According to God’s true Word, the Holy Bible, the Lord Jesus sits enthroned with God the Father andintercedes for believers in order to procure their everlasting redemption:

“But He kept silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, ‘Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ Jesus said, ‘I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.’” Mark 14:61-62

“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.” Romans 6:8-10

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” Romans 8:31-34

“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:19-20

“who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life… But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens;” Hebrews 7:16, 24-26

“Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.” Hebrews 8:1-2

“Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption… Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another—He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” Hebrews 9:12, 23-28  

“But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” Hebrews 10:12-14

“looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. Hebrews 12:22-24

“To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Revelation 3:21

“Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth… His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne… Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.’” Revelation 12:1-2, 4-5, 10

Here’s where we see Satan working in and through Muhammad.

Sunni Islam has taken these unique roles of Christ and attributed them to the Muslim “prophet.” This was obviously done for the purpose of steering Muslims away from the real Jesus by having them place their trust and hope in Allah’s “messenger.”   

According to specific Islamic narrations Allah will actually seat Muhammad on his own throne on the day of judgment and permit him to intercede for Muslims:

“Even though the traditions we have mentioned on the authority of the Prophet and his Companions and the Followers indicate the correct interpretation of maqaman mahmudan in Qur. 17:79 (as referring to Muhammad’s role as intercessor on the Day of Resurrection), Mujahid’s statement that God will seat Muhammad on His Throne remains one whose soundness CANNOT BE REJECTED either on the basis of traditions (khabar) or on the basis of speculation (nazar). This is so because there is no tradition from the Messenger of God or anyone of his Companions or the Followers that declares it to be impossible… From what we have said, it has become clear that, it is not impossible for an adherent of Islam to say what Mujahid had said, namely, that God will seat Muhammad on His Throne. If someone says: We do not disapprove of God’s seating Muhammad on His Throne (in view of the following tradition transmitted by) ‘Abbas b. ‘Abd al-‘Azim–Yahya b. Kathir–al-Jurayri –Sayf al-Sadusi –‘Abdallah b. Salam: ‘On the Day of Resurrection, Muhammad will be on the Lord’s footstool (kursi),’ but we disapprove of God’s seating him together with Him, it should be said: Is it then permissible in your opinion that He seat him on it but not together with him? If he permits this, he is led to affirming that either he is together with Him, or God seats him (on the Throne) while being Himself either separate from it or neither contiguous with nor separate from it. Whatever alternative he chooses, he thereby enters into something that he disapproves. If he says that it is not permissible, he deviates from the statements of all the groups we have reported. This means diverging from the views of all adherents of Islam, since there is no other possible statement than those three, according to each of which Mujahid’s statement in this sense is not impossible.” (The History of Al-Tabari – General Introduction and From Creation to the Flood, translated by Franz Rosenthal [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany, NY 1989], Volume I, Appendix A: A Partial Translation of Tafsir on Qur. 17:79 (Above, pp. 75 f.), pp. 149, 151; bold and capital emphasis mine)

Tabari wasn’t the only reputable scholar to narrate and/or comment this tradition:

10. Al-Qurtubi’s Commentary

Imam al-Qurtubi commented thus on the verse of the Exalted Station in his Tafsir:

The third explanation of this verse is what al-Tabari reported from a party of scholars – among them Mujahid – whereby “the Exalted Station is the seating by Allah of the Prophet with Him on His Throne (kursiyyih).” They narrated a hadith to that effect, and al-Tabari backed up the possibility (jawâz) of such a thing with some extravagant statements (shatatin min al-qawl). However, what he said cannot be inferred [from the verse] except with over-subtlety as to meaning (al-talattuf bi al-ma‘nâ), and it is far-fetched (fîhi bu‘d)This is not to say that there is no such narration; only that [one endowed with] knowledge interprets it figuratively (al-‘ilmu yata’awwaluhu).

Abu Sa‘id al-Naqqash[68] mentioned from Abu Dawud al-Sijistani:[69] “Whoever denies this hadith, WE STRONGLY CONDEMN HIM. The scholars of knowledge never stopped narrating this hadith. Who among them ever denied its possibility, even as he interpreted it?” (G. F. Haddad, The Prophet’s Seating on the Throne (Iq‘âd al-Nabî ‘alâ al-‘Arsh);; bold and capital emphasis mine)

[67] Here al-Qurtubi proceeds to interpret as he had alluded that it should be done when he said: “This is not to say that there is no such narration; only that knowledge demands that it be interpreted figuratively.” (Ibid., bold emphasis mine)


13.  Al-Barbahari’s Idée Fixe

Ibn Abi Ya‘la relates in his Tabaqat that the Hanbali shaykh Abu Muhammad al-Barbahari never sat to teach except he mentioned that the Prophet sits next to Allah on the Throne.[114]

[114] Ibn Abi Ya‘la, Tabaqat al-Hanabila (2:43).

14.  Al-Najjad’s Attack on “Anyone That Contradicts Us”

Ibn Abi Ya‘la wrote the following in his chapter on Abu Bakr al-Najjad in Tabaqat al-Hanabila:

‘Ali[115] narrated to me from Ibn Batta: Abu Bakr al-Najjad told us: Harun ibn al-‘Abbas[116] told us: Muhammad ibn Bishr[117] told us: ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Sharik[118] told us: My father[119] told me: Abu Yahya al-Qattat[120] told us, From Mujahid:

– Also –

(2) Mu‘adh ibn al-Muthanna[121] told us: Khallad ibn Aslam[122] said: Muhammad ibn Fadl[123] told us, From Layth, From Mujahid:

Concerning the verse: “It may be that thy Lord will raise you to an Exalted Station”: “He will seat him with Him on the Throne” (yujlisuhu ma‘ahu ‘alâ al-‘arsh).[124]

Al-Najjad said: “I also asked [about it] Abu Yahya al-Naqid,[125] Ya‘qub al-Mutawwa‘i,[126] ‘Abd Allah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal, and a group of our shaykhs, and they narrated to me the hadith of Muham­mad ibn Fudayl from Layth from Mujahid.

“I also asked Abu al-Hasan al-‘Attar[127] about it, and he narrated to me the hadith of Mujahid. Then he said: ‘I heard Muhammad ibn Mus‘ab al-‘Abid say: “[The Prophet’s seating on the Throne will take place] in order for all creation to see his station before his Lord, and his Lord’s generosity towards him. Then the Prophet shall retire to his apartments and gardens and wives, and alone shall remain Allah in His Lordship (yanfaridu ‘azza wa jalla bi rubûbiyyatihi).”’

“I also looked into the book of Ahmad ibn al-Hajjaj al-Marwazi, who is our imam and guide and proof in this. In that book I found what he mentioned concerning the rejection of the hadiths of ‘Abd Allah ibn Salam[128] and Mujahid, and he listed the names of the shaykhs WHO CRITICIZED THOSE WHO REJECTED THESE HADITHS OR OBJECTED TO THEM.

