Answering Dr. Jamal Badawi:
Jamal Badawi's Misinformation and Misquotations - Part 4
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Badawi and the use of Liberal Scholars
Badawi is fond of appealing to either Christian or Jewish scholars who are liberal in their views regarding the origins of the Holy Bible. Badawi thinks that by appealing to such scholars he can undermine the authority, integrity and accuracy of the Holy Scriptures.
One such scholar that Badawi often refers to is John C. Fenton. In his debate with Dr. Gleason L. Archer and Dr. Robert Douglas titled God as viewed in the Bible and the Qur'an, Badawi stated:
"Furthermore, I like to refer you also to another Christian, this time not a Jew, but Christian scholar; John Fenton in his book about St. Matthew. And he says Matthew in particular was obsessed to try to prove, since he was addressing a Jewish audience, to try to prove that each and every prophecy in the Old Testament has found fulfillment in Jesus, peace be upon him."
The first problem with Badawi's quotation is that it gives the impression that he is actually quoting Fenton. Badawi makes it as if Fenton actually calls Matthew "obsessed".
Yet here is what Fenton actually wrote:
Matthew believed that the events which he was describing had been foretold by God, many years before they happened, in the Old Testament. There, through the prophets (and by 'the prophets' Matthew would have understood not only the authors of the books which we call prophetic, but all the Old Testament writers), God had announced beforehand what he would do in the last days; now, with the coming of Jesus, these last days had come, and the events his life were events about which the Old Testament writers had been speaking…
Moreover, so sure was Matthew of the truth of this relationship between the Old Testament and the life of Jesus that he would sometimes change the details of an event as they were recorded in his source, in order to bring out more clearly the correspondence to a prophecy; as in the example given above, where he changed Mark's myrrh to gall, to make the fulfillment of the Greek version of Ps. 69.21.
Modern study of the Old Testament does not support Matthew's understanding of it, nor the use he made of it when he was writing his Gospel. It is NOW seen that the Old Testament WAS NOT A COLLECTION OF DETAILED FORETELLINGS OF FUTURE EVENTS, WHICH COULD ONLY BE UNDERSTOOD CENTURIES LATER; the Old Testament writers were in fact writing for their contemporaries in a way which could be understood by them, and describing things that would happen MORE OR LESS IN THEIR OWN LIFETIME. Thus Matthew's use of the Old Testament, though it was no doubt of first rate importance to Matthew's original readers, and continued to be helpful until modern historical study enabled us to see the Old Testament in a new way, is now a STUMBLING BLOCK TO THE TWENTIETH CENTURY READER OF THE GOSPEL.
We must, however, try to see what Matthew was saying by means of these fulfillments; because it may be that what he was saying is still capable of being understood and accepted, although his way of saying it is no longer valid. And we should notice here that Matthew IS NOT ALONE in using the Old Testament in this way: from the first, the Christians had preached the death and resurrection of Jesus as events which happened in accordance with the scriptures, see I Cor. 15.3ff.; and it may be THAT JESUS HIMSELF INTERPRETED HIS LIFE AND DEATH AS THE FULFILMENT OF PROPHECY: see, for example, Mark 14.27, where Jesus quotes Zech. 13.7, You will all fall away; for is written, 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered' as a prophecy of his death and his disciples' flight. (Fenton, Saint Matthew-The Penguin New Testament Commentaries, Penguin Books, 1963, pp. 17-19; bold and capital emphasis ours)
If Fenton is correct, then not only was Matthew wrong for believing that the OT contains actual predictions of future events, but so was Jesus! This also means that both the Quran and Badawi are wrong to believe that the Holy Bible actually predicted the advent of Muhammad.
Second, Fenton's denial that the OT contains predictive prophecy exposes one of his underlying assumptions, namely his anti-supernatural bias. This bias forbids Fenton from believing that God has actually revealed himself in Scripture. Since Scripture is not actual revelation from God, it therefore cannot contain predictive prophecy. It is little wonder then that Fenton finds problems with Mathew's methodology, since he has already begun with the assumption that the OT prophets never predicted the future. He then proceeds to use this assumption as the basis to explain Matthew's Gospel.
Third, in the same dialogue Badawi quoted Fenton's comments regarding Matthew's citation of Micah 5:2 to show that Matthew actually combined two OT passages together, i.e. the one from Micah and 2 Samuel 5:2. Presumably, Badawi did so to cast doubt on Matthew's credibility to quote the OT accurately. Yet when one reads Fenton in context, a different picture emerges:
The prophecy is from Mic. 5.2, but it is not given in the LXX translation, nor is it an exact rendering of the Hebrew text, 2 Sam 5.2 MAY have been combined with the Micah prophecy; combining of similar Old Testament passages WAS A REGULAR FEATURE OF RABBINIC STUDY OF THE SCRIPTURES. (Fenton, p. 46; bold and capital emphasis ours)
We see that Matthew's method of combining OT passages was something also employed by the rabbis. This clearly demonstrates that in light of its historical setting Matthew's use of the OT was thoroughly Jewish, being completely accurate and acceptable to first century readers.
Fourth, when one does read Fenton's book one will find that the author fails to provide any real evidence. Rather, the book is filled with unproven assumptions and hypothetical constructions devoid of any historical facts. These assertions are then read back into the text as gospel truth. For instance, Fenton's book is filled with expressions like "perhaps", "probably", "possibly", "seems", "may have". This clearly demonstrates that Fenton has chosen to allow his assumptions to influence his understanding of Matthew.
A word of caution here. Assumptions are not necessarily wrong, since everyone has a set of assumptions that they begin with. Yet when the evidence clearly refutes or does not support a person's assumptions that person must be willing to discard his/her presuppositions and let the evidence determine one's position. Clearly, neither Fenton nor Badawi have allowed the evidence to speak for itself, but have allowed their own prejudices to affect their reading of the Holy Bible.
In light of the preceding points, we will now apply Fenton's methodology against the Quran. This will be done to see whether the Quran will be able pass the very same criteria used by the liberals in analyzing the Holy Bible and seemingly accepted by Badawi as reasonable criteria to judge revelation from God.
