Apologetic Paper (Joseph Smith) - May 1995, cont.
H: The Abrogation of Qur'anic Verses
The abrogation of Qur'anic verses presents a problem for Muslims today. As we all know, a man can make mistakes and correct them, but this is not the case with God. God has infinite wisdom and cannot contradict himself. Abrogation flies is the face of sura 6:34 (and 10:65) which state:
"...There is none that can alter the words (and decrees) of Allah." An even more damaging pronouncement is made in sura 4:82 which reads, "Do they not consider the Qur'an? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancies."
Muslim authorities try to explain the internal contradictions in the Qur'an by stating that certain passages of the Qur'an are annulled (Mansukh) by verses revealed chronologically later than themselves. The verses which replace them are referred to as Nasikh. Yet, there is by no means any certainty as to which disagreeing verses are mansukh and which are nasikh, since the order in which the Qur'an was written down was not done chronologically but according to the length of the suras.
From the preceding section we have found that even the text at our disposal was found and collated piecemeal, leaving us little hope of delineating which suras were the more authentic. Furthermore, Muslim tradition admits that many of the suras were not even given to Muhammad in one piece. According to tradition, some portions were added to other suras under the direction of Muhammad, with further additions to the former suras. Therefore, within a given sura there may be found ayas which were early, and others which were quite late. How then could we know which were the more authoritative?
The law of abrogation is taught by the Qur'an in sura 2:106,108, stating: "We substitute one revelation for another..." This is echoed in sura 17:86, which reads, "If it were Our Will, We could take away that which We have sent thee by inspiration." In sura 16:101 the law of abrogation is clearly defined as one verse being substituted by a better verse. Verse 101 read, "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?"
Jalalu'd-Din estimated the number of abrogations at between 5 to 500. Others say it stands closer to 225. What this shows us is that the science of abrogation is an inexact science indeed, as no-one really knows how many of the verses are to be abrogated. Underlying this claim of abrogation is another concern: How can a divine revelation be improved upon? Would it not have been perfect from the start?
Yusuf Ali in his defense of abrogation claims that there is a need for progressive revelation within scripture, saying: "its form may differ according to the needs and exigencies of the time". Christians believe in progressive revelation as well, as God reveals and changes His will for a people as they change culturally over a period of generations. The problem with suras 2:106, 17:86 and 16:101 is that they do not refer to revelations given prior to Muhammad, but refer uniquely to the Qur'anic verses themselves. One cannot claim progressive revelation within a space of only 20 years (this was the time in which the Qur'an was written). The period found in the previous scriptures spans 1,500 years! People and cultures change in that amount of time. Thus the revelations would reflect those changes. To demand the same for a revelation of a mere 20 years suggests that God is not all-knowing. The only other option can be that the recorder made corrections, and then came up with a revelation to authenticate those corrections. While you decide, let's look at some of these abrogations. Some examples of these abrogations are:
1. In sura 2:142-144, we find the change of the Qibla, the direction of prayer from Mecca to Jerusalem, and back to Mecca.
2. The inheritance laws in suras 4:7; & 2:180, provides an equal share for women and men, and then is doubled for men in sura 4:11.
4:7: "From what is left by parents and those nearest related there is a share for men and a share for women, whether the property be small or large,-a determinate share."
Here the context gives an apparent equal share for men and women but several suras below it is contradicted:
4:11: "Allah (thus) directs you as regards your Children's (Inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females: if only daughters, two or more, their share is two-thirds of the inheritance; if only one, her share is a half. For parents, a sixth share of the inheritance to each, if the deceased left children; if no children, and the parents are the (only) heirs, the mother has a third; if the deceased Left brothers (or sisters) the mother has a sixth. (The distribution in all cases ('s) after the payment of legacies and debts. Ye know not whether your parents or your children are nearest to you in benefit. These are settled portions ordained by Allah. And Allah is All-knowing, All-wise."
