Historical Errors In The Quran

Do we point out to a Muslim errors in the Quran?

We should exercise caution when we point out to a Muslim errors in the Quran. This is because it can easily turn him off and forgo your chance of continued discussions with him. It is best to bring out such topics bit-by-bit and only when you have gained his trust or friendship. We should ask the Holy Spirit to give us guidance as to when is a good time to bring up such topics.

Is it necessary to bring out errors in the Quran? Some people feel that this is only counterproductive. It is debatable but my opinion is that if the Muslim feels that his religion is so perfect, there is no need to receive yours. There must be some dissatisfaction with his religion to cause him to want to give it up and receive Jesus.

What sort of errors are most important to point out?

Western apologists can come up with many errors in the Quran that can be brought to the attention of Muslims. But we need to be selective.

If a Muslim is from a poor background, without access to historical documents, it may not be fruitful to point out historical errors in the Quran to them.

Sometimes the errors arise from a historical error when the Quran (a later source) contradicts Bible records (an earlier source). Historians generally consider the older document more authentic. Yet it would be difficult to bring this case to a Muslim who is programmed to believe that if there is any discrepancy, the Bible and not the Quran is the one in error.

Therefore, the best types of errors to bring out may be those that are evident from reading the Quran itself e.g. internal contradictions, contradictions of widely known facts, etc.

What do errors in the Quran prove?

Errors in the Quran prove that it is not the word of God. The Quran itself states that its freedom from error is proof of its divine origin. It goes to say that if we can find errors, the Quran cannot be the Word of God.

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

[82] Maka apakah mereka tidak memperhatikan Al Qur’an? Kalau kiranya Al Qur’an itu bukan dari sisi Allah, tentulah mereka mendapat pertentangan yang banyak di dalamnya.Internal contradictions

Errors of contradiction

Marrying up to four wives

The Quran allows the marrying of up to four wives if a man believes that he can treat them fairly.

Surah 4: 3. If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice.

4:3 Dan jika kamu takut tidak akan dapat berlaku adil terhadap (hak-hak) perempuan yatim (bilamana kamu mengawininya), maka kawinilah wanita-wanita (lain) yang kamu senangi: dua, tiga atau empat. Kemudian jika kamu takut tidak akan dapat berlaku adil, maka (kawinilah) seorang saja, atau budak-budak yang kamu miliki. Yang demikian itu adalah lebih dekat kepada tidak berbuat aniaya.

But it says in another place that there is NO WAY you are able to treat your wives fairly.

Surah 4: 129. Ye are never able to be fair and just as between women, even if it is your ardent desire: But turn not away (from a woman) altogether, so as to leave her (as it were) hanging (in the air). If ye come to a friendly understanding, and practise self- restraint, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

[129] Dan kamu sekali-kali tidak akan dapat berlaku adil di antara istri- istri (mu), walaupun kamu sangat ingin berbuat demikian, karena itu janganlah kamu terlalu cenderung (kepada yang kamu cintai), sehingga kamu biarkan yang lain terkatung-katung. Dan jika kamu mengadakan perbaikan dan memelihara diri (dari kecurangan), maka sesungguhnya Allah Maha Pengampun lagi Maha Penyayang.

Muslim response

Yusuf Ali writes, “Legally more than one wife (up to four) are permissible on the condition that the man can be perfectly fair and just to all. But this is a condition almost impossible to fulfil.”

Christian response

The verse does not say that being fair to all your wives is almost impossible for fulfil. It says as a fact it is impossible. If man cannot have more than one wife unless he can be fair to all (Surah 4:3), and it is impossible for man to be fair to all his wives (Surah 4:29) why does the Quran contradict itself and still permit man to do so?

Mary’s fasting and abstinence from talking

Surah 19

22. So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place.

23. And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree: She cried (in her anguish): “Ah! would that I had died before this! would that I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight!”

24. But (a voice) cried to her from beneath the (palm-tree): “Grieve not! for thy Lord hath provided a rivulet beneath thee;

25. “And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree: It will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee.

26. “So eat and drink and cool (thine) eye. And if thou dost see any man, say, ‘I have vowed a fast to ((Allah)) Most Gracious, and this day will I enter into not talk with any human being'”

[22] Maka Maryam mengandungnya, lalu ia menyisihkan diri dengan kandungannya itu ke tempat yang jauh.

[23] Maka rasa sakit akan melahirkan anak memaksa ia (bersandar) pada pangkal pohon kurma, ia berkata: “Aduhai, alangkah baiknya aku mati sebelum ini, dan aku menjadi sesuatu yang tidak berarti, lagi dilupakan”.

[24] Maka Jibril menyerunya dari tempat yang rendah: “Janganlah kamu bersedih hati, sesungguhnya Tuhanmu telah menjadikan anak sungai di bawahmu.

[25] Dan goyanglah pangkal pohon kurma itu ke arahmu, niscaya pohon itu akan menggugurkan buah kurma yang masak kepadamu.

[26] Maka makan, minum dan bersenang hatilah kamu. Jika kamu melihat seorang manusia, maka katakanlah: “Sesungguhnya aku telah bernazar berpuasa untuk Tuhan Yang Maha Pemurah, maka aku tidak akan berbicara dengan seorang Manusia pun pada hari ini”.

How can Mary say that she is fasting when she was eating? And how can she say anything to anyone after she had vowed to Allah not to talk to any human being.

Muslim response

The fast here does not refer to abstinence from eating and drinking; it refers to abstinence from household meals and sexual relations.

Christian response

The Arabic word here for fasting is “sama”. It appears 14 times in the Quran and in all occasions it refers to abstinence from food.

Quran revealed at once or in stages?

Quran was revealed in stages “(It is) a Quran which We have divided, (into parts from time to time) in order that thou mightest recite to men at intervals: We have revealed it by stages.” Surah 17:106

106] Dan Al Qur’an itu telah Kami turunkan dengan berangsur-angsur agar kamu membacakannya perlahan-lahan kepada manusia dan Kami menurunkannya bagian demi bagian.

See also Surah 25:32

But the Quran was also revealed all at once!

Surah 97:1. We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power:

Surah 97[1] Sesungguhnya Kami telah menurunkannya (Al Qur’an) pada malam kemuliaan.

“Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Quran, as a Guide [Hudaa] to Mankind.” Surah 2:185

See also Surah 44:3

Muslim response

Muslims go round this problem by saying that the Quran was revealed at once but that document stayed in the lower heaven. From the lower heaven it was revealed to Muhammad in stages.

Christian response

How can the Quran be called a guide to Mankind when it is stuck in the lower heaven?

If the Quran was revealed at once, it contains both abrogated verses and abrogating verses. Why would God reveal a document like that?

Muslim response

Yusuf Ali suggested that Night of Power should be interpreted in the mystic sense because of 97:3, which says that “The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.”

[3] Malam kemuliaan itu lebih baik dari seribu bulan.

According to him, the Night of Power transcends time.

Christian response

Surah 97:3 does not say that the Night of Power transcends time. It says that it is so wonderful; it is better than a thousand months.

Is intercession allowed?

Surah 2:254. O ye who believe! Spend out of (the bounties) We have provided for you, before the Day comes when no bargaining (Will avail), nor friendship nor intercession. Those who reject Faith they are the wrong-doers

[254] Hai orang-orang yang beriman, belanjakanlah (di jalan Allah) sebagian dari rezeki yang telah Kami berikan kepadamu sebelum datang hari yang pada hari itu tidak ada lagi jual beli dan tidak ada lagi persahabatan yang akrab dan tidak ada lagi syafaat. Dan orang-orang kafir itulah orang-orang yang lalim.

See also Surah 2:48, 123; 39:44; 6:51,70; 31:4

Other verses, however, say that intercession is possible.

“None shall have the power of intercession but such a one as has received permission (or promise) from (Allah) Most Gracious.” Surah 19:87

[87] Mereka tidak berhak mendapat syafaat kecuali orang yang telah mengadakan perjanjian di sisi Tuhan Yang Maha Pemurah.

Other verses – Surah 10:3; 20:109, 21:28; 34:23; 53:26

Muslim response

Some Muslims believe that intercession is not allowed UNTIL the last day (i.e. Day of Judgment).

Christian response

There are verses that show intercession in NOT ALLOWED on the Day of Judgment and verses to show that it is ALLOWED.

What about the hadiths? What does it teach about intercession?

The hadiths state that Muhammad is unable to intercede for his followers.

Sahih Bukkhari Volume 4, Book 51, Number 16:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

When Allah revealed the Verse: “Warn your nearest kinsmen,” Allah’s Apostle got up and said, “O people of Quraish (or said similar words)! Buy (i.e. save) yourselves (from the Hellfire) as I cannot save you from Allah’s Punishment; O Bani Abd Manaf! I cannot save you from Allah’s Punishment, O Safiya, the Aunt of Allah’s Apostle! I cannot save you from Allah’s Punishment; O Fatima bint Muhammad! Ask me anything from my wealth, but I cannot save you from Allah’s Punishment.”

This contradiction in the Quran has brought about differing views within Muslims.

Many Muslims believed that Muhammad will interceed for them on the day of judgment. However, there are also others who view this as shirk (idolatry)

Narrated Jabir bin ‘Abdullah:

Allah’s Apostle said, “Whoever after listening to the Adhan says, ‘Allahumma Rabba hadhihi-d-da’ watit-tammati was-salatil qa’imati, ati Muhammadan al-wasilata wal-fadilata, wab’ athhu maqaman mahmudan-il-ladhi wa’ adtahu (O Allah! Lord of this perfect call (of not ascribing partners to You) and of the regular prayer which is going to be established! Kindly give Muhammad the right of intercession and superiority and send him (on the Day of Judgment) to the best and the highest place in Paradise which You promised him)’, then intercession for me will be permitted for him on the Day of Resurrection”). (Sahih Bukhari 1.588, also Sahih Bukhari 2.553)

On the other hand, there are others like the Khalifites who do not believe in intercession. They argue that intercession belongs only to God (az-Zumar 39:44), on the Last Day there will be no intercession, (al-Baqarah 2:254), that the prophets cannot intercede except on behalf of those already saved by God (al-Anbiya’ 21:28), that the prophets themselves worry about their own fate. See also al-Baqarah 2:48,123; al-An`am 6:51,70,94; al-A`raf 7:53; at-Taubah 9:80,114; Yunus 10:3; Hud 11:46; al-Lahab 111:1-3. They argued that since neither Noah, Abraham nor Muhammed could intercede on the behalf of their own loved ones, how could Muhammad intercede for others.

al-Baqarah 2:48,123; al-An`am 6:51,70,95; Yunus 10:4,19; Saba’ 34:23; az-Zumar 39:43; an-Najm 53:26 

How was Jesus created?

Adam and Jesus

The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: “Be”: and he was (Surat Al-Imran 3:59).

Adam was not created by the word “Be” but by the breath of Allah

Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: “I am about to create man from clay: when I have fashioned him and breathed into him of My Spirit, fall ye down in prostration unto him” (Surat Sad 38:70,71).

Jesus was not conceived by the word “Be”

And Mary [mother of Jesus] the daughter of Imran, who guarded her virginity (literal translation); and We breathed into [her body] of our spirit; and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and of his revelations, and was one of the devout [servants] (Surat Al-Tahrim 66:12).

How do the wicked receive the record of their sinful lives on Judgment Day?

One part of the Quran says that they will receive them behind their back while another part says that they will receive them on their left hand.

Surah 84:10. But he who is given his Record behind his back,-

11. Soon will he cry for perdition,

12. And he will enter a Blazing Fire.

Surah 69:25. And he that will be given his Record in his left hand, will say: “Ah! Would that my Record had not been given to me!

26. “And that I had never realised how my account (stood)!

27. “Ah! Would that (Death) had made an end of me!

