What does the Quran really say about intercession?

What does the Quran really say about intercession

 
The general Quranic position on intercession: While the Quran considers the testimony by one’s own self, which witnesses and self-records its own actions, as the only ‘intercession’ to be allowed on the day of Judgment – when the judgment absolutely belongs to God alone (10:3, 20:109, 34:23, 43:86, 78:38) – it unconditionally dismisses all intercessions as futile and any belief in intercession as idolatry, including intercession by any messenger, avatar, saint or whosoever (2:48, 2:123, 2:254, 6:70, 6:94, 7:53, 39:44, 74:48, 66:10).

The Quran insists that even the greatest religious celebrities themselves are not exempt from the divine law of recompense and that none has the power of saving a guilty from divine justice (2:48, 2:253-254, 6:15, 6:164, 9:80, 9:114, 10:15, 11:46, 39:13, 46:9, 66:10, 72:20-21, 74:48).

Now the Quranic expression “those who have been exceptionally approved to intercede” has an idiosyncratic meaning (implies natural consequences of cause-and-effect chains), which is very different from the traditional meaning of intercessors (implies extra favor and nepotism). Their presence and witnessing during the divine judicial process appear to be completely passive, no more than future shadows of past memories.

For example, you worked hard to prepare for exams. Your past efforts become your intercessors during the day of exam. Thus, from a Quranic perspective, the term ‘shafa’at’, though usually translated as ‘intercession’, actually means ‘to stand with’ (4:85), or ‘to stand up as a witness to speak the truth (20:109, 78:38)’.

The intercessors at personal level: The Quran metaphorically refers to human’s own self – which witnesses and self-records its own actions – and its associated controllers who witness these actions, like one’s own parts and senses (tongue, hands, feet, hearing, sights, skins etc), as the only ‘intercessors’ at personal level that have been divinely approved to intercede (17:14, 17:36, 24:24, 36:65, 41:20-22, 81:7) as they are the only ones who can “bear witness to the truth, and who fully know” about human’s own actions (43:86; cf 20:109).

The intercessors at community level: The only ‘intercession by messengers’ mentioned throughout the Quran is always at a community level and it is ALWAYS A NEGATIVE ONE: the idolized messengers (witnesses) will be condemning their own communities about idolatry, i.e. ‘associating God with others’ (21:26-28; cf. 2:166, 10:28-36, 11:18-21, 16:89, 19:81-82, 25:30-31, 28:62, 28:74-75, 35:13-14, 39:23-32, 41:47-48, 46:5-9).

The same applies to Muhammad, who, in contrast to the popular belief, is fallible and powerless like any human and is given no special knowledge about the future or even about his own fate or fate of others in God’s ultimate judgment (7:188, 10:49, 11:31, 46:9, 72:25). Besides, he is given no authority to intercede on the Judgment Day (9:80, 39:3, 39:19, 63:6) when there will be no mediator or intercessor whatsoever (2:48, 2:123, 2:254-255, 6:51, 10:18, 32:4, 39:44, 40:18). Rather, ironically, according to another Quranic allegory, Muhammad’s only ‘intercession’ on that day will be a NEGATIVE TESTIMONY against his worshippers, who deserted the Quran by hoping for his intercession (25:30-31). Thus, those who have deluded themselves into believing Muhammad as their saviour would be eventually rejected by their own idol himself (5:109, 2:48).

Finally, it is important to remember that all these descriptions about intercession on the Judgment Day are purely allegorical. It is absolutely impossible for a human mind to comprehend the ultimate meaning of these metaphysical descriptions as they fall within the category of ‘al-ghayb’ or sector of reality which is completely beyond the reach of human perception and imagination. Probably one can try to grasp them somehow only intuitively, as a general mental image, but not as a physical reality.

 

Related article:

Who can intercede on the Day of Judgment?

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The Quran calls for critical thinking and reasoning

The Quran calls for critical thinking and reasoning

 
The Quran:

● harshly criticizes the inertia of a vegetative existence that lacks critical thinking and cognition (7:179, 8:22, 10:100-101, 11:24);

● puts responsibility on every individual to personally question, analyse and verify (39:18, 17:36, 5:105);

● calls not to accept or follow anything mindlessly, warning that doing so would lead to eventual interrogation by the course of nature (17:36);

● describes unquestioning minds as polluted (10:100);

● describes unreasoning folks as subhumans (7:179, 8:22, 25:44);

● asks to produce objective evidence besides subjective experience (2:111, 21:24; cf. 3:86, 12:26-27, 21:24, 37:156-157);

● demands substantiating arguments with hard evidence to validate a conventional belief (2:111, 4:174, 5:104-105, 8:42, 10:100, 11:17, 17:36, 37:156-157);

● asks to investigate every single report, rumor and information with direct and/or circumstantial evidence before judging or giving credence to it (49:6, 12:26-27);

● cautions about hasty judgement and jumping into conclusions (17:11, 37:69-71);

● maintains that deduction from unverified, potentially flawed premises generates uncertain inferences (5:104; cf. 2:170, 17:11, 37:70);

● insists that believing in a ready-made proposition or accepting a popular hypothesis, without deep observation and reasoning, is misguiding (2:170, 5:104, 10:100-101, 31:21, 33:67, 37:69-71);

● asks not to debate in matters of which one has no knowledge (3:66);

● asks not to follow conjecture, as conjecture can in no way substitute the truth (10:36, 49:6, 45:24, 6:116, 53:28, 2:111, 21:24);

● calls to critically examine all specific information and then to try to impute a general principle through the process of inductive reasoning (39:18; cf. 8:22, 7:179, 10:100-101, 17:36, 46:26);

● advises to doubt and not to blindly follow the stereotypes, traditions and footprints of the ancestors (2:170, 7:28, 5:104-105, 6:112, 7:70, 21:52-54, 26:74, 37:69-71, 43:22-24);

