WHOEVER ANNOYS ALLAH AND HIS MESSENGER

WHOEVER ANNOYS ALLAH AND HIS MESSENGER, IS CURSED IN THIS WORLD AND THE HEREAFTER HERE,Allah warns and threatens those who annoy Him by going against His commands and doing that which He has forbidden, and who persist in doing so, and those who annoy His Messenger by accusing him of having faults or shortcomings — Allah forbid. `Ikrimah said that the Ayah:

﴿ إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ يُؤۡذُونَ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ ۥ ﴾

(Verily, those who annoy Allah and His Messenger,) was revealed concerning those who make pictures or images. In The Two Sahihs, it is reported that Abu Hurayrah said: “The Messenger of Allah said:

« يَقُولُ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: يُؤْذِينِي ابْنُ آدَمَ، يَسُبُّ الدَّهْرَ وَأَنَا الدَّهْرُ أُقَلِّبُ لَيْلَهُ وَنَهَارَه »

(Allah says: “The son of Adam annoys Me by inveighing against time, but I am time, for I cause the alternation of night and day.”)” The meaning of this Hadith is that in the Jahiliyyah they used to say, “How bad time is, it has done such and such to us!” They used to attribute the deeds of Allah to time, and inveigh against it, but the One Who did that was Allah, may He be exalted. So, He forbade them from this. Al-`Awfi reported that Ibn `Abbas said that the Ayah,

﴿ إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ يُؤۡذُونَ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ ۥ ﴾

(Verily, those who annoy Allah and His Messenger,) was revealed about those who slandered the Prophet over his marriage to Safiyyah bint Huyay bin Akhtab. The Ayah appears to be general in meaning and to apply to all those who annoy him in any way, because whoever annoys him annoys Allah, just as whoever obeys him obeys Allah.

THE THREAT TO THOSE WHO FABRICATE SLANDER

﴿ وَٱلَّذِينَ يُؤۡذُونَ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ وَٱلۡمُؤۡمِنَـٰتِ بِغَيۡرِ مَا ٱڪۡتَسَبُواْ ﴾

(And those who annoy believing men and women undeservedly,) means, they attribute to them things of which they are innocent, which they do not know and do not do.

﴿ فَقَدِ ٱحۡتَمَلُواْ بُهۡتَـٰنً۬ا وَإِثۡمً۬ا مُّبِينً۬ا ﴾

(they bear the crime of slander and plain sin.) This is the most serious slander, to tell or transmit things about the believing men and women that they have not done, in order to bring shame upon them and accuse them of shortcomings. Among those to whom the description most applies are those who disbelieve in Allah and His Messengers, followed by the Rafidites who accuse the Companions of shortcomings and faults of which Allah has stated that they are innocent, and describe them as the opposite of what Allah has said about them. Allah, may He be exalted, has told us that He is pleased with the Migrants and Ansar, and has praised them, but these foolish and ignorant people inveigh against them and accuse them of shortcomings, and say things about them that they did not do and could never have done. In reality, their hearts are misguided, for they condemn those who deserve praise and praise those who deserve condemnation. Abu Dawud recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that it was said: “O Messenger of Allah, what is backbiting (Ghibah)” He said,

« ذِكْرُكَ أَخَاكَ بِمَا يَكْرَه »

(It is when you mention something about your brother that he dislikes.) It was asked, “But what if what I say about my brother is true” He said,

« إِنْ كَانَ فِيهِ مَا تَقُولُ فَقَدِ اغْتَبْتَهُ، وَإِنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ فِيهِ مَا تَقُولُ فَقَدْ بَهَتَّه »

(If it is true, then you have committed backbiting (Ghibah) about him, and if it is not true, then you have slandered him.) This was also recorded by At-Tirmidhi, who said, “Hasan Sahih.”

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A Man May Be As Straight As An Arrow

The Sayings Of Omar Ibn Al-Khattab

1. “A man may be as straight as an arrow, but even then he will have some critics.” (Omar Ibn Al-khattab)

2. “When a man puts me a question, I judge of his intelligence.”  (Omar Ibn Al-Khattab)

3. “Don’t forget your own self while preaching to others.”               (Omar Ibn Al-Khattab)

4. “May Allah have mercy on him who sends me my faults as a present.” (Omar Ibn Al-Khattab)

5. “Preserve the sayings of those people who are indifferent to the world. They say only that what Allah wishes them to say.”(Omar Ibn Al-Khattab)

6. “Do not be an arrogant scholar, for scholarship cannot subsist with arrogance.”(Omar Ibn Al-Khattab)

7. “As long as you are pure of heart, you speak the truth.”(Omar Ibn Al-Khattab)

THE MESSENGER’S MAIN COUNSELORS AND ADVISORS

There are many narrations that the Messenger was hoping that Umar would accept Islam  because of the bright future that the Messenger was hoping. It is as if he was recruiting the right people for the future of the Islamic State. In one of the traditions that is mentioned by as-Suyuti we see the Messenger praying that Umar accept Islam.

There are other traditions that point to the excellent qualities of Umar in matters of advice. One such tradition is: “Ibn Umar related that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘Allah has put the truth upon Umar’s tongue and in his heart.” And another is “If there were to be a prophet after me it would be Umar ibn al-Khatab” narrated by: Uqbah bin Amir. [12]

As-Suyuti further states that Abu Abdullah ash-Shaybani in his book Fada’il al-Imamayn (the Merits of the two Imams [Abu Bakr and Umar]) had listed 20 different points in which Umar’s Opinions matched the later revelations of the Qur’an. [13]

For the above mentioned reasons that the Messenger always sought the advice of Umar. It was not that the Messenger always followed Umar’s Consultation but he still utilized him on many occasions.

When Caliph Omar (r) was informed of the victories over Persia, he went to the mosque in Madina and addressed the people:
“ O believers! The Persians have lost their kingdom. They cannot harm us any more. God has made you inherit their country, their properties and their riches, so that He may test you. Therefore, you should not change your ways. Otherwise, God will bring forth another nation in place of you. I feel anxiety for our community from our own people”.
These were prophetic words. As we shall see in other articles, the riches of Persia did change the ways of some in Madina and led to the civil wars that tore the Islamic community apart.

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A HADITH ON FASTING IN RAJAB

A HADITH ON

FASTING IN RAJAB

Imam al-Nawawi said:

“Neither prohibition nor praiseworthiness has been established for the month of Rajab in itself, HOWEVER,

(1) the principle concerning fasting is that it is praiseworthy in itself, and

(2) in the Sunan of Abu Dawud the Prophet has made the fasting of the sacred months praiseworthy, and Rajab is one of them.”

A Hadith On Fasting in Rajab

1. `Uthman ibn Hakim al-Ansari said: “I asked Sa`eed ibn Jubayr about fasting in Rajab, and we were then passing through the month of Rajab, whereupon he said: “I heard Ibn `Abbas saying: “The Messenger of Allah used to observe fast so continuously that we thought he would not break it, and did not observe it so continuously that we thought he would not observe fast.” Muslim and Abu Dawud relate it in Kitab al-sawm, respectively in the chapter on fasting at times other than Ramadan, and in the chapter of fasting during Rajab.

Imam Nawawi says: “It would appear that the meaning inferred by Sa`eed ibn Jubayr from Ibn `Abbas’s report is that fasting in Rajab is  neither forbidden nor considered praiseworthy in itself, rather, the ruling concerning it is the same as the rest of the months. Neither prohibition not praiseworthiness has been established for the month of Rajab in itself, however, the principle concerning fasting is that it is praiseworthy in itself, and in the Sunan of Abu Dawud(*) the Prophet has made the fasting of the sacred months praiseworthy, and Rajab is one of them. And Allah knows best.” Sharh Sahih Muslim Kitab 13 Bab 34 #179.

(*) Kitab al-siyam, Chapter: “Fasting During the Sacred Months”. Also in Ibn Majah and Ahmad, hadith of the man who repeats: “I can bear more,” and to whom the Prophet finally says: “Fast during the sacred months.”

It is established that Ibn `Umar fasted during the sacred months: Musannaf `Abd al-Razzaq 4:293, Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba 1:125.

2. Abdullah, the freed slave of Asma’ the daughter of Abu Bakr, the maternal uncle of the son of `Ata’, reported:

“Asma’ sent me to Abdullah ibn `Umar saying: “The news has reached me that you prohibit the use of three things: the striped robe, saddle cloth made of red silk, and fasting the whole month of Rajab.”

Abdullah said to me: “So far as what you say about fasting in the month of Rajab, how about one who observes continuous fasting? And so far as what you say about the striped garment, I heard `Umar ibn al-Khattab say that he had heard from Allah’s Messenger : “He who wears a silk garment, has no share for him (in the Hereafter).” And I am afraid that stripes were part of it. And so far as the red saddle cloth is concerned, here is Abdullah’s saddle cloth [=his] and it is red.

I went back to Asma’ and informed her, so she said: “Here is the cloak (jubba) of Allah’s Messenger ,” and she brought out to me that cloak made of Persian cloth with a hem of (silk) brocade, and its sleeves bordered with (silk) brocade, and said: “This was Allah’s Messenger’s cloak with `A’isha until she died, then I got possession of it. The Apostle of Allah used to wear that, and we washed it for the sick so that they could seek cure thereby.”” Muslim relates in the first chapter of Kitab al-libas.

Nawawi says: “`Umar’s reply concerning fasting in Rajab is a denial on his part of what Asma’ had heard with regard to his forbidding it, and it is an affirmation that he fasted Rajab in its entirety as well as fasting permanently, i.e. except the days of `Id and tashreeq. This is his madhhab and the madhhab of his father `Umar ibn al-Khattab, `A’isha, Abu Talha, and others of the Salaf as well as Shafi`i and other scholars. Their position is that perpetual fasting is not disliked (makruh).”

[Another opinion is reported from Ibn `Umar through a hadith from Ahmad reported in “al-Mughni” 3:167 whereby he disliked that people fast the whole of Rajab but said: “Fast some of it and break fast in some of it.”]

* * * * *

Nawawi adds: “In this hadith is a proof that it is recommended to seek blessings through the relics of the righteous and their clothes (wa fi hadha al-hadith dalil `ala istihbab al-tabarruk bi aathaar al-salihin wa thiyabihim).” Sharh sahih Muslim Kitab 37 Bab 2 #10.

3. Bayhaqi relates in Shu`ab al-iman (#3802):

Abu Abdallah al-Hafiz and Abu Muhammad ibn Abi Hamid al-Muqri said:

from Abu al-`Abbas al-Asamm,

from Ibrahim ibn Sulayman al-Barlisi,

from Abdallah ibn Yusuf,

from `Amer ibn Shibl,

who said: “I heard Abu Qilaba say:

“There is a palace in Paradise for those who fast the month of Rajab.”

Bayhaqi adds: “Even if it is mawquf at Abu Qilaba (i.e. not traced back to the Prophet) who is one of the Successors, such as he does not say such a saying except if it were related to him by someone who had heard it from him to whom revelation comes (i.e. the Prophet ), and success is from Allah.””

Blessings and Peace on the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions

GF Haddad ©

Those who object to fasting part or all of Rajab and Sha`ban

Commentaries

Those who object to fasting part or all of Rajab and Sha`ban cite the following:

a) `Umar’s punishment of the mutarajjibun — those who fasted the month of Rajab according to a practice carried over from the Jahiliyya — by striking their hands until they broke their fast.

However, this does not constitute a valid objection as `Umar’s act was solely due to some people’s emphasis of Rajab — which used to be fasted during the Jahiliyya — over Ramadan as the fasting month. This is clearly not feared for present-day Muslims. There was also a sacrifice named rajabiyya performed in that month, a practice carried over from the Jahiliyya.

Several hadiths in Abu Dawud and Ahmad show that it became obligatory in Islam until the obligation was abrogated. Certain pre-Islamic remnants were fought even in the time of `Umar, as is shown by the latter’s uprooting of a tree for fear of its veneration by some people.

It must be understood that Umar never said “Don’t fast,” rather, he said: “Break your fast,” i.e. do not complete it as you would be obliged to if it were Ramadan. And no one fasted Rajab and Sha`ban completely, this was reserved for Ramadan. However, if someone makes the intention to fast Rajab and Sha`ban completely, it is permitted in the Shari`a, with the understanding that it is mustahabb to break it shortly before Ramadan begins.

Ibn Qudama states in al-Mughni:

It is disliked that Rajab be singled out for fasting. Ahmad said: “If a man fasts during that month, let him break the fast for one day in it, or several, just so as not to fast it all.”

The reason for this is what Ahmad has narrated with his chains:

• from Kharasha ibn al-Hurr: I saw `Umar striking the hands of the mutarajjibin until they helped themselves to the food, and he would say: “Eat! For it is only a month which the Jahiliyya used to magnify”;

•  from `Abd Allah ibn `Umar that he would dislike to see the people make preparations for Rajab and would say: “Fast some of it and break fast some of it”;

• from Ibn `Abbas, something similar;

• from Abu Bakrah: He saw his household preparing new baskets and clay jugs and said: “What is this?” They said: “For Rajab, so that we may fast it.” He said: “Did you change Rajab into Ramadan?” Then he took apart the baskets and broke the jugs.

And Imam Ahmad said: “Whoever fasts all year round may fast all of Rajab. Otherwise, let him not fast all of it but only some of it so that he will not liken it to Ramadan.”[13]

The above makes it clear that:

– Singling out the month of Rajab for fasting is not forbidden, but is at worst disliked;

– It is not even disliked as long as one’s fast is broken to the extent that the similitude with the month of Ramadan is eliminated;

– Even unbroken fast is not disliked if the person fasts all year round.

b) Others cite Sayyid Sabiq’s statement in Fiqh as-Sunnah:

Fasting during Rajab contains no more virtue than during any other month. There is no sound report from the sunnah that states that it has a special reward. All that has been related concerning it is not strong enough to be used as a proof. Ibn Hajar says: “There is no authentic hadith related to its virtues, nor fasting during it or on certain days of it, nor concerning exclusively making night prayers during that month.”[14]

The opinion of Sayyid Sabiq whereby “Fasting during Rajab contains no more virtue than during any other month” etc. is certainly incorrect in view of the fact that Rajab is a sacred month, and the Prophet emphasized the merit of fasting in the sacred months and in Sha`ban. This is established by Nawawi’s commentary of the hadith of Sa`id ibn Jubayr in Muslim cited above, as well as the following hadiths:

1. In Abu Dawud and Bayhaqi: From Mujiba al-Bahiliyya who reported that her father or uncle was told by the Prophet three times: “Fast some and leave some in the sacred months.”[15]

2. In Ahmad: From Usama ibn Zayd: “O Messenger of Allah… I never saw you fast any month (besides Ramadan) as much as you fast during the month of Sha`ban.”

He said: “The people become inattentive during that month between Rajab and Ramadan (i.e. between two great months), and it is a month in which actions are raised to the Lord of the worlds, therefore I like that my actions be raised while I am fasting.”[16]

3. In Bukhari and Muslim from `A’isha: “The Prophet used to fast the whole of Sha`ban but for a little.”

4. In Muslim from Abu Hurayra, the Prophet said: “The best month to fast after Ramadan is Muharram.”

As for the hafiz Ibn Hajar’s opinion it only applies to the pure singling out of the month of Rajab at the exclusion of Ramadan, or Sha`ban, or the sacred months, or the rest of the entire year, because there is no basis for singling out these cases. His opinion therefore does not provide a basis for the claim of the objectors that fasting during Rajab is forbidden or that it is an innovation: for neither the Imams of the fours schools, nor Bayhaqi, nor Nawawi, nor Ibn Hajar, nor even Sayyid Sabiq have claimed this! Furthermore, there is also no sound hadith from the Prophet forbidding the fast of Rajab or disavowing its merit.

c) As for those who object by quoting the hadith in Bukhari and Muslim whereby the Prophet emphasized that the one who fasts all his life has not fasted, then their understanding of this hadith is diametrically opposed to that of the Companions and the Salaf, Abu Hanifa, Malik, Shafi`i, and Ahmad, who did not dislike perpetual fasting as long as it did not include the days of `Id and tashriq.

d) As for the narration from Ibn `Abbas whereby the Prophet forbade the fast of Rajab, then only Ibn Majah reports it, with a chain containing Dawud ibn `Ata’ al-Muzani concerning whom Buhakri, Ibn Abi Hatim, and Abu Zur`a said:

“His hadith is rejected” (munkar al-hadith), and Nisa’i declared him da`if, and Ahmad said: “He is nothing.”

The chain also contains Abu Ayyub Sulayman ibn `Ali al-Hashimi about whom Yahya ibn Sa`id al-Qattan said: “His case is not known,” although Ibn Hibban declared him trustworthy, but Ibn Hibban’s leniency in this is known.

e) As for the hadiths in Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and Darimi concerning the Prophet’s injunction to refrain from fasting in the second half of Sha`ban, then as Tirmidhi explained it applies to those who would deliberately intend to fast only then: it should not be done in view of the proximity of the month of Ramadan. As for those who were fasting before, then they may fast in the second half of Sha`ban.

In conclusion, it is at the very least allowed to fast Rajab and Sha`ban in part or in whole, and we say it is recommended, as the clarity of the intention to follow the Sunna and the knowledge that only the fast of Ramadan is obligatory, preclude the reprehensibility of those who used to honor Rajab in rivalry with Ramadan.

Sufficient proof of the month of Rajab’s status as a great month lies in the fact that it is the month of the Prophet’s rapture and ascension to his Lord (al-isra’ wa al-mi`raj), and they are blessed who commemorate this month and that night for the sake of Allah’s favor to His Prophet and the Community of His Prophet.

 And Allah knows best.[17]

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On fasting in Shaban & Rajab – Hadith Rejector

On fasting in Shaban & Rajab – the BIG MESS by Hadith and the imams!

(1/1)

Heba:

Shaban is the name of the 8th month of the Islamic calendar, and it is so called because in this month the Arabs used to disperse (sha’aba or branch out / emerge) in search of water. To learn more on the various Islamic months, check the this post.

Fasting in Shaban:

(1) ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: “The Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to fast until we thought he would never break his fast, and not fast until we thought he would never fast. I never saw the Messenger of Allaah fasting for an entire month except in Ramadaan, and I never saw him fast more than he did in Sha’baan.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, no. 1833; Muslim, no. 1956).

The above Hadith no.1 flatly contradicts the following Hadith no.2. Hadith no.1 says that the Prophet observed fast in Shaban and Ramadan. Now read the following Hadith no.2. It states that the Prophet instructed to fast only in Ramadan.

(2) Ibn `Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Do not observe Saum (fasting) before the advent of Ramadan. Observe Saum at sighting of the crescent of Ramadan and terminate it at sighting the crescent (of Shawwal). If the sky is overcast, complete (the month as) thirty (days).” [At-Tirmidhi].

‘.–Hadith apologists would probably tender their excuse, something to the effect that Hadith no.1 says that the Prophet personally observed fast in Shaban and Ramadan, but told others to fast only on Ramadan. But according to the practices of our imams, even this is contradicted. Their fatwas are full of orders to fast in Shaban and Rajab.

Then again, I’ve heard many imams telling us to fast the whole of Rajab, but to fast only some days of Shaban and to especially stop fasting during the last few days of Shaban so that it’s not continuous with Ramadan.

– That means, giving a short break before starting the obligatory fasts of Ramadan. But the following Hadith no.3 contradicts that advise.

(3) (Narrated by al-Nasaa’i, see Saheeh al-Targheeb wa’l-Tarheeb, page 425). According to a report narrated by Abu Dawood (no. 2076) she said: “The most beloved of months for the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to fast in was Sha’baan, and his fasting in Sha’baan was continuous with his fasting in Ramadaan.” (Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani, see Saheeh Sunan Abi Dawood, 2/461).

———————————————————–”

Now comes the story of fasting in Rajab which is the 7th month of the Islamic calendar. Its dictionary definition is “to respect.”

Please read the following Hadith no.4. Isn’t it senseless to the core?

(4) `Uthman ibn Hakim al-Ansari said: “I asked Sa`eed ibn Jubayr about fasting in Rajab, and we were then passing through the month of Rajab, whereupon he said: “I heard Ibn `Abbas saying: “The Messenger of Allah used to observe fast so continuously that we thought he would not break it, and did not observe it so continuously that we thought he would not observe fast.

Muslim and Abu Dawud relate it in Kitab al-sawm, respectively in the chapter on fasting at times other than Ramadan, and in the chapter of fasting during Rajab.
Even though Allah does not command us to fast in Rajab, yet the above Hadith narrator is trying to make fasting in Rajab obligatory, and on the basis of that, he is trying to accuse the Prophet (SAW) of not being constant about fasting in Rajab.

Allah Almighty plainly states in the Noble Quran only to fast in Ramadan, but Hadith no.5 below, hints that fasting for the entire month of Rajab has a special reward in Paradise. Allah never instucted to fast in Rajab in the first place, yet these story tellers have not just concocted Rajab as a fasting month but have also constructed its reward, as if they have the power to distribute the rewards in the Hereafter. Their arrogance is shameful.

(5) Bayhaqi relates in Shu`ab al-iman (#3802):

Abu Abdallah al-Hafiz and Abu Muhammad ibn Abi Hamid al-Muqri said:

from Abu al-`Abbas al-Asamm,

from Ibrahim ibn Sulayman al-Barlisi,

from Abdallah ibn Yusuf,

from `Amer ibn Shibl,

who said: “I heard Abu Qilaba say:

“There is a palace in Paradise for those who fast the month of Rajab.”

And here’s Imam Nawawi’s explanation on this Hadith no.4. He first explains it and then tries to reconcile with a contradictory information in Sunan Abu Dawud. Embarrassing moment for poor Imam Nawawi.

Imam Nawawi says: “It would appear that the meaning inferred by Sa`eed ibn Jubayr from Ibn `Abbas’s report is that fasting in Rajab is neither forbidden nor considered praiseworthy in itself, rather, the ruling concerning it is the same as the rest of the months. Neither prohibited nor praised has been established for the month of Rajab in itself. However, the principle concerning fasting is that it is praiseworthy in itself, and in the Sunan of Abu Dawud the Prophet has made the fasting of the sacred months praiseworthy, and Rajab is one of them. And Allah knows best.” Sharh Sahih Muslim Kitab 13 Bab 34 #179.

————————————————-_p-

Now read the arguments on Rajab fasting between al-Muslim and Nawawi – two sources saying two different things. So, what is a person supposed follow if he is stupid enough to take such talks as guidance?

Muslim relates in the first chapter of Kitab al-libas:

Abdullah, the freed slave of Asma’ the daughter of Abu Bakr, the maternal uncle of the son of `Ata’, reported:

“Asma’ sent me to Abdullah ibn `Umar saying: “The news has reached me that you prohibit the use of three things: the striped robe, saddle cloth made of red silk, and fasting the whole month of Rajab.”

Nawawi says: “`Umar’s reply concerning fasting in Rajab is a denial on his part of what Asma’ had heard with regard to his forbidding it, and it is an affirmation that he fasted Rajab in its entirety as well as fasting permanently, i.e. except the days of `Id and tashreeq. This is his madhhab and the madhhab of his father `Umar ibn al-Khattab, `A’isha, Abu Talha, and others of the Salaf as well as Shafi`i and other scholars. Their position is that perpetual fasting is not disliked (makruh).”

———————————————.

Now comes another story. This one says to fast in all sacred months.

Ibn Majah and Ahmad have written in a hadith where a man repeats to the Prophet: “I can bear more,” (meaning supererogatory or nafl fasting), to whom the Prophet says: “Fast during the sacred months.”

It is established that Ibn `Umar fasted during the sacred months: Musannaf `Abd al-Razzaq 4:293, Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba 1:125.

In Abu Dawud and Bayhaqi:

From Mujiba al-Bahiliyya who reported that her father (or uncle) was told by the Prophet (s) three times: “Fast some and leave some in the sacred months.”

——————————————— 

Now comes Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal’s broad hints on fasting all year round!!

“Whoever fasts all year round may fast all of it [i.e. Rajab]. Otherwise, let him not fast all of it but only some of it so that he will not liken it to Ramadan.”

My question to Imam Ahmad is – Allah has said in the Noble Quran that He has not placed any hardships in religion. Thus, Allah wants us to fast only in Ramadan. Fasting all year round is difficult. So, why must Imam Ahmad presume that anyone would fast “all year round?” Do any of you know of anyone who fasts all year round?

———————————————————————————

And finally, a particular school of Hadith is against fasting in Rajab altogether, which would mean Shaban too is out.

