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 262012
 

I have received a question by email about the following verses:

He is the One who knows the unseen (ghayb), and He reveals His unseen (ghayb) to no one (72.26), except to the messenger He is pleased with, so He sends guards before of him and behind him (72.27) so that He may know that they (the messengers) have delivered the messages of their Lord. He encompasses what they have and He has reckoned everything in number. (72.28)

The question in the word of the enquirer is this: “Verse 26 says that Allah (swt) knows all ghaib and does not disclose this knowledge to anyone (including the angels). So verse 26 seems to imply that Allah (swt) would have already known if the message was delivered by the messenger to the people…so why does verse 28 says “so that He may know“”?

This is a very clever observation, and the answer requires a discussion of a number of verses and concepts.

I should first note that the Qur’an stresses in various places that Allah is omniscient and that He knows the “ghayb (unseen). The latter is one term that the Qur’an uses in a number of verses to refer to God’s knowledge of everything in the past, present, and future. I have written an article about The Concept of “Ghayb” (Unseen) in the Qur’an. But there are many other verses that emphasize God’s absolute knowledge of everything that do not use this term. For instance, there are 16 verses that describe Allah as being “bikulli shay’in ‘alīm” which translates as “He is knowledgeable of everything,” “He is aware of everything,” or, less literally, “He knows everything.” These verses are 2.29, 2.231, 2.282, 4.176, 5.97, 6.101, 8.75, 9.115, 24.35, 24.64, 29.62, 42.12, 49.16, 57.3, 58.7, and 64.11. There are many other verses that convey the same meaning using different wordings.

Similarly, verse 72.28 is not the only one that uses the term “liya‘lam” with reference to God. There also the following verses:

If a wound touches you (O you who believe!), a similar wound already has touched the other people. These are days which we make to alternate amongst people so that Allah may know who are the believers and that He may take witnesses from among you. Allah does not love the evildoers. (3.140) 

What befell you the day when the two armies met was by Allah’s permission, so that He may know the believers (3.166) and He may know those who act hypocritically, having been said to them: “Come to fight in Allah’s way,” or “repel [the enemy],” they said: “If we knew how to fight we would surely follow you.” They were that day nearer to disbelief than they were to faith. They say with their mouths what is not in their hearts, but Allah knows best what they hide. (3.167) 

O you who believe! Allah will try you with something of the game that your hands and your lances take, so that Allah may know who fears Him on faith. Whoever transgresses after that, there awaits him a painful chastisement. (5.94) 

We sent Our Messengers with clear signs, and We sent down with them the Book and the Balance so that people might uphold justice. We sent down iron, in which is both great might and many uses for people. So that Allah might know who helps Him and His Messengers on faith. Allah is mighty, impregnable. (57.25)

There are another two verses that use the similar term “laya‘lam.” This term, however, has a slightly different meaning from “liya‘lam.” The letter “l” in “laya‘lam” is used for making an oath. These are the two verses:

We tried those that were before them. Allah will surely know the truthful and He will surely know the liars. (29.3) 

Allah will surely know those who believe and He will surely know the hypocrites. (29.11)

Interestingly, exegetes of the Qur’an have felt the need to comment on the use of the expression “so that He may know” in 72.28 but not in the other verses! Many have suggested that “He” here does not stand for God but “Prophet Muhammad” or “Satan.” Other views have suggested that the referent is “the messengers” or “the disbelievers,” even though the pronoun in question is singular. Obviously, scholars give different interpretations to the verse when using different meanings for the pronoun.

There are verses that use other variations of the Arabic verb “ya‘lam (know)” in a similar meaning, like this:

We will try you until na‘lam (We know) those among you who fight strenuously and the patient. (47.31)

None of the verses above suggest that Allah will know only when the events described in those verses take place. This is one verse that stresses God’s foreknowledge of all people:

We know those who have gone before and those who will come later. (15.24)

The wordings in those verses refer to the realization of God’s foreknowledge. God talks in those verses about the realization of knowledge from the unseen, that only He has access to, into knowledge in the visible world that many can acquire. The classical exegete al-Qurṭubī (d. 671/1273) puts it very succinctly when he says in his commentary on verse 72.28: “so that He knows that by witnessing as He knew it from the unseen.” Put differently, the Qur’an distinguishes between the world of the unseen (ghayb), and the world that is accessible to our senses, which scholars have called the world of “shahāda” – a term derived from the verb “shahada (to witness)”. Verses that talk about God coming to know  something are referring to the realization of His knowledge from the unseen into knowledge in the visible world.

I would like to comment a little more specifically about 72.26-28. The “raṣada (guards)” in 72.27 refers to angels whom Allah sends to protect the integrity of the revelation so that the prophet, that is any prophet, does not get confused by Satan as the latter tries to  communicate to him suggestions that could get mixed with the divine revelation. This is the same protection that is referred to in this verse:

We have not sent any messenger or prophet before you [O Muhammad!] but that when he wished, Satan cast into his wish. But Allah yansakhu (annuls) what Satan casts, then Allah confirms His verses. Verily, Allah is all-knowing, all-wise. (22.52)

This is one of the main verses that is said to confirm the veracity of the doctrine of “naskh (abrogation). In my book Abrogation in the Qur’an and Islamic Law: A Critical Study of the Concept of “Naskh” and its Impact, I discuss this verse in detail and show that this is not its meaning, as I have pointed out above. 

To sum up the thesis of this article: history is the realization of God’s foreknowledge.

Copyright © 2012 Louay Fatoohi
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Apr 212012
 

As the unchanged and unerring Word of God, the Qur’an has naturally been considered by Muslims as containing miracles. Many scientific claims have been identified in the Qur’an. Of course, any such identification presumes that the specific scientific claim is a definite fact. Linking a Qur’anic text to any conceived scientific fact often requires preferring one particular interpretation of a word or expression in that Qur’anic text over possible alternatives. Such effort is, of course, open to error. The supposed scientific fact may be later proved to be wrong and/or the interpretation of the relevant Qur’anic passage may be wrong. In this article, I will discuss such a case of misidentification where a misinterpretation of a Qur’anic text is linked to a supposed scientific fact in the Qur’an.

In order to explain certain observations that the view that the universe was static could not explain, astronomers in the twenties of the 20th century developed the theory that the universe is expanding. That the universe is expanding is now considered an established scientific fact.Some Muslims claim that the Qur’an contains a verse that state that the universe has been expanding. This is the verse in question:

And the heaven We built it with might and We lamūsi‘ūn. (51.47)

The term “lamūsi‘ūn” is usually understood as meaning “expanding.” The word “heaven” is taken to mean the “universe” and to be the object of the action of “expanding,” and thus it is claimed that this verse shows that the Qur’an has revealed that the universe is expanding. This, however, is a misunderstanding of the word “lamūsiūn.” I should first note that most translations do not suggest a link between this verse and the concept of expanding universe:

Translator Translation
Pickthall We have built the heaven with might, and We it is Who make the vast extent (thereof).
Palmer And the heaven — we have built it with might, and, verily, we do surely give it ample space!
Rodwell And the Heaven — with our hands have we built it up, and given it its expanse.
Sale We have built the heaven with might; and we have given [it] a large extent.
Shakir And the heaven, We raised it high with power, and most surely We are the makers of things ample.
Sher Ali And We have built the heavens with Our own hands, and, verily, We have vast powers.
Yusuf Ali With power and skill did We construct the Firmament: for it is We Who create the vastness of pace.

But some translations allow a link between the verse and the expanding universe concept:

Translator Translation
Arberry And heaven — We built it with might, and We extend it wide.
Hilali-Khan With power did We construct the heaven. Verily, We are Able to extend the vastness of space thereof.
Khalifa We constructed the sky with our hands, and we will continue to expand it.

Whether or not accommodating linking the verse to the concept of expanding universe, all nine translators link the term “lamūsi‘ūn” to “expansion,” “space,” “vastness,” and such concepts.

Some classical exegetes of the Qur’an have also established this link in the verse. For instance, Qurṭubī (d. 671/1272) and ibn Kathīr (d. 774/1372) interpret this term as meaning “We have expanded its borders.” Others, however, have differed. For instance, Zamakhsharī (d. 538/1144) and Baiḍāwī (d. 685/1286) take it to mean “We are capable.” Rāzī (d. 606/1209) considers both interpretations as possible, so he says that it may mean “we expanded it” or “We are capable.” Obviously, those who linked “lamusi’un” to “expansion” did not have the concept of expanding universe in mind. Nevertheless, linking this term to “expansion” is the result of wrong interpretation.

The article “la” in “lamūsi‘ūn” is used for oath or emphasis, so the term we are interested in is “mūsi‘ūn.” This term is the masculine plural of an active participle “mūsi‘.” The plural of this word and the plural pronoun “We” are used in the verse because they refer to God. In Arabic, the plural is often used as a mark of respect and authority. For instance, a king may refer to himself in the plural with “we.”

The active participle “mūsi” is derived from “sia.” The latter may mean “expanse.” For instance, “wāsi,” which is another active participle of “si’a,” is used 5 times to mean “vast.” This is the case when it is applied to describe God’s “land” (4.97, 29.56, 39.10) “mercy” (6.147), and “forgiveness” (53.32) as being “vast”. But in its remaining 8 occurrences, the term “wāsi” has the broader meaning of “accommodating” or “encompassing.” In these verses, “wāsi” is used to describe God Himself, i.e. it is is one of the Beautiful Names of God. I will revisit this particular use of “wāsi” later.

But the term “si’a” also means “capability,” or “capacity.” This is an example:

Allah does not charge a soul but to its wusahā (capacity). (2.286)

So what does active participle “mūsi” then mean? In addition to its occurrence in verse 51.47, this term occurs also in this verse:

There is no fault in you if you divorce women before you have touched them or appointed a settlement for them. But make provision for them, the mūsi (affluent man) according to his means, and the needy man according to his means; [it is] a provision in reason — an obligation on the good-doers. (2.236)

Clearly, the term “mūsi” has no sense of expansion, but it stands for the person who can afford higher provisions, i.e. it describes capability. This sense of the word becomes even clearer when we consider the use of its verb “wasia.” This verb occurs six times in the Qur’an. These occurrences are particularly instructive because they are used with reference to God in some way or another, like the use of the term “lamūsiūn” in 51.47. The first three verses use the verb to describe the fact that God encompassed everything with His knowledge:

My Lord wasia (encompasses) everything in His knowledge. (6.80)

Our Lord wasia (encompasses) everything in His knowledge. (7.89)

[He] wasia (encompasses) everything in His knowledge. (20.98)

The Qur’anic expression that is repeated in the three verses emphasizes that God comprehends everything with His knowledge, so there is nothing that He does not know. There is no knowledge beyond God’s knowledge. His knowledge contains all knowledge.

