Responses to Islamic Awareness

The Ten Wise Jews and the Fallacy of Distraction


When I first discovered the account of the "Ten Wise Jews", which is also known as "The Tale of the Ten Wise Jews" and the "Story of the Ten Wise Jews", I suspected that it would elicit a response - and I was not disappointed. The Islamic-Awareness team employed the usual ad hominem attacks, going as far as accusing the "missionaries" of mischief-making! Beyond the ordinary slurs and insults, this article exhibits yet another logical fallacy found in the Qur'an and, regularly, in Islamic polemics (for other such fallacies, see: Logical Fallacies in the Qur'an).

I agree that the story of the "Ten Wise Jews" has a "very mythical, entertaining quality". This should have been evident from the Jewish account which claims that the "Wise Jewish" Rabbis inserted their names in a chapter of the Qur'an. Obviously, no Rabbis' names appear in the Qur'an! However, this story is no more "mythical and entertaining" than Suras 113 and 114 where Muhammad believed that a curse had been placed on him. In fact, Muhammad believed that he was having sex with his wives, while he actually did not have sex with them, for nearly one year!

It should not be a surprise, to anyone who has read the Qur'an, that there are numerous verses which accuse Muhammad of reciting "tales of the ancients" (including Suras 6:25; 8:31; 16:24; 23:83; 25:5; 27:68; 46:17; 68:15; and, 83:13). Sura 16:103 is somewhat unique:

"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."

Notice that Muhammad does not specifically deny the accusation that others taught him the verses of the Qur'an. He uses the Fallacy of Distraction. Muhammad's only defense is that the person (or persons) referred to as "teachers" are foreigners, and, therefore, could not compose verses in "pure and clear" Arabic.

Saifullah and company employ the same logical fallacy as their so-called "Prophet". Muhammad made language the issue in his argument of distraction. The real issue at hand was the content of his "revelations" and not the eloquence of his Arabic. Instead of refuting the accusation [that Muhammad was taught by others], the "Islamic Awareness" team chose to distract attention from the issue by arguing the chronology of Ibn Ish‚q's Biography of Muhammad - which, in its original text, no longer exists!

Theophanes' account is interesting because it is an early account of the accusation that Muhammad was taught by others - although the Qur'an's account of this accusation is much older! In the future [God willing], we will add many sections to the Qur'an Commentary which will show the Jewish sources of the Qur'an. Muhammad's critics knew that he borrowed extensively, and often inaccurately, from the Haggada and other Jewish sources.

Andrew Vargo


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