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Answering Common Misconceptions

33. Status of our Prophet 

Question:

As-salamu `alaykum.

The question I wanted to ask is pertaining to the importance of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). I have heard that Adam saw Muhammad's name written on Allah's throne, and Allah said that the world was being created for him. I have also heard, in contrast, that Muhammad was just a messenger, and that we should not try to raise him more than that.
 

Answer:

It was the Blessing of Allah and his mercy to human beings, above all other creatures on this earth, to endow them with intellect; and to enlighten them with His divine guidance through a long string of prophets and messengers, starting with Adam:

* Then Adam received (some) Words from his Lord; so He relented towards him; surely He, Ever He, is The Superbly Relenting, The Ever-Merciful. (Meaning of Qur’an 2:37)  

Prophets and Messengers were all normal human beings:

* And in no way did We send before you any of the Emissaries, except that surely they indeed ate food and walked in the markets

(Meaning of Qur’an 25:20)

* And in no way did We send before you except men to whom We revealed (the Message). (Meaning of Qur’an 21:7-8)

* And whomever of them should say, “Surely I am a god apart from Him, then that one We recompense with Hell; thus We recompense the unjust.
(Meaning of Qur’an 21:29)

* Say (O Muhammad), “Surely I am only a mortal the like of you: it is revealed to me that surely your God is only One God. So whoever hopes for the meeting with his Lord, then let him do righteous deed(s) and not associate anyone in the worship of his Lord.

(Meaning of Qur’an 18:110)

Yet, the chosen prophets were endowed with such moral, spiritual and intellectual merits to be trustworthy of delivering Allah's guidance:

* Allah elects of the Angels Messengers and of mankind; (Messengers); surely Allah is Ever-Hearing, Ever-Beholding. (Meaning of Qur’an 22:75)

* Those are they whom Allah has favored among the Prophets of the offspring of Adam, and of the ones We carried with Nuh, and of the offspring of Ibrahim and Israel (Jacob) and of the ones We guided and selected. When the Ayat (Verses or signs) of the All-Merciful were recited to them, they collapsed constantly prostrating and weeping. (Meaning of Qur’an 19:58)

Further, they vary in their esteem and quality:

* Those are the Messengers; We have graced some of them over some others; of them (there are some) to whom Allah spoke, and some He raised in degrees. (Meaning of Qur’an 2:253)

Among them are a more eminent group described as (Arabic) Ulu-l-Azm, i.e. those endowed with resolve:

* So (endure) patiently, as the Messengers endowed with resolve (endured) patiently; … (Meaning of Qur’an 46:35)

These are Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa, Isa and, on top of them comes, Muhammad (peace be upon him), whose Message came to be the Final Word and the Seal of all Divine Messages:

*And We have sent down to you the Book with the Truth, sincerely verifying whatever of the Book that was before it, and Supremely Hegemonic over it. So judge between them according to what Allah has sent down, and do not ever follow their prejudices away from the Truth that has come to you.
(Meaning of Qur’an 5:48)

* He is (The One) Who has sent His Messengers with the guidance and the religion of the Truth, that He (would) make it topmost above all religion; and allah suffices as the Ever-Present Witness. (Meaning of Qur’an 48:28)

* Indeed you have already had a fair example, in the Messenger of Allah, for whoever hopes for Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much. (Meaning of Qur’an 22:21)

* And surely you (O Muhammad) are indeed of a magnificent character. (Meaning of Qur’an 68:4)

* …it may be that your Lord will make you rise again to a praised station. (Meaning of Qur’an 17:79)

He (peace be upon him) truthfully described himself:

- "From among the sons of Adam, Allah chose Quraysh; from among Quraysh, He chose Kinanah, from among Kinanah He chose Bani Hashim, and from Bani Hashim He chose me." [reported by Muslim]

He also said:

- "I will be the chief of all the people on the Day of Resurrection. Do you know the reason for it? … And then Allah will guide me to such praises and glorification to Him as He has never guided anybody else before me. Then it will be said, 'O Muhammad Raise your head. Ask, and it will be granted. Intercede and It (your intercession) will be accepted.' [reported by Al-Bukhari]

