A response to 6.4

The emigration (The Hijra)

There are two main problems with Mr. Al-Kadhi's claims in this section. The exegetical objection is taken care of in a separate article. We will consider here the second problem which is geographical.

The claims regarding Teman

It is actually very easy to trace Al-Kadhi's sources. His claim

is copied nearly verbatim from Dr. Jamal Badawi's article "Muhammad in the Bible" but the problem is that Al-Kadhi believed this hoax and did not care to verify the claim for himself. He is, however, even more specific and audacious in his claims than Dr. Badawi was when continuing with

In fact, Dr. Badawi only wrote that "Teman is north of Medina" which is true, even though it is 800 km north, but by adding "just" and stating "Teman is an Oasis just North of Madinah" Al-Kadhi transformed this into a statement of gross ignorance. Even if the switch of Tema and Teman by Dr. Badawi had not occured, one cannot with honesty identify Medina with Tema (modern Tayma', a city about 400 km away from Medina) as Al-Kadhi does in his bold claims. According to the dictionaries this use of the word "just" means "closely, nearly, almost", or "by a small margin". 400 km is not a small margin. Tayma' is about the same distance from Medinah as Mecca. Al-Kadhi seriously misleads the reader.

The claims regarding Paran

We now turn to the Mr. Al-Kadhi's claim that the biblical Paran is Mecca. See the following maps [1, 2, 3] for some general idea of some of the places we are talking about. Interestingly, he relegated the arguments for this thesis to the footnotes of this section spread over two pages (these footnotes are only visible in the MS Word file, not on the web pages, where there is no evidence at all for this assertion). In footnote 20, he gave us these five "proofs":

  1. Ishmael settled in Paran and he is the (supposed) ancestor of the Arabs. Mr. Al-Kadhi says:
    The Bible tells us in Genesis 21:21 that Ishmael, the son of prophet Abraham, settled in "Paran." This is where he would live and die and this is where he raised all of his children. Ishmael was the father of the Arabs. Thus, we would be justified in assuming that the Arabs should be better aquatinted with where their father (and them themselves) lived than any other nation, and it is a well established fact among the Arabs that their father Ishmael was the founder of the city of Makkah, as well as the one who, with the help of prophet Abraham (pbut) built the holy house of God, the Ka'aba, in that city.
    This argument is extremely weak because Mr. Al-Kadhi made no attempt to consider history, and failed to see that intervening events can make for different things. We know that ancient people (and even modern people) people move pretty often. Abraham's father, Terah moved his family from Ur to Haran (Genesis 11:31). Abraham and Lot moved from Haran to Canaan (Genesis 12:4-5). Due to famine, he moved to Egypt (Genesis 12:10). In history, once a group of people gets too large, they moved. We see this happening between Abraham and Lot (Genesis 13:6-18) (See this map for Abraham's journeys). They also moved because of the environment. Famine caused Abraham to go to Egypt (Genesis 12:10), Isaac to go to the Philistines (Genesis 26:1) and Jacob's family to go to Egypt (Genesis 43). People also moved because of political reasons as people gets displaced. Aren't the Arabs originally nomadic tribes, who excelled in caravan trade? Did the ancestor of the Saxons come from England? Did the Franks come from France? Did the Aryans come from India? Anyone with a little sense of world history knows that this is not the case. These are all barbaric tribes who came and destroyed Europe (or India), settled there, and became part of the people there. In fact, the modern name of some of the European countries came from the names of the settlers. Even the Malays of Malaysia (despite the name of the country) were originally from Indonesia. In Kazakhstan, there is a group of Chinese Muslim people called the Dungan, who moved there from China after the Tungan Revolt in 1862-1877 AD.

    Therefore, saying that because the Arabs lived in the Arabian peninsula, and that Ishmael, the (supposed) ancestor of Arabs, settled in Paran, therefore, Paran is Arabia and then boldly claiming that it is Mecca, requires making leaps of logic without considering intervening events (and reducing distances considerably as Mr. Al-Kadhi has done). The statement that the Arabs are more acquainted with where Ishmael lived is assuming a lot. I seriously doubt if Mr. Al-Kadhi can tell us exactly where his ancestors beyond a few generations lived. The gap between Ishmael and Muhammad was some 2400-2500 years (at least 60 generations I guess)! And considering that, wouldn't Moses, who recorded for us Genesis, be even more acquainted with them when the Israelites actually passed by them during the Exodus (Numbers 10:12)?

