Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Mary in the Islamic Perspective, Part I

” Additional Proof for Jesus’ Superiority over Muhammad”

The Qur’an and Islamic literature say some rather interesting things about Jesus which, when examined closely, portray him as the most exalted and greatest of all of God’s messengers and prophets, be they angels or men. These materials clearly present Jesus as being vastly superior to Muhammad. In this specific article, we will focus on what the Islamic sources teach regarding Jesus’ blessed mother and contrast that with what Muslim tradition says in reference to Muhammad’s parents in order to illustrate our point.

Yet before proceeding into the topic we do need to qualify our use of the Islamic source material. We are not quoting the Qur’an or the Muslim traditions because we believe that God inspired these sources. Nor do we accept that these texts carry any real historical significance since they are not first century accounts which provide accurate eyewitness testimony on the Person and work of Christ. Rather, our reason for quoting them is to confront the Muslims that believe in these sources with what their own religious tradition teaches regarding Jesus’ superiority over their own prophet.

With this in mind we can now proceed into our discussion.

Muslim piety has elevated Muhammad to the highest position possible for a creature. (In fact, some would dare say that they have even taken it too far and have actually crossed the line in their devotion to their prophet.) According to the majority of Islamic scholars Muhammad is the greatest creature that God has made, superior to all created beings whether angels, jinn or men.

Note, for instance, what the following Muslim writer says regarding Muhammad’s superiority:

One of the names by which the Prophet Muhammad is known- upon him blessings and peace - is Khayru-l-Khalq or "Best of Creation." Other similar names of his with identical meaning are Khayru-l-Bariyya, Khayru Khalqillah, Khayru-l-`Alamina Turra, Khayru-n-Nas, Khayru Hadhihi-l-Umma, and Khîratullah. These titles refers to his high status over all human Prophets and Messengers as well as over the Jinn and angels - upon them peace. The Consensus of Muslims past and present - i.e. Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jama`a - over the matter was indicated in Shaykh Ibrahim al-Laqqani's (d. 1041) words, "steer clear of dissent" in his famous poem Jawharat al-Tawhid ("The Gem of Monotheism"):

65. wa afdalu al-khalqi `ala al-itlâqi; Nabiyyunâ fa mil `ani al-shiqâqi

Meaning: And the best of creatures in absolute terms; is our Prophet, so steer clear of dissent

Al-Bajuri (d. 1276), Sharh Jawharat al-Tawhid (1971 ed. p. 290): "I.e. among jinn, humankind, and angels, in the world and the hereafter, in all the attributes of goodness." Al-Sawi (d. 1241), Sharh Jawharat al-Tawhid (1999 ed. p. 295): "This assertion-of-superiority (tafdîl) is by Consensus (ijmâ`) of the Muslims, both Sunnis and Mu`tazila, except al-Zamakhshari [in al-Kashshaf (4:712), Surat al-Takwir] who violated the Consensus." `Abd al-Salam ibn Ibrahim al-Laqqani (d. 1078), Sharh Jawharat al-Tawhid (1990 ed. p. 186): "It is obligatory (wâjib) on every legally responsible person to believe that he is the best of all, and one who denies it commits a sin, is guilty of innovation, and deserves to be taught a lesson." …

Al-Bajuri (p. 293): "Al-Qadi Abu `Abd Allah al-Halimi [see on him the introduction to our translation of al-Bayhaqi's al-Asma' wa al-Sifat] together with others, such as the Mu`tazila, considered that the angels are better than the Prophets except our Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu `alayhi wa Alihi wa Sallam. Al-Sa`d [al-Taftazani] said [in Sharh al-`Aqa'id al-Nasafiyya]: 'There is nothing decisive in these issues.' Taj al-Din [ibn] al-Subki said [in Tabaqat al-Shafi`iyya al-Kubra]: 'Safety lies in refraining from speech on this question and to enter it in detail without decisive evidence is to enter into great peril, a ruling over something over which we are incapable of ruling.'" …

