Muhammad and Poetry Revisited Again and Again
Bassam Zawadi has again tried to defend Muhammad's double standards in reference to the use of poetry (1, 2, 3). In his paper he brought up two biblical passages to try and justify the contradictions between the Quran and the hadiths regarding poetry. He also asserted that the prohibition of poetry was a gradual process and that pre-Islamic poetry was absolutely useless. The focus of this present article will be to address these specific points. Lord Jesus permitting, we will follow this up with a refutation of the rest of his article in order to examine just how well he did in trying to justify Muhammad's inconsistency. He writes:
Exactly, Sam why don't u just let the text say that Jesus is not omniscient?http://www.answering-christianity.com/bassam_zawadi/mark13_32.htm Why do you go and complicate things?
This verse and the argument raised by Zawadi have nothing at all to do with Muhammads dealings with poetry. The topic is worth to be discussed but in this article it only serves to distract from the topic of discussion.
Only these comments for now: I do let the text say what it says. Yet I also seek to understand this text in light of what the overall context of that particular Gospel says about Jesus, as well as what the entire Bible teaches in reference to the Person of Christ. Once I do that then I am forced to conclude that Jesus is both God and man simultaneously, which means that he is both all-knowing in relation to his Deity but limited in reference to his humanity. For more on these points please consult the following:
However, if Zawadi wants to venture into these issues then here are some verses regarding Allah being ignorant and needing to learn and discover things:
If a wound has afflicted you (at Ohud), a wound like it has also afflicted the (unbelieving) people; and We bring these days to men by turns, and that Allah MAY KNOW those who believe and take witnesses from among you; and Allah does not love the unjust. And that He may purge those who believe and deprive the unbelievers of blessings. Do you think that you will enter the garden while Allah has NOT YET KNOWN those who strive hard from among you, and (He has not) known the patient. S. 3:140-142 Shakir
That which befell you, on the day when the two armies met, was by permission of Allah; that He MIGHT KNOW the true believers; And that He MIGHT KNOW the hypocrites, unto whom it was said: Come, fight in the way of Allah, or defend yourselves. They answered: If we knew aught of fighting we would follow you. On that day they were nearer disbelief than faith. They utter with their mouths a thing which is not in their hearts. Allah is Best Aware of what they hide. S. 3:166-167 Pickthall
Say: "I know not whether the (Punishment) which ye are promised is near, or whether my Lord will appoint for it a distant term. He (alone) knows the Unseen, nor does He make any one acquainted with His Secrets.- Except an messenger whom He has chosen: and then He makes a band of watchers march before him and behind him, That He MAY KNOW that they have (truly) brought and delivered the Messages of their Lord: and He encompasses all that is with them, and takes account of every single thing." S. 72:25-28
There have even been specific Muslims who used some of these very passages to prove that Allah doesn't know the future, necessitating certain Muslims to find convenient explanations and reinterpretations to refute them. For instance, Muslim scholar Mahmoud M. Ayoub lists Ar-Razi's response to those who used S. 3:143 as proof that Allah does not know the future:
"Razi is interested in the theological problems raised by the phrase in order that God may know. He argues that the literal sense of God's saying, "in order that God may know" would suggest that God alternated [the days] IN ORDER TO ACQUIRE KNOWLEDGE. Obviously, this is impossible of God. Razi cites verse 143, and a number of other verses where this phrase, or one like it, occurs. He alleges that Hisham b. al-Hakkam, a well-known disciple of the Sixth Imam Jafar al-Sadiq, used such verses to argue that God does not know incidents until they occur. The answer of the theologians to this argument, Razi says, is that rational proofs have conclusively established that no change ever occurs in God's knowledge. The linguistic usage of calling something that is known with the metaphor "knowledge," or something that is subject to power with the metaphor "power" is well known. Thus any Qur'anic verse the literal sense of which indicates acquisition of knowledge [by God] actually means the occurrence of a known.
Razi then presents several possible interpretations of this phrase. First that sincerity may be distinguished from hypocrisy and the person of faith from the rejecter of faith. Secondly, that the friends (awliya) of God may know, though He attributes this knowledge to Himself by way of exalting them. Thirdly, that God may judge in accordance with this distinction, but such judgment cannot happen except with knowledge. Finally, that God may know this [i.e., faith and patience] to have actually occurred from them, although He knew that it would occur. This is because recompense must be accorded for something which actually is, and not for something which is known to occur in the future. Razi seems to prefer the first of these interpretations (Razi, IX, pp. 14-18)" (Ayoub, The Qur'an and Its Interpreters, Volume II, The House of Imran [State University of New York Press, Albany, 1992], p. 330; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Notice the warped logic of ar-Razi. May know doesn't really mean that, it really means the occurrence of something known! Another commentator troubled by these passages was Tabarsi. Ayoub writes:
"Tabarsi is specially concerned with the theological implications of the phrase in order that God know ..
