Unless stated otherwise, I will be quoting from the Quran: A Reformist Translation (QART), translated and annotated by Edip Yuksel, Layth Saleh al-Shaiban, Martha Schulte-Nafeh (Brainbowpress: Hundred Fourteen Books, USA 2015).
Traditional Sunni Islam teaches that the first pillar of the Muslim faith is the kalima, also known as the shahadatayn, which is to bear witness that there is no god except Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. Sunni theology further states that a person must utter this confession in the presence of at least two Muslims in order for the individual to become a Muslim, thereby entering in the fold of Islam.
What makes this rather astonishing is that, not only does the Quran nowhere mention this precise testification, it actually states that it is actually the lying hypocrites who feel the need to bear witness that Muhammad is Allah’s messenger!
When the hypocrites come to you they say, “We bear witness that you are the messenger of God.” God knows that you are His messenger, and God bears witness that the hypocrites are liars. S. 63:1
The Islamic scripture makes it plainly that Allah suffices as a witness that Muhammad and his messenger, and therefore does not need any man to testify to this supposed fact:
Any good that befalls you is from God, and any bad that befalls you is from yourself. We have sent you as a messenger to the people and God is enough as a witness. S. 4:79
Messengers who were bearers of good news and warners, so that there will be no excuse for the people with God after the messengers. God is Noble, Wise. But God bears witness for what He has sent down to you with His knowledge, and the controllers bear witness; and God is enough as a witness. S. 4:165-166
He is the One who sent His messenger with the guidance and the system of truth, so that it would expose all other systems. God is sufficient as a witness. Muhammed, the messenger of God, and those who are with him, are severe against the ingrates, but merciful between themselves. You see them kneeling and prostrating, they seek God‘s blessings and approval. Their distinction is in their faces, as a result of prostrating. Such is their example in the Torah. Their example in the Injeel is like a plant which shoots out and becomes strong and thick and it stands straight on its trunk, pleasing to the farmers. That He may enrage the ingrates with them. God promises those among them who acknowledge and promote reforms forgiveness and a great reward. S. 48:28-29
In fact, according to the translators of QART confessing Muhammad as Allah’s messenger is actually idolatry!
063:001 Islam, which is peacemaking or peacefully surrendering to God, is the system followed by all righteous monotheists since Adam, and its basic principle is testimony to the absolute and sole authority of God. This testimony is mentioned and advocated in 3:18. As if God forgot a crucial part of the testimony, Sunnis have the audacity to add in the statement Muhammedun Rasulullah (Muhammed is God’s Messenger). The Shiite faction went even a step further and added Ali Hujjatullah (Ali is God’s Argument). This mentality of adding the names of idolized creatures next to God has been exposed by 39:45. Verse 63:1, is the only verse in the Quran that contains the second part of the shahada (testimony). As with the word hadith, sunna, ijma, and sharia (33:38; 35:43; 42:21; 45:6), God knew in advance that the polytheists would add the name of their idols next to His name. Thus, God mentioned the second part as the utterance of hypocrites. Modern hypocrites do not really believe that Muhammed was merely a messenger since they claim that he was a partner with God in authoring God’s religion. They think that Muhammed completed where God had forgotten and that he even abrogated some of the Quranic verses. A messenger of God would never do such a thing, since their only mission is to deliver God’s message. Thus, those who add a testimony about Muhammed’s messengership in the shahada in fact are lying in that testimony; the Muhammed in their mind is no messenger, but rather their imaginary god besides God. (Quran: A Reformist Translation, p. 461)
This is based on the Quran’s prohibition of naming anyone else along with Allah’s name,
And thy Lord is never forgetful, Lord He of the heavens and earth and all that is between them. So serve Him, and be thou patient in His service; knowest thou any that can be named with His Name? S. 19:65 Arberry
The Islamic scripture further shows that the only confession that Allah accepts is to bear witness that there is no deity besides himself:
God bears witness that there is no god but He; as do the controllers, and those with knowledge; He is standing with justice. There is no god but He, the Noble, the Wise. S. 3:18
As the translators of QART explain:
003:018 The act of testifying to the oneness of God (shahada) is considered to be the essential requirement of being a Muslim. The expressions la ilaha illa Allah (there is no god, but the god) and la ilaha illa Hu (there is no god, but He) occur 30 times in the Quran and never in conjunction with another name. Trying a deficiency in the shahada taught by God is a sign of not valuing God as He should be valued. Requiring the addition of another name to God’s name implies that God forgot to include Muhammed’s name, thirty times (19:64; 6:115). Trying to teach God is the zenith of ignorance and audacity (49:16). Considering God alone insufficient is the symptom of idolatry (39:45).
