Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Evidence that Muhammad was a Sinful Transgressor

Sam Shamoun

In this article we are going to compile statements from the Quran and ahadith to show that Muhammad was a sinner who was doubtful about his ultimate fate. The purpose for doing so is to make it easier for Christians who witness to Muslims to be able to locate all of the passages that speak to Muhammad being an imperfect, fallible transgressor.  

As troublesome as this may be to Muslims, the fact is that their own authentic sources confirm Muhammad was a sinner who didn’t know whether Allah would be pleased with him at the end, or condemn him to an accursed and shameful death and judgment.

For example, Muhammad was not only reprimanded and ordered to seek forgiveness for his transgressions, and those of his followers,

And ask forgiveness of Allah; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. And do not plead on behalf of those who act unfaithfully to their souls; surely Allah does not love him who is treacherous, sinful; S. 4:106-107

Allah pardon you! Why did you give them leave until those who spoke the truth had become manifest to you and you had known the liars? S. 9:43

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) that there is no God save Allah, and ask forgiveness for thy sin and for believing men and believing women. Allah knoweth (both) your place of turmoil and your place of rest. S. 47:19 Pickthall

Lo! We have given thee (O Muhammad) a signal victory, That Allah may forgive thee of thy sin that which is past and that which is to come, and may perfect His favour unto thee, and may guide thee on a right path, S. 48:1-2

Then celebrate the praise of your Lord, and ask His forgiveness; surely He is oft-returning (to mercy). S. 110:3

He was also reprimanded severely for frowning upon a blind man in order to appease and give his undivided attention to a wealthy pagan disbeliever:

He frowned and turned (his) back, Because there came to him the blind man. And what would make you know that he would purify himself, Or become reminded so that the reminder should profit him? As for him who considers himself free from need (of you), To him do you address yourself. And no blame is on you if he would not purify himself And as to him who comes to you striving hard, And he fears, From him will you divert yourself. Nay! surely it is an admonishment. So let him who pleases mind it. S. 80:1-12

The Muslim scripture further speaks of Allah finding Muhammad lost in darkness and misguidance, and of having to remove Muhammad’s burden of sin:

And We raised from you your sin/load/burden. Which weighed heavily (on)/burdened your back. S. 94:2-3 Muhammad Ahmed – Samira 

Did He not find you astray, and guide you? S. 93:7 Ali Quli Qara’i

Contrast this with the following versions:

And He found you misguided so He guided (you)? Muhammad Ahmed – Samira 

And for the longest time (years) you were lost in darkness and live like a pagan and He revealed you the truth about the meaning of the life, why you are here, etc. Bijan Moeinian

Notice the explanation given by Muslim scholar and Quranic translator Muhammad Asad concerning this text:

2 I.e., "the burden of thy past sins, which are now forgiven" (Tabari, on the authority of Mujahid, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak and Ibn Zayd). In the case of Muhammad, this relates apparently to mistakes committed before his call to prophethood (ibid.), and is obviously an echo of 93:7 – “Has He not found thee lost on thy way, and guided thee?" (Asad, The Message of the Qur’an; bold emphasis ours) 

As if that wasn’t enough, Muhammad’s lord would constantly threaten to violently kill him, and subsequently torment him in hell, if he ever reverted back to his idolatrous ways, or if he failed to carry out his orders:

And surely they had purposed to turn you away from that which We have revealed to you, that you should forge against Us other than that, and then they would certainly have taken you for a friend. And had it not been that We had already established you, you would certainly have been near to incline to them a little; In that case We would certainly have made you to taste a double (punishment) in this life and a double (punishment) after death, then you would not have found any helper against Us. S. 17:73-75

O Prophet! be careful of (your duty to) Allah and do not comply with (the wishes of) the unbelievers and the hypocrites; surely Allah is Knowing, Wise; S. 33:1

And certainly, it has been revealed to you and to those before you: Surely if you associate (with Allah), your work would certainly come to naught and you would certainly be of the losers. S. 39:65

And if he had fabricated against Us some of the sayings, We would certainly have seized him by the right hand, Then We would certainly have cut off his aorta. And not one of you could have withheld Us from him. S. 69:44-47

Say: Surely no one can protect me against Allah, nor can I find besides Him any place of refuge: (It is) only a delivering (of communications) from Allah and His messages; and whoever disobeys Allah and His Apostle surely he shall have the fire of hell to abide therein for a long time. Until when they see what they are threatened with, then shall they know who is weaker in helpers and fewer in number. Say: I do not know whether that with which you are threatened be nigh or whether my Lord will appoint for it a term: S. 72:20-25

It therefore comes as no surprise that Muhammad remained uncertain regarding his final outcome:

Nay! they say: He has forged it. Say: If I have forged it, you do not control anything for me from Allah; He knows best what you utter concerning it; He is enough as a witness between me and you, and He is the Forgiving, the Merciful. Say: I am not the first of the apostles, and I do not know what will be done with me or with you: I do not follow anything but that which is revealed to me, and I am nothing but a plain warner. S. 46:8-9

The following supposed authentic narrations demonstrate that the above passage is speaking of Muhammad’s uncertainty concerning his eternal destiny:

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 was 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)


Narrated Abu Huraira: When Allah revealed the Verse: "Warn your nearest kinsmen," Allah's Apostle got up and said, "O people of Quraish (or said similar words)! Buy (i.e. save) yourselves (from the Hellfire) as I cannot save you from Allah's Punishment; O Bani Abd Manaf! I cannot save you from Allah's Punishment, O Safiya, the Aunt of Allah's Apostle! I cannot save you from Allah's Punishment; O Fatima bint Muhammad! Ask me anything from my wealth, but I cannot save you from Allah's Punishment." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 51, Number 16

