Sam Shamoun's response to

Alleged Mistakes in the Qur'an...Part 2

by the Learner

Sam Shamoun

In the following I will discuss Moiz Amjad's attempted rebuttal to my initial answer to his response to my original article. Mr. Amjad's response can be accessed here.

For the sake of clarity, we recommend that our readers first read my initial response found here.

Mr. Amjad begins:

John the Baptist
The First point, which Mr. Shamoun has covered relates to my explanation of Maryam 19: 7. Regarding this verse, Mr. Shamoun had initially objected that although the Qur'an says that no one before John the Baptist was given the name ‘John’, yet there are a number of references in the Bible of that name, even before John the Baptist. In response to this objection, I had written that even if the referred verse of the Qur'an is literally taken to imply the uniqueness of the name ‘John’, it does not say that there was no one by the name of 'John', before the Baptist, but actually states that God did not give that name to anyone before the Baptist. Mr. Shamoun, however, considers this to be an illogical explanation. He writes:

The Learner thinks that this response is sufficient in rebutting my original argument but in actuality it fails to do so. The Learner begs the question by suggesting that I need to show where God named someone else John. Yet, this assumes what the Learner has yet to prove. This assumes that God is the author of the Quran and therefore entails circular reasoning on the part of the Learner. The fact is that I do not believe that the Quran is the word of God and hence do not need to show where God named someone else John since it is not God who is speaking.

Hence, in its attempt to rebut my point the Learner engages in circular reasoning, assuming what it has yet to prove.

I did not intend that Mr. Shamoun should 'assume' that God has written the Qur'an and thereby engage in ‘circular’ reasoning. I only implied that in the referred verse, the 'alleged' author of the Qur'an - which, according to the Muslim belief is God - has declared that 'He' did not name anyone 'John', before the Baptist. In other words, this verse of the Qur'an 'alleges' that God did not name anyone 'John', before the Baptist. All that Mr. Shamoun has to do now, to refute this claim of the Qur'an - without 'even making the 'hazardous assumption' of taking God as the author of the Qur'an - is to give a reference where God has, in fact, named someone 'John', before the Baptist.

RESPONSE:

Mr. Amjad again commits the fallacy of begging the question. He states that he did not intend that I should assume that God had written the Quran. If that is the case, then why does Mr. Amjad again ask me to produce a reference where God named someone else John? The fact is that this verse is an actual indication that God did not author the Quran since John's name in Arabic is not Yahya, but rather Yuhanna.

Interestingly, the team at Islamic Awareness has actually identified the origin of the Arabic name Yahya. According to their research the name comes from a group that flourished during the fifth century, and who claimed to be followers of John the Baptist called the Mandeans. The team sets out to prove that Yahya has no connection to the name Yuhanna. Notice the following claim:

The fact is that the Arabic equivalent of John of the New Testament IS YUHANNA NOT YAHYA. And similarly, the Arabic equivalent of John of the Hebrew Bible IS YUHANNAN NOT YAHYA. Anyone who possesses A BASIC KNOWLEDGE OF SEMITIC LANGUAGES will straight away point out that the names Yahy‚ and John (YŻhanan or YŻhann‚) ARE TWO ENTIRELY DIFFERENT NAMES. ONE DO [sic] NOT NEED TO BE AN EXPERT IN SEMITIC LANGUAGES TO VERIFY THIS CLAIM; a simple Arabic translation of the Bible will suffice. (Source; capital emphasis ours)

In light of the above, it becomes quite impossible for anyone to show where God named someone else Yahya, since Yahya is not John's real name!

