A Sinner Still

Responding to a Muslim’s Examination of Muhammad’s Sins In Light of the Teachings of the Quran and Hadiths

Sam Shamoun

Muslim missionary Omar Alhabeshi has written a critique (*) of James Arlandson’s excellent contrast between Jesus’ sinlessness and Muhammad’s sinfulness (*). (It can be accurately stated that Alhabeshi is a missionary, since he works for and wants Islam to spread around the globe.)

He breaks his response into two sections; the first where he seeks to disprove that Muhammad committed any major sins with the second being his attempt of disproving Jesus’ complete sinlessness.

Alhabeshi begins his first section by responding to Arlandson’s detailed analysis of the lexical meaning of dhanb. Alhabeshi suggests that this word doesn’t necessarily prove that Muhammad committed any major crime or sin, but a few minor faults (in other words, some simple mistakes). He accuses Arlandson of trying to prove that Muhammad’s sins "can never be different from the major sins committed by different unbelievers stated in the holy quran", even though he has to admit that:

Then in the quran the word ‘dh-n-b’ is MOSTLY USED FOR GREAT SINS don’t necessarily mean that it must be referring to a great sin in Mohammed’s (Peace and blessing be upon him) case too. (capital emphasis ours)

A Defective Islamic source

Yet instead of providing any data from the Quran to prove his case Alhabeshi chooses to turn to the hadith literature. Of all the hadiths Alhabeshi could have cited he chose to focus on the narration where Abu Sufyan supposedly met with the emperor of the Byzantine Empire, Heraclius, to discuss Muhammad. There are many problems with this narration which demonstrate that it is nothing more than a fabrication, a lie concocted by Muslims in order to elevate Muhammad.

One such problem that calls into question the veracity of this report is the timing of the meeting. According to the story Abu Sufyan met Heraclius in Jerusalem when the former was still a pagan. Moreover, the narration refers to a letter which Muhammad had sent to the Emperor:

Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas:

Abu Sufyan bin Harb informed me that Heraclius had sent a messenger to him while he had been accompanying a caravan from Quraish. They were merchants doing business in Sham (Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan), at the time when Allah's Apostle had truce with Abu Sufyan and Quraish infidels. So Abu Sufyan and his companions went to Heraclius at Ilya (Jerusalem). Heraclius called them in the court and he had all the senior Roman dignitaries around him. He called for his translator who, translating Heraclius's question said to them, "Who amongst you is closely related to that man who claims to be a Prophet?" Abu Sufyan replied, "I am the nearest relative to him (amongst the group)." … Heraclius then asked for the letter addressed by Allah's Apostle which was delivered by Dihya to the Governor of Busra, who forwarded it to Heraclius to read. The contents of the letter were as follows: "In the name of Allah the Beneficent, the Merciful (This letter is) from Muhammad the slave of Allah and His Apostle to Heraclius the ruler of Byzantine. Peace be upon him, who follows the right path. Furthermore I invite you to Islam, and if you become a Muslim you will be safe, and Allah will double your reward, and if you reject this invitation of Islam you will be committing a sin by misguiding your Arisiyin (peasants). (And I recite to you Allah's Statement:)

'O people of the scripture! Come to a word common to you and us that we worship none but Allah and that we associate nothing in worship with Him, and that none of us shall take others as Lords beside Allah. Then, if they turn away, say: Bear witness that we are Muslims (those who have surrendered to Allah).' (3:64).

Abu Sufyan then added, "When Heraclius had finished his speech and had read the letter, there was a great hue and cry in the Royal Court. So we were turned out of the court. I told my companions that the question of Ibn-Abi-Kabsha) (the Prophet Muhammad) has become so prominent that even the King of Bani Al-Asfar (Byzantine) is afraid of him. Then I started to become sure that he (the Prophet) would be the conqueror in the near future TILL I EMBRACED ISLAM (i.e. Allah guided me to it)." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 1, Number 6)

Muslim sources date the sending of this letter at 628 AD:

