Why I don’t convert to Islam

The Quran itself gives me plenty of reasons

Dear Muslim missionary and emailer,

During Islamic holy days and months I get a slight increase in emails from you that go something like this: "Come on, brother. During this holy time or month when we are conscious of God, accept Islam. You know it’s the truth."

Other fellow missionaries of yours send me links to news articles that report on Australians or Europeans (mostly from the UK) converting to Islam. One email linked to a story about a "lone Pentecostal African pastor" who converted. The message is clear. If they convert, then why not you? Or, if they do, Christianity is losing ground.

One emailer named "Jane" (a pseudonym) was surprised that I had not converted already. Why? I study the Quran carefully. Evidently, she believes that her holy book should convince me by itself.

I don’t want to hurt her or your feelings, but it is precisely because I study the Quran and hadith that I don’t convert. (The hadith are the traditions about Muhammad outside of the Quran.)

This long article explains why I don’t convert, by using primarily the Quran itself and secondarily the hadith. But before you begin reading the list, here are four things you should know.

First, if you believe that I have taken a verse out of context, then click on the supporting articles under each item. They will put the given verse in context. I generally work hard at treating the Quran with respect and with at least a little scholarship. Also, here are the introductions to each sura or chapter in the Quran by Sayyid Abul A’La Maududi (d. 1979), a highly respected traditional commentator. They will put the verses in historical and textual context.

Second, if you want to see the verses in other translations, then here are three sites. This one has multiple translations; this one has three; and this conservative translation is subsidized by the Saudi royal family. I sometimes use it here as Hilali and Khan, the two translators.

Third, it is likely that an optimistic and energetic Muslim missionary will send me an email trying to explain (away) this or that item in the list, hoping to persuade me. "Slavery in Islam was practiced because of such and such conditions in Arabia." I just finished an email with a Muslim who told me that sex with slave-girls was not allowed—even though the Quran says this clearly. Such an energetic missionary should no longer waste his or her time. I have spent many arduous hours studying the Quran, its cultural background, and historical Islam at its founding. I have not reached my conclusions lightly.

Fourth, I must answer a Muslim strategy. Sometimes one of your fellow Muslim missionaries, who, like you, believes that Islam is the best religion in the world and who wants it to spread around the globe, attempts to refute lists like this. But attempting to refute such a list is like reviewing a long, long book only from the last chapter. The reviewer has skipped over the hard work of reading all of the chapters. In the same way, such a Muslim polemicist must not skip over the hard work found in the back-up articles. This long list is only a summary of many articles. It comes from a lot of strenuous labor from myself and many other researchers. So he must refute them before he has earned the right to reply to a mere summary.

Here are the reasons why I don’t convert to Islam, which are not placed in any particular order.

(1) The Quran differs widely from the Bible on such persons as Adam, Noah, Lot, Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac, and Moses.

Even though the Quran depicts Moses as a baffled prophet in Sura (Chapter) 18:60-82, Abraham and Ishmael serve as examples of the Quran’s reshaping the Bible, often for the Quran’s own benefit. The following passage asserts that Abraham settled Ishmael in Arabia near Mecca so that he could lead the Arabs in prayer and denounce idol worship:

14:35 Remember when Abraham said, "Lord, make this town [Mecca] safe! Lord, preserve me and my offspring from idolatry . . . . (MAS Abdel Haleem, The Qur’an, Oxford UP, 2004)

And this verse claims that Abraham and Ishmael, while in Mecca, built and purified the Kabah, the sacred shrine that houses a black stone:

2:127 As Abraham and Ishmael built up the foundation of the House [Kabah] [they prayed, "Our Lord, accept [this] from us" . . . ]. (Haleem)

This next verse says that Abraham nearly sacrificed a son, though never mentioning Ishmael by name.

37:102 When the boy was old enough to work with his father, Abraham said, "My son, I have seen myself sacrificing you in a dream. What do you think?" He said, "Father, do as you are commanded and, God willing, you will find me steadfast." (Haleem)

Personally, I believe Abraham and the other patriarchs actually lived, but I must concede that no extra-Biblical evidence—e.g. archeological or textual—confirms their existence. Therefore, by extension, no reliable historical evidence can be advanced to support Abraham’s sojourn down to distant Mecca. Muhammad was simply relying on Arab folk belief or his own imagination and elevated it to his sacred Scripture.

Dear Muslim missionary, please understand that the Quran is a derivative book—it would have never known about any of the Bible characters if the Bible had never existed, except only vaguely by oral tradition. (And this influenced the Quran often enough.) Therefore, I evaluate the later, derivative book by the original written text as the gold standard, somewhat like the Treasury Department uses the original typeface of printed money and other technology to detect deviations from the original. The Quran deviates too widely from the original.

So this first reason alone is sufficient grounds for me not to convert to Islam. The Bible is more than good enough for me, in matters of faith and salvation and Bible characters.

This article goes into more detail on Abraham and Ishmael. This one has many Quranic verses on them, arguing that even the Quran suggests that the two traveled only about five miles from Jerusalem, not to Mecca. And this one cites Muslim sources that admit that the son who was almost sacrificed may have been Isaac, not Ishmael. This fine online booklet offers a user-friendly comparative study on Biblical characters as they appear in the Bible and in the Quran.

(2) The Quran denies the actual and physical crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Sura 4:157 says:

[A]nd [the Jews] said, "We have killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of God." (They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, though it was made to appear like that to him. Those that disagreed about him are full of doubt, with no knowledge to follow, only supposition: they certainly did not kill him . . .). (Haleem)

For me, this passage is one of the most difficult to accept in the Quran. Jesus was made to appear to have died on the cross. But even the most radical western critics of the Bible do not deny that he was crucified. They may doubt his divinity and miracles, and most may doubt his bodily resurrection, but not his bodily crucifixion.

So where does Muhammad get this farfetched belief? Denying Jesus’ actual death-by-crucifixion absorbs docetic teaching circulating around the larger Mediterranean world, which holds that the flesh, the physical body, is evil. (Docetism comes from the Greek word for "seems" or "appears.") Therefore, a spiritual Messiah like Jesus could not really die in the flesh, but would merely appear to do so. In his own peculiar way, Muhammad seems to be protecting Jesus from the Jews, by denying that they killed him.

Whatever Muhammad’s motives, denying the crucifixion is completely unacceptable to me as a Christian. It is Christ’s atonement or sacrifice on the cross that saves us and ushers us into heaven when we die. I no longer trust in my own good works, but in Christ’s Good Work on the cross—though I do good works after this transaction of faith and trust and salvation has taken place, but not to re-earn my way into heaven (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Dear Muslim missionary, his atoning death is the heart of Christianity as revealed in the New Testament. I do not give this up.

For more information on Gnosticism and other sources inspiring this belief about Jesus’ "non-crucifixion" in the Quran, see this chapter, and scroll down to "Denial of the Crucifixion of Jesus." This article examines the fine nuances of Sura 4:157. And this one looks at the non-canonical testimony on the crucifixion, establishing external support for the event. This article is a clever analysis of the fallout of this denial.

(3) The Quran grants "special" marriage privileges only to Muhammad.

