December 2020

Hanif – “one who is inclined”

The title ‘hanif’ appears ten times in the Quran for those who are sound in their faith, and particularly those whose religion is the pure religion of Abraham. When the ten verses are arranged chronologically a picture emerges that Muhammad used this term firstly for the religion of Abraham and then afterwards for any sincere person who professes Islam.


Abraham is the only hanif mentioned in the Quran. He was not a polytheist , nor a Jew nor a Christian but he was hanif Muslim: “Abraham was not a Jew nor yet a Christian; but he was true in Faith, and bowed his will to Allah’s, and he joined not gods with Allah.” (Al-Imran 3:67)

Muhammad believed that the original religion of Abraham had been corrupted by polytheism, Judaism and Christianity which arose later and he sought to restore the ‘original religion’ which was known as Islam.

What it means to be a hanif

The two verses below explain what it means to be a hanif

Muhammad was directed towards being an hanif: “And further (thus): set thy face towards religion (hanifan) with true piety, and never in any wise be of the unbelievers” (Yunus 10:105)

The hanif would not associate any others with Allah: “Being true in faith to Allah, (Hunafa Lillah) and never assigning partners to Him” (Al-Haj 22:31)

The hanifs then, were in existence before Muhammad claimed his prophetic call but as he believed that he renovated the true religion a hanif can be considered to be a Muslim. It is possible that the term hanif was used for the religion of Islam before the term Islam was used.

The Hanif’s in Muhammad’s times

From amongst the religious reformers at Mecca who led the way to absolute monotheism we find they included Waraqa and Zaid ibn ‘Amr. Ibn Ishaq additionally mentions Uthman ibn Huwarith and Ubaid-Allah ibn Jahsh who both after leaving Mecca converted to Christianity. In fact it is thought that of the six contemporaries of Muhammad that are titled Hanif, half became Christians and one confessed not to know the right way.” (Siratu’l Rasul vs 144 p. 99)

Waraqa b. Nawfal

Tradition relates that Waraaqa, as one of the hanifs, abandoned paganism and then become a Christian. It reports that he not only read and wrote Arabic but knew Hebrew, had read the Bible and written down portions of the gospel in Hebrew.

He was the cousin of Khadijah and Tradition reports that in infancy he found Muhammad after he had wandered away from his nurse and later he was found comforting Bilal after he had been tormented by his pagan master.

More importantly is the influence of Waraqa on Muhammad as he encouraged him in the first years of his mission. When Muhammad told Khadijah about his first ‘revelation’ she went directly to Waraqa and repeated everything Muhammad had said. He assured him that Jesus had predicted his mission and that he had been visited by the Namus who came to Moses foretelling that his mission would end in victory : “By the Lord! replied the aged man. ‘thy uncle’s son speaketh the truth. This verily is the beginning of prophecy. And there shall come unto him the Great law (i.e. Namus, the Arabic form for Nomos, ‘the law’) like unto the law of Moses. Wherefore charge him that he entertain not any but hopeful thoughts within his heart.”

Despite these inspiring words Waraqa never converted to Islam and he died before Muhammad began his preaching, yet Muhammad had a dream concerning him in which he was dressed in white which was an allusion that he was in heaven.

A different opinion suggests that Waraqa was an Ebionite bishop who saw in Muhammad qualities that could be harvested to make him into a Christian. He therefore taught him Bible stories in preparation for his future ministry and taught Muhammad about Jesus according to the Ebionite doctrine which denies the deity of Christ. It is also proposed that when Khadijah consulted Waraqa over her marriage to Muhammad he warmly approved and as he was a bishop he officiated at the wedding ceremony. If this was the case it makes the union a Christian marriage and this may be why it lasted until Khadijah’s death.