In this year the Messenger of God sent out messengers. He sent out six persons in the month of Dhu al-Hijjah, three of them setting out together: Hatib b. Abi Balta‘ah of Lakhm, a confederate of the Banu Asad b. ‘Abd al-‘Uzza, to al-Muqawqis; Shuja b. Wahb of the Banu Asad b. Khuzayma, a confederate of Harb b. Umayyah and veteran of Badr, to al-Harith b. Abi Shimr al-Ghassani; and Dihyah b. Khalifah al-Kalbi to Caesar… (The History of Al-Tabari: The Victory of Islam, translated by Michael Fishbein [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany, 1997], Volume VIII, p. 100; bold and underline emphasis ours)

There is a note that approximates the date when Muhammad sent these men out:

421. Dhu al-Hijjah of A.H. 6 began on 12 April 628. (Ibid; underline emphasis ours)

The problem should be obvious to any student of Byzantine and Islamic history. Heraclius only arrived to Jerusalem on March 20 or 21, 630 AD after having defeated the Persians. The Encyclopędia Britannica, Volume 5, says:

In 614 the Persians conquered Syria and Palestine, taking Jerusalem and what was believed to be Christ’s Cross, and in 619 occupied Egypt and Libya…

In 622, clad as a penitent and bearing a sacred image of the Virgin, he left Constantinople, as prayers rose from its many sanctuaries for victory over the Persian Zoroastrians, the recovery of the Cross, and the reconquest of Jerusalem…

The next two years he devoted to campaigns in Armenia, the manpower of which was vital to the empire, and to a devastating invasion of Persia. In 625 Heraclius retired to Anatolia. He had encamped on the west bank of the Sarus River when the Persian forces appeared on the opposite bank. Many of his men rushed impetuously across the bridge and were ambushed and annihilated by the enemy.

Emerging from his tent, Heraclius saw the triumphant Persians crossing the bridge. The fate of the Empire hung in the balance. Seizing his sword, he ran to the bridge and struck down the Persian leader. His soldiers closed rank behind him and beat back the foe.

In 626 the Persians advanced to the Bosporus, hoping to join the Avars in an assault on the land walls of Constantinople. But the Romans sank the primitive Avar fleet that was to transport Persian units across Bosporus and repelled the unsupported Avar assault. Heraclius again invaded Persia and in December 627, after a march across the Armenian highlands into the Tigris plain, met the Persians near the ruins of Nineveh. There, astride his renowned war-horse, he killed three Persian generals in single combat, charged into enemy ranks at the head of his troops, killed the Persian commander, and scattered the Persian host.

A month later, Heraclius entered Dastagird with its stupendous treasure. Khosrow was overthrown by his son, with whom Heraclius made peace, demanding only the return of the Cross, the captives, and conquered Roman territory. Returning to Constantinople in triumph, he was hailed as a Moses, an Alexander, a Scipio. IN 630 HE PERSONALLY RESTORED THE CROSS TO THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE IN JERUSALEM. (Bold and capital emphasis mine)

Michael Fishbein, one of the translators of The History of Al-Tabari series, writes in a footnote:

436. "In 627 Heraclius invaded the Persian empire, and in December of that year won an important victory near ancient Ninevah, but had to retreat shortly afterwards. In February 628, however, the Persian emperor was assassinated, and the son who succeeded him desired peace. By about March 628 Heraclius could regard himself as victorious, but the negotiations for the evacuation of the Byzantine empire by the Persians were not completed until June 629. In September 629 Heraclius entered Constantinople as victor, and in March 630 restored the Holy Rood to Jerusalem." (Watt, Muhammad at Medina, 113-114). See also Ostrgorsky, History of the Byzantine State, 103-4. (The History of Al-Tabari: The Victory of Islam, Volume VIII, pp. 100-101, fn. 436; bold and capital emphasis ours)

The year of Abu Sufyan’s conversion

Before this time Abu Sufyan had already converted to Islam since he became Muslim right when Muhammad conquered Mecca, which scholars say took place on January 630:

According to Ibn Humayd – Salamah – Muhammad b. Ishaq – Muhammad b. Muslim b. al-Zuhri – ‘Ubaydallah b. ‘Abdallah b. ‘Utbah b. Mas’ud – Ibn ‘Abbas, who said: Then the Messenger of God went on his journey and left Abu Ruhm Kulthum b. Husayn b. Khalaf al-Ghifari in charge of Medina. He departed on the tenth day of the month of Ramadan… [Continuing, al-‘Abbas related:] So I set out. By God, while I was going through al-Arak seeking what I had come out to find, I heard the voices of Abu Sufyan b. Harb, Hakim b. Hizam, and Budayl b. Warqa, who had come out in search of information about the Messenger of God… Finally, I passed the fire of ‘Umar b. al-Khattab, who said: "Abu Sufyan! Praise be to God, who has delivered you up without treaty or covenant!" He ran toward the Prophet, and I urged the mule, Abu Sufyan riding behind me, until I jumped off at the door of the tent, having outdistanced ‘Umar by as much as a slow mount can outdistance a slow man. ‘Umar went before the Messenger of God and said: "Messenger of God, here is Abu Sufyan, the enemy of God. God has delivered him up without treaty or covenant. Let me cut off his head!" … So ‘Umar took Abu Sufyan back to his dwelling. In the morning he brought him to the Messenger of God, who, when he saw him, said, "Alas, Abu Sufyan, hasn’t the time come for you to know that there is no god but God?" Abu Sufyan said: "May my father and mother be your ransom! How concerned you are for your kin, how forbearing, and how generous! By God, I think that if there were another god along with God, he would have availed me somewhat." "Alas, Abu Sufyan," he said, "hasn’t the time come for you to know that I am the Messenger of God?" Abu Sufyan said: "May my father and mother be your ransom! How concerned you are for your kin, how forbearing, and how generous! As for this matter, there is something of it in my mind."

(Al-‘Abbas continued his narrative, saying:) So I said to him: "Woe to you! Recite the testimony of truth before, by God, your head is cut off!" And he recited the shahadah. (The History of Al-Tabari, pp. 168, 171-173; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Al-Tabari placed Muhammad’s departure to Mecca on the tenth of Ramadan in the year 8 AH, which corresponds to January 1, 630 according to the translator:

698. 10 Ramadan of A.H. fell on 1 January 630. (Ibid, p. 168)

This is enough to call into question the accuracy and authenticity of this report, yet for a detailed analysis of the various errors and mistakes of this hadith we highly recommend the following discussions:


Did Heraclius say Muhammad never lied?

Missionary Alhabeshi’s main point for quoting this narration is to prove that Muhammad was never accused of lying or breaking his promises since he says:

In this hadith it can easily be noted that no one had accused the prophet of lying or breaking a promise. How can a man who was NEVER accused of lying and was nick named by Al’amin (the trustworthy) be accused of committing major sins? …

It is obvious that Alhabeshi hasn’t read his own source carefully since the report doesn’t say that Muhammad NEVER lied or broke his promise:

Heraclius said, 'Have you ever accused him of telling lies BEFORE HIS CLAIM (to be a Prophet)?'
I replied, 'No.'
Heraclius said, 'Does he break his promises?'
I replied, 'No. We are at truce with him BUT WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT HE WILL DO IN IT.' I could not find opportunity to say anything against him except that… I further asked whether he was ever accused of telling lies BEFORE HE SAID WHAT HE SAID, and your reply was in the negative. So I wondered how a person who does not tell a lie about others could ever tell a lie about Allah. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 1, Number 6)

Heraclius was asking about Muhammad’s life before his alleged prophetic career and Abu Sufyan responded that from his recollection Muhammad was never accused of lying before that time. He did not say that Muhammad NEVER LIED, but that he hadn't been accused of lying BEFORE HE CLAIMED PROPHETHOOD. And when asked about the present situation, whether Muhammad had broken any promises to date, Abu Sufyan shows uncertainty regarding his veracity since he wasn’t sure whether the latter would remain faithful to their truce. Please keep in mind Abu Sufyan’s hesitance whether Muhammad would prove faithful to the treaty since we will have something to say about that shortly.

Arlandson’s evidence

Alhabeshi then says:

The missionary failed to address his readers a single major sin committed by Mohammed (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him). Amazing! …

This is actually a distortion of the facts as anyone who has read Arlandson’s excellent materials can testify. Arlandson has documented from official Muslim sources some of Muhammad’s many heinous crimes and gross sins, the documentation to which can be read here.

Here are some specific articles of his:

Anyone whose mind has not been fogged by the groundless presupposition that Muhammad committed no major sin will conclude that the atrocities described in each article are wrong or unjust or sinful. What about missionary Muslims like Alhabeshi? It appears that his mind is already convinced and locked up tight, so these atrocities are not really sins. Why not? Because Muhammad was sinless! And the circular reasoning keeps going round and round.

