Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Allah & Mo., Inc.

Islam's Foundational Partnership

Sam Shamoun & Jochen Katz

According to noted Muslim historian and exegete al-Tabari Muhammad boasted to his companions about the meaning of his specific names:

Muhammad b. al-Muthanna – Ibn Abi ‘Adi – ‘Abd al-Rahman (that is, al-Mas‘udi) – ‘Amr b. Murrah – Abu ‘Ubaydah – Abu Musa [al-Ash‘ari]: The Messenger of God named himself to us in various ways. He said, ‘I am Muhammad [the one who is praised], Ahmad [the most praiseworthy], al-Muqaffi [the follower], al-Hashir [the last in succession], Nabi al-tawbah wa’l-rahmah [the Prophet of repentance and mercy].’" (The History of al-Tabari – The Last Years of the Prophet, [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany], Volume IX, pp. 155-156; underline emphasis ours)

This is also found in al-Bukhari:

Narrated Jubair bin Mutim:
Allah's Apostle said, "I have five names: I am Muhammad and Ahmad; I am Al-Mahi through whom Allah will eliminate infidelity; I am Al-Hashir who will be the first to be resurrected, the people being resurrected there after; and I am also Al-'Aqib (i.e. There will be no prophet after me)." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 732, *)

Narrated Jubair bin Mutim:
I heard Allah's Apostle saying, 'I have several names: I am Muhammad and I am Ahmad, and I am Al-Mahi with whom Allah obliterates Kufr (disbelief), and I am Al-Hashir (gatherer) at whose feet (i.e. behind whom) the people will be gathered (on the Day of Resurrection), and I am Al-Aqib (i.e. who succeeds the other prophets in bringing about good)." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 419)

At first glance, being named "the one who is praised" (Muhammad) and "most praiseworthy" (Ahmad) seems rather innocent and may suggest nothing more than that the person bearing such names is a praiseworthy and honorable individual. That is, until we examine such names in light of the position and status which the hadith literature gives to Muhammad and the statements of specific Quranic verses which place him on the same level with his god Allah.

It is important that we quote from specific Islamic reference works in order to help the readers see how both the Quran and Islamic tradition have elevated Muhammad to the level of divinity.

We begin by citing from Islamic reformer Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab’s book, hailed as one of the greatest scholars by Salafi Muslims (A, B, C)(1), which deals with the concept of Tauhid or Islamic monotheism. Abdul-Wahhab carefully outlines various issues that Muslims must embrace or avoid if they want to insure that they are truly worshiping Allah alone and not violating their belief in the absolute unity of Allah.

According to Abdul-Wahhab one of the vitally important things that a Muslim must avoid is to use the Arabic conjunction wa ("and") when speaking of Allah along with someone or something else. A Muslim should use the conjunction thumma ("then"), or some other formulation which will avoid associating Allah with something. He notes that:

A Jewish man came to the Prophet and said: "Verily, you (Muslims) commit Shirk, for you say: ‘As Allah wills AND as you will;’ and you say: ‘By the Ka’bah!’" And so the Prophet ordered whoever wanted to swear, to say: "By the Lord of the Ka’bah" and to say: "As Allah wills, THEN as you will." (An-Nasaa’ee, it was declared saheeh by Albanee in as Saheehah # 137 and declared saheeh by Adh-Dhahabee in his checking of Al Mustadrak and declared saheeh by Ibn Hajar in Al Isaabah 4/389)

A man came to the Prophet and he said: "As Allah AND you will," at which the Prophet said: "Would you set me up as a partner besides Allah? As Allah Alone Wills" (An-Nasaa’ee, declared authentic (hasan) by Albanee in as Saheehah # 139)

On the authority of At-Tufail the half brother of Aishah it is reported that he said: "I saw in a dream that I came upon a number of Jews and I said to them: ‘You are indeed a good people were it not that you claim ‘Uzair is the son of Allah.’ They replied: ‘You too are good, were it not that you say: As Allah wills AND as Muhammad wills.’ Then, I came upon a number of Christians and I said to them: ‘You are indeed a good people were it not that you claim the Messiah (Jesus) is the son of Allah.’ They replied: ‘You are also good, were it not that you say: As Allah wills AND as Muhammad wills.’ When I awoke I told someone about this then I went to the Prophet and repeated it to him. He asked me: ‘Have you told anyone about this?’ I said: ‘Yes.’ Then he went to the pulpit and, after praising Allah, he said: ‘At-Tufail had a dream which he has already communicated to some of you. You used to say something which I was prevented from forbidding to you until now. Henceforth do not say: As Allah wills AND as Muhammad wills, but say: What Allah Alone Wills.’" (Ibn Maajah, Albanee mentioned it in as Saheehah # 138, Al Haythamee said in Majma Az-Zawaaid: the men in its chain are reliable according to the conditions of Imam Muslim) (Kitab At-Tawheed, by Sheikh ul-Islam Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab, translated by: Compilation and Research Department Dar-us-Salam [Dar-us-Salam Publications Riyadh-Saudi Arabia, 1996], Chapter 43: Saying: "As Allah Wills and You Will", pp. 21-22, *; capital, italic and underline emphasis ours)

A renowned Muslim scholar named Qadi Iyad Ibn Musa al-Yahsubi is another scholar who agrees that the conjunction wa should be avoided when speaking of Allah and something else together. Yet he makes an exception in the case of the Islamic creed or confession of faith!

Qatada said, "Allah exalted his fame in this world and the Next. There is no speaker, witness nor anyone doing the prayer who fails to say, ‘There is no god but Allah AND Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.’"

Abu Sa'id al-Khudri related that the Prophet said, "Jibril, peace be upon him, came to me and said, ‘My Lord and your Lord says, ‘Do you know how I have exalted your fame?"’ I said, ‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’ He said, 'When I am mentioned you are mentioned with Me.’"

