Even More Proof that Allah Worships Just Like His Followers Do!

In this post I am going to provide even more evidence that Allah prays and worships just like Muslims do.

The following is taken from the Dalail-al-Khayrat Sharhi of Kara Da’ud, d. 1541:

“Then I beheld a single pearl of emerald green upon which was written this line of writing:



“The Declaration of Unity (Kalimat-at-Tawhid) is written on the base THAT SUPPORTS THE DIVINE THRONE, and upon THE LEGS OF THE THRONE ITSELF, and it is written over THE GATES OF THE SEVEN HEAVENS. Sometimes, this phrase was added: ‘I have strengthened him through Ali.’

“When I reached the Divine Throne, I witnessed great events. One drop fell from the Throne into my mouth and the sweetness of it surpassed everything I have ever tasted. When I had swallowed it, the Lord of the Universe enlightened my heart with the knowledge and wisdom of all that had gone before and was yet to come. The light from the Throne surrounded me and I was engulfed by it. I was aware of nothing but that light. When faced with this light, I perceived everything through my heart’s eye as clearly as though I were looking through my eyes. I perceived what was behind me as clearly as that, which was before me, at a level with my chest.

“After all this occurred, I came into a state when I heard absolutely nothing, not the voices of the angels, nor the sound of any other thing. This state caused me to experience great terror. Then I suddenly heard a voice that seemed to be the voice of Abu Bakr saying to me, ‘Qif, ya Muhammad, inna rabbuka YUSALLI. (Stay your step, oh Muhammad, FOR YOUR LORD IS PRAYING BLESSING.’) When I heard this voice, all the terror departed from me completely, and I began to wonder, ‘What is Abu Bakr doing here? Has he surpassed me, I wonder? And what does this mean, THE LORD IS PRAYING, the Lord Who is free from all exigence! What could be the meaning of all this?’”

This is a very important subject which needs to be well understood: the reason for the Holy Prophet proceeding to the Divine Throne was not to see the Lord Almighty, for Almighty God is exempt from any particular place. The Holy Prophet was taken to these stations in order to witness the entirety of creation, and to see the manifestation of the Divine Lord’s Supreme Majesty and Power, as He says in these verses of the Holy Quran:

Indeed, he saw one of the greatest signs of his Lord. (The Star, 18)

 … that We might show him some of Our signs. (The Night Journey, 1)

Apart from this, there is another matter that it is crucial to understand: Let it not be imagined that the greatness of the things described in this account are exaggerated, as the Lord has described in the aforementioned verses.

Indeed, he saw one of the greatest signs of his Lord. (The Star, 18)

As the Lord of the Worlds Himself here describes a thing as being ‘great’; how great then must it be! For perhaps the Holy Prophet has given us only a summary report of what he saw in accordance with our minds’ capacity; most of what he saw he did not reveal to us, for it is not possible to give a description of the greatest things that he witnessed, as the mind of man is not equipped to comprehend such things. Therefore, he did not mention those matters; this must be understood.

The Vision of the Divine Beauty 

The Holy Prophet continues his account:

“When I reached to the Divine Throne, I wished to remove my sandals, but the Throne spoke to me and said, ‘Oh Beloved of Allah, step upon me with your blessed sandal, so that I might rub the dust from it on my face, and take pride in the fact that the dust from the sandal of the Beloved of Allah has fallen upon me.’

Again I tried to remove my sandals, but this time a call came to me from the Divine Person, saying, ‘Oh My Beloved, do not remove your sandals so that My Throne might be honored and blessed with the dust from the soles of your sandals.’ I then entreated my Lord, saying, ‘When You called the Prophet Musa to come to the mountain of Tur (Sina’i), You ordered him to remove his sandals.’ Again this word came to me from the Divine Person, saying, ‘In My view, you are more cherished and honored than he; Musa was My Word (Kalimullah), whereas you are My Beloved (Habibullah). Look ahead and see what you will see!’ (Muhammad the Messenger of Islam – His Life and Prophecy, by Hajja Amina Adil, Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, Shaykh Nazim Adil Al-Haqqani [Islamic Supreme Council of America, Washington, DC 2002], The Seventh Heaven, pp. 231-234: https://books.google.com/books?id=31tscfPF4tkC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false; capital and underline emphasis ours; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Not only do we find another explicit affirmation that the Islamic deity does in fact pray, but we also have the blasphemous assertion that the Islamic creed, which includes confessing that Muhammad is Allah’s messenger, along with the names of the first two caliphs and Muhammad’s son-in-law, are written on the very divine throne and gates of paradise!

To make matters worse, Muhammad is told not to remove his sandals in the presence of his deity, on account of the honor of having the dust of the soles of Muhammad’s sandals before the divine throne!

Contrast this with the only Word God has ever inspired, the Holy Bible:

“Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.” Exodus 3:1-6 Authorized King James Version (AV)

“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.” Joshua 5:13-15 AV

Ironically, the above quote even has Muhammad explicitly bringing up the fact of Moses being commanded to remove his sandals in the presence of God. This indicates that the composer of this fairytale was aware of the sacrilegious nature of Muhammad’s keeping his dirty sandals on before what is supposed to be the same God that spoke with Moses. The justification given for Muhammad’s blaspheming the divine presence is that Allah supposedly loves and honors Muhammad more than Moses.

And yet, despite such blasphemy, Muslims still want us to believe that they have not deified Muhammad, and that Islamic tradition has not transformed their prophet into another deity or ilah alongside Allah. Muslims still want to convince us that their religion maintains the strictest and purest form of monotheism among all the major monotheistic faiths!

There’s more. This same source has Allah praying in the same way that Muslims do:

The Tahiyyat Prayer

To continue with the Holy Prophet’s account:

“When faced with the unparalleled honor of a glimpse of the Lord’s Divine Beauty, it came to me to express myself in the following words:

At-tahiyyatu li-llahi was-salawatu wat-tayyibatu.

(Salutations be to Allah, all praise and glory to Him; all worship and good works are due to Him Almighty) which is to say, ‘All praise, exaltation and worship in speech, all worship through actions and property is due to the Almighty alone, the only One to whom worship is due.’

After I had pronounced these words, the Lord of Might and Glory ANSWERED ME, SAYING:

As-salamu ‘alayka ayyuha-n-nabiyyu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu;

(And salutations to you, oh Prophet, AND THE MERCY OF ALLAH AND HIS BLESSINGS) which is to say, ‘PEACE BE UPON YOU, oh Prophet; may you be safe from the trouble and difficulties of this world and the next, oh My glorious Prophet! MAY THE MERCY AND BLESSINGS OF ALLAH BE UPON YOU.’ (Ibid., pp. 234-235; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Pay careful attention to the fact that Allah greets Muhammad with the very same prayer and salutation that Muslims perform during their five daily prayers:

Narrated Shaqiq bin Salama:
‘Abdullah said, “Whenever we prayed behind the Prophet we used to recite (in sitting) ‘Peace be on Gabriel, Michael, peace be on so and so. Once Allah’s Apostle looked back at us and said, ‘Allah Himself is As-Salam (Peace), and if anyone of you prays then he should say, At-Tahiyatu lil-lahi wassalawatu wat-taiyibatu. As-Salamu ‘ALAIKA aiyuha-n-Nabiyu wa rahmatu-l-lahi wa barakatuhu. As-Salam alaina wa ala ibadil-lah is-salihin. (All the compliments, prayers and good things are due to Allah: peace be on YOU, O Prophet and Allah’s mercy and blessings be on you. Peace be on us and on the true pious slaves of Allah). (If you say that, it will be for all the slaves in the heaven and the earth). Ash-hadu an la-ilaha illa-l-lahu wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa Rasuluhu. (I testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and I also testify that Muhammad is His slave and His Apostle).” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 12, Number 794 https://www.searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=12&translator=1&start=0&number=794)

‘At-tahiyatu lillah, az-zakiyatu lillah, at-tayibatu wa’s-salawatu lillah. As-salamu ALAYKA ayyuha’nnabiyyu wa rahmatu’llahi wa barakatuhu. As-salamu alayna wa ala ibadi’llahi s-salihin. Ash-hadu an la ilaha illa ‘llah wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan abduhu wa rasuluh.” (Malik’s Muwatta, Book 3, Number 3.14.56 https://www.searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=3&translator=4&start=0&number=3.14.56)

And according to Islamic teaching, the greeting “as-salamu alayka/alaikum,” is an act of worship, since it is an invocation (du’a):

Is it permissible to greet people using different wordings? In other words, not limiting the greeting to “as-salaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmat-Allah (Peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah). For example, is it permissible to say, “Peace be upon you from a Lord Who is Oft-Forgiving and Most Merciful”, or “In the name of the Almighty Lord I begin my words, and upon His noble Prophet I send my salaam”? The reason is that I came across this in a chat room and I am not sure about it…

Giving and returning the greeting is undoubtedly one of the acts of worship encouraged by the Prophet and enjoined by him, and the ruling on acts of worship is that it is not permissible to change the wording or the manner in which they are done from that which is narrated in the texts…

Allah prescribed the salaam for Adam and his descendants until the Hour begins. In fact the greeting of the believers will continue to be salaam even after they enter Paradise…

As that is the case, what we should do is not change the wording of this act of worship or add to it, because it is the Sunnah of the Prophets and Messengers, and it is the slogan of the believers of all nations…

The aim of the Muslim when saying that should be to offer supplication for those whom he is greeting, asking Allah, may He be exalted, the Oft-Forgiving and Most Merciful Lord, to grant them peace and decree wellbeing for them. (Islam Question and Answer, 138666: Saying salaam in the wording mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah is better and more complete https://islamqa.info/en/138666; bold emphasis ours)

Hence, Allah is performing an act of worship and praying directly to Muhammad in the very same way that Muslims do, whenever they greet him in their daily acts of worship!

Therefore, what more proof do Muslims need to convince them that their god worships and prays in the same way that they do?






Islam Portrays Allah as a Finite, Limited, Temporal Embodied Soul

In this post I will be quoting specific references from the Quran, ahadith and writings of some of the greatest sunni scholars, which attest that Allah possesses a corporeal body of some kind, which is supposedly unlike anything in creation. I do this for the benefit of those Christians working with and/or debating Muslims so they can have a quick, handy reference to the Islamic sources, which attest that the Muslim god is a an embodied soul, and is therefore a finite, temporal being, who is not the transcendent, immortal, immaterial, infinite and omnipresent Triune God revealed in the Holy Bible.

Allah appears as a beautiful man.

Al-Tirmidhi Hadith – 237

Narrated AbdurRahman ibn A’ish

Allah’s Messenger said: I saw my Lord, the Exalted and Glorious IN THE MOST BEAUTIFUL FORM the most beautiful form. He said: What do the Angels in the presence of Allah contend about? I said: Thou art the most aware of it. He then placed HIS PALM between my shoulders and I felt its coldness in my chest and I came to know what was in the Heavens and the Earth. He recited: `Thus did we show Ibrahim the kingdom of the Heavens and the Earth and it was so that he might have certainty.’ (6:75)

Darimi reported it in a mursal form and Tirmidhi also reported. (Alim.org http://www.alim.org/library/hadith/TIR/237; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Al-Tirmidhi Hadith – 245

Narrated Mu’adh ibn Jabal

Allah’s Messenger was detained one morning from observing the dawn prayer (in congregation) along with us till the sun had almost appeared on the horizon. He then came out hurriedly and Iqamah for prayer was observed and he conducted it (prayer) in brief form. When he had concluded the prayer by saying As-salamu alaykum wa Rahmatullah, he called out to us saying: Remain in your places as you were. Then turning to us he said: I am going to tell you what detained me from you (on account of which I could not join you in the prayer) in the morning. I got up in the night and performed ablution and observed the prayer as had been ordained for me. I dozed in my prayer till I was overcome by (sleep) and lo, I found myself in the presence of my Lord, the Blessed and the Glorious, IN THE BEST FORM. He said: Muhammad! I said: At Thy service, my Lord. He said: What these highest angels contend about? I said: I do not know. He repeated it thrice. He said: Then I saw Him put HIS PALMS between my shoulder blades till I felt the coldness of HIS FINGERS between the two sides of my chest. Then everything was illuminated for me and I could recognize everything. He said: Muhammad! I said: At Thy service, my Lord. He said: What do these high angels contend about? I said: In regard to expiations. He said: What are these? I said: Going on foot to join congregational prayers, sitting in the mosques after the prayers, performing ablution well despite difficulties. He again said: Then what do they contend? I said: In regard to the ranks. He said: What are these? I said: Providing of food, speaking gently, observing the prayer when the people are asleep. He again said to me: Beg (Your Lord) and say: O Allah, I beg of Thee (power) to do good deeds, and abandon abominable deeds, to love the poor, that Thou forgive me and show mercy to me and when Thou intendst to put people to trial Thou causes me to die unblemished and I beg of Thee Thy love and the love of one who loves Thee and the love for the deed which brings me near to Thy love. Allah’s Messenger said: It is a truth, so learn it and teach it.

Transmitted by Ahmad, Tirmidhi who said: This is a HASAN SAHIH hadith and I asked Muhammad ibn Isma’il about this hadith and he said: It is a SAHIH hadith. (Alim.org http://www.alim.org/library/hadith/TIR/245; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Here’s another version of the foregoing narrative:

Jami` at-Tirmidhi

Chapters on Tafsir

Narrated Mu’adh bin Jabal:

“One morning, the Messenger of Allah was prevented from coming to us for Salat As-Subh, until we were just about to look for the eye of the sun (meaning sunrise). Then he came out quickly, had the Salat prepared for. The Messenger of Allah performed the Salat, and he performed his Salat in a relatively quick manner. When he said the Salam, he called aloud with his voice saying to us: ‘Stay in your rows as you are.’ Then he turned coming near to us, then he said: ‘I am going to narrate to you what kept me from you this morning: I got up during the night, I performed Wudu and prayed as much as I was able to, and I dozed off during my Salat, and fell deep asleep. Then I SAW MY LORD, Blessed and Most High, IN THE BEST OF APPEARANCES. He said: ‘O Muhammad!’ I said: ‘My Lord here I am my Lord!’ He said: ‘What is it that the most exalted group busy themselves with?’ I said: ‘I do not know Lord.’ And He said it three times.” He said: “So I saw Him place HIS PALM between my shoulders, and I sensed the coolness of HIS FINGERTIPS between my breast. Then everything was disclosed for me, and I became aware. So He said: ‘O Muhammad!’ I said: ‘Here I am my Lord!’ He said: ‘What is it that the most exalted group busy themselves with?’ I said: ‘In the acts that atone.’ He said: ‘And what are they?’ I said: ‘The footsteps to the congregation, the gatherings in the Masajid after the Salat, Isbagh Al-Wudu during difficulties.’ He said: ‘Then what else?’ I said: ‘Feeding others, being lenient in speech, and Salat during the night while the people are sleeping.’ He said: ‘Ask.’ I said: ‘O Allah! I ask of you the doing of the good deeds, avoiding the evil deeds, loving the poor, and that You forgive me, and have mercy upon me. And when You have willed Fitnah in the people, then take me without the Fitnah. And I ask You for Your love, the love of whomever You love, and the of the deeds that bring one nearer to Your love.'” The Messenger of Allah said: “Indeed it is true, so study it and learn it.”

Grade: Hasan (Darussalam)

English reference: Vol. 5, Book 44, Hadith 3235

Arabic reference: Book 47, Hadith 3543 (sunnah.com https://sunnah.com/urn/642690; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Allah wears a garment.

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “Allah created His creation, and when He had finished it, the womb, got up and caught hold of Allah whereupon Allah said, “What is the matter?’ On that, it said, ‘I seek refuge with you from those who sever the ties of Kith and kin.’ On that Allah said, ‘Will you be satisfied if I bestow My favors on him who keeps your ties, and withhold My favors from him who severs your ties?’ On that it said, ‘Yes, O my Lord!’ Then Allah said, ‘That is for you.’” Abu Huraira added: If you wish, you can recite: “Would you then if you were given the authority do mischief in the land and sever your ties of kinship? (47. 22). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 354 https://www.searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=60&translator=1&start=0&number=354)

… Al-Bukhari recorded from Abu Hurayrah that Allah’s Messenger said…

<<“After Allah completed creating the creation, THE WOMB STOOD UP AND PULLED AT THE LOWER GARMENT OF THE MOST MERCIFUL. He said, ‘Stop that!’ IT REPLIED, ‘My stand here is the stand of one seeking refuge in you from severance of ties.’ Allah said, ‘Would it not please you that I join whoever joins you and sever whoever severs you’ IT REPLIED, ‘Yes indeed!’ He said, ‘You are granted that!’”>>

<<Verily, the womb is attached to the Throne. And connecting its ties does not mean dealing evenly (with the kinsfolk), but it rather means that if one’s kinsfolk sever the ties, he connects them.>> This Hadith was also recorded by Al-Bukhari. Ahmad also recorded from `Abdullah bin `Amr that Allah’s Messenger said…

<<The womb will be placed on the Day of Resurrection, curved like a spinning wheel, speaking with an eloquent fluent tongue, calling to severing whoever had severed it, and joining whoever had joined it.>>… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 47:22 http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2028&Itemid=103; bold, capital, and underline emphasis ours)

Allah possesses shins and feet, and must therefore have legs.

Narrated Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri… Then the Almighty will come to them in a shape other than the one which they saw the first time, and He will say, ‘I am your Lord,’ and they will say, ‘You are not our Lord.’ And none will speak: to Him then but the Prophets, and then it will be said to them, ‘Do you know any sign by which you can recognize Him?’ They will say. ‘THE SHIN,’ AND SO ALLAH WILL THEN UNCOVER HIS SHIN whereupon every believer will prostrate before Him and there will remain those who used to prostrate before Him just for showing off and for gaining good reputation… (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 532s https://sunnah.com/bukhari/97/65)

Narrated Anas: The Prophet said, “The people will be thrown into the (Hell) Fire and it will say: ‘Are there any more (to come)?’ (50.30) till Allah puts His Foot over it and it will say, ‘Qati! Qati! (Enough Enough!)’” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 371 https://www.searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=60&translator=1&start=0&number=371)

Allah has two right hands and a left one, along with fingers.

Abdullah b. ‘Umar reported Allah’s Messenger saying: Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, would fold the Heavens on the Day of Judgment and then He would place them on His right hand and say: I am the Lord; where are the haughty and where are the proud (today)? He would fold the earth (placing it) on the left hand and say: I am the Lord; where are the haughty and where are the proud (today)? (Sahih Muslim, Book 039, Number 6704 https://sunnah.com/muslim/52/7)

49 The Book of the Etiquette of Judges

(1) Chapter: Virtue of the Judge Who is Just in Passing Judgement

It was narrated from ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Al-‘As that:

The Prophet said: “Those who are just and fair will be with Allah, Most High, on thrones of light, at the right hand of the Most Merciful, those who are just in their rulings and in their dealings with their families and those of whom they are in charge.” Muhammad (one of the narrators) said in his Hadith: “And both of His hands ARE RIGHT HANDS.”

Grade: SAHIH (Darussalam)

Reference: Sunan an-Nasa’i 5379

In-book reference: Book 49, Hadith 1

English translation: Vol. 6, Book 49, Hadith 5381 (sunnah.com https://sunnah.com/nasai/49/1; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Narrated Ibn ‘Umar: Allah’s Apostle said, “On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will grasp the whole Earth by His Hand, and all the Heavens in His right, and then He will say, ‘I am the King.’” Abu Huraira said, “Allah’s Apostle said, ‘Allah will grasp the Earth…'” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 509 https://www.searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=93&translator=1&start=0&number=509)

Narrated ‘Abdullah: A Jew came to the Prophet and said, “O Muhammad! Allah will hold the heavens on a Finger, and the mountains on a Finger, and the trees on a Finger, and all the creation on a Finger, and then He will say, ‘I am the King.’ ” On that Allah’s Apostle smiled till his premolar teeth became visible, and then recited:– ‘No just estimate have they made of Allah such as due to him… (39.67) ‘Abdullah added: Allah’s Apostle smiled (at the Jew’s statement) expressing his wonder and believe in what was said. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 510)

Allah shakes people’s hands.

The fact that Allah has hands explains how he could shake the hands of Muslims like Umar ibn al-Khattab:

Sunan Ibn Majah

The Book of the Sunnah

It was narrated that Ubayy bin Ka’b said:

“The Messenger of Allah said: ‘The first person with whom Allah WILL SHAKE HANDS will be ‘Umar, (and he is) the first person to be greeted with the Salam, and the first person who will be taken by the hand and admitted into Paradise.'”

Grade: Da’if (Darussalam)

English reference: Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 104

Arabic reference: Book 1, Hadith 109 (sunnah.com https://sunnah.com/urn/1251040)

Allah rejoices, laughs and mocks.

4247. It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet said: “Allah rejoices more over the repentance of anyone of you, than you rejoice over your lost animal when you find it.” (Sahih) (English Translation of Sunan Ibn Majah – Compiled by Imam Muhammad Bin Yazeed Ibn Majah Al-Qazwini, From Hadith No. 3657 to 4341, Ahadith edited and referenced by Hafiz Abu Tahir Zubair ‘Ali Za’i, translated by Nasiruddin al-Khattab (Canada), final review by Abu Khaliyl (USA) [Darussalam Publications and Distributors, First Edition: June 2007], Volume 5, 37. The Chapters On Asceticism, Chapter 30. Repentance, p. 362 https://sunnah.com/urn/1293500; underline emphasis ours)(1)

Sunan Ibn Majah

The Book of the Sunnah

Waki’ bin Hudus narrated that his paternal uncle Abu Razin said:

“The Messenger of Allah said: ‘Allah laughs at the despair of His slaves although He soon changes it.’ I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, does the Lord laugh?’ He said: ‘YES.’ I said: ‘We shall never be deprived of good by a Lord Who laughs.'”

Grade: Hasan (Darussalam)

English reference: Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 181

Arabic reference: Book 1, Hadith 186 (sunnah.com https://sunnah.com/urn/1251800; capital and underline emphasis ours)

“… He would continue calling upon Allah till Allah, Blessed and Exalted, would laugh. When Allah would laugh at him, He would say: Enter the Paradise…” (Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 349 http://searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=001&translator=2&start=0&number=0349)

“… He (the narrator) said. He (that man) would say: Art Thou making a fun of me? or Art Thou laughing at me, though Thou art the King? He (the narrator) said: I saw the Messenger of Allah laugh till his front teeth were visible…” (Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 359 http://searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=001&translator=2&start=0&number=0359)

“… He would say: Art Thou making a fun of me, though Thou art the King? I saw the Messenger of Allah laugh till his front teeth were visible…” (Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 360 http://searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=001&translator=2&start=0&number=0360)

“O my Lord! art Thou mocking at me, though Thou art the Lord of the worlds? Ibn Mas’ud laughed and asked (the hearers): Why don’t you ask me what I am laughing at. They (then) said: Why do you laugh? He said: It is in this way that the Messenger of Allah laughed. They (the companions of the Holy Prophet) asked: Why do you laugh, Messenger of Allah? He said: On account of the laugh of the Lord of the universe, when he (the desirer of Paradise) said Thou mocking at me though Thou art the Lord of the worlds? He would say: I am not mocking at you, but I have power to do whatever I will.” (Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 361 http://searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=001&translator=2&start=0&number=0361)

It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah said: God laughs at the two men both of whom will enter Paradise (though) one of them kills the other. They said: Messenger of Allah, how is it? He said: One of them fights in the way of Allah, the Almighty and Exalted, and dies a martyr. Then God turns in mercy to the murderer who embraces Islam, fights in the way of Allah, the Almighty and Exalted, and dies a martyr.” (Sahih Muslim, Book 020, Number 4658 http://searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=020&translator=2&start=0&number=4658)

Allah is seated on an actual corporeal throne, which groans on account of how heavy Allah is.