It seems that Allah gave Muhammad special permission to marry as many women as he desired or to take them as slaves or concubines, just as in the pre-Islamic days of "ignorance." Average Muslims may marry only four wives (see point no. 4), but Muhammad is allowed to have as many as he wanted. Sura 33:50, a lengthy verse, grants Muhammad wide latitude in his marriages:

O Prophet, We have made lawful to you those of your wives, whose dowers you have paid, and those women who come into your possession out of the slave-girls granted by Allah, and the daughters of your paternal uncles and aunts, and of your maternal uncles and aunts, who have migrated with you, and the believing woman who gives herself to the Prophet, if the Prophet may desire her. This privilege is for you only, not for the other believers . . . . (Sayyid Abul A’La Maududi, The Meaning of the Qur’an (six volumes), vol. 4, p. 111, emphasis added).

So Allah gives his favorite prophet slave-girls and any woman who gives herself to him, provided, of course, that he desires her. This hadith says that Muhammad used to visit nine (or eleven) wives in one night.

Anas bin Malik said, "The Prophet used to visit all his wives in a round, during the day and night and they were eleven in number." I asked Anas, "Had the Prophet the strength for it?" Anas replied, "We used to say that the Prophet was given the strength of thirty (men)." And Sa'id said on the authority of Qatada that Anas had told him about nine wives only (not eleven). (Bukhari. See the parallel hadiths here, here, and here.

Dear Muslim emailer, I know that your prophet could do no wrong in your eyes, but to an outsider like me this "revelation" that permits him to have as many wives as he desires looks suspicious.

This article examines Muhammad’s special privileges. This one has a list of his wives, and this one has even a longer list.

(4) The Quran allows a Muslim to be polygamous with up to four wives.

Sura 4:3 says:

And if you be apprehensive that you will not be able to do justice to the orphans, you may marry two or three or four women whom you choose. But if you apprehend that you might not be able to do justice to them, then marry only one wife, or marry those who have fallen in your possession. (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 305)

Maududi paraphrases the verse: "If you need more than one [wife] but are afraid that you might not be able to do justice to your wives from among the free people, you may turn to slave girls because in that case you will be burdened with less responsibilities" (note 6) (See Sura 4:24). Thus, the limit on four wives is artificial. Men could have sex with as many slave-girls as they wanted (see no. 11, below).

However, Muhammad would not allow polygamy for his son-in-law Ali, because an extra wife would hurt Muhammad’s daughter Fatima, by his first wife Khadija. Fatima was married to Ali.

I heard Allah’s Apostle who was on the pulpit, saying, "Banu Hisham bin Al-Mughira have requested me to allow them to marry their daughter to Ali bin Abu Talib, but I don’t give permission, and will not give permission unless Ali bin Abi Talib divorces my daughter in order to marry their daughter, because Fatima is a part of my body, and I hate what she hates to see, and what hurts her, hurts me." (Bukhari)

Muhammad understands how hurtful polygamy can be for women, but he himself practiced it and allowed it for male Muslims, generally.

This article explains why Christians do not accept polygamy. This entry in an online index explains polygamy. For a more thorough analysis of polygamy in the Quran, go to this online booklet and click on Chapter 12. See this article on the number of wives and human sexual property Muhammad allowed himself. Here is my own article.

(5) The Quran grants Muhammad twenty percent from raids, wars, and conquests.

Sura 8:1 shows some people complaining about how Muhammad distributed the wealth taken from his aggressive Battle of Badr in AD 624 against the Meccans. He gets a revelation that tells them who the boss is:

They ask you [Prophet] about [distributing] the battle gains. Say, "That is a matter for God and his Messenger, so be conscious of God and make things right between you. Obey God and His Messenger if you are true believers" . . . (Haleem)

Then he gets a revelation that says that he gets to keep twenty percent, to distribute as he sees fit. Sura 8:41 says:

Know that one-fifth of your battle gains belong to God and His Messenger, to close relatives and orphans, to the needy and travelers, if you believe in God and the revelation We sent down to Our servant . . .

It is true that Muhammad distributes some of his twenty percent to the poor and needy—he is trying to maintain a community of Muslims, after all. But sometimes he gives the conquered spoils to the not-so-poor-and-needy, in order to "win over a people that they may become Muslims" . . . (Ibn Ishaq, Life of Muhammad, trans. A. Guillaume, Oxford UP, 1955, p. 596).

A reliable hadith absolutely supports Ibn Ishaq’s narrative or tradition:

. . . [W]hen the Messenger of Allah . . . conquered Hunain he distributed the booty, and he bestowed upon those whose hearts it was intended to win. (Muslim no. 2313)

That is, after the Battle of Hunain, which took place shortly after he conquered Mecca (early AD 630), he uses "the good things of this life" (Ibn Ishaq) to soften hearts for Islam, in order to convert not the poor and needy, but the elite, or to keep them in Islam.

The Prophet said, "I give to Quraish [large tribe in and around Mecca] people in order to let them adhere to Islam, for they are near to their life of Ignorance (i.e. they have newly embraced Islam and it is still not strong in their hearts." (Bukhari and read the ones above and below this link)

The Quran in Sura 9:60 provides the strongest evidence of this dubious use of money:

Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer the (funds); for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to Truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of God; and for the wayfarer: (thus is it) ordained by God, and God is full of knowledge and wisdom. (Yusuf Ali; insertions are his)

Though this verse speaks of charity and not the spoils of war, it still reveals the manipulation of buying off people to convert them or to keep them converted.

Dear Muslim polemicists, this appears manipulative, to me, even though Sura 9:60 says it was "ordained by God." I realize that you believe that your prophet is justified in everything he does, but your explanations are not convincing. My Lord Jesus never used money or spoils of war to keep people converted, so I don’t believe that God ordained this manipulative "revelation" and practice.

This article explains the spread of Islam in five reasons, such as the thirst for material gain (scroll down past the timeline of the Islamic Crusades.) This article offers four reasons for the spread of Islam. This commentary by Ibn Kathir, a classical commentator, explains Sura 9:60 more thoroughly. Finally, Samuel Zwemer's The Use of Alms to Win Converts presents a detailed overview and discussion regarding this issue.

(6) The Quran permits husbands to hit their wives even if the husbands merely fear highhandedness in their wives, quite apart from whether they actually are highhanded—as if domestic violence in any form is acceptable.

Sura 4:34 says:

. . . If you fear highhandedness from your wives, remind them [of the teaching of God], then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them. If they obey you, you have no right to act against them. God is most high and great. (Haleem, emphasis added)

This hadith says that Muslim women in the time of Muhammad were suffering from domestic violence:

Aisha said that the lady (came), wearing a green veil (and complained to her (Aisha) of her husband and showed her a green spot on her skin caused by beating). It was the habit of ladies to support each other, so when Allah’s Apostle came, Aisha said, "I have not seen any woman suffering as much as the believing women. Look! Her skin is greener than her clothes!" (Bukhari, emphasis added)

This hadith shows Muhammad hitting his girl-bride, Aisha, daughter of Abu Bakr, his right-hand Companion:

"He [Muhammad] struck me [Aisha] on the chest which caused me pain." (Muslim no. 2127)

Dear Muslim emailer, Quran-inspired domestic violence is completely unacceptable to me, and the many links below refute any attempt at whitewashing the darkness of this verse. For me, this is reason enough not to convert to Allah’s religion.