Ibn ‘Ata quoted a hadith qudsi saying, "I completed belief with your being mentioned with Me." And another one which says, "I have made your mention PART OF My mention so whoever mentions Me, mentions you."

Ja'far ibn Muhammad as-Sadiq, "No one mentions you as the Messenger but that he mentions Me as the Lord."

The fact that mention of the Prophet is directly connected to mention of Allah also shows that obedience to the Prophet is connected to obedience to Allah and his name to Allah's name. Allah says, "Obey Allah and His Messenger" (2:32) and "Believe in Allah and His Messenger." (4:136) Allah joins them together using the conjunction wa WHICH IS THE CONJUNCTION OF PARTNERSHIP. IT IS NOT PERMITTED TO USE THIS CONJUNCTION IN CONNECTION WITH ALLAH IN THE CASE OF ANYONE EXCEPT THE PROPHET.

Hudhayfa said that the Prophet said, "None of you should say, ‘What Allah wills AND (wa) so-and-so wills.’ Rather say, ‘What Allah wills.’ Then stop and say, ‘So-and-so wills.’"

Al-Khattabi said, "The Prophet has guided you to correct behaviour in putting the will of Allah before the will of others. He chose ‘THEN’ (thumma) which implies sequence and deference as opposed to ‘AND’ (wa) WHICH IMPLIES PARTNERSHIP."

Something similar is mentioned in another hadith. Someone was speaking in the presence of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and said, "Whoever obeys Allah AND His Messenger has been rightly guided, and whoever rebels against them both (joining them together by using the dual form) …" The Prophet said to him, "What a bad speaker you are! Get up! [Or he said: Get out!]"

Abu Sulayman said, "He disliked the two names being joined together in that way BECAUSE IT IMPLIES EQUALITY." … (Iyad, Kitab Ash-shifa bi ta'rif huquq al-Mustafa (Healing by the recognition of the Rights of the Chosen One), translated by Aisha Abdarrahman Bewley [Madinah Press, Inverness, Scotland, U.K., third reprint 1991, paperback], pp. 7-8; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)


"… He coupled his name with His own name, and his pleasure with His pleasure. He made him one of the two pillars of tawhid." (Ibid., p. 27)


Ibn ‘Abbas said, "Written on the door of the Garden is: I am Allah. There is no god but Me. Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. I will not punish anyone who says that." (Ibid., p. 90)

Notice that even though this Muslim jurist candidly admitted that the conjunction implies partnership, and therefore equality, making Muhammad a co-equal partner with Allah, he evidently did not see how adding Muhammad’s name to Allah through the use of this very conjunction makes this a clear act of idolatry. More specifically, the Islamic creed causes Muslims to commit shirk, or the sin of associating partners with the Creator which the Quran says is the unpardonable sin (cf. Q. 4:48, 116).

For more on the Muslim creed please consult the following articles:

Muhammad: Co-Possessor of the World

Astonishingly, Muhammad is said to co-own the planet since it says in a hadith that the entire earth belongs to both Allah AND him:

VI: Expelling the Jews from the Arabian peninsula

'Umar said that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "We will let you remain in that as long as Allah lets you remain there."

2996. It is related that Abu Hurayra said, "While we were in the mosque, the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came out and said, ‘Go to the Jews.’ We went out until we came to the house of al-Midras. He said, ‘Become Muslim and you will be safe. Know that the earth belongs to Allah AND His Messenger. I want to expel you from this land. Whoever of you has some property should sell it. However, the earth belongs to Allah AND His Messenger.’" (Aisha Bewley, Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, Chapter 63. Chapters on the Jizya and Truces; *; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)

This, perhaps, explains why the Quran speaks of Allah restoring to his messenger the plunder and possessions of the peoples:

And whatever Allah restored to His Messenger from them you did not press forward against it any horse or a riding camel but Allah gives authority to His messengers against whom He pleases, and Allah has power over all things. Whatever Allah has restored to His Messenger from the people of the towns, it is for Allah AND for the Messenger, and for the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer, so that it may not be a thing taken by turns among the rich of you, and whatever the Messenger gives you, accept it, and from whatever he forbids you keep back, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; surely Allah is severe in retributing (evil): S. 59:6-7

It makes perfect sense to speak of restoring the property of others to Muhammad since all that the people possess actually belong to him seeing that he is a co-possessor of the earth and everything within it.

And because the earth belongs entirely to Muhammad his followers have been given permission to pray wherever they feel like:

Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah:

The Prophet said, "I have been given five things which were not given to any one else before me.

1. Allah made me victorious by awe, (by His frightening my enemies) for a distance of one month's journey.

2. The earth has been made for me (and for my followers) a place for praying and a thing to perform Tayammum, therefore anyone of my followers can pray wherever the time of a prayer is due.

3. The booty has been made Halal (lawful) for me yet it was not lawful for anyone else before me.

4. I have been given the right of intercession (on the Day of Resurrection).

5. Every Prophet used to be sent to his nation only but I have been sent to all mankind. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 7, Number 331)

Muhammad’s Knowledge

As if this weren’t bad enough, there are specific narratives classified as sound by Sunni Muslims which use the conjunction wa in reference to Allah and Muhammad both knowing the same thing:

Narrated Ibn Abbas:
… He [Muhammad] ordered them to believe in Allah, and asked them, "Do you know what is meant by belief in Allah?" They said, "Allah AND His Apostle know best." He said, "To testify that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah, the One, Who has no partners with Him, AND that Muhammad is Allah's Apostle; and to offer prayers perfectly and to pay Zakat." … (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 91, Number 371, *)

