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How the Incident of the “Satanic Verses” Exposes Muhammad as an Accursed False Prophet Pt. 1

According to Islam’s earliest and most reliable sources the following Quranic passage,

Have ye seen Lat and ‘Uzza, And another, the third (goddess), Manat? What! for you the male sex, and for Him, the female? Behold, such would be indeed a division most unfair! These are nothing but names which ye have devised, – ye and your fathers, – for which God has sent down no authority (whatever). They follow nothing but conjecture and what their own souls desire! – Even though there has already come to them Guidance from their Lord! S. 53:19-23 A. Yusuf Ali

Originally contained statements of Muhammad lauding these false goddesses, whom the pagans worshiped as the banat Allah (“daughters of Allah”):

“Mujahid said: He praised their gods and mentioned them, and they were delighted.” (Abu Ishaq al-Tha’labi, al-Kashf wa al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Quran, Tafsir of Q. 17:73)

Muhammad later changed his mind and condemned his tribesman for worshiping these deities, claiming that he had been initially deceived and inspired by Satan into thinking that his god had commanded him to glorify these idols.

These next reports provide additional details:

And We did not send before you any messenger rasūl — this is a prophet who has been commanded to deliver a Message — or prophet nabī — one who has not been commanded to deliver anything — but that when he recited the scripture Satan cast into his recitation what is not from the Qur’ān but which those to whom he the prophet had been sent would find pleasing. The Prophet s had during an assembly of the men of Quraysh after reciting the following verses from sūrat al-Najm Have you considered Lāt and ‘Uzzā? And Manāt the third one? 5319-20 added as a result of Satan casting them onto his tongue without his the Prophet’s being aware of it the following words ‘those are the high-flying cranes al-gharānīq al-‘ulā and indeed their intercession is to be hoped for’ and so they the men of Quraysh were thereby delighted. Gabriel however later informed him the Prophet of this that Satan had cast onto his tongue and he was grieved by it; but was subsequently comforted with this following verse that he might be reassured of God’s pleasure thereat God abrogates nullifies whatever Satan had cast then God confirms His revelations. And God is Knower of Satan’s casting of that which has been mentioned Wise in His enabling him Satan to do such things for He does whatever He will. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Q. 22:52; bold and underline emphasis ours)

(Never sent We a messenger or a prophet before thee…) [22:52]. The commentators of the Qur’an said: “When the Messenger of Allah saw that his people were shunning him, he was aggrieved by their rejection of the message he brought them and he secretly wished that Allah, exalted is He, reveals something to him which would bring him and his people closer to each other, keen as he was to see them accept faith. One day, he sat in one of the congregations of Quraysh which attracted a huge number of its members, and he wished that Allah, exalted is He, does not reveal to him on that day anything that might repel them from him. Allah, exalted is He, revealed to him then Surah al-Najm (By the star when it stetteth…) [Surah 53]. The Messenger of Allah recited it but when he reached (Have ye thought upon al-Lat and al-‘Uzza, and Manat, the third, the other) [53:19-20], the devil put on his tongue what he had SECRETLY WISHED AND HOPED FOR and said: ‘These are the mighty cranes (gharaniq) and their intercession is hoped for’. When the Quraysh heard this, they were very pleased. The Messenger of Allah carried on reciting until the end of the Surah and then prostrated. All the Muslims followed suit and prostrated, and all the idolaters who were present prostrated too. All those who were present, whether Muslim or disbeliever, prostrated except al-Walid ibn al-Mughirah and Abu Uhyahah Sa’id ibn al-‘As who were too advanced in age and could not prostrate, but they both grabbed a handful of dust and put their foreheads on it. The Quraysh then dispersed, happy with what they heard. They said: ‘Muhammad has mentioned our idols with complimentary terms. We know that Allah gives life and takes it away, He creates and provides sustenance, but these idols of ours will intercede for us with Him. Now that Muhammad HAS ASSOCIATED THEM, we are all with him’. That evening, Gabriel went to the Messenger of Allah and said: ‘What have you done? You recited to people that which I did not bring from Allah, glorified is He, and you said what I did not say to you’. (‘Alī ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi, Asbab al-Nuzul, Q. 22:52; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)

