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Islam: The Religion of Perfect Submission to Muhammad

In a previous post,, I showed that the Islamic scripture proclaims that a Muslim is one that bears witness to Allah being the only god and makes an effort to completely submit to his will. As the following verse puts it:

And they say: None shall enter the garden (or paradise) except he who is a Jew or a Christian. These are their vain desires. Say: Bring your proof if you are truthful. Yes! whoever submits himself entirely to Allah and he is the doer of good (to others) he has his reward from his Lord, and there is no fear for him nor shall he grieve. S. 2:111-112 Shakir

However, this is only partially correct since the same Quran emphatically states that a true Muslim is one who perfectly submits to Muhammad in all of his desires and decisions:

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

In fact, the Quran binds obedience to Allah and salvation with the necessity of obeying Muhammad, even warning that Allah will not forgive or love a person who refuses to obey the so-called “messenger”:

Say: If you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your faults, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Say: Obey Allah and the Apostle; but if they turn back, then surely Allah does not love the unbelievers. S. 3:31-32 Shakir

These are the limits (imposed by) Allah. Whoso obeyeth Allah AND His messenger, He will make him enter Gardens underneath which rivers flow, where such will dwell for ever. That will be the great success. And whoso disobeyeth Allah AND His messenger and transgresseth His limits, He will make him enter Fire, where he will dwell for ever; his will be a shameful doom. S. 4:13-14 Pickthall

How (will it be) then, when We bring from each nation a witness and We bring you (O Muhammad) as a witness against these people? On that day those who disbelieved and disobeyed the Messenger (Muhammad) will wish that they were buried in the earth, but they will never be able to hide a single fact from Allah. S. 4:41:42 Hilali-Khan

Whoso obeyeth Allah and the messenger, they are with those unto whom Allah hath shown favour, of the prophets and the saints and the martyrs and the righteous. The best of company are they! S. 4:69 Pickthall

And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger (Muhammad) after the right path has been shown clearly to him, and follows other than the believers’ way. We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and burn him in Hell – what an evil destination. S. 4:115 Hilali-Khan

Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah AND His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection. S. 9:29

It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah AND His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed in a plain error. S. 33:36 Hilali-Khan

The Islamic scripture goes as far as to emphatically proclaim that obedience to Muhammad is the same as obedience to Muhammad’s god:

He who obeys the Messenger (Muhammad), has indeed obeyed Allah, but he who turns away, then we have not sent you (O Muhammad) as a watcher over them. S. 4:80 Hilali-Khan

That obedience to Allah and Muhammad are essentially one and the same is explicitly brought out by this next passage:

O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger (Muhammad), and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah AND HIS MESSENGER, if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination. S. 4:59

Note how the text expressly commands believers to take any dispute or differences that may arise not to those in authority among them but rather back to Allah and his “messenger,” thereby equating the messenger with Allah in his sovereign authority and obedience!

As if this weren’t shocking enough, the Islamic book even equates displeasing and annoying Muhammad with displeasing and annoying his god:

Verily, those who annoy Allah AND His MessengerAllah has cursed them in this world, and in the Hereafter, and has prepared for them a humiliating torment. S. 33:57 Hilali-Khan

In other words, to annoy Muhammad IS TO annoy and displease Allah!

In fact, Allah himself rushes to please his messenger in order to keep him happy and satisfied!

We see the turning of thy face (for guidance) to the heavens: now Shall We turn thee to a Qibla that shall please thee. Turn then Thy face in the direction of the sacred Mosque: Wherever ye are, turn your faces in that direction. The people of the Book know well that that is the truth from their Lord. Nor is God unmindful of what they do. S. 2:144 Y. Ali

To make matters worse, the Muslim scripture plainly teaches that a person must come to Muhammad and have him pray and intercede in order to have the individual’s sins forgiven:

And We did not send any apostle but that he should be obeyed by Allah’s permission; and had they, when they were unjust to themselves, come to you and asked forgiveness of Allah and the Apostle had (also) asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah Oft-returning (to mercy), Merciful. S. 4:64 Shakir

Take alms out of their property, you would cleanse them and purify them thereby, and pray for them; surely your prayer is a relief to them; and Allah is Hearing, Knowing. S. 9:103 Shakir

Only those are believers who believe in Allah and His Apostle, and when they are with HIM on a momentous affair they go not away until they have asked HIS permission; surely they who ask YOUR permission are they who believe in Allah and His Apostle; so when they ask YOUR permission for some affair of theirs, give permission to whom you please of them and ask forgiveness for them from Allah; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Do not hold the Apostle’s calling (you) among you to be like your calling one to the other; Allah indeed knows those who steal away from among you, concealing themselves; therefore let those beware who go against his order lest a trial afflict them or there befall them a painful chastisement. S. 24:62-63 Shakir

This places Muslims in a dilemma. If the Quran is a guidance for all mankind and for all ages then how can Muhammad benefit anyone now that he’s dead? How can a faithful follower apply these texts which exhort him/her to seek the intercession and prayers of Muhammad for the forgiveness of his/her transgressions when s/he cannot do so?