● states that the misguidance due to this blind following (taqlid) of the ancestors, which sprouts up from faulty premises and branches into a ‘tree of poisonous fruit’, leads a society to a living hell (37:62-71; cf. 17:60, 31:21, 44:43, 56:52);

● invites to deeply observe ‘all that is in the Heavens and the Earth’ (10:101);

● calls to uncover the truths about life and the universe through sensory perception, observation and contemplation (7:185, 29:20, 30:50, 50:6-7, 88:17-20);

● highlights the importance of scientific observation (2:259, 3:137, 6:11, 6:75-79, 6:99, 7:185, 10:101, 15:16, 16:36, 27:69, 29:20, 30:9, 30:42, 30:50, 35:44, 37:88, 40:21, 45:13, 47:10, 50:6, 80:24, 86:5, 88:17-20);

● asks to read the divine messages holistically, without being blunted by mechanical shallowness born of haste and impatience (21:37; 75:16-21, 20:114);

● asks to study the Quran through thinking, analysing and reasoning (2:17-18, 3:79, 4:82, 12:2, 23:68, 25:73, 43:3-4, 47:24);

● encourages scientific inquisitiveness and its associates, i.e. experiencing, experimenting and reasoning, as important steps towards attaining conviction (2:260, 6:75-79, 10:100-101, 23:80, 37:88); 

● demands faith not based on wishful thinking or emotion, but based on evidence and reasoning (4:174, 8:42, 10:100, 11:17, 17:36, 74:30-31);

● insists that without deep observation and reasoning, one cannot ‘read’ the divine messages (‘scientific facts’) of the universe (12:105, 25:73, 40:13, 46:26);

● proclaims that those who lack this essential compass of observation and reasoning remain lost in the darknesses of ignorance (6:39, 2:17-18);

● asserts that the above are denied access to the divine treasures of the universe and so remain deprived of material prosperity and spiritual progress (39:62-63);

● asks to be free individuals without the sheeple mentality to be shepherded by someone (2:104);

● asks not to be captivated by the number or the influence of a majority (19:73, 12:106, 54:43-44);

● asks not to be followers of a crowd, since a crowd is too often prone to misdeed and misjudgement (6:116; cf. 10:36, 12:106, 16:83, 19:73, 36:62);

● asks not to be entranced by the charisma of the celebrities, leaders and ‘the great ones’, and not to be cowed by the unquestioning obedience of the authorities and establishments (23:24, 33:67, 5:104-105); and

● constantly appeals to humans to use their intellect and reason, to be free-thinking and sceptical, to be truth-seekers and iconoclasts (2:170-171, 2:242, 2:269, 3:118, 3:190, 6:74-83, 6:110, 7:169, 8:22, 10:42, 10:100-101, 11:51, 12:2, 12:106, 12:111, 13:4, 13:19, 16:67, 16:83, 17:36, 21:10, 21:57-67, 23:68, 23:80, 24:61, 29:63, 30:21, 30:28, 38:29, 39:9, 39:18, 39:21, 40:54, 45:23, 46:26, 47:24, 54:44, 59:14).

 

Related article:

The Quran calls for inductive reasoning

Why Adam’s mate in the Quran has no name

Why Adam_s mate in the Quran has no name

 
To describe man, the Quran uses three terms: BASHAR (man; as a biological creature), INSAN (social man) and ADAM (human; a rational, loving man, living in harmony with others).

Adam literally means ‘a human’. That is, a man with human attributes like rationality and compassion. As ‘a human’, Adam is more than just ‘a man’ (bashar) or ‘a social man’ (insan).

Obviously, as bashar or insan doesn’t refer to a person but to man in general, so is Adam in the Quran. Instead of referring to any specific human, Adam is a mythical name for all humans.

This becomes evident from a careful reading of the allegory of Adam. For example, the Adam (human) who is sometimes totally replaced by bashar (man; 15:28-44, 38:69-85), the Adam who is continuously being created out of dust in a constantly recurring event (3:59, 40:67), the Adam who is taught all the names that signify the ever-growing vocabulary of the evolving human (2:31), the Adam to whom bow down all the Forces, except the Evil Force inside the mind (2:34), the Adam who forgets the covenant, thereby showing the inconstancy of human nature in general (20:115, 7:172-175; cf. 2:35), the Adam who is forgiven and receives ‘inspired words’ following the fall of all humans (2:36-38) and the Adam who NEVER appears in the Quranic list of prophets, clearly represents the whole humankind and signifies both man and woman.

Yes, because Adam simply means ‘a human’, s/he can be either man or woman. Please read this traditionally misinterpreted verse:

And We said: O human (Adam)! Dwell you and your spouse (zauj; husband, wife, mate) in this garden and eat freely thereof whatever you wish, but do not approach this one tree, lest you become wrongdoers. 2:35

Here it is important to note that, while all Arabic nouns are either masculine or feminine, this grammatical gender doesn’t necessarily imply biological male or female. Thus, though the word ‘Adam’ (human) is grammatically masculine, it essentially refers to both man and woman. In the same way as ‘bashar’ (man) and insan (social man), which are grammatically masculine, comprise both man and woman. For a simple grammatical comparison, see 15:28-44 and 38:69-85, where Adam is totally replaced by bashar.

Moreover, rendered above as ‘spouse’ and often mistranslated as ‘wife’, the word ‘zauj’, a masculine noun, actually means a mate, a spouse, a partner, an opposite, or a pair of opposites. Thus, when used for Adam’s mate (2:35, 7:19; 7:189), it actually refers to either male or female (Adam’s husband or Adam’s wife; cf. 39:6, 2:230).