The forth verse applies the verb to God’s mercy:

My mercy wasiat (encompasses) everything. (7.156)

The fifth verse combines the meanings of the four verses above:

Our Lord! Wasita (You encompass) everything in Your mercy and knowledge. (40.7)

Now, if we then try and derive the active participle “musi” from the verb “wasia,” we have to conclude that it the former means “encompassing.” If this is the case, then verse 51.47 must be understood as follows:

And the heaven We built it with might and We lamūsiūn (are encompassing it). (51.47)

This verse confirms that the heaven is completely within and under God’s control. There is no reference whatsoever to expansion of the heaven. The term “lamūsiūn” describes God not the heaven. This interpretation becomes even more emphatic when we consider the sixth and last verse in which the verb wasi’a occurs:

His Throne wasia (encompasses) the heavens and the earth and preserving them does not cause him any tiredness. (2.255)

This is the closet verse of all to 51.47. Clearly, it reiterates the fact that the heaven and the earth are within God’s control.

I pointed out earlier that the active participle “wāsi” is used 8 times in the Qur’an to describe God. Interestingly, in 7 verses, the term appears in the expression “wāsi alīm” (2.115, 2.147, 2.261, 2.268, 3.73, 4.54, 24.32) and once in the expression “wāsian ḥakīman” (4.130). The term “alīm” means “knowledgable” and “ḥakīman” means “wise.” You can see here also that the term “wāsi” is related to vastness of knowledge not special vastness.

Now note the concept of God being “encompassing” in knowledge in this verse also:

It is Allah who created seven heavens, and of earth their like. The Command descends between them, that you may know that Allah is powerful over everything and that Allah encompasses everything in knowledge. (65.12)

The Arabic term that I have translated as “encompasses” here is “aḥāṭa,” which may also be translated as “surrounds.” This verse and verse 51.47 have clear similarity in meaning.

This article in no way suggests that there are no miracles in the Qur’an. It only points out that the particular claim that verse 51.47 talks about an expanding universe is not supported by how the critical term “wasia” is used in other verses in the Qur’an.

Copyright © 2012 Louay Fatoohi
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Jun 212010
 

In my previous article The First Verse of the Qur’anI discussed the opinions of scholars about which verse of the Qur’an was revealed first. I identified four different views and concluded that 96.1 is likely to be the verse with which the revelation of the Qur’an started.

When it comes to identifying the last verse of the Qur’an, scholars have shown even more disagreement and uncertainty. There are several different views, which I will review in this article.

1) Verse 2.281: After quoting verses 278-281, al-Bukhari (d. 256 H / 870 CE) goes on to say that “ibn Abbas has said that this is the last verse that was revealed to the Prophet”:

Fear the day when you shall be returned to Allah, then each soul shall be paid what it has earned, and they shall not be wronged. (2.281)

An-Nasai (d. 303 H / 915 CE) also said that ibn Abbas has described this verse as the last verse of the Qur’an. He also reports a similar hadith in which ibn Abbas says: “The last thing of the Qur’an to be revealed was ‘fear the day when you shall be returned to Allah.’” This view is also found in atTabari’s (d. 310 H / 922 CE) commentary. Some reports have claimed that this verse was revealed nine or eighty one days before the Prophet’s death.

2) Verse 2.282: It has been reported by ibn Jarir on the authority of Sa‘id bin al-Musayyab that the last verse of the Qur’an is the “verse of loaning,” which is the longest verse in the Qur’an:

O you who believe! If you contract a loan for a stated term then write it down, and let a scribe faithfully write it down between you. A scribe should not refuse to write as Allah taught him, but let him write, and let he who owes the debt dictate; but let him fear Allah his Lord and not diminish anything of it. But if the debtor was a fool, weak, or cannot dictate himself, then let his agent faithfully dictate. And call to witness two witnesses from amongst your men, but if they were not two men then a man and two women, from those whom you deem fit as witnesses, so that if one of the two [women] should err, the second may remind the other. Let not the witnesses refuse when they are summoned. Do not tire of writing it, be it small or great, with its term. That is more just in the sight of God, more upright for testimony, and best for avoiding doubt, unless it is a ready-money transaction between you, which you arrange between yourselves, then it is no offence by you that you do not write it down. Have witnesses when you sell one to another, and let not either scribe or witness come to harm, for if you do it will be an abomination in you. Fear Allah, for Allah teaches you, and Allah knows all things. (2.282)

3) Verse 2.278: al-Bukhari reports a hadith that he traces back to ibn Abbas in which the latter says that “the last verse that was revealed to the Prophet is the ‘verse of usury’”:

O you who believe! Fear Allah and abandon your remaining usury, if you are indeed believers. (2.278)

It has been reported that this verse was revealed nine days, seven days, three days, or three hours before the death of the Prophet.

As-Suyuti (d. 911 H / 1505 CE) has tried to reconcile the three opinions above by suggesting that all these verses were revealed at the same time in their order in the mushaf and were the last to be revealed. Verses 2.279-2.280 both continue the discussion of usury, so 2.278-2.280 are likely to have been revealed at the same time. Being about loans, verse 2.282 may be linked to the earlier three verses on usury, but there is no reason to presume that this verse was revealed at the same time as the three on usury. Furthermore, verse 2.281, which separates the usury verses and the one on loans, is a general verse that need not be specifically linked to the subjects of usury and loans and their verses.

4) Verse 4.93: Both al-Bukhari and Muslim (d. 261 H / 875 CE) report that ibn Abbas has said that this verse is “the last that was revealed and it was not abrogated (annulled) by anything”:

He who intentionally kills a believer his recompense will be hell in which he shall dwell forever, Allah shall have wrath on him, will curse him, and will have for him a grave torment. (4.93)

5) Verse 4.176: Al-Bukhari, Muslim, an-Nasai, and others report on the authority of the companion al-Bira’ bin ‘Azib that this was the last verse of the Qur’an:

They will ask you [O Muhammad!] for a ruling. Say: “Allah rules for you concerning the remote kinship. If a man dies having no children, but he has a sister, she shall have half of what he leaves, and he is her heir if she has no children. If there are two sisters, they shall receive two-thirds of what he leaves. If there are men and women siblings, the male shall get the share of two females. Allah explains to you lest you go astray; Allah knows all things. (4.176)

6) Verse 9.128-129: Ahmad bin Hanbal (d. 241 H / 855 CE) reported on the authority of the companion Ubay bin Ka’b that verse 9.128 was the last verse that was revealed to the Prophet:

There has come to you a Messenger from among yourselves, grievous to him is your suffering, careful over you, compassionate and merciful for the believers. (9.128)

7) Verse 18.110: AtTabarani (d. 360 H / 970 CE) has reported on the authority of Mu’awiya bin abi Sufyan that 18.110 was the last verse to be revealed:

Say O Muhammad!: “I am only a human like you. It is being revealed to me that your Lord is only one. Let him who hopes to meet his Lord do good works and refrain from associating anyone in worshiping his Lord.” (18.110)

8) Verse 3.195: A report attributes to Um Salama, the wife of the Prophet, saying that 3.195 was the last verse:

So their Lord answered them: “I do not waste the works of a worker among you, be it male or female — one of you is from the other. Those who migrated, were expelled from their houses, were harmed in my way, fought, and were killed I shall pardon their evil deeds, and I shall enter them into gardens beneath which rivers flow. This is a reward from Allah, and Allah has the best of rewards.” (3.195)

I have not considered reports about the last chapter to be revealed, which may imply that the last verse of that chapter was the last verse of the Qur’an also. For instance, Muslim reports on the authority of ibn Abbas that chapter 110 was the last chapter revealed. Other reports name other chapters, including 5 and 48.

Let’s discuss the plausibility of the eight reports. Verse 9.128 is followed in the mushaf by a verse that clearly continues it: “But if they turn away, then say ‘Allah is sufficient for me; there is not god but Him. In Him I put my trust; He is the Lord of the mighty throne.” If either of these two verses were the last revelation, then it would have to be 9.129 not 9.128.

Verse 18.110 reminds people that while a human being, Muhammad was a prophet who receives revelation from God. It also enjoins the main message of the Qur’an, which is to combine good works with belief. So this verse is similar to other verses in the Qur’an and there is nothing in it suggesting that it is the last to be revealed. But crucially, the wording “it is being revealed to me” suggests the continuation rather than the cessation of the revelation.

Verse 3.195 is similar in subject to other verses that were revealed during the ongoing struggle of Muslims with their enemies, so I would rule it out from being the last verse of the Qur’an.

It is highly unlikely that a verse that addresses a specific legal issue was the last verse of the Qur’an. This would exclude verses 2.282, 2.278, 4.93, and 4.167.

This would leave us with verses 2.281: “Fear the day when you shall be returned to Allah, then each soul shall be paid what it has earned, and they shall not be wronged.” This verse has a reference to death and it has nothing that would rule it out from being the last verse the way we ruled out the other seven. Nevertheless, while we can confidently exclude the other seven verses, it would be unjustified to suggest that we can say with certainty that 2.281 was the last verse to be revealed. It is only a possibility.

I think it is reasonable to assume that the last verse of the Qur’an would have something linking it to the completion of the Qur’anic revelation, the imminent departure of the Prophet, or both. But this assumption is still not enough to try and identify the last verse. This view, however, might have been behind the popular belief among Muslims that this part of verse 5.3 is the last revelation: “Today I have perfected for you your religion, fulfilled on you My favor, and approved Islam as your religion.” Actually, there is no source to confirm this view. There are reports that this verse was revealed on the Day of ‘Arafa which happened to be a Friday. This is understood to be during the last pilgrimage of the Prophet, which was a few months before his death. But there are reports that explicitly state that the revelation of this verse was followed by the revelation of others, including some we discussed above, so it cannot be the last verse according to these sources. The point is that this verse could be the last one but there is no report in the old sources confirming this, although there are reports suggesting that it was one of the latest verses.

