By Mohammad Asghar

Ever since I started reading the Quran some twenty years ago, I have been trying to find out the identity of the Allah, who had revealed its contents to Muhammad. This question arose in my mind because I found Him describing Himself as I, He, Me and We in the Quran.

My wonderment came to an end when I stumbled on a verse in Sura Az-Zumar, or the Crowds while writing my commentary or Tafsir of the Quran. From the contents of the verse, I concluded that the Muslims’ Allah is none but Muhammad himself.

My commentary is reproduced hereunder. I am sure readers will agree with my finding, but should they find any discrepancy in it, I will like to know about it so that I may be able to correct myself after a thorough discussion.

39: Sura Az-Zumar, or the Crowds

Az-Zumar, “The Crowds” or “The Troops” takes its name from a “peculiar word”[1] that occurs in verse 71, and again, in verse 73. It is a Meccan Sura, but some authorities think verses 53 and 54 were revealed in Medina. The entire Sura consists of 75 verses.

The Sura opens with a declaration from Muhammad on the Quran, saying:

“The revelation of this Book is from Allah, the Exalted in Power, full of Wisdom.” [2]

He followed it by emphasizing:

“Is it not to Allah that sincere devotion is due?” But those who take for protectors others than Allah (say): “We only serve them in order that they may bring us nearer to Allah.” Truly Allah will judge between them in that wherein they differ. But Allah guides not such as are false and ungrateful.”[3]

As we know, the Quraish polytheists believed in Allah, whose symbol they preserved in Ka’aba in the form of a statue. They believed that it was Allah who created the heavens and earth and subdued the sun and the moon.[4] Because they thought He was beyond their reach, they needed the help of some other deities to bring Him nearer to them. That is why they prayed to al-Lat, al-Manat and al-Uzza – supposedly His daughters – to intervene on their behalf and bring Him nearer to them.

The Quraish polytheists’ attempt to reach their deity was not, in actuality, any different from the basic, but unpronounced, concept of Islam. Muslims need to follow in toto what Muhammad has said in the Quran to save themselves from the difficulties of their earthly lives. It is only by following his directives, as he gave them through the Quran, will they be able to avoid the Fire of Hell in the world hereafter.

In other words, Muslims can earn the pleasure of Allah, if He is some one other than Muhammad himself, by following Muhammad’s words and deeds. This they have inferred from the Quran. This inference has led them to make Muhammad synonymous with Allah. That is why they repeat umpteen times in their lives that he is Allah’s Prophet in order for them to remain Muslims. That is why they invoke his name, along with Allah’s, in most of their prayers. That is why they pay more respects to him than to Allah. That is why they flock to his grave in Medina to earn his blessings.

Muhammad did not appreciate what the Pagans had told him about they were using to bring Allah nearer to them. Instead, he threatened to judge them harshly for differing with him on how to achieve Allah’s nearness.

To make sure that the polytheists had understood who the real Allah was, Muhammad told them:

If ye reject (Allah), truly Allah hath no need of you; but He liketh not ingratitude from His servants: if ye are grateful, He is pleased with you. No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another. In the end, to your Lord is your Return, when He will tell you the truth of all that ye did (in this life). For He knoweth well all that is in (men’s) hearts.[5]

Hinting that he was like other men, with likes and dislikes of his own, Muhammad told them that it did not matter to him whether or not they thanked him, but if they gave him thanks, he will accept them. Referring to the idols, or the symbols the polytheists worshipped with the hope of bringing Allah nearer to them, he told them that those idols will not be able to help themselves, as they had their own burdens to worry about. Through this statement, he reinforced his belief that the idols had life and that they will be judged by him or Allah on the Day of Judgment.

Telling the polytheists that he was first among those who were Muslims,[6] even though he had never formally converted to Islam, and that he was serving only Allah with his sincere (and exclusive) devotion,[7] Muhammad told them:

“Serve ye what ye will besides Him.” Say: “Truly, those in loss are those who lose their own souls and their People on the Day of Judgment: Ah! That is indeed the (real and) evident Loss!”[8]

Muhammad withdrew from a discussion he was having with the Pagans of Mecca, telling them, ‘you worship whoever you like, but you will be the one who will be losing not only yourselves, but also your kith and kin on the Day of Judgment.’ This apparently gentle and humane statement of Muhammad should not mislead us into believing that he was a gentle and kind man, as he had made this statement at a time when he was powerless, and was struggling to establish himself as a prophet of Allah. He had to be reconciliatory in his tones and statements towards the Pagans, as any threat of physical violence against them would have backfired, and the Pagans’ would have brought his life and his mission to an end.

