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WE are convinced that a careful and unprejudiced study of the Qur'an will prove beyond doubt that large portions of it were deliberately framed by Muhammad to suit his own ends. This is a grave charge, and we now proceed to substantiate it. It should ever be remembered that "a comparison of the historical facts in the life of Muhammad with the various portions of the Qur'an connected with them is necessary, if that life is to be intelligently understood. Another and equally important result of such comparison is that it shows the gradual way in which the Qur'an came into existence, and how admirably the revelations fitted in to the local circumstances, and gave what was claimed to be divine authority and support to the varied actions of the Prophet. In this way alone could his change of policy be justified and he himself be protected from the charge of time-serving and inconsistency."1 Such a study alone will enable the reader to understand such questions as a change of the Qibla from Jerusalem to Mecca, the substitution of an order to "Kill the idolaters wherever ye find them"2 for the pacific policy of "No compulsion in religion,"3 as

1 Sell, "Historical Development of the Qur'an," p. 1.

2 Suratu'l-Baqarah (ii. 188).

3 Ibid (ii. 257)

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well as the many contradictory injunctions relating to the domestic affairs of the Prophet. That Muhammad did on a certain occasion succumb to the temptation to forge a revelation upon the Quraish is amply testified by numerous Muhammadan writers, including such well-known authorities as Ibn Hisham, Tabari, Yahya' and Jalalu'd-Din. The circumstances of the Prophet's fall are as follows. One day, we are told, he entered the holy sanctuary of Mecca, and began to recite the Suratu'n-Najm (liii). The long-continued opposition of the Quraish had disheartened the prophet, and he longed for some means of gaining the good-will of his opposers. The temptation to compromise was great, and the prospect of reconciliation with those who maligned him too alluring to be withstood. The prophet fell, for when he came to the words, "Do ye see al-Lat and al-'Uzza and Manat the third (idol) besides" (vv. 19-20) he added, to the delight of his hearers, the words, "These are the exalted females, and verily their intercession is to be hoped for." The Quraish were delighted and joined the Prophet in worship, saying "Now we know that it is the Lord alone that giveth life and taketh it away, that createth and supporteth. These our goddesses make intercession for us with Him, and as thou hast conceded unto them a position we are content to follow thee." But Muhammad soon repented of his rash compromise, and withdrew the words of commendation which he had used regarding the Arab idols, substituting in their stead the words now found in the Qur'an:-

"What! shall ye have male progeny and God female? This were indeed an unfair partition. These are mere names

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and your fathers named them such." (vv. 21-3). Then, to cover his fault, he produced yet another revelation in which God is made to comfort him by the reflection that he was in good company, for former prophets had been tempted in precisely the same manner by the devil, who was the author of the whole mistake. Thus in Suratu'l-Hajj (xxii. 51) we read:-

"We have not sent an apostle or prophet before thee but when he read, Satan injected some (error) in his reading; but God shall bring to nought that which Satan hath suggested."

The incident related above is such a grave one that we quote at some length to show that its truthfulness is vouched for by the highest authority; for if thus early in his career the prophet of Arabia so easily fell into the temptation to compose a passage in order to gain the good will of his enemies, it is manifest that later on when worldly ambition loomed so large in his horizon, the temptation to do so would be doubly great. We quote, therefore, below, the account of the incident given by Mu'alim:-

On the different rendering of , see Sell's "Historical Development of the Qur'an" (ed. 1905), pp 36-7.

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"It is related by Ibn 'Abbas and Muhammad ibn Ka'b al-Qarzi and other commentators besides that when Muhammad saw that his people (the Quraish) retired from him and opposed him, and rejected that (Qur'an) which he had brought them from God, he wished in his heart that some such word would come to him from God by which friendship might be established between him and his people, and an inducement held out to them to believe. And it came to pass that one day he was in the temple of the Quraish when God sent down Suratu'n-Najm. And the Prophet recited it, and when he arrived at the words 'Do ye see al-Lat and al-'Uzza and Manat the third (idol) besides,' Satan placed upon his lips what he had longed for in his heart: 'These are the exalted females, and verily their intercession is to be hoped for.' When the Quraish heard this they rejoiced."

Another form of the story is given in the Mawahibu'l-Luduniyyah, as follows:-

1 p. 169. p. 136.