Significantly, no report that identifies the last verse of the Qur’an attributes this identification to the Prophet! Those reports trace their statements to companions of the Prophet or their successors. So the existing reports imply that either the Prophet did not recognize the last verse to be so or that he did not inform the Muslims that the Qur’anic revelation was completed. I do not find either of these implications credible. Rather, I am of the view that this information has been lost and did not survive in the available sources.

For a more detailed and most comprehensive study of this subject, see this book:

     

Copyright © 2010 Louay Fatoohi
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May 092010
 

In a previous article on The Difference Between “Qur’an” and “Mushaf” I explained that the Qur’an’s chapters (singular: sura; plural: suwar) and verses (singular: aya; plural: ayat) are not compiled in the mushaf in the chronological order of their revelation. There is consensus that it was Prophet Muhammad who identified the place of each verse within its chapter. There are a number of hadiths (narratives about the Prophet) in the Musnad of Ahmad bin Hanbal (164-241 H / 780-855 CE), Sunnan of at-Tarmithi (209-279 H / 824-892 CE), and other hadith sources that state that the Messenger used to tell the recorders of the revelation in which chapters to place newly revealed verses. As for the order of the chapters in the mushaf, some scholars think it was determined by the Prophet, others suggest it was the companions, and a third group reckons it was a combination of both.

The fact that the chapters and verses are not chronologically listed in the mushaf means, among other things, that the earliest verse that was revealed to Prophet Muhammad is not the first verse of the first chapter in the mushaf. Similarly, the last verse to be revealed is not the last verse of the mushaf. Put differently, the first and last verses of the mushaf do not represent the first and last verses of the Qur’an. Like all aspects of the Qur’an, identifying its first verse and last one has continued to attract the attention of Muslims scholars down the centuries. In this article, we will focus on the question of the first verse of the Qur’an.

Sources have discussed five different views and possibilities about which verse was revealed first:

1) The first verse of chapter 96. In the oldest surviving biography of Prophet Muhammad, Ibn Hisham (d. 218 H / 833 CE) states that Gabriel appeared to Muhammad one night when he was sleeping in a cave on a mountain called Hira’ in Mecca, where he used to go for a spiritual retreat for a month every year (see my article One Night in a Cave that Changed History Forever). Carrying a book, Gabriel commanded him to “read.” Muhammad refused the order twice before finally asking about what he was supposed to read. Gabriel replied with following verses of the Qur’an:

Read [O Muhammad!] in the name of your Lord who created. (96.1) He created man from a clot. (96.2) Read, and your Lord is the Most Honorable (96.3) who taught with the pen. (96.4)

Muhammad then recited the verses in his sleep. When he woke up, he felt as if the words had been engraved on his heart. On his way down from the mountain, the Prophet heard a voice from heaven saying: “O Muhammad! You are the messenger of Allah, and I am Gabriel.”

In his renowned collection of hadith, al-Bukhari (194-256 H / 810-870 CE) gives a slightly different version of this story in which he adds verse 93.5 to the first revealed verses. The hadith is attributed to ‘A’isha, the wife of the Prophet:

The commencement of the divine inspiration to the Messenger of Allah was in the form of good dreams which came true like bright daylight, and then the love of seclusion was bestowed on him. He used to go into seclusion in the Cave of Hira’ where he used to worship [Allah alone] continuously for many days before he would desire to see his family. He used to take with him the journey food for the stay and would then come back to [his wife] Khadija to take food for another stay, until suddenly the Truth descended upon him while he was in the Cave of Hira’. The angel came to him and asked him to read. The Prophet replied, “I do not know how to read.”

The Prophet added, “The angel caught me [forcefully] and pressed me so hard that I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read and I replied, ‘I do not know how to read.’ So he caught me again and pressed me a second time till I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read but again I replied, ‘I do not know how to read.’ So he caught me for the third time and pressed me, and then released me and said:

Read [O Muhammad!] in the name of your Lord who created. (96.1) He created man from a clot. (96.2) Read, and your Lord is the Most Honorable (96.3) who taught with the pen, (96.4) taught man what he did not know. (96.5)

The Messenger of Allah returned with the inspiration and with his heart beating fast. Then he went to [his wife] Khadija bint Khuwailid and said: “Cover me! Cover me!” They covered him until his fear was over, and after that he told her everything that had happened. He said: “I fear that something bad may happen to me.” Khadija replied: “Never! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you. You keep good relations with your kin, assist the weak, help the poor, serve your guests generously, and assist the calamity-afflicted ones.”

Khadija then took Muhammad to her cousin, Waraqa bin Nawfal. This blind old man had converted to Christianity and had knowledge of the Injil that was revealed to Jesus. after listening to Muhammad’s story, Waraqa told him that he has received the same divine revelation that was given to Moses and prophesied that Muhammad’s people would expel him at some point as all those who received such revelation where mistreated by their peoples.

This hadith is reported by Muslim (206-261 H / 821-875 CE) also. It is the source of the consensus of scholars that 96.1-5 where the first Qur’anic verses to be revealed.

2) Verse 74.1. One such claim is reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Yahya bin Abi Kathir:

I asked Abu Salama bin Abd Ar-Rahman about the first revelation of the Qur’an. He said: “O you who are clothed.” I said: “They say [it is rather]: ‘Read in the name of your Lord who created.’” Abu Salama replied: “I asked Jabir bin Abdullah, may Allah be pleased with them, about that, and told him as you said, but Jabir replied: ‘I would not tell you other than what the Messenger of Allah, Allah’s prayer and peace be upon him, told us: “I went to stay in Hira’. After finishing my stay, and while I was coming down, I was called upon. I looked right, left, front, and behind, but could not see anyone. But when I raised my head I saw something. I then came to Khadija and said: ‘Cover me, and pour cold water on me!’” He said: “They covered me and poured cold water on me.” He said: “Then the following verses were revealed: ‘O you who are clothed (74.1)! Arise and warn (74.2)! And your Lord do magnify (74.3).’”’”

Scholars have tried to reconcile this hadith with the one attributed to ‘A’isha. It has been suggested that Jabir’s hadith does not talk about the very first revelation of the Qur’an, but rather about the verses that were first revealed after the well-known period of cessation of revelation (fatrat al-wahyi) to the Prophet. This view is based on a second hadith attributed to Jabir and is reported by az-Zuhri:

Abu Salama told me on the authority of Jabir bin Abdullah, may Allah be pleased with both of them: “I heard the Prophet, Allah’s prayer and peace be on him, talk about the period of cessation of revelation. He said: ‘While I was walking, I heard a voice from heaven. I raised my head and saw the angel who visited me in Hira’ sitting on a chair between the heaven and earth. I was terrified, so I returned [home] and said: “cover me, cover me.” They covered me, so Allah, high is He, revealed: “O you who are clothed (74.1)! Arise and warn (74.2)! And your Lord do magnify. (74.3) And purify your clothes. (74.4) And abomination shun. (74.5)” This was before prayer was made obligatory. The “abomination” refers to the idols [the Arabs used to worship].

True, this hadith states that the reported event took place after the cessation of revelation that followed the Prophet’s first meeting with Gabriel during which, presumably, the first verses of chapter 96 were revealed. But this observation does not deal with the problem in Jabir’s first hadith: its unambiguous rejection that the verses of chapter 96 were the first to be revealed. One attempt to explain away the contradiction has been to suggest that Jabir was reporting what he had heard from the Prophet about the cessation of revelation and that he, mistakenly, interpreted the Prophet’s words to be about the first verses ever to be revealed. This explanation has been adopted by classical scholars as well as modern ones, such as Muhammad az-Zarqani in his well-known book Manahil Al-‘irfan fi ‘ulum al-Qur’an (The Springs of Knowledge of the Sciences of the Qur’an) . The fact scholars can take this highly speculative view about how Jabir could have completely misunderstood something so obvious shows the extent of the reluctance of scholars to take the much more likely view that the hadiths reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim, who wrote their hadith compilations over two centuries after the Prophet, might have some inaccuracies. If the first part of the hadith which clearly rejects the case for 96.1 in preference for 74.1 is deemed unhistorical, then the remaining of Jabir’s first hadith would be reconcilable with ‘Ai’sha’s and Jabir’s second.

Another attempt to avoid attributing inaccuracy to hadiths reported by the “two Shaikhs,” as al-Bukhari and his student Muslim are known, is to suggest that Jabir’s first hadith was about which “whole chapter,” not “single verse,” was revealed first. One reference to this view is found in As-Suyuti’s renowned book al-Itqan fi ‘Ulum al-Qur’an (Perfection in the Sciences of the Qur’an) . The problem, however, is that there is nothing in Jabir’s first hadith to suggest that it was about the first chapter rather than the first verse. Again, scholars have been more prepared to interpolate and extrapolate the text with pure speculation, which does not dispel the contradiction anyway.

A third attempt, also reported by as-Suyuti, is to suggest that Jabir did not mean the first verses ever but only the first verses that include warnings to people, or what some described as the first verses that moved Muhammad’s Prophethood into the phase of the delivery of the message!

As I said, it is perfectly possible to reconcile all these hadiths by simply ignoring the first part in Jabir’s first hadith. But this is more of a problem than a solution for those who believe that everything in the books of al-Bukhari and Muslim is sahih or “correct,” i.e. every hadith is a totally accurate narrative about what the Prophet said and did.

3) The first verse in the mushaf, i.e. verse 1 of chapter 1 which is known as al-Fatiha (the Opening). The view that this was the first verse to be revealed is a hadith reported by, among others, Abu Bakr al-Bayhaqi (d. 384 H / 994 CE):

[Muhammad said to Khadija]: “When I am alone I hear a call, and I become scared about myself that this may be something bad.” She said: “May Allah forbid! He would not do that to you. You deliver what you are trusted with, look after your relatives, and do not say but the truth.” When Abu Bakr came in Khadija mentioned his (Muhammad’s) words to him and said to him: “Go with Muhammad to Waraqa.” They went to see Waraqa and Muhammad told him: “When I am alone I hear a call coming from behind me, so I run forward to escape.” Waraqa said: “Do not do that. If he (the caller) comes to you then stay put until you hear what he has got to say then come and let me know.” When later Muhammad was alone, he was called: “O Muhammad! Say: ‘In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate. (1.1) Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, (1.2) the Merciful, the Compassionate, (1.3) the ruler of the Day of Judgment. (1.4) You we worship and You we ask for help from. (1.5) Guide us to the right path, (1.6) the path of those whom You have shown favour to, not of those whom You have been angry with nor of those who go astray. (1.7)’”

Two arguments were made against this view. First, this hadith is mursal, i.e. it is not traced to a companion of the prophet but to one of their successors. Second, this hadith does not mean that the revelation of al-Fatiha was the first revelation, which took place in the Hira’ cave, but it shows that the chapter of al-Fatiha was revealed after that. This objection, which aZ-Zarqani raises, is too weak. The narrative clearly shows that Muhammad had not been familiar with Gabriel before he followed Waraqa’s advice and responded to the caller. It clearly contradicts the hadith that states that the first verses are those of chapter 96.