Compare ‘Adam’ with the word ‘nafs’, which is used to denote the one single source of humanity and which, though grammatically feminine, also includes both genders (cf. ‘zawjaha’, ‘HER mate’, in “and from HER He created HER mate …”.  4:1; cf. 7:189, 39:6).

In brief, because Adam means ‘a human’, of either sex, Adam’s mate refers to human’s either male or female partner (Adam’s husband or Adam’s wife).

This explains why the Biblical name Eve is consistently absent in the Quran and why Adam’s mate is never named.

Remarkably, the story of Adam in the Quran makes no gender discrimination.

 

Related reading: Adam is not a name of a person

What is the original material that man has evolved from?

What is the original material that man has evolved from

 
Question:

God in the Quran appears a bit muddled. Can he make his mind and decide what is the original material that man is developed from: dust (30:20), water (25:54), sounding clay from black mud (15:26), or blood clot (alaq, 96:2)?

Answer:

The Quran clarifies and often elaborates an issue through its interactive explanatory process (6:65, 6:105, 17:89, 18:54), where verses in one place explain, supplement, clarify or throw more light on verses in other places, and vice versa (17:89, 25:33, 39:23, 75:19, 6:114). So, for a better understanding, it is essential that we read the verses as parts of an integrated whole rather than as detached.

Take the various statements in the Quran describing various physical materials for man’s creation as an example.

Thus, according to the Quran, human is created from ‘nothing’ (19:67), from water (25:54), from primordial water (21:30, 2:164, 24:45, 31:10), from sea water (11:7, 25:53-54), from dust (18:37, 30:20, 35:11, 40:67), from clay (6:2, 17:61, 22:5, 32:7, 37:11, 55:14), from quintessence of clay (23:12), from sticky clay (37:11), from potter’s clay (55:14), from potter’s clay of ‘black mud transmuted’ (15:26, 15:28, 15:33), from Earth as a ‘growth/ growing plant’ evolving through stages (71:17, 71:14), from a single self (39:6), from a single self split into opposites (4:1), from male and female (49:13), from a tiny drop (53:46), from a drop intermingled (76:2), from quintessence of a fluid despised (32:8), from gametes (18:37, 40:67), from a blood-sucking leech (‘alaq’; clinger, leech, aquatic worm, hanging embryo, affection etc; 96:2), from nutrients of blood ejected from mother’s heart (‘a gushing fluid, emerging from between the backbone and the ribs’; 86:6-7), from ‘chewed-like lump, formed and unformed’ (22:5) and so on.

All these statements are scientifically accurate, not only individually but also collectively. The more they are assembled together, the more they portray a wider picture. A deeper analysis of these verses and their interrelations, further expounded with relevant scientific information, enlightens the reader with dynamic messages in line with growing knowledge of evolving generations.

For instance, look into the statement “And indeed We created man out of potter’s/sounding clay of black mud transmuted. 15:26” (cf. 15:28, 15:33). Now, this makes a good sense if interpreted in light of modern evolutionary biochemistry. That is how we can appreciate that ‘black mud’ (‘hama’) here actually means carbon and that the term ‘transmuted’ (‘masnoon’, also meaning altered, moulded or aged, which shares same root with ‘sunnah’, ‘to follow a path’) alludes to the change over lengthy time span of millions of years when ‘hydrocarbons’ were gradually organised into higher organic molecules – like amino acids (protein), nucleic acids (RNA and DNA) and so on – necessary for origin and evolution of life. All these molecules are ‘sounding’, i.e. tale-telling, as they encompass in themselves history of millions of years. Thus the Quran seems to have used the expression ‘black mud transmuted’ to depict the original matrix – carbon (‘black mud’)-based organic molecules like hydrocarbons and their derivatives – whereby started the evolution of human’s physical body.

Then, reflect on man’s creation from ‘alaq’, or a blood-sucking leech (22:5, 23:14, 40:67, 75:38, 96:2). While ‘alaq’ has been traditionally used to mean a clinger, leech, blood-sucker, worm, clot, hanging embryo, affection etc, it essentially means ‘something that clings or hangs or remains attached to something’ (4:129). In the Quranic context, the word mainly describes an initial stage of the development of the human embryo when it resembles and functions like a hanging leech, sticking to the womb and sucking blood from its host. Viewed in light of modern embryological knowledge, this is an appropriate description of the human embryo between days 7 and 24 of its development.

The dual shahada evolved in line with an increasing idolization of Muhammad

(Reason 24 of ‘24 serious reasons shahada should contain no name except God’s’)

The dual shahada evolved in line with an increasing idolization of Muhammad

 
Here is a list of Dated texts and coins mentioning Prophet Muhammad from the earlier Islamic decades:

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/History/Islam/Inscriptions/earlysaw.html

Abbasid coins  http://islamiccoins.ancients.info/

Below we will observe how a chronological review of these texts and numismatic materials exposes the gradual distortion of the original shahada of Unity into the present day shahadatan of Duality.

Note: Although there was constant remembrance of God’s name throughout the earliest ‘Dated’ Muslim texts, Muhammad’s name didn’t appear there until 66 AH/ 686 CE. In other words, Muhammad’s name appeared in a ‘Dated’ Muslim record for the first time NOT earlier than 54 years after his death, during the lifetime of the third and fourth generations of Muslims and at the beginning of the reign of 5th Umayyad Caliph ʿAbd al-Malik (65-86 AH/ 685–705 CE).

 

DATED MUSLIM COINS MENTIONING MUHAMMAD FROM THE EARLIER ISLAMIC DECADES

Starting from 66 AH, when Muhammad’s name first appeared on a dated Muslim text

Drachm Of ʿAbd al-Malik Ibn ʿAbd Allāh, Zubayrid Governor Of Bīshāpūr, 66 AH / 685-686 CE

Obverse margin: bism Allāh / Muḥammad rasūl / Allāh. “In the name of God, Muhammad is God’s messenger”. This is the earliest occurance of the name “Muhammad” in a dated Muslim text.

