Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

An Analysis of the Bassam Zawadi versus Thabiti Anyabwile Dialogue pt. 1

Sam Shamoun

Just recently Muslim propagandist Bassam Zawadi posted a link to the discussion he had with Christian Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile concerning the topic, “Who is God and How Are We Saved?,” which took place on March 2, 2009.

In his opening statements Zawadi tried to convince his audience that his salafi (per)version of the conception of Allah’s unity and salvation were based on the actual teachings of his very own religious sources. He gave the misleading impression that he was presenting the actual historic and orthodox position of the earliest Muslims such as Muhammad and his companions.

In these series of rebuttals we are going to challenge that assertion and demonstrate that Islam does not support the views that Zawadi maintains as a salafi anthropomorphist.

Zawadi began his talk by elaborating on the three sub-categories of tauhid or Islamic monotheism. He started with with tauhid al-rububiyyah:

1. Allah is one in lordship. Muslims must believe that Allah is the sole lord who is in control of all things. He is the ultimate being who sustains and nourishes all things, and there is no one else who shares that kind of authority alongside with him.

Despite the emphasis of the Quran concerning Allah having sole rule and authority:

It is He who created the heavens and the earth in truth; and the day He says 'Be', and it is; His saying is true, and His is the Kingdom the day the Trumpet is blown; He is Knower of the Unseen and the visible; He is the All-wise, the All-aware. S. 6:73

Say: “Allah knows best how long they stayed. With Him is (the knowledge of) the unseen of the heavens and the earth. How clearly He sees, and hears (everything)! They have no Wali (Helper, Disposer of affairs, Protector, etc.) other than Him, and He makes NONE to share in His Decision and His Rule.” S. 18:26 Hilali-Khan

Blessed be He who has sent down the Salvation upon His servant, that he may be a warner to all beings; to whom belongs the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth; and He has not taken to Him a son, and He has no associate in the Kingdom; and He created every thing, then He ordained it very exactly. S. 25:2

The Muslim scripture is equally clear that Muhammad shares in Allah’s unique rule and authority.

For instance, Muslims are required to fully submit to Muhammad and completely accept his decrees:

But no! by your Lord! they do not believe (in reality) until they make you a judge of that which has become a matter of disagreement among them, and then do not find any straitness in their hearts as to what YOU have decided and submit with entire submission. S. 4:65 Shakir

Here is how the following Sufi Muslim scholar interprets this injunction:

When the best generation of humankind ever to walk the earth realized that the Lord of the Heaven was addressing them directly with His timeless Speech in the language which they had mastered better than any human nation ever mastered a language, they realized that not only had Allah Almighty deputized the worthiest of them as the carrier of the final Message to humanity, but He had also made belief in that most honorable, most distinguished, and most accomplished Messenger - our liege-lord Muhammad - an integral condition of belief in Allah Himself by saying repeatedly "Believe in Allah AND the Messenger."

They also heard Allah again and again command them to "Obey Allah AND the Messenger." They also realized that Allah Almighty stressed to them that this Messenger was their paramount model of behavior and of belief in Allah and the Last Day. They also heard and understood it meant they had to follow him and love him before they could claim to follow and love Allah.

They further understood the required levels of following the Prophet properly and truly on which one's actual belief in Allah Most High depended: {But nay, by your Lord! they will not believe (in truth) until they make you judge of what is in dispute between them}. But to make the Prophet judge is not enough, this must be done without any mental reservation toward the Prophet and his decision: {and find within themselves no dislike of that which you decide}. Even this unalloyed acceptance of the Prophet's judgment is not enough, there must be full embrace of the heart, mind and soul for the Prophet: {and submit with full submission} (4:65)! (Gibril Fouad Haddad, The Story of Hadith - On Obeying, Following, Imitating, And Loving Prophet Muhammad; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Moreover, according to some of the Islamic expositors Allah will actually have Muhammad sit on his very own throne! One Muslim scholar named Ibn Batta stated in his book al-Sharh wa al-Ibana ‘ala Usul al-Sunna wa al-Diyana (“Elaboration of the Principles of Sunni Doctrine”), p. 61, that:

The Prophet shall be seated on the Throne with his Lord (yujlas ma‘a rabbihi ‘alâ al-‘arsh), and this privilege belongs to no one else. Thus did Nafi‘ narrate it from Ibn ‘Umar from the Prophet concerning the verse: “It may be that thy Lord will raise you to an Exalted Station” – he said that He shall seat him with Him on the Throne. Thus also did Mujahid explain it, as narrated by Muhammad ibn Fudayl, from al-Layth, from Mujahid. (Underline emphasis ours)

The noted Muslim scholar and historian al-Tabari accepts this as a plausible explanation of Q. 17:79 which says,

And in some parts of the night (also) offer the Salat (prayer) with it (i.e. recite the Qur'an in the prayer), as an additional prayer (Tahajjud optional prayer Nawafil) for you (O Muhammad). It may be that your Lord will raise you to Maqaman Mahmuda (a station of praise and glory, i.e. the highest degree in Paradise!). Hilali-Khan