What Mr. Amjad must do is provide corroborating evidence from contemporary sources showing that John's name was Yahya. Both the New Testament documents as well as extra-biblical literature tell us that his name is John, which in Hebrew is Yuhannan/Yowchannan and in Greek is Ioannes. Notice the name given to the Baptist in both the New Testament and by the first century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus:

"But the angel said to him: ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John (Ioannen).’" Luke 1:13

"On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, No! He is to be called John (Ioannes).’ They said to her, ‘There is no one among your relatives who has that name.’ Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone's astonishment he wrote, ‘His name is John (Ioannes).’" Luke 1:59-63

Antiquities 18.5.2 116-119

Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God, and was a very just punishment for what he did against John (Ioannou) called the baptist [the dipper]. For Herod had him killed, although he was a good man and had urged the Jews to exert themselves to virtue, both as to justice toward one another and reverence towards God, and having done so join together in washing. For immersion in water, it was clear to him, could not be used for the forgiveness of sins, but as a sanctification of the body, and only if the soul was already thoroughly purified by right actions. And when others massed about him, for they were very greatly moved by his words, Herod, who feared that such strong influence over the people might carry to a revolt -- for they seemed ready to do any thing he should advise -- believed it much better to move now than later have it raise a rebellion and engage him in actions he would regret. And so John, out of Herod's suspiciousness, was sent in chains to Machaerus, the fort previously mentioned, and there put to death; but it was the opinion of the Jews that out of retribution for John God willed the destruction of the army so as to afflict Herod. (Source.)

Ioannes is also the Greek OT Septuagint rendering of the Hebrew Yuhannan/Yowchannan, as the following examples demonstrate:

"And the sons of Josias; the firstborn Joanan (‘Ioanan), the second Joakim, the third Sedekias, the fourth Salum... And the sons of Elithenan; Odolia, and Heliasebon, and Phadaia, and Akub, and Joanan (‘Ioanan), and Dalaaia, and Anan, seven." 1 Chronicles 3:1, 24

"and Achimaas begot Azarias, and Azarias begot Joanan (‘Ioanan); and Joanan (‘Ioanan) begot Azarias: he ministered as priest in the house which Solomon built in Jerusalem." 1 Chronicles 6:9-10

And of the sons of Asgad; Joanan (‘Ioanan) the son of Accatan, and with him a hundred and ten males." Ezra 3:12

In light of this, the burden of proof doesn't rest upon me to show where God named someone else Yahya, since God would have never given a first century Israeli Jew the name Yahya. Rather, the burden of proof rests upon Mr. Amjad to show that God actually named the Baptist Yahya as opposed to John. Until he does, this will serve as conclusive proof that the Quran is not the word of God.

(Note- For a complete refutation of the claims of Islamic Awareness we recommend the following articles: [1] and [2])

After quoting my response to his attempt of evading the similarities between John and Elijah, Mr. Amjad states:

I had absolutely no intention of 'suggesting' that Jesus' (pbuh) referred statement nullifies the fact that John and Elijah are absolutely unique and incomparable. All that I had 'implied' was that John's (pbuh) greatness - from whichever aspect it may have been - is also referred by Jesus (pbuh). The reader should also keep in mind that the referred verse of the Qur'an does not imply that John (pbuh) was unique and incomparable in absolute terms, it only implies that John (pbuh) was incomparable to others from a particular aspect.

I, therefore, agree with Mr. Shamoun's point that John (pbuh) could be similar to Elijah from one aspect and yet be different and unique from another aspect. This, in fact, is the implication of the referred verse of the Qur'an.

RESPONSE:

Let us quote from Mr. Amjad's first response to see if this is all that he ‘implied’:

The above verses do indeed point to the fact that John was the awaited Elijah, which also implies that he was (at least in some ways) like Elijah. Nevertheless, it may be of some interest for the readers to note that according to the same Bible, when John – i.e. Yahya (pbuh) – was himself asked by the Israelites whether he was the promised Elijah, he replied in the negative ...

In view of the contradictory implication of the cited statements of the Gospels, Mr. Shamoun's contention (that Elijah was ‘exactly’ like John) requires substantiation on sounder grounds. This substantiation would become even more imperative in view of the fact that Jesus (pbuh) is himself reported in one of the Gospels to have said something quite similar in its implication to the Qur'anic statement (i.e. "Before this, we made no one comparable to him [i.e. John]"). Matthew 11: 11 reports Jesus (pbuh) as having said ...