    Alfred Guillaume pointed out :

    "... 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 from Greek or Syriac sources." (Alfred Guillaume, Islam, Penguin Books Inc., Baltimore, 1956, pp. 61-62)
    But the Bible gives us another clue as to where the descendents of Ishmael settled :
    His descendents settled in the area from Havilah to Shur, near the border of Egypt, as you go towards Asshur. (Genesis 25:18a)
    Shur is at the northern part of the Sinai Penisula, near to Egypt. Asshur was the ancient capital of Assyria (it moved to Ninevah later on). If one were to draw a line between Shur and Asshur, you will see that it is at the southern portion of Canaan. (see this map) So, at the time Genesis was written, the Ishmaelites were living in the south or southeast of Canaan (depending on how big that area is). Mecca was just too way off from the Shur-Asshur line. The perpendicular distance between Mecca and this line is at least 400 miles! But this does not mean that the Ishmaelites stayed there all the time. It is highly probable that conditions caused the Ishmaelites to be displaced, and moved into the Arabian Peninsula after that.

    Not only that, the record of Ibn Ishaq's biography clearly contradicts that Ishmael was the ancestor of the Arabs :

    `Ad b. `Aus b. Iram b. Sam b. Nuh and Thamud and Jadis the two sons of `Abir b. Iram b. Sam b. Nuh, and Tasm and `Imlaq and Umayan the sons of Lawidh b. Sam b. Nuh are all Arabs. Nabit b. Isma`il begat Yashjub and the line runs: Ta`rub-Tayrah-Bahur-Muqawwan-Udad-`Adnan. (Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, tr. Guillaume, p. 4)
    and then in p. 3, we read that the line from Ishmael to Noah runs as "Ishmael is the son of Ibrahim (Abraham) b. Tarih (Azar) b. Nahur b. Sarugh b. Rau`u b. Falikh b. `Aybar b. Shalikh b. Arfakhshadh b. Sam (Shem) b. Nuh (Noah)". Thus, Ishmael's great-great-great...-great uncles were the Arabs. The sons of Lawidh were 3rd generation descendents of Noah, whereas Ishmael was an 11th generation descendent of Noah. That family line parted long ago. Thus, at most, Ishmael can only be an arabicized Arab, and cannot be said to be the father of Arabs. Thus, we find no support that Arabs should know the history of Ishmael better than the Jews.

    Further readings on Arabs: 1, 2, 3

  2. Arabic and Hebrew are closely related Semitic languages; Hebrew "Paran" and Arabic "Faran" both mean "two who migrated". Mr. Al-Kadhi says:
    The Arabs and Jews are Semitic cousins. They descend from the same father, prophet Abraham (pbuh). Their languages, Arabic and Hebrew, are very similar in many respects since they have a common ancestry. However, Arabic never died out as a spoken language for many centuries as Hebrew did. In Arabic, the word Paran is pronounced "Faran" which means "Two who migrated." This word is used in the Qur'an to convey the meaning of "emigrating to your Lord" or "escaping to your Lord". This can be found in the verse of Al-Thariat(51):50. Indeed, Ishmael and his mother, Hagar, did in fact emigrate to this location which would later become the city of Makkah.
    Again, Mr. Al-Kadhi made rather big leaps in logic. In the first place, nowhere in the Qur'an do we find that Hagar and Ishmael migrated to Paran. And even Al-Thariat 50:51 wasn't talking about Hagar and Ishmael. Mr. Al-Kadhi's juxtaposition of the sentences gave a false impression that the Qur'an did say so.

    Secondly, the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon describes Paran as "a wilderness area bounded on the north by Palestine, on the west by the wilderness of Etham, on the south by the desert of Sinai, and on the east by the valley of Arabah; the exodus was through this area and probably all 18 stops were in this area."