Al-Tabari writes that,

“Even though the traditions we have mentioned on the authority of the Prophet and his Companions and the Followers indicate the correct interpretation of maqaman mahmudan in Qur. 17:79 (as referring to Muhammad’s role as intercessor on the Day of Resurrection), Mujahid’s statement that God will seat Muhammad on His Throne remains one whose soundness CANNOT BE REJECTED either on the basis of traditions (khabar) or on the basis of speculation (nazar). This is so because there is no tradition from the Messenger of God or anyone of his Companions or the Followers that declares it to be impossible… From what we have said, it has become clear that, it is not impossible for an adherent of Islam to say what Mujahid had said, namely, that God will seat Muhammad on His Throne. If someone says: We do not disapprove of God’s seating Muhammad on His Throne (in view of the following tradition transmitted by) ‘Abbas b. ‘Abd al-‘Azim – Yahya b. Kathir – al-Jurayri – Sayf al-Sadusi – ‘Abdallah b. Salam: ‘On the Day of Resurrection, Muhammad will be on the Lord’s footstool (kursi),’ but we disapprove of God’s seating him together with Him, it should be said: Is it then permissible in your opinion that He seat him on it but not together with him? If he permits this, he is led to affirming that either he is together with Him, or God seats him (on the Throne) while being Himself either separate from it or neither contiguous with nor separate from it. Whatever alternative he chooses, he thereby enters into something that he disapproves. If he says that it is not permissible, he deviates from the statements of all the groups we have reported. This means diverging from the views of all adherents of Islam, since there is no other possible statement than those three, according to each of which Mujahid’s statement in this sense is not impossible.” (The History of Al-Tabari – General Introduction and From Creation to the Flood, translated by Franz Rosenthal [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany 1989], Volume I, Appendix A. A Partial Translation of Tafsir on Qur. 17:79 (Above, pp. 75 f.), pp. 149. 151; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Since the throne represents Allah’s sovereignty over all creation:

God! There is no god but He, - the Living, the Self-subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who is there can intercede in His presence except as He permitteth? He knoweth what (appeareth to His creatures as) before or after or behind them. Nor shall they compass aught of His knowledge except as He willeth. His Throne doth extend over the heavens and the earth, and He feeleth no fatigue in guarding and preserving them for He is the Most High, the Supreme (in glory). S. 2:255 Y. Ali

Lo! your Lord is Allah Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days, then He established Himself upon the Throne, directing all things. There is no intercessor (with Him) save after His permission. That is Allah, your Lord, so worship Him. Oh, will ye not remind? S. 10:3 Pickthall

This means that Muhammad shares in the authority and rule over creation, and is therefore another lord besides Allah.

Thus, Islam is the religion of submitting to both Allah and Muhammad equally, which means that Muhammad is Allah’s co-equal partner.

This is precisely why Muslims are required to mention Muhammad’s name alongside that of Allah’s every time they testify of their faith:

(And exalted thy fame) and raised your voice with the call to prayer, supplication and testification of faith, such that you are mentioned just as I am? And the Prophet said: “Yes, indeed!” (Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas; underline emphasis ours)


Did We not exalt your mention? For you are mentioned where I [God] am mentioned in the call announcing [the time for] prayer (adhān), in the [second] call to perform the prayer (iqāma), in the witnessing ['there is no god but God, Muhammad is His Messenger'] (tashahhud), in the Friday sermon and in other instances. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; underline emphasis ours)

Allah also made sure to conjoin Muhammad to himself by using the Arabic conjunction wa which is only used in respect to partnership:

Qatada said, “Allah exalted his fame in this world and the Next. There is no speaker, witness nor anyone doing the prayer who fails to say, ‘There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.’”

Abu Sa'id al-Khudri related that the Prophet said, "Jibril came to me and said, ‘My Lord and your Lord says, “Do you know how I have exalted your fame?”’ I said, ‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’ He said, ‘When I am mentioned you are mentioned with Me.’”

Ibn ‘Ata quoted a hadith qudsi saying, “I completed belief with your being mentioned with Me.” And another one which says, “I have made your mention part of My mention so whoever mentions Me, mentions you.”

Ja'far ibn Muhammad as-Sadiq, “No one mentions you as the Messenger but that he mentions Me as the Lord.”