Since the Learner asked for further substantiation in light of what he perceived to be a "contradiction", I obliged and showed that Elijah is like John in one particular sense, since John came "in the spirit and power of Elijah." Jesus even calls the Baptist Elijah! (Cf. Luke 1:17; Matthew 17:12-13)

This means that the claim that "name"/samiyy implies that no one was like the Baptist does not solve the contradiction. As I had shown, there are OT parallels relating to John's name, manner of birth, and prophetic ministry. To then argue that "name" implies that no one was quite like John from a particular aspect still doesn't solve the problem, since this can be said about every prophet and messenger. Hence, if this is all that the Quran implies then this is rather a very poor explanation. Interestingly, Mr. Amjad doesn't tell us what particular aspect of John makes him unlike anyone else.

Mr. Amjad next responds to my disappointment with his misinterpretation of Matthew 5:17:

We are actually disappointed to see Jesus' statements wrenched out of their immediate context since Jesus was not commenting on sacrifices as something binding upon his disciples.

I never implied, through this reference, that Jesus (pbuh) was commenting on sacrifices. My reference to Jesus' cited saying was only to establish that Jesus did not alter the directives entailed in the Mosaic Law (which included sacrifice). This reference is clearly not out of context, though Mr. Shamoun has all the right to disagree with it.

RESPONSE:

One wonders if Mr. Amjad's point wasn't to demonstrate that Jesus in this passage was imposing sacrifices upon his followers, then why even appeal to Matthew 5:17 in the first place? Mr. Amjad must have forgotten what he has written elsewhere:

The position of the Christian creed, with reference to the Mosaic Law was no different from the Jews themselves. Jesus (pbuh) in his legendary 'Sermon on the Mount' declares:

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5: 17 - 19)

This express confirmation of the Mosaic Law and the commandments entailed in the Books of the Prophets, combined with the fact that Jesus (pbuh) did not, at any time during his ministry, expressly direct his disciples TO DISREGARD ANY OF THE TEACHINGS ENTAILED IN THESE BOOKS, is a sufficient evidence for us to believe that by default the Christians were, in fact, supposed to adhere to ALL the prohibitions mentioned in the Mosaic Law. It is precisely for this reason that Jesus (pbuh) did not bring a new Shari`ah regarding edibles.

Thus, whatever has been explained in the foregoing section regarding the Jewish Dietary Laws, applies to the Christian as well[27]. (Source)

Mr. Amjad claims that this passage demonstrates that Jesus didn't come to alter the directives of the Mosaic Law. Let us look at the context to see if Mr. Amjad's understanding is correct:

"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." Matthew 5:33-37

"You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ BUT I TELL YOU, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." Matthew 5:38-42

Lest Mr. Amjad attempts to further distort my point let me clarify it again. Jesus' purpose in Matthew 5 was to provide the correct meaning and application of the moral aspects of the Law. He was not concerned here with the issue of whether the ceremonial and ritual aspects of the Law were to be carried over into the New Covenant community. His focus at this point was to explain how the ethical demands of the Law and the Prophets were to be carried out. This is where Mr. Amjad is misapplying the passage, assuming that by fulfillment Jesus meant that his followers would be required to carry out the directives of animal sacrifices, an issue not even being addressed here.

In other words, fulfillment in this specific context relates to Jesus, as the promised Messiah that was to come, bringing out the correct and intended meaning of the ethical demands of the Law and the Prophets, just as the preceding verses clearly demonstrate. I had stated that God intended that the message of the Law and the Prophets would find their ultimate completion in the Messiah, whom they prophesied of, and since Jesus is that Messiah he fulfills these predictions and completes God's revelation by giving the true meaning of the Old Testament.

Mr. Amjad then states:

Mr. Shamoun further writes:

"Jesus' meaning was not that he had come to fulfill in the sense that he came to obey, which he certainly did. Rather, it entailed fulfillment in the sense of both interpreting and exegeting the Law.