The only shahada (testimony) about the messengership of Muhammed is mentioned in verse 63:1, and those who feel the need for such a testimony are described as hypocrites. There are different reasons for why a person might be considered a hypocrite while he or she is uttering the expression ashadu anna Muhammedan rasululullah (I testify that Muhammed is a messenger of God). Today, the most common hypocrisy is that those who utter this phrase in fact have considered Muhammed to be much more than a messenger, since they reject his message and messengership by not following the verses of the Quran and associating volumes of fabricated narration and sectarian jurisprudence with it. Their testimony regarding Muhammed’s messengership is lip service, since they consider him a god by giving him the power of intercession, the power of collaborating with God in decreeing rules for eternal salvation, the power of amending and abrogating God’s law, the power of fabricating prohibitions in the name of God, and the authority of explaining the “ambiguous” words in God’s book. Despite the words of Muhammed’s Lord, they do not consider Muhammed a human being like them (18:110; 41:6). They do not believe what they say when they say “Muhammed is God’s servant” since they consider the title “messenger/mailman” (rasul) of God to be an insult. They can utter God’s name without phrases of praise, but they cannot utter Muhammed’s name without words of praise. Ironically, they establish their custom of praising Muhammed more than God through distorted and abused meanings of certain verses. Besides, they violate the clear Quranic instruction for not discriminating among His messengers; they put Muhammed in competition with other messengers and consider him high above other prophets and messengers. In today’s Sunni mosques, unlike the masjid of Muhammed’s and his monotheist companions’ (72:18; 20:14), you will find the names of many idols smirking beside the name of God. In addition to Muhammed’s name, one may find the names of Abu Bakr, Omar, Osman, Ali, Hasan, and Husayn. The Shiites have their own set of idols and they too adorn their mosques with their names.
The list of ways Sunnis and Shiites idolize Muhammed can fill an entire book. Nevertheless, they think that they are monotheists, as today’s Trinitarian Christians do. Religious leaders dupe their followers by restricting the meaning of ‘idols’ to pictures and statues; in fact, the idols during Muhammed’s time were abstract names and those mushriks considered themselves to be monotheists (53:19-28; 6:22-24; 6:148; 16:35). One might ask, “what about adorning the walls of masjids with any of the four verses where Muhammed’s name is mentioned?” Well, what about hanging the verses about paradise or hell? What about picking any of the 136 verses where Moses’ name is mentioned? What about Jesus? Or, how about adorning the walls of the masjids with verses about the hypocrites and idolatry? Of course, there is no problem in hanging the Quran upon the walls of masjids, but if a particular verse is picked, then the intention or context becomes important. If any verse from the Quran should be picked, I suggest 39:44/45 or 39:11-12, or any other verse that reminds us to be righteous and helpful to other people. Also, See 2:285; 3:64; 39:45; 53:23; 72:18.
Numerous archeological evidences explain how decades after the revelation of the Quran people added Muhammed’s name to the original shahada. For instance, see, the gold coin from Umayyad 90 AH, or 80 years after the prophet’s departure. Though eighty years after Muhammed, those who worked hard to transform islam to Muhammedanism were not yet able to change the shahada (testimony), by adding side notes etc, they gradually replaced the correct Shahada with today’s most common one, the one that mentions Muhammed’s name after Allah.