The Messenger of Allah felt very saddened and was greatly scared of Allah. And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse, upon which the Quraysh said: ‘Muhammad has regretted what he has mentioned regarding the status of our idols vis-à-vis Allah’. And they became even more antagonistic than before”. Abu Bakr al-Harithi informed us> Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Hayyan> Abu Yahya al-Razi> Sahl al-‘Askari> Yahya> ‘Uthman ibn al-Aswad> Sa’id ibn Jubayr who said: “The Messenger of Allah recited (Have ye thought upon al-Lat and al-‘Uzza, and Manat, the third, the other) upon which the devil projected on his tongue: ‘These are the mighty cranes and their intercession is hoped for’. The idolaters were pleased. They said: ‘He has mentioned our idols’. Then Gabriel came to the Messenger of Allah and said: ‘Read back to me the speech of Allah’. When he read it to him, Gabriel said: ‘As for this I did not bring; this is from the devil’. And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed (Never sent We a messenger or a prophet before thee but when He recited (the message) Satan proposed (opposition) in respect of that which he recited thereof. But Allah abolisheth that which Satan proposeth. Then Allah establisheth His revelations…)”.  (Ibid.; bold and capital emphasis ours)

When the Messenger of God was in Mecca, he recited [qara’a] to them: “By the star when it sets.” When he reached: “Have you considered al-Lat, al-‘Uzza and Manat, the third, the other?”, he said: “Indeed, their intercession is to be hoped for [inna shafa ‘ata-ha turtaja]” – the Messenger of God did this unmindfully [wa-saha rasul Allah].

The Mushrikun, “in whose hearts there was sickness [alladhina fi qulub-him marad],” met him and greeted him and were greatly pleased at it. He said to them: “But that was from Satan! [inna-ma dhalika min al-shaytan].” And God sent down: “And we have not sent before you a Messenger or a Prophet, but that when he tamanna, Satan (something) into his umniyyah, then God removes that which Satan cast.”

The above version appears in al-Tabari’s Tafsir, 17:189, with the following transmission: Yunus b. ‘Abd al-A’la al-Misri (170-264) – ‘Abd Allah b. Wahb al-Misri (125-197) – Yunus b. Yazid al-Ayli (d. 160) – Muhammad b. Shihab al-Zuhri (51-124) – Abu Bakr b. ‘Abd al-Rahman b. al-Harith (23-95).

It is also cited by Abu Ja’far al-Nahas al-Misri (d. 328) in al-Naskh wa al-mansukh (1:448-449 and 2:527-528) with the following chain: Al-Layth b. Sa’d al-Misri (94-175) – Yunus b. Yazid – al-Zuhri – Abu Bakr b. ‘Abd al-Rahman.

What makes the above narrative significant to our discussion is that it is deemed a sahih mursal report, i.e. a report in which the transmitters are reliable but which doesn’t go back to a companion of Muhammad, but to one of their followers. Al-Suyuti cited this from al-Tabari and also from ‘Abd b. Humayd al-Kissi/al-Kishshi/al-Kashshi al-Samarqandi (170s-249) (Al-Durr, 6:66), stating that they are mursal sahih al-isnad. The leading 9th century hadith scholar Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani also gave the same verdict (Fath al-bari fi Sahih al-Bukhari [Shirkat al-Taba’ah al-Fanniyyah al-Muttahidah, Cairo, Egypt], 18:40). Even the late renowned Salafi hadith scholar Al-Albani, Majaniq, 9, accepted this verdict, despite rejecting its historicity due to the fact that it is a mursal report.

And here is another version of the same event:

The Messenger of God recited [qara’a]: “Have you considered al-Lat, al-‘Uzza and Manat, the third, the other?” and Satan cast onto his tongue [fa-alqa al-shaytan ‘ala lisani-hi]: “Those (are the high) flying cranes: there intercession is to be hoped for! [tilka al-gharaniq al-‘ula wa shafa’atu-hunna turtaja].”

And the Mushrikun were greatly pleased by this and said: “He has mentioned our gods.”

So Gabriel came to him and said: “Recite to me [iqra’ ‘alayya] what I brought you!” And he recited: “Have you considered al-Lat, al-‘Uzza and Manat, the third, the other? Those (are the) high-flying cranes: their intercession is hoped for!” He (Gabriel) said: “I did not bring you this! This is from Satan [ma ataytu-ka bi-hadha hadha ‘an al-shaytan]”; or he said: “This is from Satan! I did not bring you these” [aw qala hadha min al-shaytan lam ati-ka bi-ha].

