Thoughts and Truth from the Impossible Life

Contradictions in the Qur’an

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There are three basic categories of contradictions in the Qur’an:

1. Internal contradictions: Verses contradicting each other or the laws of logic
2. External errors: Verses contradicting the facts of history or science
3. Verses contradicting the earlier revelations

Internal contradictions:

# Who suffers loss if Muhammad was wrong? Sura 34:50 commands Muhammad to say, “If I go astray, I go astray only to my own loss,” which is a severe factual error in the Qur’an as well as contradicting the teaching of the Qur’an in a number of other verses.
# Allah, Adam, and the Angels. There are a great number of problems and inconsistencies between the several accounts of Adam’s creation, Allah’s command to prostrate before Adam, Satans refusal, etc.
# Who Was the First Muslim? Muhammad [6:14, 163], Moses [7:143], some Egyptians [26:51], or Abraham [2:127-133, 3:67] or Adam, the first man who also received inspiration from Allah [2:37]?
# Can Allah be seen and did Muhammad see his Lord? Yes [S. 53:1-18, 81:15-29], No [6:102-103, 42:51].
# Were Warners Sent to All Mankind Before Muhammad? Allah had supposedly sent warners to every people [10:47, 16:35-36, 35:24], Abraham and Ishmael are specifically claimed to have visited Mecca and built the Kaaba [2:125-129]. Yet, Muhammad supposedly is sent to a people who never had a messenger before [28:46, 32:3, 34:44, 36:2-6]. This article also raises other issues: What about Hud and Salih who supposedly were sent to the Arabs? What about the Book that was supposedly given to Ishmael? Etc.
# What will be the food for the people in Hell? The food for the people in Hell will be only “Dhari” [Sura 88:6], or only foul pus from the washing of wounds [S. 69:36], or will they also get to eat from the tree of Zaqqum [S. 37:66]? Together, these verses constitute three contradictions.
# Can Angels Cause the Death of People? The Qur’an attacks those who worship anyone besides God (e.g. angels or prophets) because those can neither create, nor give life, nor cause anyone to die. Yet, the Qur’an explicitly states that one angel or several angels are causing certain people to die [Sura 4:97, 16:28, 32, 32:11].
# Confusion Concerning Identity of the Spirit and Gabriel (a long discussion of dozens of references)
# ‘Iddah rules for divorced and widowed women appear to be arbitrary and inconsistent.
# Is there a minimum age of marriage for girls?
# To Marry or Not to Marry? The Qur’an forbids believers to marry idolatrous women [Sura 2:221], and calls Christians idolaters and unbelievers [9:28-33], but still allows Muslims to marry Christian women [5:5].
# Will it be accepted of them or not?
# Will Allah reward the good deeds of Unbelievers? S. 9:17 and 9:69 clearly say no. However, S. 99:7 implies yes. Moreover, S. 2:62 promises Christians reward for their good deeds. But S. 9:28-33; 5:17, 72-73 calls Christians idolaters, and S. 9:17 is very clear that idolaters will have no reward.
# Should Muslims Accept Peace or Not?
# Fighting All People Until They Do What?
# Compel them or Not?
# Can They Disbelieve in the Last Day and be Safe?
# Should Muslims show kindness to their parents? On the one hand, the Quran commands all Muslims to show kindness to their parents, even if they are disbelievers [17:23-24, 31:14-15, 29:8, etc.]. On the other hand, it demands not to show any love or friendship to those who oppose Muhammad, even if they are their parents [9:23, 58:22].
# Can one be a believer in God and oppose Muhammad at the same time?
# How many mothers does a Muslim have? Only one [58:2, the woman who gave birth and none else], or two [4:23, including the mother who nursed him], or at least ten [33:6]?
# And it just doesn’t add up: Sura 4:11-12 and 4:176 state the Qur’anic inheritance law. When a man dies, and is leaving behind three daughters, his two parents and his wife, they will receive the respective shares of 2/3 for the 3 daughters together, 1/3 for the parents together [both according to verse 4:11] and 1/8 for the wife [4:12] which adds up to more than the available estate. A second example: A man leaves only his mother, his wife and two sisters, then they receive 1/3 [mother, 4:11], 1/4 [wife, 4:12] and 2/3 [the two sisters, 4:176], which again adds up to 15/12 of the available property.
# How many angels were talking to Mary? When the Qur’an speaks about the announciation of the birth of Jesus to the virgin Mary, Sura 3:42,45 speaks about (several) angels while it is only one in Sura 19:17-21. (This article has received many Muslim responses which are quoted or linked and/or discussed at the end of the article.)
# Further numerical discrepancies Does Allah’s day equal to 1,000 human years (Sura 22:47, 32:5) or 50,000 human years (Sura 70:4)? — According to Sura 56:7 there will be THREE distinct groups of people at the Last Judgement, but 90:18-19, 99:6-8, etc. mention only TWO groups. — There are conflicting views on who takes the souls at death: THE Angel of Death [32:11], THE angels (plural) [47:27] but also “It is Allah that takes the souls (of men) at death.” [39:42] Angels have 2, 3, or 4 pairs of wings [35:1]; but Gabriel had 600 wings. [Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Number 455]
# How many days did Allah need to destroy the people of Aad? One day [54:19] or several days [41:16; 69:6,7]
# Six or eight days of creation? Sura 7:54, 10:3, 11:7, and 25:59 clearly state that God created “the heavens and the earth” in six days. But in 41:9-12 the detailed description of the creation procedure adds up to eight days. (This topic also includes many Muslim responses and further discussion.)
# Quick or Slow Creation? Allah creates the heavens and the earth in six days [7:54] and many Muslims want to be modern and scientific, and make that six eons, but then again, He creates instantaneously [2:117], “Be! And it is”.
# Heavens or Earth? Which was created first? First earth and then heaven [2:29], heaven and after that earth [79:27-30].
# Calling together or ripping apart? In the process of creation heaven and earth were first apart and are called to come together [41:11], while 21:30 states that they were originally one piece and then ripped apart.
# What was man created from? A blood clot [96:1-2], water [21:30, 24:45, 25:54], “sounding” (i.e. burned) clay [15:26], dust [3:59, 30:20, 35:11], nothing [19:67] and this is then denied in 52:35, earth [11:61], a drop of thickened fluid [16:4, 75:37]
# What were jinn created from?
# The descent of the Quran: Piecemeal or all at once?
# Examining the inherent problems with the descent of the Quran
# Is half the Quran already fully detailed?
# Fully Detailed Or Incomplete? The Qur’an claims for itself to be (fully) detailed, that nothing is left out of the book [6:38, 6:114, 12:111, 16:89 etc.]. However there are plenty of important issues which are left unclear in the Qur’an. This article discusses the confusion found in the quranic statements on wine.
# Is the Quran Completely Clear or Not?
# The Perspicuity of the Quran and It’s Mysterious Letters
# Worshiping the Same or a Different God? Muhammad is commanded to speak to the disbelievers: … nor do you worship what I worship [109:3]. However, other verses in the Qur’an state clearly that those disbelieving his message are in fact worshiping the same God, Allah.
# Did the Meccan Polytheist Believe That Allah Was The Supreme Being?
# To Intercede or Not To Intercede? – That is the Question! The Qur’an makes contradictory statements whether on the Day of Judgment intercession will be possible. No: [2:122-123, 254; 6:51; 82:18-19; etc.]. Yes: [20:109; 34:23; 43:86; 53:26; etc.]. Each position can be further supported by ahadith.
# How the Islamic Doctrine of Intercession undermines Allah’s Omniscience
# Where is Allah and his throne? Allah is nearer than the jugular vein [50:16], but he is also on the throne [57:4] which is upon the water [11:7], and at the same time so far away, that it takes between 1,000 and 50,000 years to reach him [32:5, 70:4].
# The origin of calamity? Is the evil in our life from Satan [38:41], Ourselves [4:79], or Allah [4:78]?
# How merciful is Allah’s mercy? He has prescribed mercy for himself [6:12], yet he does not guide some, even though he could [6:35, 14:4].
# Does Allah command to do evil? No [7:28, 16:90]. Yes [17:16, ]. Two examples are also given, where Allah clearly commanded or permitted indecent actions [2:229-230, 2:187].
# Should Muhammad Get Paid Or Shouldn’t He?
# A Contradiction Regarding Muhammad’s Fatherhood
# Will there be inquiry in Paradise? “neither will they question one another” [23:101] but nevertheless they will be “engaging in mutual inquiry” [52:25], “and they will … question one another” [37:27].
# Are angels protectors? “NO protector besides Allah” [2:107, 29:22]. But in Sura 41:31 the angels themselves say: “We are your protectors in this life and the Hereafter.” And also in other suras is their role described as guarding [13:11, 50:17-18] and protecting [82:10].
# Is Allah the only Wali? On the one hand, Allah is supposedly the only wali (protector, helper, friend) [9:116, 17:111, 32:4, 42:28], on the other hand, the messenger and the believers are walis [5:55, 9:71], Allah has walis [10:62], and he raises walis [4:75].
# Does Allah Act Alone Or Does He Have Partners That Assist Him?
# Is Allah the Only Judge or Not?
# Is Allah the only sovereign or isn’t he?
# Are all obedient and prostrating to Allah? That is the claim in 16:49 and 30:26, but dozens of verses speak of the proud disobedience of Satan [7:11, 15:28-31, 17:61, 20:116, 38:71-74, 18:50] as well of many different human beings who reject His commands and His revelations.
# Does Allah forgive shirk? Shirk is considered the worst of all sins, but the author of the Qur’an seems unable to decide if Allah will ever forgive it or not. No [4:48, 116], Yes [4:153, 25:68-71]. Abraham committed this sin of polytheism as he takes moon, sun, stars to be his Lord [6:76-78], yet Muslims believe that all prophets are without any sin.
# Abraham and the Sun
# Abraham’s Monotheism
# Abraham’s Progeny? How the Qur’an messed up Abraham’s family tree
# Did All Prophets Receive the Same Book?
# The event of worship of the golden calf: The Israelites repented about worshipping the golden calf BEFORE Moses returned from the mountain [7:149], yet they refused to repent but rather continued to worship the calf until Moses came back [20:91]. Does Aaron share in their guilt? No [20:85-90], yes [20:92, 7:151].
# Was Jonah cast on the desert shore or was he not? “Then We cast him on a desert shore while he was sick” [37:145] “Had not Grace from his Lord reached him, he would indeed have been cast off on the naked shore while he was reprobate.” [68:49]
# Moses and the Injil? Jesus is born more than 1,000 years after Moses, but in 7:157 Allah speaks to Moses about what is written in the Injil [the book given to Jesus].
# Can slander of chaste women be forgiven? Yes [24:5], No [24:23].
# How do we receive the record on Judgment Day? On Judgement day the lost people are given the Record (of their bad deeds): Behind their back [84:10], or in their left hand [69:25].
# Can angels disobey? No angel is arrogant, they all obey Allah [16:49-50], but: “And behold, we said to the ANGELS: ‘Bow down to Adam’. And THEY bowed down, EXCEPT Iblis. He refused and was haughty.” [2:34]. This article includes links to answers to four Muslim responses.
# How many wings does an angel have? Angels have 2, 3, or 4 wings [35:1]; but Gabriel had 600 wings according to Sahih al-Bukhari.
# Is Satan an angel or a jinn?
# Three contradictions in 2:97 and 16:101-103 Who brings the revelation from Allah to Muhammad? The ANGEL Gabriel [2:97], or the Holy Spirit [16:102]? The new revelation confirms the old [2:97] or substitutes it [16:101]? The Qur’an is PURE Arabic [16:103] but there are numerous foreign, non-Arabic words in it.
# Do not say, “Three”!? It is impossible to recite Sura 4:171 without transgressing the command contained in it.
# The infinite loop problem Sura 26:192,195,196: “It (the Qur’an) is indeed a revelation from the Lord of the Worlds, … in clear Arabic speech and indeed IT (the Qur’an) is in the writings of the earlier (prophets).” Now, the ‘earlier writings’ are the Torah and the Injil for example, written in Hebrew and Greek. HOW can an ARABIC Qur’an be contained in books of other languages? Furthermore, it would have to contain this very passage of the Qur’an since the Qur’an is properly contained in them. Hence these earlier writings have to be contained in yet other earlier writings and we are in an infinite loop, which is absurd.
# Is the Torah like the Qur’an, or is it not? The Muslim claim of the corruption of the Bible leads to a contradiction between S. 2:24 and 17:88 on the one hand, and 28:49 and 46:10 on the other.
# Should Jews and Christians follow the Bible or the Quran?
# “An old woman” and God’s character About the story of Lot: “So we delivered him and his family, – all exept an old woman who lingered behind.” [Sura 26:170-171] And again: “But we saved him and his family, exept his wife: she was of those who lagged behind. [Sura 7:83]. Either this is a contradiction or if indeed Lot’s wife is derogatorily called “an old woman” then this does not show much respect for her as a wife of a prophet.
# More problems with the story of Lot “And his people gave NO answer but this: They said, “Drive them out of your city: these are indeed men who want to be clean and pure!” [Sura 7:82 & 27:56]. Yet: “But his people gave NO answer but this: They said: “Bring us the Wrath of Allah if thou tellest the truth.” [Sura 29:29]. Obviously these answers are different.
# The “pleasure” of Allah? Is God’s action of punishment or mercy and guidance or misguidance arbitrary?
# Did Abraham smash the idols? The accounts of Abraham, Suras 19:41-49, 6:74-83 differ quite a bit from Sura 21:51-59. While in Sura 21 Abraham confronts his people strongly, and even destroys the idols, in Sura 19 Abraham shuts up after his father threatens him to stone him for speaking out against the idols. And he seems not only to become silent, but even to leave the area (“turning away from them all”).
# What about Noah’s son? According to Sura 21:76, Noah and his family is saved from the flood, and Sura 37:77 confirms that his seed survived. But Sura 11:42-43 reports that Noah’s son drowns.
# Was Noah driven out? “Before them *the people of Noah* rejected (their messenger): They rejected Our servant and said, ‘Here is One possessed!’ And he was driven out.” [Sura 54:9] Now, if he is driven out [expelled from their country] how come they can scoff at him while he is building the ark since we read “Forthwith he (starts) constructing the Ark: Every time that the Chiefs of *his people* passed by him, they threw ridicule on him.” [Sura 11:38] He cannot be both: Driven out and near enough that they can regularly pass by.
# Pharaoh’s Magicians: Muslims or Rejectors of Faith? Did the Magicians of Pharaoh, Egyptians, become believers in the God of Moses [7:103-126; 20:56-73; S. 26:29-51] or did only Israelites believe in Moses [10:83]?
# How many gods did the Egyptians worship?
# Pharaoh’s repentance in the face of death? According to Sura 10:90-92, Pharaoh repented “in the sight of death” and was saved. But Sura 4:18 says that such a thing can’t happen.
# Abrogation? “The words of the Lord are perfect in truth and justice; there is NONE who can change His words.” [Sura 6:115] Also see 6:34 and 10:64. But then Allah (Muhammad?) sees the need to exchange some of them for “better ones” [Sura 2:106, 16:101]. And it is not for ignorant people to question Allah because of such practices!
# Guiding to truth? “Say: ‘God – He guides to the truth; and which is worthier to be followed …?” [Sura 10:35] But how much is left over of this worthiness when we also read: “Allah leads astray whom he pleases, and he guides whom He pleases, …” [Sura 14:4]. And how do we know in which of Allah’s categories of pleasure we fall? How sure can a Muslim be that he is one of those guided right and not one of those led astray?
# What is the punishment for adultery? Flogging with a 100 stripes (men and women) [24:2], “confine them to houses until death do claim them (lifelong house arrest – for the women) [4:15]. For men: “If they repent and amend, leave them alone” [4:16]. 24:2 contradicts both the procedure for women and men in Sura 4. And why is the punishment for women and men equal in Sura 24 but different in Sura 4?
# How are the sexually immoral supposed to be punished?
# The Problem of Divine Sovereignty, Predestination, Salvation and Human Free Will
# Who suffers the consequence of sins? The Qur’an declares that everyone will be held responsible only for his own sins [S. 17:13-15, 53:38-42]. Yet, the Qur’an accuses the Jews of Muhammad’s day for the sins committed some 2000 years earlier by other Jews, e.g. worshipping the Golden Calf idol.
# Will Christians enter Paradise or go to Hell? Sura 2:62 and 5:69 say “Yes”, Sura 5:72 (just 3 verses later) and 3:85 say “No”.
# God alone or also men? Clear or incomprehensible? The Qur’an is “clear Arabic speech.” [16:103] Yet “NONE knows its interpretation, save only Allah.” [3:7]. Actually, “men of understanding do grasp it.” [3:7]
# Was Pharaoh Drowned or Saved when chasing Moses and the Israelites? Saved [10:92], drowned [28:40, 17:103, 43:55].
# When Commanded Pharaoh the Killing of the Sons? When Moses was a Prophet and spoke God’s truth to Pharaoh [40:23-25] or when he was still an infant [20:38-39]?
# When/how are the fates determined? “The night of power is better than a thousand months. The angels and spirit descend therein, by the permission of their Lord, with all decrees.” [97:3,4] “Lo! We revealed it on a blessed night.” [44:3] To Muslims, the “Night of Power” is a blessed night on which fates are settled and on which everything relating to life, death, etc., which occurs throughout the year is decreed. It is said to be the night on which Allah’s decrees for the year are brought down to the earthly plane. In other words, matters of creation are decreed a year at a time. Contradicting this, Sura 57:22 says, “No affliction befalls in the earth or in your selves, but it is in a Book before we create it.” This means it is written in the Preserved Tablet, being totally fixed in Allah’s knowledge before anyone was created. All of the above is contradicted by “And every man’s fate We have fastened to his own neck.” This says that man alone is responsible for what he does and what happens to him. [17:13]
# Wine: Good or bad? Strong drink and … are only an infamy of Satan’s handiwork. [5:90, also 2:219]. Yet on the other hand in Paradise are rivers of wine [47:15, also 83:22,25]. How does Satan’s handiwork get into Paradise?
# Good News of Painful Torture? Obviously, announcing torment and suffering to anyone is bad news, not good news. However, the Qur’an announces the good news of painful torment [3:21, 4:138, 9:3, 9:34, 31:7, 45:8, and 84:24].
# Jinns and men created for worship or for Hell? Created only to serve God [Sura 51:56], many of them made for Hell [Sura 7:179].
# Preferred for Hell? S. 17:70 says that Allah prefers (all) the children of Adam over many of his creatures, but S. 98:6 declares the majority of men to be the worst of creatures, many of them being even created specifically for Hell (S. 7:179).
# Will people stay in Hell forever, or not?
# Will all Muslims go to Hell? According to Sura 19:71 every Muslim will go to Hell (for at least some time), while another passage states that those who die in Jihad will go to Paradise immediately.
# Will Allah disgrace Muslims? On the day of judgment Allah will not humiliate or disgrace the Prophet and those who believe in him [S. 66:8]. However, 19:71 says that everyone will enter Hell, and 3:192 states that whomsoever Allah sends to Hell, is disgraced thereby.
# Will Jesus burn in Hell? Jesus is raised to Allah, [Sura 4:158], near stationed with him [Sura 3:45], worshiped by millions of Christians, yet Sura 21:98 says, that all that are worshiped by men besides Allah will burn in Hell together with those who worship them.
# Is Jesus God or Not? In Sura 16:17, 20-21 and S. 25:3 we find a criterion to distinguish the true God from false gods. Yet, according to S. 3:49, 55, 4:157-158, 5:110, 6:2, and 38:71-72 Jesus satisfies the definition and should be considered true Deity.
# Is Jesus Like Adam? S. 3:59 makes this claim, but how many aspects of likeness are there really?
# Can there be a son without a consort? Allah cannot have a son without a consort [Sura 6:101], but Mary can have a son without a consort because that is easy for Allah [Sura 19:21].
# Who is the father of Jesus? A more involved argument that is difficult to summarize in one sentence.
# Begetting and Self-sufficiency A self-contradiction on account of confused terminology.
# Could Allah have a son? Sura 39:4 affirms and Sura 6:101 denies this possibility.
# Did Jesus Die already? Sura 3:144 states that all messengers died before Muhammad. But 4:158 claims that Jesus was raised to God (alive?).
# One Creator or many? The Qur’an uses twice the phrase that Allah is “the best of creators” [23:14, 37:125]. What other creators are in mind? On the other hand, many verses make clear that Allah alone is “the creator of all things” [e.g. 39:62]. There is nothing left for others to be a creator of.
# From among all nations or from Abraham’s seed? Sura 29:27 states that all prophets came Abraham’s seed. But 16:36 claims that Allah raised messengers from among every people.
# Marrying the wives of adopted sons? It is important that Muslims can marry the divorced wives of adopted sons [Sura 33:37], yet it is forbidden to adopt sons [Sura 33:4-5].
# Messengers were never sent to other than their own people? So it is claimed in Sura 14:4 and 30:47. However, the Bible and the Qur’an, and the Muslim traditions confirm that Jonah was sent to a different nation.
# Messengers Were Sent Only to Their Own People? Sura 14:4 states that never was a messenger sent except in the language of his own people. Yet, the Quran itself claims that Jesus is supposed to be a sign to all people, that the Torah and Gospel are for all people, that Moses was sent to Pharaoh of Egypt, and that Muhammad is sent to all of mankind. The hadith also claim that Noah was sent to “the inhabitants of the earth”.
# Did Allah give a Greek Injil to the Jews?
# What kind of book is the Injil?
# Messengers Amongst the Jinns and Angels? Allah sent only men as messengers [Suras 12:109, 21:7-8, 25:20-21] but there seemingly are messengers from Jinns and Angels [6:130; 11:69,77; 22:75; etc., see article for details].
# Do all of God’s messengers eat food?
# A Messenger from among the beasts? Allah sent only men as messengers [Suras 12:109, 21:7-8, 25:20-21]. Yet, the Qur’an also speaks about a beast that is a messenger from Allah to men [S. 27:82].
# Is Muhammad Only A Warner or a Prophet/Messenger?
# Did the Messengers Perform Miracles?
# Divinely Inspired Ignorance?
# Which Prophets Did the Jews Kill?
# Another eleven contradictions…

External errors:


# Solomon listening to ants? In Sura 27:18-19 Solomon overhears a “conversation of ants”.
Is this possible based on our knowledge about the mode and complexity of ant communication?
# The stars and the moon The Qur’an teaches that there are seven heavens one above the other [67:3, 71:15], and that the stars are in the lower heaven [67:5, 37:6, 41:12], but the moon is depicted as being in/inside the seven heavens [71:16], even though in reality the stars are much further away from the earth than the moon.
# Qur’an and Science: Section Four in Dr. Campbell’s book
# Qur’an and Embryology
# Can non-living matter think, feel and have a will?
# The human embryonic development
# The place of Sun rise and Sun set
# The Seven Earths
# Stars created to be thrown at devils?
# Sun and moon are subject to man?
# Mountains and Earthquakes
# The impossible conversation
# Solomon and the animals…
# Allah’s forgotten creatures
# Shaking the trunk of the palm tree?
# Thinking with the breasts?
# All things are made in pairs? Sura 51:49 claims that everything is created in pairs. But this is not true! There are quite a number of things that have no counterpart and species where only one gender exists.
# Are Fruits Male and Female?


