Moses: “The Most High”?

Moses: “The Most High”?

Sam Shamoun takes another cheap shot at the Qur’anic monotheism

 

Question Mark

 

Introduction

 

It is human tendency to find out faults in others when they have problems in themselves so that both stand on same platform when afflicted with consequences. Just on the same idea, Shamoun goes around from pillar to post in order to find loop holes in fortified Islamic Monotheism or Tawheed.

In his attempts, he tries to deify Mohammad, Adam (peace be upon them) etc. But recently he has tried to deify Moses (peace be upon him) so that he can gloat – Islam also has as many gods as he assumes for Christianity.

Shamoun’s Desperate Argument

 

Shamoun asserts that, in the Qur’an Allah (SWT) is referred as “al-ala”:

“One of Allah’s names happens to be al-ala, or “the most high.”

Praise the name of your Lord the Most High (rabbika al-ala), S. 87:1

Except as seeking the face of his Lord Most High (rabbihi al-ala). S.  92:20”

Then he ironically goes on to explain Muslims the concepts of Tawhid Al-Asma Wa – Sifat. It basically means that the qualities, attributes and exclusive names of Allah (SWT) cannot be shared with anybody else.

By appealing to the concepts of Tawheed Al-Asma Wa-Sifat, Shamoun has further aggravated his arguments as we will see the ironical and embarrassing transpirations when we apply the same to the Bible!

After edifying Muslims about Tawheed (!?), Shamoun invents a breach in it by quoting Qur’an 20:67-68:

“Yet here is where the problem lies for the Muslims. The Quran says that Allah himself called Moses al-ala or the most high!

And Moses conceived a fear in his mind. We said: Fear not! Lo! you are the Most High (al-ala). S. 20:67-68”

Then in vain, he tries to deduce implications from it:

This means that Moses is Allah according to the Islamic scripture! Note how this works out logically:

  1. The most high is a divine title which belongs only to Allah.
  2. Moses is the most high.
  3. Therefore, Moses is Allah.

To put this in another way:

  1. Only Allah is the most high.
  2. Moses is the most high.
  3. Therefore, Moses is Allah.

Or the Muslims must accept the fact that their own god has committed shirk!

  1. Ascribing the exclusive names of Allah to a creature is to commit shirk, which is the unpardonable sin (cf. Q. 4:48, 116).
  2. Allah ascribes one of his unique names to Moses.
  3. Therefore, Allah is guilty of committing the unforgivable sin of shirk!

That being the case, we would be more than happy to expose his shoddy attempts at the Qur’an in the sub-sequent sections. And we will deal about the above “logical deductions” separately when we deal with Bible, inshAllah – it would be interesting!

Exposing Shamoun’s shallow grasp of Qur’an

 

In order to fabricate breach of Tawheed in Qur’an, Shamoun has reclined to specifically two tactics:

  1. 1.      Choice of bizarre Qur’anic translation.
  2. 2.      Tactful hiding of context.

Let us expose each one of the above to subsequently expose Shamoun.

Shamoun’s deceitful choice of Qur’anic Translation

 

Shamoun can be easily refuted by merely quoting the translations of standard Muslim translators of varying school of thoughts – Shia and Sunni alike:

Sahih International: Allah said, “Fear not. Indeed, it is you who are superior.

Pickthall: We said: Fear not! Lo! thou art the higher.

Yusuf Ali: We said: “Fear not! for thou hast indeed the upper hand:

Shakir: We said: Fear not, surely you shall be the uppermost,

Muhammad Sarwar: We told him, “Do not be afraid for you will be the winner.

Mohsin Khan: We (Allah) said: “Fear not! Surely, you will have the upper hand.

(Source)

Sher Ali: And Moses conceived a fear in his mind. WE said, ‘Fear no, for thou wilt have upper hand; (Source)

Ahmad Raza Khan: We said, “Do not fear – it is you who is dominant” (Source)

From the translations of unbiased and standard translators we find that the subject verse was not meant to elevate Moses (peace be upon him) as “High” as Allah (SWT). Rather the import of “al-ala” was that Moses (peace be upon him) would have superiority, upper hand etc over all his enemies and thus, he will be the most superior amongst all his enemies!

