God is enough as witness that Muhammad was God’s messenger

(Reason 7 of ‘22 serious reasons shahada should contain no name except God’s’)

god-is-enough-as-witness-that-muhammad-was-gods-messenger

 
The phrase Muhammad is God’s messenger (Muhammadur rasulullah) appears in the Quran only once, and that is also only immediately after a straight prohibition to add it to the shahada:

GOD IS ENOUGH AS WITNESS that/ Muhammad is God’s messenger (Muhammadur rasulullah). 48:28-29

wakafa biAllahi shaheedan/ Muhammadun rasoolu Allah

Please read the statement carefully. Below we will try to examine it within the Quranic context.

One cannot bear witness about a messenger of a past generation

Here is a verse that mentions some contemporaries of Muhammad, some Jews and Christians namely, to have had ‘witnessed’ the genuineness of his messengership:

How can God guide a people who have rejected after acknowledging, and they had witnessed that the messenger was true, and the clarity had come to them? 3:86 (cf. 3:70)

However, the Quran makes it clear that one cannot be a witness of something unless one is present to witness it (5:117) and that, therefore, one cannot ‘witness’ the messengership of messengers who belonged to past generations:

And you were not present on the western slope when We decreed the command to Moses, nor were you among those who witnessed. 28:44

Or, were you witnesses when death approached Jacob … ? 2:133

Bearing witness to something without really having it witnessed is hypocrisy

Evidently, though Muhammad’s messengership was witnessed by many people during his lifetime (3:86), it cannot be ‘witnessed’ by post-Muhammad generations including current Muslims (cf. ‘nor were you among those who witnessed. 28:44’) simply because they were not contemporary with him and so were not present during his lifetime events (cf. ‘you were not present … 28:44’).

And since, from a legal point of view, bearing witness to something without really having it witnessed is hypocrisy (cf. Why do you say what you do not do? 61:2) – the lip service of bearing witness about Muhammad is obliquely discouraged by the Quran as a sign of hypocrisy (63:1).

Humans are not to bear witness to ‘Muhammadur rasulullah’

On one hand, the Quran demands humans to bear witness toLa Ilaha Illa Allah’ (the original shahada):

God bears witness (shahada) that there is no god but He (‘la ilaha illa allah’), and so do the Forces and those of knowledge, upright with equity: there is no god but He, the Almighty, the Wise. 3:18

On the other hand, it asks humans NOT to bear witness to ‘Muhammadur rasulullah’ (second part of the extended shahada):

God bears witness concerning what He has revealed to you. He has revealed it with His knowledge. And the Forces bear witness as well, but GOD IS ENOUGH AS WITNESS. 4:166

Please read these two verses in comparison. The verse 3:18 insists that bearing witness to God’s oneness is ‘the true shahada of God, the Forces and those of knowledge’. In contrast, the verse 4:166 maintains that, though God and also the Forces bear witness to the truth of Muhammad’s messengership, it is God’s own witness that is enough in this regard.

Thus, while 3:18 includes humans as bearing witness to ‘La Ilaha Illa Allah’, 4:166 clearly excludes humans, since humans are NOT to bear witness to ‘Muhammadur rasulullah’.

We should not bear witness to the messengership of Muhammad, since God is enough as witness

According to the Quran, we do not need to bear witness about the messengership of Muhammad as ‘God is enough as witness’ between him and us.

See 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, e.g.:

And We have sent thee as a messenger to the people and GOD IS ENOUGH AS WITNESS

God bears witness concerning what He has revealed to you. He has revealed it with His knowledge. And the Forces bear witness as well, but GOD IS ENOUGH AS WITNESS. 4:79, 166

They said: Would God send a mortal man as His messenger? …

Say: GOD IS ENOUGH AS WITNESS between me and you. 17:94-96

Those who reject the truth say: You are not a messenger. Say: GOD IS ENOUGH AS WITNESS between me and you, and He is the One unto whom is the knowledge of the Book. 13:43

Or do they say: He fabricated this! Say: If I fabricated this, then you cannot protect me at all from God. He is fully aware of what you say. HE IS ENOUGH AS WITNESS between me and you. 46:8

Please observe how this important Quranic concept, i.e. God’s own testimony is enough to bear witness that Muhammad is His messenger, interconnects the two verses below:

He is the One who sent His messenger with the guidance and the system of truth, so that He would make it prevail over all other systems. GOD IS ENOUGH AS WITNESS:

Muhammad is God’s messenger. 48:28-29

Reasonably, the interconnected phrases here can be translated as: ‘GOD IS ENOUGH AS WITNESS that/ Muhammad is God’s messenger’.

