The Message of the Qur'an: Worship of Allah Alone?

Sam Shamoun

The Quran states:

"Say: 'O People of the Book! come to common terms as between us and you: That we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than Allah.' If then they turn back, say ye: 'Bear witness that we (at least) are Muslims (bowing to Allah's Will).'" S. 3:64

"It is not (possible) that a man, to whom is given the Book, and Wisdom, and the Prophetic Office, should say to people: 'Be ye my worshippers rather than Allahs': On the contrary (he would say) 'Be ye worshippers of Him (Who is truly the Cherisher of all): For ye have taught the Book and ye have studied it earnestly.' Nor would he instruct you to take angels and prophets for Lords and patrons. What! would he bid you to unbelief after ye have bowed your will (to Allah in Islám)?" S. 3:79-80

"The Jews call Ùzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah's curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth! They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords beside Allah, and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son of Mary; yet they were commanded to worship but One God: there is no god but He. Praise and glory to Him: (Far is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him)." S. 9:30-31

"Nor did the People of the Book make schisms, until after there came to them Clear Evidence. And they have been commanded no more than this: to worship Allah, offering Him sincere devotion, being true (in faith); to establish regular prayer; and to give Zakat; and that is the Religion Right and Straight." S. 98:4-5

In fact, associating partners with Allah is to commit the unforgivable sin:

"Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin most heinous indeed." S. 4:48

"Allah forgiveth not (the sin of) joining other gods with Him; but He forgiveth whom He pleaseth other sins than this: one who joins other gods with Allah, hath strayed far, far away (from the right)." S. 4:116

Yet there are several instances in the Quran where men and angels are addressed as Lord and receive worship:

"There did Zakariya PRAY TO HIS LORD: 'O MY LORD! Grant unto me from Thee a progeny that is pure: for Thou art He that heareth prayer!' While he was standing in prayer in the chamber, THE ANGELS CALLED UNTO HIM: 'Allah doth give thee glad tidings of Yahyá (John) witnessing the truth of a Word from Allah, and (be besides) noble, chaste, and a prophet,- of the (goodly) company of the righteous.' HE SAID: 'O MY LORD! How shall I have a son, seeing I am very old, and my wife is barren?' 'Thus,' was the answer, 'Doth Allah accomplish what He willeth.' HE SAID: 'O MY LORD! Give me a Sign!' 'Thy Sign,' was the answer, 'Shall be that thou shalt speak to no man for three days but with signals. Then celebrate the praises of thy Lord again and again, and glorify Him in the evening and in the morning.' S. 3:38-41

Zechariah is said to have prayed to his Lord for a child, with the angels responding to his request. Yet when asking a question Zechariah addresses the speaker(s) as his Lord!

Continuing further in the same chapter, we are told that a group of angels announced Jesus' birth to Mary:

"Behold! THE ANGELS SAID: 'O Mary! Allah hath chosen thee and purified thee - chosen thee above the women of all nations. O Mary! worship thy Lord devoutly: Prostrate thyself, and bow down (in prayer) with those who bow down.' This is part of the tidings of the things unseen, which We reveal unto thee (O Messenger) by inspiration: Thou wast not with them when they cast lots with pens (or arrows), as to which of them should be charged with the care of Mary: Nor wast thou with them when they disputed (the point). Behold! THE ANGELS SAID: 'O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah. He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. And he shall be (of the company) of the righteous.' She said: 'O MY LORD! How shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?' HE SAID: 'Even so; Allah createth what He willeth: When He hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it, "Be," and it is!'" S. 3:42-47

This passage claims that a group of angels addressed Mary, with one specific angel (i.e., "He said") responding to her question. In the parallel passage regarding Jesus' birth annunciation, the One addressing Mary is said to be the Spirit of God:

"Relate in the Book (the story of) Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East. She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them; then We sent her Our Spirit (Ruh), and he appeared before her as a man in all respects. She said: 'I seek refuge from thee to (Allah) Most Gracious: (come not near) if thou dost fear Allah.' HE SAID: 'Nay, I AM ONLY A MESSENGER FROM THY LORD, (to announce) to thee the gift of a pure son. She said: 'How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?' HE SAID: 'So (it will be): THY LORD SAITH, "That is easy for Me: and (We wish) to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a Mercy from Us". It is a matter (so) decreed.'" S. 19:16-21

Muslims claim that this Spirit was angel Gabriel. If this is true this implies that both Zechariah and Mary committed the sin of associating partners with God since they dared to address an angel as their Lord! In fact, the phrase Our Spirit is used elsewhere in reference to One having divine qualities:

"Behold! thy Lord said to the angels: 'I am about to create man, from sounding clay from mud molded into shape; When I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My spirit, fall ye down in obeisance unto him.'" S. 15:28-29

