Allah As An Exalted Shakhs
How the Claims of A Leading Muslim Taqiyyist
Prove That Allah Is An Imperfect Man
On November 9, 1996, Dr. Jamal Badawi and Dr. Robert Morey engaged in two debates titled, “Is Allah of the Quran the True Universal God?”, and “Is the Quran the Word of God?”.
As a result, we are now in a better position to critique the arguments which Badawi used in these particular exchanges, and expose more of his distortions, since the readers can actually hear his claims for themselves.
In this particular article, we are going to examine what Badawi said concerning Allah being personal in order to show how his assertions end up proving that the Islamic deity is an imperfect, finite being who is limited to time and place.
At the 44-minute mark of the debate, “Is Allah of the Quran the True Universal God?”, Badawi responded to Morey’s assertion that Allah is not personal by noting that,
“in the Indo-European languages, the term personal or person actually mean, in the theological sense, absolute perfection, and I give you the reference for that (I have a reference for it), which is precisely what the Quran really teaches, as one Western writer indicated (Encyclopedia of Islam). But in the Arabic language, the equivalent of person is known as shakhs. In the Arabic language, the term has not undergone the transformation which it did in Indo-European languages. So when you ask a Muslim, you say ‘Is Allah shakhs,’ he’ll say no because shakhs in Arabic has ONLY one meaning, a person, a human being, physical, limited being.” (*)
This statement is rather incriminating since Badawi forgot to mention, or he may have never read, the hadiths which clearly describe Allah as a shakhs!
(20) Chapter. The statement of the Prophet: “No PERSON (Shakhs) has more Ghaira than Allah.”
7416. Narrated Al-Mughira: Sa‘d bin ‘Ubada said, “If I saw a man with my wife, I would strike him (behead him) with the blade of my sword.” This news reached Allah's Apostle who then said, “You people are astonished at Sa'd's Ghaira. By Allah, I have more Ghaira than he, and Allah has more Ghaira than I, and because of Allah's Ghaira, He has made unlawful shameful deeds and sins (illegal sexual intercourse etc.) done in open and in secret. And there is none (la ahad) who likes that the people should repent to Him and beg His pardon than Allah, and for this reason He sent the warners and the Mubashshirun (givers of glad tidings). And there is none (la ahad) who likes to be praised more than Allah does, and for this reason, Allah promised to grant Paradise (to the doers of good)."
‘Abdul Malik said, “No PERSON (Shakhs) has more Ghaira than Allah.” (The Translation of the Meanings of Sahih Al-Bukhari, translated by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 1997], Volume 9, Ahadith 6861 to 7563, pp. 308-309; capital emphasis ours)
Here is a link to the older and slightly different version of Dr. Khan’s translation, which is Volume 9, Book 93, Number 512.
And here is how Aisha Bewley translated this particular report:
XX. The words of the Prophet, "There is no PERSON more jealous than Allah"
6980. Al-Mughira said that Asa'd ibn 'Ubada said, "If I were to see a man with my wife, I would strike him with the sharp edge of a sword!" The Prophet heard about that and said, "Are you amazed at the jealousy of Sa'd? By Allah, I am more jealous than him, and Allah is more jealous than me. It is because of Allah's jealousy that He has forbidden lewd actions, public and secret. There is none who loves the apology more than Allah and it is for this that He sent those who give good news and warning. There is no one who likes to be praised more than Allah. Allah has promised the Garden because of that." (Bewley, The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, 100. Book of Tawhid (the belief that Allah is One in His Essence, Attributes and Actions); *)
This narration also appears in some of the other hadith collections such as the following:
Narrated by Ubaydullah bin Al-Qawareery and Abu Kaamel Fadeel bin Hussein Al-Jahdary; and the narration belongs to Abu Kaamel. They said, Abu Awaanah narrated from Abdul-Malik bin Umayr, from Warraad; The scribe of Al-Mughirah, from Al-Mughirah who said:
"Saad bin Ubada said, ‘If I saw a man with my wife, I would have struck her by the sword with no forgiveness.’ When this reached the prophet of Allah he (the prophet) said: ‘Are you amazed at Sa'd's jealousy? By Allah, I am more jealous than Sa'd, and Allah is more jealous than I. Because of Allah’s jealousy He (Allah) forbade immorality whether it is done in the open or in secret. And there is no PERSON (shakhs) who is more jealous than Allah, and nothing is more loved by him (by Allah) than to ask for forgiveness, for this reason He sent the prophets to share the good news and to warn. And there is no PERSON (shakhs) who likes a praise more than Allah, and for this reason, he (Allah) promised heaven.’” (Sahih Muslim, The Book of Cursing, Number 1499)