See this article for fuller details on wife-beating. It clarifies many translations of the verse. This article is the shorter version. This article, though long, offers a clear analysis of wife-beating, examining the hadith and other early source documents, as well as refuting modern Muslim polemics. This mid-length article answers a Muslim defense. This article is a superb analysis of the subject, giving various translations of Sura 4:34. It cites the hadith and classical commentaries and refutes modern defenses. Finally, this article is thorough in examining the Quran and hadith and Muslim polemics.

(7) The Quran says that Muhammad had little or no authority over some evil jinn (genii) who came into his presence. Also, meteors kill jinn.

Some of the jinn listened to Muhammad’s recitation of his holy book. In Sura 72:13-15, the jinn speak in this passage, and some receive the truth (the Quran), whereas others refuse:

"… As soon as we heard the message of guidance [the Quran], we believed in it. Now whoever believes in his Lord will have neither fear of loss nor of injustice." And that: "Some of us are Muslims (submissive to Allah) and some deviators from the Truth. Those who have adopted Islam (the way of submission) have found the way to salvation, and those who have deviated from the Truth will become fuel for Hell." (Maududi, vol. 6, p. 91)

In Sura 72:8-9 the jinn say that shooting stars lie in wait for them, if they try to eavesdrop:

"We searched the heavens and found it filled with guards and shooting stars . . . Before this we used to find a seat in heaven for eavesdropping, but now if someone tries to eavesdrop, he finds a shooting star lying in ambush for him" (Maududi, vol. 6, pp. 87-88)

These passages reflect pre-Islamic myths and beliefs that jinn can listen in on human conversations. But Muhammad manipulates the Meccan polytheists’ belief to his own advantage. If jinn have become Muslims, then what about stubborn Meccan humans becoming Muslims, too?

To postulate the existence of spirit beings like demons is one thing (the New Testament does this), but these Quranic passages take things well beyond the Bible and lurch over into manipulation and fantasy, at least to me they do.

This index entry explains the jinn more fully. This lecture by a scholar of a previous generation is useful.

(8) The Quran allows mature men to marry and have sex with prepubescent girls.

Dear Muslim missionary, this Quranic permission may be one of the strongest reasons why I do not convert. The true God would not allow this. I have read the "explanations" of Muslim polemicists, but they do not convince me. Muhammad’s example speaks louder than their arguments, and he had sex with a nine-year-old girl.

Sura 65:1 and 4 says:

1 O Prophet, when you (and the believers) divorce women, divorce them for their prescribed waiting-period and count the waiting-period accurately . . . 4 And if you are in doubt about those of your women who have despaired of menstruation, (you should know that) their waiting period is three months, and the same applies to those who have not menstruated as yet. As for pregnant women, their period ends when they have delivered their burden. (Maududi, vol. 5, pp. 599 and 617, emphasis added)

This hadith says that Aisha was only six when she was betrothed:

. . . [T]hen he [Muhammad] wrote the marriage (wedding) contract with Aishah when she was a girl of six years of age, and he consumed [sic, consummated] that marriage when she was nine years old. (Bukhari; see the parallel hadith here, here, here, and also look at no. 3311)

This hadith demonstrates that Muhammad pursued Aisha when she was a little girl. Abu Bakr is Aisha’s father, and he resists giving her to the prophet, until a little pressure is applied.

The Prophet asked Abu Bakr for ‘Aisha’s hand in marriage. Abu Bakr said "But I am your brother." The Prophet said, "You are my brother in Allah's religion and His Book, but she (Aisha) is lawful for me to marry." (Bukhari)

This hadith recounts the fifty-plus-year-old Muhammad’s and the nine-year-old Aisha’s first sexual encounter. She was playing on her swing set with her girlfriends when she got the call.

. . . [M]y mother, Um Ruman, came to me while I was playing in a swing with some of my girl friends. She called me, and I went to her, not knowing what she wanted to do to me. She caught me by the hand and made me stand at the door of the house. I was breathless then, and when my breathing became all right, she took some water and rubbed my face and head with it. Then she took me into the house. There in the house I saw some Ansari women who said, "Best wishes and Allah's Blessing and a good luck." Then she entrusted me to them and they prepared me (for the marriage). Unexpectedly Allah's Apostle came to me in the forenoon and my mother handed me over to him, and at that time I was a girl of nine years of age. (Bukhari; see a parallel hadith here)

This hadith describes Muhammad counseling a mature Muslim man to marry a young virgin for the extra thrill it gives him to fondle her, and she him.

When I got married, Allah’s Apostle said to me, "What type of lady have you married?" I replied, "I have married a matron." He said, "Why, don’t you have a liking for the virgins and for fondling them?" Jabir also said: Allah’s Apostle said, "Why didn’t you marry a young girl so that you might play with her and she with you?" (Bukhari; see parallel hadith here and here.)

This is a short article on the subject of marrying prepubescent girls. The article has links to Iran’s deceased Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, who reduced the marriage age of girls to nine years. This long article is filled with references to early Islamic sources and modern opinions. This one is also filled with references in the hadith and modern scholars. It even refers to modern physiology and psychology to show the damage done to girls. Finally, this one discusses marriage age in the Bible.

(9) The Quran orders the mutilation of male and female thieves.

Sura 5:38 says:

5:38 Cut off the hands of thieves, whether they are male or female, as punishment for what they have done—a deterrent from God: God is almighty and wise. 39 But if anyone repents after his wrongdoing and makes amends, God will accept his repentance: God is most forgiving and merciful. (Haleem)

This hadith says that the repentance of a thief is accepted after the hand is cut off.

Narrated 'Aisha:

The Prophet cut off the hand of a lady, and that lady used to come to me, and I used to convey her message to the Prophet and she repented, and her repentance was sincere. (Bukhari)

And this hadith just below the linked one to Bukhari says the same—after the penalty:

Abu Abdullah said: "If a thief repents after his hand has been cut off, then his witness will be accepted. Similarly, if any person upon whom any legal punishment has been inflicted, repents, his witness will be accepted."

Go here in Bukhari, and then scroll down to find out the minimal value of a stolen item before the penalty is imposed.

Muhammad says that in the days of old, justice favored the rich. But he now imposes this penalty on them, even if the thief were his own daughter Fatima. So no one should intercede on behalf of any thief to prevent the penalty. It shall be imposed.

Do you intercede regarding one of the punishments prescribed by Allah? He then stood up and addressed (people) saying: O people, those who have gone before you were destroyed, because if any one of high rank committed theft amongst them, they spared him; and it anyone of low rank committed theft, they inflicted the prescribed punishment upon him. By Allah, if Fatima, daughter of Muhammad, were to steal, I would have her hand cut off. (Muslim no. 4188)

See a shorter parallel hadith in Bukhari.

Here is the back-up article.

(10) The Quran endorses slavery, and Muhammad himself traded in slaves.

Sura 47:4 says:

So, when you meet (in fight—Jihad in Allah’s cause) those who disbelieve, smite (their)necks till when you have killed or wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly (on them, i.e. take them as captives). Thereafter (is the time) either for generosity (i.e. free them without ransom), or ransom (according to what benefits Islam), until war lays down its burden . . . . (Hilali and Khan, The Noble Qur’an, Riyadh: Darussalam, 2002; all insertions are theirs)

These two conservative translators accurately catch the essence and spirit of early historical Islam in battle and in taking prisoners of war. The Muslim victor has two options for prisoners: free release or ransom—according to what benefits Islam, add Hilali and Khan. The third option in other passages is for the raider to keep prisoners for himself, especially women with whom he may have sex (see point no. 11).