# The Qur’an Attacks … Christianity?
# Selling Joseph for a few Dirhams? (before coins were even invented)
# Moses and the Samaritan?
# The farthest Mosque?
# Alexander the Great, a Muslim?
# None else was named “John” before John the Baptist?
# Two Pharaohs who crucified?
# Burnt bricks in Egypt?
# How many gods did the Egyptians worship?
# Israel, the Quran and the Promised Land
# Were they utterly destroyed?
# What kind of book is the Injil?
# Jesus was not crucified?
# The anachronistic title al-`Aziz given to Potiphar

(Here is an important question. Muslims affirm that the Qur’an / Islam encourages to seek knowledge. What happens if that knowledge doesn’t match what the Qur’an teaches? I strongly believe that “all truth is God’s truth.” That also means that God will not contradict himself in the “natural” revelation of history and science and in the “special” revelation of his written word. But if the Qur’an contradicts what we so clearly know from history or science, does this indicate that maybe the author of truth in the natural realm and the author of the Qur’an might not be the same? )

The Qur’an in Contradiction to the Earlier Revelations:

Ultimately, the strongest, most serious problem of the Qur’an is that it affirms the scriptures of the Jews and the Christians as authentic and true revelation from God (cf. what the Qur’an says about the Bible), while radically denying central aspects of their message, e.g. the core themes of sacrifice and atonement in the Torah, the crucifixion of Jesus, the deity of Jesus and even the mere messianic title “Son of God” for Jesus, the very nature of God, the fall and the sinfulness of man, necessity and means of salvation, etc. For this reason Muslims had to invent the unwarranted theory of corruption of the earlier scriptures, even against the clear testimony of the Qur’an itself.

In the following some smaller discrepancies between the Qur’an and the scriptures it supposedly confirms.

1. Historical Compressions: Saul, David, Gideon and Goliath
2. A Samaritan tempting the Israelites in Moses time?
3. Prophets and Kings in Israel before the time of Moses?
4. Moses and the Gospel?
5. Punishment for future disobedience?
6. Mary, the sister of Aaron?
7. Pharaoh and Haman?
8. A Pharaoh Who Forgot to Die in Time?
9. Was there a second period of slaying the sons of the Israelites?
10. Moses or Jacob?
11. Did Joseph’s parents go to Egypt?
12. Abraham’s name
13. Abraham and Solomon

Other contradictions in comparison to the Bible:

14. Did God teach Adam the names of the animals?
15. Noah’s Age
16. Were Believers Really Called Muslims Before the Time of Muhammad?
17. The Quran’s Mistakes regarding the Biblical Patriarchs
18. Who Adopted Moses: Pharaoh’s Daughter or Pharaoh’s Wife?
19. Adoption by Adaption analyzes various discrepancies inf the quranic version of the stories of Moses and Joseph.
20. A Flood in the time of Moses?
21. Israel, the Quran and the Promised Land
22. The Quran, Moses and the Tablets of Stone
23. Solomon Working with Demons
24. Israel’s Response to the Covenant: ‘We Obey’ or ‘We Disobey’?
25. Where is the Blood?
26. Divinely Inspired Ignorance?
27. Which Prophets Did the Jews Kill?
28. What kind of book is the Injil?
29. Animal sacrifices for Christians?
30. Why did the Queen of Sheba come to Solomon?
31. Ezra the Son of God?
32. Jesus reached old age?
33. Did the golden calf say ‘Moo’?
34. Did disobedience result in extra commandments?
35. How many messengers were sent to Noah’s people?
Further discussion: Who are those messengers that were rejected by Noah’s people?
36. The Progeny of Abraham?
37. Two young men?
38. How many wings does an angel have?

# More contradictions between Qur’an and Bible

Do they not ponder on the Qur’an?
Had it been from other than Allah,
they would surely have found therein much discrepancy.
— Sura 4:82

Since this verse is claiming that there is “no contradiction / discrepancy” in the Qur’an, therefore itself has to be part of the list of contradictions because it contradicts the existence of the above listed contradictions. Or would you say because it says “much” and the above aren’t “enough of them” yet to qualify for “much”, all is actually fine?



“Do they not consider the Quran? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancies.” (Sura 4:82).

This verse is further amplified by the already quoted texts:

“No change can there be in the Words of Allah (Sura 10:64)
“There is none that can alter the Words of Allah (Sura 6:34)

We Christians believe this too. Let us assume for a moment that there is no discrepancy between the message of the Bible and the Quran, which, as we have seen, is not the case, and consider the Quran on its own.

The problem of abrogation.

“When We substitute one revelation for another, – and Allah knows best what He reveals, – they say ‘Thou art a forger: But most of them understand not. Say, the Holy Spirit has brought the revelation from thy Lord in truth.”

“None of our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar–Knowest thou not that Allah hath power over all things?….Would you question your Apostle as Moses was questioned of old?” (Suras 16:101 and 2:106,108).

We should like to find out how a divine revelation can be improved. We would have expected it to have been perfect and true right from the start. Yusuf Ali tries to explain:

“….it means that God’s message from age to age is always the same, but that its form may differ according to the needs and exigencies of the time. Some commentators apply it also to the Ayat (revelation) of the Quran. There is nothing derogatory in this if we believe in progressive revelation.
In Sura 3:7 we are told distinctly about the Quran, that some of its verses are basic and fundamental, and others are allegorical, and it is mischievous to treat the allegorical verses and follow them (literally).” (comm 107).

This is fully acceptable. God has revealed His Word progressively, the revelation being levelled at the comprehension and culture of the people to whom it was first given. Everybody will agree that an allegory should not be taken literally. But what about the law of ‘mansukh’ (=abrogated verse; please note Sura 2:106 does not speak of intellect, culture or progressive revelation with reference to scriptures given prior to Mohammed, but to Quranic verses only!) and ‘nasikh’ (=the verses that take the place of the mansukh verses)? .

We must recognize one important principle: If we want to know what a certain passage really means we have to make a proper exegesis. We have to establish what exactly the text in question was intended to say to the original hearers. How did they understand it? Only having done that can we interpret a text in today’s situation without distortion. There are various possible ways of establishing the original meaning, but one should also look at the very old commentaries and see how they understood and interpreted the text.

The “Tafsir-i-Azizi” explains three kinds of abrogations (=cancellations):

i) where a verse has been removed from the Quran and another given in its place;

ii) where the injunction (command) is abrogated and the letters of the verse remain; !

iii) where both the verse and its injunction are removed from the text

Jalalu’d-Din, says that the number of abrogated verses has been variously estimated to range from 5 to 500 (“Dictionary of Islam”, page 520)

In his ‘Itqan’ he furnished a list of 20 verses, which are acknowledged by all commentators to be abrogated (“Dictionary of Islam”, page 520).

Just a few be mentioned here:

The Qibla (prayer direction) was changed from Jerusalem to Mecca (Sura 2:142-144);

The division of inheritance left by parents or other relatives according to Sura 4:7 had to be equal (a share and a share which has to be determined). This was abrogated and replaced by verse 11, where it is commanded that males must get double the share of females.

The night prayer performed by reciting the Quran ought to be more or less half the time of the night (Sura 73:2). This was changed to as much as may be easy for you (verse 20).

The treatment of adulteresses is to be life imprisonment (Sura 4:15), which was changed to flogging with 100 strokes (Sura 24:2). This despite the leniency prescribed for homosexuals (Sura 4:16) on repenting.

The retaliation in cases of crime, particularly murder, was to be confined to people of equal rank (slave for slave, free for free etc.) (Sura 2:178) This is in disagreement with Sura 5:48 and Sura 17:33 where retaliation is allowed against the murderer only.

The Jihad or Holy War was forbidden in the sacred months (Sura 9:5) but is allowed, even encouraged in verse 36 which replaces the former.

“Sura 2:106 occurs immediately before a series of sweeping changes, or rather modifications, introduced by Muhammad in both the ritual and the legal spheres.The verse thus precedes a change in the Qibla (vss. 115,177,124-151); in the pilgrimage rites (vs. 158); in the dietary laws (vss. 168-l74); in the law relating to talio (vss. 178-179); in bequests (vss. 180-182); in the fast (vss. 182-187); and again in the pilgrimage (vss. 191-203).

Similarly, Sura 16:101 is followed by allusions to modifications in the dietary laws (vss 114-119), and in the Sabbath laws (vs.124)” (“The Collection of the Quran” by John Burton).

Elaborating on this we note that the fast is compulsory “but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the prescribed number (should be made up) from days later. For those who can do it (with hardship) is a ransom, the feeding of one, that is indigent.” (Sura 2:184).

“‘Here one can hardly escape the conclusion that the first verse (i.e. 184) allows a rich man to buy himself out of the fast.” (“Islam” by A. Guillaume). The next verse is said to replace the former. It allows no compensation of any kind for the fast.

In verse 180 of the same Sura “it is prescribed, when death approaches any of you, if he leaves any goods, that he make a bequest to parents and next of kin….”. This is said to be replaced by Sura 4:11, according to which a double portion of inheritance falls to males compared to that of females.

The much discussed “verses of the sword”: “….fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them and seize them, beleaguer them and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (or war).” (Sura 9:5) and “….when you meet the unbelievers (in fight) cut off their necks…” (Sura 47:4) are “said to have cancelled no less than 124 verses which enjoined toleration and patience.” (A. Guillaume).

To us it is surprising to find the mansukh and nasikh verses often near to each other. We judge these to be cases of interpolation.

As stated earlier, we do believe in progressive revelation. The Old Covenant of the Law, as given to Moses, was superseded by the New Covenant of grace, which Jesus introduced. But these developments took place over a considerable time (1 500 years) with many prophetic warnings and predictions in between, so that no arbitrary action may be assumed on the side of God. In the light of this we find it unacceptable that within a space of 20 years a need for change or correction can become necessary. This surely suggests that God is either not all-knowing or else the recorder made a correction.

There are other verses which further add to the confusion:

“If we wished, we could make away with what we have revealed to you!” (Sura 17:86). “We shall teach you to recite it (i.e. the Quran) and you will not forget – except that Allah wills (Sura 87:6-7).

Why should anything be forgotten of an eternal revelation? To “substitute for it something better”? We do admit that an inspired man can err at times, but an inspired book (nazil) cannot!

Zarkasi explains the above concept more deeply. He states (vol. I p. 235):

“The ‘naskh’ (sic) of the wording and recital occured by means of God’s causing them to forget it. He withdrew it from their memories, while commanding them to neglect its public recital and its recording in the mushaf. With the passage of time, it would quite disappear like the rest of God’s revealed Books which He mentions in the Quran, but nothing of which is known today. This can have happened either during the Prophet’s life so that, when he died, the forgotten material was no longer being recited as part of the Quran; or it might have happened after the death of the Prophet. It would still be extant in writing, but God would cause them to forget it. He would then remove it from their memories. But, of course, the naskh of any part of the revelation after the death of the Prophet is not possible.” (“The Collection of the Quran” by John Burton p.97).

We suggest that Allah could have spared us a lot of confusion, doubt and explaining, had He given the better text right from the beginning.

“There was a series of Hadiths designed expressly to give the impression that Muhammad had forgotten part of the revelations. The reports were specific and detailed enough to identify the actual wording of the verses in question. Anas is reported in the two Sahih’s (i.e. al-Bukhari and Muslim) as declaring: There was revealed concerning those slain at Bi’r Ma’una a Quran verse which we recited until it was withdrawn: “Inform our tribe on our behalf that we have met our Lord. He has been well pleased with us and has satisfied our desires.’ (“al-Itqan by Jalal al Din).

‘Abdullah b. al Zubair therefore asked ‘Uthman what had possessed him to include Sura 2:240 in the ‘mushaf’ (document or canon), when he knew it to have been abrogated by Sura 2:234. ‘Because’, he replied ‘Uthman, ‘I know it to be part of the Quran text.’ ‘(ibid.). (“The Collection of the Quran” by John Burton).

A further problem arises from the fact that there is by no means any certainty which verses are mansukh and which nasikh, since the order in which the Quran was written down is not chronological, but according to the length of the Suras. However, even the Suras were not necessarily given in one piece. It happened that a certain portion of a Sura was given, and the next given text would be directed by Mohammed to be added to another Sura, and later again another addition was made to the first again, etc. The Hadis gives no conclusive information about the chronological order either, so that strictly speaking, there is no means of determining which of two disagreeing texts is mansukh, and which nasikh.

In any case we Christians see in this whole subject just a theological gimmick to “explain” contradictions. The quotation:

“No change can there be in the Words of Allah” and “There is none that can alter the Words of Allah. Already hast thou received some account of those Apostles.” or “the other Apostles also said so.” (Suras 10:64 and 6:34).

is contradicted by all those Muslims who claim that the Bible which is admitted to be a revealed book, has been altered and corrupted.

To underline our point let us just look at two passages of the Quran that have not been reconciled in terms of the law of abrogation.

In Sura 41:9-12 we read that the world was created in eight days, in Sura 7:54 we are told it were six days. It is, we suppose, up to the believer to make up his mind which of the two he will accept.

QUESTION: Must we assume that God is inconsistent? Knowing all things, such contradiction surely does not originate from God?

Problems regarding the consistency of Revelation.

The Quran is inconsistent regarding commitments on the part of Allah on which the believer can reckon or on which he can build his life. Commitments that are given are contradicted elsewhere:

“Allah has inscribed for himself (the rule of) mercy”


“Allah has prescribed for himself as law to act merciful” (Sura 6:12).

is contradicted in the same Sura: (verses 35-39):

“If it were Allah’s will, he would gather them into true guidance…. Whom Allah willeth he leaves to wander, whom he willeth, he placeth on the way that is straight”.

As we shall see (pp 21ff.), the Muslim’s hope rests on that despairing word:

“IF it pleases Allah.”

This is striking, for even in the Old Testament the believer was aware of the Law of cause and Effect. Once a believer broke any of God’s Laws he was cut-off from God, and was lost and perishing. But if he atoned therefor in repentance according to God’s prescribed ordinance (the sacrifice) his sin was forgiven. God had committed Himself to it. This is even further elaborated in the New Testament:

“If we confess our sins (while we have fellowship with God: vs. 6), He is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9).

We see a definite regression from this standard in the Quran.

We also find it strange to read:

“Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans; and nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, ‘we are Christians’.” (Sura 5:85)

This is supported to some extent by an explanatory note in the “Mishkat” (IV page 103, note 2380) where we are told that “nearly two-thirds of paradise” will be filled with “the followers of the Holy Prophet and the followers of other prophets will form one-third.” In strange contrast to this are the words of Sura 5:51

“Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends.”

What about being together in Paradise? The reason is just as strange:

“They (Jews and Christians) are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust.

It can hardly be said that Jews and Christians have ever protected each other, except that they agree on the authenticity of the Old Testament.

It is said of Mohammed that he was the first to bow down to Allah (in Islam) (Sura 6:14, 163, 39:12). But it is also said of Abraham, his sons and Jacob that they were Muslims (Sura 2:132), and of all earlier prophets who brought ‘books’ (i.e. Moses, David and Jesus) (Sura 28:52-53). Again it is reported of the disciples of Jesus that they were Muslims (Sura 3:52).

All these we view as contradictions. Some would not be of a serious nature, were it not for the claim that the Quran is “nazil” or “brought down” from heaven to Mohammed without the touch of human hand – except for the act of writing itself.

QUESTION: Is there any uncontradicted statement in the Quran on which a Mulsim can rely to have eternal life in heaven?

December 11, 2010 Posted by | Christianity / God, Societal / Cultural Issues, Understanding Islam, World Affairs | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Violence and Qu’ran

July 7, 2010 Weylan Deaver

The New Testament teaches Christians are at war with evil. But Christians fight with spiritual (i.e. non-physical) weapons for a spiritual kingdom. When it comes to our relationship to fellow men, the gospel teaches we are to be peacemakers, turning the other cheek when mistreated, not retaliating, but leaving vengeance to God (cf. Matt. 5:9; Luke 6:29; Rom. 12:17-21; 2 Cor. 10:4; Eph. 6:12; 2 Tim. 2:3-4; etc.). Jesus put it this way: “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:44f., ESV).

That’s a far, far cry from advocating physical violence against the enemies of the church in the name of Christ. Anyone teaching or practicing physical violence in the name of Christ to further the religion of Christianity is, in fact, contradicting the New Testament.

When it comes to the religion of Islam, there are, without question, many who advocate and practice physical violence against those they consider “infidels.” Often, politically-correct (and ignorant) American politicians condemn terrorist atrocities, offering the explanation that Islam has been hijacked by radical extremists. But is that so? Consider several quotations from A. J. Arberry’s respected translation of the Koran (New York: Collier Books, 1955).

“And fight in the way of God with those who fight with you, but aggress not: God loves not the aggressors. And slay them wherever you come upon them” (from sura II).

While on the one hand aggression seems discouraged, killing in the name of Allah is definitely okay: kill your enemy wherever you happen to find him. It makes the part about non-aggression seem a little hollow, doesn’t it?

“O believers, take not Jews and Christians as friends; they are friends of each other. Whoso of you makes them his friends is one of them” (from sura V).

Whereas Jesus taught his followers to do good to enemies, the Koran forbids even friendship with Christians. A Muslim who befriends a Christian is, per Muhammad, as bad as a Christian (and Christians—as unbelievers—deserve to be slain).

“I shall cast into the unbelievers’ hearts terror; so smite above the necks, and smite every finger of them!” (from sura VIII).

Notice the word “terror,” as in “terror”-ist. The gospel of Christ is a message of peace, hope, and kindness. Granted, it has ample warnings of the coming Judgment, but God will take care of that after we leave earth. Muhammad’s is a message of terror and Muslims smiting unbelievers on earth. Huge difference.

“Then, when the sacred months are drawn away, slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them, and confine them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they repent, and perform the prayer, and pay the alms, then let them go their way” (from sura IX).

Again, more slaying of non-Muslims. It’s difficult to harmonize all the sanctioned smiting with not being an aggressor, but theological coherence and consistency are not Muhammadan hallmarks.

“…the Christians say, ‘The Messiah is the Son of God.’ That is the utterance of their mouths, conforming with the unbelievers before them. God assail them! How they are perverted!” (from sura IX).

In the eyes of a Muslim, it is perversion to believe Jesus is truly the son of God. With a religion that far removed from Christ, it is no wonder Islam practices what it does. Jesus proved himself to be God’s son and died on the cross for every future Muslim some 600 years before Muhammad was even born. Millions today live in fear of speaking against Muhammad. In point of fact, Muhammad should have lived in fear of blaspheming Jesus Christ. One day, Muhammad, and all his followers, will be judged by the words of Christ (John 12:48).

“O believers, fight the unbelievers who are near to you, and let them find in you a harshness” (from sura IX).

They can’t help but be noticed, the complete opposite approaches to life found in the New Testament and the Koran. The former encourages gentleness (Gal. 5:23; 2 Tim. 2:25); the latter prescribes “harshness.” Jesus taught kindness and love toward enemies—not cutting off their heads.

“When you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks, then, when you have made wide slaughter among them, tie fast the bonds; then set them free, either by grace or ransom, till the war lays down its loads” (from sura XLVII).

More of the same: smiting and slaughter for unbelievers. Anyone who thinks the Koran does not teach violence ought to look again. American society will tolerate and warm up to Islam at its own peril. If their influence and respectability continue to grow on the world stage, is there any doubt that Muslims will increasingly enforce on unbelievers the kind of treatment the Koran demands? So, back to the question. Are Islamic terrorists simply radical people who have hijacked, twisted, perverted, misinterpreted the Koran to sanction violence? Or, are Islamic terrorists really the ones living up to what Islam has always taught?

December 8, 2010 Posted by | Societal / Cultural Issues, Understanding Islam, World Affairs | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments


December 7, 2010 Posted by | Societal / Cultural Issues, Understanding Islam, World Affairs | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Qu’ran, the Real Satanic Verses

A time came in Islamic history when the Muslims faced severe persecu-
tion from the unyielding Meccans, so severe in fact, that eighty three of
Muhammad’s followers had to flee to Abyssinia (Ethiopia). When the
persecution grew worse, Muhammad underwent a moment of despair
and made compromising “revelations.” He declared the possibility of
Allah having a wife, Al-Lat and two daughters, Al-Uzza and Mannat, as
recorded in Surat an-Najim:

“For truly did he see, the signs of his Lord, the greatest! Have ye
seen Lat, and Uzza, and another, the third [goddess] Manat?
What! For you the male sex, and for him, the female? Behold,
such would be indeed a division most unfair!” (Sura 53:18-22).