In the middle of one side of the coin, the expression, “There is no God; He Alone; He has no partner” is prominent. However, the falsifiers by now were able to insert Muhammed’s name in the margin by a patchy quotation from the end of verse 48:28 and the beginning of 48:29, skipping the expression “And God is sufficient as a witness.” The expression “Muhammedun Rasulullah…” (God’s messenger Muhammed…) is a fragment, not a statement, taken out of the context of verse 48:29. They have performed an interesting surgery (deletion) in order to be able to fit that fragment in the circle. The other side of the coin contains some words from chapter 112, emphasizing God’s oneness and rejecting partners. The Umayyad and Abbasid coins later moved Muhammed’s name to the center, next to God. This crucial distortion gradually took place in a period of time spanning several generations. (Ibid., pp. 114-115)
Ironically, Muslims have become like the idolaters of Muhammad’s day who didn’t like that Allah alone should be mentioned, but rejoiced when others were mentioned besides or alongside Allah:
Say, “To God belong all intercessions.” To Him belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth, then to Him you will be returned. When God Alone is mentioned, the hearts of those who do not acknowledge the Hereafter are filled with aversion; and when others are mentioned beside Him, they rejoice! S. 39:44-45
With that said, here are other verses which confirm that the real shahadah is to testify that there is no god except Allah and/or to acknowledge one’s submitting/surrendering to him:
Who would abandon the creed of Abraham except one who fools himself? We have selected him in this world, and in the Hereafter, he is of the reformers. When his Lord said to him, “Peacefully surrender,” he said, “I peacefully surrender to the Lord of the worlds.” Abraham enjoined his sons and Jacob, “O my sons, God has selected the system for you, so do not die except as ones who have peacefully surrendered.” Or were you present when death came to Jacob and he told his sons, “Who shall you serve after I am gone?” They said, “Your god, and the god of your fathers Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac; One god and to Him we peacefully surrender.” That was a nation that has passed away. To them is what they have earned, and to you is what you have earned; and you will not be asked regarding what they did. Monotheism: The Right Paradigm They said, “Be Jews or Nazarenes so that you may be guided!” Say, “No, rather the creed of Abraham, monotheism; for he was not of those who set up partners.” Say, “We acknowledge God and what was sent down to us and what was sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, the Patriarchs, what was given to Moses and Jesus, and what was given to the prophets from their Lord; we do not make a distinction between any of them and to Him we peacefully surrender.” S. 2:130-136
The system with God is peacemaking and peaceful surrendering (islam). Those who received the book did not dispute except after the knowledge came to them out of jealousy between them. Whoever does not appreciate God‘s signs, then God is swift in computation. If they debate with you, then say, “I have peacefully surrendered myself to God, as well as those who follow me.” In addition, say to those who were given the book and the Gentiles: “Have you peacefully surrendered?” If they have peacefully surrendered then they are guided; but if they turn away, then you are only to deliver. God is watcher over the servants. S. 3:19-20
So when Jesus felt their rejection, he said, “Who are my supporters towards God?” The disciples said, “We are God’s supporters, we acknowledge God and we bear witness that we have peacefully surrendered. Our Lord, we acknowledged what You have sent down; we followed the messenger, so record us with those who bear witness.” S. 3:52-53
Say, “O people of the book, let us come to a common statement between us and you; that we do not serve except God, and do not set up anything at all with Him, and that none of us takes each other as lords beside God.” If they turn away, then say, “Bear witness that we have peacefully surrendered.” S. 3:64
Say, “We acknowledge God and what was sent down to us and what was sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, the Patriarchs, and what was given to Moses, Jesus and the prophets from their Lord. We do not discriminate between them, and to Him we peacefully surrender.” S. 3:84
You will find the people with greatest animosity towards those who acknowledge are the Jews and those who set up partners; and you will find the closest in affection to those who acknowledge are those who said, “We are Nazarenes;” that is because amongst them are Priests and Monks, and they are not arrogant. If they hear what was sent down to the messenger you see their eyes flooding with tears, for what they have known as the truth, they say, “Our Lord, we acknowledge, so record us with the witnesses.” S. 5:82-83
I inspired the disciples that you shall acknowledge Me and My messenger; they Said, ‘We acknowledge, and bear witness that we have peacefully surrendered.’ S. 5:111
