Is Allah the Only Judge and Forgiver of Sins?

Being a Response to Bassam Zawadi

Sam Shamoun

Bassam Zawadi has produced a response (*) to my article concerning the contradiction within the Quran whether Allah is the only judge or not (*).

He says that:

I am quite surprised that Sam Shamoun's quality of articles have stooped this low.

Apart from the ad hominem, it seems that Zawadi is paying me an underhanded compliment. The problem isn’t that the quality of my articles has diminished, but that Zawadi is constantly proving what we have been saying all along about his inability to fully understand what he reads. Zawadi really has a hard time grasping the level of argumentation being presented, and his rebuttal is another classic example of that. I wish I could say that I am surprised by the rather poor quality of his rebuttal but, unfortunately for Zawadi, I am not since in all honesty I have come to expect this of him.

Here is what he says regarding the meaning of the passages which say that Allah is the only judge:

Surah 6:114 and 18:26 talk about God being the ultimate judge and authority. That ultimately all judgment is decided by Him. There is no other ultimate authority besides Him.

Surah 4:59 shows that Allah and His Messenger are sources of religious authority. The reason why the messenger has this honor is because Allah has given him this privilege and task since He sent him to teach the people (3:164) and make clear to them (16:44) the revelation of God. We also have to remember that the Prophet peace be upon him does not speak of his own self but receives revelation (53:4) from God who is the ultimate source of religious authority.

That is NOT what the passages are saying; this is simply what Zawadi wants the verses to say. The references do not qualify their statements by saying that Allah is the ultimate authority or judge, but expressly claim that there is no other judge besides Allah and that he doesn’t allow absolutely ANYONE to share in his decisions and judgment, which would naturally include Muhammad.

Note, carefully, the wording of the following text:

"Say: Allah is Best Aware how long they tarried. His is the Invisible of the heavens and the earth. How clear of sight is He and keen of hearing! They have NO protecting friend beside Him, and He maketh NONE to share in His government." S. 18:26 Pickthall

Since Zawadi has a fascination of quoting more than one translation here is the way the various versions render this specific passage:

… There is NO guardian for them besides Him, and He associates NONE in his judgment. Muhammad Ali (*)

… They have NO protector other than Him; NOR does He share His Command WITH ANY PERSON WHATSOEVER. Yusuf Ali

NO guardian have they apart from Him, since He allots to NO ONE a share in His rule!" Muhammad Asad (*)

… They have NO Wali (Helper, Disposer of affairs, Protector, etc.) other than Him, and He makes NONE to share in His Decision and His Rule." Al-Hilali & Khan

… They have NOT besides Him any protector, and He shares NOT His legislation WITH ANYONE. Al-Muntada Alislami (*)

… There is NONE to be a guardian for them besides Him, and He DOES NOT MAKE ANY ONE His associate in His Judgment. Shakir

… They have NO other guardian but Him, and He DOES NOT share His authority WITH ANY ONE. Ahmed Ali (*)

NO ONE other than Him is their guardian and NO ONE shares His Judgment. Muhammad Sarwar (*)

… They have NO helper beside HIM, and HE DOES NOT LET ANYONE share in HIS judgment. Sher Ali

… They have NO patron beside Him, NOR in His rule HE ASSOCIATETH ANYONE. Abdul-Majid Daryabadi (*)

… They have NO patron besides Him, NOR DOES HE LET ANYONE ELSE share in His discretion. T.B. Irving (*)

… They have NO helper besides him. He lets NONE ASSOCIATE with Him and share His judgment. Abdul Mannan Omer (*)

… They have NO helper beside Him and He DOES NOT LET ANY ONE share His authority. Muhammad Zafrulla Khan (*)

… Mankind has NO protector besides Him NOR does He share His sovereignty WITH ANYONE. G.A. Parwez (*)

… (there is) NONE for them from other than Him (as a) guardian/ally, and He DOES NOT share/make partners in His judgment/rule ANYONE. Muhamed Ahmed with his daughter Samira (*)

