Monday, 20 April 2009

Was Muhammad Illiterate or not? Part II

A Response to a Muslim’s Attempt of Proving that his Prophet was Illiterate (by Sam Shamoun) 

From Part I

This will be a reply to Zawadi’s recent attempt (*) of defending Muhammad’s illiteracy, or the assertion that his prophet was illiterate for most of his life.

I will address his salient points and omit most of the comments that were already refuted in my initial rebuttal (

Zawadi repeats his assertion that the spirit’s torture of Muhammad was to ensure that his prophet wouldn’t doubt his experience later on, all of which ignores my reply. As I stated the spirit failed to accomplish his intended purpose since this traumatic encounter caused Muhammad to think he was demon-possessed and he even contemplated suicide as a result of it.

Zawadi asks whether people have dreams where they encounter the same physical interaction that Muhammad supposedly had with Gabriel. But this only proves that Muhammad is a false prophet and that the spirit who tortured and manhandled him wasn’t a messenger from the true God since the true prophets and apostles never had such an experience, where an angel or God manhandled them that way either in a dream or vision.

Zawadi links to an article that he erroneously assumes rebuts the story of Muhammad contemplating suicide. For the thorough refutation of his assertions please consult the following articles (
1, 2).

These next responses deal with Zawadi’s inconsistent use and abuse of al-Waqidi (
1, 2).

Zawadi now seeks to defend Muhammad’s experiences by both attacking and appealing to the Holy Bible at the same time! He writes:

Quote: First of all, Shamoun assumes that his Bible is the true authentic word of God and is using it as a criterion to judge Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). This is something that he still needs to prove and not just assert.

In the first place, it is the Qur’an and Muhammad who assumed (correctly we might add) that the Holy Bible is the preserved Word of God which can and should be used to determine whether Muhammad is a false prophet:

And if thou (Muhammad) art in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto thee, then question those who read the Scripture (that was) before thee. Verily the Truth from thy Lord hath come unto thee. So be not thou of the waverers. S. 10:94

Here, the Qur’an clearly says that if a person (Muhammad included) has doubts concerning the revelation, i.e. s/he has questions concerning the contents of the Muslim scripture, then they are to consult with the Jews and Christians and their Book since they are the communities which the Qur’an recognizes as having an authoritative, divinely-revealed Scripture. It is at this point that we would expect the Qur’an to exhort individuals to consult the Muslim revelation as opposed to the previous Scripture, yet that is not what we see. More importantly, this verse would be absolutely meaningless if the author(s) had felt that the previous Scriptures were corrupted since such a witness would be suspect and could not provide any verification for anything that the Muslim book claims.

The following verses further substantiate that the author(s) of the Qur’an believed in the textual veracity and authority of the Holy Scriptures:

He has sent down upon you the Book with the truth, confirming what is between its/his hands (musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi), and He sent down the Torah and the Gospel before this, as guidance to the people, and He sent down the Salvation/Criterion (al-Furqan). As for those who disbelieve in God's signs, for them awaits a terrible chastisement; God is All-mighty, the Avenger. S. 3:3-4

Yet how will they make thee their judge seeing THEY HAVE the Torah, wherein is God's judgment, then thereafter turn their backs? They are not believers. Surely We sent down the Torah, wherein is guidance and light; thereby the Prophets who had surrendered themselves gave judgment for those of Jewry, as did the masters and the rabbis, following such portion of God's Book as they were given to keep and were witnesses to. So fear not men, but fear you Me; and sell not My signs for a little price. Whoso judges not according to what God has sent down - they are the unbelievers. And therein We prescribed for them: 'A life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and for wounds retaliation'; but whosoever forgoes it as a freewill offering, that shall be for him an expiation. Whoso judges not according to what God has sent down -- they are the evildoers…And We have sent down to thee the Book with the truth, confirming the Book that is between it’s/his hands and preserving/witnessing to it (musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi mina al-kitabi wa-muhayminan alayhi) S. 5:43-45, 48

Here, command is given to the Jews of Muhammad’s day to consult the Torah, the Book of God, since it contains God’s judgment. It even quotes a verse from that very Torah which helps us to identify it, a citation which can still be found today:

"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

Muhammad also praised a copy of the Torah which the Jews handed to him to consult concerning a legal matter