Narrated Abu Dharr:
Once I was with the Prophet in the mosque at the time of sunset. The Prophet said, "O Abu Dharr! Do you know where the sun sets?" I replied, "Allah AND His Apostle know best." He said, "It goes and prostrates underneath (Allah's) Throne; and that is Allah's Statement:-- ‘And the sun runs on its fixed course for a term (decreed). And that is the decree of All-Mighty, the All-Knowing…’" (36.38) (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 326)

Narrated 'Ali:
… 'Umar bin Al-Khattab said, "Verily he has betrayed Allah, His Apostle, and the believers! Allow me to chop his neck off!" The Prophet said, "O 'Umar! What do you know? Perhaps Allah looked upon the Badr warriors and said, ‘Do whatever you like, for I have ordained that you will be in Paradise.’" On that 'Umar wept and said, "Allah AND His Apostle know best." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 74, Number 276, *)


Narrated Mu'adh bin Jabal:
The Prophet said, "O Mu'adh! Do you know what Allah's Right upon His slaves is?" I said, "Allah AND His Apostle know best." The Prophet said, "To worship Him (Allah) Alone and to join none in worship with Him (Allah). Do you know what their right upon Him is?" I replied, "Allah AND His Apostle know best." The Prophet said, "Not to punish them (if they do so)." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 470, *)

Doesn’t the use of the conjunction in all of the above narratives imply that Muhammad knows whatever Allah knows thereby making him a co-equal partner with Allah in knowledge? Yet wouldn’t this clearly contradict the explicit testimony of the Quran that Muhammad doesn’t know what Allah knows and is ignorant of the unseen?

Say (O Muhammad): "I possess no power of benefit or hurt to myself except as Allah wills. If I had the knowledge of the Ghaib (unseen), I should have secured for myself an abundance of wealth, and no evil should have touched me. I am but a warner, and a bringer of glad tidings unto people who believe." S. 7:188 Hilali-Khan

If so, then doesn’t this conclusively show that the so-called sound narratives are contradicting the Quran?

Obedience to Muhammad as a sign of Deification

In the above sections we had been citing from the hadith literature to show how Muslims have violated their own concept of Islamic monotheism by grouping both Allah and Muhammad together through the use of the Arabic conjunction which scholars say denotes partnership, thereby making Muhammad Allah’s equal.

Yet not every Muslim will accept these statements from the hadith literature since there is a growing number of Muslims who reject the hadiths altogether (1, 2). They may even use these same narratives to prove that Muslims have corrupted the true religion of Islam and in the process ended up turning Muhammad into a god.

With this in mind we want to focus our attention on the Muslim scripture to show that the same problem exists within the Quran itself. Let the reader recall that earlier we quoted Qadi Iyad who made mention that obeying Muhammad is directly connected with obedience to Allah. The Qadi was basically getting this from the Quran since it quite often uses the conjunction wa to connect obedience and belief in Allah and Muhammad together.

The reader should keep in mind that all of the following citations use the conjunction wa ("and"):

And obey Allah AND the Messenger, that you may be shown mercy. S. 3:132

These are Allah's limits, and whoever obeys Allah AND His Messenger, He will cause him to enter gardens beneath which rivers flow, to abide in them; and this is the great achievement. And whoever disobeys Allah AND His Messenger and goes beyond His limits, He will cause him to enter fire to abide in it, and he shall have an abasing chastisement. S. 4:13-14

And whoever obeys Allah AND the Messenger, these are with those upon whom Allah has bestowed favors from among the prophets and the truthful and the martyrs and the good, and a goodly company are they! S. 4:69

Obey Allah, AND obey the Messenger, and beware (of evil): if ye do turn back, know ye that it is Our Messenger's duty to proclaim (the message) in the clearest manner. S. 5:92 A. Yusuf Ali

Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah AND His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection. S. 9:29

The response of the believers, when they are invited to Allah AND His Messenger that he may judge between them, is only to say: We hear and we obey; and these it is that are the successful. S. 24:51

Say: Obey Allah AND obey the Messenger; but if you turn back, then on him rests that which is imposed on him and on you rests that which is imposed on you; and if you obey him, you are on the right way; and nothing rests on the Messenger but clear delivering (of the message). S. 24:54

It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah AND His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed in a plain error. S. 33:36 Hilali-Khan

Verily, We have sent you as a witness, as a bearer of glad tidings, and as a warner. In order that you may believe in Allah AND His Messenger, and that you assist and honour him and glorify his praises morning and afternoon. S. 48:8-9

Do you fear that you will not (be able to) give in charity before your consultation? So when you do not do it and Allah has turned to you (mercifully), then keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate and obey Allah AND His Messenger; and Allah is Aware of what you do. S. 58:13

There are many more passages that use this formulation, e.g. 3:32, 8:1, 20, 24, 46, 9:71, 24:47, 33:33, 66, 47:33, 49:14, 64:12, and some additional ones that will shortly be discussed in more detail because they reveal further aspects.

In Islamic and quranic understanding, the Quran comes fully and only from Allah, not the least bit originated from Muhammad or other human sources. Therefore, why would Muhammad's name even have to be mentioned if this is the meaning of the phrase? It would not add anything to "obey Allah" (in what he has commanded you in the Quran). In fact, in that case this formulation would only confuse the concept that the Quran is not from Muhammad in any way, suggesting that Allah and Muhammad are something like co-authors who have to be obeyed together since they together are the source of the Quran.

Nowhere in the Bible do we find such a combination, "obey God and his prophet". If something is clearly the word of God, there is no need to add the name of the messenger into the command for obedience towards God and His word. And if it is not the word of God, then adding the name of the messenger doesn't make it any more authoritative either.

Our conclusion is also supported by the fact that in several instances, e.g. 5:92, 24:54 etc., the word "obey" is explicitly repeated, i.e. "obey Allah and obey the messenger".

