Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Does the Quran really enjoin fearing Allah alone?

Sam Shamoun

The Quran repeatedly commands Muslims to fear Allah:

And believe in what I reveal, confirming the revelation which is with you, and be not the first to reject Faith therein, nor sell My Signs for a small price; and fear Me (fa ittaqooni). S. 2:41

For Hajj are the months well known. If any one undertakes that duty therein, Let there be no obscenity, nor wickedness, nor wrangling in the Hajj. And whatever good ye do, (be sure) Allah knoweth it. And take a provision (With you) for the journey, but the best of provisions is right conduct. So fear Me (al-taqwa wa ittaqooni), o ye that are wise. S. 2:197

O ye who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared (ittaqoo Allaha haqqa tuqatihi), and die not except in a state of Islam. S. 3:102 Y. Ali

However, there is one particular verse which commands Muslim to fear both Allah and the wombs together:

Mankind, fear your Lord (ittaqoo rabbakumu), who created you of a single soul, and from it created its mate, and from the pair of them scattered abroad many men and women; and fear God (wa ittaqoo Allaha) by whom you demand one of another, AND the wombs (WA al-arhama); surely God ever watches over you. S. 4:1 Arberry

Here is how some of the various English versions translate this passage:

"… reverence Allah through Whom ye demand your mutual (rights) and (reverence) the wombs (that bore you)…" Y. Ali

"… Fear Allah, by whom you ask one another, and (fear) the wombs (lest you sever its relationship)…" Hasan Qaribullah

"… So fear Allah by Whom you demand (your rights) and fear (breaking) kinship of wombs…" Al Quran: Word for Word Translation (Arabic and English)

"… And fear ye God, in whose name ye ask mutual favours, – and reverence the wombs that bare you…" J. M. Rodwell

According to the expositors the meaning of this reference is that Muslims must keep good ties with relationships established by the womb, i.e. birth:

O people, of Mecca, fear your Lord, that is, His punishment by being obedient to Him, Who created you of a single soul, Adam, and from it created its mate, Eve (Hawwā’), from one of his left ribs, and from the pair of them, Adam and Eve, scattered, separated and spread, many men and, many, women; and fear God by whom you claim [your rights] from one another (tassā’alūna: the original ’ [of tatasā’alūna] has been assimilated with the sīn; a variant reading has tasā’alūna), so that one of you says to the other, ‘I ask you, by God…’, or ‘For God’s sake…’; and, fear, kinship ties, lest you sever them (a variant reading [of wa’l-arhāma, ‘and kinship ties’] is wa’l-arhāmi, as a supplement to the pronoun contained in bihi [sc. God]). They used to implore one another by ties of kinship. Surely God has been watchful over you, heedful of your deeds, for which He will requite you, that is to say, He is ever possessed of such an attribute. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; bold and underline emphasis ours)


<And have Taqwa of Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights) and revere the wombs>, protect yourself from Allah by your acts of obedience to Him. Allah's statement…

<through Whom you demand your mutual (rights)>, is in reference to when some people say, "I ask you by Allah, and then by the relation of the Rahim (the womb, i.e. my relationship to you)", according to Ibrahim, Mujahid and Al-Hasan. Ad-Dahhak said; "Fear Allah Whom you invoke when you conduct transactions and contracts." "And revere the womb by not cutting the relations of the womb, but keep and honor them, as Ibn `Abbas, `Ikrimah, Mujahid, Al-Hasan, Ad-Dahhak, Ar-Rabi`, and others have stated… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir; bold and underline emphasis ours)

The passage raises specific problems for the Muslim claim that Islam teaches absolute pure and strict monotheism. The first problem that Muslims face is that Allah conjoins the fear of his own person, the reverence which must be shown to him, with the fear rendered towards the wombs, i.e. relations. Allah does so by using the Arabic conjunction wa ("and") which even Muslim expositors and scholars admit is the conjunction of partnership and equality. This is why they expressly forbid using this conjunction when speaking of Allah and anyone else in the same sentence, with the exception of the shahada where Muhammad is associated with Allah:

The fact that mention of the Prophet is directly connected to mention of Allah also shows that obedience to the Prophet is connected to obedience to Allah and his name to Allah's name. Allah says, "Obey Allah and His Messenger" (2:32) and "Believe in Allah and His Messenger." (4:136) Allah joins them together using the conjunction wa WHICH IS THE CONJUNCTION OF PARTNERSHIP. IT IS NOT PERMITTED TO USE THIS CONJUNCTION IN CONNECTION WITH ALLAH IN THE CASE OF ANYONE EXCEPT THE PROPHET.

Hudhayfa said that the Prophet said, "None of you should say, ‘What Allah wills and (wa) so-and-so wills.’ Rather say, ‘What Allah wills.’ Then stop and say, ‘So-and-so wills.’"

Al-Khattabi said, "The Prophet has guided you to correct behaviour in putting the will of Allah before the will of others. He chose ‘THEN’ (thumma) which implies sequence and deference as opposed to ‘AND’ (wa) WHICH IMPLIES PARTNERSHIP."

Something similar is mentioned in another hadith. Someone was speaking in the presence of the Prophet and said, "Whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger has been rightly guided, and whoever rebels against them both (joining them together by using the dual form) …" The Prophet said to him, "What a bad speaker you are! Get up! [Or he said: Get out!]"

Abu Sulayman said, "He disliked the two names being joined together in that way because it implies equality." … (Qadi Iyad, Kitab Ash-shifa bi ta'rif huquq al-Mustafa (Healing by the recognition of the Rights of the Chosen One), translated by Aisha Abdarrahman Bewley [Madinah Press, Inverness, Scotland, U.K., third reprint 1991, paperback], Part One. Allah’s great estimation of the worth of His Prophet expressed both in word and action, Chapter One: Allah’s praise of him and his great esteem for him, Section 1. Concerning praise of him and his numerous excellent qualities, pp. 7-8; capital and underline emphasis ours)

The late Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab himself, the man who was mainly responsible for the resurgence and revival of the modern Salafi cult (considered a deviant sect by many Muslim scholars because of its blatant distortions of early Islamic teachings), exhorted his followers to avoid using wa when referring to Allah together with someone or something else. In his book on monotheism he stated that a Muslim should rather use the conjunction thumma ("then") or some other formulation which avoids associating Allah with anything:

A Jewish man came to the Prophet and said: "Verily, you (Muslims) commit Shirk, for you say: ‘As Allah wills AND as you will;’ and you say: ‘By the Ka’bah!’" And so the Prophet ordered whoever wanted to swear, to say: "By the Lord of the Ka’bah" and to say: "As Allah wills, THEN as you will." (An-Nasaa’ee, it was declared saheeh by Albanee in as Saheehah # 137 and declared saheeh by Adh-Dhahabee in his checking of Al Mustadrak and declared saheeh by Ibn Hajar in Al Isaabah 4/389)

A man came to the Prophet and he said: "As Allah AND you will," at which the Prophet said: "Would you set me up as a partner besides Allah? As Allah Alone Wills" (An-Nasaa’ee, declared authentic (hasan) by Albanee in as Saheehah # 139)