The Quran doesn't simply misquote the Old Testament, but also the New Testament as well. The Quran refers to passages or statements that are either nonexistent or not cited correctly.
Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the Garden (of Paradise): they fight in His Cause, and slay and are slain: a promise binding on Him in Truth, through the Torah, the Gospel, and the Qurán: and who is more faithful to his Covenant than Allah? Then rejoice in the bargain which ye have concluded: that is the achievement supreme. S. 9:111
We challenge Badawi to show us a single reference from the Gospels where fighting is commanded upon Christians.
"And We prescribed for them therein: The life for the life, and the eye for the eye, and the nose for the nose, and the ear for the ear, and the tooth for the tooth, and for wounds retaliation. But whoso forgoeth it (in the way of charity) it shall be expiation for him. Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are wrong-doers." S. 5:45
"But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise." Exodus 21:23-25
"Anyone who takes the life of someone's animal must make restitution - life for life. If anyone injures his neighbor, whatever he has done must be done to him: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. As he has injured the other, so he is to be injured. Whoever kills an animal must make restitution, but whoever kills a man must be put to death." Leviticus 24:18-21
"Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot." Deuteronomy 19:21
We would like for Badawi to show us where the phrase "the nose for the nose" appears in the Holy Bible.
"And verily we have written in the Psalms, after the Reminder: My righteous slaves will inherit the earth:" S. 21:105
"He will spend his days in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land." Psalm 25:13
"But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace… the righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever." Psalm 37:11, 29
Can Badawi show us where the phrase "My righteous slaves" is found in the scriptures? If he is unable, will Badawi conclude that the Quran is in error for failing to accurately and literally quote the OT word for word, choosing instead to either paraphrase or modify the text?
The Quran asserts certain biblical facts and prophecies that do not exist in the Holy Bible. For instance, the Quran claims that it appears in the previous scriptures:
"It (the Qur'an) is indeed a revelation from the Lord of the Worlds, with it came down the spirit of truth Upon your heart so that you may be one of the warners in clear Arabic speech and indeed IT (the Qur'an) is in the writings of the earlier (prophets)." S. 26:192-195
We challenge Badawi to show us one place where the Quran is mentioned or where the Quran exists within the previous revelation.
The Quran also claims that there are prophecies of Muhammad:
"… those who shall follow the Apostle, the unlettered Prophet whom they shall find described IN THE TORAH THAT IS WITH THEM, AND IN THE GOSPEL…" S. 7:157
Contrary to what the Quran and Badawi claim, there is not a single prophecy of Muhammad in the entire Holy Bible. We have read Badawi's pamphlet where he seeks to show otherwise and have found his arguments to be very poor and unscholarly. Read the following articles  and  for the evidence.
Parallel Accounts that Conflict
Much like the Synoptic Gospels, the Quran often repeats the same story with verbal variations. One finds the same story repeated in either a more condensed form, with greater detail, or with major verbal differences. Several examples help illustrate this:
They said: "O Moses! Whether wilt thou That thou throw (first) Or that we be the first to throw?" He said, "Nay, throw ye First!" Then behold Their ropes and their rods- So it seemed to him on account of their magic- Began to be in lively motion! So Moses conceived In his mind A (sort of) fear. We said: "Fear not! For thou hast indeed The upper hand: Throw that which is In thy right hand: Quickly will it swallow up That which they have faked What they have faked Is but a magician's trick: And the magician thrives not (No matter) where he goes. So the magicians were Thrown down in prostration: They said, "We believe In the Lord of Aaron and Moses." (Pharaoh) said: "Believe ye In Him before I give You permission? Surely This must be your leader, Who has taught you magic! Be sure I will cut off Your hands and feet On opposite sides, and I Will have you crucified On trunks of palm-trees: So shall ye know for certain, Which of us can give The more severe and the more Lasting punishment." They said, "Never shall we Regard thee as more than The Clear Signs that have Come to us, or than Him who created us! So decree whatever thou Desirest to decree: for thou Canst only decree (touching) The life of this world. For us, we have believed In our Lord: may He Forgive us our faults, And the magic to which Thou didst compel us: For God is Best And Most Abiding." S. 20:65-73
So when the sorcerers arrived, They said to Pharaoh: "Of course- shall we have a suitable reward if we win?" He said: "Yea, (and more),- For ye shall in that case Be (raised in posts) Nearest (to my person)." Moses said to them, "Throw ye- which ye are about to throw!" So They threw their ropes And their rods, and said: "By the might of Pharaoh It is we who will Certainly win!" Then Moses threw his rod, When, behold, it straightway swallows up all The falsehoods which they fake! Then did the Sorcerers fall down, prostration in adoration, Saying: "We believe in the Lord of the Worlds, The Lord of Moses and Aaron." Said Pharaoh: "Believe ye In Him before I give You permission? Surely he is your leader who has Taught you sorcery! But soon shall ye know!" Be sure I will cut off Your hands and your feet On opposite sides, and I Will cause ye all To die On the cross!" They said: "No matter! For us, we shall but return to our Lord! Only, our desire is That our Lord will forgive us our faults, That We may become Foremost among the Believers!" S. 26:41-52 (Cf. 7:111-126)
Let us contrast the parallel passages and see how they diverge in wording:
Sura 20- "We believe In the Lord of Aaron and Moses."
Sura 26- "We believe in the Lord of the Worlds, The Lord of Moses and Aaron."
