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Some claim that the Qur’an is miraculous because of both its eloquence and its content. As discussed herein, the alleged eloquence of the Qur’an is questionable, and is not a miracle for several important reasons. In fact, the alleged eloquence of the Qur’an is not consistent with the claim of its divine origin. The purpose of divine revelation is not to teach the rules and principles of the classical Arabic language; but to teach and guide the people into the right path that they may grow spiritually in God’s service, and live together in peace, love and joy. Divine revelation is intended for the average person to read, hear and comprehend, not for a few experts in the language. A teaching is not useful if the average person cannot understand it, because it will not help him in his life.
The Islamic tradition believes that the Qur’an is the literal word of the Islamic god. The angel Gabriel gave it to Muhammad without any real input from the latter. If this being the case, one wonders why the Islamic god did not hand the Qur’an to Muhammad in the form of a book written on plates of stone, the way the living biblical God handed the ten commandments (the Decalogue) to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 31: 18; 32: 15-16).
Upon close scientific examination of the Qur’an, we discover that it suffers from linguistic problems, variant versions and readings, scientific problems, historical problems, internal contradictions and many discrepancies, and its problematic doctrines of abrogation and satanic inspiration. This means that the Qur’anic claim of its perfection in al-Kahf 18: 1 is not true.
The following is a brief objective analysis of these problems, that leads us to the inescapable firm conclusion that the miraculous aspect is absent from the Qur’an.
II. LINGUISTIC PROBLEMS
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The Arabic language is a descendent of the Aramaic language. The Arabic language used in the Qur’an originated in the region west of the Euphrates river in the fourth-fifth century AD. It was originally centered around al-Hira, about three miles from al-Kufa in southern Iraq, among the Christian tribes of al-Munathara that expanded its rule to the region of al-Anbar on the Euphrates west of Baghdad. Its origins then are the Christians of al-Hira and al-Anbar. Subsequently, the Arabic language dominated all the territory west of the Euphrates. That is probably why it is called Arabic (Arabi) from the word “western” (Gharbi). It influenced the Levant, and spread to Mecca and al-Higaz through trade and Christian evangelism.
It is important to distinguish between miracles of the almighty living God and accomplishments of natural human talents. The achievements of human talents and special abilities are not miracles. Some persons may be gifted physically—they have strong large bodies. Others may have strong photographic memories. Some are gifted in the area of languages. They have the natural ability to learn many languages, including unwritten dialects, quickly and retain them. Some are gifted in speech. They talk very well and make captivating speeches. Others may be gifted writers and poets. They author excellent prose and poetry. It is important to stress the fact that language fluency, authoring and speech abilities are human talents. They are not miracles of the living God. These gifted persons are not prophets of God.
Therefore, it is inappropriate to call any book a miracle because of its eloquent language. Great works of gifted authors and poets could not be called miracles. For instance, we cannot call the Eliad and the Odyssey, the great works of the illiterate blind Greek poet Homer of the eighth century B.C., miracles. Neither can we call the plays of William Shakespeare, the great English writer of the sixteenth century A.D., miracles. By the same token, we could not consider the Qur’an a miracle, even if it were a great literary work, which it is not. The following analysis shows why the Qur’an is not a great literary work.
A. The Style of the Qur'an
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The style of the Qur’an is a blend of rhetorical rhymed prose and a lyrical structure particularly adaptable for oral recitation, which was a common and a favorite mode of composition in Arabia at Muhammad’s time. The rhymed prose which dominates the Quranic style adheres to no meter, and was utilized extensively by the soothsayers of pagan Arabia. Chaotic and flimsy level of assonance of soothsayers without coherent significance abound in the Qur’an (as-Saffat 37: 1-4; at-Tur 52: 1-7; al-Jinn 72: 1-7; an-Nazi’at 79: 1-6; at-Tariq 86: 1-4; al-Fajr 89: 1-4; al-Balad 90: 1-4; al-Lail 92: 1-4; al-‘Adiyat 100: 1-6; etc.). The Qur’an does not provide replies to several oaths (Sad 38: 1-2; Qaf 50: 1-2; al-Fajr 89: 1-4; etc.). The text of the Qur’an is written in the first, second and third persons (al-Fatihah 1: 5-7; al-Baqarah 2: 8-10; as-Sajdah 32: 4-10; etc.). The Qur’an is in the dialect and style of the tribe of Quraysh of the sixth and seventh centuries Arabia, and therefore, does not reflect an independent heavenly source (Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, p. 228).
The rhyme is regularly maintained in the Qur’an. This often causes distortion and ambiguity in the Qur’anic text by the derangement of the order of words, by distorting nouns, and by changing verbal forms (e.g. using the imperfect instead of the perfect tense). In order to save the rhyme mount Sinai is called mount Sinin in Surah al-Tin 95: 2 instead of mount Sina’ as in Surah al-Mu’minun 23: 20. Similarly, Elijah is called Ilyasin in Surah al-Saffat 37: 130 instead of Ilyas as in Surah al-An’am 6: 85 and Surah al-Saffat 37: 123. In certain instances, the substance is modified to suit the requirements of the rhyme. In al-Balad 90: 1-4, the oath is negated, which confuses the meaning. In Surah al-Haqqah 69: 17, the unusual number of eight is used for the angels bearing the throne of God, because the Arabic word for “eight” fits the rhyme of the passage perfectly. This is despite the fact that the number “eight” has no theological significance. Surah al-Rahman 55: 46ff speaks of two heavenly gardens, each has two fountains and two kinds of fruits, etc. The number “two” is used simply because the Arabic dual termination “an” corresponds to the syllable that controls the rhyme of the whole Surah.
Although Arabia’s pre-Islamic history ended with the country still on the fringes of civilization, the sixth century AD saw the birth of Arabic literature, which was associated with the short-lived kingdom of Kinda (from about 480 to about 550 AD). Poetic talent flourished in the sixth and seventh centuries AD. The most famous poems were known as the seven golden odes. In fact, it was the custom of poets and orators of that time to hang up their compositions on the Kaaba in Mecca for every one to read and recite. That is why they were known as the hangings (al-Muallaqat). A famous poem of the poet Imru’ al-Qais (d. 540) was published in that way. Several lines of that poem are found in the Qur’an (al-Qamar 54: 1, 29, 31; ad-Duha 93: 1, 2; al-Anbiya 21: 96; al-Saffat 37: 61). In addition, words, thoughts and style of known poets and orators contemporary with Muhammad are found in the Qur’an. A few examples of those are Qus ibn Sa’idah al-Ayadi (d. 600), Qamaia ibn Abi al-Salat (d. 624), al-Haseen ibn Hamam (d. 611) [al-A’raf 7: 8, 9], and Antara al-Abasi (d. 610). Not only some of the works of contemporary poets and orators are found in the Qur’an, but also men like Nadir ibn Haritha (Canon Sell, Studies, p. 208), Hamzah ibn Ahed, and Musailama (McClintock and Strong, Cyclopedia, V:152) produced works like, and qualitatively better than, the Qur’anic text in eloquence. In addition, according to the Qur’an, the jinn (al-Hijr 15: 27 tells about creating the jinn from fire) contributed almost a whole chapter (Surah) into the Qur’an. It is Surah 72, and it is called by their name: Surah al-Jinn. Most of the verses in this Surah are words of the jinn, but the style is that of the Qur’an. Furthermore, Satan contributed into Surah al-Najm his satanic verses (al-Najm 53: 19-23), which were subsequently deleted.
Therefore, it is concluded that the challenge of the Qur’an to produce something like it: “Say: ‘Surely if men and Jinn were to gather together to produce the like of this Qur-an they could not produce its like, even if they backed up each other with help and support’” (al-Isra’ 17: 88; al-Baqarah 2: 23; Yunus 10: 38) was successfully and convincingly met both in the jahilia before Muhammad and during the time of Muhammad by Arab poets and orators, as well as by the jinn and Satan. In fact, Ali Dashti, the famous Iranian-Arab Muslim scholar, stated the following in his book, “Twenty Three Years: A study of the Prophetic Career of Muhammad,” Allen and Unwin, London, 1985:
"Among the Muslim scholars of the early period, before bigotry and hyperbole prevailed, were some such as Ebrahim an-Nazzam who openly acknowledged that the arrangement and syntax of the Qur'an are not miraculous and that works of equal or greater value could be produced by other God-fearing persons" (p. 48).
"It is widely held that the blind Syrian poet Abu'l-`Ala al-Ma'arri (979-1058) wrote his Ketab al-fosul wa' l-ghayat, of which a part survives, in imitation of the Qur'an" (p. 48).
"The Qur'an contains sentences which are incomplete and not fully intelligible without the aid of commentaries; foreign words, unfamiliar Arabic words, and words used with other than the normal meaning; adjectives and verbs inflected without observance of the concords of gender and number; illogically and ungrammatically applied pronouns which sometimes have no referent; and predicates which in rhymed passages are often remote from the subjects. These and other such aberrations in the language have given scope to critics who deny the Qur'an's eloquence. The problem also occupied the minds of devout Moslems. It forced the commentators to search for explanations and was probably one of the causes of disagreement over readings" (p. 48, 49).
Upon careful reading of the Qur’an, one realizes that many of the longer Suras are made up of passages from Muhammad's mission both at Mecca and at Medina. Within these composite long Surahs, the subject of the text varies from legal restriction to prophetic narratives, from ethical teaching to praises to God, etc., coupled with numerous catch-phrases. More often than not the different subjects of the longer Surahs have no logical connection with each other at all. Therefore, the Qur'an is quite a disjointed book. It is a collection of fragmentary texts and passages compiled into an unharmonious whole without respect to sequence, subject or theme.
B. Imperfect Grammar
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Although the Qur’an states that it is in clear perfect Arabic tongue (al-Nahl 16: 103; al-Shu’ara’ 26: 195; al-Zumar 39: 28; al-Shura 42: 7; al-Zukhruf 43: 3), it could not be considered perfectly eloquent because of its imperfect Arabic grammar, its usage of foreign words, and its spelling errors. It contains many grammatical errors. The following are a few examples of these errors: al-Ma’idah 5: 69 (the Arabic word Alsabeoun should be Alsabieen); al-Baqarah 2: 177 (the Arabic word alsabireen should be alsabiroon); al-Imran 3: 59 (the Arabic word fayakoon should be fakaana); al-Baqarah 2: 17, 80, 124; al-A’raf 7: 56 (the Arabic word qaribun should be qaribtun); al-A’raf 7: 160 (the Arabic word asbatan should be sebtan); Ta Ha 20: 63 (the Arabic phrase Hazani Lasaherani should be Hazaini Lasahirieni); al-Hajj 22: 19 (the Arabic phrase ikhtasamu fi rabbihim should be ikhtasama fi rabbihima); al-Tawbah 9: 62, 69 (the Arabic word kalladhi should be kalladhina); al-Munafiqun 63: 10 (the Arabic word Akon should be Akoon); al-Nisa’ 4: 162 (the Arabic word Almuqimeen should be Almuqimoon); and al-Hujurat 49: 9 (the Arabic word eqtatalu should be eqtatala). Ali Dashti and Mahmud al-Zamakhshari (1075-1144), famous Muslim scholars, noted more than one hundred Quranic aberrations from the normal grammatical rules and structure of the Arabic language (Ali Dashti, Twenty Three Years: A study of the Prophetic Career of Muhammad, Allen and Unwin, London, 1985, p. 50).
The true almighty living God can easily produce a book which contains both perfect grammar and eloquence, without making grammatical mistakes. These mistakes argue against the divine origin of the Qur’an.
C. Foreign Words
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According to Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (d. 1505), the great Muslim philologist and commentator, and Arthur Jeffery in his book of The Foreign Vocabulary of The Qur’an (Lahore, Pakistan: al-Biruni, 1977), the Qur’an contains 107 (al-Suyuti) and 275 (Jeffery) foreign words taken from the Persian, Assyrian, Syriac, Hebrew, Greek, Coptic, and Ethiopian languages. The following are a few examples of these words:
Persian: Ara’ik and Istabraq (al-Kahf 18: 31) meaning couches and brocades respectively, Abariq (al-Waqi’ah 56: 18) meaning ewers, Ghassaqan (al-Naba’ 78: 25) meaning pus, Sijjil (al-Fil 105: 4) meaning baked clay;
Pahlavi: Huoris (ar-Rahman 55: 72), jinn (al-Jinn 72: 1);
Aramaic: Harut and Marut (al-Baqarah 2: 102), Sakina (al-Baqarah 2: 248) meaning God’s presence;
Hebrew: Ma’un (al-Ma’un 107: 7) meaning charity, Ahbar (al-Tawbah 9: 31) meaning Rabbis, Jahannam (an-Nisa’ 4: 115, 121) meaning hell;
Ethiopian: Mishkat (al-Nur 24: 35) meaning niche;
Syraic: Surah (al-Tawbah 9: 124) meaning chapter, Taghut (al-Baqarah 2: 257; al-Nahl 16: 36) meaning idols, Zakat (al-Baqarah 2: 110) meaning alms, Fir’awn (al-Muzzammil 73: 15) meaning Pharaoh;
Coptic: Tabut (al-Baqarah 2: 248) meaning ark.
In addition, a number of words in the Qur’an are neither Arabic, nor do they belong to any known language, e.g. kalala (an-Nisa’ 4: 12), Sijjin (al-Mutaffifin 83: 7-9), al-kawthar (al-Kawthar 108: 1), jizya (at-Tawbah 9: 29), etc.
