Those Are The High Fly­ing Cranes”

Ever since the pub­li­ca­tion by Viking/​Penguin in the sum­mer of 1998 of The Satan­ic Vers­es, by Salman Rushdie, inter­est in the ori­gin of those so-called Satan­ic Vers­es” was renewed. That episode, which was repeat­ed by a good num­ber of Mus­lim writ­ers, his­to­ri­ans and Qur’an­ic com­men­ta­tors (some accept­ing it, some reject­ing it, and yet, some oth­ers mod­i­fy­ing it) became a favourite top­ic of many Ori­en­tal­ists. It was called by one of them, Sir William Muir (the founder of the Muir Insti­tute for Ara­bic and Islam­ic Stud­ies at Edin­burgh Uni­ver­si­ty), the lapse” of Muham­mad, or the tem­po­rary con­ces­sion to Ara­bi­an poly­the­ism.1

But what is the ori­gin of that story ?

Part One

As men­tioned above, it is a sto­ry report­ed in a num­ber of Islam­ic sources. Al-Tabari, being the best-known Mus­lim exegete to men­tion it in both his his­to­ry and his com­men­tary, pro­vides a full cri­tique which will be giv­en here.

In his com­men­tary on verse 52 Chap­ter 22, he pro­vides the inter­pre­ta­tion of verse 52. Nev­er did we send an apos­tle or a prophet before you but when he framed a desire, Satan threw some (van­i­ty into his desire), but Allah will can­cel any­thing (vain that Satan throws in), and Allah will con­firm (and estab­lish) His signs, for Allah is full of knowl­edge and wis­dom.“2

    Ibn Ka’ab al-Quzari : When the Mes­sen­ger of Allah (SAW) real­ized how alien­at­ed the Qurayshites had become, and how intense­ly they had per­se­cut­ed his com­pan­ions, Muham­mad expressed the wish that a rev­e­la­tion would come so as to rec­on­cile his peo­ple, rather than fur­ther alien­ate them. When, one day, he was sit­ting with some Qurayshites in on of their club hous­es around the Ka’abah, he recit­ed to them the chap­ter of al-Najm”. After read­ing the verses :

    Would you con­sid­er al-Lat and al-Uzza ?
    As well as Man­at, the third god­dess­es ?3

    He con­tin­ued the recita­tion with the state­ment They are the god­dess­es on high. Their inter­ces­sion is wor­thy of being sought.”

    He, then, pro­ceed­ed with his read­ing of the Sura’ to the end. When he fin­ished, he pros­trat­ed him­self and all the attend­ing Qurayshites also pros­trat­ed. Sub­se­quent­ly, the Qurayshites pro­claimed their sat­is­fac­tion with what the Prophet had read and said, We have always known that Allah cre­ates and gives life, gives food and res­ur­rects. But our gods inter­cede for us with Him. Now that you have allowed for them a place in your new reli­gion, we are all with you.” Thus the dif­fer­ence between Muham­mad and the Qurayshites was dis­solved. When the news of this rec­on­cil­i­a­tion reached Abyssinia, the Mus­lims, who had migrat­ed there three months ear­li­er, decid­ed to return to their beloved coun­try and peo­ple. As they drew close to Mec­ca, they met some Kin­nanah tribes­men who informed them that Muham­mad allowed the gods a good place in his reli­gion, rec­on­ciled Quraysh, and was now fol­lowed by every­one. The nar­ra­tive has it that Muham­mad revert­ed to con­demn­ing those gods, and the Qurayshites revert­ed to per­se­cu­tion. The returnees stopped to con­sid­er what their next move should be ; how­ev­er, they missed their rel­a­tives and next-of-kin so much that they went ahead and entered Makkah. Then Jibreel came to the Prophet (SAW) and said to him, What did you do ? You recit­ed to peo­ple what I did not come to you with from Allah, and you said things which He did not say.” The Prophet was griev­ed and full of fear of Allah.

    Allah, who was ever mer­ci­ful to him, con­soled him, light­en­ing his bur­den and informed him that, when prophets and mes­sen­gers before him wished, as he wished, or liked some­thing as he did, Satan would throw in their wish­es, etc. Thus, Allah relieved His Prophet of his sor­row, strength­ened his con­fi­dence, and rec­ti­fied what Satan had put into his mouth (when the Prophet said of their god­dess­es that they are the high fly­ing cranes. And their inter­ces­sion is to be sought”) by say­ing con­cern­ing al-Lat, al-Uzza and Man­at How many so ever be the angels in the heav­ens, their inter­ces­sion will avail noth­ing, except after Allah has giv­en leave for whom he pleas­es, and that he is accept­able to Him.” The inter­ces­sion of these god­dess­es is there­fore of no avail.

    Once Allah rec­ti­fied the words put by Satan into the Prophet’s mouth, the Qurayshites said : Muham­mad renounced the impor­tance he assigned ear­li­er to our god­dess­es. And it so hap­pened that those two sen­tences con­cern­ing their god­dess­es became so much liked and repeat­ed by every poly­the­ist when they were rec­ti­fied by Allah that the poly­the­ists became more hos­tile than they were before.

This is the sto­ry of al-gha­raniq as giv­en by al-Tabari and repeat­ed late on by most of the com­men­ta­tors, the Prophet’s biog­ra­phers and traditionalists.

Part Two

Al-Tabari, from the var­i­ous author­i­ties he cites, makes it plain that the Prophet uttered these words con­cern­ing the god­dess­es.4 A few instances of the phrase he used var­i­ous­ly : Satan threw on his tongue : he [the Prophet] said : these high.…: he recit­ed to them : Satan threw in his recita­tion.…: and he went on recit­ing to them : etc. Through­out these nar­ra­tions con­cern­ing the account of the rev­e­la­tion of verse 52 and sub­se­quent in Chap­ter 22, Al-Tabari refers to the feel­ings of the Prophet and his wish that Allah would reveal to him vers­es either to rec­on­cile him with the Mec­ca­ns or paci­fy them.

