THE SATANIC VERSES AND THEIR IMPLICATIONS

By Samuel Green

In 1989 the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the death of Salman Rushdie after Rushdie published a book entitled, The Satanic Verses[1]. The title of the book came from an event in Muhammad's life. The Islamic sources call this event, The Story of the Cranes. This event is fully recorded and accepted as authentic by the earliest Islamic scholars: Ibn Ishaq[2], Ibn Sa'd[3]. Al-Tabari[4] and Ibn Taymiyyah[5] also accepts the event as authentic. Bukhari[6] gives a partial account.

The Satanic verses incident is narrated in numerous reports (between 18 and 25, depending on how one reckons an independent riwayah) scattered in the sirah nabawiyyah and tafsir literature originating in the first two centuries of Islam. The indications are that the incident formed a fairly standard element in the historical memory of the early Muslim community regarding the life of its founder. (Shahab Ahmed, Ibn Taymiyyah and the Satanic Verses, p. 70)

That is, the Satanic Verses event is not some obscure event recorded in only one place. It is in fact well recorded in the early Islamic literature by many independent transmitters.

In this article I will consult the early Islamic scholars. Ibn Ishaq is the oldest account of Muhammad's life and his complete account is provided as an appendix. While this event is well documented in Islamic sources current day Islamic leaders rarely tell Muslims or the general public about it.

THE CONTEXT OF THE SATANIC VERSES

When Muhammad first began preaching in Mecca his desire was that the people of Mecca, the Quraysh, would accept him as a prophet and the religion he was teaching. They were not receptive to him and made life difficult for him and his followers, and many of his followers fled to Christian Abyssinia for protection. This was until Muhammad recited Surah 53 (Surat-an-Najm) with the following verses:

Have you thought of al-Lat and al-Uzza and Manat, the third ... these are the exalted Gharaniq (a high flying bird)[7] whose intercession is approved. (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, pp. 165-166)

Al-Lat, al-Uzza and Manat were some of the local idols worshiped in Mecca. Previously Muhammad had spoken against them in his monotheist preaching but now he recited that their "intercession is approved".

When (the) Quraysh heard that, they were delighted and greatly pleased at the way in which he spoke of their gods and they listened to him ... Then the people dispersed and Quraysh went out, delighted at what had been said about their gods, saying, "Muhammad has spoken of our gods in splendid fashion". (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, p. 166)
The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, repeated them (the verses), and he went on reciting the whole of surah (53) and then fell in prostration, and the people (the Quraysh) fell in prostration with him. (Ibn Sa'd, Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir, vol. 1, p. 237)

Imam Bukhari too confirms that after Muhammad recited Surah 53 the Quraysh accepted Muhammad and prayed with him:

Narrated Ibn Abbas: The Prophet ... prostrated while reciting An-Najm (Sura 53) and with him prostrated the Muslims, the pagans (the Quraysh), the jinns, and all human beings. (Bukhari: vol. 2, bk. 19, no. 177, Khan)

Muhammad's desire had been realised; the Quraysh accepted him. The Muslims who had fled to Abyssinia heard about this and many of them began to return to Mecca. The Quraysh accepted Muhammad because he had, "spoken of (their) gods in splendid fashion" (Ibn Ishaq, p. 166). The Islamic explanation as to why Muhammad accepted the idols is that he desired a way to attract the Quraysh and Satan used this opportunity to put these words on Muhammad's lips:

Now the apostle was anxious for the welfare of his people, wishing to attract them as far as he could. It has been mentioned that he longed for a way to attract them ... (and) Satan, when he (Muhammad) was meditating upon it, and desiring to bring it (sc. reconciliation) to his people, put upon his tongue "these are the exalted Gharaniq[6] whose intercession is approved". (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, pp. 165-166)

This is what is meant by the phrase, the Satanic Verses; they were words that Muhammad spoke from Satan and his own desire. The Islamic accounts then say that the angel Gabriel rebuked Muhammad for what he had said:

Then Gabriel came to the apostle and said , "What have you done, Muhammad? You have read to these people something I did not bring you from God and you have said what He did not say to you." (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, p. 166)

