Say: Whoever is an enemy to Gabriel -
for he brings down the (revelation) to thy heart by Allah's will,
a confirmation of what went before, and guidance and glad tidings
for those who believe, - ...
-- Sura 2:97
When We substitute one revelation for another, -
and Allah knows best what He reveals, - they say,
"Thou art but a forger": but most of them understand not.
Say, the Holy Spirit has brought
the revelation from thy Lord in Truth,
in order to strengthen those who believe,
and as a Guide and Glad Tidings to Muslims.
We know indeed that they say,
"It is a man that teaches him."
The tongue of him they wickedly point to
is notably foreign,
while this is Arabic, pure and clear.
-- Sura 16:101-103
This gives three contradictions:
First, 2:97 says that it is the (angel) Gabriel who brings down the revelation from Allah to Muhammad, while 16:102 says it is the Holy Spirit. BECAUSE of these two verses Muslims usually identify the Holy Spirit with Gabriel and say that this is just another name for Gabriel. However, in another context they completely forget that they have made this identification already since they ALSO want Muhammad to be the Holy Spirit and Comforter promised by Jesus in John 14-16 in order to desperately find a prophecy of Muhammad as claimed in Sura 61:6. But obviously the Holy Spirit cannot be both, he cannot be Gabriel and Muhammad at the same time. That is, unless Muslims believe Gabriel is Muhammad!
Second, in Sura 2:97 the Qur'an claims to be a confirmation of the earlier revelation (as it does in many other verses), while in Sura 16:101 the Qur'an is viewed as "substituting" the earlier revelations. And the people call him a forgerer exactly because it does not fit together with the established revelation of God.
What is Muhammad's answer? "They just don't understand" (verse 101).
Third, despite the fact that 16:103 says "this is Arabic, pure and clear" — a statement that is supposedly refuting those who say Muhammad learned his message from a human teacher who was not fluent in Arabic —, the Qur'an contains words and phrases that belong to other languages. Just two of many examples:
"Pharaoh" comes from the Egyptian language and means king or potentate. The word for "king" in Arabic is different.
"Injil", which means "gospel" = "good news", comes from the Greek language. The correct word in Arabic is "bisharah".
For a detailed treatment of this topic, see the scholarly work, The Foreign Vocabulary of the Qur'an by the late scholar Arthur Jeffery.
A Muslim's Response by Shaahin Amiri-Sharifi
Date: Wed Nov 27 00:19 EST 1996
this is to answer: --Three contradictions in 16:101-103 , --according to muslim belief, based on quran, "gabriel" is the name for "holy spirit" the dearest angle of god. and it is NOT the prophet. it is also mentioned in quran as (angle) "rouh" , meaning spirit. about john 14:16, the verse never mentiones the comforter is holy spirit. if it is a christian interpretation of the verse (John 14:16) i adont know about that, but what muslims say is that, this comforter is mohamed(pbuh). so if christians believe that "comforter" is holy spirit, and muslims belive that "comforter" is mohamed(pbuh), this does NOT result in that holy spirit is mohamed(pbuh)! you are reffering to oposite sides to get a result. regarding 2:97 and 16:101, and "confirmation" of the earlier revelations and at the same time "substituting" them, quran does confirm earlier revelations (not the changed vertion of them of course!), and please note that the word translated as "substituting" means rather "transforming" and not substituting . and what is meant is like "updating". point is, islam is the religion of adam (pbuh) to mohamed (pbuh), but in different levels. it was "updated" untill it reached the final form which was brought by mohamed (pbuh). so while maintainig the same spirit, it was "transformed" to what it is now. i hope this explanation makes the situation clear! about quran being in "pure" arabic. yet another misunderestanding of quran caused by looking a "translated" copy rather than arabic! the word "mobeen" means clear with explanation, understandable, NOT pure (in the way you percieve). and of course it is not in pure arabic. there is no "pure" language at all! in every language you can find the trace of other languages, older or contemporary ones. shaahin
I have read that Muslims believe all of the revealed books are exact copies from (part) of the book kept by God in heaven, [not sure if that is Qur'anic, but it is tradition]. If it is being "updated" one might wonder if the tablets in heaven became updated too... And how can God and his word be perfect if his word needs "updating"?
I am often amazed how utterly unable Yusuf Ali seems to be in his translation.... Yes, I do know I read a translation, but please, do give me a translation you think is a good one and I will then argue based on that translation. If you say it is not translatable, then why would I believe that you can give a better translation for the word above than Ali gives? Anyway. Let us look at the context and not just at one word. Isn't the point that verse 103 makes exactly that it cannot originate from this person charged to be behind the forgery, because this person is a foreigner, not speaking pure Arabic, while the Qur'an is pure Arabic? If this means not "pure" then the whole point that this verse is trying to make falls to the ground. There is no reason why a foreigner cannot explain and speak "clearly" and "understandably". The contrast is "that this foreigner doesn't speak pure Arabic" with the "purity of the language of the Qur'an". And this is exactly what Yusuf Ali says in his footnote 2143: "... They must need to postulate some human teacher. Unfortunately for their postulate, any possible human teacher they could think of would be poor in Arabic speech if he had all the knowledge that the Qur'an reveals of previous revelations. Apart from that, even the most eloquent Arab could not, and cannot, produce anything of the eloquence, width and depth of the Qur'anic teaching, as is evident from every verse of the Book." (That is quite an exaggeration in itself, I cannot resist to add.)
But let us assume this word does mean "clear and understandable". Then you are only trading in one contradiction for another.
He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning); they are the foundation of the Book: others are allegorical. But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord, and searching for its hidden meanings, but no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah.
And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: "We believe in the Book; the whole of it is from our Lord:" and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding.
-- Sura 3:7
If this verse says anything, then it is this: There are verses in the Qur'an which are far from clear in their meaning.
Contradictions in the Qur'an
Answering Islam Home Page