بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيم
These are some notes I am taking on the book “The Sources of the Qur’an: A Critical Review of the Authorship Theories” written by Hamza Njozi. In fact, this is not a work by a scholar of Islam, but rather the result of research by a lay Muslim. However, I think there are some good points being made in this work, so I thought it was appropriate to mention them and then leave open the path for further, more scholarly and traditionally-based research, for the future. There is also what may be called some weak points in this book I will point these out as well whenever necessary.
o First of all, in the acknowledgment section, the writer says that a set of taped interviews with Dr. Jamal Badawi on the topic “sources of Islam, the Qur’an, the Ultimate Miracle”, helped him out a lot in the course of writing this book. I was able to download some of these interview myself, but the quality was very low, so I will have to depend on what the writer indirectly presents of Dr. Badawi’s interviews. [I believe some of these tapes are also there in the possession of my family, but I have not seen whether they include these specific interviews.]
o One more thing is that Dr. Badawi is also not a traditional scholar of Islam as far as I know, but this does not mean that he did not make any good points in favor of Islam, but only that there is scope for scholarly review and improvement in his work.
Section One: Introduction
o Br. Njozi says that “scholars have flagrantly contradicted each other” on the topic of who is the author of the Qur’an. I personally think the use of the term “scholars” is not very accurate, since the Muslim readers for the most part do not think of “Western-University educated academics of Islam” or “Orientalists” whenever the word “scholar” is mentioned. Rather, we mostly think in terms of ‘Ulamaa, Shuyuukh, and the like, so this is one matter that we have to be careful upon. I believe the brother was making an attempt to include “Muslim scholars” also under the rubric of scholars, perhaps to influence the non-Muslim mind into accepting that our traditional scholars are serious in the field of Islam and are not ignorant people, as this is what it may seem to be in the minds of many non-Muslims. [But then again, Allah knows best if this was the best method to use, since it does lead to confusion in the minds of Muslims, and it may not dispel the prejudices of the non-Muslims either.]
o Then the writer says that probably the only point of agreement among the various groups is that the Qur’an was uttered for the first time in 6th century Arabia by Muhammad ﷺ. However, I think that there are even those who do not even hold to this point, since their so-called scholarliness has driven them to say that the Qur’an and all of Islam is a gradual work over many generations. By Allah, I do not know why such people are termed ‘scholars’ in any sense of the word. It seems that in certain circles, in order to be known as an ‘academician’ or a ‘scholar’, one has to come up with a new theory or hypotheses, even if it is about a matter of very well-known history that cannot be denied by any objective person. Anyway, this is the situation we are living in right now, and the Muslims have to be extremely careful about where they get their information from, since the possibilities for getting lost are now greater than ever.
o So the brother says next that the “scholars” are divided into three groups: Those who believe that Muhammad ﷺ was himself the author, those who believe he was merely the mouthpiece for other authors, and those (true scholars of Islam) who believe that it is the revelation from Allah the Exalted.
Section Two: Muhammad (bpuh) as the Author
o So the first thing is to look at those who think that Muhammad ﷺ himself was the author. We need to consider that there are many Verses stating that the Qur’an is the revelation from Allah (examples are given from Verses 56:77, 56:80, 26:192-193; Verses 25:1, 3:3, 4:105, 16:44, and 15:9 are also mentioned.) Of course, this is the very basis of Islam, from which its theology and its rules are articulated.
o The style of the address in the Qur’an also indicates a message from the Creator to the creature (a case in point is the Bismala at the beginning of the Chapters.) The author says that the address is in the first person, so much so that the word ‘Qul’ (Say) addressed to the Prophet ﷺ occurs more than 300 times in the Qur’an, and there are other imperatives such as proclaim, recite, glorify your Lord, prostrate, and so forth, that we find in the Qur’an.
o There is one thing that I want to mention in here. As mentioned in one of the works I had written concerning certain doubts people may have about the Qur’an, it may happen that in some of the recitations, the reading is ‘Qaala Rabbi’ [My Lord said], and this is in the third person. But people should not take this as meaning that the Prophet ﷺ made up the Qur’an, but rather it is one of the manifestations of the miraculous nature of the Qur’an and in the many meanings that can be correctly derived from the Qur’an. And the same applies when we read in certain Verses ‘Wa Qaala Rabbukum’ [And your Lord says, the ‘your’ being for a multitude of people], it does not mean that, God forbid, this was a mistake or a forgery, but that there is a deeper meaning behind the use of this passage as opposed to the ones where the Prophet ﷺ would have been addressed directly with an imperative. This is not currently the topic for discussion, but it is something that the readers should keep in mind so that they do not become confused.
o Even though we know that Divine revelation precludes human authorship, the Qur’an, in a number of Verses (such as Verse 17:88) says to the effect that the entire creation coming together cannot produce something like the Qur’an. Some people my think that this declaration of a challenge is redundant and unnecessary, but in fact it serves important purposes: Firstly, it shows that the Qur’an is the biggest miracle given to the Prophet ﷺ, since Prophethood is established by the Prophet presenting his inimitable supernatural event or thing whilst claiming Prophethood, and it also refutes those such as the Christians or Hindus, who say that the writers of the primary holy texts were generally inspired by the Divinity, but that the actual recension and composition was done by the writers themselves, and in this way they try to combine “human composition” with “divine inspiration”. But the Qur’an is not like that, since the inspiration of the text was from Allah to the Prophet ﷺ, and moreover, the composition in the Arabic idiom was also from Allah the Exalted. Neither the Prophet ﷺ, or Jibril (Alayhi Salam), or anyone else had a “hand” in this matter.
o Ok, so there are a number of Verses in addition to Verse 17:88 in terms of challenging the creation to compose something like the Qur’an. The author mentions in particular Verses 2:23-24. About these two Verses, we must understand that they came at the end of several previous challenges in this vein, and it was meant to be the “easiest” form of this challenge to mankind.
o We also see that one of the answers to the charge that Muhammad ﷺ was the author is contained in Verses 10:15-16. In these Verses, the idolaters are told to reflect that the Prophet ﷺ had lived amongst his people for forty years without having sat in circles of learning, and also having shown disdain for poetry and competitions related to poetry.
o Verse 29:48 is also important in this respect, since it also points to the fact that the Prophet ﷺ never wrote a book with his hand. Allah knows best, and I am not claiming for the below to be a Tafseer of this noble Verse, but there could be a pointer in here that not only was the Prophet ﷺ not know to have composed poetry or written book on his own, but he did not read the books of other nations, nor did he even transcribe the books of other people.
o In many cases, people may understand that the one who has already written books in his past may be able to produce bigger and better things in the future, but it is also possible that a “simple” copyist also reaches high levels of expertise almost stealthily, since there is an influence on the copyist’s thoughts processes and evolution of writing only by the act of transcribing other’s works. (And if one thinks that transcribing is sort of “old school” for today’s world, they can think of translating, as this has an effect not only in terms of the text translated, but also of new thinking patterns that are brought into the mind of the translator as his work progresses.)
o So in here, all of the possible avenues that the non-Muslims may think of for raising objections to the alleged past of the Prophet ﷺ in this regard are answered, even the ones that may not occur to most people. It is, in very general terms, something like what one Hadeeth mentions about the Prophet ﷺ imploring Allah for safety from the Shaytaan from all the sides, even from above. This, even though the Shaytan cannot reach people from above (since this is the place from where blessings descend on people), but the Prophet ﷺ still mentioned it. In this Verse then, all possible avenues for rational objection against the Prophet ﷺ are blocked, even the ones with very low possibility. [Of course, I will need to ask whether these few lines above are a correct deduction, and meanwhile I do not claim that this is an exegesis of the Verse, but just something that has to be looked into.]
o The author also says that the incident after the first revelation in the Cave of Hira is an instance where the Prophet ﷺ clearly disclaimed authorship of the Qur’an. As many of us might know, the story is sometimes used against the Muslims in order to give the impression that the Prophet ﷺ was bewitched or had been taken hold off by the Devil, or other such things. A more ample answer to this may be given in another place, but what is relevant to our discussion right now is that we see that there is no way that someone who is making up things by himself can show signs of being worried or anxious concerning what he himself has made up. This is simply part of human behavior, and we know that the reaction as shown in the Ahadeeth does not correspond to that of someone who has started a forged mission.
o Coming back to this work, even though the claim of human authorship was disclaimed at all times by the Prophet ﷺ, the orientalists and other so-called “scholars of Islaam” continue to say that he ﷺ must have been lying in this matter. The first example is from Charles Hamilton, the translator of the Hedaya – the Hedaya is a well-known Hanafi manual of jurisprudence, and it seems quite obvious that the British had certain ulterior motives in commissioning a translation for this text, given that the vast majority of Muslims from the Subcontinent were and are followers of the Hanafi school of jurisprudence.
o Anyway, Hamilton says that the enemies of the Prophet ﷺ could not really agree as to who was the author of the Qur’an, though for Hamilton himself, it is clear that Muhammad ﷺ was an impostor and was himself the author of the Qur’an, with perhaps some help from others – but he ascribes no motive for this act of allegedly forged composition.
o As a personal note, let me say that Hamilton’s admission that the enemies of the Prophet ﷺ could not agree amongst themselves as to the source of the Qur’an once they had denied that it was a revelation from Allah is in fact a huge point in favor of the Muslims. For if those who were closest to the Prophet ﷺ and had every chance and motivation to spy into his day-to-day life in order to find out the “natural cause” for the Qur’an could not agree upon any excuse for why the Qur’an was composed as it was, how can someone come after more than 11 centuries and be so sure as to the source of its composition? It certainly could not have evaded the minds of the Arabs at that time that one person or a group of persons could have been the author of the Qur’an, but the main point from their lack of unity on this matter was that this easy explanation could not have possibly been true and they knew that it could not have been true, which is why all these other hypothesis and guesses started to come out from their side.
o Actually, this has to do with the lack of precise knowledge about the nature of Arab society in the 7th century, which is why many of the Orientalists felt quite certain about the claims they made, even though they were made from a base of ignorance and wild imagination. And this is also somewhat related to a mentality that saw those outside of the European civilizations as barbarians that could not possibly have had any truth with them. The base paradigm may not be there nowadays, but the effects are very much with us even today.
o Very much the same position is seen from Richard Bell, who thought that Muhammad ﷺ was the author in his ‘The Qur’an: Translated with a Critical Rearrangement of the Surahs. (Let me say on a personal note that the phrase ‘critical rearrangement’ already makes all sorts of alarm bells go off, since Bell would want to make himself look like a genius in rearranging the Qur’an to his taste, by saying that he has reached the historical truth with respect to the alleged “order in which the Qur’an was originally composed.” In here, the urge to simply drop whatever has been historically shown to be true with respect to Islam reaches its zenith (or one of its many zeniths), and the “scholar” invents his own criteria in order to reach a certain conclusion.
o Another position can be seen from Bryan S. Turner’s review of Max Weber’s thoughts on Islam. Apparently, Weber’s position was that Muhammad ﷺ was an opportunist and his followers were motivated solely by the prospects of economic gain, and that Muhammad ﷺ realized that appeals to piety and morality did not help him achieve glory, power, and economic gain, and that as a result he had to devise a way to moralize a warrior force. Thus, Weber said that the Prophet ﷺ had to redirect his message in terms of military dynamism in order to maintain a maximum number of warriors for the faith, and that these warriors were motivated by the prospect of large holdings of real estate and power, since religious war in Islam was oriented to feudal interests in land.
o I believe the general objections are dealt with later in this book, but let us also see that Max Weber’s background seems to drive him to a certain conclusion, that everything must come down to economic or societal causes. (Of course, we also have Weber’s Protestant bias, but this needs more research in its own right that cannot be conducted in here.)
o Now, some people might say that yes, many of the European and non-Muslim researchers of Islam tried to pinpoint a natural cause for the development and success of Islam, but why should we Muslims criticize them, if the only thing they were doing was to find out a reason they thought was convincing for explaining the development and rise of a religion they did not believe in anyway? Well then, we would say, this is not a real objection, since we know that whenever the person does not accept Islam, he will come up with some or the other reason, and this is not something novel or strange. If we continue arguing about this, the discussion will very quickly degrade into ad hominem attacks, reiteration of the same points again and again, and many other things we do not wish to get into.
o There is something else that certain people might say, which is that fine, certain people like Weber were reducing Islam to certain natural causes, but don’t the Muslims also reduce everything that Muhammad ﷺ said to revelation and inspiration by Allah? They ask that if we Muslims cannot accept the possibility of Muhammad ﷺ making errors, then where is the locus of agreement, and how can we carry out discussions with non-Muslims? We say this is again not a strong objection. When we say that we reduce everything to revelation and inspiration, this is not a “cop-out”. This is rather an invitation for everyone to study the system, the evidences, and the proofs of Islam and to make their decision based on a systematic study of the religion. But when we talk about reductionism in the social sciences, these are merely theories that come and go every few years. They were not meant to be decisive and indubitable explanations to begin with, especially when we talk about a field that is constantly in flux such as sociology, political theory, or economics, where the human factor really prevents the adoption of any fixed theorems.
o Coming back to the Orientalists, we have Mr. Kenneth Cragg who is his book ‘Call of the Minaret’ said that the Qur’an was the Prophet’s ﷺ conscious work based on the observations of what he saw around him, attributed to God in order to save people from idolatry. Let me just say personally that this “evil means to achieve a noble end” idea is very strange in this context. For if anyone wants to reform the society from idolatry, there are many ways other than making up a new religion for this end. After all, the apparently Jewish and Christian monotheistic religions were there, and Muhammad ﷺ would have had much more success trying to reform the idolatry of the society if he had simply latched himself onto the existing religions (of course, here we are considering only the natural and mundane reasons that are thought of by our opponents.) Even then, we see that the Qur’an is against idolatry, but also against Christianity and Judaism. It does not seem to be a winning strategy, to simply put yourself totally against the entire world, and then hope for miraculous success, unless one has received revelations or inspirations that this is truly what has to be done in this situation, and that the outcome is with Allah the Exalted.
o Mr. Arthur Arberry, the famous translator of the Qur’an, is another one of those who held the view that Muhammad ﷺ claimed to be a Prophet only in order to save his people from the idolatry that was common amongst them. Arberry also said in the introduction to his work that the increasing successes in his mission made him believe more and more that he was a Prophet of God.
o There are a number of things I wish to clarify: First of all, I tell Muslims and anyone from amongst the non-Muslims who is sincere, please do not read Arberry’s translation of the Qur’an. The reason is simple: We cannot entrust something as huge as a translation of the Qur’an to someone who does not hold on to the very basic ideals of Islam. Even Arberry named his translation “The Koran Interpreted”. Does it occur to anyone to have believe that a Tafseer (exegesis) of the Qur’an carried out by a non-Muslim is of any weight? If he cannot fathom this, then he should know that a translation has many issues related to interpretation behind it, and it is not simply a case of people plucking words out of an Arabic-English dictionary or lexicon and then saying that their translation of the Qur’an is correct. Sure, we know that Arberry was not as hostile to Islam as many other people have been, but still, his outlook as a whole militates against us considering his translation or interpretation as sound.
o The brother next gives the views of one M.M. Mulokozi, who said that it was Muhammad’s ﷺ desire to liberate his Arabian fatherland from imperialist domination which drove him to adopt Prophethood as the means to crystallize this struggle. Mulokozi says that the colonialist situation at that time gave rise to the claim of Prophethood, and that this was a well-known means to foster nationalism among the peoples of the Middle East.
o But from a first observation, this seems like a very far-off claim, since it take the normative nationalistic sentiments of the 19th and 20th centuries and it blindly projects them back to 7th century Arabia. Not only that, it also claims the ‘yoke’ of colonialism, even though the imperialist powers at that time had not seriously set their sights on the Arabian Peninsula as such, and there was no direct imperialistic or vassal-like interaction between the big Empires of that time and the arab desert and city dwellers of the Hijaaz. At the most, it seems like a clumsy attempt to link what may have happened in the history of the Jews with relation to the Romans and the Arabs with relation to the Byzantines and Persians. Of course, the differences were quite enormous, and anyone with a good understanding of the Arab situation at that time can tell that the situation in Hijaaz in the 7th century was quite different than that of, for example, 1st century Palestine.
o Anyway, another quote is shown from the ‘New Catholic Encyclopedia’ along the same lines, implying that the call to Prophethood was more than anything else related to the hope of Arab unity. Thus, the Islamic religion as a whole, and the Qur’an’s appearance in particular are presented as coming from nothing other than a desire for power, economic gain, moral reformation, or political reformation (along the lines of nationalistic unity.)