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Umar: A group of Jews came and invited the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) to Quff. So he visited them in their school. They said: AbulQasim, one of our men has committed fornication with a woman; so pronounce judgment upon them. They placed a cushion for the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) who sat on it and said: Bring the Torah. It was then brought. He then withdrew the cushion from beneath him and placed the Torah on it saying: I believed in thee and in Him Who revealed thee.
He then said: Bring me one who is learned among you. Then a young man was brought. The transmitter then mentioned the rest of the tradition of stoning similar to the one transmitted by Malik from Nafi'
(No. 4431)." (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 38,
Number 4434)

It is obvious from all of these citations that Muhammad believed that the Scriptures which the Jews and Christians possessed at his time were the preserved Word of God and could be consulted in order to see what God’s true emissaries taught concerning God, Christ, salvation, inspiration etc.

The Qur’an also attests that Jesus came to confirm and uphold the very Scriptures which were accessible to him at that time:

And he will teach him the Book, the Wisdom, the Torah, the Gospel, to be an apostle to the Children of Israel, "I have come to you with a sign from your Lord. I will create for you out of clay as the likeness of a bird; then I will breathe into it, and it will be a bird, by Allah’s leave. I will also heal the blind and the leper, and bring to life the dead, by Allah’s leave… Surely in that is a sign for you, if you are believers. And I confirm the Torah that is between my hands (Wa musaddiqan lima bayna yadayya mina al-tawrati), and to make lawful to you certain things that before were forbidden unto you. I have come to you with a sign from your Lord; so fear you God, and obey you me. S. 3:48-50

Sunni commentator Ibn Kathir explains that,
<the Tawrah and the Injil>. The Tawrah is the Book THAT ALLAH SENT DOWN TO MUSA, son of Imran, while the Injil is what Allah sent down to Isa, son of Maryam, peace be upon them, AND ISA MEMORIZED BOTH BOOKS…
<If you believe. And I have come confirming that which was before me of the Tawrah,> affirming the Tawrah AND UPHOLDING IT," (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged – Surat Al-Baqarah, Verse 253, to Surat An-Nisa, Verse 147, Abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, Lahore; March 2000, first edition], Volume 2, Parts 3, 4 & 5, pp. 163, 165;

Nor is this the only place where the Qur’an asserts that Jesus testified to authority and authenticity of the Holy Scriptures in his possession:

And in their footsteps we sent Jesus son of Mary confirming the Torah between his hands (musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi mina al-tawrati) and we gave to him the Gospel, wherein IS guidance and light, and confirming the Torah between his hands (wa musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi mina al-tawrati), as a guidance and an admonition to the pious. Let the People of the Gospel judge according to what God has sent down therein. Whoever does not judge according to what God has sent down, such are the rebellious. S. 5:46-47

And when Jesus son of Mary said, 'Children of Israel, I am indeed the Messenger of God to you, confirming the Torah that is between my hands (musaddiqan lima bayna yadayya mina al-tawrati), and giving good tidings of a Messenger who shall come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad.' Then, when he brought them the clear signs, they said, 'This is a manifest sorcery.' S. 61:6

Ibn Kathir wrote the following concerning Q. 5:46:

<'Isa, son of Maryam, confirming the Tawrah that had come before him,> meaning, he believed in it AND RULED BY IT…
<and confirmation of the Tawrah that had come before it,> meaning, HE ADHERED TO THE TAWRAH, except for the few instances that clarified the truth where the Children of Israel differed. Allah states in another Ayah that 'Isa said to the Children of Israel,… <…and to make lawful to you part of what was forbidden to you.>
So the scholars say that the Injil abrogated some of the rulings of the Tawrah… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged – Surat An-Nisa, Verse 148 to the end of Surat Al-An'am [January 2000, first edition], Volume 3, Parts 6, 7 & 8, pp. 193-194;

And here are his comments in respect to Q. 61:6:
‘Isa said, "The Tawrah conveyed the glad tidings of my coming, and my coming CONFIRMS THE TRUTH OF THE TAWRAH…" (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Volume 9, Surat Al-Jathiyah to the end of Surat Al-Munafiqun [September 2000, first edition], p. 617;

The Qur’an even claims that Jesus’ own holy mother, the blessed Mary, bore witness and believed the Scriptures in her possession

And Mary, Imran's daughter, who guarded her virginity, so We breathed into her of Our Spirit, and she confirmed the Words of her Lord and His Books, and became one of the obedient. S. 66:12

Hence, Jesus (as well as his blessed mother) memorized, confirmed, and adhered to the Scriptures, specifically the Torah, which were extant at his time. In light of the evidence furnished by the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) discovery in 1947, where ancient copies of the Hebrew Scriptures that were written before the time of Christ were found, we know for certain that Jesus was reading and testifying that the very Scriptures we possess today are the inspired, preserved Word of God since the DSS are virtual identical to the Hebrew Bible we currently possess.