Moreover, if that latter interpretation is correct, then one would expect to find other places in the Quran where it speaks only about obedience to Muhammad without even mentioning Allah explicitly in the exhortation to obey, just as it would be no surprise to find the command to obey Allah without mentioning Muhammad. And that is indeed the case. The two (Allah and the messenger) are nearly always mentioned together when the Quran demands obedience from its listeners, but one can also find the command to obey the messenger used separately as the next several quotations will show:

Only those are believers who believe in Allah AND His Messenger, and when they are with him on a momentous affair they go not away until they have asked HIS permission; surely they who ask your permission are they who believe in Allah and His Messenger; so when they ask your permission for some affair of theirs, give permission to whom you please of them and ask forgiveness for them from Allah; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Do not hold the Messenger's calling (you) among you to be like your calling one to the other; Allah indeed knows those who steal away from among you, concealing themselves; therefore let those beware who go against his order lest a trial afflict them or there befall them a painful chastisement. S. 24:62-63

Only those are true believers who wait for Muhammad's permission (not Allah's permission), and it is up to Muhammad to give it or to withhold it (give permission to whom YOU please), i.e. whether or not one obeys Muhammad's word determines one's state as a genuine believer.

Even stronger are these verses:

Whoever obeys the messenger has obeyed Allah, and whoever turns away: We have not sent thee as a warder over them. S. 4:80 Pickthall

Surely those who swear allegiance to you do but swear allegiance to Allah; the hand of Allah is above their hands. Therefore whoever breaks (his faith), he breaks it only to the injury of his own soul, and whoever fulfills what he has covenanted with Allah, He will grant him a mighty reward. S. 48:10

You want to obey Allah? Good, you can do this by simply obeying the messenger. Whoever obeys Muhammad, has already obeyed Allah. By obeying Muhammad, one obeys Allah. Obedience to Muhammad is declared to be synonymous with obedience to Allah. Muhammad has, for all practical purposes, taken the place of Allah.

In fact, one’s entire salvation is determined by one’s obedience and devotion to Muhammad:

Say, (O Muhammad, to mankind): If ye love Allah, follow me; Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. S. 3:31 Pickthall

Allah has promised to those of you who believe and do good that He will most certainly make them rulers in the earth as He made rulers those before them, and that He will most certainly establish for them their religion which He has chosen for them, and that He will most certainly, after their fear, give them security in exchange; they shall serve Me, not associating aught with Me; and whoever is ungrateful after this, these it is who are the transgressors. And keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate and obey the Messenger, so that mercy may be shown to you. S. 24:55-56

Have you not seen those who are forbidden secret counsels, then they return to what they are forbidden, and they hold secret counsels for sin and revolt and disobedience to the Messenger, and when they come to you they greet you with a greeting with which Allah does not greet you, and they say in themselves: Why does not Allah punish us for what we say? Hell is enough for them; they shall enter it, and evil is the resort. S. 58:8

And notice that here:

Verily, those who annoy Allah AND His Messenger (Inna allatheena yuthoona Allaha wa-rasoolahu) Allah has cursed them in this world, and in the Hereafter, and has prepared for them a humiliating torment. S. 33:57 Hilali-Khan

Muslims are warned against annoying or molesting Allah and his messenger whereas in this next verse:

Among them are men who molest the Prophet (Wa-minhumu allatheena yuthoona al-nabiyya) and say, "He is (all) ear." Say, "He listens to what is best for you: he believes in God, has faith in the Believers, and is a Mercy to those of you who believe." But those who molest the Apostle will have a grievous penalty. S. 9:61 Y. Ali

Muhammad alone is mentioned without any reference to his god.

What makes this all the more intriguing is what Muhammad had to say in regard to the exegesis of the following citation:

The Jews say, 'Ezra is the Son of God'; the Christians say, 'The Messiah is the Son of God.' That is the utterance of their mouths, conforming with the unbelievers before them. God assail them! How they are perverted! They have taken their rabbis and their monks as lords apart from God, and the Messiah, Mary's son -- and they were commanded to serve but One God; there is no god but He; glory be to Him, above that they associate – S. 9:30-31

Regarding Q. 9:31, Ibn Kathir noted that Muhammad supposedly said that the way Jews and Christians deified their rabbis and monks was by giving the latter their complete allegiance and obedience:

<They took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah, and the Messiah, son of Maryam> [9:31].

Imam Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Jarir At-Tabari recorded a Hadith via several chains of narration, from 'Adi bin Hatim, may Allah be pleased with him, who became a Christian during the time of Jahiliyyah. When the call of the Messenger of Allah reached his area, 'Adi ran away to Ash-Sham, and his sister and several of his people were captured. The Messenger of Allah freed his sister and gave her gifts. So she went to her brother and encouraged him to become Muslim and to go to the Messenger of Allah. 'Adi, who was one of the chiefs of his people (the tribe of Tai') and whose father, Hatim At-Ta’i, was known for his generosity, went to Al-Madinah. When the people announced his arrival, 'Adi went to the Messenger of Allah wearing a silver cross around his neck. The Messenger of Allah recited this Ayah;

<They took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah>.

'Adi commented, "I said, ‘They did not worship them.’" The Prophet said,

((Yes they did. They (rabbis and monks) prohibited the allowed for them (Christians and Jews) and allowed the prohibited, and they obeyed them. This is how they worshiped them.)) …

<They took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah…>

that the Christians and Jews obeyed their monks and rabbis in whatever they allowed or prohibited for them…" (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged), Surat Al-A'raf to the end of Surah Yunus, abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, London, Lahore; First Edition: May 2000], Volume 4, pp. 409-410; bold emphasis ours)

Yet Muhammad had no problem demanding this very same kind of blind obedience and allegiance from his own followers! If unquestioningly submitting to the whims and dictates of the rabbis and monks is an act of deification, an act of worship, then Muslims are worshiping and deifying Muhammad for giving him the very same kind of allegiance; and yet they do so on the express and strict orders of Muhammad. Worse yet, according to Muhammad they are actually doing so on the express orders of Allah, which means that it is Allah who is demanding that Muslims deify and worship Muhammad!

