An interesting feature of the Quran is that it replies to its critics as to its origin. That is, no one has yet come up with a suggestion as to where this book came from which is not commented on within the book itself.
In fact, the new Catholic Encyclopedia, under the heading Quran, mentiones that over the centuries there had been many theories as to where this book came from. Their conclusion: today, no sensible person believes any of these theories. This leaves the Christians in some difficulty. You see, all the theories suggested so far, according to this encyclopedia, are not really acceptable to anyone sensible today. They are too fantastic.
Where did the book come from? Those who have not really examined the Quran usually dismissed it as being, as they say, a collection of proverbs or aphorisms, sayings that one man used to announce from time to time. The imagined that there was a man who, from time to time during the day, will think of some witty little sayings and split it out and those around him will quickly write it down and eventually these were all collected and became the Quran.
Those who read the Quran wil find that it is not anything like that al all. The collection of things said by the Prophet is the subject and the content of the Hadith. But the subjects and contents of the Quran are all in a form of a composition and explanation. I cite as an example the chapter, Yusuf, which is an entire story in great detail about one particular episode or one portion of the life of one man. It is a composition.
It is for the this reason that virtually all those who have actually examined the Quran usually refer to it as being the product of the authorship as attributed to Muhammad and his co-adjudicators. These were supposed to be people who would sit with him and composed the Quran. You see, they imagined that the Quran was composed by a committee.
They acknowledged that there was too much information and it was too well composed for one man to have assembled. So, they imagined that a committee of men used to meet regularly, brought their various sources of information, composed something and then handed to this man and told him, ‘Go to the people tomorrow, this is your revelation’. In other words, it was a fraud concocted by a group of people. But what do we know about fraud? The Quran reminds us as it says:
‘Say, now the truth has come, and falsehood neither invents anything nor restores anything’. (34: 49)
It is hard to translate it to English precisely, but what this verse is telling us is that falsehood is not the source of a new thing. A new and truthful things cannot come from falsehood and falsehood does not restore, to our minds, the facts. Truth is in agreement with facts. Falsehood is something else. So, falsehood is empty. If something is born in fraud, it will never bring us new information. It will never endure; it will only collapse over a period of time.
Another interesting verse is a challenge which is addressed to those non-believers. It reads:
‘Have they not considered the Quran, if it came, other than Allah, surely they will fine in it many inconsistencies’. (4: 82)
Here, is a challenge to the reader. If you think you have an explanation where this book came from, have another look at the book. Surely you will be able to uncover some inconsistencies to support your case.
Imagine a student submitting a term paper or a final exam and then writing at the bottom of the page a note to his teacher: ‘You will fine no mistakes in this paper. There are no mistakes on this exam’. Can you imagine the teacher letting that rest? The teacher would probably not sleep until uncovering some inconsistency after a challenge like that. It is not the way human being speaks. They do not offer challenges like that. But here we have it in the Quran, a direct challenge saying: ‘If you have a better idea as to where this book came from, here’s all you need to do. Find some inconsistencies’.
There are critics who make the attempt, critics who try to say the Quran contains inconsistencies. A publication that came to my attention recently suggested that the Quran was contradictory on the the subject of marriage, because in one place, it says: ‘Don’t marry more than one wife unless you can provided for them all’, and in another place it says: ‘Don’t marry more than four’. They see this as a contradiction. What they have is a counter-distinction. In one case, the qualification for marrying more than one has been given. In the other case, a limitation on how many may be married is given. There is no contradiction.
Critics are too quick to grab hold of something, give it an interpretation, and then offer it as an excuse to escape the reality of this document.
For critics who would attack the Quran and insist it contains mistakes, we can use the same method as in our reply to Christians who claim that Jesus is on record as claiming to be equal to God. Remember the three categories of evidence offered. The evidence offered was insufficient, ambiguous or impossible.
You see, if someone cites a verse from the Quran, trying to show that is is a mistakes, we only need to show that the verse cited is insufficient to establish that there is a mistake or we need to show that the verse cited has other meanings than the one given by the critic or we can demonstrate that the verse cited cannot possibly have the interpretation which the critic is giving it. It will always fall into one of these three categories.
1. Attributing it to the Devil. I had the experience, on one occasion, describing some of the contents in the Quran to a man who did not know the book I was talking about. He sat next to me, with the cover turn over. I just told him about the book, what it contained and told him it was not the Bible. His conclusion was, the book was miraculous. This man was a minister in a Christian Church. He said, ‘Yes, this book could not possibly have originated with the man and therefore it must came from the devil, because it’s not the Bible’.
