The Books Of Islam
The Qur'an is "The Book" of the Muslim believers. It is considered to have been existent in the highest (7th) heaven, but was for some time brought down to the third heaven, from where the Angel Gabriel took it piece by piece to reveal it to Muhammad, the "illiterate" prophet (see p. 12), who recited it and shared it with the people around him. Many of his companions could quote large passages, some even the whole Qur'an, by heart. There is and has been a heated theological debate on whether the heavenly copy of the Qur'an has been created, or was eternally existent and so uncreated.
THE MEANING OF THE WORD "QUR'AN"
The word "Qur'an" is derived from the word "kara'a", meaning to 'recite' or 'read'. The whole Qur'an is considered by every Muslim as being "nazil" (i.e. sent down).
CHAPTER DIVISION OF THE QUR'AN
The Qur'an was divided into 114 Surahs (chapters), which were given over a period of twenty three years. Unfortunately, the Surahs show no chronological order. Apart from Surah 1, they are roughly ordered according to length, the second Surah being the longest. Scholars have, however, with somewhat varying results, tried to identify them in the order they were given. This can only be a coarse attempt, since some of the longest Surahs have been pieced together, possibly over years.
The verses are called "aya", meaning 'signs'. The numbering of verses is not uniform. We use here the counting used by Yusuf Ali. In addition the Qur'an is subdivided into 30 parts, each of these meant to be read on one day during the fasting month Ramadaan.
SOME IMPORTANT CRITERIA CONCERNING THE QUR'AN
Although we must assume that Muhammad never read the Bible or even parts thereof, we find in the Qur'an many biblical stories. These, however, differ, not only in form but also in content, from the biblical text. Most of the Old Testament stories originate from the Jewish Talmud, which adds fanciful deviations to the sober records of the Bible. Although Muhammad reflects on many of the historical accounts, such as the lives of Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and others, we find these virtually void of the biblical spiritual message.
On numerous occasions the message of the Qur'an is interrupted with promises of bliss for those who obey Allah and his Messenger, and dreadful condemnation to those who do not "fear Allah and obey his Messenger". Much of the Qur'an is taken up with the defence of the prophethood of Muhammad and his polemics with those who rejected him as a prophet. Last, but not least we find interwoven "revelations" that secure his own position and influence and justify his actions. The Qur'an cannot possibly be called an improvement over, or advancement on, what the New Testament has already brought and stated. We must emphatically reject the claim of Muslims, that there is progressive revelation from the Bible to the Qur'an. We should also ask Muslims to tell us clearly in which individual points the Qur'an has improved on the spiritual or moral norms of the New Testament. We further find a number of passages in which the arguments of the 'unbelievers' concerning Muhammad's prophethood are quoted and Allah provides an answer to these, e.g. "He has forged it!" (Surah 10:38) or "It is a man that teaches him" (Surah 16:103).
The Influence of Reciting or Chanting the Qur'an in the Arabic Language
The reader should be aware that the recitation of the Qur'an in the Arabic language exercises an influence on the mind of the Muslims that we fail to grasp. We find that the Muslim gets an emotional elation thereby, although, in most cases, he does not understand the text.
Literary quality was and is an argument for the divine character and the divine origin of the Qur'an. That is why Muhammad repeatedly challenged his contemporaries: "Present some other book of equal beauty" (Surah 2:23 and 17:88). Another reason for the "superiority" of the Qur'an is the order of revelation, for it is seen as the final step in a series of revelations:
The Alleged Superiority of the Qur'an
Muslims will reason that of the 'revealed books' the Qur'an is the best and by that the only reliable 'book'. The Qur'an mentions:
- Taurat and Zabur (Torah and Psalms = Old Testament)
- Injil (the Gospel = New Testament), and last and finally
In Sura 43:3 it is said that the Quran is in the "Mother of Books", referring to the eternal heavenly tablets on which it is preserved. Because of this it is also called glorious. (Sura 85:22).
No Critique of the Qur'an Accepted
Muslims accept criticism of their behaviour, religious practices, traditions, teachers and many other things, but do not tolerate any form of critique of the Qur'an, whether by historians, scientists, orientalists or theologians. The Muslim believes the Qur'an to be the absolute identical copy of the eternal heavenly book, even so far as the punctuation, titles and divisions are concerned.
Chronological List of Surahs as they were Likely to have been Given
The first period in Mecca:
96, 74, 111, 106, 108, 104, 107, 102, 105, 92, 90, 94, 93, 97, 86, 91, 80, 68, 87, 95, 103, 85, 73, 101, 99, 82, 81, 53, 84, 100, 79, 77, 78, 88, 89, 75, 83, 69, 51, 52, 56, 70, 55, 112, 109, 113, 114, 1
The middle period in Mecca:
54, 37, 71, 76, 44, 50, 20, 26, 15, 19, 38, 36, 43, 72, 67, 23, 21, 25, 17 ,27, 18
The latter period in Mecca:
32, 41, 45, 16, 30, 11, 14, 12, 40, 28, 39, 29, 31, 42, 10, 34, 35, 7, 46, 6, 13
Surah of the Medina period:
2, 98, 64, 62, 8, 47, 3, 61, 57, 4, 65, 59, 33, 63, 24, 58, 22, 48, 66, 60, 110, 49, 9, 5
(According to Th. Noeldeke) Others have produced similar lists, though varying somewhat, e.g. Jalalu'd-din Suyati, J.M. Rodwell and Sir W. Muir.
Introduction to the Qur'an in the Mishkat
"The Holy Qur'an is the guide of the Muslims. It is the complete code of their every day life - economic, political, religious, social and moral. It is a revelation from the Almighty with the exact words as are now found embodied therein. The Qur'an lay down: And certainly it is a revelation from the Lord of the worlds in plain Arabic language. The Faithful Spirit has come down with it upon your hearts that you may be one of the warners - Surah 26:192-195. The verses of the Qur'an were uttered by the Holy Prophet to whose heart they were revealed by God through the Archangel Gabriel. The Qur'an is not the Hadith, because the former was revealed to the Prophet with words, while the Hadith was revealed to him in ideas. The Qur'an was revealed not at a time but piecemeal in the course of the Prophet's apostolic career covering over twenty three years, thirteen years at Mecca and ten years at Medina. The first verse (97Q)[should be Surah 96] was revealed in the Cave Hira at Mecca in Lailatul Kadr (Blessed Night) which is one of the last ten nights of Ramzan, and in the pure dialect of the Quraish which is chaste written Arabic. The Qur'an was arranged into chapters by the Prophet himself. It contains 114 chapters, each chapter containing some sections called Ruku and each Ruku containing some verses. There are 30 parts, 114 chapters, 6616 verses, 77943 words and 338606 letters in the Holy Book. 86 chapters were revealed at Mecca, while 28 chapters covering nearly one third of the Book were revealed at Medina. The Meccan chapters are generally short and the Medinan long. For convenience of reading, the Qur'an has been divided in to 30 equal parts with seven manzils for reading the whole Qur'an in at least seven days.
How the Qur'an was Revealed
Before we look at the sources of the Qur'an we will have to seriously consider several options:
- Muhammad was a prophet in the biblical succession. (In that case the Qur'an would not contradict the Bible!)
- Muhammad had hallucinations (illusions) which were caused by psychic or occult influences.
- Muhammad was a liar (which we must rule out, as we have convincing evidence that he had revelations).
- Muhammad had revelations, but not from the same source as the Bible, i.e. not from Jahweh.
We may safely exclude possibilities 1 and 3. So we have to consider the others.
There are reports which make the careful reader aware of a possible occult background:
"Ayesha reported that Haresah-b-Hisham asked the Apostle of Allah! How does revelation come to you? The Apostle of Allah said: Sometimes it comes to me like the ringing of a bell and that is the most troublesome to me; then it leaves me and indeed I remember what is said; and sometimes the angel assumes the form of a man for me and talks with me and I retain in memory what he says. Ayesha reported: And indeed I saw him while the revelation descended upon him on an intensely cold day; then it left him while his brow steamed with sweat.
Obadah-b-Swamet reported that when a revelation came unto the prophet, he used to become greatly perturbed and his face became changed".
Mishkat IV, p. 259
"Muslim [the tradition collectors] relates the following Tradition: 'Whenever Inspiration was sent down upon him, the Prophet grew troubled thereat, and his countenance changed'.
Ibn Ishaq says that, before the Revelation first began to descend upon him, Muhammad's friends feared that he was suffering from the evil eyes: and that, when it came upon him, almost the same illness attacked him again. What this particular malady was we can perhaps infer from the statements of the Traditionalists. Ali Halabi, in his Turkish work entitled 'Insanu'l Uyun', informs us that many people declared that Aminah, Muhammad's mother, used a spell in order to recover him from the influence of the evil eye. On the authority of Amr ibn Sharhabil it is stated that Muhammad said to Khadijah, 'When I was lone I heard a cry: O Muhammad, O Muhammad'. In tradition it is stated that he said, 'I fear lest I should become a magician, lest one should proclaim me a follower of the Jinn'; and again: 'I fear lest there should be madness' (or demonic possession) in me'. After an accession of shivering and shutting his eyes, there used to come over him what resembled a swoon, his face [mouth?] would foam, and he would roar like a young camel. Abu Hurairah says: 'As for the Apostle of God, when inspiration descended on him, no one could raise his glance to him until the inspiration came to an end'. In Tradition it is stated that 'He was troubled thereat, and his face foamed, and he closed his eyes, and perchance roared like the roaring of the young camel'. Umar ibnu'l Khattab says: 'When inspiration descended on the Apostle of God, there used to be heard near his face as it were the buzzing of bees'.
