Thursday, September 30, 2010

Do Muslims Deify Muhammad?

A friend asked in a recent discussion if Muslims worship Muhammad. As with all good questions, the answer is not as simple as it might appear.  It took me back to the Asool, the basic texts of Islam as exemplified in the Quran, the Sunnah, and the books of Fiqh.

On the surface, of course, the theological answer is an unequivocal "No". To associate anything at all with Allah is Shirk, the greatest of all Kaba-eer, the major sins. Muhammad himself proclaimed  in Surat Al Kahf (Quran 18:110), "I am only a man like you, to whom it has been revealed that God is One."

At the same time, the Quran sends a mixed message. Surat Al Maidah (Quran 5:92) is one of many verses that enjoins Muslims to "obey Allah and obey his Messenger". Muhammad  never once told Muslims to obey God without tacking on, "and me as well". If there was any doubt that obeying Muhammad was equivalent to obeying God, the Quran specifies in Surat Al Nisa (4:80), "He who obeys the Messenger has indeed obeyed Allah." Similarly, there is not a single verse in the Quran that condemns disobedience against Allah without equating it to disobedience against Muhammad. This warning in Surat Al Nisa (4:14) is only one of many, "Whoever disobeys Allah and his Messenger will be cast into the Fire to suffer a disgraceful torment."

If obedience to Muhammad is equivalent to obedience to God, and disobedience to him is the same as disobedience against God, does not the Prophet have a position equal to God?

Christians are known to finish their prayers with the expression, "In the name of Jesus." The reason is that Christians believe Jesus is God, and he promised that prayers made in his name would be answered. Could anyone imagine Muslims similarly praying, "In the name of Muhammad?"

Well, yes. An authentic Hadith that occurred after the death of Muhammad, and which can be read here, noted that whenever there was a drought Caliph Umar bin Al Khattab would ask Abbas to do the rain prayer. The prayer was, "Oh Allah, we seek intercession with you by your Prophet and we ask you for rain." The Hadith ends by saying, "And they were given rain."

During his years in Mecca Muhammad had condemned the Quraysh for their belief that their gods Allat, Uzzah, and Minat were effective intercessors in obtaining favors from God. Only a few years after his death, his followers were invoking his name to receive these same favors.

Not only the name of Muhammad but even his grave was used to evoke rain. A Hadith that can be read here describes the people of Medina pleading with Ayesha, wife of the deceased Prophet, to remove the ceiling over Muhammad's tomb in a time of drought so that nothing would separate his corpse from the throne of God. As soon as they did so, rain poured down. Even the decayed body of the Apostle, according to Muslims, was effective in persuading Allah to send rain.

Perhaps the greatest indication that the position of Muhammad is greater than the place of God is the punishment given to those who offend either the Prophet or Allah. Many Hadith are similar to the one that can be read here. Caliph Umar bin Khattab was informed that a man had been executed for apostatizing from Islam. When the Caliph asked if the man had been given three days to change his mind, he was informed he had not. The Caliph became angry, explaining that a Murtadd should be put in prison for three days and fed bread and water to see if he would recant. Only then should he be executed.

There is no three day grace period granted in Islamic law to those who offend the Prophet. They are to be killed immediately. An Arabic Manual of Law entitled Kitab Ahkam Al Quran (The Book of Quranic Rulings) repeats that the apostate Murtadd is not to be killed until he has been given the opportunity to repent and return to Islam (the reference is available here). Those who insult Muhammad, however, are given no such opportunity to change their minds.

Atheist websites, artists, filmmakers, and authors by the thousands mock God, but Muslims are not up in arms about that. Thousands of people are leaving Islam behind, and even the strictest Salifists agree they should be given a few days to recant. But the cartoonist who draws an unfavorable image of Muhammad, or the scholar who concludes after careful analysis of the original texts that the 62 year old Prophet's sexual conquest of a 17 year old Jewish girl named Sofiya, after torturing and beheading her husband, father, and brother, could only be described as rape, is not even given three minutes, much less three days, to reconsider.

So back to the original question, do Muslims worship Muhammad? Theologically, they can argue they do not. On a practical level, I'm not so sure.

(For readers who know Arabic, this subject was discussed by Rashid in his program Daring Question here and some of the material was adapted from that program).


Susanne said...

I enjoyed this. I read an English translation of the Quran earlier this year and asked the same questions when I saw obeying God and Muhammad joined together as you mentioned in this post. Muslims will say they don't deify their prophet by their words, but yet they often live in ways that make me wonder. But what do I know?

Quotable Quotes: said...