Tabarsi offers a number of explanations of God's knowledge as described in this verse, all aimed at affirming God's absolute and eternal omniscience. In order that God may know those who truly have faith means in order that He may know them as being distinguished by their faith from all others. Hence, the words in order that He may know do not mean being informed, for the meaning is not that He does not know them as objects of knowledge in themselves, but that He may know them as distinguished by faith. They MAY also mean in order that God may know those who have faith by the manifestation of their steadfastness in striving against their enemies. This is to say, God would treat them as one who knows them to be in this condition, even though He knows them before the manifestation of their faith as He does after it. It is that he knows before they had manifested their faith that they will do so. When they ad in fact manifested their faith, He knew them as such; hence change occurs, not in the knower, but in the known. The words MAY also mean in order that the friends of God may know, though God attributed this knowledge to Himself by way of honoring them. It is also possible that they mean in order that the patience of those who shall be patient, the fright of those who are cowardly, and the faith of the faithful may appear and be known. They MAY also mean in order that sincerity and hypocrisy of the people may be manifested (Tabarsi, IV, pp. 208-210)." (Ibid., pp. 331, 332; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)
Note how many explanations Tabarsi had to come up with to avoid the plain meaning of the Quran. And yet some of his explanations are even more incoherent, as in his claim that "may know" doesn't mean that Allah doesn't already know but that he may know believers by their being distinguished by their faith. His other explanation is even more amazing, i.e. that Allah is not saying that he may know but that the believers may know, and yet he attributed their ignorance to himself in order to honor them! How wonderful, Allah honors his servants by ascribing ignorance to himself! For more on Allah's imperfect knowledge please read this article.
So now Bassam, why don't you simply allow these texts prove to you that your god Allah isn't omniscient, that he really is an ignoramus?
Later he says:
How would Sam feel if I just quoted only one verse from the Bible for him and took it completely out of context?
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
Oh look Jesus was a violent man!!
Now to Sam that would sound so ridiculous because it is taken out of context and you need to read the other verses in order to understand what Jesus is saying.
Similarly to me as a Muslim what Sam is saying is completely ridiculous because he has to take all the other hadith and Quranic verses in context and look at them in a whole and know what kind of poetry the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was talking about.
The fact of the matter is that Muslims do exactly that; they abuse this verse in order to make Jesus look violent or to justify Muhammads violence. Note the following articles from the answering-christianity website which distort this text:
We want to therefore personally thank Zawadi for exposing his colleagues and for admitting that they are being absolutely ridiculous.
More importantly, we have answered the misinterpretations of this passage so many times:
So we will brief here. In order to understand Jesus' point we need to examine the immediate context:
"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy o me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it." Matthew 10:28-39
As the context clearly shows, the sword Jesus was speaking of is the sword of division that occurs when members of a household embrace the Lord Jesus and the rest do not. The unbelievers in a family will oftentimes persecute the believers, thereby destroying the peace and bond that once was there or existed among them. This is why Jesus warned the disciples beforehand about the sufferings they would have to endure for his name's sake, telling them quite plainly that they needed to make a decision to love Jesus above all things, even above family ties, and be willing to die for him.
Zawadi tried to parallel this text with our citations of the Quran in order to insinuate that we were quoting out of context, which is not the case at all. After all, there is nothing in the Quran which speaks positively of poetry, but a strict condemnation of its use. Moreover, there is nothing in the immediate context of those specific passages that we cited which changes the meaning in the least. Thus, unlike Matthew 10:34 where the immediate context provides clarification for Jesus' words, the Quran provides no such context whereby a person can conclude that it is only condemning bad poetry or its contents, as opposed to its form. More on this shortly.
Later on Zawadi will say:
Like I said before, the Prophet ordered Hasan to lampoon the disbelievers in self defense of the Prophets honor. The Ansar were rebuking each other and the Prophet did not want the believers to rebuke each other. Sam criticizes this point by saying
Or is it only wrong for others to ridicule Muhammad but not wrong for Muslims to ridicule the enemies of Islam? If so, then this shows the arbitrary nature of Islam, and is exactly the inconsistency that we have been talking about all along.
So how does he explain the fact that Jesus told his disciples that it was wrong for them to call their brothers fools (Matthew 5:22) but Jesus went ahead and called the hypocrites fools (Matthew 23:17). Does that also show the arbitrary nature of Jesus according to Sam Shamoun? The word fool that Jesus prohibited his followers to call their brothers in Greek is 'moros' (Source:http://www.blueletterbible.org/tmp_dir/c/1138729327-1651.html#22) and this is the very same word that Jesus called the hypocrites in Matthew 23:17 (Source: http://www.blueletterbible.org/tmp_dir/c/1138729364-3169.html#17)
So Sam should either stop using this argument against the glorious Prophet Muhammad because the Prophet had the right to tell his followers to defend his honor and Islam against poetry with poetry. He didn't go around calling disbelievers fools like Jesus of the Bible.
As a matter of fact the example about Jesus calling the disbelievers fools is not behavior of a Prophet as he is supposed to have more patience and better approach than that.
Here is how I explain what Jesus did by looking carefully at the context:
"You have heard that it was said to the men of old, `You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults HIS BROTHER shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, `You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that YOUR BROTHER has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to YOUR BROTHER, and then come and offer your gift. Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny." Matthew 5:21-27
As Zawadi himself noted, Jesus was referring to a brother. He wasn't referring to just anyone. And who exactly is a brother according to Christ? Those who do God's will:
"But he replied to the man who told him, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother.’" Matthew 12:48-50
"Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’" Matthew 7:21-23
And what exactly is the will of God? To believe in his Son Jesus Christ whom he sent:
"Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’ ... ‘For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.’" John 6:29, 38-40
Now did the Pharisees and scribes whom Jesus rebuked believe that he was God's Son and the Messiah? Not at all:
"And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, 'Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?' But he was silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, 'Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?' And Jesus said, 'I am; and you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.' And the high priest tore his garments, and said, 'Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?' And they all condemned him as deserving death. And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to strike him, saying to him, 'Prophesy!' And the guards received him with blows." Mark 14:60-65
Were they, therefore, Jesus' brothers? Far from it.
