We are not allowed to make distinction between the messengers

(Reason 6 of22 serious reasons shahada should contain no name except God’s’)

We are not allowed to differentiate


Acknowledging all messengers as equal is one of the fundamentals of faith

The essence of Islam – submission to one God alone by turning-away from all that is false and then equity to all of His creation – constitutes the ‘one moral law’ (Deen; Daena; Dharma) for all mankind and is equally revealed to all messengers of all times and places (98:5).

That is why the Quran insistently instructs us to regard all messengers as equal and not to make any distinction or discrimination between any of them (2:136, 2:285, 3:84, 4:152, 21:92, 23:51-53, 33:40):

We make no difference between any of them: And unto Him alone we are submitters. 2:136

We make no distinction between them, and unto Him alone we are submitters. 3:84

And those who acknowledge God and His messengers and make no distinction between any of them, We will give them their rewards. 4:152

It is important to bear in mind that this acknowledging of all messengers as equal without discrimination is one of the fundamentals of Islamic faith or ‘iman’:

The messenger acknowledges in what was sent down to him from his Sustainer and so do those who have acknowledged: they all acknowledge God, His Forces, His Books and His messengers, “We make no difference between any of His messengers“; and they say: We hear and obey, forgive us, our Sustainer, and to You is our destiny. 2:285

Any special reverence for a particular messenger, which may result in neglect or indifference to any other or all other messengers, is potentially dangerous and divisive and, therefore, against the Unitarian concept (Tawhid) of Islam.

This is a most important reason why the correct shahada should contain only God’s name and no name of any specific messenger.

Extended shahada discriminates between the messengers

Traditional Muslims, however, completely ignore this simple but crucial instruction of the Quran as they uphold the extended shahada as the basis of their religion, which names just one chosen messenger while disregarding all other messengers.

They consider this biased declaration as an absolute requirement to be or become a Muslim and also to confess one’s faith in daily rituals like azan, wudu, iqamat and sala prayers.

Evidently, this popular misinterpretation of Islam discriminates against all other messengers of Islam as it demands one to testify, along with God, only about Muhammad but not about any other messenger like Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, David, Moses, Jesus and so on!

So it violates a fundamental teaching of the Quran as re-emphasized here: When death approached Jacob and he told his sons: What shall you serve after me?, they said: Your god, and the god of your fathers Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac; One God and to Him we are submitters. 2:133

Here Jacob’s sons preferred no specific messenger’s name in shahada. The reason is clarified elsewhere by one of Jacob’s sons, Joseph: And I follow the creed of my forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is inconceivable that we should set up any associate with God at all./ O my prison mates, are several masters better, or the One God, the Supreme?/ What you worship besides Him are but names which you have nominated – you and your forefathers – for which no authority God sent down. 12:38-40.

Hadiths got confused!

Although not found in the Quran, this tradition to name just one chosen messenger in shahada, and thereby to disregard all other messengers, is claimed to be based on several ‘sahih’ hadiths.

Ironically, however, these so-called ‘sahih’ hadiths, themselves seriously muddled up while contradicting one another, get further confused by some other ‘sahih’ hadiths that insist that Muhammad is less in rank than Moses and not even better than Jonah. See: Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 620; Bukhari, 65/4, 5; Hanbal, 1/205, 242, 440.

The confusion gets even worse when they are faced by some other ‘sahih’ hadiths, which emphasize, for example, that testifying the messengership of Jesus also is an essential part of one’s testimony of faith! See: Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 644; Muslim, Book 1, Number 0043. Not surprisingly, as Karen Armstrong observed, in the first centuries of Islam there even were certain Sufi Muslims whose shahada didn’t mention Muhammad, but Jesus!

All these hadiths not only contradict the Quran but also contradict one another.