Yet if Bassam still wishes to say that the Scriptures are corrupted then he must be consistent and accept that Allah did nothing to correct his messenger Jesus but commanded him to bear witness to Books which were not completely reliable and authentic

With the foregoing in view this means that when the Qur’an claims that Muhammad was inspired in the same way that the previous prophets were:

We have revealed to thee as We revealed to Noah, and the Prophets after him, and We revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, Jesus and Job, Jonah and Aaron and Solomon, and We gave to David Psalms, and Messengers We have already told thee of before, and Messengers We have not told thee of; and unto Moses God spoke directly -- S. 4:163-164

We are to consult the Scriptures to see if this is the case. When we do, however, it is clear that Muhammad was not inspired the way the true prophets and apostles were. No wonder Zawadi wants to desperately undermine the Qur’anic witness to the authority of God’s true Word, the Holy Bible, since he can clearly see the dilemma this poses for Muhammad’s credibility!

For a thorough refutation of Zawadi’s desperate and failed attempt to disprove that his own scripture and traditions confirm and accept the absolute authority of the Holy Bible we suggest reading the articles that are available at
this page.

We will be further addressing Zawadi’s weakening of the tradition of Sunan Abu Dawud where Muhammad praised and affirmed the Torah that was handed to him in our future response to his criticism (
*) that the Qur’an does not mistakenly quote a fable concerning Abraham being taken out of fire due to a misunderstanding on the meaning of the word Ur (1, 2, 3). In our rebuttal we will source the comments of one Muslim scholar who actually chides Zawadi for trying to discredit this specific narration.

Zawadi then claims that I am arguing from silence and further appeals to Daniel’s experience with Gabriel to justify Muhammad being demoralized and manhandled by a spirit. Since I have already thoroughly refuted Zawadi’s weak attempts of defending Muhammad’s spirit encounter by appealing to Daniel I will simply repost here what I have written in another rebuttal.

Zawadi keeps begging the question since he assumes that Muhammad saw Gabriel as opposed to a satanic counterfeit. What the citations from Daniel and Luke prove is that Muhammad did not see Gabriel since this righteous angel does not torture or demoralize God’s messengers. He encourages and helps them to cope with the task given to them by God.

As a final act of desperation Zawadi distorts Daniel 10:7-15 to support his case. He says:

So here we see that Daniel got terrified from his vision just like Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him did. We also see in verse 15 that Daniel had problems breathing. I believe that 'gasping for air' was one of the criteria that Shamoun put forth for someone being possessed by a demon while receiving revelation. So does Daniel fit the criteria as well? Or is Sam Shamoun being a hypocrite and only applying it to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)?


First, let us highlight the parts that Zawadi conveniently overlooked:

"In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a word was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshaz'zar. And the word was true, and it was a great conflict. And he understood the word and had understanding of the vision. In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks." Daniel 10:1-3

Notice that Daniel had been fasting for three weeks because he had been in mourning over what he had seen in a previous vision. This may explain why he was so weak and couldn’t stand up, that his weak physical condition along with seeing the angelic envoys accounts for his falling to the ground. Moreover, notice what the angel did for Daniel:

"On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, that is, the Tigris, I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with gold of Uphaz. His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the noise of a multitude. And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision, but a great trembling fell upon them, and they fled to hide themselves. So I was left alone and saw this great vision, and no strength was left in me; my radiant appearance was fearfully changed, AND I RETAINED NO STRENGTH. Then I heard the sound of his words; and when I heard the sound of his words, I fell on my face in a deep sleep with my face to the ground. And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. And he said to me, ‘O Daniel, man greatly beloved, give heed to the words that I speak to you, AND STAND UPRIGHT, for now I have been sent to you.’ While he was speaking this word to me, I stood up trembling. Then he said to me, ‘FEAR NOT, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your mind to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, so I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia and came to make you understand what is to befall your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.’ When he had spoken to me according to these words, I turned my face toward the ground and was dumb. And behold, one in the likeness of the sons of men touched my lips; then I opened my mouth and spoke. I said to him who stood before me, ‘O my lord, by reason of the vision pains have come upon me, and I retain no strength. How can my lord's servant talk with my lord? For now no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me.’ Again one having the appearance of a man touched me AND STRENGTHENED ME. And he said, ‘O man greatly beloved, FEAR NOT, PEACE BE WITH YOU; BE STRONG AND OF GOOD COURAGE.’ And when he spoke to me, I WAS STRENGTHED and said, ‘Let my lord speak, FOR YOU HAVE STRENGTHENED ME.’" Daniel 10:4-19

The foregoing shows that Daniel wasn’t terrified because he thought he was possessed by a demon, or because the angel squeezed him violently. In fact, instead of physically harming Daniel the angel relieved him of his fears and provided him with the strength he needed to endure the revelations.

Hence, unlike Muhammad’s angel, this messenger didn’t cause Daniel to tremble in fear or to run back to his companions shivering with dread and terror. Nor did this righteous angel cause Daniel to believe that he was possessed and cause him to contemplate suicide as a result.

In Muhammad’s case the spirit didn’t even console or comfort him
. Muhammad’s wife was the one who actually calmed him down and tried to convince him that he wasn’t possessed!

And: Secondly, Shamoun is arguing from silence. He thinks that just because his Bible does not mention these experiences then that necessarily implies that they didn't happen. Shamoun recently had a debate with Sami Zaatri on the topic, "Is Jesus God", which can be downloaded here. Sam Shamoun says in the 20th minute 10th second...
Your arguing from silence, right, and absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Now let me repeat that again. Now just because the documents do not say that he said "x" does not mean that he didn't say "x".
So notice, Shamoun is committing the same fallacy he accused Sami Zaatri of doing. There are many Prophets in the Old Testament that we do not know full and complete details about. Therefore, it would not be fair to say with conviction that they did not have the same experiences.


If anyone is guilty of a logical fallacy, it is Zawadi for committing the fallacy of false analogy. The Holy Bible is not silent on the nature and manner of revelation:

"In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world." Hebrews 1:1-2

The Holy Scriptures provide plenty of examples illustrating how God inspires humans, some of which include:

"And he said, ‘Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD make myself known to him in a vision, I speak with him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses; he is entrusted with all my house. With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in dark speech; and he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?’" Numbers 12:6-8

"In the year that King Uzzi'ah died I SAW the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!’ Then flew one of the seraphim to me, having in his hand a burning coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth, and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven.’ And I HEARD the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.’ And he said, ‘Go, and say to this people: "Hear and hear, but do not understand; see and see, but do not perceive." Make the heart of this people fat, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed."’" Isaiah 6:1-10

"And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit." 1 Corinthians 2:13

"First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." 2 Peter 1:20-21

"I John, your brother, who share with you in Jesus the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, ‘Write what YOU SEE in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Per'gamum and to Thyati'ra and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to La-odice'a.’" Revelation 1:9-11

Moreover, one way that God doesn’t inspire his representatives is to send a spirit to terrify or physically harm them. True believers are comforted and reassured when encountering the Divine or angelic entity. Several examples have already been provided in our initial rebuttal, and here we provide a few more:

"Then he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out for fear. But immediately he spoke to them, saying, ‘TAKE HEART, it is I; HAVE NO FEAR.’ And Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘O man of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’" Matthew 14:22-33

"And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Eli'jah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli'jah.’ He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.’ When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces, and were filled with awe. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘RISE, AND HAVE NO FEAR.’ And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only." Matthew 17:1-8

"Now after the sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Mag'dalene and the other Mary went to see the sepulchre. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘DO NOT BE AFRAID; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. Lo, I have told you.’ So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, ‘Hail!’ And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘DO NOT BE AFRAID; go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.’" Matthew 28:1-10

"When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand upon me, saying, ‘FEAR NOT, I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.’" Revelation 1:17-18

Thus, far from being silent the Holy Bible literally screams aloud that what Muhammad experienced wasn’t revelation from the true God. (

Zawadi also mentions that Muhammad saw Gabriel in his true form when receiving the so-called revelation, which is unlike Mary and Zechariah who saw Gabriel appear as a man. There are a couple of problems with this weak response. First, none of the allegedly sound narrations say that Gabriel appeared in his true form in Muhammad’s dream when he was meditating in the cave. So this is nothing more than a red herring.

