First major revision: 14 August, 2003
Second major revision: 29 December 2004
Third major revision: 12 June, 2010
NOTE: All Koranic quotations are from AL-QUR'AN: A Contemporary Translation by Prof. Ahmed Ali, copyright 1984, published by Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-02046-9. Quotations from the Koran will be referenced by Surah number and verse number(s) separated by a colon (e.g., 28:15-19 is Surah number 28, verses 15 through 19). Links to Qur'an search engines utilizing other translations are provided at the end of the article.
Allahu Akbar. God is the greatest!
Theists should certainly agree with that sentiment. God is also all-powerful and sovereign in authority. That being the case there is no fundamental reason why God could not present a final Great Revelation to mankind through the medium of an unschooled merchant from the sand-swept peninsula of seventh century pagan Arabia. Muhammad of Mecca was also of the seed of Abraham through his ancestor Ishmael and therefore could be rightly called upon to service in the name of the one true God. The only question of relevance regarding the Koran (Qur'an) is whether Muhammad's call to service was fraudulent, delusional, from Satan, or truly from God Almighty. The rest of this article seeks to answer that question.
This examination of the Koran was begun long before the terrorist attacks of 9-11-2001. I come from a Christian background and wanted to know the scriptural foundation of Islam. Going to the religion section of a well-stocked bookstore I simply read jacket endorsements and selected Prof. Ali's work as the best of the four versions of the Koran available on the shelf. I read it once to get the general feel of the Koran, and then read it a second time with an eye towards preparing this article.
Being familiar with the Judeo-Christian Bible (the KJV and NIV in particular), I am used to the general structure and flow of the Bible. That is, the Bible is arranged from our cosmic origins in Genesis Chapter 1, and then on through the Torah, histories, praise and teachings, prophets, Gospels, acts, epistles and finally the apocalyptic end of this worldly age and beginning of the New Heaven & New Earth in the Book of Revelation.
I was a little disconcerted to find no structure or flow in the Koran. Each “Surah” is a totally independent and separate entity. After a seven verse introductory Prologue Surah, the remaining one hundred and thirteen revelatory Surahs in the Koran are, by tradition, arranged roughly from longest Surahs, through medium length Surahs, and ending with the shortest Surahs. However, the Surahs in the Koran could be arranged in any random order (or in original chronological order, for that matter) with no theological or literary impact whatsoever.
Before getting down to specifics I will relate my general impressions of the Koran. Having read it twice, three main characteristics stand out:
All of this gives the Koran a false sense of heft. It really is not as big or extensive as its physical size would seem to indicate. In the end there is surprisingly little in the Koran that is substantial, original and unique. But enough of impressions; it is now time to get down to case points. Please join me as I evaluate the Koran according to its own claims and promises as they relate to Islam, the Jewish Torah and the Christian Gospel.
However, before I proceed I need to address a serious objection leveled against me over the years by Muslim scholars and apologists. They charge that I am unqualified to evaluate the Koran because I have no formal credential relating to the task. My answer is that the task is so easy and straightforward no credential is needed. All that is required is a general knowledge of the Jewish and Christian religions (their histories, basic theologies and scriptures) and an honest translation of the Qur'an. I have also endeavored to provide adequate citation throughout so as to allow the reader to check my work.
And now, without further ado…
Since the Koran has no structure and simply rambles from subject to subject in its Surahs, I am going to approach the following topics in alphabetical order.
Abraham was the Koran's ideal of nearly perfect faith and religious performance. In 2:130 Allah says, “Who will turn away from the creed of Abraham but one dull of soul? We [i.e. Allah] made him the chosen one here in the world, and one of the best in the world to come…” And in 3:67-68, “Neither was Abraham a Jew nor a Christian, but upright and obedient, and not an idolater. Of all men the nearest to Abraham are those who follow him, and then this Prophet [i.e. Muhammad] and the faithful; …”
Abrogation and “Best of histories”
Webster's New World Dictionary (Third College Edition) defines ‘abrogate’ as: “to cancel or repeal by authority; annul”. God is sovereign, all-knowing and all-wise. God has full authority to modify, repeal or replace His commands and instructions at will. However, for the purposes of this article I make a distinction between ‘abrogate’ and ‘contradict’. A proper abrogation will state the previous rule or law, give at least a brief explanation of why a change is taking place, and then make the change. A contradiction simply states a different, and conflicting, rule or law without making any comment account or explanation of the original rule or law.
An example of a proper abrogation is found in Leviticus chapter 16. Prior to the improper ceremonial acts committed by Aaron's sons (Lev 10:1-2), the High Priest could enter the Most Holy Place in the Tabernacle whenever he chose to do so. Because of that disobedience God abrogated the previous condition, stated why the abrogation was taking place, and gave the new instructions for the proper ceremonial procedure for entering the Most Holy Place just once a year on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).
In the following subsections I will be pointing out several instances where the Koran makes changes or additions contradictory to the Torah without making proper abrogation of the original rule or law. This is a very serious problem because the Koran repeatedly “confirms” (i.e. ‘attests’, ‘corroborates’, or ‘validates’) the Torah. If the Torah and Koran are true Divine Revelations from the same Diety, then contradictory changes from one to the other make God look ignorant, forgetful or foolish. Indeed, I came to the conclusion in the original version of this article that these contradictory changes were the result of simple ignorance of the Torah. Since God cannot be ignorant, this led me to the reasonable (but erroneous) opinion that Muhammad wrote the Koran and invented the new religion of Islam entirely out of his own imagination and limited knowledge. Subsequent investigation of Islamic apologetics material forced me to acknowledge the supernatural origin of the Koran—which only aggravates the problem of contradiction. That is, how to account for these serious flaws in a revelatory work that should be absolutely flawless!
On a related concern, although the primary purpose of the Koran is to confirm and reaffirm the absolute monotheistic ONE-ness of God Almighty, the Koran obviously deals with a wide range of subjects. Closely associated with the above considerations of abrogation are the promises Allah made regarding the Koran. These promises are extremely relevant in evaluating the claim of Divine origin of the Koran. Allah explicitly promised mankind: “the best of histories of which you were unaware before” and “a verification of earlier Books” and “a clear exposition of everything” and “A clear discourse which expounds all things without obliquity (Surahs 12:3 & 111, and 39:27-28)”. Webster's 3rd New International Dictionary defines ‘obliquity’ as: “(1a) deviation from moral rectitude or sound thinking. (3a) indirectness or deliberate obscurity of speech or conduct. (3b) an obscure or confusing statement.”
Certainly no one should be so petty as to expect the Koran to give “best histories” of irrelevant events or “clear discourses” on trivial subjects. However, at the risk of offending Muslim readers I must say that the following subsections will illustrate several instances of very serious obliquity in the Koran. Be that as it may, since Allah-the-Creator freely made the promises and claims about the Koran related above, it is entirely reasonable for man-the-creature to take Allah at his word. There is nothing tricky, deceitful or blasphemous in this. Indeed, the Koran should address all relevant issues, answer all important questions, and solve all pertinent problems.
I regard three historical/theological areas as being vitally important in anything to do with God and a final post-Biblical Revelation to mankind. First, a “clear discourse” on the Mosaic Covenant in the Jewish Torah (as relates to the priesthood, Tabernacle, and animal sacrifice blood atonement system) as revealed by God to the prophet Moses. This highly detailed and extensive Covenant was at the very heart of Jewish spiritual life for fifteen hundred years and formed the theological foundation of Apostles' Creed Christianity. Second, the Koran must give a detailed “exposition” of the mission, ministry and final fate of Jesus. Third, the Koran must present a “best history” on the ministry of the apostle Paul (who is not mentioned at all in the Koran), the rise of Apostles' Creed Trinitarian Christianity, and the origin of the Christian Bible (which is also not mentioned at all in the Koran). The following subsections will expand upon these concerns.
Although America is certainly not mentioned in the Koran, I thought the following quote of 60:7-9 to be appropriate in the aftermath of the 9-11-01 Jihadist attacks: “It may be that God will create love between you and your enemies. God is all-powerful, and God is forgiving, ever-merciful. God does not forbid you from being kind and acting justly towards those who did not fight over faith with you, nor expelled you from your homes. God indeed loves those who are just. He only forbids you from making friends with those who fought over faith with you and banished you from your homes, and aided in your exile.”
America has been kind and acted justly to people of all faiths. Our Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law; one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Many Islamic nations cannot say the same.
If Allah and Muslims expect to win Christians to Islam (by means other than simple brute coercion) it is vitally important for the Koran to provide a “best history” regarding the original ministry and final fate of Jesus, the origin of the Christian Bible (the Bible is not mentioned by name in the Koran), and the rise of orthodox Trinitarian Christianity as they existed in the time of Muhammad. In preparation of the second major revision of this article I did something that I really should have done in the very beginning: brought together in one uninterrupted series all noteworthy references in the Koran to Jesus, Christianity and the Gospel. These references are:
Surahs 2:87, 105-146 & 253 & 266; 3:1-4 & 19-20 & 31-75 & 84 & 98-100 & 110-118 & 187; 4:156-163 & 171-172; 5:12-19 & 43-49 & 66-78 & 82-84 & 109-120; 6:83-92; 7:157-158; 9:30-34 & 111; 17:56-57 & 104; 18:102; 19:2-37 & 88; 21:26 & 89-93; 23:50; 33:7-8; 42:13; 43:57-65; 48:29; 57:26-28; Surah #61; and 66:12.
Upon reading these references as a continuous whole, three things become immediately obvious. First, there is really not very much there. All of this material strung end to end (including repetitions) would amount to only four or five chapters in the Christian Testament. Therefore it is nowhere close to being a “best history”. It simply doesn't give a clear or complete discourse of everything that needs to be revealed about Jesus, the Bible and the rise of Trinitarian Christianity.
Second, it is clear that the main purpose of the ministry of Jesus was to confirm the Torah to the Jews. But this claim presents a couple of very serious problems for Allah, the Koran, and Islam. If Jesus was confirming some pristine original, uncorrupted Islamic version of the Torah to the Jews of His time, then this begs the question, “Where did Jesus get this original Islamic Torah, for none are known to exist? What was His source?” But having this Islamic Torah in-hand and then trying to confirm it publicly, the Jewish religious leaders would have reacted against Him with almost the same animosity as with the Christian claim that Jesus was the Son of God. Both claims would have brought down on Jesus the penalty of death for blasphemy and heresy. Either Jesus would have been killed by stoning at the direct hands of an outraged Jewish Sanhedrin, or the Sanhedrin would have set Him up for execution by the pagan Romans; exactly as related in the Christian Gospel. Either way, Jesus would have been killed at that time, not “raised up” alive into heaven as related in the Koran.
If, however, Jesus was confirming the present day Torah to the Jews of His time, then this ministry is downright puzzling. As an exercise in ‘hauling coals to Newcastle’, this was a mission that was not needed at that time. The Jews already recognized the Torah as Revelation from God and were practicing the Law of Moses completely and faithfully. Would Allah need to raise up a Divinely conceived prophet in Mecca today to confirm the Koran to Muslims? No! They already recognize it. Would such a ministry be needed to convince Muslims to practice the Pillars of Islam? Again, no! They already practice it with zeal. Such was the case with the Mosaic Jews two thousand years ago. So the prophetic ministry of Jesus was unneeded and accomplished nothing, especially since Allah was soon to cancel, contradict or ignore virtually everything about the Torah and Mosaic Judaism—the very things being confirmed in the Koran! If the Biblical Torah in the time of Muhammad was not the same as the Torah originally revealed by Allah through the prophet Moses, then all the more reason to explicitly state this vitally important fact in the Koran and make all due corrections. It is obliquity for the Koran to have Jesus confirming some now-extinct and unobtainable pristine original Islamic Torah (or “Taurat”) when the only thing known to exist at that time was the Biblical Torah.
Third, the Koran confirms that Jesus revealed a Gospel (or “Injil”) from Allah. The problem here is that the only ‘Gospel’ available today for examination are the Christian Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Even the so-called “lost gospels” do not help the cause of Islam. I challenge Muslims to produce a manuscript of the original Islamic “Gospel” of Jesus that can be authenticated and dated to before the birth of Muhammad (especially one that mentions “Ahmad” as the coming Great Prophet). I have never heard of such a Gospel and doubt that one exists. As an exercise I read through the Gospel according to Mark (the shortest and easiest of the four Gospels), to see if it could be changed to conform to the material cited above as presented in the Koran. I don't see any way to do this without totally rewriting the whole book to such an extent that it would be unrecognizable to what's in the Bible. The situation with Matthew and Luke is much more difficult, and the Gospel according to St. John would have to be disposed of altogether as utterly beyond repair. It is deep and serious obliquity for Allah to repeatedly confirm a “Gospel” that cannot be produced for examination and verification.
To understand the full significance of all this, please consider that by the time Allah started to reveal the Koran to Muhammad in the year 610 C.E., Apostles' Creed Christianity was already an old religion having been in existence for several centuries; millions of people had been confirmed as Christians; the Church had a large and formal structure; Christian theology (I'll touch on the Trinity shortly) was deep and complex; and the canon of the Bible (especially the four Gospels) had long since been finalized.
The point that I am making here is that Allah surely must have known that the truth-statements he was about to make in the Koran would utterly destroy Christianity. There is no way that Muhammad and the followers of Islam could say to Christians: “Jesus is not the Son of God, he did not die on the cross, he was not resurrected from the dead on the morning of the third day, and there is no need for blood atonement. Your scriptures are a total lie!” and expect Christians to roll over and meekly say: “Our religion that we have practiced for almost six hundred years is false. We bow in submission to a new, unverified and unsubstantiated revelation.” If Allah expects Christians to abandon our faith then Allah must keep his promise to provide a “best history” about the ministry and final fate of Jesus, along with the fullest exposition of the correct and original Islamic Gospel of Jesus, and a complete discourse on the rise of the false religion of Trinitarian Christianity.