"He Who created all things in the best, and He began the creation of man from clay, And made his progeny from a quintessence of despised fluid: But He fashioned him in due proportion, and breathed into him of His spirit. And He gave you (the faculties of) hearing and sight and understanding: little thanks do ye give!" S. 32:7-9

"Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: 'I am about to create man from clay: When I have fashioned him and breathed into him of My spirit, fall ye down in obeisance unto him.'" S. 38:71-72

These passages indicate that after fashioning man God presumably gave him life by breathing his Spirit into him, echoing Genesis 2:7. This implies that at least in these contexts the Spirit is God's life-giving Agent. This being the case, how can the Spirit be Gabriel without this implying that God used a finite creature to assist him in the creation of man?

Continuing further, we are told elsewhere that Mary conceived Jesus by God's Spirit:

"And (remember) her who guarded her chastity: We breathed into her of Our spirit, and We made her and her son a sign for all peoples." S. 21:91

"And Mary the daughter of Ìmrán, who guarded her chastity; and We breathed into it of Our spirit; and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and of His Revelations, and was one of the devout (servants)." S. 66:12

According to certain Muslim commentators, the Spirit that was used to breathe into Mary was actually the angel Gabriel. Mahmoud M. Ayub mentions several Muslim commentaries regarding the preceding passages:

"... Ibn Kathir interprets the phrase 'guarded well her generative organ' to mean: 'safeguarded and protected it. Guarding well ihsan signifies chastity and high birth.' He comments on the phrase, 'and thus We breathed into it of our spirit' thus 'that is, through the angel Gabriel. This is because God sent HIM TO HER, AND HE TOOK FOR HER THE FORM OF A MAN OF GOOD STATURE (S. 19:17). God commanded HIM to breathe into the breast of her chemise. HIS BREATH WENT DOWN AND PENETRATED HER GENERATIVE ORGAN, AND THUS CAUSED HER TO CONCEIVE JESUS...." (Christian-Muslim Encounters, ed. Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad & Wadi Z. Haddad [University Press of Florida, 1995], p. 67; bold and capital emphasis ours)


"Abu Ja'far al-Tusi, the jurist doctor of the Shi'i community, as well as his well known disciple al-Tabarsi, read the words, 'We breathed INTO IT' literally. Al-Tusi says: 'It has been held THAT GABRIEL BREATHED INTO MARY'S GENERATIVE ORGAN then God created Christ in it'....." (Ibid., p. 68; bold and capital emphasis ours)

The following is Ibn Kathir's commentary on S. 66:12, noting that Jibril is the Arabic pronunciation of Gabriel:

<And Maryam, the daughter of 'Imran who guarded her chastity (PRIVATE PART).> meaning who protected and purified her honor, by being chaste and free of immorality,

<And We breathed INTO IT (PRIVATE PART) through Our Ruh,> meaning, THROUGH THE ANGEL JIBRIL. Allah sent the angel Jibril to Maryam, and he came to her in the shape of a man in every respect. Allah commanded HIM TO BLOW INTO A GAP OF HER GARMENT and that BREATH went into her womb through her private part; THIS IS HOW 'ISA WAS CONCEIVED. This is why Allah said here,

<And We breathed INTO IT through Our Ruh, and she testified to the truth of her Lords Kalimat, and His Kutub,> meaning His decree and His legislation. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir - Abridged, Volume 10, Surat At-Tagabun to the end of the Qur'an, abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, London, Lahore; September 2000], pp. 75-76; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Finally, al-Tabari's comments on Mary's conception:

"... She entered the cave, and found Gabriel there-God made him appear to her as shapely human-and he said to her, 'O Mary, God has sent me to you to give you a boy most pure.' At this she exclaimed, 'I take refuge in the All Merciful from you, if you fear God!' (She had thought that he was a man, a mortal.) But he said, 'I am but a messenger come from your Lord.' She then said, 'How shall I, whom no mortal has touched, have a son; neither have I been unchaste?' He replied, 'Even so. The Lord has said, "Easy is that for Me, and We may appoint him a sign unto men and a mercy from Us; it is a thing decreed.'"

That is, God has decreed that it is so. When the angel spoke thus, she submitted to the divine decree, and he breathed into HER BOSOM. Then he left her, and she filled her pitcher.

According to Muhammad b. Sahl b. 'Askar al-Bukhari- Isma'il b. 'Abd al-Karim- 'Abd al-Samad b. Ma'qil, the son of the brother of Wahb- Wahb: When God sent Gabriel to Mary, he appeared to her as a shapely man. She then said, 'I take refuge in the All Merciful from you, if you fear God!' Then he breathed into the opening of her garment, THE BREATH REACHED HER WOMB, and she conceived Jesus ..." (The History of al-Tabari, Volume IV, The Ancient Kingdoms, trans. Moshe Perlmann [State University of New York Press, Albany, 1987], pp. 112-113; bold and capital emphasis ours)


"..... 'Then We sent unto her Our Spirit [that is, the angel Gabriel] that presented himself to her a man without fault' ...

