Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Muhammad and His Prophethood

Reexamining Some of the Reasons
Why He cannot be a true Prophet of God - Part 1

Sam Shamoun

Muslim dawagandist Sami Zaatari has written a series of “replies” to my article providing six reasons why Muhammad could not be a true prophet of God.

I will begin this series of replies by responding to a portion of Zaatari’s attempt (*) to defend the story of Muhammad’s night journey where he supposedly traveled to and visited the Temple in Jerusalem, even though no such Temple existed at that time!

But before I jump into my rebuttal I would first like to take a look at the passage that is used to prove Muhammad’s night journey in order to highlight all the gross problems with that verse.

Muhammad Alleged Night Journey

Further proof for the incoherence and incompleteness of the Quran

The Quran claims to be a scripture whose verses are fully detail

A Book where of the Verses are explained in detail; A Qur'an in Arabic for people who know. S. 41:3 Hilali-Khan

A Book, the verses of which have been expounded in detail and which will be repeatedly read, couched in clear, eloquent language, for a people who have knowledge, Sher Ali

A scripture whose verses provide the complete details, in an Arabic Quran, for people who know. Rashad Khalifa

However a careful examination of the Quran shows that such is not the case since the Islamic writ fails to provide adequate information and details for many of its stories and injunctions. The following text which is used to establish Muhammad’s miraculous ascent by night is a case in point:

Glory to (Allah) Who did take His Servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque (Masjid al-Aqsa), whose precincts We did bless,- in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things). S. 17:1

Here are some of the many problems which this passage raises against the Quran’s assertion that its verses are fully detailed.

  1. The verse fails to identify who this servant is. Is this referring to Muhammad or to Moses who is actually mentioned later on in the context? Or is it referring to some other messenger or prophet?
  2. In fact, how do we even know that the servant in question was actually a prophet or messenger? Perhaps he was devout believer who saw a vision or dream.
  3. Where exactly are these mosques located? Where can we find Masjid al-Aqsa? Where is the exact location of the Sacred Mosque?

Can any Muslim answer these questions from the text of the Quran alone? If they are incapable of doing so wouldn’t this falsify the Quran’s assertion that all of its verses are fully detailed?

In light of this our challenge to Zaatari at this point is very simple. We want him to prove that the Quran is correct in claiming that its verses are fully detailed by using only the Islamic writ to answer all of the above questions. If he appeals to other sources then he will only be proving that the Quran is mistaken since it does not provide a thoroughly adequate explanation for all of its passages.

But these are the least of Zaatari’s problems.

Muhammad’s journey to the Temple of Jerusalem

The only way that Zaatari (or any other dawagandist) can even answer these questions is by turning to the sirah and/or hadith literature. However, these sources actually prove that the Quran is grossly mistaken and that Muhammad was a false prophet who deceived people by his false dreams and visions which he claimed were from God.

According to the Islamic literature the farthest Mosque is actually the Temple of Jerusalem, which is called Bayt ul-Muqaddas in Arabic:

Muhammad Ibn 'Umar al-Aslami informed us; he said: Usamah Ibn Zayd al-Laythi related to me on the authority of 'Amr Ibn Shu'ayb, he on the authority of his father, he on the authority of his ('Amr's) grand-father; (second chain) he (Ibn Sa'd) said: Musa Ibn Ya'qub al-Zam'i related to me on the authority of his father, he on the authority of his (Musa's) grandfather, he on the authority of Umm Salamah; (third chain) Musa said: Abu al-Aswad related to me on the authority of 'Urwah, he on the authority of 'Ayishah; (fourth chain) Muhammad Ibn 'Umar said: Ishaq Ibn Hazim related to me on the authority of Wahb Ibn Kaysan, he on the authority of Abu Murrah the mawla of 'Aqil, he on the authority of Umm Hani daughter of Abu Talib (fifth chain) he (Ibn Sa'd) said: 'Abd Allah Ibn Ja'far related to me on the authority of Zakariya Ibn 'Amr, he on the authority of Abu Mulaykah, he on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas and others; their consolidated narrations are: The Apostle of Allah, was taken by night on the seventeenth night of First Rabi' before Hijrah, and one year before the blockade in the mountain pass of Abu Talib, to Bayt al-Muqaddas. The Apostle of Allah said: I was mounted on a beast whose size was between a donkey and a mule, with two wings in its thighs, which came up to its hoofs and were set in them. When I went near it to ride, it became restive. Thereupon Gabriel placed his hand on its head and said: O Buraq! are you not ashamed of what you are doing? By Allah no servant of Allah has ridden you before Muhammad, more honoured in the sight of Allah. It felt ashamed till it was covered with sweat, and became calm; then I mounted it. It moved its ears, and the earth shrank to such an extent that its hoofs (seemed to touch its surface) at the end of the range of our sight. It had a long back and long ears. Gabriel accompanied me and he never lost touch with me nor did I till we reached Bayt al-Muqaddas; and al-Buraq reached its halting place. It was tied there and it was the place where the beasts… of the Prophets were tied before the Apostle of Allah. He (the Prophet) said: I saw the Prophets who had assembled there for me. I saw Abraham, Moses and Jesus and, I thought there must be some one to lead them (in prayers); Gabriel made me go forward till I offered prayers in front of them and inquired from them (about their mission). They said: We were commissioned with Unity (of Allah).