This is as good a place as any to address the extremely difficult problem of the Trinity. The Koran misrepresents or misstates the Christian doctrine of the Trinity every single time that it is mentioned. For example, Orthodox Christians are not saying that the Trinity is God + Jesus + Mary (5:116), or any other combination of God plus two other humans, angels, deities, demigods, jinni or demons. Jesus never suggested such a thing in the Christian Gospel, and I can find no indication that this particular idea was ever taught within Christianity even as a heresy. Therefore this misrepresentation stands as a flat-out error which indicates deep and profound ignorance on the part of whoever (or whatever) revealed the Koran to Muhammad.
Nor are we saying that three independent deities/angels/humans got together to form a partnership and become “the one true God”. Christians believe and teach that God is transcendently ONE throughout all eternity (Mark 12:29-32). However, early Church philosophers and theologians—looking back across the great sweep of Jewish and Christian history and scripture—were able to clearly discern that the ONE true God was interacting and ministering to mankind in three very distinctly different modes, or ‘Persons’. The first mode is that of God revealing Himself to us as the ‘Father’, which Jews might recognize as Elohim and Muslims as Allah. The second distinct mode (which should not particularly offend Jew or Muslim) is that of God ministering to us as the invisible ‘Holy Spirit’ providing comfort, guidance, inspiration, counsel and instruction.
The third (and extremely controversial) mode is that of the ONE true God enfleshing Himself into this world through the Divinely conceived, fully human “Jesus of Nazareth”. At this point I must address another couple of misrepresentations (that border on the obscene) about the Christian Gospel made by the Koran and Islamic apologists. When the Christian Biblical Gospel says that Jesus is “the Son of God” or “the only begotten Son” it is not implying the pagan idea that God the Father materialized Himself as a physical man who intimidated or seduced a poor Jewish virgin girl into having sex, got her pregnant with his God-sperm, then dumped her (As the Koran repeatedly insinuates. Please read the quote from H. L. Mencken in the links section for his distorted take on this subject.). Nor did God as the Holy Spirit masturbate Himself to get Mary pregnant by “coming” all over her (Luke 1:35), and then abandoning her to an uncertain fate as some Islamic apologists pornographically assert. Surely God is too holy and immaculate to do such things.
The logic and reasoning of the Christian Gospels are very simple and direct: whoever gets a woman pregnant—by whatever means, natural or supernatural— is the father of the resulting child. If the resulting child is male, then that child is the son of the father—whoever the father is. If this father produces only one child, then this child would be the ‘only begotten’ of the father.
The direct Christian claim is that God Almighty, through supernatural and Divine power involving absolutely NO physical contact, caused His willing and righteous servant Mary to miraculously conceive with child. The resulting child was a male named Jesus who was therefore the “Son of God”. God Almighty produced only one such child, therefore Jesus is “the only begotten” of God.
The Gospel according to Dr. Luke, Chapter 1, verses 26-38 clearly shows that Mary conceived child by the will and power of the immaterial Spirit of God Almighty. God said: “BE”, and it was (19:35)! The Biblical Gospel and the Koran are actually in agreement on this point.
It seems to me that there is a psychological revulsion in the minds of many people (especially Jews and Muslims) against the idea of a literal, physical Immanuel—“God with us” (Matthew 1:18-25). There is little or no controversy in the idea that God would interact with mankind from His high and heavenly position of power and glory as the Father (as He did with Moses during the Exodus), or for God to minister to us through the invisible mode of the Holy Spirit. But the idea of God entering physically into this world through the mode of a woman-born human baby Jesus seems messy, dirty and undignified; too messy for a holy and immaculate God.
There are, however, important theological and practical reasons for this:
The Biblical claims of the Divine conception of Jesus make sense and serve purpose in the Christian theological paradigm whether or not anybody knew about the claims at the time, but make no sense and serve no purpose at all in the Muslim paradigm. That is, from a Qur'anic standpoint there was no practical or religious advantage or benefit in Jesus being Divinely conceived if he was, in fact, merely a human prophet and not the unique incarnation of God Almighty; especially if nobody knew about the claims at the time of his physical ministry on Earth.
In fairness I must admit that the claims of Christianity are so difficult because it is difficult to understand how the transcendent, infinite, eternal God Almighty could come into this world through the Divinely conceived Jesus, yet Jesus be an actual human being who could suffer and die. That is, assuming the Christian claims to be true, how can we know that Jesus was not just an illusion or God masquerading as a human?
However, if God is to satisfy the demands of His own holy character and make good the demands of blood atonement revealed in His own Torah then the penalty of DEATH must be paid; either by the sinner himself or by an acceptable substitute. Since the acceptable substitute must himself be fully human and without sin, then God must find a way to raise up a genuine sinless man.
God did this through the Divine conception of Jesus (confirmed in the Koran), the intimate presence of God's Holy Spirit in Jesus throughout his life (also confirmed in the Koran), along with a submissive obedience to the will of God the Father so perfect and complete that it can be said without error or blasphemy that Jesus was Immanuel: “God with us”. But this was exactly what was needed to satisfy the Law of God as revealed in the Torah. Judaism does not take its own theology far enough to cover these points, and Islam ignores them entirely. Once a clear and proper understanding of the correct doctrine of the Trinity is made, Christians and Muslims are actually in agreement. God is not torn into three separate pieces, nor are there three gods or associates or compeers who came together to form God. God is ONE. God is supreme. There is no god but GOD.
Of course, if the Koran's take on the Christian Scriptures is correct, then orthodox Apostles' Creed Christianity is a monumental hoax and criminal fraud against humanity. Surah 2:75-79 puts the matter bluntly: “How do you expect them to put their faith in you, when you know that some among them heard the word of God and, having understood, perverted it knowingly?… Do they not know that God is aware of what they hide and what they disclose? Among them are heathens who know nothing of the Book but only what they wish to believe, and are only lost in fantasies. But woe to them who fake the Scriptures and say: “This is from God,” so that they might earn some profit thereby: and woe to them for what they fake, and woe to them for what they earn from it!”
Consider the following verses, 4:157-158: “And for saying: “We [i.e. the Jews] killed the Christ, Jesus, son of Mary, who was an apostle of God;” but they neither killed nor crucified him, though it so appeared to them. Those who disagree in the matter are only lost in doubt. They have no knowledge about it other than conjecture, for surely they did not kill him, but God raised him up in position and closer to Himself; and God is all-mighty and all-wise.” And 19:33-34: “ “There was peace on me [i.e. Jesus speaking here] the day I was born, and will be the day I die, and on the day I will be raised from the dead.” This was Jesus, son of Mary; A true account they contend about.”
These four verses constitute absolutely everything the Koran has to relate about the final fate of Jesus. Aside from the obvious contradiction of Jesus dying (19:33-34) yet not dying (4:157-158), the Koran's obliquitous lack of detail, clarity and precision makes these verses very difficult to interpret. If these verses are simply saying that technically the Jews did not kill Jesus, then this was common knowledge even in Muhammad's time; the gentile Romans did the actual dirty work as clearly recorded in the Christian Scriptures. Or perhaps the Koran was addressing the rumor that the Jews themselves stoned Jesus to death. Although the Christian symbol of the Cross would be invalidated, there would be no real impact on Christian theology as long as Jesus was actually killed at that time.
If, however, these verses are saying that Jesus did not die at all (or died much later of other causes, or was raised up into heaven and is currently awaiting a physical return to Earth), then orthodox Christianity utterly collapses. If Jesus did not die on the cross at the hands of the Romans (thereby spreading the blame on Jew and Gentile alike) or die by stoning at the hands of the Jews, then he cannot be the blood atonement for the sins of mankind. After all, the sacrificial offering cannot avoid or survive the sacrifice. If Allah is to keep his promises to provide “best of histories” and “a clear exposition of everything”, then the Koran must provide enough information to allow the reader to easily answer these five simple but highly relevant questions:
Using the information in the Biblical Gospels, Christians can assign these specific answers:
Even if the Biblical Gospel is a 100% fake, specific answers can be made. Even if the answers are false, at least they are answers! The Koran, however, is so lacking in basic information that none of these questions can be adequately answered. Let's give it a try:
Perhaps I am being unreasonable. Perhaps these questions are too obscure, petty and nitpicky to trouble Allah the all-knowing and all-seeing. So, how about one single, simple, easy-to-answer question: When did Jesus live?
Christians might venture the answer that Jesus was born in the year 4 B.C.E. and died in the year 30 C.E. (plus or minus a year or two). I challenge any Muslim scholar to answer this question at all. The Koran is so lacking in basic relevant information that the best one can say about the life of Jesus is that he was born sometime after Moses, and died (or was raised up) sometime before Muhammad. You cannot be any more precise than that. But that's almost two thousand years! Christians can put Jesus in a specific timeframe. Muslims cannot put Jesus in any specific century.
In addition to that, the Koran repeatedly stated that Jesus was not the Son of God (1). In 4:171 the Koran clearly said, “The Messiah who is Jesus, son of Mary, was only an apostle of God, …and do not call Him ‘Trinity’ …for God is only one God, and far from His glory is it to beget a son.” This however puts Muhammad and Islam in a real bind. The Koran clearly recognized Jesus as a Divinely conceived prophet/apostle/Messiah (2) who had a forerunner/herald (see ‘John the Baptist’ in subsection 7), worked many signs wonders and miracles (3), and revealed an important Gospel message from Allah (4). His ministry was destroyed by enemies and the Gospel message was corrupted (5), so the Koran had to set everything straight.
The problem here is that the Koran revealed only disconnected bits and pieces about that important gospel message. Surely God did not have to raise up a Divinely conceived, wonder working, Gospel-preaching prophet/apostle/Messiah to reveal a Gospel that amounted to little more than nothing. If there was anything else of substance in Jesus' important Gospel message, none of it was recorded in the Koran. That is, there is no way to reconstruct the original Islamic “Injil” of Jesus from the information in the Koran.
Indeed, any way you look at the situation, Jesus is a major problem for Islam. On the one hand, if Jesus was “raised up” near the time Christians claim that he was crucified, then Allah himself inexplicably put an early end to the ministry of a critically important Muslim prophet thereby lending credence to the false rumor of death and bodily resurrection that would form the basis of the heretical false religion of Christianity. On the other hand, if Jesus lived a long full life before being “raised up”, the question is begged as to why he didn't simply present himself publicly as alive and well, thereby ending Christianity before it could begin, while completing his mission as a Muslim prophet/apostle/Messiah with a faithfully recorded Muslim “Gospel” preserved for modern day examination.
The Koranic claim that Jesus was ‘Messiah’ is also problematic. The Jews of that time expected a Messiah (or Anointed One) who would throw off the yoke of foreign tyranny, restore the glory days of Israel, and establish universal peace, prosperity and justice. Christians claimed that Jesus Messiah was the Son of God come to atone for the sins of mankind and offer eternal life. Muslims claimed that the Messiah (if that word had any real meaning in a pagan Arab context) would confirm the Torah, perform many miracles, reveal a ‘Gospel’, and act as the forerunner and herald of the final Great Prophet.
Therefore if the Koran's version of the Gospel is correct then Jesus must be counted as an embarrassing ‘three strike’ failure. He failed as a Jewish Messiah, failed as a Christian Messiah, and failed miserably as a Muslim Messiah. Indeed, the ministry of Jesus as recorded in the Koran would have to be recognized as being worse than worthless because the heretical/blasphemous false religion of Christianity was founded upon the ruins of a failed Muslim Messiah. This would be a pitiful commentary on the weakness, impotence and incompetence of Allah the all-powerful all-wise and all-knowing.
Apparently, whoever (or whatever) revealed the Koran to Muhammad simply was not familiar with Mosaic Judaism or Apostles' Creed Christianity. The Koran gives the impression that everything was just a big misunderstanding, and that with the fresh, uncorrupted, corrected revelation of the Koran everyone could come together in harmony under the big-top tent of Islam. 3:64 states, “O people of the Book, let us come to an agreement on that which is common between us, that we worship no one but God, and make none His compeer [i.e. Jesus as a mere human prophet, Mary, pagan/heathen gods, etc.], and that none of us take any others for lord apart from God.”
I'm sure Muhammad sincerely felt that this was very reasonable and was probably miffed when Jews and Christians failed to come around to his way of thinking. But the entire passage of 3:64-71 is a poison pill for Christianity. Again, if the Koran was correct then all of Mosaic Judaism and orthodox Christianity were wrong, making both of them utterly false religions and corruptors of original Revelation and history.
Gabriel and the Holy Spirit
This subsection is new to the Third Revision as a result of recent research utilizing alternate translations of the Koran in support of my correspondence with Muslim apologists. My reference translation by Prof. Ahmed Ali does not use the term “Holy Spirit”, and I assumed that this was a term that would not be used by any other Koranic translators due to its close association with Trinitarian Christianity. Simple clarity and good common sense would seem to dictate its strict avoidance.
While using the University of Southern California's Koran search engine [NOTE: That site shut down after I finalized this article. Other sites with same translators linked at end.] I came upon Surah 2:87 in which all three translators used the term “holy spirit”. My reference translation renders this verse as: “…and to Jesus, son of Mary, We [i.e. Allah] gave clear evidence of the truth, reinforcing him with divine grace. …” The translators on the USC site (Yusufali, Pickthal & Shakir) all used the term ‘holy spirit’ instead of ‘divine grace’, as does Dr. Rashad Khalifa in his translation (linked below). The IslamiCity engine (also linked below) has translator M. Asad rendering the term as “holy inspiration”. The SearchTruth engine (also linked at end) has Mohsin Khan's translation. He does not try to translate the term, but rather transliterates it as “Ruh ul-Qudus” and then references that term directly as being the angel Gabriel!
Remember, Allah promises clear discourse without obliquity in his Qur'an, so my curiosity was seriously piqued by an Arabic term that could be so variably translated and understood. It turns out that the term ‘Ruh ul-Qudus’ is very slippery and difficult even for native speakers of Arabic. The confusion is compounded just ten verses later at 2:97 when the explicit name of the angel Gabriel (Jibreel) is used without the term ‘Ruh ul-Qudus’. I went online to three Islamic scholarly sites to inquire about this situation.