The fact that mention of the Prophet is directly connected to mention of Allah also shows that obedience to the Prophet is connected to obedience to Allah and his name to Allah's name. Allah says, "Obey Allah and His Messenger" (2:32) and "Believe in Allah and His Messenger." (4:136) Allah joins them together using the conjunction wa WHICH IS THE CONJUNCTION OF PARTNERSHIP. IT IS NOT PERMITTED TO USE THIS CONJUNCTION IN CONNECTION WITH ALLAH IN THE CASE OF ANYONE EXCEPT THE PROPHET…

Al-Khattabi said, “The Prophet has guided you to correct behaviour in putting the will of Allah before the will of others. He chose ‘then’ (thumma) which implies sequence and deference as opposed to ‘and’ (wa) WHICH IMPLIES PARTNERSHIP.” …

Abu Sulayman said, “He disliked the two names being joined together in that way BECAUSE IT IMPLIES EQUALITY.” … (Qadi ‘Iyad Ibn Musa al-Yahsubi, Muhammad Messenger of Allah – Ash-Shifa of Qadi ‘Iyad (Kitab Ash-shifa bi ta'rif huquq al-Mustafa [Healing by the recognition of the Rights of the Chosen One]), translated by Aisha Abdarrahman Bewley [Madinah Press, Inverness, Scotland, U.K., third reprint 1991, paperback], Part One. Allah’s great estimation of the worth of his Prophet expressed in both word and action, Chapter One. Allah’s praise of him and his great esteem for him, Section 1. Concerning praise of him and his numerous excellent qualities, pp. 7-8; capital and underline emphasis ours)


“… He coupled his name with His own name, and his pleasure with His pleasure. He made him ONE OF THE TWO PILLARS of tawhid.” (Ibid., Section 9. Concerning the marks of honour given to the Prophet in Sura al-Fath, p. 27; capital and underline emphasis ours)


Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Written on the door of the Garden is: I am Allah. There is no god but Me. Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. I will not punish anyone who says that.” (Ibid., Chapter Three. On the sound and well-known traditions related about the immense value placed on him by his lord, his exalted position and his nobility in this world and the next, Section 1. What has come concerning his place with his lord, the mighty and majestic, his being chosen, his high renown, his being preferred, his mastery over the children of Adam, the prerogative of the ranks he was given in this world and the blessing of his excellent name, p. 90; underline emphasis ours)

Here is what happened to a person who refused to fully submit to the decisions of Islam’s other lord:

One Does not Become a Believer Unless He Refers to the Messenger for Judgment AND SUBMITS TO HIS DECISIONS

Allah said…

<But no, by your Lord, they can have no faith, until they make you judge in all disputes between them,> Allah swears by His Glorious, Most Honorable Self, that no one shall attain faith until he refers to the Messenger for judgment IN ALL MATTERS. Thereafter, whatever the Messenger commands, is the plain truth that must be submitted to inwardly and outwardly. Allah said…

<and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission.> meaning: they adhere to your judgment, and thus do not feel any hesitation over your decision, and they submit to it inwardly and outwardly. They submit to the Prophet's decision with total submission without any rejection, denial or dispute. Al-Bukhari recorded that `Urwah said, "Az-Zubayr quarreled with a man about a stream which both of them used for irrigation. Allah's Messenger said to Az-Zubayr…

<<O Zubayr! Irrigate (your garden) first, and then let the water flow to your neighbor.>> The Ansari became angry and said, `O Allah's Messenger! Is it because he is your cousin?' On that, the face of Allah's Messenger changed color (because of anger) and said…

<<Irrigate (your garden), O Zubayr, and then withhold the water until it reaches the walls (surrounding the palms). Then, release the water to your neighbor.>> So, Allah's Messenger gave Az-Zubayr his full right when the Ansari made him angry. Before that, Allah's Messenger had given a generous judgment, beneficial for Az-Zubayr and the Ansari. Az-Zubayr said, `I think the following verse was revealed concerning that case…

<But no, by your Lord, they can have no faith, until they make you (O Muhammad) judge in all disputes between them.>’” Another reason in his Tafsir, Al-Hafiz Abu Ishaq Ibrahim bin `Abdur-Rahman bin Ibrahim bin Duhaym recorded that Damrah narrated that two men took their dispute to the Prophet, and he gave a judgment to the benefit of whoever among them had the right. The person who lost the dispute said, “I do not agree.” The other person asked him, "What do you want then?” He said, “Let us go to Abu Bakr As-Siddiq.” They went to Abu Bakr and the person who won the dispute said, “We went to the Prophet with our dispute and he issued a decision in my favor.” Abu Bakr said, “Then the decision is that which the Messenger of Allah issued.” The person who lost the dispute still rejected the decision and said, “Let us go to `Umar bin Al-Khattab.” When they went to `Umar, the person who won the dispute said, “We took our dispute to the Prophet and he decided in my favor, but this man refused to submit to the decision.” `Umar bin Al-Khattab asked the second man and he concurred. `Umar went to his house and emerged from it holding aloft his sword. He struck the head of the man who rejected the Prophet's decision with the sword and killed him. Consequently, Allah revealed…

<But no, by your Lord, they can have no faith>. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir; capital and underline emphasis ours)

The other problem with tauhid al-rububiyyah is that it asserts that Allah is absolutely free of all wants and has no need of creation.

However, the Quran and the so-called authentic teachings of Muhammad teach that Allah does in fact depend on creation. 