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"The Prophet (on whom be blessing and peace) was reading Suratu'n-Najm in Mecca, and when he arrived at the words 'Do ye see al-Lat and al-'Uzza' and Manat the third (idol) besides,' Satan cast upon his lips the words 'these are the exalted females and verily their intercession is to be hoped for,' and the idolators said, 'he hath spoken well of our goddesses'. And he worshipped and they worshipped; and then was sent down this verse, 'We have not sent an apostle or prophet before thee into whose reading Satan did not cast (some error).'"1

It is to the credit of the Apostle that he so soon repented of the fall related above, and ever afterwards consistently opposed idolatry in every form; but the experience gained did him little good, and we soon find him again changing his utterances to suit his own ends. Thus when the Prophet fled to Madina, a persecuted and helpless man, he soon recognized the necessity of conciliating, and if possible winning to his side, the numerous and powerful communities of Jews who lived there. For this purpose he made Jerusalem his Qibla, and for some considerable time continued to pray in the direction of the Jewish city; but when at last all efforts to win the Jews to his side failed, and his own position had become strengthened by the accession of numerous Arabs, he felt the necessity of once more trying to woo the Quraish to his side, and for that purpose brought forward a "revelation"2 again making the Ka'ba the Qibla. Thus in Suratu'l-Baqarah we read:

1 Suratu'l-Hajj (xxii. 51).

2 Suratu'l-Baqarah (ii. 138-9).

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"We appointed the Qibla towards which thou didst formerly (pray), only that We might know him who followeth the Apostle from him who turneth back on his heels. This (change) seems a great matter, unless unto those whom God hath directed. But God will not render your faith of none effect, for God is gracious and merciful unto man. We have seen thee turn thy face towards heaven, but We will cause thee to turn thyself towards a Qibla that will please thee. Turn therefore thy face towards the holy temple (of Mecca) and wherever ye be, turn your faces toward that place."

Good Muhammadan exegetes admit these facts; thus Jalalu'd-din says:-

"After his flight he (Muhammad) ordered (his followers) to turn to the Temple at Jerusalem; this, however, which was done to conciliate the Jews, held good for six or seven months only, and then he changed it again."1

'Abdu'l-Qadir admits that the Prophet wished to make Mecca his Qibla once more, and says

1 Quoted by Geiger, "Judaism and Islam," p. 14. See also Tafsiru'l Jalalain in loco.

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"He wished that he might receive a command to pray towards the Ka'ba, and for this reason he kept his gaze fixed on the heavens, if perchance an angel might appear with a command for him to pray towards the Ka'ba."1 It is not strange that, under the circumstances, the Apostle soon found a way to gratify his wish, and that a "revelation" appeared sanctioning the change.

Another arbitrary command which Muhammad gave out in the early years of his residence at Madina has reference to the Jewish fast; and it too, like the Jerusalem Qibla, was afterwards revoked. The following story will illustrate the charge, and show how local circumstances called forth various arbitrary laws from Muhammad, who afterwards repealed them with equal alacrity when necessity arose. Thus Kazim tells us that:-

"It is said that when the Apostle of God came to Madina, he found the Jews fasting on 'Ashura. He asked them their reason for so doing, and they answered; 'Because on this day Pharaoh and his people were drowned, but Moses and his followers were saved;' on which Muhammad said, I stand in closer connection with Moses than they do and then he commanded the fast-day 'Ashura." This fast,

1 "Tasiru'l-Mada'ihi'l-Qur'an," p. 22.

2 Quoted by Geiger "Judaism and Islam," p. 26. A similar Tradition, recorded by Ibn 'Abbas, is given in the Mishka'tu'l-Masibih, in the chapter on fasting.

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which is still observed on the tenth of Ramadan as a voluntary and meritorious fast, affords clear proof of the way Muhammad borrowed from other systems when he wished to do so, and refutes the claim that he received his religious injunctions by direct revelation.

