2. What Muhammad said About Himself – and What Others Said About Him
In the last issue of LEARN & SHARE we had a look at what Jesus said about Himself and what others said about Him. We all have reason to be thrilled by that. Muslims look at Muhammad in similar fashion. They believe a lot of good things about him. He is acclaimed as the best person ever to walk on this earth. Miracles are attributed to him. Is that true? What does the Qur’an have to say about Him?
When we consider the person of Muhammad, we can really only draw on information collected by Muslims, and that glorifies him. Very little which is negative has been recorded about him. Consequently, it is not possible to reconstruct a balanced picture of his character or nature. It is very difficult to attempt to come to an honest conclusion. When we compare the sayings of Muhammad with those of Jesus Christ (as in the last issue), we find some significant differences. The Gospel records give us many famous “I am…” statements uttered by our Lord. From Muhammad, we know of a number of “I shall be …” sayings. Let us reflect on these for a moment!
“I shall be the leader of the children of Adam on resurrection day….”
“I shall be the foremost of the prophets in respect of followers on Resurrection Day.”
“I shall be the leader of the prophets and their spokesman.”
“I shall be the first of those who will knock at the door of paradise.”
“I shall come to the door of Paradise on Resurrection Day and open it”
The guard will ask: ‘Who are you?’ I shall reply: ‘Muhammad’. He will say: ‘I have been ordered not to open it to anyone before you!'”
“I am the Beloved of Allah and there is no boast, and I shall be the bearer of the standard of praise on Resurrection Day … and I shall be the first who will move the door of Paradise and so Allah will open it for me and admit me therein.” [This is contradicted by another Hadis, however.]
“I shall be first intercessor in Paradise.”
“I shall be by the right side of the Throne.”
“It is I who has been given a revelation which Allah has revealed to me.”
“I have been given superiority over all other prophets.”
“I have been sent with a collective revelation.”
“I found myself presented with the keys of the treasures of the world and they were placed in my hand.”
“Allah sent me to complete the excellent virtues and to perfect the good actions.”
(All from Mishkat, Vol. IV, chap. XLIV, pp. 314-328 by Fazlul Karim.)
At his “farewell-pilgrimage”, Muhammad is reported to have said: ‘Today I have perfected your religion. I have given you the Book of Allah and the Sunnah (the way, the model) of his prophet”.
Elsewhere we read that Muhammad said: “Whosoever obeys me shall enter paradise, and whosoever disobeys me has refused” (Mishkat, Vol.1, p. 15a).
There are, however, some references in the Qur’an pointing out what the Meccan people said about Muhammad: “Nothing is this, but a lie which he has forged, and others have helped him at it … tales of the ancients he has written and they are dictated before him morning and evening”(Surah 25:4-5).
“It is a man that teaches him … ” (Surah 16:103). “He forged it” (i.e. the Qur’an) (Surah 10:38).
This accusation was directed against Salman, the Persian, who must have told Muhammad of the religion in Persia. This is evident in the Qur’an, both from its context and also from the use of Persian words which were new to Arabic. In the oldest biography of Muhammad by Ibn Ishaq we further read:
“Nadr, son of al’Harith, came in and told them stories of the great Rustem and Isfandeyar and the Kings of Persia. Then he said: ‘I swear by the Lord, that the stories of Muhammad are not better than my own. They are nothing but tales from the past which he has written out, just as I have written out mine.”
Nadr had to pay for this with his life! Muhammad had him slain when the opportunity arose. Further, we read in the Qur’an that the Meccans said: “This is a sorcerer, telling lies! Has he made the gods into one Allah?” (Surah 38:4-5).
No doubt, Muhammad’s followers thought highly of him, at least those near him. Even so we can perceive a biting sarcasm from his devoted wife Ayesha. When women offered themselves to Muhammad and Ayesha jealously rebuked them, a “revelation” came down to Muhammad: “You may put off whom you please of them; you may take to you whom you wish, and if you desire any whom you have separated, no blame attaches to you” (Surah 33:51). Ayesha’s remark was “it seems to me that your Lord hastens to satisfy your desires!” (Mishkat I, p.210).
Perhaps we should not overlook another fact. Immediately after the death of Muhammad the so-called Ridda happened. This was a rejection of Islam by a number of Arab tribes. What might have prompted them to become followers of Muhammad, when at his death they reverted?
Take notice of all this. Realize the world of difference between our Lord Jesus Christ and Muhammad – and the more we know about them both, the more we become aware of this. Can we use this knowledge as a tool to enlighten a Muslim of the shortcomings of his “prophet”? The “natural man” will be delighted to do this. The spiritual man or woman will be sensitive towards Muslims, considerate and loving. If we really love Muslim people we will not want to hurt them.
We need to know about the true Muhammad in order not to be carried away by Islam, and not to compromise. But also a Muslim should know this. However, this knowledge can only be shared at the right time and in the right way.
Would you feel satisfied or horrified to hurt a Muslim by telling him the truth about Muhammad? If you would feel satisfied to hurt, you are a danger to the cause of Christ! If you would be horrified to hurt him, tell him the truth in love, at the right time and in the most appropriate manner!