For example, even though the Muslim scripture attests that Allah is rich and free of all needs:

Kind words and forgiving of faults are better than Sadaqah (charity) followed by injury. And Allah is Rich (Free of all wants) and He is Most-Forbearing. S. 2:263 Hilali-Khan

And whosoever strives, he strives only for himself. Verily, Allah is free of all wants from the 'Alamin (mankind, jinns, and all that exists). S. 29:60 Hilali-Khan

And indeed We bestowed upon Luqman Al-Hikmah (wisdom and religious understanding, etc.) saying: "Give thanks to Allah," and whoever gives thanks, he gives thanks for (the good of) his ownself. And whoever is unthankful, then verily, Allah is All-Rich (Free of all wants), Worthy of all praise. S. 31:12 Hilali-Khan

It goes on to contradict its own assertion by repeatedly exhorting Muslims to lend to Allah a loan which he will gladly repay in double if not more!

Who is he who will lend to Allah a goodly loan? So he will increase it manifold for him, and he will have a noble reward… Surely, the men who give alms and the women who give alms, and those who lend to Allah a goodly loan - it will be increased manifold for them, and theirs will also be a honourable reward - S. 57:11, 18

If you lend to Allah a goodly loan (i.e. spend in Allah's Cause) He will double it for you, and will forgive you. And Allah is Most Ready to appreciate and to reward, Most Forbearing, S. 64:17 Hilali-Khan – cf. 2:245; 73:20

Why would Allah need to exhort anyone to give him a loan when he is supposed to be the cherisher and sustainer who provides man with all his needs?

Moreover, Muhammad claimed that Allah deliberately created mankind sinful and in need of repentance since the Islamic deity wanted to show forgiveness!


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)

Muhammad’s statements assume that Allah needed to create sinful human beings in order to have a way of expressing his love, mercy, grace, compassion etc. (since forgiveness is an extension of these specific traits). Muhammad seemed to be aware that unless his god could express these attributes towards another object then he couldn’t truly be all-loving, all-merciful, full of compassion etc. And yet in order to resolve this dilemma Muhammad made his god dependent upon his creation, specifically on the existence of imperfect, fallible human beings!

Therefore, since the Muslim sources emphatically teach that Allah depends on his creation the Islamic deity cannot be self-sufficient. This provides further evidence that the authentic teachings of Islam do not uphold or affirm tauhid al-rububiyyah.  

So much for the assertion that Islam teaches that Allah is all-sufficient and the sole Lord of creation.

Zawadi then discussed tauhid al-ibaadah/uluhiyyah:

2. Allah is one in being worthy of worship. Now it’s possible that one may believe that Allah is the only true creator; but the same time he might believe that there is a being, whether natural or supernatural, who is also worthy of worship. Islam completely forbids this [sic] for this is considered shirk, or setting up partners alongside with Allah. It is not enough for a Muslim to simply believe that Allah is the only lord who is control of all things. Rather, he must also believe and acknowledge that worship must only be directed to God alone.

The Quran does say that acts of worship, such as prayers, bowing, invocations etc., should be offered only to Allah:

Say (O Muhammad): “Verily, my Salat (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for God, the Lord of the 'Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists).” S. 6:162

And invoke not besides God, 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

And of His signs are the night and the day, the sun and the moon. Bow/prostrate not yourselves to the sun and moon, but bow yourselves to God (waosjudoo lillahi) who created them, if Him you serve. S. 41:37

And who is more astray than one who calls (invokes) besides God, such as will not answer him till the Day of Resurrection, and who are (even) unaware of their calls (invocations) to them? … Say: ‘I am not an innovation among the Messengers, and I know not what shall be done with me or with you. I only follow what is revealed to me; I am only a clear warner.’ S. 46:5, 9

Rather prostrate yourselves before Allah (Faosjudoo lillahi) and serve Him. S. 53:62

And the mosques are for Allah (Alone), so invoke not anyone along with Allah. S. 72:18

The allegedly sound ahadith agree:

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)


Narrated An-Nu'man ibn Bashir:
The Prophet said: Supplication (du'a') is itself the worship.

(He then recited:) “And your Lord said: Call on Me, I will answer you” (xI.60). (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 8, Number 1474)


6- 931 - On the authority of Abu Tameemah al-Hajmeemee, on the authority a man from Blahjeem who said, ‘I asked: ‘O Messenger of Allaah! Who should I make Dua’ to?’

He said: ‘Call to Allaah Alone. If you were afflicted with harm and you supplicated to Him, He would relieve you of it. If you became lost in a desolate land and you supplicated to Him, He would return you to your place. If you were afflicted with drought and you supplicated to Him, He would produce vegetation.’