Narrated by Zachariah bin Udai, narrated by Ubaid bin Amro, from Abdul-Malik bin Umayr, from Warrad the slave of Al-Mughirah, from Al-Mugheerah who said:
The prophet of Allah stated that Sa‘d bin ‘Ubada is saying, “If I saw a man with her, I would have struck her by the sword with no forgiveness.” The prophet of Allah said: “Are you amazed at Sa'd's jealousy? I am more jealous than Sa'd, and Allah is more jealous than I, for this reason He (Allah) forbad immorality whether it is done in the open or in secret. And there is no PERSON (shakhs) more jealous than Allah, and nothing more loved by him than to present evidences for that reason He sent the prophets to share the good news and to warn. And there is no PERSON (shakhs) who likes to be praised more than Allah, and for this reason, he (Allah) promised heaven.” (Sunan al-Darimi, Number 2227)
Narrated by Hishaam bin Abdul-Malik, the father of Al-Waleed. He narrated from Abu Awaanah, from Warraad; the scribe of Al-Mughirah, from Al-Mugheerah bin Shu’bah who said:
“Saad bin Ubada said, ‘If I saw a man with my wife, I would have struck her by the sword with no forgiveness.’ When this reached the prophet of Allah, he (the prophet) said: ‘Are you amazed at Sa'd's jealousy” By Allah, I am more jealous than Sa'd, and Allah is more jealous than I. Because of Allah’s jealousy He (Allah) forbade immorality whether it is done in the open or in secret. And there is no PERSON (shakhs) who is more jealous than Allah, and nothing is more loved by him (by Allah) than to ask for forgiveness, for this reason He sent the prophets to share the good news and to warn. And there is no PERSON (shakhs) who likes a praise more than Allah, and for this reason, he (Allah) promised heaven.’” (Musnad Ahmad, Number 17703)
The statements of Muhammad and his followers that there is no shakhs or person that is more jealous than Allah presupposes that the Muslim deity is a shakhs himself; otherwise, it would make absolutely no sense to say that Allah is more jealous or has more honor than any other shakhs if he weren’t one.(1)
This fact is brought out more clearly by the following narrations which also address the issue of Allah’s ghaira:
Narrated Abu Wail:
'Abdullah (bin Mas'ud) said, "NONE (la ahad) has more sense of ghaira than Allah therefore - He prohibits shameful sins (illegal sexual intercourse, etc.) whether committed openly or secretly. And NONE (wa la shay) loves to be praised more than Allah does, and for this reason He praises Himself." I asked Abu Wali, "Did you hear it from Abdullah?" He said, "Yes," I said, "Did Abdullah ascribe it to Allah's Apostle?" He said, "Yes." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 158)
Narrated Abdullah bin Mas'ud:
Allah's Apostle said, "None (la ahad) has more sense of ghaira than Allah, and for this He has forbidden shameful sins whether committed openly or secretly, and none (wa la ahad) loves to be praised more than Allah does, and this is why He Praises Himself." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 161)
There can be no question that these hadiths describe Allah as an ahad and shay since this is precisely what the Quran says Allah is:
Say (O Muhammad): "What thing (shay-in) is the most great in witness?" Say: "Allah (the Most Great!) is Witness between me and you; this Qur'an has been revealed to me that I may therewith warn you and whomsoever it may reach. Can you verily bear witness that besides Allah there are other aliha (gods)?" Say "I bear no (such) witness!" Say: "But in truth He (Allah) is the only one Ilah (God). And truly I am innocent of what you join in worship with Him." S. 6:19 Hilali-Khan
And call not upon another god with God; there is no god but He. All things (shay-in) perish, except His Face. His is the Judgment, and unto Him you shall be returned. S. 28:88 Arberry
Does he think that no one (ahadun) has power over him? … Does he think that no one (ahadun) sees him? S. 90:5, 7 Shakir
Say: 'He is God, One (ahadun), S. 112:1 Arberry
In fact, in one of the headings for Sahih al-Bukhari we find the following admission:
XXI. "Say: 'What thing is greatest as a witness?' Say: 'Allah. '" (6:19)
Allah Almighty called Himself a thing, and the Prophet called the Qur'an a thing, and it is one of the attributes of Allah. He says, "All things are passing except His Face." (28:88) (Aish Bewley, 100. Book of Tawhid (the belief that Allah is One in His Essence, Attributes and Actions): *; bold emphasis ourss)
In light of the foregoing, just as Muslims cannot deny that Allah is being classified as an ahad and shay according to these hadiths, they also can't argue against the fact that Muhammad and his followers categorized the Islamic deity as a shakhs.(1)
Thus, not only is Allah a shakhs according to the sound ahadith attributed to Muhammad, he actually happens to be one of many shakhs!
