This continues our response to MENJ, specifically Muhammad Mohar Alis article which can be found here. See part 1 for our answer to the other issues raised by MENJ.
We once more present the following hadith since this specific one has caused so much controversy. All translations are my own, unless otherwise indicated.
From the Book "Musnad Ahmad" written by Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal
Narrated by Abdullah, narrated by his father, narrated by Abu Usama Hamad Ibn Usama, narrated by Hisham Ibn Urwah, narrated from his father who related that a neighbor of Khadija bint Khuwaylid heard the prophet says, "O Khadija! By Allah I do not worship Al-Lat nor Al-Uzza. By Allah I do not worship (them) at all." Khadija replied, "Leave Al-Lat and leave Al-Uzza."
He (the neighbor) said this was their idol which they used to worship after which they would lay down to sleep.
مسند الإمام أحمد. - للإمام أحمد ابن حنبل
حدثنا عبد الله حدثني أبي حدثنا أبو أسامة حماد بن أسامة حدثنا هشام يعني ابن عروة عن أبيه قال:
-حدثني جار لخديجة بنت خويلد أنه سمع النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم وهو يقول لخديجة أي خديجة والله لا أعبد اللات والعزى والله لا أعبد أبدا قال فتقول خديجة خل اللات خل العزى قال كانت صنمهم التي كانوا يعبدون ثم يضطجعون.
Muhammad Ali has made some pointed comments about Arthur Jefferys use and exegesis of this particular tradition:
Jeffery attempts to support Margoliuth's conclusion in three ways: (a) He mistranslates the Prophet 's statement in the report in order to make it conform to his conclusion (b) He puts forward an excuse to avoid the grammatical objections to taking the neighbour's remark as applying to the Prophet and his wife; and (c) he makes a few observations about the implications of the report as a whole to support his conclusion.
Jeffery translates the Prophet's statement: (Iyya Khadījah wa Allāhu lā 'a`budu al-Lāt wal 'Uzzā, wa Allāhu lā 'a`budu 'abadan) as: "Oh Khadījah: By Allah, I will not worship Al-Lāt nor Al-'Uzzā: by Allah I will not perform worship again"  This translation is faulty in three ways. In the first place, he renders the verb lā 'a`budu in both places of the statement in the future tense which is contrary to the grammatical rules. It is to be noted that in this statement the verb 'a`budu is used twice and both in the imperfect (mudāri) form. In Arabic this form is used to mean either the present (hāl) or the future (mustaqbal) tense. But the general rule is that where in the same statement the verb occurs in the same mudāri form, the first use is to be taken in present (hāl) tense and the second in the future (mustaqbal) tense. In addition to this general rule, this is to be so specially and invariably when there are clear indications that the second use of the verb has to be taken in the future tense. In the statement under reference, the verb 'a`budu in the second place, is followed by the expression 'abadan which unmistakably indicates that here the verb is in the future tenseThe [sic] first use of the verb in the statement must therefore be taken to be in the present tense (hāl). On these simple rules the correct translation of the Prophet's statement (... wa Allāhu lā 'a`budu al-Lāt wal 'Uzzā , wa Allāhu lā 'a`budu 'abadan) would be: "By Allah, I do not worship Al-Lāt and Al-'Uzzā: by Allah I will never worship (them)." The verb in the first instance must be taken in the sense of a simple present tense because in the second instance it is earmarked as the future tense by using 'abadan with it. And as it cannot be assumed that the Prophet was simply saying that he was at the moment not engaged in the act of worshipping these idols, the first half of the statement must be taken to be an assertion of his habit and practice and the second half as an emphatic refusal to do so in future. In other words the Prophet stated that it was not his practice to worship those idols nor would he ever worship them.
The second fault in Jeffery's translation is his disregard or side-tracking of the meaning of lā . .. 'abadan which stands for "never". Instead of correctly rendering the meaning of this expression Jeffery imports, and this is the third fault of the translation, the word "again" here, translating the clause as: "I will not perform worship again". The use of lā with 'abadan in Arabic invariably means "never"; never does the expression mean "again". Jeffery makes this three-fold incorrect translationrendering the verbs in the future tense in both places, side-tracking the meaning of lā . .. 'abadan and importing "again" in its steadobviously to imply that while the Prophet used previously to worship those idols, he now asserted that he would henceforth not do so "again". Such a meaning is totally unjustified by the text.