Somewhat similarly we read in the Turkish work, Mira'at i Kainat: 'When inspiration came with a message of threatening and warning, it descended with a terrible sound like that of a bell ... On the authority of Abu Hurairah, too, it is related that, when inspiration descended on the Apostle, they used to bathe his sacred head with henna, because of the headache that used to come on'.
In the Turkish Insanu'l Uyun of 'Alt Halabi we read: Zaid ibn Thabit relates: 'When inspiration descended on the Prophet, he became very heavy. Once his leg fell upon mine, and, by God, there is no such heavy leg as was that of the Apostle of God'. Sometimes a revelation would come to him when he was on his camel. Then it shuddered as if it would collapse, and it usually knelt down ... As often as the Prophet received inspiration, it seemed as if his soul were being taken from him, for he had always a kind of swoon and looked like one intoxicated".
"Mizanu'l Haqq" by C.G. Pfander D.D., pp. 345-356
"The Prophet's first experience of revelation.
The Holy Prophet received the first class revelation which came down for the very first time through the Archangel Gabriel in the cave Hira, now known as the mountain of Light, 3 miles to the northeast of Mecca in the month of Ramzan on Monday in the year 13 B.K. (July or August 610 A.D.). Before that, he saw prophetic dreams and heard unseen voices and calls. Before he received the first revelation, he took himself in complete seclusion to the Mount of Light and there applied himself in ardent divine service which consisted only of deep meditation".
Mishkat IV, p. 354 - Commentary
Yet another aspect is found in the Siratu'l Rasul:
"When it was the night on which God honoured him with his mission and showered mercy on His servant thereby, Gabriel brought him the command of God. 'He came to him', said the apostle of God, 'while I was asleep, with a coverlet of brocade whereon was some writing, and said, 'Read!'. I said, 'What shall I read?' He pressed me with it so tightly that I thought it was death; then he let me go and said, 'Read!' I said, 'What shall I read?' He pressed me with it again so that I thought it was death; then he let me go and said, 'Read!' I said, 'What shall I read?' He pressed me with it the third time so that I thought it was death and said 'Read!' I said, 'What then shall I read?' -and this I said only to deliver myself from him, lest he should do the same to me again. He said : 'Read in the name of thy Lord who created, Who created man of blood coagulated. Read! Thy Lord is the most beneficent, Who taught by the pen, taught that which they knew not unto men'. (Surah 96)
So I read it, and he departed from me. And I woke from my sleep, and it was as though these words were written on my heart".
Siratu'l Rasul, vs. 152-153
What appears indeed very strange to us is the mode by which the source of revelation was to be determined:
"Ismail b.Abu Hakim, a freedman of the family of al-Zubayr, told me on Khadija's authority that she said to the apostle of god, 'O son of my uncle, are you able to tell me about your visitant, when he comes to you?' He replied that he could, and she asked him to tell her when he came. So when Gabriel came to him;, as he was wont, the apostle said to Khadija, 'This is Gabriel who has just come to me'. 'Get up, O son of my uncle', she said, 'and sit by me left thigh'. The apostle did so, and she said, 'Can you see him?''Yes', he said. She said, 'Then run round and sit on my right thigh'. He did so , and she said, 'Can you see him?' when he said that he could she asked him to move and sit in her lap. When he had done this she again asked if he could see him, and when he said yes, she disclosed her form and cast aside her veil while the apostle was sitting in her lap. Then she said, 'Can you see him?' And he replied, 'No'. She said, 'O son of my uncle, rejoice and be of good heart, by God he is an angel and not a satan'.
I told Abdullah b.Hasan this story and he said, 'I heard my mother Fatima, daughter of Husayn, talking about this tradition from Khadija, but as I heard it she made the apostle of God come inside her shift, and thereupon Gabriel departed, and she said to the apostle of God, 'This verily is an angel and not a satan'".
Siratu'l Rasul, vs. 154
Can we actually visualize a revelation from God in the manner and for such a purpose as seen in the following tradition recorded by Sahih Muslim?
"Aisha reported that Sauda (Allah be pleased with her) went out (in the fields) in order to answer the call of nature even after the time when veil has been prescribed for women. She had been a bulky lady, significant in height amongst the women, and she could not conceal herself from him who had known her. Umar B.Khattab saw her and said: Sauda, by Allah, you cannot conceal from us. Therefore, be careful when you go out. She (Aisha) said: She turned back. Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) was at that time in my house having his evening meal and there was a bone in his hand. She (Sauda) came and said: Allah's Messenger, I went out and Umar said to me so and so. She (Aisha) reported: There came the revelation to him and then it was over; the bone was still in his hand and he had not thrown it and he said: 'Permission has been granted to you that you may go out for your needs'".
Sahih Muslim, Vol. III, p. 1186
If we look at all these Hadith, a picture begins to form. Anyone acquainted with occult phenomena has become aware of certain happenings that may be expected at a seance. Occult phenomena in childhood, daydreams, the hearing of voices and calls, nightly meditations, excessive perspiration during trance and the subsequent exhaustion and swoonlike condition - even the ringing of bells, are not uncommon. The condition that looked like intoxication is revealing. Anyone being in a real reasonable deep trance has that look. (On a number of occasions one of the authors witnessed this himself).
Another phenomenon is a reported suicidal inclination:
"And revelation broke off. Bukhari added: Until the Prophet felt grief about what has reached us, such a grief that he went out several mornings in that mood, so that he might destroy himself from the midst of the hills. Whenever he ascended on the submit of a hill in order to cast himself down therefrom".
Mishkat IV, p. 358
In the light of all this, we no more wonder about the aversion Muhammad had to the cross:
"The Prophet was of a highly strung and nervous temperament. So afraid was he of darkness, that, on entering a room at night, he would not sit down till a lamp had been lighted for him; and Al-Wakidi adds that he had such a repugnance to the form of the cross that he broke everything brought into the house with the figure upon it".
"The Life of Mohammed" by Sir William Muir, p. 200
"Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: By Him in Whose hand is my life, the son of Mary (may peace be upon him) will soon descend among you as a just judge. He will break crosses, kill swine and abolish Jizya, and the wealth will pour forth to such an extent that no one will accept it".
Sahih Muslim I, p. 92
The footnote 289 explains: "Cross is a symbol of Christianity. Jesus will break this symbol after the advent of Muhammad. Islam is the din [religion] of Allah and so no other religion is acceptable to Him."
The Satanic Verses
Another strange incident deserves to be mentioned. A verse ['aya' = sign] was revealed which constituted an outright compromise:
Have you seen Lat and Uzza and another, the third [goddess] Manat?" Verily they are the most exalted females [maiden][arab.'gharaniq'] and their intercession is to be hoped for.
These words were chanted when the infidels, the polytheists, walked around the Ka'ba in honour of their deities! When hearing about this verse, the heathen began to flock to Islam. News of this and the end of persecution reached Ethiopia, and the refugees began to return. Tradition reports that the angel Gabriel, who is supposed to have conveyed the message of Allah to Muhammad (and who is viewed to be the Holy Spirit), came to him saying: "What have you done, Muhammad? You have read to these people something I did not bring you from Allah and you have said what He did not say to you!" Consequently the second part of this verse was abrogated (omitted). This part is called the "Satanic verse" and came into the lime light again through the book by Salman Rushdie: 'The Satanic Verses'.
We deem it necessary to give a strong warning in regard to this book. Unfortunately some Christians have suggested to have this book translated into other languages and widely promoted to counter Islam. This idea is born out of utter ignorance of the content of Rushdie's best seller. Any Christian who has had the opportunity to study the book will be quickly convinced of it's blasphemous, cynical and ungodly character. It is certainly not a book any committed Christian would want to identify with, but rather a personal revenge of the author with his Islamic heritage. As followers of Jesus Christ we will want to present Him with love rather than throw dirt on other peoples' beliefs.
Muslim apologetics try to explain this incident by claiming that Muhammad's overriding concern for the people deceived him to listen to the whispering of Satan rather than Allah (at-Tabari; see in PREMISES AND PRINCIPLES OF MUSLIM EVANGELISM pp. 24-25).
The Collection of the Qur' an
A resumé in the Mishkat:
"THE COLLECTION OF THE QUR'AN IN A BOOK. No complete written copy of the Qur'an existed at the time of the Holy Prophet. It was not also possible as it was revealed during a course of 23 years. So during his time, it was kept in tablets, on parchment, papers, leaves and skins. After the holy demise, it was for the first time that the question of its collection in a book form was raised by Huzrat Omar before the first Caliph Abu Bakr. At first, the aged Caliph was not willing to do what the Prophet had not done. Afterwards he thought the propriety of collection and undertook the onerous task. The copy thus prepared by Abu Bakr was with Omar's daughter Hafsah (Prophet's wife) after his death. The public had then no written copies".
Mishkat III, p. 664
"Zaid'b'Sabed reported: Abu Bakr sent for me after the martyrdom of the warriors of Yamamah, when lo! Omar-b-al Khattab was near him. Abu Bakr said: Omar came to me. He said: Martyrdoms are very frequent in the battle of Yamamah among those who committed the Qur'an to memory, and certainly I fear that if there is increase of martyrdom among the readers of the Qur'an in different places, many things of the Qur'an will be lost, and verily I consider it (proper) that you should pass order for collection of the Qur'an. I said to Omar: How shall we do a thing which the Apostle of Allah did not do? Omar did not cease to repeat (it) to me till Allah opened my breast for that, and I considered (proper) what Omar had considered. Zaid reported that Abu Bakr had said: You are a wise young man. I must not disbelieve you as you used to write down the revelations for the Apostle of Allah. So search for the Qur'an and collect it. He said: By Allah, if you had put me to the task of taking away a certain mountain it would not have been heavier to me than what you have ordered me for the collection of the Qur'an. I said: How shall you do a thing which the Apostle of Allah did not do? He said: By Allah, this is good. Abu Bakr did not cease to repeat [it] to me till Allah opened my breast for what He had opened the breasts of Abu Bakr and Omar. Then I searched for the Qur'an, collecting it from the date palms, white stones and breasts of men till I found out the last portion of the chapter 'Repentance' [9:128-129Q] with Abu Huzaimah al-Ansari. I did not find it with anyone besides him: 'Certainly an apostle has come to you from among yourselves; till the end of 'The Immunity -9Q'. This compilation was with Abu Bakr till Allah took away his soul; afterwards it was with Omar while he was alive and then it was with Hafsah, daughter of Omar".
