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Summary of 10.7  "Source of the Quran VI - Religious Illusions II"

Last week we discussed the theory that claims that the Quran was a sort of vision and that the Prophet sincerely thought was true but that it emanated from his own subconscious.  We indicated that he content of the Quran includes prophecies that came to pass bout the minutest detail which doesn’t proceed from one’s own thinking.  Secondly, we mentioned that the Quran contains certain passages which blame the Prophet and correct him even though his mistakes were innocent interpretation with good intentions.  We indicated that he suffered himself with accusations made against his wife.  He couldn’t say anything about it for a whole month till the revelation came down.  If he were to author it he could have said something and gotten himself out of this difficulty.  Third, there were some passages of the Quran which had wisdom which came much later.  People would ask him about it and he would not be able to answer till later when the revelation came to clarify the issue.  Again how could one’s own self revelation reveal something that he himself can not understand.


10.8     Source of the Quran VII - Learning from Others

Host:  Could the Prophet have learned the Quran from some other source?

Jamal Badawi:

First of all, a part of the answer was covered in a previous program.  This assumption implies that the Prophet did not tell the truth when he said that the Quran came from Allah.  We have already analyzed from the study of his own character, recognition of his own enemy that this is not the type of person who falsifies things.  If the Prophet learned the Quran or the teachings of Islam from somebody then who is that person and in what context.  First of all, the Prophet was unlettered and did not know how to read or write until he died.  Second, we know that he was raised in a community that was predominantly pagan and was not a community that believed in some form of monotheism.  Indeed if one were to be skeptical he should be lease skeptical towards Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

For example the case of Moses and Jesus (PBUH).  Moses was raised in the midst of the house of a Pharaoh during civilization and a time of religious discussions  So if anyone was skeptical they could say that Moses might have learned from someone.  Jesus was raised in Jerusalem in the heart of Hebrew tradition, learned allot and according to the New Testament he engaged in lots of discussions with the Jewish scholars.  I am not saying that there is any reason to doubt them because in the Quran both Moses and Jesus are considered to be Prophets of Allah who received revelation from God.  I am simply saying that if there were any questions raised they are least applicable to the case of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who was unlettered and raised in a community who was raised in an environment which was not monotheistic in orientation.


Host:  Were there any exceptions to the predominantly pagan community around the Prophet?

Jamal Badawi:

In any community there are exceptions.  We can not say 100% of the people in that community were pagan.  Again we are talking about the predominant atmosphere and culture.  Some historians refer to a minor exception who don’t really have any significance.  They refer to a few individuals who used to call themselves Hanafies, people who did not participate in the mode of idol worship and who had a different way of contemplating but they did not constitute a religion as they did not have a church, scriptures or a set of teachings.  This is far from having any relevance to the comprehensive coverage of the Quran.  This is far from the various aspects of the Quran and the various aspects of history, creed, the hear after, life, economic, social and political aspects of life.  There is nothing that can really be correlated, and there is no historical record of what they believed in.  It was just a vague feeling of monotheism which might have trickled down to them from the days of Abraham and Ishmael.

In addition one can not eliminate the fact that there were already a few individuals who may not have necessarily been pagans but who may have had Christians backgrounds.  Those few people as historians tell us were not necessarily a predominant culture an did not mingle much with the other Qurishites.  These people were not allowed to reside near the Kaaba because it was the most holy shrine even among pagans so they kept them on the outskirts of the city of Mecca.  In addition they were among the illiterate people from mostly served as workers and servant but not people who had any influence on the culture and they didn’t have a level of learning where they could have possibly been responsible.  This kind of caliber could not possibly explain the comprehensiveness coverage and wisdom of the Quran.  In fact the Quran refers to some of the unfounded accusations that the Pagans made with a very strong rebuttal.


Host:  What does the Quran have to say and the nature of the rebuttals in the Quran?

Jamal Badawi:

Some of those who were really desperate to discredit the Prophet wanted to find a way to disclaim the divine source of the Quran.  They started throwing out all kinds of accusations one of which was to make doubt in the case that they could not prove that the Quran was not from a divine source.  They said that he learned from a Christian Roman blacksmith.  This person was real and he used to work in his shop, the Prophet used to be curious about his work and would watch the blacksmith work.  Aside from the fact that it is unreasonable to assume that in the midsts of fire, banging and smoke that the Prophet would learn from an illiterate person all the high concepts of monotheism that we find in the Quran and all its content which organizes human life and the concepts which relate to the creator.  This is totally irrelevant.

