The Meaning of our Testimony that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the Messenger of Allah
Praise be to Allah. And may peace and blessings be upon the Messenger, his family, his Companions, and all those who follow is way until the Day of Judgment.
This is a short treatise about the meaning of our testimony when we say “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”. We wish to distribute it among the people because there is a dire need to do so. Many Muslims, not to mention non-Muslims, are ignorant of what this testimony really means. Many Muslims fall into what contradicts or even invalidates this testimony.
Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to make this matter clear to the Muslims in obedience to Allah’s command: “But teach (thy Message) for teaching benefits the Believers” [Sûrah al-Dhâriyât: 55]
Allah also says:
“Therefore give admonition in case the admonition profits (the hearer).” [Sûrah al-A`lâ: 9]
“Therefore give admonition, for you are but to admonish. You are not a keeper over them” [Sûrah al-Ghâshiyah: ]
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Religion is sincere advice.” His Companions asked him to whom this was. He answered: “To Allah, His Messenger, His Book, the leaders of the Muslims, and the Muslim masses.”
It is the duty of all who know the truth to convey it to the people and make it clear, especially in these times when Islam has come to seem strange and good and evil have become confused with one another. Few people today are willing to raise their heads and declare the truth.
We can take solace in the words of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him): “Islam began strange and it will become strange again, so give glad tidings to the strangers.”
I ask Allah to bless us with guidance and protect us from the evil that is within ourselves. O Allah! Show us the truth and bless us to follow it. Let us see falsehood for what it is and help us to avoid it. Make our intentions pure and our works correct. Cause everyone who reads this treatise to benefit from it. Bless us and all the Muslims to help one another in works of righteousness. You are truly the Most Generous, Most Kind.
Chapter: The Rights the Prophet (peace be upon him) Has Over the Muslims
The rights that the Prophet (peace be upon him) has over us are great indeed. He has the right to be addressed with respect and honor. He should not be addressed in the manner that we address others. We must refer to him as Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) or Allah’s Prophet (peace be upon him). We cannot simply say “Muhammad” or even “Muhammad b. `Abd Allah”. Allah says: “Deem not the summons of the Messenger among yourselves like the summons of one of you to another.” [Sûrah al-Nûr: 63]
Another right that the Prophet (peace be upon him) has over us is for us to pray to Allah to grant him the highest rank in Paradise known as al-Wasîlah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “…then ask Allah to grant me al-Wasîlah, for it is a level in Paradise that will be for only one of Allah’s servants, and I hope to be that servant. Whoever asks for al-Wasîlah for me shall have my intercession."
He also has the right for us to invoke Allah’s peace and blessings upon him. It is an obligation for us to do so when performing our prescribed prayers. Some scholars even consider it a requirement for those prayers to be valid.
It is strongly desired that we do so whenever we mention his name, during Fridays, and when we make supplications to Allah.
Allah says: “Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet: O ye that believe! Send ye blessings on him, and salute him with peace.” [Sûrah al-Ahzâb: 56]
Chapter: Some of the Ways the Companions and Their Successors Showed Their Love for the Prophet (peace be upon him)
Abû Bakr al-Siddîq was one of the greatest supporters of the Prophet (peace be upon him). His also had the strongest faith in him. Many events in his life testify to the strength of his love and conviction.
Abû Ja`far al-Tabarî writes:
Abû Bakr was a close friend and confidant of the Prophet (peace be upon him). When the Prophet (peace be upon him) was first commissioned by Allah, some Quraysh tribesmen approached Abû Bakr and said: “O Abû Bakr! This friend of yours has gone mad.”
Abû Bakr asked: “What is the matter with him?”
They said: “He is over there speaking in the mosque calling people to the monotheism and claiming to be a prophet.”
Abû Bakr responded: “He said all that?”
They said: “Yes, he did.”
So Abû Bakr hastened to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and knocked on his door, summoning him outside. When he appeared, Abû Bakr said to him: “O Abû al-Qâsim! What is this I am hearing about you?”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked him: “What have you heard about me?”
He replied: “I heard that you are calling to monotheism and claiming to be Allah’s Messenger.”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Yes, Abû Bakr, my Lord has appointed me a giver of glad tidings and a warner. He has made me the answer to Abraham’s prayer and has sent me to all humanity.”