According to the views of Shaikh Muhammad Al-Munajjid, a modern scholar I quote:

Quote

Imam Ibn al-Qayyim said: the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not fast for three consecutive months (i.e., Rajab, Sha’baan and Ramadaan) as some people do, and he never fasted Rajab at all, nor did he encourage people to fast this month.

In Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah it states: with regard to fasting specifically in Rajab, we do not know of any basis in Shariah for doing that.

Unquote

The Shaikh further mentions on bid’ah and Innovations in the month of Rajab ..

Quote

Innovation in religion is one of the serious matters which go against the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not die until after the religion had been perfected. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“… This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion…” [Al-Maa’idah 5:3]

It was reported that ‘Aa’isha (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever innovates something in this matter of ours which is not a part of it, will have it rejected.” (Agreed upon).

According to a report narrated by Muslim: “Whoever does an action which is not a part of this matter of ours will have it rejected.”

Some people have innovated a number of practices in Rajab, including the following:

One of the innovations that take place during this month is the recitation of the story of the Mi’raaj, and celebrations to commemorate it on the twenty-seventh of Rajab, or singling out this night to perform extra acts of worship such as Qiyaam al-Layl or fasting during the day, or rejoicing and celebrating.

Salaat al-Raghaa’ib. This prayer became widespread because some liars fabricated this prayer, which is done on the first night of Rajab. Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Salaat al-Raghaa’ib is bid’ah according to the consensus of the scholars of religion, such as Maalik, al-Shaafa’i, Abu Haneefah, al-Thawri, al-‘Oozaa’i, al-Layth and others . The hadeeth that is narrated concerning it is a lie according to the consensus of the scholars who have knowledge of hadeeth.

The du’aa’s which are recited specifically during Rajab are all fabrications and innovations.

Visiting graves specifically in Rajab is bid’ah.

Unquote

Your head must be reeling by now, after reading all these different views and ideas, one contradicting the other. Indeed, there seems to be no end to the squabblings. And don’t forget, the bickerings of different imams as given above is only the tip of the iceberg. There are dozens of more such conflicting stories through Hadiths and the jabberings of imams on this topic. You must be thinking, how to escape this mess?

Well, the best and only way to quit it and the only obligatory requirement is – dump the imams and return to Allah Almighty, the Quran alone.

Also read the Shiia tradition of Rajab:

What exactly is Leilatul Raghaib?

And, to read more on the Sunni perspective:

How far would you agree with this perception of Rajab & Shaban?

Truth Seeker:

lol ;D😀 ;D ,, what the ulemas are doing is playing a game of words. And notice one thing. It’s amusing. Compare hadith no.1 with hadith no.4 allegedly narrated by Aishah and Usman bin Hakim, respectively on Shaban & Rajab fasting. Aishah and Usman bin Hakim were two very different personalities. Yet the ahadith they both have allegedly narrated have exactly the same style and much the same words. What a classic evidence of cheating by writing false hadiths. The only thing we aren’t sure of is, whether the cheating was done by Bukhari & Co. or by Abu Hurairah & Co.

Ruhi_Rose:

My husband and I had read this yesterday. Both of us were left stupified by the MESS! ;D It’s really a big one! We were wondering, how do the Hadithers of different branches & sects reconcile with this stuff. They surely don’t follow the Quran by observing fasts only in Ramadan. So, it’s just anyone’s guess as to which version of the imams they choose.

And br. PT, u picked an interesting point. lol ,, loooooool. It nabs the Bukhari / Huraira collaboration with their hands stuck inside the cookie jar!

A HADITH ON

FASTING IN RAJAB

Imam al-Nawawi said:

“Neither prohibition nor praiseworthiness has been established for the month of Rajab in itself, HOWEVER,

(1) the principle concerning fasting is that it is praiseworthy in itself, and

(2) in the Sunan of Abu Dawud the Prophet has made the fasting of the sacred months praiseworthy, and Rajab is one of them.”

A Hadith On Fasting in Rajab

1. `Uthman ibn Hakim al-Ansari said: “I asked Sa`eed ibn Jubayr about fasting in Rajab, and we were then passing through the month of Rajab, whereupon he said: “I heard Ibn `Abbas saying: “The Messenger of Allah used to observe fast so continuously that we thought he would not break it, and did not observe it so continuously that we thought he would not observe fast.” Muslim and Abu Dawud relate it in Kitab al-sawm, respectively in the chapter on fasting at times other than Ramadan, and in the chapter of fasting during Rajab.

Imam Nawawi says: “It would appear that the meaning inferred by Sa`eed ibn Jubayr from Ibn `Abbas’s report is that fasting in Rajab is  neither forbidden nor considered praiseworthy in itself, rather, the ruling concerning it is the same as the rest of the months. Neither prohibition not praiseworthiness has been established for the month of Rajab in itself, however, the principle concerning fasting is that it is praiseworthy in itself, and in the Sunan of Abu Dawud(*) the Prophet has made the fasting of the sacred months praiseworthy, and Rajab is one of them. And Allah knows best.” Sharh Sahih Muslim Kitab 13 Bab 34 #179.

(*) Kitab al-siyam, Chapter: “Fasting During the Sacred Months”. Also in Ibn Majah and Ahmad, hadith of the man who repeats: “I can bear more,” and to whom the Prophet finally says: “Fast during the sacred months.”

It is established that Ibn `Umar fasted during the sacred months: Musannaf `Abd al-Razzaq 4:293, Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba 1:125.

2. Abdullah, the freed slave of Asma’ the daughter of Abu Bakr, the maternal uncle of the son of `Ata’, reported: “Asma’ sent me to Abdullah ibn `Umar saying: “The news has reached me that you prohibit the use of three things: the striped robe, saddle cloth made of red silk, and fasting the whole month of Rajab.” Abdullah said to me: “So far as what you say about fasting in the month of Rajab, how about one who observes continuous fasting? And so far as what you say about the striped garment, I heard `Umar ibn al-Khattab say that he had heard from Allah’s Messenger : “He who wears a silk garment, has no share for him (in the Hereafter).” And I am afraid that stripes were part of it. And so far as the red saddle cloth is concerned, here is Abdullah’s saddle cloth [=his] and it is red. I went back to Asma’ and informed her, so she said: “Here is the cloak (jubba) of Allah’s Messenger ,” and she brought out to me that cloak made of Persian cloth with a hem of (silk) brocade, and its sleeves bordered with (silk) brocade, and said: “This was Allah’s Messenger’s cloak with `A’isha until she died, then I got possession of it. The Apostle of Allah used to wear that, and we washed it for the sick so that they could seek cure thereby.”” Muslim relates in the first chapter of Kitab al-libas.

Nawawi says: “`Umar’s reply concerning fasting in Rajab is a denial on his part of what Asma’ had heard with regard to his forbidding it, and it is an affirmation that he fasted Rajab in its entirety as well as fasting permanently, i.e. except the days of `Id and tashreeq. This is his madhhab and the madhhab of his father `Umar ibn al-Khattab, `A’isha, Abu Talha, and others of the Salaf as well as Shafi`i and other scholars. Their position is that perpetual fasting is not disliked (makruh).”

[Another opinion is reported from Ibn `Umar through a hadith from Ahmad reported in “al-Mughni” 3:167 whereby he disliked that people fast the whole of Rajab but said: “Fast some of it and break fast in some of it.”]

* * * * *

Nawawi adds: “In this hadith is a proof that it is recommended to seek blessings through the relics of the righteous and their clothes (wa fi hadha al-hadith dalil `ala istihbab al-tabarruk bi aathaar al-salihin wa thiyabihim).” Sharh sahih Muslim Kitab 37 Bab 2 #10.

3. Bayhaqi relates in Shu`ab al-iman (#3802):

Abu Abdallah al-Hafiz and Abu Muhammad ibn Abi Hamid al-Muqri said:

from Abu al-`Abbas al-Asamm,

from Ibrahim ibn Sulayman al-Barlisi,

from Abdallah ibn Yusuf,

from `Amer ibn Shibl,

who said: “I heard Abu Qilaba say:

“There is a palace in Paradise for those who fast the month of Rajab.”

Bayhaqi adds: “Even if it is mawquf at Abu Qilaba (i.e. not traced back to the Prophet) who is one of the Successors, such as he does not say such a saying except if it were related to him by someone who had heard it from him to whom revelation comes (i.e. the Prophet ), and success is from Allah.””

Blessings and Peace on the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions

GF Haddad ©

Those who object to fasting part or all of Rajab and Sha`ban

Commentaries

Those who object to fasting part or all of Rajab and Sha`ban cite the following:

a) `Umar’s punishment of the mutarajjibun — those who fasted the month of Rajab according to a practice carried over from the Jahiliyya — by striking their hands until they broke their fast.

However, this does not constitute a valid objection as `Umar’s act was solely due to some people’s emphasis of Rajab — which used to be fasted during the Jahiliyya — over Ramadan as the fasting month. This is clearly not feared for present-day Muslims. There was also a sacrifice named rajabiyya performed in that month, a practice carried over from the Jahiliyya. Several hadiths in Abu Dawud and Ahmad show that it became obligatory in Islam until the obligation was abrogated. Certain pre-Islamic remnants were fought even in the time of `Umar, as is shown by the latter’s uprooting of a tree for fear of its veneration by some people.

It must be understood that Umar never said “Don’t fast,” rather, he said: “Break your fast,” i.e. do not complete it as you would be obliged to if it were Ramadan. And no one fasted Rajab and Sha`ban completely, this was reserved for Ramadan. However, if someone makes the intention to fast Rajab and Sha`ban completely, it is permitted in the Shari`a, with the understanding that it is mustahabb to break it shortly before Ramadan begins.

Ibn Qudama states in al-Mughni:

It is disliked that Rajab be singled out for fasting. Ahmad said: “If a man fasts during that month, let him break the fast for one day in it, or several, just so as not to fast it all.”

The reason for this is what Ahmad has narrated with his chains:

· from Kharasha ibn al-Hurr: I saw `Umar striking the hands of the mutarajjibin until they helped themselves to the food, and he would say: “Eat! For it is only a month which the Jahiliyya used to magnify”;

· from `Abd Allah ibn `Umar that he would dislike to see the people make preparations for Rajab and would say: “Fast some of it and break fast some of it”;

· from Ibn `Abbas, something similar;

· from Abu Bakrah: He saw his household preparing new baskets and clay jugs and said: “What is this?” They said: “For Rajab, so that we may fast it.” He said: “Did you change Rajab into Ramadan?” Then he took apart the baskets and broke the jugs.

And Imam Ahmad said: “Whoever fasts all year round may fast all of Rajab. Otherwise, let him not fast all of it but only some of it so that he will not liken it to Ramadan.”[13]

The above makes it clear that:

– Singling out the month of Rajab for fasting is not forbidden, but is at worst disliked;

– It is not even disliked as long as one’s fast is broken to the extent that the similitude with the month of Ramadan is eliminated;

– Even unbroken fast is not disliked if the person fasts all year round.

b) Others cite Sayyid Sabiq’s statement in Fiqh as-Sunnah:

Fasting during Rajab contains no more virtue than during any other month. There is no sound report from the sunnah that states that it has a special reward. All that has been related concerning it is not strong enough to be used as a proof. Ibn Hajar says: “There is no authentic hadith related to its virtues, nor fasting during it or on certain days of it, nor concerning exclusively making night prayers during that month.”[14]

The opinion of Sayyid Sabiq whereby “Fasting during Rajab contains no more virtue than during any other month” etc. is certainly incorrect in view of the fact that Rajab is a sacred month, and the Prophet emphasized the merit of fasting in the sacred months and in Sha`ban. This is established by Nawawi’s commentary of the hadith of Sa`id ibn Jubayr in Muslim cited above, as well as the following hadiths:

1. In Abu Dawud and Bayhaqi: From Mujiba al-Bahiliyya who reported that her father or uncle was told by the Prophet three times: “Fast some and leave some in the sacred months.”[15]

2. In Ahmad: From Usama ibn Zayd: “O Messenger of Allah… I never saw you fast any month (besides Ramadan) as much as you fast during the month of Sha`ban.” He said: “The people become inattentive during that month between Rajab and Ramadan (i.e. between two great months), and it is a month in which actions are raised to the Lord of the worlds, therefore I like that my actions be raised while I am fasting.”[16]

3. In Bukhari and Muslim from `A’isha: “The Prophet used to fast the whole of Sha`ban but for a little.”

4. In Muslim from Abu Hurayra, the Prophet said: “The best month to fast after Ramadan is Muharram.”

As for the hafiz Ibn Hajar’s opinion it only applies to the pure singling out of the month of Rajab at the exclusion of Ramadan, or Sha`ban, or the sacred months, or the rest of the entire year, because there is no basis for singling out these cases. His opinion therefore does not provide a basis for the claim of the objectors that fasting during Rajab is forbidden or that it is an innovation: for neither the Imams of the fours schools, nor Bayhaqi, nor Nawawi, nor Ibn Hajar, nor even Sayyid Sabiq have claimed this! Furthermore, there is also no sound hadith from the Prophet forbidding the fast of Rajab or disavowing its merit.

c) As for those who object by quoting the hadith in Bukhari and Muslim whereby the Prophet emphasized that the one who fasts all his life has not fasted, then their understanding of this hadith is diametrically opposed to that of the Companions and the Salaf, Abu Hanifa, Malik, Shafi`i, and Ahmad, who did not dislike perpetual fasting as long as it did not include the days of `Id and tashriq.

d) As for the narration from Ibn `Abbas whereby the Prophet forbade the fast of Rajab, then only Ibn Majah reports it, with a chain containing Dawud ibn `Ata’ al-Muzani concerning whom Buhakri, Ibn Abi Hatim, and Abu Zur`a said: “His hadith is rejected” (munkar al-hadith), and Nisa’i declared him da`if, and Ahmad said: “He is nothing.” The chain also contains Abu Ayyub Sulayman ibn `Ali al-Hashimi about whom Yahya ibn Sa`id al-Qattan said: “His case is not known,” although Ibn Hibban declared him trustworthy, but Ibn Hibban’s leniency in this is known.

e) As for the hadiths in Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and Darimi concerning the Prophet’s injunction to refrain from fasting in the second half of Sha`ban, then as Tirmidhi explained it applies to those who would deliberately intend to fast only then: it should not be done in view of the proximity of the month of Ramadan. As for those who were fasting before, then they may fast in the second half of Sha`ban.

In conclusion, it is at the very least allowed to fast Rajab and Sha`ban in part or in whole, and we say it is recommended, as the clarity of the intention to follow the Sunna and the knowledge that only the fast of Ramadan is obligatory, preclude the reprehensibility of those who used to honor Rajab in rivalry with Ramadan. Sufficient proof of the month of Rajab’s status as a great month lies in the fact that it is the month of the Prophet’s rapture and ascension to his Lord (al-isra’ wa al-mi`raj), and they are blessed who commemorate this month and that night for the sake of Allah’s favor to His Prophet and the Community of His Prophet. And Allah knows best.[17]

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Rajab

The Sacred Month of Rajab

by Yusra Owais (Amatullah)June 2, 2012

Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala—exalted is He) has given a special status to certain days, months, places, and people. The Prophets of God are the most honored among mankind; Makkah is the holiest of all cities; Ramadan is the best month; and the Night of Power (Laylatul Qadr) is the greatest night of the year.

Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:

“Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allah [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred […]” (Qur’an, 9:36)

These four sacred months were mentioned by the Prophet (p.b.h) (peace be upon him) during his farewell pilgrimage:

“O People! Time has gone back to how it was at the time Allah created the Heavens and the Earth. A year has twelve months, four of which are sacred, three consecutive, Dhul-Qi’dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram, and Rajab.” (Bukhari)

As we look through the Qur’an and Sunnah (Prophetic tradition), we are taught to respect and honor what God and His Prophet (p.b.h) have honored. These sacred months are a time for us to reflect on our lives, exert ourselves in extra worship and ask Allah (swt) for His forgiveness.

Specifically, Allah (swt) reminds us to guard our actions during the sacred months:

“O you who have believed, do not violate the rites of Allah or [the sanctity of] the sacred month […]” (Qur’an, 5:2)

He (swt) reminds us not once but twice to be careful of what we do during a sacred month:

“[…] so do not wrong yourselves during them (i.e., the sacred months) […]” (Qur’an, 9:36)

These two verses show us the importance of being a conscientious believer. The only way we can make sure we do not wrong ourselves during the sacred months is to be conscious of our actions. Time and time again we forget or are lax in our duties to God. Allah (swt) has given us these sacred months to turn back to Him and to take account of ourselves.

The month of Rajab comes at an important time of the year for us. The coming of this month means that we are close to yet another Ramadan, God Willing. While the validity of certain narrations or specific acts of worship for this month are disputed, we as average Muslims can use this month with the intention to mentally and physically prepare for Ramadan.

How can we honor the month of Rajab and use it as a preparation for Ramadan?

Reflect on your Life and Deeds. Take some alone time and ask yourself the hard questions we normally don’t like to think about: If I died today, where would I stand with Allah? Have I prepared for Ramadan? Have I been conscious of what I am saying and doing to those around me? Am I stagnant in my worship?

Deprive your Nafs (lower self). I was with my brother one day and I mentioned that I was hungry and wanted to get something to eat. He told me: “Teach your nafs a lesson. We shouldn’t always give it what it wants.” This does not mean that we starve ourselves or do not take care of our bodies. One of the goals of Ramadan is to increase in our God-consciousness by not indulging ourselves with what our soul desires. Eat a simple meal for a few days instead of an expensive or huge meal. Wake up early and go for a walk. Pray extra prayers. Go to the mosque for fajr if you normally do not do so. Exert yourself and do something to “teach your nafs a lesson.”

Fasting. There is no better way to prepare for Ramadan than to fast some extra days. A’isha (radia Allahu `anha—may God be pleased with her) was known to fast during the summer, and when the scholars would mention her habit, they would add: “If the price is cheap, then everyone will buy it.” Ibn Rajab explained: “She wanted to do those actions that only a few were capable of due to how hard it was to do them, and this is indicative of the high aspirations she had.” While we can’t get out of having Ramadan in the summer, we can follow our mother A’isha (ra) and be of the few that do something valuable before we are all obligated to fast. Now is the time to not only prepare for fasting but to gain some reward as the temperature rises.

Remember the Hereafter. The Prophet (p.b.h) said: “Hell complained to its Lord saying: O Lord! My parts are eating (destroying) one another. So Allah allowed it to take two breaths, one in the winter and the other in the summer. The breath in the summer is at the time when you feel the severest heat and the breath in the winter is at the time when you feel the severest cold.” (Bukhari)

Charity. Most of us do some act of charity every day without realizing it. In this sacred month, be charitable with the intention of pleasing God. Being courteous, helping someone, feeding another, saying a good word, sharing a reminder and even abstaining from doing a bad deed are all non-monetary forms of charity taught to us by the Messenger.

Supplicate (make du`a’) to Allah. Ask for His forgiveness and guidance. Ask Allah (swt) to bless us to reach Ramadan and to make the month of Rajab, and the following month of Sha’ban, a means for us to prepare for Ramadan. It is reported that the Prophet of God used to supplicate when Rajab came, “O Allah! Bless us during Rajab and Sha’ban, and let us reach Ramadan.”
Take Care of Your Tree. Ibn Rajab used to say: “The year is like a tree. The days of Rajab are its foliation. The days of Sha’ban are its branching and the days of Ramadan are wherein its fruits are reaped. The reapers are the believers. It is befitting for the one who has blackened his pages with sins to whiten them with repentance in this month, and for the one who has squandered his life in idleness to profit in it from what remains of his life.”

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THE ALLEGED BORROWING FROM JUDAEO-CHRlSTIAN SOURCES 

  CHAPTER II ___________________________

THE ALLEGED BORROWING FROM 

JUDAEO-CHRlSTIAN SOURCES 

____________________________
I. INTRODUCTORY REMARKS 
A good deal has been written on the theme of the Prophet’s having allegedly drawn on Judaism and Christianity in formulating his doctrines and teachings. The aim of these writings has invariably been to show, on the one hand, his preparations for the role he played and, on the other, to disprove the divine origin of the Qur’an. The first modern scholar to advance this line of the assumption seems to be Abraham Geiger1 who concentrated on the supposed Jewish influence on the Prophet. He was shortly afterwards followed by William Muir who was perhaps the first modern scholar to advance the theory as a whole and did most to popularize it. Since his writings a number of works have appeared on the subject.2 In 1926 was published Richard Bell’s The Origin if Islam in its Christian Environment. Shortly afterwards the Jewish case was stated in C. C. Torrey’s The Jewish Foundation if Islam3 and restated in A. I Katsh’s Judaism in Islam.4 The sheer volume of these writings calls for an independent treatment of it. The scope of the present work, however, allows only an epitomization and discussion of the main assumptions which are in fact reflected in the works of Muir, Margoliouth and Watt. 

_____________________________

II. SUMMARY OF THE ASSUMPTIONS 

________________________________
Muir says that Muhammad (p.b.h.) obtained his knowledge of Judaism and Christianity through his contact with the followers of those religions in Makka, Madina and the ‘Ukaz fair, as well as in the course of his trade journeys to Syria. Even as a child he is said to have seen the Jews at Madina, “heard of their synagogue and worship, and learned to respect them as men that feared God.”5 Muir of course rejects as “puerile” the story of a meeting between Nestorius and the Prophet during his second journey to Syria leading Khadijah’s (r.a.) trade 

_______________________________________

1 ABRAHAM GEIGER, Was hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthem aujgenommen?, Bonn, 1833. 
2 Of such works mention may be made of 

(a) WILHELM RUDOLPH, Abhangigkeit des Qoran.r von Judentum und Die Chri.rtentunm, Stuttgart, 1922; 

(b) TOR ANDRAE, Der Ursprnng des Islams und des Christentum, Stockholm, 1926 (Fr. tr. Les Origins de I’lslam le Christianisme, Paris, 1955); 

(c) K. AHRENS, “Christliches in Qoran”, ZDMG, 1930, 15-68, 148-190 (also his Muhammed als Religions stifler, Leipzig, 1935). 
3 New York, 1933, republished 1967. 
4 NewYork,1954. 
5 MUIR, op.dt, third edition, 15 (1st edition, II, 8). 

