Rebuttal To Sam Shamoun's Article "Muhammad The Doubter Still! Being Another Reply To A Dawagandist"
Shamoun wrote an article here in response to my article here. One must read both articles in order to comprehend what is going on in this rebuttal.
Sam Shamoun said:
If there had been no doubt at all, why would such a verse even be revealed, a verse without any application?
The reason is to indirectly, yet clearly communicate to the reader that the prediction of the coming of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is found in the previous scriptures.
Sam Shamoun said:
Second, Zawadi erroneously assumes that the word if cannot function the same way that the word since does, e.g. "since you have doubts then." To show how the words "if" and "since" can function as synonyms at times here is a text from the Quran where the "if" has the same meaning as "since":
Then they found one of Our servants unto whom We had given mercy from Us, and We had taught him knowledge proceeding from Us. Moses said to him, 'Shall I follow thee so that thou teachest me, of what thou hast been taught, right judgment?' Said he, 'Assuredly thou wilt not be able to bear with me patiently. And how shouldst thou bear patiently that thou hast never encompassed in thy knowledge?' He said, 'Yet thou shalt find me, if God will, patient; and I shall not rebel against thee in anything.' Said he, 'Then IF thou followest me, question me not on anything until I myself introduce the mention of it to thee.' S. 18:65-70
It is obvious that Moses' guide didn't doubt that the prophet wanted to accompany him since the latter already made his intention known that this is what he was seeking to do. This clearly shows that the "if" statement should be translated as since, i.e. "since you want to follow me then do not question me."
In a similar manner, we shouldn't take the "if" in Q. 10:94 as a denial that Muhammad had doubts, especially when he is expressly told not to be among the doubters. We should rather see the "if" functioning in the same way that the term "since" does, and the verse should therefore be rendered in the following manner:
And SINCE you are in doubt concerning that which we revealed unto you, then question those who read the Scripture before you. Verily the Truth has come to you from your Lord. SO DO NOT BE OF THOSE WHO DOUBT.
Lest we be accused of grossly distorting or misunderstanding the text we cite from a Salafi scholar who acknowledges that this verse was composed to alleviate Muhammad's lingering fears and unbelief:
4) Among his people, the Prophet was famously known for his truthfulness during the first forty years of his life; it logically follows, therefore, that he was also truthful with himself. So in studying the reality of revelation and what was happening to him he for sure realized that there was no need to doubt: what he was experiencing was real. As for the INITIAL FEARS he had, the following Verse refutes THEM:
"So if you (O Muhammad) are in doubt concerning that which We have revealed unto you, [i.e. that your name is written in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] then ask those who are reading the Book [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] before you. Verily, the truth has come to you from your Lord. So be not of those who doubt (it)." (Qur'an 10: 94)
It has been related that AFTER this Verse was revealed, the Prophet said, "I do not doubt, and I do not ask."
 Related by At-Tabaraanee (17906, 17908), with his chain from Qatadah. Also, refer to Tafseer Al-Qurtubi (8/340). (Dr. ?Ali Muhammad As-Sallabee, The Noble Life of the Prophet, translated by Faisal Shafeeq [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, First Edition: October 2005], Volume 1, p. 140; capital emphasis ours)
It is apparent that, taking for granted that what Zawadi says is correct, this Salafi Muslim was rather ignorant of how the word "if" functioned in the Arabic Quran. Didn't he know that this passage wasn't implying that Muhammad actually had doubts seeing that it uses an "if" clause?
Aside from Zawadi's erroneous assertion, what makes the comments of this scholar rather interesting is that not only does he candidly admit that Muhammad did have uncertainties concerning his calling but also says that his prophet's response that he will not doubt wasn't an indication that he didn't have any fears at all. Rather, Muhammad's statements meant that he wouldn't continue to have them anymore in light of the admonition of this verse! This exposition perfectly agrees with what we have been saying all along, namely, Muhammad continued to have fears for a considerable period of time which upset his deity so much that he had to constantly rebuke him until his doubts were finally gone.
First of all, I never said that the word 'if' could not imply that the verse is saying that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had doubts. My main argument was that it does not necessarily nor clearly imply such a thing and that the burden of proof is on Shamoun to show that it does.
