Muhammad and the Mosaic Law

Sam Shamoun

The writing of this article was prompted by the claims of Muslim polemicist Jalal Abualrub and is an integral part of our response to him. We have separated this part out since this issue is of more general interest and should not be buried in a polemics rebuttal alone.

One of the Quran’s main arguments for its own legitimacy is the claim that it "confirms the earlier Scriptures (Torah and Gospel)". Inspired by this, Muslims occasionally make the argument for the legitimacy of Islam by drawing out similarities between Islamic law and the instructions given in the previous Scriptures, specifically in the Law of Moses. Muslims often try to claim a continuity between the Mosaic Law, or Torah, on the one hand and the Qur'an and Islamic Shariah law on the other.

In light of this assertion our paper will focus on comparing the Mosaic Law to Muhammad‘s teachings so as to test whether the claims of the Quran and that of Muslims are correct.

The Word of God

The sign of the Abrahamic covenant was/is male circumcision, specifically done on the eighth day:

"This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. For the generations to come every male among you WHO IS EIGHT DAYS OLD MUST BE CIRCUMCISED, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner - those who are not your offspring. A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant. ... On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him." Genesis 17:10-14, 23

"On THE EIGHTH DAY the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised." Leviticus 12:3


There is no explicit reference in the entire Quran which ever commands Muslims to perform circumcision, especially on the eighth day. The Islamic traditions are divided on when a child should be circumcised. Interestingly, these same Islamic sources also encourage female circumcision, a very grotesque and inhumane act. Since Muslims claim that Islam is the very religion of Abraham they must account for the Quran’s failure of exhorting Muslims to honor the everlasting command given to Abraham that all his male descendents must be circumcised on the eighth day. This becomes all the more necessary to explain in light of Muslims’ claim that Muhammad is a descendant of Ishmael (*, *), the son of Abraham.

For further discussion on the circumcision issue see this article.

The Word of God

Yahweh forbids camel meat:

"The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Say to the Israelites: "Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat: You may eat any animal that has a split hoof completely divided and that chews the cud. There are some that only chew the cud or only have a split hoof, but you must not eat them. The camel, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is ceremonially unclean for you."’" Leviticus 11:1-4

"Do not eat any detestable thing. These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, the deer, the gazelle, the roe deer, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope and the mountain sheep. You may eat any animal that has a split hoof divided in two and that chews the cud. However, of those that chew the cud or that have a split hoof completely divided you may not eat the camel, the rabbit or the coney. Although they chew the cud, they do not have a split hoof; they are ceremonially unclean for you." Deuteronomy 14:3-7

The Torah also forbids certain types of water creatures, specifically those that do not have fins and scales (Leviticus 11:9-12; Deuteronomy 14:9-10).


The Quran permits Muslims to eat and sacrifice camels, something explicitly prohibited by Moses:

"Of the cattle are some for burden and some for meat: eat what Allah hath provided for you, and follow not the footsteps of Satan: for he is to you and avowed enemy. (Take) eight (head of cattle) in (four) pairs: of sheep a pair, and of goats a pair; say, hath He forbidden the two males, or the two females, or (the young) which the wombs of the two females enclose? Tell me with knowledge if ye are truthful: Of camels a pair, and of oxen a pair; say, hath He forbidden the two males, or the two females, or (the young) which the wombs of the two females enclose? - Were ye present when Allah ordered you such a thing? But who doth more wrong than one who invents a lie against Allah, to lead astray men without knowledge? For Allah guideth not people who do wrong. Say: 'I find not in the Message received by me by inspiration any (meat) forbidden to be eaten by one who wishes to eat it, unless it be dead meat, or blood poured forth, or the flesh of swine,- for it is an abomination - or, what is impious, (meat) on which a name has been invoked, other than Allah's'. But (even so), if a person is forced by necessity, without willful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits,- thy Lord is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. For those who followed the Jewish Law, We forbade every (animal) with undivided hoof, and We forbade them that fat of the ox and the sheep, except what adheres to their backs or their entrails, or is mixed up with a bone: this in recompense for their willful disobedience: for We are True (in Our ordinances). If they accuse thee of falsehood, say: "Your Lord is full of mercy all-embracing; but from people in guilt never will His wrath be turned back." S. 6:142-147

