I thought it might be useful for the readers here to know and understand where the cause of Muslim angst stems from. Obviously they are angry about the depictions of their Prophet, but lets go back to the Islamic sources to see how this fanatical passion for the "sanctity" of their prophet developed, and how it was utilised in the time of Muhammad himself. I hope this will be of interest to some of you.
1. Belief in the Prophet
The believers are only those who have believed in God and His Apostle… [Qur'an, 24:62].
As is well known, one's entry into Islam is made by saying the shahada (testimony of faith): "I testify that there is no God but Allah (that should be enough for pure monotheism, but it is backed by:) and I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah."
A Muslim cannot say he is a Muslim unless he testifies to Muhammad's role of being Allah's Messenger. Believing in one God is not enough - he must also believe in Muhammad as being special, chosen, holy, divinely inspired, the last in a long chain of prophets and messengers and the messenger for all humankind until the last day.
2. Love for the Prophet
Belief in Muhammad is not enough for perfect faith. A Muslim must love Muhammad even more than his own family and possessions. The Qur'an says:
"Say: 'If your fathers or your sons or your brothers or your wives or your tribe, or any wealth you have acquired, or any business you fear may slump, or any dwelling-places which please you, are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger and fighting hard in jihad in His Way, then wait until Allah brings about His command.'" [9:25]
And yes, this applies today some 1400 years after his death.
From the hadith we get:
"None of you truly believes until I am more beloved to him than his father, his child and all of mankind." [Bukhari and Muslim]
And also Umar ibn al Khattab said to Allah's Messenger: "O Messenger of Allah! You are more beloved to me than anything except my own self." Muhammad relplied: "No, by the One in Whose Hand is my soul, not until I am more beloved to you than your own soul." `Umar then told him, "By Allah, now you are more beloved to me than my own soul." Muhammad then said: "That's it!" (Meaning that now Umar had the complete and correct faith. [Bukhari and Muslim]
The famous scholar Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali divided the love of Muhammad into two categories. I quote:
The first level is obligatory. This is the love that requires one to accept whatever the Messenger sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam brought from Allah and to receive it with love, pleasure, esteem and submission, without seeking guidance from any other source whatsoever. This is then followed by excellent following of him in whatever he conveyed from his Lord and to affirm whatever he has reported of obligations, to remain away from anything he has prohibited of forbidden acts, to give support for his religion and to strive against those who oppose him according to one's ability. All of this are necessary components that one must possess and a person's Faith is not complete without them.
The second level is superior [and not an absolutely necessary component of Faith]. This type of love requires following his example in an excellent way and fulfilling the following of his Sunnah with respect to his behavior, manners, voluntary deeds, superogatory actions, eating, drinking, dressing, excellent behaviour with his wives and other aspects of his perfect manners and pure behavior. It also includes learning about his life and days. It also includes the heart trembling when mentioning him, saying prayers and blessings upon him often out of what resides in the heart of love for him, esteem for him and respect for him. It also includes loving to listen to his words and preferring them over the words of others of the creation. And one of the greatest aspects of this love is to follow him in his abstinence of this world, his being suffices with a little and his turning to and desiring of the everlasting Hereafter.
3. Following the Messenger
Once "true love" for the Prophet is in a Muslim's heart, he will want to emulate him in everything he did, as this is required for a Muslim who wants Allah to love him. The Qur'an says:
"Say (O Muhammad , to mankind): 'If you love Allah, follow me; Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.'" [3:31]
"He who obeys the Messenger has indeed obeyed Allah." [4:80]
"Indeed in the Messenger of Allah, you have a good example to follow for him who hopes for (the meeting with) Allah and the Last Day." [33:21]
Everything is recorded in Islamic literature (the hadith collections) as to how Muhammad lived his life. How he brushed his teeth, how he slept, how he ate, how he grew his beard, how he put on his clothes, how he slept with his wives, how he went to the toilet, how he washed etc. right up till how he governed a state, distributed goods, organized armies etc.
So a Muslim has this uncreated image of the Prophet in his mind at all times and his subconscious starts to work at the level of: What would Muhammad do now? How did Muhammad do this or that? He essentially becomes a walking replica of Muhammad to the best of his ability.
Belief, love and varying degrees of obedience and emulation of Muhammad have taken over his whole being. He is ready for the next step:
4. Defending the Prophet
"Those who harm the Messenger of Allah have a painful punishment" [9:61]
"You will not find a people who believe in Allah and the Last Day loving those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, even though they be their fathers, or their sons or their brethren or their clan. As for such, He has written faith upon their hearts and has strengthened them with a Spirit from Him, and He will bring them into Gardens underneath which rivers flow wherein they will abide. Allah is well pleased with them and they are well pleased with Him. They are Allah's party . Lo! is it not Allah's party who are the successful?" [58:22]
Muhammad said: "Whoever curses a Prophet, kill him. Whoever curses my Companions, beat him." [Tabarani and Daraqutni]
In following the Prophet, we will why the pious Muslims today emulate him even in murder. Here are some of his less well-known actions which he took against people who mocked or insulted him.