Then Muhammad confessed:

I ascribed to Allah, what He had not said. (Ibn Sa'd, Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir, vol. 1, p. 237)

I have fabricated things against God and have imputed to Him words which He has not spoken. (Al-Tabari, The History of Al-Tabari, vol. vi, p. 111)

Muhammad then announced that Gabriel had now told him to speak against the idols and so what he recited changed. Previously it had been:

Have you thought of al-Lat and al-Uzza and Manat, the third ... these are the exalted Gharaniq whose intercession is approved. (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, pp. 165-166)

Now the verse became:

Have you considered El-Lat and El-'Uzza and Manat the third, the other? What, have you males, and He females? That were indeed an unjust division. They are naught but names yourselves have named, and your fathers; God has sent down no authority touching them. (Qur'an 53:19-23, Arberry)

This final form of the verse is what is now in the modern Qur'an.

The Quraysh saw that Muhammad had now changed his message:

When the annulment of what Satan had put upon the prophet's tongue came from God, (the) Quraysh said: "Muhammad has repented of what he said about the position of your gods with Allah, altered it and brought something else." (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, pp. 166-167)

This explanation, that Satan had placed these words on Muhammad tongue and God had now cancelled it, now had to be justified to both his followers and to the Quraysh. The answer came by referring to another part of the Qur'an:

Never have We sent a single prophet or apostle before you with whose wishes Satan did not tamper. But God abrogates the interjections of Satan and confirms His own revelations. (Qur'an 22:52, Dawood)

Muhammad's justification was that other prophets had had their wishes tampered with by Satan just as he had done, but God had corrected the whole situation.

COMMENTS AND IMPLICATIONS OF THE SATANIC VERSES

1. It is consistent with the Qur'an.

The Qur'an says that other prophets also listened to Satan. Adam is said to be a prophet (2:37) and he listened and acted upon what Satan said to him in the garden.

Then Satan whispered to him saying, 'Adam, shall I point you to the Tree of Eternity, and a Kingdom that decays not?' So the two of them ate of it, and their shameful parts revealed to them, and they took to stitching upon themselves leaves of the Garden. And Adam disobeyed his Lord, and so he erred. (Qur'an 20:120-121, Arberry. Also 7:20)

This is consistent with the event of the Satanic Verses where Muhammad listens to Satan and acts upon what he heard.

Again we see this with Aaron. Aaron is said to be a prophet (4:163) yet he was involved with the golden calf:

And when Musa (Moses) returned to his people, angry and grieved, he said: "What an evil thing is that which you have done (i.e. worshipping the calf) during my absence. Did you hasten and go ahead as regards the matter of your Lord (you left His worship)?" And he threw down the Tablets and seized his brother Aaron by (the hair of) his head and dragged him towards him. (Qur'an 7:150, Hilali-Khan)

In fact the Qur'an says that all of the prophets had their desires affected by Satan:

Never have We sent a single prophet or apostle before you with whose wishes Satan did not tamper. But God abrogates the interjections of Satan and confirms His own revelations. (Qur'an 22:52, Dawood)

Therefore, it cannot be argued from the Qur'an that a prophet would be incapable of doing this because the Qur'an says other prophets acted this way too.

2. It is consistent with abrogation.

The event of the Satanic Verses shows how a verse in the Qur'an could be modified or deleted at a later date. This is an example of the Qur'anic doctrine of abrogation. The Hadith also records several other occasions where verses of the Qur'an were modified, added to or deleted.

Narrated Al-Bara: There was revealed: "Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and those who strive and fight in the Cause of Allah." (Qur'an 4:95)
The Prophet said, "Call Zaid for me and let him bring the board, the inkpot and the scapula bone (or the scapula bone and the ink pot)." Then he said, "Write: Not equal are those Believers who sit ...", and at that time 'Amr bin Um Maktum, the blind man was sitting behind the Prophet. He said, "O Allah's Apostle! What is your order for me (as regards the above Verse) as I am a blind man?" So, instead of the above verse, the following verse was revealed:
"Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame etc.) and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah." (Qur'an 4:95) (Bukhari: vol. 6, bk. 61, no. 512, Khan, agreed)

This account clearly records the revision of 4:95 from its initial to final form. This type of modification is exactly what happened in the account of the Satanic Verses.

