Response to Zakir Naik's Claims for the Quran 2

Sam Shamoun

           Meaningless Qur'anic words
           The Qur'an Gives The Antonym (opposite) Meaning Of Words And Phrases
           The Source of the Moon's Light
           Quran and the Shape of the Earth
           The Earth According to Quran
           Quran and the Speech of Ants
           On the healing effects of Honey

    This is our second part in the series of rebuttals to Zakir Naik's claims for Muhammad and the Quran.


    Naik claims that both Muslim and non-Muslim Arabic scholars of the past and present acknowledge that the Quran is perfect in its grammar and structure. Let us see if Naik's claim holds any weight. The following quotations are from Ali Dashti's Twenty-Three Years: A study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammad, Allen and Unwin, London, 1985.

    "Among the Moslem scholars of the early period, before bigotry and hyperbole prevailed, were some such as Ebrahim on-Nazzam who openly acknowledged that the arrangement and syntax of the Qor'an are not miraculous and that work of equal or greater value could be produced by other God-fearing persons." (p. 48)

    "It is widely held that the blind Syrian poet Abu'l-'Ala ol-Ma'arri (368/979-450/1058) wrote his Ketab ol-fosul wa' l-ghayat, of which a part survives, in imitation of the Qor'an." (p. 48)

    "The Qor'an contains sentences which are incomplete and not fully intelligible without the aid of commentaries; foreign words, unfamiliar Arabic words, and words used with other than the normal meaning; adjectives and verbs inflected without observance of the concords of gender and number; illogically and ungrammatically applied pronouns which sometimes have no referent; and predicates which in rhymed passages are often remote from the subjects. These and other such aberrations in the language have given scope to critics who deny the Qor'an's eloquence. The problem also occupied the minds of devout Moslems. It forced the commentators to search for explanations and was probably one of the causes of disagreement over readings." (pp. 48-49)

    "To sum up, more than one hundred Qor'anic aberrations from the normal rules and structure of Arabic have been noted. Needless to say, the commentators strove to find explanations and justifications of these irregularities. Among them was the great commentator and philologist Mahmud oz-Zamakhshari (467/1075-538/1144), of whom a Moorish author wrote: 'This grammar-obsessed pedant has committed a shocking error. Our task is not to make the readings conform to Arabic grammar, but to take the whole of the Qor'an as it is and make Arabic grammar conform to the Qor'an.'" (p. 50)

    "In the field of moral teachings, however, the Qor'an cannot be considered miraculous. Mohammad reiterated principles which mankind had already conceived in earlier centuries and many places. Confucius, Buddha, Zoroaster, Socrates, Moses, and Jesus had said similar things." (p. 54)

    "Neither the Qor'an's eloquence nor its moral and legal precepts are miraculous. The Qor'an is miraculous because it enabled Mohammad, single-handedly and despite poverty and illiteracy, to overcome his people's resistance and found a lasting religion because it moved wild men to obedience and imposed its bringer's will on them." (p. 57)

    Thomas Carlyle, whose comments on Muhammad in Heroes and Hero Worship (1841) are often quoted with approval by Muslims, states in reference to the Quran:

    "A wearisome confused jumble, crude, incondite, endless iterations, longwindedness, entanglement; most crude incondite-insupportable STUPIDITY, in short! Nothing but a sense of duty could carry any European through the Koran." (Carlyle, Sartor Resartus: On Heroes and Hero Worship [London, 1973], p. 299)

    "His Koran has become a STUPID piece of prolix absurdity; we do not believe, like him, that God wrote that!" (Ibid, p. 344)

    The Quran claims to be in pure Arabic speech:

    We have sent it down as an Arabic Quran, in order that ye may learn wisdom. S. 12:2

    "An Arabic Quran, wherein there is no crookedness…" S. 9:28

    And We know very well that they say, "Only a mortal is teaching him." The speech of him at whom they hint is barbarous- and this is Arabic, pure and clear. S. 16:103

    But according to Arabic scholars the Quran is not in pure Arabic, containing dozens of foreign words:

    Abariq S. 56:18 Persian
    Adam S. 2:34 Akkadian
    Araik S. 18:31 Persian
    Firdaus S. 18:107 Pahlavi
    Fir'awn S. 73:15 Syriac
    Habr S. 9:31 Hebrew (Haver)
    Istabraq S. 18:31 Persian (Istabar)
    Sakina S. 2:248 Hebrew
    Sijjil (baked clay) S. 105:4 Persian
    Taghut (idols) S. 2:257 Syriac (Teghutha)
    Zakat S. 2:1 10 Syriac (Zkhutha)
    Zanjabil (ginger) S. 76:17 Pahlavi

    The following is taken from the book, Behind the Veil, chapter 8:

    Meaningless Qur'anic words

    All Muslim scholars acknowledge that the Qur'an contains words which even Muhammad's relatives and companions have failed to understand. In his book, "The Itqan" (part 2, p. 4), the Suyuti states clearly,

    Muhammad's companions, who are genuine Arabs, eloquent in language, in whose dialect the Qur'an was given to them, have stopped short in front of some words and failed to know their meanings, thus they said nothing about them. When Abu Bakr was asked about the Qur'anic statement 'and fruits and fodder' (8:31), he said, 'What sky would cover me or what land would carry me if I say what I do not know about the book of God?' 'Umar ibn al-Khattab read the same text from the rostrum, then he said, 'This fruit we know, but what is fodder?' Sa'id ibn Jubair was asked about the Qur'anic text in chapter 13 of Mary. He said, 'I asked ibn 'Abbas about it, but he kept silent."'

    Then the Suyuti indicated that ibn 'Abbas said that he does not know the meanings of some of the Qur'anic verses (like these in Chapter 69:36, 9:114 and 18:9).

    I have quoted the Suyuti's text word for word, and stated the confession of ibn 'Abbas who is interpreter of the Qur'an and legal jurist of the caliphs for whom Muhammad pleaded with God to enlighten his mind to comprehend the meaning of the Qur'an. Also, who was closer to Muhammad, my dear Muslim, than Abu Bakr and Umar, the first two caliphs along with ibn 'Abbas? All of them failed to comprehend many of the Qur'anic verses. Therefore, the Suyuti warns that anyone who attempts to conceive the meanings of these words will suffer complete failure. Then he mentions that the caliphs and ibn 'Abbas, themselves, did not know their meanings.

    Of course, he was right, because if those great leaders had failed to know their meanings, who would? Certainly, those intimate companions of Muhammad asked him about the meanings of those obscure words, but it is clear enough that Muhammad himself failed to know their meanings, otherwise he would have explained them to his companions as he did on several other occasions.

    In addition to these ambiguous words there are at least 14 other words or symbols which are recorded at the introductory part of 29 Qur'anic chapter. These codes are entirely ambiguous. Also four of these codes are titles for four chapters; therefore, four Qur'anic chapters have meaningless titles. These chapters are chapter Taha, ya sin, Sad, and Qaf. When the Jalalan attempted to expound the meanings of these 14 obscure words and the titles of these chapters, they said, "God alone knows His own intention."

    I am stating these words for the benefit of the reader as they are recorded in the authorized English translation of the Qur'an. "Aim-Alr-Almus-Hm" means nothing in any language! Is it a characteristic of Arabic eloquence to have meaningless words and titles of complete chapters which no body can comprehend?" (Ibid., 194-196)

    The author continues:

    "On pp. 5 and 6, the Suyuti asserts that the majority of the companions and the successors of the companions, especially the Sunnis (among them ibn 'Abbas himself) affirm that there are words of which no one knows the interpretation save God only.

    It is worthwhile mentioning here that anyone who attempted to comprehend the meaning of those words or any of the obscured verses was severely punished. On pp. 7 and 8 (part 3 of "The Itqan"), the Suyuti records for us a moving episode about a person called Sabigh who wanted to inquire about these same Qur'anic interpretations 'Umar Ibn al-Khattab severely punished him on successive days until he was almost killed due to head injuries. This is "the just 'Umar", as they call him. (Ibid., p. 196)


    The Qur'an Gives The Antonym (opposite) Meaning Of Words And Phrases

    This fact is well-known to all scholars. It clearly reveals that the Arabic language of the Qur'an is not always sound as some believe. In the second part of "The Itqan", the Suyuti speaks explicitly about things which no one expected to find in the Qur'an. Actually, these defects are not supposed to occur in any standard Arabic book which complies with the rules and characteristics of the Arabic language. On page 135, the Suyuti says,

    "The word 'after' has been mentioned twice in the Qur'an so as to mean 'before', as in this saying, 'We have written in the psalms (the scripture) "after the reminder" (21:105) while He meant "before."' Also in this saying, 'The earth "after" that He has extended (79:30) while he meant "before" and not "after" because the earth was created first "before" and not "after" He created the heavens,' as Abu Musa indicated."

    These are the actual words of Suyuti. The question now is: Does this linguistic defect conform to any language in the world? Does this comply with the characteristics of writing and the artistic, eloquent style of Arabic language? Is it proper, in the Qur'anic style to write "after" when you mean "before"? How can the reader know the correct meaning since it is common knowledge that "after" and "before" are opposite words? Is it sensible that the angel Gabriel meant to say "before" but he instructed Muhammad to write "after"? It is difficult for us to believe that.

    This problem is not confined to one word because the Suyuti provides us with eight pages (Itqan, part 2, pp. 132-139) full of similar examples found in the Qur'an in which, according to the interpreters of the texts, the Qur'an meant the opposite meaning than the literal meaning of the expression. There is no connection between the literal meaning and the meaning intended by the Qur'an.

    Let us examine together some of the examples the Suyuti presented to us in his book, the Itqan, part 2,

    1. "The Qur'an means, 'Do not those who believe know that had Allah willed, He could have guided all mankind', but he said, 'Do not those who believe despair!' instead of writing 'know' as he meant" (see Thunder: 31). Is "despair" the same as "know"?
    2. The Qur'an says in chapter 2:23, '… your martyrs', but it means here, ' ... your partners' (p. 133). After the Suyuti made this remark, he commented,
    3. "The martyr is supposed to be the person who is killed, or the one who testifies concerning people's matters, but here it means 'your partners."'

    4. "In chapter Joseph: 20 the word 'Bakhs' (too little) is meant to be 'haram' (forbidden, sacred) contrary to the usual meaning" (p. 132).
    5. "In chapter Mariam (Mary):46 the phrase, 'I certainly will stone you' is interpreted to mean, 'I certainly will curse you', and not, 'I certainly will kill you' as its literal meaning suggests" (p. 133).

    Let the reader decide for himself as he examines these illustrations. (Ibid., pp. 197-198)

    Other aspects of the Quran which have baffled Muslims include the following letters that appear at the beginning of certain chapters:

    Muhammad Asad admits:

    "About one-quarter of the Qur'anic suras are preceded by mysterious letter-symbols called muqatta'at ('disjointed letters') or, occasionally, fawatih ('openings') because they appear at the beginning of the relevant suras. Out of the twenty-eight letters of the Arabic alphabet, exactly one-half- that is, fourteen- occur in this position, either singly or in varying combinations of two, three, four, or five letters. They are always pronounced singly, by their designations and not as mere sounds- thus: alif lam mim, or ha mim, etc.

    "The significance of these letter-symbols has perplexed the commentators from the earliest times. There is no evidence of the Prophet's having ever referred to them in any of his recorded utterances, nor any of his Companions having ever asked him for an explanation. None the less, it is established beyond any possibility of doubt that all the Companions- obviously following the example of the Prophet- regarded the muqatta'at as integral parts of the suras to which they are prefixed, and used to recite them accordingly: a fact which disposes effectively of the suggestion advanced by some Western orientalists that these letters may be no more than the initials of the scribes who wrote down the individual revelations at the Prophet's dictation, or of the Companions who recorded them at the time of the final codification of the Qur'an during the reign of the first three Caliphs.

    "Some of the Companions as well as some of their immediate successors and later Qur'anic commentators were convinced that these letters are abbreviations of certain words or even phrases relating to God and His attributes, and tried to 'reconstruct' them with much ingenuity; but since the possible combinations are practically unlimited, all such interpretations are highly arbitrary and, therefore, devoid of any real usefulness…" (Asad, The Message of the Qur'an [Dar al-Andalus Limited, 3 Library Ramp Gibraltar, rpt. 1993], App. II, p. 992)

    After summarizing several different interpretations, Asad concludes:

    "... and so, in the last resort, we must content ourselves with the finding that a solution of this problem still remains beyond our grasp. This was apparently the view of the four Right-Guided Caliphs, summarized in these words of Abu Bakr: 'In every divine writ (kitab) there is [an element of] mystery- and the mystery of the Qur'an is [indicated] in the openings of [some of] the suras." (Ibid., p. 993)

    Even A. Yusuf Ali states:

    "As shown in Appendix I (Sipara 3), the Abbreviated Letters are mystic symbols, about whose meaning there is no authoritative explanation. If the theory advanced in n. 25 to ii 1 has any validity, and the present group A.L.R. is cognate to the group A.L.M., we have to consider and form some idea in our minds as to the probable meaning of the variation… But no one should be dogmatic in speculation about mystic Symbols." (Ali, The Holy Qur'an- Introduction to Sura X [Yunus], p. 481)

    We are also told in Ali's footnote 25, p. 17, that the meaning A.L.M.:

    "…Much has been written about the meaning of these letters, but most of it is pure conjecture. Some commentators are content to recognize them as some mystic symbols, of which it is unprofitable to discuss the meaning by mere verbal logic. In mysticism we accept symbols as such for a time being: their esoteric meaning comes from the inner light when we are ready for it…"

    Ibn Kathir notes:

    "The 'ulama do not agree as to the interpretation of <Alif-Lam-Mim> and other similar letters at the beginning of some suras. They have been given the following interpretations:
    1. The letters belong to Mutashabih (allegorical) verses, whose meaning is known only to Allah.
    2. They are the names of Allah.
    3. They have meaning, and Allah did not reveal them in vain and without a purpose. Those ignorant people who say that the Qur'an contains words for mere worship, that have no meaning whatsoever- are certainly in great error. There is no doubt that the letters at the beginning of some Surahs have a meaning: we say about them only what is authentically said about them by the Prophet. Otherwise, we say nothing further about them and recite the verse <'We believe in it; it is all from our Lord.'> (3:7).

    As for the wisdom behind these letters, some scholars have said it is:
    1. To alert the polytheists so that they might listen to the words of Allah. This is a very weak reason in light of the fact that such disconnected letters do not appear at the beginning of every Surah. Besides al-Baqarah and al-'Imran that follows it, both start with these letters, and both were revealed in Madinah where there were no polytheists.
    2. Others believe that they are an example of the miraculous wonder of the Qur'an and the people are unable to confront it. This opinion is held by many scholars, including the Sheikh of Islam, Ibn Taymiyya. This opinion is borne out by the fact that all disconnected letters mentioned in the Qur'an are followed by a mention of the Qur'an itself and its revelation by Allah, Lord of the worlds. For example: <Alif-Lam-Mim. This is the Book ...> (2:1), <Ha. Mim. By the Book that makes things clear, that is this Qur'an)> (43:1), <Alif-Lam-Mim. Allah! There is no god but Him, the Living, the Self-Subsistent. He has revealed to (Muhammad) the Scripture> (3:1-3). <Alif-Lam-Ra. (This is) a Scripture which We have revealed unto you (O Muhammad) ...> (14:1) (Tafsir Ibn Kathir-Part 1 Surah Al-Fatiha Surah Al-Baqarah, ayat 1 to 141, Abridged by Sheikh Muhammad Nasib Ar-Rafa'i [Al-Firdous Ltd., London 1998], pp. 55-57; bold italic emphasis ours)

    That Ibn Kathir's second explanation is unconvincing is seen by the fact that certain suras begin by mentioning the Quran without the mysterious letters preceding it. For example S. 18:1 begins:

    In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, Who hath sent Hs Servant the Book, and hath allowed therein no Crookedness. (cf., S. 24:1; 25:1; 39:1-2; 52:1-3; 55:1-2; 97:1)

    In other suras, we find the letters appearing without any reference to the Quran. One such sura is S. 191-2:

    In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Kaf. Ha. Ya. Ain. Sad. (This is) a mention of Zakariya.


    In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Alif-Lam-Mim. Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, "We believe", and that they will not be tested? S. 29:1-2 (cf. S. 30:1-2; 68:1)

    The late Christian writer, 'Abdallah 'Abd al-Fadi, wrote:

    "Our question is: Considering that only God knows the meaning of these words, as Muslims claim, what do they benefit us? God never inspires a man with profitless words; His words are clear and His oracles are a guidance to the people." (Al-Fadi, Is the Qur'an Infallible? [Light of Life, PO Box 13, A-9503 Villach, Austria], p. 297)


    Since Muslims such as Asad clearly admit that there is no report suggesting that Muhammad spoke about these mysterious letters in his recorded utterances, where did the Companions come up with such a practice especially since these letters left them perplexed as to their meanings? Furthermore, no report has come down to us indicating that the Companions had inquired Muhammad on the meaning of these mysterious letters. This is indeed strange since had these letters been part of the original revelation why would the Companions not have asked about their meaning? This seems to suggest that scribes added these letters much later and hadiths were then forged to establish their authenticity.