Section Three: Material Gain as the Motive
o The brother mentions the view of some scholars (i.e. Western Orientalists) who say that Muhammad ﷺ was motivated by material gain, and that since he was aiming for the highest type of material gain, he attributed the Qur’an to God in order to gain more adherents.
o As an initial observation, this is a very strange proposition, since the Prophet’s ﷺ material lifestyle before Prophethood was better than after the call began and for all the years after that. And if we ponder over this matter in a sober way, we have to recall that when someone wishes to achieve a goal, the means to attain this goal always lead to the goal itself, in one way or the other.
o For example, if a person wishes to become rich, he does not squander money, he does not throw money randomly into the streets, but rather takes methods to reach his goal of becoming rich. If he wants to become famous, he tries to do things in order to achieve recognition within the circles that will catapult him to stardom. Yes, of course, there may be cases where the person’s goals are not set properly, or he does not know how to achieve a goal, but some of the ‘practical contradictions’ are so obvious that they are not worth considering (like the man who tries to become rich by burning all his money, we know he is either mentally unstable or he does not want to become rich in the first place.)
o And this is where we can connect this abstract understanding with what actually happened in the Prophet’s ﷺ life, since it is very strange to say that one wishes to become rich by following a path that meads to more and more loss of financial reserves, or that leads to an economic boycott, or to other similar situations. Thus, the supposed claim does not seem to be related at all to the reality on the ground in such a case. This is in fact a very obvious situation, and anyone who knows the Prophet’s ﷺ life knows that the ‘theory of material gain’ is a very far-off proposition.
o Thus, the author says that a month or two would pass without a fire being lit in the Prophet’s ﷺ house due to there not being anything to cook, and that the only diet was dates, water, sometimes supplemented with goat milk. As a personal comment, I wonder if anyone of the people reading this would really be able to voluntarily go for even a week on this type of diet.
o A quote from Martin Lings’ book is brought forth, where it is mentioned that only after the conquest of Khaybar (only 3 years before the Prophet’s ﷺ death) did ‘Ayesha (RAA) know what it was to eat her fill of dates. [Also notice that it was dates, not a steak, not a roasted calf, but dates.]
o And as we know, the Prophet’s ﷺ wives and all of his dependants mostly lived a life of frugality at all times, and there is even in the Qur’an the Verses [33:28-29] regarding the choice given to the Prophet’s ﷺ wives as to whether they wanted to be set free to live whichever way they liked or whether they wished to remain with the Prophet ﷺ and the Eternal Abode of Paradise.
o There are other specific incidents the brother mentions which I will recount in here, such as when ‘Umar (RAA) saw the marks of the sheet the Prophet ﷺ was resting on imprinted on his blessed body, and only saw in his room a few pieces of tanned skin and some barley.
o As an aside, there may be some people looking at the story and then making a big deal out of this incident, saying that why did ‘Umar (RAA) question the Prophet’s ﷺ frugal life, did he have to be reminded concerning the everlasting abode of Paradise versus the temporality of this world?
o To be honest, I have not read the scholarly explanation of this narration [and will consult it whenever possible], but we can see that in many cases, the Companions showed emotion and shed tears for the Prophet’s ﷺ condition due to their love for him, not because they were in doubt about Islam, or because they were in doubt about the truth of the Hereafter, etc.
o We also cannot take the Prophet’s ﷺ questioning of ‘Umar (RAA) as to whether “he was in doubt” to mean a doubt about the reality of the Hereafter and its joys, but rather that in certain cases, the teacher instructs the students in a more firm manner, in order to really inculcate the lesson the student is to learn, and also in consideration of the students’ strength in being instructed in a firm manner. Of course, the Prophet ﷺ knew that ‘Umar was shedding tears due to extreme love, but the Prophet ﷺ wanted him to remember the fleeting nature of the troubles in this world, and that there is really no permanence to it.
o Coming back to the main narrative, when ‘Ayesha (RAA) was asked about the bedding of the Prophet ﷺ, she said that it was made of leather filled with the bark of date-palm trees. Now I do not know if the readers have seen date-palm trees, but they are not something any of the normal people would really like to sleep on, and they avoid sleeping on the bark of such trees if they could ever avoid it. The point is that one’s sleep is the time and situation where one would ‘at least’ try to be comfortable if they could. But in here we see that the Prophet ﷺ had no longing for these sorts of things (such as a ‘comfortable pillow’), since his sights were set at a much higher plane.
o And one interesting personal experience is that indeed people consider their sleep as the time where they can think of comforts, even if it is only in their minds. This is why we hear many people saying, if they are very tired that, ‘just give me a soft pillow and I will sleep right now.’ They cannot distance comfort from sleeping in their minds, even when they are very tired, which means that ‘comfort’ and ‘sleeping’ have become hard-wired into their thinking patterns. But this is the amazing thing when we consider the Seerah, that the Prophet ﷺ in his practical life could not live with such luxuries.
o Another narration, this time from Hafsa (RAA) mentions that the Prophet ﷺ objected to sleeping on a four-folded canvas as opposed to a double-folded one, since he ﷺ said that the additional softness stood in the way of the Tahajjud (night prayer.)
o A quotation from the New Catholic Encyclopedia, rejecting material gain as the purpose of Islam’s appearance is shown at the very end of this chapter. Before that, there are several more incidents mentioned from the Prophet’s ﷺ life that definitely give credence to this mental rejection. For example, we know that the Prophet ﷺ would give everything that was presented to him as a gift to the poor people.
o The specific incident mentioned in the book refers to four loaded camels from the chief of Fidak. What I have read about this from other books is that the Prophet ﷺ paid a huge debt that Bilal (RAA) had with whatever was loaded onto the camels, and then kept on distributing what was left from it until it was fully spent. It is mentioned that the Prophet ﷺ did not leave the Masjid for the entire day until everything was distributed.
o Another very important evidence is that the Prophet ﷺ distributed every single amount of money he had on the poor, for fear of having left something behind in the world when he passed on to Allah. It is also reported that when he died, the Prophet ﷺ was actually in debt, and his shield was in the possession of a Jewish citizen of Madinah as collateral for that debt. It is obvious that when he ﷺ could have very well lived in great luxury, or at least in better material situations, yet chose to struggle until the very end of his life in poverty and abstention from this world, that his heights were set at much higher goals than mere material enjoyment, and that the claim of those who talk about Islam being the brainchild of Muhammad’s ﷺ hope to achieve material gain is simply false.
o There is, however, something that may come up in the mind of some people, in that they say that all of these narrations seem to point to the life of an absolute recluse who did not wish to have anything to do with the world. Actually, this is the miraculous thing about the Prophet’s ﷺ life, in that he was a full and able (the ablest) leader in the community, in the battlefield, and (obviously and most importantly) in the religious sphere, yet he did not allow all of the victories he ultimately obtained over his enemies to make him hoard wealth and possessions. So this is a very important point to consider with respect to the “theory of material gain”.
Section Four: Desire for Power and Glory
o There is another set of claims, these ones connected to the allegation that the Prophet ﷺ simply wished to gain power and glory for himself. But this is also a difficult assertion to maintain, since the Prophet ﷺ is acknowledged as an extremely able leader even by his opponents. A man with these leadership qualities could have assumed power without having claimed Prophethood.
o In fact it would have been easier that way, or by having claimed that he himself was the author of the Qur’an (since in that case, the Arab people of his time would have made him their chieftain due to his high eloquence, and this is something we see in action during the pre-Islamic period.)
o But the truth is that of course, the Prophet ﷺ was never a seeker of power, and we know this since the one who seeks power for its own sake loves to have all of the “appendixes of power” such as big palaces, statues built for him, inordinate praises, and so on and so forth (and this is something we can see even today with many leaders around the world; it is not something only of the past.)
o But rather, we see that the Prophet ﷺ used to help in the household chores, used to mend his clothes and milk the goats in his house. Very importantly, he used to listen to anyone who came to him with some complaint, so much so that the hypocrites said that “he was (all) ear”, meaning they were trying to denigrate him ﷺ by saying that he listened to the complaints of all people, even the poorest and apparently lowest of all people.
o In this we also see something of the great humility of the Prophet ﷺ, in that in today’s world, there are people who are only small managers of some company, and yet they supposedly have no time even for their own families, since they consider themselves too important or too busy to attend to these matters. And we know of (for example), the presidents of some companies, who can never be seen at all, who are totally inaccessible to the common folk. Why? Because they think that their enterprises and their lives cannot function properly if they let the normal people interact with them.
o So this is a sign not only of the Prophet’s ﷺ humility, but also of his efficiency, and of the Wisdom of Allah in sending Muhammad ﷺ in the era and in the place that He sent him, so that the greatest impact could be had by him both directly and indirectly on the world at large.
o The author also mentions that there was a moment when the Companions wanted to stand up for the Prophet ﷺ as a sign of respect for him, but he ﷺ forbade them from doing so (it is mentioned in the quoted narration that it was a practice of the Persians, and we know that there were many practices of the Magian Persians that ere frowned upon in Islam). I will need to ask about this particular issue in more detail, since I have personally heard from certain ‘Ulamaa who allow for people to stand up for one another as a sign of aggrandizing the Muslims (that is, we recognize the elevation that Islam gives to people), so I will have to see where the concordance between the two situations (this narration and the practice of some people I have seen) may lie.
o Another example is that the Prophet ﷺ did not wish to delegate the collecting of wood for cooking to the Companions at one instance when he was travelling with them. And he also calmed down a person who came in front of him, trembling out of respect, telling him that he was the son of a woman who used to eat dried bread (i.e., while his spiritual position is extremely high and unattainable by anyone else, yet he lives like the rest of the people in this world.)
o Another instance was when some of the Muslims came to him ﷺ and said that he was “the best of us and the son of the bet of us, our leader and the son of our leader”, at which the Prophet ﷺ said that he was only the slave of Allah and His Messenger, and that he did not like people raising him to a status above what Allah had given him. In the footnote, there is another report from al-Bukhari where a girl once composed a poem saying that: “Among us is a Prophet who knows what will happen in the future”, but the Prophet ﷺ admonished the girl and told her to compose any other poem.
o Ok, there is one thing that has to be made abundantly clear in here, which is that the Prophet ﷺ was not saying that he was not the best of the people, or that he was not their leader, but that he was rather protecting the people from giving excessive praise which may have veered off into jeopardizing people’s Imaan. And the same goes with the girl who composed the poem, it is not that the Prophet ﷺ was not given knowledge of many of the things that would happen in the future, but rather that the ascription may have been of an absolute type [i.e., it may have been misconstrued by some as meaning that the Prophet ﷺ knows the unseen just like Allah knows the unseen, and this is clearly unacceptable.] But the fact that the Prophet ﷺ predicted the occurrence of so many things is something that cannot be rejected by anyone who has even a cursory knowledge of Ahadeeth.
o (I will not get into the discussion as to whether the Prophet ﷺ was given knowledge of the details of everything that is to happen until the Day of Judgment, this is a topic that may be discussed elsewhere if and when necessary.)
o Another instance that we can consider surrounds the time when the Prophet’s ﷺ son Ibrahim died, and this coincided with an eclipse of the sun. Some people thought it must be a miracle from Allah that the sun and the moon were mourning for the death of the Prophet’s ﷺ son; but he ﷺ said that the sun and the moon are merely signs from among the signs of Allah that do not eclipse due to the birth or death of anyone.
o We can understand from this the humility of the Prophet ﷺ and his amazing mental and emotional composure during times of stress and agony. Had he been a liar in search of power, as our opponents say, he could have simply approved of the suggestion of those who thought that the eclipse had something to do with his son’s death. But we need to look at how he actually handled the situation, and that he did not at all let his emotions or the potential for earthly grandeur get in the way of explaining the true purpose of the sun and the moon. This is a very important consideration particularly in today’s age, when – for example- the nationalistic frenzy of many people leads them to ascribe all sorts of superhuman feats and occurrences about the ‘fatherland’ or the ‘founding fathers’ of a country.
o Another point mentioned is that the Prophet ﷺ had tremendous humility while being in a position of power, where his followers were always willing and ready to obey him. The Prophet ﷺ though, always stressed that obedience was to Allah alone at the end of the day, and an implication of this was that Allah had bestowed the huge blessing of Prophethood on Muhammad ﷺ, and it was only due to Allah’s Mercy for both the Prophet and his followers that people were obliged to follow the Prophet ﷺ.
o In here, we need to mention that the humility shown while in power is of a different and of a higher type than the humility shown while alone, with very few people to lead. And the reason for this is because in the latter case, the heart naturally inclines towards being humble and not caring about the affairs of the world, since the world has departed from the humble and lonely person to begin with. However, when the riches of the world are at one’s feet, when there are tens of thousands of people ready to do one’s biding, that is the time when humility is exercised at a much greater level, since in here we would be talking about how to bear much greater responsibilities while keeping the heart away from sticking to the joys of the world.
o Note that humility is not always keeping one’s head bowed down and being in a state of total silence, as we see the so-called ‘saints’ of other religions doing (and in fact, this could be a type of arrogance if we examine it closely, since many of these people think of themselves as to ‘pure’ and ‘holy’ to intermingle with the masses.) Rather, in many cases humility includes being totally within the affairs of the world, giving the rights of all people even if they are a multitude, while remembering that the final destination is Allah the Exalted.
o This is one of the reasons why the Prophet ﷺ is the leader of all the creation; since he combined both extreme efficiency in worldly management with total control of the states of the heart. He was not only within the affairs of his community, but he was the leader of the affairs of his community, the ‘king’ of this Ummah. Yet, his heart knew this was only the responsibility and the mercy given to him by Allah (much more can be said about this, but this is only a brief mention for all of us to have some idea about this.)
o The author points out that the Prophet ﷺ consulted on matters open to consultation and respected the opinions of others. For example, he accepted the advice of Habib ibn al-Mundhir (Radhia Allahu Anhu) with regards to the Battle of Badr.
o This, as I understand, was with respect to the place for encampment on the eve of the Battle. Now, one additional thing we see in here is the huge humility of the Companions for the Prophet ﷺ, that Habib (RAA) asked first whether the decision to encamp at a certain place was given to the Prophet ﷺ as Wahy or not, and only after discovering that it was not Wahy did he give his own input. Compare it to the situation of today, that people want to do whatever they feel like, and they even go to the length of denying the Prophethood of Muhammad ﷺ, nay, they even deny the Existence of Allah Himself in their voracious appetite to do whatever deed they please. Then, there are some nominal Muslims who know that something significant is indeed part of Islam, but they still wish to stage demonstrations against it, reject it outright, and so forth. May Allah help us all in these troubling times.)
o Likewise, the author mentions that for the Battle of Uhud the Prophet ﷺ accepted the Companions’ position to go out and fight, rather than to stand siege within the city walls, and he likewise accepted Salman’s (RA) advice for digging trenches around Madinah in preparation for the Battle of Al-Ahzaab.
o The Prophet ﷺ also forbade people from overpraising him, or from making his grave a place of worship [I am simply mentioning this issue, but I do not wish for it to become a point of dispute with regards to the permissibility or lack thereof for the building of structures over graves. This is a matter of Fiqh outside the scope of this discussion. But of course, no Muslim would accept “worship of the Prophet ﷺ” as a valid action, and this may Insha Allah become the point of departure for a future work, if necessary.]
o We also see that in the Qur’an, there are many Verses pointing to the fact that the Prophet ﷺ was only following the orders of Allah, and that all the Power truly was with Allah, and the Prophet ﷺ had no independent power of his own – this, of course, is the message running throughout the Qur’an, but its connection with the Prophet ﷺ is crucial, since someone seeking to aggrandize himself in the religious sphere [which can of course give some temporal semblance of power], cannot escape the pull of wanting to be adulated and worshipped.
o This is why we see so many charlatans coming up nowadays, all of them claiming to be gods or the ‘sons of God’. It is clear that anyone who wishes to have worshippers at his doorstep will take the necessary means towards that – we see that even in the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Japan, etc., the king or emperor was seen as a holy emanation of God, a son of God, and so on and so forth, and this led to the obeisance of the laity towards them.
o But in the Qur’an and the Ahadeeth, we see that the Prophet ﷺ proclaimed (either directly or indirectly) not only that he is not God; he did not only proclaim that he is not the son of God; but that even in the impossible scenario that God would have taken a son, the Prophet ﷺ would have been the first to worship this son (so note that the Qur’an does not say that Muhammad ﷺ would have been God’s ‘son’ in this impossible case).
