Responses to Jamal Badawi's "Radio Al-Islam Channel RA 200"

"Source of the Qur'an V - Religious Illusions?"


In this segment, Dr. Badawi attempts to dismiss the idea that Muhammad's purported revelations were religious illusions and not the Word of God. Badawi begins by pointing out a false analogy that some make between Muhammad and Joan of Arc, and then attempts to use the Qur'an to prove the veracity of the Qur'an.

Host: Can you explain how Muhammad had visions and how these relate to the source of the Qur'an?

Jamal Badawi: A person who is deeply religious may go through visions, and he may think that his own thoughts have a different source and be sincere. The classical example is the story of Joan of Arc, and some try to make an analogy with the Qur'an. That is like saying that elephants and trees are the same because they both have trunks.

I agree that there is an enormous difference between Muhammad and Joan of Arc. Joan of Arc did not benefit materially from her religious illusions!

Host: I have never heard of that, could you tell us more about Joan of Arc?

Jamal Badawi: Joan of Arc was a pious young girl who was a staunch nationalist when France was dominated by England. She tried all means to liberate her people, in this charged atmosphere she began to be convinced that she was destined to lead her people, she had voices and visions and this experience was accepted by her people who were prone to this type of thing. It is inexcusable to make an analogy with the Prophet Muhammad. Prophets receive a wider message with an outline of a system. This argument is in the New Catholic Encyclopedia.

I agree with this view of Joan of Arc. As for Muhammad, I find absolutely no evidence that he was a Prophet in any sense of the term. Muhammad fails the test of prophethood.

Host: How does this theory apply to Muhammad?

Jamal Badawi: Birmingham in the Life of Muhammad theorizes that the sincerity and purity of Muhammad might have led him to reject corruption and Paganism, he would not participate in his people's worship and heard something about Jewish and Christian beliefs but did not accept everything, he may have heard about the expected Prophet and maybe these went into his mind into the subconscious until he convinced himself that he was a Prophet. He then had illusions and heard voices, and he thought that they were from God.

Yet Muhammad, at various points in his life, actively participated in the Pagan culture of his people. More on this topic can be found in the article Muhammad and Idolatry

Host: What are the reasons why this is incorrect?

Jamal Badawi: A human can be under an illusion for some time and what he says is the product of his own thinking. Muhammad continued 23 years with his message and said the same things that the Angel came to him. To convince himself for 23 years, considering his honesty does not make sense. The subconscious had to come from his own thinking and experiences. There is evidence in the Qur'an that there are so many things which could not come from Muhammad. There are mention of historical things of the past that were unknown by Muhammad and his people. There are prophecies of future events which came to pass. There are many proofs that show that the Qur'an could not come from the mind of Muhammad, there are so many scientific facts in the Qur'an which were not known at that time. How could this come from an illiterate man?

These are common claims, often made by Muslims. We shall see if these claims are true throughout this section.

Host: What about the Qur'an's information on the past, how does this show that Muhammad was not the author?

Jamal Badawi: There are stories of previous Prophets which are often different than the Bible, history is specific knowledge. If we assume that Muhammad learned these from previous sources, then he claimed that it came from God or it came from his subconscious, but this doesn't make sense. There are amazing things in the Qur'an which were not general knowledge. Take for example the Seven Sleepers in Sura 18. Not only does it mention their story, it says that they stayed in the cave 300 years plus 9, why? If we remember that Arabs use the lunar calender, we know that the lunar year is 11 days, multiplying 11 days by 300 years and dividing by 365 days we have exactly 9 years, and that was revealed to illiterate people.

Issue 1. The Seven Sleepers

Muhammad did not create the story of the Seven Sleepers, this story is a very old tale which is not found in the Old or New Testaments of the Bible. Gregory of Tours related this tale and, according to Tisdall :

He tells us that in the reign of the Emperor Decius (A.D. 249-51) seven noble young Christians of Ephesus fled from persecution and took refuge in a cave not far from the city. After a time, however, their enemies discovered where they were and blocked up the entrance to the cave, leaving them to die of hunger. When Theodosius II was on the throne, 196 years later, a herdsman found and opened the cave. The Seven Sleepers then awoke from the slumber in which they had remained during the whole time, and (as the Qur'an says also) sent one of the party to the city to purchase provisions. He found Christianity everywhere triumphant, to his boundless surprise. At a shop where he bought some food, he produced a coin of Decius to pay for it. Accused of having discovered a hidden treasure, he told the story of himself and his companions. When he led the way to the cave, the appearance of his companions, still young and radiant with a celestial brightness, proved the truth of his story. The Emperor soon heard of it, and went in person to the cave, where the awakened sleepers told him that God had preserved them in order to prove to him the truth of the immortality of the soul. Having delivered their message, they expired.

