Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Qur’an only? Part One

”An interesting discussion with Ali Sina”

PROF P A WAHID is a soil scientist specialized in radioisotope-aided research with trees. He has held several high positions in Kerala Agricultural University and Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment. He has published over a hundred research papers mostly in international journals of repute, besides four books. He also has two research papers to his credit in the religio-science area. A recipient of several awards, he is also an elected Fellow of National Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

Prof. Pallacken Abudl Wahid is the author of several books including The Computer Universe and the founder of A couple of months ago he wrote saying he believed most allegations made by me against Muhammad are based on hadith and that he would like to show that my basis of criticizing his prophet is fallacious. He then wrote a rebuttal but I could not respond to him till now. I offer my sincere apologies to him for this delay. Below is his rebuttal and my response.

I have discussed this subject on many occasions. I am interested to debate on Prof. Wahid’s specialty, i.e. Science in Islam. I hope we end this subject soon and move to what interests both of us.

I also invite Prof. Wahid to publish our debate in his site.

P. A. Wahid pawahid @

Wahid: Ahadith (pl. of hadith) are supposed to be the sayings and traditions of Prophet Muhammad, collected and compiled by some imams and scholars. When I say “sayings and traditions reported as ahadith”, I do not mean those sayings and traditions of Prophet Muhammad as per the Qur’anic directions for which compilation is not required; the Qur’an itself is sufficient. But my reference is to those sayings and traditions that are not consistent with the Qur’an or not found in the Qur’an.

I do not accept hadith literature because Allah has not mentioned in the Qur’an that there is another source of guidance in Islam other than the Qur’an. The Qur’an reiterates at several places that it is the source of guidance (Q. 2:2 for example).

2:2 This is the Book. No doubt about it. It is guidance to the God-conscious,

Further if ahadith were a source of guidance in Islam, Allah would have directed Prophet Muhammad to prepare and preserve them rather than leaving the job to posterity. Prophet Muhammad would have dictated the matter to some of his companions and they would have recorded the sayings and traditions in the form of a document as additional source of guidance in Islam. But what we find is neither Prophet Muhammad nor his immediate caliphs (Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali) did it. This fact confirms that Allah had not prescribed any source of guidance other than the Qur’an in Islam.

Secondly the question of ahadith doesn’t arise at all because Prophet Muhammad was directed by God to follow only the Qur’an in his life and the life of Prophet Muhammad was fully in accordance with Allah’s guidance. The directions given in the Qur’an formed the traditions of Prophet Muhammad. See what the Qur’an says:

6:50 Say: “I do not tell you that the treasures of Allah are with me. And I do not know the unseen nor do I tell you I am an Angel. I follow only what is transmitted to me.” Ask (them) whether the blind and the one with eyesight are alike? Will you not then think over?

6:51 With this (Qur’an), you warn those who fear that they will be brought before their Lord (for judgement). They have no protector or intercessor besides Him. Let them fear Allah.

45:18 Subsequently We put you (O Prophet Muhammad) on the (right) religious course. So you follow that (i.e., the Qur’an) and do not follow the lusts of those who have no knowledge.

46:9 Say: “I am not new among the apostles and I do not know what will be done with me or with you. I follow only what is transmitted to me and I am none other than a clear warner.”

33:2 And follow what is communicated to you from your Lord. Verily, Allah knows well what you do.

So Prophet Muhammad followed only the Qur’anic revelations. And his life is a model for the believers. Prophet Muhammad can be best described as “living Qur’an”.

33:21 You have indeed a good model in the messenger of Allah; (that is,) for those anticipating (the meeting with) Allah and the Final Day and who remember Allah very much.

This verse describes Prophet Muhammad a good model because his life was a practical demonstration of the Qur’anic directions. He practised only what was conveyed to him by Allah – that is, the Qur’an. That being the truth what makes us to think there are things which he had done as part of Islam that are not given in the Qur’an? What I drive home is the point that if anybody had followed Prophet Muhammad closely in his time and recorded how he lived, the document so made would have been a true reflection of the Qur’anic revelations.

Sina: If the verse 33:21 says Muhammad is a good model it means Muslims are supposed to follow his example. How can they do that if they don’t know how he lived? The details of Muhammad’s life are reported in the hadith and not in the Qur’an. While those who lived during the time that Muhammad was alive could learn from his examples, those who were born later had no other choice but to learn the stories narrated about him by his companions. Therefore, to follow verse 33.21 one has to know the hadith.