The Quran puts it very nicely and shows an important logical flow for this accusation which appears in Surah (16:103) “We know indeed that they say, “It is a man that teaches him.” The tongue of him they wickedly point to is notably foreign, while this is Arabic, pure and clear.”  This fellow actually only knew broken Arabic, so how could a person with that foreign tongue with broken Arabic be the teacher of the Prophet in producing a Book which challenged the most eloquent of the eloquent to produce something similar to it.  It is similar to saying that a Chinese immigrant in Britain was the one who taught Shakespeare.  This just doesn’t make any sense at all.  These are examples of people who were known not to be pagan but there was obviously no grounds to relate that the source of the Quran was from them.


Host:  Were there other Jews or Christians in Mecca who were perhaps more learned and to what extent was the Prophet in contact with these people?

Jamal Badawi:

Yes there was a notable case which was known and recorded in history; an old man who was blind towards the end of his life by the name of Waraqa Ibn Nowfal.  He was a cousin of Khadijah, the wife of the Prophet (PBUH).  Some historians say that even though he comes from Arabic descent that he became Christian at one point in his life and had some knowledge of the New Testament.  However, the extent of his acquaintance with the Prophet was very rare.  In fact, there are only two incidents that we have information on where there were encounters between this man and the Prophet.  One was when Waraqa was walking around the Kaaba he encountered Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and affectionately kissed his head.  The other occasion is an incident which is very well documented and is his encounter with Prophet Muhammad after Prophet Muhammad received the first revelation.  Neither of these give any indication of there being a connection in terms to the source of revelation.

Basically when Prophet Muhammad was meditating in the Cave of Hiraa outside of Mecca and the angel of revelation, Gabriel, came to him he came down from the cave trembling and afraid.  As we said in the previous program he never anticipated or hoped to be a prophet and he was not sure whether this was a genuine angel of revelation or whether it was an evil spirit.  He rushed trembling to his wife Khadijah who took him to her relative Waraqa who asked him a number of questions as to what exactly happened.  He concluded clearly that “By the name of God this is the same angel of revelation that came before” and he told Khadijah that her husband was going to be a very important person and will have great influence.  Some historians say that he said that this was the long awaited Prophet and that he gave a prophecy that he would be driven out of your home and that if this happens he would give him all the support that he could.  So the Prophet asked him if they were going to drive him out of his home and he replied that there was no prophet in history who came with a teaching similar to what he was about to receive except that he was apposed and driven out by opposition and persecutors.  After this it was said that Waraqa died shortly after their meeting.  The most trustworthy resources indicate that he died early and we know that the revelation of the Quran came to the Prophet over a period of 23 years.  They conclude that he died in the first three years and the Quran continued to be revealed for an additional 20 years after his death as he was advanced in age and blind.  Again looking at it this way there was not any connection.


Host:  Could the Prophet have learned some of the religious teachings from other Jews and Christians from other parts of the Arabian peninsula?

Jamal Badawi

This is a matter of history and geography.  Yes, there were some Christian tribes living in Najran which was in what we call today Yemen which is to the south of Mecca.  To the north there were some Jewish tribes in Yathrim which is known as Medina.  It is interesting to notice that there is absolutely no record in history about Prophet Muhammad traveling to Najran (Yemen) before or after Prophethood.  Second, with respect to the Jews living in Medina first the Prophet was not recorded to have gone to Medina before Prophethood except when he was six years old and in the company of his mother in order to visit his relatives Bani Najjar and to let the Propeht visit the grave of his father because his father died while he was still in his mother’s womb.  I don’t think that we can say that at the age of six that a person during a visit to Medina learned all the Judaeo concepts and the information from The Old Testament.  Furthermore we are talking about a place which is hundreds of kilometers away from Mecca.  This is not a one hour flight, nor is it a matter of 4-5 hours of driving on a super highway but we are talking about a place in the context of the transportation of the 7th century.  We are talking about traveling on a camel or horse for a matter of weeks.  I really don’t see a connection at all between the existence of those communities far from the immediate environment where the Prophet was located.


Host:  None Muslim writers claim that there were cases when the the Prophet was engaged in discussions with learned Jews and Christians, including priests: is this not true?