Had it been Medina, we would have read a different statement from Muhammad. After his arrival here, he remained a powerless man for some time, with only a handful of men at his command. This had compelled him to maintain a friendly and cordial relationship with the city’s Jewish and Pagan inhabitants.

But from the statements he had made sometime after his arrival in Medina, we can see a transformation taking place in his personality with the gradual increase in the number of his followers. Bolstered by their support, he transformed himself from a “peaceful man of Mecca” to a “highly violent man of Medina” in order to steamroll his will on his Jewish and other opponents. Here, he proved that he was truly a brutal dictator, with all the traits of extremely sadistic desires ingrained in his mind!

Asking his “servants” to save themselves from his wrath,[9] Muhammad also told them:

“Those who listen to the Word, and follow the best (meaning) in it: those are the ones whom Allah has guided, and those are the ones endued with Understanding.”[10]

This statement came from a man who claimed that nobody would be able to corrupt the contents of the Quran, as he has preserved them on a solid tablet, which he keeps under his constant watch. At the time of making the said claim, he did not know that smart people will be able to understand what inanities the Quran carried and then trash its contents forever. But at a later stage, this reality downed on him, and he tried to amend his mistake by asking the people to follow the best they found in them. He admitted that the words he has used have not-so-good connotations.

Before his confession could soothe his opponents, Muhammad dropped a bombshell on them by declaring:

“Allah has revealed (from time to time) the most beautiful message in the form of a Book, consistent with itself, (yet) repeating (its teaching in various aspects): the skins of those who fear their Lord tremble thereat; then their skins and their hearts do soften to the celebrations of Allah’s praises. Such is the guidance of Allah: He guides therewith whom He pleases, but such as Allah leaves to astray, can have none to guide.”[11]

To reaffirm that Muhammad had a sick mind, I do not have to go any further than the above verse. The Book he has referred to is the same Book that he had compiled before the creation of the universe, and which he has preserved in his custody to ensure that humans could not corrupt it for achieving their selfish goals. The Torah, also known as “The Law,” the Bible, also known as “Injil” to the Muslims as well as the Quran are its true copies.

Muhammad revealed, through some selected men, and from time to time, the contents of the celestial Book to the people on earth. The first copy to arrive on earth was known as Zabur. It had come to Abraham, or Ibrahim, as the Muslims call him, but it has become extinct. The second copy (Torah) came to Moses, or Musa, as he is called by the Muslims. The third copy (Injil) came to Jesus Christ, who is known as Issa to the Muslims.

After the Jews (the followers of Moses) corrupted and interpolated the Torah with their own words, Muhammad sent Injil to Jesus Christ to correct what had gone wrong in the Torah. But when the followers of Christ did the same thing to the Injil, he sent the Quran to himself, repeating in it what he had mentioned in all the three earlier copies of the original Quran. Its third copy, also called “The Quran” still retains its pristine origin, as nobody has yet been able to corrupt its messages.

This un-corrupted and un-adulterated Quran calls upon the Muslims to “fight and slay the Pagans wherever they find them,” and to “seize them, beleaguer them and (to) lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war),”[12] as they had allegedly broken their covenant with Muhammad. It also requires the Muslims not to take the Jews and the Christians as their friends or protectors, as it says, they are friends of each other.

Despite all the messages of hatred and destruction it has, Muhammad claimed that his Quran carries most beautiful messages for humanity. If what I have quoted from the Quran are the beautiful messages, then I have nothing else to call ugly and violent. In keeping with the definition of beauty Muhammad gave us, I should also put the massacre of the Jews and their expulsion from Medina by him into the category of beautiful things he had done in his lifetime!

