What Ancient Historians Said About Mecca

There are two pieces of evidence that Islamic historians cling to regarding their claim that Mecca existed in Pre-Islamic times. The first is a quote from the ancient Greek geographer Pliny who charted the coastline of Arabia. In his book, Natural History, he mentions in Book VI a place in Arabia called Mochorbae. This would put Mecca’s existence back to early in the first Century. The second is Ptolemy’s longitude and latitude coordinates for a place in Arabia called Makoraba. Unfortunately many Western scholars lazily accept the Muslim claims that these two towns are the Qur’anic Makkah and therefore Mecca. Now let’s examine these claims.

In Natural History Book 6, Pliny specifically says Mochorbae is a Port on the coast, not an inland town as Mecca is. He also says the towns of Homma and Attana are the most frequented in that area. They are therefore the centre of trade in the 1st Century, not Mochorbre. He then says Mochorbae lies just up the coast from the islands of Etaxalos and Inchobrichae, the Cadaei tribe and the Eblythaean Mountains. This puts Mochorbre nowhere near modern day Mecca as Homma (Ommana) was in the Persian Gulf and the latter references were in Yemen on the South Eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. You can see a guide to Pliny’s locations on the map below Pliny’s Mochorbae is nowhere near today’s Mecca.

 

A hundred years later Ptolomy, the inventor of the concepts of longitude and latitude, gave the world longitude and latitude coordinates for a place called Makoraba. It is shown on this map of his coordinates, just right of the fork in the major river. It is a vaguely similar name and located in a vaguely similar place. However, it is not modern Mecca for the following reasons:

First, it should be noted that at the time of Ptolomy the Arab language did not exist as we know it so two towns starting with M but with very different names some 500 years apart in different languages could be a coincidence. To illustrate: Arab words all start with a three consonant root. Patricia Crone,an international expert in Semitic languages, says the three letter root krb from which Makoraba is derived is completely different from the root mkk from which the Qur’an’s Makkah is derived. Second, Ptolomy locates it right where Medina is today, (which was called Yathrib in ancient times), some 400 kilometres away to the north. Nothing exists in the location of Modern Mecca that resembles its name. Third, Ptolomy never visited most of the places he created coordinates for. He relied on local traders for information. Fourth, as expected Ptolomy was very accurate for locations in the Roman and Greek worlds but became less accurate as he gave descriptions of places further afield. Fifth, Ptolomy also Hellenised a lot of the names he used for his lists. Sixth, Ptolemy was very accurate with latitude, but very inaccurate with longitude. Seventh, if Ptolemy’s map is accurate, Macoraba does not match any known trade route or pilgrimage site.

Finally and most importantly, the only river (wadi) on the map, called the Betius River on the map above, must by necessity correspond with an existing wadi today. Cities come and go but rivers do not. The only Wadi of significance on the coast, Wadi Mawr, is actually 500km south of Modern Mecca. If you rejig Ptolemy’s very loose longitude coordinates to match known rivers, then most towns are suddenly located accurately and Macorba becomes Al-Mahabishah, which is not that dis-similar in pronunciation. You can find an excellent extended article by Dan Gibson on the above list of points at this link. I have reproduced his corrected Ptolemy map below.

Ptolemy’s corrected coordinates                     Ptolemy’s Original coordinates

 

To add weight to the argument that Ptolemy was not describing the Qur’anic Makkah, I have reproduced below a First Century Roman trade map according to the Periplus Maris Erythraei, confirming the non-existence of any trading towns anywhere near the vicinity of Mecca. If Mecca was a real trading city in the era of Ptolemy it would be on this map.

Procopius (d.565) was the leading historian of the 6th Century. He does not mention Mecca in any of his writings, which is strange if it was a significant commercial centre and the link in trade between India and Europe. In fact no non-Muslim historians mention Mecca in the 6th or 7th Centuries.

