Muhammad's False Prophecies

Response to Hesham Azmy, Part 2

Sam Shamoun


[Continued from Part 1]

Mr. Azmy writes:

Mr. Shamoun wrote

On the Roman Conquest of Persia S. 30:2-4: "The Roman Empire has been defeated - in a land close by: But they, (even) after (this) defeat of theirs, will soon be victorious - within a few years." As the prophecy stated the Byzantines did become victorious over the Persians who had at first defeated them. Yet there are fundamental problems with this alleged prophecy: According to Yusuf Ali the Arabic word for "a few years," Bidh'un, signifies a period of three to nine years; yet according to some scholars the victory did not come until nearly twelve years later. The Persians defeated the Byzantines and captured Jerusalem at about A.D. 614 or 615. The Byzantine counter-offensive did not begin until A.D. 622 and the victory was not complete until A.D. 625, making it a period between ten to eleven years, not "a few years" alluded to in the Quran.

I first quote the passage under discussion

"The Roman Empire has been defeated in a land close by; but they, (even) after (This) defeat of theirs, will soon be victorious within a few years. With God is the Decision, in the Past and in the Future: On that day shall the Believers rejoice with the victory of God. He helps whom He will, and He is Exalted in Might, Most Merciful. (It is) the promise of God. Never does God depart From His promise: But most men understand not." (Holy Qur'an 30:2-6)

This passage was revealed after the defeat of Romans before the Persians, this took place in 614-15 A.D. For the next seven years, Romans were losing their cities to the Persians and there were no way to predict the Romans would stand up again. In 622, Emperor Heraclius transported his army through the Egean Sea and unexpectedly defeated the Persian army in the decisive battle of Issus. So, the prophecy indeed came true and Romans became victorious after 7 years. This victory was not transient, Romans moved forward and restored all what they had lost and launched their campaign toward the heart of Persia.

The title of "On the Roman Conquest of Persia" is deceptive, the prophecy talked about Romans being permanently victorious after their defeat within 3-9 years and this did take place as the Qur'an said. The extension of this victory is irrelevant to the prophecy, yet it proved that the victory was permanent as the Qur'an said.

RESPONSE:

We are glad that the author places the defeat of the Romans at 614-615 A.D. since this actually establishes my point. It establishes that this is a failed prophecy. The Encyclopedia Americana, 2000 Edition, Volume 4, p. 115 under the heading of Heraclius, states:

Heraclius found the empire in domestic turmoil. The Slavs threatened in the Balkans, the Persians and Visigoths in Asia Minor; in 615 the Persians reached the Bosporous, and in 619 they conquered Egypt. At first, Heraclius concentrated on internal reorganization of the empire. Then, in 622, he left Constantinople to begin a counterattack against the Persians. His military reforms bore fruit WHEN HE DESTROYED THE PERSIAN ARMY AT NINEVAH IN 627. (bold and capital emphasis mine)

On p. 421, under Khosrow II, the Americana writes:

... In 614 Khosrow’s army entered Jerusalem, sacked the Holy Sepulchre, and carried off the "True Cross" to the Sassanian capital at Ctesiphon. In 617 the Persians took Chalcedon, opposite Constantinople. Not until the forces of Emperor Heraclius crossed the Black Sea and took the offensive in the east were the armies of Khosrow and his chief general, Shahrbaraz, defeated in a series of brilliant campaigns (622-625).

In 626, Khosrow’s army, now rallied under his general Shahin, besieged Constantinople. But Heraclius again invaded Persian by way of Armenia and marched on the royal residence of Dastagird, from which Khosrow fled. A dynastic revolution led to Khosrow’s execution in 628-an end, as poets sang, that was the more ignominious for the glory lost. (bold and capital emphasis mine)

The Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 5, says about Heraclius:

In 614 the Persians conquered Syria and Palestine, taking Jerusalem and what was believed to be Christ’s Cross, and in 619 occupied Egypt and Libya…

In 622, clad as a penitent and bearing a sacred image of the Virgin, he left Constantinople, as prayers rose from its many sanctuaries for victory over the Persian Zoroastrians, the recovery of the Cross, and the reconquest of Jerusalem

The next two years he devoted to campaigns in Armenia, the manpower of which was vital to the empire, and to a devastating invasion of Persia. In 625 Heraclius retired to Anatolia. He had encamped on the west bank of the Sarus River when the Persian forces appeared on the opposite bank. Many of his men rushed impetuously across the bridge and were ambushed and annihilated by the enemy.

Emerging from his tent, Heraclius saw the triumphant Persians crossing the bridge. The fate of the Empire hung in the balance. Seizing his sword, he ran to the bridge and struck down the Persian leader. His soldiers closed rank behind him and beat back the foe.

In 626 the Persians advanced to the Bosporus, hoping to join the Avars in an assault on the land walls of Constantinople. But the Romans sank the primitive Avar fleet that was to transport Persian units across Bosporus and repelled the unsupported Avar assault. Heraclius again invaded Persia and in December 627, after a march across the Armenian highlands into the Tigris plain, met the Persians near the ruins of Nineveh. There, astride his renowned war-horse, he killed three Persian generals in single combat, charged into enemy ranks at the head of his troops, killed the Persian commander, and scattered the Persian host.

A month later, Heraclius entered Dastagird with its stupendous treasure. Khosrow was overthrown by his son, with whom Heraclius made peace, DEMANDING ONLY THE RETURN OF THE CROSS, the captives, AND CONQUERED ROMAN TERRITORY. Returning to Constantinople in triumph, he was hailed s a Moses, an Alexander, a Scipio. IN 630 HE PERSONALLY RESTORED THE CROSS TO THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE IN JERUSALEM. (bold and capital emphasis mine)

Under Khosrow II, p. 843, Britannica notes:

A second invasion of Mesopotamia, by Khosrow’s ablest general, Shahrbaraz, took place in 613. Damascus was taken in that year, and in 614 Jerusalem fell. The Holy Sepulchre was destroyed and the True Cross carried to Ctesiphon. Although Khosrow himself was generally tolerant of Christianity, Shahrbaraz permitted thousands of Christian prisoners to be tortured by his Jewish aides…

This tide of conquest was turned by Heraclius in a series of brilliant campaigns between 622 and 627. Since he retained command of the sea, Heraclius was able to sail to Issus and rout the Persian Army near the Armenian border. In alliance with the Khazar kingdom to the north of the Caucasus, he invaded Armenia again in 623, gaining victory over the King’s army near Canzaca. The town and fire temple were destroyed, together with the temple at Lake Urmia, traditionally associated with Zoroaster. The campaigns of 624 and 625 ranged across northern Syria and Mesopotamia and culminated in a reversal for Shahrbaraz forces on the river Saras.

Khosrow rallied his forces in 626 and, in alliance with the Avars, a people who were also in conflict with Byzantium at this time, sent one army to besiege Constantinople and another to oppose Heraclius. Constantinople held, and Shahin was defeated: the Persian second force was outmanoevred in 628 by Heraclius’ brave dash to Dastagird, the royal residence 70 miles (113 kilometres) north of Ctesiphon. An important but indecisive battle was fought near Nineveh, but, as the Byzantine army reapproached Dastagird, Khosrow fled. His letters calling Shahrbaraz to his aid had been intercepted, and, although his resources were now drastically reduced, he refused peace terms.

