Uswa Hasana

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In Islam, the Prophet Muhammad is known as al-Insān al-Kāmil (the perfect human) and uswa hasana (an excellent model of conduct).

Moral Relativism

Many Muslims and non-Muslims alike, often attempt to excuse away Muhammad's immoral behavior using moral relativism and/or a "tu quoque" defense against the actions of other religious figures from various faiths. They claim he was a “product of his time” and that he should not be judged by modern standards, but what they fail to mention is that this particular Islamic doctrine, the belief that Muhammad is the uswa hasana, leaves those defenses redundant.

Muhammad repeatedly told his followers to follow his Sunnah (example) and in the Qur'an we see that Allah even asserts his morality as being “sublime” (Qur'an 68:4), therefore Muhammad cannot be seen as simply a product of his time. To do so, would mean to also concede the fact that the Qur'an is outdated and not relevant to the modern world. From an Islamic perspective, this is unthinkable. The Qur'an is beyond the constraints of time. It is not simply 'inspired' but the very words of Allah, uttered through the lips of his final messenger. Hence, Muhammad's actions are (and always will be) morally acceptable to the Muslim.

Text from the Qur'an

Transliteration: Laqad kana lakum fee rasooli Allahi oswatun hasanatun liman kana yarjoo Allaha waalyawma al-akhira wathakara Allaha katheeran

Literal: (It) had been for you in God's messenger a good example/model to who was hoping/expecting God, and the Day the Last/Resurrection Day, and remembered/mentioned God much.

Transliteration: Qad kanat lakum oswatun hasanatun fee ibraheema waallatheena maAAahu ith qaloo liqawmihim inna buraao minkum wamimma taAAbudoona min dooni Allahi kafarna bikum wabada baynana wabaynakumu alAAadawatu waalbaghdao abadan hatta tu/minoo biAllahi wahdahu illa qawla ibraheema li-abeehi laastaghfiranna laka wama amliku laka mina Allahi min shay-in rabbana AAalayka tawakkalna wa-ilayka anabna wa-ilayka almaseeru

Literal: A good example/model (to follow) had been for you in Abraham and those with him, when they said to their nation: "We are innocent/separating from you, and from what you worship from other than God, we disbelieved with you, and the animosity and the intense hatred appeared between us and between you (for) ever (E), until you believe with (in) God alone." Except Abraham's word/statement to his father: "I will ask for forgiveness for you, and I do not own/possess for you from God from a thing, our Lord, on You we relied depended (on) , and to You we returned/repented , and to You (is) the end/destination."

Transliteration: Laqad kana lakum feehim oswatun hasanatun liman kana yarjoo Allaha waalyawma al-akhira waman yatawalla fa-inna Allaha huwa alghanniyyu alhameedu

Literal: A good example/model (to follow) had been for you in them, to who was hoping/expecting God, and the Day the Last/Resurrection Day; and who turns away, so then God, He is the rich, the praiseworthy/commendable.

See related: Islamic Theology/Hadith and Sunnah

Lane's Lexicon

Alif-Siin-Waw: to imitate any one. uswah - model, imitation, relief, consolation, pattern, example worthy of imitation.

uswah n.f. Qur'an 33:21, Qur'an 60:4, Qur'an 60:6

Effect on Islamic Morality

As we have already seen, Muslims today are encouraged to emulate Muhammad and his 7th century actions as closely as they can, as a form of devotion to Allah. Due to this, no other historical figures actions have effected the modern world more potently or negatively than those of Muhammad. Lets take a look at a few of the example he has set for his pious followers to emulate:

Muhammad was a pedophile:

A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported: Allah's Apostle (Mohammad) married me when I was six years old, and I was admitted to his house when I was nine years old.

The effect: Religiously sanctioned pedophilia.

Muhammad was a mass-murdering child-killer:

“The Jews were made to come down, and Allah’s Messenger imprisoned them. Then the Prophet went out into the marketplace of Medina, and he had trenches dug in it. He sent for the Jewish men and had them beheaded in those trenches. They were brought out to him in batches. They numbered 800 to 900 boys and men.”
Ishaq 464

The effect: Religiously sanctioned slaughter of innocents (including children) whose only crime were being a non-Muslim.

Muhammad was a Slaver:

These are the names of Muhammad's male slaves: Yakan Abu Sharh, Aflah, 'Ubayd, Dhakwan, Tahman, Mirwan, Hunayn, Sanad, Fadala Yamamin, Anjasha al-Hadi, Mad'am, Karkara, Abu Rafi', Thawban, Ab Kabsha, Salih, Rabah, Yara Nubyan, Fadila, Waqid, Mabur, Abu Waqid, Kasam, Abu 'Ayb, Abu Muwayhiba, Zayd Ibn Haritha, and also a black slave called Mahran, who was re-named (by Muhammad) Safina (`ship').[1]
Muhammed's Maid Slaves "are Salma Um Rafi', Maymuna daughter of Abu Asib, Maymuna daughter of Sa'd, Khadra, Radwa, Razina, Um Damira, Rayhana, Mary the Coptic, in addition to two other maid-slaves, one of them given to him as a present by his cousin, Zaynab, and the other one captured in a war.[1]

The effect: Religiously sanctioned Slavery which continues to this day.

Muhammad was a homophobe:

It was narrated by Jaabir (may Allah be pleased with him): "The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: There is nothing I fear for my ummah more than the deed of the people of Loot."
Tirmidhi 1457

The effect: Religiously sanctioned executions of homosexuals.

Muhammad was a wife-beater:

Aisha: I said, Messenger of Allah, may my father and mother be ransom for you, and then I told him (the whole story). He said: Was it the darkness (of your shadow) that I saw in front of me? I said: Yes. He struck me on the chest which caused me pain.

The effect: Religiously sanctioned violence against women.

Of course, most “moderates” (as witnessed by their overwhelming silence and indifference) cannot speak-out against such things. To do so, would be to condemn Muhammad and (in-turn) their very faith. Also, as the “Prophet of peace” himself had said: “A man will not be asked as to why he beat his wife.”[2]

Responses to Apologetics

  1. "Muhammad is rebuked in surah 80, so Muslims don't believe he is perfect!"
    True. Muhammad is rebuked in the Qur'an for turning away from a blind man, but this only highlights an ignorance of Islamic theology and beliefs. In Islam, prophets are masoom (infallible/sinless). They may err (Zallat "slip"), but this is not the same as committing a sin. Sin in Islam is doing something against Allah's prescribed teachings. Muhammad did not sin because the incident involving the blind man occurred prior to Allah admonishing him. An act becomes a sin only after Allah ordains it as such. For example, Muhammad and the early Muslims drank alcohol, but this allowance was abrogated by a later Qur'anic revelation.
  2. "The Qur'an also says Abraham is a good example to follow, but there are no hadith collections for him!"
    True. But if all prophets are a good model to follow, then by following Muhammad's sunnah, you're essentially following the sunnah of the prophets who preceded him. If there were Hadith collections for other prophets then they would be rendered obsolete.
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See Also

External Links

Islamic sites



  1. 1.0 1.1 Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Zad al-Ma'ad, Part 1, pp. 114-116
  2. Narrated Umar ibn al-Khattab - Abu Dawud 11:2142