It gets worse: No Arab historian of the same era mentions Mecca either! There are no surviving Muslim records of trade via Mecca before the 8th Century. This silence extends to any mention of the Quraysh tribe, prominent traders from Mecca and from whom Muhammad is supposed to have come from. All this in an era when there were extensive writings about the South Arabs the Ethiopians and the Adulis, who occupied the coast opposite modern Mecca. Crone says this silence extends to all records in “Greek, Latin, Syriac, Aramaic, Coptic or any other literature composed outside Arabia before the Arab conquests” (Meccan Trade p. 134).

The ancients have spoken, and they do not mention Mecca anywhere.

Kevin Davis

The story of Abdul

When the wall of a castle was breached in Medieval times, the first soldiers through were cut down in high numbers. Great reward was promised to those who survived. Inside Islam today we are seeing many breaches of the hard and satanic theological wall that traps those held within. Here is one such story of many I am reading taken from the probe.org website:

In a South Asian country, Abdul, a teenager, was expelled from his Islamic school for asking too many questions about the Koran. Because of Islamic law, he was held as a captive by his family and condemned to death upon coming of age. Secretly freed by his mother, he fled from his home. A chance encounter with a Christian missionary as he walked a country road dramatically changed his life. The missionary showed such love and concern that Abdul had to touch him to assure himself that this was a man and not an angel. Abdul gave his life to Christ and was baptized. Abdul was one of a handful of converts from Islam witnessed by this missionary over a period of thirty years.

Banished from his home, Abdul spent several years studying and growing in his faith in another part of the country. Led by God to return to his village, Abdul took up residence in the home of a childhood friend as he was still banished by his family. After a few months of studying the Koran and the Bible, his friend was ready to be baptized. When his family learned about it, they rounded up the villagers, took Abdul to the local soccer field and proceeded to beat him. Left for dead, his friend came to his aid and Abdul survived. When Abdul baptized his friend, he prayed “Thank you, God for my friend. Yesterday, I was the only believer in this village. Today there are two. Tomorrow, there can be two hundred if it is your will.”

Within a few years, all 1,800 people in Abdul’s village became Christians including those who left him for dead. These new believers were discipled and more villages were touched. Since that time, over 500,000 Muslim background believers have joined in following Jesus Christ. This unprecedented response also resulted in the murder of Abdul’s friend by Islamic radicals. Their willingness to act, entering the breach with no regard for their own lives, was a central part of this wonderful awakening.

Introducing China’s Massive Social Control System

Ive been reading about China’s new totally integrated control system for some time now and below is the best summary I have found so far. It is very disturbing and is already being practiced by Google, Facebook and Twitter on a smaller scale.

It is reprinted from Mercatornet. Here is the link to the original article.

“Imagine East Germany on steroids and you have the People’s Republic of China today.

Instead of legions of citizen informants spying on their colleagues and family, advanced information aggregation technology does it for you, logging your every move—from the superficial to the deeply personal. The data is then plugged into a psychometric scoring system that impacts your credit, job prospects, and every other measurable aspect of your value and potential as a member of society.

China’s social credit scheme may appear bizarre and abstract to those far away, but it’s very much real. The mandatory program started in 2014 and is being implemented for millions currently. It will be fully operational by 2020 and is being run through a patchwork of municipal government authorities and private technology companies contracted to the government.

Westerners might comment “surely, it can’t happen here?”, but the truth is a lot more disquieting.

The Chinese scoring system

As recently reported, “under the social credit scheme, points are lost and gained based on readings from a sophisticated network of 200 million surveillance cameras—a figure set to triple in eighteen months.” Various factors affect the social credit scores, including what those you associate with do and say.

If your relative criticizes the government, your score goes down. If the government considers your behavior to be satisfactory, your score goes up, eventually resulting in exclusive advantages such as travel, airfare, dating site advantages, loan access, discounts on bills, improved job prospects, and priority on university applications.

You can sink fast and become a low-ranking citizen, too: “jaywalking, late payments on bills or taxes, buying too much alcohol or speaking out against the government, each cost citizens points.” Penalties are also levied for playing video games too much, posting “fake news” (Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg just applauded), overspending on unnecessary purchases and drinking too much.

Ironically, posting too much on social media can also cost you serious points.

