Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Refuting a Muslim Propagandist’s “Reply” to

Muhammad's Idolatry and Arabic Grammar:

Exposing the Smokescreens of Muslim Apologists

Sam Shamoun

Bassam Zawadi has enlisted the aid of an Arabic tutor, namely Jalal Abualrub, to help him “reply” to brother Dimitrius’ article concerning Muhammad’s worship of the false goddesses Allat and al-Uzza. We encourage the readers to first read my response to the original Muslim argument, then Dimitrius’ reply, and finally Zawadi’s since this will insure that the readers will be able to follow along with our rebuttal.

Dimitrius argued that the words recorded in the following hadith, particularly the response of Muhammad’s first wife,

Narrated by Abdullah, narrated by his father, narrated by Abu Usama Hamad Ibn Usama, narrated by Hisham Ibn Urwah, narrated from his father who related that a neighbor of Khadija bint Khuwaylid heard the prophet say, “O Khadija! By Allah I do not worship Al-Lat nor Al-Uzza. By Allah I do not worship (them) at all.” Khadija replied, “Leave Al-Lat and leave Al-Uzza.”

He (the neighbor) said this was THEIR IDOL which THEY USED TO WORSHIP after which they would lay down to sleep.

Make no sense unless Muhammad had at some point in his life worshiped Allat and al-Uzza.

Zawadi claims that it does make sense and offers a desperate explanation that all Khadijah was doing here was to simply comfort Muhammad by telling him to ignore these goddesses! He erroneously thinks that her comments somehow are out of sync if in fact she was agreeing with Muhammad that they should stop worshiping these idols. Zawadi thinks that her words only make sense if we assume that they never worshiped these false gods.

However, Zawadi utterly fails to provide any solid reason or proof why this is so and simply assumes that this must be the case.

Zawadi then quotes the words of Mohar Ali to show that Dimitrius’ argument doesn’t make sense:

For if the Prophet, after having worshipped the idols with Khadijah for any length of time, had subsequently developed a new attitude towards them she would have been well aware of it and the conversation on the subject would have taken a different form. At least Khadijah would not have cut short of the subject by saying "leave that Al-Lat, leave that Al-'Uzza" and would rather have sought some explanation for her husband's new attitude. Nor would the Prophet have replied in the manner he did but would have used some other words indicating the reason for his new attitude, especially as he was talking to his wife. Thus the tenor and purport of the conversation make it amply clear that it took place, if at all, at the very initial stage of their marital life when the Prophet was confronted for the first time with a situation which necessitated a statement of his attitude towards the idols. Most probably it took place when he spent the night for the first time with Khadijah's parental family or it was the annual occasion falling for the first time after their marriage when the Quraysh used to pay homage to those idols. These explanations of the incident having taken place at the initial stage of their married life would fit in well with everything in the report. It would agree with the correct meaning of the Prophet's statement, as noted above, without the need for manipulating it in order to make it conform to a particular preconception.

That Zawadi actually thinks that Ali is making valid points merely proves that Zawadi is incapable of critical thinking and isn’t interested in the facts. He is only interested in providing a response, no matter how bad or irrational it may actually be, in order to give his readers the impression that the points of his opponents are actually being refuted.

If Zawadi had taken the moment to actually analyze Ali’s assertions, as opposed to simply blindly accepting his claims, he may have been able to see all the gaping holes in Ali’s logic.

In the first place, Ali’s statements presume to know the inner thoughts, the psychological makeup, of both Khadijah and Muhammad at this juncture in their lives. The problem is how does he know that Khadijah would have reacted in the manner he proposes? Does he presume to know what she was feeling at this point in time? How does he know that Muhammad and Khadijah hadn’t already thought of and talked about abandoning the worship of these false gods? How can he know for certain that what we have here is not the actual culmination, the final breaking point so to speak, of a process wherein both Muhammad and his wife had been agonizing over their worship of idols?

Secondly, Ali’s assertion fails to take into consideration that Khadijah’s first cousin Waraqa ibn Naufal had converted to Christianity and would have obviously shared with her the utter futility of worshiping idols.

In fact, Waraqa was the first man Khadijah consulted after Muhammad’s violent encounter with the spirit who had physically manhandled him and who also mentally and emotionally tormented him:

3. 'A'isha, Umm al-Mu'minin said, "The beginning of the revelation to the Messenger of Allah took the form of the true dream. Whenever he had this kind of dream, it was clear like the break of day [and was true]. Then he was made to love retreat and used to go into retreat in the cave of Hira' where he would devote himself to the worship of Allah alone, continuing in this worship for a number of nights until he felt inclined to return to his family. He would take provision for his stay. Then he would return to Khadija to restock with provision to do the same again. This lasted until the Truth came to him while he was in the cave of Hira'.

The angel came to him and said, 'Read!' He said, 'I cannot read.'"

The Prophet said, "He seized me and squeezed me until all the strength went out of me and then released me and said, 'Read !' I said, 'I cannot read.' Then he seized me and squeezed me a second time until all the strength when out of me and then released me. Then he seized me and squeezed me a third time and then released me, and then he said, 'Recite: In the Name of your Lord who created, created man from a blood clot. Recite: And your Lord is the Most Generous.'"

[She went on,] "Then the Messenger of Allah returned with that and his heart was quaking. He came to Khadija bint Khuwaylid and said, 'Wrap me up! Wrap me up!' They wrapped him up until the state of terror had left him and then he told Khadija what had happened and said, 'I am afraid for myself.' Khadija said, 'No, by Allah, Allah would never bring disgrace upon you. You maintain ties of kinship, bear people's burdens, help the destitute, give hospitality to your guests and help those who have been afflicted by calamities.'

"Khadija then went with him to Waraqa ibn Nawfal ibn Asad ibn 'Abdu'l-'Uzza, Khadija's cousin, who had become Christian during the Jahiliyya. He could write in Hebrew and wrote in Hebrew as much of the Gospel as Allah willed. He was an old man who had gone blind. Khadija said to him, 'Cousin! Listen to your nephew.' Waraqa said to him, 'Nephew, what have you seen?' The Messenger of Alla told him what he had seen. Waraqa said to him, 'This is the Namus [Jibril] which Allah sent to Musa. I wish that I were still young. I wish I might still be alive when your people drive you out!' The Messenger of Allah asked, 'Will they drive me out?' He said, 'Yes, no man has brought anything similar to what you have brought without being treated with hostility. If I am still alive on that day, I will give you my strong support.' Shortly after that, Waraqa died and there was a pause in the revelation."

4. Jabir ibn 'Abdullah al-Ansari said that while speaking about the intermission of the revelation that the Prophet said, "While I was out walking, I suddenly heard a voice from heaven. I raised my eyes and there was the same angel who had come to me at Hira'. He was sitting on a chair between the sky and the earth. I was afraid of him and returned home and said, 'Wrap me up! Wrap me up!' Then Allah sent down, 'O you enveloped in your cloak! Arise and warn.'.... up to 'and shun all filth.' After that revelation became intensive and continuous."

['Abdullah ibn Yusuf and Abu Salih corroborated with him. Hilal ibn Raddad corroborated with him in relating from az-Zuhri. Yunus and Ma'mar used the word bawadiruhu instead of fu'aduhu.] (Aisha Bewley, The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, Chapter 1: The Beginning of the Revelation)

This makes it all the more likely that Khadijah had already started questioning her worship of idols even before Muhammad came to her that night informing her that he would longer worship the daughters of Allah.

This leads us to our next point. The Islamic sources provide examples of people immediately abandoning the worship of their gods without delay or questioning whether this was the right thing to do:

Yunus stated, from Ibn Ishaq, “Then Abu Bakr met the Messenger of God and asked him, ‘Is it true what the Quraysh are saying, Muhammad? About you abandoning OUR gods, ridiculing our intellects, and calling our ancestors pagans?’

“The Messenger of God said, ‘Yes indeed. I am the Messenger of God, and His Prophet, He sent me to deliver his message and invite you to God by the truth. For I swear, God is the truth. I call upon you, O Abu Bakr, to believe in God alone, in Him who has no associate. And I call upon you to worship none but Him, and to devote yourself to obeying Him.’

“He then recited the Quran to him. And he neither confirmed nor refused.

“Then he did accept Islam, disavowed the idols, repudiated the other gods and affirmed the truth of Islam. When Abu Bakr went home he was a believer, a man of faith.”

Ibn Ishaq stated that Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Rahman b. ‘Abd Allah b. al-Husayn of Tamim related to him that the Messenger of God said, “I never called upon any man to embrace Islam without him expressing reluctance [sic], hesitation, and argument except Abu Bakr. He did not ‘akam (“hold back”) from Islam when I told him of it, nor did he hesitate at all.”

That which Ibn Ishaq stated, that “he neither confirmed nor refused”, is objectionable. For Ibn Ishaq and other have told how he (Abu Bakr) was the friend of the Messenger of God before his mission. He was known for his truthfulness, trustworthiness, fine disposition, and excellent qualities. These prevented him from lying to other morals, so how could he have given the lie to God?

