Revisiting God’s Command to Kill the Amalekites:

Analyzing One Muslim’s Response

Sam Shamoun

Sami Zaatari has written a so-called "response" to my paper, What about God commanding the annihilation of the Amalekites?

He begins by claiming that the Quran never commands the killing of women and children, and then narrates hadiths where Muhammad forbade their killing in Muslim raids. These lies and distortions have already been addressed here:

So there is no need to repeat ourselves. He then cites 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and asks the very naÔve question as to how do I know that such OT commands are not binding any longer on Christians. Again, instead of reinventing the wheel by responding to a point that has been already addressed, we simply defer the discussion to the following articles:

Zaatari next distorts an OT text in order to refute my claim that OT wars were not intended to convert people. He has the audacity to quote Deuteronomy 13 to prove his case, which says:

"If a prophet arises among you, or a dreamer of dreams, and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder which he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or to that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him, and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and cleave to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, WHO BROUGHT YOU OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT AND REDEEMED YOU OUT OF THE HOUSE OF BONDAGE, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from the midst of you. If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son, or your daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known, some of the gods of the peoples that are round about you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him; but you shall kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and never again do any such wickedness as this among you. If you hear in one of your cities, which the LORD your God gives you to dwell there, that certain base fellows have gone out among you and have drawn away the inhabitants of the city, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which you have not known, then you shall inquire and make search and ask diligently; and behold, if it be true and certain that such an abominable thing has been done among you, you shall surely put the inhabitants of that city to the sword, destroying it utterly, all who are in it and its cattle, with the edge of the sword. You shall gather all its spoil into the midst of its open square, and burn the city and all its spoil with fire, as a whole burnt offering to the LORD your God; it shall be a heap for ever, it shall not be built again. None of the devoted things shall cleave to your hand; that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of his anger, and show you mercy, and have compassion on you, and multiply you, AS HE SWORE TO YOUR FATHERS, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God, keeping all his commandments which I command you this day, and doing what is right in the sight of the LORD your God." Deuteronomy 13:1-18

As anyone carefully reading this text can see, the Lord was addressing the Israelites, the covenant community, NOT THE GENTILE NATIONS. God was telling the Israelites that if they were to worship other gods after all that God had supernaturally done for them then they would suffer the just penalty. So Zaatari is lying when he tried to distort this text to prove that God forced Israel to fight wars in order to convert people. That is the religion of Islam, not the true religion of God.

Zaatari tries to prove that Muhammad performed miracles, another lie which has been refuted time and time again:

And contrary to Zaatari’s claim, Muhammad did fail the biblical test of prophethood and was indeed a false prophet, refer to these articles.

Zaatari thinks that my bringing up original sin somehow backfires against me. But as we shall now see this will end up backfiring against Muhammad. He distorts the Christian position by claiming that children will go to hell since they will not be able to repent.

Zaatari has erroneously concluded from my discussion that a child who is born in original sin and happens to suffer physical death due to the judgment that God brings upon a land automatically ends up going to hell. The fact of the matter is that this does not follow at all from what I had written. In the first place, the Holy Bible doesn’t explicitly deal with the issue of what happens to infants that die. It deals with individuals who can hear and discern the message for themselves, i.e. what would happen to an individual who heard the message of salvation and decided to reject it.

Secondly, a child being conceived in original sin and dies doesn’t necessarily mean that the infant goes to hell. God can regenerate an infant even before it dies as an act of mercy and love in order to grant that babe eternal life. We see at least one example where God even filled a baby with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb:

"But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechari'ah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth; for he will be great before the Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Eli'jah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.’" Luke 1:13-17

Finally, the Bible says that God is a righteous judge:

"Far be it from thee to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from thee! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Genesis 18:25

"The Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and right is he." Deuteronomy 32:4

"The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead." Acts 17:30-31

"But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will render to every man according to his works:" Romans 2:5-6

"This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be made worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering -- since indeed God deems it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant rest with us to you who are afflicted, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed." 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10

We therefore have complete faith and trust in God’s perfect righteousness and absolute justice regarding how he will judge and decide the fate of all those infants that have died.

Zaatari tries to justify Allah’s complete destruction of peoples and places on the grounds that he did so through natural disasters! In other words, Zaatari finds it perfectly acceptable for Allah to kill women and children by flood, winds, earthquakes, or fire and brimstone from the sky, so long as he doesn’t use armies to do it! Talk about being inconsistent and having a double standard.

