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The Incomplete Quran: Whom Did Muhammad See?

Despite the Quran’s claim to being a clear, perspicuous book, which explains everything in detail,

[Say (O Muhammad)] “Shall I seek a judge other than Allah while it is He Who has sent down unto you the Book (The Qur’an), explained in detail.” Those unto whom We gave the Scripture [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] know that it is revealed from your Lord in truth. So be not you of those who doubt.S. 6:114 Hilali-Khan

Indeed in their stories, there is a lesson for men of understanding. It (the Qur’an) is not a forged statement but a confirmation of the Allah’s existing Books [the Taurat (Torah), the Injeel (Gospel) and other Scriptures of Allah] and a detailed explanation of everything and a guide and a Mercy for the people who believe. S. 12:111 Hilali-Khan

And (remember) the Day when We shall raise up from every nation a witness against them from amongst themselves. And We shall bring you (O Muhammad) as a witness against these. And We have sent down to you the Book (the Qur’an) as an exposition of everything, a guidance, a mercy, and glad tidings for those who have submitted themselves (to Allah as Muslims). S. 16:89 Hilali-Khan

A Book whereof the Verses are explained in detail; A Qur’an in Arabic for people who know. S. 41:3 Hilali-Khan

The fact is that it is one of the most incoherent, unintelligible pieces of literature ever produced.

For instance, the Muslim scripture testifies that Allah sent it down in its entirety on a specific night in the month of Ramadan:

The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the Criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, (let him fast the same) number of other days. Allah desireth for you ease; He desireth not hardship for you; and (He desireth) that ye should complete the period, and that ye should magnify Allah for having guided you, and that peradventure ye may be thankful. S. 2:185

Verily! We have sent IT (this Qur’an) down in the night of Al-Qadr (Decree). S. 97:1 Hilali-Khan

Here’s where the confusion comes in. Since the foregoing texts presuppose that the entirety of the Quran was sent down all at once, this raises a series of question, such as who exactly brought down the revelation? In other words, we want to know who exactly revealed the Quran to Muhammad.

Looking to the Quran for the answer doesn’t solve the problem, but adds to the confusion, since the Islamic text paints a contradictory picture.

ALLAH

It seems reasonably certain from the following texts,

Your Companion is neither astray nor being misled. Nor does he say (aught) of (his own) Desire. It is no less than inspiration sent down to him: He was taught by one Mighty in Power (shadeedu al-quwa), Endued with Wisdom (Thoo mirratin): for he appeared (in stately form); While he was in the highest part of the horizon: Then he approached and came closer, And was at a distance of but two bow-lengths or (even) nearer; So did (God) convey the inspiration to His Servant – (conveyed) what He (meant) to convey. The (Prophet’s) (mind and) heart in no way falsified that which he saw. Will ye then dispute with him concerning what he saw? For indeed he saw him at a second descent, Near the Lote-tree beyond which none may pass: Near it is the Garden of Abode. Behold, the Lote-tree was shrouded (in mystery unspeakable!) (His) sight never swerved, nor did it go wrong! For truly did he see, of the Signs of his Lord, the Greatest! S. 53:2-18 Y. Ali

That this is in truth the word of an honoured messenger, Mighty, established in the presence of the Lord of the Throne, (One) to be obeyed, and trustworthy; And your comrade is not mad. Surely he beheld Him on the clear horizon. And he is not avid of the Unseen. S. 81:19–24 Pickthall

That it was Allah who supposedly appeared to Muhammad in order to convey the Quran to him.

THE HOLY AND FAITHFUL SPIRIT

However, these next verses claim that it was actually the Holy and Faith Spirit who revealed the Quran to Muhammad:

Say, the Holy Spirit has brought the revelation from thy Lord in Truth, in order to strengthen those who believe, and as a Guide and Glad Tidings to Muslims. S. 16:102 Y. Ali

Truly it is the revelation of the Lord of all Being, brought down by the Faithful Spirit upon thy heart, that thou mayest be one of the warners, S. 26:192–194 Arberry

GABRIEL

And yet elsewhere, Gabriel is said to be the one that came down with the Muslim scripture:

Say (O Muhammad, to mankind): Who is an enemy to Gabriel! For he it is who hath revealed (this Scripture) to thy heart by Allah’s leave, confirming that which was (revealed) before it, and a guidance and glad tidings to believers; S. 2:97 Pickthall

ANGELS

As if it couldn’t get any more confusing, other texts imply that it was a group of angels that brought down the revelation:

And they say: “O you (Muhammad) to whom the Dhikr (the Qur’an) has been sent down! Verily, you are a mad man. “Why do you not bring angels to us if you are of the truthful ones?” We send not the angels down except with the truth (i.e. for torment, etc.), and in that case, they (the disbelievers) would have no respite! S. 15:6-8 Hilali-Khan

And the angels will say to them, `We do not come down save by the command of thy Lord. To HIM belongs all that is before us and all that is behind us and all that is between; and thy Lord is not forgetful;’ 19:64 Sher Ali

But then we are told that a group of angels brought down the revelation: Then I swear by the angels who bring down the revelation, S. 77:5 Shakir

The late Dr. Robert A. Morey sums up the foregoing contradictions quite well:

In the Quran, we are told that Allah called Muhammad to be a prophet and an apostle. But, as Dr. William Montgomery Watt observed:

Unfortunately, there are several alternative versions of these events.6

The Quran gives us four conflicting accounts of this original call to be a prophet. Either one of these four accounts is true and the others are false or they are all false. They cannot all be true.