    Now, even if Paran does mean "two who migrate", Mr. Al-Kadhi's assertion that "Paran = 'two who migrated'" is equally applicable for Paran to be in Sinai or Mecca. It makes no difference, because it does not identify where the location is. As such, this point is plainly moot. Incidentally, it was said in this article that Graham Davies of Cambridge argued that the rabbinical literature describes the distance between Pharan (Paran? Faran?) and Mt. Sinai as 36 Roman miles.

  3. The Bible distinguishes between wilderness of Sinai and wilderness of Paran.

    That is correct. And our explanation does not say that Sinai is Paran. In fact, they are different. The Sinai Peninsula simply contain the Wilderness of Sinai and perhaps part of the Wilderness of Paran. The Israelites received the Law at Sinai, which is actually Mt. Sinai to be exact, and is within the Desert of Sinai (Exodus 19:2). The word "Sinai Peninsula" is not in the Bible. In fact, the BDB Lexicon explanation quoted above tells us that Paran is bounded "on the south by the desert of Sinai". Note that a part of the Sinai Peninsula was also a part of the Arabian desert (see this map). Mr. Al-Kadhi just assumes too much. The Arabian desert in the Bible should be seen to extend into parts of the Sinai Peninsula.

  4. Mr. Al-Kadhi claims that
    Jacut's Geographisches Worterbuch aus den Handsch (F. Westenfielt, Leipzig, 1862, Vol. III, P834) Affirms that that Faran is indeed a name of Mecca. Further, Dr. A. Benisch in his translation of the Pentateuch designates it as the desert of Paran.

    Refering to a book from 1862, we see no quotation of proof from Mr. Al-Kadhi. What are the arguments for it? Are we supposed to just accept it? We doubt that Mr. Al-Kadhi has read and verified the statement himself, but is instead again quoting some unidentified writer. At this time we do not yet know what is Al-Kadhi's source, but it is very unlikely that he has verified the claim for himself, given that he makes several errors in his citation of this work. In particular, he is not even able to properly spell the title or editor's name of his "reference" which is given in the World Library Catalog with the title "Jacut's Geographisches Worterbuch aus den Handschriften zu Berlin, St. Petersburg, Paris, London und Oxford, auf Kosten der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft hrsg. von Ferdinand Wustenfeld" (they loved long titles in the last century). An English translation of this title would be "Yaqut's Geographical Dictionary from [i.e. based on] the manuscripts (located) at Berlin, ..., edited by Ferdinand Wustenfeld".

    This old book is only available in very few US libraries and is not given out via interlibrary loan. Al-Kadhi studied at the University of Syracuse while writing his book, and this reference is not available there. Al-Kadhi commits several blunders in the citation of the work alone:

    1. He abbreviates the title in the middle of a word. It is unlikely that he intended to abbreviate the title. He probably got it from a faulty source, but if he would have wanted to, the correct abbr. of "Handschriften" would be "Handschr." but Al-Kadhi does not know German. Abbreviating the above suggested English title as "Yaqut's Geographical Dictionary from the manus" would exhibit a roughly equivalent ignorance of English. The most reasonable abbreviation of the title would have been "Jacut's Geographisches Worterbuch".
    2. He seriously misspells the editors name as "Westenfielt" instead of "Wustenfeld" (Library catalog) or "Wüstenfeld" (the proper German spelling) and this error of several wrong letters is very unlikely if he had actually used the book himself.
    3. He claims volume III was published in 1862, while the publication of the series only started in 1866, which is also the publication date of Volume III.

    Basic questions to ask: Even if "Faran is a name (i.e. one of many names) for Mecca" does this dictionary make any connection between this and the Paran of the Bible?

    Furthermore, it is obvious that the above work is a publication of medieval texts and maps. The question would be if this name was from these early manuscripts or if that is the opinion of the editors; if from the early manuscripts, do the editors agree or disagree? What are the arguments?

    Even if the name is identical, it is common that several places have the same name. This happens in the Bible many times, and it happens still today. Al-Kadhi, a student at Syracuse University, New York, should know that Syracuse also is the

    Even more fitting, it might remind us of

    As another comical side note, it brings to mind the misunderstanding that Neil Armstrong today lives in Lebanon which is part of the rumors about his conversion to Islam.