Has the story of Moses Reached Thee? Behold he saw a fire: So he said to his family, "Tarry ye: I perceive a fire; perhaps I can Bring you some burning brand Therefrom, or find some guidance At the fire." But when he came to the fire, a voice Was heard: "O Moses" "Verily I am thy Lord! Therefore (in My presence) Put off thy shoes: thou art In the sacred valley Tuwa. "I have chosen thee: Listen, then, to the inspiration (Sent to thee). "Verily, I am God: There is no god but I: So serve thou Me (only), And establish regular prayer For celebrating My praise. Verily the hour is coming- My design is to keep it Hidden- for every soul To its reward By the measure of its endeavor. Therefore let not such as Believe not therein But follow their own Lusts, divert thee therefrom, Lest thou perish!" "And what is that in thy right hand, O Moses?" He said, "It is My rod: on it I lean; with it I beat down fodder For my flocks; and In it I find Have Other uses." (God) said, "Throw it, O Moses!" H e threw it, and behold it was a snake Active in motion. (God) said "Seize it And fear not: We shall return it at once To its former condition… Now draw thy hand Close to thy side: It shall come forth white (And shining), without harm (or stain),- As a another Sign,- In order that we may show thee (Two) of our Greater Signs. Go thou to Pharaoh For he has indeed Transgressed all bounds." S. 20:9-24
Behold! Moses said to his family "I perceive A fire; soon will I bring you From there some information, Or I will Bring you A burning brand to light our fuel That ye may Warm yourselves." But when he came To the (Fire), a voice Was heard: "Blessed are those In the Fire and those around: And Glory to God, The Lord of the Worlds. "O Moses! Verily I am God, the Exalted In Might, the wise!... "Now do throw thy rod!" But when he saw it Moving (of its own accord) As if it had been a snake, He turned back in Retreat, And retraced not his steps: "O Moses!" (it was said), "Fear not: truly, in My presence, Those called as apostles Have no fear,- But if Any have done wrong And have thereafter substituted Good to take the place of the evil, Truly, I am Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. "Now put thy hand into Thy bosom, and it will Come forth white without stain (Or harm): (These are) among The nine Signs (thou wilt take) To Pharaoh and his people: For they are A people Rebellious in transgression." But when Our Signs came To them, that should opened their eyes, they said: "This is Sorcery manifest!" And they rejected those Signs In iniquity and arrogance, Though their Souls were convinced Thereof: so see what was The end of those Who acted corruptly. S. 27:7-14
Now when Moses had fulfilled The term, and was traveling With his family, he perceived A fire in the direction of Mount Tur. He said To his family: "Tarry ye; I perceive a fire; I hope To bring you from there Some information, or a burning Firebrand that ye may warm yourselves." But when he came To the (Fire), a voice was heard from the right back Of the valley, from a tree In hallowed ground: "O Moses! Verily I am God, the Lord of the Worlds… Now do thou throw thy rod! But when he saw it Moving (of its own accord) As if it had been a snake, He turned back in retreat and retraced not his steps: "O Moses!" (It was said), "Draw near, and fear not; For thou art of those Who are secure. "Move thy hand into thy bosom, and it will Come forth to thy side (To guard) against fear. Those are the two credentials From thy Lord to Pharaoh And his Chiefs: for truly They are a people Rebellious and wicked." S. 28:29-33
Despite the fact that there are serious verbal variations throughout these Suras, we will limit ourselves to the following portions:
Sura 20- "Verily I am thy Lord!… Verily, I am God: There is no god but I: So serve thou Me (only), And establish regular prayer For celebrating My praise"
Sura 27- "And Glory to God, The Lord of the Worlds. O Moses! Verily I am God, the Exalted In Might, the wise!"
Sura 28- "Verily I am God, the Lord of the Worlds."
And behold, We said to the angels: "Bow down to Adam" and they bowed down. Not so Iblis: he refused and was haughty: he was of those who reject Faith. S. 2:34
It is We Who created you and gave you shape; then We bade the angels prostrate to Adam, and they prostrated; not so Iblis; He refused to be of those who bow down. (Allah) said: "What prevented thee from bowing down when I commanded thee?" He said: "I am better than he: Thou didst create me from fire, and him from clay." (Allah) said: "Get thee down from it (the Garden): it is not for thee to be arrogant here: get out, for thou art of the meanest (of creatures)." He said: "Give me respite till the day they are raised up." (Allah) said: "Be thou among those who have respite." He said: "Because thou hast thrown me out (of the Way), lo! I will lie in wait for them on Thy Straight Way: Then will I assault them from before them and behind them, from their right and their left: Nor wilt Thou find, in most of them, gratitude (for Thy mercies)." (Allah) said: "Get out from this, disgraced and expelled. If any of them follow thee,- Hell will I fill with you all." S. 7:11-18
Behold! thy Lord said to the angels: "I am about to create man, from sounding clay from mud molded into shape; When I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My spirit, fall ye down in obeisance unto him." So the angels prostrated themselves, all of them together: Not so Iblis: he refused to be among those who prostrated themselves. (Allah) said: "O Iblis! what is your reason for not being among those who prostrated themselves?" (Iblis) said: "I am not one to prostrate myself to man, whom Thou didst create from sounding clay, from mud molded into shape." (Allah) said: "Then get thee out from here; for thou art rejected, accursed. And the Curse shall be on thee till the day of Judgment." (Iblis) said: "O my Lord! give me then respite till the Day the (dead) are raised." (Allah) said: "Respite is granted thee - Till the Day of the Time Appointed." (Iblis) said: "O my Lord! because Thou hast put me in the wrong, I will make (wrong) fair-seeming to them on the earth, and I will put them all in the wrong,- Except Thy chosen servants among them." (Allah) said: "This is for me a Straight Path. For over My servants no authority shalt thou have, except such as put themselves in the wrong and follow thee." S. 15:28-42
Behold! We said to the angels: "Prostrate unto Adam" They prostrated except Iblis: He said, "Shall I prostrate to one whom Thou didst create from clay?" He said: "Seest Thou? this is the one whom Thou hast honored above me! If Thou wilt but respite me to the Day of Judgment, I will surely bring his descendants under my sway - all but a few!" (Allah) said: "Go thy way; if any of them follow thee, verily Hell will be the recompense of you (all)- an ample recompense. And arose those whom thou canst among them, with thy (seductive) voice; make assaults on them with thy cavalry and thy infantry; mutually share with them wealth and children; and make promises to them." But Satan promises them nothing but deceit. S. 17:61-64
Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: "I am about to create man from clay: When I have fashioned him and breathed into him of My spirit, fall ye down in obeisance unto him." So the angels prostrated themselves, all of them together: Not so Iblis: he was haughty, and became one of those who reject Faith. (Allah) said: "O Iblis! What prevents thee from prostrating thyself to one whom I have created with My hands? Art thou haughty? Or art thou one of the high (and mighty) ones?" (Iblis) said: "I am better than he: Thou createdst me from fire, and him Thou createdst from clay." (Allah) said: "Then get thee out from here: for thou art rejected, accursed. And My Curse shall be on thee till the Day of Judgment." (Iblis) said: "O my Lord! Give me then respite till the Day the (dead) are raised." (Allah) said: "Respite then is granted thee-Till the Day of the Time Appointed." (Iblis) said: "Then, by Thy Power, I will lead them all astray,- Except Thy Servants amongst them, sincere and purified (by Thy Grace)." (Allah) said: "This is the Truth, and the Truth I say,- That I will certainly fill Hell with thee and those that follow thee,- every one." S. 38:71-85
The major verbal variations as are so vast and so many that to highlight them would be rather lengthy. Any fair reading of the passages should make it abundantly clear that the Quran gives contradictory and conflicting versions of Iblis' exact words to God and God's exact response to him.