Note: Nowhere in the Holy Bible do we find the command to obey rabbis or monks or even prophets in the way that obedience is demanded for Muhammad in the Quran. The Quran goes vastly beyond anything that is found in the Jewish or Christian scriptures.

Finally and even more amazingly, obedience to Muhammad actually takes precedence over worshiping Allah!

Narrated Abu Said bin Al-Mu'alla:
While I was praying in the Mosque, Allah's Apostle called me but I did not respond to him. Later I said, "O Allah's Apostle! I was praying." He said, "Didn't Allah say—‘Give your response to Allah (by obeying Him) and to His Apostle when he calls you?’" (8.24) … (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 1)

CXLII: "O you who believe! Respond to Allah, AND to the Messenger, when He calls you to what will bring you to life! Know that Allah intervenes between a man and his heart and that you will be gathered to Him." (8:24)

4370. It is related that Sa'id b. al-Mu'alla said, "I was praying and the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, passed by called me, but I did not answer until I had finished praying. Then I went to him and he said, 'What kept you from coming to me? Does not Allah say, "Respond to Allah, AND to the Messenger, when He calls you to what will bring you to life!" (8:24)?' Then he said to me, 'I will teach you a sura which is the greatest of the suras in the Qur'an before you leave.' The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was about to leave, so I reminded him."

This is related from Abu Sa'id, a man of the Companions of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. He said "It is: 'Praise be to Allah, the Lords worlds,' the Seven Oft-Repeated ones." (Aisha Bewley, The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, Chapter 68. Book of Tafsir, *; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)

Muhammad sources Q. 8:24 to prove that the Quran implicitly testifies that responding to his call immediately is more important than praying to God! Talk about the height of arrogance and blasphemy. Instead of commending his companion for worshiping Allah Muhammad has the audacity to chide him for not setting aside his prayers in order to beckon to his prophet’s call. A Muslim’s relationship to Muhammad takes priority over his relationship to God. Which Muslim would dare to say that Muhammad did not understand the meaning of Q. 8:24? Which Muslim would want to claim that Muhammad misused this verse and sinned against God by behaving in an arrogant and blasphemous way, ascribing to himself a position that the Quran does not give to him? In any case, if this incident doesn’t convince Muslims that Muhammad placed himself on the same level as God, or even above him, then nothing will.

To prevent a possible misunderstanding, let us emphasize again: Our critique is not that the Quran contains the command to obey a prophet of God. All religions enshrine the principles to obey both civil and spiritual authorities. Religions do not promote anarchy but seek to establish order in society, and that necessarily needs obedience to those who are in a position of authority. The Bible exhorts believers to be obedient to the laws of the government (Romans 13) even though it may be a pagan government, and it commands them to willingly follow their spiritual leaders (Hebrews 13:17), as not to make it difficult for them to do their duty. However, this obedience to human authorities, even spiritual authorities, is always conditional (Acts 5:29), never absolute. The point in this whole discussion is that in the Quran Muhammad is put on the same level as Allah, i.e. he is conjoined to Allah through an Arabic conjunction (wa) which Muslim sources, not Jewish, Christian or hostile sources, readily admit implies partnership and equality. Thus, Muhammad is to be obeyed just as one obeys Allah. The eternal destiny of the believers is made conditional upon whether they obey the messenger in everything. Moreover, Muhammad’s knowledge is equated with Allah’s. That is the aspect that constitutes deification, e.g. the use of the conjunction which makes him Allah’s equal partner in obedience and knowledge, and therefore blasphemous.

Islam: The Religion of Submitting to Muhammad?

We saved the best (or worst) for last. Muslims often state that Islam means submission/surrender and that a Muslim is one who fully submits/surrenders to Allah. As the following verses make clear:

Who therefore shrinks from the religion of Abraham, except he be foolish-minded? Indeed, We chose him in the present world, and in the world to come he shall be among the righteous. When his Lord said to him, 'Surrender,' he said, 'I have surrendered me to the Lord of all Being.' And Abraham charged his sons with this and Jacob likewise: 'My sons, God has chosen for you the religion; see that you die not save in surrender.' Why, were you witnesses, when death came to Jacob? When he said to his sons, 'What will you serve after me?' They said, 'We will serve thy God and the God of thy fathers Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac, One God; to Him we surrender.' S. 2:130-133 Arberry

Yet they fail to inform people that Islam isn’t merely centered on submission to Allah but also involves fully submitting to Muhammad. In other words, a true Muslim is one who doesn’t only submit to Allah but also completely submits or surrenders his entire will and all his decisions to Muhammad! Note, carefully, the following citation:

But no, by thy Lord! they will not believe till they make thee the judge regarding the disagreement between them, then they shall find in themselves no impediment touching THY verdict, but shall surrender in full submission. S. 4:65 Arberry

Here is another translation:

But no! by your Lord! they do not believe (in reality) until they make you a judge of that which has become a matter of disagreement among them, and then do not find any straitness in their hearts as to what YOU have decided and submit with entire submission. Shakir

Here we are told clearly and plainly that a Muslim must fully surrender to Muhammad with a complete submission!