Muhammad claimed that he was an apostle for the entire humanity[13] and in this capacity, he had the Quran revealed to himself so that all humans could take lessons from its “most beautiful messages.” Regarding the language of the Quran, he said:

“(It is) a Quran in Arabic, without any crookedness (therein): in order that they may guard against Evil.”[14]

Reading the above verse with verse 42:7, we can conclude that in Muhammad’s mind, the “entire humanity,” or “mankind”[15] on earth consisted only of those people who lived in Mecca and other cities around it, and who spoke Arabic. That is why he had revealed the Quran in the language of those people so that all of them could understand, and be guided by its messages without any difficulty.

Muhammad’s view of the world and its population, as he saw then, was myopic and it is evident from his statements that are recorded in the Quran. Also his allusion that its contents were intended to guide all the people of the world to a path, he thought, was righteous was the outcome of delusions he suffered from in his life. Had these not been the reasons for him to claim that he was an apostle for the entire mankind, what other factors could have made him make this claim, given the fact that:

  1. in comparison to the total population of the world in the 7th century, the population of the Arabian Peninsula must have remained very negligible. I am saying this because, giving him the benefit of doubt, I would like to believe that through the phrase “The Mother of Cities and all around her” that he has used in verse 42:7, he might have referred to the whole of the Arabian Peninsula.
  2. the Arabian Peninsula of Muhammad’s time exists no more. It has been divided into seven independent states, which are: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and the Yemen. The total number of their native people stands at about 52 millions today. All of their people speak Arabic.
  3. if the world’s population in 2006 has reached 6.5 billion, then the percentage of the Arabic speaking people of the truncated Arabian Peninsula is just about 8 percent.
  4. relying on the brief statistics I have presented, it can be safely concluded that Muhammad had revealed the Quran in Arabic for the understanding of only 8 percent of the world’s population. But if I lump the Arabic speaking people of other Middle Eastern countries and beyond with the people of all the countries of the Arabian Peninsula, then the total percentage of the people who can read and understand the Quran should stand between 17 to 20 percent of the globe’s population.
  5. this means that over 80 percent of the world’s inhabitants cannot benefit from what is written in the Arabic Quran, unless, of course, all of them start learning, and mastering the Arabic of the Quran.

By depriving such a huge number of humans from the benefit of the Quran, not even an insane person could claim that he was an apostle for “all humanity” on earth. If Muhammad was not insane, then why, and under what circumstances, did he make such an important proclamation?

As I have understood, Muhammad had no grand scheme for himself and the Arabian Peninsula when he began his movement other than to take over the custody of the Ka’aba and to force Mecca’s rich community to share their wealth with him. In other words, Mecca was his prime focus and his ‘world.’ This is evident from various verses of the Quran.

But his focus and his “world” changed after he arrived in Medina. Made very angry by his displacement and loss of belongings that he had in Mecca, he targeted the Pagan caravans to vent his anger, and to recoup his losses. His success at Badr was the first stepping stone, which emboldened him greatly. It also brought many indigent people from Medina to his camp with willingness to do anything he wanted them to do.

His success at bringing the Jews of Medina to their knees provided him the greatest impetus he needed not only for acquiring much power and wealth, but also to look beyond its peripheries. To justify his incursions into the territories that were close to the boundaries of Medina, he had to designate himself as a prophet for the entire humanity, a designation that required him to amend the ways of life of those people whose lands he wanted to conquer either by deceit or force.

The word “humanity,” or “mankind,” therefore, had a limited scope and implication for Muhammad. He used it strictly to denote either those people he was amongst, or those people he was going to bring into his fold, or those people with whom he had some problems, as it can be noted from verse 114:6 of the Quran. He did not use the word “Nas,” or “mankind” in the sense we use it in our conversations and writings.

His assertion that he has revealed the Quran in Arabic is the clue I have relied on to draw my conclusion. It lends the support I needed to establish my point of view.

Together with threatening his opponents, most of whom were Pagans, with the punishments of hell fire for their opposition of him, Muhammad also offered them an olive branch by promising to “turn off from them (even) the worst in their deeds,”[16] if they submitted to his dictums. Instead of accepting his offer, they “frightened” him with the wraths of their Allah.[17] But their Allah failed to do their bidding, as he was no match for Muhammad.

Having absolute confidence in his own ability and strength to come out successful against all of his opponents, he declared:

“… O my people! Do whatever ye can: I will do (my part): but soon will ye know – who it is to whom comes a Penalty of ignominy, and on whom descends a Penalty that abides.”[18]

His prediction proved true: all of his opponents had to abandon their ancestral religions and bow down before him in a complete surrender. These were the ignominies that Muhammad had predicted for them; they did befell them, and their victims paid a high price for frightening him with the wraths of their Allah who, it seems, proved helpless and ineffective in the face of Muhammad’s might and manipulations.

