Members of the Muslim community in Indiana were offended by a billboard that appeared along a highway in Indianapolis. A photo of the billboard was provided to the Indianapolis Star newspaper by Rima Shahid, who serves as executive director of the Muslim Association of Indiana. She captioned the photo: “This photo of a billboard insulting The Prophet Muhammad was taken Friday on I-465 South near the Washington Street exit.”

Muslim leaders in the region are calling out those responsible for the billboard for what they claim are untrue statements about Islam. They want the persons who put up the sign to shed their anonymity and explain themselves. According to the Indianapolis Star, Shahid said that displaying the sign is “cowardly.” She said that those who made the statement should “stand up” next to it. “I didn't think there was any room for hate in our city. This billboard tells me otherwise.” She said that the “rhetoric” of the sign instills division in the state.

The billboard featured the words “The Perfect Man," which surmounted six bullet points to describe that man. These points include "married a 6-year-old," "slave owner & dealer" and "13 wives, 11 at one time."

While the bottom of the sign are the words "Educate Truthophobes," there is no reference to Islam or Muhammad or Muslims. However, a search of Truthophobes online led to several groups critical of  political Islam.

According to Indianapolis Star, an outdoor advertising seller based in Virginia owns the billboard. Don Woodsmall is listed as the principal of LightPoint Impressions on the firm’s website. The newspaper said that Woodsmall said that a "group of patriotic Americans,” who had been denied advertising by national companies, had paid for the sign. He would not name the group, claiming that it had requested anonymity. In a statement, Woodsmall declared, "Their desire, born out of love and not hate, is to launch a national conversation."

Rima Shahid

 

Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN), who is one of two Muslims serving in the US House of Representatives said that the billboard is untrue and that author takes Islamic text and history out of context "just like Al-Qaeda, ISIS and the Klan do to religious texts to justify their bigotry." The criticism of the billboard was bipartisan. On Monday, US Senator Todd Young (R-IN), who has no specified religious affiliation, tweeted, “This is beneath us -- disturbing and divisive. Displays like this incite and offend rather than educate.”

Faryal Khatri, speaking for the Islamic Society of North America, said that the billboard is false and hurtful, and could inspire hate crimes against Muslims. Congressman Carson called citizens to "come together and say this is unacceptable," especially because of the upcoming "March Against Sharia," that is scheduled to occur in 23 American cities this weekend. A march is expected at Indiana’s state capitol in Indianapolis on June 10. It is organized by ACT for America. The group asserts that shariah [Islamic religious law] is incompatible with American values and the Constitution. “We stand against female genital mutilations and child marriages," state the details of the event.

The Quran, Muhammad, slavery, beheadings, and child brides

Muhammad and rape:

According to Qur’anic verse (4:24): “The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) sent a military expedition to Awtas on the occasion of the battle of Hunain. They met their enemy and fought with them. They defeated them and took them captives. Some of the Companions of the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) were reluctant to have intercourse with the female captives in the presence of their husbands who were unbelievers. So Allah, the Exalted, sent down the Qur’anic verse: (Sura 4:24) ‘And all married women (are forbidden) unto you save those (captives) whom your right hands possess.’" Muhammad’s wives At the end of his life, Muhammad had eleven wives at the same time. They were: Aisha bint Abi Bakr, Umm Salama Hind bint Umayaa, Hafsa bint Umar, Zaynab bint Jahsh, Rayhana bint Zayd, Juwayriyya bint al-Harith, Ramla bint Abi Sufyan, Safiyya bint Huyayy, Maymuna bint al-Harith, Maria al Qibtiyya. The last wife name was a Christian.

According to one of the sources about Muhammad’s life most trusted by Muslims, Anas bin Malik, "’The Prophet used to visit all his wives in a round, during the day and night and they were eleven in number.’" I asked Anas, ‘Had the Prophet the strength for it?’ Anas replied, ‘We used to say that the Prophet was given the strength of thirty (men).’ And Sa'id said on the authority of Qatada that Anas had told him about nine wives only (not eleven).” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 5, Number 268).

However, there are some Muslim traditions that hold that magic was worked on Muhammad to allow him to merely think that he had had sexual relations at an advanced age with all of his wives, thus casting doubt on other claims made by the Quran. His other wives included Khadija bint Khuwaylid and Zaynab bint Khuzayma. Concubines and others are not included in the count. The collective grave of Muhammad's wives is located at the Al-Baqi Cemetery in Medina, Saudi Arabia.

Beheading and enslavement of Jews:

Muhammad and his companions besieged the Banu Qurayza, a Jewish tribe, for 25 days in 627 AD until they surrendered. Once they surrendered, Muhammad considered what to do with them. Consulting his companion Sa'd ibn Mu'adh, the verdict was reached that all the men and adolescent boys should be killed, while the women and children were taken as slaves. Their property was taken and divided. Muhammad approved of the ruling by which nearly all male members of the tribe who had reached puberty were beheaded. According to Muslim jurist Tabari, the number of executed male Jews ranges from 600 to 900. In addition, a Jewish woman was beheaded because she mocked the Muslims. According to Ibn Kathir, Quranic verses 33:26-27 and 33:9-10 are about the attack against the Banu Qurayza.

From Quran: Verse 33:26 “Allah brought down from their fortresses those People of the Book who had supported the invading confederates and cast such terror into their hearts that some of them you kill and some of them you take captive.”

Verse 33:27 “Allah made you inherit their land, their dwellings, and their goods, and a piece of land on which you had not yet trodden. Verily Allah has power over all things.”

Slavery:

According to the Quran, Verse 33:50: "O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those (slaves) whom thy right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to thee." Verse 4:24: "And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess." Verse 24:32: "And marry those among you who are single and those who are fit among your male slaves and your female slaves..." History demonstrates that Muslims, both Arab and non-Arab have been engaged in slavery for more than 1000 years. Muslim slave raiders swept through Africa, taking black Africans for forced labor elsewhere in the Muslim world. Muslim slavers raided the shores of Mediterranean countries such as Spain, Greece, and Italy for centuries, while they also went as far as England and The Netherlands in search of slaves. The United States sent Marines ashore at Tripoli in North Africa in the early 1800s to punish slavers and free enslaved Americans and Europeans. In medieval Spain, an order of priests and religious -- the Mercedarians -- were founded to collect money to free captives and slaves held by Muslims or even offer themselves in exchange.

Child brides:

Aisha was Muhammad’s third, youngest, and favorite wife. She is believed to have been six years old at the time of her marriage to the founder of Islam. However, it is also asserted by Muslim scholars that the marriage was not consummated until she was at least nine or ten years of age. In September 2013, Yemeni newspaper Al Watan reported that an eight-year-old girl died of internal bleeding caused by traumatic vaginal injuries on her wedding night to an adult man.

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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