“Therefore, what we declare and believe before Allah Almighty is what we have just described and made clear concerning the meanings of the hadiths quoted from the Prophet WITH AN UNINTERRUPTED CHAIN (al-ahadith al-musnada ‘an rasul Allah),—[129] and what was said by ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas—[130] and the scholars after him, which was handed down from elder to elder and from age to age until our shaykhs’ time concerning the saying of Allah: [It may be that your Lord will raise you to an Exalted Station]: the Exalted Station consists IN THE SEATING OF THE PROPHET WITH HIS LORD ON THE THRONE. WHOEVER DENIES THIS OR CONTRADICTS IT IS ONLY ATTEMPTING TO PROMOTE THE SAYINGS OF THE JAHMIS. HE SHOULD BE AVOIDED, EXPOSED, AND WARNED AGAINST.[131]

“Similarly, I was told by Abu Bakr the writer,[132] from Abu Dawud al-Sijistani, that the latter said: ‘Whoever rejects the hadith of Mujahid is a Jahmi.’[133]

“Furthermore, Muhammad ibn Suhayb[134] and a group of our shaykhs narrated to us from Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Malik al-Daqiqi[135] that he said: ‘I first heard this hadith fifty years ago, AND I NEVER HEARD ANYONE DENY IT. ONLY THE JAHMI HERETICS REJECT IT.’

“Abu Isma‘il al-Sulami[136] mentioned to us the case of al-Tirmidhi who rejected the pre-eminence of the Prophet and belittled him.[137] Of such a man he said: ‘He does not believe in the Day of Judgment.’ I have seen our shaykhs among the friends of Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Hanbal give the same verdict. They condemned whoever rejected such pre-eminence. Allah has made this condemnation clear in the words of the scholars as far back as one can see. The people have all met this with approval, and no-one denies this nor disputes it.

“Such is also my position. And should one swear a triple divorce by the seating by Allah of the Prophet on the Throne with Him, then consult me on the validity of his oath, I would say: Your words are true, your oath binding, and the divorce stands.

“That is our doctrine, our religion, our belief upon which we were raised and upon which we shall die if Allah wills. We categorically condemn whoever rejects this pre-eminence to which the scholars referred and which they met with acceptance. Whoever rejects it is from the sects that are bound for destruction.”[138]

[131] Here al-Najjad moves from an apologetic and descriptive stance concerned primar­ily with the evidence at hand to an aggressive stance aiming at the persons of those who question it. Towards the end of the passage he once more modifies his attack so as to represent any disputation of Mujahid’s narration as an attack on the Prophet himself.

[138] Abu Bakr al-Najjad in Ibn Abi Ya‘la’s Tabaqat al-Hanabila (2:9-12). (Haddad; bold and capital emphasis mine)

Specific Muslim scholars even went as far as to condemn those that would deny Muhammad’s enthronement as heretics who must be avoided, exposed and warned against:

15. Ibn Batta’s Doctrine

Ibn Batta stated in his book al-Sharh wa al-Ibana ‘ala Usul al-Sunna wa al-Diyana (“Elaboration of the Principles of Sunni Doctrine”):

The Prophet shall be seated on the Throne with his Lord (yujlas ma‘a rabbihi ‘alâ al-‘arsh), and this privilege belongs to no-one else. Thus did Nafi‘ narrate it from Ibn ‘Umar from the Prophet concerning the verse: “It may be that thy Lord will raise you to an Exalted Station” – he said that He shall seat him with Him on the Throne. Thus also did Mujahid explain it, as narrated by Muhammad ibn Fudayl, from al-Layth, from Mujahid. (Ibid.; bold emphasis mine)

Even the renowned scholar Ibn Taymiyyah and his star pupil Ibn Qayyim believed and embraced the veracity of this tradition!

12. Ibn al-Qayyim’s List of Supporters

Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya[78] said in his Bada’i‘ al-Fawa’id:

Al-Qadi [Ibn Abi Ya‘la][79] said: “Al-Marwazi[80] compiled a book on the superlative merits of the Prophet in which he mentioned his seating (iq‘âduhu) on the Throne (al-‘arsh).”

Al-Qadi further said: “This is the position of Abu Dawud, Ahmad ibn Asram,[81] Yahya ibn Abi Talib,[82] Abu Bakr ibn Hammad,[83] Abu Ja‘far al-Dimashqi,[84] ‘Abbas al-Duri,[85] Ishaq ibn Rahuyah (or Rahawayh),[86] ‘Abd al-Wahhab al-Warraq,[87] Ibrahim al-Asbahani,[88] Ibrahim al-Harbi,[89] Harun ibn Ma‘ruf,[90] Muhammad ibn Isma‘il al-Sulami,[91] Muhammad ibn Mus‘ab al-‘Abid,[92] Abu Bakr ibn Sadaqa,[93] Muhammad ibn Bishr ibn Sharik,[94] Abu Qilaba,[95] ‘Ali ibn Sahl,[96] Abu ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abd al-Nur,[97] Abu ‘Ubayd,[98] al-Husayn ibn Fadl,[99] Harun ibn al-‘Abbas al-Hashimi,[100] Isma‘il ibn Ibrahim al-Hashimi,[101] Muham­mad ibn ‘Imran al-Farisi al-Zahid,[102] Muhammad ibn Yunus al-Basri,[103] ‘Abd Allah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal,[104] al-Marwazi, and Bishr al-Hafi.”[105]

I say: It is also the position of Ibn Jarir al-Tabari,[106] and the leader of all the above in this is Mujahid, the imam of Qur’anic commentary. It is also Abu al-Hasan al-Daraqutni’s[107] who said:

The hadith of Intercession narrated by Ahmad
Is traced back to the Elect, Ahmad.
Also known to us is the hadith of his seating
Let the hadith pass exactly as narrated,
And do not enter into false notions.
Neither deny that the Prophet sits on the Throne,
Nor deny that Allah makes him sit there!

[108] Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Bada’i‘ al-Fawa’id (1900 ed. 4:39-40, 1994 ed. 2:328-329). (Ibid.; bold and capital emphasis mine)


16.  Ibn Taymiyya’s Inheritance

Ibn Taymiyya wrote:

The scholars recognized by Allah and His accepted Friends have narrated that Muhammad the Messenger of Allah will be seated by His Lord on the Throne next to Him.

Muhammad ibn Fudayl narrated this from Layth from Mujahid in the commentary of the verse: “It may be that your Lord will raise you to an Exalted Station.” This was also mentioned through other chains, some traced back to the Prophet and some not.

