The following discussion has been
taken from the course forum (History of Qur’an) of studying Islam (www.studying-islam.org)
one of our sister sites. While Jhangeer Hanif is the moderator of this
discussion, Siddiq Bukhary has compiled it for publication in the journal.
qazi123: A Muslim might not have
any doubts about what is mentioned in the Qur’an that it has been compiled by
the Prophet (sws) himself in his life time under guidance of the Almighty. How
would a non-Muslim believe in it? According to the rules of logic, the veracity
of a claim about the authenticity of a book must be verified by something based
on direct observation or mutawatir reports. For example, the Prophet (sws) was
al-Sadiq, al-Amin. This was verified by all the people at that time. If only the
Prophet (sws) himself would have said that he was honest and trustworthy then
his claim would not have had that significance. Similarly, a non-Muslim would
argue that how could we be sure of the authenticity of book for which only
internal evidence is available.
student1: Before presenting my
views on your post, I would appreciate if you let me know whether you want me to
present my views on all the aspects of the Qur’an or just on the compilation of
qazi123: Please let me see your
opinion on all the aspects of the Qur’an. I would appreciate it.
student1: I do agree with you
that it is quite difficult to convince non-Muslims regarding the authenticity of
the Qur’an since they don’t believe in what the text of this Holy Book says, and
look for external evidences which could prove its authenticity.
According to my knowledge and
understanding, non-Muslims could be convinced about the authenticity and
reliability of the Qur’an by drawing their attention to the previous
revelations, if they are Christians and Jews.
It is well known that Bible does
not exist in its original form since it was corrupted and distorted but still
there are several uncorrupted verses in it which are in clear harmony with the
Qur’anic verses and no contradiction exist among them. If the Qur’an would not
have been the word of Allah, then there would not have been any harmony between
the verses of the Qur’an and the uncorrupted and original verses of the previous
revelations. If you read some original verses of the Bible, you will see that
the message contained in them is quiet similar to the messages of the Qur’anic
verses. From the time, when Prophet Adam (sws) first set his foot on the earth
till the advent of the Prophet Muhammad (sws), many Prophets came, and they
delivered the same messages from Allah irrespective of time, place and
civilization, the Qur’an is the continuation of the previous revelation. If the
Qur’an would have not been from Allah, then definitely there would have been
great contradictions between the original verses of the Bible and the Qur’an.
Another reasoning that you could
present to convince non-Muslims especially atheists about the authenticity of
the Qur’an is to draw their attention to some scientific facts of the Qur’an
which were recently discovered by the modern scientific research.
You should ask non-Muslims
especially atheists that if the Qur’an is not the word of Allah, and if its
authenticity is doubtful, then how come all the scientific facts present in the
Qur’an are coming true?
qazi123: Thank you very much for
your reply. It is very clear. There is no doubt about the veracity of the claims
in the Holy Qur’an whether it is regarding the scientific facts or regarding the
prophecies (e.g. in surah al-Rum). The Holy Qur’an is a book which has this
amazing ability to change people’s lives forever. The reason is that besides
other things, the Holy Qur’an asks questions that are so fundamental and
important. These questions are so intriguing to the human mind that they are
bent upon to ponder over them. For example:
Who are you?
Where did you come from?
Who created you?
What is the purpose of your
Who is behind the wonderful body
that you have?
Who designed your eyes?
What do you believe in?
Do you believe in something
merely because your parents did so?
Reflect on yourself and on the
other creations so that you can acknowledge the supreme wisdom behind these
things. The Holy Qur’an is a book which perfectly solves all the puzzles and
mysteries of life. By Allah’s grace, I can argue on the authenticity of the Holy
Qur’an on the basis of the internal evidence that abounds in this book. What I
am looking for is external evidence.
Jhangeer Hanif: I would like to
say something about the arguments you have presented regarding the authenticity
of the Qur’an. Please correct me if I have not correctly understood your stance.
first argument is that the Holy Qur’an is the continuation of the message which
Allah gave to mankind through all previous Prophets (sws). If this Book had been
from someone other than Allah, there would have been inconsistency in the
exactly what goes against the Holy Qur’an in the view of orientlists. They say
that Muhammad (sws) has forged this message by copying it from the Bible. They
present the well known Hadith, which says that the Holy Prophet (sws) met with
an ascetic on his tour to Syria. Hence the Qur’an was the outcome of this
meeting, and other possible contacts with Jews and Christians.
second argument is that the Holy Qur’an contains many scientific truths which
have only been discovered by scientists in recent times whereas these have been
foretold by the Qur’an hundreds of years ago. I’d advise you to please go
through the Greek philosophical hypotheses, which were presented many hundreds
years even before the Holy Qur’an. You’d be surprised to see that these
hypotheses have remarkably been found true.
student1: There might be a Hadith
which claims that Prophet (sws) has copied the message from the Bible but one
has to find out how authentic this Hadith is? According to some historical
sources, the Prophet (sws) had a very limited interaction with Jews and
Christians. Since he used to remain in the company of his close and prominent
companions, how could he make an entire Qur’an by borrowing text from the Bible
in such a limited time of access and interaction with the Christians?
