By Sam Shamoun
This short article is intended to be a response to the following blog post.
Paul Williams published a meme which asks the question of who Muhammad was, and then quotes the following hadith for the answer:
Narrated 'Umar: I heard the Prophet saying, "Do not exaggerate in praising me as the Christians praised the son of Mary, for I am only a Slave. So, call me the Slave of Allah and His Apostle." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 654)
Apparently, this was intended as a shot against Christians for worshiping Jesus as God, unlike Muslims who view Muhammad as a mere human slave of Allah, just as he himself told them to.
However, the real reason why Muhammad didn’t need his followers to praise him is because he receives all the praise he needs from his deity. The Muslim sources proclaim that Allah has been busying himself with praising Muhammad before his heavenly host:
The Command to say Salah upon the Prophet
Al-Bukhari said: “Abu Al-`Aliyah said: ‘Allah’s Salah is HIS PRAISING HIM BEFORE THE ANGELS, and the Salah of the angels is their supplication.’” Ibn `Abbas said: “They send blessings.” Abu `Isa At-Tirmidhi said: “This was narrated from Sufyan Ath-Thawri and other scholars, who said: ‘The Salah of the Lord is mercy, and the Salah of the angels is their seeking forgiveness.’” There are Mutawatir Hadiths narrated from the Messenger of Allah commanding us to send blessings on him and how we should say Salah upon him. We will mention as many of them as we can, if Allah wills, and Allah is the One Whose help we seek… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 33:56; capital and underline emphasis ours)
It seems that Allah has nothing better to do than to praise his “prophet” before the angels.
Another way in which Allah praises and glorifies Muhammad is by bestowing some of his own names and characteristics upon his “messenger”, as well as coupling Muhammad’s name together with his own:
Muhammad b. al-Muthanna – Ibn Abi ‘Adi – ‘Abd al-Rahman (that is, al-Mas‘udi) – ‘Amr b. Murrah – Abu ‘Ubaydah – Abu Musa [al-Ash‘ari]: The Messenger of God named himself to us in various ways. He said, ‘I am Muhammad [the one who is praised], Ahmad [the most praiseworthy], al-Muqaffi [the follower], al-Hashir [the last in succession], Nabi al-tawbah wa’l-rahmah [the Prophet of repentance and mercy].’" (The History of al-Tabari – The Last Years of the Prophet, [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany], Volume IX, pp. 155-156; underline emphasis ours)
Section 14. On Allah honouring the Prophet WITH SOME OF HIS OWN BEAUTIFUL NAMES and describing him WITH SOME OF HIS OWN SUBLIME QUALITIES
… He has preferred our Prophet Muhammad since He has adorned him with a wealth of His names in His Mighty Book and on the tongues of His Prophets… One of His names is the Praiseworthy (al-Hamid). This means the One who is praised because He praises Himself and His slaves praise him. It also means the One who praises Himself and praises acts of obedience. The Prophet is called Muhammad and Ahmad. Muhammad means praised, and that is how his name occurs in the Zabur of David. Ahmad means the greatest of those who give praise AND THE MOST SUBLIME OF THOSE WHO ARE PRAISED. Hassan ibn Thabit indicated this when he said:
It is taken for him from His own name in order to exalt him.
The One with the Throne is praised (Mahmud) AND HE IS MUHAMMAD.
Two of Allah’s names are the Compassionate, the Merciful (ar-Ra’uf, ar-Rahim). They are similar in meaning. He calls him by them in His Book when He says, “Compassionate, merciful to the believers.” (9.128) (Qadi Iyad Ibn Musa al-Yahsubi, Kitab Ash-shifa bi ta'rif huquq al-Mustafa (Healing by the recognition of the Rights of the Chosen One), translated by Aisha Abdarrahman Bewley [Madinah Press, Inverness, Scotland, U.K., third reprint 1991, paperback], Chapter Three. On The Sound And Well-Known Traditions Related About The Immense Value Placed On Him By His Lord, His Exalted Position And His Nobility In This World And The Next, pp. 126-127; capital and underline emphasis ours)
Note that Allah himself is called Muhammad since it means the one who is praised, which certainly fits with what the Quran says concerning him. Ahmad, on the other hand, refers to the most sublime of those who are praised, which again would be an apt description for the Islamic deity as far as the Quran is concerned. And yet these are the very names that Allah gave to his so-called messenger, thereby signifying that the man Muhammad is also to be praised since Allah himself has made him the most sublime of those who is to be praised!