Khosrow’s prestige was now shattered, and he was now sick. The execution of Sharhbaraz and the desecration of Shahin’s corpse were followed by revolution in the royal household. Khosrow was condemned to death and executed (628), and his youngest son and heir, Mardanshah, was murdered before his eyes. His eldest son, Kavadh (Qobad) II. Sheroe, signed the peace. (bold emphasis mine)

According to these secular sources Khosrow took over Jerusalem in 614. Heraclius completely defeated the Persians in 627. In 628 Khosrow’s son gave back to Heraclius all the Roman territory and the Cross which Khosrow had taken. This would naturally include Jerusalem also. Yet it wasn’t until 630 that Heraclius restored the Cross to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. This means that my original date of 625 was off by at least three years. So I am grateful to the author since his rebuttal only caused me to strengthen my case against the Quran.

Using 614-615 as the date for the Persian victory over the Romans, Muslims are left with insurmountable problems. For instance, if we take the restoring of the Cross in 630 as our date, this means that it took the Romans 15-16 years to permanently conquer the Persians. Yet if we take 628 as the official date, this means that it took them 13-14 years. Let us suppose that the official date was 627 AD. This still leaves us with 12-13 years, and not the 3-9 years predicted by the Quran. In the words of Christian writer Gerhard Nehls:

This passage refers to the defeat of the Byzantines in Syria by the Persians under Khusran Parvis. (A.D. 615 - 6 years before the Hegira). However, the defeat of the Persians should take place soon—"in a small number of years". In the light of this prediction, Abu-Bakr undertook a bet with Ubai-ibn-Khalaf that this prediction would be fulfilled within three years, but he was corrected by Mohammed who stated that the "small number" is between three and nine years (Al-Baizawi). Muslims tell us that the Byzantines overcame their enemies within seven years. The fact, however, is that the Byzantines defeated Persia in A.D. 628 (Al-Baizawi commentary). That was twelve years after the prediction of Mohammed. Consequently this passage does not qualify as a prophecy, particularly as the time between prophecy and fulfilment was far too short, and in addition the event was easily predictable. (Gerhard Nehls, Christians Ask Muslims [Life Challenge, SIM International; Africa, 1992], pp. 70-71; bold emphasis ours)

Yet if we take the author’s own statements for granted, then the official date can only be 628. Notice what the author claims, this time with added emphasis:

The title of "On the Roman Conquest of Persia" is deceptive, the prophecy talked about ROMANS BEING PERMANENTLY VICTORIOUS AFTER THEIR DEFEAT within 3-9 years and this did take place as the Qur’an said. The extension of this victory is irrelevant to the prophecy, yet it proved that the victory was permanent as the Qur’an said.

Since the Romans did not become "permanently victorious" until the signing of the peace with Khosrow’s son in 628, this means that the author is being dishonest when he earlier states:

... In 622, Emperor Heraclius transported his army through the Egean Sea and unexpectedly defeated the Persian army in the decisive battle of Issus. So, the prophecy indeed came true and Romans became victorious after 7 years…

On what basis does the author assume that Heraclius’s defeat of the Persians at the Aegean Sea in 622 signified the fulfillment of the prophecy when the author himself states that the Quran is talking about the permanent victory of the Romans over the Persians? This battle was far from decisively determining Rome’s permanent victory over the Persians since the fighting continued until 627 AD, culminating in a signed peace in 628. The author is aware of this and states,

"This victory was not transient, Romans moved forward and restored all what they had lost and launched their campaign toward the heart of Persia."

And:

"... The extension of this victory is irrelevant to the prophecy, yet it proved that the victory was permanent as the Qur'an said."

The extension of this victory IS RELEVANT to the prophecy since 622 did not signal complete victory for the Romans seeing that they had many more battles to win before this could ever be determined.

Interestingly, the author will later quote Abdullah Yusuf Ali as saying:

"Bidh’un in the text means a short period -a period of from three to nine years. The period between the loss of Jerusalem (614-15) by the Romans and their victory at Issus (622) was seven years, AND THAT TO THE PENETRATION OF PERSIA BY HERACLIUS WAS NINE YEARS."

Even Yusuf Ali doesn’t agree that the Roman victory at Issus in 622 signified the fulfillment of the prophecy! Interestingly, in the footnote preceding this Yusuf Ali claims that the Romans carried the campaign into Persia in 624, but stops short of affirming that the Romans had achieved complete victory. Ali seemingly realized that history does not support the claim that 624 marked the time of the Roman conquest of Persia. In fact, Ali ends up admitting this in his very own appendix! Notice what Ali writes:

16. In these desperate circumstances Heraclius conceived a brilliant plan. He knew that the Persians were weak in sea power. He used his sea power to attack them in the rear. In 622 (the year of the Hijra) he transported his army by sea through the AEgean Sea to the bay just south of the Taurus Mountains. He fought a decisive battle with the Persians at Issus, in the same plain in which Alexander the Great had defeated the Persians of his day in his famous march to Syria and Egypt. The Persians were taken by surprise and routed. BUT THEY HAD STILL A LARGE FORCE IN ASIA MINOR, which they could have brought into play against the Romans if Heraclius had not made ANOTHER and equally unexpected dash by sea from the north. He returned to Constantinople by sea, made a treaty with the Avars, and with this help kept the Persians at bay round the capital. Then he led THREE CAMPAIGNS, IN 623, 624 AND 625, along the southern shore of the Black Sea and took the Persians again in the rear in the region round Trebizond and Kars. Through Armenia he penetrated into Persia and got into Mesopotamia. He was now in a position to strike AT THE VERY HEART OF THE PERSIAN EMPIRE. A DECISIVE BATTLE WAS FOUGHT ON THE TIGRIS NEAR THE CITY OF MOSUL IN DECEMBER 627. Before this battle, however, he had taken care to get the alliance of the Turks and with their help to relieve Constantinople IN 626 against the Persians and the treacherous Avars who had then joined the Persians.

17. Heraclius CELEBRATED HIS TRIUMPH IN CONSTANTINOPLE IN MARCH 628. PEACE WAS THEN MADE BETWEEN THE TWO EMPIRES ON THE BASIS OF THE STATUS QUO ANTE. Heraclius, in pursuance of a vow he had made, went south in the autumn to Emessa (Hims) and from there marched on foot to Jerusalem TO CELEBRATE HIS VICTORIES, AND RESTORE TO ITS PLACE THE HOLY CROSS WHICH HAD BEEN CARRIED AWAY BY THE PERSIANS AND WAS RETURNED TO THE EMPEROR AS A CONDITION OF PEACE. Heraclius’s [sic] route was strewn with costly carpets, AND HE THOUGHT THAT THE FINAL DELIVERANCE HAD COME FOR HIS PEOPLE AND HIS EMPIRE… (Ali, The Holy Qur’an, Translation and Commentary, appendix X, pp. 1073-1074; bold and capital emphasis ours)

We see that even Ali acknowledges that the Romans did not completely dominate the Persians in 624, but rather several years later in 627. Yet if Ali is correct, the victory wasn’t complete until Heraclius had entered Jerusalem and thought that he had finally gained complete deliverance for his people. This occurred after 628 AD. Either way, Ali’s own words leave us with the indisputable fact that the Quranic prophecy failed to transpire.

The author, seemingly aware of this, goes on to contradict his statement. Notice what he says shortly after this, with added emphasis:

It is noteworthy THAT THE PROGRESSIVE ROMAN VICTORY IN 624 was synchronous with Muslims' victory over Pagans in Badr battle and this is the fulfillment of the second part of the prophecy that reads "On that day shall the Believers rejoice with the victory of God. He helps whom He wills."

