بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Malicious Christian apologists quote the following Ayah of the holy Quran and contend by it that Prophet Muhammad [sall Allahu alaihi wasallam] did not possess certainty as to what would happen to him in the Afterlife—specifically whether he would attain salvation:
وَ مَاۤ اَدۡرِیۡ مَا یُفۡعَلُ بِیۡ وَ لَا بِکُمۡ
Nor do I know what will be done with me or with you
Incidentally, the Deobandi elder, Rashid Gangohi, in his Fatawa Rashidiya issued a fatwa declaring that it is proven that it is possible for Allah to lie and proceeded to cite this very Ayah as a proof. He stated that although Allah has declared that the Prophet Muhammad [sall Allahu alaihi wasallam] is ultimately forgiven, there is the possibility of him not being forgiven in the Afterlife because of the words of this Ayah ‘I do not know what will be done with me’ (Fatawa Rashidiya p.237; Ta'lifate Rashidiya p.99):
Killing two birds with a single stone, I have answered this doubt raised by the Christians and by the Deobandis in the following video on my YouTube channel:
In summary, I quoted Tafsir al-Jalalayn in explanation of this Ayah, which makes it plain that the statement ‘I do not know what will happen to me’ is in reference to this worldly life and not the Afterlife:
وَمَآ أَدْرِى مَا يُفْعَلُ بِى وَلاَ بِكُمْ } في الدنيا أأخرج من بلدي، أم أقتل كما فعل بالأنبياء قبلي أو ترموني بالحجارة؟ أم يخسف بكم كالمكذبين قبلكم
“Nor do I know what will be done with me or with you in this world will I be made to leave my native land or will I be slain as was done with some prophets before me or will you stone me to death or will the earth be made to swallow you as it did deniers before you?”
Now it is clear that Imam Jalal ud-Din as-Suyuti [rahimahullah] believed this Ayah is referring to the absence of certain knowledge of the Prophet [sall Allahu alaihi wasallam] concerning what will happen to him specifically in this world, and likewise what will happen to the people he is addressing in this world.
Al-Wahidi has explained the circumstances for the revelation of this Ayah in his Asbab an-Nuzul:
قَالَ الْكَلْبِيُّ عَنْ أَبِي صَالِحٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ
لَمَّا اشْتَدَّ البلاء بأصحاب النبي صلى اللَّه عليه وسلم رَأَى فِي الْمَنَامِ أَنَّهُ يُهَاجِرُ إِلَى أَرْضٍ ذَاتِ نَخْلٍ وَشَجَرٍ وَمَاءٍ فَقَصَّهَا عَلَى أَصْحَابِهِ فَاسْتَبْشَرُوا بِذَلِكَ وَرَأَوْا فِيهَا فَرَجًا مِمَّا هُمْ فِيهِ مِنْ أَذَى الْمُشْرِكِينَ ثُمَّ إِنَّهُمْ مَكَثُوا بُرْهَةً لَا يَرَوْنَ ذَلِكَ فَقَالُوا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّه متى تهاجر إِلَى الأرض التي رأيتها فَسَكَتَ رسول اللَّه صلى اللَّه عليه وسلم وأنزل اللَّهِ تَعَالَى وَمَا أَدْرِي مَا يُفْعَلُ بِي وَلَا بِكُمْ يَعْنِي لَا أَدْرِي أَخْرُجُ إِلَى الْمَوْضِعِ الَّذِي رَأَيْتُهُ في منامي أولا
Al-Kalbi reported from Abu Salih that Ibn ‘Abbas said: “When tribulations faced by the Companions of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, intensified, The Prophet saw in his dream that he migrated to a land that had palms, trees and plenty of water. He related this dream to his Companions and the latter took it for a good omen and a harbinger of relief from the harm of the idolaters which they faced. After a while, when they saw that nothing had happened, they said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! When are you going to migrate to the land which you saw in your dream?’ The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, did not answer them, but Allah, exalted is He, revealed (…nor know I what will be done with me or with you…), i.e. I do not know whether or not I am going to move to the place which I saw in my dream.
Something I didn’t cover in my video response to this Christian and Deobandi doubt is the Hadith reported in Sahih al-Bukhari about the death of sayyidina Uthman bin Maz’un [radi Allahu anhu]. An Ansari lady, Umm al-’Ala [radi Allahu anha] reportedly said in the presence of the Prophet [sall Allahu alaihi wasallam] regarding Uthman bin Maz’un:
رَحْمَةُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكَ أَبَا السَّائِبِ فَشَهَادَتِي عَلَيْكَ لَقَدْ أَكْرَمَكَ اللَّهُ
“May Allah be merciful to you, O Aba as-Sa'ib! I testify that Allah has honored you”
In response to this, the Prophet [sall Allahu alaihi wasallam] said:
أَمَّا هُوَ فَقَدْ جَاءَهُ اليَقِينُ وَاللَّهِ إِنِّي لَأَرْجُو لَهُ الخَيْرَ وَاللَّهِ مَا أَدْرِي وَأَنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ مَا يُفْعَلُ بِي
Certainty [death] came to him. By Allah, I too wish him good, but by Allah, I do not know what will be done with me though I am Allah's Messenger.
Although the context of this statement is in reference to Uthman bin Maz’un’s death and whether or not Allah has truly honored him in the Afterlife, the Prophet’s statement ‘I do not know, though I am the Messenger of Allah, what will be done with me’ does not necessarily have to be interpreted as referring to what will be done with him in the Afterlife. His purpose is only to convey that despite being a Prophet and Apostle of God he has not been given the totality of the knowledge of the unseen.