… They DO NOT have besides Him any ally, NOR does He share in His judgment WITH ANYONE. The Message – A Pure and Literal Translation of Al-Qu’ran (*)

… There is NONE beside Him as Lord and Master, and He NEVER PERMITS ANY PARTNERS to share in His kingship. Khalifa

… They have NO protector, apart from Him, and He associates in His government NO ONE.' Arberry

… They have NO patron beside Him, NOR DOES HE LET ANY ONE share in His judgment. Palmer

… Man hath NO guardian but Him, and NONE may bear part in his judgments: - Rodwell

… The [inhabitants thereof] have NO protector besides him; NEITHER DOTH HE SUFFER ANY ONE to have a share in [the establishment or knowledge of] his decree. Sale

All of the major translations (along with some lesser known ones), most of which were produced by Muslims, agree that Q. 18:26 is attesting to the fact that Allah does not allow ANY individual to share in his decision making, in his judgments. Allah also forbids believers from having any other wali (protector/ally/patron/friend) besides him which is another contradiction altogether (*).

In order for Zawadi’s explanation to be taken seriously the texts would need to say something like the following,

Unfortunately for Zawadi that is not what the verses say or imply. The passages expressly and unambiguously assert that absolutely NO ONE is allowed to share in Allah’s rule, in Allah’s judgments or decisions, just as the following commentators realized:

Say: 'God is more knowledgeable of how long they tarried, [more knowledgeable] than those contending over this [issue] - and this [fact] has already been mentioned [above, verse 19]. To Him belongs the Unseen of the heavens and the earth, that is, [to Him belongs] the knowledge thereof. How well He sees! namely, God - this form is for [expressing] amazement [at something]. How well He hears! likewise [for expressing amazement]. These two [expressions] are being used metaphorically. What is meant is that nothing can escape God's sight or hearing. They, THE INHABITANTS OF THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH, have no guardian, someone to assist [them], besides Him, and He makes NONE to share in His rule', for He is Independent, without need of a partner. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source; capital and underline emphasis ours)

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:

One Does not Become a Believer Unless He Refers to the Messenger for Judgment and Submits to his Decisions

Allah said…

<But no, by your Lord, they can have no faith, until they make you judge in all disputes between them,> Allah swears by His Glorious, Most Honorable Self, that no one shall attain faith until he refers to the Messenger for judgment IN ALL MATTERS. Thereafter, whatever the Messenger commands, is the plain truth that must be submitted to inwardly and outwardly. Allah said…

<and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission.> meaning: they adhere to your judgment, and thus do not feel any hesitation over your decision, and they submit to it inwardly and outwardly. They submit to the Prophet's decision with total submission without any rejection, denial or dispute. Al-Bukhari recorded that `Urwah said, "Az-Zubayr quarreled with a man about a stream which both of them used for irrigation. Allah's Messenger said to Az-Zubayr…

<<O Zubayr! Irrigate (your garden) first, and then let the water flow to your neighbor.>> The Ansari became angry and said, `O Allah's Messenger! Is it because he is your cousin?' On that, the face of Allah's Messenger changed color (because of anger) and said…

<<Irrigate (your garden), O Zubayr, and then withhold the water until it reaches the walls (surrounding the palms). Then, release the water to your neighbor.>> So, Allah's Messenger gave Az-Zubayr his full right when the Ansari made him angry. Before that, Allah's Messenger had given a generous judgment, beneficial for Az-Zubayr and the Ansari. Az-Zubayr said, `I think the following verse was revealed concerning that case…