To prove how powerful he was, Muhammad told his opponents:

“It is Allah that takes the souls (of men) at death; and those that die not (He takes) during their sleep: those on whom He has passed the decree of death, He keeps back (from returning to life), but the rest He sends (to their bodies) from a term appointed. Verily in this are Signs for those who reflect.” [19]

Not only that Muhammad had the power to cause deaths to humans, he also retained to himself the exclusive right to decide who, on the Day of Judgment, will intercede on their behalf with the Allah who was superior to him. In this connection, he told his listeners:

“What! Do they take for intercessors others besides Allah? Say: “Even if they have no power whatever and no intelligence?” Say: “To Allah belongs exclusively (the right to grant) intercession: to Him belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth: that ye shall be brought back.”[20]

I have reached a point in my commentary where I find Muhammad accusing his opponents of taking other intercessors besides Allah, even though “they (intercessors) have no power whatever and no intelligence.” This means that only the Allah Muhammad said he was representing on earth has the power and intelligence to act as an intercessor, as ‘intercession belongs exclusively to Allah; to whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and in the end, to whom all shall be brought back.’

With whom will Muhammad’s Allah intercede, if He is some one other than Muhammad? We need to investigate this matter to understand the implication of Muhammad’s statement. This will also help us point out the ground based on which, I maintain that Allah was none but Muhammad himself.

Intercession in the next world with a Supreme Deity was one of the beliefs of the Pagans, and Muhammad grew up with this belief in his mind. The Meccan Pagans believed that this Allah protected them, as well as those who came to His shrine and sought His protection. Muhammad had no problem with this Allah; his problem lied with His symbol or statue, which the Pagans had installed in Ka’aba to bring Him nearer to them. In fact, he believed he was an ardent servant of this Allah, who had sent him to the Meccan Pagans to bring them to His true path.

Allah’s statue appeared to Muhammad like that of a human being, but without eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hands and legs etc. In his mind, the depiction of Allah without limbs was an insult to Him. But while propagating his idea of the real Allah with all the limbs he faced a major problem in that he had never seen Him in person, and as such, it prevented him from describing His features when demanded by his opponents. To overcome his problem, he turned the Allah of Mecca into an amorphous being. This enabled him to talk extensively about Him without having to describe His gender or appearance.

But while doing so, Muhammad also abolished those deities of the Pagans who they worshipped in the hope that they would, on their behalf, intercede with Allah. This angered the Pagans. He tried to address their anger by telling them that as intercession had not benefited the Jews, it was not going to benefit them either.[21] And then he hinted that he was going to be one of their intercessors.

The Pagans refused to buy his argument. Eager to win their confidence, he tried to put them off by telling them that as nobody will be able to intercede with Allah without His permission,[22] it was useless to have intercessors without knowing whether or not they will be able to intercede with Him. To prove his point, he told them that “those who sustain {his} Throne and those around it … will implore his forgiveness for those who believe…,[23] but he will not accept their imploration and he will judge both the believers and unbelievers on the basis of what they have done on earth.

The Pagans remained unmoved.

Since Muhammad could not rest without bringing the Pagans to his side, he introduced them to Ar-Rahman, a deity of the Yemenites, who, his worshippers believed, was Most Gracious and Most Merciful, thus doing away with the necessity of having any intercessors to obtain His pleasure. When the Pagans asked him what or who this Ar-Rahman was,[24] he became confused. In a state of confusion, he confined Ar-Rahman to the City of Mecca, telling them “For me, I have been commanded to serve the Lord of this City, Him who has sanctified it and to Whom (belong) all things. …”[25]

The Pagans still remained unsatisfied.

Finding no other way to satisfy the Pagans, Muhammad designated the Lord of Mecca as an intercessor with Allah,[26] a higher deity who, he believed, had commanded him to serve the Lord of Mecca.