In addition to this twisting in the translation of the text Jeffery advances an excuse to circumvent th [sic] grammatical objections to applying the last sentence of the report, the neighbour's remark, "These were the idols which they used to worship, and then go to bed" to the Prophet and his wife by saying that a modern writer is likely to be meticulous in his use of duals and plurals "but anciently it was not so". He further says that the whole tradition would be pointless "if it does not refer to the household of Muhammad and Khadija, and if pressed we could always argue that the plural is used to include the family."
The excuse offered by Jeffery to disregard the grammatical objections is simply poor and unacceptable. The narrators of traditions do not at all appear to be such weaklings in Arabic usage as to be careless about the rules regarding duals and plurals in verbs. Jeffery himself betrays an awareness of the weakness of his position when he says: "if pressed we could always argue that the plural is used to include the family." Yes, the plural is used for the family, i.e. Khadījah's parental family or the Quraysh family in general, not the family constituted by Khadījah or her husband on their marriage.
The preceding hadith has been rather problematic to Muslim apologists like Muhammad Mohar Ali because it addresses the issue of Muhammads pagan worship prior to his so-called prophetic ministry at the age 40. Ironically, this same Muslim apologist tries to derive Muhammads monotheism from this hadith, when in fact the hadith says no such thing. He does this by mistranslating the Arabic text, thus giving the impression to those unfamiliar with Arabic grammar that the hadith says that Muhammad had always rejected the pagan deities Al-Lat and Al-Uzza. We will analyze this hadith in detail; we will examine the sentence structure and determine which of the two opposing interpretations is the most appropriate.
The first sentence that we must examine is Muhammads statement about the pagan deities Al-Lat and Al-Uzza. His words in Arabic are: "Ayya Khadīja wa Allahu la a`budu al-Lat wal Uzza, wa Allahu la a`budu abadan". We agree with M. M. Ali (and against Jeffery) that ‘abadan’ does not mean ‘again’. However, although Jeffery does not translate literally, his paraphrase at least conveys the intended meaning of the text. It is Ali's twisting of the Arabic that seeks to bend the narration completely out of shape. In English this sentence is properly translated as "O Khadija! By Allah I do not worship Al-Lat nor Al-Uzza. By Allah I do not worship (them) at all."
The critical word here is "abudu" which is the present tense (fiil mudari) of the word "abada" or "worshiped" in English. This word appears twice in the sentence and in both cases it is rendered in the present tense. Although the first use of the verb "abudu" is only talking about the present tense, Muhammad Mohar Ali has tried to extend the time span so that this verb covers also all past times until the present by stating,
"And as it cannot be assumed that the Prophet was simply saying that he was at the moment not engaged in the act of worshipping these idols, the first half of the statement must be taken to be an assertion of his habit and practice and the second half as an emphatic refusal to do so in future. In other words the Prophet stated that it was not his practice to worship those idols nor would he ever worship them."
Notice that Muhammad Mohar Ali did not provide a single reason why this present tense verb "abudu" should include all previous times. Such a conclusion by Muhammad Mohar Ali is not only unwarranted, it is actually contradictory to the hadith itself; as will be shown later in this article. Mr. Ali has tried to conclude that the first use of the verb implies Muhammads denial that he worshipped pagan idols from past times till the present and the second use of the verb implies Muhammads assertion that he will never worship these pagan idols in the future. The Arabic word structure of this sentence implies no such thing.
The first use of the word "abudu" in this sentence is strictly speaking about the present condition. It implies nothing whatsoever about what occurred in the past (as Mr. Ali tried to conclude). If Muhammad wanted to imply that he never worshipped any idol in the past, he would have used the phrase, "lam abud" meaning "I have not worshipped", where the word "lam" indicates what has occurred in the past but the word "abud" is still in the present tense. This would be the correct rendering of the phrase if Muhammad wanted to make a statement about him never worshipping any idol from the past till the present. But did he use this phrase? Absolutely not! He was only commenting on his present condition that he does not CURRENTLY worship Al-Lat and Al-Uzza.
Now let us look at the second use of the word "abudu" followed by the word "abadan". It has been argued by Muhammad Mohar Ali that the second use of the verb "abudu" signifies that this is in reference to the future, especially because the word is attached to the adverb "abadan", meaning "at all". However, this conclusion it not correct at all because in the Arabic language there already exists another word "lan" to signify that an action will not take place in the future.