Muhammad did not know the exact meaning of some of these foreign words, which were not arabized by his time. Therefore, he misused them. For instance, the Aramaic word “furqan” means “redemption.” Muhammad used it for “revelation” and “criterion” (e.g. al-Furqan 25: 1). The Aramaic word “Milla” means “word.” It was used for “religion” in the Qur’an (al-Baqarah 2: 120, 130, 135; etc). The word “Illiyun” (al-Mutaffifin 83: 18, 19) is from the Hebrew word “Elyon” which means “the most high.” Muhammad used it for “a heavenly book” (al-Mutaffifin 83: 20).
The earliest Islamic exegetes, especially those associated with ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas, a cousin of Muhammad, had a special interest in discovering the origin and meaning of the foreign words of the Qur’an. The true living God, the originator of all human languages, is certainly capable of perfect Arabic devoid of foreign words borrowed from other languages, especially in light of the fact that the Qur’an claims that it is his eternal speech in pure Arabic (at-Tawbah 9: 28; Joseph 12: 2; an-Nahl 16: 103)! Therefore, the divine origin of the Qur’an is questionable?
Some scholars think that the Qur’an was not originally written in Arabic at all, but was eventually rendered in Arabic to buttress the growing Arabic empire by providing it with a religious culture distinct from that of the Byzantines and Persians.
D. Spelling Errors
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The text of the Qur’an has many spelling errors, many of which are traceable back to its most ancient extant manuscripts of the end of the eighth century AD. This indicates that these serious mistakes had existed in the original texts. One wonders about the extent of other mistakes in the original that are not so obvious, and therefore, have gone undetected! This means that the Qur’an is not divinely protected from corruption as it claims. There are various printings of the Qur’an in circulation today (Indian, Pakistani, Swahili, Iranian, Egyptian, Turkish, etc). They are inconsistent in manipulating the spelling errors. Some printings delete an extra letter, while others silence it with a vowel mark., still others add a missing letter. The following are a few examples of these spelling mistakes in the Qur’an.
1. One of these very serious spelling errors changes the meaning drastically form “yes” to “no.” This is because, in many cases, the Arabic word “la” for negation is followed by an extra letter “alif.” The word “la” means “no,” while the Arabic letter “l” attached to a word means “certainly,” which is the opposite of “no.” A few examples of this serious mistake are found in these verses: al-Naml 27: 21; al-‘Imran 3: 158; al-Saffat 37: 68; al-Tawbah 9: 47; al-‘Imran 3: 167; al-Hashr 59: 13. Removing the extra alif after the word “la” corrects the reading.
2. The 1924 Egyptian text of the Qur’an contains over 9,000 small alifs marked above the letters it follows. This small alif is a modern invention used to correct thousands of mistakes in the earliest extant manuscripts of the Qur’an where the alifs are completely missing (al-Fatihah 1: 1-4, 6; al-Baqarah 2: 110, 126; Ta Ha 20: 63; etc). This indicates that the original text of the Qur’an contained all these mistakes. In fact, the opening statement of the Qur’an (In the name of Allah, the beneficient, the merciful) contains three errors of missing alifs: two are pronounced (Allah, alrahmaan) and one is silent (bism). The Arabic word for God (Allah) is spelled wrongly without the alif 2700 times. In the oldest manuscripts of the Qur’an, the Arabic word for man “al-ensaan” is written wrongly without the alif. This is corrected in some modern printings of the Qur’an by adding either the missing alif or a short “alif.” In some instances, the omitted alif changes the meaning significantly. For instance, in Muhammad 47: 4, the word “qutilu” without alif means “were killed,” whereas the word “qaatalu” with alif means “fought.” In addition, excess alifs are silenced by the vowl mark of sukun to correct the spelling (al-Tawbah 9: 47; Hud 11: 68; al-Furqan 25: 38; al-Ankabut 29: 38; al-Najm 53: 51; al-A’raf 7: 103; Yunis 10: 75, 83; Hud 11: 97; al-Mu’minun 23: 46; al-Qasas 28: 32; al-Zukhruf 43: 46; etc).
3. The Arabic “shadda” is a later addition that indicates doubling the sound of the consonant. There are disagreements on its use. In fact, the 1924 Egyptian edition contains over 3380 shaddas more than those in the 1909 Turkish edition of the Qur’an (al-Baqarah 2: 78; etc). In some instances the addition of a shadda changes the meaning of the verse. For instance, two opposing doctrines are derived from al-Baqarah 2: 222 depending on the presence or absence of the shadda. If the word “yathurna” without shadda is used, the verse indicates that sexual intercourse with a menstruating woman is permitted at the expiry of her period, but before she has cleansed herself. However, if the same word with the shadda “yattahirna” is used, the verse will indicate that intercourse is permitted only after the menstruating woman has cleansed herself? Again, with shadda, the word “wakaffalaha” in al-‘Imran 3: 37 indicates that Zakariya looked after Mary. Without shadda, the word “wakafalaha” indicates that God appointed Zakariya to look after her. In fact, the shadda in the word “Allaah” is a mistake because it adds a third letter “l” to the word making it “Alllaah.”
4. Excess letters are silenced or simply ignored. For instance, the excess waw is silenced by hamza in al-Ma’idah 5: 29; the excess “l” in al-An’am 6: 32 is ignored; so is the excess “dal” in al-Ma’idah 5: 89; etc. In addition, there are many examples of missing letters: missing “ya” from al-A’raf 7: 196; Quraysh 106: 2; etc; missing waw from al-Zukhruf 43: 13; al-Isra’ 17: 7; al-Ma’arij 70: 13; etc; missing nun from al-Anbiya’ 21: 88; Yusuf 12: 11; and missing sin from al-Baqarah 2: 245; al-A’raf 7: 69; etc.
5. The Arabic letter “y” is pronounced as the long vowel “a” if its two dots are omitted. This is treated differently in various modern printings of the Qur’an, as there are disagreements on how it should be handled. Examples on this problem are: al-‘Imran 3: 28; al-Baqarah 2: 98; al-Dhariyat 51: 47; Fussilat 41: 20; al-Kahf 18: 70.
6. The Arabic letter “t” should be corrected and written with the Arabic letter “h” with two dots over it in these verses: al-‘Imran 3: 61;al-A’raf 7: 56; al-Nur 24: 7; etc.
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As we discussed above, Arabic eloquence was common in Muhammad’s time among both the literate and illiterate alike. There is a strong evidence that Muhammad was literate. He was a successful merchant that knew how to read numbers which were written in letters. He also wrote several letters to kings and heads of states inviting them to Islam. The Qur’an says he was literate in Surah al-‘Alaq 96: 1-5; al-Nahl 16: 98; al-Isra’ 17: 14, 45, 106; and al-Furqan 25: 5. The Arabic word “ummy” in Surah al-Imran 3: 20; al-Jum’ah 62: 2; and al-A’raf 7: 157-158 does not mean illiterate. It means those who do not know the Jewish and Christian Scriptures (the Holy Bible). However, even if Muhammad were illiterate, the alleged eloquence of the Qur’an, which is in imperfect Arabic and an inferior literary production as we explained above, is not extraordinary in its historical context.
In addition, the above proves definitively that the Islamic claim about the linguistic perfection of the Qur’an is false and has no foundation in truth. Therefore, linguistically the Qur’an is not miraculous. In fact, the presence of grammatical errors, spelling errors, and foreign words in the Qur’an are strong arguments against its divine origin. The true almighty omniscient God of this universe could certainly produce a book containing both perfect grammar and eloquence at the same time, without having to sacrifice one for the other.
III. VARIANT VERSIONS AND READINGS
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There has never been a definitive text of the Qur’an because of the problem of variant versions and variant readings. Muhammad did not know about his impending death. Therefore, he did not compile a complete manuscript of the Qur’an before his sudden death. An unanswered question that imposes itself is this: if the Qur’an were inspired, why did not the angel Gabriel or another angel order Muhammad to collect it before his death?
After Muhammad’s unexpected death in 632 AD, many of his followers attempted to gather the Qur’an and write it in a codex. As a result, different codices of several scholars emerged, such as those of ibn Mas’ud, ‘Ubay ibn Ka’b, ‘Ali, Abu Bakr, Abu Musa al-Ash’ari, Miqdad ibn al-Aswad, and others. Eventually, Qur’anic codices appeared in the metropolitan centers of Mecca, Medina, Damascus, Kufa, and Basra. There were wide divergences between those codices. Significant parts of the Qur’an were obtained form its reciters and memorizers, not from manuscripts. The accuracy of those codices is questionable because many reciters and memorizers of the Qur’an had already been killed in the battles of the war of the apostasies (ridda), which raged for seven months in Arabia in 633 AD right after the death of Muhammad. In fact, portions of the Qur'an were irretrievably lost in the Battle of Yamama when about 450 of the companions of Muhammad who had memorized the text of the Qur’an had perished:
“Many (of the passages) of the Qur'an that were sent down were known by those who died on the day of Yamama ... but they were not known (by those who) survived them, nor were they written down, nor had Abu Bakr, Umar or Uthman (by that time) collected the Qur'an, nor were they found with even one (person) after them” (Ibn Abi Dawud, Kitab al-Masahif, p.23).
In addition, oral transmission, that those codices largely depended upon, does not have a high degree of accuracy.
In fact, Aisha, youngest wife of Muhammad, testified that certain verses of the Qur’an on suckling and stoning were lost (Muslim 8.3421). Second caliph ‘Umar bin al-Khattab stated emphatically that certain verses, including the verse of stoning adulterers, were lost (Bukhari 8.82.816-817; 9. .424; 4.52.299; 5.59.416, 421; Muslim 5.2286).
According to “Legal Opinions” (part 1, p. 102) of Sheikh Kishk:
“The four most important commentators were ibn ‘Abbas, ibn Mas’ud, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, and ‘Ubay ibn Ka’b al-Ansari”
However, according to Bukhari 6.61.510, the caliph ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan (644-656 AD) commanded Zayd ibn Thabit together with Abdullah ibn Zubair, Sa’id ibn al-‘As and Abdul-Rahman ibn al-Harith to collect and edit the Qur’an without consulting with those knowledgeable commentators and other important companions of Muhammad who were excluded from the committee. The literary proficiency of most of those men, whom ‘Uthman assigned to the task, was doubtful because they were more tribal chieftains than men of literature. Probably, a few of them were literate. According to Islamic tradition, ‘Uthman’s text of the Qur’an was largely based on the text of the Qur’an in the possession of Hafsah (one of the wives of Muhammad and the daughter of ‘Umar bin al-Khattab). Other important Qur’anic codices were ignored. These important codices differed radically from Hafsah’s text, often agreeing with the text of ibn Mas’ud instead. Many of these differences are documented in Arthur Jeffery’s book of “Material for the History of the Text of the Qur’an.” Some of these variations involve whole clauses, and omission of whole sentences. These substantial differences have nothing to do with the seven different readings (sab’at ahruf) of the Qur’an in which Islamic tradition maintains the Qur’an was revealed. The differences among these seven readings are supposed to be purely dialectical relating to the different dialects (pronunciations) of Arab tribes. In fact, the seven different readings were never defined, and the Qur’an denies their existence (Maryam 19: 97; ad-Dukhan 44: 58). Muhammad recited the Qur’an in only one way. Ibn Mas’ud was excluded from the committee despite the fact that Muhammad himself had considered him one of the best authorities on the Qur’an:
“Learn the recitation of the Qur’an from four: Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, Salim, the freed slave of Abu Hudhaifa, Mu’adh ibn Jabal, and Ubai ibn Ka’b” (Bukhari 5.57.104; 6.61.521, 522, 524).
It is significant that Muhammad did not mention Zaid ibn Thabit in this list.
As a result, the two full chapters (Surahs) of al-Hafd and al-Khal’, which were in the Qur’anic versions of ‘Ubay ibn Ka’b, ibn ‘Abbas (a cousin of Muhammad) and Abu Musa, were eliminated. In addition, Surah al-Fatihah (1), Surah al-Falaq (113) and Surah al-Nas (114) were added (al-Suyuti, al-Itqan fi ‘Ulum al-Qur’an, part 1, pp. 221-2). Those Surahs were not in ibn Mas’ud codex. More than 200 verses were dropped from Surah al-Ahzab (33) (al-Suyuti, al-Itqan, part 3, p.72). Al-Suyuti records the two deleted chapters (Surahs) of al-Hafd and al-Khal’ in their entirety in his “al-Itqan,” part 1, p. 185.
Twenty years after Muhammad’s death, the caliph ‘Uthman codified the revised Medinan codex and ordered the destruction of all other codices in order to standardize the consonantal text of the Qur’an. However, many different consonantal texts survived well into the tenth century AD as many Muslims rejected ‘Uthman’s text in favor of their own texts of the Qur’an. In fact, Abdullah ibn ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab said: “Let no one of you say that he has acquired the entire Qur’an for how does he know that it is all? Much of the Qur’an has been lost, thus let him say, ‘I have acquired of it what is available’” (al-Suyuti, al-Itqan, part 3, p.72). ‘Uthman’s order of the destruction of all Qur’anic codices resulted in the eventual destruction of very important primary sources of the Qur’an including the codex of Ali ibn Abi Talib (Muhammad’s cousin and son in law), the codex of Ubai ibn Ka’b, and the codex of Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud. The codex of Hafsah was destroyed after her death by Marawan ibn al-Hakam, the governor of Medina. If those early Qur’anic codices were substantially consistent with the codex of ‘Uthman, there would have been no compelling reason to destroy them. Their destruction confirms that they differed significantly from the Qur’an of ‘Uthman.
It is important to stress the fact that the Qur’an ‘Uthman standardized was what was selected by his committee of four fallible men according to their own human judgment, and not according to revelation from God. The brutal assassination of the eighty-six-year-old caliph ‘Uthman was partially motivated by accusation of tampering with the Qur’an. Muslims refused to pray on his corpse and to bury it in an Islamic cemetery. Instead, it was buried on the third day of his death in a Jewish cemetery. The Shiite Muslims claim that ‘Uthman left out 25% of the Qur’an for political reasons. Arthur Jeffery and other western scholars have shown definitively that ‘Uthman’s text did not contain all of the Qur’an. Neither was the wording it contained fully accurate.