Al-Sawi (p. 297-298), al-Bajuri (p. 296): "Its conclusion being that our Prophet is the best of creation in absolute terms, then Ibrahim, then Musa, then `Isa, then Nuh - upon them peace - then the rest of the Messengers, then the non-Messenger Prophets - some of them being superior to others, but Allah alone knows in what detail, then Gibril, then Israfil, then Mika'il, then `Izra'il, then 'common human beings' (`awamm al-bashar) such as Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Uthman, and `Ali, then the mass of the angels." …

There are, in fact, 6,666 Qur'anic proofs that the Messenger of Allah - Sallallahu `alayhi wa Alihi wa Sallam - is (not "was") without doubt the Best of creation, namely, the verses of the Holy Qur'an, since it is the greatest of all revealed Books and their Seal, the only Book that Allah guaranteed to preserve, and the universal Revelation for all creation (including angels, cf. al-Haytami, Fatawa Hadithiyya p. 69, 151-154) as opposed to previous Revelations which were only for the people among whom they were revealed. And this Book was revealed to the heart of the Prophet Muhammad: "And lo! it is a revelation of the Lord of the Worlds which the True Spirit hath brought down upon thy heart" (26:192-194). They might be confused by the narrations forbidding the Companions from boasting the merits of one Prophet over the others, or preferring him over Musa, or preferring him over Yunus, Allah bless and greet our Prophet and them. However, these narrations denote humbleness on the part of the Seal of Prophets. That is what all the Ulema said in reply to the superficial contradiction between the latter narrations and the verses and narrations that firmly establish his superior status…

"Al-Sha`rani in Tabaqat al-Awliya' narrated from [his Shaykh] the Knower of Allah Abu al-Mawahib al-Shadhili that the latter said: 'A dispute took place between me and a certain person in the Mosque of al-Azhar over the statement of the author of al-Burda [Imam al-Busiri]:

Famablaghu al-`ilmi fîhi annahu basharun; wa annahu khayru khalqillâhi kullihimi

Meaning: The apex of knowledge concerning him is that he is a human being; and that he is the best of all the creation of Allah.

Whereupon that person said: He has no proof for this. I said to him: Consensus (ijma`) has formed over this. He did not change his view. Later I saw the Prophet - Sallallahu `alayhi wa Alihi wa Sallam - and with him were Abu Bakr and `Umar, Allah be well-pleased with them, sitting at the pulpit of the Azhar Mosque. He said to me: Marhaban bihabibi - Welcome to my dear beloved! Then he said to his friends: Do you know what happened today? They said No, O Messenger of Allah. He said: So-and-so the Wretch (Fulan al-Ta`is) believes that the angels are better than me!... What is wrong with him, disbelieving in the Consensus?'" …

May Allah send blessings and peace on the Prophet, his Family, and all his Companions. Even the Christians and Jews of old knew that the Prophet Muhammad is the best of creation, as evidenced by some of his names and attributes reportedly found in the Bible, such as "Ikleel = Crown [of creation]" and "Parakletos = Spirit of Holiness
." (G. F. Haddad, The Prophetic Title – "Best of Creation"; source)

What makes this rather ironic is that the parents of the "Best of creation" died as pagans and under the judgment of Allah. For example, the Qur’an forbade Muhammad from praying for his pagan relatives who died in unbelief:

It is not fitting, for the Prophet and those who believe, that they should pray for forgiveness for Pagans, even though they be of kin, after it is clear to them that they are companions of the Fire. And Abraham prayed for his father's forgiveness only because of a promise he had made to him. But when it became clear to him that he was an enemy to God, he dissociated himself from him: for Abraham was most tender-hearted, forbearing. S. 9:113-114 Y. Ali

According to certain Muslim expositors the above passage was directed to Muhammad and his companions who were invoking Allah to forgive their dead unbelieving folk:

The following was revealed regarding the Prophet (s) asking forgiveness for his uncle Abu Talib, and some of the Companions asking forgiveness for their idolatrous parents: It is not for the Prophet, and those who believe, to ask forgiveness for the idolaters, even though they be kinsmen, relatives, after it has become clear to them that they are inhabitants of the Hell-fire, for having died as disbelievers. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source)