    (NOTE- For those interested in reading an alternate explanation for the origins of these words see this related link.)

    Muslims respond to the claim that the Quran contains foreign words by presuming that all living languages adopt words from other cultures and it is therefore not an error for the Quran to contain foreign words. This argument only works in regards to imperfect human beings that continually adopt and adapt to other cultures and customs.

    Yet an all-powerful Being who is the Originator of human language is capable of inspiring his word in perfect Arabic completely devoid of foreign words, especially when he himself states that he would. Furthermore, containing foreign words is one thing. But to include words that Muslims themselves admit are meaningless is another problem altogether. All of God's words have meaning to its hearers, which strongly argues against the inspiration of the Quran with all of its useless words.


    Not only does the Quran contain foreign and useless words, but according to Arabic grammarians it also contains grammatical mistakes:

    The Qor'an contains sentences which are incomplete and not fully intelligible without the aid of commentaries; foreign words, unfamiliar Arabic words, and words used with other than the normal meaning, adjectives and verbs inflected without observance of the concords of gender and number- illogically and ungrammatically applied pronouns which sometimes have no referent- and predicates which in rhymed passages are often remote from the subjects ... To sum up, more than one hundred Qor'anic aberrations from the normal rules and structures have been noted… (Ali Dashti, 23 Years: A Study of the Prophetic Career of Muhammad [Costa Mesa, Ca. 1994; Mazda Publishers], pp. 48, 50)

    It should be pointed out that it is not only Arabic scholars who have discovered dozens of grammatical mistakes within the Quran, but Muhammad's very own companions in the past have also admitted this fact. The Muslim scholar Ibn al-Khatib in his book al-Furqan quotes Muhammad's wife Aisha as saying:

    "There are three grammatical errors in the Book of Allah, they are the fault of the scribe: In 20:63… And in 5:69… And in 4:162." (Muhammad M. abd al-Latif Ibn al-Khatib, Al-Furqan [Dar al-Kutub al-elmiyah, Beirut], p. 91)

    After seeing the first standard copy of the Quran, Islam's third Caliph Uthman proclaimed, "I see grammatical errors in it, and the Arabs will read it correctly with their tongues." (Ibid., p. 90)

    For the Quran to be the word of Allah and for Allah to be God one should find no grammatical mistakes, especially since Muslims claim that the Quran contains no human element whatsoever. The Muslim view is that the Quran was dictated word for word to Muhammad, which implies that Allah is the Author of theses grammatical errors. This disqualifies Allah from being God, or worse yet if he is God then he does not have perfect knowledge of all things.

    To avoid this problem, Muslims assert that the Quran was revealed in a style called balaagha, which is an eloquent method of expressing the Arabic. Due to this fact, the Quran is not required to always fall within the conventional rules of grammar since its aim is also to feature eloquent speech.

    Once again this assumption serves to undermine the Muslim position. It is true that a document written by man cannot at the same time be both grammatically correct and still retain an optimum level of eloquence, since a human writer most often sacrifices one literary feature for another. But this cannot be said of God since he can easily produce a book that contains both perfect grammar and eloquence without ever sacrificing one for the other. The Quran fails to do this and therefor cannot be from God.

    The fact is that Muslims went so far as to invent grammatical rules in order to avoid the charge that the Quran contains grammatical errors. The following is taken from P. Newton's web site:


    We have seen how did the Muslim scholars invent pre-Islamic poetry, Hadith, and even imaginary words claiming them to be from foreign languages. We now turn to the last invention that won them the gold medal: Early Muslims as they wrestled with the various errors in the Qur'an, have advanced different reasons as to why they should not be errors. The early attempts to explain away the grammatical errors in the Qur'an relied on the performance of acrobatic feats in the field of grammar. The fact that these attempts differed indicate that some scholars were not content with others answers, which is an indication of idterab (perplexion). Dissatisfied with the different attempts that relied on the manipulation of grammatical rules some scholars have invented a sweeping new rule to fix most errors They called it iltifat.

    It will be a waste of time to deal with every point raised in responce to our article on the topic of grammatical errors. However we will concentrate on errors found in Q. 2:177, 4:162, 5:69, just to prove the point.

    Here is a Muslim's summary of what iltifat is:

    In 1992, M A S Abdel Haleem, a lecturer from School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, London (UK) published a paper called Grammatical Shift For The Rhetorical Purposes: Iltifat And Related Features In The Qur'an, in the Bulletin of School of Oriental and African Studies, Volume LV, Part 3. In this paper, he not only dealt with the so-called-linguistic (grammatical) errors published by John Burton, but also showed that people need to be thorough in classical Arabic before saying anything about the Qur'an and its grammatical structure. Most of the discussion on iltifat below is taken from this paper.

    To begin with: Iltifat means to 'turn/turn one's face to'. It is an important part of balagah (Arabic rhetoric) where there is a sudden shift in the pronoun of the speaker or the person spoken about. Muslim literary critics over the centuries have greatly admired this technique. Iltifat has been called by rhetoricians shaja'at al-arabiyya as it shows, in their opinion, the daring nature of the Arabic language. If any 'daring' is to be attached to it, it should above all be the daring of the language of the Qur'an since it employs this feature far more extensively and in more variations than does Arabic poetry. Most of the authors who talk about iltifat use the examples from the Qur'an. No one seems to quote references in prose other than from the Qur'an: and indeed a sampling of hadith material found not a single instance.

    The types of iltifat Newton and related features are of following types:

    1. Changes in person, between 1st, 2nd and 3rd person, which is the most common and is usually divided into six kinds. The four important examples that are found in the Qur'an are:

    • Transition from the 3rd to 1st person. This is the most common type. Over 140 instances can be found in the Qur'an.
    • From 1st to 3rd person - nearly 100 such instances can be found in the Qur'an.
    • From 3rd to 2nd person - nearly 60 instances.
    • From 2nd to 3rd person - under 30 instances.

    2. Change in the number, between singular, dual and plural.

    3. Change in the addressee.

    4. Change in the tense of the verb.

    5. Change in the case marker.

    6. Using noun in the place of pronoun.[1]

  • According to M A S Abdel Haleem error no. 1 falls in the category of iltifat.

    Here are his comments on error no. 1:

    This change in case is similar to changes number and person and tense. All these are used in the Qur'an for rhetorical purposes in their contexts. This is a feature called iltifaat. Of which there are countless examples in Arabic. As for how these rhetorical measures are used in the Qur'an - they have been covered comprehensively in the largest book on Qur'anic sciences called Al-Burhan by Zarkashi.


    Zarkashi defined iltifat as "the change of speech from one mode to another, for the sake of freshness and variety for the listner, to renew his interest, and to keep his mind from boredom and frustration, through having the one mode continuously at his ear.[2]

    Allah knew that every pious Muslim reader of the Qur'an will arrive at Q. 5:69 or 4:162 for example, and find himself suffering from boredom and frustration and for this purpose Allah decided to place a point of iltifat to refresh the mind of all Muslim readers across the centuries!

    And we ask: is this iltifat found in the mother of the book that is in heaven as well?


    Here are some comments made by Arabic scholars on the nature of iltifat:

    Iltifat is also called by some "al-sarf and al-insiraf (both of these meaning lexically 'to depart'"[3]

    And " is using one [mode] in a place where another ought to have been used"[4]

    Others saw it as khuruj al-kalam 'ala muqtada 'l-zaher (departure from what is normally expected).[5]

    This iltifat is also called shajat al-arabiyya (the daring of the Arabic language).

    A daring person, ... undertakes what others do not dare and such is iltifat in speech.[6]

    According to the above, Iltifat then is first a departure from the norms of Arabic grammar. If this iltifat was a RULE of Arabic grammar its usage would not have been considered a departure.

    Second in iltifat the mode or inflection "ought not to have been used" the way it was used. Again if this iltifat was a RULE of Arabic grammar its usage would not have been labelled "ought not".

    Third if iltifat was a RULE of Arabic grammar its usage would not have been called a "dare" that is a dangerous act.

    Iltifat then in brief is a daring departure that ought not to have taken place. These are not the descriptions of a rule or even an exception but these definitions of iltifat by themselves are a very clear comment on the various responses to the first error. If the responses listed in the beginning of the article were in accordance with the rules of Arabic grammar, there would have been no need for iltifat at all.

    Now let us listen to the author of the article on iltifat to see how he "apologises" for the cases involving a change of case marker eg. first error:

    1.This category ... involves a very limited number of examples, ... 2:177, 4:162 and 5:69.

    2.It was said to be iltifat only according to one reading which involves a shift in words concerned, but in each case there is another (if less common) reading that does not involve a shift.

    3.According to the reading involving a shift, explainations of the shift on the ground of iltifat remains at least as strong if not stronger than other explainations.[7]

    Mr Abdel Haleem's belief that the explanation of the shift on the ground of iltifat could be stronger than other explanations says something about these other explanations. For if the other explanations were strong and valid there would be no need for any other explanations on any other grounds. Mr Abdel Haleem has no hesitation in stating the shift in Q. 2:177 (see the fifth error in our article) just as we did in our article:

    Q. 2:177 ... Al-sabirin is in parallel with al-mufun, which is nominative and should therefore be nominative (al-sabirun), but there is a shift to the accusative case. But how is this to be explained? According to the reports of Zarkashi, it is iltifat. As will be seen below, departure from what is normally expected is done for a special purpose.[8]

    No grammatical gymnastics in the above, but a straight application of the Arabic rules of grammar. And in spite of seeing it as a departure from what is normally expected Mr Abdel Haleem does not call it an error but a shift.

    So what is the special purpose for which this shift took place?

    According to Mr Abel Haleem it is "to emphasize the importance of al-sabirin."[9] And "the fact that al-sabirin is mentioned four times in the same sura [sura 2]."[10]

    The word sabrinin (people who endure and are patient) is mentioned three timess in sura 3, but the word endurance or its derivatives is mentioned eight times in sura 3. The same derivatives of the word is mentioned also eight times in sura 2. Why then did the word sabr (root of sabirin) or its derivatives miss out from experiencing the shift in sura 3?

    What is the divine wisdom in choosing the word in 2:177 out of those four verses (2:153, 155, 177, 249) in sura 2 to emphasize the importance of al-sabirin?

    We would like to ask the Arabic readers to write those four verses together and look to see if a person is likely to make a grammatical error involving the word al-sabirin in those verses. Which verse is it likely to be?

    The Arabic reader will find that it is mighty difficult to make an error in the other three verses (2:152, 155, 249). In other words this is not a divine wisdom but a human frailty.

    The second verse that involves a change in case marker is found in Q. 4:162 (see the second error in our article).

    Here again Mr Abdel Haleem has no hesitation in stating the departure in Q. 4:162 just as we did in our article. Here is what he said:

    The shift (from nominative to accusative again) occurs here with those 'that perform the prayer' (wal-muqimin). Highlighting prayer here is understandable in the light of the fact that prayer is mentioned nine times in sura 4, including a long passage about its importance in war, peculiar to this sura.[11]

    The word prayer is also mentioned in nine times in sura 2 and its derivatives are mentioned three times in sura 2 while its derivatives were mentioned only twice in sura 4. So prayer is mentioned 12 times in sura 2 while it was mentioned 11 times in sura 4. Yet there was no shift of case marker in those verses. In addition to that prayer is mentioned in the very opening verse of sura 2, in verse 3 after mentioning the Book. The theory of iltifat is a haphazard one.

    What is the divine wisdom in choosing the word in 4:162 out of those verses (4:101, 102, 103, 143, 162) to emphasize the importance of prayer.

    We would like to ask the Arabic readers to write those five verses together and look to see if a person is likely to make a grammatical error involving the word muqimin in those verses. Which verse is it likely to be?

    The Arabic reader will find that it is mighty difficult to make an error in the other four verses. In other words this is not a divine wisdom either but a human frailty.

    The third case of change in case marker involves verse Q. 5:69 (See the first error in our article).

    Here again Mr Abdel Haleem has no hesitation in stating the departure in Q. 5:69 just as we did in our article. Here is what he said:

    Sabi'un appears to be a coordinate with the accusative nouns before it and should accordingly have been accusative, but it is nominative. Here again there is another (if less common) reading wal-sabi'in making it accusative with no shift.[12]

    And the reason for the shift, according to Mr Abdel Haleem:

    Judging from the context of the situation, then, sabi'un in 5:69 could be said to require highlighting in the way suggested by Zamakhshari, Khalil and Sibawaih: even the Sabi'un will be forgiven if they believe ... others will the more readily be forgiven, the Sabi'un being of all the categories listed the most clearly astray.[13]

    Statistics does not help Mr Abdel Haleem here. Indeed statistics demolish his theory. In sura 5 from verse 15 to 83 the Qur'an is talking about the people of the Book. In other word the Qur'an dedicated 68 verses in addressing the Jews and the Christians. The sabi'in is mentioned once in passing in the whole of sura 5. The Qur'an is contending with the people of the Book not with the sabi'in.

    Mr Abdel Haleem and the scholars he quoted are claiming that the "sabibin of all the categories listed [are] the most clearly astray" This claim is contrary to the Qur'an and history. The sabi'in were simply followers of John the Baptist. Unlike the Jews and the Christians they never claimed that their prophet is the son of God. Their straying is not even mentioned in the Qur'an. It is that some of people of the Book that the Qur'an enumerates their sins, hypocrisy, and shirk. The reader can check this section of the Qur'an for himself.

    Mr Abdel Haleem has missed his vocation. Through iltifat he first sold his readers the idea of the importance of endurance, next he sold them the idea of the importance of prayer, then he sold his readers the importance of faith.

    All this was done by "highlighting" through shift and departure from the rules of grammar. What else is important? He forgot fasting, he forgot Zakat, and he forgot Jihad. Are not all these equally important? God does need to wink as He speaks in order to highlight some of His words. If people believe this iltifat and continue to turn their faces here and there Mr Abdel Haleem could well be able to sell them the statue of liberty.

    They make people turn their faces and they think that God does wink (hasha lellah) so that they might steal people's religion.

    But the most telling proof that iltifat is an invention comes from Mr Abdel Haleems article itself:

    No one seems to quote references [of iltifat] in prose other than from the Qur'an: and indeed a sampling of hadith material found not a single instance.[14]

    Why is this so? Does not the hadith represent a huge cross section of the Arabic language touching almost every possible topic of life? Statistically speaking the Hadith represents a larger cross section of the Arabic language than the Qur'an. This is a fact that cannot be disputed. Why then in this large cross section there is not a single incident of iltifat as Mr Abdel Haleem reported?

    Here is the plain truth and the reason why there is not one incident of iltifat to be found in Hadith Qudsi or otherwise:

    Walid Ibn Muslim said: "I heard al-'Awaza'y saying: 'There is no harm in correcting and fixing the grammatical errors found in the Hadith'". He also said: "I heard al-'Awaza'y saying: 'Correct the grammatical errors in the Hadith for the [early] people were Arabs'". [meaning naturally knew the grammar of the Arabic language]

    And Gaber said: "I asked 'Amar and 'Aba Ja'far and 'Ata' concerning the man who makes grammatical errors while quoting the Hadith, should I quote him as I heard him or should I correct the grammatical errors of the Hadith?" He said: "Correct it..." And al-Nadr bn Shamiel said: "Hoshaym used to quote the Hadith with grammatical errors but I have clothed his reporting with good clothing, meaning correcting his grammatical errors. And 'Ali bn al-Hasan said: I said to Ibn al-Mobarak: Sometimes the Hadith contains grammatical errors, should I correct it? He said: Yes. Those [early] people did not make grammatical errors. Those errors are from us.

    Imam Ibn Faares speaking on the topic said: Some people are of the opinion that if a person makes grammatical errors while quoting the Hadith, the one who hears him must quote him exactly as he heard him, but others said: The hearer must correct the grammatical errors if he knows the rules of the Arabic language. The proof of this advice is that the prophet of Allah was the most eloquent of all the Arabs and Allah the most high have purified him [from making such errors] as such his words must be quoted free from all grammatical errors."[15]

    Dr Sobhy as-Saleh also gives an example of such correction:… the people of verification have called for the need to correct the grammatical errors in the Hadith ... for al-Hasan bn al-Halawani said: Correct whatever grammatical errors you might find in my book, because Ibn 'Affan did not make grammatical errors [when quoting the Hadith]. And 'Affan said: Correct whatever grammatical errors you might find in my book, because Hammad did not make grammatical errors [when quoting the Hadith]. And Hammad said: Correct whatever grammatical errors you might find in my book, because Qatada did not make grammatical errors [when quoting the Hadith]."[16]

    And it goes without saying that ultimately all Hadith must be corrected because its source the prophet of Islam Hammad did not make grammatical errors.