My first inquiry went to islamweb.net (question #2264869) as “Is Arabic word for holy Spirit in 2.87 same as Arabic word for Gabriel in 2.97? If yes, why different translations for same word? If no, why different words for same thing?” [NOTE: I had only a few seconds to submit my question to the website before being automatically logged out, hence the brevity and stilted wording of my question]
The scholarly reply (or “Fatwa”) was:
“We thank you for your message and ask Allaah (Subhaanahu Wa T'aala) to guide you and us to His Right Path and help us all follow His Religion and Law. As for your question, the Arabic word used in 2.87 is “Ruh al Qudus” which literally means Holy Spirit (i.e. Gabriel), but the Arabic word used in 2.97 is explicitly Jibreel (i.e. Gabriel)? [sic] Hence, there are no different translations for same word, simply because they are two different words although the final meaning is the same. Regards.”
My second inquiry was like unto the first and went to the scholars at islamqa.com. Their reply referred me to a previously submitted question related to the same subject. That Fatwa really didn't answer my direct questions, but here it is for your edification: islamqa Fatwa.
My third inquiry went to the scholars at jamiat.org and the Fatwa from Mufti Suhail Tarmahomed was quite intriguing:
“Respected Brother/Sister in Islam [NOTE: I neglected to mention in my question that I am a Christian, but no deceit or trickery was intended and the Mufti's answer is honestly presented verbatim and in whole] Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakaatuh
“The translation differs due to the Arabic words differing in the holy Qur'an. In verse 87 of Surah al-Baqarah, the name “Rouhul Qudus” (holy spirit) is used and in verse 97, the name “Jibreel” is used.
“The reason why Jibreel is addressed as Rouhul Qudus in verse 87 is due to this verse being directed to the Jews who know Jibreel as the Holy Spirit or Rouhul Qudus as established by a narration in Tafsir Ibn Kathir.
“In answer to the question about the pagan Arabs understanding that this refers to Jibreel [NOTE: I asked if pre-Koranic pagan Arabs would have associated Ruh al-Qudus to the angel Gabriel from the Jewish religion], it may be said that the Arabs knew who Rouhul Qudus refers to since they lived amongst jews[sic] and interacted with them as this verse was revealed after Hijrah (Surah Baqarah is Madani). Supposing that they did not know whom this refers to, they could have always queried it with Nabi [i.e. Muhammad] (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)
“And Allah Knows Best. Wassalaam. Fatwa Dept.”
So, would the Jews in Muhammad's day have understood the term ‘holy spirit’ (Ruh ul-Qudus) to be the angel Gabriel? Time to “Ask the Rabbi”! I went online and asked three rabbis this question:
“I am a Christian in correspondence with a Muslim about a question in the Qur'an that relates to Judaism in the time of Muhammad. Surah 2 verse 87 has a word that transliterates as “Ruh al-Qudus”. This term seems to be very vague and difficult even for Muslim scholars, but many translators give it an English rendering of “Holy Spirit”, but then go on to say that the Holy Spirit was understood by Arab Jews of that time as being the angel Gabriel. Is this correct?”
The response from Rabbi Reuven Lauffer at AskTheRabbi.org was:
“According to Jewish Tradition the “Holy Spirit” is a dimension of God Himself (called Ruch Hakodesh in Hebrew) and not an angel. However, angels are “merely” [sic] extensions of God's Will and Power in this world subsequently, even though it may not be completely accurate, I do not think that it is not incorrect to describe the angel Gabriel in such a way. Best Regards”
From Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin at Chabad.org (Ref. No. 1571427):
“I am no expert on the Muslim religion so I cannot answer for them. But as far as Judaism is concerned it was never translated as the Angel Gabriel. (is there any translations that ever translated it that way? I have no idea, but in general that is not how it was ever translated). All the Best”
And this from Rabbi Seinfeld at JewishAnswers.org (No. answ70866):
The Koran and Moslem belief contain several inaccuracies about Judaism. However, from a Moslem perspective, the Koran's “perfection” is non-negotiable; therefore any contradiction with reality means that reality is wrong.”
Fearing that I did not clearly express myself in the original question, I submitted a more detailed follow-up question that Rabbi Seinfeld answered thusly:
“Yes your question is clear but my answer is the same. The Hebrew term is similar to the Arabic: Ruahk ha-kodesh. There is no Jewish connection that I am aware of specifically to Gabriel. Moslems believe that Gabriel was the agent who brought God's word to Mohammed. The Torah does mention angels (of various stripes) bringing God's word to people, but we have many instances of prophecy or Ruach hakodesh without any specific angel.
Thus a Jewish person may experience ruach hakodesh via Gabriel, Michael, Uriel, or directly from God without any angel. In fact, that distinction may (and this is a theory) be why Jews reject Mohammed's prophecy. Since he only claimed to have angelic “Ruach hakodesh” and not complete prophecy (directly from God without an angel), he never claimed to be a full prophet according to Jewish belief. Therefore there would be no imperative to listen to him at all.
(Note even if he had claimed full prophecy, he would have to have undergone a specific test before gaining credibility with Jews, and there is no indication that he ever underwent, let alone passed, such a test. Furthermore, had he passed such a test then told Jews that God wanted them to cease and desist from practicing even one precept in the Torah, he would then have the status of a “false prophet” and would be liable to a death penalty. See Deut. 13.) Hope that's helpful.”
Yes, Rabbi Seinfeld, most helpful. Thank you.
Meanwhile, back at the Koran we find serious obliquity and lack of clarity. I think it safe to say that the Jews in the time of Muhammad would not have made the connection between “Ruh ul-Qudus” (Ruahk ha-kodesh) and the angel Gabriel unless there was compelling contextual reason to do so within the scriptural passage. Allah breaks his promise when he uses the term Ruh ul-Qudus by itself with no contextual connection to Gabriel. This happens four times in the Koran at 2:87 & 253, 5:110 and 16:102. The explicit name of Gabriel (Jibreel) appears three times in the Koran at 2:97 & 98 and 66:4. The two terms are never used together in the Koran.
My (admittedly limited) reading on this subject indicates that the Arabic term ‘Ruh ul-Qudus’ can be properly and correctly rendered as Ruh (spirit) ul-Qudus (of holiness). All confusion and obliquity could have been easily avoided had Allah simply kept his promise and revealed 2:86 (and the other related passages) as “…and to Jesus, son of Mary, we gave clear evidence of the truth, reinforcing him with Jibreel (Gabriel) Ruh ul-Qudus (the spirit of holiness). …”
There now, was that so hard? Allah the all-knowing and all-seeing should have ‘seen’ that I was going to write this subsection and ‘known’ to have revealed his Koran in a manner that was just a little bit more clear and understandable.
NOTE: See the top of the Postscript for a similar problem in 7:157 regarding the great prophet foretold in Deut. 18:15-19.
Now, let's take a short break and spend some time in…
Heaven, Hell and Paradise
Christians are generally taught that when we die we will go to Heaven to be with Jesus in the direct and loving presence of God Almighty. In the Koran, heaven is exclusively the abode of Allah and his angels. On the day of resurrection and judgment those who have found favor in Allah's eye will go to the eternal paradise of earthly delights, while those who have offended Allah and remained unrepentant will go to hell where they will roast forever. Virtually nothing of substance is said in the Koran to describe Allah's heaven. However, much is said about paradise and hell.
Hell is described as, well——HELL (6)! Paradise is described as a luxurious Eden-like pleasure realm of earthly delights: gardens with cool streams of running water and lasting bliss, mansions, jewelry, silk clothing, abundant food and drink, lots of women for every guy, and young boys to attend to every need, etc., etc (7). Throw in power tools and a bowling alley and paradise would be perfect! Of course all of this is a naked appeal to male carnality.
However, the Koran's vision of heaven and paradise pales before the description of God's Heaven, and the New Heaven, New Earth and New Jerusalem that is presented in the Judeo-Christian Bible (8). Indeed, the subject of paradise highlights the great difference between the intimately personal God of the Bible and the rather aloof Allah of the Koran. The paradise of Islam is just like what we have right now here on Earth, only bigger and better—an Eden-like garden of delights. This can be easily comprehended by the natural carnal mind of man. However, Islamic paradise will not be in the presence of Allah. Paradise will be in a realm separate from Allah's heaven. On the other hand, the New Heaven, New Earth and New Jerusalem of the Bible are infinitely beyond the carnal pleasure realm depicted in the Koran—and similarly beyond full human comprehension. Our present Earth and universe are burdened under the physical laws of decay and degeneration. If our bodies in the paradise of Islam are merely bigger, improved versions of what we have right now, then we will still be under the same laws of decay, waste and degeneration as we are today—unless Allah continuously props things up supernaturally.
God has promised in the Bible that He will purify this present Earth by fire and will bring this corrupted creation to a close. God will then bring about an entirely renewed Heaven and Earth with physical laws that will prevent decay and degeneration, and God will give every believer an entirely new and perfected body that will be fit for the new eternal existence (9). That's what Jesus was referring to in Mark 12:18-27. Jesus was not saying that we would be ghosts or disembodied spirits, but that we would be like the angels with perfected eternal bodies having the vastly expanded capabilities of the angels in Heaven. What the Bible promises is infinitely more than what the Koran promises. All of this is just what we need to escape from the present burden of decay and physical destruction, and to be in the direct, personal and loving presence of God Almighty.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
John the Baptist
This subsection is new in the Third Revision, and is the result of ongoing correspondence with Muslim apologists. John the Baptist is an extremely serious problem for Allah, the Qur'an and Islam. The reason is simply that Allah recognized John and confirmed him in the Qur'an as a genuine prophet but gave absolutely no record as to his adult prophetic ministry (10). That means that the only record we have of the ministry of John the Baptist is that found in the Christian Bible! The Christian Gospel has John acting as the forerunner and herald of Jesus, and confirming him as the Son of God (11). Since the Qur'an does not mention the actual ministry of John the Baptist there is no cancellation, proper abrogation or correction of the Biblical account.
John is also problematical from a practical standpoint. Prophets don't require forerunners and heralds. Moses had no forerunner and herald, nor did Muhammad. So why one for Jesus? The Qur'an repeatedly stated that Jesus was only a prophet and apostle (so do no call him “Son of God”!). But if that's really the case, why bother with virgin birth and a forerunner/herald? Especially when the ministry of Jesus was going to collapse into a miserable failure.
None of this makes any sense. Remember, Allah promised that the Qur'an would present the best of histories, clear discourse and full disquisition on all subjects without obliquity. Unfortunately Allah does not deliver. From a Qur'anic perspective, John the Baptist is a troublesome enigma.
“Any Israelite or any alien living among them who eats any blood—I [i.e. God] will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from his people. For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; It is the blood that makes atonement for one's life.” (Leviticus 17:10-11 NIV)
The one hundred and fourteen Surahs of the Koran were supernaturally revealed to Muhammad over a period of 23 years starting in the year 610 C.E. Surah 12 verses 3 and 111 tell the primary purposes of the Koran: “Through the revelation of this Qur'an We [i.e. Allah] narrate the best of histories of which you were unaware before. …This is not a fictitious tale, but a verification of earlier Books, and a clear exposition of everything, and a guidance and grace for those who believe.” Surah 39 verses 27-28 continues: “We have given examples of every kind for men in the Qur'an so that they may contemplate: A clear discourse which expounds all things without any obliquity…(12)”
The problem here is that Allah fails to deliver on any of the above claims and promises about the Koran. The histories are mostly irrelevant (if not bogus), the expositions are vague or insubstantial, and the discourses are mainly space wasting poetic verbiage. Indeed, just about everything of true substance in the Koran is contained in Surah 23. With a little extra detail this single Surah could be the entire Koran!
But I want to get down to basic fundamentals. Everything focuses to this one simple question: What was the actual and original atonement (covering, annulment, cancellation or payment) of sin so as to allow the reconciliation of God and man so that we may have eternal life? On this single critically important point I find a serious discrepancy between the Koran and the Torah. The Torah as revealed by God to the prophet Moses clearly demanded substitutionary DEATH and the shedding of blood as the atonement for sin. The Koran just as clearly ignored substitutionary death, but instead demanded repentance, good works and religious devotional observance (i.e. the Pillars of Islam) as the atonement for sin.
To pull it all together, consider the following points:
The above points are absolutely fatal to the Koran. Islamic apologists frequently point to the scientific and historical aspects of the Koran that validate it as supernatural revelation. However, there is an important aspect of science ignored by the apologists. Science insists upon the “Correspondence Principle”. That is, any new theory of science must account for and incorporate all of the properly verified and validated parts of previous related theories.
This same principle also operates in theology. There is only ONE God, and He is not about to contradict or ignore Himself. New revelation from God must flow smoothly and accountably from previous revelation by the same God. Even if it is completely bogus, the Christian New Testament at least recognizes the Mosaic Covenant and attempts to explain the shift from the Law of Moses in the Torah to its purported fulfillment in the work of Jesus on the Cross as recorded in the Christian Gospel. However, the shift from the Torah to the Koran is about as abrupt as you can get. The Koran makes no attempt at all to explain the change from blood atonement by DEATH to atonement by good works. In fact, the Koran doesn't even mention Mosaic Judaism at all!
This is totally unacceptable. Islamic scholars and apologists are going to have to present compelling extra-Koranic evidence proving that Moses actually and originally established a system of Islam, not a system involving a temple, priests and animal blood sacrifice for atonement of sin. Otherwise, they are going to have to admit that the Torah as presented in the modern day Bible is correct and that the penalty for sin is DEATH, not good works.
Similar problems beset the Koran as regards Christian scripture, theology and history. Allah the all-knowing and all-seeing had to have known that Christianity would be Islam's greatest rival during the ensuing fourteen hundred years since the time of Muhammad. Easing the conversion to Islam by Christians should have been a top priority in the revelation of the Koran. Therefore all of the purported errors and corruptions in the Christian Testament should have been addressed and full corrections/explanations/annulments provided. Instead, Allah revealed only bits and pieces of the ministry and “Injil” of Jesus, provided only four maddeningly vague verses to explain the final fate of Jesus, and said literally nothing about the ministry of Paul and virtually nothing about the rise of Apostles' Creed Trinitarian Christianity.