Jabir b. Mut‘im told that a nomadic Arab came to God’s messenger and said, “People are suffering distress, the children are hungry, the crops are withered and the animals are perishing, so ask God to grant us rain, for we seek you as our intercessor with God and God as our intercessor with you.” Thereupon the Prophet said, “Glory be to God, glory be to God,” and he continued declaring God’s glory till the effect of that was apparent in the faces of his companions. He then said, “God’s state is greater than that. Woe to you! Do you know how great God is? His Throne is above the heavens thus (indicating with his fingers something like a dome over him), and it groans on account of Him as a saddle does because of the rider.” Abu Dawud transmitted it. (Mishkat Al Masabih, English Translation With Explanatory Notes By Dr. James Robson [Sh. Muhammad Ashraf Publishers, Booksellers & Exporters, Lahore, Pakistan, Reprinted 1994], Volume II, Book XXVI – Fitan, Chapter XVII. The Beginning of Creation and Mention of the Prophets, pp. 1226-1227; bold emphasis ours)

Here is an explicit affirmation that Allah sits on his throne in a corporeal manner, just as a rider sits on a saddle, thereby making the throne groan, obviously due to Allah’s weight and size!

These are just some of the many statements that have led Muslim scholars of both the past and present to conclude that their deity possesses an actual tangible body of some kind, and therefore exists as an embodied soul. As the late Iranian Muslim scholar Ali Dashti noted:

Many Moslems, however, have had rigid minds. Such men only accepted interpretations which are confirmed by Hadiths, and they considered any use of reason in religious matters to be misleading and impermissible. They took the above quoted Qur’anic phrases literally and believed that God possesses a head, mouth, eyes, ears, hands, and feet just like those of a human being. In the opinion of Abu Ma’mar al-Hodhali (d. 236/850), a preacher in Baghdad, anyone who denied this belief was an infidel. Adherents of the school of the famous traditionist and lawyer Ahmad b. Hanbal (164/780-241/855) have stuck to the same unthinking literalism ever since. The school’s chief later exponent, Ahmad b. Taymiya, was so fanatical that he called the Mo’tazelites infidels and Ghazali a heretic; on one celebrated occasion, after quoting the Qor’an in a sermon, he said to the congregation as he stepped down from the pulpit of the Great Mosque at Damascus, “God will step down from His throne in the same way as I am stepping down from this pulpit.”

These narrow-minded bigots considered not only the Mo’tazelite but even the Ash’arite theologians to be un-Islamic and condemned any sort of divergence from their own crudely simplistic views as pernicious innovation. Abu ‘Amer ol-Qorashi, a Moor from Majorca who died at Baghdad in 524/1130, declared that it was heretical to understand the sentence “There is nothing similar to Him” in verse 9 of sura 42 (osh-Showra) as meaning what it says; it meant, in his opinion, that nothing resembles God in respect of His divinity, because “God possesses limbs and organs like yours and mine.” As proof of God’s possession of such limbs and organs, Abu ‘Amer ol-Qorashi cited the description of the last judgement in verse 42 of sura 68 (ol-Qalam) “On the day when the leg will be bared and they will be bidden to kneel but cannot,” and then slapped his thigh and said, “God has legs just like mine.” (Dashti, 23 Years: A Study of the Prophetic Career of Muhammad [Costa Mesa, Ca. 1994; Mazda Publishers], pp. 157-158; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Speaking of Ibn Taymiyyah, here are some of the things this darling of Salafi Muslims wrote concerning his god:

Allah has an actual body.

وليس في كتاب الله ولا سنة رسوله ولا قول أحد من سلف الأمة وأئمتها أنه ليس بجسم وأن صفاته ليست أجساما

“There is nothing in the book, Sunnah, nor in the statements of the Salaf, or Imams of the nation that He (Allah) is not a body and His features are not a body.” (Bayan Talbis al-Jahamia, Volume 1, p. 101)


فمن المعلوم أن الكتاب والسنة والإجماع لم ينطق بأن الأجسام كلها محدثة وأن الله ليس بجسم ولا قال ذلك إمام من أئمة المسلمين ، فليس في تركي لهذا القول خروج عن الفطرة ولا عن الشريعة

It is known that the Book, Sunnah and Ijma (consensus) didn’t say that all the bodies are created, also didn’t say that Allah is not a body and nor did any Imam of the Muslims, assert such a thing. Therefore, in my abandoning that statement there isn’t any deviation from neither instinct nor the law. (Al-Tasis fi al-Rad ala Assas al-Taqdis, Volume 25, p. 31)

Allah looks like a curly haired, beardless man.

فيتضح أنها رؤية عين كما في الحديث الصحيح المرفوع عن قتادة عن عكرمة عن ابن عباس قال قال رسول الله رأيت ربي في صورة أمرد له وفرة جعد قطط في روضة خضراء

We conclude that it was eyesight as it is in the Sahih narration from Qutada from Ikrama from Ibn Abbas said that the Prophet said: “I saw my God in image of beardless (man), with long curly hair in a green garden.” (Al-Tasis fi al-rad ala Asas al-Taqdis, Volume 3, p. 214)

Allah is able to ride on the back of a mosquito.

ولو قد شاء لاستقر على ظهر بعوضة

If He (Allah) wants, He can sit on a mosquito’s back. (Bayan Talbis al-Jahamia, Volume 1, p. 568)

Allah swings on ropes.

اللَّهَ قَادِرٌ عَلَى أَنْ يَخْرُقَ مِنْ هُنَا إلَى هُنَاكَ بِحَبْلِ

“Allah is able to relocate from here to there through rope.” (Majmo’a al-Fatawa, Volume 2 page 76)

{The foregoing citations were adapted from Shia Pen, “Ibn Taimiyah,” Chapter Five – The Kufr beliefs of Ibn Taimiyah http://www.shiapen.com/comprehensive/ibn-taimiyah/kufr-beliefs.html.}

He wasn’t the only Muslim scholar who made such outlandish claims about the Islamic deity. The following citations are taken from a book attributed to the renowned Muslim jurist Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, though some have supposed that was actually written by his son Abdullah:

“… when He Most Blessed and Exalted sits on the Kursi, a squeak is heard like the squeak of a new leather saddle.” (Kitab As-Sunnah [Dammam, Saudi Arabia 1986], Volume, p. 301)

“Allah wrote the Torah for Moses with His hand while leaning back on a rock, on tablets of pearl, and the screech of the quill could be heard. There was no veil between Him and him,” (Ibid., p. 294)

“The angels were created from the light of His two elbows and chest,” (Ibid., Volume 2, p. 510)

{The preceding citations were adapted from Understanding Islam, “More Clarifications Regarding “Where is Allah?,” November 22, 2004 http://www.understanding-islam.com/more-clarifications-regarding-where-is-allah/.} 

And here are references taken from this same work concerning the uncreated nature of the Quran:

Al-Lalika’i (d 418H) mentioned in his “Sharh Usui Ttiqad Ahlis Sunnah:

“388: Ahmad ibn Abdillah ibnal Khidr Al-Ma’dal narrated to us, he said Ahmad ibn Sulayman narrated to us, he said ABDULLAH IBN AHMAD narrated to us, he said Abu Abdillah Muhammad ibnal Husayn narrated to us, he said Abbas ibn AbdilAzeem Al-Anbari narrated to us, he said Ruwaym Al- Muqri narrated to us from Abdullah ibn Ayash Al-Washa – Muhammad ibn Al-Husayn said: I have seen Abdullah ibn Ayash and he was a neighbour to us and he was from integer Thiqat- from Yunus ibn Bakeer from Ja’far ibn Muhammad from his father from Ali ibn Al-Husayn that he said concerning the Quran: “It is not creator nor created, but it is the speech of Allah.

Abdullah ibn Ahmad said: it has reached me that this Abdullah ibn Ayash is Abu Yahya ibn Abdillah Al-Khazar, Abu Kurayb narrated many Ahadith from him.”

This narration and speech of ‘Abdullah ibn Ahmad is present in “Kitab As-Sunnah” n 135 as such:

“135: Abu Abdillah Muhammad ibnal Husayn Mawla An-Nadhr narrated to us, he said Abbas ibn AbdilAzeem Al-Anbari narrated to us, he said Ruwaym Al-Muqri narrated to us from Abdullah ibn ‘Ayash Al-Washa -Muhammad ibn Al-Husayn said: I have seen Abdullah ibn Ayash and he was a neighbour to us and he was from integer Thiqat- from Yunus ibn Bakeer from Ja’far ibn Muhammad from his father from ‘Ali ibn Al- Husayn that he said concerning the Quran: “It is not creator nor created, but it is the speech of Allah.

Abu AbdirRahman said: it has reached me that this Abdullah ibn Ayash is Abu Yahya ibn Abdillah Al-Khazar, Abu Kurayb narrated many Ahadith from him.”

So the narration is exactly the same showing the reliability of these manuscripts of “Kitab As-Sunnah”, the narrators of Al-Lalika’i only omitted the words “Mawla An-Nadhr (free slave of An-Nadhr)” which is a description of the first narrator and the rest is exactly the same and at the end it has Abdullah ibn Ahmad instead of Abu AbdirRahman, which is the Kuniya of Abdullah ibn Ahmad.

Al-Lalika’i (d 418H) mentioned in his “Sharh Usui I’tiqad Ahlis Sunnah”:

“457: Muhammad ibn Ubaydillah narrated to us, he said Ahmad ibn Al-Hasan narrated to us, he said ABDULLAH IBN AHMAD narrated to us, he said: I heard Abu Bakr ibn Abi Shaybah (saying): and a man from our companion said: The Quran is the speech of Allah and it is not created. Abu Bakr said: whoever does not say such, he is misguided and misguiding others, innovator.

458: ABDULLAH said: I heard ‘Uthman ibn Abi Shaybah saying: The Quran is the speech of Allah and it is not created.

459: I (ABDULLAH) heard ‘Uthman another time saying: whoever does not say that the Quran is the speech of Allah and it is not created, he is worse than these Jahmiyah.”

And these narrations are present in “Kitab As-Sunnah” with words:

“162: I heard Abu Bakr ibn Abi Shaybah (saying): and man from his companion said to him: The Quran is the speech of Allah and it is not created. Abu Bakr said: whoever does not say such, he is misguided and misguiding others, innovator.

163: I heard ‘Uthman ibn Abi Shaybah saying: The Quran is the speech of Allah and it is not created.

164: I heard ‘Uthman another time saying: whoever does not say that the Quran is the speech of Allah and it is not created, he is worse than these, meaning the Jahmiyah.”

So the narrations are identical, and the slight changes of words from narrators of Al-Lalika’i do not change meaning such as “than these Jahmiyah” instead of “than these, meaning the Jahmiyah”, and narrators do narrate with meaning, meaning with slight changes of words which do not alter meaning.

Al-Lalika’i (d 418H) mentioned in his “Sharh Usui I’tiqad Ahlis Sunnah”:

“460: Muhammad narrated to us, he said Ahmad narrated to us, he said ‘ABDULLAH narrated to us, he said: I heard Muhammad ibn Sulayman Lawayn saying: The Quran is the speech of Allah not created, and I have not seen anyone saying that the Quran is created, may Allah protect us (from such).”

461: ‘Abdullah said: I heard Abu Ma’mar, meaning Isma’eel ibn Ibraheem Al-Huzli, saying: The Quran is the speech of Allah not created, and whoever doubts that it is not created, he is a Jahmi, rather he is worse than the Jahmi.

462: And I heard Abu Ma’mar saying: I reached the people saying: The Quran is the speech of Allah, it is not created.”

The narration 460 is with exact same words in “Kitab As-Sunnah” n 168:

“168: I heard Muhammad ibn Sulayman Lawayn saying: The Quran is the speech of Allah not created, and I have not seen anyone saying that the Quran is created, may Allah protect us (from such).”

Narration 461 and 462 are present in Kitab As-Sunnah n 175 and n 176 with same words in texts:

“175: I heard Abu Ma’mar, saying: The Quran is the speech of Allah not created, and whoever doubts that it is not created, he is a Jahmi, rather he is worse than the Jahmi.

176: I heard Abu Ma’mar saying: I reached the people saying: The Quran is the speech of Allah, it is not created.”

There is no difference of wording in sayings of Abu Ma’mar, only narrator in narration 46 1 added about Abu Ma’mar: “meaning Isma’eel ibn Ibraheem Al-Huzli”

So we can see from these 7 narrations narrated from Al-Lalika’i (4 1 7H) through Abdullah ibn Ahmad that the manuscripts of “Kitab As- Sunnah” contain them, showing in a certain manner their reliability. How could these manuscripts of “Kitab As-Sunnah” be wrong and Al- Lalika’i narrates from two narrators exactly the same narrations?

And Al-Lalika’i is not alone is narrating through Abdullah ibn Ahmad, rather Al-Bayhaqi also narrated in his “Asma wa Sifat” p 246 through his Isnad containing Abdullah ibn Ahmad going up to Ja’far ibn Muhammad saying: “The Quran is the speech of Allah, it is neither creator nor created”, and this saying of Ja’far ibn Muhammad is narrated with same text and isnad above by ‘Abdullah ibn Ahmad in his “Kitab As-Sunnah” n 134.

Furthermore Hafiz ibn Al-Jawzi mentioned in his “Manaqib Ahmad” p 204 the letter of Imam Ahmad to ‘Ubaydullah ibn Khaqan and he mentioned it through the Isnad of Abdullah ibn Ahmad. And this letter is present in “Kitab As-Sunnah” n 84.

So all these scholars quoting from “Kitab As-Sunnah” and narrating with their Isnad through Abdullah ibn Ahmad with same wordings as these manuscripts show the authenticity of the book “Kitab As- Sunnah” without any doubts. (The authenticity of the book “Kitab As-Sunnah” of Imam Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal https://archive.org/stream/KitabSunnah/KitabSunnah_djvu.txt; bold and underline emphasis ours)

The implication of the uncreated nature of the Quran should be clear to any rationally thinking person. If the Quran is the uncreated speech of Allah, then it is an inseparable and essential part of him. And since the Quran became a physical object, namely a book, this means that an essential, integral aspect of Allah’s own essence has become part of the physical creation. There’s simply no way around this logic.


(1) This narration has obviously plagiarized the teaching of the Lord Jesus concerning what takes place in heaven when a sinner repents on earth:

“I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance… Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” Luke 15:7, 10




In this short post I am going to cite certain authorities, which discuss the rabbinic Jewish view of the Holy Spirit. For instance, in rabbinic Judaism God’s Spirit is his very own Presence, his Shekhinah that fills the entire earth:

“Another Rabbinic concept to indicate the nearness of God and His direct influence on man is that of Ruach Hakodesh (the Holy Spirit). Sometimes it seems to be identical with the Shechinah as expressing the divine immanence in the world. For instance, it is related that after the destruction of the Temple, the Emperor Vespasian dispatched three shiploads of young Jews and Jewesses to brothels in Rome, but during the voyage they all threw themselves into the sea and were drowned, rather accept so degraded a fate. The story ends with the statement that on beholding the harrowing sight: ‘The Holy Spirit wept and said, “For these do I weep” (Lament. i. 16)’ (Lament. R. I. 45).

“More often it is employed to describe the endowment of a person with special gifts. Prophecy, in the sense of the ability to interpret the will of God, is the effect of which the Holy Spirit is the cause. Its possession also endows one with foreknowledge.” (Abraham Cohen, Everyman’s Talmud, [Schoken Books, New York], Chapter II. God And The Universe, II. Transcendence And Immanence, p. 45; bold emphasis ours)

Cohen goes on to explain what the Shekhinah is in Jewish thought:

“What, in Rabbinic teaching, is God’s relation to the world? Is He thought of as transcendent and far removed from His creatures, or is He considered as being near to, and in contact with, them? The true answer is to be found in a combination of both ideas. The Rabbis did not look upon the two conceptions as contradictory or mutually exclusive, but rather as complementary.

“When they reflected upon the ineffable Majesty of the Creator, His absolute perfection and boundless might, they reverentially spoke of Him as a Being immeasurably removed from the limitations of the finite world. But they, at the same time, realized that such a transcendent God was of little use to the human being who was grappling with the problems of life and yearned for communion with a Helper and Comforter and Guide amidst his perplexities and struggles. They, accordingly, stressed the doctrine that God was immanent in the world, and was very near to all who call upon Him in sincerity.

“We have seen that in the cosmology of the Talmud, the Deity is located in the seventh heaven. His habitation was therefore infinitely removed from earth

“Much more prominent, however, in the Talmudic literature is the conception of God’s immanence in the world and His nearness to man. It follows as a corollary from the doctrine of His omnipresence… ‘On the other hand, the Holy One, blessed be He, appears to be afar off, but in reality there is nothing closer than He.’ … ‘However high He be above His world, let a man but enter a Synagogue, stand behind a pillar and pray in a whisper, and the Holy One, blessed be He, hearkens to hi prayer. Can there be a God nearer than this, Who is close to His creatures as the mouth is to the ear?’ (p. Ber. 13a)…

“With the object of utilizing the doctrine of the immanence of God in the world, while avoiding the suggestion that He could be located in any spot, the Rabbis invented certain terms to express the Divine Presence without giving support to a belief in His corporealityThe most frequent of these terms IS SHECHINAH, which literally means ‘dwelling.’ It denotes the manifestation of God upon the stage of the world, although He abides in the far-away heaven. In the same way that the sun in the sky illumines with its rays every corner of the earth, so the Shechinah, the effulgence of God, may make its presence felt everywhere (Sanh. 39a).” (Cohen, pp. 40-42; bold and capital emphasis ours)


“The Talmud offers this demonstration of divine omnipresence: ‘The messengers of God are unlike those of men. The messengers of men are obliged to return to those who sent them with the object of their mission; but God’s messengers return at the place wither they had been dispatched. It is written: “Canst thou send forth lightnings, that they may go and say unto thee, Here we are?” (Job xxxviii. 35). It is not stated “they returned” but “they go and say”, i.e. wherever they go they are in the presence of God. Hence it is to be deduced that the Shechinah is in every place’ (Mech. to xii. I; 2a; B.B. 25a).

“The question how God could be everywhere at the same time received various answers. The problem was elucidated by this analogy: ‘It may be likened to a cave situated by the seashore. The sea rages and the cave is filled with water, but the waters of the sea are not diminished. Similarly the Tent of Meeting was filled with the lustre of the Shechinah, which was not diminished in the Universe’ (Num. R. XII. 4)…

“‘A heretic said to R. Gamaliel: “You Rabbis declare that wherever ten people assemble for worship the Shechinah abides amongst them; how many Shechinahs are there then?” He called the heretic’s servant and struck him with a ladle. “Why did you strike him?” he was asked, and he replied, “Because the sun is in the house of the infidel.” “But the sun shines all over the world!” exclaimed the heretic; and the Rabbi retorted: “If the sun, which is only one out of a million myriads of God’s servants, can be in every part of the world, how much more so can the Shechinah radiate throughout the entire Universe!“’ (Sanh. 39a).” (Cohen, Chapter I. The Doctrine Of God, IV. Omnipresence, pp. 9-10)

That’s not all. In certain rabbinic traditions the Spirit is viewed as a distinct Person from God who intercedes and prays to God:

“Interestingly, there are several references in the Rabbinic literature to the Holy Spirit speaking, announcing, crying out, rebuking, and even serving as the counsel for the defense. For example:

The Talmud (m. Sotah 9:6; b. Sotah 46a) states that when the elders performed the rite of the red heifer (Deut. 21:1-9), ‘They did not have to say, “And the blood shall be forgiven them” [Deut. 21:8], instead the Holy Spirit announces to them, “Whenever you do this, the blood shall be forgiven you.”’

Commenting on Exodus 1:12, ‘But the more they [i.e., the Israelites] were oppressed [by the Egyptians], the more they multiplied and spread,’ the Talmud states (b. Pesahim 117a) that the Holy Spirit announced to them, ‘So will he [Israel] increase and spread out!’ This is explained by Rashi and other major Jewish commentators to mean that the Holy Spirit said to the Egyptians, ‘Just as you seek to oppress them more, the more so will they increase and spread out!’

In Pirke D’Rabbi Eliezer 31, as Ishmael (Abraham’s son) and Eliezar (his steward) argue about who will be Abraham’s heir—seeing that they are going together with Abraham to sacrifice Isaac to the Lord (Genesis 22)—the Holy Spirit answers them and says, ‘Neither this one nor this one will inherit.’

In a late midrash cited in Yalkut Reubeni (9d) to Genesis 1:26, after Ben Sira shared the secret, mystical teachings with his son Uzziah and his grandson Joseph, the Holy Spirit called out, ‘Who is it that revealed My secrets to mankind?’ Ben Sira replied, ‘I, Buzi, the son of Buzi.’ The Holy Spirit said to him, ‘Enough!’

Lamentations Rabbah 3:60, 9 relates that after the Roman emperor Hadrian indiscriminately executed two Jews, the Holy Spirit kept crying out, ‘You have seen O LORD, the wrong done to ME. Uphold MY cause! You have seen the depth of their vengeance, all their plots against ME’ (Lam. 3:59-60). This provides an example of the Spirit making intercession.

According to Leviticus Rabbah 6:1, the Holy Spirit is a defense counsel who speaks to Israel on behalf of the Lord and then speaks to the Lord on behalf of Israel. To Israel the Spirit says, ‘Do not testify against your neighbor without cause’ (Prov. 24:28), and to the Lord the Spirit says, ‘Do not say, “I’ll do him as he has done me”’ (Prov. 24:29).

“In all these citations, which can easily be multiplied (see, e.g., Genesis Rabbah 84:11; Song of Songs Rabbah 8:16; Lamentations Rabbah 1:48), there can be no question that we are dealing with a ‘who’ and not just a ‘what’, WITH A PERSONAL DIMENSION OF GOD and not just an impersonal power, WITH GOD HIMSELF and yet with a ‘separate’ entity who can mediate between God and man. And these citations closely parallel some of the New Testament descriptions of the Holy Spirit, although virtually all the Rabbinic texts cited were written many years later…” (Dr. Michael L. Brown, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus—Theological Objections [Baker Books; Grand Rapids MI, 2000], Volume Two, 3.5. The Holy Spirit is not the so-called Third Person of the Trinity, pp. 55-57; bold and capital emphasis mine)

These citations expressly show that even unbelieving Jews came to the same conclusion as Christians did regarding the Holy Spirit being both personally distinct from and identical to the one true God. And these Jewish authorities and scholars did so solely from their reading of the Hebrew Bible, and independently from Christianity.

One would think that, in light of the challenges posed by Christians to their beliefs, these Jews would have wanted to negate the notion of the Spirit being a divine personality who is both distinguishable and yet inseparable from the one true God. The fact that they didn’t do so, only goes to show that the OT witness to the Deity and personhood of the Holy Spirit is so overwhelming that even the rabbinic Jews had no choice but to acknowledge it.