    Al-Kadhi commits a similar identification fallacy again in section 6.10, this time in regard to Mt. Seir.

    In any case, we were able to locate Yaqut's dictionary, and this entry about "Faran" is worth a detailed discussion in a separate article.

    Mr. Al-Kadhi was also extremely mischievious when he continues with the statement "Dr. A. Benisch in his translation of the Pentateuch designates it as the desert of Paran". Why? The only way I could understand the word "it" in Mr. Al-Kadhi's sentence was that "it" refers to "Mecca". Which passage in the Pentateuch was Mr. Al-Kadhi refering to? Mecca is not mentioned in the Bible, so how could a translation designate Mecca as desert of Paran? Again, Mr. Al-Kadhi asks us to shut down our brains and accept his words on blind faith, giving us no clear references to check, not the Biblical reference, nor the exact title and page number of the book he wants us to consult for this claimed translation.

    A bit of searching and digging, unearthes that he (or the author whom Al-Kadhi plagiarizes) probably refers to "The Pentateuch and the Haftaroth / newly translated ... by A. Benisch", Abraham Benisch (1811-1878), 3rd ed. Rodelheim: J. Lehrberger, 1889. But what page or passage are we supposed to look at?

    The only consequence I can see is that this reference confirms that Al-Kadhi has not done any original research regarding this topic, but he is quoting from some old "apologetics handbook" which he does not identify for us, and which in this case (different from the above) didn't even give him a page number or reference to the Biblical text supposedly the basis for this claim.

  5. Mr. Al-Kadhi says:

    The Lebanese Christian, Kamal Salibi, places Paran in close proximity to Makkah. On page 215 of his book `The Bible Came from Arabia' he says: ".. the place in question could have been Faran, in the Zahran highlands, bordering on the basaltic desert of Harrat Al-Buqum. In any case, this Faran was no doubt the Biblical Paran"

    We see that Mr. Al-Kadhi has found a friend who will join him in jumping from "maybe" to indisputable facts: Mr. Al-Kadhi said first that Kamal Salibi "places Paran in CLOSE PROXIMITY to Makkah", putting little emphasis on the tentative statement that "the place in question COULD HAVE BEEN Faran", and then concluding with "this Faran was NO DOUBT the Biblical Paran" (emphasis mine)! Somehow the originally cautious statement of speculation turned into an undisputable fact! Assuming that Al-Kadhi even quotes properly (not necessarily a given) he certainly has found a soulmate whose claims just get stronger each time he repeats them. Furthermore, Salibi speaks about "this Faran" and even if he puts it in close proximity to Mecca, he does not identify Paran with Mecca as Al-Kadhi would have us believe, but only equates it with "this Faran" whatever "this" is and Al-Kadhi has not explained this to us. Again we have ask: What does Salibi base his identification on? Al-Kadhi does not tell us, and we wonder if it is any less a circular argument than the one we discovered in his reference to Jacut?

    It seems, though, that Salibi's hypotheses are not really new and have not found great enthusiasm in the scholarly community. See these postings on the "History of Islam" mailing list: [1], [2], [3].

We have seen in the above that each point presented by Mr. Al-Kadhi is highly speculative and subject to question. Each link in this chain of arguments is weak which makes the whole of the argument extremely shaky.

Let us now turn to the Bible for internal evidence.

Some more biblical data

The Biblical data shows that the Biblical Paran is most definitely not Arabian Mecca.

Summary explanation: The biblical wilderness of Paran is partly in the Sinai Peninsula, including the city of Kadesh (Num. 13:26) at its northern end. Kadesh Barnea is an identifiable place seen on most maps. Joshua 15:3 tells us that it is part of the border of the tribe of Judah. In particular, Paran was a wilderness territory, not a city, bordering to the south of Judah (1 Sam 25:1-5), which itself is the southern-most tribe of Israel.

Mecca is city in Saudia Arabia, far removed from Judah and Kadesh-Barnea.