<But no, by your Lord, they can have no faith, until they make you (O Muhammad) judge in all disputes between them.>’" Another reason in his Tafsir, Al-Hafiz Abu Ishaq Ibrahim bin `Abdur-Rahman bin Ibrahim bin Duhaym recorded that Damrah narrated that two men took their dispute to the Prophet, and he gave a judgment to the benefit of whoever among them had the right. The person who lost the dispute said, "I do not agree." The other person asked him, "What do you want then?" He said, "Let us go to Abu Bakr As-Siddiq." They went to Abu Bakr and the person who won the dispute said, "We went to the Prophet with our dispute and he issued a decision in my favor." Abu Bakr said, "Then the decision is that which the Messenger of Allah issued." The person who lost the dispute still rejected the decision and said, "Let us go to `Umar bin Al-Khattab." When they went to `Umar, the person who won the dispute said, "We took our dispute to the Prophet and he decided in my favor, but this man refused to submit to the decision." `Umar bin Al-Khattab asked the second man and he concurred. `Umar went to his house and emerged from it holding aloft his sword. He struck the head of the man who rejected the Prophet's decision with the sword and killed him. Consequently, Allah revealed...

<But no, by your Lord, they can have no faith>. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir; source; capital and underline emphasis ours)

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.

Doesn’t this conclusively prove that Muhammad is Allah’s equal, his partner when it comes to making decisions and judgments?

With the foregoing in perspective we will highlight the contradiction that Zawadi was unable to satisfactorily harmonize.

Zawadi goes on to deny that Muhammad can forgive sins by accusing me of quoting a bad translation of Q. 4:64:

Even most of the translations state this except Pickthal[sic], which Shamoun conveniently chose for his agenda...

After citing a plethora of translators Zawadi then says that:

Plus even if the verse does intend to say that Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him could forgive people, this in no way suggests that he is the ultimate forgiver of sins just like God.

Notice how Zawadi constantly inserts the word "ultimate," thereby reading into the text something which is not stated either explicitly or implicitly.

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. (Tanwīr al-Miqbās min Tafsīr Ibn ‘Abbās; 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:

<If they (hypocrites), when they had been unjust to themselves,> 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…

<they would have found Allah All-Forgiving (One Who forgives and accepts repentance), Most Merciful>. (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.

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 Zakāt 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.

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.

Lastly, Surah 33:36 only shows how Allah and His Messenger are sources of authority. When it says Allah, it is referring to the Qu'ran and when it refers to the Messenger it is referring to the Sunnah communicated through the Prophet's actions and statements.

God is the ultimate source of authority since both Qur'an and Sunnah come from Him and not from the Prophet.

Again, note Zawadi’s constant insertion of the word "ultimate" when none of the passages make such a qualification.

More importantly, the Quran testifies that Allah does not have ultimate authority but shares it equally with Muhammad, making the two of them the ultimate sources of judgment, salvation and rulership.

Here are a set of passages which proves our point:

These are Allah's limits, and whoever obeys Allah AND His Messenger, He will cause him to enter gardens beneath which rivers flow, to abide in them; and this is the great achievement. And whoever disobeys Allah AND His Messenger and goes beyond His limits, He will cause him to enter fire to abide in it, and he shall have an abasing chastisement. S. 4:13-14

And whoever obeys Allah AND the Messenger, these are with those upon whom Allah has bestowed favors from among the prophets and the truthful and the martyrs and the good, and a goodly company are they! S. 4:69

Obey Allah, AND obey the Messenger, and beware (of evil): if ye do turn back, know ye that it is Our Messenger's duty to proclaim (the message) in the clearest manner. S. 5:92 A. Yusuf Ali

Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah AND His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection. S. 9:29

The response of the believers, when they are invited to Allah AND His Messenger that he may judge between them, is only to say: We hear and we obey; and these it is that are the successful. S. 24:51

Say: Obey Allah AND obey the Messenger; but if you turn back, then on him rests that which is imposed on him and on you rests that which is imposed on you; and if you obey him, you are on the right way; and nothing rests on the Messenger but clear delivering (of the message). S. 24:54

There are many more passages that use this formulation, e.g. 3:32, 8:1, 20, 24, 46; 4:69; 9:71; 24:47; 33:33, 66; 47:33; 49:14; 58:13; 64:12, and some additional ones that will shortly be discussed in more detail because they reveal further aspects.

