Refuting Sam Shamoun's Arguments Against The Monotheism of Islam: Part 2

Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun's Article "Is Allah the Only Judge and Forgiver of Sins?: Being a Response to Bassam Zawadi"

 

[Introduction, Sami Zaatari's Rebuttals to Shamoun, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Tawassul in Christianity]

 

 

By

 

Bassam Zawadi

 

 

Sam Shamoun originally wrote a piece, which I responded to over here, but he has written a counter response here. I suggest everyone reads the previous articles before proceeding.

 

Sam Shamoun said:

 

Now let us contrast this with what the following reference says regarding obeying Muhammad in everything and making him a judge in every decision:

But no, by your Lord, they can have no Faith, until they make you (O Muhammad SAW) judge IN ALL DISPUTES between them, and find in themselves NO RESISTANCE against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission. S. 4:65 Hilali-Khan

Muhammad is to have the final say in all matters, not just some, and those who oppose his rule are disbelievers. In fact, one commentator mentions that Umar ibn al-Khattab actually killed a man, striking him down with his sword, for refusing to submit to Muhammad's decision in a matter:

My Response:

 

Shamoun needs to read the verse a bit more carefully. It does not make an absolute statement that Muhammad (peace be upon him) has the final say in ALL MATTERS, rather it states that he is the judge in all disputes between the people. The verse states:

 

But no, by your Lord, they can have no Faith, until they make you (O Muhammad SAW) judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission.

 

The phrase "between them" is crucial, for it means that is specifically talking about judging between the affairs of the people.

 

Imam Al Tabari states:

 

 

Until they make you the judge between them in regards to their affairs. (Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Jami' al-bayan fi ta'wil al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 4:65, Source)

 

 

Therefore, we see that in no way does this imply that Muhammad (peace be upon him) judges ALL MATTERS, especially those crucial matters like the fate of the person on the Day of Judgment. How could that be when the Prophet (peace be upon him) would want his mother or uncle Abu Talib to be forgiven, yet he has no authority to ensure that this happens? If he was the judge in ALL MATTERS, then he could have ensured that couldn't he?

 

Furthermore, the phrase "in all disputes" is not there in the Arabic text, which is why translations like Pickthall, Shakir, Sher Ali, Arberry, Palmer, Rodwell and Sale are more accurate on this verse.

 

 

Sam Shamoun said:

 

More importantly, pay close attention to what the verse actually says as we quote it one more time:

But nay, by thy Lord, they will not believe (in truth) until they make thee judge of what is in dispute between them and find within themselves no dislike of that which thou decidest, and submit with full submission. Pickthall

Notice how Muslims are commanded to completely submit themselves to Muhammad's orders, just as one noted Sufi writer admitted:

When the best generation of humankind ever to walk the earth realized that the Lord of the Heaven was addressing them directly with His timeless Speech in the language which they had mastered better than any human nation ever mastered a language, they realized that not only had Allah Almighty deputized the worthiest of them as the carrier of the final Message to humanity, but He had also made belief in that most honorable, most distinguished, and most accomplished Messenger - our liege-lord Muhammad - an integral condition of belief in Allah Himself by saying repeatedly "Believe in Allah AND the Messenger."

They also heard Allah again and again command them to "Obey Allah AND the Messenger." They also realized that Allah Almighty stressed to them that this Messenger was their paramount model of behavior and of belief in Allah and the Last Day. They also heard and understood it meant they had to follow him and love him before they could claim to follow and love Allah.

They further understood the required levels of following the Prophet properly and truly on which one's actual belief in Allah Most High depended: {But nay, by your Lord! they will not believe (in truth) until they make you judge of what is in dispute between them}. But to make the Prophet judge is not enough, this must be done without any mental reservation toward the Prophet and his decision: {and find within themselves no dislike of that which you decide}. Even this unalloyed acceptance of the Prophet's judgment is not enough, there must be full embrace of the heart, mind and soul for the Prophet: {and submit with full submission} (4:65)! (Gibril Fouad Haddad, The Story of Hadith - On Obeying, Following, Imitating, And Loving Prophet Muhammad; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Hence, one cannot be a true Muslim by simply submitting to Allah. No, to be a true Muslim one must completely submit oneself to Allah AND his messenger.