A true muslim cannot favour one messenger over another

Let us read this passage carefully:

Say: We acknowledge God, and that which is revealed unto us, and to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Patriarchs, and that which was given to Moses and Jesus, and that which was given to all the other prophets from their Sustainer. We make no difference between any of them: And unto Him alone we are submitters. …

Say: Do you debate with us regarding God? He is our Sustainer and your Sustainer, and we have our work and you have your work, and to Him we are devoted. 2:136, 139

Here ‘all the other prophets’ clearly refers to all the prophets of humanity (‘the prophets … from the descendants of Adam 19:58’). This comprises prophets from all times and all nations and may potentially include – apart from Semitic prophets – also non-Semitic figures like Krishna, Veda Vyasa, Buddha, Mahavira, Akhenaten, Confucius, Lao-Tzu, Zoroaster, Mani, Quetzalcoatl, Aesop, Pythagoras, Socrates and so on …

This is because ‘There never was any nation without a Warner having lived among them. 35:24’. And because ‘We have sent a messenger to every nation: You shall serve God and avoid false deities. 16:36’.

Also because there were many messengers who, though not mentioned with names, are equally recognised and esteemed by the Quran: We have sent messengers prior to you. Some of them We mentioned to you, and some We did not mention to you. 40:78 (also 4:164; cf. 2:136, 2:285, 4:152, 13:7, 13:38, 14:4).

Now, all these messengers delivered the same message, of which they were only carriers. Though packages may have varied depending on varying times and places, they all belonged to the same sender, and their deliverers are all equal in status.

Since all these messengers of mankind of all times and places, whether known or unknown, thus belong to a single kinfolk as one and the same, it is important that real followers of the Quran do not favour one messenger over another (2:285, 4:152, 21:92, 23:51-53):

Say: We acknowledge God and what was sent down to us and what was sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, the Patriarchs, and what was given to Moses, Jesus and all the prophets from their Sustainer: We make no distinction between them, and unto Him alone we are submitters. 3:84

O messengers, enjoy of the good things and do right; surely I know what you do.

And certainly, this community of yours is one community and I am your Sustainer. So, remain conscious of Me.

But they split in their affair between them into sects, each rejoicing in what is with them.

So leave them in their ignorance until a time. 23:51-54

Please note how the passage above warns that such a favour to any particular or preferred messenger only creates supremacy complex, religious intolerance and sectarian division.

Some messengers in some respects may be more gifted than others

It is expected that some messengers would excel others in one respect or other, e.g. in certain qualities and skills, so that they can suit their specific times and places: We did bestow on some prophets more gifts than on others: for example, We gave to David (the gift of) the Psalms. 17:55. Note: Here, after confirming that some messengers surpass others in some respects, the Quran names David, not Muhammad. Likewise, in 2:253, after confirming that some messengers excel others in ranks, the Quran mentions Jesus, not Muhammad.

However, these natural variations among the messengers should not confuse us to make any case for discrimination (2:136, 2:285, 4:152, 33:40). As envoys of divine message they all must be always accepted as equal, and should not be put in the unfair competition that eventually produces unnecessary judgment, fancy lies and idols.

In other words, in the divine school of education – where all teachers are appointed by God Himself – all teachers should be respected by its pupils as equal, and any ranking should be left only with God, though it may be well expected that some teachers from some classes could outperform others in some specifics.

We are not allowed to favour Muhammad over other messengers

The Quran persistently describes Islam as ‘the creed of Abraham’ (‘Millat Ibraheem’1; 2:120, 2:130, 2:135, 3:95, 4:125, 6:161, 12:37, 12:38, 16:123, 22:78) rather than ‘the creed of Muhammad’.