This indirect confession of polytheism made the Meccan pagans
happy. Their bone of contention had been done away with (earlier, he
had fearlessly lashed out against polytheism). The Meccans immediately
lifted the boycott, stopped the persecution, and peace again reigned in
Mecca. The Muslims who had migrated to Ethiopia heard the good news
and returned home. But by then, Muhammad had withdrawn his
confession. It appears that Muhammad realized the far reaching negative
effect his compromise with the polytheists would have on his ministry.
So on at least this one occasion, he admitted that he was actually
inspired by Satan, as we read in Surat al-Hajj:

“Never did we send an Apostle or a prophet before thee but
when he frame a desire, Satan threw some [vanity] into his
desire. But God will cancel anything [vain] that Satan throws in.
And God will confirm [and establish] his signs. For God is full of
knowledge and wisdom, that he may make the suggestions
thrown in by Satan, but a trial. For those in whose hearts is a
disease and who are hardened of heart: Verily the wrong doers
are in a schism far [from truth]” (Surat al-Hajj 22:52,53).

The Al-Jalalayn interpretation is that after Muhammad recited Surat
an-Najim (Sura 53) before a Council, the angel Gabriel informed him

Islam Reviewed 35

that the verses were put in his tongue by Satan. Muhammad felt sorry and
confessed his mistakes, supposing a similar fate befell preceding apostles.
Later on Allah annulled these Satanic verses with better “revela-
tions.” As the last part of verse 53 suggests, Allah supposedly permitted
Satanic utterances to be in the Koran to test weak Muslims or to cut off
those who had hardened hearts. Thus, Islam itself regards Sura 53:18-22
to be Satanic, and Muhammad did indeed reject them later. Remember
Salman Rushdie? He didn’t invent those Satanic verses. Those Satanic
verses are really in the Koran.

Here is a serious point for Muslims to ponder:

So, provably, there was one occasion when Muhammad was unable
to tell the difference between the voice of Satan and the voice of Allah.
Is that the only time it happened? Could there be other revelations
believed to be from Allah that were really from Satan? Is it possible that
the whole Koran is little more than Satanic verses?

Muslims claim that the Koran contains the words of Allah, 100%, but
the Koran not only has Satanic verses, but also a demonic sura. Unbeliev-
ably, a whole sura (chapter) in the Koran is named after the demons.
Shocking but true. Sura 72 is entitled Jinn (demons), Here is a short

“1. Say: It has been revealed to me that a company of Jinns
listened [to the Koran] They said, we have really heard a
wonderful Recital!
2. It gives guidance to the right, and we have believed therein
we shall not join [in worship] any [gods] with our Lord.
3. And exalted is the majesty of our Lord: He has taken neither
a wife nor a son.
4. There are some foolish ones among us who used to utter
extravagant lies against God.
5. But we do think that no man or spirit should say aught that
is untrue against God.
6. True, there were persons among mankind who took shelter
with persons among the jinns but they increased them in folly.
7. And they [came to] think as ye thought, that God would not
raise up anyone [to judgement].
8. And we pried into the secret of heaven: but we found it filled
with stern guards and flaming fires.

36 Islam Reviewed

9. We used, indeed, to sit there in [hidden] stations, to [steal] a
hearing: but any who listen now will find a flaming fire watch-
ing him in ambush.
10. And we understand not whether it is intended to those on
earth or whether their Lord [really] intends to guide them to
right conduct.
11. There are among us that are righteous and some the
contrary: we follow divergent path.
12. But we think that we can by no means frustrate God,
throughout the earth, nor can we frustrate Him by flight.
13. And as for us, since we have listened to the guidance, we
have accepted it: and any who believes in his Lord has no fear,
either of a short [account] or of any injustice.
14. Amongst us are some that submit their wills [to God] and
some that swerve from justice. Now those who submit their
wills-they sought out [the path] of right conduct.
15. But those who swerve, they are [but] fuel for hell fire.”

It should disturb every Muslim that demonic conversations are consid-
ered to be part of the supposed word of Allah. But upon reflection you
can see how and why they are.

First of all, let us define Jinns.

Advanced Learners Dictionary of Current English defined jinns to be
genies or goblins – mischievous demons – ugly looking evil spirits. The
Bible defines demons as angels who followed Satan in his rebellion
against God:

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought
against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and
prevailed not: neither was their place found anymore in heaven.
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the
Devil, and Satan which deceiveth the whole world; he was cast
out into the earth and his angels were cast out with him. (Rev.

No one should take a jinn’s claim seriously, that “some of them are
righteous,” Sura 72:11. Satan is the father of lies (John 19:44), so why
should we believe what his Jinns said in the Koran? Jinns, like their
Master (Satan), are liars. To deceive us, they gather half-baked truths
into bundles of lies. That demons and Satan are barred from the true

Islam Reviewed 37

heaven forever is indicated from their own confession in verses 8-9.

There they admit that they unsuccessfully tried to storm heaven but met
opposition from stern-looking angelic guards. Even their attempt to spy
at heaven was foiled as they admit in verse 9. The true nature and root
of Islam is revealed in verse 14 when the jinns, (whom the Bible God
cast out of heaven) became Muslims and found a refuge in Islam.

“Among us [jinns-demons] are some that submit wills (to God)
[i.e. Muslims] and some that swerve from justice. Now those
who submit their wills [demonic Muslims] they sought out [the
path] of right conduct.” (Sura 72, Jinn, 14).

God forbid that I should belong to the same religion that the arch-
enemies of God, the demons, also profess. Who could sponsor a religion
that includes God’s arch-enemies, i.e. the jinns (demons)? Only Satan
posing as Allah would do so. Before their conversion, the evil spirits
confessed what was later to be a central theme of Islam, that Allah has
neither taken a wife nor had a son (72:3).

It is clear at this point that while posing as the angel Gabriel and
claiming to be from Allah, one of these jinns (demons), gave Muhammad
a denial of the sonship of Christ and the fatherhood of God. This blatant
falsehood is repeated over twenty times in the Koran. Bearing in mind
the Satanic verses incident, one must acknowledge that the devil can
impersonate a holy angel. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). As an interesting
note, when Muhammad received his first “revelations,” he was not sure
of the source of them himself. His wife (Khadija) convinced him that
they must have come by the angel Gabriel.1

Muhammad’s encounter with the jinns (demons) is also recorded in
another sura, Sura 46, Al-Ahqaf, 29-32:

29: “Behold, we turned towards the company of jinns [quietly]
listening to the Koran; when they stood in thy presence thereof,
they said “Listen in silence!” when the (reading) was finished,
they returned to their people, to warn [them of their sins].
30: They said, O our people! we have heard a Book revealed
after Moses, confirming what came before it: It guides [men] to
the truth and to straight path.

1 See Yusuf Ali’s Commentary No. 31-33.

38 Islam Reviewed

31: O our people hearken to the one who invite [you] to God,
and believe in him: He will forgive you your faults, and deliver
you from a penalty grievous.
32: If any does not hearken to the one who invites [us] to God,
he cannot frustrate [God’s plan] on earth, and no protectors can
he have besides God; such men [wonders] in manifest errors.”

These are admissions, within the Koran, that Muhammad had actual
contacts with demons. This encounter is believed to have taken place at
a time Muhammad lost his first wife, Khadija, and his uncle, Abu Talib,
who had been protecting him all along. Muhammad tried to seek refuge
in Taif, a village on the hilly side of Mecca, but the villagers rejected him,
and he slipped out to the desert where the jinns (demons) met with him
as he recited the Koran.

This second sura, dealing with the same event as in Sura Jinn, goes
so far as to reveal that the jinns (demons), after listening to the Koran,
began to proclaim it to others. In other words, demons became mission-
aries for Islam. Their support for the Koran shows that the jinns and
Islam are inseparable. The conversion of seventy three Yatrib (Medina)
pagans to Islam, before the Prophet Muhammad even set foot there,
cannot be unconnected with the evangelistic activities of “faithful” jinns
(demons). As expert whisperers, demons whispered to villagers, “Lo! we
have heard a wonderful recitation, [i.e. the Koran], so believe it” (Sura
46:31). Obviously, demons played a crucial role in the formation of
Islam, and today they are playing a significant role in its spread. The
jinn’s are true Muslims!

December 2, 2010 Posted by | Christianity / God, Understanding Islam | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Origins of the Koran, Qu’ran, Qu’raan

The Origins of the Koran
From: The Origins of the Koran,
Classic Essays on Islam’s Holy Book Ed. Ibn Warraq. Prometheus Books

I. Introduction

The stereotypic image of the Muslim holy warrior with a sword in one hand and the Koran in the other would only be plausible if he was left handed, since no devout Muslim should or would touch a Koran with his left hand which is reserved for dirty chores. All Muslims revere the Koran with a reverence that borders on bibliolatry and superstition. “It is,” as Guillaume remarked, “the holy of holies. It must never rest beneath other books, but always on top of them, one must never drink or smoke when it is being read aloud, and it must be listened to in silence. It is a talisman against disease and disaster.”

In some Westerners it engenders other emotions. For Gibbon it was an “incoherent rhapsody of fable,” for Carlyle an “insupportable stupidity,” while here is what the German scholar Salomon Reinach thought: “From the literary point of view, the Koran has little merit. Declamation, repetition, puerility, a lack of logic and coherence strike the unprepared reader at every turn. It is humiliating to the human intellect to think that this mediocre literature has been the subject of innumerable commentaries, and that millions of men are still wasting time absorbing it.”

For us in studying the Koran it is necessary to distinguish the historical from the theological attitude. Here we are only concerned with those truths that are yielded by a process of rational enquiry, by scientific examination. “Critical investigation of the text of the Qu’ran is a study which is still in its infancy,” wrote the Islamic scholar Arthur Jeffery in 1937. In 1977 John Wansbrough noted that “as a document susceptible of analysis by the instruments and techniques of Biblical criticism [the Koran] is virtually unknown.” By 1990, more than fifty years after Jeffery’s lament, we still have the scandalous situation described by Andrew Rippin:

I have often encountered individuals who come to the study of Islam with a background in the historical study of the Hebrew Bible or early Christianity, and who express surprise at the lack of critical thought that appears in introductory textbooks on Islam. The notion that “Islam was born in the clear light of history” still seems to be assumed by a great many writers of such texts. While the need to reconcile varying historical traditions is generally recognized, usually this seems to pose no greater problem to the authors than having to determine “what makes sense” in a given situation. To students acquainted with approaches such as source criticism, oral formulaic compositions, literary analysis and structuralism, all quite commonly employed in the study of Judaism and Christianity, such naive historical study seems to suggest that Islam is being approached with less than academic candor.

The questions any critical investigation of the Koran hopes to answer are:

1. How did the Koran come to us.?—That is the compilation and the transmission of the Koran.

2. When was it written, and who wrote it?

3. What are the sources of the Koran? Where were the stories, legends, and principles that abound in the Koran acquired?

4. What is the Koran? Since there never was a textus receptus ne varietur of the Koran, we need to decide its authenticity.

I shall begin with the traditional account that is more or less accepted by most Western scholars, and then move on to the views of a small but very formidable, influential, and growing group of scholars inspired by the work of John Wansbrough.

According to the traditional account the Koran was revealed to Muhammad, usually by an angel, gradually over a period of years until his death in 632 C.E. It is not clear how much of the Koran had been written down by the time of Muhammad’s death, but it seems probable that there was no single manuscript in which the Prophet himself had collected all the revelations. Nonetheless, there are traditions which describe how the Prophet dictated this or that portion of the Koran to his secretaries.

The Collection Under Abu Bakr

Henceforth the traditional account becomes more and more confused; in fact there is no one tradition but several incompatible ones. According to one tradition, during Abu Bakr’s brief caliphate (632-634), ‘Umar, who himself was to succeed to the caliphate in 634, became worried at the fact that so many Muslims who had known the Koran by heart were killed during the Battle of Yamama, in Central Arabia. There was a real danger that parts of the Koran would be irretrievably lost unless a collection of the Koran was made before more of those who knew this or that part of the Koran by heart were killed. Abu Bakr eventually gave his consent to such a project, and asked Zayd ibn Thabit, the former secretary of the Prophet, to undertake this daunting task. So Zayd proceeded to collect the Koran “from pieces of papyrus, flat stones, palm leaves, shoulder blades and ribs of animals, pieces of leather and wooden boards, as well as from the hearts of men.” Zayd then copied out what he had collected on sheets or leaves (Arabic, suhuf). Once complete, the Koran was handed over to Abu Bakr, and on his death passed to ‘Umar, and upon his death passed to ‘Umar’s daughter, Hafsa.

There are however different versions of this tradition; in some it is suggested that it was Abu Bakr who first had the idea to make the collection; in other versions the credit is given to Ali, the fourth caliph and the founder of the Shias; other versions still completely exclude Abu Bakr. Then, it is argued that such a difficult task could not have been accomplished in just two years. Again, it is unlikely that those who died in the Battle of Yamama, being new converts, knew any of the Koran by heart. But what is considered the most telling point against this tradition of the first collection of the Koran under Abu Bakr is that once the collection was made it was not treated as an official codex, but almost as the private property of Hafsa. In other words, we find that no authority is attributed to Abu Bakr’s Koran. It has been suggested that the entire story was invented to take the credit of having made the first official collection of the Koran away from ‘Uthman, the third caliph, who was greatly disliked. Others have suggested that it was invented “to take the collection of the Quran back as near as possible to Muhammad’s death.”

The Collection Under ‘Uthman

According to tradition, the next step was taken under ‘Uthman (644-656). One of ‘Uthman’s generals asked the caliph to make such a collection because serious disputes had broken out among his troops from different provinces in regard to the correct readings of the Koran. ‘Uthman chose Zayd ibn Thabit to prepare the official text. Zayd, with the help of three members of noble Meccan families, carefully revised the Koran comparing his version with the “leaves” in the possession of Hafsa, ‘Umar’s daughter; and as instructed, in case of difficulty as to the reading, Zayd followed the dialect of the Quraysh, the Prophet’s tribe. The copies of the new version, which must have been completed between 650 and ‘Uthman’s death in 656, were sent to Kufa, Basra, Damascus, and perhaps Mecca, and one was, of course, kept in Medina. All other versions were ordered to be destroyed.

This version of events is also open to criticism. The Arabic found in the Koran is not a dialect. In some versions the number of people working on the commission with Zayd varies, and in some are included the names of persons who were enemies of ‘Uthman, and the name of someone known to have died before these events! This phase two of the story does not mention Zayd’s part in the original collection of the Koran discussed in phase one.

Apart from Wansbrough and his disciples, whose work we shall look at in a moment, most modern scholars seem to accept that the establishment of the text of the Koran took place under ‘Uthman between 650 and 656, despite all the criticisms mentioned above. They accept more or less the traditional account of the ‘Uthmanic collection, it seems to me, without giving a single coherent reason for accepting this second tradition as opposed to the first tradition of the collection under Abu Bakr. There is a massive gap in their arguments, or rather they offer no arguments at all. For instance, Charles Adams after enumerating the difficulties with the ‘Uthmanic story, concludes with breathtaking abruptness and break in logic, “Despite the difficulties with the traditional accounts there can be no question of the importance of the codex prepared under ‘Uthman.” But nowhere has it yet been established that it was indeed under ‘Uthman that the Koran as we know it was prepared. It is simply assumed all along that it was under ‘Uthman that the Koran was established in its final form, and all we have to do is to explain away some of the difficulties. Indeed, we can apply the same arguments to dismiss the ‘Uthmanic story as were used to dismiss the Abu Bakr story. That is, we can argue that the ‘Uthmanic story was invented by the enemies of Abu Bakr and the friends of ‘Uthman; political polemics can equally be said to have played their part in the fabrication of this later story. It also leaves unanswered so many awkward questions. What were these “leaves” in the possession of Hafsa? And if the Abu Bakr version is pure forgery where did Hafsa get hold of them? Then what are those versions that seemed to be floating around in the provinces? When were these alternative texts compiled, and by whom? Can we really pick and choose, at our own will, from amongst the variants, from the contradictory traditions? There are no compelling reasons for accepting the ‘Uthmanic story and not the Abu Bakr one; after all they are all gleaned from the same sources, which are all exceedingly late, tendentious in the extreme, and all later fabrications, as we shall see later.

But I have even more fundamental problems in accepting any of these traditional accounts at their face value. When listening to these accounts, some very common- sensical objections arise which no one seems to have dared to ask. First, all these stories place an enormous burden on the memories of the early Muslims. Indeed, scholars are compelled to exaggerate the putatively prodigious memories of the Arabs. Muhammad could not read or write according to some traditions, and therefore everything depends on him having perfectly memorized what God revealed to him through His Angels. Some of the stories in the Koran are enormously long; for instance, the story of Joseph takes up a whole chapter of 111 verses. Are we really to believe that Muhammad remembered it exactly as it was revealed?

Similarly the Companions of the Prophet are said to have memorized many of his utterances. Could their memories never have failed? Oral traditions have a tendency to change over time, and they cannot be relied upon to construct a reliable, scientific history. Second, we seem to assume that the Companions of the Prophet heard and understood him perfectly.

Variant Versions, Verses Missing, Verses Added

Almost without exceptions Muslims consider that the Quran we now possess goes back in its text and in the number and order of the chapters to the work of the commission that ‘Uthman appointed. Muslim orthodoxy holds further that ‘Uthman’s Quran contains all of the revelation delivered to the community faithfully preserved without change or variation of any kind and that the acceptance of the ‘Uthmanic Quran was all but universal from the day of its distribution.
The orthodox position is motivated by dogmatic factors; it cannot be supported by the historical evidence….

Charles Adams

While modern Muslims may be committed to an impossibly conservative position, Muslim scholars of the early years of Islam were far more flexible, realizing that parts of the Koran were lost, perverted, and that there were many thousand variants which made it impossible to talk of the Koran. For example, As-Suyuti (died 1505), one of the most famous and revered of the commentators of the Koran, quotes Ibn ‘Umar al Khattab as saying: “Let no one of you say that he has acquired the entire Quran, for how does he know that it is all? Much of the Quran has been lost, thus let him say, ‘I have acquired of it what is available’” (As-Suyuti, Itqan, part 3, page 72). A’isha, the favorite wife of the Prophet, says, also according to a tradition recounted by as-Suynti, “During the time of the Prophet, the chapter of the Parties used to be two hundred verses when read. When ‘Uthman edited the copies of the Quran, only the current (verses) were recorded” (73).

As-Suyuti also tells this story about Uba ibn Ka’b, one of the great companions of Muhammad:

This famous companion asked one of the Muslims, “How many verses in the chapter of the Parties?” He said, “Seventy-three verses.” He (Uba) told him, “It used to be almost equal to the chapter of the Cow (about 286 verses) and included the verse of the stoning”. The man asked, “What is the verse of the stoning?” He (Uba) said, “If an old man or woman committed adultery, stone them to death.”

As noted earlier, since there was no single document collecting all the revelations, after Muhammad’s death in 632 C.E., many of his followers tried to gather all the known revelations and write them down in codex form. Soon we had the codices of several scholars such as Ibn Masud, Uba ibn Ka’b, ‘Ali, Abu Bakr, al-Aswad, and others (Jeffery, chapter 6, has listed fifteen primary codices, and a large number of secondary ones). As Islam spread, we eventually had what became known as the metropolitan codices in the centers of Mecca, Medina, Damascus, Kufa, and Basra. As we saw earlier, ‘Uthman tried to bring order to this chaotic situation by canonizing the Medinan Codex, copies of which were sent to all the metropolitan centers, with orders to destroy all the other codices.

‘Uthman’s codex was supposed to standardize the consonantal text, yet we find that many of the variant traditions of this consonantal text survived well into the fourth Islamic century. The problem was aggravated by the fact that the consonantal text was unpointed, that is to say, the dots that distinguish, for example, a “b” from a “t” or a “th” were missing. Several other letters (f and q; j, h, and kh; s and d; r and z; s and sh; d and dh, t and z) were indistinguishable. In other words, the Koran was written in a scripta defectiva. As a result, a great many variant readings were possible according to the way the text was pointed (had the dots added).

Vowels presented an even worse problem. Originally, the Arabs had no signs for the short vowels: the Arab script is consonantal. Although the short vowels are sometimes omitted, they can be represented by orthographical signs placed above or below the letters—three signs in all, taking the form of a slightly slanting dash or a comma. After having settled the consonants, Muslims still had to decide what vowels to employ: using different vowels, of course, rendered different readings. The scripta plena, which allowed a fully voweled and pointed text, was not perfected until the late ninth century.

The problems posed by the scripta defectiva inevitably led to the growth of different centers with their own variant traditions of how the texts should be pointed or vowelized. Despite ‘Uthman’s order to destroy all texts other than his own, it is evident that the older codices survived. As Charles Adams says, “It must be emphasized that far from there being a single text passed down inviolate from the time of ‘Uthman’s commission, literally thousands of variant readings of particular verses were known in the first three (Muslim) centuries. These variants affected even the ‘Uthmanic codex, making it difficult to know what its true form may have been.”

Some Muslims preferred codices other than the ‘Uthmanic, for example, those of Ibn Mas’ud, Uba ibn Ka’b, and Abu Musa. Eventually, under the influence of the great Koranic scholar Ibn Mujahid (died 935), there was a definite canonization of one system of consonants and a limit placed on the variations of vowels used in the text that resulted in acceptance of seven systems. But other scholars accepted ten readings, and still others accepted fourteen readings. Even Ibn Mujahid’s seven provided fourteen possibilities since each of the seven was traced through two different transmitters, viz,

1. Nafi of Medina according to Warsh and Qalun

2. Ibn Kathir of Mecca according to al-Bazzi and Qunbul

3. Ibn Amir of Damascus according to Hisham and Ibn Dakwan

4. Abu Amr of Basra according to al-Duri and al-Susi

5. Asim of Kufa according to Hafs and Abu Bakr

6. Hamza of Kuga according to Khalaf and Khallad

7. Al-Kisai of Kufa according to al Duri and Abul Harith

In the end three systems prevailed, those of Warsh (d. 812) from Nafi of Medina, Hafs (d. 805) from Asim of Kufa, and al-Duri (d. 860) from Abu Amr of Basra. At present in modern Islam, two versions seem to be in use: that of Asim of Kufa through Hafs, which was given a kind of official seal of approval by being adopted in the Egyptian edition of the Koran in 1924; and that of Nafi through Warsh, which is used in parts of Africa other than Egypt.