She wore a gown. He held her sleeves and breathed into the opening of her garment which was split in front. The breath entered her breast, and she conceived ..." (Ibid., p. 119; bold emphasis ours)

The claim that Gabriel breathed into Mary would logically make Gabriel the speaker in S. 21:91 and 66:12. According to these passages the One speaking states that he will breathe his Spirit into Mary. Nowhere do the passages even hint to someone else being used to impregnate Mary. Seeing that Muslims claim that the Quran is the word of Allah, implying that Allah is the One speaking here, logically makes Gabriel Allah!

This also means that Gabriel has a Spirit that he uses to create and impart life. This would therefore make Gabriel the Creator, since Muslims claim that Allah was the one who created Jesus by breathing his Spirit into Mary's womb! Otherwise the text would imply that Allah actually breathed Gabriel into both Mary and Adam since, as Muslims claim, the Spirit of Allah is actually Gabriel.

Furthermore, seeing that Muslims do not equate Gabriel with Allah inevitably leads to more than one Creator. Yet the Quran clearly states that there is no other Creator besides Allah:

"It is He Who created you from a single person, and made his mate of like nature, in order that he might dwell with her (in love). When they are united, she bears a light burden and carries it about (unnoticed). When she grows heavy, they both pray to Allah their Lord, (saying): 'If Thou givest us a goodly child, we vow we shall (ever) be grateful.' But when He giveth them a goodly child, they ascribe to others a share in the gift they have received: but Allah is exalted high above the partners they ascribe to Him. Do they indeed ascribe to Him as partners things that can create nothing, but are themselves created?" S. 7:189-191

"Those whom they invoke besides Allah create nothing and are themselves created." S. 16:20

"Yet have they taken, besides him, gods that can create nothing but are themselves created; that have no control of hurt or good to themselves; nor can they control death nor life nor resurrection." S. 25:3

"O men! Remember the grace of Allah unto you! Is there a Creator, other than Allah, to give you sustenance from heaven or earth? There is no god but He: how then are ye perverted?" S. 35:3

"He created you (all) from a single person: then created, of like nature, his mate; and He sent down for you eight head of cattle in pairs: He creates you, in the wombs of your mothers, in stages, one after another, in three veils of darkness. Such is Allah, your Lord and Cherisher: to Him belongs (all) dominion. There is no god but He: then how are ye turned away (from your true Lord)?" S. 39:6

Therefore, the only plausible explanation is that the Spirit of Allah is not angel Gabriel. Yet this view would leave us with an irreconcilable contradiction. According to S. 3:42-48 it was a group of angels that appeared to Mary, whereas in S. 19:16-21 it isn't a group of angels but God's Spirit that announced the Messiah's birth.

In order to avoid attributing a contradiction to the Quran, some Muslims claim that the two passages refer to two different episodes. For example, some Muslims like Shabir Ally claim that S. 3:42-48 refers to the time when Mary was told that she would eventually conceive a child, whereas in S. 19:16-21 the Spirit was sent to inform her that the time of conception had arrived (see this page).

The only problem with this view is that it would imply that Mary disbelieved God's ability to cause a supernatural birth on two separate occasions. Compare the following:

"Behold! The angels said: 'O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah. He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. And he shall be (of the company) of the righteous.' She said: 'O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?' He said: 'Even so; Allah createth what He willeth: When He hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it, 'Be,' and it is!'" S. 3:45-47


"He said: 'Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord, (to announce) to thee the gift of a pure son. She said: 'How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?' He said: 'So (it will be): thy Lord saith, "That is easy for Me: and (We wish) to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a Mercy from Us". It is a matter (so) decreed.'" S. 19:19-21

Hence, either Muslims must accuse Mary of twice questioning the ability of Allah in causing a supernatural conception to take place without the aid of a man. This, in spite of the fact that the angels explicitly told her the first time that Allah is able to do all that he wills! Or Muslims must face up to the music and admit that the Quran contains a bonafide contradiction.

Returning to our original point regarding the problem of addressing others besides Allah as Lord, here is Mahmoud M. Ayoub's commentary on S. 3:40. In light of what Ayoub will shortly say one readily sees the difficulty Muslims faced in trying to deal with the fact that others besides Allah are addressed as Lord:

"Two issues have concerned commentators in this verse. The first is the question of whether it is God or Gabriel whom Zechariah addresses as Lord. The second is how Zechariah, as a prophet, could have any doubt in God's power to cause an old, barren woman to bear a child? ...