Let me illustrate the difference in an example. Let us assume that I used to eat bread in my earlier years, but due to digestion problems, I am now unable or unwilling to eat bread if it was presented to me. If I wanted to make this statement in Arabic to my wife Khadija I would say:
"Ayya Khadīja wa Allahu la akulu al-khubza, wa Allahu la akulu 'abadan."
In English this phrase would be translated as:
"O Khadija! By Allah I dont eat bread. By Allah I dont eat (it) at all."
This phrase makes no denial whatsoever about the fact that I used to eat bread in earlier years. The present tense of the word eat in this sentence is "akulu" and it is repeated again with the word "abadan" or "at all" next to it in the phrase "akulu abadan". This sentence does NOT imply that even if things change I will still never eat bread again in the future, it merely says that as things stand right now, I do not eat bread at all.
This sentence structure is identical to the one found in the hadith, yet Muslims need to twist the translation and interpretation by reading into it what it does not say.
If Muhammad truly wanted to say that he had never worshipped idols in the past and will never do so in the future, he would have had to use the words "lam" to signify everything that has happened in the past and the word "lan" to imply that he will never worship idols in the future. The Arabic sentence would thus read as follows:
"Ayya Khadīja wa Allahu lam a`buda al-Lat wal 'Uzza, wa Allahu lan a`buda 'abadan."
But notice here how the hadith phrases it:
"Ayya Khadīja wa Allahu la a`budu al-Lat wal 'Uzza, wa Allahu la a`budu 'abadan."
In both cases the hadith uses the phrase "la" but never "lam" or "lan". Both these words, "lan" and "lam", are called "adat Nafi" in Arabic and their function is to negate the verb that follows them. The difference between these two words is that the former addresses what happened in the past and the latter addresses what will happen in the future.
We will now turn to the Qur'an to see that the words "lam" or "lan" had to be used in order to imply that an event did not or will not occur in the future, based on a sentence that has two present tense verbs (fiil mudari) followed by the word "abadan".
Sura 2:94-95 reads "Kul in kanat lakumu al-daru al-akhira inda Allahi khalisatan min duni al-nas fa-tamanu al-mouta in kuntum sadikin. Wa lan yatamanuhu abadan".
"If the Last Home with Allah, be for you specially, and not for anyone else, then seek ye for death, if ye are sincere.  But they will never seek for death."
In the preceding verse, the present tense word for "seek" is "yatamanu" which is also given as a command in the present tense in the first instance. The verb in the second instance is followed by the word "abadan" which is correctly translated as "will never", similar to the sentence in the hadith, but the difference here is that the word "lan" precedes the verb "yatamana", asserting that such "seeking" will never happen in the future. If however, the word "la" was placed instead of the word "lan" (as is found in the hadith), then the translation would read,
"If the Last Home with Allah, be for you specially, and not for anyone else, then seek ye for death, if ye are sincere.  But they do not ever seek for death (or at all in the present time)."
A second example is found in sura 5:23-24 which reads:
"Ud-khulu alaihim al-baba, fa-itha dakhal-tumuhu fa inakum ghalibun Ya Musa, inna lan nad-khulaha abadan."
 "Then two of the men who feared (their Lord) unto whom Allah had been gracious said: Enter in upon them by the gate, for if ye enter by it, lo! Ye will be victorious. So put your trust (in Allah) if ye are indeed believers.  They said: O Moses! We will never enter (the land) while they are in it."
In this verse, the present tense for the word "enter" is "nad-khul" which is also given as a command in the first instance. The verb in the second instance is followed by the word "abadan" which is correctly translated as "will never", similar to the sentence in the hadith, but the difference here again is that the word "lan" precedes the verb "nad-khul", asserting that such "entering" will never happen in the future. If however, the word "la" was placed instead of the word "lan" (as is found in the hadith), then the translation would read, "O Moses! We are not able to enter at all while they are in it". It implies nothing about the future.
A third example is found in sura 18:57 which reads:
"Wa in tadihim ila al-huda, fa-lan yahtadu ithan abadan".
"If thou callest them to guidance, even then will they never accept guidance."
In this example, the first occurrence of the word guidance or "huda" is given as a noun in Arabic. However, the second occurrence of the word is given as a present tense verb followed by the word "abadan" which is translated as "never will they accept guidance." The important word here is "lan" because it makes it clear that even in the future, guidance will NEVER be sought.
