Islam’s Divine Savior Revealed Pt. 1
In this article we are going to revisit the issue of Muhammad’s intercession, particularly in light of a Quranic passage which we have already discussed elsewhere, in order to show how the sunna of Muhammad not only trumps the Quran, but actually elevates him to divinity and parity of status with his own deity.
No Other Helper or Intercessor Besides Allah
The Quran is quite clear that no soul, no human being, will be able to benefit or aid any person on the Day of Judgment:
And yet, verily, there are ever-watchful forces over you, noble, recording, aware of whatever you do! Behold, [in the life to come] the truly virtuous: will indeed be in bliss, whereas, behold, the wicked will indeed be in a blazing fire [a fire] which they shall enter on Judgment Day, and which they shall not [be able to] evade. And what could make thee conceive what that Judgment Day will be? And once again: What could make thee conceive what that Judgment Day will be? [It will be] a Day when no human being shall be of the least avail to another human being nafsun linafsin): for on that Day [it will become manifest that] all sovereignty is God's alone. S. 82:10-19 Muhammad Asad
Here is how the following Muslims render the specific verse in question:
The day when no person possesses anything for any other person, and the decision on that day is to God. S. 82:19 (Quran: A Reformist Translation (QRT))
A day on which no soul hath power at all for any (other) soul. The (absolute) command on that day is Allah's. Pickthall
The passage is emphatic and unambiguous. Neither human beings, nor any other creatures such as the mythical jinn, will be able to help each other since Allah shall determine (in fact, already has preordained) the destiny of every single individual on that day.
This means that intercession and mediation of any kind shall be ruled out altogether, a point which the Quran itself repeatedly makes:
Beware of a day where no person (nafsun) can avail another person (nafsin), nor will any intercession be accepted from it, nor will any ransom be taken, nor will they have supporters. S. 2:48 QRT
The Islamic scripture is also quite clear that Allah is the only intercessor and protector that a person has:
Warn with it those who realize that they will be summoned to their Lord; they do not have BESIDES HIM any protector nor intercessor; so that they may be righteous. S. 6:51 QRT – cf. Q. 6:70
God is the One who created the heavens and the earth, and everything between them in six days, then He settled to the Throne. You do not have beside Him any Lord, nor intercessor. Will you not then remember? S. 32:4 QRT
Or choose they intercessors other than Allah? Say: What! Even though they have power over nothing and have no intelligence? Say: Unto Allah belongeth ALL intercession. His is the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth. And afterward unto Him ye will be brought back. And when Allah alone is mentioned, the hearts of those who believe not in the Hereafter are repelled, and when those (whom they worship) beside Him are mentioned, behold! they are glad. S. 39:43-45 Pickthall
Muhammad to the rescue!
This is where the problems begin for the Muslims.
According to the hadith collections, Muhammad reportedly taught that he will be permitted to intercede for his followers, and on the basis of his intercession deliver some of them out of hell itself. Muhammad even went as far as to claim that his intercession would be for those Muslims who committed major acts of wickedness such as adultery and theft!
Narrated 'Imran bin Husain: The Prophet said, "Some people will be taken out of the Fire through the intercession of Muhammad they will enter Paradise and will be called Al-Jahannamiyin (the Hell Fire people)." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 76, Number 571; *)
Hadeeth # 3.
The Holy Prophet the Intercessor of the Sinners said, “My intercession is for those among my Ummah who have been destroyed by sins!”2…
Hadeeth # 9.
The Holy Prophet the Intercessor of the Sinners said, “My intercession is for the sinful among my Ummah.” On this Abu Darda submitted, “Even if he is an adulterer or a thief?” He replied, “Yes – even if he is an adulterer, even if he is a thief – contrary to the wishes of Abu Darda!!”4
2 Ibn Adi in Majma Zawaid, from Hazrat Ummul-Momineen Umme Salma…
4 Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn Ali Baghdadi from Hazrat Abu Darda. (Forty Ahadeeth on the Intercession of the Holy Prophet, by Imam Ahmad Raza Khan, English Translation by Aqib Farid Qadri, p. 5)
Hadeeth # 15.