Some of them (narrators) said: The Prophet had disappeared that night, so the members of family of 'Abd al-Muttalib went out to search him. Al-'Abbas went to Dhu Tuwa and began to shout: O Muhammad! O Muhammad! The Apostle of Allah said: I am here. He said: O my brother's son! You have worried the people since the (beginning of the) night, where had you been? He said: I am coming from Bayt al-Muqaddas. He said: In one night? He said: Yes. He said: Did you experience anything which was not good? He said: I did not experience anything but good. Umm Hani said: He was taken on this journey from our house. He slept that night with us; he offered al-'Isha prayers, and then he slept. When it was pre-dawn we awoke him (to offer) morning (prayers). He got up and when he offered morning prayers he said: O Umm Hani! I offered al'Isha prayers with you as you witnessed, then I reached Bayt Al-Muqaddas and offered prayers there; then I offered morning prayers before you. After this he got up to go out; I said to him: Do not relate this to the people because they will belie you and harm you. He said: By Allah I shall relate to them and inform them. They wondered at it and said: We have never heard a thing like this. The Apostle of Allah said to Gabriel; O Gabriel! my people will not confirm it. He said: Abu Bakr will testify to it; and he is al-Siddiq. The narrator added: Many people who had embraced Islam and offered prayers went astray. (The Prophet continued,) I stood at al-Hijr, visualised Bayt al-Muqaddas and described its signs. Some of them said: HOW MANY DOORS ARE THERE IN THAT MOSQUE? I HAD NOT COUNTED THEM SO I BEGAN TO LOOK AT IT AND COUNTED THEM ONE BY ONE AND GAVE THEM INFORMATION CONCERNING THEM. I also gave information about their caravan which was on the way and its signs. They found them as I had related. Allah, the Almighty, the Great, revealed: "We appointed the vision which We showed thee as an ordeal for mankind". He (Ibn Sa'd) said: It refers to the vision of the eye which he saw with the eye. (Ibn Sa'ad, Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir, English translation by S. Moinul Haq, M.A., PH.D assisted by H.K. Ghazanfar M.A. [Kitab Bhavan Exporters & Importers, 1784 Kalan Mahal, Daryaganj, New Delhi - 110 002 India], Volume I, pp. 246-248; bold and capital emphasis ours)


Ziyad b. 'Abdullah al-Bakka'i from Muhammad b. Ishaq told me the following: Then the apostle was carried by night from the mosque at Mecca to the Masjid al-Aqsa WHICH IS THE TEMPLE OF AELIA, when Islam had spread in Mecca among the Quraysh and all the tribes… His companion (Gabriel) went with him to see the wonders between heaven and earth, UNTIL HE CAME TO JERUSALEM'S TEMPLE… In his story al-Hasan said: "The apostle and Gabriel went their way until they arrived AT THE TEMPLE AT JERUSALEM”… (The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Oxford University Press, Karachi, Tenth impression 1995], pp. 181, 182; bold and capital emphasis ours)

The renowned Muslim commentator Ibn Kathir writes:

<from Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa> means the Sacred House which is in Jerusalem, the origin of the Prophets from the time of Ibraham Al-Khalil. The Prophets all gathered there, and he (Muhammad) led them in prayer in their own homeland. This indicates that he is the greatest leader of all, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and upon them. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 17:1; bold emphasis ours)

Ibn Kathir narrates some hadiths to confirm this point:

The Report of Jabir bin `Abdullah

Imam Ahmad recorded that Jabir bin `Abdullah said that he heard the Messenger of Allah say…

<<(When Quraysh did not believe that I had been taken on the Night Journey to Bayt Al-Maqdis, I stood up in Al-Hijr and Allah displayed Bayt Al-Maqdis before me, so I told them about its features while I was looking at it.>> This was also reported in the Two Sahihs with different chains of narration. According to Al-Bayhaqi, Ibn Shihab said: Abu Salamah bin `Abdur-Rahman said: Some people from Quraish went to Abu Bakr and said, “Have you heard what your companion is saying He is claiming that he went to Bayt Al-Maqdis and came back to Makkah in one night!” Abu Bakr said, “Did he say that?” They said, “Yes.” Abu Bakr said, “Then I bear witness that if he said that, he is speaking the truth.” They said, "You believe that he went to Ash-Sham [Greater Syria] in one night and came back to Makkah before morning'' He said, “Yes, I believe him with regard to something even more than that. I believe him with regard to the revelation that comes to him from heaven.” Abu Salamah said, from then on Abu Bakr was known as As-Siddiq (the true believer). (Source)


