Archive for the ‘Koran’ Category

The Eaten Verse of the Quran – A Shia Fabrication?

September 8, 2013

I recently had an interesting exchange with a Muslim who insisted that the Quran has been perfectly preserved. I pointed out that according to at least one hadith, one verse of the Quran was eaten. The Muslim responded that I should not believe what he claimed was a Shia fabrication.

The relevant hadith can be found in one of the six major Sunni collections of Hadith:

It was narrated that ‘Aishah said: “The Verse of stoning and of breastfeeding an adult ten times was revealed, and the paper was with me under my pillow. When the Messenger of Allah died, we were preoccupied with his death, and a tame sheep came in and ate it.”

Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 3, Book 9, Hadith 1944 (Arabic reference: Book 9, Hadith 2020). The copy of Ibn Majah I used has designated this as a “good” (Hasan) hadith (see here).

Essentially the same story can also be found cited this way:

[Narrated ‘Aisha] “The verse of the stoning and of suckling an adult ten times were revealed, and they were (written) on a paper and kept under my bed. When the messenger of Allah expired and we were preoccupied with his death, a goat entered and ate away the paper.”
Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal. vol. 6. p. 269; Sunan Ibn Majah, p. 626; Ibn Qutbah, Tawil Mukhtalafi ‘l-Hadith (Cairo: Maktaba al-Kulliyat al-Azhariyya. 1966) p. 310; As-Suyuti, ad-Durru ‘l-Manthur, vol. 2. p. 13

I found it cited that way, interestingly enough, in a web page that appears to be Shi’ite, criticizing the Sunnis for their adherence to ahadith. The page argues:

It needs no great intelligence to see that this theory of abrogation of recital cannot be of any use in such cases. If a surah or verse was recited in the life of the Prophet and then it was lost either because the reciters were killed in a battle, or because a goat devoured it or for any other reason, then the question arises: Who had the right to abrogate a Qur’anic verse after the Prophet’s death? Had any other prophet come after Muhammad (peace be on him and his progeny)? That is why Sayyid al-Khu’i has said, “It is clear that the theory of abrogation of recital (naskhu ‘t-tilawah) is exactly the same as belief in alteration in and omission from the Qur’an.”
Therefore we have to strictly adhere to the well established principle that any hadith going against the Qur’an must be discarded and ‘thrown to the wall’ – if it cannot be reinterpreted in an acceptable way.  


One downside of this particular Shi’ite approach to the hadith material is that the person will never be able to persuaded by the historical evidence that demonstrates that the Qur’an has not been perfectly preserved.

Moreover, the Shi’ite argument cited above presumes that the Qur’an was in a fixed form by the death of Mohammed.  That assumption, however, is open to question.  There are good reasons (such as the very hadith mentioned above) to believe that the Qur’an was not in an assembled form at least until Abu Bak’r recognized the danger arising from the fact that so many reciters of the Qur’an had died in battle during the battle of Yamama.  Moreover, there is reason to believe that the form of the Qur’an created by the first caliph (Abu Bak’r) is not necessarily the same form as that provided by Uthman (the third caliph).



What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Qur’an, by James White – a Review

May 15, 2013

With great pleasure, I recently read my friend James White’s book, “What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Qur’an,” published by Bethany House Publishers. It may be helpful to begin by clarifying what the book is not, then identifying what I liked about the book.

The book is not “what every Christian needs to know about Islam.” While understanding the Qur’an is probably the central part of understanding Islam, this book is narrowly focused on the Qur’an. You won’t find extensive discussion of all the different schools of Islamic thought, all the different sects and sub-sects of Islam, or discussion of the behavior of Muslims in various countries, except to the extent it is relevant to the topic at hand.

The book is not “what every Muslim needs to know about the Qur’an.” While there are some sections that will be particularly helpful for a Muslim seeker who is trying to understand why he should be Jesus’ disciple, rather than Mohammad’s, this book is not written primarily to Muslims but to Christians.

The book is not “everything there is to know about the Qur’an.” While there is in-depth analysis of a number of passages of the Qur’an, and there is a variety of overview material, much of the Qur’an is not discussed in detail.

The book is not “what every Christian needs to know about the Hadith/Sunnah.” While a number of important ahadith are discussed in the book, the various collections of hadith cover numerous topics besides the Qur’an and are the basis for the Sunnah, which includes plenty of things that are extra-quarranic.

The book is not “what every Christian needs to know about Arabic.” While a number of Arabic words are used, with the exception of one illustration, I believe they are all given in a Romanized form. Moreover, the number of Arabic words is really dictated by the fact that the words tend to have a technical meaning in connection with Islam, and are not necessarily considered translatable by Muslims. There is a helpful glossary at the back of the book for some important terms and phrases, and other terms and phrases are explained in the text itself.