I don't agree with Shamoun when he says that Surah 18:70 shows that the word 'if' actually means 'since'. The verse is not saying 'if you WANT to follow me', for if it did then Shamoun's reasoning...
since the latter already made his intention known that this is what he was seeking to do.
would make sense.
Rather, what Al Khidr is telling Musa is 'if you follow me', meaning 'if you actually do end up following me' and then he puts the condition. So the word 'if' is correctly translated as 'if' and I see no reason to translate it as 'since'.
Even if Shamoun was correct, his logic...
In a similar manner, we shouldn't take the "if" in Q. 10:94 as a denial that Muhammad had doubts, especially when he is expressly told not to be among the doubters.
does not really follow.
There is no reason to assume that the word 'if' in the verse necessarily means 'since' just because it could mean 'since' somewhere else.
Shamoun then appeals to Dr. 'Ali Muhammad As-Sallabee.
First of all, what Dr. Sallabee was referring to is the initial period of the revelation being sent down to the Prophet (peace be upon him) known as the Fatrah (see here) in which only during the initial stages of the revelation did the Prophet (peace be upon him) have doubts.
Surah 10, was revealed during the later stages in Makkah about a decade later.
I have no problem admitting that the Prophet (peace be upon him) initially had some doubts, for he is not like these people who convert to Christianity just by seeing a supernatural vision and by default assume that it is from God. Rather, he wanted to make sure and verify whether this vision was truly from God.
The ironic thing of it all is that it was a Christian (Waraqa) that ensured the Prophet (peace be upon him) that the revelations were really from God.
Also, the Prophet's response to the verse as it was revealed in no way indicates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) continued to have doubts up until that time. It could merely be interpreted as the Prophet (peace be upon him) reaffirming or making clear the fact that he has no doubts.
Shamoun, forgets that the Qur'an could directly speak to the Prophet (peace be upon him) at times while at the same time it is addressing man in general (e.g. 33:1-3, 39:65-66 and many others) Thus, it is very possible that Surah 10:94 is being intended for those that had doubts about the Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) as Imam Qurtubi, Tabari and other Qur'anic commentators have suggested.
The above has been said assuming that Shamoun can even show that Surah 10:94 does say that the Prophet (peace be upon him) has doubts, which he doesn't succeed in doing.
Now what I strongly oppose is Shamoun's argument that Muhammad (peace be upon him) continued to have doubts.
We have to examine what happened chronologically...
- The Prophet had doubts during the initial stages of revelation.
- Those doubts ended after the Prophet was reassured that they were from God.
- Surah 10:94 and other similar verses were revealed later to indirectly communicate that the coming of Muhammad (peace be upon him) is mentioned in the previous scriptures.
- Several Qur'anic verses and hadith show that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had no doubts and there is no evidence to suggest that the Prophet (peace be upon him) started having doubts again.
- We must attempt to harmonize between all Quranic verses and hadith, for this is proper Islamic hermeneutics and when one looks at the evidence clearly and honestly he cannot claim that the Prophet (peace be upon him) continued to have doubts.
Sam Shamoun said:
We come to the final point that we want to address for now. Zawadi says that Muhammad couldn't save anyone since he isn't God:
Yes the Prophet (peace be upon him) does not have the ability to save people from hellfire, for he doesn't decide the person's eternal fate. So what? He is not God. Muslims never claimed that he was. He is only a Prophet/Messenger. He has no divine powers.
Pay attention to the implications of Zawadi's formulation. Since Muhammad isn't God he cannot save anyone, which means that if he (or anyone else for that matter) could actually save a person from hell then this implies that he is God.
Zawadi's reasoning goes something like this:
- Only God can save people from hell.
- Muhammad was only a man who was uncertain about his own salvation (cf. Q. 18:110; 41:6; 46:9).
- Therefore, Muhammad cannot save anyone from hell.
