Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Muhammad’s Inspiration and Eloquence versus Allah’s Aseity

More problems for Islamic Theology Pt. 2

Sam Shamoun

We resume our discussion from part one.

Allah – a very needy deity

According to Islamic theology, Allah is a deity who is free of all imperfections and desires. Allah is supposed to be a self-sufficient being who has no need for anyone or anything.

However, this is not what the Quran says concerning Allah. The Muslim scripture actually depicts Allah as a very needy deity who is dependent upon his creatures.

Allah needs your love and worship

For example, the Quran says that the reason why Allah created men and jinn is because he needed servants who would serve or worship him.  

I have not created jinn and mankind except to serve Me. S. 51:56

The foregoing implies that Allah didn’t create out of his own free will, but of a desire to be loved and worshiped. Allah’s need of creation is seen more clearly from the following narrations: 


Abu Sirma reported that when the time of the death of Abu Ayyub Ansari drew near, he said: I used to conceal from you a thing which I heard from Allah's Messenger and I heard Allah's Messenger as saying: Had you not committed sins, Allah would have brought into existence a creation that would have committed sin (and Allah) would have forgiven them. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037, Number 6620)

Abu Ayyub Ansari reported that Allah's Messenger said: If you were not to commit sins, Allah would have swept you out of existence and would have replaced you by another people who have committed sin, and then asked forgiveness from Allah, and He would have granted them pardon. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037, Number 6621)

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger having said: By Him in Whose Hand is my life, if you were not to commit sin, Allah would sweep you out of existence and He would replace (you by) those people who would commit sin and seek forgiveness from Allah, and He would have pardoned them. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037, Number 6622)

Notice just how unjust Allah is according to Muhammad’s reported statements. Allah would wipe out perfect human beings in order to create sinners whom he could forgive so that he could show just how truly merciful he really is! Thus, not only does this show just unrighteous and wicked Allah, it further establishes that Allah desperately craves the love of his creation.

This next tradition also narration confirms Allah’s need for and dependence upon creation:

3) Allah says, "I was a hidden treasure, and I wished to be known, so I created a creation (mankind), then made Myself known to them, and they recognised Me." (An Introduction to the Sciences of Hadith, Shaykh Suhayb Hasan hafidhahullaah [Published by Dar-as-Salam])

The fact that Allah desired or wished to be known is a clear indication of his dire need for love and attention. And since Allah is supposedly uni-personal he needed to create beings who could give him all the love and attention that craves. 

Allah needs help

The Quran further states that Allah requires the help of his followers: 

who were expelled from their habitations without right, except that they say 'Our Lord is God.' Had God not driven back the people, some by the means of others, there had been destroyed cloisters and churches, oratories and mosques, wherein God's Name is much mentioned. Assuredly God will help him who helps Him -- surely God is All-strong, All-mighty. S. 22:40

O believers, if you help God, He will help you, and confirm your feet. S. 47:7

In fact, according to the Islamic scripture true believers are those who help both Allah and his messenger!

It is for the poor emigrants, who were expelled from their habitations and their possessions, seeking bounty from God and good pleasure, and helping God AND His Messenger; those -- they are the truthful ones. S. 59:8

Allah needs money

To make matters worse, Allah actually needs to borrow money from people! 

Allah promises that if anyone loans him money he will not only pay that person back, but will actually pay back even more than what he initially received:

Who is he that will lend God a good loan, and He will multiply it for him manifold? God grasps, and outspreads; and unto Him you shall be returned. S. 2:245

Who is he that will lend to God a good loan, and He will multiply it for him, and his shall be a generous wage? S. 57:11

[Sidenote: If Allah pays back more than is loaned to him… doesn’t this mean that Allah believes in interest or usury, something which is condemned in Islam?]

