Accuracy of the Qur'an? (2)
Refreshingly, you do not claim that the Qur'an is divine and without "error, alteration, or variation." Historical sources show that several differing texts of the Qur'an circulated in Syria, Armenia, and Iraq prior to the final revision produced by Caliph Uthman who entrusted a commission, in which Muhammad's long-time secretary, Zaid, acted as overseer to ensure production of a 'final and definitive authorized version of the Qur'an' which everyone must accept.
Alfred Guillaume, perhaps the best-known and accepted Western scholar on Islam from the non-Islamic world, pointed out that not all Muslims accepted Uthman's recension, nor are all versions of the Qur'an identical:
Only the men of Kufa refused the new edition, and their version was certainly extant as late as A.D. 1000. Uthman's edition to this day remains the authoritative word of God to Muslims. Nevertheless, even now variant readings, involving not only different reading of the vowels but also occasionally a different consonantal text, are recognized as of equal authority one with another. The old Kufic script in which the Quran was originally written contained no indication of vowels, and so the consonants of verbs could be read as actives or passives, and, worse still, many of the consonants themselves could not be distinguished without the diacritical dots which were afterwards added, when and by whom we do not know....Originally considerable freedom prevailed, until a later generation insisted on uniformity but never entirely achieved it...The arrangement of the text is arbitrary and haphazard....The Muslim world has not yet come to grips with the problem which Christian Europe faced after the Renaissance, but signs are not wanting that thoughtful Muslims are seeking a way out of the logical impasse....Until all the rival readings scattered in manuscripts and books not readily to be consulted have been collected on a scale comparable with the critical apparatus of the Bible, and until a trustworthy lexicon of the Quran has been compiled, details - many of great importance - will remain obscure." (A. Guillaume pp. 57-60).
"Without diacritical marks a word could be read active or passive and many consonants could not be distinguished without the diacritical dots which were added afterwards, when and by whom we do not know." (Collection of the Quran by John Burton).
As these men reveal, simple comparison of different transmitted versions of the Qur'an reveals variants between them - variants involving letter differences, diacritical differences, and vowel differences. An examination of some transliterated words from the Hafs transmission and the Warsh transmission of the Quran (the Hafs transmission as used in most parts of the Islamic world, and the Warsh transmission as used in west and northwest Africa) is revealing;Importance of Hadith Literature?
In Sura 2:132 the Hafs transmission has the word wawassa.
The Warsh transmission has wa'awsa.
In Sura 5:54 the Hafs transmission has the word yartadda.
The Warsh transmission has yartadid.
In Sura 2:140 the Hafs transmission has the word taquluna.
The Warsh transmission has yaquluna.
In Sura 20:63 the Hafs transmission has the word hazayni.
The Warsh transmission has Inna hazani.
This sampling of variants demonstrates that any claims of "perfect unity" in the copies of the Qur'an is clearly incorrect (ref. Adrian Brockett, "The Value of the Hafs and Warsh Transmissions for the Textual History of the Quran," in Approaches to the History of the Interpretation of the Quran, ed. Andrew Rippin, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988, pp. 34, 37).
Of course, logically, even if today's Qur'an were a perfect copy of Muhammad's original, or of whatever he said, it still would not prove the original was inspired from God. But there are other tests which can be applied to test whether writing has all the 'hallmarks' of an inspired, unique, holy book. The Qur'an's beauty and eloquence supposedly prove the author is God, but beauty and eloquence are not tests for divine inspiration. If they were, then many other works of art throughout human history might be considered to be 'divinely inspired' e.g. the writings of Shakespeare and other literary talents. Yes, we have heard the Muslim challenge to the world to produce a 'single chapter' comparable to a chapter in the Qur'an - and how poets and writers have met that challenge! A most interesting test would be to dare to insert such a deliberately composed 'chapter' into the Qur'an and the Bible and invite someone who had never read either before to read both fully - and then ask them afterwards if they could detect the imposter 'chapter'! No believer would do this - but I suspect that nobody would be impressed by the outcome as the Bible makes it clear that only someone 'quickened' by the Holy Spirit could begin to discern Biblical truth and Muslims could make a similar claim for their Qur'an.
The false prophet of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, tried to copy the style of the King James Version of the Bible. He also mimicked Muhammad in claiming an 'angel' appeared to him and eventually led him to retrieve the Book of Mormon which had supposedly been preserved on 'gold plates' and buried in the ground waiting for this 'faithful servant of God' to be born on earth so he could 'restore' the 'true gospel of Christ' to the earth. All of the historical, factual, logical, and Biblical tests which prove Muhammad to be a deceiver also prove the same for Smith!