I remember being in Al-Hijr, and the Quraysh were asking me about my Night Journey. They asked me things about Bayt Al-Maqdis that I was not sure of, and I felt more anxious and stressed then than I have ever felt. Then Allah raised up Bayt Al-Maqdis for me to see, and there was nothing they asked me about but I told them about it. And I remember being in a gathering of the Prophets. Musa was standing there praying, and he was a man with curly hair, as if he were one of the men of Shanu'ah. I saw 'Isa ibn Maryam standing there praying, and the one who most resembles him is 'Urwah bin Mas'ud Ath-Thaqafi. And I saw Ibrahim standing there praying, and for the one who most resembles him is your companion (meaning himself). Then the time for prayer came, and I led them in prayer. When I finished, a voice said, 'O Muhammad, this is Malik, the keeper of Hell,' so I turned to him, and he greeted me first. (Source; bold emphasis ours)


“… The truth is that the Prophet was taken on the Night Journey when he was awake, not in a dream, and he went from Makkah to Bayt Al-Maqdis riding on Al-Buraq. When he reached THE DOOR OF THE SANCTUARY, he tied up his animal by THE DOOR AND ENTERED, where he prayed two Rakahs to 'greet the Masjid'…

Then he came back down to Bayt Al-Maqdis, and the Prophets came down with him and he led them in prayer there when the time for prayer came. Some claim that he led them in prayer in heaven, but the reports seem to say that it was in Bayt Al-Maqdis. In some reports it says that it happened when he first ENTERED

Then he came OUT OF BAYT AL-MAQDIS and rode on Al-Buraq back to Makkah in the darkness of the night. As for his being presented with the vessels containing milk and honey, or milk and wine, or milk and water, or all of these, some reports say that this happened in Bayt Al-Maqdis, and others say that it happened in the heavens. It is possible that it happened in BOTH places, because it is like offering food or drink to a guest when he arrives, and Allah knows best.” (Source; bold and capital emphasis ours)

The problem with these fables is that the first Temple was built by Solomon and subsequently destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian armies in 586 BC. Furthermore, general Titus and his Roman soldiers leveled the Second Temple in AD. 70, more than five centuries before this alleged night journey to Jerusalem took place. Moreover, the place that was eventually called Masjid al-Aqsa did not come into existence until AD. 690-691 when ‘Abd al-Malik bin Marwan built it (or, as some believe, reconstructed and expanded it). As the late Muslim translator and commentator Abdullah Yusuf Ali states in his footnote 2168,

The Farthest Mosque must refer to the site of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem on the hill of Moriah, at or near which stands the Dome of the Rock, called also the Mosque of Hadhrat ‘Umar. This and the Mosque known as the Farthest Mosque (Masjid-ul-Aqsa) were completed by the Amir ‘Abd-ul-Malik in A.H. 68. Farthest because it was the place of worship farthest west which was known to the Arabs in the time of the Holy Prophet: it was a sacred place to both Jews and Christians, but the Christians then had the upper hand, as it was included the Byzantine (Roman) Empire, which maintained a Patriarch at Jerusalem. The chief dates in connection with the Temple are: it was finished by Solomon about BC. 1004; destroyed by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar about 586 B.C.; rebuilt under Ezra and Nehemiah about 515 B.C.; turned into a heathen idol-temple by one of Alexander’s successors, Antiochus Epiphanes, 167 B.C.; restored by Herod, B.C. 17 to A.D. 29; and completely razed to the ground by the Emperor Titus in A.D. 70. These ups and downs are among the greater Signs in religious history. (Ali, The Qur'an: Text, Translation and Commentary (English and Arabic Edition) [Tahrike Tarsile Qur'an, Elmhurst NY: Hardcover Edition, January, 1987] p. 693; bold emphasis ours)


Zaatari sees the problem and therefore asks:

There is a very easy way to reconcile this problem, if THE temple of Jerusalem was there no more, then obviously the prophet visited ANOTHER temple!

Who says that the temple he went to has to be the same exact Jewish holy temple which was revered by the Jews?

The very same sources which Zaatari appeals to say that the Temple that Muhammad went to is the same exact one which the Jews revered!

Zaatari then asks:

Secondly, what's to say that God could not reconstruct the main Jewish temple for the prophet Muhammad on this specific event? The whole night journey is a miraculous event; hence it would not be a problem at all for God to reconstruct the temple for a short period so the prophet could go inside it and pray. Does Shamoun doubt God's powerful abilities?