When it came to defin­ing the verb taman­na (he hoped, or wished) Al-Tabari gives the mean­ing relat­ed to the inner feel­ing. How­ev­er, since this mean­ing does not go with the nar­ra­tions that stress the Prophet’s utter­ing of those vers­es, al-Tabari chose a def­i­n­i­tion which goes with the con­text : the def­i­n­i­tion of taman­na as recit­ed”. For illus­tra­tion, he quotes ad-Dah­hak, who states that taman­na means to recite, to read. Al-Tabari also finds that this def­i­n­i­tion is con­firmed by the Qur’an­ic vers­es : But Allah will can­cel and thing vain that Satan throws in, and Allah will con­firm (and estab­lish) His Signs.” The vers­es which Allah says that He is going to con­firm are, no doubt, the vers­es which He sub­se­quent­ly reveals. It is clear, then, that the vers­es which Satan has thrown in are those which Allah has can­celled through rec­ti­fi­ca­tion. The expla­na­tion of the words, then, is as fol­lows : No prophet or mes­sen­ger have We sent before you have read the Book of Allah or read or talked about Satan’s attempt to throw in phras­es to alter their mes­sage. Allah sup­press­es what Satan throws in,” Allah removes that which Satan has put into the mouth of His Prophet and has ren­dered it vain and obso­lete.5

Part Three

The The­o­log­i­cal Impli­ca­tion of Al-Gharaniq

Al-Tabari relates the sto­ry of al-gha­raniq in his Tafsir and in his book on his­to­ry. As a muhad­dith him­self, it seems that he was inter­est­ed, from his own point of view, in the sound­ness of its isnad (the chain of nar­ra­tors). He was not trou­bled by the the­o­log­i­cal impli­ca­tions of the sto­ry, or by the time gap which sep­a­rates the rev­e­la­tion of chap­ter 53 (an-Najm) which occurred about the fifth year of the mis­sion of the Mes­sen­ger of Allah, and that Chap­ter 22 (al-Hajj), which occurred either in the thir­teenth year of the Mec­can peri­od (accord­ing to one view) or in the ear­ly peri­od of Med­i­na (accord­ing to anoth­er view). He was inter­est­ed, it seems, in seek­ing a rea­son for the rev­e­la­tion of vers­es 52 and fol­low­ing, which all deal with the same sub­ject. The episode of al-gha­raniq pro­vid­ed him with that. Strange­ly enough, with his great knowl­edge and the­o­log­i­cal insight, Al-Tabari did not refer to any incon­sis­ten­cy, or to the reli­gious impli­ca­tion it rais­es. Besides, no one in Islam­ic schol­ar­ship accused Al-Tabari of invent­ing the sto­ry. He is described in the books com­par­ing hadith reporter as a trust­wor­thy muhad­dith him­self. The author­i­ties upon whom he relied in relat­ing the sto­ry up to at-tabi’un (the fol­low­ers of the com­pan­ions), are deemed by hadith schol­ars as trust­wor­thy at least in two chains of narrations.

The Reac­tion of Mus­lim Scholars

Ibn Khoza­y­ma

Notwith­stand­ing the high reli­a­bil­i­ty of Al-Tabari and his author­i­ty, oth­er schol­ars reject­ed — out­right — the whole episode as a forgery invent­ed by the zindiqs. The first to con­demn it out­right was none oth­er than the friend and admir­er of Al-Tabari, his great con­tem­po­rary tra­di­tion­al­ist, al-Imam Muham­mad ibn Khza­y­ma. Ash-Shawkani writes that Ibn Khoza­y­ma, the Imam of imams, said : This sto­ry is invent­ed by zindiqs”. This state­ment is the most forth­right con­dem­na­tion of the sto­ry. Oth­er imams crit­i­cised the sto­ry on tech­ni­cal grounds. Al-Baz­zar writes : This is a tra­di­tion attrib­uted to the Prophet (pbuh), but not found­ed on a con­tin­u­ous unbro­ken chain.” Like­wise, Al-Bah­haqi states : This sto­ry is not authen­ti­cat­ed as far as al-isnad (the chain of nar­ra­tors) is concerned.”

This point con­cern­ing al-isnad was tak­en up by a num­ber of Mus­lim schol­ars. Some, like Ibn Hajar, in his com­men­tary upon al-Bukhari, some­how accept its reli­a­bil­i­ty. Many oth­ers, on the oth­er hand, judge it to be a fab­ri­ca­tion by the ene­mies of Islam. But both par­ties agree that no the­o­log­i­cal impli­ca­tion fol­lows from it.

Ibn Al-Ara­bi

Ibn al-Ara­bi, in his book, Ahkam-ul-Quran, dis­cuss­es the impli­ca­tions of that fab­ri­cat­ed sto­ry in detail. After review­ing what has been giv­en as the rea­son for the rev­e­la­tion of vers­es 52, 53 and 54, of the Satan­ic vers­es, he pro­pos­es to deal with the whole ques­tion in ten points. While it is beyond the scope of this paper to go into details, the main points will be dealt with, con­sid­er­ing that Ibn al-Ara­bi’s cri­tique is the stan­dard accept­ed in essence by the sub­se­quent Mus­lim schol­ars who dealt with this ques­tion, whether from of Hadith, or Tafsir or theology.

Ibn al-Ara­bi begins his cri­tique by estab­lish­ing two essen­tial the­o­log­i­cal points :

a. Allah has pro­tect­ed His Mes­sen­ger (and for that mat­ter all Mes­sen­gers and Prophets) from dis­be­lief. This is the con­sen­sus of all Mus­lims. Any­one who argues oth­er­wise will be actu­al­ly com­mit­ting an act of disbelief.

b. The Prophet, by receiv­ing Allah’s rev­e­la­tion through the Archangel, there­by receives the abil­i­ty to recog­nise that par­tic­u­lar Archangel. With­out that recog­ni­tion and cer­tain­ty, Prophet­hood can­not be estab­lished. Once this recog­ni­tion is estab­lished, the Archangel will be clear­ly dis­tin­guished from any oth­er by the Prophet, and the way of the reli­gion will be safe from any inter­fer­ence from outside.

If it were pos­si­ble that the prophet could not dis­tin­guish between the Archangel and some oth­er crea­ture, he could not pos­si­bly say : What I have received is from Allah”, and we, in turn, could not be sure that the rev­e­la­tion is from Allah. If it were pos­si­ble for Satan to inter­fere with this process or to dis­guise him­self as an angel, we would not be sure about one sin­gle verse ; nor would we be able to dis­tin­guish truth from falsehood.

After estab­lish­ing these two basic points, Ibn al-Ara­bi goes on to demol­ish the sto­ry of al-gha­raniq. He states that Those who say Satan said those words and the Prophet accept­ed them from him and was not able to dis­tin­guish tawhid (the Unic­i­ty of Allah) from dis­be­lief, can­not fail to real­ize that this is an act of dis­be­lief which could not come from the Prophet. How could the Prophet say that they are the high fly­ing cranes. And their inter­ces­sion is to be sought’ when he knows absolute­ly that they are dead stone inca­pable of any good or harm, and when Gabriel was com­ing to him day and night with these facts about idols like them ? Those who accept­ed that sto­ry went on to claim that, when Gabriel came to the Prophet and cor­rect­ed the rev­e­la­tion, Allah there­after revealed the verses :

Indeed they were seduc­ing you from that We revealed to you, that you might forge against us anoth­er, and then they would sure­ly have tak­en you as a friend. And had we not con­firmed you, sure­ly you were near to inclin­ing unto them a very lit­tle. (Qur’an, 17:73 – 74

Do not they know that these vers­es negate what they claimed ? The Ara­bic struc­ture of a verb pre­ced­ed by qad means almost” doing some­thing or com­ing near” to doing it, but it does not mean actu­al­ly doing it. So Allah is inform­ing us in these vers­es that they were about to seduce the Prophet but did not suc­ceed. Allah pro­tect­ed and con­firmed the uni­ty and the knowl­edge of the Deity in the heart of the Prophet. So these Qur’an­ic vers­es are absolute proof of the infal­li­bil­i­ty of the Prophet and there­fore clear him of what they claim.“6

So far, so good. But what is the expla­na­tion of what hap­pened, if indeed it hap­pened at all ?