And the exegetes also claim that the following verse:

It is true thou wilt not be able to guide every one, whom thou lovest; but God guides those whom He will and He knows best those who receive guidance. S. 28:56 Y. Ali

Was composed to censure Muhammad for trying to convince his uncle to become Muslim:
(Lo! thou) O Muhammad (guidest not) know not (whom thou lovest) i.e. whom you love to accept faith: i.e. Abu Talib, (but Allah guideth) He gives success and leads (whom He will) to His religion: Abu Bakr, 'Umar and their fellow believers. (And He is best aware of those who walk aright) to His religion. (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs; source)


The following was revealed regarding the Prophet's longing for his uncle Abu Talib to embrace faith: You cannot guide whom you like, to be guided, but [it is] God [Who] guides whomever He will, and He knows best those who will be guided. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source)

Finally: (Lo! thou (O Muhammad) guidest not whom thou lovest…) [28:56]. Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah al-Shirazi informed us- - Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Muhammad ibn Khamrawayh- - ‘Ali ibn Muhammad al-Khuza‘i- - Abu’l-Yaman al-Hakam ibn Nafi‘- - Shu‘ayb- - al-Zuhri- - Sa‘id ibn al-Musayyab- - his father who said: "When death was about to overtake Abu Talib, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, went to see him and there he found with him Abu Jahl and ‘Abd Allah ibn Abi Umayyah. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, addressed his uncle: ‘O uncle, say, there is no deity save Allah, and I will argue, by means of it, in your favour with Allah, Glorious and Exalted is He’. Abu Jahl and ‘Abd Allah ibn Abi Umayyah said: ‘O Abu Talib, would you shun the religion of ‘Abd al-Muttalib?’ The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, kept inviting him and repeating his words until the last thing that Abu Talib said was: ‘I follow the religion of ‘Abd al-Muttalib’, and he refused to say, there is no deity save Allah. At that point the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: ‘By Allah, I will ask Allah for your forgiveness for as long as I am not forbidden from doing so’. Then, Allah, glorious and majestic is He, revealed (It is not for the Prophet, and those who believe, to pray for the forgiveness of idolaters even though they may be near of kin (to them) after it hath become clear that they are people of Hell-fire) [9:113]. He also revealed about Abu Talib (Lo! thou (O Muhammad) guidest not whom thou lovest, but Allah guideth whom He will)". This was narrated by Bukhari- - Abu’l-Yaman- - Shu‘ayb and also by Muslim- - Harmalah- - Ibn Wahb- - Yunus; and both Yunus and Shu‘ayb related it from al-Zuhri. Master Abu Ishaq Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrahim informed us- - al-Hasan ibn Muhammad al-Shaybani- - Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Hafiz- - Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Bishr- - Yahya ibn Sa‘id- - Yazid ibn Kaysan- - Abu Hazim- - Abu Hurayrah who said: "The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said to his uncle: ‘Say: there is no deity save Allah, and I will be witness, by means of it, for you on the Day of Judgement’. ('Ali ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi, Asbab al-Nuzul; source)

Moreover, Allah didn’t merely prohibit Muhammad from praying for his pagan uncle. The allegedly sound narrations unapologetically state that Allah also forbade Muhammad from praying for his dead mother:


Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger, (may peace be upon him) as saying: I sought permission to beg forgiveness for my mother, but He did not grant it to me. I sought permission from Him to visit her grave, and He granted it (permission) to me. (Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 2129)

Abu Huraira reported: The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) visited the grave of his mother and he wept, and moved others around him to tears, and said: I sought permission from my Lord to beg forgiveness for her but it was not granted to me, and I sought permission to visit her grave and it was granted to me. So visit the graves, for that makes you mindful of death. (Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 2130)