[Notice the discrepancy?? Any honest reader will. And furthermore: It just doesn't add up: Sura 4:11-12, 176 speaking on the inheritance law, specifies that when a man dies, and leaves behind [for instance] three daughters, two parents and a wife, the 3 daughters will receive 2/3 of the inheritance, 1/3 will go to the parents together [according to verse 4:11] and 1/8 for the wife [4:12] which adds up to more than the available estate. A second example: If a man leaves only his mother, his wife and two sisters, then the mother receives 1/3 ( 4:11), 1/4 for the wife [4:12] and 2/3 for the two sisters [4:176], which then adds up to 15/12 of the available property. ]
3. The change of night prayers from a full night in sura 73:2-4, to a half or less, or whatever was easy to do in sura 73:20.
4. The change of punishment for adulteresses, beginning with life imprisonment, found in sura 4:15, and then changed to 100 strokes by flogging, according to sura 24:2. Remember that these two examples make no mention of the previous 'missing' aya which prescribes the stoning for those who commit adultery. It is also interesting to note that Homosexuals were let off if they repented, according to sura 4:16, though this same allowance was not given for heterosexuals.
5. The change of the retaliation laws where retaliation for the crime (murder) was confined to people of equal rank (i.e. slave for slave) in sura 2:178, then it was to be carried out only against the murderer by the heir, sura 17:33 (note: Ali adds Qisas and forgiving to the Arabic).
6. The change of the days of creation from 6 (7:54; 25:59) to 8 (41:9- 12).
"Is it that you deny Him [Allah] who created the Earth in TWO days? And you claim others to be equal to Him? He is the Lord of (all) the Worlds"
[The next verse begins with what verse 9 depicts as already created in two days]:
"He set on it [the already created Earth] mountains, and bestowed it with blessings. And [Allah] estimated all its sustenance in FOUR days, equally for those who ask (prayers)"
[So far then, we have six days, two for creating the Earth and four more for setting on the Earth mountains, etc. - items which add to the Earth's creation and were not an intrinsic part of it's previous creation - items that are described as sustenance, i.e., that which sustains the earth but not that which created it.]
'''THEN [Allah] commanded the heaven and it was STILL smoke. He said to it and to Earth: "Come together, willingly or unwillingly." They said: "We do come together, in willing obedience" '''
[Then = a continuance of this creative action by Allah, we have Allah's work on the heavens to make them into seven heavens which was still unformed smoke after six days. Notice the word STILL corroborating a sequence of events still not completed after six days!!!]:
'''SO [Allah] decreed them as seven heavens (one above the other) in TWO days and revealed to each heaven its orders. And We [Allah] adorned the lowest heaven with lights, and retentions (gravity). Such is the decree of the Exalted; the Knowledgeable." '''
Notice that the word rendered "in" appears in the same context of all of 'Allah's' actions which are reported in creating the universe - three times. Notice the words "THEN", "STILL" and "SO" which demand an ongoing sequence. Hence the context demands that the word "in" = total length of time for the particular accomplishment of Allah in a series of events need to be added up to EIGHT as opposed to determining that the word "in" means 'inside the time of', or 'within'. Another Arabic word needs to have been in the original text to be rendered 'inside the time of', or 'within' which is NOT in the original Arabic text.
The phrase "In TWO days" in English demands the interpretation: a two day duration and "in FOUR days, a four day duration. Furthermore, the context would be ridiculous if one said God created the Earth in two days and added everything to the earth within four days if what is intended is the additions are within two days. This is even more ridiculous when the same word is used for 'in' in the phrases 'in two days' and 'in four days'. So why not then simply stipulate the time it took to add everything instead of being vague with 'within four days' if that is what is meant, (and it is not)? Doesn't God know???? Besides the word 'within' is simply not there in Arabic or American English.
7. The change of the hierarchy of prophets, where they were initially equal (suras 3:84;2:285;2:136) and then some are elevated above the others, sura 2:253 (see Ali's note:289).
8. The changes in intercession; at first done by angels and Muhammad (suras 42:5; 24:62), and then were not acceptable to Allah (suras 74:48; 63:5; 34:23).
9. The Sword verses: the Call to "fight and slay the pagan (idolaters) wherever you find them" (sura 9:5); or "strike off their heads in battle" (sura 47:5); or "make war on the unbeliever in Allah, until they pay tribute" (sura 9:29); or "Fight then... until the religion be all of it Allah's" (sura 8:39); or "a grievous penalty against those who reject faith" (sura 9:3). These all contradict "There is no compulsion in religion" (sura 2:256).