Amazingly, Mr. Shamoun was very brief in this aspect. Though, he elaborated on an eccentric interpretation that glaringly opposes authentic Islamic traditions.

The author now claims that the Roman victory continued till 624, and views it as being progressive in nature. If the author is correct here then the Romans could not have been completely victorious in 622. And seeing that the complete victory over the Persians didn’t occur until approximately 628, we end up right where we started. Namely, since the Quranic prophecy that the Persians would be defeated in 3-9 years failed to materialize this proves that the Quran is not the word of God.

This only shows that the author is willing to go to any lengths to save the Quran from a false prophecy.

The author continues:

Mr. Shamoun quoted Yusuf Ali saying, "According to Yusuf Ali the Arabic word for "a few years," Bidh'un, signifies a period of three to nine years". According to Yusuf Ali, the prophecy was perfectly fulfilled. He wrote ...
"Bidh'un in the text means a short period -a period of from three to nine years. TThe period between the loss of Jerusalem (614-15) by the Romans and their victory at Issus (622) was seven years, and that to the penetration of Persia by Heraclius was nine years."

Abdullah Yusuf Ali used Gibbon’s "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire", A. J. Butler’s "Arab conquest of Egypt" (Oxford, 1902) and others as references.

RESPONSE:

We have already shown that Yusuf Ali does not support the author’s claim of a 622 victory. The author has done the very thing he accuses me of, namely, misquoting sources.

The author continues:

Mr. Shamoun wrote:

The original Quranic text had no vowel marks. Thus, the Arabic word Sayaghlibuna, "they shall defeat," could easily have been rendered, with the change of two vowels, Sayughlabuna, "they (i.e. Romans) shall be defeated." Since vowel points were not added until some time after this event, it could have been quite possible for a scribe to deliberately tamper with the text, forcing it to become a prophetic statement.

This fact is solidified by Muslim commentator al-Baidawi. C.G. Pfander mentions Baidawi's comments on the variant readings surrounding this passage:

"But Al Baizawi shatters the whole argument of the Muslims by informing us of certain varied readings in these verses of Suratu'r Rum. He tells us that some read (Arabic text appears here) instead of the usual (Arabic text appears here) and (Arabic text appears here) instead of (Arabic text appears here). The rendering will then be: 'The Byzantines have conquered in the nearest part of the land, and they shall be defeated in a small number of years'. If this be the correct reading, the whole story about Abu Bakr's bet with Ubai must be a fable, since Ubai was dead long before the Muslims began to defeat the Byzantines, and even long before the victories which Heraclius won over the Persians. This shows how unreliable such Traditions are. The explanation which Al Baizawi gives is, that the Byzantines became conquerors of 'the well-watered land of Syria' (Arabic text appears here) and that the passage predicted that the Muslims would soon overcome them. If this is the meaning, the Tradition which records the 'descent' of the verses about six years before the Hijrah must be wrong, and the passage must belong to A.H. 6 at earliest. It is clear that, as the vowel points were not used when the Qur-an was first written down in Cufic letters, no one can be certain which of the two readings is right. We have seen that there is so much uncertainty about (1) the date at which the verses were 'sent down', (2) the correct reading, and (3) the meaning, that it is quite impossible to show that the passage contains a prophecy which was fulfilled. Hence, it cannot be considered to be a proof of Muhammad's prophetic office." (C. G. Pfander, Mizan-ul-Haqq - The Balance of Truth, revised and enlarged by W. St. Clair Tisdall [Light of Life P.O. Box 18, A-9503, Villach Austria], 279-280) [emphasis ours]

This being the case, a Muslim cannot confidently tell us what the true reading of the text is and hence cannot insure us that this verse originally predicted the Byzantine victory over the Persians. Yet either rendering leaves us with a false prophecy within the Quran.

So, when they cannot refute the prophecy, they claim that Muslims fabricated it. Very convenient!

RESPONSE:

The only thing that is being fabricated is the author’s straw man argumentation. Anyone reading my article can see that I gave several lines of evidence why this is a false prophecy, one of which included the fact that there were different renderings of this verse. Seeing that al-Baidawi admits that variant readings of this passage existed and seeing that these variants affect the meaning of the text, then my conclusion is valid. Namely, in light of these variants one cannot be certain whether this passage did in fact predict the Roman victory over the Persians.

The author then makes the following claim:

The Qur’an was first orally transmitted by hundreds of reciters, this means that no one could change the meaning while others are asleep because other reciters of the Qur’an would quickly recognize the flaw. This is not the case with written transmission that is more liable to corruption in absence of memorization. This oral transmission is still present until now and there are millions of Muslims who memorize the Qur’an as first recited by the Prophet (peace be upon him).
This is a fatal objection against Shamoun’s argument because transmission of the Qur’an in both oral and written is identical, thus excludes any charge of tampering.

RESPONSE:

As we shall shortly demonstrate the author’s appeal to oral transmission will backfire against him and fails to prove his point. We will see that the official Muslim sources demonstrate that neither memorization nor the written text managed to preserve the Quran completely.

The author proceeds:

Another noteworthy point is that Al-Baidawi affirmed the prophecy of Roman victory over Persians in his commentary, page 534, and said it is among signs of his truthfulness. So, how come he is quoted to say the opposite?! Is it a widespread practice among Christian missionaries?

RESPONSE:

Here the author either misrepresents my view or deliberately twists it. I never claimed that al-Baidawi denied that S. 30:1-4 referred to the eventual Roman conquest of Persia. Rather, I quoted al-Baidawi to affirm that there were extant variant readings that changed the entire meaning of the text. Here again is what I wrote, this time with added emphasis:

The original Quranic text had no vowel marks. Thus, the Arabic word Sayaghlibuna, "they shall defeat," COULD EASILY HAVE BEEN RENDERED, with the change of two vowels, Sayughlabuna, "THEY (i.e. Romans) SHALL BE DEFEATED." Since vowel points were not added until some time after this event, it could have been quite possible for a scribe to deliberately tamper with the text, forcing it to become a prophetic statement.
This fact is solidified by Muslim commentator al-Baidawi ...

THIS BEING THE CASE, a Muslim cannot confidently tell us what the true reading of the text is and hence cannot insure us THAT THIS VERSE ORIGINALLY PREDICTED THE BYZANTINE VICTORY OVER THE PERSIANS. Yet either rendering leaves us with a false prophecy within the Quran.

It is clear from the context that I was quoting al-Baidawi to prove that the Arabic text COULD be read in one of two ways. Since al-Baidawi also affirms that there ACTUALLY EXISTED two variant readings, the burden of proof is upon the Muslim to establish that early scribes didn’t change the original meaning of the text to support the claim that the Quran contains prophecies.

The author next tries to defend the prophecy by appealing to the following methodology:

Concerning the last comment about Muslims unable to be confident about the accurate recitation, conditions were formulated by the scholars of the Qur'anic recitation to facilitate critical analysis of the recitations. For any given recitation to be accepted as authentic (Sahih), it had to fulfill three conditions and if any of the conditions were missing such a recitation was classified as Shdhdh (unusual).

The first condition was that the recitation has an authentic chain of narration in which the chain of narrators was continuous, the narrators were all known to be righteous and they were all known to possess good memories. It was also required that the recitation be conveyed by a large number of narrators on each level of the chain of narration below the level of Sahaabah (the condition of Tawaatur). Narrations which had authentic chains but lacked the condition of Tawaatur were accepted as explanations (Tafseer) of the Sahaabah but were not considered as methods of reciting the Qur'an. As for the narrations which did not even have an authentic chain of narration, they were classified as Baatil (false) and rejected totally.