Therefore, from the mere fact of his telling him that God had sent him, Abu Bakr PROMPTLY BELIEVED HIM, not holding back or delaying at all. (Ibn Kathir, The Life of the Prophet Muhammad (Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya), translated by professor Trevor Le Gassick, reviewed by Dr. Ahmed Fareed [Garnet Publishing Limited, 8 Southern Court, south Street Reading RG1 4QS, UK; The Center for Muslim Contribution to Civilization: First paperback edition, 2000], Volume I, pp. 314-315; bold, capital and italic emphasis ours)

If Muhammad’s influence on Abu Bakr was such that the latter immediately abandoned the worship of his false gods without delay or hesitation as a result of their close friendship does Zawadi really want us to believe that Khadijah would have reacted any differently in light of her close bond to her husband?

Abu Bakr wasn’t the only one who immediately abandoned his idolatry after hearing Muhammad:

“Nu‘aym b. ‘Abd Allah met him and enquired, ‘Where are you heading, ‘Umar?’

“He replied, ‘I’m looking for Muhammad, that Sabian who has disunited Quraysh, ridiculed their dreams, criticized their religion and slandered their gods. I’m going to kill him!’”

“Nu‘aym told him, ‘By God, you’ve lost your mind, ‘Umar! Do you think that ‘Abd Manaf would allow you to walk on the face of the earth once you killed Muhammad? Why don’t you go home and sort out your household!’

“‘What about my household?’

“‘Your brother-in-law and nephew Sa‘id b. Zayd and your sister Fatima. They have accepted Islam and become followers of Muhammad in his religion. Look to them!’

“‘Umar then returned to his sister Fatima where Khabbab b. al-Aratt was; he had with him a manuscript of surat Taha that he was reading to her…

“As he came in, he demanded, ‘What was that murmuring sound I heard?’

“‘I heard nothing,’ they both replied.

“‘Well I did,’ he insisted. ‘And I’ve been told that you are following Muhammad in his religion.’

He then struck out at his brother-in-law Sa‘id b. Zayd, and when his sister Fatima rose to defend her husband he hit her and wounded her…

“When ‘Umar saw the blood on his sister he was sorry for what he had done and repentant and he told her, ‘Give me that document you were just reading so that I can see what it is Muhammad brings.’ ‘Umar was literate.

“When he said that, she replied, ‘We don’t trust you with it.’

“‘Don’t be afraid,’ he told her, and swore by his gods to return it to her when he had read it.

“When he said this she had hopes of his accepting Islam and so she said, ‘But being a polytheist you are unclean, and only the purified may touch it.’

“So ‘Umar arose and washed himself, and she gave him the sheet on which surat Taha was written. When he had read a passage of it, he said, ‘How fine, how wonderful these words are!’…

“At that ‘Umar said, ‘Khabbab, lead me to Muhammad so that I can accept Islam.’

“‘He is in a house at al-Safa with a group of his Companions,’ Khabbab replied.

“‘Umar picked up his sword and put it on then left for the Messenger of God and his Companions. He knocked on the door and when they heard his voice, one of the Companions got up and looked outside through a chink in the door. He saw ‘Umar wearing his sword, then went back in to the Messenger of God in a fright and exclaiming, ‘O Messenger of God, it’s ‘Umar b. al-Khattab, armed with his sword!’

“Hamza said, ‘Well, let him in. If he has come with good, we’ll reciprocate, but if he’s come in evil, we’ll kill him with his sword.’ The Messenger of God also said, ‘Let him in!’

“So the Companion did so, and the Messenger of God got up, went across the room to meet him, taking him by his waist or by the place where his cloak was joined, and giving him a strong pull, saying, ‘What brings you, Ibn al-Khattab? By God, I don’t see you stopping until God sends down a thunderbolt upon you!’

“Umar replied, ‘O Messenger of God, I come to you to believe in God, in His messenger, and in what has come down from God!’” (Ibid., Volume II, pp. 21-22; bold and italic emphasis ours)

Here was Umar ready to kill Muhammad for insulting his gods only to abandon his faith for Muhammad’s religion in a matter of hours (if that) simply because he read a chapter from the Quran!

Once again, does Zawadi really expect us to believe that men who were not as close to Muhammad as his own wife immediately dropped the worship of their gods whereas Khadijah would have had some reservation and hesitance in doing so?

Fourth, the Quran uses the same language in describing Muhammad’s refusal to worship what the pagans worshiped:

Say (O Muhammad to these Mushrikun and Kafirun): "O Al-Kafirun (disbelievers in Allah, in His Oneness, in His Angels, in His Books, in His Messengers, in the Day of Resurrection, and in Al-Qadar, etc.)! I worship not that which you worship, Nor will you worship that which I worship. And I shall not worship that which you are worshipping. Nor will you worship that which I worship. To you be your religion, and to me my religion (Islamic Monotheism).” S. 109 Hilali-Khan

Now compare the following:

I worship not that which you worship,

La a’budu ma ta’budoona


And I shall not worship that which you are worshipping.

Wa la ana abidun ma abadtum

With what the hadith says Muhammad told his wife:

“O Khadija! By Allah I do not worship Al-Lat nor Al-Uzza. By Allah I do not worship (them) at all."

Ayya Khadîja wa Allahu la a`budu al-Lat wal 'Uzza, wa Allahu la a`budu 'abadan."

This comparison is relevant to our discussion since it proves Muhammad did worship Allat and al-Uzza. In the first part of our rebuttal I had provided documentation proving that Muhammad grew up as a pagan worshiping the idols of his people. In light of this fact Q. 109 cannot mean that Muhammad NEVER worshiped what the pagans worshiped. Therefore, since the Arabic construction that is used in the hadith is identical this means that there is absolutely nothing which rules out the fact that Muhammad used to worship Allat and al-Uzza anymore than the same construction in Q. 109 means that Muhammad never worshiped the gods that his people worshiped.

In other words, Dimitrius is proven to be correct whereas Mohar Ali is seen to be grossly mistaken!

However, since Zawadi ignored all of the data that I presented I am going to provide some additional evidence to show that even the Islamic sources admit that Muhammad engaged in idolatry and observed the pagan rituals of his tribe.

According to the Islamic literature Muhammad ate sacrifices offered to idols, would salute and kiss them, and even performed the same pagan rites that the Meccans did such as running around the Kabah at a time when it still had 360 idols!

It continues: “And Zayd b. ‘Amr b. Zayd came to the Messenger of God when the latter was in the company of Zayd b. Haritha; the two men were eating from a dining-table set out FOR THEM. THEY invited Zayd b. ‘Amr to eat WITH THEM, but he replied, ‘I am not one who eats what has been slaughtered on sacrificial stones.’” (Ibn Kathir, The Life of the Prophet Muhammad (Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya), Volume I, p. 113; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Al-Bukhari stated in his sahih collection in his account of Zayd b. ‘Amr b. Nufayl that Muhammad b. Abu Bakr related to him that Fudayl b. Sulayman related to us, quoted from Musa b. ‘Uqba, that Salim related, from ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Umar, that the Prophet met Zayd b. ‘Amr b. Nufayl in the lowlands of Baldah, before revelation descended upon the Prophet. A meal was set out FOR THE PROPHET but HE, ZAYD, refused to eat it. Then Zayd said, “I’m not going to eat from what you slaughter on your sacrificial stones; and I will only what has had the name of God spoken over it.” Zayd b. ‘Amr would criticize Quraysh for the animal sacrifices they made, saying, “Sheep are created by God; He sends rain down from the skies and makes things grow for them from the earth. But then you slaughter them in the name of gods other than Him, denying all of that and venerating them!” (Pp. 114-115; bold and capital emphasis ours)

As for the tradition given by the hafiz Abu Bakr al-Bayhaqi, Abu Sa‘d al-Malini informed us, Abu Ahmad b. ‘Adi, the hafiz, told us, Ibrahim b. Asbat related to us, as did ‘Uthman b. Abu Shayba, as did Jarir, from Sufyan al-Thawri, from Muhammad b. ‘Abd Allah b. Muhammad b. ‘Uqayl, from Jabir b. ‘Abd Allah as follows: “The Prophet used to attend the ceremonies of the polytheists along with them. But once he heard two angels behind him, one saying to the other, ‘Let’s move up and stand right behind the Messenger of God.’ But the other OBJECTED, ‘How can we stand right behind him WHEN HE IS IN THE HABIT OF SALUTING IDOLS?’”

He went on, “And thereafter he never again attended such ceremonies with the polytheists.” (P. 182; bold and capital emphasis ours)

“The Messenger of God used to go out to Hira’ for one month every year and pray alone, he being one of those Quraysh men who would, in the jahiliyya, practise this prayer in seclusion. He would feed the poor who would come to him. Having left there he would not re-enter his own home without first circumambulating the ka‘ba.” (P. 282; bold emphasis ours)

“The Messenger of God used to take up residence in Hira’ in seclusion for one month each year. This practice, known as al-tahannuth, i.e. ‘pious devotion’, WAS ONE PERFORMED BY QURAYSH BEFORE THE COMING OF ISLAM.

