Disclaimer: This essay is no a derogatory attack on Islam as is so often seen on the internet. Rather it is a genuine attempt to find the true roots of the religion using contextual clues and insights assembled from the writings of leading academics. The ideas presented are the product of careful consideration by people who have great insight into the religion of Islam, people from whom I have merely gleaned. Over 130 direct links to the Qur’an are included so that you can quickly verify all claims presented.
Modern Islam’s central dogma is that it is the last, greatest and only perfect revelation of the creator of the universe, whose name is Allah (Q 2:255, Q 17:44, Q 59:24). As such it is above and beyond all other religions and philosophies, which must now give way to its ultimate truth in all spheres of life. This great and dangerous claim to ultimate authority comes from its book, the Qur’an. The Qur’an is claimed to have been an eternal document that reflects perfectly the mind of Allah. It was stored in heaven on sanctified tablets (Q 43:1-4, Q 85:20-22). Then it was divinely and mystically passed to an illiterate man called Muhammad (Q 2:97). It was then faithfully and perfectly memorised by his followers, and eventually recorded in a book. A book without a single error, a book that you should never question because of its utter holiness.
That’s the official version.
However, unlike most other great religions of the world, Islam is full of theological, logical, historical and philosophical contradictions and inconsistencies. This is because the book was not a product of the processes outlined above, but of conquerors from the fringes of two great empires who were growing in stature, political confidence and theological boldness in an era when those empires were collapsing. It is the product of men who were bumping up against the three great religions of that region, Zoroastrianism, Judaism and Catholic Christianity, as well as several lessor religions such as Samaritanism, Nabataean polytheism, the Cult of Sin and many Quasi-Christian sects that found refuge in the no-man’s land between the Byzantine and Persian empires. It is the product of men who were being influenced by Greek concepts of divinity and Bedouin standards of behaviour toward outsiders. It is the product of men who enlarged their ideas about their self-importance and place in the world as time went on, as their own empire grew, as their legal system evolved, as their form, style and purpose of worship evolved into a distinct brand.
How do we know this is the real story? It is simply because the official narrative does not agree with archaeology, preserved stone inscriptions, trade receipts, biographies, maps, government records and other independent source material from that era that we have accumulated over the last 100 years. We now have a growing group of secular academics of the highest calibre researching and writing of the true history of Islam. This small army includes Professor Henry Wansborough, Professor Gerald Hawting, Professor Patricia Crone, Professor Andrew Rippin, Richard Hoyland, Yehuda Nevo, Professor Fred Donner, Gerd Piun, Karl Heinz Ohlig, David Thomas, David Cook and others. Their research is devastating, and it is destroying the official Islamic narrative. Follow this link to read in another of my seminars that summarises some of the startling results of their findings.
To give you an idea of the implications of their research consider the following: There is not a single piece of objective evidence for the existence of Mecca until 741AD, about one hundred years after Muhammad’s death, yet Muhammad is claimed to have died there while it was a thriving trade and pilgrimage centre around 600AD, supposedly leaving a huge archaeological and historical footprint..
However, the specific purpose of this particular seminar is not to look at the evidence from secular academics but to bring to your attention some of the theological contradictions contained within the Qur’an as an illustration of the implausibility of the official narrative. I will make extensive use of the Qur’an itself to build my case and show you how I have come to the same conclusion as secular academics who have drawn their conclusions purely from extra-Qur’anic sources.
Specifically, I plan to demonstrate that the bold claim made in Surah 4:82, quoted below, is a false one:
Will they not ponder the Qur’an? If it had come from other than Allah, they could have surely found in it many contradictions.
The Qur’an puts out a clear challenge. If we can prove it has contradictions then Islam should freely accept its flawed human origins and simply slide quietly into the night. Its concept of the creator of the universe also disintegrates, as does any credibility of its prophet, Muhammad. I put it to you that the Qur’an is indeed full of contradictions.
Why is the Qur’an full of the contradictions and inconsistencies mentioned above? It is because Islam changed its history as time went on. In fact the Qur’an almost reads like two books in one. What comes chronologically early is theologically very different to what comes later in history. The best excuse Islamic scholars can give for this dichotomy of thought is that Muhammad lived in two cities, under two sets of circumstances in Mecca and Medina, requiring different revelations from Allah. So Allah annulled earlier commands with later commands. In simple terms this means he changed his mind. The real reason is that what started as an insignificant movement in the gap between the mighty Byzantine and Persian empires eventually grew itself into a controlling imperial power that no longer needed to tolerate alternative belief systems within its sphere of control. Arrogance led to sloppy retrospective theology.
The primary inspiration for what follows comes from Daniel Shayesteh’s excellent book, The Difference is the Son. Daniel was an Iranian academic and one-time enthusiastic Islamic revolutionary from the 1980’s who eventually came to see the danger of fundamentalist Islam and challenged it. I invite you to enjoy the insights I have gained from his unique perspective as a Middle Eastern man who has read very widely in both the Qur’an, the Hadiths and supporting Arabic theological literature. This gives him far greater insight into Islam’s theological contradictions than both English speaking and Western secular sources on the theology of Islam. What follows is a tour de-force through those contradictions.