Ibn Jarir [al-Tabari] said: “This does not contradict the nearly-mass-narrated narrations (ma istafâdat bihi al-ahâdith) whereby the Exalted Station is the Intercession as agreed upon by the Imams of all Muslims.” He does not say that the Prophet’s seating on the Throne is denounced as false; ONLY SOME JAHMIS HELD IT SO. Nor is it objectionable to mention it in the context of a commentary on the verse.[141]

[141] Ibn Taymiyya, Majmu‘ al-Fatawa (Mufassal al-I‘tiqad – “Specifics of Belief” – 4:374). (Ibid.; bold and capital emphasis mine)

In case Muhammadans argue that this narration is weak or da’eef here is a report which is deemed to be reliable or sound:

8. Another Narration From ‘Abd Allah ibn Salam

From ‘Abd Allah ibn Salam, in a long hadith on the Day of Judgment: “A seat (kursî) will be placed for the Prophet on the right of Allah.”[38]

[38] Al-Hakim narrated it in his Mustadrak (4:568-569) and declared its chain sound (sahîh), as confirmed by al-Dhahabi. (Ibid.; bold and capital emphasis mine)

Islamic scholar Livnat Holtzman mentions the controversy this hadith of Muhajid’s caused for the Muslim community:

… According to Q. 17:79, God promised Muhammad ‘an honourable station’ (maqāman mahmūdan). Mujahid explained this phrase: ‘[God] will make [Muhammad] sit down with Him on His throne’. 9 Previous scholarship that discussed this hadīth focused on its authenticity and its connection to the hardships that the illustrious historian and Quran exegete, Abu Jaʿfar Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari (d. 923), suffered from the Hanbalites of Baghdad.10

When Abu Bakr al-Najjad completed his thorough investigations about this hadīth, he issued a creed (ʿaqīda pl. ʿaqāʾid), a profession of faith which reflected the feelings of the Hanbalites on this matter:

This is our profession of faith before God: We believe in the content of the ahādīth that are attributed to the Messenger of God, but also to ʿAbd Allah ibn ʿAbbas (d. 687–8), and the scholars who succeeded him. These ahādīth were transmitted from one great scholar to another, from one generation to the next generation, until the times of our great teachers. We wrote these ahādīth, and meticulously investigated their content. These ahādīth interpret the meaning of the Quranic verse [Q. 17:79] ‘your Lord may exalt you to an honourable station’. According to these ahādīth, ‘the honourable station’ means that Muhammad will sit with His Lord on His throne. Whoever rejects this interpretation and refutes it, expresses the views of the Jahmiyya (the Muʿtazilites). One must avoid this person, turn away from him, and beware of him. Abu Bakr al-Khatib (d. 933) informed me that Abu Dawud al-Sijistani told him: ‘Whoever rejects the hadīth attributed to Mujahid is a Jahmite (Muʿtazilite)’.11

Al-Najjad concluded that the belief in Muhammad’s noble virtue (fadīla) of sitting with God on the throne was one of the cornerstones of the Hanbalite creed. To illustrate the strength of this belief, al-Najjad explained that hypothetically, a man who declared that God would make Muhammad sit down with Him on the throne and thereafter took the oath on pain of triple divorce12 to strengthen his declaration, should have never feared that he needed to divorce his wife. If this man came to al-Najjad to seek his legal advice whether he should divorce his wife or not, the scholar would tell him:

You declared the truth, your oath is valid, and your wife should remain safely in her position. Because this is our way, our religion, and our creed. This is the root of our conviction from which we emerged. We will adhere to this conviction until the day we die.13

Written in the middle of the tenth century, al-Najjad’s creed paraphrased the hadīth on Mujahid’s interpretation of ‘an honourable station’ and elevated it to the degree of an article of faith for the Hanbalites. By doing so, al-Najjad sealed the turbulent history of this hadīth and silenced all the voices that spoke against this hadīth or merely doubted its veracity. Al-Najjad’s creed concluded the continuous controversy about this hadīth with a smashing victory over the middle-of-the-road traditionalists.14 To correctly evaluate al-Najjad’s creed, we need to examine the meaning of this hadīth and its history.

The hadīth on Mujahid’s interpretation of ‘an honourable station’ was one of the conspicuous ahādīth al-sifāt, the traditions on the divine attributes that included anthropomorphic descriptions of God. This hadīth was controversial in spite of the fact that it did not describe God in any physical way or form. When read literally, this hadīth implies that ‘an honourable station’ is an actual, physical place, and that God’s sitting on the throne (with Muhammad next to Him) is accordingly an actual sitting of a physical body. This reading obviously led to tashbīh, namely comparing God to His creation and anthropomorphising Him. Laymen who heard this hadīth might have been led to visualise a majestic human figure on a throne, sitting next to a much smaller human figure. The implied description of God in this hadīth was unmistakably an anthropomorphic description… (Holtzman, Anthropomorphism in Islam: The Challenge of Traditionalism (700-1350) (Edinburgh Studies in Classical Islamic History and Culture) [Edinburg University Press, Ltd. 2019], Introduction, 1. The Narrator and Narrative: A Literary Analysis of Ahadith al-Sifat, pp. 4-5; bold emphasis mine)

The ninth-century ultra-traditionalists who defended this hadīth and studied it, toiled a great deal to prove the antiquity of the text. Thus, a marginal muhaddith by the name of Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Malik al-Daqiqi (d. 876) declared: ‘I heard this hadīth for the last fifty years, and I never heard anyone rejecting it. Only the heretics and the Jahmites deny its veracity.’23 The traditionalists also decorated the hadīth with further details during their study sessions. The Hanbalite Abu ’l-Hasan ibn al-ʿAttar (d. 881) reminisced about such a study session, conducted by the muhaddith Muhammad ibn Musʿab al-ʿAbid al-Daʿʿaʾ (d. 843) from Baghdad:

Once I heard Muhammad ibn Musʿab al-ʿAbid recount this hadīth which is attributed to Mujahid, namely ‘[God] will make [Muhammad] sit down with Him on His throne’. After transmitting this hadīth, Muhammad ibn Musʿab al-ʿAbid added: ‘So all the creatures will see Muhammad’s position at His Lord, and the respect that His Lord has for him. Thereafter, Muhammad will retire to his chambers, gardens and wives in Paradise, so God will remain alone in His ruling of the world.’24 (Ibid., pp. 7-8; bold emphasis mine)

Holtzman further notes how Muslims resorted to violence over this hadith, with some Hanbalites physically attacking the great Muslim exegete and historian al-Tabari for daring to question its veracity:

The Hanbalite scholarship in defence of the anthropomorphic version included enthusiastic declarations supporting this hadīth and crowning it as authentic and valuable. Some Hanbalites went further and declared that this hadīth reflected the absolute truth, and should it be refuted, they would immediately divorce their wives.40 The more reserved Hanbalites searched for Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s opinion on this hadīth. We found evidence of his supposed opinion in Ibtāl al-Taʾwīlāt, a thematic Hadith compilation authored by the Hanbalite theologian and qadi Abu Yaʿla ibn al-Farraʾ (d. 1066; he was also the father of the biographer Ibn Abi Yaʿla). Abu Yaʿla dedicated a lengthy chapter in his book to the efforts of the Hanbalite muhaddithūn to validate the hadīth attributed to Mujahid. Thus, the Hanbalites claimed that Ahmad ibn Hanbal himself ordered his disciples to transmit the anthropomorphic version attributed to Mujahid in the exact wording as it was received. The Hanbalites further claimed that Ahmad ibn Hanbal believed that the anthropomorphic version should have been attributed to Mujahid’s teacher, the sahābī Ibn ʿAbbas.41 These two claims do not correspond with the fact that the hadīth attributed to Mujahid was not included in the Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, the canonical Hadith compilation of the Hanbalites. Furthermore, Ahmad ibn Hanbal is not mentioned in the list of some thirty early Hanbalite scholars who professed their support for the anthropomorphic version attributed to Mujahid. These names were assembled by Abu Bakr al-Marwazi himself.42 It is reasonable to assume that if al-Marawzi thought that Ahmad ibn Hanbal had supported this hadīth, or merely acknowledged its existence, he would have mentioned Ahmad ibn Hanbal at the top of the list.43

The debate about the anthropomorphic version did not remain a theoretical issue. The hadīth became a major component in the political agenda of the Hanbalites. In the year 922 (this is an approximate chronology, as the historical sources do not provide specific details about the following occurrence), a group of Hanbalites attacked the illustrious historian and Quran exegete Abu Jaʿfar Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari (d. 923) in Baghdad. Al-Tabari, as one of the sources claimed, refused to accept the anthropomorphic version attributed to Mujahid and had the audacity to reject this hadīth in public.44

In his great exegesis of the Quran, al-Tabari implanted subtle references to his rejection of the hadīth attributed to Mujahid: he first established that ‘the majority of the scholars’ (akthar ahl al-ʿilm) believed that the ‘honourable station’ was Muhammad’s intercession for the people on the Day of Resurrection,45 by quoting a dozen ahādīth to prove his point.46 In the next phase, al-Tabari remarked that ‘others’ (ākharūn) claimed that the ‘honourable station’ meant that God promised the Prophet that He would make the Prophet sit on the throne, next to God.47 Thereafter, al-Tabari quoted ten anthropomorphic variants of the hadīth attributed to Mujahid.48 As a rule, al-Tabari did not hesitate throughout his work of exegesis to accept certain ahādīth as authentic and reject others. Nonetheless, he was extremely cautious in the case of the hadīth attributed to Mujahid: Al-Tabari declared that there is no way to refute the authenticity of the hadīth attributed to Mujahid, neither by locating some textual evidence (khabar) nor by applying rational reasoning (nazar).49 This saying is far from the enthusiastic declarations of the Hanbalites support for this hadīth’s veracity. We note that the Hanbalites declared that the sceptics who did not accept this hadīth were heretics. However, in the severe circumstances in which al-Tabari lived in Baghdad (he was forced to stay at home, while visitors were prevented from visiting him),50 al-Tabari seemed to have no other choice but to issue his lukewarm support of this hadīth’s authenticity.

In 929, strife arose between the Hanbalite supporters of Abu Bakr al-Marwazi and ‘a group of commoners’ (ʾifa min ’l-ʿāmma) in Baghdad. This strife, which soon escalated into riots (fitna) was ignited because of an argument about Q. 17:79, and ‘an honourable station’. Relying on earlier sources, the Damascene historian Ibn Kathir (d. 1373) reported on these riots in his monumental chronicle al-Bidāya wa’l-Nihāya. Ibn Kathir’s report is quite odd, because in it the ‘commoners’ claimed that ‘an honourable station’ was ‘the great intercession’, while the Hanbalites held their traditional position about Muhammad’s sitting on the throne. According to Ibn Kathir, the riots resulted in the deaths of an unspecified number of rioters. Ibn Kathir adds his opinion that according to Sahīh al-Bukhāri, the canonical Hadith compilation, ‘an honourable station’ was indeed the great intercession.51 It seems that by determining that there was only one possible interpretation of ‘an honourable station’, and that this interpretation was not the one favoured by the Hanbalites, Ibn Kathir (who was considered an indirect disciple of the Hanbalite Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya) expressed his reservation about the behaviour of the tenth-century Hanbalites and their choice of texts to venerate. Other authors of the Mamluk period, like the Shafiʿite Ibn Hajar al-ʿAsqalani (d. 1449), who in fact was inclined towards Ashʿarite theology, accepted the hadīth attributed to Mujahid.52 Ibn Hajar even harshly condemned a later rationalistic scholar who refuted this hadīth.53 The admission of the anthropomorphic version to the traditionalistic canon was therefore fully accomplished in the fifteenth century. (Ibid., pp. 12-14; bold emphasis mine)

9. Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Tabaqāt al-Fuqahāʾ al-Hanābila, vol. 2, p. 14.

10. Ignaz Goldziher was the first scholar to address this hadīth and its consequences in both the public sphere (the 929 riots, al-Tabari’s ordeals, etc.), and the role that Mujahid played in shaping this hadīth: Goldziher, Die Richtungen der islamischen Koranauslesung, pp. 101–11. Franz Rosenthal’s informative introduction to his translation of al-Tabari’s Kitāb al-Rusul wa’l-Mulūk focuses on al-Tabari’s interpretation of Q. 17:79, and provides an interpretation of al-Tabari’s discussion on the hadīth attributed to Mujahid: Rosenthal, ‘General Introduction’, pp. 57–8, 69–78. Another illuminating discussion on al-Tabari’s interpretation of Q. 17:79 is Claude Gilliot’s. Gilliot also analyses a parallel passage authored by the Quran exegete Abu ʿAbd Allah al-Qurtubi (d. 1272): Gilliot, Exégèse, langue, et théologie, pp. 249–54. Two indispensable discussions are Swartz, A Medieval Critique of Anthropomorphism, p. 249, footnote 358; and Ramadān, Usūl al-Dīn ʿinda ’l-Imām al-Tabarī, pp. 23–33. The confrontations between the Hanbalites and al-Tabari are briefly described in Turner, Inquisition in Early Islam, pp. 145–8. Turner determines that ‘[t]he violent Hanbalī response to al-Tabarī is most clearly understood if their madhhab is seen as a new player competing with al-Tabarī’s madhhab, which was equally new’: Turner, Inquisition in Early Islam, p. 146. A comprehensive study on the relationships between al-Tabari and the Hanbalites, including an illuminating discussion on al-Tabari’s treatment of Q. 17:79, including a reference to the prominent Hanbalite sources, is Shah, ‘Al-Tabarī and the Dynamics of the Tafsīr’, pp. 105–10.

11. Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Tabaqāt al-Fuqahāʾ al-Hanābila, vol. 2, pp. 16–17.

12. On the oath on pain of triple divorce (hilf bi’l-talāq thalāthan), see Rapoport, Marriage, Money and Divorce, p. 92.

13. Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Tabaqāt al-Fuqahāʾ al-Hanābila, vol. 2, pp. 17–18.

14. Al-Najjad’s disciple, the influential muhaddith and Hanbalite jurisprudent Ibn Batta (d. 997), also issued a creed. In this creed he clarified that Mujahid’s hadīth is one of the cornerstones of the Hanbalite creed: Laoust, La profession de foi d’Ibn Batta, pp. 60–1, 113…

23. Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Tabaqāt al-Fuqahāʾ al-Hanābila, vol. 2, pp. 16–17. See similar declarations by ninth-century traditionalists in al-Khallāl, al-Sunna, vol. 1, pp. 217–18, anecdote 250; p. 219, anecdote 253.

24. Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Tabaqāt al-Fuqahāʾ al-Hanābila, vol. 2, p. 14…

40. Al-Khallāl, al-Sunna, vol. 1, pp. 256–7, anecdotes 307–8; pp. 258–9, anecdote 312.

41. Abū Yaʿlā, Ibtāl al-Taʾwīlāt, p. 480, anecdotes 447–8; van Ess, TG, vol. 2, pp. 642–3.

42. Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Badāʾiʿ al-Fawāʾid, vol. 4, p. 1380.

43. See the illuminating analysis of Tāhā Muhammad Najjār Ramādān, Usūl al-Dīn ʿinda ’l-Imām al-Tabarī, pp. 29–30, and the precise remark of Shah, ‘Al-Tabarī and the Dynamics of the Tafsīr’, p. 136, note 153.

44. Yāqūt, Muʿjam al-Udabā’, vol. 1, p. 2450.

45. Al-Tabarī, Jāmiʿ al-Bayān, vol. 15, p. 43 (the interpretation of Q. 17:79).

46. Al-Tabarī, Jāmiʿ al-Bayān, vol. 15, pp. 43–7 (the interpretation of Q. 17:79); Gilliot, Exégèse, langue, et théologie, pp. 249–51; Shah, ‘Al-Tabarī and the Dynamics of the Tafsīr’, pp. 108–9.

47. Al-Tabarī, Jāmiʿ al-Bayān, vol. 15, p. 47 (the interpretation of Q. 17:79).

48. Al-Tabarī, Jāmiʿ al-Bayān, vol. 15, pp. 47–51 (the interpretation of Q. 17:79).

49. Al-Tabarī, Jāmiʿ al-Bayān, vol. 15, p. 51 (the interpretation of Q. 17:79). Al-Tabari developed his implied rejection of the hadīth in a convoluted discussion on God’s transcendence that he wisely inserted in other passages in his discussion of Q. 17:79: al-Tabarī, Jāmiʿ al-Bayān, vol. 15, pp. 51–4. This discussion remains for another time.

50. Al-Khatīb al-Baghdādī, Tārīkh Madīnat al-Salām, vol. 2, p. 551 (the biography of Abu Jaʿfar Ibn Jarir al-Tabari).

51. Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa’l-Nihāya, vol. 15, pp. 42–3 (the events of Hijri year 317). Cf. the reports of the historians Ibn al-Athir (d. 1233) and Shams al-Din al-Dhahabi (d. 1348): Ibn al-Athīr, al-Kāmil fī ’l-Tārīkh, vol. 8, p. 57 (the events of Hijri year 317); al-Dhahabī, Tārīkh al-Islām, vol. 23, p. 384 (the events of Hijri year 317).

52. Ibn Hajar al-ʿAsqalānī, Fath al-Bārī, vol. 8, p. 259, hadīth 4534 (Kitāb Tafsīr al-Qurʾān, bāb qawlihi taʿālā ʿasā an yabʿathaka rabbuka maqāman mahmūdan).

53. Ibn Hajar al-ʿAsqalānī, Fath al-Bārī, vol. 11, pp. 433–7, hadīth 6344 (Kitāb al-riqāq, bāb sifat al-janna wa’l-nār). (Ibid., pp. 17-20; bold emphasis mine)

Hence, Muhammad will be given a seat at the right side of Allah!

Since the throne represents Allah’s lordship over creation (rububiyyah),

Verily your Lord is Allah, who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and is firmly established on the throne (of authority), regulating and governing all things. No intercessor (can plead with Him) except after His leave (hath been obtained). This is Allah your Lord; Him therefore serve ye: will ye not receive admonition? S. 10:3 Yusuf Ali

Say: “Allah knows best how long they stayed. With Him is (the knowledge of) the unseen of the heavens and the earth. How clearly He sees, and hears (everything)! They have no Wali (Helper, Disposer of affairs, Protector, etc.) other than Him, and He makes NONE to share in His Decision and His Rule.” S. 18:26 Hilali-Khan

Blessed be He who has sent down the Salvation upon His servant, that he may be a warner to all beings; to whom belongs the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth; and He has not taken to Him a son, and He has no associate in the Kingdom; and He created every thing, then He ordained it very exactly. S. 25:1-2 Arberry

This means that Allah shall take Muhammad as a partner in his exclusive rule over the heavens and earth, making his so-called prophet into another sovereign lord besides himself!

As if Islam’s blasphemy couldn’t get any worse, other supposedauthentic narrations assert that the names of Allah and Muhammad are written on the pillars of Allah’s throne, and that Adam was forgiven because he invoked Muhammad’s name!

Al-Bayhaqi cited the following hadith in his book “Dala’il an-Nubuwwah” (Signs of Prophethood): Narrated ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattab: the Prophet said: “When Adam committed the sin, he said to Allah, ‘O My Lord, I ask You with reference to Muhammad to forgive me‘. Allah said: ‘O Adam! How did you know about Muhammad, for I have not yet created him?’ Adam replied, ‘O My Lord, when You created me, I looked up and saw inscribed on the legs of the Throne the words: There is no God worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger. I knew that you do not attach to Your name but the name of the dearest of Your Creation.’ Allah said to Adam, ‘You have spoken rightly, Adam. Muhammad is the dearest of My Creation. I have forgiven you because you asked by Muhammad. AND HAD IT NOT BEEN FOR HIM, I WOULD NOT HAVE CREATED YOU.'” This hadith was narrated by al-Hakim who also classified it AS SAHIH (AUTHENTIC). Among the transmitters of this hadith is ‘Abd ar-Rahman Ibn Zayd Ibn Aslam. Al-Haythami said: “This hadith was reported by at-Dabarani and in its chain of transmitters are people I do not know. Al-Hakim was therefore mistaken in classifying this hadith as sahih because he himself criticised ‘Abd ar-Rahman Ibn Zayd Ibn Aslam in his book ad-Du’afa, so how can he state the authenticity of the hadith after he had criticised him?!!” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Part 1, Surah Al-Fatiah Surah Al-Baqarah, ayat 1 to 141, Abridged by Sheikh Nasib Ar-Rafa’i [Al-Firdous Ltd., London: Second Edition 1998], p. 107, fn 10; bold and capital emphasis mine)


