A recently placed billboard alongside I-465 South is drawing much well-deserved criticism from the Muslim community of Indianapolis, according to USA Today.
The billboard’s heading reads, “The Perfect Man,” a reference to the prophet Muhammad. It then lists six bulleted criticisms of the Islamic holy figure, including “married 6 year old,” “beheaded 600 Jews in one day” and “13 wives, 11 at one time.”
Representative Andre Carson (D-IN) said he believes the billboard is “untrue” and “disrespectful” to Muslims, according to WISH-TV in Indianapolis.
The Editorial Board agrees completely and urges Hoosiers to condemn the actions of those responsible for the display.
While we recognize the Editorial Board isn’t an authority on Islam, even brief research into the subject reveals the flagrant inaccuracies and misleading information the billboard presents.
For instance, that Muhammad married a six-year-old is assumed from a saying recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari, one of the six major hadith collections of Sunni Islam.
This text is not the Quran, the religion’s central text. Rather, it is a prophetic tradition that only some Muslims consider to be historically accurate, according to The Guardian.
The Quran states that marriage is void unless entered into by consenting adults. For a large part of humanity’s history, a woman was considered an adult at the onset puberty. In fact, 500 years after Muhammad’s death, 33-year-old King John of England married a 12-year-old.
The practice of marrying at an age we would now consider “minor” was accepted worldwide for centuries.
The same critical analysis could be conducted of each of the billboard’s points. None are framed in context and almost all present the information in a misleading way.
The 600 Jews, for example, were part of an alliance arranged by Muhammad between pagans, Muslims and Jews in Medina, located in what is now Saudi Arabia.
They formed the pact to protect each other against outside threats, but one of the Jewish clans tried to defect and attack Muhammad’s forces. They were caught, tried and sentenced to death, according to PBS.
This seemingly harsh ruling is, in fact, in line with a command from the Christian Holy Bible, Deuteronomy 20:12-13, which says, “If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it.”
Concerning the other criticisms, it’s worth noting that King Solomon had 300 wives and 700 concubines. King David murdered a man in order to steal his wife. And Moses killed an Egyptian.
All of this proves religious issues can’t be painted with the stroke of a single brush.
Criticisms of Islam shouldn’t be made on the basis of a billboard. You should conduct your own research, relying on credible sources and religious scholars.
According to Pew Research Center, 55% of Americans know little or nothing about Islam. The Editorial Board believes this is responsible for the ignorance displayed alongside I-465.
Furthermore, Pew found that a person is more likely to hold a favorable view of Islam if they know a Muslim personally.
And that speaks to the point of this editorial. Your primary source for information about Islam should be Muslims.