Muslim response : It is handed to the evil doers in their left hands behind their backs. For example, in Sahih Al-Bukhari, in the chapter of “Tafseer Al-Qur’an,” regarding Al-Inshiqaq(84):10: “But whosoever is given his book in his left hand..” Al-Bukhari narrates that Mujahid explained “..in his left behind his back” The are also other hadeeths of the prophet in this regard such as the one narrated by the prophet’s wife Aisha (pbut) in Musnad Ahmad, chapter of “Al-Sunnah.”

Is there compulsion in religion?

Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error (Surat Al-Baqarah 2:256).

Unto you your religion and unto me my religion (Surat Al-Kafirun 109:6).

There are also many verses in the Quran which suggest otherwise.

Killing is permitted to force people to accept Islam. 

Surah 8 : 38. Say to the Unbelievers, if (now) they desist (from Unbelief), their past would be forgiven them; but if they persist, the punishment of those before them is already (a matter of warning for them).

39. And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere; but if they cease, verily Allah doth see all that they do.

YUSUFALI: Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who reject Faith Fight in the cause of Evil: So fight ye against the friends of Satan: feeble indeed is the cunning of Satan.

YUSUFALI: Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): “I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.”

Who was the first to preach to the Arabs?

Ishmael is looked upon as a prophet in the quran (Sura 19:55 ff.; 4:161; 6:86; 21:85; 34:48).

YUSUFALI: Also mention in the Book (the story of) Isma’il: He was (strictly) true to what he promised, and he was a messenger (and) a prophet.

That being the case, Muhammad cannot be called the first and the only prophet to the Arabs. According to the quran, Abraham and Ishmael who built the Käaba were prophets to the Arabs long before the prophet Muhammad-who came only as a reformer and renewer of the religion of Abraham (Sura 74:2; 33:40).

But this fact goes against the teaching of the quran that God had not sent an admonisher to the Arabs before the prophet Muhammad (Sura 32:3; 34:44).

YUSUFALI: Or do they say, “He has forged it”? Nay, it is the Truth from thy Lord, that thou mayest admonish a people to whom no warner has come before thee: in order that they may receive guidance.

Surah 34

43. When Our Clear Signs are rehearsed to them, they say, “This is only a man who wishes to hinder you from the (worship) which your fathers practised.” And they say, “This is only a falsehood invented!” and the Unbelievers say of the Truth when it comes to them, “This is nothing but evident magic!”

44. But We had not given them Books which they could study, nor sent apostles to them before thee as Warners.

It is still arguable that the Arabs did not have any Books as they were with the Jews. But no warner?

Will Christians be saved?

And nearest among them in love to the believers [the Muslims] wilt thou find those who say “we are Christians” because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant” (Surat Al-Maidah 5:82).

We sent after them Jesus the son of Mary, and bestowed on him the Gospel; and we ordained in the hearts of those who followed him compassion and mercy (Surat Al-Hadid 57:27).

We did aforetime grant to the children of Israel the Book, the power of command, and prophethood; We gave them, for sustenance, things good and pure; and We favoured them above all nations (Surat Al-Jathiyah 45:16).

Muhammad’s attitude towards the Christians completely turned at a later stage.

YUSUFALI: O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust.
PICKTHAL: O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He among you who taketh them for friends is (one) of them. Lo! Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk.

The Christians’ attitude towards Muhammad had always been the same; they never accepted him as one of their prophets. If God had revealed the Quran, would he not have known that the Christians would not end up accepting Muhammad? Then why were there praises of Christians?

On the other hand, Muhammad did not know the Christians would never accept him. That was why he started off with praises for them and later turn 180% around and speak against them when it became clear that they would not accept him.

Will the Jews be saved?

This verse says that those who follow the Jewish scriptures are saved.

Those who believe [in the Koran] and those who follow the Jewish [Scriptures] and the Christians and the Sabians, any who believe in Allah and the last days, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve (Surat Al-Baqarah 2:62).

This verse says that Jews are not saved because of their wrong doctrines eg calling Uzair (Ezra) son of God.

The Jews call Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; [in this] they but imitate what the infidels (literal translation) of old used to say. Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the truth (Surat Al-Tawbah 9:30).

Will Jesus burn in hell?

According to the Quran, Jesus will be exalted in this World and also the Next.

Surah 3:45. Behold! the angels said: “O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah.

This means that Jesus will be honored in Paradise with God. But it contradicts another verse that suggests that Jesus will be in hell.

When Muhammad ascended into heaven, he also met Jesus.

However, the next verse says that if Christians worship Jesus as a false god, then that false god (e.g. Jesus) should also be in hell together with the Christians.

Surah 21

98. Verily ye, (unbelievers), and the (false) gods that ye worship besides Allah, are (but) fuel for Hell! to it will ye (surely) come!

99. If these had been gods, they would not have got there! but each one will abide therein.

What sinners are made to drink in hell

Surah 78

21. Truly Hell is as a place of ambush,

22. For the transgressors a place of destination:

23. They will dwell therein for ages.

24. Nothing cool shall they taste therein, nor any drink,

25. Save a boiling fluid and a fluid, dark, murky, intensely cold,

How can boiling fluid be intensely cold?

Historical errors
One reason why the Jews did not accept Muhammad as their prophet

Both the Jews and the Christians rejected him and his revelations. They laughed at the errors they detected in his versions of biblical stories.

Moses and the Injil.

In Surah 7:155-157, the Quran says that Allah spoke to Moses about the Jews who will find mention about Muhammad in the Inji. (Gospel). But the Injil has not even been revealed yet. Muslims believe that the Injil was revealed to Jesus who is born more than 1,000 years after Moses.

Surah 7:155. And Moses chose seventy of his people for Our place of meeting: when they were seized with violent quaking, he prayed: “O my Lord! if it had been Thy will Thou couldst have destroyed, long before, both them and me: wouldst Thou destroy us for the deeds of the foolish ones among us? this is no more than Thy trial: by it Thou causest whom Thou wilt to stray, and Thou leadest whom Thou wilt into the right path. Thou art our Protector: so forgive us and give us Thy mercy; for Thou art the best of those who forgive.

156. “And ordain for us that which is good, in this life and in the Hereafter: for we have turned unto Thee.” He said: “With My punishment I visit whom I will; but My mercy extendeth to all things. That (mercy) I shall ordain for those who do right, and practise regular charity, and those who believe in Our signs;-

157. “Those who follow the apostle, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (scriptures),- in the law and the Gospel;- for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good (and pure) and prohibits them from what is bad (and impure); He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him, honour him, help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him,- it is they who will prosper.”

158. day: “O men! I am sent unto you all, as the Messenger of Allah, to Whom belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth: there is no god but He: it is He That giveth both life and death. So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the Unlettered Prophet, who believeth in Allah and His words: follow him that (so) ye may be guided.”

159. Of the people of Moses there is a section who guide and do justice in the light of truth.

160. We divided them into twelve tribes or nations. We directed Moses by inspiration, when his (thirsty) people asked him for water: “Strike the rock with thy staff”: out of it there gushed forth twelve springs: Each group knew its own place for water. We gave them the shade of clouds, and sent down to them manna and quails, (saying): “Eat of the good things We have provided for you”: (but they rebelled); to Us they did no harm, but they harmed their own souls.

First Muslim response : In 7:156 one topic has been concluded, and in 7:157 a new one has begun. They are speaking about two different time periods. The new topic has moved from the time of prophet Moses (pbuh) to the time of prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and is describing those who “follow the unlettered prophet (Muhammad, pbuh) whom they find written in the Torah and the injeel that is with them.” Neither is God speaking to Moses in this verse nor is it even addressed to those who lived in that age. If so, then how can they be expected to “follow” prophet Muhammad (pbuh) if he has not even been born yet? I suppose that according to this logic that it shall be acceptable to claim that Deut. 18:18-19 is commanding prophet Moses (pbuh) and the Jews that are with him to follow a new prophet who is present in their time?

Christian response : It is difficult to see how the topic has shifted from Moses’ time to Muhammad’s time when verses 159 and 160 is still talking about Moses and his people. It is also not possible to argue that Moses could not be talking about Muhammad since Muhammad was not yet born because Muslims believe that Moses foretold the coming of Muhammad. If Moses foretold Muhammad’s coming, it would have to be foretold before Muhammad was born. Therefore it is possible for verse 157 to mean that Moses was foretelling the the coming of Muhammad to his people. What is incorrect is the Quran making Moses say that the prophet will be the one mentioned in their Gospel.

Let’s look at what Deut 18:18-19 has to say. “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account.”

No one says that Deut 18:18-19 talks about a prophet who is present at that time. The verse says God will do something in the future (“I will raise”). Likewise, no one is saying that Moses talks about Muhammad being present at his time. Christians are only saying that Muhammad was the one God spoke to in verse 157 that God will raise up a Prophet in some future time. This is in itself not a problem but the problem is with the Quran making Allah say that this prophet is found in the Injil that the people already has (“which they find mentioned”), which cannot be true.

Second Muslim response : We should realize that this is God telling Moses(pbuh) that Muhammad(pbuh) will be found in the Tawrah (Torah) and Injil (Gospel). If the past tense seems confusing, it shouldn’t. Arabic and Hebrew both used past tense when prophecies were mentioned.

Christian response : This interpretation runs into difficulty because the word Gospel is used to describe the revelations given to Jesus.

Surah 57:27. Then, in their wake, We followed them up with (others of) Our apostles: We sent after them Jesus the son of Mary, and bestowed on him the Gospel.

It is a specific word that would not be known to Moses or the people of his time. Neither would the word make any sense to the people. Therefore Moses could not have used that word which the Quran would have us believe he did.

Haman the Prime Minister of Pharaoh

According to the quran, Haman was prime minister for the pharaoh who ruled Egypt when Moses sought the deliverance of his people (Sura 28:8,38; 40:36). However, the Bible states that Haman was a top official in the court of Ahasuerus in the kingdom of Persia. Archeological research shows that the Persian kingdom flourished around four centuries before Christ. In contrast, the pharaoh whom Moses confronted lived about fifteen centuries before Christ.

Visit to farthest mosque impossible

Glory to (Allah)
Who did take His Servant for a journey by night,
From the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque.
— Sura 17:1

Problem: The Farthest Mosque (Al-Masjid-ul-Aqs-a) was built many years after the death of Muhammad. It is utterly impossible that Muhammad visited it on his Night Journey.

“When the Arabs conquered Jerusalem they found the Temple Mount abandoned and filled with refuse. … `Umar ordered it cleaned and performed a prayer there. The sanctuary [the Dome of the Rock] … was built by Caliph `Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan around 72/691.”[1] The al-Aqsa mosque proper, also located on the Temple Mount was as well built at the end of the 7th Century.[2]

The Temple of Solomon had been completely destroyed in 70 AD, i.e. 550 years before the alleged time of the Miraj in 622 AD, the twelfth year of Muhammad’s mission. A Temple that didn’t exist anymore does not provide any better solution to this problem than a Mosque which wasn’t built yet.

At the time this verse was revealed [about 622] Jerusalem was not in the hand of the Muslims but in Christian hand and there was no Mosque at all in this place (not even a church). The Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque (both on the site of Solomon’s Temple which had been destroyed A.D. 70 by the Romans) were only began to be build 53 years after the death of Muhammad.

Could it be that later history was “projected back” into the text of the Qur’an and is this one indication that the text of the Qur’an was changed (or even completely written only) long after Muhammad’s time when these historical realities were not clear to the writer?

For this reason some Muslims are quick to acknowledge that the “Farthest Mosque” has to refer to something else than what is known under this name today. In Yusuf Ali’s commentary on this verse we read: “The Farthest Mosque must refer to the site of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem…” So, it is interpreted to be not the building itself, but only the site, the location where it had been. I might be wrong, but this seems to be contradicted by a hadith and Muhammad’s understanding that Al-Masjid-ul-Aqs-a is something that is built, not just a location. Al-Masjid-ul-Haram after all was a building.

Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 636:

Narrated Abu Dhaar:

I said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Which mosque was built first?” He replied, “Al-Masjid-ul-Haram.” I asked, “Which (was built) next?” He replied, “Al-Masjid-ul-Aqs-a (i.e. Jerusalem).” I asked, “What was the period in between them?” He replied, “Forty (years).” He then added, “Wherever the time for the prayer comes upon you, perform the prayer, for all the earth is a place of worshipping for you.”

This hadith actually introduces yet another problem. Abraham supposedly (re)built the Kaaba, (and Abraham lived about 2000 BC) and the Temple was built by Solomon in about 958-951 BC, then Muhammad gave another historically false information based on a major confusion about the time when these people lived.

Side remark: Farthest? If it is not just a name, but actually supposed to describe a distance then from the perspective of Mekka or Medina, Mosques in Bagdad for example were sure farther away than Jerusalem and this is wrong too. No “mosque” and not “farthest”.

But should the Temple itself or Churches qualify to be called “mosques” then for sure, it was not the farthest. The Hagia Sophia, originally a church and also converted into a Mosque later is in Istanbul and much farther away.

Also one might ask the question: If Islam supposedly was the original religion of mankind, why were there not many mosques all around and one so very near to Mekka has to be called “farthest”?

{C} {C}

No one has the name “John” before John the Baptist?

No one before him has the same name, Maryam 19.7.

YUSUFALI: (His prayer was answered): “O Zakariya! We give thee good news of a son: His name shall be Yahya: on none by that name have We conferred distinction before.”
PICKTHAL: (It was said unto him): O Zachariah! Lo! We bring thee tidings of a son whose name is John; we have given the same name to none before (him).

However, we read of a Johanan in 1 Kings 25:23, 1 Chronicles 3:15, 24, 6:9, 10, Ezra 8:12, etc. In fact, there are 27 instances of the name “Johanan” mentioned in the Old Testament. The Hasmonean Dynasty ruled Palestine in the century before John the Baptist appeared on the scene. Palestine at that time was very Hellenized and Greek became the main language. One of the priest-king of the Hasmonean Dynasty was John Hyrcanus, well attested to in many historical and classical sources. Josephus talks about a John the Essene who served as a general of the rebel force in Timna (Jewish War, 2.125). 1 Maccabees 2:1 tells us of “Mattathias son of John son of Simeon”. Mattathias also has a son called John (1 Maccebees 2:2). John’s brother, Judas, led the Jews in rebellion against Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Simon also has a son named John (1 Maccebees 16:19). All these Johns lived before John the Baptist. John was indeed a very common name.

Yusuf Ali, however, translates this verse as:

“on none by that name have We conferred distinction before.”

His explanation is that “… for we read of a Johanan … in Kings 25:23.” In other words, Yusuf Ali know that the verse is historically incorrect, and therefore changed the translation, or that he thought that the Quran verse does not mean what it literally means? How can one take such liberty in translation? And in doing so, it casts a great deal of doubt upon the accuracy of his translations and his intentions.

Egyptians utterly destroyed?

Surah 25

35. (Before this,) We sent Moses The Book, and appointed his brother Aaron with him as minister;

36. And We command: “Go ye both, to the people who have rejected our Signs:” And those (people) We destroyed with utter destruction.

37. And the people of Noah,- when they rejected the apostles, We drowned them, and We made them as a Sign for mankind; and We have prepared for (all) wrong-doers a grievous Penalty;-

38. As also ‘Ad and Thamud, and the Companions of the Rass, and many a generation between them.

39. To each one We set forth Parables and examples; and each one We broke to utter annihilation (for their sins).

It is generally agreed between Muslims and Christians that the people of Noah were completely destroyed by a flood. We know very little about Ad and Samood (Thammud) or “the dwellers of the Rass” but I will not contest that they completely disappeared, since we don’t know today of any who are their descendents. Often it is not even clear who they even were.

However, both Muslims and Christians agree that Moses and Aaron were sent to Israel and to the Egyptians with their message.

The Qur’an summarizes the section 25:35-39 in ayah 39 with the statement that all those mentioned were completely destroyed.

But neither Israel nor the people of Egypt were completely destroyed. It seems the writer of the Qur’an got carried a way with his doomsday warnings and made this point by far too strong when we look at history and to the people of Israel and the Egyptians. They have continued to exist from the time of Moses to this day. The Egyptians were not utterly destroyed. They lost one or more army units which were chasing after the Israelites under the command of Pharaoh, and which were drowned by a miracle from God as reported in both the Bible and the Qur’an. But most of the Egyptian people were not touched, nor even most of the leaders of Egypt, since it is unlikely that they all went with the army that went after the Israelites.

This is a plain historical error. Should we think it was God who overlooked the continued existence of the Egyptians when formulating those verses? Hardly! Even Muhammad should not have overlooked it, but he got to carried away in his attempt to scare the Meccans into accepting his message (see the punchline of this section in Surah 25:41-42).

Moses and the Samaritan?

The Qur’an says that the calf worshipped by the Israelites at mount Horeb was molded by a Samaritan.

He [Allah] said, “We have tempted thy people since thou didst leave them. The Samaritan has led them into error.” Then Moses returned …… and we cast them [(gold) ornaments], as the Samaritan also threw them, into the fire.” (Then he brought out for them a Calf, a mere body that lowed; and they said, “This is your god, and the god of Moses, whom he has forgotten.”) …
Moses said, “And thou, Samaritan, what was thy business?” …
— surah 20:85-88, 95

How can a Samaritan (or people of Samaria) have led the Israelites astray at the time of Moses [about 1400 B.C.] when the city of Samaria was founded only founded few hundred of years after Moses’ death? We know that King Omri founded Samaria during his reign and he reigned between 876 – 869 B.C.

(1 Ki 16:23-24 NIV)  In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned twelve years, six of them in Tirzah. {24} He bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer for two talents of silver and built a city on the hill, calling it Samaria, after Shemer, the name of the former owner of the hill.

The city of Samaria was first built on a hill overlooking a main road to Jerusalem, the capital of King David. It was chosen by Omri, king of Israel (reigned 876-869 BC), who made it the capital of the northern kingdom. (Source : Encarta encyclopedia)

Hence, it is historically impossible that someone from Samaria could have led the Israelites into idolatry in the time of Moses.

The first Muslim response to this difficulty is to change the word “Samaritan” to “Samiri”.

It is interesting to notice that while Yusuf Ali attempts to change this word to “Samiri” and Pickthall to “As Samirii.” Arberry in the English, and Kasimirski in the French both translate it “Samaritan.” Yusuf Ali, in his footnotes, stretches his explanation and say that the name could mean “Shemer,” which denotes a stranger, or “Shomer,” which means a watchman, the equivalent of “Samara” in Arabic, which he implies is close enough to the “Samari” he is looking for. But the Arabic simply does not give Ali the leeway to concoct other meanings for this word. To be consistent with the Arabic he should keep his translation consistent with the text, as Arberry and Kasimirski have done.

Even the Dictionary of Islam agrees that the term refers to someone from Samaria. According to Thomas Patrick Hughes’ “Dictionary of Islam”, page 564, al-Baidawi says [about as-Samiri] that his name is Musa ibn Zafar, of the tribe of Samaritans.

If “as-Samirii” does not mean “the Samaritan”, how else would you express “Samaritan” in Arabic? There is still to this day a small Samaritan community in the Middle East. How are they called in Arabic? Every once in a while, knowledgeable Arab Muslims who have not yet been exposed to this apologetical argument naturally confirm that “as-Saamiri” indeed means “the Samaritan”. It never crossed their mind that this would mean anything else.

The second Muslim reponse states that the origin of the word “samartan” cannot be determined even from the Bible. Muslims quote the Encyclopaedia Judaica which states that  “Little guidance is obtained from the name of the Samaritans. The Bible uses the name Shomronim once, in II Kings 17:29, but this probably means Samarians rather than Samaritans. The Samaritans themselves do not use the name at all; they have long called themselves Shamerin; i.e., “keepers” or “observers” of the truth = al ha-amet, both the short and long forms being in constant use in their chronicles. They take the name Shomronim to mean in habitants of the town of Samaria built by Omri (cf. I Kings 16:24), where the probable origin of the word Shomronim is to be found).

This argument, however, misses the point. Even if it is true that 2 kings 17:29 should not have used “samaritan” but rather “samarian” or a more generic “people of Samaria”, it does not avoid the problem. The problem is that the city of Samaria did not exist until around AD 870 and whether you call the people “Samaritan” or “Samarian” or “people of Samaria” is irrelevant because they simply did not exist before AD 870.

The third Muslim response tries to prove that the Samartans existed as early as the 17th century B.C. The Encyclopaedia Judaica (under Samaritans) states “that until the middle of the 20th century it was widely believed that the Samaritans originated from a mixed race people living in Samaria at the time of the Assyrian conquest (722 B.C.). In recent years however, new research based on the study of the Chronicles of the Samaritans has led to a re-evaluation of their origins:

Until the middle of the 20th Century it was customary to believe that the Samaritans originated from a mixture of the people living in Samaria and other peoples at the time of the conquest of Samaria by Assyria (722/1 B.C.E.). The Biblical account of in II Kings 17 had long been the decisive source for the formulation of historical accounts of Samaritan origins. Reconsideration of this passage, however, has led to more attention being paid to the Chronicles of the Samaritans themselves. With the publication of Chronicle II (Sefer ha-Yamim), the fullest Samaritan version of their own history became available: the chronicles, and a variety of non-Samaritan materials.

According to the former, the Samaritans are the direct descendants of the Joseph tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh, and until the 17th century C.E. they possessed a high priesthood descending directly from Aaron through Eleazar and Phinehas. They claim to have continuously occupied their ancient territory in central Palestine and to have been at peace with other Israelite tribes until the time when Eli disrupted the Northern cult by moving from Shechem to Shiloh and attracting some northern Israelites to his new cult there. For the Samaritans, this was the ‘schism’ par excellence.

If the Samaritans trace their origins from the time of Joseph’s descendants, then they were certainly in existence in the time of Moses! Furthermore, even to this day the Samaritans still claim descent from the the tribe of Joseph.

The reasoning in the paragraph above is flawed. If I find a person that can trace his roots right back to the prophet Muhammad, it is not the same as saying that that person existed during the time of prophet Muhammad. Similarly, just by saying that the Samaritans trace their roots back to Joseph is not at all proof that the Samaritans existed during the time of Joseph in the 17th century B.C.

Mary the sister of Aaron?

In several Suras the Qur’an confuses Mary the mother of Jesus [Miriam in Hebrew] with Miriam the sister of Aaron and Moses, and daughter of Imran (or spelled Amram) which is about 1400 years off.

At length she brought (the babe) to her people, carrying him (in her arms), They said: “O Mary! Truly a strange thing has thou brought! “O sister of Aaron, thy father was not a man of evil, nor your mother a woman unchaste!”
— Sura 19:27-28

And Mary, the daughter of `Imran, …
— Sura 66:12

Yusuf Ali writes in his footnote 2481 commenting on the above verse: “Aaron the brother of Moses was the first in the line of Israelite priesthood. Mary and her cousin Elisabeth (mother of Yahya) came from a priestly family, and were therefore, ‘sisters of Aaron’ or daughter of `Imran (who was Aaron’s father).”

This is faulty reasoning. Only Aaron became a Priest of the Lord and in fact the first High Priest. And only Aaron’s descendents became priests. Neither Moses nor their sister Miriam are ever understood to be in “priestly lineage.” Amram is definitely not a priest. If Mary’s lineage of being part of a priestly family should be stressed then necessarily she would have to be called a daughter of Aaron, since all of Israel’s priests are descendants of Aaron, while his brother and sister are not counted among the priestly line.

