Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Revealing Allah’s Partner in Praise and Honor Pt. 3

Sam Shamoun

We now arrive at the final part of our discussion.

The following is another text which seems to command all Muslims everywhere to revere and glorify Muhammad:

Surely We have sent thee as a witness, good tidings to bear, and warning, that you may believe in God and His Messenger AND SUCCOUR Him (watuazziroohu), and reverence Him, and that you may give Him glory at the dawn and in the evening. S. 48:8-9 Arberry

In order that you (O people!) may believe in Allah and His Messenger and that you may help and honor Him, and celebrate His Praises morning and evening. Syed Vickar Ahamed 

If the readers pay close attention they will see that the nearest antecedent to all of the pronouns is not Allah but Muhammad. This means that Allah is commanding his followers to not only help Muhammad, but to also honor him by praising him day and night!

Muslims will obviously want to deny this to be the case. However, since the grammatical structure of the text does not allow for a differentiation between the one being helped with the one who is to be revered and glorified, this means that it is one and the same person who is to be succoured, honored and praised. As such, this is either referring to Allah, which means that Allah is asking his servants for help, or it is speaking of Muhammad, which means that he is to be revered and glorified day and night! In either case, Muslims are faced with major problems since it is blasphemy to say that Allah needs his creatures to succour or help him, and it is outright idolatry and shirk to have believers honor and glorify Muhammad!  

The following late Christian scholar and author makes virtually the same point since he also clearly saw the problem with this text:

“This sentence is disrupted because of a sudden shift from addressing Muhammad to addressing other people. Apart from this, the accusative pronoun in ‘succour Him, and reverence Him’ refers, beyond doubt, to Muhammad, who was mentioned earlier, not to God as the English translator understood it. But ‘give Him glory’ refers to God. The entire verse is chaotic. The reader cannot be expected to understand its true meaning from the arrangement of words. It is kufr (‘unbelief’) to say ‘succour Him, and reverence Him, and that you may give Him glory at the dawn and in the evening’ about Muhammad, since glory should be given to God alone. It is also kufr to make such a statement with reference to God, since God almighty is not in need for succour or help! (‘Abdallah ‘Abd al-Fadi, Is the Qur'an Infallible? [Light of Life, PO Box 13, A-9503 Villach, Austria], pp. 182-183; bold emphasis ours)

However, the most natural reading of the text as a result of its formulation is to take Muhammad as the object of all of the verbs.

In fact, Sunni Muslim scholar G.F. Haddad acknowledges that the pronouns do refer to Muhammad and that some, if not many, Muslims had no hesitation admitting this:

That ye (mankind) may believe in Allah and His messenger, and may honor h/Him, and may revere h/Him, and may glorify h/Him at early dawn and at the close of day" (48:9). Al-Nawawi said that the scholars of Qur'anic commentary have given this verse two lines of explanation, one group giving the three personal pronouns "HIM" a single referent, namely, either Allah ("Him") OR THE PROPHET ("him"); the other group distinguishing between two referents, namely, the Prophet (SAWS) for the first two ("honor and revere him"), and Allah for the last ("glorify Him"). Those of the first group that said the pronouns ALL REFER TO THE PROPHET explained "glorify him" (tusabbihuhu) here to mean: "declare him devoid of inappropriate attributes and pray for him." (The Prophetic Title "Best of Creation"; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Yet this means that Muslims are being commanded to revere and praise/glorify their prophet, even though these are acts of worship which are to be rendered to Allah alone!

But that’s not all. The Muslim sources teach that Allah himself is engaged in praising his prophet, something that he actually does before his heavenly host!

The Command to say Salah upon the Prophet

Al-Bukhari said: “Abu Al-`Aliyah said: ‘Allah's Salah is HIS PRAISING HIM BEFORE THE ANGELS, and the Salah of the angels is their supplication.’” Ibn `Abbas said: “They send blessings.” Abu `Isa At-Tirmidhi said: “This was narrated from Sufyan Ath-Thawri and other scholars, who said: ‘The Salah of the Lord is mercy, and the Salah of the angels is their seeking forgiveness.’” There are Mutawatir Hadiths narrated from the Messenger of Allah commanding us to send blessings on him and how we should say Salah upon him. We will mention as many of them as we can, if Allah wills, and Allah is the One Whose help we seek… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 33:56; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Hence, seeing how even Allah busies himself with praising Muhammad before his angels, why would it therefore shock or surprise us that he would order his followers to praise and glorify him as well?

It is clear from our examination that Allah has deliberately chosen to make Muhammad an object of reverence, since it is his intention to grant Muhammad a share in his own praise and glory. This in turn means that Allah has deliberately committed idolatry and shirk since he has not only taken Muhammad to be his associate in praise and honor, but he has even gone as far as to turn his own followers into blatant idolaters by ordering them to worship and glorify a creature in some of the same ways that they are supposed to honor their own deity!