Sura 4:24 says:

And forbidden to you are wedded wives of other people except those who have fallen in your hands (as prisoners of war) . . . (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 319).

The following hadith shows a sad snapshot of abuse in original Islam. The passage matter-of-factly talks about disrobing a recently captured female prisoner of a Muslim raid. Salamah the Muslim raider was "fascinated" by her. But Muhammad wants her for himself. Why?

So we [Salamah and his captured girl] arrived in Medina. I had not yet disrobed her when the Messenger of Allah . . . met me in the street and said: Give me that girl, O Salamah. I said: Messenger of Allah, she has fascinated me. I had not yet disrobed her. When on the next day, the Messenger of Allah . . . again met me in the street, he said: O Salama, give me that girl, may God bless your father. I said: she is for you, Messenger of Allah . . . By Allah, I have not yet disrobed her. The Messenger of Allah . . . sent her to the people of Mecca, and surrendered her as ransom for a number of Muslims who had been kept as prisoners in Mecca. (Muslim no. 4345)

Dear Muslim missionary, though Muhammad also manumitted some slaves, he did not in this case. He did not give her family the option of ransoming her. He did not give her back freely, as an example for the world to stop the slave trade. "I hereby give the girl back as an example that all Arabs must stop this trade! I do this especially as an example to the new community of Muslims I’m founding!" Instead, he is depicted here as ravenously wanting the hapless girl. "Give me that girl!" And he trades her for some Muslims who had been kept as prisoners in Mecca, which was not involved in the raid or in her life. So trade or exchange is a fourth option for a slave-owner, even if this means selling a slave far away from her family.

Dear missionary, your prophet was a slave trader. How does this establish exemplary justice for humanity?

Early Islam—the one that Muhammad founded—trafficked in slavery and allowed sex with women prisoners of war, in their most helpless condition, as this next point demonstrates. This longer article cites the Quran, many hadiths, and scholars.

(11) The Quran says that slave-girls are sexual property for their male owners.

Sura 4:24 says:

And forbidden to you are wedded wives of other people except those who have fallen in your hands (as prisoners of war) . . . (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 319).

See also Suras 4:3; 23:5-6; 33:50; 70:22-30, all of which permit male slave-owners to have sex with their slave-girls. Suras 23:5-6 and 70:22-230 allow men to have sex with them in the Meccan period, during times of peace before Muhammad initiated his skirmishes and wars in Medina.

As for the hadith, Ali, Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, just finished a relaxing bath. Why? (Khumus is one-fifth of the spoils of war.)

The Prophet sent Ali to Khalid to bring the Khumus (of the booty) and . . . Ali had taken a bath (after a sexual act with a slave-girl from the Khumus).

What was Muhammad’s response to the person who hated Ali for this sexual act?

Do you hate Ali for this? . . . Don’t hate him, for he deserves more than that from [the] Khumus. (Bukhari)

This hadith shows that Muhammad was intimate with his slave-girls.

Moreover, Muhammad prohibited jihadists from practicing coitus interruptus with the women they capture, but not for the reason that the reader may expect. The jihadists asked the prophet about this, and it is important to note what he did not say. He did not scold them or prohibit any sex whatsoever. Rather, he invokes the murky, quirky doctrine of fate:

It is better for you not to do so [practice coitus interruptus]. There is no person that is destined to exist, but will come to existence, till the Day of Resurrection. (Bukhari; also go here and here.)

That is, these enquiring Muslims should stop doing coitus interruptus, but instead go all the way with the enslaved sex objects. Fate controls who should be born. (See no. 4, above.)

Dear Muslim missionary, this is another of the strongest reasons why I do not convert to Islam. I have read the explanations of your apologists (see the links immediately below), but they do not overcome this problem. So why should I convert to a religion that allows sex like this?

This article quotes the Quran and many hadith passages on sex with prisoners of war. It also analyzes modern Islamic scholars on the topic. They support this practice. In Appendix One, the author answers a Muslim charge that the Old Testament allows the practice. This article provides further details on Muhammad’s encouragement to his soldiers to "do it." For more information on this, see this short article. Besides the two previous links, here is the back-up article, as well as this one

(12) The Quran orders torture (crucifixion) and mutilation.

Sura 5:33 says:

5:33 Those who wage war against God and His Messenger and strive to spread corruption in the land should be punished by death, crucifixion, the amputation of an alternate hand and foot or banishment from the land: a disgrace for them in this world, and then a terrible punishment in the Hereafter, 34 unless they repent before you overpower them: in that case bear in mind that God is forgiving and merciful. (Haleem)

These hadiths say that Muhammad tortured some tribesmen before he executed them. This scenario provides the historical context of Sura 5:33-34. The explanations in parentheses have been added by the translator:

Narrated Anas: Some people . . . came to the Prophet and embraced Islam . . . [T]hey turned renegades (reverted from Islam) and killed the shepherd of the camels and took the camels away . . . The Prophet ordered that their hands and legs should be cut off and their eyes should be branded with heated pieces of iron, and that their cut hands and legs should not be cauterized, till they died. (Bukhari; here are parallel hadiths: 8.794 and read the passages below this linked one; Muslim nos. 4131-4137; Sunan Abu Dawud nos. 4351-4359; online source)

This hadith shows Allah reprimanding Muhammad for his cruelty.

When the Apostle of Allah . . . cut off (the hands and feet of) those who had stolen his camels and he had their eyes put out by fire (heated nails), Allah reprimanded him on that (action), and Allah, the Exalted, revealed: "The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Apostle and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is execution or crucifixion." (Abu Dawud, no. 4357)

The problem with this reprimand is that it makes Sura 5:33 appear as if it were a vast improvement on the prophet’s ungodly actions. Though the verse may improve on them a little, it still legalizes torture by crucifixion and mutilation. Both methods of punishing criminals are excessive and therefore unjust.

Here is a back-up article. It answers Muslim defenses. This shorter article examines the topic, linking to more hadiths. This shorter article cites more hadiths and replies to Muslim defenses of this atrocity, and so does this one.

(13) The Quran orders sexual sinners to be whipped.

Sura 24:2:

The fornicatress and the fornicator, flog each of them with a hundred stripes. Let not pity withhold you in their case, in a punishment prescribed by Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of the believers witness their punishment. [This punishment is for unmarried persons guilty of the above crime (illegal sex), but if married persons commit it (illegal sex), the punishment is to stone them to death, according to Allah’s law]. (Hilali and Khan; the additions in parentheses and brackets are theirs).

The hadith commands that adulterers should be stoned to death.

Then the Prophet said, 'Take him away and stone him to death." Jabir bin 'Abdullah said: I was among the ones who participated in stoning him and we stoned him at the Musalla. When the stones troubled him, he fled, but we overtook him at Al-Harra [rocky place near Medina] and stoned him to death. (Bukhari; insertion added)

This gruesome hadith passage reports that a woman was buried up to her chest and stoned to death, her blood spurting:

And when he had given command over her and she was put in a hole up to her breast, he ordered the people to stone her. Khalid b. al-Walid came forward with a stone which he threw at her head, and when the blood spurted on his face he cursed her . . . (Muslim no. 4206)

The hadith commands that homosexuals should be executed.