 

My Response:

 

Of course someone is to have full submission to what the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, for this is what Allah commands us to do! If Allah didn't command us to do it, then we wouldn't do it!

 

Shamoun's God commands Christians to engage in full submission to their parents:

 

Colossians 3:20

 

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

 

Does that mean that the Bible now teaches that parents are on the same level as God? We hope Shamoun is realizing just how silly his arguments are becoming.

 

Also, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) made it clear that we don't have to submit to literally EVERYTHING that he says, for he said:

 

Saheeh Muslim

 

Book 030, Number 5831

 

I am a human being, so when I command you about a thing pertaining to religion, do accept it, and when I command you about a thing out of my personal opinion, keep it in mind that I am a human being.

 

The Prophet (peace be upon him) told us that we don't have to follow everything that he says, for sometimes he could say things that don't pertain to religion. The Prophet (peace be upon him) made it clear that we only follow what he says when it comes to matter pertaining to religion. Why is that? Well it is because matters of religion are revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) by Allah, which means that Allah is the ultimate one to obey and submit to and not the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself.

 

Sam Shamoun said:

 

Returning to the issue at hand, is Pickthall alone in rendering the Arabic in the manner which he did? Not at all, since the following Muslim source also translated the Arabic of Q. 4:64 in the same manner:

(We sent no messenger save that he) that the messenger (should be obeyed by Allah's leave) by Allah's command; We do not send him so that he is opposed or has his judgement rejected by turning away from him. (And if, when they) those who built the counter mosque and Hatib (had wronged themselves) by so building it and turning away from you, (they had but come unto thee) to repent (and asked forgiveness of Allah) repented to Allah for their actions (AND ASKED FORGIVENESS OF THE MESSENGER) and the Messenger prayed for them, (they would have found Allah Forgiving) He overlooks their transgressions, (Merciful) He is after repentance. (Tanwr al-Miqbs min Tafsr Ibn 'Abbs; source; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)

Moreover, does the alternate rendering which Zawadi proposes really impact the meaning and thereby nullify our point? Not in the least since the reference says that in order for Allah to forgive these sinners they must come to Muhammad:

We sent no Messenger, but to be obeyed by Allah's Leave. If they (hypocrites), when they had been unjust to themselves, HAD COME TO YOU (Muhammad SAW) and begged Allah's Forgiveness, and the Messenger had begged forgiveness for them: indeed, they would have found Allah All-Forgiving (One Who accepts repentance), Most Merciful. Hilali-Khan

This makes coming to Muhammad synonymous with begging Allah which means that Muhammad does indeed share in Allah's decisions, whether such decisions relate to forgiveness or other issues. As renowned Sunni exegete Ibn Kathir put it:

directs the sinners and evildoers, when they commit errors and mistakes, to come to the Messenger, so that they ask Allah for forgiveness IN HIS PRESENCE and ask him to supplicate to Allah to forgive them. If they do this, Allah will forgive them and award them His mercy and pardon. This is why Allah said.

. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir; source; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Forgiveness here is made incumbent upon the Muslims coming to Muhammad, with the implication being that if they did not come to him they would not be forgiven. With this in mind is it any wonder that Pickthall and the above translator(s) of Ibn Abbas rendered the Arabic to mean that the people had to come and ask Muhammad to forgive their sins since this is basically what they did? To put it another way, why didn't these Muslims simply confess their sins to Allah without having to go to Muhammad if he wasn't somehow involved in assuring that their sins would be forgiven? The answer? Because to come before Muhammad is to go or stand before Allah since Allah decided to make his forgiveness dependent on Muhammad.