Here Ibn al-Ara­bi gives an expla­na­tion which, in essence, amounts to accep­tance of the rea­sons giv­en for rev­e­la­tion of vers­es 52 – 54, in a way which, in his view, does not affect the infal­li­bil­i­ty of the Prophet. The words were uttered on the said occa­sion, not by the Prophet, but by Satan him­self. The Prophet was in the habit of recit­ing the Qur’an in a very dis­tinct, slow-paced way, and Stan must have tak­en advan­tage of the inter­vals, between one verse and anoth­er. He must have imi­tat­ed the voice of the Prophet and uttered the vers­es of al-gha­raniq unbe­knownst to the Prophet. The dis­be­liev­ers, not real­iz­ing this, must have been delud­ed into think­ing that it was the prophet who spoke these words, and the chain of events, as explained ear­li­er would have fol­lowed. The com­men­ta­tors who fol­lowed that sto­ry have accept­ed this account as the most plau­si­ble of the oth­er explanations.

Al-Qadi Iyad

The crit­i­cal approach of al-Qadi Iyad : It was left to the stu­dent and con­tem­po­rary of Ibn al-Ara­bi, al-Qadi Iyad, in his com­pendi­um Al-Shi­fa bita’rifn­huquq al-Mustafa (The Sat­is­fac­to­ry Expla­na­tion of the Rights of the Cho­sen One) to ful­ly explain the the­o­log­i­cal impli­ca­tions and con­tra­dic­tions of the said sto­ry. Appro­pri­ate­ly enough, Iyad’s treat­ment of the sub­ject comes in the third sec­tion of his book about the req­ui­sites for Prophet­hood as well as mir­a­cles and immu­ni­ties con­cern­ing Prophets. In one of the chap­ters with­in this sec­tion, he deals with the infal­li­bil­i­ty of the Prophet con­cern­ing his state­ments and actions. He says : As far as his [the Prophet’s] state­ments are con­cerned, clear evi­dence shows that mir­a­cles nec­es­sar­i­ly imply his truth­ful­ness. The con­sen­sus of the Mus­lim schol­ars, con­cern­ing the deliv­ery of the Prophet’s mes­sage, is that he is infal­li­ble in what he holds from God. He can­not utter that which is not true about any­thing whether he intends it or not.7

From this basic rule, which al-Qadi elab­o­rates and sub­stan­ti­ates in detail, he moves on to deal with some ques­tions dis­put­ing its valid­i­ty. The first was that sto­ry of al-gha­raniq. After stat­ing the gist of this sto­ry, he gives its dif­fer­ent ver­sions. Al-Qadi Iyad then adopts two lines of defence in refut­ing, or even explain­ing the the­o­log­i­cal impli­ca­tions result­ing from the story.

In the first line of defence he men­tions the tech­ni­cal crit­i­cism of the sto­ry com­men­ta­tors as it is giv­en above.

The inter­est­ing part of this line of defence con­sists in the four ratio­nal argu­ments which point out the con­tra­dic­tions implied in the sto­ry and which express the keen insight of al-Qadi Iyad and his crit­i­cal abil­i­ty to explode the myth of al-gha­raniq. The four argu­ments come as follows.

The first is that it is the con­sen­sus of the Mus­lims that Allah has pro­tect­ed His Mes­sen­ger and made him immune from such evil as the wish that Allah would reveal to him vers­es that praise the Qurayshites’ idols. Such praise is an act of dis­be­lief (kufr), and to say that the Prophet inten­tion­al­ly or unin­ten­tion­al­ly praised the idols in an act of kufr, for he is immune from that. It is thus estab­lished, through con­sen­sus and strong evi­dences that the Prophet is immune from com­mit­ting an act of unbe­lief, whether by heart or tongue, whether inten­tion­al­ly or for­get­ful­ly, and that Satan could nei­ther influ­ence him nor say any­thing false about Allah. Allah Most High warned him : And if he had fab­ri­cat­ed against Us some state­ments, We would cer­tain­ly have seized him by the right hand, then cut off his heart’s vein” (Qur’an, 69:44 – 45) and Then We would have made you taste a dou­ble (pun­ish­ment) after death, then you would not have found any helpers against Us.” (Qur’an, 17 : 75).

The sec­ond argu­ment rests upon the lin­guis­tic weak­ness and the con­tra­dic­tion in the mean­ing. The con­struc­tion of the added sen­tences, begin­ning : al-gha­raniq-ul-ula’ ” is not up to the high stan­dard of Qur’an­ic con­struc­tion. This aspect can­not escape the notice of the ordi­nary Arab, not to men­tion the Qurayshites. The con­tra­dic­tion in mean­ing is very eas­i­ly notice­able. The vers­es con­tain praise and degra­da­tion at the same time. When we con­sid­er the intro­duc­to­ry question :

    Have you then con­sid­ered Lat and Uzza, and Man­at, the third oth­er?”, then con­sid­er the suggestion :
    They are the high goddesses,
    and their inter­ces­sion is to be sought” and finally
    Are yours the males and His the females ?
    That indeed were unfair division.
    They are but names, which you have named, you and your fathers, for which Allah has revealed no warrant” 

the con­tra­dic­to­ry atti­tudes appear obvi­ous and can­not pass unnoticed.

The third argu­ment is : if any­thing like this had hap­pened, it would not have gone unex­ploit­ed by the hyp­ocrites and the poly­the­ists, who would have been quick to seize upon such an occa­sion to tor­ment the believ­ers and rebuke them. Now, there is no men­tion any­where of any such inci­dent or of any repu­di­a­tion of faith on the part of luke­warm con­verts. One finds reports of how the poly­the­ists tried to ridicule the Prophet when he told them about his night jour­ney or to break the agree­ment after the con­clu­sion of the Huday­biya pact, but nowhere is there even men­tion of such exploita­tion tak­ing place if we sup­pose that such an event took place. No doubt, some human Satan or jinn played this trick on some of the apa­thet­ic, atten­tive muhad­diths and weak-mind­ed Mus­lims so as to deceive them.