The book is not “the Qur’an for dummies,” “Qur’an 101,” “what most people already know about the Qur’an” or the like. While there is some overview material, the book aims to educate Christians and elevate their knowledge of the subject.

The book is not “The most sensational and shocking aspects of Islam or the life of Mohammad.” While such books may have their place, this book is not in that category. If there are materials that will shock or offend Muslims in this book, they are not being presented simply for that shock value.

From my standpoint, the high point of the book was chapter 4, which deals with the Qur’an and the Trinity. In my view, the Qur’an’s treatment of the Trinity is one of the fatal flaws of Islam. Dr. White does a masterful job of proving from the Qur’an and other early Islamic sources that the author of the Qur’an did not correctly understand the Trinity, which demonstrates that the purported authorship of the Qur’an cannot be the true authorship.

Two other chapters I expect Christians will find useful are chapter 10, which deals with the sources and parallel passages in the Qur’an and chapter 11, which deals with the textual transmission of the Qur’an. Chapter 10 could have been two chapters – one on the sources that the Qur’an draws on, and one on the parallel passages in the Qur’an. The section on the sources illuminates the fact that Qur’an draws on a variety of pre-Islamic sources that are unreliable Jewish or heretical legend.

The other section of chapter 10 deals with parallel passages in the Qur’an. This section is not just interesting from the standpoint of highlighting some of the inconsistencies in the Qur’an, but is also interesting from the standpoint of providing rebuttal material when dealing with Muslim criticisms of the Gospels. After all, while there may be differences between Matthew’s account and Mark’s account of a given event, the Qur’an (in a single work) has differing accounts of the same events.

Chapter 11 is similarly useful in terms of providing rebuttal material to the oft-repeated allegation that the Qur’an has been perfectly preserved. The chapter illustrates that such a claim is undermined by the historical evidence we have, much of it from an Islamic perspective, but also from the earliest major Christian interactions with Islam.

I did scour the book to see if there were things in it with which I would disagree. The few things with which I would disagree are basically trivial points that don’t deal with the substance. Let me address the biggest point of disagreement, to illustrate how small the disagreement is. I agree with Dr. White that one possible basis for Muhammad’s misconceptions regarding the Trinity are the idols that were growing in acceptance in the churches in Mohammad’s region during his lifetime. In particular, he probably saw professed Christians who carried images of Mary and Jesus with them, or saw such images installed in churches. However, I would not expect that the images would be statuary in 7th century middle-eastern churches (more likely paintings, tapestries, or similar flat portrayals), nor do I expect that there were any crucifixes (crosses, yes, but not crucifixes), and I think it is unlikely any of them would have any purported likeness of the Father creating world (presumably Dr. White has in mind the atrocity found on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel). (Cf. p. 87 of the book.) Keep in mind that all of this discussion is about a point on which Dr. White is not dogmatic (he phrases the matter in terms of speculation and as a mere possibility) and does not really matter for Dr. White’s argument (after all, Christian iconography probably did contribute to Mohammad’s errors). My other points of question or disagreement are even more trivial than this minor point and are definitely not worth mentioning. I would, however, hope that if any Muslim readers spot errors in the book they will bring them to my attention.

In conclusion, the book is a resource that I would recommend to anyone who plans to discuss things theological with their Muslim friends, relatives, or neighbors. The book is not “what every Muslim knows about the Qur’an,” and I think it is likely that your Muslim friends, relatives, or neighbors are unlikely to know all the material that is in this book. The book responds to a number of widely-held myths about or based on the Qur’an, and it is likely that Muslims you meet will have heard those misconceptions. Being prepared to talk with them may help you open the door to discussion of why they ought to be Jesus’ disciples, rather than (not “in addition to”) being the followers of Mohammad. This book is a valuable asset for such preparation.


In the interest of disclosure, I blog at Dr. White’s blog, in addition to being his friend.

Textual "Corruption" of the Quran

January 28, 2013

A very impressive presentation on the corruption of Quran may be found at this link (link to beginning of relevant section). This was much more detailed than any similar presentation I had seen before. The following is a brief outline:

1. Preservation of the Bible

[I will omit these points, which were things I already knew, but which are important.]