4) The basmala, i.e. “In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate,” which starts all chapters of the Qur’an except chapter 9. This view is based on a hadith that al-Wahidi (d. 468 H / 1076 CE) — in his famous book on the causes of the revelation of various verses, Asbab an-Nuzul — attributes to ‘Ukruma and al-Hasan al-Basri. They state that “in the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate” was the first verse to be revealed, so this is the first revealed verse and 96 is the first whole chapter to be revealed. One objection to this view is that this hadith is mursal rather than linked to a companion of the Prophet. A different attempt to reconcile this hadith with those that present 96.1-5 as the first verses is the suggestion that the basmala is in the beginning of all but one Qur’anic chapter anyway, so it must have been revealed with and before 96.1-5. The contradiction in this suggestion, however, is that it treats both 96.1 and the basmala as the first revealed verse! This attempt is focused on reconciling the contradictory hadiths, so it yields a contradiction of its own.

5) Unidentified verse from a chapter that speaks about paradise and hell. This view is derived from a hadith in al-Bukhari and Muslim in which ‘A’isha is reported to have said: “The first to have been revealed of it (the Qur’an) is one of the detailed chapters in which paradise and hell are mentioned.” As-Suyuti, who is the minority of scholars who mention the fifth view, suggests a rather convoluted reconciliation in which this hadith, those of about chapter 96, and the ones about chapter 74 are all reconciled.

The overwhelming majority of scholars accept that 96.1 was the first revealed verse, although they differ at times in their treatment of the other reports. I am inclined to agree that 96-1.5 were the first verses of the Qur’an to be revealed. It is possible that the basmala preceded 96.1 and was thus revealed first, but this not mentioned in the reported hadiths about 96.1-5. I am minded to think that this suggestion is likely to be a later conclusion by scholars who, noting that this verse precedes every chapter in the mushaf but one, concluded that it must have been the first verse of the Qur’an too.

I also disagree with the attempts to reconcile all reported hadiths — including those about chapter 74, which are found in both al-Bukhari and Muslim — simply because the hadiths are clearly contradictory and irreconcilable. It is not an act that contravenes Islam, the Qur’an, or Prophetic teachings to think a hadith reported some two centuries after the Prophet might have inaccuracy. Not that the hadiths we discussed in this article are the only, let alone the best, example on inconsistencies and contradictions within the same book of hadith or between different hadith books. It is also important to note that suggesting that scholars of hadith have made mistakes is reflective of the limitations that every human being has and is in no way implying that they did not work as hard as they could or that they were not sincere enough in their efforts.

For a more detailed and most comprehensive study of this subject, see this book:

     

Copyright © 2010 Louay Fatoohi
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Mar 062010
 

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

This is a listing of all Qur’anic verses that reject the claim that Jesus was divine. I have not included the many more verses that do not mention Jesus specifically but reject polytheism in general, confirm that God is one, and stress that everyone and everything was created by him. I have also excluded verses that indirectly stress that Jesus was a man, such as those that describe him as a messenger. I have restricted the compilation to those verses that directly reject the deification of Jesus — for instance, by rejecting the doctrine of the Trinity. The verses are listed in their order in the Qur’an.
 

The likeness of Jesus in Allah’s eye is as the likeness of Adam. He created him of dust, then He said to him “Be!” and he is. (3.59)

O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion or utter anything concerning Allah but the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, His Word that He sent to Mary, and a Spirit from Him [that He sent]. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and do not say “Three.” Desist, it is better for you! Allah is one God. Far exalted is He above having offspring. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. Allah is sufficient a disposer of affairs. (4.171) The Messiah would never scorn to be a servant to Allah, nor would the angels who are nearest to Allah. As for those who scorn His service and are arrogantly proud, He shall gather them all to Himself to answer. (4.172)

They have indeed disbelieved those who say: “Allah is the Messiah son of Mary.” Say [O Muhammad!]: “Who then can do anything against Allah if He had willed to destroy the Messiah son of Mary, his mother, and everyone on earth?” Allah’s is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them. He creates what He wills. Allah is able to do all things. (5.17)

Surely they disbelieve those who say: “Allah is the Messiah son of Mary.” The Messiah himself said: “O Children of Israel! Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. Whoever joins other gods with Allah, for him Allah has forbidden paradise. His abode is the Fire. The evildoers shall have no helpers.” (5.72) Surely they disbelieve those who say: “Allah is one of three.” There is only one God. If they will not desist from what they say, a painful torment shall befall the disbelievers among them. (5.73) Will they not rather repent to Allah and seek His forgiveness? Allah is forgiving, merciful. (5.74) The Messiah son of Mary was no other than a messenger before whom similar messengers passed away, and his mother was a saintly woman. They used to eat food. See how We make the revelations clear to them, and see how they are deluded! (5.75) Say [O Muhammad!]: “Will you worship besides Allah that which has no power to harm or benefit you?” Allah is the Hearer, the Knower. (5.76) Say: “O People of the Book! Commit no excesses of falsehood in your religion, and do not follow the vain desires of folk of old who erred, led many astray, and strayed from the even path. (5.77) Those who disbelieved from among the Children of Israel were cursed by the tongue of David and of Jesus son of Mary. That was because they disobeyed and used to transgress. (5.78)

And when Allah said: “O Jesus son of Mary! Did you say to people: ‘Take me and my mother for two gods besides Allah?’” He said: “Glory be to You! I could never say what I have no right to say. If I have said it, then You know it. You know what is in my mind, but I do not know what is in Your mind. You know all unseen things. (5.116) I never said to them anything other than what You commanded me: ‘worship Allah, my and your Lord.’ I was a witness over them while I was among them, and when You took me You were the watcher over them. You are a witness over all things. (5.117) If You punish them, they are Your servants; and if You forgive them, You are the Invincible, the Wise.” (5.118)

The Jews say: “‘Uzayr is the son of Allah,” and the Christians say: “The Messiah is the son of Allah.” That is a saying from their mouths, imitating the saying of the disbelievers of old. May Allah fight them! How deluded they are! (9.30) They have taken their rabbis and monks as lords besides Allah, and so they treated the Messiah son of Mary, although they were not commanded to worship other than One God; there is no God save Him. Far exalted is He above their attribution of partners to Him! (9.31)

He (Jesus) said: “I am Allah’s servant. He has given me the Book and has made me a prophet. (19.30) He has made me blessed wherever I may be. He has enjoined upon me prayer and almsgiving so long as I remain alive. (19.31) And [He has made me] kind to my mother and has not made me arrogant or wretched. (19.32) Peace is on me the day I was born, the day I shall die, and the day I shall be raised alive.” (19.33) Such was Jesus son of Mary: this is the statement of the truth which they (Christians) dispute. (19.34) Allah would never take offspring [to Himself]. Far exalted is He above this. When He decrees a matter, He says to it only “Be!” and it is. (19.35)

And when the son of Mary was cited as an example, your people [O Muhammad!] turned away from him. (43.57) They said: “Are our gods better, or is he?” They raise this only by way of disputation; they are merely a contentious people. (43.58) He is only a servant on whom We bestowed favor and whom We made an example for the Children of Israel. (43.59) When Jesus came with clear proofs, he said: “I have come to you with Wisdom, and to make plain some of what you have disagreed on. Keep your duty to Allah, and obey me. (43.63) Allah is my Lord and your Lord. So worship Him. This is a straight way.” (43.64)

          

Copyright © 2010 Louay Fatoohi
All Rights Reserved

Feb 112010
 

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

Whether Jesus was a man or a god and man at the same time is one fundamental theological difference between Islam and Christianity. The Qur’an presents Jesus as a prophet of Islam, the one religion that all of God’s prophets from Adam to Muhammad preached. All Muslim prophets were human with no divine qualities, and so was Jesus. While the Qur’an says that God conferred so much favour on Jesus, it stresses that he was a mere mortal human being. It states that there was, is, and will always be one God. Christian sources, on the other hand, present Jesus as a man yet also elevate him to divinity.

The Gospels, other New Testament books, and Christian apocryphal writings make statements about Jesus that can only mean he was like any human being. For instance, Jesus is described as a “prophet” (e.g. Mark 6:2-5), “rabbi” (e.g. Mark 9:5), and even “servant” of God (e.g. Matt. 12:17-18). Yet the same sources contain passages that describe him in terms that can only mean that he was divine. For instance, Paul (Phi. 2:6) states that Jesus was “in the form of God.” Paul and other New Testament authors believed in the doctrine of Incarnation, which states that God descended as a human being in the form of Jesus. Most of the passages that deify Jesus also talk about his relation with God in a way that suggests that they are two separate beings, yet other passages confuse the two and all but remove any distinction between them. This, for instance, is what John (10:30) does when he makes Jesus declare: “I and the Father are one.”

This confusing language is not the result, as Christians believe, of Jesus’ complex nature. After all, there is no point in trying to use a human language to describe something that it is not equipped to do. The simple explanation of this confusion is that those different passages were written over a long period of time by different people who held irreconcilable beliefs. Not even any one Gospel is an authentic piece of work by any one man. It is a compilation of different traditions that the author gathered and to which he added his own views. Jesus’ appearance did not represent a shift in the concept of salvation. Otherwise, the coming of the one and only man-God would have meant that the billions who lived before him were unfairly denied the grace of the new salvation. The fact is that God did not change how He deals with man. It was, rather, some people who changed the truth about Jesus and succeeded in popularizing their unhistorical beliefs about him.

