A Critique of Shabir Allys Cumulative Case for the Quran
Shabir Ally has provided eight reasons for believing that the Quran is divine revelation. Shabir feels that these reasons provide a sufficient basis for the Muslim position that Islam is true.
Our aim here is to examine all eight of Shabirs reasons and demonstrate why they fall short of providing a basis for believing in the Quran as Gods word. In fact, our years of extensive study and research have led us to the conclusion that, unlike Christianity and the Holy Bible, there really isnt any rational basis for believing in Muhammad or Islam.
Here is Shabirs first reason for believing the Quran:
1. Physical incapacity. The prophet was physically incapable to write the Quran. History has him as an unlettered man who could not write anything more than his own name. How could he write a book?
Shabirs fallacies begin early. First, he assumes what he has yet to prove, namely that Muhammad was illiterate. The Quran furnishes no conclusive evidence for Muhammads alleged illiteracy. The passages that Muslims often present say nothing of Muhammad being illiterate, but only say that he was an ummi who hadnt read or written down any book prior to the Quran (cf. S. 7:157-158 and 29:48).
The debate hinges on the precise meaning of these passages. Does ummi mean that Muhammad was illiterate, or does it mean that Muhammad wasnt versed in the scriptures of the Jews and Christians? Or could it even mean that Muhammad, unlike the real prophets before him who were primarly of Israelite descent, was a Gentile? Since these questions are beyond the scope of this article, we will simply ask that the readers consult the following articles for the answers:
Second, Shabir commits a non-sequitor since, even if Muhammad was illiterate, it still wouldnt follow that he was incapable of producing the Quran. Muhammad could have received information orally from Jews, Christians, Sabians, pagans etc., which he then had others write down for him. This is, in fact, what the Quran says the unbelievers accused Muhammad of doing:
And those who disbelieve say, `It is naught but a lie which he has forged, and other people have helped him with it.' Indeed, they have perpetrated a great injustice and a great falsehood. And they say, `These are fables of the ancient; and he has got them written down and they are read out to him morning and evening.' Say, `HE, Who knows every secret of the heavens and the earth, has revealed it. Verily, HE is the Most Forgiving, Merciful.' S. 25:4-6 Sher Ali
It is rather interesting that instead of denying the charge that the Quran contains ancient fables, the author says that Allah was the one who sent down these fables! Perhaps this is the reason why some Muslims such as the late Muhammad Asad could so readily admit that the Quran contains fables and myths. While commenting on the story of Solomon in the Quran, Asad noted:
"In this as well as in several other passages relating to Solomon, the Qur'an alludes to many POETIC LEGENDS which were associated with his name since early antiquity and had become part and parcel of Judeo-Christian and Arabian lore long before the advent of Islam. Although it is undoubtedly possible to interpret such passages in a 'rationalistic' manner, I do not think that this is really necessary. Because they were so deeply ingrained in the imagination of the people to whom the Qur'an addressed itself in the first instance, these legendary accounts of Solomons wisdom and magic powers had acquired a cultural reality of their own and were, therefore, eminently suited to serve as a medium for the parabolic exposition of certain ethical truths with which this book is concerned: and so, without denying or confirming their MYTHICAL character, the Qur'an uses them as a foil for the idea that God is the ultimate source of all human power and glory, and that all achievements of human ingenuity, even though they may sometimes border on the miraculous, are but an expression of His transcendental creativity." (Asad, The Message of the Qur'an [Dar Al-Andalus Limited 3 Library Ramp, Gibraltar rpt. 1993], p. 498, fn. 77; bold and capital emphasis ours)
The Muslim traditions mention the names of some of Muhammads scribes:
Narrated Zaid bin Thabit:
... Then Abu Bakr said (to me). "You are a wise young man and we do not have any suspicion about you, and you used to write the Divine Inspiration for Allah's Apostle. So you should search for (the fragmentary scripts of) the Qur'an and collect it in one book)" ... (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 61, Number 509)
Hanzala Usayyidi, who was amongst the scribes of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) ... (Sahih Muslim, Book 037, Number 6623)
Hence, it is quite plausible that Muhammad dictated what he had learned orally to his scribes.
Thirdly, it is also conceivable that there was in fact a spiritual force that inspired Muhammad to produce the Quran. More on this below.
For more on the sources and fables of the Quran, please consult the articles at the following links:
2. Sincerity. The prophet was morally constrained to tell the truth about the origin of the Quran. He was noted to be so honest and trustworthy that even his enemies called him al-Amin (the trustworthy). Moreover, he suffered persecution, refused offers to compromise, and maintained his message for a period of twenty-three years. Historians of religion have to conclude that he was sincere.