Lest Muslims accuse of us distorting the meaning of this specific citation here is how some of Islam’s renowned commentators interpreted this reference:

But no, (fa-la, the la is extra) by your Lord! They will not believe until they make you judge over what has broken out, has become mixed up, between them and find in themselves no inhibition, [no] constraint or doubt, regarding what you decide, but submit, [but] comply with your ruling, in full submission, without objection. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; bold and underline emphasis ours)


(But nay, by your lord) Allah swore by Himself and by the age of Muhammad, (they will not believe) in secret nor deserve to be called believers when alone (until they make thee judge of what is in dispute between them and find within themselves) in their hearts (no dislike) no doubt (of that which thou decidest) between them, (and submit with full submission) totally submit to you. (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs; bold and underline emphasis ours)

The following Sufi Muslim author writes:

When the best generation of humankind ever to walk the earth realized that the Lord of the Heaven was addressing them directly with His timeless Speech in the language which they had mastered better than any human nation ever mastered a language, they realized that not only had Allah Almighty deputized the worthiest of them as the carrier of the final Message to humanity, but He had also made belief in that most honorable, most distinguished, and most accomplished Messenger - our liege-lord Muhammad - an integral condition of belief in Allah Himself by saying repeatedly "Believe in Allah AND the Messenger."

They also heard Allah again and again command them to "Obey Allah AND the Messenger." They also realized that Allah Almighty stressed to them that this Messenger was their paramount model of behavior and of belief in Allah and the Last Day. They also heard and understood it meant they had to follow him and love him before they could claim to follow and love Allah.

They further understood the required levels of following the Prophet properly and truly on which one's actual belief in Allah Most High depended: {But nay, by your Lord! they will not believe (in truth) until they make you judge of what is in dispute between them}. But to make the Prophet judge is not enough, this must be done without any mental reservation toward the Prophet and his decision: {and find within themselves no dislike of that which you decide}. Even this unalloyed acceptance of the Prophet's judgment is not enough, there must be full embrace of the heart, mind and soul for the Prophet: {and submit with full submission} (4:65)! (Gibril Fouad Haddad, The Story of Hadith - On Obeying, Following, Imitating, And Loving Prophet Muhammad; bold and underline emphasis ours)

And to show what happens to any Muslim who refuses to fully submit to Muhammad here are the comments of renowned Sunni exegete Ibn Kathir:

One Does not Become a Believer Unless He Refers to the Messenger for Judgment AND SUBMITS TO HIS DECISIONS

Allah said…

<But no, by your Lord, they can have no faith, until they make you judge in all disputes between them,> Allah swears by His Glorious, Most Honorable Self, that no one shall attain faith until he refers to the Messenger for judgment IN ALL MATTERS. Thereafter, whatever the Messenger commands, is the plain truth that must be submitted to inwardly and outwardly. Allah said…

<and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission.> meaning: they adhere to your judgment, and thus do not feel any hesitation over your decision, and they submit to it inwardly and outwardly. They submit to the Prophet's decision with total submission without any rejection, denial or dispute. Al-Bukhari recorded that `Urwah said, "Az-Zubayr quarreled with a man about a stream which both of them used for irrigation. Allah's Messenger said to Az-Zubayr…

<<O Zubayr! Irrigate (your garden) first, and then let the water flow to your neighbor.>> The Ansari became angry and said, `O Allah's Messenger! Is it because he is your cousin?' On that, the face of Allah's Messenger changed color (because of anger) and said…

<<Irrigate (your garden), O Zubayr, and then withhold the water until it reaches the walls (surrounding the palms). Then, release the water to your neighbor.>> So, Allah's Messenger gave Az-Zubayr his full right when the Ansari made him angry. Before that, Allah's Messenger had given a generous judgment, beneficial for Az-Zubayr and the Ansari. Az-Zubayr said, `I think the following verse was revealed concerning that case…

<But no, by your Lord, they can have no faith, until they make you (O Muhammad) judge in all disputes between them.>’" Another reason in his Tafsir, Al-Hafiz Abu Ishaq Ibrahim bin `Abdur-Rahman bin Ibrahim bin Duhaym recorded that Damrah narrated that two men took their dispute to the Prophet, and he gave a judgment to the benefit of whoever among them had the right. The person who lost the dispute said, "I do not agree." The other person asked him, "What do you want then?" He said, "Let us go to Abu Bakr As-Siddiq." They went to Abu Bakr and the person who won the dispute said, "We went to the Prophet with our dispute and he issued a decision in my favor." Abu Bakr said, "Then the decision is that which the Messenger of Allah issued." The person who lost the dispute still rejected the decision and said, "Let us go to `Umar bin Al-Khattab." When they went to `Umar, the person who won the dispute said, "We took our dispute to the Prophet and he decided in my favor, but this man refused to submit to the decision." `Umar bin Al-Khattab asked the second man and he concurred. `Umar went to his house and emerged from it holding aloft his sword. He struck the head of the man who rejected the Prophet's decision with the sword and killed him. Consequently, Allah revealed...

<But no, by your Lord, they can have no faith>. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir; capital and underline emphasis ours)

A companion of Muhammad is struck down in cold blood for simply refusing to fully submit to his prophet’s decision!

As if this weren’t shocking enough Muhammad further commanded Muslims to love him just as much as they love Allah!