The second condition was that the variations in recitations match known Arabic grammatical constructions. Unusual constructions could be verified by their existence in passages of pre-Islamic prose or poetry.

The third condition required the recitation to coincide with the script of one of the copies of the Qur'an distributed during the era of Caliph ‘Uthmn. Hence differences which result from dot placement (i.e., ta'lamoon and ya'lamoon) are considered acceptable provided the other conditions are met. A recitation of a construction for which no evidence could be found would be classified Shaadhdh. This classification did not mean that all aspects of the recitation was considered Shaadhdh. it only meant that the unverified constructions were considered Shaadhdh.(1)

This being the case, we can confidently say that the authentic recitation is the one universally accepted by all Muslim scholars and in perfect harmony with authentic Islamic traditions.

RESPONSE

The author begs the question since he assumes what he has yet to prove. He first assumes that the method of authentication is sound and can therefore be trusted. Yet this entails the use of circular reasoning since the only way to verify the reliability of the chain of transmission [isnad] is to examine the text [matn] in which it is contained. Yet the only way to know whether the text is sound is by the very chain contained within it. Therefore, one proves the chain by the text and then proves the text by its chain! This is a classic textbook example of circular reasoning.

Furthermore, even if one were to take for granted the reliability of this method we are still left with problems. The official Sunni Muslims traditions affirm that the Uthmanic Quran was not the best recension nor was it accepted by all. These sources also affirm that the present day Quran is incomplete.

The following Shiite author admits this fact:

Some Sunni Reports on the Incompleteness of Quran

There are some traditions in Sihah Sittah (six authentic Sunni collections) which are not accepted by Shia scholars. Among them, some are talking about the changes made in Quran * after * the death of the Prophet. As I will show, in some Sunnis report 345 verses, two chapters of Quran (one of which is was as much as ch.9 in length) are missing from Quran. Here I give you some references in Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, and other important collections which falsely allege that Quran is incomplete… (source; bold and capital emphasis ours)

The following examples are taken and modified from the preceding Shiite link:

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Sahih Muslim

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Muslim in the Seventh (7th part of his Sahih, in the book of Al Zakat about the virtue of being satisfied with what ever God gives about urging people to have that virtue, pp 139-140 (Arabic), reported that Abu al-Aswad reported that his father said:

(For English version of Sahih Muslim see)*

(Chapter CCCXCI, p500, Tradition #2286)

Abu Musa al-Ashari invited the Quran readers of Basra. Three hundred (300) readers responded to his invitation. He told them

You are the readers and the choice of the People of Basra. Recite the Quran and don't neglect it. Other wise a long time may elapse and your hearts will be hardened as the hearts of those who came before you were hardened.

We used to read a Chapter from the Quran similar to Bara'ah in length and seriousness, but I forgot it. I can remember from the Chapter only the following words: Should a son of Adam own two valleys full of wealth, he should seek a third valley and nothing would fill Ibn Adam's abdomen but the soil.

We also used to read a chapter similar to the Musabbihat and I forgot it. I only remember out of it the following:

"Oh you who believe, why do you say what you do not do? (which is in another place in Quran 61:2) Thus a testimony shall be written on your necks and you will be questioned about it on the day of judgment." (which is a little different than what is in another place in Quran 17:13)

It is obvious that the above underlined words which Abu Musa mentioned are not from the Quran nor are they similar to any of the Words of God in the Quran. It is amazing that Abu Musa claims that two (2) chapters from the Quran are missing, one of them is similar to Bara’ah in length!!!… (bold emphasis ours)

Umar [reportedly] Said Chapter 33 Is Incomplete:

al-Muttaqi Ali Ibn Husam al-Din in his book (Mukhtasar Kanz al-Ummal, printed on the margin of Imam Ahmed's Musnad, v2, p2) in his Hadith about chapter 33, that said Ibn Mardawayh reported that Huthaifah said:

Umar said to me: How many verses are contained in the Chapter al-Ahzab? I said 72 (seventy two) or 73 (seventy three) verses. He said: It was almost as long as the chapter of the Cow, which contains 287 (two eighty seven) verses, and in it there was the verse of stoning.

If we take the report of Ibn Mardawayh which Huthaifah attributed to Umar in which he said that the Chapter of al-Ahzab, which contained 72 (Seventy two) verses, was as long as the Chapter of the Cow (containing 287) and take the report of Abu Musa which says that a chapter equal in length to the Chapter of Bara'ah (contains 130) was deleted from the Quran, then the deletion in the Quran according to these reports would be 345 Verses. (bold emphasis ours)

Finally,

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Sahih al-Bukhari Hadith: 5.105:

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Narrated Alqama:

I went to Sham and was offering a two-Rak'at prayer; I said, "O Allah! Bless me with a (pious) companion." Then I saw an old man coming towards me, and when he came near I said, (to myself), "I hope Allah has given me my request." The man asked (me), "Where are you from?" I replied, "I am from the people of Kufa." He said, "Weren't there amongst you the Carrier of the (Prophet's) shoes, Siwak and the ablution water container? Weren't there amongst you the man who was given Allah's Refuge from the Satan? And weren't there amongst you the man who used to keep the (Prophet's) secrets which nobody else knew? How did Ibn Um 'Abd (i.e. 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud) use to recite Surat al-Layl (The Night; ch. 92)?" I recited:--

"By the Night as it envelops By the Day as it appears in brightness. And by male and female." (92.1-3) On that, Abu Darda said, "By Allah, the Prophet made me read the Verse in this way after listening to him, but these people (of Sham) tried their best to let me say something different."

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Comments:

Please read the Verse itself. It is By Him Who created male and the female.' (92:3)

Do you see the word "Him who created" in that aayah?

If no, please verify the Quran that you have.

If yes, please tell us that these words are added to Quran or not?

As you see, what is written in the parentheses is missing in the Hadith while it is in the Quran.

Do you think that the aayah is abrogated? If yes, please define the word "abrogation " for us.

{Abrogation is to delete something from Quran by the order of the prophet himself. For example, there is a rule for a while, then the prophet brings God's order that the rule is extended and the previous rule is not acceptable any more. Therefore, the previous rule is abrogated. Now, do you think that "Him who created" is abrogated? If yes, tell us what you understand from abrogation. Since these words are added, there is no room for abrogation here. If something were deleted, you could say that. Here, nothing is deleted from the present Quran. Something is added already based on these traditions.}

Do you think that these words were explanatory words?

Your answer: Yes, they were:

Please tell us if the narrators of these traditions knew what is aayah and what is explanatory (commentary) statement?

These narrators say that the people of their time did not recite their way, however, THEY WILL NOT CHANGE ANYTHING, and THEY WILL CONTINUE RECITING QURAN THAT WAY.

In addition, the commentary statements is not inside the Quran itself. It is in tafsir. However, present Quran contains these words "him who created" inside them. Now, please tell us that the present Quran contains the commentary words of Sahabah or not? (Source: this link)

Even more disturbing for the Muslims is that according to Sunni sources the two top Muslim reciters, Abdullah b. Masud and Ubayy b. Kabb, were in disagreement regarding the exact number of verses and chapters within the Quran.

