What did the beheaded Sudanese newspaper editor republish?

Mohamed Taha Mohamed Ahmed, the editor in chief of the Sudanese Al-Wifaq newspaper was sadly kidnapped and beheaded.

Last year, Taha was charged with insulting religion. Despite calls for his execution and extensive demonstrations, the charges were dropped.

The charges stemmed from an article that was reprinted by Taha that questioned the ancestry of Prophet Muhammad.

Many news media stated that Taha merely reprinted material from books by the famed 14th century Egyptian historian and prolific author, al-Maqrizi المقريزي. For example, the BBC, BBC Arabic, ABC Australia, and Asharq al-Awsat (in Arabic, with one user comment correcting the Maqrizi). It was also picked up at face value by academics, such as Howard Friedman who says:

... published an article written by a well-known Islamic historian. The article examined a 500-year-old Islamic manuscript that claims Mohammed's father was not Abdullah, as Muslims traditionally believe. Taha wrote a commentary next to the article, rejecting its premises.

The Sudan Tribune incorrectly quotes the defamation of Omar ibn Al-Aas عمر بن العاص which is actually an amalgamation of two characters: Amr ibn Al-Aas عمرو بن العاص, or Omar ibn al-Khattab عمر بن الخطاب, both companions, but only the latter being a successor.

Not the historian Al-Maqrizi

However, the republished material came from a book called al-Majhool fi Hayat al-Rasool المجهول في حياة الرسول by one "Doctor Al Maqrizi", whose identity is unknown.

The book has been attributed to several people, such as:

al-Afif al-Akhdar العفيف الاخضر

Some allegations were made against the Algerian al-Afif al-Akhdar by some of his opponents.

Evangelizing Christian Missionaries

The most plausible author is some Christian missionary organization that wants to "witness" to Muslims.

Style and Claims

The book is a classical case study of anti-Islamic missionary literature that uses selective and partial quotes, broad claims, jumping to preconceived conclusions, using unreliable sources and overgeneralizations.

The book's objective is clear in "refuting any prophethood from outside the progeny of Isaac", and to "guide Muslims to the light of Christ".

Sad ending

It seems that Mohamed Taha was a sensationalist editor wanting to stir controversy. He got his controversy by publishing a chapter from the book, but good more than that in the long run. First the trial and demonstration against him, then a gruesome execution.

What is ironic is that he was a prominent Islamic journalist, former member of the National Islamic Front, close to the Islamic minded government of al-Bashir and Al-Turabi, and was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.


  • Ashraf Abdel Qader disputing al-Afif being the author (Arabic). The author quotes from the book, and clearly shows that its mission is Christianizing Muslims by casting doubts on the life of the prophet.
  • Followup article by the same author (Arabic).