10. Sura 2:184 first allows a rich man to buy himself out of the fast by feeding an indigent. The following verse (185) allows no compensation.
11. Widows were to keep themselves apart for 4 months and 10 days after their husband's death (sura 2:234), which is then changed to one year (2:240).
12. Sura 2:106 contradicts sweeping changes which follow: in the Qibla (vss.115,177,124-151), pilgrimage rites (vs.158), dietary laws (vss.168-174) law of talio (vss.178-179), in bequests (vss.180-182), the fast (vss.182-187), and the pilgrimage again (vss.196-203).
13. Sura 16:101 contradicts changes which follow in dietary laws (vss.114-119), and in the Sabbath laws (vs.124).
14. Muhammad will not forget the revelations which Allah gives him (sura 87:6-7), is then changed to withdrawing that which Allah wills to withdraw (i.e. revelations) (17:86).
15. Allah commits himself as law to act mercifully, which implies cause and effect (sura 6:12), yet later in the same sura we find that "If Allah willed, he could have brought them all together to the guidance... Whom Allah will he sendeth astray, and whom he will he placeth on a straight path" (vss. 35 & 39).
16. Concerning predestination, in sura 57:22 we find the words, "No evil befalls on the earth, nor on your own souls but it is in a book before We bring into existence." And in sura 76:29-31 it says, "..whosoever will may choose a way unto his Lord, Yet ye will not, unless Allah willeth... He maketh whom He will to enter His mercy..." Both of these contradict sura 42:30, which states, "Whatever of misfortune striketh you, it is what your right hands have earned."
17. In sura 5:82, Pagans and Jews are considered the furthest from Muslims, while Christians are the nearest, yet in sura 5:51 & 57 Muslims are told not to have Christians as friends. Interestingly, in the same verse (51) it comments that Jews and Christians are friends, yet the only thing they have in common is their agreement on the authenticity of the Old Testament.
18. Muhammad was the first to bow down to Allah (i.e. the first Muslim) (sura 6:14,164; 39:12). Yet these passages forget that Abraham, his sons and Jacob were former Muslims (sura 2:132) as were all the earlier prophets (sura 28:52-53), and Jesus' disciples (3:52).
19. Allah curses all liars, yet permits Muhammad to break an oath (sura 66:1-2), and though Allah alone may be worshipped, he demands Satan and the angels to worship Adam, with the result that Satan is eternally punished because he refused to do so (sura 2:32).
20. An abrogation evidenced by Muslims today is the claim that the Bible (which they admit is a revealed book) has been altered and corrupted. Yet sura 10:65 reads, "There is no changing in the Words of Allah," and sura 6:33,34 reads, "There is none that can alter the decisions (revelations) of Allah."
21. In sura 17:101 we find 9 plagues (or signs), whereas in sura 7:133 only 5 are listed (note Ali's footnote no.1091 which adds the rod and leprous hand from verses 107 and 108, as well as the drought and short crops of verse 130 as plagues, to make up the nine).
22. In sura 51:57 we find that Jinn were created to worship Allah, yet in sura 7:176 we find that the Jinn were created for Hell.
23. In sura 17:103 we are told that Pharaoh was drowned with his army, yet in sura 10:90-92, upon admitting to the power of God, he is rescued as a sign to others.
24. Angels are commanded by Allah to bow down to Adam in suras 15:29-30; 20:116, which they do, yet Allah prohibits anyone worshipping any but him (suras 4:116; 18:110).
25. Lust is condemned in sura 79:40-41, yet in sura 4:24-25 Allah permits polygamy, divorce, and the use of female slaves as concubines (one needs to ask why a man needs a concubine if not to satisfy his lust). Furthermore, for those who are faithful lust is the primary, and unlimited reward in heaven (suras 55:46-78; 56:11-39). Surely if lust is wrong on earth and hateful to a Holy God, it cannot be pleasing to him in paradise.
26. On that same note, wine is forbidden while on earth (sura 5:91), yet rivers of wine await the faithful in paradise (suras 47:15; 76:5; 83:25)
27. Muslims Jews, Christians, and Sabians are all considered saved in sura 2:62, yet in sura 3:85 only Muslims are considered saved.
