Assalamu’alaykum Dear Sheikh,
May this email find you in the best of health and situation. I’d like to seek clarification regarding the hadith about Ka’b ibn al-Ashraf – the poet who incited to evil against the Prophet (S) and was then assassinated. This seems contradictory to the defensive nature of the Prophet. There are Muslims who adopted the idea of assassination of enemies due to this hadith.
Ka`b b. al-Ashraf was actively plotting and recruiting against the Prophet upon him blessings and peace. He had connections and influence. His beauty and eloquence were renowned among the Arabs and he only had to address a group to persuade them. He was an anti-Prophet who even incited violence against Muslim women. In such a context it is very debatable that his assassination was anything other than defensive.
In the time of the Prophet (upon him blessings and peace) speech was not innocuous but rather it was a very effective weapon, even a strategic weapon. A good lampoon could shatter the reputation of an entire tribe and eventually reduce it to poverty and extinction. This is why the greatest of the countless miracles of the Prophet (upon him blessings and peace) actually consists in speech – the most powerful and devastating of all speeches, which is the Majestic Qur’an. On this ethos one of the best readings is the chapter on the effect of speech in Qadi `Iyad’s book, “al-Shifa”.
Hajj Gibril Haddad