Mishkat III, p. 706-707
It is highly doubtful that this Codex kept by Hafsa ever played a role in the lives of the Muslims. Other codices were more widely distributed.
The resumé in the Mishkat continues:
"So Osman, during his Caliphate, ordered Za'd-b-Saber, Abdullah-b-Zubair, Sa'd-b-alA's and Abdur Rahman to examine independent sources [of the Qur'an] and to test the veracity of Hafsah's copy. Thus they prepared some copies which he distributed throughout the then Muslim world. These copies were exactly similar [sic] to the copy of Hafsah and that text has thus been kept intact and it is now what it was 14 hundred years ago".
Mishkat III, p. 664
As we shall see, the above report is not correct - or it is, to say the least, a very romantic concept.
The Revision of the Qur'an Under Uthman
A little later, when contention arose between believers because of differing recitations (in prayer), Uthman ordered the text to be edited "according to the dialect of the Quraish". This is called the Uthmani text and the accepted one to date.
Again the Mishkat fills in some detail:
"Anas-b-Malek reported: Huzaifah-b-Yaman came to Osman while he was engaged in a fight with the Syrians for the conquest of Armenia and Azerbaizan along with the people of Iraq. Their differences in the Qur'an-reading alarmed Huzaifah. Huzaifah said to Osman: O Commander of the Faithful! Set this people right before they differ about the Book like the difference of the Jews and the Christians. Then Osman sent for Hafsah saying: Send the compilation to us that we may copy it in to several compilations, and we shall thereafter return it to you. So Hafsah sent it to Osman. He ordered Zaid-b-Sabet, Abdullah b-Zubair, Sayeed-b-A's and Abdullah b-Hares-B-Hisham. They copied it into several scripts. Osman said to the party of the three Quraishites: When you and Zaid b-Sabet differ in anything of the Qur'an, write it in the dialect of the Quraish, because it was revealed in their dialect. They did accordingly till when they copied the compilation into several scripts, Osman returned the compilation to Hafsah. He sent one copy out of what they had copied to every country, and passed order regarding what is besides it out of every compilation of script of the Qur'an to be burnt".
Mishkat III, p. 708
Unfortunately this last sentence is not explicit enough to mention the number of variant readings in other copies of the Qur'an existent before the revision under Uthman. The book MATERIALS FOR THE HISTORY OF THE TEXT OF THE QUR'AN by Arthur Jeffery lists on over 350 pages the known differences of readings of Qur'an manuscripts which were destroyed under Uthman. Fortunately many of these deviations have been preserved in theological writing from which Jeffery reconstructed them. Let us just look at one brief comment by A. Jeffery:
"That the material in the Codex of Hafsa was considerably different from that in the Uthmanic text is evident from the anxiety of Marwan to destroy it. The story tells of how when Marwan was Governor of Medina he sent to Hafsa demanding her Codex that he might destroy it, but she refused to give it up. When she died Marwan assisted at her funeral and at its conclusion sent and with much insistence demanded the Codex from Abdallah b.Umar, Hafsa's brother. Abdallah finally sent it to him and he had it destroyed, fearing, he said, that if it got abroad the variety of readings that Uthman desired to suppress would recommence".
"Materials for the History of Text of the Qur'an" by A. Jeffery
Claims for the Uniqueness of the Qur'an
This evaluation of the Qur'an is found as a commentary in the Mishkat:
"The Qur'an is a miracle and an Universal Book. The Qur'an is the greatest wonder among the wonders of the world. It repeatedly challenged the people of the world to bring a chapter like it but they failed and the challenge remains unanswered up to this day. The Qur'an declares: And if you are in doubt as to that which We have revealed to Our servant, then produce a chapter like it and call on your helper besides Allah if you are truthful - Surah 2:23. Say: If men and Jinn should combine together to bring the like of this Qur'an, they cannot bring the like of it, though some of them help other. And certainly We have made distinct for men every kind of description but the majority of men do not consent but are denying - Surah 17:89. As the Qur'an was revealed, no credit is given therefore to the Prophet, but the fact remains that this book is second to none in the world according to the unanimous decision of the learned men in points of diction, style, rhetoric, thoughts and soundness of laws and regulations to shape the destinies of mankind. It is an epitome in itself. It is an universal book like the vast page of Nature. Worlds of nature are subject to laws. Nature is mute and does not explain the reason of such laws, while the Qur'an explains them and says that there is one god who is regulating the government of this universe with these laws with an object in view. The Qur'an is a perfect code of human life. It is a Divine Light that dissipates darkness from all around. Man-made lights are insufficient to remove the all-pervading darkness and hence man-made laws are insufficient as a panacea for all problems of the world. By the divine Light of the Qur'an, all darkness is removed from the soil of the mind just as by the sun all darkness of the universe is removed. It is therefore a solution of the world problems both temporal and spiritual, and is thus an Universal Book for the guidance of mankind".
Mishkat III, pp. 663-665
Or do they say, 'He forged it'? Say: 'Bring then a Sura like unto it, and call (to your aid) anyone you can, besides Allah, if it be ye speak the truth!'.
"And if ye are in doubt as to what we have revealed from time to time to Our servant, then produce a Sura like thereunto: and call your witnesses or helpers (if there are any) besides Allah, if your (doubts) are true. But if ye cannot - and of a surety ye cannot - then fear the fire whose fuel is men and stones - which is prepared for those who reject Faith."
"Say: If the whole of mankind and Jinns were to gather together to produce the like of this Qur'an, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed each other with help and support. And We have explained every kind of similitude: yet the greater part of men refuse (to receive it) except with ingratitude!."
"This Qur'an is not such as can be produced by other than Allah."
Muslims have different claims for the divine nature of the Qur'an:
Claim One: The Qur'an Was never Changed
But there were differing texts of the Qur'an. We have detailed knowledge of
- 15 Major Codices
- 13 Minor Codices
They differ somewhat in length and text from the present Uthmani version. ("Materials of the History of the Text of the Qur'an" by A. Jeffery)
The most important of these are:
- The Codex of aid ibn Thabit (Medina)
- The Codex of AZbdullah ibn Masud (Kufa)
- The Codex of Ubai ibn Ka'b (Syria)
- The Codex of Abu Musa (Basra)
In an ancient book called "Masahif" (= 'manuscripts' or 'documents') we read:
"Ibn Mas'ud is reported to have said: 'The Prophet taught me to recite seventy Surahs which I had mastered before Zaid had even become a Muslim'. Or again: 'Am I to be debarred from copying the mushafs and the job given to a man who was an infidel in his father's reins when I first became a Muslim?' Abdullah is supposed to have enjoined his followers: 'Lay up your Qur'an! How can you order me to recite the readings of Zaid, when I recited from the very mouth of the Prophet some seventy Surahs?'
'Am I', asks Abdullah, 'to abandon what I acquired from the very lips of the Prophet?'"
"Masahif" by Ibn abi Dawood, 824-897 AD, pp. 12,14
Like old Hebrew, the old Arabic writings had no vowels. The diacritical marks indicate where vowels were introduced later.
"Without diacritical marks a word could read active or passive and many consonants could not be distinguished without the diacritical dots which were added afterwards, when and by whom we do not know".
"Collection of the Qur'an" by John Burton
This compounded the problem which arises when Muslims claim the Qur'an has never undergone any change whatsoever.
It is clear from these statements that Islam has taken up a strange position: It is totally reluctant, not to say opposed, to subject itself to scrutiny and evaluation, but at the same time uses the materials collected by Western critics to declare the Bible to be corrupt. The relatively superficial critical research on Islam by Western scholars is largely unknown to Muslims, and is frowned upon. Academic text-critical research is bound to be document and fact-orientated, and not romantic.
Claim Two: The Qur'an Was Revealed in 'Seven Forms'
"Omar b-ai Khattab reported: I heard Hisham-b-Hakim-b-Hezam reading the chapter Distinction (25Q) other than what I read [= recite] it and what the Apostle of Allah read it over to me. I was about to hasten (attack) on him, but then I gave him time till he finished. Then I tied him with his cloth and came with him to the Apostle of Allah. I said: O Apostle of Allah! I heard him reading the chapter 'Distinction' other than what you read over to me. The Apostle of Allah said: Let him read. Then he read as I had heard him read.
The Prophet said: Thus it has been revealed. Then he asked me: Read. I read. He said: Thus it has been revealed: This Qur'an has been revealed upon seven modes of reading. So read what appears easy therefrom".
al - Bukhari Vol. Vi p 482, Chapt. LXI (5) 514
"Obai-b-Ka'ab reported: When I was in the mosque, a man entered to pray and he read a reading which I disliked. Another got in and read a reading other than that of his companion. When we finished the prayer, we went in a body to the Prophet. I said: This man reads a reading which I disliked. Another man came and read a reading other than that of his companion. The Prophet ordered them both and so they read. he approved their affairs. Disbelief then fell into my mind and not such when I was in the Days of Ignorance. When the Prophet saw what troubled me, he gave me a pat on my chest and then I was perspiring and then I was as it were looking towards Allah with a faint heart. He addressed me: O Obai! I was given to read the qur'an in one mode. I returned to Him to say: Make it easy for my followers. It was then returned to me for the second time saying: Read (it) in two modes. I returned to Him to say: Make it easy for my followers. It was then returned to me for the third time: Read in seven modes, and you have got a seeking for every time that I sent you back, which you should seek from Me. I said: O Allah! forgive my followers. O Allah! forgive my followers. I made delay for the third for a day on which the entire creation will turn to me, including even Abraham (peace be on him)".