This means that, per Badawi’s argument regarding the meaning of shakhs, Muhammad must have believed that his god is “a human being, a physical, limited being.” Notice how this works out logically:
- Shakhs only refers to a human being, or a physical, limited being.
- The sahih ahadith teach that Allah is a shakhs.
- Allah must therefore be a human being, or a physical, limited being.
As Dr. Wesley Williams, a scholar of Islamic studies, states,
Al-Bukhari and Muslim report a hadith from the Prophet on the authority of the Companion of Al-Mughira b. Shu‘ba: “No shakhs is more jealous than Allah; no shakhs is more pleased to grant pardon than He; no shakhs loves praiseworthy conduct more than He.”68 Allah is thus a shakhs. The term shakhs is usually translated as ‘corporeal person.’ It connotes “the bodily or corporeal form or figure or substance (suwad) of a man,” or “something possessing height (irtifa‘) and visibility (zuhur),”69 Ibn Manzur informs us in his Lisan al-‘Arab (7, 45, 4-11). Ibn al-Jawzi, in his Kitab Akhbar al-Sifat 53-54, admits as well that the term shakhs implies existence of a body (jism) composed of parts, for one terms something a shakhs because it possesses corporeality (shukhus) and height (irtifa).” God, we are thus informed, is a person with a physical body.
As a shakhs the God of the Sunna has a visible form (sura), and it is anthropomorphic. According to a sahih (sound) report Adam’s form is a likeness of this divine form.
68 Bukhari, Sahih, tawhid, 20:512; Muslim, Sahih, li‘an, 17; Ibn Hanbal, Musnad IV:248; Nisa’i, al-Sunan, nikah, 37, 3.
69 See also Lane, Arabic Lexicon, 2:1517. (Williams, God in Islamic Tradition: Transcendent Anthropomorphism, 4.1 The Form of God; bold emphasis ours)
The hadiths further corroborate that Allah is actually a physical being that is limited to space and place.
For instance, Allah has his own unique shape or form by which his followers are able to recognize him:
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: During the lifetime of the Prophet some people said: O Allah's Apostle! Shall we see our Lord on the Day of Resurrection?” The Prophet said, “Yes; do you have any difficulty in seeing the sun at midday when it is bright and there is no cloud in the sky?” They replied, “No.” He said, “Do you have any difficulty in seeing the moon on a full moon night when it is bright and there is no cloud in the sky?” They replied, “No.” The Prophet said, “(Similarly) you will have no difficulty in seeing Allah on the Day of Resurrection as you have no difficulty in seeing either of them. On the Day of Resurrection, a call-maker will announce, “Let every nation follow that which they used to worship.” Then none of those who used to worship anything other than Allah like idols and other deities but will fall in Hell (Fire), till there will remain none but those who used to worship Allah, both those who were obedient (i.e. good) and those who were disobedient (i.e. bad) and the remaining party of the people of the Scripture. Then the Jews will be called upon and it will be said to them, 'Who do you use to worship?' They will say, 'We used to worship Ezra, the son of Allah.' It will be said to them, 'You are liars, for Allah has never taken anyone as a wife or a son. What do you want now?' They will say, 'O our Lord! We are thirsty, so give us something to drink.' They will be directed and addressed thus, 'Will you drink,' whereupon they will be gathered unto Hell (Fire) which will look like a mirage whose different sides will be destroying each other. Then they will fall into the Fire. Afterwards the Christians will be called upon and it will be said to them, 'Who do you use to worship?' They will say, 'We used to worship Jesus, the son of Allah.' It will be said to them, 'You are liars, for Allah has never taken anyone as a wife or a son,' Then it will be said to them, 'What do you want?' They will say what the former people have said. Then, when there remain (in the gathering) none but those who used to worship Allah (Alone, the real Lord of the Worlds) whether they were obedient or disobedient. Then (Allah) the Lord of the worlds will come to them IN A SHAPE (sura) NEAREST TO THE PICTURE THEY HAD IN THEIR MINDS ABOUT HIM. It will be said, 'What are you waiting for?' Every nation have followed what they used to worship.' They will reply, 'We left the people in the world when we were in great need of them and we did not take them as friends. Now we are waiting for our Lord Whom we used to worship.' Allah will say, 'I am your Lord.' They will say twice or thrice, 'We do not worship any besides Allah.'" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 105)
Allah is even said to have a literal, physical shin which he will uncover on the last day!