    So originally the Hadith contained grammatical errors, which is to be expected. If there were shift in the Qur'an there had to be shift in the hadith. But with time all evidence of it was removed.

    The Muslim scholars did not see these errors as iltifat or shaja'a (daring) or badi' (refinement); no, they saw it as it is: ERRORS and they corrected them.

    They called it iltifat the height of balagha, they called it shaja'a, they called it badi but the king is naked, he has no clothes. (see this related link.)



    In this section, we will examine Naik’s claim that the Quran accurately describes certain scientific facts that were only recently known and discovered. Due to the length of the paper, we will only be able to examine some of the alleged scientific examples cited by Naik. At the end of our paper, we will supply links that deal with all the arguments presented by Naik throughout his lectures and debates (e.g. on this page).

    The Source of the Moon’s Light

    Naik claims that the Quran correctly indicates that the moon’s light is borrowed and reflected, unlike the light of the sun which is not derived from an outside source. Some of the verses that Naik alludes to include the following:

    "Blessed is He Who made constellations in the skies, and placed therein a Lamp (Arabic- siraajan) and a Moon giving light (Arabic- muniiraa);" S. 25:61

    "And made the moon a light (Arabic- nuuran) in their midst, and made the sun as a (Glorious) Lamp (Arabic- Siraajaa)?" S. 71:16

    Acording to Naik, the term used for moonlight in Arabic is munir or nur and often means reflected or borrowed light. Accordingly, these terms are never used to refer to the light of the sun, referred to in the above passages as a Lamp. The Quran is therefore allegedly indicating that whereas the moon’s light is borrowed the sun produces its very own light.

    The problem with Naik’s interpretation is that the Quran actually uses the very term munir to describe the light produced by a Lamp. For instance, the following passage speaks of Muhammad as a Lamp giving forth light:

    And as one who invites to Allah's (Grace) by His leave, and as a Lamp spreading Light (Arabic- wa Siraajam-Muniiraa). S. 33:46

    Seeing that the sun itself is described as a Lamp, and seeing that the light produced by the Lamp is called muniiraa/light demonstrates Naik’s total arbitrariness in assuming that the terms nur and munir mean reflected light. That the terms are used to describe the very light produced by a Lamp, and seeing that Quran calls the sun a Lamp, shows that the Quran makes no distinction between the light that emanates from either the moon or the sun.

    This is further confirmed by Ibn Kathir's commentary on S. 33:46:

    <and as a lamp spreading light.> means, 'the Message that you bring is as clear as the sun shining brightly, and no one can deny it except those who are stubborn.' (Tafsir Ibn Kathir - Abridged Volume 7 Surat An-Nur to Surat Al Ahzab, Verse 50, abridged under a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors Riyadh, Houston, New York, London, Lahore, July 2000], p. 716)

    Hence, according to Ibn Kathir Muhammad is likened to a sun shining brightly. This implies that Muhammad's munir/light is the same as the light produced by the sun. Therefore, Naik's assertion that munir and nur means borrowed or reflected light cannot be sustained since the sunlight is likened to Muhammad's own munir/light.

    Thirdly, nur is applied to Allah in connection to his own light:

    Fain would they extinguish God's light (nura) with their mouths, but God will not allow but that His light(nurahu) should be perfected, even though the Unbelievers may detest (it). S. 9:32 Y. Ali; cf. 24:35

    This means that if Naik is correct then Allah has no light of his own, but only reflects light from another source or entity! Anyone can see from this how nonsensical Naik's argument truly is.


    Praise be to Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth, and made the Darkness and the Light (an-Nur). Yet those who reject Faith hold (others) as equal with their Guardian Lord. S. 6:101

    This verse presupposes that the Light includes all objects that bring forth light such as the stars and sun. Ibn Kathir notes:

    Allah praises and glorifies His Most Honorable Self for creating the heavens and the earth, as a dwelling for His servants, and for making the darkness and the light to benefit them in the night AND THE DAY. In this Ayah, Allah described the darkness in the plural, Zulumat [where Zulmah is singular for darkness], while describing the light in the singular, An-Nur, because An-Nur is more honored... (Tafsir Ibn Kathir-Abridged Volume 3 Surat An-Nisa, Verse 148 to the end of Surat Al-An’am, p. 310; bold and capital emphasis ours)

    The only nur produced in the daytime is the light from the sun!

    In fact, when we look at the earliest Muslim records we discover that Muhammad and his followers believed that the moon, much like the sun, emanated its own light. They did not believe that the moon simply reflected the light emanating from the sun. Al-Tabari quotes a tradition from Muhammad on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas where the former extensively comments on the orbit of the sun and moon. The following lengthy quotation is taken from the History of al-Tabari, Volume 1- General Introduction and from the Creation to the Flood (trans. Franz Rosenthal, State University of New York Press, Albany 1989), pp. 231-237:

    Among the traditions transmitted from the Messenger of God on this subject is what I have been told by Muhammad b. Abi Mansur al-Amuli- Khalaf b. Wasil- Abu Nu'aym `Umar b. Subh al-Balkhi- Muqatil b. Hayyan- `Abd al-Rahman b. Abza- Abu Dharr al-Ghifari: I walked hand in hand with the Prophet around evening when the sun was about to set. We did not stop looking at it until it had set. He continued. I asked the Messenger of God: Where does it set? He replied: It sets in the heaven and is then raised from heaven to heaven until it is raised to the highest, seventh heaven. Eventually, when it is underneath the Throne, it falls down and prostrates itself, and the angels who are in charge of it prostrate themselves together with it. The sun then says: My Lord, whence do You command me to rise, from where I set or from where I rise? He continued. This is (meant by) God's word: "And the sun: It runs to a place where it is to reside (at night)" - where it is held underneath the Throne - "That is decreed by One Mighty and Knowing" -- by "this" is meant the procedure of the "mighty" Lord in His royal authority, the Lord Who is "knowing" about His creation. He continued. Gabriel brings to the sun a garment of luminosity from the light of the Throne, according to the measure of the hours of the day. It is longer in the summer and shorter in the winter, and of intermediate length in autumn and spring. He continued. The sun puts on that garment, as one of you here puts on his garment. Then, it is set free to roam in the air of heaven until it rises whence it does. The Prophet said: It is as if it had been held for three nights. Then it will not be covered with luminosity and will be commanded to rise from where it sets. This is (meant by) God: "When the sun shall be rolled up." He continued. The same course is followed by the moon in its rising, its running on the horizon of the heaven, its setting, its rising to the highest, seventh heaven, its being held underneath the Throne, its prostration, and its asking for permission. But Gabriel brings it a garment from the light of the Footstool. He continued. This is (meant by) God's word: "He made the sun a luminosity and the moon a light." Abu Dharr concluded: Then I went away together with the Messenger of God and we prayed the evening prayer. This report from the Messenger of God indicated that the only difference between the condition of the sun and that of the moon is that the luminosity of the sun comes from the wrap of the luminosity of the Throne with which the sun was covered, while the light of the moon comes from a wrap of the light of the Footstool with which the moon was covered.

    The other report, referring to a different concept, is what I was told by Muhammad b. Abi Mansur- Khalaf b. Wasil- Abu Nu'aym- Muqatil b. Hayyan- Ikrimah: One day when Ibn `Abbas was sitting (at home or in the mosque), a man came to him and said: Ibn `Abbas, I heard Ka'b, the Rabbi, tell a marvelous story about the sun and the moon. He continued. Ibn `Abbas who had been reclining sat up and asked what it was. The man said: He suggested that on the Day of Resurrection, the sun and the moon will be brought as if they were two hamstrung oxen, and flung into Hell. `Ikrimah continued. Ibn `Abbas became contorted with anger and exclaimed three times: Ka'b is lying! Ka'b is lying! Ka'b is lying! This is something Jewish he wants to inject into Islam. God is too majestic and noble to mete out punishment where there is obedience to Him. Have you not heard God's word: "And He subjected to you the sun and the moon, being constant" — referring to their constant obedience. How would He punish two servants that are praised for constant obedience? May God curse that rabbi and his rabbinate! How insolent is he toward God and what a tremendous fabrication has he told about those two servants that are obedient to God! He continued. Then he said several times: We return to God. He took a little piece of wood from the ground and started to hit the ground with it. He did that for some time, then lifting his head he threw away the little piece of wood and said: You want me to tell you what I heard the Messenger of God say about the sun and the moon and the beginning of their creation and how things went with them? We said: We would, indeed, May God show mercy unto you. He said: When the Messenger of God was asked about that, he replied: When God was done with His creation and only Adam remained to be created, He created two suns from the light of His Throne. His foreknowledge told Him that He would leave here one sun, so He created it as (large as) this world is from east to west. His foreknowledge also told Him that He would efface it and change it to a moon; so the moon is smaller in size than the sun. But both are seen as small because of the sun's altitude and remoteness from the earth.

    He continued: If God had left the two suns as He created them in the beginning, night would not have been distinguishable from day. A hired man then would not know until when he should labor and when he should receive his wages. A person fasting would not know until when he must fast. A woman would not know how to reckon the period of her impurity. The Muslims would not know the time of the pilgrimage. Debtors would not know when their debts become due. People in general would not know when to work for a livelihood and when to stop for resting their bodies. The Lord was too concerned with His servants and too merciful to them (to do such a thing). He thus sent Gabriel to drag his wing three times over the face of the moon, which at the time was a sun. He effaced its luminosity and left the light in it. This is (meant by) God's word: "And We have made the night and the day two signs. We have blotted out the sign of the night, and We have made the sign of the day something to see by." He continued. The blackness you can see as lines on the moon is a trace of the blotting. God then created for the sun a chariot with 360 handholds from the luminosity of the light of the Throne and entrusted 360 of the angels inhabiting the lower heaven with the sun and its chariot, each of them gripping one of those handholds. He entrusted 360 of the angels inhabiting (the lower?) heaven with the moon and its chariot, each of them gripping one of those handholds.

    Then he said: For the sun and the moon, He created easts and wests (positions to rise and set) on the two sides of the earth and the two rims of heaven, 180 springs in the west of black clay - this is (meant by) God's word: "He found it setting in a muddy spring," meaning by "muddy (hami'ah)" black clay - and 180 springs in the east likewise of black clay, bubbling and boiling like a pot when it boiled furiously. He continued. Every day and night, the sun has a new place where it rises and a new place where it sets. The interval between them from beginning to end is longest for the day in summer and shortest in winter. This is (meant by) God's word: "The Lord of the two easts and the Lord of the two wests," meaning the last (position) of the sun here and the last there. He omitted the positions in the east and the west (for the rising and setting of the sun) in between them. Then He referred to east and west in the plural, saying; "(By) the Lord of the easts and wests." He mentioned the number of all those springs (as above).

    He continued. God created an ocean three farsakhs (18 kilometers) removed from heaven. Waves contained, it stands in the air by the command of God. No drop of it is spilled. All the oceans are motionless, but that ocean flows at the rate of the speed of an arrow. It is set free to move in the air evenly, as if it were a rope stretched out in the area between east and west. The sun, the moon, and the retrograde stars run in its deep swell. This is (meant by) God's word: "Each swims in a sphere." "The sphere" is the circulation of the chariot in the deep swell of that ocean. By Him Who holds the soul of Muhammad in His hand! If the sun were to emerge from that ocean, it would burn everything on earth, including even rocks and stones, and if the moon were to emerge from it, it would afflict (by its heat) the inhabitants of the earth to such and extent that they would worship gods other than God. The exception would be those of God's friends whom He would want to keep free from sin.

    Ibn `Abbas said that `Ali b. Abi Talib said to the Messenger of God: You are like my father and my mother! You have mentioned the course of the retrograde stars (al-khunnas) by which God swears in the Qur'an, together with the sun and the moon, and the rest. Now, what are al-khunnas? The Prophet replied: `Ali, they are five stars: Jupiter (al-birjis), Saturn (zuhal), Mercury (`utarid), Mars (bahram), and Venus (al-zuhrah). These five stars rise and run like the sun and the moon and race with them together. All the other stars are suspended from heaven as lamps are from mosques, and circulate together with heaven praising and sanctifying God with prayer. The Prophet then said: If you wish to have this made clear, look to the circulation of the sphere alternately here and there. It is the circulation of heaven and the circulation of all the stars together with it except those five. Their circulation today is what you see, and that is their prayer. Their circulation to the Day of Resurrection is as quick as the circulation of a mill because of the dangers and tremors of the Day of resurrection. This is (meant by) God's word: "On a day when the heaven sways to and fro and the mountains move. Woe on that day unto those who declare false (the Prophet's divine message)."

    He continued. When the sun rises, it rises upon its chariot from one of those springs accompanied by 360 angels with outspread wings. They draw it along the sphere, praising and sanctifying God with prayer, according to the extent of the hours of night and the hours of day, be it night or day. When God wishes to test the sun and the moon, showing His servants a sign and thereby asking them to stop disobeying Him and to start to obey, the sun tumbles from the chariot and falls into the deep of that ocean, which is the sphere. When God wants to increase the significance of the sign and frighten His servants severely, all of the sun falls, and nothing of it remains upon the chariot. That is a total eclipse of the sun, when the day darkens and the stars come out. When God wants to make a partial sign, half or a third or two-thirds of it fall into the water, while the rest remains upon the chariot, this being a partial eclipse. It is a misfortune for the sun or for the moon. It frightens His servants and constitutes a request from the Lord (for them to repent). However this may be, the angels entrusted with the chariot of the sun divide into two groups, one that goes to the sun and pulls it toward the chariot, and another that goes to the chariot and pulls it toward the sun, while at the same time they keep it steady in the sphere, praising and sanctifying God with prayer, according to the extent of the hours of day or the hours of night, be it night or day, summer or winter, autumn or spring between summer and winter, lest the length of night and day be increased in any way. God has given them knowledge of that by inspiration and also the power for it. The gradual emergence of the sun or the moon from the deep of that ocean covering them which you observe after an eclipse (is accomplished by) all the angels together who, after having brought out all of it, carry it (back) and put it upon the chariot. They praise God that He gave them the power to do that. They grip the handholds of the chariot and draw it in the sphere, praising and sanctifying God with prayer. Finally, they bring the sun to the west. Having done so; they put it into the spring there, and the sun falls from the horizon of the sphere into the spring.

    Tabari continues to comment about the role the sun and moon will play at the end of the world:

    "When this takes place, the sun will be held underneath the Throne for one night. Whenever it prostrates itself and asks for permission (to proceed to) whence it should rise, it is given no answer until the moon joins it and prostrates itself together with the sun and asks for permission (to proceed to) whence it shall rise. The moon, too, is not given an answer. Finally, (the angel?) will hold the sun for three nights and the moon for two nights ..." (Ibid., p. 239)

    Ibn Kathir also indicates that the moon has its very own light:

    <and the sun and the moon.> the sun with its own light and its own path and orbit and allotted time, and the moon which shines with a different light and travels on a different path and has its own allotted time." (Tafsir Ibn Kathir- Abridged Volume 6 Surat Al-Isra’, Verse 39 to the end of Surat Al Mu’minun, p. 444; bold emphasis ours)

    <And We have made (therein) a shining lamp> (78:13). <and a moon giving light.> means, shining and illuminated by the light of something else, different from the light of the sun..." (Tafsir Ibn Kathir- Abriged Volume 7 Surat An-Nur to Surat Al-Ahzab, Verse 50, pp. 193-194; bold emphasis ours)

    Furthermore, Ibn Kathir much like Tabari claims that the Quran teaches that both the sun and moon are orbiting, yet with one added twist. Ibn Kathir states that the earth is not orbiting, but rather remains in a fixed position!:

    <And has subjected the sun and the moon, each running its course for a term appointed;>

    It was said that this means, each runs within its limits, or it means until the Day of Resurrection; both meanings are correct. The first view is supported by the Hadith of Abu Dharr, may Allah be pleased with Him, in the Two Sahihs, according to which the Messenger of Allah said:

    O Abu Dharr! Do you know where this sun goes? I (Abu Dharr) said: "Allah and His Messenger know best." He said:

    It goes and prostrates beneath the Throne, then it seeks permission from its Lord, and soon it will be said: "Go back from whence you came."