First, Muhammads sincerity doesnt prove that he was a prophet, but only that he was sincerely deluded. In fact, if sincerity and persecution are the criteria Shabir uses to prove Muhammads prophetic claims, then he needs to be consistent. Shabir must conclude on the basis of this criteria that men such as Baha'ullah, Joseph Smith, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and Elijah Muhammad were all true emmisaries of God. These men sincerely believed that the message they received was actually from God and were willing to suffer greatly for it. Take Bahaullah as an example. What could have led him to suffer imprisonment for over twenty years if he did not truly believe he was Gods spokesperson? What of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad? What motivated him to suffer ridicule and scorn for claiming to be Gods prophet and the long-awaited Messiah? Rashid Khalifah died as a martyr for claiming to be the Messenger of Allah. Why, if he were simply a deceiver seeking monetary gain? What led these men to endure persecution and, in some cases, poverty? The obvious reason is that they too, like Muhammad, sincerely believed they were Gods messengers/prophets.
Does this convince Shabir that these men were Gods spokespersons? How could he, seeing that these individuals held conflicting views about God, man, salvation, revelation etc.? Then why should Muhammads integrity be advanced as evidence that he was a prophet?
Second, it is not at all certain that Muhammad was the beacon of truth that Shabir makes him out to be. For one, Shabir is basing his view regarding Muhammads integrity on biased Muslim sources which were written many years, in fact centuries, after Muhammads death. Muslims would obviously want to portray Muhammad in the most favorable light possible, fabricating stories and putting words into the mouths of Muhammads enemies as a way of making their prophet look much better than he really was. In other words, Muslims rewrote history to their liking. After all, Muslims became the dominant force in Arabia and could essentially write and say anything they wanted without having anyone contest it.
But even with that said, both the Quran and the Muslim sources present evidence to show that Muhammad wasnt as honest or forthright as Shabir would want his readers to believe. The sources show that Muhammad used his prophetic claims to advance his own desires and ambitions. For instance, the Quran says that Allah made Muhammad rich:
"Did He not find you as an orphan and give you shelter? Did He not find you wandering about and give you guidance? And did He not find you in need AND MAKE YOU RICH?" S. 93:6-8 Muhammad Sarwar
One way Allah made Muhammad rich was to command the Muslims to give a fifth of the booty to his so-called "messenger":
And know that out of all the booty that ye may acquire (in war), a fifth share is assigned to Allah,- AND TO THE MESSENGER, and to near relatives, orphans, the needy, and the wayfarer,- if ye do believe in Allah and in the revelation We sent down to Our servant on the Day of Testing,- the Day of the meeting of the two forces. For Allah hath power over all things. S. 8:41
The Hadith says:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
... Allah made the Prophet wealthy through conquests ... (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 37, Number 495)
The Quran also commanded Muslims to reimburse Muhammad for the "religious" services he provided for them:
Of their goods, take alms, that so thou mightest purify and sanctify them; and pray on their behalf. Verily thy prayers are a source of security for them: And Allah is One Who heareth and knoweth. S. 9:103
O ye who believe! When ye consult the Messenger in private, spend something in charity before your private consultation. That will be best for you, and most conducive to purity (of conduct). But if ye find not (the wherewithal), Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. S. 58:12
Muhammad used his prophetic status to take and sleep with any woman he desired:
O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those whom thy right hand possesses out of the captives of war whom Allah has assigned to thee; and daughters of thy paternal uncles and aunts, and daughters of thy maternal uncles and aunts, who migrated (from Makkah) with thee; and any believing woman who gives herself to the Prophet if the Prophet wishes to wed her;- this only for thee, and not for the Believers (at large); We know what We have appointed for them as to their wives and the captives whom their right hands possess;- in order that there should be no difficulty for thee. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Thou mayest defer (the turn of) any of them that thou pleasest, and thou mayest receive any thou pleasest: and there is no blame on thee if thou invite one whose (turn) thou hadst set aside. This were nigher to the cooling of their eyes, the prevention of their grief, and their satisfaction - that of all of them - with that which thou hast to give them: and Allah knows (all) that is in your hearts: and Allah is All- Knowing, Most Forbearing. It is not lawful for thee (to marry more) women after this, nor to change them for (other) wives, even though their beauty attract thee, except any thy right hand should possess (as handmaidens): and Allah doth watch over all things. S. 33:50-52
The preceding passage provided justification for Muhammad to sleep with any woman willing to give herself to him! This led even Muhammads wife to mockingly say:
I used to look down upon those ladies who had given themselves to Allahs Apostle and I used to say, "Can a lady give herself (to a man)?" But when Allah revealed: "You (O Muhammad) can postpone (the turn of) whom you will of them (your wives), and you may receive any of them whom you will; and there is no blame on you if you invite one whose turn you have set aside (temporarily)." (33.51) I said (to the Prophet), "I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 311)
Muhammad also allowed himself to have more than four wives. For instance, Muhammad at one time had eleven wives:
Anas bin Malik said, "The Prophet used to visit all his wives in a round, during the day and night and they were ELEVEN IN NUMBER." I asked Anas, "Had the Prophet the strength for it?" Anas replied, "We used to say that the Prophet was given the strength of thirty (men)." And Sa'id said on the authority of Qatada that Anas had told him about nine wives only (not eleven). (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 5, Number 268)
What truly makes this all the more shameful is that Muhammad forced a man to divorce six of his ten wives in order to comply with the Quranic injunction of Surah 4:3, which limits the number of wives to a maximum of four:
Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar
Ghaylan ibn Salamah ath-Thaqafi accepted Islam and that he had ten wives in the pre-Islamic period who accepted Islam along with him; so the Prophet (peace be upon him) told him to keep four and separate from the rest of them.