In the Quran Muhammad described his initial call to be a prophet and apostle on four different occasions.

We are first told in Sura 53:2–18 and Sura 81:19–24 that Allah personally appeared to Muhammad in the form of a man and that Muhammad saw and heard him.

This is later abandoned, and we are then told in Sura 16:102 and Sura 26:192–194 that Muhammad’s call was issued by “the Holy Spirit.”

Since Muhammad does not really discuss who or what this “Holy Spirit” is, this is also later abandoned.

The third account of his original call is given in Sura 15:8 where we are told that “the angels” were the ones who came down to Muhammad and announced that Allah had called him to be a prophet.

Even this account is later amended in Sura 2:97, so that it is only the angel Gabriel who issues the call to Muhammad and hands down the Quran to him.

This last account of his original call was influenced by the fact that Gabriel had played a significant role in the birth both of Jesus and John the Baptist.

Some scholars believe Muhammad assumed that it was only appropriate that the next great prophet in line, being himself, should also be issued the call by Gabriel.

This fourth and last account of his initial call is the one that most Muslims and non-Muslims have heard. (Morey, The Islamic Invasion: Confronting the World’s Fastest Growing Religion [Christian Scholars Press, 1992], pp. 81-83)

6 For a full treatment of this contradiction, see W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammad’s Mecca, pp. 54–68. (Ibid., p. 82)

And:

The Quran contradicts itself in many ways. Since the Quran claims in Sura 39:23, 28 to be free from all contradictions, just one contradiction is sufficient to show that it is not God’s Word.

  1. As we have already shown, the Quran gives us four conflicting accounts of Muhammad’s reception of the Quran:

We are first told that Allah came to Muhammad in the form of a man and that Muhammad saw him (Suras 53:2–18; 81:19–24).

Then we are told that it was “the holy Spirit” who came to Muhammad (Suras 16:102; 26:192–194).

Later on, the Quran says that the angels were the ones who came down to Muhammad (Sura 15:8).

The last and most popular version is that it was the angel Gabriel who delivered the Quran to Muhammad (Sura 2:97). (Ibid., pp. 165-166)

In light of the foregoing, should we assume that Muhammad thought that Allah, the Holy Spirit, and a group of angels that included Gabriel all came down together at the same exact time to reveal the Quran to his heart?

Another question that this raises is, where does the Quran tell us what the Quran actually is? I.e., the Muslim scripture nowhere informs us as to the exact number of chapters and verses that make up the revelation. Therefore, how can we know what was sent down when we have no information from within the Islamic text telling us what it actually consists of? In fact, where does the Quran tell us the precise year that it was sent down?

That’s not all. The Quran states that it includes verses that cancel each other out:

Whatever a Verse (revelation) do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring a better one or similar to it. Know you not that Allah is able to do all things? S. 2:106 Hilali-Khan

And when We change a Verse [of the Qur’an, i.e. cancel (abrogate) its order] in place of another, and Allah knows the best of what He sends down, they (the disbelievers) say: “You (O Muhammad) are but a Muftari! (forger, liar).” Nay, but most of them know not. S. 16:101 Hilali-Khan

Does this even make sense? How can a book that was sent down whole, in its entirety, on a specific night, in a specific month, at a specific year, contain verses that abrogate one another?

More importantly, where does the Quran even provide a list of the verses that have been abrogated and the texts that abrogated them? Since it doesn’t include such information, how can a person know which passage has been canceled out and which text did the canceling?

The problem gets far worse since the Muslim scripture further contradicts itself in that it states that Allah did not send it down all at once, but in successive stages:

And (it is) a Qur’an that We have divided, that thou mayst recite it unto mankind at intervals, and We have revealed it by (successive) revelation. S. 17:106 Pickthall

And those who disbelieve say: Why is the Qur’an not revealed unto him all at once? (It is revealed) thus that We may strengthen thy heart therewith; and We have arranged it in right order. S. 25:32 Pickthall

How can the Muslim scripture say in one place that the Quran as a whole was revealed in Ramadan, but then claim that it was revealed at specific intervals over an unspecified period of time?

Now the moment a Muslim consults sources outside of the Quran to answer these gross, irreconcilable contradictions and problems, s/he ends up inadvertently falsifying their own scripture, which claims to be a revelation that completely explains all that it contains. After all, a text that is supposed to provide a fully detailed exposition of all of its passages does not need any other source to properly understand and/or make sense of its contents.

So much for the Quran being the word of God.

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