Here is another example.

Narrated Sahl bin Saud: When the following verses were revealed: "Eat and drink until the white thread appears to you, distinct from the black thread" (2:187) and "of dawn" was not revealed, some people who intended to fast, tied black and white threads to their legs and went on eating till they differentiated between the two. Allah then revealed the words, "of dawn", and it became clear that meant night and day. (Bukhari: vol. 3, bk. 31, no. 141, Khan)

And another example.

Narrated Said bin Jubair: Ibn Abza said to me, "Ask Ibn 'Abbas regarding the Statement of Allah: ... '... nor kill such life as Allah has forbidden, except for a just cause ... except those who repent, believe, and do good deeds.'" (25.68-70) So I asked Ibn 'Abbas and he said, "When this (25.68-69) was revealed, the people of Mecca said, "We have invoked other gods with Allah, and we have murdered such lives which Allah has made sacred, and we have committed illegal sexual intercourse. So Allah revealed: 'Except those who repent, believe, and do good deeds and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.' (25.70) (Bukhari: vol. 6, bk. 60, no. 288, Khan)

And another example. In this case the verse was removed (cancelled) from the Qur'an altogether.

Narrated Anas: ... We used to recite, "Inform our people that we have met our Lord, He is pleased with us and He has made us pleased". Later on this Quranic verse was cancelled. (Bukhari: vol. 4, bk. 52, no. 57, Khan)

Thus the Satanic Verses are not the only example of where the Qur'an was revised and modified. The modification of the Qur'an was a characteristic of how it developed. In fact, enough verses were modified or deleted that it made people doubt Muhammad was a genuine prophet and the issue had to be dealt with in the Qur'an:

And when We exchange a verse in the place of another verse - and God knows very well what he is sending down - they say (to Muhammad), "Thou art a mere forger!" (Qur'an 16:101, Arberry)

Therefore the incident of the Satanic Verses is consistent with the doctrine of abrogation.

3. The Satanic Verses and History.

(T)he Satanic verses incident constituted a standard element in the historical memory of the Muslim community in the first 150 years of Islam, and was recorded by almost all prominent scholars working in the fields of tafsir and sirah-Maghazi. (Shahab Ahmed, The Satanic Verses Incident in the Memory of the Early Muslim Community - An Analysis of the Early Riwayahs and their Isnads, p. i)
The Satanic verses incident is narrated in numerous reports (between 18 and 25, depending on how one reckons an independent riwayah) scattered in the sirah nabawiyyah and tafsir literature originating in the first two centuries of Islam. The indications are that the incident formed a fairly standard element in the historical memory of the early Muslim community regarding the life of its founder. (Shahab Ahmed, Ibn Taymiyyah and the Satanic Verses, p. 70)

We have also seen that Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Sa'd and Al-Tabari all accepted the event as real, and that Bukhari gives a partial account. Therefore there is no historical reason to doubt that the Satanic Verses happened. It has 18-25 independent chains of narration, which is a lot. It was "a standard element of the historical memory of the Muslim community". It is accepted by great Islamic scholars.

Muslims who reject the authencity of the Satanic Verses do so on theological grounds not historical grounds. They believe it is impossible for Muhammad to sin therefore try to discredit the abundant history which testify to this event. Shahab Ahmed details how in the second Islamic century the doctrine of the infallibility of the prophets developed and as a result the events of the Satanic Verses became problematic for Islamic scholars. They responded by claiming that all 18-25 independent chains of narration (isnads) were weak but Ibn Taymiyyah rejected this view and accepted the reports as sound.