Then please note how the issue of Muhammad’s messengership appears only immediately after a warning NOT TO REVERENCE anyone but God:

Those who deliver God’s messages, and reverence Him, and they do not reverence anyone but God. And GOD IS ENOUGH AS RECKONER.

Muhammad was not the father of any man among you, but he was the messenger of God and the seal of the prophets. God is fully aware of all things. 33:39-40

‘God is ENOUGH as reckoner’ in 33:39-40 (cf. ‘God is swift in reckoning’ in shahada verses 3:18-19) makes an obvious link with 48:28-29 and all other verses that insist that ‘God is ENOUGH as witness’ to the messengership of all messengers including Muhammad.

We should not bear witness about any of the messengers

The Quran instructs us to regard all messengers 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).

Thus, if we add Muhammad’s name to our testimony of faith, then, for the sake of fairness and equity, we should also 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’.

Then how does the Quran resolve this issue?

The Quran suggests that we should NOT bear witness not only about Muhammad but also about other messengers. See: 10:28-29, 35-36; 41:47-48, 53.

Bearing witness about the messengers in association with bearing witness about God is idolatry

There are many serious reasons why in shahada we should NOT bear witness about Muhammad or any other messenger at all. One serious reason is that this involves ‘idolisation of messengers’ (3:79-80, 16:20-21, 35:14; cf. 46:5-6, 19:65, 39:45, 40:12).

This is because bearing witness about a creature, in association with bearing witness about the Creator, exalts the creature – somehow and to some extent – to the rank of the Creator and, therefore, presents as a case of ‘association’ or ‘shirk’ (19:65), the only unforgivable sin in Islam (4:48; cf. 4:116, 39:65, 6:88).

Thus, by bearing witness about messengers in association with bearing witness about God, we risk all the dangers of idolizing them as God’s associates:

On the day We gather them all … and their associates (idolized messengers e.g. Muhammad; 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, 46:5-6) say: “It was not us that you worshipped.

GOD IS ENOUGH AS WITNESS between us and you, we were unaware of your worshipping of us.”…

Say: Is there any of your associates who can guide to the truth? Say: God guides to the truth. Is He who guides to the truth more worthy to be followed or the one who guides not unless he himself is guided? What is wrong with you, how do you judge?

And most of them follow nothing but conjecture. Surely conjecture does not substitute anything of the Truth. 10:28-29, 35-36

And on the Day He asks them: ‘Where are My associates (idolized messengers e.g. Muhammad; 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, 46:5-6)?’ They will say: We confess unto Thee that none of us can bear witness (about any associate)!

And they were abandoned by that which they used to call on before. …

In time We shall show them Our messages in the utmost horizons and within themselves, until it becomes clear to them that this is the truth. Is it not ENOUGH THAT YOUR SUSTAINER IS WITNESS over all things? 41:47-48, 53

As humans are prone to sanctify the messengers by testifying them along with God (10:28-36, 41:47-53), the Quran insistently discourages this idolatrous trend by asking not to bear witness about the messengers: ‘GOD IS ENOUGH AS WITNESS between them and us.

Bearing witness about Muhammad in association with bearing witness about God is idolatry

The above verses generally deal with idolized messengers. Please note that they have deep similarity with the verse below, which specifically projects the possible idolization of Muhammad by his devotees and future Muhammadans.

While proclaiming that the testimony of God is the greatest testimony (akbar shahada) about the divineness of the Quran, which, therefore, needs no extra testimony from anyone else, this verse highlights the danger that any extra testimony about Muhammad in line with the testimony about God’s oneness will idolize him as a subsidiary god along with God, and so will present as a case of ‘shirk’ (6:19, 10:28-29; cf. 3:18).

