Dec 142014
 

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.

When the Qur’anic historical account has similarities with details that are not in the accepted scriptures but in apocryphal sources, i.e. writings that did not become part of the canonical books that the Jewish and Christian authorities adopted, a second claim is made. In this case, it is claimed that the copied information in the Qur’an is incorrect or inaccurate because it was taken from inauthentic or at least questionable sources.

Let’s analyse the logic behind these two claims closely.

Similarity Between the Qur’an and Supposed Authentic Scriptures

If Muhammad’s claim that he received the Qur’an from God is true, and if some of the historical accounts in other scriptures or books had truly come from God, then any similarity should only be expected. For instance, the Jewish scripture — the Old Testament — says that Moses split the sea with his staff when he and the Israelites escaped form Pharaoh and his troops. Now, if this Old Testament claim was indeed revealed by God, meaning it is historical, and if the Qur’an was also revealed by God, then mentioning this miracle in the Qur’anic story of Moses would be exactly what one should expect. The mere existence of similarities between the Qur’an and the Old Testament does not prove that the Qur’an was copied from the Old Testament, because if both books were revealed by God, then this similarity “must” be there.

Claiming that the Qur’an was copied from the Old Testament in such a case, therefore, can only be based on the “prior assumption” that it was not revealed by God. In other words, this claim is “not a conclusion” based on observing the similarity. It is simply an assumption about the Qur’an, so it was “not derived” from this similarity. Using the similarity between the two scriptures to present that critical claim about the Qur’an as a conclusion is either due to misunderstanding or deliberate misrepresentation.

There are other very critical facts here that are always ignored in such a discussion about similarities between the Qur’anic stories and their counterparts in scriptures that are supposed to be genuine:

1) The Qur’anic account has also differences with the other scriptural version.
2) The differences are always more than the similarities.
3) The differences are profoundly significant.

The first two points are obvious, but let me say a little more about the third. Often the Qur’anic historical account would differ with details in the Jewish or Christian scriptures that have been proved to be wrong. For instance, the Old Testament claims that the Israelites were more than 2-3 millions when they escaped ancient Egypt. This claim has been known to be unhistorical for a few centuries now. The Qur’an, on the other hand, while confirming the escape of the Israelites, it does not repeat the unhistorical claim about the huge number of the Israelites. In fact, it states that they were small in number. Now, if Muhammad or someone helping him copied the story of Exodus from the Old Testament 14 centuries ago, how come that the copyist managed to leave that unhistorical piece of information out? Let’s take another example. Why would Muhammad make the claim that the body of the Pharaoh who chased Moses and the Israelites would be saved and would remain available for people to view, which is what happened to the mummy of Ramesses II, when the Old Testament makes it clear that the body was swallowed by the sea? I cover in detail many examples such as these in my books on the stories of Prophets Jesus, Moses, and Joseph.

There is another type of difference between the Qur’an and the Jewish and Christian scriptures where a character, event, or statement appears in one context in the Qur’an and in a different, wrong context in the other scriptures. For instance, there is a character called Haman in the Book of Esther of the Old Testament who was supposed to be a prime minster in Persia centuries after the exodus. Scholars have shown that this story is unhistorical. On the other hand, the Qur’an also has a character called Haman but he is a high ranking figure in the Egyptian court in the story of Moses. Haman is clearly an Egyptian name. What seems to have happened here is that changes by the editors of the Old Testament have resulted in moving the historical Egyptian Haman from the story of the Exodus to the completely different and unhistorical story of the Book of Esther. This is a completely different interpretation of this phenomenon from the tired and flawed explanation that the Qur’an copied information from the other scriptures. There is more on the concept of Contextual Displacement here.

Similarity Between the Qur’an and Supposed Inauthentic Scriptures

As I mentioned earlier, when a Qur’anic account has similarity with a story in an uncanonical books, the Qur’an is accused not only of copying its information from those sources, but also of copying the wrong information. For instance, the Qur’an says that one of Jesus’ miracles is that he spoke in the cradle. This miracle is not mentioned in any of the four Gospels in the New Testament, which Christians consider to be the authoritative sources on the life of Jesus. But this miracle is mentioned in apocryphal sources, such as The Arabic Gospel of Infancy. The above accusation against the Qur’an is based on the assumption that this miracle cannot be historical because it is not mentioned in the four Gospels in the New Testament but appears only in apocryphal gospels. But this argument rests completely on the assumption that the four Gospels are more historical than the apocryphal sources. The reality is that the four Gospels have numerous historical mistakes so they cannot be considered reliable anyway. For example, as I have explained in my book on The Mystery of the Crucifixion, the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion has many historically incorrect claims. Furthermore, these four books became the adopted Gospels of the Church after centuries of battles between conflicting opinions and dogmas, not because they are truly historical or the information they contain is always more reliable than information found in alternative sources.

Conclusion

The similarities and differences between the Qur’an and other scriptural and non-scriptural Jewish and Christian writings cannot be used to draw any conclusion about the originality, reliability, and credibility of the Qur’an or the other sources. When the issues in question can be examined in the light of historical knowledge, then history has to be the judge. Such issues can be found in the story of the Exodus, for example. When the information is impossible to ascertain historically, such as accounts of miracles, then faith in any version has to be supported by the general credibility and reliability of the source making the claim. In other words, when the Qur’an and Jewish and Christian scriptures disagree on claims that are not possible to verify independently, one has to take into consideration which of sources is more reliable.

It has been known for a long time now that while the Old and New Testaments contain correct historical information, they also have numerous inaccurate and wrong claims. Whenever a reliability comparison is possible between a historical account in the Qur’an and its counterpart in the Jewish or Christian sources, the Qur’an’s version of events always turns out to be superior.

Copyright © 2014 Louay Fatoohi
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Jul 212014
 

This is the Introduction to the Book “The First and Last Revelations of the Qur’an

The Qur’an was revealed by God to Prophet Muhammad over 22 years from 610 CE when he was in Mecca until his death in 632 CE in Medina. He migrated to Medina in 622 CE. This is one verse that describes this gradual revelation of the Qur’an:

A Qur’an which We have divided that you may read it to people at intervals. We sent it down, sending it down! (17.106)

At times an individual verse and at others a number of verses were revealed to the Prophet. As soon as a verse was inspired to the Prophet, he conveyed it to the Muslims, who memorized it, and had it written down. Leather, parchment, shoulder-bones, rib-bones, stones, and leaf stalks of date palms were used as writing material. The consensus, based on Ḥadīth sources, is that the Qur’an was compiled in one volume by the Prophet’s Companions after him. I find this claim extremely incredible, as it would have been in conflict with the natural course of action of the Prophet and early Muslims with regard to the Book they most revered, but this subject is outside the scope of this book.