And remember We said: "ENTER this town, and eat OF THE PLENTY therein as ye wish; and enter the gate prostrating (with humility), and say: 'Forgive (us)'; We shall forgive you your faults and increase (the portion of) those who do good." But the transgressors changed the word from that which had been given them; so We sent on the transgressors a plague from heaven, for that they INFRINGED (Our command) repeatedly. S. 2:58-59
And remember it was said to them: "DWELL in this town and eat therein as ye wish, but say the word of humility and enter the gate in a posture of humility: We shall forgive you your faults; We shall increase (the portion of) those who do good." But the transgressors among them changed the word from that which had been given them so we sent on them a plague from heaven. For that they repeatedly TRANSGRESSED. S. 7:161-162
Here is Abdullah Yusuf Ali's footnote:
These verse, 58-59, maybe compared to vii. 161-162. There are two verbal differences. Here (ii. 58) we have "enter the town" and in vii. 161 we have "dwell in the town." Again in ii. 59 here we have "infringed (Our command)," and in vii. 162, we have "transgressed." The verbal differences make no difference to the sense. (Ali, The Holy Quran – Translation and Commentary, p. 31, f. 72; bold emphasis ours)
He [Lot] said [to the evil people around him]: "I do detest your doings." "Oh my Lord! deliver me and my family from such things as they do!" So we delivered him and his family, - all except an old woman who lingered behind. S. 26:168-171
They said: O Lot! we are the messengers of your Lord; they shall by no means reach you; so remove your family in a part of the night - and let none of you look back - except your wife, for surely whatsoever befalls them shall befall her; surely their appointed time is the morning; is not the morning nigh? S. 11:81
But we saved him and his family, except his wife: she was of those who lagged behind. S. 7:83
In the preceding citations we are told in one place that an old woman lagged behind. In the other accounts it is Lot's wife.
John Gilchrist furnishes additional evidence and comments on the conflicting variations within the same stories:
"It is the stories of the Biblical prophets that particularly lack any manner of logical sequence in the Qur'an. In some places there are lists of prophets which are hardly given in any sort of order. In the following verse the early patriarchs are given in the correct sequence (though Ishmael is discounted as a prophet in the Bible), but the names of the prophets thereafter are completely mixed up:
We have sent thee inspiration, as We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him: We sent inspiration to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon, and to David We gave the Psalms. Surah 4.163
One cannot help presuming that Muhammad had a fairly sound knowledge of the history of the patriarchs from Noah to the sons of Jacob but was somewhat at sea regarding the sequence of the prophets that followed. Indeed the later prophets, from Isaiah to Malachi, with the exception of Jonah, are conspicuous purely by their absence in the Qur'an.
While the patriarchs are vigorously Quranic figures, the great prophets of the Bible from the eighth century BC onwards, are entirely absent. (Cragg, The Event of the Qur'an, p. 173).
There is nothing of the teaching of the writing prophets of the Old Testament, and practically nothing of the teaching of the New Testament. (Watt, Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman, p. 54).
On the other hand there are numerous stories in the Qur'an relating to the earlier prophets and New Testament figureheads which are borrowed from Jewish Talmudic sources and Christian apocryphal writings respectively. Examples of these are found in the sections on Qur'anic origins and sources to follow. It seems that Muhammad's knowledge of the Bible was limited to information from secondary sources, though this knowledge did improve as time went on.
The needs of his profession do not appear to have made him actually a student - yet there is no question 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 been at times due to the Prophet's memory, it is more likely that he took such opportunities as offered of acquiring more information. (Margoliouth, Mohammed and the Rise of Islam, p. 106).
An example of the growing accuracy of the Qur'anic records of the events in the lives of the Biblical prophets proves the point. In Surah 26.160-175 one finds a brief record of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and of a typical conversation between the prophet Lot and his unbelieving people. Lot was delivered with his family "except an old woman who lingered behind" (Surah 26.171, as also 37.135). The story is roughly repeated in Surah 27.54-58, except that in this case, as in all the other later records of this event, the woman is now positively identified as his wife (Surah 27.57). There is as yet no hint of the involvement of the angels who came as God's messengers in human form to destroy the cities but, in later passages, they finally appear while the narratives of the whole episode are simultaneously embellished with further information.
In Surah 15.51-77 there is a brief record of the visit of the angels and their mission. Furthermore Abraham is now linked to the story of the destruction of these cities (typically not mentioned by name in the Qur'an) in that the angels visit him first to announce their purpose (v.58-60) as in the Bible (Genesis 18.16-22). When they come to Lot, however, they disclose their true identities immediately as well as their design and call on him to leave by night with his household (v.63-66). Only after this do the townsmen come to Lot to demand his guests and, as in the Bible (Genesis 19.8), Lot offers them his daughters (v.71). The record is very similar to the Biblical account except that in the Bible the angels only make their true identities known after the altercation with the tribesmen (Genesis 19.11) and only then command him to prepare to leave with his family as they make their mission known to him (Genesis 19.12-13). The Qur'anic error in placing these disclosures before the visit of the townsmen leads to a somewhat irrational situation:
In S. 15 apparently no sequence of the events is presented, since it is told that the conversation of Lot with the people follows after the notification of the angelic rank of the visitors. This is not logical, for in that case Lot need not have been afraid of being importuned by the people and there would have been no need of "offering" his daughters. (Baljon, Modern Muslim Koran Interpretation, p. 38).