Now just in case Muslims want to deny that their lord is guilty of idolatry for making Muhammad his partner in divine praise and honor, we will let the following Muslim scholar set them straight:

“An understanding of the word ilah, therefore, is crucial in order for this phrase to properly understood.

“Ibn ‘Abbas stated that it means, ‘…one whom everything turns to, and whom everyone worships.’113 The famous commentator on the words of the Qur’an, al-Raghib al-Asbahani (d. 425) stated: ‘Ilah is a name given to every object that is worshipped.’114 The famous lexicographer of the Arabic language, Ibn Manur (d. 711), defined it as, ‘…any object that is taken as an object of worship,’115 and al-Fayruzabadi said: ‘Every object that is worshipped is an ilah for the one that worships it.’116 Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728 A.H.) wrote: ‘The meaning of ilah is not “One who has the capability to create”, as many philosophical groups presume. For they believe that godship (ilhaiyyah) is the ability to create, and that whoever affirms that Allah is the One Who creates, without any creator, has testified to La ilaha illa Allah. But indeed, the mushrikun used to testify to this as well, and they were still considered mushrikun. So the true ilah is the one that is worthy of worship…and tawhid implies worshipping Allah alone, without any partners. And shirk is to make with Allah other objects of worship.’117

“So we find that these scholars all defined ilah as an object of worship, and none of them mentioned that an ilah must be a creator, or an all-powerful entity. In fact, none of the scholars of tawhid, or of the Arabic language, ever stated that an ilah was a lord or creator in the eyes of the one who believed in it.

“The significance of this simple fact is indeed profound. When a Muslim negates the existence of an ilah besides Allah, he or she is actually negating that any other object will be worshipped besides Allah. One who bears witness to the shahadah will negate that there is any other purpose in his or her life except to achieve Allah’s pleasure. This implies that all desires that go against the commands of Allah must be rejected. 

“It is, therefore, incorrect to translate this testimony as ‘There is no Creator (or Lord) except for Allah.’ Had this been the understanding, the Jahiliyyah Arabs would have accepted it and followed the Prophet, for they too believed that there was no Lord and Supreme Master except Allah. But they understood the precise meaning of ilah as an object that is worshipped, and realised that, if they bore testimony to this phrase, they would have to give up their idolatry, and change their way of life. Due to this realisation, they rejected the Prophet’s message.” (An Explanation of Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul Wahhab’s Kashf al-Shubuhat – Critical Study of Shirk, translation and commentary by Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi [Al-Hidaayah Publishing & Distribution, Birmingham, UK], 13. An Explanation of Kashf al-Shubuhat, The Clearing of Doubts, pp. 93-94)

113 Tafsir al-Tabari, 1/54.

114 Al-Mufradat, p. 21

115 Lisan al-Arab (1/188).

116 Al-Qamus, p. 1603.

117 Majmu’ al-Fatawa, 3/101. (Ibid., p. 93)

And here is what Qadhi has to say to those Muslims who would forcefully deny that their veneration of someone other than, or alongside with, Allah is shirk:

“So these Muslims deny that their actions fall under worship, thus trying to escape from the charge of shirk that they deserve. However, the ruling on an act or concept IS NOT DEPENDENT ON WHAT PEOPLE CALL IT, IT IS DEPENDENT ON THE REALITY AND ESSENCE OF IT. If someone were to call riba (interest) ‘benefit’, it would not change the reality of the fact that it is interest. Likewise, if someone were to call alcoholic drinks ‘spirits’ or ‘refreshments’ it does not change the fact that these drinks are alcoholic, and thus prohibited in Islam. If one understands this rule, he will see that these acts, of calling out to dieties, and asking for supernatural help, and seeking a means of pleasing them, all fall under the Islamic concept of ‘ibadah. It does not matter whether people refer to them as acts of ‘ibadah or not; the ruling is based on the reality of the matter, not its name.

“The point is that the Jahiliyyah Arabs realised what they were doing, and admitted it. They openly called their acts directed towards their idols acts of worship. So they were more frank and honest in this regard than the ignorant Muslims who try to change the reality of what they are doing by merely attaching a different label to it.” (An Explanation of Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul Wahhab’s Four Principles of Shirk: Taken from the works of ‘Abdullah ibn Jibrin, Salih Al al-Shaykh and others, translation and commentary by Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi [Al-Hidaayah Publishing and Distribution, Birmingham, UK 2002], pp. 47-48; bold emphasis ours)

We couldn’t have stated it any better. It doesn’t matter whether Muslims call their veneration of Muhammad worship, since the reality of the situation is that this is precisely what they are doing with the express approval of their own lord!

Therefore, it is time for Muslims to put away this false idol for the One who is truly worthy of all praise and worship. Please click on this link to see who that particular individual happens to be.

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