On Muhammad the Borrower
Naik claims that there are two reasons why Muhammad could not have copied from the Holy Bible or from other preexisting sources. First, Muhammad was illiterate and therefore could not have read books such as the Holy Bible. Second, Naik claims that there were no Arabic translations of the Holy Bible during the time of Muhammad. R. Saadias Gaon first translated the OT into Arabic in 900 AD. Furthermore, a man named Erpenius first translated the NT into Arabic in 1616.
In response we would first point out that Naik attacks a straw man and throws out a red herring here. It wasn't necessary for Muhammad to be literate in order to borrow stories from previous scriptures. Muhammad only needed to hear these stories orally for borrowing to take place. After hearing these stories Muhammad revised them to suit his theological presuppositions and then tried to pass them off as revelation from God.
Second, seeing that Zakir presumes the authenticity and reliability of the Islamic traditions (at least those that have been authenticated by the so-called chain of transmission [isnad] and its text [matn]), we find it rather amazing that he would uncritically subscribe to the belief that there was no Arabic translation of the Holy Bible during the advent of Islam. This is interesting since the Islamic sources affirm that certain portions of the Bible had been translated into Arabic during the time of Muhammad:
The Prophet returned to Khadija while his heart was beating rapidly. She took him to Waraqa bin Naufal who was a Christian convert and used to read the Gospels in Arabic. Waraqa asked (the Prophet), "What do you see?" When he told him, Waraqa said, "That is the same angel whom Allah sent to the Prophet) Moses. Should I live till you receive the Divine Message, I will support you strongly." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 605)
" Waraqa had been converted to Christianity in the Pre-lslamic Period and used to write Arabic and write of the Gospel in Arabic as much as Allah wished him to write. He was an old man and had lost his eyesight..." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 478)
" Ka'b read the Torah and said: The Apostle of Allah has spoken the truth. Abu Hurayrah said: I met Abdullah ibn Salam and told him of my meeting with Ka'b." (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 3, Number 1041: Narrated Abu Hurayrah)
" (Muhammad's father) passed by a woman of the Kath'am (tribe) whose name was Fatimah Bint Murr and who was the prettiest of all women, in the full bloom of her youth and the most pious and had studied the scriptures; ..." (Ibn Sa'd's Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, p.104)
According to the Mishkat al-Masabih, Book XXVI, ch. XXXIX, pp. 1371, 1372:
Khaithama b. Abu Sabra said: I came to Medina and asked God to grant me a good companion to sit with and He granted me Abu Huraira. I sat with him and told him I had asked God to grant me a good companion to sit with and that he suited me. He asked where I came from and I replied that I belonged to al-Kufa and had come desiring and seeking good. He then said, "Do you not have among you Sa'd b. Malik whose prayers are answered, Ibn Mas'ud who looked after God's messenger's water for ablution and his sandals, Hudhaifa who was God's messenger's confident, 'Ammar to whom God gave protection from the devil at the tongue of His Prophet, and Salman who was a believer in the two Books? meaning THE INJIL and the Qur'an." Tirmidhi translated it.
All these traditions presume the existence of Arabic translations of certain portions of the Holy Bible, if not all of it.
Interestingly, the hadith reports that Waraqa even knew how to read Hebrew:
"Khadija then accompanied him to her cousin Waraqa bin Nawfal bin Asad bin 'Abdul 'Uzza, who, during the Pre-Islamic Period became a Christian and used to write the writing with Hebrew letters. He would write from the Gospel in Hebrew as much as Allah wished him to write ..." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Number 3)
Furthermore, according to early Christian records there were actual Arabic translations of the New Testament that had been translated during the time of Muhammad:
"The Gospels were translated into Arabic from the original Greek as well as Coptic and Syrian versions. Barhebreus writes of an Arabic translation made by a monophysite named Johannes, by the order of an Arab prince in A.D. 640. Oldest extant fragments of Arabic translations from the Greek date from the early ninth century. The oldest extant translation in the Syriac also dates back to the same time. It is likely, however, that portions of the Gospels were rendered into Arabic at a much earlier date that that mentioned above. George, a bishop of the Arabs of Mesopotamia, wrote a Scholia on the Scripture around the sixth century. But it appears that Christian teaching and preaching in the sixth century (A.D.) Arabia was done mainly by quoting from the Syriac or Ethiopic scripture and then giving a free rendering of it in Arabic ..." (Abdiyah Akbar Abdul-Haqq, Sharing Your Faith with a Muslim [Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis MN, 1980], p. 29)
"A Coptic version of the New Testament was current toward the end of the third century... The Gospels were translated into Arabic from the Greek, Syriac, and Coptic versions. Barhebraeus speaks of such a translation made between A.D. 631-640. George, bishop of Arab tribes of Mesopotamia, a friend of James of Edessa (d. A.D. 578) wrote a Scholia on the Scriptures. According to Al-Baidhawi and other Muslim commentators, their prophet received instruction from learned Christians like Warqa b. Naufal, Jubra and Yasara (Baidhawi on Sura 16:105). Also, traditions relate how the prophet used to stop and listen to these two men as they read aloud the Books of Moses (Torah) and the Gospels (Injil). Apparently there was a translation of portions of the New Testament that was extant in Mecca during the rise of Islam. Such a translation must have existed along with the full versions of the New Testament in Syriac and Syriac Lectionaries." (Ibid., p. 56)
It should be pointed out that there were also Arabic apocryphal Gospels available during Muhammad's time as well:
"In addition to translations of the canonical Gospels, there were numerous Arabic translations of the New Testament apocrypha. Some of the better known of these like Protoevangelion of James, Gospel of the Infancy, Apocalypse of Paul, and the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles were available in Arabic translation before the Koran ..." (Ibid., p. 29)
Finally, the fact that the earliest Arabic MSS of the Holy Bible in our possession date after the advent of Islam does not conclusively prove that no such translations existed prior to this. All this proves is that until now scholars have not discovered any Arabic MSS that stem from the time of Muhammad. Only the Lord knows what future discoveries will bring. It is, however, amply documented that there were many Christians living in Arabia, some were even of Muhammad's own clan, and that he had many opportunities to converse with them at home and on his travels. Furthermore, during his prophetic career, he had a disputation with the episcopal delegation from Najran that lasted several days. Shall we assume, during all these encounters he never asked about their faith, nor did they tell him what they believed?
(Note- For a more in-depth study on the issue of Muhammad borrowing from preexisting sources such as the Holy Bible, read this article.)
Interestingly, it is the Islamic traditions that actually prove that Muhammad either borrowed preexisting stories or was helped by others to concoct the Quran.
Umar Inspires the Revelation
Narrated 'Umar (bin Al-Khattab):
My Lord agreed with me in three things:
1. I said, "O Allah's Apostle, I wish we took the station of Abraham as our praying place (for some of our prayers). So came the Divine Inspiration: And take you (people) the station of Abraham as a place of prayer (for some of your prayers e.g. two Rakat of Tawaf of Ka'ba)". (2.125)
2. And as regards the (verse of) the veiling of the women, I said, "O Allah's Apostle! I wish you ordered your wives to cover themselves from the men because good and bad ones talk to them." So the verse of the veiling of the women was revealed.