Furthermore, there are many practices of Islam that are essential but they are not in the Qur’an. All the details of prayers, fasting, hajj, which are pillar of Islam are in the hadith. You cannot practice Islam if you disregard the hadith.

Also all the details of the history of Islam are recorded in the hadith. It is only by studying the hadith that we can know about Muhammad’s lineage, his life history, his companion, his conquests and the how Islam expanded. Hadith is history of Islam. That is basically what hadith means. You cannot separate any person form his history. While the history of Jesus and Moses are also recorded in the Bible, along with their teachings, this is not the case with the Qur’an. The Pentateuch is the narration of the life of Moses and the Gospels are the narrations of the life of Jesus. In these books you can find both the teachings and the history of these two prophets. That is why these books are self sufficient. The Qur’an is believed to be the word of God which contains to narration about the life of the prophet that is allegedly conveyor of those words. That is why the hadith is indispensible in Islam. Without it Islam makes no sense. Can you tell me anything about the life of Muhammad and the practices of Islam without referring to the hadith? You can’t.

I agree that the ahadith should not be taken as the source of guidance (…) but they are the only source of the history of Islam. It is simply impossible to disregard them.

Wahid: Hadith literature: Prophet Muhammad’s traditions are those given in the Qur’an itself. He didn’t have any other tradition. If he had other traditions, he would not have been projected as good model in the Qur’an. Therefore any report of his tradition not compatible with the directions of Allah in the Qur’an is false.

Sina: This is an unsubstantiated statement. Let us say I claim to be a prophet. In order to fool people I will preach good things that they find agreeable. But since I am a conman and a liar, I will live a very immoral life. My words and my deeds contradict each other. I tell others to be honest while I enrich myself by stealing the wealth of others. I preach not to have sex out of marriage, but I rape women that I capture in my raids. I tell others that killing is wrong, whereas I massacre thousands of innocent people who do not believe in me. If you read my book of revelations you’ll find good teachings, but if you read the story of my life reported by my own followers you’ll see I was a very evil man. Should you then disregard the stories reported about me by my own devout followers and only listen to my good preaching? You certainly won’t get the whole truth from my words. To know the truth about any person you have to also listen to the testimony of others about that person. No criminal will confess to his crime, but the judge will also listen to the testimony of people who know him.

I agree that some people could be malicious and may falsely incriminate an innocent person. But most certainly this is not the case when the testimonies come from people who love the accused. The hadiths are full of stories of Muhammad’s crimes. Those hadiths are narrated and collected by devout Muslims. Can you tell us why believers would falsely accuse their own beloved prophet of all sorts of crimes? I can understand when believers lie to attribute miracles to their prophet, but why would they falsely attribute all sorts of crimes to him?

The crimes of Muhammad reported in the hadith are not a few but they are mutewather, i.e. repeated in several hadiths. Even though they may vary in details, which is normal, they are consistent and since they come to us from different chains of narrations, who at times did not even talk to each other, we are left with no choice than to accept the stories of the crimes of Muhammad as true. The miracles attributed to him, however, are not true. Muhammad himself said in the Qur’an that he did not perform any miracle.

Wahid: Defying this fact, some imams and scholars compiled certain reports labeling them as Prophet Muhammad’s sayings and traditions. No person had been authorized to do that by Allah nor was it necessary. When somebody sets out after the death of Prophet Muhammad and his four close companions (the caliphs) to find out the traditions of Muhammad and comes up with reports not in conformity with the Qur’anic directives, is it not justifiable to conclude that such an attempt was made with ulterior motive to malign Islam? Thus we find in ahadith sayings and traditions supposed to be Prophet Muhammad’s quite contradictory to what Allah conveyed through the Qur’an. For a sample, let me give a couple of them. Allah prescribed 100 whippings as punishment to each adulterer (Q. 24:2-9) but hadith says that Prophet Muhammad had recommended that punishment only in the case of the unmarried. The punishment for adultery he prescribed for a married person is stoning until death (Sahih Bukhari, Book 78:629; Book 82:806. Accessed 28-3-09). Many Muslim countries have adopted this as Islamic shariat and implemented. Acceptance of this hadith has so far led to the death of many Muslims in several countries. Another example is, in the Qur’an Allah directs us to spend in charity what is left after one’s requirement (Q. 2:219) but hadith prescribes zakat at different rates for different assets (Sahih Bukhari, Book 24:534. Accessed 28-3-09). There are several such sayings and traditions reported in ahadith as Muhammad’s. The question here is whether Prophet Muhammad would change Allah’s order? Prophet Muhammad will never utter a word or act against the word of Allah (i.e., the Qur’an). This is clearly reminded in the Qur’an.