"The sacrificial camels we have made for you as among the signs from Allah: in them is (much) good for you: then pronounce the name of Allah over them as they line up (for sacrifice): when they are down on their sides (after slaughter), eat ye thereof, and feed such as (beg not but) live in contentment, and such as beg with due humility: thus have We made animals subject to you, that ye may be grateful." S. 22:36

The ahadith state:

Narrated Anas bin Malik:
Allah's Apostle offered four Rakat of Zuhr prayer at Medina and we were in his company, and two Rakat of the Asr prayer at Dhul-Hulaifa and then passed the night there till it was dawn; then he rode, and when he reached Al-Baida', he praised and glorified Allah and said Takbir (i.e. Alhamdu-lillah and Subhanallah(1) and Allahu-Akbar). Then he and the people along with him recited Talbiya with the intention of performing Hajj and Umra. When we reached (Mecca) he ordered us to finish the lhram (after performing the Umra) (only those who had no Hadi (animal for sacrifice) with them were asked to do so) till the day of Tarwiya that is 8th Dhul-Hijja when they assumed Ihram for Hajj. The Prophet sacrificed many camels (slaughtering them) with his own hands while standing. While Allah's Apostle was in Medina he sacrificed two horned rams black and white in color in the Name of Allah." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 26, Number 623)

Narrated 'Ali:
The Prophet sent me to supervise the (slaughtering of) Budn (Hadi camels) and ordered me to distribute their meat, and then he ordered me to distribute their covering sheets and skins. 'Ali added, "The Prophet ordered me to supervise the slaughtering (of the Budn) and not to give anything (of their bodies) to the butcher as wages for slaughtering." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 26, Number 774)

Furthermore, Islamic tradition claims that ALL water creatures are permissible!

Lawful to you is all water-game, and what the sea brings forth, as a provision for you [who are settled] as well as for travellers, although you are forbidden to hunt on land while you are in the state of pilgrimage. And be conscious of God, unto whom you shall be gathered. S. 5:96 Muhammad Asad

It is He Who has made the sea subject, that ye may eat thereof flesh that is fresh and tender, and that ye may extract therefrom ornaments to wear; and thou seest the ships therein that plough the waves, that ye may seek (thus) of the bounty of Allah and that ye may be grateful. S. 16:14

Imam Malik records:

Yahya related to me from Malik from Safwan ibn Sulaym from Said ibn Salama of the Bani Azraq from al-Mughira ibn Abi Burda of the tribe of Bani Abd ad-Dar that he had heard Abu Hurayra speak about a man who came to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and said, "Messenger of Allah! We travel by sea and we do not carry much fresh water with us so if we do wudu with it we go thirsty. Can we do wudu with seawater?" The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, replied, "Its water is pure, and its dead creatures are halal." (Malik’s Muwatta, Book 2, Number 2.3.12)

Yahya related to me from Malik from Nafi that Abd ar-Rahman ibn Abi Hurayra asked Abdullah ibn Umar about eating what was cast up by the sea and he forbade him to eat it. Then Abdullah turned and asked for a Qur'an, and read, "The game of the sea and its flesh are halal for you." Nafi added, "Abdullah ibn Umar sent me to Abdar-Rahman Ibn Abi Hurayra to say that there was no harm in eating it." (Malik’s Muwatta, Book 25, Number 25.3.9)

Yahya related to me from Malik from Abu'z-Zinad from Abu Salama ibn Abd ar-Rahman that some people from al-Jar came to Marwan ibn al-Hakam and asked him about eating what was cast up by the sea. He said, "There is no harm in eating it." Marwan said, "Go to Zayd ibn Thabit and Abu Hurayra and ask them about it, then come to me and tell me what they say." They went to them and asked them, and they both said, "There is no harm in eating it " They returned to Marwan and told him. Marwan said, "I told you."
Malik said that there was no harm in eating fish caught by magians, because the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "In the sea's water is purity, and that which is dead in it is halal."
Malik said, "If it is eaten when it is dead, there is no harm in who catches it." (Malik’s Muwatta, Book 25, Number 25.3.12)