“While the Messenger of God was dwelling there for that month of each year, he would feed all the poor who came to him. When the period of that month of devotion was concluded, the first thing he would do was go to the ka‘ba, circumambulating around it seven times or so before proceeding to his own home.” …

“When the Messenger of God had completed his period of secluded devotion, he did as always, going first to the ka‘ba and circumambulating it. There he met Waraqa b. Nawfal who was also performing the circumambulation, and Waraqa asked him, ‘O nephew, tell me what you saw and heard.’” (Pp. 292-293; bold and capital emphasis ours)

“The Messenger of God went outside, ‘Umar leading the way, along with Hamza b. ‘Abd al-Muttalib, and circumambulated the ka‘ba, and performed the noon prayer as a believer. He then went back to the house of al-Arqam, ‘Umar accompanying him. After that ‘Umar went off alone and thereafter the Prophet left too.” (P. 321; bold emphasis ours)

“The Messenger of God and Abu Bakr, on their way down from the mountain… The Messenger of God and his Companion then came along, KISSED THE STONE, circumambulated the ka‘ba, then prayed …” (P. 327; bold and capital emphasis ours)

He went on, “While they were thus enraged, the Messenger of God appeared. He approached on foot, KISSED THE ‘BLACK STONE’, then passed on by them as he circumambulated the ka‘ba … (P. 342; bold and capital emphasis ours)

In fact, Muhammad not only continued observing certain pagan practices such as kissing and touching the black stone even after his alleged prophetic ministry had begun,

It is Sunnah to perform certain acts in tawaf as given below:

Facing the Black Stone at the start of the tawaf while uttering a takbir (Allahu-Akbar), and a tahlil (La ilaha illahlah), and raising one's hands as they are raised in prayers, and if possible touching it with both hands and kissing it quietly, or placing one's cheek on it. Otherwise, one may touch it with one's hand and kiss the hand, or touch it with something, and then kiss it, or if even that is not possible, one may just point to it with a stick, etc. as is mentioned in some of the ahadith given below.

Ibn 'Umar said: "Allah's Messenger faced the Black Stone, touched it, and then placed his lips on it and wept for a long time." 'Umar also wept for a long time. The Prophet said: 'O 'Umar, this is the place where one should shed tears.''' (Reported by Al-Hakim, who considers it a sound hadith with a sound chain of authorities)

It is reported by Ibn 'Abbas that 'Umar bent down towards the Black Stone and said: "By Allah! I know that you are A MERE STONE, and if I had not seen my beloved Prophet kissing you and touching you I would have never done so." The Qur'an says: "You have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct)."' (Qur'an 33.32) This was reported by Ahmad and others in slightly different words.

Nafi' said, "I have seen Ibn 'Umar touching the Black Stone with his hand, and then kissing his hand and saying: 'Ever since I saw the Prophet doing this, I have never failed to do that.''' (Reported by Bukhari and Muslim)

Sowayd bin Ghaflah said: "I have seen 'Umar kissing the Black Stone and touching it." He further said: "I know that the Prophet was especially very particular about it.'' (Muslim)

Ibn 'Umar reported that Allah's Messenger used to come to Ka'bah, touch the Black Stone and then say: Bismillahi wallahu akbar (In the name of Allah, Allah is the Greatest.)" (Ahmad)

Muslim has reported on the authority of Abu Tufail that he said: "I have seen the Prophet making tawaf around the Ka'bah and touching it with a stick and then kissing the stick."

Bukhari, Muslim and Abu Daw'ud reported that 'Umar approached the Black Stone and kissed it. Then he said: "I know that you are A MERE STONE that can neither harm nor do any good. If I had not seen the Prophet kissing you, I would have never kissed you."

Al-Khatabi said: "This shows that abiding by the Sunnah of the Prophet is binding, regardless of whether or not we understand its reason or the wisdom behind it."

Such information devolves obligation on all those whom it reaches, even if they may not fully comprehend its significance. It is known, however, that kissing the Black Stone signifies respect for it, recognition of our obligation toward it, and using it as a means of seeking Allah's blessings. Indeed Allah has preferred some stones over others, as He preferred some countries and cities, days and nights, and months over others. The underlying spirit of all this is unquestioning submission to Allah.

In some ahadith which say that "the Black Stone is Allah's right hand on earth," we do find, however, a plausible rationale and justification for this statement. In other words whosoever touches the Black Stone he pledges allegiance to Allah, as it were, by giving his hand into the hand of Allah, just as some followers do pledge their fealty to their kings and masters, by kissing and shaking hands with them.

Al-Muhallib said: "The hadith of 'Umar refutes the assertions of those who say that 'The Black Stone is Allah's right hand on earth wherewith He shakes the hands of His slaves."' God forbid that we should ascribe any physical organs to Allah [sic]. The commandment to kiss the Black Stone is meant to test and to demonstrate palpably as to who obeys and submits. It may be compared with the command to Iblis to bow to Adam.

We have no definite evidence, however, to believe that any of the stones used in building the Ka'bah originally (by Ibrahim and Isma'il), is still in existence today excepting the Black Stone. (Fiqh-Us-Sunnah, Volume 5, Number 74b – ALIM CD-ROM Version; bold, capital and italic emphasis ours)

A practice condemned by God’s true Word, the Holy Bible,

“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,” Exodus 20:4-5

“Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.” 1 Kings 19:18

He even relapsed into worshipping the goddesses Allat and al-Uzza! This incident has become popularly known as the “Satanic verses,” i.e. the time in which Satan inspired Muhammad to recite verses praising and glorifying the pagan daughters of Allah. As one source exclaims:

“Mujahid said: He praised their gods and mentioned them, and they were delighted.” (Abu Ishaq al-Tha’labi, al-Kashf wa al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Quran, Tafsir of Q. 17:73)

These next reports provide additional details:

And We did not send before you any messenger (rasūl) — this is a prophet who has been commanded to deliver a Message — or prophet (nabī) — one who has not been commanded to deliver anything — but that when he recited [the scripture] Satan cast into his recitation, what is not from the Qur’ān, but which those to whom he [the prophet] had been sent would find pleasing. The Prophet had, during an assembly of the [men of] Quraysh, after reciting the [following verses from] sūrat al-Najm, Have you considered Lāt and ‘Uzzā? And Manāt, the third one? [53:19-20] added, as a result of Satan casting them onto his tongue without his [the Prophet’s] being aware of it, [the following words]: ‘those are the high-flying cranes (al-gharānīq al-‘ulā) and indeed their intercession is to be hoped for’, and so they [the men of Quraysh] were thereby delighted. Gabriel, however, later informed him [the Prophet] of this that Satan had cast onto his tongue and he was grieved by it; but was [subsequently] comforted with this following verse that he might be reassured [of God’s pleasure]: thereat God abrogates, nullifies, whatever Satan had cast, then God confirms His revelations. And God is Knower, of Satan’s casting of that which has been mentioned, Wise, in His enabling him [Satan] to do such things, for He does whatever He will. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Q. 22:52; bold emphasis ours)


(Never sent We a messenger or a prophet before thee…) [22:52]. The commentators of the Qur'an said: “When the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, saw that his people were shunning him, he was aggrieved by their rejection of the message he brought them and he secretly wished that Allah, exalted is He, reveals something to him which would bring him and his people closer to each other, keen as he was to see them accept faith. One day, he sat in one of the congregations of Quraysh which attracted a huge number of its members, and he wished that Allah, exalted is He, does not reveal to him on that day anything that might repel them from him. Allah, exalted is He, revealed to him then Surah al-Najm (By the star when it setteth…) [Surah 53]. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, recited it but when he reached (Have ye thought upon al-Lat and al-'Uzza, and Manat, the third, the other) [53:19-20], the devil put on his tongue what he had secretly wished and hoped for and said: 'These are the mighty cranes (gharaniq) and their intercession is hoped for'. When the Quraysh heard this, they were very pleased. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, carried on reciting until the end of the Surah and then prostrated. All the Muslims followed suit and prostrated, and all the idolaters who were present prostrated too. All those who were present, whether Muslim or disbeliever, prostrated except al-Walid ibn al-Mughirah and Abu Uhyahah Sa'id ibn al-'As who were too advanced in age and could not prostrate, but they both grabbed a handful of dust and put their foreheads on it. The Quraysh then dispersed, happy with what they heard. They said: 'Muhammad has mentioned our idols with complimentary terms. We know that Allah gives life and takes it away, He creates and provides sustenance, but these idols of ours will intercede for us with Him. Now that Muhammad has associated them, we are all with him'. That evening, Gabriel went to the Messenger of Allah and said: 'What have you done? You recited to people that which I did not bring from Allah, glorified is He, and you said what I did not say to you'. ('Alī ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi, Asbab al-Nuzul, Q. 22:52; bold emphasis ours)


When the Messenger of God was in Mecca, he recited [qara’a] to them: “By the star when it sets.” When he reached: “Have you considered al-Lat, al-‘Uzza and Manat, the third, the other?”, he said: “Indeed, their intercession is to be hoped for [inna shafa ‘ata-ha turtaja]” – the Messenger of God did this unmindfully [wa-saha rasul Allah].