Following the example of ‘Uthman, al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf (661-714 AD), the ‘Umayyad governor of Iraq at Kufa (694-714), produced another heavily edited official edition of the Qur’an wherein he omitted many passages for political reasons in the reign of the ‘Umayyad caliph Abdul Malik ibn Marawan. He was proud of inserting more than 1000 alifs (the first letter of the Arabic alphabet) in the Qur’anic text. He then ordered the destruction of all the preceding copies of the Qur’an, and distributed six copies of the revised text to Egypt, Syria, Medina, Mecca, Kufa, and Basra.
The problem was aggravated by a serious deficiency in the written text of the Qur’an. The Qur’an was written in the Kufi script without diacritical points and without vowel marks. The result of this deficiency is that a trilateral word could be read in 69 different ways. This caused disputes among Islamic scholars on the meaning of a large number of words. To illustrate this serious problem: by changing the diacritical points, the Arabic letter “b” could change to “t,” “th,” “n,” or “y.” Similarly, unpointed, these Arabic letters are indistinguishable from one another: f and q; j, h, and kh; d and th; r and z; s and sh; s and dh; etc. This means that nine consonantal symbols in the Arabic alphabet represented twenty-two of the entire twenty-eight letters of the Arabic language. The Arabic words “rich” and “stupid” are indistinguishable from each other without the diacritical points. By changing the vowel marks in al-Tawbah 9: 3, it will read as follows: “God is under no obligation to the idolaters and his apostle” instead of “God and his apostle are under no obligation to the idolaters.” The differences in readings have led to differences in Islamic law (al-Suyuti, al-Itqan, part 1, pp. 226-229). For instance, some Islamic scholars demand that a worshipper wash himself again (ablution) before he prays if he has shaken hands with a woman. Others require him to do so only after sexual intercourse. This disagreement resulted from the uncertainty about a vowel in a word in al-Nisa’ 4: 43, whether it is a long vowel or not. Many years after Muhammad’s death, men like al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, Abu al-Aswad al-Du’ali, Nasr ibn ‘Asim and al-Khalil ibn Ahmad applied the diacritical points and vowel marks to the Qur’anic text. The obvious major problem with that is this: by what authority those men did that, because they were not inspired from God?
The New Testament (Injil) does not have this problem because it was written in the common Greek language which had been highly developed and complete at least two centuries before the time of Christ. The Greek language does not have diacritical points or vowel marks.
Thirty-five versions of the Qur’an are known to have existed and to have been accepted in early Islam. Eventually, under the influence of the Islamic scholar ibn Mujahid (d. 935 AD) at Baghdad, one system of consonants was canonized, and a limit was placed on the variations of vowels. This resulted in seven systems of readings providing fourteen versions of the Qur’an, as each of the seven was traced through two different transmitters as follows:
1. Nafi’ of Medina (d. 785 AD) according to Warsh and Qalun
2. Ibn Kathir of Mecca (d. 737 AD) according to al-Bazzi and Qunbul
3. Ibn ‘Amir of Damascus (d. 736 AD) according to Hisham and Ibn Dhakwan
4. Abu ‘Amr of Basra (d. 770 AD) according to al-Duri and al-Suri
5. Abu Bakr ‘Asim of Kufa (d. 778 AD) according to Hafz and Ibn 'Ayyash
6. Hamza of Kufa (d. 772) according to Khalaf and Khallad
7. Al-Qisa’i of Kufa (d. 804 AD) according to al-Duri and Abu’l Harith
(Cyril Glassé, The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1989, p. 324).
It is important to emphasize that these versions of the Qur’an are not merely different modes of recitation, because they contain real and substantial differences in the text, which affect its meaning. It is also important to keep in mind that these versions were arbitrarily selected from many different versions of the Qur’an by ibn Mujahid at his own personal discretion and judgment. Other Islamic scholars accepted ten systems of readings for the Qur’an, and still others accepted fourteen systems of readings. At the end, three versions prevailed for unknown reasons: those of Warsh (d. 812) from Nafi’ of Medina, Hafz (d. 805) from ‘Asim of Kufa, and al-Duri (d. 860) from Abu ‘Amr of Basra. Presently, two versions of the Qur’an seem to be in use: that of ‘Asim of Kufa through Hafz (adopted in the Egyptian edition of the Qur’an in 1924), and that of Nafi’ of Medina through Warsh (used in other parts of north Africa: Algeria, Morocco, parts of Tunisia, West Africa and Sudan).
Both Western, and Muslim Sunni and Shiite scholars admit to the presence of variant and conflicting versions of the Qur’an. In his book of “Materials for the History of the Text of the Qur’an,” Arthur Jeffery provides 350 pages of details on variant readings of the text of the Qur’an in the various codices in existence at the time of ‘Uthman before he standardized the revised Medinan codex. One of the most famous works of the Shiite leaders on the distortion of the Qur’an is: "The Abridgment on the Distortion of the Book of the Lord of Lords" by Imam Al-Nuri. The writer states in the preface, "This is a kind book and a creditable treatise, which proves the distortion of the Qur’an and brings to light the shameful deeds of the injurious and the unjust." He then concludes that: "When these general and particular accounts are considered closely, we learn, from their literal or suggested meaning, that the Qur’an now existing between the hands of the Muslims in the East and the West as it is bound by two jackets, and according to its collection and arrangement, was not so during the life of the messenger." He provided the sayings of more than twelve fundamentalist scholars who admitted the distortion of the Qur’an, such as Al-Kalleeni and Al-Majlisi, in their book "The Mirror of Minds," Muhammad Ibn Hasan Al-Sairafi in his book "Distortion and Substitution," and Ahmad Ibn Muhammad in his book "The Distortoin." All the historical evidences confirm the conclusion that, despite the claims of the Qur’an to the contrary in al-Hijr 15: 9, al-An’am 6: 34; and al-Buruj 85: 21-22; the Qur’an has not been preserved absolutely intact to the last dot and letter. It is not a photographic copy of the original. To those that believe in the divine origin of the Qur’an, the question is: which version of the Qur’an, and why?
The problem of authenticity of the Qur’anic text is even graver for the Hadith which transmits the Sunnah (the deeds and sayings of Muhammad). The Sunnah is very essential because it interprets the Qur’an, elaborates on it, and acts as a secondary source of authority that supplements it by addressing issues not addressed in the Qur’an. It is essential to understand the Qur’an as it provides its historical context and chronology. This second source of Islam is considered a preserved revelation (thikr): “Whatever the apostle gives you, accept it; and whatever he forbids you, abstain from it. Have fear of God; God is stern in retribution” (al-Hashr 59: 7b). However, confusion reigns. In fact, the Shiite Muslims adhere to their own collection of ahadith, and regard many of the Sunni ahadith as forged and corrupted. The second caliph ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab forbade collecting the Sunnah. The first collections were allowed under caliph ‘Umar II (‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz) 90 years after Muhammad’s death. It contained merely 138 ahadith.
The most authentic Sunni hadith collections are those of Imam Bukhari (810-870 AD), about 200 years after Muhammad’s death, and Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj (818-875 AD). The central Shia Hadith collection is that of al-Kulayni (d. 939 AD). These collections of a few thousand ahadith were made from several hundred thousand circulating ahadith. The Sunnah and the basic principles for evaluating it were established by the personal judgment of scholars (ijtihad), not by revelation from God. Nothing about it is certain. Islamic scholars grade individual ahadith according its chain of transmitters (isnad), and its harmony with the Qur’an. However, there are indications that isnads were forged. Many ahadith circulated for considerable period before the eighth century without isnads. Ahadith were fabricated in order to support one party or another among early Muslim factions in the heat of political and religious controversies. As a result, the ahadith are riddled with contradictions. For example, al-Bukhari recorded that ablution is performed by washing the body parts only once (Bukhari 1.4.159), or twice (Bukhari 1.4.160), or thrice (Bukhari 1.4.165)? Muhammad forbade killing women and children in Muslim 19.4320, but permitted it in night raids in Muslim 19.4321. There are major disagreements and conflicts among major Islamic schools of interpretation and the great scholars of Islam on the authenticity of many ahadith. And opinions of scholars change over time. A great disagreement exists on the number of abrogated ahadith—somewhere between 27 and 99? This means that Islam has no definitive knowledge of what it claims to be the perfect and final revelation of all times
The following webpages provide additional information on the subject
1. Truth Unchanged, Texts Unchanging?
2. A perfect Qur’an?
3. The Codification of the Qur’an’s Text.
4. Materials for the history of the Text of the Qur’an.
5. The Collection of the Qur’an--from the hadiths.
6. The Foreign Vocabulary of the Qur’an.
7. Challenge to the Muslims Concerning the Quran.
IV. ARCHEOLOGICAL DISCOVERIES
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The earliest extant Qur’anic quotations were discovered on coins that date back to 685 A.D., and in the earliest inscriptions in the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem—the farthest mosque built in 691 A.D. by Abdul-Malik ibn Marawan (Crone-Cook, 1977, p. 18). However, these quotations are different from the text of the Qur’an of today. According to Van Berchem and Grohmann, who studied extensively the Dome of the Rock's earliest inscriptions, these inscriptions contain “variant verbal forms, extensive deviances, as well as omissions form the text which we have today” (Cook, Muhammad, 1983, p. 74; Crone-Cook 1977, pp. 167-168; see Van Berchem, part two, vol. ii, 1927, pp. 215-217 and Grohmann’s Arabic Papyri form Khirbet el-Mird, no. 72 to delineate where these variances are).
The earliest reference from outside traditional Islamic sources to a book called the Qur’an occurs around the year 710 in a discussion between an Arab and a monk of Bet Hale (Nau 1915, pp. 6f). However, this reference does not define the contents of the book, and mentions surah al-Baqarah, the Qur’an’s longest surah, as a separate stand-alone book. So does John of Damascus writing around 730, and the Islamic chronicler Qatada ibn Diama (d. 735). We do not have any Qur’anic manuscripts from the period prior to the first quarter of the eighth century (A. Schimmel, Calligraphy and Islamic Culture, 1984, p. 4). In fact, most of the Qur’anic manuscript fragments are dated more than 100 years after Muhammad’s death. Evidence of the ‘Uthmanic recension of the Qur’an does not exist (Gilchrist, Jam’ al-Qur’an, 1989, pp. 140-154; Martin Lings and Yasin Hamid Safadi, The Qur’an, 1976, pp. 11-17).
The earliest extant Qur’anic manuscripts are:
1. The Samarqand Manuscript (Tashkent’s State Library, Uzbekhistan). It includes only parts of surahs al-Baqarah 2 through al-Zukhruf 43 with much missing text. It contains verses which differ from the Qur’anic text of today (Brother Mark, A Perfect Qur’an, p. 67).
2. Topkapi Manuscript (Topkapi Museum, Istanbul, Turkey). Scholars are not allowed to photocopy and analyze this manuscript.
Both of these manuscripts are written in the Kufi script which appeared in late eighth century A.D. and was not in use in Mecca and Medina in the seventh century (Martin Lings and Yasin Hamid Safadi, The Qur’an, 1976, pp. 12-13, 17). Both of these manuscripts date back to the late eighth century or early ninth century—more than 150 years after the ‘Uthmanic recension was supposedly compiled (Gilchrist, Jam’ al-Qur’an, 1989, pp. 144-147).
In addition to the above manuscripts, the following records are found:
1. A Qur’anic manuscript written in the Ma’il script, which was used around the Hijaz (the British Museum in London, U.K.). It is dated by Dr. Martin Lings (a practicing Muslim) toward the end of the eighth century A.D.
2. The Sana’a fragments (Yemen). These fragments are dated to the eighth century A.D. They were discovered in the ancient Great Mosque of Sana’a in 1972. The Sana’a single page fragments do not contain a complete collection of the Qur’an. The Qur’an it contains differs from the Qur’anic text of today. Upon close examination, it becomes evident that its Qur’anic text was altered. New script had been written over earlier washed-off versions (Toby Lester, What Is the Koran, The Atlantic Monthly, Jan. 1999). This suggests that the text of the Qur’an evolved over decades of time. It was not a fixed text from its beginning.
The archeological evidence does not indicate the existence of a canonical Qur’an similar to the Qur’an of today in the seventh century A.D. In addition, archeologists have not found any fragments of any hadith that are datable within a century of Muhammad’s death.
The following webpage provides additional information on the subject
1. Is The Qur'an Preserved and Unchanged Revelation from Allah?
V. SCIENTIFIC PROBLEMS
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The following are a few examples of scientific problems in the Qur’an:
1. Mountains as earth stabilizers. The Qur’an states that mountains anchor the earth so that it does not shake: “And we have set on the earth firm mountains (rawasiya), lest it should shake with them” (al-Anbiya 21: 31a); “Have we not made the earth an expanse, and the mountains tent pins” (al-Naba’ 78: 6-7; Luqman 31: 10-11; al-Nahl 16: 15; al-Naml 27: 61; al-Fatir 35: 41 Qaf 50: 7; al-Ghashiyah 88: 17, 19). This claim is false because earthquakes are always associated with the formation of mountains. Modern science tells us that mountains are formed either by collisions of the plates of the Earth’s crust, or by volcanic eruptions. Both events cause earthquakes. In fact, the earth is not stationary and is not motionless as the Qur’an claims. Nothing anchors the Earth as it spins around itself and revolves freely around the sun in space. This is described accurately in the Holy Bible more than 2000 years before this scientific knowledge became known: “He (God) hangs the earth on nothing” (Job 26: 7b).
