Rebuttal To Anthony Roger's Article "To the Believers Is He Most Kind and Merciful: A Case Study in Shirk"

By

Bassam Zawadi

 

Anthony's article could be located over here.

It seems very clear that Anthony has been influenced by Sam Shamoun when writing this article, since such shoddy arguments could have only come from Shamoun.

In a nutshell this is Anthony's argument:

The Qur'an repeatedly says that Allah is raoofun raheemun and we only see Allah being called raoofun raheemun in the Qur'an. However, Surah 9:128 also calls Muhammad raoofun raheemun. This shows that Muhammad is being given divine attributes and names, hence compromising Allah's monotheism.

First, let's define the two terms raoofun and raheemun. Raheemun comes from the word al-rahmah (الرحمة), which could be safely translated as mercy. Ra'oofun comes from the word al-ra'fah (الرأفة). Abu Baqa al-Kufawi in his Al-Kulliyat, page 378 defines al-ra'fah:

 الرّأفة مبالغة فى رحمة مخصوصة هي رفع المكروه وإزالة الضرّ

Al-ra'fah is an exaggeration of a specific mercy. It is the lifting of the abhorred and removal of harm.

Ibn Al-Atheer defines it:

الرّأفة أرقّ من الرّحمة، ولا تكاد تقع في الكراهة، والرّحمة (قد) تقع في الكراهة للمصلحة

Al-ra'fah is softer than mercy and doesn't occur in a state of hatred, while mercy could occur in a state of hatred for self interest.

 

So basically we see that Ra'oofun is a more soft and exaggerated form of mercy.

God as we all know would obviously have these qualities and attributes. However, Muslims believe that we have been created in the image of Allah and could attribute God's attributes to human beings in a limited manner.

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said:

The word soorah (image) in this hadeeth is like all the other names and attributes narrated (in the texts) where the words used may also be applied to created beings, in a limited manner. When these words are applied to Allaah, they carry a unique meaning, such as al-'Aleem (All Knowing), al-Qadeer (All-Powerful), al-Raheem (Most Merciful), al-Samee' (All Hearing), al-Baseer (All-Seeing), and such as His creating with His hands, rising above the Throne, etc. (Ibn Taymiyah , Naqd al-Ta'sees, Volume 3, page 396, cited here)

So here we see that we could have the attributes of God, but in a limited sense.

Anthony Rogers states:

Whereas the Qur'an is otherwise careful to never speak of others in the same way it does about Allah, Most Kind and Merciful, it has a falling out with itself in Surah 9:128 when it says the same thing about Muhammad, calling him, and only him in addition to Allah, "Most Kind and Merciful".

This is absolutely false. I challenge Anthony to prove that the Qur'an called the Prophet (peace be upon him) Most Kind and Merciful. It simply cannot be proven grammatically nor by appealing to the context of the verse.

It's possible that Anthony due to his ignorance of the Arabic language actually thought that the words raoofun raheemun literally translates into Most kind and merciful. Anthony fails to realize that the word "Most" is not there and is only added by translators as an interpretation of the words because we know that when they are used in reference to God then that means that they are meant to be understood as having infinite value. However, if one looks at the English translations of Surah 9:128 one would observe that all the translations (including non-Muslim translations) with the exception of Yusuf Ali didn't use the word "Most". This is because the context shows that this is in reference to Muhammad (peace be upon him) and hence to be understood as mercy and kindness in a limited form. Yusuf Ali probably used the word "most" because he thought of the Prophet (peace be upon him) as being the most merciful and kind of all human beings towards the believers.

One of the great Salaf, Abu Sulayman Al-Daarini said:

جلساء الرّحمن يوم القيامة من جعل في قلبه خصالا: الكرم والسّخاء والحلم والرّأفة والشّكر والبرّ والصّبر

The companions of the Most Gracious on the Day of Judgment are those who make their hearts filled with: generosity, tolerance, al-ra'fah, gratitude, piety and patience. (Ibnul Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah, 'Idatil Saabireen wa Dhakheerat Al-Shaakireen, Volume 22, page 33)

Surely this great scholar didn't intend to say that we must have a divine attribute just as God has it in our hearts!!!

We also read in Ibn Katheer's commentary a narration where angel Mikaa'eel is described:

وإن ميكائيل ملك الرأفة والرحمة

And Mikaa'eel is the angel of al-ra'fah and al-rahmah. (Ibn Katheer, Tafseer Al-Qur'an, Volume 1, page 188. The narration isn't authentic because there is a disconnect in the chain of transmission.)

Has it crossed any Muslims mind that this narration is stating that angel Mikaa'eel is some sort of divine angel because he has attributes that are attributed to God? No, surely not because it is understood that these attributes are in limited form and not like God whose attributes are infinite.