o Not only this, but we Muslims are not even allowed to call Muhammad ﷺ as a son of God in an ‘honorary sense’, as this is also one of the manifestations of disbelief in Islamic belief. Note that at the time of the Isra’ and Mi’raaj, when the Prophet ﷺ had ascended to the highest station that any creature had gotten to or will ever get to, he answered to Allah the Exalted that he wished to be honored by ‘Ubudiyya to Allah (i.e. the status of being Allah’s slave). And this is what we see in the Qur’an at the beginning of Surah al-Israa, where the first Verse mentions (in translation): ‘Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al- Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.’
o So this is one of the many instances where we see that the Prophet ﷺ showed that the best of people are those are best in servitude and slavery to Allah since this is the only possible relationship that one can have to Allah, not that on sonship and other filial relations (which are impossible to begin with).
o Another point is that the Prophet ﷺ was in a state of great natural awe [I do not think the word ‘fear’ is the correct one in here], and this shows that he ﷺ could not have possibly put his mind towards consciously writing the Qur’an. For the first revelation would not have been totally unexpected (as it was in reality), nor would there have been any sense of awe in his heart – it si very difficult to make up feelings of awe, except if the awe is truly from the heart. Even if we suppose the premise that the Prophet ﷺ did not write the Qur’an so consciously, but only had a fervent wish to revelation to descend on him, then whenever such revelation acme (of if he thought that it had come), this would have led to feelings of happiness and contentment, not to feelings of awe, etc. (There are many things that may be discussed about the Hadeeths mentioning the first revelation, but this is not the place to consider such matters).
o We also know that the Prophet ﷺ used to receive the revelation many a times in front of his Companions (that is, in public) and many times those around him could see visible signs showing that a change had occurred in the countenance of the Prophet ﷺ – the upshot of this is that one who consciously tries to gain power would not try to appear in different states in his countenance, unless we accept the premise that such change were something that came from without, and were a result of something great descending on him ﷺ.
o And on very important point surrounds the time when ‘Utbah bin Rabee’a went to the Prophet ﷺ and gave the offer of the Quraysh connected to riches, position, kingship, and/or relief from sickness, and the Prophet’s ﷺ response were Verses from Surah Fussilat. As we know from the story, ‘Utbah was totally overcome by these Verses and told the Quraysh to leave Muhammad ﷺ alone, as he understood from hearing these Verses that a great things would come forth from this message of hi ﷺ.
o The point in here is that if the whole ‘fabrication’ of the Qur’an (as our opponents call it) was geared towards acquiring material benefits, glory, power, etc., from the Makkans and from the Arabs in general, here was the best offer he ﷺ could have possibly received in this regard, where they were basically begging him to take riches, status, kingship, etc., and just stop his message. If we look at the matter from a purely materialistic perspective, the deal would seem to be quite good, and there is no so-called ‘rational’ reason to reject it. But of course, there is the ‘supra-rational’ reason of the obligation to convey this message of Islam fully, and this is the reason why the Prophet ﷺ not only rejected this offer, but also endured so much hardship all of his life, until Allah took him to His Presence.
o One last point that may be I have mentioned elsewhere, is that even when he ﷺ became the victor of Arabia after the Conquest of Makkah, it is reported that he entered the Haram with so much humility while riding his animal, that some people thought he might have died (due to his lowering his head due to humility in front of Allah the Exalted). So if the person has achieved his goal, and yet is humble, then this is a great sign that ‘power’ is absolutely not one of the things sought after by that individual.
Section Five: Unity and Liberation of Arabs
o As we saw before, there I another theory out there, that the Prophet ﷺ made up the Qur’an in order to liberate the Arabs from the yoke of imperialism; but this is also difficult to consider seriously for a number of reasons:
o Firstly, there is no passage at all in the Qur’an calling for an Arab uprising to throw off the supposed yokes of imperial domination [so this theory is dead in the water so as to say]. And another issue is that there were really no empires directly ruling over the many different and scattered Arab peoples at that time, since for the empires of that era, there was really nothing of interest for them either in the weather, the riches, or the people of Arabia for them to risk an all-out war of conquest.
o Secondly, the concept of Ummah is ideological, and we see that many of the Companions who converted to Islam were not Arabs in the strict ethnic sense of the word, but they were nonetheless accorded a place of full respect and involvement in the affairs of the Ummah. Note also that not even once does the Qur’an proclaim: ‘O Arabs’, but rather mentioned mankind either as whole or highlights the differences between them on account of their beliefs.
o Thirdly, we say ‘Utbah’s offer from the Quraysh included autocratic kingship for Muhammad ﷺ – so why would he not use this kingship as a tool to achieve his objectives, if the liberation of the Arab nations was truly his aim?
o Fourthly, we see that even in the Makkan Chapters, there are many stories about the Israelite Prophets, and how Allah showed favors to the Children of Israel. We also know that Maryam (AS) is one of the noblest women of all the world, so how can it be that so many Israelite Prophets and noble personalities are mentioned, while those from among the ‘pure Arabs’ are comparatively few and far between?
o This would again seem to put gaping holes inside the ‘Arab nationalist’ theory of the Qur’an, since one would expect for a huge number of ‘Arab prophets’ to be mentioned, and for the Israelites side of Prophethood to be greatly diminished in such a case.
o It is sometimes said that the truth of the matter is that the Qur’an disparages the Jewish nation and does not show them in a good light whatsoever. Our response is that there were different types of people in this community, but the bottom line is that great blessings bring greater responsibility – so the Qur’an highlights their blemishes as it relates to the dismissal of the favors granted to them. It is obvious that without the favors of having Prophethood in their midst, there was no point in reminding them again and again of how they should have behaved in a certain case but failed to do so. And finally, we must remember that the term ‘Ahl al-Kitaab’ (People of the Book) is used with regards to the Jews, which means that there was a distinguishing characteristic they had which separated them from even the Arab pagans themselves, and due to which Allah reminded them of the greater responsibility that they had with respect to accepting the truth that Muhammad ﷺ brought.
Section Six: Moral reformation
o There is also the claim of the Qur’an having been fabricated in order to achieve a moral reformation of society. But this is also something impossible to consider, since the very act of lying in order to achieve moral reformation is paradoxical. Besides, the Qur’an informs us that if Muhammad ﷺ were to invent something against Allah, Allah would have ended the Prophet’s ﷺ life, and no one could have prevented this from occurring. We have to note the tone of this declaration, since the Prophet ﷺ is actually Allah’s beloved (Habeeb al-Allah), but in order to refute this claim of the deniers, the Qur’an adopts such a tone.
o In fact, and Allah knows best, it is a threat directed towards the deniers, not to the Prophet ﷺ, since he ﷺ is pure and protected from all evils, while the disbelievers are only inviting punishment on themselves with their attitude, since they are denying what is extremely obvious and ‘attributing the impossible’ to the Prophet ﷺ – so the strong language is concomitant with the ugliness of what the disbelievers are saying.
o And there is also the natural fear that, if he ﷺ were to be found out at some point, then his entire endeavor would have collapsed right then and there. We also see that, especially with regards to the conveying of the message, there was absolutely no toleration for compromise and the like, so how can wholesale lying be attributed to the Prophet ﷺ?
o As an aside, we see that the Bible does contain a certain passage from Paul trying to diminish the severity of lying, if it is done for the sake of instruction; thus, any Christian who brings up this charge against us needs to do some serious soul-searching as to what his objectives really are, and why is he attacking Islam on this point without any evidence.
o The author in here brings out Verse 5:101 (which mentions in translation: ‘…if you ask about things when the Qur’an is being revealed they will be made plain to you…’) and says that this is a challenge for people to ask whatever questions they wanted, and Allah would reveal the answer to the Prophet ﷺ. But I am not sure whether this is the proper interpretation of this Verse, given that it seems to go against the reason for revelation mentioned in a number of the Tafaaseer. However what we see in Verse 25:33 seems to be more in line with the general purport of brother Njozi, as it is referring to Allah’s answers to any importune or rude argument of the disbelievers.
o The brother also points to the fact that there were instances when Allah would inform the Prophet ﷺ of the better course to have taken with respect to some of the deeds he committed, and this is also against the moral rectification theory; from my side, I cannot say that this is a particularly strong point in here, since the opponent might bring up the argument that the fabricator might refer to God correcting him in certain places in order to fulfill his requirement. But perhaps there is something I missed in the author’s train of thought (perhaps related to how someone who is ‘fabricating’ things would not want to seem to be corrected by God after a saying or action of his that is known to have happened; and also, which actions would he choose for rectification and which ones would he leave out?), and Allah knows best.
o We also see, very crucially, that mere moral reformation cannot be said to be the ‘central concern’ of the Qur’an. The author points to the fact that there are so many Verses concerning the study of nature, or of different historical places, etc., so that those who behold such places may deduce lessons from it.
o But of course, the main theme in the Qur’an is that we should submit totally to Allah the Exalted by following all that He has revealed and inspired to the Prophet ﷺ, and the morality is simply a by-product of this total obedience that one should show towards Allah and His Messenger.
o And if we consider this theory of conscious fabrication in its various aspects, we see that it totally contradicts what was known of the Prophet’s ﷺ character, even before his Prophethood, when he was known as al-Ameen (the trustworthy one). And even during the time of greatest persecution, when the disbelievers plotted to kill him outright, the pagans would still leave with him their valuable possessions, since in their hearts they knew he was honest and would not cheat them, in spite of all the bad things they would say to him in public.
o One interesting way in which this is presented is that it was as if the Prophet ﷺ told them: ‘You want to kill me, and yet you want me to safeguard your goods? Fine, no problem. This shows his magnanimity of character, since it is basically unthinkable for anyone to do such things for one’s bitter enemies.
o Anyway, what we see in the conglomeration of all these points is that, as far as the human qualities of the Prophet ﷺ can be discerned, there is absolutely nothing that can be ascribed to him as a blemish. That is, if one were to do a checklist of how the Prophet ﷺ was both before and after Prophethood, he would see that he was trustworthy (not deceitful), truthful (not a liar), of simple living (not avaricious), not power-hungry (since he never sought kingship and rejected it when offered to him), not a poet before or after his call (so that it may be said that he honed his art with more practice), and so on – it is also important to note that the Prophet ﷺ was illiterate, and this was in fact another added strength, since it naturally repelled the charge that he compiled things from many different sources; and this is an important consideration later on. Of course, the doubter will always come up with this and that theory, or perhaps he will say that there has been a very good ‘hiding mechanism’ for Muhammad’s ﷺ or from the side of the Muslim nation, but without concrete evidence, any and all such theories have no basis at all.
Section Seven: Unconscious Fabrication
o Seeing that the theory of conscious fabrication is flawed, certain Orientalists have forwarded the theory that the Qur’an, and all of Islam in general, was the product of unconscious fabrication. Such non-Muslims stick to certain phrases found in some Ahaadeeth, such as the narration where it is mentioned that even on cold days, drops of sweat would come down from the Prophet’s ﷺ forehead after he had received revelation, or the Hadeeth already mentioned about the Prophet ﷺ going to his house and his wife after the first revelation had descended upon him.
o Thus, a number of non-Muslims take the situation to be that the Prophet ﷺ suffered from epileptic seizures; others say that he pretended to receive revelation in order to explain way the first epileptic seizure, or that he pretended to suffer from epilepsy in order to fool every one.
o Before getting to the author’s views on this, what happens here is that there is only some general agreement concerning ‘epilepsy’ in the saying of these non-Muslims, but they cannot even agree as to whether it was true epilepsy or only the appearance of epilepsy, and so on and so forth.
o But the thing in here is that if we take it to be only an appearance of epilepsy, still there is an element of conscious fabrication. If we take the view that there was a claim to revelation after the first epileptic stroke, there is still conscious fabrication again, and it would not explain how the whole Qur’an came from Muhammad ﷺ through epileptic seizures, since there were many instances of revelation over many years, not only a few instances so that such a theory can even be thought of as credible. And if it is said that there was the claim of revelation along with many attacks of epilepsy, there is both an element of deceit plus the element of epilepsy, which we will discuss below.
o Another issue is that, for example, the drops of sweat flowing from the Prophet’s ﷺ forehead do not really show that he was a sufferer of epilepsy or any other similar illness; for even if we assume that this is a symptom of epilepsy (and that is a big if, and is unfounded as far I can tell), it seems that our opponents have ruled out anything other than natural possibilities or explanations in this regard.
o There may be something that could be forwarded based on certain narrations which mention that the Prophet’s ﷺ breathing stopped for some time while he was receiving revelation, and this is construed by our opponents as a symptom of epilepsy, but this is again a very strange and quick rush to judgment. Even if we were discussing only natural explanations if this phenomenon where to occur to anyone, the doctors would first rule out all other possibilities and possible diseases and conditions before saying that the patient probably has epilepsy – so how did our opponents rush to judgment so quickly? This is something we have to wonder about.
o And there are still other non-Muslims who forward what is called the ‘religious illusion theory’ by means of which a deeply religious person experiences ‘mystical inspirations or visions’ and due to these he truly believes that he has received direct revelations from the Divine, while the truth of the matter is otherwise.
o But from my side at least, it is very strange that this hypothesis would be forwarded by believing Christians, Jews, etc., when (if an atheist or agnostic were to consider the issue in the same vein) there would then be only natural explanations for any and all Prophets and Messengers of Allah, and all revelation would be rendered as false. But obviously, the Jew or Christian does believe in his Prophets and Messenger, so the issue then becomes on what basis does he reject some Prophets and accept others (i.e. what is his definition of a miracle establishing Prophethood in general, and what is his definition of Prophethood to begin with). I also believe that the same can be applied to other ‘religious people’ such as Hindus or Buddhists (even though many strands of these religions are not theistic per se, and our questions and investigation would have to be modified accordingly).
o There are two statements by the non-Muslims quoted in brother Njozi’s book which I think are of importance to discuss. First is one saying of the non-Muslim saying that Muhammad ﷺ could easily fool his countrymen, since they were quite ignorant to begin with, and the other saying inferring that the Prophet ﷺ thought or felt that the Day of Judgment was extremely close at hand, and thus needed to urgently tell his people about his concern (and that in this way, the ‘mystic experience’ became a type of ‘self-delusion’).
o But in this first case (statement), I wonder how much the non-Muslim actually knew with regards to the pagan Arab society; because if there was one thing the pagan Arabs were not, it was ignorant with regards to the Prophet’s ﷺ life. Nor were they ignorant with regards to the ways that people try to fool one another (they were after all traders and businessmen); in fact the disbelievers always tried to find the ‘natural’ causes for the revelations of Islam; so these disbelieving pagans were not sitting idle with their hands crossed, only waiting to be fooled by Muhammad ﷺ – May Allah protect us from harboring such thoughts.
o Now, in the second case, it cannot be said that a general feeling of the closeness of the Judgment Day is enough to give rise to the Qur’an. Again, at least to me, this seems to mix the ‘mystical illusion’ with the ‘conscious fabrication’ theory, and the latter angle seems to be stronger in here… for the simple fact that if someone has a deep feeling that the Day of Judgment is just about to come and composes Verses in this vein, what will he do if the Day of Judgment does not come? It is obvious that he will have to compose something new in order to explain away his first failed prophecy, while in the Qur’an we do not find anything of the sort, of forwarding and then backtracking on this matter. In fact, what we is that the Prophet ﷺ did not give any specific date for the coming of the Judgment Day, even while telling everyone that it was close at hand.
o There is, additionally, the charge that the Qur’an, while not being consciously fabricated, was nonetheless brought about by a` process of unconscious fraud; another quote by a non-Muslim is that the Qur’an was the product of abnormal states produced by the Prophet ﷺ due to his love for seclusion and und night prayer. And yet another theory is that the Qur’an is basically the unconscious recreation of his ﷺ past experiences, which the Prophet ﷺ had mistakenly appropriated as a revelation from Allah to mankind.
o So the unconscious fabrication theories basically say that the Prophet ﷺ composed the Qur’an despite himself, whether it was the product of epilepsy, religious illusions, or of the subconscious mind, and each one will be discussed further in length below in its separate section.