I do agree that “father”, “daughter” and “sister” might be used sometimes rather loosely and only indicate a “general family relationship.” Therefore we have to carefully read in each mentioning to see what is meant. And the Qur’an makes clear that the narrow, physical meaning of daughter and (hence) sister is meant in this case as I will demonstrate below. Even if there were no concern about the issue of “priestly” but only such a wider family relationship was in view, why does the Qur’an not say “daughter of Aaron” who is her most famous forefather? Even though “sister” might be used in a wider meaning than a sister within the same immediate family, isn’t it the use even in Islam that “brothers and sisters” live on roughly the same generational level (like cousins) while “father and daughter” signifies a generational difference between the two persons compared? Why are the wives of Muhammad not called the “sisters of the believers” but “the mothers of the believers”? [Today’s believers! – Aisha certainly was not called the mother of ‘Uthman, Umar, Abu Bakr and the other believers of Muhammad’s life time.] For what reason call her sister of the famous Aaron (being 1400 years older than Mary) but daughter of `Imran (Bible: Amram) of whom we know nothing at all apart from the fact that his name is mentioned in the genealogical tables in Exodus 6 and 1 Chronicles 23? This is perfectly clear if the two Miriams were indeed confused. But the attempts of harmonization don’t really sound very logical.

The above points are just some “minor questions”. The big problem is that the Qur’an is explicitely not talking about wider clan relationships as we see in the following verse.

Behold! wife of `Imran said: “O my Lord! I do dedicate unto Thee what is in my womb for Thy special service … When she was delivered, she said: “O my Lord! Behold! I am delivered of a female child!” … “… I have named her Mary …”
— Sura 3:35-36

Muslims are usually very particular about whose wife a woman is and it is definitely not allowed that just anybody can have sex with a woman only because he is a “wider relative of hers.” If Mary is the female child that came out of the womb of the wife of `Imran, then she is the direct daughter of `Imran and there is no question that the theory of “far descendency” is contradicted by the Qur’an itself.

Yusuf Ali in his footnote 375 to Sura 3:35 even goes so far to invent (?) a second `Imran by claiming that “by tradition Mary’s mother was called Hannah … and her father was called `Imran,” in order to somehow save the Qur’an from this contradiction. But the same tradition that calls Mary’s mother Hanna, also gives the name of her husband as Joachim. Why would Y. Ali accept one part of this tradition (e.g. in the Proto-Evangelion of James the Lesser) and reject the other? Yusuf Ali does not give any reference for this “tradition” he refers to. Until I see any reference to that, there is no reason to accept this theory. As to my current knowledge there is no such tradition that predates Muhammad. Some Muslim commentators might have made something up later to explain this very problem, but such a late theory / “tradition” is not very credible.

And a last question: Is there any other instance in the Qur’an where a person is consistently called daughter [son] or sister [brother] of people which are only wider relatives? Even if there was to be one name in the clan so overpowering that everybody is named in his or her relationship to that one person, it is doubly improbable that anybody would be named always after two distant relatives in the place of “father” and “brother”, and never be mentioned in relationship to his or her real parents’ or brothers’ names. If this is the only instant then the Muslim explanation is even more strained since ad hoc explanations, i.e. explanations which serve no other purpose than to explain away this one problem but are not used anywhere else are not very credible. It does appear to be such an artificial reasoning in this case. And the fact that Aaron is indeed `Imran’s son and this is a direct and correct genealogical relationship, also indicates that the rest is understood as daughter and sister in the normal everyday sense.

Thomas Patrick Hughes in his “Dictionary of Islam”, page 328, writes on this issue that “it is certainly a cause of some perplexity to the commentators. Al-Baidawi says she was called `sister of Aaron’ because she was of Levitical race; but Husain says that the Aaron mentioned in the verse is not the same person as the brother of Moses.”

As always, conflicting explanations are evidence that there is indeed a problem and no one clear and satisfactory solution is available.

Note: Moses and Aaron are called “Musa ibn `Imran” and “Harun ibn `Imran” in the Hadiths, just the same way as Mary is called “Maryam ibnat `Imran” in Sura 66:12.

Crucifixion in Egypt?

Various passages tell the story that Pharaoh’s sorcerers believe in the signs and message of Moses, and then Pharaoh tries to threaten them with these words (Shakir’s translation):

I will certainly cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides, then will I crucify you all together. [Surah 7:124]

Said he: You believe in him before I give you permission; most surely he is the chief of you who taught you the magic, so you shall know: certainly I will cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides, and certainly I will crucify you all. [Surah 26:49]

In the story of Joseph, about 400 years earlier we also read of another crucifixion in this passage:

O my two mates of the prison! as for one of you, he shall give his lord to drink wine; and as for the other, he shall be crucified, so that the birds shall eat from his head, the matter is decreed concerning which you inquired. [Surah 12:41]

We have, however, no record that Egyptians used crucifixion as punishment in the time of Moses (1450 BC, conservative date; 1200 BC at the latest) or even Joseph (1880 BC, conservative date). Crucifixion only becomes a punishment much later in history and then first in another culture before it has been taken over by the Egyptians. Such threats by a Pharaoh at these times are historically inaccurate.

One authoritative reference is:

“Crucifixion, an important method of capital punishment, particularly among the Persians, Seleucids, Jews, Carthaginians, and Romans [was practiced] from about the 6th century BC to the 4th century AD. Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor, abolished it in the Roman Empire in AD 337, out of veneration for Jesus Christ, the most famous victim of crucifixion. … [The earliest recording of a crucifixion was] in 519 BC [when] Darius I, king of Persia, crucified 3,000 political opponents in Babylon” (Encylopaedia Britannica, 1993, Vol. 3, page 762, WWW EB).

Crucifixion, execution of a criminal by nailing or binding to a cross. It was a common form of capital punishment from the 6th century BC to the 4th century AD, especially among the Persians, Egyptians, Carthaginians, and Romans. (Source : Encarta Encyclopedia)

What the doctrine of trinity is.

The Trinity: In several passages the Qur’an speaks out specifically against “some kind of trinity” [e.g. Sura 5:72-73 and 5:116-118] and believing in it is supposedly one of the worst sins you can commit [shirk = joining other gods with Allah] and it is so bad, that it leads with certainty to hell fire without escape [5:72].

Surah 5: 116. And behold! Allah will say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah.?” He will say: “Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden.

Christians believe that the doctrine of the Trinity is clearly based on the Biblical revelation only. Every reasonable Christian will agree that it took some time of theological reflection on this revelation until the Church came up with a clearly formulated doctrine, but this doctrine is based on the Bible and nothing else.

But even if it were a corruption and not Biblical revelation, – or a doctrine based on a corrupted Bible – the doctrine of the Trinity was finally and clearly formulated about 325 A.D. at the Council of Nicea in the Nicean creed. Since then it has been well publicized and is still the same today. This means especially that doctrine of the Trinity was clearly spelled out about 300 years before Muhammad and the appearance of the Qur’an.

For any religion, it is obviously of utmost importance to be right on the nature of God. Therefore, if it is God’s intention to correct the Christian corruptions and heretical aberrations of the true understanding of Himself by this new revelation through the Qur’an, why does the Qur’an get it so woefully wrong? Why is the Qur’an so concerned to condemn a “tri-theism of God, Mary and Jesus”, which no Christian believes in anyway, instead of clarifying the mistake in regard to the true Christian doctrine, being the “Trinity of God Father, Son and Holy Spirit”? Why condemn something that is just as blasphemous to Christians as it is to Muslims? The Christian Church has never believed in that.

There seem to be some traces of the existence of a heretical group who did believe that Mary was divine which existed in Arabia in the 6th – 7th century. But they were a very small and insignificant group and it is very hard to get much detail about them at all. There is some information about them in the book “God is One in the Holy Trinity” by Zachariah Butros.[1] But in the relationship to the total of Christianity which was the dominant religion this sectarian group was negligible and was to disappear soon.

The question we have to ask is: Why would God choose to speak out in his final and universal revelation against some absolutely insignificant heretical group while totally ignoring the related central doctrine of the largest religion on earth [in Muhammad’s time and today] and at the same time give the impression that he speaks to correct the errors of the CHRISTIANS?

Why is the Qur’an putting in the effort to correct the heretical views of some small sect we really know very little about, and does not answer to the real doctrine of the Christian church?

This interpretation is also not possible since Allah is alleged to have said to Jesus, “Did thou say to men…”. The word for men denotes a big group (like “mankind”) and not some small heretical group.

This observation is particularly strange since those heresies have already been denounced and corrected by the Church herself. After all, the Qur’an DOES insist to be the last (final) and COMPLETE revelation – why is it not dealing with and answering to the very thing it supposedly was coming to correct?

Was God confused and ill-informed about the Christian faith he wanted to correct? I don’t think the true God could plead ignorance after having looked at this Christian doctrine for 300 years prior to the giving of the Qur’an.

It appears to me, we again only have the choice between a Qur’an coming from a confused God or a confused Qur’an that is not coming from the true and all-knowing God.

The first option is obviously a blasphemous thought. God indeed is the All-knowing. I can only think of the following possible and (more or less) reasonable explanations to account for this seemingly “confused revelation”:

The Qur’an has been changed and corrupted. The Qur’an indeed corrected the “real but false Christian doctrine” with clear words but some evil people [Christians?] did change the Qur’an to cover it up in order to render the Qur’an ineffective against Christianity.

The Qur’an is unchanged but it did not originate from the all-knowing God in the first place but instead from a source that was indeed not well-informed in regard to the true doctrine of the Trinity.

But since the Qur’an seemingly is pretty well preserved and God is definitely not confused, the only sensible explanation seems to be that the author was just not well informed in regard to the true Christian doctrine of the Trinity and nature of Christ. This is (in my eyes) the most natural explanation. Muhammad has spoken out against a bad misunderstanding of the doctrine of the Trinity (which might or might not be just his own misunderstanding.) He was justified to be appalled by it. He spoke out against this heretical understanding and was right to do so. But he has not answered to true Christianity. On this basis I can acknowledge Muhammad’s sincerity in speaking out against idolatry, but I cannot accept him as speaking with a message from God. Muhammad had a good grasp of “what cannot be true”, but he didn’t understand what the Bible says “is true”.

I tend to believe the last paragraph is the best explanation of those alternatives I can see and which have listed above, but since I heard another one just recently, I want to include it for completeness sake.

This other possibility is that Muhammad did indeed understand the Christian doctrine, but uses the time honored approach of building up a straw man which is so much easier to knock down than the true teaching of Christianity:

Riducule the other side and collect “the cheering crowd” as your followers. This is the successful method of politicians who say, that the effort needed to present good arguments is a waste of time, because most people wouldn’t even be able to follow a deep argument [and therefore not vote for the one who is so clearly “not understanding ‘the common man'”], and since the vote of an uncritical follower is worth just as much as the vote of a deeply thinking one [at least in a democracy], so let’s go for the method that appeals to the masses. And that sadly is “knocking down strawmen” as everybody can observe daily on TV. And strangly enough, also today many Muslims say their doctrine of God is true because it is easier than the “complicated” doctrine of the Trinity. But simplicity or complexity is not a criterion for truth in itself, or all the strawman arguments would be satisfactory.

Btw, using strawman arguments does not say that the one who uses a “stupid argument” is stupid himself [most politicians are intelligent], but it does show that he thinks the audience is stupid enough so that he can get away with it. But I will not fall for strawman arguments. Whether deliberately or out of ignorance, Islam has not answered to Christianity, but knocked down a self-built strawman and I am not impressed.

Nevertheless, as I said, I don’t have that bad an impression of Muhammad’s character and currently don’t feel the strawman hypothesis to be as good an explanation as the one stated before it.

I still have to substantiate my claims that the Qur’an presents a not well-informed argument against Christian doctrine, which I will do in the following.

I will only state this in terse comparative statements. A more detailed discussion of this is important [and lots of material on this is already on my web site], but I don’t want to make this article too long.

The Qur’an states:


They do blaspheme who say: “Allah is Christ the son of Mary.” But said Christ: “O children of Israel! Worship Allah my Lord and your Lord.” Whoever joins other gods with Allah Allah will forbid him the garden and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrong-doers be no one to help.