    Ibn Hatim recorded that Ibn ‘Abbas said, "The sun is like flowing water, running its course in the sky during the day. When it sets, it travels its course BENEATH THE EARTH until it rises in the east." He said, "The same is true in the case of the moon." Its chain of narration is Sahih. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Volume 7, pp. 593-594; bold cap emphasis ours)

    This leaves us with the impression that whereas the sun and moon are traveling around the earth, the earth remains stationary. This is precisely what Ibn Kathir later claims, namely that the earth is stationary. Commenting on S. 27:61, Ibn Kathir states:

    <Is not He Who has made the earth as a fixed abode,>

    meaning, STABLE AND STATIONARY, SO THAT IT DOES NOT MOVE OR CONVULSE, because if it were to do so, it would not be a good place for people to live on. But by His grace and mercy, He has made it smooth and calm, and it is not shaken or moved... (Ibid., p. 341; bold cap emphasis ours)

    In light of the preceding statements, we are left with the conclusion that Islamic cosmogony is geocentric in nature, a fact solidified by Ibn Kathir’s comment on S. 25:45-46:

    <Have you not seen how your Lord spread the shadow>

    Ibn ‘Abbas, Ibn ‘Umar, Abu Al-‘Aliyah, Abu Malik, Masruq, Mujahid, Sa’id bin Jubyar, An-Nakha’i, Ad-Dahhak, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, As-Suddi and others said, "This refers to the period from the beginning of the dawn until the sun rises."

    <If He willed, He could have made it still>

    meaning, immobile, never changing...

    <but We have made the sun its guide.>

    means, were it not for the sun rising, it would not be there, for a thing can only be known in contrast to its opposites. Qatadah and As-Suddi said, "The sun is a guide which follows the shade until the shade disappears."

    <Then We withdraw it, towards Ourselves- a gradual withdrawal.>

    This refers to the shade.

    <gradual> meaning slowly. As-Suddi said, "A gentle, concealed, withdrawal until there is no shade left on earth except under a roof or a tree, and the sun is shining on whatever is above it."

    <a gradual withdrawal.> Ayyub bin Musa said: "Little by little." (Ibid., pp. 178-179; bold emphasis ours)

    Furthermore, Ibn Kathir likens the heavens to a dome surface above the earth. Commenting on S. 21:32, Kathir states:

    <And We made the heaven a roof, safe and well-guarded>
    means, covering the earth like a dome above it. This is like the Ayah,

    <With Hands We constructed the heaven. Verily, We are able to extend the vastness of space thereof.> [51:47]

    <By the heaven and Him Who built it.> [91:5]

    The building and making described here refers to the raising of the dome, as when the Messenger of Allah said,

    <Islam is built on five.>
    i.e., five pillars, which can only refer to a tent as familiar among Arabs.
    (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Volume 6, p. 443; bold emphasis ours)

    The following Quranic verse also points to the sky as an actual physical dome covering the earth:

    Seest thou not that Allah has made subject to you (men) all that is on the earth, and the ships that sail through the sea by His Command? He withholds the sky from failing on the earth except by His leave: for Allah is Most Kind and Most Merciful to man. S. 22:65

    Ibn Kathir comments:

    <He withholds the heaven from falling on earth except by leave.>

    If He willed, He could give the sky permission to fall on the earth, and whoever is in it would killed, but by His kindness, mercy, power, He withholds the heaven from falling on earth, except by His leave..." (Ibid., p. 611; bold emphasis ours)

    Two conclusions can be drawn from these statements. First, the thing is solid, otherwise it couldn't kill anyone when falling down, or, if it was not material, it couldn't fall in the first place. Furthermore, the only way for the heavens to cover the earth like a dome and for Allah to prevent them from crashing upon the earth is if in fact the earth is flat!

    Now someone might argue that the Quran is using phenomenological language here, ordinary speech that is not meant to convey scientific fact. For instance, even today we find meteorologists using the phrases "sunrise" and "sunset" without anyone finding fault with it. Therefore, the Quran is speaking from the earth’s vantage-point, that from our perspective on earth the sun seems to be rising and setting.

    The only problem with this claim is that it completely ignores the preceding commentaries that posit a stationary earth with the sun, moon and stars all orbiting around it. Hence, from the early Islamic perspective neither Muhammad nor his companions were understood to be using phenomenological language. Rather, they were seen by those closest to them to be speaking quite literally.

    In light of all this, we would like to ask the following questions. Seeing that both Ibn Kathir and Tabari cite Islamic traditions from Muhammad and others such as Ibn `Abbas in relation to the orbit of the sun, moon and stars how can one possibly accept Muhammad as a prophet in light of his comments that are brimming with scientific errors? Does the sun and moon travel together on a similar course? Was the moon actually a sun before God stripped it of its luminosity? Does the moon have light of its own? Is there really an ocean in space where the sun, moon and stars travel within? Why is there no mentioning the fact that the earth is actually orbiting around the sun? Why does Ibn Kathir claim that the earth is not traveling at all but is rather stationary? All these factors make it hard for any thinking individual to take Naik’s claim that the Quran is a scientific miracle or that Muhammad was actually God's prophet seriously.

    The following is from Qisas al-Anbiya-Tales of the Prophets:

    "Wahb said: Then God created the sun and the moon. The sun, He created from the light of the Throne, and the moon He created from the light of His veil.

    Kaab used to say that on the Day of Resurrection the sun and the moon will be led like bulls and hurled into Hell. When Ibn Abbas heard this, he grew angry and said, 'Kaab has lied. God praised the sun and the moon, saying, He likewise compelleth the sun and the moon, which diligently perform their courses, to serve you (14:33). How then can they be cast into Hell?'

    Wahb ibn Munabbih said: God entrusted the sun and the moon to angels who send them out for a while and draw them back for a while, as He hath said: God causeth the night to succeed the day, and he causeth the day to succeed the night (22:61). Therefor, what is subtracted from one period is added to the other.

    The people of the Torah say that God began to create on a Sunday and finished on a Saturday, whereupon He sat on the Throne; therefore, they have adopted that day as a holiday.

    Ibn Abbas said: The beginning was on a Saturday and the end on Friday. God rested on Friday, so for that reason we have made it a holiday.

    The Prophet said that Friday is the mistress of the day of the week and is greater in God's view than Id al-Fitra and Yawm al-Adha. Friday has five significances: on that day Adam was created, the spirit was breathed into him, he was married on that day, and on that day He took him unto Himself. Also on that day is a time during which God's servants ask their Lord for nothing He does not grant (a variant report adds: …so long as it is not a thing forbidden).

    And on that day will Doomsday commence." (Ibid., pp. 15-16)

    This story also confirms that the moon has its own light. In fact, this tradition presumes a young earth along with the fact that the sun and moon were created only after the earth and its vegetation. (Cf., pp. 8-15) Compare this with the following Islamic traditions:

    Sahih Muslim, Chapter MCLV, The beginning of creation and the creation of Adam, Hadith No. 6707:

    "Abu Huraira reported that Allah's Messenger (mpbuh) took hold of my hands and said: Allah the Exalted and Glorious, created the clay on Saturday and He created the mountains on Sunday and He created the trees on Monday and He created the things entailing labour on Tuesday and created light on Wednesday and He caused animals to spread on Thursday and created Adam (pbuh) after 'Asr on Friday; the last creation at the last hour of the hours of Friday, ie. Between afternoon and night."

    Muhammad states that vegetation preceded the formation of light, i.e. the sun. It must be emphasized that Sahih Muslim is considered the second most reliable source of hadith collections. Dr. Naik is a Sunni Muslim. Therefore, as a Sunni Muslim we presume he accepts the authority of Sahih Muslim seeing it is considered the second most reliable collection of traditions.

    Some Muslims have tried to claim that this tradition is weakly attested. For instance, M.S.M. Saifullah lists it as a malul hadith and notes:

    Ma'lul or Mu'allal

    Ibn al-Salah says, "A Ma'lul (defective) hadîth is one which appears to be sound, but thorough research reveals a disparaging factor." Such factors can be:

    1. declaring a hadîth Musnad when it is in fact Mursal, or Marfu when it is in fact Mauquf;

    2. showing a reporter to narrate from his shaikh when in fact he did not meet the latter; or attributing a hadîth to one Companion when it in fact comes through another.61

    Ibn al-Madinî (d. 324) says that such a defect can only be revealed if all the isnads of a particular hadîth are collated. In his book al-'Ilal, he gives thirty-four Successors and the names of those Companions from whom each of them heard ahadîth directly. For example, he says that al-Hasan al-Basri (d. 110, aged 88) did not see Alî (d. 40), although he adds that there is a slight possibility that he may have seen him during his childhood in Madinah.62 Such information is very important, since for example, many Sufi traditions go back to al-Hasan al-Basri, who is claimed to report directly from Alî.
    Being a very delicate branch of Mustalah al-Hadîth, only a few well-known traditionists such as Ibn al-Madini (d. 234), Ibn Abî Hatim al-Razi (d. 327), al-Khallal (d. 311) and al-Daraqutni (d. 385), have compiled books about it. Ibn Abî Hatim, in his Kitab al-'Ilal, has given 2840 examples of Malul ahadîth about a range of topics.

    An example of a Malul hadîth is one transmitted by Muslim on the authority of Abû Hurairah, who reports the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) as saying,

    "Allah created the land on Saturday; He created the mountains on Sunday; He created the trees on Monday; He created the things entailing labour on Tuesday; He created the light (or fish) on Wednesday; He scattered the beasts in it (the earth) on Thursday; and He created Adam after the afternoon of Friday, the last creation at the last hour of the hours of Friday, between the afternoon and night."63

    Regarding it, Ibn Taimiyyah says,

    "Men more knowledgeable than Muslim, such as al-Bukhârî and Yahya b. Ma'in, have criticised it. Al-Bukhârî said, 'This saying is not that of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), but one of Kab al-Ahbar'."64 (see this article)

    When we look at Saifullah's footnote # 64 we discover that some Muslims believed that this tradition was actually sound:

    64. Ibn Taimiyyah, Majmu' Fatawa (37 vols., ed. Abd al-Rahmân b. Qasim & his son Muhammad, Riyad, 1398), 18:18f. Ibn Taimiyyah mentions that Imâm Muslim's authentication of this hadîth is supported by Abû Bakr al-Anbari & Ibn al- Jauzi, whereas al-Baihaqi supports those who disparaged it. Al-Albani says that it was Ibn al-Madini who criticised it, whereas Ibn Ma'in did not (the latter was known to be very strict, both of them were shaikhs of al-Bukhârî). He further says that the hadîth is Sahih, and does not contradict the Qur'ân, contrary to the probable view of the scholars who criticised the hadîth, since what is mentioned in the Qur'ân is the creation of the heavens and the earth in six days, each of which may be like a thousand years, whereas the hadîth refers to the creation of the earth only, in days which are shorter than those referred to in the Qur'ân (Silsilah al-A hadîth as-Sahihah, no. 1833). (see this article.)

    Hence, we find Muslims disputing amongst themselves over which hadiths are sound and which are not. Yet, the fact remains that Sahih Muslim is not the only Islamic source indicating that both Muhammad and his Companions believed in a young earth and that the sun was created after vegetation. Historians such as at-Tabari also record this fact. The following traditions are taken entirely from The History of al-Tabari, Volume 1- General Introduction and from the Creation to the Flood (trans. Franz Rosenthal, State University of New York Press, Albany 1989), pp. 187-193:

    "We have stated before that time is but hours of night and day and that the hours are but traversal by the sun and the moon of the degrees of the sphere. Now then, this being so, there is (also) a sound tradition from the Messenger of God told us by Hannad b. al-Sari, who also said that he read all of the hadith (to Abu Bakr)- Abu Bakr b. 'Ayyash- Abu Sa'd al-Baqqal- 'Ikrimah- Ibn Abbas: The Jews came to the Prophet and asked him about the creation of the heavens and the earth. He said: God created the earth on Sunday and Monday. He created the mountains and the uses they possess on Tuesday. On Wednesday, He created trees, water, cities and the cultivated barren land. These are four (days). He continued (citing the Qur'an): 'Say: Do you really not believe in the One Who created the earth in two days, and set up others like Him? That is the Lord of the worlds. He made it firmly anchored (mountains) above it and blessed it and decreed that it contain the amount of food it provides, (all) in four days, equally for those asking'- for those who ask. On Thursday, He created heaven. On Friday, He created the stars, the sun, the moon, and the angels, until three hours remained. In the first of these three hours He created the terms (of human life), who would live and who would die. In the second, He cast harm upon everything that is useful for mankind. And in the third, (He created) Adam and had him dwell in Paradise. He commanded Iblis to prostrate himself before Adam, and He drove Adam out of Paradise at the end of the hour. When the Jews asked: What then, Muhammad? He said: 'Then He sat straight upon the Throne.' The Jews said: You are right, if you had finished, they said, with: Then He rested. Whereupon the Prophet got very angry, and it was revealed: 'We have created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six days, and fatigue did not touch Us. Thus be patient with what you say.'"

    According to this tradition from Ibn Abbas, Muhammad believed the earth and everything within it was created on the first four days whereas the heavens and the constellations were created afterwards on Thursday and Friday. Hence, Muhammad believed that vegetation was created nearly two days before the sun was even formed.

    "According to al-Muthanna- al-Hajjaj- Hammad- 'Ata' b. al-Sa'ib- 'Ikrimah: The Jews asked the Prophet: What about Sunday? The Messenger of God replied: On it, God created the earth and spread it out. They asked about Monday, and he replied: On it, He created Adam. They asked about Tuesday, and he replied: On it, He created the mountains, water, and so on. They asked about Wednesday, and he replied: Food. They asked about Thursday, and he replied: He created the heavens. They asked about Friday, and he replied: God created night and day. Then, when they asked about Saturday and mentioned God's rest(ing on it), he exclaimed: God be praised! God then revealed: 'We have created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six days, and fatigue did not touch Us.'"

    Once again we have "food", i.e. vegetation, appearing on Wednesday with the sun being created on Friday.

    Al-Tabari then comments:

    "The two reports transmitted by us from the Messenger of God have made it clear that the sun and the moon were created after God had created many things of His creation. That is because the hadith of Ibn Abbas on the authority of the Messenger of God indicates that God created the sun and the moon on Friday. If this is so, earth and heaven and what was in them, except the angels and Adam, had been created before God created the sun and the moon. All this (thus) existed while there was no light and no day, since night and day are but nouns designating hours known through the traversal by the sun and the moon of the course of the sphere. Now, if it is correct that the earth and the heaven and what was between them, except what we have mentioned, were in existence when there was no sun and no moon, the conclusion is that all existed when there was no night or day. The same (conclusion results from) the following hadith of Abu Hurayrah reported on the authority of the Messenger of God: God created light on Wednesday - meaning by 'light' the sun, if God wills."

    Tabari is honest enough to state that both the Quran and Muhammad's interpretation of it clearly place the sun after the earth and its nourishment had already been made.

    In his debate with Dr. William Campbell, Naik attacked the story of Genesis for claiming that vegetation preceded the creation of the sun and accused the Bible of a scientific error. Not only did Naik badly misrepresent the Genesis account of creation since the text does not say that the sun was created after vegetation had appeared, but Naik does not know his own religion very well. Had he known his own religious tradition, he would have discovered that it was Muhammad and his followers who were unscientific since they, not the Holy Bible, believed that vegetation not only preceded the creation of the sun, but of heaven as well!

    (NOTE- For a response to Naik's attacks on Genesis please read the following articles: [1], [2].)

    Finally, the fact that the moon has no light of its own but merely reflects the light of the sun was known during the life of Christ and was therefore nothing new to the Jews of Muhammad's day. This is due primarily to the fact that the Jewish philosopher, Philo, writing during the time of Christ in his From Questions on Genesis (92), clearly knew that the moon had no light of its own but reflected the light that emanated from the sun:

    "Why it is said that the days of man shall be a hundred and twenty years? (Genesis 6:4).

    God appears here to fix the limit of human life by this number, indicating by it the manifold prerogative of honour; for in the first place this number proceeds from the units, according to combination, from the number fifteen; but the principle of the number fifteen is that of a more transparent appearance, since it is on the fifteenth day that the moon is rendered full of light, borrowing its light of the sun at the approach of evening, and restoring it to him again in the morning; so that during the night of the full moon the darkness is scarcely visible, but it is all light." (Quoted as found in Glenn Miller's article.)