In regard to the intercessory role that the Meccan Lord will play on the Day of Judgment, Muhammad told the Pagans:

“It is Allah Who has created the heavens and the earth, and all between them, in six days, and is firmly established on the Throne (of authority): ye have none, besides Him, to protect or intercede (for you): will ye not then receive admonition?”[27]

Because the Meccan Lord was subservient to a Supreme Allah, the former took oath on the latter with a view to making humans understand how powerful He was. This is what Muhammad has said on this account:

“By Allah, We (also) sent (our apostles) to Peoples before thee; but Satan made, (to the wicked), their own acts seem alluring: He is also their patron today, but they shall have a most grievous penalty.”[28]

It was the Supreme Allah on whom the Meccan Lord swore, for he could not have sworn on himself to make his point weighty and believable. It is the Supreme Allah who will ultimately decide the fate of the Muslims, intercessions from Muhammad and the Meccan Lord on their behalf notwithstanding.

The Pagans did not accept any of his nonsense till they were forced to embrace his religion to save their lives.

Through my commentary on verse 39:53, below, I will explain the ground on the basis of which, I maintain that Allah was none, but Muhammad himself.

The fact that Muhammad did not react violently against the Meccan Pagans due to his own weakness and that he deferred their punishment to a later date are inferable from his own statements, which are recorded in the Quran. In this connection, he had said:

“When Allah, the One and Only, is mentioned, the hearts of those who believe not in the Hereafter are filled with disgust and horror; but when (gods) other than He are mentioned, behold, they are filled with joy!”[29]

Muhammad’s above statement also tells us clearly that the Pagans did not resort to physical violence against him when he preached the oneness of Allah; rather, they found themselves filled with disgust and horror by his utterances. Reacting to the Pagans’ facial or physical expressions, Muhammad told himself:

“Say: “O Allah! Creator of the heavens and the earth! Knower of all that is hidden and open! It is Thou that wilt judge between Thy Servants in those matters about which they have differed.”[30]

Leaving the judgment of the Pagans to a later date and also pointing out to them that even if they possessed all the treasures of the earth and as much besides, and they offered it “for ransom from the pain of the Penalty”[31] that they will then surely be subjected to for their wrong-doings, he told himself:

“Say: “O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Turn ye to your Lord (in repentance) and bow to His (Will), before the Penalty comes on you: after that ye shall not be helped.”[32]

Muhammad addressed all men in his capacity of Allah, as all humans are His servants.[33] Unless it is proven that the words “O my Servants” were the outcome of a slip of tongue, this address of Muhammad fully supports my contention that Allah was none but Muhammad. In his capacity of Allah, he demanded that all men must worship him to earn their salvation on the Day of Judgment.

Maulana Abul Ala Mududi was one of the few Muslim scholars who was able to understand the true and devastating implication of the words “O my Servants.” It was this realization that had made him to come up with the following explanation to save the Quran, nay, Islam, from its certain death:

“Some commentators have given a strange interpretation to these words. They say that Allah Himself has commanded the Holy Prophet to address the people as “My servants” therefore, all men are the servants of the Holy Prophet. This interpretation is no interpretation at all but a worst distortion of the meaning of the Qur’an and indeed tampering with the Word of Allah. If this interpretation were correct, it would falsify and negate the whole Qur’an. For the Qur’an, from the beginning to the end, establishes the concept that men are the servants of Allah alone, and its whole message revolves around the point that they should serve none but One Allah alone. The Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah’s peace) himself was Allah’s servant. Allah had sent him not as rabb (sustainer, providence) but as a Messenger so that he should himself serve Him and teach the other people also to serve Him alone. After all, how can a sensible person believe that the Holy Prophet might have one day stood up before the disbelieving Quraish of Makkah and made the sudden proclamation: “You are in fact the slaves of Muhammad and not of al- `Uzzah and ash-Shams.” (We seek Allah’s refuge from this)”[34]

In spite of his best effort, Mududi failed to explain why Muhammad or Allah had used the words “O my Servants” in conjunction with the words “turn ye to your Lord (in repentance) and bow to His (Will)” in his address. His failure was caused by either of the following two facts:

  1. he could not believe that Allah could have made a mistake, and/or
  2. Muhammad himself was Allah and, as a human being, he was susceptible to making mistakes in his utterances and actions.

Accepting either of the two scenarios would have destroyed Mududi’s religion. Therefore, he tried to defend the Quran by accusing other commentators of misinterpreting verse 39: 53.

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