Is Mohammad (pbuh) Deified? [Part – 2]

Is Mohammad (pbuh) Deified?

More refutations to the cliché hoax of Mohammad’s (pbuh) deification

Part – 2

Question Mark

In Part – 1 of the series we saw how Shamoun got confused between praying to and praying for Prophet (peace be upon him). In this installment we would consider his arguments on “Tawassul”.

 

Tawassul

 

Next Shamoun brought up the issue of Tawassul. He quoted the following Hadith:

“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)

After quoting the Hadith, Shamoun tried to argue:

“Muhammad expressly instructed the blind man to address him directly in his prayer in the same way that he addresses Allah!

The blind man wasn’t told to simply ask Allah to heal him on behalf or for the sake of Muhammad. Rather, he was specifically directed to address Muhammad directly by asking for his intercession.”

In the first place, we would like to enquire Shamoun that where does in the quotation does it show that the blind man addressed prophet (peace be upon him) as Allah (SWT) is to be addressed. This assumption begs more scriptural support.

However, firstly, if we assume (for the sake of argument) that Shamoun is referring to the usage of  linguistic rhetoric or vernacular which the blind man used while addressing Allah (SWT) and Prophet (peace be upon him) the same way: “Oh Allah, I ask you…” and “O Muhammad, I seek…”.  Then, the following responses are in order:

Allah (SWT) was addressed as a deity, thus, a supplication was entreated from Him. However, Prophet (peace be upon him), on the other hand, was requested as a pious person to pray to Allah (SWT). Notice, that the prophet (peace be upon him) was not entreated for the need but Allah (SWT) was. Therefore, once again, the overall capacity of Allah (SWT) and Mohammad (peace be upon him) when they were/are addressed are totally different which cannot be used to conjoin them in any divine sense.

As a practical vernacular, we do say, for instance, to our parents, “O Mother, please give me that book.”, however, we also say “O Allah (SWT), please give me knowledge.” Yet by saying so, we do not equate mother to Allah (SWT), we do not worship our mother. We have a distinct and clear cut belief, status and capacity when requesting to each one; there is no divineness of any kind when requesting from mother. Thus, it is just absurd to claim any breach of Islamic Monotheism from it.

Secondly, notwithstanding Shamoun’s unsupported claims – neither did the blind man pray to Prophet (peace be upon him) nor did the Prophet (peace be upon him) suggest the blind man to pray to him rather, contrariwise, he recommended to pray to Allah (SWT), “…Oh Allah, I ask YOU and turn to YOU…” 

Requesting a godly and alive person to pray on one’s behalf to Allah (SWT) for any acceptable need is totally acceptable in the house of Islam. In that sense, there is absolutely no problem when the blind man requested the then alive prophet (peace be upon him) to make prayer (du’a) on his behalf, “O Muhammad (Ya Muhammad), I seek your intercession with my Lord for the return of my eyesight”.

 

Late renowned Muslim scholar, Shaikh Nasiruddin Al – Albani has already worked a great deal on this issue. And, Muslim apologist Sami Zaatari has also specifically provided an official response to Shamoun on this issue.

Thirdly, Shamoun needs to understand and make distinction between supplication and intercession when he objects erroneously:

“Rather, he was specifically directed to address Muhammad directly by asking for his intercession.

One last time, asking for intercession (which is totally different from supplication), in a way of request, from a live and godly person is not the same as appealing for supplication to him as is suitable to God – Almighty – in any divine way.

This takes us to the next part of Shamoun’s Tawassul objection. He brought up a “Hadith” which suggested an old man to seek Prophet’s (peace be upon him) intercession when he was dead:

“Now just in case Zaatari attempts to explain this away by saying that this took place when Muhammad was still alive, the following is a report of a man who offered up this same exact invocation during the caliphate of Uthman bin Affan:

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.” (Ibid., w40.4, pp. 936-937; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Here was an individual at the time of the caliphate of Uthman ibn Affan who offers up the same prayer that the blind man did, praying and asking Muhammad in the same way that he asks Allah!

Shamoun supported the authenticity of the above Hadith from Imam Baihaqi, Mundhiri and Haythimi.

We would soon observe that Shamoun’s argument is weak because (1) the subject Hadith goes against the plain teachings of the Quran, (2) Goes against (a) stronger Hadith from (b) higher companions, (3) Internal Incoherence, (4) Weakness in the narrator, (5) Weakness in the narration.

There are group of Muslims who hold the view that even though the subject Hadith implies turning to Allah (SWT) through a dead Prophet (peace be upon him), yet it is not equivalent to Shirk. In the Hadith, supplication is not made to the Prophet (peace be upon him) but to Allah (SWT), “O Allah, I ask YOU and turn to YOU…”.