The Mushrikun, “in whose hearts there was sickness [alladhina fi qulub-him marad],” met him and greeted him and were greatly pleased at it. He said to them: “But that was from Satan! [inna-ma dhalika min al-shaytan].” And God sent down: “And we have not sent before you a Messenger or a Prophet, but that when he tamanna, Satan (something) into his umniyyah, then God removes that which Satan cast.”

The above version appears in al-Tabari’s Tafsir, 17:189, with the following transmission:

Yunus b. ‘Abd al-A’la al-Misri (170-264) – ‘Abd Allah b. Wahb al-Misri (125-197) – Yunus b. Yazid al-Ayli (d. 160) – Muhammad b. Shihab al-Zuhri (51-124) – Abu Bakr b. ‘Abd al-Rahman b. al-Harith (23-95).

It is also cited by Abu Ja’far al-Nahas al-Misri (d. 328) in al-Naskh wa al-mansukh (1:448-449 and 2:527-528) with the following chain:

Al-Layth b. Sa’d al-Misri (94-175) – Yunus b. Yazid – al-Zuhri – Abu Bakr b. ‘Abd al-Rahman.

What makes the above narrative significant to our discussion is that it is deemed a sahih mursal report, i.e. a report in which the transmitters are reliable but which doesn’t go back to a companion of Muhammad, but to one of their followers. Al-Suyuti cited this from al-Tabari and also from ‘Abd b. Humayd al-Kissi/al-Kishshi/al-Kashshi al-Samarqandi (170s-249) (Al-Durr, 6:66), stating that they are mursal sahih al-isnad. The leading 9th century hadith scholar Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani also gave the same verdict (Fath al-bari fi Sahih al-Bukhari [Shirkat al-Taba’ah al-Fanniyyah al-Muttahidah, Cairo, Egypt], 18:40). Even the late renowned Salafi hadith scholar Al-Albani, Majaniq, 9, accepted this verdict, despite rejecting its historicity due to the fact that it is a mursal report.

And here is another version of the same event:

The Messenger of God recited [qara’a]: “Have you considered al-Lat, al-‘Uzza and Manat, the third, the other?” and Satan cast onto his tongue [fa-alqa al-shaytan ‘ala lisani-hi]: “Those (are the high) flying cranes: there intercession is to be hoped for! [tilka al-gharaniq al-‘ula wa shafa’atu-hunna turtaja].”

And the Mushrikun were greatly pleased by this and said: “He has mentioned our gods.”

So Gabriel came to him and said: “Recite to me [iqra’ ‘alayya] what I brought you!” And he recited: “Have you considered al-Lat, al-‘Uzza and Manat, the third, the other? Those (are the) high-flying cranes: their intercession is hoped for!” He (Gabriel) said: “I did not bring you this! This is from Satan [ma ataytu-ka bi-hadha hadha ‘an al-shaytan]”; or he said: “This is from Satan! I did not bring you these” [aw qala hadha min al-shaytan lam ati-ka bi-ha].

So God sent down: “We have not sent before you a Messenger or a Prophet but that when he tamanna, Satan cast something into his umniyyah,” to the end of the verse.

This report is quoted from the Tafsir of Ibn Mardawayh (323-410 AH) in a later hadith collection, namely the Mukhtarah of al-Diya’ al-Maqdisi (537-634), with a chain going back to Ibn Abbas:

Ahmad b. Musa Ibn Mardawayh al-Isbahani – his father, Musa b. Mardawayh al-Isbahani (d. 360) – Ibrahim b. Muhammad b. Mattawayh al-Isbahani (d. 302) – Muhammad b. ‘Ali al-Muqri’ al-Baghdadi (d. 300) – Ja’far b. Muhammad al-Tayalisi al-Baghdadi (d. 282) – Ibrahim b. Muhammad b. ‘Ar’arah al-Basri al-Baghdadi (d. 231) – Abu ‘Asim al-Nabil al-Dahhak b. Makhlad al-Makki al-Basri (d. 212) – ‘Uthman b. al-Aswad al-Makki (d. 150) – Sa’id b. Jubayr – Ibn ‘Abbas. (Diya’ al-Din Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Wahid b. ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Hanbali al-Maqdisi, al-Ahadith al-mukhtarah aw al-mustakhraj min al-ahadith al-mukhtarah mim-ma lam yukhrij-hu al-Bukhari wa Muslim fi sahihay-hima, edited by ‘Abd al-Malik b. Abd Allah b. Duhaysh [Maktabat al-Nahdah al-Hadithah, Mecca], pp. 1990-1993) (1)

Al-Suyuti also cites this hadith both directly from Ibn Mardawayh, claiming that its chain is made up of reliable transmitters (sanad rijalu-hu thiqat; cf. al-Durr 6:65), and from al-Diya al-Maqdisi’s citation of Ibn Mardawayh. In fact, Ja’far b. Muhammad al-Tayalisi al-Baghdadi, Ibrahim b. Muhammad b. ‘Ar’arah al-Basri al-Baghdadi, Abu ‘Asim al-Nabil al-Dahhak b. Makhlad al-Makki al-Basri, and ‘Uthman b. al-Aswad al-Makki are considered to be impeachable as transmitters and seem to have been muhaddithun (hadith scholars). ‘Uthman b. al-Aswad was also known for studying under two prominent mufassirun (commentators), namely Mujahid b. Jabr and ‘Atiyyah b. Sa’d al-‘Awfi. Moreover, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani considered this particular transmission to be the most reliable of all the chains narrating the Satanic verses (cf. Takhrij ahadith al-Kashshaf, p. 114).

These next reports are even more significant since they not only provide further substantiation that Satan caused Muhammad to recite the Satanic verses but they also prove that Muhammad did at one time worship these false goddesses. These narratives further call into question Muhammad’s entire salvation:

Then those who had gone (to Abyssinia) the first time returned before (the departure of) Ja’far b. Abi Talib and his companions. This is when God sent down the surah in which He states, “By the star when it sets.” The Mushrikun had said: “If only this man would speak favourably of our gods [yadhkuru alihata-na bi-khayr], we would secure him [aqrarna-hu] and his companions. He does not speak of any the Jews and Christians who oppose his religion with the abuse and invective [al-shatm wa al-sharr] with which he speaks of our gods.”

When God sent down the surah in which He mentions, “By the star,” he (the Prophet) recited [qara’a], “Have you considered al-Lat, al-‘Uzza and Manat, the third, the other?” At this point, Satan cast into it (Surat al-Najm) [alqa al-shaytanu fi-ha ‘inda dhalika] a mention of the evil ones [dhikr al-tawaghit], and he (the Prophet) said [fa-qala]: “Indeed, they are high-flying cranes! And, indeed, their intercession is to be hoped for! [inna-hunna la-min al-gharaniq al-‘ula wa inna shafa’ata-hum (sic) la turtaja]”; that was the rhyming prose [saj’] of Satan and was an instance of his sedition [min fitnati-hi].

Those two phrases became lodged in the heart of every Mushrik; their tongues were debased by them, they rejoiced at them [dhallat bi-ha alsinatu-hum wa istabsharu bi-ha] and said: “MUHAMMAD HAS RETURNED TO HIS ORIGINAL RELIGION AND THE RELIGION OF HIS TRIBE [qad raja’a Muhammad ila dini-hi al-awwal wa din qawmi-hi]”…

As for the Mushrikun, their minds were set at ease in regard to the Prophet and his Companions when they heard what Satan cast into the umniyyah of the Prophet [lamma sami‘u al-ladhi alqa al-shaytan fi umniyyat al-nabi]. Satan told them that the Messenger of God had recited them (the Satanic verses) when in sajdah, so they made the sajdah in veneration of their gods…

The Messenger of God was greatly distressed by this [wa kabura dhalika ‘ala rasul Allah]. In the evening, Gabriel came to him. He (the Prophet) complained to him [fa-shaka ilay-hi], so he (Gabriel) ordered him (to recite the surah) and he (the Prophet) recited to him [fa-qara’a ‘alay-hi]. When he (the Prophet) reached them (the Satanic verses) [fa-lamma balagha-ha] (OR: when he (Gabriel) heard [sami’a] (the Satanic verses)), Gabriel absolved himself of responsibility for them [tabarra’a min-ha] and said: “God protect me from these! My Lord did not send them down, nor your Lord command me with them! [ma’adh Allah min hatayni ma anzala-huma rabb-i wa la amara-ni bi-hima rabbu-ka].” When the Messenger of God saw this, he was greatly disturbed [shaqqa ‘alay-hi] and said: “I HAVE OBEYED SATAN AND SPOKEN HIS WORDS AND HE HAS BECOME A PARTNER IN GOD’S MATTER WITH ME [ata’tu al-shaytana wa takallamtu bi-kalami-hi wa sharika-ni fi amr Allah].”