It is also well known that
Christian Missionaries used to visit the Prophet (sws) in Madinah to have a
debate with him, and according to my knowledge, they did not raise this issue in
front of the Prophet (sws) and his Companions.
This claim of the orientalists is
not strong enough to convince us due to the fact that there are some questions
which they should answer before trying to convince us about their claim.
1. Why is it that in spite of the
abundance of historical material on Muhammad’s (sws) life, and in spite of
extensive research on his life for centuries by his severe critics that it was
not possible to discover the mysterious teacher(s) through whom Muhammad (sws)
might have learned all that?
2. It is known that Muhammad (sws)
was opposed, ridiculed and persecuted for nearly 13 years by his own
contemporaries. In this scenario, was it not possible for them to prove to the
masses that Muhammad’s (sws) claim of revelation was sheer fabrication? Was it
not possible for them to reveal and name the person whom they alleged to be the
human source or sources of his teachings? Even some of his adversaries who had
made this assertion, changed their minds later on and accused him, instead, of
magic or being possessed by evil.
3. Muhammad (sws) was raised
among his people and every aspect of his life was exposed to them, especially by
the openness that characterizes tribal life in the desert. How could the
multitudes of his contemporaries, including many of his close relatives who knew
him so well believe in his truthfulness if they had any doubt that he was
claiming credit for ideas taught to him by some other teachers without bothering
to give them credit?
4. What kind of teacher might
have taught Muhammad (sws) a coherent and complete religion that changed the
face of history? Why didn’t he or they (if any) speak against the alleged
student who continued learning from them, while ignoring them and claiming some
other divine source for his teachings?
5. How could many Jews and
Christians amongst his contemporaries become Muslims, and believe in his
truthfulness if they knew that he was copying from their scriptures or learning
from their priests or rabbis?
6. The Qur’an was revealed over
the span of 23 years. Where then that was mysterious, perhaps invisible teacher
of Muhammad (sws)? How could he have hidden himself for so long? Or how could
Muhammad (sws) who was constantly surrounded by companions make frequent secret
visits to that mysterious teacher or teachers for 23 years without even being
So far none of the Orientalists
and Christian Missionaries have answered these questions.
For your second point, I should
tell you there were several predictions made by Nostradamas. Did all his
predictions come true?
And as far as the Greek
Philosophy is concerned, can you please give me a reference about their
philosophies which have come true so far?
qazi123: I think that as far as
the first question is concerned, I agree with student1.
Regarding the second question, I
have the following comments to make. In the Holy Qur’an, God said that if this
Book would have been from someone else you would have surely found many
contradictions in it. This is what is claimed in the Book of Allah. Though we
find mention of scientific facts in the Bible also some of which are true and
others are not true simply because Bible has been corrupted, and the Christians
themselves acknowledge it. The reason for corruption was that it was modified by
someone other than God. There have been philosophers whose prophecies have been
only partially correct like Pythagoras, Aristotle etc. The claim of the Qur’an
is that its adversaries should try to find just a single contradiction in the
book. So we need to acknowledge that the Holy Qur’an is talking about the
perfection in its contents regarding the predictions it made and the scientific
facts it has mentioned. No other book today can claim that.
Jhangeer Hanif: 1. All your
questions on my first comment revolve round one theme. You have said that,
according to some historical sources, the Prophet (sws) had very little contact
with Jews and the Christians. I would like to know what these sources are? Could
you quote some sentences?
2. It is not about the mysterious
teacher. It is about the knowledge prevalent in his surroundings. One possible
teacher has been hinted as Buhayrah. There is no denying that there were many
Jews and Christians in the Arabian Peninsula especially in Madinah.
3. I do not think that we can
deny that any genius person can develop a comprehensive “ism”, for example,
Toism, Shintoism and Confucianism. Even Pythagoras is reported to have laid down
principles for every day life – there is a list of do’s and don’ts. These
religions have affected the course of history too. Islam was somewhat more
successful, one may contend.
4. You may read the history of
Greek Philosophy in any book to find out what I say. As you have asked me, I
give you one example. Aristarchus of Samoa, it is reported, was the most
brilliant astronomer who flourished from 310 to 230 BC. It is this person who
put forth that all the planets, including the earth, revolve in circles round
the sun, and that the earth rotates on its axis once in twenty four hours.