The Quran comments on this suggestion in chapter twenty-six, verse two-hundred and eleven, as to those who would suggest that the book came from the devil. It points out that it does not quiet suit him, does it? Is this how the devil misleads people? He tells them, worship none but God, he insists that they fast, that they practice charity. Is this how the devil misleads people?
Compare the attitude of someone like this, to the attitude of the Jews who knew Jesus and opposed him until the very end. There is an episode reported in the Bible where Jesus raised a man from the dead, one Lazarus, who had been dead for four days. When Lazarus came out of the tomb, alive again, those Jews who were watching, what did they do? Did they suddenly say that this man is a true prophet and become believers? No, the Bible says they immediately discussed among themselves that ‘since this man is working on his signs soon everyone will believe in him. We've got to find a way to kill him’, and they attributed his miraculous powers to the devil. He raised that man by the power of the devil.
Now, the Christians who read that episode will feel very sorry for those Jews who had clear evidence right before their very eyes and attributed the miracles to the devil. Does it not appear that they may be doing the same thing when we illustrate what we have in the Quran and their final excuse is only: ‘It originated with the devil’.
2. A Different Story. There are those who insist that the Quran was copied, that it originated in Christian and Jewish sources. As a matter of fact, a book published in recent years called Worshipping the Wrong God has stated, as though it were a fact, that after the first revelation of the Quran came to Muhammad, peace be upon him, that his wife died and so he quickly married a Jew and a Christian, and this is where he drew the rest of his sources for his book.
Well, they have the facts partly right. It was ten years after the first revelation of the Quran that his wife died, and it was another ten years after that when the Quran was virtually completed that he married a Jew and a Christian.
Did he copy from Jewish and Christian sources? In the Quran, the ruler of
who opposed Moses is known as
Firaun, nor Pharaoh. The Jews and
Christians have always said Pharaoh.
It is easy for an Arab to say Pharaoh.
But in the Quran, it is Firaun, with
an n. Why? Surely the Jews and the
Christians who surrounded the Muslim community must have teast them about that
and said: ‘You’ve got the word wrong.
It’s Pharaoh and not Firaun’. But they insisted on it and it continues the
way in the Quran, Firaun. Egypt
As it happens, the historical writings of Herodotus, the Greek historian, exist to this day, and Herodotus comments on the ruler of
, being in his day and in the
centuries before him, one man who went by the title of Firaun. Egypt
Did the book copy from the Christians sources? The Quran insist that Jesus was not crucified, that this was only an illusion, but that the Jews who thought they crucified Jesus were mistaken because it was not really so, Christians would have no part of that. As it happens, the idea that Jesus was not really crucified is really very ancient and can be traced back to the first century. But Christians who believed that were eliminated as heretics within the first two-hundred years after the time of Jesus and they were not teaching this doctrine anywhere around the
Arabian Peninsula fourteen centuries
Could the author of the Quran have been copying from Christian sources when he says that Jesus spoke to man as a babe (3: 46) and in later life? The Arabic word used indicates that he was still speaking to man and teaching to them in his forties. The Christians have always maintained that Jesus was gone by the time he was thirty-three. It indicates that there should have been no copying. In fact, a man would have to be stubborn and insist on the points as explained in the Quran in the face of Christian opposition who would have said: ‘No! No! It wasn't like that. We tell the story differently’.
3. House Cleaning. Now we go to the words of the prophets themselves, which represent another path that leads to Islam. In the Persian scriptures, which have been around for thousands of years, we read:
‘When the Persians should sink so low in morality, a man will be born in Arabic whose followers will upset their throne, religion and everything. The mighty stiff-necked ones will be overpowered. The house which was was built and in which many idols have been placed will be purged of idols and people will say their prayers facing towards it. His followers will capture the towns of the Farsi, Entaus and
and other big places round about. People will embroil with one another. The
wise men of Balkh
and others will join his followers’. (Desature no. 14) Persia
The Muslims recognise this very quickly because the Kaabah, the building which all Muslim face in prayers everyday, was at one time filled with idols and it was part of the mission of Muhammad, peace be upon him, to purge the house of idols. They were destroyed and the house sits there cleansed of idols till today. It was in the next generation, after the time of the Prophet that the wise men of
and others did join his followers. Persia