Abû Bakr then said: “I swear by Allah! I have never known you to lie. You are surely worthy of the Message, for you are extremely trustworthy, you honor your family ties, are impeccable in your conduct, and very open-handed. I offer you my pledge.”
So Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) held out his hand and Abû Bakr gave him his pledge of allegiance and confirmed his belief in him and in the truth that he brought. Abû Bakr did not even hesitate long enough for the Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) to invite him to Islam.
Al-Hâkim relates the following from `Â’ishah
After the Prophet (peace be upon him) was taken on his night journey to al-Aqsâ mosque, people began to speak about it. Some people who had formerly believed became apostates. They quickly brought news of this to Abû Bakr saying: “What do you have to say about your friend who claims to have been taken to Jerusalem last night?”
Abû Bakr asked: “Did he say this?”
They said: “Yes.”
So he said: “If he said it, then it is true.”
They countered: “So you believe him? You believe he went all the way to Jerusalem last night and came back before dawn?”
Abû Bakr said: “Yes, I believe him in something more amazing than that. I believe him when he says that he receives revelation from heaven in the early morning and in the evening.”
This is how Abû Bakr earned the title of al-Siddîq (the True in Faith).
Â’ishah has related to us the following
Rarely would a day go by without the Prophet (peace be upon him) calling upon Abû Bakr’s house either in the morning or the evening. When he was permitted to make the emigration from Mecca to Madinah, he came to our house at noon. When Abû Bakr learned of this, he said: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) would not come at this hour unless something happened.”
When he entered the house, he said to Abû Bakr: “Tell everyone who is with you to leave.”
Abû Bakr said: “No one is here but my two daughters.”
Abû Bakr then asked what he was feeling: “Will I accompany you, O Messenger of Allah?”
He said: “You shall.”
Abû Bakr said: “O Messenger of Allah! I have two she-camels prepared for the journey. Take one of them.”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “I will take it only after paying the price for it.”
During their emigration, the Prophet (peace be upon him) and Abû Bakr hid in the Cave of Thawr while Quraysh tribesmen searched for them. A bounty had been offered to whoever brought the Prophet (peace be upon him) back to Mecca. The Quraysh search party reached the cave while the two of them were hiding inside. The search party was so close that if one of them were to look down, he would have seen them. Abû Bakr said to the Prophet: “By Allah! If one of them looks down at
his feet, he will see us.”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to him: “What think you about two people with Allah being the third one present?”
About this event, Allah revealed the following verse: “If you help him not, for Allah did indeed help him, when the Unbelievers drove him out: he had no more than one companion; they two were in the cave, and he said to his companion, "Have no fear, for Allah is with us": then Allah sent down His peace upon him, and strengthened him with forces which ye saw not, and humbled to the depths the word of the Unbelievers. But the word of Allah is exalted to the heights: for Allah is Exalted in might, Wise.” [Sûrah al-Tawbah: 40]
We have the hadîth of Abû Sa`îd al-Khudrî where he says:
The Prophet (peace be upon him) gave a sermon and said: “Allah gave one of His sevants a choice between this world and what is with Him, and that servant chose what is with Allah.” Then, Abû Bakr started to cry and I wondered to myself why this sheikh is weeping. For surely, if Allah had given one of his servants the choice between this world and what is with Allah and he chose what was with Allah, then that servant was surely none other than Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him). Abû Bakr was the most knowledgeable of us. Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) then said: “O Abû Bakr! Do not weep. Abu Bakr has favored me much with his wealth and his company. If I were to take a close friend from humanity, I would certainly have taken Abu Bakr, but Islamic brotherhood and friendship are sufficient. Close all the gates in the mosque except that of Abu Bakr.”
Al-Bayhaqî, in his book on Islamic beliefs, relates the following from Abû Hurayrah
“By the One besides whom there is no God, if Abû Bakr had not been appointed Caliph, Allah would not have continued to be worshipped.”
He was asked: “How is that, O Abû Hurayrah?”