No. 420 (Ahadeeth Pertaining to Eemaan, Tawheed, Deen and Qadr, taken from Silsilah Ahadeeth As-Saheehah of Shaykh Al-Albaani, translated by Abbas Abu Yahya; bold and underline emphasis ours)

It further commands the faithful to fear Allah:

And believe in what I reveal, confirming the revelation which is with you, and be not the first to reject Faith therein, nor sell My Signs for a small price; and fear Me (fa ittaqooni). S. 2:41

However, the Quran also commands Muslims to fear others besides Allah:

Mankind, fear your Lord (ittaqoo rabbakumu), who created you of a single soul, and from it created its mate, and from the pair of them scattered abroad many men and women; and fear Allah (wa ittaqoo Allaha) by whom you demand one of another, AND the wombs (WA al-arhama); surely Allah ever watches over you. S. 4:1

It further cites cases where certain individuals prostrated themselves or bowed down to created beings:

And when We said to the angels, 'Prostrate/bow yourselves to Adam'; so they prostrated/bowed themselves (osjudoo li-adama fasajadoo), save Iblis; he was one of the jinn, and committed ungodliness against his Lord's command. What, and do you take him and his seed to be your friends, apart from Me, and they an enemy to you? How evil is that exchange for the evildoers! S. 18:50

Behold! Joseph said to his father: "O my father! I did see eleven stars and the sun and the moon: I saw them prostrate (sajideena) themselves to me!" S. 12:4

And he raised his parents upon the throne and they fell down in prostration (sujjadan) before him, and he said: O my father! this is the significance of my vision of old; my Lord has indeed made it to be true; and He was indeed kind to me when He brought me forth from the prison and brought you from the desert after the Shaitan had sown dissensions between me and my brothers, surely my Lord is benignant to whom He pleases; surely He is the Knowing, the Wise. S. 12:100

To make matters worse Muhammad himself taught his followers to address him directly in their daily prayers:

Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab from Urwa ibn az-Zubayr from Abd ar-Rahman ibn Abd al-Qari that he heard Umar ibn al-Khattab say, while he was teaching people the tashahhud from the mimbar, “Say, Greetings belong to Allah. Pure actions belong to Allah. Good words and prayers belong to Allah. Peace on YOU, Prophet, and the mercy of Allah and His blessings. Peace be upon us and on the slaves of Allah who are salihun. I testify that there is no god except Allah. And I testify that Muhammad is His slave and His messenger.”

'At-tahiyatu lillah, az-zakiyatu lillah, at-tayibatu wa's-salawatu lillah. As-salamu ALAYKA ayyuha'nnabiyyu wa rahmatu'llahi wa barakatuhu. As-salamu alayna wa ala ibadi'llahi s-salihin. Ash-hadu an la ilaha illa 'llah wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan abduhu wa rasuluh." (Malik’s Muwatta, Book 3, Number 3.14.56)

He also taught people that they could direct their prayer requests to both him and Allah:

Tirmidhi relates, through his chain of narrators from 'Uthman ibn Hunayf, that a blind man came to the Prophet and said, “I've been afflicted in my eyesight, so please pray to Allah for me.” The Prophet said: “Go make ablution (wudu), perform two rak'as of prayer, and then say:

Oh Allah, I ask You and turn to You through my Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of mercy; O MUHAMMAD (YA MUHAMMAD), I SEEK YOUR INTERCESSION with my Lord for the return of my eyesight [and in another version: for my need, that it may be fulfilled. O Allah, grant him intercession for me"].”

The Prophet added, “And if there is some need, do the same.” (Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, Reliance of the Traveller: The Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law (Umdat Al-Salik) in Arabic with facing English text, Commentary and Appendices, edited and translated by Nuh Hah Mim Keller [Amana Corporation; Revised edition, July 1, 1997], w40.3, p. 935; bold and capital emphasis ours)

A practice which Muslims continued to observe long after he was dead:

Moreover, Tabarani, in his “al-Mu'jam al saghir, reports a hadith from 'Uthman ibn Hunayf that a man repeatedly visited Uthman ibn Affan concerning something he needed, but Uthman paid no attention to him or his need. The man met Ibn Hunayf and complained to him about the matter - this being after the death (wisal) of the Prophet and after the caliphates of Abu Bakr and Umar - so Uthman ibn Hunayf, who was one of the Companions who collected hadiths and was learned in the religion of Allah, said: “Go to the place of ablution and perform ablution (wudu), then come to the mosque, perform two rak'as of prayer therein, and say:

‘O Allah, I ask You and turn to You through our Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of mercy; O MUHAMMAD (YA MUHAMMAD), I TURN THROUGH YOU to my Lord, that He may fulfill my need,’ and mention your need. Then come so that I can go with you [to the caliph Uthman].” So the man left and did as he had been told, then went to the door of Uthman ibn Affan, and the doorman came, took him by the hand, brought him to Uthman ibn Affan, and seated him next to him on a cushion. 'Uthman asked, “What do you need?” and the man mentioned what he wanted, and Uthman accomplished it for him, then he said, “I hadn't remembered your need until just now,” adding, “Whenever you need something, just mention it.” Then, the man departed, met Uthman ibn Hunayf, and said to him, “May Allah reward you! He didn't see to my need or pay any attention to me until you spoke with him.” Uthman ibn Hunayf replied, "By Allah, I didn't speak to him, but I have seen a blind man come to the Messenger of Allah and complain to him of the loss of his eyesight. The Prophet said, “Can you not bear it?' and the man replied, ‘O Messenger of Allah, I do not have anyone to lead me around, and it is a great hardship for me.’ The Prophet told him, 'Go to the place of ablution and perform ablution (wudu), then pray two rak'as of prayer and make the supplications.’” Ibn Hunayf went on, “By Allah, we didn't part company or speak long before the man returned to us as if nothing had ever been wrong with him.”