2. The sunset. The Qur’an claims that the sun sets in a spring of murky waters: “Till he (Dhu al-Qarnain) reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water” (al-Kahf 18: 86a). Muhammad believed in the literal meaning of that verse (al-Zamakhshari, Kashshaf, vol. 2, p. 743, 3rd edition, 1987). This claim is a major scientific error. Modern science tells us that the sun is much larger and hotter than the earth. If the earth approaches the sun, it will vaporize from the intense heat of the sun. This fallacy is similar to legends of Muhammad’s time.
3. The sequence of creation. The Qur’an provides contradictory accounts for the sequence of creation. According to al-Sajdah 41: 9-12 and al-Baqarah 2: 29, the earth was created first and heaven last. However, the order of creation is reversed in al-Nazi’at 79: 27-30. Modern science tells us that space, galaxies, and stars (the heavens) had been formed first. After that, planets were formed in the vicinity of some stars. In fact, the sun and the solar system were formed some ten billion years after the primordial Big Bang that had formed the heavens. The Holy Bible provides the correct sequence of creation of heaven and earth: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1: 1), and of plant and animal life on earth (Genesis 1: 11-13, 20-27).
4. Creation in pairs. The Qur’an states: “And
We have created pairs of every thing, that you may
contemplate” (al-Dhariyat 51: 49; al-Zukhruf 43: 12). This means
that all things are in twos: male and female, day and night, etc.
Modern science tells us this is not true:
a. Certain type of lizards (Chemidophoras) multiply asexually. They do not have male and female pairs.
b. Single cell bacteria and yeast organisms multiply asexually by division. Again, they do not have male and female pairs.
c. European Elodea plants are of one kind and have no pairs. They multiply by vegetative amplification.
5. Seven earths. According the Qur’an, God created seven heavens and seven earths (at-Talaq 65: 12; Bukhari 4.54.418, 420; 3.43.632-634). Scientific observations prove definitively that there is only one earth. The entire solar system has nine planets, including earth. This wrong concept originated from uncanonical apocryphal Jewish material.
6. Milk and honey. The cow’s milk does not come from between its bowls and blood as stated in an-Nahl 16: 66. The honey does not come out of the bee’s abdomen as stated in an-Nahl 16: 69.
7. The Earth is flat. The Qur’an claims that the Earth is flat (al-Ghashiyah 88: 20)? It is a scientific fact that planet earth is not flat.
VI. STAGES OF PRENATAL DEVELOPMENT
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The Qur’anic statements on prenatal development have several major scientific problems:
1. It states that the fetus develops from the man’s semen only without mentioning anywhere that the woman’s ovum is necessary for conception: “We created man from a product of wet earth; then We placed him a drop (of semen) in a firmly established lodging; then We made the drop into a clot of congealed blood; then of that clot We made a lump; then We made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then We developed out of it another creation” (al-Mu’minun 23: 12-14); “Was he not an emitted drop of semen” (al-Qiyamah 75: 37-39; al-Mu’min 40: 67; al-Hajj 22: 5; al-‘Alaq 96: 2).
2. In these same verses, it states that man is made from a “clot of blood” (congealed blood__’alaqa).
3. These verses present the stages of prenatal development
as follows: a drop of semen (nutfa), blood clot (‘alaqa), mudagha
(lump of flesh), bones (‘adaam), and flesh on top of the bones.
Several scientific errors are obvious:
(i) The woman’s ovum, which is not mentioned, is required for conception.
(ii) There is no stage of blood clot in the development of the human embryo.
(iii) The development of the bones occurs several weeks after the development of the flesh and muscles has progressed. The muscles and cartilage form first and make the fetus capable of some muscular movement before the beginning of the formation of bones. There is no bone formation stage where the limbs of the fetus are bare bones around which muscles will subsequently form.
These Qur’anic statements reflect the common knowledge of antiquity in Arabia and elsewhere, which predated the time of Muhammad. In fact, these erroneous ideas originated from a Greek doctor named Galen who lived in Asia Minor (present day Turkey) about 450 years before the time of Muhammad. This common primitive knowledge of antiquity is not true as science tells us today. It is erroneous.
4. The Qur’an provides that the length of a normal gestation is six months (Luqman 31: 14; al-Baqarah 2: 233; al-Ahqaf 46: 15). Luqman 31: 14 and al-Baqarah 2: 233 provide a nursing period of 24 months. Al-Ahqaf 46: 15 provides a total of 30 months for both gestation and nursing combined. This leaves only six months for the period of gestation. We know that this is not true. Normal gestation lasts nine months. An infant born prematurely after a gestation period of six months could not survive in seventh century Arabia as it requires special advanced incubators and medical knowledge to care for him and sustain his life after his premature birth. It certainly would not live forty years as the Qur’an claims in Al-Ahqaf 46: 15.
The following webpages provide additional information on the subject
1. Embryology in the Qur'an.
2. Embryology: The Qur’an and the Bible (1).
3. Embryology: The Qur’an and the Bible (2).
4. Embryology: The Qur’an and the Bible (3).
VII. THE CRUCIFIXION OF CHRIST
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In al-Nisa’ 4: 157-158, the Qur’an denies the crucifixion of Christ despite the fact that it is an essential foundational doctrine of the Christian faith, that dates back to the first century AD. The crucifixion of Christ is needed for the atonement and forgiveness of sins. The crucifixion of Christ is the fulfillment of many prophecies in the Old Testament (the Torah, etc.) which predated Christ by centuries. Christ himself prophesied about his crucifixion and resurrection from the dead. There can be no Christianity without the doctrine of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. In fact, it is the most important event in the history of the world. The crucifixion of Christ is a historical fact confirmed by both the New Testament (Injil: Matthew 27; Mark 14; Luke 23; John 19), and non-Christian historians as well. Jesus death is directly mentioned more than 150 times in the books of the New Testament of the Holy Bible. In fact, the doctrine of atonement is taught throughout the entire Holy Bible.
The Qur’anic claim that God substituted another man resembling Jesus on the cross makes the all-holy God a deceiver and a lier. The true living God does not deceive humankind. In addition, if God had taken Jesus to heaven before crucifixion in order to save him form it, then there was no reason to have someone else crucified in his place! The Qur’an itself mentions elsewhere in Surah al-‘Imran 3: 55 and Maryam 19: 33 Christ’s death and resurrection. In fact, many Muslim scholars agree that Christ had died, but differ on the length of his death: al-Baydawy (7 hours), ibn Abbas (3 hours), Wahab (3 hours), ibn Ishaq and Zamakhshari (7 hours). However, in order to reconcile these verses with Surah al-Nisa’ 4: 157-158 which claims that Jesus was not crucified but someone else was substituted for him on the cross, some Islamic commentators would like to change the chronological order of events by claiming that Jesus will come back again and die. This concept fails with the statement of al-Ma’idah 5: 117b: “And after you (God) caused me (Jesus) to die, you have been their overseer, and you are the witness of all things.” This verse uses the past tense for the death of Jesus. Therefore, according to this verse, Jesus’ death is a past, not a future, event. Sura al-Ma’idah was given after Sura al-Nisa’.
The legend of al-Nisa’ 4: 157-158 is implausible, because it demands total ignorance on the part of those closest to Jesus, who knew him very well and witnessed his crucifixion: his disciples, his own mother, and the Romans who crucified him. His crucifixion was a public event witnessed by many. Two of his disciples buried his dead body. The legend of al-Nisa’ 4: 157-158 is strikingly similar to the beliefs of Ebionites, a heretical Christian sect that existed in Mecca at the time of Muhammad. In fact, the cousin of Khadija (Muhammad’s first wife), Waraqa ibn Nofal, was the Ebionite Christian bishop of Mecca. All Christendom believes that Jesus was crucified, died, buried, and rose from the dead in the third day. He will come again in glory and power at the end of this age to judge the living and the dead. The annual miracle of the holy fire, which occurs on Orthodox Easter Saturday, is reminiscent of the resurrection of Christ.
Another problem of al-Nisa’ 4: 157 is that it claims that the unbelieving Jews said: “We killed the Christ (the Messiah) Jesus, the son of Mary, the apostle of Allah.” Those Jews, who demanded his crucifixion, could not have said that, because they never believed that Jesus was the Christ—the Messianic deliverer that was prophesied in the Torah and other Old Testament books. They demanded his crucifixion because they thought he was a false Messiah: “And they began to accuse Him, saying, ‘We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King’” (Luke 23: 2).
Theologians cite major problems with the traditional interpretation of al-Nisa’ 4: 157-158:
a) If no one can rely on his senses to know the truth, no one can know the truth. If God turned someone’s likeness into that of someone else, no one can believe what he sees with his own eyes. This leads to the collapse of divine laws, and the invalidation of prophecy. No eyewitness testimony could be believed. For instance, how can anyone believe that a prophet, and not someone else, taught what he had taught?
b) Jesus had the power to raise the dead and to heal the blind and leper. He certainly had the power to overcome his opponents and prevent them from causing him harm (Matthew 26: 52-54).
c) God is capable of raising Jesus to heaven without making someone else look like him, and be killed in his place?
d) If God had caused someone to look like Jesus and be crucified in his place, he would have people wrongly believe that Jesus was put to death. God does not confuse and deceive people?
e) Despite the Christians’ love for Christ, they have testified that they have seen him crucified. If we discredit what has been established by successive transmission, all the prophets are necessarily discredited.
f) According to eyewitness testimonies, the one who was crucified was alive on the cross for several hours before his death. If that was not Jesus, he would have surely shouted it out, and every one would have known that he had been crucified by mistake.
g) The Qur’an was written more than six centuries after the crucifixion of Jesus. The four gospels were written within 30-60 years of Jesus ascension to heaven. All of them emphasize the events of his crucifixion and resurrection.
Islamic theologians do not provide satisfactory solutions to these problems.
Some Islamists object to the crucifixion of Christ thinking that God would not allow his servant to suffer. This is human rationalization. We do not know the mind of God. God said through his prophet Isaiah: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord” (Isaiah 55: 8). Many godly prophets suffered persecutions. In addition, the Qur’an says that this objection is not valid, because many of the prophets and apostles were killed in the past (al-Baqarah 2: 87, 91; al-‘Imran 3: 21, 112, 181, 183; an-Nisa’ 4: 155; al-Ma’idah 5: 70). In fact, Jesus prevailed over his enemies when God raised him from the dead in the third day. “He (David the prophet), foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God . . .” (Acts 2: 31-33). By Christ’s death and resurrection, “. . . Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15: 54). The resurrection of Christ has demonstrated that God has accepted his sacrifice eternally. The death and resurrection of Christ manifest God’s mercy and justice towards fallen humanity: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5: 8). Jesus said: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15: 13). The cross of Christ points to God’s love for the sinner as well as his consistent hatred for sin. God’s greatness is demonstrated uniquely in his suffering love shown in Christ.
VIII. HISTORICAL PROBLEMS
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The holy Bible provides accurate history confirmed by modern archeological discoveries. However, the history narrated by the Qur’an has many problems and inaccuracies. In fact, the Qur’an has more than 55 historical errors. We present herein a few examples of historical problems in the Qur’an.
1. Solomon and the queen of Saba (Sheba).
The story of Solomon and the queen of Saba is presented in Surah of al-Naml 27: 15-44 as true history based on the style of narration and the Qur’anic accounts both before and after it. It is filled with talking birds, talking ants, a wise hoopoe that serves as courier, jinn and black magic (al-Anbiya’ 21: 82), all of which is fiction and fantasy, not true history. This story is very similar to the story of Solomon in ancient heretical Jewish sources (The Second Targum of Esther). It reminds us of the fables we find in the stories of the “Arabian Nights” where men may be turned into apes (al-Baqarah 2: 65; al-A’raf 7: 166). The Holy Bible tells us about Solomon, animals, and birds as follows: “Also he (Solomon) spoke of trees, from the cedar tree of Lebanon even to the hyssop that springs out of the wall; he spoke also of animals, of birds, of creeping things, and of fish. And men of all nations, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to hear the wisdom of Solomon” (1 Kings 4: 33-34). According to the Holy Bible (1 Kings 10: 1-13; 2 Chronicles 9: 1-12), the queen of Sheba visited Solomon in Jerusalem. She heard his wisdom, and he answered all her questions without difficulty. As a result, she believed in his true living God and glorified him: “Blessed be the LORD your God, who delighted in you, setting you on the throne of Israel” (1 Kings 10: 9a).
2. The tower of Babel and Haman.
The Qur’an states: “Pharaoh said: ‘O Nobles, you have no other god that I know of except myself. O Haman, make me bricks of baked clay, and build for me a tower that I may climb to the God of Moses, for I think he is a liar’” (al-Qasas 28: 38; al-Mu’min 40: 36-37). This tower does not exist in the land of Egypt as there are no ruins of a tower of this kind anywhere in Egypt today. It is a documented archeological fact that the pharaohs of ancient Egypt never built any towers. Instead, they built pyramids and huge temples. The building materials they used were massive stones hewn from rock quarries, and sun-dried bricks. Baked bricks of clay were not used in ancient Egypt at the time of Moses. According to the Holy Bible (Gen 11: 1-9), the tower that was built of baked bricks to reach the heavens was the tower of Babel in Chaldea (southern Iraq), not in Egypt. It was built after the flood of Noah many centuries before the time of the pharaohs of ancient Egypt and Moses. Therefore, the Qur’anic tower is an anachronism in the wrong country.