Section Eight: The Epileptic Theory
o The first of these ‘unconscious theories’ is the epileptic theory. We need to first understand what epilepsy is characterized by before saying anything about its possible existence within a certain individual. We see then, that one type of epilepsy (grand mal) is characterized by sudden unconsciousness, stiffening of the body, jerky movements, possible biting of one’s tongue, and no recollection of what happened during these convulsions; but it is clear that the instances of revelation are not at all connected with this set of symptoms, since these would have to occur more or less together, and reports of such a conglomeration of states overcoming the Prophet ﷺ are simply lacking.
o Another type of epilepsy is petit mal, where the sufferer may have momentary lapses of awareness and does not lose consciousness; however, this also has nothing to do with the episodes of revelation, since these lasted for several minutes and never went unnoticed. (Besides, the start of the incidence for this type of epilepsy is normally before the age of 20 years, and we know that revelation started when the Prophet ﷺ was 40 years of age.)
o Another type of epilepsy is characterized by what is termed as psychomotor/focal seizures. There is something in the description of this type of seizure that may need to be discussed and that is the mention of possible ringing in the ears of part of their ‘auras’, before the onset of the epileptic seizure; some non-Muslims may take this to mean that there were indeed symptoms of epilepsy on the Prophet ﷺ, only that we are trying to hide the full story.
o But we answer by saying that here also, if we examine the totality of the information concerning this type of epileptic seizure, we see that they do not tally at all with what the revelation to the Prophet ﷺ consisted of. For in these types of seizures, many of the same abnormal and violent actions are present in the sufferer. This ‘ringing’ sensation is part of the ‘aura’, but it does not mean that there is no violence, jerking, convulsions, and so forth after this ‘aura’ has elapsed – so it seems very clear that this allegation of ‘ringing’ has no true basis in here when connected to revelation. Besides, what the non-Muslim objector is highlighting are the symptoms of this or that type of epilepsy (without really caring which type it is exactly) then we have to mention that this sort of epilepsy is also not at all applicable to the Prophet ﷺ, nor are the signs of revelation to be compared to the symptoms of this sickness.
o We also need to consider that, at the end of the day, epilepsy is a disease that greatly impairs one’s ability to move, to speak, or to possess proper mental control over one’s self. It is very strange that the screams and shouts of an epileptic person would be placed side-by-side with the Qur’anic revelation, since their difference is enormous, like the difference between the Heavens and the Earth.
o We also have to consider that epilepsy was well-known to the Muslims during the Prophet’s ﷺ time and afterwards as well. I do not know why there is this tendency among Orientalists to suppose that Arabs at that time knew absolutely nothing, had no concept of history, etc., for we know the facts (from our reading of the Ahaadeeth) to be quite different.
o For otherwise, how would we have the Hadeeth mentioning the epileptic lady who came to the Prophet ﷺ and he instructed her to have patience in order to enter Paradise? So people should keep all of these points in mind and not rush to any judgments in this respect.
o There is one important thing we need to remember also, which is that in Islamic belief, we learn that Prophets are always protected from diseases and ailments that would naturally turn people away from them, the reason being that Allah has chosen these elect souls to led people to him. Thus, a disease such as epilepsy, with its violent jerking, shouting, screaming, and so forth would do nothing but turn at least some people away from the sufferer (out of a natural fright at beholding such a sight). So these and other similar diseases are totally impossible to attribute to Prophets, plain and simple.
o And we should remember that this high respect for Prophets and Messengers is unheard of in other religious beliefs. In Christianity and Judaism, the one termed as a ‘Prophet’ may do a whole range of immoral and filthy acts, the explanation from their side being that we should understand that Prophets are also human beings with the whole repertoire of human flaws (though the whole purpose of Allah supporting them with miracles would be superfluous, since the miracle basically stands in place of Allah saying: ‘This man speaks the truth about Me, believe him’. So yes, we believe that the Prophets (AS) may suffer pain, hunger, and obviously death as well, but these sorts of immoral actions and frightening diseases have been supernaturally excluded from their countenance.
Section Nine: The Religious Illusion Theory
o The author mentions that the ‘religious illusion’ and the ‘subconscious generation’ theory are more or less the same, so they will be treated as one. The common thread among these theories is that, unbeknown to the Prophet ﷺ, the whole of the Qur’an came forth from the Prophet’s ﷺ own knowledge and past experiences. The difficulty in here is that many of the statements in the Qur’an could not have possibly come from his ﷺ subconscious, since they dealt with historical events and future occurrences, while a spontaneous subconscious generation does not deal with such issues; psychological considerations also militate against this ‘illusion theory’.
o One of the examples to buttress our Muslim position in this regard can be shown through considering the cause of revelation of Chapter #18 (Al-Kahf: The Cave). The pagan Qurayshites had sent emissaries to the Jewish scholars in Madeenah and these scholars said that the way to test his ﷺ claim of Prophethood was to question him with respect to three things: About the Ruh (soul), about the sleepers of the Cave, and about the story of Dhul-Qarnayn. Apparently, there is another version of these events which swaps the question on the Ruh with a question concerning Khidhr (AS), and this is in fact the version mentioned by the author, but for the case of this discussion, the variance of this one question is not hugely important.
o What is mentioned is that instead of the relevant questions being answered the next day, the Prophet ﷺ had to wait fifteen days, since he had not said ‘Insha Allah’ (if Allah wills) when telling the disbelieving pagans when the answers would be given to them. We see in here a subtle point, in that this delay was in fact a strength, since it showed that the Qur’an came to the Prophet not from himself but from another ‘source’, and could not have possibly been composed by him – either consciously or subconsciously …for why would he wait so long if he was fabricating the Qur’an himself?
o We also see that since these were specific questions, it is difficult to see how religious illusions/hallucinations, or even the subconscious mind, could have come up with the answer (different facets of this are mentioned, such as the difference between 300 solar and 309 lunar years, which is pointed to in Verse 18:25, and that this cannot at all be the product of the subconscious mind).
o The author says that another example is that of the ‘city of Iram’, mentioned in Surah al-Fajr. He says that different interpretations had been forwarded about the identity of Iram, and only recently was it discovered that Iram was actually a city.
o But I think this conclusion has to be treated with caution, since grammatically there is a direct linkage between Iram and the tribe of ‘Ad, and most of the commentators have taken Iram to refer to the great-grandfather of the ‘Ad tribe – specifically the first of the ‘Ad tribes; so we would have to ask the ‘Ulama whether the ascription of Iram as a city is warranted. However, if we were to suppose that this ascription turns out to be possible, it would be very difficult to see how the Prophet’s ﷺ subconscious could have come up with this information regarding a city that was destroyed 3 millennia before his birth.
o Another point is that certain Verses (such as Verse 11:49) articulate the fact that neither Muhammad ﷺ nor his people knew about some of the stories mentioned in the Qur’an before they were revealed to him.
o In here, the issue is that if the Prophet ﷺ had somehow either been faking ignorance or emanating the stories from his subconscious, there was no way to know whether others from among his contemporaries had in fact knowledge of these stories and people mentioned in the Qur’an. Additionally, it is normally not within the ambit of human risks to wager the entire religion on the chance that no one truly knew about certain stories in the Qur’an – the risks would seem to be enormously greater than the benefits (from a materialist perspective only).
o We also see that the Qur’an made a number of statements regarding future occurrences, and it is difficult to see how prophecies that do come to pass have anything to do with the subconscious. This is because the subconscious normally deals with the present moment, and even if there is any hint of prophecy, this would be so vague so as to not have much practical use as a ‘prophecy’ in the normal sense of the word.
o Now, with regards to the specific prophecies, the author mentions the famous examples of the Romans defeating the Persians as foretold in Verses 30:1-7. And there are other prophecies as well, such as:
o 1) Verse 54:45 mentions the pagan Arabs running away from the battlefield, even though this Verse was reveled in Makkah and Jihad was not even possible at that time, but the truth of this came to pass on the Day of Badr.
o 2) Verses 44:10-16, which have been taken by a number of interpreters as referring to a great famine that befell the people of Makkah when they stubbornly refused to heed the call of the Prophet ﷺ.
o 3) The Chapter of al-Masad is also important in this respect, since it is a proof that Abu Lahab was supernaturally prevented from proclaiming the truth of Islam; that is, a contingently possible event was announced to be impossible by revelation, and the truth of this came to pass as mentioned in the Qur’an.
o Abu Lahab then, did not even pretend to believe, and we have to note that even showing the outward signs of belief (even if one is internally pretending) is normally taken as a formal admission into the faith so long as the dissimulation is not discovered. But in the case of Abu Lahab, there was neither a sincere or a dissimulate show of belief whatsoever. There are other similar examples like this as well in (for example) Surah al-Kawthar, about the severing of the remembrance of the Prophet’s ﷺ enemies, when they taunted him ﷺ about his being without a son.
o 5) There are certain Verses, such as what we see in Surah al-Baqarah, Aal-Imran, and al-Jumuah, where it is definitely said that the Jews and Christians will not be able to respond to certain challenges posed to them regarding the truth of their claims [either by invocation of death or curses upon themselves if they are not truthful]. It is obvious from the Seerah of the Prophet ﷺand the Tafseer of these Verses that such prophecies did indeed come to pass (i.e. the Jews and Christians declined to supplicate curses and/or death to fall upon them if they were untruthful.)
o 6) Surah al-Fath contains many prophecies, the most important being that the signing of the Hudaybiyya accord was a great triumph for Islam, this at a time when the treaty seemed to be stacked totally against the Muslims. Other things that came to pass, such as the Muslims entering the Haram of Makkah in peace, and their acquiring victories and spoils in lands far and wide, are also mentioned in the Chapter.
o 7) Verse 9:83 has also been mentioned as a type of prophecy, where the hypocrites were informed that, due to their recalcitrant ways, they would never be allowed to go to the battlefield with the Prophet ﷺ, and this came to pass as per the statement in this Verse. Note that in here, the prophecy is not just about one person (as in the case of Abu Lahab), but is about a whole group of people, and yet the hypocrites were supernaturally incapacitated from joining the ranks of the Muslim armies headed by the Prophet ﷺ after the revelation of this Verse. (Of course, there is also the dimension of this being a punishment, but the two matters (punishment and prophecy) do not contradict one another).
o The author also mentions Waleed bin al-Mugheera and the prophecy surrounding him in Verse 68:10-16, of his nose being struck/branded, and that this occurred to him during the Battle of Badr; I am not so certain about this last ‘prophecy’, since in many of the Tafaaseer, the accent seems to be on what will happen to Waleed (and other disbelievers similar to him) on the Day of Judgment.
o And one more point about this particular issue is that there is no backtracking in the Qur’an regarding any of the prophecies one reads, and that is because there was simply no need to do a backtracking, but rather all the prophecies became fulfilled one after the other.
o We also see that there are psychological considerations undermining the ‘subconscious theory’. As we know, the subconscious mind naturally attributes to others any incriminating feelings, and yet we see that the Qur’an in some places corrects some of the Prophet’s ﷺ actions.
o This is clearly seen in Surah #80 (Surah Abasa – He Frowned) which points to an incident referring to the Prophet’s ﷺ turning away from Ibn Umm Maktum (RAA) when the latter interrupted a speech he ﷺ was delivering to the dignitaries of the Quraysh.
o Another example concerns the release, in return for ransom, of seventy prisoners from the Battle of Badr, referred to in Verses 8:67-68. This was an option that many Companions had chosen and which the Prophet ﷺ had accepted as the course of action. (Note that here, we are talking about a route of action that was legally permitted at that time, so it cannot at all be called a ‘sin’, only that when the full legislation was made known to the Prophet ﷺ, what had happened in that previous case was that the better option was taken and the best option was not followed for that specific matter.)
o We also see the case of Verse 9:43, where the Prophet ﷺ is given grace for having allowed certain hypocrites to march along with the main Muslim army – but note how much Allah the Exalted held Muhammad ﷺ in His Divine Love, that He granted him ﷺ forgiveness and grace even before mentioning what the issue was.
o The author also mentions that the Verses of punishment and mercy are generally side-by-side in the Qur’an, while common human sensibilities would require anger to subside only after the elapsing of some time (i.e. if the Prophet ﷺ was writing from his subconscious, the anger would not have dissipated so soon as to be able to make an effective contrast between punishments and rewards in such a short space of time, in many occasions occurring within the same Verse.)
o Another case is with respect to the issue of al-Ifk (the accusation of unchastity leveled against the Prophet’s ﷺ wife Ayesha (RAA)). The Prophet ﷺ was quite disturbed about this rumor but remained silent until revelation came clearing Ayesha (RAA) and blaming the hypocrites for having made up this story; we know that if it was something from the subconscious, it would not have taken so much time in coming (i.e. about a month), and if it was a totally conscious fabrication, it would not have provided mental/spiritual relief to the Prophet ﷺ.
o Besides, how would the Prophet ﷺ know with absolute certainty that this rumor was a total lie, and that some incriminating evidence (now not only against his wife, but against him ﷺ also), would not have come up later? This is something that needs to be considered carefully by those who tout the various “theories of the Qur’an” left and right.
o The author also mention about the Treaty of Hudaybiyya, and that the rationale for the signing of this Treaty was only known after the Prophet ﷺ had received the revelation in this regard, as before that it seemed like a big defeat for the cause of Islam (if taken only in a materialistic vein, but no one would say that any of the actions of the Prophet ﷺ were ‘self-defeating’, or anything of the sort).
o Another big hole in the subconscious (and even in the ‘conscious’ theory) is that there are a very large number of sayings of the Prophet ﷺ other than the Qur’an [if we consider the matter carefully, there are hundreds of thousands of Ahadeeth attributed to the Prophet ﷺ, whether authentic, weak, or fabricated]. And it is impossible that the human being can keep everything allocated in his mind is separate compartments, with regards to which ‘type’ of speech or writing he must use in which occasion. This is why today we have slips in the emails we send to people, and sometimes we call someone and start speaking to them as if they were someone else, because even a small amount of carelessness sometimes has visible consequences.
o This matter of occasional and small slips is also why handwriting experts can detect attempts at forging other people’s writings, and why these types of forgeries can be detected in literature and art works. But if we compare the Ahaadeeth of the Prophet ﷺ with the Qur’an, we notice a marked difference, even while acknowledging the very good mode of speech of the Prophet ﷺ.
o A non-Muslim author also notes that even the conquest of Makkah, which was the high point and the total victory of Muhammad ﷺ over his opponents is not explicitly mentioned in the Quran with its separate name, date, etc. (though there are some hints of this event in the Qur’an, but they are in need of interpretations in order to properly correlate them with the conquest of Makkah). The issue in here is that, if the Qur’an was really coming from the Prophet ﷺ either consciously or subconsciously, there is no way that the Qur’an could have but been filled with allusions to this event. Or even in the early Makkan period, while he was going through great tribulations, the Qur’an does not mention anything to the level and volume that one would expect from the mind of someone going through huge amounts of persecution.
