Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab, the founding father of Wahhabism, writes the following in establishing a key doctrinal argument of his innovated religion:
If he then says, “I do not worship anything but Allaah, and this recourse (iltijaa’) to the righteous, and calling upon them is not worship”. Then say to him, “[Do] you affirm that Allaah has obligated upon you to make your worship (ibaadah) sincerely and purely for Him alone, and that this is His right upon you?” If he says, “Yes”, then say to him, “Then explain to me what exactly is [the reality of] this thing that Allaah made obligatory upon you – which is making worship sincerely and purely for Allaah alone – and which is His right upon you?” For verily, he does not know what is the reality of worship and nor its various types.
So explain it to him by His saying, “Invoke your Lord with humility and in secret.” (Al- A’raf 7:55). And when you have informed him of this then say to him, “Do you know that this (supplication, du’a) is worship of Allaah?”. Then there is no doubt that he will say, “Yes, supplication (du’a) is the essence of worship.” Then say to him, “If you affirmed that it is worship of Allaah, and then you called upon Allaah day and night, out of both fear and hope, then in one instance, in a time of need, you called upon a Prophet or other than him (from the righteous or pious friends of Allaah), then have you associated others in the worship of Allaah (that is committed Shirk)?”. He has no option but to say “Yes”.
[Ref: Kashf ush-Shubuhaat]
This argument that is made can be re-formulated as :
- Premise 1) Only Allah is to be worshiped.
- Premise 2) Calling upon Allah is an act of worship.
- Premise 3) Therefore, calling upon other than Allah is to worship other than Allah.
- Conclusion: It is shirk to call upon other than Allah.
A swift refutation of doubts raised by the heretical innovator
From this argument of his, the first premise is clearly agreed upon as valid and not a subject of contention.
The second premise is where the problem starts to creep in. This is because, the premise is a general statement and not detailed and specific. The premise does not address the nature of the calling nor does it explain the belief regarding “Allah”.
Another problem of this second premise is its fallacious method of deriving its formulation. Instead of defining the essential meaning of “worship“, he instead addresses a particular form of worship. There are numerous forms of worship in Islam and is not restricted to “call“. What then is it that is common and unites all of these forms of worship to be categorized as “worship” ? That would be the essential definition of worship. But here instead he addresses a specific form and falsely extracts the form without its essence, to define it as worship. In short, the innovator falsely conflates a form of worship as the essential meaning of worship.
The error in the second premise is then carried onto the third premise, whereby this unspecified expression is universalized into “other than Allah”. If on the contrary the second premise would have been formulated in a specified and detailed form then, the third premise of his would not have followed except when the “other than Allah” of the third premise carries this same specific details or conditions of the second premise. That is, calling upon other than Allah would be worship only if it carried the same details and conditions upon which Allah was called.
And here ends the swift and total dissection and refutation, of this creedal trash of discovery of Muhammed bin Abdul Wahhab, and those of his flamboyant followers perpetuating its survival.
Every call is not an act of worship
Now that the general refutation of it is done with, I move onto the specifics. A dark cloud of doubt have been cast onto this issue by these innovators from Najd and therefore requires some addressing and clarifying for those yearning for clarity. God Willing!
The first issue is a simple one. When they say “call is an act of worship” then the logical question that next arises would be, Is every call an act of worship ? There are numerous verses all throughout the Qur’an to prove that every call is NOT worship, but, sufficient it is to relate here just one verse:
Quran [24:63] [Sahih International Translation]
Do not make [your] calling of the Messenger among yourselves as the call of one of you to another. Already Allah knows those of you who slip away, concealed by others. So let those beware who dissent from the Prophet’s order, lest fitnah strike them or a painful punishment.
أَفْضَلُ الدُّعَاءِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ“…..the best supplication is: Al-Hamdulillāh.”
Calling upon the dead is not an act of worship
Proof No.1: Allah, the Lord of the heavens and the earth, calls the dead:
[Qur’an 30:20][Sahih International Translation]
And of His signs is that the heaven and earth remain by His command. Then when He calls you with a [single] call from the earth, immediately you will come forth.