A much more reasonable test of the Qur'an is to consider the many different kinds of errors, such as the grammatical errors in the Qur'an revealed by Iranian Muslim author Ali Dashti who wrote a book (published posthumously for obvious reasons!) that documented these errors:
"The Qor'an contains sentences which are incomplete and not fully intelligible without the aid of 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. These and other such aberrations in the language have given scope to critics who deny the Qor'an's eloquence. The problem also occupied the minds of devout Moslems. It forced the commentators to search for explanations and was probably one of the causes of disagreement over readings. ... To sum up, more than one hundred Qor'anic aberrations from the normal rules and structure of Arabic have been noted. Needless to say, the commentators strove to find explanations and justifications of these irregularities. Among them was the great commentator and philologist Mahmud oz-Zamakhshari (467/1075-538/1144), of whom a Moorish author wrote: 'This grammar-obsessed pedant has committed a shocking error. Our task is not to make the readings conform to Arabic grammar, but to take the whole of the Qor'an as it is and make Arabic grammar conform to the Qor'an.'" (Ali Dashti, Twenty Three Years, London: Allen and Unwin, 1985, pp. 48-50 - emphasis in red added).
The Qur'an presents confusing views as well as many other kinds of error, not just grammatical, and the Qur'anic view of strong drinks and wine 'flip-flops' extraordinarily as the following passages demonstrate:
Sura 16:64-69 gives the impression that intoxicants are good, since the context deals with signs or proofs of God's care and provisions for mankind and nothing is said about the negative affects of intoxicants or whether it is forbidden for believers.
Sura 4:43 forbids Muslims from coming to prayers while intoxicated giving the impression that drinking before praying is permissible provided that one doesn't get drunk.
Sura 2:219 indicates that wine (an intoxicant) is both sinful and profitable, with the sin being greater, but stops short of explicitly prohibiting the consumption of wine.
Sura 5:90-91 goes full circle and states that intoxicants are the handiwork of Satan whereas Sura 16:64-69 had described them as proofs of God's care and provisions for mankind! So wine was something good but became something completely evil?
How can these problems be explained away? Would it help to claim that the verses which permit intoxicants were abrogated? How would a Muslim know that these verses have been abrogated? Where does the Qur'an explicitly, or even implicitly, state this? How does the Muslim know for certain which verses came first? Does the Qur'an give the date these "revelations" were allegedly sent down so that we can know which passage came first? After all, one can just as likely claim that Sura 16:64-67 was "revealed" last and therefore abrogated Sura 2:219 and 5:90-91. How can one know for certain?
Actually, we can draw a lot more information and guidance from Muhammad's doctrine of abrogation. The practical application of this principle is that when there is a contradiction between two verses in the Qur'an the newer revelation over-rides the previous revelation - the new cancels the old. Since a Muslim knows his best 'chance' to enter Paradise is to be as much like Muhammad as possible we know he will accept his doctrine of abrogation (we will look into the illogicality of this belief later). Therefore, he will read the words, 'There is no compulsion in religion' in the Qur'an, but consider these words no longer have authority because Sura 2:193 reads, "And fight with them until there is no persecution, and religion should be only for Allah, but if they desist, then there should be no hostility except against oppressors." So the 'no compulsion in religion' verse has been mansookh (cancelled) by revelations that came later! Many Muslims interpret the Qur'an in this way, following the principle of abrogation known in Arabic as nasikh. Should we be surprised that Allah led Muhammad in progressive revelation of this kind when this 'god' is known as 'The Greatest Deceiver' and can do 'good or evil' as it suits his whim! The final clue to interpretation of this kind is the fact that many copies of the Qur'an have a table that shows whether a Sura is from Mecca or Medina in order to help readers know which is the newer revelation.