The Holy Prophet the Intercessor of the Sinners said, “Pulpits of gold will be arranged for the Prophets and they will sit on them, and my pulpit will remain empty as I will not sit on it – but I shall stand humbly before my Lord fearing that I may be sent into Paradise while my Ummah remains behind me. I shall then pray, “O my Lord! My Ummah! My Ummah!” Allah the Supreme will proclaim, “O Mohammed! What is your wish regarding what I should do with your Ummah?” I shall submit, “O my Lord! Settle their accounts quickly!” So I will continue to intercede until I get letters to get released those who had already been sent to hell – to the extent that Maalik, the custodian of hell, will exclaim, “O Mohammed! You have not left even a bit of the Lord’s wrath among your Ummah!” 4
4 Hakim with sound chains and Tibrani & Baihaqi from Hazrat Abdullah ibn Abbas. (Ibid, p. 6; underline and italic emphasis ours)
Muhammad turns himself into another deity alongside Allah
Muhammad’s teachings as reported in the hadith collections basically imply that he shares in the divine identity–in fact, the very being–of his own deity. At the very least, the ahadith turn Muhammad into a god besides Allah.
Logically, there is simply no way around this for those Muslims who view the hadiths of their messenger as authoritative and binding:
- All intercession belongs to Allah since he alone protects and intercedes.
- Muhammad will intercede for the believers on the last day, thereby saving them from hell.
- Muhammad, therefore, shares in the unique identity of his god and is a partner with Allah in his divine work of intercession.
Or, if Muslims are uncomfortable with this syllogism, then here is one which also makes essentially the same point:
- Allah forbids the intercession of any creature since all intercession belongs entirely to him.
- Muhammad taught that Allah would allow him to intercede for Muslims at the last day.
- Muhammad is not a creature and must therefore be divine.
Any one who is remotely familiar with the Quran can immediately see the problem with this position since the Muslim scripture goes out of its way to portray Muhammad as a fallible, imperfect human being who couldn’t save anyone:
Or thou have a house of gold; or thou ascend up into heaven, and even then we will put no faith in thine ascension till thou bring down for us a book that we can read. Say (O Muhammad): My Lord be Glorified! Am I aught save a mortal messenger? S. 17:93 Pickthall
Say, "I am but a human being like you, being inspired that your god is One god. So whoever looks forward to meeting his Lord, then let him do good works and not set up any partner in the service of his Lord." S. 18:110 QRT
Verily, you (O Muhammad) will die and verily, they (too) will die. Then, on the Day of Resurrection, you will be disputing before your Lord. S. 39:30-31 Hilali-Khan
Say, "I am no more than a human being like you. I am inspired that your god is One god, therefore you shall be upright towards Him and seek His forgiveness. Woe to those who set up partners." S. 41:6 QRT
Say: "I am not the first of [God's] apostles; and [like all of them] I do not know what will be done with me or with you: for I am nothing but a plain warner." S. 46:9 Asad
Moreover, Muhammad is expressly told by his lord that he absolutely cannot and will not be able to deliver any person from hell:
Is, then one against whom the Word of punishment justified (equal to the one who avoids evil). Will you (O Muhammad) rescue him who is in the Fire? S. 39:19 Hilali-Khan
Ironically, the same collections of ahadith that deify Muhammad are also the ones which highlight Muhammad’s insecurities and incapability to benefit or save anyone!