Abû Hurayrah replied: “Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) dispatched Usâmah b. Zayd along with 700 men to Syria. By the time they arrived at Dhû Khashab, the Prophet (peace be upon him) had died and the Arab tribes surrounding Madinah abandoned Islam. The people said: ‘O Abû Bakr, Have those people come back who left for Rome, because the Arabs surrounding Madinah have abandoned Islam.’ To this Abû Bakr said: ‘I
swear by the One besides whom there is no God, if dogs started chasing down the heels of the wives of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him), I would not recall an army dispatched by Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) nor disband a brigade that he had assembled.’
“So he sent Usâmah forward. Whenever he pass by a tribe that wished to abandon Islam, they would say: ‘If these people were not strong, such a force would not have departed like that, but leave them until they engage the Romans.’
“So they engaged the Romans, defeated them, and returned safely, and the people became established on Islam.”
Another illustrative example is the following hadîth related by Rifâ`ah b. Râfi`:
Abû Bakr al-Siddîq ascended the pulpit and then wept, saying: “Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) in that first year stood at the pulpit, wept, and said: ‘I ask Allah for his pardon and for well-being, because no one is given anything after certainty of
faith better than well-being.’”
For another Companion, we have the following hadîth from Anas b. Mâlik:
We did not used to have any wine beside the type that you call fadîkh. I had been standing and pouring out the wine for Abû Talhah and a couple of others when a man approached us and said: “Didn’t you hear the news?”
They asked him: “What news?”
The man said: “Wine has been declared unlawful.”
They told me: “Pour the contents of this pitcher on the ground, O Anas!”
They never asked about it again nor did they even bother to verify it after hearing the report of that man.
Abû Hurayrah relates the following
On the Day of the Battle of Khaybar, Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “I will give the standard to a man who loves Allah and His Messenger. Allah will bring victory at his hands.”
`Umar b. al-Khattâb would later comment: “I never desired leadership except on that day.”
Everyone vied in hope that he would be chosen. Then Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) summoned `Alî b. Abî Tâlib and handed him the standard, saying: “Go forth and do not turn from your path until Allah gives you victory.”
So `Alî went forth a bit and stopped but did not turn around and called out: “O Messenger of Allah! What am I to fight for?”
Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Fight until they bear witness that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. If they do so, then their lives and their wealth are prohibited for you except in the pursuit of justice and their reckoning is for Allah.”
During the Khaybar campaign, the Prophet (peace be upon him) had gone forth with a good number of his Companions . `Urwah b. Mas`ûd al-Thaqafî was at that time one of the pagans. When he returned from meeting with the Prophet (peace be upon him), he said to the Quraysh tribesmen: “My people, I swear by Allah that I have met with many kings. I met with Caesar, Chosroes, and the Negus. I swear by Allah that I have yet to meet a king whose subjects revere him like the Companions of Muhammad revere Muhammad. By Allah! I would venture that if a bit of spit were to leave his throat, it would surely fall into one of their hands so he could anoint with it his face and skin. If he commands them, they rush to carry out his command. If he makes ablutions, they do everything short of fight with each other over the water that he used. When he speaks, they all fall quiet. They will not even stare at him because of their extreme respect for him.”
These are but a few of the countless examples of how the Companions showed their love for the Prophet (peace be upon him). Such incidents fill the chronicles, biographies, and history books. These people were our pious predecessors whose precedent we are obliged to follow, since they had firsthand knowledge of the Prophet and his ways.
Chapter: Ways in Which People Violate the Testimony that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the Messenger of Allah
My dear brothers in Islam, we have up to now been discussing the meaning and the implications of the testimony that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the Messenger of Allah. Only those who act according to its requirements openly and in secret are true to their testimony. As for those who act contrary to it, they are in serious danger.
There are many ways people act contrary to this testimony.
There are those who do not believe in the Message of Muhammad (peace be upon him). They reject it outright, every detail of it, out of either disbelieve or sheer obstinacy. The pagans of Mecca were one example of such people.
There are those who believe in the Message of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) but reject its universality. They claim that it was specific for the Arabs. Some of the people of the scripture had held this view.
To both these kinds of people we mention what Allah says to His Messenger (peace be upon him) in the Qur’ân: “We have not sent you but as a messenger to all humanity, giving them glad tidings and warning them.” [Sûrah Saba’: 28]
Allah says: “O humanity! I m Allah’s Messenger to you all.” [Sûrah al-A`râf: 158]
He further says: “We know indeed the grief which their words cause you. It is not you that they reject. It is the signs of Allah that the wrongdoers denounce.” [Sûrah al-An`âm: 33]
We are not here attempting a refutation of these people. The scholars of Islam have done very well in this regard. They have written numerous works on this topic. Whoever wishes to pursue this matter further may refer to that extensive body of literature.