7001. 'Ata' ibn Yasar related that Abu Sa'id al-Khudri said, "We asked, 'Messenger of Allah, will we see our Lord on the Day of Rising?' He said, 'Do you dispute with one another about seeing the sun or moon when there are no clouds.' 'No,' we answered. He said, 'You will not dispute with one another about seeing you Lord on that Day except as you disagree about seeing either of them.' Then he said, 'An announcer will make a proclamation: "Let every community follow what they used to worship." The people of the cross will go with their cross. Those with idols will go with their idols. The people of every deity will go with their deity until there only remains those who worshipped Allah, pious or impious, and the remnants of the People of the Book. Then Jahannam will be brought and presented to them as if it was a mirage. The Jews will be asked, "What were you worshipping?" They will say, "We used to worship 'Uzayr the son of God." They will be told, "You lied. Allah has not taken consort or son. What are you seeking?" They will say, "We want for You to let us drink." It will be said, "Drink." They will fall [into Hell]. Then the Christians will be asked, "What were you worshipping?" They will answer, "We used to worship the Messiah son of God." They will be told, "You lied. Allah has not taken consort or son. What are you seeking?" They will say, "We want for You to let us drink." It will be said, "Drink." They will fall [into Hell]. There will remain those who worshipped Allah, pious or impious. They will be asked, "What keeps you when all of the people have gone?' They will answer, "We parted from them (in the world) in spite of having greater need of them then. We heard an announcer proclaiming, 'Let every nation join what they used to worship.' We are waiting for our Lord." Then the Compeller will come to them in a form (sura) other than His form (suratihi) which they saw the first time and will say, "I am your Lord." they will answer, "You are not our Lord." None will speak to Him except for the Prophets. He will say, "Is there a sign between you and Him by which you can recognise Him?" "The shin," they will answer. He will uncover HIS SHIN and every believer will prostrate to Him. There will remain those who used to prostrate to Allah in order to show off and for the sake of reputation. They will go to prostrate and their backs will become like a single surface. Then the bridge will be brought and placed over the Fire.'' (Bewley, Sahih al-Bukhari, 100. Book of Tawhid (the belief that Allah is One in His Essence, Attributes and Actions)
Here is Dr. Khan’s version of this narrative:
“… Then the Almighty will come to them in a shape other than the one which they saw the first time, and He will say, 'I am your Lord,' and they will say, 'You are not our Lord.' And none will speak: to Him then but the Prophets, and then it will be said to them, 'Do you know any sign by which you can recognize Him?' They will say. 'The Shin,' and so Allah will then uncover HIS SHIN whereupon every believer will prostrate before Him and there will remain those who used to prostrate before Him just for showing off and for gaining good reputation…” (Volume 9, Book 93, Number 532s)
These hadiths not only confirm that Allah possesses an actual physical shape, they also indicate that Allah is able to change forms at will. Thus, Muhammad believed that his god was a shape-shifter!
There are other narrations which even state that Muhammad actually saw Allah’s shape and form:
‘Abd Allah b. Ahmad reported: My father reported to me… from ‘Abd al-Rahman b. al-‘A’ish from some of the companions of the Prophet: “He came out to them one morning while in a joyous mood and a radiant face. We said [to him]: ‘Oh Messenger of God, here you are in a joyous mood and a glowing face!’ --‘How could I not be?’ he answered. ‘My Lord came to me last night under the most beautiful form, and He said [to me]: “‘O Muhammad!'…” And my father (Ibn Hanbal) reported to us, ‘Abd al-Razzaq from Ma’mar from Qatada [from the Prophet], “Allah created Adam according to His form.” My father reported to us, ‘Abd al-Razzaq from Ma‘mar from Qatada, “‘in the best stature (fi ahsani taqwimin)’ meaning ‘in the most beautiful form (fi ahsani suratin)’.” Ibrahim b. al-Hajjaj reported to us, Hammad (b. Salama) reported to us… that the Prophet said, “Allah is beautiful (jamil) and He loves beauty.” (Ahmad b. Hanbal, Kitab al-Sunna, ed. ‘Abd Allah b. Hasan b. Husayn [Al-Matba‘at al-Salafiyya, Mecca 1349 AH], p. 159)
Dr. Williams also mentions another “sound” narration that mentions Allah appearing in a visible form to Muhammad:
According to a great number of reports deemed sound (sahih) by the hadith scholars, God came to Muhammad in a vision and Muhammad saw His form. One of the most popular of these narratives is reported on the authority of the Companion of the Prophet, Mu‘adh b. Jabal:
[Mu‘adh] narrates: One morning, the Messenger of God took a long time to come join us for the dawn prayer, until the moment where we were on the point of seeing the sun come up. The Prophet then came out hurriedly. They did the second call to prayer, and the Messenger of God did the prayer, but his prayer was short. When he had pronounced the final salutation, he shouted to us: “Remain in rows as you are!” Then he turned towards us and said: “I am going to tell you what made me late this morning. I got up last night [to pray]. I did the ablution, I prayed what destiny wished that I pray; then while I was praying, sleepiness took me, and I fell asleep. And there, in front of me, was my Lord, under the most beautiful form (fi ahsani surati). He said [to me]: ‘Oh Muhammad!’–‘[Yes] Lord, here I am!’ He said [to me]: ‘Over what does the Exalted Council dispute?’–‘I do not know, Lord,’ I responded. He posed [to me] again two times the same question. Then I saw Him putting His palm between my shoulder blades, to the point that I felt the coolness of His fingertips (amamilihi) between my nipples, and from that moment everything became evident and known to me,” etc.75
75 Ibn Hanbal, Musnad1, 5:243; Al-Tirmidhi, Jami‘ al-Sahih, apud al-Mubarakpuri, Tuhfa, 9:106ff, #3288; Al-Suyuti, Tafsir al-Durr al-manthur, 7:203. (Ibid., 4.2. The Prophet’s Vision of God; bold emphasis ours)
Williams then lists all of Muhammad’s companions who narrated this story and the scholars who accepted it:
This report and its variants is narrated on the authority of 12 Companions: Mu‘adh b. Jabal, Jabir b. Samura,76 Abu Hurayra,77 Anas b. Malik,78 Abu Umama,79 Abu ‘Ubayda b. al-Jarrah,80 ‘Abd al-Rahman b. ‘A’is,81 Thawban, mawla rasuli llah,82 ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Umar,83 Abu Rafi’,84 ‘Abd al-rahman b. Sabit,85 and ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Abbas.86 Hadith scholars Ibn Hanbal, Al-Tirmidhi, Abi Ya‘la al-Mawsili (d. 919), ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Darimi (d. 869), ‘Uthman al-Darimi (d. 895),87 Ibn Abi Asim (d. 900), al-Tabarani (d. 971), Al-Lalika’i (d. 1027), Nur al-Din al-Haythami (d. 1405), Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani (d. 1449), and al-Suyuti (d. 1505) all reported the hadith. Khaldun Ahdab declared, “THE HADITH IS SAHIH. It was reported by a group of Companions, among them: Mu‘adh b. Jabal, Ibn ‘Abbas, ‘Abd al-Rahman b. ‘A’is, Ibn Umar, Abu Hurayra, and Anas, may God be pleased with them.”88 Ibn Mandah, in his Al-Masdar al-Sabiq said also: “This hadith is reported from ten (sic) Companions of the Prophet; and the imams of the countries, from the people of the east to the west, relayed it from them.” Al-Tirmidhi judged it hasan sahih and said: “I asked Muhammad b. Isma‘il (al-Bukhari) about this hadith and he said: HADHA SAHIH (‘This is sound’).”90 Ibn Hanbal judged it sahih91 and Muhammad b. ‘Abd Allah Hakim al-Nisaburi (933-1014) declared the isnad of Ibn ‘A’is sahih in his al-Mustadrak.92 Al-’Awzai93 and Mukhul94 transmitted the report. Ma ‘mar, ‘Abd al-Razzaq, Ayyub al-Sikhtiyani (d. 748), Mu‘awiyah b. Salih (d. 775),95 in short, the muhaddithun or hadith scholars generally accepted the hadith as sound.
76 Al-Suyuti, Tafsir al-Durr al-manthur, 7:203, sura Sad.
77 Al-Lalika’i, Sharh usul 2:520; al-Suyuti, Tafsir al-Durr al-manthur, 7:203.
78 Al-Suyuti, Tafsir al-Durr al-manthur, 7:204.
79 Al-Suyuti, Tafsir al-Durr al-manthur, 7:204; Nur al-Din al-Haythami, Kitab majma‘ al-bahrayn fi zawa’id al-mu‘jamayn (Riyad: Maktabat al-Rushd, 1992), 370; Ibn Abi ‘Asim, Al-Sunna, 1:326, #475.
80 Khatib al-Baghdadi, Ta’rikh Baghdad, 14 vols. (Cairo, 1931), 8:151; Al-Suyuti, Tafsir al-Durr al-manthur, 7:205.
81 Ibn Hanbal, Musnad2, 27:171, #16621; ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Darimi, Sunan al-Darimi, 2 vols. (Cairo: Dar al-Hadith, 2000), 1:660f; Al-Lalika’i, Sharh usul 2:514; Al-Bayhaqi, Al-Asma’ wa al-Sifat, 2:63; Ibn Abi ‘Asim, al-Ahad wa al-mathani (Riyad, 1991), 5:48; al-Haythami, Kitab majma‘, 366.
82 Ibn Abi ‘Asim, Al-Sunna, 1:328, #479; Al-Suyuti, Tafsir al-Durr al-manthur, 7:205; al-Haythami, Kitab majma‘, 367.
83 Al-Haythami, Kitab majma‘, 369, #11743.
84 Al-Tabarani, Al-Mu‘jam al-kabir (Baghdad: al-Dar al- ‘Arabiyah lil-Tiba‘ah, 1978) (hereafter Al-Mu‘jam1), 1:296, #938.