If you fall too low in your ranking you can be barred from air and train travel, have your social media accounts shut down, have your internet specifically targeted to slow down your connection speed, have your kids excluded from applying to private and prestigious schools, and be shut out of various elite occupations such as working in major banks, government jobs, and jobs requiring government approval (which in China is a lot of jobs).

Public naming and shaming is another punishment: you’ll be on a blacklist as well, in case any employers or associates started getting too easygoing about the system. What if your job involves holding the powerful accountable? Chinese journalist Liu Hu found out the hard way after his reporting turned up government corruption (surprise, surprise).

His social rating plummeted, and he was arrested, jailed, and fined. His social media accounts were nixed, and he now can’t travel by train or plane. Employers are hesitant to go near him.

The Western third-party system

The West recently had to contend with the intersection of free speech and private corporate technology monopolies with the banning of Alex Jones from YouTube, Twitter, PayPal, and many other platforms, ostensibly for breaking the respective services’ terms of service.

Voices on the Right and non-mainstream Left have been shown the door and hounded by social media giants. Some conservatives have defended the bans under the reasoning that private companies can do what they wish (at least it is not the government). What started as a small patter of censorship with the ouster of Brendan Eich from Mozilla, for example, for donating in support of upholding traditional-marriage via Proposition 8 in California, has now become open technological monopolization of acceptable speech.

But, to be fair, the Western corporate censorship and technological control grid is still child’s play compared to that being rolled out in China.

While Edward Snowden certainly demonstrated the global extent of the US surveillance state, the American elite have not yet openly implemented anything on the level of the Chinese social scoring system. Instead, Americans are leaving the steady encroachment on rights to come from the private sphere and the deluded tech bros of Silicon Valley—for now.

Technological-extremists like Sean Parker of Facebook who brag about how they will become “immortal overlords” by way of transhumanism will serve nicely as the useful fools of the hubris and increasing control of technology over our lives.

However, in China those running the social credit system don’t need to focus on self-aggrandizement since they are encoding the system of social control with ironclad algorithms that will last far beyond human lifetimes. The Chinese system is being built on an existing history of authoritarian oppression that has already sunk deeply into acceptance in popular consciousness.

In China you have an out-of-control technocracy buoyed by billions from its unfair global trade strategy and currency manipulation implementing a system for full domestic control. The implications are staggering. Think of it as beta-testing for the world government.

When the warm and fuzzy feelings fade and the velvet glove comes off, it’s likely there’s an iron fist underneath and there’s a good chance it likes squashing anyone who steps out of line without much fanfare or media coverage at all.

China’s “Iron Fist”

Many Muslims in China are already experiencing China’s “iron fist” as unexplained disappearances increase and being a practicing Muslim becomes a life-threatening scenario treated as a dangerous mental illness by China’s government.

Recent reports state that up to one million Uyghur Muslims in internment camps are physically and psychologically tortured, forced to denounce and disobey their religion, compelled to sing Communist propaganda songs for hours per day, and rewarded or punished based on compliance.

Young Uyghur women are also being forced to marry non-Muslim Chinese men, as the state seeks inroads to usurp and control any avenues of familial, cultural, and religious power outside its current domain.

The highest level of faith in Islam is called ihsan. It entails not just “believing” in God and His sovereignty, but having absolutely no doubt whatsoever that God sees everything you do and will judge you one day. The modern technocratic control grid spearheaded by China is a complete and brazen inversion of this theological concept.

Instead of considering how God will see your actions and words, you must first consider how an all-powerful state technological control grid will see your actions and words. Even the outwardly religious citizen must first consider how their friendships, beliefs, and actions will be run through a computer system to determine their future societal salvation or damnation.

China already exerts autocratic control over who can lead different religious denominations and what ideologies are acceptable.

Christianity in China doesn’t get a free pass, either, with the government taking bold moves to establish greater control of Catholic and Protestants in the country who number around 60 million citizens. Some reports also say some Chinese churches have been getting Crosses burned and shut down. The Chinese government has also taken further steps by banning online sales of the Bible and calling for “the development of a Chinese-style Christian theology.”