Mishkat III, pp. 702-704
These 'modes' were most likely different wordings of the same subject, or at least in different dialects or modes of pronounciation. This defies the position of Islam, which teaches that the Qur'an has never been changed and that there is only one revealed text.
Both the differing codices and differing forms are a proof that the Qur'an is not the unchanged book Muslims today claim it to be.
(For a fuller response to these claims see under EVALUATION OF THE QUR'AN later in this chapter.)
ADDITIONS AND OMISSIONS IN THE QUR'AN
Passages Added to the Qur'an
"A curious story is told about 'Abd-Allah ibn-Abi-Sarh. While Mohammed was dictating to him the passage beginning with Surah 23:12, he was carried away by wonder at this description of the creation of man; and, when Mohammed paused after the words 'another creature', exclaimed: 'Blessed be God, the best of creators'. Mohammed accepted this as the continuation of the revelation and told him to write it down.
This aroused doubt, however, in ibn-Abi-Sarh, and later he gave up Islam and returned to Mecca; at the conquest of Mecca he was one of those prescribed [to be killed], but was pardoned on the intercession of Uthman".
"Introduction to the Qur'an" by R.Bell, p. 37 - quoted from al-Baidawi's and Zamaksharis's commentaries.
"The canonical traditionists report that Surah 4:95 was dictated by the prophet to his amanuensis Zayd thus: 'Those believers, who sit at home, are not equal to those who fight in the way of God with their goods and their persons'. A blind man was present and heard the words. He immediately interjected that were he as other men, he would certainly fight; whereupon the prophet interposed the words: 'except those who suffer from a grave impediment' which stand in the text today'".
"Islam" by A. Guillaume, p. 191; see also Al-Bukhari Vol. VI, p. 480, Chapt. LXI, (4) 512
It is good to know these facts. Not to use them as offensive weapons against Muslims, but to show them that the problems they find in the Bible are found amplified in the Qur'an, which they deem to be free from any problems and which is so very much younger.
Besides, it is necessary for a Muslim to see that the foundation he relies upon for all eternity has many cracks.
But let me stress this:
Unless it hurts us more to say this to a Muslim |
than it hurts a Muslim to hear and recognize it,
we have no right to say it !!!
Passages Omitted in the Qur'an
The tradition collector "Muslim" had gathered the following information:
"We used to recite a Sura which resembled in length and severity (Sura) Bara'at. I have, however, forgotten it with the exception of this which I remember out of it: 'If there were two valleys full of riches, for the son of Adam, he would long for a third valley, and nothing would fill the stomach of the son of Adam but dust'. And we used to recite a sura which resembled one of the suras of Musabbthat, and I have forgotten it, but remember (this much) out of it: 'O people who believe, why do you say that which you do not practise' (61:2) and 'that is recorded in your necks as a witness (against you) and you would be asked about it on the Day of Resurrection'" (17:13).
Footnote 1416: "The words of this sura have been abrogated in the Qur'an; its meaning has, however, been preserved in other verses of the Qur'an, e.g. in Surah 17:100: 'If you possess the treasures of the mercy of my Lord, you would then withhold (them) from fear of spending (it away). And man is ever niggardly".
Sahih Muslim II, p. 501
"Abdullah b.Abbas reported that Umar b.Khattab sat on the pulpit of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and said: Verily Allah sent Muhammad (may peace be upon him) with truth and He sent down the Book upon him, and the verse of stoning was included in what was sent down to him. We recited it, retaining it in our memory and understood it. Allah's Messenger (may peace by upon him) awarded the punishment of stoning to death (to the married adulterer and adulteress) and, after him, we also awarded the punishment of stoning. I am afraid that, with the lapse of time, the people (may forget it) and may say: We do not find the punishment of stoning in the Book of Allah, and thus go astray by abandoning this duty prescribed by Allah. Stoning is a duty laid down in Allah's Book for married men and women who commit adultery when proof is established, or if there is pregnancy, or a confession".
Sahih Muslim III, p. 912
A strange commentary explains:
"Here is an example of an abrogation of Qur'anic verses in which the words are abrogated whereas the ordinance has been conserved for all time to come in the Shariah through the words of the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him) such as his judgments in such cases of adultery. This also shows how closely the Qur'an and the Sunnah are interlinked".
These verses are not found in the Qur'an. As we can see, the commentator explains this to be due to abrogation.
"There is a tradition from Ayesha, the prophet's wife, that a certain chapter, which now consists of 73 verses, once contained no less than 200, and that when Uthman compiled the Qur'an the missing verses could not be found. One of them was called the Verse of Stoning, and is said to have contained the order to stone a man or woman who had committed adultery ... This verse is said to have been part of the original Qur'an. Many early authorities say so, and what is very significant is, that the first Caliphs punished adulterers by stoning. This is still penalty-prescribed [sic] in Muslim law books, whereas the Qur'an (Surah 24:2) prescribed a hundred stripes".
"Islam" by A. Guillaume, p. 191
"... there is the ... verse (53:19f.) ' Have you considered al-Lat and al-Uzza and Manat the third one?' This was once followed by the words: 'Verily they are the exalted maidens (Gharaniq, also translated 'cranes') and their intercession is to be hoped for' ('is approved' in another version). The earliest authorities on the life of Muhammad (i.e. Ibn Ishaq) asserts that these words were uttered by Muhammad at the instigation of Satan".
"Islam", p. 189 and "New Light in the Life of Mohammed", by A. Guillaume, p. 38
"The Qur'an has made a slight alteration and a significant omission to the first text: instead of saying 'By al-Lat, etc., it reads, 'Have you considered al-Lat' etc. and the sentence about the exalted maidens is dropped altogether. Subsequently Gabriel came to the prophet and denied that he had revealed the word to him".
"The polytheists of Mecca were delighted about this, for these words were those of the chant of the Quaraish as they processed around the Ka'ba".
References in the Siratu'l Rasul as revised by Ibn Hisham, vs. 239. Tabari pp. 1192 ff., al Suhayli, p. 229, according to A. Guillaume (our emphasis).
SOME CONTRADICTIONS IN THE QUR'AN
Some Prophets excel above others
"Those apostles we endowed with gifts, some above others. To some of them Allah spoke, others He raised to degrees (of honour)."
"Allah did choose Adam and Noah, the family of Abraham, and the family of Imran above all people."
BUT: Prophets are without distinction between them
"Say ye: 'We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: WE make no difference between one and another of them: And we bow to Allah (in Islam)."
"The Apostle believeth in what hath been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the men of faith. Each one (of them) believeth in Allah, His angels, His books, and His messenger. We make no distinction (they say between one and another of His apostles). And they say, 'We hear, and we obey: (We seek) thy forgiveness, our Lord, and to Thee is the end of all journeys'."
"Say: 'We believe in Allah, and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes. And in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another among them."
Judgment will be according to deeds
"The balance that day will be true (to a nicety). Those whose scale (of good) will be heavy, will prosper: Those whose scale will be light, will find their souls in perdition, for that they wrongfully treated our Signs".
BUT: Forgiveness will be given to whom Allah wills
"Of the men He hath created: He forgiveth whom He pleaseth, and He punishes whom He pleaseth."
Heavens and earth were created in six days
"He it is Who created the heavens and earth in six days - and his Throne was over the waters - that He might try you, which of you is best in conduct."
"Verily your Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days, and is firmly established on the Throne (of authority)."
BUT: Heavens and earth were created in eight days
"Say: Is it that ye deny Him Who created the earth in two days? And do ye join equals with Him? He is the Lord of (all) the worlds.
He set on the (earth), mountains standing firm, high above it, and bestowed blessings on the earth, and measured therein all things to give them nourishment in due proportion, in four days, in accordance with (the needs of) those who seek (sustenance).
Moreover He comprehended in His design the sky, and it had been (as smoke): He said to it and to the earth: 'Come ye together, willingly or unwillingly'. They said: 'We do come (together) in willing obedience.
So he completed them as seven firmaments in two days and he assigned to each heaven its duty and command."
THE PROBLEM OF ABROGATION
Based on the Qur'an Islam had developed the doctrine of abrogation. This means that during the lifetime of Muhammad certain verses (ayas) of the Qur'an were taken out again (the so-called Mansukh-Verses) to be replaced by others (the so-called Nasikh-Verses):
"None of our revelations do we abrogate or cause to be forgotten. But we substitute something better or similar" Knowest thou not that Allah hath power over all things?"
"When we substitute one revelation for another - and Allah knows best what he reveals (in stages) - they say, 'Thou art but a forger'. But most of them understand not."
Allah does, in fact, reserve the right to withdraw all revelation!
"If it were Our Will, we could take away that which we have sent thee by inspiration: then wouldst thou find none to plead thy affair in the matter as against Us".
Allah is seen to be the absolute ruler of all and everything. He can do as he pleases - and is always right. This includes arbitrary action (see "Predestination"). Thus the relationship between Allah and a Muslim is that of an absolute ruler to his slave. Allah's authority and action are never to be questioned! This is why Islamic theology does not allow any critical research. A Muslim obeys! He is not supposed to reason or ask questions. This left its seal on most Muslims to this day.
We should take note, however, of yet another verse:
"Do they not consider the Qur'an (with care)? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy."
The first "discrepancy" we notice is, that verses were taken out and replaced by others within a time span of, at the most, 22 years.