Note the following Muslim traditions regarding Masud’s credentials as a compiler and memorizer of the Quran. The following is taken from Ibn Sa'ad's Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir Volume II, english translation by S. Moinul Haq, M.A., PH.D assisted by H.K. Ghazanfar M.A. (Kitab Bhavan Exporters & Importers, 1784 Kalan Mahal, Daryaganj, New Delhi- 110 002 India). All bold and capital emphasis ours:

Hashim Ibn al-Qasim informed us; (he said): al-Mas'udi informed us on the authority of Qasim, i.e., 'Abd al-Rahman; he said: Gabriel used to descend before the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, and he recited the Qur'an before him once every year [P. 4] in Ramadan, till the year when the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, died; when Gabriel made him recite the Qur'an twice. ‘Abd Allah said: I recited the Qur'an as I have it from the mouth of the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, that year. If I had known any one more well versed... in the Book of Allah than me and camels had borne me to him, surely I would have gone to him; but by Allah! I DO NOT KNOW ANY SUCH PERSON. (Ibid., p. 244)

Yahya Ibn Khulayf Ibn ‘Uqbah al-Basri informed us; (second chain) ‘Abd al-Wahhab Ibn ‘Ata informed us; he said: Ibn ‘Awn informed us on the authority of Muhammad ibn Sirin; he said: Gabriel used to recite the Qur'an before our Prophet, may Allah bless him, once every year in Ramadan. In the year in which he breathed his last he recited it twice before him. Muhammad said: I hope our style of reading... conforms to the last recitation by Gabriel. (Ibid., p. 243)

Abu Mu’awiyah al-Darir informed us; (he said): al-A’mash informed us on the authority of Abu Zabyan, he on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas, he asked: Which of the two readings (of the Qur'an) do you prefer? He (Abu Zabyan) said: We replied: The reading of ‘Abd Allah. Thereupon he said: Verily the Qur'an was recited (by Gabriel) before the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, once in every Ramadan, except the year in which he breathed his last, when it was recited twice. Then ‘Abd Allah Ibn Mas’ud came to him (Prophet) and he learnt what was abrogated or altered.

Yahya Ibn ‘isaal-Ramli informed us on authority of Sufyan, he on the authority of al-A’mash, he on the authority of Abu al-Duha, he on the authority of Masruq; he said: ‘Abd Allah said: No surah was revealed but I know about what it was revealed. If I had known any one knowing more of the Book of Allah than me, and if the camels or other riding beasts had carried me there, I must have gone to him...

Wahb Ibn Jarir Ibn Hazm informed us: (he said): Shu’bah informed us on the authority of Ibrahim Ibn Muhajir, he on the authority of Ibrahim, he on the authority of ‘Abd Allah; (second chain) Abu Nua’ym al-Fadl Ibn Dukayn informed us; (he said): Abu al-Ahwas informed us on the authority of Sa’id Ibn Masruq, he on the authority of Abu al-Duha, he on the authority of ‘Abd Allah; he said: The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, said to me: Recite (the Qur'an) before me. Thereupon I said: How can I repeat before you and it has been revealed on you. He said: I like it. Wahb said in his version: I desire to hear it from others. He (‘Abd Allah) said: I recited the surah of al-Nisa before him, till I reached the verse: But how (will it be with them) when We bring of every people and We bring thee (O Muhammad) a witness against them. Abu Nua’ym said in his version: Thereupon he said: It is enough. Both of them said: Then I saw him that the eyes of the Prophet, may Allah bless him, were filled tears, and he said: Whoever seeks pleasure in reciting the Qur'an according to its fresh reading he should recite after the reading of Ibn Umm 'Abd. (Ibid., pp. 441-442)

Waki ‘Ibn al-al-Jarrah informed us on the authority of Isma’il Ibn Khalid, he on the authority of Abu ‘Amr al-Shaybani; he said: Abu Musa al-Ash’ari said: Do not put questions to me as long as this learned man, that is Ibn Mas’ud, is among you. (Ibid., p. 443)

Ma’an Ibn ‘Isa informed us; (he said): Mu’awiyah Ibn Salih informed us on the authority of Asad Ibn Wada'ah: Verily ‘Umar mentioned Ibn Mas’ud and said: (He is) a box full of knowledge for which I honoured the people of al-Qadisiyah. (Ibid., p. 444)

The following traditions are from Sahih Al-Bukhari:

Narrated Masriq:

‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr mentioned ‘Abdullah bin Masud and said, "I shall ever love that man, for I heard the Prophet saying, ‘Take (learn) the Qur’an from four: ‘Abdullah bin Masud, Salim, Mu’adh and Ubai bin Ka'b.’" (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 61, Number 521)

Narrated ‘Abdullah (bin Mas’ud):

By Allah other than Whom none has the right to be worshipped! There is no Sura revealed in Allah’s Book but I know at what place it was revealed; and there is no Verse revealed in Allah's Book but I know about whom it was revealed. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 61, Number 524)

To summarize:

Ibn Masud was considered one of the most knowledgeable Muslims.

Ibn Masud recited the Quran before Muhammad after the latter had recited the Quran twice in the presence of Gabriel.

Ibn Masud personally learned from Muhammad all the abrogated and altered Quranic verses.

Ibn Masud claimed to know the reasons for the revelation of each surah.

Ibn Masud claimed that he knew of no one that was better versed in the Quran than he.

Muhammad told people to follow Ibn Masud’s reading of the Quran.

Yet in spite of all this Masud still felt he was not the best Quranic reciter:

Narrated Shaqiq bin Salama:

Once ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud delivered a sermon before us and said, "By Allah, I learnt over seventy Suras direct from Allah's Apostle. By Allah, the companions of the Prophet came to know that I am one of those who know Allah's Book best of all of them, yet I am not the best of them." Shaqiq added: I sat in his religious gathering and I did not hear anybody opposing him (in his speech). (Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 6, Book 61, Number 522)

The honor of being the best Quranic reciter went to Ubayy:

Affan ibn Muslim informed us… on the authority of Anas ibn Malik, he on the authority of the Prophet, may Allah bless him; he said: The best reader (of the Qur'an) among my people is Ubayy ibn Ka’b. (Ibn Sa’d, Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, Volume 2, p. 441)

Despite the credentials of these two men the Tradition states that they did not agree with each other over the exact extent of the Quran. For example, Ibn Masud refused to include Suras 1, 113 and 114 as part of his codex:

"Imam Fakhruddin said that the reports in some of the ancient books that Ibn Mas’ud denied that Suratul-Fatiha and the Mu'awwithatayni are part of the Qur’an are embarrassing in their implications… But the Qadi Abu Bakr said "It is not soundly reported from him that they are not part of the Qur’an and there is no record of such a statement from him. He omitted them from his manuscript as he did not approve of their being written. This does not mean he denied they were part of the Qur’an. In his view the Sunnah was that nothing should be inscribed in the text (mushaf) unless so commanded by the Prophet (saw)… and he had not heard that it had been so commanded". (As-Suyuti, Al-Itqan fii Ulum al-Qur'an, p.186)

"… Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani however, in his commentary on the Sahih of al-Bukhari (his famous Fath al-Baari), accepted these reports as sound, quoting authorities who stated that Ibn Mas’ud would not include the two ‘charm’ surahs in his manuscript as Muhammad had, to his knowledge, only commanded that they be used as incantations against evil forces. He regarded the isnad (the chain of transmitters) for this record as totally sound and attempted to harmonise the conflicting records instead, suggesting that Ibn Mas’ud accepted the Fatiha and ‘charm’ surahs as genuinely revealed but was reluctant to inscribe them in his written text." (John Gilchrist, Jam' Al-Qur'an: The Codification of the Qur'an Text, p. 68; bold emphasis ours)