3. Once the wives of the Prophet made a united front against the Prophet and I said to them, 'It may be if he (the Prophet) divorced you, (all) that his Lord (Allah) will give him instead of you wives better than you.' So this verse (the same as I had said) was revealed." (66.5). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 8, Number 395)
A Blind Man Inspires the Revelation
According to the following traditions, a blind man named Ibn Um Maktum helped to correct the Quran since it lacked an essential point:
Narrated Sahl bin Sad As-Sa'idi:
I saw Marwan bin Al-Hakam sitting in the Mosque. So I came forward and sat by his side. He told us that Zaid bin Thabit had told him that Allah's Apostle had dictated to him the Divine Verse:
"Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and those who strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah with their wealth and lives." (4.95)
Zaid said, "Ibn-Maktum came to the Prophet while he was dictating to me that very Verse. On that Ibn Um Maktum said, ‘O Allah's Apostle! If I had power, I would surely take part in Jihad.’ He was a blind man. So Allah sent down revelation to His Apostle while his thigh was on mine and it became so heavy for me that I feared that my thigh would be broken. Then that state of the Prophet was over after Allah revealed ‘... except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame etc.)’ (4.95)" (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 85)
When the Verse:-- "Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home)" (4.95) was revealed, Allah Apostle called for Zaid who wrote it. In the meantime Ibn Um Maktum came and complained of his blindness, so Allah revealed: "Except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame ..." etc.) (4.95) (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 117)
There was revealed: ‘Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and those who strive and fight in the Cause of Allah.’ (4.95) The Prophet said, "Call Zaid for me and let him bring the board, the inkpot and the scapula bone (or the scapula bone and the ink pot)." Then he said, "Write: ‘Not equal are those Believers who sit ...’, and at that time 'Amr bin Um Maktum, the blind man was sitting behind the Prophet . He said, "O Allah's Apostle! What is your order for me (as regards the above Verse) as I am a blind man?" So, instead of the above Verse, the following Verse was revealed:
‘Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame etc.) and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah.’ (4.95) (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 61, Number 512)
It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Ishaq, that he heard Bara' talking about the Qur'anic verse: "Those who sit (at home) from among the believers and those who go out for Jihad in the way of Allah are not equal" (iv. 95). (He said that) the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) ordered Zaid (to write the verse). He brought a shoulder-blade (of a slaughtered camel) and inscribed it (the verse) thereon. The son of Umm Maktum complained of his blindness to the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him). (At this) descended the revelation: "Those of the believers who sit (at home) without any trouble (illness, incapacity, disability)" (iv. 95). The tradition has been handed down through two other chains of transmitters. (Sahih Muslim, Book 020, Number 4676)
Apparently, Allah had forgotten all about the blind and the sick and thus needed to be reminded!
On a side note, Ibn Um-Maktum was the same blind man of surah 80:1-10 whom Muhammad frowned upon:
Yahya related to me from Malik from Hisham ibn Urwa that his father said that Abasa (Sura 80) was sent down about Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum. He came to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and began to say, "O Muhammad, show me a place near you (where I can sit)," whilst one of the leading men of the idol worshippers was in audience with the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, began to turn away from him and give his attention to the other man, and he said to him, "Father of so-and-so, do you see any harm in what I am saying?" and he said, "No, by the blood (of our sacrifices) I see no harm in what you are saying." And Abasa - "He frowned and turned away when the blind man came" - was sent down. (Malik's Muwatta, Book 15, Number 15.4.8)
It seems that Ibn Um-Maktum was truly a blessing for Muhammad since he helped his prophet receive revelations for a number of particular circumstances!
Salman the Persian Inspires the Revelation
According to ancient Muslim authorities S. 2:62 was "sent down" by Allah to comfort Salman the Persian:
"Classical commentators have explained this verse through a pious tale related on the authority of al-Suddi in support of the view that the verse was revealed in reference to Salman the Persian and his companions ... In Medina Salman met the Prophet, whom he recognized by the signs the monk had given him. He told the Prophet about his former companions, who had occupied themselves with prayer and fasting and had had faith in the Prophet, whose appearance they awaited. The Prophet, however, answered, 'O Salman, they are of the people of the Fire.' This grieved Salman deeply, and thus God sent down this verse concerning his companions, IN ORDER THAT HE MIGHT BE CONSOLED ... The Prophet is said to have told Salman, in reassuring him concerning the fate of his companions who had faith but had not heard of Islam that, 'whoever has died in the faith of Jesus, and died in Islam before he had heard of me, his lot shall be good. But whoever hears of me today and yet does not assent to me, he shall surely perish' ..." (Mahmoud M. Ayoub, The Qur'an and its Interpreters-Volume One [State University of New York Press, Albany, 1984], pp. 110-112)
"Sulaiman said: 'I asked Muhammad about a people who followed a certain religion I was with. I told him about their prayer and worship. Right away Muhammad made this statement [editor- S. 2:62 was revealed]. It is also said that when Sulaiman recounted to Muhammad the story of his people, Muhammad answered: 'They are in hell!' Sulaiman felt as though everything on earth looked bleak. Later this above verse was revealed, which made him joyful; it was as if a mountain had been taken away from him (see Asbab al-Nuzul by al-Suyuti on why Sura al-Baqara 2:62 was revealed).
"Muhammad desired to be considerate and pleasing to his people so much that his revelation came accordingly. This might be acceptable in politics, but not in religion. True prophets declare the truth boldly and never back down since the Spirit of God is speaking through them." (True Guidance-Comments on Quranic Verses, part 5 [Light of Life, P.O. Box 13, A-9503 Villach, Austria 1994], pp. 17-18)
'Abdullah ibn Sa'd Ibn Abi Sarh Inspires the Revelation
Abdullah was one of Muhammad's scribes who actually changed the revelation with Muhammad's approval. In fact, according to some Muslims S. 6:93 was revealed concerning Abi Sarh:
Who is more wicked than the man who invents a falsehood about God, or says: "This was revealed to me", when nothing was revealed to him? Or the man who says, "I can reveal the like of what God has revealed"? N.J. Dawood
According to the following Muslim expositors the phrase, "I can reveal the like of what God has revealed', refers specifically to Abi Sarh:
"Islamic commentators claim that the first part of this verse refers to Musaylima (the false prophet), but that the second part is about Abdallah b. Sa'd b. Abi Sarh. In fact, Abdallah was the scribe who wrote down the so-called divine revelation for Muhammad and ended up becoming an apostate. He later joined the polytheists (idolaters). Islamic expositors provide us with a full account of the incident. When Sura Al-Muminun 23:12 was inspired, 'Verily, we created man from a product of wet earth,' the Prophet called him and dictated it to him until he finished with, 'and then produced it another creation' (Sura Al-Muminun 23:14). At that moment, Abdallah was so impressed with and amazed at the detailed stages of man's creation that he said: 'Blessed be Allah, the best of creators!' (Sura Al-Muminun 23:14). Immediately Muhammad said, 'This is how it was inspired to me.' This definitely made Abdallah very suspicious and he said to himself: 'If Muhammad is a true prophet, then I also receive divine inspiration (wahy) like him. And if he is false, I only say what he has said.' For this reason, he deserted Islam and joined the idolaters. This is what the verse means: 'I will reveal the like of that which Allah has revealed.' Al-Kalbi related this account as he heard it from Ibn Abbas. Muhammad b. Ishaq also related it. He said: 'Shurahbil said to me: "This verse was inspired regarding Abdallah b. Sa'd b. Abi Sarh. I will reveal a similar inspiration like that of Allah.' In fact, he deserted Islam. When Muhammad entered Mecca, he commanded that he be killed, together with Abdallah b. Khatal and Maqias b. Subaba even if they were to be found hidden behind the Ka'ba curtains. Abdallah b. Sa'd b. Abi Sarh fled to Uthman, who was his foster brother. So Uthman concealed him until he was brought to Muhammad, having sensed security and safety from Uthman's assurance. Muhammad kept silent for a long time, but then said: 'Yes!' When Uthman left, Muhammad said: 'I only kept silent so that some of you may go and cut off his head.' A man from the Ansar said to him: 'Will you make a gesture to do that for you?' Muhammad replied: 'The Prophet should not give orders through an eye-gesture.' (i.e., he implies that he can, with authority, command Ibn Sarh be killed without resorting to eye gestures. See al-Qurtubi on Sura al-An'am 6:109).