We have noted how, in the first two centuries of Islam, the Satanic verses incident constituted a standard and widespread element in the historical memory of the early Muslim community with regard to the life of its founder. This element of the early historical memory, like many others, proved problematic in the context of the systematization of Islamic doctrine between the 3rd and 6th Islamic centuries. By Ibn Taymiyyah's day, the majority of Muslim scholars were rejecting the historicity of the Satanic verses narratives on the twin bases of their weak isnads and the incompatibility of the incident with the principle of Prophetic infallibility. ... Ibn Taymiyyah, against the majoritarian opinion of the scholars of his day, accepted the historicity of the Satanic verses as something wholly consonant with Muhammad's status and mission as the Messenger of God. He asserted that belief in the incident was the position of the early Muslims, the salaf, and thus the original and authentic truth. (Shahab Ahmed, Ibn Taymiyyah and the Satanic Verses, p. 122)

There is ample evidence to show that the Satanic Verses happened. Many famous Muslim scholars accepted that it did happen. Those who reject it do so because they believe a prophet could not sin this way. However, this is to edit history to make it fit your view of Muhammad. We must not do this. Our view of Muhammad should come from history and not from what we would like him to be.

4. It is consistent with how Muhammad's desires inspired the Qur'an.

In all of the Islamic accounts of the Satanic Verses the account begins with Muhammad's desire to see the Quraysh accept him as a prophet:

Now the apostle was anxious for the welfare of his people, wishing to attract them as far as he could. ... he meditated on the project and longed for it and it was dear to him. (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, p. 165)

He was one day sitting alone when he expressed a desire: I wish, Allah had not revealed to me anything distasteful to them. (Ibn Sa'd, Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir, p. 237)

The Messenger of God was eager for the welfare of his people and wished to effect a reconciliation with them in whatever ways he could. ... he longed in his soul that something would come to him from God which would reconcile him with his tribe. ... and he debated with himself and fervently desired such and outcome. (Al-Tabari, The History of Al-Tabari, vol. vi, pp. 107-108)

From this starting point the rest of the events of the Satanic Verses occur. However there are other examples of where Muhammad's desire, and that of his companions, led to "revelations" from Allah. Consider these four examples.

1. The Direction of Islamic Prayer

Originally Muhammad prayed facing Jerusalem, but he wished for the direction to be change. Then he received a "revelation" from Allah saying to now pray facing Mecca.

Narrated Al-Bara: The Prophet prayed facing Bait-ulMaqdis (i.e. Jerusalem) for sixteen or seventeen months but he wished that his Qibla would be the Ka'ba (at Mecca). So Allah Revealed (2.144) and he offered 'Asr prayers (in his Mosque facing Ka'ba at Mecca) and some people prayed with him. ... (Bukhari: vol. 6, bk. 60, no. 13, Khan)

(N)ow We will surely turn thee (Muhammad) to a direction that shall satisfy thee. Turn thy face towards the Holy Mosque; and wherever you are, turn your faces towards it. (Qur'an 2:144, Arberry)

2. When Allah Agreed with Umar

Here are three occasions when the desires and sometimes exact words of Umar, Muhammad's companion, became revelations from Allah.

Narrated 'Umar (bin Al-Khattab): My Lord agreed with me in three things:

1. I said,"O Allah's Apostle, I wish we took the station of Abraham as our praying place (for some of our prayers). So came the Divine Inspiration: And take you (people) the station of Abraham as a place of prayer (for some of your prayers e.g. two Rakat of Tawaf of Ka'ba)". (Qur'an 2:125)

2. And as regards the (verse of) the veiling of the women, I said, "O Allah's Apostle! I wish you ordered your wives to cover themselves from the men because good and bad ones talk to them." So the verse of the veiling of the women was revealed. (Qur'an 24:31)

3. Once the wives of the Prophet made a united front against the Prophet and I said to them, "It may be if he (the Prophet) divorced you, (all) that his Lord (Allah) will give him instead of you wives better than you." So this verse (the same as I had said) was revealed." (Qur'an 66:5). (Bukhari: vol. 1, bk. 8, no. 395, Khan)

3. Muhammad's Sexual Privileges

In Surah 33 we read of Muhammad's sexual privileges.

