from the one above the seven heavens who knows all things then why couldn't he figure out where the wealth of al-Nadir lay buried?

I think Shamoun was rushing when he was typing the above. If Shamoun is somehow trying to argue that if there is a man who is trying to know something and hasn't received revelation from God regarding the knowledge of that thing, thus this proves that this man is not a prophet, then this would be disastrous for Shamoun. There is no point in us picking out examples from the Bible where Prophets wanted to know certain things, but God didn't inform them.


Our simple response is this:


Allah didn't need to reveal this knowledge to the Prophet (peace be upon him) by revelation because Allah already knew that the Prophet (peace be upon him) would eventually find out where the treasure was. Furthermore, Allah predestined that Kinana's fate would be the way it was for his crimes, and there is no reason to believe that Allah would have wanted it any other way.


Secondly, even if the Prophet (peace be upon him) did receive revelation regarding where the treasure was, Kinana would still have been killed for withholding the information (because the Prophet would then have found out where the treasure was by revelation, not from Kinana) and breaking the peace treaty.

  • Couldn't Allah have even used such supernatural insight to lead Kinana to believe that Muhammad was a prophet and therefore convert to Islam?

Ha! Why can't the God of Christianity and Islam do that for ALL PEOPLE, then? Well, it is because we believe in the free will of the human being.


Plus, what is so special about Kinana? It was his greed that made him hide the treasure from the Prophet (peace be upon him). All he had to do was not be greedy and stick to the peace treaty, and he would have been okay. But he didn't. But again, in the eyes of the missionaries such as Shamoun, it has to be Muhammad's (peace be upon him) fault. They hate the fact that they know that it was Kinana's fault, but their hatred for Islam won't allow them to admit it, and they have to find a way to blame the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

  • So why didn't Allah choose the better thing and reveal the whereabouts of the treasure when this would have provided supernatural verification for Muhammad's prophetic claims and displayed mercy to a person who (according to Muslims) did not deserve to be shown kindness?  

What are all these questions supposed to prove? I don't know why God chooses to do what He does. We don't know the wisdom behind all of God's actions, just as one Christian rightly states:


Whatever the case, God has His purpose...and it is not always for us to know or understand. (, Why did God take Enoch and Elijah to Heaven without them dying?, Source) 


Allah probably thought that Kinana deserved what he got for breaking the treaty, being a liar, and committing murder. So Allah didn't want Kinana to be guided. Allah did choose "the better thing" by allowing this war criminal to be killed to make an example of him to the others to not mess with the Muslims and to strengthen their image. This eventually led to the protection of the Muslim people because it hindered people from intimidating them.


Again, there is nothing special about Kinana. If we say that Allah should have intervened for Kinana's sake, then why not for everyone else? Why doesn't Shamoun's God guide me - Bassam Zawadi - by providing me with supernatural insight and convincing me of the truth of Christianity, besides continuing to make it clear to me that Christianity is a false religion because the Bible contains glaring daylight mistakes and we aren't absolutely sure of who wrote the majority of the Bible? Why does Shamoun's God continue to deceive me into making me think that Islam is the pure monotheistic faith that appeals to one's natural disposition and making it appear to me that the Trinity teaches nothing but polytheism? WHY? WHY? WHY? When do all these questions end? What is the point of asking these questions? They prove nothing. Shamoun's questions display nothing more than the fallacy of appeal to ignorance.


Even if we are willing to grant that Kinana was tortured before he was killed, this still does nothing to disprove Muhammad's (peace be upon him) prophethood. Torture could be justifiable in certain contexts, but this is a debate for another topic. 


At the end of the day, Shamoun's got nothing. 


Recommended Reading Addressing Some of the Points that Shamoun Raised That Were off Topic

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