Ahmad, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah transmitted it. (Al-Tirmidhi, Number 945: taken from the Alim CD-ROM Version)
Narrated Al-Harith ibn Qays al-Asadi
I embraced Islam while I had eight wives. So I mentioned it to the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Select four of them. (Sunan of Abu Dawud, Number 922: taken from the Alim CD-ROM Version)
Muhammad even went so far as to use his so-called inspiration to justify his preferential treatment of some of his wives:
Narrated 'Urwa from 'Aisha:
The wives of Allah's Apostle were in two groups. One group consisted of 'Aisha, Hafsa, Safiyya and Sauda; and the other group consisted of Um Salama and the other wives of Allah's Apostle. The Muslims knew that Allah's Apostle loved 'Aisha, so if any of them had a gift and wished to give to Allah's Apostle, he would delay it, till Allah's Apostle had come to 'Aisha's home and then he would send his gift to Allah's Apostle in her home. The group of Um Salama discussed the matter together and decided that Um Salama should request Allah's Apostle to tell the people to send their gifts to him in whatever wife's house he was. Um Salama told Allah's Apostle of what they had said, but he did not reply. Then they (those wives) asked Um Salama about it. She said, "He did not say anything to me." They asked her to talk to him again. She talked to him again when she met him on her day, but he gave no reply. When they asked her, she replied that he had given no reply. They said to her, "Talk to him till he gives you a reply." When it was her turn, she talked to him again. He then said to her, "Do not hurt me regarding Aisha, AS THE DIVINE INSPIRATIONS DO NOT COME TO ME ON ANY OF THE BEDS EXCEPT THAT OF AISHA." On that Um Salama said, "I repent to Allah for hurting you." Then the group of Um Salama called Fatima, the daughter of Allah's Apostle and sent her to Allah's Apostle to say to him, "Your wives request to treat them and the daughter of Abu Bakr on equal terms." Then Fatima conveyed the message to him. The Prophet said, "O my daughter! Dont you love whom I love?" She replied in the affirmative and returned and told them of the situation. They requested her to go to him again but she refused. They then sent Zainab bint Jahsh who went to him and used harsh words saying, "Your wives request you to treat them and the daughter of Ibn Abu Quhafa on equal terms." On that she raised her voice and abused 'Aisha to her face so much so that Allah's Apostle looked at 'Aisha to see whether she would retort. 'Aisha started replying to Zainab till she silenced her. The Prophet then looked at 'Aisha and said, "She is really the daughter of Abu Bakr." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 47, Number 755)
Muhammad wasnt beneath breaking his oaths and acting hypocritically:
... He replied. I have not provided you with means of conveyance but Allah has provided you with it, and by Allah, Allah willing, if ever I take an oath to do something, and later on I find that it is more beneficial to do something different, I will do the thing which is better, and give expiation for my oath. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Number 361)
A man asked permission to enter upon the Prophet. When the Prophet saw him, he said, "What an evil brother of his tribe! And what an evil son of his tribe!" When that man sat down, the Prophet behaved with him in a nice and polite manner and was completely at ease with him. When that person had left, 'Aisha said (to the Prophet). "O Allah's Apostle! When you saw that man, you said so-and-so about him, then you showed him a kind and polite behavior, and you enjoyed his company?" Allah's Apostle said, "O 'Aisha! Have you ever seen me speaking a bad and dirty language? (Remember that) the worst people in Allah's sight on the Day of Resurrection will be those whom the people leave (undisturbed) to be away from their evil (deeds)." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, Number 59)
Muhammads hypocrisy knew no bounds.
For more on Muhammads integrity please consult the following:
3. Psychology. The Quran speaks to the prophet, commands him, and even criticizes him. Such contents do not point to the prophet as the self-conscious author. On the other hand, the author declares himself to be the creator of the heavens and the earth.
All this simply shows is that Muhammad was willing to make it as if God was addressing him personally as a way of convincing others that he was receiving heavenly messages. In fact, what better way to deceive people than to have "God" address you directly?
