Eight and a half years ago, I wrote this article on the controversy of the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. I tried to look at it from both sides and analyse what went wrong. Sadly, we have now been reminded of this controversy in the worst way possible, with the heartless, senseless, and inexcusable slaughter of French journalists. I wrote then: “There is absolutely nothing in the Qur’an that gives any Muslim the right to call for the beheading, killing, or physical harming of someone who insults Islam. The Qur’an stresses in many verses how the Prophet himself was being insulted and ridiculed, but there is not a single verse that states that the Prophet or Muslims should attack those offenders.” No one had the right to kill those journalists for publishing the cartoons. This murder is against the teachings of Islam and must be fully condemned by anyone who takes the Qur’an as the source of their guiding values and principles.
One observation that is often made by critics of the Qur’an is that at times its historical account of a story, such as the story of Prophet Moses or Jesus, has similarities with Jewish and Christian scriptures and other writings. This observation is then used to claim that Prophet Muhammad must have copied at least parts of the Qur’an from those sources, so he could not have received it from God.
The so-called “the verse of the sword” is said to have abrogated numerous Qur'anic verses that call on the Muslims to be tolerant, forgiving, and patient, and to display such positive attributes toward non-Muslims that allowed Muslims to live peacefully with various religious groups for 1,400 years. This claim has become very popular among Muslim terrorist groups and individuals who use it to justify their atrocities. I shall review here a number of fundamental problems with this claim.
The Christian tradition of the Christmas tree can be traced back to no later than the 14th century. The Gospels do not contain anything that may explain associating the festive tree tradition with Jesus’ birth in particular. However, the Qur'an suggests that the Christmas tree can be linked to a specific tree that featured prominently in Jesus’ birth.
The Qur'an presents a fascinating, albeit very brief, account of Mary's virginal conception of Jesus and later his birth. Like the miracle of virginal conception, Jesus' birth was accompanied with a number of miracles.
The terms “Sunna” and “Ḥadīth” are often used interchangeably. This use is inaccurate. As I explained, “Sunna” denotes what the Prophet said, did, approved, and disapproved of, explicitly or implicitly. “Ḥadīth,” on the other hand, refers to the reports of such narrations. Furthermore, while “Ḥadīth” and “Sunna” are used synonymously because the Ḥadīth literature is the main source of the Sunna of the Prophet, it is not its only source.
This is a summary of the third Abdullah Yusuf Ali Memorial Lecture which I will deliver. This is the title of the lecture: “Is the Mushaf a complete record of the Qur’an? The controversy of abrogation.”