So God removed that which Satan cast [fa-nasakha Allahu ‘azza wa jalla ma alqa al-shaytan] and sent down upon him: “We have not sent before you a Messenger or a Prophet but that when he removes that which Satan casts and establishes his Signs clearly – and God is All-Knowing, All-Wise – to make that which Satan cast a trial for those in whose hearts is a sickness, and for those whose hearts are hardened. Indeed, the Wrongdoers are in far dissension.”

This report has been variously transmitted by the following Muslim authorities:

Muhammad Mustafa al-A’zami, Maghazi rasul Allah li-‘Urwah ibn al-Zubayr bi-riwayat Abi al-Aswad ‘an-hu (al-nuskhah al-mustrakhrajah, Maktab al-Tarbiyah al-‘Arabi li-Duwal al-Khalij, Riyad, 1981, pp. 160-161.

Abu al-Qasim Sulayman b. Ahmad al-Tabarani narrated it with the following chain:

Muhammad b. ‘Amr b. Khalid al-Harrani al-Misri (d. 292 AH) – ‘Amr b. Khalid al-Harrani al-Misri (d. 229) – ‘Abd Allah Ibn Lahi’ah al-Misri (97-174) – Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Rahman Abu al-Aswad al-Madani al-Misri (d. 136/7) – ‘Urwah b. al-Zubayr al-Madani (23-94). (al-Mu’jam al-Kabir, edited by Hamdi ‘Abd al-Majid al-Salafi [Wizarat al-Awqaf wa al-Shu’un al-Diniyyah, Baghdad, 1971], 9:34-36)

Abu Bakr Muhammad b. ‘Ali al-Muttawi’i al-Ghazi al-Naysaburi al-Makki gives the following chain:

Abu al- ‘Abbas Ahmad b. al-Hasan b. Bundar al-Razi al-Makki (d. 409) – Abu al-Qasim Sulayman b. Ahmad al-Tabarani – Muhammad b. ‘Amr b. Khalid al-Harrani al-Misri – ‘Amr b. Khalid al-Harrani al-Misri – ‘Urwah b. al-Zubayr. (Kitab man sabara zafira, pp. 77b-78b)

There are several crucial points to glean from this particular narrative. First, Muhammad’s characterization of his error is astonishing to say the least. Notice his words once again:

“I have obeyed Satan, and spoken his words, and he has become a partner in God’s matter with me (wa sharika-ni fi amr Allah).”

Muhammad’s use of the verb sharika means that he committed the rather grievous error of joining Satan with Allah, which is the unforgiveable sin according to the Quran:

Verily! Allah forgives not (the sin of) setting up partners in worship with Him, but He forgives whom he pleases sins other than that, and whoever sets up partners in worship with Allah, has indeed strayed far away. They (all those who worship others than Allah) invoke nothing but female deities besides Him (Allah), and they invoke nothing but Shaitan (Satan), a persistent rebel! S. 4:116-117 Hilali-Khan

Second, Muhammad compounded the problem by complying with the pagans in praising their false goddesses even though he was specifically told by his deity never to commit this mistake otherwise he would be condemned to hell with all his deeds going to waste:

This is (part) of that wisdom wherewith thy Lord hath inspired thee (O Muhammad). And set not up with Allah any other god, lest thou be cast into hell, reproved, abandoned. S. 17:39 Pickthall

O Prophet! be careful of (your duty to) Allah and do not comply with (the wishes of) the unbelievers and the hypocrites; surely Allah is Knowing, Wise; S. 33:1

And certainly, it has been revealed to you and to those before you: Surely if you associate (ashrakta) (with Allah), your work would certainly come to naught and you would certainly be of the losers. S. 39:65 Shakir

Therefore, Muhammad stands condemned according to the Quran which means that he must now be in hell suffering eternal wrath and torture.

More importantly, Muhammad is also condemned by the true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as he has revealed himself in his only inspired Scripture. According to the Holy Bible any self-professed prophet who speaks in the name of other gods or proclaims a word which did not come from God is nothing more than a false prophet and must die.

“If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account. But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death.” Deuteronomy 18:19-20

Since Muhammad spoke something in the name of Allah (whom he claimed was the God of the Biblical prophets such as Abraham and Moses) which he did not command and further mentioned and actually praised the names of false goddesses he is nothing more than a false prophet who stands eternally condemned by the true God of the Holy Bible.

Thirdly, the response of the pagans to Muhammad glorifying and honoring their goddesses is striking since it confirms Dimitrius’ and my point that Muhammad did initially worship these pagan daughters of Allah. Again, notice their words carefully:

Those two phrases became lodged in the heart of every Mushrik; their tongues were debased by them, they rejoiced at them [dhallat bi-ha alsinatu-hum wa istabsharu bi-ha] and said: “MUHAMMAD HAS RETURNED TO HIS ORIGINAL RELIGION AND THE RELIGION OF HIS TRIBE [qad raja’a Muhammad ila dini-hi al-awwal wa din qawmi-hi]”…

The pagans claimed that by worshiping these goddesses Muhammad had actually returned to his original religion, that being the religion of his tribe the Quraysh. Nor is this the only report that mentions this specific reaction of the pagans:

Ibn Abi Hatim – Musa b. ‘Uqbah – al-Zuhri.

The Mushrikun of Quraysh had been saying: “If only this man would speak favourably of our gods [yadhkuru alihata-na bi-khayr], we would secure him [aqrarna-hu] and his companions. He does not speak of the Jews and Christians who oppose his religion with the abuse and invective [al-shatm wa al-sharr] with which he speaks of our gods.”

The Messenger of God was greatly distressed [ishtadda ‘alay-hi] by the persecution [adha] he and his Companions had suffered from them (Quraysh) and by their calling him a liar. Their errant conduct saddened him and he desired an end to their persecution [yatamanna kaffa adha-hum].

When God sent down Surat al-Najm, he (the Prophet) said [qala], “Have you considered al-Lat, al-‘Uzza and Manat, the third, the other?” And Satan cast some words at this point when God mentioned the evil ones [alqa al-shaytanu ‘inda-ha kalimatin hina dhakara Allahu ‘azza wa jalla Akhir al-tawaghit], and he said [fa-qala]: “Indeed they, they are the high-flying cranes! And, indeed, their intercession is what is to be hoped for!” [inna-hunna la-min al-gharaniq al-‘ula wa inna shafa’ata-hunna la-hiya allati turtaja].

That was the rhyming prose of Satan and was an instance of his sedition [min fitnati-hi]. Those two phrases became lodged in the heart of every Mushrik in Mecca. Their tongues were sharpened by them [dhaliqat bi-ha]; they rejoiced in telling them to each other [tabasharu bi-ha], and said: “MUHAMMAD HAS RETURNED TO HIS ORIGINAL RELIGION AND TO THE RELIGION OF HIS TRIBE.” (Jalaludin al-Suyuti, Al-Durr al-manthur, 6:66-67)

It makes absolutely no sense to speak of Muhammad returning back to a religion which he neither believed in nor ever practiced. This only makes sense if Muhammad at one time worshiped the false gods and goddesses of his pagan tribe.

What makes the response of the pagans all the more significant is that this was stated in connection to Muhammad having just praised and glorified Allat, al-Uzza, and Manat, thereby implying that Muhammad had in fact worshiped them in the past.

Moreover, it is completely unrealistic to assume that Muhammad in his youth and childhood had a different religion than the religion practiced by his mother and then his guardians, first his grandfather Abdul Muttalib and later his uncle Abu Talib. He grew up in that family and, without a doubt, worshiped their gods alongside with them.

In fact, later on when he started to think that he was a prophet Muhammad still believed that these goddesses actually existed and even sent one of the Muslims to kill one of them!

In this year, five nights before the end of Ramadan, Khalid al-Walid destroyed al-‘Uzza in the lowland of Nakhlah. Al-‘Uzza was an idol of the Banu Shayban, a subdivision of Sulaym, allies of the Banu Hashim. The Banu Asad b. ‘Abd al-‘Uzza used to say it was their idol. Khalid set out for it, and then he said, "I have destroyed it." [The Messenger of God] said, "Did you see anything?" "No," said Khalid. "Then," he said, "go back and destroy it." So Khalid returned to the idol, destroyed its temple, and broke the idol. The keeper began saying, "Rage, O ‘Uzza, with one of thy fits of rage!" – whereupon a naked, wailing Ethiopian woman came out before him. Khalid killed her and took her jewels that were on her. Then he went to the Messenger of God and gave him a report of what happened. "That was al-‘Uzza," he said, "and al-‘Uzza will never be worshiped [again]."

According to Ibn Humayd – Salamah – Ibn Ishaq, who said: The Messenger of God sent Khalid b. al-Walid to [deal with] al-‘Uzza, who was at Nakhlah. She was a temple venerated by the tribes of Quraysh, Kinanah, and all Mudar. Her keepers were of the Banu Shayban, a division of the Banu Sulaym, allies of the Banu Hashim. When the master of the temple heard that Khalid was coming to deal with al-‘Uzza, he hung his sword on her and climbed the mountain near which al-‘Uzza was located. As he went up he said:

O ‘Uzza, attack with an attack that hits no vital place,
against Khalid! Throw down thy veil, and gird up thy train!
O ‘Uzza, if today thou wilt not slay Khalid,
bear a swift punishment, or become a Christian!