Prophet, We have made lawful to you the wives to whom you have granted dowries and the slave-girls whom Allah had given you as booty; the daughters of your paternal and maternal uncles and of your paternal and maternal aunts who fled with you; and any believing woman who gives herself to the Prophet and whom the Prophet wishes to take in marriage. The privilege is yours alone, being granted to no other believer. (Qur’an 33:50, Dawood)

The astonishing thing about this revelation is that Muhammad is given unique sexual privileges that no other Muslim was to have! This is normally the type of behaviour we associate with a cult leader. This privilege is seen in the next verse too, for Muhammad had many wives and there was an agreed roster by which he was shared among them. But in 33:51 Muhammad is given a special revelation so that he does not have to fulfil his sexual duties to his wives according to this roster. It is very interesting to read Aisha's response to this revelation:

Narrated Aisha: ... (W)hen Allah revealed: "You (O Muhammad) can postpone (the turn of) whom you will of them (your wives), and you may receive any of them whom you will; and there is no blame on you if you invite one whose turn you have set aside (temporarily).' (Quran 33:51) I said (to the Prophet), "I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires." (Bukhari: vol. 6, bk. 60, no. 311, Khan)

4. Muhammad Taking Zaynab as His Wife

Muhammad had an adopted son named Zayd. Zayd had a beautiful wife named Zaynab.

One day the Messenger of God went out looking for Zayd. Now there was a covering of haircloth over the doorway, but the wind had lifted the covering so that the doorway was uncovered. Zaynab was in her chamber, undressed, and admiration for her entered the heart of the Prophet. (Al-Tabari, The History of Al-Tabari, vol. viii, p. 4)

Muhammad saw his daughter-in-law undressed in her house and "admiration for her entered (his) heart". But there was a terrible problem, she was his daughter-in-law, the wife of his adopted son. Muhammad's desires were obvious to Zayd and so Zayd offered to divorce Zaynab so that Muhammad could have her. Initially Muhammad refused as it was considered shameful in the pre-Islamic culture, as it is in many cultures, to marry your daughter-in-law. But then Muhammad claimed that Allah had saved him from this problem. First he said that Allah had cancelled all adoptions.

(N)either has He made your adopted sons your sons in fact. (Qur'an 33:4, Arberry)

This meant that Zayd was no longer Muhammad's son and that Zaynab was no longer his daughter-in-law. Then he said that Allah had given Zaynab to him.

So when Zaid had accomplished what he would of her (divorced her), then We gave her in marriage to you (Muhammad). (Qur'an 33:37, Arberry)

Thus, what began with the desires Muhammad had when he saw Zaynab undressed, ended with revelations from Allah annulling adoption and the giving of Zaynab to Muhammad. This example, and the others I have given in this section, and the event of the Satanic Verses, convince me that Muhammad prophesied from his own desires and this is why I do not accept him as a prophet.

5. It is consistent with Muhammad's practice of incorporating the pre-Islamic religion into Islam.

In this event we see that Muhammad tried to incorporate the pre-Islamic gods into Islam so as to make it easier for his tribe to accept him. Muhammad actually did this on many occasions, and so we see that the Satanic Verses are just one example of this. Here are four other examples where Muhammad successfully incorporated the pre-Islamic religion into Islam.

1. Fasting

Muhammad initially continued the pre-Islamic time for fasting:

Narrated 'Aisha: 'Ashura' (i.e. the tenth of Muharram) was a day on which the tribe of Quraish used to fast in the pre-Islamic period of ignorance. The Prophet also used to fast on this day. So when he migrated to Medina, he fasted on it and ordered (the Muslims) to fast on it. When the fasting of Ramadan was enjoined, it became optional for the people to fast or not to fast on the day of Ashura. (Bukhari: vol. 5, bk. 58, no. 172, Khan)

2. The Black Stone

The pre-Islamic religion was animistic with special attention to sacred stones:

Narrated Abu Raja Al-Utaridi: We used to worship stones, and when we found a better stone than the first one, we would throw the first one and take the latter, but if we could not get a stone then we would collect some earth (i.e. soil) and then bring a sheep and milk that sheep over it, and perform the Tawaf around it. ... (Bukhari: vol. 5, bk. 59, no. 661, Khan)