Section Ten: From the Jewish and Christian sources
o The previous few sections were concerning the allegation that the Prophet ﷺ himself composed the Qur’an. Now, we turn to the theory that the Prophet ﷺ was not the original redactor, but only a collector of disparate Jewish and/or Christian source materials.
o This is, of course, a famous charge against the Qur’an. A number of non-Muslim authors say that some of the pointers towards this being the case are that there were paintings allegedly of ‘Isa and Maryam (AS) on the inner walls of the Ka’bah, certain of the stories about ‘Isa (AS) find indirect parallels in the Bible, and the relationships of famous Biblical personalities are confused – suggesting second-hand information gathering (i.e. Talmudic sources and apocryphal gospels). It is further said that this discrepancy was due to the lack of proper Christian centers in the Hijaaz.
o Another non-Muslim author says that the theory of wholesale borrowing is not warranted, since there is a lot of redaction, editing, and change, so that (in their view) the hand of Muhammad ﷺ is very clearly involved.
o It is also proposed that the Prophet ﷺ was in fact working on third-hand oral sources and that his knowledge of the Biblical-based stories was acquired only gradually. One of the non-Muslims says that the Prophet ﷺ was in fact quite frank about borrowing from such Jewish and Christian sources, even though such sources were defective (i.e., not actual ‘Biblical’ sources, but rather whatever source was available to him ﷺ).
o Another point of contention is that the way in which the “Trinity” is presented in the Qur’an is at odds with formal Christianity, suggesting (to such authors) that the Prophet ﷺ never had a proper hold of Christian dogma.
o Additionally, some of the non-Muslims see a link between Makkah and the trading caravans from Syria, Yemen, etc. [in the sense that with conversation with traders from different lands, many things could be learned of their folk knowledge and their religious traditions]. They also make a big issue of the existence of Hanifs (pre-Islamic monotheists), assuming that the Prophet ﷺ was in direct and sustained contact with such people before his Prophetic call.
o The gist of the argument is that Christian and Jewish legends (connected only indirectly to the Old and New Testaments) were the main sources of the Qur’an, and that these were put together and modified in order to conform to his ﷺ ambience.
o But it is obvious that the above is simply a subsection of the ‘conscious fabrication’ theory, and the weaknesses of this theory have already been shown. And, very crucially, there is the issue of illiteracy, since it is impossible for a person to compile, add, subtract, and improvise based on all the writings he has brought together without the aid of pen and paper. By the way, note that paper was scarce in the Hijaaz area, which is why the oral transmission of information was stressed upon. But it cannot be said that oral transmission and memory is enough to do all the compilation, addition, subtraction, etc., that is needed in the ‘Judeo-Christian borrowing’ theory.
o Now, we should note that the pagan Arabs did at one point say that the Qur’an had been picked up by Muhammad ﷺ from a Roman blacksmith, but this was a totally false assertion, since the Arabic in the Qur’an is of the highest rank, miraculous in fact, while the person they were referring to was an ‘A’jami (non-Arab) and the natural impossibility to compose the Arabic Qur’an was even more impossible for him than for the generality or experts among the Arabs.
o With respect to meeting Haneefs, we see that the Haneef group was very small and decentralized, so there was no way that ‘scriptures’ (as we understand them) could have issued forth from this group. With regards to the Christians, they were also a small group in Makkah, and the Prophet ﷺ only saw a few Christians a very limited number of times. He ﷺ did not go to the southern Arabian city of Najran ever during his blessed life (this city is mentioned since it had a larger proportion of Christians), nor did he frequently visit Madeenah in order to learn from the Jewish rabbis – in fact, what is mentioned is that the Prophet ﷺ only made 3 trips outside of Makkah before his Prophethood.
o Besides, such meetings (whether in Makkah or in Madeenah) would have never gone unnoticed, since the enemies of Islam always tried to undermine the Prophet ﷺ [just as they do today], and had they witnessed any meeting, they would have definitely publicized it to the utmost.
o Some non-Muslim academics also talk of meetings that the Prophet ﷺ had with Christian or Jewish religious leaders; but this is an irrelevant aside from their part, since these meetings took place in Madeenah [after two-thirds or more of the Qur’an had already been revealed], and in these cases, the Prophet ﷺ was definitely not ‘learning’ anything from them, but he was rather the supreme teacher, inviting them to embrace Islam and correcting their wrong beliefs.
o One important note: Prophets (AS) never learn religious matters from normal religious leaders, since the teacher of all Prophets (AS) is Allah the Exalted Himself. The mode of this is that Allah sends angels to reveal the truth to the Prophets, and they truthfully transmit this revelation to the masses – it is improper in Islam to say that any Prophet (AS) would learn anything from a normal teacher; from another Prophet yes, but not just from any monk or teacher. So this is something we really must keep in mind, and we can even challenge the non-Muslims by saying that there is no instance of the Prophet ﷺ learning religion from any rabbi or priest, and that the non-Muslims cannot find any instance of such a thing in any of the history books.
o And one additional point about the ‘Trinity’ that I want to say, is that the Qur’an is dealing with the people’s belief as it comes; and this is done regardless of the ‘Orthodox councils’ or anything of that sort, since it may very well be possible that the formal religious centers decree one course of action with regards to belief or practice, while the generality of people follow another course only tangentially related to the formal religion, while referring to themselves as Christians, Jews, etc. And we should also note that the Qur’an does not say that formal Christian dogma consists in considering Maryam (AS) as part of the Trinity, but rather reprimands those who hold on to Maryam (AS) as a type of goddess.
o And from what we know, the cult of the goddess was well-established in certain parts of the world at that time, so it is definitely possible, even without recourse to the Qur’an, to see that many people may have kept their previous associations to their goddesses and only appropriated the name of Maryam (AS) with regards to such goddess-worship. (One interesting thing I happened to read some time back was the reference to the attempt of a formal Catholic priest to attach Maryam (AS) to the ‘Holy Spirit’ as a co-person within this ‘third person’ of the Trinity. So we cannot discard the possibility of such “goddess-making” to become more formalized within the orthodoxy of Christian beliefs).
o This is not the place to enter into a long discussion concerning this matter, but we see that the introduction of Christianity within a certain culture often had to make use of such stratagems, where the earlier gods and idols were transformed into saints and protectors of the nation so as to ameliorate the transition from ‘paganism’ to ‘Christianity’. A number of studies have been conducted concerning this phenomenon, and whoever doubts what I am saying can refer to such works and publications.
o A subtle point is mentioned by Dr. Jamal Badawi and that is, that scholars of the highest philosophical and intellectual caliber have failed for centuries to make up a ‘divinely-based’ religion like Islam, so how does it occur to people that which some chit-chatting, Muhammad ﷺ would be able to ‘make up’ a religion in such a short span of time, and to be granted victory from what seemed like utter defeat within about a third of his lifetime? Yes, we can say that perhaps this is not a definite ‘proof’ in the strict sense of the term, but it is something that those who try to give greatly simplified reasons for the emergence of Islam should consider.
o Now, some of the important points that we can consider in here as a rebuttal to all of these assertions are: First, even the severest critics of the Prophet ﷺ speak in vague generalizations concerning whom they believe to have been the source (i.e. the teachers) from whom the Prophet ﷺ allegedly took all of his information. If we were to say that there were many disparate sources, this would only add to the pool of routes through which the so-called ‘fabrication’ could be proven. But yet, hard evidence is lacking. We have to consider that even during the Makkan period, the disbelievers were unable to find out who were the alleged teachers of the Prophet ﷺ. This reached such a stage that some of the people who initially accused him of copying from others later changed their minds and accused him instead of insanity, playing magic on people, etc.
o Second, we know that the very nature of life in the Arab world is geared towards finding out and knowing all the important affairs of a person’s life, and most of the times with a lot of detail. If the close friends and relatives of the Prophet ﷺ believed in him while also knowing all the details of his private and public life very well, it means that they absolutely did not see any hint of him ﷺ trying to learn from teachers, etc., and never saw any teachers (priests, rabbis, etc.) entering the home of the Prophet ﷺ. Besides, as the Prophet’s ﷺ life progressed and the religion of Islam became all the more established, it would become only more and more difficult for him ﷺ to ‘slip away’ in order to procure teachings from Jewish, Christian, or other scholars.
o Third, we also see the psychological aspect, in that any human teacher(s) would not have remained quiet if their student would start attributing to himself what was in fact ‘property’ of the teachers. It is simply not possible that, for example, the Jewish scholars, with all their enmity towards Islam, would not try everything within their ability to find out the ‘human source’ for what the non-Muslim ‘scholars’ of today claim to be legends from the Talmud and the Haggadah. Do the non-Muslims today think that the Jews of that time did not think about this possibility and did not know how to proceed in proving their assertion, if they could have done so? This is something that again has to be kept in mind.
o Fourth, another point is that there were Jews and Christians who converted to Islam during the Prophet’s ﷺ time, and it would be difficult for them to have done so if they knew that he ﷺ was slipping into their neighborhoods in order to copy from their sources or learn from their teachers.
o The final point is important, in that sometimes the revelation would descend on him ﷺ in front of his followers and relatives, so it is basically impossible to say that some human being (teacher or not) gave rise to the physical states that the Prophet’s ﷺ followers saw on him while he was receiving revelation.
o And in here I am also including the physically discernable weight that the Companions felt if they were leaning or touching the Prophet ﷺ whenever revelation happened to descend on him ﷺ. This obviously has nothing to do with teachers, and cannot be reproduced by anyone trying to fake revelation or those who might actually be hearing voices or regurgitating what they have stored in their subconscious.
Section Eleven: The Problem of Parallels
o Before I begin with the author’s presentation in this respect, I want to say that ‘parallels’ were basically available to everyone on more or less the same basis. For example, all the people knew that God was One (even if they worshipped idols), the people knew about the existence of Ibrahim, Musa, ‘Isa (AS), they could compose works in Arabic, and so forth. So it is obvious that the ‘parallel source material’ was vaguely present, but this is not enough to provide concrete evidence of ‘copying’.
o In fact, according to the rules of Islamic epistemology, the only possible way to (hypothetically) oppose our narrative is to have full transmissional reports indicating that the Prophet ﷺ actually took his teachings from this or that person – and these should be of a large enough number, what is termed as ‘consecutive oral transmission’.
o For, coincidences with certain texts written in dialects and languages of ancient Arabia with the Qur’an can never be taken as sufficient evidence of direct copying, since these coincidences are at best ‘conjectural’ pieces of information, and cannot give any certainty about this matter. Besides, it is like saying that since the Qur’an is in Arabic, and everyone knew Arabic in the Hijaaz, the only possible ‘cause of the Qur’an’ is the collective effort of the people – this is a tautological hypothesis to the core, and is not something that a serious truth-seeker would promote as a ‘theory’.
o (Considering again what we said before, in such a case, there would be absolutely no consideration of divine revelation for any of the Holy Books (i.e. Tawrah, Injeel, etc.), since the skeptic would say they were simply copied from earlier texts and legends, and I am sure that some sort of correlation could be found between the language and content of earlier Holy Books and texts that preceded it – so we have to keep in mind what is it really that the skeptic is looking for, and whether he is honest with himself and with his audience).
o Now, the author says that according to non-Muslim scholars, the Qur’an has parallels with the Bible, and thus the charge of copying and modifying the source material is the correct assumption. This has been dealt with in previous sections, but brother Njozi says that we must keep the following points in perspective:
o First, we have Muhammad’s ﷺstatement that the Qur’an came from Allah, and we have seen the weakness of the different ‘conscious’ and ‘subconscious’ reasons provided for the Qur’an’s ‘appearance’. Secondly, we know that Muhammad ﷺ was illiterate, and what difficulties this truth presents have also been discussed before.
o Thirdly, there was no Arabic translation of the books of the Bible except after many centuries following the Prophet’s ﷺ passing from this world. So even if he ﷺwas literate and wished to collect everything and collate it, modify it, etc. this was simply not possible during his time, due to the lack of formal written sources from which he could take his material.
o Fourthly, (only in the logical consideration) it could very well be that the source of both the texts is one; and this is what the Qur’an is saying when it mentions the Tawrah, the Zabuur, the Injeel – changes have occurred in these books (and sometimes the books that go by the same name today have really very little in common with the text the Qur’an is referring to), but we acknowledge that the source is one, and thus there will be certain similarities between the texts in a number of places.
o A fifth point is that the similarities between the Qur’an and the Judeo-Christian writings are secondary considerations when a serious study is made of both texts, and the basic differences are too obvious to ignore.
o To start off, the Bible is a collection of dozens of books written by tens of authors, mixing divine commandments and exhortations with obvious human commentaries. (This would be like having the text of the Qur’an admixed with the Ahaadeeth, and this is unthinkable in terms of preserving the Qur’an, but this is the reality of how the Bible is when we read it).
o Also, we see that the ‘Four Gospels’ are in fact not the Injeel mentioned in the Qur’an, as the Injeel was the revelation given to ‘Isa (AS), and the ‘Four Gospels’ are the supposed collection of stories about the life of ‘Isa (AS) written after ‘Isa’s (AS) departure… they are a type of Seerah. Again, in Islam the Qur’an is one text, the Seerah is something completely different, and one can never collect the original Qur’an in totality from a reading of the Seerah, even if he reads and collects every single Seerah work that he can find.
o And the same goes with the Ahaadeeth, one may get bits and pieces from the Qur’an by referring to the Ahaadeeth, but never the complete Qur’an, even if the full load of 700 thousand or a million Ahaadeeth (including authentic, weak, fabricated, singular, and repeated narrations) are brought together. It is from these types of considerations that we know that the Judeo-Christian project of Torah or Injeel ‘preservation’ is simply doomed to failure from the very start.
o Another point is that the books of the Bible were written over many centuries, in different dialects and languages, without the aid of a centralized and formal teaching apparatus during the entire duration of the ‘Bible-writing process’. And of course, it could not have been otherwise, since the Jews and Christians, during large portions of their formative years, were under constant persecution, or were living under periods of sustained political instability, etc., inhibiting the chance that a formal teaching network could properly flourish. Note that ‘secret teaching done during persecution’ is admirable in the abstract, but it has very many difficulties when carried over for long-term application in the ‘real world’. Anyway, the Qur’an was revealed in one language within one lifetime and it was collected and started to be taught within the Prophet’s ﷺ very own time, so it is difficult to see how the two texts are similar in this respect.
o The last point mentioned is that the decision as to which books should be included in the Bible is a process that still has not been resolved amongst many churches and organizations of Judeo-Christianity. This is why every day we hear of a new ‘reform’ movement in Jewish and Christian circles, each one retranslating and reinterpreting the Bible according to their own inclinations. It is clear that this points to a total breakdown in the abstract importance given to the Bible in the minds of such Jews and Christians.
o In comparison, the text of the Qur’an has been passed down by so many students of the Qur’an from the Prophet’s ﷺ time up to now, that there can be no reasonable doubt about the authenticity of the indubitable Qur’anic readings.
o And even more crucially, there are important creedal differences between the message of the Bible and the message of the Qur’an: To begin with, we see that the ‘God of the Bible’ is presented in completely anthropomorphic terms, so much so that he sorrows, forgets, is wary of humanity’s growing power, etc., and this is more visible in the earlier books of the Old Testament. Then, of course, we know that Christianity is based on the concept of a ‘triune God’, and the difficulties that this gives rise to have been discussed in certain places.
o But note also that in formal Judaism, the concept of God has shifted considerably at different points of time, so much so that it does not correspond as well as some people may believe with the traditional Sunni understanding of Allah – in fact, if we consider someone like Maimonides, his concept of the Divine seems to be more Mu’tazili, even Jahmi in orientation; but also note that he is not the only Jewish theologian in history, there have been many others, who have said all sorts of things unacceptable to Sunni doctrine, such as the claim that the ‘realm of Heaven is outside of God’s Power’ (i.e. going for an almost Mu’tazili or Shia approach on the question of human free-will), or that the existence of God can be predicated absolutely only before the creation of the world (in here having some coloring of the Mujassima or anthropomorphic sects). And then there is the issue of whether belief in God is really that central to Judaism to begin with, and the whole range of historical attitudes to this question within ‘normative Judaism’; of course, a more thorough study of Jewish theology would lead to more topics of discussion, even though they are not relevant at this point in time.
o But as we know in Islam, even a small incorrect statement about Allah the Exalted may lead one totally out of Islam, while the Trinity or partitioning of Allah’s Dhat (Essence) or His Attributes into several existents, or to say that Allah occupies a locus, etc. is considered total heresy. There is also a lot to be said in here, but I just wanted to show that the ‘Belief in one God’, while seemingly common to all three religions, has been made problematic in Christianity and Judaism, and Islam cannot be said to only be slavishly imitating such religions in this very crucial aspect of the belief system as presented in the Qur’an.
o A second point relates to Prophethood, and we see that Prophethood means something completely different in Islam than what it signifies in Judaism and Christianity, and this is also a very big difference. Islam says that it is impossible for Allah to give His Message to be transmitted and explained by liars, fornicators, idol-worshippers, and so on, only on the basis that they may ‘prophecy’ certain things related to future occurrences.
o Let me mention something from my side: One of the big differences between the Bible (especially the Old Testament) and the Qur’an is that the OT is a sort of epic of the Israelite nation; this is why one finds divine exhortations side-by-side with graphic descriptions of unchastity, idolatry, etc… the authors want to say that ‘This is what Israel is in all of its glory and debasement’. But the Qur’an is far removed from this: it is only the Divine revelation, and the casual relating of jealousies and grudges, backstabbing and cheating are for other books, not for the exalted status of the Divine Word.
o We also see that there are big differences between Islam and Judeo-Christianity with respect to the Hereafter, and the concepts of Heaven and Hellfire. We see that within Judaism and Christianity, there are a wide range of beliefs concerning the Afterlife, ranging from a belief in bodily resurrection, a resurrection of the soul only, or no resurrection at all (as believed by some historical Jewish sects). We also see that a large proportion of Jews and Christians are recalcitrant about an eternal punishment for disbelieving persons, and this is a big difference from what Islam upholds. So these differences were and still are based on what seems to be the proclivities of each group, and it cannot be said that Islam ‘appropriated’ these beliefs for itself, since the range of such beliefs and their diversity is obvious to all.
o We also see that the stories of the Qur’an and the Bible often differ in important details. For example, the story of Adam and Hawwaa (AS) seems to be the same between the Bible and the Qur’an, but we see the following differences:
o 1) In the Bible, the tree from which they (AS) ate is termed as a tree of knowledge, but the Qur’an says that Adam (AS) was given knowledge even before he was permitted to live in Paradise. 2) The Bible blames the woman for this incident, and says that childbirth is her punishment; the Qur’an emphasizes Adam (AS) as the one who ate from the tree, and it does not refer to childbirth as a punishment, but rather honors mothers for their efforts connected to childbirth and child-rearing. 3) The repentance of Adam (AS) is not mentioned in the Bible, while this is a very important part of the story of the Qur’an. And of course, it is from this story of Adam and Hawwaa (AS) and their alleged lack of repentance that Christians formulate their theory of original sin, while Islam absolutely does not hold on to this belief.