Interestingly, certain traditions claim that the Jews during Muhammad's time objected to his eating meats such as camels, stating that such foods were prohibited even before Moses' time. Note, for example, the following Tafsir of Ibn Abbas (Tanwr al-Miqbs min Tafsr Ibn 'Abbs) on Sura 3:93:

(All food was lawful unto the Children of Israel) all food that is lawful for Muhammad and his community today was lawful for the Children of Israel, the sons of Jacob, (save that which Israel) Jacob (forbade himself) by the way of vows, ((in days) before the Torah was revealed) before the revelation of the Torah to Moses, Jacob forbade himself the meat and milk of camels. When this verse was revealed, the Prophet (pbuh) asked the Jews: "What did Jacob forbid himself of food?" They said: "he did not forbid himself any type of food, and whatever is forbidden for us today, such as the meat of camels and other things, was already forbidden on all prophets, from Adam to Moses (pbut). It is only you who make such things lawful." And they claimed those things were also forbidden in the Torah. Hence Allah said to Muhammad (pbuh): (Say) to them: (Produce the Torah and read it (unto us)) where they are made forbidden (if ye are truthful) in your claim. But they failed to produce the Torah and knew they were liars since there was nothing in the Torah to substantiate their claim. (online source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Al-Jalalayn, on this same text, says that:

When the Jews said to the Prophet, 'You claim that you follow the creed of Abraham, but Abraham did not eat camel's meat nor drink its milk', the following was revealed: All food was lawful to the Children of Israel save what Israel, Jacob, forbade for himself, namely, camels: when he was afflicted with sciatica ('irq al-nasā), he made a vow that if he were cured he would not eat of it again, and so it was forbidden him; before the Torah was revealed, which was after the time of Abraham, as it was not unlawful in his time, as they claimed. Say, to them, 'Bring the Torah now, and recite it, so that the truth of what you say may become clear, if you are truthful', in what you say; they were stupified and did not bring it [the Torah]. God, exalted be He, then said: (Tafsir Al-Jalalayn; online source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

The Word of God

God commands the Israelites to observe the Sabbath day:

"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." Exodus 20:8-11

"Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites, "You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy. Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people. For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death. The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed."’" Exodus 31:12-17

In the above citation, God says that Sabbath is the sign of the Mosaic covenant, as physical circumcision is the sign of the Abrahamic covenant (Cf. Genesis 17:9-14).

"Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day." Deuteronomy 5:12-15- cf. Isaiah 56:1-8, 58:13-14

The seriousness of Sabbath observance can be seen from the fact that all who were caught willfully violating the Sabbath were put to death:

"‘But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or alien, blasphemes the LORD, and that person must be cut off from his people. Because he has despised the LORD's word and broken his commands, that person must surely be cut off; his guilt remains on him.’ While the Israelites were in the desert, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.’ So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the LORD commanded Moses." Numbers 15:30-36

The Quran itself acknowledges the severity of violating the Sabbath:

And well you know there were those among you that transgressed the Sabbath, and We said to them, 'Be you apes, miserably slinking!' S. 2:65 - cf. 4:47; 7:163-164

And We raised above them the Mount, taking compact with them; and We said to them, 'Enter in at the gate, prostrating'; and We said to them, 'Transgress not the Sabbath'; and We took from them a solemn compact. S. 4:154


Muslims often criticize Christians for failing to uphold specific Mosaic injunctions such as not eating pork etc., which presupposes that Islamic law is in conformity with the Mosaic Law. In light of this assertion, the following question naturally comes to mind: Does Islam make it obligatory to keep Yahweh's Sabbaths? Are Muslims punished for failing to observe the Sabbath day? The answer is a resounding NO!