"...but what do I know?"

You know a lot. Don't let Muslims (or anyone else) run roughshod over you when they say things that don't quite add up, that just don'e seem right. If you don't know the answer right off the bat, do some research so you'll have a response the next time you hear the same thing. That's what the Internet is for!

trencherbone said...

Islam is not about following one's conscience, but about correct behavior. If one imitates the behaviors of Mohammed (The Perfect Man), then one has done all that is required to be a good Muslim. Hence ethical principles, as we understand them, are not a part of Islam.

For the devout Muslim, there is no place for compassion or empathy; only robotic behavior patterns programmed by a long-dead psychopath. There is no morality to be had in Islam and consequently no possibility of the Golden Rule or any other higher ethical principles. There is nothing apart from a huge number of prescribed regulations which must be obsessively and compulsively observed.

trencherbone said...

Becuase they worship Mohammed as the 'Perfect Man', Muslims are absolved from the prompting of their own conscience. If they follow his example, they can gain divine approval for rape, pillage and murder of the infidels:

"Islam is not about following one's conscience, but about correct behavior. If one imitates the behaviors of Mohammed (The Perfect Man), then one has done all that is required to be a good Muslim. Hence ethical principles, as we understand them, are not a part of Islam.

For the devout Muslim, there is no place for compassion or empathy; only robotic behavior patterns programmed by a long-dead psychopath. There is no morality to be had in Islam and consequently no possibility of the Golden Rule or any other higher ethical principles. There is nothing apart from a huge number of prescribed regulations which must be obsessively and compulsively observed."

Trutheversearcher said...

This article is an indication of crass ignorance. we don't set Muhammad as a god. As a common sense people are ordered to obey the prophet who has been sent to them.Muhammad peace be upon him said " Don't worship me as the Christians worshiped Jesus son of Mary, but always call me : the slave of Allah and his messenger.

Quotable Quotes: said...

You have paid me the ultimate compliment. A person cannot honestly describe himself as a critic of Muhammad unless he has been called "jahil". as you have called me. As Yusuf Qaradawi described Wafa Sultan when she reminded him that Muhammad said paradise was under the shadow of his sword - Inti Jahilah! It's much easier than confronting the evidence.

Traeh said...

Another excellent article. It pointed out some things I hadn't noticed previously.

Quotable, you mention a careful researcher who determines that what happened to Safiya (or Sofiya) must be called rape.

I know some of the story from Ishaq and a sahih hadith. The story says Muhammad tortured Kinana to get him to reveal the whereabouts of a treasure.

Later, when Sofiya is being claimed by Muhammad, Ishaq says that she had a bruised eye or face, and Muhammad asked her about it, and she said her deceased husband, Kinana, had given it to her. Why did he hit her? Ishaq's story claims that she told Kinana, some time before, that she had a dream that the moon had fallen into her lap. Kinana responded by saying something like, "You had that dream because you want to be the wife of that King, Muhammad," and then Kinana punched her for it. She told this to Muhammad, with no denial that Kinana's dream interpretation was true.

Ishaq's story at that point sounds like a convenient lie to make Muhammad look better than a murdering rapist, but I'd like to see an analysis of that whole episode of Ishaq and relevant hadiths, including the tale about the moon falling into Sofiya's lap and so on. Is it plausible Sofiya wanted to be Muhammad's wife, though he had just killed her father, male relatives, and her husband? Apart from a certain implausibility, do you know of any evidence or arguments that Ishaq's claim that Sofiya wanted to marry Muhammad is false?

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Amanda Bales said...

Another ignorant article.. excuse me but who are you to talk about Islam from a non-Muslim point of view? Where is your proof that these people you obtain your information from are knowledgeable in the field of study that is Islam?
We don't take our information from non-Christians when we look into the Bible. So don't expect me to accept your weak quotes from people that have left Islam all because they have also taken their info from ignorant people as yourself.
The prophet Muhammad saws was the most perfect man on this Earth and for which the Quran was revealed to him. Not to Abu Bakr, not to Omar, not to anyone in this world, but him. So ask yourself why would the Quran have been revealed to him and yet you sit there writing insults on him from hadiths that you just cherry picked to "support" your answers? Pretty pathetic as you have no knowledge of these hadiths and I am so sure you just randomly chose them on Google to support your ideas.
If you want your answers, go to the Qur'an. If you are still not certain because your ego is so massive that its invaded your heart, then find a sheikh to give you the answers. Yet Allah is more forgiving and insha'Allah will have mercy upon your pity soul. Insha'Allah.

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