work of multiple hands

Is The Qur’an Real­ly The Work of Mul­ti­ple Hands ?

We were recent­ly con­front­ed with the claims of Denis Giron in his arti­cle that the com­po­si­tion of the Qur’an is sim­ply the work of mul­ti­ple authors. In this paper, we shall seek to study the claims made and make a few respons­es to the remarks made in his response to this arti­cle, insha’Allah.

Eval­u­at­ing The Sources

The arti­cle starts off with a quote from Cook and Crone crit­i­ciz­ing the struc­ture of the Qur’an. It seems that the whole claim of mul­ti­ple hands of the Qur’an” was whol­ly inspired” from this source. We should not be both­ered by the com­ment of Cook and Crone, how­ev­er, that the Qur’an is fre­quent­ly obscure and incon­se­quen­tial in both lan­guage and content”[1], as that is mere­ly con­jec­tured from their per­son­al opinion. 

Arab writ­ers, in con­trast, see the mat­ter dif­fer­ent­ly. Ibn al-Athir for instance, after study­ing the styl­is­tic fea­ture of iltifāt in balāgha (Ara­bic rhetoric), classed it among the remark­able things and exquis­ite sub­tleties we have found in the Glo­ri­ous Qur”an[2].

Any­way, what we wish to ques­tion is why the author is quot­ing from a book which has been uni­ver­sal­ly reject­ed by the West­ern scholars ? 

In fact, Crone and Cook inform us that :

This is a book writ­ten by infi­dels for infi­dels, and it is based in what from any Mus­lim per­spec­tive must appear inor­di­nate regard for the tes­ti­mo­ny of infi­del sources. Our account is not mere­ly unac­cept­able ; it is also one which any Mus­lim whose faith is as a grain of mus­tard seed should find no dif­fi­cul­ty in rejecting.[3]

Humphreys sum­ma­rizes this apt­ly by say­ing that :

In the end per­haps we ought to use Hagarism more a what-if’ exer­cise than as a research monograph…[4]

Some rather less impressed crit­ics are more direct in their reser­va­tions. R. B. Sergeant informs that

Hagarism…is not only bit­ter­ly anti-Islam­ic in tone, but anti-Ara­bi­an. Its super­fi­cial fan­cies are so ridicu­lous that at first one won­ders if it is just a leg pull’, pure spoof’.[5]

And Josef Van Ess seems to think that :

…a refu­ta­tion is per­haps unnec­es­sary since the authors make no effort to prove it (the hypoth­e­sis of the book) in detail…Where they are only giv­ing a new inter­pre­ta­tion of well-known facts, this is not deci­sive. But where the accept­ed facts are con­scious­ly put upside down, their approach is disastrous.[6]

Waines in his book An Intro­duc­tion To Islam says that :

The Crone-Cook the­o­ry has been almost uni­ver­sal­ly reject­ed. The evi­dence offered by the authors is far too ten­ta­tive and con­jec­tur­al (and pos­si­bly con­tra­dic­to­ry) to con­clude that Arab-Jew­ish were as inti­mate as they would wish them to have been.[7]

In view of this, we won­der why the author even dared to repro­duce mate­r­i­al from Cook and Crone and try to pass it off as schol­ar­ship”.

We also notice that The Daj­jal” had used an essay from Zul­fikar Khan enti­tled Koran — The Ulti­mate Truth”[8] to fur­ther sup­port the claim that mul­ti­ple authors” had writ­ten the Qur’an. But most of Zul­fikar’s mate­r­i­al is tak­en from Jochen Katz’s so-called Dif­fi­cul­ties in the Qur’an[9]. Any­one who real­ly stud­ies the claims put for­ward in the said mate­ri­als would be able to see that the dif­fi­cul­ties” is mere­ly based on cir­cu­lar rea­son­ing — that the Bible is true and if the Qur’?contradicts the Bible, it is con­sid­ered false. There are also count­less Mus­lims sites which deal with the issue of the so-called con­tra­dic­tions” pro­posed. Nev­er­the­less, we shall deal with the so-called fal­lac­i­es that have been raised in The Daj­jal’s” paper, insha’Allah.