Exposing More of Islam’s Scientific Blunders and Fairytales

There are Muslim polemicists who claim that the Quran correctly indicates that the moon’s light is borrowed and reflected, unlike the light of the sun which is not derived from an outside source. Some of the verses that these Muhammadans appeal to include the following:

Blessed is He Who made constellations in the skies, and placed therein a Lamp (siraajan) and a Moon giving light (muniiraa); S. 25:61

And made the moon a light (Arabic- nuuran) in their midst, and made the sun as a (Glorious) Lamp (Siraajaa)? S. 71:16

According to these Islamic propagandists, the term used for moonlight in Arabic is munir or nur, and often means reflected or borrowed light. Accordingly, these terms are never used to refer to the light of the sun, referred to in the above passages as a Lamp. The Quran is therefore allegedly indicating that whereas the moon’s light is borrowed the sun produces its very own light.

The problem with this rather blatantly dishonest explanation is that the Quran actually uses the very term munir to describe the light produced by a lamp. For instance, the following passage speaks of Muhammad as a Lamp giving forth light:

And as one who invites to Allah’s (Grace) by His leave, and as a Lamp spreading Light (wa Siraajam-Muniiraa). S. 33:46

Seeing that the sun itself is described as a Lamp, and seeing that the light produced by the Lamp is called muniiraa/light demonstrates the Muslims’ total arbitrariness in assuming that the terms nur and munir mean reflected light. That these words are used to describe the very light produced by a Lamp, and seeing that the Quran calls the sun a Lamp, shows that the the Islamic scripture makes no distinction between the light that emanates from either the moon or the sun. This is further confirmed by renowned Muslim scholar and expositor Ibn Kathir’s commentary on Q. 33:46:

<and as a lamp spreading light.> means, ‘the Message that you bring is as clear as the sun shining brightly, and no one can deny it except those who are stubborn.’ (Tafsir Ibn Kathir – Abridged Volume 7 Surat An-Nur to Surat Al Ahzab, Verse 50, abridged under a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors Riyadh, Houston, New York, London, Lahore, July 2000], p. 716 http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1841; bold emphasis ours)

Hence, Muhammad is likened to a sun shining brightly. This implies that Muhammad’s munir/light is the same as the light produced by the sun. Therefore, the assertion that munir and nur means borrowed or reflected light cannot be sustained since the sunlight is likened to Muhammad’s own munir/light.

Thirdly, nur is applied to Allah in connection to his own light:

Fain would they extinguish God’s light (nura) with their mouths, but God will not allow but that His light (nurahu) should be perfected, even though the Unbelievers may detest (it). S. 9:32 Y. Ali; cf. 24:35

This means, that if these Muhammadans are correct, then Allah has no light of his own, but only reflects light from another source or entity! Anyone can see from this how nonsensical this argument truly is.

In this next passage,

Praise be to Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth, and made the Darkness and the Light (an-Nur). Yet those who reject Faith hold (others) as equal with their Guardian Lord. S. 6:101

The Light that is mentioned would obviously refer to all the heavenly objects that bring forth light, such as the stars and sun. As Ibn Kathir noted:

Allah praises and glorifies His Most Honorable Self for creating the heavens and the earth, as a dwelling for His servants, and for making the darkness and the light to benefit them in the night AND THE DAY. In this Ayah, Allah described the darkness in the plural, Zulumat [where Zulmah is singular for darkness], while describing the light in the singular, An-Nur, because An-Nur is more honored… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir-Abridged Volume 3 Surat An-Nisa, Verse 148 to the end of Surat Al-An’am, p. 310 http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1023; bold and capital emphasis ours)

The only nur produced in the daytime is the light from the sun!

In fact, when we look at the earliest Muslim records we discover that Muhammad and his followers believed that the moon, much like the sun, emanated its own light. They did not believe that the moon simply reflected the light emanating from the sun. Al-Tabari quotes a tradition from Muhammad on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas where the former extensively comments on the orbit of the sun and moon. The following lengthy quotation is taken from the History of al-TabariVolume 1- General Introduction and from the Creation to the Flood (translated by Franz Rosenthal, State University of New York Press [SUNY], Albany, NY 1989), pp. 231-237. Bold and/or capital emphasis will be mine:

Among the traditions transmitted from the Messenger of God on this subject is what I have been told by Muhammad b. Abi Mansur al-Amuli- Khalaf b. Wasil- Abu Nu’aym `Umar b. Subh al-Balkhi- Muqatil b. Hayyan- `Abd al-Rahman b. Abza- Abu Dharr al-Ghifari: I walked hand in hand with the Prophet around evening when the sun was about to set. We did not stop looking at it until it had set. He continued. I asked the Messenger of God: Where does it set? He replied: It sets in the heaven and is then raised from heaven to heaven until it is raised to the highest, seventh heavenEventually, when it is underneath the Throne, it falls down and prostrates itself, and the angels who are in charge of it prostrate themselves together with it. The sun then says: My Lord, whence do You command me to rise, from where I set or from where I rise? He continued. This is (meant by) God’s word: “And the sun: It runs to a place where it is to reside (at night)” – where it is held underneath the Throne – “That is decreed by One Mighty and Knowing” — by “this” is meant the procedure of the “mighty” Lord in His royal authority, the Lord Who is “knowing” about His creation. He continued. Gabriel brings to the sun a garment of luminosity from the light of the Throne, according to the measure of the hours of the day. It is longer in the summer and shorter in the winter, and of intermediate length in autumn and spring. He continued. The sun puts on that garment, as one of you here puts on his garmentThen, it is set free to roam in the air of heaven until it rises whence it does. The Prophet said: It is as if it had been held for three nights. Then it will not be covered with luminosity and will be commanded to rise from where it sets. This is (meant by) God: “When the sun shall be rolled up.” He continued. The same course is followed by the moon in its rising, its running on the horizon of the heaven, its setting, its rising to the highest, seventh heaven, its being held underneath the Throne, its prostration, and its asking for permission. But Gabriel brings it a garment from the light of the Footstool. He continued. This is (meant by) God’s word: “He made the sun a luminosity and the moon a light.” Abu Dharr concluded: Then I went away together with the Messenger of God and we prayed the evening prayer. This report from the Messenger of God indicated that the only difference between the condition of the sun and that of the moon is that the luminosity of the sun comes from the wrap of the luminosity of the Throne with which the sun was covered, while the light of the moon comes from a wrap of the light of the Footstool with which the moon was covered.

The other report, referring to a different concept, is what I was told by Muhammad b. Abi Mansur- Khalaf b. Wasil- Abu Nu’aym- Muqatil b. Hayyan- Ikrimah: One day when Ibn `Abbas was sitting (at home or in the mosque), a man came to him and said: Ibn `Abbas, I heard Ka’b, the Rabbi, tell a marvelous story about the sun and the moon. He continued. Ibn `Abbas who had been reclining sat up and asked what it was. The man said: He suggested that on the Day of Resurrection, the sun and the moon will be brought as if they were two hamstrung oxen, and flung into Hell. `Ikrimah continued. Ibn `Abbas became contorted with anger and exclaimed three times: Ka’b is lying! Ka’b is lying! Ka’b is lying! This is something Jewish he wants to inject into Islam. God is too majestic and noble to mete out punishment where there is obedience to Him. Have you not heard God’s word: “And He subjected to you the sun and the moon, being constant” — referring to their constant obedience. How would He punish two servants that are praised for constant obedience? May God curse that rabbi and his rabbinate! How insolent is he toward God and what a tremendous fabrication has he told about those two servants that are obedient to God! He continued. Then he said several times: We return to God. He took a little piece of wood from the ground and started to hit the ground with it. He did that for some time, then lifting his head he threw away the little piece of wood and said: You want me to tell you what I heard the Messenger of God say about the sun and the moon and the beginning of their creation and how things went with them? We said: We would, indeed, May God show mercy unto you. He said: When the Messenger of God was asked about thathe replied: When God was done with His creation and only Adam remained to be created, He created two suns from the light of His Throne. His foreknowledge told Him that He would leave here one sun, so He created it as (large as) this world is from east to west. His foreknowledge also told Him that He would efface it and change it to a moon; so the moon is smaller in size than the sun. But both are seen as small because of the sun’s altitude and remoteness from the earth.

He continued: If God had left the two suns as He created them in the beginning, night would not have been distinguishable from day. A hired man then would not know until when he should labor and when he should receive his wages. A person fasting would not know until when he must fast. A woman would not know how to reckon the period of her impurity. The Muslims would not know the time of the pilgrimage. Debtors would not know when their debts become due. People in general would not know when to work for a livelihood and when to stop for resting their bodies. The Lord was too concerned with His servants and too merciful to them (to do such a thing). He thus sent Gabriel to drag his wing three times over the face of the moon, which at the time was a sun. He effaced its luminosity and left the light in itThis is (meant by) God’s word: “And We have made the night and the day two signs. We have blotted out the sign of the night, and We have made the sign of the day something to see by.” He continued. The blackness you can see as lines on the moon is a trace of the blotting. God then created for the sun a chariot with 360 handholds from the luminosity of the light of the Throne and entrusted 360 of the angels inhabiting the lower heaven with the sun and its chariot, each of them gripping one of those handholds. He entrusted 360 of the angels inhabiting (the lower?) heaven with the moon and its chariot, each of them gripping one of those handholds.

Then he said: For the sun and the moon, He created easts and wests (positions to rise and set) on the two sides of the earth and the two rims of heaven, 180 springs in the west of black clay – this is (meant by) God’s word: “He found it setting in a muddy spring,” meaning by “muddy (hami’ah)” black clay – and 180 springs in the east likewise of black clay, bubbling and boiling like a pot when it boiled furiously. He continued. Every day and night, the sun has a new place where it rises and a new place where it sets. The interval between them from beginning to end is longest for the day in summer and shortest in winter. This is (meant by) God’s word: “The Lord of the two easts and the Lord of the two wests,” meaning the last (position) of the sun here and the last there. He omitted the positions in the east and the west (for the rising and setting of the sun) in between them. Then He referred to east and west in the plural, saying; “(By) the Lord of the easts and wests.” He mentioned the number of all those springs (as above).

He continued. God created an ocean three farsakhs (18 kilometers) removed from heaven. Waves contained, it stands in the air by the command of God. No drop of it is spilled. All the oceans are motionless, but that ocean flows at the rate of the speed of an arrowIt is set free to move in the air evenly, as if it were a rope stretched out in the area between east and west. The sun, the moon, and the retrograde stars run in its deep swellThis is (meant by) God’s word: “Each swims in a sphere.” “The sphere” is the circulation of the chariot in the deep swell of that ocean. By Him Who holds the soul of Muhammad in His hand! If the sun were to emerge from that ocean, it would burn everything on earth, including even rocks and stones, and if the moon were to emerge from it, it would afflict (by its heat) the inhabitants of the earth to such and extent that they would worship gods other than God. The exception would be those of God’s friends whom He would want to keep free from sin.

Ibn `Abbas said that `Ali b. Abi Talib said to the Messenger of God: You are like my father and my mother! You have mentioned the course of the retrograde stars (al-khunnas) by which God swears in the Qur’an, together with the sun and the moon, and the rest. Now, what are al-khunnas? The Prophet replied: `Ali, they are five stars: Jupiter (al-birjis), Saturn (zuhal), Mercury (`utarid), Mars (bahram), and Venus (al-zuhrah). These five stars rise and run like the sun and the moon and race with them together. All the other stars are suspended from heaven as lamps are from mosques, and circulate together with heaven praising and sanctifying God with prayer. The Prophet then said: If you wish to have this made clear, look to the circulation of the sphere alternately here and there. It is the circulation of heaven and the circulation of all the stars together with it except those five. Their circulation today is what you see, and that is their prayer. Their circulation to the Day of Resurrection is as quick as the circulation of a mill because of the dangers and tremors of the Day of resurrection. This is (meant by) God’s word: “On a day when the heaven sways to and fro and the mountains move. Woe on that day unto those who declare false (the Prophet’s divine message).”

He continued. When the sun rises, it rises upon its chariot from one of those springs accompanied by 360 angels with outspread wings. They draw it along the sphere, praising and sanctifying God with prayer, according to the extent of the hours of night and the hours of day, be it night or day. When God wishes to test the sun and the moon, showing His servants a sign and thereby asking them to stop disobeying Him and to start to obey, the sun tumbles from the chariot and falls into the deep of that ocean, which is the sphere. When God wants to increase the significance of the sign and frighten His servants severely, all of the sun falls, and nothing of it remains upon the chariot. That is a total eclipse of the sun, when the day darkens and the stars come out. When God wants to make a partial sign, half or a third or two-thirds of it fall into the water, while the rest remains upon the chariot, this being a partial eclipse. It is a misfortune for the sun or for the moon. It frightens His servants and constitutes a request from the Lord (for them to repent). However this may be, the angels entrusted with the chariot of the sun divide into two groups, one that goes to the sun and pulls it toward the chariot, and another that goes to the chariot and pulls it toward the sun, while at the same time they keep it steady in the sphere, praising and sanctifying God with prayer, according to the extent of the hours of day or the hours of night, be it night or day, summer or winter, autumn or spring between summer and winter, lest the length of night and day be increased in any way. God has given them knowledge of that by inspiration and also the power for it. The gradual emergence of the sun or the moon from the deep of that ocean covering them which you observe after an eclipse (is accomplished by) all the angels together who, after having brought out all of it, carry it (back) and put it upon the chariot. They praise God that He gave them the power to do that. They grip the handholds of the chariot and draw it in the sphere, praising and sanctifying God with prayer. Finally, they bring the sun to the west. Having done so; they put it into the spring there, and the sun falls from the horizon of the sphere into the spring.

Tabari continues to comment about the role the sun and moon will play at the end of the world:

When this takes place, the sun will be held underneath the Throne for one night. Whenever it prostrates itself and asks for permission (to proceed to) whence it should rise, it is given no answer until the moon joins it and prostrates itself together with the sun and asks for permission (to proceed to) whence it shall rise. The moon, too, is not given an answer. Finally, (the angel?) will hold the sun for three nights and the moon for two nights… (Ibid., p. 239)

Ibn Kathir also indicates that the moon has its very own light:

<and the sun and the moon.> the sun with its own light and its own path and orbit and allotted time, and the moon which shines with a different light and travels on a different path and has its own allotted time.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir- Abridged Volume 6 Surat Al-Isra’, Verse 39 to the end of Surat Al Mu’minun, p. 444 http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2645; bold emphasis ours)

<And We have made (therein) a shining lamp> (78:13). <and a moon giving light.> means, shining and illuminated by the light of something else, different from the light of the sun…” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir: Abriged Volume 7 Surat An-Nur to Surat Al-Ahzab, Verse 50, pp. 193-194 http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2384; bold emphasis ours)

Furthermore, Ibn Kathir much like Tabari claims that the Quran teaches that both the sun and moon are orbiting, yet with one added twist. Ibn Kathir states that the earth is not orbiting, but rather remains in a fixed position!

<And has subjected the sun and the moon, each running its course for a term appointed;> It was said that this means, each runs within its limits, or it means until the Day of Resurrection; both meanings are correct. The first view is supported by the Hadith of Abu Dharr in the Two Sahihs, according to which the Messenger of Allah said…

O Abu Dharr! Do you know where this sun goes? I (Abu Dharr) said: “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said…

It goes and prostrates beneath the Throne, then it seeks permission from its Lord, and soon it will be said: “Go back from whence you came.”

Ibn Hatim recorded that Ibn ‘Abbas said, “The sun is like flowing water, running its course in the sky during the day. When it sets, it travels its course BENEATH THE EARTH until it rises in the east.” He said, “The same is true in the case of the moon.” Its chain of narration is Sahih. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Volume 7, pp. 593-594 http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1784; bold and capital emphasis ours)

This leaves us with the impression that whereas the sun and moon are traveling around the earth, the earth remains stationary. This is precisely what Ibn Kathir later claims, namely that the earth is stationary. Commenting on Q. 27:61, he states:

<Is not He Who has made the earth as a fixed abode,> meaning, STABLE AND STATIONARY, SO THAT IT DOES NOT MOVE OR CONVULSE, because if it were to do so, it would not be a good place for people to live on. But by His grace and mercy, He has made it smooth and calm, and it is not shaken or moved… (Ibid., p. 341 http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2232&Itemid=83#1; bold and capital emphasis ours)

In light of the preceding statements, we are left with the conclusion that Islamic cosmogony is geocentric in nature, a fact confirmed even further by Ibn Kathir’s exposition of Q. 25:45-46:

<Have you not seen how your Lord spread the shadow> Ibn ‘Abbas, Ibn ‘Umar, Abu Al-‘Aliyah, Abu Malik, Masruq, Mujahid, Sa’id bin Jubyar, An-Nakha’i, Ad-Dahhak, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, As-Suddi and others said, “This refers to the period from the beginning of the dawn until the sun rises.”

<If He willed, He could have made it still> meaning, immobile, never changing…

<but We have made the sun its guide.> means, were it not for the sun rising, it would not be there, for a thing can only be known in contrast to its opposites. Qatadah and As-Suddi said, “The sun is a guide which follows the shade until the shade disappears.”

<Then We withdraw it, towards Ourselves- a gradual withdrawal.> This refers to the shade. 

<gradual> meaning slowly. As-Suddi said, “A gentle, concealed, withdrawal until there is no shade left on earth except under a roof or a tree, and the sun is shining on whatever is above it.”

<a gradual withdrawal.> Ayyub bin Musa said: “Little by little.” (Ibid., pp. 178-179 http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2391&Itemid=80; bold emphasis ours)

Furthermore, Ibn Kathir likens the heavens to a dome surface above the earth. Commenting on Q. 21:32, he writes:

<And We made the heaven a roof, safe and well-guarded>
means, covering the earth like a dome above it. This is like the Ayah…

<With Hands We constructed the heaven. Verily, We are able to extend the vastness of space thereof.> [51:47]

<By the heaven and Him Who built it.> [91:5]

The building and making described here refers to the raising of the dome, as when the Messenger of Allah said…

<Islam is built on five.> i.e., five pillars, which can only refer to a tent as familiar among Arabs. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Volume 6, p. 443 http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2645&Itemid=76; bold emphasis ours)

The following Quranic verse also points to the sky as an actual physical dome covering the earth:

Seest thou not that Allah has made subject to you (men) all that is on the earth, and the ships that sail through the sea by His Command? He withholds the sky from failing on the earth except by His leave: for Allah is Most Kind and Most Merciful to man. S. 22:65

Ibn Kathir comments: 

<He withholds the heaven from falling on earth except by leave.> If He willed, He could give the sky permission to fall on the earth, and whoever is in it would killed, but by His kindness, mercy, power, He withholds the heaven from falling on earthexcept by His leave…” (Ibid., p. 611 http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2490&Itemid=77; bold emphasis ours)

Two conclusions can be drawn from these statements. First, the thing is solid, otherwise it couldn’t kill anyone when falling down, or, if it was not material, it couldn’t fall in the first place. Furthermore, the only way for the heavens to cover the earth like a dome and for Allah to prevent them from crashing upon the earth is if in fact the earth is flat!

Now someone might argue that the Quran is using phenomenological language here, ordinary speech that is not meant to convey scientific fact. For instance, even today we find meteorologists using the phrases “sunrise” and “sunset” without anyone finding fault with it. Therefore, the Quran is speaking from the earth’s vantage-point, that from our perspective on earth the sun seems to be rising and setting.

The only problem with this assertion is that it completely ignores the preceding commentaries that posit a stationary earth with the sun, moon and stars all orbiting around it. Hence, from the early Islamic perspective neither Muhammad nor his companions were understood to be using phenomenological language. Rather, they were seen by those closest to them to be speaking quite literally.

In light of all this, we would like to ask the following questions. Seeing that both Ibn Kathir and Tabari cite Islamic traditions from Muhammad and others such as Ibn `Abbas in relation to the orbit of the sun, moon and stars how can one possibly accept Muhammad as a prophet in light of his comments that are brimming with scientific errors? Does the sun and moon travel together on a similar course? Was the moon actually a sun before God stripped it of its luminosity? Does the moon have light of its own? Is there really an ocean in space where the sun, moon and stars travel within? Why is there no mentioning the fact that the earth is actually orbiting around the sun? Why does Ibn Kathir claim that the earth is not traveling at all but is rather stationary? All these factors make it hard for any thinking individual to take seriously the Muslim claim that the Quran is a scientific miracle or that Muhammad was actually God’s prophet seriously.

The following is from Qisas al-Anbiya-Tales of the Prophets:

“Wahb said: Then God created the sun and the moon. The sun, He created from the light of the Throne, and the moon He created from the light of His veil.

Kaab used to say that on the Day of Resurrection the sun and the moon will be led like bulls and hurled into Hell. When Ibn Abbas heard this, he grew angry and said, ‘Kaab has lied. God praised the sun and the moon, saying, He likewise compelleth the sun and the moon, which diligently perform their courses, to serve you (14:33). How then can they be cast into Hell?’

Wahb ibn Munabbih said: God entrusted the sun and the moon to angels who send them out for a while and draw them back for a while, as He hath said: God causeth the night to succeed the day, and he causeth the day to succeed the night (22:61). Therefore, what is subtracted from one period is added to the other.

The people of the Torah say that God began to create on a Sunday and finished on a Saturday, whereupon He sat on the Throne; therefore, they have adopted that day as a holiday.

Ibn Abbas said: The beginning was on a Saturday and the end on Friday. God rested on Friday, so for that reason we have made it a holiday.

The Prophet said that Friday is the mistress of the day of the week and is greater in God’s view than Id al-Fitra and Yawm al-Adha. Friday has five significances: on that day Adam was created, the spirit was breathed into him, he was married on that day, and on that day He took him unto Himself. Also on that day is a time during which God’s servants ask their Lord for nothing He does not grant (a variant report adds: …so long as it is not a thing forbidden).

And on that day will Doomsday commence.” (Ibid., pp. 15-16; bold emphasis ours)

This story also confirms that the moon has its own light. In fact, this tradition presumes a young earth along with the fact that the sun and moon were created only after the earth and its vegetation. (Cf., pp. 8-15) Compare this with the following Islamic traditions:

Abu Huraira reported that Allah’s Messenger took hold of my hands and said: Allah the Exalted and Glorious, created the clay on Saturday and He created the mountains on Sunday and He created the trees on Monday and He created the things entailing labour on Tuesday and created light on Wednesday and He caused animals to spread on Thursday and created Adam after ‘Asr on Friday; the last creation at the last hour of the hours of Friday, i.e. Between afternoon and night. (Sahih Muslim, Chapter MCLV, The beginning of creation and the creation of Adam, Hadith No. 6707 https://www.searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=039&translator=2&start=0&number=6707; bold emphasis ours)

Muhammad states that vegetation preceded the formation of light, i.e. the sun. It must be emphasized that Sahih Muslim is considered the second most reliable source of hadith collections. Dr. Naik is a Sunni Muslim. Therefore, as a Sunni Muslim we presume he accepts the authority of Sahih Muslim seeing it is considered the second most reliable collection of traditions.

