The Qur'an has other literary difficulties. "The subject matter within surahs jumps from one topic to the next, with duplications and inconsistencies in grammar, law, and theology," Rippin suggests. "The language is semi-poetical, while its grammar, due to omission, is so elliptical as to be obscure and ambiguous. There is grammatical discord such as the use of plural verbs with singular subjects, and variations in the treatment of the gender nouns (2:177; 3:59; 4:162; 5:69; 7:160; & 63:10). Many times sentences leave verbs out.
The Qur'an is replete with dangling modifiers. It has few explanations. Consequently the Qur'an is difficult to read and impossible to comprehend."
As an example, Qur'an 3:60 omits the words "This is." The verse begins: Qur'an 3:60 "the truth from your Lord, so be not from those who doubt." But it gets worse. The Arabic "word" used for "doubt" is "momtreen." It is not used anywhere else in the Arabic language except in this verse. Islamic Imams are clueless as to what momtreen means so the translators simply guessed "doubt." In Qur'an 7:160 "Fanbagesat" is a nonexistent, and thus meaningless word, as well.
Similarly, "al Sa'boon" in Qur'an 5:69 isn't a word. The only place it's used in all of the Arabic language is in this one verse. No one knows what al Sa'boon means. And there are a hundred more mystery "words" like these.
The oft-quoted and superficially tolerant verse: Qur'an 5:69 "Surely, those who believe and those who are Jews, Sabians and Christians, whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, and works good, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve," was abrogated. The Noble Qur'an says: "This verse should not be misinterpreted. It was abrogated by 3:85 [which is impossible since the 3rd surah was revealed before the 5th surah]. After the coming of Prophet Muhammad no other religion except Islam will be accepted from anyone."
An example of a grammatical error can be found in Qur'an 63:11. "Ethny Asher Asbatan" according to Arabic grammar rules should be: "Ethny Asher Sebtan" not "Asbatan." As it was written is says: "Allah will not delay in taking a soul in it is time." He meant to say: "when it dies."
These aren't the only problems. Patricia Crone points out: "Within blocks of verses trivial dislocations are surprisingly frequent. Allah may appear in the first and third persons in the same sentence. There are omissions, which if not made good by interpretation, render the sense unintelligible."
In response to these accusations, the theologian-grammarian al-Rummani argued that the ellipses and grammatical irregularities were really positive rhetorical devices rather than evidence of rushed or sloppy writing. It's another Islamic first: the Qur'an is so poorly written only god could have bungled it.
Muir discovered: "Al-Kindi, a Christian polemicist employed in the Caliphal court, had discussions with Muslims as early as
"Another difficulty with the Qur'an is scope. Some verses state that it is a book only for Arabs (surahs 14:4; 42:7; 43:3 & 46:12), while others imply it's a revelation for all mankind (34:28; 33:40). This also speaks to the problem of choosing Arabic. If God wanted to communicate to mankind in the seventh century, Greek or Latin would have been vastly superior choices.
According to Dr. Crone, "There were other people in existence at that time, who lived close by and have left us material which we can use to evaluate the Qur'an. The non-Muslim evidence is found in Greek, Syriac, Armenian, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Coptic literature from the time of the conquests in the seventh century onwards," Nevo shares, "We also have a large body of Arabic inscriptions, which pre-date the Muslim Traditions. Yet, these materials all contradict the Islamic Hadith and Qur'an." This evidence is particularly troubling. If Muslims wish to save Islam, they will need to come up with a ready defense. Attacking the messenger and putting their heads in the sand will not suffice.
