Mr. Amjad, the Learner, has tried to respond to my article regarding Muhammad's false prophecies. He writes:
The basic emphasis of the referred article is obviously upon the 'false' prophecies. However, in each of the mentioned cases, it touches upon a number of related issues. In my following response, I shall concentrate upon the basic objections only, which relate to the prophecies and their fulfillment. Related discussions shall be ignored to keep the arguments manageable. However, in case any of our readers has any questions on these related discussions, I shall try to answer them to the best of my abilities, insha'Allah, as and when these questions are addressed to me.
My answers to the three stated objections follow:
Relating to the Romans
Before taking up the core objection in this case, let us first take up the issue of the referred alternative reading of the related verse.
Mr. Shamoun has mentioned on the authority of Baizawiy that the verse in question was also read in a different way than as it appears in the Qur'an. Firstly, Baizawiy's contention carries absolutely no weight, as it is clearly against the Mutawatar rendering of the Qur'an. The only authorized text of the Qur'an is the one called the Qiraa'at al-`Aammah. Secondly, the mentioned alternative reading turns out to be completely absurd, when seen in the perspective that Surah Al-Room was revealed before Hijrah, at which time, the suggested alternative reading would made no sense at all.
In view of these important facts, the case of the 'alternative' rendering does not deserve any of our attention. The flaw entailed in it is quite obvious.
The Learner is correct in that there is obviously a flaw in the argumentation. Yet it is not my argument that is flawed, but rather his attempts to evade the issue through his appeal to the Qiraaat al-Aammah. It might be true that the only authorized text of the Quran is that which the masses of Muslims, generation after generation have recited. But to know what this reading is, the Learner must provide documentary evidence to support his case. Elsewhere, the Learner has written:
The Qur'an has not been transmitted on the authority of one, two or a few individuals. On the contrary, in each of the generations, since the time of the companions of the Prophet (pbuh), the whole generation of the mainstream Muslims as a collectivity, transmitted the Qur'an to its subsequent generation. There has never been a generation, since the time of the companions of the Prophet (pbuh), in which the text of the Qur'an either became extinct or limited to a few people only. The Tawatur of the Qur'an would be deemed to have been broken, if it is established that in a given generation between the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) and the present times, there was a generation, in which the Qur'an had either become extinct or limited to a very few people only; (Source).
In light of his claims, we challenge the Learner to provide the documentary evidence, starting from the time of Muhammad and his companions, demonstrating that the alternate reading referred to by al-Baidawi was not the true reading. Mr. Amjad's assertions to the contrary do not constitute as proof. In fact, the use of circular reasoning on the part of Mr. Amjad can be clearly seen from what he has stated above:
Mr. Shamoun has mentioned on the authority of Baizawiy that the verse in question was also read in a different way than as it appears in the Qur'an.
Here, Mr. Amjad has assumed that the alternate reading is not part of the Quran, i.e. "as it appears in the Quran." But Mr. Amjad must first assume his assertion that this alternate reading is not the original reading of the Quran in order to reject it. He is therefore assuming what he has yet to prove. It might be true that the alternate rendering is not part of the version of the Quran he thinks is the original version. But this is far different then proving that the version he prefers is in fact the original.
Hence, until he provides the documentary data al-Baidawi's quotation serves as proof that the appeal to the reading of the masses is simply an evasion tactic. Al-Baidawi provides documentary evidence that during his time there were at least two different readings of S. 30:1-4 recited by the "masses". That the reading found today became the preferred reading is quite different from proving that this is the original reading. After all, the question is neither superfluous nor trivial, to ask where this alternative reading in al-Baidawi came from. There is a principle in New Testament textual criticism that (unless weighty other reasons overrule it) the more difficult reading has a higher probability to be the original one, since humans are much more prone to simplify and harmonize than to deliberately create difficulties in a text (which they revere and hold to be true). The motivation to adapt the text to the historical reality is easy to understand. Having pious Muslims invent a textual variant that would create problems for their faith and have it gain so much acceptance that Baidawi would list it as a valid alternative is difficult to explain.
Secondly, Mr. Amjad asserts that the alternate rendering would be absurd in light of the fact that the passage was revealed before Muhammad's flight to Medina. In his footnote he states:
The suggested alternate rendering reads as: "The Romans have been victorious in a nearby land. Soon after their victory they shall be defeated...". Obviously, the rendering of this verse was not possible in the pre-Hijrah times, when the Romans were continuously going through a series of defeats.
The fallacy in his reasoning should be clear for all to see. Mr. Amjad has assumed that this alternate rendering is absurd in light of his belief that it is a pre-Hijrah citation. Yet Mr. Amjad must first assume that this is a passage "revealed" before the Hijrah. This fails to take into consideration the possibility that the passage could have been written sometime after Muhammad's flight.
Furthermore, my argument here is not dependent on the reading that the Romans have defeated the Persians per se. Rather, my argument was primarily centered on the possibility that a scribe could have forced the text to refer to the Persian-Roman conflict by inserting the wrong vowel marks. I then provided proof from al-Baidawi for my claim. Here is what I said:
The original Quranic text had no vowel marks. Thus, the Arabic word Sayaghlibuna, "they shall defeat," could easily have been rendered, with the change of two vowels, Sayughlabuna, "they (i.e. Romans) shall be defeated." Since vowel points were not added until some time after this event, it could have been quite possible for a scribe to deliberately tamper with the text, forcing it to become a prophetic statement.
This fact is solidified by Muslim commentator al-Baidawi. C.G. Pfander mentions Baidawi's comments on the variant readings surrounding this passage:
"But Al Baizawi shatters the whole argument of the Muslims by informing us of certain varied readings in these verses of Suratu'r Rum. He tells us that some read غَلَبَتِ instead of the usual غُلِبَتِ, and سَيُغْلَبُونَ instead of سَيَغْلُبُونَ. The rendering will then be: The Byzantines have conquered in the nearest part of the land, and they shall be defeated in a small number of years. If this be the correct reading, the whole story about Abu Bakrs bet with Ubai must be a fable, since Ubai was dead long before the Muslims began to defeat the Byzantines, and even long before the victories which Heraclius won over the Persians. This shows how unreliable such Traditions are. The explanation which Al Baizawi gives is, that the Byzantines became conquerors of 'the well-watered land of Syria' (على ريف آلْشام), and that the passage predicted that the Muslims would soon overcome them. If this is the meaning, the Tradition which records the 'descent' of the verses about six years before the Hijrah must be wrong, and the passage must belong to A.H. 6 at earliest. It is clear that, as the vowel points WERE NOT USED when the Qur-an WAS FIRST WRITTEN DOWN in Cufic letters, no one can be certain which of the two readings is right. We have seen THAT THERE IS SO MUCH UNCERTAINTY about (1) the date at which the verses were sent down, (2) the correct reading, and (3) the meaning, that it is quite impossible to show that the passage contains a prophecy which was fulfilled. Hence, it cannot be considered to be a proof of Muhammad's prophetic office." (C. G. Pfander, Mizan-ul-Haqq - The Balance of Truth, revised and enlarged by W. St. Clair Tisdall [Light of Life, P.O. Box 18, A-9503 Villach, Austria], pp. 279-280; emphasis ours)
This being the case, a Muslim cannot confidently tell us what the true reading of the text is and hence cannot insure us that this verse originally predicted the Byzantine victory over the Persians. Yet either rendering leaves us with a false prophecy within the Quran.
The reference from Pfander indicates the problem one faces due to the Quran being originally written without vowels. That vowel marks were only added later and that al-Baidawi admits that there was more than one rendering helps to strengthen my point that the text of S. 30:1-4 could have easily been changed or embellished to read a certain way.