Muslim scholars try to excuse this by calling it "progressive revelation". Like in the Bible, Jahveh revealed some of His thoughts to Noah, Abraham and others. Then He sent the Law to Israel through Moses (500 years later). When Christ came He introduced the New Covenant. This happened not over a period of 22 years, but rather 1500 years, and was dictated by the historical and spiritual development of the people of God.
In addition, the Qur'an produces another discrepancy to the above verses on abrogation:
"No change can there be in the Words of Allah. This is indeed the supreme felicity."
"There is none that can alter the Words (and decree) of Allah. Already hast thou received some account of those Apostles."
"We substitute" (i.e. exchange) in Surahs 2:106 and 16:101.
"No change" in Surahs 10:64 and 6:34.
We know of changes, however.
"Jalalu'd-Din as-Suyuti, a very well accepted Islamic theologian and commentator, says that the number of abrogated verses has been variously estimated to range from 5 to 500."
"Dictionary of Islam", p. 520
"In his commentary "Itqan" he furnished a list of 20 verses, which are acknowledged by all commentators to be abrogated."
"Dictionary of Islam", p. 520
Let us mention a few here:
- The Qibla (prayer direction) was changed from Jerusalem to Mecca (Surah 2:142-145).
- The Division of Inheritance left by parents or other relatives according to Surah 4:7 had to be equal (a share and a share which has to be determined). This was abrogated and replaced by verse 11, where it is commanded that males must get double the share of females.
- The Night of Prayer performed by reciting the Qur'an ought to be more or less half the time of the night (Surah 73:2-4).
- The Treatment of Adulteresses is to be life imprisonment (Surah 4:15), which changed to flogging with 100 strokes (Surah 24:2). At first it was apparently stoning to death. This despite the leniency prescribed for homosexuals (Surah 4:16) after repenting.
- The Retaliation in Cases of Crime, particularly murder, was to be confined to people of equal rank (slave for slave; free for free etc.)(Surah 2:178). This is in disagreement with Surah 5:48 and Surah 17:33, where retaliation is allowed against the murderer only.
- The Jihad or Holy War was forbidden in the sacred months (Surah 9:5), but is allowed, even encouraged, in verse 36, which replaces the former.
"The much discussed 'verses of the sword': "... fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them and seize them, beleaguer them and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war)" (Surah 9:5), and "... when you meet the unbeliever (in fight) cut off their necks ..." (Surah 47:5), are said to have cancelled no less than 124 verses which enjoined toleration and patience."
"Islam" by A. Guillaume
In addition we must assume that Surah 2:185 replaces the verse before it, in which fasting during Ramadaan may be replaced by feeding a poor man.
EVALUATION OF THE QUR'AN
In the light of so many inconsistencies in the Qur'an we cannot accept it as a divinely inspired book. But perhaps the challenge to "Produce a Surah like it!" (Surah 2:23) has never been answered. To show the futility of such an argument, we make an effort to "produce" some "Surahs". We have taken just six portions of Christian writing and set them over against seven Surahs (or portions thereof) and eight biblical Scriptures for comparison.
The reader (hearer) is invited to first look (listen) to the texts and to make an assessment of the literary quality, and separately of the content of all passages quoted, and then find out who the writers were.
We suggest to the teachers to mix these quotations, when reading them to the students and to assess their evaluation, after each quote. After six or nine (2-3 of each quotes A,B and C) citations, the point is likely to have come across.
Some "Surahs" Produced
"If you believe Him for forgiveness, you must believe Him for deliverance. He Who saves us from the guilt of sin can deliver us from the power of sin ... He can cut the chains that bind him to his former master ... He purchases us that He might possess us ... If we want deliverance from the power of indwelling sin, we must rely in simplicity upon His word, accepting without question what God says to us about it. We must still move in faith ... The aim of the Lord involves two things: the praise of God and the perfecting of the believers, that is to say His glory and our glorification ... God puts the believers to the test, but in effect it is Himself he puts on trial. When He proves us, He expects us to prove Him. When a person who believes God is put through harrowing experiences, God waits, as it were, to see whether that person will consider Him worthy of his trust to the bitter end. His glory in that circumstance is linked up with that man's faith. When faith triumphs in the sufficiency of God's grace, then God is glorified in the world ...".
"God Holds the Key" by Geoffrey Bull
"I renounce for the love of Him, everything that was not He, and I live as if there was none but He and I in the world ... I know that for the practice of it the heart must be empty of all other things, because God will possess the heart alone, and as He cannot possess it alone without emptying it of all besides, so neither can He act there, and do in it what He pleases, unless it be left vacant to Him ... God knows best what is needful for us, and all that He does is for our good. If we knew how much He loves us, we should always be ready to receive equally and with indifference from His hand the sweet and the bitter. All would please that came from Him and sorest afflictions never appear intolerable, except when we see them in the wrong light".
Brother Lawrence around 1666 - quote from "The Practice of the Presence of God"
"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
That I practice love where I am hated,
That I forgive where I am offended,
That I heal where there is strife,
That I speak truth where there is error,
That I bring faith where doubt oppresses,
That I rouse hope where despair torments,
That I kindle your light where darkness reigns,
That I bring joy where sadness is dwelling.
Lord, let me not seek to be comforted,
But that I may comfort others also;
Not seek to be understood,
But understand others also;
Not seek to be loved,
But to love others also;
For he that gives shall receive,
He that forgets himself shall find,
He that forgives shall be forgiven,
He that dies shall awake to eternal life."
Francis of Assissi 1182-1226 AD
"Grant me, Almighty God, that I may circumspectly explore your will for my life, that I may truly know it and completely fulfill it.
Arrange my life that it may bring honour to You and salvation to me.
Add to this, O Lord, a free heart, a strong heart, a vigilant heart, an unchangeable heart.
Make me modest without presumption, serious without sadness, truthful without deceit, brave without fear, active without being thoughtless.
Let my way reach its purpose safely. Let me set my hope on You forever, You the loving God of my life".
Thomas Aquinas 1224-1274
"It is not important what people think or say to us, but what we are before God.
It is not important what we do, but how we do it.
It is not important that we escape suffering, but that suffering fulfils its purpose.
It is not important when we die, but that we are ready to meet God!"
Eva von Thiele-Winkler
"He is no fool that gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose".
Jim Elliot - "Martyr for the Gospel in the Amazon Jungle", 1956
Compare with Qur'anic Surahs
"If Allah so will, He could make you all one people: but He leaves straying whom he pleases, and He guides whom He pleases: but ye shall certainly be called to account for all your actions."
"We have indeed revealed this (message) in the Night of Power. And what will explain to thee what the Night of Power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by Allah's permission, on every errand: Peace! ... This until the rise of Morn!"
"Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth (even if they are) of the people of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued."
"Say: O ye that reject Faith! I worship not that which ye worship. Nor will ye worship which I worship. And I will not worship that which ye have been wont to worship, nor will ye worship that which I worship. To you be your Way, and to me mine."
"Perish the hands of the Father of Flame! Perish he! No profit to him from all his wealth, and all his gains! Burnt soon will he be in a fire of blazing flame! His wife shall carry the (cracking) wood - as fuel! A twisted rope of palm-leaf fibre round her (own) neck!"
"By the Sun and his (glorious) splendour; by the Moon as she follows him; by the Day as it shows up (the Sun's) glory; by the Night as it conceals it; by the firmament and its (wonderful) structure; by the Earth and its (wide) expanse; by the Soul and the proportion and order given to it; and its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right. Truly he succeeds that purifies it. And he fails that corrupts it!"
"To the Thamud people (we send) Salih, one of their own brethren: He said: 'O my people! Worship Allah; ye have no other god but Him. Now hath come unto you a clear (sign) from your Lord! This she-camel of Allah is a sign unto you. So leave her to graze in Allah's earth, and let her come to no harm, or ye shall be seized with a grievous punishment. And remember how He made you inheritors after the Ad people and gave you habitations in the land: ye build for yourselves palaces and castles in (open) plains, and carve out homes in the mountains; so bring to remembrance the benefits (ye have received) from Allah, and refrain from evil and mischief on the earth."
Biblical Scripture Compared with Qur'anic Surahs
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the for ever."
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish."
"God our Saviour, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."
1. Tim. 2:4
"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?"
"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me - just as the Father knows me and I know the Father - and I lay down my life for the sheep ... No-one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord."
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
1. Cor. 13:4-7
"Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
"You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave -just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
The Sources of the Qur'an
THE REASON FOR THIS INVESTIGATION
If Islam builds on the Qur'an as a revelation ('nazil', i.e. come down from heaven), as it indeed does, then it must provide evidence supporting its 'nazil' character.
If, however, some or much of the Qur'an can be shown to have been existing knowledge that was available to Muhammad, and if it was indeed incorporated into the Qur'an, the argument supporting 'nazil' collapses.
If the Qur'an reflects the Taurat and the Injil (i.e. the previous revelations), this will strengthen the basis of nazil - unless, of course, these can be shown to be historically and biblically false. 'Nazil' will also be disproved if what is claiming to be biblical source turn out to be Talmudic, Apocryphic or heretical.
It has been alleged that Islam:
" ... is simply Talmudic Judaism adapted to Arabia, plus the apostleship of Jesus and Muhammad ... The sources (says Mr. Rodwell, a Qur'an translator) whence Muhammad derived the materials of his Koran, are, over and above the more poetical parts, which are his own creation, the legends of his time and country. Jewish traditions based upon the Talmud, and the Christians traditions of Arabia and of Syria".
"Dictionary of Islam", p. 515
Since Muhammad was aware of Jewish and Christian criticism, he counter-attacked by claiming that the Christians and Jews had perverted their Books 'with the tongues'.