The confused relationship between God and Jesus has resulted in the development of competing Christian theological concepts to describe this unique relationship. For instance, some theologians, like John, believed that Jesus was divine from eternity. Adoptionists, on the other hand, claim that Jesus became divine at some point in his life. When this exactly happened is itself a point of disagreement among adoptionists.

How can someone be a god and man at the same time? Docetism tried to tackle this question by claiming that Jesus had only an appearance and did not have a physical body. Jesus did not suffer on the cross, Docetists argued, because he was god and did not have a body. Everything that happened to Jesus’ body, including the crucifixion, was an illusion. Others considered Docetism as sheer heresy.

The nature of the god-man unity that Jesus represented became a battleground for competing articulations of this concept — a concept that was unheard of in monotheism. The history of the development of the doctrine of Trinity, which I discuss in the book, epitomizes the struggle of theologians to cope with what sounds more like a logical fallacy than a meaningful concept.

Leaving aside the logical problems in any expression of a man-god unity, this book will try and show that history also rejects the suggestion that it was Jesus who taught that he had a divine nature. In fact, we will see how he put the efforts to preempt what he knew was going to happen after him, stressing that he was the “son of man” not the “son of God.”

The book has three parts consisting of 9 chapters and 1 appendix. Part I focuses on the historical, human Jesus and consists of two chapters. Chapter 1 presents the image of Jesus in the Qur’an. It first introduces the Qur’anic concepts of “Islam” and “prophethood” before explaining how Jesus is described as a Muslim prophet. This identity means that he was human not divine. The chapter then shows that Jesus’ image as a “prophet” is also found in the Gospels.

Both the Qur’an and Christian sources accept Jesus as the Messiah. Judaism also has the concept of the Messiah, but the Jews reject the identification of Jesus with the Messiah and argue that the latter is yet to come. Chapter 2 highlights the significant similarity between Judaism and Islam in that both religions consider the Messiah a human being. It also contrasts this image of the Messiah with its Christian counterpart which presents the Christ as divine.

The remaining two parts of the book focus on history’s rejection of the suggestion that Jesus was divine. This false divinity is what stops most Christians from seeing Jesus how he really was: a Muslim prophet.

Part II, which consists of four chapters, examines in detail the various forms of the concept of “son of God.” Chapter 3 shows that Jewish sources used the expression “sonship of God” figuratively. It did not suggest any form of divinity. The very different application of the concept of “son of God” to Jesus in Christian sources is discussed in Chapter 4. It also shows differences between the New Testament authors’ presentations of Jesus’ sonship of God. The Qur’anic rejection of Jesus’ sonship of God is the focus of Chapter 5. The expression “son of man,” which is found mainly in the Gospels in the New Testament, is highly significant for this discussion and is the subject of Chapter 6.

The last three chapters of the book make up Part III. This part looks at how Jesus was transformed into a divine individual by some of his followers, shows the historical and logical problems in this image, and discusses its refutation in the Qur’an. Chapter 7 explains how Paul developed the divine Jesus, thus playing a bigger role than Jesus himself in defining Christianity. It also discusses how the image of Jesus in the Gospel of John became the prevailing image in Christianity, despite its substantial difference with his image in the other Gospels. The Johannine image of Jesus removes any distinction between Jesus and God. Finally, the chapter explains a fundamental difference between the Qur’an and the Christian scriptures.

Chapter 8 studies one of the most important doctrines of Christianity and which is completely based on Jesus’ divine image: the Trinity. The chapter explains this doctrine, how it developed, and how it is rejected in the Qur’an. The last chapter of this part and the book, Chapter 9, draws on the previous 8 chapters to show how Jesus’ human image was changed over time to turn him from the human, Muslim prophet he claimed to be into a divine being that the apostle Paul and others who did not see or know Jesus preached. Naturally, his teachings were accordingly distorted to reflect his alleged divine nature.

For easy reference, I have compiled in Appendix A all Qur’anic verses that explicitly reject the divinity of Jesus.

For the reader’s convenience, the book has three indexes for the Qur’anic verses, Biblical passages, and 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 sura or “chapter” and its position in that chapter. For instance, the combination 3.59 refers to the 59th verse of the 3rd chapter.

The translations of the Qur’anic verses are mine. Translation is an act of interpretation and therefore reflects the translator’s understanding of the text. This is why I always use my own translations of the Qur’an, even though I usually consult some existing English translations.

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.

All Biblical quotation are from 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 © 2010 Louay Fatoohi
All Rights Reserved

Sep 122009
 

This is Appendix A: The Qur’anic Verses that Mention the Title “Messiah” of the book The Mystery of the Messiah: The Messiahship of Jesus in the Qur’an, New Testament, Old Testament, and Other Sources

The Term al-Masih (the Messiah) occurs in the Qur’an eleven times. These are the nine different verses in which the term appears: 

When the angels said: “O Mary! Allah gives you the good news of a Word from Him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, who is illustrious in this world and the hereafter, and who is one of those brought near [to Allah]. (3.45)

And because of their saying: “We killed the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah’s messenger.” They did not kill or crucify him, but it was made to appear so to them. Those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof, but a conjecture they follow; they did not kill him for certain. (4.157)

O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion or utter anything concerning Allah but the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, His Word that He sent to Mary, and a Spirit from Him [that He sent]. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and do not say “Three.” Desist, it is better for you! Allah is one God. Far exalted is He above having offspring. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth. Allah is sufficient a disposer of affairs. (4.171) The Messiah would never scorn to be a servant to Allah, nor would the angels who are nearest to Allah. As for those who scorn His service and are arrogantly proud, He shall gather them all to Himself to answer. (4.172)

They have indeed disbelieved those who say: “Allah is the Messiah son of Mary.” Say [O Muhammad!]: “Who then can do anything against Allah if He had willed to destroy the Messiah son of Mary, his mother, and everyone on earth?” Allah’s is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them. He creates what He wills. Allah is able to do all things. (5.17)

Surely they disbelieve those who say: “Allah is the Messiah son of Mary.” The Messiah himself said: “O Children of Israel! Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. Whoever joins other gods with Allah, for him Allah has forbidden paradise. His abode is the Fire. The evildoers shall have no helpers.” (5.72)

The Messiah son of Mary was no other than a messenger before whom [similar] messengers passed away, and his mother was a saintly woman. They used to eat food [like other human beings]. See how We make the revelations clear to them, and see how they are deluded! (5.75)

The Jews say: “‘Uzayr is the son of Allah”, and the Christians say: “The Messiah is the son of Allah”. That is a saying from their mouths, imitating the saying of the disbelievers of old. May Allah fight them! How deluded they are! (9.30) They have taken their rabbis and monks as lords besides Allah, and so they treated the Messiah son of Mary, although they were not commanded to worship other than One God; there is no God save Him. Far exalted is He above their attribution of partners to Him! (9.31)

          

Traslantion by Louay Fatoohi 2009

Jun 072009
 

Adapted from the chapter “Al-Masih in the Qur’an” in the book The Mystery of the Messiah: The Messiahship of Jesus in the Qur’an, New Testament, Old Testament, and Other Sources

The Qur’an does not use the title “Christ” to call Jesus’ followers “Christians.” Christians are not named after the title “Messiah” but are called Nasara or “Nazarenes.” This Qur’anic title does not presume that Jesus was a Nazarene. It is derived from a particular historical event in which Jesus called on his companions for “support” or nasr in Arabic (this is discussed in more detail in The Mystery Of The Historical Jesus: The Messiah in the Qur’an, the Bible, and Historical Sources, 2007: 224-229):

But when Jesus perceived disbelief on their part, he said: “Who are my ansar (supporters) in the cause of Allah?” The companions said: “We are Allah’s ansar. We believe in Allah, and do you bear witness that we are Muslims.” (3.52)
 
O you who believe! Be Allah’s ansar (supporters), as Jesus son of Mary said to the companions: “Who are my ansar (supporters) in the cause of Allah?” The companions said: “We are Allah’s ansar (supporters).” Then a party of the Children of Israel believed and a party disbelieved, therefore we aided those who believed against their enemy, so they became the ones that prevailed (61.14).
 
Like the Qur’an, and contrary to what many think, the term Christianos or “Christian” is never used in the Gospels. Furthermore, it appears only three times in the New Testament — twice in Acts and once in the First Epistle of Peter. The first mention in Acts is particularly significant: “For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians” (Acts 11:26). This visit of the apostles Paul and Barnabas to Antioch occurred around 45 CE. This suggests that it was well after Jesus had gone that his disciplesor any of his followers started to be known as “Christians.”

The term is then used twice to refer to any follower of the Christ, which is what it ultimately came to mean. In its second occurrence in Acts (26:28), King Agrippa II argues with Paul for trying to convert him to a “Christian.” In the third and last appearance of the term in the New Testament, the follower of the Christ is reminded not to be ashamed of suffering as a “Christian” and to glorify God for bearing such a name (1 Peter 4:16).

It may be suggested that it was Paul and Barnabas who introduced this term in Antioch. One argument against this view is that Paul never uses the term in his letters, preferring to call fellow Christians adelphos (brothers) and adelphen (sisters). This may indicate that the term was introduced by non-Christians, which could explain Acts’ anonymous attribution of the coining of the term. If that is the case, it is doubtful that the term was first applied to Christ’s disciples and then to all his followers, as non-Christians would not have differentiated between the two.

          

 Copyright © 2009 Louay Fatoohi
All Rights Reserved

Nov 222008
 

This is “Appendix A: Qur’anic Verses on Moses” of the book The Mystery of Israel in Ancient Egypt: The Exodus in the Qur’an, the Old Testament, Archaeological Finds, and Historical Sources

 The Qur’an recounts details of the story of Moses in a number of chapters. For easy reference, this appendix compiles the longest of these accounts, presented in ascending order of length.

We have not included the story of Moses’ spiritual journey looking for a certain wise man (18.60-82). This journey, in which he was accompanied with an unnamed assistant, is rather unrelated to the history of the nation of Israel.

Passing references to Moses’ story are found in other Qur’anic chapters also.