For a detailed discussion consider the following :

  1. Hadad the Edomite, during the reign of Solomon, escaped to Egypt when he was a boy (1 Kings 11:17). "They set out from Midian and went to Paran. Then taking men from Paran with them, they went to Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, who gave Hadad a house and land and provided him with food." (1 Kings 11:8-19). Midian is across the eastern Y-fork of the Red Sea (Gulf of Aqabah), south of Israel, north west of Mecca, north eastern portion of Arabian Peninsula (see this map). To think that Hadad set out from Midian, go south east to "Paran" (Mecca), then somehow end up in the Nile delta, where Pharaoh was (i.e., north west of Mecca) required a much longer route. This route is not impossible, but it requires Hadad to travel SE, then NW (i.e., in the opposite direction after reaching Paran). The biblical account of not naming intermediate places tends towards the possibility that these places are within reach of each other easily. The traditional view is more probable: Hadad's route will then be west to Paran, and then west to the Nile delta, the distance being about 5-6 times shorter than if Paran is at Mecca.

  2. After receiving the Law at Mt. Sinai, the Israelites left Sinai for the Desert of Paran (Numbers 10:12), on the way passing through Kibroth Hattavah (Numbers 11:34) then to Hazeroth (vv. 35). "After that, the people left Hazeroth and encamped in the Desert of Paran" (Numbers 12:16). Hazeroth is in the Sinai Peninsula, and if Paran is Mecca, then the Israelites must have travelled many hundred miles (about 500 miles) before encamping -- that will require many many days. (As a comparison, Ezra took 4 months to go from Babylon to Jerusalem, going by the Tigris-Euphrates, a distance of about 900 miles, see Ezra 8). The biblical account, however, suggest that Hazeroth and Paran are close by (i.e., you leave one place, travel to the next and then camp there. It is quite unthinkable to travel many many days before encamping, with the many children and women travelling with them). Then they went to Kadesh [Barnea] (Numbers 13:26), which is north of the desert of Paran, and in the Sinai Peninsula, and is to at the border of the tribe of Judah. From Paran, spies were sent to Canaan to check out the promised land (Numbers 13:3). The spies' exploration took them from Paran through the Desert of Zin (south of Israel), Rehob, Lebo Hamath, Negev, Hebron. This route is more or less northwards (see this map), about 75 miles one way. If Paran is at Mecca, then the Israelites have to go from Mt. Sinai, Kibroth Hattavah then to Hazeroth, then go to Mecca. At this point, which is still very far from Canaan (some 400-500 miles), Moses sent his spies out to spy the land (the whole journey back and forth is more than a thousand miles), passing through Zin (in Sinai), ..., Negev, Hebron. This is an incredibly ardous journey indeed.

  3. The southern boundary of the Israelite promised land was given as "Your southern side will include some of the Desert of Zin along the border of Edom. On the east, your southern boundary will start from the end of the Salt Sea [i.e. Dead Sea], cross south of the Scorpion Pass, continue on to Zin and go south of Kadesh Barnea. Then it will go to Hazar Addar and over to Azmon, where it will turn, join the Wadi of Egypt and end at the Sea [i.e., Mediterranean]" (Numbers 34:3-5). That Wilderness of Paran and Zin are next to each other is clear from the spies' route given above. Zin and Kadesh are clearly to the south of Israel (in fact, Num 20:1, 27:14, 33:36 indicate that Kadesh is in the Desert of Zin), so to demand that Paran is on the 400-500 miles to the south east of Israel requires an impossible boundary. Moreover, it must also mean that the Israelite Promised Land includes part of Arabia (and comes very close to Mecca).... unthinkable to a Muslim indeed! Surely, the Jews will be delighted at this assertion. The Qur'an affirmed the land was ordained for them:
    O my people! Go into the holy land which Allah hath ordained for you. Turn not in flight, for surely ye turn back as losers: (al-Ma'idah 5:21)

  4. The above verses also show that Moses and the Israelites were at Paran. But if Paran was Mecca, and that Moses was a prophet of Islam, then the obvious conclusion will be that Moses was at Mecca and that he must have worshipped at the Ka'aba. Nothing of this sort was ever suggested by any Muslim. It also means that the whole group of Israelites (many thousands of them) passed through Mecca. Surely, such a huge people movement couldn't be missed by the inhabitants of Mecca, but we have seen no such traditions concerning them.