The reason why this ad hoc explanation doesn’t work is because the Islamic sources testify that Muhammad described the Temple in order to convince the disbelievers that he had actually visited there:

Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah:

The Prophet said, "When the Quraish disbelieved me (concerning my night journey), I stood up in Al-Hijr (the unroofed portion of the Ka'ba) and Allah displayed Bait-ul-Maqdis before me, and I started to inform them (Quraish) about its signs while looking at it." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 233)


“… After this he got up to go out; I said to him: Do not relate this to the people because they will belie you and harm you. He said: By Allah I shall relate to them and inform them. They wondered at it and said: We have never heard a thing like this. The Apostle of Allah said to Gabriel; O Gabriel! my people will not confirm it. He said: Abu Bakr will testify to it; and he is al-Siddiq. The narrator added: Many people who had embraced Islam and offered prayers WENT ASTRAY. (The Prophet continued,) I stood at al-Hijr, visualised Bayt al-Muqaddas and described its signs. SOME OF THEM SAID: How man doors are there in that mosque? I had not counted them so I began to look at it and counted them one by one and gave them information concerning them. I also gave information about their caravan which was on the way and its signs. They found them as I had related. Allah, the Almighty, the Great, revealed: ‘We appointed the vision which We showed thee as an ordeal for mankind’. He (Ibn Sa'd) said: It refers to the vision of the eye which he saw with the eye.” (Ibn Sa'ad, Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir Volume I, p. 248; bold and capital emphasis ours)

The only way to make sense out of these reports is if we assume that the disbelievers were suppose to know what the Temple looked like since they would have seen it in their alleged travels to Jerusalem. Otherwise, Muhammad’s description of the Temple would make no sense and would fail to establish his case if the people he was speaking to had no idea what it looked like.

Zaatari himself indirectly sees this point since he later writes:

Moving on, if anyone does continue with the story one will find that the people around the prophet Muhammad who knew Jerusalem ADMITTED that his description of Jerusalem was accurate as well.

The only way they could admit that what Muhammad had said concerning the Temple was accurate is if they supposedly had gone to it and seen it for themselves.

Thus, how can a Temple which only appeared in Muhammad’s imagination be verified by people who knew Jerusalem when this Temple no longer existed in real time and space? If Zaatari is correct that Allah only reconstructed the Temple simply in Muhammad’s fantasy-laden mind then how could such information be used to establish his prophethood or confirm that he actually traveled to Jerusalem?

The only way to make sense out of all of these stories is if we assume that their compilers actually thought that the Jerusalem Temple was still standing during Muhammad’s time. However, they were grossly mistaken since no such Temple existed.

This leaves Zaatari with the troubling fact that his false prophet never visited Jerusalem nor did he ever see the Temple, let alone enter there to pray with God’s true prophets and messengers.(1)

But there is more to the story and there are other problems which Muslims such as Zaatari are faced with because of what these reports and the Quran say.

Which Temple did Muhammad actually visit?

According to the Islamic scripture Allah told the Israelites that they would spread corruption in the land twice. As a result of their mischief Allah sent people to punish them:

And We decreed for the Children of Israel in the Book: ‘You shall do corruption in the earth twice, and you shall ascend exceeding high.’ So, when the promise of the first of these came to pass, We sent against you servants of Ours, men of great might, and they went through the habitations, and it was a promise performed. Then We gave back to you the turn to prevail over them, and We succoured you with wealth and children, and We made you a greater host. ‘If you do good, it is your own souls you do good to, and if you do evil it is to them likewise.’ Then, when the promise of THE SECOND came to pass, We sent against you Our servants to discountenance you, and to enter the Temple, AS THEY ENTERED IT THE FIRST TIME, and to destroy utterly that which they ascended to. Perchance your Lord will have mercy upon you; but if you return, We shall return; and We have made Gehenna a prison for the unbelievers. S. 17:4-8

Needless to say, this particular surah raises a host of difficulties.

First off, the passage claims that when the Israelites committed mischief the second time Allah sent his servants to enter the Temple much like the people that Allah had sent previously entered it the first time the Israelites had acted corruptly. This assumes that the Temple wasn’t destroyed the first time around since if it was then the people who attacked the Israelites the second time could not have entered it, which raises a serious problem.

As we had previously noted, according to both Biblical and secular history the first time anyone came up against the Temple in Jerusalem was when the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar sent his armies to destroy it in 586 BC. The second time this happened was in 70 AD when the army of the Roman general Titus ransacked the second Temple. Moreover, the construction on this second Temple began only when the Jews returned to Jerusalem after their captivity in Babylon.

Thus, the people who attacked Jerusalem the second time around never saw the Temple which the first group that came up against the Israelites had seen! How, then, could the Quran claim that this second group of people entered the very same Temple which the first group that attacked the Israelites entered?

Or is the Islamic scripture actually referring to Antiochus Epiphanes IV or perhaps even Pompey, both of whom laid siege and entered the Temple without destroying it? If so then the same problem remains since neither ruler ever entered the first Temple since that had been destroyed by the Babylonians.

This also means that the Quran is mistaken on the number of times Israel’s enemies entered into their Temple since this happened at least four times by four different rulers.

Secondly, if the Muslim scripture is referring to either Pompey or Antiochus then does this imply that the author(s) of the Quran actually thought that Solomon’s Temple remained standing and was never destroyed? If so then would this not prove that the author(s) actually believed that the Temple which Allah took his servant to is none other than the very same Temple which Solomon built?