In fact, Muhammad deliberately chose Friday over the Sabbath as a way of degrading the Jews:

Narrated Abu Huraira:
I heard Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) saying, "We (Muslims) are the last (to come) but (will be) the foremost on the Day of Resurrection though the former nations were given the Holy Scriptures before us. And this was their day (Friday) the celebration of which was made compulsory for them but they differed about it. So Allah gave us the guidance for it (Friday) and all the other people are behind us in this respect: the Jews' (holy day is) tomorrow (i.e. Saturday) and the Christians' (is) the day after tomorrow (i.e. Sunday)." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 13, Number 1, see also Number 21)

Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, "We are the last (to come) but we will be the foremost on the Day of Resurrection, nations were given the Book (i.e. Scripture) before us, and we were given the Holy Book after them. This (i.e. Friday) is the day about which they differed. So the next day (i.e. Saturday) was prescribed for the Jews and the day after it (i.e. Sunday) for the Christians. It is incumbent on every Muslim to wash his head and body on a Day (i.e. Friday) (at least) in every seven days." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 693)

Thus, Muhammad not only violated Sabbath observance, but deliberately chose a day by which he could assert his superiority over the Jews who were keeping to God’s express command to honor the Sabbath. Muhammad deliberately set himself against God’s commandment to Moses regarding the Sabbath, thereby coming under God’s judgment.

Muhammad also falsely claimed that the Sabbath was appointed only for people who differed about it:

The Sabbath was ordained only for those who differed about it, and most surely your Lord will judge between them on the resurrection day concerning that about which they differed. S. 16:124 Shakir

Ibn Kathir writes:

The Prescription of the Sabbath for the Jews

There is no doubt that for every nation, Allah prescribed one day of the week for people to gather to worship Him. For this Ummah He prescribed Friday, because it is the sixth day, on which Allah completed and perfected His creation. On this day He gathered and completed His blessings for His servants. It was said that Allah prescribed this day for the Children of Israel through His Prophet Musa, but they changed it and chose Saturday because it was the day on which the Creator did not create anything, as He had completed His creation on Friday. Allah made observance of the Sabbath obligatory for them in the laws of the Tawrah (Torah), telling them to keep the Sabbath. At the same time, He told them to follow Muhammad when he was sent, and took their promises and covenant to that effect. Hence Allah says: …

<The Sabbath was only prescribed for those who differed concerning it,>

Mujahid said: "They observed the Sabbath (Saturday) and ignored Friday." Then they continued to observe Saturday until Allah sent `Isa bin Maryam. It was said that he told them to change it to Sunday, and it was also said that he did not forsake the laws of the Tawrah except for a few rulings which were abrogated, and he continued to observe the Sabbath until he was taken up (into heaven). Afterwards, the Christians at the time of Constantine were the ones who changed it to Sunday in order to be different from the Jews, and they started to pray towards the east instead of facing the Dome (i.e., Jerusalem). And Allah knows best. It was reported in the Two Sahihs that Abu Hurayrah heard the Messenger of Allah say: …

<We are the last, but we will be the first on the Day of Resurrection, even though they were given the Book before us. This is the day that Allah obligated upon them, but they differed concerning it. Allah guided us to this day, and the people observe their days after us, the Jews on the following day and the Christians on the day after that.>

This version was recorded by Al-Bukhari. It was reported that Abu Hurayrah and Hudhayfah said that the Messenger of Allah said: …

<Allah let the people who came before us stray from Friday, so the Jews had Saturday and the Christians had Sunday. Then Allah brought us and guided us to Friday. So now there are Friday, Saturday and Sunday, thus they will follow us on the Day of Resurrection. We are the last of the people of this world, but will be the first on the Day of Resurrection, and will be the first to be judged, before all of creation.>

It was reported by Muslim. (Source)

Recall that in the above OT texts the Sabbath was established as the sign of the covenant God had made through Moses, being instituted on the basis that since God himself had rested on the Sabbath his people were to follow suit and do likewise.