This is an explicit, unequivocal text from a prophetic Companion proving the legal validity of tawassul through the dead. The account has been classified AS RIGOROUSLY AUTHENTICATED (SAHIH) by Baihaqi, Mundhiri, and Haythami. (Ibid., w40.4, pp. 936-937; bold and capital emphasis ours)]

Here we have a rigorously authenticated or sahih report which claims that Muslims were praying to Muhammad before and after his death! There were other Muslim scholars that classified this tradition as sound:

It is related by Ahmad (4:138 #17246-17247), Tirmidhi (hasan sahih gharib -- Da`awat Ch. 119), Ibn Majah (Book of Iqamat al-salat wa al-sunnat, Ch. on Salat al-hajat #1385), Nasa'i (`Amal al-yawm wa al-laylat p. 417-418 #658-660), al-Hakim (1:313, 1:526), Tabarani in al-Kabir, and rigorously authenticated as sound (sahih) by nearly fifteen hadith masters including Ibn Hajar, Dhahabi, Shawkani, and Ibn Taymiyya

"Here now is the proof from the noble hadith. The following hadith was extracted by the following masters of hadith among the Imams: Ibn Khuzayma in his Sahih (the rank of which approximates that of Sahih Muslim), al-Nasa'i in his book `Amal al-yawm wa al-layla, al-Tirmidhi in his Jami` and he said of it hasan sahih gharib, that is, with respect to the fact that only Abu Ja`far `Umayr ibn Yazid al-Khutami al-Madani al-Basri narrates it, and he is thiqa (trustworthy) according to Nasa'i and Ibn Ma`in, therefore the fact that it is gharib does not jeopardize its rank of sahih. Ibn Majah also narrated it and confirmed Abu Ishaq [Ibn Rahawayh] who declared it sahih, and so did al-Hakim in his Mustadrak who said: "It is sound according to the criterion of Bukhari and Muslim," and Dhahabi confirmed him.

"From `Uthman ibn Hunayf: He was with the Prophet at the time a blind man came to him complaining of his lack of eyesight, etc. This is a sound hadith in which the Prophet explicitly orders those who have a certain need to make tawassul and call him in his absence -- both in his life and after his death. This is precisely what the Companions understood from him, as his order to any given person in the Community is directed to all the Community in every time as long as there is no proof that it is specific to an individual. What then if there is proof to the contrary -- i.e. that it is not specific to an individual? Tabarani related in his Mu`jam al-kabir and Mu`jam al-saghir that a man in need used to try to visit `Uthman ibn `Affan frequently, etc. Tabarani said the hadith was sound and Bayhaqi narrated it in Dala'il al-nubuwwa with a good chain."

Abu Sulayman Suhayl al-Zabibi

Imam of Masjid al-Najjarin

(Damascus, Syria) (Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, Encyclopedia of Islamic Doctrine, [As-Sunna Foundation of America (ASFA), January 1998], III. QUESTIONS ON TAWASSUL; underline emphasis ours)

Even the noted Muslim theologian and expositor Ibn Kathir quoted this same narrative in his book on the alleged miracles of Muhammad:

The story of the blind man who regained his sight with the Du‘a’ of the Prophet:

Imam al-Baihaqi related on the authority of ‘Uthman bin Hunaif who said: “I heard the Prophet when a blind man came to him and complained to him that he had lost his sight. The man said to the Prophet: ‘O Messenger of Allah! I do not have anyone to lead me (as I am a blind man) and it has become difficult for me to keep going.’ The Messenger of Allah then said: ‘Go and make Wudu’ (ablution) and pray two Rak‘as and say: “O Allah! I ask You and turn to you by the dignity of your Prophet Muhammad, the Messenger of Mercy. O Muhammad! I turn to my Lord, by your dignity (and honor), to return back my sight to me. O Allah! I ask You for his intercession (for me).”’” Uthman said: “By Allah, we did not leave our place, and we did not remain there for long, except that the man came in as if he had never suffered from any disease.” (Ibn Kathir, The Miracles of the Prophet, translated by Dr. Nancy Eweiss, edited by Selma Cook (Dar Al-Manarah for Translation, Publishing & Distribution, 1422 AH/ 2002 AC), D. The blind man was cured when he said Du‘a’ that was taught to him by the Prophet, p. 93 – see also pp. 199-200)

Therefore, Zawadi cannot simply dismiss this report on the grounds that it is a weak or inauthentic narration since some of his very own scholars have classified it as sahih and defended its veracity.

Besides, even if this hadith were unreliable Zawadi would still have to explain why Muslims were forging prayers to Muhammad when they (supposedly) knew that all such prayers must be offered only to Allah?