Say, “Shall I take other than God as an ally; the creator of heavens and earth; while He feeds and is not fed!” Say, “I have been commanded to be the first who peacefully surrenders.” Do not be of those who set up partners. S. 6:14
Say, “Which is the greatest testimony?” Say, “God is witness between me and you, and He has inspired to me this Quran that I may warn you with it and whomever it reaches. Do you bear witness that along with God are other gods?” Say, “I do not bear witness!” Say, “He is only One god, and I am innocent of your setting up partners!” 6:19
Say, “Shall we call upon other than God what cannot benefit us or harm us, and we turn back on our heels after God has guided us?” This is like the one whom the devils have managed to mislead on earth, he is confused, having friends who call him to the guidance: “Come to us!” Say, “The guidance is God‘s guidance, and we have been ordered to peacefully surrender to the Lord of the worlds.” S. 6:71
Say, “My Lord has guided me to a Straight Path. An upright system, the creed of Abraham the monotheist; he was not from those who set up partners.” Say, “My contact prayer, my devotion and offerings, my life, and my death, are all to God the Lord of the worlds. He has no partner, and this is what I was commanded; I am the first of those who have peacefully surrendered.” Say, “Shall I seek other than God as a Lord when He is the Lord of everything?” Every person earns what is for it, and none will bear the burden of another. Then to your Lord is your return and He will inform you regarding your disputes. S. 6:161-164
When your Lord took from the children of Adam from their backs, their progeny; and He made them witness over themselves: “Am I not your Lord?” They said, “Yes, we bear witness.” Thus you cannot say on the day of Resurrection that you were unaware of this. S. 7:172
“But if you turn away, then I have not asked you for any reward, for my reward is with God. I have been commanded to be of those who have peacefully surrendered.” S. 10:72
We helped the Children of Israel cross the sea, and Pharaoh and his soldiers followed them out of hatred and animosity. But when drowning overtook him, he said, “I acknowledge that there is no god except the One in whom the Children of Israel acknowledge, and I am of those who have peacefully surrendered.” S. 10:90
Say, “It is inspired to me that your god is but One god, so will you peacefully surrender to Him?” S. 21:108
It was said to her: “Enter the palace.” So when she saw it she thought there was a pool, and she uncovered her legs. He said, “It is a palace paved with crystal.” She said, “My Lord, I have wronged myself; and I peacefully surrender with Solomon to God, the Lord of the worlds.” S. 27:44
“I have been ordered to serve the Lord of this town that He has made restricted, and to Him are all things, and I have been ordered to be of those who peacefully surrender.” S. 27:91
If it is recited to them, they say, “We acknowledge it. It is the truth from our Lord. Indeed, we had peacefully surrendered before it.” S. 28:53
Do not argue with the people of the book except in the best manner; except for those who are wicked amongst them; and say, “We acknowledge what was revealed to us and in what was revealed to you, and our god and your god is the same; to Him we peacefully surrender.” S. 29:46
Say, “I have been commanded to serve God, devoting the system to Him. I was commanded to be the frontrunner of those who peacefully surrender.” Say, “I fear, if I disobeyed my Lord, the retribution of a great day.” Say, “God is the One I serve, devoting my system to Him. S. 39:11-14
Say, “I have been forbidden from serving those whom you are calling upon besides God, since the proofs have come to me from my Lord. I have been commanded to peacefully surrender to the Lord of the worlds.” S. 40:66
Who is better in saying than one who invites to God, and does good works, and says: “I am one of those who have peacefully surrendered.” S. 41:33
The Arabs said, “We acknowledge.” Say, “You have not acknowledged; but you should say, ‘We have peacefully surrendered’, for acknowledgement has not yet entered into your hearts.” If you obey God and His messenger, He will not put any of your works to waste. God is Forgiver, Compassionate. Those who acknowledge are those who acknowledge God and His messenger, then they do not doubt; they strive with their money and their lives in the cause of God. These are the truthful ones. Say, “Are you teaching God about your system while God knows everything in the heavens and the earth? God is knowledgeable of all things.” They think they are doing you a favor by having peacefully surrendered. Say, “Do not think you are doing me any favors by your peacefully surrender. For it is God who is doing you a favor that He has guided you to the acknowledgement, if you are honest.” S. 49:14-17
It is clear from the foregoing that the true shahadah according to the Quran has absolutely nothing to do with testifying that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. Rather, the real witness is when a person acknowledges that s/he is surrendering to Allah besides whom there is no other god.
In the next post I will show the Quran ends up contradicting itself on this very point by elevating Muhammad to divine status: Islam: The Religion of Perfect Submission to Muhammad.