The compiled volume of the Qur’an is known as the “muṣḥaf.” This Arabic word means a “collection or volume of written sheets,” but it has developed the technical meaning of the “compiled written sheets of the Qur’an.”

People often use the terms “Qur’an” and “muṣḥaf” interchangeably, which is an inaccurate use. “Qur’an” is the name of the revelation whereas the term “muṣḥaf” denotes the written record of that revelation. This important distinction will be maintained in this book. The term “Qur’an” is used to refer to the revelation, whereas “muṣḥaf” denotes how this revelation is laid out in a book form.

The Qur’an consists of 114 chapters. The longest chapter, which is number 2 (al-Baqara), has 286 verses. The shortest chapters have 3 verses each. These are chapters 103 (al-ʿAṣr), 108 (al-Kawthar), and 110 (al-Naṣr). In total, there are 6,326 verses in the Qur’an.

It is agreed by all that the Qur’anic chapters are not listed in the muṣḥaf in the chronological order of their revelation. For instance, the first chapter in the muṣḥaf is not the first chapter of the Qur’an, i.e. not the first chapter that was revealed. In fact, while the muṣḥaf starts with a Meccan chapter, the next 4 chapters are all from the Medina period. Similarly, the first and last verses in the muṣḥaf do not represent the first and last verses of the Qur’an.

Scholars have disagreed on how the chapters came to be in this order in the muṣḥaf. One group thinks that it was done according to the Prophet’s instructions, another believes the Companions who compiled it after the Prophet chose this particular order, whereas a third group takes the view that the order was chosen by the Prophet and his Companions.

I do not think the order of the chapters is insignificant to be left to the Companions to decide or discuss with the Prophet. One modern researcher convincingly notes that if the order of the chapters was chosen by those who compiled the Qur’an and it was not instructed by the Prophet, they would have mentioned the reasoning behind the organization they chose, yet there is no such explanation. He also notes that there is no clear obvious reasoning behind the current structure.

The order of the verses within each chapter is also not necessarily chronological. But unlike the case of the order of the chapters, there is consensus that the verses were ordered in their respective chapters by the Prophet. There are a number of ḥadīths in which the Prophet is said to have ordered a newly revealed verse to be inserted in a particular position in a partially revealed chapter.

As the order of the chapters and verses in the muṣḥaf does not reflect the chronology of their revelation, scholars have invested considerable time and effort to determine various aspects of the chronology of the revealed text. Knowing the chronology of the revelation can be helpful, even at times necessary, for interpreting the Qur’anic text, learning about the life of the Prophet and early Muslims, and understanding the Qur’anic legal rulings.

These efforts have developed into a sub-science within the broader discipline of ʿUlūm al-Qur’an (The Sciences of the Qur’an). This relatively late term denotes the study of various aspects of the Qur’an and its history. One particularly famous work is Al-Itqān fī ʿUlūm al-Qur’an by the 9th century Hijrī scholar Jalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūṭī.

More specifically in this subdomain, scholars have been interested in identifying the first verse that was revealed on certain subjects, such as the first verse that permitted the Muslims to take arms to defend themselves against their enemies, the first revelation that dealt with the drinking of alcohol, and the first inspiration about the permitted and prohibited foods. A specific enquiry that attracted considerable interest is determining the first and last verses and chapters of the Qur’an, which is the subject of this book.

Copyright © 2014 Louay Fatoohi
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Dec 242013
 

This article is adapted from my book The Historical Jesus: The Messiah in the Qur’an, the Bible, and Historical Sources.

Every year, Christians across the world celebrate in Christmas the birth of Jesus. One prominent aspect of this tradition is the Christmas tree. This tradition is known to have developed in Germany in the 16th century, but the earliest tree may be traced to the 14th century. The festive evergreen tree then started to gain popularity beyond Germany in the 2nd half of the 19th century, gradually becoming one of the symbols and expressions of Christmas everywhere in the world.

There have been a number of attempts to explain how the Christmas tree tradition developed, but these are mere speculations with no supportive evidence. One popular suggestion is to link the new Christian practice to ancient traditions in which evergreen trees were used as symbols for eternal life and were also worshipped. One obvious problem with this and other approaches is that they fail to explain the link of this tradition with Christmas in particular. Christians could have used this tradition for any event, but why to celebrate Jesus’ birth in particular?

The four Gospels do not suggest any link between Jesus’ birth and any tree. Mark and John do not say anything about Jesus’ birth. Matthew only states that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, before moving on to talk about the “wise men” who came to visit the newborn and King Herod’s concern about what this birth could mean for his reign (Matthew 2:1-6). Luke confirms that when Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem “the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 2:6-7).

But in the Qur’an’s account of the birth of Jesus a tree features prominently. I have commented elsewhere on the story of Jesus’ birth in the Qur’an, so I will only quote the relevant Qur’anic verses here:

She conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a far place. (19.22) And the pangs of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said: “I wish I had died before this and had become something totally forgotten!” (19.23) Then he called her from beneath her: “Do not grieve! Your Lord has placed a rivulet beneath you, (19.24) and shake the trunk of the palm tree toward you, and it will let fall fresh dates upon you. (19.25) So eat, drink, and be consoled. If you meet any human being, say: ‘I have vowed a fast to God, so I will not speak today to any human being.’” (19.26)

The birth took place under a palm tree which also provided Mary with food she desperately needed. This account also has noticeable similarity with the tradition of placing presents under the Christmas tree. The latter may be seen as celebrating the sending of Jesus as a present to the world.

There are two apocryphal Christian sources that are worth quoting here. Apocryphal writings are considered inauthentic and inferior to the New Testament. The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew1 is claimed to have been written in Hebrew by Matthew the Evangelist and translated into Latin by Jerome. But scholars believe it was probably written as late as around the 8th-9th century. In the relevant part, this book talks about Mary sitting under a palm tree and of a spring of water but in a very different context from that of the Qur’an. On the third day of the journey of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus to Egypt escaping Herod, the following happened:

While they were walking, that the blessed Mary was fatigued by the excessive heat of the sun in the desert; and seeing a palm tree, she said to Joseph: “Let me rest a little under the shade of this tree.” Joseph therefore made haste, and led her to the palm, and made her come down from her beast. And as the blessed Mary was sitting there, she looked up to the foliage of the palm, and saw it full of fruit, and said to Joseph: “I wish it were possible to get some of the fruit of this palm.” And Joseph said to her: “I wonder that you say this, when you see how high the palm tree is; and that you think of eating of its fruit. I am thinking more of the want of water, because the skins are now empty, and we have none wherewith to refresh ourselves and our cattle.”