If Shamoun has problems with Muslim translators, then here are non-Muslim translators echoing with their Muslim counterparts:

Arberry: We said unto him, ‘Fear not; surely thou art the uppermost. (Source)Khalifa: Moses harbored some fear. We said, “Have no fear. You will prevail.” (Source)

 

In fact even biased non-Muslim translator like George Sale, do not support Shamoun in his translation:

(70) wherefore Moses conceived fear in his heart. (71)But we said unto him, Fear not; for thou shalt be superior; (George Sale)

 

From the standard translations it is evident that textually “al-ala” referred to Moses’ (peace be upon him) ultimate superiority, prevalence and upper hand over his enemies. This has got nothing to do with his equality with Allah (SWT).

[Side Remark: After searching virtually all standard English Translations of the Qur’an one is befuddled to think which translation did Shamoun use? Notice that Shamoun has wittingly not provided the source of his translation!]

Although the translations itself are enough to close the issue, nevertheless, a closer look at the verses Shamoun quoted further responds to his distortions.

Here are the verses once again which Shamoun quoted:

Praise the name of your LORD the Most High (rabbika al-ala), S. 87:1

Except as seeking the face of his LORD Most High (rabbihi al-ala). S. 92:20”

And,

And Moses conceived a fear in his mind. We said: Fear not! Lo! you are the Most High (al-ala). S. 20:67-68”

 

Notice that in the first two verses, Allah (SWT) mentions that He is “The Most High LORD”. The important word “Lord” is missing in the verse pertaining to Moses (peace be upon him).

This leads us to a very important query that according to Shamoun’s S. 20:67-68, Moses (peace be upon him) is Most High WHAT? The answer to this intriguing query is found in the context of Qur’an 20:67-68, the study of the context will also lead us to our next section (and rebuttal).

Tactful hiding of Context

 

A study of the preceding verses (to the subject verse) would elicit that when Moses (peace be upon him) went to Pharaoh to invite him to Truth he refused to comply. On the contrary he doubted the integrity and intentions of the messenger of Allah (SWT).

Rather than believing in the miraculous signs of Allah (SWT) which Moses (peace be upon him) was putting forth, Pharaoh deluded himself to assume signs to be merely trashy magic. As a result of this he invited Moses (peace be upon him) to contest with his famous and seasoned Magicians:

And We showed Pharaoh all Our Signs but he did reject and refuse. He said: “Hast thou come to drive us out of our land with thy magic O Moses? “But we can surely produce magic to match thine! So make a tryst between us and thee which we shall not fail to keep neither we nor thou in a place where both shall have even chances.”   (Qur’an 20:56-58, Yusuf Ali Translation, Al-Alim CD-ROM version)

 

Moses (peace be upon him) being on the Truth, accepted the challenge while commenting that whoever gains upper hand on the D-day would thrive there onwards:

Moses said: “Your tryst is the Day of the Festival and let the people be assembled when the sun is well up.” So Pharaoh withdrew: he concerted his plan and then came (back). Moses said to him: “Woe to you! forge not ye a lie against Allah lest He destroy you (at once) utterly by chastisement: the forger must suffer frustration!”So they disputed one with another over their affair but they kept their talk secret. They said: “These two are certainly (expert) magicians: their object is to drive you out from your land with their magic and to do away with your Most cherished institutions.”Therefore concert your plan. And then assemble in (serried) ranks: he wins (all along) today who gains the upper hand.”   (Qur’an 20: 59-64)

 

On the D-day, Moses (peace be upon him) got nervous when Pharaoh’s professional magician initiated their well concerted tricks:

They said: “O Moses! whether wilt thou that thou throw (first) or that we be the first to throw?” He said “Nay throw ye first!” Then behold their ropes and their rods so it seemed to him on account of their magic began to be in lively motion! So Moses conceived in his mind a (sort of) fear. (Qur’an 20: 65-67)  

 

It was THEN,  when Allah (SWT) relieved Moses (peace be upon him) off his nervousness by stating that he (Moses) need not to worry as he has the upper hand and victory will surely be his, he needs to just throw what was in his hand to achieve this victory:

We said: “Fear not! for thou hast indeed the upper hand: “Throw that which is in thy right hand: quickly will it swallow up that which they have faked. What they have faked is but a magician’s trick: and the magician thrives not (no matter) where he goes.” (Qur’an 20: 68-69)

 

And indeed, Allah’s (SWT) promise came true. Moses (peace be upon him) was proved to be the most superior or the so called “most-high amongst Pharaoh’s sorcerers:

So the magicians were thrown down to prostration: they said “We believe in the Lord of Aaron and Moses.” (Qur’an 20:70)

 

Therefore, when the subject verses are read in context, we find that Allah (SWT) has used the term “al-ala” to mollify Moses (peace be upon him) that he would come up the prevailing and superior above ALL sorcerers – the most superior amongst them. Or, that he would come out victorious ABOVE ALL Egyptian Sorcerers – The Most High amongst them!