So God sent down: “We have not sent before you a Messenger or a Prophet but that when he tamanna, Satan cast something into his umniyyah,” to the end of the verse.

This narration is quoted from the Tafsir of Ibn Mardawayh (323-410 AH) in a later hadith collection, namely the Mukhtarah of al-Diya’ al-Maqdisi (537-634), with a chain going back to Ibn Abbas:

Ahmad b. Musa Ibn Mardawayh al-Isbahani – his father, Musa b. Mardawayh al-Isbahani (d. 360) – Ibrahim b. Muhammad b. Mattawayh al-Isbahani (d. 302) – Muhammad b. ‘Ali al-Muqri’ al-Baghdadi (d. 300) – Ja’far b. Muhammad al-Tayalisi al-Baghdadi (d. 282) – Ibrahim b. Muhammad b. ‘Ar’arah al-Basri al-Baghdadi (d. 231) – Abu ‘Asim al-Nabil al-Dahhak b. Makhlad al-Makki al-Basri (d. 212) – ‘Uthman b. al-Aswad al-Makki (d. 150) – Sa’id b. Jubayr – Ibn ‘Abbas. (Diya’ al-Din Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Wahid b. ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Hanbali al-Maqdisi, al-Ahadith al-mukhtarah aw al-mustakhraj min al-ahadith al-mukhtarah mim-ma lam yukhrij-hu al-Bukhari wa Muslim fi sahihay-hima, edited by ‘Abd al-Malik b. Abd Allah b. Duhaysh [Maktabat al-Nahdah al-Hadithah, Mecca], pp. 1990-1993). (1)

Al-Suyuti also cites this hadith both directly from Ibn Mardawayh, claiming that its chain is made up of reliable transmitters (sanad rijalu-hu thiqat; cf. al-Durr 6:65), and from al-Diya al-Maqdisi’s citation of Ibn Mardawayh. In fact, Ja’far b. Muhammad al-Tayalisi al-Baghdadi, Ibrahim b. Muhammad b. ‘Ar’arah al-Basri al-Baghdadi, Abu ‘Asim al-Nabil al-Dahhak b. Makhlad al-Makki al-Basri, and ‘Uthman b. al-Aswad al-Makki are considered to be impeachable as transmitters and seem to have been muhaddithun (hadith scholars). ‘Uthman b. al-Aswad was also known for studying under two prominent mufassirun (commentators), namely Mujahid b. Jabr and ‘Atiyyah b. Sa’d al-‘Awfi. Moreover, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani considered this particular transmission to be the most reliable of all the chains narrating the Satanic verses (cf. Takhrij ahadith al-Kashshaf, p. 114).

These next reports are even more significant since they not only provide further substantiation that Satan caused Muhammad to recite the Satanic verses but they also prove that Muhammad at one time did in fact worship these false goddesses. These narratives further call into question Muhammad’s entire salvation:

Then those who had gone (to Abyssinia) the first time returned before (the departure of) Ja’far b. Abi Talib and his companions. This is when God sent down the surah in which He states, “By the star when it sets.” The Mushrikun had said: “If only this man would speak favourably of our gods [yadhkuru alihata-na bi-khayr], we would secure him [aqrarna-hu] and his companions. He does not speak of any the Jews and Christians who oppose his religion with the abuse and invective [al-shatm wa al-sharr] with which he speaks of our gods.”

When God sent down the surah in which He mentions, “By the star,” he (the Prophet) recited [qara’a], “Have you considered al-Lat, al-‘Uzza and Manat, the third, the other?” At this point, Satan cast into it (Surat al-Najm) [alqa al-shaytanu fi-ha ‘inda dhalika] a mention of the evil ones [dhikr al-tawaghit], and he (the Prophet) said [fa-qala]: “Indeed, they are high-flying cranes! And, indeed, their intercession is to be hoped for! [inna-hunna la-min al-gharaniq al-‘ula wa inna shafa’ata-hum (sic) la turtaja]”; that was the rhyming prose [saj’] of Satan and was an instance of his sedition [min fitnati-hi].