17:73 They are almost ready to put you (i.e., Prophet Muhammad) in trouble over what We had transmitted to you (by asking) you to fabricate in Our name something other than the (Qur’an) in which case they will accept you as a friend.

17:74 And had We not made you stand firm, you would have certainly swayed a little towards them.

17:75 In that case We would have made you taste double (punishment) in this life and double (punishment) at death. Thereafter, you would not have found anyone to defend you against Us!

10:15 But when Our clear verses (i.e., the Qur’an) are recited to them, those who do not anticipate meeting with Us would say: “Bring a Qur’an other than this or alter this.” Say: “I (i.e., Prophet Muhammad) cannot change it on my own accord. I only follow what is conveyed to me. Indeed I fear the penalty of a great Day if I disobey my Lord.”

Very clearly Allah had not given permission or power to Prophet Muhammad (for that matter to any other messenger of Allah’s) to change (add, delete or modify) Allah’s revelations. Islam is entirely Allah’s religion formulated solely by Him with no contribution from any of His creations.

Sina: There are many contradictions between the Qur’an and hadith. However there are also many contradictions within the Qur’an itself. You can find a short list of them here. Islam is a religion of contradictions. It is a religion concocted by Muhammad who sometimes forgot what he said a few years ago or changed his mind as situation dictated. All those verses that you quoted are made up by Muhammad himself and attributed to his hidden alia to fool the gullible. In my book ‘Understanding Muhammad,’ I have shown clearly that Muhammad is the author of the Qur’an, and not God.

In my debate with Mr. Javed Ahmad Ghamidi and his disciple Dr. Kalid Zaheer I showed clearly how Muhammad in several verses said God does not accept intercession and in many other verses he said that he is going to intercede for his followers. At one place he said that no other prophet but him has this power, and in another place he said that even ordinary Muslims are given permission to intercede. The contradiction is so obvious that a scholar so great like Mr. Ghamidi could not resolve it. If there are contradictions between the Qur’an and hadith is no surprise to me.

However, I even give you the benefit of the doubt and accept that all those hadiths that contradict the Qur’an are false. There are countless other hadiths that are incriminatory of Muhammad that are NOT in contradiction with the Qur’an but rather confirmed by it.

The truth is that we do not need to resort to hadith to find out that Muhammad was a criminal and a charlatan. We can find that out from the Qur’an alone.

Wahid: Methodology adopted for documenting ahadith: Let us examine the methodology adopted by the compilers of the so-called sayings and traditions of Prophet Muhammad. Ali Sina has briefly mentioned it. It was said that the compilers independently collected the reports from far and near. Then they independently formulated criteria to judge the authenticity of the reports in order to identify the “genuine” (“sahih” in Arabic) ones. Some of the compilers were contemporaries, but yet they did not come to a consensus on the criteria for identifying the true sayings or traditions of the prophet. Whether the exercise is warranted at all as the Qur’an does not mention any such thing, is the question that remains unaddressed and unanswered even today. Some of the known facts about hadith documentation are:

a) It was said that there were over ten hundred thousands of reports collected by a compiler (an imam or a scholar who did the compilation). From this huge collection, the compiler came down to 4000 to 6000 as authentic reports based on the criteria he applied. It was said there were several repetitions of the reports in the collection. Even if we allow a 50% margin for repetitions, the situation would not have changed much – 4000 to 6000 selected reports came from five hundred thousand reports. In other words 99 out of every 100 reports were spurious! In the normal course, a scientist (or a rational person) would have rejected the entire product as bogus because of the sheer volume of the spurious reports in the lot.

The huge figure of the collected reports also implies that a day of Prophet Muhammad’s life (23 years) had generated on an average 60 reports as his sayings or traditions. Impossible by any yardstick! It is from such a collection of questionable reports, the so-called ‘sahih’ (or authentic) ahadith were born.

Sina: Exaggeration is part of the mental makeup of the Middle Eastern people and Bukhari was a Persian. This collector of hadith bragged that he collected one million hadiths. But no one took that number literally. What he intended to say, and everybody understood, is that there were ‘many’ other hadiths that he rejected on the ground that they were weak.