... Hence, it is the Law as interpreted by Christ that is binding on all believers. This is the sense in which Jesus fulfills the Law, in bringing it to its desired goal. In order for Christ to bring the Law to its spiritual perfection, it became necessary for him to both reinterpret and reinforce certain aspects of it, purifying it from the false interpretation that had evolved around it by the religious sects of his day."

I would only request Mr. Shamoun to help me understand how can 'abrogation' (whatever the concept may be) be taken as 'interpretation' of a directive. I do acknowledge that explaining the spirit of a directive does come under the ambit of 'interpretation' and 'explanation'. Nevertheless, explaining the spirit of the directive is one thing and restricting the directive to "only" its spirit is quite another thing. The former does come under the scope of the word 'fulfillment', but the latter can only be termed as alteration, which obviously is different from 'fulfillment'.

RESPONSE:

It is apparent to anyone reading my initial comments that I clearly stated that Jesus' words in Matthew 5:17 do not relate to the issue of abrogation. Rather, as I had indicated, this particular context relates to Jesus exegeting the Law and the Prophets as God intended.

In fact, had Mr. Amjad actually read the original paper from where I derived my quotations he would have seen that I was actually refuting the claim made by Islamic Awareness that Matthew 5:17 teaches abrogation.

Furthermore, the whole context of Matthew 5 deals with the ethical, not ceremonial and ritual, demands of the Law. As such no abrogation has taken place here since God's ethical demands are universal and eternal. Therefore, to try and appeal to a context where God's ethical demands are in view to prove that animal sacrifices are still binding is stretching things quite a bit.

Interestingly, Mr. Amjad agrees in principle with my stated exegesis, for he writes:

As time went by, the followers of these laws started ignoring the spirit entailed in these laws, even though, apparently, they remained obedient to it. At this time, God sent a revelation through one of His prophets - Jesus (pbuh) - reminding people of the spirit entailed in these laws. Through this revelation, the people were reminded that following the law WITHOUT REGARD TO THE SPIRIT ENTAILED IN THEM was, in effect, a rejection of the law itself. Thus, the Gospels concentrated ON EXPLAINING THE WISDOM AND THE SPIRIT ENTAILED IN THE LAWS OF MOSES (pbuh). The Gospels were never meant to replace the laws of Moses (pbuh), but were, in fact, meant to supplement the laws WITH THE EXPLANATION OF THEIR SPIRIT. Thus, Jesus (pbuh) is reported to have said:

Let there be no thought that I have come to put an end to the law or the prophets. I have not come for destruction, but to make complete. (Matthew 5: 17, as translated in the 'Bible in Basic English')

Immediately following this declaration, Jesus (pbuh) is reported to have explained THE REAL SPIRIT of a number of directives of the Torah and the Laws.

However, disregarding the strong reminder of the Christ that his teachings should not be perceived as an abolition of the Laws and the Torah, BUT AS THEIR COMPLETION, his followers turned their backs on the directives of the Torah and gave up adherence to them. Consequently, what was revealed by God to complement the existing laws and to clarify the spirit entailed in these laws, started taking shape as an independent religion. Predictably, for all practical purposes, the followers of this religion renounced the validity of the laws entailed in the Torah and undermined their importance, by relegating them to the position of a 'temporary phase'. (Source)

Even though Mr. Amjad draws the wrong inference from Jesus' stated purpose in fulflling the Law, the point was apparently clear even to the Learner. Namely, that Jesus' mission was to COMPLETE the Law of Moses by bringing out the correct meaning and application of the MORAL aspects of the Law.

Mr. Amjad continues:

I had also referred to the following saying of Jesus (pbuh):

So, when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.

This saying, in my opinion, clearly evidences the fact that Jesus (pbuh) did not abolish sacrifice.

However, this too is unacceptable to Mr. Shamoun. He writes:

We have already commented on the Learner's error in using Matthew 5.