The most sacred stone in the pre-Islamic religion was the Black Stone. It was part of the Ka'ba in Mecca. Even though the worship of stones is animistic Muhammad continued this practice. Some of the early Muslims found this very uncomfortable and wanted reform:

Narrated Zaid bin Aslam from his father who said: "Umar bin Al-Khattab addressed the Corner (Black Stone) saying, 'By Allah! I know that you are a stone and can neither benefit nor harm. Had I not seen the Prophet touching (and kissing) you, I would never have touched (and kissed) you.' Then he kissed it and said, 'There is no reason for us to do Ramal (a special style of walking) (in Tawaf) except that we wanted to show off before the pagans, and now Allah has destroyed them.' 'Umar added, '(Nevertheless), the Prophet did that and we do not want to leave it (i.e. Ramal).'" (Bukhar: vol. 2, bk. 26, no. 675, Khan)

3. As-Safa and Al-Marwa

The pre-Islamic religion also had a special walk that was done between the mountains of Safa and Marwa in Mecca. Muhammad continued this practice too. Again, some of the early Muslims were uncomfortable with this and thought that this pagan practice should be stopped. Later Muhammad transformed the meaning of these mountains to be "symbols of Allah":

Narrated 'Asim: I asked Anas bin Malik: "Did you use to dislike to perform Tawaf between Safa and Marwa?" He said, "Yes, as it was of the ceremonies of the days of the Pre-Islamic period of ignorance, till Allah revealed: 'Verily! (The two mountains) As-Safa and Al-Marwa are among the symbols of Allah. It is therefore no sin for him who performs the pilgrimage to the Ka'ba, or performs 'Umra, to perform Tawaf between them.'" (2.158) (Bukhari: vol. 2, bk. 26, no. 710, Khan)

4. Incantations

Incantations were part of the animistic pre-Islamic religion. Muhammad allowed this practice to continue as long as the incantations were transformed to be Islamic:

'Auf b. Malik Ashja'i reported We practised incantation in the pre-Islamic days and we said: Allah's Messenger, what is your opinion about it? He said: Let me know your incantation and said: There is no harm in the incantation which does not smack of polytheism. (Muslim: bk. 26, no. 5457, Siddiqui)

Thus, it was Muhammad's methodology to incorporate as much of the pre-Islamic religion as possible. He did this to make it easier for the Arabs to accept Islam. The event of the Satanic Verses is an example of this, although in this case it did not work.

6. Satan produced a surah like it.

One of the proofs that Islamic leaders give that the Qur'an is miraculous is that no one is able to produce a surah like. This challenge is found in the Qur'an itself:

And if you are in doubt concerning that We have sent down on Our servant, then bring a sura like it. (Qur'an 2:23, Arberry)

They say the Qur'an is miraculous in beauty and no one can make anything to compare to it. However, the event of the Satanic Verses casts doubt over this claim. For in this event Muhammad spoke words from Satan but everyone thought these verses were part of the Qur'an for

the believers were holding that what their prophet brought from their Lord was true, not suspecting a mistake or a vain desire or slip. (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, p. 166)

Thus the Islamic sources record that Satan produced verses which sounded exactly like those of the Qur'an. If they did not sound like the Qur'an then surely Muhammad, his followers and the Quraysh would never have accepted them?

7. The Prophet Like Moses

I (God) will raise up for them a prophet like you (Moses) from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. (Deuteronomy 18:18, NIV)

Islamic leaders often refer to Deuteronomy 18:18 as evidence that Muhammad is predicted in the Bible. They say that Muhammad is the prophet like Moses[9]. But the Islamic leaders who make this claim should also read the verse in context for Deuteronomy 18:20 says:

But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death. (Deuteronomy 18:20, NIV)

When Deuteronomy 18:20 is considered in the light of the Satanic Verses it is clear that Muhammad is not a prophet like Moses, for Muhammad did the two things that this verse says a true prophet must not do:

1. He presumed to speak something that God had not commanded him to say. Muhammad himself said:

I ascribed to Allah, what He had not said. (Ibn Sa'd, Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir, vol. 1, p. 237)

I have fabricated things against God and have imputed to Him words which He has not spoken. (Al-Tabari, The History of Al-Tabari, vol. vi, p. 111)

2. Muhammad spoke in the name of other gods when he spoke the words of Satan and said that the false gods where true.

Therefore Muhammad is not the prophet like Moses, in fact Deuteronomy 18:18-20 says he is a false prophet.