But Muhammad wasnt unique here, since there have been and continue to be many who claim that their god speaks to them directly. For instance, the Bhagavad Gita supposedly records the conversations between the hindu god Krishna and his disciple Arjuna. Here is an example of such a dialogue:
O Dhrtarastra, thereafter situated between the armies, Lord Krishna as if smiling, spoke these words to the grieving Arjuna. Lord Krishna said: you are mourning for those not worthy of sorrow; yet speaking like one knowledgeable. The earned neither lamets for the dead or the living. Bhagavad Gita 2.10-11
Now since the Bhagavad Gita has Krishna speaking directly to his pupil, even commanding and criticizing him, using Shabirs logic, this means that the Bhagavad Gita is a divinely revealed book and contains genuine messages from one of the Hindu deities. This then proves that the Hindu deities are real and not imaginary, which would not only undermine Islam but both Judaism and Christianity as well! So then why doesnt Shabir become a Hindu?
More importantly, as was already stated, it is quite plausible that Muhammad did receive messages from a spiritual entity. But it still doesnt follow from this that Muhammad was a genuine prophet since one must examine whether the spirit that spoke to Muhammad was from God or originated from a satanic deception.
The Holy Bible warns:
"Jesus answered them, Watch out that no one misleads you. For many will come in my name, saying, "I am the Christ," and they will mislead many ... Then if anyone says to you, "Look, here is the Christ!" or "There he is!" do not believe him. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. Remember, I have told you ahead of time." Matthew 24:4-5, 23-25
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospelwhich is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!" Galatians 1:6-9
"Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the later times some will desert the faith and occupy themselves with deceiving spirits and demonic teachings, influenced by the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared. They will prohibit marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth." 1 Timothy 4:1-3
This is why the Holy Bible commands true believers to test and see whether the so-called prophet is truly from God or not by comparing his/her message with the genuine message of the biblical prophets:
"Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist-he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also." 1 John 2:22-23
"Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses Jesus as the Christ who has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God, and this is the spirit of the antichrist, that you have heard is coming, and now is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have conquered them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the worlds perspective and the world listens to them. We are from God; the person who knows God listens to us, but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit." 1 John 4:1-6
"Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in THE TEACHING OF CHRIST does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work." 2 John 1:7-11
Interestingly, the Quran itself says that we are to test Muhammads message with the Holy Bible:
And if thou (Muhammad) art in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto thee, then question those who read the Scripture (that was) before thee. Verily the Truth from thy Lord hath come unto thee. So be not thou of the waverers. S. 10:94 Pickthall
Muhammad contradicted the teachings of Gods genuine messengers and prophets and therefore cannot be a true prophet. Hence, if there was a spirit that spoke to Muhammad, then it was either Satan or one of his demons. It wasnt a pure spirit from God.
Muhammad himself initially believed that he was demon-possessed:
So I [Muhammad] read it, and he [Gabriel] departed from me. And I awoke from my sleep, and it was though these words were written on my heart. (Tabari: Now none of God's creatures was more hateful to me than an (ecstatic) poet or a man POSSESSED: I could not even look at them. I thought, Woe is me poet or POSSESSED - Never shall Quraysh say this of me! I will go to the top of the mountain and throw myself down that I may kill myself and gain rest. So I went forth to do so and then) when I was midway on the mountain, I heard a voice from heaven saying "O Muhammad! thou are the apostle of God and I am Gabriel." (Alfred Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad, Oxford University Press, p. 106; bold and capital emphasis ours)
We believe that Muhammads initial analysis may not have been off the mark.
Shabir may wish to challenge this statement by arguing that the Quran warns against and condemns Satan. From this Shabir may wish to prove that Satan could not be the author of the Quran. After all, didnt Jesus himself say that Satan cannot drive himself out, otherwise his kingdom cannot stand? (cf. Matthew 12:26)
It is correct that if Satan truly does fight against himself then his kingdom cannot stand. But who says that Islam is truly opposing Satan? The problem with this position is that it assumes that the Satan referred to in the Quran is the real thing, as opposed to being a satanic counterfeit aimed at deceiving Muslims into thinking that they are opposing the real enemy of God. It also assumes that Islam is truly a revealed religion and is therefore a real threat against the Devil.
The Holy Bible says that Satan appears as a righteous angel, an emissary of truth, in order to deceive people from discovering and embracing the true religion:
"I hope you will put up with a little of my foolishness; but you are already doing that. I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpents cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough ... For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve." 2 Corinthians 11:1-4, 13-15
Satan doesnt care whether someone is religious and believes in a god, just as long as a person doesnt believe in the true God and embraces the right Gospel. It is only the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ that sets men free from the lies and bondage of Satan:
"The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’ He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’" Luke 10:17-20
"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." Romans 1:16
"Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil - and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." Hebrews 2:14-15
"He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work." 1 John 3:8
Besides, if negative comments against Satan prove that a religion cannot be satanic in origin, then what will Shabir do with the Book of Mormon or the other religious texts that also speak negatively of the Devil? Will he be consistent and argue, based on this observation, that these too must be revealed religions? Obviously not, and this goes to show the utter shallowness and weakness of such argumentation.