Ubayy b. Kabb disagreed:

Narrated Zirr bin Hubaish:

I asked Ubai bin Ka’b, "O Abu AlMundhir! Your brother, Ibn Mas’ud said so-and-so (i.e., the two Mu'awwidh-at do not belong to the Quran)." Ubai said, "I asked Allah’s Apostle about them, and he said, ‘They have been revealed to me, and I have recited them (as a part of the Quran),’" So Ubai added, "So we say as Allah’s Apostle has said." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 501)

Interestingly not only did Kabb include these suras but included two additional suras as well:

"Written in the text of Ubayy ibn Ka’b were the Fatihal-kitab (the Opening Surah) and the Mu'awwi-thatayni (the Charm Surahs) and Allahumma innaa nasta'iinka (the opening words of Suratul-Khal’ meaning 'O Allah, we seek your help') and Allahumma ayyaaka na'budu (the opening words of Suratul-Hafd meaning ‘O Allah, we worship you’)". (as-Suyuti, Al-Itqan fii Ulum al-Qur'an by Jalaluddin Al-Suyuti, p.153)

Here are the Suras in their entirety:

Surat al-Hafd:

You (alone) we worship, and to You (alone) we pray and lie prostrate, and to You (alone) we proceed and have descendants. We fear Your torture and hope for Your mercy. Truly Your torture will overtake the infidels.

Surat al-Khal’:

O Allah, You (alone) we ask for help and forgiveness. We speak appreciatingly of Your goodness. Never do we disbelieve You. We repudiate and disbelieve anyone who follows immorality.

Al-Suyuti records that these two surahs were also included in both the codices of Ibn Abbas and Abu Musa. (Al-Itqan, p.154)

Kabb also recited verses not found today. The following tradition is taken from the Shiite link found above:

Also al-Hakim An-Nisaboori in his book "Al-Mustadrak" in the section of commentary on the Quran, part two, p224, reported that Ubai Ibn Kaab (whom the Prophet called the leader of al-ansar), said that the Messenger of God said to him:

Certainly the Almighty commanded me to read the Quran in front of you, and he read "The unbelievers from the people of the Book and the pagans will not change their way until they see the evidence. Those who disbelieve among the people of the scripture and the idolaters could not change until the clear proof came unto them. A Messenger from Allah, reading purified pages…" And of the very excellent part of it:

"Should Ibn Adam ask for a valley full of wealth and I grant it to him, he would ask for another valley. And if I grant him that, he would ask for a third valley. Nothing would fill the abdomen of Ibn Adam except the soil. God accepts the repentance of anyone who repents. The religion in the eyes of God is the Hanafiyah (Islam) rather than Yahudiyya (Judaism) or Nasraniya (Christianity). Whoever does good, his goodness will not be denied."

Sunni reference: al-Mustadrak by al-Hakim, section of commentary on the Quran, v2, p224

Al-Hakim wrote: This is an authentic Hadith. al-Dhahabi also considered it authentic in his commentary (on al-Mustadrak). al-Hakim reported that Obei Ibn Kabb used to read:

"Those who disbelieved had set up in their hearts the zealotry of the age of ignorance; and if you had had a similar zealotry, the Sacred Mosque would have been corrupted, and God [would have] brought down His peace of reassurance upon His Messenger"

When al-Hakim said this is authentic according to the standards of the two sheikhs (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)!!! and when al-Dhahabi also considered it authentic in his Commentary on al-Mustadrak, v2, pp 225-226, and when Muslim report similar to this from Abu Musa Ash'ari which I mentioned earlier, then what will be the conclusion? (bold emphasis ours)

Additional proof for Masud’s assertion that Surah Al-Fatiha (Chapter 1) should not be included as part of the text of the Quran comes from both the Quran and the Hadith:

"And We have bestowed upon thee the Seven Oft-Repeated (verses) AND the Grand Qur’an." S. 15:87

This passage distinguishes the seven oft-repeated verses (i.e. Fatiha) from the Quran itself.

Malik’s Muwatta Book 3, Number 3.9.39:

Yahya related to me from Malik from al-Ala ibn Abd ar-Rahman ibn Yaqub that Abu Said, the mawla of Amir ibn Kuraz told him that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, called toUbayy ibn Kab while he was praying. When Ubayy had finished his prayer he joined the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the Messenger of Allah put his hand upon his hand, and he was intending to leave by the door of the mosque, so the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "I hope that you will not leave the mosque until you know a sura whose like Allah has not sent down in the Tawrah nor in the Injil NOR IN THE QUR’AN." Ubayy said, "I began to slow down my pace in the hope of that. Then I said, ‘Messenger of Allah, the sura you promised me!’ He said, ‘What do you recite when you begin the prayer? I recited the Fatiha (Sura 1) until I came to the end of it, and the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘It is this sura, and it is the "seven oft-repeated" and the Great Qur'an which I was given.’" (source.)

This clearly affirms that the Fatiha is not part of the text.

The Sunni traditions also record that there were disagreements regarding the arrangement of the Quran:

Narrated Uthman ibn Affan:

Yazid al-Farisi said: I heard Ibn Abbas say: I asked Uthman ibn Affan: What moved you to put the (Surah) al-Bara’ah which belongs to the mi’in (surahs) (containing one hundred verses) and the (Surah) al-Anfal which belongs to the mathani (Surahs) in the category of as-sab’u at-tiwal (the first long surah or chapters of the Qur’an), and you did not write "In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful" between them?

Uthman replied: When the verses of the Qur’an were revealed to the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him), he called someone to write them down for him and said to him: Put this verse in the surah in which such and such has been mentioned; and when one or two verses were revealed, he used to say similarly (regarding them). (Surah) al-Anfal is the first surah that was revealed at Medina, and (Surah) al-Bara’ah was revealed last in the Qur'an, and its contents were similar to those of al-Anfal. I, therefore, thought that it was a part of al-Anfal. Hence I put them in the category of as-sab’u at-tiwal (the seven lengthy surahs), and I did not write "In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful" between them. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 3, Number 0785)

Narrated Yusuf bin Mahk:
While I was with Aisha, the mother of the Believers, a person from Iraq came and asked, "What type of shroud is the best?" ‘Aisha said, "May Allah be merciful to you! What does it matter?" He said, "O mother of the Believers! Show me (the copy of) your Qur’an," She said, "Why?" He said, "In order to compile and arrange the Qur'an according to it, for people recite it with its Suras not in proper order." ‘Aisha said, "What does it matter which part of it you read first? (Be informed) that the first thing that was revealed thereof was a Sura from Al-Mufassal, and in it was mentioned Paradise and the Fire. When the people embraced Islam, the Verses regarding legal and illegal things were revealed. If the first thing to be revealed was: ‘Do not drink alcoholic drinks.’ People would have said, ‘We will never leave alcoholic drinks,’ and if there had been revealed, ‘Do not commit illegal sexual intercourse,’ they would have said, ‘We will never give up illegal sexual intercourse.’ While I was a young girl of playing age, the following Verse was revealed in Mecca to Muhammad: ‘Nay! But the Hour is their appointed time (for their full recompense), and the Hour will be more grievous and more bitter.’ (54.46) Sura Al-Baqara (The Cow) and Surat An-Nisa (The Women) were revealed while I was with him." Then ‘Aisha took out the copy of the Qur’an for the man and dictated to him the Verses of the Suras (in their proper order). (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 61, Number 515)

Thirdly, since al-Baidawi’s statement was made long after the standardization of the Uthmanic text, this essentially establishes my point. It establishes the fact that even after Uthman there was no unanimous reading on every single Quranic passage. Al-Baidawi’s statement demonstrates that the extant copies of the Quran contained disputed readings.