Evidence of major sins of Muhammad

Since Alhabeshi asked for specific and more elaborate documentation we will provide some for him. He mentioned that Muhammad never lied or broke his promise, which in his opinion constitute major sins. Here are a few narrations where Muhammad broke his promises, lied or condoned the use of lying to kill those who opposed him.

(1) Treaty of Hudaibiyah

When a contingent of pagans prevented Muhammad from entering Mecca to perform the lesser pilgrimage (‘Umra), he signed a treaty with them which contained the following stipulations:

... So the Messenger of God said, "Write: This is that whereon Muhammad b. ‘Abdallah has made peace with Suhayl b. ‘Amr. The two have agreed on these terms: that warfare shall be laid aside by the people for ten years, during which the people shall be safe and refrain from [attacking] each other; that, WHOEVER shall come to the Messenger of God from Quraysh WITHOUT THE PERMISSION of his guardian, [Muhammad] shall return him to them; that WHOEVER shall come to Quraysh from those who are with the Messenger of God, they shall not return him to [Muhammad] …" (The History of Al-Tabari: The Victory of Islam, Volume VIII, p. 86; capital emphasis ours)

This became known as the treaty of al-Hudaibiya, the very truce which Abu Sufyan made reference to in his supposed conversation with Heraclius. Note carefully that the wording of the pact states that any person who defected to the Muslim camp from the Meccan side had to be returned to the Meccans. Muhammad agreed to this stipulation since he signed it.

The problem is that Muhammad did not stick to his agreement as even Muslim sources admit. Al-Tabari mentions a woman who defected to the Muslim camp whose brothers came to take her back. Muhammad refused to return her to them in clear violation of the peace treaty:

Ibn Ishaq added in his account: Umm Kulthum bt. ‘Uqbah b. Abi Mu‘ayt emigrated to the Messenger of God during that period. Her brothers, ‘Umarah and al-Walid b. ‘Uqbah, went to the Messenger of God to ask him to return her to them ACCORDING TO THE TREATY BETWEEN HIM AND QURAYSH AT AL-HUDAYBIYAH, BUT HE DID NOT DO SO: GOD HAD REJECTED IT. (Ibid., p. 92; capital emphasis ours)

Ibn Kathir provides further corroboration:

After Al-Hudaybiyyah, Emigrant Muslim Women may not be returned to the Disbelievers

In Surat Al-Fath, we related the story of the treaty at Al-Hudaybiyyah that was conducted between the Messenger of Allah and the disbelievers of Quraysh. In that treaty, there were these words, "Everyman (in another narration, EVERY PERSON) who reverts from our side to your side, should be returned to us, even if he is a follower of your religion." This was said by `Urwah, Ad-Dahhak, `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd, Az-Zuhri, Muqatil bin Hayyan and As-Suddi.

So according to this narration, this Ayah specifies and explains the Sunnah. And this is the best case of understanding. Yet according to another view of some of the Salaf, it abrogates it.

Allah the Exalted and Most High ordered His faithful servants to test the faith of women who emigrate to them. When they are sure that they are faithful, they should not send them back to the disbelievers, for the disbelievers are not allowed for them and they are not allowed for the disbelievers. In the biography of `Abdullah bin Abi Ahmad bin Jahsh in Al-Musnad Al-Kabir, we also mentioned that `Abdullah bin Abi Ahmad said, "Umm Kulthum bint `Uqbah bin Abi Mu`ayt emigrated and her brothers, `Umarah and Al-Walid, went after her. They came to Allah's Messenger and talked to him about Umm Kulthum and asked that she be returned to them. ALLAH ABOLISHED THE PART OF THE TREATY BETWEEN THE PROPHET AND THE IDOLATORS ABOUT THE WOMEN PARTICULARLY. So He forbade returning Muslim women to the idolators and revealed the Ayah about testing them" …

<Likewise do not keep disbelieving women,>

Then `Umar bin Al-Khattab divorced two of his wives, who were idolatresses, and one of them got married to Mu`awiyah bin Abi Sufyan, while the other got married to Safwan bin Umayyah.