A.1 The Chapter of al-A‘raf (the Heights) (7.103-137, 7.159-166)

Then we sent after them (the messengers) Moses with Our signs to Pharaoh and his chiefs, but they disbelieved in them; so see what the end of the corrupters was (7.103). Moses said: “O Pharaoh! I am a messenger from the Lord of all peoples (7.104). It is a duty on me to say nothing about Allah but the truth; I have come to you with clear proof from your Lord, therefore send with me the Children of Israel” (7.105). He said: “If you have come with a sign, then produce it, if you are one of the truthful” (7.106). So he threw his staff down, and it became a manifest serpent (7.107). And he took his hand out and lo! it was white to the beholders (7.108). The chiefs of Pharaoh’s people said: “This is an accomplished magician (7.109) who would like to drive you out of your land; what is your advice” (7.110)? They said: “Let him and his brother wait, and send to the cities summoners (7.111) to bring to you every accomplished magician” (7.112). The magicians came to Pharaoh and said: “We will have a reward if we are the victorious” (7.113). He said: “Yes, and you will be considered with those who are brought close [to me]” (7.114). They said: “O Moses! Either you throw down [your staff] or we will be the first to throw down” (7.115). He said: “You throw [first]”. So when they threw, they deceived peoples’ eyes, frightened them, and they produced a mighty feat of magic (7.116). We revealed to Moses: “Throw your staff”; then lo! it devoured what they faked (7.117). So the truth was established, and what they did became null (7.118). Thus they were vanquished there, and they turned abased (7.119). So the magicians were thrown down in prostration (7.120). They said: “We believe in the Lord of all peoples (7.121), the Lord of Moses and Aaron” (7.122). Pharaoh Said: “You have believed in Him before I give you permission? This is a plot that you have devised in the city to drive its people out of it, but you shall know (7.123). I will cut off your hands and legs on opposite sides, and then I will crucify you all” (7.124). They said: “We shall return to our Lord (7.125). You take revenge on us only because we have believed in the signs of our Lord when they came to us. Our Lord! Pour out on us patience and cause us to die as Muslims” (7.126). The chiefs of Pharaoh’s people said: “Do you leave Moses and his people to cause corruption in the land and forsake you and your gods?” He said: “We will kill their sons but spare their women, and surely we will overpower them” (7.127). Moses said to his people: “Ask help from Allah and be patient; surely the land is Allah’s; He gives it for inheritance to whom He wills of His servants. The [best] end is for the pious” (7.128). They said: “We were harmed before you came to us and we have been harmed since then also.” He said: “May your Lord destroy your enemy and make you inheritors in the land so He sees how you act” (7.129). We tested Pharaoh’s people with droughts and shortage of crops that they may heed (7.130). When good befalls them they would say: “This is due to us,” and when evil afflicts them, they would attribute it to the ill fortune of Moses and those with him; surely their ill fortune is only from Allah, but most of them do not know (7.131). They said: “Whatever sign you may bring to bewitch us, we will not believe you” (7.132). We sent on them the flood, the locusts, the lice, the frogs, and the blood as clear signs; but they behaved arrogantly and were guilty (7.133). When the plague hit them, they said: “O Moses! Pray to your Lord for us, by whatever covenant He has with you, that if you remove the plague from us we will believe you and we will send away with you the Children of Israel” (7.134). But when We removed the plague from them till a term that they were to reach, they broke the promise (7.135). Therefore We took vengeance on them and drowned them in the sea because they denied Our signs and were heedless of them (7.136). We made the people who used to be oppressed to inherit the eastern and western parts of the land that We have blessed. The good word of your Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel because of their patience, and We destroyed what Pharaoh and his people wrought and what they built (7.137). We made the Children of Israel cross the sea. They came upon a people who worshipped idols they have created. They said: “Moses, create for us a god as they have gods.” He said: “You are ignorant people (7.138). What they are engaged in shall be destroyed and what they are doing is in vain” (7.139). He said: “What, shall I seek for you a god other than Allah when He has preferred you above all peoples” (7.140)? [Remember, O Children of Israel!] when we rescued you from Pharaoh’s people who subjected you to the worse torment, killing your sons and sparing your women. There was a great trial from your Lord in this (7.141). We appointed for Moses thirty nights and then completed them with another ten, so the appointed time of his Lord was completed to forty nights. Moses said to his brother Aaron: “Take my place among my people, act rightly, and do not follow the path of the corrupting ones” (7.142). When Moses came to our appointment and was spoken to by his Lord he said: “My Lord, enable me to see You.” He said: “You shall not see Me, but look at the mountain; if it remains steady, you shall see Me.” When his Lord manifested Himself to the mountain He turned it into dust, and Moses fell down in a swoon. When he regained consciousness he said: “Glory be to You! I repent to You, and I am the first of the believers” (7.143). He said: “O Moses! I have chosen you over people for My messages and words, so take what I have given you and be among the thankful” (7.144). We wrote for him on the Tablets an admonition concerning everything and a detailing of everything. [We said to him:] “Take them firmly and command your people to observe their most excellent teachings. I will show you the abode of the ungodly (7.145). I will turn away from My signs those who unjustly behave with arrogance in the earth so if they see any sign they do not believe it, if they see the path of righteousness they do not take it for a path, and if they see the path of transgression they take it for a path. This is so because they have rejected Our signs and have been heedless of them (7.146). The works of those who rejected Our signs and the encounter of the hereafter will be in vain. Shall they be rewarded other than for what they have done” (7.147)? The people of Moses took to themselves [as a god] after him a lowing corporeal calf made of their ornaments. Did they not see that it did not speak to them and did not guide them in the path? They took it and were wrongdoers (7.148). When they realized what they have done and saw that they have sinned they said: “If our Lord does not show mercy to us and forgive us we will be among the losers” (7.149). When Moses returned to his people angry and grieved he said: “Evil is what you have done after me. Would you hasten your Lord’s matter?” He threw down the Tablets and seized his brother by the head, dragging him. He said: “O son of my mother! The people weakened me and almost killed me. Do not make my enemies gloat over me and do not consider me with the wrongdoing people” (7.150). He said: “My Lord! Forgive me and my brother and admit us into Your mercy; You are the most merciful of the merciful” (7.151). Those who took the calf [as a god] shall have wrath from their Lord and humiliation in the life of this world, and so do We reward the forgers (7.152). As for those who commit evil things then repent after that and believe, Your Lord will be to them, after that, forgiving, merciful (7.153). When Moses’ anger calmed down, he took the Tablets, in the inscription of which there are guidance and mercy for those who fear their Lord (7.154). Moses chose from his people seventy for our appointment. When the earthquake overtook them he said: “My Lord! Had you willed, you could have killed them and me before. Would You kill us for what the fools among us have done? This is not but Your trial with which You send astray whom You will and guide whom You will. You are our guardian, so forgive us and show mercy to us, and You are the best of forgivers (7.155). Write down for us good in this world and in the hereafter. We have repented to You.” He said: “I will strike with My torment whom I will, and My mercy embraces everything, so I shall write it down for those who are pious, give alms, and believe in Our signs” (7.156).

From Moses’ people there is a nation who guide by the truth and measure with it (7.159). We divided them into twelve tribes — nations. We inspired Moses when his people asked him for drink: “Strike the rock with your staff,” so twelve springs burst forth. Every people knew their drinking place. We overshadowed them with the clouds and sent down on them the manna and the quails, [saying]: “Eat of the good things We have given you.” They did not wrong Us but they were wronging themselves (7.160). When it was said to them: “Live in this town and eat from wherever you like. Say ‘hittatun’ and enter the gate prostrating so that We forgive your sins and give increase to the good-doers” (7.161). The wrongdoers among them then changed what had been said to them with another saying, so We sent down on them a punishment from heaven because of their wrongdoing (7.162). Ask them about the town on the sea when they transgressed during the Sabbath, as their fish would come to them on the day when they observe the Sabbath, appearing openly, and on the day they do not observe the Sabbath they would not come. So We tested them because of their rebellion (7.163). When a group from them said: “Why do you admonish a people whom Allah will destroy or punish severely?” They said: “For our own excuse with your Lord, and that they may become pious to Allah” (7.164). When they forgot what they had been reminded of we saved those who forbade evil and we overtook those who did wrong with a severe torment because of their rebellion (7.165). But when they arrogantly persisted in that which they were forbidden We said to them: “Be despised apes” (7.166).

A.2 The Chapter of TaHa (20.9-97)