The Word of God

God forbids persons from remarrying their divorcees after having married someone else:

"If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the LORD. Do not bring sin upon the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance." Deuteronomy 24:1-4

"God says, 'If a husband divorces his wife And she goes from him And belongs to another man, Will he still return to her? Will not that land be completely polluted? But you are a harlot with many lovers; Yet you turn to Me,' declares the LORD. Lift up your eyes to the bare heights and see; Where have you not been violated? By the roads you have sat for them Like an Arab in the desert, And you have polluted a land With your harlotry and with your wickedness." Jeremiah 3:1-2


Muhammad goes against Moses by allowing divorcees to remarry one another only after they have been married to someone else!

"A divorce is only permissible twice: after that, the parties should either hold together on equitable terms, or separate with kindness. It is not lawful for you, (men), to take back any of your gifts (from your wives), except when both parties fear that they would be unable to keep the limits ordained by Allah. If ye (judges) do indeed fear that they would be unable to keep the limits ordained by Allah, there is no blame on either of them if she give something for her freedom. These are the limits ordained by Allah. So do not transgress them if any do transgress the limits ordained by Allah, such persons wrong (themselves as well as others). So if a husband divorces his wife (irrevocably), he cannot, after that, re- marry her until after she has married another husband and he has divorced her. In that case there is no blame on either of them if they re-unite, provided they feel that they can keep the limits ordained by Allah. Such are the limits ordained by Allah, which He makes plain to those who understand." S. 2:229-230

Muhammad's Allah calls permissible what Yahweh calls shameful and detestable!

The Word of God

God’s Word prohibits anyone from touching a woman during her menstrual period, as well as touching anything that she has come in contact with:

"When a woman has a discharge, and the discharge in her body is blood, she shall be in her menstrual impurity for seven days, and whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening. And everything on which she lies during her menstrual impurity shall be unclean. Everything also on which she sits shall be unclean. And whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening. And whoever touches anything on which she sits shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening. Whether it is the bed or anything on which she sits, when he touches it he shall be unclean until the evening. And if any man lies with her and her menstrual impurity comes upon him, he shall be unclean seven days, and every bed on which he lies shall be unclean." Leviticus 15:19-24

"Also you shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness during her menstrual impurity." Leviticus 18:19

"If there is a man who lies with a menstruous woman and uncovers her nakedness, he has laid bare her flow, and she has exposed the flow of her blood; thus both of them shall be cut off from among their people." Leviticus 20:18


The Quran seems to agree with the Hebrew Scriptures regarding the prohibition of coming near a woman during her menses:

They ask you concerning menstruation. Say: that is an Adha (a harmful thing for a husband to have a sexual intercourse with his wife while she is having her menses), therefore keep away from women during menses and go not unto them till they have purified (from menses and have taken a bath). And when they have purified themselves, then go in unto them as Allh has ordained for you (go in unto them in any manner as long as it is in their vagina). Truly, Allh loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves (by taking a bath and cleaning and washing thoroughly their private parts, bodies, for their prayers, etc.). S. 2:222 Hilali-Khan

Muhammad is reported to have even said that women's menstruations are the work of Satan!

Narrated Grandfather of Adi ibn Thabit
Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said: Sneezing, drowsing, yawning in prayer, also menstruation, vomiting and nose-bleeding are from (the acts of) Satan. Transmitted by Tirmidhi. (Tirmidhi Hadith, Number 315; ALIM CD-ROM Version)

On the other hand, the hadiths report Muhammad as violating the commands of God's true Word, the Holy Bible, as well as his own Quran since he is said to have approached his wives during their monthly courses:

Narrated 'Aisha:
The Prophet and I used to take a bath from a single pot while we were Junub. During the menses, he used to order me to put on an Izar (dress worn below the waist) and used to fondle me. While in Itikaf, he used to bring his head near me and I would wash it while I used to be in my periods (menses). (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 6, Number 298)