As Charles Adams reminds us:

It is of some importance to call attention to a possible source of misunderstanding with regard to the variant readings of the Quran. The seven (versions) refer to actual written and oral text, to distinct versions of Quranic verses, whose differences, though they may not be great, are nonetheless substantial. Since the very existence of variant readings and versions of the Quran goes against the doctrinal position toward the Holy Book held by many modern Muslims, it is not uncommon in an apologetic context to hear the seven (versions) explained as modes of recitation; in fact the manner and technique of recitation are an entirely different matter.

Guillaume also refers to the variants as “not always trifling in significance.” For example, the last two verses of sura LXXXV, Al Buraj, read: (21) hawa qur’anun majidun; (22) fi lawhin mahfuzun/in. The last syllable is in doubt. If it is in the genitive -in, it gives the meaning “It is a glorious Koran on a preserved tablet”—a reference to the Muslim doctrine of the Preserved Tablet. If it is the nominative ending -un, we get “It is a glorious Koran preserved on a tablet.” There are other passages with similar difficulties dealing with social legislation.

If we allow that there were omissions, then why not additions? The authenticity of many verses in the Koran has been called into question by Muslims themselves. Many Kharijites, who were followers of ‘Ali in the early history of Islam, found the sura recounting the story of Joseph offensive, an erotic tale that did not belong in the Koran. Hirschfeld questioned the authenticity of verses in which the name Muhammad occurs, there being something rather suspicious in such a name, meaning ‘Praised’, being borne by the Prophet. The name was certainly not very common. However the Prophet’s name does occur in documents that have been accepted as genuine, such as the Constitution of Medina.

Most scholars believe that there are interpolations in the Koran; these interpolations can be seen as interpretative glosses on certain rare words in need of explanation. More serious are the interpolations of a dogmatic or political character, which seem to have been added to justify the elevation of ‘Uthman as caliph to the detriment of ‘Ali. Then there are other verses that have been added in the interest of rhyme, or to join together two short passages that on their own lack any connection.

Bell and Watt carefully go through many of the amendments and revisions and point to the unevenness of the Koranic style as evidence for a great many alterations in the Koran:

There are indeed many roughness of this kind, and these, it is here claimed, are fundamental evidence for revision. Besides the points already noticed—hidden rhymes, and rhyme phrases not woven into the texture of the passage—there are the following abrupt changes of rhyme; repetition of the same rhyme word or rhyme phrase in adjoining verses; the intrusion of an extraneous subject into a passage otherwise homogeneous; a differing treatment of the same subject in neighbouring verses, often with repetition of words and phrases; breaks in grammatical construction which raise difficulties in exegesis; abrupt changes in length of verse; sudden changes of the dramatic situation, with changes of pronoun from singular to plural, from second to third person, and so on; the juxtaposition of apparently contrary statements; the juxtaposition of passages of different date, with intrusion of fare phrases into early verses.
In many cases a passage has alternative continuations which follow one another in the present text. The second of the alternatives is marked by a break in sense and by a break in grammatical construction, since the connection is not with what immediately precedes, but with what stands some distance back.

The Christian al-Kindi (not to be confused with the Arab, Muslim philosopher) writing around 830 C.E., criticized the Koran in similar terms:

The result of all this (process by which the Quran came into being) is patent to you who have read the scriptures and see how, in your book, histories are jumbled together and intermingled; an evidence that many different hands have been at work therein, and caused discrepancies, adding or cutting out whatever they liked or disliked. Are such, now, the conditions of a revelation sent down from heaven?

Skepticism of the Sources

The traditional accounts of the life of Muhammad and the story of the origin and rise of Islam, including the compilation of the Koran, are based exclusively on Muslim sources, particularly the Muslim biographies of Muhammad, and the Hadith, that is the Muslim traditions.

The Prophet Muhammad died in 632 C.E. The earliest material on his life that we possess was written by Ibn Ishaq in 750 C.E., in other words, a hundred twenty years after Muhammad’s death. The question of authenticity becomes even more critical, because the original form of Ibn Ishaq’s work is lost and is only available in parts in a later recension by Ibn Hisham who died in 834 C.E., two hundred years after the death of the Prophet.

The Hadith are a collection of sayings and doings attributed to the Prophet and traced back to him through a series of putatively trustworthy witnesses (any particular chain of transmitters is called an isnad). These Hadith include the story of the compilation of the Koran, and the sayings of the companions of the Prophet. There are said to be six correct or authentic collections of traditions accepted by Sunni Muslims, namely, the compilations of Bukhari, Muslim, Ibn Maja, Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi, and al-Nisai. Again it is worth noting that all these sources are very late indeed. Bukhari died 238 years after the death of the Prophet, while al-Nisai died over 280 years after!

The historical and biographical tradition concerning Muhammad and the early years of Islam was submitted to a thorough examination at the end of the nineteenth century. Up to then careful scholars were well aware of the legendary and theological elements in these traditions, and that there were traditions which originated from party motive and which intended “to give an appearance of historical foundation to the particular interests of certain persons or families; but it was thought that after some sifting there yet remained enough to enable us to form a much clearer sketch of Muhammad’s life than that of any other of the founders of a universal religion.” This illusion was shattered by Wellhausen, Caetani, and Lammens who called “one after another of the data of Muslim tradition into question.”

Wellhausen divided the old historical traditions as found in the ninth- and tenth-century compilations in two: first, an authentic primitive tradition, definitively recorded in the late eighth century, and second a parallel version which was deliberately forged to rebut this. The second version was full of tendentious fiction, and was to be found in the work of historians such as Sayf b. ‘Umar (see above). Prince Caetani and Father Lammens cast doubt even on data hitherto accepted as “objective.” The biographers of Muhammad were too far removed from his time to have true data or notions; far from being objective the data rested on tendentious fiction; furthermore it was not their aim to know these things as they really happened, but to construct an ideal vision of the past, as it ought to have been. “Upon the bare canvas of verses of the Koran that need explanation, the traditionists have embroidered with great boldness scenes suitable to the desires or ideals of their paricular group; or to use a favorite metaphor of Lammens, they fill the empty spaces by a process of stereotyping which permits the critical observer to recognize the origin of each picture.”

As Lewis puts it, “Lammens went so far as to reject the entire biography as no more than a conjectural and tendentious exegesis of a few passages of biographical content in the Quran, devised and elaborated by later generations of believers.”

Even scholars who rejected the extreme skepticism of Caetani and Lammens were forced to recognize that “of Muhammad’s life before his appearance as the messenger of God, we know extremely little; compared to the legendary biography as treasured by the faithful, practically nothing.”

The ideas of the Positivist Caetani and the Jesuit Lammens were never forgotten, and indeed they were taken up by a group of Soviet Islamologists, and pushed to their extreme but logical conclusions. The ideas of the Soviet scholars were in turn taken up in the 1970s, by Cook, Crone, and other disciples of Wansbrough.

What Caetani and Lammens did for historical biography, Ignaz Goldziher did for the study of Hadith. Goldziher has had an enormous influence in the field of Islamic studies, and it is no exaggeration to say that he is, along with Hurgronje and Noldeke, one of the founding fathers of the modern study of Islam. Practically everything he wrote between roughly 1870 and 1920 is still studied assiduously in universities throughout the world. In his classic paper, “On the Development of Hadith,” Goldziher “demonstrated that a vast number of Hadith accepted even in the most rigorously critical Muslim collections were outright forgeries from the late 8th and 9th centuries—and as a consequence, that the meticulous isnads [chains of transmitters] which supported them were utterly fictitious.”

Faced with Goldziher’s impeccably documented arguments, historians began to panic and devise spurious ways of keeping skepticism at bay, such as, for instance, postulating ad hoc distinctions between legal and historical traditions. But as Humphreys says, in their formal structure, the Hadirh and historical traditions were very similar; furthermore many eighth- and ninth-century Muslim scholars had worked on both kinds of texts. “Altogether, if hadith isnads were suspect, so then should be the isnads attached to historical reports.”

As Goldziher puts it himself, “close acquaintance with the vast stock of hadiths induces sceptical caution,” and he considers by far the greater part of the Hadith “the result of the religious, historical and social development of Islam during the first two centuries.” The Hadith is useless as a basis for any scientific history, and can only serve as a “reflection of the tendencies” of the early Muslim community.

Here I need to interpose a historical digression, if we are to have a proper understanding of Goldziher’s arguments. After the death of the Prophet, four of his companions succeeded him as leaders of the Muslim community; the last of the four was ‘Ali, the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law. ‘Ali was unable to impose his authority in Syria where the governor was Mu’awiya who adopted the war cry of “Vengeance for ‘Uthman” against ‘Ali (Mu’awiya and ‘Uthman were related and both belonged to the Meccan clan of Umayya). The forces of the two met in an indecisive battle at Siffin. After ‘Ali’s murder in 661, Mu’awiya became the first caliph of the dynasty we know as the Umayyad, which endured until 750 C.E. The Umayyads were deposed by the ‘Abbasids, who lasted in Iraq and Baghdad until the thirteenth century.

During the early years of the Umayyad dynasty, many Muslims were totally ignorant in regard to ritual and doctrine. The rulers themselves had little enthusiasm for religion, and generally despised the pious and the ascetic. The result was that there arose a group of pious men who shamelessly fabricated traditions for the good of the community, and traced them back to the authority of the Prophet. They opposed the godless Umayyads but dared not say so openly, so they invented further traditions dedicated to praising the Prophet’s family, hence indirectly giving their allegiance to the party of ‘Ali supporters. As Goldziher puts it, “The ruling power itself was not idle. If it wished an opinion to be generally recognized and the opposition of pious circles silenced; it too had to know how to discover a hadith to suit its purpose. They had to do what their opponents did: invent and have invented, hadiths in their turn. And that is in effect what they did.” Goldziher continues:

Official influences on the invention, dissemination and suppression of traditions started early. An instruction given to his obedient governor al Mughira by Muawiya is in the spirit of the Umayyads: “Do not tire of abusing and insulting Ali and calling for God’s mercifulness for ‘Uthman, defaming the companions of Ali, removing them and omitting to listen to them (i.e., to what they tell and propagate as hadiths); praising in contrast, the clan of ‘Uthman, drawing them near to you and listening to them.” This is an official encouragement to foster the rise and spread of hadiths directed against Ali and to hold back and suppress hadiths favoring Ali. The Umayyads and their political followers had no scruples in promoting tendentious lies in a sacred religious form, and they were only concerned to find pious authorities who would be prepared to cover such falsifications with their undoubted authority. There was never any lack of these.

Hadiths were liable to be fabricated even for the most trivial ritualistic details. Tendentiousness included the suppression of existing utterances friendly to the rival party or dynasty. Under the ‘Abbasids, the fabrications of hadiths greatly multiplied, with the express purpose of proving the legitimacy of their own clan against the ‘Alids. For example, the Prophet was made to say that Abu Talib, father of ‘Ali, was sitting deep in hell: “Perhaps my intercession will be of use to him on the day of resurrection so that he may be transferred into a pool of fire which reaches only up to the ankles but which is still hot enough to burn the brain.” Naturally enough this was countered by the theologians of the ‘Alias by devising numerous traditions concerning the glorification of Abu Talib, all sayings of the prophet. “In fact,” as Goldziher shows, amongst the opposing factions, “the mischievous use of tendentious traditions was even more common than the official party.”

Eventually storytellers made a good living inventing entertaining Hadiths, which the credulous masses lapped up eagerly. To draw the crowds the storytellers shrank from nothing. “The handling down of hadiths sank to the level of a business very early. Journeys (in search of hadiths) favored the greed of those who succeeded in pretending to be a source of the hadith, and with increasing demand sprang up an even increasing desire to be paid in cash for the hadiths supplied.”

Of course many Muslims were aware that forgeries abounded. But even the so-called six authentic collections of hadiths compiled by Bukhari and others were not as rigorous as might have been hoped. The six had varying criteria for including a Hadith as genuine or not—some were rather liberal in their choice, others rather arbitrary. Then there was the problem of the authenticity of the texts of these compilers. For example, at one point there were a dozen different Bukhari texts; and apart from these variants, there were deliberate interpolations. As Goldziher warns us, “It would be wrong to think that the canonical authority of the two [collections of Bukhari and Muslim] is due to the undisputed correctness of their contents and is the result of scholarly investigations.” Even a tenth century critic pointed out the weaknesses of two hundred traditions incorporated in the works of Muslim and Bukhari.

Goldziher’s arguments were followed up, nearly sixty years later, by another great Islamicist, Joseph Schacht, whose works on Islamic law are considered classics in the field of Islamic studies. Schacht’s conclusions were even more radical and perturbing, and the full implications of these conclusions have not yet sunk in.

Humphreys sums up Schacht’s theses as: (1) that isnads [the chain of transmitters] going all the way back to the Prophet only began to be widely used around the time of the Abbasid Revolution—i.e., the mid-8th century; (2) that ironically, the more elaborate and formally correct an isnad appeared to be, the more likely it was to be spurious. In general, he concluded, “NO existing hadith could be reliably ascribed to the prophet, though some of them might ultimately be rooted in his teaching. And though [Schacht] devoted only a few pages to historical reports about the early Caliphate, he explicitly asserted that the same strictures should apply to them.” Schacht’s arguments were backed up by a formidable list of references, and they could not be dismissed easily. Here is how Schacht himself sums up his own thesis:

It is generally conceded that the criticism of traditions as practiced by the Muhammadan scholars is inadequate and that, however many forgeries may have been eliminated by it, even the classical corpus contains a great many traditions which cannot possibly be authentic. All efforts to extract from this often self-contradictory mass an authentic core by “historic intuition”… have failed. Goldziher, in another of his fundamental works, has not only voiced his “sceptical reserve” with regard to the traditions contained even in the classical collections [i.e., the collections of Bukhari, Muslim, et al.], but shown positively that the great majority of traditions from the Prophet are documents not of the time to which they claim to belong, but of the successive stages of development of doctrines during the first centuries of Islam. This brilliant discovery became the corner-stone of all serious investigation…

This book [i.e., Schacht’s own book] will be found to confirm Goldziher’s results, and go beyond them in the following respects: a great many traditions in the classical and other collections were put into circulation only after Shafi‘i’s time [Shafi‘i was the founder of the very important school of law which bears his name; he died in 820 C.E.]; the first considerable body of legal traditions from the Prophet originated towards the middle of the second [Muslim] century [i.e., eighth century C.E.], in opposition to slightly earlier traditions from the Companions and other authorities, and to the living tradition of the ancient schools of law; traditions from Companions and other authorities underwent the same process of growth, and are to be considered in the same light, as traditions from the Prophet; the study of isnads show a tendency to grow backwards and to claim higher and higher authority until they arrive at the Prophet; the evidence of legal traditions carries back to about the year 100 A.H. [718 C.E.]…

Schacht proves that, for example, a tradition did not exist at a particular time by showing that it was not used as a legal argument in a discussion which would have made reference to it imperative, if it had existed. For Schacht every legal tradition from the Prophet must be taken as inauthentic and the fictitious expression of a legal doctrine formulated at a later date: “We shall not meet any legal tradition from the Prophet which can positively be considered authentic.”

Traditions were formulated polemically in order to rebut a contrary doctrine or practice; Schacht calls these traditions “counter traditions.” Doctrines, in this polemical atmosphere, were frequently projected back to higher authorities: “traditions from Successors [to the Prophet] become traditions from Companions [of the Prophet], and traditions from Companions become traditions from the Prophet.” Details from the life of the Prophet were invented to support legal doctrines.

Schacht then criticizes isnads which “were often put together very carelessly. Any typical representative of the group whose doctrine was to be projected back on to an ancient authority, could be chosen at random and put into the isnad. We find therefore a number of alternative names in otherwise identical isnads.”

Shacht “showed that the beginnings of Islamic law cannot be traced further back than to about a century after the Prophet’s death.” Islamic law did not directly derive from the Koran but developed out of popular and administrative practice under the Ummayads, and this “practice often diverged from the intentions and even the explicit wording of the Koran.” Norms derived from the Koran were introduced into Islamic law at a secondary stage.

A group of scholars was convinced of the essential soundness of Schacht’s analysis, and proceeded to work out in full detail the implications of Schacht’s arguments. The first of these scholars was John Wansbrough, who in two important though formidably difficult books, Quaranic Studies: Sources and Methods of Scriptural Interpretation (1977) and The Sectarian Milieu: Content and Composition of Islamic Salvation History (1978), showed that the Koran and Hadith grew out of sectarian controversies over a long period, perhaps as long as two centuries, and then was projected back onto an invented Arabian point of origin. He further argued that Islam emerged only w hen it came into contact with and under the influence of Rabbinic Judaism—”that Islamic doctrine generally, and even the figure of Muhammad, were molded on Rabbinic Jewish prototypes.” “Proceeding from these conclusions, The Sectarian Milieu analyses early Islamic historiography—or rather the interpretive myths underlying this historiography—as a late manifestation of Old Testament ‘salvation history.’”

Wansbrough shows that far from being fixed in the seventh century, the definitive text of the Koran had still not been achieved as late as the ninth century. An Arabian origin for Islam is highly unlikely: the Arabs gradually formulated their creed as they came into contact with Rabbinic Judaism outside the Hijaz (Central Arabia, containing the cities of Mecca and Medina). “Quranic allusion presupposes familiarity with the narrative material of Judaeo-Christian scripture, which was not so much reformulated as merely referred to…. Taken together, the quantity of reference, the mechanically repetitious employment of rhetorical convention, and the stridently polemical style, all suggest a strongly sectarian atmosphere in which a corpus of familiar scripture was being pressed into the service of as yet unfamiliar doctrine.” Elsewhere Wansbrough says, “[The] challenge to produce an identical or superior scripture (or portion thereof), expressed five times in the Quranic text can be explained only within a context of Jewish polemic.”

Earlier scholars such as Torrey, recognizing the genuine borrowings in the Koran from Rabbinic literature, had jumped to conclusions about the Jewish population in the Hijaz (i.e., Central Arabia). But as Wansbrough puts it, “References in Rabbinic literature to Arabia are of remarkably little worth for purposes of historical reconstruction, and especially for the Hijaz in the sixth and seventh centuries.

Much influenced by the Rabbinic accounts, the early Muslim community took Moses as an exemplum, and then a portrait of Muhammad emerged, but only gradually and in response to the needs of a religious community. This community was anxious to establish Muhammad’s credentials as a prophet on the Mosaic model; this evidently meant there had to be a Holy Scripture, which would be seen as testimony to his prophethood. Another gradual development was the emergence of the idea of the Arabian origins of Islam. To this end, there was elaborated the concept of a sacred language, Arabic. The Koran was said to be handed down by God in pure Arabic. It is significant that the ninth century also saw the first collections of the ancient poetry of the Arabs: “The manner in which this material was manipulated by its collectors to support almost any argument appears never to have been very successfully concealed.” Thus Muslim philologists were able to give, for instance, an early date to a poem ascribed to Nabigha Jadi, a pre-Islamic poet, in order to “provide a pre-Islamic proof text for a common Quranic construction.” The aim in appealing to the authority of pre-Islamic poetry was twofold: first to give ancient authority to their own Holy Scripture, to push back this sacred text into an earlier period, and thus give their text greater authenticity, a text which in reality had been fabricated in the later ninth century, along with all the supporting traditions. Second, it gave a specifically Arabian flavor, an Arabian setting to their religion, something distinct from Judaism and Christianity. Exegetical traditions were equally fictitious and had but one aim, to demonstrate the Hijazi origins of Islam. Wansbrough gives some negative evidence to show that the Koran had not achieved any definitive form before the ninth century:

Schacht’s studies of the early development of legal doctrine within the community demonstrate that with very few exceptions, Muslim jurisprudence was not derived from the contents of the Quran. It may be added that those few exceptions are themselves hardly evidence for the existence of the canon, and further observed that even where doctrine was alleged to draw upon scripture, such is nor necessarily proof of the earlier existence of the scriptural source. Derivation of law from scripture… was a phenomenon of the ninth century….A similar kind of negative evidence is absence of any reference to the Quran in the Fiqh Akbar I….

The latter is a document, dated to the middle of the eighth century, which was a kind of statement of the Muslim creed in face of sects. Thus the Fiqh Akbar I represents the views of the orthodoxy on the then prominent dogmatic questions. It seems unthinkable had the Koran existed that no reference would have been made to it.

Wansbrough submits the Koran to a highly technical analysis with the aim of showing that it cannot have been deliberately edited by a few men, but “rather the product of an organic development from originally independent traditions during a long period of transmission.”

Wansbrough was to throw cold water on the idea that the Koran was the only hope for genuine historical information regarding the Prophet; an idea summed up by Jeffery, “The dominant note in this advanced criticism is ‘back to the Koran.’ As a basis for critical biography the Traditions are practically worthless; in the Koran alone can we be said to have firm ground under our feet.” But as Wansbrough was to show: “The role of the Quran in the delineation of an Arabian prophet was peripheral: evidence of a divine communication but not a report of its circumstances…. The very notion of biographical data in the Quran depends on exegetical principles derived from material external to the canon.”

A group of scholars influenced by Wansbrough took an even more radical approach; they rejected wholesale the entire Islamic version of early Islamic history. Michael Cook, Patricia Crone, and Martin Hinds writing between 1977 and 1987

regard the whole established version of Islamic history down at least to the time of Abd al-Malik (685-705) as a later fabrication, and reconstruct the Arab Conquests and the formation of the Caliphate as a movement of peninsular Arabs who had been inspired by Jewish messianism to try to reclaim the Promised Land. In this interpretation, Islam emerged as an autonomous religion and culture only within the process of a long struggle for identity among the disparate peoples yoked together by the Conquests: Jacobite Syrians, Nestorian Aramaeans in Iraq, Copts, Jews, and (finally) peninsular Arabs.

The traditional account of the life of Muhammad and the rise of Islam is no longer accepted by Cook, Crone, and Hinds. In the shore but pithy monograph on Muhammad in the Oxford Past Masters series, Cook gives his reasons for rejecting the biographical traditions:

False ascription was rife among the eighth-century scholars, and…in any case Ibn Ishaq and his contemporaries were drawing on oral tradition. Neither of these propositions is as arbitrary as it sounds. We have reason to believe that numerous traditions on questions of dogma and law were provided with spuriousus chains of authorities by those who put them into circulation; and at the same time we have much evidence of controversy in the eighth century as to whether it was permissible to reduce oral tradition to writing. The implications of this view for the reliability of our sources are clearly rather negative. If we cannot trust the chains of authorities, we can no longer claim to know that we have before us the separately transmitted accounts of independent witnesses; and if knowledge of the life of Muhammad was transmitted orally for a century before it was reduced to writing, then the chances are that the material will have undergone considerable alteration in the process.