Third, that al-Baidawi affirms that this alternate rendering was extant in certain versions of the Quran clearly demonstrates that Mr. Amjad's claim proves absolutely nothing. That Muslims could see in this passage a reference to the Roman victory in the lower part of the land without having any problems with it demonstrates that Mr. Amjad's appeal to absurdity as a basis to reject this rendering has no weight behind it. The evident fallacy in Mr. Amjad's reasoning is clear for all to see.
Finally, we shall see that Mr. Amjad's appeal to a pre-Hijrah date for this alleged prophecy will actually backfire against him.
Mr. Amjad continues:
As for the verse the Qur'an, let us begin with a look at its simple translation. The Qur'an says:
The Romans are overcome in a nearby land. And after they have been defeated, they shall again be victorious. [This shall surely come to pass], in a few years only. (Al-Room 30: 2 - 4)
It is quite well known that the series of defeats faced by the Romans at the hands of the Persians ended with a number of defeats 'in lands nearby the Arabian Peninsula'. The verse does not specifically state, as Mr. Shamoun has implied, that a 'few' years after the defeat at Jerusalem, the Romans shall be victorious. On the contrary, the verse clearly states that after the Romans have been defeated, the tables shall be turned and within only a few years, the Romans shall be victorious again. It is quite clear that Jerusalem was only one of a continual series of defeats faced by the Romans. This series of defeats reached its climax in around 617 AD. Not long after this time, starting in 622 AD, the tables were turned and, as had been predicted by the Qur'an, a series of Roman victories over the Persians started.
The Learner seemingly realizes the problem this alleged prophecy poses, and therefore needs to evade the fact that this prophecy dates around 615 AD. The Learner has already stated that he believes that this passage was "revealed" before the Hijrah:
Secondly, the mentioned alternative reading turns out to be completely absurd, when seen in the perspective that Surah Al-Room was revealed BEFORE Hijrah, at which time, the suggested alternative reading would made no sense at all.
The question we ask is how does he know that this is the case? The only way he can know this is by appealing to Muslim sources. Yet it is these sources that sound the death knell for his 617 date.
But before quoting the Muslim sources we would first like to correct the Learner's misreading of the text. Mr. Amjad claims that, "It is quite well known that the series of defeats faced by the Romans at the hands of the Persians ended with a number of defeats 'in LANDS nearby the Arabian Peninsula'". Yet the text says nothing about "lands". Here is the text again, this time with added emphasis:
YUSUFALI: In a LAND close by; but they, (even) after (this) defeat of
theirs, will soon be victorious-
PICKTHAL: In the nearer LAND, and they, after their defeat will be victorious
SHAKIR: In a near LAND, and they, after being vanquished, shall overcome,
This would seem to indicate that "land" here refers to the last area that the Persians took over right before the "sending down" of this passage. Even if one were to reject this interpretation and argue that the phrase "in the land" refers to a general area, the fact remains that according to the Muslim sources this alleged "prophecy" was given right after the conquest of Jordan, Syria and Palestine. This approximates to 615 AD.
Syed Abu-Ala Maududi notes:
Period of Revelation
The period of the revelation of this Surah is determined absolutely by the historical event that has been mentioned at the outset. It says: "The Romans have been vanquished in the neighboring land." In those days the Byzantine occupied territories adjacent to Arabia were Jordan, Syria and Palestine, and in these territories the Romans were completely overpowered by the Iranians in 615 A. D. Therefore, it can be said WITH ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY that this Surah was sent down IN THE SAME YEAR, and this was the year in which the migration to Habash took place...
Heraclius could not stop this storm. The very first news that he received from the East after ascending the throne was that of the Iranian occupation of Antioch. After this Damascus fell in 613 A. D. Then in 614 A.D. the Iranians occupying Jerusalem played havoc with the Christian world. Ninety thousand Christians were massacred and the Holy Sepulcher was desecrated. The Original Cross on which, according to the Christian belief, Jesus had died was seized and carried to Mada'in. The chief priest Zacharia was taken prisoner and all the important churches of the city were destroyed. How puffed up was Khusrau Parvez at this victory can be judged from the letter that he wrote to Heraclius from Jerusalem. He wrote: "From Khusrau, the greatest of all gods, the master of the whole world : To Heraclius, his most wretched and most stupid servant: 'You say that you have trust in your Lord. why didn't then your Lord save Jerusalem from me?'"
Within a year after this victory the Iranian armies over-ran Jordan, Palestine and the whole of the Sinai Peninsula, and reached the frontiers of Egypt. In those very days another conflict of a far greater historical consequence was going on in Makkah. The believers in One God, under the leadership of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah's peace be upon him), were fighting for their existence against the followers of shirk under the command of the chiefs of the Quraish, and the conflict had reached such a stage that in 615 A. D., a substantial number of the Muslims had to leave their homes and take refuge with the Christian kingdom of Habash, which was an ally of the Byzantine Empire. In those days the Sassanid victories against Byzantium were the talk of the town, and the pagans of Makkah were delighted and were taunting the Muslims to the effect: "Look the fire worshipers of Iran are winning victories and the Christian believers in Revelation and Prophethood are being routed everywhere. Likewise, we, the idol worshipers of Arabia, will exterminate you and your religion."
These were the conditions when this Surah of the Quran was sent down, and in it a prediction was made, saying: "The Romans have been vanquished in the neighboring land and within a few years after their defeat, they shall be victorious. And it will be the day when the believers will rejoice in the victory granted by Allah." It contained not one but two predictions: First, the Romans shall be Victorious; and second, the Muslims also shall win a victory at the same time. Apparently, there was not a remote chance of the fulfillment of the either prediction in the next few years... (Source.)
Abdullah Yusuf Ali states:
"... The defeat, in a land close by must refer to Syria and Palestine. Jerusalem was lost in 614-615 A.D., shortly before this sura was revealed." (Ali, The Holy Quran, Translation and Commentary, p. 1051; bold emphasis ours)
"... Bidhun in the text means a short period - a period of from three to nine years. The period between the loss OF JERUSALEM (614-15) by the Romans and their victory at Issus (622) was seven years, and that to the penetration of Persia by Heraclius was nine years." (Ibid. n. 3507; bold and capital emphasis ours)
In an appendix, Ali writes:
14. Khusrau Parwiz called himself the son of the Emperor Maurice. During his refuge at Constantinople he had married a Byzantine wife. In Nizamis romance she is known as Maryam. According to some historians she was a daughter of the Emperor Maurice, but Gibbon throws doubt on that relationship. In any case he used the resources of the Persian Empire to fight the usurper Phocas. He invaded the Byzantine Empire in 603. The war between the Persian and the Romans became a national war and continued after the fall of Phocas in 610. The Persians had sweeping victories, and conquered Aleppo, Antioch, and the chief Syrian cities, including Damascus, in 611. Jerusalem fell to their arms in 614-615, just 8 to 7 years before the sacred Hijrat. The city was burnt and pillaged, and the Christians were massacred, the churches were burnt, the burial-place of Christ was itself insulted, and many relics including the true Cross on which the Christians believed that Christ had been crucified, were carried away to Persia. The priests of the Persian religion celebrated an exultant triumph over the priests of Christ. In this pillage and massacre the Persians were assisted by a crowd of Jews, who were discontented with the Christian domination, and the Pagan Arabs to whom any opportunity of plunder and destruction was in itself welcome. It is probably this striking event - the victory of the Persians over the Roman Empire - which is referred to Sura XXX (Rum) of the Quran... (Ibid., appendix X, pp 1072-1073; bold emphasis ours )
Muhammad Asad's introduction to the Sura states:
"THIS SURAH, revealed about SIX OR SEVEN years before the hijrah..." (Asad, The Message of the Qur'an [Dar Al-Andalus Limited, 3 Library Ramp, Gibraltar; rpt. 1993], p. 617; bold capital emphasis ours)
"The defeats and victories spoken of above relate to the last phases of the centuries-long struggle between the Byzantine and Persian Empires. During the early years of the seventh century the Persians conquered parts of Syria and Anatolia, "the lands close-by", i.e., near the heartland of the Byzantine Empire; in 613 they took Damascus, and in 614, Jerusalem; Egypt fell to them in 615-16, and at the same time they laid siege to Constantinople itself. At the time of the revelation of this surah - ABOUT the SEVENTH year before the hijrah, corresponding to 615 or 616 of the Christian era - the total destruction of the Byzantine Empire seemed imminent..." (Ibid., f. 2; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Ahmadiyya Maulana Muhammad Ali writes:
"... When the news of this conquest reached Makkah, the Quraish were jubilant, as their sympathies were with the fire-worshipping Persians more than with the Christians, who, being the followers of the Scriptures, were classed by them with the Muslims. It was in the year 615 or 616 that this revelation came to the Prophet " (Ali, Holy Qur'an - Arabic Text, English Translation & Commentary [Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat Islam Lahore Inc. USA 1995], p. 775, n. 1930; bold emphasis ours)
We see that these sources approximate the date of this alleged "revelation" at 615 AD.