Then the child Jesus, with a joyful countenance, reposing in the bosom of His mother, said to the palm: “O tree, bend your branches, and refresh my mother with your fruit.” And immediately at these words the palm bent its top down to the very feet of the blessed Mary; and they gathered from it fruit, with which they were all refreshed. And after they had gathered all its fruit, it remained bent down, waiting the order to rise from Him who had commanded it to stoop.

Then Jesus said to it: “Raise yourself, O palm tree, and be strong, and be the companion of my trees, which are in the paradise of my Father; and open from your roots a vein of water which has been hid in the earth, and let the waters flow, so that we may be satisfied from you.” And it rose up immediately, and at its root there began to come forth a spring of water exceedingly clear and cool and sparkling. And when they saw the spring of water, they rejoiced with great joy, and were satisfied, themselves and all their cattle and their beasts. Wherefore they gave thanks to God. (PsMatt. 20)

Another apocryphal book known as The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy or The First Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus Christ,2 which is dated to the 2nd century, has this very brief mention of a tree and a Jesus’ miracle of causing a water well to appear:

They went on to a city in which were several idols which, as soon as they came near to it, was turned into hills of sand. Hence they went to that sycamore tree, which is now called Matarea. And in Matarea the Lord Jesus caused a well to spring forth, in which St. Mary washed his coat. And a balsam is produced, or grows, in that country from the sweat which ran down there from the Lord Jesus. (AraIn. 8:8-11)

These two Christian accounts have obvious similarities but differences also with the Qur’an. The historical account of Jesus’ birth under a tree had at some point been changed to what appears in these gospels. I have discussed this common phenomenon which I have called “Contextual Displacement” elsewhere. This type of textual corruption denotes the instances where a character, event, or statement appears in one context in the Qur’an and in a different context in other sources. There are many differences between the Qur’an and Jewish and Christian sources, including the Old and New Testaments, that can be convincingly explained as contextual displacements in these sources

There is no direct evidence to link the tradition of the Christmas tree to the tree under which Jesus was born, so this link remains speculative. But it is a distinct possibility that the mysterious Christmas tree tradition originally grew from the historical tree in Jesus’ story of birth, which the Qur’an has revealed.

References
1 The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, translated by A. Walker, in: Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of The Writings of the Fathers down to a.d. 325, Volume 8, WM. B. Eerdmans publishing company: Michigan.
2 The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy, translated by W. Wake, The Lost Books of the Bible and the Forgotten Books of Eden, A&B Publishers Group: New York, 1926, 38-59.

Copyright © 2013 Louay Fatoohi
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Dec 202013
 

This article is extracted from my book The Historical Jesus: The Messiah in the Qur’an, the Bible, and Historical Sources.

I have discussed in detail elsewhere the story of Mary’s miraculous conception of Jesus in various traditions, as well as the arguments made against and in support of it. I have also explained The Qur’an’s Affirmation of Jesus’ Virginal Conception. I will review here quickly the virginal conception before I present the account of Jesus’ birth in the Qur’an. There are some similarities with the story in the New Testament, but the differences are much more. I will focus here on the Qur’anic account.

Mary, who had been living a particularly pious life, was one day visited by Gabriel, the Holy Spirit:

She put a veil between herself and them (her family). Then We sent to her Our spirit, and he assumed for her the likeness of a human being in all respects. (19.17)

This mysterious being must have appeared in the shape of a man, because Mary addressed him in the masculine. Seeing a man appear suddenly in her secluded place, Mary was scared:

She said: “I seek refuge in God from you, if you are dutiful [to God].” (19.18)

Gabriel reassured Mary that he was in fact a messenger from God:

He said: “I am only a messenger of your Lord, that I may bestow on you a pure son.” (19.19)

After receiving the amazing news and regaining her composure, Mary asked how she could bear a son when she was never married or involved in an illicit sexual relationship:

She said: “How can I have a son when no man has touched me, neither have I been unchaste?” (19.20)

Gabriel replied that this miracle was easy for God to do, and that it had already been ordained to happen, confirming that her conception was not going to involve a man:

He said: “Thus Your Lord has said: ‘It is easy for Me. And so that We may make of him a sign for people and a mercy from Us, and it is a matter that has been ordained.’” (19.21)

Having found herself with a miraculous pregnancy she could not explain to people, Mary chose to live alone and away from her family:

She conceived him and she withdrew with him to a far place. (19.22)

When she later was in labor in what looks like a public rather than private place and about to give birth to what people would consider an illicit child, Mary found herself in an extremely distressing situation. Her feeling of despair is reflected in her wish for a death that would leave no trace of her and make people forget about her:

And the pangs of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said: “I wish I had died before this and had become something totally forgotten!” (19.23)

Almost immediately after Mary gave birth, her newborn miraculously spoke to her. Moreover, the child already knew the psychological state of his mother, so he comforted her by asking her not to grieve and informing her that God has made a stream beneath her so she can drink and wash. Mary was not only in bad need for water, but she was also very hungry and exhausted and in need of energy, so her newborn went on to reveal to her that God has also made food available for her:

Then he called her from beneath her: “Do not grieve! Your Lord has placed a rivulet beneath you. (19.24) And shake the trunk of the palm tree toward you, and it will let fall fresh dates upon you. (19.25)

The fact that Jesus told his mother about the stream and the dates means that neither had been there before, otherwise Mary would have noticed them. This is also confirmed by the newborn’s description of the stream as something that God has placed beneath Mary: “Your Lord has placed a rivulet beneath you.” Mary was so weak having just delivered, so being able to shake the trunk of the palm tree must have also been a miracle.

Jesus then asked his mother to eat, drink, relax, and not worry about what would happen. He asked her to tell any human being she meets that she had vowed to God to abstain from speaking to any person. This fast was temporary, as indicated by the word “today,” and was intended to spare Mary the trouble of having to argue with her people, to whom she was going to go back with her child, and to instead leave her miraculous son to speak in her defence:

So eat, drink, and be consoled. If you meet any human being, say: ‘I have vowed a fast to God, so I will not speak today to any human being.’” (19.26)

The Qur’an then goes on to talk about what happened when Mary went back with her son to her people.