Finally, Muhammad wasnt above correcting and changing the "revelation" by inserting the words of his scribes. Case in point:
Who is more wicked than the man who invents a falsehood about God, or says: "This was revealed to me", when nothing was revealed to him? Or the man who says, "I can reveal the like of what God has revealed"? S. 6:93 N.J. Dawood
The following commentators explain why this verse was "revealed":
"Islamic commentators claim that the first part of this verse refers to Musaylima (the false prophet), but that the second part is about Abdallah b. Sa'd b. Abi Sarh. In fact, Abdallah was the scribe who wrote down the so-called divine revelation for Muhammad and ended up becoming an apostate. He later joined the polytheists (idolaters). Islamic expositors provide us with a full account of the incident. When Sura Al-Muminun 23:12 was inspired, 'Verily, we created man from a product of wet earth,' the Prophet called him and dictated it to him until he finished with, 'and then produced it another creation' (Sura Al-Muminun 23:14). At that moment, Abdallah was so impressed with and amazed at the detailed stages of man's creation that he said: 'Blessed be Allah, the best of creators!' (Sura Al-Muminun 23:14). Immediately Muhammad said, 'This is how it was inspired to me.' This definitely made Abdallah very suspicious and he said to himself: 'If Muhammad is a true prophet, then I also receive divine inspiration (wahy) like him. And if he is false, I only say what he has said.' For this reason, he deserted Islam and joined the idolaters. This is what the verse means: 'I will reveal the like of that which Allah has revealed.' Al-Kalbi related this account as he heard it from Ibn Abbas. Muhammad b. Ishaq also related it. He said: 'Shurahbil said to me: "This verse was inspired regarding Abdallah b. Sa'd b. Abi Sarh. I will reveal a similar inspiration like that of Allah.' In fact, he deserted Islam. When Muhammad entered Mecca, he commanded that he be killed, together with Abdallah b. Khatal and Maqias b. Subaba even if they were to be found hidden behind the Ka'ba curtains. Abdallah b. Sa'd b. Abi Sarh fled to Uthman, who was his foster brother. So Uthman concealed him until he was brought to Muhammad, having sensed security and safety from Uthman's assurance. Muhammad kept silent for a long time, but then said: 'Yes!' When Uthman left, Muhammad said: 'I only kept silent so that some of you may go and cut off his head.' A man from the Ansar said to him: 'Will you make a gesture to do that for you?' Muhammad replied: 'The Prophet should not give orders through an eye-gesture.' (i.e., he implies that he can, with authority, command Ibn Sarh be killed without resorting to eye gestures. See al-Qurtubi on Sura al-An'am 6:109; bold emphasis ours)
"To me it has been revealed, when naught has been revealed to him refers to 'Abdallah Ibn Sa'd Ibn Abi Sarh, who used to write for God's messenger. The verse (23:12) that says, We created man of an extraction of clay was revealed, and when Muhammad reached the part that says, ... thereafter We produced him as another creature (23:14), Abdallah said, So blessed be God the fairest of creators! in amazement at the details of man's creation. The prophet said, "Write it down; for thus it has been revealed." Abdallah doubted and said, If Muhammad is truthful then I receive the revelation as much as he does, and if he is a liar, what I said is as good as what he said." (Quoted from the famous Tafsir Anwar al-Tanzil wa Asrar al-Tawil by 'Abdallah Ibn 'Umar al-Baidawi; bold emphasis ours)
Again, if God was speaking with Muhammad then how could the latter dare change what God had revealed to him and insert the words of fallible men?
Furthermore, by agreeing to change the so-called "revelation" Muhammad violated the following Quranic verses:
And when Our clear revelations are recited unto them, they who look not for the meeting with Us say: Bring a Lecture other than this, or change it. Say (O Muhammad): It is not for me to change it of my accord. I only follow that which is inspired in me. Lo! if I disobey my Lord I fear the retribution of an awful Day. S. 10:15 Pickthall
That this is verily the word of an honoured apostle; It is not the word of a poet: little it is ye believe! Nor is it the word of a soothsayer: little admonition it is ye receive. (This is) a Message sent down from the Lord of the Worlds. And if the apostle were to invent any sayings in Our name, We should certainly seize him by his right hand, And We should certainly then cut off the artery of his heart: S. 69:40-46 Y. Ali
The preceding verses imply that Muhammad came under the judgement and curse of Allah for doing what he wasnt suppose to do, namely, change the "revelation" and replace it with the words of an uninspired human being.
Amazingly, the Muslim traditions state that Muhammad died due to the effects of poison, which Muhammad claimed cut at his jugular vein.
.... The apostle of Allah lived after this three years till in consequence of his pain he passed away. During his illness he used to say, "I did not cease to find the effect of the (poisoned) morsel, I took at Khaibar and I suffered several times (from its effect) but now I feel the hour has come of the cutting of my jugular vein." (Ibn Sa'd, Kitab Al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, Volume II, pp. 251-252)
The messenger of God said during the illness from which he died - the mother of Bishr had come in to visit him - "Umm Bishr, at this very moment I feel my aorta being severed because of the food I ate with your son at Khaybar." (Al-Tabari, History, Volume 8, p. 124)
In a footnote to the second quotation, the translator of al-Tabari writes that the expression, "it severed his aorta" need not be taken literally; it is used metaphorically for extreme pain. (For more details on the death of Muhammad, see this article.)