"Abdallah is not to be blamed for deserting Muhammad. Many times he helped him in what he called 'divine revelation.' Muhammad even quoted Abdallah's own words literally and attributed them to divine revelation, which made Abdallah say to himself: 'If this is what 'divine revelation' is all about, I should be no less a prophet because it is I who helped him write it.' Undoubtedly, Abdallah's witness is crucial because he was Muhammad's personal scribe who had fellowship with him and kept his secrets. Abdallah was certain that the composition of Quranic verses was not supernatural in the least, but was quite natural. How else can we account for the fact that Muhammad quoted his words and incorporated them into the Quran? Abdallah's style is quite similar to that of the Quran. So where is the miraculous aspect of the Quran?" (True Guidance, part 5, pp. 104-106)
Muslim authorities that concur with the above include:
Tafsir Ibn Abbas
(Who is guilty) who is more tyrannical and more daring (of more wrong than he who forgeth a lie against Allah, or saith) Allah did not reveal anything, this is Malik Ibn al-Sayf, or him who says: (I am inspired) with a Scripture, (when he is not inspired in aught) with any Scripture, this is Musaylimah, the liar; (and who saith: I will reveal the like of that which Allah hath revealed) I will say the like of what Muhammad (pbuh) is saying: this is 'Abdullah Ibn Sa'd Ibn Abi Sarh. (If thou couldst see) O Muhammad, (when the wrong-doers) the idolaters and the hypocrites, on the Day of Badr (reach the pangs of death and the angels stretch their hands out) to take out their souls, (saying: Deliver up your souls) your spirits. (This day) the Day of Badr, as it is said it is the Day of Judgement (ye are awarded doom of degradation) a severe doom (for that ye spake concerning Allah other than the Truth, and scorned) you thought yourselves too great to believe in Muhammad (pbuh) and the Qur'an, (His portents) Muhammad (pbuh) and the Qur'an. (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn 'Abbâs; online source; bold and underline emphasis ours)
Al-Sira by al-'Iraqi:
The scribes of Muhammad were 42 in number. 'Abdallah Ibn Sarh al-'Amiri was one of them, and he was the first Quraishite among those who wrote in Mecca before he turned away from Islam. He started saying, "I used to direct Muhammad wherever I willed. He would dictate to me 'Most High, All-Wise', and I would write down 'All-Wise' only. Then he would say, 'Yes it is all the same'. On a certain occasion he said, 'Write such and such', but I wrote 'Write' only, and he said, 'Write whatever you like.'" So when this scribe exposed Muhammad, he wrote in the Qur'an, "And who does greater evil than he who forges against God a lie, or says, 'To me it has been revealed', when naught has been revealed to him." So on the day Muhammad conquered Mecca, he commanded his scribe to be killed. But the scribe fled to 'Uthman Ibn `Affan, because 'Uthman was his foster brother (his mother suckled 'Uthman). 'Uthman, therefore, kept him away from Muhammad. After the people calmed down, 'Uthman brought the scribe to Muhammad and sought protection for him. Muhammad kept silent for a long time, after which he said yes. When 'Uthman had left, Muhammad said "I only kept silent so that you (the people) should kill him."('Abdallah 'Abd al-Fadi, Is the Qur'an Infallible? [Light of Life, P.O. Box 13, A-9503 Villach, Austria], pp. 366-367)
His saying [Allah's saying in the Quran], "Who can be more wicked than one who inventeth a lie against Allah" to the end of this verse. This verse was revealed about Musaylamah Al-Kathaab (the Liar) Al-Hanafi, he recited poetry, prophesied and claimed prophethood...
While his saying [Allah's saying in the Quran] "I can reveal the like of what Allah hath revealed" was revealed about Abdullah bin Sa'd bin Abi Sarh. He confessed Islam. The Messenger of Allah invited him once so that he could write him something, so when the verse which is in Surat Al-Mou'mineen "Man We did create from a quintessence (of clay)" was recited, he [Mohammad] dictated it to him [Abdullah]. When Mohammad finished by saying "We developed out of it another creature", Abdullah was amazed by this detail in the creation of man and said, "So blessed be Allah, the Best to create!", so the Messenger of Allah said, "That's how it was revealed to me". So Abdullah doubted then and said [to himself], "If Mohammad were truthful, then I was revealed what he was revealed. And if he were a liar, then I said what he said." (See "Asbaab Al-Nuzool" by Al-Wahidi Al-Naysaboori - Page 126 - Beirut's Cultural Libary Edition "Tub'at Al-Maktabah Al-thakafiyyah Beirut" - No date)
The One whose name is Exalted (Allah) means in his saying "Who doth more wrong than such as invent a falsehood against Allah" and "Who doth more wrong and who is more ignorant than such as invent a falsehood against Allah" referring to those who invent falsehood against Allah and claim to be a Prophet and a Warner, and he [the person who claims] is false in his claims, and lying in his sayings. In this, God is ridiculing the Pagan Arabs, and (ridiculing) the opposing of Abdullah bin Sa'd bin Abi Al-Sarh and the Hanafite Musaylamah to the Prophet of Allah (SAW). For one of them claimed prophethood and the other claimed that he came up with something similar to what the Messenger of Allah (SAW) came with [the Quran], and at the same time denying the lying and false claims against his Prophet Mohammad (SAW).
The people of the interpretations (scholars) had different opinions about that; some of them said what we said [agreed with us]. Among those are:
Al-Qasim told us: Al-Hussein narrated: Al-Hajjaj narrated: by Ibn Jurayh, by Ikrimah:
His saying [Allah's saying in the Quran], "Who doth more wrong than such as invent a falsehood against Allah, or said: 'I have received inspiration,' when he hath received none". He [Ikrimah] said: This verse was revealed about Musaylamah the brother of Bani (children of) Uday bin Haneefah, for he [Musaylamah] was reciting poetry and prophesying. And "I can reveal like what Allah hath revealed" was revealed about Abdullah bin Sa'd bin Abi Al-Sarh, the brother of Bani (children of) Amir bin Lu'ai. He [Abdullah] used to write for the Prophet (SAW), and while he [Mohammad] was dictating "Exalted in power, full of Wisdom", he [Abdullah] would write it "Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful", thus changing it. Then he [Abdullah] would read the changed verses to him [Mohammad], and he [Mohammad] would say, "Yes [in approval], it's the same [meaning]". So he [Abdullah] reverted from Islam and followed Quraysh telling them, "He [Mohammad] used to recite to me Exalted in power, full of Wisdom', and I would change it when I write it down, and he would tell me, 'Yes [in approval], it's the same [meaning]." But then he [Abdullah] came back to Islam before the conquering (fath) of Mecca, while the Prophet (SAW) was at Mur [a place in Arabia - on his way to Mecca].
And some said: This verse was indeed revealed about Abdullah bin Sa'd in particular. Among those are:
Mohammad bin Al-Hussein spoke to me, he said: Ahmad bin Al-Mufdil narrated: Asbat narrated from Al-Sudy: "Who doth more wrong than such as invent a falsehood against Allah, or said: "I have received inspiration,' when he hath received none..." until his [Allah] saying, "ye receive your reward, a penalty of shame". He [Al-Sudy] said: This verse was revealed about Abdullah bin Sa'd bin Abi Al-Sarh, he embraced Islam, and used to write [Quran revelations] for the Prophet (SAW). So when the Prophet dictated him: "Who heareth and knoweth all things", he'd write it: "All-Knowing, All-Wise". So he doubted and reverted. Then he said, "If Mohammad gets inspiration, then I get inspiration too, and if Allah sent him his revelation then I was sent the same thing. For when Mohammad said, 'Who heareth and knoweth all things' I'd say, 'All-Knowing, All-Wise'" So he followed the Pagans, and he blew the cover of Ammar and Jubar [secret Muslims] to Ibn Al-Hudrumi or to Bani Abd Al-Dar, so they took them and tortured them until they reverted. Ammar's ear was cut off that day, so he [Ammar] went to the Prophet (SAW) and told him what had happened to him, but the Prophet (SAW) refused to handle his issue. So Allah revealed about [Abdullah] Ibn Abi Al-Sarh and his companions, "Anyone who, after accepting Faith in Allah, utters Unbelief, - except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith - but such as open their breast to Unbelief, on them is Wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty" Who was "under compulsion" is Ammar and his companions, and who "open their breast to Unbelief" is [Abdullah] Ibn Abi Al-Sarh.