Abu Muhammad al-Makki, Abu’l-Layth as-Samarqandi and others related that when Adam rebelled, he said, “O Allah, forgive me my error BY THE RIGHT OF MUHAMMAD!” Allah said to him, “How do you know Muhammad?” He said, “I saw written in every place in the Garden, ‘There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.’ So I knew that he was the most honoured creation in Your eyes.” SO ALLAH TURNED TO HIM AND FORGAVE HIM. It is said that this is the interpretation of the words of Allah, “Adam learned some words from his Lord.” (2:27)

Another variant has that Adam said, “When you created me, I lifted my gaze to Your Throne AND WRITTEN ON IT WAS: ‘There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah,’ so I knew there would be no one held in greater esteem by You THAN THE ONE WHOSE NAME YOU PLACED ALONGSIDE YOUR OWN NAME.” Allah then revealed to him, “By My might and majesty, he is the last of the prophets among your descendants. IF IT HAD NOT BEEN FOR HIM, I WOULD HAVE NOT CREATED YOU.” It is said that Adam was given the kunya, Abu Muhammad. Some people say that it was Abu’l-Bashar (the father of mankind). (Qadi ‘Iyad Musa al-Yahsubi, Muhammad Messenger of Allah (Ash-Shifa of Qadi ‘Iyad), translated by Aisha Abdarrahman Bewley [Madinah Press, Inverness, Scotland, U.K. 1991; third reprint, paperback], Chapter Three: On the Sound And Well-Known Traditions Related About the Immense Value Placed On Him By His Lord, His Exalted Position And His Nobility In This World And The Next, Section 1: His place, p. 89; capital emphasis mine)

Gibril Haddad mentions similar reports:

– The hadith of Adam’s tawassul through the Prophet is related by the Companions – Maysara, Ibn ‘Abbas, and Ibn ‘Umar – with chains varying in strength from strong to very weak:

I. Ibn al-Jawzi narrated in al-Wafa with his chain through al-Bayhaqi’s and al-Khatib’s shaykh, the trustworthy hafiz Abu al-Husayn ‘Ali ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah, known as Ibn Bishran al-‘Adl al-Umawi al-Baghdadi al-Mu‘addal (d. 411 or 415) in his Fawa’id, from the trustworthy hafiz and Musnid of Baghdad Abu Ja‘far Muhammad ibn ‘Amr ibn al-Bakhtari al-Razzaz, from Ahmad ibn Ishaq ibn Salih al-Wazzan al-Jurjani (d. 281 “la ba’sa bihi” according to al-Daraqutni), from Muhammad ibn Sinan al-‘Awqi (d. 223, al-Bukhari’s shaykh in the Sahih), from Ibrahim ibn Tahmn (one of the narrators of the Sahihayn), from Budayl ibn Maysara (one of the narrators in Sahih Muslim), from ‘Abd Allah ibn Shaqiq (one of the narrators in Sahih Muslim), from the Companion Maysarat al-Fajr:

I said: “Messenger of Allah, when were you made a Prophet?” He replied: “When Allah created the earth and turned to the heavens, arranging them into seven heavens, and He created the Throne, He wrote on the leg of the Throne: MUHAMMAD IS THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH AND THE SEAL OF PROPHETS. And Allah created Paradise in which He made Adam and Hawwa’ dwell, then He wrote my name [there] on the gates, the tree-leaves, the houses and tents, while Adam was still between the spirit and the body. When Allah Most High brought him to life, he looked at the Throne and saw my name, whereupon Allah Most High informed him: ‘He is the liege-lord of your offspring.’ When shaytan deceived them, they repented and sought intercession with my name from Him.”

The hadith master al-Salihi cited it in Subul al-Huda wal-Rashad (Beirut ed. 1:86=Cairo ed. 1:104) and said “Its chain is good and there is no harm in it.”1 Al-Halabi also cited it in his Sira (1:355)…

II. Al-Khallal narrated in al-Sunna (1:261): Al Fadl ibn Muslim al-Muharibi narrated to us: Muhammad ibn ‘Isma narrated to us: Jundul [ibn Waliq, thiqa per al-Haythami] narrated to us: ‘Amr ibn Aws al-Ansari [mastur per al-Dhahabi] narrated to us: from Sa‘id ibn Abi ‘Aruba: from Qatada: from Sa‘id ibn al-Musayyab: from Ibn ‘Abbas: Allah Most High revealed to ‘Isa: ‘O ‘Isa, Believe in Muhammad and command whosoever reaches his time among your Community that they believe in him. Were it not for Muhammad, I would not have created Adam, and were it not for Muhammad, I would not have created Paradise or Hellfire. Indeed, I created the Throne on top of the water and it shook, so I inscribed upon it LA ILAHA ILLA ALLAH MUHAMMADAN RASULULLAH, where upon it stood still.’” Al-Khallal said: “I read it to Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Bishr ibn Sharik and he concurred with it,” i.e. with its being authentic.

Al-Hakim similarly narrated in the Mustadrak (2:614-615=2:271): ‘Ali ibn Hamshadh al-‘Adl (258-338) [Abu al-Hasan al-Naysaburi, a major trustworthy hafiz] narrated to us by dictation: Harun ibn al-‘Abbas al-Hashimi (208-275) [thiqa per al-Khatib] narrated to us: Jundul ibn Waliq narrated to us, to the end of the above chain and text. Al-Hakim said: “This is a sound-chained hadith but Al-Bukhari and Muslim did not narrate it.”2

Al-Dhahabi in his Talkhis al-Mustadrak and Mizan al-I‘tidal (s.v. ‘Amr ibn Aws) conjectures that Ibn ‘Abbas’s narration is forged (“azunnuhu mawdu‘an”but brings no proof, as its chain contains neither a liar nor a forger and is a fair chain by the Salafs criteria for fada’il hadiths.

1A grading confirmed by ‘Abd Allah al-Ghumari in Murshid al-Ha’ir (p. 37) and al-Radd al-Muhkam (p. 138-139) as well as his student Mahmud Mamduh in Raf‘ al-Minara (p. 247-249).

2Also Abu al-Shaykh in Tabaqat al-Asfahaniyyin according to al-Lacknawi in al-Athar al-Marfu‘a (p. 44), and Abu Sa‘d al-Naysaburi in (1:163-165 §15). (Hadith of Adam’s tawassul through the Prophet; bold and capital emphasis mine)

The foregoing makes it abundantly clear that Satan raised up Muhammad to become a Christ figure in order to mislead people from turning to the true Jesus, mankind’s only hope of salvation:

“‘Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.’ Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” John 14:1-6

“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the “stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.” Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.’ Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.” Acts 4:8-14

It also proves that Islam is not a monotheistic faith since it has turned Muhammad into a demigod who shares in Allah’s exclusive traits.