Those two phrases became lodged in the heart of every Mushrik; their tongues were debased by them, they rejoiced at them [dhallat bi-ha alsinatu-hum wa istabsharu bi-ha] and said: “MUHAMMAD HAS RETURNED TO HIS ORIGINAL RELIGION AND THE RELIGION OF HIS TRIBE [qad raja’a Muhammad ila dini-hi al-awwal wa din qawmi-hi]”…

As for the Mushrikun, their minds were set at ease in regard to the Prophet and his Companions when they heard what Satan cast into the umniyyah of the Prophet [lamma sami‘u al-ladhi alqa al-shaytan fi umniyyat al-nabi]. Satan told them that the Messenger of God had recited them (the Satanic verses) when in sajdah, so they made the sajdah in veneration of their gods…

The Messenger of God was greatly distressed by this [wa kabura dhalika ‘ala rasul Allah]. In the evening, Gabriel came to him. He (the Prophet) complained to him [fa-shaka ilay-hi], so he (Gabriel) ordered him (to recite the surah) and he (the Prophet) recited to him [fa-qara’a ‘alay-hi]. When he (the Prophet) reached them (the Satanic verses) [fa-lamma balagha-ha] (OR: when he (Gabriel) heard [sami’a] (the Satanic verses)), Gabriel absolved himself of responsibility for them [tabarra’a min-ha] and said: “God protect me from these! My Lord did not send them down, nor your Lord command me with them! [ma’adh Allah min hatayni ma anzala-huma rabb-i wa la amara-ni bi-hima rabbu-ka].” When the Messenger of God saw this, he was greatly disturbed [shaqqa ‘alay-hi] and said: “I HAVE OBEYED SATAN AND SPOKEN HIS WORDS AND HE HAS BECOME A PARTNER IN GOD’S MATTER WITH ME [ata’tu al-shaytana wa takallamtu bi-kalami-hi wa sharika-ni fi amr Allah].”

So God removed that which Satan cast [fa-nasakha Allahu ‘azza wa jalla ma alqa al-shaytan] and sent down upon him: “We have not sent before you a Messenger or a Prophet but that when he removes that which Satan casts and establishes his Signs clearly – and God is All-Knowing, All-Wise – to make that which Satan cast a trial for those in whose hearts is a sickness, and for those whose hearts are hardened. Indeed, the Wrongdoers are in far dissension.”

The foregoing report has been variously transmitted by the following Muslim authorities:

Muhammad Mustafa al-A’zami, Maghazi rasul Allah li-‘Urwah ibn al-Zubayr bi-riwayat Abi al-Aswad ‘an-hu (al-nuskhah al-mustrakhrajah, Maktab al-Tarbiyah al-‘Arabi li-Duwal al-Khalij, Riyad, 1981, pp. 160-161.

Abu al-Qasim Sulayman b. Ahmad al-Tabarani narrated it with the following chain: Muhammad b. ‘Amr b. Khalid al-Harrani al-Misri (d. 292 AH) – ‘Amr b. Khalid al-Harrani al-Misri (d. 229) – ‘Abd Allah Ibn Lahi’ah al-Misri (97-174) – Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Rahman Abu al-Aswad al-Madani al-Misri (d. 136/7) – ‘Urwah b. al-Zubayr al-Madani (23-94). (al-Mu’jam al-Kabir, edited by Hamdi ‘Abd al-Majid al-Salafi [Wizarat al-Awqaf wa al-Shu’un al-Diniyyah, Baghdad, 1971], 9:34-36)

Abu Bakr Muhammad b. ‘Ali al-Muttawi’i al-Ghazi al-Naysaburi al-Makki gives the following chain:

Abu al- ‘Abbas Ahmad b. al-Hasan b. Bundar al-Razi al-Makki (d. 409) – Abu al-Qasim Sulayman b. Ahmad al-Tabarani – Muhammad b. ‘Amr b. Khalid al-Harrani al-Misri – ‘Amr b. Khalid al-Harrani al-Misri – ‘Urwah b. al-Zubayr. (Kitab man sabara zafira, pp. 77b-78b)

We further read in Tafsir Dur al-Manthur that:

Al-Bazaar and Al-Tabarani and Ibn Mardaweh and al-Ziya’ have narrated through a chain of all trustworthy (Thiqa) narrators by the way of Said Ibn Jubayr, from Ibn Abbas that the Prophet recited the words of Surah Najm in the following manner:

“Have you then considered the Lat and the Uzza And Manat, the third, the last? These are the lofty (idols), verily their intercession is sought after.”