Hence, Muhammad was the farthest thing from being the perfect man since he himself recognized his utter depravity, which is why he is reported to have stated that he would seek forgiveness for his sins up one hundred times a day! He is even depicted as constantly beseeching his deity to remove and wash away his sins from him:

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle used to keep silent between the Takbir and the recitation of Qur'an and that interval of silence used to be a short one. I said to the Prophet, "May my parents be sacrificed for you! What do you say in the pause between Takbir and recitation?" The Prophet said, "I say, 'Allahumma, ba'id baini wa baina khatayaya kama ba'adta baina-l-mashriqi wa-l-maghrib. Allahumma, naqqim min khatayaya kama yunaqqa-ththawbu-l-abyadu mina-ddanas. Allahumma, ighsil khatayaya bil-ma'i wa-th-thalji wal-barad (O Allah! Set me apart from my sins (faults) as the East and West are set apart from each other and clean me from sins as a white garment is cleaned of dirt (after thorough washing). O Allah! Wash off my sins with water, snow and hail.)” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 12, Number 711)

Narrated 'Aisha: The Prophet used to say FREQUENTLY in his bowing and prostrations, "Subhanaka-Allahumma Rabbana Wabihamdika, Allahumma Ighfir-li (I honor Allah from all what (unsuitable things) is ascribed to Him, O Allah! Our Lord! All praises are for You. O Allah! Forgive me).” In this way he was acting on what was explained to him in the Holy Qur'an. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 12, Number 781)

Narrated Abu Huraira: I heard Allah's Apostle saying: “By Allah! I ask for forgiveness from Allah and turn to Him in repentance more than seventy times a day." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 75, Number 319)

Al-Agharr al-Muzani who was from amongst the Companions of Allah's Apostle reported that Ibn 'Umar stated to him that Allah's Messenger said: O people, seek repentance from Allah. Verily, I seek repentance from Him a hundred times a day. (Sahih Muslim, Book 035, Number 6523)

There are plenty more hadiths that depict Muhammad as a sinner in need of Allah’s mercy and forgiveness:

Narrated by 'Aisha: I heard the Prophet and listened to him before his death while he was leaning his back on me and saying, "O Allah! Forgive me, and bestow Your Mercy on me, and let me meet the companions." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 724)

“… So they will go to him and he will say, 'I am not fit for this undertaking.' And he will mention (his) killing a person who was not a killer, and so he will feel ashamed thereof before his Lord, and he will say, 'Go to Jesus, Allah's Slave, His Apostle and Allah's Word and a Spirit coming from Him. Jesus will say, 'I am not fit for this undertaking, go to Muhammad the Slave of Allah whose past and future sins were forgiven by Allah.'…” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 3)

“A group of three men came to the houses of the wives of the Prophet asking how the Prophet worshipped (Allah), and when they were informed about that, they considered their worship insufficient and said, ‘Where are we from the Prophet as his past and future sins have been forgiven.’…” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 1)

Narrated Abu Musa: The Prophet used to invoke Allah with the following invocation: 'Rabbi-ghfir-li Khati 'ati wa jahli wa israfi fi amri kullihi, wa ma anta a'lamu bihi minni. Allahumma ighfirli khatayaya wa 'amdi, wa jahli wa jiddi, wa kullu dhalika'indi. Allahumma ighrifli ma qaddamtu wa ma akhartu wa ma asrartu wa ma a'lantu. Anta-l-muqaddimu wa anta-l-mu'akh-khiru, wa anta 'ala kulli shai'in qadir (O my Lord! Forgive my sins and my ignorance. Forgive my sins of the past and of the future which I did openly or secretly…).’” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 75, Number 407)

And here is a tradition where Muhammad’s companions from Medina assumed that Muhammad was unjustly distributing the spoils of war by favoring the Quraish over them, even though they had supported and took him in at the time when the Quraish were persecuting him:

Narrated by Anas bin Malik: When Allah favored His Apostle with the properties of Hawazin tribe as Fai (booty), he started giving to some Quraish men even up to one-hundred camels each, whereupon some Ansari men said about Allah's Apostle, "May Allah forgive His Apostle! He is giving to (men of) Quraish and leaves us, in spite of the fact that our swords are still dropping blood (of the infidels)." When Allah's Apostle was informed of what they had said, he called the Ansar and gathered them in a leather tent and did not call anybody else along, with them. When they gathered, Allah's Apostle came to them and said, "What is the statement which, I have been informed, and that which you have said?" The learned ones among them replied," O Allah's Apostle! The wise ones amongst us did not say anything, but the youngsters amongst us said, 'May Allah forgive His Apostle; he gives the Quraish and leaves the Ansar, in spite of the fact that our swords are still dribbling (wet) with the blood of the infidels.'” Allah's Apostle replied, “I give to such people as are still close to the period of Infidelity (i.e. they have recently embraced Islam and Faith is still weak in their hearts). Won't you be pleased to see people go with fortune, while you return with Allah's Apostle to your houses? By Allah, what you will return with, is better than what they are returning with." The Ansar replied, "Yes, O Allah's Apostle, we are satisfied.” Then the Prophet said to them, "You will find after me, others being preferred to you. Then be patient till you meet Allah and meet His Apostle at Al-Kauthar (i.e. a fount in Paradise)." (Anas added:) But we did not remain patient. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 53, Number 375)

Suffice it to say, this narration shows that Muhammad’s companions did not think their leader was impeccable, but correctly assumed that he was a man who was able to commit sins like anyone else.

Hence, the Islamic sources are quite emphatic that Muhammad was an imperfect fallible human being who committed sins that needed to be forgiven, and who was constantly being rebuked and threatened by his deity that he would be killed and thrown into hell if he failed to achieve his objective. This should really trouble Muslims who have been taught that Muhammad is the best of all creation and the perfect man.


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