Christians would do well to consider the words of 1 Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see through a glassdarkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” This verse, among many others, promises that God knows us fully, and we will one day understand the extent to which this is true and significant for everything we do. This Scripture orients the believer to a life that considers our deeds and words in the context of a divine knowledge of our essence and potential that surpasses our own limited, temporal understanding.

China’s social system in America

The Luciferian magnates of Silicon Valley and Beijing want to know us better than we know ourselves in every respect. They don’t want this power for our own ennoblement or guidance. They want this control in order to fully hamstring us as we run out our days trapped on their giant hamster wheel of economic and social exploitation. Amazon knows what you’ll buy before you do and starts shipping it ahead of time in some cases, known as “anticipatory shipping.”

Do they just do this as cutting-edge business practice? Perhaps, but such a technological ability of predictive psychometrics is powerful beyond belief, particularly in the hands of gargantuan centrally-planned modern states. This is not about feelings or squishy concepts of human rights: this is about who controls the future and what they will work towards in that future.

China is leading the way to an inverted future of totalitarian technocracy full of entitled atheist social engineers running technology systems with borderline supernatural powers. Instead of a moral code based on divine guidance, people will be placed in a cosmic re-education camp and base everything from their social life to their job on what surveillance Skynet wants them to.

Is it really so hard to imagine a future public face of the US spy grid that metes out social scores and compliance ratings to citizen users via a network of smart technology? A system that uses psychometrics and surveillance to analyse and “correct” consumers’ political and religious behaviors is well within the realm of possibility down the road.

These days it seems like powerful forces are trying to make the paranoia of Alex Jones look like muted understatement.

China’s system is the current apex of social engineering elites who want to play God, or the Devil, and are far from joking around about doing exactly that. Those who value freedom of conscience and faith need to realize that the Orwellian Chinese system is not cartoonish hype: it’s a real system coming soon to a country near you unless citizens become passionate advocates of the freedoms ostensibly upheld in Western political philosophy and the US Constitution.

The ink will eventually fade into nothing if it continues to become just words, whether that erasure comes from dictatorial state infringement or out of control technology monopolies. The road to Hell is paved with Google logos and the Communist Chinese flag

Paul Rowan Brian is a freelance journalist who writes on culture, religion and politics. You can find him on Twitter@paulrbrian or visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com. Republished with permission from The Public Discourse.”

Afghanistan: A nation where Christ’s Church is Growing!

I don’t often reprint an article in full that I have recently read. But I think you will enjoy this one. Half way through you will see the word IsikAbla. Isik was raised a Muslim and married a Muslim in Turkey. Both experiences were abusive. She fled this abuse and arrived in America only to start life over again. She became a Christian and started a TV-internet-social Media ministry to Muslim countries that now reaches millions. She has six million followers on Facebook. So the figures she quotes, though astounding, are accurate.

Enjoy

Kevin

“A country with 48,000 mosques and not one church building; ranked #3 (behind North Korea and Somalia) on Open Door’s World Watch List of countries where Christian persecution is most severe, is listed by Operation World as the country with the second fastest church growth in the world. That country is Afghanistan.

Not to diminish this fact, but one reason the growth rate appears high is because the evangelical population is so small to begin with. Still, this trend is confirmed by all of our ministry partners working with Afghans both inside and outside the country. There is, without a doubt, a significant, identifiable work of God, such as never before, taking place among Afghans today.

Like in the days of the Apostles where Paul, who was zealous for the Law and guilty of killing and imprisoning Christians was shown grace and had a miraculous conversion where the Lord appeared to him, the same God is at work in Afghanistan. There are mullahs who have come to Christ through supernatural means who have hundreds of followers. Some former Taliban members who have found forgiveness and new life in Christ are staring death in the face and sharing the Lord with other Taliban fighters and leaders.

One surprising statistic surfaced from IsikAbla’s TV, Internet, and social media ministry at the end of 2017. The #1 city worldwide for her Facebook engagements (reactions, comments, and shares) was Kabul, Afghanistan with 182,781. Kabul also ranked #2 in the list of top cities for Facebook followers (behind Cairo) with 315,840.