This understanding is further supported by classical Muslim expositors of Qur’an:

We said, to him, ‘Do not be afraid! Indeed you shall have the upper hand, over them by triumphing.  (Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Qur’an 20:68)

 

We said) to Moses: (Fear not! Lo! thou art the higher) you will be victorious over them. (Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas, Qur’an 20:68)

Therefore, from the foregoing, when Qur’an speaks of Moses (peace be upon him) as “al-ala”, it does not deify him. As usual Shamoun has no real argument against Islam apart from such frivolities as this.

Now, because Shamoun was so fascinated about the concepts of Tawheed Al-Asma Wa-Sifat, it is now time to apply them to Bible.

Turning Tables Over

 

Recall that Shamoun has appealed to the concepts of Tawheed Al-Asma Wa-Sifat between Moses (peace be upon him) and Allah (SWT) to claim that the former was allegedly deified.

If the sciences of Tawheed Al-Asma Wa-Sifat was good enough for Shamoun to evaluate Qur’anic breach of Monotheism then, by the same token, he should have no problem when we apply the same principle to Bible.

As mentioned earlier, Tawheed Al-Asma Wa-Sifat is the concept in which the exclusive names, attributes, qualities etc of a Deity is His alone. In other words they cannot be shared with others.

However, as we are soon going to witness that celebrated and exclusive titles (plural) of Jesus (peace be upon him) – the mistaken deity of Trinitarians, has been shared by other.

At multiple places in the New Testament, Jesus (peace be upon him) is referred as the “Savior of the world”:

And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. (Joh 4:42)

 

And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. (1 Jn 4:14)

 

Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: (Act 13:23)

 

For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. (Eph 5:23)

(King James Version, e-Sword)

 

However, much idolatrously, according to Classical Trinitarian Scholars of the Bible, Joseph (peace be upon him) is conferred with the same title:

Joseph gave good advice to Pharaoh. Fair warning should always be followed by good counsel. God has in his word told us of a day of trial before us, when we shall need all the grace we can have. Now, therefore, provide accordingly. Pharaoh gave Joseph an honourable testimony. He is a man in whom the spirit of God is; and such men ought to be valued. Pharaoh puts upon Joseph marks of honour. He gave him such a name as spoke the value he had for him, Zaphnath-paaneah, “a revealer of secrets.” This preferment of Joseph encourages all to trust in God. Some translate Joseph’s new name, “the Saviour of the world.” The brightest glories, even of the upper world, are put upon Christ, the highest trust lodged in his hand, and all power given him, both in heaven and earth. (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, Genesis 41:33-45)

Matthew-Henry, derive the above commentary because God-Almighty has honored Joseph (peace be upon him) to be ruler of all:

Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall ALL my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.” (Genesis 41:40, King James Version, e-Sword)

 

The commentators also claim that Jesus (peace be upon him) is AS (same degree) much a “Judge” and “Lord” as Joseph (peace be upon him) was:

“Secondly, He has committed all judgment to the Son, has constituted him Lord of all (Act_10:36; Rom_14:9), as Joseph in Egypt, Gen_41:40.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, John 5: 17-30)

 

Note that “Lord” is also one of the special titles of Jesus (peace be upon him) in the New Testament, yet these sincere Trinitarian scholars had no qualms in sharing it with Joseph (peace be upon him)!

If Matthew-Henry is not good enough for Shamoun, then we have Jesus (peace be upon him) himself willing to share one of the most divine quality of God, not with any Prophet, but with mere Christians:

“For he makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil. Why should God reward if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that! And if you speak only to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that! You must be perfect – just as your Father in heaven is perfect!” (Matthew 5:45-48)

 

Notice that Jesus (peace be upon him) exhorts his followers to be JUST AS PERFECT AS THEIR FATHER IN HEAVEN.

Lest Shamoun tries to distort the plain meaning of the verse; in light of the context of the verses, Jesus (peace be upon him) wants perfection in his followers with regards to goodness in them! As “God – The Father” is divinely, perfectly good in loving his creatures so shall Jesus’ (peace be upon him) followers too!