Yet this interpretation seems unlikely since the Quran seems to suggest that the Temple was destroyed by the second group that Allah had sent against the Israelites:

(And We said): “If you do good, you do good for your ownselves, and if you do evil (you do it) against yourselves.” Then, when the second promise came to pass, (We permitted your enemies) to make your faces sorrowful and to enter the mosque (of Jerusalem) as they had entered it before, and to destroy with utter destruction all that fell in their hands. S. 17:7 Hilali-Khan

If this is the meaning of the verse then this neither refers to Pompey nor Antiochus but must be speaking of Titus.

However, one cannot be too dogmatic since the verse doesn’t come out and say that Allah’s servants destroyed the Temple. It merely states that they destroyed whatever fell into their hands which may imply that they destroyed the land and the homes of the Israelites but left the Temple standing much like the first group did.

Or, is the Quran actually asserting that there weren’t two different groups that attacked the Temple but one and the same group did? Notice the text once again,

So when the time for the first of the two came, We roused against you slaves of Ours of great might who ravaged (your) country, and it was a threat performed. Then we gave you once again your turn against them, and We aided you with wealth and children and made you more in soldiery. (Saying): If ye do good, ye do good for your own souls, and if ye do evil, it is for them (in like manner). So, when the time for the second (of the judgments) came (We roused against you others of Our slaves) to ravage you, and to enter the Temple even AS THEY entered it the first time, and to lay waste all that they conquered with an utter wasting. S. 17:5-7 Pickthall

The statement, “even as they entered it the first time,” makes it sound as if the same servants or people came back again. At least there is no indication that the author of the Qur’an understood this to mean that DIFFERENT nations were sent to punish Israel.

This leads us to the other major difficulty with Muhammad’s supposed night journey.

Who actually built the Kabah?

Muhammad is reported to have believed that the first mosque that was built was the one in Mecca and that the “mosque” in Jerusalem was built forty years later:

Narrated Abu Dhar:

I said, "O Allah's Apostle! Which mosque was first built on the surface of the earth?” He said, "Al-Masjid-ul-Haram (in Mecca).” I said, “Which was built next?” He replied “The mosque of Al-Aqsa (in Jerusalem).” I said, “What was the period of construction between the two?” He said, “Forty years.” He added, "Wherever (you may be, and) the prayer time becomes due, perform the prayer there, for the best thing is to do so (i.e. to offer the prayers in time)." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 585)


Chapter 6. The Virtue Of Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa And Praying Therein

694. It was narrated from ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr that the Messenger of Allah said: “When Sulaiman bin Dawud finished building Bait Al-Maqdis, he asked Allah for three things: Judgment that was in harmony with His judgment, and he was given that. And he asked Allah for a dominion that no one after him would have, and he was given that. And when he finished building the Masjid, he asked Allah the Mighty and Sublime, that no one should come to it, intending only to pray there, but he would emerge free of sin as day his mother bore him.” (Sahih) (English Translation of Sunan An-Nasa’i - Compiled by Imam Hafiz Abu Abdur Rahman Ahmad bin Shu‘aib bin ‘Ali An-Nasa’i, Ahadith edited and referenced by Hafiz Abu Tahir Zubair 'Ali Za'i, translated by Nasiruddin al-Khattab (Canada), final review by Abu Khaliyl (USA) [Darussalam Publications and Distributors, First Edition: December 2007], Volume 1. From Hadith No. 01 to 876, 8. The Book of Masjids, p. 409)

The main difficulty with this assertion is that it places the erection of the Kabah at approximately 998 BC., since the construction of the first Temple was not completed by Solomon until BC. 951 (c.f. 1 Kings 6:1-7:51). However, the Quran implies that the Kabah was built by Abraham and Ishmael (we say imply because the Islamic scripture never identifies the place where Ishmael settled as Mecca):

Remember We made the House a place of assembly for men and a place of safety; and take ye the station of Abraham as a place of prayer; and We covenanted with Abraham and Isma'il, that they should sanctify My House for those who compass it round, or use it as a retreat, or bow, or prostrate themselves (therein in prayer). And remember Abraham said: "My Lord, make this a City of Peace, and feed its people with fruits, - such of them as believe in God and the Last Day." He said: "(Yea), and such as reject Faith, - for a while will I grant them their pleasure, but will soon drive them to the torment of Fire, - an evil destination (indeed)!" And remember Abraham and Isma'il raised the foundations of the House (With this prayer): "Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us: For Thou art the All-Hearing, the All-knowing. "Our Lord! make of us Muslims, bowing to Thy (Will), and of our progeny a people Muslim, bowing to Thy (will); and show us our place for the celebration of (due) rites; and turn unto us (in Mercy); for Thou art the Oft-Returning, Most Merciful. Our Lord! send amongst them an Apostle of their own, who shall rehearse Thy Signs to them and instruct them in scripture and wisdom, and sanctify them: For Thou art the Exalted in Might, the Wise." S. 2:125-129

This means that Abraham, Ishmael, David and Solomon were all contemporaries who lived around the same time!

In order to get around this blatant mistake of Muhammad’s Muslims have come up with a rather disingenuous explanation that neither Abraham nor Solomon initially built these places of worship. Rather, these prophets simply rebuilt them!

Chapter 7. Which Mosque Was Built First?