By the seventh century of the Christian era, Allah had to have been fully aware of the utmost necessity of explaining how Paul and his followers were successful in totally destroying the original Islamic ministry of Jesus, utterly wiping out the original Islamic “Torah” (Taurat) and “Gospel” (Injil) while replacing them with a false Torah and heretical false gospels (i.e. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), and starting a bizarre new religion that would succeed in a spectacular way and eventually become the largest religion in the history of the whole world.
Allah is all-knowing and all-wise. Surely he could have simply looked around and plainly seen these difficulties and problems. Indeed, these difficulties and problems were fully formed by the time of Muhammad. Yet the Koran gives not a single word of attention or explanation about the apostle Paul, and gives little more than nothing about the rise of Apostles' Creed Christianity and the origin of the Bible (which is also not mentioned by name) as it comes to us today.
These are not trivial points because they require explanation of why the followers of Jesus (or Jesus himself!) did not come forward to put down this new and terrible heresy. Biblical Christianity was formed within the lifetimes of the Companions of Jesus (Peter, John, Thomas, etc.). All that these men had to do—and it would only have taken one of them—was to publicly step forward and proclaim that Paul was teaching heresy and blasphemy. If the Koran is correct, the original ministry of Jesus was in complete support of the Torah as revealed by Allah, therefore the Jewish priests and religious leaders would have given the followers of Jesus full cooperation in putting down the false religion of Christianity. It would have been in everyone's best interests (including the pagan Romans) to quickly and quietly silence Paul and his followers. There are only two possibilities explaining the spectacular success of Paul: (a) the Bible is accurate therefore Paul was preaching the true Gospel of Jesus with the full permission and encouragement of the original Apostles of Christ; (b) Jesus, his followers, and the Jewish religious leaders—for some insane reason—took no effective action to stop Paul and his false gospel.
To put this into perspective, consider what would have happened in Arabia after the death of Muhammad if someone tried to start a new religion by presenting a false version of the Koran and saying that true Islam required worshipping Muhammad as a Divine compeer of God. Would the Companions of Muhammad have taken no action against such a man? Would they have remained silent while this man gained followers and destroyed the original Koran and perverted Islam? Hardly! The Companions of Muhammad would have hunted this man down and chopped off his head. Would the followers of Jesus been any less vigilant?
Now, what would it have taken to make the Koran ‘bullet proof’ (to use an Americanism)? That is, what could Allah have done to render the Koran impervious to criticism and refute? I see two possibilities. The first and easiest thing to have been done was to simply condemn and dismiss the Jewish and Christian religions (and their scriptures) as fakes and frauds that were hopelessly beyond correction or repair. Then go on to establish the new and uncorrupted religion of Islam while making no further mention of Judaism and Christianity. The ‘cherry on top’ would have been for Allah the all-powerful to have preserved at least one copy of the original Torah and the Injil of Jesus for proper dating and verification by modern day scholars. The internal evidence of the Koran would have verified it as being from a supernatural source, and the external evidence would have placed the Koran beyond the reach of skeptics and scoffers. Islam would have triumphed worldwide centuries ago.
The second thing that could have been done would have been for Allah the all-knowing and all-seeing to have simply kept his promises to provide the best of histories, clear discourses and full disquisitions on all subjects without any obliquity in his Koran. That is, to have addressed all issues, answered all questions, and solved all problems. This would have been much harder and taken more space in the Koran, but the failure to make good on these claims and promises allows refutes such as this. On the other hand, keeping those promises would also have placed the Koran beyond the reach of skeptics and scoffers. Again, Islam would have triumphed worldwide centuries ago and I would, today, be a devout Muslim.
To close this subsection I want to drive home the devastating impact of the Koran ignoring the Mosaic Covenant revealed in the Torah and practiced for over a thousand years by the Jews. Those thirty-four chapters detailing the Mosaic Covenant represent a HUGE chunk of scriptural real estate. That's longer than any of the books in the Christian New Testament, longer than Leviticus, and almost as long as Numbers or Deuteronomy. The Mosaic Covenant represents one of the largest single-subject items in the entire Judeo-Christian Bible. God was dead serious about the blood atonement of sin and the reconciliation of mankind to Himself. Yet in the Koran Allah utterly ignored everything about the Mosaic Covenant; treating it as if it had never appeared in the Torah and had no historical practice or physical reality.
Since Christian theology is founded upon the Mosaic Covenant (Jesus took pains to abide by the Law of Moses), any refute of Christianity must bring the Mosaic Covenant fully into view. As Allah stated 5:46: “We [i.e. Allah] sent Jesus, son of Mary, confirming the Torah which had been before him, and gave him the Gospel containing guidance and light, which corroborated the earlier Torah.” Yet this makes no sense if Allah utterly ignores his own revelation in the Torah and then contradicts it in the Koran. Even if we assume Christian doctrine and theology to be utterly wrong, there is no way to refute it via the Koran. The Koran lacks the most basic materials for even addressing Christian theology. All that the Koran can do is contradict the Christian New Testament, and then try to override it by brute force through Islamic Jihadism.
These are just some of the severe deficiencies of the Koran. That the complete, uncorrupted, final Great Revelation to mankind by Allah should be so fundamentally flawed is inexcusable and unacceptable.
This will be real short. Just consider these two verses: 35:8 “…God leads whosoever He please astray and guides whosoever He will.” And 75:31 “That is how God leads whosoever He will astray, and guides whosoever He will.” These may simply be quirks of Prof. Ali's translation, but I am rather doubtful of the idea that God actually leads people astray. It would be mean-spirited and wicked if God were to take someone who intended to do good but then intentionally led that person astray to do evil!
Marriage and Divorce
These two subjects provide further illustration of the conflict and contradiction between Allah's Koran and the Biblical Torah-Gospel. The Koran is rather cavalier on the issues of marriage and divorce. Surah 2:227-230 allows a man to marry and divorce the same woman four times, the only real stipulation being that after the third divorce the woman must marry and divorce a second man before remarrying the first. And 33:37 allows a man to marry his adopted sons wives “…when they are through with them.”
According to the Torah (Dt 24:1-4), a man couldn't remarry a woman if she subsequently became the wife of any other man and was divorced by him. Also, Jesus clearly stated his opposition to divorce except in the case of adultery (Mt 5:32, Mk 10:5-9, & Lk 16:18). So who's correct here: Muhammad, or Moses and Jesus? This appears to be a naked contradiction between the Koran and the Torah-Gospel; a contradiction aggravated by 2:231 which states in part: “…Do not mock the decrees of God, and remember the favours God has bestowed on you, and revealed to you the Book and the Law to warn you of the consequences of doing wrong.”
Muhammad and Islam
“Muhammad is only a messenger; and many a messenger has gone before him.” So states 3:144. Give Muhammad credit for honesty on this point for he never claimed in the Koran to be anything more than a mere mortal man.
But let's come straight to the main point. Muhammad claimed that the angel Gabriel appeared to him over a period of twenty-three years and inspired the revelation of the Koran. In all honesty I must confess that I don't know how I would have responded to such an angelic appearance if put in Muhammad's place. However, this begs the question: “Was Muhammad a liar, lunatic, prophet of God—or dupe of Satan?” As I will formally concede at the end of the article, the internal evidence of the Koran clearly indicates it to be a genuine work of supernatural revelation. Muhammad had neither the knowledge nor the talent to produce the Koran. So did this revelation come from God Almighty, Creator of the universe? Or did it come from Satan?
Moses performed his miracles and received his Revelation directly from God Almighty (see 4:164) in an environment virtually overwhelmed by the visible supernatural power and presence of the Almighty as witnessed by literally hundreds of thousands of people over a forty-year ministry. Muhammad, on the other hand, received his revelation in private through an angelic intermediary of unverifiable identity, and presented the Koran to the people of Arabia without any demonstration of Divine or supernatural power (at least none recorded in the Koran). Also, as I pointed out earlier, the Koran fails to satisfy the “Correspondence Principle”; that is, it fatally conflicts with the Torah.
As for the Koran coming from Satan, it appears that Muslims have an underdeveloped and naïve view of the devil. They seem to regard him merely as a weak annoying and mischievous jinni, thereby credulously assuming that supernatural revelation equals Divine Revelation. The Judeo-Christian Bible, however, identifies Satan as Lucifer, the greatest of God's angelic beings, who led a prideful rebellion with a third of the angels of heaven against God in an attempt to seize the very throne of Heaven and establish himself as God Almighty.
Satan (or one of his demonic lieutenants) would have had ready access to the scientific and historical information presented in the Koran; could easily have posed as the angel Gabriel so as to dupe an unschooled Arab merchant; could have concocted the excellent prose and poetry that so powerfully impressed the pagan Arabs of Muhammad's day; created the amazing internal structural features of the Koran; and seen to the fulfillment of the short-range prophetic predictions realized during and immediately following Muhammad's ministry. However, the Koran conspicuously lacks the major long-range “End Times” prophecy contained in the Bible. That sort of thing is reserved for true prophecy from God Almighty.
Now, why would Satan want to fake a revelation so as to start a religion that preaches and practices peace, justice, brotherhood, morality and goodwill? To answer, we have to go back to the fundamental nature and character of God Almighty, and the penalty of sin as revealed by God in the Torah. God is absolutely and perfectly pure, holy and righteous. Because of this pure holiness God cannot tolerate sin of any kind or degree. Therefore the penalty of sin is DEATH. It doesn't matter if the sin is big or small; intentional or unintentional; known or unknown. It doesn't even matter if you commit only one tiny, unknown, unintentional sin in your entire life! The bad news from the Biblical Torah is that the penalty for sin is DEATH as evidenced by the shedding of blood.
The good news from the Biblical Torah is that God will allow an acceptable substitute to pay the penalty of death in our place. Now, this is where Satan has an opportunity to deceive and mislead. Although Satan might prefer to provoke strife wickedness and discord, he can also use peace, morality and brotherhood as long as he can convince people that the penalty of sin is not DEATH, but rather good works and religious devotional observance such as the Pillars of Islam. That is, that people can achieve their own eternal salvation by their own good works and merit. If Satan can get people to deny the penalty of death and sell them on a do-it-yourself salvation (e.g. Islam, Scientology, Freemasonry, Unitarian/Universalism, etc.), then the penalty of death and judgment will fall on their own heads and Satan will win them for the kingdom of hell; even if their lives are otherwise reasonably good, moral and upright. It all comes down to the truth or falsehood of the Mosaic Covenant as recorded in the Biblical Torah.
This brings us to the most disturbing question in this entire issue: why would a loving God allow Satan to pull off such a monumentally spectacular deception? Make no mistake about it, either Islam is false or else Torah-based Mosaic Judaism and its bastard child Christianity are false. Either way, at least a billion people are going to rot in hell for embracing a masterfully executed lie. Is human free will such a deeply embedded part of God's plan for mankind that the Almighty would permit such an awful thing to happen?
One more point of interest is that the Koran referred to Muhammad in 7:157 as “…the gentile Prophet, described in the Torah and the Gospel.” I don't recall reading anything in the Torah and Gospel about a non-Jew like Muhammad. Certainly not as someone to be anticipated or looked for as an additional future authority figure.
As for the Islamic path to paradise, the simple formula of belief in Allah and his final prophet Muhammad, performing religious devotional obligations, paying the zakat (charitable alms), and doing good deeds was repeated over and over again (13). 5:9-10 says, “God has made a promise of forgiveness and the highest reward to those who believe and perform good deeds. But those who disbelieve and deny Our [i.e. Allah's] revelations are the people of Hell.” 2:277 says, “Those who believe and do good deeds, and fulfill their devotional obligations and pay the zakat, have their reward with their Lord, and will have neither fear nor regret.” 11:114 clearly states, “…Remember that good deeds nullify the bad.”
These quotes are really at the heart of Islamic salvation. Koranic Islam is very much a deeds-based religion. God is keeping score: good deeds on one side of the ledger, and bad deeds on the other side. On the day of resurrection and judgment, each person's ledger will be balanced. Assuming that all of the other basic qualifications were met during life (i.e. performing the Pillars of Islam), if the person's good outweighs the bad: paradise. If the bad outweighs the good: hell. It's just that simple. No substitutionary atonement of sin, no unmerited grace, no justification by faith, no sweet moment of eternal salvation. Just a straightforward post-mortem accounting of personal performance, with a pass/fail grading system. As pointed out earlier, this flatly contradicts the Torah.
Muhammad and Jesus were definitely on opposite sides of the fence in regards to swearing by God. In 5:106-7 the Koran commanded, “Detain them after the service of prayer, and if you doubt their word make them swear by God that: “We shall not take a bribe even though it be offered by a near relative, nor hide the testimony of God, for then we shall surely be sinful.” If it transpires they have concealed the truth, two of those who are immediately concerned should take their place and swear by God: “Our testimony…”” And 24:6-8, “Those who accuse their wives and do not have any witnesses except themselves, should swear four times in the name of God… …the woman's punishment can be averted if she swears four times by God as testimony…”
Jesus, on the other hand, had this to say about oaths: “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I tell you, Do not swear at all; either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one (Mt 5:33-7, NIV).” The Koran confirmed Jesus and the Gospel, so is this a case of abrogation or contradiction?
I think few Christians would seriously dispute my assertion that as regards the formation, history, doctrine and theology of Christianity, the Apostle Paul ranks second in importance only behind the Lord Jesus Christ. At the very least, the rise of Christianity would have been greatly retarded by the absence of Paul's epistles (letters) and his missionary work among the gentiles and diaspora Jews in the northern part of the Roman Empire.
The Qur'an, however, not only does not mention Paul by name, it does not even hint at his existence or anything that he did. This is absolutely amazing! The Qur'an promises the “best of histories”, but even a ‘worst of history’ would at least mention Paul. Allah promises “clear discourse” in his Qur'an, but even a muddied discourse on Christianity would devote at least a single sentence to Paul. Ignoring the Apostle Paul is the very heart of “obliquity”.
