This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Applying common sense to the Quranic revelation If God were to speak, what would he say. Would his words be sublime, beautiful, logical, or expressive? What would his voice sound like? Would it be like rolling thunder or like a still small voice? What would our reaction be? Would we be filled with joy or fear, humility or worship? Would we bow, leap, kneel or fall? Then again, if God were to put his thoughts into words, in the form of a book, for the benefit of mankind, what would be written in it? How would it be written; with ornate prose or simple truth? Would contain history and science, or would it handle purely spiritual matters? Then again, consider that God might write one book – a manual, as it were – containing everything that we needed to live God’s way. What might be written in such a book, which would have to contain everything we could possibly need for life? We could only imagine what God’s voice would sound like or what he would say. Our imaginings would, undoubtedly, be a very dim reflection of the reality. We could not nearly anticipate the precise revelation in all its detail; much of it – the style and content - would be unexpected. However, our imaginations are not completely useless; they can serve as a commonsense guide as to what could possibly be a true revelation and what could not possibly be a true revelation. Let us, therefore, have our wits about us as we proceed, and bear in mind continually, whether we think God would reveal Himself in one way or another. (As you go, you may want to put a tick and a cross (in the spaces provided) where you feel it is appropriate.) 1. CLEAR OR OBSCURE? Would God’s revelation be clear, or obscure? Well, obviously, the purpose of God’s speaking is to be understood, unless God is a cosmic joker. Thus, any revelation would most probably be plain and easy to understand. Thus, FIRST, we should not expect to find entirely random letters at the beginning of a surah (“al-huruf al-muqatta’at”; “the disjointed letters” are traditionally held to be the the initials of the scribes that wrote them, although there is absolutely no evidence for this conclusion.) However, this is what we find in the Koran. SECOND, we would not expect that some of the revelation was for only God to understand. If it is for God to understand, then why give it to us? I am not here speaking about something that God does, like letting a child die from sickness, which is difficult to understand. I am speaking about language being used in such a way that no meaning can be discerned, except highly speculative attempts to decipher the verses. Yet the Quran is filled with verses and entire surahs which are meant for God alone to understand. 1 Traditional scholarship, and Muslim tradition has given these inextricable verses their own category; they are called “allegorical” (as opposed to “categorical”). Clear Obscure
2. COHERENT OR DISJOINTED? (Along the same lines) would God’s revelation be coherent or disjointed; in a logical order, or scattered and (apparently) disorganized? Here, again, we must confess, that, were God to
Farid Esack, The Quran Irrefutable.firstname.lastname@example.org
speak, it would be ill befitting for him to do so in a disorganized way, as though his mind were scattered and messy. Yet in the Qur’an we find precisely the opposite: the arrangement, as a whole, is not in order of time or subject. Did God intend this? Moreover, the problem is that even within each surah topics are often jumbled or repeated wholesale. Narrative texts, liturgical texts, exhortations, and injunctions are all mingled together. 2 Does this reflect the wisdom of the deity? Would the final revelation be confused and disorderly? Muslim’s believe that all God’s revelations are written on a heavenly tablet (85:22). The heavenly tablet, we must assume, was written in a coherent, orderly way. Why, then, did God give it to Mohammad in a disorderly way, in the incorrect order, and why did God allow it to be collated in the incorrect order? It is more likely that there was no heavenly tablet, or that the Quran is not a record of what it written on it. Coherent Disjointed
3. BEAUTIFUL OR TRUTHFUL? Would you expect this final revelation to be more beautiful or truthful? Surely, a thing can be beautiful and truthful simultaneously, but which do you think it would prioritize, if there had to be a choice between the two? Of course, if there where any trade-off between the two, then truth would have to be prioritized: the clear expression of a thing, rather than the poetry of a thing. Yet, the main attraction of the Qur’an, if it is not the consistency, or clarity of the book, is the poetry. The poetry of the book has lead to the use of several rare words and unorthodox forms of words. Why is it, then, that God is appears to have chosen beauty, above clarity and meaning? Rhyming is not miraculous (as demonstrated by the nursery rhyme) yet it has sometimes lead to the use of obscure words and meanings. This is not what anyone would expect from a final revelation of God. Clear meaning Literary beauty
