Abu Isa al-Warraq

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Abu Isa al-Warraq
Born Muhammad ibn Harun al-Warraq
889 [1]
Baghdad, modern-day Iraq
Died 24 June 994(994-06-24)
Known for Scholar

Abu 'Isa al-Warraq, full name Abu 'Isa Muhammad ibn Harun al-Warraq (Arabic: أبو عيسى محمد ابن هارون الوراق‎‎ Abū ʿĪsā Muḥammad ibn Hārūn al-Warrāq, 889 – 24 June 994), was a 9th-century Arab skeptic scholar and critic of Islam and religion in general. He was a student of Ibn al-Sarrāj and Ibn Duraid[1] and mentor and friend of scholar Ibn al-Rawandi in whose work The Book of the Emerald he appears.[2]:224 The modern scholar of the Qur'an and critic of Islam, Ibn Warraq, derives his pseudonymous name from al-Warraq.[3]

Views of revealed religions[edit]

Al-Warraq was skeptical of the existence of God because "He who orders his slave to do things that he knows him to be incapable of doing, then punishes him, is a fool".[4]:43

Al-Warraq challenged the notion of revealed religion. He argued that if humans are capable of figuring out that, for instance, it is good to be forgiving, then a prophet is unnecessary, and that we should not heed the claims of self-appointed prophets, if what is claimed is found to be contrary to good sense and reason. Al-Warraq admired the intellect not for its capacity to submit to a god, but rather for its inquisitiveness towards the wonders of science. He explained that people developed the science of astronomy by gazing at the sky, and that no prophet was necessary to show them how to gaze; he also said that no prophets were needed to show them how to make flutes, either, or how to play them.[2]

Views of Islam[edit]

Al-Warraq also doubted claims portraying Muhammad as a prophet:[2]

That Muhammad could predict certain events does not prove that he was a prophet: he may have been able to guess successfully, but this does not mean that he had real knowledge of the future. And certainly the fact that he was able to recount events from the past does not prove that he was a prophet, because he could have read about those events in the Bible and, if he was illiterate, he could still have had the Old Testament read to him.[2]


  1. ^ a b Brockelmann, Carl (2016). History of the Arabic Written Tradition. Brill. p. 101. ISBN 9789004326262. 
  2. ^ a b c d Hecht, Jennifer Michael (2003). Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson. Harper San Francisco. ISBN 0-06-009795-7. 
  3. ^ Warraq, Ibn (2010). Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays. Prometheus Books, Publishers. ISBN 9781616143121. 
  4. ^ Stroumsa, Sarah (1999). Freethinkers of Medieval Islam: Ibn al-Rawandi, Abu Bakir al-Razi and their Impact on Islamic Thought. Brill. ISBN 9004113746.