What Mul­ti­ple Authors ?

The crit­ic, in his con­clu­sion, claims that :

With this now before us, how can we con­clude that this text is the word of an Almighty God or even a sin­gle Arab nomad ? It is quite clear that the Qur’?is, as Cook and Crone said at the out­set, the prod­uct of belat­ed and imper­fect edit­ing of mate­ri­als from a plu­ral­i­ty of tra­di­tions.” There is sim­ply no oth­er possibility.

But did a group of Arabs real­ly wrote the Qur’? That is what The Daj­jal” hints at and what his whole the­o­ry’ is depen­dent upon. How­ev­er, he had over­looked a major point : the his­toric­i­ty sur­round­ing the trans­mis­sion of the Qur’? We must note that what the Qur’?teaches goes direct­ly against the pagan Arab cul­ture, reli­gion and gods that exist­ed before the Qur’?was revealed. The Qur’?condemns idol wor­ship­ping, but the pagan Arabs loved their idol gods and wor­shipped them reg­u­lar­ly. The Qur’?raised the sta­tus of women ; the Arabs treat­ed women next to ani­mals. The pagan Arabs would nev­er write some­thing that goes against their most impor­tant belief of idol wor­ship­ping. The Qur’?goes against most of the social habits such as back­bit­ing, slan­der­ing, name-call­ing, etc. which the pagan Arabs were heav­i­ly indulged into. For exam­ple, the pagan Arabs would call insult­ing nick­names such as Abu Jahl (the Father of Igno­rance). The Qur’?condemns and pro­hibits tak­ing inter­est on mon­ey, where­as, the Arabs freely levied heavy inter­est rates in loans and busi­ness­es. The Qur’?condemns and pro­hibits alco­hol drink­ing, where­as the pagan Arabs con­sumed alco­hol freely. The Qur’?condemns and pro­hibits gam­bling, where­as the pagan Arabs were some of the worst gam­blers. The pagan Arabs would nev­er write some­thing so com­pre­hen­sive­ly against just about all of their cus­toms and cul­ture and reli­gious beliefs, as the Qur’?is. Dur­ing the time of the Prophet(P), the pagan Arabs would indulge in all the social habits that the Qur’?condemns and pro­hibits. It is there­fore implau­si­ble to assume that the pagan Arabs would write some­thing that would negate their entire soci­ety’s norms and ideologies.

Fur­ther, no group or indi­vid­ual in Ara­bia ever claimed to have writ­ten it, nor any group or an indi­vid­ual recit­ed, taught, and explained the Qur’?except the Prophet Muhammad(P) and his fol­low­ers. The Prophet Muhammad(P) was the only Ara­bi­an who first prac­tised, explained, and preached the Qur’an and end­ed up mak­ing a lot of Arab tribes ene­mies. Any his­to­ri­an, Mus­lim or non-Mus­lim would argue that the only log­i­cal source of the Qur’?can be the Prophet Mohammad(P), the man respon­si­ble to recite it, teach it and explain it to the peo­ple of Ara­bia. This is fur­ther strength­ened by the words of the Quraysh lead­ers who said to him(P) the following :

O Muham­mad, we have been del­e­gat­ed to talk to you, for by Allah we know not of any Arab before you who have caused more dis­tress and mishap amongst his peo­ple such as you have caused. You have reviled our fore­fa­thers, crit­i­cized our reli­gion and gods, under­mined our judge­ments and caused dis­sent in our com­mu­ni­ty. So if you have inno­vat­ed this new talk because you want mon­ey, we will col­lect mon­ey for you until you become the rich­est amongst us all. If you desire hon­our amongst us, we will make you a mas­ter over us. And if you want roy­al author­i­ty, we will make you a king over us.”[10]

The Daj­jal” respond­ed to the above as follows :

…it should be not­ed that MEN­J’s claim is itself an argu­ment that pre­dates Islam. First of all, the deroga­to­ry state­ments made about the non-Mus­lims liv­ing at the time of Muham­mad can­not be con­firmed via any non-Arab sources. Fur­ther­more, the sort of claims made by the Mus­lim writ­ers bares a strik­ing resem­blance to the sort of polemics Jew­ish mis­sion­ar­ies launched at the assort­ed poly­the­ist hea­thens” for the six cen­turies lead­ing up to the advent of Islam. The sim­i­lar­i­ties are so strong that it makes much of the Islam­ic anti-Jahilooni­toony polemic seem like an obvi­ous out­growth of Jew­ish proselytizing.