The fourth argu­ment is that : some of the nar­ra­tions of the sto­ry say that Allah has revealed the fol­low­ing vers­es as a result of such an episode :

And sure­ly they had pur­posed to turn you away from that which We have revealed to you that you should forge against Us oth­er than that, and then they would have tak­en you for a friend. And if We had not made you firm you might have indeed inclined to them a lit­tle.” (Qur’an, 17:73 – 74

These two vers­es, on the con­trary, are a rejec­tion of the report they have. Allah, Most High, is say­ing that they might have” suc­ceed­ed. Had it not been for Allah’s sup­port to His Prophet, the lat­ter might have inclined to them. This implies that Allah has pro­tect­ed His Prophet, con­firmed his faith so that he did not even incline a lit­tle to the dis­be­liev­ers, not to men­tion the ill-fat­ed sto­ry of prais­ing their god­dess­es. B. Abbas says : All that is in the Quran of term qad’ is might have’ mean­ing that it did not in fact hap­pen.” Al Qurayshi al-Qadi says : Quraysh and Thaqif request­ed the Prophet just to turn his face towards their idols when pass­ing by them, and promised him, for that, to con­vert to his reli­gion, But he nev­er oblig­ed, and he could not do that.” Ibn al-Anbari says : He nev­er came close, or inclined, to the disbelievers.”

The Expli­ca­tion of the Verse

The oth­er pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tions of al-Qadi Iyad was his clear and sim­ple expla­na­tion of the verse. He says : Allah, Most High, is remind­ing the Prophet of His favour upon him in pro­tect­ing him and con­firm­ing his faith against the tri­als of the dis­be­liev­ers and their seduc­tions“8

The sec­ond line of defence is that which sup­pos­es the sto­ry was authen­tic. The argu­ments giv­en by Ibn al-Ara­bi, Ibn Hajar in Fathul-Bari com­men­tary, and all oth­ers who were try­ing to explain the the­o­log­i­cal impli­ca­tions of the said sto­ry, are quite the same, and so there is no need to repeat them.9

Oth­er authorities

(see the bib­li­o­graph­ic note under End­note 9)

Ibn Taymiyah and the Sto­ry of Al-Gharaniq

Ibn Taymiyah deals with verse 52 of al-Hajj in his Al-Fatawa (Juris­tic opin­ions) in a num­ber of places and from dif­fer­ent points of view. In Vol­ume Two, in dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing between the prophet and al-Muh­had­dath (inspired per­son, talked to direct­ly, like Omar).

In Vol­umes 131417 and 21, he men­tions the verse either in con­nec­tion with pros­tra­tion with­out ablu­tion or the con­cepts of al-Muhkam and al-Mutashabih or with the use of the term naskh (abro­ga­tion generally).

It is in Vol­umes 10 and 15 that he address­es the sto­ry of al-gha­raniq.

In Vol­ume 1010, he men­tions the agreed-upon prin­ci­ple of the infal­li­bil­i­ty of the Prophets as to the flaw­less accom­plish­ment of the apos­tolic mis­sion they are entrust­ed with. This infal­li­bil­i­ty is the guar­an­tee which ful­fils the aim of prophet­hood and messengership.

He, then, rais­es the ques­tion : Could the Prophets say that Allah, lat­er on, redress­es and rec­ti­fies, so that He will abro­gate the spu­ri­ous line that Satan has slipped in and con­firm His vers­es ? He answers the ques­tion in the light of the pre­dom­i­nant views. The over­all view record­ed by the pre­de­ces­sors (as-salaf) is in agree­ment with the Qur’an. The suc­ces­sors did not accept that view and dis­cred­it­ed the account giv­en about the addi­tion to the Chap­ter of an-Najm (The Star): These are the high fly­ing cranes. And sure­ly their inter­ces­sion is to be sought” on the grounds that this account was not estab­lished as an authen­tic one. But those who know that it is well-found­ed say that this is what Satan has slipped into their ear, and not what the Prophet actu­al­ly uttered. But the ques­tion in still valid notwith­stand­ing the explanation.

Those who con­firm the account giv­en by the pre­de­ces­sors say that this is authen­ti­cal­ly report­ed beyond any chal­lenge and that the Qur’an bears tes­ti­mo­ny to it in the statement :

And We nev­er sent a mes­sen­ger or a prophet before you, but when he desired Satan pro­posed [?] Allah is the guide of those who believe, into a right path.” (Qur’an, 22:52 – 54

They observe that reports explain­ing these vers­es are well-known and authen­ti­cal­ly report­ed in the books of tafsir and hadith, and that all of this match­es up with the state­ment in the Qur’an for the rec­ti­fi­ca­tion by Allah of what Satan had thrown in, and the con­fir­ma­tion of His vers­es, occur for the spe­cif­ic pur­pose of straight­en­ing out the sit­u­a­tion and of sep­a­rat­ing what is true from what is false so that Allah’s vers­es will not be mixed up with spu­ri­ous lines. To make that which Satan has pro­posed a temp­ta­tion for those in whose hearts is a dis­ease, and those whose hearts are hard­ened could hap­pen only if Satan’s spu­ri­ous line were brought out into the open to be heard by peo­ple, not some­thing hid­den, in the soul. The temp­ta­tion which hap­pens as a result of this kind of rec­ti­fi­ca­tion is like that which hap­pens as a result of this kind of change. Rec­ti­fi­ca­tion of what has been uttered loud­ly proves more strong­ly the truth­ful­ness and self-denial of the Mes­sen­ger (SAW) than any oth­er mea­sure. Indeed, if he uttered some­thing and lat­er ordered that it be rec­ti­fied — both instruc­tions being Allah’s — and he is believed, and if he says that the rec­ti­fi­ca­tion is Allah’s true word, that it abro­gates and utter­ance pre­ced­ing it, and that that which has been rec­ti­fied is not Allah’s true word, then this demon­strates that he accepts the truth and that he speaks the truth.11

In Vol. 15, when dis­cussing the expli­ca­tion of the Qur’an­ic verse :

Till, when the Mes­sen­ger despaired, deem­ing they were count­ed as liars, Our help came to them.” (Qur’an, 12:110)