In Islamic and quranic understanding, the Quran comes fully and only from Allah, not the least bit originated from Muhammad or other human sources. Therefore, why would Muhammad's name even have to be mentioned if this is the meaning of the phrase? It would not add anything to "obey Allah" (in what he has commanded you in the Quran). In fact, in that case this formulation would only confuse the concept that the Quran is not from Muhammad in any way, suggesting that Allah and Muhammad are something like co-authors who have to be obeyed together since they together are the source of the Quran.

The command "obey Allah and the Messenger" — particularly since it is repeated over and over again — means obedience to Allah and to Muhammad ON THE SAME LEVEL.

Our conclusion is also supported by the fact that in several instances, e.g. 4:59, 5:92, 24:54 etc., the word "obey" is explicitly repeated, i.e. "obey Allah and obey the messenger".

Moreover, if that latter interpretation is correct, then one would expect to find other places in the Quran where it speaks only about obedience to Muhammad without even mentioning Allah explicitly in the exhortation to obey, just as it would be no surprise to find the command to obey Allah without mentioning Muhammad. And that is indeed the case. The two (Allah and the messenger) are nearly always mentioned together when the Quran demands obedience from its listeners, but one can also find the command to obey the messenger used separately as the next several quotations will show.

Only those are believers who believe in Allah and His Messenger, and when they are with him on a momentous affair they go not away until they have asked his permission; surely they who ask your permission are they who believe in Allah and His Messenger; so when they ask your permission for some affair of theirs, give permission to whom you please of them and ask forgiveness for them from Allah; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Do not hold the Messenger's calling (you) among you to be like your calling one to the other; Allah indeed knows those who steal away from among you, concealing themselves; therefore let those beware who go against his order lest a trial afflict them or there befall them a painful chastisement. S. 24:62-63

Only those are true believers who wait for Muhammad's permission (not Allah's permission), and it is up to Muhammad to give it or to withhold it (give permission to whom YOU please), i.e. whether or not one obeys Muhammad's word determines one's state as a genuine believer.

These verses are even stronger:

Surely those who swear allegiance to you do but swear allegiance to Allah; the hand of Allah is above their hands. Therefore whoever breaks (his faith), he breaks it only to the injury of his own soul, and whoever fulfills what he has covenanted with Allah, He will grant him a mighty reward. S. 48:10

Whoever obeys the messenger has obeyed Allah, and whoever turns away: We have not sent thee as a warder over them. S. 4:80 Pickthall

Do Muslims want to obey Allah? Then simply obey the messenger. Whoever obeys Muhammad, has already obeyed Allah. By obeying Muhammad, one obeys Allah. Obedience to Muhammad is declared to be synonymous with obedience to Allah. Muhammad has, for all practical purposes, taken the place of Allah.

In fact one’s entire salvation is determined by one’s obedience and devotion to Muhammad:

And obey Allah AND the Messenger, that you may be shown mercy. S. 3:132

Say, (O Muhammad, to mankind): If ye love Allah, follow me; Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. S. 3:31 Pickthall

Allah has promised to those of you who believe and do good that He will most certainly make them rulers in the earth as He made rulers those before them, and that He will most certainly establish for them their religion which He has chosen for them, and that He will most certainly, after their fear, give them security in exchange; they shall serve Me, not associating aught with Me; and whoever is ungrateful after this, these it is who are the transgressors. And keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate and obey the Messenger, so that mercy may be shown to you. S. 24:55-56

Verily, those who annoy Allah AND His Messenger (SAW) Allah has cursed them in this world, and in the Hereafter, and has prepared for them a humiliating torment. S. 33:57 Hilali-Khan

Have you not seen those who are forbidden secret counsels, then they return to what they are forbidden, and they hold secret counsels for sin and revolt and disobedience to the Messenger, and when they come to you they greet you with a greeting with which Allah does not greet you, and they say in themselves: Why does not Allah punish us for what we say? Hell is enough for them; they shall enter it, and evil is the resort. S. 58:8

The other major point to note is that in all of the above references where Allah and Muhammad are mentioned together, the passages conjoin the two through the use of the Arabic conjunction Wa ("and"). The significance of this use may be lost to the English readers but not to those who have studied the Muslim reference works.

