In this tweet, I point out how Muhammad smashing the idols in Mecca was a gross act of religious intolerance. We wouldn’t deem this acceptable behavior today.
Instead of asking non-Muslims to remove their idols so that they could continue worshiping them (freedom of religion), Muhammad smashes them pic.twitter.com/yUebjLy1or
— Reason on Faith (@ReasonOnFaith)
In fact this act of Muhammad’s and other statements in the Qur’an and Hadith give religious cover to the likes of ISIS who have destroyed many historical artifacts, including historical idols.
Growing up Muslim, we were taught that Abraham and his son Ishmael built the Kaaba as a house of worship, for the worship of Allah.
An Ahmadi Muslim and I had an exchange on Twitter exploring this some:
@ReasonOnFaith All Arabs believed in the same origin story of Kaaba. Hence it’s sanctity was paramount. Idols came and went.
— Lutf (@Lutfislam)
I have had cordial and constructive conversations on Twitter in the past with this Ahmadi Muslim, @Lutfislam. I sincerely appreciate his calm manner of dialog.
After tweeting at length, I realized that this episode of Muhammad taking over Mecca victorious and smashing the idols, deserved its own brief post for further exploration.
Revising History After the Fact
Taking over Arabia, Muslim historians can after-the-fact assert that the Kaaba was built by Abraham and meant for the worship of Allah.
If all Arabs knew this, why would they so boldly defile the place with idols for generations? It doesn’t add up. But this is actually beside the point.
It is similar to how Muslim historians like to paint pre-Islamic Arabia as “all bad” when in fact, in many ways, women enjoyed more freedom and autonomy in that period — Khadija being a prime example.
It’s historical revisionism. I didn’t question it when I was an Ahmadi Muslim either. But I humbly request that Ahmadi Muslims dig into the sources presented to them by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at.
Can you find a single non-Muslim source from the period (or pre-Islamic period) that vouches for this assertion that “All Arabs believed in the same origin story of Kaaba” — implying Abraham and Ishmael serving Allah?
This next tweet implies that since Abraham did something bold in smashing the idols of other people’s religions, that somehow, this excuses Muhammad should he do the same thing.
@ReasonOnFaith Kaaba was the holiest site for the progeny of Abraham defiled by idol worship. Abraham, smashed the idols of his ancestors.
— Lutf (@Lutfislam)
This is morality by fiat; It’s right because I said so!
How does this fit into the secular fabric of governance and human affairs, that Ahmadiyya Islam likes to portray as intrinsic to “True Islam“?
Note that I’m not disputing the perceived sanctity of the Kaaba at the time of Muhammad. I do question how much stock we can put in the Islamic claim that the Kaaba was originally built by the historical Abraham and Ishmael.
That said, the origin story is actually irrelevant to the core issue here regarding the freedom to practice one’s religion without having one’s religious idols smashed. Is that too much to ask of humanity’s ‘greatest’ example of virtue?
As a Muslim, you wouldn’t go into a Catholic church and smash a statue of Jesus, even if you were at war with Catholics and had just captured a Catholic stronghold, would you?
As a Muslim, you wouldn’t go into a Hindu temple and smash a statue of Ganesh, even if you were at war with Hindus and had just captured a Hindu stronghold, would you?
Why is smashing the idol of a pagan religion somehow acceptable?
Is it just because you believe that idol worship is beneath you? What of the fact that other people hold it sacred and that it is part of the fabric of their belief system?
The Perfect Example Misses a Key Opportunity
This incident only goes to prove that according to Islam and Muhammad, might is right.
Muhammad could have taken over the Kaaba and said:
Oh Pagan People of Mecca! You have 24 hours to remove your idols. What you leave behind I will consider abandoned and remove myself. Damage to the remaining idols may ensue.
You have a right to your religion. However, as we have taken over Mecca, I am reclaiming the Kaaba — the building — as a sacred Muslim mosque.
But because I believe in freedom of religion and worship, you may take your idols and relocate them to another shrine or location.
You will be allowed to freely worship them as you did before, because I believe that there is no compulsion in religion and that freedom of religion is paramount to a healthy secular society, which I wholeheartedly support.
We have verses ad nauseam in the Qur’an about the “disbelievers” — as if weighing the evidence and then choosing to reject Islam is somehow a crime. We have nothing in the sacred texts of Islam that describes how Muhammad preserved the religious idols of the Meccans so that they could freely continue to worship their idols at some other location.
And that’s because Muhammad didn’t make such a proclamation, sadly. How could the ‘perfect’ role model for humanity miss such a golden opportunity?
The Kaba in Mecca isn’t the only venue to consider in this vein. It gets even more interesting when we consider the Yemini Kaba which Muhammad approved the destruction of.
Shabir Ally Weighs In
In this short video, Shabir Ally, a respected Sunni Muslim scholar from Canada, weighs in. I applaud his desire to maintain that we must all respect each others right to the integrity of our physical religious artifacts.
What’s interesting here, is the elephant in the room. If Mecca had already converted to Islam upon Muhammad’s return in 630 AD, why did they themselves still have idols in the Kaba? Did they not find an earlier appointment for Two Men And A Truck to help them move the idols?
These explanations seem really desperate. Sadly, many Muslims fail to see what is staring them in the face as the most obvious explanation. To continue to cherry pick history and invent a context there is no basis for, over and over again, is to reconstruct a religion. It is revisionism, plain and simple.