I do not see any error in my using the referred saying of Jesus (pbuh) to substantiate my point. In fact, the referred saying of Jesus (pbuh) is clearly relevant to the point under consideration.

RESPONSE:

The error should have been obvious. As I indicated, the context relates to the ethical demands of God's Law. This being the case, Jesus wasn't concerned here with sacrifices, but with a person's attitude towards his brother. Let us read Jesus' words in context:

"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny." Matthew 5:21-26

It becomes rather evident that this passage says nothing about the necessity of animal sacrifices. Jesus is highlighting the fact that loving one's neighbor takes precedence over mere ritual observance, a point brought out more clearly from the following passages:

"As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. ‘Follow me,’ he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and ‘sinners’ came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and "sinners"?’ On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’" Matthew 9:9-13

"Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself." All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’" Matthew 22:34-40

God is not pleased with ceremonial acts done from a wicked and evil heart, having no true love for one's neighbor and God.

Furthermore, as I had also indicated, as long as Jesus hadn't died in fulfillment of his mission animal sacrifices would still be binding. The death of Jesus on the cross consummated and fulfilled the OT practice of animal sacrifices. More on this below:

LEARNER:

Commenting further on this reference, Mr. Shamoun writes:

The other error that the Learner commits is an anachronistic or chronological fallacy. Jesus' statements were made while the Old Covenant regulations were still binding. It wasn't until Jesus' death that the New Covenant was inaugurated, canceling out the Old Covenant regulations

I would request Mr. Shamoun to excuse my ignorance in asking him what he means by 'until Jesus' death'? Does he mean 'immediately preceding Jesus' death'? or is it 'immediately after Jesus' death'? If the former is true, then Mr. Shamoun is requested to kindly provide a reference to any of Jesus' statement, in which he has clearly abolished the referred practice. If the latter is true, then it only supports the Muslim concept that the prevalent concept of Christianity is not based on the teachings of Jesus (pbuh) but is actually based upon the incorrect and unfounded interpretations of those teachings by St. Paul and his disciples.

RESPONSE:

It should have been clear from the context what I meant by "until Jesus' death." Here it is again:

The other error that the Learner commits is an anachronistic or chronological fallacy. Jesus' statements were made while the Old Covenant regulations were still binding. It wasn't until Jesus' death that the New Covenant was inaugurated, canceling out the Old Covenant regulations ...

It wasn't UNTIL CHRIST'S RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION INTO HEAVEN that the body of believers known as Christians came into being ...

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was an indication THAT THE CHURCH WAS BORN since it is only through the Holy Spirit that one becomes united to Christ's body, that is the Church ...

Therefore, AFTER THE BIRTH OF THE CHURCH believers were no longer under any obligation to offer animal sacrifices since Jesus is the consummation of such sacrifices:

It is quite apparent that the context of my statement referred to a time after the birth of the Church. Christ's death inaugurated the New Covenant. And it wasn't until after the Church was born that believers started observing the regulations and requirements of the New Covenant. As the passages that I cited demonstrated, animal sacrifices were not part of these regulations which Gentile believers had to observe and even though Jews continued to observe them they did so with the understanding that such sacrifices did not eradicate sin, but pointed to Christ's death which did.

But all of this misses the initial point which I raised, specifically, that the Quran claims that Allah COMMANDED all people to offer animal sacrifices, which is a gross mistake. This is why Mr. Amjad has been desperately trying to find some support for this view by wrenching Jesus' statements out of context. Even though he will basically do anything to prove that the Quran is correct, even if this entails distorting biblical passages, he still cannot show where either Jesus or his disciples expressly commanded that Gentiles who embrace Jesus must offer animal sacrifices.

In point of fact, the disciples actually taught the exact opposite since they decided that Gentiles did not have to observe specific aspects of the Law such as animal sacrifices (cf. Acts 15). Thus, the Quran is clearly in error at this point.