They do blaspheme who say: ‘Allah is one of three [in a Trinity]’, for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy) verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them.


And when Allah said: O Jesus, son of Mary! Did you say unto mankind: Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah? he said: Be You glorified. It was not mine to utter that to which I had no right. If I used to say it, then You knew it. You know what is in my [innermost] self but I know not what is in Yours. Truly! You, only You are the Knower of things hidden. I spoke unto them only that which You commanded me, (saying): Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord, and I was a witness over them while I dwelt among them, and when You took me You were the Watcher over them, and You are Witness over all things.”

It seems clear to me that (the author of) the Qur’an has or presents the understanding that the followers of Christ believe that Jesus and Mary are two other separate gods which are elevated to the level of God.

The Qur’an is wrong about the Christian doctrine in several points:

* The Qur’an accuses Christians of saying “God is one OF three” [5:73], but Christians say that “God is one IN three” [two letters making an extremely important difference].

* The Qur’an speaks out against “Tri-theism” [three gods – 5:116,72,73], but Christians believe in (and the Bible teaches) “the Trinity” – ONE God, who reveals Himself [not: themselves] in three persons. There is only ONE God and not “three gods”.

* The Qur’an denounces the “tri-theistic” group of “God, Jesus and Mary” [5:116], but the Trinity consists of “Father, Son and Holy Spirit”.

* The Qur’an gives the impression that Christians elevated Mary to a divine status, but no Christian has ever said that Mary is anything more than a human being. The Bible says no such thing. All true Christian doctrine is based on the Bible as the word of God.

* The Qur’an speaks out against “deification” which is “elevating a human being to the status of a god” which I think is the meaning of “take me as a god beside Allah” [5:116], but the Bible speaks about “incarnation” which is “God taking on human nature in Jesus”, i.e. – The Qur’an speaks against: “Jesus taking on divine nature” [or better: “Ascribing divine nature to Jesus” since it is done to him by others and not his own doing according to the Qur’an] – The Bible teaches: “(Part of) God taking on human nature”

* According to the Qur’an Christians say “God is Jesus” [5:72], but we say “Jesus is God” [which is a subtle but very important difference]. More details on this.

Another tit-bit of Church history: Whether it was wise or not, the Church in the “Christian Roman Empire” did use political force to expell the groups teaching heresies and so these groups were pushed to the boundaries of the Roman Empire, and Arabia and the Middle East happened to be one place where quite a number of heretical groups “resettled”. That could account for the fact that Muhammad has seen most of his life mainly heretically distorted Christianity and therefore did just respond to what he saw and not to what the vast majority of Christians believed. But this again is an explanation that would point to the human authorship of the Qur’an, since God would not have been limited by Muhammad’s geographically limited experience.

One could say, that Islam is in contradiction to Bible and Christianity and just by stating the correct view is “indirectly” correcting the wrongs of Christianity, but the Qur’an is not directly addressing Christianity. Instead it chooses to address some wierd heretical and teaching of an absolutely insignificant sectarian group. In the least one can wonder about the Qur’anic “priorities” about the issues it decides to deal with. Not what one would expect in a final revelation with a claim to universal relevance.

Muslims have developed many reasons to attack and reject the Trinity. Most of these reasons are of some philosophical nature, many even try to disprove the Trinity from the Bible. Whether these reasons are valid or not will not be our concern at this time. Other web pages deal with the issue of the Trinityin detail. But it is obvious that all this reasoning is the reasoning of Muslims and not the reasoning of the Qur’an. The Qur’an only gives a number of statements negating certain false teachings but does not even offer any reasoning on the matter of the tri-theistic misunderstanding, and certainly nothing in regard to the doctrine of the Trinity. Denial is not the same as explanation and clarification.

And We sent down the Book to thee for the express purpose, that thou shouldst make clear to them those things in which they differ, and that it should be a guide and a mercy to those who believe. — Sura 16:64

In respect to the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, the Qur’an certainly has failed its own promise.

1. The web version of the book by Zacharian Butros does not have the footnotes, so here the references that can be found in the printed copy of it. His references to the Maryamiyya Sect are:
Awad Sim`an, “Allah Dhatuhu wa Naw`u Wahdaniyatihi” (God’s Essence and the Nature of His Unity) p.127; Ahmad al Makrizi, “Kitab al Kawl al Ibrizi” (Book of Golden Sayings) p.26.

Al-`Azîz or Potiphar

Mohammad relates the story of Joseph, whom Potiphar and the men of his city imprisoned out of jealousy. In the Quranic version of the story, Mohammad gives the name of the master of the house as “Aziz.” Aside from the variations between the Biblical and Quranic versions, it is important to note that the name Aziz is uniquely Arabic. In fact, the name Aziz was not Egyptian, nor is it known to have been in use by any Egyptian during the period Joseph lived.

The argument here is that the Biblical name of ‘Potiphar’ is a historically accurate attribution, while the Qur’ânic ‘Aziz’ is a name erroneously attributed to the same historical character. Further, it is argued that ‘Aziz’ was not an Egyptian name, nor was it knowing to have been used by the Egyptians during Joseph’s(P) time.

I doubt that the name Aziz or the title al-Aziz were common among the ancient Egyptians! These are Arabic terms. Addressing someone with this name [Aziz], or title [al-Aziz], would probably have elicited nothing more than a blank stare in ancient Egypt.

Let us first start with the quotes from the Qur’ân.

Ladies said in the City: “The wife of the `Aziz is seeking to seduce her slave from his (true) self: Truly hath he inspired her with violent love: we see she is evidently going astray.” [Qur’ân 12:30]

(The king) said (to the ladies): “What was your affair when ye did seek to seduce Joseph from his (true) self?” The ladies said: “Allah preserve us! no evil know we against him!” Said the `Aziz’s wife: “Now is the truth manifest (to all): it was I who sought to seduce him from his (true) self: He is indeed of those who are (ever) true (and virtuous). [Qur’ân 12:51]

In the quotation above, we have underlined the Qur’ânic word used to describe the historical character otherwise referred to as ‘Potiphar’ in the Bible. The word used is al-`Azîz, not `Azîz as incorrectly understood by the Christian missionaries. Even the translation reads the `Azîz, and not simply `Azîz. Moreover, when we read Islamic literature (see below) on this matter, nowhere can one find the assertion that `Azîz was believed to be this individual’s actual name. Clearly, the presence of the definite article “al” before `Aziz is a strong indication that it was a title not a name. Even in modern times, Christian and Jewish Arabs might call themselves `Azîz (e.g., Tarek `Azîz, the Iraqi minister) but none calls himself al-`Azîz.

Yes, “al” makes al-`Azîz a title. Yusuf Ali translates this as “(great) ‘Aziz” while Pickthall translates the term as “ruler” and Shakir translates it as “chief”. The question is : would Potiphar have been given such a title in ancient Egypt, or is this the title that Muhammad wished to impose upon him? Incidentally, the traditions do record a man named Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz [son of the slave of the master].

In this scope, the claim that `Azîz was the name of the historical individual in question results from either misreading or treachery. The claim that ‘Aziz’ was the actual name of the Bible’s ‘Potiphar’ is ridiculous, let alone being a historical contradiction! Regardless, let us consult the Biblical and Qur’ânic sources on this matter and judge for ourselves.

Treachery? Let’s not be overly dramatic about this! The claim that Aziz was Potiphar’s proper name is as absurd as the claim that al-Aziz [or the Egyptian equivalent of this] was his, or anyone else’s, title in ancient Egypt. This still presents a problem for the Qur’an and its claims.

Al-`Azîz In The Qur’ânic Commentaries

Briefly, Dr. Saifullah tells us that the Qur’an commentators agree that al-Aziz is a title and not a proper name. But does this observation save the Qur’an in any way from the discussed problem?

Potiphar In The Bible

Two individuals are mentioned in the Bible in connection with the events in Egypt surrounding Joseph(P): Potiphar and Potiphera.

Potiphar is the one to whom Joseph(P) was sold and mentioned in the following verses:

And Joseph ; . . . thither. . . ; . [Genesis 39:1-2]

Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. [Genesis 39:4]

From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. [Genesis 39:5]

From the verses in Genesis 39:1-2 it is clear that Potiphar was an officer of the Pharaoh and when we browse Strong’s Concordance for terms and phrases like “Potiphar”, “captain of the guard” and “his master”, we see something really interesting.

Dr. Saifullah then uses a series of Biblical definitions to build his case. First, he correctly cites the meaning of Potiphar – which signifies one “devoted to the sun” – the local deity of On or Heliopolis. He then sites the term for officer [cariyc] and captain [sar] and concludes that Potiphar was a powerful man. This is hardly a surprise to Jews or Christians since the term for captain means, literally, “prince of the Pharoah” – that is, a civil servant of the Egyptian government. The original term for “captain of the guard” has been interpreted in various ways. Some consider it to mean “chief cook,” others, “chief inspector of plantations”. However, the term which seems best founded is “chief of the executioners,” the same as the captain of the watch, or the zabut of modern Egypt.

From the above discussion on Genesis 39:1-2, it is clear that Potiphar was a powerful person of Egypt during the time of Jospeh(P) and the title al-`Azîz which means the mighty or the powerful as used in the Qur’ân fits very well here. Further, it is also to be added that Potiphar probably originated from which means “the one whom Ra has given/sent”.

Yes, Potiphar was a powerful man, but would he have been known as al-Aziz, or a similar Egyptian term, in those days? Why did the Qur’an call him al-Aziz instead of his proper Egyptian name or title? This presents us with a problem, which we will soon discuss.

Ra is infamously known the Sun God of ancient Egypt. It would be inappropriate to use the name Potiphar in the Qur’ân because of the connotations of shirk, i.e., paganism or associating partners with God. Hence the title al-`Azîz is more suitable. And Allah knows best!

Allah, indeed, knows best, but I am shocked at the “Islamic unawareness” of the statement:

It would be inappropriate to use the name Potiphar in the Qur’ân because of the connotations of shirk, i.e., paganism or associating partners with God.

The Qur’an DOES mention Pagan deities:

Sura 37:125 :

Will ye call upon Baal and forsake the Best of Creators,-

Sura 53:19-20 :

Have ye seen Lat and ‘Uzza, And another, the third (goddess), Manat?


The attempts made by Dr. Saifullah to extricate the Qur’an from its difficulties raises some interesting problems. The Qur’an, according to Sunni Muslims, is considered to be the uncreated and eternal speech of a transcendent, non-contingent, self-sufficient, and self-reliant God. However, the self-reliant God apparently must rely on human terms which are not transcendent, but are set in the framework of human history and culture, and are separated by a large span of time from the events in question. The Qur’an could have avoided this problem if it had called Potiphar by his Egyptian name, or title, or at least used an approximate Arabic equivalent of his title, rather than imposing a generic Arabic title which neither he, nor the people of his day, would have recognized. By its use of the generic Arabic term al-Aziz, the Qur’an negates its claim to be the eternal and uncreated Word of God.

Saifullah continues to say:

It is also important to mention that their methodology is that since that Bible says Potiphar, it must be historically true. It is also important to establish missionary logic in this case, which entails the assertion that if the Bible cites the name Potiphar, then the name is historically accurate. Regardless, their argument is circular and no attempt has been made by the Christian missionaries to verify the historicity of person called Potiphar before claiming a contradiction.

In most academic disciplines, the older, or “established” body of knowledge [or paradigm] is challenged by a new paradigm which must conclusively demonstrate that it is a better explanation than the old paradigm in order to be accepted. We do not judge an entire corpus of knowledge by the newest hypothesis or theory put forth. The Bible, in this case, is the older document and the Qur’an provides us with absolutely no proper evidence that the Bible is incorrect. I would never judge the Bible by the claims of any “would be” Prophet, I would judge the “would be” Prophet according to the teachings of the established Prophets of the Bible. If this is circular reasoning, according to Dr. Saifullah’s definition, I wonder if he would ever evaluate the Qur’an and Muhammad according to the teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Bah’a’ullah, or Elijah Muhammad? Or would Dr. Saifullah tell us that Muhammad said so, therefore it is so? Also, have Muslim scholars conducted any research in order to verify the historicity of a person with the title al-Aziz, or its Egyptian equivalent, in ancient Egypt, or is this question, along with many others, covered by the intellectual embargo on the Qur’an?