Typical of its style when recounting historical accounts, the Qur’an contains very limited information about Jesus’ birth. The reader who is interested in learning more about the Qur’an’s style in narrating history may like to consult my article on History in the Qur’an.

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May 232013
 

I received by email a thoughtful review of my book Jesus the Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ. The review was also circulated by the reviewer to others, who have interest in Christian theology or may be even qualified in the subject, whom the reviewer at times addresses in his review. The reviewer has welcomed my reply to the review, so I am publishing his review followed by my reply.

This is how the reviewer Juan A. Ayala-Carmona introduced himself:

This writer (yours truly) is an ordained Christian minister and theologian who has degrees in Comparative Religions and Theology. I received my D. Min. in Theology from the Colgate Rochester Divinity School, 1982 and have served as professor of church history, religion, and theology at various colleges and theological schools. I retired as a prison chaplain with the New York State Department of Correctional Services in 2009.

This is the text of the review:

My intention is to evaluate Dr. Fatoohi’s book relative to both its strengths and weaknesses. Dr. Fatoohi is receiving a copy of this critique and his response is welcome. Your comments and responses are also welcome, and I think that they would be helpful to both Dr. Fatoohi, myself, and to all others who are interested in examining the beliefs and practices of the both the Christian and Islamic communities with the greatest degree possible of impartiality, objectivity, and open-mindedness, bearing in mind that pure “objectivity” does not exist. Dr. Fatoohi’s biases are reflected in his book, and my biases are reflected in this response. Absolutely none of us has a 100% handle of the truth. As one of my professors of theology (Dr. Paul Fries) used to say, “All theology is partial and tentative.” The Apostle Paul says “We see dimly through a mirror.” All of our positions are subject to correction and any necessary revision.

I will begin by stating my appreciation for Dr. Fatoohi’s approach to this subject from the standpoints of both faith and scholarship. Contrary to the notion that many believers (both Christian and Muslim) have about scholarship diminishing and eroding faith and spirituality, Dr. Fatoohi makes it very clear that if anything, scholarship strengthens faith. The book calls for a faith which is informed by history, science, and other branches of human knowledge as well as by experience and tradition, both oral and written. This fact, in and of itself, makes Dr. Fatoohi’s book a “must read” type of document. I strongly recommend the reading of this book to all of you. By reading his book, you will be in a much stronger position to evaluate both the book and my critique of it. Dr. Fatoohi makes it clear that he accepts reader responses.

The major strengths of Dr. Fatoohi’s book are:

1. His familiarity with the history, scriptures, and traditions of the Christian, Islamic, and Jewish faiths. Dr. Fatoohi is very conversant with the Torah, New Testament, and Qur’an, as well as with the experiences and traditions which gave rise to and generated those sacred books.

2. His familiarity with the historical-critical approach to the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), Christian Scriptures (New Testament), and the Qur’an. He demonstrates knowledge of authorship, intended audience, reasons for writing, and the variety of literary styles in each of the sacred books.

3. His familiarity with the historical development of Christian theology, especially relative to the issue of the Christian doctrine of Jesus being God-in the flesh. He points out in a very succinct manner the views of Jesus in the Gospels as contrasted with the views of Jesus in the Pauline writings.

4. Dr. Fatoohi clearly points out the distinction between the doctrines of the early Church (1st century), and the teaching of the Church in the post-Apostolic era. He specifically points out that the doctrine of the Trinity in systematic form was a later development.

5. His clarification about the words “Islam” and “Muslim” meaning submission and one who submits respectively. Thus, it opens the door for Christians to avoid being offended by his use of the word “Islam” and “Muslim” in relation to Jesus and other Bible figures.

The major weaknesses of Dr. Fatoohi’s book are the following:

1. His unstated but clear assumption that divine revelation in the Bible (especially the New Testament) is superseded by divine revelation in the Qur’an. Dr. Fatoohi, like most Muslims that I know, is of the persuasion that the Qur’an is a correction to and revision of the “corruptions” of the New Testament.

2. Subsequently, Dr. Fatoohi assumes and believes that the contents and teachings of the New Testament are true only to the extent that they concur with the contents and teachings of the Qur’an. In a sense, Dr. Fatoohi commits the same mistake that many Christians commit. In the same manner that many Christians are guilty of “Christianizing” the Old Testament by reading it in the light of the New Testament, Dr. Fatoohi “Islamicizes” the New Testament by reading it in the light of the Qur’an.

3. Dr. Fatoohi readily accepts the statements supposedly made by Jesus about Himself relative to His being “the Son of Man,” but when he encounters statements about Jesus referring to Himself as being something other than human, he attributes these sayings not to Jesus, but to Paul, John, and others who wanted to make Jesus equal to God, and/or being “God in the flesh.” Consistent with his Islamic beliefs, Dr. Fatoohi thus endorses the notion that the Bible is true only to the extent that it is in harmony with the Qur’an.

4. By constantly (and consistently) stating throughout the book that it was Paul and subsequently John who introduced the notion of the God-man into Christian theology in order to accommodate to pagans of non-Jewish and non-Christian origins, Dr. Fatoohi is thus making the Apostle Paul and other writers of the New Testament to be false teachers because they have elevated Jesus to the status of divinity. Because the teachings of Paul and others are found in the book which we Christians believe to be divinely inspired. Dr. Fatoohi is in essence saying that certain parts of the Bible are humanly concocted and constructed. I know that many Muslims would be offended if any one were to suggest anything similar about the Holy Qur’an. This reminds me of an experience that I had in 1972 in New York. A Muslim neighbor of mine (in the Bronx) invited me to attend his Masjid. Out of curiosity to know more about what other people believe and practice, I accompanied the brother to the Masjid. After the congregation completed their prayers, he directed me to the Imam with whom I sat and conversed for a short time. The Imam explained the basic tenents of Islam to me. I asked him if Muslims believe in the Bible. He responded by stating that they do, but mostly the Old Testament Scriptures. I asked him if they believe in the New Testament Scriptures. He stated that they do, but only parts of the New Testament, because the New Testament has been “corrupted.” When I asked him for evidence that the New Testament has been “corrupted,” he said to me “It says so in the Qur’an.” I asked him “how do you know that the Qur’an hasn’t been corrupted?” He asked me to leave.