Proof No.2: Prophet Muhammed, the Seal of Prophets, calls the dead:
[Qur’an 30:52][Sahih International Translation]
So indeed, you will not make the dead hear, nor will you make the deaf hear the call when they turn their backs, retreating.[Qur’an 30:52][Sahih International Translation]
And you cannot guide the blind away from their error. You will only make hear those who believe in Our verses so they are Muslims [in submission to Allah ].
Here, the Prophet(peace be upon him) is told that he cannot make the dead and the deaf to hear, implying that the Prophet(saws) believed as such and did call unto them who are described as “dead”, prior to this verse being revealed. Yet Allah(SWT) did not accuse the Prophet with shirk or worshiping the dead or even doing an act that was supposedly forbidden. (1)
Proof No.3: Prophet Ibrahim, the friend of Allah, calls the dead
[Qur’an 30:52][Sahih International Translation]
And [mention] when Abraham said, “My Lord, show me how You give life to the dead.” [ Allah ] said, “Have you not believed?” He said, “Yes, but [I ask] only that my heart may be satisfied.” [ Allah ] said, “Take four birds and commit them to yourself. Then [after slaughtering them] put on each hill a portion of them; then call them – they will come [flying] to you in haste. And know that Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.”
Differentiating the act of calling from the act of seeking help
Another group of Wahhabis, in attempt to defend their innovated religion, argue that, they do not mean every call is worship but instead only the call for seeking help is worship.
To refute this argument, begin by noticing that this “call for seeking help” is a combination of two parts. One part is to “seek help” and the other is to “call“. Both of them do not necessitate the other. A person could call/invoke without intending to seek help and similarly a person could seek help without invoking. They are separate acts and not necessarily dependent.
So the argument they are making, could be either of the following:
- Seeking help and invoke are two individual and separate acts/units of worship in and of itself. Performing one of the act is sufficient to constitute worship.
- Seeking help and invoke are not acts of worship except when combined together. That is, “invoke” is not worship except when “help is sought” by it, and “seeking help” is not worship except when combined with an “invocation” to seek help.
Answering the argument “a call for seeking help is worship“
Both these cases are refuted with ease.
Response to Case 1:
- If we take the first case scenario, then, invoking/calling an object would by itself be an act of worship. We have already proven this as false above and requires no repetition [See, Quran 24:63, 40:41, 71:5-6 and others]. But this case also implies that even seeking help, by itself (i.e., without any invoking), from an object, would be an act of worship. This absurd argument makes shirk out of the fitra of humans. For there is no human who does not seek help of created objects. Creatures are born into this world crying for their mothers milk. And so are creatures born into world this world with limbs and organs attached to their bodies, which they seek for their needs all throughout their life span, even to perform an act of worship. If seeking help of an object besides Allah, is shirk, then all of this is being categorized as shirk. Therefore, the absurd argument requires no more attention. It is established by proof of fitra that neither seeking help nor invoking, an object besides Allah, of itself constitutes an act of worship or shirk or even forbidden.
Response to Case 2:
- The second case is a combination of the two acts present in the first case. And hence, the problem follows, how could two acts which are not shirk by itself constitute shirk when combined? From where or through which act, did the act of shirk enter this combination of acts when those two acts individually did not have shirk in it ? The falsity of the first case leads to the proof falsifying the second case.
A Wahhabi could argue alternatively, by saying that, they are merely following the literal meaning of the Quran and prophetic narrations and do not subject it to reasoning. But this argument does not hold because neither the Quranic verse nor prophetic narrations anywhere literally say that calling is shirk only when someone calls for seeking help in particular. This condition was their personal introduction not present in the literal of the Qur’an, and they introduced it in order to explain away the absurdities of their own interpretation.
But, if they say that such a condition is implied even though not present literally, then it is responded to by saying that, they have themselves now added to the verse more than its literal meaning. They have now opened the door for conditions being obviously implied in these Quranic verses, even though they may not be present in the literal reading of it. And so we say, we have still proven their individual conditions to be wrong. Neither calling by itself nor seeking help by itself can be considered as acts, which necessitate worship, due to the numerous unequivocal proofs against it, like the ones mentioned above. And therefore it opens the way to interpret these verses, understanding that, calling is considered an act of worship due to some other additional conditions being present in that calling, that is implied in these verses even though not literally present.
What then is the condition that makes calling an act of worship ? The answer to this can be understood from what follows.
