How can the killing of the female slave who cursed the Prophet be explained?

The Details of the Question

- Is it true that a man who heard that a woman insulted the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) killed that woman and that the Prophet said that the man did a good job in the eye of Allah?
- ​I heard about a hadith included in Abu Dawud. A blind man said that he heard that his female slave insulted the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) or Allah. Then, he killed her. When the Prophet (pbuh) heard about it, he said that what the man did was appropriate and that he did a good job in the eye of Allah. (Abu Dawud, Hudud 2)
- Is it true?
1. What is the full hadith like? 
2. The man said the woman insulted. What if he lied? Is it so easy to kill a person?
- There is a condition that there must always be witnesses in murder and stoning to death; and it must be applied by the state, not by individuals. Why were witnesses not demanded related to that incident? How do we know that the man told the truth? Maybe he got angry and killed her; then, he lied and said that she had insulted the Prophet.
3. Every day I come across atheists who insult holy things. Will I get thawabs if I go and kill them?
- To sum up, can you explain to me the conditions for the application of that penalty?
- When someone insults the prophet, will we get thawabs if we kill that person ourselves, without bringing witnesses or making him appear before a judge?
4. If a person who has cursed the Prophet repents, will his repentance be accepted? Can he still be killed in that case?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Question 1:

What is the full hadith like? 

Answer:

Abu Dawud reports the incident as the first hadith in Part 2 of the Hudud section of his book. The incident is different from the one stated in the question. The true story is as follows in brief:

A visually-impaired Companion had a non-Muslim female slave who was umm-walad because she gave birth to his child (a female slave who is umm-walad cannot be sold and becomes free when her master dies). That woman often cursed and insulted the Prophet. Her master, the visually impaired Companion, warned, scolded, and banned her many times, but the woman did not give up; she continued insulting and cursing. One night, when he started cursing again, the man could not stand it and killed the woman. The incident was reported to the Prophet by Allah; the Prophet gathered the people the next day, and said, “The person who knows what he did should stand up for Allah.” The man stood up and narrated the incident as it happened. The Prophet said, “Bear witness that the woman’s blood is waste (no qisas (retaliation) or blood money is necessary).” (see Abu Dawud, Hudud, 2)

It is not the only incident and hadith regarding the issue; all mujtahids who viewed all the evidence said, “If a person who curses and insults the Prophet is a Muslim, his penalty is death.” Since that deed is considered apostasy, according to some mujtahids, he is offered to repent before the execution.

According to some mujtahids such as Abu Hanifa, if the person who curses the Prophet (pbuh), is a non-Muslim, he cannot be executed; preventive measures and penalties are applied.

Question 2:
The man said the woman insulted. What if he lied? Is it so easy to kill a person? There is a condition that there must always be witnesses in murder and stoning to death; and it must be applied by the state, not by individuals. Why were witnesses not demanded related to that incident? How do we know that the man told the truth? Maybe he got angry and killed her; then, he lied and said that she had insulted the Prophet.

Answer 2:

If the Prophet (pbuh) had not known about the incident through some kind of revelation, killing without trial and witness would not have been acceptable.

Question 3:
Every day I come across atheists who insult them. Will I get thawabs if I go and kill them? To sum up, can you explain to me the conditions for the application of that penalty? When someone insults the prophet, will we get thawabs if we kill that person ourselves, without bringing witnesses or making him appear before a judge?

Answer 3:

If the crime committed by a person necessitates execution or any other punishment, he is tried in accordance with the procedure, and the execution is made by the state’s officer. It is not permissible for an individual to judge and execute on his own; he who does is punished.

Question 4:
If a person who has cursed the Prophet repents, will his repentance be accepted; can he still be killed in that case?

Answer 4:

Some mujtahids state that the repentance of those who committed that crime would not be accepted, but, as we have just mentioned, there are also mujtahids who say that it is accepted.

According to the Hanafi madhhab, even the state cannot decree the death penalty on dhimmis or non-Muslims who curse holy things, but can impose any tazir penalty instead. For, the state of unbelief they are in is a greater crime than the insult they commit in the eye of Allah. (see Shawkani, Naylul-Awtar, 9/235-238; Saharanfuri, Badhlul-Majhud, 12/423-426; Abbadi, Awnul-Ma’bud, pp. 1892-1893)

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