"(As they read), you would think it is part of the Book, but it is no part of the Book".
By that Muhammad differentiated between the 'Book' (i.e. the Bible) and what some falsified.
QUR'ANIC CONCEPTS FROM THE PAGAN ARABIAN PAST
This name was well known before the time of Muhammad, as can be proven by the names of relatives of Muhammad. His father's name was Abd-ullah (slave of Allah), and his uncle's name was Obeid-allah.
Besides this, Muhammad's references to Allah was not criticised by the infidels of Mecca, as could be seen in "The Collection of the Qur'an" (see p. *).
(also called the Holy Masjid) is described as a shrine of worship by Deodorus Sicolus in 60 BC. It was used before Muhammad in idol worship.
The pilgrimage to the Ka'ba was practised before Muhammad's time, including the circumambulation around the Ka'ba, the kissing of the Black Stone, visits to Safa and Marwa including the run between the two hills, and also the throwing of stones against a stone pillar, symbolizing Iblis (the devil) in Wadi Mina, and the slaughtering of sacrifices at Mina. This is still practised today. All of this is of heathen origin.
The now extinct tribe of the Sabaeans, who lived in the Arabian Peninsular, observed seven daily prayers at appointed times. Muhammad appointed five of these for his followers, including their names. The Sabaeans also prayed for the dead, a custom that has been maintained in Islam.
The Sabaeans fasted thirty days every year and celebrated the Eid-festival at the end as the breaking of the fast. The fast was prolonged by one day, should the new moon not be clearly visible on Eid. Again this practice was incorporated into the new religion of Islam. In the Mishna Berkhoth (Jewish Talmud) it was said that fasting should begin and stop at the time when one could begin to distinguish between a white and black threat. This custom has also been incorporated into Islamic traditions.
We cannot accept that these imitations are purely accidental. We hold that they were known to, and approved by, Muhammad, and that he incorporated them into the Qur'an, while others were incorporated into the Hadith.
The argument that the Ka'ba, the Hajj, the fast and the prayer regulations date back to Abraham and Ishmael, who introduced it to Arabia, cannot possibly be established. It is unbiblical and highly unlikely to have survived 2 500 years of verbal transmission, when no acceptable source claims any evidence for this.
Qur'anic Concepts from the Jewish Talmud
In the Arabian Peninsula a number of Jewish communities were living in the diaspora after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Many of these were guided by legends (Hagadda etc.) and Talmudic writings, rather than the Torah. Many Jews at the time believed that the Talmud had been added to the "preserved tablets" (i.e. to the Ten Commandments, which were kept in the Ark of the Covenant and were believed to be replicas of the heavenly books). Muhammad added to this the Qur'an. There are several traditions from Judaism that were accepted by Muhammad and incorporated into Islam.
Satan's Refusal to Worship Adam
This report from Surah 2:34 can be traced to the Talmud (ISLAM by A. Guillaume, p. 62).
Cain and Abel
The way the story of Cain and Abel is related in Surah 5:30-35 shows quite clearly that this is copied from the Targum of Jonathan-ben-Uzziah, the Targum of Jerusalem and Pirke Rabbi Eleazar.
Whatever Muhammad knew about Abraham is not from the Bible, but from Jewish legends, the source being the Midrash Rabbah (Surahs 2:260; 6:74-84; 19:42-50; 21:52-72; 26:70-82; 29:16+17; 37:83-89; 43:26-30; 60:4).
The Visit of the Queen of Sheba
We find this related in Surah 27:17 ff. We can also determine the source, which evidently is the II Targum of the Book of Esther (paraphrased translation), although Muhammad reports this as to be from the Bible.
Harut and Marut
These two angels are mentioned in Surah 2:102. Harut and Marut were idols worshipped in Armenia. Their existence was inspired by Marut, the Hindu god of the wind. We find this story related in the Talmud (Midrash Yalzut, Chapt. 44).
Seven Heavens and Seven Hells
These reports of Surahs 15:44 and 17:44 find their source in the Jewish tradition called Hagigah and Zuhal.
Qur'anic Concepts from the Apocrypha
The Apocrypha is a collection of legends and stories about Jesus, which were unacceptable to the early Church because they had not been revealed to the Apostles.
Christians sects had found refuge in the Arabian Peninsula from the Roman Church, which persecuted them. They followed heretic teachings. In addition one of Muhammad's concubines, Mary the Copt, could have related these stories to him, and so could Waraqqa ibn Naufal, a cousin of Muhammad's first wife Khadijah, who was a Christian. The fact that Apocryphal writings were a main source of information to these sects is significant. This is undeniably reflected in the Qur'an.
His name in the Arabic Qur'an is Isa. In Surah 19:16-31 it is related that He was born under palm trees. This story can be traced back to the "History of Nativity". When Mary was accused by her family for having a child without being married, the new-born Jesus speaks out of the cradle in defense of his mother. The source for this is the "Gospel of Infancy". (Both sources are not biblical, but are from the Apocrypha).
In Surah 3:49 and 5:113 it is related that as a child Jesus made clay pigeons, and by breathing on them, made them come alive so that they could fly away. This was taken from the "Gospel of Thomas" (Apocrypha). In Surah 4:156 as in the general context of the Qur'an and Hadith, it is related that Jesus was neither killed nor crucified. The source is a Docetic or Gnostic heresy, promoted by Basilides, an early Christian heretic of the second century. The Hadith speaks of the return of Jesus in a way that is foreign to the Bible. He will return to earth, live forty years, marry and have children, then die and will be buried next to Muhammad in Medina.
Christians are surprised to discover in Surahs 5:116 and 5:75+76 that the Trinity comprises of God, Mary and Jesus. This thought is foreign to Christians and the Bible, but no doubt finds its origin in the veneration of Mary as "The Mother of God" by contemporary sectarian churches.
The Virgin Mary
Christians read with astonishment in Surah 19:28+29 that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was a sister of Aaron. Learned men of Islam, who are aware that between Miriam, the sister of Aaron, and Miriam or Mary, the mother of Jesus, there is a gap of 1 500 years, try to persuade us that Mary had a brother who also happened to be an Aaron. We reject this possibility, because she is also described as the daughter of Imran (Surah 66:12), the Amram of Exodus 6:20. He was indeed the father of Aaron, Moses and Miriam. Besides that, Jalalu'd Deen has stated that Mary's mother was Hannah, the one who is mentioned in I Sam.1 and who lived about 1 000 years before her "daughter".
All this is a hopeless mix-up of historical events, and no argument will convince us that the Qur'an is right and the Christians have changed their Bibles as is claimed by Muslims. Why should they do this, anyway?
"The Gospel of James", another Apocryphal book, was the source of the report that as a girl Mary lived in the Temple, receiving food from angels, and that Joseph was chosen to be her husband by miraculous rods (Surah 3:35+36 and 42-47).
This reports the ascension of Muhammad to the Seventh heaven, after a miraculous night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem on a horse-like creature called Buraq. This story is related to us in Surah 17. More detail is furnished in the "Mishkat". We can trace this story back to a fictitious book called the "Testament of Abraham" (200 BC), which was written in Egypt and then translated into Greek and Arabic.
The Cave of the Seven Sleepers
It is not difficult to detect the striking resemblance of this story from Surah 18:9-26 to a book called the "Story of Martyrs" by Gregory of Tours. It is a legendary tale of Christians under persecution who fell asleep in a cave for 200 years. The Qur'an prolongs this to 309 years.
QUR'ANIC CONCEPTS FROM EASTERN SOURCES
The description of Paradise in Surah 55:56 and 56:35+36, which speak of "wide-eyed huris with eyes like pearls, a recompense for what they laboured", has interesting parallels in the Zoroastrian religion of Persia, where the name is not huris, but paaris.
For some strange reason the Western World, the idea of a huge set of balances that God will operate on the Day of Judgement has been in the minds of people. This is in total contrast to the basic teaching of the Bible, where justification is by faith, and not by good deeds.
Although the balance and judgement concept is found in the Qur'an in Surahs 101:5+6 and 42:7, we discover that the original source is the "Testament of Abraham". "The Book of the Dead", also from Egypt, refers to judgement by Osiris, an Egyptian deity, and here the same concept of judgement by balances is apparent.
The bridge that leads over the deep gulf of hell to Paradise was well known in Persia, and is called Chinavad (the connecting link) in the Zoroastrian book "Dinkart".
QUR'ANIC CONCEPTS FROM THE HANIFITES
We know of men who rejected the polytheistic worship prevalent in pre-Islamic Mecca. They believed in one God, the "God of Abraham". These were called Hanifs. Four are mentioned by name. One must assume that their knowledge about the one God of Abraham came from their contact with the Jews who lived in their neighbourhood.
Hanifite beliefs, the Qur'an and the Hadith, have very obvious similarities. All three rejected idol worship and the burying of infant girls. They accepted the unity of God, Paradise and hell, and call Allah "Lord Most Merciful and Compassionate". They probability is that Muhammad, when he withdrew to the cave of Hira, met Zaid-ibn-Amr, one of them, who was rejected by the Meccans for the statement 'I worship the God of Abraham'. He had been expelled from Mecca and lived on Mount Hira. In Islam the word Hanifite means: 'One that is inclined to God', or is simply taken to mean 'orthodox'. In pre-Muslim Arabia Hanifite meant 'unclean' or 'apostate', because Hanifites had abandoned their former religion. Muhammad, clothed this word with a positive meaning. Abraham was called a Hanifite by Muhammad in Surahs 4:125; 3:95 and 6:161. The Meccans were strongly admonished:
"Follow the faith of Abraham, the Hanif, he was not a pagan".
It is sad to realise that today's Muslims do not follow the faith of Abraham. Had they turned to the Taurat for their knowledge about him, history would have taken another course.
