Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Is Allah truly eternal and absolutely self-sufficient?

The problem of Islamic monotheism and the issue of inheritance

Sam Shamoun

Anyone that has read the Quran and ahadith literature with some depth soon learns that the Islamic sources are riddled with contradictions and irrational teachings. It doesn’t take much time for the person studying the Islamic corpus to discover that it is littered with logical fallacies and scientific blunders which demonstrate that Islam could not have originated from a perfect, omniscient Being (*).

For example, we are told in the Quran that Allah cannot have son without having a consort (Q. 6:101), even though it says in another place that all he has to if he wanted a son was to take one from among his creation (Q. 39:4). The Muslim scripture also acknowledges that Mary had a child without a husband (Q. 3:45-47; 19:16-21) and claims that it itself has a mother but presumably no father (Q. 43:3-4; 13:39). And yet we are supposed to accept that it is impossible for the all-powerful creator to have a son without having a spouse!

Another case of bad argumentation is the Quran’s assertion that Allah does not accept intercession since this would imply that he is somehow deficient in wisdom and knowledge. And yet there are plenty of passages where the Quran says that Allah does allow intercession to take place! (*)

In this article we would like to present a further example of a major logical blunder which severely undermines the Islamic belief concerning Allah’s absolute perfection and self-sufficiency.

According to the Muslim expositors the following Sura,

Say: He is Allah, (the) One. Allah-us-Samad (the Self-Sufficient Master, Whom all creatures need, He neither eats nor drinks). He begets not, nor was He begotten; And there is none co-equal or comparable unto Him. S. 112:1-4

Was composed in response to certain questions which Muhammad was asked concerning the nature of Allah:

(Say: He is Allah, the One! Allah, the eternally Besought of all…) [112:1-4]. Qatadah, al-Dahhak and Muqatil said: “A group of Jewish people went to the Prophet and said to him: 'Describe to us your Lord, for He has revealed His description in the Torah. Tell us: what is He made of? And to which species does He belong? Is He made of gold, copper or silver? Does He eat and drink? Who did He inherit this world from? And to whom will He bequeath it?' And so Allah, gloried and exalted is He, revealed this Surah. It is Allah's specific lineage. Abu Nasr Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Mihrajani informed us> 'Ubayd Allah ibn Muhammad al-Zahid> Abu'l-Qasim ibn Bint Mani'> his grandfather Ahmad ibn Mani'> Abu Sa'd al-Saghghani> Abu Ja'far al-Razi> al-Rabi' ibn Anas> Abu'l-'Aliyah> Ubayy ibn Ka'b who related that the idolaters said to the Messenger of Allah: “What is the lineage of your Lord?” and so Allah, exalted is He, revealed (Say: He is Allah, the One! Allah, the eternally Besought of all). The eternally Besought of all (al-Samad) is Him Who (begetteth not nor was begotten) for anyone who is begotten will certainly die and whoever dies will be inherited. Allah does not die nor is He inherited. (And there is none comparable unto Him), He does not have anyone who resembles Him or is like Him (Naught is as His likeness…) [42:11]. Abu Mansur al-Baghdadi informed us> Abu'l-Hasan al-Sarraj> Muhammad ibn 'Abd Allah al-Hadrami> Surayj ibn Yunus> Isma'il ibn Mujalid> Mujalid> al-Sha'bi> Jabir who said: “The Prophet was asked: 'O Messenger of Allah, tell us about the lineage of your Lord!' And so this Surah (Say: He is Allah, the One!...) was revealed”. ('Alī ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi, Asbab al-Nuzul; underline emphasis ours)


And it is also said that al-Samad means: (He begetteth not nor was begotten) He says: He did not inherit and will not be inherited; and it is also said this means: He does not have a son who will inherit His dominion and He was not begotten, which means that He did not inherit His dominion. (Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas, Q. 112:3; underline emphasis ours)

Thus, according to Muhammad’s logic Allah neither inherits nor is inherited because he was neither born nor shall he die. Muhammad’s reasoning goes something like this.

  1. A person can only receive an inheritance if s/he is born and can only have heirs if s/he dies.
  2. Allah was neither born nor shall he die.
  3. Therefore, Allah doesn’t inherit nor is he inherited.