Here is where Zawadi's inconsistency comes shining through. There are scores of passages where the Lord Jesus claims to be able to save people perfectly and redeem them from their sins:
"When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ?Son, your sins are forgiven. But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.'" Mark 2:5, 10
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:45
"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21
"Then Jesus said to her, ?Your sins are forgiven.' The other guests began to say among themselves, ?Who is this who even forgives sins?' Luke 7:48-49
"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." Luke 19:10
"Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." John 3:14-18
"For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out?those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned." John 5:21, 24-25, 28-29
"And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:39-40
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one." John 10:27-30
"Jesus said to her, ?Your brother will rise again.' Martha answered, ?I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.' Jesus said to her, ?I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?' ?Yes, Lord,' she told him, ?I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.'" John 11:23-27
"As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it." John 12:47
Notice what happens when we apply Zawadi's logic to the statements of the Lord Jesus:
- Only God can save people from hell.
- Jesus saves people from hell.
- Therefore, Jesus is God Almighty.
One needs to understand the above verses in light of other passages such as when Jesus claims...
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.
Thus, whatever Jesus can do is not by his own power and will, but by the will and permission of God.
So Jesus in John 5 can only give life to people by the will and power of God and not his own.
In John 6, he can only raise people up by the will and power of God and not his own.
As for Jesus being able to give eternal life, we have to read Jesus' statements in context in order to figure out what he meant when he uttered that statement.
A man once asked Jesus how to attain eternal life...
17As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
18"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good-except God alone. 19You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.'[a]"
20"Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy."
21Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
Other passages speaking about eternal life:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."
I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.
For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.
Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say."
He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me
Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.
Jesus is known to have spoken figuratively at times...
25"Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father.
So when Jesus said that he "gives eternal life" it means that if you believe in him and the word that he came to preach from God the Father and follow the commandments then you will inherit eternal life. This applies to every prophet, including Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). I believe that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had the authority to give eternal life. The eternal life is the words of God (Quran) and if I abide by them and believe in the Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and all the other prophets (peace be upon them all) then I can inherit eternal life, Allah willing.
Therefore, in a figurative sense Jesus was given the authority to give eternal life (John 17:2) because he was the one whom God has sent to give and share His commands to the people so that if they believe in them they will go to paradise. Jesus gave the key to eternal life to people through his preaching the word of God (John 12:49-50). Not his words, but the words of the Father (John 14:24).
So not only did Jesus give eternal life, but so did all the Prophets who shared the words of life (words of God) to their people.
Similarly, I can argue that in this way Jesus was able to save the world, save people from their sins and so on.
As for Jesus being able to forgive people's sins, well the disciples were also able to do the same thing...
If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.
So does that make the disciples divine as well?
One might argue back that the disciples were only informing the people that their sins were forgiven and not that they actually had the authority to do such a thing.
Well then, why can't I argue back the same thing in regards to Jesus? Since Jesus was saying what the Father told him to say and was not speaking from his own self, then maybe he was only informing people that their sins were forgiven and wasn't actually doing the forgiving himself? Why not argue the same thing for Jesus as is being done for the disciples?
Plus, if we examine the context of the passage...
But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home." 7And the man got up and went home. 8When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.
We see that the people did not believe that Jesus was God for forgiving sins. Rather, they were aware of the fact that Jesus was only a man and that God GAVE him the authority to forgive sins.
The one who is divine is the one that gives and is independent and not the other way around like Jesus.
Sam Shamoun said:
Moreover, even though the Quran says Muhammad was a weak, sinful mortal it further teaches that Muhammad had the ability to purify people from their sins:
Truly God was gracious to the believers when He raised up among them a Messenger from themselves, to recite to them His signs and to purify them, and to teach them the Book and the Wisdom, though before they were in manifest error. S. 3:164
It is He who has raised up from among the common people a Messenger from among them, to recite His signs to them and to purify them, and to teach them the Book and the Wisdom, though before that they were in manifest error, S. 62:2
The hadith literature takes this a step further and states that he will even save people from hell:
Narrated Ma'bad bin Hilal Al'Anzi:
We, i.e., some people from Basra gathered and went to Anas bin Malik, and we went in company with Thabit Al-Bunnani so that he might ask him about the Hadith of Intercession on our behalf. Behold, Anas was in his palace, and our arrival coincided with his Duha prayer. We asked permission to enter and he admitted us while he was sitting on his bed. We said to Thabit, "Do not ask him about anything else first but the Hadith of Intercession." He said, "O Abu Hamza! There are your brethren from Basra coming to ask you about the Hadith of Intercession." Anas then said, "Muhammad talked to us saying, ?On the Day of Resurrection the people will surge with each other like waves, and then they will come to Adam and say, 'Please intercede for us with your Lord.' He will say, ?I am not fit for that but you'd better go to Abraham as he is the Khalil of the Beneficent.' They will go to Abraham and he will say, ?I am not fit for that, but you'd better go to Moses as he is the one to whom Allah spoke directly.' So they will go to Moses and he will say, ?I am not fit for that, but you'd better go to Jesus as he is a soul created by Allah and His Word.' (Be: And it was) they will go to Jesus and he will say, ?I am not fit for that, but you'd better go to Muhammad.'