Abu'l-Qasim 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Ahmad al-Harrani informed us- - Muhammad ibn 'Abd Allah ibn Nu'aym- - Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Umawi- - Bahr ibn Nasr- - Ibn Wahb- - Ibn Jurayj- - Ayyub ibn Hani'- - Masruq ibn al-Ajda'- - 'Abd Allah ibn Mas'ud- - who said: "The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, went out one day to look at the graveyards and we went out with him. He ordered us to sit and then proceeded across until he stopped at one particular grave. He spoke to it for a long time and then the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, wept loudly and we wept for his weeping. After a while, he came toward us and was met by 'Umar ibn al-Khattab who asked him: 'O Messenger of Allah, what has made you cry, for we also cried and we were also scared?' He came toward us, sat with us and then said: 'My weeping made you scared?' We said: 'Yes, O Messenger of Allah!' He said: 'The grave you saw me talking to is the grave of Aminah bint Wahb. I sought permission from my Lord to visit her and He allowed me to do so. Then, I asked His permission to pray for her forgiveness and He did not grant it. The words of Allah, exalted is He (It is not for the Prophet, and those who believe, to pray for the forgiveness of idolaters even though they may be near of kin (to them) after it hath become clear that they are people of hell-fire. The prayer of Abraham for the forgiveness of his father was only because of a promise he had promised him.) were revealed and I was seized by the tenderness which a son has toward his mother. This is the reason why I wept." ('Ali ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi, Asbab al-Nuzul; source)

Another source claims:

He (Ibn Sa‘d) said: Then they said: O Apostle of Allah, our mother Mulaykah Bint al-Hulw used to secure the freedom of prisoners, feed the mendicant and show compassion to the poor. She had died. She had interred alive a daughter of very tender age, so what would be her condition. He said: She who interred her (daughter) alive and she who was interred alive are both in hell fire. Thereupon they got infuriated. He said: Come to me. They came back and he said: MY MOTHER IS WITH YOURS. They rejected it, and went away saying: By Allah! This man who made us eat the heart and thinks that our mother is in hell-fire, is not worthy of being followed. They set out and on the way they confronted one of the Companions of the Apostle of Allah who was bringing camels of sadaqah. They tied him and carried away the camels. This news reached the Prophet. He cursed them along with those whom he was cursing in these words: May Allah curse Ri‘l, Dhakwan, ‘Usayyah, Lihyan, and two sons of Mulaykah–Ibn Harim and Murran. (Ibn Sa'ad's Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir, English translation by S. Moinul Haq, M.A., PH.D, assisted by H.K. Ghazanfar M.A. [Kitab Bhavan Exporters & Importers, 1784 Kalan Mahal, Daryaganj, New Delhi - 110 002 India], Volume I, Parts I & II, pp. 383-384)

The so-called sound reports further claim that Muhammad’s father is actually burning in hell:


Anas reported: Verily, a person said: Messenger of Allah, where is my father? He said: (He) is in the Fire. When he turned away, he (the Holy Prophet) called him and said:Verily my father and your father are in the Fire. (Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 0398)

Muslims were obviously troubled by these claims since some of them fabricated certain narrations stating that Allah raised Muhammad’s parents back to life in order to give them an opportunity to profess faith in their son’s prophethood and thereby be saved. These reports, however, are rejected as forgeries by the Muslim Ulema (scholars):

Al-Suyooti (may Allaah have mercy on him) was of the view that the parents of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) will be saved (from Hell), and that Allaah brought them back to life after they had died and they believed in him.

This view was rejected by the majority of scholars who ruled that the ahaadeeth which indicate that are fabricated (mawdoo’) or very weak (da’eef jiddan).