Some Muslims have tried to claim that this tradition is weakly attested. For instance, M.S.M. Saifullah lists it as a malul hadith and notes:

Ma’lul or Mu’allal

Ibn al-Salah says, “A Ma’lul (defective) hadîth is one which appears to be sound, but thorough research reveals a disparaging factor.” Such factors can be:

1. declaring a hadîth Musnadwhen it is in fact Mursal, or Marfuwhen it is in fact Mauquf;

2. showing a reporter to narrate from his shaikh when in fact he did not meet the latter; or attributing a hadîth to one Companion when it in fact comes through another.61

Ibn al-Madinî (d. 324) says that such a defect can only be revealed if all the isnads of a particular hadîth are collated. In his book al-‘Ilal, he gives thirty-four Successors and the names of those Companions from whom each of them heard ahadîth directly. For example, he says that al-Hasan al-Basri (d. 110, aged 88) did not see Alî (d. 40), although he adds that there is a slight possibility that he may have seen him during his childhood in Madinah.62 Such information is very important, since for example, many Sufi traditions go back to al-Hasan al-Basri, who is claimed to report directly from Alî.

Being a very delicate branch of Mustalah al-Hadîth, only a few well-known traditionists such as Ibn al-Madini (d. 234), Ibn Abî Hatim al-Razi (d. 327), al-Khallal (d. 311) and al-Daraqutni (d. 385), have compiled books about it. Ibn Abî Hatim, in his Kitab al-‘Ilal, has given 2840 examples of Malul ahadîthabout a range of topics.

An example of a Malul hadîth is one transmitted by Muslim on the authority of Abû Hurairah, who reports the Prophet as saying,

“Allah created the land on Saturday; He created the mountains on Sunday; He created the trees on Monday; He created the things entailing labour on Tuesday; He created the light (or fish) on Wednesday; He scattered the beasts in it (the earth) on Thursday; and He created Adam after the afternoon of Friday, the last creation at the last hour of the hours of Friday, between the afternoon and night.”63

Regarding it, Ibn Taimiyyah says,

“Men more knowledgeable than Muslim, such as al-Bukhârî and Yahya b. Ma’in, have criticised it. Al-Bukhârî said, ‘This saying is not that of the Prophet, but one of Kab al-Ahbar’.”64 (Islamic Awareness, An Introduction To The Science Of Hadith The Classification Of Hadith: According To A Hidden Defect Found In The Isnad Or Text Of A Hadith https://www.islamic-awareness.org/hadith/ulum/asb6)

When we look at Saifullah’s footnote # 64 we discover that some Muslims believed that this tradition was actually sound:

64. Ibn Taimiyyah, Majmu’ Fatawa (37 vols., ed. Abd al-Rahmân b. Qasim & his son Muhammad, Riyad, 1398), 18:18f. Ibn Taimiyyah mentions that Imâm Muslim’s authentication of this hadîth is supported by Abû Bakr al-Anbari & Ibn al- Jauzi,whereas al-Baihaqi supports those who disparaged it. Al-Albani says that it was Ibn al-Madini who criticised it, whereas Ibn Ma’in did not (the latter was known to be very strict, both of them were shaikhs of al-Bukhârî).He further says that the hadîth is Sahih, and does not contradict the Qur’ân, contrary to the probable view of the scholars who criticised the hadîth, since what is mentioned in the Qur’ân is the creation of the heavens and the earth in six days, each of which may be like a thousand years, whereas the hadîth refers to the creation of the earth only, in days which are shorter than those referred to in the Qur’ân (Silsilah al-A hadîth as-Sahihah, no. 1833). (Ibid., Appendix & Endnotes https://www.islamic-awareness.org/hadith/ulum/aape; bold emphasis ours)

Hence, we find Muslims disputing amongst themselves over which hadiths are sound and which are not. Yet, the fact remains that Sahih Muslim is not the only Islamic source indicating that both Muhammad and his Companions believed in a young earth and that the sun was created after vegetation. Historians such as at-Tabari also record this fact. The following traditions are taken entirely from The History of al-Tabari, Volume 1- General Introduction and from the Creation to the Flood (trans. Franz Rosenthal, State University of New York Press, Albany 1989), pp. 187-193. Again, all bold and/or capital emphasis is mine:

“We have stated before that time is but hours of night and day and that the hours are but traversal by the sun and the moon of the degrees of the sphere. Now then, this being so, there is (also) a sound tradition from the Messenger of God told us by Hannad b. al-Sari, who also said that he read all of the hadith (to Abu Bakr)- Abu Bakr b. ‘Ayyash- Abu Sa’d al-Baqqal- ‘Ikrimah- Ibn Abbas: The Jews came to the Prophet and asked him about the creation of the heavens and the earth. He said: God created the earth on Sunday and Monday. He created the mountains and the uses they possess on Tuesday. On Wednesday, He created trees, water, cities and the cultivated barren land. These are four (days). He continued (citing the Qur’an): ‘Say: Do you really not believe in the One Who created the earth in two days, and set up others like Him? That is the Lord of the worlds. He made it firmly anchored (mountains) above it and blessed it and decreed that it contain the amount of food it provides, (all) in four days, equally for those asking’- for those who ask. On Thursday, He created heaven. On Friday, He created the stars, the sun, the moon, and the angels, until three hours remained. In the first of these three hours He created the terms (of human life), who would live and who would die. In the second, He cast harm upon everything that is useful for mankind. And in the third, (He created) Adam and had him dwell in Paradise. He commanded Iblis to prostrate himself before Adam, and He drove Adam out of Paradise at the end of the hour. When the Jews asked: What then, Muhammad? He said: ‘Then He sat straight upon the Throne.’ The Jews said: You are right, if you had finished, they said, with: Then He rested. Whereupon the Prophet got very angry, and it was revealed: ‘We have created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six days, and fatigue did not touch Us. Thus be patient with what you say.'”

According to this tradition from Ibn Abbas, Muhammad believed the earth and everything within it was created on the first four days whereas the heavens and the constellations were created afterwards on Thursday and Friday. Hence, Muhammad believed that vegetation was created nearly two days before the sun was even formed.

“According to al-Muthanna- al-Hajjaj- Hammad- ‘Ata’ b. al-Sa’ib- ‘Ikrimah: The Jews asked the Prophet: What about Sunday? The Messenger of God replied: On it, God created the earth and spread it out. They asked about Monday, and he replied: On it, He created Adam. They asked about Tuesday, and he replied: On it, He created the mountains, water, and so on. They asked about Wednesday, and he replied: Food. They asked about Thursday, and he replied: He created the heavens. They asked about Friday, and he replied: God created night and day. Then, when they asked about Saturday and mentioned God’s rest(ing on it), he exclaimed: God be praised! God then revealed: ‘We have created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six days, and fatigue did not touch Us.'”

Once again we have “food”, i.e. vegetation, appearing on Wednesday with the sun being created on Friday. Al-Tabari then comments:

“The two reports transmitted by us from the Messenger of God have made it clear that the sun and the moon were created after God had created many things of His creation. That is because the hadith of Ibn Abbas on the authority of the Messenger of God indicates that God created the sun and the moon on Friday. If this is so, earth and heaven and what was in them, except the angels and Adam, had been created before God created the sun and the moon. All this (thus) existed while there was no light and no day, since night and day are but nouns designating hours known through the traversal by the sun and the moon of the course of the sphere. Now, if it is correct that the earth and the heaven and what was between them, except what we have mentioned, were in existence when there was no sun and no moon, the conclusion is that all existed when there was no night or day. The same (conclusion results from) the following hadith of Abu Hurayrah reported on the authority of the Messenger of God: God created light on Wednesday – meaning by ‘light’ the sun, if God wills.”

Tabari is honest enough to state that both the Quran and Muhammad’s interpretation of it clearly place the sun after the earth and its nourishment had already been made.

Matthew 28:19: A Key Text to The Triunity of God Pt. 1

Muslim polemicist Bassam Zawadi reposted http://www.call-to-monotheism.com/matthew_28_19__by_biblical_unitarian_and_misha_al_ibn_abdullah_al_kadhi two articles that seek to undermine the Trinitarian Baptismal formula found in Matthew 28:19:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”

The first article was taken from an anti-Trinitarian unitarian heretical website, and the other one comes from a fellow Muhammadan of Zawadi’s.

Here is a part of what the unitarian heretics that Zawadi references claim regarding Jesus’ instruction to baptize in the name of the Triune God:

  1. Eusebius (c. 260—c. 340) was the Bishop of Caesarea and is known as “the Father of Church History.” Although he wrote prolifically, his most celebrated work is his Ecclesiastical History, a history of the Church from the Apostolic period until his own time. Today it is still the principal work on the history of the Church at that time. Eusebius quotes many verses in his writings, and Matthew 28:19 is one of them. He never quotes it as it appears today in modern Bibles, but always finishes the verse with the words “in my name.” For example, in Book III of his History, Chapter 5, Section 2, which is about the Jewish persecution of early Christians, we read:

But the rest of the apostles, who had been incessantly plotted against with a view to their destruction, and had been driven out of the land of Judea, went unto all nations to preach the Gospel, relying upon the power of Christ, who had said to them, “Go ye and make disciples of all the nations in my name.”

Again, in his Oration in Praise of Emperor Constantine, Chapter 16, Section 8, we read:

What king or prince in any age of the world, what philosopher, legislator or prophet, in civilized or barbarous lands, has attained so great a height of excellence, I say not after death, but while living still, and full of mighty power, as to fill the ears and tongues of all mankind with the praises of his name? Surely none save our only Savior has done this, when, after his victory over death, he spoke the word to his followers, and fulfilled it by the event, saying to them, “Go ye and make disciples of all nations in my name.”

Eusebius was present at the council of Nicaea and was involved in the debates about Arian teaching and whether Christ was God or a creation of God. We feel confident that if the manuscripts he had in front of him read “in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” he would never have quoted it as “in my name.” Thus, we believe that the earliest manuscripts read “in my name,” and that the phrase was enlarged to reflect the orthodox position as Trinitarian influence spread.


Let’s see if whether the confidence of these heretics and pseudo-Christians is well founded or misplaced.

First off, Matthew 28:19 is found in every extant manuscript of this Gospel that contains the entire chapter, whether Greek, Latin, or any other ancient language. This is a fact, which these heretics cannot simply brush aside.

Secondly, Matthew’s Trinitarian baptismal formula was cited by many church fathers long before Eusebius and the Council of Nicaea, just as the following citations amply attest.

Didache – Teaching of the Twelve Apostles

Here is some historical background regarding the Didache so that the readers can appreciate the importance of this document:

Since it was discovered in a monastery in Constantinople and published by P. Bryennios in 1883, the Didache or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles has continued to be one of the most disputed of early Christian texts. It has been depicted by scholars as anything between the original of the Apostolic Decree (c. 50 AD) and a late archaising fiction of the early third century. It bears no date itself, nor does it make reference to any datable external event, yet the picture of the Church which it presents could only be described as primitive, reaching back to the very earliest stages of the Church’s order and practice in a way which largely agrees with the picture presented by the NT, while at the same time posing questions for many traditional interpretations of this first period of the Church’s life. Fragments of the Didache were found at Oxyrhyncus (P. Oxy 1782) from the fourth century and in coptic translation (P. Lond. Or. 9271) from 3/4th century. Traces of the use of this text, and the high regard it enjoyed, are widespread in the literature of the second and third centuries especially in Syria and Egypt. It was used by the compilator of the Didascalia (C 2/3rd) and the Liber Graduun (C 3/4th), as well as being absorbed in toto by the Apostolic Constitutions (C c. 3/4th, abbreviated as Ca) and partially by various Egyptian and Ethiopian Church Orders, after which it ceased to circulate independently. Athanasius describes it as ‘appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of goodness’ [Festal Letter 39:7]. Hence a date for the Didache in its present form later than the second century must be considered unlikely, and a date before the end of the first century probable. (Jonathan Draper, Gospel Perspectives, v. 5, p. 269 http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/didache.html; bold emphasis ours)

And here is what Draper says in a footnote (op. cit., p. 284),

“A new consensus is emerging for a date c. 100 AD.”

Thus, the Didache is a very important witness since it is a late first century or early second century composition which gives us a window into the practices of believers around that time.

With that said, this document twice references the Matthean Baptismal formula, serving as an independent witness that this text was known and in use within the first century:

Chapter 7. Concerning Baptism. And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. But if you have no living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm. But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whoever else can; but you shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before. (Roberts-Donaldson translation http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/didache-roberts.html; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Here is another translation of this same passage:

7:1 But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize.
7:2 Having first recited all these things, baptize {in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit} in living (running) water.
7:3 But if thou hast not living water, then baptize in other water;
7:4 and if thou art not able in cold, then in warm.
7:5 But if thou hast neither, then pour water on the head thrice in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
7:6 But before the baptism let him that baptizeth and him that is baptized fast, and any others also who are able;
7:7 and thou shalt order him that is baptized to fast a day or two before. (J.B. Lightfoot’s translation http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/didache-lightfoot.html; bold and underline emphasis ours)

There are other witnesses besides the Didache.

Ignatius of Antioch (ca. AD. 107-112)

Chapter IX.-The Old Testament is Good: the New Testament is Better.

… The priests indeed, and the ministers of the word, are good; but the High Priest is better, to whom the holy of holies has been committed, and who alone has been entrusted with the secrets of God. The ministering powers of God are good. The Comforter is holy, and the Word is holy, the Son of the Father, by whom He made all things, and exercises a providence over them all. This is the Way which leads to the Father, the Rock, the Defence, the Key, the Shepherd, the Sacrifice, the Door of knowledge, through which have entered Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, Moses and all the company of the prophets, and these pillars of the world, the apostles, and the spouse of Christ, on whose account He poured out His own blood, as her marriage portion, that He might redeem her. All these things tend towards the unity of the one and only true God. But the Gospel possesses something transcendent [above the former dispensation], viz. the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, His passion, and the resurrection itself. For those things which the prophets announced, saying, “Until He come for whom it is reserved, and He shall be the expectation of the Gentiles,” have been fulfilled in the Gospel, [our Lord saying,] “Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” All then are good together, the law, the prophets, the apostles, the whole company [of others] that have believed through them: only if we love one another. (Epistle of Ignatius to the Philadelphians http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.v.vi.ix.html; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Chapter II.-Unity of the Three Divine Persons.

There is then one God and Father, and not two or three; One who is; and there is no other besides Him, the only true [God]. For “the Lord thy God,” saith [the Scripture], “is one Lord.” And again, “Hath not one God created us? Have we not all one Father? And there is also one Son, God the Word. For “the only-begotten Son,” saith [the Scripture], “who is in the bosom of the Father.” And again, “One Lord Jesus Christ.” And in another place, “What is His name, or what His Son’s name, that we may know? ” And there is also one Paraclete. For “there is also,” saith [the Scripture], “one Spirit,” since “we have been called in one hope of our calling.” And again, “We have drunk of one Spirit,” with what follows. And it is manifest that all these gifts [possessed by believers] “worketh one and the self-same Spirit.” There are not then either three Fathers, or three Sons, or three Paracletes, but one Father, and one Son, and one Paraclete. Wherefore also the Lord, when He sent forth the apostles to make disciples of all nations, commanded them to “baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” not unto one [person] having three names, nor into three [persons] who became incarnate, but into three possessed of equal honour. (Epistle of Ignatius to the Philippians http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.v.xvii.ii.html; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Irenaeus (ca. 130-200)

Chapter XVII.-The Apostles Teach that It Was Neither Christ Nor the Saviour, But the Holy Spirit, Who Did Descend Upon Jesus. The Reason for This Descent.

It certainly was in the power of the apostles to declare that Christ descended upon Jesus, or that the so-called superior Saviour [came down] upon the dispensational one, or he who is from the invisible places upon him from the Demiurge; but they neither knew nor said anything of the kind: for, had they known it, they would have also certainly stated it. But what really was the case, that did they record, [namely,] that the Spirit of God as a dove descended upon Him; this Spirit, of whom it was declared by Isaiah, “And the Spirit of God shall rest upon Him,” as I have already said. And again: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me.” That is the Spirit of whom the Lord declares, “For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” And again, giving to the disciples the power of regeneration into God, He said to them, “Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” For [God] promised, that in the last times He would pour Him [the Spirit] upon [His] servants and handmaids, that they might prophesy; wherefore He did also descend upon the Son of God, made the Son of man, becoming accustomed in fellowship with Him to dwell in the human race, to rest with human beings, and to dwell in the workmanship of God, working the will of the Father in them, and renewing them from their old habits into the newness of Christ. (Against Heresies, Book III http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ix.iv.xviii.html; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Tertullian (ca. 160-220)

Chapter XX.-Christ First Delivered the Faith. The Apostles Spread It; They Founded Churches as the Depositories Thereof. That Faith, Therefore, is Apostolic, Which Descended from the Apostles, Through Apostolic Churches.

… Accordingly, after one of these had been struck off, He commanded the eleven others, on His departure to the Father, to “go and teach all nations, who were to be baptized into the Father, and into the Son, and into the Holy Ghost.” Immediately, therefore, so did the apostles, whom this designation indicates as “the sent.”… (Tertullian The Prescription Against Heretics http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf03.v.iii.xx.html; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Chapter VI.-The Angel the Forerunner of the Holy Spirit. Meaning Contained in the Baptismal Formula.

Not that in the waters we obtain the Holy Spirit; but in the water, under (the witness of) the angel, we are cleansed, and prepared for the Holy Spirit. In this case also a type has preceded; for thus was John beforehand the Lord’s forerunner, “preparing His ways.” Thus, too, does the angel, the witness of baptism, “make the paths straight” for the Holy Spirit, who is about to come upon us, by the washing away of sins, which faith, sealed in (the name of) the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, obtains. For if “in the mouth of three witnesses every word shall stand:” -while, through the benediction, we have the same (three) as witnesses of our faith whom we have as sureties of our salvation too-how much more does the number of the divine names suffice for the assurance of our hope likewise! Moreover, after the pledging both of the attestation of faith and the promise of salvation under “three witnesses,” there is added, of necessity, mention of the Church; inasmuch as, wherever there are three, (that is, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,) there is the Church, which is a body of three. (Tertullian On Baptism http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf03.vi.iii.vi.html; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Chapter XIII.-Another Objection: Abraham Pleased God Without Being Baptized. Answer Thereto. Old Things Must Give Place to New, and Baptism is Now a Law.

Here, then, those miscreants provoke questions. And so they say, “Baptism is not necessary for them to whom faith is sufficient; for withal, Abraham pleased God by a sacrament of no water, but of faith.” But in all cases it is the later things which have a conclusive force, and the subsequent which prevail over the antecedent. Grant that, in days gone by, there was salvation by means of bare faith, before the passion and resurrection of the Lord. But now that faith has been enlarged, and is become a faith which believes in His nativity, passion, and resurrection, there has been an amplification added w the sacrament, viz., the sealing act of baptism; the clothing, in some sense, of the faith which before was bare, and which cannot exist now without its proper law. For the law of baptizing has been imposed, and the formula prescribed: “Go,” He saith, “teach the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The comparison with this law of that definition, “Unless a man have been reborn of water and Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of the heavens,” has tied faith to the necessity of baptism. Accordingly, all thereafter who became believers used to be baptized. Then it was, too, that Paul, when he believed, was baptized; and this is the meaning of the precept which the Lord had given him when smitten with the plague of loss of sight, saying, “Arise, and enter Damascus; there shall be demonstrated to thee what thou oughtest to do,” to wit-be baptized, which was the only thing lacking to him. That point excepted, he bad sufficiently learnt and believed “the Nazarene” to be “the Lord, the Son of God.” (Ibid.; bold and underline emphasis ours) 

Hippolytus (ca. 170-236)

  1. These things then, brethren, are declared by the Scriptures. And the blessed John, in the testimony of his Gospel, gives us an account of this economy (disposition) and acknowledges this Word as God, when he says, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. If, then, the Word was with God, and was also God, what follows? Would one say that he speaks of two Gods? I shall not indeed speak of two Gods, but of one; of two Persons however, and of a third economy (disposition), viz., the grace of the Holy Ghost. For the Father indeed is One, but there are two Persons, because there is also the Son; and then there is the third, the Holy Spirit. The Father decrees, the Word executes, and the Son is manifested, through whom the Father is believed on. The economy of harmony is led back to one God; for God is One. It is the Father who commands, and the Son who obeys, and the Holy Spirit who gives understanding: the Father who is above all, and the Son who is through all, and the Holy Spirit who is in all. And we cannot otherwise think of one God, but by believing in truth in Father and Son and Holy Spirit. For the Jews glorified (or gloried in) the Father, but gave Him not thanks, for they did not recognise the Son. The disciples recognised the Son, but not in the Holy Ghost; wherefore they also denied Him. The Father’s Word, therefore, knowing the economy (disposition) and the will of the Father, to wit, that the Father seeks to be worshipped in none other way than this, gave this charge to the disciples after He rose from the dead: Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. And by this He showed, that whosoever omitted any one of these, failed in glorifying God perfectly. For it is through this Trinity that the Father is glorified. For the Father willed, the Son did, the Spirit manifested. The whole Scriptures, then, proclaim this truth. (Against Noetus http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0521.htm; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Cyprian (ca. 200-258)

Lucius of Castra Galbae said: Since the Lord in His Gospel said, You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt should have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out of doors, and to be trodden under foot of men. Matthew 5:13 And again, after His resurrection, sending His apostles, He gave them charge, saying, All power is given unto me, in heaven and in earth. Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Matthew 28:18-19 Since, therefore, it is manifest that heretics— that is, the enemies of Christ— have not the sound confession of the sacrament; moreover, that schismatics cannot season others with spiritual wisdom, since they themselves, by departing from the Church, which is one, having lost the savour, have become contrary to it—let it be done as it is written, The house of those that are contrary to the law owes a cleansing. And it is a consequence that those who, having been baptized by people who are contrary to the Church, are polluted, must first be cleansed, and then at length be baptized. (The Seventh Council of Carthage: On the Baptism of Heretics http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0508.htm; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Victorinus (ca. 270-303)

  1. “And His voice as it were the voice of many waters.”] The many waters are understood to be many peoples, or the gift of baptism that He sent forth by the apostles, saying: “Go ye, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Victorinus Commentary on the Apocalypse of the Blessed John http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf07.vi.ii.i.html; bold and underline emphasis ours)

The Acts of Peter

V… Now when there was a calm upon the ship in Hadria (the Adriatic), Theon showed it to Peter, saying unto him: If thou wilt account me worthy, whom thou mayest baptize with the seal of the Lord thou hast an opportunity. For all that were in the ship had fallen asleep, being drunken. And Peter went down by a rope and baptized Theon in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost: and he came up out of the water rejoicing with great joy, and Peter also was glad because God had accounted Theon worthy OF HIS NAME. Arid it came to pass when Theon was baptized, there appeared in the same place a youth shining and beautiful, saying unto them: Peace be unto you. And immediately Peter and Theon went up and entered into the cabin; and Peter took bread and gave thanks unto the Lord which had accounted him worthy of his holy ministry, and for that the youth had appeared unto them, saying: Peace be unto you. And he said: Thou best and alone holy one, it is thou that hast appeared unto us, O GOD JESUS CHRIST, and in thy name hath this man now been washed and sealed with thy holy seal. Therefore in thy name do I impart unto him thine eucharist, that he may be thy perfect servant without blame for ever. (Early Christian Writings http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/actspeter.html; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)

More importantly, Zawadi and his cohorts are simply mistaken concerning Eusebius since this church father did in fact cite the Trinitarian Baptismal formula. As the following NT scholar explains:

We follow here the longer reading of UBS4=NA27 for Matt 28.19.