Eternal Destiny, Sin and Death
Then there are Muslim's who claim that they do not have the Qur'an alone, but also consult the hadith literature. This view, at
http://www.submission.org/hadith/bhadith.html is revealing:
'The advocates of hadith are fond of saying that the hadith explains the Quran without which, they say the Quran cannot be understood. In other words without hadith they will have to reject the Quran or at least ignore it. The scholars also say that the hadith they call "Sahih Bukhary" is the best hadith. It can be easily proved that the hadith does not in any way explain the Quran and that the "Sahih Bukhari" is not worth the papers it is printed on. For evidence please refer to, and check all references of "Sahih Al-Bukhary" by Dr. Muhammed Muhsin Khan, Islamic University, Medina Al-Munawwara. Publisher "Kitab Bhavan, New Delhi, which is the Nine volume encyclopedia. Vol. 6 of "Sahih Al-Bukhary" is devoted to the explanation of the Quran (Tafsir). The other eight volumes prescribe things like drinking camels urine to cure fevers (vol 7, hadith no 590), burning people first and then their houses if they do not go the mosque on time, (vol.1, hadith no.626), dreaming of undressing women (vol 9, hadith no.139 and 140), using shoes to garland camels (Vol 2, hadith no 763), and other such non-sense. But let us focus on vol. 6: the explanation of the Quran by Imam Bukhary. Although the Quran has 114 suras or chapters, Bukhari does not explain all the verses in all the suras. Sura 2, Al Baqarah has 286 verses, but Bukhari only provides hadith for about 50 verses. This is slightly over 20% of Al Baqarah. Bukhari has left the Ulamma groping the dark over the remaining 80%.'
There are clearly Muslim scholars who also believe that many traditions presently contained in the hadith were deliberately invented 100 to 200 years after the time of Muhammad by men such as Bukhari to support the customs or beliefs of rival parties as divisions arose in Islam. This is ample time for miracle legends to develop. Portions of the hadith are clearly not based on the life and teachings of Muhammad and Muslim scholars have developed methods of trying to sift through the hadith to evaluate them, weed out questionable or spurious ones, and preserve authentic ones in systematically arranged collections. As the examples above from www.submission.org show, many of the supposed teachings attributed to Muhammad are such 'nonsense' that an intelligent child could determine the lack of 'divine inspiration,' but others leave scholars without any foolproof way of knowing for sure what is authentic and what is not.
Apart from the nonsense described above it is obvious that any appeal to the hadiths for clarification of Qur'anic passages merely shows it to be incomplete and therefore false in its claims to have full instructions for mankind. When examined carefully the Qur'an clearly fails as a guide to mankind.
When it comes to matters as important as our eternal destiny after death do you think that you will somehow escape from 'hell' - however you perceive it - by trying to find support for your belief in the Qur'an? Surely you can see from the evidence we have supplied that it is Islam that forever leaves the threat of Hell over a believer (Islamic suicide bombers embrace the path of jihad because it is the only certain path into Paradise for them and a select few of their family), whereas belief in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ leads to peace, a life of loving service to humanity, and instant entrance into heaven, even if you only believe at the end of your life as the 'thief on the cross' exemplifies (Luke 23:43):
Luke 23:39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!" LK 23:40 But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." LK 23:42 Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. " LK 23:43 Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in Paradise."
How do you think it could ever be reasonable for a Christian to give up belief in a God of such great mercy that He would forgive and promise immediate Paradise to a self-confessed criminal who shows faith in Him at the last moments of his life and, rather, to accept the teachings of a capricious, contradictory 'god' and his false prophet, Muhammad?
Incidentally, the whole issue of the interpretation of sin makes it impossible for Muslims to even see their need for Jesus - thus we can understand why you cling to Muhammad. If people were really born in fitrah - the belief that human nature is sound and that people are not born with a sin nature but born in a pure state - they would not need a Saviour! But, if God forgave Adam for his transgression as the Qur'an teaches, then why weren't he and his descendants repatriated into paradise and their fellowship restored with God? All around us we see the consequences of sin, with suffering, hardship, disease, and death? If we were really born in a pure state and subsequently corrupted by our environments, as Islam claims, then why do we never have to teach a child how to lie, be selfish, or cruel? Anyone who becomes a parent will observe that, despite the best behaviour and intentions of parents, the child soon learns to tantrum, sulk and behave jealously - even when they have never seen such behaviour from the parents to be able to mimic it! Such evil is in all of us - as you seem to have seen to some degree.
We were in desperate need of divine intervention and required a Saviour because we cannot undo our fallen natures by kissing religious icons or through 'pillars of faith', or any other means. The God of the Bible will not water down His holiness for us - but He sent Jesus, Fully God and Fully Man, to die for our sin that we can appear righteous and holy before Him because Jesus has taken our punishment, our sin, upon Himself:
(1 Peter 2:24): Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree (the cross!), that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
Note - this was prophesied by the prophet Isaiah about 700 years before this happened! Do not make yourself like the Jews who will not read Isaiah 53 in their synagogues (from their own book!) to this day:
(Isaiah 53:5): But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
and thus we are warned:
(Hebrews 12:10, 14): Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. ... Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
(Continued on page 418)