Please note how it asks people not to sanctify Muhammad as an associate with God, while asking them ‘not to bear witness about idols along with God:

Say: What is GREATEST AS WITNESS? Say: GOD: a witness between me and between you, and this Quran has been revealed to me that I may warn you thereby and whomever it reaches. Do you then bear witness that along with God there are other gods? Say: I do not bear witness! Say: He is only One god, and I am innocent of what you associate (e.g., the idol you make of me by associating me with God in shahada)! 6:19

Now please compare the above verse with the following:

Say: I am but a human like you, being inspired that your god is one god. So whoever hopes to meet his Sustainer, let him do righteous work and never associate anyone (not even me) in the service of his Sustainer! 18:110

Say: I am no more than a human being like you. It is inspired to me that your god is One god, therefore you shall be upright towards Him and seek His forgiveness. And woe to those who associate (others, even me, with God). 41:6

Now observe how the ‘prohibition of bearing witness about idols’ in 6:19 above connects it with another verse of the same chapter, which asks ‘not to bear witness to the fallacy that these idols are co-authorities with God in divine legislation’:

Say: “Bring your witnesses who bear witness that (through His associate/s, 6:19) God has forbidden this (cf. 16:35).” If they bear witness, then do not bear witness with them, nor follow the desires of those who have given the lie to Our messages, and those who do not acknowledge the End; and they set up equals with their Sustainer! 6:150

Then this instruction is in tune with several other verses of the same chapter, e.g.:

Follow what has been revealed unto you from your Sustainer: there is no god but He; and turn away from those who set up associates. 6:106

The sender’s signature in the message is enough to testify the genuineness of the messenger

When we receive a letter from a friend, our friend’s handwriting in it is a sufficient proof about the credibility of the mailman who brought the letter to us. The truth inside the message itself authenticates the truthfulness of its messenger!

Obviously, we do not need to bear extra witness to the veracity of the message-bearer as it is evident from the veracity of the message s/he delivered. Here, any bearing of extra witness is not only unnecessary but also inappropriate as there is a risk that by unduly focusing on the mailman we may actually make him more relevant than the mail itself, and thereby belittle its Sender. And this becomes idolatry when the Sender is God!

That ‘God is enough as witness to the truth of all messengers’ also implies that ONE GOD, the central concept of eternal monotheism, is sufficient in itself to cover also the truthfulness of the missions of all monotheist messengers including Muhammad.

Then this same timeless message to serve God alone – which was so sincerely, clearly and consistently delivered by Muhammad – is the divine signature itself, embedded throughout the Quran, which sufficiently proves that Muhammad was indeed a true messenger of God. False messengers cannot preach the worship of one God alone (26:210-213):

Those who reject the truth say: You are not a messenger. Say: GOD IS ENOUGH AS WITNESS between me and you, and He is the One unto whom is the knowledge of the Book. 13:43

Or do they say: He fabricated this! Say: If I fabricated this, then you cannot protect me at all from God. He is fully aware of what you say. HE IS ENOUGH AS WITNESS between me and you. 46:8

In other words, the testimony to God’s oneness, ‘La Ilaha Illa Allah’, is sufficient in itself to cover also ‘Muhammadur rasulullah’ (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).

And this must be what the messenger himself said to his people

Then, this must be what the messenger himself said to his people: that the validity of his claim as a messenger doesn’t require or demand any extra ‘shahada’ from them, since God’s own testimony is enough in this regard (note the instruction ‘Say:’):

Say: GOD IS ENOUGH AS WITNESS between me and you. He knows what is in the Heavens and the Earth. As for those who acknowledge falsehood and reject God, they are the losers. 29:52

Say: What is GREATEST AS WITNESS? Say: GOD: a witness between me and between you, and this Quran has been revealed to me that I may warn you thereby and whomever it reaches. Do you then bear witness that along with God there are other gods? Say: I do not bear witness! Say: He is only One god, and I am innocent of what you associate (e.g., the idol you make of me by associating me with God in shahada)! 6:19

Despite this constant, divine emphasis that there is no need of any human witness to testify Muhammad’s messengership, which must have been the teaching of original Islam – and despite the ironical fact that the only instance in the Quran where Muhammad is included in the ‘shahada’ is a speech uttered by the hypocrites (63:1) – sectarian Islams insist on extending the shahada with ‘Ashhadu anna muhammadan rasulullah’.