In essence, Dr. Fatoohi is taking the same approach as the Imam. The Bible, in his view, is to be evaluated in the light of the “truths” of the Qur’an and not the other way around, even though the Bible was written many years and centuries prior to the Qur’an. To sustain this position is to invalidate the divine inspiration of the Bible, and in essence making the writers of the Bible (especially the New Testament) false teachers while claiming total divine inspiration for the Qur’an. Sorry Brother Fatoohi, but with all due respect to you, your faith, and the Qur’an, “no can do.” Only a historical act, such as the Incarnation of God in Christ can help us to make sense out of human history. To you as a fellow scholar and as a sincere believer, I say Asalaam-alaikum. To all others I say to God in Christ be the glory now and forever more. Amen!

I would end this piece by saying that since I am not infallible or perfect, and since I do not have a monopoly on God’s truth, I welcome comments, reactions, responses, and any suggestions that any of you may deem necessary.

Grace and peace,

Juan A. Ayala-Carmona

This is the end of the review. 

Thank you Dr Ayala-Carmona for your interest in reading my book, reviewing it, and sharing the review with me. I would also like to thank you for the scholarly tone of your review.

I like to start by saying that I fully respect your views. I would also like to thank you for your generosity in highlighting strengths of the book. As you have kindly invited my reply, I would like to say a few things about the four weaknesses you identified in my book.

Points 1 & 2. I should clarify that this book and two other smaller books (The Mystery of the Crucifixion and The Mystery of the Messiah) were derived from my major and detailed study The Mystery of the Historical Jesus. In the latter, I covered all aspects of Jesus’ life. I later took specific materials from that comprehensive book and revised and extended them into the focused book you have read. The book on the historical Jesus starts with a chapter called “Approaches to the Study of History in the Qur’an and the Bible.” As its title suggests, this chapter reviews the relevant methodologies which I categorize into four approaches: secular, Biblical, secular-Biblical, and Qur’anic. It discusses the assumptions of each approach and the weaknesses of the first three approaches, and presents the Qur’anic approach as the most reliable methodology. The book makes it clear that it advocates the Qur’anic approach. In fact, the last section in that chapter starts with the following:

Having introduced the main approaches to the study of history in the Bible and the Qur’an and explained why it is important to understand what approach a study takes, I need to make it clear that this book follows the Qur’anic approach. Any information in the canon, apocrypha, and history that is relevant to the subject of this book will first be presented and then explained from the Qur’an’s point of view. Presuming that the Qur’an is the Word of God, this book seeks to show the consistency of the Qur’anic story of Jesus and its alignment with historical facts. It also compares the Qur’an’s consistent account of Jesus’ life with the problems that the same story has in Christian sources.

That section and chapter then conclude with the following:

As it follows the Qur’anic approach, this book will argue that the historical Jesus is that of the Qur’an, and that his real role in history is accurately explained by the Qur’an’s view of the world, not the view of the Bible or any secular approach. However, it will consider in detail the arguments of the other approaches and any counter argument to the Qur’anic approach. 

I will make every effort to differentiate between bare facts and their interpretations according to the Qur’anic approach. These facts can then be looked at by others to examine the validity of the given interpretations and test whether a different approach gives better interpretations of these facts. I will point out the similarities and differences between the Qur’an and relevant Jewish and Christian sources, and I will explain and relate them to established historical facts, using the Qur’anic perceptive. It is then to the reader to decide whether this Qur’anic interpretation of history is more consistent, convincing, and in line with established facts, or other alternatives, including the Bible’s. 

Let me repeat again, this book does not claim to be a dispassionate, neutral study of Jesus’ history. I am not sure that such an attempt is possible at all anyway. Nevertheless, I will ensure that I make my assumptions clear and differentiate between facts and their interpretations, allowing the reader to decide whether the arguments of the book are likely or unlikely, credible or absurd.

I think this is fair to say that I could not be clearer about the approach that the book takes.

This substantial chapter is not something that I could have added to the three smaller books that I derived from the source book. However, the “Preface” of the current book still says enough to make clear what the book tries to achieve:

Like my other writings, this book tries to bring the Qur’an to the study of the historical Jesus which Western scholarship has mainly restricted to the Old and New Testaments, along with historical writings. My other, related goal is to get Islamic scholarship to show more interest in historical sources and to also look at the Old and New Testaments and other Jewish and Christian sources from a historical perspective. 

This book focuses on contrasting the human Jesus of the Qur’an with the divine Jesus of Christian sources. Admittedly, this subject has been examined by Christian, Muslim, and other scholars considerably more than other topics of the historical Jesus. However, one new contribution to the literature that my book makes is to show that the human Jesus as presented in the Qur’an is the one that fits in history. The concept of a divine Jesus can only be an invention from the post-Jesus era.

Nevertheless, I appreciate how the absence of the original introductory chapter might have given the impression that I have not stated my assumptions explicitly.

Point 3. You are right in your observation that I use the Qur’an to differentiate between which statements attributed to Jesus that are likely to be historical and which are not. This is consistent with the approach of the book, as explained in detail above.

Point 4. I should make it clear that I do not intend to offend anybody by any claim I make in my writings. I respect the right of every person to take whatever view they want. It is not my intention to insult or demean anybody or faith in the past or present. But I also have to accept the obvious fact that some beliefs are contradictory and cannot be reconciled with each other. Furthermore, in the same way I do not believe that a reading of history that is different from mine is intrinsically offensive to me, I do not consider my reading of history to be offensive to anybody.

But I also know that offense can be read into things. Let me give a relevant example. The Qur’an claims that all people, including Christians should believe in Muhammad and the Qur’an. Most Christians do not, meaning they do not believe in the message of the Qur’an. This means that they do not believe that the Qur’an is a divine book, which implies that either Muhammad deliberately lied or, at best, was himself deluded. These two conclusions, which mean that Muhammad was a false prophet, are easily seen as offensive by Muslims. You can see then how easy for a Muslim to take offense from the very fact that someone does not believe in the message of the Qur’an. But that should not be the case. If we accept that people have the right to hold different beliefs, then we have to accept that at times these beliefs might contradict and reject each other. If we consider this to be offensive in anyway, then talking about the right to freedom of belief and expression becomes meaningless.

I disagree with the Imam who asked you to leave the mosque because you questioned his belief about the Qur’an, but I equally reject any assumption that a serious work that questions one version of history in favour of another is offensive to those who believe in the former, not least because the former can be equally accused of being offensive! This is particularly so when the Muslim reading of history immensely venerates Jesus, albeit not as God. Can the same be said about the Christian reading of history regarding Prophet Muhammad? I do not think so. Still, no offense should be taken by Muslims.