8. Muhammad committed a serious sin.

Accepting idolatry and polytheism is sin, and for a short period of time, while he was claiming to be a prophet, Muhammad did this. It is true that Muhammad confessed and repented, this is to his credit, but this event still shows a great failing in his life. This event must not be ignored because it is inconvenient or thought irrelevant, for it shows that Muhammad was like you and me; he had to confess his sins and ask for forgiveness:

(Muhammad prayed) O Allah! Forgive my mistakes and my ignorance and my exceeding the limit (boundaries) of righteousness in my deeds; and forgive whatever You know better than I. O Allah! Forgive the wrong I have done jokingly or seriously, and forgive my accidental and intentional errors, all that is present in me. (Bukhari: vol. 8, bk. 75, no. 408, Khan)
So know (O Muhammad) that there is no God save Allah, and ask forgiveness for thy sin and for believing men and women (Qur'an 47:19, Pickthall)

9. Jesus and Muhammad

Muhammad was tempted to acknowledge false gods in order to achieve his desire of the Quraysh accepting him. He gave in to this temptation and acknowledged their gods. Jesus too was tempted to achieve his desire to rule as Christ by acknowledging false gods, but when Satan tempted Jesus,

Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'" (Matthew 4:10, NIV)

Jesus was tempted by Satan in exactly the same way that Muhammad was, but unlike Muhammad Jesus never sinned. Jesus succeeded where Muhammad failed. How different Jesus is to Muhammad!

He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth (1 Peter 2:22, NIV).

(He) has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin (Hebrews 4:15, NIV).

Jesus is the only person who has offered perfect submission to God. He is higher than Muhammad.

APPENDIX: IBN ISHAQ'S ACCOUNT OF THE SATANIC VERSES

Now the apostle was anxious for the welfare of his people, wishing to attract them as far as he could. It has been mentioned that he longed for a way to attract them, and the method he adopted is what Ibn Hamid told me that Salama said M. b. Ishaq told him from Yazid b. Ziyad of Medina from M. b. Ka`b al-Qurazi: When the apostle saw that his people turned their backs on him and he was pained by their estrangement from what he brought them from God he longed that there should come to him from God a message that would reconcile his people to him. Because of his love for his people and his anxiety over them it would delight him if the obstacle that made his task so difficult could be removed; so that he meditated on the project and longed for it and it was dear to him. Then God sent down "By the star when it sets your comrade errs not and is not deceived, he speaks not from his own desire," and when he reached His words "Have you thought of al-Lat and al-`Uzza and Manat the third, the others"[10], Satan, when he was meditating upon it, and desiring to bring it (sc. reconciliation) to his people, put upon his tongue "these are the exalted Gharaniq[6] whose intercession is approved". When the Quraysh heard that, they were delighted and greatly pleased at the way in which he spoke of their gods and they listened to him; while the believers were holding that what their prophet brought from their Lord was true, not suspecting a mistake or a vain desire or slip, and when he reached the prostration and the end of the Sura in which he prostrated himself the Muslims prostrated themselves when their prophet prostrated confirming what he brought and obeying his command, and the polytheists of Quraysh and others who were in the mosque prostrated when they heard the mention of their gods, so that everyone in the mosque believer and unbeliever prostrated, except al-Walid b. al-Mughira who was an old man who could not do so, so he took a handful of dirt from the valley and bent over it. Then the people dispersed and the Quraysh went out, delighted at what had been said about their gods, saying, "Muhammad has spoken of our gods in splendid fashion. He alleged in what he read that they are the exalted Gharaniq whose intercession is approved".

