Share on facebook
Share on twitter

The Garbled Up Quran Pt. 4

In this section, we are going to take a look at some of the many grammatical errors of the Quran.

The following list of mistakes is adapted from ‘Abdallah ‘Abd al-Fadi’s book Is the Qur’an Infallible, pp. 171-185, unless noted otherwise. 

A Nominative Noun That Should Have Been Accusative

5:69 reads: “Surely they that believe, and those of Jewry, and the Sabeans (Saabiuuna)…”

The word Sabeans has been wrongly declined. It should have been rendered in the accusative (Saabi’iina) like the rest of the nouns due to the word “Inna” which precedes it. Elsewhere, the author of the Quran got it right:

Those who believe (in the Qurán), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians (Saabi’iina),- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. S. 2:62

Those who believe (in the Qurán), those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Sabians (Saabi’iina), Christians, Magians, and Polytheists,- Allah will judge between them on the Day of Judgment: for Allah is witness of all things. S. 22:17

The Subject Is Incorrectly Accusative

We are told in Q. 2:124, “My covenant shall not reach the evildoers.”

‘Abd Al-Fadi writes:

This wrong and awkward translation is in fact a result of an unbelievable grammatical mistake in the Arabic Qur’an. The Qur’an meant to say, “The evildoers shall not attain to My covenant,” but since the word [“the evildoers”] appears in the accusative rather than the correct nominative, the translator ended up saying that the covenant does not reach the evildoers, an image that is very foreign to the Arabic mind. In fact, the Qur’an should have said al-zalimun, and the problem would have been solved!

A Feminine Subject with a Masculine Predicate

“Surely the mercy of God is nigh…” S. 7:56

Here is ‘Abd Al-Fadi:

In this verse, the Arabic for “nigh” is qaribun. This predicate is masculine while the subject rahmah (“mercy”) is feminine. Had the Qur’an preserved the agreement between the subject and the predicate, it would say, qaribatun.

One Muslim writer indirectly acknowledges that the word for mercy is wrongly declined here, but tries to justify the wrong use of the masculine on the basis that mercy refers to Muhammad!

“And My Mercy embraceth all things, therefore I shall ordain It for those who ward off (evil) and pay the poor due, and those who believe Our revelations” (7:156); and He said “truly the Mercy of Allah is near those who do good”: “Inna rahmat Allahi qaribun min al-muhsinin” (7:56) without putting qaribun in the feminine (qaribatun) although rahma is feminine, because in reality that rahma is the Prophet, as explicited in the verse: “wa ma arsalnaka illa rahmatan lil-`alamin”“And We did not send you (Muhammad) except as a Mercy to the worlds” (21:107); (G.F. Haddad, The Prophetic Title: “Best of Creation”

Wrong Gender and Incorrect Use of Plural

“And We cut them up into twelve tribes, nations.” S. 7:160

‘Abd Al-Fadi:

The Arabic rendering of this verse reads: “Wa qatta’nahum ithnatay ‘ashrata asbatan.” There are two grammatical errors in this sentence; the first is the feminine number ithnatay ‘ashrata, and the second is the plural noun asbatan. The word “tribe” is masculine and requires a masculine number; also a noun used in conjunction with a number above ten should be singular. Therefore the Qur’an should have said: “ithnay ‘ashra sibtan.” 

An Incorrect Plural Verb and Pronoun

“These are two disputants who have disputed concerning their Lord.” S. 22:19

‘Abd Al-Fadi writes:

This sentence reads in Arabic: “Hadsan khasman ikhtasamu fi rabbihim.” The verb ikhtasamu (“disputed”) is plural, and the possessive pronoun in the word rabbihim refers also to a plural antecedent. The Qur’an ought to have attached a dual ending to the verb and a dual possessive pronoun to the word rabb. The sentence should be: “Hadsan khasman ikhtasama fi rabbihima.” 

A Relative Pronoun in a Wrong Singular Form

9:69 reads: “You have plunged as they have plunged.”

Again, here is ‘Abd Al-Fadi:

The Arabic pronoun alladhi, unlike our English “who” or “that”, is subject to declension. That means it does not remain the same with every noun it refers to. It can receive a plural or a dual ending. The word “as” in this verse is actually the translation of the relative pronoun alladhi in the singular form. It should have been in the plural form since it refers to a plural pronoun. Thus the Arabic should read: “Khudhtum kalladhina (instead of alladhi) khadhu.” 

