Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

None Can Feel Safe From Allah’s Schemes

How the deceptive and capricious nature of Muhammad’s deity
Caused Abu Bakr to despair for his salvation

Sam Shamoun

Abu Bakr wasn’t only Muhammad’s best friend and father-in-law, he was also Islam’s first caliph or leader and one of the greatest Muslims that ever lived. He was also one of ten men whom Muhammad personally guaranteed would enter paradise:

Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, `Atiq ibn Abi Quhafa, Shaykh al-Islam, `Abd Allah ibn `Uthman ibn `Amir al-Qurashi al-Taymi (d. 13), the Prophet’s intimate friend after Allah, exclusive companion at the Prophet’s Basin (hawd) and in the Cave, greatest supporter, closest confidant, first spiritual inheritor, first of the men who believed in him and the only one who did so unhesitatingly, first of his four Rightly-Guided successors, first of the ten promised Paradise, and first of the Prophet’s Community to enter Paradise. (Source)


By Divinely-ordained prescription (tawqif) the best human beings after Prophets are the Companions, in the following order:

  • First, the Ten Promised Paradise; these are: Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Uthman, Ali, al-Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam, Talha, `Abd al-Rahman ibn 'Awf, Abu -Ubayda ibn al-Jarrah, Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas, and Sa`id ibn Zayd ibn `Amr. (Sh. G. F. Haddad, Sahaba)

However, Abu Bakr knew his god too well and was aware that such a promise was pretty much meaningless since Allah cannot be trusted seeing that he boasts of being the greatest deceiver of them all:

But they (the Jews) schemed/connived/used deceit (Wa-makaroo), and Allah schemed/connived/used deceit, for Allah is the best of deceivers (wa-makara Allahu wa-Allahu khayru al-makireena)! S. 3:54; cf. 8:30

As such, Allah could say one thing but do another since Allah has no problem changing his mind or breaking his word:

Whatever a Verse (revelation) do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring a better one or similar to it. Know you not that Allah is able to do all things? S. 2:106 Hilali-Khan

Allah basically does whatever he wants to whomever he wants when he wants to since he doesn’t answer to anyone:

He cannot be questioned as to what He does, while they will be questioned. S. 21:23

This is why Abu Bakr wept over not knowing whether he was truly saved or not:

“Although he had such a faith, which was too great to suffice all the inhabitants of the earth, he was afraid that his heart might go astray. So, he used to utter, while weeping: ‘Would that I have been a bitten tree!’ Whenever he was reminded of his position in Allah’s sight, he would say: ‘By Allah! I would not rest assured and feel safe from the deception of Allah (la amanu limakr Allah), even if I had one foot in paradise.’” (Khalid Muhammad Khalid, Successors of the Messenger, translated by Muhammad Mahdi al-Sharif [Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyah, Beirut Lebanon, 2005], Book One: Abu Bakr Has Come, p. 99; bold and italic emphasis ours)

What a sad state of affairs! Abu Bakr was so fearful of Allah’s schemes that he still felt that he couldn’t be safe from Allah’s deceit even if he already had one foot in paradise!(1)

Abu Bakr had every reason to be fearful that his heart might turn away from the faith since this close companion of Muhammad knew what the Quran says about Allah misleading and turning people away from the guidance:

Then what is the matter with you that you are divided into two parties about the hypocrites? Allah has cast them back (to disbelief) because of what they have earned. Do you want to guide him whom Allah has made to go astray? And he whom Allah has made to go astray, you will never find for him any way (of guidance). S. 4:88

And We sent not a Messenger except with the language of his people, in order that he might make (the Message) clear for them. Then Allah misleads whom He wills and guides whom He wills. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise. S. 14:4

He would have also known what Muhammad himself taught about a person who believes and does good for most of his life and then all of a sudden completely turns away from the faith:

Chapter 4. What Has Been Related About ‘One’s Deeds Depend Upon One’s End’