Moreover, Zawadi is attacking a straw man at this point since I didn't say it was wrong for Muhammad to criticize his opponents. I said it was wrong for Muhammad to use poetry to criticize his opponents when elsewhere he condemned poetry altogether. In other words, Muhammad allowed poetry if it served his purpose but condemned it when it didn't.
Regarding Zawadis verdict that "calling the disbelievers fools is not behavior of a Prophet as he is supposed to have more patience and better approach than that" one may certainly wonder whether he really considers murdering Muhammads critics and commanding the slaughter of disbelievers a better approach and a great example of exhibiting that extra share of patience?
Finally, even if Muhammad did not personally lampoon and insult the disbelievers but used a poet to do so on his behalf, is that any better?
Zawadi will say regarding the assertion that Sura 26:226 abrogated 26:223-225:
I am quite speechless to tell the truth. Does Shamoun even know what he had just written? Does he even know that he just refuted him self by the sources he just provided? Yes indeed poetry in general was prohibited because the poetry back then was only poetry about worldly affairs and about luxury. Now however, when the time came when poetry needed to be used in order to defend Islam God sent down the verse. First God had the Muslims forget all the poetry that they had learned in the pre Islamic days because it was absolutely useless but now they could use it for the sake of Islam. What is wrong with this?
Obviously Sam does not believe the Quran is the word of God. He does not believe in the wisdom of God who gradually sends down verses in order to better suit the believers who will adapt to it. eg.http://www.answering-christianity.com/bassam_zawadi/gradual_prohibition_of_alcohol.htm
Now Shamoun has to read the whole Quran in context now. The verse is only referring to bad poetry. He says that Muslims fabricated the Ibn Kathir commentary. Hilarious indeed. Evidence please?
Shamoun's arguments becoming worse the more he talks. When the Prophet used to recite the Quran to the Quraysh they claimed that it was just mere poetry. So God sent down 36:39 to tell them that the Prophet was not even capable of saying poetry because he was not even good in poetry even if he tried to behttp://quran.al-islam.com/Tafseer/DispTafsser.asp?l=arb&taf=KORTOBY&nType=1&nSora=36&nAya=69. So what the Prophet was telling them was not poetry but a revelation from God.
"nor is it meet for him" means the Prophet was not even capable of being a poet if he even wanted to.
Let us see who has understood what and who it is that is left speechless:
Yes indeed poetry IN GENERAL was prohibited because the poetry back then was only poetry about worldly affairs and about luxury.
So Zawadi ADMITS that the Quran does prohibit poetry in general, not just certain types of poetry! Talk about someone not realizing what he has written. Zawadi tries to pull a fast one on his readers since he distorts even what his own Muslim sources say regarding the content of pre-Islamic poetry. Note what these following narrations claim:
867. Shurayh said, "I ask 'A'isha, may Allah be pleased her with, 'Did the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, recite any poetry?' She said, 'He used to recite some of the poetry of 'Abdullah ibn Rawaha:
'Someone to whom you have not given provision brings you news.'"
869. Ash-Sharid said, "The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, asked me to recite the poetry of Umayya ibn Abi's-Salt and I recited it. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, began to say, 'Go on, go on!' until I had recited a hundred lines.' The Prophet said, 'If only he had become Muslim.'" (Al-Adab al-Mufrad Al-Bukhari, XXXV. Poetry; online source)
Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, "The most true words said by a poet was the words of Labid." He said, Verily, Everything except Allah is perishable and Umaiya bin As-Salt was about to be a Muslim (but he did not embrace Islam). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 181)
Note carefully what Zawadi stated, since he says that poetry in general was prohibited because "back then" such poems were worldly in nature. Yet here we have both Muhammad and Ash-Sharid reciting pre-Islamic poetry, poetry composed by non-Muslims. Hence, if Zawadi is correct then this means that Muhammad was guilty of reciting poetry which had been prohibited since these poems were not beneficial due to their focus on worldly affairs and luxury!
Zawadi even dared to say that Allah had Muslims forget all the poetry that they had learned before Islam because it was useless. Is this why Muslims were still reciting pre-Islamic poetry after embracing Islam on the request of Muhammad himself? Is this also why Muhammad recited the poems of non-Muslims? Zawadi has managed to incriminate his own prophet by his statements.
Moreover, I didn't say that Muslims fabricated the Ibn Kathir commentary. Here is what I in fact said:
In light of this, it seems certain (at least to us) that Muslims fabricated the tradition CITED BY Ibn Kathir in order to explain why Muhammad allowed poets to compose poetry despite the Quran's express condemnation of it. In fact, this next narration provides further support that Muslims forged traditions in order to justify Muhammad's inconsistency:
Note that we said that the tradition which Ibn Kathir cited was fabricated, not that his commentary has been fabricated. As far as providing evidence that Muslims fabricated traditions in order to justify Muhammad's inconsistency concerning poetry, it is very simple since it is a matter of inference and deduction.
And what is actually getting worse is Zawadi's inability to address the issues raised. He admits that the people assumed that Muhammad's words were nothing more than poetry. How did Muhammad respond? By saying that it was beneath him to recite poetry. The problem that Zawadi doesn't want to see is that the response from Muhammad demonstrates that the Quran isn't merely condemning the contents of poetry, but the form itself.
Putting it simply, Zawadi obviously believes that the teachings of the Quran are pure and good, so there is nothing wrong with its content as far as he or even Muhammad are concerned. And yet when the people labeled Muhammad's Quran as poetry he was quick to condemn that statement by saying that poetry is not for him. What this implies is that the Quran is condemning the form of poetry itself, not merely its contents.
