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Some Grammatical Mistakes of the Quran

It is common knowledge to native Arabic speaking non-Muslims (and even Muslims!), as well as scholars of Islam, that the Quran contains grammatical errors, which fanatical Muslim fundamentalists have tried to explain away, but to avail.

For instance, according to several so-called authentic Sunni sources, the Quran contains at least four grammatical mistakes:

“Abdullah narrated from Al-Fadhal bin Hamad al-Khayri narrated from Khalid (he meant Ibn Khalid) from Zaid Ibn Hubab narrated from Ash’ath from Saeed bin Jubayr: “There are four mistakes in Quran:

‘ALSSABI-OON’ [5:69], ‘WAALMUQEEMEEN’ [4:162 ], ‘FAASSADDAQA WAAKUN MINA ALSSALIHEEN’ [63:10], ‘IN HATHANI LASAHIRANI’ [20:63].” (Abi Bakr, Kitab Al-Musahif, p. 42; bold emphasis ours)

These same sources claim that both Aisha and Uthman b. Affan admitted that there were grammatical mistakes within the Muslim scripture:

Abu Bakr bin Abdoos and Abu Abdullah bin Hamid narrated from Abu al-Abbas al-Asim from Muhammad bin al-Jahm al-Samri from al-Fara from Abu Mu’awiyah from Hisham bin Arwa from his father that Ayesha was asked about Allah’s statements in Surah Nisa (verse 162) ‘LAKINI ALRRASIKHOONA’ and ‘WAALMUQEEMEENA’ and the Almighty’s statement in Sura Maidah (verse 69) ‘INNA ALLATHEENA AMANOO WAALLATHEENA HADOO WAALSSABI-OON’ and His statement (Taha, 63) ‘IN HATHANI LASAHIRANI’. Ayesha replied: ‘O my nephew, this is due to mistakes committed by the scribe’. (Tafsir al-Thalabi, Volume 6, p. 250; bold emphasis ours)

Abu Ubaid stated in Fadhail Quran that Abu Muawiyah narrated from Hisham bin Urwah from his father that Aisha was asked about the following mistakes in the Quran ‘IN HATHANI LASAHIRANI’ and His statement ‘WAALMUQEEMEENA ALSSALATA WAALMU/TOONA ALZZAKATA’ and His statement ‘INNA ALLATHEENA AMANOO WAALLATHEENA HADOO WAALSSABI-OON’. She replied: “O son of my nephew, this is due to the act of the scribes of the Quran who committed a mistake whilst transcribing them. The chain of this tradition is Sahih according to the conditions of the Shaikhain. (Jalaludin al-Suyuti, Al-Itqan fi Uloom al Quran, Volume 1, p. 210; bold and underline emphasis ours)

“There is no strength with the replies that are advanced against the above cited reply of Aisha, namely that it contains a weak chain. The chain is Sahih.” (Ibid., Volume 1, p. 212; bold emphasis ours)

And:

“There is disagreement over ‘ALMUQEEMEENA ALSSALAT’. Aisha and Aban bin Uthman said that was written in the Quran due to a mistake on the part of the transcriber. Its correction is essential and it should be written as ‘ALMUQEEMOONA ALSSALAT’. Similarly in Surah Maidah ‘AALSSABI-OONA’ and in Surah Taha ‘IN HATHANI LASAHIRANI’ have also been written due to the mistake of scribes. Uthman stated that he had seen some mistakes in the Quran and Arabs would correct them through their language and they had asked him to change them but he said that these mistakes did not change Haram to Halal and vice versa.” (Tafsir al-BaghawiMa’alim at-Tanzil), Q. 4:161, Volume 3, p. 361; bold emphasis ours)

Finally:

“Aban bin Uthman recited the verse [IN HATHANI LASAHIRANI] before his father Uthman. Uthman said: “It is incorrect.” Someone asked him: “Why don’t you correct it?” Uthman replied: “Leave it there, it doesn’t make any difference in respect of what is Halal (lawful/permissible) and Haram (forbidden/prohibited).’” (Tafsir al-Qurtubi, Q. 20:63)

Moreover, there are a few places within the Quran itself where plural verbs, adjectives etc., are incorrectly used in place of either the singular or dual. Case in point:

Their similitude is that of a MAN who kindled a fire; when IT lighted around HIM, God took away THEIR light and left THEM in utter darkness. So THEY could not see. S. 2:17

In order to help the non-Arabic speaking readers appreciate the problems with this text, it must be kept in mind that Arabic, unlike English, has not only singular and plural forms of verbs and adjectives it also has a dual form that is used when it is speaking of two referents. This is unlike the plural which is used when three or more persons or items are in view. Verbs and adjectives also take on masculine and feminine forms as a way of corresponding to or identifying the gender of the subject or object within the sentence.