Has the story of Moses come to you [O Muhammad!] (20.9)? When he saw a fire he said to his family: “Stay here, for I have perceived a fire, that I may bring to you therefrom a brand or find a guidance [to the road] at the fire” (20.10). When he reached it, he was called: “O Moses! (20.11). It is Me, your Lord, so take off your sandals; you are in the sacred valley Tuwa (20.12). I have chosen you, so listen to what is revealed (20.13). I am Allah; there is no god save Me. Therefore worship Me and keep up prayer for My remembrance (20.14). The Hour [of Judgment] is coming; I keep it almost hidden, so that every soul will be rewarded according to its deeds (20.15). Let not the person who does not believe in it and follows his own passion turn you away from it so that you perish (20.16). What is that in your right hand, O Moses” (20.17)? He said: “This is my staff; I recline on it, I beat down with it tree leaves for my sheep, and I use it for other things” (20.18). He said: “Throw it down, O Moses!” (20.19). So he threw it down; and behold! it became a crawling serpent (20.20). He said: “Seize it and fear not. We will restore it to its former state (20.21). Draw your hand to your side, and it will come out white without harm, as another sign (20.22). To show you of Our great signs (20.23). Go to Pharaoh, for he has transgressed” (20.24). He said: “O my Lord! Expand my breast (20.25), ease my task for me (20.26), and loosen the knot of my tongue (20.27) so that they may understand what I say (20.28). Appoint for me a vizier from my family (20.29): Aaron, my brother (20.30). Strengthen my back with him (20.31) and let him share my task (20.32). So that we shall glorify You so much (20.33) and remember You so much (20.34). You have been caring to us” (20.35). He said: “You have been granted your request, O Moses! (20.36). We have thus conferred favor on you again (20.37). [The first was] when We revealed to your mother that which is revealed (20.38), saying: ‘Put him in a coffin, then throw him in the river. The river shall throw him onshore; there shall take him up one who is an enemy to Me and an enemy to him.’ And I threw over you love from Me, and that you should be brought up according to My will (20.39). When your sister came walking and said: ‘Shall I direct you to one who will take custody of him?’ So We brought you back to your mother, that her eye might be cooled and that she should not grieve. You killed a soul, then We delivered you from the grief, and We tried you with a severe test. Then you stayed for years with the people of Midian, then you came [here] as ordained, O Moses! (20.40). I have prepared you for Myself (20.41). Go you and your brother with My signs and do not slacken in remembering Me (20.42). Go both to Pharaoh; he has transgressed all bounds (20.43). Speak to him gentle words that he may remember or fear” (20.44). They said: “O our Lord! We fear that he may hasten to do evil to us or that he may play the tyrant” (20.45). He said: “Do not fear; I am with you, hearing and seeing (20.46). So go you both to him and say: ‘We are two messengers of your Lord; therefore send the Children of Israel with us and do not torment them; we have brought to you a sign from your Lord; peace be upon him who follows right guidance (20.47). It has been revealed to us that the torture will come upon him who rejects and turns back’” (20.48). He (Pharaoh) said: “So who is your Lord, O Moses” (20.49)? He said: “Our Lord is He Who created everything, then guided it [to its course]” (20.50). He said: “Then what about the past generations” (20.51)? He said: “The knowledge of them is with my Lord, in a book; my Lord neither errs nor forgets” (20.52). [It is He] who made the earth for you an expanse and made for you in it paths, and sent down from the sky water with which We have brought forth pairs of diverse species of vegetation (20.53). Eat and pasture your cattle; there are signs in this for people of intellect (20.54). From it We created you, into it We shall return you, and from it We will bring you forth a second time (20.55). We showed him all Our signs, but he rejected and refused (20.56). He said: “Have you come to us to drive us out of our land by your magic, O Moses (20.57)? We too shall produce to you magic like it. Set an appointment between us and you, which neither we nor you shall break, in a place where both shall have even chances” (20.58). He said: “Your appointment shall be the day of decoration, and let the people be gathered together in the early afternoon” (20.59). Pharaoh went and made his arrangement, then came [to the agreed place] (20.60). Moses said to them (the magicians): “Woe to you! Do not invent lies about Allah, lest He destroy you by a punishment, and he who invents lies is doomed to fail” (20.61). So they disputed with one another about their affair and kept the discourse secret (20.62). They said: “These are two magicians who wish to drive you out of your land by their magic and to take away your ideal tradition (20.63). Therefore concert your plan, then come as one. He shall prosper this day who gains the upper hand” (20.64). They said: “O Moses! Either you throw down [your staff] or we will be the first to throw down” (20.65). He said: “No, you throw down”; then lo! their cords and staffs looked to him, because of their magic, as if they were moving (20.66). So Moses felt inside fear (20.67). We said: “Do not fear; you have the upper hand (20.68). Throw down what is in your right hand, and it shall devour what they have worked; that which they have made is a magician’s work, and the magician shall not be successful wherever he may go” (20.69). So the magicians were thrown down in prostration; they said: “We believe in the Lord of Aaron and Moses” (20.70). He said: “You have believed in him before I give you permission? He must be your master who taught you magic. I shall cut off your hands and feet on opposite sides, and I will crucify you on the trunks of palm trees. You shall know who of us can give the more severe and lasting punishment” (20.71). They said: “We shall not prefer you to what has come to us of manifest signs and to He Who made us. Decide whatever you like to do; you can only decide about this world’s life (20.72). We have believed in our Lord that He may forgive us our sins and the magic that you compelled us to perform, and Allah is better and more lasting” (20.73). Whoever comes to his Lord as guilty he shall have hell where he shall not die or live (20.74). Whoever comes to Him as a believer who has done righteous deeds, for such are the high states (20.75). The gardens of Eden underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever. This is the reward of he who purified himself (20.76). We revealed to Moses: “Take away My servants by night, then strike for them a dry path in the sea. Do not be afraid of being overtaken or have any fear” (20.77). Pharaoh then followed them with his soldiers, so there came upon them of the sea that which came upon them‎ (20.78). Pharaoh led his people astray and he did not guide [them] aright (20.79). O Children of Israel! We have rescued you from your enemy, appointed a meeting for you on the right side of the mountain, and sent down on you the manna and the quails (20.80), [saying]: “Eat of the good things We have given you, but do not transgress in them, otherwise My wrath would fall on you. Whoever My wrath falls on he would perish (20.81). I am forgiving to the person who repents, believes, does good works, and is guided” (20.82). [We said]: “What have made you rush away from your people, O Moses” (20.83)? He said: “They are hard on my footsteps, but I have rushed to you, My Lord, that You might be pleased” (20.84). He said: “We have tempted your people after you and the Samiri has misled them” (20.85). Moses went back angry and sad to his people and said: “O my people! Has your Lord not promised you a good promise? Has the time been too long for you, or did you want wrath from your Lord to fall on you so you broke my appointment” (20.86)? They said: “We did not break your appointment of our volition, but we were made to carry loads of people’s ornaments, and we threw them, and so did the Samiri” (20.87). He (the Samiri) produced for them a calf — a body that lowed, and said: “This is your god and Moses’ god,” and he forgot (20.88). Could they not see that it did not return any speech and could not help or harm them (20.89)? Aaron had told them before: “O my people! You have been tempted by it and your Lord is Allah, so follow me and obey my commands” (20.90). They said: “We will not cease our devotion to it until Moses comes back to us” (20.91). He (Moses) said: “O Aaron! What prevented you, when you saw that they have gone astray (20.92), from following me? Have you disobeyed my command” (20.93)? He said: “O son of my mother! Do not seize me by the beard or head. I feared that you may say ‘you have divided the Children of Israel and have not observed my word’” (20.94). He (Moses) said: “What is the matter with you, O Samiri” (20.95)? He said: “I saw what they did not see, so I grasped a handful from the messenger’s track and cast it; so did my soul suggest to me” (20.96). He said: “Go then, you are doomed in this life to say ‘do not touch me,’ and you will have an appointment that you will not miss. Look to your god which you remained devoted to, we shall burn it and scatter its ashes into the sea” (20.97).

A.3 The Chapter of al-Qasas (the Stories) (28.2-46)

Those are verses of the manifest Book (28.2). We narrate to you [O Muhammad!] parts of the story of Moses and Pharaoh in truth, for people who believe (28.3). Pharaoh exalted himself in the earth and made its people castes, oppressing one group of them, slaying their sons and sparing their women; he was one of the corrupters (28.4). We desired to show favor to those who were oppressed in the earth, make them leaders, make them the inheritors (28.5), establish them in the earth, and show Pharaoh, Haman, and their soldiers from them that which they feared (28.6). We inspired Moses’ mother: “Suckle him, and when you fear for him, cast him into the river and do not fear or grieve; We shall bring him back to you and make him one of the messengers” (28.7). Then the people of Pharaoh picked him up [from the river], to become for them an enemy and a sorrow; Pharaoh, Haman, and their soldiers were sinful (28.8). The wife of Pharaoh said: “[He will be] a delight for the eye for me and you. Do not kill him. He may be useful for us, or we may take him as a son,” while they were unaware [of what was going to happen] (28.9). The heart of Moses’ mother became void; she would have revealed it (the secret) had We not strengthened her heart to be one of the believers (28.10). She said to his sister: “Trace him,” so she observed him from afar while they [with whom Moses was] were unaware (28.11). We had forbidden foster mothers for him before. She (his sister) said: “Shall I show you a household who could rear him for you and take good care of him” (28.12)? So We returned him to his mother so that she be comforted and not grieve, and to know that Allah’s promise is true, but most of them (people) do not know (28.13). When he attained his full strength and settled, We gave him Wisdom and Knowledge; thus do We reward the good doers (28.14). He entered the city at a time of unawareness by its people, and he found there two men fighting — one of his own people and the other of his enemies. He who was of his people asked him for help against him who was of his enemies. So Moses struck and killed him. He said: “This is of Satan’s doing; he is a manifest misleading enemy” (28.15). He said: “My Lord! I have wronged myself, so forgive me.” Then He forgave him; He is the Forgiving, the Merciful (28.16). He said: “My Lord! Forasmuch as You have favored me, I will nevermore be a supporter of the guilty” (28.17). And morning found him in the city, fearing, vigilant, when he who had appealed to him the day before cried out to him for help; Moses said to him: “You are indeed a manifest lurer” (28.18). When he was to assault the man who was an enemy to them both, he said: “O Moses! Is it your intention to kill me as you killed a person yesterday? Your intention is none other than to become a powerful tyrant in the land, and not to be one of the reformers” (28.19). A man came from the uttermost part of the city, running; he said: “O Moses! The chiefs are plotting against you to kill you, therefore leave [the city]; I am of those who give you good advice” (28.20). So he left it, fearing, vigilant; he said: “My Lord! Save me from the wrongdoing people” (28.21). When he turned his face toward Midian, he said: “May my Lord guide me to the right way” (28.22). When he came to the water of Midian he found at it a group of people watering [their flocks], and he found apart from them two women keeping back [their flocks]; he said: “What is the matter with you?” They said: “We cannot water [our flocks] till the shepherds return from the water, and our father is a very old man” (28.23). So he watered [their flocks] for them; then he turned aside into the shade, and said: “My Lord! I stand in need of whatever good You would send down to me” (28.24). Then one of them (the two women) came to him walking shyly; she said: “My father invites you to reward you for having watered [the flocks] for us.” When he came to him (their father) and told him his story he said: “fear no more; you have escaped from the wrongdoing people” (28.25). One of the two women said: “O my father! Hire him, for the best [man] that you can hire is one who is strong and trustworthy” (28.26). He said: “I would like to marry you to one of my two daughters and in return you hire yourself to me for eight years, and it is up to you if would make it ten, for I do not want to make it hard for you; Allah willing, you will find me one of the righteous” (28.27). He said: “This is [a contract] between me and you; whichever of the two terms I fulfill, there shall be no wrongdoing on my part, and Allah is a witness on what we say” (28.28). When Moses fulfilled the term and left in the night with his family, he perceived a fire at the side of the mountain. He said to his family: “Stay here; I have perceived a fire that I might bring you tidings from or a firebrand that you might warm yourselves” (28.29). When he came to it (the fire), he was called from the right side of the valley in the blessed spot at the tree: “O Moses! I am Allah, the Lord of all peoples” (28.30). And [that]: “Throw down your staff.” When he saw it moving like a snake he fled without tracing his steps. “O Moses! Draw near and do not fear for you are one of the secure ones (28.31). Enter your hand to your bosom and it will come forth white without harm; and do not show fear. These shall be two proofs from your Lord to Pharaoh and his chiefs; they are a rebellious people” (28.32). He said: “My Lord! I have killed a person from them and I fear that they will kill me (28.33). My brother Aaron is more eloquent than me, so make him a messenger with me — a helper to confirm me; I fear that they will accuse me of telling lies” (28.34). He said: “We will strengthen you with your brother, and We will give you both authority so that they shall not be able to reach you [for harm] on account of Our signs. You both and those who follow you will be the victorious” (28.35). When Moses brought to them Our clear signs, they said: “This is nothing other than invented magic, and we have never heard of this among our forefathers” (28.36). Moses said: “My Lord knows best him who has come with guidance from Him and whose will be the best end; the wrongdoers will not be successful” (28.37). Pharaoh said: “O chiefs! I know no god for you other than me, so kindle for me [a fire], O Haman, to bake the mud, and set up for me a lofty tower that I may look at Moses’ god; I believe he is one of the liars” (28.38). He and his soldiers behaved arrogantly in the earth without right, and they thought that they would not be brought back to Us (28.39). Therefore We seized him and his soldiers, and flung them into the sea. So see how the end of the wrongdoers was (28.40). We made them leaders who invite to the Fire, and on the Day of Resurrection they will not be helped (28.41). We followed them up with a curse in this world, and on the Day of Resurrection they will be among the hated (28.42). We gave Moses the Book after We had destroyed the generations of old, as clear testimonies for the people, guidance, and mercy, that they may remember (28.43). And you [O Muhammad!] were not on the western side [of the mountain] when We handed to Moses the matter, and you were not one of the witnesses (28.44). But We brought forth generations, and their lives dragged on for them. You were not dwelling with the people of Midian reciting to them Our verses, but We have sent [you as] a Messenger (28.45). You were not on the side of the mountain when We called [Moses], but this [knowledge that We have revealed to you] is a mercy from your Lord so that you warn a people to whom no warner before you came, that they may give heed (28.46).