28. In sura 4:157 we read that Jesus did not die, yet in sura 19:33 we read that not only did he die, but he arose again! (note: Yusuf Ali has no rebuttal here, but in his footnote no.2485 refers to sura 19:15, which repeats the same words for Yahya, and then refers the reader to sura 4:157-a vivid example of using a Nasikh verse to abrogate one which is Mansukh in order to get out of a "jam").
Some of these may not be serious contradictions, were it not for the claim that the Qur'an is "nazil" which means "brought down" from heaven without the touch of human hand. This implies that the original "un-created" preserved tablets in heaven, from which the Qur'an proceeds (sura 85:22), also contains these abrogations. How can they then claim to be Allah's eternal word?
Equally disturbing is what this implies concerning the character of God. For, if Allah in the Qur'an manifests himself as the arbitrary God who acts as he pleases without any ties even to his own sayings, he adds a thought totally foreign to the former revelation which Muhammad claimed to confirm. Indeed, these abrogations degrade the integrity of the former revelations which were universally applicable to all peoples, for all time. The Qur'anic abrogations on the other hand fit the requirements of one specific man and his friends, for one specific place, and one specific time.
I: Errors Found Within the Qur'an
For centuries Muslims have been taught to believe that the Qur'an has been preserved in its original Arabic form since the beginning of time itself, and preserved intact from the period of the "sending down" of the book to Muhammad, right on down till the present. They have been taught that the text which we read now was uniquely inspired, in that there were no intermediary agents who could possibly pollute the integrity of the script.
At the same time they have also been taught that this suggested textual perfection of the book proves that the Qur'an must be the Word of God, as no one but Allah could have created and preserved such a perfected text. This sentiment has become so strongly established in the Muslim world that one will rarely find a Muslim scholar willing to make any critical analysis of its content or of its structure, as to do so would usually be detrimental to his or her health. However, when an analysis is made by a Western scholar upon the Qur'an, that analysis is roundly castigated as being biased from the outset, and even "satanic," and therefore, unworthy of a reply.
But that does not stop the analysis from being undertaken, for the Qur'an when held up to scrutiny finds itself lacking in many areas.
As we have already discussed, we find problems with its sources, its collation, its literary makeup, its supposed uniqueness, and problems even with its content. It is not difficult to find numerous contradictions within the Qur'an, a problem which Muslims and the Qur'an has attempted to alleviate by conveniently allowing for the 'law of abrogation.' But even more devastating towards the integrity of this supposed perfect 'divine book,' are the numerous errors which are found in its pages. It is therefore to those errors which we will now turn in our continuing quest to ascertain whether, indeed, the Qur'an can claim to be the true, and "perfect" Word of God, as Muslims have so often maintained since the very inception of their faith.
I1: Contradictions With the Bible Which Point to Errors:
Many errors are found in the Qur'an which contradict the Biblical account. In the previous section we discussed a number of these contradictions in some detail, so I won't repeat them here. Suffice it to say, that because the Qur'an followed these scriptures and made the claim to protect them (suras 6:34; 10:65; and sura 4:82) its integrity is put into doubt when it fails to adhere to the content of the very scriptures it claims to protect and confirm. Some contradictions I will mention, however, because they give doubt to the veracity of its content.
The first concerns the adoption of Moses by Pharaoh's wife (in sura 28:9). This story contradicts the Biblical Exodus 2:10 version, which states that it was Pharaoh's daughter who adopted Moses. It is important to note here that had Pharaoh's wife adopted Moses, he would have consequently been adopted by Pharaoh himself, making him heir to the throne. This fact alone makes the subsequent story of Moses's capture and exile rather incredulous.
According to the Qur'an, no-one bore the name of Yahya before John the Baptist (sura 19:7). Yet, we find that name mentioned in the Old Testament (2 Kings 25:23) implying that it was a well known name hundreds of years before the writing of the Qur'an.