Such statements caused the Jews of Muhammad’s time to conclude that Allah must be rather poor if he needs to take a loan from his creatures. In fact, the Quran even records their reply to Muhammad asking his followers to help his god out by borrowing him some money:  

God has heard the saying of those who said, 'Surely God is poor, and we are rich.' We shall write down what they have said, and their slaying the Prophets without right, and We shall say, 'Taste the chastisement of the burning -- S. 3:181

Here is what noted Muslim expositor Ibn Kathir wrote in respect to this text:

Allah Warns the Idolators

Sa`id bin Jubayr said that Ibn `Abbas said, “When Allah's statement…

(Who is he that will lend to Allah a goodly loan so that He may multiply it to him many times) [2:245] was revealed, the Jews said, ‘O Muhammad! Has your Lord become poor SO THAT HE ASKS HIS SERVANTS TO GIVE HIM A LOAN?’ Allah sent down…

(Indeed, Allah has heard the statement of those (Jews) who say: ‘Truly, Allah is poor and we are rich!’) [3:181].”

This Hadith was collected by Ibn Marduwyah and Ibn Abi Hatim. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Other commentaries write:

Then Allah mentioned the Jews, Finhas Ibn 'Azura' and his friends when they said: “O Muhammad! Allah is poor: He is asking us to give Him a loan”, saying (Verily Allah heard the saying of those) Finhas Ibn 'Azura' and his fellows (who said, (when asked for contributions to the war): “Allah, forsooth, is poor) He needs us to give Him a loan, (and we are rich!”) and we do not need a loan from Him. (We shall record their saying) We shall preserve for them what they have said in the Hereafter (with their slaying of the Prophets) just as We shall record for them their slaying of the prophets (wrongfully) without them having committed any crime (and We shall say: Taste ye the punishment of burning!) which is very severe. (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs; bold and italic emphasis ours)


(Verily Allah heard the saying of those who said…) [3:181]. ‘Ikrimah, al-Suddi and Muqatil ibn Ishaq related that, one day, Abu Bakr al-Siddiq entered a Jewish place of study and found a group of Jewish people gathered around one of them called Finhas ibn ‘Azura, who was one of their doctors. Abu Bakr said to Finhas: “Fear Allah and embrace Islam, for by Allah you know well that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah who has brought the truth to you from Allah. He is mentioned in your Torah; so believe and accept the truth and grant Allah a goodly offering and He will make you enter the Garden and multiply your reward”. Finhas responded: “O Abu Bakr, you claim that our Lord is asking us to lend Him our wealth. Yet, it is only the poor who borrow from the rich. And if what you say is true, it follows that Allah is poor and we are rich, for if He were rich He would not ask us to lend Him our wealth”. Abu Bakr al-Siddiq became very angry and struck the face of Finhas with a mighty blow. He then said to him: “By Him in whose Hand is my soul, if it were not for the treaty between us, O enemy of Allah, I would have killed you”. Finhas went to the Messenger of Allah and said: “O Muhammad! Look at what your companion has done to me”. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, asked Abu Bakr: “What has driven you to do what you have done?” He said: “O Messenger of Allah, this enemy of Allah has said something very serious. He claimed that Allah is poor and they are rich. I therefore got angry for the sake of Allah and hit his face”. But Finhas denied that he ever uttered those words, and so Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse (Verily Allah heard the saying of those who said…) to give the lie to Finhas and to confirm that Abu Bakr al-Siddiq said the truth. ‘Abd al-Qahir ibn Tahir informed us> Abu ‘Amr ibn Matar> Ja‘far ibn al-Layth al-Ziyadi> Hudhayfah Musa ibn Mas‘ud> Shibl> Ibn Abi Najih> Mujahid who said: “This verse was revealed about the Jews; Abu Bakr had struck the face of one of their men who said ‘Allah is poor and we are rich’ ”. Shibl commented: “I was informed that this man was Finhas the Jew, and it is also this man who said: (Allah’s hand is fettered) [5:64]”. ('Alī ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi, Asbab al-Nuzul; bold and italic emphasis ours)

The reasoning of the Jews was spot on since it is the poor who borrow from the rich. Therefore, if Allah is asking a loan then this must mean that he is poor and that those whom he is borrowing from are rich, or at least richer than the Islamic deity!  

The Jews further reasoned that Allah must be very cheap and stingy with his wealth since he would rather have his creatures spend on him than he spend on them:

The Jews Say That Allah's Hand is Tied up!

