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Summary of 10.6 "Source of the Quran V - Religious Illusions"

We continued to look into the various explanations that give some source of the Quran other than revelation, which tried to reconcile the fact that the Prophet claimed that it  came from God while they tried to prove that it was not.  We discussed different theories which tried to relate it to visions like Joan of Arch and we indicated that the analogy is far from relevant.  We discussed theories of Orientalist  such as Birmingham and Tore Andrea where they somehow claim that the Prophet convinced himself that he would be the reformer and as such these visions started to materialize in his own mind.  We tried to explain the erroneous interpretation on both historical and logical grounds.  We first analyzed the fact that there are so many things in the Quran which pertain to past history and history doesn’t emanate from one’s self, history has to be taught or learned somehow.  We looked into the fact that there are certain prophecies in the Quran, none of which have been proven to be inaccurate and those that have come to pass have done so with great accuracy.  We indicated that prophecies are not things that people invent, one might be right once or twice but to be consistent shows a different source than one’s own thinking.


10.7     Source of the Quran VI - Religious Illusions II

Host:  Are there prophecies in the Quran that are more specific than those that we discussed in the last program?

Jamal Badawi:

When what we find in chapter 30 “The Romans” is compared to what actually happened in history we find a striking accuracy.  At the time when Muslims were not strong enough, during the Meccan period, it was 614 in the Christian calendar the Roman empire was defeated by the Persians.  In fact the defeat was so bad that many people thought that the Roman empire was finished.  For example in the year 610 the Persians had stunning victories and dominated so many parts that were under the Roman rule which included Egypt and North Africa.  There was no apparent hope for the Romans and it was under these circumstances that the first few verses of chapter 30 where it says that the Romans had been defeated but that they will have victory again in a few years.  The original Arabic world for “a few” is bide’ in Arabic means anywhere between 3-9 years.  It is interesting to note that despite the defeat of the Romans, the Arab Pagans were happy because they were pro the Persians who were closer to the pagan practice than the Romans who were Christians.  According to historians such as Gibbon in regards to the rise and fall of the Roman empire in which it is stated that about 7 years after that prophecy during 622 there was a battle in which the Romans won against the Persians in Issus and two years later the Romans were able to penetrate the Persian empire and so many places that were under their rule like Musl which is now in Iraq.  Notice here the Prophecy that the Romans would win even though they were soundly defeated.

Second, there would be war within a maximum of 9 years and that the Romans despite their weakness would be the winners during that war.  Nobody could speculate and no military expert could have predicted that in such a time a battle would take place and who the winner would be.  There is something equally stunning about that particular passage because it ends by saying that in that day the believers would be happy with the victory of God.  When we consider the 9 years after the prophecy was made at the same time that the Roman’s were defeating the Persians the Muslims were victories against the pagans in the very famous battle of Badr which is mentioned in the Quran and where Muslims were outnumbered more than 3:1 they were ill armed and ill equipped and they still had a brilliant victory.  This type of prophecy is beyond any human capacity.  This is not the only prophecy about the punishment of the disbelievers or about the battle of Badr.


Host:  Can you explain the battle of Badr?

Jamal Badawi:

For example in (54:45) it makes a prediction “Soon will their multitude be put to flight, and they will show their backs.”  The interesting thing is that this passage was revealed in Mecca at a time when Muslims were so few and almost helpless and there was anticipation whatsoever that there would be any confrontation between the Muslims and the pagans who sought to destroy them.  Nobody predicted that at all to the point that Omar, a close companion of the Prophets, asked what kind of multitude that would be?  One of the earliest revelations of the Quran in Surah (8:20) Al Anfal where the last passage says that Allah knows that some of you will be very tired during the day in seeking your living, some will be traveling and some will be fighting in the path of Allah which is why the night prayer was relaxed a little bit.  The interesting part is that the prophecy came early on before any notion of fighting would have occurred to the mind of anyone and that there would eventually be a military confrontation between the Muslims and the Pagans which did come to pass.

Another equally stunning Surah in the Quran is (44:10) describes a prophecy that came to pass down to the minutest detail.  What it says for them to wait in response to their dispute until the sky will bring forth a sort of myst or smoke and that this would be a time of great suffering and difficulty.  Then it says that they would pray for Allah to remove this difficulty and that this difficulty would be removed but that they would go back again to their disbelief and then that they should wait till the mighty punishment comes.  This sounds very vague but when we analyze what happened after this prophecy was made we find that as with Moses because of their disbelief Prophet Muhammad called on God to punish them for this and to give them a sign that they may head his message.