Cook then looks at the non-Muslim sources: Greek, Syriac, and Armenian. Here a totally unexpected picture emerges. Though there is no doubt that someone called Muhammad existed, that he was a merchant, that something significant happened in 622, that Abraham was central to his teaching, there is no indication that Muhammad’s career unfolded in inner Arabia, there is no mention of Mecca, and the Koran makes no appearance until the last years of the seventh century. Further, it emerges from this evidence that the Muslims prayed in a direction much further north than Mecca, hence their sanctuary cannot have been in Mecca. “Equally, when the first Koranic quotations appear on coins and inscriptions towards the end of the seventh century, they show divergences from the canonical text. These are trivial from the point of view of content, but the fact that they appear in such formal contexts as these goes badly with the notion that the text had already been frozen.”

The earliest Greek source speaks of Muhammad being alive in 634, two years after his death according to Muslim tradition. Where the Muslim accounts talk of Muhammad’s break with the Jews, the Armenian version differs strikingly:

The Armenian chronicler of the 660s describes Muhammad as establishing a community which comprised both Ishmaelites (i.e., Arabs) and Jews, with Abrahamic descent as their common platform; these allies then set off to conquer Palestine. The oldest Greek source makes the sensational statement that the prophet who had appeared among the Saracens (i.e., Arabs) was proclaiming the coming of the (Jewish) messiah, and speaks of the Jews who mix with the Saracens, and of the danger to life and limb of falling into the hands of these Jews and Saracens. We cannot easily dismiss the evidence as the product of Christian prejudice, since it finds confirmation in the Hebrew apocalypse [an eighth-century document, in which is embedded an earlier apocalypse that seems to be contemporary with the conquests]. The break with the Jews is then placed by the Armenian chronicler immediately after the Arab conquest of Jerusalem.

Although Palestine does play some sort of role in Muslim traditions, it is already demoted in favor of Mecca in the second year of the Hegira, when Muhammad changed the direction of prayer for Muslims from Jerusalem to Mecca. Thereafter it is Mecca which holds center stage for his activities. But in the non-Muslim sources, it is Palestine which is the focus of his movement, and provides the religious motive for its conquest.

The Armenian chronicler further gives a rationale for this attachment: Muhammad told the Arabs that, as descendants of Abraham through Ishmael, they too had a claim to the land which God had promised to Abraham and his seed. The religion of Abraham is in fact as central in the Armenian account of Muhammad’s preaching as it is in the Muslim sources; but it is given a quite different geographical twist.
If the external sources are in any significant degree right on such points, it would follow that tradition is seriously misleading on important aspects of the life of Muhammad, and that even the integrity of the Koran as his message is in some doubt. In view of what was said above about the nature of the Muslim sources, such a conclusion would seem to me legitimate; but is fair to add that it is not usually drawn.

Cook points out the similarity of certain Muslim beliefs and practices to those of the Samaritans (discussed below). He also points out that the fundamental idea developed by Muhammad of the religion of Abraham was already present in the Jewish apocryphal work called the Book of Jubilees (dated to c. 140-100 B.C;), and which may well have influenced the formation of Islamic ideas. We also have the evidence of Sozomenus, a Christian writer of the fifth century who “reconstructs a primitive Ishmaelite monotheism identical with that possessed by the Hebrews up to the time of Moses; and he goes on to argue from present conditions that Ishmael’s laws must have been corrupted by the passage of time and the influence of pagan neighbors.”

Sozomenus goes on to describe certain Arab tribes who, on learning of their Ishmaelite origins from Jews, adopted Jewish observances. Again there may have been some influence on the Muslim community from this source. Cook also points out the similarity of the story of Moses (exodus, etc.) and the Muslim hijra. In Jewish messianism, “the career of the messiah was seen as a re-enactment of that of Moses; a key event in the drama was an exodus, or flight, from oppression into the desert, whence the messiah was to lead a holy war to reconquer Palestine. Given the early evidence connecting Muhammad with Jews and Jewish messianism at the time when the conquest of Palestine was initiated, it is natural to see in Jewish apocalyptic thought a point of departure for his political ideas.”

Cook and Patricia Crone had developed these ideas in their intellectually exhilarating work Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World (1977). Unfortunately, they adopted the rather difficult style of their “master” Wansbrough, which may well put off all but the most dedicated readers; as Humphreys says, “their argument is conveyed through a dizzying and unrelenting array of allusions, metaphors, and analogies.” The summary already given above of Cook’s conclusions in Muhammad will help non-specialists to have a better grasp of Cook and Crone’s (henceforth CC) arguments in Hagarism.

It would be appropriate to begin with an explanation of CC’s frequent use of the terms “Hagar,” “Hagarism,” and “Hagarene.” Since a part of their thesis is that Islam only emerged later than hitherto thought, after the first contacts with the older civilizations in Palestine, the Near East, and the Middle East, it would have been inappropriate to use the traditional terms “Muslim,” “Islamic,” and “Islam” for the early Arabs and their creed. It seems probable that the early Arab community, while it was developing its own religious identity, did not call itself “Muslim.” On the other hand, Greek and Syriac documents refer to this community as Magaritai, and Mahgre (or Mahgraye) respectively. The Mahgraye are the descendants of Abraham by Hagar, hence the term “Hagarism.” But there is another dimension to this term; for the corresponding Arabic term is muhajirun; the muhajirun are those who take part in a hijra, an exodus. “The ‘Mahgraye’ may thus be seen as Hagarene participants in a hijra to the Promised Land; in this pun lies the earliest identity of the faith which was in the fullness of time to become Islam.”

Relying on hitherto neglected non-Muslim sources, CC give a new account of the rise of Islam: an account, on their admission, unacceptable to any Muslim. The Muslim sources are too late, and unreliable, and there are no cogent external grounds for accepting the Islamic tradition. CC begin with a Greek text (dated ca. 634-636), in which the core of the Prophet’s message appears as Judaic messianism. There is evidence that the Jews themselves, far from being the enemies of Muslims, as traditionally recounted, welcomed and interpreted the Arab conquest in messianic terms. The evidence “of Judeo-Arab intimacy is complemented by indications of a marked hostility towards Christianity.” An Armenian chronicle written in the 660s also contradicts the traditional Muslim insistence that Mecca was the religious metropolis of the Arabs at the time of the conquest; in contrast, it points out the Palestinian orientation of the movement. The same chronicle helps us understand how the Prophet “provided a rationale for Arab involvement in the enactment of Judaic messianism. This rationale consists in a dual invocation of the Abrahamic descent of the Arabs as Ishmaelites: on the one hand to endow them with a birthright to the Holy Land, and on the other to provide them with a monotheist genealogy.” Similarly, we can see the Muslim hijra not as an exodus from Mecca to Medina (for no early source attests to the historicity of this event), but as an emigration of the Ishmaelites (Arabs) from Arabia to the Promised Land.

The Arabs soon quarreled with the Jews, and their attitude to Christians softened; the Christians posed less of a political threat. There still remained a need to develop a positive religious identity, which they proceeded to do by elaborating a full-scale religion of Abraham, incorporating many pagan practices but under a new Abrahamic aegis. But they still lacked the basic religious structures to be able to stand on their two feet, as an independent religious community. Here they were enormously influenced by the Samaritans.

The origins of the Samaritans are rather obscure. They are Israelites of central Palestine, generally considered the descendants of those who were planted in Samaria by the Assyrian kings, in about 722 B.C.E. The faith of the Samaritans was Jewish monotheism, but they had shaken off the influence of Judaism by developing their own religious identity, rather in the way the Arabs were to do later on. The Samaritan canon included only the Pentateuch, which was considered the sole source and standard for faith and conduct.

The formula “There is no God but the One” is an ever-recurring refrain in Samaritan liturgies. A constant theme in their literature is the unity of God and His absolute holiness and righteousness. We can immediately notice the similarity of the Muslim proclamation of faith: “There is no God but Allah.” And, of course, the unity of God is a fundamental principle in Islam. The Muslim formula “In the name of God” (bismillah) is found in Samaritan scripture as beshem. The opening chapter of the Koran is known as the Fatiha, opening or gate, often considered as a succinct confession of faith. A Samaritan prayer, which can also be considered a confession of faith, begins with the words: Amadti kamekha al fatah rahmeka, “I stand before Thee at the gate of Thy mercy.” Fatah is the Fatiha, opening or gate.

The sacred book of the Samaritans was the Pentateuch, which embodied the supreme revelation of the divine will, and was accordingly highly venerated. Muhammad also seems to know the Pentateuch and Psalms only, and shows no knowledge of the prophetic or historical writings.

The Samaritans held Moses in high regard, Moses being the prophet through whom the Law was revealed. For the Samaritans, Mt. Gerizim was the rightful center for the worship of Yahweh; and it was further associated with Adam, Seth, and Noah, and Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac. The expectation of a coming Messiah was also an article of faith; the name given to their Messiah was the Restorer. Here we can also notice the similarity of the Muslim notion of the Mahdi.

We can tabulate the close parallels between the doctrines of the Samaritans and the Muslims in this way:
Muhammad Hijra Koran Mt. Hira Mecca

Under the influence of the Samaritans, the Arabs proceeded to cast Muhammad in the role of Moses as the leader of an exodus (hijra), as the bearer of a new revelation (Koran) received on an appropriate (Arabian) sacred mountain, Mt. Hira. It remained for them to compose a sacred book. CC point to the tradition that the Koran had been many books but of which ‘Uthman (the third caliph after Muhammad) had left only one. We have the further testimony of a Christian monk who distinguishes between the Koran and the Surat al-baqara as sources of law. In other documents, we are told that Hajjaj (661-714), the governor of Iraq, had collected and destroyed all the writings of the early Muslims. Then, following Wansbrough, CC conclude that the Koran, “is strikingly lacking in overall structure, frequently obscure and inconsequential in both language and content, perfunctory in its linking of disparate materials and given to the repetition of whole passages in variant versions. On this basis it can be plausibly argued that the book [Koran] is the product of the belated and imperfect editing of materials from a plurality of traditions.”

The Samaritans had rejected the sanctity of Jerusalem, and had replaced it by the older Israelite sanctuary of Shechem. When the early Muslims disengaged from Jerusalem, Shechem provided an appropriate model for the creation of a sanctuary of their own.

The parallelism is striking. Each presents the same binary structure of a sacred city closely associated with a nearby holy mountain, and in each case the fundamental rite is a pilgrimage from the city to the mountain. In each case the sanctuary is an Abrahamic foundation, the pillar on which Abraham sacrificed in Shechem finding its equivalent in the rukn [the Yamai corner of the Ka’ba] of the Meccan sanctuary. Finally, the urban sanctuary is in each case closely associated with the grave of the appropriate patriarch: Joseph (as opposed to Judah in the Samaritan case, Ishmael (as opposed to Isaac) in the Meccan.

CC go on to argue that the town we now know as Mecca in central Arabia (Hijaz) could not have been the theater of the momentous events so beloved of Muslim tradition. Apart from the lack of any early non-Muslim references to Mecca, we do have the startling fact that the direction in which the early Muslims prayed (the qibla) was northwest Arabia. The evidence comes from the alignment of certain early mosques, and the literary evidence of Christian sources. In other words, Mecca, as the Muslim sanctuary, was only chosen much later by the Muslims, in order to relocate their early history within Arabia, to complete their break with Judaism, and finally establish their separate religious identity.

In the rest of their fascinating book, CC go on to show how Islam assimilated all the foreign influences that it came under in consequence of their rapid conquests; how Islam acquired its particular identity on encountering the older civilizations of antiquity, through its contacts with rabbinic Judaism, Christianity (Jacobite and Nestorian), Hellenism and Persian ideas (Rabbinic Law, Greek philosophy, Neoplatonism, Roman Law, and Byzantine art and architecture). But they also point out that all this was achieved at great cultural cost: “The Arab conquests rapidly destroyed one empire, and permanently detached large territories of another. This was, for the states in question, an appalling catastrophe.”

November 27, 2010 Posted by | Christianity / God, Politics/Government/Freedom, Societal / Cultural Issues, Understanding Islam, World Affairs | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Questions for Islamic Friends

A. Muhammad by his own profession firmly believed in the authenticity of the Bible as it existed in his day.

Sura 5:71. “Say people of the book! Ye have no ground to stand upon unless you stand fast by the law, the gospel and all the revelation that has come to you from the Lord.

Sura 21:7. “Before Thee, also, the apostles we sent were but men, whom we granted inspiration. If ye realize this not, ask of those who possess the message.”

Many early doctors of Islam and many other scholars after them hold that the Qua’ran teaches that the words of the Bible are the unchangeable words of God.

Sura 10:64. “The words of the Lord are perfect in truth and justice; there is none who can change His words.”

Sura 10:64. “No change can there be in the Words of God. This is indeed the supreme felicity.”

Question 1 — If Muhammad believed in the authenticity of the Bible and if early Muslim scholars did not question it, then when was the Bible corrupted? Was it before or after Muhammad lived? If before, then Muhammad was in error. If after the time of Muhammad, then the ancient manuscripts should give witness of gross changes made in the Bible. But see Section B below.

B. Muhammad lived from 570? to 632 A.D. There are over 5000 ancient manuscripts of the Greek New Testament and also many quotations from the New Testament that are found in the writings of early Christian scholars. In addition, there are ancient translations of the New Testament into other languages. Large numbers of these New Testament manuscripts and quotations are dated before the time of Muhammad, as early as the second century A.D and perhaps even the first century. These ancient manuscripts predating Muhammad teach exactly the same things about Jesus Christ and the Christian faith as do those dated after Muhammad’s time. And our modern Bibles are simply translations of the ancient manuscripts.

Question 2 — Where, then, is the documentary proof that the message of the Bible about Jesus Christ has been changed or corrupted?

C. Jesus Christ claimed that he is eternal God. The Jewish religious leaders got his point and wanted to stone him to death for blasphemy.

John 8:58-59 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” [I AM is Jehovah. Exodus 3:14]

59 Then they took up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.”

John 10:30-33 “I and my Father are one.”

31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.

32 Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?”

33 The Jews answered him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone you, but for blasphemy, and because you, being a man, make yourself God.”

Question 3 — Since Muhammad said the Bible is the true word of God, and since Jesus plainly claimed to be God, God the Son, equal to the Father and to the Holy Spirit, why should not the people of Islam accept Jesus Christ’s claim about himself?

D. The Qua’ran teaches that Muhammad committed sin and had to ask forgiveness (Sura 40:55, 47:19, 48:1-2, 49:1-3). God told Adam in Genesis 2:17 that if he disobeyed (sinned), he would “surely die.” and afterwards suffer physical death (Genesis 3:19). The prophet tells us, “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4b). The prophet Jeremiah tells us that our human hearts are innately sinful, “The heart is deceitful above things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” In the New Testament we are told, “…For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:22b-23). And the New Testament agrees with the Old Testament, “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23a).

Question 4 — How can a guilty sinner like you or me, or Muhammad, be forgiven by a holy God whose eternal righteous Law demands death for the sinner? How can we whose souls are made unclean, filthy, by our sins, be made clean in the sight of a perfectly holy God who cannot have fellowship with sin? Does Islam have a way for God to forgive the sinner without violating His own holy Law that demands death for the sinner? Is it possible for God to violate His own righteous, eternal Law?

E. God’s prophet Moses instructed Israel to sacrifice an innocent substitute to die for the sins of the people. The substitute was a carefully chosen male lamb that had no imperfections (Exodus 12). The prophet Isaiah in about 700 B.C. predicted the coming of the suffering Servant of God who would die for our sins (Isaiah 53:1-12). In verses 5 and 6 Isaiah says, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” The New Testament tells us that Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 35). Thus the sacrificial lambs of the Jews were a picture of the “Lamb of God.” Sadly, the Jews today repudiate Jesus Christ, their Messiah.

Question 5 — Does Islam have a perfect divine/human sacrifice who could be the substitute for sinners, to suffer their death in their place, so that they can be delivered from the righteous judgment of God against their sins?

F. Since the people of Islam do not have a perfect divine/human substitute to take upon Himself the punishment they deserve for their sins, their only hope is that in the Day of Judgment each Muslim can offer to God his or her record of good deeds. They can hope that somehow their good deeds can cancel out their sins. But their record will still be a mixture of their sins with their good deeds.

Question 6 — Since God is absolutely holy and cannot have any fellowship with sin, and since nothing sinful can be admitted into heaven, how good would a person have to be in order to be admitted into heaven? Is it not clear that the answer to this question is that only a perfectly sinless, pure, holy person deserves to enter heaven?

G. The Scriptures of both the Old Testament and the New Testament tell us that the only perfectly holy and sinless human being is Jesus Christ, the God-Man. The Lord Jesus stood before his worst enemies, the leaders of the Jews, and asked them, “Which of you convicts me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?” (John 8:46)

Question 7 — Can any religious leader or founder, in the presence of his enemies, make the claim of being sinless, other than Jesus Christ?

Question 8 — Did Muhammad perform the mighty miracles that Jesus Christ did while he was here on earth?

Question 9 — Did Muhammad perform the miracles that the prophet Moses did? How, then, can it be claimed that Muhammad carried on the tradition of the prophet Moses?

H. All of the religions of the world, except for the Bible Christian faith, tell us sinful humans that we can work our way to salvation or heaven or eternal life by being good people and doing some kind of good works or religious exercises.

Question 10 — Do our human efforts of any kind really give us firm hope for our eternal future? The Lord Jesus gave us this promise: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears my voice and believes in Him who sent Me, has everlasting life and will not come into condemnation, but has passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24)

I. The substitute who died for the sins of the world had to be true man and have no sin, no guilt of his own to die for. Since sin is an offense against God who is infinite and absolutely holy, the man who died to redeem us from our sins must likewise be infinite and absolutely holy. Therefore, our Redeemer must Himself be God and man.

J. In Genesis 1:26 God said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” To whom was God speaking? Does this not agree with the teaching of three Persons in the Godhead?

K. Jesus Christ of Nazareth and his death on the cross are recorded in secular history. The Roman historian Tacitus (A.D. 55-120) wrote: “Christus…suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus” (Annals 15:44).

Jewish historian Josephus (A.D. 37-97) states in his Antiquities of the Jews, “Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die” (18.3.3). [Note: The authenticity of this quote from Josephus has been questioned.]

The Talmud of the Jewish nation compiled about A.D. 135 states, “On the eve of the Passover, Yeshu [Jesus] was hanged.”

Question 11 — Is there any really good reason for rejecting the claims of Jesus Christ in the Bible? He said, “This is the will of Him that sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son, and believes on Him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40)

November 26, 2010 Posted by | Christianity / God, Societal / Cultural Issues, Understanding Islam | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Koran, Qur’an or Qora’an

العربية: القرآن في متحف التاريخ الطبيعي في نيو...

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The Koran, Qur’an or Qora’an

General Information

هو إله طيبة {ah’ – lah ock – bar} God is good.

لا إله إلا الله ، وأن محمدا رسول الله. There is no god but God, and Muhammad is his Prophet.

The Koran, or Qur’an (Arabic for “recital”), is the Sacred Scripture of Islam. Muslims acknowledge it as the actual words of God revealed to the Prophet Muhammad between c.610 and his death (632). The text contains 114 chapters (suras), arranged–except for the opening sura–approximately according to length, beginning with the longer chapters.

The Koran, termed glorious and wonderful (50:1; 72:1), describes itself as a healing and mercy, as light and guidance from God (17:82; 27:77; 41:44; 42:52), as the absolute Truth (69:51), and as a perspicuous Book sent down from heaven in Arabic (12:1-2), part by part (17:106; 25:32), upon Muhammad. Presented as a blessed reminder and an admonition to people everywhere (21:50; 38:87; 80:11-15), it calls for grateful recognition of the many signs, around us and in us (51:20-21), of the goodness of him from whom all good comes (4:79) and urges a total commitment to him who alone is God (112:1-4). Announcing Judgment Day as the final fulfillment of God’s threat and his promise (21:97-104), it warns evildoers and those who are ungrateful (17:89; 25:50) but brings good tidings to those who accept the guidance to the straightest path (17:9) and who live in accord with its message and its commandments (regarding marriage and divorce, children and inheritance, lawful foods, spoils of war, and so on). The text asserts that its message is neither a human invention (as its inimitability proves, 17:88) nor an innovation, since it confirms and clarifies the Scripture that Jews and Christians had received earlier (3:3; 5:15, 48; 35:31).

It is generally believed that the standard text of the Koran, adopted during the reign (644-56) of the caliph Uthman, is based on the compilation of one of Muhammad’s secretaries, Zayd Ibn Thalbit. By calligraphic copying of its verses, and in many other ways as well, Muslims express their devotion to this Scripture over which, they trust, God himself watches (15:9).

Willem A. Bijlefeld

Ali, Abdullah Yusuf, The Holy Qur’an, 2 vols. (1937-38; repr. 1973); Arberry, A. J., The Koran Interpreted, 2 vols. (1955; repr. 1969); Bell, Richard, Introduction to the Qur’an, ed. by W. Montgomery Watt, 2d ed. (1970); Jeffery, Arthur, The Qur’an as Scripture (1952); Pickthall, Marmaduke, trans., The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (1930; repr. 1970).


The Koran or Qur’an

Editor’s Notes

The Prophet Muhammad was certainly important, and Muslims should definitely respect him. The following notes/comments are all carefully based on reliable Islamic scholars’ works, particularly the early scholars who personally knew the facts and the people. None of these comments are meant to damage Islam and all are intended to assist Muslims and others to more fully know the history and background of the Holy Qu’ran. It appears that the majority of Muslims are never taught about many of these issues, and they are presented here in the quest for honesty and knowledge.

As mentioned in the above article, the Koran is believed by Muslims to ACTUALLY be the words of God (Allah) as given to their Prophet Muhammad. It was originally written down (in Arabic) around 645 AD, around 10-15 years after Muhammad’s death.