2137. ‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ud said: "The Messenger of Allah narrated to us – and he is the truthful and entrusted one: ‘Indeed the creation of one of you is gathered inside his mother in forty days. Then, for a similar period, he is a clot. Then, for a similar period, he is a piece of flesh. Then Allah sends the angel to him to blow the soul into him, and he is ordered to write four (things): To write his provision, his life-span, his works, and whether he will be wretched or happy. By the One besides Whom there is none other worthy of worship! One of you will do deeds of the people of the Paradise, until there is between him and it but a forearm span, THEN HE IS OVERCOME BY WHAT IS WRITTEN FOR HIM, and he is sealed off with the deeds of the people of the Fire, so that he enters it. And indeed one of you will do deeds of the people of the Fire, until there is between him and it but a forearm span, then he is overcome by what is written for him, and he is sealed off with the deeds of the people of Paradise, so that he enters it.’" (Sahih)

[Abu ‘Eisa said:] This Hadith is Hasan Sahih.

(Another chain, but including Yahya bin Sa‘eed) with similar meaning.

[Abu ‘Eisa said:] There are narrations on this topic from Abu Hurairah and Anas and I heard Ahmad bin Al-Hasan say: "I heard Ahmad bin Hanbal saying: ‘I have not seen the likes of Yahya bin Sa‘eed with my eyes.’" And this Hadith is Hasan Sahih


It is necessary that all of us be constantly supplicating Allah for a good end to our lives, and salvation from an evil end. It is also necessary that we, on the basis of our seeing a person doing what he does, do not jump to judgement on whether he is destined for Hell or Paradise, since we have no means to know how he will behave towards the end of his life. (English Translation of Jami‘ At-Tirmidhi, Compiled by Imam Hafiz ‘Eisa Mohammad Ibn ‘Eisa At-Tirmidhi, From Hadith no. 1897 to 2605, translated by Abu Khalil (USA), Ahadith edited and referenced by Hafiz Abu Tahir Zubair ‘Ali Za’i, final review by Islamic Research Section Darussalam [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, First Edition: November 2007], Volume 4, pp. 200-201; underline emphasis ours)

In light of this Abu Bakr had every reason to be fearful of Allah turning his heart away and condemning him to hell despite the fact that Muhammad had personally guaranteed his salvation! Abu Bakr surely knew from both the Quran and his prophet’s teachings that the Islamic deity is a deceiver who cannot be trusted to do what he promises.

A Weak Narration?

Some Muslims out of embarrassment argue that this narration from Abu Bakr is either a weak report or a sheer fabrication. They realize just how damaging this story is and how poorly it reflects on Allah’s reliability as well as Abu Bakr’s faithfulness so they choose to simply brush it aside by classifying it as weak or deeming it a forgery.

However, there are several main problems with claiming that this is a weak report or an outright fabrication.

In the first place a weak narration is not necessarily an inauthentic one. Even those hadiths which some scholars have classified as weak can still be based on reliable information, especially when supported by the testimony of the Quran. In fact, this report perfectly comports with the Muslim scripture since according to the latter it is only those who perish that feel secure from the deception or makr of Allah:

Are the people of the townships then secure from the coming of Our wrath upon them as a night-raid while they sleep? Or are the people of the townships then secure from the coming of Our wrath upon them in the daytime while they play? Are they then secure from Allah's scheme (makra Allahi)? None deemeth himself secure from Allah's scheme (makra Allahi) save folk that perish. S. 7:97-99 Pickthall

What! do they then feel secure from Allah's plan? But none feels secure from Allah's plan except the people who shall perish. S. 7:99 Shakir

The implication here is that the believers know better than to feel safe from Allah’s schemes and deceit. Thus, since Abu Bakr was a believer who knew the Quran it only makes perfect sense that he would be deathly afraid of Allah’s tricks or plotting and therefore have serious doubts about his own salvation.

Moreover, Muhammad himself was extremely fearful of Allah’s judgment since he used to panic whenever a strong wind blew, an eclipse occurred, or if there was a cloud in the sky. Muhammad thought that these natural phenomena signified that the day of judgment was at hand!