Jamal Badawi:

It is true.  Sometimes however timing is not mentioned.  Timing in this case is crucial.  The emphasis of my answers in the previous questions was that before he was commissioned as a Prophet and started to receive the revelation of the Quran did he have any contact?  This makes a big difference because yes there were incidents and the Quran refers to the dialogue between the Prophet and the Jewish and Christian religious leaders.   This took place long after he became a Prophet and long after the Quran was revealed.  Many of these discussions took place in Medina after the Prophet migrated.  We know that the Prophet was in Mecca for 13 years before the migration.  These discussions took place more than 13 years after the beginning of his mission as the Prophet of God.  The timing is crucial.  How could he learn from them if he already if he already taught so much and had so many revelations?

The second thing is the context where he met with them.  Did he meet with them as a student learning from them or as a teacher and corrector of some of the notions they used to claim?  History tells us that he met them as a Prophet, to invite them to the path of Islam and to indicate to them and correct some of the dogmas that they introduced into the pure monotheistic faiths of Allah.  The Quran refers to his example of the correction some of the dogmas that they introduced into the pure monotheistic faith of Allah.  The Quran refers to his corrections of notions of trinity etc.  Third, many of those religious people ended up following him and becoming his students.  History tell us of very learned people like Abd Allah Ibn Salam, Kaab Alahbar, Salman who were known to have good knowledge.  In fact the Quran in (5:83) makes reference that when they heard the Prophet recite their eyes flowed with tears and they believed in the Prophet “And when they listen to the revelation received by the Messenger, thou wilt see their eyes overflowing with tears, for they recognize the truth: they pray:  “Our Lord! we believe; write us down among the witnesses.”  So yes they had this meeting but the context and capacity is quite revealing.


Host:  Because Prophet Muhammad traveled extensively as a part of his trade in early years, could he have learned it through his travels outside of Arabia?

Jamal Badawi:

The first correction to this common statement is that those who used to travel extensively are the Qurayshites in general and the Quran makes reference to that in a Surah called Quraysh.  The Qurayshites used to make a trip in the summer which would go north to Syria and in the Winter they would go south to Yaman.  That generalization about Arabs who were involved in trade doesn’t mean that the Prophet was involved in these travels too.  In fact historically we know of two trips that he took outside of the Arabian Peninsula made by the Prophet (PBUH).  One was when he was nine (no older than 12) years of age in the company of his uncle Abi Talib when they went to Syria for trade on a caravan.  Obviously one can not say that at that age he learned something that people spend their whole lives learning.  In one of the stories narrated in Al Tirmidhi that on the way one Christian monk, Al Bahira, saw strange signs about the Prophet, asked him some questions and warned his uncle that he was the anticipated long awaited Prophet and to be careful because some people may hurt him if they knew and advised him to go back as soon as possible.  Of course it is obvious that in a caravan passing a monk and resting from the heat of the sun that a 9 year old boy would learn all the secrets of theology and come up with something that really has enlightened the hearts of hundreds of millions of people is too grand an assumption to make.

The second record of his travel was when he was 25 years old, after he married Khadijah, and he was responsible for her caravan.  Imagine a person traveling with the responsibility of a whole caravan, busy buying, selling, negotiating, packing and traveling could have learned something that would result in faith of the magnitude of Islam and as comprehensive as the Quran.  Not only is this kind of claim historically unjustified but it can not even be justified on logical grounds.  There are additional reasons as the life of the Prophet was open to all.  The Quran testifies to that fact in Surah 49 and that he did not even have sufficient privacy in his own home because were around him at all times and were trying to record each and every that he says.  They tried to observe his action as a model for them.  This was the case so how could it be that he was secretly meeting with a teacher while people were around him and in his presence at all times.  How could he have escaped the open eyes that were around him all the time?  These eyes included who were independent and had strong personalities like Abu Bakr and Uthman.

How could such wise people believe in him and sacrifice their property and lives by putting it on the line in defense of what he teaches while they know that he is not telling the truth.  How could it be that a person who was his enemy like Omar who was strong and wise and was an enemy and turned around and offered his life and put it on the line in defense of Islam and what he saw as the truth.  His enemies who kept their eyes open for any flaw or mistake or anything that may have justified their accusations that he was a false prophet or that he claimed something that he in reality learned from someone else.  If there were such a teacher they would have made a big fuss about it and said that not only is he learning from others but they would have revealed his name and that they caught him learning from him.  What kind of teacher let the Prophet learn all of that without claiming the credit for himself.  It would have had to be an invisible teacher who evaded the other teachers.  His teacher was no other than Gabriel the Angel of revelation.  This is the only viable explanation.


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