It is interesting to note that Yusuf Ali, in his translation of sura 19:7 tries to circumvent this problem by translating this aya as, "on no-one by that name have We conferred distinction before." Yet, the word 'distinction' does not appear in the Arabic at all. Is a translator permitted to change a text like this to correct an error? Obviously not! Ali is playing a dangerous game here. Is it no wonder, then, that Muslims refer to all English translations as simply interpretations. In his note (no.2461) Ali attempts to explain the problem by assuming that "Allah had, for the first time, called one of His elect by that name." It would have been better had he left the text stand as it was written.
The Qur'an completely misrepresents the doctrine of the Trinity. The author of sura 5:116 mistakenly thought that Christians worshipped three gods: the Father, the Mother (Mary), and the Son (Jesus). But Christians don't worship this doctrine of the Trinity at all! There was a heretical sect of Christianity called the Choloridians, who had a concept of the Trinity which included Mary, who would have been in Arabia during the time of Muhammad. They are possibly the source for this obvious error.
Another error is also found in sura 5:73-75, where the Qur'an says, "They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three..." Obviously the accusation is against Christians, yet Christians do not believe God is one of three! We believe that God is one. Yusuf Ali does a grave injustice in his translation by adding the phrase, "Allah is one of three in a trinity." The words "in a trinity" do not exist in the Arabic text! Ali puts it into his translation in an attempt to avoid the rather obvious mistake that Christians believe in three gods.
The Qur'an in sura 5:72 makes the mistake of claiming that the Jews believed that Ezra was the Son of God, the Messiah, just as Christians claim for Jesus. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I2: Internal Contradictions Which Point to Errors:
Some errors point to internal contradictions within the Qur'an itself. I have dealt with these in another paper as well, and so will only list them here to jog your memory.
I2i: Mary & Imran:
One of the best known errors is that concerning the confusion between Mary, recorded in the Qur'an as the sister of Aaron and the daughter of Imran (Biblical Amran) as well as the mother of Jesus (by implication in suras 19:28; 66:12; 20:25-30), though the two, Mary and Miriam, lived 1,570 years apart. Details
Another well known passage is that of Haman. In the Qur'an Haman is referred to as a servant of Pharaoh, who built a high tower to ascend up to the God of Moses (sura 28:38; 29:38; 40:25,38). But the Babel tower occurs 750 years earlier (Genesis 11), and the name Haman is correctly found in the story of Esther in Babylon, 1,100 years after Pharaoh. Yusuf Ali believes that the reference here is simply that of another Haman, yet Haman is not an Egyptian name, but uniquely Babylonian.
I3: Errors Which Contradict Secular and Scientific Data
There are other stories in the Qur'an which do not stand up to the secular data which is available. These errors are possibly the most damaging for the credibility of the Qur'an as the perfect 'Word of God' because their veracity can be measured against the test of observable data, which is by definition neutral and binding.
The descendence of Ishmael by all Arabs is in doubt within the secular world, since historically the first father of the Arabs was Qahtan or Joktan (see Genesis 10:25-30). Some of his sons names are still found in geographical locations in Arabia today, such as Sheba, Hazarmaveth, Ophir, and Havilah. Abraham's nephew Lot would be another ancestor to the Arabs via the Moabites and Ammonites (Genesis 24); as would Jacob's twin brother Esau, and the six sons of Abraham's third wife Keturah. Yet they are not even mentioned as ancestors to the Arabs in the Qur'an.
The Qur'an says that the calf worshipped by the Israelites at mount Horeb was molded by a Samaritan (sura 20:85-87, 95-97). Yet the term 'Samaritan' was not coined until 722 B.C., which is several hundred years after the events recorded in Exodus. Thus, the Samaritan people could not have existed during the life of Moses, and therefore, could not have been responsible for molding the calf.
It is interesting to notice that while Yusuf Ali attempts to change this word to "Samiri" and Pickthall to "As Samirii," Arberry in the English, and Kasimirski in the French both correctly translate it "Samaritan." Yusuf Ali, in his footnotes, "bends over backwards" to explain his choice by suggesting that the name could mean "Shemer," which denotes a stranger, or "Shomer," which means a watchman, the equivalent of "Samara" in Arabic, which he implies is close enough to the Samari he is looking for. Once again we find an awkward example of Ali attempting to twist the translation in order to get out of a difficult scenario, similar to the examples of "Periklytos," or the word "Machmad" which he uses to signify Muhammad in the Bible. The Arabic simply does not give Ali the leeway to concoct other meanings for this word. To be consistent with the Arabic he should keep his translation consistent with the text, as Arberry and Kasimirski have done.