Ibn Taimiyah intro­duces the ques­tion of mis­takes on the part of the Prophets. He says that the major­i­ty of Muhad­di­toun and Fuqa­ha are of the opin­ion that the Prophets might err in their per­son­al opin­ion, ijti­had, but they are invari­ably cor­rect­ed through rev­e­la­tion. Then he men­tions that in the (Qur’an­ic) phrase and thought that — or deem­ing they were count­ed as liars” this thought might have come from Satan as sug­gest­ed in Allah’s say­ing : We sent not ever any Mes­sen­ger or Prophet before you, but that Satan pro­posed [?] Lo ! Allah ver­i­ly is guid­ing those who believe unto a right path.” (Qur’an, 22:52 – 54). Ibn Taimiyah repeats in a short­er way what he has said in Vol. 10. But, here, to those who do not accept the authen­tic­i­ty of the sto­ry despite their good inten­tion, his answer is very sim­ple : some­thing was pro­posed, then can­celled : so, there is no trou­ble. This is sim­i­lar to the one who came to know about abro­ga­tion.“12

It is clear that Ibn Taimiyah, with his sol­id tra­di­tion­al back­ground, with his exten­sive knowl­edge of the tra­di­tions, with his hard atti­tude against any­thing that infringes upon the pure con­cept of Islam and with his aware­ness of the the­o­log­i­cal impli­ca­tions of such a sto­ry, has no hes­i­ta­tion in accept­ing its authen­tic­i­ty. Not only does he accept its authen­tic­i­ty, but he goes on to say that taman­na here, absolute­ly, recit­ed. For Allah there­after says that Allah will sup­press what Satan throws in, then will con­firm His Vers­es.” This can­not all be the desire of the heart, which the Prophet did not utter.13

Part Four

This atti­tude leaves the crit­ics in a very dif­fi­cult posi­tion. While great schol­ars like al-Tabari, Ibn. Hajar, Ibn. Taymiyya accept the sto­ry as being authen­tic, the over­whelm­ing major­i­ty brand it as a forgery. Is there any way out of this dilemma ?

The Con­text In Which The Sto­ry Was Told

The sto­ry is not some­thing of a divine nature, i.e. it is not a Qur’an­ic state­ment. It is not a tra­di­tion attrib­uted to the Prophet. It is not even an authen­tic athar (a state­ment of one of the Com­pan­ions). At best it is a state­ment of a tabi’i, express­ing what he con­sid­ered to be the rea­son for the rev­e­la­tion. S So, it should be viewed in the light of the method­ol­o­gy of the branch of knowl­edge known as ilm mar­i­fat asbab-un-Nuzul (the knowl­edge of the rea­sons for the revelation).

The schol­ars in this field divide the Qur’an into two cat­e­gories. The one, which is the larg­er of the two, was revealed with no par­tic­u­lar rea­son oth­er than the guid­ance of mankind to the right path. This includes the con­cept of Allah, Hid attrib­ut­es, how He cre­at­ed this world gen­er­al­ly and human beings in par­tic­u­lar, how He estab­lished His rela­tion to them through His Mes­sen­gers and Prophets, how the com­mu­ni­ties received the mes­sages, or treat­ed their prophets, and the dif­fi­cul­ties and the temp­ta­tions or frus­tra­tions these prophets were exposed to. Prophet Muham­mad (pbuh) is one of these prophets. Their sto­ries were told to him to take heart and bear with patience the trou­bles he was facing.

In the oth­er cat­e­go­ry, vers­es were revealed to answer a ques­tion raised, to com­ment on an inci­dent, to cor­rect a habit or a cus­tom which came to be ques­tioned, and so on. In the first cat­e­go­ry there is no need to search for a rea­son for rev­e­la­tion. In the sec­ond, it is more help­ful to look into the his­tor­i­cal back­ground to shed some light on the matter.

In one def­i­n­i­tion of asbab ul-nuzul (the rea­son for rev­e­la­tion) Shaikh Azzurqani, in his com­pre­hen­sive book Man­ahil-ul-Irfan Fi ulum al-Quran says :

The rea­son for rev­e­la­tion con­sists of the cir­cum­stances which have called for the Quran­ic verse or vers­es to be revealed, deal­ing with an issue, or explain­ing the rule con­cern­ing if on the day it has happened. 

He explains the phrase day it has hap­pened” by say­ing that this is a nec­es­sary con­di­tion in the def­i­n­i­tion, for it dis­tin­guish­es this cat­e­go­ry from the oth­er, which is revealed to deal with past expe­ri­ences, or future events, like the sto­ries of pre­vi­ous Prophets, or the Day of Judge­ment and every­thing relat­ed to it, for there are many such top­ics in the Quran.14

The rel­e­vance of this con­di­tion will be not­ed lat­er on. But the way in which this or that rea­son is giv­en for the rev­e­la­tion of such and such verse needs to be looked at. As-Suyu­ti, in his stan­dard book, Al-Itqan Fil Ulum-al-Quran quotes al-Wahi­di as say­ing : One can­not speak about rea­sons for rev­e­la­tion except through the chain of reports traced all the way to those who wit­nessed the rev­e­la­tion, knew the rea­sons and ver­i­fied their knowl­edge.” He quotes oth­ers as say­ing : The rea­son for the rev­e­la­tion of any verse is a mat­ter known to the com­pan­ions as a result of indi­ca­tions sur­round­ing the events. Some of them may not affirm that such and such is the rea­son, but they may say : I think this or that is the rea­son for?’ 15 Shaikh as-Zurqani says :

If the rea­son is giv­en by one of the Com­pan­ions, it is accept­able even though it might not be sup­port­ed by anoth­er report. But is it is giv­en by a mur­sal tra­di­tion i.e. no par­tic­u­lar Com­pan­ion is men­tioned in the report, but the report is traced up to a tabi’i (one of the Prophet’s fol­low­ers), it is not accept­able unless it is sup­port­ed by means of anoth­er mur­sal tra­di­tion and the reporter of it was a renowned schol­ar in tafsir.16


As men­tioned ear­li­er, asbab al-nuzul (the rea­son for the rev­e­la­tion) is a state­ment from a Com­pan­ion express­ing what he under­stood or thought to be such. Although Mus­lim schol­ars accept such a state­ment, still it does not amount to a defin­i­tive state­ment on the mat­ter. If it comes to one of the fol­low­ers, the degree of accept­abil­i­ty falls sharply because no fol­low­er has wit­nessed the rev­e­la­tion or men­tioned an author­i­ta­tive source who was present at the moment of rev­e­la­tion. His report may or may not be accept­able even though what he reports may raise no questions.