The crit­ic accus­es us of depend­ing too much on the so-called Islam­ic polemics”. But by deny­ing the behav­iour of the pagan Arabs dur­ing the peri­od of Jahilliyah, he is also deny­ing a well-known and undis­put­ed his­to­ry of the Arabs, as can be seen here. We also remind the Crit­ic that no evi­dence is not evi­dence and just because there was a lack of infor­ma­tion from non-Mus­lim sources, it does not auto­mat­i­cal­ly inval­i­date the Mus­lim account of pre-Islam­ic Ara­bia. In short, The Daj­jal” is seen as will­ful­ly try­ing to throw out every sin­gle shred of the Mus­lim account of pre-Islam­ic events in order to jus­ti­fy his objection.

In ref­er­ence to an ear­li­er point which we wrote :

Fur­ther, no group or indi­vid­ual in Ara­bia ever claimed to have writ­ten it 

The Daj­jal” had made the fol­low­ing objection :

Nor has any Yahood­ee come forth and claimed respon­si­bil­i­ty for the forg­ing of the Torah. Does the fact that no Hin­du has ever claimed to have writ­ten the Mahab­hara­ta prove that the work is from God ? MEN­J’s argu­men­ta­tion is obvi­ous­ly fallacious.

Or is it real­ly a fal­la­cy” as The Daj­jal” has claimed ? Again, The Daj­jal” total­ly avoids the issue of the pow­er­ful and mov­ing lit­er­ary lan­guage of the Qur’an and the his­toric­i­ty sur­round­ing it.[11] Not only have the pagan Arabs failed to meet the chal­lenge of the Qur’?to make a Sura’ like it, the Mahab­hara­ta and Torah do not even come close to the ijaz of the Qur’an which is acknowl­edged by even the Ori­en­tal­ists. We, there­fore, accuse the crit­ic of com­mit­ting two gross fal­lac­i­es in his charges against us :

    (1) his ten­den­cy to brush away Mus­lim accounts of pre-Islam­ic Ara­bia, and
    (2) ignor­ing the ijaz (the mirac­u­lous style) of the Qur’?and tries to com­pare the text with anoth­er of infe­ri­or language.

These would be enough to end the dis­cus­sion, but much more must be said, espe­cial­ly regard­ing the method­ol­o­gy of The Daj­jal” that (alleged­ly) points to mul­ti­ple hands com­pos­ing the Qur’?

Fur­ther Analy­sis of the Methodology

What The Daj­jal” had done as a basis for his claim of mul­ti­ple hands” is to impose Bib­li­cal crit­i­cism upon the text of the Qur’an ? The claims for a ground of the mul­ti­ple hands” the­o­ry are

  • The use of oaths by God Almighty in the Qur’an
  • The repet­i­tive nature of the Qur’an
  • The so-called con­tra­dic­tions” of the Qur’?lt;/li>

We shall deal with each issue one by one, insha’ allah.

A) Oaths

The Crit­ic repro­duced a pas­sage from Ben­jamin Walk­er, who crit­i­cized the use of oaths in the Qur’? as follows

Some asked what need there was for God to take oaths like any mor­tal being, as when he swears by the fig and olive, and by Mount Sinai (95:1); by the declin­ing day (103:1); and by the stars, the night and the dawn (81:15 – 18). Above all, they asked why the Almighty had to swear on himself[.][12]

But what is the pur­pose of the oaths in the Qur’? exact­ly ? Ahmad Von Denf­fer states that

In a num­ber of places the Qur’?employes oath-like expres­sions (aqsam, sg. qasam). Their func­tion is to strength­en and sup­port an argu­ment and to dis­perse doubts in the mind of the listener.[13]

This is agreed upon by Prof. Dr. Abd al-Rah­man I. Doi, who says that :