Mr. Amjad then appeals to the following Encyclopedias:
The Encyclopedia Britannica writes:
A second invasion of Mesopotamia, by Khosrow's ablest general, Shahrbaraz, took place in 613. Damascus was taken in that year, and in 614 Jerusalem fell. The Holy Sepulchre was destroyed and the True Cross carried to Ctesiphon. Although Khosrow himself was generally tolerant of Christianity, Shahrbaraz permitted thousands of Christian prisoners to be tortured by his Jewish aides. In 616 Alexandria was captured, and in 617 Chalcedon (opposite Byzantium), which had long been under siege by another of Khosrow's generals, Shahin, finally fell to the Persians.
This tide of conquest was turned by Heraclius in a series of brilliant campaigns between 622 and 627. Since he retained command of the sea, Heraclius was able to sail to Issus and rout the Persian army near the Armenian border. In alliance with the Khazar kingdom north of the Caucasus, he invaded Armenia again in 623, gaining victory over the King's army near Canzaca. The town and fire temple were destroyed, together with the temple at Lake Urmia, traditionally associated with Zoroaster. The campaigns of 624 and 625 ranged across northern Syria and Mesopotamia and culminated in a reversal for Shahrbaraz' forces on the river Saras. (Encyclopedia Britannica, Article on "Khosrow II")
Although the cited passage implies that the series of Persian victories ended in 617, yet elsewhere the Encyclopædia writes:
In 614 the Persians conquered Syria and Palestine, taking Jerusalem and what was believed to be Christ's Cross, and in 619 occupied Egypt and Libya. In an effort to placate the Avars, Heraclius met them at Thracian Heraclea (617 or 619). They sought to capture him, and he rode madly back to Constantinople, hotly pursued. Overlooking their perfidy, he finally made peace with them and was free to take the offensive against the Persians.
In 622, clad as a penitent and bearing a sacred image of the Virgin, he left Constantinople, as prayers rose from its many sanctuaries for victory over the Persian Zoroastrians, the recovery of the Cross, and the reconquest of Jerusalem. He was, in effect, leading the first crusade. Indeed, in the ensuing hostilities, a pious poet contrasted the dancing girls in the Persian general's tent with the psalm singers in the Emperor's. In a brilliant campaign, he manoeuvred the Persians out of Anatolia and suggested a truce to the Persian monarch. This offer Khosrow II contemptuously rejected, referring to himself as beloved by the gods and master of the world, to Heraclius as his abject and imbecilic slave, and to Christ as incapable of saving the empire. Mindful of the propagandistic value of Khosrow's response, Heraclius made it public.
The next two years he devoted to campaigns in Armenia, the manpower of which was vital to the empire, and to a devastating invasion of Persia. In 625 Heraclius retired to Anatolia. He had encamped on the west bank of the Sarus River when the Persian forces appeared on the opposite bank. Many of his men rushed impetuously across the bridge and were ambushed and annihilated by the enemy.
Emerging from his tent, Heraclius saw the triumphant Persians crossing the bridge. The fate of the empire hung in the balance. Seizing his sword, he ran to the bridge and struck down the Persian leader. His soldiers closed rank behind him and beat back the foe.
In 626 the Persians advanced to the Bosporus, hoping to join the Avars in an assault on the land walls of Constantinople. But the Romans sank the primitive Avar fleet that was to transport Persian units across the Bosporus and repelled the unsupported Avar assault. Heraclius again invaded Persia and in December 627, after a march across the Armenian highlands into the Tigris plain, met the Persians near the ruins of Nineveh. There, astride his renowned war-horse, he killed three Persian generals in single combat, charged into enemy ranks at the head of his troops, killed the Persian commander, and scattered the Persian host.
A month later, Heraclius entered Dastagird with its stupendous treasure. Khosrow was overthrown by his son, with whom Heraclius made peace, demanding only the return of the Cross, the captives, and conquered Roman territory. Returning to Constantinople in triumph, he was hailed as a Moses, an Alexander, a Scipio. In 630 he personally restored the Cross to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. (Encyclopædia Britannica, Article on "Heraclius")
Thus, as the Qur'an had predicted, within a handful of years after being subdued by the Persians, the tables were turned and the Romans struck back with disastrous might against the Persians.
It is interesting here to note that the Learner ends up contradicting himself. He says:
Although the cited passage implies that the series of Persian victories ended in 617, yet elsewhere the Encyclopedia writes:
This gives the impression that the Persian victories did not end in 617 but, as his next quotation implies, sometime in 619. Yet earlier Mr. Amjad stated that:
It is quite well known that the series of defeats faced by the Romans at the hands of the Persians ended with a number of defeats 'in lands nearby the Arabian Peninsula'. The verse does not specifically state, as Mr. Shamoun has implied, that a 'few' years after the defeat at Jerusalem, the Romans shall be victorious. On the contrary, the verse clearly states that after the Romans have been defeated, the tables shall be turned and within only a few years, the Romans shall be victorious again. It is quite clear that Jerusalem was only one of a continual series of defeats faced by the Romans. This series of defeats REACHED ITS CLIMAX IN AROUND 617 AD. Not long after this time, starting in 622 AD, the tables were turned and, as had been predicted by the Qur'an, a series of Roman victories over the Persians started.
It is quite apparent that Mr. Amjad is trying all he can to save the Quran from a false prediction. If he claims that he was simply highlighting what the Encyclopedia says, not that he accepts its 619 date, then what was the reason for highlighting it in the first place?
Yet as we shall now see the Encyclopedias only reinforce my point. Since Mr. Amjad takes for granted the date given by the Encyclopedias regarding Heraclius' victory over the Persians, we are left with the date of 628 AD. Here are the citations from both the Americana and the Britannica in order to get the complete picture.