Ibn Thawr narrated that Ma`mar said that Az-Zuhri said, "This Ayah was revealed to Allah's Messenger while he was in the area of Al-Hudaybiyyah, after making peace. He agreed that WHOEVER COMES from the Quraysh to his side, WILL BE RETURNED TO MAKKAH. When some women came, this Ayah was revealed. Allah commanded that the dowery that was paid to these women be returned to their husbands. Allah also ordered that if some Muslim women revert to the side of the idolators, the idolators should return their dowery to their Muslim husbands ... (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Volume 9 (Surat Al-Jathiyah to the end of Surat Al-Munafiqun), pp. 599-600, 602; capital and underline emphasis ours)

We see that Abu Sufyan had good reasons for suspecting whether Muhammad would prove faithful to the covenant!

For more on the treaty of Hudaibiya we recommend the following articles:


(2) Deception permitted for assassination

Muhammad also permitted his Muslim assassins to use deception and lies in order to be able to kill individuals who contradicted and challenged their prophet’s authority. One such victim was Kab ibn al-Ashraf:

Narrated Jabir:
The Prophet said, "Who is ready to kill Ka'b bin Ashraf (i.e. a Jew)?" Muhammad bin Maslama replied, "Do you like me to kill him?" The Prophet replied in the affirmative. Muhammad bin Maslama said, "Then allow me to say what I like." The Prophet replied, "I do (i.e. allow you)." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 271)

Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah:
Allah's Apostle said, "Who is willing to kill Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf who has hurt Allah and His Apostle?" Thereupon Muhammad bin Maslama got up saying, "O Allah's Apostle! Would you like that I kill him?" The Prophet said, "Yes," Muhammad bin Maslama said, "Then allow me to say a (false) thing (i.e. to deceive Kab)." The Prophet said, "You may say it." … So Muhammad bin Maslama went in together with two men, and said to them, "When Ka'b comes, I will touch his hair and smell it, and when you see that I have got hold of his head, strip him. I will let you smell his head." Kab bin Al-Ashraf came down to them wrapped in his clothes, and diffusing perfume. Muhammad bin Maslama said, "I have never smelt a better scent than this." Ka'b replied. "I have got the best ‘Arab women who know how to use the high class of perfume." Muhammad bin Maslama requested Ka'b, "Will you allow me to smell your head?" Ka’b said, "Yes." Muhammad smelt it and made his companions smell it as well. Then he requested Ka'b again, "Will you let me (smell your head)?" Ka'b said, "Yes." When Muhammad got a strong hold of him, he said (to his companions), "Get at him!" So they killed him and went to the Prophet and informed him. (Abu Rafi) was killed after Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 369)

For more on this issue, and related topics, please consult the following materials:


(3) Oath-breaking in the Quran

Muhammad also justified the breaking of his oaths, and did so in the name of his god:

O Prophet! Why do you ban (for yourself) that which Allah has made lawful to you, seeking to please your wives? And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Allah has already ordained for you (O men), the dissolution of your oaths. And Allah is your Maula (Lord, or Master, or Protector, etc.) and He is the All-Knower, the All-Wise. S. 66:1-2 Hilali-Khan

And according to the so-called sound hadiths Muhammad allegedly made the following assertion:

Narrated Zahdam:
Once we were in the house of Abu Musa who presented a meal containing cooked chicken. A man from the tribe of Bani Taim Allah with red complexion as if he were from the Byzantine war prisoners, was present. Abu Musa invited him to share the meal but he (apologised) saying. "I saw chickens eating dirty things and so I have had a strong aversion to eating them, and have taken an oath that I will not eat chickens." Abu Musa said, "Come along, I will tell you about this matter (i.e. how to cancel one's oath). I went to the Prophet in the company of a group of Al-Ashariyin, asked him to provide us with means of conveyance. He said, ‘By Allah, I will not provide you with any means of conveyance and I have nothing to make you ride on.’ Then some camels as booty were brought to Allah's Apostle and he asked for us saying. ‘Where are the group of Al-Ash'ariyun?’ Then he ordered that we should be given five camels with white humps. When we set out we said, ‘What have we done? We will never be blessed (with what we have been given).’ So, we returned to the Prophet and said, ‘We asked you to provide us with means of conveyance, but you took an oath that you would not provide us with any means of conveyance. Did you forget (your oath when you gave us the camels)?’ He replied. ‘I have not provided you with means of conveyance but Allah has provided you with it, and by Allah, Allah willing, if ever I take an oath to do something, and later on I find that it is more beneficial to do something different, I will do the thing which is better, and give expiation for my oath.’ (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Number 361)

