Muhammad The Doubter Still!

Being Another Reply To A Dawagandist

Sam Shamoun

This is a partial response to Zawadi’s rebuttal (*) concerning Muhammad being a doubter and sinner who was often rebuked by his deity (*).

The Quran says that Muhammad had doubts concerning whether he was really receiving revelations:

And if thou (Muhammad) art in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto thee, then question those who read the Scripture (that was) before thee. Verily the Truth from thy Lord hath come unto thee. So be not thou of the waverers. S. 10:94

In his initial replies and articles (1, 2), Bassam Zawadi sourced certain Muslim expositors who asserted that Muhammad responded to this verse by saying that he doesn’t doubt and therefore would not ask. Zawadi assumes from this that his prophet didn’t have any doubts but was trying to establish evidence from the Bible concerning his coming in order to force the Jews to acknowledge that he is a messenger.

Here are his comments concerning this issue:

How can Shamoun say that the passage clearly and plainly teaches that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had doubts? The Qur'an is basically saying, "IF YOU HAVE DOUBTS then..." It does not say "YOU HAVE doubts now oh Muhammad, therefore let the Christians and Jews reassure you of your faith" The verse is saying 'IF' and that is a huge difference… (Source)

For some strange reason Zawadi thinks that the "if" clause somehow proves that Muhammad didn’t have any doubts (or doesn’t necessarily mean that he did have any). Yet there are two main problems with his claim.

First, the very existence of this verse is evidence that there was doubt. If there had been no doubt at all, why would such a verse even be revealed, a verse without any application? No, because there was doubt in Muhammad’s mind, whether expressed explicitly or only lingering in his mind, therefore this verse became necessary. Giving him that option may already have been enough reassurance to calm those doubts – now he knows what he could do. Now there is, supposedly, a clear way to resolve those doubts.

Second, Zawadi erroneously assumes that the word if cannot function the same way that the word since does, e.g. "since you have doubts then…" To show how the words "if" and "since" can function as synonyms at times here is a text from the Quran where the "if" has the same meaning as "since":

Then they found one of Our servants unto whom We had given mercy from Us, and We had taught him knowledge proceeding from Us. Moses said to him, 'Shall I follow thee so that thou teachest me, of what thou hast been taught, right judgment?' Said he, 'Assuredly thou wilt not be able to bear with me patiently. And how shouldst thou bear patiently that thou hast never encompassed in thy knowledge?' He said, 'Yet thou shalt find me, if God will, patient; and I shall not rebel against thee in anything.' Said he, 'Then IF thou followest me, question me not on anything until I myself introduce the mention of it to thee.' S. 18:65-70

It is obvious that Moses’ guide didn’t doubt that the prophet wanted to accompany him since the latter already made his intention known that this is what he was seeking to do. This clearly shows that the "if" statement should be translated as since, i.e. "since you want to follow me then do not question me."

In a similar manner, we shouldn’t take the "if" in Q. 10:94 as a denial that Muhammad had doubts, especially when he is expressly told not to be among the doubters. We should rather see the "if" functioning in the same way that the term "since" does, and the verse should therefore be rendered in the following manner:

And SINCE you are in doubt concerning that which we revealed unto you, then question those who read the Scripture before you. Verily the Truth has come to you from your Lord. SO DO NOT BE OF THOSE WHO DOUBT.

Lest we be accused of grossly distorting or misunderstanding the text we will cite two Islamic scholars, both of whom acknowledge that this verse was composed to alleviate Muhammad’s lingering fears and unbelief:

4) Among his people, the Prophet was famously known for his truthfulness during the first forty years of his life; it logically follows, therefore, that he was also truthful with himself. So in studying the reality of revelation and what was happening to him he for sure realized that there was no need to doubt what he was experiencing was real. As for the INITIAL FEARS he had, the following Verse REFUTES THEM:

"So if you (O Muhammad) are in doubt concerning that which We have revealed unto you, [i.e. that your name is written in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] then ask those who are reading the Book [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] before you. Verily, the truth has come to you from your Lord. So be not of those who doubt (it)." (Qur’an 10: 94)

It has been related that AFTER this Verse was revealed, the Prophet said, "I do not doubt, and I do not ask."