You likened my approach in the book to the behaviour of that Imam. Unlike the Imam who only made a statement about his faith and refused to discuss it, I have written extensively to show that this statement is not a matter of faith only. I also encourage and respect serious dialogue and debate. I often say that I learn a lot more from those I do not agree with than those I agree with, because challenge and the need to work harder comes from the former not the latter. I hope that publishing your review on my website further confirms that my approach differs completely from the Imam’s. .

There is one last important point I should add. Muslim scholars have always written about Jesus using Islamic sources only. While I write about Jesus from a Qur’anic perspective, my writings are not based on the Qur’an only. The genuinely new contribution I try to make to the literature is bringing in historical facts and sources. My writings attempt to start a study of the historical Jesus from a Qur’anic perspective. The historical Jesus has been studied extensively by Christian and Western scholars, and I try to encourage the development of a similar discipline in Islamic scholarship.

Thank you again for your thoughts about the book and for sharing them with me. I also welcome any further thoughts you may like to share.

Copyright © 2013 Louay Fatoohi
Blog: http://www.louayfatoohi.com
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The review is copyright by Juan A. Ayala-Carmona
All Rights Reserved

Feb 112010
 

This is the “Preface” to the book Jesus The Muslim Prophet: History Speaks of a Human Messiah Not a Divine Christ

Like my books The Mystery of the Messiah (2009) and The Mystery of the Crucifixion (2008), this book is derived from parts of my comprehensive book The Mystery of the Historical Jesus: The Messiah in the Qur’an, the Bible, and Historical Sources(2007). The latter is a broad study of Jesus’ life and teachings, whereas the derivative works each focuses on and studies in more detail a specific aspect of the history of Jesus.

This book is based mainly on two chapters — “The Divine Son of God That Jesus Never Was” and “The Human Jesus” — from my book on the historical Jesus, as well as some material from my other writings. I have also expanded the study significantly with new material. Furthermore, I have changed the structure of the borrowed content for a better presentation, which was also necessary to incorporate the new material.

Like my other writings, this book tries to bring the Qur’an to the study of the historical Jesus which Western scholarship has mainly restricted to the Old and New Testaments, along with historical writings. My other, related goal is to get Islamic scholarship to show more interest in historical sources and to also look at the Old and New Testaments and other Jewish and Christian sources from a historical perspective.

This book focuses on contrasting the human Jesus of the Qur’an with the divine Jesus of Christian sources. Admittedly, this subject has been examined by Christian, Muslim, and other scholars considerably more than other topics of the historical Jesus. However, one new contribution to the literature that my book makes is to show that the human Jesus as presented in the Qur’an is the one that fits in history. The concept of a divine Jesus can only be an invention from the post-Jesus era.

This book, as is the case with all of my other works, has been significantly improved by the insightful comments and feedback of my dear wife Shetha Al-Dargazelli. Without Shetha’s support, it would have been very difficult for me to write my books.

The book has also benefited from the careful reading and comments of my ever helpful friend Tariq Chaudhry.

          

Copyright © 2010 Louay Fatoohi
All Rights Reserved

May 162009
 

This is the “Preface” to the book The Mystery of the Messiah: The Messiahship of Jesus in the Qur’an, New Testament, Old Testament, and Other Sources

My book The Mystery of the Historical Jesus: The Messiah in the Qur’an, the Bible, and Historical Sources is a comprehensive study of all aspects of Jesus’ life and teachings. It was always my intention to use parts of that work as the core for smaller, more focused books each of which covers certain aspects of the life of Jesus in more detail. I have already published a book on the crucifixion, and this is the second of these derivative works.
 
This book is based mainly on the chapter on the Messiah and content from other chapters in my book on the historical Jesus. The study has been significantly expanded with new material. The presentation of the reused content has also been substantially changed and improved.
 
This book continues the effort of my previous writings to achieve two related goals. First, to bring the Qur’an to a study field that Western scholarship has restricted to the Old and New Testaments and historical writings. Second, to get Islamic studies of the Qur’an to extend their scope to include historical sources and to also look more closely at the Old and New Testaments and other Jewish and Christian sources.
 
In this book, I focus on the concept of “Messiah” in the Qur’an, the Bible, and Dead Sea Scrolls. While history has played a significant part in how the image of the “Messiah” has changed over time and that history needs to be cited, this religious concept is dealt with almost exclusively in religious, even though not necessarily scriptural, sources. Independent historical sources do not help much when studying this concept.
 
All my writings have benefits greatly from the insightful comments and feedback of my wife Shetha Al-Dargazelli. Shetha’s support has also played a major role in enabling me to write my books.
 
The comments of my close friend Tariq Chaudhry have also allowed me to improve the book significantly.
 

          

Copyright © 2009 Louay Fatoohi
All Rights Reserved

May 162009
 

This is the “Introduction” to the book The Mystery of the Messiah: The Messiahship of Jesus in the Qur’an, New Testament, Old Testament, and Other Sources

The Messiah is the main figure in Christianity, as this religion was formed around Jesus’ messiahship. Judaism also gives the Messiah a special position, although it denies that Jesus was the Messiah, so the Jews continue to wait for the coming of their Messiah.
 
The Qur’an confirms the Christian belief that Jesus was the Messiah, but it has fundamental differences with the Christian representation of the Messiah. It has even more differences with the Jewish concept of the Messiah.
 
In this book, I will compare the concept of “Messiah” in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, focusing on the Qur’an in the latter case. I will try and develop a complete picture of how this concept appeared, what it originally represented, and how it was changed over time. My ultimate goal is to show that the Qur’anic Messiah is the historical one, and that both the Jewish and Christian Messiahs were developed greatly by followers of these religions.
 
The book consists of 12 chapters and 1 appendix. Chapter 1 examines in detail the concept of “Messiah” in the Old Testament and other Jewish literature, including the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Messiah in Christianity is the subject of Chapter 2. Introducing the concept of the “Messiah” in the three religions that embrace it is completed in Chapter 3 by studying this concept in the Qur’an.
 
Chapters 4-10 each discusses one element of the image of the Messiah in Christianity and Judaism and then compares it with the Qur’an. Chapter 4 focuses on whether Jesus declared publicly that he was the awaited Messiah. The Jewish and Christian claim that the Messiah was the king of the Jews is then examined in Chapter 5.

The fact that the Christian Messiah did not establish his expected kingdom has led to the belief that he will return. Jesus’ “second coming” is studied in Chapter 6. The question whether or not Jesus was a “son of David” is answered in Chapter 7. Chapter 8then scrutinizes the claim of Jewish and Christian sources that the Messiah had a unique salvational role.