________________________
THE ALLEGED BORROWING FROM JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY 27 
caravan to that place. Yet, says Muir, “we may be certain that Mahomet lost no opportunity of enquiring into the practices and tenets of the Syrian Christians or of conversing with the monks and clergy who fell in his way. “1 As specific instances of such contacts, however, Muir mentions only three, namely, 
(a) the Prophet’s having heard as a boy the preaching of Quss ibn Sa’ida at the ‘Ukaz fair,2 
(b) the contact with Zayd ibn Harithah whose ancestors, Muir supposes, had been exposed to the influence of Christianity and who, though sold as a slave when a little boy, must have communicated whatever impressions he had of Christianity to Muhammad (p.b.h.);3 and 
(c) the contact with Waraqah ibn Nawfal who, as Muir puts it, “had an acknowledged share in satisfying the mind of Mahomet that his mission was divine. “4 
Muir further says that Muhammad (p.b.h.) must have noticed the differences and conflicts among the Christians and the Jews but nonetheless he obtained from them the idea of One True God, of divine revelation, of a Book and of a name, that of Abraham (Ibrahim), which both Jews and Christians repeated with profound veneration and who was “the builder of the Ka’ba and author of the rites observed there by every Arab tribe.”. Muir also says that while in Syria the Prophet must have observed what is called “the national profession of Christianity” there. As a result of all these, concludes Muir, Muhammad (p.b.h.) thought of acting the part of a Christian bishop, “but on a still wider and more catholic scale.”5 
Having said this, and being obviously aware of the differences between the teachings of the Qur’an and the articles of the Christian faith, Muir attempts to explain the position by saying that the Prophet derived his information from the “orthodox party”, the “ecclesiastics and monks of Syria”, and thus he obtained a “distorted” and faulty view of Christianity, particularly with regard to Mary and Jesus.6 Had he been given a correct view, observes Muir, he would have become a Christian instead of founding a new religion. Muir therefore laments that “the misnamed catholicism of the Empire thus grievously misled the master mind of the age, and through him eventually so great a part of the eastern world. “7 The views thus advanced by Muir were taken over and repeated by subsequent writers. Thus Margoliouth, for instance, builds upon Muir’s suggestions and says 

________________________________

1 Ibid., 20 (1st edition, II, 18). 

2 Ibid., 15-16 (1st edition, II, 7-8). 

3 Ibid, 34 ( 1st edition, II, 49-50). 

4 Ibid .. (1st edition, II, 52). 

5 Ibid.,16 (1st edition, II, 8-9). 

6 Ibid., 20-21 (1st edition, II, 19-20). 

7 Ibid. 

__________________________________
28 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
that in the course of his trading activities Muhammad (p. b. h.), picked up information, most of it from “conversations (e.g.) at wine-shop or from listening to story-tellers” among whom were “Jewish dealers who traded in clothes.”1 From such intercourse with the Arabian Jews and Christians the Prophet is said to have “derived a sort of biblical phraseology”.2 Also, he is said to have been so engrossed in business that “traces of this calling are found all over his Sacred Book.”3 Like Muir, Margoliouth also says that Muhammad (p.b.h.) got the idea of a Prophet, of divine revelation, of a Book, etc. from the Jews and Christians and that the Prophet’s knowledge about these two systems was faulty and “superficial”.4 Margoliouth adds, however, that as time went on the Prophet’s knowledge about the biblical stories improved. There “is no question”, writes Margoliouth, “that as the Koran grew in bulk, its knowledge of biblical stories became somewhat more accurate: and though this greater degree of accuracy may have at times been due to the Prophet’s memory, it is more likely that he took such opportunities as offered of acquiring more information. “5 
But while Muir laments that a distorted view of Christianity prevented Muhammad’s (p.b.h.) ultimate conversion to that system, Margoliouth seeks to explain that outcome in terms of the Prophet’s design and personal ambition. The part which the Prophet played, says Margoliouth, was “present to his mind for many years, suggested by conversations with Jews and Christian and Parsees”, all of whom had “one thing which the Arabs had not: a legislator, who had acted as divine commissioner … Yet each nation ought to have a leader. Here then was an opportunity for a Prophet. “6 
Echoing Muir’s view that the Prophet observed and was impressed by the “national profession of Christianity” in Syria, Margoliouth says that when he (the Prophet) visited countries where “the whole population was subjected to the law of God” he was convinced of the backwardness of his own country and of the need for reform which he decided to carry out by assuming the role of a prophet and by means of a revelation which he saw as “an indispensable preliminary of progress.”7 He did not think of either Judaism or Christianity because, according 

_____________________________

1 MARGOLIOUTH, op.cit., 60. 

2 Ibid., 58-59. 

3 Ibid.,69. Here Margoliouth refers to C.C.Torrey’s Commercial-Tbeologica/ Term.r in the Koran, Leiden, 1892, without specifying the author and title of the work. 

4 MARGOLIOUTH, op.cit., 76-77. 

5 Ibid., 106. 

6 Ibid., 73. 

7 Ibid., 74. 

_________________________________
THE ALLEGED BORROWING FROM JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY 29 
to Margoliouth , Christianity “could not be dissociated from subjection to the suzerainty of Byzantium and Mohammed was far too great a patriot to contemplate the introduction of a foreign yoke.” Also, even if converted to “an established religion, he could not have pretended to such knowledge of it as older members possessed. “1 Hence he decided to reproduce the role of Moses or Jesus. “Being a cool-headed student of human nature”, further states Margoliouth, Muhammad (p.b.h.) could see that “they were men, and what they had done he could do. “2 His plans are said to have been facilitated by the prevailing differences between the Jews and the Christians and between the latter’s rival sects, and at Madina he “claimed that it was his mission to put them right where  they disagree . “3
These Muir-Margoliouth assumptions have been adopted and developed by Watt. Thus, he deals rather elaborately with what he calls the “relation of Islamic teachings to Judaeo-Christian sources” and states that “one of the theses” of his book, Muhammad at Mecca, is that the greatness of Islam is largely due to a “fusion” of some Arab elements “with certain 

Judaeo-Christian conceptions. “4 He sets the theme on a wider plane and speaks about the influence of these “sources” upon the then Arabs in general, or rather on Muhammad’s (p.b.h.) environment, as well as upon him individually.5 Like his predecessors Watt holds that the concept of monotheism was derived mainly from Christianity and Judaism. Though not excluding the possibility of influence from the monotheistic groups like the banfjs he discounts any “movement” as such towards monotheism6 and asserts that the “premonitions of monotheism among the Arabs must have been due mainly to Christian and Jewish influences.”7 Like Muir and Margoliouth, again, Watt traces these influences through the Arabs’ contact with the Jews and Christians in Arabia and with the Byzantine Empire, which was Christian and “whose power and civilization they grearly admired”, and also Abyssinia and even Al-I;Iirah, which “was an outpost of the East Syrian or Nestorian Church.”8 Watt also repeats the Muir-Margoliouth assumption that the idea of prophethood was derived from Judaism and Christianity. The “idea that Hud and Salih were 

__________________________

I Ibid., 77. 

2 Ibid .,78. 

3 Ibid., 76-77. 

4 WATT,M.at M.,23. 

5 Ibid., 25-29 and Excursus B, pp. 158-161; and Muhammad’s Mecca 36-38. 

6 M. at M., 28; Muhammad’s Mecca, 37-38. 

7 M. at M., 27. 

8 Ibid. 

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30 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
prophets to ‘Ad and Thamud”, writes Watt, “was probably a pre-Qur’anic instance of the application of the Judaeo-Christian conception of prophethood.”1 
Having thus spoken of the “indirect environmental influence” Watt comes to the question of “direct” influence and says that there is “good evidence” showing that the Prophet had a “monotheist informant”.2 This “good evidence” he seeks in the Qur’anic statement, 16:103, which, it may be mentioned here, is cited also by Noldeke and Margoliouth to suggest that the Prophet had an informant.3 This passage gives a lie to the unbelievers’ allegation to the same effect by pointing out that the person they hinted at spoke a foreign tongue, but the Qur’an is in clear Arabic.4  Watt does not, however, cite Margoliouth. Instead, he adopts C.C. Torrey’s peculiar interpretation of the passage5 saying that it shows that the Prophet did not deny having a human teacher but only insisted that the teaching came from heaven. 6 
Proceeding on the basis of that assumption Watt next develops what Margoliouth says about the supposed growth in accuracy in the Prophet’s knowledge of Biblical stories with the passage of time. Watt cites some seven Qur’anic passages, which we shall presently notice, to show what he calls the “growth in accuracy of the acquaintance with Old Testament stories, particularly with regard to Abraham and Lot.”7 He adds that “there are a great many” of such examples of growth in accuracy, without of course citing them, and says that in view of these it is difficult for the “western critic” to resist the conclusion that the Prophet’s “knowledge of these stories was growing and that therefore he was getting information from a person or persons familiar with them. “8 In this connection Watt further refers to the Qur’anic passage 11:51 which says that neither the Prophet nor his people previously knew the stories of the Prophets revealed to him. Watt says that the “embarrassment caused by such a verse to those who want to uphold the sincerity of Muhammad” (p.b.h.) could be resolved by supposing that he did not make any distinction between the “story” and the “teaching” implicit in it and by interpreting the term nuhi (We reveal) occurring in 

________________________________

I Ibid., 28. 

2 Ibid., 27 and Excursus B, p. 159. 

3 Margoliouth, op.cit., 106-107. 

4 The passage runs as:;.,.-‘-1’/ 0U l.i. J ~!<,11 0J.l>J, c>.iJI 0U 

5 C.C.Torrey, The Jewish Foundation of islam, op.cit., 43f. 

6 Watt, M. at M., Excursus, B, p. 159. 

7 Ibid. 

8 Ibid. 

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THE ALLEGED BORROWING FROM JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY 31 
the passage to mean we “cause to understand the teaching implicit in it or the significance of’, etc.1 
Reiterating the same views in his latest work and further citing the Qur’anic statement in 25:4 Watt states that there might have been more than one informant for Muhammad (p.b.h.) and that the Qur’an “does not deny that Muhammad was receiving information in this way” but that it merely insists that the material thus received “could not have been Qur’an, since a foreigner could not express himself in clear Arabic.” 

Watt thus once again states that what the Prophet received from his informants “would be factual knowledge” but the “meaning and interpretation of the facts” came to him “by the usual process of revelation. “2 
Further, Watt recapitulates and expands the Muir-Margoliouth assumption that the Prophet had obtained certain distorted and mistaken notions of these two religions and those notions were reproduced in the Qur’an. Avoiding Muir’s insinuation against the “orthodox party” and the Syrian Church Watt says that “the particular Jewish and Christian groups which influenced the Arabs” had “many strange ideas”. Examples of such strange notions, asserts Watt, are the Qur’anic statement which “suggests that the Trinity consists of Father, Son and Mary”. This statement, emphasizes Watt, “is doubtless a criticism of some nominally Christian Arabs who held this view”. Watt further states that “much of the detail” from the Jewish side also was incorporated in the Qur’an, but this came “not from the sacred scripture but from secondary sources of various types.”3 
The same thing he repeats in his latest work saying that “some people in Mecca wrongly supposed certain beliefs to be held by Jews and Christians”, namely, “that Christians took Jesus and Mary to be two gods apart from God, and that ‘Uzayr [Ezra] to be the son of God.”4 These Qur’anic statements, asserts Watt, “are palpably false” because “these were beliefs held by the Meccans” and because, according to him, “it was not essential for God’s purposes that false ideas of this sort should be corrected”, for He addressed the Arabs “in terms of their existing beliefs” and the Qur’anic message could be communicated “without correcting these beliefs.”5 Elaborating the same assumption Watt states that the 

_____________________

I Ibid 

2 Muhammad’s Mecca, 45. 

3 M. at M., 27-28. 

4 Muhammad’s Mecca, 2, 45. 

5 Ibid., 2, 44. 

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32 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
Qur’an addresses the Arabs in the first instance, speaking “in terms of their world picture”, including even points in which that picture was “mistaken”. In support of this statement he refers to the prevailing notion of the earth being a flat space and quotes some seven Qur’anic passages to show that that mistaken notion was reproduced in the Qur’an.1 
Again, like Muir and Margoliouth, more particularly the latter, Watt states that Muhammad (p.b.h.), having observed the unsatisfactory social condition of his land and people, and having been convinced of the need for bringing about a reformation, thought that this could be done by means of a revelation or religion. As Watt puts it, Muhammad (p.b.h.) “may even have decided that this [unsatisfactory state] could be got rid of by some form of religious belief. “2 Echoing Margoliouth in a remarkable way, Watt further suggests that Muhammad (p.b.h.) launched a new monotheistic movement in order to avoid the political implication of adopting Judaism or Christianity; “for Christianity was linked with the Byzantine and the Abyssinian empires, and Judaism had support in the Persian empire. In effect Islam gave the Arabs a monotheism independent of the empires.”3 Watt winds up his discussion by adopting in effect Bell’s observation that for “the study of the life of Muhammad it is hardly necessary” to delineate the relative importance of Jewish and Christian influences; for, he admits, “many details are disputed”. “The main necessity”, he emphasizes, “is to realize that such things were ‘in the air’ before the Qur’an came to Muhammad and were part of the preparation of himself and of his environment for his 

mission. “4 
Thus do the orientalists advance identical views and arguments. In general, these arguments revolve round the following five assumptions: 
(1) The circumstantial or environmental influence of Judaism and Christianity; 

(2) The alleged specific instances of Mul).ammad’s (p.b.h.) contact with particular Christian individuals; 

(3) The supposed Qur’anic evidence about his informant or informants; (4) The supposed gradual growth in accuracy in the Qur’an’s narration of the biblical stories; and 

(5) The alleged reproduction of contemporary scientific errors in the Qur’an. 
_____________________

1 Ibid., 2, 5-7. The Qur’anic passages quoted are: 2:22, 13:3; 20:53; 51:47-48; 71:19-20; 78:6-7 and 79:27-33. See below for discussion on these passages. 

2 Ibid., 51. 

3 Ibid., 38. 

4 M. at M., 29 

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THE ALLEGED BORROWING FROM JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANI1Y 33 
The following is a discussion of the first four categories of arguments. The fifth, the alleged errors in the Qur’an, is dealt with separately in the next chapter. 
______________________________________________________

III. ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCE IN GENERAL 

______________________________________________________
It is an acknowledged fact that there were Jews and Christians in Arabia; the former mainly at Yathrib (Madina) and the latter mainly at Najran. So far as Makka, the birth-place of the Prophet and the immediate scene of his activities was concerned, there were only a few Christians of humble social and intellectual status, being either slaves or petty retailers, and mostly immigrants. One or two original inhabitants of Makka like ‘Uthman ibn al-Huwayrith and Waraqah ibn Nawfal had turned Christians, the former out of personal or political considerations, and the latter as a result of his search for a better faith. Also the Makkans conducted trading operations with such countries as Syria and Abyssinia where Christianity prevailed. It is therefore quite understandable that the knowledgeable section of the Makkan community, including Mul).ammad (p.b.h.) had been aware of both Judaism and Christianity as systems of religion and did doubtless also know something of the common beliefs and practices of the votaries of those religions. Indeed all the three of our scholars, Muir, Margoliouth and Watt, are at one in stating, after all their arguments, that Muhammad’s knowledge of Christianity was at best second-hand, “superficial” and erroneous. Margoliouth even states that one reason why Muhammad (p.b.h.) did not embrace either of these religions was that he realized he could not pretend to such knowledge of it as its older members possesses. Now, this being obviously the most that the orientalists think was the level of Muhammad’s supposedly acquired knowledge of the two religions, the question that naturally suggests itself to the general reader is: Is it reasonable to assume that a person of Muhammad’s (p.b.h.) intelligence and common sense, as on all hands he is admitted to have been endowed with, would proceed to propound a new religion and challenge the correctness of both the prevailing systems of Judaism and Christianity on the basis of a mere hearsay and superficial knowledge of these systems of faiths? The orientalists, although they spare no pains to prove ambition and preparations on the Prophet’s part to play the role he did, would just not address themselves to this simple and natural question. The inherent weakness and inconsistency in the orientalists’ approach lies in the fact that they suggest , on the one hand, that the Prophet was ambitious and therefore careful enough to avoid the political 
34 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
implications of embracing either Judaism or Christianity and, on the other, that he was careless enough to proceed to found a new religion by picking up information from bazaar gossips and Jewish story-tellers at wine shops! 
The fact is that it is as naive to say that Islam is an amalgam of second-hand information about Judaism and Christianity with some Arab elements, as it is absurd to suggest that the Prophet was not cognizant of the two religious systems. There is no doubt that the concepts of prophethood, revelation and of Allah as Supreme Lord were known to the pre-Islamic Arabs. The existence of these concepts does not, however, ipso facto prove they were derived from the Jews, although the latter undoubtedly possessed these concepts as well. In so far as the concept of prophethood is concerned, the memory of Ibrahim as Prophet and founder of the Ka’ba which the Arabs universally cherished, and the Abrahamic rites like Hajj or pilgrimage to the Ka ‘ba were unquestionably pre-Jewish and pre-Christian. Similarly the concept of Allah as Supreme Lord was known to the pre-Islamic Arabs independently of any Jewish or Christian influence. The concept was in fact a remnant of the teachings of Ibrahim which had spread in Arabia before the coming into existence of either Judaism or Christianity. So was the concept of banfj as a worshipper of one God, which also finds mention in the Qur’an. The orientalists of course recognize the existence of the concept of Allah among the pre-Islamic Arabs; and of late Watt pays special attention to this point.1 But while quoting a number of Qur’anic passages that clearly show the existence of this concept of Allah among the pre-Islamic Arabs, and while quoting Teixidor’s study of the inscriptions to show that belief in a high or supreme God was common throughout the Semitic Near East in the Greco-Roman period2 and thus trying to illustrate the Prophet’s indebtedness to the prevailing ideas, Watt is very careful in not tracing this concept of a· “high God” in any way to the so-called Judaeo-Christian influence. Nor does he explain how this particular concept came into existence and continued to survive among the polytheistic Arabs. He of course suggests, like Margoliouth, that the “archaic” religion or paganism was in decline because, according to him, of a growing awareness of the powerlessness of the gods and goddesses. 3 Also, following others, he attempts to explain the composition of the word Allah.4 Yet, neither 

_______________________________________

1 WATT, Muhammad’s Mecca, 31-36. 
2 Ibid., 35, quoting Javier Teixidor, The Pagan God: Popular Religion in the Greco-Roman Period, Princeton, 1977, pp. 17, 161. 
3 WATT, M. at M., 23-24; Muhammad’s Mecca, 35. See also MARGOLIOUTH, op.,it., 24. 
4 WATT, M. at M., 26-27. See also Hitti, op.dt., 100-101. 

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THE ALLEGED BORROWING FROM JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY 35 
this nor the supposed decline in paganism does in itself explain the emergence of the concept of Allah as “high God”. 
As regards the concept of monotheism the Qur’an, and for that matter the Prophet, accused the contemporary Arabs, Jews and Christians of having deviated from the original teachings of their prophets and of having degenerated into polytheism. There is thus no question of his having taken over the concept of monotheism from the Jews and the Christians, because he so unequivocally controverted and rejected what they said to be the teachings of their scriptures. In fact, even a cursory glance at the Qur’an unmistakably brings out two undeniable facts. First, the Qur’an does not claim any originality in the sense of presenting a new religion. It claims merely to revive and fulfil the same message which it maintains -and here is its originality -Allah has given to all the Prophets throughout the ages and to every people. More specifically, it claims its teachings to be the same as those of Prophets Ibrahim, Musa and ‘Isa (p.b.t.), about all of whom it speaks in glowing terms. Second, it very uncompromisingly rejects and denounces the polytheistic beliefs and practices of the contemporary Arabs and also of the Jews and Christians. These two-fold notes of the Qur’an are just the reverse of what the orientalists suggest. They say that Muhammad (p.b.h.) had no first-hand knowledge of their scriptures. He had neither read them himself, nor was any Arabic version of them available at the time. The Qur’an, and for that matter the Prophet, emphatically say, on the other hand, that their teachings are essentially the same as those of the original scriptures of the Jews and the Christians. Secondly, the orientalists insist that Muhammad (p.b.h.) derived his knowledge from those of his contemporary Jews and Christians whom he happened to meet. The Qur’an, and therefore the Prophet, insist that the contemporary Jews and Christians were mistaken and misguided and had deviated from the teachings of their original scriptures, particularly in respect of monotheism. 
The only conclusion which any reasonable and impartial observer can draw from this situation is, first, that Muhammad (p.b.h.) did not make up his teachings by picking up information from here and there; for in that case he would have feigned originality, would not have traced his teachings to the previous scriptures or would have at least so chosen his audience as were not likely to detect the sources of his information. Secondly, he had not obtained his information from his contemporaries because he found fault with them and set about to reform
36 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
them and to bring them back to the original teachings of the previous prophets. Thirdly, since, while saying that his teachings were the same as those of the previous scriptures, he at the same time stated that he had not read any of them, and since the orientalists also agree that he had not read any of those scriptures, his source of knowledge must have been something else than either a first-hand perusal of those scriptures or a second-hand knowledge of them obtained from his contemporaries. 
Some of the orientalists, particularly Watt, of course suggest a third possibility, that of there being a monotheist informant or informants for the Prophet. This assumption raises more questions than it solves. The so-called Qur’anic evidence on which this assumption is based would be examined presently. It may only be noted here that the Qur’an, far from indicating that the Prophet had any human informant, does just the opposite thing of denying such allegation made by the unbelievers. 
It has also been suggested, particularly by Margoliouth, that the Prophet, having got the name of Ibrahim from the Jews and the Christians, traced his teachings to him in order to claim precedence over both Judaism and Christianity. Further, it has been said that the Prophet’s denunciation of the Jews and the Christians began after his break with the former at Madina. These two suggestions are manifestly untenable. The Abrahamic tradition, the Ka’ba and the rites connected with them existed there for ages before the Prophet’s birth. If he had invented the tradition and thus related his teachings to Ibrahim, he (the Prophet) would have been simply ridiculed not only by his adversaries but also by his followers. Secondly, the rejection of the concept of sonship or fathership of God and the assertion that both the Jews and the Christians had deviated from the teachings of their original scriptures had been very distinctly made in the Makkan surahs of the Qur’an, long before the migration to Madina and the subsequent development of enmity with the Jews of that place. 
The truth is that it was impossible to get an impression of monotheism by any amount of observation of and acquaintance with the Judaism and the Christianity of the day. Even a perusal of the extant scriptures would have hardly conveyed such an impression. The God in the Old Testament is depicted as essentially a tribal god, openly partial to the children of Israel. Such a god could scarcely attract the imagination, far less the adoration, of a non-Israelite population. The New Testament, on the other hand, obscured and blurred the concept of One 
THE ALLEGED BORROWING FROM JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY 37 
God by inextricably tagging it with the manifestly difficult and admittedly mysterious doctrine of the Trinity which conceived God not in easily understandable Unity but in “God the Father”, “God the Son” and “God the Holy Ghost”, these being not distinct qualities of a single entity but three distinct and separate entities. Moreover, the doctrine of incarnation on which the concept of “God the Son” rests is essentially no different from the same doctrine of the Hindus. Like the Christians, a modern Hindu, while acknowledging the existence of many gods and goddesses and a sort of Trinity in the existence of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva (Trideva), would equally assiduously assert that his sacred texts do in the ultimate analysis speak of One and Only True God,1 though a non-Hindu finds it difficult to accept that Hinduism inculcates monotheism. And so far as the practices of the Jews and the Christians of the time were concerned,. these were acknowledgedly beset with the most debasing corruption and superstitions and as such they were the farthest removed from being model monotheists. Muir indirectly admits this fact when he squarely decries what he calls the “misnamed catholicism” of the Empire and the “orthodox party” of the Syrian church. The situation indeed continued to deteriorate for several centuries after the emergence of Islam. In fact, the various reform movements in Christianity, particularly the Cluniac Movement, the Iconoclastic Movement and the Reformation started by Martin Luther bear an eloquent testimony to the depth of corruption and superstition into which the Christians and the Christianity of the day had degenerated. In a way, all these reform movements and the subsequent emphasis on monotheism, in spite of the adherence to the doctrines of the Trinity and the divinity of Christ, are by and large an impact of the uncompromising monotheism enunciated and propagated by Islam. In any case, so far as the state of Christianity in the 7th-8th century Syria and the neighbouring lands were concerned, it was more likely to repel than to attract any outside observer. Truly has it been said that the “self-conceit” which deludes one to assume that the spectacle of “national” profession of Christianity in Syria impressed the “young reformer” Muhammad (p.b.h.) has no foundation in historical fact.2 

__________________

1 See for instance the modem Vedandists’ views, particularly the views expressed by Devendranath Thakur and his associates in the mid-nineteenth century, M. M. ALI, The Bengali Reaction to Christian 

Missionary Activities, 1833-1857, Chittagong, 1956, chapters II and III. 
2 HUART, “Une nouvelle source du Koran”, Journal Asiatique, 1924, p. 129. See also George Sale, Observations Historique et Critique sur le Mahometisme, 68-71. 
38 TIIE QUR’AN AND TIIE ORIENTALISTS 
___________________________________________

V. THE ALLEGED INSTANCES OF CONTACT

WITH JUDAEO-CHRISTIAN EXPERTS 

___________________________________________
The orientalists emphasize the well-known facts of the Prophet’s two journeys to Syria, once in company with his uncle when he was about twelve years of age, and again as leader of Khadijah’s (r. a.) caravan when about twenty-five years of age. On both these occasions he is said to have come across a Christian monk, Bahira on the first occasion and Nestorius on the second. As already pointed out, doubts and improbabilities surround these traditions and the orientalists themselves, particularly Muir, reject the stories as “puerile”. Nevertheless he assumes that Muhammad (p.b.h.) “lost no opportunity of enquiring into the practices and tenets of the Syrian Christians or conversing with the monks and clergy who fell in his way.” The same assumption is made in a more exaggerated way by Margoliouth; while Watt also subscribes to the view saying: “Muhammad had presumably some contact with Christians on his trading journeys to Syria.”1 
It must be emphasized that the trade journeys were made to a predominantly or wholly Christian land. There is thus no question of not making any contact with Christians. What is necessary to note is that there is no reference whatsoever in the sources to the Prophet’s having taken advantage of those journeys to seek information about Christianity from any particular monk or any Christian individual. Even the doubtful accounts of meeting with Bahira and Nestorius speak only of the enquiries and opinions of those two individuals, and not at all of the Prophet himself. Also, on the occasion of the reported meeting with Bahira the Prophet was a mere boy of about twelve and therefore unlikely to engage in any serious academic discussion. Nor could the nature of the journeys afford him any leisure to seek diversion in such educational exercise. If he had made any such educational contact, it would have not escaped unnoticed by the scores of others of the leading men of Makka who had accompanied him on both the occasions and many of whom subsequently opposed his mission. Yet, we find from the Qur’an that the unbelieving Quraysh leaders accused the Prophet of having allegedly received instructions only from a foreigner who happened to be in Makka and further alleged that a group of other people, also presumably in the city, composed the text of the revelation for him and read it unto him morning and evening. Had Muhammad (p.b.h.) contacted during his trade journeys to Syria any Christian monk or layman for obtaining information or even for casual 

_____________________________

1 WATT, Muhammad’s Mecca, 36. 

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THE ALLEGED BORROWING FROM JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY 39 
discussion, the Quraysh opponents, many of whom had accompanied him to Syria, would not have failed to make the most of it in their attack against him. That no such allegation was made by them is a decisive proof that he had not sought information about Christianity or Judaism from anyone in the course of his journeys to Syria. 
The second so-called instance is the tradition relating to Quss ibn Sa’ida to which Muir refers specifically and Margoliouth alludes indirectly. It is stated that the Prophet heard Quss preach at the ‘Uakaz fair1• This tradition is unanimously classified as spurious and is rejected as such.2 Specially, one of its narrators, MuQ.ammad ibn al-Ballaj al-Lakhmi, is condemned as a confirmed liar (kadhab).3 And even according to this spurious report, the Prophet was only one of the audience and did not make any enquiries as such with the speaker. The orientalists’ use of this report without any indication of its weakness and untrustworthiness is indicative of how such materials are uncritically accepted and cited to support a particular assumption. 
Similarly weak is the “instance” of Zayd ibn f:larithah of which Muir makes special mention. It is to be observed that Muir tactfully refrains from saying directly that Zayd or his parents were Christians, but indirectly introduces the subject by saying that Christianity had made progress among Zayd’s ancestors and suggests that Zayd, though a boy when sold as a slave, must have remembered something of Christianity and must have communicated that knowledge to his foster father Mu}:lammad (p.b.h.). Nothing could be a more far-fetched inference than this; for whatever the boy Zayd had learnt about Christianity and of that whatever he could have managed to remember after his disconnection with that system for at least a quarter of a century, it could be of very little use to any serious enquirer and would-be-reformer. Moreover, had Zayd acted in any way as teacher in Christianity for the Prophet and had the latter formulated his doctrines on the basis of the knowledge imparted to him by Zayd, the latter would surely have no genuine faith in the Prophet’s mission and would not have followed him so dedicatedly till his death. 

