From Merchant to Messenger

Conceit and the Damning of Innovation

From Merchant to MessengerIs perfection, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder?

The answer for most thinking persons has to be no, for perfection is an absolute, while beauty is relative. Perfection is most often associated with gods and only some gods; gods such as Allah and His alter-ego in the Christian Gospels and His previous manifestation in the Hebrew Bible.

Much of humanity strives for perfection knowing it is unattainable – the pursuit of perfection being a noble and worthwhile endeavour in and of itself; and if there is a god, perhaps the reason we are here, to strive to be more like Him (or Her).

What if God got bored with us looking for perfection and not getting anywhere fast and simply decided that the game had gone on long enough and it was time to simply tell us how to be perfect human beings. This is what THE GOD, the most common meaning given to “Allah” decided to do – it would seem.

The instruction on how to “be” perfect human beings was, and has always been in a book of instructions which Allah keeps within easy reach.


43 Az-Zukhruf

In the Name of Allah,

the Compassionate, the Merciful

43:1 Ha – Mim (no consensus on meaning of symbols).

43:2 By the Manifest Book.

43:3 We have made it an Arabic Qur’an that perchance you may understand.

43:4 And, indeed, it is in the Mother of the Book, with Us, lofty and wise.

Omnipotent gods are notorious for wanting to keep their ultimate identity a secret. To this end, if they have a message to send, they always come up with convoluted ways of sending it, usually via a human surrogate, meaning that the message tends to get garbled in the transmission.

For His last communication with His Creation until Judgement Day when His Magnificence will deign to address, individually, each man, woman and child that ever lived and ever will be born, mostly to point out their many failings, Allah wanted to make sure His book of instructions – the ultimate expression of His Perfection – would be delivered in its entirety, word-for-word with no misunderstandings.

The only way Perfection can be delivered intact is via Perfection itself. Except for the odd thunderbolt and attributed disasters, in all of recorded history, gods have used human spokespersons to make their feelings known.

Allah did not break with tradition when He decided to send down His Koran, or an exact facsimile, via another human intermediary who would be expected to repeat, word-for-word, without missing a syllable, the entire content of the Book. If He could not find the perfect human to deliver His perfect Book perfectly, He would fashion him from a close facsimile.

Even the Prophet himself admitted he was not always perfect. As a child he remembered being visited by two angels dressed in white robes. The angels broke open his chest, ripped out his heart and washed it with snow to remove any impurities before returning it to the now perfect owner. But, not before leaving a mark between his shoulder blades, a birthmark for those who don’t believe in this sort of thing, as a reminder of what they had done, and as an indication that He was God’s emissary, His last and greatest Messenger.

A question remains, however. Allah, throughout His Koran, thunders against those, Christians mostly, who say He has equals. Why would He create an equal in Perfection, especially an equal in Perfection in a mortal, even a mortal as exceptional as the Prophet Muhammad?

Perhaps he did not, and left one flaw, and that flaw was conceit – the mark left by the angels being its outward manifestation (Allah in His Koran is big on signs). This singular flaw in His greatest Messenger a sign that the game is not over, that the Koran is simply another clue to be dissected, discussed, reflected upon and even criticized; all in the pursuit of the elusive Perfection that is not of this world.

The Prophet Muhammad could be described in today’s vernacular as the ultimate “control-freak”.

We have already talked about how, from beyond the grave, he denied his widows a sex life by having Allah warn men about taking his wives in marriage after his passing, or after a divorce (his last wife, the young airhead Asma’ he may have divorced before the marriage was even consummated).

33:53 … You should never hurt the Messenger of Allah, nor take his wives in marriage after him. That is truly abominable in the sight of Allah.

No husband, no sex without risking being stoned to death for having intercourse outside the sanctity of marriage.

This pathological need to control everything and everyone with whom he came into contact, a need perhaps born out of conceit, extended to his legacy: the Koran, his sayings and his example. To ensure his legacy would survive intact for all times, God's Messenger banned innovation. He said that anyone who would even attempt to improve on what he had said and done and the world he left behind would burn in Hell.

Every innovation is a misguidance and every misguidance goes to Hell fire.

Imam An-Nasa'i

Prophet said: "The worst thing is any addition, for every addition is an innovation."

Imam Muslim

The most likely to bring about change were the Prophet’s trusted collaborators, the Companions of the Prophet. For them, the Prophet has a special warning.

Lake-Fount (Kauthar) is a special stream from which God’s Messenger will give water to drink (in the Shia version the Prophet is the greeter and it is Ali who spoons out the liquid) to his former Companions on Judgement Day; but not all of them, for some of them will have tried to introduce innovations and for that they are going to Hell, and Allah will make sure.

Narrated Abdullah:

The Prophet said, "I am your predecessor at the Lake-Fount (Kauthar) and some men amongst you will be brought to me, and when I will try to hand them some water, they will be pulled away from me by force whereupon I will say, 'O Lord, my companions!'

Then the Almighty will say, 'You do not know what they did after you left, they introduced new things into the religion after you.'"

Bukhari 88.173

The Prophet, by damning innovation has made Islam into a religion that will not bend; not unlike the proverbial oak which only hurricane force winds can topple. In that, there is a message and a dilemma for mankind.