Ibn Abbas, Muhammad’s cousin and highly reliable transmitter of hadith, reports the following about early Islam and Muhammad’s punishment of homosexuals:

. . . If you find anyone doing as Lot’s people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done (Abu Dawud no. 4447 and see the hadith below this linked one.)

This hadith says that homosexuals should be burned alive or have a wall pushed on them:

Ibn Abbas and Abu Huraira reported God’s messenger as saying, "Accursed is he who does what Lot’s people did." In a version . . . on the authority of Ibn Abbas it says that Ali [Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law] had two people burned and that Abu Bakr [Muhammad’s chief companion] had a wall thrown down on them. (Mishkat, vol. 1, p. 765, Prescribed Punishments)

This article explains Sura 24:2 more thoroughly.

Here is the back-up article on Muhammad’s punishment of homosexuality.

Dear polemicists, sometimes you assert that the Old Testament commands these punishments, so who are Christians to complain? In reply, however, the New Testament teaches that Christ has fulfilled this older sacred text. Also, see this article which offers guidelines on how to interpret the Old Testament in light of the New. Why would I want to go backwards to a Quranic version of an Old Law?

(14) The Quran says that a woman’s testimony counts half of a man’s testimony because of her "forgetfulness."

Sura 2:282 says:

And let two men from among you bear witness to all such documents [contracts of loans without interest]. But if two men be not available, there should be one man and two women to bear witness so that if one of the women forgets (anything), the other may remind her. (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 205; insertion is brackets is mine).

This verse implies that a woman’s mind is weak, and this hadith removes any ambiguity about women’s abilities in the verse:

The Prophet said, "Isn’t the witness of a woman equal to half of that of a man?" The women said, "Yes." He said, "This is because of the deficiency of a woman’s mind." (Bukhari, emphasis added)

Here is the back-up article. So is this one. Both cite the hadiths that say there will be more women than men in Islamic hell, not because they make up a numerical majority on earth, but because of their (alleged) harshness and ingratitude.

(15) The Quran allows an injured plaintiff to exact legal revenge—physical eye for physical eye, literally.

Sura 5:45 says:

5:45 And We ordained therein for them: Life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth and wounds equal for equal. But if anyone remits the retaliation by way of charity, it shall be for him an expiation. And whosoever does not judge by that which Allah has revealed, such are the Zalimun (polytheists and wrongdoers . . .). (Hilali and Khan)

Though the verse promotes forgiveness or remitting retaliation, which is positive, the problem lies in literal retaliation.

This hadith says that Muhammad’s household gives him bitter medicine, which he did not want, so in retaliation he will watch them squirm as they are forced drink the same medicine.

Narrated 'Aisha:

We poured medicine into the mouth of the Prophet during his ailment. He said, "Don't pour medicine into my mouth." (We thought he said that) out of the aversion a patient usually has for medicines. When he improved and felt better he said, "There is none of you but will be forced to drink medicine, except Al-'Abbas, for he did not witness your deed." (Bukhari)

This hadith says that Muhammad stealthily tried to poke a Peeping Tom in the eye.

Narrated Anas:

A man peeped into one of the dwelling places of the Prophet. The Prophet got up and aimed a sharp-edged arrow head (or wooden stick) at him to poke him stealthily. (Bukhari; the second hadith just below this linked one declares that no one will be blamed if he pokes and injures the eye of a peeper. Though the Peeping Tom should be punished, here the punishment is more severe than the crime because a damaged eye cannot be replaced.

For a more thorough analysis and examples of literal eye-for-eye, see this article. This article summarizes unjust punishments in Islam.

(16) The Quran orders death for individual critics and opponents of Muhammad.

Sura 33:59-61 says:

59 Prophet, tell you wives, your daughters, and women believers to make their outer garments hang low over them so as to be recognized and not insulted [aa-dh-aa]: God is most forgiving, most merciful. 60 If the hypocrites, the sick of heart, and those who spread lies in the city {Medina] do not desist, We shall arouse you [Prophet] against them, and then they will only be your neighbors in this city for a short while. 61 They will be rejected wherever they are found, and then seized and killed. (Haleem)

Muhammad had already assassinated some opponents for their insults and mockery before these verses were sent down, but now they give him divine endorsement. The word "insulted" comes from the Arabic three-letter root aa-dh-aa that has the semantic range of hurt, suffer, damage, injure, abuse, or harm. "The word . . . signifies a slight evil . . . or anything causing a slight harm" (Abdul Mannan Omar, ed., Dictionary of the Holy Qur’an, Noor Foundation, 2003, p. 19).

These hadiths show Muhammad wishing revenge and death on a mocker from Mecca, whom Muhammad gets to execute after the Battle of Badr in AD 624: Bukhari; Muslim nos. 4421, 4422, and 4424.

Dear Muslim emailer, this rule of death for critics that exists even today in Islamic societies prevents critical thinking about your prophet. What would happen if these countries were permitted to question early Islam without fear? The list you’re reading should give you a hint.

Here are the back-up articles: This one contrasts Muhammad’s practice of assassination and extermination (see no. 17) with the way of Jesus, who trusted in God, not in ungodly methods; Muhammad’s Dead Poets Society (which has Quranic references); and Muhammad and the Jews. Both articles also reply to standard Muslim defenses.

(17) The Quran celebrates Muhammad’s slaughter and enslavement of a thriving Jewish tribe (Qurayza) and his confiscation of their property.

The Quran in Sura 33:25-27 says:

25 Allah turned back the unbelievers [Meccans and their allies] in a state of rage, having not won any good, and Allah spared the believers battle [q-t-l]. Allah is, indeed, Strong and Mighty. 26 And He brought those of the People of the Book [Qurayza] who supported them from their fortresses and cast terror into their hearts, some of them you slew [q-t-l] and some you took captive. 27 And he bequeathed to you their lands, their homes and their possessions, together with land you have never trodden. Allah has power over everything. (Fakhry)

The three-letter Arabic root q-t-l means killing, warring, fighting, or slaughtering. Polemicists understandably rush to defend this atrocity: (1) a pro-Jewish Muslim is the one who "adjudicated" this sentence, not Muhammad, so the prophet is off the hook. (2) The Jewish tribe broke a treaty of neutrality and fought with him. But these are easily answered. Muhammad could have called off the "trial" at any time, so he is not off the hook. And even if we assume that the tribe did break the treaty (and that is a big assumption, despite the hadith, since it has to make the prophet seem justified in everything), he had just witnessed Allah turning back a coalition of 10,000 Meccans and their allies (note verse 25). Some hadiths say that he was taking a bath after the battle. Evidently, Muhammad felt relaxed and not threatened, so how were the Jews strong enough to fight with him? Reputable historians say that they did not fight, but that the hadiths must make every effort to justify his atrocity by making the Jews appear extra-bad. Regardless, did the prophet for all of humanity have to exterminate the entire tribe? Could he not have expelled them or executed only the leaders?

Dear Muslim missionaries, I have read your explanations of this atrocity. They do not work. Muhammad’s actions here cannot reasonably and seriously be defended.

This hadith says that a pro-Jewish Muslim made the decision, not Muhammad (Bukhari; see a parallel hadith here)

Here is the back-up article which replies to Muslim polemics of this indefensible atrocity.