2. Preservation of the Qur’an
a. Hadith Demonstrates variation (Bukhari, v. 6, b. 60, n. 468; see also 6.60.467 and Muslim 4.1799-1802).
b. al-NAdim’s catalog of books (4th Islamic century) included early literature on the discrepencies among Quranic manuscripts (the presentation lists 7 books from the catalog).
c. Uthman’s destruction of the other Qurans (Bukhari, 6.61.510) and Abdullah ibn Masud’s resistance.
d. Four common versions of the Qur’an: The Qur’an According to Imam Hafs, The Qur’an According to Imam Warsh, The Qur’an According to Imam Qulan, and The Qur’an According to Imam al-Duri.
e. Example of difference between Warsh and Hafs at 21:4 (“Say …” vs. “He said …”)
f. Example of difference between Warsh and Hafs at 3:146 (“fought” vs. “was killed”)
g. Quran showing the differences among the ten major versions in the margin.
h. Between two versions of the Quran (he didn’t specify which two), there are 1354 differences.
i. The Bismallah – Hafs says it is a verse of the Quran, but Warsh says it is just part of the title (appears 113 times, and has 4 words, for a total of 452 words difference).
j. Analysis of the Chain of Narration (Isnad) for the Hafs Quran, but that chain is not historically possible, because Abdullah ibn Masud rejected the Uthman Qur’an.

3. The Qur’an’s testimony to the Bible

[Some good points that I had heard before about how the Qur’an testifies to the reliability of the Bible.]

If anyone has Samuel Green’s written version of his presentation and his permission to post it on-line, I would love to be able to repost it here. Unfortunately, I do not know how to contact Mr. Green.


The Memorization of the Koran Argument

October 22, 2012

One of the more interesting arguments I’ve heard recently in favor of the idea that the Qur’an has been perfectly preserved is the argument that people have memorized the whole Qur’an, and that this has been done for many generations. Thus, even if all the physical Qur’ans were destroyed, the Qur’an would still be perfectly preserved.

This argument apparently has some intuitive appeal. There is something of a problem with this argument. Consider the counter-example of the memorization of the canon of Scripture.

It’s quite common in Christian schools (I have not done any formal study of this, but I believe it is quite common) for children to memorize the canon list of all the books of the Bible. Thus, numerous children can recite the books of the Bible, beginning from Genesis and ending at Revelation, sixty-six books in all.

This fact, however, does not mean that there have never been any canon questions or canon disputes. The practice of having children memorize the canon list is not something that started with the apostles. Thus, we cannot argue that it would have been impossible for anyone to add or subtract a book, because “every child knows that there are sixty-six books, and that they are called Genesis … Revelation.”

The same problem exists for Qur’an memorization. In order for this argument to have weight, someone needs to show that there was an early, widespread practice of memorizing the entire Qur’an.

On the contrary, the records we have suggest that the early memorizers of the Qur’an did not memorize it in its entirety, but rather in parts. For example:

‘Casualties were heavy among the Qurra’ of the Qur’an (i.e. those who knew the Quran by heart) on the day of the Battle of Yalmama, and I am afraid that more heavy casualties may take place among the Qurra’ on other battlefields, whereby a large part of the Qur’an may be lost.

(context and citation can be found here).

If there were many people who had the Qur’an entirely memorized in that time, it would seem impossible that “a large part of the Qur’an may be lost.” Therefore, assuming the testimony we quoted above is accurate, there were not many (if any) people who had the Qur’an entirely memorized in that time. Thus, the argument from Koranic memorization fails.


Does Allah Preserve His Words?

February 7, 2012

Since I am on James White’s blogging team, and am friends with him, I was sure to carefully read an article posted with the alarming title, “Exposing James White’s Deceit and Ignorance of Islamic Scripture,” from the “Calling Christians” website.

The title wasn’t supported by the body of the piece. “Deceit and Ignorance” turned out to be, at most, a difference of opinion between the author of the piece and my friend, Dr. White. The article begins thus:

In a recent twitter exchange with James White, I found him proposing such an absurd view of Islamic ‘aqidah that I simply had to write an article to correct his misinformation. In the field of academia, we try our best to uphold certain standards, however Alpha and Omega Ministries as missionary zealots don’t have to appeal to this high standard of intellectualism. So what exactly is James’ problem this time around? Let’s see:

[twitter post images here, in which Dr. White states: “How do you explain such texts as 5:47, 5:68, and 10:94 if you affirm (as you have) tahrif il-lafzi?”]

In essence, James White is appealing to the fallacious argument of appeal to ad ignorantium. Summarily, he’s trying to expound the concept that Muslims believe in a self contradicting tenet. This being, that in Islam, while we believe God’s word cannot become corrupted, we also believe that “God’s word” did come corrupt. For example, we say the Qur’an is the word of Allaah and therefore it cannot be changed or corrupted, yet in the same voice, supposedly we claim that the Injil and Tawrah, which are also the words of Allaah, have been altered. The terms which James is trying to use are, Tahrif ul Lafzi (corruption of written words) and Tahrif ul M’anavi (corruption of meaning).

What James White and his missionary zealot friends try to assert is that Muslims have not only a contradicting belief, but because of this belief it is the Qur’an which is wrong and the Bible is the true word of God.

There is a lot of baggage mixed in there, but the author of the piece is correct that we think that it is inconsistent to hold to the ideas that (1) Allah preserves his word, (2) the Old and New Testaments are the word of Allah, and (3) the Old and New Testaments are corrupt.