Be that as it may, the fact that Muhammad died a very painful death, using language reminiscent of that which is described in Surah 69:45-46, indicates that Allah punished Muhammad for changing the Quran.
Thus, Muhammad not only failed the biblical criteria for being a genuine prophet of God, he even failed the Quran's own criterion which exposes him as a forger!
For further reading please consult the following:
4. History. The prophet was incapable of writing the Quran. The Quran details items of history which were not known to the prophet or his contemporaries. And independent studies confirm that the Quran was true in what it said.
Independent studies confirm that the Quran contains substantial errors of history, and that most of what the Quran says can be found in the pre-existing myths, fables and legends of the Jews, Christians, pagans etc. Here is an example of a gross historical mistake within the Quran:
And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, the apostle of Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa) and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for sure. Nay! Allah took him up to Himself; and Allah is Mighty, Wise. S. 4:157-158 Shakir
The Quran denies that Christ was killed or crucified, a claim which no genuine scholar or historian takes seriously. The Quran also says that there was crucifixion in Egypt during the time of Joseph and Moses, and that John the Baptists name was Yahya! (Cf. 7:124; 12:41; 19:7; 26:49.)
There are many more, but for now we defer our readers to the following material:
5. Prophecy. The Quran speaks prophetically, detailing what the future holds. Then the future unfolds exactly as foretold. Who could author such a book?
First, even if the Quran did contain prophecies, this still wouldnt prove its divine inspiration. The Holy Bible plainly says:
"If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, Let us follow other gods (gods you have not known) and let us worship them, you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he preached rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery; he has tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you." Deuteronomy 13:1-5
"The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish BECAUSE THEY REFUSED TO LOVE THE TRUTH and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness." 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
Even Muhammad was aware of this fact, since he is reported to have said:
Some people asked Allah's Apostle about the fore-tellers. He said, "They are nothing." They said, "O Allah's Apostle! Sometimes they tell us of a thing which turns out to be true." Allah's Apostle said, "A Jinn snatches that true word and pours it into the ear of his friend (the fore-teller) (as one puts something into a bottle). The foreteller then mixes with that word one hundred lies." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 71, Number 657)
Some people asked the Prophet regarding the soothsayers. He said, "They are nothing." They said, "O Allah's Apostle! Some of their talks come true." The Prophet said, "That word which happens to be true is what a Jinn snatches away by stealth (from the Heaven) and pours it in the ears of his friend (the foreteller) with a sound like the cackling of a hen. The soothsayers then mix with that word, one hundred lies." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 650)
Muhammad realized that jinns, or demons, were capable of conveying details about future events to soothsayers or furtune tellers in order to deceive people. Likewise, it is quite possible (in fact we believe actual) that Muhammad too was inspired by demons in order to deceive people away from the truth of God.
Again, consistency with the previous prophetic message is the key factor in determining whether one is a true prophet or not.
Moreover, the Quran contains no genuine prophecies at all, especially like those found in the Holy Bible. In fact, some of the so-called prophecies mentioned in the Quran failed to transpire as stated. We limit ourselves to the following example:
"The Roman Empire has been defeated - in a land close by: But they, (even) after (this) defeat of theirs, will soon be victorious - within a few years." S. 30:2-4
This alleged prophecy is wrought with problems and is a great example of just how incoherent, incomplete and unintelligible the Quran truly is. First of all, who exactly defeated the Romans? When were they defeated? Where were they defeated? The Quran fails to answer any of these questions.
Furthermore, why does Allah have to guess at the precise time the Roman victory would transpire? If God is indeed speaking, then why is he guessing that the victory would occur within a few years? Didnt Allah know the exact time? Lest Shabir misrepesent our point here, we want to clarify that we are not stating that God MUST give a time frame for the fulfillment of a specific prophecy. We are simply saying that if God does choose to give a time period, then we would expect that he would be more precise in stating the actual number of years. We dont expect an all-knowing Deity to guess that it would take place within a few years.
Finally, according to sources outside of the Quran, this alleged prophecy is dated 615 A.D and refers to the defeat of the Romans at the hands of the Persians. Some Muslims are of the opinion that the Arabic expression "a few years" signifies a period between 3 to 9 years, implying that the Roman victory would occur anywhere between 618 to 624 A.D. Yet according to secular sources the Romans didnt completely defeat the Persians until the month of December in the year 627, roughly 12 years later!
In other words, the Quran was wrong regarding the time range of the Roman victory (assuming of course that the Quran is indeed referring to the Roman and Persian conflict).