More importantly, Zaatari must have forgotten that there is a verse in the Quran which condoned the killing of an innocent young boy:

"So they journeyed on till when they met a young boy; he slew him. Moses said, ‘What! hast thou slain an innocent person without his having slain anyone! Surely, thou hast done a hideous thing’ ... ‘And as for the youth, his parents were believers, and we feared lest on growing up he should involve them into trouble through rebellion and disbelief;’" S. 18:74, 80 Sher Ali

Moses' companion justifies the killing of a young innocent boy on the grounds that the boy may have grown up to be a rebellious unbeliever. Hence, if Zaatari has issues with the Holy Bible he needs to take issue with his own book which condones the killing of a young boy who may have, or may have not, grown up to be a disbeliever. Since Allah had a man kill a boy, which obviously included some kind of violence and pain, would Zaatari now say that his god is cruel and a bloody murderer?

Furthermore, this text supports the point I had made in my paper. It confirms the principle that God can justifiably kill even children on the basis of how they would turn out in the future. God who perfectly knows all things, especially future events, knows that even children grow up to be rebel sinners who defy his commands and acts of mercy.

Moreover, noted Muslim historian al-Tabari stated that the so-called prophet Salih allegedly commanded certain persons of Thamud to kill the children so as to prevent one of them from growing up and killing the she-camel:

According to Hajjaj- Ibn Jurayj: When Salih told the eight evildoers that a boy would be born at whose hands they would be destroyed, they said, "What do you command us?" He said, "I command you to kill THEM" (that is their male children). SO THEY KILLED THEM except one... (The History of Al-Tabari: Prophets and Patriarchs, translated by William M. Brinner [State University of New York Press (SUNY), 1987], Volume II, p. 43; capital and underline emphasis ours)

More importantly, Zaatari either is not aware of or is trying to hide the fact that the Quran itself confirms the Divine approval for these OT wars, especially that of the slaughter of the Canaanite as well as Saulís war against the Amalekites:

O my people! Remember Allah's favour unto you, how He placed among you prophets, and He made you kings, and gave you that (which) He gave not to any (other) of (His) creatures. O my people! Go into the holy land which Allah hath ordained for you. Turn not in flight, for surely ye turn back as losers: They said: O Moses! Lo! a giant people (dwell) therein and lo! we go not in till they go forth from thence. When they go forth from thence, then we will enter (not till then). Then out spake two of those who feared (their Lord, men) unto whom Allah had been gracious: Enter in upon them by the gate, for if ye enter by it, lo! ye will be victorious. So put your trust (in Allah) if ye are indeed believers. They said: O Moses! We will never enter (the land) while they are in it. So go thou and thy Lord and fight! We will sit here. He said: My Lord! I have control of none but myself and my brother, so distinguish between us and the wrong-doing folk. (Their Lord) said: For this the land will surely be forbidden them for forty years that they will wander in the earth, bewildered. So grieve not over the wrongdoing folk. S. 5:20-26 Pickthall

Here we have Muhammad relating the story of God commanding the Israelites to enter into the promised land and slaughter its inhabitants, without a negative word about the supposed injustice of God in ordering them to do so. And:

Hast thou not Turned thy vision to the Chiefs of the Children of Israel after (the time of) Moses? They said to a prophet (That was) among them: "Appoint for us a king, that we May fight in the cause of God." He said: "Is it not possible, if ye were commanded to fight, that that ye will not fight?" They said: "How could we refuse to fight in the cause of God, seeing that we were turned out of our homes and our families?" but when they were commanded to fight, they turned back, except a small band among them. But God Has full knowledge of those who do wrong. Their Prophet said to them: "God hath appointed Talut as king over you." They said: "How can he exercise authority over us when we are better fitted than he to exercise authority, and he is not even gifted, with wealth in abundance?" He said: "God hath Chosen him above you, and hath gifted him abundantly with knowledge and bodily prowess: God Granteth His authority to whom He pleaseth. God careth for all, and He knoweth all things." And (further) their Prophet said to them: "A Sign of his authority is that there shall come to you the Ark of the covenant, with (an assurance) therein of security from your Lord, and the relics left by the family of Moses and the family of Aaron, carried by angels. In this is a symbol for you if ye indeed have faith." When Talut set forth with the armies, he said: "God will test you at the stream: if any drinks of its water, He goes not with my army: Only those who taste not of it go with me: A mere sip out of the hand is excused." but they all drank of it, except a few. When they crossed the river,- He and the faithful ones with him,- they said: "This day We cannot cope with Goliath and his forces." but those who were convinced that they must meet God, said: "How oft, by God's will, Hath a small force vanquished a big one? God is with those who steadfastly persevere. When they advanced to meet Goliath and his forces, they prayed: "Our Lord! Pour out constancy on us and make our steps firm: Help us against those that reject faith." By God's will they routed them; and David slew Goliath; and God gave him power and wisdom and taught him whatever (else) He willed. And did not God Check one set of people by means of another, the earth would indeed be full of mischief: But God is full of bounty to all the worlds. S. 2:246-251 Y. Ali