Others said: The person who's referred to as saying "I have received inspiration, when he hath received none" Is Musaylamah Al-Kathaab (the Liar). Among those are:
Bishr bin Mu'aath spoke to us, he said: Yazeed bin Rabea' narrated: Sa'eed narrated Qutadah, he said: "I have received inspiration,' when he hath received none, or (again) who saith, 'I can reveal like of what Allah hath revealed" This verse was revealed about Musaylamah Al-Kathaab (the Liar). It was narrated to us that the Prophet of Allah (SAW) said, "I saw in my sleep two golden bracelets around my arms, they started to grow bigger and bigger and became a burden on me. So I was inspired to blow on them - I did and they flew away. I interpreted my dream that they [the bracelets] are the two Liars I'm between: The Liar of Al-Yamamah Musaylamah, and the Liar of San'aa Al-Ansi." And he [Al-Ansi] was called Al-Aswad.
Mohammad bin Abd Al-Aa'laa spoke to us, he said: Mohammad bin Thawr narrated Mu'mar who narrated Qutadah, he said: "I have received inspiration,' when he hath received none" was revealed about Musaylamah.
Al-Hasan bin Yahya spoke to us, he said: Abd Al-Razaaq informed us: Mu'mar narrated Qutadah, and he added to it: And the Zuhri told me that the Prophet (SAW) said, "I saw in my sleep two golden bracelets around my arms, they started to grow bigger and bigger and became a burden on me. So I was inspired to blow on them - I did and they flew away. I interpreted my dream that they [the bracelets] are the two Liars I'm between: The Liar of Al-Yamamah Musaylamah, and the Liar of San'aa Al-Ansi."
The opinion I believe which has more credibility than the others is to say: Allah said, Who can be more wicked than one who inventeth a lie against Allah, or said: 'I have received inspiration,' when he hath received none". There is no disagreement between the Scholars of the Ummah (nation) that Ibn Abi Sarh was one of those who said, "I had said like [what] Mohammad [said].", and that he reverted from Islam and followed the Pagans. There is no doubt that what he said was lies. And there is also no disagreement between all [the Scholars] that Musaylamah and Al-Ansi the Liars claimed falsehood against Allah by saying that he sent them as Prophets; for each of them had said that Allah inspired them, and they are lying in their claims. (See Al-Tabari in the commentary of the verse - from the Encyclopedia of the Quran "Mawsoo'at Al-Quran" - Al-Areesh Company for Computers "Sharikat Al-Areesh lil-computer" - Beirut - 1998).
"‘To me it has been revealed, when naught has been revealed to him’ refers to 'Abdallah Ibn Sa'd Ibn Abi Sarh, who used to write for God's messenger. The verse (23:12) that says, ‘We created man of an extraction of clay’ was revealed, and when Muhammad reached the part that says, ‘... thereafter We produced him as another creature’ (23:14), ‘Abdallah said, ‘So blessed be God the fairest of creators!’ in amazement at the details of man's creation. The prophet said, "Write it down; for thus it has been revealed." ‘Abdallah doubted and said, ‘If Muhammad is truthful then I receive the revelation as much as he does, and if he is a liar, what I said is a good as what he said.’" (Quoted from the famous Tafsir Anwar al-Tanzil wa Asrar al-Ta‘wil by 'Abdallah Ibn 'Umar al-Baidawi)
We also find Ibn Abi Al-Sarh's biography in "Al-Isaabah fi Tamyeez Al-Sahabah" (Volume 4, Page 109, kaf = 0, ba' = 0, ha' = 4714) (from the Encyclopedia of the Prophet's Hadeeth "Mawsoo'at Al-Hadeeth Al-Nabawi" - Al-Areesh Company for Computers "Sharikat Al-Areesh lil-computer" - Beirut - 1998).
Abdullah bin Sa'd bin Abi Sarh bin Al-Harith Abu Yahya Al-Qurashi Al-Amiri
4714---- Abdullah bin Sa'd bin Abi Al-Sarh bin Al-Harith bin Habeeb Bilmuhmlah Musghira bin Huthafah bin Malik bin Hasl bin Amir bin Lu'ai Al-Qurashi Al-Amiri, and some inserted [into his genealogy] Huthafa and Malik Nasra. The first one is more famous and his Kunyah is Aba Yahya. He [Abdullah] was Othman's [the fourth Caliph] brother by nursing (rida'ah), and his mother was Ash'ariyyah (Al-Zubayr bin Bikar said that). Ibn Sa'd said that her mother is Muhabah bint Jaber. Ibn Habban said that his father was one of Quraysh's hypocrite infidels - that's what he said and I haven't seen any other [view]. Al-Hakim narrated from Alsuday, by Mus'ab bin Sa'd by his father, "When it was the day of the conquering (fath) of Mecca, the Prophet gave safety to all its people except for four men and two women; Ikrimah, Ibn Khatl, Maqees bin Subabah, and Ibn Abi Al-Sarh." He went on with the Hadeeth and said, "As for Abdullah, he hid with Othman, so he [Othman] came to the Prophet with him, while he [Mohammad] was making vows of allegiance (bay'ah) with the people. So Othman said, 'O Messenger of Allah, make a vow of allegiance (bay'ah) with Abdullah.' And so he did after three attempts. Then he [Mohammad] went to his companions and said, 'Isn't there any honorable man among you who would stand and kill him [Abdullah] when he saw me refusing to make the vow with him?'" And from Yazeed Al-Nahwi by Ikrimah by Ibn Abbas who said, "Abdullah bin Sa'd used to write for the Prophet, so Satan made him err and he followed the infidels. The Prophet ordered his death (meaning of the day of Conquering Mecca), but Othman intervened and asked for his safety, so the Prophet kept him safe [didn't kill him]."
Abi Sarh's comments are similar to what a Christian said regarding the origin of the Quranic stories:
There was a Christian who embraced Islam and read Surat-al-Baqara and Al-Imran, and he used to write (the revelations) for the Prophet. Later on he returned to Christianity again and he used to say: "Muhammad knows nothing but what I have written for him." Then Allah caused him to die, and the people buried him, but in the morning they saw that the earth had thrown his body out. They said, "This is the act of Muhammad and his companions. They dug the grave of our companion and took his body out of it because he had run away from them." They again dug the grave deeply for him, but in the morning they again saw that the earth had thrown his body out. They said, "This is an act of Muhammad and his companions. They dug the grave of our companion and threw his body outside it, for he had run away from them." They dug the grave for him as deep as they could, but in the morning they again saw that the earth had thrown his body out. So they believed that what had befallen him was not done by human beings and had to leave him thrown (on the ground). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 814)
Apart from the legendary embellishments attached to this story, it becomes quite evident that many people during Muhammad's time knew the true source of his "revelations".
Satan Inspires the Revelation
"The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, had seen his people departing from him. He was one day sitting alone when he expressed a desire: I wish, Allah had not revealed to me anything distasteful to them. Then the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, approached them (Quraysh) and got close to them, and they also came near to him. One day he was sitting in their assembly near the Ka'bah and he recited: "By the Star when it setteth" (Quran 53.1), till he reached "Have ye thought upon Al-Uzza and Manat, the third, the other?" (Quran 53.19-20). Satan made him repeat these two phrases: These idols are high and their intercession is expected. The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, repeated them, and he went on reciting the whole surah and then fell in prostration, and the people also fell in prostration with him. Al-Walid Ibn al-Mughira, who was an old man and could not prostrate, took a handful of dust to his forehead and prostrated on it... They were pleased with what the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, had uttered. They said: We know that Allah gives life and causes death. He creates and gives us provisions, but our deities will intercede with Him, and in what you have assigned to them, we are with you. These words pricked the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him. He was sitting in his house and when it was evening, Gabriel, may peace be upon him, came to him and revised the surah. Then Gabriel said: Did I bring these two phrases? The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, said: I ascribed to Allah what he had not said." (Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, Vol. 1, p. 237 emphasis ours)
The following is taken from The History of Al-Tabari Volume 6-Muhammad at Mecca (State University of New York Press, Albany 1988), pp. 107-112:
Satan Casts a False Revelation on the Messenger of God's Tongue
The messenger of God was eager for the welfare of his people and wished to effect a reconciliation with them in whatever ways he could. It is said that he wanted to find a way to do this, and what happened was as follows.