The Encyclopedia Americana, 2000 Edition, Volume 4, p. 115 under the heading of Heraclius, states:
Heraclius found the empire in domestic turmoil. The Slavs threatened in the Balkans, the Persians and Visigoths in Asia Minor; in 615 the Persians reached the Bosporous, and in 619 they conquered Egypt. At first, Heraclius concentrated on internal reorganization of the empire. Then, in 622, he left Constantinople to begin a counterattack against the Persians. His military reforms bore fruit WHEN HE DESTROYED THE PERSIAN ARMY AT NINEVAH IN 627. (bold and capital emphasis mine)
On p. 421, under Khosrow II, the Americana writes:
... In 614 Khosrows army entered Jerusalem, sacked the Holy Sepulchre, and carried off the "True Cross" to the Sassanian capital at Ctesiphon. In 617 the Persians took Chalcedon, opposite Constantinople. Not until the forces of Emperor Heraclius crossed the Black Sea and took the offensive in the east were the armies of Khosrow and his chief general, Shahrbaraz, defeated in a series of brilliant campaigns (622-625).
In 626, Khosrows army, now rallied under his general Shahin, besieged Constantinople. But Heraclius again invaded Persian by way of Armenia and marched on the royal residence of Dastagird, from which Khosrow fled. A dynastic revolution led to Khosrows execution in 628 - an end, as poets sang, that was the more ignominious for the glory lost. (bold and capital emphasis mine)
Encyclopædia Britannica says about Heraclius:
In 614 the Persians conquered Syria and Palestine, taking Jerusalem and what was believed to be Christs Cross, and in 619 occupied Egypt and Libya...
In 622, clad as a penitent and bearing a sacred image of the Virgin, he left Constantinople, as prayers rose from its many sanctuaries for victory over the Persian Zoroastrians, the recovery of the Cross, and the reconquest of Jerusalem...
The next two years he devoted to campaigns in Armenia, the manpower of which was vital to the empire, and to a devastating invasion of Persia. In 625 Heraclius retired to Anatolia. He had encamped on the west bank of the Sarus River when the Persian forces appeared on the opposite bank. Many of his men rushed impetuously across the bridge and were ambushed and annihilated by the enemy.
Emerging from his tent, Heraclius saw the triumphant Persians crossing the bridge. The fate of the Empire hung in the balance. Seizing his sword, he ran to the bridge and struck down the Persian leader. His soldiers closed rank behind him and beat back the foe.
In 626 the Persians advanced to the Bosporus, hoping to join the Avars in an assault on the land walls of Constantinople. But the Romans sank the primitive Avar fleet that was to transport Persian units across Bosporus and repelled the unsupported Avar assault. Heraclius again invaded Persia and in December 627, after a march across the Armenian highlands into the Tigris plain, met the Persians near the ruins of Nineveh. There, astride his renowned war-horse, he killed three Persian generals in single combat, charged into enemy ranks at the head of his troops, killed the Persian commander, and scattered the Persian host.
A month later, Heraclius entered Dastagird with its stupendous treasure. Khosrow was overthrown by his son, with whom Heraclius made peace, DEMANDING ONLY THE RETURN OF THE CROSS, the captives, AND CONQUERED ROMAN TERRITORY. Returning to Constantinople in triumph, he was hailed as a Moses, an Alexander, a Scipio. IN 630 HE PERSONALLY RESTORED THE CROSS TO THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE IN JERUSALEM. (bold and capital emphasis mine)
Under Khosrow II, p. 843, the Britannica notes:
A second invasion of Mesopotamia, by Khosrows ablest general, Shahrbaraz, took place in 613. Damascus was taken in that year, and in 614 Jerusalem fell. The Holy Sepulchre was destroyed and the True Cross carried to Ctesiphon. Although Khosrow himself was generally tolerant of Christianity, Shahrbaraz permitted thousands of Christian prisoners to be tortured by his Jewish aides...
This tide of conquest was turned by Heraclius in a series of brilliant campaigns between 622 and 627. Since he retained command of the sea, Heraclius was able to sail to Issus and rout the Persian Army near the Armenian border. In alliance with the Khazar kingdom to the north of the Caucasus, he invaded Armenia again in 623, gaining victory over the Kings army near Canzaca. The town and fire temple were destroyed, together with the temple at Lake Urmia, traditionally associated with Zoroaster. The campaigns of 624 and 625 ranged across northern Syria and Mesopotamia and culminated in a reversal for Shahrbaraz forces on the river Saras.
Khosrow rallied his forces in 626 and, in alliance with the Avars, a people who were also in conflict with Byzantium at this time, sent one army to besiege Constantinople and another to oppose Heraclius. Constantinople held, and Shahin was defeated: the Persian second force was outmanoevred in 628 by Heraclius brave dash to Dastagird, the royal residence 70 miles (113 kilometres) north of Ctesiphon. An important but indecisive battle was fought near Nineveh, but, as the Byzantine army reapproached Dastagird, Khosrow fled. His letters calling Shahrbaraz to his aid had been intercepted, and, although his resources were now drastically reduced, he refused peace terms.
Khosrows prestige was now shattered, and he was now sick. The execution of Sharhbaraz and the desecration of Shahins corpse were followed by revolution in the royal household. Khosrow was condemned to death and executed (628), and his youngest son and heir, Mardanshah, was murdered before his eyes. His eldest son, Kavadh (Qobad) II. Sheroe, signed the peace. (bold emphasis mine)
According to these secular sources Khosrow took over Jerusalem in 614. Heraclius completely defeated the Persians in 627. In 628 Khosrows son gave back to Heraclius all the Roman territory and the Cross which Khosrow had taken. This would naturally include Jerusalem also. Yet it wasnt until 630 that Heraclius restored the Cross to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. This means that my original date of 625 was off by at least three years. So I am grateful to the author since his rebuttal only caused me to strengthen my case against the Quran.
In addition to Britannica, Mr. Amjad cites additional sources in his footnote # 2. We include them here, yet with added emphasis:
R. Scott Moore of the Ohio State University, in his article titled: "Heraclius October 5, 610 - February 641 AD" writes:
When Heraclius first came to the throne in 610, the Byzantine Empire was being attacked from numerous sides. In the west, the Avars and Slavs were expanding into the northern Balkans. The Slavs controlled the Danube regions, Thrace, Macedonia, and were soon invading Central Greece and the Peloponnesus. In the east, meanwhile, the Persians under the rule of Chosroes had begun a series of successful attacks on the empire resulting in the loss of Damascus in 613, Jerusalem in 614 (destroying the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and capturing the Holy Cross) and Egypt in 619. Recognizing the difficulty in fighting on two opposing fronts at the same time, Heraclius signed a peace treaty with the Avars in 619, and focused on the eastern half of the empire. In the spring of 622, Heraclius left Constantinople for Asia Minor and began training his troops over the summer, focusing on a more involved role for the Byantine cavalry.
In the autumn, Heraclius' army invaded Armenia and soon won several victories over the Persians. The Avars, in the meantime, became restless and Heraclius was forced to renegotiate the peace treaty with them at a much higher tribute level. Heraclius then returned to the army and for the next several years unsuccessfully attempted to break through the Persian army and into Persia. In August of 626 while Heraclius and his army were in Lazica away from Constantinople, a Persian army attacked the city from the east while an army of Avars, Slavs, and Bulgars attacked from the west and from the sea. On August 10, the Byzantine navy was able to defeat the opposing fleet and then rout the combined Slav and Avar land force. With the defeat of their allies, the Persians retreated to Syria.
