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Critical Analysis: What is Prophecy?

People often have dreams, and interpret them as a Divine communication. Tragedies often occur and people will interpret them as a punishment for particular sins, as if they understand God’s motives. By reading a religious text, or listening to religious stories, many people will explain what God requires from us.

Islam: A Critical Analysis
By: S.T.
Ch.1: Burden Of Proof
Ch.2: Judaism and Islam
Ch.3: Imperfect Text
Ch.4: Qur'anic Grammar
Ch.5: What Others Say
Ch.6: Hypocrisy in Islam
Ch.7: Hell
Ch.8: Violence in Islam
Ch.9: Logical Fallacies
Ch.10: Women in Islam
Ch.11: Muhammad’s Wives
Ch.12: Inheritance Laws
Ch.13: Qur'anic Ethics
Ch.14: Existence of Allah
Ch.15: What is Prophecy?
Ch.16: Unclear Qur'an
Ch.17: The Need for Hadith?
Ch.18: Miscellaneous
Ch.19: Numerical Patterns in the Qur'an
Ch.20: Summary
Ch.20: Quotations
Ch.22: Further Reading

There are many people labeled as insane that speak in the name of God. So what type of prophecy did the Quranic author(s) receive? Did God speak to him in a vision such as a dream, and he put it down in his own words? Were his own words an accurate representation of the vision? Was the vision even from God? Were the prophecies merely stories that he heard/believed regarding God?

Unfortunately, we cannot go into the mind(s) of the Quranic author(s) to know what they experienced.

Some prophets have a track-record. For example, if an alleged prophet makes many predictions one can test the accuracy of his predictions. Unfortunately, we don’t know all of Muhammad’s prophecies but only those that were ultimately recorded.

Theologian vs. Prophet

[4.43] O you who believe! do not go near prayer when you are Intoxicated until you know (well) what you say, nor when you are under an obligation to perform a bath-- unless (you are) traveling on the road-- until you have washed yourselves; and if you are sick, or on a journey, or one of you come from the privy or you have touched the women, and you cannot find water, betake yourselves to pure earth, then wipe your faces and your hands; surely Allah is Pardoning, Forgiving.

In the 7th century, there were many religious traditions floating around. People discussed Biblical legends, pagan legends, etc. Rabbis, Priests and others would give direction on how to live one’s life. I find it easier to take 4:43 as a theological opinion than God giving eternal guidance on how to clean one’s self when you cannot find water.

In the same way that Rabbis and Priests often give good and not such good advice, the same would be true of the Quranic author(s) theological advice.

Such theological opinions may have been misinterpreted as being prophecies.

Belief in all prophets vs. belief in Muhammad

Islam has a facade that it follows all prophets. However, Muhammad is considered the last prophet. Given that the Bible is not considered a credible source, the only source of prophecy regarding the other prophets is the Quran. If one rejects Muhammad’s prophecy, then all other Islamic prophecies are no longer credible. Therefore, Islam is based solely on the prophecy of Muhammad.

[33.40] Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Apostle of Allah and the Last of the prophets; and Allah is cognizant of all things.

Similarly, Islam has a façade that it believes in the one God. In reality, it believes in God as defined by Muhammad (i.e., Allah). In that sense, Islam believes in the worldview of Muhammad. It is unclear to what extent Muslims are even following the worldview of Muhammad since the Quran and Hadith can contain errors and be misinterpreted.

Can we recognize Divine Writings?

Suppose the Quran advocated marrying up to three wives instead of four, or that women typically receive 60% of what a man would inherit instead of just 50%, would we immediately recognize that the text was not Divine?

According to many Muslims, the Bible is a Divine book but was corrupted. Can a person really be expected to go through each verse of the Bible and determine which verses are Divine? Part of the reason Jews, Christians and Muslims differ as to which books are Divine is because the OT, NT and Quran resemble human writings.

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