Ibn Humayd - Salamah-Muhammad b. Ishaq - Yazid b. Ziyad al-Madani - Muhammad b. Ka'b al-Qurazi: When the messenger of God saw how his tribe turned their backs on him and was grieved to see them shunning the message he had brought to them from God, he longed in his soul that something would come to him from God which would reconcile him with his tribe. With his love for his tribe and his eagerness for their welfare it would have delighted him if some of the difficulties which they made for him could have been smoothed out, and he debated with himself and fervently desired such an outcome. Then God revealed:
By the Star when it sets, your comrade does not err, nor is he deceived; nor does he speak out of (his own) desire...
and when he came to the words:
Have you thought upon al-Lat and al-Uzza and Manat, the third, the other?
Satan cast on his tongue, because of his inner debates and what he desired to bring to his people, the words:
These are the high flying cranes; verily their intercession is accepted with approval.
When Quraysh heard this, they rejoiced and were happy and delighted at the way in which he spoke of their gods, and they listened to him, while the Muslims, having complete trust in their prophet in respect of the messages which he brought from God, did not suspect him of error, illusion, or mistake. When he came to the prostration, having completed the surah, he prostrated himself and the Muslims did likewise, following their prophet, trusting in the message which he had brought and following his example. Those polytheists of the Quraysh and others who were in the mosque likewise prostrated themselves because of the reference to their gods which they had heard, so that there was no one in the mosque, believer or unbeliever, who did not prostrate himself. The one exception was al-Walid b. Al-Mughirah, who was a very old man and could not prostrate himself; but he took a handful of soil from the valley in his hand and bowed over that. Then they all dispersed from the mosque. The Quraysh left delighted by the mention of their gods which they had hared, saying, "Muhammad has mentioned our goes in the most favorable way possible, stating in his recitation that they are the high flying cranes and that their intercession is received with approval."
The news of the prostration reached those of the messenger of God's companions who were in Abyssinia and people said, "The Quraysh have accepted Islam." Some rose up to return, while others remained behind. Then Gabriel came to the Messenger of God and said, "Muhammad, what have you done? You have recited to the people that which I did not bring to you from God, and you have said that which was not said to you." Then the messenger of God was much grieved and feared God greatly, but God sent down a revelation to him, for He was merciful to him, consoling him and making the matter light for him, informing him that there had never been a prophet or a messenger before him who desired as he desired and wished as he wished but that Satan had cast words into his recitation, as he had cast words on Muhammad's tongue. Then God cancelled what Satan had thus cast, and established his verses by telling him that he was like other prophets and messengers, and revealed:
Never did we send a messenger of a prophet before you but that when he recited (the Message) Satan cast words into his recitation (umniyyah). God abrogates what Satan casts. The God established his verses. God is knower, wise.
Thus God removed the sorrow from his messenger, reassured him about that which he had feared and canceled the words which Satan had cast on his tongue, that their gods were the high flying cranes whose intercession was accepted with approval. He now revealed, following the mention of "al-Lat, al-Uzza and Manat, the third, the other," the words:
Are yours the males and his the females? That indeed were an unfair division! They are but names which you have named, you and your fathers."
to the words:
to whom he wills and accept.
This means, how can the intercession of their gods avail with God?
When Muhammad brought a revelation from God canceling what Satan had cast on the tongue of His prophet, the Quraysh said, "Muhammad has repented of what he said concerning the position of your gods with God, and has altered it and brought something else." Those two phrases which Satan had cast on the tongue of the Messenger of God were in the mouth of every polytheists, and they became even more ill-disposed and more violent in their persecution of those of them who had accepted Islam and followed the messenger of God.
Those of the companions of the messenger of God who had left Abyssinia upon hearing that Quraysh had accepted Islam by prostration themselves with the messenger of God now approached. When they were near Mecca, they heard that the report that the people of Mecca had accepted Islam was false. Not one of them entered Mecca without obtaining protection or entering secretly. Among those who came to Mecca and remained there until they emigrated to al-Madinah and were present with the prophet at Badr, were, from the Banu Abd Shams b. Abd Manaf b. Quasyy, Uthman b. Afafan b. Abi al-As b. Umayyah, accompanied by his wife Ruaqyyah the daughter of the messenger of God; Abu Hudhayfah b. Utbah b. Rabiah b. Abd Shames, accompanied by his wife Sahlahbt. Suhalyl; together with a number of others numbering thirty three men.
Al-Qasim b. Al-Hasan - al Husayn b. Daud - Hajja - Abu Mashar - Muhammad b. Kab al-Qurazi and Muhammad b. Qays: The messenger of God was sitting in a large gathering of Quraysh, wishing that day that no revelation would come to him from God which could cause them to turn away from him. Then God revealed:
By the Star when it sets, your comrade does not err, nor is he deceived...
and the Messenger of God recited it until he came to:
Have you thought upon al-Lat and al-Uzza and Manat, the third, the other?
when Satan cast on his tongue two phrases:
These are the high flying cranes; verily their intercession is to be desired.
He uttered them and went on to complete the surah. When he prostrated himself at the end of the surah, the whole company prostrated themselves with him. Al-Walid b. al-Mughirah raised some dust to his forehead and bowed over that, since he was a very old man and could not prostrate himself. They were satisfied with what Muhammad had uttered and said, "We recognize that it is God who gives life and death, who creates and who provides sustenance, but if these gods of ours intercede for us with him, and if you give them a share, we are with you."
That evening Gabriel came to him and reviewed the surah with him, and when he reached the two phrases which Satan had cast upon his tongue he said, "I did not bring you these two." Then the messenger of God said, "I have fabricated things against God and have imputed to him words which He has not spoken." Then God revealed to him:
And they indeed strove hard to beguile you away from what we have revealed to you, that you should invent other than it against us...
to the words:
and then you would have found no helper against us.
He remained grief stricken and anxious until the revelation of the verse:
Never did we send a messenger or a prophet before you... to the words... God is knower, wise.
When those who had emigrated to Abyssinia heard that all the people of Mecca had accepted Islam, they returned to their clans, saying, "They are more dear to us"; but they found that the people had reversed their decision when God canceled what Satan had cast upon the messenger of God's tongue.
Additional evidence supporting the authenticity of this story includes Muslim historians and commentators such as Salama, al-Waqidi, al-Zamakhshari, al-Jalalyn (commentary, p. 282), al-Suyuti (Asbab al-Nuzul, p. 184), al-Baidawi (commentary, p. 447), Ibn Hisham (Prophetic Biography, pt. 2, p. 126) and Ibn Ishaq (Sirat Rasulullah-Life of Muhammad, trans. Alfred Guillaume, pp.119-127) affirm the reliability of this story. In fact, indirect corroboration for what is now referred to as the "Satanic Verses" comes from Sahih al-Bukhari, considered the premiere collection of traditions on Muhammad's life and words:
Narrated Ibn Abbas: The Prophet performed a prostration when he finished reciting Surat-an-Najm (i.e. Sura 53), and all the Muslims and pagans and Jinns and human beings prostrated along with him. (Volume 6, Number 385; see also vol. 2, no.173)
The only way for hostile pagans to bow alongside Muhammad and the Muslims is if the satanic injunction to call upon the pagan goddesses for intercession was originally part of this Sura. Otherwise, this tradition makes absolutely no sense at all. Additional support for the authenticity of the "Satanic Verses" comes from the Quran itself:
"If a suggestion from Satan assails thy mind, seek refuge with God; for he heareth and knoweth (all things)." S. 7:200
Yusuf Ali says regarding this passage:
Even the Prophet of Allah is but human. He might think that revenge or retaliation, or a little tactful silence when evil stalks abroad, or some compromise with ignorance, might be best for the cause. He is to reject such suggestions. (Ali, fn. 1171; ALIM CD-ROM Version)
Another passage from the Quran:
And We have sent before thee no messenger or prophet but as he recited (a portion of the message) Satan cast forth (suggestions) in respect of the recital. Then Allah abolishes what Satan casts forth, and Allah continues His revelations; and Allah is Knowing, Wise. S. 22:52 Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi (2 volume set)
Here is Al-Zamakhshari's note on S. 22:52 taken Helmut Gätje's The Qur'an and its Exegesis, Routledge and Keagan Paul, London UK 1976, p. 53-55:
The faithful rendering of the revelation Zamakhshari on Sura 22:52/51
We have never sent any messenger of prophet before thee, but that Satan cast into his fancy, when he was fancying; but God annuls what Satan casts, then God confirms His signs - surely God is All-knowing, All-wise...