Furthermore, this again exposes Muhammad's inconsistency since he expressly stated that it wasn't befitting for him to recite poetry and yet we have narrations which say that he did in fact recite them! Note the implications of all of this:
As Ibn Kathir stated in reference to Sura 36:69:
Allah does not teach His Messenger Poetry
<And We have not taught him poetry, nor is it suitable for him.> Allah tells us that He has not taught His Prophet Muhammad poetry...
<nor is it suitable for him.> MEANS, he did not know how to compose it, HE DID NOT LIKE IT and he had no natural inclination towards it. It was narrated that he never memorized a stanza of poetry with the correct meter or rhyme -- he would transpose words or memorize it incompletely. In Ad-Dala'il, Al-Bayhaqi recorded that the Messenger of Allah said to Al-`Abbas bin Mirdas As-Sulami, may Allah be pleased with him...
<You are the one who said: "Do you distribute my booty and the booty of the servants between Al-Aqra` and `Uyainah."> He said, "It is `Uyainah and Al-Aqra`." He said...
<It is all the same.> i.e., it means the same thing. And Allah knows best. This is because Allah taught him the Qur'an, which...
<Falsehood cannot come to it from before it or behind it; sent down by the All-Wise, Worthy of all praise.) (41:42). This is not poetry, as some of the ignorant disbelievers of the Quraysh claimed; neither is it sorcery, a fabrication or a magic spell, as the misguided and ignorant people variously suggested. The Prophet was naturally disinclined to compose verse, and was forbidden to do so by Divine Law. (online source; underline an capital emphasis ours)
Not only does Ibn Kathir say that Muhammad was forbidden from composing poetry, he even claims that Muhammad hadn't memorized any nor did he like it. Now either Ibn Kathir was lying that Muhammad hadn't memorized or liked poetry or Aisha was. Both of them cannot be correct.
We now turn our attention to the final points that we wish to address for now. I had written in reference to Zawadi's quotation from Sura 16:44 in order to justify appealing to Muhammad's sunna that this particular text didn't prove the point Zawadi was trying to make. I stated that all this reference proved was that Muhammad would recite Quranic verses in order to address the specific issues raised by his contemporaries, and even provided verses supporting this exegesis. I also said that the immediate context actually commanded individuals to seek answers from the Jews and Christians as well. Here is how Zawadi responded:
Well those very verses that you cited are from the Quran! They are part of the 'thikr'. So why should God send the Prophet to make it clear?
The answer should rather be obvious, but it seems that it wasn't to Zawadi. In the first place, Muhammad wasn't sent to explain the Quran by providing explanations other than those given to him as part of the Quran. The Quran says that it is Allah who explains the Quran for the people:
And obey God and obey the Messenger, and beware; but if you turn your backs, then know that it is ONLY for Our Messenger to deliver the Message Manifest. S. 5:92 Arberry
The duty of the messenger IS ONLY TO CONVEY (the message). Allah knoweth what ye proclaim and what ye hide. Say: The evil and the good are not alike even though the plenty of the evil attract thee. So be mindful of your duty to Allah, O men of understanding, that ye may succeed. O ye who believe! Ask not of things which, if they were made known unto you, would trouble you; but if ye ask of them when the Qur'an is being revealed, they will be made known unto you. Allah pardoneth this, for Allah is Forgiving, Clement. A folk before you asked (for such disclosures) and then disbelieved therein. S. 5:99-101 Pickthall
And the idolaters say, `If ALLAH had so willed, we should not have worshiped anything beside HIM, neither we nor our fathers, nor should we have forbidden anything without command from HIM.' So did those who opposed the truth before them. Are the Messengers responsible for anything EXCEPT the plain delivery of the Message? S. 16:35 Sher Ali
But if they turn away, thy duty is ONLY to preach the clear Message. S. 16:82 Y. Ali
Say: Obey Allah and obey the messenger. But if ye turn away, then (it is) for him (to do) only that wherewith he hath been charged, and for you (to do) only that wherewith ye have been charged. If ye obey him, ye will go aright. But the messenger hath NO OTHER CHARGE than to convey (the message) plainly. S. 24:54 Pickthall
'But if you cry me lies, nations cried lies before you; and it is ONLY for the Messenger to deliver the Manifest Message.' S. 29:18 Arberry
But if they turn aside, We have not sent you as a watcher over them; on you IS ONLY TO DELIVER (the message); and surely when We make man taste mercy from Us, he rejoices thereat; and if an evil afflicts them on account of what their hands have already done, then - surely man is ungrateful. S. 42:48 Shakir
The All-merciful has taught the Koran. S. 55:1-2 Arberry
Obey Allah and obey His messenger; but if ye turn away, then the duty of Our messenger is ONLY to convey (the message) plainly. S. 64:12 Pickthall
Note that Muhammad is only a messenger whose sole duty is to recite or convey the explanations which Allah gives as part of the Quran. In other words, it isn't Muhammad who explains the Quran but simply recites the explanations that Allah sends down as part of the Quran itself. That is why the Quran says it is its own best explanation, something which Zawadi's position actually denies:
And no question do they bring to thee but We reveal to thee the truth and the best explanation (waahsana tafseeran) (thereof). S. 25:33 Y. Ali
Move not thy tongue with it to hasten it; Ours it is to gather it, and to recite it. So, when We recite it, follow thou its recitation. Then Ours it is to explain it. S. 75:16-19 Arberry
Notice that here it is Allah who will both recite and explain the Quran to Muhammad, accounting for the Quran's statement that it is its own best explanation.