Certain Muslims tried to justify their worship of and prayers to Muhammad by claiming that he continues to deserve the same respect that he received when he was physically alive:

It is just as necessary to have esteem and respect for the Prophet after his death as it were when he was alive. This means to show it whenever the Prophet, his hadith or sunna are mentioned, when anyone hears his name or anything about his life or how his family and relatives behaved. It includes respect for the People of his House (ahl al-bayt) and his Companions…

Abu Humayd said, “Abu Ja'far, the Amir al-Mu'minin, had a dispute with Malik in the Prophet's mosque. Malik said to him, 'Amir al-Mu'minin, do not raise your voice in this mosque. Allah taught the people how to behave by saying, “Do not raise your voices above the Prophet” (49:2) He praises people with the words, “Those who lower their voices in the presence of the Messenger of Allah.” (49:3) He censures people, saying, “Those who call you...” Respect for him when he is dead is the same as respect for him when he was alive.”

“Abu Ja'far was humbled by this. He asked Malik, 'Abu Abdullah, do you face qibla when you supplicate or do you face the Messenger of Allah?' He replied, 'Why would you turn your face from him when he is YOUR MEANS and the means of your father, Adam, to Allah on the Day of Rising? I face him AND ASK HIM to intercede and Allah will grant his intercession. Allah says, “If, when you wronged yourselves, they had come to you.”’” (4:64) (Qadi Iyad, Kitab Ash-shifa bi ta'rif huquq al-Mustafa (Healing by the recognition of the Rights of the Chosen One), translated by Aisha Abdarrahman Bewley [Madinah Press, Inverness, Scotland, U.K., third reprint 1991, paperback], Part Two. Concerning the rights which the people owe the Prophet, Chapter Three: Exalting him and the necessity to respect and honour him, Section 3. Respect and esteem for the Prophet after his death, pp. 237-238; capital and underline emphasis ours)

The problem with such explanations is that Muhammad is dead and the Quran says that those who are in the graves cannot hear:

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

As Muhammad’s child bride Aisha stated:

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)

It gets worse. The Quran condemned the Meccan pagans for worshiping idols that could neither harm nor benefit them, even though they thought that these objects would act as their intercessors before Allah:

And they worship besides Allah things that hurt them not, nor profit them, and they say: “These are our intercessors with Allah.” Say: “Do you inform Allah of that which He knows not in the heavens and on the earth?” Glorified and Exalted be He above all that which they associate as partners with Him! S. 10:18

The Muslim scripture also narrates a story where Abraham rebukes his people for serving that which could neither benefit nor harm anyone:

And certainly We gave to Ibrahim his rectitude before, and We knew him fully well. When he said to his father and his people: What are these images to whose worship you cleave? They said: We found our fathers worshiping them. He said: Certainly you have been, (both) you and your fathers, in manifest error. They said: Have you brought to us the truth, or are you one of the triflers? He said: Nay! your Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, Who brought them into existence, and I am of those who bear witness to this: And, by Allah! I will certainly do something against your idols after you go away, turning back. So he broke them into pieces, except the chief of them, that haply they may return to it. They said: Who has done this to our gods? Most surely he is one of the unjust. They said: We heard a youth called Ibrahim speak of them. Said they: Then bring him before the eyes of the people, perhaps they may bear witness. They said: Have you done this to our gods, O Ibrahim? He said: Surely (some doer) has done it; the chief of them is this, therefore ask them, if they can speak. Then they turned to themselves and said: Surely you yourselves are the unjust; Then they were made to hang down their heads: Certainly you know that they do not speak. He said: What! do you then serve besides Allah what brings you not any benefit at all, nor does it harm you? Fie on you and on what you serve besides Allah; what! do you not then understand? They said: Burn him and help your gods, if you are going to do (anything). S. 21:51-66 Shakir

However, Muhammad venerated and kissed a black stone which baffled and confused some of his companions:

Narrated 'Abis bin Rabia:
'Umar came near the Black Stone and kissed it and said "No doubt, I know that you are a stone and can neither benefit anyone nor harm anyone. Had I not seen Allah's Apostle kissing you I would not have kissed you." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 26, Number 667)

Narrated Zaid bin Aslam from his father who said:
"Umar bin Al-Khattab addressed the Corner (Black Stone) saying, 'By Allah! I know that you are a stone and can neither benefit nor harm. Had I not seen the Prophet touching (and kissing) you, I would never have touched (and kissed) you.' Then he kissed it and said, 'There is no reason for us to do Ramal (in Tawaf) except that we wanted to show off before the pagans, and now Allah has destroyed them.' 'Umar added, '(Nevertheless), the Prophet did that and we do not want to leave it (i.e. Ramal).' (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 26, Number 675)

Umar’s statements are significant since they echo the words of the Quran, which censures the kissing of idols or stones that can neither harm nor benefit anyone.