Zaid ibn ’Amr – known as ‘the enquirier’

Zaid b. ‘Amr, who was from the Qurraish tribe of Mecca, died before Muhammad’s mission began when he was about 35 years old. Muhammad declared him to be a true believer who was in heaven and allowed prayers to be said to him. He was called a hanif because he rejected idolatry, objected to female infanticide, refused to eat the flesh of animals sacrificed to idols or slaughtered without invoking God’s name and was seeking the true God.

He was a cousin of ‘Umar b. al-Khattab and was married to Safiya bint al-Hadrami and to Fatima bint Ba’dja and had a son called Said ibn Zayd. Tradition relates that he prayed that this son would be led into the ways of Abraham and later this son became one of the ten to whom heaven was promised.

He was persecuted by his family on religious grounds and travelled into Syria where he met a monk, who similarly to Bahira, predicted the coming of the true prophet in Mecca; other authorities said he himself predicted the coming of Muhammad. He was killed on his return journey to Mecca when crossing the region inhabited by the Lakhm tribe.

Uthman ibn Huwarith

Uthman went to Rome and became a Christian. While there, he served the Caesar and had a good position with them.

Ubaid-Allah ibn Jahsh 

In order to escape from persecution he emigrated to Abyssinia and eventually converted to Christianity. Some authorities say that he became a drunkard and attempted to Christianize Arabia on behalf of the Roman Byzantine Emperor and threatened Arabia with the power of the Roman military forces. He is said to have separated from his wife and later some accounts say that Muhammad married his widow, Ramlah and his sister Zainab.


Individual Eschatology concerns the condition of the individual between his death and the general resurrection at the close of the age.

December 2020

The Mahdi literally means “the guided one”, and has come to mean in an individual way, the divinely guided one. While Allah himself is called al-Hadi in the Quran (Al-Hajj 22:54; Al-Furqan 25:31) the figure of al-mahdi or mahdi, and his mission is not mentioned at all. Islam uses the term of certain individuals in the past and of an eschatological individual in the future. The Mahdi is interpreted differently by Sunnis and Shi’a although both look for one who will arise to restore the purity of Islam and usher in a Golden Age in which Islamic revelation will reign in the ideal community, the umma.

There is a general belief amongst Muslims that the living Muhammad intercedes for them at the throne of God. The Wahhabi’s state that the intercession of their Prophet is only by the permission of Allah on the Last Day and that there will be no intercession for sins until the Day of Judgement. In principle the Quran denies that there is an intercessor with Allah. However, there are a few passages which suggest that under certain circumstances Allah does allow someone to intercede. It seems that Muhammad’s intercession is available for the Muslim as he/she invokes the blessings of Allah upon the Prophet.

The appearance of the Anti-Christ (ad-Dajjal)

Resurrection and the Last Judgement Al-Qiyama

December 2020

Questions and Answers about the Second Coming of Christ which are held by orthodox Muslims

Both the Quran and Tradition present their picture of ‘Isa. They give him a high place among the prophets; they affirm his sinless-ness; they affirm he had power to work miracles but all this does not distinguish Him in any way as to its nature from the other prophets who came before him.

The Quran recognises that David glorified and praised God. The mountains and the birds alternated with him in these praises (Al-Anbiya 21:79, Saba’ 34:10, Sa’d 38:18). Muhammad, it seems, took literally the passages where creatures and elements joined David in their praises so it seems that when David was fatigued Allah caused other parts of nature, both animate and inanimate to relieve him. David is presented as a model Muslim, praising Allah, fasting, prostrating, acting justly and fighting for the honour of Allah

The title Tawrat is given in the Quran and all Muslim works for the Book of Moses (in Hebrew Torah stands for ‘the Law’). The term tawrat is found in the Medina period. Muslim scholars accept that the Tawrat teaches the unity of God yet believe it falls short of the full revelation as it does not give an account of the stated method of prayers (Al-Fath 48:29), the fast, a detailed description of the pilgrimage to Jerusalem and alms-giving, nor is there anything regarding heaven and hell. For these reasons the Tawrat is said to have been altered by the Jews.