from the Book of Esther 1 we learn that Haman was the favourite of Ahasuerus
(that is to say, Xerxes, as the Greeks called him), who lived in Persia many hundreds of
years later, instead of in Egypt in Pharaoh's time. Again, according to the Qur'an,
Pharaoh told Haman to build a tower of brick, the top of which would reach unto heaven (Surah
xxviii. 38; xl. 38, 39). But from Gen. xi. 1-9, we learn that it was in Babylon, many
generations before Pharaoh's time, that the people built this famous tower.
We are told that the Golden Calf worshipped by Israel in the wilderness in Moses' time
was made by "the Samaritan"(
السّامريّSurah xx. 87, 96). But the city of Samaria was
not built till hundreds of years after Moses' death (I Kings xvi. 24). Evidently in the
mind of the composer of this Surah there was confusion between the golden calf made by the
Israelites in the wilderness and the two golden calves afterwards worshipped in the
kingdom of Israel after the time of David and Solomon (I Kings xii. 28). But even these
two calves were not made by a Samaritan, since Samaria was not yet built. When it was
built, however, it became the capital of that kingdom, and this fact partly accounts for
the very great and notable historical error to which we refer.
In Surah ii. 250 we are told of a certain incident in connexion with selecting a body
of warriors by observing in what manner they drank water. The Qur'an says that this took
place in the time of Saul
(طالوت) and in connexion with David's victory over Goliath. But the
Bible tells us that it took place long before, in the time of Gideon.
In Surah xviii. 8-26 is found the story of the Companions of the Cave. But the author
of the Masadiru'l Islam [Yanabiu'l Islam: "Original Sources of the
Qur'an"] has proved how this fable originated. No doubt in the "Days of
Ignorance" some very credulous and ignorant Christians believed it, and from them the
Meccans and the composer of this Surah learnt the
tale. For the story is contained in the writings of several Syriac authors, along with
many other monkish legends. In Europe it is known as a tale to amuse children. There are
many different forms of the fable, but its origin has been discovered in the legend which
a heathen Greek writer, Diogenes Laertius, about A. D. 200, relates 1 about
Epimenides' long sleep. Epimenides was a heathen Greek boy who for many years slept in a
cave. Diogenes Laertius quotes contradictory accounts of the length of this boy's life
given by different Greek writers.
It is surely unnecessary to quote any more of what learned men have called the
anachronisms and historical inaccuracies of the Qur'an. From what has been already said,
however, it will be clear to the honoured reader that it is not wise to appeal to the
valuable information contained in the Qur'an regarding ancient times and vanished nations
as a proof of its inspiration and of Muhammad's office of a prophet.
Another proof of the inspiration of the Qur'an is said to be its wonderful freedom from
self-contradiction. Some Muslims say that in so large a book there must have occurred many
contradictory statements, if it were not of Divine origin. But men of learning have
pointed out many contradictions in the Qur'an. Some of these are only slight, others are
of great importance. As an example of slight contradictions it will be sufficient to ask
our honoured readers to compare Surah lvi. 13, 14, with verses 38 and 39 of the same Surah.
Al Baizawi's attempted explanation and the tradition mentioned by Zamakhshari here are not
quite satisfactory. But this is a trifling matter. We proceed to point out a few of real
In Surah iv. 51 and 116 we are told that the one sin which God will never pardon is Shirk
(الشّرك) or the association of partners with God. Yet in Surah vi. 76, 77, 78, we are informed
that Abraham, the Friend of