Accusative Instead of Nominative

In Q. 4:162 we read:

“But those of them that are firmly rooted in knowledge, and the believers believing in what has been sent down to thee, and what was sent down before thee, that perform the prayer and pay alms, and those who believe in God and the Last Day – them We shall surely give a mighty wage.”

‘Abd Al-Fadi claims:

The Arabic word for “perform the prayer” is al-muqimina. The word is put in the accusative for no legitimate reason. It should have been al-muqimuna, for it is added to the nominative words tat preceded it, namely al-rasikhuna and al-mu’minuna, and should agree also with the nominative ones coming after it, namely al-mu’tuna and al-mu’minuna.

Governed Genitive Noun Is Accusative

“But if We let him taste prosperity after hardship that has visited him, he will say, ‘The evils have gone from me’; behold he is joyous, boastful.” S. 11:10

‘Abd Al-Fadi one more time:

In Arabic, nouns coming after ba’da (meaning “after”) are supposed to be in an idafa construct (addition construct), and should have a kasra (an i vowel) at the end as a case indicator if they are singular or feminine. But in this verse the word dharra’a that comes after ba’da has a fatha (an a vowel) instead, as though the word is accusative! The word should have been spelled darra’i.

An Incorrect Plural of Multitude

2:80 reads: “The fire shall not touch us save a number of days.”

‘Abd Al-Fadi notes:

The Arabic reads: “… illa ayyaman ma’duda.” In the Arabic language there is a feature that is unique, namely the plural of multitude (which refers to great number of things or people) and the plural of paucity (which refers to a small number of things or people). The words in this verse were uttered by common folk who wanted to say that the days of their chastisement were numbered and few. Therefore the Qur’an should have used ma’dudat, which is the plural of paucity, rather than ma’duda, which is a plural of multitude.

A Wrong Plural Ending

So also Elias was among those sent (by Us)… Peace and salutation to such as Elias! S. 37:123, 130

‘Abd Al-Fadi writes:

The Arabic Qur’an has two spellings for Elias in this passage. The one in the beginning of the quotation is Ilyas, while the other is Ilyasin, as if it were plural! In fact the author of the Quran was so fond of rhyme that he often sacrificed the rules of grammar for the sake of it. He said in Sura al-Tin 95:1-3: “By the fig and the olive and the Mount Sinai and this land secure.” In Arabic, he changed the word Sinai (sina’) to its plural form (sinin) for the same reason! 

A Diptote Receives the Nunnation

We read in Q. 76:15: And there shall be passed around vessels of silver, and goblets of crystal.

Again ‘Abd Al-Fadi:

The Arabic word qawariran which was translated as “crystal” is in fact a diptote; that is, it has two cases only and cannot receive the final n that distinguishes the triptotes. But the Qur’an seems to have been unaware of this grammatical rule, or rather to have done violence to it, to maintain the rhyme!

The same error occurs in verse 4 of the same sura (al-Insan), where we read: “Surely We have prepared for the unbelievers chains, fetters, and a Blaze.” Here the Arabic word for chains (salasilan) is given a final n in violation of the same rule.

A Singular Pronoun Instead of a Dual One

But God and His Messenger – more right is it they should please Him. S. 9:62

Al-Fadi states:

Why wasn’t the pronoun referring to God put in the dual form, since in this verse both God and the Messenger are to be pleased? 

A Plural Noun Used in Place of a Dual One

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), 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. Hilali-Khan

Here the passage refers to Muhammad’s two wives and yet the Arabic word for “your hearts” (quloobukuma) is in the plural! Al-Fadi writes:

Al-Baidawi says that Hafsa and ‘Aisha were being addressed with this verse. But in spite of this, the Arabic for “your hearts” (qulubukuma) is in the plural form! Can two people have more than two hearts?

As al-Fadi correctly noted, are we to really presume that Muhammad’s two wives actually had more than two hearts? 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 this is another gross error within the Quran?

