The Quran cites Muhammad’s contemporaries as accusing Muhammad of passing off the fairytales circulating at that time as revelations from God:
And some of them there are that listen to thee, and We lay veils upon their hearts lest they understand it, and in their ears heaviness; and if they see any sign whatever, they do not believe in it, so that when they come to thee they dispute with thee, the unbelievers saying, ‘This is naught but the fairy-tales of the ancient ones.’ S. 6:25
And When Our signs were being recited to them, they said, ‘We have already heard; if we wished, we could say the like of this; this is naught but the fairy-tales of the ancients.’ S. 8:31
And when it is said to them, ‘What has your Lord sent down?’ they say, ‘Fairy-tales of the ancients.’ S. 16:24
They said, ‘What, when we are dead and become dust and bones, shall we be indeed raised up? We and our fathers have been promised this before; this is naught but the fairy-tales of the ancients.’ S. 23:82-83
But he who says to his father and his mother, ‘Fie upon you! Do you promise me that I shall be brought forth, when already generations have passed away before me?’ while they call upon God for succour — ‘Woe upon thee! Believe; surely God’s promise is true’; then he says, ‘This is naught but the fairy-tales of the ancients‘ — such men are they against whom has been realized the Word concerning nations that passed away before them, men and jinn alike; they were losers. S. 46:17-18
Muhammad responds by insisting that these fables were sent down to him from the one who knows all the secrets in the heavens and earth:
The unbelievers say, ‘This is naught but a calumny he has forged, and other folk have helped him to it.’ So they have committed wrong and falsehood. They say, ‘Fairy-tales of the ancients that he has had written down, so that they are recited to him at the dawn and in the evening.’ Say: ‘He sent it down, who knows the secret in the heavens and earth; He is All-forgiving, All-compassionate.’ S. 25:4-6
In this post I will cite some of the Christian folklores which the Quran adopted and modified as actual historical events in the lives of Jesus and his blessed mother. I do so to show that the unbelievers were right about Muhammad plagiarizing myths and tales, which he passed off as revelations from an omniscient God.
This comparison will also refute the Muslim accusation that Christians rejected these folklores because they conflicted with the beliefs and theology of the Church. As the readers shall see, these legends actually contradict Muhammad and agree with the core Christian doctrines such as the Trinity and the essential Deity of Christ, his coming into the world to save sinners etc., which explains why Muhammad had to modify their theological content. Rather, these tales were rejected because they were not written by eyewitnesses of the risen Jesus, but by forgers who composed these forgeries centuries after the time of Christ and his inspired witnesses.
|Christian Apocrypha||The Quran|
|4. And, behold, an angel of the Lord stood by, saying: Anna, Anna, the Lord has heard your prayer, and you shall conceive, and shall bring forth; and your seed shall be spoken of in all the world. And Anna said: As the Lord my God lives, if I beget either male or female, I will bring it as a gift to the Lord my God; and it shall minister to Him in holy things all the days of its life. 1 Samuel 1:11 And, behold, two angels came, saying to her: Behold, Joachim your husband is coming with his flocks. For an angel of the Lord went down to him, saying: Joachim, Joachim, the Lord God has heard your prayer. Go down hence; for, behold, your wife Anna shall conceive. And Joachim went down and called his shepherds, saying: Bring me hither ten she-lambs without spot or blemish, and they shall be for the Lord my God; and bring me twelve tender calves, and they shall be for the priests and the elders; and a hundred goats for all the people. And, behold, Joachim came with his flocks; and Anna stood by the gate, and saw Joachim coming, and she ran and hung upon his neck, saying: Now I know that the Lord God has blessed me exceedingly; for, behold the widow no longer a widow, and I the childless shall conceive. And Joachim rested the first day in his house. 5. And on the following day he brought his offerings, saying in himself: If the Lord God has been rendered gracious to me, the plate on the priest’s forehead will make it manifest to me. And Joachim brought his offerings, and observed attentively the priest’s plate when he went up to the altar of the Lord, and he saw no sin in himself. And Joachim said: Now I know that the Lord has been gracious unto me, and has remitted all my sins. And he went down from the temple of the Lord justified, and departed to his own house. And her months were fulfilled, and in the ninth month Anna brought forth. And she said to the midwife: What have I brought forth? And she said: A girl. And said Anna: My soul has been magnified this day. And she laid her down. And the days having been fulfilled, Anna was purified, and gave the breast to the child, and called her name Mary… 8. And her parents went down marvelling, and praising the Lord God, because the child had not turned back. And Mary was in the temple of the Lord as if she were a dove that dwelt there, and she received food from the hand of an angel. And when she was twelve years old there was held a council of the priests, saying: Behold, Mary has reached the age of twelve years in the temple of the Lord. What then shall we do with her, lest perchance she defile the sanctuary of the Lord? And they said to the high priest: You stand by the altar of the Lord; go in, and pray concerning her; and whatever the Lord shall manifest unto you, that also will we do. And the high priest went in, taking the robe with the twelve bells into the holy of holies; and he prayed concerning her. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by him, saying unto him: Zacharias, Zacharias, go out and assemble the widowers of the people, and let them bring each his rod; and to whomsoever the Lord shall show a sign, his wife shall she be. And the heralds went out through all the circuit of Judæa, and the trumpet of the Lord sounded, and all ran. 9. And Joseph, throwing away his axe, went out to meet them; and when they had assembled, they went away to the high priest, taking with them their rods. And he, taking the rods of all of them, entered into the temple, and prayed; and having ended his prayer, he took the rods and came out, and gave them to them: but there was no sign in them, and Joseph took his rod last; and, behold, a dove came out of the rod, and flew upon Joseph’s head. And the priest said to Joseph, You have been chosen by lot to take into your keeping the virgin of the Lord. But Joseph refused, saying: I have children, and I am an old man, and she is a young girl. I am afraid lest I become a laughing-stock to the sons of Israel. And the priest said to Joseph: Fear the Lord your God, and remember what the Lord did to Dathan, and Abiram, and Korah; Numbers 16:31-33 how the earth opened, and they were swallowed up on account of their contradiction. And now fear, O Joseph, lest the same things happen in your house. And Joseph was afraid, and took her into his keeping. And Joseph said to Mary: Behold, I have received you from the temple of the Lord; and now I leave you in my house, and go away to build my buildings, and I shall come to you. The Lord will protect you. (Protoevangelium of James (c. 150); bold emphasis mine) Chapter 7. But the virgin of the Lord advanced in age and in virtues; and though, in the words of the Psalmist, her father and mother had forsaken her, the Lord took her up. For daily was she visited by angels, daily did she enjoy a divine vision, which preserved her from all evil, and made her to abound in all good. And so she reached her fourteenth year; and not only were the wicked unable to charge her with anything worthy of reproach, but all the good, who knew her life and conversation, judged her to be worthy of admiration. Then the high priest publicly announced that the virgins who were publicly settled in the temple, and had reached this time of life, should return home and get married, according to the custom of the nation and the ripeness of their years. The others readily obeyed this command; but Mary alone, the virgin of the Lord, answered that she could not do this, saying both that her parents had devoted her to the service of the Lord, and that, moreover, she herself had made to the Lord a vow of virginity, which she would never violate by any intercourse with man. And the high priest, being placed in great perplexity of mind, seeing that neither did he think that the vow should be broken contrary to the Scripture, which says, Vow and pay, nor did he dare to introduce a custom unknown to the nation, gave order that at the festival, which was at hand, all the chief persons from Jerusalem and the neighbourhood should be present, in order that from their advice he might know what was to be done in so doubtful a case. And when this took place, they resolved unanimously that the Lord should be consulted upon this matter. And when they all bowed themselves in prayer, the high priest went to consult God in the usual way. Nor had they long to wait: in the hearing of all a voice issued from the oracle and from the mercy-seat, that, according to the prophecy of Isaiah, a man should be sought out to whom the virgin ought to be entrusted and espoused. For it is clear that Isaiah says: A rod shall come forth from the root of Jesse, and a flower shall ascend from his root; and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of wisdom and piety; and he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord. Isaiah 11:1-2 According to this prophecy, therefore, he predicted that all of the house and family of David that were unmarried and fit for marriage should bring there rods to the altar; and that he whose rod after it was brought should produce a flower, and upon the end of whose rod the Spirit of the Lord should settle in the form of a dove, was the man to whom the virgin ought to be entrusted and espoused. Chapter 8. Now there was among the rest Joseph, of the house and family of David, a man of great age: and when all brought there rods, according to the order, he alone withheld his. Wherefore, when nothing in conformity with the divine voice appeared, the high priest thought it necessary to consult God a second time; and He answered, that of those who had been designated, he alone to whom the virgin ought to be espoused had not brought his rod. Joseph, therefore, was found out. For when he had brought his rod, and the dove came from heaven; and settled upon the top of it, it clearly appeared to all that he was the man to whom the virgin should be espoused. Therefore, the usual ceremonies of betrothal having been gone through, he went back to the city of Bethlehem to put his house in order, and to procure things necessary for the marriage. But Mary, the virgin of the Lord, with seven other virgins of her own age, and who had been weaned at the same time, whom she had received from the priest, returned to the house of her parents in Galilee. (Gospel of the Nativity of Mary (unknown date; late); bold emphasis mine) 1. I Thomas, an Israelite, write you this account, that all the brethren from among the heathen may know the miracles of our Lord Jesus Christ in His infancy, which He did after His birth in our country. The beginning of it is as follows:— 2. This child Jesus, when five years old, was playing in the ford of a mountain stream; and He collected the flowing waters into pools, and made them clear immediately, and by a word alone He made them obey Him. And having made some soft clay, He fashioned out of it twelve