Top 10 Controversial Verses in the Qur'an

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As the title suggests, this page lists the top 10 most controversial verses found within the Qur'an. This page is simply an overview, it does not deal with the apologetic objections that have been brought forth in recent times by a minority number of Western apologists. Articles dealing with any such objections are linked below their corresponding verses.

10. "Beat Them"

This verse advises men to beat their wives if they don't obey them:

"Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great."
Quran 5:38 orders cutting of hands of a thief.

See related: Wife Beating in Islam and Beat your Wives or "Separate from Them"? (Qur'an 4:34)

9. "Cut off their hands"

This verse orders an irreversible punishment for thieves, taking away their chance to rehabilitate, improve as human beings and become a productive member of society later on. As an example, Terrence Barkley was arrested on his 16th birthday for stealing cars, but that resulted in him getting out of gangs and into college to study criminal justice at the University of Central Missouri.[1] If Terrence's hands and feet had been cut off according to Islamic laws, none of this would have been possible.

As for the thief, both male and female, cut off their hands. It is the reward of their own deeds, an exemplary punishment from Allah. Allah is Mighty, Wise."

Sura 5:33 orders the cutting off of the hands and feet of those who wage war against Allah and his Messenger.

The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter;

See related: Amputation. For other punishments in Islam, see: Punishments

8. A man may marry four wives

This verse allows a man to marry up to four wives:

If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice.

Polygamy is highly controversial and not socially accepted in most parts of the modern world. See related: Polygamy

7. A man can marry a girl who hasn't reached puberty

This highly controversial Qur'anic verse prescribes the waiting period of a female who has not yet reached puberty thereby permitting men to have sex with girls who have not reached puberty:

"Such of your women as have passed the age of monthly courses, for them the prescribed period, if ye have any doubts, is three months, and for those who have no courses (it is the same): for those who carry (life within their wombs), their period is until they deliver their burdens: and for those who fear Allah, He will make their path easy."

Read the detailed analysis of this verse in our article: Pedophilia in the Qur'an

6. A man can have sex with prisoners of war

This verse allows men to have sex with women who are prisoners of war:

"O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those whom thy right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to thee; and daughters of thy paternal uncles and aunts, and daughters of thy maternal uncles and aunts, who migrated (from Makka) with thee; and any believing woman who dedicates her soul to the Prophet if the Prophet wishes to wed her;- this only for thee, and not for the Believers (at large); We know what We have appointed for them as to their wives and the captives whom their right hands possess;- in order that there should be no difficulty for thee. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."

See related: Rape in Islam

Quran 2:65 mentions that Jews who broke the Sabbath were turned into Apes.

5. Turned into Apes

People who broke the Sabbath were turned into apes:

"And you know well the story of those among you who broke Sabbath. We said to them: "Be apes—despised and hated by all. Thus We made their end a warning to the people of their time and succeeding generation, and an admonition for God-fearing people."

See related: Qur'an, Hadith and Scholars:Islamic Silliness and Islamic Antisemitism

4. A man may marry the wife of his adopted son

Muhammad married Zaynab, the wife of his adopted son. This verse suggests that the adopter may marry the wife of his adopted son and vice-versa:

"Allah has not made for any man two hearts within him; nor has He made your wives whose backs you liken to the backs of your mothers as your mothers, nor has He made those whom you assert to be your sons your real sons; these are the words of your mouths; and Allah speaks the truth and He guides to the way."

See related: Concerns with Islam: Adoption

2:282 and Quran 4:11 declare that a woman is only half the worth of a man in terms of witness and inheritance.

3. A woman's witness testimony is half of that of a man's

This verse says the witness testimony of one man is equivalent to the witness testimony of two women:

"O you who believe! when you deal with each other in contracting a debt for a fixed time, then write it down; and let a scribe write it down between you with fairness; and the scribe should not refuse to write as Allah has taught him, so he should write; and let him who owes the debt dictate, and he should be careful of (his duty to) Allah, his Lord, and not diminish anything from it; but if he who owes the debt is unsound in understanding, or weak, or (if) he is not able to dictate himself, let his guardian dictate with fairness; and call in to witness from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses, so that if one of the two errs, the second of the two may remind the other; and the witnesses should not refuse when they are summoned; and be not averse to writing it (whether it is) small or large, with the time of its falling due; this is more equitable in the sight of Allah and assures greater accuracy in testimony, and the nearest (way) that you may not entertain doubts (afterwards), except when it is ready merchandise which you give and take among yourselves from hand to hand, then there is no blame on you in not writing it down; and have witnesses when you barter with one another, and let no harm be done to the scribe or to the witness; and if you do (it) then surely it will be a transgression in you, and be careful of (your duty) to Allah, Allah teaches you, and Allah knows all things."

Related to this verse is Muhammad saying that women are deficient in intelligence

2. A woman inherits half of what a man inherits

This verse says that a woman inherits half of what a man inherits:

"Allah enjoins you concerning your children: The male shall have the equal of the portion of two females; then if they are more than two females, they shall have two-thirds of what the deceased has left, and if there is one, she shall have the half; and as for his parents, each of them shall have the sixth of what he has left if he has a child, but if he has no child and (only) his two parents inherit him, then his mother shall have the third; but if he has brothers, then his mother shall have the sixth after (the payment of) a bequest he may have bequeathed or a debt; your parents and your children, you know not which of them is the nearer to you in usefulness; this is an ordinance from Allah: Surely Allah is Knowing, Wise."
Quran 9:29 This is just one of many verses found in the Qur'an which encourages Islamic terrorism.

1. Fight non-Muslims

This widely known verse orders Muslims to fight non-Muslims simply because they do not believe in the same God that Muslims do:

"Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection."

This is just one of the verses in the Qur'an which is used to encourage Islamic terrorism today. This verse, together with verse 9:5 (the "Verse of the Sword"), has abrogated a large number of peaceful verses according to some classical scholars.[2] See related: Terrorism

See Also


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  1. Teen Offenders Find A Future In Missouri - CNN, August 26, 2009
  2. An-Nasikh -wal- Mansukh, by Ibn Khuzyamh states 113 verses are abrogated by the Sword verse (9: 5), and 9 verses are abrogated by the Fighting verse (9: 29): "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day." See also Abrogation