Technically, the only contemporary of Jesus mentioned by name in the Qur'an is John the Baptist. None of the other companions of Jesus are specifically named. Where mentioned at all, the followers of Jesus are simply and collectively called “disciples” or “witnesses”. Since Paul did not become a figure related to Jesus until well after the Crucifixion (or “taking up”) of Jesus, Paul (in this context, more properly named Saul of Tarsus) would not be a part of the “disciples” mentioned in the Qur'an.
Ignoring the Apostle Paul is a fatal flaw in the Qur'an. It simply doesn't matter if Paul was a genuine disciple of Jesus Christ or a Jewish Pharisee gone mad or a completely fictitious character. Christians cannot take the Qur'an seriously when it fails to mention a person so central to its theology, scripture and history. Once again, the total absence of Paul in the Qur'an clearly indicates profound ignorance on the part of whoever (or whatever) revealed the Qur'an to Muhammad. After all, it's not like Paul was a secret agent or operating incognito. Paul was a famously well known person; prominent in Christian history and scripture.
Can Allah the all-knowing be ignorant?
For a ‘Divine Revelation’ that praises itself on clear understandable writing, and harps endlessly that God is “One” (so let there be no compeers or co-equals of God!), Allah has the very annoying and confusing habit of referring to himself in the plural throughout the Koran (14). For example (one of very many possible) consider 2:34-35, “Remember, when We asked the angels to bow in homage to Adam they all bowed but Iblis [i.e. Lucifer], who disdained and turned insolent, and so became a disbeliever. And We said to Adam:…”
Or how about bouncing back and forth from singular to plural to singular in 6:98-99, “It is He who produced you from a single cell, and appointed a place of sojourning, and a place of depositing. How clear have We made Our signs for those who understand. It is He who sends down water from the skies…”
At first I thought that the ‘plurals’ might be referring to Allah plus the angels and/or Muhammad. But verses like 7:10-11, “We settled you on the earth, and provided means of livelihood for you in it; but little are the thanks you give. Verily We created you and gave you form and shape, and ordered the angels to bow before Adam in homage;…” occur many times in the Koran where the angels are clearly excluded from the plural, and where Muhammad would not be present (unless he is actually a compeer of God!).
To make sure that this was not just another quirk in Prof. Ali's translation, I went back to the same bookstore where I bought my reference translation and checked this verse (and a few others) against the other three translations. Though there were slight differences in word choice between them, the curious anomaly of plurals held true across all four books. So who constitutes the plural? Prof. Ali makes no mention of this either in his introduction or in the footnotes.
To close, I am well aware of the use of the royal “We”. The problem here, however, is that one of the main purposes of the Koran was to confirm and reinforce the strict absolute monotheistic ONE-ness of God. That being the case, the use of plurals for God in the Koran should have been minimized or avoided altogether. The use of the royal We should have been clear, consistent, and unambiguous—if it was to be used at all. As end noted above, there are simply too many places where Allah is clearly operating in the singular (that is, without angels or man) but Allah refers to himself in the plural. Remember, Allah promised “clear discourse without any obliquity” in his Koran. The misuse and gross overuse of the royal We (Our, Us, etc.) is confusing, distracting, and shows Allah to be unsure of his own goals and objectives in the revelation of the Koran—a revelation that should have been absolutely flawless.
Islam is world famous (infamous?) for the harshness of its punishments. We all know what the penalty for theft is, don't we? You get your hands cut off. But is this really what the Koran commanded? Let's be fair and accurate here. 5:38-9 says, “As for the thief, whether man or woman, cut his hand as punishment from God for what he had done; and God is all mighty and all wise. But those who repent after a crime and reform, shall be forgiven by God, for God is forgiving and kind.” I think that assuming “cut” to mean ‘amputate’ goes way too far. I agree with Prof. Ali's footnote on page 113 that the “cut” was intended to correct, not cripple.
But when it comes to whippings, the Koran once again clashes with the Jewish Torah. Dt. 25:1-3 says, “When men have a dispute, they are to take it to court and the judges will decide the case, acquitting the innocent and condemning the guilty. If the guilty man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall make him lie down and have him flogged in his presence with the number of lashes his crime deserves, but he must not give him more than forty lashes. If he is flogged more than that, your brother will be degraded in your eyes (NIV).” While in 24:2 & 4 the Koran commanded, “The adulteress and adulterer should be flogged a hundred lashes each, and no pity for them should deter you from the law of God, …” and “Those who defame chaste women and do not bring four witnesses should be punished with eighty lashes, …”
Once again this is not a true abrogation. Rather, it is a totally improper contradiction for there is no notice or transition from the Law in the Torah as it existed in the time of Muhammad and its change in the Koran.
…raised him up…
This subsection is being added in the year 2019 because of continued problems resulting from confusion over the final fate of Jesus. I will be addressing several scenarios showing the great difficulties necessitated by the Koranic claim that Jesus was not crucified but simply ‘raised up’ alive into heaven.
The first scenario has Jesus seized by the Jewish religious leaders for the heresy and blashamy of preaching a false Torah, and held in their direct presence. If Jesus simply vanished or rose directly into the air, then this would have been witnessed by all, therefore there could be no possibility of a rumor of crucifixion or resurrection. Christianity could not have started.
The second scenario has Jesus seized by the Jewish religious leaders and thrown into their jail pending a final ruling as to his fate. Jesus is then ‘taken up’ into heaven. The empty cell would be puzzling, but like above there could be no rumor of crucifixion or resurrection. Again, Christianity could not have started.
The third scenario has Jesus with his Companions, but out of their direct sight. Jesus is ‘taken up’ up into heaven. While this would leave some very confused Companions, they would simply have continued the general ministry of Jesus by advancing his Injil from Allah. Again, there would be no possible rumor of crucifixion or resurrection, therefore no Christianity.
The fourth scenario is the only one that can plausibly explain the rise of Apostle's Creed Christianity and the New Testament Bible as they actually exist in history. Jesus, being with his Companions but out of eyeshot, is ‘raised up’ into heaven. The Companions of Jesus are completely confused scattered and silenced by this disappearance, and effectively drop out of the story entirely. Meanwhile, passersby at Golgotha notice someone being crucified that resembled Jesus. The rumor starts that Jesus was crucified and layed to rest. His disappearance further fuels the rumor that Jesus was resurrected from the dead after crucifixion and then ‘raised up’ into heaven. Much later, a Jewish Pharisee named Saul of Tarsus goes completely mad, picks up on the false rumors regarding Jesus, and invents a whole new religion based on these false rumors. Of course, this raises the question mentioned above as to why the Jewish religious leaders and the original Companions of Jesus did not step forward to put a quick stop to this new heresy.
I can think of no other scenario consistant with the Koran that can possibly result in what actually happened in historical reality. This, of course, means that Allah, the all-seeing and all-powerful, was completely helpless in preventing Paul—a mere human—from starting a false religion, totally silencing the original Companions of Jesus, killing the original Injil of Jesus, faking ‘Gospels’ from phony desciples of Jesus, corrupting the original Torah from Allah, and ultimately defeating not only the Jewish religious leaders but the Roman Empire itself.
Oy vey. What a mess.
Sin and Sacrifice
This subsection is also new to the Third Revision. It is needed because of ongoing misunderstanding by Jews and Muslims as to my repeated assertions in this article that the penalty for sin against God is DEATH requiring sacrifice and blood atonement.
More specifically, I assert that the penalty for sin against God is DEATH in every case without exception or moderation. Much of the confusion and misunderstanding comes about because it appears in the overall Mosaic Covenant in the Torah and the Pillars of Islam in the Qur'an that there are degrees of sin, and degrees of penalty, and levels of atonement. These apparent ‘degrees’ and ‘levels’ are the result of God's mercy upon us due to our waywardness and imperfection. If God immediately struck down all of us for every sin we committed then there would be none of us left alive!
As regards this article I am viewing the situation from God's perspective of absolute perfection, purity, holiness and righteousness. From God's perspective there are no levels or degrees of sin, and therefore no levels or degrees of penalty. All sin is mortal. All sin demands the penalty of DEATH.
To illustrate from the Jewish Testament, take these five examples of trivial sin incurring the penalty of DEATH:
A thorough examination of the Jewish Testament will show many, many more examples of the DEATH penalty being incurred for seemingly trivial offence against God. Why is this? Because God is so perfect, so pure, so holy, and so righteous that God cannot tolerate sin in any form, or in any way, or in any degree. From the human perspective the above cases are examples of gross disproportion bordering on sadistic insanity. From God's perspective they are absolutely required. So what to do? What can a loving but holy God do about the intentional and unintentional sinfulness rebellion and imperfection of humanity?
God can pay the penalty of DEATH Himself, on our behalf.
I write this from the Christian perspective, so Jews will travel only a few steps down the following path before stopping. I ask Muslims to follow this path all the way to the end. Then decide for yourselves.
In the Mosaic Covenant detailed in those thirty-four chapters in the Torah and practiced for over a thousand years by the Jews, God highlighted the problem of sin and illustrated the solution for the DEATH penalty of sin. The solution was illustrated by the ceremonial sacrifice (killing) of animals standing in as acceptable substitutes for humanity. The blood of those animals was sprinkled on the Alter so as to ceremonially atone (or ‘cover’) the sins of the people—individually and collectively.
This system has been condemned by many people as vicious slaughterhouse religion. And they are absolutely right. Animal sacrifice for blood atonement of sin is primitive, brutal, ugly, and graphic—and intentionally so. This system drives home the message that the penalty of sin is DEATH, but that our sin can be covered by the blood of an acceptable substitute. God chose this method of illustration because it can be understood by anyone, anywhere on Earth, at any time in human history; from naked headhunting cannibals in New Guinea to black-robed Oxford dons in England.
Jews hold that this system was God's actual solution to the problems of sin and atonement. Christians, however, hold that the Mosaic sacrificial system was illustrative; that the death and blood of animals cannot actually atone the sins of humans. Only the death and blood of a human can do that. Therefore God enfleshed Himself into this world through the virgin birth and righteous life of Jesus of Nazareth, offered Himself up in sacrifice on the cross, and let His own blood cover our sins thereby paying the penalty of DEATH for us.
Koranic Islam rejects and ignores the concept of a death penalty for sin and the need for blood atonement. In Islam, sin is atoned by good deeds and by working the Pillars of Islam. Animal sacrifice is allowed by Muslims, but merely as a ceremonial gift to Allah. If this is actually true, then Allah needed to either formally and explicitly condemn the Mosaic Covenant in the Biblical Torah as a fraud or else make full, specific and proper abrogation of the Mosaic Covenant as regards the priesthood, Tabernacle/Temple and animal sacrifice system for the blood atonement of sin and its replacement by the Pillars of Islam. This system was central to the practice of Judaism for over a thousand years, and is absolutely foundational to the claims of Apostles' Creed Christianity. Indeed, Biblical Christianity can make no sense whatsoever apart from that system. Yet the Koran totally ignores the whole thing.
Torah and Scriptural Corruption
Everything really boils down to this one question: was the Torah corrupted as to the establishment of the priesthood and animal blood sacrifice system practiced in the Tabernacle/Temple for over a thousand years under ‘Mosaic’ Judaism? That is, did Moses—acting under the divine authority of Allah—actually and originally establish a system of atonement and reconciliation based on good works and religious devotional observance (i.e. the Pillars of Islam), but the Hebrew Jews later perverted the prophetic message into a false “Mosaic” Covenant? The same type of question applies to the orthodox Christian Testament since all of its books are founded on the theo-logic of the Biblical Torah.
Suppose the answer is, “Yes! The scriptures were corrupted.” This begs the question, “Is Allah so weak, careless and incompetent that he cannot protect the integrity of his own divine revelatory messages?” That is, was Moses a Muslim prophet whose ministry was effectively destroyed and whose prophetic message was utterly twisted and perverted into the hideous grotesque of Mosaic Judaism by bloodthirsty barbaric religious opportunists? Was Allah unable to do anything about this disastrous state of affairs for almost fifteen hundred years of Mosaic Judaism, and another nineteen hundred years of damnable Talmudic Judaism?
Did Allah raise up an astounding virgin-born, miracle working prophet/apostle/Messiah messenger of Islam only to have the ministry of Jesus wrecked and his “Gospel” almost immediately twisted and perverted by religious charlatans? Was Allah powerless to prevent the spiritual damnation of nineteen hundred years worth of misguided souls pulled down into the fires of HELL by the black-hearted heresy of Apostles' Creed Christianity? Was the value and integrity of a host of lesser Muslim prophets (Elijah, Isaiah, Daniel, John the Baptist, etc.) similarly destroyed by these perversions?
And considering Koranic history, were it not for the honesty, devotion and integrity of Muhammad's Companions in faithfully recording and disseminating the Koran immediately after the death of Muhammad, it is almost certain that his ministry would have suffered the exact same fate as the failed Islamic ministries of Moses and Jesus! Is praise due to Allah for preserving the Koran? No! All praise and honor are due the Companions for preventing yet another disastrous failure—a failure that would have been compounded by the fact that Muhammad was to be Allah's final prophet. Allah would have been out of prophetic options at that point.
Such are the clear-cut implications of Islamic history and Koranic theology. What a sad and sorry commentary on the ineffectiveness and weakness of Allah the “all-seeing” and “all-powerful”
Of course the above assumes the Koran to be genuine Divine Revelation and accurate history. However, if the Torah as recorded in the Bible is true and correct, then the Koran is immediately invalidated and must be rejected. As pointed out above, the Torah that exists in the present day Bible is the same as the Torah in the time of Muhammad and Jesus. There is no other Torah!
There are, however, serious and legitimate objections to the contents of the Judeo-Christian Bible raised by Islamic apologists and religious skeptics alike. The Koran is a series of messages supernaturally revealed to a single prophet. Thanks to the speedy work of Muhammad's Companions in setting the revealed word down on paper immediately after the death of Muhammad and then protecting its integrity down through the centuries with certified copies, the present day Koran enjoys the enviable reputation of being without significant corrupting error from the original spoken revelation.
The Judeo-Christian Bible, on the other hand (and I shall focus on the Protestant Bible, though my comments should reasonably apply to all versions), is a collection of sixty-six Jewish and Christian works written in several different ancient languages at several different geographical locations by at least forty different men over a period of at least fifteen hundred years. These works cover a wide range of styles, sources, subjects, objectives, purposes and intended audiences. There are works of outright Divine Revelation, official and unofficial histories, poetry, personal testimony, sage advice, analysis, admonition, instruction, etc., etc.