In a num­ber of places, the Qur’?employs oath-like expres­sions [aqsam, pl., sg. qasam]. Their func­tion is to strength­en and sup­port an argu­ment and to dis­perse doubts in the mind of the lis­ten­er. Also, it is used to high­light the impor­tance or sacred­ness of some­thing, like the olive [tin] and time [‘asr].[14]

The use of oaths in the Qur’?is not incon­sis­tent with the style of the pagan Arabs who use oaths in their poet­ry. Mus­tan­sir Mir states that

In pre-Islam­ic Ara­bic lit­er­a­ture, two main types of oaths are to be found, the first in poet­ry, which may, there­fore, be called the poet­i­cal oath, and the sec­ond in the utter­ances of kahins, which may be called the kahin oath. The poet­i­cal oath is typ­i­fied by such expres­sions as (i) la amri (by my life), la armu abi­ka (by the life of your father), bi rab­bi’l-ka’­bati (by the Lord of the Ka’bah), and (ii) wa farasi (by my horse) and wa rumhi (by my spear).[15]

Fur­ther, he also wrote that :

The think­ing of Mus­lim writ­ers prob­a­bly went as fol­lows. In swear­ing an oath one makes a solemn state­ment. In swear­ing an oath by a cer­tain object, one presents that object as evi­dence sup­port­ing one’s state­ment, stak­ing one’s hon­our on the state­ment made. That is what one finds in Ara­bic poet­ry. But the Qur’?is God’s very word, and God does not need to stake His hon­our on any­thing, and, con­se­quent­ly, does not need to cite any­one or any­thing in sup­port of what He says. We should not, there­fore, look at the objects He has sworn by as pieces of evi­dence for the state­ments made by Him, but should rather regard them as hav­ing been ele­vat­ed in sta­tus for the sim­ple rea­son that God has cho­sen to swear by them. But a dif­fi­cul­ty arose at this point. If a poet­i­cal oath made a state­ment and sup­port­ed it with evi­dence, while the Qur’an­ic oath made a state­ment with­out cor­rob­o­rat­ing it, then the for­mer would, in a sense, be supe­ri­or to the lat­ter ; and that would be unac­cept­able. There was, how­ev­er, an easy way to vin­di­cate the Qur’an by assert­ing that the poet­i­cal oath, too, did not pro­vide evi­dence but sim­ply lent rhetor­i­cal empha­sis. In oth­er words, not only was the poet­i­cal oath not tak­en as a mod­el for inter­pret­ing the Qur’an­ic oath, the poet­i­cal oath was rein­ter­pret­ed in order to fit the mod­el that had been cre­at­ed in order to solve a the­o­log­i­cal dif­fi­cul­ty. It is in this vein that R ? says : The Qur’?was revealed in the lan­guage of the Arabs, and it was cus­tom­ary for the Arabs to rein­force their state­ments by means of oaths.’[16]

So, in the lay­man’s words, the Qur’?c oaths are sim­ply a rhetor­i­cal device that is used to empha­size the speech with the­o­log­i­cal inter­pre­ta­tions. Keep in mind that the pagan Arabs also deploy this poet­i­cal device by the usage of oaths, such as swear­ing by the tree, by the stone, etc. Since the Qur’?is intend­ed to be a lit­er­ary chal­lenge for the pagan Arabs, it is of course nat­ur­al for it to deploy this device. This cer­tain­ly does not leave room for indi­ca­tions of mul­ti­ple hands”, as insin­u­at­ed by The Dajjal”.

B) Rep­e­ti­tion

This argu­ment is, in our opin­ion, the weak­est point for the the­o­ry of mul­ti­ple hands”, as it is com­mon in Ara­bic poet­ry to involve rep­e­ti­tion. Would the Crit­ic accuse Eng­lish poet­ry as of mul­ti­ple hands” sim­ply because it uses rep­e­ti­tion ? Again, this is relat­ed close­ly to the issue of bal?a (Ara­bic rhetoric). More on the issue of rep­e­ti­tion in the Qur’?can be found at this exter­nal link.