On the authority of At-Tufail the half brother of Aishah it is reported that he said: "I saw in a dream that I came upon a number of Jews and I said to them: ‘You are indeed a good people were it not that you claim ‘Uzair is the son of Allah.’ They replied: ‘You too are good, were it not that you say: As Allah wills AND as Muhammad wills.’ Then, I came upon a number of Christians and I said to them: ‘You are indeed a good people were it not that you claim the Messiah (Jesus) is the son of Allah.’ They replied: ‘You are also good, were it not that you say: As Allah wills AND as Muhammad wills.’ When I awoke I told someone about this then I went to the Prophet and repeated it to him. He asked me: ‘Have you told anyone about this?’ I said: ‘Yes.’ Then he went to the pulpit and, after praising Allah, he said: ‘At-Tufail had a dream which he has already communicated to some of you. You used to say something which I was prevented from forbidding to you until now. Henceforth do not say: As Allah wills AND as Muhammad wills, but say: What Allah Alone Wills.’" (Ibn Maajah, Albanee mentioned it in as Saheehah # 138, Al Haythamee said in Majma Az-Zawaaid: the men in its chain are reliable according to the conditions of Imam Muslim) (Takhreej of Kitaab at Tawheed, posted by 2004, Chapter 43: Saying: "As Allah Wills and You Will", pp. 21-22; See also Kitab At-Tawheed, by Sheikh ul-Islam Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab, translated by the Compilation and Research Department Dar-us-Salam [Dar-us-Salam Publications Riyadh-Saudi Arabia, 1996], Chapter No: 44. How it is to say "What Allah may will and you may will"; capital, italic and underline emphasis ours)

This means that Muslims are being commanded to revere their relatives just as they fear Allah, which is a clear act of shirk or of associating partners with Allah in his exclusive worship!

The second problem that Muslims must contend with is that Muhammad believed that a primal womb exists, one that is a conscious living entity!

Narrated Abu Huraira:

The Prophet said, "Allah created the creations, and when He finished from His creations, Ar-Rahm, i.e., WOMB, SAID, ‘(O Allah) at this place I seek refuge with You from all those who sever me (i.e. sever the ties of Kith and kin).’ Allah said, ‘Yes, won’t you be pleased that I will keep good relations with the one who will keep good relations with you, and I will sever the relation with the one who will sever the relations with you?’ IT SAID, ‘Yes, O my Lord.’ Allah said, ‘Then that is for you.’" Allah's Apostle added. "Read (in the Qur'an) if you wish, the Statement of Allah: ‘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 8, Book 73, Number 16)


Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah's Apostle said, "Allah created the creation, and when He finished from His creation the Rahm (womb) GOT UP, and Allah said (to it): ‘Stop! What do you want?’ IT SAID: ‘At this place I seek refuge with You from all those who sever me (i.e. sever the ties of Kinship.)’ Allah said: ‘Would you be pleased that I will keep good relation with the one who will keep good relation with you, and I will sever the relation with the one who will sever the relation with you?’ IT SAID: ‘Yes, ‘O my Lord.’ Allah said (to it), ‘That is for you.’" And then Abu Huraira recited the Verse:-- "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 9, Book 93, Number 593)

Ibn Kathir cites a particular narration which states that this specific womb actually clutched Allah’s lower garment!

<spread corruption on earth, and sever your ties of kinship> ...

<Such are the ones whom Allah has cursed, so He has made them deaf and blinded their vision.> This involves a general prohibition of spreading corruption on earth, and a specific prohibition of severing the ties of kinship. In fact, Allah has commanded the people to establish righteousness on earth, as well as to join the ties of kinship by treating the relatives well in speech, actions, and spending wealth in charity. Many authentic and sound Hadiths have been reported through numerous routes of transmission from Allah's Messenger in this regard. Al-Bukhari recorded from Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, 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!’">> Abu Hurayrah then added, "Read if you wish...

<So would you perhaps, if you turned away, spread corruption on earth, and sever your ties of kinship> Then Al-Bukhari recorded it with another wording which states that the Messenger of Allah said...

<<Read if you wish: (So would you perhaps, if you turned away, spread corruption on earth, and sever your ties of kinship)>> Muslim also recorded it. Imam Ahmad recorded from Abu Bakrah, that Allah's Messenger said...

<<No sin deserves that Allah hasten its punishment in the worldly life, in addition to what He reserves in the Hereafter for those who commit it, more than injustice and severance of the ties of kinship.>> This was also recorded by Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, and Ibn Majah. At-Tirmidhi said, "This Hadith is Sahih.'' Imam Ahmad recorded from Thawban that Allah's Messenger said...

