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Is the Qur'an divine?

Many Muslims say the Qur’an is more than just a book and that it is a holy book above all things. They even promoted devotion to the Qur’an to such a high level that it is no longer a physical object on earth, but a divine product. The high position of such a book for many Muslims challenges to do an evaluation.

Context of divine

The Qur’an mentions its own divinity:

“Will they not then ponder on the Qur'an? If it had been from other than Allah they would have found therein much incongruity.” (Qur’an 4:82 – Pickthall).

“Do they not consider the Qur'an (with care)? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy.” (Qur’an 4:82 – Yusuf Ali).

“Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’ān?1 If it had been from [any] other than Allah, they would have found within it much contradiction.” (Qur’an 4:82 – Saheeh International).

We notice the words incongruity, discrepancy and contradiction. What do these word mean? The dictionary [1] gives the following answers:

Incongruity is the fact that something is incongruous (unusual or different from what is around or from what is generally happening).

Discrepancy is an unexpected difference, especially in two amounts or two sets of facts or conditions, which suggests that something is wrong and has to be explained. We may call this in a simple word a problem.

Contradiction is a fact or statement that is the opposite of what someone has said or that is so different from another fact or statement that one of them must be wrong.

Now we also need to look what divine means. Our dictionary tells us that divine is connected with a god, or like a god.

Falsification test

The mother of all Qur’an tests is the falsification test. For example, the declaration "all swans are white" is refuted in case someone can show "here is a black swan". In that case, we have proof that "all swans are white" is false. However, we do not have the power to check out all universe at all times. Therefore any moment, anywhere, a black swan can be discovered. A believer in the Qur’an as a divine book will never be able to prove that it is true and perfect. Non-Muslims should be aware about the very high position of the Qur’an for Muslims. When a Muslim has lost his holy book, he will lose all spiritual foundation. A Muslim will only be able to put the Qur’an under a critical test when he is offered something better than the Qur’an. It means that if someone is able to find only one small error, contradiction, discrepancy or incongruity, then the Qur’an is false. The Muslim believer in the divine Qur’an should attempt to disprove his holy book rather than attempt to continually defend or prove it to come to the unrefuted eternal truth of life. With this we may describe a list of test for a divine Qur’an:

  1. Grammar problems
  2. Repetition
  3. Deletions and additions
  4. Verses contradicting each other
  5. Contradictions with history
  6. Contradictions with science
  7. Contradictions between Qur’an and Bible

1. Grammar problems

The Qur’an has many incorrect grammar cases that easy can be seen by all Arabic readers. In Qur’an 5:69, Saabi'uuna is used in an incorrect way, it has been has been declined well in Qur’an 2:62 and 22:17. Muqiimiin should be muqiimuun in Qur’an 4:162. Qur’an 20:63: haazaani should be haazayn [2]. The language of the Qur’an in the above verses in this case is the incorrect grammar of Arabic editors.

2. Repetition

The Qur’an has in chapters 14, 30, 50 and 77 many repetitions [3]. There are also repetitions in other chapters. Muslim scholars give as reason that it is needed for memorization. But the early Muslims had no problems to memorized the complete Qur’an. The stories of the prophets are repeated over many surahs. The organization of the information is at low level. A better editor is able to compile a much smaller Qur’an that is easier to search. Repetitions are in e.g. Qur’an 2:62 and 5:69, Qur’an 16:43 and 21:7, Qur’an 3:49 and 5:110.

3. Deletions and additions

In the Qur’an is a law to stone adulterers. However, this punishment was downplayed in Qur’an 24:2 to only hundred strokes. More serious is the Muhammad’s addition of two verses with a revelation from Satan: “Indeed they are the high cranes (high maidens) and indeed their intercession is to be desired” [4]. The high cranes or high maidens are the daughters of Allah: Allat, al-Uzza and Manat. The daughters of Allah were well know to the people of the Quraysh tribe, who were happy with the new verses. Later Muhammad realized his mistake and deleted the verses because they were Satan’s verses [5]. Muslim scholars agree that the first verse in the Qur’an, the Bismillah is an addition after Muhammad’s time.