    The following excerpt is taken from Abraham Cohen's Everyman's Talmud:

    The other legend tells that Abraham had to be hidden away soon after his birth because astrologers had warned King Nimrod that a child was about to born who would overthrow his kingdom, and advised that he be killed while still a babe. The child lived with a nurse in a cave for three years. The story continues: ‘When he left the cave, his heart kept reflecting upon the creation of the Universe, and he determined to worship all the luminaries until he discovered which of them was God. He saw the moon whose light illumined the darkness of night from one end of the world to the other and noticed the vast retinue stars. "This is God," he exclaimed, and worshipped it throughout the night. In the morning when he beheld the dawn of the sun, and the moon darkened and its power waned, he exclaimed: "The light of the moon MUST BE DERIVED FROM THE LIGHT OF THE SUN, and the Universe only exists through the sun's rays." So he worshiped the sun throughout the day. In the evening, the sun sank below the horizon, its power waned, and the moon rappeared with the stars and the planets. He thereupon exclaimed: "Surely these all have a Master and God!"’ (Ibid., [Schocken Books New York], p. 2; bold and capital emphasis ours)

    Cohen has a note to this story:

    This passage is quoted from the Midrash Hagadol, ed. Schechter, 1. 189 f. This is a late collection of Midrashic material, but this story, although not found in the Talmud or standard Midrashim, occurs in the Apocalypse of Abraham, which belongs to the middle of the first century of the present era, and so falls within the Talmudic period. (Ibid., n. 2; bold emphasis ours)

    Hence, the Jews knew that the moon was reflected light even before Muhammad was born. Interestingly, both Philo's statement and the Apocryphal story are more scientific than the Quran since the latter nowhere even alludes to the fact that the moon has no light of its own. Certainly it is not explicitly stated.

    The Islamic traditions provide additional problems for the Muslim seeking to prove the scientific accuracy of the Quran:

    Kaab al-Ahbar said: When God wished to create the dry land, He commanded the wind to churn up the waters. When they had become turbulent and foamy, wave swelled and gave off vapor. Then God commanded the foam to solidify, and it became dry. In to days He created the dry land on the face of the waters, as He hath said: Say, do ye indeed disbelieve in him who created the earth in two days? (41:9). Then He commanded these waves to be still, and they formed the mountains, which He used as pegs to hold down the earth, as He hath said: And we placed stable mountains on the earth lest it should move with them (21:31). Were it not for the mountains, the earth would not have been stable enough for its inhabitants. The veins of these mountains are connected with the veins of Mount Qaf, which is the range that surrounds the earth.

    Then God created the seven seas. The first is called Baytush and surrounds the earth from behind Mount Qaf. Behind it is a sea called Asamm, behind which is a sea called Qaynas, behind which is a sea called Sakin, behind which is a sea called Mughallib, behind which is a sea called Muannis, behind which is a sea called Baki, which is the last. These are the seven seas, and each of them surrounds the sea before it. The rest of the seas, in which are creatures whose number only God knows, are like gulfs to these seven. God created sustenance for all these creatures on the fourth day, as He hath said: And he provided therein the food of the creatures designed to be the inhabitants thereof, in four days; equally, for those who ask (41:10).

    There are seven earths. The first is called Ramaka, beneath which is the Barren Wind, which can be bridled by no fewer than seventy thousand angels. With this wind God destroyed the people of Ad. The inhabitants of Ramaka are a nation called Muwashshim, upon whom is everlasting torment and divine retribution. The second earth is called Khalada, wherein are the implements of torture for the inhabitants of Hell. There dwells a nation called Tamis, whose food is their own flesh and whose drink is their own blood. The third earth is called Arqa, wherein dwell mulelike eagles with spearlike tails. On each tail are three hundred and sixty poisonous quills. Were even one quill placed on the face of the earth, the entire universe would pass away. The inhabitants thereof are a nation called Qays, who eat dirt and drink mothers' milk. The fourth earth is called Haraba, wherein dwell the snakes of Hell, which are as large as mountains. Each snake has fangs like tall palm trees, and if they were to strike the hugest mountain with their fangs it would be leveled to the ground. The inhabitants of this earth are a nation called Jilla, and they have no eyes, hands or feet but have wings like bats and die only of old age. The fifth earth is called Maltham, wherein stones of sulphur hang around the necks of infidels. When the fire is kindled the fuel is placed on their breasts, and the flames leap up onto their faces, as He hath said: The fire whose fuel is men and stones (2:24), and Fire shall cover their faces (14:50). The inhabitants are a nation called Hajla, who are numerous and who eat each other. The sixth earth is called Sijjin. Here are the registers of the people of Hell, and their works are vile, as He hath said: Verily the register of the actions of the wicked is surely Sijjin (83:7). Herein dwells a nation called Qatat, who are shaped like birds and worship God truly. The seventh earth is called Ajiba and is the habitation of Iblis. There dwells a nation called Khasum, who are BLACK and short, with claws like lions. It is they who will be given dominion over Gog and Magog, who will be destroyed by them.

    And the earth was tossed about with its inhabitants like a ship, so God sent down an angel of extreme magnitude and strength and ordered him to slip beneath the earth and bear it up on his shoulders. He stretched forth one of his hands to the East and the other to the West and took hold of the earth from end to end. However, there was no foothold for him, so God created from an emerald a square rock, in the middle of which were seven thousand holes. In each hole was a sea, the description of which is known only to God. And He commanded the rock to settle beneath the angel's feet. The rock, however, had no support, so God created a great bull with forty thousand heads, eyes, ears, nostrils, mouths, tongues and legs and commanded it to bear the rock on its back and on its horns. The name of the bull is al-Rayyan. As the bull had no place to rest its feet, God created a huge fish, upon whom no one may gaze at because it is so enormous and has so many eyes. It is even said that if all the seas were placed on one of its gills, they would be like a mustard seed in the desert. This fish God commanded to be a foothold for the bull, and it was done. The name of this fish is Behemoth. Then He made its resting place the waters, beneath which is the air, and beneath the air is the Darkness, which is for all the earths. There, beneath the Darkness, the knowledge of created things ends. (Muhammad ibn 'Abd Allah al-Kisa'i, Tales of the Prophets-Qisas al-anbiya, trans. Wheeler M. Thackston Jr. [Great Books of the Islamic World, Inc., Distributed by Kazi Publications; Chicago, IL 1997], pp. 8-10)

    Compare the suspension of the earth in the above tradition with that of the Joban record:

    "He (God) stretches out the north over empty space. He suspends the earth over nothing." Job 26:7

    As far as we can tell Job could have only known this by revelation from God. Dr. Henry Morris, president of Institute for Creation Research, comments:

    "Not only was the earth rotating, but it also began orbiting in space, suspended upon 'nothing' except the mysterious force of gravity, acting at a distance. This verse was written at 3500 years before Isaac Newton identified and described this force." (Morris, The Defenders Study Bible-King James Version [Word Publishing, Grand Rapids MI, 1995], p. 584)


    Quran and the Shape of the Earth

    Naik claims that S. 31:29 and 39:5 indicate that the earth is spherical, a fact not know until over 400 years ago. What Naik forgets to mention is that both the Quran and early Muslim sources actually claim that the earth is flat!:

    "And the earth - We have spread out. (like a carpet); set thereon mountains firm and immovable…" S. 15:19 Y. Ali

    "O you servants of Mine who have attained to faith! Behold! wide is Mine earth..." S. 50:7

    "Have we not made the earth as a bed and the mountains as pegs." S. 78:6-7 (Al-Hillali-Khan)

    "... And the earth how it is spread." S. 88:20

    At first these verses would simply seem to be allegorical statements, not to be taken literally. Yet, upon reading the works of the earliest Muslim commentators, it becomes quite evident that Muhammad believed in a flat earth! Al-Jalalan, one of Islam's premiere commentators, in his Tafsir, p. 509, states:

    "In his phrase, 'how it is spread', he denotes that the earth is flat. All the scholars of Islamic law agree upon this. It is not round as physicists claim." (Cited in Behind the Veil, p. 175)

    Al-Tabari cites the following tradition on the authority of Wahb:

    According to Muhammad b. Sahl b. 'Askar-Isma'il b. 'Abd al-Karim-Wahb, mentioning some of his majesty (as being described as follows): The heavens and the earth and the oceans are in the haykal, and the haykal is in the Footstool. God's feet are upon the Footstool. He carries the Footstool. It became like a sandal on His feet. When Wahb was asked: What is the haykal? He replied: Something on the heavens' extremities that surrounds the earth and the oceans like ropes that are used to fasten a tent. And when Wahb was asked how earths are (constituted), he replied: They are seven earths that are FLAT and islands. Between each two earths, there is an ocean. All that is surrounded by the (surrounding) ocean, and the haykal is behind the ocean. (History of Al-Tabari-General Introduction and From the Creation to the Flood, Vol. 1, pp. 207-208)

    Wahb's claim that there are seven earths completely agrees with both the statement from al-Kisa'i, Tales of the Prophets-Qisas al-anbiya found above as well as with the following Quranic verse:

    "It is God who created seven heavens, and of earth their like." S. 65:12

    The following ahadith supply additional support that Muhammad literally believed in seven earths:

    Narrated AbuHurayrah
    While Allah's Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions were sitting clouds came over them and Allah's Prophet (peace be upon him) asked, "Do you know what these are?" On their replying that Allah and His Messenger knew best, he said, "These are the clouds (anan), these are the water-carriers of the Earth, which Allah drives to people who do not thank Him or call upon him." He then asked, "Do you know what is above you?" On their replying that Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) knew best, he said, "It is the firmament, a ceiling which is guarded and waves which are kept back." He then asked, "Do you know what is between you and it?" On their replying that Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) knew best, he said, "Between you and it are five hundred years." He then asked, "Do you knew what is above that?" On their replying that Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) best he said, "Two heavens with a distance of five hundred years between them." He went on speaking like that till he counted seven heavens, the distance between each pair being like between Heaven and Earth. He then asked, "Do you know what is above that?" On their replying that Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) knew best, he said, "Above that is the Throne, and the distance between it and the (seventh) heaven is the same as that between each pair of heavens." He then asked, "Do you know what is below you?" On their replying that Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) knew best, he said, "It is the earth." He then asked, "Do you know what is under that?" On their replying that Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) knew best, he said, "Under it there is another Earth with a journey of five hundred years between them," and so on till he had counted seven earths with a journey of five hundred years between each pair. He then said, "By Him in Whose hand Muhammad's soul is, if you were to drop a rope to the lowest earth it would not pass out of Allah's knowledge." He then recited, "He is the First and the Last, the Outward and the Inward, and He is omniscient." (Tirmidhi commented that Allah's Messenger's recitation of the verse indicates that it would go down within Allah's knowledge, power and authority, for Allah's knowledge, power and authority are everywhere, while He is on the Throne, as He described Himself in His Book.)

    Ahmad and Tirmidhi transmitted it. (Al-Tirmidhi, Number 1513- taken from the ALIM CD-ROM Version)

    Narrated Ubayy ibn Ka'b
    In regard to the words of Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, "Your Lord brought forth their offspring from the loins of the children of Adam." (7:172) Ubayy said: He gathered them and paired them then fashioned them and endowed them with the power of speech and they began to speak. He then made an agreement and covenant with them. He made them bear witness about themselves (saying) Am I not your Lord. They said: Yes. He said: I call to witness seven heavens and seven earths regarding you ...

    Transmitted by Ahmad. (Al-Tirmidhi, Number 41- taken from the ALIM CD-ROM Version)

    Narrated AbuSa'id al-Khudri
    Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said that Moses asked his Lord to teach him something with which to make mention of Him or to supplicate Him, and was told to say, "There is no god but Allah." He replied to his Lord that all His servants said this, but he wanted something particularly for himself, and He said, "Moses, were the seven heavens and their inhabitants, apart from me, and the seven earths put on one side of a balance and ‘There is no god but Allah’ on the other, ‘There is no god but Allah’ would outweigh them."

    It is transmitted in Sharh as-Sunnah. (Al-Tirmidhi, Number 731- taken from the ALIM CD-ROM Version)

    Narrated Ya'la ibn Murrah
    Ya'la told of hearing Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) say, "If anyone wrongly takes a span of land, Allah, Who is Great and Glorious, will make him dig it till he gets to the end of seven earths, and then he will have it tied round his neck till the Day of Resurrection when men are judged."

    Ahmad transmitted it. (Al-Tirmidhi, Number 885- taken from the ALIM CD-ROM Version)

    Al-Baidawi comments:

    "'Stretched out the earth' means it was flattened in width and length so that feet may be steady on it and animals may roll on it." ('Abdallah 'Abd al-Fadi, Is the Quran Infallible?[Light of Life, PO Box 13, A-9503 Villach, Austria], p.19)

    In the book, Behind The Veil: Unmasking Islam, we are told:

    "These are the comments of the ancient Muslim scholars (i.e., Baidawi, Zamakhshari, Jalalan etc.) word for word. Even some Saudi scholars wrote a book a few years ago to disprove the spherical aspect of the earth and they claimed that it was a myth, agreeing with the above mentioned scholars, and said we must believe the Quran and reject the spherical aspect of the earth." (Ibid., p. 176)

    As the preceding citation stated, there have been several modern Saudian Muslim authorities frankly admitting that the Quran does indeed teach a flat earth. The following article is taken from Athar Shiraz Siddiqui's article The Earth According to Quran:

    The Earth According to Quran

    Islam and Science: Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality by Parvez Hoodbhoy: **** (Page 49)

    "... The Sheikh (Abdul Aziz Ibn Baz) authored ... a book in Arabic entitled Jiryan Al-Shams Wa Al-Qammar Wa-Sukoon Al-Arz. This translates into Motion of the Sun and Moon, and Stationarity of the Earth... In an earlier book, he had threatened dissenters with the dire fatwa or takfir (disbelief), but did not repeat the threat in the newer version."

    "The earth is flat. Whoever claims it is round is an atheist deserving of punishment." Yousef M. Ibrahim, "Muslim Edicts take on New Force", The New York Times, February 12, 1995, p. A-14.

    That is a well-known religious edict, or fatwa, issued two years ago by Sheik Abdel-Aziz ibn Baaz, the supreme religious authority of Saudi Arabia. The blind theologian's status gives his fatwas great weight, though his opinions have often raised eyebrows or embarrassed worldly Saudis…

    Also cited by Sagan "The Demon-haunted World", Carl Sagan, Ballantine, ISBN 0-345-40946-9, p. 325. I quote (as fair use):

    "In 1993, the supreme religious authority of Saudi Arabia, Sheik Abdel-Aziz ibn Baaz, issued a edict, or fatwah, declaring that the world is flat. Anyone of the round persuasion does not believe in God and should be punished."

    Hence, we see that Muslims both of the past and present affirm that the Quran clearly teaches that the earth is flat.

    Finally, the fact that the earth is a sphere is not something new since the Holy Bible already taught this centuries before the Quran was ever written:

    "Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place. That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it? It is turned as clay to the seal, and they stand as a garment." Job 38:12-14 KJV

    Dr. Henry Morris notes:

    "turned. This figurative expression refers to God's initiation of the earth's rotation and the day-night cycle. Each night, like a rotating clay cylinder exposing the impressions of the seal, the earth turns to the sun (or 'dayspring'), exposing the wicked and their works of the night." (Ibid, p. 593)

    "as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:12

    Dr. Morris claims:

    "…Here is a second figure applied to the limitless scope of God's forgiving grace. One can travel east (or west) forever without coming to its end. This perfectly fits the idea of a global earth." (Ibid, p. 648)

    "The wind blows to the south, and goes around to the north; round and round goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they continue to flow." Ecclesiastes 1:6-7

    Dr. Morris indicates:

    "This is a remarkable anticipation of the modern discovery of the world's great wind circuits, in the global circulation of the atmosphere." (Ibid., p. 701)

    Dr. Morris also comments on the statement in verse 7 on streams running into the sea:

    "…Similarly, this is an excellent summary of the earth's amazing hydrologic cycle, as confirmed scientifically only in modern times." (Ibid, p. 702)

    "He has described a circle (Hebrew- khug) on the face of the waters, at the boundary between light and darkness." Job 26:10

    "When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle ( khug) on the face of the deep." Proverbs 8:27

    "It is he who sits above the circle (khug) of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them like a tent to live in." Isaiah 40:22

    Again, Dr. Morris' comments on these last three passages:

    "... 'Compass' (Hebrew khug) is the same as 'circle' in Isaiah 40:22, as well as 'compassed' in Job 26:10. All three clearly refer to the roundness of the earth, especially to the spherical nature of sea level defining the global shape of the earth. The Bible never teaches a flat earth, though the charge is frequently made." (Ibid., p. 682)


    "... Hebrew khug is translated 'compassed' in Job 26:10 and 'compass' on Proverbs 8:27. All three, in context, clearly refer to the sphericity of the earth." (Ibid., p. 754)

    Scientists also tell us that the universe is expanding. Hence, the statement in Isaiah 40:22 that God stretches out the heavens is not far off from what scientists today tell us about the universe.