Another problem with Surah al-Qasas 28: 38; as well as al-‘Ankabut 29: 39 and al-Mu’min 40: 23-25, 36 is its claim that Haman was a minister of the pharaoh that reigned at the time of Moses. Historically, the name of Haman is a later name that was not used at the time of Moses. In fact, this name is not an Egyptian name, but uniquely Babylonian. Historical records and biblical testimony (Esther 3: 1) attest that Haman was the minister of the Persian king Ahasuerus (called Xerxes I by the Greeks) who reigned in 486-465 BC—about a thousand years after the time of Moses.
3. The golden calf.
According to Surah Ta Ha 20: 85-87, 95, a Samaritan proposed and built the golden calf for the Israelites in the wilderness. They worshipped it as their god. The problem is that the Samaritans did not exist at the time of Moses. The Samaritans came into existence after the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in Palestine to the Assyrian Empire in 722 BC, about seven centuries after the time of Moses.
4. The punishment of crucifixion.
The Qur’an states that the pharaoh that reigned at the time of Moses said: “I will cut off your hands and feet on alternate sides and then crucify you all” (al-A’raf 7: 124; al-Shu’ara’ 26: 49). This contradicts the historical fact that the punishment of crucifixion was not used by the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. In fact, Encyclopedia Britannica reports that “crucifixion did not exist any earlier than about 500 B.C.”—that is about 900 years after the time of Moses. Crucifixion was invented by the Assyrians.
5. Alexander the Great (356-323 BC).
Alexander the Great was the king of Macedonia (336-323 BC). He was a skilled military leader who established a great Greek empire in a short period of time. He died at the young age of 32. The Qur’an calls him Dhu al-Qarnain (the two-horned one, Concise Dictionary of Islam, p. 229), because that name was given to him by both Jews and Christians prior to Muhammad’s time, as he was the king of both the West and the East. In fact, ancient coins have been discovered portraying him with two horns. The Qur’an presents him as a righteous servant of God, to whom God spoke directly (al-Kahf 18: 83-98). History tells us he was not. In fact, he did not believe in God and did not worship him. He was a polytheist. He was a licentious, belligerent idolatrous man. He committed the worst apostasy by claiming to be god and by seeking to be revered as a god. In Egypt, he claimed to be the son of Amun, the pagan god of ancient Egypt at that time, and was worshipped as a god. Amun used to be represented by a ram with two prominent horns.
Again, contrary to the claims of the Qur’an, Alexander the Great did not travel West (al-Kahf 18: 86). He traveled East to West India and South to Egypt.
The third problem is that the Qur'an mentions that Alexander the Great built a huge impregnable rampart of iron and brass between two mountains, that will last to the end of time (al-Kahf 18: 94-96). However, this structure is no where to be found. It had not existed and did not exist anywhere on the face of the earth. The absence of this colossal structure brings to question the validity of the Qur'an?
The tale of Alexander the Great in the Qur’an is very similar to a fictional legend composed poetically by the Syrian Mar Jacob of Serugh before 521 AD based on an ancient legend on Alexander the Great.
6. Disfigurement of names.
Many historical names are arbitrarily altered in the Qur’an, quite often, for unknown reasons. This tends to cause confusion and uncertainty. The following are a few examples of disfigurement of names:
From Goliath (1 Samuel 17: 4) to Djalut (al-Baqarah 2: 250, 251),
From Korah (Numbers 16: 19) to Qarun (al-Qasas 28: 76),
From Saul (1 Samuel 9: 17) to Talut (al-Baqarah 2: 249),
Form Enoch (Genesis 5: 22, 24) to Idris (Maryam 19: 56).
In fact, it is difficult to trace some names to their historical origin:
Hud of al-A’raf 7: 65 is thought to be Eber of Genesis 11: 15,
Saleh of Hud 11: 61 is thought to be Peleg of Genesis 11: 16,
Shu’aib of al-Shu’ara’ 26: 177 is thought to be Hobab of Numbers 10: 29,
Dhul-Kifl of al-Anbiya’ 21: 85 is unknown?
Other alterations of names may be explained by the ancient Judeo-Christian tradition. Terah, Abraham’s father (Gen. 11: 26), is called Azar in al-An’am 6: 74 (he was known as Athar). John and Jesus are called Yahya and ‘Isa respectively in al-An’am 6: 85; etc (so were they known in the popular language to Christian children of Jewish decent). However, ‘Isa (Mary 19: 34; etc.) seems to be a corruption of the Hebrew name “Esau,” the son of Isaac.
7. A native prophet for every nation.
The Qur’an claims in Surah Yunus 10: 47 and al-Nahl 16: 36, 89 that God sent a prophet to every nation. History tells us this did not take place. God did not send any prophets in Africa, Europe, the Americas, and Australia. The Holy Bible tells us that the living God sent prophets only from the children of Israel. All of them were sent to the Israelites except the prophet Jonah (Yunis) who was sent to the city of Nineveh in northern Iraq. However, Surah al-Rum 30: 47 contradicts that by stating that messengers were sent to their own people. Apparently, Muhammad made these claims in order to strengthen his weak claim to prophethood, because he was not an Israelite.
8. The night journey.
The Qur’an states: “Glory be to him who made his servant (Muhammad) go by night from the sacred mosque (of Mecca) to the farthest mosque whose surroundings we have blessed” (al-Isra’ 17: 1a). No one witnessed that night journey that Muhammad claimed to have experienced in 620 AD in the physical realm. Neither did Muhammad show any tangible evidence to prove that it actually took place. Therefore, this claim remains unsubstantiated. Although the Hadith identifies its destination as Jerusalem (Muslim 1.309; Bukhari 5.58.227; 1.8.345), the farthest mosque (masjid al-Aqsa) of Jerusalem did not exist at the time of Muhammad. Its construction was started in 691 AD by Abdul-Malik ibn Marawan, the Omayyad caliph, and was completed by his son al-Walid I in 715 AD, more than eighty years after Muhammad’s death. How could he have prayed in it then? He could not have prayed in the Dome of the Rock which was built by the Omayyad caliph Abdul-Malik ibn Marawan in 691 AD, about sixty years after Muhammad’s death. Neither could he have prayed in the Jewish temple of Jerusalem because it had been destroyed by the Roman armies in 70 AD, five centuries before Muhammad’s time.
The story of Muhammad’s night journey bears a striking resemblance to a Persian Zoroastrian myth about a legendary saintly priest called Arta Viraf ascending to the heavens. This myth was written in the days of Ardashir about four hundred years before Muhammad in an ancient Pahlavi book entitled “Arta-i Viraf Namak.” Similar stories are recorded in Indian Sanskrit poems about Arjuna, and in books of heretical Christian sects, such as “the Testament of Abraham” (written around 200 B.C. in Egypt and subsequently translated to Greek and Arabic) claiming that Abraham ascended to the heavens.
9. The qiblah (the direction of prayer).
The Qur’an has mandated that the direction of prayer (the qiblah) should be towards Mecca (al-Baqarah 2: 144, 149-150), and has forbidden the Jerusalem qiblah (al-Baqarah 2: 142-143). This is despite the fact that Mecca was still idolatrous at that time. According to the Islamic tradition, Muhammad gave surah al-Baqarah around 623 A.D. and the change of the qiblah was supposed to have taken place thereafter around 624 A.D. However, irrefutable archeological evidence shows that the qiblahs of the early mosques did not face Mecca. Instead, they faced Jerusalem. The qiblahs of two Umayyad mosques built at the beginning of the eighth century in Iraq, one by governor al-Hajjaj ibn Yousif in Wasit, and the other near Baghdad were oriented too far north of Mecca (Creswell 1969, p. 137ff & 1989, p. 40; Fehervari 1961, p. 89; Crone-Cook 1977, pp. 23, 173). The Wasit mosque is off by 33 degrees, and the Baghdad mosque by 30 degrees. The qiblah of the first mosque in Kufa, Iraq built around 670 A.D. faced west instead of pointing south to Mecca (al-Baladhuri, Futuh, ed. by de Goeje 1866, p. 276; Crone 1980, p. 12; Crone-Cook 1977, pp. 23, 173). The original floor plan of the mosque of ‘Amr ibn al-‘As at Fustat (outside present Cairo, Egypt) indicates that its qiblah pointed north and had to be changed later by governor Qurra ibn Sharik (Creswell 1969, pp. 37, 150). According to new research by Patricia Carlier, mosques at the Umayyad caliphs’ summer palaces had qiblahs pointing towards Jerusalem. In addition, a letter written in Syriac in 705 A.D. by the Christian traveler Jacob of Edessa (kept in the British Museum) mentions that “it is not to the south that Jews and Mahgraye (Greek name of Arabs) here in the region of Syria pray, but towards Jerusalem.” “According to Crone, Cook, Carlier, and Hawting, the combination of the archeological evidence from Iraq along with the literary evidence from Syria and Egypt points unambiguously to a sanctuary (and thus direction of prayer) in Jerusalem, not Mecca” (Craig Winn, Prophet of Doom, [VA: Cricketsong books, 2004]).
Some Islamists claim that early Muslims were incapable of defining the direction to Mecca. That claim is not true for several reasons. The qiblah of all seventh century mosques pointed to Jerusalem, which means they were able to find the direction to Jerusalem accurately. In addition, Arabs knew very well how to survive in, and navigate through, the desert, which had no roads, for trade. Furthermore, the early mosques of Iraq and Egypt were built by the local civilized peoples of the ancient Persian and Egyptian civilizations, that knew very well how to find the correct direction. It is unlikely that they consistently erred by so many degrees.
The only reasonable explanation to the contradiction between the Qur’anic injunction for the direction of the qiblah to Mecca, and the actual direction of the qiblahs of the early mosques to Jerusalem is that the Qur’an was in its fluid formative stages and was not yet finalized until after the year 705 A.D.—more than 70 years after the death of Muhammad.
10. The lineage of Mary.
The Qur’an confuses Mary, the mother of Jesus, with Mary the daughter of Imran, the sister of Aaron and Moses (al-‘Imran 3: 35-36; al-Tahrim 66: 12; Maryam 19: 27-28; Ta Ha 20: 9, 29-30). The holy Bible states clearly that: “The name of Amram's wife was Jochebed the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt; and to Amram she bore Aaron and Moses and their sister Miriam” (Numbers 26: 59; Exodus 15: 20). Mary, the mother of Jesus, lived more than 1400 years after the time of Moses and his sister Mary. Some may claim that the Qur’anic expressions “sister of Aaron” and “daughter of Imran” refer to Mary’s lineage. Even that claim is erroneous because Mary was a descendent of David from the tribe of Judah (Luke 3: 23, 31, 33; Hebrews 7: 14; Revelation 22: 16), not from the tribe of Levi where Moses, Aaron and Amram belonged. In addition, there is not a single reference in the entire Bible and ancient Jewish literature to support the usage of the phrases of “brother of” or “sister of” to refer to ancestry. The words used to indicate ancestry are: “son of” or “daughter of” (Luke 13: 16; 19: 9; Matthew 20: 30).
11. The Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity
Traditional main stream Christianity has always believed in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity: one God of one substance and one power who exists in three distinct inseparable persons—the Father, His Word (the Son), and His Holy Spirit. The Holy Bible and historical Christianity have always taught that the Holy Trinity is ONE indivisible God, not three separate gods united in one (tritheism). In addition, it never taught that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a goddess. Muhammad should have known better because he had contacts with historic orthodox Christianity on several occasions (the Najran Christian delegation, the Negus of Abyssinia, Christian deputations from Yemen and Bahrain, etc.). Yet, he stated in the Qur’an (al-Ma’idah 5: 73-75, 116; al-Nisa’ 4: 171; al-Tawbah 9: 31) that Christians worship three gods: God, Mary, and Jesus. Although this was the teaching of an insignificant heretical Christian sect (the Mariamists) that disappeared at the end of the seventh century AD, Muhammad did not distinguish in the Qur’an between mainstream Christianity and the heretics whom the Church condemned.
Muhammad denied and condemned another basic Christian doctrine that the Christ is the incarnate Word (Son) of God (al-Tawbah 9: 30). Apparently, Muhammad misunderstood this doctrine thinking that Christianity believed that God fathered a child by having sex with a woman (al-An’am 6: 101; al-Kahf 18: 4; Maryam 19: 35; al-Jinn 72: 3; al-Ghashiayah 88: 93). Only Hinduism and ancient Greek mythology believe that pagan gods and humans could procreate sexually. Christianity condemns this idea as blasphemous. God does not need to beget physically the way humans do. Traditional Christianity has always believed that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived in her by the power of the Holy Spirit of the living God: “And the angel answered and said to her (Mary), ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God’” (Luke 1: 35; Matthew 1: 18-20). Jesus’ unique sonship to God the Father is a spiritual sonship, not a sexual sonship. God the Father does not have a human male body, and sexual procreation did not occur. This Father-Son relationship has existed since eternity’s past long before the creation of the universe (John 1: 1; 17: 5, 24). The Word of God the Father, the Christ, incarnated in human form without leaving the Father. He has remained in God (John 14: 10). God is not limited in any way.
The above facts confirm that Muhammad never understood true Christian theology?
12. Failed prophecies.
In their desperate search for something supernatural to support the Qur’an, some Muslim scholars attempt to find fulfilled prophecies in it. The prophesied victory of the Byzantine empire over the Persians did not occur within a few (3-9) years after the defeat of the Byzantines as stated in the Qur’an (ar-Rum 30: 2-4). It occurred nearly fourteen years after the Byzantines initial defeat. The Persians defeated the Byzantines in 614-615. The Byzantines defeated Persia in 628. In addition, the Qur’an was written in the Kufi script without vowel marks which were added much later. Hence, changing two vowel marks reverses the meaning from “they shall defeat” to “they shall be defeated.”