According to Muslim authorities this conjunction implies partnership and co-equality, e.g. when a person or thing is mentioned alongside Allah using this specific conjunction this implies that that person or thing is Allah’s partner or equal.

Muhammad himself realized this and forbade people from using this conjunction when speaking of Allah and someone or something else:

A Jewish man came to the Prophet and said: "Verily, you (Muslims) commit Shirk, for you say: ‘As Allah wills and as you will;’ and you say: ‘By the Ka’bah!’" And so the Prophet ordered whoever wanted to swear, to say: "By the Lord of the Ka’bah" and to say: "As Allah wills, then as you will." (An-Nasaa’ee, it was declared saheeh by Albanee in as Saheehah # 137 and declared saheeh by Adh-Dhahabee in his checking of Al Mustadrak and declared saheeh by Ibn Hajar in Al Isaabah 4/389)

A man came to the Prophet and he said: "As Allah and you will," at which the Prophet said: "Would you set me up as a partner besides Allah? As Allah Alone Wills" (An-Nasaa’ee, declared authentic (hasan) by Albanee in as Saheehah # 139)

On the authority of At-Tufail the half brother of Aishah it is reported that he said: "I saw in a dream that I came upon a number of Jews and I said to them: ‘You are indeed a good people were it not that you claim ‘Uzair is the son of Allah.’ They replied: ‘You too are good, were it not that you say: As Allah wills and as Muhammad wills.’ Then, I came upon a number of Christians and I said to them: ‘You are indeed a good people were it not that you claim the Messiah (Jesus) is the son of Allah.’ They replied: ‘You are also good, were it not that you say: As Allah wills and as Muhammad wills.’ When I awoke I told someone about this then I went to the Prophet and repeated it to him. He asked me: ‘Have you told anyone about this?’ I said: ‘Yes.’ Then he went to the pulpit and, after praising Allah, he said: ‘At-Tufail had a dream which he has already communicated to some of you. You used to say something which I was prevented from forbidding to you until now. Henceforth do not say: As Allah wills and as Muhammad wills, but say: What Allah Alone Wills.’" (Ibn Maajah, Albanee mentioned it in as Saheehah # 138, Al Haythamee said in Majma Az-Zawaaid: the men in its chain are reliable according to the conditions of Imam Muslim) (Kitab At-Tawheed, by Sheikh ul-Islam Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab, translated by: Compilation and Research Department Dar-us-Salam [Dar-us-Salam Publications Riyadh-Saudi Arabia, 1996], Chapter 43: Saying: "As Allah Wills and You Will", pp. 21-22; source; underline emphasis ours)

A renowned Muslim scholar named Qadi Iyad Ibn Musa al-Yahsubi had this to say regarding Muslims joining Muhammad with Allah in their confession:

Qatada said, "Allah exalted his fame in this world and the Next. There is no speaker, witness nor anyone doing the prayer who fails to say, ‘There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.’"

Abu Sa'id al-Khudri related that the Prophet said, "Jibril, peace be upon him, came to me and said, ‘My Lord and your Lord says, ‘Do you know how I have exalted your fame?"’ I said, ‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’ He said, 'When I am mentioned you are mentioned with Me.’"

Ibn ‘Ata quoted a hadith qudsi saying, "I completed belief with your being mentioned with Me." And another one which says, "I have made your mention part of My mention so whoever mentions Me, mentions you."

Ja'far ibn Muhammad as-Sadiq, "No one mentions you as the Messenger but that he mentions Me as the Lord."

The fact that mention of the Prophet is directly connected to mention of Allah also shows that obedience to the Prophet is connected to obedience to Allah and his name to Allah's name. Allah says, "Obey Allah and His Messenger" (2:32) and "Believe in Allah and His Messenger." (4:136) Allah joins them together using the conjunction wa WHICH IS THE CONJUNCTION OF PARTNERSHIP. IT IS NOT PERMITTED TO USE THIS CONJUNCTION IN CONNECTION WITH ALLAH IN THE CASE OF ANYONE EXCEPT THE PROPHET.