Narrated 'Um al-'Ala:
An Ansari woman who gave the pledge of allegiance to the Prophet that the Ansar drew lots concerning the dwelling of the Emigrants. 'Uthman bin Maz'un was decided to dwell with them (i.e. Um al-'Ala's family), 'Uthman fell ill and I nursed him till he died, and we covered him with his clothes. Then the Prophet came to us and I (addressing the dead body) said, "O Abu As-Sa'ib, may Allah's Mercy be on you! I bear witness that Allah has honored you." On that the Prophet said, "How do you know that Allah has honored him?" I replied, "I do not know. May my father and my mother be sacrificed for you, O Allah's Apostle! But who else is worthy of it (if not 'Uthman)?" He said, "As to him, by Allah, death has overtaken him, and I hope the best for him. By Allah, though I am the Apostle of Allah, yet I do not know what Allah will do to me," By Allah, I will never assert the piety of anyone after him. That made me sad, and when I slept I saw in a dream a flowing stream for 'Uthman bin Maz'un. I went to Allah's Apostle and told him of it. He remarked, "That symbolizes his (good) deeds." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 266; *)
Narrated Abu Huraira:
When Allah revealed the Verse: "Warn your nearest kinsmen," Allah's Apostle got up and said, "O people of Quraish (or said similar words)! Buy (i.e. save) yourselves (from the Hellfire) as I cannot save you from Allah's Punishment; O Bani Abd Manaf! I cannot save you from Allah's Punishment, O Safiya, the Aunt of Allah's Apostle! I cannot save you from Allah's Punishment; O Fatima bint Muhammad! Ask me anything from my wealth, but I cannot save you from Allah's Punishment." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 51, Number 16; *)
Muhammad’s statements put him in the same category of those whom the Quran says cannot save or harm anybody:
SAY: "Shall we invoke, instead of God, something that can neither benefit us nor harm us, and [thus] turn around on our heels after God has guided us aright? - like one whom the satans have enticed into blundering after earthly lusts, the while his companions, trying to guide him, call out unto him [from afar],63 'Come thou to us!"' Say: "Verily, God's guidance is the only guidance: and so we have been bidden to surrender ourselves unto the Sustainer of all the worlds, S. 6:71 Asad
Said [Abraham]: "Do you then worship, instead of God, something that cannot benefit you in any way, nor harm you? Fie upon you and upon all that you worship instead of God! Will you not, then, use your reason?" S. 21:66-67 Asad
Muhammad is, therefore, guilty of turning himself into an idol, much like the ones which the pagans of his day were worshiping. As a result of this, Muhammad is directly responsible for turning his followers into idolaters by exhorting them to look to him to be their savior and intercessor on the Day of Judgment instead of Allah!
This means that adherence to Muhammad’s sunna results in committing the unforgivable sin of shirk, which is the transgression of associating a creature with the Muslim deity in his exclusive divine functions and attributes!
The Islamic scripture is quite clear that those who do so after receiving the knowledge of the “revelation” will suffer eternal torture since they are without excuse:
The One who made the land a habitat, and the sky a structure, and He sent down from the sky water with which He brought out fruit as a provision for you. So do not make any equals (andad) with God while you now know. S. 2:22 QRT
Asad’s footnote to this text is rather interesting:
13 Lit., "do not give God any compeers" (andad, pl. of nidd). There is full agreement among all commentators that this term implies any object of adoration to which some or all of God's qualities are ascribed, whether it be conceived as a deity "in its own right" or a saint supposedly possessing certain divine or semi-divine powers. This meaning can be brought out only by a free rendering of the above phrase. (Bold emphasis ours)
Other texts which refer to the subject of shirk include the following:
VERILY, God does not forgive the ascribing of divinity to aught beside Him, although He forgives any lesser sin unto whomever He wills: for he who ascribes divinity to aught beside God has indeed contrived an awesome sin. S. 4:48 Asad – cf. Q. 4:116
“… Behold, whoever ascribes divinity to any being beside God, unto him will God deny paradise, and his goal shall be the fire: and such evildoers will have none to succour them!” S. 5:72 Asad
He has inspired to you and to those before you, that if you set up partners, He will nullify all your work and you will be of the losers. Therefore, you shall serve God, and be among the appreciative. S. 39:65-66 QRT
Thus, Muhammad’s followers are a nation of mushrikin (i.e., those who ascribe partners with Allah), and are therefore on their way to hell according to the teachings of the Quran.