I will reproduce a chapter from a book succinctly known as "Ash-Shifa" by an early Islamic scholar and judge (Qadi) Iyad al-Yahsubi. It is lengthy but sufficient in its brutal detail. I'll provide more links at the end. There are footnotes right throughout this, so here's the link . The article is below for convenience.
The Qur'an says that Allah curses the one who harms the Prophet in this world and He connected harm of Himself to harm of the Prophet. There is no dispute that anyone who curses Allah is killed and that his curse demands that he be categorised as an unbeliever. The judgement of the unbeliever is that he is killed.
Allah says, "Those who harm Allah and His Messenger, Allah has cursed them in this world and in the Next, and has prepared for them a humiliating punishment." (33:57). He said something similar about those who kill the believers. Part of the curse on them in this world is that they are killed. Allah says, "Cursed they will be. Wherever they are found, they are seized and all slain." (33: 61) He mentions the punishment of those who fight, "That is humiliation in this world for them." (5:45) "Killing" (qatl) can have the meaning of "curse". Allah says, "May the conjecturers be killed!" (51:11) and "May Allah fight them! How they are perverted!" (9:30) i.e. may Allah curse them.
This is because there is a difference between their harming Allah and His Messenger and harming the believers. Injuring the believers, short of murder, incurs beating and exemplary punishment. The judgement against those who harm Allah and His Prophet is more severe - the death penalty.
Allah says, "No, by your Lord, they will not believe until they have you judge between them in what they disagree about." (4:65) He removes the badge of belief from those who find an impediment in themselves against accepting the Prophet’s judgement and do not submit to him. Anyone who disparages him is opposing his judgement.
Allah says, "O you who believe, do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet and be not loud in your speech to him as you are loud to one another lest your actions fail." (49:3). Such an action only comes about through disbelief and the unbeliever is killed.
Allah says, "When they come to you, they greet you with a greeting which Allah never greeted you with." Then He says, "Jahannam (Hell) is enough for them, an evil homecoming." (58:9)
Allah says, "Among them are those who harm the Prophet and say that he is all ear," (9:61) and, "Those who harm the Messenger of Allah have a painful punishment." (9:63)
Allah says, "If you ask them, they will say, 'We were only plunging and playing.' Say, 'What, were you then mocking Allah, His signs and His Messenger? Make no excuses. You have disbelieved after your belief."' (9:67-68.) The commentators say, "You have disbelieved" refers to what they have said about the Messenger of Allah.
We have already mentioned the consensus. As for the traditions, al-Husayn ibn 'Ali related from his father that the Messenger of Allah said in respect of this matter, "Whoever curses a Prophet, kill him. Whoever curses my Companions, beat him."
In a sound hadith the Prophet commanded that Ka'b ibn al-Ashraf be killed. He asked, "Who will deal with Ka'b ibn al-Ashraf? He has harmed Allah and His Messenger." He sent someone to assassinate him without calling him to Islam, in distinction to other idol-worshippers. The cause of that lay in his causing harm to the Prophet. That indicates that the Prophet had him killed for something other than idol-worship. It was for causing harm.
Abu Rafi,' who used to harm the Messenger of Allah and work against him, was also killed.
Similarly on the Day of the Conquest, he ordered the killing of Ibn Khatal and his two slavegirls who used to sing his curses on the Prophet.
In another hadith about a man who used to curse the Prophet, the Prophet said, "Who will save me from my enemy?" Khalid said, "I will," so the Prophet sent him out and he killed him.
Similarly the Prophet commanded that a group of unbelievers who used to injure and curse him, like an-Nadr ibn al-Harith and 'Uqba ibn Abi Mu'ayt, be killed. He promised that a group of them would be killed before and after the conquest. They were all killed except for those who hurried to become Muslim before they were overpowered. Al-Bazzar related from Ibn 'Abbas that 'Uqba ibn Abi Mu'ayt cried out, "O company of Quraysh, why is it that I alone among you am to be killed without war?" The Prophet said, "For your disbelief and your forging lies against the Messenger of Allah."
'Abdu'r-Razzaq mentioned that a man cursed the Prophet, causing the Prophet to say, "Who will save me from my enemy?" Az-Zubayr said, "I will." He sent az-Zubayr and he killed him.
It is related that a woman used to curse the Prophet and he said, "Who will save me from my enemy?" Khalid ibn al-Walid went out and killed her.
It is related that a man forged lies against the Prophet and he sent 'Ali and az-Zubayr to kill him.
Ibn Qani' related that a man came to the Prophet and said, "Messenger of Allah, I heard my father say something ugly about you, so I killed him," and that did not distress the Prophet.