My Response:

 

Shamoun said:

 

Forgiveness here is made incumbent upon the Muslims coming to Muhammad, with the implication being that if they did not come to him they would not be forgiven

 

So that means that according to Shamoun, all Muslims after the time of Muhammad (peace be upon him) could not seek repentance since it is a requirement for them to go to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)!!! This is absolutely ludicrous. Why is that no companions understood this verse to mean that? It seems like Shamoun is living in his own fantasy world where he thinks he can go off interpreting scripture the way he pleases.

 

Shamoun needs to bear in mind that Surah 4:64 was revealed in a specific context about a particular group of hypocrites who took their judgment to someone else instead of the Prophet (see the commentaries of Al Tabari, Az Zamakhshari and Ar Razi) and that Allah made it a specific condition for them to go to the Prophet (peace be upon him) in order to elevate the rank of the Prophet (peace be upon him). This is sometimes done in order to elevate the rank of people. For example, once the Prophet (peace be upon him) once told Abu Bakr and Umar to go to Uwais Al Qarni and have him pray for them. That doesn't mean that they were doomed if they did not, it was mostly to elevate Uwais' rank. Similarly, Allah in this specific context elevated the rank of the Prophet (peace be upon him) so that these people could understand that it is the Prophet (peace be upon him) whom they should refer their judgments to and not someone else.

 

Sam Shamoun said:

 

More importantly, there is a text which explicitly attests that Muhammad does forgive sinners, thereby supporting our understanding of Q. 4:64:

Of their goods, take alms, that so THOU mightest purify and sanctify them; and pray on their behalf. Verily thy prayers are a source of security for them: And God is One Who heareth and knoweth. S. 9:103 Y. Ali

Lest Zawadi accuse us of relying on one translation which happens to support our agenda note how these other versions render this same passage:

O dear Prophet (Mohammed - peace and blessings be upon him) take the obligatory charity from their wealth, by which YOU may cleanse them and make them pure, and pray in their favour. Mohammed Aqib Farid Qadri (*)

(Prophet!) take a portion of their possessions as Zakt so that YOU may thereby purify them (of their evils) and enhance them in their virtuous deeds, and pray for them. Abdul Mannan Omer (*)

. YOU will cleanse and purify them by means of it. Pray for them. T.B. Irving

. wherewith THOU mayst purify them and mayst make them grow, and pray for them. Pickthall

. so that THOU mayest cleanse them thereby and cause them to grow in purity, and pray for them. Muhammad Asad (*)

. THOU wouldst cleanse them and purify them thereby - and pray for them. Muhammad Ali (*)

. thereby THOU wilt cleanse them and purify them; and pray thou for them. Daryabadi

. that THOU mayest purify them thereby and provide for their uplift and welfare; and pray for them. Muhammad Zafrulla Khan

. YOU would cleanse them and purify them thereby, and pray for them . Shakir

. so that THOU mayest cleanse them and purify them thereby. And pray for them. Sher Ali

. by which YOU purify them and cause them increase, and invoke [Allah's blessings] upon them. Al-Muntada Alislami (*)

. that THOU mayst cleanse and purify them thereby, and pray for them. Rodwell

. that THOU mayest cleanse them, and purify them thereby; and pray for them. Sale

And here is how the two Jalals interpreted this reference:

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. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source; bold and italic emphasis ours)

Nor is this the only text which says Muhammad purifies people:

Indeed Allah conferred a great favour on the believers when He sent among them a Messenger (Muhammad SAW) from among themselves, reciting unto them His Verses (the Qur'an), and purifying them (from sins by their following him), and instructing them (in) the Book (the Qur'an) and Al-Hikmah [the wisdom and the Sunnah of the Prophet SAW (i.e. his legal ways, statements, acts of worship, etc.)], while before that they had been in manifest error. S. 3:164 Hilali-Khan