The occasion of the sending down of the present verse is the following: As the members of the tribe of the messenger of God turned away from him and took their stand against him and his relatives also opposed him and refused to be guided by what he brought to them, then, as a result of the extreme exasperation concerning their estrangement and as a result of the eager desire and longing that they be converted to Islam, the messenger of God sheltered the wish that nothing would come down to him that could make them shy away. Perhaps he should have been able to use that for the purpose of converting them and causing them to be dissuaded from their error and obstinacy. Now this wish continued in him until the sura called "The Star" (that is, Sura 53) came down. At that time he found himself with this wish in his heart regarding the members of his tribe. Then he began to recite, and when he came to God's words "and Manat, the third, the other" (Sura53:20), Satan substituted something in accordance with the wish which the messenger of God had sheltered, that is, he whispered something to him which would enable the messenger to announce his wish. In an inadvertent and misleading manner, his tongue hurried on ahead of him, so that he said: "These (goddesses are the) exalted cranes. Their intercession (with God) is to be hoped for" ... Yet, the messenger of God was not clear at this point until the protection of God "isma" reached him and he then became attentive again.
Some say that Gabriel drew his attention to it, or that Satan himself spoke those words and brought them to the people's hearing. As soon as the messenger of God prostrated (for prayer) as the end of the sura, all who were present did it with him and felt pleased (that is, the unbelievers felt pleased that their goddesses had been accepted as intercessors with God).
The Quran continues:
And their purpose was to tempt thee away from that which We had revealed unto thee, to substitute in Our name something quite different: (In that case), behold! They would certainly have made thee (their) friend! And had We not given thee strength, thou wouldst nearly have inclined to them a little. S. 17:73-74
The only record of Muhammad inclining to the pagans is the case of the satanic verses.
When God, the One and Only, Is mentioned, the hearts Of those who believe not In the Hereafter are filled With disgust and horror; But when (gods) other than He Are mentioned, behold, They are filled with joy. S. 39:45 A. Yusuf Ali
"Al-Tabari, commenting on Sura al-Zumar 39:45 said that this verse was given due to the recitation of Sura al-Najm 53 at the Ka'ba, when the idolaters rejoiced at Muhammad mentioning their idols." (True Guidance, pt. 5, Comments on Quranic Verses [Light of Life, P.O. Box 13, A-9503 Villach, Austria], p. 216)
The final evidence that supports the story's authenticity is that the verses in question flow more smoothly within the Sura itself than do the current passages found today. One author states, "In style and in rhythm the two Satanic lines fit admirably into the original Sura" (Tor Andrae, Mohammed: The Man and his Faith [New York; Charles Scribner's Sons, 1936], p. 21)
One common Muslim response is to suggest that it would have been impossible for Muhammad to have recited these verses as part of the Quran for several years only to be abrogated later without Muslims having been aware of its presence.
In response to this assertion Muslims were very well aware of its presence as the examples above demonstrate. Furthermore, the verses were not abrogated several years later, but on the very same day that they had been recited by Muhammad as reported by Ibn Sa'd. Author John Bagot Glubb notes:
"Tabari, however, who mentions the Satanic verses, seems to suggest that Muhammad repented of the compromise the same day." (Glubb, The Life and Times of Muhammad [London, UK.; Hodder & Stoughton, 1979], p. 128; emphasis ours)
Therefore, there are no convincing arguments to refute the passage's authenticity, while there is plenty to support its genuineness. We are also told by the hadith that Muhammad was bewitched:
"Narrated Aisha: Once the Prophet was bewitched so that he began to imagine that he had done a thing which in fact he had not." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Number 400)
In fact, according to the Islamic traditions Suras 113 and 114 were revealed to set Muhammad free from a spell put on him a by Jew:
Magic was worked on Allah's Apostle so that he used to think that he had sexual relations with his wives while he actually had not (Sufyan said: That is the hardest kind of magic as it has such an effect). Then one day he said, "O 'Aisha do you know that Allah has instructed me concerning the matter I asked Him about? Two men came to me and one of them sat near my head and the other sat near my feet. The one near my head asked the other. 'What is wrong with this man?' The latter replied he is under the effect of magic. The first one asked, 'Who has worked magic on him?' The other replied 'Labid bin Al-A'sam, a man from Bani Zuraiq who was an ally of the Jews and was a hypocrite.' The first one asked, 'What material did he use?' The other replied, 'A comb and the hair stuck to it.' The first one asked, 'Where (is that)?' The other replied: 'In a skin of pollen of a male date palm tree kept under a stone in the well of Dharwan'." So the Prophet went to that well and took out those things and said, "That was the well which was shown to me (in a dream). It's water looked like the infusion of Henna leaves and its date-palm trees looked like the heads of devils." The Prophet added, "Then that thing was taken out." I said (to the Prophet ) "Why do you not treat yourself with Nashra?" He said, "Allah has cured me; I dislike to let evil spread among my people." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 71, Number 660; see also Number 661)
Again, how can a true prophet of God succumb to witchcraft and curses in the first place? He simply cannot and this is why Muhammad is not a true prophet. The Holy Bible emphatically teaches:
"There is no sorcery against Jacob, no divination against Israel. It will now be said of Jacob and of Israel, 'See what God has done!'" Numbers 23:23
"The seventy-two returned with joy and said, 'Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.' He replied, 'I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; NOTHING WILL HARM YOU. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.'" Luke 10:17-20
Muhammad clearly failed this biblical test.
Christian Apologist Jochen Katz notes what implications the Satanic Verses has on the credibility of Muhammad's prophethood and on the alleged miraculous nature of the Quran:
Muslim authorities admit that Muhammad was at one time inspired by Satan to put some verses into the Qur'an. Some time later, upon receiving further revelation from Jibril, that those verses were not from God, but interjected by Satan, they were removed again. The Qur'an reports about it in Surah 22:52
Never sent We a messenger or a prophet before thee but when He recited (the message) Satan proposed (opposition) in respect of that which he recited thereof. But Allah abolisheth that which Satan proposeth. Then Allah establisheth His revelations. Allah is Knower, Wise;
This means Satan was able to interfere with Muhammad's revelation and create some verses in praise of the idols al-Lat, al-Uzza and Manat, [see Sura 53:19-20], calling them "al-Gharaniq al-ula", "the high birds". He later annulled this (see Asbab al-Nuzul by al-Wahidi; chapter on why Sura al-Hajj was revealed).
It seems that Satan was able to inspire some verses and nobody realized it until Allah pointed it out by giving further revelation. This means in particular: there was no "inferior language" in those verses which came from Satan in comparison to those which came (supposedly) from Allah because Muhammad didn't realize it at the time.
The Qur'an states:
"And if you all are in doubt about what I have revealed to My servant, bring a single sura like it, and call your witnesses besides Allah if you are truthful." (2:23)
and specifically includes the jinn in the challenge:
"Say: If all mankind and the jinn would come together to produce the like of this Qur'an, they could not produce its like even though they exerted all and their strength in aiding one another." (17:88)
According to the Qur'an, Satan is one of the jinn. We have learned that he gave revelation which Muhammad recited as being divine Qur'an. This revelation was sufficiently "like it" because Muhammad himself was not able to recognize that those verses were from Satan instead of from God. He was not able to distinguish those verses from the rest of the Qur'an based on their language. Instead, he needed another revelation from God to be informed about the falsehood of the former.