We are aware that the way Muslims attempt to hold these two ideas is by limiting (1) to simply saying that Allah preserves some portion (or all) of the Qur’an and/or by denying that the Old and New Testaments correspond to the Torah and Injeel.

This particular author begins his response, following the introduction above:

The Islamic belief is that God protects His revelations from becoming corrupt, altered and interfered with. In this regard, we do not hold the belief that God’s words can succumb to corruption, alteration and human interference.

Thus, this particular author has made a more general statement, akin to our (1) above.

The author continues:

Therefore we must correct James’ assertion that we believe God’s words can be corrupted by man, the Qur’an is clear that God would not allow this. It is the belief of all Muslims and if one did not know this belief (you now kn0w) that it is impermissible for a Muslim to believe that God’s words can become corrupted.

Clearly, the author has misunderstood Dr. White’s point. Dr. White was not arguing for corruption of God’s word, but simply noting a contradiction within Islamic views.

The author proceeds:

With that in mind what about the verses in the Qur’an which mention the corruption of the previous scriptures such as the Injil, Tawrah and Zabur?

The author then sets forth the basic gist of the points about corruption:

There are many verses in the Qur’an which indicate to us that God’s wahy (revelation) has been skewered by the hands of man, both literal words changes and contextual alterations (interpretations):

يُحَرِّ‌فُونَ الْكَلِمَ عَنْ مَوَاضِعِهِ ۙ وَنَسُوا حَظًّا مِمَّا ذُكِّرُ‌وا بِهِ ۚ وَلَا تَزَالُ تَطَّلِعُ عَلَىٰ خَائِنَةٍ مِنْهُمْ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا مِنْهُمْ ۖ فَاعْفُ عَنْهُمْ وَاصْفَحْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِي
They distort words from their [proper] usages and have forgotten a portion of that of which they were reminded. And you will still observe deceit among them, except a few of them. But pardon them and overlook [their misdeeds]. Indeed, Allah loves the doers of good. – Qur’an : 5 : 13.

وَإِنَّ مِنْهُمْ لَفَرِ‌يقًا يَلْوُونَ أَلْسِنَتَهُمْ بِالْكِتَابِ لِتَحْسَبُوهُ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَمَا هُوَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَيَقُولُونَ هُوَ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّـهِ وَمَا هُوَ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّـهِ وَيَقُولُونَ عَلَى اللَّـهِ الْكَذِبَ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ
And indeed, there is among them a party who alter the Scripture with their tongues so you may think it is from the Scripture, but it is not from the Scripture. And they say, “This is from Allah,” but it is not from Allah. And they speak untruth about Allah while they know. – Qur’an : 3 : 78.

مِنَ الَّذِينَ هَادُوا يُحَرِّ‌فُونَ الْكَلِمَ عَنْ مَوَاضِعِهِ وَيَقُولُونَ سَمِعْنَا وَعَصَيْنَا وَاسْمَعْ غَيْرَ‌ مُسْمَعٍ وَرَ‌اعِنَا لَيًّا بِأَلْسِنَتِهِمْ وَطَعْنًا فِي الدِّينِ ۚ وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ قَالُوا سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا وَاسْمَعْ وَانْظُرْ‌نَا لَكَانَ خَيْرً‌ا لَهُمْ وَأَقْوَمَ وَلَـٰكِنْ لَعَنَهُمُ اللَّـهُ بِكُفْرِ‌هِمْ فَلَا يُؤْمِنُونَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا
Among the Jews are those who distort words from their [proper] usages and say, “We hear and disobey” and “Hear but be not heard” and “Ra’ina,” twisting their tongues and defaming the religion. And if they had said [instead], “We hear and obey” and “Wait for us [to understand],” it would have been better for them and more suitable. But Allah has cursed them for their disbelief, so they believe not, except for a few. – Qur’an : 4 : 46.

We seemingly have arrived at a theological impasse. On one end, we read above that God would protect His revelations and now we’re reading that God’s revelations were altered by men, corrupted, their meanings and letters distorted. Yet, before we jump to conclusions, we have to analyse what we have attained so far:

(1) God’s words cannot become corrupted.
(2) God’s words did become corrupted.

There seems to be a clear disconnect here.

So far, the author seems to have provided a reasonable presentation of the position he is arguing against, although we would say “God’s word” rather than “God’s words.”

The author then attempts to identify a solution to the disconnect:

Something’s missing from this puzzle and we know what it is. Context. Did God’s word in itself become corrupted? And this is a question we must take seriously into consideration. What we see from the above verses is that there are two cases for God’s word apparently becoming corrupted:

(1) Interpretative alterations.
(2) Textual alterations.

With this in mind, let’s examine both cases.

