Islam and Scripture
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|"Allah says to fast from sunrise to sunset" |
"Permitted to you, on the night of the fasts, is the approach to your wives. They are your garments and ye are their garments. Allah knoweth what ye used to do secretly among yourselves; but He turned to you and forgave you; so now associate with them, and seek what Allah Hath ordained for you, and eat and drink, until the white thread of dawn appear to you distinct from its black thread; then complete your fast Till the night appears; but do not associate with your wives while ye are in retreat in the mosques. Those are Limits (set by) Allah: Approach not nigh thereto. Thus doth Allah make clear His Signs to men: that they may learn self-restraint." - Quran 2:187 (read more)
- Main Article: Qur'an
The Qur'ān (القرآن) is the central religious text of Islam. Muslims believe the Qur'an to be the book of divine guidance and direction for mankind. They also consider the text in its original Arabic, to be the literal word of Allah revealed by the angel Jibreel (Gabriel) to Prophet Muhammad over a period of twenty-three years, and view the Qur'an as God's final revelation.
Taken from Ibn Warraq's book The Origins of the Koran, Classic Essays on Islam’s Holy Book, this article discusses the following points:
- How did the Koran come to us.?—That is the compilation and the transmission of the Koran.
- When was it written, and who wrote it?
- What are the sources of the Koran? Where were the stories, legends, and principles that abound in the Koran acquired?
- What is the Koran? Since there never was a textus receptus ne varietur of the Koran, one needs to determine its authenticity.
Except for the first surah, Al-Fatiha, the Qur'an is broadly describable as being organized by descending length of the sura. That is, the longest sura is Sura 2 and the (second) shortest is Sura 114. While standard prints of the Qur'an make no distinction between passages revealed to the prophet in Mecca or Medina, Islamic scholarship and scholars generally agree that a part of the Qur'an was revealed before and a part after the prophet's hijra, or flight, from Mecca to Medina.
- Main Article: Chronological Order of the Qur'an, See also: The Chronological Shift from Pacifism to Jihad
This page lists the chronological (or revelational) order of the Qur'an. It is clear that whereas the earlier Meccan verses of the Qur'an focus on matters of belief and general behavior, the later, Medinan verses of the Qur'an, revealed during the prophets political and military reign in Arabia, focus a great deal more on matters of Islamic law and jihad. In this order, it is also clear that, over time, the revelations changed from a poetic and morally exhortative style in Mecca to a more straight-forward and often aggressive style in the later years in Medina.
The messages of later Medinan Qur'anic revelations changed and contradicted earlier Meccan ones. So the Qur'an, read superficially, in its non-chronological organization, can support any number of views on several subjects. However, in Islam there is a method in sorting through the various verses; this is known as the doctrine of abrogation (Naskh). Some apologists will say that this doctrine does not exist or is not a part of mainstream Islam. However, when you view the chronological order of the revelations, it is difficult and perhaps impossible to avoid (for instance, some verses in the Qur'an describe wine-vineyards in a noble light, whereas others describe alcohol as among the works of the devil - this, and numerous other examples, are only comprehensible in light of the doctrine of abrogation).
When discussing the applicability of the commands of the Qur'an in modern times, some argue that less agreeable verses apply only to its original revalational circumstance. However, such ideas regarding the evolution and changing of Islamic law are considered heresy in orthodox Islam. This article reviews those verses which are most frequently dismissed or historicized as only being applicable in the time & place of revelation, and considers the plausibility of these claims in relation to how Islamic law was understood for more than a thousand years (and how it remains understood, in this way, by the overwhelming majority of Islamic scholars today).
"God's Closing Statement"
Chapter 9 of the Qur'an- Al Taubah (Repentance) is considered to be the closing remarks of Allah. The only Surah (chapter) said to have been revealed after this is Al Nasr (Victory), which consists of only a few verses. That this chapter is openly militant, containing some of the most controversial verses regarding Jihad, while also being something to the effect of "God's closing statement", would seem to make militant and expansionist interpretations of Islam understandable. The chapter encourages the narrative of dividing the world into the domain of believers (Dar al-Islam) and unbelievers (dar al-kufr) or war (dar al-harb), with the apparent aim of preserving endless enmity between the two. Given its historical context and contemporary importance, this chapter of the Qur'an proves to be essential reading for those interested in understanding Islam, its doctrine's, and it's ultimate world view.
The textual integrity of scripture is an important topic in Muslim circles and will be brought up by both Islamic scholars and non-scholars alike. Many claim the text of the Qur'an today is identical to that received by Muhammad, and present this preservation as being of the foremost miracles and proofs of Islam. This article looks at the criticisms of and problems inherent in this position, especially as modern scholarship has revealed previously unknown or popularly ignored or sidelined facts of early Islamic history (particularly regarding the compilation and preservation of the Qur'an).
The similarities between the Qur'an and previous scriptures has been noted since the beginning of Islam. However, the Judeo-Christian tales and their Qur'anic counterparts do not always match. There are three explanations for this:
- The original Judeo-Christian scriptures have been corrupted (as Islamic figures often claim).
- Muhammad imperfectly borrowed from the Judeo-Christian scriptures.
- The Qur'an has been corrupted.
This series of articles looks at the following parallelisms between the Qur'an and Judeo-Christian Scriptures:
Furthermore, the claim that the Quran describes the Judeo-Christians scriptures as "corrupted" has been substantially critiqued, and is most probably untrue.
- Main Article: Contradictions in the Quran
This section deals with contradictions in the Qur'an. It is no secret that the Qur'an contains contradictions, as Islamic scholars are familiar with the Abrogation laws within Islam. Below, you will find a large amount of discrepancies. Even when compared with the alleged discrepancies within the Bible, the list is huge. This is especially apparent when you consider the Qur'an is less than a third of the size, and is supposed to have been narrated by a single individual, rather than be a collection of several books authored by various individuals, and compiled over the course of many years.
The Qur'an permits pedophilia. The following Qur'anic verse allows sex with pre-pubescent girls who have not yet menstruated.
What is being discussed is the Iddat (العدة), which is a waiting period a female must observe before she can remarry. According to this verse, the stipulated waiting period for a divorced girl who has not yet menstruated is three months.
The Arabic writing system was still in development during the time of Muhammad, so the Qur'an was originally written without today's diacritical marks. These were added years after the final Qur'anic revelation and Muhammad's death. The problem with this is the addition or subtraction of diacritical marks radically alter the meaning of Arabic text, thereby potentially altering Allah’s book. In this article we examine the use of diacritical marks and the problems they posed when they were added to (and, today, removed from) the Qur'an.
Many use paraphrased or outright distorted misinterpretations of Qur'anic verses to propagate Islam in the West. Below is one example.
These pages discuss a few of the more popular distortions, and provides accurate translations and the accompanying orthodox interpretations.
Some of the most prominent and officially recognized english translators of the Qur'an (like Yusuf Ali, Dr. Rashad Khalifa and Muhammad Asad) have often mistranslated the most controversial and problematic verses in Qur'an. That these inaccurate translations are most common with verses that would be considered barbaric, unscientific, or crude in the West suggests that these mistranslations were not unintentional or due to some unique difficulty of the Arabic words used in these verses.
These pages discuss a few of the more popular ones in detail, and provides you with the correct translations.
This page lists various types of scientific errors found in the Qur'an. The subjects of these errors include; Evolution, Astronomy, Biology, Geology, Zoology and many others which are often confirmed by the hadith.
The best-known chapter of the Qur'an is al-Fatiha ‘The Opening’. This surah is recited as part of all the mandatory daily prayers and repeated within each prayer. A faithful Muslim who said all their prayers would recite this surah at least seventeen times a day, and over five thousand times a year. The hadith literature make negative references to the Jews and Christians in connection with this surah. Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan and Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din al-Hilali incorporate this within their translation. Ayah 6-7 thus reads; "Guide us to the Straight Way. The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians)." It is remarkable that the daily prayers of every Muslim, part of the core of Islam, include a rejection of Christians and Jews as misguided and objects of Allah’s wrath.
