There are many linguistic clues that point to the conclusion alluded to in the above heading. First, the Syriac language gave the Qur’an its words for God, soul, last judgement, salvation, sacrifice, resurrection, heaven, angel, priest, Christ and prayer, Holy Spirit, Mt Ararat and pagan. Second, the word Qur’an itself is a Christian Syriac word derived from Qiryan, meaning a scripture lesson or recitation. In the oldest Qur’anic manuscripts it appears simply as qrn, which is much closer to the Syriac. This is a hugely significant choice of a name and religious words for the greatest revelation in Islam. Third, the very word Allah is also the Syriac Ilah. The term Allah is not a contraction of the Arabic Al-ilah meaning the god, but the proper Syriac name used by themselves, the Nabataeans and other north-Arabian inscription writers for God the creator of the universe. The Nestorian pronunciation is Allaha. Fourth, the word Isa is only found in Syriac literature, and nowhere else, being dated to at least 571AD and to a monastery in South Syria. Fifth, the Qur’anic word for the resting place of the Ark is strange and not related to all other translations that call it Mt Ararat. This is because it is taken directly from Syriac Peshitta version of the Bible which disagrees with all other versions on this issue. Sixth, use of Nasara for Christian is taken from the Syriac churches own description of themselves. It is a term used by no other group.
The influence of the Syriac church did not stop with religious words. It extended to theological positions that became core Islamic beliefs. The Syriac church regarded itself as descended from Thomas rather than Peter. They still do. From its beginning it emphasised there is one God, the God of the Old Testament, who sent his messenger, Christ, sent from God but not equal with God, who was one. This position came about through the teachings of Arius, who was exiled to the Middle East by the Byzantine imperial church. These two concepts that Jesus is a messenger not a messiah, and that God is one not three go to the core of Islam’s differentiation from modern Christianity.
One branch of the Syriac church were Monophysites, who believed that Christ had one nature, not two as spelt out by the Council of Nicaea. This produced further belief that there were in fact three gods making up the trinity. This error became a major point of attack later in the development of Islam. Further, the Syriac bible, the Diatessaron, incorporated an extra gospel called the Gospel of the Hebrews, in which Mary was elevated to the same status as the Holy Spirit. This has also become a chief point of attack by Islamic theologians. Borrowing theology from the Diatessaron also explains the Qur’an’s lifting the identical spelling of people from the patriarchal period, as demonstrated above.
Why did all these theological positions transfer seamlessly from Syriac Christianity to Islam if Islam arose independently in splendid isolation from all other religions as a direct revelation from heaven some 1,500 kilometres away from the influence of the Syriac church in the deep in the Arabian Peninsula? The question is especially pertinent since most of the Arabs actually inhabited Palestine and Syria, had embraced Syriac Christianity some centuries before, and had prospered as part of the proxy defence system used by the Byzantine Empire to contain the Persians across a featureless imperial border of deserts!