Rev. Tisdall continues:

It is quite unnecessary to comment on the exceeding silliness of the tale as told in the Qur'an, though in this respect Muhammad cannot be deserving of more blame for accepting it as true than the ignorant Christians, by whom it was so widely spread and in all probability invented. It is quite possible that the story was originally intended to be an allegory, or more probably a religious romance, framed with the intention of showing with what wonderful rapidity the Christian faith had spread, through the courage and faithfulness even unto death of so many of its professors. Be this as it may, it is undoubtedly the case that long before Muhammad's day the legend had obtained credence in many parts of the East, and even apparently in Mecca it was believed in his time. Muhammad's fault lay in pretending that he had received it as a Divine revelation, whereas it is as little worthy of credence as the tale of St. George and the Dragon (also probably an allegory), or Cinderella and the Glass Slipper or the Batrachomyomachia among the Greeks, or the tales of Rustam's marvellous exploits among the Persians.

Issue 2. Is this the "New" Math?

Dr. Badawi also gives us an interesting math problem. He claims that (11 * 300)/365 = 9 years. If we actually perform this calculation, we find that (11 * 300)/365 = 9.04, which is not "exactly 9 years" as claimed, but is 9 years and 15 days.

A challenge is made in the Qur'an which no one has met in Sura 11:49:

Such are some of the stories of the unseen, which We have revealed unto thee: before this, neither thou nor thy people knew them. So persevere patiently: for the End is for those who are righteous.

Notice that if this statement were not true, someone could have said that they knew those stories, no one objected. No one said that they were familiar with these stories, where did he get this information. The story of Mary was new information, no one knew about it. Sura 25:5 claims that he was accused of taking from other sources, but no on proved it.

This is not true. Even the Qur'an itself tells us:

Of them there are some who (pretend to) listen to thee; but We have thrown veils on their hearts, So they understand it not, and deafness in their ears; if they saw every one of the signs, not they will believe in them; in so much that when they come to thee, they (but) dispute with thee; the Unbelievers say: "These are nothing but tales of the ancients." (Sura 6:25)

When Our Signs are rehearsed to them, they say: "We have heard this (before): if we wished, we could say (words) like these: these are nothing but tales of the ancients." (Sura 8:31)

When it is said to them, "What is it that your Lord has revealed?" they say, "Tales of the ancients!" (Sura 16:24)

On the contrary they say things similar to what the ancients said. (Sura 23:81)

"Such things have been promised to us and to our fathers before! they are nothing but tales of the ancients!" (Sura 23:83)

And they say: "Tales of the ancients, which he has caused to be written: and they are dictated before him morning and evening." (Sura 25:5)

"This is no other than a customary device of the ancients, (Sura 26:137)

"It is true we were promised this,- we and our fathers before (us): these are nothing but tales of the ancients." (Sura 27:68)

When to him are rehearsed Our Signs, "Tales of the ancients", he cries! (Sura 68:15)

When Our Signs are rehearsed to him, he says, "Tales of the ancients!" (Sura 83:13)

Tisdall, in his book The Original Sources of the Qur'an provides detailed explanations of how, and from where, Muhammad borrowed the material which he claimed to have received from God.

Host: What about prophecies?

Jamal Badawi: The are a number of definitive ones. None were proven false. Some relate that Islam would be preserved and protected as will its Prophet and book and all are correct. Sura 14:24, 61:6 and many others. Many of these came in the Meccan Period when Muhammad and his people were persecuted. No one could predict their success. How could anyone predict that something would happen in this time. In the history of Islam, there have been many tragedies and their books were burned and money was spent to confuse the Muslims and it is the fastest growing religion today, how could anyone predict this Sura 2:24:

But if ye cannot- and of a surety ye cannot- then fear the Fire whose fuel is men and stones,- which is prepared for those who reject Faith.

Dr. Badawi probably intended to give us Sura 2:23, which says:

And if ye are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant, then produce a Sura like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers (If there are any) besides Allah, if your (doubts) are true. No one has met this claim.

That is a statement of opinion and not fact. Please read these articles and judge for yourself.

An even easier test is to study Sura 111, in which Muhammad curses his uncle:

Perish the hands of the Father of Flame! Perish he!
No profit to him from all his wealth, and all his gains!
Burnt soon will he be in a Fire of Blazing Flame!
His wife shall carry the (crackling) wood - As fuel!-
A twisted rope of palm-leaf fibre round her (own) neck!

and to compare this to the Word of God, found in Matthew 5:44-48:

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Sura 5:67 says that God will protect the Prophet from people. There are prophecies about believers and unbelievers.

But, in the end, even this prophecy did not come to pass. Muhammad died as a result of being poisoned.

Andrew Vargo

Responses to Jamal Badawi's "Radio Al-Islam Channel RA 200"
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