Qur'an Contradiction

Everything and Everyone is Obedient to God?
Are they all prostrating to Allah?

The Quran claims that all living creatures are prostrating to and obey Allah:

And unto Allah maketh prostration whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth of living creatures (dabbatin), and the angels (also) and they are not proud. They fear their Lord above them, and do what they are bidden. S. 16:49-50 Pickthall

To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and the earth. All are obedient to Him. S. 30:26 Hilali-Khan

Prostration is an expression of submission to the power and authority of the one prostrated to. It implies the obedience of the one who is prostrating towards the will of the one prostrated to. The above two verses merely use different words to make the same statement.1

However, it does not take much looking around to make the simple observation that most human beings are not obedient to the laws of Islam, and are not prostrating before Allah.

These statements are objectively wrong.

Moreover, the Qur'an contradicts itself since it talks hundreds of times about the disobedient, the transgressors and the evil-doers, both among men and among jinn. See, for example, the article on Iblis, the prime example of a disobedient creature.

That the word dabbatin in S. 16:49 also includes human beings is easily seen from the following texts which identify mankind as creatures (dabbatin):

If Allah were to take mankind to task for their wrong-doing, he would not leave hereon a living creature (dabbatin), but He reprieveth them to an appointed term, and when their term cometh they cannot put (it) off an hour nor (yet) advance (it). S. 16:61 Pickthall

If Allah took mankind to task by that which they deserve, He would not leave a living creature (dabbatin) on the surface of the earth; but He reprieveth them unto an appointed term, and when their term cometh - then verily (they will know that) Allah is ever Seer of His slaves. S. 35:45 Pickthall

This next verse speaks of all living creatures being created from water, which many Muslims quote to prove the scientific accuracy of the Quran in that this somehow hints at the evolutionary theory that life began in the water:

And Allah has created from water every living creature (kulla dabbatin): so of them is that which walks upon its belly, and of them is that which walks upon two feet, and of them is that which walks upon four; Allah creates what He pleases; surely Allah has power over all things. S. 24:45 Shakir

This text most likely has humans in mind as well since they are creatures who are composed of water and walk on two feet.

Thus, all humans beings obey and fear their Lord according to the Quran. Yet this contradicts other statements which say that there are many humans who do not follow or fear their Maker. In fact, it even contradicts the very passages which identify man as a creature! Note, once again, the two references we cited above:

And if Allah were to seize mankind FOR THEIR WRONG-DOING, He would not leave on it (the earth) a single moving (living) creature, but He postpones them for an appointed term and when their term comes, neither can they delay nor can they advance it an hour (or a moment). S. 16:61 Hilali-Khan

And if Allah were to punish men for that which they earned, He would not leave a moving (living) creature on the surface of the earth, but He gives them respite to an appointed term, and when their term comes, then verily, Allah is Ever AllSeer of His slaves. S. 35:45 Hilali-Khan

Thus, on the one hand, the Qur’an claims that all creatures are prostrating to Allah (16:49) and all are obedient to him (30:26).

On the other hand, there is not a single human being who is fully obedient to Allah. Actually, the statement in S. 16:61 is much stronger. There is not a single human being who does not deserve death for his wrong-doings.

The contradiction is obvious.2 Furthermore, not only human beings have an obedience problem, the angels are not all obedient either, but that is the topic of another discussion (1, 2, 3, 4).

Jochen Katz


1. That prostration implies obedience can even be seen from S. 16:49-50 itself. The passage speaks of a parallel behavior of Allah's creation in heaven (the angels) and on earth (the living creatures). In regard to the angels it is explicitly repeated and explained what their prostration stands for: they are not proud but fear their Lord and obey his commands.

In fact, a careful literary analyis of this passage shows that Pickthall's translation is not fully accurate and the last part, "they are not proud. They fear their Lord above them, and do what they are bidden", actually refers back to both subjects, the angels and the living creatures. Thus, S. 16:49-50 makes exactly the same statement as S. 30:26, saying that all creatures on earth (which includes humans) always obey Allah.

2. Moreover, apart from the plain error of fact (most people do not prostrate to Allah) and the internal contradiction between different passages of the Qur'an (as outlined above), there is yet another contradiction. Despite the fact that the Qur'an claims to confirm the Bible, and to bring the same message as all the prophets before, the general claims in S. 16:49-50 and 30:26 stand in direct opposition to the foundational Biblical teaching that all people have sinned, and are in need of salvation brought by God's Messiah, i.e. through the atoning death of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:9-26).

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