sparrows. And it was the Sabbath when He did these things. And there were also many other children playing with Him. And a certain Jew, seeing what Jesus was doing, playing on the Sabbath, went off immediately, and said to his father Joseph: Behold, your son is at the stream, and has taken clay, and made of it twelve birds, and has profaned the Sabbath. And Joseph, coming to the place and seeing, cried out to Him, saying: Why do you do on the Sabbath what it is not lawful to do? And Jesus clapped His hands, and cried out to the sparrows, and said to them: Off you go! And the sparrows flew, and went off crying. And the Jews seeing this were amazed, and went away and reported to their chief men what they had seen Jesus doing… 17. And after this the infant of one of Joseph’s neighbours fell sick and died, and its mother wept sore. And Jesus heard that there was great lamentation and commotion, and ran in haste, and found the child dead, and touched his breast, and said: I say to you, child, be not dead, but live, and be with your mother. And directly it looked up and laughed. And He said to the woman: Take it, and give it milk, and remember me. And seeing this, the crowd that was standing by wondered, and said: Truly this child was either God or an angel of God, for every word of his is a certain fact. And Jesus went out thence, playing with the other children. (Gospel of Thomas (c. 200) [GNOSTIC]; bold emphasis mine) In the name of God, of one essence and three persons. The History of the death of our father, the holy old man, Joseph the carpenter. May his blessings and prayers preserve us all, O brethren! Amen… 3. Now when righteous Joseph became a widower, my mother Mary, blessed, holy, and pure, was already twelve years old. For her parents offered her in the temple when she was three years of age, and she remained in the temple of the Lord nine years. Then when the priests saw that the virgin, holy and God-fearing, was growing up, they spoke to each other, saying: Let us search out a man, righteous and pious, to whom Mary may be entrusted until the time of her marriage; lest, if she remain in the temple, it happen to her as is wont to happen to women, and lest on that account we sin, and God be angry with us. 4. Therefore they immediately sent out, and assembled twelve old men of the tribe of Judah. And they wrote down the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. And the lot fell upon the pious old man, righteous Joseph. Then the priests answered, and said to my blessed mother: Go with Joseph, and be with him till the time of your marriage. Righteous Joseph therefore received my mother, and led her away to his own house. And Mary found James the Less in his father’s house, broken-hearted and sad on account of the loss of his mother, and she brought him up. Hence Mary was called the mother of James. Luke 24:10 Thereafter Joseph left her at home, and went away to the shop where he wrought at his trade of a carpenter. And after the holy virgin had spent two years in his house her age was exactly fourteen years, including the time at which he received her. 5. And I chose her of my own will, with the concurrence of my Father, and the counsel of the Holy Spirit. And I was made flesh of her, by a mystery which transcends the grasp of created reason. And three months after her conception the righteous man Joseph returned from the place where he worked at his trade; and when he found my virgin mother pregnant, he was greatly perplexed, and thought of sending her away secretly. Matthew 1:19 But from fear, and sorrow, and the anguish of his heart, he could endure neither to eat nor drink that day. (History of Joseph the Carpenter (c. 400); bold emphasis mine) In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God. With the help and favour of the Most High we begin to write a book of the miracles of our Lord and Master and Saviour Jesus Christ, which is called the Gospel of the Infancy: in the peace of the Lord. Amen. 1. We find what follows in the book of Joseph the high priest, who lived in the time of Christ. Some say that he is Caiaphas. He has said that Jesus spoke, and, indeed, when He was lying in His cradle said to Mary His mother: I am Jesus, the Son of God, the Logos, whom you have brought forth, as the Angel Gabriel announced to you; and my Father has sent me for the salvation of the world… 40. On another day the Lord Jesus went out into the road, and saw the boys that had come together to play, and followed them; but the boys hid themselves from Him. The Lord Jesus, therefore, having come to the door of a certain house, and seen some women standing there, asked them where the boys had gone; and when they answered that there was no one there, He said again: Who are these whom you see in the furnace? They replied that they were kids of three years old. And the Lord Jesus cried out, and said: Come out hither, O kids, to your Shepherd. Then the boys, in the form of kids, came out, and began to dance round Him; and the women, seeing this, were very much astonished, and were seized with trembling, and speedily supplicated and adored the Lord Jesus, saying: O our Lord Jesus, son of Mary, You are of a truth that good Shepherd of Israel; have mercy on Your handmaidens who stand before You, and who have never doubted: for You have come, O our Lord, to heal, and not to destroy. And when the Lord Jesus answered that the sons of Israel were like the Ethiopians among the nations, the women said: You, O Lord, know all things, nor is anything hid from You; now, indeed, we beseech You, and ask You of Your affection to restore these boys Your servants to their former condition. The Lord Jesus therefore said: Come, boys, let us go and play. And immediately, while these women were standing by, the kids were changed into boys. (Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Saviour (c. 600); bold emphasis mine) Chapter 20. And it came to