Eighteen Arab-Sassanian coins of the Zubayrid governor of Basra ʿUmar ibn ʿUbayd Allāh ibn Maʿmar, Fars, 67-70 AH / 687-89 CE

All have the legend lillāh al-ḥamd. “Unto God be praise”.

An Arab-Sassanian coin of the Kharijite rebel Qatarī ibn al-Fujāʾa, Bīshāpūr, 69 AH / 688-89 CE

A coin of Qatarī ibn al-Fujāʾa from 75 AH / 694-695 CE is shown here. It bears the typically Kharijite slogan lā ḥukm illā lillāh. “Judgement belongs to God alone”. Prefixed with bism Allāh. In the name of God. And written in Persian: “Servant of God, Ktri, commander of the faithful”.

Anonymous Arab-Sassanian Coin From Kirmān, 70 AH / 689 CE

Obverse field: Typical late Arab-Sassanian bust without the name of governor. Instead it is occupied by Middle Persian legend MHMT PGTAMI Y DAT. “Muhammad is the messenger of God“. Obverse margin: bism Allāh walī / al-Amr. “In the name of God, the Master / of affairs”.

An Arab-Sassanian coin of the Umayyad governer of Basra Khālid ibn ʿAbd Allāh, Bīshāpūr, 71 AH / 690-91 CE

The legend reads bism Allāh Muḥammad rasūl Allāh. “In the name of God, Muhammad is God’s messenger”.

Anonymous Arab-Sassanian Coinage Of Syrian Origin Under ʿAbd al-Malik, 72 AH / 691 CE

Obverse field: Written in Arabic to downwards to the right of the bust: Muḥammad rasūl Allāh. “Muhammad is God’s messenger”. Obverse margin: bism Allāh. “In the name of God“.

Note: Initially Muhammad’s name started appearing around 66 AH/ 686 CE, either to replace a governor’s name on the coin or as part of an isolated statement mentioning his messengership – like bism Allāh Muḥammad rasūl Allāh or simply Muḥammad rasūl Allāh – WITHOUT being conjoined with the declaration of God’s oneness.

The Arab-Byzantine “Three Standing Imperial Figures” Dīnār From The Time Of Umayyad Caliph ʿAbd al-Malik, 72-74 AH / 692-694 CE

Obverse field: This is the Umayyad imitation of the Byzantine prototype – both of them consist of three standing imperial figures on the obverse side.

Reverse field: Staff ending in globe in steps. Reverse margin: bism Allāh lā-ilaha il-Allāh waḥdahu Muḥammad rasūl Allāh. “In the name of God. There is no god but God alone. Muhammad is God’s messenger”. This full shahada is perhaps the earliest surviving physical record of it. The initial stage was the elimination of crosses present in the Byzantine prototype coins, but keeping everything else intact. In the subsequent stage, crosses as well as Byzantine formula were removed and instead Arabic formula, i.e., the shahada, was introduced. Please note that representation of human images was not prohibited in an earlier period.

Transitional Arab-Sassanian Coin Of Governor ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz Ibn ʿAbd Allāh Ibn Āmir, 72 AH / 691-92 CE

Reverse field: The legend in Middle Persian reads (written in five lines) – YZDT’ -I BR’ ‘LH ’HRN YZDT’ L‘YT’ MḤMT’ PTGMBI Y YZDT’ . “One God, but He, another god does not exist. Muhammad is God’s messenger”.

Note: First as a concept, then as a military slogan and finally as a well-devised politico-theological formula, the extended shahada – where mention of Muhammad’s messengership was conjoined with declaration of God’s oneness – appeared for the first time in 72 AH/692 CE, and it appeared only in the margin of a coin. So it was not any earlier than at least 60 years after Muhammad’s death that the extended shahada appeared in a ‘Dated’ Muslim text!

Aniconic Silver Coins (“Reformed Coinage”), Minted By The Umayyad Caliph ʿAbd al-Malik, From 77 AH / 696 CE

Obverse field: lā-ilaha il-Allāh waḥdahu la sharīkalah. “There is no god but God alone, He has no associate”. Obverse margin: bism Allāh ḍuriba hadhā al-dirham bi-r-rāmhurmuz fī sanat tisʿ wa sabʿīn. “In the name of God, this dirham was struck in Rāmhurmuz in the year 79″.

Reverse field: Allāhu aḥad Allāhu al-ṣamad lam yalid wa-lam yulad wa-lam yakun lahu kufūwan aḥad. “God the one, God the eternal, He did not beget and was not begotten. And there is none like unto Him”. Reverse margin: Muḥammad rasūl Allāh arsalahu bi-l-huda wa dīn al-ḥaqq liyudhhiru ʿala al-dini kullahi wa-law karih-al-mushrikūn. “Muhammad is God’s messenger whom He sent with guidance and the religion of truth that He might make it prevail over all religions even if the associators are averse”.

Arab-Sassanian Coin Of Al-Ḥajjāj Bin Yūsuf, 77 AH / 696-697 CE

Typical late Arab-Sassanian bust with the name “al-Ḥajjāj bin Yūsuf” written in Arabic on the right hand side of the bust. Obverse margin: bism Allāh / lā-ilaha il- / Allāh waḥdahu Muḥammad / rasūl Allāh. “In the name of God. There is no god but God alone. Muhammad is God’s messenger”.

This is a very unique coin. The shahadah is arranged in striking fashion radially in the obverse margin. As far as we are aware, no other coin from 1st century of hijra which shows this feature. The Arab-Sassanian and Arab-Byzantine coins which show either full or partial shahadah, show its arrangement running along the obverse margin.