This is a heinous sin according to God’s true Word, the Holy Bible:

"Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes of the people of Israel, saying, "This is what the LORD has commanded. If a man vows a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth." Numbers 30:1-2

"Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool's voice with many words. When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands?" Ecclesiastes 5:1-6

Hence, Muhammad was a grave sinner in light of Alhabeshi’s own criteria for what constitutes for major sins!

Muhammad needed his sins (dh-n-b) forgiven according to the Quran

Missionary Alhabeshi also responds to Arlandson’s appeal to the hadiths which speak of Muhammad asking for forgiveness more than seventy times a day. He explains this on the basis that Muhammad was sent to teach by example how other Muslims should pray and live their lives. He then quotes a narration which says that all of Muhammad’s sins have been forgiven. It seems that Alhabeshi really doesn’t know what he wants to argue, since he wants to say that Muhammad seeking forgiveness was to set an example for others but then quotes a hadith which says that he had sins which Allah allegedly forgave! If Allah had to forgive all of Muhammad’s sins then this means that Muhammad wasn’t perfect, and definitely wasn’t sinless! If Muhammad were completely holy and pure then there would be no need for Allah to forgive anything since there would be nothing for him to forgive!

Putting it simply, the fact that Allah supposedly told Muhammad that all of his past and future sins were forgiven implies that Muhammad was a sinner who would sin quite often, which required his need for forgiveness.

More importantly, the claim that Allah forgave all of Muhammad’s sins contradicts the plain teach of the Quran which instructs Muhammad to ask for forgiveness:

Surely, We have sent down to you (O Muhammad SAW) the Book (this Qur'an) in truth that you might judge between men by that which Allah has shown you (i.e. has taught you through Divine Inspiration), so be not a pleader for the treacherous. And SEEK the Forgiveness of Allah, certainly, Allah is Ever OftForgiving, Most Merciful. And argue not on behalf of those who deceive themselves. Verily, Allah does not like anyone who is a betrayer of his trust, and indulges in crime. S. 4:105-107 Hilali-Khan

Then have patience (O Muhammad). Lo! the promise of Allah is true. And ASK forgiveness of thy sin, and hymn the praise of thy Lord at fall of night and in the early hours. S. 40:55 Pickthall

So know (O Muhammad SAW) that La ilaha ill-Allah (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah) and ASK forgiveness for your sin, and also for (the sin of) believing men and believing women. And Allah knows well your moving about, and your place of rest (in your homes). S. 47:19 Hilali-Khan

Why would Muhammad need to ask for forgiveness if Allah had already told him that all his sins had already been pardoned?

It gets even worse:

When comes the Help of Allah (to you, O Muhammad (Peace be upon him) against your enemies) and the conquest (of Makkah), And you see that the people enter Allah's religion (Islam) in crowds, So glorify the Praises of your Lord, and ask for His Forgiveness. Verily, He is the One Who accepts the repentance and forgives. S. 110:1-3 Hilali-Khan

According to Muslim scholars this was one of the last suras which was composed:

Period of Revelation

Hadrat Abdullah bin Abbas states that this is the last Surah of the Quran to be revealed, i.e. no complete Surah was sent down to the Holy Prophet after it. (Muslim Nasai, Tabarani, Ibn Abi Shaibah, Ibn Marduyah). According to Hadrat Abdullah bin Umar, this Surah was sent down on the occasion of the Farewell Pilgrimage in the middle of the Tashriq Days at Mina, and after it the Holy Prophet rode his she camel and gave his well known Sermon. (Tirmidhi, Bazzar, Baihaqi, Ibn Abi Shaibah, Abd bin Humaid, Abn Yala, Ibn Marduyah). Baihaqi in Kitab al- Hajj has related from the tradition of Hadrat Sarra bint-Nabhan the Sermon which the Holy Prophet gave on this occasion… If both these traditions are read together, it appears that there was an interval of three months and some days between the revelation of Surah An-Nasr and the Holy Prophet's death, for historically the same was the interval between the Farewell Pilgrimage and the passing away of the Holy Prophet.