pass on the third day of their journey, while they were walking, that the blessed Mary was fatigued by the excessive heat of the sun in the desert; and seeing a palm tree, she said to Joseph: Let me rest a little under the shade of this tree. Joseph therefore made haste, and led her to the palm, and made her come down from her beast. And as the blessed Mary was sitting there, she looked up to the foliage of the palm, and saw it full of fruit, and said to Joseph: I wish it were possible to get some of the fruit of this palm. And Joseph said to her: I wonder that you say this, when you see how high the palm tree is; and that you think of eating of its fruit. I am thinking more of the want of water, because the skins are now empty, and we have none wherewith to refresh ourselves and our cattle. Then the child Jesus, with a joyful countenance, reposing in the bosom of His mother, said to the palm: O tree, bend your branches, and refresh my mother with your fruit. And immediately at these words the palm bent its top down to the very feet of the blessed Mary; and they gathered from it fruit, with which they were all refreshed. And after they had gathered all its fruit, it remained bent down, waiting the order to rise from Him who had commanded it to stoop. Then Jesus said to it: Raise yourself, O palm tree, and be strong, and be the companion of my trees, which are in the paradise of my Father; and open from your roots a vein of water which has been hid in the earth, and let the waters flow, so that we may be satisfied from you. And it rose up immediately, and at its root there began to come forth a spring of water exceedingly clear and cool and sparkling. And when they saw the spring of water, they rejoiced with great joy, and were satisfied, themselves and all their cattle and their beasts. Wherefore they gave thanks to God. Chapter 21. And on the day after, when they were setting out thence, and in the hour in which they began their journey, Jesus turned to the palm, and said: This privilege I give you, O palm tree, that one of your branches be carried away by my angels, and planted in the paradise of my Father. And this blessing I will confer upon you, that it shall be said of all who conquer in any contest, You have attained the palm of victory. And while He was thus speaking, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared, and stood upon the palm tree; and taking off one of its branches, flew to heaven with the branch in his hand. And when they saw this, they fell on their faces, and became as it were dead. And Jesus said to them: Why are your hearts possessed with fear? Do you not know that this palm, which I have caused to be transferred to paradise, shall be prepared for all the saints in the place of delights, as it has been prepared for us in this place of the wilderness? And they were filled with joy; and being strengthened, they all rose up… Chapter 27. And it came to pass, after these things, that in the sight of all Jesus took clay from the pools which He had made, and of it made twelve sparrows. And it was the Sabbath when Jesus did this, and there were very many children with Him. When, therefore, one of the Jews had seen Him doing this, he said to Joseph: Joseph, do you not see the child Jesus working on the Sabbath at what it is not lawful for him to do? For he has made twelve sparrows of clay. And when Joseph heard this, he reproved him, saying: Why do you do on the Sabbath such things as are not lawful for us to do? And when Jesus heard Joseph, He struck His hands together, and said to His sparrows: Fly! And at the voice of His command they began to fly. And in the sight and hearing of all that stood by, He said to the birds: Go and fly through the earth, and through all the world, and live. And when those that were there saw such miracles, they were filled with great astonishment. And some praised and admired Him, but others reviled Him. And certain of them went away to the chief priests and the heads of the Pharisees, and reported to them that Jesus the son of Joseph had done great signs and miracles in the sight of all the people of Israel. And this was reported in the twelve tribes of Israel. (Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew (c. 400); bold emphasis mine)||When the wife of Imran said, ‘Lord, I have vowed to Thee, in dedication, what is within my womb. Receive Thou this from me; Thou hearest, and knowest.’ And when she gave birth to her she said, ‘Lord, I have given birth to her, a female.’ (And God knew very well what she had given birth to; the male is not as the female.) ‘And I have named her Mary, and commend her to Thee with her seed, to protect them from the accursed Satan.’ Her Lord received the child with gracious favour, and by His goodness she grew up comely, Zachariah taking charge of her. Whenever Zachariah went in to her in the Sanctuary, he found her provisioned. ‘Mary,’ he said, ‘how comes this to thee?’ ‘From God,’ she said. Truly God provisions whomsoever He will without reckoning… And when the angels said, ‘Mary, God has chosen thee, and purified thee; He has chosen thee above all women. Mary; be obedient to thy Lord, prostrating and bowing before Him.’ (That is of the tidings of the Unseen, that We reveal to thee; for thou wast not with them, when they were casting quills which of them should have charge of Mary; thou wast not with them, when they were disputing.) When the angels said, ‘Mary, God gives thee good tidings of a Word from Him whose name is Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary; high honoured shall he be in this world and the next, near stationed to God. He shall speak to men in the cradle, and of age, and righteous he shall be. ‘Lord,’ said Mary, ‘how shall I have a son seeing no mortal has touched me?’ ‘Even so,’ God said, ‘God creates what He will. When He decrees a thing He does but say to it “Be,” and it is. And He will teach him the Book, the Wisdom, the Torah, the Gospel, to be a Messenger to the Children of Israel saying, “I have come to you with a sign from your Lord. I will create for you out of clay as the likeness of a bird; then I will breathe into it, and it will be a bird, by the leave of God. I will also heal the blind and the leper, and bring to life the dead, by the leave of God. I will inform you too of what things you eat, and what you treasure up in your houses. Surely in that is a sign for you, if you are believers. S. 3:35-37, 42-49 When God said, ‘Jesus Son of Mary, remember My blessing upon thee and upon thy mother, when I confirmed thee with the Holy Spirit, to speak to men in the cradle, and of age; and when I taught thee the Book, the Wisdom, the Torah, the Gospel; and when thou createst out of clay, by My leave, as the likeness of a bird, and thou breathest into it, and it is a bird, by My leave; and thou healest the blind and the leper by My leave, and thou bringest the dead forth by My leave; and when restrained from thee the Children of Israel when thou camest unto them with the clear signs, and the unbelievers among them said, “This is nothing but sorcery manifest.” S. 5:110 And mention in the Book Mary when she withdrew from her people to an eastern place, and she took a veil apart from them; then We sent unto her Our Spirit that presented himself to her a man without fault… So she conceived him, and withdrew with him to a distant place. And the birthpangs surprised her by the trunk of the palm-tree. She said, ‘Would I had died ere this, and become a thing forgotten!’ But the one that was below her called to her, ‘Nay, do not sorrow; see, thy Lord has set below thee a rivulet. Shake also to thee the palm-trunk, and there shall come tumbling upon thee dates fresh and ripe. Eat therefore, and drink, and be comforted; and if thou shouldst see any mortal, say, “I have vowed to the All-merciful a fast, and today I will not speak to any man.”’ Then she brought the child to her folk carrying him; and they said, ‘Mary, thou hast surely committed a monstrous thing! Sister of Aaron, thy father was not a wicked man, nor was thy mother a woman unchaste.’ Mary pointed to the child then; but they said, ‘How shall we speak to one who is still in the cradle, a little child?’ He said, ‘Lo, I am God’s servant; God has given me the Book, and made me a Prophet. Blessed He has made me, wherever I may be; and He has enjoined me to pray, and to give the alms, so long as I live, and likewise to cherish my mother; He has not made me arrogant, unprosperous. Peace be upon me, the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I am raised up alive!’ That is Jesus, son of Mary, in word of truth, concerning which they are doubting. S. 19:16-17, 22-34|
MUHAMMAD’S CHRISTIAN INFORMANTS
The Muslim sources even give us the names of the Christians whom Muhammad listened to and learned from:
- In this connection, traditions mention the names of several persons, one of whom is Jabar. According to the disbelievers of Makkah he taught the Prophet. However, one thing particularly noteworthy about all these persons is that they were non Arab slaves. Whosoever he might be, the fact that he used to recite the Torah and the Gospel and had an acquaintance with the Prophet. This gave an opportunity to the disbelievers for spreading this false report that it was the particular slave who was the real author of the Holy Quran, but Muhammad presented it as the Word of God. This not only shows that his opponents were very impudent in spreading false accusations against the Prophet but also that, in general, people are not just in judging the worth of their contemporaries. They were ill treating like this that great personality who has had no parallel in history. Nevertheless, these people who had become blind in their opposition, preferred to attribute the authorship of the matchless Arabic Quran to a non Arab slave who had a smattering of the Torah and the Gospel. Instead of accepting the claim of the Prophet, who was an embodiment of truth, they attributed its authorship to an insignificant foreign slave. (Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, Tafhim al-Qur’an: The Meaning of the Qur’an; bold emphasis mine)
Allah tells us about the idolators’ lies, allegations, and slander when they claimed that this Qur’an which Muhammad had recited for them, was actually taught to him by a human. They referred to a foreign (i.e., non-Arab) man who lived among them as the servant of some of the clans of Quraysh and who used to sell goods by As-Safa. Maybe the Messenger of Allah used to sit with him sometimes and talk to him a little, but he was a foreigner who did not know much Arabic, only enough simple phrases to answer questions when he had to… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, http://www.alim.org/library/quran/AlQuran-tafsir/TIK/16/103; bold emphasis mine
And verily wa-laqad is for confirmation We know that they say ‘It is only a human that is teaching him the Qur’ān’ — this was a Christian blacksmith whom the Prophet USED TO FREQUENT. God exalted be He says The tongue the language of him to whom they refer to whom they incline with the accusation that he is the one teaching him is foreign’; while this Qur’ān is in a clear Arabic tongue one of lucidity and clarity so how can a foreigner be teaching him? (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; bold and capital emphasis mine)
(And We know well) O Muhammad (that they) i.e. the disbelievers of Mecca (say: Only a man) Jabr and Yasar (teacheth him) the Qur’an. (The speech of him at whom they falsely hint) incline and ascribe this to (is outlandish) Hebraic, (and this is clear Arabic speech) He says: the Qur’an is in the usage of the Arabic language. (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs; bold emphasis mine)