Arab-Sassanian Fals From Veh-az-Āmid-Kavād (Arrajān), 83 AH / 702-703 CE

Obverse margin: Muḥammadun rasūlu’llāhi wa’lladhīna yatlūna maʿahu ashiddāʾu ʿalā’l-kuffāri ruḥamāʾu baynahum. Muhammad is God’s messenger, those who recite with him are severe with the unbelievers, compassionate among themselves.

Note: The extended shahada gradually evolved over a period of time encompassing several generations, in line with an ever-increasing glorification and deification of Muhammad. This was promoted by a particular religious-political sentiment during the Umayyad period of Arab expansion, when Muslims were insisting on making their messenger greater than all other messengers, partly as a reaction and a propaganda effort against their Christian-Byzantine challengers. This is clearly evidenced by Islamic inscriptions on The Dome of the Rock (72 AH / 692 CE) as well as inscriptions (including uncontextualized or distorted Quranic messages) on the coins of that period.

Aniconic Gold Coins (“Reformed Coinage”), From The ‘Mine Of The Commander Of The Faithful’, 89 AH / 708 CE

Obverse field: lā-ilaha illa-Allāh waḥdahu la sharīkalah. “There is no god but God alone, He has no associate”. maʿdin amīr al-muʾminīn. “Mine of the Commander of the Faithful’. Obverse margin: Muḥammad rasūl Allāh arsalahu bi-l-huda wa dīn al-ḥaqq liyudhhiru ʿala al-dini kullahi. “Muhammad is the messenger of God whom He sent with guidance and the religion of truth that He might make it prevail over all religions”.

Reverse field: Allāhu aḥad Allāhu al-ṣamad lam yalid wa-lam yulad. “God the one, God the eternal, He did not beget and was not begotten”. Reverse margin: bism Allāh ḍuriba hadhā al-dīnār fī sanat tisaʿ wa thamānūn. “In the name of God, this dīnār was struck in the year 89″.

This unique historic coin is of the highest rarity and the earliest known dīnār to bear the legend ‘Mine of the Commander of the Faithful’. The reverse margin bears the same legend as what is seen on the aniconic silver and gold coins issued by Umayyad caliph ʿAbd al-Malik.

An Umayyad post reform Silver coin, from 93 AH / 712 CE

Obverse centre: Laa ilaaha illallaah wahdahuu laa shareeka lahu. There is no diety except | (the one) God alone | He has no partner to Him. Obverse margin: In the name of God. This Dirham was struck in Wasit in the year three and ninety.

Reverse centre: Allahu ahadun Allahu alssamadu Lam yalid walam yooladu Walam yakun lahu kufuwan ahadun. God is One God | The eternal and indivisible, who has not begotten, and | has not been begotten and never is there | His equal. Reverse margin: Muhammad is God’s messenger. He sent him with guidance and the true religion to reveal it to all religions even if the polytheists abhor it.

The Umayyad post reform Silver Dirhams had mostly consistent field inscriptions on the Obverse and the Reverse as well as the reverse margin.

An Umayyad Silver coin, from 120 AH / 738 CE, during the reign of Hisham

Obverse centre: “There is no God except |God Alone |He has no partner to Him”; Obverse margin: “In the name of God, this dirhem was minted in Wasit in the year 120”

Reverse centre: “God is One God |The everlasting Refuge, who has not begotten, and | has not been begotten and never is there | His equal” (Sura 112). This is the Umaidyid symbol; Reverse margin: “Muhammad is God’s messenger whom He sent with guidance and the religion of truth, that He may make it prevail over all other religions, even though the associators may dislike it.” (“Second Symbol”).

Note: “Muhammad is God’s messenger … the associators may dislike it” is a common text and an imperialistic mantra of the Umayyads, seen inscribed on the Arab coins since the reign of ʿAbd al-Malik. We have specially studied it to understand how politics played a major role in the distortion of shahada: Distortion of shahada through the political slogan of the Umayyads

An Abbasid Silver coin, from 133 AH / 751 CE, during the reign of Saffah

Obverse centre: “There is no God except |God Alone |He has no partner to Him” (Kalima); Obverse margin: “In the name of God, this dirhem was minted in El-Kufat in the year 133″

Reverse centre: “Muhammad is God’s messenger”; Reverse margin: “Muhammad is God’s messenger. He sent him with guidance and the true religion to prevail over all other religions even if the polytheists abhor it.” (“Second Symbol”). Sura 112 (sura ikhlas) removed from the coin and Muhammad’s name moved to the centre in its place, as a counterpart of God’s name.

An Abbasid Gold coin, from 147 AH / 764 CE, during the reign of al-Mansur. See: Abbasid coins

Obverse centre: “There is no God except |God Alone |He has no partner to Him” (Kalima); Obverse margin: “Muhammad is God’s messenger. He sent him with guidance and the true religion to prevail over all other religions even if the polytheists abhor it.” (“Second Symbol”).

Reverse centre: “Muhammad is God’s messenger”; Reverse margin: “In the name of God, this dinar was struck in the year 147

Note: The coins from the later decades of the 1st Islamic century that contain reference to Muhammad – which either mentions his name or declares his messengership – show this reference running as a sidenote only along the MARGIN, and not in the CENTRE, which was reserved to state God’s uniqueness and greatness (SHAHADA and SURA 112). It was only in a much later period, during the reign of Abbasid dynasty (started 132 AH/ 750 CE), when sura 112 (sura ikhlas) was removed from the coin and Muhammad’s name was moved to the centre in its place, as a counterpart of God’s name!!!

Arab coins ending up in Sweden during the trade between Arabs and Vikings

These are Arab coins of the Viking Age (8th-11th Century), which the Scandinavians apparently used as trading silver. None contains Muhammad’s name next to God.