It seems that those who have accept­ed the authen­tic­i­ty of the episode of al-gha­raniq were main­ly inter­est­ed in the tech­ni­cal­i­ty of the chain of reports. Goes it sat­is­fy the con­di­tions of an accept­able report ? Their answer was yes. What about its the­o­log­i­cal impli­ca­tions ? Then they start­ed the uphill task of explain­ing them away. As men­tioned ear­li­er, it would have been suf­fi­cient for them to drop the episode alto­geth­er. It is not wor­thy of the efforts they have made to cor­rob­o­rate or to explain the sto­ry. In fact, there is sim­ply no neces­si­ty at all to insert it in order to explain the verse of al-Hajj. The Qur’an­ic verse came sim­ply as a con­so­la­tion to the Prophet at a time when Allah was say­ing to him : yet it may be, if they believe not in this state­ment, that you will tor­ment your soul with grief over their foot­steps.” (Qur’an, 18:6)

As a human being, he was eager to save his peo­ple from the pun­ish­ment of Allah for their rejec­tion of his call. He was ready to com­pro­mise about minor issues, like meet­ing the nota­bles among them, sep­a­rate­ly from the ordi­nary mem­bers of the com­mu­ni­ty. At one time he was talk­ing to a group of dig­ni­taries when a blind com­pan­ion inter­rupt­ed him, ask­ing him to teach him. The Prophet did not like being inter­rupt­ed. Both instances are relat­ed in the Qur’an (vers­es 28 – 29, Ch. 18 and vers­es 1 – 10, Ch. 80).

When he was reproached for that, the Prophet felt sor­ry for what had hap­pened, and Allah remind­ed him : You are not the only mes­sen­ger or prophet to face such a sit­u­a­tion or to fall into such temp­ta­tion. But it is My was that you have to be patient, to endure the trou­bles, incon­ve­niences and per­se­cu­tion until the atti­tudes become clear­ly sep­a­rat­ed, then the judg­ment of Allah will take place.

The Qur’an­ic vers­es 52 – 55 deal with a uni­ver­sal ques­tion met by the pre­vi­ous Prophets and Mes­sen­gers. No one has claimed that they com­mit­ted and act of dis­be­lief that can war­rant a com­par­i­son of the Seal of the Prophets with them. The com­par­i­son, then, is with their hopes, fears, aspi­ra­tions, and with the dis­rup­tion of their efforts by sug­ges­tions, tri­als or desires thrown into their thoughts by Satan and his col­lab­o­ra­tors. But the watch­ful Eye of Allah spoils all these Satan­ic tricks and keeps His prophets and mes­sen­gers steady on the right path.

In the def­i­n­i­tion of asbab ul-nuzul, it is men­tioned that the rev­e­la­tion has occurred when­ev­er a par­tic­u­lar fact or sit­u­a­tion called for it. In this case chap­ter 53, an-Najm, was revealed in Ramadan in the fifth year of the mis­sion of the Prophet while chap­ter 22, al-Hajj, was either a very late Makkan rev­e­la­tion or an ear­ly Med­i­nan, the time elapse being about eight years or so. Accord­ing to the def­i­n­i­tion, this can­not be an expla­na­tion of the occa­sion. The ordi­nary time lapse between the occa­sion and rev­e­la­tion is men­tioned in rela­tion to two instances of rev­e­la­tion. When the Makkans asked the Prophet about the Peo­ple of the Cave, he said : Tomor­row I will tell you.” But with­out tak­ing care to add : Allah will­ing”. Con­se­quent­ly, no vers­es were revealed to him for some fif­teen to forty days, so as to remind him always to leave these mat­ters to the will of Allah. Anoth­er instance occurred ear­li­er, in con­nec­tion with the rev­e­la­tion of Chap­ter 93, wad-Duha. Once again the time lapse was not so long as to lose the impact of the occasion.

How could it be, after such a long inter­val when the wounds result­ing from it had healed and every­thing had been for­got­ten, how could it be that the rev­e­la­tion came to reopen the issue anew ? After all, asbab al-nuzul is not defin­i­tive, it is an expla­na­tion. If it con­tra­dicts basic Islam­ic prin­ci­ples, it los­es all its val­ue. This is not some­thing pecu­liar to asbab al-nuzul ; this is a gen­er­al rule which hadith schol­ars applied when they dis­cussed the ques­tion of fab­ri­ca­tions in the hadith. Dr. As-Sab­bagh, men­tion­ing the signs of fab­ri­ca­tion in the text of the hadith says :

Third : its dis­agree­ment with clear Qur’an­ic indi­ca­tions or the clear indi­ca­tions of authen­ti­cal­ly hand­ed-down tra­di­tions or the gen­er­al prin­ci­ples adduced from the Quran and the Sun­nah or the ijma’ (con­sen­sus).17

This is one of the rules to be applied to what may be con­sid­ered tech­ni­cal­ly sound hadith attrib­uted to the Prophet. If it comes to the say­ing of a Com­pan­ions, not to men­tion a fol­low­er, any state­ment con­trary to these basic prin­ci­ples is to be reject­ed. The most appro­pri­ate descrip­tion of that bad his­to­ry is what Ibn Khuza­y­ma says about it : that it is a forgery invent­ed by athe­ists to dis­cred­it them­selves, not Islam or the Prophet.

Part Five

Some Obser­va­tions

a. As men­tioned ear­li­er, the authen­tic­i­ty of the sto­ry was denied by great exegetes and jurists like Ibn Kathir, Ash-Shawkani, and Ibn Al-Ara­bi, but they explained the Quran­ic vers­es of al-Hajj 52 – 55, in the light of the reject­ed sto­ry ! They did not advance sat­is­fac­to­ry alter­na­tive expla­na­tions. The only schol­ar who came near­er to offer­ing a pos­i­tive alter­na­tive expla­na­tion was al-Qur­to­bi. In the third ques­tion, he writes that one of the things the dis­be­liev­ers tried to deceive their com­mon folk was their say­ing : It is the duty of the Prophets that they are able o do every­thing. Why, then, could not Muham­mad bring pun­ish­ment upon us, since we have gone far in our enmi­ty of him ? And they said, too, that Prophets should not be sub­ject to for­get­ful­ness or mis­takes. So, Allah, glo­ry be to Him, made it clear that Prophets are human beings. It is He Who brings pun­ish­ment accord­ing to His will, and human beings are sub­ject to mis­takes, for­get­ful­ness until Allah con­firms his will and removes the tricks of Satan.18 This is a good, sat­is­fac­to­ry account of the vers­es. But instead of leav­ing it at that, al-Qur­to­bi gets into a long dis­cus­sion of what was report­ed, and so leaves the read­er in a maze of opin­ions, unable to sort out the dilem­ma for himself.

b. Ibn al-Ara­bi, after severe­ly crit­i­ciz­ing the sto­ry of al-gha­raniq does not offer much con­so­la­tion. All that he comes up with is his say­ing Satan will cast into his wish”, Satan will cats at his recita­tion.” Then he goes on to praise al-Tabari say­ing that no one was guid­ed to this (i.e. the expla­na­tion of into’ and at’) except al-Tabari, thanks to his glo­ri­fied sta­tion, clar­i­ty of thought, the width of knowl­edge, and far-reach­ing sight. Ibn al-Ara­bi thus prais­es al-Tabari after men­tion­ing so many reports which have no foun­da­tion. Far from being what he has claimed it be, al-Tabari actu­al­ly accept­ed the sto­ry of al-gha­raniq and tried to jus­ti­fy it.

