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

"Source of the Qur'an VII - Learning from Others?"


In this segment, Dr. Badawi argues that Muhammad must have received the Qur'an from Gabriel because he had no opportunities to learn Christian or Jewish Scriptures from any human source. Several points must be made before we go into the refutation of Dr. Badawi's arguments. First, it must be noted that Christianity had very little influence on the development of Islam. Muhammad was influenced much more by Jewish ideas since his contact with the Jewish communities in Arabia was much greater than his contact with Christians. Second, Muhammad's knowledge of Christian beliefs was very deficient, for example, he believed that Mary was considered as an equal to God (Sura 5:116); confused Mary, the mother of Jesus with Maryam, the sister of Moses and Aaron(Sura 19: 27-28); and, made a bizarre claim that the Jews believed that Ezra was the Son of God (Sura 9:30) .

Muhammad also makes no mention of the many important teachings of Christianity including redemption through the death of Christ, or the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. Muhammad's knowledge of Christianity was, at best, superficial, and his Qur'an reflects his defective knowledge of Christian beliefs.

Host: Some say that the Prophet might have learned the Qur'an from another source?

Jamal Badawi: This implies that he did not tell the truth when he said that the Qur'an did not come from God but he was honest and would not do this. If he learned the Qur'an from someone else, who was he and in what context? We know that the Prophet was illiterate, we also know that he lived in a Pagan community, not monotheism. Take Moses and Jesus, Moses was raised in the house of Pharaoh and some could say that he learned from them, Jesus lived in Jerusalem, some could say that he learned from the Jewish scholars. The question is least applicable to Muhammad because he did not live in a monotheistic society.

Muhammad's Qur'an was derived from several sources: Ancient Arabian Beliefs, Jewish Legends, Christian Apocrypha, Zoroastrian Legends, and the beliefs of the Hanifs.

Whether, or not, Muhammad was illiterate has no bearing on the argument and his purported honesty has been addressed in earlier segments.

Host: Were there any exceptions in Muhammad's Pagan environment?

Jamal Badawi: There are some exceptions, not all were Pagans. We are talking about the predominant atmosphere. Some refer to a few who called themselves Haniffis who were not Pagans and were not a religion with scriptures, they were not relevant to Islamic beliefs and creeds. There were a few people who were not Pagans but had a Christian background. These few people were not of the predominant culture. They were not allowed to live near the Ka'abba and they were mostly illiterate. People of this caliber cannot explain the Qur'an. The Qur'an actually rebuts the argument that Muhammad learned it from others.

Dr. Badawi will contradict his own argument in this segment when he claims that Warraca (who was a Christian) kissed Muhammad on the head as he walked around the Kaaba! In fact, the Kaaba once contained a picture of Jesus and one of Mary.

Host: Could you tell us what the Qur'an says?

Jamal Badawi: Some who were desperate to discredit Muhammad accused Muhammad of learning from a Christian blacksmith. There was a man who worked for Muhammad and he watched the blacksmith work. It is unreasonable to assume the in the middle of all this work that the Prophet would learn from this illiterate man. Sura 16:103 answer this:

We know indeed that they say, "It is a man that teaches him." The tongue of him they wickedly point to is notably foreign, while this is Arabic, pure and clear.

The blacksmith only knew broken Arabic, how could he produce the Qur'an which challenges the most eloquent to produce something like it. It is like claiming that a Chinese immigrant taught Shakespeare.

The Qur'anic statement is merely a denial, there is no evidence to refute the claim. In fact, the Qur'an denies that Muhammad was reciting the "tales of the ancients" in 8 passages, but provides nothing more than a denial. The issue of eloquence is a matter of taste. Incidentally, the man with a foreign tongue were most likely from the Jewish community.

Host: Other than the blacksmith, were there other Christians in Mecca?

Jamal Badawi: Yes, an old man who was blind named Warraqa who was a cousin of Khadijah. He became Christian and had some knowledge, however, there is no connection with the Prophet and him. One account says that when Warraqa was going around the Ka'abba he met Muhammad and kissed his head. The other encounter occurred after the first revelation. Neither indicates much contact.