After all the noise about the issue, it still remains that “Potiphar”, the name reported in the Bible, is unmistakably Egyptian and likely authentic, while the title “al-`Aziz” used by the Qur’an is Arabic, and certainly not authentic.

Factual errors

The sun sets in a spring

Surah 18:83. They ask thee concerning Zul-qarnain. Say, “I will rehearse to you something of his story.”

84. Verily We established his power on earth, and We gave him the ways and the means to all ends.

85. One (such) way he followed,

86. Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water: Near it he found a People: We said: “O Zul-qarnain! (thou hast authority,) either to punish them, or to treat them with kindness.”

83] Mereka akan bertanya kepadamu (Muhammad) tentang Zulkarnain. Katakanlah: “Aku akan bacakan kepadamu cerita tentangnya”.

[84] Sesungguhnya Kami telah memberi kekuasaan kepadanya di (muka) bumi, dan Kami telah memberikan kepadanya jalan (untuk mencapai) segala sesuatu,

[85] maka dia pun menempuh suatu jalan.

[86] Hingga apabila dia telah sampai ke tempat terbenam matahari, dia melihat matahari terbenam di dalam laut yang berlumpur hitam, dan dia mendapati di situ segolongan umat. Kami berkata: “Hai Zulkarnain, kamu boleh menyiksa atau boleh berbuat kebaikan terhadap mereka”.

Al-Baidawi, in his commentary, said, “The Jews asked Muhammad about Dhu al-Qarnain, and he said to them that God established him in the land so that he could reach the place where the sun sets. He found that it set in a muddy spring, and all around the spring were idolatrous people!

Al-Baidawi added that “Ibn Abbas heard Mu`awiya read “aynin hamiya” (hot spring), so he told him that it was hami’a (muddy). Therefore, Mu`awiya sent to Ka`b al-Ahbar, asking, “Where do you think the sun sets?” He said to him, “In water and mud.”

Therefore we have proof that the early Muslims who heard it direct from Muhammad understood this verse literally.

Muslim response

Muslims claim that the above story is intended to be a parable.

Christian response

We can clearly see from the context that the story of Zul-qarnain is a literal one and not a parable. Muhammad was not saying this to illustrate a teaching but in response to a question about what happens to Zul-qarnain.

Muslim response

These verses are talking from Zul-Qarnain’s perspective of where the sun sets. In other words, Zul-Qarnain saw that the sun sets in a murky spring and not that the sun actually sets in a murky spring.

Christian response

If you see the sun setting in a certain place, you would be gazing afar. You can’t be looking at something close by and see the sun setting on this place. Yet the verse is not talking about Zul-qarnain gazing afar. It says Zul-qarnain reached the place where the sun sets and found that it sets in a murky spring.

Muslim response

Yusuf Ali interprets it as a Western expedition terminated by murky waters.

Christian response

To say that Zul-qarnain’s expedition was terminated by murky waters would immediately go against verse 84 which says “We established his power on earth, and We gave him the ways and the means to all ends.” The whole passage, right up to verse 86, emphasizes his power and success, not failure.

Even if you interpret “setting of the sun” as “western”, how do you interpret “it set in a spring of murky water” or “Near it he found a People”? What does the “it” refer to? Surely “it” refers to “the sun”.

Do mountains keep the earth from shaking?

The Quran claims that mountains prevent the earth from shaking. But science as well as empirical evidence has found this to be untrue.

Surah 21:31 PICKTHAL: And We have placed in the earth firm hills lest it quake with them, and We have placed therein ravines as roads that haply they may find their way.

[31] Dan telah Kami jadikan di bumi ini gunung-gunung yang kokoh supaya bumi itu (tidak) guncang bersama mereka, dan telah Kami jadikan (pula) di bumi itu jalan-jalan yang luas, agar mereka mendapat petunjuk.

Al-Baidawi explains “when the mountains were created on its (the earth’s) surface, and they centred it, thus serving as wedges to keep it from moving.

Muslim geologist, Dr. E. L. Naggar says, in his “The Geological Concept of Mountains in the Qur’an”, International Institute of Islamic Thought, International Graphics Printing Services (301 779 7774), 1981. “Continental orogenic belts are the result of plate boundary interaction, and such interaction reaches its climax when two continents come into collision. This results in considerable crumpling of the margins of the two continents and the cessation of all forms of activity at that junction. The two lithospheric plates become welded together, with considerable crustal shortening in the form of giant thrusts and infrastructural nappes, as well as considerable crustal thickening in the form of deep roots that extend downwardly for several times the elevation of the mountainous chain. Consequently, these collosal chains with their very deep roots stabilize the Earth’s lithosphere as plate motions are almost completely  halted at their place. Again, the notion of a plastic asthenosphere makes it possible to understand why the continents are elevated above the oceanic basins, and why the crust beneath them is much thicker than it is beneath the oceans. This implies that inasmuch as mountains have very deep roots, all elevated regions such as plateaus and continents must have corresponding roots extending for an exceptional distance downward in the asthenosphere. In other words, the entire lithosphere is floating above the plastic or semi-plastic asthenosphere, and its elevated structures are only held steadily by their downwardly plunging roots

While this Muslim geologist holds the view that mountains keep the earth from shaking, this is not borne by scientific evidence. Professor of Geology, Dr. David A. Young says, “While it is true that many mountain ranges are composed of folded rocks it is not true that the folds render the crust stable.”

So what we have here is conflict opinions between the Muslim geologist and Professor Young. Who should we believe in? We should see what the evidence points to rather than just accept the opinions of experts that may be contradictory.

The fact is that mountains do not prevent the earth from shaking. Evidence shows that there are numerous earthquakes in mountainous regions. If mountains prevent the earth from shaking, how can this be so? Let’s refer to objective reports from encyclopedias.

Andes Mountains are the world’s longest chain of mountains above sea level.  They stretch along the entire west coast of South America from Cape Horn to Panama for a distance of 7,200 kilometres. Earthquakes are common in the Andes.  Many towns have been wiped out by them.  Cities that have been greatly damaged by earthquakes include Valparaiso, Lima, Callao, and Quito. (Source: World Book)

The mountains of the Tethyan System consist largely of highly deformed sedimentary and igneous rocks that have been folded and faulted within the past 80 million years.  Earth scientists consider the system to be a result of the African, Arabian, and Indian plates colliding into the Eurasian Plate.  Earthquakes occur frequently along the Tethyan System, indicating that mountain building is still taking place. (Source: World Book)

Most earthquakes take place on one of two great earthquake belts that girdle the world. The belts coincide with the more recently formed mountain ranges and with belts of volcanic activity. One earthquake belt circles the Pacific Ocean along the mountainous west coasts of North and South America and runs through the island areas of Asia. It is estimated that 80 percent of the energy presently released in earthquakes comes from this belt. (Source: Compton Encyclopedia)

Muslim response

Some Muslim apologists realize that this statement contradicts science and have also tried to explain that the description of the mountains preventing the earth from moving is metaphorical.

Christian response

If we look at the other instances of this verse in the Quran, we know that this cannot be true. For example in Surah 13:2-3, the same description of the earth and mountains are given together with a list of other things that Allah has created. Clearly it is meant to be interpreted literally and not metaphorically.

PICKTHAL: Allah it is Who raised up the heavens without visible supports, then mounted the Throne, and compelled the sun and the moon to be of service, each runneth unto an appointed term; He ordereth the course; He detaileth the revelations, that haply ye may be certain of the meeting with your Lord.

And He it is Who spread out the earth and placed therein firm hills and flowing streams…

Surah 13 [2] Allah-lah Yang meninggikan langit tanpa tiang (sebagaimana) yang kamu lihat, kemudian Dia bersemayam di atas Arasy, dan menundukkan matahari dan bulan. Masing-masing beredar hingga waktu yang ditentukan. Allah mengatur urusan (makhluk-Nya), menjelaskan tanda-tanda (kebesaran-Nya), supaya kamu meyakini pertemuan (mu) dengan Tuhanmu.

[3] Dan Dia-lah Tuhan yang membentangkan bumi dan menjadikan gunung-gunung dan sungai-sungai padanya.

Muslim response

Other Muslims have said that the word for “shaking” used in the verses here is “tameeda” and not the Arabic word “zalzala”.

Christian response

It is true that there is another word for shaking in Arabic, which is “zalzala”. However, there is no doubt that the word “tameeda” also has the meaning of shaking or quaking as it has been translated that way by all major Quranic translations.

YUSUFALI: And We have set on the earth mountains standing firm, lest it should shake with them, and We have made therein broad highways (between mountains) for them to pass through: that they may receive Guidance.
PICKTHAL: And We have placed in the earth firm hills lest it quake with them, and We have placed therein ravines as roads that haply they may find their way.
SHAKIR: And We have made great mountains in the earth lest it might be convulsed with them, and We have made in it wide ways that they may follow a right direction.   

Salt and fresh water do not mix

Surah 25:53. It is He Who has let free the two bodies of flowing water: One palatable and sweet, and the other salt and bitter; yet has He made a barrier between them, a partition that is forbidden to be passed.

[53] Dan Dialah yang membiarkan dua laut mengalir (berdampingan); yang ini tawar lagi segar dan yang lain asin lagi pahit; dan Dia jadikan antara keduanya dinding dan batas yang menghalangi.

3.0pt;margin-left:1.0in;text-indent:-.5in;page-break-after:avoid’>It is possible for salt and fresh water to mix and this is a scientific error.

Even the writer Bucaille (of the Bible, the Quran and Science) admits, “the mixing of their waters with the salt water usually does not take place until far out at sea.”

Muslim response

According to Yusuf Ali, this is a symbolic statement. Sweet water represents the wholesome spiritual desires of man and salt water the worldly desires. These two do not mix.

Christian response

There is nothing in the verse to indicate that it is a symbolic statement. In fact, you have to interpret it literally because the next verse is also talking about another of God’s creation – man. And man is created from water – real water, not symbolic water.

Furthermore, the teaching of Surah 25:53 is repeated in another part of the Quran. There it is absolutely clear that you cannot adopt a symbolic explanation.

Surah 55:19. He has let free the two bodies of flowing water, meeting together:

20. Between them is a Barrier which they do not transgress:

21. Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye deny?

22. Out of them come Pearls and Coral:

23. Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye deny?

24. And His are the Ships sailing smoothly through the seas, lofty as mountains:

25. Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye deny?

[19] Dia membiarkan dua lautan mengalir yang keduanya kemudian bertemu,

[20] antara keduanya ada batas yang tidak dilampaui oleh masing-masing.

[21] Maka nikmat Tuhan kamu yang manakah yang kamu dustakan?

[22] Dari keduanya keluar mutiara dan marjan.

[23] Maka nikmat Tuhan kamu yang manakah yang kamu dustakan?

[24] Dan kepunyaan-Nya lah bahtera-bahtera yang tinggi layarnya di lautan laksana gunung-gunung.

[25] Maka nikmat Tuhan kamu yang manakah yang kamu dustakan?

Out of this sea water comes Pearls and Corals and ships sail through it. How can it be symbolical?

Egypt watered by rain

Egypt is watered by rain (Sura 12:49).

Surah 12 49] Kemudian setelah itu akan datang tahun yang padanya manusia diberi hujan (dengan cukup) dan di masa itu mereka memeras anggur.”

We may point out that more than one thousand years before Muhammad made this declaration, Herodotus the Greek historian stated: “Egypt is the gift of the Nile”! In fact, the only means of watering the crops in Egypt is the Nile.

This fact is also confirmed by encyclopedias.