Ibn Abbas says that when this Surah was revealed, the Holy Prophet said that he had been informed of his death and his time had approached. (Musnad Ahmad, Ibn Jarir, Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn Marduyah). In the other traditions related from Hadrat Abdullah bin Abbas, it has been stated that at the revelation of this Surah the Holy Prophet understood that he had been informed of his departure from the world. (Musnad Ahmad, Ibn Jarir, Tabarani, Nasai, Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn Marduyah).

Mother of the Believers, Hadrat Umm Habibah, says that when this Surah was revealed the Holy Prophet said that he would leave the world that year. Hearing this Hadrat Fatimah wept. Thereat he said: "From among my family you will be the first to join me." Hearing this she laughed. (Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn Marduyah). A tradition containing almost the same theme has been related by Baihaqi from Ibn Abbas. (Syed Abu-Ala' Maududi's Chapter Introductions to the Qur'an; source; underline emphasis ours)

The renowned Sunni commentators al-Jalalayn note:

then glorify with praise of your Lord, that is, continuously praising Him, and seek forgiveness from Him; for verily He is ever ready to relent. The Prophet (s), after this sura had been revealed, would frequently repeat the words subhana'Llahi wa bi-hamdihi, 'Glory and praise be to God', and astaghfiru'Llaha wa-atubu ilayhi, 'I seek forgiveness from God and I repent to Him'; with [the revelation of] this [final sura] he realised that his end was near. The victory over Mecca was in Ramadan of year 8; the Prophet (s) passed away in Rabi' I of the year 10. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Again, if Muhammad had been promised that all his sins were already forgiven than why is Allah commanding him to seek for forgiveness shortly before the time of his death? Doesn’t this portray Allah as an inconsistent and double-minded deity who commands Muhammad to ask for forgiveness for sins which Allah said he had already forgiven him of?

Muhammad’s fear of the antichrist

To offset the hadith which Arlandson quoted where Muhammad prayed to Allah for protection from his sins, the punishment of the grave and the trials of the antichrist, the Muslim missionary cites another hadith where Muhammad is reported to have said that if the antichrist arrived he would protect his followers from him. It is truly amazing that Alhabeshi somehow thinks that this refutes the point made by Arlandson.

Once again, these hadiths show Muhammad seeking refuge from the dajjal. Seeking such refuge indicates Muhammad’s fears:

'A'isha reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) seeking refuge from the trial of Dajjal (Antichrist) in prayer. (Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 1216)

Ibn 'Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah (may peace he upon him) used to teach them this supplication (in the same spirit) with which he used to teach them a surah of the Qur'an. He would thus instruct us:" Say, O Allah I we seek refuge with Thee from the torment of Hell, and I seek refuge with Thee from the torment of the grave, and I seek refuge with Thee from the trial of Masih al-Dajjal. and I seek refuge with Thee from the trial of life and death." (Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 1225; a parallel hadith is found in Sahih Muslim, Book 035, Number 6534)

So how is Muhammad going to protect people against the dajjal? By teaching them how to cower, seeking refuge, cringing?

Muhammad’s fear of the grave

In the first place, citing a narration which says Muhammad would contend with the Dajjal (or antichrist) doesn’t clarify things, but simply demonstrates that either Muhammad faltered and wavered in his faith or that the narrations are contradicting one another. Furthermore, Alhabeshi conveniently cites a narration which focuses on the antichrist but doesn’t bother to inform his readers that there are other narrations where Muhammad was extremely troubled by the punishment of the grave:

Narrated Masruq:
‘Aisha said that a Jewess came to her and mentioned the punishment in the grave, saying to her, "May Allah protect you from the punishment of the grave." ‘Aisha then asked Allah’s Apostle about the punishment of the grave. He said, "Yes, (there is) punishment in the grave." ‘Aisha added, "After that I never saw Allah’s Apostle but seeking refuge with Allah from the punishment in the grave in every prayer he prayed." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 23, Number 454)

Graves weren’t the only things which scared Muhammad:

Narrated 'Amra bint 'AbdurRahman:
A Jewess came to 'Aisha to ask her about something and then she said, "May Allah give you refuge from the punishment of the grave." So 'Aisha asked Allah's Apostle, "Would the people be punished in their graves?" Allah's Apostle asked Allah's refuge from the punishment of the grave (indicating an affirmative reply). Then one day Allah's Apostle rode (to leave for some place) but the sun eclipsed. He returned on the forenoon and passed through the rear of the dwellings (of his wives) and stood up and started offering the (eclipse) prayer and the people stood behind him. He stood for a long period and then performed a long bowing and then stood straight for a long period which was shorter than that of the first standing, then he performed a prolonged bowing which was shorter than the first bowing, then he raised his head and prostrated for a long time and then stood up (for the second Raka) for a long while, but the standing was shorter than the standing of the first Raka. Then he performed a prolonged bowing which was shorter than that of the first one. He then stood up for a long time but shorter than the first, then again performed a long bowing which was shorter than the first and then prostrated for a shorter while than that of the first prostration. Then he finished the prayer and delivered the sermon and said what Allah wished; and ordered the people to seek refuge with Allah from the punishment of the grave. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 18, Number 164)

Narrated Abu Musa:
The sun eclipsed and the Prophet got up, being afraid that it might be the Hour (i.e. Day of Judgment). He went to the Mosque and offered the prayer with the longest Qiyam, bowing and prostration that I had ever seen him doing. Then he said, "These signs which Allah sends do not occur because of the life or death of somebody, but Allah makes His worshipers afraid by them. So when you see anything thereof, proceed to remember Allah, invoke Him and ask for His forgiveness." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 18, Number 167)

Narrated Anas:
Whenever a strong wind blew, anxiety appeared on the face of the Prophet (fearing that wind might be a sign of Allah's wrath). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 17, Number 144)

Narrated Ata:
'Aisha said, "If the Prophet saw a cloud in the sky, he would walk to and fro in agitation, go out and come in, and the color of his face would change, and if it rained, he would feel relaxed." So 'Aisha knew that state of his. So the Prophet said, "I don't know (am afraid), it may be similar to what happened to some people referred to in the Holy Quran in the following Verse: -- ‘Then when they saw it as a dense cloud coming towards their valleys, they said, "This is a cloud bringing us rain!" Nay, but, it is that (torment) which you were asking to be hastened a wind wherein is severe torment.’ (46.24)" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Number 428)

Muhammad’s fear of the afterlife

Muhammad’s anxiety seemed to have stemmed from his being uncertain about what Allah would do with him:

Say (O Muhammad SAW): "I am not a new thing among the Messengers (of Allah) (i.e. I am not the first Messenger) nor do I know what will be done with me or with you. I only follow that which is revealed to me, and I am but a plain warner." S. 46:9 Hilali-Khan

Narrated 'Um al-'Ala:
An Ansari woman who gave the pledge of allegiance to the Prophet that the Ansar drew lots concerning the dwelling of the Emigrants. 'Uthman bin Maz'un decided to dwell with them (i.e. Um al-'Ala's family), 'Uthman fell ill and I nursed him till he died, and we covered him with his clothes. Then the Prophet came to us and I (addressing the dead body) said, "O Abu As-Sa'ib, may Allah's Mercy be on you! I bear witness that Allah has honored you." On that the Prophet said, "How do you know that Allah has honored him?" I replied, "I do not know. May my father and my mother be sacrificed for you, O Allah's Apostle! But who else is worthy of it (if not 'Uthman)?" He said, "As to him, by Allah, death has overtaken him, and I hope the best for him. By Allah, though I am the Apostle of Allah, yet I do not know what Allah will do to me." By Allah, I will never assert the piety of anyone after him. That made me sad, and when I slept I saw in a dream a flowing stream for 'Uthman bin Maz'un. I went to Allah's Apostle and told him of it. He remarked, "That symbolizes his (good) deeds." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 266)

This introduces another contradiction. Why would Muhammad be uncertain about his fate if Allah had promised him that all his sins had been forgiven? Why fear judgment when Allah supposedly guaranteed his salvation?

We now move to the next phase of our rebuttal where we examine Alhabeshi’s attempt of trying to disprove the absolute purity of the Lord Jesus.

Acknowledgement: I want to thank James Arlandson for a number of additions to this paper.

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