Allah states that the Jews, may Allah's continuous curses descend on them until the Day of Resurrection, describe Him as a miser. Allah is far holier than what they attribute to Him. The Jews also claim that Allah is poor, while they are rich. `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas commented on Allah's statement…

(The Jews say, “Allah's Hand is tied up.”) “They do not mean that Allah's Hand is literally tied up. Rather, they mean that He is a miser and does not spend from what He has. Allah is far holier than what they attribute to Him.” Similar was reported from Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Qatadah, As-Suddi and Ad-Dahhak. Allah said in another Ayah

(And let not your hand be tied (like a miser) to your neck, nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach (like a spendthrift), so that you become blameworthy and in severe poverty.) In this Ayah, Allah prohibits stinginess and extravagance, which includes unnecessary and improper expenditures. Allah describes stinginess by saying…

(And let not your hand be tied (like a miser) to your neck.) Therefore, this is the meaning that the Jews meant, may Allah's curses be on them. `Ikrimah said that this Ayah was revealed about Finhas, one of the Jews, may Allah curse him. We mentioned before that Finhas said…

(“Truly, Allah is poor and we are rich!”) and that Abu Bakr smacked him. Allah has refuted what the Jews attribute to Him and cursed them in retaliation for their lies and fabrications about Him. Allah said…

(Be their hands tied up and be they accursed for what they uttered.) What Allah said occurred, for the Jews are indeed miserly, envious, cowards and tremendously humiliated. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 5:64; underline emphasis ours)

Isn’t it interesting to see that both Abu Bakr and “Allah” have little or no idea how to respond to this critique other than either to beat up the questioner or curse him and threaten him? Surely, if that is not the meaning, if that was merely a misunderstanding on the part of the Jews, then Allah would have been able to eloquently clarify what the true meaning of “lending to God” is, and yet he didn’t! 

Allah has to purchase his own creatures

According to the Quran, the entire creation belongs to Allah (Q. 2:116; 5:17; 23:84-89). This means that every single human being already belongs to him and that their life is a gift which they receive from Allah.

Yet, astonishingly, the Muslim scripture refers to Allah purchasing the believers (which he supposedly already owns) by giving them paradise in exchange for their lives and goods:

God has BOUGHT from the believers their selves and their possessions against the gift of Paradise; they fight in the way of God; they kill, and are killed; that is a promise binding upon God in the Torah, and the Gospel, and the Koran; and who fulfils his covenant truer than God? So rejoice in the bargain you have made with Him; that is the mighty triumph. S. 9:111

Do Muslims really want us to believe that this is a very eloquent and majestic way of speaking of Allah's dealings with his slaves? Does it even make sense to claim that the creator and possessor of all things has to buy his own creation? How can Allah purchase anything when he is supposed to already own everything which exists?

This leads us to our next point.

Allah needs property

Not only does Allah borrow from people, and purchases them, he even inherits from them!

It is We who give life, and make to die, and it is We who are the inheritors. S. 15:23

Surely We shall inherit the earth and all that are upon it, and unto Us they shall be returned. S. 19:40

and We shall inherit from him that he says, and he shall come to Us alone. S. 19:80

In fact, another one of Allah’s names is even called the inheritor!

Al-Wârith: The Inheritor 

The One who inherits and continues after all others have ceased to be; thus all returns to Him. He is the true owner of all. 

Al-Warith is one of the Ninety-Nine Names. (Bewley, The Divine Names)

How ironic that the being whom Muslims boast is self-sufficient needs help, asks for a loan, purchases and even inherits from what is supposed to be his very own creation!

Allah is ever thankful and grateful

The Quran says that Allah is an extremely thankful and grateful deity: 

If you lend to God a good loan, He will multiply it for you, and will forgive you. God is All-thankful (shakoorun), All-clement, S. 64:17

[Sidenote: Though this is a different issue, the above verse indicates that people can buy Allah’s forgiveness (“and will forgive you”) by giving him enough money. This is both unfair and unjust since this means that the rich can buy their way out of hell whereas the poor are stuck with the bill, so to speak. A rich person can avoid the punishment of hell-fire by simply borrowing Allah loads of money. This text also discriminates the poor (albeit implicitly) since it suggests that the rich are better in the sight of Allah because of the fact they have more money which they can loan to their creator. And if Allah himself deems them to be better then what kind of attitude will/should his followers adopt towards the rich and poor?]