The valley and delta region contains most of Egypt’s farmland.  Without the precious waters of the Nile, Egypt would be little more than a desert wasteland.  For thousands of years, annual floods of the Nile deposited valuable soils called silts upon the narrow plain on either side of the river and upon the low-lying delta.  Almost all of Egypt’s people live in the valley and delta region. (Source: World Book)

The Nile valley and delta–and scattered oases–support all of Egypt’s agriculture and are home to more than 99 percent of its population. (Source: Britannica Encyclopedia)

Is it possible to have two hearts?

Sura 33:4 says that Allah has not put two hearts into any man. Yet duplication of the heart has been admitted, albeit with reluctance by Geoffrey-Saint-Hilaire and celebrated anatomists including Littre, Meckel, Colomb, Panum, Behr, Paullini, Rhodius, Winslow and Zacutus Lusitanus G. M. (Source : Gould, W. L. Pyle (Julian Press, 1896) Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine p. 296)

Grammatical errors

The Quran should be in perfect Arabic

Surah 12:2. We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur’an, in order that ye may learn wisdom.

[2] Sesungguhnya Kami menurunkannya berupa Al Qur’an dengan berbahasa Arab, agar kamu memahaminya.

Since the Quran is from Allah and the Quran is in Arabic, it goes logically that the Quran has to be in perfect Arabic.

“This book” or “That book”?

YUSUFALI: This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah;
PICKTHAL: This is the Scripture whereof there is no doubt, a guidance unto those who ward off (evil).
SHAKIR: This Book, there is no doubt in it, is a guide to those who guard (against evil).

[2] Kitab (Al Qur’an) ini tidak ada keraguan padanya; petunjuk bagi mereka yang bertakwa,

Which Book is Surah 2:2 referring to? This verse occurs almost at the beginning of the whole Quran and is understood by Muslims to refer to the Quran. But the original Arabic does not say “this book”. It says “that book”. 

“[Zaalikal Kitab – That Book]; in it is guidance, sure and without doubt, to those who fear Allah.” Surah 2:2 

According to Maulan Mufti Muhammad Shafir, “The sentence “That Book has no doubt in it” raises a grammatical and exegetical problem, for the first phrase in the Arabic text reads as “Dhalikal kitab”.  Now the word “dhalika”(that) is used to point out a distant thing, while the word kitab (obviously refer to the Holy Quran itself.” – Ma’ariful Quran,Vol.1, page 99

The Arabic word for “Zaalikal is “That”. But the Quranic translators changed the meaning in Surah 2:2 from “That” to “This”. [The Arabic word for “This” is “Zaa”]  

This should have been the correct translation of the verse.

The following is a translation that is correct to the Arabic text.

“Kitab[Book] itu[that] tidak ada keraguan padanya, jadi petunjuk bagi orang2 yang taqwa”  Surah 2:2[Tafsir Quran Karim, Prof Dr H Mahmud Yunus]

Be and he “was” or “is”?

YUSUFALI: The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: “Be”. And he was.
PICKTHAL: Lo! the likeness of Jesus with Allah is as the likeness of Adam. He created him of dust, then He said unto him: Be! and he is.
SHAKIR: Surely the likeness of Isa is with Allah as the likeness of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, Be, and he was.

Surah 3 [59] Sesungguhnya misal (penciptaan) Isa di sisi Allah, adalah seperti (penciptaan) Adam. Allah menciptakan Adam dari tanah, kemudian Allah berfirman kepadanya: “Jadilah” (seorang manusia), maka jadilah dia.

The transliterated Arabic is as follows:

“Inna massala ‘Isaa ‘indal-laahi ka-masali ‘Adam; khalaqahuu min-turaabin-sum-ma qaala lahuu kun fa-yakuun.”

The word yakuun (“is”) should be kana (“was”) to be consistent with the past tense of the previous verb “said”. Therefore there is a grammatical error. Quranic translators realize the mistake but chose to translate the word as “was” even though the Arabic word should be yakuun (“is”). Only some translators like Pickthal retained the original text.

The Teacher Who Corrected the Koran

Al-Hagaag Ibn Yousof Al-Thakafi, who lived in the years 660-714 A.D., was a teacher of Arabic language in the city of Taif. Then he joined the military and became the most powerful person during the reign of Caliph Abd-Elmalik Ibn Marawan and after him his son AlWaleed Ibn Abd-Elmalik. Because Al-Haagag taught Arabic, he gave himself the liberty to change several words of Caliph Uthman’s Koran, which is an indication that he did not believe that the Koran was verbally inspired or was inscribed in a “tablet preserved.” We will mention but a few of the words Al-Haagag Ibn Yousof AlThakafi changed:

In Surat Ta Ha 20:63, the Arabic word “Hazani Lasaherani” should be “Hazaini Lasahirieni.” In Surat Al-Maidah 5:69, the Arabic word “Alsabeoun” should be “Alsabieen.” In Surat Al-Maidah 5:38, the Arabic word “Aidyahoma” should be “Yadihoma.” In Surat Al-Nisa 4:162, the Arabic word “Almukemeen” should be “Almukemoon.” In Surat Al-Munafiqun 63:10, the Arabic word “Akon” should be “Akoon.”

Errors compiled by Ali Dashti

The Iranian Shi’ite scholar Ali Dashti writes (in his book Twenty Three years –  A study of the prophetic career of Mohammad),  “The Quran contains sentences which are incomplete and not fully intelligible without the aid of commentaries; foreign words, unfamiliar Arabic words, and words used other than the normal meaning; adjectives and verbs infected without observance of the concord of gender and number; illogical and ungrammatically applied pronouns which sometimes have no referent; and predicates which in rhymed passages are often remote from subjects.”

He contends that the Quran possesses numerous grammatical irregularities. Dashti notes that in verse 9 of surah 49, “If two parties of believers have started to fight each other, make peace between them”, the verb meaning “have started to fight” is in the plural, whereas it ought to be in the dual like its subject “two parties”.

Dr Anis A. Shorrosh, who is a Palestine Arab, points out that in 2:177, the word “Sabireen” in Arabic should have been “Sabiroon” because of its position in the sentence. Likewise, “Sabieen” is more correct Arabic than “Sabioon” in 5:69. Shorrosh also notes that there is a gross error in Arabic in 3:59.

Muslim response : The Qur’an being one of the major source materials of the grammarians’ works can obviously not be judged on the basis of the grammarians’ work. Had the position of the Qur’an as a source material of the compiled Arabic grammar been fully appreciated, it would have been more appropriate and understandable if someone had challenged the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the grammarians’ work, rather than challenge the reliability of the Qur’an, when and if an inexplicable deviation was/is found in the Qur’an.

Christian response : It is true that the Quran is a major source of study of Arabian grammar. But Arabic was an established language long before the Quran even came about. Therefore when Muhammad introduced the Quran and claim that it is a literary masterpiece, and one still finds gramatically irregularities compared with what was spoken then and what is spoken now, in accordance with gramatical rules, then something is wrong. Adopting the reasoning above is a blind faith situation. You want to believe that the Quran is a literary masterpiece. So if the Quran has zero gramatical errors, you would say that that is proof that it is a literary masterpiece. If it contains gramatical errors, you would still insist that it is a materpiece and all other grammar is wrong and should be judged based on the Quran instead.

Errors compiled by M. Rafiqul-Haqq and P. Newton

Muslims believe that Allah revealed a book to each of Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus. “But the Book of the prophet Abraham was lost. The Books of David (the Psalms), Moses (the Torah), and Jesus (the Gospel) were changed.”[1]

It is only the Qur’an that was revealed to Mohammad by the angel Gabriel that was preserved, and indeed “Not a single word of it has been changed or lost. It is found today exactly as it was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed.”[2] As such it is not Mohammed’s personal achievement. Rather it is a divine miracle. The prophethood of every prophet was attested to by divine miracles. It is believed that the Qur’an is God’s miracle confirming the prophethood of Mohammed.

“The only miracle Mohammad claimed was the Qur’an … The Qur’an is the only inspired scripture that has come down to us intact as revealed to the prophet. There has been no tampering of the text and the original purity of the language has stayed undefiled.”[3]

Muslims do believe that the Qur’an is a literary miracle and that it is unmatched among any other literature. It is not a human masterpiece but a divine miracle, where every letter and dot was revealed from heaven, with no difference between what was revealed and what we have in our hands.

Masterpieces are the work of humans. Miracles are the work of God. A miracle, any miracle, is superior to the best of masterpieces. Also miracles cannot be “improved upon” by human efforts since that would be the same as acknowledging that the miracle, i.e. the work of God, was flawed.

A masterpiece surpasses other works in one particular area. For example, a mastepiece of engineering does not necessarily have to have an aesthetic appeal. Or a masterpiece in art doesn’t have to conform to engineering standards. A masterpiece in flower arrangement does not necessarily have to smell good.

Muslims claim the Qur’an not just to be a human literary masterpiece, but a divine literary miracle. But this claim does not square with the facts. For the Qur’an which we have in our hands contains obvious grammatical errors which is plain to see for all who know Arabic.

Surah 5:69

“Surely they that believe, and those of Jewry, and the Sabaeans, and the Christians, whosoever believes in God and the Last Day, and works righteousness – no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow.” (Arberry)

“Innal-laziina ‘aamanuu wal-laziina haaduu was-Saabi’uuna wan-Nasaaraa man ‘aamana bilaahi wal-Yawmil-‘Aakhiri wa ‘amila saali-hanfalaa khaw-fun ‘alay-him wa laa hum yah-zanuun.”

There is a grammatical error in the above verse. The word Saabi’uuna has been declined wrongly.

In two other verses, the same word, in exactly the same grammatical setting was declined correctly.

2:62 “Innal-laziina ‘aamanuu wal-laziina haaduu wan-Nasaaraa was-Saabi’iina …”

22:17 “Innal-laziina ‘aamanuu wal-laziina haaduu was-Saabi’iina wan-Nasaaraa …”

You notice that the word was written Saabi’uuna in 5:69 and was written Saabi’iina in 2:62 and 22:17. In the last two verses the word was declined correctly because the word inna in the beginning of the sentence causes a form of declension called “nasb” (as in cases of accusative or subjunctive) and the “yeh” is the “sign of nasb”. But the word Saabi’uuna in 5:69 was given the ‘uu, waw which is the sign of “raf’a” (as in cases of nominative or indicative). This then is an obvious grammatical error.

Surah 4:162

“But those of them that are firmly rooted in knowledge, and the believers believing in what has been sent down to thee, and what was sent down before thee, that perform the prayer and pay the alms, and those who believe in God and the Last Day – them We shall surely give a mighty wage.” (Arberry)

“Laakinir-Raasi-khuuna fil-‘ilmi minhum wal-Mu’-minuuna yu’-minuuna bi-maaa ‘unzila ‘ilayka wa maaa ‘unzila min-qablika wal-muqiimiin as-Salaata wal mu’-tuunaz-Zakaata wal-Mu’-mi-nuuna billaahi wal-Yawmil-‘Aakhir: ‘ulaaa ‘ika sanu’-tii-him ‘ajran ‘aziimaa.”

The word muqiimiin should be muqiimuun. The word should be declined by the “raf’a sign” like the other nouns in the sentence. Indeed the two nouns before it (Raasi-khuun and Mu’-minuun), and the noun after it (mu’-tuun) are declined correctly. Some have argued that this word was declined as such to distinguish and praise the act of praying, but the scholar Ibn al-Khatib says that this is a sick reasoning. (al-Furqan by Mohammad M. ‘abd al-Latif Ibn al-Katib, Dar al-Kutub al-‘elmiyah, Beirut, p.43). Such reasoning defies logic. Why would one distinguishe prayer which is a branch of religion, and not faith which is the fundamental and root of religion? Besides can this logic apply to the error of declension in the previous verse? Do we conclude that the Saabi’iin are more distinguished than those who believe, and the People of the Book? And why do they get distinguished in one verse and not the other as we have seen? God is much higher than this sick logic. This again is an obvious grammatical error.