This figure is even more suggestive of the hunger for the truth among Afghans in that social media users account for only 9% of Afghanistan’s 34 million people, and that access and use of the Internet reaches only about 12% of the population. Eighty percent of users are 18-30 years old.*

Work among Afghan refugees

Our ministry partners also report a significant openness and response to the gospel among Afghan refugees in Iran and Turkey. In an article from Relief Web dated Feb. 7, 2018, it was reported that:

“Four decades of conflict in Afghanistan has led to massive displacement of Afghans across the surrounding sub-region. Iran alone has received around three million Afghan refugees. Close to one million of these have been registered by the government and are thus, afforded protection and are eligible for assistance. However up to two million remain un-documented and therefore have neither formal legal status nor access to assistance. Up to 800,000 of these undocumented refugees are considered to be extremely vulnerable.”

Typically, Iranians are highly educated; Afghans are not. Many Iranians look down on Afghans and treat them badly. But in today’s Persian-speaking church inside Iran you not only see many Afghans coming to Christ, but incredibly, serving alongside Iranians.

Iranian Christians have sought out these Afghan refugees to care for them. The reason they are coming to Christ, as one Afghan put it, is because “Iranians never cared for us, but you (Iranians) have loved us. That is what attracted us to Christ.”

About 70% of the Afghan population speak and understand Afghan Persian (Dari). Thus Iranian believers have also been instrumental in exposing Afghans to modern day, understandable translations of the Scripture that has been a great help in evangelism and discipleship.

Extraordinary results are being seen in Turkey as well, where Iranian refugees have reached out to the Afghan refugees. Some Afghan converts are now pastoring churches and leading many to Christ. One couple alone has led more than 100 people to Christ. Another influence in the move of God inside Afghanistan has been that many of these refugee converts are communicating with their relatives and friends at home. They tell them that they are following the wrong God, then lead them to Christ and disciple them from outside the country.

Major factors influencing the this move of God among Afghans

  1. Prayer

For decades there have been Christians and groups from around the world praying for Afghanistan. Finally, we are seeing the stony ground being cleared so that there is soft soil where the seeds of the Word of God are being planted in people’s hearts. Fruit is beginning to be seen.

Still, many Afghan converts are fearful and lead dangerous lives. Converts must be careful about sharing their faith to avoid persecution by the Islamists, the police, and even their own family members and neighbors. In the village areas where conversion to Christianity is more noticeable and brings shame to families, converts suffer more persecution than in Kabul or the bigger cities. Continue to pray that the breakthroughs we are seeing increase until a full harvest is reaped.

  1. The Blood of Martyrs

Prior to 9/11/2001 many Afghans–tired of war and conflict and fearful of the Taliban who came into power in 1996–fled the country. After 9/11 when the American forces came in and the Taliban were routed and defeated, many Afghans returned with hope and optimism for their country. People believed they had a chance for a new future after decades of war and fighting.

Along with those returning came expats, including a number of Christian missionaries. This started in 2002. A number of Christians came in under the umbrella of various aid and medical groups until 2007-2008 when their numbers began to dwindle. By 2014 most had stopped coming.

Many lives had been lost. A conservative estimate is that around 30-40 missionaries, as well as Afghan converts, were martyred. But an indigenous work, springing from the blood of those martyrs began, and is now spreading.

  1. Fear, War, and Insecurity

Afghanistan has been a war-torn country for decades that has reduced it to ruin and privation. It has survived under the influence and control of many outside powers, including the British, the Soviet Union, and more recently, Western powers. Though the Taliban (which at one time controlled 90% of the country) were beaten back by U.S. and coalition forces, they, along with ISIS continue to be menacing and threatening forces–killing and terrorizing (sometimes innocent children) just to incite fear, subjugation and compliance. Muslims killing other Muslims has also been a factor contributing to the crumbling respect for Islam and the growing openness to alternative beliefs, such as Christianity.

