Short Answer: Islam is a strictly monotheistic religion. Muslims worship Allah alone. But due to the fact that Muslims highly respect and venerate the Prophet, many non-Muslims, especially in the West, mistakenly believe that Muslims worship him. If Prophet Muhammad were divine, surely he would not have died. Before his death the Prophet cautioned his followers unequivocally that they should not worship or make idols of him like the followers of other Prophets did.
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Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.
Islam is a strictly monotheistic religion. Muslims worship Allah alone.
But due to the fact that Muslims highly respect and venerate the Prophet, many non-Muslims, especially in the West, mistakenly believe that Muslims worship him.
Indeed some of them have accused Muslims of believing that the Prophet is God.
During Prophet Muhammad’s life, people were surprised that a normal man claimed prophethood:
They also say, ‘What sort of messenger is this? He eats food and walks about in the marketplaces!’… (Quran 25:7)
Prophet Muhammad Died
If Prophet Muhammad were divine, surely he would not have died. But he did, and Allah warned him that he would:
You [Prophet] will certainly die, and so will they. (Quran 39:30)
The spectacular event that took place at his death is enough to put all questions related to this issue to rest.
When the Prophet passed away, his companions, especially those close to him, were reluctant to believe the news.
One of the strongest among them who was later to become the second Caliph, Umar Bin Al-Khattab, not only rejected to accept the fact that the Prophet passed away, but even threatened to kill anyone who would spread this “rumor.”
He shouted in pain,
The Messenger of Allah did not die. He is alive. He was struck by lightning like Moses. If anyone says, ‘Muhammad died’, I will split him into two with my sword!
But the Prophet’s and Umar’s friend, Abu Bakr, after verifying the earthly demise of the Prophet stood up and declared in the firmest of words:
O people! If anyone of you worships Muhammad, Muhammad is dead. [But] if anyone of you worships God, God is Alive and Immortal.
Abu Bakr then recited the verse that had been revealed to the Prophet after the battle of Uhud, when many Muslims had been shocked by the false rumor of his death:
Muhammad is not but a Messenger, Messengers had passed away before him. Why, if he should die or is slain, will you turn upon your heels?… (Quran 3:144)
The verses made such an impact on the people that it was as though they were hearing them for the first time.
His Caution Before Death
Before his death the Prophet cautioned his followers unequivocally that they should not worship or make idols of him like the followers of other Prophets did.
He tirelessly educated them of his mortality and his being a man, except that he is the Messenger of God:
Do not exaggerate about me as was exaggerated about `Isa (Jesus) son of Maryam. Say: the slave of Allah and His Messenger. (Al-Bukhari)
Allah does not mince words in the Quran:
Say [O Prophet]: “I am but a mortal man like all of you.” (Quran 18:110)
Allah repeats this point several times in the Quran.
He prohibited building a place of worship on top of his grave:
Beware of those who preceded you and used to take the graves of their prophets and righteous men as places of worship, but you must not take graves as mosques; I forbid you to do that. (Muslim)
The Prophet, in fact, was buried in his wife A’ishah’s home, which was later wrongfully attached to the main mosque of Madinah.
It still remains attached to that same mosque, and while Muslims visit the mosque and pray in it, they only visit his grave and send benedictions upon him.
They do not pray to him for any benefit because doing so is strictly forbidden in Islam.
I hope this helps answer your question.
Salam and please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)
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