(18) The Quran orders warfare on Christians and Jews around the time of Muhammad’s first Crusade (long before the European ones).

Sura 9:29 says:

Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued (Hilali and Khan, insertions in parentheses are theirs)

This verse that commands battle against Christians is all about theology and belief. It says nothing explicit about a real and physical harm done to Islam. Muhammad launched his Tabuk Crusade in late AD 630 against the Byzantine Christians. He had heard a rumor that an army was mobilizing to invade Arabia, but the rumor was false, so his 30,000 jihadists returned home, but not before imposing a jizya tax on northern Christians and Jews. They had three options: (1) fight and die; (2) convert; (3) or submit and pay the second-class-citizen jizya tax for the "privilege" of living under Islam.

This hadith reveals Muhammad’s plan to expel Jews and Christians out of the Arabian Peninsula.

It has been narrated by 'Umar b. al-Khattib that he heard the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) say: I will expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and will not leave any but Muslim. (Muslim no. 4366)

Here is a back-up article: Timeline of the Islamic Crusades. And so is this one on the Muslim Crusades. This article contrasts the Old Testament’s limited wars with Islam’s wars of world conquest, and so does this one. This final one replies to Muslim polemics on the topic.

(19) The Quran orders warfare and death for polytheists who refuse to convert.

Sura 9:5 says:

Then, when the months made unlawful for fighting expire, kill the mushriks [polytheists] wherever you find them, and seize them, and besiege them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they repent, establish Salat [prayer five times a day] and pay the Zakat dues [charity tax], then let them go their way. (Maududi, vol. 2, p. 175; insertions mine)

This hadith leaves no doubt about Muhammad’s mission in Arabia and his known world:

Narrated Ibn 'Umar:

Allah's Apostle said: "I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform a that, then they save their lives an property from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah." (Bukhari; see a parallel hadith here.)

This article, Timeline of the Islamic Crusades, gives some reasons for Muslim armies storming out of the Arabian Peninsula. And this one tackles the subject from a slightly different angle. This article contrasts the Old Testament’s limited wars with Islam’s wars of world conquest, and so does this one. And this one replies to Muslim polemics on the topic.

Dear Muslim emailer, this action by your prophet is intolerant, six hundred years after Jesus came and showed us acceptance of sinners. If people did not want to convert, then my Lord did not wage war on them.

(20) The Quran testifies against its own reliability and incorruptibility.

This holy book does this in at least three ways.

(1) Someone changed some "Satanic verses" to polemical verses. Living in Mecca, Muhammad was discouraged because many in his tribe did not believe his message. He was heavily burdened for them and desired (note the key word) their acceptance of his monotheism.

Tabari the historian and commentator (d. 923) records the verses from Sura 53, which encourages the Meccans to receive intercession from their three main goddesses. He writes:

And when he [Muhammad] came to the words:

Have you thought upon al-Lat and al-Uzza and Manat, the third, the other? [Sura 53:19-20]

Satan cast on his tongue, because of his inner debates and what he desired to bring upon his people, the words:

These are the high-flying cranes, verily their intercession is accepted with approval. (Tabari, ibid.)

This (no longer existing) verse says that appealing to these three deities for intercession is approved by Allah, the high god. This last verse is not found in the Quran today (Arberry’s translation, Sura 53, note 7), but it was replaced with a polemical verse:

Are you [polytheists] to have the male and He [Allah] the female? [53:21]

Here the interpolator argues that human polytheists prefer the male child, whereas they consign to Allah female children. The interpolator uses the beliefs of the polytheists against them because they worshipped the daughters of the higher god. Why should only humans get sons? In seventh-century Arab culture, this was unfair to the deity.

Dear Muslim emailer who wants me to convert, though your fellow Muslim polemicists explain away this story based on the "unreliability" of the sources, the truth of this incident, for me, cannot be doubted for the reason that prominent Islamologist W. M. Watt, who often defends Muhammad, offers:

The truth of the story cannot be doubted, since it is inconceivable that any Muslim would invent such a story, and it is inconceivable that a Muslim scholar would accept such a story from a non-Muslim. (Tabari, Muhammad at Mecca, trans. Watt and M. V. McDonald, Introduction, vol. 6, p. xxxiv)

(2) The Quran asserts that Satan cast words into every prophet while under inspiration. Allah is speaking and uses "We" in Sura 22:52:

We have never sent any messenger or prophet before you [Muhammad] into whose wishes Satan did not insinuate something, but removes what Satan insinuates and then God affirms His message . . . (Haleem)

Haleem uses the word "removes" instead of "abrogates" or "cancels," but this does not help matters. Allah still has to change and correct his revelations. Remember, the Quran was revealed over a short period of time. So what is it about these revelations that Allah has to remove so quickly? The historian Tabari connects this verse to the Satanic verses. Muhammad "wished" for the Meccans to convert, so he spoke the wrong verses in Sura 53. They were changed to 53:21 that is found in the Quran of today.

Further, what about Muhammad’s insinuation that all prophets were influenced (at least once) by Satan while they spoke or wrote their revelations? Though I cannot speak for every religious tradition in the world that claims prophets, it is impossible to find these egregious falsehoods in great Biblical prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel while they were speaking under divine guidance. Though the last three prophets are not sinless (no human is), they do not speak out of inspiration from Satan while prophesying by the Spirit of God—not even once. If they did, they would be false prophets, and there were plenty of them walking around ancient Israel.

Allah through the Quran says that every prophet was inspired by Satan. Was Muhammad the prophet who channeled the Quran? This Satanic inspiration calls into doubt other revelations in the Quran, especially when he reveals the "truth" about Biblical characters that differs so widely from the Bible, the true source (see no. 1 at the top of this entire list).

(3) The Quran itself speaks of Allah abrogating verses in the Quran, sometimes in the same sura or chapter and often in a short time.

Sura 2:106 says:

Whatever Verse (revelation) do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring a better one or similar to it . . . (Hilali and Khan)

In the next passage Muhammad has to defend himself against accusations of forgery and lying. His defense does not say that Allah never changes a verse, but that the deity can do what he likes.

Sura 16:101 says:

And when We change a Verse (in the Quran) in place of another—and Allah knows best what He sends down—they (the disbelievers) say: "You (O Muhammad) are but a Maftari! (forger or liar)" Nay, but most of them know not. (Hilali and Khan; insertions are theirs)

Dear Muslim missionary, personally, I’m willing to give a sacred book some room for development, but these Quranic verses and traditions about Satanic verses (Sura 53:19-21), Satan’s influence (Sura 22:52), and Allah’s abrogations (Suras 2:106 and 16:101) are strange and excessively confusing, to me at least. These back-up articles explain this more fully.

Which verses have been abrogated? Here is a partial list compiled from the hadith. This brief article explains the differences between the Bible’s promise and fulfillment and the Quran’s abrogation. This longer article also explains the differences. This article explains how Christ fulfills the Old Testament. See this page and look for "Abrogation in the Quran."

For more articles on the Quran’s self-corruption, please see this page and click on any of the articles. Even the hadith says that the Quran has missing suras and verses.

For more information on the Satanic verses and the larger implications, see this article.

Though discussing Muhammad’s inconsistent view of poets, this article answers charges that non-hadith sources are unreliable (except when they make the prophet appear great).

(21) The Quran shows Muhammad nervously taking refuge in Allah from dark powers and magic.