Hudhayfa said that the Prophet said, "None of you should say, ‘What Allah wills and (wa) so-and-so wills.’ Rather say, ‘What Allah wills.’ Then stop and say, ‘So-and-so wills.’"

Al-Khattabi said, "The Prophet has guided you to correct behaviour in putting the will of Allah before the will of others. He chose ‘then’ (thumma) which implies sequence and deference as opposed to ‘and’ (wa) WHICH IMPLIES PARTNERSHIP."

Something similar is mentioned in another hadith. Someone was speaking in the presence of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and said, "Whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger has been rightly guided, and whoever rebels against them both (joining them together by using the dual form) …" The Prophet said to him, "What a bad speaker you are! Get up! [Or he said: Get out!]"

Abu Sulayman said, "He disliked the two names being joined together in that way BECAUSE IT IMPLIES EQUALITY." … (Iyad, Kitab Ash-shifa bi ta'rif huquq al-Mustafa (Healing by the recognition of the Rights of the Chosen One), translated by Aisha Abdarrahman Bewley [Madinah Press, Inverness, Scotland, U.K., third reprint 1991, paperback], pp. 7-8; bold and capital emphasis ours)

"… He coupled his name with His own name, and his pleasure with His pleasure. He made him one of the two pillars of tawhid." (Ibid., p. 27)

Ibn ‘Abbas said, "Written on the door of the Garden is: I am Allah. There is no god but Me. Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. I will not punish anyone who says that." (Ibid., p. 90)

As if this weren’t bad enough that Muhammad is joined to Allah as a partner, the following reference actually ascribes praise and worship to him!

Verily, We have sent you as a witness, as a bearer of glad tidings, and as a warner. In order that you may believe in Allah AND His Messenger, and that you assist and honour HIM and glorify HIS praises morning and afternoon. Verily, those who give allegiance to you they are giving to Allah. The hand of Allah is over their hands. Then whosoever breaks his pledge breaks only to his own harm, and whosoever fulfills what he has covenanted with Allah, He will bestow on him a great reward. S. 48:8-10

In this text, the nearest referent, the closest antecedent to the pronouns ("him," "his") is not Allah, but Muhammad! Basically, the author has written this citation in such a way that he ended up making Muhammad the object of a Muslim’s praise, worship and glorification! As one late Christian writer noted:

"This sentence is disrupted because of a sudden shift from addressing Muhammad to addressing other people. Apart from this, the accusative pronoun in ‘succour Him, and reverence Him’ refers, beyond doubt, to Muhammad, who was mentioned earlier, not to God as the English translator understood it. But ‘give Him glory’ refers to God. The entire verse is chaotic. The reader cannot be expected to understand its true meaning from the arrangement of words. It is kufr (‘unbelief’) to say ‘succour Him, and reverence Him, and that you may give Him glory at the dawn and in the evening’ about Muhammad, since glory should be given to God alone. It is also kufr to make such a statement with reference to God, since God almighty is not in need for succour or help!" ('Abdallah 'Abd al-Fadi, Is the Qur'an Infallible? [Light of Life, PO Box 13, A-9503 Villach, Austria], pp. 182-183)

Lest Zawadi accuse this Christian or me of bias and slander, here is what noted Sufi Muslim author G.F. Haddad said regarding this specific text:

"That ye (mankind) may believe in Allah and His messenger, and may honor h/Him, and may revere h/Him, and may glorify h/Him at early dawn and at the close of day" (48:9). Al-Nawawi said that the scholars of Qur'anic commentary have given this verse two lines of explanation, one group giving the three personal pronouns "HIM" a single referent, namely, either Allah ("Him") OR THE PROPHET ("him"); the other group distinguishing between two referents, namely, the Prophet (SAWS) for the first two ("honor and revere him"), and Allah for the last ("glorify Him"). Those of the first group that said the pronouns ALL REFER TO THE PROPHET (SAWS) explained "glorify him" (tusabbihuhu) here to mean: "declare him devoid of inappropriate attributes and pray for him." (The Prophetic Title "Best of Creation"; source; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Haddad candidly acknowledges the confusion of the text and admits that some (if not many) Muslims had no hesitation in attributing all the pronouns to Muhammad!