Muhammad’s role as intercessor denigrates his deity
Not only does Muhammad’s intercession deify him and elevate him to a parity of status with his lord, it also demeans Allah by suggesting that the Muslim god isn’t omniscient. It further implies that, in certain aspects, the so-called messenger knows more than his own deity, since the Muslim scripture is quite clear that intercession undermines the very omniscience of Allah:
They serve besides God what does not harm them or benefit them, and they say, "These are our intercessors with God." Say, "Are you informing God of what He does not know in the heavens or in the earth?" Be He glorified and high from what they set up. S. 10:18
What this basically means is that Muhammad and/or the author(s) of the Quran apparently reasoned that intercession implies that Allah was ignorant of all the facts and therefore needed someone to remind him. However, seeing that the Quran’s authors/editors assumed that Allah’s knowledge is perfect and encompasses everything that occurs within the heavens and earth,
Those who are stingy with what God has given them of His bounty should not count that it is good for them; no, it is evil for them. They will be surrounded by what they were stingy with on the day of Resurrection. To God will be the inheritance of the heavens and the earth; and God is Ever-aware of what you do. S. 3:180
They had to therefore completely reject the notion of intercession altogether. As the late Muhammad Asad stated in respect to this verse:
27 Thus, belief in the efficacy of anyone's unqualified intercession with God, or mediation between man and Him, is here equated with a denial of God's omniscience, which takes all the circumstances of the sinner and his sinning a priori into consideration. (As regards God's symbolic grant of permission to His prophets to "intercede" for their followers on the Day of Judgment, see note 7 above.) (Bold emphasis ours)
Yet such an assertion places Muslims in a dilemma since it directly conflicts with the claims of the hadiths concerning Muhammad being permitted to intercede before his lord, and that on the basis of his intercession people will be saved from hell.
Muslims must, therefore, contend with the fact that according to the so-called inspired statements of Muhammad, Allah is imperfect in his knowledge and needs his messenger to inform him on the Day of Judgment about the state of the individuals for whom he makes intercession. As such, Muhammad’s knowledge is in some sense comparable to Allah’s and even surpasses it in some respects!
What Some Muslims Are Saying
Now lest a Muslim argue that this is simply a Christian or non-Muslim perspective or spin on the data, we only need to remind them that there are certain Muslims – particularly those who follow the Quran alone – who acknowledge all of the problems that the doctrine of intercession creates for the belief in Allah’s absolute unity.
For example, here is what the translators of the Quran: A Reformist Translation have to say concerning the role of intercession in Islam and the Muslim deification of Muhammad:
002:048 Belief in intercession is a mythology common in many religions. Satan, via religious clergymen, infected the faith of many people with the virus called intercession. Intercession generates false hope that promotes human-worship. The living religious leaders distinctly discover the power of intercession for their political and economic exploitation: if their followers believe that "holy dead humans" could bestow them eternal salvation and save them from God's justice, then they would be more susceptible to follow their semi-holy leaders blindly.
None has the power of saving criminals from God's judgment. The Quran considers the faith in intercession to be shirk or polytheism. If there is any intercession, it will be in the form of testimony for the truth (2:48,123,254; 6:70,94; 7:53; 10:3; 20:109; 34:23; 39:44; 43:86; 74:48; 78:38). Ironically, the Quran informs us that Muhammad will complain about his people deserting the Quran, not "his sunna" as they claim (25:30). If there were any intercession by Muhammad, this would be the one. Muhammedans are SO IGNORANT AND ARROGANT, like their ancestors, that THEY TOO are in denial of their associating partnership with God through attributing the power of intercession, or other false powers, to God's servants (6:23-26; 16:35; 17:57; 39:3, 38; 19:81-82). Those who acknowledge the Quran do not favor one messenger over another (2:285), since all the messengers belong to the same community (21:92; 23:51-53)…
We are instructed to glorify and praise God (3:41; 3:191; 33:42; 73:8; 76:25; 4:103), not His messengers, who are only human beings like us. We are instructed by the Gracious and Loving God to utter the name of messengers by their first names, without glorifying them, and Muhammad is no different from other messengers (2:136; 2:285; 3:144). Muhammad was a human being like us (18:110; 41:6), and his name is mentioned in the Quran as Muhammad, similar to how other people are mentioned in the Quran (3:144; 33:40; 47:2; 48:29).