We certainly have no objection to contextual consideration of the Qur’an, despite the seeming possible futility of applying a contextual method to what amounts to a posthumous topical collection of recalled sayings.

The author then posed the argument based on context:

It is true as we read from the Qur’aan: 5:13, 4:46, 3:78 that God’s revelations were reinterpreted. These interpretations followed the folly desires of men, in some areas to abrogate God’s law to suit material wants and desires, for power, even for illicit pleasures:

Their gist is that the Jews were habitually used to issuing religious edicts as desired by the people, either for the benefit of relatives or to satisfy their greed for money, property, influence, and recognition. This had become a common custom particularly in matters involving punishments that they would, if the crime was committed by an influential person, change the severe punishment of the Torah into an ordinary one. It is this behaviour, part of theirs which has been described in the first verse (41) in the following words: يُحَرِّ‌فُونَ الْكَلِمَ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَوَاضِعِهِ (They displace the words after their having been placed properly).

Now the people who were used to making the severe punishments of the Torah easy for their clients by changing them saw an opportunity for themselves whereby they could take such shady matters to the Holy Prophet {saw} and make him their judge or arbitrator. The dual advantage they saw in it was that they would reap the benefits of all easy and light rules of Islamic law, while at the same time, they would not have to commit the crime of altering the Torah. But, here too, they had their crookedness at work as they would hold on to their decision of taking their case to him until such time that they succeeded in finding out beforehand through some source or ruse as to the actual verdict which would be delivered in their case when presented. Then, if they found this verdict matching their wishes, they would make him their arbitrator and have him decide their case. If it happened to be contrary to their wishses, they would leave it at that.- Tafsir Maar’iful Qur’aan : Mufti Rafi Uthmani, pages 164- 165.

However, God did guard the message (risalah) of the revelations (wahy). God sent messengers, prophets to correct the wrong interpretations by these pseudo religious scholars:

إِذْ أَرْ‌سَلْنَا إِلَيْهِمُ اثْنَيْنِ فَكَذَّبُوهُمَا فَعَزَّزْنَا بِثَالِثٍ فَقَالُوا إِنَّا إِلَيْكُمْ مُرْ‌سَلُونَ
When We sent to them two but they denied them, so We strengthened them with a third, and they said, “Indeed, we are messengers to you.” – Qur’an : Suratul Yasin (36) : 14.

In fact, the New Testament, confirms that Messengers were sent to the people who tried to alter His message through new interpretations:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. – Bible : Matthew (23) : 37.

So as we can see, the Qur’an is correct, God did protect the meaning of His message, until newer revelation was sent. For example the Qur’an abrogates the Injil as the Injil abrogated the Tawrah, and if the case arose where persons were distorting the meaning of a scripture or Prophet’s message, we read that God sent apostles, messengers, Prophets in some instances to correct the people (see 36:14 above).

Regarding the author’s conclusion, the solution he is offering is a qualification on the protection of “until newer revelation was sent.” That solution is not actually found in the materials he has identified.  In other words, the context has not substantiated his charge.

It seems that (for part of the argument) the author is trying to argue that the Qur’an’s references to corruption relate to attempted corruption of the meaning, but that this attempted corruption was essentially ineffective.  This approach might make sense, but would imply that the meaning remains intact.  That solution implies that the Old and New Testaments are intact in their meaning (within the context of Dr. White’s criticism).

But the author of the article is not finished.  He continues:

However, now we’ve arrived at the crux of the matter, textual corruption. As Muslims we assert that God’s message is preserved by God (as seen above, contextually), but what about textually? We read earlier that God protects His message in totality, that is, textually and contextually (meanings, interpretations). However as Muslims, we also do say that we do not believe in the Old Testaments of the Jews and Christians nor do we believe in the New Testaments of the Christians as being valid, because we assert they are not the words of God. Since they are not the words of God, they can indeed become corrupted and God did not promise to guard the works of man, but only His words.

This is the approach mentioned above of denying that the Old and New Testaments correspond to the Torah and Injeel. But is this feasible? Let’s consider how the author of the article tries to defend this approach:

For example, in the case of the Old Testament, where missionary zealots such as Sam Shamoun and James White try to propose, that their Torah is the Torah from Allaah, we have to correct that appeal to ignorance. The Qur’an does not say that the Old Testament is the word of God, in fact, we read above (5:13) where the Qur’an calls the Torah/ Old Testament of the Jews and Christians as being interpolations from the tongues and minds of men. It is in this regard that the Islamic belief is not that God’s word was corrupted, but that people wrote words and then claimed them to be God’s:

فَوَيْلٌ لِلَّذِينَ يَكْتُبُونَ الْكِتَابَ بِأَيْدِيهِمْ ثُمَّ يَقُولُونَ هَـٰذَا مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّـهِ لِيَشْتَرُ‌وا بِهِ ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا ۖ فَوَيْلٌ لَهُمْ مِمَّا كَتَبَتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَوَيْلٌ لَهُمْ مِمَّا يَكْسِبُونَ
So woe to those who write the “scripture” with their own hands, then say, “This is from Allah,” in order to exchange it for a small price. Woe to them for what their hands have written and woe to them for what they earn. – Qur’an : Suratul Baqarah (2) : 79.