So it's not as simple as Zawadi wants to make it seem. These verses cannot easily be reconciled since the Quran says that NONE shares in Allah’s judgments, in his decisions, and yet other passages speak of Allah allowing his prophet and those in authority to share in his rule and decisions. Moreover, Muhammad doesn’t simply pray for sinners to be forgiven; he is said to have the ability to both purify and sanctify sinners, something which is the prerogative of God alone. Hence, the gross contradictions remain.

Zawadi tries to turn the tables against us by lodging a similar complaint against the Holy Bible:

I can do the same technique with the Bible.

I can show that in one place the Bible says that God is the only judge and lawgiver (James 4:12), yet we have the disciples having the ability to judge (Matthew 19:28) and obviously we have countries today instituting their own laws and constitutions.

I can also show that in one place the Bible says that God is the only one who forgives sins (Mark 2:10), yet we see that the disciples had the ability to forgive sins (John 20:23) and ordinary people as well (Matthew 6:14)

The Christian would reply back reconciling these verses the same way that we had in this article. So why the double standard?

If this isn’t the kettle calling the pot black! Zawadi constantly uses double standards since he often raises objections against the Holy Bible that he never bothers to use against the Quran. And yet he has the audacity to accuse us of double standards!

More importantly, the above merely shows that Zawadi didn’t understand our objection. Our objection wasn’t that Allah couldn’t use agents to reveal his law or to pass his judgements. Rather, our objection centered on the plain reading of the Quran which says that Allah allows absolutely no one to share in his decisions or judgments. Zawadi is clearly attacking straw man and comparing apples and oranges.

The Bible passages that he cites are not at all suggesting that God doesn’t reveal his laws through individuals which he appoints to be his spokespersons. Rather the point is that, as the one law-giver and judge, God reveals his law and will through the agents which he has raised to represent him. He also judges others through these very same spokespersons, i.e. through his prophets and apostles who will be communicating the decisions and judgments of God which is relayed through them.

The example of John 20:23 helps to illustrate this point since there Jesus says, in context, that:

"Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.’" John 20:21-23

If one were to read how the disciples remitted or retained people’s sins one will see that they did this through the preaching of the Gospel of Christ. In other words, the apostles could pronounce people’s sins forgiven on the basis of their believing in the Gospel and could tell them that they remained in their sins for rejecting the message of Christ. This is precisely what John says at the conclusion of this very chapter of his Gospel:

"Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." John 20:30-31

And precisely what the Apostles did as the following examples amply demonstrate:

"And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’" Acts 2:38

"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12

"All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name." Acts 10:43

"After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: ‘Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.’" Acts 15:7-11

"that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God." 2 Corinthians 5:19-20

Yet they themselves were aware that they had no inherent ability or authority to forgive any one of their transgressions:

"Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw. When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money and said, ‘Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’ Peter answered: ‘May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! you have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. PERHAPS he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.’ Then Simon answered, ‘Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.’" Acts 8:13-24

All Peter could do here was tell Simon, in light of his false conversion and perverted heart, to pray to God to forgive him since he himself couldn’t do so nor guarantee that he would be forgiven.

Thus, the foregoing shows that Jesus wasn’t claiming that his followers had the ability to forgive sins since this is a characteristic which God alone has (by God we mean the three distinct Persons of the Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit). For more on these issues we recommend the following articles:

Again, this is unlike the Quran which places Muhammad on the same level as Allah, making him a co-equal partner in his god’s decisions and judgments, thereby plainly contradicting those specific passages which say that Allah allows NO ONE to share in his rule and authority.

So much for Zawadi’s biblical examples.

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.


(1) What makes this all the more confusing and intriguing is that the Quran says that Muhammad himself was a sinner who needed to be purified and forgiven:

How, then, could he purify others when he himself was impure and sinful?

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