4. CONSISTENT OR INCONSISTENT? If God where to speak, would he speak consistently, or inconsistently? If a person speaks inconsistently about himself or some other subject, to any significant extent, we should think him unstable or possibly a little dishonest. Yet in the Qur’an God is sometimes spoken about in the first person, and sometimes in the third; sometimes in the singular and sometimes in the plural. This is an acknowledged problem amongst Islamic scholars. Sometimes the speaker (supposedly God) swears an oath by God and sometimes the speaker just swears an oath (it seems unlikely that God would do either of these things.(75:1-2 3; 90:14)) At other times, a sentence in which something is said about Allah is sometimes followed by another in which Allah is the speaker; examples of this are suras 16:81 5, 27:616 and 31:97. Then again, not only is God inconsistent about himself, yet there is the problem that, although at some times God appears to be speaking, yet at other times, it appears that angels are singing
Farid Esack, The Quran “Nay, I swear by the day of resurrection, Nay I swear by the accusing soul (that this scripture is mine.)” 4 “Nay, I swear by this city--” 5 “And Allah hath given you, of that which he hath created […](81) then if they turn away (Oh Muhammad) thy duty is but plain conveyance (of the message.) (82)” Irrefutable.email@example.com
(19:648; 37:161-1669), or that Mohammad is speaking. Even if we accept that God is dictating the prophet’s own words (what he has said or what he must say), or the words of angels, this is oftentimes not written in the text: we would expect God to say, “and the angels said...” or, “and Mohammad said...,” etc. One speaker (God) God quotes Mohammad/angels
5. WIDE OR NARROW? If God were to speak, a revelation to end all revelations, do you think it would be wide or narrow? Would it be for people of all time, or for only one particular time and place? Would it be concerned with the minutia of the life of a prophet, and his interactions and the opposition he faced? FIRST, It seems that Mohammad is the protagonist in God’s final revelation, and that the revelation all too often revolves around the messenger. The revelation, by all accounts, is a compilation of Mohammad’s responses to particular challenges he and his followers faced at that time. If Mohammad were the authorized voice, speaking God’s word, this would not be a problem, but because the Qur’an is supposed to be the direct recitation of God’s word, it becomes increasingly strange that Mohammad, and his circumstances, should feature so prominently. For instance I find it strange that God should interrup his final revelation to make a special dispensation to allow Mohammad to marry certain people. (For a sample of verses specifically adressing Mohammad and his family read, 33:2810, 33:5011, 49:212, 58:113, 58:914 and 66:3.15) Naturally, it is possible that God might use the circumstances of Mohammad to instruct all people for all time. However, it is also possible, that God could write a revelation for all people for all time, without any reference to Mohammad. The only difference would be, that not interrupting the revelation to address Mohammad’s particular needs, would seem more
“Is not he best who created the heavens and the earth? […] (61) Say, oh Muhammad: none in the heavens knoweth the unseen save Allah [...] (65)” 7 “He has created the heavens that supports that ye can see and hath cast into the earth firm hills […] (18) be modest in thy bearing and subdue thy voice (19) ” 8 “Such is the garden which We would cause the devout among our bondsmen to inherit. (63) we (Angels) cannot come down saved by the commandment of by Lord. And to you belongs all that is before us. […] (64)” 9 “There is not one of Us but have his known position. (164) Lo! We, even we are they who set the ranks. Lo! We, even we are they who hymn his praise.(165-6)” 10 “O Prophet! Say unto you wives: if you desire the world's life and its adornment, come! I will content you and will release you with a fair release.” 11 “O Prophet! We made lawful unto you whom thou has paid their dowries […] and those who your right hand possesses of those whom Allah has given to you as the spoils of war, and the daughters of your uncle on the father's side, and the daughters of your aunts on the father's side and the daughters of your uncles on your mother's side and the daughters of your aunts is on the mother's side who have immigrated with thee, and any believing woman if she gives herself to the prophet and if the prophet desires to ask her in marriage. […] ” 12 “O you who believe! Do not lift up your voices above the voice of the prophet, or shout when speaking to him as you shout at to each other lest your works be rendered vain […]” 13 “Allah has heard the saying of her who disputes with you (Mohammed) concerning her husband, and complains to Allah. ” 14 “O you who believe! When you conspire together, conspire not together crime and wrongdoing and disobedience towards the messenger […] ” 15 “When the prophet confided the fact to one of his wives and when she afterwards divulged it and God apprised him thereof, part thereof and passed over part. […] ” Irrefutable.firstname.lastname@example.org
