Honorable or Dishonorable?

The following is a brief except from my forthcoming book:

Islam prohibits Muslims from regarding people like Elijah Muhammad as Honorable or encourage prayers and forgiveness for him.[1] “It is not fitting for the Prophet and those who believe, that they should invoke (Allah) for forgiveness for pagans… ” [At-Towbah, 9:113] Understanding this verse and its circumstances is essential in order to understand how Muslims are to view Elijah. For example, in Kitabul-Tafsir, Al-Bukhari relates the following:

Al-Musayyib narrated, “When Abu Talib’s death approached,[2] the Prophet (ﷺ) went to him while Abu Jahl and ‘Abdullah bin Abi ‘Umaiya were present with him.[3] The Prophet (ﷺ) said: O uncle, say: None has the right to be worshipped except Allah, so that I may argue for your case with it before Allah. On that, Abu Jahl and ‘Abdullah bin Abi ‘Umaiya said, ‘O Abu Talib! Do you want to renounce ‘Abdul Muttalib’s religion?’[4] Then the Prophet (ﷺ) said, I will keep on asking Allah for forgiveness for you unless I am forbidden to do so. Then Allah revealed: “It is not fitting for the Prophet and those who believe, that they should invoke (Allah) for forgiveness for pagans even though they be of kin, after it has become clear to them that they are companions of the Fire.” [At-Towbah, 9:113]

The above circumstances were in regards to the Prophet’s (ﷺ) own uncle, Abu Talib, who died a pagan; how much more so then for a person the likes of Elijah, who died professing Prophethood?

The scholars of Islam in every century, from the earliest times up to the present, from Morocco to India and from Turkey to Yemen, are in unanimity on the status of a person who dies as a disbeliever, or more specifically, dies unrepentant after proclaiming prophethood–as well as those who believe in such a person.[5] Just a cursory glance at their ruling on this will suffice to settle the issue:

Al-Ghazzali states, “The whole Ummah is unanimous that the Holy Prophet by his words La nabiyya ba’di (‘there will be no Prophet after me’) meant nothing but this that after him there will neither be a prophet nor an apostle. Anyone who interprets this Saying in any other way, falls outside the pale of Islam; his interpretation would be nonsensical and his writing heretical. Besides, the Ummah is also unanimous that there is no scope whatever for any other interpretation than this; the one who denies it, denies the consensus of the Ummah.[6]

Qadi ‘Iyad writes, “He who lays a claim to prophethood for himself, or holds that one can acquire it and can attain the rank of prophethood through the purification of the heart, as some philosophers and so-called sufis assert, and likewise he who does not claim to be a prophet but claims that he receives Revelation… all such people are disbelievers and deniers of the Holy Prophet, for he has informed us that he is the last of the Prophets and that no prophet is to come after him. And he has conveyed this news from Allah that he has closed the Prophethood and that he has been sent to all mankind; and the whole Ummah is unanimous that these words have no other but the apparent meaning. There is no room for a different interpretation or special meaning. Therefore, there can be absolutely no doubt about such people’s being kafir both according to the consensus and the Traditions.[7]

Ibn Katheer writes, “Anyone who lays a claim to this office after the Holy Prophet, is a liar and imposter and deviator and unbeliever, no matter what supernatural and magical spells and charms and sorcery he practices.”[8]

Shaykh Muhammad Saleh Ibn Uthaimin states in his book, The Muslim’s Belief: “We believe that there is no prophet after Muhammad, Allah’s Messenger, peace be upon him. Whoever claims prophethood after him, or believes in anyone claiming it,[9] is a disbeliever because he is rejecting Allah, His Messenger, and the Muslims’ consensus.”[10]

Elijah however, is not all to blame. Zafar Ishaq Ansari notes that ‘while Wallace Muhammed was concerned with raising the prestige of the Nation of Islam, he was also keen to build up the leader of the Nation to the position of the acknowledged leader of all Blacks.’[11]

Professor Ansari provides a seven-page document written by W.D. Mohammed himself which demonstrates that W.D. specifically recommended that Elijah’s position ‘be further enhanced by means of a set of deliberate acts.’ Ansari observes that the document ‘indicates Wallace’s proneness to quite deliberately manipulate the traits of mass psychology to achieve the objectives of his movement.’[12]

In conclusion, the true prophets of Allah, like Musa, Isa and Muhammad, peace be upon them all, came with obedience, truth, guidance, uprightness and justice in whatever they said, did, ordered or prohibited; not to mention their unprecedented miracles, clear evidence and overwhelming proofs.[13]

On the other hand, Elijah Muhammad, like every other claimant to prophethood, did not enjoin good nor forbid evil, except by way of hypocrisy and with the objectives of lies and depravity in his speech and actions, thereby having more in common with Iblis, Pharoah and Musailima.

It is therefore not permissible to praise him, to analogize him with the righteous, or to ask Allah to forgive him his sins and grant him Paradise, nor to honor or esteem him in any way. One cannot fabricate the past in the hope of making the future safe for fabricators. Indeed, one cannot be obedient to Allah while at the same time honoring false prophets and their supporters, even if they are one’s own parents.[14]

[1] W.D. Mohammed and some of his major spokespeople are often guilty of this; for example, Alauddin Shabazz, uses the expression, ‘(RA)’ after mentioning Elijah Muhammad’s name, (See Polygamy, a Remedy or a Right?, p. 5). RA is an abbreviation of the supplication, radhiallahu anhu, meaning, ‘may Allah be pleased with him.’ Historically, the scholars of Islam have said this only in reference to a deceased companion of the Prophet Muhammad. Even if it is claimed that Shabazz meant by ‘RA”, the supplication, rahimuhullah, “may Allah have mercy on him” it would still be incorrect since Elijah was unrighteous. Additionally, Muhammad Armiya Nu’man mimics W.D. Mohammed’s practice by saying ‘May Allah forgive him of his sins’ after he mentions Elijah Muhammad’s name. See What Every American Should Know About Islam & The Muslims, “ p. 55.

[2] Abu Talib was the paternal uncle of the Prophet (ﷺ). Abu Talib saw him regularly, yet died rejecting Islam. In another narration, The Prophet (ﷺ) said that Abu Talib would have a coal placed under his foot which would cause his brain to boil, and this would be the least of punishment in the Fire.

[3] Abu Jahl and ‘Abdullah bin Abi Umayya were members of the tribe of Quraysh and pagans (mushrikeen) who fought against the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ).

[4] Abdul Muttalib was the father of the Prophet (ﷺ). In another narration, the Prophet (ﷺ) swore that both his own father and his mother were in the Fire, (due to them being mushriks).

[5] See The Meaning of the Qur’an, appendix on surah Al-Ahzab, pp. 168-175, for the Islamic rulings of twenty-one different scholars from Imam Abu Hanifah to Allama Alusi.

[6] ibid. p.169

[7] ibid. p. 170.

[8] ibid. p. 172.

[9] In an early photograph taken at one of the schools in W.D. Mohammed’s community, there appears written on the blackboard in Arabic, “There is no God but Allah, Elijah Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.” See Bilalian News, November 14, 1975, p. 19.

[10] The Muslim’s Belief, p. 22.

[11] See W.D. Muhammad: The Making of a ‘Black Muslim’ Leader, p. 261-262.

[12] See ibid. See also Black Nationalism, pp. 212-213.

[13] See Tafseer Ibn Katheer, vol. 3, pp. 542-544; see also Kitab An-Nabuwwah, pp. 439-449.

[14] See Saudi Gazette, January 22, 1993, p. 5.

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