Narrated 'Abdur-Rahman bin Al-Aswad:
(on the authority of his father) 'Aisha said: "Whenever Allah's Apostle wanted to fondle anyone of us during her periods (menses), he used to order her to put on an Izar and start fondling her." 'Aisha added, "None of you could control his sexual desires as the Prophet could." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 6, Number 299, see also Number 300)

Ibn Kathir comments on this:

Sexual Intercourse with Menstruating Women is prohibited

Imam Ahmad recorded that Anas said that the Jews used to avoid their menstruating women, they would not eat, or even mingle with them in the house. The Companions of the Prophet asked about this matter and Allah revealed: …

<They ask you concerning menstruation. Say: "That is an Adha, therefore, keep away from women during menses and go not in unto them till they are purified.>

Allah's Messenger said: …

<`Do everything you wish, except having sexual intercourse.>

When the Jews were told about the Prophet's statement, they said, "What is the matter with this man? He would not hear of any of our practices, but would defy it." Then, Usayd bin Hudayr and `Abbad bin Bishr came and said, "O Messenger of Allah! The Jews said this and that, should we have sex with our women (meaning, during the menstruation period)" The face of Allah's Messenger changed color, until the Companions thought that he was angry with them. They left. Soon after, some milk was brought to Allah's Messenger as a gift, and he sent some of it for them to drink. They knew then that Allah's Messenger was not angry with them. Muslim also reported this Hadith. Allah said: …

<…therefore, keep away from women during menses.>

meaning, avoid the sexual organ. The Prophet said: …

<Do anything you wish except having sexual intercourse.>

This is why most of the scholars said that it is allowed to fondle the wife, except for having sexual intercourse (when she is having her menses). Abu Dawud reported that `Ikrimah related to one of the Prophet's wives that she said that whenever the Prophet wanted to fondle (one of his wives) during her menses, he would cover her sexual organ with something.

Abu Ja`far bin Jarir related that Masruq went to `A'ishah and greeted her, and `A'ishah greeted him in return. Masruq said, "I wish to ask you about a matter, but I am shy." She replied, "I am your mother and you are my son." He said, "What can the man enjoy of his wife when she is having her menses" She said, "Everything except her sexual organ." This is also the opinion of Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Al-Hasan and `Ikrimah.

One is allowed to sleep next to his wife and to eat with her (when she is having her menses). `A'ishah said, "Allah's Messenger used to ask me to wash his hair while I was having the menses. He would lay on my lap and read the Qur'an while I was having the period." It is also reported in the Sahih that `A'ishah said, "While having the menses, I used to eat from a piece of meat and give it to the Prophet who would eat from the same place I ate from. I used to have sips of a drink and would then give the cup to the Prophet who would place his mouth where I placed my mouth."

It is also reported in the Two Sahihs that Maymunah bint Al-Harith Al-Hilaliyah said, "Whenever the Prophet wanted to fondle any of his wives during the periods (menses), he used to ask her to wear an Izar (a sheet covering the lower-half of the body)." These are the wordings collected by Al-Bukhari. Similar was reported from `A'ishah. In addition, Imam Ahmad, Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah reported that `Abdullah bin Sa`d Al-Ansari asked Allah's Messenger, "What am I allowed of my wife while she is having her menses" He said, "What is above the Izar (a sheet covering the lower-half of the body)."' Hence, Allah's statement:

<…and go not in unto them till they are purified.>

explains His statement:

<…therefore, keep away from women during menses.>

Allah prohibited having sexual intercourse with the wife during menstruation, indicating that sexual intercourse is allowed otherwise. (Source)

Muhammad’s example of fondling his wives during their menses has led many Muslims to violate God’s Law to Moses that women are not to be touched in any sense. Muhammad again comes under the judgment of the Mosaic Law. One may note on this matter that Muhammad had multitude of wives so that there was nearly always at least one wife who did not have her menses at any given time. So, even in his greatest sexual urge he could easily have had intercourse with one or more of his wives without the need of fondling the wife that was currently having her period.