Polytheists invoke an Ilah besides Allah
- “And We did not wrong them, but they wronged themselves. And they were not availed at all by their gods(aliha) which they invoked other than Allah when there came the command of your Lord. And they did not increase them in other than ruin.” [Quran 11:101]
- “And We made firm their hearts when they stood up and said, “Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth. Never will we invoke besides Him any deity(ilaah). We would have certainly spoken, then, an excessive transgression.” [Quran 18:14]
- “And whoever invokes besides Allah another deity(ilah) for which he has no proof – then his account is only with his Lord. Indeed, the disbelievers will not succeed.” [Quran 23:117]
- “And those who do not invoke with Allah another deity(ilah) or kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed], except by right, and do not commit unlawful sexual intercourse. And whoever should do that will meet a penalty.” [Quran 25:68]
- “Is He [not best] who responds to the desperate one when he calls upon Him and removes evil and makes you inheritors of the earth? Is there a deity(ilah) with Allah ? Little do you remember.” [Quran 27:62]
- “And do not invoke with Allah another deity(ilah). There is no deity except Him. Everything will be destroyed except His Face. His is the judgement, and to Him you will be returned.” [Quran 28:88]
All of these verses from the Qur’an prove without any shadow of doubt that the polytheists invoked an ilah besides Allah. This is the condition and context upon which Allah(SWT) addresses the polytheist and prohibited them from their acts. To invoke an ilah besides Allah is what made their acts constitute an act of worship.
On the meaning of Ilah
Yet, as some of the readers may have already been confronted with, the Wahhabis will try to explain away these clear proofs established against them by explaining away the meaning of “ilah“. They will say “ilah” is an object that is worshiped, and since according to them, invoke is an act of worship, therefore ilah becomes interpreted as – “an object that is invoked”.
To this we respond, it is agreed that an ilah is an object that is worshiped. But the meaning of worship you give is false and newly innovated. This innovation of yours is directly falsified by the very same verses of the Qur’an. This is so because, if ilah means as they say, that it is an “an object that is invoked” then, the above verses of Qur’an would have to be re-interpreted as: “do not invoke with Allah another *object that is invoked (ilah)*“.
This interpretation would be a fallacy and a distortion of the Qur’an. Firstly because, it makes the Quranic verse a repetitive statement. The first part “Those who invoke” in itself implies that an object is invoked. To add upon that first statement again a word meaning “an object that is invoked” is to affirm the same statement twice. (2)
Secondly, such an interpretation implies that the act should be committed in prior to the act. That is, the object should be, an object that is invoked, before it is invoked. If the object was not invoked in prior, then it would not be an ilah yet, and the one who invoked such an object is therefore not invoking an object that is ilah. Hence, this interpretation is absurd because an act cannot be committed before the occurrence of the act.
Thirdly, such an interpretation defines the object with the act of the subject. The object ilah is being identified with the act of the subject “invoke“. This renders the verse meaningless because, in this verse the subject is prohibited from performing a particular act to a particular object. But when the object is defined by the act of the subject then the identity of the particular object is no longer known. An example of this is when someone says: “Do not drink the water” but when asked to define “water“, the person then defines water as “an object that is drunk“.
In short, in all of these numerous verses of the Qur’an, Allah mentioned the act of invoke separately from the the word “ilah”, proving that they have distinct meanings. Hence, calling an object, does not in and of itself make the object, an ilah or an object that is worshiped.
Polytheists invoke partners to Allah
From what has preceded, it was proven that the polytheists were prohibited in specific from calling an ilah besides Allah. We also proved that merely calling an object does not render the object an ilah. What then remains is to understand the positive meaning of ilah.
Ilah was no doubt classically defined by many as, an object that is worshiped. But defining it in this way supposes prior knowledge of the meaning of “worship“. But that is not the case with the Wahhabi movement, as they have invented their own innovated definitions of “worship”. Therefore to understand the meaning of ilah, I choose instead to bring Quranic verses that identify’s the key attributes with which ilah was described with, thereby grounding the case in the Qur’an.