The idolaters became delighted on hearing this from the prophet and said that their idols have also been mentioned in the Quran. Then Gabriel came and said to prophet: “Recite same revelation and Quran which I have brought.” Prophet again recited the words:

“Have you then considered the Lat and the Uzza And Manat, the third, the last? These are the lofty (idols), verily their intercession is sought after.”

Gabriel said: “I had not brought these words, these are from Satan.” Then the following verse was revealed:

And We did not send before you any messenger or prophet, but when he desired, Satan made a suggestion respecting his desire; but Allah annuls that which Satan casts, then does Allah establish His communications, and Allah is Knowing, Wise. (Ibid., Volume 6, p. 65, on Q. 22:52

As mentioned, Jalauddin as-Suyuti recorded similar versions from several other authentic chains:

“Ibn Jarir and Ibn al-Munder and Ibn Abi Hatim and Ibn Mardawayh have narrated through a Sahih chain by the way of Said Ibn Jubayr who said…”

“Ibn Jarir, Ibn Al Munzir and Ibn Abi Hatim narrated with a Sahih chain from Abi Al ‘Aliyah…”

“Abd bin Hamid and Ibn Jarir by the way of Yunis, from Ibn Shahab narrated… with a Mursal Sahih chain.”

Qadhi Thanaullah Pani Patti Uthmani, in his commentary of the above mentioned verse, though doubting the veracity of this episode, nevertheless, acknowledges that the event is based on multiply attested and strong narrations:

“… However the tradition we previously mentioned from Said bin Jubayr by Bazar, Ibn Mardawayh and Tabarani, is indeed successive (mutawatur) and strong (qawi). Ibn Hajar Asqalani has stated that from the abundance of traditions reported, it is deemed that there is some truth in it…”

Ibn Abi Bakar al-Haythami is also among those Sunni scholars who affirmed that this incident is authentic:

Al-Bazar and Tabarani narrated it and they added ‘{the penalty of a Mighty Day}’in the day of Badr, the narrators are the narrators of Sahih.” (Majma al-Zawadi, Volume 7, p. 248, Number 11376)

Moreover, the darling of Salafi Muslims, i.e., Ibn Tamiyyah, also believed that the “Satanic Verses” took place, and erroneously thought that this actually establishes that Muhammad was a genuine prophet!

“What occurred with suratul Najm and its recitation ‘These are the lofty (idols), verily their intercession is sought after’ is well known amongst the Salaf; that this was recited by the Messenger of Allah and then Allah abrogated it.” (Minhaj Sunnah, Volume 2, p. 409)

We include a brief list of some of the many Islamic sources that record Muhammad’s lapse into idolater due to the influence of Satan:

Tafsir al-Tabari, Volume 17, p. 186.

Tafsir al-Qurtubi, Volume 12, p. 80.

Tafsir al-Kashaf, Volume 3, p. 164.

Ahkam al-Quran, Volume 3, p. 246.

Tafsir Dur al-Manthur, Volume 4, p. 367, on Q. 22:52.

Tafsir Gharaib al-Quran, Volume 17, p. 109, by Nizamuddin Nishapuri.

Tafsir Mazhari (Urdu), Volume 8, p. 94, by Qadhi Thanaullah Pani Patti.

Ghanyatul Talibeen, p. 172, by Shaykh Abdul Qadir Gilani.

Irshad al Sari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, p. 194, by al-Qastalani.

Fatah ul Bari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, p. 349.

Minhaj as Sunnah, Volume 2, p. 409, by Ibn Tamiyyah.

Majma al-Zawadi, Volume 7, p. 248, Number 11376

With the foregoing in perspective we are ready to proceed to the second part of our discussion


(1) The section of al-Mukhtarah containing this hadith has not been published. The late Salafi hadith scholar Al-Albani, Majaniq, 8, transcribed the chain of transmitters from a Zahiriyyah manuscript (ms) which some suspect may have been ms Majmu’ 86 (al-Albani, Fihris makhtutat Dar al-Kutub al-Zahiriyyah [Majma’ al-Lughah al-‘Arabiyyah bi-Dimashq, 1970], p. 326).

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