o Another important difference is that the belief in a tree of ‘knowledge’ gives rise to the view that man was perfect before his transgression, and that he has to find a way to return to that state of perfection of his soul – and this belief plays directly into the hands of Trinitarian Christians, since they go on to say that Jesus (AS) is that link, that “Man-God” who through his crucifixion can return men to their original state as literal ‘Images of the Father’, qualitatively similar to the ‘Son’. Note that this is a huge issue, and it is not a tangential one that can be ignored when discussing the differences between the Bible and the Qur’an and their effects on the development of Christian and Islamic doctrine.
o Yet another point, only mentioned in passing by the author, are the big differences one sees between the Biblical stories of many Prophets and the same elect personalities in the Qur’an. Again, the Qur’an’s purpose is instruction to mankind, not mere story-telling, which is why in the Bible one finds Verses talking about dimensions of buildings, the materials used in the building process, long descriptions of people’s private lives and their squabbles, and so on, since many a times these stories were redacted for the purposes of writing an ‘epic history of Israel’, not for actual instruction of the reader.
o The ‘borrowing theory’ is also weakened by the presence of many stories in the Qur’an that are not mentioned in the Bible, such as the story of the heifer, Musa (AS) and the Israelites, or of Allah granting Ibrahim (AS) safety in the fire when he was thrown in it, and a number of other stories. If it is said that these were copied from extra-canonical sources, we Muslims would still be right in demanding proof/evidence for this assertion. Since the opponent cannot provide proof with regards to the ‘official Bible’, it seems strange that he would be able to provide it for ‘apocryphal books’.
o Now, a number of non-Muslim academics say that the evidence of the Prophet ﷺ having taken from oral sources is in the confusion over the identity of certain personalities common to both the Bible and the Qur’an. For example, the case of Maryam (AS) being called the ‘sister’ of Harun (AS) is brought up. But this is a fallacious claim, since ‘أخت’ (ukht) in here is used idiomatically, not literally, and was said by the people who saw ‘Isa (AS) in her (AS) arms, since they imagined that she had disgraced the lineage of Harun (AS) with immorality and unchastity.
o With respect to Haaman being mentioned as the minister of Fir’awn, and the claim that this is a mistake of the Qur’an when it confuses this name with that of a minister in the court of a Persian king, this is really something amazing to be brought forth as a claim, since coincidence in names (if we take the Bible account to be true) cannot be taken as evidence of direct copying (or confused copying); if such was truly the case, this would render almost every single story false, since in any story there are bound to be some coincidences with previous places, names, even generalized plots, and it may always be said that the latter history may have been confused with the names, places, or plots of earlier works. All in all, this is not a ‘scientific’ way to carry out the research whatsoever.
o With regards to the story of Al-Khidr and Musa (AS), there is again a theory put forward, that the Prophet ﷺ plagiarized this story from oral sources connected to the Talmud, and simply changed the names of the protagonists.
o In addition to the rebuttals we have already mentioned, we can consider the following points: 1) There were no signs in the conversations Muhammad ﷺ had with his people just before his Prophethood that could direct one to conclude that he was gaining knowledge incrementally, since generally when one gains knowledge, this becomes manifest in the way that one speaks, brings out references concerning different events and places, etc., and this generally does not come about overnight, since becoming a ‘scholar’ generally requires a lot of time, effort, and dedication, none of which can go unnoticed by others.
o 2) As we know very well, there was no translation bureau in the Hijaaz, where works of previous times and foreign lands would be translated into Arabic, as this is in fact essential in order to understand the works of other peoples, to internalize them and if need be, to modify their terms for potential ‘internal consumption’. We see that even today, the non-Muslims ridicule us for not being a bibliophile society and not being too concerned about reading, translations, etc. So how does it occur to them that such great bibliophile-related work was thriving in Makkah at that time, if (according to our opponents) even today we are unable to take on such types of projects?
o 3) One issue (not mentioned by the author or his sources) is the following: We have the chains of students that have passed down the Qur’an to our time, and we know that their starting point is from the time of the Prophet ﷺ. What we are presenting as a challenge to the non-Muslims is that if their theories about the compilation of the Qur’an from disparate sources were correct, there should be at least some ‘leakage of chains’ which leads the Qur’an not exclusively to Muhammad ﷺ, but to people before him as well.
o And since there is another theory out there by the non-Muslims, alleging that the Qur’an was in fact the product of the Shaam region (i.e. Greater Syria) but that it was retroactively projected back to the Hijaaz region, then we would expect for there to be the same type of ‘leakage of chains’ in the Qur’an and the Ahaadeeth which would show the logical funneling of Islam back to the Shaam region, and not to the Hijaaz. If the non-Muslim cannot provide this, then what he is saying is basically that there was an effective mass-conspiracy to make up a huge fantastical history, complete with religious dogma, texts, traditions, and so on and so forth.
o And if we were to take this as a basis for historical research, I wonder if anything of the past may be ascertained whatsoever, such as the existence of ancient Greece or Rome, the existence of colonial America, the waging of great wars, and on and on. In fact, this skepticism would also render knowledge of current lands one has not visited or people one has not seen to the realm of uncertainty, since it is always possible (in this view) that the reports one hears, the pictures one sees, etc., are just a piece in a great conspiracy puzzle; while Islam does have its sensible amount of skepticism towards any piece of information, the keyword in here is sensible, since without sensibility we descend into an ‘infinite sophistric loop’ so as to say.
o 4) And what we can say to be the most important point, which I am mentioning again, is that this a priori rejection of Islam as a divine religion is bigotry from the side of the opponent. Yes, we can refute the claims of the opponent in a sober manner, but the truth is that when the opponent has already decided that only ‘material causes’ explain the appearance of the Qur’an, then what is to be done in this case, save to ask Allah to open blind hearts? And as Jews, Christians, and others know, if the non-religious skeptic wants, he can go on denying any evidence ad infinitum, since the concept of ‘evidence in favor of religious belief’ simply does not exist for him.
o Now, the author says that we have Verse 4:82, which mentions that, had the Qur’an been from other than Allah, there would be found in it many contradictions. So this is one of the main challenges with regards to the authenticity of the Qur’an. For example, if the concept of Allah as per the Qur’an was continuously shifting, or the position of Prophets was always being modified from instance of revelation to instance of revelation (i.e. from chapter to chapter), it could be supposed that there is an inconsistency, and the challenge of the Qur’an would have been met. But we see that this is most definitely not the case.
o One issue that is of importance is that there is a division between Muhkamaat and Mutashaabih Verses, and these need scholars of Islam and specifically of Tafseer in order to explain to us, the laity, how we can view these Verses, especially the latter type of ambiguous Verses. This point is important in here, since there is no scope for saying that there are contradictions in the Qur’an after acknowledging that words may have different significations behind them, and that we require scholarly guidance in order to properly study the Qur’an.
Section Twelve: The Theory of Divine Revelation
o (The author uses the word ‘theory’ in here, so I am just copying his heading name). Brother Njozi points to the Qur’anic statement that the collective efforts of jinn and mankind would be insufficient to bring forth the like of the Qur’an. He then goes on to talk about supposed ‘numerical miracles’, along with certain ‘scientific miracles’ and considerations. I will mention some of the ‘scientific miracles’ alluded to in here, then the ‘numerical’ ones, and we can see what to make of it.
o One thing I have to say is that even up to today, there is a lot of leaning upon the work of Dr. Maurice Bucaille in the issue of ‘science in the Qur’an’. The issue with Mr. Bucaille is that he was not a formal ‘Aalim of the religion, so even though he learned Arabic and he did his comparative study between the Bible, the Qur’an, and science, the conclusions he reached have to be treated with extreme caution, since I doubt that they agree with Islamic scholarship in a comparatively large number of cases.
o Also, one thing that is not often brought up in connection with Mr. Bucaille is that in his book (or the version of his book I read) he says that the Ahaadeeth in many cases were simply the words of the Companions of the Prophet ﷺ – we can say that ‘Ahaadeeth’ which are in fact words of the Companions do exist and are obvious in the collections of Ahaadeeth, but to make such a generalized statement is to imply that the Hadeeth Rejector religion is compatible with science, while traditional Islam is not – a very wrong assumption. And perhaps this is one of the reasons why we see a proliferation of Hadeeth Rejecters in our time, since they are basically ‘science-first’ people, and they have a much better chance of reinterpreting the Qur’an according to their own whims if they simply reject Islamic scholarship in one go. (On the other hand, traditional Islamic scholarship does not simply take Ahaadeeth and start applying them, but these are considerations of Usool al-Fiqh that are outside the scope of these notes).
o Now, of these ‘scientific’ considerations, the first is with regards to the creation of the day and night, which the Bible says were created on the first day, while the ‘stars’ (i.e. the Sun and the Moon) were supposedly created on the fourth day. This is said to be against modern scientific data (since there can be no day and night on the Earth without the sun and the moon) and very crucially, this sequence is not mentioned in the Qur’an.
o From what I understand, the main issue to be considered first of all is the authenticity of the book or revelation both in terms of the miracle that the Prophet (AS) in question has been given, plus whether the Book has been preserved faithfully down to our time. If these two matters are established, then even if the sequence as presented in the book seems strange to us at first glance, we cannot discard it, since the certainty of the Book being properly transmitted plus its connection to a true Prophet are enough to overturn the conclusions of normal experimentations.
o The issue with the Bible is that in fact it fails these basic criteria [of being properly transmitted from the Prophets]; its internal message can be studied no doubt by those who have the pertinent knowledge to do so, but not as a protected and perfect divine text. And here is the real reason why we do not pay attention to what it says of the order of creation in each particular day (in the sense of considering it as decisive).
o This is one thing; and when it comes to what the Qur’an says with regards to the order of the creation of the Heavens and the Earth, it is that true that such a regimented day-by-day scenario is not mentioned in the same manner one finds in the Bible. Yet, we must consider some things: The Qur’an does mention the creation of the Heavens and Earth in six ‘Ayyaam’, and the scholars have interpreted the ‘sequence’ of the Creation of the Heavens and Earth in a number of ways, but I feel that if a strict scientific approach were to be done on these Verses, the scientist would, by only using their own methods for investigation and conclusions, discard the text of the Qur’an as having no relationship with science, or having a tenuous relationship at best. Thus, while there is no problem in learning whatever is feasible from the natural world, we have to really consider how we use this knowledge in connection with Islamic texts.
o One final thing is that the consideration of the words and the meanings of such words within the Islamic texts is of much greater value than seeing what the conclusions of modern science may lead us to, since even in the case that we can use these scientific postulates, it will be impossible to derive benefit from them unless we know the different meanings that the primary Islamic texts may be conveying, or whether the texts can linguistically and contextually only convey one meaning, and other similar considerations.
o (By the way, a number of Mufassireen did mention this issue about the day and night mentioned in relation with the Creation of the Universe, and that it would be difficult to consider the day and the night as the present periods we know of today, precisely due to the absence of the moon and the sun).
o Now, the second point is that the existence of vegetation is ascribed to the third day, the sun and moon appear on the fourth day in the Bible, while the Qur’an makes no such types of statements. Again, there may be some hints in the Qur’an which may be taken by the skeptic to refer to a ‘chronology of events’ basically analogous with what we see in the Bible – even though there is again no specific mention of vegetation springing up on a certain day. The discussion on this could be taken up at a later point, though it needs a lot of scholarly input and would probably be quite lengthy.
o The third point mentioned by the author (from Dr. Bucaille) is another reiteration that the Bible mentions the sun and the moon originating on the fourth day, and this is quite contradictory to what we know in science, while the Qur’an does not mention this. To this, I have to say that as far as I know, there is no Verse in the Qur’an explicitly stating that the Sun and the Moon became formed on the fourth day, though the skeptics may say that the mention of the ‘skies’ and the sequence of its creation vis-à-vis the Earth must necessarily mean that the Qur’an and the Bible are in agreement on this issue. On the other hand, we also have to consider that there have been many interpretations about the Verses of the Qur’an talking about the creation of the Heavens and the Earth – and this also, only from the linguistic perspective, not considering scientific data – so the skeptic would seem to be on an inferior plane in case of such discussions (since it is his interpretation against the interpretation of scholars who opposed his ‘conclusions’, and at the very least it would show that the skeptic’s conclusions are not the ‘conclusions of Islam’).
o And a fourth issue mentioned by the author is that, according to the Bible, the Earth and Heavens were created in literally six days, while the Qur’an mentions ‘Ayyaam’, which could mean days or could also mean long periods of time. From my part, I think we would have to see whether the long periods associated with the formation of the Universe (in terms of billions of years) may be incorporated by modern traditional scholars within the understanding of the relevant Qur’anic Verses – though this seems possible at a first glance, as several of the interpretations written by traditional scholars mention the possibility of ‘Yawm’ to mean periods in a general sense, but again this has to be specifically asked. As far as the Bible is concerned, I do not know the language and the exact words the Bible was originally using, so it would be difficult to say that it absolutely must be literal days according to the Bible and cannot refer to anything else.
o Anyway, those among the Christians who believe in six literal days have their own reasons for upholding such a belief – including what they say is scientific evidence – so I do not want to comment too much on this from the scientific viewpoint either.
o But one thing that should be commented on in the idea of ‘God resting on the Sabbath’, which is in fact a foul idea that has no place in Islam. For what is reported is that this was the saying of some Jews during the time of the Prophet ﷺ, but Allah rejected their illusions and revealed the Verses in Surah Qaf refuting this idea. Of course, we still find this idea of ‘God resting’ in the present-day Bible, and this is a theological difference between the Bible and the Qur’an that can and should be stressed.
o The author does not mention more about this particular matter in this section, but only says that there are an additional number of Verses talking about the creation of the Heavens and the Earth within the Qur’an. And perhaps, whenever possible, we may look into how all of these Verses come together and how the scholars have brought all of the Verses and Ahaadeeth together in order to draw conclusions concerning the creation of the Heavens and the Earth, the sequence of their Creation, and what considerations may be given to the scientific statements concerning the creation of the Universe.