The news reached the prophet's companions who were in Abyssinia, it being reported that Quraysh had accepted Islam, so some men started to return while others remained behind. Then Gabriel came to the apostle and said , "What have you done, Muhammad? You have read to these people something I did not bring you from God and you have said what He did not say to you." The apostle was bitterly grieved and was greatly in fear of God. So God sent down (a revelation), for he was merciful to him comforting him and making light of the affair and telling him that every prophet and apostle before him desired as he desired and wanted what he wanted and Satan interjected something into his desires as he had on his tongue. So God annulled what Satan had suggested and God established His verses i.e. you are just like the prophets and apostles. Then God sent down: "We have not sent a prophet or apostle before you but when he longed Satan cast suggestions into his longing. But God will annul what Satan has suggested. Then God will establish his verses, God being knowing and wise"[11]. Thus God relieved his prophet's grief, and made him feel safe from his fears and annulled what Satan had suggested in the words used above about their gods by his revelation "Are yours the males and His the females? That were indeed an unfair division" (i.e. most unjust); "they are nothing by names which your fathers gave them" as far as the words "to whom he pleases and accepts"[12], i.e. how can the intercession of their gods avail with Him?

When the annulment of what Satan had put upon the prophet's tongue came from God, Quraysh said: "Muhammad has repented of what he said about the position of your gods with Allah, altered it and brought something else." (Ibn Ishaq, pp. 165-167)

ENDNOTES

[1] Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses, London: Viking, 1988.
[2] Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, translated as, The Life of Muhammad, pp. 165-167.
[3] Ibn Sa'ad, Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir, vol. 1, pp. 236-239.
[4] Al-Tabari, The History of al-Tabari, vol. vi, "Muhammad at Mecca", pp. 107-113.
[5] Shahab Ahmed, "Ibn Taymiyyah and the Satanic Verses", Studia Islamica, no. 87, 1998, pp. 67-124.
[6] Sahih al-Bukhari: volume 2, book 19, number 177, Khan.
[7] Numidian cranes which fly at a great height. They were probably thought to fly near the heavens and thus be able to intercede with god(s).
[8] Qur'an 2:106, 16:101, 22:52
[9] Ahmed Deedat, What the Bible Says About Muhummed (Peace be upon him), pp. 5-17.
[10] Qur'an 53:1-20
[11] Qur'an 22:51/52
[12] Qur'an 53:19-27

REFERENCES

(Mohammed) Shahab Ahmed, The Satanic Verses Incident in the Memory of the Early Muslim Community - An Analysis of the Early Riwayahs and their Isnads, A dissertation presented at Princeton University, 1999.

_____________, "Ibn Taymiyyah and the Satanic Verses", Studia Islamica, no. 87, 1998, pp. 67-124.

Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali & Dr Muhammad Muhsin Khan, Translation of the meanings of the Noble Qur'an in the English Language Madinah: King Fahd Complex. 1419 A.H.

Arthur J. Arberry, The Koran Interpreted, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1955.

Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari (translator: Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan).

N.J. Dawood, The Koran, London: Penguin Books, 1997.

Ahmed Deedat, What the Bible Says About Muhummed (Peace be upon him), Durban: IPCI, no date.

M.Fethullah Gulen, Questions this Modern Age Puts to Islam, London: Truestar, 1993.

Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, translated as, The Life of Muhammad, (translator: A. Guillaume), Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Ibn Sa'd, Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir, (translator: S. Moinul Haq) New Delhi: Kitab Bhavan, 2 volumes, no date.

The Holy Bible - New International Version (NIV), London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1997

Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, The Meaning of the Holy Qur'an, Delhi: Crescent Publishing House, 1985.

Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses, London: Viking, 1988.

M.H. Shakir, The Qur'an Translation, New York: Tahrike Tarsile Qur'an.

Al-Tabari, The History of al-Tabari, vol. vi, "Muhammad at Mecca" (trans. W. Montgomery Watt & M.V. McDonald), Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1988.

Al-Tabari, The History of al-Tabari, vol. viii, "The Victory of Islam" (trans. Michael Fishbein), Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1997.


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