In all the above examples, it is clear that the first use of the verb says NOTHING about what has occurred in the past, it merely states what is happening currently. Thus, Muhammad Mohar Alis claim that Muhammad had never worshiped pagan idols cannot be derived from this hadith. Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, merely said that he doesnt currently worship these idols and insisted on it twice.
What is interesting is that this same hadith has been narrated with a slight variation by Al-Hafith Al-Haithami, in his book "The Collection of the Excess." In this transmission the hadith reads:
Narrated by Urwah Ibn Al-Zubair who narrated that a neighbor of Khadija bint Khuwaylid heard the prophet (pbuh) say to Khadija, "O Khadija! By Allah I do not worship Al-Lat at all, by Allah I do not worship Al-Uzza at all!" Khadija replied, "Leave Al-Uzza." He said this was their idol which they used to worship after which they would lay down to sleep. This was narrated by Ahmad Ibn Hanbal and his disciples and by the men of Sahih (correct hadith).
مجمع الزوائد. - للحافظ الهيثمي
13861- عن عروة بن الزبير قال: حدثني جار لخديجة بنت خويلد قال: سمعت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول لخديجة: "أي خديجة، والله لا أعبد اللات أبداً، والله لا أعبد العزى أبداً". قال: تقول [خديجة]: خل العزى.
قال: وكان صنمهم الذي يعبدون ثم يضطجعون.
رواه أحمد ورجاله رجال الصحيح.
Unlike the hadith of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, this narration does not have the same verb "abudu" repeated twice, with only the second occurrence having the word "abadan" added. This varied narration completely destroys the Muslim apologists argument that the first occurrence of the word worship or "abudu" implies everything from the past till the present and the second occurrence with the word "abadan" added refers to everything in the future.
The Arabic sentence in this phrase reads:
"Ayya Khadīja wa Allahu la a`budu al-Lat abadan. Wa Allahu la a`budu Al-Uzza abadan"
The correct translation would be:
"O Khadija! By Allah I do not worship Al-Lat at all, by Allah I do not worship Al-Uzza at all!"
Even if the Muslims wanted to make this verb apply to the future tense because of the addition of the word "abadan", then the translation would read:
"O Khadija! By Allah I will never worship Al-Lat, by Allah I will never worship Al-Uzza."
In either case, this says nothing whatsoever about what occurred in the past. From what we have presented so far it appears that at one point Muhammad in his past probably did worship these deities, but had now become disillusioned with them and no longer wished to continue worshipping them. The following discussion further clarifies this point and supports the above conclusion.
Unfortunately for Muslims, Muhammad Mohar Ali has not dealt with the embarrassing statement that Khadija made to Muhammad in response to his statement. She said, "Leave Al-Lat and leave Al-Uzza." The Arabic word "khali" is usually translated as "leave, abandon, let go or let alone." What Mr. Ali doesnt realize is that Khadijas statement makes absolutely no sense unless at some point Muhammad had indeed worshipped Al-Lat or Uzza. Khadija telling Muhammad to "stop" worshipping a deity he never worshipped in the first place does not make sense at all. She understood exactly what he was saying that he "no longer" worshipped these deities and as a result she told him, "then leave Al-Lat and Al-Uzza."
Khadijas statement is meant to comfort Muhammad by implying that Muhammad should not feel pressured to continue worshipping the idols if he no longer wished to do so. It is in this context that Khadijas statement makes sense. Mr. Alis unwillingness or inability to address Khadijas statement is indicative that his conclusions about this hadith are inaccurate.
Finally, there is a very clear proof that both Muhammad and his wife Khadija worshipped Al-Lat or Uzza (or both) found in the last sentence of the hadith, which reads:
"He (the neighbor) said this was their idol which they used to worship after which they would lay down to sleep."
Note here that the author of the hadith mentions the word idol in the singular form. This appears strange at first based on the earlier mention of the two idols, Al-Lat and Al-Uzza. The reason is probably that Khadija and her household were mainly worshippers of the Al-Uzza deity. This is evident when we consider Khadijas full name: Khadijah bint Khuwaylid ibn Asad ibn ABD AL-UZZA ibn Qusayy.