They would come to me and I would say, ?I am for that.' Then I will ask for my Lord's permission, and it will be given, and then He will inspire me to praise Him with such praises as I do not know now. So I will praise Him with those praises and will fall down, prostrate before Him. Then it will be said, ?O Muhammad, raise your head and speak, for you will be listened to; and ask, for your will be granted (your request); and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted.' I will say, ?O Lord, my followers! My followers!' And then it will be said, ?Go and take out of Hell (Fire) all those who have faith in their hearts, equal to the weight of a barley grain.' I will go and do so and return to praise Him with the same praises, and fall down (prostrate) before Him. Then it will be said, 'O Muhammad, raise your head and speak, for you will be listened to, and ask, for you will be granted (your request); and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted.' I will say, ?O Lord, my followers! My followers!' It will be said, 'Go and take out of it all those who have faith in their hearts equal to the weight of a small ant or a mustard seed.' I will go and do so and return to praise Him with the same praises, and fall down in prostration before Him. It will be said, ?O, Muhammad, raise your head and speak, for you will be listened to, and ask, for you will be granted (your request); and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted.' I will say, ?O Lord, my followers!' Then He will say, 'Go and take out (all those) in whose hearts there is faith even to the lightest, lightest mustard seed. (Take them) out of the Fire.' I will go and do so."
When we left Anas, I said to some of my companions, "Let's pass by Al-Hasan who is hiding himself in the house of Abi Khalifa and request him to tell us what Anas bin Malik has told us." So we went to him and we greeted him and he admitted us. We said to him, "O Abu Said! We came to you from your brother Anas Bin Malik and he related to us a Hadith about the intercession the like of which I have never heard." He said, "What is that?" Then we told him of the Hadith and said, "He stopped at this point (of the Hadith)." He said, "What then?" We said, "He did not add anything to that." He said, Anas related the Hadith to me twenty years ago when he was a young fellow. I don't know whether he forgot or if he did not like to let you depend on what he might have said." We said, "O Abu Said! Let us know that." He smiled and said, "Man was created hasty. I did not mention that, but that I wanted to inform you of it.
Anas told me the same as he told you and said that the Prophet added, ?I then return for a fourth time and praise Him similarly and prostrate before Him me the same as he ?O Muhammad, raise your head and speak, for you will be listened to; and ask, for you will be granted (your request): and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted.' I will say, ?O Lord, allow me to intercede for whoever said, ?None has the right to be worshiped except Allah.' Then Allah will say, ?By my Power, and my Majesty, and by My Supremacy, and by My Greatness, I will take out of Hell (Fire) whoever said: 'None has the right to be worshipped except Allah.'" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 601)
So we now have a major contradiction in the Quran since Zawadi's reasoning leads to the conclusion that Muhammad is god which his Muslim scripture emphatically denies. Here, once again, is Zawadi's logic and how it causes problems for his beliefs:
- Only God saves people from hell.
- Muhammad saves people from hell.
- Therefore, Muhammad is god.
- Yet Muhammad is only a man.
- If he is only a man then he cannot save anyone from hell.
- Therefore, we have a clear-cut contradiction in the Quran.
How does the Prophet (peace be upon him) purify the people?
Ibn Abbas states...