Ibn Kathir, too, mis­quotes al-Qadi Iyad, when he says that there are vari­ant answers to the sto­ry, assum­ing its authen­tic­i­ty and that al-Qadi Iyad deals with this in his book, Ash-Shi­fa, and answers what could be summed up as it is so because it is well estab­lished.” But this is not true of the posi­tion of al-Qadi Iyad. As has been clear­ly explained ear­li­er, he rejects it vehe­ment­ly and goes on to answer the ques­tions it rais­es, assum­ing that it is true.

Part Six

The Atti­tude of the Orientalists 

Sir William Muir, in his book, The Life of Mahomet, refers to this sto­ry as one of the strangest episodes in the life of Mahomet.“19 He goes on to tell the core of the sto­ry, close­ly fol­low­ing what al-Tabari relates of it, then comments :

Pious Musul­mans of after days, scan­dal­ized at the lapse of their Prophet into so fla­grant a con­ces­sion, would reject the whole sto­ry. But the author­i­ties are, in his view, too strange to be impugned.” It is hard­ly pos­si­ble, he argues, to con­ceive how the tale, if not in some shape or oth­er, found­ed on truth, could ever have been invent­ed. The stub­born fact remains, and is by all admit­ted, that the refugees did return about this time from Abyssinia, and that they returned in con­se­quence of a rumour that Mec­ca was con­vert­ed. To this fact the nar­ra­tives of Wack­i­di and Tabari afford the only intel­li­gi­ble clue.20

Pro­fes­sor Bur­ton goes on to say : It has been accept­ed as his­tor­i­cal­ly true’ by writer after writer up to, and includ­ing our own day”.21 He may be refer­ring to those who dealt with the life of the Prophet, like A. Guil­laume, W.M. Watt, and those who have writ­ten about the Qur’an and Qur’an­ic schol­ar­ship like Schwal­ly. But Pro­fes­sor Bur­ton, like L. Cae­tani before him, dis­cred­it­ed the whole sto­ry in his arti­cle, for entire­ly dif­fer­ent rea­sons. As he says : We now pro­pose to show the rea­son why this sto­ry must be deci­sive­ly reject­ed once and for all”.22

How­ev­er, there is noth­ing new in the crit­i­cism of Sir Muir. Most of the points he raised were answered in the course of this dis­cus­sion. The only point which need­ed expla­na­tion was what he con­sid­ered to be irrefragable proof of the sto­ry, the return of the emi­grants from Abyssinia.

Muham­mad Husayn Haykal

In his biog­ra­phy of the Prophet, Dr Haykal deals exten­sive­ly with the fic­tion of al-gha­raniq, in par­tic­u­lar, Sir Muir’s irrefutable proof. Haykal was writ­ing as ear­ly as 1934 and was aware of the Ori­en­tal­ist atti­tude to this par­tic­u­lar event. In the Eng­lish trans­la­tion of the Ara­bic orig­i­nal, a trans­la­tion which was very much delayed, for rea­sons well known to two Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ties which uni­lat­er­al­ly opt­ed out of their pub­lish­ing agree­ment, the author deals with the fic­tion from begin­ning to end. I will men­tion only the new points in his dis­cus­sion of about ten pages in the Eng­lish ver­sion. These may be summed up in four points :

1. The return of the emi­grants : is far from being the result of what they heard about the con­ver­sion of the Makkans to Islam, for at that time there were no com­mu­ni­ca­tion means to flash the news from Mak­ka to Abyssinia in one month, not to say a few days. The fact of the mat­ter was that Ja’a­far ibn Abi-Tal­ib and Umar al-Khat­tab accept­ed Islam. And gave a great boost to the spir­it of the Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty. Stunned by that con­ver­sion, the Makkans need­ed a respite to rethink their strat­e­gy towards the Mus­lims. There pre­vailed, for a time, an atmos­phere of calm and restraint. This encour­aged some Mus­lims to return to Mak­ka and be with their peo­ple instead of liv­ing far way. Togeth­er with this fac­tor, was anoth­er, very impor­tant local devel­op­ment in Abyssinia. Negus, who wel­comed, and gave hos­pi­tal­i­ty to, the flee­ing Arabs, was him­self under attack. His faith was ques­tioned, his sub­jects revolt­ed and the Mus­lims felt that they should not both­er the man. Some of them returned, oth­ers went into hid­ing until the ruler suc­ceed­ed in putting down the rebel­lion. Al-Imam Ahmad b. Han­bal reports in his Mus­nad a long tra­di­tion on the author­i­ty of Umm Salamah (who was among the emi­grants liv­ing there at that time, and who lat­er on became the wife of the Prophet) what they felt dur­ing that rebel­lion.23

2. The con­struc­tion of Chap­ter 53 shows the lie of the fab­ri­cat­ed sto­ry. How could it be that he says :

    These are the supreme god­dess­es. And their inter­ces­sion is to be sought.” 

and imme­di­ate­ly recites :

    21. Are yours the male and His the female ?
    22. That indeed were unfair division !
    23. They are but names which you have named, you and your fathers, for which Allah has revealed no war­rant. They fol­low but a guess and that which they them­selves desire. 

then goes on to verse

    26. And how many angels are in the heav­en whose inter­ces­sion avails naught save after Allah has giv­en leave to whom He choos­es and accepts.24

prais­ing and severe­ly crit­i­ciz­ing at the same time ? The Qur’an being con­sid­ered the supreme lit­er­ary Ara­bic Word, how could it con­tra­dict itself in the same chap­ter, at the same time with­out any one point­ing out this clear contradiction ?

3. The word al-gha­raniq, says Sheikh Muham­mad Abduh, the grand mufti of Egypt at the turn of the cen­tu­ry, is a word that the Arabs have nowhere used to describe their gods, whether in their poet­ry or in their speech­es. Nowhere do we find their gods or god­dess­es described in such words. The word al-ghur­nuq or al-gha­raniq is the name of a black or white water bird and some­times fig­u­ra­tive­ly des­ig­nates a hand­some blond youth. It is indu­bitable that the Arabs nev­er have looked upon their gods in this manner.