With that being said, we must come to the understanding that when the Qur’an says that the message became corrupted, that is textually, it refers to those who put aside God’s revelation and in its stead, replaced the void with their own sayings, beliefs and propaganda. One example is of the Christian New Testament. The Qur’an says that a scripture (Injil) was given to Jesus (Issa, may God be pleased with him):

وَقَفَّيْنَا عَلَىٰ آثَارِ‌هِمْ بِعِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْ‌يَمَ مُصَدِّقًا لِمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ التَّوْرَ‌اةِ ۖ وَآتَيْنَاهُ الْإِنْجِيلَ فِيهِ هُدًى وَنُورٌ‌ وَمُصَدِّقًا لِمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ التَّوْرَ‌اةِ وَهُدًى وَمَوْعِظَةً لِلْمُتَّقِي
And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming that which came before him in the Torah; and We gave him the Gospel, in which was guidance and light and confirming that which preceded it of the Torah as guidance and instruction for the righteous. – Qur’an : 5: 46.

However Christians by themselves prove the Islamic belief of textual corruption as displayed above:

(1) Muslims believe that Jesus (Issa, may God be pleased with him) was given a revelation by God called the Injil.
(2) Christians believe that inspired scripture about Jesus originated with the apostles of Christ.

Therefore the Christian argument in reality disproves itself.

As for the last argument, this argument is only relevant to the Gospels, not to the Torah or the Zabur (Psalter, book of Psalms). Moreover, this argument presupposes that it is true that the Injil was given as a revelation to Jesus. However, this assertion itself is not correct. Indeed, it is simply another error of Mohamed’s teaching.

This point is also something of a red herring. Even if there were a different book called the Injil that was allegedly given to Jesus, where has this been preserved at all? In other words, the situation is much worse for the Muslim who tries to avail himself of this particular argument. Instead of simply small textual variants in the New Testament, now the Muslim must account for the seeming complete destruction of the whole book and any record of its existence. After all, there is no record before Mohammed of any book given to Jesus.

There is a similar problem with respect to the argument about the Torah. So, the Muslim is claiming that the Torah which has been preserved is not the Torah referenced in the Qur’an. But then the lack of preservation is much worse than the Muslim has contended – the original Torah is completely gone if the one we have is not the original Torah but some new fake Torah.

Moreover, there is another problem, the Koran seems to suggest that the Torah and Injil are in the possession of the people of Mohammed’s day:

وَلَمَّا جَاءَهُمْ كِتَابٌ مِّنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ مُصَدِّقٌ لِّمَا مَعَهُمْ وَكَانُوا مِن قَبْلُ يَسْتَفْتِحُونَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُم مَّا عَرَفُوا كَفَرُوا بِهِ ۚ فَلَعْنَةُ اللَّهِ عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ And when there comes to them a Book from Allah, confirming what is with them,- although from of old they had prayed for victory against those without Faith,- when there comes to them that which they (should) have recognised, they refuse to believe in it but the curse of Allah is on those without Faith. Qur’an 2:89 (Yusuf Ali translation)

If the Torah and Injil are something that were with Christians and Jews in the 7th century, then they weren’t destroyed. Moreover, we know what the Old and New Testaments looked like in the 7th century – in fact we have even older copies than that.

So, it seems that the problem hasn’t really been addressed. But let’s consider how the author tries to wrap up this argument:

They have now failed on two fronts. Firstly, the premise that Muslims contradict themselves when they say the Bible is corrupted is proven false as we do not believe the Bible is the word of God. We don’t believe it is the word of God for namely two reasons:

(1) Christians assert it’s from the apostles and not from the Prophet Jesus (may God be pleased with him).
(2) Christians assert the revelation (wahy) isn’t revelation verbatim from God, which is what Muslims believe, but that the Bible is an inspired word from God, through the words of men.

Secondly, since they have made significant distinctions with what the Muslim concept of revelation is and what their scripture is actually comprised of, then they have shown that the Bible (New Testament) is not the Injil and as it follows, the Injil is not the Bible.

Most of this argument is already addressed above. Some people who call themselves Christians may not believe that the Bible is the very word of God, but verbal plenary inspiration is an important part of orthodox Christian belief. We do not believe that only the ideas but not the words are inspired. Our view of the mechanism of inspiration may differ from that of Muslims (we don’t believe that the words simply are spoken, as it were, in the ears of the prophets), but that difference seems to be irrelevant to this particular argument.