By the year 325 AD, three hundred years before the Koran, Christians had established the concept of the Trinity, as being ONE God, Who seemed to exist as Three different Persons, the Father (YHWH or Jehovah), the Son (Jesus) and the Holy Ghost, and never varied from that. If the Koran is actually the words of God (Allah), and not altered in any way since they were given to Muhammad, it seems odd that the Koran presents the Christian Trinity as being God, Jesus, and Mary! (Sura 5:116) This seems to imply that God (Allah) made a mistake, or Muhammad made a mistake, or later copyists/commentators made a mistake (several times, as at Sura 5.77 and Sura 4.169). Scholars see such things as obvious problems, but virtually all Muslims overlook them, and consider anyone bringing up such things as blasphemous.

Over the past two hundred years, scholars have found hundreds of such apparent errors. Many are in sentences that have incorrect Arabic grammar. There have been listed either 107 (al-Suyuti) or 275 (Jeffery) words in the Koran which are not even Arabic. Several dozen problems are stories that had long been proven untrue, but which had been published in previous centuries by aberrant Christians and Jews who had written books that resembled Biblical Books, and which are now called “apocryphal”. Such stories which were already known wrong also appear in the Koran. If God said such things, or Muhammed announced them, it would seem that something is wrong somewhere.

There are many scholarly books which are in print that discuss those very many obvious errors. Islam seems very intent on ignoring and suppressing such analytical scholasticism of their Koran and their Faith. They regularly go so far as to issue Fatwas (death sentences) on authors like Salman Rushdie (by the Ayatollah Khomeini, in 1989) for publishing works that question anything in Islam. Actually, soon after that, hundreds of authors and journalists were executed and buried in mass graves because they had written books or articles critical of Islam.

We do not want to get into all those criticisms, many of which seem extremely persuasive, as the Trinity/Mary one seems to be. Rather, our intent here is to present aspects of the Koran (and therefore, of Islam) which are parallel to, and possibly taken directly from Christian and Jewish sources. For example, 502 verses in 36 Suras of the Koran are about Moses, directly from the Jewish Pentateuch. Two hundred forty-five verses in 25 Suras are about Abraham, from the same source, and 131 more verses in 28 Suras are about Noah, also from the Pentateuch.

There is actually a secondary complication that arises in this area. Modern scholarly research has discovered a number of flaws in the (modern) wording of the Jewish Pentateuch Books, which is generally believed to have occurred due to imprecise copying by Jewish Scribes over the many early centuries. But, as the Koran presents those (now know to be incorrect) stories, that seems to imply that God (Allah) either deceived Muhammad as to the Truth or He really didn’t directly provide it, except through the earlier sources.

Extending that thought, Muhammad’s claim that the Koran was “God’s Word” would still be indirectly true, as the majority of the Koran’s 80,000 words, actually came from much older Manuscripts from God, primarily the Pentateuch (Torah, or Taurat). It’s just that the accumulated errors of those earlier documents had become absorbed into the Koran as a result. Whether or not Muhammad actually conversed with God (Allah) in those caves, at least some of the Koran is certainly directly based on (flawed) earlier Manuscripts attributed to God / Allah.

Muslim Tradition asserts that one of Uthman’s generals had asked the Caliph to make a collection of the contents of the Koran, because serious disputes had broken out among his troops from different provinces in regard to the correct readings of the Koran. Uthman chose Zayd ibn Thabit to prepare the official text. That Tradition indicates that he carefully revised the Koran, by comparing portions held by Umar’s daughter with his own, with careful analysis regarding dialect.

A different Tradition still credits Zayd, but much earlier, during Abu Bakr’s very brief period as Caliph. In this case, the motivation was allegedly that so many people who had known the Koran by heart had died in battles, and the concern was to write it down before it might be irretrievably lost, and this was the version that was later held by Umar’s daughter, Hafsa.

Other Traditions indicate that it was collected during the Caliphates of Umar or Ali. So there is no actual agreement in Tradition as to exactly when it was collected. The Uthman Tradition is generally considered the most likely.

Muslims today generally insist that their Koran is precisely the wording of the original, and they therefore criticize the many “Versions” of the Christian Bible (even though all those Versions are actually translations of the exact same original Greek and Aramaic source Manuscripts). But such a claim is incorrect. There were at least 14 variant Arabic versions of the Koran in common use around 900 AD, and possibly several more. These arose due to the method of writing and copying that existed at that time. (Short) Vowels were not recorded, only the consonants. The short vowels could sometimes be represented by a comma-like or slanting-dash mark either above or below a letter. Also, differences between ‘b’ and ‘t’ and ‘th’, which are identical except for dots (points) that distinguish them, were unclear because the dots were not recorded in the consonantal text of the time. Other letter/sound pairs also have exactly identical symbols. Therefore, a reader or a copyist could sometimes read different actual words from the same set of symbols. No question regarding the ORIGINAL wording was involved, but rather the many variations arose due to writing and copying the texts.

As a result, a number of codices developed:

Very Early:

  • Uthmanic
  • Ibn Mas’ud
  • Ubay ibn Ka’b
  • Abu Musa al-Ash’ari
  • Ali
  • Zayd ibn Thaabit
  • Abu Dardaa’

Later, the Koranic scholar Abu Bakr Ibn Mujahid (early 900s AD) fixed on one system of consonants and some control on application of vowels, which resulted in the general acceptance of seven basic systems.

The Seven Qiraa’aat (i.e, Readings):
The ‘seven readings’ were standardized in the second/eighth century. Abu Bakr Ibn Mujahid (d. 936 AD), a ninth-century Muslim scholar from Iraq, wrote a book entitled The Seven Readings, in which he selected seven of the prevailing modes of recitation as the best transmitted and most reliable. Others were subsequently disfavoured and even opposed, among them the readings of Ibn Mas’ud and Ubay ibn Ka’b. However, this is not to say that one must restrict oneself to one of these seven readings, or to all of them. Below are listed the local origin of the seven readings and the names of readers and some later transmitters (in arabic ‘raawis’) connected with them:

  • Naafi’ of Medina (d. 169H/785AD)
  • Ibn Kathir of Mecca (d. 119H/737AD)
  • Ibn ‘Amir of Damascus (d. 118H/736AD)
  • Abu ‘Amr of Basra (d. 154H/771AD)
  • ‘Aasim of Kufa (d. 128H/746AD)
  • Hamza of Kufa (d. 156H/773AD)
  • Al-Kisaa’i of Kufa (d. 189H/805AD)

Each of these seven actually had two variants, due to different pathways (Transmitters):

  • Naafi’ of Medina by Warsh or Qaaluun
  • Ibn Kathir of Mecca by al-Bazzi or Qunbul
  • Ibn ‘Amir of Damascus by Hisham or Ibn Dhakwan
  • Abu ‘Amr of Basra by al-Duri or al-Susi
  • ‘Aasim of Kufa by Hafs or Abu Bakr
  • Hamza of Kufa by Khalaf or Khallad
  • Al-Kisaa’i of Kufa by al-Duri or Abul Harith

Fourteen accepted readings in all. Some scholars recognize even more, such as:

Place / Reader
Madinah / Abu Ja’far (130/747)
Basra / Ya’qub (205/820)
Kufa / Khalaf (229/843)
Basra / Hassan al Basri (110/728)
Makkah / Ibn Muhaisin (123/740)
Basra / Yahya al-Yazidi (202/817)
Kufa / al-A’mash (148/765)

The selected ‘Seven Readings’ of Mujahid (early 900s AD) were:
Place / Reader / Transmitter :

1. Madinah / Naafi’ (d. 169H/785AD) / Qaaluun or Warsh (d. 197H/812AD)
2. Makkah / Ibn Kathir (d. 119H/737AD)
3. Damascus / Ibn ‘Amir (d. 118H/736AD)
4. Basra / Abu ‘Amr (d. 154H/771AD) / Suusi or Duuri (d. 246H/860AD)
5. Kufa / ‘Aasim (d. 128H/746AD) / Hafs (d. 180H/796AD)
6. Kufa / Hamza (d. 156H/773AD)
7. Kufa / Al-Kisaa’i (d. 189H/805AD) / Duuri (d. 246H/860AD)

Readings No. 1 and 5 are of particular importance: the reading transmitted by Warsh is now widespread in Africa, except Egypt, while, as now in almost all other parts of the Muslim world, the reading transmitted by Hafs is observed.

Three of these prevailed into modern times, for uncertain reasons: Warsh (around 800 AD), Hafs (around 800 AD) and al-Duri Abu Amr (around 850 AD), with two others used in small regions. This represents five distinctly different versions of the Koran currently in use by Muslims in different parts of the world. Their separate justification for using their version is closely associated with their ‘chain’ or path of information from the Prophet Muhammad.

The five current versions of the Koran therefore are:

  1. The Transmitter Hafs, who is Hafs ibn Suleyman ibn Al-Mugheerah Al-Asadi Al-Kuufi (d. 180H):His Qiraa’ah named Hafs from ‘Aasim is the most popular reading of the Quran in the world today, except for some parts of Africa. Hafs was officially adopted by Egypt in 1924. His chain from ‘Aasim:He heard from ‘Aasim ibn Abu Najud Al-Kuufi (d. 128H) who was Taabi’i, i.e, among the generation following the Sahaabah, who heard from Abu Abdur-Rahman Abdullah ibn Habib As-Sulami, who heard from Uthman ibn Affan and Ali ibn Abi Talib and Zayd ibn Thaabit and Ubayy ibn Ka’b, who heard from the Prophet (PBUH). 
  2. The Transmitter Duuri, is Abu ‘Amr Hafs ibn Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz ibn Subhan Ad-Duuri Al-Baghdaadi (d. 246H):His Qiraa’ah named Duuri from Abu ‘Amr is popular in parts of Africa like Somalia, Sudanas well as in other parts. His chain of from Abu ‘Amr:He heard from Abu Muhammad Yahya ibn Mubarak ibn Mugheerah Yazidiyy (d. 202H), who heard from Abu ‘Amr Zuban ibn ‘Ala Maziniyy Al-Busriyy (d. 154H), who heard from the Qiraa’aat from Sahaabis Ali and Uthman and Abu Musa and Umar and Ubayy ibn Ka’b and Zayd ibn Thaabit, who heard from the Prophet (PBUH). 
  3. The Transmitter Warsh, who is Abu Saeed Uthman ibn Saeed Al-Misri, nicknamed Warsh, (d. 197H):HIs Qiraa’ah named Warsh from Naafi’ is popular in North Africa. His chain from Naafi’:He heard from Naafi’ ibn Abdur-Rahman ibn Abu Nu’aim Al-Madani (d. 169H), who heard from Abu Ja’far Yazid ibn Al-Qa’qaa’ and Abu Dawud Abdur-Rahman ibn Hurmuz Al-A’raj and Shaybah ibn Nisah Al-Qaadhi and Abu Abdullah Muslim ibn Jundub Al-Hudhali and Abu Rawh Yazid ibn Ruman, who heard from Abu Hurairah and Ibn Abbaas and Abdullah ibn ‘Ayyaash ibn Abi Rabii’ah, who heard from Ubayy ibn Ka’b, who heard from the Prophet (PBUH). 
  4. The Transmitter Suusi:His Qiraa’ah named Suusi from Abu ‘Amr is also found around the world in small parts.
  5. The Transmitter Qaaluun, who is Imaam Qaaluun:His Qiraa’ah named Qaaluun from Naafi’ is popular in places like Libyain Africa. His chain from Naafi’:He heard from Naafi’ ibn Abdur-Rahman ibn Abu Nu’aim Al-Madani (d. 169H), who heard from Abu Ja’far Yazid ibn Al-Qa’qaa’, who heard from Abdullah ibn Abbaas and Abu Hurairah, who heard from Ubayy ibn Ka’b and Zayd ibn Thaabit, who heard from the Prophet (PBUH). 

In case Muslim readers should be greatly concerned: The variances between these different versions of the Koran are generally quite small and minor, although there are a substantial number of them. Muhammad Fahd Khaaruun has published a version of the (Hafs) Koran which contains the variant readings from the 10 Accepted Readers in its margins. About 2/3 of the ayat (verses) have some sort of variant reading. The great majority are differences in the vowels inserted in certain words (remembering that the early written kufic texts of the Koran did not include vowels or diacritical marks). There appears to be only one difference that might represent a significant effect on belief, that in surah 2:184. There are many Islamic scholars’ discussions about these many differences. As an example of one, in Hafs, surah 2:140 reads taquluna, while in Warsh, that text is in surah 2:139 and reads yaquluna. Another example: Hafs surah 2:214 reads yaquula while Warsh surah 2;212 reads yaquulu. Muslim scholars agree that such variations do not seriously alter the meaning of statements made in the Koran.

The main point being made here is that the ORIGINAL texts associated with the Prophet Muhammad are not questioned, but that the absolute and precise accuracy claimed by Muslims regarding their modern Koran is not quite correct. The reality of the situation is very much like the Christian Bible, which had one Original source text but now exists in a multitude of language translations of that one Original text.

A brief mention should be made regarding the “Satanic Verses” that inspired author Rushdie to write the book that caused his death sentence. Unimpeachable Muslim sources (Waqidi and al-Tabari) indicate that, prior to the flight to Medina, Muhammad was sitting with some important Meccan leaders, next to the Kaaba, and he began to recite Sura 53, which describes the Angel Gabriel’s first and second visits to Muhammad.

The wording was: “What do you think of Lat and Uzza And Manat the third beside? These are exalted Females, Whose intercession verily is to be sought after.”

These references were to some of the many Gods the Meccans then worshipped, so the words seem to acknowledge the existence and even the importance of them, TOTALLY opposite of what Islam claims (of the One God, Allah). Islam says that Muhammad was later visited by Gabriel again, who reprimanded him and gave him the “true” ending for that verse, which eliminated the praise for the gods and turned it into denigration. They consider those initial verses as being put into his mouth by Satan, i.e. Satanic Verses.

These verses represent a serious problem for Muslims. Did that event actually happen? Did Muhammad actually praise those multiple gods only to be later corrected by Gabriel? That would explain why the text of the Koran might have been revised, but it still seems to leave the reality of the original event. Those (original) words seem to imply that Muhammad was carefully cultivating the Meccan leaders by saying things they “politically” wanted to hear. That idea would greatly damage his credibility as a Prophet. His sincerity would seem to be in question. On the other hand, if Satan was so easily able to put words in the mouth of the Prophet, how much Faith could anyone put in him? Might there be (many?) other passages where Satan affected the wording of the Koran, which never got corrected?

There is one other major matter that should be mentioned. After Muhammad had become well established as leader in Medina, he considered returning to Mecca to conquer it and to convert the population there to Islam. Very late, he realized that his people were not yet ready for a battle, and so he entered into negotiations with the Meccans regarding permission to make a Pilgrimage to Mecca the following year, in return for Muhammad’s promises of a few simple things (the Peace of Hudaibiya). Muhammad broke those promises, according to accepted Muslim sources (such as Ibn Ishaq). Since he had made those promises, as Prophet, and for a religious purpose, the fact that he soon broke them, is sometimes seen as behavior not appropriate to any ethical leader, and certainly not to a Prophet.

Finally, we list the most revered early Muslim commentators on the Koran:

  • Muhammad ibn-Jarir al-Tabari (around 900 AD)
  • Al-Baghawi (around 1100 AD)
  • Al-Zamakhshari (early 1100s AD)
  • Al-Baydawi (late 1200s AD)
  • Fakhr-al-Din al-Razi (around 1200 AD)
  • Jalal-al-Din al-Mahalli (early 1400s AD)
  • Jalal-al-Din al-Suyuti (late 1400s AD)

(The earliest accurate English translation of the Koran was by George Sale in 1734.


Old Testament (Bible) Characters also in the Koran

Old Testament Koran
Aaron Harun
Abel Habil
Abraham Ibrahim
Adam Adam
Cain Qabil
David Daud
Elias Ilyas
Elijah Alyasa
Enoch Idris
Ezra Uzair
Gabriel Jibril
Gog (Gen 10:2; Ezek 38) Yajuj
Goliath Jalut
Isaac Ishaq
Ishmael Ismail
Jacob Yacub
Job Aiyub
Jonah Yunus
Joshua Yusha’
Joseph Yusuf
Korah Qarun
Lot Lut
Magog (Gen 10:2; Ezek 38) Majuj
Michael Mikail
Moses Musa
Noah Nuh
Pharaoh Firaun
Saul Talut
Solomon Sulaiman
Terah Azar


The Koran or Qur’an

Beginning Excerpt

650 AD

Translated by E H Palmer

(Editor’s Note: This translation, apparently acceptable by most Muslims, refers to Allah as God, Jibril as Gabriel, and other names that are familiar from the Christian Bible. We include this excerpt in BELIEVE not as a religious guide, but to assist Western people in better understanding Muslim beliefs. We have also highlighted certain text for the same reason.

Muslims fully believe that the Koran is actually Allah’s (God’s) words. Because they are concerned that poor translations could corrupt the true meaning of those words, they ONLY consider as a valid Koran, one which has translated text on one page and the original Arabic on the opposite. They feel that in that way, corruption cannot occur. This excerpt obviously does not include the Arabic original, so strict Muslims would not approve of it.)


The Opening Chapter

I. Mecca

In the name of the merciful and compassionate God. Praise belongs to God, the Lord of the worlds, the merciful, the compassionate, the ruler of the day of judgment! Thee we serve and Thee we ask for aid. Guide us in the right path, the path of those Thou art gracious to; not of those Thou art wroth with; nor of those who err.

(Editor’s Note: This opening Chapter (or Sura), called Fatiha or Fatihah, is included as part of all religious Prayers by Muslims.)

The Chapter of the Heifer

II. Medina

IN the name of the merciful and compassionate God. Alif Lam Mim. That is the book! there is no doubt therein; a guide to the pious, who believe in the unseen, and are steadfast in prayer, and of what we have given them expend in alms; who believe in what is revealed to thee, and what was revealed before thee, and of the hereafter they are sure. These are in guidance from their Lord, and these are the prosperous. Verily, those who misbelieve, it is the same to them if ye warn them or if ye warn them not, they will not believe. God has set a seal upon their hearts and on their hearing; and on their eyes is dimness, and for them is grievous woe. And there are those among men who say, ‘We believe in God and in the last day;’ but they do not believe. They would deceive God and those who do believe; but they deceive only themselves and they do not perceive. In their hearts is a sickness, and God has made them still more sick, and for them is grievous woe because they lied. And when it is said to them, ‘Do not evil in the earth,’ they say, ‘We do but what is right.’

Are not they the evildoers? and yet they do not perceive. And when it is said to them, ‘Believe as other men believe,’ they say, ‘Shall we believe as fools believe?’ Are not they themselves the fools? and yet they do not know. And when they meet those who believe, they say, ‘We do believe;’ but when they go aside with their devils, they say, ‘We are with you; we were but mocking!’ God shall mock at them and let them go on in their rebellion, blindly wandering on. Those who buy error for guidance, their traffic profits not, and they are not guided. Their likeness is as the likeness of one who kindles a fire; and when it lights up all around, God goes off with their light, and leaves them in darkness that they cannot see.

Deafness, dumbness, blindness, and they shall not return! Or like a storm – cloud from the sky, wherein is darkness and thunder and lightning; they put their fingers in their ears at the thunder – clap, for fear of death, for God encompasses the misbelievers. The lightning well – nigh snatches off their sight, whenever it shines for them they walk therein; but when it is dark for them they halt; and if God willed He would go off with their hearing and their sight; verily, God is mighty over all.

O ye folk! serve your Lord who created you and those before you; haply ye may fear! who made the earth for you a bed and the heaven a dome; and sent down from heaven water, and brought forth therewith fruits as a sustenance for you; so make no peers for God, the while ye know!

And if ye are in doubt of what we have revealed unto our servant, then bring a chapter like it, and call your witnesses other than God if ye tell truth. But if ye do it not, and ye shall surely do it not, then fear the fire whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for misbelievers. But bear the glad tidings to those who believe and work righteousness, that for them are gardens beneath which rivers flow; whenever they are provided with fruit therefrom they say, ‘This is what we were provided with before,’ and they shall be provided with the like; and there are pure wives for them therein, and they shall dwell therein for aye.

Why, God is not ashamed to set forth a parable of a gnat, or anything beyond; and as for those who believe, they know that it is truth from the Lord; but as for those who disbelieve, they say, ‘What is it that God means by this as a parable? He leads astray many and He guides many;’ – but He leads astray only the evildoers; who break God’s covenant after the fixing thereof, and cut asunder what God has ordered to be joined, and do evil in the earth; – these it is who lose.

How can ye disbelieve in God, when ye were dead and He made you alive, and then He will kill you and then make you alive again, and then to Him will ye return? It is He who created for you all that is in the earth, then he made for the heavens and fashioned them seven heavens; and He knows all things.

And when thy Lord said unto the angels, ‘I am about to place a vicegerent in the earth,’ they said, ‘Wilt Thou place therein one who will do evil therein and shed blood? we celebrate Thy praise and hallow Thee.’ Said (the Lord), ‘I know what ye know not.’ And He taught Adam the names, all of them; then He propounded them to the angels and said, ‘Declare to me the names of these, if ye are truthful.’ They said, ‘Glory be to Thee! no knowledge is ours but what Thou thyself hast taught us, verily, Thou art the knowing, the wise.’ Said the Lord, ‘O Adam declare to them their names;’ and when he had declared to them their names He said, ‘Did I not say to you, I know the secrets of the heavens and of the earth, and I know what ye show and what ye were hiding?’ And when we said to the angels, ‘Adore Adam,’ they adored him save only Iblis, who refused and was too proud and became one of the misbelievers. And we said, ‘O Adam dwell, thou and thy wife, in Paradise, and eat therefrom amply as you wish; but do not draw near this tree or ye will be of the transgressors.