Patricia Crone discovered: "A papyrus dated
"According to archaeological research carried out by Creswell and Fehervari, the floor-plans of the Umayyad mosques in Iraq, one built by the governor Hajjaj in Wasit (the oldest surviving mosque), and another attributed to roughly the same period near Baghdad, have Qiblahs (the direction the mosques face to accommodate prayer) which do not point to Mecca, but are oriented to the north. The Wasit and
As an interesting aside, Hajjaj (Al Hajjaj Ibn Yoseef Althaqafi) was one of the most brutal Islamic governors, even by Muslim admission. He appointed Kora Ibn Shoreek Alasady as his correspondent in
Returning to the misaligned Qiblahs, Baladhuri testifies: "The Qiblah of the first mosque in
"We find further corroboration for this direction of prayer by the Christian traveler Jacob of
"The Ka'aba Jacob of
This is devastating for Islam. If there is no historical or archeological evidence for the existence of a seventh century Qur'an ordaining Mecca, or even a seventh century Mecca, what is left of Muhammad and Islam besides blood, taxes, fables, and folklore?
"New research carried out by Patricia Carlier on the Umayyad Caliphal summer palaces notes that the mosques at these palaces also had Qiblahs pointing towards
"According to Crone, Cook, Carlier, and Hawting, the combination of the archaeological evidence from Iraq along with the literary evidence from Syria and Egypt points unambiguously to a sanctuary in Jerusalem, not Mecca. So why is there such a glaring discrepancy between the Qur'an and that which archaeology has revealed, especially as late as
"Muslims argue that perhaps the early Muslims didn't know the direction of
Muslims maintain that
"From research carried out by Crone and Cook, the first and only pre-Islamic allusion to a town some have mistakenly thought was Mecca is a reference to a city called 'Makoraba' by the Greco-Egyptian geographer Ptolemy in the mid-2nd century A.D. Though it appears that this citation by Ptolemy didn't actually refer to Mecca, because the three Arabic root letters for Mecca (MKK) do not correspond with the three Arabic root letters for Makoraba (KRB), as the letters 'ma,' which precede 'koraba,' signify 'the place of.' With that report thereby discredited, there is absolutely no other mention of
"The next allusion to
For Muslims, the dilemma only gets worse. Their "scriptures" fall apart at the seams if
Trying to salvage their illusion, Muslims the world over steadfastly maintain that
His findings are corroborated by the research of Groom and Muller, who contend that
Patricia Crone, in her Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam, adds a practical reason which is too often overlooked. "Mecca was a barren place, and barren places do not make natural halts. This is especially true when there are famously green environments close by. Why should caravans have made a steep descent into the barren
"Furthermore," Crone says, "there was no commodity available in Arabia that could be transported such a distance, through such an inhospitable environment, and still be sold at a profit large enough to support the growth of a city in a peripheral site bereft of natural resources." Dr. Crone points out: "Some Muslims maintain it was camel herding; yet that's not possible in a barren environment." Jay Smith agreed: "According to the latest research by Kister and Sprenger, the Arabs engaged in the trade of leather and clothing; hardly items which could have founded a commercial empire of international dimensions. Moreover,
"The Greek and Roman trade between
"There were other problems as well. Greco-Roman trade collapsed by the third century A.D., so that by Muhammad's time there simply was no overland route, and no Roman market to which the trade was destined. Of even more significance, the Romans and Greeks to whom the trade went, had never heard of a place called
Crone says: "Greek trading documents refer to the towns of Ta'if (which is close to present-day
We are left in a quandary. If Mecca was not the great commercial center the Muslim Traditions would have us believe, if it was not known by the people who lived and wrote from that period, and, if it could not even qualify as a city during the time of Muhammad, it certainly could not have been the center of the Muslim world, much less Allah's world. What city, therefore, was? The answer is not difficult to guess. It seems
"In the center of
"Yet according to the research carried out on the inscriptions by Van Berchem and Nevo, the earliest dated writings in the edifice say nothing of the Mi'raj, but relate merely polemical quotations which are somewhat Qur'anic, and aimed primarily at Christians. In defense, Muslims are quick to point out that both surahs 17:1 and 2:143, which speak of the 'inviolable place' and the 'change of Qiblah,' can be found on the inscriptions on the drum of the dome and the doorway facing south. But they would do well to read the history of those inscriptions. What they will find is that neither are original, nor are they old. The entire dome was rebuilt by al Zaher Li-L'zaz in
Van Berchem and Nevo attest: "The earliest inscriptions speak of the Messianic status of Jesus, the acceptance of prophets, Muhammad's receipt of revelation, and the use of the terms 'Islam' and 'Muslim.' It must be noted, however, that even their early dates are in doubt due to a different design attributed to the supporting pillars from an account by the Persian Nasir Khusran in
"If the sanctuary was built to commemorate such an important event in the history of the prophet's life (the Mi'raj), why don't any of the earliest inscriptions refer to it? They don't mention the Night's Journey, Heaven, the Winged Buraq, nor Abraham, Moses, Gabriel, or Allah. There isn't even a mention of the required five prayers, which was the purpose of the event. How can this be rationalized?"