Anticipating this response, Mr. Amjad proceeds to malign the integrity of Paul in order to save the Quran from a gross error. It seems that Mr. Amjad is not only unaware of the historical data supporting the credentials of Paul, but is also unaware of the following Muslim references that testify to the Apostles' credibility.

Commenting on S. 36:14, Ibn Kathir states:

<so We reinforced them with a third> means, ‘We supported and strengthened them with a third Messenger.’ Ibn Jurayj narrated from Wahb bin Sulayman, from Shu’ayb Al-Jaba’i, "The names of the first two Messengers were Sham’un and Yuhanna, and the name of the third was Bulus, and the city was Antioch. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged), Volume 8, Surat Al-Ahzab, Verse 51 to the end of Surat Ad-Dukhan, abridged under a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors Riyadh, Houston, New York, London, Lahore; First Edition, September 2000], p. 179; bold emphasis ours)

Sham’un refers to Simon Peter, Yuhanna to the apostle John, and Bulus is Arabic for Paul. We see that the first Muslims had no problem acknowledging the apostle Paul as a Messenger of God! In light of Mr. Amjad's ad hominem slur against this beloved Apostle, Ibn Kathir's quotation becomes quite interesting to say the least!

The following quotation is taken from Alfred Guillaume's translation of Ibn Ishaq's work, titled The Life of Muhammad, Oxford University Press Karachi:

"God has sent me (Muhammad) to all men, so take a message from me, God have mercy on you. Do not hang back from me as the disciples hung back from Jesus son of Mary. They asked how they hung back and he said, ‘He called them to a task similar to that which I have called you. Those who had to go a short journey were pleased and accepted. Those who had a long journey before them were displeased and refused to go, and Jesus complained of them to God. (T. From that very night) every one of them was able to speak the language of the people to whom he was sent.’ (T. Jesus said, ‘This is a thing that God has determined that you should do, so go.’)

"Those whom Jesus son of Mary sent, both disciples and those who came after them, in the land were: Peter the disciple AND PAUL WITH HIM, (PAUL BELONGED TO THE FOLLOWERS AND WAS NOT A DISCIPLE) to Rome. Andrew and Matthew to the land of the cannibals; Thomas to the land of Babel, which is in the land of the east; Philip to Carthage and Africa; John to Ephesus the city of the young men of the cave; James to Jerusalem which is Aelia the city of the sanctuary; Bartholomew to Arabia which is the land of Hijaz; Simon to the land of Berbers; Judah who was not one of the disciples was put in place of Judas." (Ibid. p. 653; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Other Muslim sources that affirm the preceding statement include:

"Among the apostles and those disciples around them, whom Jesus sent out, there were Peter and his companion Paul." (Thalabii, Qisas al-Anbiyaa, pp. 389-390)

And,

"Among the apostles, and the followers who came after them were the Apostle Peter and Paul who was a follower and not an apostle; they went to Rome. Andrew and Matthew were sent to the country whose people are man-eaters, a land of blacks, we think; Thomas was sent to Babylonia in the east, Philip to Qayrawan (and) Carthage, that is, North Africa. John went to Ephesus, the city of the youths of the cave, and James to Jerusalem, that is, Aelia. Bartholomew was sent to Arabia, namely, the Hijaz; Simeon to the land of the Berbers in Africa. Judas was not then an apostle, so his place was taken by Ariobus. He filled in for Judas Iscariot after the latter had perpetrated his deed." (History, Volume IV, p. 123; bold emphasis ours)

The translator, Moshe Perlmann, comments on the above statement that Paul was not an apostle:

317. In Islamic terms the messengers or apostles pave the new path. Their work is continued by the tabi'un, the followers, members of the next generations, who lead the Faithful. (Ibid.)