In Surah 11.74-85 Muhammad finally gets it right. Once again the angels come to Abraham and this time the Qur'an mentions the prayer he offered to deliver the cities. Furthermore the disclosure of the identities of the angelic guests and their purpose to deliver Lot and his family and destroy the cities is now rightly placed after the altercation with the townsmen (v.81-82). Now the fears of Lot about the security of his guests when the townsmen arrive makes sense. He is said to have "felt himself powerless" (v.77) to protect them and openly expresses his regret that he could not summon powerful support on their behalf (v.80). Only at this point do they disclose their true identities as angelic messengers and only now is he called to leave with his family by night. All this is consistent with the Biblical narrative but is contradictory of the account in Surah 15 where the disclosures are said to have been made before the townsmen confronted Lot.
All these features strongly support the statement made by Margoliouth that, as the Qur'an developed, so its record of the events relating to the Biblical prophets became significantly more accurate. This conclusion can hardly be resisted in the circumstances:
Again, in the first four of the passages just quoted nothing suggests any awareness of the connexion between Abraham and Lot, and indeed some matters suggest ignorance of it; on the other hand, in the last three passages there is explicit mention of the connexion with Abraham. If there were only one or two instances of this sort of thing they could easily be explained away; BUT THERE ARE A GREAT MANY; and the Western critic therefore finds it difficult to resist the conclusion that Muhammad's knowledge of these stories was growing and that therefore he was getting information from a person or persons familiar with them. (Watt, Muhammad at Mecca, p. 159).
(Gilchrist, Muhammad and the Religion of Islam [Jesus To the Muslims PO Box 1804 Benoni Republic of South Africa, 1986], pp. 163-166; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Even a Muslim scholar acknowledges the difficulty posed by the verbal variations within the parallel Quranic accounts:
"Among the mutashabih (things which resemble one another) verses are those which tell the story of Moses in many places of the Qur'an, and those, like them, which employ different words to express similar meanings. Some examples of these are: 'Let into it' and 'Carry in it [the Ark]', (Q. 23:27 and 11:40); 'Slip in your hand' and 'Enter your hand [O Moses into your bosom]', (Q. 28:32 and 27:12); and 'He [Moses] cast down his staff and, behold, it became a snake slithering' and 'He cast it down and, behold, it became an unmistakable serpent', (Q. 20:20 and 7:107). Ibn Zayd then comments, 'All this is in order to show God's judgment between the prophets and their peoples.' Ibn Zayd goes on, 'Anyone whom God wishes to test and cause to fall into error would say, "Why is this not like that, and why is that like this!"' (Tabari, VI, pp. 177-179)" (Mahmoud M. Ayoub, The Qur'an and Its Interpreters, Vol. II - The House of Imran [State University of New York Press, Albany; 1992], p. 23; bold emphasis ours)
Hence, Muslim themselves have discovered and stumbled at the fact that the same Quranic stories contain verbal variations. Using Fenton's methodology we are forced to conclude that the different writers of the Quran embellished or changed the same story in order to agree with their theological or political agendas.
What makes these examples even more difficult for the Muslim position is that unlike the Christian view of the Holy Bible, Muslims believe that the Quran is divine dictation that Muhammad memorized and caused to be written down. Muslims take pride in the fact that Muhammad had nothing to do with composing the Quran. They claim that the Quran is devoid of both the words and personality of Muhammad since the Quran contains the revealed words of God alone.
If this is the case, then Badawi can perhaps clarify and explain how God can retell the same story with major contradictions and verbal variations. We eagerly await his response.
Badawi has also chosen to quote scholars that have embraced the Documentary Hypothesis. This hypothesis asserts that four independent sources were compiled together to form the Pentateuch. The names given to these hypothetical documents are the Yahwist source (J), Elohist source (E), the Deuteronomist source (D), and the Priestly source or editors (P). This is commonly referred to as the JEDP theory.
The problem with this view is that both archaeology and the majority of biblical scholars have by now thoroughly debunked the Documentary Hypothesis. The hypothesis lacks any real historical evidence to support it, and is merely based on unproven assumptions.
In spite of this, since Badawi thinks this is a valid approach to analyze holy scripture, we would like to apply the Documentary Hypothesis on the Quran and see how this would affect the traditional Islamic view regarding the Quran's origin:
In Arabic the name for God "Allah" parallels the Hebrew Elohim and the name "Rabb" corresponds to the Hebrew Adonai (Lord) which the Jews used later to refer to Jehovah. When we examine the Qur'an we find that the name Rabb is never used in 11 Suras: 24, 48, 49, 58, 61, 62, 77, 88, 95, 104, and 112; and the name Allah is absent in 18 Suras: 54-56, 68, 75, 78, 83, 89, 92-94, 99, 100, 105, 106, 108, 113, and 114. In addition there are 10 very short Early Meccan Suras in which, like the Book of Esther in the Torah-Old Testament, the name of God is not mentioned at all. Below is an analysis of the use of Allah and Rabb in Suras 48 to 64. I have chosen these 17 Suras because 8 of them are in the above lists.
Sura Date of Times Number Times per Times Times
Number Sura Allah used of Verses Verse Rabb Used per Verse
48 6 AH 19 29 .65 0 0.
49 9 AH 27 18 1.50 0 0.