And Satan made them backslide therefrom and drove them out from what they were in, and we said, ‘Go down, one of you the enemy of the other, and in the earth there is an abode and a provision for a time.’ And Adam caught certain words from ‘his Lord, and He turned towards him, for He is the compassionate one easily turned. We said, ‘Go down therefrom altogether and haply there may come from me a guidance, and whoso follows my guidance, no fear is theirs, nor shall they grieve. But those who misbelieve, and call our signs lies, they are the fellows of the Fire, they shall dwell therein for aye.’

O ye children of Israel! remember my favours which I have favoured you with; fulfil my covenant and I will fulfil your covenant; me therefore dread. Believe in what I have revealed, verifying what ye have got, and be not the first to disbelieve in it, and do not barter my signs for a little price, and me do ye fear. Clothe not truth with vanity, nor hide the truth the while ye know. Be steadfast in prayer, give the alms, and bow down with those who bow. Will ye order men to do piety and forget yourselves? ye read the Book, do ye not then understand? Seek aid with patience and prayer, though it is a hard thing save for the humble, who think that they will meet their Lord, and that to Him will they return.

O ye children of Israel! remember my favours which I have favoured you with, and that I have preferred you above the worlds. Fear the day wherein no soul shall pay any recompense for another soul, nor shall intercession be accepted for it, nor shall compensation be taken from it, nor shall they be helped.

When we saved you from Pharaoh’s people who sought to wreak you evil and woe, slaughtering your sons and letting your women live; in that was a great trial for you from your Lord. When we divided for you the sea and saved you and drowned Pharaoh’s people while ye looked on.

When we treated with Moses forty nights, then ye took the calf after he had gone and ye did wrong. Yet then we forgave you after that; perhaps ye may be grateful. And when we gave Moses the Scriptures and the Discrimination; perhaps ye will be guided. When Moses said to his people, ‘O my people! Ye have wronged yourselves in taking this calf; repent unto your Creator and kill each other; that will be better for you in your Creator’s eyes; and He turned unto you, for He is the compassionate one easily turned.’ And when ye said to Moses, ‘O Moses! we will not believe in thee until we see God manifestly,’ and the thunderbolt caught you while ye yet looked on. Then we raised you up after your death; perhaps ye may be grateful. And we overshadowed you with the cloud, and sent down the manna and the quails; ‘Eat of the good things we have given you.’ They not wrong us, but it was themselves they were wronging. And when we said, ‘Enter this city and eat therefrom as plentifully as ye wish; and enter the gate worshipping and say ‘hittatun. So will we pardon you your sins and give increase unto those who do well.’

But those who did wrong changed it for another word than that which was said to them: and we sent down upon those who did wrong, wrath from heaven for that they had so sinned.

When Moses, too, asked drink for his people and we said, ‘Strike with thy staff the rock,’ and from it burst forth twelve springs; each man among them knew his drinking place. ‘Eat and drink of what God has provided, and transgress not on the earth as evildoers.’

And when they said, Moses, we cannot always bear one kind of food; pray then thy Lord to bring forth for us of what the earth grows, its green herbs, its cucumbers, its garlic, its lentils, and its onions.’ Said he, ‘Do ye ask what is meaner instead of what is best? Go down to Egypt, – there is what ye ask.’ Then were they smitten with abasement and poverty, and met with wrath from God. That was because they had misbelieved in God’s signs and killed the prophets undeservedly; that was for that they were rebellious and had transgressed.

Verily, whether it be of those who believe, or those who are Jews or Christians or Sabaeans, whosoever believe in God and the last day and act aright, they have their reward at their Lord’s hand, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.

And when we took a covenant with you and held the mountain over you; ‘Accept what we have brought you with strong will, and bear in mind what is therein, haply ye yet may fear.’

Then did ye turn aside after this, and were it not for God’s grace towards you and His mercy, ye would have been of those who lose. Ye know too of those among you who transgressed upon the Sabbath, and we said, ‘I Become ye apes, despised and spurned.’

Thus we made them an example unto those who stood before them, and those who should come after them, and a warning unto those who fear.

And when Moses said to his people, ‘God bids you slaughter a cow,’ they said, ‘Art thou making a jest of us?’ Said he, ‘I seek refuge with God from being one of the unwise.’ They said, ‘Then pray thy Lord for us to show us what she is to be.’ He answered, ‘He saith it is a cow, nor old, nor young, of middle age between the two; so do as ye are bid.’ They said, ‘Pray now thy Lord to show us what her colour is to be.’ He answered, ‘He saith it is a dun cow, intensely dun, her colour delighting those who look upon her.’

Again they said, ‘Pray thy Lord to show us what she is to be; for cows appear the same to us; then we, if God will, shall be guided.’ He answered, He saith, it is a cow, not broken in to plough the earth or irrigate the tilth, a sound one with no blemish on her.’ They said, ‘Now hast thou brought the truth.’ And they slaughtered her, though they came near leaving it undone.

When too ye slew a soul and disputed thereupon, and God brought forth that which ye had hidden, then we said, ‘Strike him with part of her.’ Thus God brings the dead to life and shows you His signs, that haply ye may understand.

Yet were your hearts hardened even after that, till they were as stones or harder still, for verily of stones are some from which streams burst forth, and of them there are some that burst asunder and the water issues out, and of them there are some that fall down for fear of God; but God is never careless of what ye do.

Do ye crave that they should believe you when already a sect of them have heard the word of God and then perverted it after they had understood it, though they knew?

And when they meet those who believe they say, ‘We believe,’ but when one goes aside with another they say, ‘Will ye talk to them of what God has opened up to you, that they may argue with you upon it before your Lord? Do ye not therefore understand?’ Do they not then know that God knoweth what they keep secret and what they make known abroad?

And some of them there are, illiterate folk, that know not the Book, but only idle tales; for they do but fancy. But woe to those who write out the Book with their hands and say ‘this is from’ God; to buy therewith a little price! and woe to them for what their hands have written, and woe to them for what they gain!

And then they say, ‘Hell fire shall not touch us save for a number of days.’ Say, ‘Have ye taken a covenant with God?’ but God breaks not His covenant. Or do ye say of God that which ye do not know?

Yea! whoso gains an evil gain, and is encompassed by his sins, those are the fellows of the Fire, and they shall dwell therein for aye! But such as act aright, those are the fellows of Paradise, and they shall dwell therein for aye!

And when we took from the children of Israel a covenant, saying, ‘Serve ye none but God, and to your two parents show kindness, and to your kindred and the orphans and the poor, and speak to men kindly, and be steadfast in prayer, and give alms;’ and then ye turned back, save a few of you, and swerved aside.

And when we took covenant from you, ‘shed ye not your kinsman’s blood, nor turn your kinsmen out of their homes:’ then did ye confirm it and were witnesses thereto. Yet ye were those who slay your kinsmen and turn a party out of their homes, and back each other up against them with sin and enmity. But if they come to you as captives ye ransom them! – and yet it is as unlawful for you to turn them out. Do ye then believe in part of the Book and disbelieve in part? But the reward of such among you as do that shall be nought else but disgrace in this worldly life, and on the day of the resurrection shall they be driven to the most grievous torment, for God is not unmindful of what ye do.

Those who have bought this worldly life with the Future, the torment shall not be lightened from them nor shall they be helped.

We gave Moses the Book and we followed him up with other apostles, and we gave Jesus the son of Mary manifest signs and aided him with the Holy Spirit. Do ye then, every time an apostle comes to you with what your souls love not, proudly scorn him, and charge a part with lying and slay a part?

They say, ‘Our hearts are uncircumcised;’ nay, God has cursed them in their unbelief, and few it is who do believe. And when a book came down from God confirming what they had with them, though they had before prayed for victory over those who misbelieve, yet when that came to them which they knew, then they disbelieved it, – God’s curse be on the misbelievers.

For a bad bargain have they sold their souls, not to believe in what God has revealed, grudging because God sends down of His grace on whomsoever of His servants He will; and they have brought on themselves wrath after wrath and for the misbelievers is there shameful woe.

And when they are told to believe in what God has revealed, they say, ‘We believe in what has been revealed to us;’ but they disbelieve in all beside, although it is the truth confirming what they have. Say, ‘Wherefore did ye kill God’s prophets of yore if ye were true believers?

Moses came to you with manifest signs, then ye took up with the calf when he had gone and did so wrong. And when we took a covenant with you and raised the mountain over you, ‘Take what we have given you with resolution and hear;’ they said, ‘We hear but disobey;’ and they were made to drink the calf down into their hearts for their unbelief. Say, ‘An evil thing is it which your belief bids you do, if ye be true believers.’ Say, ‘If the abode of the future with God is yours alone and not mankind’s: long for death then if ye speak the truth.’ But they will never long for it because of what their hands have sent on before; but God is knowing as to the wrong doers.

Why, thou wilt find them the greediest of men for life; and of those who associate others with God one would fain live for a thousand years, – but he will not be reprieved from punishment by being let live, for God seeth what they do.

Say, ‘Who is an enemy to Gabriel? for he hath revealed to thy heart, with God’s permission, confirmation of what had been before, and a guidance and glad tidings to believers. Who is an enemy to God and His angels and His apostles and Gabriel and Michael? – Verily, God is an enemy to the unbelievers. We have sent down to thee conspicuous signs, and none will disbelieve therein except the evildoers. Or every time they make a covenant, will a part of them repudiate it? Nay, most of them do not believe.

And when there comes to them an apostle confirming what they have, a part of those who have received the Book repudiate God’s book, casting it behind their backs as though they did not know. And they follow that which the devils recited against Solomon’s kingdom; – it was not Solomon who misbelieved, but the devils who misbelieved, teaching men sorcery, – and what has been revealed to the two angels at Babylon, Harut and Marut; yet these taught no one until they said, ‘We are but a temptation, so do not misbelieve.’ Men learn from them only that by which they may part man and wife; but they can harm no one therewith, unless with the permission of God, and they learn what hurts them and profits them not. And yet they knew that he who purchased it would have no portion in the future; but sad is the price

(continues . . . )


The Koran or Qur’an

Excerpt: Sura 19.16-21; 3.45-48

Regarding Jesus and Mary

Behold! the angels said: “O Mary! God gives you glad tidings of a Word from Him; his name will be Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the hereafter and of those nearest to God; he shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. And he shall be of the righteous.” “How, O my Lord, shall I have a son, when no man has touched me?” asked Mary. He said, “Thus: God creates whatever He wants, when He decrees a thing He has only to say, ‘Be’ and it is. And God will teach him the Book and Wisdom, the Torah and the Gospel.”



Catholic Information

The sacred book of the Muslims, by whom it is regarded as the revelation of God. Supplemented by the so-called Hadith, or traditions, it is the foundation of Islam and the final authority in dogma and belief, in jurisprudence, worship, ethics, and in social, family, and individual conduct.

The name Koran, or better Qur’an, from the Arabic stem Qara’a, “to read”, “to recite”, means the “Reading”, the “Recitation”, i.e. the “Book”, par excellence. It is also called — to select a few of many titles — “Alkitab” (The Book), “Furquan” (“liberation”, “deliverance”, of the revelation), “Kitab-ul-lah” (Book of God), “Al-tanzil” (The Revelation). It consists of one hundred and fourteen suras or chapters, some being almost as long as the Book of Genesis, others consisting of but two or three sentences. It is smaller than the New Testament, and in its present form has no chronological order or logical sequence.


The Koran contains dogma, legends, history, fiction, religion and superstition, social and family laws prayers, threats, liturgy, fanciful descriptions of heaven, hell, the judgment day, resurrection, etc. — a combination of fact and fancy often devoid of force and originality. The most creditable portions are those in which Jewish and Christian influences are clearly discernible. The following analysis is based on Sir William Muir’s chronological arrangement (op. cit. infra).

First Period

Suras 103, 91, 106, 101, 95, 102,104, 82, 92, 105 – rhapsodies, which may have been composed before Mohammed conceived the idea of a Divine mission, or of a revelation direct from Heaven.

Second Period (the opening of Mohammed’s ministry)

Sura 96, the command to “recite in the name of the Lord”; sura 113, on the unity and eternity of the Deity; sura 74, the command to preach, the denunciation of one of the chiefs of Mecca who scoffed at the resurrection, unbelievers threatened with hell; sura 111, Abu Lahab (the Prophet’s uncle) and his wife are cursed.

Third Period (from the beginning of Mohammed’s public ministry to the Abyssinian emigration)

Suras 87, 97, 88, 80, 81, 84, 86, 90, 85, 83, 78, 77, 76, 75, 70, 109, 107, 55, 56, descriptions of the resurrection, paradise, and hell, with references to the growing opposition of the Koreish tribe.

Fourth Period (from the sixth to the tenth year of Mohammed’s ministry)

Suras 67, 53, 32, 39, 73, 79, 54, 34, 31, 69, 68, 41, 71, 52, 50, 45, 44, 37, 30, 26, 15, 51, narratives from the Jewish Scriptures and from rabbinical and Arab legends; the temporary compromise with idolatry is connected with sura 53.

Fifth Period (from the tenth year of Mohammed’s ministry to the Flight from Mecca)

Suras 46, 72, 35, 36, 19, 18, 27, 42, 40, 38, 25, 20, 43, 12, 11, 10, 14, 6, 64, 28, 22, 21, 17, 16, 13, 29, 7, 113, 114. The suras of this period contain some narratives from the Gospel, enjoin the rites of pilgrimage, refute the cavillings of the Koreish, and contain vivid descriptions of the resurrection, judgment, heaven, and hell, with proofs of God’s unity, power, and providence. Gradually the suras become longer, some of them filling many pages. In the later suras of the fifth period Medina passages are often interpolated.

Last Period (suras revealed at Medina)

This period includes the following suras:

Sura 98: on good and bad Jews and Christians.

Sura 2, the longest in the Koran, is called the “Sura of the Cow” from the red heifer described in verse 67 as having been sacrificed by the Israelites at the direction of Moses. It is a collection of passages on various subjects, delivered during the first two or three years after the Flight. The greater portion relates to the Jews, who are sometimes exhorted and sometimes reprobated. Biblical and rabbinical stories abound. This sura contains the order to change the Qibla (or direction at prayer) a denunciation of the disaffected citizens of Medina, injunctions to fight, permission to bear arms in the sacred months and much matter of a legislative character promulgated on first reaching Medina, with passages of a later date interpolated.

Sura 3 belongs partly to the time immediately after the Battle of Bedr. The Jews are referred to in terms of hostility. The interview with Christian deputation from Najran (verses 57-63) is of a later date. Passages pertaining to the farewell pilgrimage are introduced with other (probably) earlier texts on the rites of pilgrimage.

Sura 8 contains instructions on the division of spoil at Bedr. Some parts are in the old Meccan style and the Koreish are frequently referred to. In sura 47 war and slaughter are enjoined, and idolaters of Mecca threatened. In sura 62 the Jews are denounced for their ignorance; the Friday service is to take precedence of secular engagements. In sura 5 the Jews are reviled; the doctrines of the Christians are controverted; it contains also civil ordinances and miscellaneous instructions.

Sura 59, on the siege and expulsion of the Banu Nadhir.

Sura 4 entitled “women”, from the large portion devoted to the treatment of wives and relation of sexes. There are also ordinances on the law of inheritance and general precepts, social and political. Idolatrous Meccans are to be shunned, and there are animadversions against the Jews. The “disaffected” are blamed for taking the part of the Jews.

Sura 65: on divorce and kindred subjects, with some religious observations.

Sura 63: menances against ‘Abdallah ibn Obey for his treasonable language on the expedition against the Banu Mustaliq.

Sura 24: vindication of ‘Ayisha, with the law of evidence for conjugal unfaithfulness, and miscellaneous precepts.

Sura 33, composed of portions covering the year A.H. 5. The marriage of the Prophet with Zeinab, wife of his adopted son, is sanctioned. There are various passages on the conjugal relations of Mohammed, the siege of Medina, and the fall of the Banu Qoreitza.

Sura 57: injunctions to fight and contribute towards the expenses of war. The disaffected are warned. Christians are mentioned in kindly terms.

Sura 61: on war; speedy victory is promised. — The remaining suras belong exclusively to the last five years of the Prophet’s life.

Sura 48 refers to the truce of Hodeibia, and the prospect of victory and spoil to be obtained elsewhere.

Sura 60: on the treatment of the women who, after the truce, came over from Mecca; idolaters of Mecca to be shunned.

Sura 66: on the affair of Mohammed and the Coptic maid.

Sura 49: blaming the profession of the Bedouin Arabs as insincere, chiding the deputation which called out rudely at Mohammed’s door, and exhorting believers against distrust and uncharitableness among themselves.

Sura 9 treats of the campaign to Tebuk (A. H. 9). It opens with the “release” promulgated at the pilgrimage of the same year and declares the antagonism of Islam to all other religions. All but Muslims are excluded from Mecca and the rites of pilgrimage. Idolaters are threatened with slaughter and slavery. War is declared against Jews and Christians until they are humbled and pay tribute. This sura is called “the crusade chapter”, and in the early campaigns was often read on the field before battle.


The doctrine of the Koran will be fully discussed in the article on the religion of Islam. It is sufficient to note here that the doctrine may be classified under four categories:

faith, or what to believe;

practice or worship;

ethics, or what to do and what to avoid;

moral, historical, and legendary lessons taken from the canonical, but mostly apocryphal, Christian and Jewish Scriptures, and from contemporary and ancient Arabian heathenism.


Various efforts have been made by Muslim writers and European scholars to arrange the suras chronologically, but Noldeke’s arrangement is generally considered the most plausible. He divides the suras into Meccan and Medinian, namely those delivered at Mecca before the Flight or Hegira, and those delivered at Medina after the Flight. The Meccan suras are divided into three periods. To the first (from the first to the fifth year of Mohammed’s mission) belong the following suras – 96, 74, 111,106, 108, 104, 107, 102, 105, 92, 90, 94, 93, 97, 86, 91, 80, 68, 87, 95, 103, 85, ’73, 101, 99, 82, 81, 53, 84,100, 79, 77, 78, 88, 89, 75, 83, 69, 5l, 52, 56, 55, 112, 109, ll3, 114, and 1. To the second period (the fifth and sixth year of his mission) are assigned suras 54, 37, 7l, 76, 44, 50, 20, 26, 15, 19, 38, 36, 43, 72, 67, 23, 21, 25, 17, 27, and 18. To the third period (from the seventh year to the Flight) belong the following suras: 32, 41 45, 16, 30, 11, 14,12, 40, 28, 39, 29, 31, 42, 10, 34, 35, 7, 46, 6, and 13. The Medina suras are those which remain, in the following order: 2, 98, 64, 62, 8, 47, 3, 61, 57, 4, 65, 59, 33, 63, 24, 58, 22, 48, 66, 60, 110, 9, and 5.

The characteristic features of the various suras and of the periods in which they were delivered is described by Mr. Palmer as follows:

In the Meccan Suras Mohammed’s one and steady purpose is to bring his hearers to a belief in the one only God; this he does by powerful rhetorical displays rather than logical arguments, by appealing to their feelings rather than their reason; by setting forth the manifestation of God in His works; by calling nature to witness to His presence; and by proclaiming His vengeance against those who associate other gods with Him, or attribute offsprings to Him. The appeal was strengthened by glowing pictures of the happiness in store for those who should believe, and by frightful descriptions of the everlasting torments prepared for the unbelievers. In the earlier chapters, too, the prophetic inspiration, the earnest conviction of the truth of his mission, and the violent emotion which his sense of responsibility caused him are plainly shown. The style is curt, grand, and often almost sublime; the expressions are full of poetical feeling, and the thoughts are earnest and passionate, though sometimes dim and confused, indicating the mental excitement and doubt through which they struggled to light.

In the second period of the Meccan Suras, Mohammed appears to have conceived the idea of still further severing himself from the idolatry of his compatriots, and of giving to the supreme deity Allah another title, Ar-Rahman, “the merciful one”. The Meccans, however, seem to have taken these for the names of separate deities, and the name is abandoned in the later chapters.

In the Suras of the second Meccan period we first find the long stories of the prophets of olden times, especial stress being laid upon the punishment which fell upon their contemporaries for disbelief, the moral is always the same, namely, that Mohammed came under precisely similar circumstances, and that a denial of the truth of his mission would bring on his fellow-citizens the self-same retribution. They also show the transition stage between the intense and poetical enthusiasm of the early Meccan chapters and the calm teaching of the later Medinah ones. This change is gradual, and even in the later and most prosaic we find occasionally passages in which the old prophetic fire flashes out once more. The three periods are again marked by the oaths which occur throughout the Koran. In the first period they are all frequent and often long, the whole powers of nature being invoked to bear witness to the unity of God and the mission of His Apostle; in the second period they are shorter and of rarer occurrence; in the last period they are absent altogether.

To understand the Medinah Suras we must bear in mind Mohammed’s position with respect to the various parties in that city. In Mecca he had been a prophet with little honour in his own country, looked on by some as a madman, and by others as an impostor, both equally grievous to him, while his following consisted of the poorest and meanest of his fellow townsmen. His own clansmen, for the reason that they were his clansmen and for no other, resented the affronts against him. In Medinah he appears as a military leader and a prince, though as yet possessing far from absolute authority. Around in the city were, first, the true believers who had fled with him El Muhagerin; next, the inhabitants of Yathrib, who had joined him and who were called El Ansar, “the helpers”; and lastly, a large class who are spoken of by the uncomplimentary name of Munafiqun or “hypocrites”, consisting of those who went over to his side from fear or compulsion, and lastly those “in whose heart is sickness”, who, though believing in him, were prevented by tribal or family ties from going over to him openly. Abdallah ibn Ubai was a chief whose influence operated strongly against Mohammed, and the latter was obliged to treat him for a long time almost as an equal, even after he had lost his political power.

The other party at Medinah was composed of the Jewish tribes settled in and around the city of Yathrib. The Jews were at first looked to as the most natural and likely supporters of the new religion, which was to confirm their own. These various parties together with the pagan Arabs of Mecca and the Christians are the persons with whom the Medinah Suras chiefly deal. The style of the Medinah Suras resembles that of the third period of the Meccan revelations, the more matter-of-fact nature of the incidents related or the precepts given amounting in a great measure for the more prosaic language in which they are expressed.

