Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Supplicating Allah and …?

Adoration gone Astray Pt. 1

Sam Shamoun

Now that we are done addressing and meeting the Quran's challenge to produce the evidence which establishes the Deity of the Lord Jesus we want to turn our attention to the Muslim practice of venerating Muhammad in order to show that Muslims are actually guilty of the very thing which the Quran accuses others of. Recall what the challenge and complaint of the Quran was:

Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Have ye thought on all that ye invoke beside Allah? Show me what they have created of the earth. Or have they any portion in the heavens? Bring me a scripture before this (Scripture), or some vestige of knowledge (in support of what ye say), if ye are truthful. S. 46:4 Pickthall

The Muslim scripture censures those who would invoke or pray to someone who hasn’t created anything nor owns a portion of the heavens.

In light of this condemnation our aim in this article is to show how Muhammad himself went against the directives of his own god by permitting his followers to invoke or make du’a to him. Muhammad did this even though the Quran emphatically denies that he created anything of the earth or has a portion in the heavens. We will also see how Muhammad turned himself into a savior, thereby replacing Allah as the object of the Muslims’ trust and hope.

Believers are those who invoke or call upon Allah alone

The Quran commands Muslims to call upon or make du’a only to Allah:

And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright. S. 2:186 Hilali-Khan

Say (O Muhammad): “I invoke only my Lord (Allah Alone), and I associate none as partners along with Him.” S. 72:20 Hilali-Khan

The ahadith even say that du’a or supplication is the very heart or essence of worship itself:

296. The excellence of supplication

712. Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet said, "Nothing is dearer to Allah than supplication."

713. Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet said, "The noblest act of worship is supplication."

714. An-Nu'man ibn Bashir reported that the Prophet said, "Supplication is worship." Then he recited, "Call on Me and I will answer you." (Al-Adab al-Mufrad al-Bukhari, translated by Aisha Bewley, XXX. Supplication; *)


3828. It was narrated from Nu‘man bin Bashir that the Messenger of Allah said: “Indeed the supplication is the worship.” Then he recited: “And your Lord said: Invoke Me, I will respond to you.”[1] (Sahih) (English Translation of Sunan Ibn Majah - Compiled by Imam Muhammad Bin Yazeed Ibn Majah Al-Qazwini, From Hadith No. 3657 to 4341, Ahadith edited and referenced by Hafiz Abu Tahir Zubair 'Ali Za'i, translated by Nasiruddin al-Khattab (Canada), final review by Abu Khaliyl (USA) [Darussalam Publications and Distributors, First Edition: June 2007], Volume 5, 34. The Chapter On Supplication, Chapter 1. The Virtue of Supplication, p. 95)

[1] Ghafir 40:60. (Ibid.)

The Quran further exhorts Muslims such as Muhammad to seek Allah’s help or protection whenever the devil tries to tempt any of them:

And if a whisper from the devil reach thee (O Muhammad) then seek refuge in Allah. Lo! He is the Hearer, the Knower. S. 41:36 Pickthall

But that’s not all. The Quran speaks out against making du’a to or seeking the protection of anyone other than Allah, even if they happen to be righteous servants such as the prophets or angels:

If anyone invokes, besides God, Any other god, he has no authority therefor; and his reckoning will be only with his Lord! and verily the Unbelievers will fail to win through! S. 23:117 Y. Ali

Lo! those on whom ye call beside Allah are slaves like unto you. Call on them now, and let them answer you, if ye are truthful! S. 7:194 Pickthall

Those whom they call upon do desire (for themselves) means of access to their Lord, - even those who are nearest: they hope for His Mercy and fear His Wrath: for the Wrath of thy Lord is something to take heed of. S. 17:57 Y. Ali

And indeed (O Muhammad) individuals of humankind used to invoke the protection of individuals of the Jinn, so that they increased them in revolt (against Allah); S. 72:6 Pickthall

The Muslim scripture further chides those who would call on that which can neither harm nor benefit anyone:

And invoke not besides Allah, any that will neither profit you, nor hurt you, but if (in case) you did so, you shall certainly be one of the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers). S. 10:106 Hilali-Khan

It is passages and narrations such as these that have caused some Muslims to conclude that to ask or invoke someone other than Allah is to worship the creation instead of the Creator:


Asking anything that is subjected to Allah alone from any creature IS WORSHIPING THAT CREATURE, so it is considered polytheism, (i.e., associating partners with Allah). The creature might be a non-living thing like a stone, sun, straw, tree, etc., or a living thing like an animal, jinni, angel or even a pious person or a Prophet; asking them for anything which is beyond the ability of creatures is polytheism. (English Translation of Sunan Ibn Majah, Volume 5, 34. The Chapter On Supplication, Chapter 1. The Virtue of Supplication, pp. 95-96; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Muhammad was one who could not save or benefit anyone

This means that making du’a to Muhammad is also forbidden since the Quran claims that he was a creature who could neither harm nor benefit anyone. In fact, Muhammad was even forced to say that he does not know what Allah would do to him or his contemporaries:

Say: For myself I have no power to benefit, nor power to hurt, save that which Allah willeth. Had I knowledge of the Unseen, I should have abundance of wealth, and adversity would not touch me. I am but a warner, and a bearer of good tidings unto folk who believe. S. 7:188 Pickthall

Or say they: “He (Muhammad) has fabricated it." Say: "If I have fabricated it, still you have no power to support me against Allah. He knows best of what you say among yourselves concerning it (i.e. this Qur'an)! Sufficient is He for a witness between me and you! And He is the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful." Say (O Muhammad):"I am not a new thing among the Messengers (of Allah) (i.e. I am not the first Messenger) nor do I know what will be done with me or with you. I only follow that which is revealed to me, and I am but a plain warner." S. 46:8-9 Y. Ali

Say (unto them, O Muhammad): I pray unto Allah only, and ascribe unto Him no partner. Say: Lo! I control not hurt nor benefit for you. Say: Lo! none can protect me from Allah, nor can I find any refuge beside Him (Mine is) but conveyance (of the Truth) from Allah, and His messages; and whoso disobeyeth Allah and His messenger, lo! his is fire of hell, wherein such dwell for ever. Till (the day) when they shall behold that which they are promised (they may doubt); but then they will know (for certain) who is weaker in allies and less in multitude. Say (O Muhammad, unto the disbelievers): I know not whether that which ye are promised is nigh, or if my Lord hath set a distant term for it. S. 72:20-25 Pickthall

According to the hadiths, Muhammad even warned his followers that he would not be able to save them on the judgment day:

Narrated Abu Huraira:
When Allah revealed the Verse: "Warn your nearest kinsmen," Allah’s Apostle got up and said, "O people of Quraish (or said similar words)! Buy (i.e. save) yourselves (from the Hellfire) as I cannot save you from Allah’s Punishment; O Bani Abd Manaf! I cannot save you from Allah's Punishment, O Safiya, the Aunt of Allah's Apostle! I cannot save you from Allah's Punishment; O Fatima bint Muhammad! Ask me anything from my wealth, but I cannot save you from Allah's Punishment." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 51, Number 16)


Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, “(On the Day of Resurrection) camels will come to their owner in the best state of health they have ever had (in the world), and if he had not paid their Zakat (in the world) then they would tread him with their feet; and similarly, sheep will come to their owner in the best state of health they have ever had in the world, and if he had not paid their Zakat, then they would tread him with their hooves and would butt him with their horns.” The Prophet added, “One of their rights is that they should be milked while water is kept in front of them.” The Prophet added, “I do not want anyone of you to come to me on the Day of Resurrection, carrying over his neck a sheep that will be bleating. Such a person will (then) say, ‘O Muhammad! (please intercede for me,).’ I will say to him. I can't help you, for I conveyed Allah's Message to you.’ Similarly, I do not want anyone of you to come to me carrying over his neck a camel that will be grunting. Such a person (then) will say ‘O Muhammad! (please intercede for me).’ I will say to him, ‘I can't help you for I conveyed Allah's message to you.’” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 24, Number 485)

In fact, not only could he not save anyone Muhammad didn’t even know whether he himself would be personally saved!

Narrated ‘Um al-‘Ala:
An Ansari woman who gave the pledge of allegiance to the Prophet that the Ansar drew lots concerning the dwelling of the Emigrants. ‘Uthman bin Maz'un was decided to dwell with them (i.e. Um al-‘Ala’s family), 'Uthman fell ill and I nursed him till he died, and we covered him with his clothes. Then the Prophet came to us and I (addressing the dead body) said, “O Abu As-Sa'ib, may Allah's Mercy be on you! I bear witness that Allah has honored you.” On that the Prophet said, "How do you know that Allah has honored him?” I replied, “I do not know. May my father and my mother be sacrificed for you, O Allah’s Apostle! But who else is worthy of it (if not 'Uthman)?” He said, “As to him, by Allah, death has overtaken him, and I hope the best for him. By Allah, though I am the Apostle of Allah, yet I do not know what Allah will do to me,” By Allah, I will never assert the piety of anyone after him. That made me sad, and when I slept I saw in a dream a flowing stream for 'Uthman bin Maz'un. I went to Allah's Apostle and told him of it. He remarked, "That symbolizes his (good) deeds.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 266)