It is revealing to consider the lives and fate of the four Hanifites as told in the "Siratu'l Rasul" by ibn Ishaq, the earliest biographer of Muhammad:
"One day when the Quraysh had assembled on a feast day to venerate and circumambulate the idol to which they offered sacrifices, this being a feast which they held annually, four men drew apart secretly and agreed to keep their counsel in the bonds of friendship. They were Waraqa b.Naufal, Ubaydullah b.Jahsh, whose mother was Umayma d.'Abdu'l Muttalib, Uthman b.al-Huwayrith and Zayd b.'Amr. They were of the opinion that their people had corrupted the religion of their father Abraham, and that the stone they went round was of no account; it could neither hear, nor see, nor hurt, nor help. 'Find for yourselves a religion',, they said, 'for by God you have none'. So they went their several ways in the lands, seeking the Hanifiya, the religion of Abraham.
Waraqa attached himself to Christianity and studied its Scriptures until he had thoroughly mastered them. 'Ubaydullah went on searching until Islam came; then he migrated with the Muslims to Abyssinia taking with him his wife who was a Muslim, Umm Habiba. When he arrived there he adopted Christianity, parted from Islam, and died a Christian in Abyssinia.
After his death the apostle married his widow Umm Habiba. Uthman b.al-Huwayrith went to the Byzantine emperor and became a Christian. He was given high office there. Zayd b.'Amr stayed as he was: he accepted neither Judaism nor Christianity. He abandoned the religion of his people and abstained from idols, animals that had died, blood, and things offered to idols. He forbade the killing of infant daughters, saying that he worshipped the God of Abraham, and he publicly rebuked his people for their practices.
Hisham b.'Urwa from his father on the authority of his mother Asma d.Abu Bakr said that she saw Zayd as a very old man leaning his back on the Ka'ba and saying: 'O Quraysh, By Him in whose hand is the soul of Zayd, not one of you follows the religion of Abraham but I'. Then he said: 'O God, if I know how you wished to be worshipped I would so worship you; but I do not know'. Then he prostrated himself on the palms of his hands".
These likenesses may perhaps be claimed to be accidental, and the odd one may well be. We are aware, however, that there was much contact between Arabia and the culturally advanced Persians. We also remember Salman, the Persian, who is mentioned in the Siratu'l Rasul and indirectly in the Qur'an. He was suspected by the contemporary Arabs to be an informant to Muhammad (Surah 16:102+103). But the concept taken from the Bible cannot be explained in any way other than that Muhammad's knowledge of the Bible was scanty and poor, and that he was misled into believing that the legendary tales he heard were actually biblical.
(This information has been selected from THE SOURCE OF ISLAM by W. St.Claire-Tisdall.)
INTRODUCTION AND DEFINITION
The Hadith (traditions) is a collection of reports of Muhammad's life. The purpose is twofold:
- to interpret the Qur'an rightly Tafsir.
- to be able to imitate the doings and sayings of Muhammad, which is considered to be meritorious. This is called Sunnah (= 'path', 'way', 'manner of life').
In the Hadith the Muslim seeks guidance for Muhammad's actions in every aspect of his daily living. To copy what Muhammad did or said, is (to the Muslims) the safest way to live a life pleasing to Allah. Therefore, salvation is sought by copying the life of the Prophet as closely as possible, as he is considered to be the greatest and most moral of all human beings. Most Muslims believe that Muhammad's life and everyday talk were inspired, as the Qur'an itself, only to a lesser degree.
"Some of us met to exchange Hadith reports. One fellow said: 'Enough of this! Refer to the Book of Allah'. Imran b.Husain said: 'You are a fool! Do you find in the Book of Allah the prayers explained in detail? Or the Fast? The Qur'an refers to them in general terms only. It is the Sunnah which supplies the detailed explanation'".
"L'tibar" by al Hamda
The Hadith is the collection of biographic reports about the sayings, customs and doings of Muhammad and his companions; they also reflect on what Muhammad prescribed or ordered and tolerated in his presence or forbade.
The imitation of Muhammad's life was encouraged by him from the beginning, although the Hadith were collected and written down much later (about 250-300 years later).
"The Holy Prophet said: 'I leave with you two things; as long as you hold fast by them both, you will never be misguided - the book of Allah and Sunnat of His Messenger'".
Mishkat I, p. 173
"Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: 'Every one of my followers will enter Paradise except he who refused'. He was questioned: 'And who has refused (truth)?' He said: 'Whoever obeys me shall enter Paradise, and whoever disobeys me has refused'".
Mishkat I, p. 159
In practical terms it looks somewhat like this:
"Abes-b-Rabiah reported: I saw Omar kissing the Stones and saying: Verily I know that thou art but a mere stone having no power of doing any benefit and injury. Had I not seen the Prophet to kiss (thee), I would not have kissed thee".
Mishkat III, p. 604
Abd-ullah ibn-Umar was seen riding his camel round and round a certain place. In answer to an enquiry as to his reason for so doing, he said: "That I know not, only I have seen the Prophet do so here".
Ahmad-ibn-Hambal would not eat watermelon, because although he knew the Prophet ate them, he did not know whether he ate them with or without the rind, or whether he broke, bit or cut them. Even so, his action was not "Sunnah", for Muhammad ate watermelons!
THE CONTENT OF THE HADITH
These are manifold and its topics cover:
The Qur'an and its revelation and collection, faith, knowledge, ablution (ritual washings), prayers, funerals, charity, the pilgrimage, fasting, business of all kinds, slavery, testaments, the 'holy war', prophets, particularly the virtues of Muhammad, marriage, divorce, food and eating, medicines, sacrifices, dress and manners, pre-destination, oaths, inheritance, punishment, treatment of apostates from Islam, dreams, cleanliness and eternal judgment, but also trivial things such as sneezing, yawning, the trimming of a beard, the use of perfume, the cleaning of the teeth and nose and the use of a toilet.
Some of these will cause us to smile. We obviously have to take them with a 'pinch of salt'.
"Ibn Umar reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: A believer eats in one intestine, whereas a non-believer eats in seven intestines".
Sahih Muslim III, p. 1137
"Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: 'When a fly falls in [sic] the utensil of some one of you, immerge [sic] it, because there is disease in one of its wings and cure in another, and also because it first throws its wing wherein there is disease. So immerge [sic] it entirely".
Mishkat II, p. 152
Another Hadith records this:
"Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: 'Allah loves sneezing but hates yawning. So when one of you sneezes and praises Allah, it becomes the duty of every Muslim who hears to say for him: May Allah be kind to thee. As for yawning, it is surely from the devil. So when one of you yawns, let him return it if he can; because when one of you yawns, the devil laughs at him".
Mishkat I, p. 589-590
The commentator of the Hadith explains:
"Yawning is the result of sloth and sluggishness and has therefore been termed coming from the devil, and sneezing is the result of sound brain and sound health and is therefore termed as coming from an angel. Whenever a man yawns, he should cover his mouth with cloth or hands, as something injurious may enter there". (ibid.)
A footnote throws more light on this:
"Sneezing was spoken of as good as it makes the brain clear,and yawning was spoken of as coming from the devil as it comes out as a result of sloth and idleness". (ibid.)
"The son of Abu Sa'id al-Khudri reported on the authority of his father that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: 'When one of you yawns, he should try to restrain it with the help of his hand since it is the Satan that enters therein".
Sahih Muslim IV, p. 1540
Another topic may amuse us also:
"Jabir reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) commanded the licking of fingers and the dish, saying: 'You do not know in what portion the blessing lies'".
"Ibn 'Abbas reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: 'When any one of you eats food he should not wipe his hand until he has licked it himself or has given it to someone else to lick'".
Sahih Muslim III, p. 1119-1120
"Muhammad said: 'The angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog or pictures'".
Hadith of Abu-Talhah
"Every maker of pictures is in the fire. Allah will appoint for him, for every picture he has drawn, a person who will punish him in hell".
Hadith of ibn-Abbas
"Buraida reported on the authority of his father that Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: He who plays chess is like one who dyed his hand with the flesh and blood of swine".
"Jabir b.'Abdullah reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: None of you should lie on his back and place one of his feet upon the other".
"Asma, daughter of Abu Bakr, reported that a woman came to Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) and said: I have a daughter who has been newly wedded. She had an attack of smallpocks and thus her hair had fallen; should I add false hair to her head? Thereupon Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: Allah has cursed the woman who adds some false hair and the woman who asks for it".
"Ibn Abbas reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The influence of an evil eye is a fact; if anything would precede the destiny it would be the influence of an evil eye, and when you are asked to take bath (as a cure) from the influence of an evil eye, you should take bath".
Sahih Muslim pp. 1922, 1155, 1165, 1192
These Hadiths are responsible that Muslim homes are decorated almost exclusively with pictures of the Ka'ba or Qur'an verses in calligraphic (ornamental) writing. Ironically we see Muslims use a camera and watching TV!
"Abd Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: 'Let there be the curse of Allah upon the thief who steals an egg and his hand is cut off, and steals a rope and his hand is cut off".
Sahih Muslim II, p. 908
THE COLLECTION AND RELIABILITY OF THE HADITH
Sober scrutiny will cast doubt on the reliability of the Hadith. To give an example: Abu Da'ud, one of the collectors of Hadith, accepted only 4 800 traditions out of 500 000, and even in his careful selection he states that he has written down only "those which seem to be authentic and those which are nearly so". (Ibn-Khalikan Vol. I, p. l59).
Of 40 000 persons who had been instrumental in handing down Traditions, al-Bukhari acknowledges only 2 000 as reliable authorities. From 600 000 Hadith he selected 7 200, of which about half are duplicates of others. The selection thereof was done according to the judgement of one individual collector. He selected 1.2% of the available tradition well over 200 years after the recorded events supposedly took place. (Today we would have to think in terms of happenings that had been orally transmitted from the time of the composer Frederick Handel or George Washington and the American War of Independence).