Thus, the meaning of Sura 16:44 is that Muhammad is sent to make the Quran clear by reciting verses containing the explanations of the Quran:
Surely We have revealed the Book to you with the truth that you may judge between people by means of that which Allah has taught you; and be not an advocate on behalf of the treacherous. S. 4:105 Shakir
To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what God hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the Truth that hath come to thee. To each among you have we prescribed a law and an open way. If God had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to God; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute; S. 5:48 Y. Ali
And on the day when We will raise up in every people a witness against them from among themselves, and bring you as a witness against these -- and We have revealed the Book to you explaining clearly everything, and a guidance and mercy and good news for those who submit. S. 16:89 Shakir
As it stands, this text provides no support for appealing to the hadiths.
What makes this truly amazing is that Osama Abdallah agrees with us that Sura 16:44 doesn't refer to the hadiths since he writes:
1. Problems with the proper Arabic language and the large quantity of narrations. Also, see proofs from the Noble Quran that the hadiths ARE NOT "Al-Thikr" AS SOME IGNORANTS CLAIM ...
One last point about the hadiths being "Al-thikr". Moses' (peace be upon him) Torah was also called "Al-thikr" in the Noble Quran:
"Before this We wrote in the Psalms, after the Message[Al-thikr] (given to Moses): My servants the righteous, shall inherit the earth." (The Noble Quran, 21:105)"
"In the past We granted to Moses and Aaron the criterion[Al-Furqan] (for judgment), and a Light and a Message [Thikr] for those who would do right,- (The Noble Quran, 21:48)"
"We certainly gave the Book[Al-Kitab] to Moses, but differences arose therein: had it not been that a word had gone forth before from thy Lord, the matter would have been decided between them, but they are in suspicious doubt concerning it. (The Noble Quran, 11:110)"
"And remember We gave Moses the Scripture and the Criterion[Al-Furqan] (Between right and wrong): There was a chance for you to be guided aright. (The Noble Quran, 2:53)"
Note:The Noble Quran has the following Holy Names: Al-Quran, Al-Thikr, Al-Furqan and Al-Kitab.
When Allah Almighty said that He sent down "Al-thikr" to Muhammad to explain what's revealed to the people, it referred to the Noble Quran (the current Al-thikr) explaining the previous "Al-Thikr", which is the Truthful parts of the Bible; those parts that agree with the Noble Quran.
Prophet Moses' (peace be upon him) Law or Torah was called "Al-Thikr", "Al-Furqan" and "Al-Kitab" in the Noble Quran. It is without doubt that when Allah Almighty called the Noble Quran as "Al-Thikr", He meant for it to ONLY INCLUDE the Noble Quran and NOT the Quran AND HADITHS during Prophet Muhammad's time, because the hadiths today contain ample corruptions in them, while the Noble Quran is Perfect:
"We have, without doubt, sent down the Message [The Noble Quran]; and We will assuredly Guard it (from corruption).(The Noble Quran, 15:9)"
"Nay, this is a Glorious Quran, (inscribed) in a Tablet Preserved!(The Noble Quran, 85:21-22)"
Muslims today do not conflict with each others about the contents of the original Arabic Noble Quran. But they have a great deal of problems with the hadiths and their validities and authenticities. (Osama Abdallah, What parts of the Bible and Hadiths do Muslims believe are closest to the Truth? and Why?; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)
Thus, Zawadi must be ignorant according to Osama! It is truly interesting to see how often these writers contradict one another even though they all claim to be on the same team writing for the same website!
Zawadi then says:
Again, the ignorance of Sam Shamoun regarding understanding Holy Scripture just keeps getting clearer and clearer.
The Quraysh of Mecca used to accuse Muhammad (PBUH) to be a false Prophet and if that God were to send a Prophet then he would send angels instead. But God is saying here that all Prophets before used to be men. Ask the Christians and Jews and indeed they will tell you that the Prophets in the past would be men.
That's all! We don't go to the People of the Book for everything!
SAHIH BUKHARI, BOOK 58: Merits of the Helpers in Madinah (Ansaar)
Volume 5, Book 58, Number 280:
Narrated 'Abdullah bin Abbas:
The Prophet used to keep his hair falling loose while the pagans used to part their hair, and the People of the Scriptures used to keep their hair falling loose, and the Prophet liked to follow the People of the Scriptures in matters about which he had not been instructed differently, but later on the Prophet started parting his hair.
So we are not going to go and follow Jews and Christians over doctrine related matter since your beliefs are condemned in the Glorious Quran. But like I said before, sometimes Muslims might use the Bible for references regarding history. However, we can't deny or affirm it.
We are glad that Zawadi has chosen to interpret the text in the manner which he did since he has exposed the distortion of this reference by scholars such as Ibn Kathir, al-Qurtubi etc., since they believed that the reference to "people of the Reminder" (ahlul thikr) also included the scholars of hadith (*, *).