[1] Related by At-Tabaraanee (17906, 17908), with his chain from Qatadah. Also, refer to Tafseer Al-Qurtubi (8/340). (Dr. ‘Ali Muhammad As-Sallabee, The Noble Life of the Prophet, translated by Faisal Shafeeq [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, First Edition: October 2005], Volume 1, p. 140; capital emphasis ours)


4) The Prophet’s honesty and integrity over a period of forty years and the reputation which he enjoyed among his people as a result of this required him to be truthful, first and foremost, with himself. Hence, he must, through his study of the revelatory event which he had experienced, have overcome any doubts which had come into his mind. The following verse seems to have been revealed in response to his initial self-examination in relation to the revelation he had received: “So if you are in doubt (O Muhammad), about that which We have revealed to you, then ask those who have been reading the Scripture before you. The truth has certainly come to you from your Lord, so never be among the doubters” [Jonah 10:94]. It is related that following the descent of this verse, the Prophet said, “I do not doubt, nor do I question.” (Dr. M. Sa’id Ramadan al-Buti, The Jurisprudence of the Prophetic Biography & A Brief History of the Orthodox Caliphate, translated by Nancy Roberts, revised by Anas al-Rifa’i [Dar al Fikr in Damascus, Reprinted 2006], p. 147; bold and underline emphasis ours)

It is apparent that, taking for granted that what Zawadi says is correct, these Muslim scholars (the first of whom happens to be a Salafi, the sect followed by Zawadi) were rather ignorant of how the word "if" functioned in the Arabic Quran. Didn’t they know that this passage wasn’t implying that Muhammad actually had doubts seeing that it uses an "if" clause?

Aside from Zawadi’s erroneous assertion, what makes the comments of these particular Islamic authors rather interesting is that not only do they both candidly admit that Muhammad did have uncertainties concerning his calling but they honestly admit that their prophet’s response that he will not doubt wasn’t an indication that he didn’t have any fears at all. Rather, Muhammad’s statements meant that he wouldn’t continue to have them anymore in light of the admonition of this verse! This exposition perfectly agrees with what we have been saying all along, namely, Muhammad continued to have fears for a considerable period of time which upset his deity so much that he had to constantly rebuke him until his doubts were finally gone.

We come to the final point that we want to address for now. Zawadi says that Muhammad couldn’t save anyone since he isn’t God:

My Response:

Yes the Prophet (peace be upon him) does not have the ability to save people from hellfire, for he doesn't decide the person's eternal fate. So what? He is not God. Muslims never claimed that he was. He is only a Prophet/Messenger. He has no divine powers.

Pay attention to the implications of Zawadi’s formulation. Since Muhammad isn’t God he cannot save anyone, which means that if he (or anyone else for that matter) could actually save a person from hell then this implies that he is God.

Zawadi’s reasoning goes something like this:

  1. Only God can save people from hell.
  2. Muhammad was only a man who was uncertain about his own salvation (cf. Q. 18:110; 41:6; 46:9).
  3. Therefore, Muhammad cannot save anyone from hell.

Here is where Zawadi’s inconsistency comes shining through. There are scores of passages where the Lord Jesus claims to be able to save people perfectly and redeem them from their sins:

"When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven… But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…’" Mark 2:5, 10

"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:45

"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21

"Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ The other guests began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ Luke 7:48-49

"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." Luke 19:10

"Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." John 3:14-18

"For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it… I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live… Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned." John 5:21, 24-25, 28-29

"And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:39-40

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one." John 10:27-30

"Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ she told him, ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.’" John 11:23-27

"As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it." John 12:47

Notice what happens when we apply Zawadi’s logic to the statements of the Lord Jesus:

  1. Only God can save people from hell.
  2. Jesus saves people from hell.
  3. Therefore, Jesus is God Almighty.

Yet Zawadi still refuses to accept the plain meaning of these citations and continuously denies that Jesus, in the NT, taught his followers that he is God by claiming to do the very works that only can God do!

Moreover, even though the Quran says Muhammad was a weak, sinful mortal it further teaches that Muhammad had the ability to purify people from their sins:

Truly God was gracious to the believers when He raised up among them a Messenger from themselves, to recite to them His signs and to purify them, and to teach them the Book and the Wisdom, though before they were in manifest error. S. 3:164

It is He who has raised up from among the common people a Messenger from among them, to recite His signs to them and to purify them, and to teach them the Book and the Wisdom, though before that they were in manifest error, S. 62:2

The hadith literature takes this a step further and states that he will even save people from hell:

Narrated Ma’bad bin Hilal Al’Anzi:

We, i.e., some people from Basra gathered and went to Anas bin Malik, and we went in company with Thabit Al-Bunnani so that he might ask him about the Hadith of Intercession on our behalf. Behold, Anas was in his palace, and our arrival coincided with his Duha prayer. We asked permission to enter and he admitted us while he was sitting on his bed. We said to Thabit, "Do not ask him about anything else first but the Hadith of Intercession." He said, "O Abu Hamza! There are your brethren from Basra coming to ask you about the Hadith of Intercession." Anas then said, "Muhammad talked to us saying, ‘On the Day of Resurrection the people will surge with each other like waves, and then they will come to Adam and say, ‘Please intercede for us with your Lord.’ He will say, ‘I am not fit for that but you'd better go to Abraham as he is the Khalil of the Beneficent.’ They will go to Abraham and he will say, ‘I am not fit for that, but you'd better go to Moses as he is the one to whom Allah spoke directly.’ So they will go to Moses and he will say, ‘I am not fit for that, but you'd better go to Jesus as he is a soul created by Allah and His Word.’ (Be: And it was) they will go to Jesus and he will say, ‘I am not fit for that, but you'd better go to Muhammad.’

They would come to me and I would say, ‘I am for that.’ Then I will ask for my Lord's permission, and it will be given, and then He will inspire me to praise Him with such praises as I do not know now. So I will praise Him with those praises and will fall down, prostrate before Him. Then it will be said, ‘O Muhammad, raise your head and speak, for you will be listened to; and ask, for your will be granted (your request); and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted.’ I will say, ‘O Lord, my followers! My followers!’ And then it will be said, ‘Go and take out of Hell (Fire) all those who have faith in their hearts, equal to the weight of a barley grain.’ I will go and do so and return to praise Him with the same praises, and fall down (prostrate) before Him. Then it will be said, ‘O Muhammad, raise your head and speak, for you will be listened to, and ask, for you will be granted (your request); and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted.’ I will say, ‘O Lord, my followers! My followers!’ It will be said, ‘Go and take out of it all those who have faith in their hearts equal to the weight of a small ant or a mustard seed.’ I will go and do so and return to praise Him with the same praises, and fall down in prostration before Him. It will be said, ‘O, Muhammad, raise your head and speak, for you will be listened to, and ask, for you will be granted (your request); and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted.’ I will say, ‘O Lord, my followers!’ Then He will say, ‘Go and take out (all those) in whose hearts there is faith even to the lightest, lightest mustard seed. (Take them) out of the Fire.’ I will go and do so."

When we left Anas, I said to some of my companions, "Let's pass by Al-Hasan who is hiding himself in the house of Abi Khalifa and request him to tell us what Anas bin Malik has told us." So we went to him and we greeted him and he admitted us. We said to him, "O Abu Said! We came to you from your brother Anas Bin Malik and he related to us a Hadith about the intercession the like of which I have never heard." He said, "What is that?" Then we told him of the Hadith and said, "He stopped at this point (of the Hadith)." He said, "What then?" We said, "He did not add anything to that." He said, Anas related the Hadith to me twenty years ago when he was a young fellow. I don't know whether he forgot or if he did not like to let you depend on what he might have said." We said, "O Abu Said! Let us know that." He smiled and said, "Man was created hasty. I did not mention that, but that I wanted to inform you of it.

Anas told me the same as he told you and said that the Prophet added, ‘I then return for a fourth time and praise Him similarly and prostrate before Him me the same as he ‘O Muhammad, raise your head and speak, for you will be listened to; and ask, for you will be granted (your request): and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted.’ I will say, ‘O Lord, allow me to intercede for whoever said, ‘None has the right to be worshiped except Allah.’ Then Allah will say, ‘By my Power, and my Majesty, and by My Supremacy, and by My Greatness, I will take out of Hell (Fire) whoever said: ‘None has the right to be worshipped except Allah.’" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 601)

So we now have a major contradiction in the Quran since Zawadi’s reasoning leads to the conclusion that Muhammad is god which his Muslim scripture emphatically denies. Here, once again, is Zawadi’s logic and how it causes problems for his beliefs:

  1. Only God saves people from hell.
  2. Muhammad saves people from hell.
  3. Therefore, Muhammad is god.
  4. Yet Muhammad is only a man.
  5. If he is only a man then he cannot save anyone from hell.
  6. Therefore, we have a clear-cut contradiction in the Quran.

We come to the conclusion of our rebuttal. Lord Jesus willing, we will have more to say in regard to Zawadi’s other points in some upcoming responses.

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