Both the Qur’an and the Gospels present Jesus as an exceptional miracle worker. This is the subject of Chapter 9. Christianity differs from Judaism and Islam in presenting its Messiah as someone who suffered on behalf of people. This difference is discussed in Chapter 10.
 
Following in the footsteps of the Gospel writers, Christians have always been interested in presenting Old Testament prophecies as having been fulfilled in Jesus. This approach is critically examined in Chapter 11. Finally, Chapter 12 summarizes the findings of the previous 11 chapters as it draws the image of the historical Messiah.
 
For reference, all Qur’anic verses in which the term “Messiah” occurs have been compiled in Appendix A. For the reader’s convenience, the book has three indexes for the Qur’anic verses, Biblical passages, and general names and subjects.
 
The book uses a number of styles. Each Qur’anic verse has been followed by a combination of two numbers identifying its sūra or “chapter” and its position in that chapter. For instance, the combination 4.172 refers to the 172nd verse of the 4th chapter.
 
The translations of the Qur’an in the book are mine, even though I have consulted some English translations. As translation is an act of interpretation, reflecting the translator’s understanding of the text, I always use my own translations of the Qur’an.
 
Square brackets have been used to enclose explanatory texts that are needed to clarify the translation. Alternative texts, such as the English meaning of a term that is quoted in its Arabic origin, are enclosed in parentheses.
 
For Biblical quotes, I have used the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible. First published in 2001, this modern translation is partly based on the King James Version.
 
The book uses a number of different printing styles. Different fonts have been used for the text, Qur’anic verses, and Biblical passages. Roman transliterations of Arabic terms are in italics. 

          

Copyright © 2009 Louay Fatoohi
All Rights Reserved

Nov 202008
 

This is the “Preface” to the book The Mystery of Israel in Ancient Egypt: The Exodus in the Qur’an, the Old Testament, Archaeological Finds, and Historical Sources

This is a rewrite of our book History Testifies to the Infallibility of the Qur’an: Early History of the Children of Israelwhose first edition came out 10 years ago and which has been translated into Arabic and Indonesian. The rework is so substantial that we had to call it a new book rather than a new edition of the earlier work.

We decided to rewrite the original book because we felt that it needed a number of improvements. First, feedback on the first book indicated that it was not easy to read. Some informed readers had to read the book twice to fully understand it. Clearly, it was not reader friendly. One major reason was the way the book was structured.

Second, the original book covered some topics that were not completely needed for a book that focused on the exodus. While those topics remain as interesting as they were, they are not as relevant to the subject of Israel in ancient Egypt, so we removed them from this book. For instance, the first book covered aspects of Jesus’ story that have some subtle links to elements of the story of the exodus. These have now been covered far more comprehensively by one of us in a book that focuses on Jesus: The Mystery of the Historical Jesus: The Messiah in the Qur’an, the Bible, and Historical Sources.

Third, the text itself was also at times not easy to read, so we also focused on improving the language and readability of the text.

These changes have meant that the new book has almost a completely different structure. However, not everything has changed. The main arguments and conclusions of the book remain the same. Some sections of the new book still look similar to the corresponding sections in the older book, but even in these cases the text had to be substantially edited and improved. We believe that the new book is much better written, considerably easier and enjoyable to read, and completely accessible to the general reader.

We have also decided this time not to include the Arabic text of the Qur’anic verses. While the inclusion of the Arabic text was not an issue for the earlier book, most of the target readership of the book do not read Arabic and would find the text redundant. Furthermore, those who can read Arabic can easily check the Arabic origin of the translated Qur’anic verses should they wish to use a paper or electronic copy of the Qur’an.

This is why we have rewritten the book. But why did we write the original book in the first place?

Not many events in history have captured the imagination of the layperson and the scholar as much as the exodus. The scholarly interest in the history of Israel in ancient Egypt, in general, and the exodus, in particular, has triggered an enormous amount of research by historians, Biblicists, and archaeologists. Researchers have desperately clung to a shred of pottery unearthed from an ancient site or argued the reading or translation of a few hardly legible words from an ancient inscription to prove a point or another.

This interest of scholars in extra-Biblical data in the form of archaeological finds and ancient scriptural sources is in total contrast to their persistent neglect of the Qur’an. It is true that the Qur’an is not a traditional historical book like the Bible and that it gives only very brief information on ancient history of the Israelites. But the information it contains is significant in terms of both quality and quantity.

This attitude toward the Qur’an underlines two different assumptions. First, the Bible represents a perfectly or largely true account of history, so any book that contradicts or challenges it, as the Qur’an does, cannot be reliable. This is an assumption of faith, but it is one that influences many. Second, the Qur’an has unfaithfully copied much of its material from the Bible and other Jewish and Christian sources. This makes the Qur’an not an original, let alone credible, source of information. This view of the Qur’an is as old as the Qur’an itself. It was first held by Jews and Christians at the time of its revelation, and it remains faithfully subscribed to 14 centuries later.

It is true that a cursory look at the Qur’an would reveal similarities with the Bible. But the Qur’an implies that since Jewish writings, such as the Bible, are partly based on revealed scriptures and given that the Qur’an is revealed by the same and one God, these similarities are only to be expected. Additionally, these similarities are very limited and the differences between the Qur’an and the Bible are much greater in number and details. This general statement applies to the Qur’anic account and its Biblical counterpart of the history of Israel.

The right approach to assessing history in the Qur’an is to investigate it carefully and thoroughly and give it at least a small fraction of the time and energy that has been generously allocated to the Bible. If those interested in the historicity of the exodus had done so, they would have found a picture that is, unlike the Bible’s, internally consistent and in line with external evidence. The Qur’an does not contradict itself, and it is free of those Biblical claims, or any other claims, that fly in the face of external evidence. Furthermore, the Qur’an reveals a number of facts about the exodus that lead to an unambiguous identification of Pharaoh.

We wanted to write a book that demonstrates that keeping the Qur’an completely out of the research into the exodus was unjustifiable. Muslims in particular would also be interested in this book’s attempt to show that the accuracy of the Qur’an confirms its claim to divine origin and inerrancy. This is why we wrote this book.

When we published the first book, we hoped that it would create interest in the Qur’anic account of the history of Israel in ancient Egypt. We firmly believe that we made a strong case for further contributions to this subject and to the study of other parts and aspects of the Qur’anic text. Unfortunately, but also unsurprisingly, this has not happened yet. We still believe that this dismissive attitude toward the Qur’an will change, and our publication of this book is a confirmation of this belief.