This either means that much of the Quran is obsolete, useless, now that Muhammad is dead and, therefore, cannot be a message for all peoples at all times. OR these verses imply that even after his demise, Muhammad can still benefit believers and the latter should therefore still ask for his intercession, which is precisely how traditional Muslims have understood these exhortations. I.e., both Sunni and Shia Muslims pray to Muhammad and visit his grave in order to procure his mediation with Allah:

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 (ah 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 Ibn Musa al-Yahsubi, 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 English [Madinah Press, Inverness, Scotland, U.K., third reprint 1991, paperback], pp. 237-238; capital and underline emphasis mine)


Although, this verse (64) was revealed in the background of a particular incident relating to hypocrites, yet its words yield a general ruling which stipulates that anyone who presents himself before the Holy Prophet and he prays for his forgiveness, he will be definitely forgiven. And ‘the presence before the Prophet,’ as it would have been during his blessed life in this mortal world, HOLDS THE SAME EFFECT EVEN TODAY as the visit to the sacred precincts of the Mosque of the Prophet and the act of ‘presenting’ oneself BEFORE THE BLESSED RESIDENT OF THE SANCTIFIED MAUSOLEUM FALLS WITHIN THE JURISDICTION OF THIS RULE.

Sayyidna ‘Ali has said: “Three days after we all had finished with the burial of the Messenger of Allah a villager came and fell down close to the blessed grave. Weeping bitterly, he referred to this particular verse of the Qur’an AND ADDRESSING HIMSELF TO THE BLESSED GRAVE, he said: ‘Allah Almighty has promised in this verse that a sinner, if he presented himself before the Rasul of Allah, and the Rasul elects to pray for his forgiveness, then he will forgive him. Therefore, here I am, presenting myself BEFORE YOU so that I may be blessed with YOUR prayer for my forgiveness.’ People personally present there at that time say that, in response to the pleading of the villager, a voice coming out from the sanctified mausoleum rang around with the words… You have been forgiven.” (al-Bahr al-Muhit) (Mufti Shafi Usmani, Maariful Quran, Volume 2, p. 486; capital emphasis mine)


“Allah is instructing the sinners when they commit a sin to come to the messenger of Allah and ask forgiveness in his presence and then they ask him to request forgiveness. And certainly if they did that, Allah would relent towards them and have mercy on them, and for that reason He said “they would have found Allah Oft-Returning, Merciful.”

And Shaykh Mansur as-Sabbagh recollected in his book “The Perfections” (ash-Shama’il) the well-known (famous) transmission from ‘Utbi:

“I was sitting by the grave of the Prophet and a Bedouin came and said: ‘Peace be upon you O Prophet of Allah. I heard Allah say: “And if they had come to thee when they had wronged their souls, and asked forgiveness of Allah, and if the Messenger had also asked forgiveness for them, they would have surely found Allah Oft-Returning with compassion and Merciful.” And I came to you asking forgiveness for my sin, taking you as intercessor to my Lord.’

“Then he started reciting verses: ‘O You best of those whose bones are buried in al-Qa’a from the sweet scents of those bones the whole area of al-Qa’a and Akamu became perfumed. My self I sacrifice to the grave that you live in it is purity and in it is incredible generosity.’

“Then the Bedouin departed and sleep overcame me. And I saw the Prophet in my sleep and he said: ‘Ya ‘Utbi, follow the Bedouin and give him the glad tidings that Allah has forgiven him.’” (Ibn Kathir, Tafsir of Qur’an al-Adheem [Dar al-Fikr, Beirut, 1992/1412], Volume 1, p. 643)

Related to this point is the Quran’s assertion that Allah ended up making Muhammad famous and propping him as an exalted standard of moral conduct for his followers to emulate:

Ye have indeed in the Apostle of God a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in God and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of God. S. 33:21 Y. Ali

And verily, you (O Muhammad) are on an exalted standard of character. S. 68:4 Hilali-Khan

Have We not opened your breast for you (O Muhammad)? And removed from you your burden, Which weighed down your back? And raised high your fame? S. 94:1-4 Hilali-Khan

Here’s how traditional Islam have understood the latter passage:

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, Q. 94:4

(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 (pbuh) said: “Yes, indeed!” (Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas

The Meaning of raising the Fame of the Prophet

(And have We not raised high your fame?) Mujahid said, “I (Allah) am not remembered except that you are remembered with Me: I bear witness that there is no God worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”

Qatadah said, “Allah raised his fame in this life and in the Hereafter. There is no one who gives a sermon, declares the Testimony of Faith (Shahadah), or prays a prayer (Salah) except that he proclaims it: I bear witness that there is no God worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir

3This was said at a time when no one could even conceive how the renown of the one unique individual who had only a few followers confined only to the city of Makkah, would be exalted throughout the world, and what high fame he would achieve. But Allah Almighty gave His Messenger this good news under those very conditions and then fulfilled it in a strange way. In the first place, he took from his enemies themselves the task of exalting his renown. One of the methods that the disbelievers of Makkah adopted to defeat his mission was that in the Hajj season when the pilgrims from every corner of Arabia were attracted to their city, they would visit them at their halting places and would warn them to beware of a dangerous man called Muhammad, who they alleged, worked such magic on the people that father was separated from son, brother from brother, and husband from wife; therefore, they should keep away from him, The same thing they said to all other people, who visited Makkah on other than Hajj days in connection with pilgrimage or on other business. In this way although they were trying to defame the Holy Prophet, yet the result was that his name reached every nook and comer of Arabia and the enemies themselves. took him out of his seclusion in Makkah and introduced him among all the tribes of the country. After this, it was but natural that the people should become curious to know as to who was this man, what he preached, what was his character like and who were the people influenced by his magic and what sort of effect his “magic” had on them. As the propaganda of the Makkan disbelievers spread the people’s curiosity also grew. When as a result of this curiosity the people came to know of the Holy Prophet’s morals, his character and conduct, when they heard the Qur’an and found what teachings it presented and when the people saw how different the lives of those who had been influenced by what was being described as .magic had become from the lives of the common Arabs, the bad name started being changed into good name. So much so that by the time the Hijrah took place there was perhaps no tribe left anywhere in Arabia from which one or another person, one or another clan had not accepted Islam and in which at least some people had not developed sympathy and interest in the Holy Prophet and his message. This was the first stage of the exaltation of his renown. Then from the Hijrah started the second stage in which on the one hand the hypocrites, the Jews and the prominent polytheists of Arabia were actively engaged in defaming him and on the other the Islamic State of Madinah was presenting such a practical model of God-worship, God consciousness, piety and devotion, purity of morals and community life, justice and equity, equality of man and man, generosity of the rich, care of the poor, fulfillment of pledges and promises and righteousness in dealings, which was conquering the hearts, The enemies tried by resort to war to impede the growing influence of the Holy Prophet, but the party of the believers, trained and developed under his own leadership, proved its superiority by their discipline, their bravery, their fearlessness of death, and their adherence to restrictions of morality even in the state of war; so convincingly that entire Arabia had to recognize it as a power to be reckoned with. Within ten years the Holy Prophet’s renown become so exalted that the same land in which the opponents had exerted their utmost to defame him, reverberated with the slogan of Ash hadu anna Muhammad ar-Rasul Allah from one end to the other. Then the third stage commenced with the establishment of the righteous Caliphate when his holy name started being mentioned and praised everywhere in the world. This process continues till today, and will continue till Resurrection if Allah so wills. Wherever in the world there exists a settlement of the Muslims, the apostleship of Muhammad is being proclaimed aloud in the call to the Prayer five times a day, blessings of Allah are being invoked on him in the Prayers, and his sacred remembrance is being made in the Friday Sermons. There is no moment in the 12 months of the year and in the 24 hours of the day when at one or another place in the world, the Prophet’s holy name is not being mentioned. This is a clear proof of the truth of the Qur’an that when in the initial stage of the Prophet hood Allah proclaimed wa rafa `na Iaka dhikrak, no one could estimate and imagine with what esteem and to what great extent the Holy Prophet’s renown would be exalted. In a Hadith Hadrat Abu Sa`id Khudri has reported that the Holy Prophet said: “Gabriel came to me and said: My Lord and your Lord asks: In what ways have I exalted your renown? I submitted: Allah alone has the best knowledge. He said: Allah says: Whenever mention is made of Me, yon too will be mentioned along with Me.” (Ibn Jarir, lbn Abi Hatim, Musnad Abu Ya`la, Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn Hibban Ibn Marduyah, Abu Nu`aim). The whole later history stands witness that this prediction has proved literally true. (Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, Tafhim al-Qur’an (The Meaning of the Qur’an); bold and underline emphasis mine)

It is, therefore, evident that the Quran has elevated an imperfect, sinful transgressor to the status of the Islamic deity, which brings me to the final part:

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