In light of the preceding evidence, the author’s claim above that the oral and written transmission of the Qur’an "is identical" and that this "thus excludes any charge of tampering" is an outright lie.

The author introduces the following irrelevant discussion:

Before moving on I’d like to make a little comment on Pfander, a 19th century leader of the Christian missionaries to India while it was under the occupation of the British, who is quoted by Mr. Shamoun not realizing that during his lifetime his book was refuted in detail by a number of Muslim scholars such as Al-Kairanvi Al-Hindi in his book "Izhar ul Haqq" which has been translated into English and is widely available today.
Pfander was invited to a five day public debate in Calcutta India with Al-Kairanvi which has been preserved for posterity in the Indian archives. The debate was originally scheduled to continue for five days and to discuss five different topics (tampering, abrogation, the Trinity, the origins of the Qur'an, and the prophethood of Muhammad, peace be upon him). However, after only two days, the day the issue of the Trinity was to be discussed, Pfander withdrew from this public debate refusing to continue. Al-Kairanvi was subsequently so severely persecuted by the occupying British forces that he was forced to flee the country. This is how such men managed to 'prove' their case and these are the sorts of men whom people regard as champions of Islam bashing and quoted by many authors.

RESPONSE

The author chooses to introduce a red herring. It is irrelevant to our discussion that Pfander was challenged to a five-day debate and didn’t fare too well, or that he withdrew from this public debate after the second day. What is relevant is if Pfander was correct in his quotation of al-Baidaiwi. The evidence shows that he was.

Furthermore, the author fails to mention that Izhar ul Haqq has been refuted. Light of Life publishers (A-9503 Villach, Austria - P.O. BOX 13) has published a five-part series in English titled The True Guidance. These series of books directly respond to Al-Kairanvi as well as to a Muslim work titled al-Sayf al-Hamidi al-Saqil [The Furbished Hamidi Sword]. This five-part series is highly recommended and thoroughly addresses all of Al-Kairanvi’s false claims.

(Note- The Arabic Version of the True Guidance is actually more than five parts and can be ordered from the publishers)

Continuing further, the author writes:

Mr. Shamoun wrote

It amazes us that a prophecy from God would not specify the exact time of the victory, seeing that God is all-knowing and all-wise, declaring the end from the beginning. When God specifies a time frame as an important part of a prophecy we would expect that it be precise, not a mere guess. For God to guess that the Byzantines would win at some time within "a few years" as opposed to specifying the exact year, is inconsistent with the belief in an Omniscient, Omnipotent Being. Hence, it is unlikely that the true God would actually make such a prophecy.

There is no single biblical prophecy that speaks of any time range, let alone a specific date. Does this mean that they are inconsistent with the belief in an Omniscient, Omnipotent Being?
This desperate polemic does not even deserve an answer. But saying that the Roman victory was to come within 3-9 years is very effective against any unnecessary rhetoric because some people follow the lunar calendar and some follow the solar calendar. Also, people have different ways of calculation and approximation, e.g. 3 years and 6 months are considered as 3 years by some and as 4 years by some.

RESPONSE:

It is sad to see that instead of dealing with my arguments the author continues to attack a straw man. My point was pretty clear, but seemingly the author didn’t get it. Here it is again, this time with added emphasis:

It amazes us that a prophecy from God would not specify the exact time of the victory, seeing that God is all-knowing and all-wise, declaring the end from the beginning. WHEN GOD SPECIFIES A TIME FRAME AS AN IMPORTANT PART OF PROPHECY WE WOULD EXPECT THAT IT BE PRECISE, NOT A MERE GUESS. FOR GOD TO GUESS THAT THE BYZANTINES WOULD WIN AT SOME TIME WITHIN "A FEW YEARS" AS OPPOSED TO SPECIFYING THE EXACT YEAR, is inconsistent with the belief in an Omniscient, Omnipotent Being. Hence, it is unlikely that the true God would actually make such a prophecy.

Allah is supposedly predicting that the Romans will be victorious over the Persians. Within this alleged prediction Allah chooses to give the time these events would occur. Since Allah chose to specify the time, why couldn’t Allah tell us the exact number of years these events would come to pass? Why did Allah simply say that these events would take place within "a few years? The phrase "a few years" is something we would expect a finite imperfect being to say, not an omniscient Being.

The author only begs the question and ends up proving my point when arguing,

But saying that the Roman victory was to come within 3-9 years is very effective against any unnecessary rhetoric because some people follow the lunar calendar and some follow the solar calendar. Also, people have different ways of calculation and approximation, e.g. 3 years and 6 months are considered as 3 years by some and as 4 years by some.

It might be true that some people follow different calendars, and it might also be true that 3-9 years may be effective from a human standpoint. But since we are not talking about the imprecise nature of human calculation, and since the author believes that Allah is truly all knowing then his argument fails to support his case. If Allah is going to give a time frame then he should be able to specify the exact time, day, year and even hour that the "prophecy" would come to pass since he is not subject to human imprecision. Had Allah given the exact time then there would have been no debate as to the time specified within the Quran.

That all Allah could do was only guess that it would take place within "a few years" proves that Allah is not all knowing. Add the fact that the alleged prophecy didn’t come to pass even within the 3-9 years stipulated by the Quran, and we end up with Allah not being God.

In fact, the expression "a few years" led to the embarrassment of some of the Muslims. Ibn Kathir notes:

He [Ibn Abbas] said, "They were defeated and then they were victorious." He said, "The idolators wanted the Persians to prevail over the Romans, because they were idol worshipers, and the Muslims wanted the Romans to prevail over the Persians, because they were People of the Book. This was mentioned to Abu Bakr who mentioned it to the Messenger of Allah. The Messenger of Allah said…

((They will prevail.))

Abu Bakr mentioned this to the idolators, and they said, "Set a time limit for that, and if we prevail, we will get such and such; and if you prevail, you will get such and such." So he set A LIMIT OF FIVE YEARS, AND THEY (THE ROMANS) DID NOT PREVAIL. Abu Bakr mentioned that to the Messenger of Allah and he said...