C) The Alleged Con­tra­dic­tions”

Here is anoth­er prob­lem which the Crit­ic point­ed out as an indi­ca­tion of mul­ti­ple hands” being involved in the com­pi­la­tion of the Qur’? Most of these con­tra­dic­tions” were cir­cu­lat­ed from anti-Islam­ic sites and it comes to no sur­prise to us that those hos­tile to Islam will jump upon the band­wag­on. Here, we shall attempt to respond to the so-called dif­fi­cul­ties” the Crit­ic pro­posed in his orig­i­nal article.

First con­tra­dic­tion : the Crit­ic wrote as follows.

…Surah al-Imran 3:45 begins with When the angels said…” while the ver­sion in Maryam 19:17 only has one angel. Mus­lims have tried to rec­on­cile this by claim­ing that the ver­sion in al-Imran is actu­al­ly refer­ring to only one angel, but he is spo­ken of in a plur­al tense out of respect. Regard­less of how true this claim is, the fact still stands that in one ver­sion the angel is giv­en this roy­al plu­ral­i­ty,” while in the oth­er he is not giv­en such respect. This points to vari­ant traditions.

We would not go into the claims of vari­ant tra­di­tions” just yet, how­ev­er, we feel that though such an expla­na­tion by Mus­lims is accept­able, we pro­pose anoth­er which con­forms to and seems to be indi­cat­ed by the orig­i­nal text. If we were to read the vers­es in ques­tion, both Sura’ Aal-Imran (3):45 and Sura’ Maryam (19):17 nev­er stat­ed that the inci­dent is the one and the same. What could pre­vent both of the state­ments to be said at two dif­fer­ent peri­ods of time ? If we read Sura’ 3:45, the angels (plur­al) fore­told Mary the good news about the com­ing of Jesus(P) but did not give the spe­cif­ic time of that event, which was left for Gabriel in a future pre­sen­ta­tion to Mary, as seen in Sura’ 19:17. Note that in Sura’ 19:17, we are told of the spe­cif­ic time of the con­cep­tion of Jesus(P) inside Mary’s womb. After read­ing these vers­es it becomes evi­dent that the assumed con­tra­dic­tion is a direct result of The Daj­jal’s” poor under­stand­ing of the Qur’?

The Daj­jal”, after read­ing my response above, respond­ed with the com­ment as follows :

[…]we still feel that MEN­J’s expla­na­tion is weak. If these were two sep­a­rate events, one would get the impres­sion that poor Maryam suf­fered from mem­o­ry loss. MENJ implies that the dis­cus­sion dis­cussed in Soorat Aal-Imraan took place first, while the one in Soorat Maryam came after­wards. In both cas­es Maryam was told of the com­ing of a son ; what was her response in both cases ?

The crit­ic then pro­ceeds to show Sura’ 3:47 and Sura’ 19:20 as the same response and hence tries to con­clude that both events refer to the same inci­dent, and there­fore, the whole sto­ry in Sura’ Aal-Imran and Sura’ Maryam to be the one and the same. 

First­ly, we agree with the Crit­ic that the afore­men­tioned respons­es of Mary refer to the same inci­dent. How­ev­er, we accuse the crit­ic of con­fus­ing the chronol­o­gy of events pri­or to the excla­ma­tion of Mary. 

Here is the chronol­o­gy of the events lead­ing to the announce­ment of the birth of Jesus(P) to his moth­er, Mary along with the rel­e­vant verses :

  • The angels announces to Mary that she will have a child named Jesus(P). Mary is not told when or how Jesus(P) shall be con­ceived (Sura’ 3:45 – 46)
  • Gabriel appeared per­son­al­ly before Mary and informs her that she is going to have the boy child (Sura’ 19:19)
  • Mary is sur­prised and exclaims on how she could have the child when no man has ever touched her (Sura’ 3:47 ; Sura’ 19:20)
  • Gabriel replies by explain­ing that it is the Will of God that will make it hap­pen (Sura’ 3:20 ; Sura’ 19:21). Note that the angel is referred to in the sin­gu­lar in both cit­ed verses.