85 Ibn Abi Shaybah, al-Kitab al-musannaf fi al-ahadith wa-al-athar (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiya, 1989), 7:424.
86 Ibn Hanbal, Musnad1, 3:437, #3483; Al-Tirmidhi, Jami‘ al-Sahih, apud al-Mubarakpuri, Tuhfa, 9:101ff, #3286; Abu Ya‘la al-Mawsili, Musnad Abi Ya‘la al-Mawsili, ed. Husayn Salim Asad (Damascus: Dar al-Ma’mun lil-Turath), 4:475, #281.
87 Al-Darimi, Naqd, 2:733ff.
88 Khaldun Ahdab, Zawa’id Tarikh Baghdad ‘ala al-kutub al-sittah (Damascus: Dar al-Qalam, 1996), 6:253.
89 Apud Al-Darimi, Naqd, 2:734.
90 Al-Tirmidhi, Jami‘ al-Sahih, apud al-Mubarakpuri, Tuhfa, 9:106ff, #3288.
91 ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Abi, Al-Kamil fi du‘afa’ al-rijal, 7 vols. (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1984) 6:2344.
92 See Al-Bayhaqi, Al-Asma’ wa al-Sifat, 2:74.
93 Al-Bayhaqi, Al-Asma’ wa al-Sifat, 2:73ff.
94 Al-Baghawi, Tafsir, 4:69; Ibn Abi ‘Asim, Al-Sunna, 1:326.
95 Ibn Abi ‘Asim, Al-Sunna, 1:328, #479; Al-Suyuti, Tafsir al-Durr al-manthur, 7:205. (Williams, God in Islamic Tradition: Transcendent Anthropomorphism; bold and capital emphasis ours)
But it gets a whole lot worse for Muslims, since the ahadith also claim that Adam was fashioned after the very likeness of Allah’s size and shape:
(1) Chapter. How the Salam (greeting) began.
6227. Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “Allah created Adam in His Image (Suratihi) sixty cubits (about 30 metres) in height. When He created him, He said (to him), ‘Go and greet that group of angels sitting there, and listen what they will say in reply to you, for that will be your greeting and the greeting of your offspring.’ Adam (went and) said, ‘As-Salamu ‘alaikum (Peace be upon you).' They replied, ‘As-Salamu ‘alaika wa Rahmatullah (peace and Allah's Mercy be on you).’ So they increased ‘Wa Rahmatullah.’” The Prophet added, “So, whoever will enter Paradise, will be of the shape and picture of Adam. Since then the creation of Adam’s (offspring) (i.e. stature of human beings) is being diminished continuously to the present time.” (Dr. Khan, Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Ahadith 5970 to 6860, 79 – The Book Of Asking Permission (To Enter Somebody Else’s Dwelling Place), p. 138)
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger as saying: ALLAH, the Exalted and Glorious, created Adam in HIS OWN IMAGE with HIS LENGTH of sixty cubits, and as HE created him HE told him to greet that group, and that was a party of angels sitting there, and listen to the response that they give him, for it would form his greeting and that of his offspring. He then went away and said: Peace be upon you! They (the angels) said: May there be peace upon you and the Mercy of Allah, and they made an addition of "Mercy of Allah." So he who would get into Paradise would get in the form of Adam, his length being sixty cubits, then the people who followed him continued to diminish in size up to this day. (Sahih Muslim, Book 040, Number 6809)
If one follows the pronouns carefully it is evident that the statements to “his own image” and “his length” refer back to Allah, e.g. Adam was created in Allah’s image and Allah’s height or length of sixty cubits, which makes Allah roughly ninety feet tall!
Here, again, is Williams:
God created Adam according to His form (khalaqa llahu Adama ‘ala suratihi), his size being of sixty cubits…70
Do not make your face ugly (la tuqabbihu l-wajh)! Because the son of Adam was created according to the form of al-Rahman (Fa-inna bna Adama khuliqa ‘ala surati r-Rahman).71
God thus has a form similar to that of Adam’s, though different in some respects. While the transcendentalists used various devices to interpret the ‘form’ away from God, the Sunni doctors were bitterly opposed to such tricks. Ibn Hanbal says in his ‘Aqida V, “Adam was created in the image of the Merciful, as comes in a report from the Messenger of God transmitted by Ibn Umar…”72 He said in another creed reported by Ibn Abi Ya’la, “Any one who does not say that God created Adam in the form of the Merciful is a Jahmite (heretic/disbeliever).”73 Abu Muhammad b. Qutayba declared as well: “God possesses an actual form, though it is not like other forms, and He fashioned Adam after it.”74 The reason therefore the Qur’an can say that Adam was made in the best make (ahsani taqwim) is because he was according to the form of God himself. This Black Adam looks like God, as we saw above.