, the same narrations say that Muhammad supposedly saw Gabriel appear as a man and even looked like one of Muhammad’s companions:

Narrated Abu Huraira: One day while Allah's Apostle was sitting with the people, a man came to him walking and said, "O Allah’s Apostle. What is Belief?" The Prophet said, "Belief is to believe in Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Apostles, and the meeting with Him, and to believe in the Resurrection." The man asked, "O Allah's Apostle What is Islam?" The Prophet replied, "Islam is to worship Allah and not worship anything besides Him, to offer prayers perfectly, to pay the (compulsory) charity i.e. Zakat and to fast the month of Ramadan." The man again asked, "O Allah's Apostle What is Ihsan (i.e. perfection or Benevolence)?" The Prophet said, "Ihsan is to worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you do not achieve this state of devotion, then (take it for granted that) Allah sees you." The man further asked, "O Allah's Apostle When will the Hour be established?"
The Prophet replied, "The one who is asked about it does not know more than the questioner does, but I will describe to you its portents. When the lady slave gives birth to her mistress, that will be of its portents; when the bare-footed naked people become the chiefs of the people, that will be of its portents. The Hour is one of five things which nobody knows except Allah. Verily, the knowledge of the Hour is with Allah (alone). He sends down the rain, and knows that which is in the wombs." (31.34) Then the man left. The Prophet said, "Call him back to me." They went to call him back but could not see him. The Prophet said, "That was Gabriel who came to teach the people their religion." (See Hadith No. 47 Vol 1) (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60,
Number 300)

And: Narrated Abu 'Uthman: I was informed that Gabriel came to the Prophet while Um Salama was with him. Gabriel started talking (to the Prophet). Then the Prophet asked Um Salama, "Who is this?" She replied, "He is Dihya (al-Kalbi)." When Gabriel had left, Um Salama said, "By Allah, I did not take him for anybody other than him (i.e. Dihya) till I heard the sermon of the Prophet wherein he informed about the news of Gabriel." The subnarrator asked Abu 'Uthman: From whom have you heard that? Abu 'Uthman said: From Usama bin Zaid. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 61,
Number 503)

, the assertion that Muhammad saw Gabriel in his true form not only begs the question, since it assumes that it was Gabriel he was actually seeing, but contradicts the Qur’an which says no one can see an angel’s true form (
*). So much for Zawadi’s points.

Zawadi argues that my response to his explanation of Q. 25:4-6 is a straw man. In so doing Zawadi ends up attacking a straw man of his own as well as distorting my point.

It seems like Shamoun is the one who is attacking strawman. I never said that "book" cannot be referring to scripture. Obviously scripture also comes under the category of "book" because scripture is in book form. What I said in my article was that it doesn't exclusively refer to scripture as Shamoun contended in his article
here. This is what Shamoun said:
The verse is not denying that Muhammad could read or write, but denying that Muhammad had read or written down an inspired Scripture prior to his receiving the Qur’a”
Here we see that Shamoun exclusively limits the meaning of the word "book" in the verse to mean only scripture. I argued back by saying:
There goes Shamoun again with his selective choice of translation. The Arabic word in the verse is kitab, which simply means "book" and no where does the context necessarily imply that it is referring to scripture.
So I was arguing back that the word "book" does not necessarily only refer to "scripture".

Zawadi’s response makes it obvious he didn’t understand my point at all. First, I never said that Zawadi believes that the word book cannot refer to inspired Scripture. So it is Zawadi who is attacking straw man.
, my point was that the Q. 29:48 could not be referring to anything other than a revealed Scripture in light of the context. Note, once again, what I initially wrote:

The problem with this proposed explanation is that that is not the plain reading of the text. The verse is not denying that Muhammad could read or write, but denying that Muhammad had read or written down an inspired Scripture prior to his receiving the Qur’an. In other words, the passage is simply saying that people couldn’t accuse Muhammad of making up the Qur’an by plagiarizing information that he had received from some holy book which he had read or wrote down, such as the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, since this Qur’an is the first so-called holy book that he has ever read and/or written.