4. The truth­ful­ness of the Prophet : he was well-known even before his mis­sion as al-Ameen, the most trust­wor­thy. And as he called upon the Qurayshite clans, he put his integri­ty to the test when he asked them : If I tell you that behind this moun­tain, there is an army about to attack you by sur­prise, would you believe me?” The answer was : Yes, for you have nev­er lied to us”. How could he, after all his strug­gle and per­se­cu­tion, and after the results of his mis­sion began to be felt, sud­den­ly start to praise the idols while he has been repu­di­at­ing and discrediting ?

This is why when Ibn Ishaq was asked what he thought of the sto­ry, he dis­missed it as a fab­ri­ca­tion.25

And Allah is the Guide to the Right Way.

Repro­duced from Pro­ceed­ings of the Pan­el on Cor­rec­tion of Erro­neous Infor­ma­tion Pub­lished on Islam and Mus­lims”: The Case of the Satan­ic Vers­es, Islam­ic Edu­ca­tion­al, Sci­en­tif­ic and Cul­tur­al Orga­ni­za­tion (ISESCO): 1992
  1. The Life of Mahom­met, Lon­don 1877, p. 86[]
  2. Jami­ul-Bayan v. 9. Pp 131 – 135 (Darul-Hadith edi­tion) Cairo 14071987[]
  3. Ch 53, vers­es 19 – 20[]
  4. Al-Tabar­i’s Tafsir v. 9, pp. 131 – 135[]
  5. Tafsir, p. 134[]
  6. Ashkam-ul-Quran, v 3, pp. 1299 – 1301[]
  7. Ash-Shi­fa, v. 2, pp. 44 – 6[]
  8. Ash-Shi­fa, v. 2, pp. 748 – 758[]
  9. See Ibn al-Ara­bi, Ahkam-ul-Quran, v. 3, pp. 1299 – 1300.Endmark
    • Ibn Hajar, Fath-ul-Bari, v. 8, Book of Tafsir, Ch. 2 al-Hajj pp. 438 – 440 
    • Al-Baghawi : Ma’al­im-ut-Tanzil, v. 3, pp. 293 – 294, Ch. Al-Hajj. 
    • Ash-Shawkani : Fathul-Qadir, v. 3, pp. 461 – 63
    • Al-Qur­to­bi : Al-Jami’ Li ahkam al-Quran, v. 12, pp. 79 – 87
    • Al-Jamal : Al-Futuhat al-Hahiyyah, com­men­tary on : Al-Jalalayn., v. 3, p. 173 quot­ing al-Fakhr al-Razi in reject­ing the sto­ry, then quot­ed b. Hajar, in detail, sup­port­ing it. 
    • Ibn Kathir : Tafsir : Tafsir-ul-Quran al-Azim,v. 3, pp. 229 – 231. It is worth not­ing here that the author refers to Ash-Shi­fa, giv­ing the view of Iyad as accept­ing the authen­tic­i­ty of the infa­mous sto­ry, while, as has been indi­cat­ed, al-Qadi Iyad, in his first line of defence rejects it. Then he goes on to say : Sup­pose it is authen­tic ? So that sup­po­si­tion does not amount to accep­tance of the sto­ry as implied in the quote of Ibn Khathir.” 
    • Al-Qadi a’dud-ud-Deen al-Ieji : Sharh al-Mawaqif as sadis (the Sixth sta­tion) as-Samiyy­at (things known through the rev­e­la­tion) al-Maqdis al-Khamis (the fifth goal) the infal­li­bil­i­ty of the Prophets. After men­tion­ing the proofs of the infal­li­bil­i­ty of the Prophets, he goes on to dis­cuss what is thought to be an infringe­ment on that con­cept. In the case of Prophet Muham­mad (SAW) he men­tions, first, the expres­sion And he found you wan­der­ing — dal­lan -” [Ch 43, v. 6]. The sec­ond was the infa­mous sto­ry of al-gha­raniq. He men­tions the core of it as men­tioned by oth­ers who have referred to it with the same answers. Then he goes on to explain the verse in this way : Or what is intend­ed here, tak­ing taman­ni to mean : desire., wish­ful think­ing. The mean­ing of the verse will be : When the Prophet wish­es some­thing, Satan inter­feres with such a wish, and calls him to what is not prop­er for him, then Allah Most High will supress such a wish to keep him away from the whis­per­ing of Satan. Accord­ing to this expla­na­tion, the sto­ry men­tioned is a fab­ri­ca­tion of heretics. Al-Maqaqif, pp. 573 – 4
    • As-Suyu­ti, Jalal-yd-Dean (sic), Lunan-un-Nuqul Fi Asbab an-Nuzul, p. 138, in con­nec­tion with verse 73, Ch 17 And they were about to beguile you?” He adds that this is a proof that the Quran­ic verse 52 CH 22 is a Mec­can rev­e­la­tion. Then he men­tions the same sto­ry on p. 150 in con­nec­tion with the Quran­ic verse 52 again, quot­ing the judge­ment of b. Hajar that the sto­ry must have an ori­gin. Then he goes on to say : No one should take notice of what was said by al-Ara­bi and al-Qadi Iyad : all these nar­ra­tions are false and have not basis.”


  10. Al-Fatawa, v. (sic), p. 289 – 295, King Khalid edi­tion, Moroc­co.[]
  11. Al-Fatawa, v 10, p. 292.[]
  12. Al-Fatawa, v 15, p. 189 – 192[]
  13. Al-Fatawa, pp. 120 – 121.[]
  14. Man­ahil, v. 1, pp. 06 – 7.[]
  15. Al-Itqan, pp. 28 – 29.[]
  16. Az-Zurqani, p. 114.[]
  17. The Sun­nah and Its Place in Islam­ic Sharia, see also : al-Hadith an-Nabawi by Dr. M. Lifti as-Sab­bagh, p. 320.[]
  18. Al-Qur­to­bi, Ahkam-ul-Quran, v. 12, p. 80.[]
  19. The Life of Mahomet, Lon­don 1877, p. 86.[]
  20. Loc. Cit. 88. This is in an arti­cle writ­ten by J. Bur­ton in the Jour­nal of Semit­ic Stud­ies, XV (1970), pp. 246 – 265, lent to me by the cour­tesy of Broth­er Ahmad Bolock.[]
  21. Prof. J. Bur­ton, p. 248.[]
  22. Loc. Cit. 248.[]
  23. Al-Fath-ur-Rah­man, vol. 20, pp. 226 – 230.[]
  24. Ch. An-Najm (53), vers­es 21 – 26.[]
  25. M.H. Haykal, The Life of Muham­mad, trans­lat­ed into Eng­lish by Prof. I. Raji’ Al-Faruqi, pg. 105 – 115, 8th edi­tion.[]

1 Comment

  1. Assala­mualaikum how do we respond to the claim from mis­sion­ar­ies that the satan­ic vers­es prove that the Quran­ic chal­lenge of pro­duc­ing some­thing like it was met ?

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