Eusebius’ shorter reading (otherwise unattested): πορευθέντες μαθητεύσατε πάντα τά έθνη έν τω όνόματι μου, διδάσκοντες… [Demonstratio 3.6, 7(bis); 9.11; Hist. Eccl. III.5.2; Psalms 65.6; 67.34; 76.20 (59.9 not the same reading); Isaiah 18.2; 34.16 (v.l.); Theophania 4.16; 5.17; 5.46; 5.49; Oratio 16.8] is not to be regarded as original (despite Conybeare, ‘The Eusebian Form of the Text Matth. 28, 19’; ‘Three Early Doctrinal Modifications of the Text of the Gospels’, pp. 102-108; History of New Testament Criticism, pp. 74-77; Lohmeyer, Matthäus, p. 412; Vermes, Jesus the Jew, p. 200; Green, ‘The Command to Baptize and Other Matthean Interpolations’, pp. 60-62; ‘Matthew 28:19, Eusebius, and the lex orandi’).The omission of the phrase can be explained as due to Eusebius’ tendency to abbreviate, as Eusebius elsewhere often cites the longer form [Contra Marcellum I.1.9; I.1.36; Theologia III. 5.22; EpCaesarea 3 (Socrates, Eccl.Hist 1.8); Psalms 117.1-4; Theophania 4.8]. The shorter reading ‘in my name’ could have been formed as a result of harmonising Luke 24.47 and Mark 16.17 (as seems to occur in Psalms 59.9). Note that Eusebius also alludes to this passage without using either ‘in my name’ or the full clause [Demonstratio 1.3, 4, 6; Psalms 46.4; 95.3; 144.9; Isaiah 41.10; Theophania 3.4; Theologia III.3]. See further Hubbard, The Matthean Redaction of a Primitive Apostolic Commissioning, pp. 151-175; Schaberg, The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, pp. 27-29 (who refer to earlier studies). (Peter M. Head, Christology and the Synoptic Problem: An Argument for Markan Priority (Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series) [Cambridge University Press, 1997], pp. 212-213; bold emphasis ours)

And here are two citations from Eusebius where we find him quoting Matthew’s Trinitarian formula:

  1. As we have received from the Bishops who preceded us, and in our first catechisings, and when we received the Holy Laver, and as we have learned from the divine Scriptures, and as we believed and taught in the presbytery, and in the Episcopate itself, so believing also at the time present, we report to you our faith, and it is this :—
  2. We believe in One God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of all things visible and invisible. And in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, God from God, Light from Light, Life from Life, Son Only-begotten, first-born of every creature, before all the ages, begotten from the Father, by Whom also all things were made; Who for our salvation was made flesh, and lived among men, and suffered, and rose again the third day, and ascended to the Father, and will come again in glory to judge the quick and dead. And we believe also in One Holy Spirit: believing each of these to be and to exist, the Father truly Father, and the Son truly Son, and the Holy Spirit truly Holy Spirit, as also our Lord, sending forth His disciples for the preaching, said, Go teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit Matthew 28:19. Concerning Whom we confidently affirm that so we hold, and so we think, and so we have held aforetime, and we maintain this faith unto the death, anathematizing every godless heresy. That this we have ever thought from our heart and soul, from the time we recollect ourselves, and now think and say in truth, before God Almighty and our Lord Jesus Christ do we witness, being able by proofs to show and to convince you, that, even in times past, such has been our belief and preaching. (Letter of Eusebius of Cæsarea to the people of his Diocese http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2804.htm; bold and underline emphasis ours)


“That at the outset he said that he would make them fishers of men, and in the end openly after his example they should make disciples of all peoples, together with his peculiar aid (or power).  From the Gospel of Matthew:– After his resurrection from the dead, all of them together, as was commanded them, went to Galilee, as he told them.  But when they saw him some of them worship him, but others doubted.  But he drew near, gazed on them and said, All power in heaven and on earth is given to me of my Father. Go ye and make disciples of all peoples, and baptise them in the name of Father and Son and Holy Ghost. And teach them to observe all that I have commanded you. And, behold, I am with you always even to the end of the world.” (Theophania of Eusebius, published and translated by Dr. Samuel Lee, 4.8, p. 223; bold and underline emphasis ours)

This in itself sufficiently puts to rest the assertion that Matthew 28:19 did not originally contain the Trinitarian Baptismal formula.

However, we have more for Zawadi and his brand of “Christian” heretics in the next part of the rebuttal.




Uniplurality in the Hebrew Scriptures

How the Hebrew Scriptures Show One God with Multiple Persons By. Timothy W. Dunkin

{Note: This article is taken from Dunkin’s now defunct website. I post it here for the benefit of the readers since it is an excellent discussion of the OT evidence for the multi-Personal nature of God.}

One of the most serious disagreements which Jews have with Christian theology concerns the doctrine of the Trinity. “The Tanakh,” it is claimed, “knows nothing of the Trinity.” The Trinity was invented by the early church and was completely unknown in Judaism, so some would assert. However, these are far from true, and in the following, I endeavor to demonstrate that the Hebrew Scriptures affirm the uniplurality of God in a way which prefigures the three-in-one Godhead revealed more fully in HaBrit HaChadassah.

Before embarking on this examination, a brief overview of exactly what is the Trinity is in order. This is necessary because so many out there (especially those who attack the Trinity) do not seem to have the slightest idea of what Christianity really is teaching on this matter. Let us begin what the Trinity is not. Simply put, the Trinity is not “three gods” (tritheism), as some forms of unitarianism (including Islam) teach. My experience has been that those who make the “three gods” claim, especially if they are Muslim, generally do so out of purposeful ignorance, because they are not willing to actually investigate or receive any insight into what Christians are really saying. The Trinity also is not “one God successively appearing as three different modes,” as is taught by modern day modalists such as the Oneness or “Jesus Only” Pentecostals. Modalism, as a general system, teaches that God is one person which reveals Himself at different times as different manifestations, but would reject that God reveals Himself as three separate and distinct manifestations at the same time. Errors such as these abound, though, because the Trinity is a difficult concept to grasp. For this reason, heresies concerning the Trinity were some of the most numerous and persistent in all the early church period.

In contravention to these, the Trinity is a uniplural monotheistic conception of God. It is monotheistic in that New Testament Christianity quite clearly teaches and affirms the sole existence of God as deity (Romans 3:29-30, Galatians 3:20, I Timothy 2:5). At the same time, the New Testament is quite explicit in teaching the deity of the Father (John 17:1-3, I Peter 1:2, etc.), the Son (John 1:1-3, Titus 2:13, etc.), and of the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4, II Corinthians 3:17-18, etc.). Are these three taught to be separate Gods, and should they be taken as such? Absolutely not. The Trinity, as taught in Scripture and as affirmed by Christianity since its earliest days, consists of three distinct personalities of God which are united in essence and being (Matthew 28:19, II Corinthians 13:14). The three Persons of the Godhead are distinct in function and action, but yet, they share a common essential nature and existence. Thus, while the Father is not the Son is not the Spirit, being distinct personalities of the Godhead, they yet share the common essence of God but are not understood by Christians to be three separate Gods (which would imply heterogeneous essences).

It is for this reason that all three persons of the Godhead can appear together as distinct beings, as in Matthew 3:16-17, a succinct Scriptural refutation of modalism such as taught by the Oneness Pentecostals and other Sabellians. Yet, it can also be said of them, “these three are one” (I John 5:7), as was done by Tertullian and Cyprian so long ago. No picture can be drawn which would completely illustrate this concept, but some can come close. Imagine, if you will, a great river. Our river flows along its course until it reaches a certain point where we cut two additional channels, and the water now flows into all three. One channel leads to a hydroelectric dam, where the water cascades and electricity is generated. The second channel flows into a depression creating a lake where we can fish, swim, and otherwise recreate ourselves. The third channel is used to float logs to a downstream sawmill. After these three channels find their use, they are directed back together, uniting, and continuing on downstream. Though each of these three channels is put to a different use (distinct personality, if you will), they all retain the same essence of being water from this particular river(having the same proportion of dissolved chemicals, oxygen content, etc.) The water in any one channel is the same as that in the other two (but not necessarily the very same as water from some other river in some other channel). They share the same nature and reality, though they each find differing uses, follow differing paths, etc. This is a crude picture of the Godhead, with three personalities of God sharing the same being and essence, yet God manifesting Himself in three distinct ways to interact with mankind according to His purposes.

The point to this article is not to expound upon the New Testament teaching of the Trinity, per se, and as such, I shall refrain from entering too deeply on this subject. However, from the above, it should be easily seen that Christians do not teach either tritheism or modalism. Now, if non-Christians wish to misinterpret what Christians teach on this subject, there is nothing but the threat of cognitive dissonance stopping them. However, the anti-trinitarian of whatever persuasion cannot rightly claim that Christianity has, does, or should teach anything other than the trinitarian uniplurality with which the churches have been familiar for nearly twenty centuries. The reader who has questions and objections about the Christian teaching of the Trinity should find them more than answered at Glenn Miller’s excellent overview of the Trinity.

The Testimony of the Peculiar Hebrew Plural-Singular Grammatical Construction

Now to the matter which concerns us in this article, that of the uniplurality of God which is presented in the Hebrew scriptures. The best place to begin investigating this issue would be in the many places throughout the Hebrew scriptures where we find God referred to as “Elohim,” a masculine plural declension of “Eloah.” Yet, wherever God is concerned, this plural form is coupled with a singular verb construction. Thus, the being of God is spoken of as a plural entity, while yet also as a singular being. This type of singular-with-plural grammatical construction is found in numerous places, with probably the most programmatic being,

“And God [Elohim] said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…. (Genesis 1:26)

The verb “said” in the above verse is a masculine singular, but yet the verb “Elohim” is plural. Incidentally, this verse, as well as the one following, are further of interest because in verse 26, “our image” and “our likeness” take a first person plural (“our”) declension for the noun. Yet, in verse 27, “So God created man in his own image,” “image” has a third person masculine singular (“his”) declension and the verb “created” which is coupled with the plural form “Elohim” has a singular conjugation. The singular God is said to have an “image” in both a singular and a plural sense (“his” image and “our” image) and in both verses, the plural Elohim form is directly coupled with a verb with a singular conjugation. At any rate, other examples of this type of noun-verb number disagreement would include Genesis 3:22, Genesis 11:7, Joshua 24:19, etc. One especially forceful example of this grammatical construction in which the phenomenon is brought to the forefront is in Isaiah 6:8,

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us….”

Here, the Lord is specifically said to be speaking, and in mid-sentence He changes His self-reference from singular to plural. In this passage, the Lord appears to be seeking to emphasize His uniplural nature. This seems to bear with the context of the passage, as in v. 3 prior, we see the three-fold ascription of holiness to God. These constructions differ pointedly from the places in the Hebrew scriptures where false gods of the nations around Israel are referred to as “elohim” in that the plural noun is nearly always coupled with a plural verb conjugation (with a very few exceptions which will be dealt with below).

These singular-plural constructions have proven perplexing to Jewish commentators at various times. Rav Samuel ben Nachman wrote, expressing his own understanding that the singular-plural constructions tended to support the position of the trinitarian Christians,

“When Moses was engaged in writing the Torah, he had to write the work of each day. When he came to the verse, AND GOD SAID; LET US MAKE MAN, etc., he said: ‘Sovereign of the Universe! Why dost Thou furnish an excuse to heretics?’ (for maintaining a plurality of deity). ‘Write,’ replied He; ‘whoever wishes to err may err.'”1

Nachman saw that Genesis 1:26 was furnishing “an excuse to heretics” in that it gave them reason to believe and teach “a plurality of deity.” His statement against the plurality of the singular deity strongly suggests that he has the trinitarian doctrine in mind. Rabbi Simlai also recognized the difficulty produced by this singular-plural phenomenon, and was at a loss to provide a convincing explanation for it when questioned about it by “heretics.”

“Wherever you find a point supporting the heretics, you find the refutation at its side. They [the heretics] asked him again: ‘What is meant by, AND GOD SAID: LET US MAKE MAN?’ ‘Read what follows,’ replied he: ‘not, “And gods created War@b=Y!w^ [plural verb] man” is written here, but “And God created ar*b=Y!w^ [singular verb]’ (Genesis 1:27). When they [the heretics] went out his disciples said to him: ‘Them you have dismissed with a mere makeshift, but how will you answer us?”2

Here, he basically blew some smoke at the “heretics.” They had questioned him about why Genesis 1:26 uses a plural noun with the singular verb conjugation, and he responded with a non-answer where he simply assumes the “elohim” to be singular (simply impossible) and joins it with the singular verb in v. 27, without any explanation as to why the “elohim” in v. 27 was any different than that in v. 26. His pupils recognized the deficiency of his response.

One of the most common arguments forwarded against reliance upon this singular-plural grammatical oddity is to suggest that the plural nouns used to refer to God are in fact the “plural of majesty,” also known as “the royal we.” God was merely speaking of Himself in majestic terms befitting His position and dignity. Unfortunately for the unitarians who make this argument, it has no basis in fact, and is an anachronism of much later usage back onto the earlier Hebrew revelation. As Nassi has pointed out, the Hebrew scriptures show no evidence of any figure using the plural of majesty to refer to themselves, not David, not Pharaoh, not Nebuchadnezzar, nor any others who might rightly be expected to have used this artifice had it existed in their day. Further, Nassi points out that the use by monarchs of “the royal we” always appears in the form of direct commands or addresses, yet the biblical use of “Elohim” finds just as much use in narrative and descriptive passages.3

In fact, the plural of majesty does not even seem to have found any sort of widespread use until the rise of centralized, strong nation states in Europe during the Renaissance. Classics scholar and self-described monarchist Richard Toporoski argues that the artifice first appeared in the reign of Diocletian (284-305 AD), and that its use in Europe was carried on and passed down by the Germanic kings who eventually brought about the fall of the Western Empire.4 Richard Davies also pointed out that the “plural of majesty” did not exist until more modern times, and certainly wasn’t applicable to the Hebrew scriptures.5 Concerning the “plural of majesty,” Genesius states,

“Jewish grammarians call such plurals…plur. virium or virtutum; later grammarians call them plur. excellentiaemagnitudinis, or plur. maiestaticus. This last name may have been suggested by the ‘we’ used by kings when speaking of themselves (cf. already I Macc. 10:19, 11:31); and the plural used by God in Genesis 1:26, and 11:7, Isaiah 6:8 has been incorrectly explained in this way…It is best explained as a plural of self-deliberation. The use of the plural as a form of respectful address is quite foreign to Hebrew.”6

Even within strictly rabbinical sources, the plural of majesty was not considered to be a really viable explanation for these troublesome passages. Ibn Ezra quotes Rav Saadiah Gaon’s commentary on Genesis where that commentator attempts to explain Genesis 1:26 on the basis of a majestic plural artifice. Ibn Ezra refutes this view, and suggests that God was speaking to the angels in consultation instead.7 Ibn Ezra’s position, often itself suggested by modern Jewish and other unitarian expositors, fails both because of it would ultimately suggest that the angels share the same “image” as God, and also because Isaiah 40:12-14 clearly denies that there was any others besides Himself from whom He took counsel in creation.

Another objection forwarded by unitarians is that there are instances in the Hebrew scriptures where other beings besides God are referred to as “elohim” and coupled with a singular verb conjugation or other grammatical part. This can be found in reference to various false gods such as Dagon (Judges 16:23, I Samuel 5:7), Chemosh (Judges 11:24), Baal (I Kings 18:24), and Baal-Zebub (II Kings 1:2) and to the spirit of Samuel (I Samuel 28:13). Moses is also referred to in this manner (Exodus 4:16), and a similar construction using the plural “adoney” (lit. lords of) is applied to Joseph as master of Egypt (Genesis 42:33).

What first needs to be understood is that, statistically speaking, these examples are insignificant. The vast majority of places where “elohim” is used to refer to something other than God, the grammatical construct is entirely plural. What makes these scattered examples even less significant is when we weigh them against the 2500+ times in which the singular-plural construction is used with “Elohim” where God clearly is the referent, either specified or contextually. This dichotomy strongly suggests that we are being directed to the peculiar use of this artifice with respect to God.

There is some suggestion that “intensifying plurals” may find use in the Hebrew scriptures (these not being “plurals of majesty” in the normally understood sense, however.)

“A plural form of the Heb. noun eloah describing Deity. Some erroneously regard it as the plural of El (q.v.), but it is not from the same root. It is usually translated ‘God,’ although sometimes it is a true plural and must be understood as “gods” (Ex 12:12; Gen 35:2,4; Deut 29:18; 32:17). It is sometimes applied to men as God’s representatives (ex 21:6, RSV; 22:8-9,28, RSV). The term may refer to angels (Ps 8:5, cf. RSV; 82:1), although these passages are debated. Usually elohim takes a singular verb. However, it seems occasionally to govern a plural form of the verb (Gen 20:13; 35:7; II Sam 7:23; Ps 58:11, Heb.). What is the significance of this apparent inconsistency? Some would regard it as evidence of the polytheistic origin of the term. In fact, other people of the same era used divine titles in a similar way. The Akkad. plural ilanu (gods) was applied to a single deity. Pharaoh was addressed as ilania (“my gods”) by his Canaanite vassals in the Amarna letters. In the OT the plural Elohim is applied to Chemosh, the god of the Ammonites (Jud 11:24); Ashtoreth, the goddess of Sidon (I Kgs 11:5); and Baal-Zebub of Ekron (II Kgs 2:1).

“The significant fact, however, is not the origin of the word, for this cannot be definitely known. Rather, it is the way it is used of Israel’s God in the OT. When used of Yahweh, it refers to the sole God of the world, who is addressed in the plural as the fullness of Deity…..”8

Freedman notes also,

“The striking feature of the OT texts lies in the use of this plural form Elohim in order to designate the one God of Israel. One could think of a plural of majesty; however, it is most probable that this plural should be understood in the sense of an intensification and eventually as an absolutization: God of gods, the highest God, quintessence of all divine powers, the only God who represents the divine in a comprehensive and absolute way. In this function the term Elohim can stand as a surrogate for the name of the biblical God; e.g., Gen 1:1 (P): In the beginning Elohim created the heaven and the earth.”9

Even with this, however, it seems to be suggestive that this intensification would be practiced so freely with God, but yet would be so scattered with other figures in the Bible to whom it would rightly (though perhaps not as intensively) be applied. This intensification which is applied to God over 2500 times makes barely a whimper towards anyone else, even though the Hebrew scriptures seem to show no qualms about applying other honorifics which are used of God to men as well (king, lord, master, etc.) Further, outside of the Hebrew writings, this structure is rare in other Ancient Near East documents. In fact, in nearly all Ancient Near East documents from outside Israel, plural forms refer to plural referents, not to either a “plural of majesty” or an intensive pluralization, with a few exceptions mentioned above by Francisco. This all suggests that the extensive Hebrew usage is signifying something out of the norm, and that its use goes far beyond a simple intensifying plural.

Further, in the examples given above as being raised in objection by unitarians, we see that these need not necessarily be considered as independent examples of one other than God being referred to with intensifying language. For instance, the references to the various false gods (Chemosh, Dagon, the Baals) are presented in a dialogical and narrative format. They were part of accounts being rendered for Israelite readers. As such, it would seem logical that these accounts would be written so as to present the information in a way which would appear most familiar and therefore understandable to the Israelites. The passages involved would be trying to emphasize to their readership what these false gods were supposed to be to their Philistines and Moabites worshippers. Just as Israel viewed YHWH to be the Highest God, their Lord, their Master, etc., so the pagans viewed their gods in similar terms. What better way to emphasize this to Israelite readers than to couch the terminology in such a way that they would most readily identify with. It is almost as if the text is implicitly saying, “Israelites! Just as YOU think of the Lord our Elohim, so do these pagans think of THEIR gods.” An analogous situation would be for the Christian today who thinks of God, and for whom a writing might give the Muslim deity Allah the title “god,” so that the Christian can identify and understand what Muslims believe about their own object of worship.

The use of “elohim” in I Samuel 28:13 is perhaps related, and may reflect a carrying over of Canaanite usage into Hebrew so as to aid in Israelite understanding of the events portrayed. In this passage, Saul has consulted the witch of En-Dor, who calls up the spirit of Samuel. When Samuel appears, the witch is frightened, and cries out, “I saw gods (elohim) ascending out of the earth.” This plural reference to the spirit of Samuel is taken by some to be evidence against the notion that “elohim” reflects a uniplural understanding of the Godhead, since Samuel obviously only had one spirit. However, del Olmo Lete informs us of some specifics of the Canaanite pantheon, in which the gods ilhm (thought to be cognate with “elohim”) appear. The ilhm do not find a place among the major gods in the pantheon, which argues against the idea of ilhm being a “majestic plural.” He suggests that the ilhm were kings who had been deified after death.10 Now, the witch at En-Dor likely resided in an area still more heavily populated with the indigenous Canaanites, since 28:3 tells us that Saul had made a purge of witches and wizards prior to this consultation. This purge, naturally, would have been less effective in an area still not fully secured by the Israelites, which we know was the case in some places well into the time of David (e.g. which is why David still had to conquer Jerusalem from the Jebusites). This witch may have either been Canaanite herself, or else an Israelite who had apostatized and fallen into the practice of necromancy. When this witch brought up the spirit of Samuel, she may have assumed that he was one of the ilhm found in Canaanite mythology, and even have thought others would be coming up with him. Hence, her use of a plural word like “elohim” to describe the entity brought before her.

The use of intensive language to refer to Moses and Joseph (who is not specifically called an “elohim,” but is referred to with the similar “adoney”) reflects the issue of relativestatus, and does not reflect anything indicative about God Himself either way. Moses was being told that he would be a “god” unto Pharaoh, which as God’s messenger for the task, meant that Moses would be performing the miracles, etc. which would make him appear to wield and have on call much more power than Pharaoh could muster. Further, as YHWH’s representative through whom He dealt with Pharaoh, Moses was vicariously invested with the authority of God, as manifested to Pharaoh, and thus could have been (relatively) understood in terms of “elohim” to Pharaoh, as Elohim was to the Israelites (like our example concerning the false gods above). Indeed, it seems possible, given what was seen above about Pharaoh being referred to as ilania by his vassals, that Moses’ being called “elohim” may have been an implicit slap at Pharaoh’s pretentions. Likewise, Joseph’s intensification comes as a result of the much greater power (of life and death!) which he held over his brothers and the entire land of Egypt, which in a vicarious and figurative sense would have made him appear to wield the same sort of power as the Lord (Adonai) did, thus why the term was used by Joseph’s brethren in describing to Jacob the events of their visit to Egypt.

Because of these, we should see that the use of “elohim” and other supposedly intensifying language may not actually be “intensifying” beyond the simple fact that this sort of “god-like” language is being used to help Israelite readers better understand what they were dealing with. Hence, these might not be independent examples of “intensifying pluralization,” and as there is then no basis for comparison, there is really no necessity to consider the singular-plural usage of Elohim with regard to God as an intensifying plural.

Ultimately, we should recognize that the use of the plural “elohim” is in and of itself not a proof for the uniplurality of the Godhead, but it is suggestive of that fact, especially when combined with the appearance in the Hebrew scriptures of apparent interpersonality within God Himself.