Ibn Kathir does not raise the question of Zechariah's doubt. He rather interprets Zechariah's query as expressing his wonderment at God's power. He writes, 'When Zechariah became certain of the happy news, he began to marvel at the possibility of his having a child in such advanced age.' Ibn Kathir assumes that Zechariah's dialogue was with an angel, not with God ...

Qurtubi begins by relating on the authority of al-Kalbi that the word 'Lord' in this verse refers to Gabriel. He says, 'Zechariah said to Gabriel "my lord,"' meaning 'my master' ...

Razi begins with the question of Zechariah's dialogue and whether it was with God or with Gabriel. The question is important because it concerns the theological debate about God's transcendence and the problem of anthropomorphism. If God hears and speaks in a manner familiar to human beings, then the question arises as to whether God has similar organs of hearing and speech. Razi argues that it is equally possible that Zechariah was addressing either God or the angel in this verse. He presents two explanations which he attributes to the mufassirun, that is, other commentators. The first is: 'When the angels called to Zechariah and gave him the good news, he wondered and turned to God for reassurance. Zechariah was actually addressing the angel Gabriel, and not God. The invocation 'my lord' is here addressed to a superior or master and not to God." (Ayoub, The Qur'an and Its Interpreters, Volume II, The House of 'Imran [State University of New York Press, Albany 1992], pp. 112, 113; bold emphasis ours)

The problem with asserting that the prophet is actually addressing Allah is that instead of Allah responding, it is either the angel(s) or the Spirit that answers. When responding to the questions, both the angel(s) and the Spirit clearly make a distinction between their words from the words of Allah:

"Behold! THE ANGELS SAID: 'O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest TO ALLAH. He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. And he shall be (of the company) of the righteous.' She said: 'O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?' HE SAID: 'Even so; ALLAH createth what HE willeth: When HE hath decreed a plan, HE but saith to it, "Be," and it is! And ALLAH will teach him the Book and Wisdom, the Torah and the Gospel,'" S. 3:45-48

"She said: 'How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?' HE SAID: 'So (it will be): THY LORD SAITH, "That is easy for Me: and (We wish) to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a Mercy from Us". It is a matter (so) decreed.'" S. 19:20-21

Furthermore, the assertion that Gabriel is called Lord in the sense of being one's master or superior does not solve the problem for the Muslim. Neither the Quran nor the Hadiths allow for even this type of respect to be given to anyone besides Allah:

They have taken as lords beside Allah their rabbis and their monks and the Messiah son of Mary, when they were bidden to worship only One Allah. There is no Allah save Him. Be He Glorified from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him)! S. 9:31 Pickthall

The only sense in which Jews and Christians would ever consider rabbis or monks as Lords would be in the sense of a superior or a master. They would have never viewed them as Lords in the same way they viewed God.

This is supported by the following Muslim tradition, a hadith quoted by Ibn Kathir regarding the meaning of S. 9:31:

<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, Volume 4, Surat Al-A'raf to the end of Surah Yunus, May 2000, pp. 409-410; bold emphasis ours)

Therefore, to even address either the angel(s) or the Spirit as one's superior or master is unacceptable within the Monotheism (Tauhid) taught by Muhammad and his Companions. In fact, addressing anyone besides Allah as one's Lord in prayer is a violation of the three aspects of Islamic Monotheism: Tauhid-al-Rububiyyah, Tauhid-al-Uluhiyyah, and Tauhid-al-Asma' was-Sifat.

Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali and Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan define the meaning behind each of the three aspects:

(A) Oneness of the Lordship of Allah; Tauhid-al-Rububiyyah: To believe there is only one Lord for all the universe, Who is the Creator, Organizer, Planner, Sustainer, and the Giver of security, etc., and that is Allah.

(B) Oneness of the worship of Allah; Tauhid-Uluhiyyah: To believe that none has the right to be worshiped (e.g., praying, invoking, asking for help from the unseen, swearing, offering sacrifice, giving charity, fasting, pilgrimage) but Allah.

(C) Oneness of the Names and Qualities of Allah: Tauhid Al-Asma' was-Sifat: To believe that:

We must not name or qualify Allah with what He or His messenger..... has named or qualified Him;

None can be named or qualified with the Names and Qualifications of Allah; e.g. Al-Karim.....

(Translation of the Meanings of The Noble Qur'an, In the English Language A Summarized Version of At-Tabari, Al-Qurtubi and Ibn Kathir with comments from Sahih Al-Bukhari, by Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali, Ph.D. & Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan [King Fahd Complex For The Printing Of The Holy Qur'an, Madinah K.S.A.], Appendix II, p. 892; bold emphasis ours)

Seeing that both Zechariah and Mary addressed someone other than Allah as Lord when asking about the possibility of having a child implies that both parties violated Muhammad's conception of Tauhid.