4. Verses contradicting each other

Many verses in the Qur’an are in contradiction with another verse: Qur’an 2:256 – Tolerance in religion, against Qur’an 9:3, support violence to become a Muslim. Qur’an 6:14 – Muhammad is the first believer, against Qur’an 7:143 – Moses is the first believer. Qur’an 10:64 – Allah's words have not changed, against Qur’an 2:106, 6:115, 16:101, Allah's words have changed. There are many of this kind of internal contradictions in the Qur’an.

5. Contradictions with history

Qur’an 20:85-87, 95-97 mentions that worshiping the calf at Mount Horeb by the People of Israel was constructed by a Samaritan. But according to history, the word Samaritan is connected with the Babylonian period in Israel, many centuries later [6]. It is not possible that there was a Samaritan in the time of the calf worship. It has been noticed that Pickthall and Yusuf Ali made an incorrect translation. Qur’an 17:1 mentions the Farthest Mosque, better known as the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. This mosque didn’t exist in Muhammad’s time, because it was Christian territory. Muslims tried to refute suggesting that it is a location, but in reality it is a building. Construction of this mosque is described in Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 636: “… Which mosque was built first?" He replied, "Al-Masjid-ul-Haram." I asked, "Which (was built) next?" He replied, "Al-Masjid-ul-Aqs-a (i.e. Jerusalem)." I asked, "What was the period in between them?" He replied, "Forty (years)."... ”.

6. Contradictions with science

Qur’an 86:6-7 contains the theory of Hippocrates about the origin of sperm from between a man's spine and ribs [7]. But medical science has discovered that semen comes from the male genitalia.

7. Contradictions between Qur’an and Bible

The Qur’an claims to continue the message of the Previous Scriptures, the Bible (Qur’an 5:48, 6:20, 10:38, 12:11, 12:111, 26:156, 26:196-197, 34:6). However there as many contradictions with the Bible such as: Qur’an 41:9-12 – Creation in 8 days, but the Bible says 6 days (Genesis 1:31). Qur’an 3:59 – Jesus is like Adam, according to the Bible says Jesus is more than Adam (Matthew 1:23, 1 Corinthians 15:21-23).

Conclusion

As any reader can observe there are many errors, contradictions, discrepancies or incongruities in the Qur’an. The statement that there exists something divine on earth is a contradiction with the Creator of heaven and earth, who is not part of his creation. In monotheism as supported by Islam, nothing divine can exist outside him, so a divine Qur’an is an impossibility. The Muslim is invited to start a relation with Jesus the Messiah by accepting him as Lord and Savior. The Qur’an only wants to show us the way to the shadows of divinity (Qur’an 1:6), Jesus Christ is divine (John 11:25, Matthew 24:35). The Qur’an shows the believer the way to divine education in the Bible [8].

Notes

  1. Cambridge Dictionary, Cambridge University, 1999.
  2. M. Rafiqul-Haqq, P. Newton, The Qur’an: Grammatical errors, 1996.
  3. Ibrahimkhan O. Deshmukh, The Gospel and Islam. GLS Publishing, Mumbai, 2011, 93.
  4. Sahab Ahmed, Satanic Verses, in: Jane Dammen McAuliffe (ed.), Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an, Volume Five, Brill, Leiden, 2002, 532.
  5. Hans Küng, Islam, Past, Present & Future, Oneworld Publications, 2009, 101.
  6. Michael Terry (ed), Reader's Guide to Judaism, Routledge, 2000, 541.
  7. G. E. R. Lloyd (ed), J. Chadwick (tr), Hippocratic Writings, Harmondsworth, New York, 1983, 317.
  8. Ibn Warraq, Why I am not a Muslim, Prometheus, New York, 1995, 92.

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