Now let me provide some additional context from the text itself in order to substantiate my point:

Dispute not with the People of the Book save in the fairer manner, except for those of them that do wrong; and say, 'We believe in what has been sent down to us, and what has been sent down to you; our God and your God is One, and to Him we have surrendered.' Even so We have sent down to thee the Book. Those to whom We have given the Book believe in it; and some of these believe in it; and none denies Our signs but the unbelievers. Not before this didst thou recite any Book, or inscribe it with thy right hand, for then those who follow falsehood would have doubted. Nay; rather it is signs, clear signs in the breasts of those who have been given knowledge; and none denies Our signs but the evildoers. They say, 'Why have signs not been sent down upon him from his Lord?' Say: 'The signs are only with God, and I am only a plain warner. What, is it not sufficient for them that We have sent down upon thee the Book that is recited to them? Surely in that is a mercy, and a reminder to a people who believe. S. 29:46-51

The immediate context refers to the People of the Book, to the revelation that Allah sent down to the Muslims, Jews and Christians, and to those to whom the Book was given. It is therefore obvious that the objection which the Qur’an is raising is that Muhammad could not have concocted or plagiarized stories from the former Scriptures and wrote them in the Qur’an since he had never read any of the previously revealed Books nor transcribed any of them with his own hands. Thus, it must be revelation from Allah (as erroneous and mistaken this assertion is, since he didn’t need to have access to these inspired Books but only needed to hear them narrated orally).

The passage is simply reiterating the point made in another verse:

Even so We have revealed to thee a Spirit of Our bidding. Thou knewest not what the Book was, nor belief; but We made it a light, whereby We guide whom We will of Our servants. And thou, surely thou shalt guide unto a straight path -- S. 42:52

Hence, the verse in question isn't making the claim that Muhammad couldn't or didn't read a book beforehand but that he didn't read a revealed or inspired Scripture before the Qur’an.

Zawadi repeats, but fails to prove, that Q. 25:5 actually means that Muhammad caused the Qur’an to be written as opposed to writing it down himself. He completely and conveniently ignored all of my points which refuted his assertion. He then attacks another straw man:

Secondly, even though the Qur'an was written down that doesn't mean that every time someone recites the Qur'an that means he is reciting it from the Qur'an itself. Today we have the Qur'an written down in billions of books, but you can still have someone reciting it from memory. Existence of the Qur'an in book form does not necessitate that recitation must be done from a book. This is very weak reasoning from Shamoun.

Nor did I ever claim that every time that a person recites the Qur’an that this proves that they are reading from the book itself, so this is nothing more than a smokescreen. What I said was that all of the examples which we find in the Qur’an conclusively prove that Muhammad was actually reading from a book which he had access to, and not simply reciting words given to him.

Zawadi now tries to address all of the hadiths I sourced which conclusively prove that Muhammad was actually quite literate. What makes this rather amazing is that Zawadi does the very thing I anticipated that he would do, namely, argue that these narrations should be explained in light of Q. 29:48 and the report where Ali had to write on behalf of Muhammad, and therefore assume that Muhammad intended that scribes would write down his words for him. This response does nothing more than to beg the question since it assumes that his misreading of Q. 29:48 is correct, when it isn’t, and it further assumes that hadith collections are consistent which they are not.

It is evident to those who have not been taught that Muhammad was incapable of reading and writing that the reports where Islam’s prophet is portrayed as an illiterate were fabricated in order to provide further evidence for the so-called supernatural origin of the Qur’an. Yet the problem for Muslims such as Zawadi who have erroneously bought into this lie is that there is plenty of evidence from the Qur’an and multiple reports which clearly attest that Muhammad could read and write, and was also expected to read from the pages of the book:

Those who disbelieve among the People of the Scripture and the idolaters could not have left off till the clear proof came unto them, a messenger from Allah, reading scriptures kept pure and holy: Containing correct scriptures. S. 98:1-3

The most that Zawadi has proven at this point is that his sources are filled with irreconcilable contradictions, a fact that we already were aware of.

Thus, Zawadi has once again failed to refute our arguments and our points still stand uncontested. So much for Zawadi’s "rebuttal."

Continues on the Appendix



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