- Unquestionably, to Allah belongs whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth. And those who invoke other than Allah do not [actually] follow [His] “partners.” They follow not except assumption, and they are not but falsifying. [Quran 10:66]
- And when those who associated others with Allah see their “partners,” they will say,” Our Lord, these are our partners [to You] whom we used to invoke besides You.” But they will throw at them the statement, “Indeed, you are liars.” [Quran 16:86]
- And [warn of] the Day when He will say, “Call ‘My partners‘ whom you claimed,” and they will invoke them, but they will not respond to them. And We will put between them [a valley of] destruction. [Quran 18:52]
- And it will be said, “Invoke your ‘partners‘ ” and they will invoke them; but they will not respond to them, and they will see the punishment. If only they had followed guidance! [Quran 18:64]
- Say, “Have you considered your ‘partners’ whom you invoke besides Allah ? Show me what they have created from the earth, or have they partnership [with Him] in the heavens? Or have We given them a book so they are [standing] on evidence therefrom? [No], rather, the wrongdoers do not promise each other except delusion.” [Quran 35:40]
These verses clearly prove that the polytheists invoked upon “partners” to Allah. This therefore unequivocally shows that the object identified as “ilah” whom the polytheists invoked, were considered or attributed as being “partners” to Allah. The literal meaning of shirk is the exact same attribute that they were attributing these objects with.
More importantly, these verses, like the verses in the previous case, separates the act of invoking from the act of ascribing the object as partners. This proves that merely invoking an object does not equate to rendering the object as a partner to Allah. Rather, associationism was a separate and prior act of attribution of these objects as “partners” to Allah. And it was such “partners” that the polytheists then invoked, therefore rendering their act of invoke as an act of worship.
And as we know, it the act of ascribing a partner or associate (also called “shirk”), which constitutes the greatest sin:
- Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly fabricated a tremendous sin. [Quran 4:48]
- Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly gone far astray. [Quran 4:116]
On the meaning of Partner
As for the meaning of “partner”, then its meaning is clear from the literal meaning of shirk itself: to share. To make an object as a partner to Allah would mean to make the object to have a share with Allah.
And regarding the meaning of share, it is to have an amount that is divided among a number of individuals or have a number of individuals contribute to an amount. And therefore in context with Allah, it would be to share Allah’s Essence or His Attributes. That is, to associate a share to Allah, is to divide Allah’s Essence or Attributes among others besides Allah, or, it is to make others besides Allah contribute to Allah’s Essence or Attributes. (3)
Polytheists invoked equals to Allah
‘Amr ibn Shurahbil related that ‘Abdullah said, “A man said, ‘Messenger of Allah, which sin is the most terrible in the sight of Allah?’ He answered, ‘That you claim that Allah has an equal when He created you.’ He asked, ‘Then what?’ He said, ‘That you kill you child out of the fear that he will eat with you?’ ‘Then what?’ he asked. He said, ‘Then that you commit adultery with your neighbour’s wife.’ Then Allah revealed its confirmation: ‘Those who do not call on any other god together with Allah and do not kill anyone Allah has forbidden, except with the right to do so, and do not fornicate; anyone who does that will receive an evil punishment.’ (25:68)” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
This narration is quite significant because it mentions all that we have mentioned above under a single narration. This narration starts by explaining the most terrible sin. We know from the Qur’an that the most terrible sin is to make a “partner” to Allah. But here a distinct terminology is used i.e., to make Allah an “equal“. This terminology therefore helps in understanding that the meaning of making Allah a partner means to make Allah an equal. This concept of making Allah an equal is present in the Qur’an:
- [All] praise is [due] to Allah , who created the heavens and the earth and made the darkness and the light. Then those who disbelieve equate [others] with their Lord. [Quran 6:1]
- Say, [O Muhammad], “Bring forward your witnesses who will testify that Allah has prohibited this.” And if they testify, do not testify with them. And do not follow the desires of those who deny Our verses and those who do not believe in the Hereafter, while they equate [others] with their Lord. [Quran 6:150]
- “They will say while they dispute therein,”By Allah , we were indeed in manifest error, When we equated you with the Lord of the worlds.” [Quran 26:96-98]
- [More precisely], is He [not best] who created the heavens and the earth and sent down for you rain from the sky, causing to grow thereby gardens of joyful beauty which you could not [otherwise] have grown the trees thereof? Is there a deity with Allah ? [No], but they are a people who ascribe equals [to Him]. [Quran 27:60]
- He presents to you an example from yourselves. Do you have among those whom your right hands possess any partners in what We have provided for you so that you are equal therein [and] would fear them as your fear of one another [within a partnership]? Thus do We detail the verses for a people who use reason. [Quran 30:28]
Thereby, defining shirk as “to make Allah an equal”, is a explanation that is present directly in the Quran and the Sunnah. That is, shirk is to make an object besides Allah equal to Allah in His Essence or Attributes.