Another passage in which Gabriel is actually given divine status includes:

By the Star when it goes down,- Your Companion is neither astray nor being misled. Nor does he say (aught) of (his own) Desire. It is no less than inspiration sent down to him: He was taught by one Mighty in Power, Endued with Wisdom: FOR HE APPEARED (in stately form); While he was in the highest part of the horizon: THEN HE APPROACHED HIM AND CAME CLOSER, And was at a distance of but two bow-lengths or (even) nearer; SO DID HE CONVEY THE INSPIRATION TO HIS SERVANT- (conveyed) what He (meant) to convey. S. 53:1-10

This passage clearly states that Muhammad saw someone whom Muslims claim was the Angel Gabriel. Abdullah Yusuf Ali on S. 53:5 notes:

"..... This is referred by the Commentators to the angel Gabriel, through whom the inspiration came....." (Ali, The Holy Qur'an, Translation and Commentary, p. 1443, f. 5087; bold emphasis ours)

Ibn Kathir states:

The Trustworthy Angel brought Allah's Revelation to the Trustworthy Messenger

Allah the Exalted states that the Message His servant and Messenger Muhammad brought to his people was taught to him by,

<mighty in power>, he is Jibril, peace be upon, (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Volume 9, Surat Al-Jathiyah to the end of Surat Al-Munafiqun, September 2000, p. 308)

Yet this interpretation will not work without this making Gabriel the god of Muhammad. The passage clearly states that the person that appeared to Muhammad was Muhammad's sovereign as indicated by the last part of the sentence, "SO DID HE CONVEY THE INSPIRATION TO HIS SERVANT." Seeing that Muslims insist that the being that appeared to Muhammad was Gabriel implies that Muhammad is a slave of Gabriel. There is simply no way of avoiding this inescapable conclusion. Therefore, Muslims must now accept the fact that it was actually Allah who appeared to Muhammad, which would then force them to accept the idea of Allah appearing visibly. If Muslims still insist that it was Gabriel who appeared then they must also accept that Gabriel and/or Muhammad committed the sin of associating partners with Allah.

The problem that this passage presents becomes evident from Ibn Kathir's comments:

<And was at a distance of two bow lengths or less. So (Allah) revealed to His servant whatever He revealed.>

Zirr said, 'Abdullah narrated to us that Muhammad saw Jibril having six hundred wings.'


means, Jibril conveyed to Allah's servant Muhammad whatever he conveyed. OR, the meaning here could be: Allah revealed to His servant Muhammad whatever He revealed through Jibril. Both meanings are correct....." (Ibid., pp. 311-312; bold and capital emphasis ours)

The reader will notice that the word Allah is inserted in parentheses to presumably avoid the ambiguity of the text. This is despite the fact that the word does not appear in the Arabic original, as indicated by its second occurrence within Kathir's citation! It becomes obvious why this would be done, namely to avoid the implication that Muhammad is Gabriel's servant or that Allah appeared in visible form. The Muslims must safeguard from either interpretation if they are to maintain their belief in the absolute transcendence of Allah and/or the pure devotion that is to be given to him alone. Islamicist F.E. Peters notes:

"None of the pronouns is identified in these verses, though there is little doubt that the recipient of the vision was Muhammad. Who was seen is less clear, and if Muhammad's being referred to as his 'servant' in verse 10 suggests that is God Himself, the Muslim tradition preferred to understand that it was Gabriel in all the other instances, chiefly because later in his own career Muhammad, as we shall see, had unmistakably come to the same conclusion. But there is no other mention of Gabriel in the Meccan suras, and it appears far more likely that God Himself first appeared to Muhammad 'on the high horizon' and then on a second occasion by the lotus tree near the 'garden of the dwelling' to show him 'the signs of his Lord.' Muhammad was clearly earthbound when he had his first experience, but where the latter vision took place, whether in a known locality in Mecca or, as is often thought, in some heavenly venue, is not further indicated. Neither is there anything to suggest that it was on either of these occasions that Muhammad received the words of the Quran.

