Criticism of the Quran

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The Quran is viewed to be the scriptural foundation of Islam and is believed by Muslims to have been sent down by Allah (God) and revealed to Muhammad by the angel Jabreel (Gabriel). The Quran has been subject to criticism both in the sense of being the subject of an interdisciplinary field of study where secular, (mostly) Western scholars set aside doctrines of its divinity, perfection, unchangeability, etc. accepted by Muslim Islamic scholars;[1] but also in the sense of being found fault with by those — including Christian missionaries and other skeptics hoping to convert Muslims — who argue it is not divine, not perfect, and/or not particularly morally elevated.

In "critical-historical study" scholars (such as John Wansbrough, Joseph Schacht, Patricia Crone, Michael Cook) seek to investigate and verify the Quran's origin, text, composition, history,[1] examining questions, puzzles, difficult text, etc. as they would non-sacred ancient texts.[2] The most common criticisms concern various pre-existing sources that Quran relies upon, internal consistency, clarity and ethical teachings. According to Toby Lester, many Muslims find not only the religious fault-finding but also Western scholarly investigation of textual evidence "disturbing and offensive".[1]

Historical authenticity[edit]

Traditional view[edit]

According to Islamic tradition, which criticism may question or contradict, the Quran followed a passage from heaven down to the angel Gabriel (Jabreel) who revealed it in the seventh century CE over 23 years to an Hejazi Arab trader, Muhammad, who became the Prophet of Islam.[3][Note 1] Muhammad shared these revelations -- which brought uncompromising monotheism to humanity -- with his companions who wrote them down and/or memorized them.[5] From these memories and scraps, a standard edition was carefully complied and edited under the supervision of Caliph Uthman not long after Muhammad's death.[6] Copies of this codex or "Mus'haf" were sent to the major centers of what was by this time a rapidly expanding empire, and all other incomplete or "imperfect" variants of the Quranic revelation were ordered by Uthman to be destroyed.[7] In the next few centuries, the religion and empire of Islam solidified, and an enormous body of religious literature and laws were developed, including commentaries/exegeses (Tafsir) to explain the Quran.

Thus, according to Islamic teaching, it was insured that the wording of the Quranic text available today corresponds exactly to the literal, infallible,[8] "perfect, timeless", "absolute"[1] unadulterated word of God revealed to Muhammad.[9] That revelation in turn is identical to an eternal “mother of the book”[Note 2] the archetype[10]/prototype[11] of the Quran. This was not created/written by God, but an attribute of Him, co-eternal and kept with Him in heaven.[12][Note 3]

Muslim views of criticism[edit]

For Muslims the contents of the Quran have been "a source of doctrine, law, poetic and spiritual inspiration, solace, zeal, knowledge, and mystical experience."[13] "Millions and millions" of whom "refer to the Koran daily to explain their actions and to justify their aspirations",[Note 4] and in recent years many consider it the source of scientific knowledge.[14][15] Revered by pious Muslims as "the holy of holies",[16] whose sound moves some to "tears and esctasy",[17] it is the physical symbol of the faith,[13] the text often used as a charm[18] on occasions of birth, death, marriage. The traditional Muslim understanding of the Quran is not that it is simply divinely inspired, but the literal word of God;[19] the last and complete message from God, from his final messenger (Muhammad)[20] superseding the Old and New Testament and purified of "accretions of Judaism and Christianity".[21][22]

Muslims have developed their own Quranic studies or "Quranic sciences" (‘ulum al Qur’an)[23] over the centuries,[24] following the Quranic encouragement "Will they not contemplate the Quran?"(4:82).[25] There are two types of exegesis to explain and interpret the Quran: tafsir (literal interpretation) and ta’wil (allegorical interpretation). Other issues studied are kalimat dakhila (the investigation of the foreign origin of some Quranic terms);[26] naskh (studying contradictory verses[Note 5] to determine which should be abrogated in favor of the other), study of "occasions of revelation" (connecting Quranic verses with "episodes of Muhammad's career based on hadith and biographies of him -- which are known as sira), chronology of revelation,[23] the division of quranic chapters (surahs) into "Meccan surah" (those believed to have been revealed in Mecca before the hijra) and "Medinan surah (revealed afterward in the city of Medina).[27] According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr, these traditional religious sciences

"provide all the answers to questions posed by modern western orientalists about the structure and text of the Koran, except, of course, those questions that issue from the rejection of the Divine Origin of the Koran and its reduction to a work by the prophet. Once the revealed nature of the Koran is rejected, then problems arise. But these are problems of orientalist that arise not from scholarship but from a certain theological and philosophical position that is usually hidden under the guise of rationality and objective scholarship. For Muslims there has never been the need to address these 'problems' ..."[24]

In contrast, many of the original non-Muslim scholars of the Quran worked "in the context of an openly declared hostility" between Christianity and Islam, with an eye to debunking Islam or proselytizing against it.[1] The nineteenth-century orientalist and colonial administrator William Muir, wrote that the Quran was one of "the most stubborn enemies of Civilisation, Liberty, and the Truth which the world has yet known."[28] In the twentieth century, scholars of the early Soviet Union working in the context of dialectical materialism and fighting the "opium of the people" went on about how Muhammad and the first Caliphs were "mythical figures" and that "the motive force" of early Islam was "the mercantile bourgeoisie of Mecca and Medina" and "slave-owning" Arab society.[29]

At least in part in reaction, some Muslim opposition to "The Orientalist enterprise of Qur'anic studies" has been intense.[1] In 1987 Muslim critic S. Parvez Manzoor, denounced it as conceived in "the polemical marshes of medieval Christianity".

At the greatest hour of his worldly-triumph, the Western man, coordinating the powers of the State, Church and Academia, launched his most determined assault on the citadel of Muslim faith. All the aberrant streaks of his arrogant personality—its reckless rationalism, its world-domineering phantasy and its sectarian fanaticism—joined in an unholy conspiracy to dislodge the Muslim Scripture from its firmly entrenched position as the epitome of historic authenticity and moral unassailability.[30]

In recent twenty first century, some Muslim Islamic scholars have warned against lending "legitimacy to non-Muslim scholars’ understanding about Islam" by engaging with them, and that even a rigorously scholarly academic work on Islam such as the Brill Encyclopedia of Islam "is filled with insults and disparaging remarks about the Qur’an".[31]

Textual criticism of the Quran, the structure and style of the surahs, has been opposed on grounds that it questions the divine origin of the Quran.[3] Seyyed Hossein Nasr has denounced the “rationalist and agnostic methods of higher criticism” as similar to dissecting and subjecting Jesus to “modern medical techniques” to determine whether he was born miraculously or was the son of Joseph,[32][14][1] In his influential Orientalism, Edward Said declared Western study of the Middle East — including the religion of Islam — inextricably tied to Western Imperialism, making the study inherently political and servile to power.[33]

These complaints have been compared to those of other religious conservatives (Christian) against textual historical criticism of their own sacred text (the Bible).[Note 6] Non-Muslim scholar Patricia Crone acknowledges the call for humility towards the scared of other cultures — "who are you to tamper with their legacy?" — but defends challenging of orthodox views of Islamic history, saying "we Islamicists are not trying to destroy anyone's faith."[1]

Not all Muslims oppose criticism; Roslan Abdul-Rahim writes that critical study of the Quran "will not hurt the Muslims; it will only help them" because "no amount of criticism can change that fact" that the "Quran is truly a divine piece of work as the Muslim theology stipulates and as the Muslims have so strongly defended".[34] Some scholars have suffered for attempting to apply literary or philological techniques to the Quran, such as Egyptian "Dean of Arabic Literature" Taha Husain, who lost his post at Cairo University in 1931,[Note 7] Egyptian professor Mohammad Ahmad Khalafallah, whose dissertation was rejected,[38][39] a non-Muslim German professor Günter Lüling (dismissed),[40][39] and Egyptian professor Nasr Abu Zaid, who was forced to seek exile in Europe after being declared an apostate and threatened with death for violating a "right of God".[Note 8]

Non-Muslim views[edit]

Not all non-Muslim scholars of Islam are interested in critical examination/analysis. Patricia Crone and Ibn Rawandi argue that Western scholarship lost its critical attitude to the sources of the origins of Islam around the time of the First World War." Andrew Rippin has expressed surprise that

students acquainted with approaches such as source criticism, oral-formulaic composition, literary analysis and structuralism, all quite commonly employed in the study of Judaism and Christianity, such naive historical study seems to suggest that Islam is being approached with less than academic candor.[43]

Scholars have complained about "'dogmatic Islamophilia' of most Arabists" (Karl Binswanger);[44] that in one western country (France as of 1983) "it is no longer acceptable to criticize Islam or the Arab countries" (Jacque Ellul);[45] that among some historians ("like Norman Daniel") understanding of Islam "has given way to apologetics pure and simple" (Maxime Rodinson).[46][47]

However, in the 1970s, what has been described as a "wave of skeptical scholars" challenged a great deal of the received wisdom in Islamic studies.[48]: 23  They argued that the Islamic historical tradition had been greatly corrupted in transmission. That there was a lack of supporting evidence consistent with the traditional narrative, such as the lack of archaeological evidence, and discrepancies with non-Muslim literary sources.[49]They tried to correct or reconstruct the early history of Islam from other, presumably more reliable, sources such as coins, inscriptions, and non-Islamic sources.

Uniform Quran[edit]

Although there is some disagreement,[Note 9] the collection of verses for the compilation of a written Quran is said to have begun under Caliph Abu Bakr.[Note 10] The last recensions to make an official and uniform Quran in a single dialect were effected under Caliph Uthman (644–656) starting some twelve years after the Prophet's death and finishing twenty-four years after the effort began, with all other existing personal and individual copies and dialects of the Quran being burned:

When they had copied the sheets, Uthman sent a copy to each of the main centres of the empire with the command that all other Qur'an materials, whether in single sheet form, or in whole volumes, were to be burned.[53]

It is traditionally believed the earliest writings had the advantage of being checked by people who already knew the text by heart, for they had learned it at the time of the revelation itself and had subsequently recited it constantly. Since the official compilation was completed two decades after Muhammad's death, the Uthman text has been scrupulously preserved. Bucaille believed that this did not give rise to any problems of this Quran's authenticity.[54]

Qira'at and Ahruf[edit]

Evolution of early Arabic script (9th–11th century), with the Basmala as an example, from kufic Qur'ān manuscripts: (1) Early 9th century, script with no dots or diacritic marks;(2) and (3) 9th–10th century under the Abbasid dynasty, Abu al-Aswad's system established red dots with each arrangement or position indicating a different short vowel; later, a second black-dot system was used to differentiate between letters like fā’ and qāf; (4) 11th century, in al-Farāhidi's system (system used today) dots were changed into shapes resembling the letters to transcribe the corresponding long vowels.

Despite caliph Uthman's reported work to standardize the Quran, and the belief by many Muslims that it "exists exactly as it had been revealed to the Prophet; not a word - nay, not a dot of it - has been changed" (Abul A'la Maududi),[55] there are not one but ten different recognized versions of the Quran, known as qiraʼat (meaning 'recitations or readings').[Note 11] These exist because the Quran was originally spread and passed down orally, and though there was a written text, it did not include most vowels or distinguish between many consonants.[56] [Note 12] Consequently, although the differences between the Qira'at are slight and only one version of the ten is in wide use,[Note 13] the differences between the "readings" go beyond pronunciation into consonants and meaning.[56]

In addition to the Qira'at there are also Ahruf—both being readings of the Quran with "unbroken chain(s) of transmission going back to the Prophet",[59] but all but one ahruf allegedly being forgotten after Uthman standardized the Quran.[60] There are multiple views on the nature of the ahruf and how they relate to the qira'at, the general view being that caliph Uthman eliminated all of the ahruf except one during the 7th century CE.[61] The ten qira'at were canonized by Islamic scholars in early centuries of Islam.[62] Prior to this period, there is evidence that the unpointed text could be read in different ways, with different meanings.

Even after centuries of Islamic scholarship, the variants of the Qira'at have been said to continue "to astound and puzzle" Islamic scholars (Ammar Khatib and Nazir Khan),[59] and make up "the most difficult topics" in Quranic studies (according to Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi).[63] While in theory Qira'at include differences in consonantal diacritics (i‘jām), vowel marks (ḥarakāt), but not the consonantal skeleton (rasm) which should be uniform in all Qira'at, there are differences in (rasm).[64] resulting in materially different readings (see examples).[65]

Examples of differences between two Qira'at:

Ḥafs ʿan ʿĀṣim and Warš ʿan Nāfiʿ for eight verses
رواية ورش عن نافع رواية حفص عن عاصم Ḥafs Warsh verse
يَعْمَلُونَ تَعْمَلُونَ you do they do Al-Baqara 2:85
مَا تَنَزَّلُ مَا نُنَزِّلُ We do not send down... they do not come down... Al-Ḥijr 15:8
لِيَهَبَ لِأَهَبَ that I may bestow that He may bestow Maryam 19:19[66]
قُل قَالَ he said Say! Al-Anbiyā' 21:4
كَثِيرًا كَبِيرًا mighty multitudinous Al-Aḥzāb 33:68
بِمَا فَبِمَا then it is what it is what Al-Shura 42:30
نُدْخِلْهُ يُدْخِلْهُ He makes him enter We make him enter Al-Fatḥ 48:17[67][68]
عِندَ عِبَٰدُ who are the slaves of the Beneficent who are with the Beneficent al-Zukhruf 43:19

While the change of voice or pronouns in these verse may seem confusing, it is very common in the Quran[69][70] and found even in the same verse.[71] (It is known as iltifāt.)

  • Q.2:85 the "you" in Hafs refers to the actions of more than one person and the "They" in Warsh is also referring to the actions of more than one person.
  • Q.15:8 "We" refers to God in Hafs and the "They" in Warsh refers to what is not being sent down by God (The Angels).
  • Q.19:19 (li-ʾahaba v. li-yahaba) is a well known difference, both for the theological interest in the alternative pronouns said to have been uttered by the angel, and for requiring unusual orthography.[66]
  • Q.48:17, the "He" in Hafs is referring to God and the "We" in Warsh is also referring to God, this is due to the fact that God refers to Himself in both the singular form and plural form by using the royal "We".
  • Q.43:19 shows an example of a consonantal dotting difference that gives a different root word, in this case ʿibādu v. ʿinda.

The second set of examples below compares the other canonical readings with that of Ḥafs ʿan ʿĀṣim. These are not nearly as widely read today, though all are available in print and studied for recitation.

There is a hadith related by Tabarī minimizing confusion over Qira'at or Ahruf. Tabarī prefaces his early commentary on the Quran illustrating that the precise way to read the verses of the sacred text was not fixed even in the day of the Prophet. Two men disputing a verse in the text asked Ubay ibn Ka'b to mediate, and he disagreed with them, coming up with a third reading. To resolve the question, the three went to Muhammad. He asked first one-man to read out the verse, and announced it was correct. He made the same response when the second alternative reading was delivered. He then asked Ubay to provide his own recital, and, on hearing the third version, Muhammad also pronounced it 'Correct!'. Noting Ubay's perplexity and inner thoughts, Muhammad then told him, 'Pray to God for protection from the accursed Satan.'[72]

Extant copies prior to Uthman version[edit]

Sanaa manuscript[edit]

Manuscripts found in Sana'a. The "subtexts" revealed using UV light are very different from today's Qur'an. Gerd R. Puin believed this to mean an 'evolving' text.[73] A similar phrase is used by Lawrence Conrad for biography of Muhammad. Because, according to his studies, Islamic scientific view on the date of birth of the Prophet until the second century A.H. had exhibited a diversity of 85 years.[74]

In 1972, a cache of 12,000 ancient Quranic parchment fragments was discovered in a mosque in Sana'a, Yemen – commonly known as the Sana'a manuscripts. Of the fragments, all except 1500–2000 were assigned to 926 distinct Quranic manuscripts as of 1997.

The manuscript is a palimpsest and comprises two layers of text, both of which are written in the Hijazi script. The upper text largely conforms to the standard 'Uthmanic' Quran in text and in the standard order of chapters (suwar, singular sūrah), whereas the lower text (the original text that was erased and written over by the upper text, but can still be read with the help of ultraviolet light and computer processing) contains many variations from the standard Uthmani text, and the sequence of its chapters corresponds to no known Quranic order.

For example, in sura 2, verse 87, the lower text has wa-qaffaynā 'alā āthārihi whereas the standard text has wa-qaffaynā min ba'dihi. The Sana'a manuscript has exactly the same verses and the same order of verses as the standard Quran.[75] The order of the suras in the Sana'a codex is different from the order in the standard Quran.[76] Such variants are similar to the ones reported for the Quran codices of Companions such as Ibn Masud and Ubay ibn Ka'b. However, variants occur much more frequently in the Sana'a codex, which contains "by a rough estimate perhaps twenty-five times as many [as Ibn Mas'ud's reported variants]".[77]

On the basis of studies of the trove of Quranic manuscripts discovered in Sana'a, Gerd R. Puin concluded that the Quran as we have it is a 'cocktail of texts', some perhaps preceding Muhammad's day, and that the text as we have it evolved.[78] However, other scholars, such as Asma Hilali presumed that the San'aa palimpsest seems to be written down by a learning scribe as a form of "exercise" in the context of a "school exercise", which explains a potential reason of variations in this text from the standard Quran Mushafs available today.[79] Another way to explain these variations is that San'aa manuscript may have been part of a surviving copy of Quranic Mus'haf which escaped the 3rd caliph Uthman's attempt to destroy all the dialects (Ahruf) of Quran except the Quraishi one (in order to unite the Muslims of that time).

Birmingham/Paris manuscript[edit]

The early Arabic script transcribed 28 consonants, of which only 6 can be readily distinguished, the remaining 22 having formal similarities which means that what specific consonant is intended can only be determined by context. It was only with the introduction of Arabic diacritics some centuries later, that an authorized vocalization of the text, and how it was to be read, was established and became canonical.[80] In 2015, the University of Birmingham disclosed that scientific tests may show a Quran manuscript in its collection as one of the oldest known and believe it was written close to the time of Muhammad. The findings in 2015 of the Birmingham Manuscripts lead Joseph E. B. Lumbard, Assistant Professor of Classical Islam, Brandeis University, to comment:[81]

These recent empirical findings are of fundamental importance. They establish that as regards the broad outlines of the history of the compilation and codification of the Quranic text, the classical Islamic sources are far more reliable than had hitherto been assumed. Such findings thus render the vast majority of Western revisionist theories regarding the historical origins of the Quran untenable.

Tests by the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit indicated with a probability of more than 94 percent that the parchment dated from 568 to 645.[82] Dr Saud al-Sarhan, Director of Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh, questions whether the parchment might have been reused as a palimpsest, and also noted that the writing had chapter separators and dotted verse endings – features in Arabic scripts which are believed not to have been introduced to the Quran until later.[82] Al-Sarhan's criticisms was affirmed by several Saudi-based experts in Quranic history, who strongly rebut any speculation that the Birmingham/Paris Quran could have been written during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad. They emphasize that while Muhammad was alive, Quranic texts were written without chapter decoration, marked verse endings or use of coloured inks; and did not follow any standard sequence of surahs. They maintain that those features were introduced into Quranic practice in the time of the Caliph Uthman, and so the Birmingham leaves could have been written later, but not earlier.[83]

Professor Süleyman Berk of the faculty of Islamic studies at Yalova University has noted the strong similarity between the script of the Birmingham leaves and those of a number of Hijazi Qurans in the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, which were brought to Istanbul from the Great Mosque of Damascus following a fire in 1893. Professor Berk recalls that these manuscripts had been intensively researched in association with an exhibition on the history of the Quran, The Quran in its 1,400th Year held in Istanbul in 2010, and the findings published by François Déroche as Qur'ans of the Umayyads in 2013.[84] In that study, the Paris Quran, BnF Arabe 328(c), is compared with Qurans in Istanbul, and concluded as having been written "around the end of the seventh century and the beginning of the eighth century."[85]

In December 2015 Professor François Déroche of the Collège de France confirmed the identification of the two Birmingham leaves with those of the Paris Qur'an BnF Arabe 328(c), as had been proposed by Dr Alba Fedeli. Prof. Deroche expressed reservations about the reliability of the radiocarbon dates proposed for the Birmingham leaves, noting instances elsewhere in which radiocarbon dating had proved inaccurate in testing Qurans with an explicit endowment date; and also that none of the counterpart Paris leaves had yet been carbon-dated. Jamal bin Huwaireb, managing director of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, has proposed that, were the radiocarbon dates to be confirmed, the Birmingham/Paris Qur'an might be identified with the text known to have been assembled by the first Caliph, Abu Bakr, between 632 and 634 CE.[86]

Further research and findings[edit]

Critical research of historic events and timeliness of eyewitness accounts reveal the effort of later traditionalists to consciously promote, for nationalistic purposes, the centrist concept of Mecca and prophetic descent from Ismail, in order to grant a Hijazi orientation to the emerging religious identity of Islam:

For, our attempt to date the relevant traditional material confirms on the whole the conclusions which Schacht arrived at from another field, specifically the tendency of isnads to grow backwards.[87]

In their book 1977 Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World, written before more recent discoveries of early Quranic material, Patricia Crone and Michael Cook challenge the traditional account of how the Quran was compiled, writing that "there is no hard evidence for the existence of the Koran in any form before the last decade of the seventh century."[88][78] Crone, Wansbrough, and Nevo argued, that all the primary sources which exist are from 150 to 300 years after the events which they describe, and thus are chronologically far removed from those events.[89][90][91]

Quran from the 9th century. It was alleged to be a 7th-century original from Uthman era.

It is generally acknowledged that the work of Crone and Cook was a fresh approach in its reconstruction of early Islamic history, but the theory has been almost universally rejected.[92] Van Ess has dismissed it stating that "a refutation is perhaps unnecessary since the authors make no effort to prove it in detail ... Where they are only giving a new interpretation of well-known facts, this is not decisive. But where the accepted facts are consciously put upside down, their approach is disastrous."[93] R. B. Serjeant states that "[Crone and Cook's thesis]... is not only bitterly anti-Islamic in tone, but anti-Arabian. Its superficial fancies are so ridiculous that at first one wonders if it is just a 'leg pull', pure 'spoof'."[94] Francis Edward Peters states that "Few have failed to be convinced that what is in our copy of the Quran is, in fact, what Muhammad taught, and is expressed in his own words".[95]

In 2006, legal scholar Liaquat Ali Khan claimed that Crone and Cook later explicitly disavowed their earlier book.[96][97] Patricia Crone in an article published in 2006 provided an update on the evolution of her conceptions since the printing of the thesis in 1976. In the article she acknowledges that Muhammad existed as a historical figure and that the Quran represents "utterances" of his that he believed to be revelations. However she states that the Quran may not be the complete record of the revelations. She also accepts that oral histories and Muslim historical accounts cannot be totally discounted, but remains skeptical about the traditional account of the Hijrah and the standard view that Muhammad and his tribe were based in Mecca. She describes the difficulty in the handling of the hadith because of their "amorphous nature" and purpose as documentary evidence for deriving religious law rather than as historical narratives.[98]

The author of the Apology of al-Kindy Abd al-Masih ibn Ishaq al-Kindi (not the famed philosopher al-Kindi) claimed that the narratives in the Quran were "all jumbled together and intermingled" and that this was "an evidence that many different hands have been at work therein, and caused discrepancies, adding or cutting out whatever they liked or disliked".[99] Bell and Watt suggested that the variation in writing style throughout the Quran, which sometimes involves the use of rhyming, may have indicated revisions to the text during its compilation. They claimed that there were "abrupt changes in the length of verses; sudden changes of the dramatic situation, with changes of pronoun from singular to plural, from second to third person, and so on".[100] At the same time, however, they noted that "[i]f any great changes by way of addition, suppression or alteration had been made, controversy would almost certainly have arisen; but of that there is little trace." They also note that "Modern study of the Quran has not in fact raised any serious question of its authenticity. The style varies, but is almost unmistakable."[101]

Questions about history and origins[edit]

Questions about the text[edit]

The Quran itself states that its revelations are themselves "miraculous 'signs'"[8]—inimitable (I'jaz) in their eloquence and perfection[102] and proof of the authenticity of Muhammad's prophethood. (For example 2:2, 17:88-89, 29:47, 28:49) [Note 14] Several verses remark on how the verses of the book set clear or make things clear,[Note 15] and are in "pure and clear" Arabic language [Note 16] At the same time, (most Muslims believe) some verses of the Quran have been abrogated (naskh) by others and these and other verses have sometimes been revealed in response or answer to questions by followers or opponents.[12][104][105]

Not all early Muslims agreed with this consensus. Muslim-turned-skeptic Ibn al-Rawandi (d.911) dismissed the Quran as "not the speech of someone with wisdom, contain[ing] contradictions, errors and absurdities".[106] In response to claims that the Quran is a miracle, 10th-century physician and polymath Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi wrote (according to his opponent Abu Hatim Ahmad ibn Hamdan al-Razi),

You claim that the evidentiary miracle is present and available, namely, the Koran. You say: "Whoever denies it, let him produce a similar one." Indeed, we shall produce a thousand similar, from the works of rhetoricians, eloquent speakers and valiant poets, which are more appropriately phrased and state the issues more succinctly. They convey the meaning better and their rhymed prose is in better meter. ... By God what you say astonishes us! You are talking about a work which recounts ancient myths, and which at the same time is full of contradictions and does not contain any useful information or explanation. Then you say: "Produce something like it"?![107][108]

Early Western scholars also often attacked the literary merit of the Quran. Orientalist Thomas Carlyle, [Note 17] called the Quran "toilsome reading and a wearisome confused jumble, crude, incondite" with "endless iterations, long-windedness, entanglement" and "insupportable stupidity".[110] Salomon Reinach wrote that this book warrants "little merit ... from a literary point of view".[Note 18]

More specifically, "peculiarities" in the text have been alleged.[112] Iranian rationalist and scholar Ali Dashti points out that before its perfection became an issue of Islamic doctrine, early Muslim scholar Ibrahim an-Nazzam "openly acknowledged that the arrangement and syntax" of the Quran was less than "miraculous".[113]

Ali Dashti states that "more than one hundred" aberrations from "the normal rules and structure of Arabic have been noted" in the Quran.[114]

sentences which are incomplete and not fully intelligible without the aid or commentaries; foreign words, unfamiliar Arabic words, and words used with other than the normal meaning; adjectives and verbs inflected without observance of the concords of gender and number; illogically and ungrammatically applied pronouns which sometimes have no referent; and predicates which in rhymed passages are often remote from the subjects.[115]

Scholar Gerd R. Puin puts the number of unclear verses much higher:

The Koran claims for itself that it is 'mubeen,' or 'clear,' but if you look at it, you will notice that every fifth sentence or so simply doesn't make sense. Many Muslims—and Orientalists—will tell you otherwise, of course, but the fact is that a fifth of the Koranic text is just incomprehensible. This is what has caused the traditional anxiety regarding translation. If the Koran is not comprehensible—if it can't even be understood in Arabic—then it's not translatable. People fear that. And since the Koran claims repeatedly to be clear but obviously is not—as even speakers of Arabic will tell you—there is a contradiction. Something else must be going on.[1]

Scholar of the Semitic languages Theodor Noldeke collected a large quantity of morphological and syntactic grammatical forms in the Quran[116] that "do not enter into the general linguistic system of Arabic".[117] Alan Dundes points out the Quran itself denies that there can be errors within it, "If it were from other than Allah, they would surely have found in it many contradictions". (Q.4:82)[118]

Obscure words and phrases[edit]

The Quran "sometimes makes dramatic shifts in style, voice, and subject matter from verse to verse, and it assumes a familiarity with language, stories, and events that seem to have been lost even to the earliest of Muslim exegetes", according to journalist and scholar Toby Lester.[1]

The Quran is known to contain a number of words the meaning of which is not clear and for which Muslim commentators (and Western scholars) have created "a welter of competing guesses".[119]

  • qaḍb (8:28) possible meaning "green herbs" of some kind.[120]
  • ʿābb (8:31), possible meaning "pasture"[120]
  • Jibt (4:51), "no explanation has been found" guesses include "idol or priest or sorcerer, or sorcery, or satan, or what not".[120]
  • Ghislīn (69:36), unknown. guess: "what exudes from the bodies of the inmates" of Hell.[120]
  • Iram (89:7), unknown. foreign word, possibly a name of city or country.[120]
  • Qurbān (46:28), evidently means "sacrifice", but maybe "favorites of a prince" or then again "a means of access to God"[120]
  • ṣābiʿīn (2:62), literally "the baptizers", but does not make sense in that context.[121]
  • abābīl (105:3)[119]
  • sijjīl (105:4)[119]
  • samad (112:2)[119]
  • kalāla (4:11-12, 4:176)[122]
  • an yadin (9:29) usually translated as "out of hand" as a means of payment, but what this means has not been agreed upon.[122]
  • ar-raqim (18:9) guesses by exegetes include "books", "inscription", "tablet", "rock", "numbers", or "building", or a proper name for "a village, or a valley, a mountain, or even a dog".[123]

Michael Cook argues that there may be more obscure words than has been recognized.[124]

  • Quran 106:1–2: "For the accustomed security of the Quraysh - Their accustomed security [in] the caravan of winter and summer",

Contains the word ilaf—interpreted to mean arrangements with local tribes for protection ("accustomed security"); and the word rihla—thought to mean the caravan journey. According to hadith, the foundation of Mecca's trade were two annual commercial caravans by the Quraysh tribe from Mecca to Yemen and back in the winter and another to Syria in the summer. But the Arabic word rihla simply means journey, not commercial travel or caravan; and there was uncertainty among commentators as to how to read the vowels in ilaf or how the term was defined. Consequently Cook wonders if Quran 106:1–2 is brief mention of Mecca's basic commerce or if the hadith about the two caravans (many hadith being known to be fabricated) was made up to explain Quranic passages whose meaning was otherwise unclear.[124]

Explanations include that God is "making the point that He knows something we don't" (for example qāriʿah in Q:101), or that in some cases the words are used to rhyme a verse.[119]("The use of many rare words and new forms may be traced to the same cause (comp. especially Q.9:8-9, 11, 16)."[112]

Arabic words[edit]

Several verse—Q.16:103, 12:2, and 42:7 -- state the Quran is revealed in Arabic, pure and clear.[125][126][127] However the scholar al-Suyuti (1445–1505 CE) enumerated 107 foreign words in the Quran,[128] and Arthur Jeffery found about 275 words that are of Aramaic, Hebrew, Syriac, Ethiopic, Perisan, and Greek origin[129] according to Ibn Warraq.[130] Andrew Rippin states that not only Orientalists but medieval Arabs admitted the Quran contained foreign words. Al-Jawālīqī (Abu Mansur Mauhub al-Jawaliqi), a 12-century Arab grammarian, spoke of "'foreign words found in the speech of the ancient Arabs and employed in the Quran' without any cautious restrictions."[131][132] Defending against these charges, Ansar Al 'Adl of "call to monotheism" states that "pure arabic" actually really refers to the "clarity and eloquence" of the arabic language in the Quran, and that the foreign words "had actually been naturalized and become regular Arabic words before they came to be used in the Qur'an"[125]

"Mystery letters"[edit]

Another mystery is why about one quarter of surahs of the Quran begin with a group of between one and four letters that do not form words. These are known as Muqattaʿat ('disconnected letters'):

  • Alif Lam Ra – Q. 10, 11, 12, 14, 15.
  • Alif Lam Mim – Q. 2, 3, 29, 30, 31, 32.
  • Alif Lam Mim Ra – Q. 13.
  • Alif Lam Mim Sad – Q. 7.
  • Ha Mim – Q. 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46.
  • Ha Mim ‘Ain Sin Qaf – Q. 42.
  • Sad – Q. 38.
  • Ta Sin – Q. 27.
  • Ta Sin Mim – Q. 26, 28.
  • Ta Ha – Q. 20.
  • Qaf – Q. 50.
  • Ka Ha Ya 'Ain Sad – Q. 19.
  • Nun – Q. 68.
  • Ya Sin – Q. 36.

According to the Muslim translator and expositor Muhammad Asad:

"The significance of these letter-symbols has perplexed the commentators from the earliest times. There is no evidence of the Prophet's having ever referred to them in any of his recorded utterances, nor any of his Companions having ever asked him for an explanation. None the less, it is established beyond any possibility of doubt that all the Companions - obviously following the example of the Prophet - regarded the muqatta'at as integral parts of the suras to which they are prefixed, and used to recite them accordingly: a fact which disposes effectively of the suggestion advanced by some Western orientalists that these letters may be no more than the initials of the scribes who wrote down the individual revelations at the Prophet's dictation, or of the Companions who recorded them at the time of the final codification of the Qur'an during the reign of the first three Caliphs.

"Some of the Companions as well as some of their immediate successors and later Qur'anic commentators were convinced that these letters are abbreviations of certain words or even phrases relating to God and His attributes, and tried to 'reconstruct' them with much ingenuity; but since the possible combinations are practically unlimited, all such interpretations are highly arbitrary and, therefore, devoid of any real usefulness …" [133][134]

Asad quotes Abu Bakr as saying : ‘In every divine writ (kitab) there is [an element of] mystery - and the mystery of the Qur'an is [indicated] in the openings of [some of] the suras.’" [133]

Mystery religion[edit]

The Quran mentions the "Jews, Christians, and Ṣābiʼūn" three times (2:62, 5:69, 22:17). But while the identity of the first two religions is/was widely known among Muslims and non-Muslims, the Ṣābiʼūn (usually Romanized as Sabians) was not[135] even among the earliest Quranic commentators of the 7th and 8th century.[citation needed] [Note 19]

Narrative voice: Mohammed or God as speakers[edit]

Since the Quran is God's revelation to humanity, critics have wondered why in many verses, God is being addressed by humans, instead of Him addressing human beings. Or as scholars Richard Bell and W. Montgomery Watt point out, it is not unheard of for someone (especially someone very powerful) to speak of himself in the third person, "the extent to which we find the Prophet apparently being addressed and told about God as a third person, is unusual", as is where "God is made to swear by himself".[69])

Folklorist Alan Dundes notes how one "formula" or phrase ("... acquit thou/you/them/him of us/your/their/his evil deeds") is repeated with a variety of voices both divine and human, singular and plural:

  • `Our Lord, forgive Thou our sins and acquit us of our evil deeds` 3:193;
  • `We will acquit you of your evil deeds`, 4:31;
  • `I will acquit you of your evil deeds`, 5:12;
  • `He will acquit them of their evil deeds`, 47:2;
  • `Allah will acquit him of his evil deeds`, 64:9;[70]

The point-of-view of God changes from third person ("He" and "His" in Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al- Aqsa), to first person ("We" and "Our" in We have blessed, to show him of Our signs), and back again to third ("He" in Indeed, He is the Hearing) all in the same verse. (In Arabic there is no capitalization to indicate divinity.) Q.33:37 also starts by referring to God in the third person, is followed by a sentence with God speaking in first person (we gave her in marriage ...) before returning to third person (and God's commandment must be performed).[71] Again in 48:1 48:2 God is both first (We) and third person (God, His) within one sentence.[137]

The Jewish Encyclopedia, for example, writes: "For example, critics note that a sentence in which something is said concerning Allah is sometimes followed immediately by another in which Allah is the speaker (examples of this are Q.16.81, 27:61, 31:9, 43:10) Many peculiarities in the positions of words are due to the necessities of rhyme (lxix. 31, lxxiv. 3)."[112] The verse 6:114 starts out with Muhammad talking in first person (I) and switches to third (you).

  • 6:114 Shall I seek other than Allah for judge, when He it is Who hath revealed unto you (this) Scripture, fully explained? Those unto whom We gave the Scripture (aforetime) know that it is revealed from thy Lord in truth. So be not thou (O Muhammad) of the waverers.

While some (Muhammad Abdel Haleem) have argued that "such grammatical shifts are a traditional aspect of Arabic rhetorical style",[Note 20] Ali Dashti (also quoted by critic Ibn Warraq) notes that in many verses "the speaker cannot have been God". The opening surah Al-Fatiha[141] which contains such lines as

Praise to God, the Lord of the Worlds, ...
You (alone) we worship and from You (alone) we seek help. ...

is "clearly addressed to God, in the form of a prayer."[142][141][143] Other verses (the beginning of 27:91, "I have been commanded to serve the Lord of this city ..."; 19:64, "We come not down save by commandment of thy Lord") also makes no sense as a statement of an all-powerful God.

Many (in fact 350) verses in the Quran[141] where God is addressed in the third person are preceded by the imperative "say/recite!" (qul) -- but it does not occur in Al-Fatiha and many other similar verses. Sometimes the problem is resolved in translations of the Quran by the translators adding "Say!" in front of the verse (Marmaduke Pickthall and N. J. Dawood for Q.27.91,[144] Abdullah Yusuf Ali for Q.6:114).[141]

Dashti notes that in at least one verse

  • 17:1 -- Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.

This feature did not escape the notice of some early Muslims. Ibn Masud — one of the companions of Muhammad who served as a scribe for divine revelations received by Muhammad and is considered a reliable transmitter of ahadith — did not believe that Surah Fatihah (or two other surah — 113 and 114 — that contained the phrase "I take refuge in the Lord") to be a genuine part of the Quran.[145] He was not alone, other companions of Muhammad disagreed over which surahs were part of the Quran and which not.[141] A verse of the Quran itself (15:87) seems to distinguish between Fatihah and the Quran:

  • 15:87 -- And we have given you seven often repeated verses [referring to the seven verses of Surah Fatihah] and the great Quran. (Al-Quran 15:87)[146]

Al-Suyuti, the noted medieval philologist and commentator of the Quran thought five verses had questionable "attribution to God" and were likely spoken by either Muhammad or Gabriel.[141]

Cases where the speaker is swearing an oath by God, such as surahs 75:1–2 and 90:1, have been made a point of criticism.[citation needed] But according to Richard Bell, this was probably a traditional formula, and Montgomery Watt compared such verses to Hebrews 6:13. It is also widely acknowledged that the first-person plural pronoun in Surah 19:64 refers to angels, describing their being sent by God down to Earth. Bell and Watt suggest that this attribution to angels can be extended to interpret certain verses where the speaker is not clear.[147]

Spelling, syntax and grammar

In 2020, a Saudi news website published an article[148] claiming that while most Muslims believe the text established by third caliph 'Uthman bin 'Affan "is sacred and must not be amended", there are some 2500 "errors of spelling, syntax and grammar" within it. The author (Ahmad Hashem) argues that while the recitation of the Quran is divine, the Quranic script established by Uthman's "is a human invention" subject to error and correction. Examples of some of the errors he gives are:

  • Surah 68, verse 6, [the word] بِأَيِّيكُمُ ["which of you"] appears, instead of بأيكم. In other words, an extra ي was added.
  • Surah 25, verse 4, [the word] جَآءُو ["they committed"] appears, instead of جَاءُوا or جاؤوا. In other words, the alif in the plural masculine suffix وا is missing.
  • Surah 28, verse 9, the word امرأت ["wife"] appears, instead of امرأة.[149]
Phrases, sentences or verse that seem out of place and were likely to have been transposed.

An example of an out-of-place verse fragment is found in Surah 24 where the beginning of a verse — (Q.24:61) "There is not upon the blind [any] constraint nor upon the lame constraint nor upon the ill constraint ..." — is located in the midst of a section describing proper behavior for visiting relations and modesty for women and children ("when you eat from your [own] houses or the houses of your fathers or the houses of your mothers or the houses of your brothers or the houses of your sisters or ..."). While it makes little sense here, the exact same phrases appears in another surah section (Q.48:11-17) where it does fit in as list of those exempt from blame and hellfire if they do not fight in a jihad military campaign.[150][151][152]

Theodor Nöldeke complains that "many sentences begin with a 'when' or 'on the day when' which seems to hover in the air, so that commentators are driven to supply a 'think of this' or some such ellipsis."[153] Similarly, describing a "rough edge" of the Quran, Michael Cook notes that verse Q.33:37 starts out with a "long and quite complicated subordinate clause" ("when thou wast saying to him ..."), "but we never learn what the clause is subordinate to."[71]


Examples of lapses in grammar include 4:160 where the word "performers" should be in the nominative case but instead is in the accusative; 20:66 where "these two" of "These two are sorcerers" is in the nominative case (hādhāne) instead of the accusative case (hādhayne); and 49:9 where "have started to fight" is in the plural form instead of the dual like the subject of the sentence.[citation needed] Dashti laments that Islamic scholars have traditionally replied to these problems saying "our task is not to make the readings conform to Arabic grammar, but to take the whole of the Quran as it is and make Arabic grammar conform to the Quran."[citation needed]


A common reply to questions about difficulties or obscurities in the Quran is verse 3:7 which unlike other verses that simply state that the Quran is clear (mubeen) states that some verses are clear but others are "ambiguous" (mutashabihat).

  • 3:7 It is He who sent down upon thee the Book, wherein are verses clear that are the Essence of the Book, and others ambiguous. As for those in whose hearts is swerving, they follow the ambiguous part, desiring dissension, and desiring its interpretation; and none knows its interpretation, save only God. And those firmly rooted in knowledge say, 'We believe in it; all is from our Lord'; yet none remembers, but men possessed of minds.

In regards to questions about the narrative voice, Al-Zarkashi asserts that "moving from one style to another serves to make speech flow more smoothly", but also that by mixing up pronouns the Quran prevents the "boredom" that a more logical, straight forward narrative induces; it keeps the reader on their toes, helping "the listener to focus, renew[ing] his interest", providing "freshness and variety".[154] "Muslim specialists" refer to the practice as iltifāt, ("literally 'conversion', or 'turning one's face to'").[154] Western scholar Neal Robinson provides a more detailed reasons as to why these are not "imperfections", but instead should be "prized": changing the voice from "they" to "we" provides a "shock effect", third person ("Him") makes God "seem distant and transcendent", first person plural ("we") "emphasizes His majesty and power", first person singular ("I") "introduces a note of intimacy or immediacy", and so on.[154] (Critics like Hassan Radwan suggest these explanations are rationalizations.)[155]

Preexisting sources[edit]

Mary shaking the palm tree for dates is a legend derived from the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew.

Similarities with Jewish and Christian Narratives[edit]

In dealing with the question of the origins of the Quran, non-Muslim historian have often focused on Christian and Jewish sources.

The Quran contains references to more than fifty people and events also found in the Bible (including Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Lot, Moses, Saul, David and Goliath, Jonah, Jesus, Mary. Moses, is mentioned 135 times[156][157] Moses is mentioned in 502 verses in 36 surahs,[158] Abraham in 245 verses, Noah in 131.[159]

Legends, parables or pieces of folklore that appear in the Quran, with similar motifs to Jewish traditions include Cain and Abel, Abraham destroying idols, Solomon conversing with a talking ant. Christian traditions include the Seven Sleepers, the naming of Mary, mother of Jesus, the selection of Mary's guardian by lottery, how a palm tree obeyed the commands of the child Jesus.

The Quran and Bible differ on a number of narrative and theological issues. There is no original sin in the Quran; it specifically and repeatedly denies the Christian Trinity of three persons in one God, and denies that Jesus is the son of God (9:30) was crucified (4:157) and died, or rose from the dead. It holds that the Holy Spirit is actually the angel Gabriel (2:97; 16:102). The Devil, Satan (Shaitan), is regarded as a jinn not a fallen angel, in most contemporary scholarship[160] (2:34; 7:12; 15:27; 55:15).[161]

Muslims believe the Quran refers to figures, prophets, and events in Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament because these books are predecessors of the Quran, also revealed by the one true omnipotent God. The differences between two books and the Quran can be explained (Muslims believed) by the flawed processes of transmission and interpretation of the Bible and New Testament, distorting revelation that the Quran provides free from any distortions and corruptions.

Non-Muslim historians -- secular but also Jewish and Christian -- in keeping with Occam's razor, have looked for simpler, non-divine/non-supernatural explanations for the connection[Note 21] (In Islamic language, dealing only with shahada, i.e. what can be perceived, described, and studied; and not with the unseen al-Ghaib, made known only by divine revelation). Many stories of the Muhammad hearing about Christianity from Christians and Judaism from Jews come from Muslim sources.

Western academic scholars who have studied "the relationship between the Quran and the Judaeo-Christian scriptural tradition"[163] include Abraham Geiger,[164] Tor Andræ,[165] Richard Bell,[166] and Charles Cutler Torrey.[167]

Jewish influence

In the 19th century, Abraham Geiger argued for Jewish influence on the formation of the Quran,[164] as did C. C. Torrey even more forcefully in the early 20th Century.[167] Micheal Cook believes Muhammad "owed more to Judiasm than to Christianity",[168] and mentions a "fusion" of Jewish-based "monotheism with Arab identity" in Palestine prior to Islam. According to a fifth-century Christian writer -- Sozomen -- some "Saracen" (Arab) tribes rediscovered their "Ishmaelite descent"[169] after coming into contact with Jews and had adopted Jewish laws and customs.[170][171][172] Although there is no evidence to show "a direct link" between these Arabs and Muhammad,[169] it is a milieu where Quranic material could "have come into existence" before Muhammad.[170]

Several narratives rely on Jewish Midrash Tanhuma legends, like the narrative of Cain learning to bury the body of Abel in Surah 5:31.[173][174] Critics, like Norman Geisler argue that the dependence of the Quran on preexisting sources is one evidence of a purely human origin.[175]

In their book Hagarism, Michael Cook and Patricia Crone postulate that a number of features of Islam may have been borrowed from the Jewish breakaway sect of Samaritanism: "the idea of a scripture limited to the Pentateuch, a prophet like Moses (i.e. Muhammad), a holy book revealed like the Torah (the Quran), a sacred city (Mecca) with a nearby mountain (Jabal an-Nour -- the Samaratan mountain being Mount Gerizim) and shrine (the Kaaba) of an appropriate patriarch (Abraham), plus a caliphate modeled on an Aaronid priesthood."[176][177] Ibn Warraq compares the similarities of Muhammad of Islam and Moses of the Jews. Both bearers of revelation (Pentateuch v. Quran), both receiving revelation on a mountain (Mount Sinai v. Mt. Hira), leading their people to escape persecution (Exodus vs. Hijra).[178]

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, "The dependence of Mohammed upon his Jewish teachers or upon what he heard of the Jewish Haggadah and Jewish practices is now generally conceded."[112] Early jurists and theologians of Islam mentioned some Jewish influence but they also say where it is seen and recognized as such, it is perceived as a debasement or a dilution of the authentic message. Bernard Lewis describes this as "something like what in Christian history was called a Judaizing heresy."[179] According to Professor Moshe Sharon, specialist in Arabic epigraphy, the legends about Muhammad having ten Jewish teachers developed in the 10th century CE:

"In most versions of the legends, ten Jewish wise men or dignitaries appear, who joined Muhammad and converted to Islam for different reasons. In reading all the Jewish texts one senses the danger of extinction of the Jewish people; and it was this ominous threat that induced these Sages to convert..."[180]


Tor Andræ, saw Christian "Nestorians of Yemen, monophysites of Ethiopia and especially ... Syrian pietism" influencing Islam".[165][181] Richard Carrier regards the reliance on pre-Islamic Christian sources as evidence that Islam derived from a heretical sect of Christianity.[182]

Scholar Oddbjørn Leirvik states "The Qur'an and Hadith have been clearly influenced by the non-canonical ('heretical') Christianity that prevailed in the Arab peninsula and further in Abyssinia" prior to Islam.[183] H.A.R. Gibb states that many of the details in the description of Judgement Day, Heaven, and Hell and some vocabulary "are closely paralleled in the writings of the Syriac Christian fathers and monks."[184]

British author Tom Holland thinks it notable that some doctrines that the Quran mentions in association with Christianity -- that Jesus did not die on the cross (which came from the Gospel of Basilides and is accepted by virtually no Christians)[185] that he was a mortal man and not divine (held by the heretical Ebionites),[186] that the mother of Jesus is divine (which came from the Nazorean Gospel denounced by Saint Jerome[186] and is also supported by virtually no Christians) -- come not only from Christian heresies, but ones that had not been heard from in the heartland of Christianity for some time by the 7th century CE when the Quran was revealed.[187]

Influence of heretical Christian sects[edit]

Death of Jesus[edit]

The Quran maintains that Jesus was not actually crucified and did not die on the cross. The general Islamic view supporting the denial of crucifixion may have been influenced by Manichaeism (Docetism), which holds that someone else was crucified instead of Jesus, while concluding that Jesus will return during the end-times.[188] However the general consensus is that Manichaeism was not prevalent in Mecca in the 6th- & 7th centuries, when Islam developed.[189][190][191]

That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah";- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:-
Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise;-

Despite these views and no eyewitness accounts, most modern scholars have maintained that the Crucifixion of Jesus is indisputable.[193]

The view that Jesus only appeared to be crucified and did not actually die predates Islam, and is found in several apocryphal gospels.[188]

Irenaeus in his book Against Heresies describes Gnostic beliefs that bear remarkable resemblance with the Islamic view:

He did not himself suffer death, but Simon, a certain man of Cyrene, being compelled, bore the cross in his stead; so that this latter being transfigured by him, that he might be thought to be Jesus, was crucified, through ignorance and error, while Jesus himself received the form of Simon, and, standing by, laughed at them. For since he was an incorporeal power, and the Nous (mind) of the unborn father, he transfigured himself as he pleased, and thus ascended to him who had sent him, deriding them, inasmuch as he could not be laid hold of, and was invisible to all.-

— Against Heresies, Book I, Chapter 24, Section 40

Another Gnostic writing, found in the Nag Hammadi library, Second Treatise of the Great Seth has a similar view of Jesus' death:

I was not afflicted at all, yet I did not die in solid reality but in what appears, in order that I not be put to shame by them

and also:

Another, their father, was the one who drank the gall and the vinegar; it was not I. Another was the one who lifted up the cross on his shoulder, who was Simon. Another was the one on whom they put the crown of thorns. But I was rejoicing in the height over all the riches of the archons and the offspring of their error and their conceit, and I was laughing at their ignorance

Coptic Apocalypse of Peter, likewise, reveals the same views of Jesus' death:

I saw him (Jesus) seemingly being seized by them. And I said 'What do I see, O Lord? That it is you yourself whom they take, and that you are grasping me? Or who is this one, glad and laughing on the tree? And is it another one whose feet and hands they are striking?' The Savior said to me, 'He whom you saw on the tree, glad and laughing, this is the living Jesus. But this one into whose hands and feet they drive the nails is his fleshly part, which is the substitute being put to shame, the one who came into being in his likeness. But look at him and me.' But I, when I had looked, said 'Lord, no one is looking at you. Let us flee this place.' But he said to me, 'I have told you, 'Leave the blind alone!'. And you, see how they do not know what they are saying. For the son of their glory instead of my servant, they have put to shame.' And I saw someone about to approach us resembling him, even him who was laughing on the tree. And he was with a Holy Spirit, and he is the Savior. And there was a great, ineffable light around them, and the multitude of ineffable and invisible angels blessing them. And when I looked at him, the one who gives praise was revealed.

Mother Mary[edit]

The Collyridians, early Christian heretical sect in pre-Islamic Arabia, whose adherents apparently worshipped the Mary, mother of Jesus, as a goddess,[194][195] have become of interest in some recent Christian–Muslim religious discussions in reference to the Islamic concept of the Christian Trinity. The debate hinges on some verses in the Qur'an, primarily 5:73, 5:75, and 5:116 in the sura Al-Ma'ida, which have been taken to imply that Muhammad believed that Christians considered Mary to be part of the Trinity. That idea has never been part of mainstream Christian doctrine and is not clearly and unambiguously attested among any ancient Christian group, including the Collyridians.

Contradictions and abrogation[edit]

The Quran contains divine commands or policies that are ignored in Islamic law (sharia), including Q24:2,[196] which prescribes a penalty of "100 lashes" for zina (sex outside of marriage), while sharia law—based on hadith of Muhammad—orders adulterers to be stoned to death, not lashed.[197] This seeming disregard of the founding work of revelation of Islam has been explained by the concept of abrogation (naskh), whereby God sometimes abrogates one (sometimes more) revelation(s) with another—not only in the Quran but also among hadith. Naskh also holds that are Islamic laws based on verses once part of the Quran but no longer found in present-day Mus'haf (written copies of the Quran),[198] which is the case with the stoning penalty for adultery. A number of verses mention the issue of abrogation, the central one being:

  • Quran 2:106: "We do not abrogate a verse or cause it to be forgotten except that We bring forth [one] better than it or similar to it. Do you not know that Allah is over all things competent?"[199]

Besides 24:2, some other examples of naskh cited by scholars are:

  • 2:219, which allows but discourages Muslims from drinking alcohol; 4:43, which forbids Muslims from praying while drunk, and 5:90 which commands Muslims not to drink alcohol. These seeming contradictory commands are explained by the first verse being abrogated by the second, and the second by the last, as part of a gradual process of weaning early Muslims from alcohol consumption.[200]
  • The revelation of a verse criticizing Muslim slackers in the waging of jihad, prompted a blind Muslim ('Abd Allah ibn Umm Maktum) to protest that his lack of vision prevented him from fighting. "Almost instantaneously" a revelation (4:95) was sent down partially abrogating the earlier one[Note 22] by adding the qualifier "except the disabled".
  • 8:65 tells Muslim warriors, "If there be of you twenty patient believers, they will overcome two hundred" enemy. It is thought to be abrogated by 8:66 which lowers the number of enemies each Muslim warrior is expected to overcome in battle from ten to only two: "Now God has alleviated your burden, knowing that there is weakness in you. If there should be of you one hundred, they will overcome two hundred;.[202]
  • Verses such as 43:89 urging followers to "turn away" from mocking unbelievers "and say, 'Peace'", when Muslims were few in number, were replaced with the "Sword verse" 9:29 commanding "Fight those who (do) not believe in Allah and not in the Day the Last ... ", as Muhammad's followers grew stronger.[203]

Among the criticisms made of the concept of abrogation is that it was developed to "remove" contradictions found in the Quran, which "abounds in repetitions and contradictions, which are not removed by the convenient theory of abrogation" (Philip Schaff);[204] that it "poses a difficult theological problem" because it seems to suggest God was changing His mind,[205] or has realized something He was unaware of when revealing the original verse, which is logically absurd for an eternally all-knowing deity (David S. Powers and John Burton);[206][207][208] and that it is suspiciously similar to the human process of "revising ... past decisions or plans" after "learning from experience and recognising mistakes" (Ali Dashti).[209][210]

Muslim scholars such as Muhammad Husayn Tabatabaei argue abrogation in Quranic verses is not an indication of contradiction but of addition and supplementation. An example of the mention of impermanent commands in the Quran is Q.2:109[211] where — according to Tabatabaei — it clearly states the forgiveness is not permanent and soon there will be another command (through another verse) on this subject that completes the matter. Verse Q.4:15[211] also indicates its temporariness.[212]

The question of why a perfect and unchangeable divine revelation would need to be abrogated, however, has led other scholars to interpret verse Q.2:106 differently than the mainstream. Ghulam Ahmed Parwez in his Exposition of the Quran writes that the abrogation Q.2:106 refers to is of the Bible/Torah, not the Quran:

The Ahl-ul-Kitab (People of the Book) also question the need for a new revelation (Qur'an) when previous revelations from Allah exist. They further ask why the Qur'an contains injunctions contrary to the earlier Revelation (the Torah) if it is from Allah? Tell them that Our way of sending Revelation to successive anbiya (prophets) is that: Injunctions given in earlier revelations, which were meant only for a particular time, are replaced by other injunctions, and injunctions which were to remain in force permanently but were abandoned, forgotten or adulterated by the followers of previous anbiya are given again in their original form (22:52). And all this happens in accordance with Our laid down standards, over which We have complete control. Now this last code of life which contains the truth of all previous revelations (5:48), is complete in every respect (6:116), and will always be preserved (15:9), has been given [to mankind].[213]

Satanic verses[edit]

Some criticism of the Quran has revolved around two verses known as the "Satanic Verses". Some early Islamic histories recount that as Muhammad was reciting Sūra Al-Najm (Q.53), as revealed to him by the angel Gabriel, Satan deceived him to utter the following lines after verses 19 and 20: "Have you thought of Al-lāt and al-'Uzzā and Manāt the third, the other; These are the exalted Gharaniq, whose intercession is hoped for." The Allāt, al-'Uzzā and Manāt were three goddesses worshiped by the Meccans. These histories then say that these 'Satanic Verses' were repudiated shortly afterward by Muhammad at the behest of Gabriel.[214]

There are numerous accounts reporting the alleged incident, which differ in the construction and detail of the narrative, but they may be broadly collated to produce a basic account.[215]

The different versions of the story are all traceable to one single narrator Muhammad ibn Ka'b, who was two generations removed from biographer Ibn Ishaq.[216] In its essential form, the story reports that Muhammad longed to convert his kinsmen and neighbors of Mecca to Islam. As he was reciting Sūra an-Najm,[217] considered a revelation by the angel Gabriel, Satan tempted him to utter the following lines after verses 19 and 20:

Have ye thought upon Al-Lat and Al-'Uzzá
and Manāt, the third, the other?
These are the exalted gharāniq, whose intercession is hoped for.

Allāt, al-'Uzzā and Manāt were three goddesses worshipped by the Meccans. Discerning the meaning of "gharāniq" is difficult, as it is a hapax legomenon (i.e. used only once in the text). Commentators wrote that it meant the cranes. The Arabic word does generally mean a "crane" – appearing in the singular as ghirnīq, ghurnūq, ghirnawq and ghurnayq, and the word has cousin forms in other words for birds, including "raven, crow" and "eagle".[218]

The subtext to the event is that Muhammad was backing away from his otherwise uncompromising monotheism by saying that these goddesses were real and their intercession effective. The Meccans were overjoyed to hear this and joined Muhammad in ritual prostration at the end of the sūrah. The Meccan refugees who had fled to Abyssinia heard of the end of persecution and started to return home. Islamic tradition holds that Gabriel chastised Muhammad for adulterating the revelation, at which point [Quran 22:52] is revealed to comfort him,

Never sent We a messenger or a prophet before thee but when He recited (the message) Satan proposed (opposition) in respect of that which he recited thereof. But Allah abolisheth that which Satan proposeth. Then Allah establisheth His revelations. Allah is Knower, Wise.

Muhammad took back his words and the persecution of the Meccans resumed. Verses 53:21-23 were given, in which the goddesses are belittled. The passage in question, from 53:19, reads:

Have ye thought upon Al-Lat and Al-'Uzza

And Manat, the third, the other?
Are yours the males and His the females?
That indeed were an unfair division!

They are but names which ye have named, ye and your fathers, for which Allah hath revealed no warrant. They follow but a guess and that which (they) themselves desire. And now the guidance from their Lord hath come unto them.

The incident of the Satanic Verses is put forward by some critics as evidence of the Quran's origins as a human work of Muhammad. Maxime Rodinson describes this as a conscious attempt to achieve a consensus with pagan Arabs, which was then consciously rejected as incompatible with Muhammad's attempts to answer the criticism of contemporary Arab Jews and Christians,[219] linking it with the moment at which Muhammad felt able to adopt a "hostile attitude" towards the pagan Arabs.[220] Rodinson writes that the story of the Satanic Verses is unlikely to be false because it was "one incident, in fact, which may be reasonably accepted as true because the makers of Muslim tradition would not have invented a story with such damaging implications for the revelation as a whole".[221] In a caveat to his acceptance of the incident, William Montgomery Watt, states: "Thus it was not for any worldly motive that Muhammad eventually turned down the offer of the Meccans, but for a genuinely religious reason; not for example, because he could not trust these men nor because any personal ambition would remain unsatisfied, but because acknowledgment of the goddesses would lead to the failure of the cause, of the mission he had been given by God."[222] Academic scholars such as William Montgomery Watt and Alfred Guillaume argued for its authenticity based upon the implausibility of Muslims fabricating a story so unflattering to their prophet. Watt says that "the story is so strange that it must be true in essentials."[223] On the other hand, John Burton rejected the tradition.

In an inverted culmination of Watt's approach, Burton argued the narrative of the "satanic verses" was forged, based upon a demonstration of its actual utility to certain elements of the Muslim community – namely, those elite sections of society seeking an "occasion of revelation" for eradicatory modes of abrogation.[224] Burton's argument is that such stories served the vested interests of the status-quo, allowing them to dilute the radical messages of the Quran. The rulers used such narratives to build their own set of laws which contradicted the Quran, and justified it by arguing that not all of the Quran is binding on Muslims. Burton also sides with Leone Caetani, who wrote that the story of the "satanic verses" should be rejected not only on the basis of isnad, but because "had these hadiths even a degree of historical basis, Muhammad's reported conduct on this occasion would have given the lie to the whole of his previous prophetic activity."[225] Eerik Dickinson also pointed out that the Quran's challenge to its opponents to prove any inconsistency in its content was pronounced in a hostile environment, also indicating that such an incident did not occur or it would have greatly damaged the Muslims.[226]

Intended audience[edit]

Some verses of the Quran are assumed to be directed towards all of Muhammad's followers while other verses are directed more specifically towards Muhammad and his wives, yet others are directed towards the whole of humanity. (33:28, 33:50, 49:2, 58:1, 58:9 66:3).

Other scholars argue that variances in the Quran's explicit intended audiences are irrelevant to claims of divine origin – and for example that Muhammad's wives "specific divine guidance, occasioned by their proximity to the Prophet (Muhammad)" where "Numerous divine reprimands addressed to Muhammad's wives in the Quran establish their special responsibility to overcome their human frailties and ensure their individual worthiness",[227] or argue that the Quran must be interpreted on more than one level.[228] (See:[229]).


British-German professor of Arabic and Islam Joseph Schacht, in his work The Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence (1950) regarding the subject of law derived from the Quran, wrote:

Muhammadan [Islamic] law did not derive directly from the Koran but developed... out of popular and administrative practice under the Umaiyads, and this practice often diverged from the intentions and even the explicit wording of the Koran... Norms derived from the Koran were introduced into Muhammadan law almost invariably at a secondary stage.[230]

Schacht further states that every legal tradition from the Prophet must be taken as an inauthentic and fictitious expression of a legal doctrine formulated at a later date:

... We shall not meet any legal tradition from the Prophet which can positively be considered authentic.[231]

What is evident regarding the compilation of the Quran is the disagreement between the companions of Muhammad (earliest supporters of Muhammad), as evidenced with their several disagreements regarding interpretation and particular versions of the Quran and their interpretative Hadith and Sunna, namely the mutawatir mushaf having come into present form after Muhammad's death.[232] John Burton's work The Collection of the Quran further explores how certain Quranic texts were altered to adjust interpretation, in regards to controversy between fiqh (human understanding of Sharia) and madhahib.[233]

Science in the Quran[edit]

Some scientists among Muslim commentators, notably al-Biruni, assigned to the Quran a separate and autonomous realm of its own and held that the Quran "does not interfere in the business of science nor does it infringe on the realm of science."[215] These medieval scholars argued for the possibility of multiple scientific explanations of the natural phenomena, and refused to subordinate the Quran to an ever-changing science.[215] However, there are factual contradictions between the Quran and contemporary science as shown below.


Muslims and non-Muslims have disputed the presence of scientific miracles in the Quran. According to author Ziauddin Sardar, "popular literature known as ijaz" (miracle) has created a "global craze in Muslim societies", starting the 1970s and 1980s and now found in Muslim bookstores, spread by websites and television preachers.[234]

An example is the verse: "So verily I swear by the stars that run and hide ..." (Q81:15–16),[235] which proponents claim demonstrates the Quran's knowledge of the existence of black holes; or: "[I swear by] the Moon in her fullness that ye shall journey on from stage to stage" (Q84:18–19) refers, according to proponents, to human flight into outer space.[234]

Critics argue that verses which allegedly explain modern scientific facts about subjects such as biology, the history of Earth, and evolution of human life, contain fallacies and are unscientific.[236][237][238]


Ijaz literature tends to follow a pattern of finding some possible agreement between a scientific result and a verse in the Quran. "So verily I swear by the stars that run and hide ..." (Q.81:15-16) or "And I swear by the stars' positions-and that is a mighty oath if you only knew". (Quran, 56:75-76)[235] is declared to refer to black holes; "[I swear by] the Moon in her fullness; that ye shall journey on from stage to stage" (Q.84:18-19) refers to space travel,[234] and thus evidence the Quran has miraculously predicted this phenomenon centuries before scientists.

While it is generally agreed the Quran contains many verses proclaiming the wonders of nature — "Travel throughout the earth and see how He brings life into being" (Q.29:20) "Behold in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding ..." (Q.3:190) — it is strongly doubted by Sardar and others that "everything, from relativity, quantum mechanics, Big Bang theory, black holes and pulsars, genetics, embryology, modern geology, thermodynamics, even the laser and hydrogen fuel cells, have been 'found' in the Quran".[234][239]

Creation and evolution[edit]

Like the Bible, the Quran talks about God creating the universe in six days.[240][241] and like the Bible many modern believers have argued for a non-literal interpretation (for example The Holy Quran: Arabic Text and English translation by Maulvi Sher Ali).

Quranic verses related to the origin of mankind created from dust or mud are not logically compatible with modern evolutionary theory.[242][243] Although some Muslims try to reconcile evolution with the Quran by the argument from intelligent design, the Quran (and the hadiths) can be interpreted to support the idea of creationism. This led to a contribution by Muslims to the creation vs. evolution debate,[244] (Some with some high profile Muslim preachers (Zakir Naik, Adnan Oktar, Yasir Qadhi) advocating creationism and/or maintaining that the idea that humans evolved is against the Quran.[245] According to opinion polls, most Muslims do not accept the theory of evolution, the percentage varying among countries (from <10% acceptance in Egypt to about 40% in Kazakhstan).[246] Some Muslims point to a verse Q.71:14 -- “when He truly created you in stages ˹of development˺?” -- as evidence for Evolution.[247]


Title page of Riccoldo da Monte di Croce's polemical and apologetic work critiquing Koran and Islam. Published in Seville c. 1500. It shows a Christian friar preaching to Muslims.

Some critics claim that the morality of the Quran appears to be a moral regression, by the standards of the moral traditions of Judaism and Christianity it says that it builds upon. The Catholic Encyclopedia, for example, states that "the ethics of Islam are far inferior to those of Judaism and even more inferior to those of the New Testament" and "that in the ethics of Islam there is a great deal to admire and to approve, is beyond dispute; but of originality or superiority, there is none."[248] William Montgomery Watt however finds Muhammad's changes an improvement for his time and place: "In his day and generation Muhammad was a social reformer, indeed a reformer even in the sphere of morals. He created a new system of social security and a new family structure, both of which were a vast improvement on what went before. By taking what was best in the morality of the nomad and adapting it for settled communities, he established a religious and social framework for the life of many races of men."[249]

The Sword verse:-

[9:5] Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the zakat, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.[Quran 9:5–5 (Translated by Pickthall)]

According to the E. J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913–1936, Volume 4, the term first applied in the Quran to unbelieving Meccans, who endeavoured "to refute and revile the Prophet". A waiting attitude towards the kafir was recommended at first for Muslims; later, Muslims were ordered to keep apart from unbelievers and defend themselves against their attacks and even take the offensive.[250] Most passages in the Quran referring to unbelievers in general talk about their fate on the day of judgement and destination in hell.[250]

"Lo! those who disbelieve (Kafir), among the People of the Scripture and the idolaters, will abide in fire of hell. They are the worst of created beings."[Quran 98:6]

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–1859), a French political thinker and historian, observed:

I studied the Quran a great deal. I came away from that study with the conviction that by and large there have been few religions in the world as deadly to men as that of Muhammad. As far as I can see, it is the principal cause of the decadence so visible today in the Muslim world and, though less absurd than the polytheism of old, its social and political tendencies are in my opinion more to be feared, and I therefore regard it as a form of decadence rather than a form of progress in relation to paganism.[251]

War and peace[edit]

The Quran's teachings on matters of war and peace are topics that are widely debated. On the one hand, some critics, such as Sam Harris, interpret that certain verses of the Quran sanction military action against unbelievers as a whole both during the lifetime of Muhammad and after. Harris argues that Muslim extremism is simply a consequence of taking the Quran literally, and is skeptical about significant reform toward a "moderate Islam" in the future.[252][253] On the other hand, other scholars argue that such verses of the Quran are interpreted out of context,[254][255] and Muslims of the Ahmadiyya movement argue that when the verses are read in context it clearly appears that the Quran prohibits aggression,[256][257][258] and allows fighting only in self-defense.[259][260]

The author Syed Kamran Mirza has argued that a concept of 'Jihad', defined as 'struggle', has been introduced by the Quran. He wrote that while Muhammad was in Mecca, he "did not have many supporters and was very weak compared to the Pagans", and "it was at this time he added some 'soft', peaceful verses", whereas "almost all the hateful, coercive and intimidating verses later in the Quran were made with respect to Jihad" when Muhammad was in Medina .[261]

Micheline R. Ishay has argued that "the Quran justifies wars for self-defense to protect Islamic communities against internal or external aggression by non-Islamic populations, and wars waged against those who 'violate their oaths' by breaking a treaty".[262] Mufti M. Mukarram Ahmed has also argued that the Quran encourages people to fight in self-defense. He has also argued that the Quran has been used to direct Muslims to make all possible preparations to defend themselves against enemies.[263]

Shin Chiba and Thomas J. Schoenbaum argue that Islam "does not allow Muslims to fight against those who disagree with them regardless of belief system", but instead "urges its followers to treat such people kindly".[264] Yohanan Friedmann has argued that the Quran does not promote fighting for the purposes of religious coercion, although the war as described is "religious" in the sense that the enemies of the Muslims are described as "enemies of God".[265]

Rodrigue Tremblay has argued that the Quran commands that non-Muslims under a Muslim regime, should "feel themselves subdued" in "a political state of subservience" . He also argues that the Quran may assert freedom within religion.[266] Nisrine Abiad has argued that the Quran incorporates the offence (and due punishment) of "rebellion" into the offence of "highway or armed robbery".[267]

George W. Braswell has argued that the Quran asserts an idea of Jihad to deal with "a sphere of disobedience, ignorance and war".[268]

Michael David Bonner has argued that the "deal between God and those who fight is portrayed as a commercial transaction, either as a loan with interest, or else as a profitable sale of the life of this world in return for the life of the next", where "how much one gains depends on what happens during the transaction", either "paradise if slain in battle, or victory if one survives".[269] Critics have argued that the Quran "glorified Jihad in many of the Medinese suras" and "criticized those who fail(ed) to participate in it".[270]

Ali Ünal has claimed that the Quran praises the companions of Muhammad, for being stern and implacable against the said unbelievers, where in that "period of ignorance and savagery, triumphing over these people was possible by being strong and unyielding."[271]

Solomon Nigosian concludes that the "Quranic statement is clear" on the issue of fighting in defense of Islam as "a duty that is to be carried out at all costs", where "God grants security to those Muslims who fight in order to halt or repel aggression".[272]

Shaikh M. Ghazanfar argues that the Quran has been used to teach its followers that "the path to human salvation does not require withdrawal from the world but rather encourages moderation in worldly affairs", including fighting.[273] Shabbir Akhtar has argued that the Quran asserts that if a people "fear Muhammad more than they fear God, 'they are a people lacking in sense'" rather than a fear being imposed upon them by God directly.[274]

Various calls to arms were identified in the Quran by Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, all of which were cited as "most relevant to my actions on March 3, 2006," after he committed a terrorist attack that injured 9 people.[275]

Violence against women[edit]

Verse 4:34 of the Quran as translated by Ali Quli Qara'i reads:

Men are the managers of women, because of the advantage Allah has granted some of them over others, and by virtue of their spending out of their wealth. So righteous women are obedient, care-taking in the absence [of their husbands] of what Allah has enjoined [them] to guard. As for those [wives] whose misconduct you fear, [first] advise them, and [if ineffective] keep away from them in the bed, and [as the last resort] beat them. Then if they obey you, do not seek any course [of action] against them. Indeed, Allah is all-exalted, all-great.[276]

Many translations do not necessarily imply a chronological sequence, for example, Marmaduke Pickthall's, Muhammad Muhsin Khan's, or Arthur John Arberry's. Arberry's translation reads "admonish; banish them to their couches, and beat them."[277]

The Dutch film Submission, which rose to fame outside the Netherlands after the assassination of its director Theo van Gogh by Muslim extremist Mohammed Bouyeri, critiqued this and similar verses of the Quran by displaying them painted on the bodies of abused Muslim women.[278] Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the film's writer, said "it is written in the Koran a woman may be slapped if she is disobedient. This is one of the evils I wish to point out in the film".[279]

Scholars of Islam have a variety of responses to these criticisms. (See An-Nisa, 34 for a fuller exegesis on the meaning of the text.) Some Muslim scholars say that the "beating" allowed is limited to no more than a light touch by siwak, or toothbrush.[280][281] Some Muslims argue that beating is only appropriate if a woman has done "an unrighteous, wicked and rebellious act" beyond mere disobedience.[282] In many modern interpretations of the Quran, the actions prescribed in 4:34 are to be taken in sequence, and beating is only to be used as a last resort.[283][284][285]

Many Islamic scholars and commentators have emphasized that beatings, where permitted, are not to be harsh[286][287][288] or even that they should be "more or less symbolic."[289] According to Abdullah Yusuf Ali and Ibn Kathir, the consensus of Islamic scholars is that the above verse describes a light beating.[290][291]

Some jurists argue that even when beating is acceptable under the Quran, it is still discountenanced.[292][293][294]

Shabbir Akhtar has argued that the Quran introduced prohibitions against "the pre-Islamic practice of female infanticide" (16:58, 17:31, 81:8).[295]


Max I. Dimont interprets that the houris described in the Quran are specifically dedicated to "male pleasure".[296] Alternatively, Annemarie Schimmel says that the Quranic description of the houris should be viewed in a context of love; "every pious man who lives according to God's order will enter Paradise where rivers of milk and honey flow in cool, fragrant gardens and virgin beloveds await home..."[297]

Under the Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Quran by Christoph Luxenberg, the words translating to "Houris" or "Virgins of Paradise" are instead interpreted as "Fruits (grapes)" and "high climbing (wine) bowers... made into first fruits."[298] Luxenberg offers alternate interpretations of these Quranic verses, including the idea that the Houris should be seen as having a specifically spiritual nature rather than a human nature; "these are all very sensual ideas; but there are also others of a different kind... what can be the object of cohabitation in Paradise as there can be no question of its purpose in the world, the preservation of the race. The solution of this difficulty is found by saying that, although heavenly food, women etc.., have the name in common with their earthly equivalents, it is only by way of metaphorical indication and comparison without actual identity... authors have spiritualized the Houris."[298]

Christians and Jews in the Quran[edit]

The Quran mentions more than 50 people previously mentioned in the Bible, which predates it by several centuries.

Jane Gerber claims that the Quran ascribes negative traits to Jews, such as cowardice, greed, and chicanery. She also alleges that the Quran associates Jews with interconfessional strife and rivalry (Quran 2:113),[299] the Jewish belief that they alone are beloved of God (Quran 5:18), and that only they will achieve salvation (Quran 2:111).[300] According to the Encyclopedia Judaica, the Quran contains many attacks on Jews and Christians for their refusal to recognize Muhammad as a prophet.[301] In the Muslim view, the crucifixion of Jesus was an illusion, and thus the Jewish plots against him ended in failure.[302] In numerous verses[303] the Quran accuses Jews of altering the Scripture.[304] Karen Armstrong claims that there are "far more numerous passages in the Quran" which speak positively of the Jews and their great prophets, than those which were against the "rebellious Jewish tribes of Medina" (during Muhammad's time).[305] Sayyid Abul Ala believes the punishments were not meant for all Jews, and that they were only meant for the Jewish inhabitants that were sinning at the time.[305] According to historian John Tolan, the Quran contains a verse which criticizes the Christian worship of Jesus Christ as God, and also criticizes other practices and doctrines of both Judaism and Christianity. Despite this, the Quran has high praise for these religions, regarding them as the other two parts of the Abrahamic trinity.[306]

The Christian doctrine of the Trinity states that God is a single being who exists, simultaneously and eternally, as a communion of three distinct persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In Islam, such plurality in God is a denial of monotheism and thus a sin of shirk,[307] which is considered to be a major 'al-Kaba'ir' sin.[308][309]

In the Quran, polytheism is considered the eternal sin of shirk,[310] meaning that Jews and Christians, which the Quran calls polytheists (see below), will not be pardoned by God if they do not repent of shirk.[311]

The Quran states that Jews are polytheists for exalting Ezra as a son of God and for taking their rabbis as "their lords in derogation of God",(Quran 9:30) and should believe in Islam lest a punishment befalls them that turns them into “apes and pigs”.(Quran 5:60)(Quran 7:166)[312]

Hindu criticism[edit]

Hindu Swami Dayanand Saraswati gave a brief analysis of the Quran in the 14th chapter of his 19th-century book Satyarth Prakash. He calls the concept of Islam highly offensive, and doubted that there is any connection of Islam with God:

Had the God of the Quran been the Lord of all creatures, and been Merciful and kind to all, he would never have commanded the Muhammedans to slaughter men of other faiths, and animals, etc. If he (God) is Merciful, won't he show mercy even to the sinners? If the answer be given in the affirmative, it (the Quran) cannot be true, because further on it is said in the Quran "Put infidels to sword," in other words, he that does not believe in the Quran, and the Prophet Mohammad is an infidel (he should, therefore, be put to death). Since the Quran sanctions such cruelty to non-Muhammedans and innocent creatures such as cows it can never be the Word of God.[313]

On the other hand, Mahatma Gandhi, the moral leader of the 20th-century Indian independence movement, found the Quran to be peaceful, but the history of Muslims to be aggressive, which is criticized by Muslims themselves based on Quranic consultative concept of Shura,[314] while he claimed that Hindus have passed that stage of societal evolution:

Though, in my opinion, non-violence has a predominant place in the Quran, the thirteen hundred years of imperialistic expansion has made the Muslims fighters as a body. They are therefore aggressive. Bullying is the natural excrescence of an aggressive spirit. The Hindu has an ages old civilization. He is essentially non violent. His civilization has passed through the experiences that the two recent ones are still passing through. If Hinduism was ever imperialistic in the modern sense of the term, it has outlived its imperialism and has either deliberately or as a matter of course given it up. Predominance of the non-violent spirit has restricted the use of arms to a small minority which must always be subordinate to a civil power, highly spiritual, learned, and selfless.[315][316]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Muhammad relayed God's revelation to the early Muslims, and many of his contemporary nonbelievers/opponents maintained he (Muhammad) was the true origin of the Quran. Numerous verses of the Quran (Q.6:50, 7:203, 10:15, 10:37, 10:109, 13:38 and 33:2) vehemently deny that the Qur’an was Muhammad's own work, or that he was doing anything other than following what was revealed to him by God.[4]
  2. ^ (umm al-kitab','43:4 and 13:3), also “well-guarded tablet” (lawh mahfuz verse 85:22) and “concealed book” (kitab maknun 56:78)
  3. ^ As God's speech, the Quran was not created or written by God but is an "uncreated" attribute of God
  4. ^ professor emeritus of Islamic thought at the University of Paris, Algerian Mohammed Arkoun.[1]
  5. ^ naskh applies also to contradictory hadith, and to Quranic verses and hadith that contradict each other
  6. ^ biblical scholar John William Burgon: "The Bible is none other than the voice of Him that sitteth upon the Throne! Every Book of it, every Chapter of it, every Verse of it, every word of it, every syllable of it ... every letter of it, is the direct utterance of the Most High!"[1]
  7. ^ who was "charged with blasphemy, forced to withdraw his book, and lost from his university post" after publishing a book questioning the historical veracity of the Quran (Fi'ish-Shi-r al-Jahili)[35][36][37]
  8. ^ "... when the Arab scholar Suliman Bashear argued that Islam developed as a religion gradually rather than emerging fully formed from the mouth of the Prophet, he was injured after being thrown from a second-story window by his students at the University of Nablus in the West Bank.[41][42]
  9. ^ For example: Zaid b. Thabit said: It is reported... from Ibn Buraidah who said:

    The first of those to collect the Qur'an into a mushaf (codex) was Salim, the freed slave of Abu Hudhaifah.[50]

  10. ^

    The Prophet died and the Qur'an had not been assembled into a single place.[51]

    It is reported... from Ali who said:

    May the mercy of Allah be upon Abu Bakr, the foremost of men to be rewarded with the collection of the manuscripts, for he was the first to collect (the text) between (two) covers.[52]

  11. ^ although Qiraʼat should not be confused with Tajwid—the rules of pronunciation, intonation, and caesuras of the Quran.
  12. ^ Qiraʼat now each have their own text in modern Arabic script. Most of the varieties are not commonly used but can be found on pdf with English translation at --
  13. ^ The maṣḥaf Quran that is in "general use" throughout almost all the Muslim world today (about 95% according to Muslimprophets website),[57] is a 1924 Egyptian edition based on the Qira'at "reading of Ḥafṣ on the authority of `Asim" (Ḥafṣ being the Rawi, or "transmitter", and `Asim being the Qari or "reader").[58]
  14. ^ Several verses in the Quran -- such as the one below -- challenged unbelievers to produce something like the Qur'an:
    • "If men and Jin banded together to produce the like of this Qur'an they would never produce its like not though they backed one another."(17:88)[103]
  15. ^ 11:1, 6:114, 16:89, 41:3. Though they also state that some verses are not entirely clear and that "none knows its hidden meanings save Allah".(Q.3:7)
  16. ^ Quran 16:101–103 (Pickthall)
  17. ^ though considering Muhammad a man of real vision and self-conviction (according to Edward Said),[109]
  18. ^ "From the literary point of view, the Koran has little merit. Declamation, repetition, puerility, a lack of logic and coherence strike the unprepared reader at every turn. It is humiliating to the human intellect to think that this mediocre literature has been the subject of innumerable commentaries, and that millions of men are still wasting time absorbing it." [111]
  19. ^ Because the Sabians were Ahl al-Kitāb (people of the book) but unknown, they are said to have been used as a "loop hole" in Islamic law by a religious group threatened with either conversion to Islam or death. According to Abu Yusuf Absha al-Qadi, Caliph al-Ma'mun of Baghdad in 830 CE stood with his army at the gates of Harran and questioned the Harranians about what protected religion they belonged to. As they were neither Muslim, Christian, Jewish or Magian, the caliph told them they were non-believers. He said they would have to become Muslims, or adherents of one of the other religions recognized by the Qur'an by the time he returned from his campaign against the Byzantines or he would kill them.[136] The Harranians consulted with a lawyer, who suggested that they find their answer in the Qur'an II.59, which said that Sabians were tolerated. It was unknown what the sacred text intended by "Sabian" and so they took the name.[136]
  20. ^ quote is Dundes[138] referring to Muhammad Abdel Haleem[139][140]
  21. ^ In the words of atheist author Richard Dawkins rephrasing David Hume: "Which is more likely -- that a man should be used as a transmitter by God to deliver some already existing revelations, or that he should utter some already existing revelations and believe himself to be, or claim to be, ordered by God to do so?"[162]
  22. ^ Roslan Abdul-Rahim describes the reports of the asbab or circumstances of the naskh as having "the potential to be even embarrassing for the Muslims".[201]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l LESTER, TOBY (January 1999). "What Is the Koran?". Atlantic. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  2. ^ Bible in Mohammedian Literature., by Kaufmann Kohler Duncan B. McDonald, Jewish Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22 April 2006.
  3. ^ a b Ayaz, Iftikhar Ahmad (31 August 2013). "Response to Criticism on the Holy Quran" (PDF). Al-Islam. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  4. ^ Abdul-Rahim, "Demythologizing the Qur’an Rethinking Revelation Through Naskh al-Qur’an", GJAT, 7, 2017: p.69
  5. ^ John Esposito, Islam the Straight Path, Extended Edition, p.19-20
  6. ^ Lippman, Understanding Islam, 1982: p.63-4
  7. ^ (Burton, The Sources of Islamic Law, 1990, pp. 141–42 – citing Ahmad b. `Ali b. Muhammad al `Asqalani, ibn Hajar, "Fath al Bari", 13 vols, Cairo, 1939/1348, vol. 9, p. 18).
  8. ^ a b Guillaume, Islam, 1954: p.55
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  227. ^ Women in the Quran, traditions, and interpretation by Barbara Freyer, p. 85, Mothers of the Believers in the Quran
  228. ^ Corbin (1993), p. 7
  229. ^ Quran#Levels of meaning
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  237. ^ see also: Ruthven, Malise. 2002. A Fury For God. London: Granta. p. 126.
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  240. ^ Quran 10:3, Quran 7:52 Quran 11:9, Quran 50:37
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  248. ^ "Mohammed and Mohammedanism". From the Catholic Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21 January 2008.
  249. ^ W Montgomery Watt, Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman, chapter "Assessment" section "The Alleged Moral Failures", Op. Cit, p. 332.
  250. ^ a b Houtsma, M. Th (1993). E. J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913–1936, Volume 4. Touchstone. p. 619. ISBN 9789004097902. Tolerance may in no circumstances be extended to the apostate, the renegade Muslim, whose punishment is death. Some authorities allow the remission of this punishment if the apostate recants. Others insist on the death penalty even then. God may pardon him the world to come; the law must punish him in this world.
  251. ^ Alexis de Tocqueville; Olivier Zunz, Alan S. Kahan (2002). [1] The Tocqueville Reader. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 063121545X. OCLC 49225552. p.229.
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  253. ^ Harris makes a similar argument about hadith, saying "[a]ccording to a literalist reading of the hadith (the literature that recounts the sayings and the actions of the Prophet) if a Muslim decides that he no longer wants to be a Muslim, he should be put to death. If anyone ventures the opinion that the Koran is a mediocre book of religious fiction or that Muhammad was a schizophrenic, he should also be killed. It should go without saying that a desire to kill people for imaginary crimes like apostasy and blasphemy is not an expression of religious moderation." "Who Are the Moderate Muslims?," The Huffington Post, 16 February 2006 (accessed 16 November 2013)
  254. ^ Sohail H. Hashmi, David Miller, Boundaries and Justice: diverse ethical perspectives, Princeton University Press, p. 197
  255. ^ Khaleel Muhammad, professor of religious studies at San Diego State University, states, regarding his discussion with the critic Robert Spencer, that "when I am told ... that Jihad only means war, or that I have to accept interpretations of the Quran that non-Muslims (with no good intentions or knowledge of Islam) seek to force upon me, I see a certain agendum developing: one that is based on hate, and I refuse to be part of such an intellectual crime." "Khaleel Mohammed- San Diego State University - Religious Studies Department". Archived from the original on 8 July 2008. Retrieved 13 October 2008.
  256. ^ Ali, Maulana Muhammad; The Religion of Islam (6th Edition), Ch V "Jihad" p. 414 "When shall war cease". Published by The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement [2] Archived 21 April 2018 at the Wayback Machine
  257. ^ Sadr-u-Din, Maulvi. "Quran and War", p. 8. Published by The Muslim Book Society, Lahore, Pakistan. [3] Archived 8 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  258. ^ Article on Jihad Archived 29 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine by Dr. G. W. Leitner (founder of The Oriental Institute, UK) published in Asiatic Quarterly Review, 1886. ("jihad, even when explained as a righteous effort of waging war in self-defense against the grossest outrage on one's religion, is strictly limited..")
  259. ^ The Quranic Commandments Regarding War/Jihad Archived 26 April 2018 at the Wayback Machine An English rendering of an Urdu article appearing in Basharat-e-Ahmadiyya Vol. I, pp. 228–32, by Dr. Basharat Ahmad; published by the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement for the Propagation of Islam
  260. ^ Ali, Maulana Muhammad; The Religion of Islam (6th Edition), Ch V "Jihad" pp. 411–13. Published by The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement [4] Archived 21 April 2018 at the Wayback Machine
  261. ^ Syed Kamran Mirza (2006). Kim Ezra Shienbaum; Jamal Hasan (eds.). An Exegesis on 'Jihad in Islam'. Vol. Beyond Jihad: Critical Voices from Inside Islam. Academica Press, LLC. pp. 78–80. ISBN 1-933146-19-2.
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  265. ^ Friedmann, Yohanan (2003). Tolerance and coercion in Islam: interfaith relations in the Muslim tradition. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 94–95. ISBN 0-521-82703-5.
  266. ^ Tremblay, Rodrigue (2009). The Code for Global Ethics: Toward a Humanist Civilization. Trafford Publishing. pp. 169–70. ISBN 978-1-4269-1358-7.
  267. ^ Nisrine Abiad (2008). Sharia, Muslim States and International Human Rights Treaty Obligations: A Comparative Study. British Institute for International & Compara. p. 24. ISBN 978-1-905221-41-7.
  268. ^ Braswell, George W.; Braswell, George W. Jr (2000). What you need to know about Islam & Muslims. Nashville, Tenn: Broadman & Holman Publishers. p. 38. ISBN 0-8054-1829-6.
  269. ^ Bonner, Michael David (2006). Jihad in Islamic history: doctrines and practice. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press. p. 32. ISBN 0-691-12574-0.
  270. ^ Peters, Rudolph Albert (2008). Jihad in classical and modern Islam: a reader. Princeton: Markus Wiener Publishers. p. 46. ISBN 978-1-55876-359-3.
  271. ^ Ali Unal (2008). The Quran with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English. Rutherford, N.J: The Light, Inc. p. 249. ISBN 978-1-59784-144-3.
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  273. ^ Ghazanfar, Shaikh M. (2003). Medieval Islamic economic thought: filling the "great gap" in European economics. London: RoutledgeCurzon. ISBN 0-415-29778-8.
  274. ^ Akhtar, Shabbir (2008). The Quran and the secular mind: a philosophy of Islam. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-43783-7.
  275. ^ Taheri-azar, Mohammed Reza (2006). Letter to The daily Tar Heel  – via Wikisource.
  276. ^ "Surat An-Nisa' 4:34] – The Noble Qur'an – القرآن الكريم". Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  277. ^ Bernard Lewis A Middle East Mosaic: Fragments of Life, Letters and History (Modern Library, 2001) p. 184 ISBN 0375758372
  278. ^ "Script for the movie, Submission". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
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  282. ^ Quranic Perspective on Wife beating and Abuse Archived 30 December 2006 at the Wayback Machine, by Fatimah Khaldoon, Submission, 2003. Retrieved 16 April 2006.
  283. ^ Abdullah Yusuf Ali in his Quranic commentary states that: "In case of family jars four steps are mentioned, to be taken in that order. (1) Perhaps verbal advice or admonition may be sufficient; (2) if not, sex relations may be suspended; (3) if this is not sufficient, some slight physical correction may be administered; but Imam Shafi'i considers this inadvisable, though permissible, and all authorities are unanimous in deprecating any sort of cruelty, even of the nagging kind, as mentioned in the next clause; (4) if all this fails, a family council is recommended in 4:35 below." Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Holy Quran: Text, Translation and Commentary (commentary on 4:34), Amana Corporation, Brentwood, MD, 1989. ISBN 0-915957-03-5.
  284. ^ Yusuf al-Qaradawi, head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, says that "If the husband senses that feelings of disobedience and rebelliousness are rising against him in his wife, he should try his best to rectify her attitude by kind words, gentle persuasion, and reasoning with her. If this is not helpful, he should sleep apart from her, trying to awaken her agreeable feminine nature so that serenity may be restored, and she may respond to him in a harmonious fashion. If this approach fails, it is permissible for him to beat her lightly with his hands, avoiding her face and other sensitive parts."Islam Online - Services (Fatwa)". Archived from the original on 4 April 2005. Retrieved 5 June 2007.."Islam Online - Services (Fatwa)". Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 April 2005. Retrieved 5 June 2007.
  285. ^ Ibn Kathir writes that in case of rebellious behavior, the husband is asked to urge his wife to mend her ways, then to refuse to share their beds, and as the last resort, husbands are allowed to admonish their wives by beating. Ibn Kathir, "Tafsir of Ibn Kathir", Al-Firdous Ltd., London, 2000, 50–53
  286. ^ Yusuf al-Qaradawi, head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, says that "It is permissible for him to beat her lightly with his hands, avoiding her face and other sensitive parts. In no case should he resort to using a stick or any other instrument that might cause pain and injury.""Islam Online - Services (Fatwa)". Archived from the original on 4 April 2005. Retrieved 5 June 2007."Islam Online - Services (Fatwa)". Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 April 2005. Retrieved 5 June 2007.
  287. ^ Ibn Kathir Ad-Damishqee records in his Tafsir Al-Quran Al-Azim that "Ibn `Abbas and several others said that the Ayah refers to a beating that is not violent. Al-Hasan Al-Basri said that it means, a beating that is not severe."
  288. ^ Ahmad Shafaat, Tafseer of Surah an-Nisa, Ayah 34 Archived 27 March 2002 at the Wayback Machine, Islamic Perspectives. 10 August 2005
  289. ^ One such authority is the earliest hafiz, Ibn Abbas.[5] Archived 29 September 2017 at the Wayback Machine
  290. ^ "The Holy Quran: Text, Translation and Commentary", Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Amana Corporation, Brentwood, MD, 1989. ISBN 0-915957-03-5, passage was quoted from commentary on 4:34
  291. ^ Kathir, Ibn, "Tafsir of Ibn Kathir", Al-Firdous Ltd., London, 2000, 50–53
  292. ^ Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi comments that "Whenever the Prophet (peace be on him) permitted a man to administer corporal punishment to his wife, he did so with reluctance, and continued to express his distaste for it. And even in cases where it is necessary, the Prophet (peace be on him) directed men not to hit across the face, nor to beat severely nor to use anything that might leave marks on the body." "Towards Understanding the Quran" Translation by Zafar I. Ansari from "Tafheem Al-Quran" (specifically, commentary on 4:34) by Syed Abul-A'ala Mawdudi, Islamic Foundation, Leicester, England.
  293. ^ The medieval jurist ash-Shafi'i, founder of one of the main schools of fiqh, commented on this verse that "hitting is permitted, but not hitting is preferable."
  294. ^ "[S]ome of the greatest Muslim scholars (e.g., Ash-Shafi'i) are of the opinion that it is just barely permissible, and should preferably be avoided: and they justify this opinion by the Prophet's personal feelings with regard to this problem." Muhammad Asad, The Message of the Quran (his translation of the Quran).
  295. ^ Akhtar, Shabbir (2008). The Quran and the secular mind: a philosophy of Islam. New York: Routledge. p. 351. ISBN 978-0-415-43782-0.
  296. ^ The Indestructible Jews, by Max I. Dimont, p. 134
  297. ^ Islam: An Introduction, by Annemarie Schimmel, p. 13, "Muhammad"
  298. ^ a b Christoph Luxenberg, The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran: A Contribution to the Decoding of the Language of the Koran, Verlag Hans Schiler, 2007, ISBN 9783899300888, 349 pages, pp. 247–82 – The Huris or Virgins of Paradise
  299. ^ Quran 2:113
  300. ^ Gerber (1986), pp. 78–79 "Anti-Semitism and the Muslim World". In History and Hate: The Dimensions of Anti-Semitism, ed. David Berger. Jewish Publications Society. ISBN 0-8276-0267-7
  301. ^ Poliakov, Leon (1997). "Anti-Semitism". Encyclopedia Judaica (CD-ROM Edition Version 1.0). Ed. Cecil Roth. Keter Publishing House. ISBN 965-07-0665-8
  302. ^ Lewis (1999), p. 120
  303. ^ See, for example from Gerber 91, 3:63; 3:71; 4:46; 4:160–161; 5:41–44, 5:63–64, 5:82; 6:92
  304. ^ Gerber 78
  305. ^ a b Maududi, Sayyid Abul Ala (1967). The Meaning of the Quran.
  306. ^ Tolan, John, Europe and the Islamic World, Part 1, Chapter 5, p. 97
  307. ^ Glassé, Cyril; Smith, Huston (1 January 2003). The New Encyclopedia of Islam. Rowman Altamira. p. 429. ISBN 9780759101906.
  308. ^ M. al Selek, ed. (1993). The Major Sins : Arabic Text and English Translation of "Al Kaba'ir" (Muhammad Bin Uthman Adh Dhahabi). Translated by Mohammad Moinuddin Siddiqui. Kazi Publications. ISBN 1-56744-489-X. Archived from the original on 1 April 2019. Retrieved 6 May 2017. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  309. ^ "The Major Sins: Al-Kaba'r".
  310. ^ Encyclopedia of Islam, volume 9, 2nd edition, s.v. shirk
  311. ^ "Shirk". Learn Religions.
  312. ^ "Muslim Clerics - Jews Are the Descendants of Apes, Pigs, And Other Animals".
  313. ^ "Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research". 19 (1). ICPR. 2002: 73. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  314. ^ Fazlur Rahman (Spring 1984). "American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  315. ^ The Gandhian Moment, p. 117, by Ramin Jahanbegloo
  316. ^ Gandhi's responses to Islam, p. 110, by Sheila McDonough