Driving home his point, Jay Smith said, "The best explanation is that the story of the Mi'raj either didn't exist or wasn't known at this time, but was redacted later on during the Abbasid period. This becomes apparent when one realizes that the idea of five prayers also emanated from this time. The only Qur'anic references to prayer occur in suras 11:114; 17:78; 20:130; and 30:17, and they require three, not five prayers. If the Qur'an is from Allah, why doesn't he know how many prayers a Muslim is required to perform? And why, if the Dome of the Rock were built to commemorate that momentous event, does it say nothing about it until a 1,000 years later?
"It's obvious this building was originally constructed for purposes other than commemorating the Mi'raj. The fact that such an imposing structure was built so early suggests that this was deemed to be Allah's House and therefore the center of the Islamic world up until at least the dawn of the eighth century. From what we read earlier of Muhammad's intention to fulfill his and Ishmael's birthright, by taking back the land of Abraham - Israel - it makes sense that Abd al-Malik would build this structure as the centerpiece of that fulfillment. Is it no wonder then, that when Abd al-Malik built the dome in which he proclaimed the prophetic mission of Muhammad, he placed it over the temple rock itself. [Actually he built it upon the foundation of the
"According to Islamic Tradition, the Caliph Suleyman, who reigned as late as
Having seen three of Islam's four most enduring symbols vanish, we are about to lose the fourth. Apart from the Sunnah, Muhammad is yet another mirage. "The earliest Islamic documents," according to Dr. John Wansbrough, "say nothing of Muhammad's prophethood. The Maghazi, stories of his battles and campaigns, are the earliest Islamic documents we possess. Yet they tell us little about Muhammad's life or teachings. In fact, nowhere in these documents is there a veneration of Muhammad as a prophet!" The earliest comprehensive history of Muhammad's life, Ishaq's Sira steadfastly refrains from calling Muhammad a "prophet," too.
"In order to know who Muhammad was, and what he did, we must, therefore, go back to the time he lived, and look at the evidence which existed then, and still exists, to see what it can tell us about this infamous figure. The most prolific artifacts are Arabic rock inscriptions scattered all over the Syro-Jordanian deserts and the Peninsula, especially in the
Nevo found: "In the Arab religious documents during the Sufyani period [661-684] there is a complete absence of any reference to Muhammad. Neither the name Muhammad nor any Muhammadan formulae (that he is the prophet of Allah) appears in any inscription dated before the Dome of the Rock - and even those are dubious. This is true whether the purpose of the inscription is religious, or whether it was used as a commemorative carving."
Muhammad's name is absent from all seventh century inscriptions, even religious ones. Since the Sira, Ta'rikh, and Hadith, which make up the Sunnah, are almost entirely narratives on the prophet's life, making him the example all Muslims must follow, why don't we find this same emphasis in earlier Arabic inscriptions which are closer to the time he lived? Even more troubling, why is there no mention of him at all? His name isn't found in Arab inscriptions until the eighth century. What's more, the first dated occurrence of the phrase "Muhammad Rasul Allah" (Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah) was discovered on an Sassanian coin of Xalid from the year 690, which was struck in
The first occurrence of what Nevo calls the "'Triple Confession of Faith,' which includes the Tawhid (Allah is one), the phrase, Muhammad Rasul Allah, and the denial of the Messiah's divinity (Rasul Allah Wa-Abduhu), is in
Nevo explains, "Religious content on rock inscriptions does not become pronounced until after
"The Muhammadan formulae only began to be used on rock inscriptions of the
The terms "Muslim" and "Islam" are also an enigma. While the Qur'an says in surah 33:35, that the faithful were Muslims and their religion was Islam, neither term was used until the late seventh century. According to Crone and Cook: "Islam and Muslim in the sense of 'submission' and 'one who submits' was borrowed from the Samaritans. The verb aslama has cognates in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Syriac, but whereas neither Jewish nor Christian literature provides satisfactory precedent for the Islamic usage, we find exact parallels in the Memar Marqah, which is the most important Samaritan text of the pre-Islamic period. The sense of submission can readily be seen as intended to differentiate the Hagarene covenant from Judaism."