What makes this all the more amazing, as well as troubling, is that Muhammad taught that the black stone would intercede for Muslims:

2944. Sa'd b. Jubair (Allah be pleased with him) is reported to have said, "I heard Ibn 'Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) saying that Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings Allah be upon him) said, "This Stone must come on the Day of Resurrection and it will have two eyes to see with and a tongue to talk with bearing witness for him who caressed it with Truth (Islam)." (Sunan Ibn-I-Majah (Imam Abu Abdullah Muhammad b. Yazid Ibn-I-Maja Al-Qazwini), English version by Muhammad Tufail Ansari [Kazi Publications, Lahore (Pakistan), 1st edition 1995], Volume IV, Chapter NO. XVII: Caressing The (Black) Stone (Fixed in a Wall of Ka’ba), pp. 244-245; bold and underline emphasis ours)

This is exactly what the pagans said concerning their stones and idols! Thus, Muhammad was guilty of doing the very same thing and using the same exact excuse that the disbelieving idolators did and said to justify their idolatry!

Zawadi went on to refer to tauhid al-asma wa-sifaat:

3. Allah is one in his attributes – Allah is all-merciful, Allah is all-just, Allah is all-knowing, Allah is all-exalted etc. The Muslims must believe that only Allah alone could be ascribed with such titles and no one else.

What Zawadi meant to say is that these specific names and attributes cannot be ascribed to any creature in their definite forms, i.e. a person can be called merciful but not THE Merciful with the definite article preceding or attached to the specific characteristic or quality.

The problem which Zawadi faces here is that the Quran ascribes some of the names of Allah to his creatures. For example, the Muslim scripture mentions that Allah’s names include al-aziz and al-qawi:

In Allah's help to victory. He helpeth to victory whom He will. He is the Mighty (al-azizu), the Merciful. S. 30:5

Say: Show me those whom ye have joined unto Him as partners. Nay (ye dare not)! For He is Allah, the Mighty (al-azizu), the Wise. S. 34:27

Allah is gracious unto His slaves. He provideth for whom He will. And He is the Strong (al-qawiyyu), the Mighty (al-azizu). S. 42:19 – cf. 22:40

However, the Quran says that the name of the man to whom Joseph was sold was al-aziz:

And women in the city said: “The wife of Al-'Aziz is seeking to seduce her (slave) young man, indeed she loves him violently; verily we see her in plain error.” S. 12:30

(The King) said (to the women): “What was your affair when you did seek to seduce Yusuf (Joseph)?” The women said: “Allah forbid! No evil know we against him!” The wife of Al-'Aziz said: “Now the truth is manifest (to all), it was I who sought to seduce him, and he is surely of the truthful.” S. 12:51

It even says that the prophet Moses was called al-qawi!

And said one of them (the two women): “O my father! Hire him! Verily, the best of men for you to hire is the strong (al-qawiyyu), the trustworthy.” He said [to Moses]: “I intend to wed one of these two daughters of mine to you, on condition that you serve me for eight years, but if you complete ten years, it will be (a favour) from you. But I intend not to place you under a difficulty. If Allah will, you will find me one of the righteous.” S. 28:26-27

Now Zawadi may interject here and say that Allah isn’t giving these names to these specific individuals, but is merely narrating what others called them. The Qur’an is simply reporting that the people of former times used these names for these individuals.

There are at least a couple of problems with this argument. First, al-aziz is called Potiphar in the Holy Bible, so it is indeed the author of the Qur’an who introduced this “forbidden name” for this person. Where else was he ever called this? The Muslim has no evidence that this was his actual name.

Second, the people in these stories didn’t speak Quraish Arabic, the language of the Quran, so there was no need to use the definite forms of these specific words in quoting what they said. In fact the author(s) could have simply used qawi or aziz without the definite article, much like s/he/they did for Allah himself!

And if ye slide back after the clear proofs have come unto you, then know that Allah is Mighty (azizun), Wise. S. 2:209

(Their way is) as the way of Pharaoh's folk and those before them; they disbelieved the revelations of Allah, and Allah took them in their sins. Lo! Allah is Strong (qawiyyun), severe in punishment. S. 8:52

And (as for the believers) hath attuned their hearts. If thou hadst spent all that is in the earth thou couldst not have attuned their hearts, but Allah hath attuned them. Lo! He is Mighty (azizun), Wise. S. 8:63

That was because their messengers kept bringing them clear proofs (of Allah's Sovereignty) but they disbelieved; so Allah seized them. Lo! He is Strong (qawiyyun), severe in punishment. S. 40:22

Allah hath decreed: Lo! I verily shall conquer, I and My messengers. Lo! Allah is Strong (qawiyyun), Almighty (azizun). S. 58:21 – cf. 57:25

Had s/he/they done so he/she/they would have avoided this entire problem.

What the foregoing shows is that Zawadi must either accept that the author(s) of the Quran was(were) guilty of shirk for ascribing Allah’s names to persons other than Allah, thereby associating partners with the one true God. Or, he must come to terms with the fact that this concept of tauhid is not a Quranic teaching, but a man-made tradition of certain Muslim scholars which goes against what their very own religious scripture actually says concerning Allah’s names.

This concludes part one. We now move on to part two.