And they shall say, 'Praise belongs to God who has put away all sorrow from us. Surely our Lord is All-forgiving, All-thankful (shakoorun), S. 35:34 

that He may pay them in full their wages and enrich them of His bounty; surely He is All-forgiving, All-thankful (shakoorun). S. 35:30

God will certainly pay them their due wages, and of his bounty increase them: for He is Gracious, Grateful. Rodwell

that He may pay them their hire, and give them increase of His grace; verily, He is forgiving, grateful. Palmer

This makes sense in light of the fact that Allah needs and asks for help, borrows money, and inherits property from his creatures. Allah would obviously be thankful to all those who choose to help him, loan him money, and were/are kind enough to make him the heir of their estate. In fact, it would actually be surprising if the Muslim scripture didn’t say that Allah was/is extremely appreciative and grateful for all the help and monetary support that he received and continues to receive from his creatures.

Allah is also grateful and thankful to all those who decide to obey and worship him:

Surely the Safa and the Marwa are among the signs appointed by Allah; so whoever makes a pilgrimage to the House or pays a visit (to it), there is no blame on him if he goes round them both; and whoever does good spontaneously, then surely Allah is Grateful (shakirun), Knowing. S. 2:158 Shakir

That is the good tidings God gives to His servants who believe and do righteous deeds. Say: 'I do not ask of you a wage for this, except love for the kinsfolk; and whosoever gains a good deed, We shall give him increase of good in respect of it. Surely God is All-forgiving, All-thankful (shakoorun). S. 42:23 

What would God do with chastising you if you are thankful (shakartum), and believe? God is All-thankful (shakiran), All-knowing. S. 4:147

In case a Muslim wishes to argue that shakur does not mean thankful or grateful, here is how one lexical source defines this term:

Shiin-Kaf-Ra = to give thanks, be grateful, realize or acknowledge one's favour, praise. shukrun - giving thanks, gratitude. shaakirun - one who gives thanks or is grateful, appreciated and bountiful in reward.
 shakuurun - thankful. Sometimes a distinction is made between this word and shaakirun. The former is used to denote a person who is thankful for little or for nothing, the latter grateful for large favours.
 mashkuurun - gratefully accepted, acceptable.

shakara vb. (1)
 perf. act. 4:147, 14:7, 27:40, 54:35
 impf. act. 2:52, 2:56, 2:185, 2:243, 3:123, 5:6, 5:89, 7:10, 7:58, 8:26, 10:60, 12:38, 14:37, 16:14, 16:78, 22:36, 23:78, 27:19, 27:40, 27:40, 27:73, 28:73, 30:46, 31:12, 31:12, 32:9, 35:12, 36:35, 36:73, 39:7, 40:61, 45:12, 46:15, 56:70, 67:23
 impv. 2:152, 2:172, 16:114, 29:17, 31:12, 31:14, 34:15
 n.vb. 25:62, 34:13, 76:9
 pcple. act. 2:158, 3:144, 3:145, 4:147, 6:53, 6:63, 7:17, 7:144, 7:189, 10:22, 16:121, 21:80, 39:66, 76:3, 17:19
 pcple. pass. 76:22

shakur n.m. (adj.) 14:5, 17:3, 31:31, 34:13, 34:19, 35:30, 35:34, 42:23, 42:33, 64:17 (Project Root List; underline emphasis ours)

In light of the foregoing, would it shock the readers to discover that one of the ninety-nine names of Allah happens to be the ever-thankful?

Ash-Shakûr; Ash-Shâkir: The Ever-Thankful 

The Rewarder of Thankfulness. He repays people for their good actions. He gives a large reward for few works; He in whose estimation few works performed by His slaves increase and who multiplies His rewards to them. 

Ash-Shakur is one of the Ninety-Nine Names. (Bewley, The Divine Names)

We didn’t think so.

Concluding Remarks

Our examination of the Quran’s depiction of Allah led us to discover the following astonishing “facts” concerning the Islamic deity. 

Allah is on a straight path like Muslims are.

Allah is a fellow believer with Muslims.

Allah even prays and worships like Muslims (and the angels) do.

Allah bears witness or testifies like Muslims do.

Allah uses the expression, “if Allah wills,” in the same way that imperfect creatures who do not know the future do.