__________________________________

1 The tradition is recorded in a number of works. See for instance ‘ABU AL-QASIM SuLAYMAN IBN AHMAD AL-TABARANI, AI-MUJAM al-Kabir (ed. ‘ABD AL-MAJID AL-SALAFI), XII, 88-89; NUR AL-DIN AL-HAITHAMI, Majma’ al-Zawa’id wa Manba’ al-Fawi’id, IX, Beirut, 1986/1406, pp. 421-422; AL-BAYHAQI, Dala’il al-Nubuwwah, I, 453, 454-456 and 457-465. 
2 See for instance ‘ABU AL-FARAJ IBN AL-JAWZI, AI-Mawdu’at, I, 213-214; AL-SUYUTI, AI-La’ali ai-Masnu’ah, I, 183-1192; ‘ABU AL-

HASAN ‘ALI IBN MUHAMMAD IBN ‘IRAQ AL-KANANI (907-963), Tanzih al-Shari’ah al-Marfu’ah ‘an al-‘ahadith al-Shani’ah al-Mawdu’ah, I, 3rd impression, Beirut, 1981, pp. 241-243. 
3 See for instance AL-DHAHABI, Mizan al-I’tidal Fi Naqd al-Rijal (ed. ‘ALI MUHAMMAD AL-BAJJAWI), III, No. 7351, p. 509; Al-Isabah, III, No. 7349, pp. 279-280. 

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40 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
As regards the instance of Waraqah ibn Nawfal, great emphasis has indeed been placed on it by the orientalists. There is no doubt that Khaclijah (r.a.) took the Prophet, shortly after his receipt of the first revelation, to Waraqah for consultation. This fact, as already pointed out, shows on the one hand that the Prophet did not entertain any ambition or intention to play the role of a Prophet. On the other hand it shows that on his part Waraqah also considered him a sincere and unpretentious person. Had the Prophet previously received instruction in Christianity from Waraqah, he would have formed a very different opinion about the former. In fact, except for this meeting, there is no indication in the sources of the Prophet’s having previously consulted Waraqah on any subject, though under the circumstances it is reasonable to assume that the two knew each other from close quarters. The same reason which has been indicated above in connection with the Prophet’s journey to Syria and his alleged acquisition of Christian knowledge in the course of that journey may be adduced the more strongly in the present case. Had the Prophet been in the habit of receiving instruction in Christianity from Waraqah, that would have formed a very strong point in the Quraysh leaders’ attack on and criticism of the Prophet. 
______________________________________________________

IV. THE SUPPOSED QUR’ANIC EVIDENCE 

ABOUT A MONOTHEIST INFORMANT OR INFORMANTS 

______________________________________________________
This brings us to the subject of the Qur’anic statement about the Makkan leaders’ allegation that the Prophet received instruction from others. It is mainly on this allegation of the unbelievers that Watt and his predecessors have based the assumption of a monotheist informant or informants for the Prophet. In doing so, however, Watt, or rather C. C. Torrey, from whom he has taken his cue, has grossly misinterpreted the Qur’anic texts. To see how this has been done it is necessary to quote in original the couple of passages cited by Watt in support of his assumption. These passages together with Watt’s translation, stand as follows: 
~<,If’ 0U i,l., J ~~ …,Ji 0 J~ (.Slli 0U _A ~ WI 0} ~ ~~ ~ …Lil J 
“We know they say : It is only a person teaches him. The tongue of the one they hint at is foreign, but this (the Qur’an) is (in) a clear Arabic tongue.” [16:103] (Muhammad’s Mecca, 45). 
J_.; ~ 4-,:::5″1 .J,}JI.j1 _).Lll_,.ili J …. 0Jf”‘l~ i} ~ -..;\.>.( J olpl d;i ‘}ii,l., 011)_;5′ .,:r..UI Jli J ~~) •.fv. ~ 
“The unbelievers say, This is only a falsehood he invented; other people helped him with it… They said, Old-World fables, he has had written; they are dictated to him morning and evening.” [25:4-5] (Ibid.) 
THE ALLEGED BORROWING FROM JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY 41 
Watt, following Torrey,1 interprets these statements, particularly the first, saying “that Muhammad does not deny having a human teacher but only insists that the teachings came down from heaven.”2 Elaborating the same statement Watt writes in his latest work that “the Qur’an does not deny that Muhammad was receiving information in this way” but only “insists that any material he received could not have been the Qur’ an, since a foreigner could not express himself in clear Arabic”. Hence what he was given by the informant “would be factual knowledge, whereas the meaning and interpretation of the facts would come to him by the usual process of revelation. “3 
This interpretation of Watt (and Torrey) is totally wrong. It is also an attempt on Watt’s part to fit in these texts, particularly the first passage, his notion of revelation (wahy) which he describes “prophetic intuition”, a form of the Prophet’s own “consciousness”, something in the nature of “meaning” and “interpretation” distinct from the facts and words, etc. That notion of Watt’s will be discussed when we come to the subject of revelation.4 Here it should be noted that the most that can be made out of the first passage (16:103) is that there was a foreign person at Makka who had presumably had some knowledge of either Christianity or Judaism and who happened to be an acquaintance of the Prophet. Obviously this fact was taken advantage of by the Prophet’s opponents to allege that he was being “taught” by that person to produce what was being given as revelation. The Qur’an refers to this allegation by way of denying it and giving a lie to it. By no stretch of the imagination could it be suggested that the Qur’an does not deny the fact of receipt of information from the person alluded to and that it merely “insists” that the material thus received “could not have been the Qur’ an, since a foreigner could not express himself in clear Arabic.” This latter phrase, “could not express himself in clear Arabic”, is Watt’s own interpretation or “tendential” shaping. The clear statement of the Qur’an is that the tongue of the person insinuated is ‘ajami, i.e., “foreign”; and this is a very strong form of denial of the unbelievers’ allegation. But even allowing the twist in meaning given by Watt, does it at all sound logical to say that a foreigner, who could not express himself in clear Arabic, would nonetheless be able to instruct the Prophet, who by all accounts did not know any foreign language, in the details and subtleties of Christianity and Judaism? 

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1 C. C. TORREY, The Jewish Foundation eft:, op.dt, 43ff. 

2 WATT, M. at M., 159. 

3 WATT, Muhammad’s Mecca, 45. 

4 Infra, chaps. VI and VII. 

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42 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
In fact it is grossly misleading and somewhat inconsistent to say, as Torrey and Watt do, that Muhammad (p.b.h.) does not deny having a “human teacher but only insists that the teaching came down from heaven.” If the insistence was that “the teaching came down from heaven”, does it not constitute a denial of a human teacher? But the insistence was not simply on that the teaching came down from heaven. It was more strongly and consistently stated that the “text” of the revelation also came from the heaven. In fact the main challenge of the Qur’an was and has been to any one to come forward with a text similar to any of its surahs. The unbelievers’ allegation also had reference to the preparation of the text of the revelation by the person insinuated; not with regard to the mere fact or information contained in the revelation. The term yu ‘allimu in contemporary Arabic parlance meant not simply imparting information but communicating a text which was usually committed to memory, transmission of knowledge· being at that time almost wholly oral. And because the allegation had reference to the text of the revelation, the denial of it is made all the stronger by simply pointing out the utter unreasonableness of the insinuation, that is, by pointing out that the person insinuated was simply incapable of producing a clear Arabic text. The denial contains also an element of ridiculing the insinuation. Indeed the nature of the unbelievers’ allegation is more clearly specified in the second passage, 25:4-5, quoted by Watt and to which we shall presently turn our attention. 
Watt’s interpretation of the passage 16:103 is wrong in three ways. In the first place, it totally ignores the context which is that it refers to the unbelievers’ allegation for the sake of giving a lie to it.1 This is clear not only from the passage itself but also from its two immediately preceding ‘ayahs, (i.e. 101 and 102). Thus ‘ayah 101 refers to the unbelievers’ allegation that the Prophet was a “forger” and then rebuts it by saying that those who indulged in such allegation did not really know. “They say, thou art a forger; but most of them know not. “2 The same denial is continued and stated in a positive form in ‘ayah 102 which emphasizes that the revelation was truly brought down from “your Lord” by the angel Jibril-“Say, it has been brought down by the Spirit of Holiness Jibril) from your Lord.”3 ‘ayah 103, which is quoted by Watt, is merely a continuation of the same topic of 

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1 It may be noted that Watt and his preceptor Bell tend to belittle the context in interpreting a Qur’anic passage by assuming that the unit of revelation was almost always a short passage. But no sudden change of subject-matter, nor the style of language, nor of the form of address from third person to first person, etc., which according to them indicate the disconnection of a particular passage from its preceding or following ‘ayahs, are applicable in the present instance. 
2 The text runs as follows: ~ _,..1., ‘! r-” )S1 J< _;.;-.;..;I L.;i l_,lu 
3 The text runs as: .!-41 .:.r’ ..r.lill CJJ J) J.i 

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THE ALLEGED BORROWING FROM JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY 43 
the unbelievers’ allegation and the same emphatic denial of it. In fact the expression: “And indeed We know they say” (0}~ ~~ ~ …I..Al J), particularly the particle and pronoun ‘annahum clearly indicate this connection with the previous ‘ayahs. In his interpretation, thus, Watt ignores the context altogether and in effect simply adopts the allegation of the Prophet’s adversaries. 
Secondly, Watt and Torrey are mistaken in saying that the Qur’an does not deny what he calls the receipt of information from the foreigner. Leaving aside the context, the ‘ayah 103 itself contains an unmistakable denial in the term yulhiduna. It bears a derogatory sense and a reproach, namely, that of deviation from the truth and the just course, or perversion. All the competent authorities are agreed that ‘ilhad means “falsely stating” or “falsifying”, takdhib (~.150).1 In fact the very verb 

yulhiduna occurs at two other places in the Qur’an, namely, 7:180 and 41 :40; and at both these places it clearly means a wrongful and unwarranted ace. Significantly enough, A.J. Arberry in his translation of the Qur’an renders the expression at both the places as blaspheming -“and leave those who blaspheme His names” and “Those who blaspheme Our signs.”3 More important still, the Qur’an itself uses the root-word ‘ilhad in apposition to zulm or injustice at 22:25;4 and A.J. Arberry rightly translates it :”And whosoever purposes to violate it wrongfully” etc.5 Hence, though Watt and Torrey translate the expression at 16:103 as simply “they hint at”, its correct rendering should be “they wrongfully suggest”, “they unjustly hint at”, “they unfairly insinuate”, or some such words. It may further be pointed out that the Arabic equivalent of “they hint at” is yushiruna ‘ila, not yulhiduna ‘ila. Thus the correct meaning of the ‘ayah 16:103 should be: “We indeed know they allege that a human being tutors him. The language of the individual they unjustly insinuate is foreign, while this (the Qur’an) is in clear Arabic”. Thus, far from there being no denial of the allegation, the text of the ‘ayah clearly labels it as an ‘ilhad, an unjust insinuation. 
Thirdly, Watt also ignores the decisive rebuttal contained in the last part of the ‘ayah where it is emphasized that the language of the individual they unjustly 

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1 See for instance IBN AL-‘ KATHIR, AI-Nihiiyah Fi Gharib al-lfadiih wa al-‘Kathir, Pt. IV; AL-ZAMAKHSHARi, AI-Ka.rh.rhdj; II, Beirut, n.d., II, 429; AL-QURTUBI, Tafsir, Pt. VII, 328 and Pt. X, 178 and MUHAMMAD IBN ‘ALi AL-SHAWKANi, Fatq ai~Qadi eft:, Pt.I, second impression, 1964/1383, p. 270 and Pt. III, 195. 
2 The two statements run respectively as: 

(7:180) J_,.l…, jlS” \… 0J~ .oJL….! J 0JJ….l, 01.iJIIJ;> J 

(41:40) ~ 0~ ‘1 Ci41, J 0JJ….l, 01.iJI Jl 
‘ AJ.ARBERRY, The Koran, O.U.P. (Oxford Paperbacks), 1986, pp. 165,495. 
4 The text runs as: (22-25) ~~ yl~ if .ui; ~ ,wt; …,; ‘-“if J 5 AJ.ARBERRY, op.dt., 336. 

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44 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
insinuate is “foreign”. There is in fact a two-fold denial of the allegation in this single statement. In the first place, since the person spoke a foreign tongue, it was impossible on the Prophet’s part, who did not know any foreign language, to follow that person’s “instruction” or “exposition”. Secondly, as the Qur’an is in clear Arabic, it could not have been composed for the Prophet by that individual. Thus neither in the sense of communicating what is called “facts” or “information”, nor in the sense of formulating the text and wording of the revelation could the foreigner act as “trainer” for the Prophet. The denial of the unbelievers’ insinuation is continued in the immediately following two ‘qyahs (16:104-105). ‘Ayah 104 warns the unbelievers against the evil consequences of their rejection of the “signs” of Allah, and ‘4Jah 105 retorts by saying: “It is but they who believe not in the signs of Allah that forge falsehood; and they are the ones who lie. “1 Thus 16:103 together with its immediately preceding and following couple of ‘ayahs constitute a distinct unit of which the purport is to deny and rebut the unbelievers’ allegation in a very positive, forceful and unmistakable manner. It should also be noted that there is nothing in these ‘ayahs that warrants the assumption that the unbelievers were referring only to the receipt of information or facts as distinguished from their “meaning” and “interpretation”, as Watt would have us believe. On the contrary, the nature and wording of the denial, especially the emphasis on the language of the person insinuated, make it obvious that the allegation had reference to the Prophet’s inability to produce, by himself, the text of the revelation. This nature of the unbelievers’ allegation is more specifically spelt out in 25:4-5 which Watt quotes and which should be considered along with 16:103. The passage 25:4-5 says that the unbelievers’ allegation was that the Prophet had the text of the revelation, which to them was only “old-world fables”, written for him and dictated to him morning and evening. It is noteworthy that in translating this passage Watt omits the last part of ‘4Jah 4 which reads IJJj J L.J.l;, IJjl>. …w , which means: “they have indeed come up with an injustice and falsehood”. Watt omits to mention this last clause of the ‘4Jah obviously because it contradicts his false suggestion that there is no denial in the Qur’an of the allegation made by the unbelievers. 

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1  The text runs as: (16:105)

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THE AlLEGED BORROWING FROM JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY 45 
This passage 25:4-5 or·rather this surah is unanimously regarded as earlier than surah 16 in the order of revelation.1 This is all the more reason why the allegation contained in 16:103 should be considered in conjunction with the allegation in 25:4-5; for it would be obviously absurd on the unbelievers’ part first to suggest that the Prophet had the passages of the revelation written for him by others and recited by them to him morning and evening, and then to state that he had only obtained the “facts” and “information” from an individual. It is thus obvious that the allegation of incapacity on the Prophet’s part to produce the revelation by himself had reference not simply to the “facts” and “information” but to the text and language of the revelation as well. But whether one likes to assume that the allegation had reference to facts and information alone, or whether one admits the obvious fact that the allegation had reference to both the facts and the text, the concluding part of ‘qyah 25:4, which Watt chooses to withhold from his readers, characterizes the unbelievers’ allegation as a manifest injustice (~ulm) and a palpable falsehood (zur). Nothing could be a stronger and clearer denial than this. 
Watt does mention that the Muslim commentators of the Qur’an are not in agreement about the identity of the person or persons “hinted at” by the unbelievers and give several names, “mostly of Christian slaves” in Makka.2 But what Watt fails to do is that he does not complete the story; nor does he pursue the questions that naturally arise out of his assumption. These questions are: (a) Why, after Muhammad (p.b.h.) had come forward with his claim to Prophethood and after he had passed some time in publicly calling people to believe in his mission -why any knowledgeable Jew or Christian should have come forward to help promote his claim by supplying him with information about Judaism and Christianity? (b) Why the Quraysh leaders, with their power and influence and 

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1 This surah ( a/-Furqan) is placed between the 38th and the 42nd in the order of revelation by classical Muslim scholars. On the other hand, orientalists like RODWELL and NOLDEKE count it as the 66th in the order of revelation, and MuiR places it as the 74th. Silrah 16 (ai-Na&~. on the other hand, is placed between the 67th and 72nd by the Muslim scholars; while RoDWELL and NOLDEKE place it as the 73rd, MuiR puts it as the 88th and A. JEFFERY as the 46th. (See MUHAMMAD KHALIFA, The Sublime Qur’an and Orienta/ism, London and New York, 1983, Appendix II; and MUHAMMAD ‘IZZAT DARWAZAH, Sirat a/-Ra.ri/1 eft:, I. Beirut, n.d. (1400 H.], pp. 145-149. –
2 Watt, Muhammad’s Mecca, 45. Several names were indeed suggested. The most frequently mentioned name is Jabr, a Christian slave of Al-Fakih ibn al-Mughirah, who had embraced Islam. Ibn Ishaq says that this Jabr was a slave of Banu al-Hadrami. Another name suggested is Ya’ish, a slave of Banu al-Hadrami or Banu al-Mughirah, or of Banu ‘Amir ibn Lu’ayy. It is further said that Banu al-Hadrami had two slaves, one named Jabr and the other named Yasar or Nabt. They were sword-smiths and the Prophet is stated to have occasionally visited them and talked to them. Ibn ‘Abbas says that the person referred to was Bal’am, a Christian who had some knowledge of the Bible. According to Al-Qurtubi, the person alluded to was a Greek Christian at Makka named Maysara. Another report says he was ‘Addas, a servant of ‘Utbah ibn Rabi’ah. A still another view is that he was ‘Abs, a servant of Huwayrith ibn al-‘Uzza. See AL-QURTUBI, Tafsir,X, 177-178 and AL-ZAMAKHSHARI AI-Kashshaf; II, 429. 
46 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
their knowledge and control of affairs of the then not very big town of Makka, and especially of their constant watch upon the activities of the Prophet and his acquaintances -why did they not make use of any such “informant” to expose the Prophet’s “pretensions”? (c) If, on the other hand, such “informant” or “informants” were from among the Christian and Jewish converts to Islam, why should they have continued to have faith in the Prophet’s mission and leadership when they found out that he needed their knowledge and help in formulating what he gave out as revelation from Allah? Significantly enough, Watt does not raise these very pertinent questions, let alone answering them. If he did raise the questions, he would have found that the Muslim commentators have made it clear that the Quraysh leaders made the allegation in question because of the existence in the ranks of the Muslims a few Christian converts and that the Makkan leaders did not stop by simply making the allegation. They tortured a number of such converts in order to extort an admission from them to the effect that Mul)ammad (p.b.h.) had obtained help from them. It is further mentioned that one of such victims of oppression, Jabr, when persecuted and tortured to the extreme, gave out the significant reply: “It is not I who teaches Muhammad, rather it is he who teaches and guides me. “1 
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V. THE SO-CALLED GROWTH IN ACCURACY IN BIBLICAL INFORMATION 

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Indeed, it does not at all stand to reason that a person of Mul)ammad’s (p.b.h.) intelligence and common sense would obtain from hearsay and secondary sources a perfunctory and superficial knowledge of the contents of the Judaeo-Christian scriptures, which is what the orientalists suggest at the most, and would then proceed, on the basis of that knowledge, to utter doctrines and stories claiming them to be divine revelation. Yet the orientalists not only advance such an absurd proposition but even go further to suggest in effect that the Prophet was simpleton and rash enough to give out as revelation whatever little he learnt at first of a particular Old-Testament story and subsequently modified or improved upon it as he learnt more of it. Thus, citing a number of Qur’anic passages relating to Ibrahim and Lut (p.b.t.) which will be considered presently and which he thinks show “the growth in accuracy of the acquaintance with Old-Testament stories” Watt concludes that “Muhammad’s knowledge of these stories was 

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1 AL-QUR~UBi, Tafsir, X, 177. 

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THE ALLEGED BORROWING FROM JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY 47 
growing and that therefore he was getting information from a person or persons familiar with them.”1 
The passages cited by Watt are 37:135 C; 26:171 E(D); 27:58 E(D); 7:81 D-E; 15:60 DE; 1:83 E+ and 29:32 E+. It may be noted that Watt follows Flugel’s numbering of the ‘qyahs which differs slightly from the current and standard numbering; but there is no difficulty in identifying the passages by looking at the meaning. He does not quote the passages in original, nor does he give their translation. Also, while citing only one ‘qyah of each surah he evidently has in view a number of them relating to the topic. The letters placed beside each ‘ayah number are, as Watt mentions, indicative of Bell’s dating of the passages, C standing for Makkan, E for early Madinan and E + for Madinan period. 2 
It may be noted at the outset that the assumption of “growth in accuracy” is based essentially upon the above mentioned dating of the passages. But this dating is acknowledged to be only “provisional”3 and Watt himself entertains doubts about its accuracy4. Moreover, in his latest work he discards Bell’s dating in favour of R. Blachere’s which closely follows that of Noldeke.5 Also the way in which two letters indicating two different periods, sometimes one in brackets, are placed beside an ‘ayah, is confusing. It should also be noted that all the passages cited are counted as Makkan by the classical Muslim scholars. In any case, an assumption of gradual growth in accuracy based upon a system of dating about the accuracy of which the author himself is in doubt and which he discards in his latest work is hazardous and misleading. 
Apart from the question of dating, however, the passages cited by Watt to prove his view themselves do not really sustain the theory of “growth in accuracy” as such. Thus, the first point which Watt attempts to make is that in the two first mentioned passages (37:135 and 26:171) the member of Lut’s “party” not saved is “an old woman”, in all the other passages it is his wife. This statement of Watt’s is not correct and is clearly a misunderstanding of the two passages in question. The statement at both the places starts with ‘ilia, “except”, which shows that it is merely a continuation of what precedes in the passage. It is to be noted that in the ‘qaah preceding at each place the material term is ‘ahl. Hence the meaning at both the places is that all of Lufs ‘ahl except “an old 

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‘ WATT, M. at M., 159 (Excursus B). 
2 Ibid., IX. 
‘ Ibid. 
4 WATT, “The dating of the Qur’an: A review of Richard Bell’s theories”. 

