Common Misconceptions About Islam, Muslims and The Quran

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Misconception: Muhammad was more than just a human

Background: Some think that Muslims consider Muhammad a perfect human, or superhuman or even god-like.

The Quran makes it clear that prophets were humans and therefore fallible. We have multiple examples of this: Muhammad prohibiting something in his personal life when it was allowed by God (66:1), turning away from a blind man and giving attention to someone else (Chapter 80), an instance of fearing the people instead of God (33:37); possibly seeking forgiveness for polytheists active in opposition even if they were kin (9:113), possibly taking prisoners of war under incorrect conditions (8:67-69), Abraham asking for his father's forgiveness (9:114) and arguing for Lot's people (11:74-76); Moses unintentionally killing a man (28:15-16), Jonah trying to escape from his duties (37:139-144, 68:48-50), Solomon distracted by materialism (38:32-35) etc.

It should be noted that when The Quran discusses such errors it refers to the person, not errors in conveying the revelation as a divinely chosen messenger (e.g. 69:43-47).

Like others, Prophet Muhammad the person, did not know the future (5:109, 6:50, 7:188, 10:20, 11:31, 27:65).

Say, "I am but a human being like you being inspired that your god is One god. So whoever looks forward to meeting his Lord, then let him do good works and not set up any partner in the service of his Lord." [18:110]

Say: "I am no different from the other messengers, nor do I know what will happen to me or to you. I only follow what is inspired to me. I am no more than a clear warner" [46:9]

Say, "I am no more than a human being like you. I am inspired that your god is One god..." [41:6]

Prophet Muhammad delivered the same message as messengers before him, e.g.
Then we inspired thee to follow the creed of Abraham, monotheism/uprightness; not was he a polytheist. [16:123]

An example of human leadership is promotion of mutual consultation as it inherently involves listening to other people so a decision can be reached [3:159, 39:18, 58:11, 42:38]. Prophet Muhammad did not have control over the well-being or guidance of others [72:21].

The messengers of God are often spoken of very highly in The Quran (e.g. 33:21), but this does not equate to being perfect. There is a big difference. Absolute perfection would only be a trait of God.

The fact that prophets are portrayed as human beings is not a weakness, but on the contrary, for those who reflect it could be a testament to the authenticity, integrity and wisdom of The Quran.


 

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