Responses to Islamic Awareness

Some Logical Fallacies Dealt with in the Qur'an


Professor Mir tells us that the Qur'an appeals to the intellect over emotions, especially when this book points out the fallacious arguments of those people and nations who opposed the Prophets or, in the specific case of Islam, those who opposed Muhammad. His paper is well written and makes several interesting points. However, the Qur'an is guilty of committing the very same logical fallacies that it accuses others of making, as well as committing additional fallacies that it does not accuse others of committing. When we study the text of the Qur'an we will indeed [in the words of Professor Mir] "expect to reap a rich harvest".

Argumentum Ad Baculum

Actually, the Argumentum Ad Baculum tells us that we will face unpleasant consequences if we do not agree with the person making the statement. Professor Mir gave us two examples in his paper (Suras 11:92 and 21:68, to name a few) where the enemies of the Prophets issued threats against them.

The Qur'an also uses this fallacy against those who would oppose Muhammad. An excellent example of this is Sura 111, in which Muhammad's uncle Abu Lahab, is the center of attention:

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!

According to Sunni Muslims, the Qur'an is the eternal and uncreated speech of God. If this is the case, then why did God make this eternal curse against one man? What moral lesson are we supposed to learn from this? Perhaps the message is to warn, with the threat of curses and Hell, anyone who would oppose or question Muhammad?

A second problem in this Sura is the Fallacy of Untestability. After all, how do we honestly know where Abu Lahab and his wife went after death? There is absolutely no objective way of testing this.

Sura 4:115 tells us what will happen to those who disobey Muhammad:

If anyone contends with the Messenger even after guidance has been plainly conveyed to him, and follows a path other than that becoming to men of Faith, We shall leave him in the path he has chosen, and land him in Hell,- what an evil refuge!

Sura 8:16 tells us what will happen to Muhammad's soldiers if they lose their courage in battle:

If any do turn his back to them on such a day - unless it be in a stratagem of war, or to retreat to a troop (of his own)- he draws on himself the wrath of Allah, and his abode is Hell,- an evil refuge (indeed)!

Another way of looking at this argument is by using at the "carrot and stick" analogy. The aforementioned passages are examples of the "stick", or punishment for not obeying God (AND THE "PROPHET"). However, there is a "carrot" if we do obey God and, of course, his "Prophet". In fact, there are many "carrots" including:

Docile Women (Houris):

And (there will be) Companions with beautiful, big, and lustrous eyes,- Like unto Pearls well-guarded. A Reward for the deeds of their past (life). Not frivolity will they hear therein, nor any taint of ill,- Only the saying, "Peace! Peace". (Sura 56: 22-26)

Wealth, Food, Youths, and Wine:

Upon them will be green Garments of fine silk and heavy brocade, and they will be adorned with Bracelets of silver; and their Lord will give to them to drink of a Wine Pure and Holy. (Sura 76:21)

Allah will admit those who believe and work righteous deeds, to Gardens beneath which rivers flow: they shall be adorned therein with bracelets of gold and pearls; and their garments there will be of silk. (Sura 22:23)

(They will be) on Thrones encrusted (with gold and precious stones), Reclining on them, facing each other. Round about them will (serve) youths of perpetual (freshness), With goblets, (shining) beakers, and cups (filled) out of clear-flowing fountains: No after-ache will they receive therefrom, nor will they suffer intoxication: And with fruits, any that they may select: And the flesh of fowls, any that they may desire. (Sura 56:15-21)

Shade and Fresh Fruit

And the shades of the (Garden) will come low over them, and the bunches (of fruit), there, will hang low in humility. (Sura 76:14)

The Qur'an's description of Paradise is very different from the Biblical description. The Bible tells us that heaven is a Holy place where the Creator and His creation are reconciled, and spend eternity together, while the Qur'an describes a place which appeals to man's lowest instincts in an attempt to entice the men of Muhammad's time to follow him.

Argumentum ad Hominem

In this argument, the person, and not the argument that he, or she, presents, is attacked. Frequent readers of Dr. Saifullah's Islamic Awareness site should be very familiar with this type of argument!

There are several forms of this argument:

1. Ad Hominem (abusive): instead of attacking an argument, the person who made the argument is attacked.

Sura 2:118:

And those who have no knowledge say: Why does not Allah speak to us or a sign come to us? Even thus said those before them, the like of what they say; their hearts are all alike. Indeed We have made the communications clear for a people who are sure.

In other words, if we question the claims made in this Sura, which were not supported by fact or even a decent argument, we "have no knowledge" - or in other words, we are ignorant.

2. Ad Hominem (circumstantial): instead of attacking an argument or idea, one simply points to the relationship between the person making the claim and the person's circumstances.

Sura 25:63:

And the servants of (Allah) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, "Peace!";

In other words, those who are not followers of Muhammad are the ignorant and, apparently, do not walk in humility.

3. Ad Hominem (tu quoque): this form of attack is made on a person who allegedly does not practice what he preaches.

Sura 2:109:

Many of the followers of the Book wish that they could turn you back into unbelievers after your faith, out of envy from themselves, (even) after the truth has become manifest to them; but pardon and forgive, so that Allah should bring about His command; surely Allah has power over all things.

Sura 2:113:

And the Jews say: The Christians do not follow anything (good) and the Christians say: The Jews do not follow anything (good) while they recite the (same) Book. Even thus say those who have no knowledge, like to what they say; so Allah shall judge between them on the day of resurrection in what they differ.

It is important to note that Muhammad was very concerned with the hypocrisy of others while he ignored his own hypocrisy. According to Muhammad, Allah had commanded that a man could marry up to four women at any one time:

"Marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four" (Sura 4:3).