Furthermore, as “God – The Father” in His perfection of love, Justice and lack of Envy or Favoritism showers rain and shines Sun on believer and unbeliever alike so shall Jesus’ (peace be upon him) followers also be infinitely, perfectly Just, Loving, Envy and Favoritism less!

Think about it, is it not absurd to expect perfectly divine qualities in mortals who are imperfect! Yet biblical Jesus (peace be upon him) very optimistically expects it from his followers! May be biblical Jesus (peace be upon him) did felt that mortals are perfect enough to share divine qualities of God – Almighty!

In a nut-shell, biblical Jesus (peace be upon him) is bestowing the divine attributes of “God – The Father” on mere mortal Christians! Shamoun needs to show concepts of Tawheed Al-Asma Wa-Sifat to his “lord and savior”!

Shamoun offered Logic – which backfired against him!

 

On the foregoing, if we apply Shamoun’s “logics” then this is how the above biblical texts and its exegesis turn out to be:

This means that Joseph (peace be upon him) and other Christians are Deity according to the Christian scripture! Note how this works out logically:

  1. D.    The “Savior of the World” and “Lord of all” is a divine title which belongs only to Jesus (peace be upon him) – who is (mis) taken to be a Deity.
  2. E.     Joseph (peace be upon him) is the “Savior of the World” and “Lord of All”
  3. F.     Therefore, Joseph (peace be upon him) is a Trinitarian Deity!

To put this in another way:

  1. D.    Only Jesus (peace be upon him) is the “Savior of the World” and “Lord of All”.
  2. E.     Joseph (peace be upon him) is the “Savior of the World” and “Lord of All”.
  3. F.     Therefore, Joseph is a Trinitarian Deity.

Or the Christians must accept the fact that their own god has committed shirk!

  1. D.    Ascribing exclusive perfectness of God – The Father to a creature is to commit shirk, which is a heinous sin.
  2. E.     Jesus (peace be upon him) ascribes God’s divine perfectness to his followers.
  3. F.     Therefore, biblical Jesus (peace be upon him) is guilty of committing the heinous sin of shirk!

(For a related topic, please refer to the following article: Jesus (pbuh): Nothing divine about Him)

Shamoun claims Adam (pbuh) was Worshipped?

 

If we were to believe Shamoun then, Allah (SWT) made angels to “worship” Adam (peace be upon him):

This wouldn’t be the only time where Allah committed shirk since he commanded his angels to worship Adam, thereby forcing all of them to violate tauhid al-uluhiyyah/ibaadah:

And when we said unto the angels, worship Adam; they [all] worshipped [him], except Eblis [who] refused, and was puffed up with pride, and became of the [number of] unbelievers. S. 2:34 Sale

[Remember] when we said unto the angels, worship ye Adam: And they [all] worshipped [him], except Eblis, [who] was [one] of the genii, and departed from the command of his Lord. Will ye therefore take him and his offspring for [your] patrons besides me, notwithstanding they are your enemies? Miserable [shall such] a change [be] to the ungodly! S. 18:50 Sale

 

In the process of showing his Arabic prowess, Shamoun claimed that through “worship” of Adam (peace be upon him) there is a breach of “Tawhid al-uluhiyyah/ibaadah” – implying that the Arabic for “worship” is either “uluhiyyah” or “ibaadah”.

However, he did not realize that by alluding to Arabic translation of the word “worship”, he will only help us refute him more easily!

When we checked the original Arabic text of the subject verses, neither did we find “uluhiyyah” nor the word “ibaadah”! Then how is Shamoun claiming that Allah (SWT) ordered angels to “worship” Adam (pbuh)?

Here is the translation which Shamoun judiciously neglected:

And behold We said to the angels: “Bow down to Adam“; and they bowed down not so Iblis he refused and was haughty he was of those who reject Faith. (Qur’an 2:34)

 

Behold! We said to the angels “Bow down to Adam“: they bowed down except Iblis. He was one of the Jinns and he broke the Command of his Lord. Will ye then take him and his progeny as protectors rather than Me? And they are enemies to you! Evil would be the exchange for the wrongdoers! (Qur’an 18:50)

 

Therefore, the term is “bowing” and not “worship”. And before Mohammad’s (peace be upon him) legislation, “bowing” was not considered to be an act of worship in Islam! Rather it was a symbol of respect and reverence. As Qur’an translator Mohammad Asad concurs:

 

To show that, by virtue of his ability to think conceptually, man is superior in this respect even to the angels. (Qur’an 2.34, Note ASD_25)