This makes perfect sense seeing that Muhammad was nothing more than a fallible human being like the rest of us:

Say: “I am but a man like yourselves, (but) the inspiration has come to me, that your God is one God: whoever expects to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and, in the worship of his Lord, admit no one as partner.” S. 18:110 Y. Ali

And like the rest of his followers, Muhammad could only hope for the mercy of Allah and constantly feared his wrath:

And some part of the night awake for it, a largess for thee. It MAY BE that thy Lord will raise thee to a praised estate. S. 17:79

Here is how the hadith explains this particular text:

'Abdullah b. Amr b. al-As reported Allah's Messenger as saying: When you hear the Mu'adhdhin, repeat what he says, then invoke a blessing on me, for everyone who invokes a blessing on me will receive ten blessings from Allah; then BEG from Allah al-Wasila for me, which is a rank in Paradise fitting for only one of Allah's servants, and I HOPE that I MAY BE that one. If anyone who asks that I be given the Wasila, he will be assured of my intercession. (Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 0747)

In fact, as troubling as this may be for Muslims to read, Allah repeatedly threatened to kill and destroy Muhammad all throughout the Quran if the latter ever committed major sins:

And when Our signs are recited to them, clear signs, those who look not to encounter Us say, 'Bring a Koran other than this, or alter it.' Say: 'It is not for me to alter it of my own accord. I follow nothing, except what is revealed to me. Truly I fear, if I should rebel against my Lord, the chastisement of a dreadful day.' S. 10:15 Arberry

So if you (O Muhammad) are in doubt concerning that which We have revealed unto you, [i.e. that your name is written in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] then ask those who are reading the Book [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] before you. Verily, the truth has come to you from your Lord. So be not of those who doubt (it). And be not one of those who belie the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah, for then you shall be one of the losers. S. 10:94-95 Hilali-Khan

Verily, they were about to tempt you away from that which We have revealed (the Qur'an) unto you (O Muhammad), to fabricate something other than it against Us, and then they would certainly have taken you a friend! And had We not made you stand firm, you would nearly have inclined to them a little. In that case, We would have made you taste a double portion (of punishment) in this life and a double portion (of punishment) after death. And then you would have found none to help you against Us. S. 17:73-75 Hilali-Khan

O Prophet! be careful of (your duty to) Allah and do not comply with (the wishes of) the unbelievers and the hypocrites; surely Allah is Knowing, Wise; S. 33:1

Say (O Muhammad): "Verily, if I disobey my Lord, I am afraid of the torment of a great Day." S. 39:13 Hilali-Khan

it is the speech of a noble Messenger. It is not the speech of a poet (little do you believe) nor the speech of a soothsayer (little do you remember). A sending down from the Lord of all Being. Had he invented against Us any sayings, We would have seized him by the right hand, then We would surely have cut his life-vein. S. 69:40-46 Arberry

In light of such warnings it is easy to see why Muhammad was so afraid and uncertain about his eternal fate.

Ironically, there was something that Muhammad had absolutely no doubt about. He knew for certain that he was going to die like any other human being and end up in hell!

Thou truly shall die, O Muhammad, and they too shall die: Then, at the day of resurrection, ye shall wrangle with one another in the presence of your Lord. S. 39:30-31 Rodwell

Now, by thy Lord, We shall surely muster them, and the Satans, then We shall parade them about Gehenna hobbling on their knees. Then We shall pluck forth from every party whichever of them was the most hardened in disdain of the All-merciful; then We shall know very well those most deserving to burn there. Not one of you there is, but he shall go down to it (wariduha); that for thy Lord is a thing decreed, determined. Then We shall deliver those that were godfearing; and the evildoers We shall leave there, hobbling on their knees S. 19:68-72 Arberry

Compare how these other versions translate the particular verse in question:

No one is there of you who shall not go down unto it - This is a settled decree with thy Lord - S. 19:71 Rodwell

There shall be none of you but shall descend into the same [hell]: [This] is an established decree upon thy Lord. Sale