May the risen Lord of glory, God’s beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, deliver Muslims from this antichrist figure, saving them from Allah and his so-called messenger, and bring them to his glorious feet in order to experience the everlasting love and peace that comes from him alone:

All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:27-30

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

All biblical references taken from the New King James Version (NKJV).


Muhammad on the Throne – More on Islam’s Other God

Quran Difficulty: Is Allah the only ruler?


The belief in Muhammad’s enthronement led to strife and violence among the Muslims, which even resulted in al-Tabari being viciously opposed by a group of Hanbali Muslims. These Muslims went as far as to destroy al-Tabari’s very own home, and having him barred from speaking in certain places:

Qur’an 17:79 was generally explained as eschatological274 and the “praiseworthy position” as referring to Muhammad’s role as intercessor with the Deity on the Last Day. There was, however, a tradition reported from Mujahid (but not found in the preserved recension of his commentary on Qur. 17:79) which reached Tabari by way of ‘Abbad b. Ya’qub al-Asadi–Muhammad b. Fudayl–Layth b. Abi Sulaym. It states that the “praiseworthy position” means that Muhammad will be seated by God on his divine Throne.275 Hanbalite championship of the tradition produced vehement outpourings of hatred against those who opposed it, allegedly with equal immoderation. They were called by every conceivable epithet; they were branded as innovators, liars, ignoramuses, heretics (zindiq), and unbelievers. Above all, they were seen as Jahmis, that is, speculative theologians (Mu’tazilites). Their nefarious intent–or, at any rate, the result of their attitude–was to deny a singular distinction to the Prophet, and, in the process, they defamed the exemplary Muslim that was Mujahid. Already Ibn Hanbal’s principal successor as spokesman for his legal school, Abu Bakr al-Marrudhi (d. 275/888),276 was strongly partial to Mujahid’s tradition and appears to have employed the “praiseworthy position” question as a sort of shibboleth. Abu Bakr al-Marrudhi’s student and successor as the principal Hanbalite scholar of his time, Abu Bakr al-Khallal (d. 311/923), took up the subject. He reproduced his teacher’ s arguments at length and thus preserved them for posterity.277 His younger contemporary, al-Barbahari (d. 329/941),278 then made the most of it. He missed no opportunity to proclaim Qur. 17:79 as referring to the Prophet’s being seated on the divine Throne. Although al-Barbahari’s name is not mentioned in connection with Tabari’s Hanbalite trouble, he probably must be seen as the person behind much of it.

The actual course of the events affecting Tabari can be reconstructed only with difficulty, because supporters on both sides apparently circulated conflicting reports. Matters appear to have come to a head after the year 290/903. In that year, Tabari returned to his home town in Tabaristan on a second, and apparently last, visit. He no doubt used the Khurasan Road that took him through such large cities as Dinawar and Hamadhan. In Dinawar, he stopped to meet with scholars there and to give lectures; he may very well have done the same in other towns along the road, thus making his journey profitable intellectually and, possibly, economically. On his return to Baghdad, three Hanbalites, who do not seem further identifiable,279 asked Tabari about his views on Mujahid’s tradition. Tabari is said to have declared bluntly that it was absurd. Moreover, he added a flippant jingle ridiculing it:

Praised be the One Who has no confidant and has no one to sit on His Throne.

Enraged Hanbalites thereupon stoned his residence and caused a serious disturbance which had to be subdued by force.

Trouble with the Hanbalites that took a similar form is also reported at the time of Tabari’s death. In connection with it, Nazuk is mentioned as chief of police. He was appointed to this position only in 310/922[3], the year Tabari died, but he appears to have held high positions in the police before and may already have been in charge of Tabari ‘s protection against potential Hanbalite violence. In 309/921121, the wazir ‘Ali b. ‘Isa had offered Tabari the opportunity to debate the matter with the Hanbalites in his residence. Tabari agreed, but the Hanbalites did not show up.280 However, shortly before his death, Hanbalite rioters supposedly pelted his house with stones so numerous that they formed a large wall in front of it. The verse just quoted was discovered written on the wall of Tabari’s house. After the riot subsided, someone wrote underneath it:

Ahmad281 will no doubt have a high position when he comes to the Merciful One,

Who will draw him near and seat him nobly to spite an(y) envier,

Upon a throne enveloping him282 with perfume to make livid an(y) obnoxious liar.

(He has) truly this unique position (al-maqam).

This has been transmitted by Layth from Mujahid.

Inscriptions in verse or prose on the walls of houses are a standard device of the Arabic literary imagination. It seems most unlikely that a man in Tabari’s position and at his advanced age would have been so childish as to write inflammatory verses on the walls of his house. Someone else might have done it in order to provoke the Hanbalite mob. Presumably, however, the mural poetry was a literary embellishment invented by Hanbalites which crept into the vague reports about the event.283 The fact that historians report another bloody incident about maqaman mahmudan involving followers of the late Abu Bakr al-Marrudhi for the year 317/929284 neither confirms nor invalidates the historicity of the event involving Tabari.

The circumstances surrounding the debate about the “praiseworthy position” deserve some more clarification. In his Musnad, Ibn Hanbal includes no traditions that support the interpretation of the phrase as referring to the Prophet’s being seated on the divine Throne.285 One might argue that the very fact that Ibn Hanbal has nothing to say about the impossibility of Mujahid’s interpretation could indicate that it could not be ruled out, using a type of argument employed by Tabari in his discussion of the matter. This, however, is very unlikely. Ibn Hanbal may have simply disregarded Mujahid’s tradition as irrelevant or objectionable. After all, it had no isnad going back to more ancient authorities or the Prophet, while there were traditions having the Prophet’s seal of approval that referred to intercession. Clearly, this made it necessary to invent an appropriate Prophetical tradition for Muhammad’s place on the divine Throne, AND THIS WAS DONE. Ibn Battah (d. 387/997) listed one such tradition with the isnad Nafi’–’Abdallah b. ‘Umar–the Prophet.286 He is certain not to have invented it himself. When it made its first appearance is hard to say; evidently, Abu Bakr al-Khallal in the early years of the century did not yet know it.

In Tafsir, Tabari has a long and interesting discussion of the “praiseworthy position.”287 It again shows him to be the great compromiser. He admits that intercession is the interpretation that is solidly documented and which therefore has the best claim to being correct. However, he says, the other interpretation cannot entirely be ruled out. As the composition of Tafsir antedates the events described, it might be argued that Tabari interpolated the discussion in Tafsir after publication when Hanbalite hostility took such a truly ugly turn.288 This cannot be proved. It might be assumed that he took at first a conciliatory attitude such as is displayed in Tafsir and renounced it at some later date when he got disgusted with Hanbalite violence. This seems more likely, but again there is no hard evidence for it. Whatever it was, the view expressed in Tafsir did nothing to assuage Hanbalite opposition to him which appears to have had deeper roots than merely disagreement about a catchy slogan.