While hunting for archeological inscriptions, Cook found: "The quotations from the Qur'an on both the 690 coin and Dome of the Rock differ from that which we find in today's Qur'an." Van Berchem and Grohmann are etymologists who have done extensive research on the Dome inscriptions. They maintain: "The earliest contain variant verbal forms, extensive deviances, as well as omissions from the current Qur'anic text. If these inscriptions had been derived from the Qur'an, the variants they contain prove that the Qur'an could not have been canonized prior to the late seventh century."
These sources also seem to suggest that the Qur'an was put together rather hurriedly. Dr. John Wansbrough reports, "The book is strikingly lacking in overall structure, frequently obscure and inconsequential in both language and content, perfunctory in its linking of disparate materials, and given to the repetition of whole passages in variant versions. On this basis it must be argued that the book is the product of the belated and imperfect editing of materials from a plurality of traditions."
I believe the reason is obvious. Muhammad's companions plundered the world on verbal instructions. And the next two generations of Muslims were too busy wielding swords and accumulating booty to be bothered with scripture. But then things settled down. The war capital of Islam moved to the more civil city of
Crone and Cook say, "It was under governor Hajjaj of
"All these findings give us good reason to question the authority of the Qur'an as the word of God. Archaeology, as well as documentary and manuscript evidence indicates that much of what the Qur'an maintains does not coincide with the factual data at our disposal. From the material amassed from external sources in the seventh and eighth centuries, we can conclude: that the Qiblah was initially toward Jerusalem and not fixed toward Mecca until the eighth century; that the Dome of the Rock was the first Islamic shrine; that Muhammad was not classified as Allah's prophet until the late seventh century; that the terms Muslim and Islam were not used until the end of the seventh century; that five daily prayers as well as the Hajj were not standardized until the eighth century; that the earliest Qur'an does not appear until the mid-eighth century; and that the earliest Qur'anic writings do not coincide with the current text." Besides that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?
"All scientific, historical, and archeological data contradicts the Qur'an. The ramifications of this assertion are astounding indeed. Whichever way one chooses to interpret the facts, they leave no doubt that the Qur'an was the product of an evolving revelation, canonized during the early Abbasid period towards the mid to end of the eighth century, in what is today Iraq." It gives an altogether different insight into Revelation's "Whore of
"Wansbrough takes the position that the Qur'an was compiled even later than the Hadith, and was used as an authoritative stamp to authenticate later rites and laws by those who were responsible for imposing Islam. If he is correct, then one would wonder whether Muhammad would even recognize the Qur'an which we possess today."
Jay Smith concluded by quoting Wansbrough: "Readers are faced with many structural and literary difficulties which bode ill for a document claiming to be the final and perfect word of God. We are presented with spurious Biblical accounts, which parallel known second century heretical Talmudic and Apocryphal documents. And while we wonder how these very human documents found their way into a supposedly non-human scripture, we are introduced to scientific peculiarities which have also found their way into its pages. These problems all point away from a divine authorship and toward a more plausible explanation: the Qur'an is simply a collection of disparate sources borrowed from surrounding pieces of literature, folk tales, and oral traditions present during the seventh and eighth centuries, and accidentally grafted in by unsuspecting later compilers of the Abbasid period."
Continues on Part IV