753. It was narrated that Abu Dharr Al-Ghifari said: "I said: 'O Messenger of Allah! Which mosque was built first?' He said: 'Al-Masjid Al-Haram (in Makkah).' I said: 'Then which?' He said: 'Then Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa (in Jerusalem).' I said: 'How many years between them?' He said: 'Forty years, but the whole earth is a mosque for you, so pray wherever you are when the time for prayer comes.'" (Sahih)


a. The reference here is to the building of the first mosque ever built in history, which was accomplished at the hands of Adam. As for the prophets Ibrahim and Isma’il they rebuilt after old marks had been erased. Similarly, Sulaiman was also not the first to build Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa. (English Translation of Sunan Ibn Majah - Compiled by Imam Muhammad Bin Yazeed Ibn Majah Al-Qazwini, Ahadith edited and referenced by Hafiz Abu Tahir Zubair 'Ali Za'i, translated by Nasiruddin al-Khattab (Canada), final review by Abu Khaliyl (USA) [Darussalam Publications and Distributors, First Edition: June 2007], Volume 1. From Hadith No. 01 to 802, (4) The Chapters On The Mosques And The Congregations, pp. 492-493; underline emphasis ours)

There is not a single shred of historical or archaeological proof that Solomon wasn’t the first person to build the Temple in Jerusalem. In case Zaatari disagrees we challenge him (or any other dawagandist for that matter) to provide some evidence to the contrary.

There is also absolutely no evidence that the Kabah was built by Adam. In fact, the Quran itself expressly affirms that it was Abraham and Ishmael who built the original structure of the Kabah.

Behold! We gave the site, to Abraham, of the (Sacred) House, (saying): “Associate not anything (in worship) with Me; and sanctify My House for those who compass it round, or stand up, or bow, or prostrate themselves (therein in prayer).” S. 22:26

Here is what Ibn Kathir says concerning this text:

Building of the Ka’bah and the Proclamation of the Hajj

This is a rebuke to those among Quraysh who worshipped others than Allah and joined partners with Him in the place which from the outset had been established on the basis of Tawhid and the worship of Allah Alone, with no partner or associate. Allah tells us that He showed Ibrahim the site of the `Atiq House, i.e., He guided him to it, entrusted it to him and granted him permission to build it. Many scholars take this as evidence to support the view that Ibrahim WAS THE FIRST ONE to build the House and that IT WAS NOT BUILT BEFORE HIS TIME… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir; capital emphasis ours)

But even this assertion is wrong since there is no proof whatsoever that Ishmael settled in Mecca or that Abraham ever visited there. As the following scholar explains:

“… Ishmael is considered the progenitor of the Arabs. Dagon (1981) has shown that this idea is an Islamic construction AND THAT NO CONNECTION BETWEEN ISHMAEL AND THE ARABS HAD EVER BEEN MADE IN THE PRE-ISLAMIC PERIOD. Already in the first Islamic century, however, Ishmael came to symbolize the Islamic Umma, and biblical passages about Ishmael were taken to refer to Muhammad, the Arabs, or the Muslim community.” (Camilla Adang, Muslim Writers on Judaism and the Hebrew Bible from Ibn Rabban to Ibn Hazm [E.J. Brill Academic Publishers; August 1997 ISBN: 9004100342], p. 147, fn. 37; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Noted Islamicist Alfred Guillaume agrees,

“… there is no historical evidence for the assertion that Abraham or Ishmael was ever in Mecca, and if there had been such a tradition it would have to be explained how all memory of the Old Semitic name Ishmael (which was not in its true Arabian form in Arabian inscriptions and written correctly with an initial consonant Y) came to be lost. The form in the Quran is taken either from Greek or Syriac sources.” (Alfred Guillaume, Islam [Penguin Books Inc., Baltimore, 1956], pp. 61-62)

Ibn Warraq, a former Muslim turned atheist, quotes specific authorities who also deny that Abraham or Ishmael were ever in Mecca,

We are told that [Abraham] was born in Chaldea, and that he was the son of a poor potter who earned his living by making little clay idols. It is scarcely credible that the son of this potter went to Mecca, 300 leagues away in the tropics, by way of impassable deserts. If he was a conqueror he no doubt aimed at the fine country of Assyria; and if he was only a poor man, as he is depicted, he founded no kingdoms in foreign parts. — Voltaire

For the historian, the Arabs are no more the descendents of Ishmael, son of Abraham, than the French are of Francus, son of Hector. — Maxime Rodinson

It is virtually certain that Abraham never reached Mecca. — Montgomery Watt

The essential point ... is that, where objective fact has been established by sound historical methods, it must be accepted. — Montgomery Watt

According to Muslim tradition, Abraham and Ishmael built the Kaaba, the cube-like structure in the Sacred Mosque in Mecca. But outside these traditions there is absolutely no evidence for this claim whether epigraphic, archaeological, or documentary. Indeed Snouck Hurgronje has shown that Muhammad invented the story to give his religion an Arabian origin and setting; with this brilliant improvisation Muhammad established the independence of his religion, at the same time incorporating into Islam the Kaaba with all its historical and religious associations for the Arabs. (Ibn Warraq, Why I Am Not A Muslim [Prometheus Books, Amherst NY 1995], p. 131; bold emphasis ours)

The story is far from over since it gets even worse.