The Word of God

The Holy Bible forbids the raping of captive women, and commands that if a person desires one of them then they must get married to them:

"When you go to war against your enemies and the LORD your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her AS YOUR WIFE. Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her." Deuteronomy 21:10-14


Muhammad allowed for both the raping and selling of captive women, even permitting his men to rape women who were married and whose husbands were still alive:

And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess. It is a decree of Allah for you. Lawful unto you are all beyond those mentioned, so that ye seek them with your wealth in honest wedlock, not debauchery. And those of whom ye seek content (by marrying them), give unto them their portions as a duty. And there is no sin for you in what ye do by mutual agreement after the duty (hath been done). Lo! Allah is ever Knower, Wise. S. 4:24 Pickthall

The above citation clearly shows that Muhammad permitted Muslims to commit adultery with married women, provided that they were taken as captives.

The Islamic traditions unashamedly admit:

Abu Sirma said to Abu Sa'id al Khudri (Allah he pleased with him): O Abu Sa'id, did you hear Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) mentioning al-'azl? He said: Yes, and added: We went out with Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) on the expedition to the Bi'l-Mustaliq and took captive some excellent Arab women; and we desired them, for we were suffering from the absence of our wives, (but at the same time) we also desired ransom for them. So we decided to have sexual intercourse with them but by observing 'azl (Withdrawing the male sexual organ before emission of semen to avoid conception). But we said: We are doing an act whereas Allah's Messenger is amongst us; why not ask him? So we asked Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him), and he said: It does not matter if you do not do it, for every soul that is to be born up to the Day of Resurrection will be born. (Sahih Muslim, Book 008, Number 3371)

Abu Said al-Khudri said: 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 Quranic verse, ‘And all married women (are forbidden) unto you save those (captives) whom your right hands possess’. That is to say, they are lawful for them when they complete their waiting period. (Sunan of Abu Dawud, Book 11, Volume 2, Number 2150)

A more detailed discussion on this issue can be found in these articles: Adultery: Do it! Do it! Do it!, Muhammad and the Female Captives.

The Word of God

"When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them. You may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Are the trees in the field human, that they should be besieged by you? Only the trees that you know are not trees for food you may destroy and cut down, that you may build siegeworks against the city that makes war with you, until it falls." Deuteronomy 20:19-20

God forbids the Israelites from destroying trees providing food under any circumstance.


Muhammad decided to discard the command of Moses when it served his purpose of gaining an advantage over his enemies:

Whatever palm-trees you cut down, or left standing upon their roots, that was by God's leave, and that He might degrade the ungodly. S. 59:5

According to Muslim sources, this passage was given to justify Muhammad's destruction of the palm trees belonging to the Jewish tribe, Banu Nadir, after besieging them. After waiting fifteen days for the Jewish tribe to surrender, Muhammad commanded his companions to start cutting down the palm trees in their date groves, to which the Jews cried out to him:

"Muhammad, you have prohibited wanton destruction and blamed those guilty of it. Why then are you cutting down and burning our palm-trees?" (Alfred Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad (a translation of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasulullah), [Oxford University Press, Karachi; tenth impression 1995] p. 437)

John Gilchrist best sums up Muhammad's act:

The reasoning is the same as that in Surah 2 regarding the Nakhlah raid. Although the action was forbidden by law, it suddenly became justified because of the animosity of Muhammad's opponents. It was allowed for "putting pressure" on the stubbornly resistant enemy. This is like saying that when a boxer cannot subdue his opponent, hitting below the belt suddenly becomes admissible to put a bit of "pressure" on him - how different the attitude of Moses who taught that laws were to be observed and ethics sustained no matter what the circumstances. Two wrongs do not make a right. (Gilchrist, Muhammad the Religion of Islam, Muhammad: His Life, Personality and Ministry, 1. An outline of Muhammad's Life, C. The Conflict with the Jews; online edition)

Further reading regarding the laws given in the Hebrew Scriptures, in the New Testament, and their relationship to Islam:

Articles by Sam Shamoun
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