The Muslim scripture seems to be in agreement with Muhammad’s reasoning since it does say that Allah is ever-living,

Allah! there is no god but He, the Ever-living, the Self-Subsisting (the Sustainer of all things); slumber seizes Him not, nor sleep; to Him belongs whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him save by His leave? He knows what is before them and what is behind them, while they comprehend nothing of His knowledge except what He wills. His Kursi (knowledge) extends over the heavens and the earth; and preserving them both tires Him not; and, He is the Highest, the Greatest. S. 2:255

Allah! There is no god save Him, the Living, the Eternal. S. 3:2

It also claims that all of creation belongs to him since it is his dominion:

To Him belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth: It is He who gives life and death; and He has power over all things. S. 57:2

To Allah belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth; And Allah hath power over all things. S. 3:189

We said that it seems to agree with Muhammad’s logic since the Quran further teaches that Allah does receive an inheritance, specifically from his very own creation:

And certainly We! We it is Who give life, and cause death and We are the Inheritors. S. 15:23

Verily! We will inherit the earth and whatsoever is thereon. And to Us they all shall be returned, S. 19:40

And We shall inherit from him (at his death) all that he talks of (i.e. wealth and children which We have bestowed upon him in this world), and he shall come to Us alone. S. 19:80

And how many a community have We destroyed that was thankless for its means of livelihood! And yonder are their dwellings, which have not been inhabited after them save a little. And We, even We, were the inheritors. S. 28:58

Allah is even called the best of inheritors in the context of the prophet Zechariah praying to have a child who would be his heir!

And Zachariah, when he cried unto his Lord: My Lord! Leave me not childless, though Thou art the Best of inheritors. S. 21:89

The Muslim scripture further testifies that individuals do receive an inheritance from Allah, stating explicitly that there are many persons that will inherit from him:

And We shall remove from their hearts any lurking sense of injury; - beneath them will be rivers flowing; - and they shall say: "Praise be to Allah, who hath guided us to this (felicity): never could we have found guidance, had it not been for the guidance of Allah: indeed it was the truth, that the apostles of our Lord brought unto us." And they shall hear the cry: "Behold! the garden before you! Ye have been made its inheritors, for your deeds (of righteousness)." S. 7:43

Successful indeed are the believers Who are humble in their prayers, And who shun vain conversation, And who are payers of the poor-due; And who guard their modesty - Save from their wives or the (slaves) that their right hands possess, for then they are not blameworthy, But whoso craveth beyond that, such are transgressors - And who are shepherds of their pledge and their covenant, And who pay heed to their prayers. These are the heirs who will inherit paradise. There they will abide. S. 23:1-11

And those who kept their duty to their Lord will be led to Paradise in groups, till, when they reach it, and its gates will be opened (before their arrival for their reception) and its keepers will say: Salamun 'Alaikum (peace be upon you)! You have done well, so enter here to abide therein." And they will say: "All the praises and thanks be to Allah Who has fulfilled His Promise to us and has made us inherit (this) land. We can dwell in Paradise where we will; how excellent a reward for the (pious good) workers!" And you will see the angels surrounding the Throne (of Allah) from all round, glorifying the praises of their Lord (Allah). And they (all the creatures) will be judged with truth, and it will be said. All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the 'Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists)." S. 39:73-75

This is the Paradise which you have been made to inherit because of your deeds which you used to do (in the life of the world). S. 43:72

Paradise belongs to Allah since it is his creation and part of his dominion. And yet according to the above references Allah has bequeathed Paradise as an inheritance for the believers, which means that Allah is inherited!

With the foregoing in view we shall highlight the logical implications of Muhammad’s reasoning one more time,

  1. A person can only receive an inheritance if s/he is born and can only have heirs if s/he dies.
  2. Allah was neither born nor shall he ever die.
  3. Therefore, Allah doesn’t inherit nor is he inherited.
  4. However, Allah actually inherits and does have heirs.
  5. Therefore, Allah must have been born/created and shall eventually die.

Now notice all of the major problems that the Muslims have to address due to Muhammad’s faulty logic.

  1. Muhammad stated that Allah doesn’t inherit because he isn’t created or born from anyone, and isn’t inherited because he doesn’t die.
  2. The Quran, however, says that Allah does inherit and that he does have heirs who inherit from him.
  3. This leaves Muslims with the following two choices:

    1. Allah must have been born or created and shall eventually die, otherwise he could not inherit nor could he have heirs.
    2. This is simply another case of the author(s) of the Quran, especially Muhammad, employing very bad reasoning. His/her/their logic was/were grossly mistaken since Allah does inherit and does have heirs, and yet he was neither born nor shall he die. This means that the premises and conclusions of both Muhammad and/or the author(s) of Quran are simply erroneous and invalid.

Yet it really doesn't matter what view the Muslims take since the fact remains that Muhammad and his sources were mistaken. This mistake is simply further proof that the Quran cannot be a revelation from an all-knowing and perfect Deity.

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