70 Bukhari, Sahih, isti’dhan, 1; Muslim, Sahih, birr, 115; Ibn Hanbal, Musnad II: 244, 251, 315, etc. For a discussion on this hadith and its variants cf. Gimaret, Dieu a l’image de l’homme 123-136; Watt, “Created in His Image,” 94-100.
72 Trans. By Watt, Islamic Creeds, p. 31.
73 Ibn Abi Ya’la, Tabaqat al-Hanbila I:212, 19.
74 Quoted by Ibn al-Jawzi, Kitab akhbar as-Sifat, 175 (Eng.). (Williams, God in Islamic Tradition: Transcendent Anthropomorphism; bold emphasis ours)
But that’s not all. Muhammad claimed that Allah literally sits on his throne as a rider sits on a saddle, thereby making the throne groan, obviously due to Allah’s weight and size!
Jabir b. Mut‘im told that a nomadic Arab came to God’s messenger and said, “People are suffering distress, the children are hungry, the crops are withered and the animals are perishing, so ask God to grant us rain, for we seek you as our intercessor with God and God as our intercessor with you.” Thereupon the Prophet said, “Glory be to God, glory be to God,” and he continued declaring God’s glory till the effect of that was apparent in the faces of his companions. He then said, “God’s state is greater than that. Woe to you! Do you know how great God is? His Throne is above the heavens thus (indicating with his fingers something like a dome over him), and it groans on account of Him as a saddle does because of the rider.” Abu Dawud transmitted it. (Mishkat Al Masabih, English Translation With Explanatory Notes By Dr. James Robson [Sh. Muhammad Ashraf Publishers, Booksellers & Exporters, Lahore, Pakistan, Reprinted 1994], Volume II, Book XXVI – Fitan, Chapter XVII. The Beginning of Creation and Mention of the Prophets, pp. 1226-1227; bold emphasis ours)
That Muhammad actually believed that the throne is a physical object which Allah literally sits upon, can be further seen by his assertion that eight angels will be carrying Allah’s throne on the last day, and that he himself will be standing to the right side of the throne:
Then on that Day shall the (Great) Event befall, And the heaven will split asunder, for that Day it (the heaven will be frail (weak), and torn up, And the angels will be on its sides, and eight angels will, that Day, bear the Throne of your Lord above them. That Day shall you be brought to Judgement, not a secret of you will be hidden. S. 69:15-18 Hilali-Khan
Abu Huraira reported the Prophet as saying, “I shall be clothed with one of the robes of paradise and shall then stand at the right of the Throne, the place where no other creature than I shall stand.” Tirmidhi transmitted it. The version on his authority in Jami‘ al-usul has, “I shall be the first from whom the earth will be cleft open and I shall be clothed…”
He reported the Prophet as saying, “Ask God to grant me the wasila.” God’s messenger was asked what the Wasila meant and replied, “The highest grade in paradise which only one man will attain, and I hope I may be he.” Tirmidhi transmitted it. (Mishkat Al Masabih, p. 1236)
Muhammad even taught that at the last day he would enter Allah’s house in order to prostrate before his throne and seek his permission to intercede for the Muslims:
The Prophet said, "The believers will be kept (waiting) on the Day of Resurrection so long that they will become worried and say, 'Let us ask somebody to intercede for us with our Lord so that He may relieve us from our place.' … So they will come to me, and I will ask my Lord's permission TO ENTER HIS HOUSE and then I will be permitted. WHEN I SEE HIM I will fall down in prostration BEFORE HIM, and He will leave me (in prostration) as long as He will, and then He will say, 'O Muhammad, lift up your head and speak, for you will be listened to, and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted, and ask (for anything) for it will be granted.'” … (Qatada said: I heard Anas saying that), the Prophet said, "I will go out and take them out of Hell (Fire) and let them enter Paradise, and then I will return and ask my Lord for permission TO ENTER HIS HOUSE and I will be permitted. WHEN I WILL SEE HIM I will fall down in prostration BEFORE HIM and He will leave me in prostration as long as He will let me (in that state), and then He will say, 'O Muhammad, raise your head and speak, for you will be listened to, and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted, and ask, your request will be granted.’” … (Qatada added: I heard Anas saying that) the Prophet said, "I will go out and take them out of Hell (Fire) and let them enter Paradise, and I will return for the third time and will ask my Lord for permission TO ENTER HIS HOUSE, and I will be allowed to enter. WHEN I SEE HIM, I will fall down in prostration BEFORE HIM, and will remain in prostration as long as He will, and then He will say, 'Raise your head, O Muhammad, and speak, for you will be listened to, and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted, and ask, for your request will be granted.'” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 97, Number 532v)
CCIII: "Descendants of those We carried with Nuh. He was a grateful slave." (17:3)
4435. It is related that Abu Hurayra said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace,was given some meat and was offered the leg, which he liked, and ate some of it. Then he said, 'I will be the master of people on the Day of Rising. Do you know what that will entail? Allah will gather people, the first and the last on the same plain so that an observer will be able to see them and a speaker make them hear. The sun will be brought near to them and people will experience such sorrow and distress that they will not be able to bear or endure it. The people will say, 'Do you not see what has come to you? Why do you not look for someone to intercede with your Lord on your behalf?'… They will go to 'Isa and say, 'O 'Isa! You are the Messenger of Allah and His Word which He cast to Maryam and a spirit from Him. You spoke to people while in the cradle. Intercede with your Lord on our behalf. Do you not see what we are suffering?' 'Isa will say, 'My Lord is angry today with such anger as has never existed before nor will again,' and he did not mention a sin. 'O my soul! My soul! My soul! Go to someone else. Go to Muhammad.'