Uttering expressions containing salli ala after Muhammad's name, as is commonly done by Sunni and Shiites alike, is based on a distortion of the meaning of a verb demanding action of support and encouragement of a living messenger, rather than utterance of praise for a dead messenger (compare 33:56 to 33:43; 9:103; and 2:157). Despite these verses clarifying the meaning of the word; despite the fact that the Quran does not instruct us to say something, but to do something; despite the fact that the third person pronoun in the phrase indicates that it was an innovation after Muhammad's departure; despite these and many other facts, Sunni and Shiite clerics try hard to find an excuse to continue THIS FORM OF MUHAMMAD WORSHIP. Contradicting the intention and practice of the masses, some clerics even claim this phrase to be a prayer for Muhammad rather than a phrase for his praise. Muhammad, especially the Muhammad of their imaginations, should be the last person who would need the constant prayers of millions. According to them, Muhammad already received the highest rank in paradise, and again according to them he did not commit any sins. Therefore, the addressee of their prayers is wrong. They should pray for themselves, and for each other, not for Muhammad. It is akin to homeless people donating their dimes, several times a day, to the richest person in the world. It is just as absurd.
A great majority of Sunni and Shiite mushriks declare their peaceful surrender to God alone while standing in their prayers, but immediately nullify that declaration twice while sitting down. They first tell God, "You alone we worship; you alone we ask for help" and then forget what they just promised God by greeting "the prophet" in the SECOND person, "Peace be on YOU o prophet!" (as salamu alayKA ayyuhan nabiyyu), as if he was another omnipotent and omniscient god. They give lip service to monotheism while standing, and they revert to confessing their idolatry when sitting. Those who betray the meaning of "the ruler of the day of judgment" which they utter numerous times in their prayers (1:4; 82:17-19), those who contradict the purpose of the prayer (20:15), are obviously those who are oblivious to their own prayers (107:4-7; 8:35). In defiance of the Quran, many sects and mystic orders competed with each other to put Muhammad in a position that Muhammad unequivocally rejected (39:30 and 16:20, 21). Also see, 2:123,254; 3:80; 5:109; 6:51; 6:70,82,94; 7:53; 9:80; 10:3,18; 13:14-16; 19:87; 21:28; 33:64-68; 34:23,41; 39:3,44; 43:86; 53:19-23; 74:48; 83:11.
After the departure of Jesus, the Pharisee Paul turned [sic] Jesus into a divine sacrifice and a middle man between his flock and God: "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time" (1 Timothy 2:5-6). The Catholic Church went even further and added Mary and numerous saints to the ranks of the holy power brokers.
The followers of Sunni and Shiite sects follow a similar doctrine. They replace one idol with another, and consider Muhammad to be "the mediator" between God and men; they assert that without accepting Muhammad, none can attain salvation! Following the tradition of Paul [sic], and then the tradition of Catholic Church, they too produced their own saints, thereby creating a Pyramid scheme of mediators. Interestingly, some later idols have surpassed the main idol in popularity. For instance, in Iran, people worship the second-generation idol, Ali, more than they worship Muhammad. They invoke Ali's name on almost every occasion. In Syria, a third-generation idol, Hussain, is more popular than both Ali and Muhammad. The long list of idols varies from country to country, from town to town, from order to order, and even includes the names of living local idols as well. (Pp. 62-63; capital and underline emphasis ours)
005:109 What about those who believe that Muhammad would save them on the Day of Judgment? They will be rejected by THEIR IDOL on that day, and they will be surprised to hear his intercession in the form of testimony to the truth (25:30). Also, see 2:48. (P. 123; capital and italic emphasis ours)
039:003 There is not much difference between the Meccan polytheists and modern polytheists who turned Islam into a limited corporation or limited liability partnership. Those who expect their prophets and saints to one day intercede on their behalf are setting up partners with God, EVEN THOUGH THEY DO NOT ADMIT IT (6:23). Also, see 2:48. (P. 299; capital and italic emphasis ours)
Muhammad Asad says something similar in his comments on Q. 19:88:
76 This allusion to the Christian belief in Jesus as "the son of God" - and, in general, to every belief in God's "incarnation" in a created being - takes up the theme broached in verse 81 above: namely, the deification of powers or beings other than God "with a view to their being a source of strength" to those who turn to them. But whereas verse 81 refers specifically to the godless who accord a quasi-divine status to material wealth and power and abandon themselves entirely to the pursuit of worldly success, the present passage refers to people who, while believing in God, deify prophets and saints, too, in the subconscious hope that they might act as "mediators" between them and the Almighty. Since this deification offends against the principle of God's transcendent oneness and uniqueness, it implies a breach of man's "bond with God" and, if consciously persisted in, constitutes an unforgivable sin (cf. 4:48 and 116). (Bold emphasis ours)
The QRT translators further write:
074:046 The majority of Jews, Christians, Sunnis and Shiites do not acknowledge the Day of Judgment. According to the definition of the Quran, the ruler and judge of that day is God alone (1:4) and none can help or harm the other (82:19). Those who believe in intercession, by their very belief, have denied the Day of Judgment as defined by God. Atheists, on the other hand, deny the Day of Judgment explicitly. (P. 373; italic emphasis ours)
And here is what they say in one of the boxes on p. 458 where they contrast Islamic tradition with the teachings of the Quran. Bold and capital emphasis ours:
We should pray to God alone while we are standing in sala prayers, but when we sit down we should call Muhammad as he is alive, omnipresent, and omniscient by addressing him "essalamu alayKA ayyuha al-nabiyyu" (o prophet, peace be upon YOU).