Hence, according to al-Tabari Paul was a faithful follower of the Apostles, especially the Apostle Peter. Al-Tabari also lists Paul as one of those martyred for the faith:

"Abu Ja'far says: They assert that after Tiberius, Palestine and other parts of Syria were ruled by Gaius, son of Tiberius, for four years. He was succeeded by another son, Claudius, for fourteen years, following which Nero ruled for fourteen years. He slew Peter and crucified Paul head down. For four months Botlaius [Vittelius] ruled thereafter. Then Vespasian, father of Titus whom he sent to Jerusalem, ruled for ten years. Three years after his rise to power, forty years after the ascension of Jesus, Vespasian sent Titus to Jerusalem. Titus destroyed it and slew numerous Israelites in his wrath over the fate of Christ ..." (Ibid., p. 126; bold emphasis ours)

Mr. Amjad seems to also be unaware of the following Quranic verse and the classical Muslim interpretation of it:

"(I have come to you), to attest to the Law which was before me and to make lawful to you part of what was (before) forbidden to you ..." S. 3:50

The following quotations are taken from Mahmoud M Ayoub's book, The Quran and Its Interpreters, Volume II, The House of Imran, State University of New York Press, Albany 1992. All bold and capital emphasis ours:

"Tabari reports on the authority of Wahb bin Munabbih that ‘Jesus was a follower of the law of Moses. He observed the Sabbath and faced Jerusalem in prayer. He said to the Children of Israel, "I have not come to call you to disobey even one word of the Torah. I have come only to make lawful for you some of the things which were before unlawful and to relieve you of some of the hardships [which the Torah imposed on you]."’ Qatadah, according to Tabari, is said to have declared: ‘The [Law] with which Jesus came was much more lenient than that which Moses brought. The Law of Moses made unlawful for them to eat the flesh of camel, the fat covering the stomach of an animal, and some birds and fish’ ...

Ibn Kathir interprets the phrase ‘and will make lawful for you some of the things which were before unlawful’ as indicating that Jesus did indeed abrogate some of the precepts of the Torah. Nevertheless, he reports that some scholars have argued that Jesus did not abrogate anything, but only made lawful for the Children of Israel some of the things concerning which they had disagreed. Ibn Kathir, however, prefers the first view ...

Razi then raises the following question: ‘It may be argued that latter statement contradicts the one before it. This is because it clearly indicates that he came to make lawful some of the things which were unlawful in the Torah. This would mean that his legislation was contrary to that of the Torah, which would contradict his saying, "I shall confirm the Torah which was before me."’ Razi, however, holds that ‘there is actually no contradiction between the two statements because confirming the Torah can only signify the belief that all that is in it is true and right. If, moreover, the second purpose [of Jesus' apostleship] is not mentioned in the Torah, his making lawful some of the things which are unlawful in it would not contradict his having confirmed the Torah. Furthermore, since the Torah contains prophesies concerning the coming of Jesus, then neither his coming nor HIS LAW would be contrary to the Torah.’

Razi then reports the different views concerning what Jesus made lawful for the Children of Israel. He mentions that Wahb b. Munabbih interpreted this statement as first referring to the rabbis ‘who had invented some false laws which they ascribed to Moses. But when Jesus came, he abolished these laws, and thus matters reverted to what they were during the time of Moses.’ Razi also attributed to Wahb the view that ‘God had made some things unlawful for the Jews as a punishment for the transgressions which they had committed, as God says, "because of the wrongdoing which the Jews committed, We made unlawful some of the good things which were before lawful for them" (Q. 4:160). This prohibition remained until Jesus came and lifted these restrictions from them.’ Razi gives by way of example what Jesus altered in the laws of the Torah, his substituting Sunday for the Sabbath as a day of rest ...

Qummi briefly comments that the things which Jesus made lawful for the Children of Israel included work on the Sabbath, and eating such fats and birds which were before unlawful ..." (Ayoub, pp. 149-150)

"... Qutb says: ‘The Torah was, like the Gospel, the scripture of Jesus, that is, the foundation of the religion which he came. The Gospel is intended to COMPLETE AND REVIVE THE SPIRIT OF THE TORAH and the spirit of faith which was obscured in the hearts of the Children of Israel. The Torah is the foundation of the religion of Christ and contains the law (shari'ah) on which the social order is based. The Gospel makes only slight modifications in the Torah, but it is a breath and renewal of the spirit of religion. It acts as a source of discipline for human conscience by bringing it into direct contact with God ...’