Conclusion

Dated Muslim texts and numismatic materials from the earlier Islamic decades reveal how the dual shahada went through a devolution: first as a concept, then as a military slogan and finally as a well-devised politico-theological formula. And how Muhammad’s name was slowly permeated next to God’s name over the decades in line with an ever-increasing idolization of the messenger. And also, how this occurred partly as a Muslim response to their non-Muslim challengers during the period of Arab expansion.

Summary

The dual shahada evolved in line with an increasing idolization of Muhammad  

A chronological study of the Dated Muslim texts and numismatic materials from the earlier Islamic decades exposes the gradual transmutation of the original shahada of Unity into the present day shahadatan of Duality. Here are some of the findings from our observation:

Although there has been constant remembrance of God’s name throughout the earliest ‘Dated’ Muslim texts, Muhammad’s name didn’t appear there until 66 AH/ 686 CE. In other words, Muhammad’s name appeared in a ‘Dated’ Muslim record for the first time NOT earlier than 54 years after his death, during the lifetime of the third and fourth generations of Muslims and at the beginning of the reign of 5th Umayyad Caliph ʿAbd al-Malik (65-86 AH/ 685–705 CE).

Initially Muhammad’s name started appearing around 66 AH/ 686 CE, either to replace a governor’s name on the coin or as part of an isolated statement mentioning his messengership – like bism Allāh Muḥammad rasūl Allāh or simply Muḥammad rasūl Allāh – WITHOUT being conjoined with the declaration of God’s oneness.

First as a concept, then as a military slogan and finally as a well-devised politico-theological formula, the extended shahada – where mention of Muhammad’s messengership was conjoined with declaration of God’s oneness – appeared for the first time in 72 AH/692 CE, and it appeared only in the margin of a coin. So it was not any earlier than at least 60 years after Muhammad’s death that the extended shahada appeared in a ‘Dated’ Muslim text!

The extended shahada gradually evolved over a period of time encompassing several generations, in line with an ever-increasing glorification and idolization of Muhammad. This was promoted by a particular religious-political sentiment during the Umayyad period of Arab expansion, when Muslims were insisting on making their messenger greater than all other messengers, partly as a reaction and a propaganda effort against their Christian-Byzantine challengers. This is clearly evidenced by Islamic inscriptions on The Dome of the Rock (72 AH / 692 CE) as well as inscriptions (including uncontextualized or distorted Quranic messages) on the coins of that period.

The coins from the later decades of the 1st Islamic century that contain reference to Muhammad – which either mentions his name or declares his messengership – show this reference running as a sidenote only along the MARGIN, and not in the CENTRE, which was reserved to state God’s uniqueness and greatness (SHAHADA and SURA 112). It was only in a much later period, during the reign of Abbasid dynasty (started 132 AH/ 750 CE), when sura 112 (sura ikhlas) was removed from the coin and Muhammad’s name was moved to the centre in its place, as a counterpart of God’s name!!!

 

Further reading:

Earliest ‘dated Muslim texts’ constantly remember God but never Muhammad

Distortion of shahada through the political slogan of the Umayyads

What a doctor can learn from the Quran

What a doctor can learn from the Quran

 

Question:

You’re a doctor, right? What did you learn from the Quran when it comes to medical practices or research? I think that would make a great sermon to a congregation of pre-med students, if some of them shadow you in your clinic.

Answer:

First, the Quran is not a textbook of Medicine. So we are not really looking for medical information in its pages. Well, often through snappy allusions, the Quran quite fascinatingly conforms with – or, as some will say, “foreshadows or points to” – many aspects of our current knowledge about the universe (inc. biological and medical knowledge) that have been discovered only very recently by modern science. Yet, most of these ‘scientific’ messages are veiled, to various extents, while sketchily dwelling only in the deeper layers (56:77-79). But they are there. Otherwise restricted by their vagueness, impregnated with a clear metaphysical intent, they do not help per se to discover any new scientific knowledge, but, reversely, new scientific knowledge often helps to spot and elucidate them. This is to my mind one of the many idiosyncrasies of the Quran that convincingly indicate its uniqueness and its divine origin.

Having said that, however, when it comes to medical practices and research, to me what really counts is not the information contained in the verses about natural phenomena (inc. biological and medical knowledge), but the worldview, ethics, methodology and epistemology that we learn from the Quran.

Here are some of the principles and inspirations in this regard that I find truly important:

The central message of the Quran, the message of the Oneness (tawhid), is based on the concepts of the oneness of humans, the oneness of life, the oneness of the universe, and, above all, the oneness of the Divine. This awareness of the Oneness, which demands from us seeking knowledge and doing justice (6:115; cf. 3:18, 4:135, 5:8), makes the core of my worldview and, thereby, also the basis of my understanding of medical ethics.

The Quran – with its constant calls to acquire knowledge through deep observation and reflection upon the world (10:101), and its calls to continuously question, analyse and verify (17:36), together with its emphasis on inductive reasoning (39:18) – robustly promotes scientific observation, experimental knowledge and rationality. Reputedly first developed by the Quran-inspired Muslim scientists, these primary tools are the foundations of the modern scientific method which I find important for progress in scientific (and so medical) knowledge and research.

The Quran exhorts us to explore the treasures of nature and utilize all things in it for the benefit of man.

The Quran views nature as a compilation of messages pointing to the Divine, where everything is an integral part of the whole that interconnects God, humanity and the world through infinite links. This Quranic perspective, which provides me with a meaning and purpose, gives my quest for scientific (inc. medical) knowledge a heavenly touch.

The Quran insistently regards every single human life as a sacred, divine gift (42:49-50) that needs to be protected and saved from all adversities including diseases (5:32, 17:33). This strong emphasis on the sanctity of life (6:151) guides my sense of morality when I am engaged in clinical practice, and adds to it an extra dimension.