Abd Al-Uzza means servant of Al-Uzza. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that when Muhammad married Khadija, the same deity was still honored. Also, the second version of this hadith narrated by Al-Hafith Al-Haithami makes it clear that Khadija asked Muhammad to "leave Al-Uzza", which was the deity that was in front of her and Muhammad, near their bed. Maybe Muhammad had worshipped Al-Lat earlier in his life, or only at some sacred place outside their home, but inside their home they may have had only a statue of Al-Uzza.
Furthermore, the Muslim apologist has tried to argue that because the Arabic word for "their" in the preceding hadith is found in the plural, not dual form, it must therefore refer to Khadija and her pagan ancestors or to the Quraish tribe but not to Muhammad and Khadija as a couple. This is of course a red herring ploy used by Muslims to try and explain away a rather embarrassing admission that both Muhammad and Khadija did at some point worship these deities.
First, the context demands that this comment speaks of Muhammad and Khadija. The whole hadith is about them. A sudden change of referent (subject) would not happen without any indication or explanation. Furthermore, Muhammad had worked for Khadija for a considerable time before they got married. She got to know him well, and this rich widow proposed marriage to her poor employee Muhammad for the very reason that he had impressed her with many of his personal qualities. She knew him well before they married. These two lived in a religious center and it is incredible to assume that they never talked about their beliefs before marriage. It is a highly artificial construction to assume that Muhammad reveals to Khadija only after they are married for some time that he actually does not worship those local deities. No, the hadith only makes sense when read as reporting a change in Muhammad's conviction, how he tells Khadija about it, and her reaction to support his decision of leaving those idols.
Second, the Muslim excuse that in Arabic one would never refer to a couple (two people) using a plural pronoun actually condemns the Qur'an itself. Let us see examples from the Qur'an itself where a couple is being addressed, but the plural pronoun, not the dual, is used.
In sura 22:19 the verse in Arabic reads:
"Hathani Khasman ikh-tasamau fe rabihim"
"هذا نِ خَصْمَانِ اخْتَصَمُوا فِي رَبِّهِمْ"
In English this is translated as:
"These two antagonists dispute with each other about their Lord."
What the English translation doesnt show you is that the word rendered as "dispute" is actually "ikh-tasamau" which is a verb form used to address a plural (more than two individuals). But clearly here the verse mentions that two and only two people are antagonizing about their Lord. So to claim that no individual well-trained in classical Arabic would use a plural when referring to a dual actually insults the author of the Qur'an, whom Muslims believe to be God who wrote the Qur'an in perfect Arabic. So if Allah uses the plural pronoun when referring to less than three people, then it is surely acceptable for the authors of hadith also.
Here is another example from the Qur'an where the plural pronoun is actually used to refer to a single individual, much less a dual. Sura 2:17 reads in Arabic:
"Mathalahum kamathal al-lathy is-tawkada naran, fa-lama daat ma howlahu, tha-haba Allahu bi-nourihim."
"مَثَلُهُمْ كَمَثَلِ الذِي اسْتَوْقَدَ نَاراً فَلَمَّا أَضَاءَتْ مَا حَوْلَهُ ذَهَبَ اللهُ بِنُورِهِمْ"
In English this is translated as:
"Their similitude is that of a man who kindled a fire; when it lit all around him, Allah took away their light and left them in utter darkness."
Here the author of the Qur'an is talking about people who have gone astray and gives a parable of someone (singular) "الذِي" who lit a fire (also in the singular) "اسْتَوْقَد" and it lit all that was around him (singular) "حَوْلَهُ". Then Allah removed this light from around THEM "بِنُورِهِم". Here, the author of the Qur'an is still in the parable but uses the term THEM to describe HIM.
Since the Qur'an uses the plural pronoun when referring to both singular and dual groups, it is no surprise that the authors of the hadith also employ this methodology.
In light of this, Muhammad Ali has incriminated his god for failing to distinguish between duals and plurals. Allah, according to Ali, "appears to be such weakling in Arabic usage as to be careless about the rules regarding duals and plurals in verbs."
Besides, as Jeffery correctly noted, the plural can refer to Muhammad and his whole household, and that from that time onwards none of the members of Muhammads family ever worshiped Al-Lat and Uzza again.
In conclusion, the Muslim polemicists havent put forward any good arguments to refute what their own Muslim sources say about Muhammads idolatry. The evidence conclusively demonstrates that at one time Muhammad worshiped the pagan gods of his ancestors and only abandoned it as a result of his contact with Arab monotheists.
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