We would like to thank our close friend Tariq Chaudhry whose comments on an earlier draft of the book helped us improve it considerably.

          

Copyright © 2008 Louay Fatoohi and Shetha Al-Dargazelli
All Rights Reserved

Nov 202008
 

This is the “Introduction” to the book The Mystery of Israel in Ancient Egypt: The Exodus in the Qur’an, the Old Testament, Archaeological Finds, and Historical Sources

The sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt and their subsequent exodus and settlement in Palestine have been among the most celebrated events of Biblical times. History, as related in the Bible, is very much the history of the Israelites who are portrayed as the “chosen people” of God and the center of His plans. It is just natural, then, to find that such eminence has been given to the sojourn, exodus, and settlement as these events represent the birth of the nation of Israel.

Not only Jewish and Christian lay believers have shown exceptional interest in the sojourn, exodus, and settlement. Scholars have been investigating every aspect of each of these episodes of the history of the Israelites. Thousands of popular and academic books and articles have been and are still being published and many scholarly lectures, seminars, and conferences have been organized to address every detail of these events. The scholarly interest in these triangular events may be divided into theological and historical. It is the historical aspect of these events that concerns us in this book.

While theologians are interested in the religious significance and implications of the sojourn, exodus, and settlement, historians’ main concern is the historical value of these incidents. The question for the historian is not what these events meant in religious terms but rather whether they occurred at all and if so whether they occurred as the Bible describes them. Ultimately, historical research into the sojourn, exodus, and settlement has significant implications for the theology of these episodes.

The investigation of the historicity of the sojourn, exodus, and settlement was boosted from the late 19th century by the growing amount of information unearthed by archaeological excavations in Egypt, Palestine, and Jordan, in particular, and the Near East, in general. Historians needed no more to rely only on the Bible and other ancient Jewish sources as their only sources. Scholars interested in the historicity of Biblical events finally have in archaeological finds independent sources. The Biblical account, thus, started to be examined in the light of the new data. In the eyes of many, a totally new field of research has thus developed: “Biblical archaeology.”

We will be examining the Biblical account and archaeological finds. But this book’s main new contribution to the literature is its detailed investigation of the Qur’anic story of the exodus and its demonstration of the harmony of this account with external evidence. This book is a modest attempt to create what might be called “Qur’anic archaeology.”

This book does not follow the trend common among scholars of trying to rationalize miracles and present them as normal events to convince the disbeliever and the skeptic reader that they did occur. It rather focuses on determining the historical contexts within which miracles took place. It is true that history consists, largely, of normal and natural events, but miracles also have influentially contributed to what history came to be and they will continue to do so. The crossing of the sea was one of those miracles without which the history of the world would have been totally different.

We need to explain some of the stylistic choices in the book. Each Qur’anic verse has been followed by a combination of two numbers identifying its sura or “chapter” and its position in that chapter. For instance, the combination 28.3 refers to the 3rd verse of the 28th chapter.

We have consulted some English translations of the Qur’an, but the translations used are ours. We always use our own translations of the Qur’an because translation is an act of interpretation, reflecting the translator’s understanding of the text.

Square brackets have been used to enclose explanatory texts that are needed to clarify the translation. Alternative texts, such as the English meaning of a term that is cited in its Arabic origin, are enclosed in round brackets.

A number of different printing styles are used in the book. A special font has been used for the Qur’anic text and another for Biblical passages. Roman transliterations of Arabic terms are in italics.

Let’s now take a quick look at the contents of the book. Chapter 1 presents the story of Joseph’s entry into Egypt in the Bible and the Qur’an. It then discusses some of the problems in the Biblical account.

In Chapter 2 we first explain why the absence of any mention of Joseph and Moses in ancient non-scriptural sources has no implication for the historicity of these characters and their stories. The chapter then uses the Bible, the Qur’an, and information from archaeological finds and historical sources to date the entry of the early Israelites into Egypt and identify the area where they lived. We also discuss the nature of the high position that Joseph held.

The story of Moses, and thus the exodus, according to the Bible is summarized in Chapter 3. This chapter also discusses problems in the Biblical account. These consist of discrepant passages, unrealistic claims, and statements that contradict established facts.

Chapter 4 first reviews the Qur’anic story of Moses. It then discusses a number of Biblical claims that are not supported by the Qur’an.

In Chapter 5, references in the Biblical account of the exodus that can be used, with the help of archaeological findings, to date that event are examined. The chapter also considers Biblical inconsistencies and discusses which references are more likely to be accurate.

Identifying Pharaoh according to the Qur’an is the focus of Chapter 6. The Qur’an contains information that allows us to identify this Pharaoh unambiguously.

Chapter 7 then studies in detail an important character in the Qur’anic story of the exodus called Hāmān. A Persian Hāmān is also mentioned in the Bible, but the chapter shows that the Egyptian Hāmān was historical whereas the Biblical Hāmān is unhistorical and the result of changing the story of the original Hāmān in the editorial work that the Biblical text went through over the centuries.

How Moses prepared the Israelites for the exodus and how they left Egypt are the subjects of Chapter 8.

In Chapter 9, the limited information in the Qur’an about Moses and the Israelites after the exodus is covered. The chapter also examines the earliest mention of the Israelites in an ancient record and its ramifications for the exodus.

Chapter 10 examines the Biblical and Qur’anic stories of Pharaoh’s massacre of Israelites infant males at the time of Moses’ birth. It also discusses the Qur’anic statement that Pharaoh ordered a second massacre of Israelites males after Moses’ return to Egypt. The chapter concludes with a critical study of a misleading approach that reduces many historical stories, scriptural and non-scriptural, to motif works.

In Chapter 11, we discuss the various names given to the Israelites in the Bible and the Qur’an. We show how the Biblical term “Hebrew” is a misnomer that was used by the Biblical authors for a certain purpose. We also discuss the different etymologies that the Qur’an and the Bible give to the term “Jew.”

Chapter 12 summarizes the findings of this book, telling the story of the exodus using the Qur’an and archaeological and historical sources.

The book has two appendices for reference. Appendix A compiles the longest accounts of Moses’ story from various Qur’anic chapters.

Appendix B lists the Kingdoms of ancient Egypt. It gives a chronology for all Periods and the Dynasties that are more relevant to the book. It also contains a listing of all Pharaohs of the 19th Dynasty, which is when the exodus took place.

For the reader’s convenience, the book has three indexes for Qur’anic verses, Biblical passages, and general names and subjects.

 

          

Copyright © 2008 Louay Fatoohi and Shetha Al-Dargazelli
All Rights Reserved