IN THE AUTUMN OF 627, Heraclius began to work his way into Persian territory winning an important battle IN DECEMBER at Nineveh during which most of the Persian army was destroyed. As Heraclius continued to move further into Persian territory, Chosroes was deposed and succeeded by his son Kavadh-Siroe whose first act was to secure a treaty with Heraclius. The treaty was very favorable to the Byzantines and returned all the former Byzantine territories to the empire. Within a few short months, Kavadh-Siroe fell ill and died after naming Heraclius as guardian of his son, Chosroes II. For all practical purposes, the Persian Empire no longer existed. In 630 Heraclius traveled to Jerusalem where he returned the Holy Cross to the city among much acclaim. (See: <http://www.roman-emperors.org/heraclius.htm>).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001, in its article titled "Heraclius" writes:
c.575-641, Byzantine emperor (610-41). The son of a governor of Africa, he succeeded the tyrant Phocas, whom he deposed and had executed. In the early years of his reign Avars and Bulgars threatened, attacking even Constantinople, and the Persians conquered Syria, Palestine, and Egypt. In three costly campaigns (622-28) Heraclius recovered the provinces from the Persians, but they fell (629-42) to the Muslim Arabs. (See: <http://www.bartleby.com/65/he/Heracliu.html>)
Also see: <http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Oracle/7823/emperors/heraclius.html>.
Please do note that Mr. Amjad's very own sources approximate the Roman victory at roughly 628 AD. Other sources that concur include Helmut Gätje:
The Persians had inflicted a heavy defeat upon the Byzantines in 613/14 and had carried off the cross from Jerusalem. Emperor Herakleios I forced the Persians to an armistice in 628 and in 629 carried the cross back to Jerusalem. (Gatje, The Qur'an and its Exegesis [Routledge and Keagan Paul, London UK 1976], p. 272, f. 31)
Christian author Gerhard Nehls writes:
"This passage refers to the defeat of the Byzantines in Syria by the Persians under Khusran Parvis. (A.D. 615 - 6 years before the Hegira). However, the defeat of the Persians should take place soon 'in a small number of years'. In the light of this prediction, Abu-Bakr undertook a bet with Ubai-ibn-Khalaf that this prediction would be fulfilled within three years, but he was corrected by Mohammed who stated that the 'small number' is between three and nine years (Al-Baizawi). Muslims tell us that the Byzantines overcame their enemies within seven years. The fact, however, is that the Byzantines defeated Persia in A.D. 628 (Al-Baizawi commentary). That was twelve years after the prediction of Mohammed. Consequently this passage does not qualify as a prophecy, particularly as the time between prophecy and fulfilment was far too short, and in addition the event was easily predictable." (Gerhard Nehls, Christians Ask Muslims [Life Challenge, SIM International; Africa, 1992], pp. 70-71; bold emphasis ours.)
Yusuf Ali concurs:
16. In these desperate circumstances Heraclius conceived a brilliant plan. He knew that the Persians were weak in sea power. He used his sea power to attack them in the rear. In 622 (the year of the Hijra) he transported his army by sea through the AEgean Sea to the bay just south of the Taurus Mountains. He fought a decisive battle with the Persians at Issus, in the same plain in which Alexander the Great had defeated the Persians of his day in his famous march to Syria and Egypt. The Persians were taken by surprise and routed. BUT THEY HAD STILL A LARGE FORCE IN ASIA MINOR, which they could have brought into play against the Romans if Heraclius had not made ANOTHER and equally unexpected dash by sea from the north. He returned to Constantinople by sea, made a treaty with the Avars, and with this help kept the Persians at bay round the capital. Then he led THREE CAMPAIGNS, IN 623, 624 AND 625, along the southern shore of the Black Sea and took the Persians again in the rear in the region round Trebizond and Kars. Through Armenia he penetrated into Persia and got into Mesopotamia. He was now in a position to strike AT THE VERY HEART OF THE PERSIAN EMPIRE. A DECISIVE BATTLE WAS FOUGHT ON THE TIGRIS NEAR THE CITY OF MOSUL IN DECEMBER 627. Before this battle, however, he had taken care to get the alliance of the Turks and with their help to relieve Constantinople IN 626 against the Persians and the treacherous Avars who had then joined the Persians.
17. Heraclius CELEBRATED HIS TRIUMPH IN CONSTANTINOPLE IN MARCH 628. PEACE WAS THEN MADE BETWEEN THE TWO EMPIRES ON THE BASIS OF THE STATUS QUO ANTE. Heraclius, in pursuance of a vow he had made, went south in the autumn to Emessa (Hims) and from there marched on foot to Jerusalem TO CELEBRATE HIS VICTORIES, AND RESTORE TO ITS PLACE THE HOLY CROSS WHICH HAD BEEN CARRIED AWAY BY THE PERSIANS AND WAS RETURNED TO THE EMPEROR AS A CONDITION OF PEACE. Heracliuss [sic] route was strewn with costly carpets, AND HE THOUGHT THAT THE FINAL DELIVERANCE HAD COME FOR HIS PEOPLE AND HIS EMPIRE (Ali, appendix X, pp. 1073-1074; bold and capital emphasis ours)
If Ali is correct, the victory wasn't complete until Heraclius had entered Jerusalem and thought that he had finally gained complete deliverance for his people. This occurred after 628 AD.
Taking into consideration that the Muslim sources quoted earlier all claim that the passage was revealed shortly after the conquest of Jerusalem in 615 AD we are left with the fact that the alleged fulfillment didn't take place within the stipulated 3-9 years signified by the term bidh'un. Rather, the fulfillment of the event took place some 13 years later.
If Mr. Amjad tries to challenge the 615 date then he must provide evidence refuting this time frame and establishing his claim that this "prophecy" is pre-Hijrah. He cannot simply assert it without recourse to history for proof.
Yet for Mr. Amjad to appeal to such sources will only lead him to 615 as the date, since none of these sources support his date of 617 AD.
Furthermore, even if we were to accept Mr. Amjad's 617 date this still wouldn't prove his case or solve the problem. 617 still leaves us with 10-11 years for the alleged fulfillment, not the 3-9 stipulated by the Quran.
The Learner concludes:
Acknowledging this fact, Gibbon writes:
While the Persian monarch contemplated the wonders of his art and power, he received an epistle from an obscure citizen of Mecca, inviting him to acknowledge Mahomet as the apostle of God. He rejected the invitation, and tore the epistle. "It is thus," exclaimed the Arabian prophet, "that God will tear the kingdom, and reject the supplications of Chosroes." Placed on the verge of the two great empires of the East, Mahomet observed with secret joy the progress of their mutual destruction; and in the midst of the Persian triumphs, he ventured to foretell, that before many years should elapse, victory should again return to the banners of the Romans.
At the time when this prediction is said to have been delivered, no prophecy could be more distant from its accomplishment, since the first twelve years of Heraclius announced the approaching dissolution of the empire. (Gibbon, Edward, The History of the Decline and Fall of Roman Empire, Vol. 4, Chapter 46, Part 3)
Let us look at Gibbon's carefully phrased wording more closely:
At the time when this prediction IS SAID TO HAVE BEEN DELIVERED...
It is clear that Gibbon is dependent upon the Muslim sources for the dating of the prophecy. Yet it is these very sources that indicate that the prophecy actually failed to transpire within the time stipulated.
Furthermore, Mr. Amjad commits the fallacy of appealing to authority. Appealing to authority to establish a position without having proof to support the claims made is a fallacy in argumentation. Since neither Mr. Amjad nor Mr. Gibbon provide any proof for their assertions, this means that appealing to Gibbon proves absolutely nothing.
Mr. Amjad now tries to respond to the next section of my paper:
Relating to Entering Mekkah
It is a well known fact that as a consequence of the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, in the subsequent year, the Muslims performed Hajj in peace and without fear. This fulfilled the prophecy that referred in the Qur'an.