The Qur’an’s prophecy of immediate entry into Mecca did not take place (al-Fath 48: 27). Sahil ibn-Amr forbade Muslims from entering Mecca that year (Bukhari 3.50.891). They entered it the following year after the treaty of Hudaibiyya. The only other alleged prophecy worth evaluating in the Qur’an is al-Fajr 89: 2 which reads: “and the ten nights.” Some Islamists attempt to read into it a prediction of the ten years of persecution in early Islamic history. This is a far-fetched interpretation that the context of the sura does not support. Islamic scholars understand it to point to the first ten nights of the month Dhul-Hajj, the sacred month of pilgrimage.
13. Alleged prophecies about Muhammad.
The Qur’an states that the Holy Bible prophesied the coming of Muhammad (ash-Shu’ara’ 26: 196; as-Saff 61: 6; al-A’raf 7: 157). The Holy Bible does not contain any prophecies on Muhammad whatsoever. The analysis of this contradiction is provided in this page.
14. Revelation contradictory to past revelations.
The Qur’an claims that it confirms and makes clearer the previous revelations of the Torah and the Injil (the Holy Bible). “And before this, was the Book of Moses as a guide and a mercy: and this Book confirms (it) in the Arabic tongue…” (al-Ahqaf 46: 12); “To you (Muhammad) We sent the Book in truth, attesting to (the truth of) that which is between his hands from the Books, and guarding it in safety…” (al-Ma’idah 5: 48); “This Qur-an is not such as can be produced by other than God; but it is a confirmation of that (the Torah and Injil) which is between his (its) hands, and an explanation of the Book - wherein there is no doubt - from the Lord of the Worlds” (Yunus 10: 37); “…The promise of God is true in the Torah, the Injil (Gospel), and the Qur-an, and who is more faithful to his Covenant than God?...” (al-Tawbah 9: 111); “That which We have revealed to you of the Book is the Truth, attesting to that which is between his (its) hands (the Torah and the Injil)…” (al-Fatir 35: 31); (Yusuf 12: 111; al-Mu’min 40: 69-71; al-Ahqaf 46: 29-30; al-Baqarah 2:91; al-‘Imran 3: 3-4; al-Nisa’ 4: 47; etc.).
However, a close examination shows conclusively that the teachings of the Holy Bible (Judaism and Christianity) are very divergent and conflicting with the teachings of the Qur’an. This contradicts the Qur’anic claims.
15. The religion of Abraham.
The Qur’an declares that Muhammad came to renew the religion of Abraham (an-Nisa’ 4: 125). We learn from the Holy Bible that the original religion of Abraham did not consist in legal codes; but it established a covenant of promise between God and Abraham. God established this covenant about 430 years before giving the law to Moses (Galatians 3: 17). The religion of Abraham was not the religion of the law of Moses. It was a religion of faith in the promises of God. God promised Abraham saying: “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12: 3). This has been fulfilled by the birth of Jesus, the promised Messiah, from the seed of Abraham. Abraham submitted to the love and promises of God by faith alone. That is why he is called a friend of God and not a mere slave to Him.
On the contrary, Islam is based on a code of laws (Sharia) that demands the submission to the will of its god as slaves because of the fear of punishment and the hope of rewards. It leaves no room for God’s love and friendship. Therefore, contrary to the Qur’anic statement, Islam conflicts with the religion of Abraham. The entire doctrine of Islam repudiates the Abrahamic tradition, and fabricates its own history—a replacement of pure fantasy for biblical history.
The Qur’an claims that the Kaaba was dedicated by the Islamic god for his monotheistic worship, and that he appointed Abraham and Ishmael its builders and keepers (al-Ma’idah 5: 97; al-Baqarah 2: 125, 127; Al-‘Imran 3: 96-97; Ibrahim 14: 37; al-Hajj 22: 26-27). Scholars recognize that it was a center for idolatrous pagan worship in the Hijaz region of Arabia for its entire traceable history. Centuries before Muhammad’s time, the Arabian Kaaba, which was rebuilt many times, was called the house of god “beit Allah.” In fact, Muhammad’s own father bore the name “Abd Allah,” which means “the slave of god.” “There is no corroborative evidence whatsoever for the Qur’anic claim that the Kaaba was initially a house of monotheistic worship. Instead, there certainly is evidence as far back as history can trace the origins and worship of the Kaaba that it was thoroughly pagan and idolatrous in content and emphasis” (J. Gilchrist, The Temple, The Kaaba, and the Christ, p. 16). Mecca was the center of an annual pilgrimage in Arabia long before Muhammad’s time. All the ceremonies of the Kaaba, the circumambulation (tawaf: the sevenfold circling of Kaaba), the pilgrimage, the Umra, the animal sacrifices in Mina valley, and the stampede from Mount Arafat had been observed in all their details long before Muhammad was born (Bukhari 5.59.661). Therefore, the Qur’anic statements pertaining to the Kaaba are not true. In addition, the positive values extolled by Muhammad in the first forty Qur’anic Suras are a subset of Bedouin values and Hanif beliefs of the time of Muhammad in Arabia. They promoted the protection of the weak, charity, and good deeds. Some of that was subsequently abrogated.
Al-Kaaba of Mecca contains a black stone that Muslims kiss in the rituals of Islamic pilgrimage. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab found this practice uncomfortable (Bukhari 2.26.667, 675). This black stone was in the Kaaba before the time of Muhammad when Arabs had worshiped pagan idols made of rock and wood. It was the most sacred stone in the pre-Islamic animistic religion in Arabia. Pagan Arabs used to smear the blood of the sacrificed animal on the black stone. An Islamic legend claims that it was given to Abraham by the angel Gabriel. However, most likely, it is a fragment of one of the idols. Byzantine writers assert that it was originally a black stone image of Aphrodite which was worshipped in pre-Islamic times. The veneration of sacred stones was common in ancient pagan Semitic religions. The Nabatean high god Dushara was worshiped through an obelisk of black stone. Black conical stones were venerated in the temple of Baalbek in the later Roman period. In Emesa, Syria, a black meteorite associated with the sun god was revered.
IX. INTERNAL CONTRADICTIONS
(return to list of contents)
The Qur’an denies the existence of any contradictions and discrepancies within its text: “Will they not ponder on the Qur’an? If it had not come from God, they could surely find in it many contradictions” (al-Nisa’ 4: 82). However, it has quite a number of them. This is a strong argument against its divine origin based on its own statement in that verse. The following are a few examples of these discrepancies:
1. The Qur’an claims that: “This is a glorious Qur’an on a preserved tablet” (al-Buruj 85: 21-22; al-Waqi’ah 56: 77-80); and that: “There is no changing the word of God” (al-‘An’am 6: 34, 115; Yunis 10: 64; al-Hijr 15: 9; al-Kahf 18: 27). This claim, that the Qur’an is the unchanging word of the god of Islam written on a preserved tablet in eternity, clearly contradicts the doctrine of abrogation (changing the Qur’an) that the Qur’an introduces: “If we abrogate a verse or cause it to be forgotten, we will replace it with a better one or one similar. Did you not know that God has power over all things?” (al-Baqarah 2: 106; al-Nahl 16: 101; al-Ra’d 13: 39). This claim also contradicts the historical facts of the transmission of the Qur’an, which resulted in many changes and losses in its text as discussed above. In addition, in a number of Qur’anic passages, there are two speakers: one of them is the god of Islam, the other is Muhammad himself, “Glory be to him who made his servant go by night from the sacred temple to the farther temple whose surroundings we have blessed, that we might show him some of our signs. He alone hears all and observes all” (al-Isra’ 17: 1; al-An’am 6: 104-107; Hud 11: 1-9, 57; Yasin 36: 34-36; ash-Shura 42: 7-11; adh-Dhariyat 51: 47-60; etc.).
2. The doctrine of Satanic inspiration in the Qur’an (al-Hajj 22: 52) contradicts the challenge of the Qur’an to produce something like it: “Say: ‘Surely if men and Jinn were to gather together to produce the like of this Qur-an they could not produce its like, even if they backed up each other with help and support’” (al-Isra’ 17: 88; Hud 11: 13; al-Baqarah 2: 23; Yunus 10: 38). Satan met that challenge successfully by providing his satanic verses in Surah al-Najm 53: 19-23, which Muhammad recited without distinction. These verses were subsequently deleted. In addition, al-Hajj 22: 52: “Never have we sent a prophet or apostle before you with whose wishes Satan did not tamper …” contradicts an-Nahl 16: 98-100: “When you recite the Qur’an, seek refuge in God from accursed Satan: no power has he over those who believe and who put their trust in their Lord ….”
3. Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, claimed in the Qur’an that the Biblical God of the Christians and Jews (the people of the Book) is his Islamic god: “… Our god and your God is one…” (al-‘ankabut 29: 46; al-Baqarah 2: 139). This is not true. It is a theological impossibility that the living almighty God of the Holy Bible and the god of Islam are one and the same, because many essential attributes of the Judeo-Christian God are very different from, and contradict, those of the Islamic god.
4. According to al-Kafirun 109: 1-6, Muhammad and the idolaters of Mecca did not worship the same god. This contradicts other statements in the Qur’an. According to al-‘ankabut 29: 61-63; an-Nahl 16: 35; az-Zumar 39: 3, the Meccan idolaters knew and worshipped the god of Muhammad. He was their highest god—their supreme deity. The only difference is that Muhammad did not worship the other minor (lesser) gods of the Meccans (Yunus 10: 104; al-Mu’min 40: 66).
5. The Qur’an commands the worship of the Islamic god alone (an-Nisa’ 4: 48, 116; al-Kahf 18: 110; etc.). However, the Qur’an contradicts that when it declares that the god of Islam asked the angels to worship Adam after his creation, which make Adam a god (al-Baqarah 2: 34; al-A’raf 7: 10-26; al-Hijr 15: 29-44; al-Kahf 18: 50; Taha 20: 115; Sad 38: 71-77). All obeyed with the exception of Satan.
6. Islam claims that every single word in the Qur’an came from the Islamic god to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel. However, this verse indicates that the Islamic god does not know his own will: “Truly did Allah fulfill the vision of his messenger. You shall enter the sacred mosque, if Allah wills?? …” (al-Fath 48: 27). This conflicts with the Qur’anic statements that the Islamic god is all-knowing (al-Baqarah 2: 29; al-An’am 6: 18).
7. The Qur’an presents itself as an “Arabic Qur’an” revealed in the Arabic language (Yusuf 12: 2; al-Nahl 16: 103; Taha 20: 113; al-Shu’ara’ 26: 195; az-Zumar 39: 28; Hamim as-Sajdah 41: 3; ash-Shura 42: 7; al-Zukhruf 43: 3; etc.). This means, as the word of the Islamic god, the Qur’an is not translatable into any other language. That is why all its translations are not considered the word of the Islamic god. At best, they are considered a paraphrase or commentary for it. This is inconsistent with the claims of the Qur’an that Muhammad is sent to all humanity (al-Anbiya’ 21: 107); and that Islam is the religion for all people (Al-‘Imran 3: 19, 85); and that the god of Islam is the god of all people whatever their native language may be.
In addition, according to the Islamic scholar al-Suyuti (al-Itqan, part 2, pp. 108-119), the Qur’an contains at least 107 foreign words taken from the Persian, Assyrian, Syriac, Hebrew, Greek, Egyptian, and Ethiopian languages. This means that the Qur’an is not in pure Arabic, which contradicts the above Qur’anic statements.
8. The Qur’an states that the god of Islam does not command indecency and forbids it (al-A’raf 7: 28; an-Nahl 16: 90). It also states that he does not destroy any village unjustly (al-An’am 6: 131). However, verse al-Isra’ 17: 16 contradicts that by stating that the Islamic god commands wickedness: “When we decide to destroy a village, we send an order to its rich. They sin, so that the word is proved true against them. Then we destroy it utterly.” This means the god of Islam punishes the rich of the village for obeying him, and it does injustice to the poor of the village who are punished for the wickedness of its rich? This infamy and injustice are incompatible with the justice, holiness and faithfulness of the true living God of the Holy Bible.
9. Verse al-Baqarah 2: 131 claims that Abraham was a Muslim, despite the fact that Abraham lived some 2600 years before Muhammad and the birth of Islam? In fact, the religion of Abraham is very different from Islam as explained in section #VIII.15 above. In addition, the Qur’an contradicts this claim by stating elsewhere that Muhammad was the first Muslim (al-An’am 6: 14, 163; az-Zumar 39: 12).
10. Again, the Qur’an claims that the disciples of Jesus were Muslims (Al-‘Imran 3: 52; al-Ma’idah 5: 111). This is despite the fact that they lived more than 500 years before the birth of Islam, and their faith contradicted the teachings of Islam. They believed in the almighty triune God of the Holy Bible; in the divinity of Christ; in the incarnation of the Word (Son) of God; in the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Christ; etc. Muhammad denied and attacked their Christian faith. They proclaimed their faith to all the nations peacefully.
11. The Qur’an acknowledges that God made a covenant with the Jews, his chosen people (al-Baqarah 2: 40, 47), and that God gave them the land of Canaan (al-Ma’idah 5: 20, 21). However, the Qur’an calls the Jews apes (Baqarah 2: 65; al-A’raf 7: 166), and swine (al-Ma’idah 5: 60). In addition, throughout Islamic history, following the example and teachings of Muhammad, Muslims have relentlessly persecuted Jews? In fact, Muhammad claimed that stones and trees will tell about the Jews hiding behind them and urge the Muslims to kill them (Bukhari 4.56.791; 4.52.177; Muslim 41.6985).
12. Verses al-Hajj 22: 47 and as-Sajdah 32: 5 state that the day of the god of Islam is like a thousand years. Verse al-Ma’arij 70: 4 contradicts that by stating that the measure of the Islamic god’s day is fifty thousand years.