Please read the following for more on this issue as well as on other false prophecies in the Quran:
6. Science. The Quran draws attention to a wide range of physical phenomena in order to teach moral lessons. The statements were not meant to teach science. Yet modern scientists are amazed at the accuracy of these statements. For example, the Quran said things about the growth and development of the human embryo which could not be studied without the use of a microscope. Dr. Keith Moore was professor and chairman of the Department of Anatomy at the University of Toronto. After reviewing the Quranic statements he said: ""I am amazed at the accuracy of these statements which were already made in the 7th century AD."" Such knowledge in the Quran points to God as its source.
First, assuming that the Quran contains accurate scientific information, this again wouldnt mean that it was inspired by God. All this would mean is that some higher power revealed this information to Muhammad, that higher power being Satan or a demon. Satan and demons have been around longer than man and know and see things that man doesnt know or can see. Hence, Satan or a demon could have easily revealed to Muhammad what occurs in a mothers womb.
But this is assuming that the Quran does contain accurate scientific information, when in fact it does not (at least in the case of the developing embryo). Actually, the Qur'an is notorious for its scientific blunders and mistakes as the following page shows:
Again, for the sake of brevity we will limit ourselves to one example:
"It is Allah Who has created seven heavens, and earths as many ..." S. 65:12, F. Maliks translation
What will Shabir do with the above claim that there are seven earths? Try to explain it away by saying that the number seven is symbolic? If so, what is it symbolic of? But more importantly, what will he do with all those hadiths and Muslim expositors who taught that there were literally seven heavens and earths? For instance, Muslim historian and Quranic commentator Al-Tabari wrote:
According to Muhammad b. Sahl b. 'Askar-Isma'il b. 'Abd al-Karim-Wahb, mentioning some of his majesty (as being described as follows): The heavens and the earth and the oceans are in the haykal, and the haykal is in the Footstool. Gods feet are upon the Footstool. He carries the Footstool. It became like a sandal on His feet. When Wahb was asked: What is the haykal? He replied: Something on the heavens' extremities that surrounds the earth and the oceans like ropes that are used to fasten a tent. And when Wahb was asked how earths are (constituted), he replied: They are seven earths that are FLAT and islands. Between each two earths, there is an ocean. All that is surrounded by the (surrounding) ocean, and the haykal is behind the ocean. (History of Al-Tabari - General Introduction and From the Creation to the Flood, Volume 1, trans. Franz Rosenthal [State University of New York Press, Albany 1989], pp. 207-208)
It seems that the real miracle here is the Muslim science of reinterpreting the Quran in order to make it agree with modern science.
For more on seven earths as well as the flat earth Quran, please read:
7. Consistency. The Quran challenges skeptics to find errors in it, which, if found, would disprove its divine claim. But no one has yet been able to point to a real error in it.
This claim expresses more of Shabirs wishful thinking than it it does the actual contents of the Quran. The Quran contains many errors as we document here:
An example of a contradiction within the Quran is Surah 3:144 which states that ALL messengers died before Muhammad. This is contradicted by 3:55 and 4:157-158 which says that Jesus was raised alive to God. The Quran also says in 14:4 and 30:47 that messengers were sent only to their people. However, both the Holy Bible, the Qur'an, and the Muslim traditions confirm that Jonah was sent to a different nation (cf. the book of Jonah; Quran 10:98; 21:87-88; 37:139-148).
8. Inimitability. A unique feature of the Quran is that no one is able to produce a book that would match its beauty, eloquence and wisdom. The Quran itself challenges humankind to produce even a chapter like it. But no one has been able to do it.
The claim that the Quran is beautiful and eloquent doesnt prove that it is from God, as even Muhammad admitted:
Narrated Abdullah bin Umar:
Two men came from the East and addressed the people who wondered at their eloquent speeches. On that Allah's Apostle said, "Some eloquent speech IS AS EFFECTIVE AS MAGIC." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 71, Number 662)
Malik related to me from Zayd ibn Aslam that Abdullah ibn Umar said, "Two men from the east stood up and spoke, AND PEOPLE WERE AMAZED AT THEIR ELOQUENCE. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, Some eloquence IS SORCERY, or he said, Part of eloquence is sorcery." (Maliks Muwatta, Book 56, Number 56.3.7)
Hence, one can argue that the Qurans eloquence was a result of sorcery or magic, which would go hand in hand with Muhammad being inspired by a wicked spirit since all magic and sorcery is evil in origin.
Furthermore, those who have objectively examined the Quran will tell you that although there are parts of it which are indeed beautiful and eloquent, there are many other parts that are unintelligble and barbaric.