    The final biblical passage affirming that the earth is a sphere as well as rotating on its axis includes:

    I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together. Luke 17:34-36

    Dr. Morris observes:

    "...When the Lord comes, it will be at night when men are in bed. But it will also be early morn when women are grinding meal (Luke 17:35) and mid-day when men are working in the field (Luke 17:36). This is possible since the earth is round and rotating daily on its axis." (Ibid., p. 1116)


    Quran and the Speech of Ants

    Naik claims that the following event actually contains scientific information only recently discovered:

    We gave knowledge to David and Solomon: And they both said: "Praise be to Allah, Who has favored us above many of His servants who believe!" And Solomon was David's heir. He said: "O ye people! We have been taught the speech of birds, and we have been given of every thing: this is indeed Grace manifest (from Allah.)" And before Solomon were marshaled his hosts,- of Jinns and men and birds, and they were all kept in order and ranks. At length, when they came to a valley of ants, one of the ants said: O ye ants, get into your habitations, lest Solomon and his hosts crush you (under foot) without knowing it." So he smiled, amused at her speech; and he said: "O my Lord! So order me that I may be grateful for Thy favors, which Thou hast bestowed on me and on my parents, and that I may work the righteousness that will please Thee: and admit me, by Thy Grace, to the ranks of Thy Righteous Servants." And he took a muster of the Birds; and he said: "Why is it I see not the Hoopoe? Or is he among the absentees? I will certainly punish him with a severe punishment, or execute him, unless he bring me a clear reason (for absence)." But the Hoopoe tarried not far: he (came up and) said: "I have compassed which thou hast not compassed, and I have come to thee from Sabá with tidings true. I found (there) a woman ruling over them and provided with every requisite; and she has a magnificent throne. I found her and her people worshipping the sun besides Allah. Satan has made their deeds seem pleasing in their eyes, and has kept them away from the Path,- so they receive no guidance,- So that they worship not Allah, Who brings forth what is hidden in the heavens and the earth, and knows what ye hide and what ye reveal. Allah!- there is no god but He!- Lord of the Throne Supreme!" (Solomon) said: "Soon shall we see whether thou hast told the truth or lied! Go thou, with this letter of mine, and deliver it to them: then draw back from them, and (wait to) see what answer they return" ... (The Queen) said: "Ye chiefs! here is delivered to me - a letter worthy of respect. It is from Solomon, and is (as follows): 'In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful: Be ye not arrogant against me, but come to me in submission (to the true Religion).'" She said: "Ye chiefs! advise me in (this) my affair: no affair have I decided except in your presence." They said: "We are endued with strength, and given to vehement war: but the command is with thee; so consider what thou wilt command." She said: "Kings, when they enter a country, despoil it, and make the noblest of its people its meanest thus do they behave. But I am going to send him a present, and (wait) to see with what (answer) return (my) ambassadors." Now when (the embassy) came to Solomon, he said: "Will ye give me abundance in wealth? But that which Allah has given me is better than that which He has given you! Nay it is ye who rejoice in your gift! Go back to them, and be sure we shall come to them with such hosts as they will never be able to meet: We shall expel them from there in disgrace, and they will feel humbled (indeed)." He said (to his own men): "Ye chiefs! which of you can bring me her throne before they come to me in submission?" A stalwart of the Jinns said: "I will bring it to thee before thou rise from thy council: indeed I have full strength for the purpose, and may be trusted." Said one who had knowledge of the Book: "I will bring it to thee before ever thy glance returns to thee!" Then when (Solomon) saw it placed firmly before him, he said: "This is by the Grace of my Lord!- to test me whether I am grateful or ungrateful! and if any is grateful, truly his gratitude is (a gain) for his own soul; but if any is ungrateful, truly my Lord is Free of all Needs, Supreme in Honor !" He said: "Disguise her throne. Let us see whether she is guided (to the truth) or is one of those who are not rightly guided." So when she arrived, she was asked, "Is this thy throne?" She said, "It seems the same"; and knowledge was bestowed on us in advance of this, and we have submitted to Allah (in Islám). And he diverted her from the worship of others besides Allah: for she was (sprung) of a people that had no faith. She was asked to enter the lofty Palace: but when she saw it, she thought it was a lake of water, and she (tucked up her skirts), uncovering her legs. He said: "This is but a palace paved smooth with slabs of glass." She said: "O my Lord! I have indeed wronged my soul: I do (now) submit (in Islám), with Solomon, to the Lord of the Worlds." S. 27:15-44

    According to Naik, the statement regarding the ant's speech is in complete agreement with modern scientific discoveries that show that ants do in fact communicate among themselves in order to accomplish specific tasks. The problem with Naik's claim is that it overlooks the fact that this passage has ants, birds, demons and Solomon all communicating amongst themselves! Therefore, this passage indicates that Solomon and his animal friends all understood the language of the others!

    [Note: See the article Talking Ants in the Qur'an for a detailed discussion of Surah 27:18-19.]

    Interestingly, whereas Naik sees prescientific information in the preceding fable another Muslim, Muhammad Asad, actually allegorizes this passage in order to avoid the obvious absurdity of viewing this historically:

    "In this instance, Solomon evidently refers to his own understanding and admiration of nature (cf. 38:31-33 and the corresponding notes) as well as to his loving compassion for the humblest of God's creatures, as a great divine blessing: and this is the Qur'anic moral of the LEGENDARY story of the ant." (Asad, p. 578, f. 17)

    Now compare this fable with the credible historical version of the Holy Bible:

    "God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. Solomon's wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the men of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. He was wiser than any other man, including Ethan the Ezrahite-wiser than Heman, Calcol and Darda, the sons of Mahol. And his fame spread to all the surrounding nations. He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five. He described plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls He also taught about animals and birds, reptiles and fish. Men of all nations came to listen to Solomon's wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom." 1 Kings 4:29-34

    Furthermore, Naik conveniently forgets to mention that this Quranic fable is actually taken from the Jewish Targum of Esther, a source that is centuries older than the Quran. Compare the similarities above with the following Targumic fable:

    At another time, when the heart of Solomon was gladdened with wine, he gave orders for the beasts of the land, the birds of the air, the creeping things of the earth, the demons from above and the Genii, to be brought, that they might dance around him, in order that all the kings waiting upon him might behold his grandeur. And all the royal scribes summoned by their names before him; in fact, all were there except the captives and prisoners and those in charge of them. Just then the Red-cock, enjoying itself, could not be found; and King Solomon said that they should seize and bring it by force, and indeed he sought to kill it. But just then the cock appeared in presence of the King, and said: O Lord, King of the earth! having applied thine ear, listen to my words. It is hardly three months since I made a firm resolution within me that I would not eat a crumb of bread, nor drink a drop of water until I had seen the whole world, and over it make my flight, saying to myself, I must know the city and the kingdom which is not subject to thee, my Lord King. Then I found the fortified city Qîtôr in the Eastern lands, and around it are stones of gold and silver in the streets plentiful as rubbish, and trees planted from the beginning of the world, and rivers to water it, flowing out of the garden of Eden. Many men are there wearing garlands from the garden close by. They shoot arrows, but cannot use the bow. They are ruled by a woman, called Queen of Sheba. Now if it please my Lord King, thy servant, having bound up my girdle, will set out for the fort Qîtôr in Sheba; and having "bound their Kings with chains and their Nobles with links of iron," will bring them into thy presence. The proposal pleased the King, and the scribes prepared a despatch, which was placed under the bird's wing, and away it flew high up in the sky. It grew strong surrounded by a crowd of birds, and reached the Fort of Sheba. By chance the Queen of Sheba was out in the morning worshipping the sea; and the air being darkened by the multitude of birds, she became so alarmed as to rend her clothes in trouble and distress. Just then the Cock alighted by her, and she seeing the letter under its wing opened and read it as follows: "King Solomon sendeth to thee his salaam, and saith, The high and holy One hath set me over the beasts of the field, etc.; and the kings of the four Quarters send to ask after my welfare. Now if it please thee to come and ask after my welfare, I will set thee high above them all. But if it please thee not, I will send kings and armies against thee; — the beasts of the field are my people, the birds of the air my riders, the demons and genii thine enemies, — to imprison you, to slay and to feed upon you." When the Queen of Sheba heard it, she again rent her garments, and sending for her Nobles asked their advice. They knew not Solomon, but advised her to send vessels by the sea, full of beautiful ornaments and gems, together with 6000 boys and girls in purple garments, who had all been born at the same moment; also to send a letter promising to visit him by the end of the year. It was a journey of seven years but she promised to come in three. When at last she came, Solomon sent a messenger shining in brilliant attire, like the morning dawn, to meet her. As they came together, she stepped from her carriage. "Why dost thou thus?" he asked. "Art thou not Solomon?" she said. "Nay, I am but a servant that standeth in his presence." The queen at once addressed a parable to her followers in compliment to him, and then was led by him to the Court. Solomon hearing she had come, arose and sat down in the Palace of glass. When the Queen of Sheba saw it, she thought that the glass floor was water, and so in crossing over lifted up her garments. When Solomon seeing the hair about her legs, cried out to her: Thy beauty is the beauty of women, but thy hair is as the hair of men; hair is good in man, but in woman it is not becoming. On this she said: My Lord, I have three enigmas to put to thee. If thou canst answer them, I shall know that thou art a wise man: but if not thou art like all around thee. When he had answered all three, she replied, astonished: Blessed be the Lord thy God, who hath placed thee on the throne that thou mightest rule with right and justice. And she gave to Solomon much gold and silver; and he to her whatsoever she desired.

    The preceding story can also be found in its entirety in Bernard Grossfield's translation of the Targum of Esther (Second) (Targum Sheni) - Professor of Hebrew and Aramaic at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, and founding member of the Association for Targumic Studies. Published in 1991 by T & T CLARK LTD, Edinburgh, in co-operation with The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota 56321 USA. ISBN 0-567-09495-8

    That the story in the Targum clearly predates the Quran is easily seen from the following references. Professor Grossfield in his introduction to the origin of the Targum in its earliest identifiable form claims:

    The Targum of Esther is mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud and cited in the Tractrate Sopherim (Xlll:6). Thus its existence is in at least Amoraic times. {i.e. 4th Century}

    Professor Grossfield states that the origin of the Targum:

    Must have begun before the Christian era.

    The Jewish Encyclopedia 1925 edition by Funk & Wagnalls Company, Vol 12, p 63 referring to the same subject comments:

    In the Masseket Soferim (lc) a quotation from the Targum Sheni to Esther lll is introduced by the words 'Tirgem Tab Yosef' (Rabbi Joseph has translated)

    Thus, the fact that the Jerusalem Talmud quotes the Targum affirms that the latter must have been in existence at least before the time the Jerusalem Talmud was concluded.

    The Encyclopedea Judaica 1996 edition, Vol 15, p 772, commenting on the subject of the date of the Jerusalem Talmud's compilation states:

    Jerusalem Talmud was compiled about a century before the Babylonian in 500CE. Its close was entirely due to the situation which prevailed in (Erez) Israel. The activities of the main school, that of Tiberius, came to an end in 421 (CE)

    This further supports that the Targum Sheni existed in pre-Islamic times and at least early enough for the legend of the Queen of Sheba to have travelled to wherever the Jewish community had dispersed throughout Arabia.

    Furthermore, there are a number of authorities that link the legend of the Queen of Sheba to the famous Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus. Josephus was a 1st century AD historian and connects the legend as originating in Arabia or Greece prior to his time.

    The note on the legend of the Queen of Sheba in the translation to the Targum referred to above on page 117 we states:

    1d . 'The incident with the Queen of Sheba has its Biblical basis in 1 Kgs. 10:1-10 and 2 Chr. 9:1-12 In the Targum many parts of the story, such as the riddles, are expanded into detail, while others such as Benayahu's meeting with the queen, are newly created (* meaning created after the OT records) as is the incident involving the hair on the queen's legs and Solomon's comment about it. Post Biblical parallels for the story exist in the following

    a) Josephus (antiq viii, vi 5-6 pp 661-665), who refers to her as the queen of Egypt and Ethiopia. R Marcus in his note on this passage (Antiquitates Judaicae 1926 * ref abbreviated) theorizes that Josephus probably knew of some native Egyptian or Ethiopia tradition that connected the queen of the Arabian kingdom (since Sheba was a kingdom in southwestern Arabia according to Gen 10:28; Job 6:19 and Matt 12:42) with Egypt and Ethiopia as in Isa 43:3. He ascribes Josephus' opinion as originating with Herodotus or some Greek source, and being part of Ethiopic literature, where Menelik, the first monarch of Abyssinia was considered to be the son of Solomon and one, Makkeda, is identified with the Queen of Sheba.

    A note on page 118 of the same work states:

    Concerning the legend of the queen's hair on her legs, Ginsberg (legends Vol VI p289 n41) links it with an ancient Arabic legend about the story.

    Therefore, if the speech of ants is an indication of amazing scientific facts well ahead of its time, this would then affirm the inspiration of the Jewish Targums. The Quran clearly took this story from the Jewish Targums that had already been in circulation during the time of Muhammad, indicating that it was not Muhammad who was being inspired. Rather, it is Muhammad's sources that he used to form his Quran that actually contain alleged inspired scientific statements.

    (Note- The preceding citations taken and adapted from the following articles: [1] and [2])


    On the healing effects of Honey

    Naik claims that the Quran in S. 16:69 correctly identifies that honey has healing effects. Yet, as Campbell notes:

    Or the problem of verse 69 in the same Sura which reads,

    "A multicolored drink (honey) in which there is healing for men, comes out of (the bees) abdomen (butun)."

    What does it mean that honey comes out of the bee's abdomen, and what disease does honey heal? (Campbell, Middle East Resources PO Box 96, Upper Darby PA 19082, pp. 196-197 - see this related link.)

    Dr. Campbell's point is interesting when we consider the following tradition. According to Ibn Kathir, honey failed to cure a person of diarrhea three consecutive times in spite of Muhammad telling the person that it would heal him!:

    <in which there is a cure for men>

    meaning there is a cure in honey for diseases that people suffer from. Some of those who spoke about the study of Prophetic medicine said that if [Allah] had said, 'in which there is the cure for men,' then it would be the remedy for all diseases, but He said, 'in which there is cure for men,' meaning that it is the right treatment for every 'cold' disease, because it is 'hot', and a disease should be treated with its opposite.

    Al-Bukhari and Muslim recorded in their Sahihs from Qatadah from Abu Al-Mutawakkil 'Ali bun Dawud An-Naji from Abu Sa'id Al-Khudri that a man came to the Messenger of Allah and said, 'My brother is suffering from diarrhea.' He said,

    <Give him honey to drink>. The man went and gave him honey, then he came back and said, 'O Messenger of Allah! I gave him honey to drink, and he only got worse.' The Prophet said,

    Go and give him honey to drink. So he went and gave him honey, then he came back and said, 'O Messenger of Allah! It only made him worse.' The Prophet said,

    <Allah speaks the truth and your brother's stomach is lying. Go and give him honey to drink.> So he went and gave him honey, then he came back and said, 'O Messenger of Allah! it only made him worse.' The Prophet said,

    <Allah speaks the truth and your brother's stomach is lying. Go and give him honey to drink.>

    So he went and gave him honey, and he recovered.

    It is reported in the Two Sahihs from 'Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, that the Messenger of Allah used to like sweet things and honey. This is the wording of Al-Bukhari, who also reported in his Sahih from Ibn 'Abbas that the Messenger of Allah said:

    <Healing is to be found in three things: the cut made by the cupper, or drinking honey, or in branding with fire (cauterizing), but I have forbidden my Ummah to use branding.> (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) - Volume 5 Sura Hud to Surat Al-Isra', Verse 38 [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors Riyadh, Houston, New York, Lahore, July 2000], pp. 48-49; bold emphasis ours)

    We would like Naik to tell us how is it that honey failed to heal the man of diarrhea when Muhammad specifically told him that it would? Furthermore, in what way does cupping, i.e. bleeding a person, heal that person of disease? Finally, does honey actually heal a person of every cold disease as claimed above? We eagerly await Naik's answers.

    Finally, Dr. Campbell on cow's milk:

    We could go ahead and speak of other problems such as that found in the Late Meccan Sura of the Bee (Al-Nahl) 16:66 where it says that,

    "We pour out to you from what is within their (the cattle's) abdomen, between excretions and blood , milk - pure and agreeable to the drinkers."

    What can it possibly mean that milk comes from between the excrement and the blood? (Ibid.)


    The Barrier Barzakh

    Dr. Naik presumes that the Quran correctly identifies an invisible barrier that prevents salt and sweet water from mixing. The verses that Naik alludes to are:

    It is He Who has let free the two bodies of flowing water: one palatable and sweet, and the other salt and bitter; yet has He made a barrier between them, a partition that is not to be passed. S. 25:53

    He has let free the two Seas, meeting together: Between them is a Barrier which they do not transgress. S. 55:19-20

    The following citation is taken from Andy Bannister’s excellent article wherein he responds to one Muslim who made similar claims as that of Naik’s on S. 25:53:

    Now the Muslim with whom I was debating (subsequently backed up by several others) argued that:

    "the above verse of Quran clearly refers to the meeting between big rivers and the larger seas and oceans, where the river in some cases goes in the sea water for miles without mixing between the two entities of water. it is a well recognized phenomenon these days by scientist, also, the Quran clearly and undeniably points out to the reason for that, sweetness of one and saltiness of the other, in modern scientific terms, its differences in specific gravity between the two entities, which is also the explanation provided by modern scientist." (Suleiman, in thread "Scientific facts and Qur’an", soc.religion.islam, 4-Nov-99
    See etc.)