I would like to ask quazi123:
Can you scientifically prove how
a person could live 900 hundred years? Can you scientifically prove how a person
could be born without a father?
qazi123: In the following lines,
I have written my comments:
1. It is not scientifically
impossible to show that people did have 900 years of age. There is an excellent
article which explains scientifically that people did have long ages (as long as
900 years) in olden days. Here is the link:
2. Though, I cannot prove
scientifically that a person could be born without a father but this has
important implications with regard to our understanding of events. I would like
to shed some light on events which today cannot be proven scientifically:
a. The Prophet Abraham (sws) was
thrust in fire and the fire did not harm him.
b. The Prophet Moses (sws) hit
his stick onto the floor and the stick turned into a snake.
c. The Prophet Moses (sws) struck
the sea with his stick and the sea was divided into two and a passage was
d. The Prophet Jesus (sws) could
give life to the dead.
e. The Prophet Jesus (sws) was
born without a biological father.
And there are many more events
which today we cannot prove scientifically. These events testify to the verses
of the Holy Qur’an which say that Allah sent Prophets to all nations and those
Prophets were only for those nations. These Prophets had to show to their people
some happenings which were beyond one’s imagination in order to prove the
veracity of their claims to the people of the nations to whom they were sent.
Since the Holy Prophet (sws) was sent as a Prophet for the entire mankind,
therefore he had to be given a miracle whose veracity could be established till
eternity, and hence he was given the miracle of the Holy Qur’an. The
responsibility of the protection of this book against corruption is taken by God
student1: I would like to present
my comments on the points raised by Jhangeer Hanif.
1. All historical records available show that Muhammad (sws)
had made only three trips outside Makkah before his Prophethood.
i. At the age of 9 he accompanied his mother to Madinah.
ii. Between the age of 9 and 12, he accompanied his uncle
Abu Talib on a business trip to Syria.
iii. At the age of 25 he led Khadijah’s caravan to Syria.
It is highly imaginary to assume that the Qur’an resulted
from the occasional chats and meetings with the Christians or Jews from any of
the above three trips.
2. I am sorry I can’t quote the sources and their
references to support my claim since I don’t have them with me. But I can
present some logical explanation to support my claim that Prophet (sws) did not
learn the Qur’an from the Jews and the Christians.
i. The day-to-day life of the Prophet (sws) was an open
book for all to see. In fact, a revelation came asking people to give the
Prophet (sws) privacy in his own home. If the Prophet (sws) had been meeting
Christians and Jews who told him what to say as a revelation from God, this
would not have been hidden for very long.
ii. The extremely prominent Quraysh nobles who followed
the Prophet (sws) and accepted Islam were wise and intelligent men who would
have easily noticed anything suspicious about the way in which the Prophet (sws)
brought the revelations to them.
iii. The enemies of the Prophet (sws) kept a close watch
on him in order to find proof for their claim that he was a liar. They could not
point out even a single instance when the Prophet (sws) may have had a secret
rendezvous with Jews and Christians.
iv. It is inconceivable that any human author of the
Qur’an would have accepted a situation in which he received no credit whatsoever
for originating the Qur’an.
Thus, it cannot be established logically that there was a
human source for the Qur’an.
3. It is true that there were Christians and Jews in the
Arabian Peninsula especially in Madinah, and they were present there even before
the arrival of Prophet(sws), but it does not prove that he took help from some
of these Christians and Jews to create a book like the Qur’an.
The notion that Muhammad (sws) authored the Qur’an or
copied from other sources can be disproved by the single historical fact that he
Allah testifies Himself in the Qur’an:
And you were not [able] to recite a Book before this [Book
came], nor were you [able] to transcribe it with thy right hand: in that case,
indeed, would the talkers of vanities have doubted. (29:48)
Allah knew that many would doubt the authenticity of the
Qur’an and would ascribe it to Prophet Muhammad (sws). Therefore, Allah in His
divine wisdom chose the last and final Messenger to be an ummi, i.e. unlettered,
so that the talkers of vanity would not then have the slightest justification to
doubt the Prophet (sws). The accusation of his enemies that he had copied the
Qur’an from other sources and rehashed it all in a beautiful language might have
carried some weight, but even this flimsy pretence has been deprived to the
unbeliever and the cynic. Allah reconfirms in the Qur’an:
Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered Prophet,
whom they find mentioned in their own [Scriptures] in the Law and the Gospel.
The prophecy of coming of the unlettered Prophet (sws) is
also mentioned in the Bible in the book of Isaiah:
And the book is delivered to him that is not learned.
Also it should be noted that Arabic version of the Bible
was not present at the time of Prophet Muhammad (sws). The earliest Arabic
version of the Old Testament is that of R. Saadias Gaon of 900 C.E. – more than
250 years after the death of our beloved Prophet (sws). The oldest Arabic
version of the new Testament was published by Erpenius in 1616 C.E. – about a
thousand years after the demise of our Prophet.
4. If they have designed any comprehensive “ism”, it does
not mean that these are 100 % precise and error-free whereas we know that the
Qur’an, the primary source of Islam, is a complete and a perfect source of
guidance for the entire mankind and does not contain any sort of error or
contradiction. If the Qur’an would have contained any sort of error or
contradiction then it would not have been challenging the unbelievers to bring
forth a book like it. I do not think a religion like Islam should be compared
with these man-made religions.