As a follower of the creed of Abraham (6:159-164, 4:125, 22:78), Muhammad was neither a pioneer in religion nor he was superior to any of the messengers:

Say: I am no innovator among the messengers, nor know I what will be done with me or with you. I do but follow what is inspired to me, and I am but a plain warner. 46:9

Muhammad is only a messenger, like many messengers that have passed before him. If he dies or is slain, will you turn back on your heels? 3:144

Say: I am only a warner; and there is no god besides God, the One, the Supreme. 38:65

As the Quran thus NEVER designates Muhammad in superlative terms and NEVER puts him in comparison or competition with others (2:136, 2:285, 3:84, 3:144, 4:152, 46:9), it NOWHERE ever describes him as the best prophet or the best human on Earth.

On the contrary, while constantly emphasizing that humans do not need to bear witness about the messengers, since ‘God is enough as witness’ to them (4:79, 4:166, 6:19, 10:28-29, 13:43, 17:94-96, 29:52, 41:47-48, 41:53, 46:8, 48:28-29, 63:1), the Quran rather prohibits sanctification of Muhammad by his followers:

Say: I am no more than a human being like you, being inspired that your god is One god. So whoever hopes to meet his Sustainer, let him do righteous work and associate none (not even me) in the service of his Sustainer! 18:110

Please note above how a stress on Muhammad’s humanness is immediately contrasted by the insistence on God’s absolute oneness, to be associated with none (not even with Muhammad), thus referring to the Quranic shahada as the sole basis of all service to God.

Now, Muhammad was indeed a messenger, but so were Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, David, Moses, Jesus and so on, as well as all true visionaries of all times and all nations (2:136, 2:285, 13:7, 13:38) …

If we add Muhammad’s name to our testimony of faith, then, for the sake of fairness and equity, we should also definitely add alongside it the names of all other messengers. This will make an impossibly long statement, part of which may read something like this:

‘There is no god but God, and Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, David, Moses, Jesus …………………………………… and so on, and Muhammad, all are His messengers’.

Some sectarian apologetics argue that Muhammad’s name in the ‘full shahada’ effectively covers all his previous messengers. But this claim is dishonest and makes little sense. Do we really remember or care about any of those poor messengers, other than Muhammad, when we recite the so-called ‘full shahada’?

Evidently, when we do this special ‘favour’ for Muhammad by distinctly attaching him with God, we do detach him from all other messengers and thereby subconsciously ignore them all. We disregard them, though they all equally brought the same message of serving one God alone.

Extension of shahada violates the unitarian principle of Islam

It appears that Muhammad-worshippers of earlier Islamic centuries somehow projected their own delusion of grandeur and religious chauvinism as they insisted on making their messenger greater than all other messengers (3:19)!

They experienced this vicious trend increasingly intensified from the Umayyad period of Arab expansion, partly as a response and a reaction towards their Christian-Byzantine counterpart.

This, in conjunction with various religious-psychological, socio-economic and political factors, contributed to the origin and development of the ‘extended shahada’.

By adding Muhammad’s name next to God’s name in the original shahada, the first commandment of eternal monotheism, while singling him out from all other messengers – and thereby making them all inferior to him in an unfair competition between messengers – Muhammad- worshippers of earlier generations, like many other religious groups including the Jews and the Christians, also violated the serious, repeated Quranic command not to discriminate between the messengers.

Consequently, through the ongoing psychological exercise of repeating the formulation, where Muhammad essentially appears as an associate with God, they constantly commemorated him as a sanctified superman and a mate of a heavenly pair.

Then, by inventing countless legends, rumours and anecdotes in compliment of Muhammad through thousands of fabricated hadiths – so to promote the anti-Quranic claim that Muhammad had a higher rank above all other messengers – they gradually elevated him to the level of a divine Lord.

Thus they desecrated another Quranic command not to erect humans as Lords: ‘that we erect not, from among ourselves, lords other than God. 3:64’; cf. 6:164; 18:101-110.

As a result, instead of upholding the same eternal message of serving one God alone, delivered equally by all messengers, traditional Islam has become a mishmash of worshipping both a humanized deity and a deified human.

