From Thu Feb 27 21:02 EST 1997
From:  (Ali Arshad)
Subject: Internal Contradictions

* And it just doesn't add up: Sura 4:11-12 and 4:176 state the Qur'anic
inheritance law. If a man dies and leaves three daughters, his two parents
and his wife then they will receive the respective shares of 2/3 for the 3
daughters together, 1/3 for the parents together [both according to verse
4:11] and 1/8 for the wife [4:12] which adds up to more than the estate
available. A second example is, that when a man leaves only his mother, his
wife and two sisters, then they receive 1/3 [mother, 4:11], 1/4 [wife, 4:12]
and 2/3 [the two sisters, 4:176], which again adds up to 15/12 of the
available property.

* Further numerical discrepancies: Does Allah's day equal to 1,000 human
years (Sura 22:47, 32:5) or 50,000 human years (Sura 70:4)?

This argument was presented even during the Prophet's time.  Commentators
on the Qur'an for more than a thousand years explained this as
demonstrating that time is irrelevant to God.  The Qur'an purposely gives
different values for the human equivalent of God's day.

How many gardens are there in paradise? ONE [as stated in 39:73, 41:30,
57:21, 79:41] or MANY [18:31, 22:23, 35:33, 78:32]?
According to Sura 56:7 there will be THREE distinct groups of people at the
Last Judgement, but 90:18-19, 99:6-8, etc. mention only TWO groups.

Both of these "contradictions" demonstrate that the afterlife is
metaphorical and that all comparisons are only for human comprehension.
Most modern Muslims believe that there are no distinct levels of the
hereafter at all.

There are conflicting views on who takes the souls at death: THE Angel of
Death [32:11], THE angels (plural) [47:27] but also "It is Allah that takes
the souls (of men) at death." [39:42]

Angels are many times used as metaphors for the laws of nature.  There is
no contradiction in these phrases.  32:11 says that the Angel of Death is
the one in charge of ones death, not the one who takes the soul out.  Also,
if an angel takes away the soul of a person, then in all monotheistic
religions, this is considered the same as God taking away the soul.  This
is because all things eventually go back to the original will of God.  In
other words, if I was to get a 100% in my chemistry test, the Qur'an may
also say that God gave me a 100% on the test.

Angels have 2, 3, or 4 pairs of wings [35:1]. But Gabriel had 600 wings.
[Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Number 455]

Wings of angels are completely metaphorical.  Whether the Prophet ever
actually claimed that Gabriel had 600 wings is improbable.  Any
contradiction between Hadith and Qur'an simply means that the Hadith was
wrong.  The Hadith are simlpy a collection of hearsay quotes of the
Prophet, not part of the Qur'an, which is God's literal word.

* Six or eight days of creation? Sura 7:54, 10:3, 11:7, and 25:59 clearly
state that God created "the heavens and the earth" in six days. But in
41:9-12 the detailed description of the creation procedure adds up to eight

The "days" are not literal ones.  The word used in the Qur'an for a day is
'yaum,' which means aeon, day, long period of time or stage in time.  So,
even if the Qur'an did have the supposed contradiction, it would just
represent different divisions of the time in which the creation occurred.
However, the contradiction is not even there.  41:9-12 uses the word
'thumma,' meaning 'moreover:' "...created the earth in two
periods...measured out the earth's sustenance in four periods...moreover
(thumma) two periods."  Thumma does not necessarily imply a sequence
in time, in Arabic.  In this case it means that two things were happening
at the same time.  The events were juxtaposed in this case.

* Heavens or Earth? Which was created first? First earth and then heaven
[2:29], heaven and after that earth [79:27-30].

2:29 "He is the One who created for you everything on earth, then (thumma)
turned to the sky and perfected seven universes therein..."
This does not imply that the heavens were created after earth, but that the
galaxies were still being formed even after earth was created.  Also, the
word thumma is used again.

* Calling together or ripping apart? In the process of creation heaven and
earth were first apart and are called to come together [41:11], while 21:31
states that they were originally one piece and then ripped apart.

41:11 "Then He turned to the sky, when it was still gas, and said to it,
and to the earth, 'Come into existence, willingly or unwillingly.'..."
This is referring to the original state of the solar system.  Nowhere does
it say that heaven and earth were separate and then came together.