The Salafi scholars at www.Islamqa.com also apply this reference in this same manner:
It is not permissible for us to allow or prohibit however we wish. When new issues come up, if we do not find a text in the Quraan or Sunnah, or in the sayings of the scholars of the salaf or the scholars of Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jamaaah who came before us, then we have to refer to trustworthy scholars and people of understanding, AS ALLAAH COMMANDS US (interpretation of the meaning): " so ask of those who know the Scripture " [al-Nahl 16:43]. These are the scholars, who can do ijtihaad, examine the matter and make analogies (qiyaas) with the existing texts of Islam, taking into consideration the principles of necessity, and taking note of what is harmful to the interests of shareeah and what is beneficial, relying on the basic general principles of shareeah, such as the aayah (interpretation of the meaning), " he allows them as lawful al-tayyibaat [(i.e., all good and lawful things as regards things, deeds, belies, persons, foods, etc.] " [al-Araaf 7:157] and the hadeeth, "There should be no harming nor reciprocating harm" (reported by Ibn Maajah, 2331), and avoiding following whims and desires. Every evil thing that is proven to be harmful is haraam, and every good and beneficial thing is halaal. If it is not known that it is either harmful or beneficial, then the general rule is that it is permissible (mubaah). And Allaah knows best. (Question #3922: Who is to say what is halaal and haraam?; online source; capital and underline emphasis ours)
... But if he did that based on a fatwa from a scholar, then he does not have to do anything, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): "So ask of those who know the Scripture , if you know not" [al-Nahl 16:43] ... (Question #82077: The extent of cutting and shaving that is acceptable after completing Hajj and Umrah; online source)
Praise be to Allaah.
The regular Muslim who cannot access the proofs (daleels) or understand them in the way that scholars do is obliged to consult and follow the scholars. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
"So ask of those who know the Scripture, if you do not know" [al-Nahl 16:43] (Question #10296: Those who follow madhhabs and refuse to learn; online source)
In fact, in the most recent response to Osama Abdallah found on Jalal Abualrub's site, the following article quotes Sura 16:43 and 21:7 (its parallel) to support the position that Muslims need to turn to the scholars of Islam:
... True knowledge and understanding of this religion comes from taking it from its carriers—the scholars—by way of attending their lessons, reading their books, listening to recorded lectures, asking them questions. Allah has given them ample praise in His book (the Qur'an) to show us that they are those who we are supposed to be taking our Islamic knowledge and understanding from. Allah U says, (Certainly, the scholars from His servants fear Allah. Surely, Allah is Mighty, Forgiving) (35:28). He U also commands, (Then ask the people of remembrance if you do not know) (16:43 & 21:7)—a verse of which the scholars of Islam have explained is evidence for the obligation of referring back to the scholars of Islam in religious affairs that we lack knowledge in. The late shaikh and exegete, 'Abdur-Rahmaan bin Naasir as-Sa'dee ?, stated in Taiseer al-Kareem ar-Rahmaan:
And this verse, even if its reason was specific to questioning the people of remembrance—and they are the people of knowledge—about the status of the previous Messengers, then it is generally for every issue from the issues of the religion; its foundations and its branches. When the person did not have knowledge of them, that he asks whoever knows of them. Thus it contains the command for learning and questioning to the people of knowledge and it does not command questioning them except because teaching and answering of what they know is obligatory upon them. (Rasheed Gonzales, Aboo Ishaaq, Osama Abdallah: Arrogance, Ignorance, Obstinacy; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)
What Zawadi's statements imply is that he will be only too quick to expose and condemn any Muslim for distorting the real meaning of the Quran when he or she uses such verses to prove that a person needs to consult scholars of hadiths.
Yet the exegesis of these scholars does prove one thing: It shows that Sura 16:43 establishes the principle of turning to the Jews and Christians for verification of the Quran on any given matter, not just for matters regarding the mode of revelation. After all, to interpret the text to mean that a person should turn to the scholars, as Ibn Kathir and the others so understood it, shows that one can draw inferences from a specific passage that go beyond the immediate purpose for which the verse was initially given.
But since this text wasn't good enough for Zawadi we will gladly provide another:
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
The above reference is not limiting the seeking of verification from Jews and Christians to peripheral issues such as whether Allah sends humans as messengers or not. Rather, it expressly says that if there is any doubt about what is being revealed, i.e. the entire Quran, then one should ask the Jews and Christians.
In fact, this passage troubled Muslims since the one who was initially being addressed was Muhammad, meaning that he was the one doubting and of those that wavered! Not being happy with the passage accusing Muhammad of having doubts these commentators came up with a convenient explanation to protect his integrity and faithfulness. Some stated that Muhammad responded by saying that he doesn't doubt and will not ask, and that the text was actually addressing others who were doubting through him. In other words, the passage was not directed towards Muhammad but to the others, whether unbelievers or weak Muslims. How convenient!
Whatever the case maybe, this one fact is certain: Sura 10:94 commands Muslims to seek the counsel of Jews and Christians, specifically the Book in their possession (i.e., the Holy Bible), to verify and substantiate the message of the Quran.
This leads us to our next point. Zawadi thinks that his hadith provided support for his position, when in reality it only comes back to haunt him. The hadith proves that Muhammad once again violated the express teachings of the Quran since he failed to do what it commanded. Instead of opposing the Jews and Christians, Muhammad needed to seek their counsel in order to know whether what he was doing or teaching was correct. In other words, Zawadi's appeal to the hadiths is another case of begging the question. He assumes that the hadiths are a necessary source of information and that this narration therefore provides clarification of what the Quran says regarding consulting Jews and Christians. In reality, the specific hadith which he cited doesn't explain the Quran but expressly contradicts it, and at the very least demonstrates once more how inconsistent Muhammad was since he failed to follow what his own book commanded!