The Quran describes ‘the ascent’ or way of progress as ‘freeing a neck’, i.e. emancipating oneself and others from all sorts of bondage: physical, mental and moral (2:177, 90:10-13). For me, treating a patient is freeing a neck from the bondage of pathology.

As Islam in the Quran is a total system governing all aspects of life, all interrelated within a whole, Islamic medical ethics views the patient holistically. This constitutes the basis for an integrated approach to health care that treats the ‘whole’ person, not simply symptoms and disease.

The medical ethics incorporated in the Quran comprises too many important domains relevant to our time and extends as far as to the issues like a positive neuroethical understanding of mental health (4:5), elderly care (17:23-24, 31:14, 46:15), disability care (24:61, 48:17, 80:1-2), sexuality and sexual health (3:6, 30:21,17:32, 2:187, 2:222-223, 4:19, 42:49-50), abortion (31:14, 46:15, 23:14, 6:151), breastfeeding (2:233, 31:14, 46:15), diet and nutrition (2:168, 2:172, 7:31, 16:67, 20:81), drug abuse (5:90, 2:195, 20:81), organ donation (5:32), euthanasia and suicide (17:33, 4:29, 6:151, 31:17), animal rights (6:38,16:7), vivisection (16:5-8), environmental pollution (30:41-43, 2:195), ecological balance (15:19) and so on.

 

By Siraj Islam (based on a discussion with Dongyi Lu)

The Quran condemns those who mention ‘others’ with God

(A serious reason shahada should contain no name except God’s’)

The Quran condemns those who mention ‘others_ with God

 
The Quranic CRITERION distinguishes true Muslims from those who mention ‘OTHERS’ with God

The following verse presents as a criterion for distinguishing true Muslims from idolaters as it identifies the mentioning of ‘OTHERS’ alongside God as a sign of idolatry:

When God Alone is mentioned, the minds of those who do not acknowledge the End (Whole/ Ultimate) are filled with aversion; and when OTHERS are mentioned besides Him, they rejoice! 39:45

This describes how the pure monotheists who have a holistic mindset differ from the polytheists who are unable to consider the Whole as One (cf. ‘who do not acknowledge the End (Whole/ Ultimate)’). The latter, due to the polytheistic splitting of their minds towards scattered idols with fragmented authorities, fail to proclaim God’s oneness as such without conjoining it with their demigods, the ‘OTHERS’ (2:165, 9:31, 12:106, 16:51-52, 17:22, 17:39, 39:36, 39:45, 40:12).

This Quranic criterion instantly exposes those Muhammadans who, by mentioning Muhammad with God in their extended testimony, somehow perceive God + Muhammad as two reciprocal halves of a divine pair and thus violate the holistic awareness about God. Expectedly, they feel discontent when God alone is mentioned in the original testimony, as they find it inadequate. But when their venerated idol appears besides God in their own add-on, they rejoice at it (‘and when OTHERS are mentioned beside Him, they rejoice’).

This conjoining of the messenger’s name with God’s turns him into a divine associate and makes Hadith a second authority next to the Quran. This in turn downgrades the Quran into an incomplete book unless it is annexed with hadith hearsays.

We do not need ‘OTHERS besides God’

Please observe how the context of the above Quranic criterion clarifies the expression ‘OTHERS besides God’:

Is God not sufficient for His servant? They frighten you with OTHERS besides Him. …

Or have they taken intercessors besides God? Say: What if they do not possess any power, nor understanding?

Say: To God belong all intercessions. To Him belongs the sovereignty of the Heavens and the Earth, then to Him you are returned.

When God Alone is mentioned, the minds of those who do not acknowledge the End (Whole/ Ultimate) are filled with aversion; and when OTHERS are mentioned besides Him, they rejoice! 39:36, 43-45

This issue of ‘OTHERS besides God’ is dealt with throughout the Quran. For example:

And from among the people are some who take OTHERS as equals to God, they love them as they should love God. 2:165

And God has said, “Do not take-up two gods, two. There is only One god, so it is Me, only Me, that you shall revere.”

And to Him is what is in the Heavens and the Earth, so to Him shall be the obedience. Would you then pay reverence to someone OTHER than God? 16:51-52

Do not set up with God any OTHER god; or you will find yourself disgraced, abandoned. 17:22

This is from what your Sustainer has inspired to you of the wisdom. And do not make with God any OTHER god, or you will be cast into inferno, blameworthy and rejected. 17:39

As noted elsewhere, the focal point of Islam, as the formulation ‘There is no god but God’ and its equivalents, is stated throughout the Quran most clearly and constantly, and NEVER in conjunction with another name. A good example in this regard is 47:19, which, though found in sura Muhammad, doesn’t make an exception: So know that there is no god but God, and ask forgiveness for thy faults. 47:19. Since the verse belongs to a chapter named after Muhammad, at least here we could expect his name attached with God’s! But, to the contrary, by depicting him as a fallible mortal instead of God’s earthly counterpart, it rather discredits the sectarian addition to shahada. Thus, the Quranic shahada (3:18, 3:81), even when appears in sura Muhammad, doesn’t mention Muhammad’s name!

Extended shahada involves shirk or association

To better understand how the dual testimony blatantly violates the spirit of the Quran and presents as a form of shirk, please notice all the related undertones of the word ‘shirk’:

Shiin-Ra-Kaf = to be a companion, be sharer/partner; shirkun – share, participation, polytheism, idolatry, making associate/partner with Allah; shariik (pl. shurakaa) – associate, partner, sharer; shaarak (vb. 3) – to share with; ashraka (vb. 4) – to make a sharer or associate, give companions (e.g. to God), be a polytheist or idolater; ashraktumuuni – you associated me as partner; mushrik – one who gives associate to God, polytheist; mushtarikun (vb. 8) – one who partakes or shares (Project Root List).