Ibn Katheer elsewhere in his commentary (Volume 8, page 472) talks about how there are angels who descend during the night and:

وليس فيهم ملك إلا قد أعطي الرأفة والرحمة للمؤمنين

And there is not an angel, but that it gives al-ra'fah and al-rahmah to the believers.

Again, has any Muslim understood this narration to be saying that angels are giving believers divine qualities and making them divine? Absolutely not!

Taking all this into consideration then, why can't we understand that the Prophet (peace be upon him) is raoofun raheemun in a limited sense unlike Allah?

Anthony Rogers anticipates this response:

Some Muslims may try to get around this problem by pointing out that the definite forms of these names are not used for Muhammad.

And he responds by saying:

the fact is that since the specific phrase in question, raoofun raheemun, is established by Quranic usage to be specifically for Allah, it also constitutes shirk to associate anyone with Allah in this way. In addition to this, since the Qur'an never pairs these words together in their definite forms when speaking of Allah, it is hardly any objection to say that it does not speak of Muhammad after this fashion. The one and only way the words raoofun and raheemun are used together where they uniformly refer to Allah is the very way they are used in Surah 9:128 for Muhammad.

What kind of shallow response is that? So just because these words paired in the way they are, are ascribed to Allah this then means that only Allah alone should have these attributes attributed to Him regardless of whether it implies the attributes are in an infinite or limited sense? What sort of reasoning is this?

Anthony needs to understand that it is not so much the words being used, but the implications and understanding of these words. Anthony needs to understand that someone could be called merciful and kind without it necessarily calling God's uniqueness into question. Anthony has failed to show that the Qur'anic verse in question intended to say that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is infinitely Merciful and Kind like how God is. Consequently, Anthony has failed to show any promotion of Shirk in the Qur'an.


Recommended Reading

Are the Verses from Surah 9:128-129 and Surah 33:23 Falsely Added To The Quran?

 Appendix


Anthony responds back here.

Unfortunately Anthony is just rehashing the same arguments.

Anthony said:

Accordingly, Muslims have alternately either been forthright about the fact that these are divine attributes that are ascribed to Muhammad, and have embraced them as such, as the following quote illustrates:

As we will see this is nothing more than a lie, since the following Muslim citations do not state that these attributes as applied to Muhammad (peace be upon him) are divine.

Anthony provides the following citation:

One of the men of knowledge, Al-Husayn ibn al-Fadl, said, "He honored him with two of His own names: the compassionate and the merciful (rauf, rahim)." The same point is made in another ayat: "Allah was kind to the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from among themselves." (3:164) .

There is a big difference between simply honoring your servant with your names and titles and ascribing those names and titles with the same meaning and implications. Where is the proof that when these names and titles are given to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that this then means that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is infinitely kind and merciful just like Allah?

Anthony continues:

Jafar ibn Muhammad [as-Sadiq] said, "Allah knew that His creatures would not be capable of pure obedience to Him, so He told them this in order that they would realize that they would never be able to achieve absolute purity in serving Him. Between Himself and them He placed one of their own species, CLOTHING HIM IN HIS OWN ATTRIBUTES OF COMPASSION AND MERCY. He brought him out as a truthful ambassador to creation and made it such that when someone obeys him, they are obeying Allah, and when someone agrees with him, they are agreeing with Allah." Allah says: "Whoever obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah." (4:80)

The actual Arabic text (see Kitab Al Shifaa', page 39, published by Dar Ibn Rajab) for this phrase "clothing him in his own attributes of compassion and mercy" is:

وألبسه من نعته الرأفة والرحمة

A more literal word to word translation would be:

            And He clothed Him from His attributes Compassion and Mercy.

This is not saying that Allah actually instilled His actual divine attributes into the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), but the correct and accepted meaning is that He instilled created mercy and compassion into the Prophet (peace be upon him) whose source (just like all created mercy and compassion) is Allah's divine attributes of Mercy and Compassion.

Anthony states:

or they have been downright embarrassed and (appropriately) repulsed by such a claim, so much so that some have even been willing to excise these verses from the Qur'an, as is the case with  Rashad Khalifa's Quran: the Final Testament and Edip Yuksel's Quran - A Reformist Translation. According to Khalifa, these verses were wrongly added to the Qur'an, and the Muslims who are responsible for adding them (and those who accept them) are guilty of making an idol out of Muhammad and of doing the same thing with Muhammad that Christians are accused of doing with the Lord Jesus.

So Rashad Khalifah who claimed to be a Messenger of God was a Muslim now, huh? So is his follower Edip Yuksel? That's real nice.