* What was man created from? A blood clot [96:1-2], water [21:30, 24:45,
25:54], "sounding" (i.e. burned) clay [15:26], dust [3:59, 30:20, 35:11],
nothing [19:67] and this is then denied in 52:35, earth [11:61], a drop of
thickened fluid [16:4, 75:37]

The Qur'an purposely does this to demonstrate the symbolic nature of our
origins.  The blood clot, 'nasa,' actually means a small cell or congealed
blood.  This either refers to the conjuction of the sperm and the ovum or
the original cell in creation, from which we evolved from.

* Will there be inquiry in Paradise? "neither will they question one
another" [23:101] but nevertheless they will be "engaging in mutual inquiry"
[52:25], "and they will ... question one another" [37:27].

23:101 refers to the Day of Judgement, not Paradise.  Therefore, there is
no contradiction.

* Are angels protectors? "NO protector besides Allah" [2:107, 29:22]. But in
Sura 41:31 the angels themselves say: "We are your protectors in this life
and the Hereafter." And also in other suras is their role described as
guarding [13:11, 50:17-18] and protecting [82:10].

The sense of the word protector is different in both cases.  God is the
only ultimate protector, and by his will only can anything else protect
something.  A bodyguard is surely a protector, so it would have been
ridiculous for the Prophet to make such a statement if he was referring to
the same thing.

* Is everything devoutly obedient to Allah? That is the claim in 30:26, but
dozens of verses speak of the proud disobedience of Satan [7:11, 15:28-31,
17:61, 20:116, 38:71-74, 18:50] as well of many different human beings who
reject His commands and His revelations.

This is a complete misunderstanding of one of the fundamental principles of
Islam.  Islam means, 'submission/commitment.'  All matter is governed by
the laws of Islam.  30:26 is referring to the meaning of the laws as the
same thing as the laws of physics, chemistry and other sciences.  Our
bodies follow natures rules as do the celestial objects.  The only two
things in the creation which can go against Islam are humans (not the
bodies) and the jinn (of which Satan is one of).  The goal of a Muslim is
to follow the teachings of the Qur'an, thus following the laws of Islam,
thus becoming one with nature, and therefore, one with God.  This is to be
taken metaphorically, of course.  The concept of literally becoming part of
nature or God is of far eastern religions, such as Hinduism.

* Does Allah forgive shirk? This is the worst sin and Allah can't really
decide if he will ever forgive it or not. No [4:48, 116], Yes [4:153,
25:68-71]. And Abraham committed this sin of polytheism as he takes moon,
sun, stars to be his Lord [6:76-78] and still Muslims believe that all
prophets are without any sin.

Not if the person does not change before death.  All sins can be forgiven
by God, even after the death of the person, except for shirk, which can
only be changed if the person becomes monotheistic.  Otherwise, the Prophet
would have also committed shirk.  A side note is that mostly uneducated
Muslims believe in the infallibility of the Prophets, as it is nowhere
mentioned in the Q'uran.

* The event of worship of the golden calf: The Israelites repented about
worshipping the golden calf BEFORE Moses returned from the mountain [7:149],
yet they refused to repent but rather continued to worship the calf it until
Moses came back [20:91]. Does Aaron share in their guilt? No [20:85-90], yes
[20:92, 7:151].

Certain people repented and certain ones continued to worship the calf
according to the Qur'anic story.  As for Aaron's guilt, how can one believe
that the Qur'an says that he did not share his guilt first, and then two
lines later, change.  That is completely ridiculous.  The Qur'an's position
on the story is that Aaron shared no guilt and that is final.  In 20:92,
Moses asks Aaron if he shared the guilt and in 7:151 he asks for the
forgiveness of both of them.  Of course Moses did not share in the guilt,
yet he asks for forgiveness, also.  The Qur'an never puts any blame on

* Moses and the Injil? Jesus is born more than 1,000 years after Moses, but
in 7:157 Allah speaks to Moses about what is written in the Injil [the book
given to Jesus].
In 7:157, God is not even speaking to Moses, but to the reader of the Qur'an.

* Can slander of chaste women be forgiven? Yes [24:5], No [24:23].

Yes, they can be forgiven.  24:23 simply states the the slander is a bad sin.

* How do we receive the record on Judgment Day? On Judgement day the lost
people are given the Record (of their bad deeds): Behind their back [84:10],
or in their left hand [69:25].

I did not know it was a problem to carry a book in one's left hand and
behind the back at the same time!  It is a metaphor, anyway.