(And We know well that they say: Only a man teacheth him. The speech of him at whom they falsely hint is outlandish…) [16:103]. Abu Nasr Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Muzakki> Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Hamdan al-Zahid> ‘Abd Allah ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz> Abu Hisham al-Rifa‘i> Ibn Fudayl> Husayn> ‘Abd Allah ibn Muslim who said: “We owned two Christian youths from the people of ‘Ayn Tamr, one called Yasar and the other Jabr. Their trade was making swords but they also could read the Scriptures in their own tongue. The Messenger of Allah used to pass by them AND LISTEN TO THEIR READING. As a result, the idolaters used to say: ‘He is being taught by them!’ To give them the lie, Allah, exalted is He, revealed (The speech of him at whom they falsely hint is outlandish, and this is clear Arabic speech)”. (‘Alī ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi, Asbab al-Nuzul; bold and capital emphasis mine)
He went on: “The Messenger of God used often to sit at al-Marwa near the shop of a young Christian named Jabr, a slave of the Banu al-Hadrami. People would say, ‘By God, it is merely Jabr who teaches Muhammad most of what he says!’” (Ibn Kathir, The Life of the Prophet Muhammad (Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya), translated by Professor Trevor Le Gassick, reviewed by Dr. Ahmed Fareed [Garnet Publishing Limited, 8 Southern Court, south Street Reading RG1 4QS, UK; The Center for Muslim Contribution to Civilization: First paperback edition, 2000], Volume II, p. 55)
Ibn Kathir further confirms that five years before Muhammad claimed to be a prophet there was a carpenter in Mecca who was a Coptic Christian:
Muhammad b. Ishaq b. Yasar said, “When the Messenger of God reached 35 the Quraysh reached an agreement to rebuild the ka‘ba. They did so because they were concerned about reroofing it, being afraid its roof would collapse since it was made only of stones set above its frame. They also wanted to make it taller as well as reroof it…
Ibn Ishaq said, “In Mecca there was a Copt who was a carpenter and so they had available to them some of what was needed to repair it.
“There was a serpent that would emerge from the ka‘ba’s well into which they would drop every day the sacrificial offerings. It would emerge and sun itself on the ka‘ba‘s wall. They were all afraid of it, because whenever anyone approached it, it would raise its head, move its coils audibly and open its mouth. One day as it lay on the ka‘ba‘s wall as was its habit, God sent down a bird which snatched it up and flew away with it.
At that the Quraysh said, ‘Now we can hope that God is pleased at our plan. We have a local carpenter, and wood, and God has taken care of the serpent.’” (Ibn Kathir, The Life of the Prophet Muhammad (Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya), Volume I, pp. 199-200)
Later in life while in Medina, Muhammad was gifted a Coptic sex slave whom he would often have intercourse with:
(O Prophet! Lo! We have made lawful unto thee thy wives unto whom thou hast paid their dowries, and those whom thy right hand possesseth) Maria the Copt (of those whom Allah hath given thee as spoils of war, and the daughters of thine uncles on the father’s side) and it is lawful for you to marry the daughters of your paternal uncle (and the daughters of thine aunts on the father’s side) from the Banu ‘Abd al-Muttalib, (and the daughters of thine uncles on the mother’s side) from the Banu ‘Abd Manaf Ibn Zahrah (who emigrated with thee) from Mecca to Medina, (and a believing woman) who believes in Allah’s divine Oneness: i.e. Umm Sharik Bint Jabir al-‘Amiriyyah (if she give herself unto the Prophet and the Prophet desire to ask her in marriage, a privilege for thee only) and a dispensation for you only, (not for the (rest of) believers. We are aware of that which We enjoined upon them) what We have made lawful for and enjoined upon the believers (concerning their wives) concerning marrying up to four wives after giving them their dowry and making a proper marriage contract (and those whom their right hands possess) without limit (that thou mayst be free from blame) regarding marrying that which Allah has made lawful for you to marry, (for Allah is Forgiving) of that which has ensued from you, (Merciful) regarding that which He made a dispensation for you. (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs, Q. 33:50 https://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=73&tSoraNo=33&tAyahNo=50&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=2; bold emphasis mine)
This next one is rather interesting:
There was a Christian who embraced Islam and read Surat-al-Baqara and Al-Imran, and he used to write (the revelations) for the Prophet. Later on he returned to Christianity again and he used to say: “Muhammad knows nothing but what I have written for him.” Then Allah caused him to die, and the people buried him, but in the morning they saw that the earth had thrown his body out. They said, “This is the act of Muhammad and his companions. They dug the grave of our companion and took his body out of it because he had run away from them.” They again dug the grave deeply for him, but in the morning they again saw that the earth had thrown his body out. They said, “This is an act of Muhammad and his companions. They dug the grave of our companion and threw his body outside it, for he had run away from them.” They dug the grave for him as deep as they could, but in the morning they again saw that the earth had thrown his body out. So they believed that what had befallen him was not done by human beings and had to leave him thrown (on the ground). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 814)
Putting aside the obvious legendary embellishments, it is rather evident from the above narration that there was a growing problem of people claiming to have influenced Muhammad in composing the Quran which the Muslims had to address and explain away.