In sura 18:86 it states, "Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water: Near it he found a people: We said: O Dhu al Qarnayn! Either punish them,or treat them with kindness." It is well known that only the superstitious in the age of Muhammad believed that the sun would set in a muddy spring.
The name for Jesus in the Qur'an is given as "Issa." Yet this is incorrect. Issa is the Arabic equivalent of Esau, the name for the twin brother of Jacob. The correct Arabic name for Jesus would be Yesuwa, similar to the Hebrew Yeshuwa, yet the supposedly "all-knowing" Qur'an has no mention of it.
Suras 16:15; 21:31; 31:10; 78:6-7; 88:19 tell us that God placed (threw down) mountains on the earth like tent pegs to keep the earth from shaking - after the earth was formed. For pre-scientific man this would sound logical, since mountains are large and therefore, their weight would have seemingly, a stabilizing effect on the earth. Yet we now know this logic to be quite inaccurate. Mountains were not formed and placed on the earth to render the earth's crust stable. In fact, the very existence of mountains is evidence of instability in the earth's crust, as they are found and pushed up by the colliding of tectonic plates (i.e. the migration of Arabia toward Iran has resulted in the Zagros range, France pushing against Italy produced the Alps, and the Indian plate nudging Tibet has given us the Himalayas):
[16.15] And He has cast great mountains in the earth lest it might be convulsed with you, and rivers and roads that you may go aright,
[Mountains were not cast in the earth in order to keep it from convulsing, they were formed by the earth's convulsions themselves!!! This verse is not correct.]
[21.31] And We have made great mountains in the earth lest it might be convulsed with them, and We have made in it wide ways that they may follow a right direction.
[Again, the mountains were not created to keep the earth from convulsing, they were created as a result of the earth's convulsions.]
[31.10] He created the heavens without pillars as you see them, and put mountains upon the earth lest it might convulse with you, and He spread in it animals of every kind; and We sent down water from the cloud, then caused to grow therein (vegetation) of every noble kind.
[Again, same point. The origin of mountains is not as it says here. ]
[78.6] Have We not made the earth an even expanse?
[78.7] And the mountains as projections (thereon)? [88.19] And the mountains, how they are firmly fixed,
[The earth and mountains are not separate entitities they are part of a system of geology]
I3vi: Alexander the Great
In sura 18:83-100 we find the story of Dhu al Qarnayn, who is known as the Greek conqueror, Alexander the Great. According to this sura, his power was given to him by Allah (aya 84), which some Muslims contend is an assertion that he had the same prominence as a prophet. But of even more importance to our discussion is the contention, according to this sura, that he was credited with building an enormous wall of iron and brass between two mountains, which was tall enough and wide enough to keep an entire army out (aya 96).
It is simple to test these claims because Alexander lived in the full light of history. Arrian, Quintus Curtius and other historians of repute have written the history of Alexander's exploits. From their writings we know that Aristotle was his tutor. Yet, these historians equivocally make him out as a heathen general whose debauchery and drunkenness contributed to his untimely death at the early age of 33. They show that he was an idolater, and actually claimed to be the son of the Egyptian god Amun. How, therefore, could he be considered to have the same prominence as a prophet, or even, as aya 84 clearly asserts, that Allah was the agent for his power?
Yet, what is even more troubling, there is no historical evidence anywhere that he built a wall of iron and brass between two mountains, a feat which, indeed, would have proven him to be one of the greatest builders or engineers in the history of mankind.
When we find the Qur'an so inaccurate in regard to Alexander, whose history is well known, we hesitate to accept as valuable or even as reliable the statements of the Qur'an about other matters of past history.
Sura 86:5-7 tells us that man is created from a gushing fluid that issues from between the loins and the ribs. Therefore, in this sura we find that the semen which creates a child originates from the back or kidney of the male and not the testicles.