Is it really essential to ‘bear witness that Muhammad is God’s messenger’, when the Quran so persistently affirms that ‘God is ENOUGH as witness’ to it?

If we are repeatedly advised that God’s own witnessing is enough to close a case, then why should we override the advice and, in our overzeal to flatter, show ourselves off as further witnesses, though uncalled-for, irrelevant?

Summary

God is enough as witness that Muhammad was God’s messenger

The phrase Muhammad is God’s messenger (Muhammadur rasulullah) appears in the Quran only once, and that is also only immediately after a straight PROHIBITION to add it to the shahada: God is enough as witness that/ Muhammad is God’s messenger (Muhammadur rasulullah). 48:28-29

Here, as throughout the Quran, we are asked not to bear witness about the messengership of Muhammad, since ‘God is enough as witness’ between him and us (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).

A comparative reading of the verses 3:18 and 4:166 will reinforce this important Quranic instruction. The verse 3:18 insists that ‘La Ilaha Illa Allah’ is ‘the true shahada of God, the Forces and those of knowledge’. In contrast, the verse 4:166 maintains that, though God and also the Forces bear witness to ‘Muhammadur rasulullah’, humans are NOT to bear witness about it since God’s own witness is enough in this regard.

Now, apart from the fact that one cannot be a witness of something unless one is present to witness it (5:117) and so one cannot ‘witness’ the messengership of messengers who belonged to past generations (28:44, 2:133) – and also, from a legal point of view, bearing witness to something without really having it witnessed is hypocrisy (63:1; cf. 61:2) – there are many other serious reasons why in shahada we should NOT bear witness about Muhammad or any other messenger. One most serious reason is: this involves ‘idolisation of messengers’ (3:79-80, 16:20-21, 35:14; cf. 46:5-6, 19:65, 39:45, 40:12).

Thus, while proclaiming that the testimony of God is the greatest testimony (‘akbar shahada’) about the divineness of the Quran (6:19), which, therefore, needs no extra testimony from anyone else, the Quran highlights the danger that any extra testimony about Muhammad or any other messenger in line with the testimony about God’s oneness will idolize him as a subsidiary god (cf. 18:110, 41:6) and a divine co-legislator along with God (6:150; cf. 6:106), and so will present as a case of ‘shirk’ (6:19, 10:28-29; cf. 3:18).

This is because bearing witness about a creature, in association with bearing witness about the Creator, exalts the creature – somehow and to some extent – to the rank of the Creator and, therefore, presents as a case of ‘association’ or ‘shirk’ (19:65), the only unforgivable sin in Islam (4:48; cf. 4:116, 39:65, 6:88).

As humans are prone to sanctify the messengers by testifying them along with God (10:28-36, 41:47-53), the Quran insistently discourages this idolatrous trend by asking not to bear witness about the messengers: ‘God is enough as witness’ between them and us (10:28-29, 35-36; 41:47-48, 53).

Obviously, we do not need to bear extra witness to the veracity of a message-bearer as it is evident from the veracity of the message s/he delivered. Here, any bearing of extra witness is not only unnecessary but also inappropriate as there is a risk that by unduly focusing on the mailman we may actually make him more relevant than the mail itself, and thereby belittle its Sender. And this becomes idolatry when the Sender is God!

That ‘God is enough as witness to the truth of all messengers’ also implies that ONE GOD, the central concept of eternal monotheism, is sufficient in itself to cover also the truthfulness of the missions of all monotheist messengers including Muhammad.

Then this same timeless message to serve God alone – which was so sincerely, clearly and consistently delivered by Muhammad – is the divine signature itself, embedded throughout the Quran, which sufficiently proves that Muhammad was indeed a true messenger of God. False messengers cannot preach the worship of one God alone (26:210-213; 13:43, 46:8). In other words, the testimony to God’s oneness, ‘La Ilaha Illa Allah’, is sufficient in itself to cover also ‘Muhammadur rasulullah’. And this must have been the teaching of original Islam as preached by Muhammad himself (29:52, 6:19).

If we are so insistently advised that God’s own witnessing is enough to close a case, then why should we override the advice and, in our overzeal to flatter, show ourselves off as further witnesses, though uncalled-for, irrelevant?