Muqatta`āt (Arabic): مقطعات, are unique letter combinations that begin certain chapters of the Quran. Muqatta`āt, literally, means abbreviated or shortened. They are also known as Fawātih (فواتح) or openers as they form the opening verse of the respective chapters. In Arabic language, these letters are written together like a word, but each letter is pronounced separately. None of these combinations actually form a meaningful Arabic word. These letters appear joined together. Muqatta'at have been and continue to be a topic of intense research and academic discussions in Islamic literature and Quranic studies.
|"The prophet drinks wine" |
"Narrated by Gaber bin Abdullah: We were with the messenger of Allah, PBUH and he asked for a drink. One of his men said: "Oh Messenger of Allah, Can we offer you wine to drink?" He said Yes. He (Gaber) went out looking for the drink and came back with a cup of wine. The messenger (PBUH) asked:”Have you fermented it, even with one piece of ferment?” He (Gaber) said "yes" and he (Muhammad) drank." - Sahih Muslim 3753 (read more)
- Main Article: Hadith
The Hadith (الحديث ahadith, plural) are traditions of Muhammad, giving us important information about him and his life. They are usually narrations about a certain incident in which he said, did, or tacitly approved of something. Unlike the Qur'an, they typically follow a chronological order, and most of them are compiled by category (i.e. Jihad, Nikah, etc.). The Hadith is where Muslims derive the majority of Islamic law from and determine the Sunnah (or way) of the prophet, which is all based on Muhammad's words, actions, and practices. This is key to Islam since Muslims are commanded to obey and emulate him, so even the most insignificant of actions on his part have an effect upon the doctrines and laws of Islam.
Daleel (دليل) is an Arabic word meaning evidence. In regards to Islamic hadith, Daleel can either be Maudu (fabricated), Da`if (weak), Hasan (good), or Sahih (authentic). Generally in Islam, only the authentic (sahih) and good (hasan) hadiths are used in deriving the rules. The weak (da`if) hadiths are of much lesser value for the purpose of formulating sharia, and the fabricated (Maudu) narrations are not even considered to be hadith at all (but can sometimes be useful as representatives of common perspectives circulating at the time of the fabricated hadith's origination).
Sahih (صَحِيْح) is an Arabic word that means genuine/authentic/sound. It is used in classification of ahadith and is the highest level of authenticity given to a narration that pass the highest level of authentication. When dealing with ahadith, a sahih narration is the closest you can get to: "yes this incident definitely happened." Therefore, in orthodox Islam, when refusing to accept the content of a narration, one must generally prove that a sahih hadith is in fact inauthentic in order to reject it, since rejection based on a dislike for the attested actions/statements of the prophet is not considered a rigorous, consistent, or reliable basis for rejection.
The Importance of Hadith
The Qur'an, often presented as the exclusive domain of God's commands, also contains numerous injunctions from Muhammad himself, and indeed commands obedience of Muhammad.
In fact, doctrines as important as the Five Pillars of Islam lack explicit formulation in the Qur'an (as many would argue is the case with the Trinity in the Bible), and are only found in the hadith.
In Islam, Muhammad is known as uswa hasana, al-Insān al-Kāmil. It is an Arabic phrase loosely translated, meaning, the "perfect human. We find in the Hadith, Muhammad repeatedly told his followers to follow his Sunnah (example) and in the Qur'an we see that Allah even asserts his morality as being “sublime” (68:4). This particular Islamic doctrine encourages Muslims to emulate Muhammad and his (7th century) actions as closely as they can, as a form of devotion to Allah.
Weak and Fabricated Hadith
Some have started to reject sahih (authentic) hadith, in favour of maudu (fabricated) or da`if (weak) ones. Some of these hadith are accepted as fabrications without any scriptural sources.
This page lists some of the most humorous narrations that are found in Hadith collections.
This page lists some of the contradictions that are found in Hadith collections, suggesting they cannot be treated as being categorically flawless.
This page lists various types of scientific errors found within the Hadith. The subjects of these errors include; Astronomy, Biology, Geology, Zoology and many others which often themselves disagree with the scientific claims made in the Qur'an. Some of the narrations further explain vague Qur'anic verses in ways that are scientifically problematic.
"Apostasy is of two types: ordinary apostasy and extreme apostasy, for which execution is prescribed. In both cases there is evidence that it is essential to execute the apostate, but the evidence indicating that the sentence of death may be waived if the person repents does not apply to both types of apostasy. Rather the evidence indicates that that is allowed only in the first case – i.e., ordinary apostasy." - Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah
Other Important Texts
Tafsirs are commentaries written by scholars, using the hadith collections to explain the meanings of verses in the Qur'an (as the Qur'an itself does not provide the context of its verses). The most respected and widely used being the Tafsir ibn Kathir. Many who reject the more unsavory aspects of Islam attempt to deflect criticism away from the Qur'an by claiming it can only be correctly understood when read in conjunction with an authoritative tafsir. However, more often than not, the tafsirs render the verses of the Qur'an in an even less favorable and more problematic light.
The Sirat Rasul Allah (Life of the Messenger of Allah), by ibn Ishaq is a collection of hadith that is arranged in chronological order, forming the earliest biography of Muhammad. This, along with the Qur'an and hadith, are sometimes referred to as the Trilogy of Islam, as all major doctrines are found within these three texts. The sira and hadith collectively form Muhammad's Sunnah, and with the Qur'an, they form the basis for Islamic law, or the Shari'ah.
Books of Fiqh
Books of Islamic jurisprudence (فقه Fiqh) are complimentary expansions of the Shari'ah (Qur'an and Sunnah), written by Islamic jurists (experts on Islam). Reliance of the Traveller: The Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law Umdat Al-Salik is just one example of many (however, these books are often distorted in their English translations to appear less brutal or absurd to Western audiences; an example of this can be found here).
This page quotes statistical analyses of Muslim scriptures from various sources. A few examples of the statistics include:
- There are 164 Jihad verses in the Qur'an and nearly 500 verses (roughly 1 out of every 12) that speak of Hell.
- Some early scholars suggested that as many as 122 peaceful Qur'anic verses had been abrogated by the Sword verse (9:5) and Fighting verse (9:29).
Muhammad in Other Scriptures
The figure of Muhammad and the religion he founded is often depicted negatively in other religious scriptures.
In the Bhavishya Purana, one of the eighteen major Hindu Puranas, Muhammad is depicted as a reincarnated demon, Islam as a demonic religion, and its followers as "the corrupters of religion".
In the Haran Gawaitha, a Mandaean text which tells the history of the Mandaeans and their arrival in Iraq as Nasoreans from Jerusalem, Muhammad is referred to as "the Son-of-Slaughter, the Arab", "the most degraded of false prophets", "the Seal of prophets of the Lie", who "converted people to himself by the sword".
And in the Kālachakra Tantra, a ninth century Tibetan Buddhist text, Muhammad is referred to as a demonic incarnation and a "false impostor". Muslims are described as invading "barbarians", bringing with them the barbarian religion ("mleccha-dharma"), a religion of violence ("himsa-dharma") that also advocates savage behavior ("raudra-karman").
- Qur'an, Hadith and Scholars - This section of WikiIslam lists quotations from the Qur'an, Hadith and Islamic Scholars
- Compendium of Muslim Texts
- The History of al-Tabari
Other Core Articles
Core articles contain an overview of other articles related to a specific issue:
- Islam and Apostasy
- Islam and Homosexuality
- Islam and Miracles
- Child Marriage in Islamic Law
- Islam and Science
- Islam and the People of the Book
- Islam and Violence
- Islam and Women
- Qur'ān, Chapter 2, Verses 23-24
- Living Religions: An Encyclopaedia of the World's Faiths, Mary Pat Fisher, 1997, page 338, I.B. Tauris Publishers,
- Qur'an, Chapter 17, Verse 106
- Qur'an, Chapter 33, Verse 40
- Watton, Victor, (1993), A student's approach to world religions:Islam, Hodder & Stoughton, pg 1. ISBN 0-340-58795-4
- Jacob Bender - Jewish-Muslim Dialogue and the Value of Peace - The American Muslim, July 19, 2007