We wish to highlight Amjad's statement that the Muslims performed Hajj "in the subsequent year " of the signing of the Treaty. This is precisely one of the reasons given in my article why Muhammad is not a true prophet. Seeing that he mistakenly assumed that he and his followers would enter Mecca and did not, he then needed an excuse to save him from the embarrassment. More on this below.
Most of the objections raised by Mr. Shamoun, in this respect do not relate to 'unfulfilled' prophecies of the Prophet (pbuh), but actually relate to the circumstances in which the Treaty was written and the words in which it has been alluded to in the Qur'an. All these objections do not relate to the prophecy and are, therefore, not dealt with here. However, with reference to the prophecy, Mr. Shamoun writes:
The anger of the Muslims is justifiable when we realize that Muhammad promised that his followers would have access to Mecca that very same year. When that did not occur, Muhammad attempted to justify his statement by stating, "Yes, did I tell you that we would go to Ka'ba this year?" (Ibid)
In other words, since he did not specify when they would enter Mecca this cannot be considered a false prophecy!
Then refuting this justification, Mr. Shamoun writes:
This is simply erroneous since the Muslim contingent was on their way to Mecca when a deputation from the pagan Arabs stopped them. In fact, one of Muhammad's demands in signing the treaty was that the pagans permit the Muslims to complete their journey to Mecca in order to perform Tawaf. Suhail denied Muhammad's request and instead made an agreement that the Muslims could enter Mecca the following year.
Mr. Shamoun's objection is quite incomprehensible. The fact remains that the Muslims did, in fact, complete their Hajj in the following year in peace and security, as the Prophet (pbuh) had been informed, in his vision, and as alluded to by the Qur'an. The fact that they were denied entrance in Mekkah during their first visit, does not refute the validity of the prophecy.
My argument is only incomprehensible to those who have already assumed that Muhammad was a true prophet of God. But to those with open minds, my point is rather sound. Based on an alleged vision, Muhammad believed that he was going to enter Mecca. Muhammad and his companions proceeded to Mecca in fulfillment of the alleged "revelation". Yet the Pagans prevented Muhammad and his followers from completing their journey. This seriously embarrassed Muhammad in the eyes of his followers.
Here is a lengthy quotation from Maududi regarding the circumstances leading to the signing of Hudaybiyya:
The events in connection with which this Surah was sent down began life this: One day the Holy Prophet saw in a dream that he had gone to Makkah with his Companions and had performed the umrah there. Obviously, the Prophet's dream could not be a mere dream and fiction for it is a kind of Divine inspiration as Allah Himself has confirmed in verse 27 below and said that He Himself had shown that dream to His Messenger. Therefore, it was not merely a dream but a Divine inspiration which the Holy Prophet had to obey and follow.
Apparently, there was no possible way of acting on this inspiration. The disbelieving Quraish had debarred the Muslims from proceeding to the Ka'bah for the past six years and no Muslim had been allowed during that period to approach the Kabah for the purpose of performing hajj and umrah. Therefore, it could not be expected that they would allow the Holy Prophet to enter Makkah along with a party of his Companions. If they had proceeded to Makkah in the pilgrim garments with the intention of performing umrah, along with their arms, this would have provoked the enemy to war, and if they had proceeded unarmed, this would have meant endangering his own as well as his Companions' lives. Under conditions such as these nobody could see and suggest how the Divine inspiration could be acted upon.
But the Prophet's position was different. It demanded that he should carry out whatever Command his Lord gave fearlessly and without any apprehension and doubt. Therefore, the Holy Prophet informed his Companions of his dream and began to make preparations for the journey. Among the tribes living in the suburbs also he had the public announcement made that he was proceeding for umrah and the people could join him. Those who could only see the apparent conditions thought that he and his Companions were going into the very jaws of death none of them therefore was inclined to accompany him in the expedition. But those who had true faith in Allah and His Messenger were least bothered about the consequences. For them this information was enough that it was a Divine inspiration and Allah's Prophet had made up his mind to carry it into effect. After this nothing could hinder them from accompanying the Messenger of Allah. Thus, 1,400 of the Companions became ready to follow him on this highly dangerous journey.
This blessed caravan set off from Madinah in the beginning of Dhil Qa'dah, A. H. 6. At Dhul Hulaifah they entered the pilgrims robe with the intention of umrah, took 70 camels with collars round their necks indicating that they were sacrificial animals; kept only a sword each in sheaths, which the pilgrims to the Kabah were allowed to carry according to the recognized custom of Arabia, but no other weapon. Thus, the caravan set out for the Ka'bah, the House of Allah, at Makkah, chanting the prescribed slogan of Labbaik, Allahuma Labbaik.
... At last, after a great deal of confusion, perplexity and hesitation they [the Quraish] were overcome by their false sense of honor and for the sake of their prestige they took the decision that they would at no cost allow the caravan to enter the city of Makkah.
The Holy Prophet had despatched a man of the Bani Ka'b as a secret agent so that he may keep him fully informed of the intentions and movements of the Quraish. When the Holy Prophet reached Usfan, he brought the news that the Quraish had reached Dhi Tuwa with full preparations and they had sent Khalid bin Walid with two hundred cavalry men in advance towards Kura'al-Ghamim to intercept him. The Quraish wanted somehow to provoke the Holy Prophet's Companions into fighting so that they may tell the Arabs that those people had actually come to fight and had put on the pilgrims garments for umrah only to deceive others.
Immediately on receipt of this information the Holy Prophet changed his route and following a very rugged, rocky track reached Hudaibiyah, which was situated right on the boundary of the sacred Makkan territory. Here, he was visited by Budail bin Warqa the chief of the Bani Khuza'ah, along with some men of his tribe. They asked what he had come for. The Holy Prophet replied that he and his Companions bad come only for pilgrimage to the House of Allah and for going round it in worship and not for war. The men of Khuza'ah went and told this to the Quraish chiefs and counseled them not to interfere with the pilgrims. But the Quraish were obstinate. They sent Hulays bin Alqamah, the chief of the Ahabish, to the Holy Prophet to persuade him to go back. Their object was that when Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace) would not listen to Hulays, he would come back disappointed and then the entire power of the Ahabish would be on their side. But when Hulays went and saw that the whole caravan had put on the pilgrims garments, had brought sacrificial camels with festive collars round their necks, and had come for doing reverence to the House of Allah and not to fight, he returned to Makkah without having any dialogue with the Holy Prophet and told the Quraish chiefs plainly that those people bad no other object but to pay a visit to the Ka'bah; if they debarred them from it, the Ahabish would not join them in that, because they had not become their allies to support them even if they violated the sacred customs and traditions...
At last, the Holy Prophet sent Hadrat Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) as his own messenger to Makkah with the message that they had not come to fight but only for pilgrimage and had brought their sacrificial camels along, and they would go back after performing the rite of pilgrimage and offering the sacrifice. But the Quraish did not agree and withheld Hadrat Uthman in the city. In the meantime a rumor spread that Hadrat Uthman had been killed; and when he did not return in time the Muslims took the rumor to be true. Now they could show no more forbearance. Entry into Makkah was different for there was no intention to use force. But when the ambassador was put to death, the Muslims had no alternative but to prepare for war. Therefore, the Holy Prophet summoned all his Companions together and took a solemn pledge from them that they would fight to death. In view of the critical occasion it was not an ordinary undertaking. The Muslims numbered only 1400 and had come without any weapons, were encamping at the boundary of Makkah, 250 miles away from their own city, and the enemy could attack them in full strength, and could surround them with its allies from the adjoining tribes as well. In spite of this, none from the caravan except one man failed to give his pledge to fight to death, and there could be no greater proof of their dedication and sincerity than that in the cause of Allah. This pledge is well known in the history of Islam as the pledge of Ridwan.
Later it was known that the news about Hadrat Uthman was false. Not only did he return but under Suhail bin 'Amr from the Quraish also arrived a deputation to negotiate peace with the Holy Prophet. Now, the Quraish no more insisted that they would disallow the Holy Prophet and his Companions to enter Makkah. However, in order to save their face they only insisted that he went back that year but could come the following year to perform the umrah. After lengthy negotiations peace was concluded on the following terms:
1. War would remain suspended for ten years, and no party would indulge in any hostility, open or secret, against the other.
2. If any one during that period from among the Quraish went over to Muhammad, without his guardian's permission, he would return him to them, but if a Companion of Muhammad came oven to the Quraish, they would not return him to him.
3. Every Arab tribe would have the option to join either side as its ally and enter the treaty.
4. Muhammad and his men would go back that year and could come the following year for umrah and stay in Makkah for three days, provided that they brought only one sheathed sword each, and no other weapon of war. In those three days the Makkans would vacate the city for them (so that there was no chance of a clash), but they would not be allowed to take along any Makkan on return.
When the conditions of the treaty were being settled, THE WHOLE OF THE MUSLIM ARMY WAS FEELING GREATLY UPSET. No one understood the expedience because of which the Holy Prophet was accepting the conditions. No one was far sighted enough to foresee the great benefit that was to result from this treaty. The disbelieving Quraish looked at it as their victory, and the Muslims were upset as to why they should be humiliated to accepting those mean conditions. Even a statesman of th calibre of Hadrat Umar says that he had never given way to doubt since the time he had embraced Islam but on this occasion he also could not avoid it. Impatient he went to Hadrat Abu Bakr and said "Is he (the Holy Prophet) not Allah's Messenger, and are we not Muslims, and are they not polytheists? Then, why should we agree to what is humiliating to our Faith?" He replied "O Umar, he is surely Allah's Messenger, and Allah will never make him the loser." UNSATISFIED he went to the Holy Prophet himself and put the same questions to him, and he also gave him the same replies as Hadrat Abu Bakr had given. Afterwards Hadrat Umar continued to offer voluntary prayers and give aims so that Allah may pardon his insolence that he had shown towards the Holy Prophet on that occasion.
Two things in the treaty were highly disturbing for the Muslims first, the second condition, about which they said that it was an expressly unfair condition, for if they had to return a fugitive from Makkah, why should not the Quraish return a fugitive from Madinah? To this the Holy Prophet replied: "What use would he be to us, who fled from us to them? May Allah keep him away from us! And if we return the one who flees to us from them, Allah will create some other way out for him." The other thing that was rankling in their minds was the fourth condition. The Muslims thought that agreeing to it meant that they were going back unsuccessful and this was humiliating. Furthermore, the question that was causing them feel upset wad that they had accepted the condition of going back without performing the pilgrimage to the Ka'bah, whereas the Holy Prophet had seen in the vision that they were performing tawaf at Makkah. To this the Holy Prophet replied that in his vision the year had not been specified. According to the treaty conditions, therefore, they would perform the tawaf the following year if it pleased Allah.
Right at the time when the document was being written, Suhail bin 'Amr's own son, Abu Jandal, who had become a Muslim and been imprisoned by the pagans of Makkah somehow escaped to the Holy Prophet's camp. He had fetters on his feet and signs of violence on his body. He implored the Holy Prophet that he help secure his release from imprisonment. The scene only increased the Companions' dejection, and they were moved beyond control. But Suhail bin 'Amr said the conditions of the agreement had been concluded between them although the writing was not yet complete; therefore, the boy should be returned to them. The Holy Prophet admitted his argument and Abu Jandal was returned to his oppressors.
When the document was finished, the Holy Prophet spoke to the Companions and told them to slaughter their sacrificial animals at that very place, shave their heads and put off the pilgrim garments, BUT NO ONE MOVED FROM HIS PLACE. The Holy Prophet repeated the order thrice BUT THE COMPANIONS WERE SO OVERCOME BY DEPRESSION AND DEJECTION THAT THEY DID NOT COMPLY. During his entire period of apostleship ON NO OCCASION had it ever happened that he should command his Companions to do a thing AND THEY SHOULD NOT HASTEN TO COMPLY WITH IT. THIS CAUSED HIM A GREAT SHOCK, and he repaired to his tent and expressed his grief before his wife, Hadrat Umm Salamah. She said, "You may quietly go and slaughter your own camel and call the barber and have your head shaved. After that the people would automatically do what you did and would understand that whatever decision had been taken would not be changed." Precisely the same thing happened. The people slaughtered their animals, shaved their heads or cut their hair short and put off the pilgrim garb, but their hearts were still afflicted with grief... (Source; bold and capital emphasis mine)
Maududi highlights that Muslims wore pilgrimage garb, and brought animals for sacrifices. This irrefutably proves that they had every intention of entering Mecca to perform Umra that year. Otherwise, it makes absolutely no sense for Muslims to be wearing pilgrimage robes and to travel with sacrificial animals if they did not actually believe that they were definitely entering Mecca.
Maududi also admits that the pagans stopped Muhammad from entering Mecca in order to save face, and that the Muslims were angry that Muhammad had agreed to the pagan demands. In fact, when Muhammad commanded them to take off their pilgrimage garments and slaughter the animals as well as shave their heads none of the Companions listened. Maududi is honest enough to admit that this shocked Muhammad and that Umar was so enraged that he even doubted whether Muhammad was a true prophet.
Notice what Ibn Kathir states:
In a dream, the Messenger of Allah saw himself entering Makkah and performing Tawaf around the House. He told his Companions about this dream when he was still in Al-Madinah. When they went to Makkah in the year of Al-Hudaybiyyah, none of them doubted that the Prophet's vision WOULD COME TRUE THAT YEAR. When the treaty of peace was conducted and they had to return to Al-Madinah that year, being allowed to return to Makkah the next year, SOME OF THE COMPANIONS DISLIKED WHAT HAPPENED. 'Umar bin Al-Khattab asked about THIS, saying, 'Haven't you told us that we will go to the House and perform Tawaf around it?'" (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Volume 9, Surat Al-Jathiyah to the end of Surat Al-Munafiqun, Abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, London, Lahore; first edition, September 2000], p. 171; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Interestingly, Mr. Amjad himself admits the possibility that due to his vision Muhammad felt he was going to enter Mecca that year:
It should, however, be kept in mind that the Prophet (pbuh), on the basis of his vision, may indeed have actually thought that the Muslims would complete their Hajj during their first visit. However, this interpretation was not correct. Nevertheless, it was this journey to Hudaybiyyah, which lead to not only the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy entailed in the Prophet's (pbuh) vision, in the following year, but also laid the foundation of the conquest of Mekkah and, later on, the whole of the Arabian Peninsula, which, incidentally, is also one of the 'fulfilled' predictions of the Qur'an.
Let us highlight the Learner's statement for all to see:
It should, however, be kept in mind that the Prophet (pbuh), on the basis of his vision, may indeed have actually thought that the Muslims would complete their Hajj DURING THEIR FIRST VISIT. However, this interpretation WAS NOT CORRECT...
Amazingly, Mr. Amjad not only admits that it was possible that Muhammad believed he was going to enter Mecca, but that Muhammad also incorrectly interpreted the vision he "received" from God! We couldn't have said it any better.
All these factors clearly demonstrate that the alleged "vision" indicating that the Muslims would enter Mecca failed miserably. This then led to an alleged promise from Allah that the vision would be fulfilled and that the Muslims would enter Mecca. Yet here is the most astonishing part of the alleged promise. This will happen only IF ALLAH WILLS!:
Truly did Allah fulfil the vision for His Messenger: ye shall enter the Sacred Mosque, IF ALLAH WILLS, with minds secure, heads shaved, hair cut short, and without fear. For He knew what ye knew not, and He granted, besides this, a speedy victory.
It seems that due to his first embarrassment, Muhammad is now cautious in making claims that he knows may not come to pass. Dr. William Campbell notes:
Muhammad told his men that he had a vision of making the pilgrimage before they set out toward Mecca to do it. The Meccans stopped them at Hudaibiya and wouldn't let them do the pilgrimage, but a treaty was made which would allow the Muslims to do the pilgrimage in the future. According to the Hadith some of the Muslims were very upset because the dream was not fulfilled, at which point this verse was given, promising that it would be fulfilled in the future.
Each reader must assign his own value to this verse, since we do not have the details of the original dream. But the biggest problem is this phrase "if God wills" in the middle of a prophetic word from the mouth of God?
If God has "fulfilled the vision of the Apostle" and said, "You shall enter", how can He dictate to his Apostle the words, "If God wills". He is God and He knows what He wills. That is the whole point of calling something a prophecy of the future. IT WILL COME TO PASS. (Campbell, The Qur'an and the Bible in the Light of History & Science [Middle East Resources 1992, ISBN 1-881085-00-7], pp. 249-250)
Mr. Amjad next addresses my comments regarding the prophecies in the hadith:
Relating to the Dajjaal
As for the various prophecies relating to the Dajjal, because all of these have only been mentioned in narratives ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh), and have absolutely no basis in either the Qur'an or the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh), therefore, it cannot even be ascertained with any degree of certainty whether they have been correctly ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) or not and, even their ascription was somehow ascertained to be correct, whether or not these narratives accurately describe the actual saying of the Prophet (pbuh) or not. Furthermore, many of the narratives ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) relating to the appearance of the Dajjal have, in fact, been criticized by well known Muslim scholars.
As a result, due to the vulnerability of narratives ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh), any serious criticism on any sayings of the Prophet (pbuh) reported in these narratives, cannot actually be considered a criticism on the saying of the Prophet (pbuh), but as one on the accuracy of the ascription of that saying to the Prophet (pbuh). Thus, even if anyone considers Mr. Shamoun's criticism on these narratives to be valid, it would put a further question-mark on the ascription of these narratives to the Prophet (pbuh) and on the accuracy of the saying or incidents reported in them.
I hope this helps.
January 14, 2002
Let me repeat Mr. Amjad's words in order to highlight his circular methodology:
... it cannot even be ascertained with any degree of certainty whether they have been correctly ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) or not and, even their ascription was somehow ascertained to be correct, whether or not these narratives accurately describe the actual saying of the Prophet (pbuh) or not...
... any serious criticism on any sayings of the Prophet (pbuh) reported in these narratives, cannot actually be considered a criticism on the saying of the Prophet (pbuh), but as one on the accuracy of the ascription of that saying to the Prophet (pbuh)...
In a response to certain hadiths regarding the number of days it took Allah to create the earth, Mr. Amjad provided some additional reasons why he rejects such narrations:
I think these words and the paragraphs that precede it are not difficult to understand. I have simply tried to make the point that for a narrative to be taken as absolutely accurate, it is not sufficient that truthful and honest people narrate it. Many other factors, most of which are not even determinable are also of equal importance. We, from our everyday life experiences, know quite well that every statement narrated by a truthful, honest and dependable person is not necessarily a correct one. For a narrative to be correct, besides issues like general integrity and honesty of the individual, the accuracy of his understanding and comprehension of the particular narrative [while hearing it], the soundness of his memory with regard to the particular narrative and his unblemished [oral or written] presentation of the particular narrative [while narrating it to the next person in the chain] are also of utmost importance. I am sure, "The Doubter" and everyone else will agree with me that the case is really so. We can by no means be certain about the correctness or otherwise of the ascription of a particular narrative to the Prophet (pbuh) under these circumstances.
That is the very reason why, in my opinion, all narratives, even if they have been reported by people of impeccable character, integrity and honesty should not only be considered in the light of the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh), but also in the light of common sense. Any narrative reporting anything against the Qur'an, the Sunnah or common sense, even if reported by highly truthful and honest people is wrongly ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh). I would like to ask "The Doubter" to provide me with the basis relying on which he is so sure that the saying [under consideration] is correctly ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh). I am sure that if he has any communicable and comprehendible basis of this certainty, I will also be able to understand these basis and the problem shall stand resolved without much discussion. Till such time, I have no option but to repeat again that "It is not the understanding of Mohammad (pbuh) but the understanding ascribed to Mohammad (pbuh) that has been reported in the narrative under consideration. This ascription, obviously, may or may not be correct". (Source)
We do agree with Mr. Amjad that honesty is not a sufficient basis for accepting a narrative as sound, and also agree that the requirements stipulated by Mr. Amjad in his first paragraph need to be present in order to have a high degree of certainty whether a tradition is accepted as sound. The problem is that the traditions fail to meet these requirements since these narrations are removed from the events by at least two hundred years. This approach would also call into question all of the traditions, and is also why Christians reject the traditions
But implicit in the Learner's statement is his assumption that Muhammad was a prophet and therefore would not contradict common sense:
That is the very reason why, in my opinion, all narratives, even if they have been reported by people of impeccable character, integrity and honesty should not only be considered in the light of the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh), but also in the light of common sense. Any narrative reporting anything against the Qur'an, the Sunnah or common sense, even if reported by highly truthful and honest people is wrongly ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh)...
Again, note what the Learner says elsewhere:
It is primarily because of this reason that a narrative, before being accepted as a true reporting of a saying of the Prophet (pbuh) should be as thoroughly checked vis a vis its contents, as it is checked with reference to its sanad. Thus, even if a narrative is reported by a strong and reliable chain of narrators it can only be accepted as a true and accurate reporting of an actual saying of the Prophet (pbuh) after analyzing its contents on the following two criteria:
The narrative under consideration is not in contradiction to anything contained in the Qur'an or the Sunnah OR ESTABLISHED HUMAN KNOWLEDGE AND INFORMATION;
If the narrative relates to a religious issue then its contents should have a clear basis in the Qur'an and the Sunnah, the two basic and independent sources of Islam. This, obviously, implies that no addition or deletion in the main corpus of religion is made on the basis of Hadith alone.
If the narrative falls short on these criteria, even if it is reported by honest and reliable people, then the decision regarding its acceptance would either be deferred till the time that an adequate explanation is given for such a narrative or would be rejected as one wrongly ascribed (possibly due to the element of misperception of a saying or its misreporting) to the Prophet (pbuh). (Source)
Since these narrations do not contradict either the Quran or the Sunnah the question begging should be evident to all since it goes something like this:
Muhammad is a prophet, and prophets do not contradict common sense, established human knowledge and information. Nor would they falsely predict the future.
These traditions contain false predictions.
Therefore, these traditions have been falsely attributed to Muhammad since Muhammad is a prophet, and prophets do not contradict common sense, established human knowledge and information. Nor would they falsely predict the future.
This concludes our rebuttal. If Mr. Amjad decides to respond we will follow up with another reply.
Until then, by the grace of God we will continue to remain in the service of our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ forever. Amen. Come Lord Jesus. We love you.
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