So even if we accept the Hadith on its face value, it cannot be proved from it that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was entreated for any need and thus he is/was not deified.

However, we do not hold to praying through a dead prophet. This leads us to our main responses on the issue:

1)      Subject Hadith contradicts Qur’an:

Allah (SWT) mentions in Qur’an:

“And your Lord says: “Call on Me; I will answer your (Prayer)…” (Qur’an 40:60).

Prophet (peace be upon him) is instructing people (“…your Lord says…”) to call on Him directly and not through him when he would be dead.

Prophet (peace be upon him), elsewhere states,

If you ask in prayer, ask only Allah; and if you seek help, seek it only from Allah.” (Reported by Ibn ‘Abbas and collected by Tirmidhi. See an-Nawawi’s Forty Hadith. English Trans., p.68.)

Notice that there is no mention of any intermediary for supplication through any prophet. Qur’anic verse (and the Hadith) mentions to directly call on Allah (SWT) without any intermediaries. Proof to this is further found in the very first chapter of Qur’an where it says:

“Thee (alone) we worship; Thee alone we ask for help.” (Qur’an 1:5)

At this point we are instigated to think that if the old man (in Uthman’s (RAA) era) needed any help, he was expected that he would ask it from Allah (SWT) directly, as the above verses instructs and teaches, with this said, we move on with further enquiries.

 

2)       Subject Hadith contradicts more stronger Hadith from higher companions:

 

We find in (a)more reliable, more authentic, Hadith compilation which is more stringent in their standards, (b) coming from higher companions; Hadiths, which goes against the supposed teachings of the subject Hadith:

“Narrated Anas

Whenever drought threatened them, ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab, used to ask Al-Abbas bin ‘Abdul Muttalib to invoke Allah for rain. He used to say, “O Allah! WE USED TO ASK OUR PROPHET TO INVOKE You for rain, and You would bless us with rain, and NOW WE ASK HIS UNCLE to invoke You for rain. O Allah! Bless us with rain.”(1) And so it would rain.” (Sahih Al – Bukhari, Volume 2, No: 123. Al-Alim CD-ROM Version)

            And,

“Sulaym ibn ‘Aamir al-Khabaairee relates:
“That the sky withheld all rain, so Mu’aawiyah ibn Abee Sufyaan went out to pray for rain along with the people of Damascus. So when Mu’aawiyah sat upon the pulpit he said: “Where is Yazeed ibn al-Aswad al-Jurashee?” So the people called him and he came stepping between the people. Then Mu’aawiyah commanded him, so he ascended the pulpit and sat at his feet. Then Mu’aawiyah said: “O Allaah! Today we are asking the best and most noblest amongst us to supplicate to You for us. O Allaah, today we put Yazeed ibn al-Aswad al-Jurashee forward to supplicate to You for us. O Yazeed! Raise up your hands to Allaah.” So he raised up his hands and the people raised up their hands. Then rain-clouds, like large shields, came quickly from the west, and the winds blew, and it rained so much that people could hardly reach their houses.”Related by Ibn ‘Asskir in Tareekh Dimishq (18/151/1)

Notice the following conspicuous differences:

  • The above Hadith is found in Sahih Al-Bukhari, which has stronger criterions than Tabarani’s al-mu’jam al saghir.  And, the teachings of the two Hadiths contradict each other. In such a case Hadith of Al – Bukhari would be given precedence over the other one.
  • In Al – Bukhari, we find the Hadith coming from Umar Al – Khattab and from another source we found Mu’aawiyah ibn Sufyan – both of them are higher and senior companions than Uthman ibn Hunayf and thus their words carry more weight. Plus, Umar and Mu’aawiyah (RAA) make up testimony of two companions than Uthman ibn Hunayf’s one.

Observe that being one of the closest and most learned companions to the Prophet (peace be upon him) we expect Umar (RAA) and Mu’aawiyah (RAA) to know the Tabaranee version of praying through the Prophet (peace be upon him) after his death, and thus pray through him, however, they did not do so. On the contrary, they went to alive righteous people of their time by passing their so beloved Prophet (peace be upon him)! This action opens door for severe doubts on the subject Hadith.

Furthermore, all other companions gave their consensus to their approach. When Umar (RAA) seeked al – Abbas or when Mu’aawiyah (RAA) reached out to Yazeed ibn al – Aswad they all did it in presence of multiple other companions.  None of the other companions stood up and said to Umar (RAA) and Mu’aawiya (RAA) that you are reaching out to other people bypassing Prophet (peace be upon him) who taught us to pray through him!