Several methods of scrutinising the Hadith have developed differing ways to establish the reliability of certain Hadith. The "chain of transmitters" (Arab.'isnad') is used as a detector of reliability from unreliable Hadith, but these are known to have been forged in early Islamic history. A typical example could be like this:
"Abu Hurairah reported on the authority of Zaid ibn Sabet who told Nu'man ibn Amr who heard it from Safwan ibn Solaim that: '...'"
(and now the actual Hadith would be quoted. The reference chain is called 'isnad').
The Hadisu's-sahi is a 'genuine tradition', handed down by truly pious persons, distinguished for their integrity. Then there is the Hadisu's-Za'if, which is a 'weak tradition'. Another school divides them into 'exhorted traditions', 'restricted traditions' and 'intersected traditions'. Yet another school divides the Hadith into 'undoubted tradition', 'well-known tradition', 'rare tradition', 'poor tradition' and a 'single saying'. All this after having been extensively sifted by the collectors!
From the host of Tradition-collections (some 1465!), Muslim scholars have gathered into six sets those which were authentic according to their judgment. These are now called the 'correct books' (Sihahu's Sittah): (0 AH is 622 AD)
- al-Bukhari (256 AH)
- Muslim (261 AH)
- at-Tirmizi (279 AH)
- Abu-Da'ud (275 AH)
- Abu-Abdi'r-Rahman (303 AH)
- Abu Abdi'llah Muhammad (273 AH)
In addition we also have to mention the Mishkat (or 'Mishkatu'l-Masabih'):
"...being a collection of most authentic sayings and doings of the Prophet Muhammad selected from the most reliable collections of Hadith literature..."
(This reminds one of the amplification: dead, deader, most dead!)
The theological and judicial systems and its practical application are, apart from the Qur'an, based on these books.
"Since only a few people are sure of the morality of their actions, it has always been considered a 'good' way to do what most people do. To copy the one who was Allah's chosen Prophet, who must have been well-pleasing to Allah, is surely to follow the best example".
TEACHING ON OBEDIENCE TO TRADITIONS
The commentary of the 'Mishkat' teaches Muslims:
"The traditions of the Holy Prophet have got paramount importance side by side with the Qur'an in the formation of a religious life of a human being for the attainment of perfection. Indeed the Qur'an minus Hadis remains unintelligible in many cases in the work-a-day life of a man. It is the very injunction of the Quran to follow the Prophet in all his deeds and sayings. Therefore, if the Quran is believed, there is no other alternative, but to believe in the Hadis of the Prophet. Some of the verses that have been revealed in this connection are as follows: Say, if you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you (Surah 3:31). Most certainly it is the word of an honoured Apostle, the possessor of strength, having an honourable place with the Lord of the Throne - one to be obeyed, and faithful in trust.
Whatever the Apostle giveth you, accept; and whatever he forbideth you, keep back, and be careful of your duty to Allah (Surah 59:6).
And it behoves not a believing man and a believing woman that they should have any choice (in their matter) when Allah and His Apostle have decided a matter; whoso disobeys Allah and His Apostle, he surely strays off a manifest straying (Surah 33:36).
Jaber reported that the Messenger of Allah said on the Farewell Pilgrimage: And I have left among you a thing if you adhere to, you will never be misguided after me - the Book of Allah and what you get from me by questions. (=Hadith)
Whoso obeys me shall enter Paradise and whoso disobeys me, has indeed rejected truth. Once a copy of the Torah was seen in the hand of a companion. The prophet got enraged and said: By One in whose hand there is my life, had Moses come to you and you would have followed him and left me, you would have certainly gone astray from the right path. Had Moses been alive and would have reached my prophethood, he would have certainly followed me.
Jalaluddin Sayuti says: If one seeks the Qur'an he shall seek 'sunnah' because it is the commentary of the Qur'an and its explanation. Darimi reported that Hasan said: Gabriel revealed 'sunnah' to the Holy Prophet as He revealed the Qur'an to him. He says also that 'sunnah' is a judge upon the Qur'an and not the Qur'an upon Sunnah. Hedayah says: Hadis is a hidden revelation and that which differs from Hadis to the extent of a hair shall be given up.
From the above verses, traditions and sayings of theologians, it is now beyond question that all Muslims to whatever ages and climes do they belong, must necessarily follow the Hadis of the Holy Prophet".
Mishkat I, p. 3-5 - Introduction
The commentator of the Hadith of Sahih Muslim exhorts:
"We have been told in clear terms that the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him) neither said anything nor did anything of his own accord; whatever he said and whatever he did emanated from the Lord:
He does not speak of his own desire (Surah 53:3).
Say, I follow only that which is revealed to me from my Lord (Surah 7:203).
All the utterances and deeds of the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him) are thus divinely inspired, and in them alone can one find the true meaning and the real significance of the Will of Allah.
Mere transmission of the Book of Allah to the people faithfully and sincerely does not exhaust the Prophet's duties. On him also lies the responsibility of explaining the real purpose of the Qur'anic teachings and then giving them a visible shape so that mankind may see, along with the injunctions of
Allah, the process of their transformation into reality and the outward forms in which they are to be crystallized. Words alone, however powerful and however pointed, cannot be fully comprehended unless these conjure before our minds definite forms and shapes. Similarly, precepts, however valuable, can be best understood only when these are supported by living examples.
It is indeed a boundless favour of Allah to humanity that, along with His message, He also sent to us His Messenger to elaborate and elucidate it, and then transmute it into practical reality under his direct guidance.
And We have sent unto thee the Admonition that thou mayest expound unto mankind that which hath been revealed towards them.
As a final dispenser of the Message of Allah, the Prophet alone is best fitted and, therefore, divinely authorized to determine the meanings of the Holy Qur'an, to unfold before humanity the deep wisdom contained in it.
The Prophet is no doubt human, but his leadership is divinely inspired and none can be called a Muslim who does not accept this basic doctrine of the Holy Qur'an.
Say (O Muhammad): If you love Allah, follow me and Allah will love you and forgive you your sins; for Allah is Forgiving; a Dispenser of Mercy (Surah 3:31).
It is by following Muhammad (may peace be upon him) that we can achieve the cherished goal of winning Allah's favour.
Some of the misguided people suggest that the commands of the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him) were valid only during his lifetime, and that now when he is no more amongst us, we need follow only the injunctions of the Holy Qur'an and treat the Hadith as an account of the past which has some allusions to the life of the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him), having no practical value as a code of life. These so-called pseudo-reformers [sic] little realize that a denial of the eternal validity of the Sunnah amounts to a denial of the Holy Qur'an's claim that the prophethood of Muhammad (may peace be upon him) is not time-bound; it is universal and the Prophet's words and deeds are the timeless expressions of the Will of Allah.
Say: O mankind! surely I am the Messenger of Allah to you all, of him Whose is the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth. There is no god but He: so believe in Allah and His Messenger, the ummi Prophet, who believes in Allah and His words, and follow him so that you may be guided aright (Surah 7:158).
Muhammad (may peace be upon him) is the Messenger of Allah for the whole of mankind; no new prophet is to be raised after him. His prophethood is thus both universal and eternal. It is, therefore, an integral part of one's faith in the prophethood of Muhammad (may peace be upon him) that his words and deeds should always be taken as one of the two most reliable sources of right guidance.
The study of the records of the Ahadith and the life-history of those who maintained them proves beyond any shadow of doubt that the preservation of the Hadith was not an after-thought, conceived long after the death of the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him). It started right during his lifetime and was continued immediately after him with full earnestness and religious fervour, because it had to serve eternally as the fountain-head of right guidance".
Sahih Muslim, p. I-IV - Introduction
EVALUATION OF THE HADITH
We can easily see how a strict observance of the traditions puts a Muslim into a legalistic straight-jacket of Do's and Dont's. Questions of what is 'halaal', ritually permissable and what is 'haraam', forbidden to a Muslim cast their shadows on the everyday life of a Muslim. Unfortunately this often also affects free relationships between Christians and Muslims in a negative way.
As Christians we are no longer under the slavery of the Judaic law. The following passages will remind us that Christ has 'set us free for freedom' (Galations 5:1).
See to it that no-one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principle of this world rather than on Christ ... Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink or with regard to a religious festival, a new moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow. Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
Col. 2:8, 16-23
The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing. This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshipper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings - external regulations applying until the time of the new order. When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.
Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? but the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart and these make a man 'unclean'. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man 'unclean', but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean'.
Recommended Literature for Chapter 4
An Introduction to Qur'anic Studies, The true Guidance IV, Light of Life 1994, 155 pages.
- the material presented is part of a refutation of attacks against Christianity in the early 1900's. It deals with true revelation, the compilation and abrogation of the Qur'an and some of its mistakes.
Christians ask Muslims, Gerhard Nehls, LCA 1992, pp. 89-102, 124-132.
Ishmael, my Brother, Anne Cooper, MARC, Evangelical Missionary Alliance, 1993, pp. 77-97.
Jam' Al-Qur'an, The Codification of the Qur'an Text, John Gilchrist, MERCSA, 1989, 154 pages.
- proves that there were several phases in the compilation of the standardised form of the Qur'an by surveying the earliest records. This detailled study rejects the claim that the Qur'an is of divine origin.
The Qur'an - the Scripture of Islam, John Gilchrist, MERCSA, 1995, 147 pages.
- the structure and teaching of the Qur'an, its impact on modern Muslims, but also the Qur'an's origin and collection are dealt with respectfully but not without putting forward some pertinent questions.
Free handout: A Comparison between the Qur'an and the Bible, LCA.