((Why did you not make it less than))

[I (the narrator) think he meant less than ten]. Sa’id bin Jubayr said: "Bid’ means less than ten." Then the Romans were victorious…

Abu ‘Isa At-Tirmidhi recorded that Niyar bin Mukram Al-Aslami said: "When the following Ayat were revealed…

<Alif Lam Mim. The Romans have been defeated. In the nearest land, and they, after their defeat, will be victorious. In Bid’ years.>

on the day they were revealed, the Persians were prevailing over the Romans. The Muslims wanted the Romans to prevail over them (the Persians), because they were both people who followed a Book. Concerning this Allah said…

<And on that day, the believers will rejoice- with the help of Allah. He helps whom he wills, and He is the All-Mighty, the Most Merciful.>

The Quraysh, on the other hand, wanted the Persians to prevail, neither of them were people who followed a Book and neither of them believed in the Resurrection. When Allah revealed these Ayat, Abu Bakr went out proclaiming throughout Makkah…

< Alif Lam Mim. The Romans have been defeated. In the nearest land, and they, after their defeat, will be victorious. In Bid’ years.>

Some of the Quraysh said to Abu Bakr: ‘This is (a bet) between us and you. Your companion claims that the Romans will defeat the Persians within three to nine years, so why not have a bet between us and you?’ Abu Bakr said, ‘Yes.’ This was before betting had been forbidden. So, Abu Bakr and the idolators made a bet, and they said to Abu Bakr: ‘What do you think, Bid’ means something between three and nine years. So let us agree on the middle.’ So they agreed on six years. Then six years passed without the Romans being victorious, so the idolators took what had bet with Abu Bakr. When the seventh year came and the Romans were finally victorious over the Persians, the Muslims REBUKED Abu Bakr for agreeing on six years. He said: ‘BECAUSE ALLAH SAID: "In Bid’ years."’ At that time many people became Muslims." (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Volume 7 Surat An-Nur to Surat Al-Ahzab, Verse 50, abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, London, Lahore; first edition August 2000], pp. 518-520; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Ibn Kathir’s comments clearly highlight the embarrassment the expression "a few years" turned out to be even for the Muslims. The imprecision of the phrase led Abu Bakr to make a bet that the prophecy would be fulfilled within five-six years. Abu Bakr lost the bet. Muhammad and the others stepped in and corrected him only after the event didn’t transpire within the five-six year period. This implies that Abu Bakr was only corrected to save face in the eyes of the pagans.

All this could have been prevented had Allah given the exact time in the first place, as opposed to giving a vague time frame that ended up embarrassing the Muslims.

Thus far my point has not been refuted. Instead the author chose to misrepresent my point. This has been his habit throughout his alleged rebuttal.

Mr. Shamoun wrote

Interestingly, the phrase "a few years" serves to further discredit this alleged prophecy. Abu Bakr believed the term "a few years" meant that the Byzantines were going to win in three years:

"This passage refers to the defeat of the Byzantines in Syria by the Persians under Khusran Parvis. (A.D. 615 - 6 years before the Hegira). However, the defeat of the Persians should take place soon 'in a small number of years'. In the light of this prediction, Abu-Bakr undertook a bet with Ubai-ibn-Khalaf that this prediction would be fulfilled within three years, but he was corrected by Mohammed who stated that the 'small number' is between three and nine years (Al-Baizawi). Muslims tell us that the Byzantines overcame their enemies within seven years. The fact, however, is that the Byzantines defeated Persia in A.D. 628 (Al-Baizawi commentary). That was twelve years after the prediction of Mohammed. Consequently this passage does not qualify as a prophecy, particularly as the time between prophecy and fulfilment was far too short, and in addition the event was easily predictable." (Gerhard Nehls, Christians Ask Muslims [Life Challenge, SIM International; Africa, 1992], pp. 70-71)

Al-Baidawi’s commentary states that the prophecy was fulfilled exactly as the Qur’an predicted (page 534) and added "This is one of sign of prophethood because it is a prophecy". This flaw committed by Shamoun and his quoted authors is called ‘misquoting authorities’. Moreover, history records that Romans defeated the Persians in 622 A.D. and Islamic traditions confirm this historical fact.

RESPONSE:

As we have seen the prophecy failed to materialize. Both Muslim and secular sources affirm this fact. Therefore, it is irrelevant whether al-Baidawi believed that this prophecy "is one of the signs of prophethood" since it proves the exact opposite. It proves that Muhammad was a false prophet. And the only "misquoting of authorities" is that committed by the author.

The author concludes with:

In the end of this section, we observe that Shamoun’s approach toward this particular prophecy is characterized with much wiggling, squirming and excessive misquoting of authorities. If Mr. Shamoun believed he had a good case, he would never resort to such techniques. Many charges were directed from Muslims fabricating prophecy to the event being easily predictable. This indicates that their argument is merely based on guesswork of "how this prophecy can be false".

RESPONSE:

Let me reword the author’s last paragraph:

In the end of this section, we observe that the author’s approach toward this particular prophecy is characterized with much wiggling, squirming and excessive misquoting of authorities. If the author believed he had a good case, he would never resort to such techniques. The author accused me of leveling charges such as the claim that Muslims fabricated this prophecy without refuting my evidence. The author also has to deny that this event was easily predictable; yet even with its predictability Muhammad failed to get it right. This indicates that the Muslim argument is merely based on guesswork of "how this prophecy was fulfilled" since the evidence conclusively proves that it failed to transpire in the way the Quran said it would.

This concludes our rebuttal. And by the grace of our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we will be following up with more rebuttals soon.

Addendum

We quoted Ibn Kathir’s comment regarding the embarrassment the expression "a few years" caused the Muslims. In the quotation, Ibn Kathir claims that the prophecy was fulfilled in the seventh year:

"…When the seventh year came and the Romans were finally victorious over the Persians ..."

Lest someone think that this statement refutes my argument notice the following conflicting report cited by Ibn Kathir:

"That was a great day for the Christians. Chosroes and his army remained in a state of confusion, not knowing what they were doing. They had not been able to conquer the land of Caesar, and their own land was devastated by the Romans, who seized their wealth, and captured their women and children. This was how the Romans defeated the Persians, and this happened NINE YEARS after the Persians defeated the Romans. This conflict between the Persians and the Romans continued until the Romans prevailed between Adhru’at (Ash-Sham) and Busra, according to what was stated by Ibn ‘Abbas, ‘Ikrimah and others. This is a place on the edge of Ash-Sham, along the border with Al-Hijaz. Mujahid said, ‘That was a place in the Arabian Peninsula which is closer to the land of the Romans than to Persia.’ And Allah knows best. (Ibid., p. 524; bold emphasis ours)

Several comments are in order. First, notice the contradiction in the reports. One says it took seven years, the other says nine. The hadiths are notorious for these kind of historical errors and embellishments as this article shows.

Second, earlier the author denied that this prophecy referred to the Roman conquest of Persia:

"... The title of "On the Roman Conquest of Persia" is deceptive ..."

Yet Ibn Kathir says that the prophecy was only fulfilled when the Romans devastated Persia, seized their wealth and took their women and children! If this wasn’t a conquest then I don’t know what is!

Third, secular records do not support Ibn Kathir’s claim that the Romans conquered Persia nine years after their defeat in 614-615. According to Britannica, this conquest occurred in 628 AD:

"... Heraclius again invaded Persia and in December 627, after a march across the Armenian highlands into the Tigris plain, met the Persians near the ruins of Nineveh. There, astride his renowned war-horse, he killed three Persian generals in single combat, charged into enemy ranks at the head of his troops, killed the Persian commander, and scattered the Persian host.

A month later, Heraclius entered Dastagird with its stupendous treasure ..."

And:

"... Constantinople held, and Shahin was defeated: the Persian second force was outmanoevred in 628 by Heraclius’ brave dash to Dastagird, the royal residence 70 miles (113 kilometres) north of Ctesiphon. An important but indecisive battle was fought near Nineveh, but, as the Byzantine army reapproached Dastagird, Khosrow fled ..."

This means that Muslims fabricated history in order to have Heraclius’ victory coincide with the victory at Badr as well as fall within the time frame stipulated within the Quran.

In light of preceding evidence, we see that far from refuting my point the author only helped solidify the major problems that the "alleged" prophecy poses for the Muslims.

This ends Part 2. Continue with Part 3.


Articles by Sam Shamoun
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