I3viii: Pharaoh's Cross
In sura 7:124 we find Pharoah admonishing his sorcerers because they believe in the superiority of Moses's power over theirs. Pharoah threatens them with cutting off their hands and feet on opposite sides, and then says they will all die on the cross. But their were no crosses in those days. Crucifixion was first practised by the Phoenicians and the Carthaginians and then borrowed extensively by the Romans close to the time of Christ, 1700 years after Pharaoh!
I3ix: Other Scientific problems
a. Sura 16:66 mentions that cow's milk comes from between the excrement and the blood of the cow's abdomen. What does this mean?
b. In sura 16:69 we are told that honey, which gives healing, comes out of the bees abdomen. Again, what does it mean that honey comes out of a bees abdomen?
c. sura 6:38 says that all animals and flying beings form communities, like humans. I would like to ask whether this includes spiders, where in some species the female eats the male after mating has taken place. Is that a community like ours?
d. sura 25:45-46 maintains that it is the sun which moves to create shadows. Yet, I have always been taught that it was the rotation of the earth which caused shadows to move, while the sun remained quite still (i.e. thus the importance of sundials in earlier days).
e. sura 17:1 says Muhammad went to the "farthest Mosque" during his journey by night (the Mi'raj), which Muslims explain was the Dome of the Rock mosque, in Jerusalem. But there was no mosque in Jerusalem during the life of Muhammad, and the Dome of the Rock was not built until 690 C.E., by the Amir 'Abd al Malik, a full 58 years after Muhammad's death! There was not even a temple in existence at that time. The temple of Jerusalem had been destroyed by Titus 570 years before this vision. So what was this mosque that Muhammad supposedly saw?
There are other errors which are statements or stories which simply make no sense at all, and put into question the integrity of the writer or writers of the Qur'an.
I4i: Man's Greatness
Sura 4:59 states,"Greater surely than the creation of man is the creation of the heavens and the earth; but most men know it not." This implies that greatness is only measured by size; that the mere vastness of the physical universe make it greater than man, an argument which would make a football of immensely greater value than the largest diamond. Our scripture tells us that Man's greatness lies not in his size, but in his relationship with God, that he is made in God's image, a claim which no other animate or inanimate object can make.
I4ii: Seven Earths
Sura 65:12 reads, "It is God who hath created seven heavens and as many earths." We would love to know where the other six earths are. If these refer to the planets in our solar system, then they are short by two (and now possibly three).
I4iii: Jinns & Shooting stars:
Meteors, and even stars are said to be missiles fired at eavesdropping Satans and jinn who seek to listen to the reading of the Qur'an in heaven, and then pass on what they hear to men in suras 37:6-10; 55:33-35; 67:5; & 72:6-9.
How are we to understand these suras? Can we believe indeed that Allah throws meteors, which are made up of carbon dioxide or iron-nickel, at non-material devils who steal a hearing at the heavenly council? And how do we explain the fact that many of earths meteors come in showers which consequently travel in parallel paths. Are we to thus understand that these parallel paths imply that the devils are all lined up in rows at the same moment?
I4iv: Solomon's power over nature:
a. Birds and ants
King Solomon was taught the speech of birds (sura 27:16) and the speech of ants (sura 27:18-19). In his battles, he used birds extensively to drop clay bricks on Abrah's army (sura 105:3-4), and marched them in military parades (sura 27:17). He also used them to bring him messages of powerful queens (sura 27:20-27).
Note: According to the historical record, Abrah's army was not defeated by bricks dropped on their head. Rather, they withdrew their attack on Mecca after smallpox broke out among the troops (Guillame, Islam, pgs.21ff).
The Jinn were forced to work for Solomon, making him whatever he pleased, such as palaces, statues, large dishes, and brass fountains (sura 34:11-13). A malignant jinn was even commissioned to bring the Queen of Sheba's throne in the twinkling of an eye (sura 27:38-44).
The wind was subject to Solomon, travelling a month's journey both in the morning and in the evening (though the wisdom of its timing is somehow lost in translation) (sura 3:11; 21:81).
d. Ants talk
The ants, upon seeing Solomon and his army arriving in their valley (and by implication recognizing who he was), talk among themselves to flee underground so as not to be crushed (sura 27:18).
