Quran Difficulty

Does Allah Act Alone Or Does He Have Partners That Assist Him?

Sam Shamoun

The Quran is confused on whether Allah acts by himself, without any help from his creatures. In certain places Allah is said to function all by himself whereas other texts speak of Allah acting with the aid or mediation of his creatures.

Here are some examples of what we mean.

Is Allah Alone a witness against mankind?


The day when God shall gather the Messengers, and say, 'What answer were you given?' They shall say, 'We have no knowledge; Thou art the Knower of the things unseen. S. 5:109

And when God said, 'O Jesus son of Mary, didst thou say unto men, "Take me and my mother as gods, apart from God"?' He said, 'To Thee be glory! It is not mine to say what I have no right to. If I indeed said it, Thou knowest it, knowing what is within my soul, and I know not what is within Thy soul; Thou knowest the things unseen I only said to them what Thou didst command me: "Serve God, my Lord and your Lord." And I was a witness over them, while I remained among them; but when Thou didst take me to Thyself, Thou wast Thyself the watcher over them; Thou Thyself art witness of everything. S. 5:116-117

Notice that Jesus and the rest of the messengers, which would include Muhammad, claim ignorance regarding the response of the people to their message and to the actions of their communities after they had left the scene.


Thus We appointed you a midmost nation that you might be witnesses to the people, and that the Messenger might be a witness to you; and We did not appoint the direction thou wast facing, except that We might know who followed the Messenger from him who turned on his heels -- though it were a grave thing save for those whom God has guided; but God would never leave your faith to waste - truly, God is All-gentle with the people, All-compassionate. S. 2:143

Here is how the Muslim expositors interpreted this text:

Thus, in the same way that We guided you to it, We appointed you, O community of Muhammad (s), a midmost community, excellent and upright, that you might be witnesses to the people, on the Day of Resurrection, that their messengers delivered [the Message] to them; and that the Messenger might be a witness to you, that he delivered [the Message] to you, … (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source)

Muhammad and his community will be witnesses, which requires that they have knowledge of what the nations have done; otherwise how can they act as witnesses for or against the people?

This isn’t the only text which speaks of Muhammad being a witness over people:

How then shall it be, when We bring forward from every nation a witness, and bring thee to witness against those? S. 4:41

Muhammad isn’t the only messenger who will be a witness on the day of resurrection:

There is not one of the People of the Book but will assuredly believe in him (Jesus) before his death, and on the Resurrection Day he will be a witness against them. S. 4:159

Recall in the previous section the text where Jesus was asked about what people taught in his name and how he pleaded ignorance. Yet here it says that he will be a witness against both Jews and Christians.

Is Allah the only and sufficient Protector or Guardian?


God knows well your enemies; God suffices as a protector (waliyyan), God suffices as a helper (naseeran). S. 4:45

As for the believers, who do deeds of righteousness, He will pay them in full their wages, and He will give them more, of His bounty; and as for them who disdain, and wax proud, them He will chastise with a painful chastisement, and they shall not find for them, apart from God, a friend (waliyyan) or helper (naseeran). S. 4:123

O Messenger, deliver that which has been sent down to thee from thy Lord; for if thou dost not, thou wilt not have delivered His Message. God will protect thee from men. God guides not the people of the unbelievers. S. 5:67

Say: Who is he who can preserve you from Allah if He intendeth harm for you, or intendeth mercy for you. They will not find that they have any friend (waliyyan) or helper (naseeran) other than Allah. S. 33:17 Pickthall

Both for the believers and the unbelievers Allah suffices as a helper and protecting friend, since there is no one else.


How is it with you, that you do not fight in the way of God, and for the men, women, and children who, being abased, say, 'Our Lord, bring us forth from this city whose people are evildoers, and appoint to us a protector (waliyyan) from Thee, and appoint to us from Thee a helper (naseeran)'? S. 4:75

It seems that Allah didn’t suffice as a helper or protector since these people are crying out that Allah send them some other persons to help and protect them!

O believers, whosoever of you turns from his religion, God will assuredly bring a people He loves, and who love Him, humble towards the believers, disdainful towards the unbelievers, men who struggle in the path of God, not fearing the reproach of any reproacher. That is God's bounty; He gives it unto whom He will; and God is All-embracing, All-knowing. Your friend (waliyukumu) is only God, and His Messenger, and the believers who perform the prayer and pay the alms, and bow them down. Whoso makes God his friend, and His Messenger, and the believers -- the party of God, they are the victors. S. 5:54-56

If ye twain turn unto Allah repentant, (ye have cause to do so) for your hearts desired (the ban); and if ye aid one another against him (Muhammad) then lo! Allah, even He, is his Protecting Friend, and Gabriel and the righteous among the believers; and furthermore the angels are his helpers. S. 66:4 Pickthall

In the previous section we were told that Allah is Muhammad’s protector. Yet in this last passage we find several persons protecting Muhammad implying that Allah’s protection wasn’t sufficient!

For more on this subject please consult the following: http://answering-islam.org/Quran/Contra/wali.html

Is Grace or Bounty in the hands of Allah only?


That the People of the Book may know that they have no power whatever over the Grace of God, that (His) Grace is (entirely) in His Hand, to bestow it on whomsoever He wills. For God is the Lord of Grace abounding. S. 57:29 Y. Ali


O were they well-pleased with what God and His Messenger have brought them, saying, 'Enough for us is God; God will bring us of His bounty, and His Messenger; to God we humbly turn.' S. 9:59

They swear by Allah that they did not speak, and certainly they did speak, the word of unbelief, and disbelieved after their Islam, and they had determined upon what they have not been able to effect, and they did not find fault except because Allah and His Apostle enriched them out of His grace; therefore if they repent, it will be good for them; and if they turn back, Allah will chastise them with a painful chastisement in this world and the hereafter, and they shall not have in the land any guardian or a helper. S. 9:74 Shakir

In the above passages Muhammad is made a conduit of blessing and riches alongside Allah, making him a coequal bestower of divine grace and bounties!

Is Allah alone the Forgiver of Sins?


upon those rest prayers (salawatun) and mercy from their Lord, and those -- they are the truly guided. S. 2:157

who, when they commit an indecency or wrong themselves, remember God, and pray forgiveness for their sins -- and who shall forgive sins but God? -- and do not persevere in the things they did and that wittingly. S. 3:135

Say: 'What think you? If God's chastisement comes upon you, or the Hour comes upon you, will you call upon any other than God if you speak truly?' S. 6:40

Allah prays for and forgives those who turn to him, showing that believers need no one else since he is sufficient for them. That is why they are to call on him alone.


We sent not ever any Messenger, but that he should he obeyed, by the leave of God. If; when they wronged themselves, they had come to thee, and prayed forgiveness of God, and the Messenger had prayed forgiveness for them, they would have found God turns, All-compassionate. S. 4:64

It was by some mercy of God that thou wast gentle to them; hadst thou been harsh and hard of heart, they would have scattered from about thee. So pardon them, and pray forgiveness for them, and take counsel with them in the affair; and when thou art resolved, put thy trust in God; surely God loves those who put their trust. S. 3:159

Take of their wealth a freewill offering, to purify them and to cleanse them thereby, and pray for them; thy prayers are a comfort for them; God is All-hearing, All-knowing. S. 9:103

Muhammad is able to forgive and purify Muslims, even providing comfort for them by his prayers!

All Quranic citations are taken from A.J. Arberry unless stated otherwise.

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