13. According to Yunus 10: 3; Taha 20: 109; Saba’ 34: 23; al-Mu’min 40: 7; ash-Shura 42: 5; al-Najm 53: 26; Muslim 1.378; etc., the god of Islam may permit intercessors, including the intercession of Muhammad (an-Nisa’ 4: 64; at-Tawbah 9: 103; an-Nur 24: 62; Muhammad 47: 19; al-Munafiqun 63: 5; etc.). However, an-Nisa’ 4: 123; al-Zumar 39: 44; al-Sajdah 32: 4; al-Baqarah 2: 48, 123, 254; al-An’am 6: 51, 70; etc., contradict that by stating that intercessors are not permitted. The Qur’an also denies the possibility that a sinner burdened with his sins could bear or atone the sins of others (al-An’am 6: 164; al-Isra’ 17: 15; al-Fatir 35: 18; az-Zumar 39: 7; al-Najm 53: 38). Therefore, Muhammad’s grave sins disqualify him from interceding for any one.
14. Al-Baqarah 2: 62; al-‘Imran 3: 55 and al-Ma’idah 5: 69 provide that Muslims, Jews, Christians and Sabeans may be eternally saved. However, al-Bayyinah 98: 6 and al-‘Imran 3: 85 contradict that by stating that: “He that chooses a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him, and he will be among the losers in eternity.” In addition, the Sabeans were polytheistic pagans who worshipped many pagan gods with emphasis on star worship. How could they be saved eternally?
15. According to al-Nisa’ 4: 48, 116, the sin of idolatry (shirk) is unforgivable. However, al-Nisa’ 4: 153 and al-Furqan 25: 68-71 state the opposite, that this sin is forgivable?
16. Wine is forbidden in al-Baqarah 2: 219 and al-Ma’idah 5: 90, but permitted in al-Nahl 16: 67; Muhammad 47: 15 and al-Mutaffifin 83: 25, 26. It is the preferred drink of the Islamic carnal paradise (Muhammad 47: 15; ad-Dahr 76: 5, 21; al-Mutaffifin 83: 25).
17. The Qur’an talks about those destined to paradise. It states in al-Waqi’ah 56: 11-14: “Such are they that shall be brought near (to their Lord) in the gardens of delight: a whole multitude from the men of old, but only a few from the latter generations.” This is contradicted in al-Waqi’ah 56: 34-40 by stating: “We created the houris and made them virgins, loving companions for those on the right hand: a multitude from the men of old, and a multitude form the latter generations.” Are many destined to paradise from the latter generation, or only a few?
18. Although the Qur’an accepts the fact that God had confirmed prophets before Muhammad by supernatural miracles (al-Ma’idah 5: 110; al-A’raf 7: 106-108, 116-119; etc.), Muhammad declared in the Qur’an that he could not do miracles: “For they say: ‘How is it no miracles were sent down to him from his Lord?’ Say: ‘The miracles are with God. I am only a warner, plain and simple’” (al-‘Ankabut 29: 50; Taha 20: 133); “’And we shall not believe in your having ascended till you bring down a book for us which we could read.’ Say: ‘Glory to my Lord. I am only man and a messenger’” (al-Isra’ 17: 93b). However, people challenged him and pressed him repeatedly for a miracle: “Some say : ‘It (the Qur’an) is but a medley of dreams.’ Others: ‘He has invented it himself.’ And yet others: ‘He is a poet. Let him show us a miracle as did the former apostles.’” (al-Anbiya’ 21: 5); “They say: ‘We will not believe in you until you make a spring gush from the earth before our very eyes, or cause rivers to flow in a grove of palms and vines; until you cause the sky to fall upon us in pieces, as you have threatened to do, or bring down God and the angels in our midst.’” (al-Isra’ 17: 90-92; etc.).
Under pressure, Muhammad reversed his position, and claimed that the Qur’an is his miracle, because it was much easier to produce a piece of literature than to perform miracles of nature: “Say: ‘Surely If the men and Jinn were to gather together to produce the like of this Qur‘an they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed up each other with help and support’” (al-Isra’ 17: 88; al-Baqarah 2: 23; Yunus 10: 38). This contradicts the other statements in the Qur’an to the effect that he could not do miracles. Our study in this article shows why the Qur’an is not a miracle. In addition, the jinn responded to that challenge successfully by generating verses al-Jinn 72: 1-16.
19. The Qur’an provides contradictory accounts for the duration of the creation of heaven and earth. The Qur’an mentions seven times that God created earth and heaven in six days (al-A’raf 7: 54; Yunis 10: 3; Hud 11: 7; al-Furqan 25: 59; al-Sajdah 32: 4; Qaf 50: 38; al-Hadid 57: 4). However, it contradicts that by mentioning in Fussilat 41: 9-12 that they were created in eight days!
20. Al-‘Imran 3: 42, 45 inform the reader that a group of angels announced to Mary the conception of Jesus. However, according to Maryam 19: 17-21, the spirit of God in the form of one man came to Mary to announce the conception of Jesus. The two accounts are contradictory! Mary’s remarks, “How can this be, having never been with a man?” in both accounts (Al-‘Imran 3: 47; Maryam 19: 20) indicate that Mary received only one visitation, where she believed God’s word without needing to ask the question again.
21. The Qur’an states in Yunis 10: 89-92 that the pharaoh who pursued Moses and the Israelites survived the battle, and was delivered and saved from drowning after he believed. However, al-Isra’ 17: 102-103, al-Qasas 28: 40 and al-Zukhruf 43: 55 contradict that by stating that the pharaoh drowned.
22. Al-Anbiya’ 21: 76 and al-Saffat 37: 77 tell us that Noah and all his family survived the flood. Hud 11: 42-43 contradicts that by saying that one of Noah’s sons drowned in the flood! In addition, why were those that believed Noah’s message drowned (Hud 11: 40)?
23. The position of the Qur'an on the divinity of Christ is contradictory and confused. The Qur’an contains verses that strongly support the divinity of Christ and others that deny it.
24. The Qur’an affirms that man was created superior to angels (al-Baqarah 2: 31-34). However, the Qur’an contradicts that by stating that Satan tempted Adam and Eve by promising them that they would become angels, and immortal if they ate from the tree (al-A’raf 7: 20-25). If they were created superior to angels, why should they aspire to be downgraded to angels in the first place? In addition, man was not subject to death before the fall. The Holy Bible teaches that death afflicted man after his fall (Genesis 3: 19). Why should they fear death that did not threaten him before the fall?
25. The Qur’an states that Muhammad was sent “… as a mercy for the world” (al-Anbiya’ 21: 107). This statement contradicts the many Qur’anic injunctions to kill, maim, loot and subdue the non-Muslims (al-Tawbah 9: 5, 12, 14, 19, 20, 29, 36, 38, 39, 41, 73, 81, 86, 88, 111, 123; al-Baqarah 2: 190, 193, 216, 244; etc.).
26. The god of Islam has told Satan that he does not have authority over his servants (al-Isra’ 17: 65). However, he contradicts that in al-Hijr 15: 42 by saying that some of them will follow Satan. Likewise, in verses al-Hijr 15: 39-40 and Sad 38: 82-83, Satan states that he will not tempt the faithful servants of the Islamic god. He contradicts that by saying that he will lead astray some of these faithful servants (an-Nisa’ 4: 118-119).
The following webpage provides additional information on the subject
Contradictions in the Qur'an.
X. THE DOCTRINE OF ABROGATION
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The Qur’an institutes the doctrine of abrogation of formal revelations (al-Baqarah 2: 106; al-Nahl 16: 101; al-Ra’d 13: 39). The serious problems and confusion caused by this doctrine are discussed in that page. As a result of this doctrine, the credibility of the alleged revelations is compromised, and its divine origin is doubted.
XI. THE DOCTRINE OF SATANIC INSPIRATION
The doctrine of Satanic inspiration in the Qur’an and the problems it causes are discussed in that page.
XII. REVELATION OF CONVENIENCE
The Qur’an contains convenient alleged revelations for the personal gain, benefit or pleasure of Muhammad. These revelations of convenience provide a strong argument against the divine origin of the Qur’an. In a number of occasions Muhammad claimed that his god licensed him to do whatever pleases his excessive whims. The following are a few examples of the revelations of convenience in the Qur’an:
1. Muhammad might postpone the turn of any of his wives as he pleases, and sleep with any Muslim woman that gave herself to him (al-Ahzab 33: 50-51). His youngest wife Aisha said in response to these verses: “… I feel that your lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires” (Bukhari 6.60.311).
2. Muhammad married his daughter-in-law Zaynab bint Jahsh, the beautiful wife of his adopted son Zaid (al-Ahzab 33: 37). He lusted after her. He committed incest by marrying her after his adopted son divorced her. After people continued to criticize him for marrying her, he claimed that his god approved his incestuous relationship (al-Ahzab 33: 37), and cancelled out all adoptions in Islam (al-Ahzab 33: 4).
3. When Muhammad wanted more wives, or wanted to stop his wives from quarrelling, he claimed to receive a quick revelation to accomplish that (al-Ahzab 33: 28-34).
4. When people bothered him at his house, or treated him disrespectfully, he claimed to receive convenient revelations setting rules concerning appropriate times for visitations (al-Ahzab 33: 53-58; al-Hujurat 49: 1-5).
5. Muhammad had an affair with Mary the Egyptian, the maid of his wife Hafsa the daughter of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, in the house of Hafsa. He was unfaithful to his wife Hafsa. When she returned home and discovered it, she became furious. In order to pacify her, he took an oath that he would never touch her maid again. However, he still lusted after Mary the Egyptian. Therefore, he claimed that his god released him from his oath (at-Tahrim 66: 1-5; Bukhari 7.67.427; 9.89.260).
6. Rumors circulated that Aisha, Muhammad’s youngest wife, committed adultery with Safwan bin al-Muattal as-Sulami. Muhammad did not want to divorce her, because he liked her. Therefore, he claimed to have received revelations establishing her innocence (an-Nur 24: 11-20).
XIII. THE NUMBER 19?
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In their desperate attempt to prove the divine origin of the Qur’an, some Islamists claim that there is a computer manifested miracle in it? They state that the very first verse of the Qur’an--“In the name of Allah the compassionate and merciful” (al-Fatihah 1: 1)—contains 19 Arabic letters, and that each Arabic word in this verse is provided in the Qur’an a multiple of the number 19. The first Arabic word “In the name” is found a total of 19 times; the second Arabic word “Allah” 19x142 times; the third Arabic word “the compassionate” 19x3 times; and the last Arabic word “merciful” 19x6 times. The number 19 is a mystical number in the Qur’an (al-Muddaththir 74: 30), and in the heretical Baha’i religion.
This claim is false, because of the following:
1. In the first place, the first verse of the Qur’an does not contain 19 letters. It contains 21 letters. It would contain 19 letters only if we ignore the two unwritten vowel letters (Aleph) of the second and third words, but include in the count the vowel letter “yeh” of the third word. These vowels are subject to identical grammatical rules. Therefore, they could not be arbitrarily treated differently.
2. The first Arabic word of the verse is a compound word made up of an inseparable preposition “bi” meaning “in” connected with the Arabic word meaning “name.” According to Abdul-Baqi’s Index to the Words of the Glorious Qur’an (Dar Ihya’ al-Turath al-‘Araby, Beirut, Lebanon, 1945, pp. 361-362), the compound Arabic word occurs only three times in the entire Qur’an. The simple Arabic word meaning “name” occurs 19 times. The compound Arabic word meaning “his name” occurs five times. Clearly 3+19+5=27 does not divide by 19. If we add to that the 12 occurrences of the plural of the word, its total occurrences reach 39, which is not divisible by 19.
3. In their count of the word “Allah,” the Islamists include the compound Arabic word “LiAllah” that contains the word “Allah” attached to the inseparable preposition “Li” meaning “to” in order to make its total occurrences divisible by 19. This grammatically identical with the inseparable preposition “bi” attached to the first word (discussed above). However, unlike the Arabic compound word “LiAllah,” the first compound word is ignored, because including it in the count would make the total of the first word not divisible by 19.
4. The third Arabic word “the compassionate” occurs 19x3=57 times in the Qur’an.
5. The last Arabic word in the subject verse occurs only 34 times in the Qur’an in an identical form. In addition, it occurs another 81 times without the definite article for a total of 115 times, plus one time in the plural for a grand total of 116 times. Neither 115 nor 116 is divisible by 19.
This analysis proves that the claim of the numeric miracle of number 19 in the Qur’an is false, because of the subjective selection method of letters and words, and the often blatantly false figures.
XIV. INVALID EVIDENCE OF ALLEGED DIVINE REVELATION
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Muhammad alleged divine revelation both in his call to prophecy, and in receiving the Qur’an. According to the Islamic tradition, Muhammad claimed to have encountered a spirit in the cave of Mount Hira. He was forty years old, and was alone in the cave. The spirit squeezed him so tightly till he thought he was going to suffocate to death, and then gave him the first Qur’an (Bukhari 1.1.3), which contained the first mistaken statement in the Qur’an, that God “created man from clots of blood” (al-‘Alaq 96: 2). At first, Muhammad thought that he was being deceived by a jinn or a demon, and that the cave might be haunted. But his first wife Khadija and her cousin Waraqa bin-Nofal urged him to believe that his experience was a divine revelation. This was obviously not the angel Gabriel as they thought mistakenly, and the whole experience was not a godly experience. The angels of the true living God do not torment His prophets. They calm them, help them, and relieve their fears. The true living God does not coerce any one into prophecy, as he respects the free choice he has granted his creatures.
In fact, the true living God never called any Jewish prophet or Christian apostle in that frightening way. God does not terrorize His servants and prophets. For instance, the Lord called Moses to prophethood in this manner: “Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob… Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt”” (Exodus 3: 1-6, 10).