Having reached al-‘Uzza, Khalid destroyed her and returned to the Messenger of God. (The History of al-Tabari: The Victory of Islam, translated by Michael Fishbein [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany 1997], Volume 8, pp. 187-188; bold emphasis ours)

Hence, al-Uzza was actually an Ethiopian woman whom Khalid killed! This indicates that Muhammad and his followers were naive enough to believe that these goddesses did not simply exist in the mind of their worshipers. Muhammad actually thought that these false gods and goddesses were living realities!

With the foregoing in perspective it is abundantly clear that the Islamic data actually confirms Dimitrius’ understanding and provides absolutely no support for Mohar Ali’s explanation which is nothing more than a desperate and feeble attempt of undermining the explicit testimony to Muhammad’s pagan practices and worship.

Fortunately, not every modern Muslim rejects the traditions which depict Muhammad as participating in the pagan practices of his people. One Muslim scholar acknowledges that this is a well established tradition and explains that the only reason Muslims object to it is because of their presupposition that prophets are kept by God from idolatry even before the start of their respective missions:

There exists a little-known tradition recounting an astonishing meeting between Zayd, the Hanif, and a teen-aged Muhammad. The story seems to have been originally reported by Yunus ibn Bukayr on the authority of Muhammad’s first biographer, Ibn Ishaq. And while it appears to have been expunged from Ibn Hisham’s retelling Muhammad’s life, M. J. Kister has catalogued no fewer than ELEVEN OTHER TRADITIONS that recount nearly identical versions of the story.

It was, the chroniclers say, “one of the hot days of Mecca” when Muhammad and his childhood friend Ibn Haritha were returning home from Ta’if, where they had slaughtered and roasted a ewe in sacrifice to one of the idols (most likely Allat). As the two boys made their way through the upper part of the Meccan Valley, they suddenly came upon Zayd, who was either living as a recluse on the high ground above Mecca or was in the midst of a lengthy spiritual retreat. Recognizing him at once, Muhammad and Ibn Haritha greeted the Hanif with “the greeting of the Jahiliyyah” (in’am sabahan) and sat down to rest next to him.

Muhammad asked, “Why do I see you, O son of Amr, hated by your people?”

“I found them associating divinities with God and I was reluctant to do the same,” Zayd replied. “I wanted the religion of Abraham.”

Muhammad accepted this explanation without comment and opened his bag of sacrificed meat. “Eat some of this food, O my uncle,” he said.

But Zayd reacted with disgust. “Nephew, that is a part of those sacrifices of yours which you offer to your idols, is it not?” Muhammad answered that it was. Zayd became indignant. “I never eat of these sacrifices and I want nothing to do with them,” he cried. “I am not one to eat anything slaughtered for a divinity other than God.”

So struck was Muhammad by Zayd’s rebuke that many years later, when recounting the story, he claimed never again to have “stroked an idol of theirs nor … sacrifice[d] to them until God honored me with his Apostleship.”

The notion that a young pagan Muhammad could have been scolded for his idolatry by a Hanif flies in the face of traditional Muslim views regarding the Prophet’s perpetual monotheistic integrity. It is a common belief in Islam that even before his calling by God, Muhammad never took part in the pagan rituals of his community. In his history of the Prophet, al-Tabari states that God kept Muhammad from ever participating in any pagan rituals, lest he be defiled by them. But this view, which is reminiscent of the Catholic belief in Mary’s perpetual virginity, HAS LITTLE BASIS IN EITHER HISTORY OR SCRIPTURE. Not only does the Quran admit that God found Muhammad “erring” and gave him guidance (93:7), but the ancient traditions clearly show Muhammad deeply involved in the religious customs of Mecca: circumambulating the Ka‘ba, making sacrifices, and going on pagan devotional retreats called tahannuth. Indeed, when the pagan sanctuary was torn down and rebuilt (it was enlarged and finally roofed), Muhammad took an active part in its reconstruction.

All the same, the doctrine of Muhammad’s monotheistic integrity is an important facet of Muslim faith because it appears to support the belief that the Revelation he received came from a divine source. Admitting that Muhammad might have been influenced by someone like Zayd is, for some Muslims, tantamount to denying the heavenly inspiration of Muhammad’s message. But such beliefs are based on the common yet erroneous assumption that religions are born in some sort of cultural vacuum; they most certainly are not. (Reza Aslan, No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam [Random House Trade Paperback Edition, January 2006], 1. The Sanctuary in the Desert: Pre-Islamic Arabia, pp. 15-17; bold and capital emphasis ours)

However, Zawadi’s problems are far from over. The Quran claims that if the entire world of men and jinn gather together to replicate the Quran they will not be able to do so:

Say: "If the mankind and the jinns were together to produce the like of this Qur'an, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they helped one another." S. 17:88 Hilali-Khan

And according to the Quran Satan is a jinn:

And (remember) when We said to the angels; "Prostrate to Adam." So they prostrated except Iblis (Satan). He was one of the jinns; he disobeyed the Command of his Lord. Will you then take him (Iblis) and his offspring as protectors and helpers rather than Me while they are enemies to you? What an evil is the exchange for the Zalimun (polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc). S. 18:50 Hilali-Khan

This now raises the following uncomfortable questions for Zawadi.

  • If even jinn are incapable of matching the Quran, as Q. 17:88 claims, then how was Satan able to deceive Muhammad into thinking that the verses which the devil put on his tongue were revelations of the Quran?
  • Wasn’t Muhammad able to tell the difference between Satan’s words and the verses of Allah?
  • Couldn’t he see that the lines that Satan composed were vastly inferior in quality to the verses of the Quran?
  • Couldn’t the rest of the Muslims, as well as the pagans, see that these verses did not match up to the style of the Quran? After all, if the Quran is inimitable as it claims to be then the people should have been able to immediately spot the difference between what Satan inspired and what Allah had revealed in the Quran.
  • And doesn’t the fact that neither Muhammad nor the rest of the people was able to see any qualitative difference between what Satan inspired Muhammad to recite with the rest of the Quran actually prove that the devil was able to meet the Quran’s challenge of producing something like it?
  • And if Satan did meet Allah’s challenge what does this say about the Quran’s claim of inimitability?
  • Doesn’t this prove that the Quran can be and has been matched, which therefore falsifies its own claim of being unique and/or miraculous?
  • Moreover, what does this say about Satan’s power seeing that he was able to personally meet the challenge of the Quran without requiring any assistance from the rest of mankind and jinn? Imagine that, Satan wasn’t only able to bewitch and deceive Muhammad, even though Allah said he wouldn’t be able to do so, he also managed to produce verses which Muhammad and the others thought were part of the Quran!
  • Does this suggest that Satan is somehow all-powerful since he was able to produce statements of equal eloquence as those contained in the Quran?
  • In a related question, what does this say about Allah’s ability to insure that no one would be able to meet the Quran’s challenge?
  • Would not Satan’s ability to produce something identical to the Quran prove that either Allah isn’t all-powerful, the devil is his equal, or that the Quran is not from God?
  • What does this also say about Allah’s ability to protect his messengers from being controlled and inspired by Satan?
  • Doesn’t this cast doubt on Allah’s ability to protect his messengers and prophets? And if so, how can Allah be trusted to do what he says when his ability to carry out his promises can be thwarted by a finite creature like the devil (that is, unless Satan happens to be all-powerful as well)?
  • Finally, if Satan could inspire Muhammad what does this say about the rest of the Quran? What guarantee can Zawadi or any other Muslim give and what evidence can they provide to convince us that there aren’t other parts of the Quran which were actually inspired by Satan?

For more on the historical veracity of the Satanic verses and their implication on Muhammad’s credibility we highly recommend the following articles, rebuttals, videos and debate:

Zawadi’s attempt of dealing with the Quran’s grammatical peculiarities

Zawadi now takes a shot at addressing the Quranic verses that Dimitrius raised to demonstrate that the Quran uses the plural (three or more) in contexts where there are only two subjects or persons in view.

Here is what Zawadi says concerning Q. 22:19:

"Khasmani", is about those who met at the Battle of Badr (refer to Qur'anic commentaries). When it started, three sets of fighters from each side started a dual [sic], a total of six people fighting. So, "Khasmani", is about two sets of men and not about two men fighting each other. It was about an incident in history when six men fought each other where each set was fighting on behalf of its army. This is why the Ayah used the term, "Ikhtasamu" (i.e. they fought each other, in the plural [more than 2]). If it was about two persons, it would have said, "Ikhtasama" (the two of them disputed with each other). Hence, Dimitrius has failed to provide a good example in this case.