Muhammad worships his god on top of refuse and garbage?

The readers may not be aware that at the time that Muhammad's night journey allegedly took place the Temple site had been turned into a dump site, a fact which both Muslim scholars and apologists admit!

“… The site of the mosque in Jerusalem is where the Jewish Temple stood. At that time it was a rubbish heap. ‘Umar told the people to follow his example in clearing the rubbish away…” (The History of al-Tabari – The Battle of al-Qadsiyyah and the Conquest of Syria and Palestine, translated by Yohanan Friedmann [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany, September 1991], Volume XII (12), pp. 195-196; bold emphasis ours)


Let's now deal with some side issues. The Christian missionaries tell us that when the Muslims conquered Jerusalem they found the Temple Mount filled with garbage:

“When the Arabs conquered Jerusalem they found the Temple Mount abandoned and filled with refuse. ... `Umar ordered it cleaned and performed a prayer there. The sanctuary [the Dome of the Rock] ... was built by Caliph `Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan around 72/691."

Two question now arise, who abandoned the Temple Mount and why was it filled it with rubbish? The facts become clearer when we actually fill in the blanks "..." in the Christian missionaries' quotation:

When the Arabs conquered Jerusalem they found the Temple Mount abandoned and filled with refuse. The abandonment of the Temple site was in accordance with Jesus' prophecy that not a stone would be left standing on another. `Umar ordered it cleaned and performed a prayer there.[20]

So, it was the Christians who abandoned the Temple some 600 years before the Muslims entered it. But who used the Holy place a rubbish dump?

Ever since the Persian occupation, when the Jews had resumed worship on the platform, the Christians had used the place as the city rubbish dump. When `Umar reached the old ruined gates of the Temple, says the Muslim historian Mujir al-Din, he was horrified to see the filth, "which was then all about the holy sanctuary, had settled on the steps of the gates so that it even came out into the streets in which the gate opened, and it had accumulated so greatly as almost to reach up the ceiling of the gateway." The only way to get up to the platform was to crawl on hands and knees. Sophronius went first and the Muslims struggled up behind. When they arrived at the top, the Muslims must have gazed appalled at the vast and desolate expanse of Herod's platform, still covered with piles of fallen masonry and garbage.[21]

It was the Christians! …

[20] "Dome Of The Rock" in C. Glassé, The Concise Encyclopaedia Of Islam, 1989, Stacey International: London, p. 102.

[21] K. Armstrong, Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths, 1997, Ballantine Books: New York, p. 229. (Muhammad Ghoniem, Mansur Ahmed, Elias Karim, `Abd al-Rahman Robert Squires & M S M Saifullah, Prophet Muhammad's Night Journey To Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa - The Farthest Mosque, Appendix: Who Turned The Temple Mount Into A Garbage Dump?; bold emphasis ours)

In light of this are we to seriously believe that Muhammad visited a dump site and led all of the true prophets of God in worship? Does Zaatari really want us to accept that God’s true prophets prayed on top of a rubbish heap? Even Umar had enough common sense to cleanse the site before offering prayers to his god!

Muhammad – Islam’s Soothsayer and Fortuneteller

As a last ditch effort to salvage Muhammad’s prophetic assertions and reputation Zaatari argues that I cannot simply pick only certain aspects of this story while disregarding the rest which supposedly refutes my point.

Thirdly, as I said in rebuttal number two, Shamoun cannot pick parts of the story he likes, and disregard other parts of the story which debunk his case! Why doesn't Shamoun quote the entire story? For instance this part…

Zaatari then references the part where Muhammad claimed that a certain caravan was on its way and mentioned some of their camels’ circumstances which they encountered, all of which supposedly turned out to be true:

So notice the prophet gave proof of his journey, noting things on the way which no one could know! Hence why Does Shamoun leave this out? If he wants Muslims to carefully assess their prophet then with all due respect quote the entire story so we can assess the entire event and situation. It is mischievous to ask Muslims to carefully consider our prophet when you cannot even carefully quote the entire story, especially when it is on the same page as he is quoting from!

This is Islamic make-believe at its best. No serious historian would follow such reasoning. Why should propheto-fiction overcome the hard facts? Because Zaatari so badly wants to believe it?