In light of this Satanic inspiration in reason no. 20, above, this aspect of Muhammad’s life is troubling.

Sura 113, a short one, revealed in Mecca, says in its entirety:

1 Say [Prophet], "I seek refuge with the Lord of daybreak 2 against the evil in what He has created, 3 the evil in the night when darkness gathers, 4 the evil in witches when they blow on knots, 5 the evil in the envier when he envies." (Haleem) (cf. Suras 7:200-201; 16:98; 41:36; and Sura 114, a short one, in its entirety)

The following hadith indicates that Muhammad believes that some sort of knots on the head is the result of Satan and witchcraft.

Allah's Apostle said, "Satan puts three knots at the back of the head of any of you if he is asleep. On every knot he reads and exhales the following words, 'The night is long, so stay asleep.' When one wakes up and remembers Allah, one knot is undone; and when one performs ablution, the second knot is undone, and when one prays the third knot is undone and one gets up energetic with a good heart in the morning; otherwise one gets up lazy and with a mischievous heart." (Bukhari; see a parallel hadith here)

This hadith demonstrates that Muhammad was so deeply influenced by magic that he believed that he was having sex with his wives, but in reality he was not.

Narrated Aisha:

Magic was worked on Allah's Apostle so that he used to think that he had sexual relations with his wives while he actually had not. (Bukhari, and read the hadith below this linked one.)

The highly respected conservative commentator, Sayyid Maududi, says that the hadiths on Muhammad’s bewitchment are sound. "As far as the historical aspect is concerned, the incident of the Holy Prophet's being affected by magic is absolutely confirmed" . . . (Maududi and scroll down to "Question of Holy Prophet being affected by magic")

Dear Muslim emailer, it seems to me that I cannot reasonably disagree with Maududi on his prophet. He is right. Muhammad was bewitched. And this is not part of true Prophethood.

This article contrasts Muhammad’s fears and bewitchment with Christ’s commanding authority over Satan and dark powers. This short article cites many hadiths and a modern commentator. This mid-length article analyzes Muhammad’s psychological instability. This article refutes some recent explanations or denials of Muhammad’s bewitchment. Finally, this index entry references several articles and rebuttals and replies.

(22) The Quran recycles events in young Mary’s life that really come from apocryphal gospels, even though Muhammad claims that he received this information only by revelation.

First, Sura 3:44 says this about Muhammad’s revelations concerning young Mary, describing men arguing over her:

This is an account of things beyond your knowledge that We [Allah] reveal to you [Muhammad]: you were not present among them when they cast lots to see which of them should take charge of Mary, you were not present when they argued [about her]. (Haleem; the first insertion in brackets is mine; the last two are Haleem’s)

The following passage from the apocryphal gospel says that divining rods were used to decide on the custody of young Mary. The passage describes some tumult among the candidates as well.

The apocryphal gospel says:

8.3 And the heralds went forth and spread out through all the surrounding country of Judaea; the trumpet of the Lord sounded and all [the widowers] ran to it. [The widowers give their rods to the high priest] 9.1 When he took the rods, and went out (again) [from the Temple] and gave them to them: but there was no sign on them . . . [Joseph got a divine sign of a dove]. And the priest said to Joseph: "Joseph, to you has fallen the good fortune to receive the virgin of the Lord; take her under your care. (New Testament Apocrypha, vol. 1, rev. ed. by W. Schneemelcher, trans. R. McL. Wilson, Westminster / John Knox, 1991, pp. 429-430)

In both accounts, divination or divine signs (rods or lots) are used to determine who should take care of young Mary. Also, it is not difficult to imagine in both the Quran and the pseudo-gospel that a small crowd of men gathered, wondering who would win guardianship and then marry her. Both versions say or imply that they "argued" over her. Muhammad simply changed some elements or received an altered version, as the story grew and evolved in the telling, from one century to the next. But the borrowing is unmistakable.

The second example is found in Sura 19 that is even named after Mary. According to verses 16-26, Mary traveled to the east and secluded herself. An angel came and promised her a son. She conceived miraculously, and during the pains of childbirth she cries out.

Sura 19:23-26 says:

23 . . . [A]nd, when the pain of childbirth drove her to cling to the trunk of the palm tree, she exclaimed, "I wish I had been long dead and forgotten before all this!" 24 but a voice cried to her from below, "Do not worry: your Lord has provided a stream at your feet 25 and, if you shake the trunk of the palm tree towards you, it will deliver fresh ripe dates for you, 26 so eat, drink, be glad . . . . (Haleem)

This story of miraculous deliverance through a palm tree from above and a stream of water from below comes from Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, or more fully, The Book About the Origin of the Blessed Mary and the Childhood of the Savior.

The apocryphal gospel says:

Then the child Jesus, who was sitting with a happy countenance in his mother’s lap, said to the palm: "Bend down your branches, O tree, and refresh my mother with your fruit." And immediately at this command [voice] the palm bent down to the feet of the blessed Mary, and they gathered from its fruit and they all refreshed themselves . . . [Addressing the palm, Jesus says:] "And open beneath your roots a vein of water . . . and let the waters flow" . . . And when they saw the fountain of water, they greatly rejoiced and quenched their thirst . . . (The New Testament Apocrypha, vol. 1, p. 463)

Though the small details differ, the broad outline of the pseudo-gospel and the Quran match up well. First, both share the same context: a nativity and infancy narrative—the beginning of the Messiah’s life. Second, the Quran has Mary traveling; in the pseudo-gospel Mary (and Joseph and Jesus) also travel. Third, the Quran says that Mary heard a voice or command; the pseudo-gospel adds that the voice or command belonged to baby Jesus. Fourth, the apocryphal gospel says that a palm tree provided food from above, and a stream of water provided refreshment from below; the Quran says the same. Finally, both books recount this fiction as a miracle, when Mary (and Joseph) needed it most. Clearly, Muhammad did not learn this fiction from a manuscript in front of him. He was not a scholar, after all. But some borrowing is undeniable—for objective readers and seekers.

Dear Muslim emailer, did Muhammad really get this information about Mary from revelations? The same question could be asked about his source of information concerning young Jesus. The answer to both: Muhammad got this information from apocryphal gospels, not revelations. So what does his claim in Sura 3:44 imply?

This article serves as the back up. And so does this chapter written by highly qualified Islamologist William St. Clair-Tisdall of an earlier generation, who knew Islam and Arabic thoroughly. He provides details that demonstrate that the ultimate source of this Quranic fiction is Buddhist (scroll down to "Story of the Virgin Mary"). By the seventh century, Buddhism had impacted Persia and other points farther west.

(23) The Quran confuses the doctrine of the Spirit.

Islam borrows the language and vocabulary of Christianity, but the historically later religion (Islam) alters them in small and big ways. This is true of the Quran’s pneumatology (doctrine of the Spirit). The references to the Spirit are far, far fewer than those in the New Testament. In fact, the references in the Quran, below, are complete (or nearly so).