Allah then mentions his blessings on them, saying: (Allah verily hath shown grace to the believers by sending unto them a messenger) of the Children of Adam whose lineage is well known (of their own) an Arab, like them, from the tribe of the Quraysh (who reciteth unto them His revelations) the Qur'an containing commands and prohibitions, (and causeth them to grow) he purifies them by means of the attestation of Allah's divine Oneness from idolatry as well as by cleansing them from their sins, (and teacheth them the Scripture) the Qur'an (and wisdom) the lawful and the prohibited; (although before) the advent of Muhammad and the Qur'an (they were in flagrant error) they were adherents of disbelief. (Ibn Abbaas, Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn 'Abbâs, Commentary on Surah 3:164, Source)
Allah then explained to the Prophet (pbuh) what he should take of their wealth because they had asked him to take some of it because they had stayed behind and not taken part in the Battle of Tabuk. But the Prophet (pbuh) initially refused to take anything from them until, that is, Allah explained the matter to him, saying: (Take alms) a third (of their wealth) the wealth of those who stayed behind, wherewith thou mayst purify them) from their sins (and mayst make them grow) and reform them with it, (and pray for them) ask forgiveness for them and make supplication for them. (Lo! Your prayer) your asking for their forgiveness and your supplications (is an assuagement for them) tranquillity for their hearts that their repentance will be accepted. (Allah is Hearer) of what they say, i.e. their saying: take our wealth, (Knower) of their repentance and intention. (Ibn Abbaas, Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn 'Abbâs, Commentary on Surah 9:103, Source)
Al Suyuti states...
It is He Who sent to the unlettered [folk], [among] the Arabs (ummī means 'one who cannot write or read a book'), a messenger from among them, namely, Muhammad (s), to recite to them His signs, the Qur'ān, and to purify them, to cleanse them from idolatry, and to teach them the Book, the Qur'ān, and wisdom, [in] the rulings that it contains, though indeed (wa-in: in has been softened from the hardened form, with its subject having been omitted, that is to say, [understand it as] wa-innahum) before that, [before] his coming, they had been in manifest error. (Jalal ud-Din Siyuti, Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Commentary on Surah 62:2, Source)
Take of their wealth some alms, to purify them and to cleanse them thereby, of their sins; he thus took a third of their wealth and gave it away as charity; and pray for them, that is, supplicate for them; truly your prayers are a comfort, a mercy, for them: it is also said [to mean] reassurance [for them], that their repentance has been accepted. And God is Hearer, Knower. (Jalal ud-Din Siyuti, Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Commentary on Surah 9:103, Source)
So here we see that the Prophet (peace be upon him) purifies the people by calling them away from idolatry and evil sins. He also does it by taking wealth from the people, which they pay as charity and that will cleanse their sins, for giving charity will do so.
So it is Allah purifying the people through the Prophet (peace be upon him).
Allah is said to be the one teaching the Qur'an (Surah 55:2) but through His Messenger (Surah 3:164).
Allah is said to take the souls at night (Surah 39:42) but through His angels (Surah 4:97, 32:11)
Allah is said to be the one who guides people (Surah 28:56) but through his Messenger (Surah 13:7).
We see in Surah 7:157 that the Prophet can make things forbidden and permissible but only if Allah informs him and gives him permission to do so (Surah 66:1)
So Allah purifies the people by sending his Prophets so that people may follow them since they carry the message of God with them. So it is not the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) purifying the people with his own power and will.
As for the hadith on the intercession, how do those show that the Prophet (peace be upon him) can save people from hell by his own power?
Eventually the ultimate decision lies with God who gives permission to whom He wills to intercede to Him:
Allah! La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists. Neither slumber, nor sleep overtake Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on earth. Who is he that can intercede with Him except with His Permission? He knows what happens to them (His creatures) in this world, and what will happen to them in the Hereafter . And they will never compass anything of His Knowledge except that which He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them. And He is the Most High, the Most Great. [This Verse 2:255 is called Ayat-ul-Kursi.]
Thus, Shamoun has failed to show that Muhammad (peace be upon him) could independently do these acts according to Islamic sources. The same goes for Jesus in the Gospels.
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