The Quran recounts the story of the people of Israel asking the prophet Samuel for a king, Saul’s appointment as a king, Saul’s wars, and David killing Goliath (cf. 1 Samuel 8-17). What is interesting about all this is that even though the Quranic narration presupposes the biblical account of God’s commission to wipe out the Amalekites it nowhere condemns this Divine decree. It does not say that Saul killing women and children was an evil thing or that the Israelites tampered with the story since this isn’t how it happened; nor does it deny that these things did happen. Its very mention in the Quran without any qualification presupposes that the author of the Quran had absolutely no problem with these wars since he believed that God sanctioned them. So why does Zaatari go against the teachings of his own book (as false as it is) and attack the Bible for something with which the Quran implicitly attests?

There is more. Note what this next report says regarding Muhammad’s view of the prophet Joshua’s battles against the enemies of God:

Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, "A prophet amongst the prophets carried out a holy military expedition, so he said to his followers, 'Anyone who has married a woman and wants to consummate the marriage, and has not done so yet, should not accompany me; nor should a man who has built a house but has not completed its roof; nor a man who has sheep or she camels and is waiting for the birth of their young ones.' So, the prophet carried out the expedition and when he reached that town at the time or nearly at the time of the 'Asr prayer, he said to the sun, 'O sun! You are under Allah's Order and I am under Allah's Order. O Allah! Stop it (i.e. the sun) from setting.' It was stopped till Allah made him victorious. Then he collected the booty and the fire came to burn it, but it did not burn it. He said (to his men), 'Some of you have stolen something from the booty. So one man from every tribe should give me a pledge of allegiance by shaking hands with me.' (They did so and) the hand of a man got stuck over the hand of their prophet. Then that prophet said (to the man), 'The theft has been committed by your people. So all the persons of your tribe should give me the pledge of allegiance by shaking hands with me.' The hands of two or three men got stuck over the hand of their prophet and he said, "You have committed the theft.' Then they brought a head of gold like the head of a cow and put it there, and the fire came and consumed the booty. The Prophet added: Then Allah saw our weakness and disability, so he made booty legal for us." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 53, Number 353)

Here Muhammad conflates several biblical stories, namely, Moses' instruction in Deuteronomy 20:1-9, and Joshua’s expeditions against Ai and the king of Jerusalem (cf. Joshua 7 and 10). These are the very expeditions where God commanded Joshua and the Israelites to wipe out everything that breathes! Hence, if this hadith is to be accepted as reliable, and Sunnis like Zaatari do believe that it is authentic since it comes from the sahih collection of al-Bukhari, then this again shows that Muhammad had no problems with God’s orders to the Israelites to annihilate everything that breathes, including women, children and livestock. So why should Zaatari have a problem?

Zaatari also tries to argue that in Islam those babies that are killed will go to heaven, which is either evidence of his severe ignorance of the Quran or another lie aimed at deceiving the readers. In the first place, there is not a single verse in the Quran which says all infants that die go to Paradise, so we challenge Zaatari to produce a verse to the contrary.

Furthermore according to the so-called sound ahadith even Muhammad himself didn’t know whether the children of believers or unbelievers would go to hell or not:

‘A’isha, the mother of the believers, said that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) was called to lead the funeral prayer of a child of the Ansar. I said: Allah’s Messenger, there is happiness for this child who is a bird from the birds of Paradise for it committed no sin nor has he reached the age when one can commit sin. He said: 'A'isha, per adventure, IT MAY BE OTHERWISE, because God created for Paradise those who are fit for it WHILE THEY WERE YET IN THEIR FATHER’S LOINS and created for Hell those who are to go to Hell. He created them for Hell WHILE THEY WERE YET IN THEIR FATHER'S LOINS. (Sahih Muslim, Book 033, Number 6436)