J.R.A.S., 1957, pp. 46-56 (especially pp. 54-65) 
5 WATT, Muhammad’s Mecca, 4. 

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48 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
woman” were saved. The primary meaning of ‘ahl is “family”, even “wife”; while in a secondary or extended sense it may mean “people” or “inhabitants”. This secondary meaning is clearly inadmissible here; for it is obviously not the intention of the passages in question to say that all of Lufs people were saved except an old woman. Nor could it be suggested that among all those of Lufs people who were punished and destroyed, there was only one old woman. The obvious meaning of the two consecutive ‘ayahs at each of the two passages (37:134-135 and 26:170-171) is that all the members of Lufs family were saved except “an old woman”. Thus at both the places Lufs relationship with her is expressed in an indirect way. The term “old woman” is used here out of disapproval of her unbelief, not out of an ignorance of her relationship with Lut. In all the other places, however, the relationship is expressed directly and explicitly. There is thus no case of inaccuracy in the first two passages, nor of “growth in accuracy” in the other five passages. 
Similarly ill-conceived is Watt’s second point. He says that in the above mentioned passages there is “no awareness of the connexion between Abraham and Lot”; whereas in the other passages “there is explicit mention of the connexion with Abraham.”1 
Now, a reference to the passages 15:60, 11:83 and 29:32 shows that “the connexion between Abraham and Lot” which Watt finds in them is only an indication of their contemporaneity. This comes out as an incidental detail of the manner in which Allah’s wrath and punishment befell Lut’s people. These passages tell that Allah sent some angels who, on their way to Lufs people, also met Ibrahim, gave him the good tidings of another son to be born to him and informed him that they were going to Lut’s people to punish them. Thereupon Ibrahim made some pleadings for Lut. Obviously, this incidental detail was not called for in the other passages where the theme and context are different . In fact, the emphasis of the first four passages (37:135; 26:171, 27:58 and 7:81) is on Allah’s favours upon the Prophets mentioned and how they were helped to emerge successful through their trials and the enmity of their own people. The emphasis of the other three passages (15:60, 11:83 and 29:32) is, on the other hand, on the conduct of the Prophets’ opponents and the evil consequences of their opposition to and rejection of the message delivered to them. The first group of four passages are addressed mainly to the Prophet and his followers by 

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1 WATT, M.at M.,159 

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THE ALLEGED BORROWING FROM JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY 49 
way of reassuring and consoling them; the other three are addressed mainly to the unbelievers by way of warning them about the ultimate evil consequences of their disbelief and opposition. Hence in the first group of four passages no details are given of the retribution that befell the rejecters of the truth, nor is there a mention of the angels who acted as the agents of such retribution upon the people of Lut. On the other hand, in the other three passages such details are given, including the coming of the angels through whose conversation with !braham the so-called “connexion” between him and Lut appears. There is thus here, again, no deficiency as such in the first four passages, nor any growth of accuracy in the other three passages. 
It should be mentioned here that the Qur’an refers to historical events and the stories of the previous Prophets not for the sake of narrating history or telling a story; it does so essentially for the sake of illustrating a lesson or drawing a moral; most frequendy to emphasize the fact that all the Prophets preached the doctrine of monotheism (tawhid). Hence different or the same aspects of the life-story of a particular Prophet are mentioned at different places; and nowhere is a particular historical event or the story of a Prophet narrated in full and at a stretch, as is usually the case with ordinary history or story books. This apparent repetition or partial narration of the stories has been seized by the orientalists to advance the theory of “growth in accuracy”. But a careful look at the passages, or rather the surahs, would at once expose the speciousness of the theory. It may also be pointed out that the mere non-mention of a detail, which is not called for by the theme and context at one place, and the mention of that detail at another place where the theme and context demand it, is no ground for suggesting inaccuracy in the first instance, and growth in accuracy in the second. Again, even the gradual unfolding of facts and details does not in itself prove that a human informant or informants were supplying information to the Prophet. The whole of the teachings of Islam in the Qur’an, the rules and duties, are indeed spelt out gradually and over a period of some twenty-three years. To cite this fact as proof of the Prophet’s supposedly gradual acquisition of knowledge from some human tutor or tutors would be a height of presumption. 
Apart from these reasons, a closer look at the passages shows that there is indeed no deficiency in information as such in the four first mentioned passages or surahs. For, not to speak of the Prophets sent to the ‘Ad and the Thamud peoples (i.e. Hud and $alih), who are mentioned in them but who do not find any 
50 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
mention in the Bible, even with regard to Ibrahim such details are given in these surahs as are not to be found in the Old-Testament. Thus, it is in these surahs that Ibrahim is depicted as a propagator of monotheism and a very clear account is given of his struggles for its sake, his argumentation with his father and people over their mistaken beliefs, his denunciation and breaking of the idols, his ordeal by fire, his travel to Hijaz, etc. None of these aspects of his life-story is mentioned anywhere in the Old-Testament. On the other hand, in the other three passages where a “growth in accuracy” is assumed on account of the mention in them of the coming of the angels and their conversation with Ibrahim, it is noteworthy that the Qur’anic account of this incident differs materially from that of the Old-Testament. For instance, it is clearly mentioned in the three passages under reference that Ibrahim grew curious about his “guests” (the angels in human forms) only when they declined to partake of the meal prepared for them, which led to their disclosing their identity and their further conversation with him including the giving of the good tidings of another son to be born to him and their commission about the punishment of Lut’s people. The Old-Testament, on the other hand, simply states that as soon as Ibrahim saw “three men” he “ran to meet them from the tent door”, invited them to be his guests, and on their acceptance of it, prepared a meal for them, “and they did eat” of it.1 Similarly they “did eat” the food prepared for them by Lut.2 Thus neither is a case of deficiency in information established in respect of the first four passages in question, nor is a case of dependence upon the Old-Testament details proved in respect of the other three passages. In both the instances the Qur’an goes beyond the Old-Testament and also differs materially from it. Hence the sources of Muhammad’s (p.b.h.) information must have been other than the extant Old-Testament and any other human being conversant with it; and no theory of “growth in accuracy” can logically be sustained here. 
Indeed, far from denying the receipt of information from an “informant” or “informants”, the Qur’an throws out a challenge declaring that neither the Prophet nor his people previously knew the facts that were being revealed to him. Thus 11:49 says: 
…. I..L. J_,j ,y .;..L. j ‘:1 J …:,..;! 4—J…; ..:-.S L. .!.l.,Ji 4-.>-j ..,_.;Ji ~t.,.;l ,y .;.U; 
“That is of the tidings of the unseen, that We reveal to thee: thou didst not know them, neither thou nor thy people, before this … ” (11 :49)3 

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1 Gen. 18:1-8. 

2 Gen. 19:3 

3 The translation is that of A.J. Arberry, op.til., 217, with slight modification. 

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THE ALLEGED BORROWING FROM JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY 51 
This ‘ayah together with some others to the same effect are some of the strongest Qur’anic evidences showing that the Prophet had no previous knowledge of what was being revealed to him. Hence, as in the case of the Qur’anic evidence in support of the Prophet’s “illiteracy”\ so in this instance too Watt has misinterpreted this ‘ayah in order to sustain his assumption. Thus, proceeding on the basis of his assumption that the Qur’an shows the Prophet’s receipt of information from some one, Watt states that this ‘ayah 11:49 poses an “embarrassment” to those “who want to uphold the sincerity of Muhammad” and then attempts to explain away this supposed embarrassment by having recourse to his peculiar notion about revelation (wahy). He says that the facts and information about the prophetic stories came from human sources, but the “teaching” and “ulterior significance of the stories came to Muhammad by revelation”.2 But having said this Watt seems to recall his general thesis that even in respect of ideas and concepts the Prophet borrowed them from Judaeo-Christian sources. Hence Watt hastens to add that since “Judaeo-Christian ideas had become acclimatized in the Hijaz”, the ideas that the Qur’an presupposed did not require to be specially communicated”, but that the “precise form” in which they were to be “integrated so as to be relevant to the contemporary situation, could have been given them only by the prophetic intuition. “3 
It must at once be pointed out that the assumption of the Prophet’s having received information from any human source is totally groundless and wrong. Also it is true that the Prophet and his people did not know the facts that were being given through the revelation. Hence the ‘ayah quoted above does in no way pose an embarrassment; nor is there any need for explaining away that supposed embarrassment by reducing the meaning and scope of revelation to merely “the precise form” in which the stories or the ideas were to be “integrated” so as to make them relevant to the contemporary situation. 
That the Prophet was receiving the facts (as well as the text) through the revelation is clear from the Qur’anic passages themselves. The key word in the passage quoted above (11 :49) is ‘anbli’ (~4i~. Watt himself translates this word as “stories”. Nonetheless he suggests that their “teaching” and “significance” only should be understood. This suggestion is made just for the sake of fitting his 

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1 Supra, pp. 15-20. 

2 Watt, M. at M., 160. 

3 Ibid., 160-161. 

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52 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
assumption in this ‘ayah . The plain Arabic equivalent of ‘anba’ is ‘akhbar (J~.,>-~; and both mean “facts” or “accounts”; and A.J. Arberry’s rendering of the expression as “tidings” comes nearer to conveying the correct meaning. Indeed ‘anbd, when it emanates from Allah,1 means “facts” and “true accounts” without the slightest doubt or untruth about them. But even if Watt’s translation of the word as “stories” is allowed, there is nothing here or elsewhere in the Qur’an to sustain the claim that it means merely “teaching” and “significance” to the exclusion of the facts. It may be noted that besides the various derivatives from the root, the word naba’ ~ ) in its singular form occurs in the Qur’an at some seventeen places,2 while the plural form ‘anbd’ in some 12 places.3 At each of these 29 places it signifies facts and circumstances. It is not necessary to look into all these places. It would suffice if we look at only the two other places, besides 11:49 where it has been used with the same emphatic assertion that the Prophet had no prior knowledge of what was coming to him as revelation. One of these places is 3:44 which runs as follows: 
.) ~ .)\ t+’..u ..::.£ 1,.. ) t/-f ~ t+’f l*”~f .) ~ .)\ t+’..u ..::.£ 1,.. ) ..!J,)\ “-::>-j ~\ ~t.,.;f .._,.. ..!.l).) 
“That is of the tidings of the unseen , that We reveal to thee; for thou wast not with them, when they were casting quills which of them should have charge of Mary; thou wast not with them when they were disputing. “4 
And the other ‘ayah, 12:102, runs as follows: 
.) )~ (‘-“‘ ) (‘-“‘ _,..f l_,…..,..f .)\ t+’..u ..::.£ 1,.. ) ..!J,)\ “-::>-j ~\ ~t.,.;f .._,.. ..!.l).) 
“That is of the tidings of the unseen that We reveal to thee: thou wast not with them when they agreed upon their plan, devising.”5 
It is noteworthy that the last part of each of these two ‘ayahs beginning from “thou wast not with them” is an explanation of the ‘anba’ given to the Prophet and it refers to specific facts and circumstances, not to mere “meaning” and “significance” of some facts. The same emphasis on the Prophet’s innocence and lack of prior knowledge of the facts that were being revealed to him is reiterated (though without the specific expression ‘anba} in another highly expressive Qur’anic passage, 28:44-46, which runs as follows: 
~ JJ\k.a 1.; J} ~.;Gf .:fJ J ·..:r-…~…>l.!..ll .._,.. ..::.£ \… J _,..’;1 l5′”” y Ji 1.:.,..;:.i .ll (,f-_;JI …,_.;~ ..::.£ \… J .:fJ J~~L; .ll J#l …,_.;~ ..::.£ \… J -~ _,.. \.:5′ .:fJ J l:.i41~ ~ 1_,1.:; ..:r-..v J.o>f J 4JG ..::.£ \… J __,…,JI 

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1 Watt of course does not admit that the revelation received by the Prophet was from Allah . 
2 Q. 5:27; 6:34; 6:67; 7:175; 9:70; 10:71; 14:9; 18:3; 26:69; 27:22; 28:3; 28:21; 38:67; 38:88; 49:6; 64:5 and 78:2. 
3 Q. 3:44; 6:5; 7:101; 11:49; 11:100; 11:120; 12:102; 20:99; 26:6; 28:66; 3:20 and 44:4. 
4 A.J. ARBERRY, op.cit., 51.
5 Ibid., 237. 

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THE ALLEGED BORROWING FROM JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY 53 
0J.J’.i:: r-..w .!.ll,.i ,y _~-..i; ,y (“””‘Lil \.. \..j J..i.:::J ~J ,y 6…..>-J 
“Thou wast not upon the western side when We decreed to Moses the commandment, nor wast thou of those witnessing; but We raised up generations, and long their lives continued. Neither wast thou a dweller among the Midianites, reciting to them Our signs; but We were sending Messengers. Thou wast not upon the side of the Mount when We called; but for a mercy from thy Lord, that thou mayest warn a people to whom no warner came before thee, and that haply they may remember.” (28:44-46).1 
All these Qur’anic passages (11:49; 3:44, 12:102 and 24:44-46) are unequivocal confirmations of the Prophet’s innocence and lack of prior knowledge of the facts and circumstances he was giving out by means of the revelation to him. They also constitute irrefutable contradictions of the assumption that he received facts and ideas from human sources and then had had recourse to “revelation” in order to obtain only “the precise form” in which they were to be integrated so as to make them relevant to the contemporary situation. Also, these passages are, as already pointed out, in the nature of challenges to the Prophet’s contemporary adversaries who similarly insinuated that he received information from some human beings. It should be noted that every part of the Qur’an was given out to the public the moment it was revealed. In fact the various allegations of the unbelievers and their rebuttal as they occur in the Qur’an are themselves unmistakable proofs of instant publication of the texts of the revelations. And keeping in view the dates of revelation of the above mentioned passages, which vary from early Makkan to mid-Madinan periods (and Watt himself classifies the first mentioned passage, 11:49, as C-E+, i.e., early Makkan to mid-Madinan period), it is evident that the challenge was repeated not only at Makka but also at Madina where there were a number of well-informed Jews who were against the Prophet. Yet, there is no indication in the sources of their having taken up the challenge in any way, nor of their having pointed out any individual or any other source from which MuQ.ammad (p.b.h.) could have obtained the information. Nor, as already pointed out, could the unbelieving Quraysh leaders, in spite of their ceaseless efforts and inhuman torturing of the few Christian converts at Makka, elicit an admission from them that they had taught the Prophet anything. 
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VI. DIFFERENCES IN THE QUR’ANIC AND BIBLICAL ACCOUNTS 

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That the above mentioned passages relate to facts and also prove that the Prophet did not receive the facts from any person conversant with the Bible is further evident from the factual differences that are noticeable in the Qur’anic 

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I Ibid., 396-397. 

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54 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
and Biblical accounts of the same Prophets. The first mentioned passage, 11:49, occurs in the context of the account of Nuh. Unlike the Old-Testament, it is the Qur’ an which specifically mentions that he preached monotheism and called his people to the worship of Only One God. Again, unlike the Old-Testament, it tells that the deluge did not come except after Nuh had faced all sorts of opposition and troubles in the cause of his mission and except after he had become despaired of his people ever receiving guidance, and also except after God had revealed to him that they would not believe. Thirdly, it is the Qur’an which mentions that only those who believed in God were saved. The Qur’an also refers to what happened to Nuh’s son for his refusal to accept the truth and how he was drowned. Fourthly, the Old-Testament says that God became repentant (?) for His having caused the devastation and resolved never again to do so and, in order to remind Him of His resolution and “covenant” with Nuh, set a bow (rainbow) in the sky, thus implying also the weakness of forgetfulness on His part.1 It is more with reference to such facts as are not mentioned in the Old-Testament but are stated clearly in the Qur’an that it challengingly tells the Prophet that neither he nor his people previously knew them. 
Similarly the second passage, 3:44, comes in the context of the story of Maryam and ‘Isa (Mary and Jesus). The differences between their story in the Qur’an and that in the New Testament are more remarkable. The passage itself refers to the incident of her care and protection which information is wanting in the New Testament. Second, the Qur’an clears her of all imputations of being an unworthy character and emphatically declares her purity and chastity and states that Allah selected her as the noblest lady for the extraordinary honour of being mother of Isa-“0 Maryam, Allah has chosen thee and purified thee, chosen thee above the women of all the nations. “2 At the same time it makes it very clear that she was no more than a human being and that she was as much in need of praying to Allah as anyone else -“0 Maryam, worship thy Lord devoutly, prostrate thyself and bow down (in prayer) with those who bow down. “3 As regards ‘Isa, the Qur’an mentions even such of his miracles as are not related in the New Testament. For instance, his speaking to the people while he was in the cradle,4 his giving life to clay birds by Allah’s permission,5 and the table that 

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1 Gen. 8:21 and 9:11-16. 
2 Q. 3:42. The text runs as: ~WI ,w Js-!lW….I; !l ~; !lW….I ..!JI 01 t’/ 4 >.S:l’:>W1 .,.Ju ;1 ; 1 
3 Q. 3:43. The text runs as: .:r.£1)1 e:: …->h <.>….._1; ~) <f”l t<f” 4 
4 Q. 3:46. ; 
5 Q. 3:49; 5:113. 

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THE ALLEGED BORROWING FROM JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY 55 
descended unto him from the heaven are mentioned only in the Qur’an. Besides these, so far as the conceptual aspects are concerned, the Qur’an categorically  says that ‘Isa was no more than a Prophet, that he was not god,1 nor a “son of God” ,2 nor one of the Trinity,3 nor was he crucified.4 The third of the passages, 12:102, comes at the end of the story of Yusuf which the Qur’an designates as “the most beautiful of stories” (‘ahsan al-qasas). This story is told in the Qur’an throughout in a note of spirituality which is lacking in the Old Testament. The distinctions between the treatments of the story in the two may be best illustrated by placing some of the salient facts in both in juxtaposition as follows: 

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The Qur’an 
(1) The Qur’an says that Ya’qub’s special love for Yusuf was due to his dream and notion of a great future for his son (12:4-6). 
(2) The Qur’an says that Yusufs brothers conspired against him before taking him out with them. (12:9-10). 
(3) The Qur’an states that it was Yusufs brothers who asked their father to let Yusuf go with them (12:11-14). 
(4) The Qur’an shows that Yusuf did not divulge his dream to his brothers (12:5). 
(5) The Qur’an says that Yusufs brothers threw him into a pit wherefrom a passing caravan picked him up and subsequently sold him as a slave in Egypt (12:15,19). 
(6) The Qur’an says that Ya’qub did not believe the story given out by his sons nor did he despair of getting him back someday (12:16-18). 
(7) The Qur’an states that it was ‘Aziz’s wife who attempted to seduce Yusuf and shut the door of her room whereupon Yusuf ran away from her. She snatched her shirt from behind which was torn as Yusuf rushed towards the door (12: 23-25).  

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The Old Testament 
(1) The Old Testament says that Ya’qub’s love for Yusuf was due to his being the son of an old age (Gen. 37:3). 
(2) No mention of it in the Old Testament. 
(3) The Old Testament, on the other hand, makes Ya’qub ask Yusuf to go out with his brothers (Gen. 37: 13-14). 
(4) The Old Testament says that Yusuf told about his dreams to his brothers (Gen. 37: 5,9). 
(5) The Old Testament says that Yusufs brothers first threw him into a pit and then took him out and sold him to a passing company of merchants (Gen. 23-28). 
(6) The Old Testament says that Ya’qub readily believed his sons’ false story , became despaired of getting Yusuf back . and mourned his loss for a long time (Gen. 333-34). 
(7) The Old Testament says that ‘Aziz’s wife shouted and called for help whereupon Yusuf left his clothes in her hands and fled (Gen. 39:12). 

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I Q. 5:19; 5:119. 
2 Q. 4:171; 6:101; 10:68; 17:111; 18:4-5; 19:35; 19:88-89; 19:91-92; 21:26; 23:91; 25:2; 37:152; 39:4; 43:81; 72:3 and 112:3. 
3 Q. 4:171; 5:76. 
4 Q. 4:157. 

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56 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
(8) The Qur’an says that when in the course of Yusufs running away he and ‘Aziz’s wife were at the door, her husband unexpectedly arrived there. She then hastened to allege that Yusuf had attempted to violate her honour and without wru.t:lng for her husband’s opinion demanded that Yusuf be put in prison or be appropriately punished (12:25). 
(9) The Qur’an says that Yusuf defended himself then and there at the door telling the truth that it was she who had attempted to seduce her (12:26). 
(10) The Qur’an further says that a witness of the household pointed out that if Yusufs shirt was torn in the front he was to blame; but if it was torn in the backside he was guilty (12:26-27). 
(11) As the shirt was tom in the backside ‘Aziz realized the truth of Yusuf’s statement, asked him to pass it over in silence and also asked her to seek Allah’s forgiveness for her sinful act (12:28-29) 
(12) Information about the affair nonetheless leaked out and the ladies of the town started whispering among themselves about the deed of’ Aziz’s wife who invited the ladies to a banquet where at the end of the dinner she gave each lady a knife and asked them to cut the fruits laid before them. At the same time she asked Yusuf to come out before them. They were so bewitched by the beauty and countenance of Yusuf that each of them cut her hand with the knife instead of cutting the fruit each was holding. Exultantly ‘Aziz’s wife confessed before them her deed and insisted that if Yusuf did not accede to her solicitation he would surely be put in prison and humbled (12:29-32). 

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(8) The Old Testament says that ‘Aziz came back home afterwards when his wife informed him of Yusufs alleged offence, saying that as she cried out for help Yusuf left his clothes to her and fled (Gen. 39:14-18). 
(9) No mention of it in the Old Testament. 
(10) No mention of it in the Old Testament. 
(11) The Old Testament says that ‘Aziz’s anger shot up as soon as heard his wife’s complaint and instantly put Yusuf into prison. (Gen. 39:19-20) 
(12) No mention of the incident in the Old Testament. 

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THE ALLEGED BORROWING FROM JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY 
(13) Yusuf himself preferred going to prison in view of the persistence of ‘Aziz’s wife in her design. ‘Aziz also preferred putting Yusuf in prison in order to avoid a scandal (12:33-35). 
(14) The Qur’an says that when the King of Egypt sent his messenger to the prison conveying his decision to release Yusuf from imprisonment and to appoint him to a high post, he did not jump at the offer but demanded that the affair which had brought him into prison be first investigated and his innocence publicly vindicated (12:50). 
(15) The public hearing was duly held and Yusuf’s innocence vindicated by the confession of ‘Aziz’s wife of her guilt as well as by the testimony of the ladies who had cut their hands in the banquet and before whom also ‘Aziz’s wife confessed her guilt (12:51-52 &12:32). 
(16) The Qur’an ends the story by narrating how Yusuf was finally united with his father and brothers and refers to the whole outcome as a realization of his dream (12:100). 
(17) The Qur’an correctly describes that Yusuf’s brothers used “beasts of burden ” (ba’ir), not camel (Jamal/ ibil) to carry their merchandise to Egypt. Camel had not yet been domesticated in Yusuf’s time. 
(18) Finally, the Qur’an rightly describes the Egyptian ruler in this story as “King”, not as “Pharaoh”, which came to be used as the designation of the Egyptian sovereign much later in the reign of Amenhotep IV, i. e, during the second quarter of the 14th century B.C. 
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(13) No mention of it in the Old Testament. 
(14) The Old Testament does not refer to Yusuf’s demand for public vindication of his innocence and says that he instantly accepted the king’s offer. 
(15) No mention of these facts in the Old Testament. 
(16) No reference is made in the old Testament to the final realization of Yusuf’s dream. 
(17) The Old Testament, on the other hand, describes them as camels not only at the time of Yusuf but also at the time of Ishaq, the grandfather of Yusuf. 
(18) The Old Testament, on the other hand, throughout terms the Egyptian ruler as “Pharaoh” not only in the story of Yusuf but also with regard to events occurring much earlier during the time of Ibrahim. 