* Can angels disobey? No angel is arrogant, they all obey Allah [16:49-50],
but: "And behold, we said to the ANGELS: 'Bow down to Adam'. And THEY bowed
down, EXCEPT Iblis. He refused and was haughty." [2:34].

Iblis is not even an angel, he is a jinn!

* Three contradictions in 2:97 and 16:101-103 Who brings the revelation from
Allah to Muhammad? The ANGEL Gabriel [297], or the Holy Spirit [16:102]? The
new revelation confirms the old [2:97] or substitutes it [16:101]? The
Qur'an is PURE Arabic [16:103] but there are numerous foreign, non-Arabic
words in it.
Gabriel  and the Holy Spirit are one and the same in Islam.
The Qur'an affirms that there God did create the old revelations, but they
were changed, so the Qur'an's laws substitute their's.
The Qur'an says a plain Arabic tongue, not a pure one.

* The infinite loop problem Sura 26:192,195,196: "It (the Qur'an) is indeed
a revelation from the Lord of the Worlds, ... in clear Arabic speech and
indeed IT (the Qur'an) is in the writings of the earlier (prophets)." Now,
the 'earlier writing' are the Torah and the Injil for example, written in
Hebrew and Greek. HOW can an ARABIC Qur'an be contained in a books of other
languages? Furthermore, it would have to contain this very passage of the
Qur'an since the Qur'an is properly contained in them. Hence these earlier
writings have to be contained in yet other earlier writings and we are in an
infinite loop, which is absurd.
That is gross misinterpretation of the verse.  The basic rules of the
Qur'an are contained in the earlier scriptures, not the Qur'an itself.  How
could Muhammad make a mistake like that?  Even a three year old would not
do that.  Most people interpret those verses to mean that the prophecy of
the Qur'an is in the older scriptures, anyhow.

* "An old woman" and God's character About the story of Lot: "So we
delivered him and his family, - all exept an old woman who lingered behind."
[Sura 26:170-171] And again: "But we saved him and his family, exept his
wife: she was of those who lagged behind. [Sura 7:83]. Either this is a
contradiction or if indeed Lot's wife is derogatorily called "an old woman"
then this does not show much respect for her as a wife of a prophet.

Yes, they are the same person.  The wife of Lot was one of the evil people
of the city.

* More problems with the story of Lot "And his people gave NO answer but
this: They said, "Drive them out of your city: these are indeed men who want
to be clean and pure!" [Sura 7:82 & 27:56]. Yet: "But his people gave NO
answer but this: They said: "Bring us the Wrath of Allah if thou tellest the
truth." [Sura 29:29]. Obviously these answers are different.
The Qur'an never says that these were the same instances.  Also, Muslims
believe that the quotes of people in the Qur'an are not meant to be exact
words, but the general idea.

* Did Abraham smash the idols? The accounts of Abraham, Suras 19:41-49,
6:74-83 differ quite a bit from Sura 21:51-59. While in Sura 21 Abraham
confronts his people strongly, and even destroys the idols, in Sura 19
Abraham shuts up after his father threatens him to stone him for speaking
out against the idols. And he seems not only to become silent, but even to
leave the area ("turning away from them all").

So what?  One day I might be threatened by some people for speaking out
against racism, so I go away in silence.  Another day, I may have more
courage and yell at the people no matter what they do.  By the way, these
are true incidents.

* What about Noah's son? According to Sura 21:76, Noah and all his family is
saved from the flood. But Sura 11:42-43 reports that Noah's son drowns.

21:76 does not claim that his whole family was saved.  His son is not even
considered part of his true family, by the Muslims.

* Was Noah driven out? "Before them *the people of Noah* rejected (their
messenger): They rejected Our servant and said, 'Here is One possessed!' And
he was driven out." [Sura 54:9] Now, if he is driven out [expelled from
their country] how come they can scoff at him while he is buiding the ark
since we read "Forthwith he (starts) constructing the Ark: Every time that
the Chiefs of *his people* passed by him, they threw ridicule on him." [Sura
11:38] He cannot be both: Driven out and near enough that they can regularly
pass by.

Yes he can, if they come to inspect what he is doing.  Anyhow, the Qur'an
does not say that he was driven out, but that he was persecuted.  Even if
it did say that he was driven out, it does not specify if he was driven out
of the town or how long he was driven out for.

* Pharaoh's repentance in the face of death? According to Sura 10:90-92,
Pharaoh repented "in the sight of death" and was saved. But Sura 4:18 says
that such a thing can't happen.