  1. Unemployment

With 40% unemployment, youth and young families see little hope for a future in Afghanistan. Many young men resort to fighting for the Taliban or ISIS just to collect a paycheck. But the depression and despair living in a poor society with little opportunity has made Afghans more open to the good news of a God who loves them, has a purpose for their lives, and can give them hope.

Pray: for this indigenous work of God taking place among the Afghan people.

Pray: Let’s rejoice in the growth of His church and pray for the new believers to be protected, to grow in maturity, and to be effective in outreach to others.

Pray: Also, join our brothers and sisters in Christ in praying for His peace for their war-torn land.

http://www.operationworld.org/country/afgh/owtext.html

Islam’s Linguistic Roots Essay is Finished!!!!

Hi friends,

Just letting you know that after three months of intensive research and writing I have now completed and uploaded the final version of a new Essay called Islam’s Linguistic Roots.

I thought it would top out at 2-3,000 words but there was so much to write about that it ballooned out to just under 10,000 words. Sorry!

The essay covers the following topics and is drawn from some of the best published essays by the world’s leading linguists.

  1. The evolution of Arabic.
  2. The structure of Arabic writing
  3. The impact and significance of foreign loan words in the Qur’an
  4. The evolution of Arabic’s diacritical aids
  5. The theory of pre-Islamic poetry as the source of the Arabic language
  6. The existence of pre-Islamic rhythmic hymns in the Qur’an.

Here is the link if you want to go straight to it:

Kevin

Islam’s Linguistic Roots

 

When Was Genesis Written?

In the 19th Century many academics were eagerly embracing the theory of evolution and applying it to all sorts of situations; from human origins, to eugenics, to social structures, and to sadly, to legalise racism. They also applied this presupposition to Judaeo-Christian theology in order to destroy it. All Biblical narrative was suspect and subject to review from academics who had finally unlocked the key to a true understanding of how religions began. German higher critics proposed very successfully that religion evolved from simple to complex structures as society evolved.

The champion of these scholars was Julius Wellhousen. Using what he called the Documentary Hypothesis, he persuasively argued in his Prolegomena to the History of Israel that Genesis was written in the middle of the millennium just before Christ, not a full millennium before that, as stated in the Old Testament. He theorised that there were four authors who wrote the Old Testament from 850BC through to 450BC as a way of justifying social structures. Wellhousen’s theories dominated Biblical studies for a hundred years and still influence critics today.

But is this theory true in the light of discoveries made since he propagated his theories?

First of all we must be very suspicious of any theory that relies on evolutionary presuppositions for its foundation. A multitude of genetic discoveries (links here, here, here, here, here and here) in the last two decades are rapidly undermining the entire superstructure of evolutionary theory and providing startling evidence that our genome is not evolving upward at all but rather heading quite rapidly toward genetic entropy, or in layman’s terms, extinction!

But more importantly there is an abundance of evidence from within the Old Testament itself, and particularly Genesis, that the origin of these writings lies in deep history. Here are some of those evidences for an origin for Genesis somewhere in the early second Millennium BC:

Genesis describes a war in the Middle East between international foes. Many of the names mentioned in Genesis 14:1-9 appear only in the period 2,000-1,500 BC and no later. In addition, only in this era were armies able to move across this area with ease.

Some customs that appear in Genesis do continue into later periods, but their concentration in Genesis is unique. These include the custom of taking a surrogate if ones wife was barren for seven years (Genesis 16:1-4) and a betrothal gift that allows the bridegroom to marry (Genesis 34:12).

The city of Harran appears again and again, in Genesis 11:31-32, 12:4, 27:43, 28:10 and 29:4. Archaeology confirms that this city was occupied and thriving in the early second Millennium BC occupied by coalitions of Amorites.

Grazing in great distances (100km) from one’s home only occurs in Genesis, but not later in the Old Testament. For example, Joseph’s brothers graze their flocks some 100km north of Hebron, in the high country now occupied by Jerusalem. Only in this era and no later do we find confirming evidence from non-Biblical accounts of similar activity by other groups such as the Amorites in Northern Syria.