Section Thirteen: Scientific Data
o In this section, the author gets more into the scientific and numerological considerations surrounding the Qur’an. As before, I will present these considerations, and see what can be said about it, or what is to be asked about these things in the future.
o The author (quoting from Dr. Bucaille in this and the subsequent points) says that Verse 41: 9-12 refers to the separation of the sun and the Earth, starting from the ‘celestial smoke’. From my side I would have to critically ask concerning this presentation, since these Verses mention that the seven Samaawaat (i.e. not only this Universe, but even far beyond it) have come from this ‘smoke’. The question that needs at least some investigation is whether this is even related to nebulae, fusion of the Sun, or whether the ‘smoke’ being referred to in here is connected to a realm we cannot even sense [since it includes the visible Universe, but also that which is beyond it of the higher Heavens].
o Another question that seems pertinent is whether we can take these Verses as referring to the interlocking of two stages in the formation of the Sun and the Earth. Dr. Bucaille says this interconnection is evident in the Verses, even though I am personally not so sure. And Allah knows best.
o Another point mentioned by Dr. Bucaille is that the ‘Seven Heavens’ refers to the plurality of heavens, in the sense of a large number of galactic systems. The question that needs to be asked is whether ‘seven’ in here refers to a general plurality, and also whether the restricting of the ‘Heavens’ to the visible Universe is warranted.
o The final point made by the author (from Dr. Bucaille) is that the intermediate creation between the heavens and the Earth refers to ‘bodies of material present outside organized astronomic systems.’ I am not entirely sure which ‘intermediate creation’ other than the Heavens or the Earth is being alluded to by Dr. Bucaille in reference to these Verses, but even if there is such a reference, or a hint, I would still need to ask about its interpretation as presented above, since at first glance the link presented between the Qur’anic Verses and the ideas of modern astronomy seems to be tenuous at best.
o The next point is with respect to the age of man on Earth. According to the author, the Bible contends that Adam and Jesus (AS) were separated by roughly 5800 years, but that this is totally wrong, based on what we know from archeology, anthropology, etc. On the other hand, the Qur’an does not mention such specific dates and intervals of time with respect to these Prophets.
o What I can say right now about this is that yes, the Qur’an does not mention dates and years so specifically, but also, that we do not have within our ‘ownership’ the entire range of anthropological and archeological data in order to see for ourselves how these scientists came to their conclusions about the age of man on Earth (as they say that man has resided on Earth for tens or hundreds of thousands of years). One issue in here is also that this discussion would no doubt get involved with the matter of evolution, and in such a case this would branch out towards other areas whether we want it to or not.
o What I know about this is that while the ancestry of the Prophet ﷺ up to Ibrahim (AS) is well-established within Islam, from Ibrahim (AS) to Adam (AS) it is not so well-established or agreed-upon, so it will be something that needs to be researched further Insha Allah.
o The next point surrounds the narrative of the Flood in the time of Prophet Nuh (AS). The point made by Dr. Bucaille is that a global flood could not have possibly occurred only 3 centuries before the appearance of Ibrahim (AS) among his people, since archeology confirms that civilizations existed at that time (i.e., the time of Prophet Nuh (AS)) around the world. The author mentions that the Qur’an does not mention any dates, nor does it say that the flood was a global event.
o In addition to what I pointed out about archeology above, from what I know, the Qur’an does mention the comprehensiveness of the flood, even though it gives no specific dates in this connection (which is in this case quite could be a crucial fact to be considered).
o Now, whether this (the occurrence of the flood in global terms) is a totally agreed-upon position or not, I would have to ask about it, even though certain Verses of the Qur’an do imply it being a worldwide event and from what I know, Muslim scholars do not disagree about this, so the claim that only a ‘local flood’ is mentioned in the Qur’an is at the very least a curious assertion.
o The next point is that, in connection with the story of Musa (AS) and Fir’awn, the Bible does not mention what happened to Fir’awn’s body, while the Qur’an says it was saved for posterity. From what I understand, this might have to do with the preservation of his mummified body in Egypt today; but from what the major interpretations of this Verse have mentioned, his dead body was shown to the Israelites in order for them to be convinced with their own eyes that Fir’awn had actually died, since Fir’awn commanded great terror in the hearts and minds of the Israelites.
o If (and that is a big if) the mummified body of the Pharaoh is still preserved for viewing in a museum in Egypt, this would still be a probabilistic additional exegesis of this Verse (the reason being that how would we be absolutely certain that the mummy in question is actually that of the Fir’awn in the story of Musa (AS)?) and other similar considerations.
o The next point is with regards to the genealogies of Prophet Jesus (AS) as found in the Bible. It is well-known that there are divergent genealogies of Jesus (AS) in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Very importantly, the Qur’an does not mention any type of divergent ‘genealogies’, only mentioning that ‘Isa is the son of Maryam (Alayhimaa as-Salaam). I have to say that the Christians do provide some plausible explanations as to why the genealogies are different; also, this ‘genealogical table difference’ is at most a contradiction at a ‘secondary level’ of importance, so I personally would not make such a big deal about this issue.
o The author reiterates that the points about the accuracy of the Qur’an are present in spite of the material impracticality of being able to have this accuracy – that the possibility of all these statements being true becomes exponentially lower with each additional statement.
o Now, br. Njozi gives a longer list of the scientific considerations mentioned in the Qur’an. Let me just list what brother Njozi is mentioning in here, and after listing them, we might be able to see how to talk about some of them at least even if it is in a summarized form (again, all of these statements are from Dr. Bucaille’s work – so from the start there should be a note of caution):
o 1. Verse 51:47 mentions the expanding Universe. 2. The Sun is mentioned as analogous to a torch or a blazing lamp, while the moon reflects light received from the Sun – indicated in Verse 25:61. 3. From Dr. Bucaille’s reading of Verses 21:33 and 36:40, it is said that the orbit of the Sun is mentioned, but there is no indication of what the orbit is with relation to the Earth – this at a time when geocentrism was very well-established in everyone’s collective knowledge.
o 4. From Verses 7:54 and 39:5, we see that the sequence of the day and the night are mentioned without reference to the Sun. The word ‘Kawwara’ in Arabic (which means ‘to coil’) is used in reference to the sequence of the day and night. According to Buccaile, the word ‘coil’ is important because it shows the interpenetration of one sector of the Earth by the other sector, and how this points to the revolution of the Earth on its own axis, plus its spherical shape.
o 5. Verses 23:18 and 39:21 are mentioned in connection with the water cycle, specifically with regards to the idea that rainwater infiltrates into the soil (which is an important part of the water-cycle as understood today). 6. Verses 79:32 and 31:10 are mentioned in connection with the stability that mountains give to the Earth’s crust, through the folds in the Earth that give stability to the mountains.
o 7. The phenomenon of electricity in the atmosphere is said to be mentioned in Verse 24:43, which mentions heavy rain-clouds and clouds containing hail. 8. Verse 6:125 is mentioned in relation to its pointing out that the higher up one ascends, the more constricted one’s breath becomes.
o 9. Verse 16:48, which indicates the turning left and right of the shadows of created things in prostration to Allah, is said to be in accordance with scientific knowledge, since the ‘sun’ itself [or I believe, the movement of the Sun around the Earth] is not mentioned explicitly, and this is a subtle but big point. 10. The author mentions Verse 21:30 in connection with all living things coming from water. And Dr. Bucaille says that this is what is known about all vegetable and animal beings, and their formation millions of years ago (we may know this same Verse has been cited in connection with the ‘Big Bang’, but this is a separate issue).
o 11. The next point is concerned with reproduction in the vegetable kingdom (specifically sexual reproduction), as indicated in Verse 20:53. 12. Next is the presentation of Verses 16:68-69, connected to: a) The fact that Allah inspires the bee in its activities leading up to the production of honey b) The usefulness of honey in curing illnesses and c) The fact that the bees carrying out this work are female bees, not male bees as was thought in many different societies and eras of the past.
o 13. With regards to Verse 16:66, there is a description of the constituents of animal milk. And it is said that the description is very much in line with modern knowledge on the make-up of milk, and the crucial role that the contents of the intestine and the blood play in bringing about the secretion of milk.
o 14. The issue of human reproduction is mentioned a number of times in the Qur’an, from which we can discern the following points: a) The word ‘Nutfah’ (as we see for example in Verse 16:4) indicates that only a very small amount of the sperm actually goes into the ‘direct process’ of reproduction. b) In connection with Verse 76:2, which mentions the creation of man from mingled liquids, we see that there are a number of glands that go into the formation of spermatic fluid: the testicles, seminal vesicles, the prostrate gland, an glands annexed to the urinary tract, and all these contribute to the spermatic fluid – and this is the meaning of the term ‘mingled fluids’. c) From Verse 22:5, we see the mention of the egg lodging itself in the womb of the woman, and from Verses 75:37-38 there is the indication of the clinging of the egg after its implantation in the womb. d) With reference to Verses 23:14 and 22:5, there is the mention that the process of embryological formation has been precisely mentioned in the Qur’an albeit in simple language, including the mention of the stages of ‘mudgha’ (chewed flesh), ‘lahm’ (intact flesh), and even the terms ‘mukhallaq’ and ‘ghayr mukhallaq’, which may be seen to refer to the embryo possessing some parts in proportion to what is later to become the full individual, and some parts out of proportion.
o It is mentioned that there were many myths circulating at that time, and they held currency for a long time, and only in the past few decades has true knowledge of embryology come into its own.
o So the tentative conclusion of the author is that it was basically impossible for the Prophet ﷺ to come up with such accurate statements that have only recently been discovered, since the chance of all these statements being correct at the same time [by means of trial-and-error] reaches an extremely small percentage.
o What I can say as a provisional commentary to many of the points above is that the language of the Qur’an and the nomenclature of the sciences are quite different in their domains. And when we uncritically apply the language of science to the Qur’an or the Ahaadeeth, there will definitely be a number of things that do not fit into the ‘contemporary’ scientific understanding. People should realize that this was true of any ‘science and Islam’ discussions that may have taken place a millennium ago, it is true today, and it will continue to be true in the future as well. It is just that each science has its own rules and regulations concerning what a meaningful statement may be, how words are technically used in its field, and how meaningful conclusions are presented, and I think it very difficult to imagine that the language of Islam, of the Qur’an and the Sunnah, will match any material scientific field through and through.
o So yes, I have seen some Ulaamaa’ bring up (for example) Verse 6:125 to show that the connection between going higher in altitude and becoming short of breath would have been very difficult for the Prophet ﷺ to know from his surroundings, either before or after his Prophethood. And, in my personal view, the presentation concerning Verse 16:66 (about the formation of milk, and its connection with blood and the intestines of the animal) seems interesting at first glance. But then, when we try too hard to push for certain points, such as Verses 36:40 and 39:5 supposedly mentioning the roundness of the Earth, the revolution on its own axis, etc., this might move things in a different direction that what we may have hoped – because we are presenting our findings as ‘the’ Islamic position, while if such was the case, every ‘Aalim of previous centuries would have come to the same conclusion, and it is clear that such was not the case.
o What has happened in here is both interesting and lamentable: The non-Muslim has correctly intuited that only if there is Ijma’ (consensus) of the ‘Ulaamaa/Mufassireen of the Ummah can something be taken as decisive in Islam, and has easily shown that such was not the case with regards to the explanation of a given Ayah under consideration. But the Muslim did not understand this principle before making his presentation, and did not even circumspect his ‘science-related’ statement with the disclaimer that this is only a probable interpretation of the Verse, but rather boldly said that this is ‘the’ interpretation of the Verse.
o Just judging from some of the things that Dr. Bucaille wrote in the points above, he is saying in at least two places that a certain word of the Qur’an ‘is’ referring to a certain set of analogous postulates of science. The issue in here is the certainty that he is speaking with, which is understandable since it is coming from someone who is not trained in the methodology of Tafseer, while he is trying to link the Qur’an and science given his background in science.
o But even this good intention of his has the problem of bestowing a given word the appearance of an indubitable meaning without checking with the sources of Islam as to whether this approach is warranted. And even worse than this, it cannot explain the fact that so many Muslims have simply taken his pronouncements as if they were ‘facts of Islam’, and by doing so they may get badly burned when they present these things to the wider world. May Allah truly help us in this regard.
o Again, the most that can be said in many cases is that the Qur’anic statement does not contradict with what is known by the sound mind or by direct observation and experimentation, but this is still a long way from saying that these statements are ‘miraculous’, except in very few cases, which cannot establish a ‘trend’ so as to speak.
o We must always keep in mind, that if the Qur’anic statement(s) either as standalone statements or in connection with mass-transmitted reports, show a certain matter to be lucid or unambiguous in its purport, we are not allowed to twist the meaning of the Verse in order to make it fit with a certain theory or law of science, simply to say that such-and-such ‘scientific miracles’ exist in the Qur’an.
o Yes, if there are various possible interpretations for the given text [and to be honest, there most probably will be], then we can say that the Verse, if taken up with a certain meaning for some of the ‘keywords’, refers to a point that does seem to have a certain connection with the given modern field of research. And if there is no way to bring the scientific postulate together with the indubitable understanding collected from the entire Qur’an when treating this matter, then we would say that the scientific theory is based on some misconception or misunderstanding [or also, it may be that we ourselves have misunderstood the issue, and a more thorough investigation would do away with the apparent contradictions].
o Just one more comment that I want to make before moving on, is that there is what we call ‘normal impossibility’ and ‘absolute impossibility’; as a rule, when we discuss ‘absolute impossibilities’ we are referring to statements that cannot possibly be true about the nature of the existents under discussion in and of themselves, such as saying that in Euclidian geometry a triangle may have four sides [since it goes against the definition of ‘sides’, ‘angles’, ‘three’, and ‘four’].
o But with regards to the conclusions of archeology, anthropology, etc., yes, we can get good information from these fields, but I doubt anyone would say that they can point out ‘absolute impossibilities’ to the extent of the example above (i.e. concerning triangles). This distinction is why we believe that miracles can happen in the first place, since the Universe does not need to hold onto ‘laws’ as we understand them; in fact, in Islam we do not hold that true material causality exists to begin with, since everything is brought into being directly by Allah.
o And even though the Qur’an does not mention (for example) the specific date of the Flood at the time of Nuh (AS), from the abstract hypothetical perspective, there is nothing to deny (in the absolute sense) the possibility that in a few centuries civilizations may have sprung up after the whole world had been destroyed. It is improbable, no doubt, but improbability on one end cannot overcome certainty on the other – this is simply the rule, and the application of the rule varies from case to case.
o As I had mentioned before, the proper way to handle these sorts of things is to first know for certain what the Islamic texts are saying; whether there is scope for certain different interpretations regarding the texts…it is true that sometimes a certain translation or opinion may have become popular, but may not have reached the stage of establishing indubitable belief, or sometimes non-Muslims simply suppose that the Biblical and Islamic conceptions are exactly the same in every way, while this may simply not be the case.
o Only after this step is done, can we see what the results of natural experimentation are giving us. In this last ‘section’ one will definitely find out that there are many things presented as hard-core facts of the scientific field in question, while in reality the field may have certain ‘conflicts’ it has to solve, or it may be that the field on the expert level has moved beyond what is portrayed about it in the ‘popular media’.
o And this is why the optimal way for the scholars of Islam to have looked into many of these questions was to have had at their disposal the research of properly-trained Muslim scientists (i.e. those trained in Islamic epistemology), and from there they could give better explanations about the ‘science and Islam’ issues that come up.
o However, as long as the situation of Muslims remains as it is, we Muslims will have to keep on relying on research and conclusions of non-Muslim academicians with regards to scientific endeavors, along with the problems that this gives rise to. At the very least, there is a ‘masking’ between what we are presented as the conclusions of such scientific endeavors, and the actual raw data and raw discussions that are handled and held ‘behind the scenes’ while the conclusion is negotiated.
o Next, brother Njozi talks about the conclusions of the convert to Islam, Doctor Gary Miller in his work ‘The Amazing Qur’an’. Most of the issues discussed in this book center around the distinction between the use (i.e. the meaning) of a word and its mention (i.e. the make-up) of words. What brother Miller is saying is that there a large number of correlations in the Qur’an between the number of times a certain word is mentioned in the Qur’an and a certain facet of the message that is linked to it. As before, I will relate what is mentioned, and then I can see what can be made out of this:
o 1. We have the link between words and the number of times they are mentioned in the Qur’an. The examples cited are the word Qaalu (they say) which is mentioned 332 times, and Qul (you say) which is also mentioned 332 times…i.e., as if to reply to what they say. The phrase (translated as) seven heavens is mentioned 7 times, the word translated as ‘month’ appears 12 times, and day is mentioned 365 times [at first glance, I have to say that the days should be according to the Islamic calendar, not the Gregorian one].
o 2. We see in Verse 4:82, whose translation is: ‘Do they not ponder over the Qur’an? Had it been from any other than Allah, surely there would have been many contradictions in it’. What is said is that since the Arabic phrase is ‘Ikhtilaafan Katheeran’, in order to refute this through the ‘mention of the word’, the objector would have to find another instance of the word ‘Ikhtilaaf’; but this does not appear in any other instance of the Qur’an.
o 3. Another issue is that whenever the Qur’an says that two things are alike, the number of their count in the Qur’an matches, plus the Verse where this likeness is mentioned is the Verse where the instance of their mention is exactly equal. The examples provided are from Verse 3:59 (the mention is of Adam and ‘Isa (AS), who are mentioned 25 times in the Qur’an, the 7th time being in this Verse), another from Verse 7:176 (the mention is of a dog and ‘those who reject our signs’ (both mentioned 5 times in the Qur’an, for the 1st time in this Verse)), and from Verse 14:26 (‘evil word’ and the word ‘tree’ being mentioned with evil associations, both mentioned for the 6th time in this Verse, and 11 total times in the Qur’an). In addition to this, when the Qur’an mentions two things being dissimilar, their numbers do not match.
o With respect to the first issue (number 1 above), to be honest if one does a quick search on the certain sites that have the number of occurrences of the words in the Qur’an, he will notice that only one of these relations between words and the number of their appearances seems to match. This is for the ‘seven Heavens’, which appears 5 times as سبع سماواتand twice as السماوات السبع, for a grand total of 7 instances. But for the rest of the relations presented, from what I can tell, they do not seem to hold up numerically, and they have different numbers than what is mentioned above. So I suppose that this is not really something to delve into and to present as a ‘miracle’.
o The second issue (number 2 above) is about the occurrence of the word اختلافاً. Now, from what I can see, the word إختلافاً in this exact spelling (i.e. in the Mansub (accusative) indefinite form) only occurs in this instance. But there are two other instances of this word, in Verse 10:6 [إختلافِ] and in Verse 23:80 [إختلافُ], where the state of the word is Majrur (genitive), and Marfu’ (nominative) respectively. The difference is only in the relative form of the word being different, while the word itself is the same. So I really have to wonder whether the ‘numerical’ miracle in here is that we will not be able to find the word إختلاف in an indefinite accusative form except in this Verse. Allah knows best, but this does not seem to be a strong argument as I see it.