Another story which illustrates the very human origin of the Qur'an is the one told by many Muhammadan commentators with regard to Muhammad's marriage with Zainab the divorced wife of his adopted son Zaid. Zaid was known as the "Son of Muhammad," and had taken to wife a beautiful woman named Zainab. One day, we are told, the Prophet happened to visit the house of Zaid and found Zainab in a dress which ill concealed her beauty. The Prophet was smitten by the sight, and exclaimed in admiration "Praise be to God who turneth the hearts of men."1 Zainab overheard the words, and forthwith acquainted her husband with the fact. The latter then divorced his wife, and offered her to Muhammad; but the Prophet hesitated to consummate a marriage with the divorced wife of his adopted son, and so, anxious to avoid the scandal which he knew would follow, solved the difficulty and justified his immediate marriage with Zainab by a "revelation" commanding him to take her to wife. This extraordinary piece of "revelation" is to be found in Suratu'l-Ahzab (xxxiii. 37-8) and runs as follows:-

"But when Zaid had determined the matter concerning her (Zainab), We joined her in marriage unto thee, lest a

1 "Hayatu'l-Qulub," vol. ii, Part 53.

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crime should be charged on the true believers in (marrying} the wives of their adopted sons." Can the intelligent Muslim reader believe, we ask, that the words quoted above are indeed the words of God? Is it not rather self-evident that the whole passage instead of being a revelation direct from God, was deliberately framed and promulgated by Muhammad in order to justify his conduct.

Another revelation put forward by Muhammad to justify a change in his domestic affairs is the one found in Suratu't-Tahrim (lxvi. 1-2) in which permission is granted to him to break his oaths. The story which is told by many commentators is as follows. Muhammad having shown too great a partiality for a slave girl named Mary, aroused thereby the jealousy of his numerous wives, who rebuked him so sharply that he took a solemn oath not to touch the maid again. But the Prophet found the promise easier to make than keep, and his longing for the beautiful Coptic slave girl proving too strong for him, he forthwith solved the difficulty, and justified a renewal of his relations with her by the following revelation in which permission is given him to break his oaths:-

"O Prophet! why holdest thou that to be prohibited (haram) which God hath made lawful to thee, from a desire to please thy wives, since God is Lenient, Merciful? God hath allowed you release from your oaths." We abstain from further comment on this passage, and content ourselves with asking the intelligent Muslim to earnestly consider whether it is possible that these words of the Qur'an were, ages before the creation, written upon the preserved table in heaven. In this connection, there is a Tradition preserved

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by Muslim,1 which offers a suggestive comment upon Muhammad's domestic legislation. It is recorded that:-

"'Ayesha said, 'I was reflecting upon the women who had given themselves to the Prophet (upon whom be mercy and peace), and I said, What! does a woman give herself away? Then God sent down the revelation, 'Thou mayest decline for the present whom thou wilt of them and thou mayest take to thy bed her whom thou wilt, and whomsoever thou shalt long for of those thou hast before neglected, and this shall be no crime in thee.2 I said, 'I see nothing in which your God doth not hasten to please you in your desires.'"

The numerous and contradictory injunctions of the Qur'an with respect to Jihad, or religious warfare, furnish another example of the Prophet's temporising policy. Any chronological study of that book will make it clear that in the early stages of Islam when Muhammad was a helpless and persecuted refugee, devoid of the means of enforcing his teaching by the stern argument of the sword, he uniformly inculcated a policy of mildness and toleration in dealing with non-Muslims. Thus in Suratu'l-Baqarah (ii. 257) we read:-

"Let there be no compulsion in religion;" but when fortune had smiled upon him and he found him

1 Mishkatu'l-Masabih, Babu'l-Isharati'n-Nasa'i.

2 Suratu'l-Ahzab (xxxiii. 51).

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self surrounded by a band of warlike Arabs lusting for plunder, his 'revelations' underwent a remarkable change, and the faithful were urged with vehement persistence to,

"Kill them (the infidels) till all strife be at an end, and the religion be all of God's;1 whilst the very last. Sura revealed contains these uncompromising words


"O Prophet! contend with the unbelievers and the hypocrites, and be severe unto them, for their dwelling place shall be hell."

"Kill the idolators wheresoever ye shall find them, and take them (Prisoners) and besiege them, and lay wait for them in every convenient place."3

Muhammad often appealed to the beauty of the Arabic Qur'an, and its inimitable style of composition, in proof of his contention that it was from heaven. He was not loth, however, when a more than usually striking sentence met his ears, to add it to his own collection in order to enhance the latter's value. Arabic literature furnishes us with not a few instances of such plagiarism, of which the following, may be adduced as examples. Baidawi tells us that:

1 Suratu'l-Baqarah (ii. 184).

2 Suratu't-Taubah (ix. 74)

3 Suratu't-Taubah (ix. 5).

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"'Abdu'llah bin Sa'ud bin Abi Sarih was an amanuensis of the Prophet. And, when the words descended 'We created man of fine clay;'2 and when the words were finished. Then brought We forth him by another creation;' 'Abdu'llah exclaimed 'Blessed therefore be God the most excellent of Makers. He has created man in a wonderful manner.' Upon this (Muhammad) said, 'Write those (words) down, for so it has descended.' But 'Abdu'llah doubted and said, 'If Muhammad speak truth, then on me also has inspiration descended as upon him; and if Muhammad speak falsely, then verily I but spake as he did.'"