Summary

We are not allowed to make distinction between the messengers

All messengers of mankind, whether known or unknown, delivered the same message of Islam to serve one God alone (4:164, 40:78; cf. 2:136, 2:285, 4:152, 13:7, 13:38; cf. 14:4, 19:58, 35:24, 16:36). Though some of them in some respects may have been more gifted than others (17:55, 2:253), they all essentially belong to a single kinfolk, as one and the same (3:84, 23:51-54).

Thus the Quran instructs us to regard all messengers of all times and places as equal and not to make any distinction between any of them (2:136, 2:285, 3:84, 4:152, 21:92, 23:51-53, 33:40).

Importantly, accepting all messengers as EQUAL WITHOUT MAKING ANY DISTINCTION is one of the fundamentals of ‘iman’ (2:285).

Any special reverence for one particular messenger naturally results in neglect or indifference to another or all other messengers. This puts the messengers in unfair competition that fosters supremacy complex and intolerance, and eventually produces unnecessary judgment, fancy lies and idols. This is potentially dangerous and divisive and, therefore, against the Unitarian concept of Islam.

And this is a most important reason why the correct shahada should contain only God’s name and no name of any specific messenger.

By upholding the extended shahada as the basis of their religion, which names only one chosen messenger while disregarding all others, traditional Muslims have completely ignored this simple but crucial instruction of the Quran (2:133, 12:38-40).

Not found in the Quran, this tradition to name just one chosen messenger in shahada, and thereby to brush aside all other messengers, is solely based on hadiths that not only contradict the Quran but also contradict one another.

While persistently emphasizing that humans do not need to bear witness about any of the messengers, since ‘God is enough as witness’ to them (4:79, 4:166, 6:19, 10:28-29, 13:43, 17:94-96, 29:52, 41:47-48, 41:53, 46:8, 48:28-29, 63:1), the Quran rather prohibits sanctification of Muhammad by his followers and prohibits associating him with God’s oneness (18:110).

Now, Muhammad was indeed a messenger, but so were Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, David, Moses, Jesus and so on, as well as all true visionaries of all times and nations (2:136, 2:285, 13:7, 13:38) …

If we add Muhammad’s name to our testimony of faith, then, for the sake of fairness and equity, we must also definitely add alongside it the names of all other messengers, making our statement impossibly long.

By adding Muhammad’s name next to God’s name in shahada, while singling him out from all other messengers, Muhammad-worshippers, like many other religious groups, also violated the Quranic command not to discriminate between the messengers. By converting thereby their cult leader into a sanctified superman and elevating him to the level of a divine Lord, they desecrated another Quranic command not to erect humans as Lords (3:64, 6:164, 18:101-110).

As a result, instead of upholding the same eternal message of serving one God alone, delivered equally by all messengers, traditional Islam has become a mishmash of worshipping both a humanized deity and a deified human.

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Note 1

Millat Ibraheem. The Quran insists that all our commitments of deen – including shahada (witnessing the divine unity), seeking knowledge, loving others, doing justice, establishing social order, contributing towards betterment, peace-making, scientific observation, reasoning, abstinence from excess, charity and so on – all should be dedicated to God alone, without association with any other authority (6:162, 18:110, 4:36). Then, in all these matters of deen, it is the Abraham of the Quran who epitomizes a founding father and a role model for all peace-seekers/muslims, since he devoted the whole system to God alone and never compromised his rationality with falsehood (2:131, 3:95, 6:79, 6:161-164). He simply lived a life, absent from the influence of any organised religion and full of enquiry and reflection on the world around. Prophet Muhammad himself, as he was neither an introducer of Islam, nor an innovator (46:9, 3:144, 38:65, 47:19), was asked to steadfastly follow this way of Abraham, i.e., Millat Ibraheem, which is just a specified, another name of islam (2:120, 2:130, 2:135, 3:95, 4:125, 6:161, 12:37, 12:38, 16:123, 22:78; cf. 14:33-38, 21:73).