Historians tell us that after this passage was revealed a great famine took place.  The pagans suffered so much that one of them would look into the sky and see that it looked like smoke.  They were so hungry that things were so hazy.  It was reported by historians that they ate anything including bones which they tried to scour just to keep alive.  It also happened that they went to the Prophet and they asked him to pray to Allah to remove this difficulty and if He does we will be good, he prayed and the difficulty was removed but yet again they went back to their disbelief.  The third part of the prophecy says for them to wait for the big punishment.  After the removal of this difficulty they were involved in the battle of Badr where they were soundly defeated.  This was a mightier punishment which was inflicted upon them.  One of the interesting parts about the Quran is that immediately after these few verses it mentions Prophet Moses as if to show the connection in the behavior demonstrated by the pagans and the Pharaoh in their denial of the message of their Prophet Moses.


Host:  Are there prophecies that relate to specific individuals?

Jamal Badawi:

One of the uncles of the Prophet was known as Abu Lahab which translates literally to the father of flame.  This was his nickname because he had a very fiery temper.  In the very early days of Islam when the Prophet received the command to declare the message when he collected the people from the different tribes and he stood and said “If I were to tell you that there was an army behind that hill, going to invade you would you believe me?” And they responded “Yes, we never caught you telling a lie.”  Then he told them that he was the Prophet and that he was warning them against God’s punishment unless they followed the right path.  After he made this statement his uncle Abu Lahab swore at the Prophet and said “Are you collecting us so that we hear this kind of talk? Tabban Lak (may you parish)!  He swore at the Prophet.  Following this rude comment towards the Prophet a Surah 111 was revealed which said that the perishing would be of the log of Abu Lahab.  It describes how he and his wife used to hurt the Prophet so much and how they used to throw all kinds of things in his path in order to hurt him especially at night and that they would both be punished in Hell Fire.

The question may arise as to what the prophecy is in this case?  Not only does Surah 111 prophecy that Abu Lahab would be punished in the Hereafter which we can not verify now, because it has not come yet, but the interesting part is that we know form history that there were many individuals in History who were as bad as Abu Lahab, resistors of the Prophet, persecutors of the Muslims who ended up believing.  How could anyone make a prophecy with certitude and confidence that this particular fellow would die an unbeliever and that he would never believe.  This was verified 11 years later when he died after the battle of Badr without believing.  How can anyone say for sure that he would not be a believer and that he would die as an unbeliever is beyond us?  In fact some scholars ask an interesting question.  They say that Abu Lahab like any other opponent of the Prophet was very eager to prove that the Message of the Prophet was not genuine or that the Quran was his own thought or invention and they used all kinds of means to prove it, how come Abu Lahab did not pretend to be a Muslim just to prove that the Quran is false?  He could have said that he believed so that he gave the message to people that the Quran was false because it prophecies that he would not believe.  How could he have not been able to do that unless this is the truth of revelation coming directly from Allah.

There is a similar case of an individual known as Al Walid Ibn Al Mughira who was like a ring leader among those who apposed the Prophet and tried to hurt him.  Whenever he heard the Prophet talking about his teachings he would shout “ancient tales” in Arabic “astatear al awaleen.”  We find that there is one Surah in the Quran (68:16) which prophesied exactly what would happen to that individual.

First, it was implied that he would not believe till he was punished, he would live long enough to engage in a fight against the Prophet and that he would eventually he would get hit on his snout which would be a mark of his disbelief.  If this was speculation how would one know that he will not believe, that he would live long enough till the time of the battle, how do we know that during the time of that battle he would be healthy enough to participate in it, how do we know that he will get injured in that battle and particularly on his nose?  There is no way that anyone can say with confidence that this would happen to that particular individual.  Time goes on and this is exactly what happened to him.  Where did the Prophet get this information from if it were true that the Quran immolated from his own thinking.


Host:  Can you explain further the viewpoint that the Quran could not have been a reflection of the experience of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)?