The issue is that the statements about the visit to the Temple can be cross-checked against historical data and they are clearly proven false. And these obviously wrong claims mark the entire story as unreliable. On the other hand, who is able to check these claims about the camels today? (Or even at the time when Ibn Ishaq first wrote it?) What reason can Zaatari give us to believe it was so? After all, doesn’t the same story say that Muhammad’s claims about the Temple and the description of the number of doors were CONFIRMED by those Arabs around him who had been to Jerusalem? I.e. the story claims that Muhammad’s contemporaries confirmed his statements about the Temple which we know for sure to be wrong. Why should we therefore believe that their confirmation of Muhammad’s claims about the camels are any more trustworthy than their confirmation about his claims about the Temple? The only difference is that today we have no possibility to examine this part of the story.(2)

Bear in mind that the sirah by Ibn Ishaq was written more than a hundred years after Muhammad’s death. This gap in time means that there were no eyewitnesses from Muhammad’s time, especially hostile ones, who could confirm or contradict this story. Ibn Ishaq merely claimed that Muhammad’s contemporaries confirmed his description of the temple, and he also merely claimed that his descriptions of the camels of certain caravans turned out to be correct.

It is irrelevant whether Ibn Ishaq invented the whole story or he merely believed and reported the story which was fabricated by some earlier pious Muslim. The bottom line is that the historical facts expose the fictional nature of this story.

The main topic and reason for the story is Muhammad’s journey to the temple. The element of predicting the color of some camels is a minor detail woven into the fictional story. Can Zaatari provide any reason for considering this detail to be historical when the main part of the story is proven to be fictional?

And does Zaatari really believe that "an element of truth" would overcome the hard facts which declare the story to be fabricated?

However, just for argument's sake, let us assume Muhammad correctly predicted the color of some camels in order to support his claimed journey to the temple. Would that confirm him as a true prophet? Not at all! Based on the Biblical as well as Islamic criteria, it would merely prove that Muhammad was a false prophet who was able to make some accurate predictions at times.

The Holy Bible says this about false prophets:

“If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, ‘Let us follow other gods’ (gods you have not known) ‘and let us worship them,’ you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he preached rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery; he has tried to turn you from the way the LORD your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.” Deuteronomy 13:1-5

“At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible.” Matthew 24:23-24

However, these predictions do not explain away all of Muhammad’s false prophecies, mistakes, and lies such as his claim to have visited a Temple which did not exist in his day.

In fact, according to Muhammad’s own words this establishes that he was nothing more than a soothsayer and fortuneteller who mixed truth with lies and deception:

Narrated 'Aisha:
Some people asked Allah's Apostle about the fore-tellers. He said, "They are nothing." They said, "O Allah's Apostle! Sometimes they tell us of a thing which turns out to be true." Allah's Apostle said, "A Jinn snatches that true word and pours it into the ear of his friend (the fore-teller) (as one puts something into a bottle). The foreteller then mixes with that word one hundred lies." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 71, Number 657)

Narrated 'Aisha:
Some people asked the Prophet regarding the soothsayers. He said, “They are nothing.” They said, “O Allah's Apostle! Some of their talks come true.” The Prophet said, “That word which happens to be true is what a Jinn snatches away by stealth (from the Heaven) and pours it in the ears of his friend (the foreteller) with a sound like the cackling of a hen. The soothsayers then mix with that word, one hundred lies.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 650)

Muhammad’s claim to have visited a Temple which no longer existed along with his supposedly describing things that he saw on his journey which turned out to be accurate only prove that he was no different than the soothsayers who mixed lies with truth. It confirms that Muhammad was being inspired by the demons which he called Jinn, much like the fortunetellers.

More importantly, Zaatari has to be consistent at this point by applying his own criterion to this fable and therefore cannot simply accept the parts of this story which suit his purpose. He must contend with the fact that these sources contain a gross historical mistake which severely damage Muhammad’s credibility and integrity. Muhammad’s supposed night journey to the Jerusalem Temple could not have taken place since no Temple existed at that time!

Therefore, the only conclusion that Zaatari can come to is that the Quran contains serious mistakes and that Muhammad is a false prophet!

So much for Zaatari’s defense of this gross historical error within the Islamic corpus.

With that said we encourage the readers to continue reading the second part of our rebuttal.

Related Articles

To read more about the problems with Muhammad’s alleged night journey we recommend the following article and rebuttal:

Moreover, Zaatari mentions the Biblical story of Satan oppressing Job in order to refute my objection that Muhammad could not be a true prophet of God when he was bewitched, controlled and manipulated by Satan!

Since we have already thoroughly refuted this blatant distortion and misreading of the Holy Bible in the following rebuttals:

There will be no need for me to waste time responding to Zaatari’s petty defense.


(1) This whole story might actually support the theory of the radical revisionists who say that Islam itself only came into existence much later, and that Muhammad never existed. For instance, there was a mosque built in Jerusalem called Masjid al-Aqsa. However, it is believed that this mosque may have been constructed during the Umayyad period and that it was later reconstructed and expanded by ‘Abd al-Malik bin Marwan in 690-692 AD.

This suggests that at the very least this particular Quranic verse was inserted later and the story which was written around it must have been concocted at a time when the people knew of such a mosque in that location. In light of this it seems reasonably certain that later generations of Muslims projected the existence of this building back into the imaginary life of Muhammad and in so doing ended up providing even more incriminating evidence that he was a false prophet and that the Quran is not from the true God.

(2) I want to thank Jochen Katz for his valuable feedback to this article. In particular, I am indebted to him for the argument starting with this paragraph and the one right before it.