The Great Shepherd of the Sheep

UI – Part 226 –The Great Shepherd of the Sheep


Muhammad took pride in caring for animals.  His uncle, Abu-Talib, who raised him, was a camel-herder.  Muhammad worked for him.  He performed his tasks as a caretaker of camels until the age 25, when he met and married a woman 15 years his elder, Khadija.  A telling from historians (although hundreds of years after Muhammad’s death)(Bukhari: vol 8, Book 82, Number 796) relate the story of camel thieves who were captured and tortured by Muhammad.  Not necessarily an act of a kind, forgiving, human being.  Their eyes were branded with a red hot iron and their hands and feet were cut off, not cauterized, and then they were left to die without water, even when requested. The treatment by this mighty prophet considered the example to emulate, born out of this event, is expressed in the Quran (5:33):

The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter

From the Bukhari reference: Abu Qilaba[i] said, “These people committed theft and murder and fought against Allah and the Apostle.”

Are all non-believers thus considered as the thieves of the camel, the murderer of the camel herder?


In a public debate, as pre Islamic Arabs were prone to conduct in competition for superiority (who is the best), called ‘mufakharah’, Muhammad also debated the camel-herder vs. the shepherd, as from Al-Tabari’s[ii] writing of The Supplement to the Supplemented[iii], “The camel herders said, “What are you, shepherds, do you (ever) surpass anyone for any (merit) or gain anything (worthwhile)?  They are merely wretched sheep you graze, then bring back in the evening.” (Thus) the camel herders silenced the shepherds, whereupon the Prophet said, “Da’ud was sent (as a prophet), and he had been a shepherd, Musa was sent (as a prophet), and he had been a shepherd.  And I was sent (as a prophet), and I had grazed the sheep of my family at Aiyad.  So the shepherd won the contest from the camel herders.

Muhammad was a shepherd of sheep as well as a camel herder, but apparently saw as a prophet the superiority of the shepherd.  Was this a Biblical discovery, from the history of Isa (Jesus) who was The Good Shepherd, considering all humans his sheep, to be protected. The root of prophecy came from persons who tended sheep, caring for those who would follow, and as such whose voice became music to the ears of the lamb who would follow. From John 10:14-16: “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and the sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep.  I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen.  I must bring them also.  They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”

For the Muslim the constant cry of the scholar, the ulema, the authority, the fundamentalist, or the Islamist is that Islam only wants what Allah wants.  It is in that way to be and remain superior. Egypt is the example where the Muslim Brotherhood and the President Morsi supporters made such a proclamation and as a result Egypt under their autocratic rule was to be governed according to Sharia law. According to this position, any and all Muslims who disagreed, who did not want to be governed by Sharia, whatever their arguments and rationale, were ultimately showing that they were at odds with Islam itself.  They are of a lesser faith, as infidels and subject to the ‘severe chastisement’ as the Quran writes repeatedly.    But do they, the Islamists, know their sheep?  Or are they simply attempting absolute control using Allah as God, in name only?

The sheep Morsi desired, the majority, rejected his attempts to monopolize a people, destroy the economy of Egypt and create an Islamic State.  For many that would have been an Islamic hell.  Morsi is now incarcerated, removed from his perch, with the hope that the Arab Spring may flow anew and a pluralistic, secular, Egypt be reborn.  Morsi was not, and the Islamists are not, good shephards.  They were prepared to use the violent tactics of Muhammad to achieve their end.  They were stopped before they took a dominant position by force.  Their voices were not those the sheep could follow.

The Great Shepherd of the Sheep

When we pray may our prayers be heard.  Can they be by any other than the living, as the incarnate lives, as God lives, who hears the prayers of the believers.  Is there value in praying towards a mortal human who died?  We may pray for the dead, but our requests can only be answered by the living, the incarnate, the incomprehensible, our God.  Allah may be God, but as defined by the human, Muhammad, he has been contorted to conform with the power of man’s libido, not of God’s Will.  Allah, by Muhammad’s definition, is not the true God.

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.  Amen.”  (Hebrews 1: 20-21)

Grace and Peace

[i] A Hadith narrator

[ii] (from Wikipedia) – Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari (838–923 CE) was a prominent and influential scholar, historian and exegete of the Qur’an from Tabaristan, modern Mazandaran in Iran.  He is most influential and best known works are his Qur’anic commentary known as Tafsir al-Tabari and his historical chronicle Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Muluk (History of the Prophets and Kings), often referred to Tarikh al-Tabari.

[iii] The History of alTabari Vol. 39. Excerpts from the Book Entitled the Supplement to the Supplemented:

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