The author of the article then provides a section designated as “conclusion”:

Therefore, we must come to a logical conclusion. When missionary zealots such as Sam Shamoun and James White, along with their propganda team at AI, state that the Qur’an is wrong for saying the Bible is corrupted because Muslims believe the word of God can’t be corrupted, we must educate them. It is in this light, that our response should be, as such:

  • Muslims believe the word of God cannot be corrupted.
  • We believe the Bible is corrupted because it is not the word of God.

We do not believe it is the word of God because:

  • Christians do not believe the Bible is the verbatim word of God, but inspired ideas from God through the words of men.

In conclusion:

  • Therefore the Bible is corrupted because it is not the word of God and as such Muslims do not believe in it.

What was wrong with James White’s missionary belief, is that they think the Bible is the word of God and therefore we should accept this belief and as a consequence adhere to it, however as displayed above they don’t believe in the kind of scripture we do, they make a clear distinction between the Injil which we believe God revealed to Isa (Jesus, may God be pleased with him), while they believe in a scripture inspired by God, worded by the minds of men, which manifested after Jesus had walked the earth.

May God guide those who appeal to the fallacy of ad ignorantium.

As noted above, however, this doesn’t really solve the problem – it just makes it worse. The Torah and Injil are now not merely somehow obscured through textual variation, but instead are completely destroyed. Under this theory, they are preserved much worse than if the Old and New Testaments are the Torah and Injil.

Moreover, there is no good argument provided for the assertion that the Torah and Injil do not correspond to Old and New Testament. Regarding the Injil, the argument that it cannot be the New Testament because of the mode of transmission (a) makes the problem even worse for the Muslim and (b) assumes both the reliability of the Qur’an on this point and the reliability of Christian accounts of how the gospels were given.

As for the fallacy of ad ignorantium, it has not been substantiated by the author of the article, and so we may leave our response at that.


Does Allah Commit Shirk by Inappropriate Swearing?

November 7, 2011

David Wood has a video in which he makes the point that using Muslim standards, Allah himself would be guilty of the Islamic sin of shirk:

I would like to add a brief further point. People normally swear by something greater than themselves. Thus, because there is nothing greater than God, the true God swore by himself: Hebrews 6:13-16 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, saying, “Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.” And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. But Allah in the Koran repeatedly swears by lots of other things. May I encourage my Muslim friends to consider that perhaps this is evidence that the Allah of the Koran is not real, for if he were real he would swear only by himself. -TurretinFan

Flat Earth in the Koran

September 9, 2011

I’m not a fan of most of the arguments that the Koran teaches that the earth is flat, because most rely on descriptions that can simply be understood as metaphors, analogies, or explaining things in human terms.  There is an exception:

And they ask you, [O Muhammad], about Dhul-Qarnayn. Say, “I will recite to you about him a report.” Indeed We established him upon the earth, and We gave him to everything a way. So he followed a way until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it [as if] setting in a spring of dark mud, and he found near it a people. Allah said, “O Dhul-Qarnayn, either you punish [them] or else adopt among them [a way of] goodness.” He said, “As for one who wrongs, we will punish him. Then he will be returned to his Lord, and He will punish him with a terrible punishment. But as for one who believes and does righteousness, he will have a reward of Paradise, and we will speak to him from our command with ease.” Then he followed a way until, when he came to the rising of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had not made against it any shield. Thus. And We had encompassed [all] that he had in knowledge.

That is the Sahih International translation of Surah 18:83-90.

This passage of the Koran makes it look as though the author thinks that the sun sets in a particular part of the world, a place where there is a spring of dark mud, and that there are people who live in that place.  Likewise, there is a place where the sun rises, and the people there don’t have a shield from the sun.

Is there some way that this passage can be reasonably understood not to mean what it appears to mean?  I welcome explanations from Muslims in the comment box. 


Just as Expected …

April 2, 2011

I wish this were only a April 1st hoax, but sadly Muslims have killed completely innocent men in retaliation for the burning of a Koran on another continent (link). And, of course, Muslims were the first to burn the Koran (apparently), as explained in the following video which, though a little tongue-in-cheek, also has a serious point:


"Messiah" in the Koran

July 2, 2010

A recent dialog with a Muslim on the Internet led to the Muslim claiming that Jesus was just “a Christ.” He wanted to argue that Mohamed is also a Christ.