“The significant fact, however, is not the origin of the word, for this cannot be definitely known. Rather, it is the way it is used of Israel’s God in the OT. When used of Yahweh, it refers to the sole God of the world, who is addressed in the plural as the fullness of Deity. We can be sure that no polytheistic elements are allowed to appear in Gen 1. Yet, it is here that the plural is most obvious (Gen 1:26). Regardless of one’s explanation of the reason for the plural emphasis here, he cannot ignore the plain meaning of the passage. In some sense God is plural; yet He is also singular (cf. the singular verbs in v. 27). Although the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is not taught in the chapter, it emerges from it.”11

Multipersonality in the Godhead

As Francisco stated above, there is a testimony of multipersonality with the Godhead (a term here used to refer simply to the nature and being of God, not the more specific Christian sense of “Trinity”). A survey of some relevant passages in the Hebrew scriptures will hopefully illuminate this point.

Genesis 19:24, “Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;”

In this passage, we clearly see two distinct aspects of YHWH (appears in both places in the Hebrew text) acting in concert, yet as distinct personalities. One YHWH is the active element, raining the fire down upon Sodom and Gomorrah. The other YHWH is the passive originator of that fire. This construction is very unusual for the Hebrew Scriptures, with God’s actions presented in the third person as acting upon God in another third person manifestation. That these two YHWHs were understood as distinct personalities by early Jewish commentarians is shown in that the Targum of Jonathan at this verse inserts “the Memra of the Lord” in place of the first YHWH.

Genesis 48:15-16, “And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, the Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads…”

Here, Jacob is calling upon God to bless his grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh, and he refers back to God’s prior provision, while calling the angel of the LORD with whom he had so many dealing AS God, equating the two. Jacob remembers that God had fed him all his life long, and that the angel had redeemed him from evil, in the parallel construction commonly found in Hebrew, whereby a statement is made, and then restated using different terms. Thus, he seems to be referring to God and to this hypostatic messenger both as being God.

Isaiah 48:12-17, “Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last. Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together. All ye, assemble yourselves, and hear; which among them hath declared these things? The LORD hath loved him: he will do his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall be on the Chaldeans. I, even I, have spoken; yea, I have called him: I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous. Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me. Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.”

Here, the LORD God, the Redeemer of Israel, is speaking, identifies Himself as “the first and the last” (a title for God, Isaiah 44:6), and yet refers to “the Lord God” and “his Spirit” as seemingly separate beings which have “sent” Him (i.e. interacted with Him in a personal way). Thus, He is the Lord God, and yet, the Lord God and His Spirit, have both sent Him. Again, we note that this construction of third person God apparently interacting with third person God is extremely unusual in the Hebrew Scriptures, it is not a typical way in which God is referenced.

Isaiah 63:7-11, “I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses. For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them. Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people, saying, Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? where is he that put his holy Spirit within him?”

Here, we again see indication of separate personality which is tied in with God. The Lord was the Saviour of the children of Israel, yet “the angel of his presence” also saved them, and their rebellion “vexed” His holy Spirit, indicating personality on the part of that Spirit…how can an impersonal object be “vexed”?

Hosea 1:7, “But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.”

Again, we see one who is identified (v. 3) as YHWH utilizing another who is called “YHWH Eloheyhem” (note the plural construction there!) to save the house of Judah.

Additionally, we see the Hebrew Scriptures containing several passages in which the “angel of the LORD” (hw*hy= Ea^l=m^) is spoken to, dealt with, or acts in ways which befit God alone.

Genesis 16:7-13, “And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren. And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?”

Hagar is visited by the angel of the LORD, and is given a promise for her son Ishmael similar to that which God gave to Abraham for Isaac. In v. 12, she calls upon “the name of the LORD that spake unto her,” suggesting that this angel is a hypostasis of the LORD Himself. Normally in the Hebrew scriptures, when a non-divine messenger is relaying a message from God, it is clearly indicated in the text that the messenger cannot be confused with God (such as when a prophet states, “the word of the LORD came unto me, saying…” or “The LORD spake unto Moses saying…”).

Genesis 32:28-30, “And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”

In our passage above, after wrestling with the angel all night, Jacob states that he had “seen God face to face.” That phrase leaves no doubt that Jacob understood the angel to BE God, for he had seen no other entity BUT that angel “face to face” in that episode. Further, when Jacob asked the angel His name, the angel said, “Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name?” This could indicate to us that the angel was emphasizing to Jacob that he ALREADY KNEW His name, since the angel had just renamed Jacob “Israel” (meaning “he will rule as God”), and told him that he had power with God as well as with men. Jacob thus inferred from this answer that he was dealing with God then and there, leading to his exclamation in v. 30.

Joshua 5:13-15, “And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the LORD’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.”

Here, Joshua is confronted by the captain of the Lord’s host, appearing in the form of a man, who commands him to remove his shoes because of holy ground. As can be seen from the incident of the burning bush with Moses, what makes ground holy is the immediate presence of God, as He calls and directs His servants for some special service (see Exodus 3, also Isaiah 6). This suggests that the captain of the Lord’s hosts was informing Joshua as to who He was, in a way which Joshua (being Moses’ tutelary) would have readily understood.

Judges 13:3-22, “And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son….But the angel of the LORD did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the LORD. And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.” (v.3, 21-22)

In this portion, Manoah and his wife are dealt with by the angel of the LORD. After being instructed on how to raise the child they would be given, the angel of the LORD “does wondrously” when they offer up a kid to God, and ascends into heaven from the flames of the altar. After this, Manoah realizes who they had really been interacting with, and exclaimed that they had “seen God.” One other interesting portion of this passage is v. 16, “And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread: and if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the LORD. For Manoah knew not that he was an angel of the LORD.” Here, the angel of the LORD directs Manoah to offer the kid to the LORD, which would seem to suggest that the angel was disclaiming Himself from being the LORD. However, the verse explicitly states that Manoah did not yet realize that the stranger was the angel of the LORD, and for him to make the offering to the angel of the LORD would, for all intents and purposes, have been idolatry in Manoah’s heart. The angel knew this and was commanding Manoah to abstain from what, to him, would at that particular time have been a possible temptation to idolatry.

Zechariah 3:1-5, “And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by.”

Here, the angel of the LORD appears to Joshua the high priest. The angel performs the act of cleansing Joshua from his iniquities, which is something only God can do (Isaiah 43:25).

In these and other places, we see that the Targumim (Aramaic commentarian translations of the Hebrew scriptures made mostly during the intertestamental period) would often interpret these places where God appears to display multiple distinct persons by substituting “the MEMRA of the LORD” (Memra is Aramaic for “word”) in place of one of the persons of YHWH. This seems to indicate that the Targumists understood there to be distinct persons of God acting in concert, sharing the same essence of Godhead. Further, the substitution of “Memra of the LORD” would often be made where “angel of the LORD” is found in the Hebrew text, which suggests the understanding that the angel of the LORD was a manifestation of God Himself, with the messenger being so closely associated with the sender of the message as to be considered a divine hypostasis (see my article on Jeremiah 23:5-6 for more detail).

We see that this interpretation did find some support among the rabbis living before the modern age. Rav Simeon ben Jochai states concerning the Angel of the LORD,

“There is a perfect Man, who is an Angel. This Angel is Metatron, the Keeper of Israel; He is a man in the image of the Holy One, blessed be He, who is an Emanation from Him; yea, He is Jehovah; of Him cannot be said, He is created, formed or made; but He is the Emanation from God. This agrees exactly with what is written, Jeremiah 23:5-6, Of tsemach dwd, David’s Branch, that though He shall be a perfect man, yet He is The Lord our Righteousness.”12

Further, Rav Moses be Nachman says,

“It is said: An Angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire, and (Elohim) God called unto him. This is all one, namely, whether he saith The Angel, or (Elohim) God spake to him out of the midst of the bush. . . Therefore be not astonished that Moses hid his face before this Angel; because this Angel mentioned here is the Angel, the Redeemer, concerning whom it is written; I am the God of Bethel; and here, I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. It is the same of whom it is said, My name is in Him.”13

As such, the understanding of the angel of the LORD as being YHWH Himself cannot be explained away solely as a Christian innovation.

The Testimony of the Sh’ma

Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:”

Sh’ma Yisrael YHWH Eloheinu YHWH Echad

Deuteronomy 6:4 is part of the great Jewish confession of faith known as the Sh’ma. It was a great commitment of faithfulness made on the part of Israel to God, and is often considered to be the foundational statement of Jewish monotheism. As such, this verse is also one which many unitarian apologists, Jewish or otherwise, turn to in their efforts to put a difference between the testimony of the Hebrew scriptures and that of HaBrit HaChadassah.

However, far from opposing the idea of uniplurality in the Godhead, the Sh’ma is actually somewhat supportive of this concept. What must be understood is that the fact that the Sh’ma says that God is one does not have much bearing on the issue of uniplurality versus strict unitarianism. It is referring to God being “one” in the sense of uniqueness, set apart from all others which are called gods. He has no peers, no equals, none who can rightly and justly share the name and preeminence of “God” with Him. It, in its natural context, says nothing about God being “unitarian.”

The uniplurality of God is suggested, however, by the use of “echad” in the Sh’ma, which is a word for “one” which is indicative of compounded unity, rather than absolute, monolithic oneness. The consistent use throughout the Hebrew scriptures is of this sort: either describing a “one” which is made up of many (such as a bunch of grapes) or a one which is part of many like to it (such as one sheep among a whole flock of sheep). Given the consistent and vigorous emphasis of the Hebrew scriptures upon the uniqueness and monotheism of God, it is highly unlikely that the latter is meant with “echad” in the Sh’ma. But, the former fits in quite well with the multipersonal data seen above from other passages of Scripture. The word also is used in the strictly ordinal sense, as a number, which in no way detracts from the “compound” overtones of the word as they plainly appear throughout the Hebrew scriptures. Wolf says concerning this word,

“This word occurs 960 times as a noun, adjective, or adverb, as a cardinal or ordinal number, often used in a distributive sense. It is closely identified with yachad “to be united” [ed. note: not the same as yachid, see below] and with ro’sh “first, head,” especially in connection with the “first day” of the month (Gen 8:13). It stresses unity while recognizing diversity within that oneness….. The concept of unity is related to the tabernacle, whose curtains are fastened together to form one unit (Ex 26:6, 11; 36:13). Adam and Eve are described as “one flesh” (Gen 2:24), which includes more than sexual unity. In Gen 34:16 the men of Shechem suggest intermarriage with Jacob’s children in order to become ‘one people.’

“Later, Ezekiel predicted that the fragmented nation of Israel would someday be reunited, as he symbolically joined two sticks (37:17). Once again Judah and Ephraim would be one nation with one king (37:22). Abraham was viewed as ‘the one’ from whom all the people descended (Isa 51:2; Mal 2:15), the one father of the nation.

“Diversity within unity is also seen from the fact that ehad has a plural form, ahadim. It is translated ‘a few days’ in Gen 27:44; 29:20, and Dan 11:20. In Gen 11:1 the plural modifies ‘words’: ‘the whole earth used the same language and the same words.’ Apparently it refers to the same vocabulary, the same set of words spoken by everyone at the tower of Babel. The first ‘same’ in Gen 11:1 is singular, analogous to ‘the same law’ of the Passover applying to native-born and foreigner (Ex 12:49; cf. Num 15:16), or to the ‘one law’ of sure death for approaching the Persian king without invitation (Est 4:11).

“In the famous Shema of Deut 6:4, ‘Hear, O Israel…the LORD is one,’ the question of diversity within unity has theological implications. Some scholars have felt that, though ‘one’ is singular, the usage of the word allows for the doctrine of the Trinity. While it is true that this doctrine is foreshadowed in the OT, the verse concentrates on the fact that there is one God and that Israel owes exclusive loyalty to Him (Deut 5:9; 6:5). The NT also is strictly monotheistic while at the same time teaching diversity with the unity (Jas 2:19; I Cor 8:5-6).”14

Several interesting points are thus made. Wolf notes that the Sh’ma concentrates upon the uniqueness of God, not upon the unity of God as it relates to diversity-within-unity, a later emphasis which did not arise until the Medieval period. “Echad” in the Sh’ma can engender a oneness drawn from a greater diversity which I mentioned above in that God can be considered as “one” among the many objects of worship that man might choose from, He is “one” from among the “many,” the true being separated out from the mass of false gods. This sense would seem to correlate with the emphasis which the context of the Sh’ma passage puts on the LORD being Israel’s object of worship, and the fidelity which Israel must give to God, putting away all false idols. However, the converse sense of compound oneness, that of a diversity within God’s one, can also certainly be understood from the Sh’ma, as it uses that word “echad” which is so many times elsewhere used with the specific intent of indicating compounded unity, coupled with the manifested multipersonality within God’s revealed nature which was seen above.

Wolf elsewhere notes in his article that “echad” can be used to refer to “one,” in the sense of a certain, individual. He gives the examples of Solomon alone being chosen by the LORD (I Chronicles 29:1), a certain individual being chosen (Judges 13:2), or a certain blessing being given (Genesis 27:38). None of this is necessarily contrary to the diversity-unity concept of “echad,” as we should note that Solomon was chosen alone from among David’s other sons, Solomon’s erstwhile peers. Likewise, the reference to Manoah in Judges 13:2 refers to him from among the larger body of Danites, and the one blessing which Esau begged for from his father in Genesis 27:38 is framed in such a way as to suggest that there were a number of possible blessings which Isaac could bestow upon his unfortunate son.

Adding to the force of diversity-unity for “echad” is that Wolf also notes several places where phrases like “as one man” are used in a compound sense to describe a national or tribal body (Numbers 14:15, Judges 20:8, I Samuel 11:7). Zephaniah 3:9 speaks of the people serving God “with one shoulder,” suggesting the idea that they served God “shoulder to shoulder,” with a united purpose and activity. In Exodus 24:3, Israel entered God’s covenant “with one voice.”

Given above were several representative examples of how “echad” appears in the Hebrew scriptures in a distributive sense. Even when it is used in a cardinal or ordinal manner, it often carries with it an implied “one from among many” sense. However, unitarians have attempted to provide some pushback verses in the Hebrew scriptures which purport to show a non-diverse sense of the word “one.” Most of these, however, only address the use of “echad” in one of its two diversity-unity senses, that of a group of aggregate parts making up a whole. They yet fail to address the sense of one unit being spoken of from among a larger group of like things. Typical examples of verses provided by Jewish and other unitarian rebuttal literature are:

“And Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not one of the cattle of the Israelites dead. And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.” (Exodus 9:7)“And it came to pass, while they were in the way, that tidings came to David, saying, Absalom hath slain all the king’s sons, and there is not one of them left.” (II Samuel 13:30)

“So shall we come upon him in some place where he shall be found, and we will light upon him as the dew falleth on the ground: and of him and of all the men that [are] with him there shall not be left so much as one.” (II Samuel 17:12)

“There is one [alone], and [there is] not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet [is there] no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither [saith he], For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This [is] also vanity, yea, it [is] a sore travail.” (Ecclesiastes 4:8)

In each of these, the “one” is part of a larger aggregate of like objects. The “one” of the cattle of the Israelites is drawn out as a representative from that whole body of animals. The “one” in “not one” of the king’s sons left alive, objectifies a single theoretical son from among the body of all David’s sons, and the same sense is seen in II Samuel 17:12 where not one man is left from among an original group of men. Contextually, Ecclesiastes 4:8 is speaking of one who is alone, but is drawn from among the “two” seen in v. 9. In each case, no argument can be made for an absolutist unity such as is taught by unitarians today.

Now, there is a word which could conceivably be used to more definitely indicate monolithic unity in the Godhead, and this is “yachid,” a word indicating “onliness” (though this is not necessarily that definitive either). Gilchrist tells us that the word,

“Appears eleven times (KJV twice uses ‘darling,’ RSV renders ‘my life’ following the poetic parallel with naphsi or Ps 22:20, [H 21]; 35:17 (NIV ‘my precious life’) and ‘desolate’ in Ps 68:6 [H 7] (ASV follows KJV). LXX translates it seven times with agapetos ‘beloved’ and four times with monogenes ‘only begotten.’ The Ugaritic cognate is yhdTheologically, yahid is important as it impinges on NT Christology. The word basically refers to an only child (cf. Ug yhd ‘either “a person without kith or kin” or “an only son” subject to military service only under extenuating circumstances,’ UT 19: no. 410).15 Jephthah’s daughter is described accordingly, ‘now she was his one and only child, besides her he had neither son nor daughter’ (Jud 11:34). Consider the pathos elicited in Amos 8:10 where the judgment of God is described as ‘a time of mourning for an only son’ (cf. Jer 6:26; Zech 12:10). However, in Gen 22 Abraham is told, ‘take now your son, you only son (yahid), whom you love (‘ahab), Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah.’ Here the LXX uses agapetos rather than monogenes ‘only begotten’ as in Jud 11:34. monogenes may be more specific. If so, it could not apply to Isaac who had Ishmael as a half brother. It must be pointed out, however, that even monogenes may ‘be used more generally without reference to its etymological derivation in the sense of “unique,” “unparalleled,” “incomparable,”‘ (TDNT, IV, p. 738; see especially nn.5-6).

“In what sense is Isaac a yahid = agapetos? Obviously, an only child is especially dear to parents. It is tempting to see here the idea of ‘incomparable’ and ‘without parallel’ anticipating the Messiah in his ‘unique’ relationship to the Father who claims him as ho huios mou ho agapetos ‘my beloved son’ (Mt 3:17; 17:5 and parallels). This expression finds its equivalence in John’s ho monogenes huios ‘the only begotten son’ i.e. “the unique son” (Jn 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; I Jn 4:9). The supreme act of God is evidence of His love for the world. This was prophetically typified by Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac. In Ps 22:20 and 35:17 yahid = monogenes is variously translated ‘my darling,’ ‘my only life,’ referring to the uniqueness of the soul.”16

Thus, we see that “yachid” takes on some very specific meanings of “only,” which while not directly affirming the unitarian belief about God, does seem to lend itself more readily to that opinion. “Yachid,” however, can quite easily refer to “onliness” in the sense of “uniqueness” as we saw above, and its intentions clearly seem to describe, whether literally or figuratively, solitary entities, not necessarily unitarian ones.

We should note that the “compound oneness” overtones of “echad” were obvious enough to be noticeable to Jewish theological observers in times past, even if rabbis today will not admit the implications of “echad.” Later commentarians who translated the works of Moses Maimonides, a medieval Jewish scholar and commentarian, rendered “yachid” in place of “echad” for his citation of the Sh’ma. To be charitable, this translation was probably not due to a purposeful sectarian motive, since we can understand the reasoning for this alteration to be the desire to even more strongly affirm the sole position and uniqueness of Israel’s God, over and against a drive to define a strict and novel unitarian view of God. The translation may have even been taking a surreptitious swipe at the Muslims in whose lands Maimonides and his commentators lived, emphasizing to the Jewish people in Muslim lands that their God was the correct one, in opposition to the Islamic dogma that Allah is the same being as the God of the previous Scriptures, thus acting as an inoculant against assimilation.

Regardless of what the true purpose was for this change, we certainly can see that it has become a foundation for the modern unitarianism of Judaism. This unitarianism, however, is a development since Maimonides’ time, and runs contrary to the testimony of earlier Jewish theological sources, and even some after him.

“Hear, O Israel, Adonai Eloheinu Adonai is one. These three are one. How can the three Names be one? Only through the perception of faith; in the vision of the Holy Spirit, in the beholding of the hidden eye alone….So it is with the mystery of the threefold Divine manifestations designated by Adonai Eloheinu Adonai – three modes which yet form one unity.”17

Surprisingly, the above quotation is not from a Christian source, but is rather from a 1st century AD Jewish book, the Zohar, written by Rabbi Simeon ben Jochai and his son Rabbi Eliezar. The Zohar contains several other “uncomfortable” passages for the rabbis and for unitarians.

“‘Come and see the mystery of the word YHVH: there are three steps, each existing by itself: nevertheless they are One, and so united that one cannot be separated from the other. The Ancient Holy One is revealed with three heads, which are united into one, and that head is three exalted. The Ancient One is described as being three: because the other lights emanating from him are included in the three. But how can three names be one? Are they really one because we call them one? How three can be one can only be known through the revelation of the Holy Spirit.’18  We have said in many places, that this daily form of prayer is one of those passages concerning the Unity, which is taught in the Scriptures. In Deut. 6:4, we read first YHWH Yehovah, then, Eloheinu our God, and again, YHWH Yehovah, which together make one Unity. But how can three Names [three beings] be one? Are they verily one, because we call them one? How three can be one can only be known through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, and, in fact, with closed eyes. This is also the mystery of the voice. The voice is heard only as one sound, yet it consists of three substances, fire, wind, and water, but all three are one, as indicated through the mystery of the voice. Thus are (Deut. 6:4) Yehovah our-Elohim, Yehovah is one!, but One Unity, three Substantive Beings which are One; and this is indicated by the voice which are One; and this is indicated by the voice which a person uses in reading the words, Hear, O Israel, thereby comprehending with the understanding the most perfect Unity of Him who is infinite; because all three (Jehovah, Elohim, Jehovah) are read with one voice, which indicates a Trinity. And this is the daily confession of faith of the unity, which is revealed by the Holy Spirit in a mystery. Although there are so many persons united in the unity, yet each person is a true-one; what the one does, that the other does.”19

“Here is the secret of two names combined which are completed by a third and become one again. And God said Let us make Man. It is written, The secret of the Lord is to them that fear him (Psalm 25:14). That most reverend Elder opened an exposition of this verse by saying Simeon Simeon, who is it that said: “Let us make man?” Who is this Elohim? With these words the most reverend Elder vanished before anyone saw him … Truly now is the time to expound this mystery, because certainly there is here a mystery which hitherto it was not permitted to divulge, but now we perceive that permission is given. He then proceeded: We must picture a king who wanted several buildings to be erected, and who had an architect in his service who did nothing save with his consent. The king is the supernal wisdom above, the Central Column being the king below: Elohim is the architect above … and Elohim is also the architect below, being as such the Divine Presence (Shekinah) of the lower world.”20

“All those supernal lights exist in their image below some of them in their image below upon the earth; but in themselves they are all suspended in the firmament of the heaven. Here is the secret of two names combined which are completed by a third and become one again. ‘And God said, Let us make Man ….'”21

Is it any wonder that rabbinical students in many schools are discouraged from studying the Zohar? Yet, the early testimony to a uniplural understanding of God does not end with the Zohar.