There are those who bear witness that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the Messenger of Allah and consider themselves Muslims. However, they have contradicted their testimony in one of a number of ways that vary in their degree of seriousness.
Still another group of people go to extremes with respect to the Prophet (peace be upon him). Some have declared him an eternal light that passed from one Prophet to another until finally culminating in the person of Muhammad (peace be upon him). Some have declared him a presence in which Allah manifested himself. The first of these presumptions is advanced by the extremist Shi’ites and the Bâtiniyyah, as well as the most radical Sufis. The second is the belief of the pantheists (adherents to the tenet of wahdah al-wujûd)
Such statements are heresy and cannot be uttered by anyone possessing faith. Those who advance these ideas merely come in the guise of Islam in order to confuse the masses. These ideas are no different than the beliefs held by other unbelieving peoples. They are akin to the Christian doctrines about Christ (peace be upon him), like the doctrine that he is Allah in human form.
Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) was merely a man and one of Allah’s servants. Allah chose him and honored him by appointing him the Seal of the Prophets and Messengers and making him the most noble of Adam’s offspring. His humanity is an established fact, in spite of the false claims that have been advanced about him, like the ones we mentioned above.
Allah says: “Say (O Muhammad): I am merely a man like yourselves who has been inspired that your God is One God. So whoever puts his hopes in the meeting with his Lord should work righteousness and refrain from ascribing any partners to Allah in his worship.” [Sûrah al-Kahf: 11]
He also says: “Say: Glory be to my Lord! Am I anything but a man who has been sent?” [Sûrah al-Isrâ’: 93]
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “I am but a man like yourselves. I am prone to forget just as you are.”
There are numerous other texts that show conclusively that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was merely a human being and that Allah distinguished him by bestowing upon him prophecy and the Message. Those who go to extremes and raise him above his true status are in fact contradicting their testimony that “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”.
There are those who go to excesses by offering to the Prophet (peace be upon him) certain acts of worship when such acts are to be offered to Allah alone. There are those who offer to him supplications, pray to his grave, and call to him in humility and devotion.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) went to great lengths to warn us against such behavior. He did so repeatedly and emphatically. Even before he did so, the Qur’ân made the matter perfectly clear. Allah declares supplications, devotions, prayers, and all other forms of worship to be for Him alone.
Allah says: “And your Lord says: "Call on Me; I will answer your supplication: but those who are too arrogant to serve Me will surely find themselves in Hell - in humiliation!"” [Sûrah Ghâfir: 60]
Allah also says: “They were ever quick in emulation in good works; they used to call on Us with love and reverence, and humble themselves before Us.” [Sûrah al-Anbiyâ’: 90]
Likewise, He says: “So pray to your Lord and offer sacrifice.” [Sûrah al-Kawthar: 2]
He says: “Say: "Truly, my prayer and my sacrifice, my life and my death, are all for Allah, the Lord of the Worlds:” [Sûrah al-An`âm: 162]
`Umar b. al-Khattâb relate that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Do not praise me excessively like the Christians praised Jesus the son of Mary. I am but a servant, so call me Allah’s servant and Messenger.”
`Â’ishah relates the following:
When death approached Allah’s Messenger, he began putting a sheet of his on his face. When he became hot and distressed because of it, he would remove it and say: “Allah’s curse is upon the Jews and the Christians, because they took the graves of their Prophets as places of worship.” The Prophet was warning the Muslims against what they had done. Had it not been for the fear that it would be taken as a mosque, his grave would have been in an open place.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) was so stern in prohibiting people from taking graves as places for Allah’s worship, cursing those who did so, because it is a practice that ultimately leads people to polytheism.
So what can we say about those people who actually direct their worship to the denizens of the graves, offer sacrifices to them, supplicate to them, swear oaths by them, or circumambulate their graves?