Surah 20:63

“They communed secretly saying, ‘These two men are sorcerers’.” (Arberry)

“Qaaluuu inna haazaani la-saahiraani …”

The word haazaani should be haazayn.

The word haazaani was declined incorrectly because the word inna in the beginning of the nominal sentence causes a form of declension called “nasb” to the nominative and the “yeh” is the “sign of nasb”. This is the third grammatical error.

Surah 2:177

“It is not piety, that you turn your faces to the East and to the West. True piety is this: to believe in God, and the Last Day … to give of one’s substance … and to ransom the slave, to perform the prayer, to pay the alms. And they who fulfil their covenant … and endure with fortitude.” (Arberry)

“Laysal-birra ‘an-tuwalluu wujuuhakum qibalal-Mashriqi wal-Maghrib wa laakinnal-birra man ‘aamana billaahi wal-Yawmil-‘Akhiri wal-malaaa-‘ikati wal-Kitaabi wan-nabiyyiin: wa ‘aatal-maala ‘alaa hubbihii zawilqurbaa wal-yataamaa wal-masaakiina wabnas-sabiili was-saaa-‘iliina wa fir-riqaab: wa’aqaamas-Salaata wa ‘aataz-Zakaata; wal-muufuuna bi’ahdihim ‘izaa ‘aahaduu was-Saabiriina fil-ba’-saaa’i wazzarraaa-‘i …”

In the above verse there are five gramatical errors. In four of them the wrong tense was used, as the sentence begins in the present tense with the verb tuwalluu, while the other four verbs were written in the past tense:

‘aaman should be tu’minuu;
‘aata shoud be tu’tuu;
‘aqaama should be tuqimuu;
‘aata shoud be tu’tuu.

The above verse when translated into English as it appears in Arabic would be: “It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteousness is he who believed in Allah and the Last day and the angels and the Book and the Prophets; and gave his wealth, … and performed prayer and paid the alms.”

But the English translators have observed the tense, and the verbs “believed”, “gave”, “performed”, and “paid” were corrected and written in the present tense. (For example see Arberry, Pickthall, Yusuf Ali and Rodwell’s translations).

The fifth error is the wrong declension of the word saabiriina. It should be declined saabiruuna like the preceeding word muufuuna.

Surah 21:3

“The evildoers whisper one to another …”

“Laahiyatan – quluubuhum. Wa ‘asarrun-najwallaziin zalamuu…”

The word ‘asarru should be ‘asarra. The above is a verbal sentence, and the rule for such a sentence, where the verb comes before the (masculine) subject, is that the verb must be in the third (masculine) singular form, if the active subject of the verbal sentence is stated in the sentence. (The same rule holds for substituting the two mentionings of “masculine” by “feminine”.) But the verb in the above Qur’anic verse came in the plural form. See how the above rule was observed in the following Qur’anic verses: 3:52, 10:2, 16:27, 16:35, 3:42, 49:14.

Surah 22:19

“These are two disputants who have disputed concerning their Lord.” (Arberry)

“haazaani Khismani ‘ikhtasamuu fi rabbihim …”

In Arabic, like English words are declined or conjugated with respect to number. In English there are two numbers: singular and plural. So in English two men are treated as plural. But in Arabic there are three numbers: singular, dual, and plural. So in Arabic the verbs and nouns are treated according to the singular or the dual or the plural. The verb in that verse was conjugated as if the subject is more than two. But the verse speaks only of two. So the rules of the dual should be followed and the word ‘ikhtasamuu should be ‘ikhtasamaa. So this is yet another error.

Surah 49:9

“If two parties of believers fight, put things right between them.” (Arberry)

“wa ‘in-taaa-‘ifataani mi-nal-Mu’-miniinaq-tatalu fa-‘aslihuu baynahumaa.”

This error in this verse is like the previous one. The number again is dual but the verb was conjugated as if the subject is plural. So the verb ‘eq-tatalu should be ‘eqtatalata.

Surah 63:10

“O my Lord, if only Thou wouldst defer me unto a near term, so that I may make freewill offering, and so I may become one of the righteous.” (Arberry)

“… Rabbi law laaa ‘akhartaniii ‘ilaaa ‘ajalin-qariibin-fa-‘assaddaqa wa ‘akum-minas-salihiin.”

The verb ‘akun was incorrectly conjugated. It should be ‘akuuna, i.e. the last consonant must have the vowel “a”, instead of being vowelless, because the verb ‘akun, is in the subjunctive. Indeed the previous verb (‘assaddaqa) has been correctly conjugated and is in the subjunctive. The reason is that in Arabic the present tense is placed in the subjunctive mood if it is preeceeded by certain words (huruf nasebah). One of such words is the “causative fa”.

Surah 91:5

“By the heaven and that which built it.” (Arberry)

“was-samaaa-‘i wa maa ba-naahaa.”

The word ma in the Arabic language is used for the impersonal. But the subject of the above verse is God. So the word which should be used is the Arabic word man (meaning “him who”). Arberry translated that verse as follows: “By the heaven and that which built it” meaning God. Pickthall however corrected the impersonal (ma, that which) and translated the verse as follows: “By the heaven and Him Who built it.”

Indeed Pickthall also corrected the two verses that follow:

And the earth and Him Who spread it. Q. 91:6.
And a soul and Him Who perfected it. Q. 91:7.

Yusuf Ali, to get out of the problem, translated the above verse as follows: “By the firmament and its wonderful structure”. So the subject ‘God’ does not appear at all in his translation of that verse. He gives his reason for his translation in a footnote saying: The ma masdariya in Arabic, in this and the subsequent clauses, is best translated in English by nouns.” But the word bana in banaha is not a noun but a verb in the past tense as translated correctly by Arberry and Pickthall. The word ma should have been man (meaning “who”) and in that context it should have been “Who” with a capital W.

Surah 41:11

“Then He lifted Himself to heaven when it was smoke, and said to it and to the earth, ‘come willingly, or unwillingly!’ They said, ‘we come willingly.'”

“… faqal laha wa lel-Arad ‘iteya taw’aan aw karha qalata atayna ta’e’een.”

Heaven and earth in Arabic are feminine nouns, the verb said in “they said” is accordingly feminine and dual (qalata), but the adjective “willing” at the end of the verse is masculine and plural (ta’e’een), being at variance with the rule that the adjectives should match their nouns in number in gender, thus ta’e’een which is used for plural, should be ta’e’atain which is used for feminine dual.

Surah 7:56

“The mercy of God is near.”

“… inna rahmata Allahi qaribun min al-mohseneen.”

The above verse is a nominal clause. In such a clause the predicate should match the subject (rahmata) of the nominal clause in gender. The word qaribun (meaning “near”) is the predicate of rahmata Allahi (“mercy of Allah”), they should match each other in gender. But this is not the case in the Arabic text. Rahmata is feminine in Arabic and so the word qaribun (which is masculine) should instead be qaribah (its feminine form).

This rule was correctly observed in other Qur’anic verses. For example, in 9:40 we read: “Kalemat ul-llah heya al-‘ulya.” Here both Kalemat and heya are feminine. To say instead: “Kalemat ul-llah howa al-‘a’la” would never be correct. That would be just as wrong as saying: “… inna rahmata Allahi qaribun min …”

Surah 7:160

“We divided them into twelve tribes.”

“wa qata’nahom ‘ethnata ‘ashrata asbatan.”

Instead of asbatan it should read sebtan.

In the Arabic it literally says “twelve tribes”. That is correct in English but not correct in Arabic. In Arabic it should say twelve tribe because the noun that is counted by a number above ten should be singular. This rule is observed correctly for example in 7:142, 2:60, 5:12, 9:36, 12:4.

The Qor’an contains sentences which are incomplete and not fully intelligible without the aid of commentaries; foreign words, unfamiliar Arabic words, and words used with other than the normal meaning; adjectives and verbs inflected without observance of the concords of gernder and number; illogically and ungrammatically applied pronouns which sometimes have no referent; and predicates which in rhymed passages are often remote from the subjects … To sum up, more than one hundred Qor’anic aberrations from the normal rules and structures have been noted… (‘Ali Dashti, 23 Years: A Study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammad, Mazda Publishers, Costa Mesa, California, 1994, pages 48,50)

Hence, the above are just a small sample and more are to come.

Some of the above errors are not a new discovery by modern critics. They were known from the first century of Islam by the closest followers of Mohammad. It is reported that ‘Uthman, after viewing the first standared copy of the Qur’an, said, ‘I see grammatical errors in it, and the Arabs will read it correctly with their tongues.'[4] The Muslim scholar Ibn al-Khatib who quoted the above report in his book al-Furqan, went on to mention another report on the authority of ‘Aa’isha, one of Mohammad’s wives, saying, ‘There are three grammatical errors in the Book of Allah, they are the fault of the scribe:

In 20:63

“Qaaluuu inna haazaani la-saahiraani …”

And in 5:69

“Innal-laziina ‘aamanuu wal-laziina haaduu was-Saabi’uuna wan-Nasaaraa man ‘aamana bilaahi wal-Yawmil-‘Aakhiri wa ‘amila saali-hanfalaa khaw-fun ‘alay-him wa laa hum yah-zanuun.”

And in 4:162

“Laakinir-Raasi-khuuna fil-‘ilmi minhum wal-Mu’-minuuna yu’-minuuna bi-maaa ‘unzila ‘ilayka wa maaa ‘unzila min-qablika wal-muqiimiin as-Salaata wal mu’-tuunaz-Zakaata wal-Mu’-mi-nuuna billaahi wal-Yawmil-‘Aakhir: ‘ulaaa ‘ika sanu’-tii-him ‘ajran ‘aziimaa.”‘[5]

Two comments need to be made.

First: Muslims claim that the Qur’an we have in our hands today is what was originally revealed to Mohammed, with no change to even one letter. However, there are grammatical errors in today’s Qur’an. In facing these errors, we must decide between one of two choices. Either, the original Qur’an was revealed containing these errors, or the errors resulted from mistakes by human scribes as they were copying the Qur’an. There exist no other possibilities. As the first choice is unthinkable, the second is the only logical explanation. But that also means that it is not true that the Qur’an we have in our hands is the “only inspired scripture that has come down to us intact as revealed to the prophet. There has been no tampering of the text and the original purity of the language has stayed undefiled.”

Second: If the above errors were found in an article to be published, these errors would be corrected. The article, with these errors remaining in it, could not be hailed as a masterpiece.

The Qur’an, because of these errors, is not even a masterpiece. If, humanly speaking, the Qur’an cannot be called a masterpiece, can anyone honestly call it a divine literary miracle?

The following notice accompanied a very respectable piece of Islamic software called the Alim, 1992.

The Arabic Qur’an has some errors which will be remedied very shortly in a maintenance release.

The Arabic Qur’an refered to in the above notice is the one provided in the Alim software package.

No doubt many learned people have gone over this Arabic Qur’an to check it for mistakes, like any good publisher would do. If even with the advanced technology they have, there are still errors in it, how can we have any confidence that the first edition of the Qur’an in a time when very few people can read and write Arabic, was written down error free? Mohammad himself said “we are a nation that does not know how to write or do accounting.” And the Muslim in early Islam used to set free some Jews among their war captives if they would in turn teach a few Arabs how to read and write Arabic.

1. Teaching of Islam, Islamic Council of New South Wales, p.15.
2. Teaching of Islam, Islamic Council of New South Wales, p.18.
3. Introduction to Pickthall’s translation with transliteration, the Burney Academy, Hyderabad, p.xxiv.
4. Al-Furqan by Mohammad M. ‘abd al-Latif Ibn al-Katib, Dar al-Kutub al-‘elmiyah, Beirut, p.90
5. Al-Furqan by Mohammad M. ‘abd al-Latif Ibn al-Katib, Dar al-Kutub al-‘elmiyah, Beirut, p.91




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