    However, when you compare the various English translations of the Qur’an, you begin to see that the verse is not talking about rivers, but bodies of water, according to the Arabic (I have a Muslim to thank for pointing this out to me):

    YUSUFALI: It is He Who has let free the two bodies of flowing water: One palatable and sweet, and the other salt and bitter; yet has He made a barrier between them, a partition that is forbidden to be passed.

    PICKTHAL: And He it is Who hath given independence to the two seas (though they meet); one palatable, sweet, and the other saltish, bitter; and hath set a bar and a forbidding ban between them.

    SHAKIR: And He it is Who has made two seas to flow freely, the one sweet that subdues thirst by its sweetness, and the other salt that burns by its saltness; and between the two He has made a barrier and inviolable obstruction.

    Now in order for a "modern scientific" interpretation to work, one has to insist these are not two seas or sheets of water, but that one is a river. The Arabic does not make that distinction. Why is this important? Because in order to find modern science in this verse, Suleiman et al have to insist that one body of water is a river (fresh water) and that one is an ocean (salt water). They can then introduce the idea of rivers of fresh water flowing into the seas and not mixing. Now, laying aside the issue of whether (as I would claim) or not (as Suleiman et al would claim) these two waters mix, there is a more fundamental issue. If the Arabic does not specify one is a river, then there is a much simpler interpretation:

    The first "sea" or "body of water" or "bahr" (in Arabic) in question is the Red Sea (close to Mecca and Medina) and known to Muhammad, which is salt water.
    The second "sea" or "body of water" or "bahr" in question could be any local sheet of fresh water (plenty of oases to choose from).
    These two "seas" or "bodies of water" or "bahr" are separated by land; this is the impassable barrier.
    Hence Sura 25:53 was actually a comment by Muhammad on the wondrous miracle (as he saw it), that Allah has seen fit to separate fresh and salt water.

    This interpretation has a number of advantages going for it over the position put forward by Suleiman and others who would claim a modern scientific miracle in this verse. The advantages are:

    Suleiman claimed that Muhammad had probably never seen a river flow into the sea (he "lived thousands of miles away from rivers and seas" according to Suleiman’s first post on 4-Nov-99) If Suleiman is correct in this statement, then this fits my latter interpretation above, as in Muhammad’s mind fresh water and salt water did not meet.
    It means that Sura 25:53 is applicable both to the time the verse was written (circa 600AD) and today; the Muslims who first read it could understand it and praise God for his provision, as can Muslims today. The alternative interpretation requires that this verse was meaningless for 1,300 years until those of us with the advantage of modern science could probably explain its meaning. Therefore the Qur’an was not relevant to all men at all time.
    It explains why Muhammad wrote Sura 25:53. Despite having no concept of rivers/oceans and mixing/non-mixing, he would, however, understand the importance of fresh water, and it is perfectly understandable why he sees a supply of fresh water, separate from undrinkable salt water, to be an example of Allah’s provision and therefore worthy of mention.

    In order to use Sura 25:53 to support the "modern science proves the Qur’an" position, then this latter interpretation needs to be rejected in favour of the former, with no real arguments in favour of the former interpretation other than it must be right because it is a miracle! (Note: Suleiman’s interpretation does not show that the Qur’an contains a miracle, merely that his interpretation of it is something special). (Source)

    Bannister’s comments on the two bodies of water/seas are references to the Red Sea and to any local fresh water, with the barrier referring to dry land is actually supported by Ibn Kathir!:

    <And it is He Who has let free the two seas, this is palatable and sweet, and that is salty and bitter;>

    means, He has created the two kinds of water, sweet and salty. The sweet water is like that in the rivers, springs and wells, which is fresh, sweet, palatable water. This was the view of Ibn Jurayj and of Ibn Jarir, and this is the meaning without a doubt, for nowhere in creation is there a sea which is fresh and sweet.

    Allah has told us about reality so that His servants may realize His blessings to them and give thanks to Him. The sweet water is that which flows amidst people. Allah has portioned it out among His creatures according to their needs; rivers and springs in every land, according to what they need for themselves and their lands.

    <and that is salty and bitter;> meaning that it is salty, bitter and not easy to swallow. This is like the seas that are known in the east and the west, the Atlantic Ocean and the Straits that lead to it, the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, the Persian Gulf, the China Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea and so on, all the seas that are stable and do not flow, but they swell and surge in the winter and when the winds are strong, and they have tides that ebb and flow. At the beginning of each month the tides ebb and flood, and when the month starts to wane they retreat until they go back to where they started. When the crescent of the following month appears, the tide decreases. Allah, may He be glorified, the One Whose power is absolute, has set these laws in motion, so all of these seas are stationary, and He has made their water salty lest the air turn putrid, because of them and the whole earth turn rotten as a result, and lest the earth spoil because of the animals dying on it. Because its water is salty, its air is healthy and its dead are good (to eat), hence when the Messenger of Allah was asked whether the sea water can be used for Wudu’, he said:

    <its water is pure and its dead are lawful.>

    This was recorded by Malik, Ash-Shafi’i and Ahmad, and by the scholars of Sunan with good [Jayyid] chain of narration.

    <and He set a barrier and a complete partition between them.>

    meaning, between the sweet water and saltwater.

    <a barrier> means a partition, which is DRY LAND.

    <and a complete partition> means, a barrier, to prevent one of them from reaching the other. This is like the Ayat:

    <He has let loose the two seas meeting together. Between them is a barrier which none of them can transgress. Then which of the blessings of your Lord will you both deny?> (55:19-21) (Tafsir Ibn Kathir - Abridged Volume 7 Srat An-Nur to Surat Al-Ahzab, Verse 50, pp. 184-186; bold emphasis ours)

    Therefore, what was stated to be a scientific statement way ahead of its time turns out to be a thing easily observed by anyone. Instead of this barrier being something invisible to the naked eye, it actually turns out to be nothing more than dry land. The problems do not end just yet. Dr. Willaim Campbell notes:

    The phrase "a partition that it is forbidden to pass" represents two words from the same root. This is done in Arabic to stress or accent whatever is being discussed. The word "Hijr" means - forbidden, interdicted, prohibited, all very strong words, and the second word which is the past participle of the verb has the same meanings. Therefore very literally one might translate this as "He (God) made between them a bar and a forbidden forbidding".

    Dr. Bucaille discusses this briefly, but Dr. Torki devotes two and a half pages to it with a long discussion of osmotic pressure and how it is proved with U-tubes and semi-permeable membranes in the laboratory. He then concludes by saying,

    "Muhammad had neither laboratory, nor research equipment to discover all these mysteries and understand this barrier clearly cited in the Qur'an. This proves another time that this book was not written by the hand of man, but is the work of the One God."

    However, the question must again be asked, are we not faced with an observable phenomenon? Is it not presented as a known fact showing the favor of the Lord? Do not all the fishermen who fish at the outlets of rivers which empty into salt water know this fact?

    While trading for Khadija, Muhammad took trips as far as Aleppo, north of Damascus in Syria. Is it not probable that at some time during these trips Muhammad went down to the coast in Syria or Lebanon; or talked to a seaman who knew that the waters were still unmixed far out in the Mediterranean?

    In his latest book Dr. Bucaille, himself, praises primitive people for their skill in observing and classifying. He writes,

    "The naturalists tell how they have been impressed by the accuracy with which certain primitive tribes, having received no outside education in the subject, succeed nevertheless in distinguishing the animal species which surround them, and arriving at a classification almost worthy of an expert."

    Surely it is correct to assume that if they can observe the animals with such skill, then they can also observe the other natural phenomena which surround them such as sweet water far out at sea.

    Frankly, to read these verses as expressing modern scientific knowledge can raise more problems than it solves, because such an interpretation will also demand 20th century scientific accuracy of measurement. When God makes "a barrier and a partition that it is forbidden to pass", it sounds like a 100% prohibition. Shall we understand and translate this verse as "These waters shall never mix!"?

    In fact there is no "bar", no semi-permeable membrane, in the sea forbidding the mixing of the two and the forces are actually in favor of mixing.

    A scientist friend commenting on this said,

    "It is simply that the salt and fresh water are physically separated (the effluent from the river displacing the sea water), but there is no barrier. Thermodynamically or energetically - the mixing is a spontaneous, immediate process, highly favored by entropy considerations. The only "barrier" is kinetic, in that it takes a little time to mix that much 'stuff' together."

    Dr. Bucaille recognizes this, so he has added a qualifying fact, another tiny "basic assumption". He writes, "the mixing of their waters (the rivers) with the salt water usually does not take place until far out at sea." (Campbell, pp. 166-167)

    Therefore, both the Quran and Ibn Kathir are simply wrong especially in light of Ibn Kathir’s comments above:

    "... for nowhere in creation is there a sea which is fresh and sweet."


    <and a complete partition> means, a barrier, to prevent one of them from reaching the other.



    Naik proposes the theory that in order for a person's claims to be proven correct, one must provide a falsification test whereby the claim or theory can be proven false. If the claim or theory passes the falsification test then the claim is proven correct. Accordingly, the Quran provides its own falsification test.

    On Abu Lahab Perishing

    Naik, much like Jamal Badawi and Shabir Ally before him, claims that the Quran contains a prophecy in Surah 111. Naik uses this as his falsification test, i.e. a way in which one can disprove the Quran's claims of inspiration.

    Accordingly, this surah states that a certain man and his wife will perish as unbelievers. This was uttered at a time when no one but God could say who will or will not become believers later on. As one Muslim states:

    Many of the most severe opponents in the early days became devoted followers in later days. But not this couple. They tried everything to oppose, ridicule, and disprove the Qur'an. One would expect that they would also pretend to become believers just to throw doubt on the accuracy of the Qur'an. But they did not apply this obvious strategy. What prevented them, if not the power of God and the truth of His word? In this way many prophecies were fulfilled, and not one has ever failed. This gives us every reason to place our full confidence in the book of God.

    Let us read the passage first and examine it from there:

    Perish the hands of Abu Lahab! Perish he! No profit to him from all his wealth; and all his gains! Burnt soon will he be in a fire of blazing flame! His wife shall carry the (crackling) wood - as fuel - a twisted rope of palm-leaf fiber round her (own) neck! S. 111:1-5 (Early Meccan surah)

    Presumably, this prophecy could not have been within the grasp of Muhammad's foresight, seeing that Lahab died in unbelief sometime thereafter. Hence, as the citation above states, all Lahab had to do in order to destroy Muhammad's credibility as a Prophet was to embrace Islam hypocritically, turning the latter's claim into a false prophecy.

    There are at least six fundamental problems with this assertion:

    Amazingly, the Quran affirms that all humanity, whether believers or not, shall be cast into hell:

    There will be no one of you who will not enter it (Hell). This was an inevitable decree of your Lord. Afterwards he MAY save some of the pious, God-fearing Muslims out of the burning fire. S. 19:71-72

    Arberry's translation reads:

    No one of you there is, but he shall go down to it. That for thy Lord is a thing decreed, determined. Then We shall deliver these that were God-fearing; and the evildoers We shall leave there, hobbling on their knees.

    Other translations include:

    "There is not one of you who shall not pass through the confines of Hell …" N. J. Dawood

    "No one is there of you who shall not go down unto it …" J. M. Rodwell

    To circumvent this, it is alleged that the passage is speaking about a Muslim passing over hell via the bridge Sirat, and will not actually go down to the flames. Unfortunately, this again is unsubstantiated for the two reasons listed below:

    1. The Quran never mentions this bridge, and it is derived from the Islamic Traditions, which at times contradicts the very testimony of the Quran itself.
    2. S. 19:72 clearly states that Allah "may save some of the pious, God-fearing Muslims out of the burning fire," affirming the fact that all shall enter into it and not simply pass over it.

    In the Mishkat we are told:

    "Ibn Masud said that the Prophet of Islam said: All people shall enter hell. Then they will come out of it according to their works. Those who will come out first will do so like a flash of lightening, the next like a gaze of wind, then like a horse at full speed, afterwards like a swift rider, then like a man springing, and, finally, like the walk of a man." (Transmitted by Tirmidhi and Darimi)


    This verse [S. 19:71] condemns all to Jahannam; both the righteous and unrighteous, pious and impious, believers in one God and believers in many gods; and nothing is said about coming out! [sic] Tabari has said in his commentary on this verse: "Not one of you people there is, but he shall go down to Jahannam; it is a judgment decreed from your Lord, Muhammad, to bring the down to it. He has pronounced this and decreed it in the mother of the Book [namely, the original text of the Book from which the Quran derives its revelation]." Al-Bukhari and others (Tawhid 24; Muslim, Iman 302, 323; al-Darimi, Riqaq 89; Ahmad b. Hanbal, III. 17, 25, VI. 110) have related: "People will go down to Jahannam and they will go out of it by their works; some like a wink of an eye, some like wind, some like a rider that is earnestly traveling, and still some like a man that is walking vigorously" (see al-Qurtubi's commentary on this verse). Al-Tabari said in his commentary: "Abu Kuraib told us that Ibn Yaman said, on the strength of Ibn Maghul and Ibn Ishaq: 'Abu Maisara used to say, while reclining to sleep: "I would that my mother had not given birth to me." Thereupon he was asked: "Maisara, what makes you cry?" He said: "[Muhammad] has told us that we will go down to it, but has not told us that we will come out of it."'" Ibn Hamid said: "Hakam told us, on the strength of Ishmael and Qais, 'Abdallah b. Rawaha wept when he was taken ill, and his wife wept as well. He said: "What makes you weep?" She said: "I saw you weeping, therefore I wept also." Ibn Rawaha said: "I learned that I am going down to hell, and do know whether I will be saved from it, or not"'" (see the commentaries of al-Tabari, al-Qurtubi, and al-Zamakhashari on this verse). Everyone, therefore is going to hell, and will come out later according to his works. "Had your Lord willed, He would have made mankind one nation; but they continue in their differences, except those whom your Lord has mercy. To that end He created them, and perfectly is fulfilled the word of your Lord: 'I shall surely fill Jahannam with jinn and men all together'" (Sura Hud 11:118, 119). (The True Guidance—Comments on Quranic Verses [Light of Life, P.O. Box 13, A-9503 Villach, Austria 1994], part 5, p. 208)

    The following is taken from Dr. William Campbell's Book


    Finally, to close this Chapter we shall look at the attitude of two of the earliest and greatest Muslims, which shows how they were feeling as death approached. Jens Christensen, after many years of Islamic studies, wrote,

    "One of the things that often surprised me in my first studies of Islam was the note of despondency and insecurity that is found in the deathbed utterances of so many of Islam's great men.

    "Abu Bakr, for example, was a prince among men, of sterling character and a true Muslim. Yet it is said of him that he was so fearful of the future and labored so much under distress that his breath was often as of a roasted liver. According to two traditions he is supposed to have said to Aisha on the day of his death,

    'Oh my daughter, this is the day of my release and of obtaining of my desert:---if gladness it will be lasting; if sorrow it will never cease.'[12]

    "Do you see those two "ifs"? Nothing in Islam can remove them; not even the fact that Abu Bakr was given the title

    'Atiq (Free) because Muhammad is supposed to have told him: You are free (saved) from the fire."

    T. P. Hughes quotes Omar as saying, "It had gone hard with my soul, if I had not been a Muslim"[13], but in telling of Omar's death Christensen writes,

    "when Omar was lying on his deathbed, he is reported to have said, '...I am not other than as a drowning man who sees a possibility of escape with life, and hopes for it, but fears he may die and lose it, and so plunges about with hands and feet. More desperate than the drowning man is he who at the sight of heaven and hell is buried in the vision...Had I the whole East and West, gladly would I give up all to be delivered from this awful terror that is hanging over me. And finally touching his face against the ground he cried aloud: 'Alas for Omar, and alas for the mother of Omar, if it should not please the Lord to pardon me."

    "Do you see Omar's difficulty? it is the uncertainty expressed in the "if" of the last sentence. That "if" does not express any feeling of uncertainty regarding Omar's faith, Omar's belief in one God, Omar's trust and confidence in the prophet, or Omar's lack of having lived a moral life. All of these things are in order as far as a human being could do that which is right.

    "No. The "if" refers to Allah; "if" it should not please the Lord to pardon him".