"... ‘By Saying, "I shall confirm the Torah that was sent before me" Jesus discloses the nature of true Christianity.’ Qutb argues that the Torah was essential to the message of Jesus, but his message introduced certain minor modifications to it. Jesus made lawful some of the things which God had made unlawful as punishment of the Children of Israel for their sins. ‘Then God wished to show mercy towards them through Christ.’" (pp. 152-153)

"... He [Razi] then presents another possible reason: ‘The Jews knew that Jesus was the messiah who was announced in the Torah, and that he was to ABROGATE their religion ...’" (p. 160)

Finally, commenting on the Jewish demand for a sacrifice and for fire from heaven to consume it in S. 3:183, we are told:

"Qurtubi reports the account and adds: ‘It is reported that this [divine charge] was in the Torah but that it concluded with the words "until Christ and Muhammad shall come to you, but when they come, believe in them without a sacrifice." It also reported, Qurtubi continues, that ‘offering sacrifices was mandatory UNTIL IT WAS ABROGATED BY JESUS SON OF MARY. Before that a prophet would slaughter the sacrificial animal and pray to God. Then a white smokeless fire with a hissing sound would descend and devour the sacrifice. Hence, this was a false claim by the Jews, for [the truth is that] either it was an exception which they concealed [from the Prophet] OR A CASE OF ABROGATION WHICH THEY STUBBORNLY DENIED ...’" (p. 395)

Thus, it is the Quran and the Muslim commentators that claim that Jesus abrogated the Law, or at least certain aspects of it such as animal sacrifices! These Islamic sources are disagreeing with Mr. Amjad's interpretation and provide corroboration that the Quran is mistaken for claiming that God commanded everyone to sacrifice, which would include Gentile Christians.

For an in-depth response to the allegation that Paul corrupted Christianity, we recommend the following scholarly article.

Mr. Amjad concludes with a response to my claim that the Quran borrowed from fables and myths of the Jews:

Queen of Sheba and Sun Worship
The Third point covered by Mr. Shamoun relates to whether the Queen of Sheba and her people worshipped the sun or not. As a rebuttal to my earlier response, Mr. Shamoun writes:

No one is denying that the people of Sheba worshiped the sun. But rather, that the primary deity worshiped during that time was the moon. Hence, it would have been more accurate for the Quran to mention this fact since the impression given is that the sun was the primary deity worshiped. Yet, I agree with the Learner's assessment that this in itself does not prove conclusively that the Quran is mistaken at this point.

I do not intend to add anything to my previous response.

In my referred response, I had also alluded to the story of the Queen of Sheba as given in the Jewish Encyclopedia and the Kebra Negast. In response, Mr. Shamoun writes:

The only problem with the Learner's appeal to the above Jewish references is that these sources are not primary documents. Rather, as in the case of Kebra Negest, the Jewish story is nothing more than a Talmudic fable written centuries after the fact. In fact, this introduces another problem namely that the Quranic story about the Queen of Sheba is nothing more than a rehashing of an older and yet even more unreliable Jewish fable.

I would just like to remind my readers that Mr. Shamoun's calling something a 'fable' does not automatically mean that everything entailed in it is false.

I hope this helps.

Regards,

Moiz Amjad
September 27, 2001

RESPONSE:

I would like to remind Mr. Amjad that the burden of proof is upon him to demonstrate that this story is not a Jewish fable that Muhammad assumed was true. The fact that a post-biblical fable found its way in the Quran only goes to show that the Quran is not the word of God.

For a more in-depth examination concerning the Quran borrowing from fables and legends, we highly recommend the following articles: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6].

This concludes our rebuttal.

In the service of our great God and eternal Savior Jesus Christ, forever. Amen. Come Lord Jesus, risen Son of the Most High. We love you and eagerly await your return.


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