This narration of the Prophet(peace be upon him) then continues, until the narration ends by saying, Allah had revealed a verse in confirmation of what was preached. The verse that Allah(SWT) revealed was :
- And those who do not invoke with Allah another deity(ilah) or kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed], except by right, and do not commit unlawful sexual intercourse. And whoever should do that will meet a penalty. [Quran 25:68]
The relevance of this is that, this verse, mentions the subject of “invoking“. This verse was revealed to confirm that shirk is to make Allah an equal. That is, the explanation of this verse that says “do not invoke with Allah another ilah” is present directly in the explanation of the Prophet(peace be upon him), which is, to not make Allah an equal. Therefore, what this verse prohibits is not as the Wahhabi say, that it prohibits calling upon anyone besides Allah. Instead, as the prophetic narration clearly said, it is to not take anyone as an equal to Allah. Therefore, when someone invokes anyone besides Allah believing that the object invoked is an equal to Allah in His Essence or any of His attributes, then such an act of invoke is an act of worship. If one was to instead invoke anyone not carrying any such belief that makes something an equal to Allah, then that act of invoke is not an act of worship since the invoking clearly does not make the object an equal to Allah either prior to the invoke nor after the invoke.
In refutation of this fundamental doctrine of Wahhabism, we have proven the following,:
- Their argument is flawed in its proposition and formulation.
- Every call is not an act of worship.
- Calling the dead is not an act of worship.
- The polytheists invoked an Ilah besides Allah, and there is a distinction between calling an object and taking the object as an Ilah or an object of worship.
- The polytheists invoked a partner to Allah, and there is a distinction between calling an object and taking the object as a partner to Allah.
- The meaning, of the prohibition of invoking an Ilah besides Allah, is to not take an object as equals or partners to Allah .
(1) If the Wahhabis reading this were to quickly admit that, this verse is not taken upon its literal meaning, and only an analogical comparison being made between the disbelievers and the dead, that would still not negate this verse as proof . Because even if the Prophet did not actually call the dead at this instance, the analogy was still made with calling the dead. If calling the dead was indeed shirk as the Wahhabi religion says, then it would mean, Allah was comparing the action of the Prophet with shirk, which is absurd. Instead, the analogy was used only to explain the unresponsive state of the disbelievers and the futile nature of calling them. Nothing here proved that such an act was shirk nor did Allah anywhere say that calling the dead was in and of itself shirk, despite using the comparison.
Furthermore, note that this verse makes reference to not just the dead, but also the deaf and blind. From the Wahhabi creed is the innovated argument that calling upon someone in a matter which that person is incapable of, is shirk. The Wahhabis use this verse to argue that the dead are incapable and hence it is shirk to call them. Yet they do not realize that, this same verse which they use, also refers to the incapability of the deaf and blind too. And so, their creed necessitates that, calling upon and guiding, a deaf and blind person, is also shirk and polytheism.
(2) Alternatively defining ilah as an “an object that is sought” only seeks cover up the same absurdity. When they are made to explain what they mean by “sought“, they would return to the same state of defining “sought” as the act of “invoking” and hence “an object that is invoked” . The fallacy of it remains.
(3) One that is confused by the Trinity Tawhid of Wahhabism, might wonder, where then does the Tawhid which the Wahhabis refer to as “shirk in worship” fall under ? Is not worshiping an object besides Allah equivalent to associating them as partners to Allah?
To answer this, yes indeed it is, because, “worship” is an act of the subject that is performed to an object that is in priori taken as “ilah”. Therefore, worshiping an object besides Allah is also equivalent to giving a share to Allah because, the act of worship was a result of prior or implicit attribution of the object as a partner to Allah.
We have already proved that an “ilah” besides Allah among the polytheists, were objects that were attributed as partners to Allah. We have also shown that the mere act of “calling” was in and of itself not equivalent to taking an object as an ilah or a partner, but was instead distinguished by the Qur’an. Therefore, the arguments of Wahhabiyya are invalidated unequivocally and the doubts they might attempt to raise do not effect that which is clearly established.