Amazing Qur’an or Amazing Gullibility?
In my research on the issue of Haman in the Qur’an (see this article), I came across Harun Yahya’s website “Miracles of the Qur’an” and specifically his section on alleged “Historical Miracles of the Qur’an”. Five of the ten listed articles (miracles) deal with different aspects of the story of Moses and Pharaoh in the Qur’an.
Frankly, most of these articles make a number of false statements, and these “miracles” are mostly fabrications based on manipulations of the facts. Some of these hoaxes will be examined in other articles, but in this short note I want to point out that Harun Yahya managed to propose three rather different dates for the Pharaoh who was confronted by Moses.
All of these articles seek to establish the superior historical accuracy of the Qur’an when compared with the Bible.
The first date for the story of Pharaoh and Moses is implicit in this article:
THE WORD "PHARAOH" IN THE QUR'AN
In the Old Testament, the Egyptian ruler during the period of Prophet Ibrahim (as) and Prophet Yusuf (as) are named "Pharaoh." However, this title was actually employed after the eras in which these two Prophets lived.
While addressing the Egyptian ruler at the time of Prophet Yusuf (as), the word "Al-Malik" in Arabic is used in the Qur'an: It refers to a ruler, king or sultan:
The King said, 'Bring him to me straight away!'… (Qur'an, 12:50)
The ruler of Egypt in the time of the Prophet Musa (as) is referred to as "Pharaoh." This distinction in the Qur'an is not made in the Old and New Testaments nor by Jewish historians. In the Bible, the word "Pharaoh" is used, in every reference to an Egyptian monarch. On the other hand, the Qur'an is far more concise and accurate in the terminology it employs.
The use of the word "Pharaoh" in Egyptian history belongs only to the late period. This particular title began to be employed in the 14th century B.C., during the reign of Amenhotep IV. The Prophet Yusuf (as) lived at least 200 years before that time.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica says that the word "Pharaoh" was a title of respect used from the New Kingdom (beginning with the 18th dynasty; B.C. 1539-1292) until the 22nd dynasty (B.C. 945-730), after which this term of address became the title of the king. Further information on this subject comes from the Academic American Encyclopaedia, which states that the title of Pharaoh began to be used in the New Kingdom.
As we have seen, the use of the word "Pharaoh" dates from a specific period in history. For that reason, the fact that the Qur'an distinguishes between the different Egyptian titles in different Egyptian eras is yet another proof that the Qur'an is Allah's Word. (Source; underline emphasis mine)
In a footnote, Harun Yahya reveals his sources for these claims:
Elias Karîm, “Qur’anic Accuracy vs. Biblical Error: The Kings & Pharaohs of Egypt,” www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Contrad/External/josephdetail.html; Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, “An Aspect of the Qur’aan’s Miraculous Nature,” www.islaam.com/Article.asp?id=40.
At the first link, we find the following two statements in a chronology table:
"Pharaoh" first applied to the king around middle of the 14th century BCE, c. 1352-1348 BCE.
Moses born around the beginning of the 13th century BCE.
And in their understanding, the Exodus happened in the second half of the century either under Ramses II or Merneptah, some time between 1200 and 1250. In fact, in the original version of their article, to which Harun Yahya referred at the time of writing his article, they positively identified the Pharaoh of the Exodus as Merneptah (see this article), i.e. about 1210 BC. This was the basis for Harun Yahya’s article, and one could assume that he agreed with this. He definitely claims in his own text that it could not be before 1400 BC, since before that time the king of Egypt was not called Pharaoh.
In fact, in a chapter of his book “Perished Nations”, Harun Yahya basically builds his whole argument on the “fact” that Ramses II is the Pharaoh of Exodus. The chapter is called “Fir’awn that was drowned”, i.e. “The Pharaoh who was drowned”. In this chapter he writes, “According to many historians, Ramses was the Pharaoh tormenting the Children of Israel and fighting against Musa (as)” (p. 96) and throughout the chapter he builds on that identification. Since the Qur’an says that Pharaoh was drowned (i.e. died) during the Exodus of the Israelites, this means the Exodus took place in 1212 BC, the year of the death of Ramses II. (The inconsistency of whether Ramses II or Merneptah was the Pharaoh is left for another discussion. Here the point is merely that Harun Yahya puts the Exodus at the late 13th century.)
Then there is a second article on the topic of the plagues / punishments which God brought on the Egyptians through the hands of Moses. I will quote only part of this article.
In the early 19th century a papyrus dating back to the Middle Kingdom was discovered in Egypt. The papyrus was taken to the Leiden Museum in Holland and translated by A.H. Gardiner in 1909. The entire text appears in the book Admonitions of an Egyptian from a Hieratic Papyrus in Leiden, and describes major changes in Egypt; famine, drought, the slaves’ flight from Egypt with their assets, and death all over the nation. The papyrus was written by an Egyptian called Ipuwer and it appears from its contents that this individual personally witnessed the disasters that struck Egypt. This papyrus is a most significant hand-written description of the catastrophes, the death of Egyptian society and the destruction of Pharaoh.
The details in the papyrus regarding the disasters that struck the people of Egypt are just as described in the Qur'an. In the Qur'an, we are told about these catastrophes. This Islamic account of this period of human history has been confirmed by the discovery in Egypt, in the early 19th century, of the Ipuwer papyruses dating back to the Middle Kingdom. After the discovery of this papyrus, it was sent to the Leiden Dutch Museum in 1909 and translated by A. H. Gardiner, a prominent scholar of ancient Egypt. In the papyrus were described such disasters in Egypt as famine, drought and the fleeing of the slaves from Egypt. Moreover, it appears that the writer of the papyrus, one Ipuwer, had actually witnessed these events. This is how the Ipuwer papyrus refers to these catastrophes described in the Qur'an: ...
And the conclusion:
The chain of disasters which struck the people of Egypt, according to this document, conforms perfectly with the Qur'anic account of these matters. This papyrus, which closely parallels the catastrophes which struck Egypt in the time of Pharaoh, once again demonstrates the Qur'an to be divine in origin. (Source: The Troubles Which Afflicted Pharaoh And Those Around Him; underline emphasis mine)
Clearly, Harun Yahya identifies the catastrophes described in the Ipuwer document with the quranic punishments of Pharaoh through Moses.
Harun Yahya also gives a number of links to other web pages regarding this document. The main and first one on which he bases his article is “The Plagues of Egypt” which states:
The Admonitions of Ipuwer is believed to have been written around 1780 B.C.E. according to the astronomical computations of the Sothis period.
Obviously the events need to happen first before Ipuwer can report them. So, let’s say they happened roughly around 1,800 BC.
Although Harun Yahya may not have realized that yet, now he has a serious problem. He has published two articles, side by side, which claim that Moses and the Pharaoh lived and the Exodus happened (a) around 1210 BC (but certainly after 1400 BC) and (b) that the plagues associated with Moses and the Pharaoh happened around 1,800 BC. That is a difference of nearly six-hundred years! The first article claims that it was in the New Kingdom period, and the second article claims that the plagues are reported in a document from the Middle Kingdom. Moreover, according to the first article, the kings were not yet called Pharaoh in the Middle Kingdom since this title only started to be used in the New Kingdom. So, Harun Yahya’s second article “proves” that the Qur’an is actually wrong to call the king Pharaoh in the time of Moses.
Wikipedia states regarding the document of Ipuwer:
The sole surviving manuscript dates to the later 13th century BCE (no earlier than the 19th dynasty in the New Kingdom). Egyptologist Dr Halpern believed that the papyrus was a copy of an earlier Middle kingdom copy. The dating of the original composition of the poem is disputed, but several scholars, have suggested a date between the late 12th dynasty and the Second Intermediate Period (ca. 1850 BCE - 1600 BCE). (Source; 9 June 2009)
Whether it is 1,800 or 1,600 BC for the Ipuwer text, the two historical miracles of the Qur’an cannot be true simultaneously. In particular, the Ipuwer plagues miracle turns the “name of Pharaoh” miracle into a historical error of the Qur’an if the central statement in the first article is to be believed.
But Harun Yahya is not done yet. He has yet another date for Moses and Pharaoh. In a third article, on the person of Haman in the Qur’an, he states:
One such example of this wisdom can be found in the Qur'anic references to Haman: a character whose name is mentioned in the Qur'an, along with the Pharaoh. He is mentioned in six different places in the Qur'an, in which it informs us that he was one of Pharaoh's closest allies.
Surprisingly, the name "Haman" is never mentioned in those sections of the Torah pertaining to the life of the Prophet Musa (as). However, the mention of Haman can be found in the last chapters of the Old Testament as the helper of a Babylonian king who inflicted many cruelties on the Israelites approximately 1,100 years after the Prophet Musa (as). The Qur'an, far more in tune with recent archaeological discoveries, does indeed contain the word "Haman" in reference to the life of the Prophet Musa (as).
And again, he concludes his article with this punch line:
In a miraculous way, the Qur'an conveys to us historical information that could not have been possessed or understood at the time of the Prophet (saas). Hieroglyphics could not be deciphered until the late 1700s so the information could not have been ascertained from Egyptian sources. When the name "Haman" was discovered in the ancient scripts, it was further proof of the infallibility of Allah's Word. (Source: "Haman" And Ancient Egypt Monuments; underline emphasis mine)
Although Harun Yahya doesn’t mention in this article which Babylonian king or which Pharaoh we are talking about, so that it is rather strange to give such a time difference, most scholars believe that the Book of Esther speaks about Xerxes I (no matter whether they consider the Book of Esther to be a historical account or an unhistorical legend about him). Xerxes reigned as king of Persia in 486-465 BC. Adding 1,100 years, we then are around 1,570 BC, yet another date for Moses, Pharaoh and the Exodus. This one, again, is before the New Kingdom period, and thus the title Pharaoh was not yet used according to Yahya’s claim in the first article.
In conclusion, Harun Yahya contradicts himself over and over again in the articles in which he propagates the “historical miracles of the Qur’an”. The Qur’an miraculously agrees with certain documents which place these same events around the time of 1,800 BC, or 1,570 BC or 1210 BC.
Obviously, the Exodus was not repeated three times in the same way at all of these dates.
Nevertheless, strangely, amazingly, the Qur’an is miraculously flexible and able to perfectly agree with each one of these dates (and probably a few others as well).
In the final analysis: Nearly every one of Yahya’s arguments is a fraud. There is no historical miracle in the Qur’an. The miracle is merely in the mind of the author and in the minds of those Muslims who so eagerly believe these self-contradictory claims.
Further reading: The Haman Hoax examines the Muslim claims regarding Haman in the Qur’an in great detail, including the two versions published by Harun Yahya.
Micro-organisms and sub-atomic particles?
Harun Yahya’s writings are abounding in inaccuracies and contradictions. In the first part I have exposed his blatant contradictions in dating the Exodus. Many more inconsistencies and contradictions can be found in Yahya’s alleged scientific miracles. I will present just one of them in this article.
Harun Yahya uses the same two verses (S. 10:61 and 34:3) but with different translations to prove (1) atoms (and even sub-atomic particles) and (2) microscopic life are mentioned in the Qur’an! In other words, he extracts two “scientific miracles” from the same verses by giving them two contradictory interpretations. He writes:
… At the present time, modern science has revealed that the atom, previously regarded as the smallest particle, can actually be split. This fact only emerged in the last century, but was revealed in the Qur'an 1,400 years ago:
… He is the Knower of the Unseen, Whom not an atom's weight eludes, either in the heavens or in the earth; nor is there anything smaller or larger than that which is not in a Clear Book. (Qur'an, 34:3)
… Not even an atom's weight eludes your Lord, either on earth or in heaven. Nor is there anything smaller than that, or larger, which is not in a Clear Book. (Qur'an, 10:61)
This verse refers to "atom" and smaller particles still. … (Source)
Here Harun Yahya renders the Arabic phrase “mithqala tharratin” as “an atom’s weight” and claims that these two verses speak about atoms and sub-atomic particles. That this interpretation is a mistranslation and an abuse of the text is discussed in some detail in these two articles: Does the Qur’an speak about atoms? and Sub-atomic Particles Revealed in the Qur’an? There is no need to repeat that discussion here. In this present article I am mostly concerned with exposing how Yahya contradicts himself and deceives his audience by fabricating miracles.
And here is his second article using these two verses:
THE EXISTENCE OF MICROSCOPIC LIFE
Glory be to Him Who created all the pairs: from what the earth produces and from themselves and from things unknown to them. (Qur'an, 36:36)
… And He creates other things you do not know. (Qur'an, 16:8)
The above verses indicate the existence of life forms unknown to people at the time of the revelation of the Qur'an. Indeed, with the discovery of the microscope, new living things too small to be seen with the naked eye have also been discovered by man. People have therefore begun to learn about the existence of these life forms, indicated in the Qur'an. Other verses which point to the existence of micro-organisms, which are invisible to the naked eye and generally consist of a single cell, read:
… He is the Knower of the Unseen, Whom not even the weight of the smallest particle eludes, either in the heavens or in the earth; nor is there anything smaller or larger than that which is not in a Clear Book. (Qur'an, 34:3)
… Not even the smallest speck eludes your Lord, either on earth or in heaven. Nor is there anything smaller than that, or larger, which is not in a Clear Book. (Qur'an, 10:61)
There are 20 times more members of this secret world, which is spread all over the planet, micro-organisms in other words, than there are animals on Earth. These micro-organisms, invisible to the naked eye, comprise bacteria, viruses, fungi, algae and Acarina (mites and ticks). They also constitute an important element in the balance of life on Earth. For example, ...
Fourteen centuries ago, the Qur'an indicated the existence of living things beyond those which can be seen with the naked eye. This is another spectacular miracle contained within the verses of the Qur'an. (Source)
There is no spectacular miracle, only gross misinterpretation. In this second article “mithqala tharratin” is actually rendered much more appropriately (see Does the Qur’an speak about atoms?). However, not one of all these verses actually speaks of micro-organisms. It is merely wishful thinking from start to finish. The first two verses simply say that God created everything, those things known to you, and everything that you do not know (yet). “Unknown” is not the same as “too small to be seen with the naked eye”. Things unknown to the Arabs at Muhammad’s time would include the kangaroos of Australia, penguins and polar bears, but also potatoes and tomatoes which originate in South America and were first brought to Europe around 1500 AD after the Spanish discovery and exploration of South America. Yes, “things unknown” also include micro-organisms, but these verses do not mention micro-organisms in particular and certainly do not reveal the existence of micro-organisms.
Actually, S. 36:36 contains a considerable scientific error. It belongs to a cluster of verses in the Qur’an claiming that all life comes in pairs. This is particularly wrong for micro-organisms, see the article Everything in Pairs?
Anyway, here is the contradiction: “(mithqala) tharratin” (S. 10:61 and 34:3) cannot at the same time refer to “individual atoms” and to “micro-organisms”. In fact, this phrase refers to neither one, but the fact that Yahya claims both meanings for this expression – for the purpose of creating two “scientific miracles” – exposes his utter disregard for honest interpretation of the Qur’an. He is not interpreting the Qur’an properly but is a fabricator of lies about the Qur’an. And his Muslim admirers are paying him rather well for feeding them lies.