Hence, the names Muhammad (“the one who is praised”) and Ahmad (“the most praiseworthy”) basically point to the fact that Allah actually wants everyone to praise and glorify his human “prophet”, a fact candidly admitted by the following Muslim sources:
“… It may be that your Lord will raise you to, establish you, in the Hereafter, in, a praiseworthy station, one for which the first and last [of mankind] will praise you — and this is the station of intercession [which will take place] during [the passing of] the Final Judgement.” (Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Q. 17:79; bold and underline emphasis ours)
“… (It may be) and the expression 'may be' when used in connection with Allah means: it is a requisite (that thy Lord will raise thee to a praised estate) the station of intercession whereof you will be praised by the people of old and the people of new.” (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs; bold and underline emphasis ours)
The very name "Muhammad" means "THE ONE WHO IS PRAISED, OFTEN PRAISED" and the name of the Prophet is also known as "Ahmad" meaning "THE ONE DESERVING OF PRAISE ".
Imam Jalaludin as-Suyuti mentions:
His name is Muhammad and Ahmad; his people are the people of praise (hamd)- and his prayer rite and the prayer rite of his people is opened with praise (hamd). In the Preserved Tablet in God's abode it was written that his Caliphs and his Companions in writing the Sacred Volume, should open it with praise (Surah 1:1). And in his hand on the Resurrection Day will be the banner of praise. And when he then prostrates himself before God in intercession in our behalf and it is accepted he will praise the Lord with a new song that shall then be revealed to him, for his is the Heavenly Station of Praise (al-maqam al-mahmud, Surah 17:79)-and when he rises up in that Station ALL THE ASSEMBLY SHALL PRAISE HIM, Muslims and misbelievers alike, the first and the last, AND ALL MEANINGS AND MODES OF THANKFUL PRAISE SHALL BE GATHERED UP AND OFFERED TO HIM. [quoted from And Muhammad is His Messenger by Annemarie Schimmel p. 107] (On Praising the Prophet, by Mas'ud Ahmed Khan; bold and capital emphasis ours)
This next one is rather disturbing:
(It may be that your Lord will raise you to Maqam Mahmud.) meaning, `do that which you are commanded to do, and We will raise you to a station of praise and glory (Maqam Mahmud) on the Day of Resurrection, where ALL OF CREATION will praise you,' AS WILL THEIR CREATOR, may He be glorified and exalted… I, Ibn Kathir, say: the Messenger of Allah will have honors in the Day of Resurrection in which no one else will have a share, honors which will not be matched by anyone else. He is the first one for whom the earth will be opened and he will come forth riding to the gathering place. He will have a banner under which Adam and anyone else will gather, and he will have the Hawd (Lake) to which no one else will have more access than he. He will have the right of the Grand Intercession with Allah when He comes to judge between His creation. This will be after the people ask Adam, then Nuh, then Ibrahim, then Musa, then `Isa to intercede, and each of them will say, "I am not able for that.'' Then they will come to Muhammad, and he will say…
<<I can do that, I can do that.>> We will mention this in more detail shortly, If Allah wills. Part of that will be that he will intercede for some people who had been commanded to be taken to Hell, and they will be brought back. He is the first Prophet whose Ummah will be judged, and the first to take them across the Bridge over the Fire, and the first to intercede in Paradise, as was reported in Sahih Muslim. In the Hadith about the Trumpet, it says that none of the believers will enter Paradise except through his intercession. He will be the first to enter Paradise, and his Ummah will be the first nation to enter. He will intercede for the status to be raised for people whose deeds could not get them there. He is the one who will reach Al-Wasilah, which is the highest position in Paradise, which befits no one but him. When Allah gives permission for intercession on behalf of sinners, the angels, Prophets and believers will intercede, and he will intercede for people whose number is known only to Allah. No one will intercede like him and no one will match him in intercession… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 17:79; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Here we have one of Islam’s greatest scholars and commentators stating that Allah will join in with his creation to praise and glorify Muhammad!
This basically means that Allah not only commands his creation to commit shirk (which is the unforgivable sin in Islam [cf. Q. 2:22; 4:48, 116]) by having them praise a finite, imperfect sinful creature, but he also joins them in committing this gross act of idolatry!
Thus, even though the hadith has Muhammad prohibiting his followers from “over-praising” him, the Islamic corpus shows that he gets all the attention and affirmation he needs from his own god, who is busying himself with praising his “prophet” before his angelic host, and that all creation will eventually follow Allah’s example by praising Muhammad as well.
So much for the denial that Muslims are in reality Muhammadans who worship Muhammad!