It is clear from this story as given by Baidawi that Muhammad was so pleased with the beauty of the expression used by his disciple that he immediately decided to give it a place in his Qur'an, where it still stands and, in order to do so, claimed that the very identical words had "descended" upon him also. 'Abdu'llah was naturally delighted with the compliment paid to his words, and henceforth boasted that on him also inspiration had descended. This, however, called forth the indignation of the Prophet, who proceeded to pour out the vials of his wrath upon 'Abdu'llah in the following words - which good Muslims are also expected to believe were "revealed":-

1 Tafsiru'l-Baidawi (ed. Cairo), p.184.

2 Suratu-l-Muminun (xxiii. 12).

3 Ibid, verse 14.

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"Who is more wicked than he who forgeth a lie concerning God, or saith 'this was revealed unto me,' when nothing hath been revealed to him." From this story, which is also told by Imam Husain, it is self-evident that the style of the Qur'an can no longer be regarded as a miracle, for here we have a verse uttered by one 'Abdu'llah Ibn Sa'ud, which is fitted to take rank with the rest of the Qur'an, and, indeed, can in no way be distinguished from it. Moreover, it is clear that if Muhammad could thus claim as a revelation, and insert in the Qur'an, words which were uttered in his hearing by one of his followers, it would be equally easy for him to claim the same authority for the stories which he heard at various times from Jews and Christians.

The celebrated Muslim writer Jalalu'd-din as-Syuti has left us conclusive evidence that Muhammad was in the habit of incorporating into the Qur'an such words and sentences of his followers as attracted his attention and secured his approval. Thus in his famous Itqan we read that:-

"In the tenth part (of this work) are recorded those verses of the Qur'an which descended upon the tongue of certain of the companions of Muhammad."

In another tradition preserved by Tirmidhi from Ibn 'Umar we read:-

1 Suiratu'l-An'am (vi. 93).

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"The Prophet of God (on whom be blessing and peace) said, 'Verily God placed the truth upon the tongue and heart of 'Umar.'" So noticeable was Muhammad's repetition of 'Umar's words that Jalalu'd-din tells us the companions of the prophet said:-

"Has not the Qur'an been revealed according to the sayings of 'Umar." Mujahid records another tradition to the same effect. He says

"The Qur'an descended according to the opinion of 'Umar." From these traditions it is perfectly clear that 'Umar was the real author of certain portions of the Qur'an. Muslim literature, in fact, furnishes us with not a few examples of such passages.1 For example, in the Qur'an we read:-


"Whoever is an enemy to Gabriel ... or Michael, verily God is an enemy to the unbelievers." These words were originally spoken by 'Umar to some Jews, and so pleased with them was Muhammad that he forthwith repeated them as a part of the Qur'an. The whole story is told by Baidawi thus:-

1 See further in "Hidayatu'l-Muslimin," pp. 224-6.

2 Suratu-l-Baqarah (ii. 91-2)

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"It is said that 'Umar once entered a school of the Jews, and asked them about Gabriel. They replied, 'He is our enemy; he reveals our secrets to Muhammad; he is also the messenger of wrath and punishment. Michael, on the contrary, brings us prosperity and plenty.' Then 'Umar said, 'What is their position with regard to God?' and the Jews replied,' Gabriel on His right, and Michael on His left, but between these two there is enmity.' But he said, 'God forbid what it should be as you say; they are not enemies, but you are more unbelieving than the Himyarites. Whosoever is the enemy of either angel, he is the enemy of God.' Then 'Umar went away and found that Gabriel had preceded him with a revelation; and Muhammad said to him, 'Thy Lord hath already agreed with thee, O 'Umar.'"