o With respect to the third point that was mentioned above, there are in fact 4 different claims. The first one is about the number of instances where Adam and ‘Isa (Alayhima Salaam) appear in the Qur’an. It does seem that both appear 25 times in the Qur’an, and it also seems that their mention in Surah 3:59 is the seventh time they are mentioned in the Qur’an, counting from the start of the Qur’an.
o But with regards to the second example, the word كلب in its various forms appears only 6 times in the Qur’an, while the phrase الذين كذبوا بأياتنoccurs (by my count) at least 14 times in the Qur’an. So this example does not seem to hold up as far as I can tell.
o Now with respect to the last example, it is a little bit difficult to determine what exactly is an ‘evil association’ for both the كلمةand the شجرة. But anyway, based on what I could understand, the كلمة with these associations occurs 6 times in the Qur’an (and one mention is probable, but I do not know whether to include it in this group), while the شجرةwith this association occurs 5 times in the Qur’an (and six additional mentions, with regards to the story of Adam (AS) in Paradise, but again I do not know if it actually fits in the narrative that brother Miller is bringing up). Anyway, so it seems that in here the instances where the words are mentioned do not matchnumerically.
o And one more thing I wanted to mention in here (related to the fourth point brought up by Dr. Miller) is that we have certain other examples of this similarity being forwarded by means of the particle ك, and we see that their numbers do not match. For example, we have the phrase in the Qur’an:
‘وإن يوما عند ربك كالف سنة مما تعدون’ (translated as: ‘And indeed, a day with your Lord is like a thousand years of those which you count.’) But in here, the word thousand (ألف) appears 14 times in the Qur’an, while the word ‘day’ (يوم) appears more than 400 times in the Qur’an (and even according to brother Miller’s count, it was 365 times as indicated above). Even the form (يوما) appears 16 times in the Qur’an as per my count, so even here it is not matching exactly in the number of instances. So it seems that the premise itself does not hold up, except in the first case presented, that of ‘Isa (AS) and Adam (AS).
o Brother Njozi finishes his portion of this book by bringing out the suggestion of certain people that the Satan could very well be the author of the Qur’an; but this is unfounded, since Satan is shown as the worst enemy of man, and the Qur’an itself says that one should seek refuge from the Satan before reading the Qur’an. Besides, even the Bible indicates that if Satan were to rise against himself, he would be coming to an end due to the contradictions inherent in his effort.
o Now, I think the author could have written a little bit more about this topic rather than leaving it as a footnote, since this is a common theory brought up by Christians, Jews, and ‘religious people’ who accept the existence of demons. From my side, what is important to define is the concept of a miracle itself. If we cannot agree with the opponent on what constitutes a miracle, then we cannot move ahead in presenting to him the evidences of Islam; in fact, most of the times the opponent does not even have a proper concept of God or of what the ‘Divine’ is, so this a very crucial series of points that must be considered very carefully.
o For example, with respect to revelations, if the opponent’s rule is that there is no truth after his religion, then it is difficult to see how he will but dismiss anything we present as mere coincidences and nothing miraculous at all. If we take the case of the Christian, his main theological idea is that the crucifixion of Jesus (AS), which for him is a ‘Divine Atonement’ from various angles that totally did away with the previous laws and ushered in a new age of salvation through faith. So for him, every claim after this is necessarily false. But the Muslim would have to go ahead not only with the presentation of the Qur’an, but also why the idea of the crucifixion of Jesus (AS) as a manifestation of a ‘Man-God’ dying to save the world from sins is totally contradictory.
o Thus, we have to consider the opponent’s concepts of ‘revelation’, ‘divinity’, ‘miracles’, ‘Prophets’, and only then can we see how to move ahead; and it is often on a case-by-case basis, so one has to have knowledge and a lot of patience in dealing with these matters.
Appendix: The Difference Between the Bible and the Qur’an
o This section of the book is based on a lecture by Dr. Miller (It is not mentioned if it is from the same lecture as the previous one, but it does not matter). The first thing mentioned is the difference between the Bible and the Qur’an with regards to the internal evidence with respect to their origins. The Qur’an very clearly mentions that it is the word of Allah, not a history, not an epic account, not the words of the Prophet ﷺ. But the Bible, being a series of small books placed together, sometimes makes this statement (of saying that ‘this is the revelation God gave to so-and-so’), but mostly it does not, especially when connected to the narrations of Prophets. This is what we see for example in the Book of Jonah, and also very famously, in the beginning of the Book of Luke.
o Another important point is that the Bible does not contain ‘self-reference’ (the Qur’an does, in various places). Many people bring up 2 Timothy 3:16, but this is fallacious, since the ‘scriptures’ at that time were not the full set of Bible books we know off today.
o In this respect, there is another Bible Verse in the book of Revelation, which curses anyone who adds to or takes away from this ‘book’. This is also fallacious, since it is talking about the book of Revelation only, and more books of the Bible were written after Revelation, even if their order in today’s Bible is earlier. It is clear that the passage in question (Revelation 22:18) is talking about adding or subtracting to the ‘prophecy of this book’, so it is clearly talking about the book of Revelation at most. Or even if we say the whole of the Bible was being referred to in here, it would only refer to the prophecies in the Bible (i.e. reference would be to the curses that befall one who changes the prophecies contained within the Bible). Also, we should see that a ‘curse’ is one thing, but the big question is whether there is a guarantee of protection for the Book. For we can imagine a case where a person can trade the curse of being killed with the worst type of disease or calamity if that leads to his nefarious goal of changing the originally protected Book – so keep this distinction in mind.
o Next, is the mention that some Christian groups hold the entire Bible, from cover to cover, to be the revealed word of God down to the last letter. But even among this group, there are some who employ a trick in here, whereby they say that this is the case with the ‘original manuscripts’, and that mistakes have crept into the Bible later on. One refutation that is mentioned of this is the Verse in Isaiah 40:8, which mentions that the word of God endures forever – the problem being that either this Verse was mistaken, or that this Verse is not really part of the Bible to begin with.
o What I can say is that such Christians are obviously implying that the original Bible has been lost, so how does he build up his ‘Usool’? Perhaps this is why their present ‘Usool’ has led the Christians in the direction of totally rejecting the Bible as a source of proper information, and this in turn has had the effect of bringing atheism, libertinism and agnosticism to the fore of their societies.
o As a side note, if someone says that fine, they accept that a few small scribal errors may have crept into the Bible, but as a whole the Bible is trustworthy and authentic, then this is again a contradiction to what was mentioned in Isaiah 40:8 (and what should be the case even according to reason). Since it is difficult to say that ‘quite believable and trustworthy’ is the same as ‘literally true’.
o Brother Miller mentions that if one is challenged to bring up some of the mistakes in the Bible, it is sufficient to mention that in the description of the same battle mentioned in both 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles, there is a big difference between the numbers of men Daawud (AS) supposedly killed who were fighting in chariots, and those he killed on horseback (and/or whether they were in fact infantry soldiers).
o There are a number of explanations for this given by Christians, the most famous one being that one of the Verses has been miscopied by a scribe, especially if letters were used as numerals. Some other Christians say that one of the Verses refers to the men killed, while the other refers to the number of chariots that were being used by these soldiers. With regards to the infantry/cavalry issue, what is mentioned in one of their answers is that these were soldiers that could fight both on foot and on horseback, and each author decided to highlight what they believed to be more important from their point of view.
o Another error in the Bible is from Matthew 27:5 when compared to Acts 1, where the death of Judas Iscariot is mentioned, and then an important logical misstep in Titus 1:12, where Paul says that a ‘prophet’ among the Cretans said that ‘Cretans always lie’. This would fall into the category of an ‘undecidable proposition’ if we were to take this statement at face value.
o About the first statement above, the Christians say that Judas hanged himself and after a period of time had elapsed, the corpse fell down and burst open. But when this is combined with certain other things mentioned in both Verses, certain interesting situations come to the fore, such as the question of how a corpse would fall down headlong onto a field, and the issue of whether Judas threw away the silver coins or used it to buy the field, and so on with a few other matters.
o And about the second statement, the response from the Christian side is that this is a hyperbole (commonly used in poetic language) and that Paul really did not mean that Cretans down to the last man were all liars in every single thing they said, so there is no discrepancy according to them in here.
o Before moving on, I have to say that all of these are, from what I can see, relatively minor errors if considered as ‘standalone instances’. However, the important issue we learn from this concerns the possibility of scribal errors creeping into the Bible, the differences between Bible narrations as a result of different authors writing from their own viewpoints, etc.
o From what I can see, these and other matters, when considered from the point of view of Islamic textual studies, are much more related to the field of Hadeeth studies and how to weed out the authentic from the weak (especially as it relates to the text (matn) of the Ahaadeeth themselves), than to what we would consider as pure Qur’anic studies or the process of Qur’anic preservation. These sorts of issues that are prevalent in the Bible are something that needs to be studied in more depth as necessary, but obviously, the problems in Jewish and Christian theology need to be addressed first by the Muslim.
o Brother Miller now comes back to the Qur’an, and he says that the Qur’an has about 70 instances of self-reference. And it also challenges people, in Verse 4:82, indicating that it does not contain any mistakes at all. Dr. Miller says that no human researcher or student would hand in his work saying that the teacher will not find any mistakes in the paper/work completed. And this is something that has been hinted at by the ‘Ulaamaa who wrote on this issue, since they said that it would be very difficult for a person to offer this challenge ‘from himself’ if he knew that he was simply making things up.
o Another thing (mentioned also by many formal scholars of Islam) is that the Qur’an answers all of its critics and doubters, all of those who say they know the ‘material place’ where the Qur’an came from [and even today, the allegations against the Qur’an are only a small variation of what has already been said before]. And very importantly, the Qur’an indicates that the evidence for its true ‘source’ is in itself, if the person approaches it with the correct intention, to really try to find the truth from his Lord.
o So one difference between the Bible and the Qur’an is that the Bible ‘demands’ belief, in that it simply presents the articles of belief. But the Qur’an takes the approach of inviting to belief, by telling man to think and to consider different evidences. For example, concerning the Christian claim that Jesus (AS) is God, the Son of God [or God the Son], the invitation is to consider the case of Adam (AS), that he had no father and even no mother, but that Allah willed for both Adam and for ‘Isa (Alayhimaa Salaam) to come into existence, and they came into existence with His Will and ‘Takween’ (which may be loosely translated as Creative Power connected to Origination).
o The point is that the analogy is made so that people will think critically, rather than the belief simply being presented as such and the people being demanded to believe. And in the end consideration, this is a much stronger way to settle conviction in the heart of the person.
o We also see a lot of what can be called ‘Special Pleading’ occurring in the Bible. This is most noticeable when applied to the case of Jesus (AS) and why Christians believe he must have been God due to the miracles he showed the people. But the truth is that miracles were manifested at the hands of previous Prophets as well, and yet they are not seen as ‘God’ or ‘gods’ in the formal sense of the word.
o For example, if Jesus (AS) multiplied loaves of bread for the hungry masses, so did Elijah as per the Bible. So why is Jesus (AS) considered to be God, and not Elijah? Could it be said that Elijah was a ‘lesser God’ according to the Christians (whatever that even means)? Anyway, This is an example of ‘Special Pleading’, where the arguments are not at all consistent.
o What I understand from the Christian explanations of this matter is that the miracles of Jesus (AS) encompassed the miracles of the previous Prophets and were also greater in magnitude than those of previous Prophets. But this still does not explain why the other Prophets are not seen as ‘God’ by them in one way or the other – especially when they accept the possibility of Godhood residing in multiple ‘persons’.
o Anyway, Dr. Miller next says he wrote to a Christian author about some of these inconsistencies in the Bible, and the answer he received was that he was making things difficult for himself, since he was concentrating on the difficult parts of the Bible, instead of studying the clear portions. But for Miller, this is not a good answer, since the difficult parts are indeed very difficult if we really want to study the Christian dogma.
o For example, in the book of John Chapter 14, Jesus (AS) apparently tells someone that if he has seen Jesus (AS), then he has seen God. This is obviously taken by normative Christians as evidence that Jesus (AS) is God. But this would be difficult to maintain if we consider the same book of John Chapter 5, where Jesus (AS) says that no one has seen God or heard His Voice.
o Of course, from the Muslim point of view, the difficulty arises in the first place since the Christians do not have the original manuscripts of the books of the Bible, so they cannot at all be sure what exact words Jesus (AS) actually said in each occasion.
o This is one thing, and the other one surrounds the fact that their Aqeedah is incorrect from the beginning, since they believe that God can incarnate inside a human body. If this crucial point of their belief were removed, perhaps it could be said that the first Bible Verse [in chapter 5] refers to the Muhkam saying (i.e. the saying is expounding an absolute principle), and the second Verse [in Chapter 14] should be taken metaphorically, in that the closest the people will ever get to God is through following His chosen Messenger.
o Of course, in here I am just going along with the text of the Bible as translated above. However, in normative Sunni belief we would not accept that ‘Isa (AS) could have said that people will not see Allah at all, since our belief is that all Prophets always spoke only the truth about such matters, and the truth is that people will be able to see Allah in the Hereafter (and many scholars say that Muhammad ﷺ saw his Lord in the Mi’raaj journey). Additionally, many of our scholars say that certain beings have heard the Eternal Speech of Allah and that this is possible in the abstract both in this world and in the next– so we must keep these important points in mind.
o Next, Dr. Miller mentions that many times, the beliefs about Jesus (AS) are built on what others claimed about him. One example is that he (AS) never directly said he was the ‘Son of God’ in the first three gospels, but yet we see what has occurred in Christian theology (I admit this is not a strong argument as presented in here).
o As another example, the Christian says that Jesus (AS) must have been God since the Jews who were his enemies understood his pronouncements as blasphemy, so the conclusion is that he must have been claiming Godhood for himself. But note that this is an appeal to the understanding of the enemies (and enemies often try to find ways to disparage their opponents), and needless to say, this should not be taken as the basis for interpreting the religion. One just has to consider the huge difference between what traditional Islamic scholarship says about a certain topic (or about the source texts of Islam), and what our opponents are saying, and one will come to know something about this enormous gulf between ‘the saying as it is’ and the ‘saying as the enemy conveys it’.
o The next issue is connected to the previous one, about how things are taken out of context, even by the Bible writers. For example, we see in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 2, where it points to the book of Hosea 1:1, with the phrase ‘Out of Egypt I called my Son’. The implied meaning is that Jesus (AS) was the ‘Son’ referred to or prophesied in this Verse. But if we consider the proper context, we see that it refers to Israel as a nation, and that too idol-worshipping Israel. So how does it occur to people that Jesus (AS) could be equated with the idol-worshippers among the Israelites? This is a classic example of taking things out of their proper context, in order to satisfy a certain situation.
o Finally, there is a portion that I think is broken (in context, since it has no formal ending), where Dr. Miller talks about certain points in the Qur’an that add up to convince one that it is indeed the word of God. What I can say is that this is similar to how a speaker would convince any given listener that he has met the listener’s father, even if the listener has never seen his father and the speaker together.
o This is in fact, more or less about as much ‘proof’ one can expect for the primary texts of Islam [i.e. the Qur’an, the Ahaadeeth, etc.]. After all, the veils of the unseen have not been pulled down for us to make a direct ‘examination’ of the Ghayb, but we take what is presented to us in this ‘heavy’ material world of the extraordinary occurrences and happenings at the hands of a Messenger to trust what he tells us about the past, the present, and the future. And this is in fact not against ‘scientific examination’ at all, since there is nothing in the properly conveyed message of true Prophets that goes against anything of the past, present, and future. This is certainly a long topic with many winding roads, but I just wanted to mention this brief matter.
o This is then, the end of this work. I know that there were some weaker points, especially in the ‘scientific’ and ‘numerical’ facets, but I still think that there is a lot of benefit in what brother Njozi did write. Our supplication is that Allah rewards those who properly work for his sake, and that He may help us all to see the truth of Islam and to remain steadfast in his path. Ameen.
 (bpuh) for the author stands for blessings and peace be upon him. I think the more accurate translation for ‘Salla allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam’ is ‘May Allah bless him and grant him peace’, but I will use the words of the author in this work.
 For example, I discussed a number of things in the article: (Draft Work) Commentary on ‘The Incarnation of the Word’
 There is one article on this site briefly looking into this issue at: (Draft Article) Answer to an Objection about the Qur’an and the creation of the world in ‘six days’