This is fur­ther elu­ci­dat­ed when we see that in Sura’ Aal Imran, the angels (plur­al) have used the word yubashiru­ka”, i.e. God gives you the good news of giv­ing birth to a boy child. We know that the words glad tid­ings” or good news” may or may not relate to an imme­di­ate hap­pen­ing. Thus, Mary could have per­ceived the good news” to relate to an event that would take place at some future date, after her mar­riage. On the oth­er hand, in Surah Maryam, the Spir­it uses the word le aha­ba lake’ ”, which means to deliv­er you with” or to present you with”. These words, under the cir­cum­stances, imply that the referred gift was being pre­sent­ed at that par­tic­u­lar instance, and this is what sur­prised Mary.

Hence, again we assert that there is cer­tain­ly no con­tra­dic­tion, and Mary cer­tain­ly did not suf­fer from mem­o­ry loss”, as the Crit­ic sar­cas­ti­cal­ly assumes. We leave it to the read­er to decide whether The Daj­jal’s” crit­i­cisms are jus­ti­fied or otherwise.

Sec­ond con­tra­dic­tion ; the crit­ic said that :

One exam­ple would be the con­tra­dic­tion between surah Ha Mim As-Saj­dah 41:9 – 12 and surah An-Naz­i’at 79:27 – 30…I would like to com­ment on the obvi­ous con­tra­dic­tion between these two vari­a­tions of the cre­ation sto­ry. In the first ver­sion, the heav­ens are adorned after it was said the earth was in exis­tence, while the lat­ter claims exact­ly the opposite. 

We refer to the expla­na­tion by Randy Desmond, as we feel that it is detailed and suf­fi­cient enough to refute the claim of the crit­ic, as follows

    The read­er has to under­stand two things :

    First, the word trans­lat­ed then” is the Ara­bic word thum­ma”. It can be ren­dered as Moreover/​Furthermore”. Jochen shows this in his web page dis­put­ing the num­ber of days of cre­ation. I men­tion it again in my response to that page. It is also true that thum­ma” can be ren­dered then” (as in a sub­se­quent and”).

    Sec­ond, the Ara­bic word for he turned” can be ren­dered as he turned”, ” he has turned”, or he had turned”. The impli­ca­tion being a past action has occurred. See Writ­ten Ara­bic — An Approach to the Basic Struc­tures” by A.F.L. Bee­ston (cost about $25.00), Chap­ter 3, note 22.

    So what does this mean with respect to the vers­es quot­ed by Jochen ?

    It means that Surah 2:29 may be read as follows :

    He it is Who cre­at­ed for you all that is on the Earth. Fur­ther­more, he had turned to the heav­en and had made them into sev­en heavens.

    That is an accept­able trans­la­tion of the Ara­bic and it does not con­flict with Surah 79:27 – 30. In fact if we assume it thum­ma” means then”, the sen­tence could poten­tial­ly be awk­ward. (i.e. “…then he had turned…”)

    So which is the most accu­rate ren­der­ing ? I assume there is no con­tra­dic­tion in the Qur’?and so if I can find a legit­i­mate con­text that ren­ders all the data coher­ent, I accept that as a proof that con­tra­dic­tion has not been proven. I don’t think any­one can claim con­tra­dic­tion” on any­thing unless there is no alter­na­tive expla­na­tion which legit­i­mate­ly explains why a pro­posed con­tra­dic­tion is not a contradiction.

Hence, we have resolved the sec­ond so-called con­tra­dic­tion” pro­posed by the critic.

Third con­tra­dic­tion : the Crit­ic wrote that :

In the Qur’an on two occa­sions it is writ­ten that the Jews, the Chris­tians, the mys­te­ri­ous Sabi­ans, and any­one else who believes in God and does good deeds shall have noth­ing to fear or regret. How­ev­er, surah al-Imran 3:85 con­tra­dicts this claim, by stat­ing that any­one who choos­es a reli­gion oth­er than Islam will have par­adise denied them.