Al-Mujahir ibn Abi Umayya, the Amir of Yemen, reported to Abu Bakr that a woman there in the time of the Riddachanted curses against the Prophet, so he cut off her hand and pulled out her front teeth (how's that for justice Muslims!). When Abu Bakr heard that, he said to him, "If you had not done what you already did, I would have commanded you to kill her because the hadd (punishment) regarding the Prophet is not like the hadd regarding others." (not even a reprimand)
Ibn 'Abbas said that a woman from Khatma satirised the Prophet and the Prophet said, "Who will deal with her for me?" A man from her people said, "I will, Messenger of Allah." The man got up and went and killed her. He told the Prophet who said, "Two goats will not lock horns over her." (This story is particularly gruesome. See here )
Ibn 'Abbas said that a blind man had an umm walad who used to curse the Prophet. He scolded her and restrained her, but she would not be restrained. That night she began to attack and revile the Prophet, so he killed her. He told the Prophet about that and he said he had shed her blood with impunity.
In the hadith of Abu Barza as-Aslami it says, "One day I was sitting with Abu Bakr as-Siddiq and he became angry at one of the Muslim men." Qadi Isma'il and other Imams said that the man had cursed Abu Bakr. An-Nasa'i related it as, "I came to Abu Bakr and a man had been rude and answered him back. I said, 'Khalif of Allah, let me strike off his head!' He said, 'Sit down. That is not for anyone except the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.'
Qadi Abu Muhammad ibn Nasr said, "No one disagreed with him." So the Imams take this, as a proof that anyone who does anything that might anger, harm or curse the Prophet in any way should be killed.
There is also the letter of 'Umar ibn 'Abdu'l-'Aziz to his governor in Kufa. He had asked his advice about killing a man who had cursed 'Umar. 'Umar wrote back to him, "It is not lawful to kill a Muslim for cursing anyone except the Messenger of Allah. Whoever curses him, his blood is lawful."
Harun ar-Rashid asked Malik about a man who had reviled the Prophet and he mentioned to him that the fuqaha' of Iraq had given a fatwa that he be flogged. Malik became angry and said, "Amir al-Mu'minin! There is no continuation for a community after it curses its Prophet! Whoever curses the Companions of the Prophet is to be flogged."
I do not know which of those Iraqi fuqaha' gave Harun ar-Rashid that fatwa. We have already mentioned that the school of the people of Iraq is that he be killed. Perhaps they were among those who were not known for knowledge or those whose fatwas were unreliable or idiosyncratic, or it is possible that what the man said was not taken to be a curse and there was a dispute as to whether or not it was a curse or he had retracted it and repented of it. None of these things were mentioned to Malik at all. However, the consensus is that anyone who curses him is to be killed as we have already stated.
That he is to be killed can be deduced by reflection and consideration. Anyone who curses or disparages the Prophet has shown clear symptoms of the sickness of his heart and proof of his real convictions and belief. That is why most of the 'ulama' judge him to be an apostate. This is what is transmitted by the people of Syria from Malik, al-Awza'i, ath-Thawri, Abu Hanifa and the people of Kufa.
The other position is that it is not a proof of disbelief, and so the person in question is killed by the hadd-punishment but he is not adjudged to be an unbeliever unless he persists in his words, not denying them nor refraining from them. To be judged an unbeliever, his statement must either be a clear statement of disbelief, like calling the Prophet a liar, or originate from mocking words and censure. His open avowal of what he said and lack of repentance for it is an indication that he finds it lawful and this constitutes disbelief, so there is no disagreement that he is an unbeliever. Allah says about people like this, "They swear by Allah that they did not speak. They said the words of disbelief. They disbelieved after their Islam." (9:76)
The commentators said that this refers to the statement, "If what is said by Muhammad is true, we are worse than monkeys."
It is said that it refers to what one of them said, "Our likeness with respect to that of Muhammad is only as the words of the one who says, 'Feed your dog and it will devour you.' When we return to Madina, the mighty will drive out the weaker."
It is said that even if the one who says this conceals it, the same judgement applies to him as to the heretic and he is killed because he has changed his deen. The Prophet said, "Strike off the heads of all who change their deen."
Because upholding the Prophet's honour is an obligation owed by his entire community and anyone who curses a free man of his community is given a hadd-punishment, the punishment of someone who curses the Prophet is that he is to be is killed because of the immensity of the worth of the Prophet and his elevation over others.
See more of Muhammad's dealings with people who wouldn't submit. Go here .
This is how you defend "truth" Muslim friends - forget dialogue or proofs - the sword is just as good, and your opponent can't prove you wrong! When will you reconsider your faith? All of this is a contradiction to the Qur'an too, by the way, that "Muhammad is a mercy for all the worlds". Muhammad proved the Qur'an wrong himself.
I hope this has been useful.