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Asma bint Marwan

Asma bint Marwan

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ʻAṣmāʼ bint Marwān was a female member of the Ummayad clan who lived in Medina
Medina
Medina , or ; also transliterated as Madinah, or madinat al-nabi "the city of the prophet") is a city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, and serves as the capital of the Al Madinah Province. It is the second holiest city in Islam, and the burial place of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, and...

 in 7th century Arabia.

The story of her death by command of the Islamic prophet Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

, after she bitterly opposed him with poetry and provoked other pagans to commit violence against him, can be found in the sīra material
Sira
The sīrat rasūl allāh or al-sīra al-nabawiyya or just al-sīra, is the Arabic term used for the various traditional Muslim biographies of Muhammad from which, in addition to the Qur'an and Hadith, most historical information about his life and the early period of Islam is derived.-Etymology:In the...

 collected by Ibn Ishaq
Ibn Ishaq
Muḥammad ibn Isḥaq ibn Yasār ibn Khiyār was an Arab Muslim historian and hagiographer...

 and Ibn Sa'd. Bint Marwan also ridiculed the people of Medina for obeying a chief not of their kin. Ibn Ishaq mentions that she displayed disaffection after the Medinian Abu Afak was killed for inciting rebellion against Muhammad.

Some classical and post-classical hadith
Hadith
The term Hadīth is used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed either validly or invalidly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad....

 scholars such as Al-Albani, Majdi, and Al-Jawzi have rejected the story, with some declaring it as fabrication, pointing out in their arguments that the chains of transmission by which the story was transmitted are all weak.

Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad and Ellison Banks Findly point out the importance of poets at the time and suggest that Muhammad ordered the execution of poets such as bint Marwan and Abu Afak because he was concerned about their influence.

Family and death


The story of bint Marwan and her death appears in the works of Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Sa'd. According to the reports, her family viewed Muhammad and his followers as unwelcome interlopers in Medina. After the Muslim victory over the Quraish in Mecca in 624 in the Battle of Badr
Battle of Badr
The Battle of Badr , fought Saturday, March 13, 624 AD in the Hejaz region of western Arabia , was a key battle in the early days of Islam and a turning point in Muhammad's struggle with his opponents among the Quraish in Mecca...

 a number of Muhammad's opponents were killed after surrendering. She composed poems that publicly defamed the local tribesmen that converted to Islam and allied Muhammad and called for his death. In her poems, she also ridiculed Mediniens for obeying a chief not of their kin. Ibn Ishaq mentions that bint Marwan also displayed disaffection after the Medinan Abu Afak was killed for inciting rebellion against Muhammad. The poem said: "do you expect good from (Muhammad) after the killing of your chiefs" and asked: "Is there no man of pride who would attack him by surprise/ And cut off the hopes of those who expect aught from him?" Upon hearing the poem, Muhammad then allegedly called for her death in turn, saying "Who will rid me of Marwan's daughter?" Umayr bin Adiy al-Khatmi, a blind man belonging to the same tribe as Asma’s husband (i.e., Banu Khatma) responded that he would. He crept into her room in the dark of night where she was sleeping with her five children, her infant child close to her bosom. Umayr removed the child from Asma's breast and killed her.

Ibn Ishaq's account


Ibn Ishaq
Ibn Ishaq
Muḥammad ibn Isḥaq ibn Yasār ibn Khiyār was an Arab Muslim historian and hagiographer...

 collected oral traditions about the life of Muhammad, some of which mainly survive through the writings of Ibn Hisham
Ibn Hisham
Abu Muhammad 'Abd al-Malik bin Hisham , or Ibn Hisham edited the biography of Muhammad written by Ibn Ishaq. Ibn Ishaq's work is lost and is now only known in the recensions of Ibn Hisham and al-Tabari. Ibn Hisham grew up in Basra, Iraq, but moved afterwards to Egypt, where he gained a name...

 and Ibn Jarir al-Tabari.

Ibn Sa'd's account


This account is found in Ibn Sa'd's Kitāb al-ṭabaqāt al-Kubrā.

Hadith Scholar views on authenticity of the story


Some classical and post-classical hadith
Hadith
The term Hadīth is used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed either validly or invalidly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad....

 scholars have rejected the story, with some declaring it as fabrication (mawdu’), pointing out in their arguments against the factuality of the incident that the chains of transmission (isnads) by which the story was transmitted are all weak (daʻif).

Ibn Ishaq's narrative


Ibn Ishaq
Ibn Ishaq
Muḥammad ibn Isḥaq ibn Yasār ibn Khiyār was an Arab Muslim historian and hagiographer...

's Sīratu Rasūlu l-Lāh, an important early work of sīra
Sira
The sīrat rasūl allāh or al-sīra al-nabawiyya or just al-sīra, is the Arabic term used for the various traditional Muslim biographies of Muhammad from which, in addition to the Qur'an and Hadith, most historical information about his life and the early period of Islam is derived.-Etymology:In the...