The late Iranian scholar Ali Dashti, in his book, Twenty-Three Years: A study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammad (Allen and Unwin, London, 1985), wrote:
"Among the Moslem scholars of the early period, before bigotry and hyperbole prevailed, were some such as Ebrahim on-Nazzam who openly acknowledged that the arrangement and syntax of the Qor'an are not miraculous and that work of equal or greater value could be produced by other God-fearing persons." (p. 48)
"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 gender and number; illogically and ungrammatically applied pronouns which sometimes have no referent; and predicates which in rhymed passages are often remote from the subjects. These and other such aberrations in the language have given scope to critics who deny the Qor'ans eloquence. The problem also occupied the minds of devout Moslems. It forced the commentators to search for explanations and was probably one of the causes of disagreement over readings." (pp. 48-49)
"To sum up, more than one hundred Qoranic aberrations from the normal rules and structure of Arabic have been noted. Needless to say, the commentators strove to find explanations and justifications of these irregularities. Among them was the great commentator and philologist Mahmud oz-Zamakhshari (467/1075-538/1144), of whom a Moorish author wrote: This grammar-obsessed pedant has committed a shocking error. Our task is not to make the readings conform to Arabic grammar, but to take the whole of the Qoran as it is and make Arabic grammar conform to the Qoran." (p. 50)
"Neither the Qorans eloquence nor its moral and legal precepts are miraculous. The Qoran is miraculous because it enabled Mohammad, single-handedly and despite poverty and illiteracy, to overcome his peoples resistance and found a lasting religion because it moved wild men to obedience and imposed its bringers will on them." (p. 57) [bold emphasis ours]
The great scholar Nöldeke claims:
"On the whole, while many parts of the Koran undoubtedly have considerable rhetorical power, even over an unbelieving reader, the book aesthetically considered, is by no means a first rate performance Let us look at some of the more extended narratives. It has already been noticed how vehement and abrupt they are where they ought to be characterised by epic repose. Indispensable links, both in expression and in the sequence of events, are often omitted, so that to understand these histories is sometimes far easier for us than for those who heard them first, because we know most of them from better sources. Along with this, there is a good deal of superfluous verbiage; and nowhere do we find a steady advance in the narration. Contrast in these respects the history of Joseph (xii) and its glaring improprieties with the admirably conceived and admirably executed story in Genesis. Similar faults are found in the non narrative portions of the Koran. The connexion of ideas is extremely loose, and even the syntax betrays great awkwardness. Anacolutha [want of syntactical sequence; when the latter part of the sentence does not grammatically fit the earlier] are of frequent occurrence, and cannot be explained as conscious literary devices. Many sentences begin with a when or on the day when which seems to hover in the air, so that commentators are driven to supply a think of this or some such ellipsis. Again, there is no great literary skill evinced in the frequent and needless harping on the same words and phrases; in xviii, for example till that occurs no fewer than eight times. Mahomet, in short, is not in any sense a master of style." (Ibn Warraq, Why I am not a Muslim [Prometheus Books; Amherst NY, 1995], pp. 110-111; bold emphasis ours)
Richard Bell and W. M. Watt believe that the uneasiness of the Quranic structure is actual proof that the text has been altered:
"There are indeed many roughnesses of this kind, and these, it is here claimed, are fundamental evidence for revision. Besides the points already noticed hidden rhymes, and rhyme-phrases not woven into the texture of the passage there are the following: abrupt changes of rhyme; repetition of the same rhyme word or rhyme phrase in adjoining verses; the intrusion of an extraneous subject into a passage otherwise homogeneous; a differing treatment of the same subject in neighboring verses, often with repetition of words and phrases; breaks in grammatical construction which raise difficulties in exegesis; abrupt changes in the length of verses; sudden changes of the dramatic situation, with changes of pronoun from singular to plural, from second to third person, and so on; the juxtaposition of apparently contradictory statements; the juxtaposition of passages of different date, with the intrusion of late phrases into early verses.
"In many cases a passage has alternative continuations which follow one another in the present text. The second of the alternatives is marked by a break in sense and by a break in grammatical construction, since the connection is not with what immediately precedes, but with what stands some distance back." (Bell & Watt, Introduction to the Quran [Edinburgh, 1977], p. 93; Ibn Warraq, pp. 112-113; bold emphasis ours)
Finally, the challenge to produce a chapter like the Qur'an is utterly subjective. How many Muslims would even dare to admit that the challenge has been met? Fortunately, there have been some honest Muslims who admit that the challenge could be met, some of whom are mentioned above by Dashti.
And in fact, it has been met:
For more on the Qurans challenge see:
These eight reasons together form a strong cumulative case in favor of the Qurans divine origin. Hence Muslims can be confident that the belief of Islam, which is based on the Quran, is true.
Shabirs eight reasons, whether taken individually or collectively, utterly fail to provide a strong cumulative case for the Qurans divine origin. Muslims really have no basis to argue for or to believe in the inspiration of the Quran. This is perhaps the reason why Shabir has been unwilling to debate us on whether Muhammad is a real prophet since he evidently realizes that he really has no good reasons for believing in Islam. Shabir would rather spend his time debating Christian issues than Muslim ones. We dont blame him since we already know that there are no good arguments or evidences for believing in either Muhammad or the Quran.
Fortunately, there is overwhelming evidence in favor of the Bibles divine origin, some of which is detailed in links on this page.
Responses to Shabir Ally
Articles by Sam Shamoun
Answering Islam Home Page