"If Sura 53:1-18 seems to say that Muhammad believed that on two distinct occasions he had a vision of God, who thereby prompted him and showed to him His signs, the second vision is referred to only in briefing in passing. (Quran 81:19-27)

"Although verse 10 appears to refer back to the same vision 'on the high horizon' mentioned in 53:7-9, the Muslim commentators saw in the first three verses of this passage from Sura 81 an unmistakable reference to Gabriel. But there is abundant evidence that Muhammad not only did not identify Gabriel as the agent of revelation until his Medina days, but that while at Mecca he was criticized for the fact that God had not sent an angelic messenger: 'They said: "If your Lord had so pleased, He would certainly have sent down angels; as it is, we disbelieve your mission".' (Quran 41:14)

"Muhammad's earliest response did not encourage them to think that there was in fact an angel in God's revelation to him:

They say: 'You to whom the Reminder is being sent down, truly you are jinn-possessed! Why do you not bring angels to us if you are one of those who posses truth? We do not send down the angels except when required, and if they came, there would be not respite.' (Ibid., 15:6-8)

'And before you as well the Messengers we sent down were but men, to whom We granted inspiration. And if you do not understand that, ask the people who possess the Reminder.' (Ibid., 16:43)" (Peters, Muhammad and the Origins of Islam [State of University Press New York, Albany 1994], pp. 142-143; bold emphasis ours)

W. Montogmery Watt adds:

The usual exegesis of this by Muslims is that these were visions of Gabriel; but there are grounds for thinking that Muhammad originally interpreted these as visions of God Himself. There is no mention of Gabriel in the Qur'an until the Medinan period. The words in v. 10, 'His servant', must mean God's servant, as is agreed by Muslims; but that makes the construction awkward unless God is also the implied subject of the verbs ... (Watt, Muhammad at Mecca [Oxford University Press, Karachi; Second Impression 1993], p. 42)

Hence, no matter from what angle Muslims look at this passage they are beset with problems either way.

On the Worship of Others Besides Allah

Both the Quran and Muslims sources furnish examples of others besides Allah receiving worship. The first example is Adam:

"And when We said unto the angels: Prostrate yourselves before Adam, they fell prostrate, all save Iblis. He demurred through pride, and so became a disbeliever." S. 2:34

"And We created you, then fashioned you, then told the angels: Fall ye prostrate before Adam! And they fell prostrate, all save Iblis, who was not of those who make prostration. He said: What hindered thee that thou didst not fall prostrate when I bade thee? (Iblis) said: I am better than him. Thou createdst me of fire while him Thou didst create of mud. He said: Then go down hence! It is not for thee to show pride here, so go forth! Lo! thou art of those degraded." S. 7:11-13

"And (remember) when thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am creating a mortal out of potter's clay of black mud altered, So, when I have made him and have breathed into him of My Spirit, do ye fall down, prostrating yourselves unto him. So the angels fell prostrate, all of them together Save Iblis. He refused to be among the prostrate. He said: O Iblis! What aileth thee that thou art not among the prostrate? He said: I am not one to prostrate myself unto a mortal whom Thou hast created out of potter's clay of black mud altered!" S. 15:28-33

"And when We said unto the angels: Fall down prostrate before Adam and they fell prostrate all save Iblis, he said: Shall I fall prostrate before that which Thou hast created of clay?" S. 17:61

"And when We said unto the angels: Fall prostrate before Adam, they fell prostrate (all) save Iblis; he refused." S. 20:116

All these verses state that it was Allah who commanded the angels to prostrate before Adam. The word signifying prostration is only used in relation to a believer prostrating before God in adoration and worship. Abdiyah Akbar Abdul Haqq comments on S. 7:12:

"The story, as a whole, involves a difficult issue. Why did God order all His angels to fall prostrate before a being inferior to them in nature? The manner of prostration is reserved for the worship of God. It was not proper, therefore, to employ it in showing respect to creatures, including Adam. Realizing the problem involved in the use of the term 'Sajda' (prostration) in the passage under discussion, Jalal al-Din made the following observation:

The original word signifies properly, to prostrate one self till the forehead touches the ground, which is the humblest posture of adoration and strictly due to God only; but it is sometimes used to express civil worship or homage which may be paid to creatures. (W.T. Wherry, A Comprehensive Commentary on the Quran, Vol. I, p. 301)

"Despite Jalal al-Din's apology, strictly speaking, 'Sajda' (prostration) is due only to God. That is why the commentator did not support adequately the exception he has made to the rule, from the Koran. The 'Wahhabis,' who consider themselves strict Muslims and true Monotheists, forbid worship of any creature. God alone deserves to be worshipped, according to them. They would not allow 'Sajda' to a civil authority- the kind of prostration which is meant to be used in prayers to God..... Moreover, it is true that strictly speaking prostration before any being other than God is a practice against monotheism and spirit of the Koran, as Wahhabis would say." (Haqq, Sharing Your Faith with a Muslim [Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, MN 1980], p. 78; bold emphasis ours)

In fact, not only do we find Adam receiving sajda but Joseph as well:

"Then when they entered the presence of Joseph, he provided a home for his parents with himself, and said: 'Enter ye Egypt (all) in safety if it please Allah.' And he raised his parents high on the throne, and they fell down in prostration, (all) before him (wa kharruu lahuu sujjadaa). He said: 'O my father! this is the fulfillment of my vision of old! Allah hath made it come true! He was indeed good to me when He took me out of prison and brought you (all here) out of the desert, (even) after Satan had sown enmity between me and my brothers. Verily my Lord is Gracious to whom He wills, for verily He is full of knowledge and wisdom." S. 12:99-100