However, four women were simply not enough for Muhammad, did he fight the temptation? No way, he believed that he needed special permission from God to marry more and he (claimed) that God gave it to him:

O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou has paid their dowers; and those whom thy right hand possesses out of the captives of war whom Allah has assigned to thee; and daughters of thy paternal uncles and aunts, and daughters of thy maternal uncles and aunts, who migrated with thee; and any believing woman who gives herself to the Prophet if the Prophet wishes to wed her - this only for thee, and not for the believers [at large]; we know what we have appointed for them as to their wives and the captives whom their right hands possess - in order that there should be no difficulty for thee. And Allah is Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful" (Sura 33:50).

In fact, it is uncanny how Muhammad often conveniently "received" revelations which allowed him to have his way with money (Sura 58:12), women (Sura 66:3-5), and power (Sura 5:33).

Perhaps Muhammad should have listened to the words of Jesus:

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Matthew 7:3

Argumentum ad Populum

An argument or idea is considered to be true based on the fact that it is widely held to be true, or is held to be true by some (usually upper class) portion of the population. This fallacy is often called the "Appeal to Emotion" because emotional appeals are often used to affect an entire population.

Sura 16:93:

"If Allah so willed, He could make you all one people. But He leaves straying whom He pleases and He guides whom He pleases ...."

So, according to this argument, Muhammad and his followers were to be followed since this verse implies that they are led by God. Also, because of the fear of "straying", one may be convinced to follow Muhammad.

Sura 110:

When comes the Help of Allah, and Victory, And thou dost see the people enter Allah's Religion in crowds, Celebrate the praises of thy Lord, and pray for His Forgiveness: For He is Oft-Returning (in Grace and Mercy).

Argumentum ad Verecundiam

The Argumentum ad Verecundiam is actually an appeal to authority in order to support a belief. However, Professor Mir tells us that it is an appeal to one's sense of modesty, so that the person who is attacked with this argument finds it difficult to respond without being improper. Using the Professor's definition, we find that the Qur'an does this in Sura 66:5 after Muhammad's wives have discovered that he has broken his "deal" concerning the order in which he sleeps with them:

It may be, if he divorced you (all), that Allah will give him in exchange consorts better than you,-who submit (their wills), who believe, who are devout, who turn to Allah in repentance, who worship (in humility), who travel (for Faith) and fast,- previously married or virgins.

Petitio Principii

The conclusion of an argument is assumed by the premises, or the conclusion is the premise restated in different words. Once again, we turn to Sura 66 where Muhammad has broken an oath to his wives, regarding the order in which he will sleep with them:

Sura 66:1-3 :

O Prophet! Why holdest thou to be forbidden that which Allah has made lawful to thee? Thou seekest to please thy consorts. But Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Allah has already ordained for you, (O men), the dissolution of your oaths (in some cases): and Allah is your Protector, and He is Full of Knowledge and Wisdom. When the Prophet disclosed a matter in confidence to one of his consorts, and she then divulged it (to another), and Allah made it known to him, he confirmed part thereof and repudiated a part. Then when he told her thereof, she said, "Who told thee this? "He said, "He told me Who knows and is well-acquainted (with all things)."

In other words, Allah agreed with this scheme all along and Muhammad did nothing wrong by breaking his vows!

Argumentum ad Misercordiam

The reader is told to agree to the proposition because of the pitiful state of the author.

Sura 108:

To thee have We granted the Fount (of Abundance). Therefore to thy Lord turn in Prayer and Sacrifice. For he who hateth thee, he will be cut off (from Future Hope).

This Sura was "revealed" to Muhammad after the death of his two sons, during a difficult period of his life in Mecca, when his own tribe had cut him off.

Argumentum ad Consequentiam

The author points to the disagreeable consequences of holding a particular belief in order to show that this belief is false. There are many examples of this argument in the Qur'an.

"And whoever desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost all spiritual good" (Sura 3:85).

Sura 8:38-39 adds:

"Say to the Unbelievers, if (now) they desist (from disbelief), their past would be forgiven; but if they persist, the punishment of those before them is already (a matter of warning to them). And fight them on until there is no more persecution and the religion becomes Allah's in its entirety... "

Circular Definition

The definition includes the term being defined as a part of the definition. A circular definition is an excample of a Failure to Elucidate. Sura 86:13:

Lo! this (Qur'an) is a conclusive word, (Pickthall)

In other words, it says so, therefore it is so - end of discussion.

Existential Fallacy

In this fallacy, there are two universal premises which have a particular conclusion. The problem with this argument is that it claims that some universal properties need not be instantiated. For example, it may be true that 'all cars without seat belts are dangerous' even though there are no cars [in the U.S. at least] which do not have seat belts - which is the very point of this fallacy.

Sura 39:62 tells us:

Allah is Creator of all things, and He is Guardian over all things.

and Sura 40:62 agrees with this:

Such is Allah, your Lord, the Creator of all things, There is no God save Him. How then are ye perverted?


Sura 23:14 informs us:

Then fashioned We the drop a clot, then fashioned We the clot a little lump, then fashioned We the little lump bones, then clothed the bones with flesh, and then produced it as another creation. So blessed be Allah, the Best of creators!

And Sura 37:125 adds:

Will ye cry unto Baal and forsake the Best of creators, ... ?

If Allah created all things, how can He be the "Best of creators"? Who were the other creators and what was created after Allah created everything?


Professor Mir gives us some good examples of passages in the Qur'an which point out some logical fallacies made by Muhammad's detractors. However, the Qur'an commits many of these logical fallacies in its arguments against those who reject Muhammad and his message. The presence of such fallacies demonstrates the Qur'an's human, rather than divine, origins.

Andrew Vargo

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