50 Early Meccan 1 45 .02 2 .04
51 Early Meccan 3 60 .05 5 .08
52 Early Meccan 3 49 .06 6 .12
53 Early Meccan 6 62 .10 7 .11
54 Early Meccan 0 55 0. 1 .02
55 Early Meccan 0 78 0. 36 .46
56 Early Meccan 0 96 0. 3 .03
57 8 AH 32 29 1.10 3 .10
58 5-7 AH 40 22 1.81 0 0.
59 4 AH 29 24 1.21 1 .04
60 8 AH 21 13 1.61 4 .31
61 3 AH 17 14 1.21 0 0.
62 2-5 AH 12 11 1.09 0 0.
63 4-5 AH 14 11 1.27 1 .09
64 1 AH 20 18 1.11 1 .06
When we look at this information we see that in Sura 55 the word Rabb was used 36 times - 31 of them along with the word 'favors' (al-ala'). This word ala' is a rare word in the Qur'an being found only three other times - once in the Early Meccan Sura 53 and twice in the Late Meccan Sura 7. Furthermore, when we examine Sura 53:19-20, we find that it is the only Sura which mentions the three Goddesses Al-Llat, and Al-'Uzza, and Manat.
A higher critic who believes in the 'documentary hypothesis' would now say, 'We see here that Allah is used much less often during the Meccan period, never more than once in every 10 verses. While in the Medina period this name is used at least once a verse except for Sura 48. In addition, the word ala' and the three idol goddesses are found only in these Meccan Suras. Therefore there must have been an early Meccan writer called 'R' because he used 'Rabb' as the name for God, but who was still interested in idols. Later there was a second writer called `A' who used 'Allah' and wrote when pure monotheism had developed. It is true, of course, that in Sura 53, Manat, Al-Llat and Al-`Uzza are mentioned with disapproval, so these disapproving words must have been added at a later date by `Q' which stands for editing done by the 'Qurra'.
Next we find that there are four accounts in the Qur'an telling how the honored guests came to inform Abraham that he would have a son in his old age. The Early Meccan Sura 51:24-30 mentions how Abraham's wife didn't believe and said 'a barren old woman'. This was obviously done by 'R'. The Late Meccan Sura 15:51-56 tells how Abraham didn't believe the news and said, 'Do you give me glad tidings that old age has seized me?' Since this is Late Meccan the `A' writer was starting to have an influence. In the Late Meccan Sura 11:69-74 the two stories have been worked together by one of the 'Q' editors and the fact is added that Abraham's wife laughed.
Finally there is the early Mid-Meccan account in Sura 37:99-103 which is really concerned with Abraham's sacrifice of his son. Since sacrifices are mentioned this represents another document which we will call the `D' document for (al-dabiha) sacrifice. As the reader can see we easily made up a new four document theory for the origin of the Qur'an. We could call it the R,A,Q,D theory. Though this R,A,Q,D theory is completely fictitious it demonstrates the type of arbitrary reasoning used by the authors of the `documentary hypothesis', and shows what would have happened if they had applied the same type of analysis to the Qur'an. (Campbell, The Qur'an and the Bible in light of History and Science, pp. 84-86)
"Relevant to this matter is a significant point which does not seem to have been noticed by Western scholars, namely that the word Allah does not occur in the earliest passages of the Qur'an, or does so only rarely. The relative dating of the Qur'an is, of course, a notoriously difficult matter about which Western scholars are not agreed, while few Muslims accept the Western approach to chronology. The absence of the word Allah in early surahs can be illustrated from the latest attempt to place the suras in chronological order, that of Regis Blachère in his French translation. In what he reckons to be the first seventeen surahs, the word Allah occurs only three times, namely in his seventh (91:13), his tenth (95:8) and his sixteenth (87:7); and of these, he considers the verses 91:13 and 87:7 to be later than the rest of the surah. Instead of Allah, on finds 'your Lord' (rabbuka) as in 96:1,3 or 'we' as in 94:14. The word Allah occurs, of course, in the invocation at the beginning of each surah, but these would be added later.
The story of the 'satanic verses'… shows the persistence of some confusion between Allah conceived monotheistically and Allah as a 'high god.' 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 any Muslin would accept such a story from a non-Muslim. It also appears to be vouched for by a verse from the Qur'an (22:52). Many Muslims reject the story as unworthy of Muhammad, but there is nothing unworthy of him in holding that his knowledge and understanding of his 'Lord' developed during the early years of hi prophethood as the revelation multiplied." (The History of al-Tabari, Volume VI- Muhammad at Mecca, translated and annotated by W. Montgomery Watt & M.V. McDonald [State University of New York Press, Albany 1988], pp. xxxiii-xxxiv; bold emphasis ours)
The editors continue to relate the story of the "satanic verses" and then make the following comment:
"The point to be emphasized is that Muhammad did not immediately appreciate that there was a contradiction between this permission for intercession and a genuine monotheism. This does not necessarily mean that he accepted the idea of the believers in Allah as 'high god' that there were other deities which could intercede with him. Some of those who heard the verses might certainly have understood them in this way, but Muhammad himself probably thought of the three goddesses as angels. It is to be noted that verse 26 of the same surah speaks of the possibility of intercession by angels: 'How many angels there are in the heavens whose intercession is of no avail save after God gives leave to those whom he chooses and accepts!' The full story of the rejection of the 'satanic verses' will never be known. What is certain is that a fresh revelation canceled them and replaced them by others. It is from this time, too, that the revelations emphasize that 'there is no deity but God' and he must be the sole object of worship. Even the possibility that the goddesses might be angels is rejected: 'they are but names which you have named, you and your fathers' (53:23). Thus, in the end, the Qur'an decisively rejected belief in Allah as 'high god', but it is part of the background against which the accounts of Muhammad's call must be considered. "(Ibid., pp. xxxiv-xxxv; bold emphasis ours)
Much like liberal Jewish and Christian scholars have claimed for the Holy Bible, there are Muslims that claim that the Quran contains legendary and mythical stories. Stories that have led Muslims to this conclusion include the Quranic account that Solomon had actual conversations with animals:
"And there were gathered together unto Solomon his armies of the jinn and humankind, and of the birds, and they were set in battle order; Till, when they reached the Valley of the Ants, an ant exclaimed: O ants! Enter your dwellings lest Solomon and his armies crush you, unperceiving. And (Solomon) smiled, laughing at her speech, and said: My Lord, arouse me to be thankful for Thy favour wherewith Thou hast favoured me and my parents, and to do good that shall be pleasing unto Thee, and include me in (the number of) Thy righteous slaves. And he sought among the birds and said: How is it that I see not the hoopoe, or is he among the absent? I verily will punish him with hard punishment or I verily will slay him, or he verily shall bring me a plain excuse. But he was not long in coming, and he said: I have found out (a thing) that thou apprehendest not, and I come unto thee from Sheba with sure tidings. Lo! I found a woman ruling over them, and she hath been given (abundance) of all things, and hers is a mighty throne. I found her and her people worshipping the sun instead of Allah; and Satan maketh their works fairseeming unto them, and debarreth them from the way (of Truth), so that they go not aright; So that they worship not Allah, Who bringeth forth the hidden in the heavens and the earth, and knoweth what ye hide and what ye proclaim..." S. 27:17-25
Renowned Muslim scholar, the late Muhammad Asad states:
"In this instance, Solomon evidently refers to his own understanding and admiration of nature (cf. 38:31-33 and the corresponding notes) as well as to his loving compassion for the humblest of God's creatures, as a great divine blessing: and this is the Qur'anic moral of the LEGENDARY story of the ant." (Asad, The Message of the Qur'an [Dar Al-Andalus Limited, 3 Library Ramp, Gibraltar rpt. 1993], p. 578, f. 17; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Asad seemingly realized that to believe that this was actual history would be difficult to say the least.