The Pharaoh did repent, but it was not accepted.  The Qur'an does not say
that he was saved, but that his body was preserved.  The Qur'an says that
he will be punished in many places.

* Abrogation? "The words of the Lord are perfect in truth and justice; there
is NONE who can change His words." [Sura 6:115] Also see 6:34 and 10:65. But
then Allah (Muhammad?) sees the need to exchange some of them for "better
ones" [Sura 2:106, 16:101]. And it is not for ignorant people to question
Allah because of such practices!

This is looked at in the essay, "Who Goes to Heaven."

* Guiding to truth? "Say: 'God - He guides to the truth; and which is
worthier to be followed ...?" [Sura 10:35] But how much is left over of this
worthiness when we also read: "Allah leads astray whom he pleases, and he
guides whom He pleases, ..." [Sura 14:4]. And how do we know in which of
Allah's categories of pleasure we fall? How sure can a Muslim be that he is
one of those guided right and not one of those led astray?
This is interpreted as meaning that God lets certain people go astray, and
as a psychological rule, may allow them to even become worse, if they
deserve it.  However, even the Prophet (pbuh) said that he did not know his
fate in the afterlife.

* What is the punishment for adultery? Flogging with a 100 stripes (men and
women) [24:2], "confine them to houses until death do claim them (lifelong
house arrest - for the women) [4:15]. For men: "If they repent and amend,
leave them alone" [4:16]. 24:2 contradicts both the procedure for women and
men in Sura 4. And why is the punishment for women and men equal in Sura 24
but different in Sura 4?

4:15 says to confine them into their house until another revelation
elaborates.  This revelation was 24:2.  4:16 goes for both men and women,
not just men.

* Will Christians enter Paradise or go to Hell? Sura 5:69 says "Yes", Sura
5:72 (just 3 verses later) says "No".

This is the topic of the essay, "Who Goes to Heaven."

* God alone or also men? The Qur'an is "clear Arabic speech." [16:103] Yet
"NONE knows its interpretation, save only Allah." [3:7]. Actually, "men of
understanding do grasp it." [3:7]

16:103 is irrellevant to this topic.  All it states is...well...just what
it states.  Men of understanding grasp the main message of the Qur'an, but
nobody understands that deepest interpretation of the Qur'an except for
God.  The Prophet (pbuh) supposedly said that every verse has an external
and internal meaning.  The Sufis take this one step further and say that
each verse has seven meanings.

* Was Pharaoh Drowned or Saved when chasing Moses and the Israelites? Saved
[10:93], drowned [28:40, 17:103, 43:55].

10:93 is saying that he was preserved.  This is referring to his body.  The
Museum of Cairo holds the mummy of what is said to be the Pharaoh of the
Qur'an and Bible.

* When Commanded Pharaoh the Killing of the Sons? When Moses was a Prophet
and spoke God's truth to Pharaoh [40:23-25] or when he was still an infant

Both.  They were two separate incidents.

* When/how are the fates determined? "The night of power is better than a
thousand months. The angels and spirit descend therein, by the permission of
their Lord, with all decrees." [97:3,4] "Lo! We revealed it on a blessed
night." [44:3] To Muslims, the "Night of Power" is a blessed night on which
fates are settled and on which everything relating to life, death, etc.,
which occurs throughout the year is decreed. It is said to be the night on
which Allah's decrees for the year are brought down to the earthly plane. In
other words, matters of creation are decreed a year at a time. Contradicting
this, Sura 57:22 says, "No affliction befalls in the earth or in your
selves, but it is in a Book before we create it." This means it is written
in the Preserved Tablet, being totally fixed in Allah's knowledge before
anyone was created. All of the above is contradicted by "And every man's
fate We have fastened to his own neck." This says that man alone is
responsible for what he does and what happens to him. [17:13]

The belief that yearly decisions are made is not supported by the Qur'an,
but is a belief held by uneducated Muslims.  I was never taught that, but
my religious teacher told me how some people believed that.

* Wine: Good or bad? Strong drink and ... are only an infamy of Satan's
handiwork. [5:90, also 2:219]. Yet on the other hand in Paradise are rivers
of wine [47:15, also 83:22,25]. How does Satan's handiwork get into

The wine in the afterlife is a metaphor.  Anyway, wine is only bad on
earth, not in Heaven, because its bad effects are only worldly.

Contradictions in the Qur'an
Answering Islam home page

Last edited: February 27, 1997