Muhammad – venerable or average?

February 18, 2006 at 11:28 pm (Uncategorized)

By now, all aware human beings are cognizant of the riots that have swept the Muslim world over a few Danish cartoons that are said to depict Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. Indeed, the world is well aware how much Muslims revere Muhammad. The cartoons of Muhammad were doubly insulting, not only because they mock Muhammad but also because they dared to depict him, which is forbidden in Islam. (Or so it is said: in reality this is not always so. Some Persian portraiture have depicted Muhammad. Twelver Shiites are very fond of posters and visual depictions of the Holy Infallibles, one of whom is Muhammad. If depicting Muhammad is indeed forbidden, then Muslims need to correct violators amongst their own.)

However, We conjecture that such reverence for Muhammad is entirely uncalled for. Here are some verses from the Qur’an that demonstrate that, as far as Islam’s god is concerned, Muhammad is nothing but a normal human being (albeit one who receives inspiration from God).

Verse 50 of soorah 6 (al-an’aam):

qul laa aqoolu lakum ‘indee khazaa’inu-llaahi wa laa a’lamu-l-ghayba wa laa aqoolu lakum innee malak; in attabi’u illaa maa yooHaa ilayya;

Say: “I did not tell you that the treasures of Allah are with me or that I know the Unseen and I did not tell you I am an angel; I follow but what has been sent to me.”

Verse 31 of soorah 11 (hood) says something quite similar to 6:50 except putting the words in the mouth of Noah, thereby also suggesting that Muhammad is just like any other prophet, no greater and no lesser.

Verse 93 of soorah 17 (al-israa’):

…qul subHaana rabbee hal kuntu illaa bashara(n)-rrasoolan.

…say: “Glorified be my Lord. Am I not but a man, a messenger?”

Verse 110 of soorah 18 (al-kahf):

qul innamaa anaa basharun mithlukum yooHaa ilayya annamaa ilaahukum ilaahun waaHid; faman kaana yarjoo liqaa’a rabbihi falya’mal ‘amalan SaaliHaan wa laa yushrik bi’ibaadati rabbihi aHada.

Say: “I am only a man like you. It has been revealed to me that your god is one god. So whoever hopes for the meeting with his lord, let him do good works and not associate partners in the worship of his one lord.”

Verse 6 of soorah 41 (fuSSilat):

qul innamaa ana basharun mithlukum yooHaa ilayya annamaa ilaahukum ilaahun waaHidun fa-staqeemoo ilayhi wa-staghfiroohu; wa waylu(n)-llilmushrikeen.

Say: “I am only a man like you. It has been revealed to me that your god is one god so obey him and ask for his forgiveness, and woe to the unbelievers.”


inna naHnu-l-a’lamoon.

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