Benjamin is the only son named by his father after the family migrates south to the area of Bethlehem, just outside Jerusalem. His name is identical to an 18th Century BC tribal confederation that lived in Syria known as the Binu-Yamina, meaning south. The names for his two brothers Asher and Zebulon also only occur in this era in all extra-Biblical records.

Joseph’s brothers sell him for 20 shekels of silver. This was the price of a young male slave only in the second Millennium BC.

The closest parallel to Genesis 1-11 comes not from the 7th Century BC Babylonian Enuma Elish, but from the 18th Century BC Atrahasis Epic.

The global flood mentioned in Genesis 6-9 is confirmed by the Gilgamesh Epic on display at the British Museum and the Atrahasis Epic mentioned above. It is also confirmed by over two hundred indigenous flood legends from around the world.

Some of the names that occur in Genesis 1-11 only occur in extra-Biblical sources from the first half of the 2nd Millennium BC. These include Methuselah, Methushael, Tubal-Cain and Jabal.

As can clearly be seen, the traditional understanding of the timeframe of Genesis is on safe ground. You can read it with confidence in the events spoken of. It is important to note that none of the evidences listed above delve into the extensive scientific evidences for the accuracy of Genesis. They will be tackled in another blog.

Kevin Davis

Last Night I Received A Wonderful Phone Call

Last night I received a very unexpected phone call from my ex-brother in law of 32 years ago. So here’s the background. My first beautiful wife at the time, my 9 week old son and my other younger brother-in-law were needlessly killed in 1986 when the car I was driving was hit by a drunk driver. My mother-in-law was severely injured. I was 25 at the time.

Both adults who were killed were Christians. My wife’s family were largely non-believers in Christ and so the Christian witness in that family was snuffed out with the exception of my ex-mother in law who died in a second car accident some years later.

Now fast forward to last night and who was on the phone but the brother of my first wife whom I hadn’t spoken to for nearly three decades. He called to let me know that he had become a Christian 3 years ago, was going strong for Jesus and thought I might like to know. It was such a thrill to find this out. Then he told me the story I never knew.

He said that when he was about 14 and his sister was 18, she took him to a youth camp and he felt the power and presence of God in a tangible way which resulted in him making a decision to follow Jesus. However, two years later he was drinking heavily and the drink got the better of him for thirty years or more. By his own acknowledgement he became a functioning alcoholic.

Then some three years ago he decided to quit the drink and a few months later he realised he needed “religion” because that’s where he knew the answer was for his life. He knew God was real because of what had happened when he was 14 years old.

So he dusted off the Bible his sister had given him all those years before. Then, surprise, surprise, he found out his doctor was a Christian and after some time this chap invited him to a men’s meeting for believers. That’s when he decided to make a serious turn toward the Lord.

He has since married for the first time to a strong Christian woman. He’s been off the alcohol and is living a happy, purpose-filled life. That’s what the gospel does to people. Its the GOOD NEWS for a suffering world!

Then I was able to tell him some stories of powerful things God had done for other members of his family all those years ago and who were still not believers.

It was a great conversation where we filled in the gaps on our lives.

It was such a thrill to receive that call as I was only just thinking a few weeks ago that it was so sad that there was no Christian witness left in the family. Now I know God is back tapping on their hearts.

Kevin

 

Does The Qur’an Have A Pre-Islamic History?

This is another part to my up-coming essay on Islamic linguistics.

If the Qur’an needs diacritic aids (the famous dots and strokes) to give it its meaning, then it is quite possible, indeed probable, that the original texts, that were all written without these aids, could have had a completely different meaning. Without today’s guiding dots and strokes telling us where the vowels are and how to pronounce the consonants, the text becomes something of a lottery.

In addition, many surahs in the Qur’an, about one third, have a distinct rhythm and refrain embedded in them, while others are almost completely comprised of prose. Those that contain rhythm are often considered al-mutashabihat, or unclear in meaning, while those that are prose are called al-muhkamat, or clear and unambiguous. This is a huge clue that the origins of the two styles of surah differed in time, place and purpose. For those surahs with rhyme and refrain, the refrain doesn’t follow a strict pattern. This is another clue that there has been some editing after composition and it is where we get the hybrid term rhymed prose, or saj in Arabic, to describe the genre of the Qur’an.