It says in ‘Awn al-Ma’bood: Most of the reports that been narrated to the effect that the parents of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) were brought back to life and believed in him and were saved are fabricated and false. Some of them are very weak and cannot be saheeh under any circumstances, as the imams of hadeeth are unanimously agreed that they are fabricated, such as al-Daaraqutni, al-Jawzaqaani, Ibn Shaheen, al-Khateeb, Ibn ‘Asaakir, Ibn Naasir, Ibn al-Jawzi, al-Suhayli, al-Qurtubi, al-Muhibb, al-Tabari, Fath al-Deen ibn Sayyid al-Naas, Ibraaheem al-Halabi and others. The scholar Ibraaheem al-Halabi explained at length the fact that the parents of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) have not been saved from Hell in a separate essay, as did ‘Ali al-Qaari in Sharh al-Fiqh al-Akbar and in a separate essay. The basis for this opinion is the soundness of this hadeeth ("My father and your father are in Hell"). Shaykh Jalaal al-Deen al-Suyooti differed from the huffaaz and scholars and affirmed that they had believed and had been saved, and he wrote numerous essays on that topic, including al-Ta’zeem wa’l-Minnah fi anna Abaway Rasool-Illaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) fi’l-Jannah.

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked: Is there any saheeh report from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) that Allaah brought his parents back to life so that they could become Muslims, then they died (again) after that?

He replied: There is no saheeh report to that effect from the scholars of hadeeth. Rather the scholars are agreed that this is an invented lie… There is no dispute among the scholars that this is one of the most obvious of fabrications, as was stated by those who have knowledge. That does not appear in any of the reliable books of hadeeth, either in the Saheehs or the Sunans or the Musnads or any other well-known books of hadeeth. It was not mentioned by the authors of the books of Maghaazi or Tafseer, even though they narrated da’eef (weak) reports along with saheeh (sound) ones. The fact that this is a lie is clear to any one who has any knowledge of religion. If such a thing had happened there would have been a great deal of motivation to transmit it, because it is something that is extraordinary on two counts: the raising of the dead and believing after death. Such a thing would have been more deserving of being transmitted than anything else. Since no trustworthy narrated transmitted it, it may be understood that this is a lie.

Moreover, this goes against the Qur’aan and the saheeh Sunnah, and the consensus of the scholars. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

"Allaah accepts only the repentance of those who do evil in ignorance and foolishness and repent soon afterwards; it is they whom Allaah will forgive and Allaah is Ever All-Knower, All-Wise.

18. And of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil deeds until death faces one of them and he says: ‘Now I repent;’ nor of those who die while they are disbelievers" [al-Nisa’ 4:17-18]

So Allaah states that there is no repentance for one who dies as a disbeliever. And Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

"Then their Faith (in Islamic Monotheism) could not avail them when they saw Our punishment. (Like) this has been the way of Allaah in dealing with His slaves. And there the disbelievers lost utterly (when Our Torment covered them)" [Ghaafir 40:85]

So He tells us that the way in which He deals with His slaves is that faith will be to no avail once they have seen the punishment, so how about after death? And there are other similar texts. Then he quoted the two hadeeth which we quoted at the beginning of our answer.

Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 4/325-327.
(Question #47170: Are the parents of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) in Paradise or in Hell?; source)


Praise be to Allaah. There is no saheeh hadeeth which says that Allaah, may He be exalted, brought the parents of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) back to life, and that they believed in him then died. Rather the saheeh ahaadeeth that have been narrated indicated that they died in kufr and that they are among the people of Hell… It is sufficient to refute this hadeeth by remembering the words of Allaah, may He be exalted, in the verse (interpretation of the meaning): "and dies as a disbeliever, then his deeds will be lost in this life and in the Hereafter, and they will be the dwellers of the Fire. They will abide therein forever" [al-Baqarah 2:217]. And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "I asked my Lord for permission to pray for forgiveness for my mother, but He did not give me permission." Some people used to fabricate ahaadeeth and insert them into the books of the negligent, who would then narrate them. Our Shaykh, Abu’l-Fadl ibn Naasir, said: This is a fabricated hadeeth. The mother of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) died in al-Abwa’, between Makkah and Madeenah, and was buried there, not in al-Hajoon. End quote.

Al-Mawdoo’aat, 1/283 (Question #70297: How sound is the hadeeth about the parents of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) being brought back to life?; source)

See also:

It is therefore clear that, according to certain sources which Muslim scholars deem to be authentic, Muhammad’s parents are burning in hell. If I were a Muslim, I too would be greatly bothered by this fact.(1)

Continues on Part II



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