Allah created humans and jinn to worship him because he needed to be loved and served. 

Allah also needs help like Muslims do and so asked his followers to help both himself and his messenger.

Allah further takes out loans and borrows from others much like Muslims (and human beings in general) do at times.

Allah even inherits like Muslims (and human beings in general) do.

Allah has to actually buy the very individuals that he himself has created and is supposed to already own.

Allah is said to be a grateful deity who thanks those that have helped him, much like Muslims are commanded to do (Q. 2:52, 56, 185; 14:5, 17:3, 31:31, 34:13, 34:19, 35:30, 35:34, 42:23, 42:33, 64:17).            

Thus, the same criticism which the Muslims often level against the Holy Bible can be turned against them with greater force and clarity. If the inspired writers of Holy Scriptures were wrong for using anthropomorphisms, speaking of God as if he were a human being in order to help readers understand something about the character and nature of God, then the same criticism must be lodged against the Quran, sunna and their editors. 

In fact, how much more demeaning can it to be to God than to describe him as a being who craves and desires love, attention, worship etc., and as someone that is in such need that he has to ask his followers to help him out and to borrow him some money? Can it get any more degrading than to speak of the all-sufficient Creator in this way?

If, as Muslims often claim, Muhammad truly believed that his deity was absolutely perfect and totally self-sufficient then he did a terrible job of communicating this point. Muhammad, who was supposed to be blessed with eloquent speech and who supposedly always spoke by inspiration, wrote of Allah in such a way as to make a mockery of his nature and aseity. A deity who believes like his followers do, who is on the straight path along with other believers, who created individuals out of a need to be worshiped, who needs assistance, borrows money, and also inherits like creatures do, is not someone who is self-sufficient or perfect.     

Now a Muslim may try to explain these problems away. For instance, a Muslim may try to prove that the Quran doesn’t really mean that Allah actually inherits, borrows money, needs help etc. S/he may also argue that names such as al-mumin shouldn’t be translated as “believer” when it comes to Allah, but as “trustworthy,” “faithful” etc. 

The problem with such replies is that they actually prove that the Quran is not eloquent and fails to communicate its message clearly, despite the fact that it claims to be a perspicuous scripture which provides a detailed explanation of all its passages: 

O followers of the Book! indeed Our Apostle has come to you making clear to you much of what you concealed of the Book and passing over much; indeed, there has come to you light and a CLEAR Book from Allah; S. 5:15 Sher Ali

And the day We shall raise up from every nation a witness against them from amongst them, and We shall bring thee as a witness against those. And We have sent down on thee the Book making clear EVERYTHING, and as a guidance and a mercy, and as good tidings to those who surrender. S. 16:89

And indeed We know that they (polytheists and pagans) say: "It is only a human being who teaches him (Muhammad)." The tongue of the man they refer to is foreign, while this (the Qur'an) is a clear Arabic tongue. S. 16:103 Hilali-Khan

He sets forth for you a parable from your ownselves, - Do you have partners among those whom your right hands possess (i.e. your slaves) to share as equals in the wealth We have bestowed on you? Whom you fear as you fear each other? Thus do We explain the signs IN DETAIL to a people who have sense. S. 30:28 Hilali-Khan

A Book, whereof the verses are explained IN DETAIL; - a Qur'an in Arabic, for people who understand; - S. 41:3 Y. Ali

If it were indeed a clear book that thoroughly explains its verses then there would be no need for Muslims to try and make sense of, or explain away, all the problems created by the Quran’s choice of words. 

Muslims must contend with the fact that the Muslim scripture could have avoided portraying Allah as an imperfect, impotent deity by simply using other terms and expressions to depict him. After all, couldn’t the most eloquent man and the most remarkable Arabic book that has ever been produced come up with a better way of describing the Muslim deity? 

In conclusion, it is apparent from our analysis that Muhammad did not know theology, nor was he well versed in philosophy or logic. It is also obvious that Muhammad was anything but inspired and eloquent, and that the Quran is far from being an Arabic masterpiece which remains unmatched in terms of its grammar, structure, or in the way it describes the deity. 

Unless noted otherwise, all the verses (are) taken from the A. J. Arberry’s version of the Quran.

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