This incident has several implications. The challenge of the Qur'an to "bring a surah like it" was actually met by those satanic verses in Muhammad's own time, which in turn leads to the conclusion that the rest of the Qur'an is not from God either.
Some might want to respond with the argument that these satanic verses are "not long enough" to be counted as a whole sura as the Qur'an demands. This is a rather weak argument based on quantity instead of quality since such a response already acknowledges that the verses meet the criterion to be "like the Qur'an". If the Qur'an had contained a sura as short as these verses, you would not have rejected to believe it based on brevity. How do you know what is the minimum length for a possible sura?
For those who do not want to accept that these verses meet the challenge in a qualitative way, and who claim that they know with their "feeling for good Arabic", that these are inferior to the Qur'an, we respond that they apparently claim to know Arabic better, and that they have a better grasp on how to evaluate a sura than even Muhammad himself, who could not distinguish the fake from the real on the basis of language features. (Source: The Satanic Verses and their implications for the Miracle of the Qur'an)
(NOTE- We recommend the following comprehensive in-depth article documenting the early Islamic evidence supporting the historical veracity of the Satanic Verses)
The Quran Borrowing Ancient Fables of The Arabs
Of them there are some who (pretend to) listen to thee; but We have thrown veils on their hearts, So they understand it not, and deafness in their ears; if they saw every one of the Signs, they will not believe in them; in so much that when they come to thee, they (but) dispute with thee; the Unbelievers say: "These are nothing but TALES OF ANCIENTS." S. 6:25
When Our Signs are rehearsed to them, they say: "We have heard this (before): if we wished, we could say (words) like these: these are nothing but TALES OF ANCIENTS." S. 8:31
When it is said to them, "What is it that your Lord has revealed?" they say, "TALES OF ANCIENTS!" S. 16:24
"Such things have been promised to us and to our fathers before! they are nothing but TALES OF ANCIENTS!" S. 23:83
And they say: "TALES OF ANCIENTS, which he has caused to be written: and they are dictated before him morning and evening." S. 25:5
"It is true we were promised this,- we and our fathers before (us): these are nothing but TALES OF ANCIENTS." S. 27:68
But (there is one) who says to his parents, "Fie on you! Do ye hold out the promise to me that I shall be raised up, even though generations have passed before me (without rising again)?" And they two seek Allah's aid, (and rebuke the son): "Woe to thee! Have faith! For the promise of Allah is true." But he says, "This is nothing but TALES OF ANCIENTS!" S. 46:17
When to him are rehearsed Our Signs, "TALES OF ANCIENTS", he cries! S. 68:15
When Our Signs are rehearsed to him, he says, "TALES OF ANCIENTS!" S. 83:13
According to the Quran, Solomon had animals under his control and actually would have conversations with them much like the way humans do:
"And there were gathered together unto Solomon his armies of the jinn and humankind, and of the birds, and they were set in battle order; Till, when they reached the Valley of the Ants, an ant exclaimed: O ants! Enter your dwellings lest Solomon and his armies crush you, unperceiving. And (Solomon) smiled, laughing at her speech, and said: My Lord, arouse me to be thankful for Thy favour wherewith Thou hast favoured me and my parents, and to do good that shall be pleasing unto Thee, and include me in (the number of) Thy righteous slaves. And he sought among the birds and said: How is it that I see not the hoopoe, or is he among the absent? I verily will punish him with hard punishment or I verily will slay him, or he verily shall bring me a plain excuse. But he was not long in coming, and he said: I have found out (a thing) that thou apprehendest not, and I come unto thee from Sheba with sure tidings. Lo! I found a woman ruling over them, and she hath been given (abundance) of all things, and hers is a mighty throne. I found her and her people worshipping the sun instead of Allah; and Satan maketh their works fairseeming unto them, and debarreth them from the way (of Truth), so that they go not aright; So that they worship not Allah, Who bringeth forth the hidden in the heavens and the earth, and knoweth what ye hide and what ye proclaim..." S. 27:17-25
Muslim Muhammad Asad must allegorize this passage since he was seemingly aware of the difficulty in viewing this historically:
"In this instance, Solomon evidently refers to his own understanding and admiration of nature (cf. 38:31-33 and the corresponding notes) as well as to his loving compassion for the humblest of God's creatures, as a great divine blessing: and this is the Qur'anic moral of the LEGENDARY story of the ant." (Asad, The Message of the Qur'an [Dar Al-Andalus Limited 3 Library Ramp, Gibraltar rpt. 1993], p. 578, fn. 17)
Now compare this fable with the credible historical version of the Holy Bible:
"God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. Solomon's wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the men of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. He was wiser than any other man, including Ethan the Ezrahite-wiser than Heman, Calcol and Darda, the sons of Mahol. And his fame spread to all the surrounding nations. He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five. He described plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls He also taught about animals and birds, reptiles and fish. Men of all nations came to listen to Solomon's wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom." 1 Kings 4:29-34
The Quran even claims that both the winds and jinns (demons) were subservient to Solomon:
"And to Solomon (We subjected) the wind strongly raging, running by his command towards the land which We had blessed. And of everything We are the All-Knower. And of the Shayâtin (devils) (from the jinns) were some who dived for him, and did other work besides that; and it was We Who guarded them." S. 21:81-82
"So, We subjected to him the wind, it blew gently to his order whithersoever he willed, And also the Shayâtin (devils) from the jinns (including) every kind of builder and diver, And also others bound in fetters. [Saying of Allâh to Solomon]: 'This is Our gift, so spend you or withhold, no account will be asked'." S. 38:36-39
Ibn Kathir in his commentary on Solomon 's control over the winds states that Solomon was using the wind to travel by a flying carpet!
Muslim Alhassan Albasri claimed:
Solomon was traveling on his carpet from Damascus to have lunch in "Istcher", then he moved from there to Kabel to spend the night. Between Damascus and Istcher a month traveling for the one that is traveling fast. And between Istcher and Kabel a month traveling for the one who is traveling fast.
Muhammad Asad states:
"In this as well as in several other passages relating to Solomon, the Qur'an alludes to many POETIC LEGENDS which were associated with his name since early antiquity and had become part and parcel of Judeo-Christian and Arabian lore long before the advent of Islam. Although it is undoubtedly possible to interpret such passages in a 'rationalistic' manner, I do not think that this is really necessary. Because they were so deeply ingrained in the imagination of the people to whom the Qur'an addressed itself in the first instance, these legendary accounts of Solomon's wisdom and magic powers had acquired a cultural reality of their own and were, therefore, eminently suited to serve as a medium for the parabolic exposition of certain ethical truths with which this book is concerned: and so, without denying or confirming their MYTHICAL character, the Qur'an uses them as a foil for the idea that God is the ultimate source of all human power and glory, and that all achievements of human ingenuity, even though they may sometimes border on the miraculous, are but an expression of His transcendental creativity." (Asad, op. cit., p. 498, fn. 77)
Another Quranic fable includes S. 18:9-23, 25-26 and the Story of the Sleepers of the Cave. According to this tale, several youths and their dog fled to a cave where according to one version of the story they slept for 309 years.