“‘There are ‘Three’, but each exists by Himself.’22 ‘When God created the world, He created it through the Three Sephiroth, namely, through Sepher, Sapher and Vesaphur, by which the Three Beings are meant . . . The Rabbi, my Lord Teacher of blessed memory, explained Sepher, Sapher, and Sippur, to be synonymous to Ya, Yehovah, and Elohim meaning to say, that the world was created by these three names.”23

“… the exalted Shechinah comprehends the Three highest Sephiroth; of Him (God) it is said, (Ps. 62:11), ‘God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this.’ Once and twice means the Three exalted Sephiroth, of whom it is said: Once, once, and once; that is, Three united in One. This is the mystery.”24

“‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.’ This verse is the root of our faith, therefore Moses records it after the ten commandments. The reason (that there is said YHWH, Lord, Eloheinu, our God, and YHWH, Lord) is, because the word SHEMA [ed. note sh’ma] does not here signify ‘Hear’ but to gather together, to unite, as in 1 Samuel 15:4, ‘Saul gathered together the people.’ The meaning implied is The Inherent-Ones are so united together, one in the other without end, they being the exalted God. He mentions the three names mystically to indicate the three exalted original Ones.”25

Rabbi Bechai, commenting on Genesis 1:1, states that,

“…the word Elohim is compounded of two words, that is, ‘These are God.’ The plural is expressed by the letter yod (y).”26

These statements clearly show that the current radical unitarianism of Judaism was not always the case among earlier Jewish theologians and religious masters. What needs to be understood is that much of the early Jewish contention with Christianity did not necessarily centre upon the Christian idea of uniplurality in God, but rather upon the specific claim that Yeshua of Nazareth was the Messiah and that He was God. Some “anti-missionaries” such as Tovia Singer attempt to rebut the point from these quotations by early rabbis by claiming that they are “taken out of context.” This argument, however, is a stopgap designed to discourage would-be investigators from searching out the matter of what the early rabbis had to say (on this as well as a number of other issues). It is also something of a red herring. Often, early Jewish writings, especially many portions of the Talmud, are in a format more like a compilation than anything else, and have little in the way of “context” in the sense of an continuous and connected flow of thought. Many of the writings are sectioned by topic, and within these sections, the quotations which Christians use certainly are “in context.” Further, we should note that those who originally brought these statements by the early rabbis to the attention of the larger world were themselves rabbis, men who had intensively studied the very writings and theology under discussion.


The Trinity is one of the doctrines held by the Christian faith which is most-oft attacked by unitarians, especially Jewish teachers who regard it as inimical to God as He has revealed Himself in the Hebrew Scriptures. However, the testimony of those very same scriptures punctures this preconception. We can quite clearly see that the testimonies of multipersonality as it appears manifested in the Godhead, the unique and telling grammatical plural-with-singular construction relating to God, and the Sh’ma with its use of “echad,” all combine to paint a definite picture of plurality of manifestation within the framework of the unity of the one and only God. This, further, was recognized by many early Jewish writers and teachers who frankly discussed their interpretations of various portions of scripture along these lines, including the all-important Sh’ma. Far from being a later Christian invention, the uniplurality of God was well-known within Judaism, even in the time of Christ. The early Christians, most of whom for the first few decades were themselves Jews, were merely following a continuity of theological illumination which was inherited from the rabbis and commentators of Israel before them, and which was to continue on both in the early churches, and also in the later Jewish teachers. The shift from emphasizing God as a unique and sole deity to emphasizing Him as an absolute internal unity is of fairly recent derivation.

End Notes

(1) – Rabbi Samuel ben Nachman in Genesis Rabbah, VIII.8, p. 59
(2) – Rabbi Simlai, Genesis Rabbah, VIII.9, p. 60
(3) – T. Nassi, The Great Mystery, p. 6
(4) – R. Toporoski, “What was the origin of the royal ‘we’ and why is it no longer used?,” Times of London, May 29, 2002. Ed. F1, p. 32
(5) – R. Davies, Doctrine of the Trinity, p. 227
(6) – F.H.W. Genesius, Hebrew Grammar, eds. E. Kautzsch and A.E. Cowley, p. 398
(7) – Ibn Ezra, Commentary on the Pentateuch, at Genesis 1:26
(8) – C.T. Francisco, Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, eds. C.F. Pfeiffer, J. Rhea, and H.F. Vos., Vol. I, p. 523, “elohim”
(9) – D.N. Freedman, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. II, “elohim”
(10) – G. del Olmo Lete, Canaanite Religion According to the Liturgical Texts of Ugarit, throughout the first chapter
(11) – C.T. Francisco, Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, ed. C.F. Pfeiffer, J. Rhea, and H.F. Vos, Vol. I, p. 523, “elohim”
(12) – Rabbi Simeon ben Jochai, The Propositions of the Zohar, cap. xxxviii, Amsterdam edition
(13) – Rabbi Moses ben Nachman, Commentary on the Pentateuch, at Genesis 22:11
(14) – H. Wolf, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, eds. R.L. Harris, G.L. Archer, and B.K. Waltke, Vol. I, Aleph-Mem, p.30
(15) – UT = C.H. Gordon, Ugaritic Textbook
(16) – P.R. Gilchrist, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, eds. R.L. Harris, G.L. Archer, and B.K. Waltke, Vol. I, Aleph-Mem, pp. 372-373
(17) – Zohar, Vol. III, p. 134, Soncino Press ed.
(18) – Zohar, Vol. III, p. 134, Soncino Press ed.
(19) – Zohar, Vol. II, p. 43, Soncino Press ed.
(20) – Zohar, Vol. I, pp. 90-91, Soncino Press ed.
(21) – Zohar, Vol. I, pp. 90-91, Soncino Press ed.
(22) – Rabbi Eliezer Hakkalir, The Book of Creation, p. 89
(23) – Rabbi Eliezer Hakkalir, The Book of Creation, pp. 28-29
(24) – Propositions of the Zohar, Vol. III, p.113, Amsterdam ed.
(25) – Rabbi Menachem of Recanati, Commentary on the Pentateuch, p. 267, at Deuteronomy 6:4, Venice ed.
(26) – Rabbi Bechai, Commentary on the Pentateuch, p. 2, col. 1, at Genesis 1:1

Ba’al, Hubal, and Allah

A Rebuttal to the Islamic Awareness Article Entitled “Is Hubal the Same as Allah?” by M.S.M. Saifullah and ‘Abdallah David
By Timothy W. Dunkin

{Note: I have decided to post this rebuttal from Dunkin’s now defunct website since it is too important of a refutation to disappear from sight.}


There can be little doubt that one of the most contentious propositions that may be encountered across the broad spectrum of Muslim-Christian debate is the suggestion that, rather than being the omnipotent God of creation, the God of Abraham, the sole and all-powerful Ruler of the universe, Allah might merely be instead the evolutionary development of a native Arab god from being a high god in a previously polytheistic, or at best henotheistic, religious environment to being the monotheistic deity now worshipped by over a billion Muslims the world over. As a theological system, Islam has invested quite a lot of emotional and spiritual capital into the belief that it is the final revelation of Allah, the return to the true religion of the only God from the apostate departures which are represented by every other system on earth. Therefore, any suggestion that the god of Islam may have merely been elevated to his present exalted status from a previous position of being one among many in the pagan system found in the Jahiliya, the so-called “Times of Ignorance,” will naturally meet with a negative response from Muslims. The venerable Carleton Coon observed,

“Moslems are notoriously loath to preserve traditions of earlier paganism, and like to garble what pre-Islamic history they permit to survive in anachronistic terms.”1

So it is with the object of our present inquiry. In their article entitled “Is Hubal the Same as Allah?,” Saifullah and David attempt to counter the charge that Allah’s origin lies in the pre-Islamic god Hubal, a deity who was worshipped in the Ka’bah in Mecca according to the traditions. As will be shown below, however, much of their argumentation is erroneous, and much more of it is simply irrelevant because it does not truly investigate the issue. I will present a refutation of their claims, and also provide what I hope to be some insights which will encourage further scholarly investigation into the subject of pre-Islamic religious history.

The Value of the Islamic Traditions

A good deal of Saifullah and David’s contentions rest upon arguments made from various stories that appear in the traditional Islamic historiographic material. So before I begin to address their specific arguments, I will first assess what value, if any, this traditional material has as far as presenting an accurate picture of the pre-Islamic world of the Arabs.

One of the most serious impediments to true learning that has plagued the study of the cultural and religious milieu from which Islam arose has been the excessive reliance upon the Islamic traditions and biographies as trustworthy historical accounts. While this error may be quite understandable on the part of Muslims themselves, the fact that many Western investigators also demonstrate a continued confidence in these materials exposes a systematic deficiency on the part of much of our scholarly activities with regards to Islam. This is not to say that this traditional historiography is of no value. On the contrary, the biographies and the sunnat and the ahadith and the histories show us a great deal about the views, beliefs, and attitudes of the early Muslims as Islam gradually developed into its present form. The stories about Mohammed were invented so as to present an idealized picture of what early Muslims thought a prophet should be. The traditions redacted into the historical accounts enlighten us as to the values and outlooks held by the various competing factions in the first two centuries of Islam.

But it is there that the real value of the traditional material ends. The various data presented in these works have, beginning with Goldhizer, been recognized as contradictory and synthetic. Goldhizer offered to the Western study of Islam the first real challenge to the heretofore universal belief that the Islamic traditions presented to us a priceless and unique insight into a completely documented set of historical events, what Ernest Renan called “the clear light of history,” surrounding the rise of Islam. It is not coincidental that he was also one of the first Western scholars to actually engage in a scientifically systematic study of the traditional material. Goldhizer observed the contradictory nature of the various traditions, and the obvious evidences for invention and embellishment in these works.2 Schacht neatly summarizes the necessary conclusions from such a study,

“I should like to present some ideas on what, I think, is a necessary revaluation of Islamic traditions in the light of our present knowledge; but am at a loss whether to call my conclusions something new and unprecedented, or something old and well known. No one could have been more surprised than I was by the results which the evidence of the texts has forced upon me during the last ten years or so; but looking back I cannot see what other result could possibly be consistent with the very foundations of our historical and critical study of the first two or three centuries of Islam. One of these foundations, I may take it for granted, is Goldhizer’s discovery that the traditions from the Prophet and from his Companions do not contain more or less authentic information on the earliest period of Islam to which they claim to belong, but reflect opinions held during the first two and a half centuries after the Hijra.”3

Since then, other scholars have noted the ahistoricity of these traditional materials. G.H.A. Juynboll argued persuasively for the origins of the standardization and transmission system based upon the supposed authority of Companions of Mohammed and other early Muslims, the isnad, beginning near the end of the first Islamic century. He believed that it arose out of a recognizable need on the part of the early Muslims to establish a solid basis upon which to ground their traditional beliefs and to bring order to the very haphazard system of commandments, stories, personal examples, and doctrines jumbled together and each claiming authority.4 Going further, Crone states concerning the Sira of Ibn Ishaq, one of the primary sources for traditional historical information about early Islam and the pre-Islamic period,

“The work is late: written not by a grandchild, but by a great grandchild of the Prophet’s generation, it gives us the view for which classical Islam had settled. And written by a member of the ulama, the scholars who had by then emerged as the classical bearers of the Islamic tradition, the picture which it offers is also one-sided: how the Umayyad caliphs remembered the Prophet we shall never know. That it is unhistorical is only what one would expect, but it has an extraordinary capacity to resist internal criticism…characteristic of the entire Islamic tradition, and most pronounced in the Koran: one can take the picture presented or one can leave it, but one cannot work with it.”5

The traditional material is recognized as being very late – over a century after the events which it purports to be describing from first-hand witnesses. Crone further notes the incongruity of the many and various statements from these writings,

“There is nothing, within the Islamic traditions, that one can do with Baladhuri’s statement that the kiblah (direction of prayer) in the first Kufan mosque was to the west (opposite direction to Mecca): either it is false or else it is odd, but why it should be there and what it means God only knows. It is similarly odd that Umar (second caliph) is known as the Faruq (Redeemer), that there are so many Fatimas, that Ali (Muhammad’s cousin) is sometimes Muhammed’s brother, and that there is so much pointless information…It is a tradition in which information means nothing and leads nowhere; it just happens to be there and lends itself to little but arrangement by majority and minority opinion.”6

As such, we can see that the Muslim historiography and traditions are not trustworthy presentations of historical events as they really were. Instead, this material often presents the viewpoints of the factions in power and events are cast as they wanted them to be. Muslims will argue that the systematic organization of many of the traditional materials (all the while depending, as we saw, on majority and minority opinions, on isnad chains of transmissional authority which are often not as dependable as one would hope) is evidence for their veracity. Yet, Wansbrough provides evidence which shows that the supply of isnad for statements or examples attributed to Mohammed and his Companions is a formal innovation datable only to the very beginning of the third Islamic century (200 AH/815 AD).7 Further, as Cragg so succinctly observed, the methodical organization and scrupulous concern for transmitted authority may themselves simply be the result of later redactive meticulousness,

“This science being so meticulous that it is fair (even if somewhat paradoxical) to suspect that the more complete and formally satisfactory the attestation claimed to be, the more likely it was that the tradition was of late and deliberate origin. The developed requirements of acceptability that the tradition boasted simply did not exist in the early, more haphazard and spontaneous days.”8

Thus, we must understand that any investigation into a question of history and empirical evidence simply cannot rest upon an uncritical acceptance of the Muslim traditions as literal, historical documents. Instead, we must take the same approach to them that Joseph Schacht counseled – that until traditions about the Prophet (and by extension, I believe we can say, history before and during his purported lifetime) are demonstrated valid by evidence, they should not be taken as authentic, but rather as the “fictitious expression of a legal doctrine formulated at a later date.”9 While I believe that we can perhaps see a “kernel of truth” lying at the heart of some of the statements made in the traditional materials that pertain to our present study, we must also exercise enough critical faculty to strip away the chaff that surrounds the kernel.

Ba’al and Hubal – Linguistic Matters

Before addressing the relevant traditions, let us first engage the particular linguistic arguments employed by Saifullah and David to substantiate their argumentation. They attempt to dispute the equation of Hubal (hbl) with the more general Semitic deity Ba’al (b’l) by making recourse to a number of questionable historical and linguistic arguments. They begin by summarizing Noja’s thesis10 that the name “Hubal” originated from the elision of hn-ba’al to habal or hubalha-/hn- being a form of the definite article in some early dialects used by the ancient Arabians. The assimilation of the n and the disappearance of the guttural ayin were proposed in the process.

Against this, they first present a somewhat extraneous argument against the transformation of hn- to the more familiar ‘l- article, known to us today in Classical and Modern Arabic dialects. They attack this thesis by stating,

“The idea that the h- or hn- article found in Ancient North Arabian is the ancestor of Arabic ’l- has been suggested by scholars over a long period.[31] This view has come under criticism due to the lack of epigraphic evidence for the transformation of h- or hn- to Arabic ’l-.[32] Theoretically, it can be argued that it could have happened in a number of ways, the problem always come back to the lack of epigraphic evidence for the actual process.[33] Noja assumed a similar transformation from the Ancient North Arabian h- to Arabic ’l-.[34] Not surprisingly, he did not furnish any proof either.”

This is beside the point, since the name under discussion is “Hubal” (with a theoretical ha-/hn- article still present), not some hypothetical “’l/al-bal” proposed by Noja. Concerning the linguistics of Noja’s proposal for the origin of the name “Hubal” itself, his thesis is certainly quite feasible. Saifullah and David correctly point out that, in the main, the hn- article appears to be somewhat older than the ‘l- form, but that Herodotus’ use of the name Alilat to describe the Arabian goddess may indicate an earlier use of the ‘l- form several centuries before that form finds broad attestation in the epigraphic record. They appear to be trying to argue from this that Noja’s hn-ba’al argument is invalid, since the ‘l- form was certainly available to use for any name meaning “the lord.”

However, their argument seems to assume a cut-and-dried linguistic uniformity in the ancient Arab world that simply was not there. Beeston has pointed out that prior to the general dominance of the ‘l- form of the article in Arabic dialects which was finally established around the beginning of the 6th century AD, there was a “linguistic mosaic in the peninsula.”11 The ha/hn- form was just as widespread and just as ancient as the ‘l-, even if we consider the evidence from Herodotus as sound. Retsö notes that the ha/hn- form is attested as early as the latter half of the 5th century BC in inscriptions found in Arab-occupied areas east of the Nile Delta near Pelusium, which mention “Geshem the Arabian” and which are devoted to HN-’LT (the goddess).12 This alone concretely places the ha/hn- form as contemporaneous to Herodotus’ ‘l- form. Further, Livingstone has proposed that the hn- form of the article (as it would have appeared in the Arabian dialect) should be implicitly understood to have existed with certain Arab terms that were apparently carried over wholesale into the Akkadian of a triumphal inscription celebrating victories won by the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III (r. 744-727 BC).13 While this reading is more tenuous, it may well push the epigraphic evidence for the hn- form in Arabian languages back another three centuries.

So, we see that the hn- form is definitely ancient. It was also, however, relatively recent, being found in Arabian inscriptions until around 500 AD. This means that the form would certainly have still found much use, especially among Arabian dialects such as Lihyanic, Thamudic, and Safaitic (all used in the Arab regions east of Syro-Palestine and in the northern part of the Hijaz) in the general timeframe that the tradition about ‘Amr ibn Luhayy (which we deal with below in more detail) seems to indicate that he had brought the idol of Hubal to the Ka’bah.

The proposed assimilation of the n in hn-ba’al —> haba’al is certainly possible linguistically. Southern and Vaughn demonstrate that the assimilation of an n before a consonant is fairly typical in North Semitic languages,14 and indeed they note that it is well-attested and not just theoretical.15 This same phenomenon is observed in Hebrew, for instance, where the terminal n in the preposition min (with) is assimilated with the doubling of the following consonant (except, of course, when before a guttural or a resh, in which case the prepositional vowel is lengthened along with the assimilation of the nun). Voigt further points out that old North Arabic forms show assimilation of the n to the following consonant,16 and do not seem to show a doubling of the consonant, as is found in some other North Semitic languages. Thus, the proposed elision by Noja is certainly possible on this count, as well.

What of Saifullah and David’s argument that Hubal cannot come from Ba’l because this transformation would require the dropping of the glottal consonant ayin? Again, their arguments are less than convincing. They state,

“Moreover, for the name b‘l to become bl with the loss of ‘ayn, it would have to have been transmitted through a language such as Akkadian or Punic in which the ‘ayn had disappeared. This would give in Akkadian Bel and in Punic Bol.”

However, the dropping of the ayin is not impossible. Drijvers certainly did not consider it to be, as he saw no difficulties in stating that Ba’al-Bel-Bol (together) was the original West Semitic form of the name.17 Beeston states that the “conversion of consonant into vowel” such as occurs in the Punic bol for ba’l, is “well-attested in Semitic languages.”18 More to the point, Voigt demonstrates that glottal stops in Arabian dialects can contract, using the example of the contraction of the hamza in the conversion bi-?al —> bi-l.19 This same principle could certainly apply to the contraction of the similar ayin. As such, Noja’s argument, based as it is upon the disappearance of the ayin, is most certainly plausible.

Saifullah and David argue, for some reason, that the conversion of b’l —> bl would not have taken place because, while the forms Bel and Bol were found in Palmyra, Palmyrene Aramaic did not use the ha/hn- form of the article. They then proceeded to closely paraphrase (including the co-opting of his endnotes) a large portion of text from Healey’s Religion of the Nabataeans before getting back to the point by arguing that “there is no Nabataean and Safaitic epigraphic evidence which shows that the name b‘l to becoming [sic] bl with the loss of ‘ayn, which in turn enabled hb‘l to become hbl.” Again, both of these arguments are beside the point. There is no reason why the lack of the ha/hn- article in Palmyrene would have any bearing on this discussion whatsoever. Nobody has proposed that the name Hubal came from Palmyrene, and there were certainly many other dialects, including those much closer to the Arab milieu such as Nabataean (in which the name appears as hblw) from which an entrance by Hubal into the Arab consciousness could have been made. Many of these dialects also used the ha/hn- form of the article.

Further, their arguments involving Ba’alshamen seem gratuitous. By their own admission, this deity was introduced into the Nabataean realm from Syria, where he was the “lord of heaven,” and therefore had no direct connection with indigenous Arab religion. Nor has anyone suggested a direct equation of this deity with Hubal. Rather, the more proper argument as we will see below would be one that suggests that Hubal was the result of a long process of evolution from the Ba’al deities of other lands (ones where b’l-form dialects predominated) – and could be considered to be the same deity in much the same way that Ba’al and Hadad were deemed one and the same by the Phoenicians and Aramaeans or how Ba’al and Zeus were assimilated in Hellenistic Syria. This association would have been based upon similarities of station and function held in common by these gods in each area. Hubal would not need to have directly developed from some hypothetical Huba’l – he need only have been syncretized with the ba’alim of these other regions. The evolution would not need to have been linguistic, but only conceptual. Further, there is no reason why we would expect to see any epigraphic evidence to show “b’l becoming bl.” The vector for entry of Hubal into the Ka’bah in Mecca is traditionally considered to be either from the Transjordan or from Hit in Mesopotamia, both of which were already settled by Arabs in the timeframe suggested by the ibn Luhayy tradition. But, this does not mean that the dialect of these Arabs was Classical Arabic (and indeed, in the 3rd century AD it almost certainly was not). The dialect of these Arabs would have been closer to that of the Nabataeans and the Mesopotamian Arabs, dialects in which the form bl was used. If Hubal were brought to Mecca from either of these regions, then his name hbl would certainly reflect those dialects and simply indicate the direct carryover of the name into the later b‘l-containing dialect of Classical Arabic, and the whole issue of converting b’l to bl is nullified.

The Coming of Hubal

In light of what has been said above, it is unfortunate that the majority of our information concerning the place of Hubal in the Jahiliya comes from the traditional Muslim histories. These traditions show an unfortunate tendency on the part of the early Muslim historiographers towards making the early histories conform to the orthodoxy of Islam once it had matured and crystallized into its present form. Attendant with this is a certain amount of artificiality and contradiction built into these stories, as the early historians sought to reconcile and organize a scattered and highly variant body of subject matter. Let us take for a relevant example that of the story of how Hubal even came to be in Mecca. It is this tradition, relating the introduction of Hubal’s idol into Mecca by Amr ibn Luhayy, that Saifullah and David first address in their article. They make much of the “missionary” (i.e. Gerhard Nehls) who argues that Hubal originated as “Ha-Baal” from Moab. To counter this argument, they point out that the origin of Hubal from Moab is uncertain, as some traditions relate that Luhayy brought him to Mecca from Hit, a city in central Mesopotamia. Saifullah and David state,

“There is no clear-cut position that can be adduced from the Islamic traditions on the issue of the place of origin of the Hubal idol at Makkah, although all of them are united on its foreign origin.”

But this just makes my point – the traditions themselves are untrustworthy as history, per se. Some of the Muslim authorities in the graphia say he came from Hit, while others say he came from Balqa’ or Moab in Syria. But, we can find the kernel of truth. All of the authorities are united, we must understand, only in affirming Hubal’s non-Meccanorigin, an affirmation likely true due to the uniformity of its proposition. However, I believe it is incorrect, after a fashion, to state that his origins were “foreign.” This is because, in the timeframe in which this event is reputed to have taken place, sometime around the 3rd century AD, both of the regions suggested as origins for Hubal were dominated by Arab tribes. The regions east of the Jordan river (including Balqa’ and Moab) had long been known as part of “Arabia.”20 Likewise, Hit was a city in an Arab-dominated region which had been settled by Arab tribes for at least a century prior to the time of the Luhayy story.21 Indeed, the Arab tribes of central Mesopotamia played an important geopolitical role as client states and buffer zones between the two superpowers of the time, Rome and the Parthian/Sassanid Empire. As such, if Hubal was brought from either of these areas, it was most likely by an Arab, and then it is not at all far-fetched to suggest that he might well have been a deity with whom the Arabs were already familiar. This would explain the apparent ready acceptance of him by the Meccans, to the extent that they set up his icon as the prominent idol in the Ka’bah precinct. Hence, this story seems to relay a reliable substratum of information to us, once we view the kernel of truth as telling us that at some point in the Jahiliya, probably at some point in the 3rd century, a deity most likely already known to the Arabs as a cultural group was specifically introduced into the haram of Mecca, and was apparently made its presiding deity.

