Was Muhammad Worshipped?

When Muhammad died, Abu Bakr delivered the announcement to the people to inform them of Muhammad’s passing.

This is how he began his speech: “If anyone amongst you used to worship Muhammad, then Muhammad is dead, but if (anyone of) you used to worship Allah, then Allah is Alive and shall never die….”

You can read about this incident in the following Sahih hadith and other similarly authentic hadiths reporting this event.

Narrated Aishah:
Abu Bakr came from his house at As-Sunh on a horse. He dismounted and entered the Mosque, but did not speak to the people till he entered upon `Aisha and went straight to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) who was covered with Hibra cloth (i.e. a kind of Yemenite cloth). He then uncovered the Prophet’s face and bowed over him and kissed him and wept, saying, “Let my father and mother be sacrificed for you. By Allah, Allah will never cause you to die twice. As for the death which was written for you, has come upon you.” Narrated Ibn `Abbas: Abu Bakr went out while `Umar bin Al-Khattab was talking to the people. Abu Bakr said, “Sit down, O `Umar!” But `Umar refused to sit down. So the people came to Abu Bakr and left `Umar. Abu Bakr said, “To proceed, if anyone amongst you used to worship Muhammad , then Muhammad is dead, but if (anyone of) you used to worship Allah, then Allah is Alive and shall never die. Allah said:–“Muhammad is no more than an Apostle, and indeed (many) apostles have passed away before him..(till the end of the Verse )……Allah will reward to those who are thankful.” (3.144) By Allah, it was as if the people never knew that Allah had revealed this Verse before till Abu Bakr recited it and all the people received it from him, and I heard everybody reciting it (then). Narrated Az-Zuhri: Sa`id bin Al-Musaiyab told me that `Umar said, “By Allah, when I heard Abu Bakr reciting it, my legs could not support me and I fell down at the very moment of hearing him reciting it, declaring that the Prophet (ﷺ) had died.”

Sahih al-Bukhari 4452, 4453

What is surprising is to note is that Abu Bakr was making the statement as a matter of fact. “Those of you who worshipped Muhammad…” He was not expressing outrage or shock. It was obviously known and accepted that Muhamamd WAS worshipped during his lifetime. In fact, there was a crowd listening to him there, including Omar, and there must have been other sahabas present. Yet there is no indication of anyone screaming blasphemy or calling for the heads of those who worshipped Muhammad. It was clearly an accepted practice that was allowed during the lifetime of Muhammad.

Of course, today, 1400 years after Muhammad’s death, Muslims vehemently deny that they worship Muhammad. However, if we look closely at the clues in the Quran and authentic hadiths, it becomes clear that the worship of Muhammad was built into Islam right from the beginning. Not necessarily worshipping him as “Allah” but worship nonetheless.

The first pillar of Islam itself is evidence.

The Islamic statement of faith is known as the Shahadah and goes like this, “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger.”

It is the creed of every Muslim recited in faith, devotion, allegiance, submission and repeated in worship and in prayer. As you can see, in the shahadah, a Muslim pronounces his submission and allegiance to TWO BEINGS. Essentially that is what the shahadah is! A partnership between two beings – Allah and Muhammad. Muslims will object to this but they cannot deny that the shahadah declaration of Muslim faith and allegiance is incomplete if either one of those two Beings is omitted! Think about it. If a Muslim were to just recite, “There is no God but Allah” and stops there, the shahadah is invalid! One cannot even become a Muslim! This is an insult to Allah. It’s as if Allah cannot even stand on his own and he is deemed incomplete and useless without Muhammad!

The Quran describes this “partnership” of Allah and his messenger in numerous ways.

Muhammad’s words are the words of Allah. Muhammad’s commands are the commands of Allah. Muhammad’s laws are the laws of Allah.
Obey Allah and his messenger. (see 4:59).
If you obey Muhammad, you obey Allah. If you disobey Muhammad, you disobey Allah.
Submit to Allah and his messenger.
If you submit to Muhammad, you submit to Allah. If you do not submit to Muhammad, you do not submit to Allah. Muhammad had taken on the persona of Allah to the Arabs people of the 7th century!

Abu Bakr said, “Let my father and mother be sacrificed for you.” This is a shocking statement of idolatrous devotion to someone who was a mere man! God had once commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son. But that was God testing the faith of Abraham, who became known as the Father of Faith. But here is Abu Bakr willing to sacrifice even “more” than Abraham, and not even to God, but to Muhammad!

In the prayer that is known as Tashahhud, Muslims pray to Allah and also address Muhammad directly! They say, “….Peace be upon you, O Prophet, and the mercy of Allaah and His blessings….” Can Muhammad hear and see a billion Muslims addressing him in their prayers? That would make him omnipresent and omniscient too!

In fact, to Muslims, Muhammad is the very personification of paradise itself! Look at this:

 “His noble hair is from the vegetation of Paradise, his saliva is from the honey of Paradise, and His urine, as some of our wise men say, is the water of Paradise.”

Isma’eel Haqqi al-Barusi, in his exegesis of the Qur’an titled ‘Rooh al-Bayan