Once again, here is Asad:
"... We may, therefore, safely assume that the LEGEND of the Men of the Cave- stripped of its Christian garb and the superimposed Christian background- is, substantially, of Jewish origin... But whatever the source of this LEGEND, and irrespective of whether it is of Jewish or Christian origin, the fact remains that it is used in the Qur'an IN A PURELY PARABOLIC SENSE: namely, as an illustration of God's power to bring about death (or 'sleep') and resurrection (or 'awakening'); and, secondly, as an ALLEGORY of the piety that induces men to abandon a wicked or frivolous world in order to keep their faith unsullied, and of God's recognition of that faith by His bestowal of a spiritual awakening which transcends time and death." (Ibid., p. 439, fn. 7)
"The future tense in sayaqulun points once again to the LEGENDARY character of the story as such, and implies that all speculation about its details is irrelevant to its parabolic, ethical purport." (Ibid., p. 442, fn. 31)
In fact, Asad often points out the fact that many of the Quranic tales are legendary, mythical. Note the following comments:
Asad on S. 2:102
"... At any rate, it is certain that from very ancient times Babylon was reputed to be the home of magic arts, symbolized un the LEGENDARY persons- perhaps kings- Harut and Marut; and it is to this LEGEND that the Qur'an refers with a view to condemning every attempt at magic and sorcery, as well as all preoccupation with occult sciences in general." (Ibid., p. 22, fn. 83)
Asad on S. 2:259
"... The story told in this verse is obviously a PARABLE meant to illustrate God's power to bring the dead back to life The speculation of some of the earlier commentators as to the 'identity' of the man and the town mentioned in this story are without any substance, and may have been influenced by TALMUDIC LEGENDS." (Ibid., p. 58, fn. 253)
Asad on S. 18:50
"... This short reference to the oft-repeated ALLEGORY of God's commands to the angels to 'prostrate themselves before Adam' is meant, in the above context, to stress man's inborn faculty of conceptual thinking ..." (Ibid., p. 446, fn. 52)
"... As regards Satan's SYMBOLIC 'rebellion' against God, see notes 26 on 2:34 and note 31 on 15:41." (Ibid., p. 447, fn. 55)
When we turn to Asad's notes to S. 2:34-35 on the story of Adam, Eve and the Garden something interesting emerges:
"... Lit., 'the garden'. There is a considerable difference of opinion among the commentators as to what is meant here by 'garden'; a garden in the earthly sense, or the paradise that awaits the righteous in the life to come, or some special garden in the heavenly region? According to some of the earliest commentators (see Manar I, 277), an earthly abode is here alluded to- namely, an environment of perfect ease, happiness and innocence. In any case, this story of Adam is OBVIOUSLY one of the ALLEGORIES referred to in 3:7." (Ibid., p. 9, fn. 27)
"... As in the parallel account of this parable of the Fall in 2:35-36, the dual form of the address changes at this stage into the plural, thus connecting once again with verse 10 and the beginning of verse 11 of this surah, and making it clear that the story of Adam and Eve is, in reality, an ALLEGORY of human destiny In this deeper sense, the ALLEGORY of the Fall does not describe a retrogressive happening but, rather, a new stage of human development " (Ibid., p. 205, fn. 16)
Asad on S. 18:60
"... In this instance, it evidently marks a connection, with verse 54 above ('many facets have We given in this Qur'an to every kind of lesson [designed] for [the benefit of] mankind'), and introduces an ALLEGORY meant to illustrate the fact that knowledge, and particularly spiritual knowledge, is inexhaustible... The subsequent PARABLE of Moses and his quest for knowledge (verses 60-82) has become, in the course of time, the nucleus of INNUMERABLE LEGENDS with which we are not concerned here... There is no doubt that this Tradition is a kind of ALLEGORICAL introduction to our Qur'anic PARABLE... As for the 'junction of the two seas', which many of the early commentators endeavored to 'identify' in geographical terms (ranging from the meeting of the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean at the Bab al-Mandab to that of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean at the Straits of Gibraltar), Baydawi offers, in his commentary on verse 60, a purely ALLEGORICAL explanation " (Ibid., pp. 448-449, fn. 67)
"... In the Tradition on the authority of Ubayy ibn Ka'b (referred to in note 67) this mysterious sage is spoken of as Al-Khadir or Al-Khidr, meaning 'the Green One'. Apparently this is an epithet rather than a name, implying (according to popular LEGEND) that his wisdom was ever-fresh ('green') and imperishable: a notion which bears out the assumption that we have here an ALLEGORIC FIGURE symbolizing the utmost depth of mystic insight accessible to man." (Ibid., p. 449, fn. 73)
Asad is not alone in acknowledging that the Quran contains ancient tales of the Arabs and of the Judeo-Christian communities. Abdullah Yusuf Ali, in his famous translation of the Quran, also acknowledges this fact.
Ali On S. 2:55
"... We have hitherto had instances from Jewish traditional Taurat (or Pentateuch). Now we have some instances from Jewish traditions in the Talmud, or body of exposition in the Jewish theological schools..." (Ali, The Holy Qur'an - Translation and Commentary, p. 30, fn. 70)
Ali On S. 2:60
"... The gushing twelve springs from a rock evidently refers to a LOCAL TRADITION well known to Jews and Arabs in Al-Mustafa's time ... The Jewish Tradition would be based on Exod. xvii. 6: ‘Thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it that the people may drink.’ ..." (Ibid., p. 32, fn. 73)
Ali On Jews fishing on the Sabbath Day
"... There must have been a Jewish tradition about a whole fishing community in sea side town, which persisted in breaking the Sabbath and were turned into apes ..." (Ibid., p. 34, fn. 79)
Ali On Abraham being tossed in the Fire
"... traditionally the fire incident is referred to a king called Nimrud... if Nimrud 's capital was in Assyria, near Ninevah (site near modern Mosul), we may suppose either that the king 's rule extended over the whole of Mesopotamia, or that Abraham wandered north through Babylonia to Assyria." (Ibid., p. 837, fn. 2725)
"... Can we localize Nimrud? If LOCAL TRADITION can be relied upon, the king must have ruled over the tract which includes the modern Nimrud, on the Tigris, about twenty miles south of Mosul. This is the site of the Assyrian ruins of great interest, but the rise of Assyria as an empire was of course much later than the time of Abraham. The Assyrian city Kalakh (Calah), and archaeological excavations carried out there have yielded valuable results, which are however irrelevant for our commentary." (Ibid., p. 533, fn. 1565)
"... In Arab tradition there is the story of Abraham. Nimrud tries to burn him to death, but on account of Abraham's faith the fire became a means of safety for Abraham ..." (Ibid., p. 1714, fn. 6055)
The late Syed Abu-Ala' Maududi concedes the fact that the Quranic story of the drowning of the Pharaoh at S. 10:90-91 finds parallels in the Talmud:
"... Though this is not mentioned in the Bible, it is explicitly recorded in the Talmud in the following words: 'Who is like Thee, O Lord, among the gods?'" (Towards Understanding the Qur'an - Vol. IV, Surahs 10-16, an english translation of Tafhim al-Qur'an by Zafar Ishaq, assisted by A.R. Kidwai [The Islamic Foundation (printed and bound in Great Britain by the Cromwell Press), rpt. 1999], p. 63, fn. 91)
We conclude this section with the words of Faruq Sherif:
Some Legendary Figures
In the course of developing its teachings, the Qur'an frequently cites the example not of prophets and sages of ancient times, but also of some LEGENDARY, MYTHICAL or even FICTITIOUS persons. Chief among these is Khidr, the Evergreen who, though not mentioned by name, is recognised as the mysterious person (the possessor of divinely-inspired knowledge of the secret sources of life) whom Moses met on his ALLEGORICAL journey... Another LEGEND prominently described in the Qur'an is that of the 'seven sleepers' or the 'Companions of the Cave' also mentioned in another section of this book. In this connection mention is made of the angels Harut and Marut who taught magic at Babylon, but warned the people that the teaching was imparted to them only to try them. In the commentaries of the Qur'an Harut and Marut have been identified with the two fallen angels of Jewish tradition who, having sinned on earth, were hung by their feet over a well for punishment.
A summary is given below of the contents of the Qur'an relating to three LEGENDARY figures: Dhulqarnain, Luqman, Qarun. A section is also included on Pharaoh who, although a historical person, often appears in the Qur'an as an archetype for autocracy. The experiences or characteristics of these MYTHICAL or SEMI-MYTHICAL figures are included to serve a salutary example or a dissuasive lesson to believers." (Sherif, A Guide to the Contents of the Qur'an [Garnet Publishing, 8 South Court South Street, Reading, RG1 4QS UK, 1995], pp. 94-95)
Need we say more?
This concludes this section. Continue with Part 4.
Responses to Zakir Naik
Further articles by Sam Shamoun
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