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58 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
These are some of the factual differences in the Qur’anic and Old-Testament accounts of the story of Yusuf. A detailed comparison would reveal more such differences. Similarly the fourth passage, 28:44-46, comes at the end of a narration of some of the facts relating to Mlisa (Moses, 28:2-43). Incidentally, this account of the fact starts with the statement: “We recite unto thee some of the naba’ (story, account) relating to Musa.” The Qur’an indeed tells the story of Musa and his brother Harun, as also that of the Israelites in far greater detail than what occurs in the Old-Testament. There are of course some similarities between the two accounts; but the differences and the new elements in the Qur’an are fundamental1
• (1) The most important distinction is that the Old-Testament, though it represents Musa as the “Law-giver”, nonetheless accuses him and also Harun of several improprieties and ultimately depicts them as persons who had betrayed God and incurred His wrath.2 It is even alleged that Harun was instrumental in introducing the worship of the golden calf. The Qur’an, on the other hand, clears them of such accusations and emphatically asserts that they were Allah’s chosen Prophets, were recipients of His favours, revelation and scripture, were free from the irregularities ascribed to them and were men who sincerely and devoutly discharged their duties as Allah’s Prophets by calling their people to the worship of the One Only God.3 
(2) It also specifically mentions that it was the Israelite Samiri, not Harun, who was responsible for introducing the worship of the calf.4 
(3) It is also in the Qur’an alone that the story of Musa’s travel to the “meeting place of the two seas” is given.5 
(5) Again, it is only in the Qur’an that the significant incident of the Pharaoh’s plan to kill Musa is revealed and it is further stated that a “believer” at Pharaoh’s court dissuaded him from carrying out his plan.6 Even with regard to details, as the writer in the Shorter Enryclopedia of Islam points out, there are a number of differences. 
Thus (6), in the Qur’an it is the Pharaoh’s wife, not his daughter, who rescues the infant Musa from the river; (7) 

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1 See for a summary of the similarities the Shorter Enclopaedia ofl.rlam, 1974 reprint, pp. 414-415. 
2 Deuteronomy 32:48-52. 
‘ See for instance Q. 2:52-72; 7:144-145; 19:51-53,57-73; 20:39-50; 21:48; 33:69; 37:114-122; 53:38 and 87:19. 
4 Q. 20:85-86; 20:95-97. 
5 Q. 18:60-62. The writer in the Shorter Enryclopaedia of lslam (p. 415) rightly says: “The story of Musa’s accompanying a wise man on a journey seems without parallel.) 
6 Q. 40:26-45. The writer in the Shorter Enclopaedia ofirlam, thinking that some aspects of the story of Musa originated in Haggada, writes, “The Kur’anic story of a believer at the court of Pharaoh who wants to save Mus a is not clear.” Yes; the comparison which the writer suggests, of course with a question mark, with the story of Jethro in Haggada is really not clear. The Qur’anic account is quite distinctive, without any parallel in Haggada. 

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THE ALLEGED BORROWING FROM JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY 59 
instead of the seven shepherdesses in the Bible, it is only two in the Qur’an whom Musa assists; 
(8) and instead of ten plagues the Qur’an speaks of nine miracles; 
(9) also Musa strikes twelve springs out of the rock, one for each tribe; 
(1 0) he repents after having slain the Egyptian and 
(11) he sees the burning bush at night and desires to take a brand from its fire. 
(12) The Qur’an also mentions that the Pharaoh’s magicians died for their belief in God.1 
(13) Also its description of the capabilities of the Pharaoh’s magicians is different from that of the Bible. The latter ascribes supernatural powers to them but the Qur’an treats them as mere conjurers. 
(14) The Bible gives a rather exaggerated figure of the Hebrew population at the time of the Exodus saying that there were 600,000 men, with women and children in addition (Exodus 12:37). “Consequently, in this case”, observes Maurice Bucaille, “the entire population would have approximately amounted to two and a half million or more, according to certain Jewish commentators. Such a hypothesis is quite untenable.”2 The Qur’an, on the other hand, does not give any such figures about the Hebrew population of the time.
(15) While the Bible informs us that the Pharaoh was afraid of the increasing Hebrew population and hence ordered the killing of their newly born male babes, the Qur’an informs us that he was not worried about any such demographic problem and boastfully said: “These indeed are a band of small numbers” (26:54). Still more significant 
(16) is the mention of Haman in the Qur’an as an intimate of the Pharaoh (28:6,8, 38; 29:39; 40:24, 36). Haman is not mentioned in the Bible and scholars have hitherto been guessing about his identity and the correctness of his association with the Pharaoh. It has been suggested that he is to be identified with the ancient Egyptian god “Amun” or that he might be “Aman”, a counsellor of Assueus (Xerexes) who was an enemy of the Jews. But it has now been discovered that Haman in the Qur’an is an exact transliteration of a Hieroglyphic name of a person who was “chief of the workers in stone-quarries” at the time of the Pharaoh and that this description of him fits in with what is spoken of him in the Qur’an. The name Haman has also been found engraved on a stela kept at the Hof-Museum of Vienna, Austria. Hieroglyphs had been totally forgotten at the time of the Qur’anic revelation and its discipherment took place only in the 19th century. “Since matters stood like that in ancient times”, writes the discoverer of this fact, Maurice Bucaille, “the existence of the word ‘Haman’ in the Qur’an suggests a special reflection.”3 

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1 Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam, op.cit, 414-415. 

2 Maurice Bucaille, op.cit., p. 197. 

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60 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
But the most astounding fact is that (17) the Qur’an, while mentioning that the Pharaoh and his hosts were drowned and destroyed, also says that the body of the Pharaoh was saved: 
“So today We rescue your body that you be for those who come after you a sign! And many of men are about Our signs indeed heedless!” 
(.:J_,lii.Al w~1~ ,y …… wl ..,.. l_r.)’ .:,1J ~~~ ~ .:r.J .:,~ ..!1~ ~ i.r.l\.j -10:92). 
The Bible simply says that the Pharaoh was drowned; and early in the 7th century when the above mentioned statement of the Qur’an was revealed none could have any idea that the body of the Pharaoh had been saved. Modern Egyptology has established the fact that the Pharaoh of the Exodus was Merenptah, successor of Ramesses II. In 1898 the French Egyptologist V. Loret discovered the mummy of Merenptah and his name was found written under the first layer of the wrappings. Medical investigations carried out by Maurice Bucaille on the mummy of Merenptah confirm the Qur’anic account of his death. “There was no human knowledge, as well, at this time, about the two other Qur’anic teachings which are not found in the Bible: the name of an intimate person belonging to the close circle of Pharaoh, ‘Haman’, and the announcement of what happened to the dead body of Pharaoh. What we read in the Qur’an about them is in close conformity with modern data in the field of Egyptology ……. Now, it is up to the exegetes of the Qur’an and the Bible to direct their objective attention to these facts and this reality and draw conclusions.”2 
Similarly with regard to the other Prophets the accounts in the Qur’an differ fundamentally from those in the Bible. Some of the differences in the story of Ibrahim have been mentioned above. So far as Da’ud and Sulayman (Solomon), the two other great Prophets are concerned, the Bible in fact depicts them as tyrants, committing the most heinous crimes, indulging in pleasures and licentiousness and even abducting others’ wives for illicit enjoyment!3 Prophet Lut is even made to commit incest with his own daughters.4 The Qur’an, on the other hand, is singularly free from imputing such frivolities to any of the Prophets. And so far as Da’ud is concerned, he is represented as Allah’s ideal servant on whom He bestowed kingdom, wisdom, scripture and power5• Similarly Sulayman was favoured with rare knowledge of the languages of birds and animals, in addition to power and kingdom.6 Both were noble characters and Allah’s Prophets. 

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1 Maurice Bucaille, op. cit., p. 193. 
2 Ibid., pp. 216-217, 219. 
3 For Da’ud see Samuel II, 3:12-16; 4:4-5; 16:23; 18:33; and for Solomon see Kings I, 2:13-25; 28:35; 11:1-13. 
4 Gen. 19:31-36 . . 
5 Q. 2:102; 4:163; 6:84; 21:78-82; 27:15-44; 34:12-14; 38:30-40. 

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THE ALLEGED BORROWING FROM JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY 61 
Thus a comparison between the Biblical and Qur’anic accounts of the Prophets makes it clear that the latter are not a reproduction of the former. There are of course points of similarity between the two sets of accounts; but the Qur’an definitely presents a good deal different and original. Some of the orientalists do recognize that there are new elements in the Qur’an. In general, however, their treatment of the subject suffers from three common drawbacks. In the first place, they seem to emphasize only the points of similarity almost to the exclusion of the points of dissimilarity or make only casual and secondary reference to them. Second, they spare no pains to identify similar facts or ideas in other ancient Greek, Hebrew and Latin works or legends and then immediately advance the suggestion that the Qur’anic accounts are drawn from or based on them. It is overlooked that the mere existence of similar facts or ideas in previous works, sometimes thousand of years old, does not ipso facto prove that a subsequent work is based on that work. Some further evidence is needed to show the contact or possibility of contact with, or understanding of, that source. This point is especially relevant in the case of Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be on him; for it does not carry conviction just to suggest that he mastered the materials treasured in numerous ancient works and sources, and that also in a multiplicity of foreign and even defunct languages, by means only of casual conversations with a trader in transit or a foreign slave in domestic service. For, that is the most that has hitherto been alleged about him. Nor is there any indication that Makka and its vicinity at that time possessed a good library or museum containing the ancient works and manuscripts to which the orientalists call their readers’ attention; or that there were scholars and philologists in that place to unravel the secrets of such works to the prophet-to-be. Third, while casually recognizing that there are new elements in the Qur’an, the orientalists seem never to have paid attention to find out the sources of these elements. If they had done so, they would surely have found reason to see that the assumptions under which they have hitherto been labouring so diligendy and impressively need revision. 

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I Q. 27:15-30. 

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ERRORS IN THE QUR’AN 

CHAPTER III ___________________________________________________

THE ALLEGED CONTEMPORARY ERRORS IN THE QUR’AN 

AS EVIDENCE OF THE PROPHET’S AUTHORSHIP 

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The discrepancies and differences between the statements in the Qur’an on the one hand and those in the Bible on the other in respect of the prophetic stories and other matters clearly militate against the theory of Muhammad’s (p.b.h.) having allegedly drawn on and reproduced the Biblical materials. To sustain the theory, therefore, the orientalists have recourse to a two-fold plea, namely, that Muhammad (p.b.h.) did not himself read the Bible but derived his information about Judaism and Christianity from what he heard from others and that since his knowledge was thus only secondary, certain mistaken notions about these two systems prevailing at the time in certain quarters have crept into the Qur’an. And as an extension of this latter plea it has lately been suggested, mainly by Watt, that not only some mistaken notions about these two systems but also the prevailing mistaken notions about the world and the universe have been reproduced in the Qur’an. The utter untenability of the original assumption that Muhammad (p.b.h.) and for that matter any reasonable person, would have proceeded to challenge the correctness of the two established religious systems on the basis of mere hear-say knowledge or that he would have ventured to formulate and promulgate a new religion on the authority of what his alleged private “informants” or “tutors” prompted to him, has been shown in the previous chapter. The present chapter deals with the remaining aspect of the orientalists’ pleas, namely, the supposed mistakes about Judaism and Christianity and the so-called scientific errors in the Qur’an. 

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I. THE SUPPOSED MISTAKES ABOUT JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY 

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In dealing with this topic two things need to be borne in mind. In the first place, the Qur’an does not really treat Judaism and Christianity as independent religions but as deviations from and corruption of the message delivered by Allah’s prophets. Hence there was no question of its stating what the modern Jews and Christians think to be the correct articles of their faiths. The Qur’an is set to pointing out that what the Jews and the Christians believed and practised at the time were errors and that their scriptures had been altered and manipulated to accommodate those errors and incorrect beliefs. It also vigorously attempts to
THE ALLEGED CONTEMPORARY ERRORS IN THE QUR’AN 63 
correct and rectify those errors. Secondly, it should also be borne in mind that what the modern Jews and Christians believe to be the correct doctrines of their faiths are not the same ·as those believed and practised by their predecessor Jews and Christians of the sixth and the seventh Christian century. Hence it is basically a wrong approach to say that the Qur’an’s description of certain of the beliefs and practices of Judaism and Christianity are “palpably” false. For, it is well-known that a number of “reforms” and modifications have been made in these faiths, particularly in Christianity, since the advent of Islam. The point would be clearer if it is noted that some serious Christian thinkers have lately advocated the abandonment of such doctrines as incarnation and divinity of Jesus (‘Is a) 1, the concept of the “Holy Ghost” as part of the Trinity,2 etc. If any of these suggested reformulating of the doctrines of Christianity takes place, a future Christian scholar would as easily be able to say that the statement that “Christ is God incarnate” is a “palpably” false notion about Christianity! 
That exactly is what Muir and the others have done. Thus, while unjustly accusing the Qur’an of having reproduced what they consider mistakes and errors about Judaism and Christianity, they have not been able to avoid recognizing the fact that the alleged notions were those held by the contemporary followers of those faiths. Muir, for instance, places the blame squarely upon the “Catholics” and the Syrian Christians of the time; while Watt follows a cautious course and transfers the blame upon those whom he calls in his earlier work “nominally Christian Arabs”.3 In his latest work he further modifies the innuendo saying: “some people in Mecca wrongly supposed certain beliefs to be held by Jews and Christians” and that “these were beliefs held by the Meccans.”4 It must at once be noted that the beliefs and practices alluded to were not the suppositions of “some people in Mecca”, nor were the beliefs held by “the Meccans” as such, but by the Makkan, Arab and Syrian Christians in general and that in pointing out those aspects of their beliefs the Qur’an was not describing the tenets of Judaism and Christianity but was pointing out how the followers of those faiths had deviated from the original teachings of the Prophets .
As regards the specific instances of the alleged mistakes it is said that the Qur’an suggests that the Trinity “consists of Father, Son and Virgin Mary”,5 that 

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1 See for instanecJ. HICKS (ed.) The Myth of God Incarnate, London, 1977. 

2 The protagonists of the Salvation Army advocate this. 

3 WATT,M. at M., 28. 

4 WATT, Muhammad’s Mecca, 2, 44, 55. 

5 WATT, M. at M., 28. 

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64 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
it asserts that the Jews regarded Ezra (‘Uzayr) as son of God and that it denies that Jesus was crucified. 
________________________

(a) Regarding the Trinity 

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It is to be noted that the Qur’an does nowhere state that the Trinity consists of “Father”, “Son” and “Virgin Mary”. Indeed it was none of the Qur’an’s business to identify the entities or “Persons” that constituted the Trinity. It simply denounces the concept as antithetical to and subversive of true monotheism. It is the orientalists’, more particularly Watt’s own supposition that the Qur’anic passage which refers to the Christians’ worship of Maryam and ‘Isa, besides Allah, “suggests that the Trinity consists”, etc. In fact Watt modifies his statement in his latest work where he refers to the Qur’anic statement somewhat more accurately, saying that it gives the idea that “Christians took Jesus and Mary to be ‘two gods apart from God”‘.1 The passage (5:116) in question runs as follows: 
J 0 ~ L. ..!1~ Jt; ….UI 0 )~ .y ~I if( ) .) ).WI ._,.WJ …:,…1; ..;…i( ~ tf-/ .y.l ~ ~ ….UI Jt; ~I J …. ·~ J crol L. J;l 0f 
“And when Allah will say: 0 ‘Isa, son of Maryam, did you say to men: Take me and my mother for two gods besides Allah? He will say: Glory be to you; it was not for me to say what I had no right to say ….. ” (5:116)2 
Here the Qur’an simply disapproves the worship of ‘Isa and Maryam, besides Allah, and also exonerates ‘Isa from having so advised his followers. There is no allusion to the doctrine of the Trinity here. Significantly enough, where the Qur’an alludes to the concept of the Trinity, as in 4:171 and 5:73, it does not identify the entities that are supposed to constitute the Trinity. In fact the Qur’an treats the two subjects, the Trinity and the worship of human beings as gods or lords, as two distinct themes. This is very clear from 9:31 which disapproves the Christians’ and the Jews’ taking their monks and ascetics as “lords” apart from Allah. The passage runs as follows: 
y. ‘)I .JI “) l…l>IJ 4)1 IJ~ ‘)I IJ/( L. J tf-/ .y.l e-•-·l\J ….UI 0 )~ .y 44) ~Y, J J t”‘ J~f IJ.b:JI .0§’_r.; L.s.-.;~ 
“They take their priests and anchorites as lords apart from Allah, and (also) the Messiah, son of Maryam. Yet they were not commanded but to worship One God. There is no god but He. Exalted is He from what they associate (with Him).” (9:31) 
This passage is analogous to 5:116. Here again the worship of any other beings besides Allah is condemned. There is a tradition which explains how the 

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1 WATT, Muhammad’s Mecca, 2, 45. 

2 Muhmmad ‘Ali’s translation with slight modification. 

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THE ALLEGED CONTEMPORARY ERRORS IN THE QUR’AN 65 
Christians and the Jews treated their priests and monks as lords.1 But apart from that question, no one would say on the basis of this passage (9:31) that the Qur’an conceives of the Trinity to have been composed of the priests and monks as one element, ‘Isa as another and Allah as the third! 
That ‘Isa is taken for god by the Christians is an admitted fact. 

As regards the question of the worship of Maryam, it is a proven fact that not only the Christians of Arabia, but also many of them in the East and the West, particularly the Catholics, did and still do worship or adore her as possessing divine dignity. Watt ignores this fact presumably because it does not form part of the Protestant dogma. The point is ably explained by Muhammad ‘Ali who, in his note to the ‘ayah in question writes as follows: 
“From the description of Mary being taken for god by the Christians, some Christian critics of the Qur’an conclude that the doctrine of the Trinity according to the Qur’an consists of three persons -God, Jesus and Mary. But this is an absolutely unwarranted conclusion. Mary is no doubt spoken of as being taken for an object of worship by the Christians; but the doctrine of the Trinity is not mentioned here, while the divinity of Mary is not mentioned where the Trinity is spoken of. The doctrine and practice of Mariolatry, as it is called by Protestant controversialists, is too well known. In the catechism of the Roman Church the following doctrines are to be found: ‘That she is truly the mother of God, and the second Eve, by whose means we have received blessing and life; that she is the mother of Pity and very specially our advocate; that her images are of the utmost utility.’ (Ency. Br., 11th ed. vol. 17, p. 813). It is also stated that her intercessions are directly appealed to in the Litany. And further, that there were certain women in Thrace, Scythia, and Arabia who were in the habit of worshipping the virgin as the goddess, the offer of a cake being one of the features of their worship. ‘From the time of the council of Ephesus (held in 431)’, says the same writer, ‘to exhibit figures of the virgin and child became the approved expression of orthodoxy …. Of the growth of the Marian cults, alike in the east and in the west, after the decision at Ephesus it would be impossible to trace the history …. Justinian in one of his laws bespeaks her advocacy for the Empire, and he inscribes the high altar in the new church of St. Sophia with her name. Narses looks to her directions on the field of battle. The Emperor Heracleus bears her image on his banner. John of Damascus speaks of her as the Sovereign lady to whom the whole creation has been made subject by her son. Peter Damain recognizes her as the most exalted of all creatures and apostrophizes her as deified and endowed with all power in heaven and in earth, yet not forgetful of our race.’ The Christian world had in fact felt ‘the need for a mediator to deal with the very mediator’, and thus Mary was raised to the throne of Divinity along with Jesus. The recent proclamation of the Pope relating to the bodily assumption of Mary supports this conclusion, and will raise a new question for the Christian world whether Trinity really consists of God, Jesus and Mary.”2 

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1 See for instance AL-TABARI, Tafsir, XIV,209,211; IBN KATHIR, Tafsir, IV,77 and Tirmidhi (ed. AHMAD MUHAMMAD SHAKIR), V, 278 (hadith 3095). 
2 MUHAMMAD ‘ALI, The Holy Qur’an Arabic Text, English Translation and Commentary, revised edition, Lahore, 1985, pp. 275-276,note 751. 

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66 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
__________________

(b) Regarding Uzayr 

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As regards the Qur’anic statement about the Jews’ taking ‘Uzayr as son of God (9:30) Watt castigates it as the “chief error in the Qur’an in respect of Judaism” and asserts that “while it is true that the Old Testament uses the term ‘son of God’ for the Messiah who was expected, there is no evidence that it was ever applied to Ezra. “1 
Of course there is no evidence in the extant Old Testament about it; but the Qur’an was not referring to what is written in the Old Testament about ‘Uzayr but to the belief and assertion of some of the Jews of the time who regarded ‘Uzayr as the son of God. In fact the ‘ayah in question, 9:30, starts with the expression: “And the Jews say” (~~~ ..:.Jt; J)· The commentator Al-Baydawi, to whom Watt refers a number of times in his book 2 makes it clear with reference to this ‘ayah that because the Old Testament was given its present form by ‘Uzayr, many of the Jews of the time considered him a “son of God” and that specially at Madina there was a group of Jews who held that belief. Al-Baydawi further points out that the ‘ayah in question was read out and recited as usual but no Madinan Jew came forward with a contradiction3• It is to be noted that this ‘ayah is unanimously regarded as Madinan. Hence the silence of the Jews of the place on the matter is suggestive enough, particularly as they were avowed critics of the Prophet. 
Not only Al-Baydawi but also other commentators mention that the ‘ayah refers to the views of a particular group of the Jews. For instance, Al-Tabari gives a number of reports together with their chains of narrators specifically mentioning the leading Jews of Madina who considered ‘Uzayr a son of God. The most prominent of those Jews were Finhas, Sullam ibn Mishkam, Nu’man ibn Awfa, Sha’s ibn Qays and Malik ibn al-Sayf.4 Similarly Al-Qurtubi mentions the same fact and the same names adding that the expression “the Jews” occurring at the beginning of the ‘ayah means “some particular Jews”, just as the expression “people told them” (qala lahum al-nas) means not all the people of the world but some particular people. He further says that the Jewish sect who held that ‘Uzayr was God’s son had become extinct by his (Al-Qurtubi’s) time. 5 

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1 WATT, Muhammad’s Mecca, 45. 

2 Ibid, 108, note 2 to Chapter 1 and notes 2 and 10 to Chapter III. 

3 AL-BAYDAWI, Tafsir, I, second Egyptian impression, 1968, p. 412. 

4 AL-TABARI, Tafsir, XIV, 201-204. ·

5 AL-QURTUBI, Tafsir, Pt.VIII, 116-117. 

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THE ALLEGED CONTEMPORARY ERRORS IN THE QUR’AN 67 
Thus, in respect of neither Maryam nor ‘Uzayr is the Qur’anic statement an error or mistake. Nor could it be said that the Qur’an was reproducing the popular and prevailing errors and thus inveighing unjustly against Judaism and Christianity; for it refers to those beliefs as “errors” and points out the mistake in adhering to them. Hence if they did not really form part of the pristine religion of the Jews and the Christians, the Qur’an was only emphasizing the truth. 
Nor does the Qur’an stop at pointing out those errors alone. It points out other errors too. Thus, 
(a) as against the Jews’ insinuations and innuendo against Maryam it unequivocally asserts her chastity and purity of character. 
(b) As against the doctrine of the Trinity it uncompromisingly asserts the absolute and immutable unity of God. 
(c) As against the Jews’ and Christians’ notion of sonship of God it emphatically states that God does not have any “son” nor is He “Father” to anyone as such. 
(d) As against the divinity of Jesus (‘Isa) it insists on his humanity and asserts that those who worship him as god are “unbelievers”. 
Interestingly enough, none of the orientalists has hitherto ventured to suggest that these Qur’anic references to the prevailing beliefs of the Jews and Christians are also “palpable” mistakes in the Qur’an due to its having adopted those “erroneous” notions from “nominally Christian Arabs”, or “some people in Mecca”, or “the Meccans”! The fact is that the Qur’an refers to these latter beliefs of the Jews and the Christians that prevailed at the time as well as to the other prevailing beliefs and practices regarding Maryam and ‘Uzayr and disapproves of each and every item of them. The modern followers of the two religions have abandoned some of the old beliefs and practices and, on the basis of their reorientation, some of them now come forward with the suggestion that the Qur’anic references to some of the beliefs and practices of Judaism and Christianity are palpable mistakes and that therefore Muhammad (p.b.h.) did not himself read the Bible but gathered his information from hearsay. The point at issue, however, is not whether he himself read the Bible or did not read it. The issue is that the Qur’an, and therefore Muhammad (p.b.h.), denounce as errors the prevailing beliefs and practices of the Jews and Christians, including even those that are said to have been sanctioned by their holy scripture. Not only that. The Qur’an asserts that the extant Judaeo-Christian scripture is a corruption and modification of the original text.1 Clearly, the source of 

Muhammad’s (p.b.h.) 

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1 See for a recent western scholar’s recognition of this fact, BART D. EHRMAN, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture. The Effect of Early Christologital Controversies on the Text of the New Testament, Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford, 1993. 