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: No babe is born but upon Fitra. It is his parents who make him a Jew or a Christian or a Polytheist. A person said: Allah’s Messenger, what is your opinion if they were to die before that (before reaching the age of adolescence when they can distinguish between right and wrong)? He said: It is Allah alone Who knows what they would be doing. (Sahih Muslim, Book 033, Number 6426)

Abu Huraira reported from Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) many ahadith and one amongst them is that he is reported to have said: An infant is born according to his (true) nature. It is his parents who make him a Jew, a Christian, just as a she-camel gives birth to its young ones. Do you find any deficiency in their limbs? You cut their ears (i. e. after birth). They (the Companions of the Holy Prophet) said: What is your opinion about him who dies in infancy? Thereupon Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: It is Allah alone Who knows best what they would be doing. (Sahih Muslim, Book 033, Number 6428)

Abu Huraira reported that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) was asked about the children of the polytheists who die young. Thereupon Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: It is Allah Who knows what they would be doing. (Sahih Muslim, Book 033, Number 6432)

Muhammad clearly stated that he didn’t know whether the children would go to paradise or to hell on the grounds that Allah may have destined such infants to hell! It seems that Zaatari knows more than his own prophet did on this subject.

Zaatari also manages to contradict himself in the process since he writes:

When Allah destroys a place with a natural disaster the deaths of the inhabitants is almost instant and feeling not much pain. Secondly, yes some women and kids are among the dead, however so in Islam babies automatically go to heaven! So hence when Allah destroys a town, and babies are killed, the babies go straight to heaven which is much better than this world, hence the babies have a free ride you could say. They don’t have to grow up and do all things us believers have to do to enter heaven, the baby gets to heaven just on the fact that he is a child. So hence there is no wrong in that, unlike the Bible where babies are killed and sent to hell, hence they never really had a chance to go to heaven.

But then in the very next paragraph he says:

Secondly, Allah did not destroy a town or city until there was no hope in saving them, and the ones who did repent to Allah were warned to leave the city to avoid being killed. So the ones who did get killed were the ones who simply did not heed Allah’s warning. Allah then punished the ones who did not believe, however so this still cannot even be slightly compared to the brutal ness of the OT. Allah didn’t send armies of men killing women and children; he just sent a natural disaster.

Did Allah kill those who didn’t heed the warning or did he also kill infants who had no way to heed the warning as well? If he did kill the infants then Zaatari lies when he says that Allah punished those who did not believe since he even killed infants who had no way of possibly believing!

In fact, the supposed sound ahadith proclaim that when Allah decides to destroy or kill a people he does so indiscriminately:

Narrated Ibn ‘Umar: Allah’s Apostle said, “If Allah sends punishment upon a nation then it befalls upon the WHOLE population INDISCRIMINATELY and then they will be resurrected (and judged) according to their deeds.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 88, Number 224)

Here is another English version of this particular narration:

XVIII. When Allah sends down a punishment on a people

6691. Hamza ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar related that he heard Ibn ‘Umar say, “The Messenger of Allah said, ‘When Allah sends down a punishment on a people, the punishment will strike ALL THOSE WHO ARE AMONG THEM, and then they will be resurrected commensurate with their actions.’” (Aisha Bewley, The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, 96. Book of Trials)

Thus, Zaatari’s false prophet clearly taught that Allah doesn’t spare anyone from the punishment and destruction which he sends upon a people!

Moreover, Zaatari’s claim that the death of the women and children is not too painful, but instant, contradicts the Quran:

Such is the seizing of thy Lord, when He seizes the cities that are evildoing; surely His seizing IS PAINFUL, TERRIBLE. S. 11:102 Arberry

Contrary to Zaatari, the Quran says that the punishment that Allah brings upon the cities, which includes women and children, is deliberately painful and violent.

Finally, Zaatari is really confused about what he believes, or at least very inconsistent. He attacks the OT on the basis that it allows the killing of women and children, but has no problem with Allah also killing children since he believes they will end up going to paradise anyway. Zaatari obviously doesn't realize just how confused he sounds since his argument basically implies that it is not the killing of children that is wrong, it is sending them to hell which is evil. In other words, Zaatari is essentially arguing (without having any clue that this is what he is indeed saying otherwise he wouldn't be contradicting himself so often) that killing children is okay provided that they end up going to paradise afterwards!

In conclusion, the readers should be able to see that Zaatari is perhaps the worst of Osama’s writers and the least qualified to critique Christianity or defend Islam. His material is so bad that he even makes Osama’s articles look good!

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