The Bible (especially the Jewish scriptures) comes to us across an absolutely tortured history. The fact that any of it survives at all is little short of a miracle. The main problem here is that Christian Fundamentalist Church leaders have put the stamp of inerrant, infallible, perfect Divine Revelation on every last word of the entire collection! This may have been necessary in the past in order to maintain Church discipline and to put down heresies, but it places modern day Christians in a bit of a bind because the Bible really and truly does have dozens of obvious minor difficulties and trivial discrepancies in its details (e.g. compare Matthew 27:3-10 with Acts 1:18-19. Also, read Truth Revealed by Rahmatullah Kairanvi, linked at end, for a painfully exhaustive review).
Now, before you burn me at the stake as a heretic I have to pose this pertinent question: do these apparent difficulties and discrepancies invalidate (or even weaken) the core doctrinal truth-claims of the Bible as relates to Mosaic Judaism and Apostles' Creed Christianity? The answer is: NO!! The discrepancies are aggravating, annoying and distracting, but they are not at all fatal to the core truths and practical validity of the Bible.
The difference between the Bible and the Koran is like the difference between a battleship and a munitions ship. A battleship is designed and constructed to go into the most savage combat, take the cruelest of hits—and survive! On the other hand, a munitions ship is a floating firecracker; one solid hit and it explodes in a giant fireball and sinks to the bottom. Critics could fire an editorial broadside into the Bible and blast it to pieces, but as long as a significant portion of the Mosaic Covenant and one of the Christian Gospels survives, then Judaism and Christianity can stay afloat. But if the Koran takes even one solid theological or historical hit (in particular the glaring discrepancy between the Mosaic animal blood sacrifice system and the Pillars of Islam) then the Koran explodes in a giant fireball and disappears—taking all of Islam with it.
Personally I'm sorry that Fundamentalist Church leaders have saddled Christianity with the absolutely inflexible (and, I might add, easily refuted) claim of perfect inerrant infallibility for every word of the Bible. Christians should be very careful about using the words “perfect” “inerrant” and “infallible” because skeptics and enemies of the Faith are free to define and apply those words in a manner as picky, arbitrary, unfair and unreasonable as they please. At the very least these enemies can muddy the waters and cloud the debate thereby distracting and misleading the unsaved.
The great challenge of modern Christianity is not so much internal Church discipline but outreach to non-Christians——especially strong adherents of other religious/philosophical positions such as Islam, Hinduism, New Age-ism and atheism. In my opinion Christianity should openly and honestly acknowledge the existence of these rather trivial problems and develop comprehensive explanations for the apparent discrepancies. This would eliminate (or at least greatly lessen) the easy ‘cheap shots’ against the Bible and allow Christian clergy, apologists and theologians to focus on core issues where the evidence is strongest. There is no disgrace in admitting uncertainty on minor or nonessential details. However, we invite the world to heap refute, ridicule and abuse on our heads with the unsustainable claim of total word-for-word Divine perfection.
To conclude the subject of the Torah, I want to point out two final major problems for Muslims and Islam. First, the Koran obliquely confirms the historical existence, truth and validity of the Mosaic Covenant in the present day Torah. Surah 5:44 confirms the existence of Jewish rabbis and priests. Surah 17:1-7 confirms the existence of the Jewish Temple. Now, the purpose of priests is to perform commanded rites and rituals within a temple. The rites and rituals performed by the priests in the Jewish Temple at Jerusalem were those commanded by God Almighty in the correct and original Torah for the blood atonement of sin. Priests, temples and blood sacrifice are not commanded by Allah in the Koran, and have no part in the practice of Islam. These Torah commands, however, were in no way abrogated, condemned, or cancelled in the Koran. Indeed, Mosaic Covenant Judaism, as such, is not even mentioned in the Koran!
Secondly, if you take all of the purported corrections to the Torah presented in the Koran and incorporate them into the Biblical Torah (which are really trivial, and would have no significant theological, religious, historical or literary impact on the Torah), Muslims end up with a Book that is every bit as complete, correct, uncorrupted and authoritative as they claim the Koran to be.
Indeed, Muslims are under double Law and double Scripture because the Qur'an never abrogated or annulled the Mosaic Covenant in the Torah! Not only must Muslims satisfy the pillars of Islam, they must also abide by the Law commanded by God in the ‘corrected’ Torah. That being the case, Muslims should be fanatical Israel supporters. They need the priesthood, the Temple and the animal sacrifice system for the blood atonement of sin just as much as the Jews. Muslims ought to move Heaven and Earth to immediately effect the rebuilding of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem, reconstitute the Jewish priesthood and restart the animal blood sacrifice system.
It would appear that Allah the all-seeing did not “see” this one coming ;-)
War, Coercion, and Martyrdom
Here are some of the verses relating to what the Koran has to say about the above subjects:
2:190-4 & 217-8; 3:157 & 169 & 195; 8:41 & 64 & 67; 9:1 & 12-15 & 29 & 81 & 111; 47:4 & 20 & 31; 59:2-8.
The above verses accurately and honestly relate some of what the Koran has to say about war and physical struggle. Although the Hebrew Testament Jews subdued the Promised Land at sword point, Moses and the other Jewish leaders did not make it a command to increase Judaism through military conquest; certainly not to make it a global religion. Any such increase was, for the most part, incidental rather than intentional. Regarding the Christian Testament, the teachings of Jesus and His apostles really don't lend themselves to military violence or coercion. The teachings and commands of Jesus must be stretched to the breaking point to obtain support for violent conversion of non-Christians, or to justify going to war to spread the Gospel. Our armor is righteousness; our sword the word of God; our battlefield the spiritual realm of the soul.
Muslims, on the other hand, can easily justify physical violence coercion and war to advance Islam. They're built right into the Koranic scriptures and the historical exemplification of the prophet Muhammad and his successors.
To underscore the above, let's compare the immediate results of the ministries of Muhammad and Jesus. Muhammad was not just the prophetic founder of a new religion, he was also a military commander. He led armies; fought battles; killed people; conquered territory; took captives and claimed the booty of war. Jesus never led a single soldier into a single battle, conquered no territory nor took any spoils. Muhammad died a rich, famous and powerful man. Jesus died naked, penniless and virtually friendless.
If the Koran is correct about the original ministry of Jesus, then this begs the question of why anyone would start with the winners religion of Islam and then corrupt it into the losers religion of Apostle's Creed Christianity. Who would be so insane as to start with a religion that holds out the promise of victory, power, territory and booty (both kinds) and corrupt that into the “love your enemies/bless those who spitefully abuse you/turn the other cheek/and blah blah blah” of Biblical Christianity? Just as puzzling, who would buy into such a crazy religion? The Koran promises “best of histories” but tells virtually nothing in answer.
I close this Section with the problem of Islamic martyrdom and suicide bombers. In the Koranic scheme of things a Muslim is martyred if he dies upon the field of honor in manly combat against the infidel. The Koran promises that such a soldier of Islam will bypass Judgment Day and go directly to Paradise. So, what about a Muslim who straps an explosive charge to his chest, walks into a crowded civilian marketplace or bus and detonates the bomb? Is that person a martyr—or just a murderer (including self-murderer)?
I am convinced from my reading of the Qur'an that Muhammad would be shocked and outraged by the acts of modern suicide bombers and would condemn them to eternal damnation and hell. Explosives did not exist in Muhammad's day, but I am sure he would have condemned a Muslim who committed the functionally equivalent acts of walking into a crowded civilian marketplace and indiscriminately hacking defenseless women, children and old men to death with a sword and then killing himself. Where would be the honor in that? How would that advance the cause of Allah and Islam? Such an act would disgrace the entire religion!
So it goes with suicide bombers.
A Muslim on the battlefield knows that all who oppose him are infidel enemies. If he prevails: victory and spoils! If he is killed: martyrdom and Paradise. But to slaughter in a civilian marketplace or bus means that the Jihadist really has no idea who he's killing! He cannot distinguish between friend and neutral and foe. In a modern suicide attack on civilian targets, how can the Islamic Jihadist know if he is killing Muslim or infidel? How many unbelievers might have been converted to Islam had they been allowed to live? How many new believers in Islam might go to hell because they were murdered before working the Pillars of Islam so as to tip the scales in their favor?
In the end, suicide bombers are playing God by making decisions and taking action utterly beyond human knowledge and wisdom. They are, in effect, making themselves compeers and coequals of God. And that is a terrible sin indeed.
In order to be completely accurate and fair, I must admit that Islamic scholars and apologists (especially Dr. Gary Miller and Dr. Rashad Khalifa, linked below) have made an excellent case that the Koran is a genuine product of supernatural revelation. The Koran contains amazing internal structural features along with verifiable scientific and historical information utterly beyond anyone's ability or knowledge fourteen centuries ago. Also, the prose and poetry of the Koran was too majestic and spiritually moving to be the product of an unschooled person such as Muhammad.
However, truth claims should be thoroughly tested and substantiated before being accepted. This is especially the case when the claims involve Divine Revelation and prophetic authority. The Koran claimed Muhammad to be a “messenger” from God; a prophet and apostle (15). For example, in 9:33 the Koran stated, “It is He [i.e. Allah] who sent His Messenger [i.e. Muhammad] with guidance and the true faith in order to make it superior to other systems of belief, even though the idolaters may not like it.” The problem here is that the Koran presented absolutely nothing to substantiate the claim of Muhammad being a true prophet of God other than its own authority. This is aggravated by the fact that the Koran repeatedly referred to the substantiating signs, wonders and miracles of Moses and Jesus (16), and harped on the “clear proofs” presented by earlier prophets and apostles (17). Yet the Koran presented no ‘clear proofs’ to validate these claims about Muhammad. If there exists substantiating evidence, it is not presented in the Koran (consider 17:90-93).
Indeed 6:19 states, “Ask: ‘of all things what is most vital as evidence?’ Say: ‘God is witness between you and me that this Qur'an has been revealed to me [i.e. Muhammad] that I may warn you on its strength, and those whom it reaches.’” That's all there is! Muhammad simply laid down “the Book” as revealed to him, and on the basis of its testimony declared himself to be a prophet of God and demanded that everyone submit to the authority of the Koran. This is a clear case of circular reasoning.
Now, from a minimalist standpoint Muhammad's claim is valid. Technically if a prophet's prophecy proves true then no other proof is needed. However, the ministries of Moses, Jesus and other Biblical figures recognized and accepted by the Koran give ample precedent that God demonstrates supernatural power in order to validate and authenticate the most important prophetic ministries; especially if there would be reason for people to doubt or challenge the claims. Muhammad received no such extraordinary supernatural validation.
The Koran purports to establish the one true and final religion of Islam. However, the Koran also clearly and repeatedly confirmed the Torah and Gospel as God-breathed valid and authoritative Revelation (18). As Muhammad put it in 3:3-4, “He [i.e. Allah] has verily revealed to you this Book [i.e. the Koran], in truth and confirmation of the Books revealed before, as indeed He had revealed the Torah and the Gospel before this as guidance for men, and has sent the criterion of falsehood and truth.”
The Koran repeatedly makes the general admonition that people should “…fulfill their devotional obligations…”(2:277), but aside from some advice on acceptable foods, conduct while traveling far from home, punishments, marriage, divorce, and a few other rather trivial points, the Koran really leaves it to the Jewish and Christian scriptures to ‘fill in the blanks’ as to the details of exactly what God commanded.
But there are a couple of problems here. First, modern Bible scholarship has given the world versions of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures with high levels of confidence as to faithfulness to the original manuscripts. The Bible as we have it today (including all purported errors and corruptions) was known and available in the Seventh Century of the Christian Era; that is, available in the time of Muhammad and fully accepted by the Jews and Christians of that time.
That brings us to the second problem. If the Bible is at all accurate and valid, then Koranic Islam collides head-on with Judaism and Christianity in terms of historical accounts, logic and theology as elaborated in previous sections. In brief, the basic theological distinctives of the three religions are as follows:
Jews may hotly dispute and reject the Christian claim that the logic and theology of the Christian Testament flow smoothly and naturally from the Hebrew Jewish Testament. Muslims, however, are in a real pickle because Koranic theology clashes with both of those Testaments. It could hardly have been denied by any informed person of Muhammad's time that Mosaic Jews really and truly did set up a priesthood, built the Tabernacle/Temple, and operated an animal sacrifice system for the blood atonement of sins against God. That massive and elaborate system was in operation from the time of Moses all the way through the ministry of Jesus until the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the forced Diaspora of the Jews by the pagan Romans during the years 68 through 72 C.E.
I don't think that Muhammad or the revelator of the Koran really grasped the full significance of the Mosaic system, for absolutely none of it survives in the Koran. If the Koran is actually correct in its theology and history, then the Mosaic sacrificial system was a gargantuan waste of time effort and animals; and the error would seriously undermine the credibility of both the Torah as genuine Revelation and of Moses as a true prophet of God.
As mentioned in my introduction, the Koran has a substantial amount of borrowings from the Bible, especially the Jewish Testament. An excellent example of this is Surah 12 entitled “Joseph”, which is presented as a supposedly corrected version of the story of Joseph in Egypt from the Book of Genesis. The problem with all of the corrected ‘history’ in the Koran is that it doesn't actually accomplish anything. Even if the Koran's versions are true they would have almost no theological impact on the Jewish Testament, as they don't address the Mosaic system of priesthood and blood atonement of sin by substitutionary sacrificial DEATH.
Indeed, Surah 12 highlights yet another serious problem for the Koran and Islam. Surah “Joseph” is a very abbreviated version of the story found in Genesis chapters 37-50. But if you lay the Koranic version side-by-side and point-by-point with the Torah version there is no significant difference. This can be viewed in two different ways. First, if the worst of the scriptural corruption in the Torah is to be found in the story of Joseph, then the simple changes can be made so as to render the Torah completely corrected—and therefore coequal with the Koran. The second view is that if the Biblical Torah is correct and trustworthy on the story of Joseph, then the Biblical Torah as a whole can be accepted on all points not specifically and properly abrogated by the Koran—once again rendering the Torah coequal with the Koran.