Say: 'If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your clan, your possessions that you have gained, commerce you fear may slacken, dwellings you love -- if these are dearer to you than God AND His Messenger, and to struggle in His way, then wait till God brings His command; God guides not the people of the ungodly.' S. 9:24 Arberry

Narrated Anas:
The Prophet said, "Whoever possesses the following three qualities will have the sweetness (delight) of faith:
1. The one to whom Allah AND His Apostle becomes dearer than anything else.
2. Who loves a person and he loves him only for Allah's sake.
3. Who hates to revert to Atheism (disbelief) as he hates to be thrown into the fire." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 2, Number 15, *)

Narrated Anas:
Allah's Apostle said, "Whoever possesses the (following) three qualities will have the sweetness of faith (1): The one to whom Allah AND His Apostle becomes dearer than anything else; (2) Who loves a person and he loves him only for Allah's Sake; (3) who hates to revert to atheism (disbelief) as he hates to be thrown into the Fire." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 85, Number 74)

Muhammad is even supposed to be closer to believers than their own persons:

The Prophet is closer to the Believers than their own selves, and his wives are their mothers. Blood-relations among each other have closer personal ties, in the Decree of God. Than (the Brotherhood of) Believers and Muhajirs: nevertheless do ye what is just to your closest friends: such is the writing in the Decree (of God). S. 33:6 Y. Ali

Compare this with the true prophets of the Holy Bible who never told anyone to love them just as much as they love Yahweh. Instead, this is what they commanded:

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts." Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Now it is true that Jesus demanded that his followers love him just as much as they love God, expecting to receive from them unconditional love:

"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Matthew 10:37-39

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life FOR ME will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matthew 16:24-26

But the reason why he could make such a demand is because, according to the NT, Jesus is God!

Muhammad, however, is just a creature, a mere mortal, and for him to demand such love is blasphemous and idolatrous.

Now isn’t this clear proof that the religion of Islam consists of fully, completely submitting to both Allah and Muhammad equally, and not just to Allah? And doesn’t this further prove that Muslims must obey and revere Muhammad in the same way and to the same degree they do their god Allah, making Muhammad Allah’s partner and equal?


With the foregoing in the background it is rather apparent that Muslims have placed Muhammad on the same level with Allah, thereby making him a partaker and sharer in divinity.

It seems clear to us that the names Muhammad and Ahmad are prophetic in one sense in that these noun descriptions foreshadow the time when his followers ended up exalting him to the level of divinity, praising him as one praises a god.

And even though Muhammad warned his followers from over-praising him or praising him like the Christians praise the Lord Jesus,

Narrated 'Umar:
I heard the Prophet saying, "Do not exaggerate in praising me as the Christians praised the son of Mary, for I am only a Slave. So, call me the Slave of Allah and His Apostle." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 654)

He himself set in motion the events which inevitably led to him being given such praise since he placed in his Quran certain statements which elevated him to the level of divinity. Hence, if anyone is to be blamed for the Muslim deification and worship of the Islamic prophet, it is Muhammad himself and he must therefore bear personal responsibility for leading his followers into committing idolatry due to their excessive praise and devotion to him.

Further Reading


(1) Not all Muslims think so highly of Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab. Instead of seeing him as a great reformer certain Muslims actually view him as a great destroyer of the Islamic faith. For a list of reasons why these scholars hold such a low view and opinion of Abdul-Wahhab and his movement we recommend the following articles:



Considering possible objections

Most Muslims will not like our conclusions and may try to raise the following objection to our above argument that "obey Allah and the messenger" is de facto associating Muhammad with Allah and giving him a divine status. They may attempt to argue that Muhammad is not unique in this by pointing to the fact that in the Quran there is not only the command to obey Muhammad, but several of the other messengers demand obedience from their contemporaries as well, cf. S. 3:50 (Jesus); 26:108, 110; 71:3-4 (Noah); 26:126, 131 (Hud); 26:144, 150 (Salih); 26:163 (Lot); 26:179 (Shu'aib).

There are several reasons why this comparison does not yield the desired refutation of our thesis.

  1. In all of these passages, the obedience to the messenger is not demanded by Allah / the author of the Quran, but they are only reports of what these past messengers allegedly said to their audience. In each instance it is claimed that the messenger said, "Fear Allah, and obey me." In contrast, the passages discussed above are direct commands of Allah to obey the messenger, Muhammad. None of the passages referring to the other messengers has that specific format. This is the first considerable difference between these two sets of passages.
  2. None of these passages contains a parallel statement about "Allah AND the messenger". The point above was not merely that people are commanded to obey Muhammad, but that Allah and Muhammad are put on the same level by being mentioned side by side two dozen times through the use of the Arabic conjunction wa ("and") which implies partnership, therefore making obedience to the messenger synonymous with obedience to Allah. This strict parallelism puts them on the same level of authority. That is not the case in the passages that refer to the other messengers. In particular, there is not one other messenger about whom it is said, "obey Allah AND this messenger". Moreover, in each case the verb that is used in regard to Allah ("fear Allah") is different from the verb that is used in regard to the messenger ("and obey me"). In order to bring these points out more clearly compare the commands to obey Allah AND his messenger Muhammad with the following examples:

      And I [Jesus] have come confirming that which was before me of the Taurat (Torah), and to make lawful to you part of what was forbidden to you, and I have come to you with a proof from your Lord. So fear Allah and obey me (fa-ittaqoo Allaha wa-ateeaooni). S. 3:50 Hilali-Khan

      "So fear ALLAH and obey me (Fa-ittaqoo Allaha wa-ateeaooni);" S. 26:108 Sher Ali; cf. 110, 123, 126, 131, 144, 150, 163, 179

      And when 'Iesa (Jesus) came with (Our) clear Proofs, he said: "I have come to you with Al-Hikmah (Prophethood), and in order to make clear to you some of the (points) in which you differ, therefore fear Allah and obey me (fa-ittaqoo Allaha wa-ateeaooni), S. 43:63 Hilali-Khan

      We sent Noah to his People (with the Command): "Do thou warn thy People before there comes to them a grievous Penalty." He said: "O my People! I am to you a Warner, clear and open: That ye should worship God, fear Him and obey me (ani oabudoo Allaha wa-ittaqoohu wa-ateeaooni): So He may forgive you your sins and give you respite for a stated Term: for when the Term given by God is accomplished, it cannot be put forward: if ye only knew." S. 71:1-4 Y. Ali

    This is the second considerable difference between these two sets of passages.