Since Zawadi asks us to refer to the Quran commentaries here is what they have to say:

These TWAIN are TWO CONTENDERS, that is, the believers constitute one contending party, and the five [categories of] disbelievers constitute the other contending party (the term [khasm, ‘contender’] may be used to refer to one or many) who contend concerning their Lord, that is to say, concerning His religion. As for those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be cut out for them, [garments] which they will wear — meaning that the Fire will encompass them — and boiling water will be poured over their heads, [hamīm is] water that has reached an extreme temperature, (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; bold and capital emphasis ours)

(These twain) these are the adherents of two religions among the Muslims, Jews and Christians (are two opponents who contend concerning their Lord) concerning the religion of their Lord; ONE OF THEM saying: I have a better right to Allah and His religion. And so Allah judged between the two. Allah said: (But as for those who disbelieve) in Muhammad and in the Qur'an, i.e. the Jews and Christians (garments of fire will be cut out for them; boiling fluid) boiling water (will be poured down on their heads. (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs; bold and capital emphasis ours)

(These Twain (the believers and disbelievers) are two opponents who contend concerning their Lord…) [22:19]. Abu 'Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Muzakki informed us> 'Abd al-Malik ibn al-Hasan ibn Yusuf> Yusuf ibn Ya'qub al-Qadi> 'Umar ibn Marzuq> Shu'bah> Abu Hashim> Abu Majlaz> Qays ibn 'Ubad who reported that he heard Abu Dharr say: “I swear by Allah that this verse (These Twain (the believers and disbelievers) are two opponents who contend concerning their Lord) was revealed about the following six: Hamzah, 'Ubaydah, 'Ali ibn Abi Talib, 'Utbah, Shaybah, and al-Walid ibn 'Utbah”. This was narrated by Bukhari from Hajjaj ibn Minhal from Hushaym from Abu Hashim. Abu Bakr ibn al-Harth informed us> Abu'l-Shaykh al-Hafiz> Muhammad ibn Sulayman> Hilal ibn Bishr> Yusuf ibn Ya'qub>> Sulayman al-Taymi> Abu Majlaz> Qays ibn 'Ubad> 'Ali who said: “The words of Allah (These Twain (the believers and disbelievers) are two opponents who contend concerning their Lord) up to (Taste the doom of burning) [22:22] was revealed about us and about our duels on the Day of Badr”. Said Ibn 'Abbas: “THIS REFERS TO THE PEOPLE OF THE BOOK. The latter said to the believers: 'We have a better right to Allah than you; our Scripture is older than yours and our prophet came before your prophet'. The believers said: 'It is us who have a better right to Allah than you; we believe in Muhammad and in your prophet as we believe in all revealed Scriptures. You have recognized our prophet but refrained from believing in him. You disbelieved in him only because you envied him resentfully'. This was their issue of contention regarding their Lord. And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse about them”. This opinion is also the view of Qatadah. ('Alī ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi, Asbab al-Nuzul; bold and capital emphasis ours)

The Reason for Revelation

It was recorded in the Two Sahihs that Abu Dharr swore that this Ayah

(These two opponents dispute with each other about their Lord;) was revealed concerning Hamzah and his two companions, and `Utbah and his two companions, on the day of Badr when they came forward to engage in single combat. This is the wording of Al-Bukhari in his Tafsir of this Ayah. Then Al-Bukhari recorded that `Ali bin Abi Talib said, “I will be the first one to kneel down before the Most Merciful so that the dispute may be settled on the Day of Resurrection.” Qays (sub-narrator) said, “Concerning them the Ayah was revealed…

(These two opponents dispute with each other about their Lord;)” He (Qays) said, “They are the ones who came forward (for single combat) on the day of Badr: `Ali, Hamzah and `Ubaydah vs., Shaybah bin Rabi`ah, `Utbah bin Rabi`ah and Al-Walid bin `Utbah.” This was reported only by Al-Bukhari. Ibn Abi Najih reported that Mujahid commented on this Ayah, “Such as THE DISBELIEVER AND THE BELIEVER DISPUTING ABOUT THE RESURRECTION.” According to one report Mujahid and `Ata' commented on this Ayah, “This refers to the believers and the disbelievers.” The view of Mujahid and `Ata' that this refers to the disbelievers and the believers, includes ALL OPINIONS, the story of Badr AS WELL AS THE OTHERS. For the believers want to support the religion of Allah, while the disbelievers want to extinguish the light of faith and to defeat the truth and cause falsehood to prevail. This was the view favored by Ibn Jarir, and it is good. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Carefully notice that none of these expositors of the Quran claim that this passage NECESSARILY refers to the battle of Badr. It seems that Zawadi is simply making things up as he goes along. It also demonstrates that he will conveniently choose the interpretation that suits his agenda and, in so doing, gives the misleading impression that his view is the only one presented by these scholars. This simply further exposes his willingness to dishonestly withhold information from his readers concerning the various and often conflicting explanations given by these same commentators on a given passage.

Moreover, these various explanations of the text and the uncertainty of the scholars regarding who exactly is being referred to are simply a further indication that the Quran is a rather incoherent and unintelligible book, despite the fact that it claims to be a scripture which fully explains all of its verses!

A Book whereof the Verses are explained in detail; A Qur'an in Arabic for people who know. S. 41:3 Hilali-Khan

A Book, whereof the verses are explained in detail; - a Qur'an in Arabic, for people who understand; Y. Ali

A Book, the verses of which have been expounded in detail and which will be repeatedly read, couched in clear, eloquent language, for a people who have knowledge, Sher Ali

A scripture whose verses provide the complete details, in an Arabic Quran, for people who know. Rashad Khalifa

Besides, even if it were speaking of the battle of Badr this still fails to address anything that Dimitrius said. Notice the verse once again:

These twain (the believers and the disbelievers) are two opponents (Hathani khasmani) who contend (ikhtasamu) concerning their Lord. But as for those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be cut out for them; boiling fluid will be poured down on their heads, Pickthall

In the context the two groups are likened to two opponents contending with each other, and as such the plural ikhtasamu refers to the two opponents which have just been mentioned.

Therefore, even if we assume that this refers to the six men who fought at Badr this would only mean that these six fighters are being likened to two men fighting with each other. In other words, the plural DOES NOT REFER TO THE SIX MEN but to the two opponents which these six men are likened to! Hence, Dimitrius’ point still stands.

Here is how Zawadi replies to Dimitrius’ statements concerning Q. 2:17:

The parable started with "Mathaluhum," (i.e. their example) and not "Mathaluhu", (i.e. his example). So, it is about a group of people and not about one or two people. When the example finished, it ended with the plural, "ma Haulahum"; again, about the Kuffar as a group of people. So the parable is about the plural and not about a certain man. So again Dimistrius's example is flawed.

Did Zawadi actually bother reading Dimitrius’ explanation carefully? Or was he that desperate to point out a mistake that he overlooked what Dimitrius actually said? Apparently so, since Zawadi’s reply fails to address his actual point, so here it is one more time:

Here the author of the Qur'an is talking about people who have gone astray and gives a parable of someone (singular) "الذِي" who lit a fire (also in the singular) "اسْتَوْقَد" and it lit all that was around him (singular) "حَوْلَهُ". Then Allah removed this light from around THEM "بِنُورِهِم". Here, the author of the Qur'an is still in the parable but uses the term THEM to describe HIM. (Bold, italic and underline emphasis ours)

Now let us look at the text once again to see if whether Dimitrius was right:

The likeness of them is as the likeness of a man who has kindled a fire, and when IT lit all about HIM God took away THEIR light.

It is evident that the disbelievers are being likened to the man in the parable. It is also clear that the parable is speaking of what the man did without any indication that the parable abruptly ends in mid-sentence.

According to the parable it is the man who lights a fire so as to have some light. Therefore, when the text goes on to say that Allah took away THEIR light this can only be referring back to the man who was just mentioned since he is the only one in the context that even has a light!

Once again Dimitrius is absolutely correct since the plural is clearly being used for a singular subject.

Now to be more accurate the Quran should have attached a singular possessive pronoun to the singular antecedent “man.” Thus the verse should have read, “… a man who has kindled a fire... God took away HIS light.”

Since Zawadi and his Arabic tutor Abualrub weren’t satisfied with these examples we have decided to provide some additional examples which establish Dimitrius’ point:

Then he rose towards the heaven when it was smoke, and said to it and to the earth: “Come BOTH OF YOU (itiya) willingly (tawaan) or unwillingly (aw karhan).” They BOTH said (qalata): “We BOTH come (atayna), willingly (taieena).” S. 41:11

According to the late Iranian Islamic scholar Ali Dashti, there is a mistake regarding the grammar of Q. 41:11. Dashti wrote:

"… Sky and earth in Arabic are feminine nouns, and the verb 'said' in verse ten [note: in most English translations it is verse eleven] is accordingly feminine and dual; but the adjective 'willing' at the end of the verse is masculine and plural, and thus at variance with the rules of the Arabic grammar." (Dashti, 23 Years: A Study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammad, translated from the Persian by F.R.C. Bagley [Mazda Publishers, Costa Mesa, CA 1994], p. 163; bold emphasis mine)

To help the non-Arabic speaking readers appreciate the problems with this text it must be kept in mind that Arabic, unlike English, has not only singular and plural forms of verbs and adjectives it also has a dual form that is used when the referent consists of two entities. This is unlike the plural which is used when three or more entities are in view. Verbs and adjectives also take on masculine and feminine forms as a way of corresponding to or identifying the gender of the subject or object within the sentence.