The arguments marshalled by Tabari for the purpose of making Mujahid’s tradition admissible were derived from speculative theology and show him adept in its ways of thinking and debating. The basic issue, as he sees it, is the problem of contiguity (mumassah). It had its proper place in physics but was transferred to theology by religious thinkers289 Al-Ash’ari (ca 260324/873(41-935(6)), who lived most of his life in al-Basrah and was but a generation removed from Tabari, considered the matter important enough to refer to it in his discussion of anthropomorphism (tajsim). God is not upon the Throne, except in the sense that He is above it but does not touch it. According to Hisham b. al-Hakam, God’s location is in one specific place (fi makan dun makan). His place is the Throne, and He is in touch with it. The Throne encompasses and delimits Him. Another view holds that the Creator fills the Throne and is in touch with it. At this point, al-Ash’ari adds that some hadith scholars hold that the Throne is not filled by Him and that He (is thus able to) SEAT HIS PROPHET WITH HIMSELF ON THE THRONE.290 Tabari considers the problem of God completely filling the Throne. He remarks on His contiguity and finds that only three possibilities apply to it. For him, however, the crucial point that must be made is that God’s seating of Muhammad on the Throne, with or without Himself, does not imply divinity (“lordship” rububiyyah) for the Prophet or deny his status as a human being (“servantship” ‘ubudiyyah). In fact, the implied hint at Muhammadan divinity would appear to be the most objectionable feature of Mujahid’s tradition. In touching upon this aspect, Tabari comes close to the possible reason why Mujahid might have made this seemingly un-Islamic statement. Christianity speaks of the Son not only as sitting on a throne but also of some mysterious being as sitting together with the Father in His Throne (Rev. 3:21). Even in remote Mecca, Mujahid could have heard about these views or seen one of the many representations of the Trinity or the enthroned Christ.291 He may very well have felt that Muhammad should be similarly distinguished as was the prophet of Christianity. (Rosenthal, The History of Al-Tabari, Introduction, pp. 71-77)

276. For Abu Bakr Ahmad b. Muhammad b. al-Haljaj al-Marrudhi, see Ibn Abi Yaia, Tabaqat, I, 56-63; Sam’ani, Ansab, XII, 201 f.; Yaqut, Mu’jam, IV, 506, s. v. Marty al-Rudh. According to Dhahabi, ‘Uluww, 125, 1. 2, he wrote in defense of Mujahid’s tradition (see below, n. 277). Ibn Abi Ya’la, Tabaqat, 6o, states that al-Marrudhi was asked about the Jahmiyyah’s rejection of the “story of the Throne.” This may refer to alleged Mu’tazilah views on the location of the Throne, rather than, specifically, to the tradition of Mujahid.

277. For Abu Bakr al-Khallal, see Sezgin, GAS, I, 511 f. I wish to thank J. van Ess for providing me with a xerox copy of Khallal, Musnad, 75-99.

278. For al-Hasan b. ‘Ali b. Khalaf al-Barbahari, see Sezgin, GAS, 1, 512; Laoust, in Melanges Massignon, III, 22-5. Ibn Abi Ya’la, Tabaqat, II, 18-45, gives a good picture of his generally extremist positions. “Whenever al-Barbahari attended a meeting, he would mention that God seats Muhammad with Himself on the Throne.” In 323/935, he was in hiding and his followers were strictly forbidden to assemble. One of them was accused of having set a disastrous fire in al-Karkh, see Hamadhani, Takmilah, 79 f., ed. Cairo, XI, 294-6. See further Brockelmann, GAL, Suppl. I, 344, and the indexes of Eclipse and Massignon, Passion2, as well as Allard, Attributs, 103 f.

279. The three were Abu ‘Abdallah al-Jassas, Ja’far b. ‘Arafah, and al-Bayadi. The identification of al-Bayadi with Abu ‘Ali Muhammad b. ‘lsa al -Bayadi was proposed by the editor of Irshid, VI, 436, n. 1, but requires confirmation. This individual, whose family claimed ‘Abbasid descent, wrote on Qur’an reading. He was killed by the Qarmatians in 294/906 on his return from the pilgrimage, see TB, II, 401; Sam’ani, Ansab, 384.

On the incident, see also Goldziher, Muslim Studies, II, 158 (II, 168, of the original German). Goldziher’s reference was to Suyuti, Tahdhir, 161, whose source scurrilously attributes this information to a storyteller in the streets of Baghdad. (Ibid., pp. 72-73)

285. Sec Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, 1, 375 f., 398 f., III, 354, for traditions on intercession. For the tradition of Gabriel sitting “on a footstool” or “on the throne,” presumably the divine Throne, between heaven and earth, see Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, III, 306: Ibn Hajar, Fath, X, 305.

286. See Laoust, Profession de foi d’Ibn Batta, text, 61, trans., 112 f., especially note I. In addition to Mujahid, al-Wahidi (d. 468/1075) refers to a tradition of Ibn Masud, see Razi, Tafsir, XXI, 32. He may have the same tradition in mind, mixing up, as it sometimes happens, ‘Abdallah b. Umar and ‘Abdallah b. Masud. A tradition of ‘A’ishah on the subject is discussed in Ibn al-Jawzi, Daf’, 81, hadith no. 39.

287. See Tafsir, XV, 97, 1. 10-100, 1. 22. See the translation below, Appendix A, below, pp. 149-51. For another partial translation, see Andrae, Person, 270-2. For Tabari’s real feelings about Mujahid and his tradition, it may be indicative that he rejects a view expressed by him with unusual harshness in connection with his commentary on the same verse of the Qur’an, see Tafsir, XV, 96, 11. 26-31. (Ibid., p. 75)

291. Not much can be made in this connection of the allegation that Mujahid used material provided by Christians and Jews in his Qur’an commentary. See Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, V, 344, 1. 7, and the remark transmitted through Abu Bakr b. ‘Ayyash (below, translation, n. 72) in Dhahabi, Mizan, III, 439; Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib, X, 43; Sezgin, GAS, 1, 29. As one would expect, Dhahabi refers to Mujahid’s view of makaman mahmudan with disapproval.

On Mujahid and the vibrating of the divine Throne, see Goldziher, Richtungen, 108 f.

A similar but different idea was already expressed in Khallil, Musnad, 82. The Muslims would be the laughing stock of Christians if they denied to Muhammad the honor of sitting on the divine Throne, while granting semidivine status to Jesus. (Ibid., p. 277)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s