Another authentic tradition handed down to us by Bukhari reveals the origin of three other passages of the Qur'an, and proves conclusively that Muhammad largely added to his work from the sayings of those around him. These traditions, rationally interpreted, absolutely refute the claim that the whole Qur'an was revealed from heaven, and, on the contrary, support the assertion made at the beginning of this book that it is the product of Muhammad's own genius. The Tradition of Bukhari referred to above runs thus:-

1 Tafsiru'l-Baidawi (ed Cairo), p. 20.

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"It is recorded by Bukhari and others that 'Umar ibn Khattab said, 'In three things I agreed with my God (that is, with the Qur'an). (The first is that) I said, 'O Prophet of God, if we were to say our prayers in Abraham's place, (it would be better).' Then a revelation came down, 'Take the place of Abraham for the place of prayer.' (The second is that) I said, 'O Prophet of God, good and had people come to your house; if you shut up your women it will be better.' Then came down the verse of the veil upon the Prophet. (The third is that) the wives of the Prophet were quarreling, and I said to them, 'It may be that the Lord will divorce you and give the prophet better wives than you in exchange.' Then came down a revelation like I had spoken.'" As a matter of fact the three verses referred to by 'Umar may still be found in the Qur'an today in the Suratu'l-Baqarah (ii) and the Suratu't-Tahrim (lxvi).

Many more passages of the Qur'an could be quote which Muhammad borrowed from the lips of his friends; the limits of this little book force us to desist.1 The reader who desires to pursue the subject further may consult Dr. Imadu'd-Din's famous Hidayatu'l-Muslimin where the matter is dealt with at length. Enough has been written, however, to show how mistaken is the belief that the Qur'an was revealed from heaven by the agency of the angel Gabriel. At the beginning of his career, and when the great truth of

1 The curious may find them in Jalalu'd-din as-Suyti's "Itqan" i. 43. et seq.

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the Unity of God laid hold of his soul, Muhammad may have been deluded into the belief that he was inspired; but later on in his career there can be no doubt - the Qur'an itself being witness - that he deliberately forged a number of passages to suit his own purposes.

The great mass of the Qur'anic revelations, however, as we have seen, simply consists of various elements derived from existing materials, which were adopted by Muhammad and cast into the forms which they now assume in the Qur'an. The Prophet himself never tired of reiterating the statement that the Qur'an was sent down


"Confirming the scriptures which were before it." Those Scriptures of the Jews and Christians were admitted by Muhammad himself to be


"Complete as to whatever is excellent, and an explanation very question, and a direction and a mercy." That being so, what need, we ask, for a subsequent revelation? Any careful study of the Bible will convince the unprejudiced reader that the Christian dispensation is to last until the second coming of Christ to judgment; that the Gospel is to be preached to all the nations, and that the kingdom of Christ is a Kingdom which shall have no end. In the Gospel the work of redemption is completed, and it is left to the Christian Church to make known to a sinful world the glad story of salvation through the blood of

1 Suratu'l-Ma'idah (v. 52). On the guardianship of the Qur'an over the Bible, see Sell's "Historical Development of the Qur'an" (ed. 1905), pp. 106-7.

2 Su'ratu'l-An'am (vi. 155).

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Christ. There is thus left neither room nor necessity for a subsequent revelation; Christ is "the first and the last"1 and "neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved."2

Let the Muhammadan reader earnestly consider these facts, and he will come to see how impossible it is that the Qur'an can be a revelation from God. In that book he is commanded to believe the Gospel; yet a belief in the Gospel must necessarily lead to the rejection of the Qur'an for the latter denies many of the leading truths of the former. In short "Muhammadans are in the awkward predicament of being obliged by their religion to believe in what explodes their religion. They are commanded to believe in two contradictions. They are commanded to accept Jesus as a Prophet and, at the same time, to accept Muhammad. They are enjoined to receive the Old Testament Scriptures as a revelation, although nothing is more obvious in those Scriptures than that the history of Judaism develops into and finds its completion and end in Christianity; and they are enjoined to believe in the New Testament Scriptures, although these writings so distinctly claim to be the final revelation, that it is impossible to find room for the claims of Muhammad as the ultimate revealer of God's will.3 Let the reader search those "former Scriptures" of which Muhammad spoke so highly, and he will find in them the way to eternal life.

1 Injil, Revelation (i. 17).

2 Injil, Acts (iv. 12).

3 Dods, "Muhammad, Buddha aud Christ", pp. 15, 16.

The Origins of the Qur'an [Table of Contents]

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