Al-Qurtubî writes, commenting on this matter:
Therefore, the Muslims went to great lengths to block the tendency to do so at the grave of the Prophet (peace be upon him). They raised the dirt walls around it high, completely surrounding it and blocking off the entrances to it. Then they feared that the location of his grave might be turned into a direction for prayer, because it was in the direction the worshippers face and some of them might get the idea that facing it was an act of worship. For this reason, they built two walls at the northern corners of the grave and placed them at a slant so that they would form a triangle with on of its corners pointing to the North. In this way, no one could be able to directly face the grave while making his prayer.
This shows us how Allah protected the grave of the Prophet (peace be upon him) as an answer to his prayer when he said: “O Allah! Do not let my grave become an idol that people worship.” Those who do direct themselves to it can only do so with their hearts, because it is quite impossible to actually face it or even reach it.
It is, in fact, just as Ibn Taymiyah describes it. “Approaching his grave is neither possible nor something enjoined upon us.” It took the building of three walls to produce this situation.
There are still others who go to extremes regarding the Prophet (peace be upon him) and claim that he knows the unseen and is aware of them and their circumstances. Some even go so far as to claim that they have seen him and met with him while they were fully awake.
This is in blatant denial of what the Qur’ân says and implies disbelief in Allah, who clearly says:
“Say: None in the heavens or on earth, except Allah, knows what is hidden: nor can they perceive when they shall be raised up.” [Sûrah al-Naml: 65]
“To Allah belongs the unseen secrets of the heavens and the Earth” [Sûrah Hûd: 123]
“He knoweth the unseen and that which is manifest. He is the Great, the Most High.” [Sûrah al-Ra`d: 9]
Allah commands the Prophet (peace be upon him) with the following:
“Say (O Muhammad): I do not say to you, I have with me the treasures of Allah, nor do I know the unseen.” [Sûrah al-An`âm: 50]
“Say (O Muhammad): I have no power over any good or harm to myself except as Allah wills. If I had knowledge of the unseen, I should have multiplied all good, and no evil should have touched me: I am but a warner, and a bringer of glad tidings to those who have faith.” [Sûrah al-A`râf: 188]
There is plenty of evidence that the Prophet (peace be upon him) has died. Allah says:
“Truly you are going to die, and truly they too are going to die.” [Sûrah al-Zumar: 30]
“We appointed immortality for no mortal before you. What! If you must die, can they be immortal!” [Sûrah al-Anbiyâ’: 34]
“Every soul will taste of death.” [Sûrah Âl `Imrân: 185]
`Â’ishah relates to us that at the moment of death, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said “With the most exalted of company” and then his soul passed away.
There are, by contrast, people who make light of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his authentic Sunnah. They reject a good portion of the prophetic hadîth. Sometimes they say that the dictates of reason demand that they reject certain hadîth. Whenever their limited minds fail to understand something that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, they toss his words behind their backs, preferring reason to revelation.
Though it is a fact that sound reason will never be in conflict with authentic revelation, when it seems to someone that there is a conflict, then that person should suspect the soundness of his reasoning. Revelation is always put first.
Such people are astray and negate the meaning of their testimony that “Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the Messenger of Allah”.
We have already presented the evidence that adherence to the Sunnah is obligatory. We have mentioned that al-Shâfi`î said: “The scholars have unanimously agreed that whenever a Sunnah has become clear on a matter, a person may not discard it for the opinion of anyone else.”
Sometimes a person rejects a certain Sunnah because it conflicts with his desires. This has become extremely common in these later days. People who have no qualifications to do so have begun to pronounce things lawful or forbidden. This is a most serious offense.
“And pursue not that of which thou you no knowledge; for every act of hearing, or of seeing or of the heart will be enquired into” [Sûrah al-Isrâ’: 36]
“Say: the things that my Lord hath indeed forbidden are: shameful deeds, whether open or secret; sins and trespasses against truth or reason; assigning of partners to Allah, for which He hath given no authority; and saying things about Allah of which you have no knowledge.” [Sûrah al-A`râf: 33]
Some people violate the meaning of “Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the Messenger of Allah” without going so far as to fall into unbelief, though it is still very serious and must be avoided. An example of this is to swear by the prophet (peace be upon him). This is a mild form of polytheism and can lead a person to outright polytheism.
Sheikh `Abd al-`Azîz b. `Abd Allah b. Muhammad Âl al-Sheikh, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia