"Need is the mother of invention" is a saying that is true in many areas but in particuler it is true to what is called the science of the Qur'an.
When the Muslims found themselves in the need to protect what they believed to be the miraculous nature of the Qur'an they invented:
We begin with the last, the Hadith inventions, since it explains the underlying motives for the inventability of the Muslims in all areas mentioned above.
In the following we will quote the words of Muslim scholar, Mahmood Abu Rayyah in his book Adwa' 'Ala As-Sunnah Al-Muhammadeya. Under the heading The Godly Fabricators, he wrote:
Fabricating hadiths was not limited to the enemies of Islam but also good pious Muslims fabricated hadiths thinking that they were doing a good deed and when they were asked, "How do you lie to the Prophet of Allah", they replied, "We do not lie against him but for him." For lying is only considered as lying if it is pre-determined. Muslim reported on the authority of Yahya ibn Said al-Qattan, and from his father, who said, "I have never seen good people telling more lies in any matter than when they do with the hadith." That is as Muslim said: lying flows from their tongues unintentionally." Muslim reported on the authority of Abi Zinad who said, "I saw in Madina One hundred trusted believers but would not trust them when it comes to the Hadith." Alhafez Ibn Hagar said "Some ignorant people, being puffed up have fabricated threatening and wooing Hadith". To defend themselves they said, "We did not lie against the Prophet we did what we did to support his tradition."
... Abdallah Annahawandi said to one of the followers of Ahmad, "From where did you get those hadiths which you recite in order to make peoples hearts tender (Raqa'q)?" He replied, "We made it up to make the heart of the masses tender." Ibn al-Gozi said of this follower of Ahmad that he was an ascetic who deserted the lusts of this world, he used to live solely on herbs and the markets of Baghdad were shut the day he died.
Ahmad bn Muhammad al-Marouzi, one of the staunchest traditionalists of his time, and a strong defender of the Sunna who used to reproach anyone who deviates from it, in spite of all that he used to fabricate the Hadith and change it.
Bukhari reported in his at-Tarikh al-Awsat on the authority of Omar bn Sobeyh bn 'Omran at-Tamimi that he said: I made up the prophet's farewell speech.
And al-Hakem in his Madkhal on the authority of Abi 'Ammar al-Marouzi, it was said to Abi 'Esmah: from where did you get on the authority of 'Akramah and the authority of Ibn 'Abbas in the virtues of the Qur'an chapter by chapter, and the followers of 'Akramah have none of it? He replied: "I saw the people neglecting the Qur'an and showed more interest in the work of Abu Hanifa and Ibn Ishaq, so I made up these Hadith."
We are not discussing here the fabricated Hadith that was put by the enemies of Islam. And we are not discussing some so called Hadith which is in fact come from Christian sources.
We are talking about pure Islamic material that originated from the brains of godly and pious Muslim leaders. This fabricated Hadith was not a little change here and there, but a wholesale invention. And through it all, this fabrication was not done to degrade Islam and lie against Muhammad, but to spread his teaching through lying for his sake.
In the above mentioned book, Mahmood Abu Rayyah also wrote under the heading How did they justify fabricating the Hadith:
The Hadith fabricators did not leave their work without producing some support to what they manufactured that suit their fabrication. Tahawi wrote in al-Moshkel on the authority of Abu Huraira: If you were told a Hadith you appreciate and do not dislike, believe it, whether I said it or not! For I say that which is appreciated, not that which is unlikable. Khalid bn Yazid said: I heard Muhammad bn Sa'eed ad-Demeshqi saying: If I found some good speech, I saw no reason why I should not make a chain of authority for it.
So with "good intentions" and under this licence the parables of Christ were reproduced as Hadith (see Sahih Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 559, cf. Matthew 20:1-16), the Lord's prayer was attributed to Mohammad (see Sunan Abu Dawud, Number 3883; cf. Matthew 6:9-13), and even the teaching of the Apostle Paul now comes from the lips of Muhammad (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Number 467, cf. 1 Corinthians 2:9).
And if it was not for the obvious time factor, Newton's law, Force equals Mass times Acceleration, would have been made a Hadith that fell from the lips of Mohammad.
This "good" but twisted intention permeates the whole topic.
In the face of the different problems in the Qur'an all is needed are people with "good" intention to rise and defend that which they believe to be beyond reproach.
We now turn to see how these godly people have fabricated not only Hadith but also pre-Islamic poetry.
1. Mahmood Abu Rayyah, Adwa' 'Ala As-Sunnah Al-Muhammadeya, Dar al-Ma'aref, Cairo, 1980, pp. 111-112.
2. Mahmood Abu Rayyah, p. 110
Muslims in defense of the grammatical errors of the Qur'an have used what is called pre-Islamic poetry as their first line of defense. In this poetry grammatical deviations found in the Qur'an were matched by similar deviations in the so called pre-Islamic poetry.
Various scholars have come to the conclusion that this so-called pre-Islamic poetry is an invention by early Muslims. Here we will summarise briefly the findings of an Egyptian Muslim scholar by the name of Taha Hussein.
Taha Hussein, in his book Fi al-Adab al-Jaheli contended that:
أن الكثرة المطلقة مما نسميه أدباً جاهلياً ليست من الجاهلية في شيء، وإنما هي منحولة بعد ظهور الإسلام... (الأدب الجاهلى، طه حسين، ص 65) وسينتهى بنا البحث إلى نتيجة غريبة، وهي أنه لا ينبغى أن يستشهد بهذا الشعر على تفسير القرآن...(الأدب الجاهلى، طه حسين، ص 67)
Taha Hussein by comparing the contents of "pre-Islamic" poetry with the Qur'an has shown that what is called pre-Islamic literature does not represent the religious, intellectual, political or economic life of the pre-Islamic period.
Taha Hussein has utilized some research that documented that the language of the so-called pre-Islamic poetry is vastly different from the recorded pre-Islamic poetry. The supposed authors of this poetry did not speak or write the Arabic of the Qur'an but the language of the Hameereyin because they belonged to the Qahatny tribes.
He has also established that the supposed authors of the so-called pre-Islamic poetry belonged to different tribes having different dialects. These different dialects cannot be detected in the recorded "pre-Islamic" poetry which we have in our hands. One would have expected this poetry to represent these tribal dialects, on the contrary that poetry uses the language of the Qur'an i.e. the language of Qoraysh.
Taha Hussain also noted that the Muslim scholars who quoted "pre-Islamic poetry" to prove their points of view did not find any difficulty in finding the exact piece of poetry that supported their case; so much so, that Taha Hussain felt that this "pre-Islamic Poetry" had been tailored exactly to suit the Qur'an and the Hadith; no more and no less.
Taha Hussain, quoting Ibn Sallam who criticized Ibn Ishaq and others, who used poetry attributed to 'Aad and Thamoud, saying that this poetry was fabricated. The strong evidence for this is found in the Qur'an which states that God destroyed the people of 'Aad and Thamoud with no one of them surviving to recite their poetry to the coming generations.
The fabricators of the pre-Islamic poetry went beyond the invention of human authors for this poetry; they even made the Jinn to compose poetry. Taha Hussein quoted a sample of this Jinny poetry an ode in praise of Omar Ibn el-Khatab after his death.
Those fabricators were not content to invent pre-Islamic poetry, they even fabricated pre-historic poetry, an ode in praise of Abel, who was killed by Cain, and attributed it to Adam himself, in Arabic of course! One wonders how such precious words of Adam escaped all the previous prophets and were not even noted by Mohammad. Neither Jews nor Christians or any other group have known about this Ode. The fabricators must have received a special revelation that place them in the class of prophets.
In Itqan by Suyuti we are told of the unbelievable incident where a man comes to ask Ibn 'Abbas questions relating to the strange words of the Qur'an and Ibn 'Abbas in one sitting recited to the man a verse of poetry for every difficult word in the Qur'an, except four words. The impossible impression one gets is that Ibn 'Abbas was a walking data-base who knew all the poetry that has been said before his time and during his time in this vast land which now spans from Yemen to Syria.
In his book 'Ulum al-Hadith Dr Sobhy as-Saleh discusses why early Muslims used "pre-Islamic" poetry instead of the Hadith and then agrees with the assessment of Ostaz Sa'eed al-Afghani, who stated, "... they [the early Muslims] should have never considered such poetry which is soon surrounded by doubt when measured by the modern standards of scientific research."
So it is not only Taha Hussein who believed that the so called "pre-Islamic poetry" is a fabricated work, there are also some respectable contemporary scholars who think that there is something fishy about this so called pre-Islamic poetry.
Even if Taha Hussein was wrong in claiming that most pre-Islamic poetry has been fabricated, the charge that some pre-Islamic poetry has been fabricated is well established.
If some people had the courage and the audacity to fabricate hundreds and thousands of lines to the collections of sayings of their prophet how much more will they freely fabricate verses of poetry that belonged to normal people.
These are not the only comments about this so called "pre-Islamic poetry". More to come in the following section.
1. Fil-Adab al-Jaheli, Taha Hussein, Dar al-Ma'aref, 16th edition, p. 65, 67.
2. ibid., pp. 70-80.
3. ibid., pp. 80-92.
4. ibid., pp. 92-105.
5. ibid., p. 108.
6. ibid., p. 131.
7. ibid., p. 134.
8. Itqan, chapter 36.
9. 'Ulum al-Hadith, Dr Sobhy as-Saleh, Dar al-'Elm lel-Malayeen, Lebanon, p. 333.
Muslim scholars did not only invent Hadith and poetry that they claimed to belong to the pre-Islamic period, they even took the liberty to invent words in other languages.
Thus one of the ways early Muslims tried to solve some of the inconsistencies found in the Qur'an is to claim that some words found in the Qur'an are NOT actually Arabic words but they are either tribal words belonging to other than Hijjaz (which is the language of the Qur'an) or words that are totally foreign words eg. Coptic or Roman etc.
It is like saying "can" in English it means able (as in I can see) but in Arabic it means "was" (as in can hena).
Now let us have a look at some passages from the Qur'an and see how the early Muslims sought to explain away the problems they encountered with them.
Here are some examples:
ومن ثمرات النخيل والأعناب تتخذون منه سكرا...(النحل:67)
Some early Muslims found it too much that Allah would say something good about wine. So according to those early Muslims, claimed that the authentic Arabic word (sakara) can not mean wine but it means vinegar in Ethiopian. This invented meaning is attributed to Ibn 'Abbas. The word (sakara) is a normal Arabic word that means wine, even Ibn Kathir understood it to be so. Most English translators translated it as "intoxicant" except Yusuf 'Ali he translated it as "wholesome drink". He obviously still suffering the hang up of the early Muslims.
And while we are on the topic of wine, early Muslims had another difficulty with another verse:
The word in dispute is (khmr).
The problem is obvious, people do not press wine they press grapes to get wine.
Arberry and Dawood took the liberty to change the word from wine (khamr) to grapes ('enab). Yusuf 'Ali and Zafrulla Khan however stuck with the Arabic text and so did Pickthall. But how did the early Muslims get out of the illogic of that verse? The word khamr means grapes in the languge of the people of 'Uman.
وأخرج عن اضحاك فى قوله تعالى أعصر خمراً قال عنباً بلغة أهل عمان يسمون العنب خمراً. (أتقان فى علوم القرآن، الجزء الأول، النوع السابع والثلاثون)
Obviously Yusuf 'Ali and Zafrulla Khan did not swallow the invention of the early Muslims about the true meaning of the word khamr, otherwise they would have translated it grapes instead of wine.
Here we can see a good normal Arabic word has been distorted and misplaced to mean something else and belong to a language that is different from that of Hijjaz. Those early Muslims forgot the same word Khmr is used again five verses later in the same Sura, and it means wine not grapes, and Arberry and Dawood had to change the meaning of the word from grapes to wine which is the proper meaning of the word five verse later!
Another word which has been invented is found in Q. 55:54:
متكئين على فرش بطائنها من إستبرق (الرحمن: 54)
Some early Muslims must have had some difficulty with the above verse. People usually do not line couches with silk brocade, they cover them with silk brocade.
So they invented a Coptic word. The good Arabic word (bata'noha) which is translated rightly as lined has become a Coptic word which means "that which appears on the outside". So according to this Coptic word the meaning of the verse should be: "reclining upon couches covered (not lined) with silk brocade". Ibn Kathir understood the word to mean that which is hidden or that which is on the inside.
Another word found in Q. 2:49
The word balaa' which is translated as (tremendous trial) according to Suyuti means favour or grace (ne'mah).
But why did Suyuti do that? The context of the verse and the passage demands it. Have a look at verse 47 (two verses before the one we are dealing with):
Indeed if the words "tremendous trial" were replaced by the word "favour or grace" the passage will read
That makes sense.
Suyuti's intention was good. He wanted the Qur'an to make sense. Unfortunately none of the translators agreed with him.
Thus the proper Arabic word (balaa') which is derived from (balwa) meaning disaster or calamity according to Suyuti has come to mean grace or favour!
The early scholars simply fabricated another meaning for the word balaa'.
Another word that has been radically transformed is found in Q. 90:4
But according to Suyuti the word translated "toil and struggle" means "straightness and uprightness".
قال أخبرنى عن قوله تعالى لقد خلقنا الانسان فى كبد قال في اعتدال واستقامة ، قال وهل تعرف العرب ذلك قال نعم أما سمعت لبيد بن ربيعة وهو يقول: يا عين هلا بكيت اربداذ قمنا وقام الخصوم فى كبد
It is interesting that even Yusuf Ali who usually sides with early Muslim scholars when faced with a difficult word to translate, this time he did not swallow Suyuti's meaning, nor this pre-Islamic verse. So they invented a word and a verse of poetry to support it!!
But why did Suyuti do that?
Because the creation of man in "toil and struggle" contradicts another Qur'anic verse which says:
In Q. 21:17 "If We had wished to find a pastime (lahwa), We would have found it in our presence - if We ever did." the word (lahwa) is translated by Yusuf Ali and Pickthall as "pastime", and by Arberry as "diversion". These two words is an acurate translation of the word "lahwa". But in Itqan the meaning of the word is given as "woman", claiming that (lahwa) means "woman" in the langauge of Yemen.
What made the early scholars come to this invention?
The verse does not make sense if the word "lahwa" is translated as pastime. What is the meaning of a pastime found in Allah's presense?
Ibn Kathir reported, Ibrahim an-Nakha'i saying that "lahwa" means one of the specially created women "hur" and al-Hasan and Qatada said "lahwa" means a woman in the Yemeny languge. But 'akramah and as-Sady said "lahwa" means a son. Ibn Kathir added that this is like Q. 39:4, "If Allah had willed to choose a son, He could have chosen what He would of that which he hath created. (Pickthall)
And Razi agreed with the above and stated that "lahwa" means a son in the Yemeny language.
It is a fact that the early scholars have invented another meaning of the word "lahwa" and claimed that it is a Yemeny word.
In Q. 2:260 we read
The word that has been translated "tame them to turn to thee" is (sorhon). But according to early Muslim scholars the word (sorhon) meant to cut into pieces in the Roman languge. Why did the early scholars invent this meaning? Because if (sorhon) meant to cut into pieces the above verse will read: "Take four birds; cut them into pieces; put a portion of them on every hill and call to them; they will come to thee (flying) with speed..." That makes more sense. The word (sorhon) could have been taken from the word (sor) meaning to gather or to bundle. But in order to make the passage understood the word had to wear a Roman hat.
أفلم ييأس الذين آمنوا أن لو يشاء الله لهدى الناس جميعاً.
The word (yay'as) is translated by Yusuf Ali, Arberry and Pickthall as "know". This word is a proper Arabic word meaning despair. The word is used 13 times in the Qur'an. If we exclude the above reference, in the remaining 12 times it means despair. The commentators could not even produce one Hadith in which the word is used as know. The reason the commentators and the translators see that the word "yay'as" means "to know" is because the Qur'anic verse does not make sense if the word is to be understood as despair.
This word is grouped in Itqan under two headings. One of the heading is "The Strange things in the Qur'an", the second heading is "Other than Hijjazi words in the Qur'an".
So the word yay'as according to 'abi Saleh was thought to be a Hawzen and according to al-Faraa' it was thought to be in the language of Nakh'.
In other words the word yay'as is not a Hijjazi word, the languge of the Qur'an, which we now call the Arabic language. And to support their view they have invented a verse of pre-Islamic poetry using that word. They even invented an occasion where Ibn 'Abbas was asked whether the Arabs knew the word (yay'as) or not and he reportedly quoted that it is a word in the language of bani Malik and recited the verse.
قال أخبرنى عن قوله تعالى أفلم ييأس الذين آمنوا قال أفلم يعلم بلغة بنى مالك قال وهل تعرف العرب ذلك قال نعم اما سمعت مالك بن عوف يقول لقد يأس الأقوام انى أنا أبنه وإن كنت عن أرض العشيرة نائيا (اتقان: النوع السادس والثلاثون ، فى معرفة غريبه)
We are told however that Ibn 'Abbas is innocent of this nonsense because it is reported that he read that Qur'anic verse in a different way using the proper Arabic word (yatabayan meaning to realise) instead of (yay'as) and when it was pointed out to him that it is written in the Mushaf (yay'as) and not (yatabayan) he replied: "I think the scribe wrote it while he was being drowsy".
وقرأ أيضاً : أفلم يتبين الذين آمنوا أن لو يشاء الله لهدى الناس جميعاً. فقيل له إنها في المصحف : (أفلم ييأس) . فقال : أظن الكاتب قد كتبها وهو ناعس. (الفرقان : ابن الخطيب ، ص 43)
Do we need any further proof that the so called pre-Islamic poetry used to solve the Qur'anic problems is a fabricated one?
And the tragedy is that people like Arberry in his English translations translated yay'as as realize. We are sure he knows better. However, the authorities must have told him what to write.
And we challenge any one to produce the word yay'as as meaning to know in any piece of literature in the past, present or even the future! Except the Qur'an and that one verse of forged poetry.
Another invented word is found in Q. 19:24
فناداها من تحتها ألا تحزنى
The word (tahtah) that is translated below her by the English translators and so was understood by commentators like Ibn Kathir and Razi did not mean below to some early Muslims. Probably for some exegetical reasons the proper Arabic word (taht) meaning below has become "abdomen" in the Nabati language.
Another word is found in Q. 2:102
... And they knew that the buyers of (magic) would have no share in the happiness of the hereafter. And vile was the price for which they did sell their souls... (Yusuf 'Ali)
ولقد علموا لمن اشتراه ماله في الآخرة من خلاق ولبئس ما شروا به أنفسهم...(البقرة:102)
The word in dispute appears twice in the above verse first as "eshtara" then as "sharou". It is derived from the root "shara" meaning to buy.
When Arberry and Yusuf 'Ali translated the first form of the word they correctly translated it as buy, but when they came to the second word they translated it as sell. As a matter of fact all other translations we looked up, translated the second word as sell. But the Arabic word used in the above verse means "bought". The translators felt compelled to translate it as sell because of the context. The Qur'an could have used another word "ba'ou" meaning sold.
The early Muslims to get out of the problem said that the word "sharou" means "ba'ou" in the languge of Hazil.
And to prove that the word "sharou, bought" means "ba'ou, sold" they invented a verse of poetry:
The word "sharou" is a good faithfull Arabic word, but the early Muslims disowned it and "bought" it cheap to the tribe of Hazil in order to "buy" the integrity of the Qur'an.
And if you do not get my point imagine the following sentence:
Now what will people say about my English if I claim that the word "bought" (which is a very well known English word) means "sell" in French. Would that be the ultimate in eloquence? Or the ultimate in confusion?
And if the Hazilly word "buy" means sell in Arabic, what is the Hazilly word for sell?
Incidentally this is not the only verse where this confusion occur. For example in Q. 4:74:
Her the word "sharoun" was translated as sell by Yusuf 'Ali, and so did Arberry.
Now compare it with Q. 2:86:
The word "eshtarou" has been translated buy in Yusuf 'Ali's translation, purchased by Arberry.
The grammatical settings are the same in those two verses as is clear from the English translation but in one the same word was translated sell and in the other it was translated buy. The English translators made the correction that should have been there in the Arabic Qur'an in the first place.
Did not the author of the Qur'an know that the word ba'a exist? Yes. The Qur'an uses the word "ba'a". The early Muslims knew it too.
If the word "shara" meant buying and selling at the same time, why did the early Muslims invent the existence of the Hazil word? Even if we accept that it is very proper to use the word "shara" to mean both buy and sell, the early Muslims will be still guilty of the charge of inventing words to get out of problems in the Qur'an. And that is our main charge.
Suyuti in Itqan mentioned another word: "wara'" Q. 18:79. This is a proper Arabic word meaning behind. But according to Shaydalah and Abul-Qasim this word is Nabati word and it means "in front".
And in al-Burhan fi 'Ulum al-Qur'an by Zarkashi the same word wara' has become (in front of) in the Coptic languge.
In spite of Itqan and al-Burhan the translators have translated it correctly as meaning behind in Q. 18:79 "for there was a king behind them...".
So the proper Arabic word wara' meaning behind has come to mean in front of in the Nabati languge according to Itqan and in the Coptic language according to al-Burhan.
They could get away with it in the early days of Islam. Who was going to check their claims?
And Suyuti in his Itqan goes even further and tell us that according to Abi Malik the word wara' wherever it was mentioned in the Qur'an means behind except in two places.
It is a fact, however, that Suyuti wanted his readers to believe that (wara') means ('amam) in front.
In other words Suyti wanted us to believe that the Arabic word wara' meaning behind is the is realy the Nabati word for ('amam) in front.
Another word is mentioned in 21:105 "We have written in the psalms after the reminder (az-Zikr)"
But according to some early Muslims the word "after" really means "before".
قال ابن خالوية ليس فى القرآن بعد بمعنى قبل الا حرف واحد ولقد كتبنا فى الزبور من بعد الذكر قال مفلطاى فى كتاب الميسر قد وجدنا حرفاً آخر وهو قوله تعالى ةالأرض بعد ذلك دحاها (قال) أبو موسى فى كتاب المغيث معناه هنا قبل الأنه تعالى خلق الأرض فى يومين ثم اسنوى الى السماء فعلى هذا خلق الأرض قبل خلق السماء. (اتقان :النوع التاسع والثلاثون : فى معرفة الوجوه والنظائر)
There is a theological reason for this 180 degree turn. If after means after in the above verse, then this means that the reminder (az-Ziker) refers to that which was before the psalms and that is the Torah. So according to the Qur'an the Torah historically speaking is az-ziker and the original Zikr at that. But Muslims believe that az-Zikr is the Qur'an. Hence the word after in that verse must mean before to match the theological position of Muslims.
Another good Arabic word that has undergone some magical metamorphosis is found in Q. 38:7.
The word is "al-Aakhera". The word literally means "the last" but Suyuti says that this word (which is also a good authentic Arabic word) means the first in the Coptic language. According to Itqan the Coptic first is the Arabic last and vise versa.
Throughout this discussion please remember that the early Muslims knew the Arabic language much better than any subsequent or living contemporary scholars. They did not try any clever tricks to get out of the difficulties they encountered in the Qur'an. The only way out for them was to claim the context could be harmonised by the invention of foreign words.
We have seen what some Muslims did to good Arabic words we now turn to see what they did to the Arabic grammar.
1. Itqan fi 'Uloum al-Qur'an, Suyuti, Vol 1, chapter 38.
2. Itqan fi 'Uloum al-Qur'an, Suyuti, Vol 1, chapter 37.
3. Itqan fi 'Uloum al-Qur'an, Suyuti, Vol 1, chapter 37.
4. Itqan fi 'Uloum al-Qur'an, Suyuti, Vol 1, chapter 36.
5. Itqan fi 'Uloum al-Qur'an, Suyuti, Vol 1, chapter 36.
6. Itqan fi 'Uloum al-Qur'an, Suyuti, Vol 1, chapter 37.
7. Itqan fi 'Uloum al-Qur'an, Suyuti, Vol 1, chapter 38.
8. Itqan fi 'Uloum al-Qur'an, Suyuti, Vol 1, chapter 37.
9. Al-Furqan, Ibn a-Khatib, Dar al-Kotob al-'Elmeyah, Lebanon, p. 43.
10. Itqan fi 'Uloum al-Qur'an, Suyuti, Vol 1, chapter 37.
11. Itqan fi 'Uloum al-Qur'an, Suyuti, Vol 1, chapter 37.
12. Al-Burhan Fi 'Ulum al-Qur'an, Zarkashi, Dar al-Ma'refa, Lebanon, Vol. 1, p. 385.
13. Itqan fi 'Uloum al-Qur'an, Suyuti, Vol 1, chapter 39.
14. Itqan fi 'Uloum al-Qur'an, Suyuti, Vol 1, chapter 39.
15. Itqan fi 'Uloum al-Qur'an, Suyuti, Vol 1, Section 38.
We have seen how did the Muslim scholars invent pre-Islamic poetry, Hadith, and even imaginary words claiming them to be from foreign languages. We now turn to the last invention that won them the gold medal: Early Muslims as they wrestled with the various errors in the Qur'an, have advanced different reasons as to why they should not be errors. The early attempts to explain away the grammatical errors in the Qur'an relied on the performance of acrobatic feats in the field of grammar. The fact that these attempts differed indicate that some scholars were not content with others answers, which is an indication of idterab (perplexion). Dissatisfied with the different attempts that relied on the manipulation of grammatical rules some scholars have invented a sweeping new rule to fix most errors They called it iltifat.
It will be a waste of time to deal with every point raised in responce to our article on the topic of grammatical errors. However we will concentrate on errors found in Q. 2:177, 4:162, 5:69, just to prove the point.
Here is a Muslim's summary of what iltifat is:
To begin with: Iltifat means to 'turn/turn one's face to'. It is an important part of balagah (Arabic rhetoric) where there is a sudden shift in the pronoun of the speaker or the person spoken about. Muslim literary critics over the centuries have greatly admired this technique. Iltifat has been called by rhetoricians shaja'at al-arabiyya as it shows, in their opinion, the daring nature of the Arabic language. If any 'daring' is to be attached to it, it should above all be the daring of the language of the Qur'an since it employs this feature far more extensively and in more variations than does Arabic poetry. Most of the authors who talk about iltifat use the examples from the Qur'an. No one seems to quote references in prose other than from the Qur'an: and indeed a sampling of hadith material found not a single instance.
The types of iltifatNewton and related features are of following types:
According to M A S Abdel Haleem error no. 1 falls in the category of iltifat.
Here is his comments on error no. 1:
LAFTA ON ILTIFAT
Allah knew that every pious Muslim reader of the Qur'an will arrive at Q. 5:69 or 4:162 for example, and find himself suffering from boredom and frustration and for this purpose Allah decided to place a point of iltifat to refresh the mind of all Muslim readers across the centuries!
And we ask: is this iltifat found in the mother of the book that is in heaven as well?
Here are some comments made by Arabic scholars on the nature of iltifat:
And "...it is using one [mode] in a place where another ought to have been used"
Others saw it as khuruj al-kalam 'ala muqtada 'l-zaher (departure from what is normally expected).
This iltifat is also called shajat al-arabiyya (the daring of the Arabic language). A daring person, ... undertakes what others do not dare and such is iltifat in speech.
According to the above, Iltifat then is first a departure from the norms of Arabic grammar. If this iltifat was a RULE of Arabic grammar its usage would not have been considered a departure.
Second in iltifat the mode or inflection "ought not to have been used" the way it was used. Again if this iltifat was a RULE of Arabic grammar its usage would not have been labelled "ought not".
Third if iltifat was a RULE of Arabic grammar its usage would not have been called a "dare" that is a dangerous act.
Iltifat then in brief is a daring departure that ought not to have taken place. These are not the descriptions of a rule or even an exception but these definitions of iltifat by themselves are a very clear comment on the various responses to the first error. If the responses listed in the beginning of the article were in accordance with the rules of Arabic grammar, there would have been no need for iltifat at all.
Now let us listen to the author of the article on iltifat to see how he "apologises" for the cases involving a change of case marker eg. first error:
Mr Abdel Haleem's belief that the explanation of the shift on the ground of iltifat could be stronger than other explanations says something about these other explanations. For if the other explanations were strong and valid there would be no need for any other explanations on any other grounds. Mr Abdel Haleem has no hesitation in stating the shift in Q. 2:177 (see the fifth error in our article) just as we did in our article:
No grammatical gymnastics in the above, but a straight application of the Arabic rules of grammar. And in spite of seeing it as a departure from what is normally expected Mr Abdel Haleem does not call it an error but a shift.
So what is the special purpose for which this shift took place?
According to Mr Abel Haleem it is "to emphasize the importance of al-sabirin." And "the fact that al-sabirin is mentioned four times in the same sura [sura 2]."
The word sabrinin (people who endure and are patient) is mentioned three timess in sura 3, but the word endurance or its derivatives is mentioned eight times in sura 3. The same derivatives of the word is mentioned also eight times in sura 2. Why then did the word sabr (root of sabirin) or its derivatives miss out from experiencing the shift in sura 3?
What is the divine wisdom in choosing the word in 2:177 out of those four verses (2:153, 155, 177, 249) in sura 2 to emphasize the importance of al-sabirin?
We would like to ask the Arabic readers to write those four verses together and look to see if a person is likely to make a grammatical error involving the word al-sabirin in those verses. Which verse is it likely to be?
The Arabic reader will find that it is mighty difficult to make an error in the other three verses (2:152, 155, 249). In other words this is not a divine wisdom but a human frailty.
The second verse that involves a change in case marker is found in Q. 4:162 (see the second error in our article).
Here again Mr Abdel Haleem has no hesitation in stating the departure in Q. 4:162 just as we did in our article. Here is what he said:
The word prayer is also mentioned in nine times in sura 2 and its derivatives are mentioned three times in sura 2 while its derivatives were mentioned only twice in sura 4. So prayer is mentioned 12 times in sura 2 while it was mentioned 11 times in sura 4. Yet there was no shift of case marker in those verses. In addition to that prayer is mentioned in the very opening verse of sura 2, in verse 3 after mentioning the Book. The theory of iltifat is a haphazard one.
What is the divine wisdom in choosing the word in 4:162 out of those verses (4:101, 102, 103, 143, 162) to emphasize the importance of prayer.
We would like to ask the Arabic readers to write those five verses together and look to see if a person is likely to make a grammatical error involving the word muqimin in those verses. Which verse is it likely to be?
The Arabic reader will find that it is mighty difficult to make an error in the other four verses. In other words this is not a divine wisdom either but a human frailty.
The third case of change in case marker involves verse Q. 5:69 (See the first error in our article).
Here again Mr Abdel Haleem has no hesitation in stating the departure in Q. 5:69 just as we did in our article. Here is what he said:
And the reason for the shift, according to Mr Abdel Haleem:
Statistics does not help Mr Abdel Haleem here. Indeed statistics demolish his theory. In sura 5 from verse 15 to 83 the Qur'an is talking about the people of the Book. In other word the Qur'an dedicated 68 verses in addressing the Jews and the Christians. The sabi'in is mentioned once in passing in the whole of sura 5. The Qur'an is contending with the people of the Book not with the sabi'in.
Mr Abdel Haleem and the scholars he quoted are claiming that the "sabibin of all the categories listed [are] the most clearly astray" This claim is contrary to the Qur'an and history. The sabi'in were simply followers of John the Baptist. Unlike the Jews and the Christians they never claimed that their prophet is the son of God. Their straying is not even mentioned in the Qur'an. It is that some of people of the Book that the Qur'an enumerates their sins, hypocrisy, and shirk. The reader can check this section of the Qur'an for himself.
Mr Abdel Haleem has missed his vocation. Through iltifat he first sold his readers the idea of the importance of endurance, next he sold them the idea of the importance of prayer, then he sold his readers the importance of faith. All this was done by "highlighting" through shift and departure from the rules of grammar. What else is important? He forgot fasting, he forgot Zakat, and he forgot Jihad. Are not all these equally important? God does need to wink as He speaks in order to highlight some of His words. If people believe this iltifat and continue to turn their faces here and there Mr Abdel Haleem could well be able to sell them the statue of liberty.
They make people turn their faces and they think that God does wink (hasha lellah) so that they might steal people's religion.
But the most telling proof that iltifat is an invention comes from Mr Abdel Haleems article itself:
Why is this so? Does not the hadith represent a huge cross section of the Arabic language touching almost every possible topic of life? Statistically speaking the Hadith represents a larger cross section of the Arabic language than the Qur'an. This is a fact that cannot be disputed. Why then in this large cross section there is not a single incident of iltifat as Mr Abdel Haleem reported?
Here is the plain truth and the reason why there is not one incident of iltifat to be found in Hadith Qudsi or otherwise:
And Gaber said: "I asked 'Amar and 'Aba Ja'far and 'Ata' concerning the man who makes grammatical errors while quoting the Hadith, should I quote him as I heard him or should I correct the grammatical errors of the Hadith?" He said: "Correct it..." And al-Nadr bn Shamiel said: "Hoshaym used to quote the Hadith with grammatical errors but I have clothed his reporting with good clothing, meaning correcting his grammatical errors. And 'Ali bn al-Hasan said: I said to Ibn al-Mobarak: Sometimes the Hadith contains grammatical errors, should I correct it? He said: Yes. Those [early] people did not make grammatical errors. Those errors are from us.
Imam Ibn Faares speaking on the topic said: Some people are of the opinion that if a person makes grammatical errors while quoting the Hadith, the one who hears him must quote him exactly as he heard him, but others said: The hearer must correct the grammatical errors if he knows the rules of the Arabic language. The proof of this advice is that the prophet of Allah was the most eloquent of all the Arabs and Allah the most high have purified him [from making such errors] as such his words must be quoted free from all grammatical errors."
Dr Sobhy as-Saleh also gives an example of such correction: ... the people of verification have called for the need to correct the grammatical errors in the Hadith ... for al-Hasan bn al-Halawani said: Correct whatever grammatical errors you might find in my book, because Ibn 'Affan did not make grammatical errors [when quoting the Hadith]. And 'Affan said: Correct whatever grammatical errors you might find in my book, because Hammad did not make grammatical errors [when quoting the Hadith]. And Hammad said: Correct whatever grammatical errors you might find in my book, because Qatada did not make grammatical errors [when quoting the Hadith]."
And it goes without saying that ultimately all Hadith must be corrected because its source the prophet of Islam Hammad did not make grammatical errors.
So originally the Hadith contained grammatical errors, which is to be expected. If there were shift in the Qur'an there had to be shift in the hadith. But with time all evidence of it was removed.
The Muslim scholars did not see these errors as iltifat or shaja'a (daring) or badi' (refinement); no, they saw it as it is: ERRORS and they corrected them.
They called it iltifat the height of balagha, they called it shaja'a, they called it badi but the king is naked, he has no clothes.
حدث الوليد بن مسلم قال : سمعت الأوزاعى يقول : لا بأس بإصلاح اللحن والخطأ فى الحديث. وقال سمعت الأوزاعى يقول : اعربوا الحديث فإن القوم كانوا عرباً.
وعن جابر قال : سألت عامراً وأبا جعفر وعطاء عن الرجل يحدث بالحديث فيلحن، أأحدث به كما سمعت أم أعربه ؟ قالوا : لا ، بل أعربه...وقال النضر بن شميل: كان هُشيم لحاناً فكسوت لكم حديثه كسوة حسنة - يعنى بالإعراب وحدث على بن الحسن قال : قلت لابن المبارك : يكون فى الحديث لحن ، أقومه؟ قال : نعم : لأن القوم لم يكونوا يلحنون ، اللحن منا.
وقد تعرض الإمام بن فارس لهذا الأمر فقال : "ذهب أناس إلى أن المحدث إذا روى فلحن ، لم يجز للسامع أن يحدث عنه إلا لحناً كما سمعه ، وقال آخرون : بل على السامع أن يرويه إذا كان عالماً بالعربية معرباً صحيحاً مقوماً بدليل نقوله - وهو أنه معلوم أن رسول الله (صلعم) كان أفصح العرب وأعربها ، وقد نزهه الله عز وجل - وإذا كان كذا فالوجه أن يروى كلامه مهذباً من كل لحن.(أضواء على السنة المحمدية ، محمود أبو رية ، ص 81-82)
هؤلاء القوم كانوا عرباً لكنهم أولاً وجدوا فى الحديث لحنا حتى قومته اناس بعدهم.
ولينظر القارئ العربى إلى تفسير ابن كثير طبعة كتاب الشعب ، فإنه سيجد أن آخر صفحة من معظم الأجزاء هى صفحة التصويبات. فبعد طبعات عديدة و سنين كثيرة من تصحيح تفسير ابن كثير ما زالت هناك أخطاء.
أن كل ناشر يعرف أنه من المستحيل تقريباً أن ينشر كتاب بدون أخطاء هجائية.
...فان النبى صلعم لم يكن يلحن ، فمن روى عنه شيئاً ولحن فيه كذب عليه ، وتبوأ مقعده من النار.
وإن طائفة غير يسيرة من الأحاديث التى فيها ما يشبه اللحن لتفسر - فى نظرنا أحياناً كثيرة - بتحرج الرواة واحتياطهم فى التحمل والأداء فكان بعضهم - لشدة أمانتهم - يلحن كما يلحن الراوى ما دام اللفظ الذى يرويه لا يحيل المعنى ولا يفسده ، ومن ها هنا نادى أهل التحقيق بوجوب رد الحديث إلى الصواب ، إذا كان راويه قد خالف موجب الإعراب فمن ذلك أن الحسن بن على الحلوانى قال :"ما وجدتم في كتابى عن عفان لحناً فأعربوه فإن عفان كان لا يلحن" وقال عفان : "ما وجدتم في كتابى عن حماد بن سلمة لحناً فأعربوه فإن حماد بن سلمة كان لا يلحن" وقال حماد: " ما وجدتم في كتابى عن قتادة لحناً فأعربوه فإن قتادة كان لا يلحن" (علوم الحديث ومصطلحه ، الدكتور صبحى الصالح ، دار العلم للملايين ، ص 330-331)
1. Responses To The Grammatical Errors In The Qur'an by M S M Saifullah. Internet document http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Olympus/5603/contrad.html, July 5, 1998.
2. The Bulletin of School of Oriental and African Studies, Volume LV, Part 3, 1992, Grammatical Shift For The Rhetorical Purposes: Iltifat And Related Features In The Qur'an, p. 410.
3. ibid., p. 410.
4. ibid., p. 410.
5. ibid., p. 411.
6. ibid., p. 410.
7. ibid., p. 423.
8. ibid., p. 423.
9. ibid., p. 423.
10. ibid., p. 423.
11. ibid., p. 425.
12. ibid., p. 426.
13. ibid., p. 427.
14. ibid., p. 408.
15. 'Adwaa' 'al 'as-Sunnah al-Mohammadiah, Mahmood abu Rayiah, Dar al-Ma'aref, fifth edition, pp. 81-82.
16. 'Ulum al-Hadith, Dr Sobhy as-Saleh, Dar el-'Elm lel-Malayeen, Lebanon, pp. 330-331.
Muslims have shut themselves into their own version of the dark ages where dogmas contrary to the facts of life are being clung to no matter what.
Early Muslims believed that "a grain of wheat in the golden ages used to be the size of a large apple. Then God became angry with men and the grain of wheat began to shrink to its present size. And they claimed that the man used to be of such length and size and strength that he could put his hand in the sea, catch the fish, then raise his hand in the air and cook the fish in the heat of the sun, then lower his hand to his mouth and eat his meal. They also claimed that the people of the olden days were of such size that some of their kings and prophets could place their thigh across the Euphrates river as a bridge so that others might cross over. Suyuti mentioned in his book ...that some commentators said that a pomegranate could hold five or four men inside it and Qortoby mentioned that a grain of wheat used to be the size of a cow."
زعموا أن القمحة كانت فى العصور الذهبية تعدل التفاحة العظيمة حجماً، ثم غضب الله على الناس فأخذت القمحة تتضاءل حتى وصلت إلى حيث هي الآن. وزعموا أن الرجل من الأجيال القديمة كان من الطول والضخامة والقوة بحيث كان يغمس يده في البحر فيأخذ منه السمك ثم يرفع يده في الجو فيشويه في جذوة الشمس، ثم يهبط بيده إلى فمه فيزدرد شواءه ازدراداً. وزعموا أن أهل الأجيال القديمة كانوا من الضخامة والجسامة بحيث استطاع بعض الملوك والأنبياء أن يتخذ فخذ أحدهم جسراً يعبر عليه الفرات. ,روي السيوطى في كتابه الأوج في خبر العوج أن بعض المفسرين قال إن الرمانة تسع في جوفها خمسة أو أربعة رجال وروي القرطبى في تفسيره أن حبة القمح كانت ككلى البقر. (في الأدب الجاهلي، طه حسين، ص 178-179)
Those were early Muslims. And one can find similar statements in early Christian books. But how about this:
Dr Abu seri', professor of comparative Islamic jurisprudence, in his book Ahkam al-At'emah wa az-zaba'eh, published 1986, discusses what kind of meat is lawful for Muslims to eat and what is not. One of the problems he explores is what happens when two different animals mate together, will their meat be lawful or not? For example, he explores what happens if a donkey gives birth to a sheep!! Will the sheep's meat be lawful? Or if a sheep gives birth to a pig. Will the pig's meat be lawful?
... كشاة ولدت خنزيراً...(أحكام الأطعمة والذبائح في الفقه الإسلامى، دكتور أبو سريع محمد عبد الهادى، دار الجيل بيروت، مكتبة التراث الإسلامي القاهرة، 1986، ص 28) أو ...كشاة من أتان...( أحكام الأطعمة ص 29)
He then went on to introduce the different animals:
الضبع ...من عجيب أمره أنه يحيض. ويكون سنة ذكراً. وسنة أنثى. فيلقح في حالة الذكورة ويلد في حالة الأنوثة...(أحكام الأطعمة ص 35)
الضب هو دويبة صغيرة تشبه الفأر الكبير...الذكر يقال له ضب وله ذكران والأنثى يقال لها ضبة ولها فرجان. (أحكام الأطعمة ص 45)
الذئب...ينام بإحدى عينيه حتى تكتفى من النوم. ثم يفتحها. وينام بالأخرى ليحرس باليقظانة ويستريح بالنائمة. (أحكام الأطعمة ص 56)
الفيل: حيوان ضخم الجثة يعمر كثيراً. وهو صاحب حقد وعداوة و غيظ ويخاف من الهرة خوفاً شديداً. ولسانه مقلوب ولولا ذلك لتكلم...(أحكام الأطعمة ص41-42)
It will be a waste of time, paper, ink and electrons trying to convince those devout Muslims that the above is laughable stuff.
And if we can assume Dr Abu Seri' does not deserve his doctorate, how about the two publishing houses that accepted his manuscript as a book worthy of publishing and how about al-Azhar university where he lectures this material to his students?
Early devout Muslims had no fear in fabricating thousands of words and claiming they were uttered by their prophet. But all was done with good intention. They even fabricated words ascribing them to the first prophet, Adam, in pure Arabic poetry.
Dogmas, religious or otherwise that are contrary to the facts of life still have a powerful hold on many Muslims.
We have seen that wine means vinegar and it also means grapes. Below means abdomen. To despair means to know and inside means outside. To buy is to sell. Behind means in front, before is after, last is first and first is last.
All the above is possible if one is to keep on "turning", for the whole exercise of inventions is a continuos "iltifat".
All that was done to preserve the integrity and superiority of the Qur'an. To the Arabs all is soap, but to those Muslims black is white, and white is black, now is never, x is y, minus is plus, No wonder the elephant's tongue is upside down not to mention the wolf and the hyena and the lizard etc. And those who are established in "knowledge" say "we believe".
Moses parted the Red Sea, but the Muslim scholars managed to turn the sea into Tahini.
16. Fil-Adab al-Jaheli, Taha Hussein, Dar al-Ma'aref,
16th edition, pp. 178-179.
17. Ahkam al-At'emah waz-Zaba'eh fi al-Fiqh al-Islami, Dr. Abu Seri' 'Abd el-Hadi, Dar el-Jeel, Beirut, p. 280.
18. ibid., p. 290.
19. ibid., p. 350.
20. ibid., p. 45.
21. ibid., p. 56.
22. ibid., pp. 41-42.
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