The other example is Jesus. The Quran announces the birth of John the Baptist as a messenger sent to prepare the way for Jesus Christ:

"And the angels called to him (Zechariah) while he was he was standing at prayer in the sanctuary, 'God gives you glad tidings of John, confirming a word of God, a master, chaste man and a prophet, one of the righteous.'" S. 3:39 Mahmoud's Translation

Islamic scholars almost unanimously hold that the Word of God here, which John came to confirm, is Jesus Christ. Mahmoud Ayoub citing Muslim Tabarsi states:

"Tabarsi argues that John was obligated by God to be a witness to the fact that Jesus was in truth the word of God and His Spirit." (Ayoub, The Qur'an and Its Interpreters, Volume II, p. 109; bold emphasis ours)

Muslim exegete al-Zamakshari substantiates this by saying:

"It is related that John was the first to believe in Jesus. Jesus was called Word..... because he came to being only by God's word. It was His saying, 'kunn' (be), and no other cause." (Ibid, p. 108; italic emphasis ours)

The interesting part of all of this that Muslim commentators claim that John actually worshiped Jesus while both were still in their mothers' wombs! For instance, Al-Qurtubi mentions Elizabeth's visitation (called Mary's sister) shortly after both women had conceived:

"The sister visited Mary and said, 'O Mary, do you perceive that I am with child?' Mary answered, 'Do you see that I am also with child?' Her sister went on, 'I feel the child in my womb bowing down to the child in your womb.'"

Qurtubi continues:

"It is reported that she felt the fetus in her womb bow down with its head turned toward Mary's womb." (Ayoub, p. 108; bold and italic emphasis ours)

Al-Tabari concurs:

"She [Sam-Mary] came to her sister who was then pregnant and to whom the birth of the Baptist had been announced. When the two met, the Baptist's mother felt that her child was bowing within her in recognition of Jesus....." (History of Al-Tabari, Volume IV, p. 114; bold emphasis ours)


"..... Her sister, the wife of Zechariah, came to visit her at night. When Mary opened the door for her, the sister clung to her. The wife of Zechariah said, 'Oh Mary, do you know I am with child?' Mary replied, 'Do you know, that I too am with child?' Zechariah's wife then said, 'I felt that the child in me was bowing to the child in you,' as it is written, 'confirming the Word of God.'" (Ibid., p. 119; bold emphasis ours)

Muhammad had warned his followers not to praise him as Christians praise 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 Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 654)

In light of the preceding considerations, what will Muslims do with the fact that John not only bowed in praise to Jesus but did so while both were still in the womb? What will Muslims do with Allah commanding angels to bow down to Adam?

It will not do to say that the homage given to these individuals is not the same kind of homage one gives to God. If this is the case, then why is this practice deemed unacceptable for Muslims? Why did Muhammad forbid his followers from showing this kind of reverence to others who are worthy to receive it?

Furthermore, both Adam and Joseph received sajda, the prostration that God alone is supposed to receive. This act was in direct violation of Tauhid-al-Uluhiyyah. Yet, in the case of Adam, the one who actually commanded the angels to violate this concept was Allah himself!

Further Examples of Plurality of Gods

As we had indicated earlier, Muslims claim that the Quran is the pure word of Allah, containing nothing but the speech of Allah alone. One will not find the words of either humans or angels mixed in with the words of Allah. Commenting on the different types of material found in the Holy Bible, Muslim Polemicist Ahmad Deedat contrasts that with the Quran:

You do not have to hunt for examples of these different types of evidences in the Bible. The following quotations will make the position crystal clear:

The FIRST Type:

(a) I will raise them up a prophet ... and I will put my words in ... and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him." (Deuteronomy 18:18)

(b) I even, I am the Lord, and beside me there is no saviour." (Isaiah 43:11)

(c) "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the end of the earth: for I am God, and there is non else." (Isaiah 45:22)

Note the first person pronoun singular (highlighted in green) in the above references, and without any difficulty you will agree that the statements seem to have the sound of being GOD'S WORD.

The SECOND Type:

(a) "Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani? ..." (Matthew 27:46)

(b) "And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord:" (Mark 12:29)

(c) "And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God." (Mark 10:18).

Even a child will be able to affirm that: Jesus "cried" Jesus "answered" and Jesus "said" are the words of the one to whom they are attributed, i.e. the WORDS OF A PROPHET OF GOD.