Covenant and pledge was taken on previous Messengers, specially Moses and Jesus (and hence on their true followers) that they should believe, follow and support Muhammad in his sealing message:

* And as Allah took compact with the Prophets (that), “Indeed, whatever I bring you of Book and Wisdom, thereafter a Messenger comes to you sincerely verifying what is with you, indeed you shall definitely believe in him, and indeed you shall definitely vindicate him.” He said, “Do you ratify (that)? And do you take My obligation on those (conditions)?” They said, “We have ratified (that).” He said, “Then, bear witness, and I am with you among the witnesses.”(Meaning of Qur’an 2:81-82)

In this respect the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

- "By Allah, if my brother Musa were alive, and witnessed my Prophethood, he would have no choice but to follow me." [reported by Ad-Darimi]

Yet, Muslims have to believe and pay due respect to all prophets and messengers:

*The Messenger has believed in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and the believers (believe). Everyone (of them) has believed in Allah, and his Angels and His Books, and His Messengers. We make no distinction between any of His Messengers. And they have said, “We have heard, and we have obeyed. Grant (us) Your All-Supreme forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the Destiny. (Meaning of Qur’an 2:285)

* And the ones who have believed in Allah and His Messengers and have made no distinction between any of them, those He will eventually bring them their rewards, and Allah has been Ever-Forgiving, Ever-Merciful. (Meaning of Qur’an 4:152)

- Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said,"Do not give me superiority over the other prophets. [reported by Al-Bukhari]

Faithful Muslims should, and wholeheartedly do, love and regard him with high esteem:

* The ones who closely follow the Messenger, the Prophet, the Illiterate one, whom they find written down in their presence in the Tawrah (Torah) and the Injil (Gospel) … So the ones who believe in him, and rally to him (in assistance) and vindicate him, and closely follow the light that has been sent down with him, those are they (who) are the prosperous (Meaning of Qur’an 7:157)

- The Prophet said "None of you will have faith till he loves me more than his father, his children and all mankind." [reported by Al-Bukhari]

Yet, he severely warned Muslims of exaggeration in praising or respecting him:

- "Do not exaggerate in praising me as the Christians praised the son of Maryam, for I am only a servant. So, call me the Servant of Allah and His Messenger." [reported by Al-Bukhari]

Exaggerating the character or status of prophets and messengers has repeatedly led to all sorts of deviations from truth; such deviations that inflicted all messages prior to Islam.  Deviations took several forms, from deifying human beings, to associating them with Allah, as sons or as parts of a trinity or a holy family, to taking statues, pictures or different sorts of icons, crosses … etc as idols to glorify, supplicate or take the blessing from.

A touch of this tendency to exaggerate the prophet and his family infiltrated the minds and hearts of some Muslim individuals and groups, either as a remnant of their previous polytheist beliefs, as a result of ignorance and influence of imitation of non-Muslims, or intentionally by those hypocrites who pretend(ed) to be Muslims with the aim of distorting Islam from within. To this effect, they invented Hadiths (sayings) referred to the Prophet (peace be upon him), that were propagated by deviant sects, as well as by some of the ignorant masses. However, Muslim scholars has early scrutinized the validity of the texts as well as the integrity of Hadith narrators. Further, they laid unmatchedly strict rules to be applied before accepting any Hadith narration.

In this context, the story you referred to in your question, i.e. 'that Adam saw Muhammad's name written on Allah's throne … etc,' has been unequivocally disproved as "forged" or "weak" by scholars of Hadith, such as Ibn Taymiyah, Adh-Dhahaby, Al-`Asqalany, and Al-Albany. The story was narrated through `Abdur-Rahman ibn Zayd ibn Aslam, who was considered untrustworthy by scholars including Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Abu-Zar`ah, Ibn Hibban, An-Nasa'y, Ad-Daraqatny and others.

Useful Links:

Was Prophet Muhammad Created from Light?

Superiority of the Prophet Muhammad

Showing Respect to Prophet Muhammad

Do Muslims Exaggerate in Praising Prophet Muhammad

Do Prophets Sin?

Prophet Muahammad: An Exalted Example of Character

Muhammad: the Man and the Message