Anthony asks:

Since Raoofun is a more soft and exaggerated form of mercy, and that according to the very sources Bassam cites, is not "most kind" one legitimate way to express the meaning of this word as other Arabic speakers testify?

Yes it could be translated as "most kind", but in what context? Most kind of whom exactly? Most kind of men? Most kind of all creatures? Most kind amongst everything in existence? Most kind of what?

Anthony fails to understand something so simple and basic and that is that just because the same words are applied to Allah and Muhammad (peace be upon him), that doesn't mean that they mean the SAME THING or have the SAME IMPLICATIONS in both cases.

Anthony is simply saying to himself "The Qur'an calls Allah compassionate, merciful and to Muhammad as well. Since the Qur'an calls Allah this several times and Muhammad is the only exception, this means that Muhammad is being deified here." This line of reasoning and argumentation is simply outrageous and baseless, for Anthony fails to examine the implications of the terms used in each context.

What is Anthony's shallow response to this?

He says:

One of the first problems with this response is that it simply isn't the case that the divine qualitiesraoofun raheemun are attributed to creatures in general in the Qur'an either in a limited or unlimited sense. Rather, these attributes are predicated of "Allah and Muhammad" and no one else.

How on earth is this relevant? So if there was a third person as an example then everything would be okay? The whole point of the verse is to honor the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) so obviously it wouldn't be a surprise to not see this term being thrown at everybody. What Anthony is failing to do is illustrate that the Qur'an teaches that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is compassionate and merciful at the same level as Allah.

Islam teaches that Allah is the source of all compassion and mercy. Does it also teach the same thing about Muhammad (peace be upon him)? If yes, then show me where. If no, then how is the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) being compassionate and merciful shirk?

Islam teaches that Allah is infinitely merciful with His mercy knowing unlimited bounds in accordance with His nature. Does Islam teach the same thing about Muhammad (peace be upon him)? If yes, then show me where. If no, then how is the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) being compassionate and merciful shirk?

Anthony fails to deal with these issues. Instead, just like Jochen Katz he just splits hairs and discusses irrelevant details and doesn't directly and convincingly address the core issue.

Anthony said:

In the case of these Muslims, appealing to man being made in Allah's image would not be an option for defending against the shirk of Surah 9:128.

Someone doesn't have to accept a certain interpretation of that hadith in order to know that human beings could be ascribed with God's attributes in a limited form. That hadith is a proof that we could use and not the only proof.

Anthony then throws out red herrings and talks about Salafism and anthropomorphism and God knows what, which have nothing to do with the topic at hand. Where do I begin with Anthony who is absolutely and totally ignorant of what Salafis believe? He makes this claim:

As if it couldn't get any worse, Bassam's own interpretive principles force him to believe that, in addition to a form and face, Allah has eyes, hands, shins and feet, and that Adam was a veritable physical duplicate of Allah. 

He also said:

If the teaching of these hadith about Adam being made in Allah's literal physical image or likeness are sound

What? Physical duplicate? Adam being made in Allah's physical image? Which Salafi has ever said that? What on earth is Anthony talking about? Does Anthony think he is actually qualified to speak about this subject just by reading a few articles on the internet here and there? Where do I even begin speaking to such an ignoramus on the subject? I'm honestly speechless. My advice to Anthony is to stay out of deep waters when he can barely even swim in the shallow end and fully grasp the basics of Islam first.

It's obvious that this trashy and red herring part of Anthony's article has come from no where else but Shamoun's trashy material, which we will address in a separate article.

Anthony said:

In other words, Bassam's argument for Muhammad being given Allah's attributes, if consistent, amounts to saying that there is Allah, who has these attributes to a greater degree, and there is man, who has these attributes to a lesser degree, which is just to say that Allah and man on this scheme are on a continuum.

It never fails to amuse me to see Christians shooting themselves in the foot.

Doesn't Christianity teach that human beings could be merciful, but in a finite sense? Yes. Doesn't Christianity teach that God is merciful, but in an infinite sense? Yes. So doesn't that in Anthony's own words "man being given God's attributes, if consistent, amounts to saying that there is God, who has these attributes to a greater degree, and there is man, who has these attributes to a lesser degree, which is just to say that God and man on this scheme are on a continuum."?

Furthermore, Anthony makes a very misleading statement. It's not a simple matter of God having these attributes to a "greater degree" that is quantifiable. Rather it is infinitely greater, hence God and man are not on a continuum.

This same argument applies to Christianity and I don't see why I would have to waste anymore time discussing basic Theology 101 in God and man's attributes.

 

In conclusion, Anthony hasn't proven his case.

 

 

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