Narrated Abu Musa:
The sun eclipsed and the Prophet got up, being afraid that it might be the Hour (i.e. Day of Judgment). He went to the Mosque and offered the prayer with the longest Qiyam, bowing and prostration that I had ever seen him doing. Then he said, "These signs which Allah sends do not occur because of the life or death of somebody, but Allah makes His worshipers afraid by them. So when you see anything thereof, proceed to remember Allah, invoke Him and ask for His forgiveness." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 18, Number 167)

Narrated Anas:
Whenever a strong wind blew, anxiety appeared on the face of the Prophet (fearing that wind might be a sign of Allah's wrath). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 17, Number 144)

Narrated Ata:
'Aisha said, "If the Prophet saw a cloud in the sky, he would walk to and fro in agitation, go out and come in, and the color of his face would change, and if it rained, he would feel relaxed." So 'Aisha knew that state of his. So the Prophet said, "I don't know (am afraid), it may be similar to what happened to some people referred to in the Holy Quran in the following Verse: -- ‘Then when they saw it as a dense cloud coming towards their valleys, they said, "This is a cloud bringing us rain!" Nay, but, it is that (torment) which you were asking to be hastened a wind wherein is severe torment.’ (46.24)" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Number 428)

He also feared such things as punishment in the grave:

Narrated Masruq:
‘Aisha said that a Jewess came to her and mentioned the punishment in the grave, saying to her, "May Allah protect you from the punishment of the grave." ‘Aisha then asked Allah’s Apostle about the punishment of the grave. He said, "Yes, (there is) punishment in the grave." ‘Aisha added, "After that I never saw Allah’s Apostle but seeking refuge with Allah from the punishment in the grave in every prayer he prayed." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 23, Number 454)

Now why would Muhammad be afraid of the grave or the day of judgment if he was certain of his salvation? The answer is obvious… Muhammad, like his best friend and father-in-law, knew better than to feel safe and secure from Allah’s schemes and deceptions!

Secondly, the narration passes the criterion of embarrassment, which is one of the principles used by historians to determine whether a particular anecdote or event likely happened. Accordingly, this is a rather embarrassing episode since it depicts Allah as a cruel despot who cannot be trusted to do what he says and portrays one of the greatest Muslims who ever lived as a person who did not have complete trust in his god to keep his promises. It, therefore, becomes all the more likely that this narrative is based on a sound report seeing how it presents both Allah and Muhammad’s best friend in a less than favorable or admirable light. After all, why would Muslims want to create such an embarrassing story that casts shame and reflects so poorly on the character of their god as well as upon one of their greatest leaders?

Thirdly, the author’s entire point in quoting this narration is to show just how pious and humble Abu Bakr truly was. As such, it makes absolutely no sense for him to cite an unreliable report, one deemed to be defective or weak, especially when he knows that Muslim scholars would not accept such narrations, especially when it comes to establishing a specific point. In light of this we would naturally expect the author to reference a saying which Muslim scholars accept as sound, as being reliable, since it would defeat his entire purpose to source a weak or fabricated narration.

These factors present a very strong case that this particular narration can be trusted to tell us how Abu Bakr actually felt about his salvation and the reliability of his god.

The true followers of the true God

Contrast Abu Bakr’s fears and doubts with the assurance that Jesus' followers had concerning their salvation and of all those who truly believe in Christ:

“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don't you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.’” Luke 23:39-43

“But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said,I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep.” Acts 7:55-60

“But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.” Philippians 1:18-25

“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8 – cf. 2 Peter 1:13-15

Christ’s followers knew that their God, unlike Allah, could be trusted to keep his promises since he is a faithful God who never lies:

“As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable.” Romans 11:28-29

“Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God's elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness — a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and at his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior.” Titus 1:1-3

“Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:17-20

We invite Muslims to abandon their god Allah and turn to serve and worship the living and true God who is revealed in his true Word, the Holy Bible. It is only the God of the Holy Bible that gives those who truly love him the absolute assurance of salvation:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus… because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. … For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:1, 14-17, 28-39

“For they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead — Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life — not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” 2 Timothy 1:7-12

“We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:13-18

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(1) We do need to mention that the Muslim translator has deliberately distorted the original text of Muhammad Khalid’s book. Instead of translating the Arabic words limakr Allah as “the deception of Allah” he has decided to render it as, “from Allah’s punishment,” in order to obscure the real meaning. It seems that the Muslim translator was rather embarrassed by Abu Bakr’s statement that Allah is a deceiver whose promises of granting eternal bliss to the faithful cannot be trusted.

If the reader is interested in seeing what the original text really says we suggest that they turn to page 70 of the Arabic version of Muhammad Khalid’s book.