    "When Yazid was burying Omar his father, he is quoted as saying: 'I will not magnify him before the Almighty in whose presence he has gone to appear. If He forgives him it will be of His mercy; if He takes vengeance on him, it will be for his transgressions.'

    "Here again you have the two "ifs"
    If Allah forgives...
    If Allah takes vengeance...

    "This remark of Yazid's seems to me to epitomize the whole of Islam."[14]

    "No man from Muhammad himself, right down to the least educated non-Arabic speaking Muslim who knows only a few prayers, would ever presume to know, or dare to predict what "if" will mean for him."[15]

    Or to put it another way, Allah demands complete submission from each man, but He never commits Himself in any revealed way to His servants as individuals. There is no way that a man can know whether he will be saved or not.

    This uncertainty is seen clearly in the middle Meccan sura of the Poets (Al-Shu'ara') 26:82, where Abraham speaks of,

    "The Lord of the Worlds...Who will cause me to die and then to live (Abraham believes this and is sure of it); and Who, I hope (atma'u), will forgive me my sins on the day of judgement." (For his forgiveness he can only say, "I hope so")

    In verse 52 of the same Sura, Moses and Aaron say to Pharaoh,

    "We hope (natma'u) that our Lord will forgive us our sins."

    And in 17:57, as we saw above

    "even those (the angels and prophets) who are nearest. They hope (yarjuna) for his mercy and fear his wrath."

    Finally three more verses from the Qur'an state very clearly that even those who have done their best are given only a "maybe" from Allah. In the late Meccan Sura of the Narration (Al-Qasas) 28:67, Allah says to his believers,

    "But as for him who shall repent and believe and do right, perhaps ('asa an) he may be one of the successful."

    The same idea is repeated in the Sura of the Forbidding (Al-Tahrim) 66:8 from 7 AH, where the believers are told, "O ye who believe, Repent toward Allah with a sincere repentance. It may be ('asa an) that your Lord will remit from you your evil deeds and admit you to gardens beneath which rivers flow."

    In the Sura of Repentance (Al-Tauba) 9:18 from 9 AH, almost the end of the Qur'an, Allah says,

    "Those only shall worship in the Mosques of Allah, who believe in Allah and the last day and observe proper worship and give alms and fear none except Allah; and it might be ('asa an) that these are of the rightly guided."

    In the end, it is a very lonely choice. If a person does not believe, then he is sure to go to hell; but even if he does believe, on the day of judgement, he stands there all by himself in front of Allah. There is no intercessor or friend, and he can only hope that maybe, perhaps, he might be among the blessed. (Campbell, pp. 297-299)

    Muhammad himself was uncertain of his salvation and feared the possibility that he would fall from the favor of God. This fact is brought out in both the Quran and the hadith:

    And surely they had purposed to turn you away from that which We have revealed to you, that you should forge against Us other than that, and then they would certainly have taken you for a friend. And had it not been that We had already established you, you would certainly have been near to incline to them a little; In that case We would certainly have made you to taste a double (punishment) in this life and a double (punishment) after death, then you would not have found any helper against Us. 17:73-75 Shakir

    These are very harsh words and seem to assert that Muhammad was uncertain about his role at times. Zamakhshari comments on this passage:

    (As the occasion for the proclamation of this passage) the following is related: The (members of the tribe) Thaqif said to the Prophet: 'We will not join your cause unless you grant to us conditions which we can extol to (other) Arabs, namely, that the tithe not be demanded from us, that we not be expelled (from our hereditary habitats), that we not be required to throw ourselves down in prayer, that (in spite of prohibition against usury) we be paid all interest on money borrowed from us but that all interest be exempted for those to whom we are indebted, that you permit us to continue to manage the shrine of (the goddess) al-Lat for one more year and that after the year we not be required to destroy it with our own hands, and that you assume protection against those who break into our valley Wajj to take away the (sacred) trees. If the (other) Arabs ask you why you have made these (concessions), then say: "God has commanded me to do it."' Now they brought their document and Muhammad ordered to be written: 'In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. This is a writing from Muhammad, the Messenger of God, to (the tribe) Thaqif. The members of this tribe are not required to pay the tithe and will not be expelled.' (As the scribe reached this point) they said: '(Now continue)' "And they are not required to prostrate themselves (at prayer)."' But the Messenger of God remained silent (and did not continue to dictate), so they said to the scribe: 'Write: "And they are not required to prostrate themselves (at prayer)!"' At that, the scribe looked at the Messenger of God, and 'Umar ibn Khattab rose up drawing his sword and said: 'Men of (the tribe) Thaqif you have set the heart of the Prophet on fire!' But they replied: 'We are not speaking with you, but with Muhammad.' Thereupon the present verses came down.

    (Also) it is related that the (unbelieving members of the tribe) Quraish said to Muhammad: 'Change a verse of mercy into a verse of punishment and a verse of punishment into a verse of mercy in order that we may believe in you!' Thereupon the present verses came down.

    Indeed they were near to seducing thee:… The meaning is: Those who were involved in the affair had almost deluded you, that is, through misleading infatuation.

    From that We for our part as a command and prohibition a well as promise and warning revealed to thee, that thou mightest forge against Us another: so that you would say something that we have not said in a manner that will be falsely judged as against us. What is meant is the change of promise which the (members of the tribe) of the Quraish had demanded of Muhammad, and also the imperious proposal of the (tribe) Thaqif that Muhammad should ascribe something to God which had not been sent down upon him.

    And then, that is, if you had complied with their wish, they would surely have taken thee as a friend, and you would have become their intimate friend (wali) and would have lost the relationship of confidence with me.

    And had We not confirmed thee: had not our strengthening and protection ('isma) been with you.

    Surely thou wert near to inclining unto them: you had almost inclined towards their deception and cunning. Here God gives to the Prophet encouragement and gracious strengthening, wherein lies an act of mercy for the believers ... (Gätje, The Qur'an and Its Exegesis, pp. 73-74)

    Hence, we discover another time where Muhammad is seen compromising his message in order to please the unbelieving Arabs.

    Narrated Abu Huraira:

    I heard Allah's Apostle saying, "The good deeds of any person will not make him enter Paradise." (i.e., None can enter Paradise through his good deeds.) They (the Prophet's companions) said, 'Not even you, O Allah's Apostle?' He said, "Not even myself, unless Allah bestows His favor and mercy on me." So be moderate in your religious deeds and do the deeds that are within your ability: and none of you should wish for death, for if he is a good doer, he may increase his good deeds, and if he is an evil doer, he may repent to Allah." (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 70, Number 577)

    Narrated Abu Huraira:

    Allah's Apostle said, "The deeds of anyone of you will not save you (from the (Hell) Fire)." They said, "Even you (will not be saved by your deeds), O Allah's Apostle?" He said, "No, even I (will not be saved) unless and until Allah bestows His Mercy on me. Therefore, do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately, and worship Allah in the forenoon and in the afternoon and during a part of the night, and always adopt a middle, moderate, regular course whereby you will reach your target (Paradise)." (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 76, Number 470)

    Narrated 'Um al-'Ala:

    An Ansari woman who gave the pledge of allegiance to the Prophet that the Ansar drew lots concerning the dwelling of the Emigrants. 'Uthman bin Maz'un was decided to dwell with them (i.e. Um al-'Ala's family), 'Uthman fell ill and I nursed him till he died, and we covered him with his clothes. Then the Prophet came to us and I (addressing the dead body) said, "O Abu As-Sa'ib, may Allah's Mercy be on you! I bear witness that Allah has honored you." On that the Prophet said, "How do you know that Allah has honored him?" I replied, "I do not know. May my father and my mother be sacrificed for you, O Allah's Apostle! But who else is worthy of it (if not 'Uthman)?" He said, "As to him, by Allah, death has overtaken him, and I hope the best for him. By Allah, though I am the Apostle of Allah, yet I do not know what Allah will do to me," By Allah, I will never assert the piety of anyone after him. That made me sad, and when I slept I saw in a dream a flowing stream for 'Uthman bin Maz'un. I went to Allah' s Apostle and told him of it. He remarked, "That symbolizes his (good) deeds." (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 266)

    Narrated Abu Huraira:

    When Allah revealed the Verse: "Warn your nearest kinsmen," Allah's Apostle got up and said, "O people of Quraish (or said similar words)! Buy (i.e. save) yourselves (from the Hellfire) as I cannot save you from Allah's Punishment; O Bani Abd Manaf! I cannot save you from Allah's Punishment, O Safiya, the Aunt of Allah's Apostle! I cannot save you from Allah's Punishment; O Fatima bint Muhammad! Ask me anything from my wealth, but I cannot save you from Allah's Punishment." (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 51, Number 16)

    In fact, Muslims are commanded to pray for their prophet's peace and well-being:

    "Lo! Allah and his angels pray (Arabic- yasalluuna) for the Prophet. O ye that believe! Pray for him (salluu alayhi) and salute him with all respect (sallimuu tasliimaa)." S. 33:56

    We must ask how can Muhammad possibly benefit believers in the way Jesus does seeing that he constantly needs the prayers of his followers? Christians do not pray for Jesus, but pray to Jesus:

    "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it." John 14:13-14

    Hence, Abu Lahab perishing in hell is not prophetic at all. Even Muslims shall enter into the fiery flames with no assurance of ever coming out, since no one ever knows if his works will suffice for his exiting hell.

    For example, J. Barth writes:

    It seems unlikely to me that this sura, directed against Abu Lahab, the prophet's uncle, is among the oldest. Admittedly, the perfect tense tabbat in verse 1 may be a wish or curse; but ma 'aghna 'anhu maluhu in verse 2 points - in accordance with standard linguistic usage of the Koran - to something that has already happened (cf. Suras VII.46, XV.84, and XXVI.207, among others), whereas the imperfect yughni is always used in the case of future events. For a perfect representing a curse, la 'aghna would have been used.

    The sura therefore includes an expression of triumph over the death of Abu Lahab, which was already past. According to Ibn Hisham, it is supposed to have occurred about seven days after the battle of Badr. Furthermore, a few Islamic authors date the sura in a fairly late period, some of them even put it in the eighth year of the Hijra (when, however, Abu Lahab was long since dead), others put it in other years. (Barth, "Criticism and Exegesis of the Koran", What the Koran Really Says, edited by Ibn Warraq [Prometheus Books, October, 2002, Hardcover; ISBN: 157392945X], part 6.1, p. 403)


    "... The sequence (i.e., verses 1-4) shows that verse 4 means that in Hell she must gather the wood for the glowing fire (comp. Baydawi, ad loc.), and not that in her lifetime she was carrying wood, that is to say, thorns, and strewing them in the way of the Prophet (as some commentators explain it: comp. for example Tabari, Tafsir, xxx. 192, and Baydawi, ad. loc.), nor that in her lifetime she used to spread insults on Muhammad's poverty.... The sura is generally considered as a Meccan one (the preterit tabbat used for the prediction of the future perdition; comp. Baydawi to Koran. XI.17) Nöldeke counts it amongst the oldest Meccan Suras. Still the wording of verse 2: Ma aghna 'anhu maluhu shows, according to to the unexceptional way of expression in the Koran, something that had already happened (comp. VII.46; XV.84; XXVI.207, passim), for in case of future events the imperfect tense (yughni) is always used; neither is there any parallel to the usage Ma aghna as a preterite future. According to such a wording this sura contains consequently a triumphant outcry over the already happened death of Abu Lahab, and could be composed only some time after the battle of Badr." (Ibid., p. 432, fn. 13)

    Thus, even the grammatical reason of the verb tense employed refutes this from being a genuine prophecy.

    Seeing that we are discussing Abu Lahab and hell, it is interesting to note that the Quran also teaches that it is the foreordained will of Allah to fill hell with both jinn and men:

    And if your Lord had so willed, He could surely have made mankind one nation but they will not cease to disagree - Except him on whom your Lord has bestowed His mercy and for that did He create them. And the word of your Lord shall be fulfilled: "Surely, I shall fill Hell with jinns and men together." S. 11:118-119

    Also in S. 32:13 we read:

    If We had so willed, We could certainly have brought every soul its true guidance: But the Word from Me will come true, "I will fill Hell with jinns and men all together."


    "Many are the jinns and men We have made for Hell..." S. 7:179

    This is in direct contrast with the Holy Bible where the Lord Jesus indicates that Hell was created originally for Satan and his angelic host, not for humanity. (cf. Matthew 25:34, 41)

    On the Drowning of Pharaoh

    Naik and others often allude to the fact that in S. 10:90-91 the Quran foretells the drowning, preservation and discovery of the body of the Pharaoh of the Exodus. Yet, this statement is not entirely correct. Scholars are in disagreement over the identity of the Pharaoh of the Exodus. Some scholars are of the opinion that the Exodus took pace in the 19th dynasty period of Egypt, making Seti 1 and Rameses 2 the Pharaohs of the oppression and Exodus.

    Others, citing 1 Kings 6:1 as evidence, believe that the Exodus took place in 1446 BC. This is due primarily to the statement in 1 Kings that Israel's deliverance from Egypt took place 430 years before "The fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel" (i.e. 966 BC.). This would make Thutmose 3 and his son Amunhotep 2 the Pharaohs of that period.

    This is a fact with which at least one Muslim commentator agrees:

    Lit. 'We shall save thee in thy body': Probably an allusion to the ancient Egyptian custom of embalming the bodies of their kings and nobles and thus preserving them for posterity. Some Egyptologists assume that the 'evil Pharaoh' of the Quran and the Bible was Ramses II (about 1324-1258 B.C.), while others identify him with his unlucky predecessor, Tut-ankh-amen, or even with Thotmes (or Thutmosis) III, who lived in the 15th century B.C. However, all these 'identifications' are purely speculative and have no definitive historical value. In this connection it should be remembered that the designation 'Pharaoh' (fir'awn in Arabic) is not a proper name but a title born by all the kings of ancient Egypt." (Asad, p. 306, f. 112)

    Finally, the story of Pharaoh's repentance at the face of destruction was not a new revelation. The Talmud documented this story long before the Quran was ever compiled.

    Perceive the great power of repentance! Pharaoh, king of Egypt, uttered very wicked words - 'Who is the god whose voice I shall obey? (Exod. 5:2). Yet as he repented, saying. 'Who is like unto thee among the gods?' (Exod. 15:2). God saved him from death; for it saith; Almost had I stretched out my hands and destroyed; but God let him live, that he might declare his power and strength.' " (Pirke Rabbi Elieazer, xliii; Midrash Yalkut, ccxxxviii - see also T.P. Hughes, Dictionary of Islam [Kazi Publications Inc., Chicago Il. 1994], p. 241)

    The late Syed Abu-Ala' Maududi concedes the fact that the Quranic story of the drowning of the Pharaoh at S. 10:90-91 finds parallels in the Talmud:

    "…Though this is not mentioned in the Bible, it is explicitly recorded in the Talmud in the following words: 'Who is like Thee, O Lord, among the gods?'" (Towards Understanding the Qur'an-Vol. IV, Surahs 10-16, an english translation of Tafhim al-Qur'an by Zafar Ishaq, assisted by A.R. Kidwai [The Islamic Foundation (printed and bound in Great Britain by the Cromwell Press), rpt. 1999], p. 63, n. 91)

    Using Muslim logic we are once again forced to conclude that God revealed the Talmud to the Rabbis since they knew of Pharaoh's body being preserved even before the Quran was written!


    Here are some links regarding the issue of the Quran and Science:

    Qur'an and Science
    Qur'an, Islam and Science
    The Qur'an and the Bible in the light of history and science
    Can "Modern Science" be found in the Qur’an?
    Science in the Quran Chapter 1 : "From a Gaseous Mass to the Heavens and the Earth"
    Science in the Quran Chapter 2 : "The Fusing and Separating of the Heavens and the Earth"
    Science in the Quran Chapter 5 : "How Old is the Earth?"
    Science in the Quran Chapter 6 : "Interstellar Galactic Material"
    Science in the Quran Chapter 10 : Comparing Apples and Oranges
    Science in the Quran Chapter 10 : Comparing Apples and Oranges
    Science in the Quran Chapter 13 : "What Shape is the Earth?"

    Here are some regarding the Holy Bible and Science:

    That Amazing Book
    Biblical Forecasts of Scientific Discoveries
    God's inspired message to man. Scientific evidences to prove it!!!
    Stephen Hawking's Universe Implodes
    Christian Response To: The Flat-Earth Bible
    Science in the Quran, Chapter 3 : "Avoiding the Mistakes of Genesis"
    Science in the Quran, Chapter 4 : "Six Days of Creation or Six Periods?"
    Science and Faith Web Pages
    Embryology: The Bible Plagiarises Ancient Greek Literature
    Embryology: The Bible Plagiarises Ancient Greek Literature

    This concludes our second part. Continue with Part 3.

    Responses to Zakir Naik
    Further articles by Sam Shamoun
    Answering Islam Home Page