, was composed over 100 years after the Prophet's death using oral traditions passed down from his early followers. However, its accuracy for use as hadith
Hadith
The term Hadīth is used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed either validly or invalidly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad....

, a body of traditions of the prophet that Muslim scholars use to flesh out Islamic doctrine, is not completely accepted. This particular story has been challenged by Muslim scholars for having a weak chain of transmission (that is, they deem it difficult to determine if the oral traditions can be traced precisely back to a witness of the events described during Muhammad's life).

Ibn Ishaq's version of the story has a number of chains of transmission (isnads) that go back to Ibn ‘Abbas, a companion of Muhammad. However, all those various isnads include Muhammad ibn al-Hajjaj al-Lakhmi:
Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Shami Muhammad ibn al-Hajjaj al-Lakhmi Mujalid ibn Sa’ed Al-Shu'abi Ibn ‘Abbas


Muhammad ibn al-Hajjaj al-Lakhmi has been accused by hadith scholars of fabricating this and other hadiths. Ibn ʻAdī (d. 976 CE) stated: "...this isnad (chain of reporters) is not narrated on authority of Mujalid but by Muhammad ibn al-Hajjaj al-Lakhmi and they all (other reporters in the chain) accuse Muhammad Ibn Al-Hajjaj of forging it". Ibn al-Jawzi
Abu'l-Faraj ibn al-Jawzi
Abu'l-Faraj ibn al-Jawzi from Bagdad was an Islamic scholar whose family traces their lineage back to that of Abu Bakr, the famous companion of the prophet Muhammad and first caliph...

 (d. 1201 CE) said something similar in his Al-'ilal.

Regarding Al-Lakhmi, Al-Bukhari
Muhammad al-Bukhari
Muhammad Ibn Ismail Ibn Ibrahim Ibn al-Mughirah Ibn Bardizbah al-Bukhari , popularly known as Bukhari or Imam Bukhari, , was a Sunni Islamic scholar of Persia...

 said: "his hadith is abandoned", Yahya ibn Ma'een said: "compulsive liar" and once said: "not trustworthy". Al-Daraqutni denounced him as a liar.

Ibn Sa'd's narrative


Al-Albani declared Ibn Sa'd's chain of transmission to be weak as well, as it includes Al-Waqidi
Al-Waqidi
Abu `Abdullah Muhammad Ibn ‘Omar Ibn Waqid al-Aslami , commonly referred to as al-Waqidi , was an early Muslim historian.He was born and educated in Medina...

:
Ibn Sa'd Al-Waqidi 'Abd Allah ibn al-Harith ibn al-Fudayl Al-Harith ibn al-Fudayl


Al-Waqidi has been condemned as an untrustworthy narrator and has been frequently and severely criticized by scholars, thus his narrations have been abandoned by the majority of hadith scholars. Yahya ibn Ma'een said: "Al-Waqidi narrated 20,000 false hadith about the prophet". Al-Shafi'i, Ahmad ibn Hanbal
Ahmad ibn Hanbal
Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Hanbal Abu `Abd Allah al-Shaybani was an important Muslim scholar and theologian. He is considered the founder of the Hanbali school of fiqh...

 and Al-Albani said: "Al-Waqidi is a liar" while Al-Bukhari said he didn't include a single letter by Al-Waqidi in his hadith works.

In addition, this isnad is discontinued (muʻḍal) as Al-Harith ibn al-Fudayl never met any of Muhammad's companions
Sahaba
In Islam, the ' were the companions, disciples, scribes and family of the Islamic prophet...

.

Contemporary Assessments


Richard Gottheil, and Hartwig Hirschfeld in Jewish Encyclopedia state: "Some Moslem traditionists, in order to excuse the murder, make Asma a Jewess. It is, however, very doubtful that she was one, although Grätz ("Gesch. der Juden," v. 144) accepts this assertion as a fact."

Richard Gabriel states that "Here we see assassination for political ends" and for "ideological reasons or personal revenge". Muhammad, according to Gabriel, believed he was doing God's work, therefore he had to eliminate any opponent of him or Islam.

V. J. Ridgeon sees the certain parallels between Khomeini's declaration of the fatwa
Fatwa
A fatwā in the Islamic faith is a juristic ruling concerning Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar. In Sunni Islam any fatwā is non-binding, whereas in Shia Islam it could be considered by an individual as binding, depending on his or her relation to the scholar. The person who issues a fatwā...

 against Salman Rushdie and the incident of Asma bint Marwan's execution.

Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad and Ellison Banks Findly point at the high influence of poets at the time Muhammad in Arabia. They state that exucations of poets such as Asma, Abu Afak, and those poets who were killed after Muhammad's final victory were the result of Muhammad's fears of "their continuing influence". "This constitutes interesting testimony of the power of their position, as well as of the recited words".

Antonio Elorza, historian and professor at Complutense University of Madrid, reviews Asma's execution and similar cases and suggests that eliminating political opponents by any and all means possible, was common practice during Muhammad's time. Elorza asserts that the psychological effect of such actions by Mohammad cannot be ignored when studying the background of terrorism in Islam.