Jamal Badawi:

This is an issue that many scholars have devoted discussions to this topic like Muhammad Sharawi, Rasheed Rida, Dr. Draz.  If the Quran were the product of the subconscious of the Prophet whether he realizes it or not then it is not reasonable to expect that the Quran would include correction of the Prophet and blame.  If you author something you would not reveal your mistakes and especially ones that are small.  In the Quran (80) the Prophet during the early days of Islam was talking to the leaders of the tribes and was trying to persuade them to accept the message of Allah and follow the path of Islam, to give up their paganism and evil practices.  At that time a poor blind man by the name of AbduAllah Ibn Umm Makthoom came to the Prophet and wanted to ask him questions.  The Prophet at the time felt that this fellow was already a believer and could wait, so he frowned and was irritated because that fellow was pressing for an answer while the Prophet was busy with those important people.  That was not such a bad mistake and some people would not consider it to be a mistake at all.  In his mind if he convinced those respected leaders it may guide many people to the path of Islam.  However in Surah 80 we find a very severe blame on the Prophet by God that he should pay attention to that poor blind person.  This established a different way of looking at things.  What kind of person authors a book and reprimands himself for a mistake that he was not even aware of.

In the Quran (8:67) after the battle of Badr the Muslims took 70 of the strong people of Qurishe as prisoners of war even though the Muslims were outnumbered 3:1.  What happened is that there was some discussion as to whether those people should be returned immediately, should have been let go for ransom or should they be held until the disbelievers were subdued.  The Prophet with his soft heart leaned towards a more charitable approach of freeing them for some kind of compensation from their people.  Anybody would look at that and agree that it is a humanitarian approach and not an erroneous behavior on the part of the Prophet.  However we find that in the Quran itself the Prophet is told that the more accurate thing was for him to wait, subdue the unbelievers first till they achieve complete victory and the the Muslim community is secured, then the question of returning prisoners could be considered but not to release them and create an additional threat for future battles.  Again nobody could have suspected any wrong with this kind of decision.

In the battle of Tabouk some people came to the Prophet and asked permission to stay behind and did not want to participate.  Again the Prophet did not want to investigate whether they had a good excuse or not and he simply allowed them, which was militarily too liberal.  Again nobody would see a problem with his decision.  However, the Quran in (9:43) blames the Prophet for allowing them without verifying it even though no one else objected to this decision.

As narrated in both Bukhari and Muslim when one of the staunchest enemies of Islam, who was a hypocrite and pretended to be a Muslim, by the name of Abdu Allah ibn Abi Ubi died the Prophet wanted to pray on him out of kindness.  Again the Quran in (9:84) corrects the Prophet that for people who deliberately reject faith and live this kind of life one should not ask forgiveness for them.  In another case when his uncle Hamza was martyred in one of the battles and a woman was so savage that she asked someone to open is stomach and took his liver and started chewing it.  His dear uncle who was a staunch Muslim in this mutilated state, so the Prophet got very angry and swore that he would punish the disbelievers in a similar way.  Again anyone would say that this is only human even if one doesn’t really intend to do it.  In (16:126) it addresses the Prophet that says that when he punishes he should punish int a way that is similar only to what damage that has been done to you but if you be patient (forgive and wait) it is better for those who persevere.  There are aspects that pertain to the personal life of the Prophet that people didn’t know about that the Prophet was corrected as we find in Surah 33 and 66 about things that the Prophet did simply because of over sensitivity.  The Question is how can someone author a book while pointing out their own very small mistakes which are associated with human judgement.


Host:  Are there other psychological aspects that would collaborate that the source of the Quran is beyond the Prophet himself?

Jamal Badawi:

From a psychological standpoint when we are angry it takes us a while to cool down.  We find that when one reads in the Quran in (8:67-68) first there is very strong blame to the Prophet then forgiveness and acceptance.  This usually doesn’t happen in human psychology.  There was a case where some hypocrites promoted all kinds of malicious against the integrity of the Prophet’s wife Aisha.  For one month he did not say a word about it, he could have saved himself and claimed that there was a revelation that she was innocent.  But for one month he sat and waited till the Quran came down and showed the evil design of those people and that Aisha was totally innocent of this accusation.  There are certain aspects in the Quran where verses were revealed and the Prophet did not know the meaning and would wait until another revelation would come to explain the wisdom behind it.  Again if revelation emanates from himself how could he have a revelation of something he doesn’t understand.

One example is a verse revealed in the Quran that says that one should fear that if they hide anything that Allah will know it.  Some people were almost in a state of despair when they asked if they were going to also be held responsible for their thoughts.  Then again the Prophet could not answer till another verse another verse from the Quran came to show that one should try his best and it did not mean what they had interpreted it to mean.  During the Treaty of Huddibiah the Prophet made a decision based on religion and he did not know how to defend it and there was almost an insurrection in the army and he could not give an explanation till the wisdom was revealed later a long time after the action took place.

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