In fact, this particular hadith also exposes Muhammad for not following his own advice since he is reported to have said in another so-called authentic narration:
Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Amr:
The Prophet said, "Convey (my teachings) to the people even if it were a single sentence, and tell others the stories of Bani Israel (which have been taught to you), for it is not sinful to do so. And whoever tells a lie on me intentionally, will surely take his place in the (Hell) Fire." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 667)
And in other narrations we read:
The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: relate traditions from the children of Isra'il; there is no harm. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 25, Number 3654)
Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-'As:
The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) used to relate to us traditions from the children of Isra'il till morning came; he would not get up except for obligatory prayer. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 25, Number 3655)
Here Muhammad commanded Muslims to pass on Jewish stories , i.e. Israiliyyat material (sources which Zawadi tried to call into question in his initial rebuttal!), in the same way that they were to pass on his teaching (i.e. "a single sentence")! Thus, Muhammad not only contradicted the Quran but also acted contrary to his own teachings as reported in the hadith literature!
Finally, Zawadi claims that Muslims do not go to Jews and Christians for doctrinally related issues despite the fact that Sura 16:43 has everything to do with doctrine. To ask whether Allah sends humans as messengers is something directly related to doctrine since it has to do with the mode and means by which God sends revelation and inspiration to mankind. Thus, Zawadi's position only further incriminates Muhammad and his followers for expressly violating what their own religious book commands them to do in cases where further illumination or verification is needed in regard to doctrinal matters. And note just how incoherent Zawadi actually sounds when he says that he does go to the Bible for issues related to history, even though he cannot deny it or confirm it! So which is it? Does he turn to the Bible for verification in regard to historical matters or not? Zawadi's views are again at odds with what the Quran expressly says:
Say you: 'WE BELIEVE IN God, and in that which has been sent down on us and sent down on Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac and Jacob, and the Tribes, and that which was given to Moses and Jesus and the Prophets, of their Lord; we make no division between any of them, and to Him we surrender.' S. 2:136 Arberry
The apostle believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers; THEY ALL BELIEVE IN Allah and His angels AND HIS BOOKS and His apostles; We make no difference between any of His apostles; and they say: We hear and obey, our Lord! Thy forgiveness (do we crave), and to Thee is the eventual course. S. 2:285 Shakir
And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except with means better (than mere disputation), unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury): but say, "We believe in the revelation which has come down to us AND IN THAT WHICH HAS COME DOWN TO YOU; Our God and your God is one; and it is to Him we bow (in Islam)." S. 29:46 Y. Ali
Notice that, according to these references, Zawadi's position regarding the Holy Bible and the previous revelations has to be one of complete affirmation and belief, not one of doubt. He is commanded to profess complete faith in the books of the Holy Bible since this is the revelation which came down to the Jews and Christians through their prophets and messengers.
In light of the foregoing, we must say that it is Zawadi's ignorance of what even his own religious texts actually teach that is becoming clearer and clearer.
This concludes our rebuttal for now. Lord Jesus willing, our full exposition of the rest of Zawadi's points to follow soon.
Zawadi has offered another reply to this current rebuttal of ours. Here, we will address a few of the points he raised and eventually refute the rest in time, Lord willing.
Notice that the verses say that the Prophet should convey the message plainly. The word in Arabic ismobeen, which means clear. So Yusuf Ali's translation would be better...
So obey God, and obey His Apostle: but if ye turn back, the duty of Our Apostle is but to proclaim (the Message) clearly and openly.
So obviously to deliver the message clearly the Prophet was also sent to explain it.
Sam is using typical "Quran Only" arguments. However, there are many verses that state that the Prophet came to teach us the Quran. Just read this...http://www.answering-christianity.com/bassam_zawadi/combat_kit_for_muslims.htm
When the other verses say that Allah taught the Quran, well obviously through Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet would not say anything from his own. (Surah 53:3-4)
First, Zawadi commits a genetic fallacy as well as ad hominem when he claims that I am using "typical 'Quran Only' arguments". The validity or truthfulness of a proposition has little to do with the one making it, whether Atheist, Hindu, Quran only, Salafis etc. After all, even the most vile person can speak the truth and make rational statements. To therefore call into question my points just because they are similar to those used by the Quran only camp does absolutely nothing to refute their validity.
Moreover, Zawadi's claim that Muhammad was to convey the message clearly serves to refute his assertion that the hadith literature is necessary. His point actually establishes that it is the Quran alone which someone must turn to since it pronounces itself to be that very clear message which Muhammad was to proclaim:
O followers of the Book! indeed Our Apostle has come to you making clear to you much of what you concealed of the Book and passing over much; indeed, there has come to you light and a clear Book (noorun wakitabun mubeenun) from Allah; S. 5:15 Shakir
And indeed We know that they (polytheists and pagans) say: "It is only a human being who teaches him (Muhammad SAW)." The tongue of the man they refer to is foreign, while this (the Qur'an) is a clear Arabic tongue (Arabiyyun mubeenun). S. 16:103 Hilali-Khan
We have not instructed the (Prophet) in Poetry, nor is it meet for him: this is no less than a Message and a Qur'an making things clear (waquranun mubeenun): S. 36:39 Y. Ali
And We have indeed made the Qur'an easy to understand and remember, then is there any that will remember (or receive admonition)? S. 54:17, 22, 32, 40 Hilali-Khan
Ibn Kathir wrote regarding Sura 54:17 that:
<So We have made this (the Qur'an) easy in your own tongue, only that you may give glad tidings to those who have Taqwa and warn with it the most quarrelsome people.>(19:97) Allah said, ...
<then is there any that will remember>, meaning, `is there anyone who will remember through this Qur'an, which We made easy to memorize and easy to understand.' Muhammad bin Ka`b Al-Qurazi commented on this Ayah, "Is there anyone who will avoid evil." (Source; bold and underline emphasis ours)
The Quran is clear Arabic speech which means that it doesn't need Muhammad to explain it. All that was required of Muhammad was to simply recite its message. This means that if Muhammad was needed to explain the Quran then it could not proclaim itself to be clear and easy to understand.