This is a com­mon mis­take allud­ed by the crit­ics of the Qur’? How­ev­er, if one stud­ies the his­toric­i­ty (asbab ul-nuzul) sur­round­ing the verse that states that the Jews, Chris­tians and Sabians[17] would be saved”, one would actu­al­ly dis­cov­er that the verse in ques­tion (Sura’ 5:72) was revealed in reply to a Com­pan­ion of the Prophet(P), who asked the Prophet(P) about the fate of the believ­ers who lived before the com­ing of Islam and did not get to meet the Prophet Muhammad(P) him­self. When seen in this light, it is clear that the verse that stat­ed Jews, Chris­tians and Sabi­ans as well as any­one who has faith in God and per­form good deeds shall have their reward only applies to those before the advent of Islam, not dur­ing or after. We must also under­stand that Islam has nev­er claimed itself to be a new reli­gion, and always stressed itself as the one reli­gion of mankind, from the Prophet Adam(P). So, the mean­ing is that Jews had to fol­low the Torah until the Injil was revealed. After that, the Jews had to fol­low the Injil until the Qur’?was revealed. After that, they had to fol­low the Qur’?as in Qur’? 3:85. Thus, Islam rec­og­nizes true faith in oth­er forms and those who lived before Islam and meet the cri­te­ria set are still con­sid­ered to be saved”, and there­fore it is clear that there is no con­tra­dic­tion” here.

The Fal­la­cy of Apply­ing Tex­tu­al Crit­i­cism of the Bible to the Qur’an

The crit­ic acknowl­edges that he is mere­ly reap­ply­ing tex­tu­al crit­i­cisms of the Bible to the Qur’? How­ev­er, this is already an anachro­nis­tic fal­la­cy. It is well-known that the mem­o­riza­tion of the whole Qur’?took place dur­ing the Prophet’s(P) time and long after his death, and that the efforts of com­pil­ing the writ­ten text of the Qur’?took its final form dur­ing the rule of the Caliph Uthman[18]. How­ev­er, the Bible was com­piled after a series of con­tri­bu­tions of var­i­ous mul­ti­ple authors, some of which are unknown. We read that

The oth­er glar­ing dif­fer­ence between the method­ol­o­gy of the exe­ge­sis of the Bible and that of the Qur’?is that the for­mer has mul­ti­ple author­ship, while the lat­ter is the rev­e­la­tion from All?to the Prophet (S.A.W.). As for exam­ple, the canon­i­cal book of Isa­iah, though con­sti­tut­ing a sin­gle book has at least two sep­a­rate authors ; one address­ing an eighth cen­tu­ry B.C. sit­u­a­tion, the oth­er a sixth cen­tu­ry B.C. event’. In the New Tes­ta­ment, thir­teen oth­er writ­ings are attrib­uted to the apos­tle Paul. His author­ship of six of these is wide­ly dis­put­ed. They appear to have been com­piled and col­lect­ed into their final form long after Paul’s death but are still attrib­uted to him.[19]

We clear­ly see that even with­in the Bible, the time span between the dif­fer­ent books of the Bible is obvi­ous­ly wide, but the Qur’an does not have such problems. 

Thus, it is clear to us that it would be a sad mis­take to apply the same method­olo­gies used for Bib­li­cal tex­tu­al crit­i­cism to the Qur’an as we are talk­ing about two dif­fer­ent books with two dis­tinct his­tor­i­cal backgrounds.


It can be seen that to claim that the Qur’?was com­posed by a group of Arab nomads who decid­ed one day to dis­card their long-held pagan idol wor­ship­ping and oth­er prac­tices is a the­o­ry that is, amus­ing as it may be, fab­u­lous in its absur­di­ty and does not stand up to the scrutiny. 

More­over, we can see that the claim of rep­e­ti­tion and oaths as being a proof of the work of dif­fer­ent authors is unsub­stan­ti­at­ed, as the Qur’an is con­form­ing to Ara­bic gram­mat­i­cal rule, espe­cial­ly of bal­agha (Ara­bic rhetoric), being con­sis­tent with its claim of being a Book sent in clear Ara­bic intend­ed as a lit­er­ary chal­lenge to the pagan Arabs of Makkah. 

The next claim of alleged con­tra­dic­tions” with­in the Qur’?is a somber attempt at point­ing to vari­ant hands”, but there sim­ply isn’t any con­tra­dic­tion with­in the Qur’an if one puts a lit­tle more thought to the claimed con­tra­dic­to­ry” texts. There­fore, there is no basis what­so­ev­er to adhere to revi­sion­ist” the­o­ries about the ori­gins of Qur’an and Islam in general.