German scholar, Gunter Luling, spent decades trying to see if the earliest rhythmic suras in the oldest Qur’anic texts could be reconstructed back into religious hymns without change to the letters, which are called the rasm in Arabic, but by removing the diacritic aids, re-interpreting the vowels and consonants, taking advantage of different spelling of a word, taking advantage of different meanings for the same word, and following orthodox Arabic grammar instead of the odd grammar found in some parts of the Qur’an.

Below, and through this link, is one result of what he found in a sura where he didn’t change a single letter in the underlying rasm! On the right is surah 96 of today’s Qur’an which is said by Muslim tradition to be the oldest. It is in the simplified English of Rudy Paret’s translation. On the left is Luling’s conclusion as to what the original was. On its own the surah is very obscure and incoherent, which suggests a heavy editorial process to destroy its original meaning. This link takes you to an English translation of the surah from the internet which contains in brackets all the extraneous information needed by the Hadith commentators to make sense of the surah according to Islamic orthodoxy. As you can see, the narrative they have created has no basis within the text itself.

  Sura 96: standard Qur’an Sura 96: Reconstruction with stanzas
1 Recite in the Name of your Lord who has created 1. Invoke the Name of your Lord
2 Has created man out of an embryo!

 

2. Who created

3. created man from the clay

     
3 Recite! Your Lord is magnanimous as nobody else in the world 1. Invoke! For thy Lord is the most generous
4 [He] who has taught the use of the writing cane 2. Who taught by the writing cane
5 Has taught unto man what he didn’t know 3. Taught man what he didn’t know.
     
6 Not at all! Man is really rebellious

 

1. Not at all that man should be presumptuous
7 Since he considers himself independent

 

2. Whenever he sees Him overbearingly independent
8 However, to your Lord everything returns. 3. Behold, to God is the recourse
   
9 What do you think about him who restrains 1. Have you ever seen

2. that he denies

10 a slave when he performs the ritual prayer 3. a servant when he prays
     
11 Do you believe that he is following the guidance 1. Have you ever seen

2. when he clung firmly to the creed?

12 Or gives the order to be god-fearing.

 

3. or spoke as a God knower
     
13 Do you believe that he pronounces lies and turns away. 1. Have you ever seen

2. that he betrayed and turned away?

14 Does he not know what God sees.

 

3. Have you not learned what God does?
     
15 Not at all! If he doesn’t cease we shall definitely grab him by the forelock 1. Not at all!

2. If he had not given peace truly he would have been seized

3. by his forelock

16 A forelock full of lies and sinful.

 

(Added by later editors, see notes below)
     
17 May he then call for his clique

 

1. So call for His high council!
18 We will call up the bailiffs

 

2. You will then call upon the High Angelship!
19 Not at all! Do not obey him! Prostrate and approach. 3. Not at all! Be you not presumptuous against Him

 

Prostrate and approach!

 

Points to consider concerning the two versions are as follows:

  1. The poetic nature of Luling’s version is far stronger.
  2. The meaning of the surah is coherent, with a common theme instead of three separate parts (1-5, 6-8, 9-19).
  3. Recite becomes invoke, more closely related to prayer, the theme of the surah.
  4. Not at all (6, 15, 19) is redirected from the preceding sentence to the next sentence. The grammatical rule that it must address the preceding sentence was invented in later centuries.
  5. Without changing the rasm, Have you ever seen now introduces ayats 9, 11 and 13, which become stand-alone stanzas of the hymn.
  6. Seizing God by the forelock is an anathema in Muslim theology, so ayat 16 was added. In the hymn version it is another picture of earnest, struggling prayer.
  7. The final statement Prostrate and approach is the heading for the hymn given at the end instead of the beginning, as is Western custom.
  8. The Christian nature of the hymn becomes obvious and makes far more sense than the convoluted Islamic version and commentary.

I trust the above makes sense!

Kevin Davis

More Evidence On the Syriac Christian Origin of Islam

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!

Kevin Davis