There is not one of you who will not go down to it,- that is settled and decided by thy Lord. Palmer

The Quran also attests that the dead hear nothing:

Neither are the living and the dead alike. Surely Allah makes whom He pleases hear, and you cannot make those hear WHO ARE IN THE GRAVES. S. 35:22 Shakir – cf. Q. 27:80; 30:52

Here is how Muhammad’s childbride explained these passages:

Narrated Hisham's father:
It was mentioned before 'Aisha that Ibn 'Umar attributed the following statement to the Prophet: "The dead person is punished in the grave because of the crying and lamentation Of his family." On that, 'Aisha said, "But Allah's Apostle said, 'The dead person is punished for his crimes and sins while his family cry over him then.’" She added, "And this is similar to the statement of Allah's Apostle when he stood by the (edge of the) well which contained the corpses of the pagans killed at Badr, 'They hear what I say.'” She added, "But he said now they know very well what I used to tell them was the truth." 'Aisha then recited: 'You cannot make the dead hear.' (30.52) and 'You cannot make those who are in their Graves, hear you.' (35.22) that is, when they had taken their places in the (Hell) Fire. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 316)


Hisham narrated on the authority of his father that it was mentioned to 'A'isha that Ibn 'Umar had narrated as marfu' hadith from the Apostle of Allah that the dead would be punished in the grave because of the lamentation of his family for him. Upon this she said: He (Ibn 'Umar) missed (the point). The Messenger of Allah had (in fact) said: He (the dead) is punished for his faults or for his sins, and the members of his family are wailing for him now. (This misunderstanding of Ibn 'Umar is similar to his saying:) The Messenger of Allah stood by the well in which were lying the dead bodies of those polytheists who had been killed on the Day of Badr, and he said to them what he had to say, i. e.: They hear what I say. But he (Ibn 'Umar) misunderstood. The Holy Prophet had only said: They (the dead) understand THAT WHAT I USED TO SAY TO THEM was truth. She then recited: "Certainly, thou canst not make the dead hear the call" (xxvii. 80), nor can you make those hear who are in the graves, nor can you inform them when they have taken their seats in Hell. (Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 2027)

Thus, since Muhammad is dead he cannot hear anyone’s invocation or plea for intercession.

This also explains why Abu Bakr went around telling those who were worshiping Muhammad that their prophet is dead whereas Allah is ever-living:

Narrated 'Aisha (the wife of the Prophet):

Allah's Apostle died while Abu Bakr was at a place called As-Sunah (Al-‘Aliya). ‘Umar stood up and said, “By Allah! Allah's Apostle is not dead!” ‘Umar (later on) said, “By Allah! Nothing occurred to my mind except that.” He said, “Verily! Allah will resurrect him and he will cut the hands and legs of some men.” Then Abu Bakr came and uncovered the face of Allah’s Apostle, kissed him and said, “Let my mother and father be sacrificed for you (O Allah's Apostle), you are good in life and in death. By Allah in Whose Hands my life is, Allah will never make you taste death twice.” Then he went out and said, “O oath-taker! Don't be hasty.” When Abu Bakr spoke, ‘Umar sat down. Abu Bakr praised and glorified Allah and said, “No doubt! Whoever worshipped Muhammad, then Muhammad IS DEAD, but whoever worshipped Allah, then Allah is Alive and shall never die.” Then he recited Allah’s Statement.:-- “(O Muhammad) Verily you will die, and they also will die.” (39.30) He also recited:--

“Muhammad is no more than an Apostle; and indeed many Apostles have passed away before him. If he dies or is killed, will you then turn back on your heels? And he who turns back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah. And Allah will give reward to those who are grateful.” (3.144) (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 57, Number 19)

Abu Bakr’s point is clear to anyone remotely familiar with the teachings of the Quran. It is foolish to worship and put one’s hope or trust in the dead who cannot harm or benefit anyone as opposed to worshiping Allah who never dies and hears all things.

What this basically means is that Muslims are forbidden from making du’a to their prophet for at least two reasons. First, Muhammad is dead and cannot hear or respond to anyone’s requests. Secondly, and more importantly, making du’a or calling upon someone is the very heart of worship. To, therefore, call upon Muhammad (especially now that he is dead) is a clear act of shirk, or of associating a creature with Allah, which is actually the one transgression that the Muslim deity will never forgive (cf. Q. 4:48, 116).

This concludes the first part of our analysis. It is time to move on to Part 2.