Other examples are God’s calls to the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel in godly visions. “In the year that King Uzziah died, I (Isaiah) saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. Also, I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me”” (Isaiah 6: 1-2, 8). “Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I (Ezekiel) was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God” (Ezekiel 1: 1).
Christ called His apostles by simply asking them to follow Him, not by terrorizing them: “So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you’” (John 20: 21); “And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him” (Matthew 4: 18-22).
In receiving the Qur’an, the Islamic tradition tells us that Muhammad used to go into convulsions similar to epileptic seizures, break out in cold sweat, and his mouth used to foam. None of the true Biblical prophets ever experienced these symptoms. It indicates that Muhammad was afflicted with either epilepsy or another neurological illness, or he was demon possessed. This is similar to the experience of spiritual mediums and occult practitioners. In fact, Jesus exorcized demons that had tormented the possessed person in this very same way: “Suddenly a man from the multitude cried out, saying, “Teacher, I implore You, look on my son, for he is my only child. And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out; it convulses him so that he foams at the mouth; and it departs from him with great difficulty, bruising him. So I implored Your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” And as he was still coming, the demon threw him down and convulsed him. Then Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the child, and gave him back to his father. And they were all amazed at the majesty of God” (Luke 9: 38-43). There are striking similarities between the symptoms that boy suffered from and what used to happen to Muhammad when he claimed divine inspiration. Instead, was it a Satanic inspiration all along?
Both seizures leading to trances the way Muhammad experienced, and his horrifying experience in the cave of mount Hira are neither miracles of the living God nor signs of divine inspiration. God is all-holy, loving and faithful. Neither He nor His angels betray, torment or do violence to His prophets that serve Him. In fact, the Holy Bible teaches us that whenever the angel Gabriel appeared to deliver a message to someone, he always gave that person assurances of peace and safety: “But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias… And the angel answered and said to him: I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings” (Luke 1: 13a, 19); “Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. Then the angel said to her: Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1: 26-27, 30; 2: 10; Matthew 28: 5-6; John 14: 27).
Before entering Mecca, Muhammad instructed his commanders to fight only those who resisted them except for a small number of persons who were to be killed even if they were found beneath the curtains of the Kaaba. ‘Abdullah ibn-Sa’d was one of these persons (Tabari VIII:178). He was a Muslim who used to write down Muhammad’s alleged Qur’anic revelations. He found that Muhammad incorporated in his Qur’anic revelations many of the words that he suggested, including whole sentences, in order to improve its eloquence. This violated the prohibition of the Qur’an from changing any of its contents (Yunus 10: 15; al-Haqqah 69: 40-46; etc.). That convinced ‘Abdullah that the alleged Qur’anic revelations of Muhammad were an invented fake, because if it were from the true God none of its words could be changed at the prompting of a scribe. That was why he left Islam. He knew too much. Muhammad cursed him in verse al-An’am 6: 93. ‘Uthman bin-‘Affan, his foster brother, interceded in his behalf and saved his life (Abu Dawud 38.4345, 4346; Tafseer al-Tabari; Tafseer al-Qurtubi; etc.). To this day, this corruption exists in the Qur’an.
‘Abdullah ibn-Sa’d was not the only one who influenced the text of the Qur’an. Muhammad added verses to comply with the wishes of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (al-Baqarah 2: 98, 125, 187; at-Tahrim 66: 5; etc.), his companions (al-Nisa’ 4: 95; an-Nur 24: 16; etc.), and his wives (Al-‘Imran 3: 195; al-Ma’idah 5: 6; al-Ahzab 33: 35; Bukhari 1.8.395; al-Suyuti (Itqan, Asbab al-Nuzul); al-Baydawi; al-Tabari; etc.).
The definite confirmation of the fact that Muhammad never received divine revelation is that many of his works and teachings were very ungodly and wicked in grave conflict with the holiness and divine love of the true living God. Christ warned us saying: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit” (Matthew 7: 15-17).
Muhammad was a lustful womanizer who practiced polygamy. He had thirteen wives, in addition to concubines, slaves, war captives, and devout Muslim women who gave themselves to him (al-Ahzab 33: 50). He committed incest by marrying his daughter-in-law Zaynab bint Jahsh after his adopted son Zaid divorced her (al-Ahzab 33: 37). He sexually abused a child girl under the pretext of marriage by marrying Aisha bint Abu-Bakr when she was six years old, and then consummating the marriage when she was a nine-year-old child. He was responsible for the first Islamic massacre in the long bloody history of Islam—the massacre of the tribe of Banu Qurayza, the last Jewish tribe in Medina, in 627 AD. All the men of the tribe (800-900 men) were beheaded in cold blood (Bukhari 4.52.280). Its wealth was looted. Its women and children were sold into slavery. Muhammad urged his Muslim followers to kill his opponents for him and praised them for doing it afterwards. This led to the assassination of Asma’ bint Marawan while she was nursing her baby home, 120-year-old Abu Afak, Kaab ibn al-Ashraf (Bukhari 5.59.369), Abu Raffe Salaam, etc. On his deathbed, he asked his companions to get the non-Muslims out of Arabia (Bukhari 4.52.288; 5.59.716; 4.53.392, 380).
Muhammad taught that women are inferior to men (al-Nisa’ 4: 34). A woman inherits only half of her brother’s inheritance. The testimony of a woman in court is equivalent to the testimony of half a man (al-Baqarah 2: 282). He taught wife beating (al-Nisa’ 4: 34); breast feeding adults; temporary marriage; polygamy (al-Nisa’ 4: 3); and sexual abuse of children. Muhammad also taught the gruesome punishments of stoning, limb amputation, and flogging for adultery and theft; the killing and enslaving of non-Muslim children (Muslim 19.4321-4323); the killing and subjugation of non-Muslims (al-Tawbah 9: 5, 29; Muhammad 47: 4; etc.) in order to spread Islam by offensive war (Jihad); lying if a threat is perceived to a Muslim or to Islam to further the cause of Islam; fictitious carnal lustful Islamic paradise of sexual promiscuity and gluttony (al-Tur 52: 17-24); etc. In addition, Muhammad taught the killing of the apostates (Muslims who renounce Islam) in violation of the International Declaration of Human Rights which stipulates that each individual has the full right to change his faith or to relinquish it; etc.
The list of the immoralities and atrocities Muhammad committed and taught grows long. The true almighty God is so holy that “He charges His angels with error” (Job 4: 18b). He hates wickedness and condemns it: “For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You” (Psalm 5: 4). He has much higher moral standards and requirements than Muhammad’s works and teachings. He judges immoralities very severely. He does not call for prophecy men who commit grave sins and never repent like Muhammad. His prophets were exemplary men who strove after perfection and living holy blameless lives. Ascribing immoral teachings and false attributes to the true living God is blaspheming Him.
The logical conclusion from the above discussion is that neither the call of Muhammad, nor his alleged revelation of the Qur’an, nor his evil works and teachings originated from the true living almighty God.
XV. MUHAMMAD’S LITERACY
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In their futile attempts to prove the miraculous nature of the Qur’an, Islamists claim that Muhammad was illiterate not able to read and write. Muhammad’s illiteracy, even if true, does not point to a divine origin of the Qur’an. The famous classical Greek poet Homer was blind, and hence could not read and write. But he composed the two most famous epic poems of the Iliad and the Odyssey consisting of over twenty-seven thousand lines. However, evidence from the Qur’an and Hadith points into the opposite direction, that Muhammad was literate.
The Qur’an defines the illiterate as people who do not have a holy book. They are religiously illiterate because they are ignorant of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures (ash-Shura 42: 52; etc.). Therefore, in pre-Islamic Arabia, the pagan Arabs were illiterate (al-Baqara 2: 78; Al-‘Imran 3: 20, 75; al-Jumu’ah 62: 2; al-A’raf 7: 157-8). Muhammad’s illiteracy did not mean he could not read and write. It meant he did not know the Jewish and Christian Scriptures.
In fact, the first Sura Muhammad gave indicates that he could read: “Read in the name of your Lord who created … Read and your Lord is most bountiful” (al-‘Alaq 96: 1-3). In addition, other Qur’anic verses inform that he could read and write: “You (Muhammad) did not read a book before this, nor wrote one with your right hand …” (al-‘Ankabut 29: 48; al-Furqan 25: 5).
Muhammad’s uncle Abu Talib provided protection for him for several decades in his house. He loved him more than his own children. This means that Muhammad received the same education provided to his cousin Ali, the son of Abu Talib. Ali authored a book called “The Path of Eloquence.” The Hadith tells us that, faced with Ali’s refusal at Hudaybiyya, Muhammad wrote the text of the agreement with the Meccans himself. Al-Tabari and Abu Bakr reported that, before his death, Muhammad asked for an inkwell and parchment to write (Bukhari 4.52.288; 5.59.716). In addition, Muhammad successfully managed Khadija’s commercial business for years. He could not possibly do that without reading and writing.
Waraqa ibn Nofal, the priest of the Meccan heretical Ebionite church and Khadija’s cousin, translated the Hebrew gospel, an unorthodox incomplete version of the gospel of Matthew, from Hebrew to Arabic. Waraqa’s translation was not accurate. This heretical gospel eventually became embedded in the Qur’an provided in Mecca, thereby transmitting both heterodox and orthodox doctrines into Muslim beliefs and practices. This is the only gospel the Ebionites used. In addition, they kept various Jewish traditions, and believed that man’s salvation is not only dependent on a working faith in Christ, but also on performing the Law of Moses. They denied the divinity of Christ and his crucifixion.
Muhammad was the disciple of Waraqa for years. He learned his heretical divine science.
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Although the Qur'an contains a few good old moral principles, such as generosity, respect for parents, etc., these are outweighed by unworthy wicked principles of intolerance of non-Muslims, the call for violence (jihad), oppression of women and non-Muslims, barbaric punishments, contempt of human reason, etc. The principles enshrined in the Qur’an are inimical to moral and social progress.
You need to evaluate the above significant evidence; do your own research; think about it; and arrive at your own conclusion. You need to ask the Holy Spirit of the living God to guide you in your thinking and evaluation, and point you in the right direction.
In his book of “Twenty Three Years: A study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammad,” George Allen and Unwin, London, 1985, Ali Dashti, the famous Iranian-Arab Muslim scholar, concluded that:
“In the field of moral teachings, however, the Qur'an cannot be considered miraculous. Muhammad reiterated principles which mankind had already conceived in earlier centuries in many places. Confucius, Buddha, Zoroaster, Socrates, Moses, and Jesus had said similar things” (p. 54).
“Neither the Qur'an's eloquence nor its moral and legal precepts are miraculous” (p. 57).
We feel that the above facts and overwhelming evidences strongly point to the firm conclusion that the Qur’an could not be considered a miracle based on its alleged eloquence, and its content. It has linguistic problems, including grammatical mistakes, spelling errors, and foreign words. It has conflicting texts. The authentic text could never be established. It has glaring scientific errors, historical errors, and internal contradictions. It proclaims the questionable doctrines of satanic inspiration and abrogation of divine revelation, which means that Islam has no definitive knowledge of what it claims to be the perfect and final revelation of all times. Furthermore, the signs associated with Muhammad’s alleged call and inspiration are definitely ungodly.
In fact, much of the content of the Qur’an could be traced to Jewish and Christian apocryphal works, heretical sects’ beliefs, Zoroastrian works, and pre-Islamic practices in pagan Arabia. The information of these sources was communicated to Muhammad by Salman the Persian, Jabr the Christian, Abu Fukayha Yasar, and others. “… When they come to argue with you, the unbelievers say: This is nothing but fables of the ancients” (al-An’am 6: 25; al-Anfal 8: 31; an-Nahl 16: 103; al-Mu’minun 23: 83; al-Furqan 25: 4; etc.). Muhammad mixed up this material in the Qur’an. This is characteristic of persons suffering from complex partial epileptic seizures.
The Ebionite priest Waraqa ibn-Nofal was the instructor and advisor of Muhammad for years. He had great influence upon Muhammad. His goal was to prepare Muhammad to succeed him as the head of the heretical Ebionite church of Mecca. After the death of Waraqa, the alleged revelation dried up for about three years. The teachings of the heretical Ebionite sect are thoroughly embedded in the Qur’an. In addition, Muhammad was influenced by his grandfather Abdel Muttalib, his Ethiopian nurse Baraka, known as ‘Umm ‘Ayman, and his uncle Abu Talib, who protected him after the death of his grandfather. All of them belonged to the Nosrania sect of the heretical Christian Ebionism. They were Hanifite monotheists. On a few occasions, Qur’anic revelations were prompted by the suggestions of Muhammad’s followers, ‘Umar bin al-Khattab, etc. (Bukhari 1.8.395).
Based on extended analysis of the text of the Qur’an, western scholars conclude that its content, ellipsis, and repetition suggest that it is the product of an organic development from originally independent traditions during a long period of transmission in the first two Islamic centuries. The canonical text of the Qur’an could not be attributed to one person, Muhammad, alone.
These detrimental problems are very powerful arguments against the divine origin of the Qur’an, and against the Muslim contention that it is the word of God, which was dictated word for word to Muhammad without any human influence, and subsequently preserved verbatim. The principal argument for the prophethood of Muhammad, and the truth of Islam is the miraculous nature of the Qur’an. It follows that, since the Qur’an is not miraculous, Muhammad’s claim of prophethood, and the truth of Islam lose their entire foundation.
For additional details, please visit the following pages:
1. The Qur'an and the Bible in the light of history and science.
2. Muhammad's False Prophecies.
3. The Prophethood of Muhammad.
4. The Sources of the Qur'an.
5. The Qur'an.
May the light of truth shine in your mind and set you free.