In another narration, coming from authentic source, Prophet (peace be upon him) specifically taught how to make du’a (prayer) to Allah (SWT), however, as we would observe in it, he did not mention any tawassul through him after his death.

“In a Hadith regarding prayer, the Prophet (peace be upon him, (in Arabic)) has said:

I ask you through every name by which You have named Yourself or You have revealed Your Name or taught someone from amongst Your creatures, or kept it with You in the knowledge of the Unseen” (Sharh Al – Aqeedat – il – Wasitiya, Sheikh ul – Islam Ibn Taimiyah, pg no. 43, Darussalam Publishers and Distributors Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)

Notice that Prophet (peace be upon him) taught tawassul, not through his self or his name, but through the attributive names of Allah (SWT).

Based on the facts that (1) Allah (SWT) enjoins to seek to Him directly, (2) Prophet (peace be upon him) taught to call on Allah (SWT) directly through His names and (3) Senior companions never called on the name of the then dead Prophet (peace be upon him), contemporary Islamic Scholar Shaikh Bilal Philips states:

“…a deed may seem good when it is in fact evil. For example, it has been said that when a poor man wants a king to do something for him, it is better for the poor man to get a prince or someone near to the king to speak on his behalf. Based on that it is further said that if one really wants Allah to answer his prayers, he should pray to the Prophet or a saint to ask Allah on his behalf, since he is dirty with the many sins he commits daily. This may seem logical, but both Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him (in Arabic) have clearly told man TO PRAY DIRECTLY TO ALLAY WITHOUT ANY INTERMEDIARIES.

Allah has said in the Qur’an:

            “And your Lord says: Call on Me; I will answer your prayer.” (Qur’an 40:60)

And the Prophet (peace be upon him (in Arabic)) said,

If you ask in prayer, ask only Allah; and if you seek help, seek it only from Allah.” (Reported by Ibn Abbas and collected by Tirmidhi. See an – Nawawi’s Forth Hadith, English Trans., p. 68. Cited in The Fundamentals of Tawheed (Islamic Monotheism), Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, p.69-70, International Islamic Publishing House)

All of this, compounds doubts on the Tabaranee Hadith which Shamoun quoted.

3)      Internal Incoherence:

It is apparent from the Tabaranee Hadith that Uthman (RAA) did not pay any heed to the needs of the man. He being the Muslim Caliph of his time was expected not to do so. However, anybody who knows the Character of Uthman (RAA) would state that such an indifference towards the needy man was something unobvious and contrary to the known characteristic behavior of Uthman (RAA):

“He was a good trader and made ample money out of trade, but he never resorted to unfair practices in trade. He was scrupulously honest, and believed in fair deal. He amassed considerable wealth through honest means. On account of his wealth he came to be known as “Ghan)”. In spite of being a millionaire, his way of life was not that of a capitalist. He was a man of simple habits, and did not indulge in a luxurious way of life. He used a greater part of his wealth in helping those in distress. He had a flair for social work. He supported many poor families. He awarded liberal stipends to widows and orphans who had none to support them. He was soft spoken and kind hearted. He had a kind word for every one who came across him. He patronized his relatives, and gave liberal aid to such relatives who were in straitened circumstances.

He was an embodiment of modesty. In spite of his wealth there was no sense of pride in him. He never boasted of anything. He never tried to thrust his opinion on others. He believed in action rather than talk. There was a particular decorum and dignity about him. He was very particular that by his behavior he did not offend any body. On account of his endearing qualities of head and heart, he enjoyed great popularity among the people of Makkah. (Personal Character of Uthman. Al-Alim CD-ROM Version)

Thus, the aversion of Uthman (RAA) towards the needs of the man itself casts doubt towards the credibility of the subject Hadith.

Till now we have already seen enough proof that allude to the element that there is something fishy in the Tabaranee Hadith. This leads us to analyze the narrators in the subject Hadith:

4)      Problems with the narrators in the subject Hadith:

In the chain of narrators of the Tabaranee Hadith we have a special character in it, namely, Shabeeb ibn Sa’eed al – Makkee. Although Shabeeb was a truthful narrator, however, reports cannot be accept from him because of the following reasons:

4.1) In his later years, Shabeeb was forgetful and had weak memory:

“Ibn ‘Adiyy said: “Shabeeb sometimes made slips and errors when he narrated from memory. I hope that he did not do this intentionally.” (Source)

 Scholars have laid rulings regarding the acceptability of reports from Shabeeb, which are:

4.1.1) “only those of his ahadith will be accepted in which he narrates from Younus bin Yazeed. And narrator who narrates from him should be his son Ahmad.”