The Quran also claims that both the winds and jinns (demons) were subservient to Solomon:
"And to Solomon (We subjected) the wind strongly raging, running by his command towards the land which We had blessed. And of everything We are the All-Knower. And of the Shayâtin (devils) (from the jinns) were some who dived for him, and did other work besides that; and it was We Who guarded them." S. 21:81-82
"So, We subjected to him the wind, it blew gently to his order whithersoever he willed, And also the Shayâtin (devils) from the jinns (including) every kind of builder and diver, And also others bound in fetters. [Saying of Allâh to Solomon]: 'This is Our gift, so spend you or withhold, no account will be asked'." S. 38:36-39
Muhammad Asad notes:
"In this as well as in several other passages relating to Solomon, the Qur'an alludes to many POETIC LEGENDS which were associated with his name since early antiquity and had become part and parcel of Judeo-Christian and Arabian lore long before the advent of Islam. Although it is undoubtedly possible to interpret such passages in a 'rationalistic' manner, I do not think that this is really necessary. Because they were so deeply ingrained in the imagination of the people to whom the Qur'an addressed itself in the first instance, these legendary accounts of Solomon's wisdom and magic powers had acquired a cultural reality of their own and were, therefore, eminently suited to serve as a medium for the parabolic exposition of certain ethical truths with which this book is concerned: and so, without denying or confirming their MYTHICAL character, the Qur'an uses them as a foil for the idea that God is the ultimate source of all human power and glory, and that all achievements of human ingenuity, even though they may sometimes border on the miraculous, are but an expression of His transcendental creativity." (Asad, p. 498, f. 77; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Another Quranic fable includes S. 18:9-23, 25-26 and the Story of the Sleepers of the Cave. According to this tale, several youths and their dog fled to a cave where according to one version of the story they slept for 309 years. Once again, here is Asad:
"... We may, therefore, safely assume that the LEGEND of the Men of the Cave - stripped of its Christian garb and the superimposed Christian background - is, substantially, of Jewish origin... But whatever the source of this LEGEND, and irrespective of whether it is of Jewish or Christian origin, the fact remains that it is used in the Qur'an IN A PURELY PARABOLIC SENSE: namely, as an illustration of God's power to bring about death (or 'sleep') and resurrection (or 'awakening'); and, secondly, as an ALLEGORY of the piety that induces men to abandon a wicked or frivolous world in order to keep their faith unsullied, and of God's recognition of that faith by His bestowal of a spiritual awakening which transcends time and death." (Asad, p. 439, f. 7; bold and capital emphasis ours)
"The future tense in sayaqulun points once again to the LEGENDARY character of the story as such, and implies that all speculation about its details is irrelevant to its parabolic, ethical purport." (Asad, p. 442, f. 31; bold and capital emphasis ours)
In fact, Asad often points out that many of the Quranic tales are legendary and mythical. Note the following comments:
Asad on S. 2:102
"... At any rate, it is certain that from very ancient times Babylon was reputed to be the home of magic arts, symbolized in the LEGENDARY persons - perhaps kings - Harut and Marut; and it is to this LEGEND that the Qur'an refers with a view to condemning every attempt at magic and sorcery, as well as all preoccupation with occult sciences in general." (Asad, p.22, n. 83; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Asad on S. 2:259
"... The story told in this verse is obviously a PARABLE meant to illustrate God's power to bring the dead back to life... The speculation of some of the earlier commentators as to the 'identity' of the man and the town mentioned in this story are without any substance, and may have been influenced by TALMUDIC LEGENDS." (Asad, p. 58, n. 253; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Asad on S. 18:50
"... This short reference to the oft-repeated ALLEGORY of God's commands to the angels to 'prostrate themselves before Adam' is meant, in the above context, to stress man's inborn faculty of conceptual thinking..." (Asad, p. 446, n. 52; bold and capital emphasis ours)
"... As regards Satan's SYMBOLIC 'rebellion' against God, see notes 26 on 2:34 and note 31 on 15:41." (Asad, p. 447, n. 55; bold and capital emphasis ours)
When we turn to Asad's notes to S. 2:34-35 on the story of Adam, Eve and the Garden something interesting emerges:
"... Lit., 'the garden'. There is a considerable difference of opinion among the commentators as to what is meant here by 'garden'; a garden in the earthly sense, or the paradise that awaits the righteous in the life to come, or some special garden in the heavenly region? According to some of the earliest commentators (see Manar I, 277), an earthly abode is here alluded to- namely, an environment of perfect ease, happiness and innocence. In any case, this story of Adam is OBVIOUSLY one of the ALLEGORIES referred to in 3:7." (Asad, p. 9, n. 27; bold and capital emphasis ours)
"... As in the parallel account of this parable of the Fall in 2:35-36, the dual form of the address changes at this stage into the plural, thus connecting once again with verse 10 and the beginning of verse 11 of this surah, and making it clear that the story of Adam and Eve is, in reality, an ALLEGORY of human destiny... In this deeper sense, the ALLEGORY of the Fall does not describe a retrogressive happening but, rather, a new stage of human development..." (Asad, p. 205, n. 16; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Asad on S. 18:60