[1] As cit­ed by The Daj­jal” in his arti­cle from P. Crone & M. Cook, Hagarism : The Mak­ing of the Islam­ic World, (Cam­bridge, 1977) p. 18

[2] Quot­ed in M A S Abdel Haleem, Gram­mat­i­cal Shift For The Rhetor­i­cal Pur­pos­es : Iltif?And Relat­ed Fea­tures In The Qur’?lt;/strong>, Bul­letin of the School of Ori­en­tal and African Stud­ies, 1992, Vol­ume LV, Part 3. An online ver­sion of this arti­cle can be found at http://​www​.islam​ic​-aware​ness​.org/​Q​u​r​a​n​/​T​e​x​t​/​G​r​a​m​m​a​r​/​i​l​t​i​f​a​a​t​.​h​tml

[3] P Crone & M Cook, Hagarism : The Mak­ing Of The Islam­ic World (Cam­bridge, 1977), p. 8

[4] As cit­ed in http://​www​.mus​lim​-answers​.org/​e​x​p​o​-​05​c​.​htm from Humphreys, Islam­ic His­to­ry, p. 85

[5] As cit­ed in ibid, from Jour­nal of Roy­al Asi­at­ic Society

[6] As cit­ed in ibid, Josef Van Ess, The Mak­ing of Islam

[7] Waines, An Intro­duc­tion To Islam, pp. 273 – 274

[8] Per­son­al­ly, I feel that resort­ing to a Hin­du to crit­i­cize Islam is hyp­o­crit­i­cal, as a Hin­du would also resort to crit­i­cisms of Chris­tians and Athe­ists. Mr. Zul­fikar Khan’s arti­cle can be seen at

[9] Mr. Katz’s ridicu­lous asser­tions can be seen at http://​www​.answer​ing​-islam​.org/​Q​u​r​a​n​/​C​o​n​tra

[10] Zakaria A. Bashier, The Mec­can Cru­cible, pp. 96 – 96

[11] Please refer to anoth­er arti­cle authored by this writer on this top­ic, Response To Claims Made Against The Elo­quence of the Qur’?quot ;

[12] As cit­ed by The Daj­jal” from Walk­er, Foun­da­tions of Islam (Peter Owen, 1998), p. 156

[13] Ahmad Von Denf­fer, Ulum Al-Quran : An Intro­duc­tion to the Sci­ences of the Qur’?lt;/em> (The Islam­ic Foun­da­tion, 1983), p. 78

[14] Prof. Abd al-Rah­man I. Doi, The Sci­ences of the Qur’? A Study in Method­ol­o­gy and Approach (Syn­er­gy Books Inter­na­tion­al, 1998), p. 431

[15] Mutan­sir Mir, The Qur’?Oaths : Far?‘s Inter­pre­ta­tion, Islam­ic Stud­ies, 1990, Spring Issue. An online ver­sion of this arti­cle can be found at http://​www​.islam​ic​-aware​ness​.org/​Q​u​r​a​n​/​Q​_​S​t​u​d​i​e​s​/​m​i​r​o​a​t​h​s​.​htm.

[16] Ibid.

[17] The Crit­ic refers to the Sabi­ans as mys­te­ri­ous”, how­ev­er it has been ascer­tained that the Sabi­ans” of the Qur’?are the Chris­t­ian Gnos­tic Man­deans, or also known as the Chris­tians of St. John (the Bap­tist)”. Refer to http://​www​.sabi​an​.org/​s​a​b​i​a​n​.​htm and http://i‑

[18] This is an issue that has been con­stant­ly twist­ed and maimed by the Chris­t­ian mis­sion­ar­ies (with Athe­ists jump­ing on the band­wag­on as well), despite the evi­dence of the Qur’?s preser­va­tion. Please see this writer’s co-authored arti­cle, What Is The Degree of the Authen­tic­i­ty of the Qur’?Historically?”

[19] Prof. Abd al-Rah­man I. Doi, Op. Cit., pp. 307 – 308Endmark







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