[3:45] The angels said, “O Mary, GOD gives you good news: a Word from Him whose name is `The Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary. He will be prominent in this life and in the Hereafter, and one of those closest to Me.’ (cf. here)

[4:157] And for claiming that they killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of GOD. In fact, they never killed him, they never crucified him – they were made to think that they did. All factions who are disputing in this matter are full of doubt concerning this issue. They possess no knowledge; they only conjecture. For certain, they never killed him. (cf. here)

[4:171] O people of the scripture, do not transgress the limits of your religion, and do not say about GOD except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was a messenger of GOD, and His word that He had sent to Mary, and a revelation from Him. Therefore, you shall believe in GOD and His messengers. You shall not say, “Trinity.” You shall refrain from this for your own good. GOD is only one god. Be He glorified; He is much too glorious to have a son. To Him belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. GOD suffices as Lord and Master. (cf. here)

[4:172] The Messiah would never disdain from being a servant of GOD, nor would the closest angels. Those who disdain from worshipping Him, and are too arrogant to submit, He will summon them all before Him. (cf. here)

Those of us who are Christians confess with Simon Peter:

Mathew 16:16 And Simon Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus Christ approved of this confession of faith, thus:

Matthew 16:17-19
And Jesus answered and said unto him, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

But even after Jesus approved of this, because it was such a significant title, he instructed his disciples to keep that fact hidden:

Matthew 16:20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

But it did leak out, and eventually Jesus was called before the Jewish authorities to answer for this claim:

Matthew 26:63 But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.

Jesus accepted this again:

Matthew 26:64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

And consequently, the unbelieving Jews charged Jesus with blasphemy, failing to recognize that Jesus was really Christ and the Son of God, as he claimed:

Matthew 26:65-68
Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye?
They answered and said, He is guilty of death.
Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?

The Koran refers to Jesus as the Masih which is a cognate to the Hebrew word that we express as “Messiah,” for which “Christ” is the translation. The Koran even recognizes that Jesus is not simply “a Christ” but “the Christ.” But the Koran does not understand that this title of “the Christ” is something that belongs to the Son of God – that there is a connection between the Christ and being the very Son of God.

May those who read the Koran and see this expression “the Messiah” look back to the Bible which came before and see what it meant for Jesus to be the Christ, and when you see what it says, turn from following Mohamed to following Jesus – put your trust in the Messiah of God.

– TurretinFan

Allah said it?

September 15, 2009

Muslims sometimes (see footnote 1) make the claim:

We should read the Quran believing this is Allah speaking to us, because that is what it is. It is Allah talking to us directly.



Islam is unique among the Abrahamic religions in its understanding of sacred scripture. While the Hebrew and Christian scriptures contain an occasional direct quotation by the divinity (e.g., “And I heard the voice of the L-rd, saying, . . . ‘ Isaiah 6.8; “but [the Lord] said to me, . . . “ Galatians 12.9), these scriptures contain primarily narration, poetry, wisdom, sermon, instruction and epistle written in the third person. Only the Glorious Qur’an consists entirely of Allah speaking for himself in the first person. This direct identification of the Arabic words of the Qur’an with Allah has profound implications for communication and rhetoric in the Islamic world.


This kind of claims create serious problems from the very start of the Koran. Recall that the Koran begins with a chapter called “Al-Fatiha” (The Opening).

That chapter includes the following verse:

إِيَّاك نَعْبُدُ وإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِين

The translation of this is: “You alone we worship, and You alone we ask for help”

Everyone who reads this recognizes that there are essentially two options:

1) These are the words of a man worshiping Allah; or

2) These are the words of Allah worshiping someone else.

Given the rest of Islamic theology (2) is wrong, and consequently (1) is really the only option. But if (1) is the option, then this is not the literal words of Allah, but the words of someone speaking to Allah. You might think (see footnote 2) that this would be readily admitted by everyone, but surprisingly I have observed this issue be disputed. The response given was “you can see it’s a prayer, you can see it’s a prayer,” which is not really a matter of any dispute.

It is alleged (though I have not been able to find confirmation of this) that some copies of the Koran inserted the word “say” at the beginning of this chapter, so that the words would be Allah’s words telling people how to praise him. No “say,” however, is found in the most popular edition of the Koran today.

It is also alleged that the entire surah “Al-Fatiha” (the Opening) is a later (yet pre-Uthmanic) addition to the Koran. Even if we left out “Al-Fatiha” from our consideration, one does find “Allah” speaking in the third person (not just the first person) in other places in the Koran, such as:

From Surah 2, “The Cow,”
243 Have you not considered those who went forth from their homes, for fear of death, and they were thousands, then Allah said to them, Die; again He gave them life; most surely Allah is Gracious to people, but most people are not grateful.

The Bible is superior to the Koran in many ways. One way is that it teaches that prophecy does not have its origins in man’s will, but yet it is the product of men speaking. As Scripture says:

2 Peter 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Where is any teaching like that in the Koran? Where is a proper understanding of the way by which God’s revelation is conveyed through the prophets?


Footnote 1: There are a very large number of Muslims. Some say 1 billion. There is simply no way that the positions identified above are held by all 1 billion of them.

Footnote 2: Most of the usual readers of my blog are not Muslims.

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