I4v: Youth and dog sleep 309 years
Sura 18:9-25 tells the story of some youths (the exact number is debated) and a dog who sleep for 309 years with their eyes open and their ears closed (Note Yusuf Ali's attempts to delineate the exact time period of this story in footnote no.2365, and then concludes that it is merely a parable).
The object of this story is to show Allah's power to keep those who trust in him, including the dog, without food or water for as long as he likes.
I4vi: People become apes
In suras 2:65-66 and 7:163-167, Allah turns certain fishing people who break the Jewish sabbath into apes for their disobedience. Had Darwin read the Qur'an, his theory on evolution may have parallelled "Planet of the Apes" rather then the other way around.
I4vii: Sodom & Gomorrah turned upside-down
In suras 11:81-83; 15:74 the two cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are turned upside-down and rained upon with clay-like brimstone, upon whose surface were marked the destiny of the wicked people who lived there.
I4viii: Jacob's Smell & Sight:
In sura 12:93-96 Joseph sends his coat to his father as proof of his existence. But as the caravan leaves Egypt, Jacob, who is in Canaan smells Joseph, who is hundreds of miles away (aya 94). Then the coat, when it arrives, is placed over the face of his father Jacob and suddenly he receives his sight. Now we know why Andrew Lloyd Weber added the word "amazing" to the title of his musical, "Joseph's Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat."
I4ix: Night/Day/Sun/Moon are subject to man:
In sura 16:12-15 the day and night as well as the Sun and Moon are surprisingly all made subject to man. That would imply that we had control over the rotation of our planet, as well as the entire movement of our solar system (Yusuf Ali's explanation of this odd pronouncement in note no.2031 is rather interesting).
I5: Grammatical Errors
Muslims believe that since the Qur'an is the Word of God, it is without error in all areas. We have already dealt with the questions concerning the style and literary qualities of the Qur'an earlier, and found it to be quite defective in those areas. Yet, even more troubling are the grammatical mistakes which exist within its text. Can we expect an omnipotent and omniscient God to allow such deficiencies to creep into his supposedly 'perfect' and eternal revelation? Consider the following:
1.In sura 2:177, the word Sabireen should be Sabiroon because of its position in the sentence (since it is a human plural, it should remain in the masculine plural form?).
2.In sura 7:160, the phrase "We divided them into twelve tribes," is written in the feminine plural: Uthnati Ashrat Asbaataan. Due to the fact that it refers to a number of people, it should be written in the masculine plural form: Uthaiy Ashara Sibtaan, as all human plurals are automatically male in Arabic.
3.In sura 4:162, the phrase "And (especially) those who establish regular prayer..." is written as al Muqiyhina al salaat, which again is in the feminine plural form, instead of the masculine plural: al Muqiyhuna al salaat (?). It is important to note that the two following phrases, "(those who) practice regular charity, and (those who) believe in Allah..." are both correctly written in the masculine human plural form.
4.In sura 5:69, the title al Sabioon, referring to the Sabians, should be written al Sabieen.
5.In sura 63:10, the phrase "I shall be" is written akun (which is in the 3rd person?). Yet since this word refers to the future (& is in the 1st person) it should be written akunu.
6.In sura 3:59, the words Kun feekunu should be written, Kun fakaana.
There are other grammatical errors which exist in the Qur'an as well, such as: suras 2:192; 13:28; 20:66 and the duals which replace the plurals in sura 55.
If we are still in doubt as to whether the Qur'an is subject to error, it might be helpful to end this section by quoting a Muslim scholar, who, himself, comments on this very problem concerning grammatical mistakes in the Qur'an:
"The Qur'an contains sentences which are incomplete and not fully intelligible without the aid of commentaries; foreign words, unfamiliar Arabic words, and words used with other than the normal meaning; adjectives and verbs inflected without observance of the concords of gender and number; illogically and ungrammatically applied pronouns which sometimes have no referent; and predicates which in rhymed passages are often remote from the subjects... To sum up, more than one hundred Qur'anic aberrations from the normal rules and structure of Arabic have been noted." (Dashti, 23 Years, pgs.48-50)