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68 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
knowledge and conviction must have been something other than either a direct or an indirect acquaintance with the contents of the Bible. 
________________________

(c) Regarding Crucifixion 

________________________
Similarly in its reference to the end of ‘Isa’s career the Qur’an does in no way reproduce a popular “mistake”. On the contrary, it asserts that the popular saying (qawluhum) about it is a mistake. The ‘ayah (4:157) which refers to the matter runs as follows:
._,; l_,.o.b:-10!.l.ll 01J ~ y .:f.JJ o_,l.,.:. L.. J •p L.. J ….UI J_,…..J t/-f ..:;.1 ~~I U,;; wl ~_,.; J • ~ o p L.. J Ji..ll t_ L:;”l )II ~ ,y “-! ~ L.. <l:..o ..!,.l.;. ~ 
“And as for their saying: We have killed the Messiah, son of Maryam, the Messenger of Allah; but they killed him not, nor did they crucify him, but it was made to appear to them as such. And certainly those who differ therein are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge about it except the pursuit of conjecture; and they killed him not for certain.” (4:157) 
Clearly, the passage sets out to contradict their saying, i.e., the saying of the Jews; for the whole narration here is about the Jews. The contradiction is made in a very positive manner. It is stated that they did not kill him nor did they really crucify him. It is further stated that they, while claiming to have killed ‘Isa, entertained doubts about it. The allusion is here to their doubts about the identity of the individual they put on the cross.1 The passage then says that it was made to appear like that to them (shubbiha Jahum), i.e., ‘Isa’s having been crucified and killed in that manner was an incorrect impression or illusion to them and that they had no real knowledge of what actually happened but followed only a certain conjecture. The passage ends with an emphatic reiteration that “they killed him not for certain.” 
It may be noted that even some early Christian sects did not believe that ‘Isa died on the cross. Thus the Basilidans thought that some one else was substituted for him on the cross. The Gospel of St. Barnabas supports the theory of substitution on the cross. Another view, that of the Diocetae, says that Jesus (‘Isa) had never a real physical or natural body, but only an apparent or phantom one, and that his crucifixion was only apparent, not real. A yet another view, that of the Marcionite Gospel, says that Jesus was not even born but merely appeared in human form. It cannot be said that in denying ‘Isa’s crucifixion and death on the cross the Qur’an adopts the view of any of the above mentioned Christian sects; for it categorically rejects the very basis of those views, namely, the divinity of ‘Isa and 

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1 See for instance AL-TABARI, Tafsir, Pt. VI, 16-17. 

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THE ALLEGED CONTEMPORARY ERRORS IN THE QUR’AN 69 
the theory of his phantom body. Rather, in view of the doubts and differences prevailing over the matter, it categorically asserts the truth and positively contradicts the Jews’ assertion that they had killed him. The position is quite different from that of mere reproduction of a prevailing erroneous view. In fact, the Qur’anic statement is directed against the Jews as well as the Christians. It contradicts the former’s assertion that they had killed ‘Isa and that therefore he was not a Prophet because he suffered what is called an “accursed death”. Similarly, it rejects the Christian doctrine of the divinity of ‘Isa and that of “vicarious atonement” and its basis, the concept of “blood sacrifice”. T
he Qur’anic statement that “they killed him not for certain” finds support even in the Bible itself. Thus: 
(1) Jesus had prayed to God the night before his arrest to be saved from the accursed death on the cross (Mark 14:36; Matt. 26:39; Luke 22:44) and that his prayer was heard, i.e., responded to. This means that he did not intend to die and that God did not allow his being subjected to the accursed death. 
(2) There is nothing in the Gospels which may be taken to be an eye-witness account that the person crucified was dead when he was taken down from the cross or when he was placed in the sepulchre specially made for him. 
(3) Pilate, who was in charge of the trial, appears to have grown sceptical about the justice of the whole proceedings and to have taken care to enable Jesus to escape death on the cross. The trial took place on Friday. Pilate purposely prolonged it and delivered judgement only three hours before sun-set, thus ensuring that Jesus could not be kept on the cross for more than a couple of hours at the most. For, with the sun-set the Sabbath day would ensue and the condemned persons would have to be brought down from the crosses. Pilate also took additional care to see that Jesus was given wine and vinegar mingled with myrrh to render him less sensitive to pain. Thus Jesus remained on the cross for not more than three hours (Mark 15:25;John 19:14). This was evidently too short a time for any person of normal constitution to die on a cross. Significantly enough, the two other persons who were crucified simultaneously are stated to have been alive when they were brought down from their crosses. Pilate himself did not believe that Jesus died in so short a time (Mark 15:44). 
( 4) After being taken down from the cross the two other persons’ legs were crushed, but this measure was dispensed with, according to the Bible, in the case of Jesus (John 19:32,33). 
70 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
(5) Jesus, after being brought down from the cross, was pierced in the side of his body and blood rushed out of it (John 19:34), which shows that he was still alive. 
(6) Pilate readily granted Joseph of Arimaethia’s request and handed over Jesus’ “body” to him. He lavished care on Jesus and put him in a special tomb hewn in the side of a rock (Mark 15:46); which was evidently a manoeuvre to deceive Jesus’ enemies. 
(7) On the third day the stone on the tomb’s opening was found to have been removed (Mark 16:4), which proves that it had been removed previously, probably on the first or second day of the internment. 
(8) Mary Magdalene, when she looked into the sepulchre, did not find Jesus there. She saw him standing and at first supposed “him to be the gardener”. Then, 

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“17. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father, and Your Father; and to my God, and your God. 
18. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her. 
19. Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 
20. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.” (John 20:14-15, 17 -20) 

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(9) It was in the same body of flesh that the disciples saw Jesus, his wounds still deep enough for a man to thrust his hand in. (John 20:25-28) 
(1 0) He was seen in the same flesh and bone. He still felt hunger and ate food as his disciples did. 
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“36. And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 
37. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. 
38. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your hearts? 
39. Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. 
40. And when he had thus spoken, he showed them his hands and his feet. 
41. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? 
42. And they gave him a piece of broiled fish, and of an honey-comb. 
43. And he took it, and did eat before them.” (Luke 24:36-43) 

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(11) Jesus undertook a journey to Galilee where,his disciples saw him.

( Matt. 28:10-17) 
THE ALLEGED CONTEMPORARY ERRORS IN THE QUR’AN 71 
All these statements in the different Gospels strongly support the Qur’anic verdict: “they killed him not for certain.” Indeed the above mentioned Gospel statements clearly suggest that Jesus escaped death on the cross and therefore avoided being discovered by his enemies. 
It is worth noting in this connection that recent research confirms that Jesus did not suffer death on the cross. Thus Barbara Thiering, an Australian scholar, has demonstrated convincingly, on a meticulous analysis of the Dead Sea Scrolls, that Jesus did not die on the cross1• Almost simultaneously, two European scholars, Holger Kersten and Elmar E. Gruber, have assiduously pursued the story of the radio-carbon test carried out some years ago on the famous “Turin Shroud”2 and have shown that Jesus did not die on the cross.3 The end of Jesus is indeed a difficult historical and theological question; and it would not just be appropriate to cut it short, as Watt does,4 by calling the Qur’anic statement on it a popular error picked up from the bazaar gossips of Makka or Bosra. 
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II. THE ALLEGED SCIENTIFIC ERRORS 

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As an extension of the plea about errors in respect of Judaism and Christianity Watt has lately suggested that the Qur’an also reproduces the contemporary errors about the nature of the earth and the sky. The Qur’an, he says, addresses its first audience, the Arabs, in terms of their own world-picture and thus reproduces even points in which that picture was mistaken. In support of this statement he reproduces, in translation, some eight Qur’anic passages and says that they show that the prevailing notions of the earth being a flat space and the sky being a solid structure, “presumably of stone”, are reproduced in the Qur’an.5 Watt recognizes that different words are used in these passages to describe the earth and says that “all would be interpreted by the hearers in terms of their belief that the earth is flat.” He adds that “there is no special emphasis on flatness, since no one supposed that the earth would be otherwise. “6 He also suggests that such reproduction of contemporary errors was only natural, for, according to him, “it was not essential for god’s purpose that false ideas of this sort should be 

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1 BARBARA THIERING, Jesus the Man (first published 1993), Corgi edition, 1993. See especially the back-cover page. 
2 The shroud discovered at Turin and believed to be the garment with which Jesus was covered when placed in the sepulchre. 
3 HOLGER KERSTEN & ELMAR R. GRUBER, The Jesus Conspiracy The Turin Shroud and the Truth about the Resurrection, Element Books Ltd., Shaftesbury, 1994. 
4 WATT, Muhammad’s Mecca, 45-46. ‘ Ibid., 5-6. 6 Ibid., 5. 

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72 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
corrected”, “since the Qur’anic message could be communicated to them [the Arabs] without correcting these beliefs.”1 
Before proceeding to take into account the passages cited by Watt in support of his assumption it is necessary to note the implications of his last mentioned statement about the supposed compatibility of God’s purpose with the continuance of the prevailing scientific errors in the Qur’an. In making this statement Watt appears to reflect the modern Christian’s attitude to his own sacred scripture. This attitude is an outcome of a growing awareness since the nineteenth century of the existence of a number of scientific inaccuracies in the Biblical texts. In view of these inaccuracies the opinion first gained ground that there was an antagonism between science and religion. Gradually, however, the notion of a text of revelation communicated by God gave way to the notion of a text “inspired” by God but written down by human hands. The Biblical authors, it came to be assumed, might have introduced inaccuracies to the text arising from the language of the day or from ideas and traditions still honoured and prevalent at the time; but that did not detract from their being divinely inspired.2 “The scientific errors in the Bible”, states an eminent modern Christian thinker, “are the errors of mankind, for long ago man was like a child, as yet ignorant of science.”3 
The modern Muslim, however, is neither in need of nor prepared for finding solace in such assumptions; for there is no discrepancy between scientific data and any of the Qur’anic statements. As will be seen presently, the interpretations put by Watt on the passages he cites are wrong. And it is surprising that in advancing his assumption he has not taken into account, not to speak of a umber of Arabic works on the subject,4 even such a best-seller in Europe as M. Bucaille’s La Bible, Le Coran et Ia Science which, appearing for the first time in 1976, had run into 12 editions within ten years5 and had been translated into at least three other European languages including English and seven Asian languages before Watt penned his above mentioned statement. 

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I Ibid., 2, 44. 
2 The second Vatican Council (1962-1965) adopted a document which recognizes that the Books of the Old Testament contain material that is imperfect and obsolete. See M. Bucaille, What is the Oriigin of Man? The Answer of Science and the Holy Striptum, 4th edition, Seghers, Paris, 1988, p. 15. 
3 Jean Guitton (1987), quoted in ibid., 10. 
4 For instance MUHAMMAD WAFA AL-‘AMIRI, Al-‘lsharat al-‘Ilmiyyah Fi al-Qur’an, second impression, Cairo, 1401 (1981) and HANAFi AHMAD, AI-Tafsir al-‘Ilmii li ‘Ayat al-Kawniyyah Fi al-Qur’an, Cairo, n.d. 
5 The 13th edition was published in Paris in 1987. 

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THE ALLEGED CONTEMPORARY ERRORS IN THE QUR’AN 73 
The word ‘ard occurs in the Qur’an some 461 times. Most of the uses are in connection with a description of Allah’s absolute dominion over the entire universe and His power of creation. At a number of places the word clearly comes in the sense of country or dominion;1 while at other places it is used metaphorically to denote worldly life.2 The passages wherein it occurs with any description of its shape and nature may be divided into two categories. In one category it is mentioned in combination with or in comparison to the mountains and rivers. Here the emphasis is on how the earth has been made suitable and useful for man and other creatures. Here the listeners’ or readers’ attention is drawn mainly to the objects of nature and the land-surface falling within his immediate view. In other words, the earth in these passages means the land or land-surface falling within an observer’s immediate view, in contradistinction to the mountains and rivers, rather than the entire earth as a unit. In the second category of passages the word occurs in relation to the sun, the moon, the skies and the universe in general. Here the earth is spoken of as a unit and the description really gives an insight into its shape, position and even movement in space. 
In view of this general nature of the Qur’anic use of the expression ‘ard Watt’s statement of the subject is partial and faulty in three main respects. In the first place, he concentrates on the passages of the first category and takes them to refer to the shape of the earth as a unit, which is not the case. Second, despite the diversity and differences in the descriptive expressions in the passages he cites he imposes on them all identical meanings because, as he says, the “first audience” of the Qur’an could not have supposed that the earth’s shape could have been otherwise than flat. A really objective approach would have suggested greater care in understanding the precise implications of the different expressions employed in the passages. Watt even neglects to note the significance of a passage in its entirety, omitting its material part from his translation. Third and more importantly, he does not at all take into consideration the second category of passages wherein the shape and position of the earth as a unit, as also those of the others planets and stars in the space, are indicated and which contain astounding scientific data not known to man at the time the Qur’an was revealed. 
That the term ‘ard used in most of the passages cited means the land-surface falling within the observer’s immediate view, rather than the earth as a planet, is 

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1 For instance in 7:110; 14:13; 20:57; 20:63; 26:35; 28:57. Incidentally the word ‘earth’ seems to be an adaptation of ‘ard. 
2 As in 9:38. 

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74 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
very clear from 88:19-20 and 78:6-7 which Watt cites. The two passages, together with Watt’s translations, run respectively as follows: .
..::….-.6… 4 ..}’ J \II Jl J ~ 4 J~l Jl J 
“and [to] the mountains how they are set up? and [to] the earth how it is spread out?” (88:19-20) 
bu) J~IJ bl..f..-uPJ\11 ~ ~f 
“Did we not make the earth an expanse and the mountains pegs?” (78:6-7) 
Clearly, at both the places ‘ard means the immediately visible plain land in contradistinction to “the mountains” that also are visible. For, if the earth as a whole is implied, the reference to the mountains distinct from it would be both incongruous and superfluous here. It is further noteworthy that the ‘ayah 78:7 speaks of mountains as “pegs”. Modern scientific knowledge confirms that mountains, like pegs have deep roots embedded in the ground and that these stabilize the earth’s crust.1 In another place the Qur’an very clearly says that Allah “has set firm mountains in the earth so that it would not shake with you.”2 The ‘ayahs 88:6-7 and 78:6-7 do in fact refer to these scientific facts and how Allah has set the earth’s surface and the mountains for making the earth suitable for human habitation. They do not speak about the earth’s shape. Watt has simply misunderstood and misinterpreted the ‘ayahs. 
Let us now consider the material words in relation to ‘ard1 in all the passages cited. They are mentioned below together with Watt’s rendering of material words (italicized) in them. 
(1) 79:30 = t….I>.J .;.lb ~ ..}’}liJ (dahaha) “spread out”. 
(2) 88:20 = …::….-.6… 4 ..}’}11 Jl J   (sutihat) “spread out”. 
(3) 78:6 = bl..f..-uPJ\11 ~ ~f   (mihada) “make an expanse”. 
( 4) 51:48 = t….8) ..}’ J \IIJ i.  (farashnaha) “laid flat”. 
(5) 71:19 = lk~ uPJ\11 ~ ~ ….UIJ   (bisata) “made an expanse”. 
(6) 20:53 = 1-4–..}’J\11 ~ ~ (.S.iJI   (mahda) “made a bed”. 
(7) 13:3 = ..}’ J \II J..,o (.S.iJI yo J   (madda) “spread out”. 
(8) 2:22 =~I) ..}’J\11 ~ ~ (.S.iJI   (fiarasha) “made a carpet”. 
Needless to say, each one of these expressions like dabaha, su(i~at, etc., admits of a variety of meanings. Watt himself admits this fact in a general way not only with reference to these passages but also with regard to the others he has quoted 

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1See for instance Andre Cailleux, Anatomy of the earth, London, 1968, p. 220; Frank Press and Raymond Siever, Earth, Sanfrancisco, 1982, p. 413. 
2 Q. 16:15. 

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THE ALLEGED CONTEMPORARY ERRORS IN THE QUR’AN 75 
by saying at the outset of his work that he has so selected the translation as “best brings out the points being illustrated by the quotations.”1 
Now, the very first expression in the series, dahaha, is noticeably distinctive and different in genre from the rest. Watt, following many other previous translators, renders it as “spread out”. But the exact and correct meaning of the term, keeping in view its root, rather provides a very positive Qur’anic evidence in support of the spherical shape of the earth. For daha means to “shape like an egg”, its noun being dahryah, which the Arabs still use to mean an egg.2 
The second expression, sutihat, is equally significant. It is derived from sath (F)which means surface, outer layer, outer cover, roof, deck, plane, etc. Hence sath al-bahr means sea-level, sath ma’il means inclined plane, sathi means external, outward, superficial, etc. Keeping this original meaning of the root-word in view and approaching the Qur’anic statement at 88:20 with our modern knowledge that the interior of the earth is full of gaseous and liquid materials (lava) and that the land-surface is only an outer cover resembling the skin of an egg, and that it is also a plane, it would be seen how very appropriate, scientific and significant is the term sutihat used here in describing the land-surface of the earth, particularly after the description in the previous ‘ayah, 88:19, of how the mountains have been affixed. The Qur’anic statement at 88:20 may thus be very appropriately and more correctly rendered as: “(Do they not look) to the earth how it has been surfaced and planed?” 
The third word in the series is mihad and it may be considered along with the sixth in the series, mahd in 20:53, because they both belong to the same root. The former means resting place, abode, bosom, cradle and, figuratively, fold (in which something rests). And A.J. Arberry has very correctly translated the expression at 78:6 as: “Have We not made the earth as a cradle?”3 In fact, this very word mihad occurs at six other places in the Qur’an,4 and at each of these places it clearly bears the meaning of an abode, a habitat, a resting place, etc. In any case, even without regard to what we know of the interior of the earth, to translate the expression as “made an expanse” would be quite remote from the original sense and would be inappropriate here. 

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1 WATT, Muhammad’s Mecca,2. 
2 M. FATHI ‘UTHMAN, “AI-‘ard Fi al-Qur’an al-Karim”, Proceedings of the First Islamic Geographical Conference”, Riyadh, 1404/1984, Vol. IV, 127; A.M. SOLIMAN, Scientific Trends in the Qur’an, London (fa-Ha Publications), 1985, p.16. 
3 A.J. ARBERRY, op.cit, 626. 
4 Q. 2:206; 3:12; 3:197; 7:41; 13:18 and 38:56. 

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76 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
Similarly mahd means bed or cradle. It occurs at four other places in the Qur’an, once in connection with ‘art/ in 43:10 and thrice in connection with ‘Isa’s speaking to men even while in the cradle.1 And again, A.J. Arberry very consistently renders the term at both 43:10 and 20:53 as cradle. In fact, he translates the statements at both the places uniformly as: “He who appointed the earth to be a cradle for you.”2 Watt, on the other hand, is not so consistent. He translates the expression at 78:6 as “make an expanse” and at 20:53 as “made a bed”. 
Similarly inconsistent is his translation of the fourth and eighth terms in the series, farashnaha and firashd. The primary meaning of farasha is to spread out as a bed, to pave, to cover, etc.; while firash means bed, mattress, bedspread, cushion, carpet, etc. Nevertheless, while Watt has translated this last expression at 2:22 as “made a bed”, he has rendered the word at 51:48 as “laid flat”, though the farthest manoeuvring that could legitimately be done here is to render it as “spread out as a bed” or “laid out as a bed”, but not quite as “laid flat”. 
There remain two other words to consider, bisat and madda, the fifth and seventh respectively in the series. The same meaning of laying or spreading as a bed is appropriate for bisat, and Arberry has indeed translated the whole statement at 71:9 as: “And God has laid the earth for you as a carpet.”3 Watt, however, has rendered the expression as “made an expanse”. As regards the word madda, its primary meaning is “he extended” or “he expanded”. It may even mean “he spread out”, as Watt translates it. The term has been used in the Qur’an in several other senses. At 84:3-4 the expression is in its passive form, muddat, and it clearly bears the meaning of “is flattened”-“And when the earth shall be flattened and it will throw off what is in it and shall get emptied” ( J ..;_,.LA <.? J \II \j\ J …:…b:.; J 4..; L. ..:…Al~. This is a description of what will happen when the earth (world) will be brought to an end and the resurrection will take place. Hence the sense in which muddat is used here cannot be applied to the same term or its derivatives which speak about the normal situations of the earth and which therefore must bear a meaning other than “made flat” or “flattened”. Conversely, this passage is a pointer to the fact that prior to the event of the earth’s being brought to an end it is as a whole not flat. 

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1 Q. 3:40; 3:110 and 19:314. 

2 A.J. ARBERRY, op.cit., 505 and 314. 

‘ Ibid., 609. 
THE ALLEGED CONTEMPORARY ERRORS IN THE QUR’AN 77 
Leaving aside the differentials in meanings and accepting the renderings as “spread out”, “made an expanse”, etc., none of the eight statements cited does really say that the earth as a whole is a flat space; for the passages speak of the earth or land as it comes within the immediate view of the observer. Moreover, though the sense of making level or plane may be said to be common to all the terms, this sense does not in fact run counter to the spherical nature of the earth as a whole. The accepted geometrical and mathematical definition of “plane” is “surface such as that the straight line joining any points on it is touching on all points. “1 Hence, in spite of the earth as a whole being spherical, its surface is nonetheless level, plane, spread out or even flat. The inherent relativity of the expression madda or “spread out” applied to earth in such passages was indeed pointed out some eight centuries ago by Imam Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (544-606 H./1150-1210 A.C.) who was quite conscious of the spherical nature of the earth. Referring to the term madda used at 13:3 and 15:19 he makes two points. He says that the object of these passages is to bring home the theme of the existence of the Creator. The reference has therefore to be to such objects as are visible and obvious to the listener. Hence the term ‘art/ in these passages has to be understood in the sense of the part of it which comes to the immediate view of the observer.2 Second, he points out that the earth “is an extremely large ball; but a part of a gigantic ball, when looked at it, you will see it as a plain surface. This being the case, the difficulty of which you speak ceases to exist. The proof of this

is the saying of Allah: (We have set the mountains as pegs (b\j) Jl:>rJIJ-78:7). He calls them pegs notwithstanding the fact that there may be extensive plain surfaces on top of them. So is the case here. “3 Far from reproducing or reflecting the erroneous world-view prevailing in seventh century Arabia the Qur’an indeed goes far beyond the scientific knowledge of the time and speaks of scientific facts and truths that have only recently been discovered by man. In fact, if Watt had looked carefully enough he would have seen that at least in three of the passages he has cited to support of his assumption there are such extraordinary facts as well as significant pointers to the spherical nature of the earth. Unfortunately, while quoting these passages in 

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1 Oxford Ad1Jam•d Learner’s Dictionary of Cumnt English, 19th impression, 1984, p. 636. 
2 Al-Tafsir al-Kabir, XIX, 3. 
‘ Ibid, 170. The Arabic text runs as follows 

. ..J_,; <#j,J..JI) J~’\’10” •)_f”; l.o Jij .!.IJ.\5″ ,)\5′ ljl )cS_,:..-..ll ~\5’ c.<} 4’u 4,11 u)o; ljl4;.-:o.J,;j> ,:,;>.. <…,k.JI ;_?JI) w..Ji <,~ J ;_f” .# ‘-“‘ .!.llill ..,_,…… >….P c_.k..-~ J–< .u ..;~ e:-“” }Lo~….o <“”} Jt.,..J’Jl Jw 

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78 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
translation he has omitted in two of these three passages those very portions that contain such facts. One of these passages is 13:3 which in its entirety runs as follows: J
‘+:]l J..lll ~ ~I .:_r->. Jj 4J j.u.-.;..1_;..!)1 JS’ .y J l}~f J ~IJJ 4J ~ J ..}> J \’I .M <.>..U\ yo J 0JA t_,.Al du..’l .. !.m J 01 
“And He it is Who spread the earth, and made in it firm mountains and rivers. And of all fruits He has made pairs of two (of every kind). He makes the night cover the day. Surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect.” (Muhammad Ali’s translation with slight modification) 
In this passage there are two significant statements. The first is: “And of all fruits He has made pairs of two (of every kind)”. The implication of this statement has become clear only in modern times with the discovery of sexes in plants and fruits, indeed of pairs in every thing.1 In fact the statement has long been translated in that sense.2 Needless to say that no one in the seventh Christian century did have any inkling of the concept of pairs or sexes in plants, fruits and other things; nor was it possible to comprehend the full significance of this Qur’anic statement before the scientific discoveries of modern times in this respect. 
The second significant statement in the passage (13:3) is: “He makes the night cover the day.” Unmistakably, the sense here is that of the night gradually taking the place of the day-a phenomenon which is understandable only with reference to the spherical shape of the earth and its rotation;3 for, if it was uttered in the context of a flat earth, the statement would have been framed to convey the sense of the day and night alternating each other, not “covering the day with the night”, as indeed Arberry translates the clause.4 The second passage is 20:53 which runs as follows: 
~ ..:.>~ .y 1,.,.\J) 4! L:>…r”f; ~\… ~L……..Ji.y J;fJ ~ 4J ~ ..!..lL J \-4-> ..}>J\’1 ~ ~ <.>..UI 
“He Who made the earth a cradle for you and threaded for you in it routes; and sent down from the sky water. Thus We have produced thereby pairs of plants, each different from the other.”(20:53) The scientific truth about sexes in plants is stated here more pointedly and explicitly, thus supplementing the information contained in 13:3 noted above. 
The third of the passages is 51:47-48. It runs as follows: 
0 J.uWI ~ L-W) ..}> J \’IJ 0 .Y-” ,..J lil J ~4 \….~ ~L……..J\J 

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1 See also Q. 36:36 and 51:49 on this point. 