This historical reconstruction is supported by the fact that the name for this god was “Hubal,” without the ayin. This would seem to indicate that his origin was from among a dialect group which used the bl-form, and which also used the ha/hn- article. Dialects like these found representation in the northern Hijaz and Syrian areas. Further, this introduction appears to have taken place prior to the establishment of the ‘l-form (whose most well-known representative is the Classical Arabic of the Qur’an and the other traditional writings) as the dominant dialect type (around the beginning of the 6th century AD), which is why we would not see Noja’s hypothetical ’l-bal form. The earlier attestation of Hubal in the Hijazi regions of the Nabataean kingdom, as well as in the Transjordan and Syria, suggest that the Transjordanian origin of Hubal is the correct choice between the two suggestions.

Now, if Hubal was a known quantity to the Arabs, then how does he relate to Allah? We must understand that a straight-forward reading of the traditional material, even with the later redactions, seems to indicate that Hubal was the Lord of the Ka’bah, a position also attributed to Allah, whose house the Ka’bah now is (bayt allah). Perhaps the premiere story in the traditions which bears on this question is that of Abd al-Muttalib, the grandfather of Mohammed, and his oracle from Hubal.22 In this tradition, which deals with Abd al-Muttalib’s efforts at getting around a vow that he had made to Allah to sacrifice one of his sons, it is twice mentioned that Abd al-Muttalib prayed to Allah while standing next to the statue of Hubal. In their apologetic, Saifullah and David more or less dismiss the notion out-of-hand that this would suggest that Hubal and Allah were connected,

“As to how standing next to the statue of Hubal and praying to Allah is equivalent to Hubal actually being Allah is a great mystery. By this “logic,” a Christian standing next to the cross and praying to the Trinitarian deity makes him a cross-worshipper.”

This argument, of course, lacks much and the outright dismissal is irresponsible. Their attempt to draw a parallel between Abd al-Muttalib’s standing next to Hubal while praying to Allah with a hypothetical Christian standing next to a cross and praying to God is non-sequitur. A cross is not an idol fashioned in the likeness of a certain god, nor is divination made to a cross, while both of these most certainly do apply to the statue of Hubal . The statement that al-Muttalib was standing next to the idol of Hubal is recognized as an euphemistic statement made by later Muslim traditionalists who were squeamish about depicting the grandfather of Mohammed praying directly to an idol. But we must understand, the idol of Hubal is central to the entire story. It was through this idol that the cleromantic divinations took place, as the Arabs sought guidance from the god. The purpose for al-Muttalib’s worship was to take part in just this sort of divination, and he does so while praying specifically to Allah. As such, al-Muttalib was doing more than just “standing next to” the icon of Hubal. The story quite clearly demonstrates that al-Muttalib viewed Allah and Hubal to be one and the same, which is why he explicitly prays to the one for guidance while simultaneously engaging in the divination governed and controlled by the other. The story shows clearly, if indirectly, the equation of the two in the mind of Abd al-Muttalib.

In opposition to the equation of Hubal with Allah, first suggested by Wellhausen largely because of the prominence of Hubal in the “House of Allah,”23 Saifullah and David bring forward several quotations to serve as authorities on which to base their rejection. The citations from Peters and von Grunebaum will not be addressed here, as they really amount to no more than simple affirmations of the traditional viewpoint found within the larger body of those authors’ texts, and present no argumentation against which criticism needs to be made. The statements by Margoliouth and Crone are more interesting, each in their own way. Citing Margoliouth, Saifullah and David state,

“For example, over 100 years ago, Margoliouth had casted [sic] doubts on Wellhausen’s identification of Hubal with Allah and dismissed it as a “hypothesis.”

They then proceed to focus upon Margoliouth’s use of the term “suggested”24 and make it appear as if Margoliouth was rejecting Wellhausen’s suggestion. This is despite his statement which he made immediately previous to the sentence quoted by Saifullah and David, “Between Hubal, the god whose image was inside the Ka‘bah, and Allah (“the God”), of whom much will be heard, there was perhaps some connection.”25 Saifullah and David are simply reading their own preconceptions into Margoliouth’s words. He was merely being cautionary – as any good investigator in a field in which so much evidence remains to be uncovered must be. Margoliouth was affirming that the link between Hubal and Allah was hypothetical – but then again, that only means that it is a proposal not fully borne out yet but the proposition of which nevertheless is based upon evidences at hand, nothing more and nothing less. Saifullah and David are merely putting words into Margoliouth’s mouth, even though what Margoliouth really said in no wise “noted that Hubal and Allah can’t be one and the same entity,” as they would have us to believe.

Concerning the citation from Patricia Crone, Saifullah and David have merely cited the last of several suggestions made by Crone as to the disposition of Hubal and Allah – the one which is based upon an acceptance of the Muslim traditions as essentially historical in nature. If one does not accept that proposition, as I do not for reasons outlined above, then the arguments from traditions in which people are asked to renounce Hubal in favor of Allah are of little diagnostic value. Indeed, the more reductionist argument that Crone suggests prior to the statement cited by Saifullah and David, made on the basis of historical and archaeological evidence, would seem to strike against their arguments. While discussing aspects of Arabian litholatry (the worship of a deity through a stone), she notes that this can easily apply to Allah as well, through the black stone housed in the Ka’bah,

“If we assume that bayt and ka’ba alike originally referred to the Meccan stone rather than the building around it, then the lord of the Meccan house was a pagan Allah worshipped in conjunction with a female consort such as al-’Uzza and/or other ‘daughters of God.’ This would give us a genuinely pagan deity for Quraysh and at the same time explain their devotion to goddesses. But if Quraysh represent Allah, what was Hubal doing in their shrine? Indeed, what was the building doing? No sacrifices can be made over a stone immured in a wall, and the building accommodating Hubal makes no sense around a stone representing Allah. Naturally Quraysh were polytheists, but the deities of polytheist Arabia preferred to be housed separately. No pre-Islamic sanctuary, be it stone or building, is known to have accommodated more than one male god, as opposed to one male god and female consort. The Allah who is attested in an inscription of the late second century A.D. certainly was not forced to share his house with other deities. And the shrines of Islamic Arabia are similarly formed around the tomb of a single saint. If Allah was a pagan god like any other, Quraysh would not have allowed Hubal to share the sanctuary with him – not because they were proto-monotheists, but precisely because they were pagans.”26

It is from here that Crone continues on into the statement quoted by Saifullah and David – a statement which, in context, seems to be a hypothetical answer to her previous questions if one were a Muslim who did not accept that Allah was previously a pagan god. She is not, per se, arguing against the equation of Hubal and Allah – indeed, she does not directly address the question at all.

But, we see some interesting information presented. Arabian sanctuaries housed no more than one male god. So indeed, what was Hubal doing in Allah’s house? The most reasonable answer is simply that Hubal and Allah were not viewed by the pre-Islamic Arabs as being different deities. They were compatible. More than that, they were co-personal. This brings sense to the al-Muttalib story, and rejects the otherwise nonsensical suggestion that praying to one god while at the same time divining through the other somehow does not mean that the two gods were really the same.

What then of the traditions relied upon by Saifullah and David, most notably that of Abu Sufyan (the leader of the Quraysh in Mecca), which depict the followers of Hubal and those of Allah as being in opposition to one another? These traditions are simply untrustworthy, and most likely represent polemical inventions by later Muslims to serve as object illustrations of the victory of Allah over the Jahiliya pagan system. The story in which Abu Sufyan cries, “Be thou exalted, Hubal!” and Mohammed replies, “Be thou more exalted, Allah!” is programmatic in its polemical presentation. This is especially so when we consider the addendum to this story, also adduced by Saifullah and David, in which Abu Sufyan holds a meeting with Mohammed and realizes the error of his previous ways, and becomes a good Muslim. The traditional literature of Islam abounds with this sort of story, in which pagans and apostates realize their error and “revert” to Islam as the only and obviously true way.27 There is simply no good reason to rely upon the traditions about Abu Sufyan and his (and Hubal’s) opposition to Allah as any sort of truly historical set of events, especially in light of the rest of the opposing evidences.

So Who Was Hubal?

We have previously seen that the understanding of b’l = bl is certainly not improbable on linguistic grounds, within the Semitic environment that is the setting for this discussion. Indeed, we see that throughout the ancient Near East, gods bearing these names, with and without the ayin, appear to be equivalent. Drijvers’ ready link between Ba’al, Bel, and Bol was already noted above. In Palmyra, the older deities Yarhibol and Aglibol, each bearing the archaic form of the name, appear to have been gradually assimilated into a cult association with the more recent Mesopotamian import Bel,28 and could even be considered as hypostases of that deity. Brody likewise notes that one of the forms taken by Ba’l at Palmyra was ‘Aglibol (bearing the older and non-ayin containing form), meaning “calf of Bol.”29 Fahd notes that Bel is the Assyrian counterpart to Ba’l.30 There appears to be no problem in equating Bel/Bol with Ba’al on the part of specialists in the field of ancient Near Eastern history and religion. Saifullah and David’s argument that the two cannot be conjoined because of the lack of an ayin is spurious. The two forms are clearly understood to be cognate, and there is no reason why any development of one into the other has to be directly observed since ultimately, we are dealing with the use of this name across differing dialectical groups for which we would not expect to see direct epigraphic linguistic progression, even when we deal with evidence solely from Arabia (due to the “linguistic mosaic” found in the peninsula at the time).

The name Ba’al appears to have originally been titular and localized – it would denote “the lord” over a certain region. Examples of this sort of usage would include Baal-Peor, Baal-Zebub, and Baal-Shamiyn. However, by the middle of the 2nd millennium BC Ba’al had also become a god, with his own name, in his own right,31 as evidences from the El Amarna documents and Ugaritic texts indicate. Hence, b’l/bl evolved from a generic title to a specific name. The local ba’alim remained, however, and were most likely viewed by their worshippers as being personifications or manifestations of the high god Ba’al.

The name Hubal, then, begins to be comprehensible to us, seeing as there is no sound argument against understanding Hubal to be a ba‘al. Hubal appears late on the scene, relatively speaking. We do not see any real evidence for his existence until the time of the Nabataeans, and from there he goes wherever the Arabs go – to Palmyra, the Hijaz, and so forth. The name, itself, seems to suggest that it originally was a title or epithet of a high god. Hubal means “THE lord,” seeming almost as if to differentiate him from others who might conceivably be given that title. In this sense, its use would be much the same as that given to ilah/allah. Handy notes this, when he states that “both il and b’l may designate two distinct deities, but they are also used as the generic word for ‘god’ and the common noun ‘lord’ respectively.”32 Just as with Ba’al, the name Hubal most likely originated as a general term or title, later being applied as the name of one specific deity. Hubal would have went from being a title applied to local deities, to being the name for a high god, one viewed as more universal in his power. There is nothing strange about the notion (and indeed it should perhaps be expected) that a high god in a henotheistic system (and one which in Arabia seems to have gradually been evolving towards monotheism) would be referred to with universalist terminology such as “the lord” or “the god,” denoting his stature as the god par excellence.

An example of this sort of evolving conception was found with the Nabataeans and other northern Arabian tribes who referred to Dushara, their high god, with the term ’lh’, “the god.”33 The name Hubal “the lord” certainly fits this motif of a local high god being referred to as “the Ba’al of ____” Likewise, the term Allah (= al-ilah, the god) has the same sort of ring to it. We know that other deities in the Semitic Near East were referred to with the title/epithet of Ilah/Allah. In South Arabia, the goddess ‘lhtn(containing the suffixed article -n, making this the South Arabian equivalent to al-ilaha, “the goddess”) was a sun-goddess and was paired with the deity ‘lhn.34 This ‘lhn would be the South Arabian equivalent to the more northerly al-ilah – Allah – and his association with a female solar deity suggests that he fulfills the role of a lunar god, per the typical astral arrangement in the settled parts of Arabia. The Edomite deity Qos/Quash, clearly connected with moon worship through the use of the typical crescent moon and star symbology found throughout the ancient Near East,35 was carried over into the Nabataean realm with the name Qos-Allah.36 Guillaume noted that Ilah was a name applied to the moon god among some Pre-Islamic Arabian tribes.37

Hubal did have astral, and in many cases specifically lunar, characteristics, just as we have seen were connected with al-ilah. Hubal is noted for having originally had a stellar aspect to his nature, in addition to the cleromantic functions he acquired in the Ka’bah.38 Hommel also notes that among the Nabataeans, Hubal was a moon god, one of two along with Dushara.39 Occhigrosso flatly states that Hubal was a moon god whose worship was associated with the black stone at the Ka’bah, and that he was also associated with Manat (also the object of Arabian litholatry).40 That Hubal should have a lunar station should not necessarily be surprising. If the name were originally titular, then its descent from and connection with b’l/bl will also carry with it a legacy of astral religion. In later ancient Near East times, the various ba’alim developed astral overtones, which were primarily solar in nature,41 but which could also be lunar. Even in post-Hellenistic times, we see this phenomenon continue to take place. A votary inscription in Harran devoted to the moon god Sin calls that god the “Baal of Harran.”42 In Palmyra, Yarhibol and Aglibol were names for the solar and lunar deities respectively who were associated with Bel of the Mesopotamian immigrants.

Saifullah and David’s arguments against Hubal as a moon god are simply wrong. Contrary to their claims, the view of Hubal as having lunar provenance is attested by others besides Winckler and Brockelmann. Likewise, while it is true that Nielsen’s particular theory about astral triads in Arabian religion was overstated and has rightly been rejected, this does not mean that there was no astral, and especially lunar, character to pre-Islamic Arabian religion, as Saifullah and David appear to be arguing. Indeed, the evidences from archaeology and history, tell us that astral religion made up a goodly share of pre-Islamic Arabian devotion. It was to Tayma in Arabia that the Babylonian king Nabonidas went to buttress his devotion to the moon god, and the presence of lunar temples all across the peninsula and the appearance of lunar gods in the pantheons of the various tribes of pre-Islamic Arabia show that moon worship played a significant role in the religious life of the people of Arabia prior to the rise of Islam.

And it is here that we see that two seminal claims advanced by Saifullah and David – the rejection of Allah being the same deity as Hubal, and the dismissal of the characterization of Hubal/Allah as a lunar deity – fall apart. Clearly “Allah,” both as a title and as a proper name, was applied to lunar deities in the ancient Near East. Allah also shares many direct similarities with Ba’al/Hubal. We know that at various times in pre-Islamic Arab regions, Hubal was linked to the same deities with whom Allah was connected. Hoyland informs us that Hubal was worshipped jointly with Manat in the Hijaz portion of the Nabataean kingdom,43 and that he was served by a priestly office jointly with Dushara and Manat at Hegra, also in the northern Hijaz.44 Indeed, the earliest inscription to bear Hubal’s name shows him to be associated with Manawat, a cognate name of Manat, in the Nabataean kingdom.45 Also among the Nabataean remains have been found references to Ba’l along with Manat and al-Uzza.46 All in all, despite the claims of Saifullah and David to the contrary, Hubal does indeed seem to have been “integrated into the divine family” of Allah.

This is even more enlightening when we consider that the evidence of the much earlier Ras Shamra texts tell us that Ba’al was a god who had three daughters, just like Allah.47 It is not at all improbable that Ba’al with his three daughters passed, with some modifications and evolution due to the passage of time, to being Hubal with three daughters – Hubal (the lord) known also by the name Allah (the god, al-ilah). It then becomes explicable why the Qur’an would condemn the worship of the daughters of Allah as shirk (association of other deities with Allah), while remaining strangely silent about the worship of Hubal. The worship of Hubal was the worship of Allah – the error of the particular idolatry in question lay solely in associating daughters with Hubal/Allah. Allah, as a title,48 was applied to Hubal, the god’s name, so the writers of the Qur’an did not see a need to raise a row about Hubal. It is likely that only later, when the absolute monotheism of Islam became more crystallized and reference to the names of pre-Islamic deities in conjunction with Allah became discouraged, do we see the traditions arising in which Hubal is opposed to and ultimately defeated by Allah.


The identification of Hubal with earlier b’l gods has been shown to be linguistically feasible, but paradoxically this linguistic possibility is not necessary to make a case for the connection. The traditions which deal with Hubal, while showing a great amount of redaction by later Muslims, nevertheless still contain a core of information that helps to show us that Hubal was understood to be the Lord of the Ka’bah. Hubal demonstrates the characteristics of having been a high god, and as was seen, his presence in the Ka’bah is not merely incidental, but is most logically understood to have been as “the Lord of the House.” The suggestion that the terms ba’l and ilah, both general terms, can refer to this “lord of the house” interchangeably is by no means out of bounds. Despite claims to the contrary, Hubal appears to have had astral characteristics among his repertoire, and he was associated with goddesses with whom Allah was also associated. Further, Allah was a name applied elsewhere to moon gods, in Yemen and in Nabataea. The conclusion that can be drawn from all of this is that Hubal, his position as a major deity perhaps affirmed by calling him “THE lord,” and who carried a legacy of lunar provenance, was the ba’l of the haram precinct in Mecca. Further, he was the deity raised to strict monotheistic status during the early development and solidification of the Islamic religion and known henceforth as Allah.

End Notes

(1) – C. Coon, “Southern Arabia: A Problem for the Future,” The Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institute, 1944, p. 398
(2) – See especially the statements in I. Goldhizer, Muhammedanische Studien, Vol. 2, pp. 18-19
(3) – J. Schacht, “A Revaluation of Islamic Traditions,” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, (1949), p. 143
(4) – See G.H.A. Juynboll, Muslim Tradition, p. 5
(5) – P. Crone, Slaves on Horses, p. 4
(6) – Ibid., p. 12
(7) – J. Wansbrough, Quranic Studies, p. 179
(8) – A.K. Cragg, Encyclopaedia Britannica: Macropaedia, 15th Ed. (1998), Vol. 22, p. 11
(9) – See J. Schacht, Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence, p. 149
(10) – S. Noja, “Hubal = Allah,” Reconditi: Instituto Lombardo Di Scienze E Lettere, Vol. 28 (1994), pp. 283-295
(11) – A.F.L. Beeston, “Languages of Pre-Islamic Arabia,” Arabica, Vol. 28 (1981), p. 183
(12) – J. Retsö, The Arabs in Antiquity: Their History from the Assyrians to the Umayyads, p. 250
(13) – A. Livingstone, “An Early Attestation of the Arabic Definite Article,” Journal of Semitic Studies, Vol. 42(1997), p. 261
(14) – M. Southern and A.G. Vaughn, “Where Have All the Nasals Gone? nC > CC in North Semitic,” Journal of Semitic Studies, 42(1997), p. 282
(15) – Ibid., p. 263
(16) – R. Voigt, “Der Artikel in Semitischen,” Journal of Semitic Studies, Vol. 42 (1997), p. 225
(17) – H.J.W. Drijvers, The Religion of Palmyra, p. 10
(18) – A.F.L. Beeston, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies: London University, Vol. 46, no. 3(1983), p. 552, in a review of Bruce Ingham’s North East Arabian Dialects
(19) – Voigt, op. cit., p. 225
(20) – A term, in fact, which originally encompassed only the Sinai, the deserts east of Syria, and the northern parts of the Hijaz around Midian and al-’Ula (Dedan).
(21) – See especially Retsö, op. cit., chaps. 15-16
(22) – Related in its fullest form by Ibn Ishaq in his biography of Mohammed, see The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, trans. A. Guillaume, pp. 66-68
(23) – J. Wellhausen, Reste Arabischen Heidenthums, p. 75
(24) – “…yet the identification of the two suggested by Wellhausen is not yet more than an hypothesis.” – D. S. Margoliouth, Mohammed And The Rise Of Islam, p. 19
(25) – loc. cit.
(26) – P. Crone, Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam, pp. 192-193
(27) – For instance, there is the story, related by Ibn Sa’d and Ibn ‘Asakir, which details the conversion of Hind bint ‘Utba, the wife of Abu Sufyan and the mother of the future Caliph Mu’awiya. In this story, Hind dreams for three successive nights. The first night, she is in pitch black darkness and Mohammed appears to her in a beam of light. The second night, she dreams she is on a road, and Hubal and Isaf (another idol) are on either side of the path, calling to her to leave the path, while Mohammed is in front of her showing her the right path. The third night, she is standing at the brink of hell, and Hubal calls upon her to enter, while Mohammed seizes her clothing from behind to draw her back. When she wakes the next morning, she strikes the idol in her house with an adze and says to it, “You have misled me for a long time!,” after which she converts to Islam and pledges her allegiance to Mohammed. See M. Lecker, “Was Arabian Idol Worship Declining on the Eve of Islam?,” pp. 4-5, in People, Tribes and Society in Arabia Around the Time of Muhammad, Ch. III. He cites this story from ‘Ali ibn al-Hasan ibn ‘Asakir, Ta’rikh madinat Dimashq, 70:177 and Muhammad ibn Sa’d, al-Tabaqat al-kubra, 8:237. In this particular article, Lecker presents a number of similar stories from the early Muslim historiographers which contain this programmatic theme of dramatic conversion to Islam, often accompanied by magical or supernatural circumstances.
(28) – J. Teixidor, The Pantheon of Palmyra, pp. 2-3
(29) – A.J. Brody, “Each Man Cried Out to His God”: The Specialized Religion of Canaanite and Phoenician Seafarers, p. 56, note #95
(30) – T. Fahd, Le Pantheon de l’Arabia Centrale a la Veille de l’Hegira, p. 53, note #8
(31) – H. Ringgren, Religions of the Ancient Near East, p. 131
(32) – L.K. Handy, Among the Host of Heaven: The Syro-Palestinian Pantheon as Bureaucracy, p. 25
(33) – J.F. Healey, The Religion of the Nabataeans: A Conspectus, p. 92
(34) – M. Maraqtan, “An Inscribed Amulet from Shabwa,” Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy, Vol. 7 (1996), p. 91
(35) – See I. Browning, Petra, p. 28
(36) – See N. Gleuck, Deities and Dolphins, p. 516
(37) – A. Guillaume, Islam, p. 7
(38) – T. Fahd, The Encyclopedia of Islam, eds. B. Lewis, V.L. Menage, C. Pellat, and J. Schacht, Vol. 3, p. 536
(39) – F. Hommel, First Encyclopedia of Islam, eds. M.T. Houtsma, T.W. Arnold, R. Basset, and R. Hartmann, Vol. 1, pp. 379-380
(40) – P. Occhigrosso, The Joy of Sects, p. 397
(41) – See e.g. F.M. Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, n. 13, p. 7, who notes the equivalence of Baal Shamen with Zeus Helios, a solar deity, in Nabataean inscriptions.
(42) – Teixidor, op. cit., p. 43
(43) – See R. Hoyland, Arabia and the Arabs: From the Bronze Age to the Coming of Islam, p. 142
(44) – Ibid., p. 159
(45) – Fahd, The Encyclopedia of Islam, eds. B. Lewis, V.L. Menage, C. Pellat, and J. Schacht, loc. cit.
(46) – A. Negev, Nabataean Archaeology Today, pp. 10,14-15
(47) – See A.S. Kapelrud, Baal in the Ras Shamra Texts, pp. 80-82
(48) – The Arabic sources relied upon by Wellhausen to say that Allah was always used as a proper name are, as seen above, necessarily suspect, and probably are the result of later redaction by Muslim theologians of a later day.