In the example, the Quran is speaking of individuals who go astray and likens them to a person (singular) that lit a fire (also in the singular). The text says that when it lit all around him (singular) Allah then took away THEIR light (plural, three or more), leaving THEM (plural) in darkness so that THEY (plural) could not see.

The author(s) of the Quran used a plural to describe the man in the parable since he is the one who lights a fire so as to have some light. Therefore, when the verse goes on to say that Allah took away THEIR light this can only be referring back to the man who was just mentioned since he is the only one in the context that even has a light!

Here is a second example:

These two antagonists dispute with each other about their Lord (Hathani khasmani ikhtasamoo fee rabbihim): But those who deny (their Lord), – for them will be cut out a garment of Fire: over their heads will be poured out boiling water. S. 22:19

The word rendered as “dispute” (ikhtasamoo) is a plural verb form normally used to address three or more individuals. However, the verse mentions only two individuals disputing with each other.

A further example is:

Then he rose towards the heaven when it was smoke, and said to it and to the earth: “Come BOTH OF YOU (itiya) willingly (tawaan) or unwillingly (aw karhan).” They BOTH said (qalata): “We BOTH come (atayna), willingly (taieena).” S. 41:11

According to the late Iranian Islamic scholar Ali Dashti, there is a mistake regarding the grammar of Q. 41:11:

“… Sky and earth in Arabic are feminine nouns, and the verb ‘said’ in verse ten [note: in most English translations it is verse eleven] is accordingly feminine and dual; but the adjective ‘willing’ at the end of the verse is masculine and plural, and thus at variance with the rules of the Arabic grammar.” (Dashti, 23 Years: A Study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammad, translated from the Persian by F.R.C. Bagley [Mazda Publishers, Costa Mesa, CA 1994], p. 163; bold emphasis mine)

In the above verse the words itiyaqalata and atayna are feminine in gender and dual in number, whereas the adjective taieena is in the masculine plural.

To help the readers appreciate Dashti’s point concerning the blatant grammatical errors of this particular verse the following sentence is an attempt to mimic the errors of the Arabic into English:

Rachel and Mary both said, “The three of us men come willingly.”

Anyone reading this can clearly see the considerable grammatical mistakes of the sentence, confusing both gender and numbers. This is precisely what we find in Q. 41:11.

And now to our final example:

O Prophet! Why do you ban (for yourself) that which Allah has made lawful to you, seeking to please your wives? And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Allah has already ordained for you (O men), the dissolution of your oaths. And Allah is your Maula (Lord, or Master, or Protector, etc.) and He is the All-Knower, the All-Wise. And (remember) when the Prophet disclosed a matter in confidence to one of his wives (Hafsah), so when she told it (to another i.e. ‘Aishah), and Allah made it known to him, he informed part thereof and left a part. Then when he told her (Hafsah) thereof, she said: “Who told you this?” He said: “The All-Knower, the All-Aware (Allah) has told me”. If you two (tataboo) (wives of the Prophet, namely ‘Aishah and Hafsah) turn in repentance to Allah, (it will be better for you), your hearts (quloobukuma) are indeed so inclined (to oppose what the Prophet likes), but if you help one another against him (Muhammad SAW), then verily, Allah is his Maula (Lord, or Master, or Protector, etc.), and Jibrael (Gabriel), and the righteous among the believers, and furthermore, the angels are his helpers. S. 66:1-4 Hilali-Khan

The above passage is referring to two of Muhammad’s wives, namely Aisha and Hafsa, and yet the Arabic word for “your hearts” (quloobukuma) is in the plural!

In light of this, should we understand this to mean that Muhammad actually believed that his two wives literally had three hearts or more? If so then this would contradict the Quran which says that Allah hasn’t placed two hearts in anyone:

Allah has not put for any man two hearts inside his body. Neither has He made your wives whom you declare to be like your mothers’ backs, your real mothers. [Az-Zihar is the saying of a husband to his wife, “You are to me like the back of my mother” i.e. You are unlawful for me to approach.] nor has He made your adopted sons your real sons. That is but your saying with your mouths. But Allah says the truth, and He guides to the (Right) Way. S. 33:4 Hilali-Khan

Or should we assume that the author(s) often used the plural in contexts where only two individuals or items are in view?

So much for the Quran being miraculous confirmation for Muhammad’s prophethood.

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