2 See for instance M. Pickthall’s and A. Yusuf Ali’s translations and comments on this ‘ayah. 

3 See below (text) for other Qur’anic references on this point. 

4 ARBERRY, op.dt., 239. 

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THE ALLEGED CONTEMPORARY ERRORS IN THE QUR’AN 79 
“And the sky We have made it with Hands; and verily We are Expanders (are in the process of expanding it). And the earth, We have laid it out, and how Excellent are the authors of laying out!” 
Here the expression “and verily We are Expanders” (0 _,…… _,..J Ul J) is very significant. Watt has rendered this part of the statement as: “and it is we who make it of vast extent. “1 But it is to be noted that the construction is in the nominal form (a.,…… I u…,.,.) in contrast with the verbal (….,W u…,.,.) form of the immediately preceding expression, which is also in the past tense. It is a well-known rule of Arabic construction that the nominal form together with the emphatic lam is used to indicate a habitual or continual act or process of doing. Thus the correct translation of the expression would be: “And verily We are expanders” or “We do expand” or “We are in the process of expanding it”. Indeed, A.J. Arberry is just correct in rendering this part of the statement as “and We expand it wide.”2 
Now, this statement assumes a great significance in the light of modern scientific information that the universe is expanding at a staggering speed. It says that everything in space (the skies) -the constellations together with their planets and satellites, etc., are all flying straight ahead at an unimaginable speed. The sun itself, together with its planets and their satellites as a whole are reckoned to be moving at the staggering speed of almost a million miles a day towards the constellation Lyra which itself is moving away at a similar speed! Thus the space, i.e. the sky, is continually expanding. In the light of this modern knowledge the Qur’anic statement “We have created the heaven, and indeed We do expand it” assumes a bewildering significance, besides being surprisingly precise. 
Thus three of the eight passages cited by Watt to prove what he supposes to be scientific errors in the Qur’an contain at least four such facts as run directly counter to his assumption. Two of these facts relate to the shape of the earth and two relate to creation and the universe in general. These facts are: (a) that Allah has shaped the earth like an egg (dahaha); (b) that “He makes the night cover the day” (13:3), which is an indication of the spherical nature of the earth; (c) that plants and fruits, besides other objects, are created in pairs (of sexes) and (d) that the sky (space) is continually being expanded (51:47). There are indeed many other passages of scientific import in the Qur’an, specially relating to the origin and creation of man, nature and the universe.3 It is not feasible here to refer even 

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1 WATT, Muhammad’s Mecca, 6. 

2 ARBERRY,op.cit., 545. 

3 See for instance M. BUCAILLE, op.cit. 

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80 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
briefly to all of them. A few of them bearing on the question of the earth’s shape may, however, be mentioned here. 
The most significant in this respect is the statement at 91:6 which says that the earth has been thrown (in its orbit? in the space?) like a ball. The statement runs as :
t…L:.J. L.. J J> J \JIJ –
“By the earth and He Who threw it (like a ball)” It may be noted that like the word dahaha (79:30) this word tahaha also has been rendered by many early scholars as “spread out”, “expanded”, etc. Significantly, however, both Al-Qurtubi and Al-Shawkani, while noticing the interpretations put on the word by the previous commentators, point out that the Arabs understood the word in the sense of going or moving away.1 The meaning is further clarified by the author of the Taj al-‘Arus who, while noticing the meanings put on the word by the early commentators, points out that the word means “throwing” something, for instance a ball (1+. I.S”J •.?0~ L:.J. J ).2 This expression thus agrees well with the meaning of dahaha as explained above and both indicate the spherical shape of the earth and its rotation in the space. It may further be noted that the statements immediately preceding 91:6, particularly 91:3-4, have a significant bearing on the point as they describe the relationship of day and night with the sun. The statements run as: t…~ 1~1 J..!IJ \….’)\.,. 1~1 J4-JIJ -“By the day as it reveals it (the sun). By the night as it conceals it.” These two statements make it quite clear that it is the action of the day and the night which brings to view the sun and conceals it, not that any movement of the sun causes day and night. The precision in the statements would be all the clearer if attention is paid to 91:1 wherein the sun is referred to . It simply states: “By the sun and its brightness” (t…l>….,;, J ~IJ). No action or verb is ascribed to it here. A little regard to such precise use of words would make it clear that they imply important scientific facts regarding the shape of the earth and its rotation. 
The significance of the earth’s having been “thrown” (tahaha) becomes very clear if it is considered along with another very important Qur’anic statement relating to the origin of the earth itself and of life on it. It says that initially the sky and the earth were joined together in one mass, that subsequently they were separated and that every living being on the earth originated in water. The passage runs as follows: 

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1 AL-QURTUBI, Tafsi’r, XX, 74-75;AL-SHAWKANI, Tafsir, V, 449. 
2 Taj al-‘Arus, X, 223. See also E.W. LANE, Arabic-English Lexicon, under tahw ( _,.J. ) and tahy (_,..1) where, besides the other meanings, it is noted:” bJ. is said when one throws down a man upon his face.” (Cambridge Islamic Texts Society print, 1984, Vol.II, 1832). 

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THE ALLEGED CONTEMPORARY ERRORS IN THE QUR’AN 81 
0 y y. ~f <.? ~tf-J5’ ~WI ,y L:.l…… J l…..>\.:.A:;.O IZ.J L::;l) ,_;, J \riJ ..;..IJl……JI 0f IJ_,£ .:r..lll .1-r-l } 
“Or, do the unbelievers not see that the heavens and the earth were joined in one mass, and then We clove them asunder, and made out of water every living being? Will they not then believe?” (21:30) 
The significance of this passage has become clear only with the progress of scientific knowledge in modern times about the origin of our planet and of life on it. Another Qur’anic statement directly relating to the earth is 13:41 which says that it is gradually contracting, as is indeed established by modern research. The statement runs as follows: 
. . . ~l)>f ,y ~ ,_;, J ’11 _;t; l.if IJ.I-r-l } 
“Have they not realized that We bring the earth to contraction in its extremities?” (13:41) 
As regards the night gradually merging into the day and vice-versa we have a number of other Qur’anic statements of which the following are very specific: 
(a) J.liJ J4JI d _,; J J4JI J j.JI d _,; -“Thou causest the night to enter into the day and Thou causest the day to enter into the night.” (3:27) 
(b) J.liJ J4JI d y. J J4JI J j.JI d y. .u.Ji 04 .!.ll~ –
“That is because Allah makes the night enter into the day and makes the day enter into the night. (22:61) 
(c) J.ll J J4J! dY-J J4JI J J.ll dY-.u.Ji 0f; r-lf –
“Do you not see that Allah makes the night enter into the day and makes the day enter into the night?” (31:29) 
(d) and (e)j.JI J J4J! dY-J J4JI J J.ll dY–
“He makes the night enter into the day and makes the day enter into the night.” (35:13 and 57:6) 
(f) … J4JI….:.. tw J.ll ~ J.A J –
“And a sign for them is the night. We gradually withdraw from it the day.” (36:37) 
These repeated statements of the Qur’an about the gradual merging of the day and the night into each other, and not each appearing suddenly on the surface of the earth as would have been the case if it were flat, are clear pointers to the spherical shape of the earth. Still clearer, however, is the following: 
J.ll ~ )4-:)1 J~ ) J4J! ~ J.ll J~ 
“He makes the night roll over the day and He makes the day roll over the night.” (39:5). 
It is to be emphasized that the word kawwara (whence yukawwiru) means to roll into a ball or to make round. In other words, the ‘!ryah says that the night and the day are a continuous process round the earth. 

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(b) Concerning the sky 

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The Qur’an refers not only to the earth and what it produces by Allah’s leave, it also draws man’s attention to the skies and the universe in order to bring home to him the theme of His Existence and Omnipotence. And in so doing it makes 
82 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
statements of which the full significance and meaning are unfolding themselves only with the progress of our scientific knowledge. But as in the case of the earth, so in respect of the sky Watt states that the Qur’an only picks up the prevailing erroneous notion and conceives the sky to be something built of solid materials, “presumably of stone.”1 He bases his assertion on four out of the eight Qur’anic passages he cites in connection with what he imagines scientific errors in the Qur’an. These four passages, together with his translation of them, are as follows: 
(a) 79:27-28 = U.l_,…,.i ~ cjJ u.~ ~L…..JI ~~ \.A.l..:. .w.i ~~~ 

“Are you harder to create or the heaven he built? He raised up its roof and ordered it.” 
(b) 88:17~18 = ~J ~ ~L….-ll JIJ …:….A1.,.:. ~ ._k’)ll Jl 0JA J\,0( 

“Will they not regard the camels, how they are formed? and the heaven how it is raised?” 
(c) 51:47 = 0y–_,..J l..i\J ..~.,!~ u.~ ~L…..JIJ 

“The heaven we have built with hands, and it is we who make it of vast extent.. .. ” 
(d) 2:22 = ~~ ~L…..J\) W.\) <./’}~\ ~ J..>–11 

(Your Lord) made for you the earth a carpet and the heaven an edifice … ” 
In the above quoted passages there occur the expressions banaha, baynaha and bina’ respectively in (a), (c) and (d). Understandably, Watt has so translated them as would best illustrate the point he wants to make. But even accepting his rendering of the terms, it may be pointed out that the words “build” and “edifice” are not exclusively used in respect of solid objects. They may very well be applied to non-solids as well as abstract ideas and objects. At any rate, his translation of the expression wa ‘inna la-musi’un as “and we make it of vast extent” is not quite correct. The exact meaning of the expression, as pointed out above, is: “And We do expand it” or “We are in the process of expanding it.” 
Now, knowing as we do at the present time that just as an atom is a “structure” or “edifice” “built” of certain elements, similarly the whole universe and its component parts, the innumerable systems (like the solar system) as a whole and each individually are very much a structure, a set-up, an integrated construction, an organism or, figuratively, even an “edifice”. Hence the terms “built”, “created”, “formed”, etc., may appropriately be applied to them, especially to the solar system, to which the earth and the neighbouring planets belong. The question is how one sees it, as Watt himself seems to recognize. The terms by themselves do not mean that the Qur’an conceives the sky to be something of a solid object. 

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1 W ATT, Muhammad’s Mecca, 5. 

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THE ALLEGED CONTEMPORARY ERRORS IN THE QUR’AN 83 
Similarly the term samk in (c) , which Watt translates as “roof’, has other meanings as well as height, expansiveness, extensiveness and burj or zone of constellation.1 Of course the Qur’an does in other places refer to the sky as “the raised roof’ (al-saqf al-maifu’) and a “protected roof’ (saqfan mahfazan).3 The word saqf in Arabic originally means a cover or a roof over anything. The term is therefore appropriately applicable to the immediate sphere around our atmospheric belt, or the latter itself, for both of them are very much “protected” and “protecting” covers over us, the earth, and both of them, as will be seen presently, are included in al-sama’ or the sky as conceived in the Qur’an. 
Apart from these four passages, however, there are many other statements in the Qur’an which Watt does not take into account but which show that its view of the sky is not so primitive as he thinks it to be. These other passages may be classified into three broad categories -(a) those that speak about the state of the sky at the beginning of the creation, (b) those that give an idea of the nature and contents of the sky as they are now and (c) those that speak about their state in the end. 
As regards the state of the sky at the beginning of the creation, two passages are of special significance. The one, 41:11, says that at the beginning the sky was only “smoke” (or vaporous or gaseous-.:Jl>-~!..? J). The other, 21:30, states that the skies and the earth were initially one mass but they were subsequently cloven asunder.4 Modern scientists have different theories about the origin of the universe. Neither is the present writer competent to speak on the subject, nor is the present work a suitable place for a discussion on it. Speaking in general as a layman, however, two statements may safely be made in this connection. First, the various modern theories about the origin of the universe seem only to approximate the position stated so clearly in the Qur’an. Second, these Qur’anic statements go inconceivably beyond the notion about the sky prevalent in sixth-seventh century world. 
The passages speaking about the nature and contents of the sky are more numerous. The most striking point in these passages is the plural form, al-samawat, which occurs some 190 times in the Qur’an, while in its singular form, al-sama’, it comes some 120 times. More interestingly, at least at nine places the Qur’an 

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1 See Lisan al-‘Arab under samk and Tad al-‘Aril.r, VII, 145. 

2 Q. 52:5. 

3 Q. 21:32. 

4 See supra, p. 81. 

The text runs as: 

… L…At.a;;.;IZ; L:;lS’ … h’->1) ul)i……JI 011)_,£ .:.r..i.ll _, r-1} 
84 TIIE QUR’AN AND TIIE ORIENTALISTS 
specifically mentions that there are “seven skies”,1 one adjoining and corresponding to the other, tibaqa (lil.,b) or in layers.2 It is now a generally accepted view with the scientists that the universe consists of several staggeringly expansive spaces, some enumerating exactly seven, each corresponding to and adjoining the other and each with its own constellations and meteors! The “skies” or the “seven skies” spoken of in the Qur’an for about 200 times thus appear to assume a new significance and meaning in the light of this modern knowledge. For one thing, no person in the seventh century looking at the sky with bare eyes and imagining it to be something of a solid structure would venture to say so categorically and repeatedly that there are seven such structures, one above or beside the other. Nor was one in need of indulging in such unusual and, in the Prophet’s case, a definitely hazardous statement. In this respect too the Qur’an goes far beyond the seventh century notion about the sky.3 
Equally significant are the statements about how the skies and objects therein are held in their respective positions. It is very clearly mentioned that while “raising” the sky Allah also set the “balance”.4 It is also mentioned that the sky is not such a structure as is rested on visible pillars. 5 Most important of all, it is stated that the skies (al-samawat) and the earth are sustained by Allah’s will. The statement runs as follows: 
…. ·~if ..L>i if ~i 01 Wlj.) J ‘)Jj 0i ..j>}:liJ … :JIJL……JI ~ .J.ll 01 
“Verily Allah holds the heavens and the earth, lest they should cease to be there; and if they ceased to be there, there is none except He Who could hold them.” (35:41) 
The expression “holding” in respect of the “skies” as well as the earth is very significant. It means that neither is the earth rested on something “solid” nor are the skies so. In other words, the passage says that they are held in their respective positions without solid supports, that is in space, by Allah’s will and design 
A third and bewildering fact mentioned about the sky, as mentioned earlier,6 is that it is in the process of continuous expansion. Modern scientific knowledge is surprisingly in line with this statement of the Qur’an. It may further be noted in this connection that the Qur’an also describes the seven skies as “seven ways” or tracks. Thus 23:17 states 

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1 Q. 2:29; 17:44; 23:17; 23:86; 41:12; 65:12; 67:3; 71:15 and 78:12. 
2 Q. 67:3 and 71:15. The term tibaqa, though often translated as “one above the other), more correctly means “in layers” or “corresponding to one another”. See Lane’s Lexicon. 
3 Watt quickly passes over this fact by saying: “There is also mention of seven heavens.”(Muhammad’s Mecca,5.) 
4 Q. 55:7 = 01r.Jit”‘JJ4-JJ’L……JIJ 
5 Q. 13:2 and 31:10.  
6 Supra, pp. 78-79. 

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THE ALLEGED CONTEMPORARY ERRORS IN THE QUR’AN 85
.:Ji!S-._;.l>JI ,y L:S’ L.. J ~I)> t;-” ~} \.a6:. …lA.l J 
“And We have created above you seven ways, and We are not unmindful of the creation.” (23:27) 

The full significance of such statements in the Qur’an may be understood only in the light of modern scientific knowledge about the movement of the heavenly bodies. 
Another significant fact about the skies mentioned in the Qur’an is that there are living beings in them, and not simply on this our planet, the earth. Thus 42:29 very distinctly states: 
…. ‘-!b .y l…+,j ~ L.. J J> J ~IJ ..:..IJL……JI Jb:. .v~.t_l~ .y J 
“And of His signs is the creation of the skies and the earth and what He has spread forth in both of them of living beings.” 
There are other passages too that give the same impression.1 Finally, of the seven skies, the nearest in relation to us is described in the Qur’an as al-sama’ al-duf!Jd or the “nether sky”. More significantly, it is very specifically stated that this the “nether sky” is decorated with stars (kawakib) and incandescent lights (masabih). Thus 41:12, after referring to Allah’s having created the seven skies and set in each sky its order (U. r! ~\…… J5′ J ..s} J) adds:~~ l,;J.ll ~L..-ll ~j J -“and We decorated the nether sky with incandescent lights.” 
The same thing is stated in 67:5, while 37:6 states: ~1_,501 ~..r. l,;J.ll ~L..-JI ~j L;l – 

“Verily We have decorated the nether sky with the stars ….. ” 
This feature is thus especial to the “nether sky” or the immediate sky. The reference here is obviously to the vast region of space in which the solar system and the neighbouring constellations exist. Modern scientific knowledge seems to be grappling with the nature and scope of the “nether sky” only. According to the present state of that knowledge, this “nether sky” is “roofed” by the “milky way” which contains at least one thousand billion stars, none of them being smaller than the sun! 
With regard to this “nether sky” the notion of space is conveyed by the fact that the heavenly bodies -the sun, the moon, the stars -are described as having been set “in” (fi) it and that they are made to move in certain well regulated ways and for specified terms. Thus 13:2 states: 
~~ J…. ~ i.f f'<>. J5′ _,..A)IJ ~~ .i”‘-” J –
“And He has subjected to order the sun and the moon; each runs (its course) for a term specified …. ” Similarly 36:38-40 states: 
t! …lA.ll 0 _,.,. _;J \5′ ~ \s. .,? J jl . .:.. • L; yti _,..A) I J ~I y. ;JI .1-..u; .!llj 4J _,A.:..-..l i,f _r-; ~I J 
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1 See for instance Q. 16:49; 17:55; 19:93; 21:19; 23:71; 24:41; 27:65; 28:18; 30:26. 

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86 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
0 ~ .;.ill .j j5’ ) J4-JI d.\….. J..ll ‘1) _r-<)1 .!l y.lj 0! 4J ~ ~I ‘1 
“The sun runs its course to a destination for it; that is the ordaining of the Almighty, the All-Knowing. And the moon We have set for it stations, till it reverts to the like of a withered palm-bough. It behoves not the sun to overtake the moon, neither does the night outstrip the day. And each swims in an orbit (space).” 
Whatever interpretation one may like to put on the terms mustaqarr and falak in the above passage, the sense of motion and movement on the one hand, and that of space on the other, are all too clear from the expressions yajrii, tajrf and yusbi~un 
That the term sama’ (sky) embraces the open space above (or around) us is clearly indicated by such passages as 16:79 and 30:48. The first passage states:
.. L…….JI y. J -.::.>l.f”‘–” _)..)1 Jl IJ.I-r-ll 
“Do they not look at the birds subjected to order in the midst of the sky? …. ” 
The second passage, 30:48, states: 
….. ~ J.,? .. L…….JI .j ~~G…. _r.a c’-<)1 j.. .1–slJI ….Ui 
“It is Allah Who sends the winds that raise the clouds. Thus He spreads them in the sky as He wills …. “‘ 
Coming to the group of passages that speak about the end, the most important thing to note is that the skies, along with the stars, the planets and all the other creation, will be brought to an end. 
“That day We shall roll up the sky like the rolling up of the scroll of writings. As We began the first creation, We shall repeat it … “2 
That day the sky will “disintegrate with clouds;3 it will come up with “visible smoke”;4 it “will be in a state of commotion”;5 it “will be rent asunder and turn red like paint”;6 it “will be like molten brass”;7the stars will be displaced and scattered8 and the sun and the moon will be joined together.9 Finally, a new world and new skies will be ushered in, as the Qur’an states:
…. d)L…….ll ) ,_;. }11 ~ ,_;. }11 J..y i Y-
“That day the earth will be exchanged for another earth, and the skies too.” (14:48) 

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1 The Qur’an sometimes also figuratively employs the term .ramd’ for rain. Such passages are not, however, relevant to the present discussion. 2 Q. 21:104 = … ‘”””” c;J.>. J} d.4 W”” ~ j-.JI .}£ ,L….JI ..s_,k t y. 

3 Q. 25:25 = ~? >S:.”)I.JI JJ J rw.l4 ,L….J, ~ r _, J 

4 Q. 44:10 =””‘ 0~-4 ,L….JI <)(; tY. ..,..Z;li 

5 Q. 52:9 = ‘;y ,L….J, ;_,..; r _, 

6 Q. 55:37 = 01.A..UilS” ;, J) .,:..;15:; ,L….JI .,;….i..!.;l bli 

7 Q. 70:8 = J+..lllS” ,L….JI0~ tY. 

8 Q. 82:1-2 = .:.>pi ..,.s”I}:Jibl J 

9 Q. 75:9 = .r.iJIJ ..,…..WI~ 

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THE AllEGED CONTEMPORARY ERRORS IN THE QUR’AN 87 
Thus will be the end of the present state of the world and the universe and the beginning of a new life and a new world -the hereafter. 
The process thus described belongs to the future, and Allah Alone knows when and how these will be effected. So far as modern science is concerned, it only speculates that the world may come to an end as a result of some serious disturbance and dislocation in the solar and planetary systems. It is thus not in disharmony with the Qur’anic statements noted above. 
The expressions “folding up”, “rent asunder” and the like used in connection with the end of the skies may give an impression that these are objects susceptible of being “broken up”. Like the terms “edifice” (bina) and “roof’ (saqf), these expressions also may be interpreted without assuming the skies to be “solid” objects, particularly as the process described includes the stars, the planets and other heavenly bodies. Similarly, the existence of living beings in the skies does not mean that these latter should be solid objects; for, just as the earth is set in the sky (space), so there are other earths in the skies. The Qur’an very clearly states at 65:12:
… ~ J> J ’11 .:r J ..:.>IJL…… C::’ Jl>-L>.i.JI .u.Ji -“Allah is He Who created the seven skies, and of the earth the like of them.” (65:12) 
Also, it should be noted that the other living beings may have other types of physique and constitution; so their places of habitation may be different in nature than that of ours. Again, since even human beings become “weightless” at a certain distance in the space and may move about therein without the “support” of “solid” objects, it would be wrong to assume on the basis of the existence of living beings in the skies that these latter are therefore “solid” things. 
It should be clear from the above discussion that there are certain expressions in the Qur’an which, if approached with the primitive notion about the sky, would fit in with that notion, but they are very much appropriate to the modern concept of the sky and the universe. Above all, it should not be lost sight of that the present state of our knowledge is confined only to a part of what constitutes the “nether sky”, al-sama’ al-duniya. The region lying beyond this nearest sky with all its stars and planets, is simply beyond our knowledge. Even the scientists admit that what they have hitherto learnt about the extent and nature of the sky is only a microscopic particle in relation to what remains unknown of it. What lies beyond this known or supposedly known region is completely dark to us. In view of all these it would be simply presumptuous to assume that the Qur’anic statements about the sky are not in accord with modern scientific knowledge. At 
88 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS 
At any rate, Watt’s assumption that the Qur’anic view of the sky is primitive, reflecting the state of knowledge in the seventh century is wrong in three main respects. He picks up only a few statements in the Qur’an, approaches them with the “primitive” notion and puts a very narrow construction on them. Second, he ignores a large number of other statements in the Qur’an that are surprisingly in accord with modern scientific information about the sky and the significance of which may be fully appreciated with the further progress of our knowledge. Third, he seems to assume that the modern scientists have the last word about the sky and that nothing remains to be known about it, which is not at all the case; for the scientists themselves admit that they have not fathomed even a particle of the vast and bewildering creation, the sky.

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