Let us examine Muhammad's contacts with Christians:

Bishop Coss of Najran : Muhammad was approximately 20 years old (Katib al Wackidi, p 61) when he heard Bishop Coss of Najran preach at the annual fair at Ocatz. After claiming Prophethood, Muhammad once asked a group from the Bani Bakr ibn Wail if they knew of Bishop Coss, saying that he was not one of them because he professed a true faith.

Muhammad' Second Journey to Syria : Abu Talib took Muhammad on a second journey to Syria. There, Muhammad say Christians and Churches.

Zeid, the son of Haritha : Zeid was a Christian whose parents were attacked by a band of marauders. Zeid was sold, as a slave, to Hakim who gave him as a gift to Khadija shortly after she married Muhammad. Zeid was approximately ten years younger than Muhammad according to the Katib al Wackidi, p 186.

Othman ibn Huweirith : Who was Khadijah's cousin. He embraced Christianity at Constantinople and even attempted to take over Mecca.

Waraca : Another cousin of Khadijah who was acquainted with both Jewish and Christian scriptures. He began to translate some of these scriptures into Arabic.

Muhammad knew all of these people before he claimed Prophethood.

Host: Could you shed some more light on that later encounter?

Jamal Badawi: When Muhammad was meditating in the cave and the Angel came to him, he came back afraid, Khadijah took him to Warraqa who concluded that this is the same Angel who came to other Prophets and said that Muhammad was the long awaited Prophet. He said that he would be persecuted and Warraqa died shortly and the Qur'an came to Muhammad over 20 more years after his death.

Many of the stories concerning Waraca's belief in Muhammad's alleged Prophethood are nothing more than pious frauds.

Host: Could Muhammad have learned from other Christians?

Jamal Badawi: There were some Christians in Najran or Yemen and some Jewish tribes in what is not Medina. It is interesting to notice that there is no record of Muhammad going to Najran. Muhammad only went to Medina once before Prophethood when he was six years old. This is a long way from Mecca.

You are wrong Dr. Badawi, Muhammad made a second trip to Syria 13 years latter with Abu Talib which is described in detail by the Katib al Wackidi.

Host: Some claim that Muhammad had discussions with learned Jews and Christians.

Jamal Badawi: Timing is crucial, this happened after he was commissioned when he had contact. This happened after much of the Qur'an was revealed in Medina. The context that he met is important - he met them not as a student but as a Prophet who corrected their dogmas. Many of these notables became his followers. Sura 5:85 makes reference to the religious leaders who heard the Qur'an believed in the Prophet.

Timing is indeed important. Sura 3, which details the birth of Mary, was written AFTER Muhammad met with the embassy of the Najran in Medina - a few years before his death. It is also noteworthy that this Sura's description of the events is nearly identical to several apocryphal accounts.

Host: Muhammad traveled in his early life did he learn from these trips?

Jamal Badawi: He used to travel extensively. We know of two travels outside of Arabia, one was when he was 9 when he and his uncle went to Syria - at this age he did not learn anything of great value. One Christian monk warned his uncle that he was the long awaited Prophet. When he was 25 years old he led Khadijah's caravan, he was too busy to learn. This claim cannot be defended on historical or logical grounds.

The story of the Christian (Nestorian) Monk does not appear in any of the early biographies of Muhammad and, therefore, is most likely another pious fraud. Muhammad did not actually "learn" the doctrines of Christianity - he made far too many errors in the Qur'an for anyone to claim that he had knowledge of Christianity.

Host: What do you mean by logical grounds?

Jamal Badawi: Aside from the historical facts, the life of the Prophet was open to all, people were always around him trying to record his each and every word. How could he secretly go and meet with teachers and learn the Qur'an? These included independent and strong minded people. His enemies were always watching him to show that he was a false Prophet, they would have made a big noise about it. What teacher would teach this without taking credit. Gabriel is the only logical explanation.

Well Dr. Badawi, there are eight passages in the Qur'an which deny that Muhammad was reciting the "tales of the ancients", so I believe that it is safe to say that the accusation was made on more than one occasion. Additionally, Muhammad and the Qur'an simply deny the charge and make no logical defense.

Andrew Vargo

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