4.1.2) “Another condition to accept his narration is that at the time of narrating from Younus bin Yazeed he should not rely solely on his memory but should rather read from the book for narrating. If these two conditions are not met then his narrations will be weak and unacceptable.” (Meezan ul Aitidal and Al-Kamil fid Duafa)

4.1.3) Hadith’s leading proponent, Al – Bukhari, also prescribes the above mentioned criterions for including Hadiths which come especially from Shabeeb:

“…al-Bukhaaree brings his ahaadeeth which were reported from him by his son, which he himself reports from Yoonus, but he does not bring anything which he himself reports from other than Yoonus, and he does not quote anything which Ibn Wahb reports from him.”  (Source)

            We observe that none of the above mentioned criterions are fulfilled in Tabaranee Hadith.

4.2) To further jeopardize credibility, we also find Ibn Wahb in the chain of narrators and according to scholars (even Al – Bukhari did not used to quote Shabeeb when he was narrated by Ibn Wahb, see above citation) he used to lie and report weak and reprehensible narrations when narrating from Shabeeb:

“Ibn ‘Adiyy mentions him in his Kaamil and said: “He has a written manuscript copy of hadeeth from Yoonus ibn Yazeed which is fine. Ibn Wahb reports some weak and reprehensible things from him.” (Source)

Thus, we have seen how Tabaranee Hadith does not meet the requirements of an acceptable Hadith because of the presence of forgetful Shabeeb and incredulous Ibn Wahb in the chain of narrators.

Finally, we examine the narration itself.

5)    Problems within the narration:

5.1)            Another version of the same Hadith is found in Ibn as-Sunnee’s ‘Amalul-Yawm wal-Laylah (p.202), however, the supposed story is not present in it:

“ The hadeeth is also reported by Ibn as-Sunnee in ‘Amalul-Yawm wal-Laylah (p.202) and by al-Haakim (1/526) byway of three chains from Ahmad ibn Shabeeb without any mention of the attached story.” (Source)

Notice that earlier it was pointed out that Shabeeb was forgetful so his narrations has to be attested/transmitted by his son Ahmad who was not present in Tabaranee Hadith, nevertheless, when Ahmad reports the same event, he reports it contradictorily as was reported by his father – Shabeeb.

5.2)             What is even more startling is that on closer analysis, At – Tabaranee himself does not classify the Uthman ibn Hunayf Hadith to be authentic, rather, he classified the Shu’bah version of the Hadith to be veracious which does not has the related story in it:

“At-Tabaraanee said: “No one reports it from Rawh ibn al-Qaasim except Shabeeb ibn Sa’eed, Aboo Sa’eed al-Makkee and he is reliable. He is also the one whom Ahmad ibn Shabeeb narrates from, narrating from his father, from Yoonus ibn Yazeed al-Aylee. This hadeeth is also reported from Shu’bah from Aboo Ja’far al-Khatamee, whose name is ‘Umayr ibn Yazeed, and he is reliable.It is reported from Shu’bah only by ‘Uthmaan ibn ‘Umar ibn Faaris, and the hadeeth is Saheeh.” (Source)

On the above argument, eminent late Islamic Scholar, Shaikh Al – Albani argues:

At-Tabaraanee only declared the hadeeth authentic, not the story as is shown by his saying, as has preceded: “And the hadeeth has been reported by Shu’bah .. and the hadeeth is authentic.” So this is a clear statement that what he was talking about was the same hadeeth as that reported by Shu’bah, and Shu’bah did not narrate the story, so at-Tabaraanee did not declare that to be authentic, so there is no proof for them in his words.”

5.3)            Another noticeable facet about the subject Hadith is that Imam Tabaranee himself does not declare this Hadith authentic in his al – Kabeer (greater book) but rather in his as – Sagheer (lesser book):

At-Tabaraanee does not declare this hadeeth to be authentic in al-Kabeer but rather in as-Sagheer only.” (Source)

The fact that Imam Tabaranee did not include the subject Hadith in his greater book is a supportive proof in itself that he did not consider the subject Hadith authentic and strong enough.

So much for Shamoun’s argument of praying through (not to) a dead Prophet (peace be upon him). We have just witnessed how – many problems linger with the “proofs” which Shamouns appeals to.

This takes us to the third response in the series.

 

Note:

  • All Emphasize wherever not found in original, is ours.
  • All Qur’anic quotations, unless otherwise mentioned, are taken from Yusuf Ali Translation, Al – Alim CD-ROM Version.
  • All Biblical quotations, unless otherwise mentioned, are taken from King James Version, E-Sword Version.
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