The problems become acute when the Koran refers to the Christian Testament. There is simply no “best of history” regarding the collapse of the Islamic ministry of Jesus and the rise of the false religion of Biblical Christianity. Also, its accounts of the mission, ministry and final fate of Jesus are almost completely at odds with the best available Christian Testament manuscripts.
There are two complete copies of the Bible in existence (one in the Vatican at Rome, the other in the British Museum at London) that date to at least two centuries before Muhammad. If the Christian Testament and Jewish Torah are corrupted, then those corruptions were formalized and finalized long before the birth of Muhammad, therefore Allah the All-Knowing and All-Seeing had plenty of time to prepare “best of histories, clear discourse and full disquisition without any obliquity” for corrections in his Qur'an. These, however, never materialized.
Islam is the excellent practice of excellent religion. But that's really beside the point. Such excellence is something of a ‘red herring’. Genesis chapter 4 relates the story of Cain and Able. Cain was, I feel, practicing excellent religion when he offered up in sacrifice to the Lord his first fruits of the soil. I have no doubt that he offered up the very best of his produce, offered it in generous abundance and with the best religious form. I also have no doubt that Cain honestly thought that God would not only accept the offering but would also praise him for it. Cain was probably shocked, confused and angered by God's rejection of his offering, and jealous that Abel's bloody-carcass sacrifice was accepted by God.
However, Cain should not have been surprised by what happened. God had informed both men as to the proper method of sacrificial offering. Cain knew that as well as Able. Cain's offering was rejected not because of inferior religious form or poor quality fruit or stingy portions, but because it was not what God had specified; was not what God wanted; and was not what God would accept. The story of Cain and Able should be a cautionary tale for all practitioners of religion. You may think that you have it just right, when in reality you have it dead wrong.
Islam is the formalization of the mistake of Cain. Excellent——but wrong.
Be that as it may, if the Koran is (as Muslims claim) actually the complete, uncorrupted, final Great Revelation come to us via certified copies in the living language of Arabic directly from God Almighty five hundred years after the Christian writings (and many more hundreds of years after the Jewish writings), then it should be a sparkling gem of absolute perfection. All relevant issues should be addressed, all reasonable questions answered, all important problems solved. The Koran should be unassailable by even the most hostile critic, no matter how well qualified or credentialed. I should have exhausted myself in this article trying to find any significant flaws, errors or deficiencies in the Koran—and failed miserably in the attempt. At this point I should be condemning the Bible, repudiating my Christian faith, confirming the Koran as Divine Revelation from God Almighty, and humbly going to my knees in Islam by sincerely reciting the Shahada: “Ilaha illa Allah. Muhammad rasul Allah.”—There is no god but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.
Having said that, if you have made it this far into the article it should come as no surprise that I am totally underwhelmed by the Koran. Although it is certainly of supernatural origin (or at least supernatural assistance), once you boil away the poetic verbiage, plagiarisms, questionable histories and repetitions, the Koran virtually disappears! But most seriously, the residual substance of the Koran fails to satisfy the “Correspondence Principle”. Where the Christian Testament at least tries to flow smoothly from the Jewish Torah and account for its precepts, Allah in his Koran totally ignored the Mosaic Covenant and departed from the Torah on many points without account, explanation, or proper abrogation.
Now, the refutation of the Koran and fall of Islam would not automatically prove Christianity to be true. That's a totally separate issue. As has been the case for the past nineteen centuries, Christianity is going to have to prove its truth claims; standing or falling on its own merits.
In the end I must conclude this article by saying that Muhammad was a sane and honest man who was badly deceived by Satan; the Koran is a false revelation; and Islam is all too easily twisted by extremist fanatics into a deadly dangerous, oppressive rogue religion.
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Special thanks to Islamic apologist Demijan Omeragic for insisting that I delve much deeper into the history of the Koran and the evidence in its favor. This additional investigation resulted in the first revision of my original article.
Very special thanks to Mr. Osama Abdallah, webmaster of the Answering Christianity website, for his lengthy rebuttal of the first revision of this article (linked below), and to Islamic apologist Kurt Smith for his penetrating critique; both of which spurred the second major revision.
Also my sincere thanks to Naveed Khan and Adnan Mirza for their honest and direct questions, which brought about this third major revision.
The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?
F. F. Bruce
The Origin of the Bible
Philip Wesley Comfort (ed.)
Tyndale House Publishers
The Rise of Christianity
Paul Avis (ed.)
William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co.
The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus
Here is a good Bible web-tool: biblegateway.com
A good site for questions about Christianity and the Bible: GotQuestions.org
Christian sites dealing with Islam:
Here are some good Islamic sites:
The Amazing Qur'an by Dr. Gary Miller: islam101.com
The Mathematical Miracle of the Qur'an by Dr. Rashad Khalifa: submission.org
Koran word search engines:
An Islamic rebuttal of the First Major Revision of this article: answering-christianity.com
[NOTE: For those reading the rebuttal, please keep two things in mind. First, Mr. Abdallah was evaluating the first major revision of this article. I did my best to address his concerns and objections in the second major revision. Also, Mr. Abdallah includes a tremendous amount of material showing that the Koran was supernaturally inspired. Apparently he did not realize that I repeatedly conceded that point in my article. So do yourself a favor and just skip over that mountain of needless reference.]
Truth Revealed by Rahmatullah Kairanvi (1864): bibleislam.com (To Christian Fundamentalists: buckle your seatbelts, strap on your crash helmets and get ready for a really rough ride.)
Check out this brief quote from one of H. L. Mencken's books. It shows his understanding of the story of Jesus. As you read the quote, keep firmly in mind that Mencken was born and raised in “Christian” America:
Mencken on Jesus Scroll down to item number 198.
As mentioned in the subsection ‘Gabriel and the Holy Spirit’, a similar problem crops up in 7:157 regarding the great prophet foretold in Deut. 18:15-19. It seems that the Arabic word ‘al-ummi’ is as slippery and vague as the Arabic term ‘ruh ul-qudus’. I noticed this when using alternate translations of the Qur'an, for some translated the word as meaning ‘unlettered’ (i.e. illiterate) while Dr. Khalifa and Prof. Ali chose the word ‘gentile’. Since the English meanings of these two words is very different, I went online for clarification.
My inquiry to Dr. Khalifa at submission.org brought this response from the staff: “Peace be upon you. Would like to let you know that Dr. Rashad Khalifa has been in Heaven with God since 1990. As for your concern, Prophet Muhammad wrote down the verses of the Quran as they were released into his memory, and he is the one who delivered them to the people gradually. This is spelled out in the following verses:
[25:5] They also said, “Tales from the past that he wrote down; they were dictated to him day and night.”
[24:32] Those who disbelieved said, “Why did not the Quran come through him all at once?” We have released it to you gradually, in order to fix it in your memory. We have recited it in a specific sequence.
“During Muhammad's time people did not have numbers as we have them today. Back then they used letters as numerical values known as the gematrical values. For example the letter “alif” or A in Arabic had a gematrical value of 1, the letter “Ba” or B had a gematrical value of 2 and so on. So, the prophet dealt with letters everyday, he was not illiterate.
“Please note that the Quran confirms that Muhammad was a literate man because chapter 96 was the first revelation that come to him and the very first verse commanded him to “READ”. You cannot command an illiterate man to read.
“Also, there is this misconception that the word “ummy” used in the Quran is limited to illiteracy. Although in some cases “ummy” means illiterate, the Quran confirms that this word has a general meaning implying the lack of knowledge and not necessarily implying reading and writing. This is the meaning stated in most decent and respected Arabic dictionaries, and again confirmed by the Quran. In other words, every illiterate is a gentile in respect of writing and reading but not every gentile is necessarily an illiterate. Gentile is a more appropriate English word to describe how prophet Muhammad did not have any knowledge of the previous scriptures or of faith in general. The following verses clearly conform with the correct and general definition of the word “Ummi” or gentile (lacking the knowledge of certain aspects):
[2:78] Among them are [UMMY] gentiles who do not know the scripture, except through hearsay, then assume that they know it.
[62:2] He is the One who sent to the gentiles a messenger from among them, to recite to them His revelations, purify them, and teach them the scripture and wisdom. Before this, they had gone far astray.
“I hope this clarifies you[sic] concern, God willing.”
Well, not really. With names like “Khalifa” and “Ali” it is fairly obvious that English was their second language. Still, these two men displayed an excellent command of the English language; so much so that I am surprised that they could have made such a serious translational blunder. “Gentile” is so commonly understood in the West as meaning “non-Jew” that giving it any other meaning in the Qur'an just muddies the waters and confuses the situation.
But things are not much better as regards the other translators. My inquiry to islamqa.com did not produce a direct answer. As before, they referred me to a previous Fatwa which is linked for your edification: Fatwa
My inquiry to the Jamiat resulted in this brief reply from Mufti Suhail Tarmahomed: “The correct translation is “unlettered”. Gentile is the incorrect translation. We advise that you use authentic translations of the Qur'an. An authentic translation that we suggest is “The Noble Qur'an” by Mufti Taqi Uthmani. And Allah Knows Best. Wassalaam. Fatwa Dept.”
I think that I can reject the word “gentile” as the correct meaning for the Arabic word ‘al-ummi’. A more correct understanding of this word in the Qur'anic sense would be “unschooled” or “untrained in scripture and theology”. However, such a change would in no way improve the situation for the Qur'an and Islam. Deuteronomy simply gave no such characteristic as a qualifier or identifier of the great prophet. Therefore such reference is irrelevant as regards Muhammad of Mecca and further demonstrates profound ignorance of the Torah.
Also, in researching the first major revision of this article I sent several inquiries to Islamic scholars trying to get their views on the main points presented above. Unfortunately, to date only two have responded, and those scholars seem to have an almost total lack of familiarity with the Jewish Torah. Their responses clearly trivialized the Mosaic Covenant to such a degree that it was obvious they didn't realize how extensive and detailed the Mosaic Covenant really is.
The following is a reply to questions I submitted to the “Ask the Scholar” section of Islam-Online. It is from Mufti Dr. Muhammad M. Abu Laylah, a professor at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt:
“In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful,
“Dear Questioner, first of all, I would like to thank you very much for your interest to ask about something that you feel you need an answer for it. It is a good sign to seek other religion in quest for reality and truth.
“I will answer you [sic] question very briefly as it includes many points that need to be covered, and if you want more elaboration regarding a certain point, write us back and we are always ready to answer you queries.
“We will deal with this lengthy question point by point in brief. Concerning your first point on whether the Bible was available to Muhammad in the seventh century of the Christian era, we'd like to draw you attention to some facts about which no one can easily argue. 1- Muhammad was born and brought up in Makkah (Mecca) and lived there up to forty years of his age when the revelation come to him. There were no Jewish community in Makkah. 2- Makkans never allowed any other religion to penetrate their society. 3- We have no report whatsoever to tell that Muhammad used to read or learn before he received the Qur'an. There is nothing to tell that he learned Jewish or Christian Book in his birth place and bear in mind that he was unlettered. 4- He received the Qur'an verses after verses not in a complete written book. 5- The Qur'an in its order, style and above all knowledge is different from the Bible. 6- There is no evidence whatsoever to tell that neither the Torah nor the Bible in general were translated to Arabic in that time. So, to have access to these books, Muhammad should know how to speak Syriac or Hebrew, something for which we have no proof at all to say it. 7- The Torah and the Bible in general were not available to every Jew, let alone the non-Jewish people. We are here bound by the Christian tradition, i.e. the Torah was kept under the custody of the Aaronic priest and he kept it with him and he used to take it out just occasionally to read and then fold it and restore it to its place. Having stated this, how could Muhammad get access to this Torah. The Muslims believe that the Qur'an is the absolute word of Allah without any human intervention. Muhammad was just a conveyer to this word.
“Thank you very much for your comment that the Qur'an is a complete and correct Book. This is absolutely true. It is true also that the Qur'an in many places and in many Surahs talked about Moses and the Torah and also about some preceding prophets and Scriptures. But you should bear in mind that the Qur'an is not a historical book and you should not take it in the same skill as the Torah and the Old Testament writings in which there are many unnecessarily details. These details mentioned in the Torah and other Books contained in the Old Testament are proved to be contradictory. If you read deeply, you will find many differences which the modern biblical scholars established that these Books are written by different hands in different times and in different places. The Qur'an is free from all this. The Qur'an refers to the most essential teachings of the previous holy Books which are in accordance with its teachings We believe that the Torah is a heavenly Book that was sent to Moses by God and contains guidance like the Qur'an but later on it was subject to corruption and alteration for reasons we talked about in such brief answer. We, Muslims, still believe in the divine origin of the Torah that is in the Jewish and Christian's hand. We also believe that there are many parts of existing Torah that bear the divine stand but not all things stated are of divine origin.
“About tabernacle and slaughtering animal and the Mosaic code of priesthood, we say briefly that Islam does not accept priesthood and the concept of tabernacle and animal sacrifice in the tabernacle sense because this presents burdens to people and are not of practical nature and if we review the Jewish history, we will find that the Jews hardly could have chance to offer animal sacrifice in the tabernacle sense. The relationship between man and Allah should be direct. Scholars of religion should not exercise any special authority over people or claim any special rank at the expense of their religion or take religion as a trademark. We, Muslims, offer animal sacrifice to Allah after Pilgrimage in the feast and in memory of Abraham and Ishmael. This sacrificial animal is distributed among the poor and needy people in the society.
“About the point concerning the corrections to the Torah in the Qur'an, we'd like to state that it is Allah the Almighty Who told us about the alteration that the Torah suffered and He gave us the right thing of these Books and we should bear in mind that Islam is the true religion that was delivered by all prophets since Adam to Muhammad, apart from what we call, Judaism, Christianity, Islam. So, what is written in the Qur'an about these aspects is just to give the right form that was really delivered by Prophet Moses, or Noah or Solomon and other Prophets.
[NOTE: The questions I posed were the seven points listed in the subsection “Koran” in Section One. This part of my question was about blood atonement and animal sacrifice, not pagan human sacrifice] “As for the sixth point, Islam honored human life and totally forbid the killing of man. What was prescribed in the time of Moses to people to kill themselves as a sign of repentance was circumstantial and as a matter of fact it was done by the people themselves not by the order of Allah or otherwise it was a kind of punishment. The command of Allah to them to kill themselves was a sort of temporary punishment as our Qur'an interpreters explained. But in the Qur'an Allah forbids this and releases the Israelites from the bondage of killing. Almighty Allah says: “He will enjoin on them that which is right and forbid them that which is wrong. He will make lawful for them all good things and prohibit for them only the foul; and he will relieve them of their burden and the fetters that they used to wear.” (Al A'raf: 157)
“As you rightly observed, the Qur'an gives the right substitute without unnecessarily argument. You may refer here to Almighty Allah's saying “so turn in penitence to your Creator, and kill (the guilty) yourselves. That will be best for you with your Creator and He will relent toward you. Lo! He is the Relenting, the Merciful.” (Al-Bawarah:54) Your observation here is right that the Qur'an gives the right substitute without taking argument or referring to Judaism because it is beyond the Qur'anic technique, if we allow ourselves to say, to give reason for everything Allah says. Allah is the legislator and revealer of the Qur'an and all other divine Books. So, sometimes the Qur'an gives a definite statement especially in matters that do not acquire anything beyond the text. Islam takes the good deeds as the best means to repent from the sin and to cover the guilt. This gives man the chance to correct himself by himself and to turn into a better behavior and to be more constructive and realistic. Offering sacrifice alone cannot make man better. That is why Islam put it this way.
“I hope we covered your points to the best of our ability as time allows. If you want a detailed answer regarding a certain point, write back specifying this point and we will deal with it in detail as much as we can.
“Allah Almighty knows best.”
And this from Mufti Dr. Marawan Shahin, also of Al-Azhar University, in reply to questions put to him by a Pakistani man with whom I had been in correspondence:
“All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
“I would like to direct your attention to the fact that it was far better for you to mention the source from which your friend got the idea that “God told Moses that the penalty of sin is DEATH and sacrifice must be made to pay for sin.” Such concept of sacrifice is totally rejected in Islam. In no way was death penalty is a form of sacrifice. Thus authenticating such information, from your friend's side is very important.
“Having stated the above, I can't deny that there is a reference to the fact that death is an atonement and is a form of repentance. Referring to this, Allah Almighty says, “And when Moses said unto his people: O my people! Ye have wronged yourselves by your choosing of the calf (for worship) so turn in penitence to your Creator, and kill (the guilty) yourselves. That will be best for you with your Creator and He will relent toward you. Lo! He is the Relenting, the Merciful.” (Al-Baqarah:54)
“Even if there is a direct indication in the above verse to the fact that death is a form of sacrifice and an atonement for the sin, the case can't be generalized for all sins in all ages.
“Having said so, I should conform that prayer, Zahah (Zakat), and other righteous deeds are means of gaining Allah's Mercy, and they are not sacrifices for sin although they are forms of sacrifice that the Muslim resort to so as to gain Allah's Mercy in the Hereafter.
“Allah Almighty knows best.”
Had I known that Muslim scholars are so shockingly unfamiliar with the Jewish Torah, I would have framed my questions with much greater care and detail. Since the Qur'an recognizes Moses as a validated prophet and the Torah (with corrections) as a validated revelation from Allah, Muslims in general should be every bit as expertly familiar with the Torah as they are with the Qur'an. There is simply no excuse for this level of ignorance; especially from university professors.
The following is a copy of an email exchange with someone identified only as “joni-congress” and joni's Islamic scholar Mr. Shabir. This exchanged occurred during April and May of the year 2012. I present everything from Joni and Mr. Shabir verbatum and without correction of spelling or grammatical errors. This is not to cause embarrassment but to ensure that I do not introduce additional error with my ‘corrections’.
[From Joni] “i have gone through your article over and over again and cannot find any substantive arguments valid to us muslims as in contrast to what perhaps you wre trying to archieve. i do not believe you are even a qualified quranic student. this is why even the translations you used are wrong. i believe you just woke up one day, had an idea, picked up a translation of the quran and started reading the english version. for you to understand quran you have to study its language and grammar and that is not a four year study.”
[my reply] “Dear Joni, while my primary translation was by Prof. Ali, I have over the years backed that up with other translations available online (and linked at the end of the article). I really don't think that the problems and objections I was dealing with were translation problems. If the Qu'ran is actually the great and final revelation from the one true God, then the truth of that revelation would shine through even in a poor translation.
But think about this question very carefully: Can a correct English translation of the Qu'ran be made? The implication of your second paragraph is that there is no Arabic speaker who could become expert enough in English to do the translation, and no English speaking person who could become expert enough in Arabic to do the translation. I believe the (sic) there are enough true scholarly experts in both languages to do a competent translation of the Qu'ran so as to allow all of my questions to be answered, all of my objections to be refuted, and all important problems to be solved.
I leave you and your Qu'ranic scholars with this question: Why was Jesus virgin born if nobody knew about it at that time?”
[reply from Qu'ranic scholar Mr. Shabir] “BIAMILLAHI RAHMANIR RAHEEM ASALAMUN ALEYKUN Dear Brother Brian
May ALLAH grant you knowledge and the will to understand His message
you made a very good point about ALLAH's light should shine through even if the translation is not perfect. YES INDDED. today the HOLY QURAN has become the encyclopedia for scientists, atrologists, anatomists, physicists, biologists, archelogists, historians and many many more. Experts have translated the Quran but if you ISOLATE ONE VERSE OF THE QURAN TO MAKE AN APPLICATION, YOU MUST SUBSTANTIATE ITS RELEVANCE AND NOT JUST THE ENGLISH TRANSLATION as each verse in the quran relates to one another in unity. but not all verses translated nowadays are accepted because people translate verses to suit their desires because of the appliation of that verse in relevance to their book or article. in order words, they do not study evidence and develop articles from it, INSTEAD THEY WRITE THEIR ARTICLE FIRST AND THEN BEGIN SEARCHING FOR EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THE SUPERSITION OR CONTAMINATING DISEASE WHICH THE WISH TO SELL. in real fact, your disease only affcts you own people and does not harm one moumin in the world. you only corrupt the minds of your christains. thats is the only success you will receive.
however so you mentioned jesus and a virgin birth and asked why there was no mention of it. the QURAN did not claim mary was a virgin when she gave birth to jesus. neither does it claim mary was a virgin at the time she was inspired with the gregnancy of jesus. the quran states that she was married to joseph and that when mary was informed of the news of pregnancy, she questioned angel Gabriel ‘how can i get pregnant when no man has TOUCHED me’ meaning..i have NOT HAD SEXUAL INTERCOUSE WITH A MAN FOR CONTRACEPTION TO HAVE TAKEN PLACE. SO HOW CAN I GET PREGNANT. then the ANGEL in return assured her that ‘THAT IS EASY FOR ALLAH. even later on, other angels who came to congratulate her for this assured her of the same fate. THE QURAN NEVER CLAIMED SHE WAS A VIRGIN, BUT CHASTE. meaning she was pure and only for her husband. she never had any immoral thoughts in her mind or engaged in foolish talks with men, or any other illicit activities that would have rendered her personality otherwise. SHE WAS CHAST MEANS SHE WAS PURE NOT A ‘VIRGIN’..UNTOUCHED BY OTHER MEN and at the time of receiving the message ebing delivered to her by ANGEL GABRIEL, she had not slept with Joseph (perhaps after her immediate mensturation cycle of which joseph may not have been aware...emphasis are mine).
many confused christian appologist who have challenged their own very book and have condemned it several times due to its authenticity and various numerous mistakes contained in their bible continues, stirving hard to find errors in the QURAN and intend/wish in many order, find a way to couurpt or find corruptions in the QURAN but have so far failed to do so. INSTEAD THEY BASE ALL THEIR SO-CALLED CORRUPTION ON ENGLISH-TRANSLATION. but the very english professors can tell you english isnot the best language to translate any ancient language into. even when you travel to other countries of which you have mastered their language, you find it hard to find words or sentences in english to explain the humour of that language in a way that the humour is not affected. eg. if a greek man explains a funny story in greek, the gravity of its humour cannot be befitted using english as you will realise english runs out of words and nouns to explain things. ENGLISH IS NOT PERFECT BECAUSE IT WAS INVENTED. same for all invented languages out there which are either extinct, or limited.
ALLAH sets His signs and prophesies to be fullfiled by term and peroids for every generation that comes to exist until the end. NOT ALL PROPHESIES HAVE BEEN FULFILED AND MANY GETS FULFILLED NOW AND THEN THIS IS WHY ALLAH INVITES ALL TO LOOK AGAIN, AND THEN LOOK AGAIN IF THEY CAN FIND ANY FLAWS.
some translators have been used by publishers to try to answer that all prophesies have been fulfilled and they try so hard to convince people that the prophesies did take place at times during the lifehood of the PROPHET MUHAMMAD. many of christian appologists hav been embarassed by islamic scholars, when yuor folks try to point out contradiction only as ALLAH SAYS it will return back to you fill you with amazement cause you find in it no errors or descipancies. with regards to your article, i can assure you that your translations are wrong and your application of the verse is perverse as no reasonable learned scholar would apply it in the manner you have unless they themselves have a corrupt agenda and then seeks to find something to nail it their point..but the nail only ends up in you head. now look again from what i have written and find me descripancies if you are truthful. i am only human. and you are nowhere firm in knowledge of qulified to even give a lecture aout GOD because you mind is already corrupt.
[my response] Dear Mr. Raheem, thank you very much for your reply. I greatly appreciate it. I am well aware of the problems of translation, for Jewish and Christian scholars struggle with the problems of bringing the ancient Hebrew and Greek into modern English. Also, individual Jews and Christians have personal and professional preferences regarding the many translation of the Judeo-Christian scriptures. Indeed, many Christians will only accept the King James Version of the Bible and reject all others.
As regards the major religious questions in both Judaism and Christianity, I have found little difference betweent the many different translations of the Bible which I have read. As I said below, I have double checked my work with different translations of the Qu'ran and do not feel that the differences have any effect on my conclusions. I am confident that if I read the translation that you might recommend, that all of the problems I point out in my article would still remain.
I assure you in all honesty and sincerity that I read the Qur'an with a clear and open mind. Even if Professor Ahmed Ali's translation were poor (and it seems to be excellent), I would have recognized the truth of the Qur'an and gone to my knees in submission to Allah. You must realize that it is asking much of a Jew or Christian to abandon our faith. The evidence in the Qur'an must be very convincing and good. As I said in the Conclusion of my article, the Qur'an should be a sparkling gem of absolute perfection beyond any criticism or refute. Yet my questions remain unanswered after eleven years of correspondence with Muslim scholars and apologists.
If I may comment on your second paragraph, do I correctly understand that you are saying that Mary was NOT a virgin when God caused her to concieve by the power of His word? Who was she having sex with? If she was married to Joseph, are you suggesting that he was not having sex with his young bride? Even ignoring the pleasure of sex, it would be the duty expected by his family and Jewish religion for him to get Mary pregnant by regular sex. It is unreasonable to suggest that Joseph was celebate in marriage. Also, is Joseph the husband of Mary mentioned in the Qur'an? I cannot find him.
But even assuming that Mary was not a virgin, the Qur'an still states that Jesus was concieved by the word and power of God—not by sex. So my question still stands: Why was Jesus concieved by God when no one else was—not even Mohammad? What religious purpose did it serve? What theological advantage or benefit did it give, when nobody knew about it at that time? Remember, it is clear in both the Christian Bible Gospel AND the Qur'an that neither Jesus nor his companions ever mentioned that Jesus was concieved by the power of God. It was only reported in Gospel and Qur'an AFTER Jesus was taken up into heaven.
Once again I thank you for the honor of your reply, and look forward to a scholarly answer. I have many more questions for you.
[response for joni] brian how are you? i spoke to brother shabir and he studied your publication and my response. he actually recomend that you read the response from joni-congress thoroughly as the answers and light are carried in joni's response to your article. he said you may have only browsed through rather than to read it clearly.
i looked through myself, an inded, the answers are clear and enlightenend in joni's response to you. i recomend you read joni's response again.
[my response] Dear ?????, there now seems to be at least three people involved with this e-mail exchange: you (whoever you are), Mr Shabir (whoever he is), and whoever (or whatever) joni-congress is. The original e-mail from joni-congress is at the bottom of this e-mail, and is only one paragraph long I have easily answered all of her vague and non-specific objection.
If scholar shabir has truly studied my publication then he can respond with specific refutes to every part of my article. As an honest scholar I will make all due corretions to my article, even admitting that I am wron as regars Islam. However, I have asked a specific question to the teahers and scholars of joni-congress which can be given a specific Islamic answer. I will give scholar shabir another couple of weeks to provide an answer. If he does not respond or cannot give a specific answer then I will have to note in my article that an Islamic scholar was not able to answer this simple an diret question:
“Why was Jesus conceived by the direct power and word of Allah when no one else was—not even Muhammad? From an Islamic/Qur'anic perspective, what religious purpose did it serve? What theological or practical advantage did it give Jesus, when nobody knew about it at that time? Remember, it is clear in both the Christian Bible Gospel AND the Qur?an that neither Jesus nor his companions ever mentioned that Jesus was concieved by the power of God. It was only reported in Gospel and Qur?an AFTER Jesus was taken up into heaven.”
If you or Mr Shabir cannot answer this simple question, the YOU need to consider the scholarly and theological ground you stand upon.
[There was no response to my last email. The following was sent by me one month later.] “Dear Joni, I have given your teachers and scholars a full month to answer my simple question about Jesus. As a Muslim you should be VERY disturbed by their unwillingness or inability to answer this question. If you have any questions about Christianity I will be more than happy to discuss them with you. In the mean time I will be adding this to my article as a further example of the inability of Muslim scholars to answer simple and direct questions.”
I will post all substantial replies to this article.