He it is Who sent among the unlettered ones a Messenger (Muhammad SAW) from among themselves, reciting to them His Verses, purifying them (from the filth of disbelief and polytheism), and teaching them the Book (this Qur'an, Islamic laws and Islamic jurisprudence) and Al-Hikmah (As-Sunnah: legal ways, orders, acts of worship, etc. of Prophet Muhammad SAW). And verily, they had been before in manifest error; S. 62:2 Hilali-Khan

Now seeing how the Quran admits that only Allah can forgive sins and that he is the one who purifies people:

And those who, having done something to be ashamed of, or wronged their own souls, earnestly bring God to mind, and ask for forgiveness for their sins, - and who can forgive sins except God? - and are never obstinate in persisting knowingly in (the wrong) they have done. S. 3:135 Y. Ali

O ye who believe! follow not Satan's footsteps: if any will follow the footsteps of Satan, he will (but) command what is shameful and wrong: and were it not for the grace and mercy of God on you, not one of you would ever have been pure: but God doth purify whom He pleases: and God is One Who hears and knows (all things). S. 24:21 Y. Ali

Doesn't this further prove that Muhammad does share in Allah's rule, Allah's decisions, as well as in his ability to forgive and purify sinners? And wouldn't this imply that the Quran is deifying Muhammad, granting him a status and characteristics which belong only to God?(1) More on Muhammad's deification and sharing in Allah's authority shortly.

 

My Response:

 

Shamoun is wrong again, no where do the verses say that the Prophet (peace be upon him) forgives sinners. It only says that he purifies and sanctifies them. How is that done? Well Shamoun provided us the answer when he cited the commentary of Jalalayn, which states:

 

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. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source; bold and italic emphasis ours)

 

Notice how the Prophet (peace be upon him) 'purifies'. He purifies the people by ensuring that they do good deeds and prays for them to see that their repentance is accepted and their sins are wiped clean. The same could be seen when a group of people once approached Umar ibn Al Khattab saying to him to accept their charity and spend it on their behalf so that "you can purify us" [ ] (see Musnad Ahmad, Volume 1, Hadith no. 117. Ahmad Shakir declared its isnaad to be authentic and so did Ibn Hazm in his Al Muhalla, Volume 5, page 229).

 

That is how the Prophet (peace be upon him) purifies! He can't choose to forgive whom he wants, for if that was the case then he would forgive his disbelieving mother and uncle.

 

 

Sam Shamoun said:

 

Zawadi attacks a straw man by saying that,

Indeed, we human beings can forgive people's shortcomings but that doesn't make us God.

We are not talking about forgiving or overlooking another person's shortcomings, or of pardoning someone's crimes that have been committed against us. Rather, we are talking about forgiveness of sins in the context of salvation, in relation to one's ultimate destiny or eternal fate, which is something that only God can perform and guarantee. Yet the Quran says Muhammad shares in this ability as well.

 

My Response:

 

Where has Shamoun shown us the Prophet (peace be upon him) having independent authority to forgive people's sins and secure their salvation?

 

Sam Shamoun said:

 

Now there is a way for Zawadi to resolve all of these problems, and that is to simply acknowledge that the author of the Quran failed to express his views clearly. Zawadi can opt for the position that the author meant to say one thing but ended up saying something completely different by failing to write or communicate his/her thoughts correctly. Yet to take this stance is to basically admit what the unbelievers have been saying along, namely, the Quran is not the Arabic masterpiece or the standard of linguistic eloquence that Muslims believe it to be but is a rather incoherent and unintelligible book for the most part

My Response:

 

Sorry Shamoun, I opted for a better way and that is that I exposed your misinterpretations of the Qur'anic passages. The Qur'an is crystal clear on the issue; you just have a diseased heart and are desperate to launch any argument against Islam that you can think of.

 

 

 

 

 

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