The other party at Ivledinah was composed of the Jewish tribes settled in and around the city of Tathrib. The Jews were at first looked to as the most natural and likely supporters of the new religion, which was to confirm their own. These various parties together with the pagan Arabs of Mecca and the Christians are the persons with whom the Medinah Suras chiefly deal. The style of the Medinah Suras resembles that of the third period of the Meccan revelations, the more matter-of-fact nature of the incidents related or the precepts given accounting in a great measure for the more prosaic language in which they are expressed. In the Medinah Suras the prophet is no longer trying to convert his hearers by examples, promises, and warnings; he addresses them as their prince in general, praising them or blaming them for their conduct, and giving them laws and precepts as occasion required. (The Qur’an in “Sacred Books of the East”, I, Oxford, 1880, pp. LXI, LXII, and LXIII).


The sources of the Koran be reduced to six:

The Old Testament (canonical and apocryphal) and the hybrid Judaism of the late rabbinical schools. During Mohammed’s time the Jews were numerous in many parts of Arabia, especially around Medina. Familiarity with them is undoubtly responsible for many Old Testament stories alluded to in Koran. Later Judaism and Rabbinism are equally well represented (Geiger, “Was hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthum aufgenommen?”, Wiesbaden, 1833; tr. “Judaism and Islam”, Madras, 1898).

The New Testament (canonical and apocryphal) and various heretical doctrines. On his journeys between Syria, Hijaz, and Yemen, Mohammed had every opportunity to come in close touch with Yemenite, Abyssinian, Ghassanite, and Syrian Christians, especially heretic. Hence, while the influence of orthodox Christianity upon the Koran has been slight, apocryphal and heretical Christian legends, on the other hand, are one of the original sources of Koranic faith. (See Muir, op. cit. infra, 66-239; Tisdall, “The Original Sources of the Qur’an”, London, 1905, 55-211.)

Sabaism, a combination of Judaism, Manicheism, and old disfigured Babylonian heathenism.

Zoroastrianism. On account of Persia’s political influence in the north-eastern part of Arabia, it is natural to find Zoroastrian elements in the Koran.

Hanifism, the adherents of which, called Hanifs, must have been considerable in number and influence, as it is known from contemporary Arabian sources that twelve of Mohammed’s followers were members of this sect.

Native ancient and contemporary Arabian heathen beliefs and practices.

Wellhausen has collected in his “Reste des arabischen Heidentums” (Berlin, 1897) all that is known of pre-Islamic Arabian heathen belief, traditions, customs, and superstitions, many of which are either alluded to or accepted and incorporated in the Koran. From the various sects and creeds, and Abul-Fida, the well-known historian and geographer of the twelfth century, it is clear that religious beliefs and practices of the Arabs of Mohammed’s day form one of the many sources of Islam. From this heathen source Islam derived the practices of polygamy and slavery, which Mohammed sanctioned by adopting them.


It is generally admitted that the Koran is substantially the work of Mohammed. According to the traditionalists, it contains the pure revelation he could neither read nor write, but that immediately afterwards he could do both; others believe that even before the revelation he could read and write; while others, again, deny that he could ever do so. Thus it is uncertain whether any of the suras were written down by the Prophet himself or all delivered by him orally and afterwards writen down by others from memory.

The Koran is written in Arabic, in rhymed prose, the style differing considerably in the various suras, according to the various periods of the Prophet’s life. The language is universally acknowledged to be the most perfect form of Arab speech, and soon became the standard by which other Arabic literary compositions had to be judged – grammarians, lexirographers, and rhetoricians presuming that the Koran, being the word of God, could not be wrong or imperfect.

Mohammed’s hearers began by trusting their memories to retain the words of the revelation they had received from him. Later, those who could write traced them in ancient characters on palm leaves, tanned hides, or dry bones. After the Prophet’s death all these fragments were collected. Zaid ibn Thabit, Mohammed’s disciple, was charged by Abu Bekr, the caliph, to collect all that could be discovered of the sacred text in one volume. The chapters were then arranged according to their length and without regard to historical sequence. The revision made twenty years later affected details of language of the text. The best and most accessible edition of the Koran is that of Flugel, “Al-Qoran: Corani textus Arabicus” (Leipzig, 1834 and since). Maracci’s famous Latin translation of the Koran, with a refutation and commentary, is still unique and useful: “Alcorani textus universus” (Padua, 1698). The standard English versions are those of Sale (London, 1734) with a still useful introductory essay; Rodwel (London, 1861), arranged in chronological order; and Palmer in “Sacred Books of the East” (Oxford, l880).

Publication information Written by Gabriel Oussani. Transcribed by Joseph P. Thomas. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VIII. Published 1910. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York


The Koran or Qur’an

Jewish Viewpoint Information

The sacred scriptures of Islam. According to Mohammedan belief, based upon the testimony of the book itself, the Koran consists of separate revelations vouchsafed by God to Mohammed through the angel Gabriel (sura ii. 91, xxv. 34). These were delivered in Arabic (xxvi. 195) and were thus first of all for the Arabs, who had previously received no manifestation of the will of God (xxxiv. 43). They were designed, also, to confirm the older books of the Torah and the Gospels, and to lead mankind in the right way (iii. 2, et al.). Mohammed is, therefore, the messenger of God (xcviii. 2, etc.) and the seal of the Prophets (xxxiii. 40). In the prime of life this remarkable man, whose developmentis traced in no authentic records, voluntarily retired to solitude. There, through vigils and fasting, he fell into religious trances, in which he felt himself inspired to warn his fellows of an impending judgment.

Form of Revelation.

The oldest portions of the Koran represent the material result of this inspiration. They reflect an extraordinary degree of excitement in their language-in their short, abrupt sentences and in their sudden transitions, but none the less they carefully maintain the rimed form, like the oracles and magic formulas of the pagan Arab priests (Al-A’sha, in Ibn Hisham). This form is preserved in the later sections also, in some of which the movement is calm and the style expository. The book, which is about equal to the New Testament in size, was put together long after the prophet’s death; and its 114 sections were arranged without any regard for chronological sequence.

Quotations from the Koran are found as early as the period of Mohammed’s activity in Mecca (Ibn Hisham, ib. p. 226). The oldest fragments may have been recited by the prophet himself before a band of followers, though probably a small one, who could more easily preserve them, either orally or in writing. The following extracts, referring to the most important articles of faith taught in the Koran, will give an approximate idea of its language and mode of thought:

Allah and Creation.

“Allah is the Creator of the heavens and the earth; when He says ‘Be,’ it is” (ii. 111; iii. 42, 52). “With Him are the keys of the unseen. None knows it save Him; His is the understanding of all that is in the land and in the sea; and no leaf falls without His knowledge” (vi. 59). “Should God touch thee with harm, there is none to remove it save Him; and if He wish thee well, there is none to restrain His bounty” (x. 107). “Do not the unbelieving see that the heavens and the earth were one until We clove them asunder and made every living thing from water” (xxi. 31). “He it is who appointed the sun for brightness; He established the moon for light and ordained her stations, that ye may know the number of the years and the reckoning of them” (x. 5). “The cattle, likewise, have We created for you; in them are warmth and much profit, and of them ye eat. In them is there beauty for you when ye fetch them from their pastures, and when ye drive them forth to graze. They bear your heavy burdens to towns which ye could not otherwise reach, save with great wretchedness of soul: verily, your Lord is gracious and merciful!” “Horses, too, has He created, and mules, and asses, for you to ride upon and for an ornament” (xvi. 5-8). “He it is that sends rain from heaven, whereof ye drink; from which grow the trees whereby ye feed your flocks.” “He makes the corn to grow, and the olives, and the palms, and the grapes, and all manner of fruit: verily, herein is a sign unto them that reflect” (xvi. 10, 11). “He it is that subjected the sea unto you, that ye may eat fresh meat therefrom and bring forth from it the ornaments which ye wear; and thou mayest see the ships that sail upon it” (xvi. 14). “He it is that created you of dust, then of a drop, then of clotted blood, and then brought you forth as children; then ye attain your full strength; then ye become old men-though some of you are taken sooner-and then ye reach the time appointed for you” (xl. 69).

Last Judgment; Resurrection.

“O ye men! fear your Lord! Verily the earthquake of the Hour is a mighty thing!” “On the day ye shall see it, every suckling woman shall forget her sucking babe; and every woman with child shall cast forth her burden; and thou shalt see men drunken, though they have drunk naught” (xxii. 1, 2). “And the day when We shall move the mountains, and thou shalt see the earth a level plain; and We shall gather all men together, and leave no one of them behind: then shall they be brought before thy Lord in ranks. Now are ye come to Us as we created you at first! Nay, but ye thought that we would never make Our promise good! And each shall receive his book, and thou shalt see the sinners in alarm at that which is therein; and they shall say, ‘Alas for us! what a book is this, leaving neither small nor great unnumbered!’ And they shall find therein what they have done; and thy Lord shall deal unjustly with none” (xviii. 45-47). “We shall set just balances for the Day of Resurrection, and no soul shall be wrong; even though it be the weight of a grain of mustard-seed, We shall bring it” (xxi.48). “Verily, those that believe, and those that are Jews, and the Sabeans, and the Christians, and the Magians, and those that join other gods with God-verily, God will decide between them on the Day of Resurrection” (xxii. 17).

Hell and Paradise.

“Verily, We have prepared for the evil-doers a fire, the smoke whereof shall encompass them; and if they cry for help they shall be helped with water like molten brass, which shall scald their faces” (xviii. 28). “But for those that misbelieve, for them are cut out garments of fire; there shall be poured over their heads boiling water; what is in their bellies, and their skins, shall be dissolved; and for them are maces of iron. Whenever in their pain they shall come forth, they shall be thrust back into it” (xxii. 20-22). “Nay, when the earth shall be crushed with crushing on crushing, and thy Lord shall come, and the angels, rank on rank, and hell on that day shall be brought nigh-on that day man shall be reminded! But how shall he have a reminder? He will say, ‘Would that I had prepared in my life for this!’ But on that day none shall be punished with a punishment like his, and none shall be bound with chains like his!” (lxxxix. 22-27).

“On that day shall there be joyous faces, well pleased with their past deeds, in a lofty garden where they shall hear no vain discourse; wherein is a flowing fountain; wherein are high couches and goblets set, and cushions laid in order, and carpets spread!” (lxxxviii. 8-16). “Verily, the righteous shall dwell among delights; seated on couches they shall gaze about them; thou mayest recognize in their faces the brightness of delight; they shall be given to drink wine that is sealed, whose seal is musk; for that let the aspirants aspire! And it shall be tempered with Tasnim, a spring from which thosethat draw nigh to God shall drink” (lxxxiii. 22-28). “O thou soul that art at rest! return unto thy Lord, well pleased and pleasing him! And enter among my servants, and enter my paradise” (lxxxix. 27-30).

Old and New Testament Stories.

Although the passages here quoted contain many original phrases and figures, they are frequently reminiscent of similar passages in the Old and New Testaments. These points of contact are the more numerous because Mohammed repeats many Biblical narratives. These are found especially in the later suras, which have all the characteristics of sermons. The chief subjects taken from the Old Testament are: the Creation; Cain and Abel; Noah; Abraham and his sons; Jacob and his sons; Moses and Aaron; Saul; David and Solomon; Job and Jonah; but from the New Testament, besides Jesus and Mary, only John is mentioned. In the Old Testament narratives the Koran frequently follows the legends of the Jewish Haggadah rather than the Biblical accounts, as Geiger pointed out in his “Was Hat Muhammad aus dem Judenthume Aufgenommen?” (Bonn, 1834; 2d. ed. Berlin, 1902). Thus, the story of Abraham’s destruction of the idols in his father’s house, and his answer to those that asked who had done it (xxi. 58-64), agree with Gen. R. xvii.; the sign that restrained Joseph from sin (xii. 24) corresponds to Soṭah 36b; the refusal of Moses to accept food from the Egyptian women (xxviii. 11) parallels Soṭah 12b; and the account of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba (xxvii.) harmonizes with the commentary of Targum Sheni to Esther i. 13.

For many of these borrowed narratives the sources are unknown. Thus, for instance, the story in the “Sefer ha-Yashar” of the Egyptian women that cut their fingers in bewilderment at Joseph’s beauty (xii. 31) is based on the Mohammedan narrative, and no older Jewish source thereof is known. For the legend of Samiri, comp. “Z. D. M. G.” lvi. 73.

In its version of the story of Jesus the Koran shows more dependence on the apocryphal than on the canonical Gospels. Thus the story of the giving of life to the bird of clay (iii. 43, v. 110) is found in the Gospel of Thomas (ed. Tischendorf, ii. 2). The account of Mary’s marvelous food (iii. 32) is given in the Protevangelium Jacob, viii., as well as the casting of lots for the care of her (ch. ix.), found in iii. 39.

Furthermore, there are many variations, especially in the case of proper names, which are due to confusion on the part of Mohammed himself. Thus, Pharaoh desires to build a tower (xxviii. 38), the story being based on the account of Nimrod (Josephus, “Ant.” i. 4, §§ 2-3); by a confusion with Miriam, Mary is called the sister of Aaron (xix. 29); Haman is the servant of Pharaoh (xxviii. 38); and Azar becomes the father of Abraham (vi. 74)-a reminiscence in Mohammed’s mind of the name of Eliezer (comp. also, for the account of Idris [xix. 57], Nöldeke in “Zeit. für Assyr.” xvii. 83).

Application of Quotations and References.

There are frequent anachronisms in the teachings of Mohammed. Thus, the regulation concerning prayer and almsgiving is mentioned in connection with God’s compact with Israel (v. 15); God commanded Moses and Aaron to provide places of prayer in Egypt (x. 87); and the destruction of Lot’s wife was foreordained by God (xv. 60). Other additions were made to suit Arabic conditions, such as the description of Moses’ staff (xx. 19); the reason assigned for his approach to the burning bush (“I will bring you a blazing brand from it”; xxvii. 7); crucifixion on palm-trees as a punishment (xx. 74); and Joseph as guardian of his brothers’ baggage (xii. 17; comp. Wellhausen, “Skizzen,” iv. 157; for the description of Solomon’s glory, “dishes as large as cisterns”; comp. Al-A’sha, in Al-Mubarrad, 4, 14).

A fundamental alteration, which has a direct bearing on the Arabs and on Mecca, is found in the story of Abraham and his sons, the Koran representing the Biblical patriarch as the founder of the sanctuary at Mecca. Ishmael is not mentioned with him until the later suras, whereas, according to the earlier ones, Isaac and Jacob are the sons of Abraham: probably a confusion in Mohammed’s own mind (comp. Snouck Hurgronje, “Het Mekkaansche Feest,” p. 32). In all the Biblical narratives which are found in the Koran the words placed in the mouths of the speakers are intended to convey Mohammed’s opinions and beliefs. The relation of Mohammed to the Meccans is but thinly disguised under the warnings of individual prophets to a sinful people, and in the answers of the latter. Noteworthy in this connection are the words of Adam and Eve (vii. 22); of Abel (v. 32); of Noah (vii. 57, 59; xi. 27); of the unbelievers in Noah’s time (vii. 58; xi. 34, 45, 48); of Jacob (xii. 99); of Joseph (xii. 33, 37); of Moses (vii. 103, xxviii. 15); of the Egyptian magicians (xx. 75); and of Jesus (xix. 31).

A few legends, in addition to the Biblical narratives, have been taken into the Koran, such as the legend of Alexander the Great, with “the two horns” (xviii. 82 et seq.), which is derived from a Syriac source (Nöldeke, “Beiträge zur Gesch. des Alexanderromans,” p. 32); the legend of the Seven Sleepers (xviii. 8 et seq.; comp. Koch, “Die Siebenschläfer Legende,” Leipsic, 1883; Guidi, “Testi Orientali Inediti Sopra i Sette Dormienti di Efeso,” Rome, 1885); the legend of Moses and the servant of God (xviii. 64 et seq.); and the story of the one hundred years’ sleep (ii. 261; comp. the story of Ḥoni ha-Me’aggel, Yer. Ta’an. iii. 66d; Guidi, “Sette Dormienti,” p. 103).

The Koran contains also native Arabic legends, apparently somewhat altered in form, which are included for the moral they convey. To this class belong the stories of the destruction of the Thamud (the Θαμουδῆνοι of Diodorus Siculus, iii. 44; Ptolemy, vi. 7, 21; “Notitia Dignitatum,” ed. Seeck, pp. 58, 59, 73), on account of their disobedience to their prophet (vii. 71, et al.); of the Madyan (vii. 83, et al.; the of the Bible and the Mαδιάμα of Ptolemy, vi. 7, 27); and of the ‘Ad (xi. 62, et al.), a general term for a mythological, prehistoric people (comp. Nöldeke, “Fünf Mu’allakat,” iii. 31, in “Sitzungsberichte der Wiener Akademie,” 1903). Here, also, belong the story of the breaking of the dam in Yemen (xxxiii. 14) and the speeches placed in the mouth of Luḳman (xxxi. 12 et seq.), who is mentionedlikewise in old Arabic poems. The Koran, in addition, includes many passages of a legislative character and of later date. These contain regulations concerning the pilgrimage (ii. 185); fasting (ii. 181); almsgiving (ii. 273 et seq., lxiv. 17 et seq.); the spoils of war (viii.); marriage (iv. 23, et al.); inheritance (iv. 2, et al.); and the like. In these portions, also, the typical expressions of the earlier passages relating to articles of faith recur as interpolations in the text itself. The language of the Koran is held by the Mohammedans to be a peerless model of perfection. An impartial observer, however, finds many peculiarities in it. Especially noteworthy is the fact that a sentence in which something is said concerning Allah is sometimes followed immediately by another in which Allah is the speaker; examples of this are suras xvi. 81, xxvii. 61, xxxi. 9, and xliii. 10 (comp. also xvi. 70). Many peculiarities in the positions of words are due to the necessities of rime (lxix. 31, lxxiv. 3), while the use of many rare words and new forms may be traced to the same cause (comp. especially xix. 8, 9, 11, 16). See also Islam; Mohammed.

Flügel, Corani Textus Arabicus, Leipsic, 1869; Concordantiœ Corani Arabicœ, ib. 1842; H. O. Fleischer, Beidhawii Commentarius in Coranum, i., ii., ib. 1846-48; Wherry, A Comprehensive Commentary on the Quran, with additional notes and emendations, 4 vols., London, 1883-86; Ullmann, Der Koran aus dem Arabischen Uebersetzt, 6th ed., Bielefeld, 1862; Kasimirski, Le Koran, Traduction Nouvelle, Paris, 1864; E. H. Palmer, Translation of the Quran, in S. B. E. vols. vi. and ix., Oxford, 1880; Th. Nöldeke, Geschichte des Qorans, Göttingen, 1860.G. S. Fr.

The dependence of Mohammed upon his Jewish teachers or upon what he heard of the Jewish Haggadah and Jewish practises is now generally conceded. The subject was first treated from a general point of view by David Mill, in his “Oratio Inauguralis de Mohammedanismo e Veterum Hebræorum Scriptis Magna ex Parte Composita” (Utrecht, 1718); and by H. Lyth in his “Quo Successu Davidicos Hymnos Imitatus Sit Muhammed” (Upsala, 1806-1807). Geiger’s epoch-making work laid the foundation for the study of the Koran in its relation to Jewish writings. J. Gastfreund, in his “Mohamed nach Talmud und Midrasch” (i., Berlin, 1875; ii., Vienna, 1877; iii., Leipsic, 1880), has attempted to show the parallels, also, in later Mohammedan literature; though not always with success, as Sprenger has pointed out (“Z. D. M. G.” xxix. 654). Further parallels are given by Grünbaum (ib. xliii. 4 et seq.). The subject has received an exhaustive treatment at the hands of Hartwig Hirschfeld, in his “Jüdische Elemente im Ḳoran” (1878), in his “Beiträge zur Erklärung des Ḳoran” (Leipsic, 1886), and more especially in his “New Researches into the Composition and Exegesis of the Qoran” (London, 1902; comp. the remarks of August Müller in “Theologische Literaturzeitung,” 1887, No. 12, cols. 278 et seq.).

Hebrew Translations.

Hebrew translations of the Koran were not unknown, and fragments of these may lie buried in Oriental genizahs. Before such translations were made a simple transliteration into Hebrew characters sufficed. Portions of such a transliteration are to be found in Bodleian Manuscript No. 1221 (= Hunt No. 529), the first parts of which are even punctuated; on the margin are Hebrew translations of some passages and references to the Bible and the haggadic literature; the manuscript is in a modern Spanish rabbinical script. Additional fragments of such manuscripts are in the libraries of the Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft (from the Crimea; see Rödiger in “Z. D. M. G.” xiv. 485), the Vatican (Cod. 357, 2), and the Vienna bet ha-midrash (Pinsker, No. 17). In a bookseller’s list cited in “J. Q. R.” xv. 77 is mentioned a volume containing the Torah, the Targum, and the Koran bound together (). A translation into Hebrew from the Latin was made in the seventeenth century by Jacob b. Israel ha-Levi, rabbi of Zante (d. 1634; see Neubauer, “Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS.” No. 2207); and, in modern times, by Herrman Reckendorf (, Leipsic, 1857). A translation into Spanish of sura 70 (“Al-Mi’raj”) was made in the thirteenth century, at the behest of Alfonso X., by the physician of Toledo, Don Abraham; a French rendering of this was afterward made by Bonaventura de Seve. Koran citations, either for polemical purposes or in translations from the Arabic, are occasionally found in Hebrew writings (e.g., in those of Saadia and Hai Gaon). Simon Duran (1423), in his critique of the Koran (see “Ḳeshet u-Magen,” ed. Steinschneider, in “Oẓar Ṭob,” 1881), quotes the Koran; but he mixes such quotations with others from the Sunnah, and probably takes them from translations of Averroes’ works. In some translations from the Arabic, the citations from the Koran were occasionally replaced by quotations from the Bible (e.g., in Al-Bataljusi, and in Judah Nathan’s translations of Ghazali’s “Maḳaṣid al-Falasifah”).

Richard Gottheil, Siegmund Fr�nkel
Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.

Steinschneider, Hebr. Bibl. pp. 309, 339, 591, 854; Z. D. M. G. xv. 381, xlviii. 354; J. Q. R. xii. 499; Polemische Literatur, pp. 313-316.G.


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