"... In this instance, it evidently marks a connection, with verse 54 above ('many facets have We given in this Qur'an to every kind of lesson [designed] for [the benefit of] mankind'), and introduces an ALLEGORY meant to illustrate the fact that knowledge, and particularly spiritual knowledge, is inexhaustible... The subsequent PARABLE of Moses and his quest for knowledge (verses 60-82) has become, in the course of time, the nucleus of INNUMERABLE LEGENDS with which we are not concerned here… There is no doubt that this Tradition is a kind of ALLEGORICAL introduction to our Qur'anic PARABLE... As for the 'junction of the two seas', which many of the early commentators endeavored to 'identify' in geographical terms (ranging from the meeting of the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean at the Bab al-Mandab to that of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean at the Straits of Gibraltar), Baydawi offers, in his commentary on verse 60, a purely ALLEGORICAL explanation..." (Asad, pp. 448-449, n. 67; bold and capital emphasis ours)
"... In the Tradition on the authority of Ubayy ibn Ka'b (referred to in note 67) this mysterious sage is spoken of as Al-Khadir or Al-Khidr, meaning 'the Green One'. Apparently this is an epithet rather than a name, implying (according to popular LEGEND) that his wisdom was ever-fresh ('green') and imperishable: a notion which bears out the assumption that we have here an ALLEGORIC FIGURE symbolizing the utmost depth of mystic insight accessible to man." (Asad, p. 449, n. 73; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Asad is not alone in acknowledging that the Quran contains ancient fables and tales of both the Arabs and the Judeo-Christian communities. Abdullah Yusuf Ali, in his famous translation of the Quran, also acknowledges this fact.
Ali on S. 2:55
"... We have hitherto had instances from Jewish traditional Taurat (or Pentateuch). Now we have some instances from Jewish traditions in the Talmud, or body of exposition in the Jewish theological schools..." (Ali, The Holy Qur'an – Translation and Commentary, p. 30, n. 70; bold emphasis ours)
Ali on S. 2:60
"... The gushing twelve springs from a rock evidently refers to a LOCAL TRADITION well known to Jews and Arabs in Al-Mustafa's time... The Jewish Tradition would be based on Exod. xvii. 6: ‘Thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it that the people may drink.’ ..." (Ali, p. 32, n. 73; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Ali on Jews fishing on the Sabbath Day
"... There must have been a Jewish tradition about a whole fishing community in a seaside town, which persisted in breaking the Sabbath and were turned into apes ..." (Ali, p. 34, n. 79; bold emphasis ours)
Ali on Abraham being tossed in the Fire
"... traditionally the fire incident is referred to a king called Nimrud... if Nimrud 's capital was in Assyria, near Ninevah (site near modern Mosul), we may suppose either that the king's rule extended over the whole of Mesopotamia, or that Abraham wandered north through Babylonia to Assyria." (Ali, p. 837, n. 2725; bold emphasis ours)
"... Can we localize Nimrud? If LOCAL TRADITION can be relied upon, the king must have ruled over the tract which includes the modern Nimrud, on the Tigris, about twenty miles south of Mosul. This is the site of the Assyrian ruins of great interest, but the rise of Assyria as an empire was of course much later than the time of Abraham. The Assyrian city Kalakh (Calah), and archaeological excavations carried out there have yielded valuable results, which are however irrelevant for our commentary." (Ali, p. 533, n. 1565; bold emphasis ours)
"... In Arab tradition there is the story of Abraham. Nimrud tries to burn him to death, but on account of Abraham's faith the fire became a means of safety for Abraham…" (Ali, p. 1714, n. 6055; bold emphasis ours)
We conclude this section with the words of Faruq Sherif:
Some Legendary Figures
In the course of developing its teachings, the Qur'an frequently cites the example not of prophets and sages of ancient times, but also of some LEGENDARY, MYTHICAL or even FICTITIOUS persons. Chief among these is Khidr, the Evergreen who, though not mentioned by name, is recognised as the mysterious person (the possessor of divinely-inspired knowledge of the secret sources of life) whom Moses met on his ALLEGORICAL journey... Another LEGEND prominently described in the Qur'an is that of the 'seven sleepers' or the 'Companions of the Cave' also mentioned in another section of this book. In this connection mention is made of the angels Harut and Marut who taught magic at Babylon, but warned the people that the teaching was imparted to them only to try them. In the commentaries of the Qur'an Harut and Marut have been identified with the two fallen angels of Jewish tradition who, having sinned on earth, were hung by their feet over a well for punishment.
A summary is given below of the contents of the Qur'an relating to three LEGENDARY figures: Dhulqarnain, Luqman, Qarun. A section is also included on Pharaoh who, although a historical person, often appears in the Qur'an as an archetype for autocracy. The experiences or characteristics of these MYTHICAL or SEMI-MYTHICAL figures are included to serve a salutary example or a dissuasive lesson to believers." (Sherif, A Guide to the Contents of the Qur'an [Garnet Publishing, 8 South Court South Street, Reading, RG1 4QS UK, 1995], pp. 94-95; bold and capital emphasis ours)
If Badawi chooses to uncritically embrace the results of liberal scholars regarding the Holy Bible, he must remain consistent and also accept the implication such theories have on the authenticity of the Quran.
This concludes Part 4. Continue with Part 5.
Further responses to Dr. Badawi
Further articles by Sam Shamoun
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