This is an obvious innovation, since Muhammad could not have uttered these words in his prayers; otherwise, he would be a schizophrenic (35:14, 40; 4:101-103; 29:45). In sala prayers, we should ONLY commemorate God, declare our allegiance to Him and ask for His help. In prayer telling God the story of Moses and Pharaoh or the rules of inheritance, description of paradise and hell, etc., is not proper (17:110-111; 20:14; 72:18-19).
In light of such a candid admission it isn’t surprising that these Quran alone Muslims have no problem acknowledging the fact that the Islamic traditions have basically transformed Muhammad into another god besides Allah:
“The only shahada (testimony) about the messengership of Muhammad is mentioned in verse 63:1, and those who feel the need for such a testimony are described as hypocrites. There are different reasons for why a person might be considered a hypocrite while he or she is uttering the expression ashadu anna Muhammadan rasululullah (I testify that Muhammad is a messenger of God). Today, the most common hypocrisy is that those who utter this phrase in fact have considered Muhammad to be much more than a messenger, since they reject his message and messengership by not following the verses of the Quran and associating volumes of fabricated narration and sectarian jurisprudence with it. Their testimony regarding Muhammad's messengership is lip service, since THEY CONSIDER HIM A GOD BY GIVING HIM THE POWER OF INTERCESSION, the power of collaborating with God in decreeing rules for eternal salvation, the power of amending and abrogating God's law, the power of fabricating prohibitions in the name of God, and the authority of explaining the "ambiguous" words in God's book. Despite the words of Muhammad's Lord, they do not consider Muhammad a human being like them (18:110; 41:6). They do not believe what they say when they say "Muhammad is God's servant" since they consider the title "messenger/mailman" (rasul) of God to be an insult. They can utter God's name without phrases of praise, but they cannot utter Muhammad's name without words of praise. Ironically, they establish their custom of praising Muhammad more than God through distorted and abused meanings of certain verses. Besides, they violate the clear Quranic instruction for not discriminating among His messengers; they put Muhammad in competition with other messengers and consider him high above other prophets and messengers. In today's Sunni mosques, unlike the masjid of Muhammad's and his monotheist companions’ (72:18; 20:14), you will find the names of many idols smirking beside the name of God. In addition to Muhammad's name, one may find the names of Abu Bakr, Omar, Osman, Ali, Hasan, and Husayn. The Shiites have their own set of idols and they too adorn their mosques with their names.
“The list of ways Sunnis and Shiites idolize Muhammad can fill an entire book. Nevertheless, they think that they are monotheists, as today's Trinitarian Christians do [sic]. Religious leaders dupe their followers by restricting the meaning of ‘idols’ to pictures and statues; in fact, the idols during Muhammad's time were abstract names and those mushriks considered themselves to be monotheists (53:19-28; 6:22-24; 6:148; 16:35)…” (Pp. 85-86; bold emphasis ours)
We couldn’t have said it any better!
The problems are far from over for the Muslims, as we shall see in the next part.