<<Whoever likes for his life to be extended, and his provision increased, let him connect his ties of kinship.>> Ahmad was alone in recording this narration, but it has a supporting narration in the Sahih. Imam Ahmad recorded from `Abdullah bin `Amr that Allah's Messenger said...

<<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, may Allah be pleased with him, 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.>> .Imam Ahmad recorded from `Abdullah bin `Amr, may Allah be pleased with him, that Allah's Messenger said...

<<The merciful ones will be granted mercy from the Most Merciful. Have mercy on those on earth -- the One above the heavens will then have mercy on you. And Ar-Rahim (the womb) is from Ar-Rahman, so whoever joins it, it joins him; and whoever severs it, it severs him.>> Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi both recorded this Hadith and it has been reported with continuous chains of transmission. At-Tirmidhi said, "Hasan Sahih." There are numerous other Hadiths in this regard. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 47:22; bold, capital, and underline emphasis ours)

According to this commentary the womb stood up to clutch Allah’s garment, which means that the womb must have had an arm; otherwise how could it clutch anything? It further shows that Allah is either a physical being by nature since he wears a garment, or that he assumes a tangible form of some kind. To top it off, this womb is attached to Allah’s throne!

The reader may be assuming at this point that these statements concerning the womb are parabolic/allegorical in nature which Muhammad used to illustrate the high priority of kin relationships and honoring the mother(s). These narratives are not actually teaching that there literally is an ancient womb attached to the throne.

The problem with taking this position is that it ignores what Islamic scholars have taught concerning such matters. For instance the translator of Sahih al-Bukhari, Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, has this interesting footnote to the hadith of the sun prostrating before Allah’s throne:

The procedure of the sun mentioned in this Hadith and similar other things mentioned in the Qur’an like the prostration of the trees, herbs and stars (V. 55:6) are beyond our limited knowledge of this universe. It is interpreted that these are mentioned so because of the limited understanding of the people at that time about matters of the universe. (Bold emphasis ours)

In fact, there are other narrations that specifically teach that inanimate objects actually have intellect, emotions, can speak etc.

It was narrated by Muhammad Ibn Tarif, narrated by Muhammad Ibn Fadil, narrated by Abu Hayan, narrated by Atta, narrated by Ibn Umar who said, "We were with the prophet – may Allah’s prayer and peace be upon him – on a journey when we were approached by a Bedouin.

When the prophet saw him he said to him, ‘To where are you heading?’ The Bedouin said, ‘To my family.’ The prophet asked, ‘Do you wish to have a good thing?’ The Bedouin asked, ‘What would that be?’ The prophet replied, ‘To bear witness that there is no god but Allah alone, who has no partners and that Muhammad is His servant and messenger.’

The Bedouin asked, ‘And who will testify to what you say?’ The prophet answered, ‘This tree will.’ So the prophet called to the tree that was in a valley by the seashore and it came to him, crawling on the ground until it stood up right between his hands. So the prophet made the tree say the Shahada three times and then it returned to where it was planted before.

The Bedouin then returned to his people and said, ‘If they follow me I will bring them (to Muhammad) otherwise I will return to him myself." (Sunan Al-Darimi, written by Ibn Kathir, Hadith number 16, Section One: The Introduction, Entry title: "What Allah has graced His prophet with that which causes trees, animals and Jinn to believe in him,"; translated by Dimitrius)

Here is a tree which actually recited the shahada, the Muslim confession of faith, which presupposes that it has a voice box! And:

Narrated Abdullah bin Umar:
I heard Allah's Apostle saying, "The Jews will fight with you, and you will be given victory over them so that a stone will say, ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew behind me; kill him!’" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 791; see also Book 52, Number 177)

Narrated AbuHurayrah:
Allah's Apostle said: The Last Hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews. (Sahih Muslim, Book 041, Number 6985)

Not only do impersonal objects like trees and stones, they can also cry and prostrate as well!

Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah:
The Prophet used to stand by a stem of a date-palm tree (while delivering a sermon). When the pulpit was placed for him we heard that stem crying like a pregnant she-camel till the Prophet got down from the pulpit and placed his hand over it. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 13, Number 41)

Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah:
The Prophet used to stand by a tree or a date-palm on Friday. Then an Ansari woman or man said. "O Allah's Apostle! Shall we make a pulpit for you?" He replied, "If you wish." So they made a pulpit for him and when it was Friday, he proceeded towards the pulpit (for delivering the sermon). The date-palm cried like a child! The Prophet descended (the pulpit) and embraced it while it continued moaning like a child being quietened. The Prophet said, "It was crying for (missing) what it used to hear of religious knowledge given near to it." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 784)

Narrated Abdullah ibn Mas'ud
The Prophet said: On the night of my Ascent (Mi'raj) I met Abraham and he said to me: Muhammad, convey my salam to your people and tell them that Paradise is a vast plain of pure soil and sweet water and that its TREES CRY: Holy is Allah, all praise is due to Allah, there is none worthy of worship save Allah, and Allah is Great. Transmitted by Tirmidhi. (Hadith of al-Tirmidhi, Number 439– ALIM CD-ROM Version)

Narrated Aisha
Once when Allah's Messenger was with a number of the Emigrants and Helpers a camel came and prostrated itself before him. Thereupon his companions said, "Messenger of Allah beasts and TREES prostrate themselves before you, but we have the greatest right to do so." He replied, "Worship your Lord and honour your brother. If I were to order anyone to prostrate himself before another, I should order a woman to prostrate herself before her husband. If he were to order her to convey stones from a yellow mountain to a black one, or from a black mountain to a white one, it would be incumbent on her to do so." Ahmad transmitted it. (Hadith of al-Tirmidhi, Number 963– ALIM CD-ROM Version)

AbuTalib went to ash-Sham (Syria) accompanied by the Prophet along with some shaykhs of Quraysh. When they came near where the monk was they alighted and loosened their baggage, and the monk came out to them although when they had passed that way previously he had not done so. While they were loosening their baggage the monk began to go about among them till he came and, taking Allah's Messenger by the hand, said, "This is the chief of the universe; this is the messenger of the Lord of the universe whom Allah is commissioning as a mercy to the universe." Some shaykhs of Quraysh asked him how he knew, and he replied, "When you came over the hill not a tree or a stone failed to bow in prostration, and they prostrate themselves only before a prophet. I recognize him by the seal of prophecy, like an apple, below the end of his shoulder-blade." He then went and prepared food for them, and when he brought it to them the Prophet was looking after the camels, so he told them to send for him. He came with a cloud above him shading him and when he approached the people he found they had gone before him into the shade of a tree. Then when he sat down the shade of the tree inclined over him, and the monk said, "Look how the shade of the tree has inclined over him. I adjure you by Allah to tell me which of you is his guardian." On being told that it was AbuTalib he kept adjuring him to send him back until he did so. AbuBakr sent Bilal along with him and the monk gave him provisions of a bread and olive-oil. Tirmidhi transmitted it. (Hadith of al-Tirmidhi, Number 1534– ALIM CD-ROM Version)

And it was a tree also relayed information concerning the unseen to Muhammad!

Narrated 'Abdur-Rahman:
"I asked Masruq, ‘Who informed the Prophet about the Jinns at the night when they heard the Qur'an?’ He said, ‘Your father 'Abdullah informed me that a tree informed the Prophet about them.’" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 199)

Even food can speak and glorify Allah before it is consumed!

Narrated 'Abdullah:
We used to consider miracles as Allah's Blessings, but you people consider them to be a warning. Once we were with Allah's Apostle on a journey, and we ran short of water. He said, "Bring the water remaining with you." The people brought a utensil containing a little water. He placed his hand in it and said, "Come to the blessed water, and the Blessing is from Allah." I saw the water flowing from among the fingers of Allah's Apostle, and no doubt, WE HEARD THE MEAL GLORIFYING ALLAH, WHEN IT WAS BEING EATEN (by him). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 779)

It is therefore not surprising that Ibn Kathir could say in reference to Q. 2:74 that:

Solid Inanimate Objects possess a certain Degree of Awareness

Some claimed that the Ayat mentioned the stones being humble as a metaphor. However, Ar-Razi, Al-Qurtubi and other Imams said that there is no need for this explanation, because Allah creates this characteristic - humbleness - in stones. For instance, Allah said…

<Truly, We did offer Al-Amanah (the trust) to the heavens and the earth, and the mountains, but they declined to bear it and were afraid of it (i.e. afraid of Allah's torment)> (33:72) ...

<The seven heavens and the earth and all that is therein, glorify Him> (17:44) …

<And the stars and the trees both prostrate themselves (to Allah)> (55:6) ...

<Have they not observed things that Allah has created: (how) their shadows incline> (16:48) …

<They both said: "We come willingly."> (41:11) ...

<Had We sent down this Qur'an on a mountain> (59:21), and, ...

<And they will say to their skins, "Why do you testify against us"' They will say: "Allah has caused us to speak."> (41:21).

It is recorded in the Sahih that the Prophet said, …

<<This (Mount Uhud) is a mount that loves us and that we love.>>

Similarly, the compassion of the stump of the palm tree for the Prophet as confirmed in authentic narrations. In Sahih Muslim it is recorded that the Prophet said, ...

<<I know a stone in Makkah that used to greet me with the Salam before I was sent. I recognize this stone now.>>

He said about the Black Stone that, …

<<On the Day of Resurrection it will testify for those who kiss it.>>

There are several other texts with this meaning… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged), Parts 1and 2 (Surat Al-Fatihah to Verse 252 of Surat Al-Baqarah), First Edition: January 2000, Volume 1, pp. 264-265)

The comments of one Islam's greatest scholars and expositors makes it obvious that the author(s) of the Quran, especially Muhammad, along with some of Islam's earliest and greatest scholars, erroneously believed that inanimate objects such as trees, stars, sun etc., were rational beings with emotions and intellect. These traditions and comments conclusively demonstrate that Muhammad wasn’t merely personifying an impersonal object but erroneously thought that a womb, along with a whole host of other inanimate things, actually possessed conscious intelligence!

With that said, whether one accepts these narratives which teach that inanimate objects possess consciousness and personhood or not, Muslims must once again face the fact that their Islamic sources are promoting shirk. It is evident from the reports we referenced that Muhammad believed the reason why Allah commanded Muslims to fear both the wombs and himself is because of the oath he made to a primeval or original womb. This means that not only are Muslims fearing countless number of relatives along with Allah, they are also required to revere this ancient womb, regardless of whether one believes that Muhammad actually thought that this womb was a living conscious entity attached to Allah’s throne!

To summarize what we learned so far, both the Quran and specific Islamic sources teach that,

  • Muslims must fear both Allah and the wombs, meaning that they must keep good ties with their relatives.
  • Allah conjoined this fearing of the wombs and himself by using the conjunction wa ("and"), which according to Muslim scholars themselves is the conjunction which implies equality and partnership.
  • According to Muhammad, there is an ancient living conscious womb that speaks with and clutches onto Allah, one that is attached to the throne. It is because of this specific womb that Allah enjoined his followers to fear the wombs by keeping good relations with family and kin.

It is clear from all of this that Islam is far from being a true monotheistic religion since its sources command Muslims to worship and fear others besides Allah, such as an ancient womb that Muhammad thought was alive and could speak!

Related Articles