The Spirit in the Quran has similar functions as those in the Bible, but the Quranic Spirit’s role is weaker and less defined. Specifically, the Quranic Spirit seems to be involved in creation (Suras 15:98; 32:7-9; 38:71-72). He helped Mary conceive Jesus (Suras 19:18-19; 21:91; 66:12). The Spirit appeared in the form of a man to Mary (Sura 19:18-19). He strengthened Jesus (Suras 2:87; 2:253; 5:110), and the believers (Sura 58:22). Jesus is called a "spirit from God" (Sura 4:171; cf. 2:253). He inspired and revealed the Quran (Sura 16:102; 17:85; 26:192-193; 97:4). Finally, he is a witness or participates in some way in the Last Day (Suras 70:4; 78:38), warning of impending judgment (Sura 40:15).

Thus, the Quran’s view of the Spirit overlaps somewhat with the Bible’s (creation, conception of Jesus, and inspiration), but in other ways the Quran is confused and deficient (Jesus is a spirit; the Spirit appears as a man; his helping believers is mentioned only once). But none of this confusion and deficiency matters, because traditional Islam erroneously reduces the Spirit to the archangel Gabriel. Why? A fully developed pneumatology wreaks havoc on a strict Unitarian doctrine of God.

Dear Muslim missionary, the Spirit lives in the Christian’s heart, and this is too precious to give up.

This long article (the readers may scroll down to "Who is the Spirit?") argues convincingly that the Spirit cannot be Gabriel without damaging other aspects of Islamic theology. This article briefly discusses the Spirit in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Quran (scroll down to "Holy Spirit"). This one replies to Muslim polemics.

(24) The Quran says that Muhammad is only a human and mortal messenger.

Sura 39:30 was received in Mecca, and Muhammad is verbally separating off the true believers from the untrue. When Judgment Day comes, each side will see the truth because death will reveal it, even his own death:

You [Prophet] will surely die, and so will they [disbelieving Meccan polytheists] (Haleem; the first insertion is his, the second mine.)

Sura 41:6 was received in Mecca and uses similar heated rhetoric against the Meccan polytheists. Allah tells his prophet to "say" these words to them:

Say [Prophet], "I am only a mortal like you" . . . (Haleem)

He goes on to say that God revealed to him that God is One. The implication is that the polytheists must change their religion and beliefs.

Sura 3:144 was revealed after the Battle of Uhud in AD 625, three years after Muhammad’s Hijrah or Emigration from Mecca to Medina. His army lost the battle in theory, but in practice he did not lose much materially, so he quickly recovered. But he asks his followers this question, predicated on his mortality.

Muhammad is only a messenger before whom many messengers have been and gone. If he died or were killed, would you revert to your old ways? (Haleem)

Muhammad dies of a fever in AD 632. "Narrated 'Aisha: The Prophet died while he was between my chest and chin" . . . (Bukhari)

(25) The Quran denies the divine and eternal Sonship of Jesus Christ.

One verse is sufficient as an example. Sura 9 is one of the last chapters to be revealed, if not the last one, and Muhammad’s rhetoric heats up against Christians (and Jews). Recall that reason no. 18 cites Sura 9:29, which commands Muhammad to fight Christians. In the next verse he curses Christians who say that Allah has a son (verse 30):

. . . Christians say: Messiah is the son of Allah . . . Allah’s curse be on them, how deluded away from the truth! (Hilali and Khan) (cf. Suras 2:116; 6:101; 10:68; 18:1, 4-5; 19:35, 88-93; 21:17, 26-27; 23:91; 43:81-82)

As a reply to this curse, perhaps it is not unreasonable to quote some verses from the Apostle John, who lived and talked with Jesus for three years. John lived longer than the other apostles. In his days many years after the resurrection, he warned Christians of teachers who would arise and deny the Sonship of Jesus Christ.

22 Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father. (1 John 2:22-23)

Christians are to test doctrines by Christ’s and the Apostles’ standards. Based on this New Testament passage, what are Christian supposed to conclude about Muhammad’s denial that Jesus is the Son of God? Muhammad’s denial makes him look bad, standing in the light of these Biblical verses.

These verses are strong, to be sure. But the difference between Sura 9:30 and 1 John 2:22-23 is the context. In verse 29 Muhammad is commanded to fight Christians in real battles with real weapons. In contrast, with words alone John warns Christians about false teachers. He did not call Christians to arm themselves and to chop off heads.

Personally, I choose the Son of God (or he chose me) who was called to die for my and your sins, over and above a human and mortal messenger. I could never give up Jesus Christ by demoting him to a mere prophet or human messenger or watered down, distorted Islamic Messiah, who will return and break the cross.

Dear Muslim emailer and missionary, this is certainly one of the very strongest reasons in this entire list that explain why I do not convert to Islam. I simply won’t trade in the eternal Son of God for a human messenger who would drag all of society backwards.

For more Quranic confusion about Christ, go directly to the Conclusion of a long article that has a list of misinterpretations.


Dear Muslim emailer,

This list could continue. But at least you have an idea why I don’t convert to Islam.

Though I do not wish to hurt your feelings, I have studied Islam long enough and deeply enough to have earned the right make these two statements:

(1) I do not believe that God sent down this book, the Quran. (2) I do not believe that Muhammad was a prophet of the God of the Bible, though your shahadah (confession of faith or First of Five Pillars) demands this from me. I’m not sure where he got his "revelations," but I don’t accept them.

However, you and your fellow polemicists are unwilling to give up trying to convert me and others. You and they follow two overall strategies in order to counter a list like this one.

First, you and they quote the Old Testament and declare that it orders the execution of such sinners as adulterers. So who are Christians to complain? In reply, however, we Christians believe that God through Jesus Christ has fulfilled this inspired book which was relevant and advanced during its own time and culture. And we still read it for its timeless truths. (This article explains how Christians benefit from it.) But not every aspect is authoritative for us today, such as animal sacrifices and harsh punishments. Christ came to change the sinner from the inside out.

Second, in regards to prosecuting criminals like thieves (see no. 9), promoters of Islamic law try to show the "horrible" life and crime rates in the US (and the whole West) because western freedoms (supposedly) do not work. Then the promoters assert that sharia (Islamic law) is the best solution. But is this angle the best one, and does it account for all of the facts?

This line graph on this short page at the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that violent crimes (e.g. homicide, rape, assaults, robbery) in America have decreased dramatically since 1994 to 2003. This line graph on another short page at BJS also depicts a dramatic drop in property crime (burglary, theft, and car theft) from 1994, though the rate has leveled off since 2002.

But what is the point of placing these two line graphs in this list? To boast that America has reached sinless perfection and has no room for improvement? No. Maybe the crime rate will increase (God forbid) in the next decade (or go down). The point is this: though many factors contribute to a drop in crime rates (or their rise), it is possible to see such a decrease without Islamic law. Sharia has nothing to do with the positive factors at work. Further, this means, therefore, that Islamic law is not needed to improve any society. Other, less brutal, means can be followed in order to lower crime and enhance the quality of life.

I hope that the reasons are now clear why I don’t convert to Allah’s religion. But will you stop sending me emails that ask me to convert? Probably not. At least I can reply to you with this long list.

Dear Muslim missionaries, it would be wonderful if you expended your energy on reforming your religion, instead of trying to convert me and others to it in its present form—though many theological reasons in this list say that I would not convert to Allah’s religion even if it underwent massive, practical reform. But at least average citizens in Islamic countries would feel the warmth and glow of peace and love and freedom and tolerance, and at least they would not have to live under the tyranny of sharia and radical Mullahs and sheikhs.


James M. Arlandson

Articles by James Arlandson
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