Hence, the inspiration which Sura 53:3-4 refers to is the recitation of the Quran. After all, to say that this refers to everything that Muhammad said leads to problems such as the following:
Rafi' b. Khadij reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) came to Medina and the people had been grafting the trees. He said: What are you doing? They said: We are grafting them, whereupon he said: It may perhaps be good for you if you do not do that, so they abandoned this practice (and the date-palms) began to yield less fruit. They made a mention of it (to the Holy Prophet), whereupon he said: I am a human being, so when I command you about a thing pertaining to religion, do accept it, and when I command you about a thing out of my personal opinion, keep it in mind that I am a human being. 'Ikrima reported that he said something like this. (Sahih Muslim, Book 030, Number 5831)
If Muhammad always spoke by inspiration, never on his own initiative, then this mistaken advice which caused Muhammad major embarrassment must be attributed to Allah!
Scholars say that asking the people of the thikr could refer to asking scholars. However, what do Muslim scholars rule by? They rule by the Quran and Sunnah. If we ever want to know anything we refer it to Allah and His Messenger. (Surah 4:59)
If the Christians and Jews rule by Allah and His Messenger (prophet Muhammad) then I have no problem asking them my self. But they don't.
Zawadi's inconsistency is truly amazing. He first claimed that Sura 16:43 doesn't mean that Muslims were to consult Jews and Christians for verification of the Quran, but only to confirm that Allah sent men as messengers. But now he accepts the fact that this verse establishes the precedence for consulting scholars of Islam, which implies that the text has a wider application than simply asking if Allah sent human messengers! In other words, Zawadi has basically conceded that I was correct in saying that this passage establishes turning to the Jews and Christians to verify whether the Quran is true or not!
The stories of Bani Israel are of those stories which the Muslims have been taught through Quran and authentic hadith. They are referring specifically to the progeny of Jacob. The Muslims could tell the stories of how they treated their Prophets and so on and so forth. The Prophet did not recommend it or condemn it.(Source)
The Israeiliyat is different. They are stories from Jewish origins. The Prophet meant the stories that he taught the companions (either through Quran or authentic hadith)
It seems that we need to once again cite the narration, this time with added emphasis so as to prevent Zawadi from distorting it:
Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Amr:
The Prophet said, "Convey (my teachings) to the people even if it were a single sentence, and tell others the stories of Bani Israel (which have been taught to you), FOR IT IS NOT SINFUL TO DO SO. And whoever tells a lie on me intentionally, will surely take his place in the (Hell) Fire." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 667)
Zawadi would have his readers believe that Muhammad was referring to the Jewish stories found in the Quran and hadith, even though the narration says that there would be no sin on the part of Muslims for reciting such anecdotes. This statement makes absolutely no sense if Muhammad was referring to the stories of the Quran or those which he himself narrated, since it would be obvious that there is absolutely nothing sinful about retelling such narratives. In fact, narrating such material would actually be obligatory upon Muslims. This statement only makes sense if Muhammad were referring to narrations not found in the Quran or hadith literature.
After citing verses from the Quran where Muhammad and the believers were commanded to affirm faith in the previous revelations, Zawadi has the audacity to say:
Okay what is the problem these verses pose? They say that I should believe in the books that Allah has sent. Well of course I do. I believe in the Torah that was sent to Moses and in the Gospel sent to Jesus. I just don't believe that the ones in the Christian possession today are those ones.
Zawadi's attempt of evading the point only demonstrates that he, like many other Muslims, are hypocrites who pay lip service to the Quran. The passages I cited commanded Muslims to affirm their faith IN THE BOOKS THAT WERE IN THE POSSESSION OF THE JEWS AND CHRISTIANS AT THE TIME OF MUHAMMAD. Note, once again, what the following texts say and command:
O believers, believe in God and His Messenger and the Book He has sent down on His Messenger and the Book which He sent down before. Whoso disbelieves in God and His angels and His Books, and His Messengers, and the Last Day, has surely gone astray into far error. S. 4:136 Arberry
And what is the book or books which Allah sent down before the Quran? That which the Jews and Christians have always possessed:
O children of Israel! call to mind My favor which I bestowed on you and be faithful to (your) covenant with Me, I will fulfill (My) covenant with you; and of Me, Me alone, should you be afraid. And believe in what I have revealed, VERIFYING that which is with you, and be not the first to deny it, neither take a mean price in exchange for My communications; and Me, Me alone should you fear. And do not mix up the truth with the falsehood, nor hide the truth while you know (it). And keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate and bow down with those who bow down. What! do you enjoin men to be good and neglect your own souls while you read the Book; have you then no sense? S. 2:40-44 Shakir
The Jews say: "The Christians have naught (to stand) upon;" and the Christians say: "The Jews have naught (To stand) upon." Yet they (Profess to) study the (same) Book. Like unto their word is what those say who know not; but God will judge between them in their quarrel on the Day of Judgment. S. 2:113 Y. Ali
Now the only books that these believing communities had are those found in the Holy Bible today:
For Zawadi to therefore say that he believes in the revelation given to Moses and Jesus while rejecting what Jews and Christians possess today is to ignore the historical and textual data demonstrating that the Bible is that which God gave to his prophets and messengers to pass on. In rejecting this evidence Zawadi is rejecting the Quran and the teachings of his own prophet, thereby becoming an unbeliever, a kafr, as well as a hypocrite or munafiq.
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