The following lengthy quote is taken from the late Reverend E. M. Wherry’s comprehensive commentary on the Quran:
(105) A certain man teacheth him. The following is Sale’s note on the passage. We give his authorities in a footnote below:-
“This was a great objection made by the Makkans to the authority of the Quran; for when Muhammad insisted, as a proof of its divine original, that it was impossible a man so utterly unacquainted with learning as himself could compose such a book, they replied that he had one or more assistants in the forgery; but as to the particular person or persons suspected of this confederacy, the traditions differ. One says it was Jabr, a Greek servant to Amar Ibn Hadhrami, who could read and write well (1); another, that they were Jabr and Yasar, two slaves who followed the trade of sword-cutlers at Makkah, and used to read the Pentateuch and Gospel, and had often Muhammad for their auditor when he passed that way. (2) Another tells us that it was one Aish or Yaish, a domestic of al Huaitib Ibn Abd al Uzza, who was a man of some learning, and had embraced Muhammadanism. (3) Another supposes it was one Qais, a Christian, whose house Muhammad frequented; (4) another, that it was Addas, a servant of Otha Ibn Rabia, (5) and another, that it was Salman the Persian. (6)
“According to some Christian writers, (7) Abdullah Ibn Salam, the Jew who was so intimate with Muhammad (named by one, according to the Hebrew dialect, Abdias Ben Salon, and by another, Abdala Celen), was assisting him in the compiling his pretended revelations. This Jew Dr. Prideaux confounds with Salman the Persian, who was a very different man, as a late author (8) has observed before me; wherefore, and for that we may have occasion to speak of Salman hereafter, it may be proper to add a brief extract of his story as told by himself. He was of a good family of Ispahan, and in his younger years left the religion of his country to embrace Christianity, and travelling into Syria, was advised by a certain monk of Amuria to go into Arabia, where a prophet was expected to arise about that time, who should establish the religion of Abraham, and whom he should know, among other things, by the seal of prophecy between his shoulders. Salman performed the journey, and meeting with Muhammad at Kuba, where he rested in his flight to Madina, soon found him to be the person he sought, and professed Islam.(9)
“The general opinion of the Christians, however, is that the chief help Muhammad had in the contriving his Quran was from a Nestorian monk named Sergius, supposed to be the same person with the monk Buhaira, with whom Muhammad in his younger years had some conference at Bosra, a city of Syria Damascena, where that monk resided, (10) to confirm which supposition a passage has been produced from an Arab writer, (11) who says that Buhaira’s name in the books of the Christians is Sergius, but this is only a conjecture; and another (12) tells us that his true name was Said or Felix, and his surname Buhaira. But be that as it will, if Buhaira and Sergius were the same man, I find not the least intimation in the Muhammadan writers that he ever quitted his monastery to go into Arabia (as is supposed by the Christians), and his acquaintance with Muhammad at Bosra was too early to favour the surmise of his assisting him in the Quran, which was composed long after, though Muhammad might from his discourse gain some knowledge of Christianity and of the Scriptures, which might be of use to him therein.
“From the answer given in this passage of the Quran to the objection of the infidels viz., that the person suspected by them to have a hand in the Quran spoke a foreign language, and therefore could not, with any face of probability, be supposed to assist in a composition written in the Arabic tongue, and with so great elegance, it is plain this person was no Arabian. The word Ajami, which is here used, signifies any foreign or barbarous language in general, but the Arabs applying it more particularly to the Persian, it has been thence concluded by some that Salman was the person. However, if it be true that he came not to Muhammad till after the Hijra, either he could not be the man here intended, or else this verse must have been revealed at Madina, contrary to the common opinion.”