"They will come to me and say, 'O Muhammad! You are the Messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets. Allah has forgiven you your past and future wrong actions. Intercede with your Lord on our behalf. Do you not see what we are suffering?' I will go and arrive UNDER THE THRONE and fall down in prostration to my Lord, the Mighty and Exalted. Then Allah will inspire me with some words to praise and laud Him with which He will have inspired no one before me. Then it will be said, 'O Muhammad, raise your head. Ask and your request will be granted. Intercede and your intercession will be accepted. Lift your head!' (Aisha Bewley, The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, Chapter 68. Book of Tafsir; *; bold and capital emphasis ours)
These statements not only presuppose that Allah and his throne are of limited size, they further assume that Allah’s house is actually physically bigger than both, which is why it is able to contain them. Otherwise, how could Allah and his throne be confined to a house if the latter is not physically larger than both? And how could it be physically bigger than both of them if Allah and his throne are not of limited size and shape?
According to Dr. Badawi, Muslims do not refer to Allah as a person since in Arabic the word for person, shakhs, has only one meaning, namely a human being, a limited, physical being. Therefore, no Muslim would ever use such a term to describe the Islamic god.
However, we presented evidence which contradicts Dr. Badawi’s assertion. According to some of the so-called authentic Islamic sources which we looked at, Muhammad himself and faithful Muslims such as ‘Abdul Malik and al-Bukhari categorized their deity as a shakhs! Muhammad also believed that his god actually possesses physical size and shape, thereby limiting him to the dimensions of time, space and place. Muhammad even thought that, since Allah’s shape was limited in size, he could therefore be contained in a house and be confined to a physical throne.
Hence, according to Badawi, Allah must be a human being, or a limited physical being, and therefore cannot be the one true universal and transcendent God revealed in the Holy Bible, since that God transcends the limitations of time, space, and place:
“But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” 1 Kings 8:27
“The temple I am going to build will be great, because our God is greater than all other gods. But who is able to build a temple for him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him? Who then am I to build a temple for him, except as a place to burn sacrifices before him?” 2 Chronicles 2:5-6
“‘Am I only a God nearby,’ declares the LORD, ‘and not a God far away? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?’ declares the LORD. ‘Do not I fill heaven and earth?’ declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 23:23-24
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’” Acts 17:24-28 – cf. Psalm 139:7-12; Ephesians 1:23; 3:19; 4:7-10
We would like to thank our dear brothers Khaled and Mutee'a Al Fadi for searching for hadiths containing the term shakhs and helping to translate some of the hadiths into English for this particular article, without which this paper would not have been as strong. We pray that our risen Lord Jesus richly blesses both of them along with their families by providing for all their needs.
(1) Ironically, Muslim polemicist Bassam Zawadi used this same narration to establish that Allah is a singular person. At the 5:49 mark of his debate with Thabiti Anyabwile titled, "Who is God and how are we saved?," Zawadi said the following:
"Islam states that Allah is one Person. The prophet Muhammad is reported to have said in an authentic narration attributed to him, 'There is no person (singular pronoun) more jealous than Allah, and there is no person (singular pronoun again) more fond of accepting an excuse than Allah, on account of which he has sent messengers, announcers of glad tidings, and warners. And no person (singular again) more fond of praise than Allah, on account of which Allah has promised paradise.'"
It is rather unfortunate for Zawadi that he didn't realize that by using this particular hadith to show that Allah is a single person, or more precisely a shakhs, he pretty much ended up proving that his god is an imperfect, limited, fallible human being! Zawadi should have spent some time viewing the debates of Dr. Jamal Badawi since that would have prevented him from embarrassing himself.