However, if Shamoun persists (in his ignorance) that “bowing” means “worship” then before attacking Qur’an he should have a look at the biblical monotheists including prophets (!):

“As soon as Araunah saw King David approaching, he left the threshing-place and bowed low, with his face touching the ground. David said to him, “Sell me your threshing-place, so that I can build an altar to the LORD, to stop the epidemic. I’ll give you the full price.” (1 Chronicles 21:21-22)

 

Notice that when Araunah bowed (prostrated), David (peace be upon him) – an important biblical monotheist, did not stop him, on the other hand, he went on with his conversation! Implying that either David (peace be upon him) idolatrously accepted Araunah’s! “worship” or the bowing was a symbol of respect! Shamoun needs to select any one and refute himself!

Next we have an incident of a Jewish women prostrating to a mortal:

“The women went to the king, bowed down to the ground in respect, and said, “Help me, Your Majesty!” (2 Samuel 14:4)

 

Absalom, the person who was raised in the house of Prophet David (peace be upon him), also bowed low:

“The king sent for Absalom, who went to him and bowed down to the ground in front of him. The king welcomed him with a kiss.” (2 Samuel 14:33)

 

If these are not good enough texts then we have so called Prophet Nathan idolatrously bowing “low” to mortal:

“She was still speaking, when Nathan arrived at the palace. The king was told that the prophet was there, and Nathan went in and bowed low before the king.” (1 Kings 1: 22-23)

 

Furthermore, biblical Prophet Samuel had no hesitation in accepting “worship” to him:

“What does it look like?” he asked. “It’s an old man coming up,” she answered. “He is wearing a cloak.” Then Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed to the ground in respect. (1 Samuel 28:14)

 

Notice that Saul bowed to Samuel out of respect. Therefore, when Shamoun sets out to attack Islam (because of angels bowing to Adam (pbuh)) then he either exposes his sheer ignorance of (Jewish) historical culture or puts biblical prophet hood and monotheism to jeopardy!

Conclusion

 

While compiling “arguments” against Islam, we saw that,

        i.            Shamoun tried to play fast and loose with the translation of the subject Qur’anic verse. And, therefore by merely citing standard Muslim and non-Muslim translations, he was utterly refuted.

      ii.            Shamoun’s argument was so flimsy that even his peculiar translation could not save it. By merely appealing to the immediate context of the subject verse elicited that Moses (peace be upon him) was the so called “Most High” AMONGST his enemies, namely, Egyptian Sorcerers, Pharaoh and his courtiers.

    iii.            The above view is also held by classical Muslim expositors like Jalalyn and Ibn Abbas (RAA).

    iv.            Ironically, Shamoun who worships three gods in One God, tried to teach Tawheed Al-Asma Wa-Sifat to Muslim, however, when we applied the same concept to Bible, we had Joseph (peace be upon him) sharing two of Christ’s (peace be upon him) assumed divine titles, namely, “Savior of the World” and “Lord of All”!

      v.            To make matters worse, biblical Jesus himself breached Tawheed Al-Asma Wa-Sifat when he exhorted his followers to be as perfect as God – Almighty! His followers ought to be infinitely Just, Loving, Envy Less etc as God – The so called Father.

    vi.             Finally, to pull out a red-herring, Shamoun objected that in Islam Adam (peace be upon him) was “worshipped” by angels. However, we found that,

a)      Qur’an has not used the word “worshipped” in its original Arabic text. It was Shamoun’s tactful choice of translation which had it!

b)      Qur’an, on the other hand, states that angels were to “bow” down to Adam (peace be upon him). And according to traditions, prior to Mohammad’s (peace be upon him) legislation, “bowing” signified respect as contrary to “worship”.

 c)      Even if Shamoun want to fuss that “bowing” implied “worship” then he needs to reconsider the deeds of Old Testament Prophets and other “monotheists” who used to stoop at mortals ad nauseum!

These all for Shamoun’s so called deification of Moses (peace be upon him)!

From the foregoing it seems that Shamoun needs to learn more of Islam and Qur’an in particular before critiquing it – as it proves he is too weak in it!

Allah – Willing we have more rebuttals for Shamoun in near future!

Notes:

  • Biblical texts, wherever not mentioned, are taken from Holy Bible, Good News Edition, Today’s English Version.
  • Emphasize wherever not matching with original quotations, is ours.
  • All Qur’anic Text taken from Yusuf Ali’s Translation, Al-Alim CD-ROM Version.
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