In the above verse the words itiya, qalata and atayna are feminine in gender and dual in number, whereas the adjective taieena is in the masculine plural.

To help the readers appreciate Dashti’s point concerning the blatant mistake of this particular text the following sentence is an attempt to mimic the errors of the Arabic into English:

Rachel and Mary both said, "The three of us men come willingly."

Anyone reading this can clearly see the considerable grammatical mistakes of the sentence, confusing both gender and numbers. This is precisely what we find in Q. 41:11.

Here is another example:

O Prophet! Why do you ban (for yourself) that which Allah has made lawful to you, seeking to please your wives? And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Allah has already ordained for you (O men), the dissolution of your oaths. And Allah is your Maula (Lord, or Master, or Protector, etc.) and He is the All-Knower, the All-Wise. And (remember) when the Prophet disclosed a matter in confidence to one of his wives (Hafsah), so when she told it (to another i.e. 'Aishah), and Allah made it known to him, he informed part thereof and left a part. Then when he told her (Hafsah) thereof, she said: "Who told you this?" He said: "The All-Knower, the All-Aware (Allah) has told me". If you two (tataboo) (wives of the Prophet, namely 'Aishah and Hafsah) turn in repentance to Allah, (it will be better for you), your hearts (quloobukuma) are indeed so inclined (to oppose what the Prophet likes), but if you help one another against him (Muhammad SAW), then verily, Allah is his Maula (Lord, or Master, or Protector, etc.), and Jibrael (Gabriel), and the righteous among the believers, and furthermore, the angels are his helpers. S. 66:1-4 Hilali-Khan

Here the passage refers to Muhammad’s two wives and yet the Arabic word for “your hearts” (quloobukuma) is in the plural! Are we to presume that Muhammad’s two wives actually had more than two hearts? This would contradict the Quran which says that Allah hasn’t placed two hearts in anyone:

Allah has not put for any man two hearts inside his body. Neither has He made your wives whom you declare to be like your mothers' backs, your real mothers. [Az-Zihar is the saying of a husband to his wife, "You are to me like the back of my mother" i.e. You are unlawful for me to approach.] nor has He made your adopted sons your real sons. That is but your saying with your mouths. But Allah says the truth, and He guides to the (Right) Way. S. 33:4 Hilali-Khan

Or should we assume that Dimitrius was correct and that Zawadi and his Arabic guide are grossly mistaken?

Now there is another way for Zawadi to prove that Dimitrius is mistaken and that is by simply admitting that the Quran contains grammatical mistakes and that, contrary to the assertions of his fellow dawagandists, it is not written in perfect Arabic.

If Zawadi does opt for this position he would be in good company since even Aisha, Muhammad’s child bride, and Uthman b. Affan admitted that there are grammatical mistakes in the Muslim scripture.

For example, several allegedly authentic Sunni sources admit that the Quran contains at least four grammatical mistakes:

“Abdullah narrated from Al-Fadhal bin Hamad al-Khayri narrated from Khalid (he meant Ibn Khalid ) from Zaid Ibn Hubab narrated from Ash'ath from Saeed bin Jubayr: "There are four mistakes in Quran:

‘ALSSABI-OON’ [5:69] , ‘WAALMUQEEMEEN’ [4:162 ] , ‘FAASSADDAQA WAAKUN MINA ALSSALIHEEN’ [63:10], ‘IN HATHANI LASAHIRANI’ [20:63].” (Abi Bakr, Kitab Al-Musahif, p. 42; bold emphasis ours)

As was just noted, this was also the view of both Aisha and Uthman b. Affan:

Abu Bakr bin Abdoos and Abu Abdullah bin Hamid narrated from Abu al-Abbas al-Asim from Muhammad bin al-Jahm al-Samri from al-Fara from Abu Mu'awiyah from Hisham bin Arwa from his father that Ayesha was asked about Allah’s statements in Surah Nisa (verse 162) ‘LAKINI ALRRASIKHOONA’ and ‘WAALMUQEEMEENA’ and the Almighty’s statement in Sura Maidah (verse 69) ‘INNA ALLATHEENA AMANOO WAALLATHEENA HADOO WAALSSABI-OON’ and His statement (Taha, 63) ‘IN HATHANI LASAHIRANI’. Ayesha replied: ‘O my nephew, this is due to mistakes committed by the scribe’. (Tafsir al-Thalabi, Volume 6, p. 250)

Abu Ubaid stated in Fadhail Quran that Abu Muawiyah narrated from Hisham bin Urwah from his father that Aisha was asked about the following mistakes in the Quran ‘IN HATHANI LASAHIRANI’ and His statement ‘WAALMUQEEMEENA ALSSALATA WAALMU/TOONA ALZZAKATA’ and His statement ‘INNA ALLATHEENA AMANOO WAALLATHEENA HADOO WAALSSABI-OON’. She replied: “O son of my nephew, this is due to the act of the scribes of the Quran who committed a mistake whilst transcribing them. The chain of this tradition is Sahih according to the conditions of the Shaikhain. (Jalaludin al-Suyuti, Al-Itqan fi Uloom al Quran, Volume 1, p. 210)

“There is no strength with the replies that are advanced against the above cited reply of Aisha, namely that it contains a weak chain. The chain is Sahih.” (Ibid., Volume 1, p. 212; bold emphasis ours)

"There is disagreement over 'ALMUQEEMEENA ALSSALAT'. Aisha and Aban bin Uthman said that was written in the Quran due to a mistake on the part of the transcriber. Its correction is essential and it should be written as 'ALMUQEEMOONA ALSSALAT'. Similarly in Surah Maidah 'AALSSABI-OONA' and in Surah Taha 'IN HATHANI LASAHIRANI' have also been written due to the mistake of scribes. Uthman stated that he had seen some mistakes in the Quran and Arabs would correct them through their language and they had asked him to change them but he said that these mistakes did not change Haram to Halal and vice versa." (Tafsir al-Baghawi (Tafsir Ma'alim at-Tanzeel), Q. 4:161, Volume 3, p. 361)

“Aban bin Uthman recited the verse [IN HATHANI LASAHIRANI] before his father Uthman. Uthman said: “It is incorrect.” Someone asked him: “Why don’t you correct it?” Uthman replied: “Leave it there, it doesn’t make any difference in respect of what is Halal (lawful/permissible) and Haram (forbidden/prohibited).’” (Tafsir al-Qurtubi, Q. 20:63)

For more on the errors and textual corruption of the Quran we highly recommend the following links:

Zawadi and his Arabic mentor can thank their Shia brothers for uncovering these Sunni narrations and making them available to the public.

With that said both the texts of Q. 41:11 and 66:4 furnish additional examples confirming Dimitrius’ point that the Quran uses the plural (three or more) in contexts referring to two entities. Therefore, Mohar Ali’s claim is without merit and fails to prove his argument.

Finally, Zawadi’s “reply” ignores what Dimitrius further said concerning the plural. As he rightly noted, and as the late Islamist Arthur Jeffery correctly stated, the plural isn’t necessarily limited to Muhammad and his wife since it may also include their entire household. In other words, the plural indicates that Muhammad, Khadijah and their children used to all worship Allat and Uzza but then later decided that they would never worship them again.

In conclusion, Zawadi and his Arabic instructor Abualrub were unsuccessful in refuting Dimitrius’ claim. What makes this so shameful is that both Zawadi and Abualrub are Arabs whose mother tongues happen to be Arabic. They even masquerade themselves as having knowledge of the Arabic language. And yet these two dawagandists couldn’t avoid committing rather basic, fundamental mistakes in their explanations which even first year students of Arabic would know enough not to make!

What makes this rather funny (or should I say sad) is that Zawadi has been harping over the fact that I don’t speak Arabic and also accused Dimitrius of making mistakes and yet neither he nor Abualrub was able to refute our arguments even though they both claim to know the Arabic and can read the Quran in its original language!

Zawadi and Abualrub must face reality and come to terms with the fact that neither of them has the knowledge or ability to defend Islam or refute the truth of Christianity. They need to stop embarrassing Islam and their fellow Muslims and be humble enough to find some real Muslim scholars who could at least try to put forth some reasonable arguments.

Lord Jesus willing, there will be more rebuttals to Zawadi’s polemics and defenses in the near future. So please look for them to appear soon and also pray for our success in glorifying our infinitely holy and majestic Triune God who lives forever!


(1) The section of al-Mukhtarah containing this hadith has not been published. The late Salafi hadith scholar Al-Albani, Majaniq, 8, transcribed the chain of transmitters from a Zahiriyyah manuscript (ms) which some suspect may have been ms Majmu’ 86 (al-Albani, Fihris makhtutat Dar al-Kutub al-Zahiriyyah [Majma’ al-Lughah al-‘Arabiyyah bi-Dimashq, 1970], p. 326).