  3. Even if those passages had been exactly parallel in structure and wording, several further instances of shirk will hardly lead to the conclusion that the first one was not shirk. Multiplying the gods would compound the problem, not lessen it.
  4. Most importantly, it has already been shown in the article, I am ALL the Prophets, that Muhammad regularly patterns the life and message of the other prophets after himself, reading his own theological views and history back into their lives. Therefore, seeing this parallelism in the quranic account of the speech of the former prophets and in Muhammad's message will only further incriminate him, not excuse him. Why? Because the independent records about Noah and Lot in the Jewish scriptures do NOT contain such statements. It is therefore yet another instance in which Muhammad seeks to make these men look like himself for the purpose of creating an appearance of authenticity in regard to his own claim to prophethood.

    The same holds for the passage about Jesus. Only in that case, the invented claim comes much closer to reality, because Jesus himself actually claimed to be one with the Father. Since Jesus is God who has taken on human flesh, he can rightfully demand the devotion and obedience which Muhammad only usurped:

    "Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son JUST AS they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him." John 5:22-23

    Interestingly, this parallelism in the claims of Jesus and Muhammad was, in fact, already recognized by Muhammad's contemporaries:

    It is related that 'Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said to the Prophet, "Part of your excellence with Allah is that He has made obedience to you obedience to Him. Allah says, 'Whoever obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah' (4:80) and 'If you love Allah, then follow me and Allah will love you.'" (3:31) it is related that when this ayat was sent down, people said, "Muhammad wants us to take him as a mercy IN THE WAY CHRISTIANS DID WITH 'ISA, so Allah revealed, 'Say: Obey Allah, and the Messenger.'" (3:32) (Qadi Iyad, p. 9)

    If Muhammad is not divine — and he is not — then the way he puts himself on the level of divine authority is outrageous and blasphemous. His contemporaries realized that. Muhammad apparently felt the need to make it appear as if it was not. That is why he put a similar claim into the mouths of other prophets as well. This has, however, failed to resolve the problem and instead incriminated him even more. After this trick becomes exposed for what it is, it shows him to be among the forgers of revelation. History tells us of several megalomaniacs and so-called divinely-inspired dictators who have demanded absolute and unquestioning obedience from their followers by putting that demand into the mouth of God, i.e. by claiming that it is God's will that you obey me. Could it be that Muhammad is one of them, merely the most successful of them all? It will be up to the readers to weigh the evidence and draw their own conclusions.

A Muslim may also mention Q. 20:90 where Aaron exhorts the Israelites to follow him and obey his orders. However, even though the wording is slightly different from the other verses listed above there is still nothing new in principle and the text doesn’t quote Aaron as commanding them to obey Allah AND him. Besides, all the above observations apply equally here.

Another objection may be raised by pointing to this passage:

O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the messenger AND those of you who are in authority; and if ye have a dispute concerning any matter, refer it to Allah and the messenger if ye are (in truth) believers in Allah and the Last Day. That is better and more seemly in the end. S. 4:59

Some Muslims may want to argue that in the first part of that verse, obedience is commanded to Allah, to the messenger and to those in authority. Nobody would get the idea from this verse that all people in authority are therefore deified in Islam. So, the whole claim of a deification of Muhammad falls apart.

If there had been many such verses containing this triple command to obey, and if the verse had ended after the first half, it may indeed have been able to weaken our thesis. However, nearly all rules and principles have some exceptions. It would be silly to deny the rule because of the existence of an exception. The first part is an exceptional formulation over against the two dozen others that have been discussed above.

More importantly, the command, "refer it to Allah and the messenger", found in the second part of the verse quickly undoes such a hypothetical weakening again. If there are disputes and disagreements among the believers, they are not to be brought before the elders (any of those in some position of authority) but again to "Allah and the messenger". (In effect, it is to be brought to Muhammad, since how are they supposed to bring it before Allah? Does the Quran offer any way of bringing something before Allah and leave out the messenger?)

This point can be seen more clearly when we note the difference in the wording of the text itself:

Obey Allah, AND OBEY the messenger and those of you who are in authority (amanoo ateeaoo Allaha wa ateeaoo al-rasoola wa olee al-amri minkum) …

Notice that the citation doesn’t repeat the word obey when speaking of those in authority, which is quite significant in light of the fact that the author decided to repeated the word when speaking of Allah’s messenger being obeyed. It is clear why this was done since this verse envisions disputes arising between believers, even between common believers and other believers who have been put into some position of authority in the Muslim society. Their commands may possibly be disputed. In this case, the dispute has to be brought before Allah and Muhammad. The two together will have the final word on it:

… and if ye have a dispute concerning any matter, refer it to Allah AND the messenger (ila Allahi WA al-rasooli`) if ye are (in truth) believers in Allah and the Last Day …

Hence, although there may be a dispute over what those in authority do, this verse apparently does not envision any dispute possible about what Muhammad says or does. One cannot disagree with what Muhammad does, because one has to refer it to Muhammad. He cannot be bypassed by going to Allah only. So, Muhammad is still the ultimate authority, which the others are not. This verse again makes clear the inequality between Muhammad and all others. The supreme authority of Muhammad together with Allah is again emphasized. Instead of weakening our thesis, it is strengthened.

Finally, this verse can easily be understood when we note that it is a relatively late "revelation" and Muhammad recognized that his growing empire needed an authority structure (if not immediately then certainly after his death). When his followers were few, he may have been able to manage all their affairs directly, but when there are Muslim communities in many cities he can't direct them anymore all by himself. So, he commands his followers to obey the people who are in authority and connects that with the established "obey Allah and obey the messenger" formula. But, as already pointed out, the final authority remains with him.