Let’s take a look at the size of the hadiths. They range between one paragraph long to three or four pages. The collector had to meet the narrators in person; they exchange greetings and maybe sipped tea together. Then the collector pulled out his pen, ink and paper and wrote down what the narrator said. How many hadiths on average a person can collect in this way? Let us say on average each hadith will take one hour to write down. People did not use computers and word processors in those days. So writing was slow and they had to be corrected and then classified. The collector had to also stop for eating and performing prayers. Let us say he was dedicated to his work and spent ten hours every day working on their collections. In reality we know that Bukhari was an imam and that is how he made a living. So collecting the hadith was not his main occupation. Assuming he did nothing else, but writing hadith, in one day he could not have collected more than ten hadiths. We’re also assuming that the narrators were lining up to report their stories and there was no waste of time, which of course cannot be true. Let us say Bukhari six days per week. Friday he rested, went to bath and to perform his Jum’a prayer. So in one week he could not have collected more than 60 hadith. In one year, assuming this guy never took any vacations, never got sick, never had any social life, he could not have collected more than 3000 hadiths. Bukhari lived 60 years. If he did this for thirty years, all he could have collected were 90,000 hadiths. To collect one million hadigth at such an impossible rate, he had to live 400 years. To be realistic he could not have collect more than a few hundred hadiths per year. So in his lifetime he may have collected no more than eight to ten thousand hadiths of which he kept 3000 and rejected the rest. You are clinging to any straw in order to prove your point. If only you pause and analyze what you say, you’d see that it does not add up.

Your reasoning is based on a logical fallacy. You assume that since many hadith are forgeries then all of them should be thrown out. Would you throw out all your money in the garbage if by accident they are mixed with a lot of counterfeit money? Of course not! You’d try to find the good money and separate them from the counterfeit money. That is why the mohadetheen established a criterion to accept which hadiths are sahih and which ones are not.

Furthermore, there is a lot of consistency in the books of hadith. Once you read them you can get a fairly accurate picture of Muhammad that is a lot clearer than what you can learn about Jesus and Moses by reading the Bible.

The fact that you are embarrassed of what the hadith say about Muhammad is a good thing, but your desire to hide that dirt under the carpet is not honest. It is time for Muslims to wake up and accept the bitter truth that Muhammad was a very evil man, and that the unflattering reports of his followers about him are not lies. There is no reason for believers to lie about their prophet and depict him as a villain. Those stories are true. Yes, Muhammad was just as despicable as the hadiths portray him. Can you please tell us why in the world people who loved Muhammad would invent false stories to portray him as a criminal? What happened to the true hadiths? Why there are no hadiths portraying Muhammad as a kind and forgiving person? Muslims these days are so desperate to find a good story to attribute to Muhammad that they have plagiarized a story that Bahais tell about their prophet Abdul Baha:

The story is that Abdul Baha, who was exiled to Akka used to be abused by an old Arab Muslima every time he passed in front of her house. Then for a few days he noticed that she has disappeared. Upon enquiring he was told that the old woman is sick. The story then says that Abdul Baha visited her and showed her kindness.

Muslims have plagiarized this story and say a Jewish woman used to abuse Muhammad until she got sick, and recount the rest of the story as above.

You find this story everywhere on the Internet but not in any hadith.

It is not a true story. Muhammad ordered the assassination of Asma bint Marwar a Jewess mother of five small children for merely composing a poem critical of him. The story circulating on Islamic sites is inconsistent with other stories about Muhammad. However it is consistent with how believers love to portray their prophet as a holy man. But believers do not depict their prophet as a monster. Will you then explain why all the Muslims were lying about their prophet to make him look like a beast?

If you deny the hadiths, it is because you are delusional.

Wahid: b) The criteria used for identification of the authentic reports by the compilers were far from satisfactory. They included mostly criteria to judge the trustworthiness of the reporters such as whether the reporter was a liar, etc. Such criteria are irrelevant and not required at all. The only criterion required for authentication of the reports is their consistency with the Qur’an because whatever Prophet Muhammad had said or done is in accordance with Allah’s directions given in the Qur’an (Q. 45:18; 46:9). Therefore, if a report is in conformity with the Qur’anic direction, it can be accepted. It is immaterial whether the reporter was a liar or not. Unfortunately, the compilers had not included the most important criterion of consistency with the Qur’an in their methodology. This led to the following problems.

Sina: The majority of hadiths are consistent with the Qur’an.

Continues on Part Two



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