The THIRD Type:

"And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he, (JESUS) came, if haply he (JESUS) might find anything thereon: and when he (JESUS) came to it, (Jesus) found nothing but leaves ..." (Mark 11:13)

The bulk of the Bible is a witnessing of this THIRD kind. These are the words of a third person. Note the underlined pronouns. They are not the Words of God or of His prophet, but the WORDS OF A HISTORIAN.

For the Muslim it is quite easy to distinguish the above types of evidence, because he also has them in his own faith. But of the followers of the different religions, he is the most fortunate in this that his various records are contained in separate Books!

ONE: The first kind - THE WORD OF GOD - is found in a Book called The Holy Qur'an.

TWO: The second kind - THE WORDS OF THE PROPHET OF GOD, (Muhummed, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) are recorded in the Books of Tradition called The Hadith.

THREE: Evidence of the third kind abounds in different volume of Islamic history, written by some of high integrity and learning, and others of lesser trustworthiness, but the Muslim advisedly keeps his Books in separate volumes!

The Muslim keeps the above three types of evidence jealously apart, in their proper gradations of authority. He never equates them. On the other hand, the "Holy Bible" contains a motley type of literature, which composes the embarrassing kind, the sordid, and the obscene - all under the same cover - A Christian is forced to concede equal spiritual import and authority to all, and is thus unfortunate in this regard. (Deedat, Is the Bible God's Word?, pp 4-6; see this article; italic emphasis ours)

This being the case we are forced to conclude that the Quran presents a plurality of deities. Compare the following passages with the claims made by Deedat:

"Such is Allah, your Lord. There is no God save Him, the Creator of all things, so worship Him. And He taketh care of all things. Vision comprehendeth Him not, but He comprehendeth (all) vision. He is the Subtile, the Aware. Proofs have come unto you from your Lord, so whoso seeth, it is for his own good, and whoso is blind is blind to his own hurt. And I am not a keeper over you." S. 6:102-104 Pickthall

Allah claims that he is not a keeper over man, implying that someone else is. That someone must be God also. Otherwise the Quran would be committing the sin of association, attributing the work and sustaining power of the Creator to someone other than Allah. Or worse still, the Quran might be suggesting that man has no keeper at all, implying that man must sustain himself!

"Shall I seek other than Allah for judge, when He it is Who hath revealed unto you (this) Scripture, fully explained? Those unto whom We gave the Scripture (aforetime) know that it is revealed from thy Lord in truth. So be not thou of the waverers." S. 6:114

If Deedat is correct, this means that Allah is asking whether he should seek some other judge besides Allah. Allah shifts into the first person plural indicating that he is the one that revealed all the Scriptures. This implies that the Quran reveals more than one Allah.

"Glorified be He Who carried His servant by night from the Inviolable Place of Worship to the Far distant place of worship the neighbourhood whereof We have blessed, that We might show him of Our tokens! Lo! He, only He, is the Hearer, the Seer." S. 17:1

We have Allah praising another Being for taking Muhammad on a night journey. From there Allah reverts to the first person plural whereby he once again glorifies the One who took Muhammad on the night journey as being the Hearer and the Seer.

"I am commanded only to serve the Lord of this land which He hath hallowed, and unto Whom all things belong. And I am commanded to be of those who surrender." S. 27:91

Again, Allah claims that he is commanded to worship the Lord of the land.

"We come not down save by commandment of thy Lord. Unto Him belongeth all that is before us and all that is behind us and all that is between those two, and thy Lord was never forgetful." S. 19:64

We have Allah only coming down at the command of Muhammad's Lord.

"Lo! verily, ye and that which ye worship, Ye cannot excite (anyone) against Him. Save him who is to burn in hell. There is not one of us but hath his known position. Lo! we, even we are they who set the ranks, Lo! we, even we are they who hymn His praise." S. 37:161-166

This passage has Allah acknowledging his subjection and praise to another.

The final example is:

"By no means! For We have created them out of the (base matter) they know! Now I do call to witness THE LORD OF ALL POINTS IN THE EAST AND THE WEST that WE can certainly Substitute for them better (men) than they; And WE are not to be defeated (in Our Plan)." S. 70:39-41

The Creator here swears by the Lord of all the points of the East and West. There is no break in the text to indicate that someone else is interspersing his comments with the words of the Creator. This means that there is more than one Lord and that Allah actually swears by this other Lord!

In light of the preceding examples we really do not see how Muslims can evade being accused of idolatry or polytheism. Either they will have to change their position regarding the nature of the Quran and admit that it contains more than just the words of Allah. Or they will have to settle for the fact that the Quran teaches that there are several Lords, Allahs, and Creators.

In the service of our risen Lord and eternal Savior, Jesus Christ, for ever and ever. Amen. Come Lord Jesus. We will always love you, for you are our Eternal Lord forever.

Articles by Sam Shamoun
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