1. CONTRADICTIONS CONCERNING MUHAMMAD
Why Couldn’t Muhammad Discern Good From Evil?
The first and foremost test of a prophet is that they know good from evil and call humanity back to the good. We see this in the founders of so many religions. However we do not see this in the foundations of Islam, at least not after the first ten years when Muhammad’s power grew and we even have Islamic records of him becoming a murderer, highly sexualised, ordering assassinations, a slave owner, a lead thief, an ethnic cleanser, a war monger and an intolerant tyrant. These are not accusations, but every one of them is a fact of history explained in the Qur’an as recorded in the Qur’an and its supporting literature, the Sira and the Hadiths. Indeed it is no secret that Muhammad ordered the execution of anyone who questioned him once he had power.
Muhammad freely (and therefore accurately) acknowledged that he had no control over what was helpful or hurtful to him. Which means he did not know the secrets of his god and that if he did then he would indeed revel in the good and evil would not touch him (Q 7:188). How can this man be considered the seal of the prophets when he cannot discern good and evil? Because of this great moral deficiency, Muhammad could not, in all good conscience, speak with confidence about salvation, an issue that involves a cleansed conscience, even for himself (Q 46:9). These uncertainties are the foundation of a very morally corrupt religion, full of self-doubt. A religion that can resort to coercion, force, mind control, assassination and violence as weapons to keep people from questioning and challenging it.
And it gets worse. Because so few Muslims read the Qur’an in their heart language, most believe Muhammad to be a near perfect man, saintly and godly, in the mould of Jesus or Buddha no less. This is far from the truth. In the Qur’an we read that Allah cursed all liars, but Muhammad was allowed to break his own oath and lie. We also read that there is a limit on the number of wives a Muslim could have, but Muhammad was allowed to have more. That Muhammad killed a woman’s family and then raped her that very day. And Muhammad had sex with a nine year old girl. These were normal behaviours for this man, as was killing his enemies and enslaving their women and children. The Qur’an justifies Muhammad’s behaviour, then calls down curses and violence upon anyone who disagrees with its elevation of Muhammad as the oracle of God, or questions it, disobeys it or refuses to comply with it. Totalitarian statements like these are the ultimate sign of an insecure belief system and a very insecure man, not a great prophet who speaks for the creator of the universe.
Why Can Unbelievers Join Islam But Not Leave It?
The Qur’an teaches that Muhammad left behind his old religion and followed what he believed was a more pure path. He satirised the leaders and idols of his old religion, denouncing their claims to truth and their idols. Ironically though, once he had followers, he never allowed them to question his version of truth, or leave Islam. This process began with theological threats of hell (Q 9:63) and ended years later in mass murder. In fact he eventually declared war on all other beliefs systems on the planet (Q 9:29), forcing millions into his religion under pain of death. Muslims today continue this tradition. They reserve the right to criticise all and any belief system outside their own, to subjugate minority populations, to deny human rights to non-Muslims, to force people to convert to Islam, to kill infidels and to demand privileges as a minority religion in Western host cultures. But Muslims are famous for threatening with violence anyone, anywhere, anytime who question their beliefs. This is the sign of an incredibly weak ideology, unable to stand any form of intellectual scrutiny in a free marketplace of ideas.
Was Muhammad a True Prophet Or Not?
What do you think about when you hear the word prophet? Someone who can speak about a future not yet arrived? Someone who can perform supernatural acts? Muhammad admitted he could do none of these. Everyone around him knew it and many criticised him for his lack of evidence. He therefore fell upon a novel Bedouin claim; that his one great miracle was the revelations he was getting (Q 2:23). This concept comes from Arabic poetic tradition. But even then many who heard these revelations mocked him to his face (Q 26:190-200, Q10:104, Q 4:167-170). The Jews and Christians had their own test of a prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15-22) and Muhammad failed that test so was rejected by these religions even though he craved legitimacy in their eyes. This is why he eventually became so bitter toward them.
Was There Ancient Prophecy About Muhammad Or Not?
Muhammad’s ego then led him to believe that previous holy books spoke about his coming (Q 7:157). He even made up imaginary quotes to that effect (Q 61:6) and that he was the seal and ultimate prophet in the Biblical linage (Q 33:40). However no such evidence exists, anywhere, not in the Old or New Testaments, or in secular literature. It is pure fantasy. To counter this self-evident fact, the Qur’an proclaims a clever lie to the effect that the scribes who copied these ancient Biblical holy books deliberately altered their versions to write Muhammad out of them! How convenient. “The bad guys destroyed the evidence of my coming, trust me, or else”.
Was Muhammad From The Line Of The Covenant Or Not?
The Qur’an also says that Muhammad can trace his ancestry back to Abraham via his son Ishmael and that the prophet Ishmael, not Isaac, was the son of the famous Abrahamic covenant of promise. It claims that Abraham took Ishmael to Mecca and built the first temple, which was later corrupted by idol worship. It also claims that Ishmael was the one God asked Abraham to sacrifice. This would place the Arabs at the centre of religious history, not the Jews and Christians.
However we actually read in the Qur’an itself that Jacob and Isaac are the true fathers of the covenant and the linage from where future prophets would came (Q 29:27). This one passage destroys Muhammad’s claim to be a true prophet of the line of the divine covenant. In addition, there is no evidence in all of secular history that Abraham, Ishmael or any of their immediate descendants went anywhere near Arabia, or married Arabs. This is in direct conflict with the Qur’an’s claim that Arabs are descended from Ishmael and that Muhammad’s claims of religious self-importance are accurate.
Were Muhammad’s Beliefs Stable Or Not?
As mentioned, Muhammad was prone to changing his mind and also prone to justifying it by blaming these changes of heart on a new revelation from Allah that contradicted old revelations. A prime example of this is his attitude toward Christians, Sabbateans and Jews. On the one hand he says the followers of other religions don’t need to fear hell because they have an assurance of salvation (Q 2:62, Q 6:154). Then later he contradicts this position by saying that all unbelievers, Christians and Jews included are to be smitten if they do not submit to Allah, his apostle and his religion of truth (Q 3:55, Q 9:30). Surah Nine on its own abrogates over 100 previous revelations. Surely a true prophet who is hearing the divine doesn’t need to constantly change his mind?
Was Muhammad Adopting Pagan Objects And Practices?
Muhammad started his ministry at a philosophical position very close to Christianity and Judaism. He was monotheistic in orientation and dismissive of pagan practices. However, as his power and prestige climbed, he saw the need to compromise with fellow Arabs and their pagan objects of worship. Thus we find sacred mountains, rituals, sites, objects and shapes from Nabataean and Bedouin culture infiltrating Islam as time went on. Muhammad also increasingly adopted many pagan practices involved in the Hajj, such as the worship of a black meteorite, the throwing of stones during the Hajj, walking around the meteorite seven times, animal sacrifices at the end of the pilgrimage and the timing of the Hajj by the phases of the moon, amongst many other practices. Why was he happy to adopt all these clearly pagan practices and yet condemn the pietistic practices of the Christians and Jews? Bottom line: Islam is a pagan Arab religion exported to the world by force.
2. CONTRADICTIONS CONCERNING JESUS (ISA)
Did Jesus have a Virgin Birth or Not?
In no less than three places the Qur’an clearly and distinctly teaches the virgin birth of Jesus Christ (Q 3:45-47, Q 19:17-22, Q 21:91). But then the Qur’an turns on itself and goes on to clearly deny the incarnation (Q 6:101). These passages are clear contradictions. The Qur’an then spends considerable energy backtracking from its earlier acknowledgement of the virgin birth by emphatically denying the deity of Christ (Q 39:4, Q 112:1-4). These last two passages even suggest that the Christian belief in the virgin birth means that Mary had sex with God, an repugnant idea completely foreign to all Biblical teaching, but a convenient excuse for Muslim apologists to deny the virgin birth right up to this very day. All this begs the question; why teach the immaculate conception of a pure man and then turn around and say it was nothing special?
Is Jesus the Messiah or Not?
The passages above (Q 3:45-47 and Q 21:91) even go as far as to say Jesus is the Messiah, the anointed king who would change the world, that Allah breathed his very own spirit into Jesus the Messiah via a virgin birth, and that Jesus was a perfect man. But then in another section we find the opposite teaching (Q 9:30), explicitly denying that Jesus was Messiah, reducing him to a mere human messenger of someone greater, Muhammad. You cannot have it both ways.
These conflicting teachings on both the virgin birth and the Messiah simply reflect a distancing of Islam from its roots as time progressed and the movement became more powerful and theologically independent. In Surah 4:17b we find an intriguing clue as to the early teachings of the Qur’an. In it we find Jesus being called the Messiah and a messenger of Allah, and his word, which he directed to Mary, and a soul created at the command of Allah. Who’s word? Allah’s word. This is a direct reflection of the Biblical teaching that Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:1). In addition, if Jesus was a mere human messenger, why does the Qur’an ascribe to him the office of Messiah and a virgin birth and his divine creation at Allah’s command.
This intellectual schizophrenia even goes further. The Qur’an gives Jesus the creative power of being able to breath into clay birds and they come to life, powers that only belong only to a divine creator who breathes life into his creation (Q 3:49, Q 5:110). This passage, by the way, is plagiarised from a 3rd Century folktale called Thomas’ Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus Christ.
Did Jesus Die On The Cross Or Not?
In two places the Qur’an says that Jesus died on the cross and rose again (Q 3:55, Q 19:33). This is clearly mimicking the Biblical teaching of the saving grace of Jesus who died on the cross for humanity. Yet in another, later revelation from Allah, the Qur’an specifically says he did not die at all but Allah took him up to heaven and replaced him with another man (Q 4:157-158). This contradicts all known secular historians who acknowledge the death of Jesus Christ, who they saw as a regional prophet in the province of Palestine during the rule of Pontius Pilate. To this day Muslims ignore the earlier passages and historical records, relying solely on this convenient Qur’anic passage for their theology, which is clearly a later redaction to the original teachings, and denial of history.
Jesus Went Straight To Heaven, Why Didn’t Muhammad?
If Muhammad is the greatest of the prophets then why does the Qur’an teach that Jesus was so important to Allah that he went straight to heaven, while Muhammad was so unsure of his own condition he had no knowledge of what would become of him (Q 46:9). Muhammad also taught that all humanity, including himself, must go to hell for a weighing process before going to heaven, if they pass the test.
Is the Qur’an About Muhammad or Jesus?
The Islamic religion rests solely on the claim that the Qur’an is about the revelations received by a prophet called Muhammad. If that is the case then why is his name only mentioned four times while the name of Jesus, called Isa in the Qur’an, mentioned over 25 times? The numbers are highly suspicious. In the Qur’an Jesus is the only sinless man whereas Muhammad is a sinner. Jesus, not Muhammad, is the only person to have a virgin birth (Q 3:45-47). Jesus was sent from Allah and went straight back to heaven (Q 3:55), whereas Muhammad was unsure of his own salvation (Q 46:9). Jesus died on the cross and is the only person who rose from the dead (Q 19:33). It even says he was born of the Holy Spirit (Q 4:171) and is the Messiah (Q 3:45-47). It is obvious that the Qur’an was written by a man with very close ties to the Christian faith, and who initially said that the followers of Jesus were above others on the day of judgement and will have their reward with their lord (Q3:55, Q 2:62).
It was only as Islam forged an Arab imperial identity under the all-powerful Caliph Abd al-Malik about 100 years after Muhammad’s ministry that Jesus became the vengeful Isa of the second half of the Qur’an, Muhammad the great hero of Islam, while Christians and Jews became the hated enemy worthy only of death and subjugation (Q 9:5, Q 47:4). Which all begs the following questions: Why would a lesser prophet be so much more elevated than the alleged greatest prophet in the history of the world? How can a man who is uncertain of his own salvation claim to know the roadmap to Allah with such certainty? Why would Allah use direct revelation to the world in a lessor religion, but use indirect revelation in the greatest religion? Was Islam re-worked after the fact?
Is Jesus’ name Really Isa?
Jesus’ mother tongue was Aramaic. In his own lifetime he was called Yeshua in Aramaic, and Yesu in Greek. This is like calling the same person John when speaking English and Jean when speaking French. Yeshua is itself a form of Hebrew Yehoshua which means the Lord is salvation. Yehoshua in English is Joshua. So Joshua and Jesus are variants of the same name. It is interesting that Jesus’ name, Yehoshua, contains within it the proper Hebrew name for God, the first syllable Yeh- being short for YHWH, the LORD. Yeshua/Jesus of Nazareth was never called Isa, the name the Qur’an gives to him. The changing of the name was a deliberate move to destroy the meaning of his amazing name and the purpose of his ministry. It was a demotion to mere prophet instead of saviour.
3. CONTRADICTIONS CONCERNING THE QURAN
The Qur’an Fails its Own Test
In many places the Qur’an states unequivocally that it is a perfect document without error, the ultimate proof of divine origin (Q 2:23-24, Q 2:97, Q 10:37-38, Q 17:88). In addition, the words of the Qur’an are never to be changed (Q 6:34 & 115). Yet Muhammad, apparently, was able to change the words of the Qur’an at will, always pretending it was because of new instructions from Allah (Q 2:106). Sometimes he even forgot what he claimed he had received. These changes caused criticism and derision by those who observed them (Q 32:3, Q 16:101). It is estimated that up to 500 statements and instructions in the Qur’an have been abrogated by later “revelations”. Progressive revelation contradicts the doctrine of perfect revelation. Anything that the Qur’an abrogates could not have been perfect revelation in the first place. You cannot cut it both ways. Perfect revelation devolves into subjective reasoning, which devolves into outright contradiction.
To prevent rational questioning of these contradictions, great punishment was decreed upon all who took such a view in order to keep them in line. In a related passage the Qur’an also admits foreigners were teaching Muhammad (Q16:103). If so then why does the Qur’ans insist it comes 100% from divine sources? One possible answer is that the Qur’an evolved within an emerging Arab culture, rather than being the product of one man. The sheer number of abrogation’s in Surah 9, encouraging war on the world, suggest this was one of the last sections added.
The Qur’an Fails The Textual Test
In addition to the subjective nature of the text, the Qur’an fails multiple objective tests of perfection. It has plagiarised many folktales from various sources, particularly 2nd Century Jewish and Christian apocryphal literature, somehow believing them to be true. The Qur’an also completely twists out of historic context many passages from the Old Testament. For example it says that Mary, the mother of Jesus lived concurrently with Aaron, the brother of Moses (Q 19:27-28). It claims that Haman (Q 28:38, Q 29:39, Q 40:24) was employed by Pharaoh to build a great tower, thus mixing the books of Genesis, Exodus and Esther. The Qur’an claims that the golden calf of Exodus (Q 20:85-87) was made by a Samaritan, but this ethnic group did not exist at the time of Exodus.
It also gives conflicting details about the same event. For example the days of creation change from six (Q 7:54) to two (Q 41:9-12) and then four (Q 41:10). In one place Pharaoh was destroyed in the Red Sea (Q 17:102-3), but in another passage it says he was rescued after calling out to Allah (Q 10:90-92). In one passage Jesus died on the cross and rose again (Q 19:33), but then in another he did not die on the cross and a substitute took his place (Q 4:157).
The Qur’an also copies ideas from Zoroastrian writings and so we find that Muhammad’s life suspiciously mirrors the life of Zoroaster. It also models the character of Allah after Samaritan and Greek philosophical teachings. It takes its deities names and cubes (pronounced Ka’aba in Arabic) from the Nabataeans. If the Qur’an is from heaven, why are so many of the stories distorted versions of other books and teachings? These examples are the tip of the iceberg. My seminar titled Islam’s Pagan Roots goes into great detail on this topic.
The Qur’an Fails The Manuscript Test
The Qur’an claims it is an unchanged book from time immemorial (Q 6: 34, 115) but Muhammad was forced to defend his version of events (Q 6:159) even while alive. Many of his revelations were then lost as fighters who had memorised them died in battles. Perhaps they were not very important or Allah would have found a way to preserve them! Once the Qur’an was eventually written down there were many conflicting versions of it circulating within just a few years. Even Muhammad’s son-in-law, Ali rejected certain sections of the Qur’an that were circulating during his lifetime. Islam’s third Caliph, Uthman is said to have had several conflicting versions destroyed and a single, pro-Uthman version standardised.
Moving down though history we find that the earliest surviving manuscripts we possess today have a large number of differences from each other and from modern versions. Indeed it was not until 1924 that the modern standardised Qur’an emerged out of Egypt. It comes from the school of Reader Imam Hafs and amazingly, even it differs slightly from the Qur’an that comes to us from the school of Reader Imam Warsh, which is used across Algeria, Morocco and parts of Tunisia, West Africa and Sudan. These two modern versions differ in terms of letter placement, vowel placement and the location of the tashkil. There are over 1,300 of these differences and whole books are available to help readers navigate the two different versions. My Seminar titled Islam’s Book goes into much more detail on the evolution of the Qur’an briefly described above.
The Qur’an Fails The Test Of Accurate History
Surprisingly, the Qur’an has King David making chain mail armour (Q 34:10-11). However, this technology was not invented for 1,000 years after David lived, so it is pure fiction. The Qur’an also claims birds dropped clay stones on General Abraha’s army, but history has no records of anything so extraordinary (Q 105:1-5). Islamic tradition claims the direction of prayer was changed from Jerusalem to Mecca. However, the Qur’an only claims that the direction of prayer was changed from somewhere to somewhere else, the mysteriously true holy site of God called Bakkah. It does not tell you the locations of the change. However we now know from numerous archaeological footprints that the direction of prayer, laid out in the direction every mosque faced, was originally toward Petra in modern day Jordan! We also know that the direction of prayer did not begin to change at all until around 721AD and was not fully implemented in all mosques until 821AD. Yet the Qur’an, supposedly completed in 632AD says the change occurred in Muhammad’s lifetime. Crucially, we also know that Mecca did not exist until a hundred years after Muhammad died, so he never lived there and many of the stories said to have taken place there are false. The change of direction is clearly a later insertion made to fit the evolving orthodoxy.
The Qur’an Fails The Tests of Science
The Qur’an claims the sun sets in a spring of murky water (Q 18:86). This idea comes from known folktales of that era. Stars and meteorites are also said to be missiles fired at evil spirits who try to eavesdrop on the Qur’an in heaven (Q 67:5, Q 72:6-9). Muhammad even claimed mountains were giant tent pegs that stopped the earth from shaking (Q 16:15, Q 21:31, English translations of this passage are very poor). Fishermen are said to have turned into apes because they broke the Jewish Sabbath (Q 2:65-66). The Hadiths, volumes of books needed to explain the Qur’an because it is so enigmatic, record an event where Muhammad was asked why children look like their father or mother. Muhammad’s reply, which he claims came from Gabriel, was that the child resembled the father if he orgasmed first, and the mother if she orgasmed first. (Sahih Bukhari 6:60:7). If the Qur’an comes from the mind of the creator of the universe, wouldn’t it be perfectly accurate in these matters, things Allah alone would know to be true or false?
The Qur’an Fails The Test Of Continuity
The Qur’an at one point claims nothing less than direct continuity from Jewish and Christian holy writings (Q 2:91-97, Q 4:47, Q 10:94, Q 5:46-48, Q 6:92, Q 41:43). This flies in the face with the scores of changed passages, blatant textual distortions, historical denials and fallacious arguments in the Qur’an that try to destroy both the Jewish and Christian scriptures and beliefs. The Qur’ans claims of continuity are also in direct conflict with the Qur’an’s other claim that the Christians and Jews have corrupted their own scriptures (Q 2:75, Q 6:91, Q 4:46, Q 5:13-15) by deleting all references to him and his beliefs. How can the previous scriptures be both confirmed and yet corrupted? What becomes intriguing is that the Qur’an then claims these same scriptures spoke of him, but were also corrupted. This is a self-defeating statement, all without the slightest scrap of real-world evidence to back up his claims.
4. CONTRADICTIONS CONCERNING ALLAH
Does Qur’anic Revelation Come From Both Satan And Allah?
Let’s start with the famous Satanic Verses (Q 22:51-53). In this passage the Qur’an says that Muhammad had previously been given revelation, not by Allah, but by Satan. The justification for this mistake was that there had never in all history been a prophet that was not tempted by Satan and sometimes got it wrong. The original passage has been deleted from the Qur’an. However, Ibn Hisham, Muhammad’s 9th Century biographer said the originals were statements claiming it was acceptable to worship several lesser idols other than Allah. This then raises many questions. Why couldn’t Muhammad see the difference between Gabriel and Satan? Why would a prophet, who staked his life and reputation so emphatically on the concept of worshipping Allah alone, suddenly allow the worship of other gods? Was early Islam therefore fine with local idol worship and was it edited later as it grew increasingly monotheistic? If idol worship was fine with Muhammad, why did Allah condone it (Q 23:14)? Why should anyone now trust any part of the Qur’an as there could be many parts inspired by Satan that have not been deleted? How many other mistakes did he make which slipped through into the Qur’an?
Is Allah a singular or plural god?
Islamic doctrine states that Allah is one, no polytheism, no trinity, an absolute unity (Q 13:16, Q 112:1-4). However the Qur’an is oozing with references to Allah in the plural, as when it uses the world we to refer to Allah. Here are but a few examples from many: Q 12:2, Q 19:17, Q 29:47, Q 43:3, 45, Q 76:2. This is most embarrassing! The Qur’an is literally littered with references like these and the only excuse Muslim scholars can come up with is that it is similar to the royal we as used by the Queen of England when referring to herself in the first person. The truth is closer to one of two options: First; it is referring to the Christian trinity, or two; it is referring to others in the polytheistic pantheon of gods worshipped in that part of the world at the time. Evidence from researchers places the truth closer to the second option. Here is further proof. Allah, after being referred to as we no less than five times in this passage (Q 23:14), is then described as the most excellent of makers. Note that the phrase is plural, not singular, so Allah is “the best of many makers”, or gods . This is a very loud echo of the polytheistic nature of Allah in the pre-Islamic Arab pantheon.
Is Allah The Original Cause Of Evil?
In many places the Qur’an fails to separate good from evil, or is ignorant of the difference. An example of this failure is the passage where Satan accuses Allah of causing his downfall (Q 7:16-18). Nowhere does the Qur’an correct this statement. So, we can conclude that Allah actually caused Satan to sin. The same passage then has Allah sending Satan out to see who would follow him in order to fill hell with them both. Another passage says Allah breathed both wickedness and piety into the heart of man (Q 91:7-9). These two passages open a can of theological worms. If Allah caused Satan to sin, why judge him? Why judge humans who follow him? Why judge humans if Allah is the source of their evil? Why were Adam and Eve judged when their hearts were evil because of Satan and therefore Allah. If Allah causes Satan and humanity to be evil, then how can Allah be innocent of the traits he has injected into others? Did Allah himself caused the fall and sin of humanity? If so, then Why?
Why Does Allah Have Knowable Attributes If He Is Unknowable?
Islam and the Qur’an are adamant that Allah has no connection to humanity, that he is an unknowable being beyond comprehension, description or form. He is therefore an enigma because we cannot find any words to describe him. He has no attributes by which we can get a grip on who he is. However, this doctrine is contradicted in many places in the Qur’an itself. Because it has borrowed and plagiarised so much from Judaism and Christianity, the Qur’an has used many Biblical passages to describe Allah. This has created a theological dilemma as it has given Allah many attributes that don’t fit his Islamic/Neo-Platonic definition. In one place the Qur’an says Allah is compassionate and merciful (Q 1:1), which is a known attribute. In another it says Allah revealed himself as a voice and a fire in order to speak to Moses (Q 28:29-30), another known attribute. In another Allah breathed into man at the time of creation (Q 32:5-9), and used his hands to create Adam (Q 38:75), more known attributes. These last statements clearly indicate a relationship with Adam and Adam was an extension of the soul of Allah. None of these statements about Allah should not exist if Allah is unknowable and his creation in no way reflects him.
Why Is Allah Superior If he Is Unknowable?
The concept of Allah as a remote and uncaring deity who is incomprehensible and impenetrable to humans is a concept surprisingly close to Greek Neo-Platonism. After the great school of Athenian philosophy was banished to the Middle East by Emperor Justinian in 529AD, its writings were translated into the local languages, including Arabic. However, this belief in an unknowable creator created many spiritual, philosophical and cultural weaknesses. To begin with, the unknowability of God destroys Muhammad’s claim to have communicated with him. The unknowability of God also undermines Islam’s claim that its god is superior. After all how can he be superior if he is unknowable? In addition, because Allah’s character unknowable, the opposite of the knowable and relational Yahweh of the Bible, Islam’s claim that the God of the Christians and Jews is the same God they worship is utterly destroyed. If Allah is unknowable, then why does the Qur’an quote the Bible and speak of a relationship with Adam and Eve (Q 7:22-24)? If Allah is unknowable then nothing makes sense; belief or unbelief, rebellion, sin, heaven, hell, morality, repentance and purpose. They too are all uncertain and unknowable, and the Qur’an is an invalid book.
Why Can Angels And Satan Incarnate as Beings, But Not Allah?
We learn from the Qur’an that the angels can incarnate as men, as they did when three messengers visited Abraham and he called them a people unknown (Q 51:25-33), and we’ve already noted that Allah can incarnate as fire, as when revealing himself to Moses (Q 20:9-14). However, we then discover that, even after admitting that Allah blew his spirit into the perfect man Jesus (Q 3:45-47, Q 21:91), that Allah cannot incarnate as a human. In doing so the god of the Qur’an loses his sovereignty, he becomes limited in power, incapable of doing as he pleases. This doctrine is simply another example of the evolution of Islam away from its early roots close to Christianity toward a rigid Neo-Platonism borrowed from the School of Athens.
5. CONTRADICTION CONCERNING SALVATION
Is Salvation Secure Or Not?
In the Qur’an the concept of salvation is based on works that consist of continuous purification by good deeds, as exemplified by the five pillars of Islam. There are many outward behavioural expectations placed upon the faithful in all areas of life; food, public and private behaviour, clothing, politics, belief, rituals and family. In fact Islam is much more concerned with outward ritual and behaviour than inner spiritual connection, peace and guidance. One would expect that if the faithful jumped through all these ritualistic hoops they would have an assurance of heaven. However, once a Muslim has done their best there is absolutely no assurance of salvation waiting for them. No one, including Muhammad is assured of salvation (Q 46:9). In fact the Qur’an, in an effort to instil and enforce its rigid set of behavioural expectations, actually says everyone, every single person will, alongside Satan, be sent to hell on bended knee (Q 19:67-72). Only then will the righteous be separated from the wicked. Salvation is at the whim of Allah, not via our good works.
Predestination Or Free Will?
Another blatant contradiction is the issue of free will and predestination. On the one hand the Qur’an clearly teaches the free will of humanity. Allah listens to us, grants us salvation if we do righteous deeds, believe in him, holds us to account for our lives, and promises paradise if we jump through those hoops (Q 2:62, Q2:186, Q 18:29, Q 53:38-42, Q 65:11). The Qur’an even says Allah will show mercy, forgive and love us if we follow him (Q 3:31). Echoes of the New Testament right there! However, just when we thought we were dealing with a deity who to whom we can freely respond to, we are slammed with passages in direct conflict with this position. The Qur’an also clearly teaches that Allah alone is in charge, we cannot do as we will. Allah singles out mercy only on who he wants to (Q 3:73-73-4), he even sets a seal on unbelievers hearts, shrouding them in evil (Q 36:9-10). Allah throws certain people out of the way, causing them to fall into error (Q 4:88). Allah forgives only who he wants to and punishes who he wants to (Q 5:18, Q 5:40-41). Allah desires hell to be filled with Jinn and men (Q 11:119). Allah keeps a register of exactly what will one day befall every man (Q 57:22), chains a devil to those he pleases (Q 43:36-8), and nothing happens except Allah wills it (Q 76:30).
In fact predestination, and its inherent fatalism, is the sixth of the six articles of the Islamic faith. Maybe this is because Allah actually breathes into each soul its wickedness and its piety (Q 91:8, unfortunately this passage is watered down from the harsh original in most English translations. I have given you the original quote in italics, the link is to the English translation). Why does Islam hold anyone to account when it is their god who designs evil for our heart in the first place? What sort of god is Allah if evil actually originates with him?
Another problem we run into in addition to the Quran’s conflicting claims listed above, are isolated passages which talk about Allah offering his salvation by grace: And if not for the favor of Allah upon you and His mercy, not one of you would have been pure, ever, but Allah purifies whom He wills, and Allah is Hearing and Knowing (Q 24:21). So now we have more confusion to add to the predestination/free will debacle. It is not by works at all that a person is saved but by the grace and mercy of Allah. This position is backed up in numerous Hadiths.
There are many individual strands of evidence listed above that now need to be tied together into a coherent fabric. Let’s begin by lining these strands up next to each other. We now know that Islam started off much closer to Christianity than it is now. In my seminar titled Islam’s Pagan Roots I demonstrate that this was a geographical reality as well as a theological reality, which makes perfect sense. The centrality of Jesus in the earliest phase of the Qur’an, his virgin birth, his claim to be the Messiah, his death on the cross, his purity, elevation above Muhammad and the initial validity of his message all tell us a lot about the man Muhammad. He was personally very close to Christianity and Christians. The inclusion of many late antiquity apocryphal fictional writings with fancy stories about Old and New Testament characters also suggests Muhammad was deeply influenced by the myriad Christian and Jewish sects and heresies floating around on the edge of the Byzantine empire.
The Qur’an’s turning from these roots is also visible in the redactions, abrogation’s and denials that come later, leading to profound contradictions in theology. The reshaping of Muhammad some sixty years after his death by Abd al-Malik into a replacement Messiah and saviour figure, shaped in the mould of Zoroaster and the Jewish prophets, of the line of Ishmael and of the divine covenant points to a desperate need by the early Arab conquerors to be held in esteem by surrounding religions. These changes also profoundly steered Muhammad’s legacy away from these neighbouring religions in order to enhance emerging Islam’s political and religious power. The adoption of pagan Nabataean, Bedouin and Arab cultural rituals, ethical behaviours and religious objects suggests a hijacking of earlier religious practices by the newly ascendant Arab Empire, who then dumped the new centre of their power deep in the heart of their own country in a previously unknown location called Mecca. They then legitimised their new religion by telling the world it developed completely outside, independent of, and parallel to that of the great monotheisms of Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism. It could then become a direct revelation straight from heaven, bypassing and superior older, corrupt faiths.
Now let’s reveal the finished fabric. The first and older half of Islam’s polemic, the Qur’an, singles out a theme for constant attention. This theme is the calling away of humanity from idol worship and polytheism, called shirk in the Qur’an, and drawing them back to worshipping the one true god. Because Islam began theologically close to Christianity as I have shown, then this could only mean one thing; that polytheism in the mind of Muhammad was more to do with arguments about Christian theological orthodoxy, heterodoxy and heresy 200 kilometres away in Christianised Israel, Syria and Egypt than Arab idol worship deep in the heart of Arabia a 1,500 kilometres south-east from where he lived, which was somewhere around the Nabataean city of Petra. The edge of the Byzantine empire was a hotbed of dispute stirred up by the Catholic church, the Orthodox church, Coptic Christians, Donatism, the Ebionites and Marcionites, the Gnostics, the Nestorians, Montanism, the Manicheists and many other groups. Muhammad’s early message was a part of this mix and a call back to his version of the truth.
Muhammad didn’t have to look far to find Christianised Polytheism. It abounded in the worship of saints in Byzantine church practice and in the use of icons. Such practices exploded after the reign of Emperor Justinian. It was hiding in full view in the elevation of Mary to deity (Q 5:116, Q 4:171), in the adoption of so many pagan rituals and practices into orthodox church practice. Could it be that Muhammad, in direction if not specifics, was a burdened man, in some ways like Martin Luther, who was fed up with all the crap that had attached to the great monotheistic traditions of Judaism and Christianity? I believe so.
But then the invading Arabs warlords conveniently took this teaching and twisted it in time so that Christians themselves became shirk because of their belief in the trinity. This clever theological twist allowed the Arabs to legitimately invade, dominate, control the vast Christian lands of the Byzantine empire across the Middle East, North Africa and Anatolia. Shirk conveniently became, in that great and final call to arms of the Quran, Surah Nine, the defining reason for the conquest of all lands in the path of the Arabs. This is why the Arab solution, a completely separate monotheism, ended up worse than the problem its founder was trying to address. This conclusion seems to fall out of the text quite easily and has actually been the subject of a great deal of high level secular research at many Western universities over the last thirty years.
This is why Islam has been at war with Christendom ever since its inception. There isn’t enough theological separation to live at peace with each other. Its why Modern Islam takes great pains to hide its true history from scrutiny, and is so offended when it is challenged and examined. Its why Islam is so oddly Arab-centric in culture, Its why the centre of worship had to be safely moved away from Petra and deep into Arabia. Its why Islam is so confused about the nature of Allah, who is a mixture of Christian and Arab ideals. Its why Islam is confused about the nature of good and evil, the incarnation, and countless other subjects mentioned above, each with its own specific question. It is this ramming of an initial belief into a new theological mould that causes so much historical, textual, manuscript, continuity, accuracy, ethical theological and scientific error and contradiction.
Thank you for reading