Chaotic Structure Leads to a Confusion in Meaning

… Force not your slave-girls to whoredom that ye may seek enjoyment of the life of the world, IF they would preserve their chastity. And if one force them, then (unto them), after their compulsion, lo! Allah will be Forgiving, Merciful. S. 24:33 Pickthall

Ali Dashti brings out the problem with the structure of this verse:

A humane and salutary injunction in verse 33 of sura 24 (on-Nur) shows that a cruel and immoral abuse was practiced at that time … Obviously the verse prohibits the vile practice of slave-owners who prostituted female slaves and pocketed their proceeds, and no less obviously the words “God, after their coercion, is forgiving and merciful” mean that God pardons slave-girls for having unwillingly committed fornication. The outward form of the words, however, is such that they can be taken to mean that God is forgiving and compassionate to men who prostitute their female slaves. The sentence IS VAGUE and does not adequately express the humane intention. (23 Years: A Study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammad, p. 50)

A Plural Pronoun Refers to a Singular Antecedent

2:17 reads: The likeness of them is as the likeness of a man who has kindled a fire, and when IT lit all about HIM God took away THEIR light.

Here we have a case where a plural is clearly being used for a singular subject. The author of the Qur’an is talking about people who have gone astray and gives a parable of someone (singular) “الذِي” who lit a fire (also in the singular) “اسْتَوْقَد” and it lit all that was around him (singular) “حَوْلَهُ”. Then Allah removed this light from around THEM “بِنُورِهِم”. Even the author(s) of the Qur’an is/are still in the parable, s/he/they employ the term THEM to describe HIM.

It is evident that the disbelievers are being likened to the man in the parable. It is also clear that the parable is speaking of what the man did without any indication that the parable abruptly ends in mid-sentence.

According to the parable, it is the man who lights a fire so as to have some light. Therefore, when the text 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!

‘Abd Al-Fadi shows how the verse should have been written:

The Quran ought to have attached a singular possessive pronoun to the singular antecedent “man”. Thus the verse should read: “… a man who has kindled a fire… God took away his light.”

Here is a final case:

  1. 41:11

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).”

According to Dashti, there is a mistake in the grammar of this text:

“… 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.” (P. 163; bold emphasis mine)

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 the referent consists of two entities. This is unlike the plural which is used when three or more entities 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 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 mistake of this particular text 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.

These examples mean that Muslims have no choice but to admit that the Quran contains grammatical mistakes and that, contrary to the assertions of many a polemicist, it is not written in perfect Arabic. If they do opt for this position then they will be in good company since even Aisha, Muhammad’s child bride, and the third caliph Uthman b. Affan acknowledged that there are grammatical mistakes in the Muslim scripture.

For example, several allegedly authentic Sunni sources admit that 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)

As was just noted, this was also the view of both Aisha and Uthman b. Affan:

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)

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)

“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)

“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-Baghawi (Tafsir Ma’alim at-Tanzeel), Q. 4:161, Volume 3, p. 361)

“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

Dashti writes:

In verse 66 of sura 20 (Taha), where Pharaoh’s people say of Moses and his broter Aaron “These two are sorcerers”, the word for “these two” (hadhane) is in the nominative case, whereas it ought to be in the accusative case (hadhayne) because it comes after an introductory particle of emphasis. ‘Othman and ‘A’esha are reported to have read as hadhayne. The comment of a Moslem scholar illustrates the fanaticism and intellectual ossification OF LATER TIMES: “Since in the unanimous opinion of the Moslem the pages bound in this volume and called the Qor’an are God’s word, an since there can be no error in God’s word, the report that ‘Othman and ‘A’esha read hadhayne instead of hadhane is wicked and false.” The Tafsir ol-Jalalayn more temperately pretends that the dual suffix MAY BE ane in all three cases and does not have to be ayne in the accusative and genitive. Yet the great early Qor’an scholar and philologist Abu ‘Amr b. ol-‘Ala (d. ca. 154/770) read hadhayne, as ‘Othman and ‘A’esha had done. (Pp. 49-50)

Just to remind the readers why these blunders are so important and damaging to the Islamic belief. Muslims assert that Muhammad had nothing to do with the revelation of the Quran, but simply conveyed its message to others and caused it to be written down. They claim that the Quran is divine dictation, being a perfect replica of that which is contained in the Preserved Tablets in heaven (Cf. Q. 13:39; 43:1-4; 56:76-80; 80:11-16; 85:21-22). This means that Allah is to be blamed for all these grammatical mistakes.

As such, these errors prove that Allah is unable to speak Arabic correctly, even though Muslims want us to believe that their god is an omniscient being who is perfect in every respect!

With the foregoing in perspective, we can now turn to the final part of our rebuttal

Related articles