Evidently, by associating Muhammad’s name with God’s, Muhammadans have turned a mere human into a companion/sharer/partner/participant/associate with God. In fact, there are Muslim scholars who very openly proclaim that the extended shahada deliberately conjoins Muhammad’s name with God’s for the express purpose of making him a partner with God. For example, according to the renowned Muslim jurist and scholar Qadi Iyad, though we should not use the Arabic conjunction wa (“and”) when speaking of God and anyone or anything else since this ends up associating partners with God, we must make an exception in the case of ‘shahada’, the very testimony of faith that elevates Muhammad to divine status and parity with God:

Qatada said, “Allah exalted his fame in this world and the Next. There is no speaker, witness nor anyone doing the prayer who fails to say, ‘There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.’”

Abu Sa’id al-Khudri related that the Prophet said, “Jibril came to me and said, ‘My Lord and your Lord says, “Do you know how I have exalted your fame?”’ I said, ‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’ He said, ‘When I am mentioned you are mentioned with Me.’”

Ibn ‘Ata quoted a hadith qudsi saying, “I completed belief with your being mentioned with Me.” And another one which says, “I have made your mention part of My mention so whoever mentions Me, mentions you.”

Ja’far ibn Muhammad as-Sadiq, “No one mentions you as the Messenger but that he mentions Me as the Lord.”

… He coupled his name with His own name, and his pleasure with His pleasure. He made him one of the two pillars of tawhid.” (Qadi Iyad Ibn Musa al-Yahsubi, Kitab Ash-shifa bi ta’rif huquq al-Mustafa)

But not only did God pair His own name with Muhammad’s name forever, what is even more shocking is that these two conjoined names are also inscribed on the very gate of the paradise itself:

Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Written on the door of the Garden is: I am Allah. There is no god but Me. Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. I will not punish anyone who says that.” (Ibid., Chapter Three).

Muhammadans share the same idolatrous attitude with their pagan predecessors

Meccan polytheists, who also claimed themselves followers of Abraham the monotheist, worshipped mainly sanctified names of imaginary idols – Laat, Manat, Uzza etc – rather than concrete idols or graven images (53:19-23). Thus, like today’s Muhammadans, they also created more of an abstract idolization through holy names, intercession and absurd rules and rituals (53:23-28).

It is inconceivable that the prophet of monotheism would allow his followers to replace the names of these previous idols with his own name or names of OTHERS besides God (7:71, 12:40, 19:65, 37:35-36). Obviously, placing his name or the names of his relatives or companions next to God’s name was an innovation by earlier Muhammadans who shared a similar idolatrous attitude with those pre-Islamic pagans. No distortion of Islam can be more serious than idolizing the messenger against the core commandments of the Quran, a book that condemns any form of shirk or association with God as the only unforgivable sin in Islam (4:48 cf. 4:116, 39:65, 6:88). By following their predecessors, Muhammadans of later generations gradually fell into this hidden trap of shirk.

True Muslims with a holistic approach should find no difficulty in accepting the Quranic shahada with no name in it except God’s (3:18, 3:81). On the other hand, people with a fragmented mindset, who set up semi-divinities besides the Divine, will fail to testify God’s oneness without adding to it their own idols:

This is because when God Alone was mentioned, you rejected, but when associates were included besides Him, you acknowledged. 40:12 (cf. 12:106)

Summary

The Quran condemns those who mention ‘others’ with God

The following verse presents as a CRITERION for distinguishing true Muslims from idolaters as it identifies the mentioning of ‘others’ alongside God as a sign of idolatry: When God Alone is mentioned, the minds of those who do not acknowledge the End (Whole/ Ultimate) are filled with aversion; and when OTHERS are mentioned besides Him, they rejoice! 39:45

This is how the pure monotheists who have a holistic mindset differ from the polytheists who are unable to consider the Whole as One. The latter, due to the polytheistic splitting of their minds towards scattered idols with fragmented authorities, fail to proclaim God’s oneness as such without conjoining it with their demigods, the ‘OTHERS’ (2:165, 9:31, 12:106, 16:51-52, 17:22, 17:39, 39:36, 39:45, 40:12).

This Quranic criterion instantly exposes those Muhammadans who, by mentioning Muhammad with God in their extended testimony, somehow perceive God + Muhammad as two reciprocal halves of a divine pair and thus violate the holistic awareness about God. Expectedly, they feel discontent when God alone is mentioned in the original testimony, as they find it inadequate. But when their venerated idol appears besides God in their own add-on, they rejoice at it.

Evidently, by associating Muhammad’s name with God’s in shahada, Muhammadans have turned a mere human into a companion/sharer/partner/participant/associate with God. This blatantly goes against the spirit of the Quran and presents as a form of shirk or association with God, the only unforgivable sin in Islam (4:48 cf. 4:116, 39:65, 6:88).

Meccan polytheists, who also claimed themselves followers of Abraham the monotheist, worshipped mainly sanctified names of imaginary idols – Laat, Manat, Uzza etc – rather than concrete idols or graven images (53:19-23). Thus, like today’s Muhammadans, they also created more of an abstract idolization through holy names, intercession and absurd rules and rituals (53:23-28). It is inconceivable that the prophet of monotheism would allow his followers to replace the names of these previous idols with his own name or names of OTHERS besides God (7:71, 12:40, 19:65, 37:35-36). Obviously, placing his name or the names of his relatives or companions next to God’s name was an innovation by earlier Muhammadans who shared a similar idolatrous attitude with those pre-Islamic pagans. By following their predecessors, Muhammadans of later generations gradually fell into this hidden trap of shirk.

True Muslims with a holistic approach should find no difficulty in accepting the Quranic shahada with no name in it except God’s (3:18, 3:81). On the other hand, people with a fragmented mindset, who set up semi-divinities besides the Divine, will fail to testify God’s oneness without adding to it their own idols (40:12; cf. 12:106).