1 Zamakhshari, Baidhawi, Yahya
2 Zamakhshari, Baidhawi. See Prideaux, Life of Mohammed, p.32.
5 Zamakhshari, Yahya.
6 Zamakhshari, Baidhawi.
7 Ricardi, Confut. Legis Saracenicae, c. 13; Joh. Andreas de Confus, Sectae Mahometanae, c. 2; see Prideaux, Life of Mohammed, pp. 33, 34.
8 Gagnier, note in Abulf., Vit. Moh., p.74.
9 Ex Ibn Ishaq; vide Gagnier, ibid.
10 See Prideaux, ubi sup., p.35, &c.; Gagnier, ubi sup., pp.10, 11; Marrac. de Alcor., p.37.
11 Al Masudi.
12 Abu’l Hasan al Baqri in Quran.
On this subject Muir writes as follows: – “Shortly after Mahomet began to occupy the house of Arcam, several slaves allied themselves to him. Of these, Yasar and Jabr are mentioned by the commentators of the Coran as the parties accused by the Coreish of instructing the Prophet. The latter was the Christian servant of a family from Hadhramaut, and the Prophet is said to have sat much at his cell. The former better know under the name of Abu Fokeiha, was subjected to great persecution, but probably died some time before the Hegira. His daughter Fokeiha was married to Hattab, a convert, whom we find, with others of his family, among the subsequent emigrants to Abyssinia.
“A more important convert, styled by Mahomet ‘the first-fruits of Greece,’ was Suheib, son of Sinan. His home was at Mousal or some neighbouring Mesopotamian village. His father, or his uncle, had been the Persian governor of Obolla. A Grecian hand made an incursion into Mesopotamia, and carried him off, while yet a boy, to Syria, perhaps to Constantinople. Bought afterwards by a party of the Bani Kaib, he was sold at Mecca to Abdalla lbn Jodaan, who gave him freedom and took him under his protection. A fair and very ruddy complexion marked his Northern birth, and broken Arabic betrayed a Grecian education. By traffic he acquired considerable wealth at Mecca; but having embraced Islam, and being left by the death of Abdalla without a patron, he suffered much at the hands of the unbelieving Coreish. It is probable that Mahomet gained some knowledge of Christianity from him, and he may be the same to whom the Meccans at a later period referred as the source of his Scriptural information: ‘And indeed we know that they say, VERILY A CERTAIN MAN TEACHETH HIM,’ &c. . . . Another freed slave, Ammar, used to resort to the house of Arcam, and simultaneously with Suheib embraced Islam.”- Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. pp. 122-125.
Whatever doubt may remain as to the identity of the person alluded to here, of one thing we are certainly informed – that Muhammad had the means of receiving help from both Jews and Christians some years before he fled to Madina. That he availed himself of this help, the stories related in the later Makkan chapters of the Quran, drawn as they are from the Jewish Scriptures and traditions, suffice to prove beyond all doubt. The passage before us tells us the charge of receiving help from foreigners was made against Muhammad by his neighbours. His reply proves the weakness of his effort to rebut the charge; for as Arnold well says, “admitting they were foreigners they might nevertheless supply him with materials.” This is just what they did do, and it is because Muhammad wrought up these materials to suit his prophetic purposes, and then repeated them as the very word of God received by direct revelation from heaven through the ministration of the Angel Gabriel – it is because of this that we do not hesitate to reiterate the old charge of deliberate imposture.
Mr. Bosworth Smith (Mohamed and Mohammedanism, p. 134) admits that after the Hijra “a change does seem to come over him. The revelations of the Koran are more and more suited to the particular circumstances and caprices of the moment.” But were we to trace this trait of Muhammad’s character back from Madina towards Makkah, he would find it fully manifested long before he left his native city. Circumstances no doubt modified its manifestation, but the trait of character was the same. (Wherry, A Comprehensive Commentary on the Quran [Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, & Co. Ltd., Paternoster House, Charing Cross Road: London, 1886], Volume III (3), pp. 44-47; footnote numbers from Sale adjusted for easier access)
The foregoing shows that Muhammad was in a position of learning these Jewish and Christian fables as they were transmitted to him orally. This explains why these fairytales are all garbled up and confused in the Quran, since he wasn’t getting them from written sources. Muhammad then modified these stories to suit his agenda by making them conform to his theological beliefs.
Little did Muhammad and his spirit realize that these very forgeries would turn out to be his downfall, exposing him as a fraud and charlatan who simply plagiarized the legends circulating in his day. An omniscient deity would have known better than to inspire his prophet to relay mythical tales as historical facts.