Why the Prophet delayed response when idolaters requested he worship their gods
Fatwa No: 270724

Question

As-salaamu 3laikum, I am confused about something I heard. I heard that once some polytheists came to the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu 3laihi wa salam, and said that they would worship Allah alone for one year if he would worship their gods for one year. I heard that the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu 3laihi wa salam, told them to wait and see how Allah would answer them, and then a verse of the Qur'an was revealed about that. I am confused about his tellling them to wait - does it mean he knew what the answer would be but he felt that revelation was coming about it, or does it mean that he was not sure whether Allah would allow him to make such an agreement or not? Kindly explain so that I can get the correct understanding about this. Jazaak Allahu khair

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

This narration was reported by the Tafseer scholars, among whom was At-Tabari, who narrated it with its chain of narrators; however, we have not come across a scholar who judged it as either authentic or weak. The books of Tafseer include the authentic Hadeeth reports and the weak ones.

If we presume that this narration is authentic, then there were many instances in which the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was questioned and he kept silent, and in general he used to wait for the revelation from Allaah. Also, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, could have kept silent for other reasons such as him becoming angry or condemning what he was asked about, and so forth.

Al-Baaji said in al-Muntaqa in his commentary on the Hadeeth in which some Companions asked the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam: “How do we send prayers on you?": "The question, How do we send prayers on you? is a question about the method of sending prayers and the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, keeping silent was probably due to the fact that he did not have an injunction from revelation on this issue and then revelation came to him when he was asked, so him keeping silent was due to the revelation that was coming down to him. It is also probable that he was ordered to keep silent, so he chose to keep silent but they (the Companions) wished that the questioner did not ask him as they feared that his silence was because he did not like the question.” [End of quote]

In the incident in your question, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was waiting for a revelation that would answer their question, and the evidence was that it was due to this incident that Allaah revealed Soorah Al-Kaafiroon [Quran 109] which was the best response to them.

As for whether or not his silence was because he was not sure whether or not Allaah would allow him to accept their offer, then it was not, as it does not befit the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, to think that his Lord would command him to commit an act of unbelief, or that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, himself would accept unbelief as Allaah says (what means): {It is not for a human [prophet] that Allaah should give him the Scripture and authority and prophethood and then he would say to the people, "Be servants to me rather than Allaah," but [instead, he would say], "Be pious scholars of the Lord because of what you have taught of the Scripture and because of what you have studied." Nor could he order you to take the angels and prophets as Lords. Would he order you to disbelief after you had been Muslims?}[Quran 3: 79-80]

Allaah Knows best.

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