consistent with the Quran being the verbatim word of God, dictated from a a heavenly tablet, addressed to all people for all time, as opposed to a human invention. All people for all time Mohammad and his followers
SECOND, along the same lines, if God were to write have a final revelation for all mankind, it is doubtful that he would insist on it always being written in Arabic, as though God speaks only in Arabic. (After all, this would result in the majority of the world’s pupulation not being able to understand the Quran, the book that pusports to be the final revelation from God to man.) The Bible, to date, has been translated into more languages than any other book. It has been translated (in terms of full and partial translations) into a staggering 2 000 languages – that’s a third of known languages, and considering that people can speak more than one language, the Bible is close to being a universally understood book. The Qur’an is somewhere just over 100 languages. All people for all time One language and people
6. SAME-OLD-SAME-OLD OR SOMETHING NEW? If God were to make a revelation to end all revelations, do you think he would have something particularly interesting to say, which was not contained in previous revelations? Imagine it: God’s final words: what wonderful truths would it contain? Disappointingly, the message of the Qur’an can be summarized as: God is one God, worship Him, be good, and don’t be wicked. I cannot think of a more complicated way (see previous points) to express a simpler message. God, in his final revelation, has given the same message as was contained in the revelation of Moses, although in a more diluted form. Now, there is nothing wrong with God using the same message again, and, certainly, there is something inconsistent about God changing the message completely. However, there is a happy medium: I expect, that if God wrote another revelation, that he might develop his earlier themes or add to them in some significant sense. However, the Quran is the excact same message as before, give or take a few traditions. Are we really to believe that God introduced a revelation just to change a few traditions? This seems unlikely. Same Message, different traditions Developed message
7. FINAL OR INCOMPLETE? If God were to speak do you think that his revelation would be complete or incomplete? Would it contain all the essential details, or would it be missing certain important facts? Considering that the Quran is the final revelation, we would expect it to be, well, final; that is, we would expect it not to require subsequent revelations, to make up for what the, “final” revelation left out. However, this is exactly what we find when it comes to the Quran. The five pillars of Islam are not detailed (in their entirety) in the Quran: the five daily prayers, the various traditions of prayers, the Muslim confession of faith, the percentage of money given for almsgiving, the various traditions surrouding the hajj, etc. In addition, many crucial verses can only be interpreted by things written in the sunna and hadith and without these
interpretations, these verses would be interrpreted to mean completely different things. (One example is a troublesome verse which says that all Muslims will go to a fire-filled hell and only a few pious Muslims will be saved.) Lastly, many Islamic laws are derived from hadith and sunna records, and if these laws are important, then they should have been included in the Quran which contains many other laws. Overall, the final revelation cannot exist without the sunna and hadith. Complete/final Lacking crucial details
CONCLUSION The Muslim person who ticks all along the left hand side and crosses all along the right is probably in the wrong religion. On the other hand, the Muslim person, who ticks all the way along the right and crosses all along the left is probably in denial. However, against some of these things, especially the points about random letters, and of God’s tendency to speak in a schizophrenic way about himself, it will be said, God is exercising his sovereignty and authority, and showing himself to be beyond predicting, and explanation. Thus, there is method in the madness, and all these unconventional things serve to show that God is elevated above certain conventions which seem best to men. However, this objection could be applied to a great many other supposed revelations besides the Qur’an with the same success. I could hand you child’s scribble and claim it as a revelation. You might object that it cannot possibly be a revelation from God. Yet, what if I told you that God wanted to break all conventions, in order to show his greatness? The objection clearly doesn't hold water (either that or it holds too much). If it looks like it wasn’t written by God, for all the reasons above, then the most likely explanation is that it was written by men or by fallen angels. Common sense alone should lead us to reject the Quran as a genuine revelation. If the Quran was meant to look genuine, then God certainly did a good job of making it look dubious.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.