  5. When Abraham died, his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him together in the cave of Machpelah that he bought from Ephron the son Zohar the Hittite (Gen 25:8-9). This grave is acknowledged by Muslims to be under the Mosque of Abraham in Hebron. Now, we all know that Ishmael was not living with Abraham when Abraham died, so Isaac had to send messengers to Ishmael (in Paran) to inform him. What is the distance between Hebron and Mecca? How many days will it take to send a messenger from Hebron to Mecca and and for Ishmael to make it back to Hebron (horses were rare, and not practical in the Arabian desert)? The body of Abraham will be rotting very badly by then. (Ahmad Deedat exaggerates that the dead body of Jesus will be decomposing at so fast a rate that if the body, which was dead not more than three days, was massaged by Mary Magdelene, it will fall to pieces!, (Ahmad Deedat, the booklet, Who Move the Stone?, 1977). see also the transcript of the debate by Ahmad Deedat and Josh McDowell on "Was Christ crucified?", August, 1981, Durban, South Africa). When Lazarus died, he was put in the tomb for 4 days before Jesus came to raise him (John 11:17). Even in the still air of the tomb, the people rightly knew that the dead body was already stinking (John 11:39), yet Jesus raised him from the dead. Given the distance from Hebron to Mecca and the speed of transportation, we are asked to believe that Isaac waited for so many days with Abraham's body rotting away? Isn't it more probable that Paran is just at the southern boundary of Canaan, and Ishmael could make it within a day or two?
It is clear that, geographically, the biblical Paran cannot be Mecca. Once this identification breaks down, a literal identification with Muhammad is impossible. Where then is the biblical Paran? From the Bible, it is clear that it is situated just beyond the Israelite boundary of the promised land in Canaan, and it borders Israel to the south and south-east, i.e, it is at the north-east border of the Arabian desert. It cannot possibly extend so deeply into the heart of Arabia, which must rule out Mecca altogether.

Different places with the same name in the Bible:

There are two towns of Bethlehem mentioned in the Bible: (1) A town in the hill country of Judah, originally called Ephratah. It is well known as the city of David and birth place of Jesus (Micah 5:2). To distinguish it from the other Bethlehem, it is sometimes called Bethlehem-Judah (Judg. 17:17; 19:1; Ruth 1:1, etc.). (2) A town with dependent villages within the territory of Zebulun (Joshua 19:15) which, according to Unger's Bible Dictionary, is located 7 miles N.E. of Nazareth.

There are at least two places called Sheba, in the Old Testament, a city in Israel, in the area allotted to the tribe of Simeon, near Beer-sheba and Mola'dah (Joshua 19:2) and the better known kingdom of Sheba (1 Kings 10:1). Obviously, the same name for a place in Israel and in Arabia but certainly not the same place.

Another likely example is Dan; there are two mentioned: (1) a town in the extreme north which was originally called Laish (Judg. 18:29). (2) a town in the northeast in the vicinity of Gilead (2 Sam 24:6), although there is some dispute about these two may be the same.

And there are even two different Mount Seir, one in Edom and on at the north border of Judah.

There are two Antiochs in the New Testament.

  1. A smaller one in Pisidia [Acts 13:14 (where it is explictly called "Pisidian Antioch"), 14:19, 14:21 and 2 Tim 3:11],
  2. The larger one in Syria, where Paul and Barnabas were based for some time. [all the other NT "Antioch"s are this one, I think].

They are even mentioned close together in Acts, so Paul and Barnabas passed through Antioch (14:21) on their way back to Antioch (14:26)!

Villages by the name of Ramah exist in Judah and Galilee. There are two or three Tira's in Judeah and Galilee. There is a Silah in Judea and one in Galilee. (Silah al Fundukamia and Silah al-Harthiah) There is a Beesheva of the Negev and a Beersheva of Galilee. There are probably many more.

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