A.4 The Chapter of ash-Shu‘ara’ (the Poets) (26.10-66)

When your Lord [O Muhammad!] called Moses [saying]: “Go to the wrongdoing people (26.10) — the people of Pharaoh. Will they not be pious” (26.11)? He said: “My Lord! I fear that they will accuse me of telling lies (26.12), my breast will be straitened, and my tongue will not speak plainly, so call Aaron [to help me] (26.13). They also have a charge of crime against me, so I am afraid that they will kill me” (26.14). He said: “By no means. Go you both with Our signs; We shall be with you, hearing (26.15). Go to Pharaoh and say: ‘We are messengers of the Lord of all peoples (26.16). Let the Children of Israel go with us’” (26.17). [Pharaoh] said [to Moses]: “Did we not rear you among us as a child, you lived a number of years among us (26.18), and then you committed what you did, being one of the ungrateful” (26.19)? He said: “I did it when I was one of those who are astray (26.20). Then I fled from you when I feared you, so my Lord granted me Wisdom and appointed me one as of the messengers (26.21). Is it a favor you remind me of that you have enslaved the Children of Israel” (26.22)? Pharaoh said: “Who is the Lord of all peoples” (26.23)? He (Moses) said: “The Lord of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, if you would be sure” (26.24). He (Pharaoh) said to those around him: “Do you not hear” (26.25)? He (Moses) said: “Your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers” (26.26). He (Pharaoh) said: “Your messenger who has been sent to you is a madman” (26.27). He (Moses) said: “The Lord of the East and the West and what is between them, if you would understand” (26.28). He (Pharaoh) said: “If you choose a god other than me, I shall imprison you” (26.29). He (Moses) said: “Even if I show you clear evidence” (26.30)? He (Pharaoh) said: “Produce it then, if you are of one the truthful” (26.31). So he threw his staff down, and it became a manifest serpent (26.32). And he took his hand out and, lo! it was white to the beholders (26.33). He (Pharaoh) said to the chiefs around him: “This is an accomplished magician (26.34) who would like to drive you out of your land by his magic; what is your advice” (26.35)? They said: “Let him and his brother wait, and send to the cities summoners (26.36) who shall bring to you every skilled magician” (26.37). So the magicians were gathered together at the set time on an appointed day (26.38). It was said to the people: “Will you gather together (26.39)? So that we may follow the [evidence of the] magicians if they are the victorious” (26.40). When the magicians came, they said to Pharaoh: “Shall we get a reward if we are the victorious” (26.41)? He said: “Yes, and you will be considered with those who are brought close [to me]” (26.42). Moses said to them: “Throw down what you are going to throw” (26.43). They threw down their cords and staffs and said: “By Pharaoh’s might, we shall be the victorious” (26.44). Then Moses threw down his staff, and it swallowed that which they falsely showed (26.45). So the magicians were thrown down in prostration (26.46). They said: “We believe in the Lord of all peoples (26.47), the Lord of Moses and Aaron” (26.48). He Said: “You have believed in him before I give you permission? He must be your master who taught you magic, so you shall know. I will cut off your hands and feet on opposite sides, and I shall crucify you all” (26.49). They said: “It is no harm, for to our Lord we shall return (26.50). We hope that our Lord will forgive us our sins that we are the first believers” (26.51). We revealed to Moses: “Take away My servants by night; you will be pursued” (26.52). Then Pharaoh sent into the cities summoners (26.53) [saying] that: “These are a small isolated group (26.54), they have angered us (26.55), and we are apprehensive of a coalition” (26.56). So We removed them from gardens, springs (26.57), treasures, and a fair abode (26.58); and We caused the Children of Israel to inherit them (26.59). Then they pursued them eastward (26.60). When the two gatherings became close enough to see each other, those who were with Moses said: “We will be caught” (26.61). He said: “No way! My Lord is with me; He will show me a way out” (26.62). We revealed to Moses: “Strike the sea with your staff,” so it split, and each part was like a huge mountain (26.63). We brought near the others (Pharaoh and his army) (26.64). We saved Moses and all those who were with him (26.65). Then We drowned the others (26.66).

A.5 The Chapter of al-Baqara (The Cow) (2.47-71)

O Children of Israel! Remember My favor to you and that I preferred you above all peoples (2.47). Fear a day on which no soul shall pay any recompense for another, no intercession will be accepted from it, no compensation will be taken from it, and they will not be helped (2.48). [Remember] when We rescued you from Pharaoh’s people who subjected you to the worst torment, slaying your sons and sparing your women. There was a great trial from your Lord in this (2.49). When We parted the sea for you, so we saved you and drowned Pharaoh’s people while you look (2.50). When We appointed for Moses forty nights, then you took the calf [for a god] after him, and you were wrongdoers (2.51). Then We forgave you after it that you may give thanks (2.52). When We gave Moses the Book and the Discrimination [between right and wrong] that you may be guided (2.53). When Moses said to his people: “O my people! You have wronged yourselves by taking the calf [for a god], so repent to your Creator and kill yourselves (those who have been guilty of the crime); that is better for you in the eyes of your Creator.” So He pardoned you; He is the forgiving, the merciful (2.54). When you said: “O Moses! We will not believe you until we see Allah plainly,” so the thunderbolt caught you while you were looking on (2.55). Then We resurrected you after your death that you may give thanks (2.56). We overshadowed you with the clouds and sent down on you the manna and the quails, [saying]: “Eat of the good things We have given you.“ They did not wrong Us but they were wronging themselves (2.57). When We said: “Enter this town and eat from wherever you like as much as you like. Enter the gate prostrating and say ‘hittatun’ so that We forgive your sins and give increase to the good-doers” (2.58). The wrongdoers then changed what had been said to them with another saying, so We sent down on those who did wrong a punishment from heaven because of their rebellion (2.59). When Moses asked for drink for his people We said: “Strike the rock with your staff,” so twelve springs burst forth. Every people knew their drinking place. [We said]: “Eat and drink of what Allah has provided and do not cause corruption on the earth” (2.60). When you said: “O Moses! We cannot endure one kind of food. Pray to your Lord to produce for us of what the earth grows — its beans, cucumbers, garlic, lentils, and onions.” He said: “Would you exchange that which is better for that which is meaner? Go down to some town and you shall have what you asked for.” Humiliation and abasement were stamped on them and they incurred wrath from Allah, because they used to deny Allah’s signs and unjustly kill prophets. That is because they disobeyed and transgressed (2.61). Those who believe, the Jews, the Christians, and the Sabaeans — whoever believe in Allah and the Last Day and does good — they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve (2.62). When We took a covenant with you and raised the mountain above you [saying]: “Take firmly what We have given you and remember what is in it that you may become pious” (2.63). Then you turned away after that; had it not for Allah’s favor on you and His mercy you would have been among the losers (2.64). You knew about those of you who transgressed during the Sabbath; We said to them: “Be despised apes” (2.65). We made it a punishment at the time and later (for those who do the same) and an admonition to the pious (2.66). When Moses said to his people: “Allah commands you to slaughter a cow.” They said: “Are you making fun of us?” He said: “I take refuge with Allah from being one of the ignorant” (2.67). They said: “Pray to your Lord for us to clarify to us what she is.” He said: “He says she is neither old nor a heifer but middle-aged between the two, so do what you are commanded” (2.68). They said: “Pray to your Lord for us to clarify to us her color.” He said: “He says she is a yellow cow, bright is her color, and she is pleasing to the beholders” (2.69). They said: “Pray to your Lord for us to clarify to us what she is, for the cows look the same to us; Allah willing, we shall be guided” (2.70). He said: “He says that she is a cow that is not used to plough the land or water the field. She is sound, blemishless.“ They said: “Now you have brought the truth.” They slaughtered her, but they nearly did not do (2.71).

A.6 The Chapter of Ghafir (Forgiver) (40.23-46)

We sent Moses with our signs and clear authority (40.23) to Pharaoh, Haman, and Korah, but they said: “A lying magician!” (40.24). When the truth from Us came to them they said: “Kill the sons of those who are with him but spare their women.” The scheming of the disbelievers is bound to fail (40.25). Pharaoh said: “Let me kill Moses and let him call on his Lord. I fear that he will change your religion or cause corruption in the land” (40.26). Moses said: “I take refuge in my and your Lord from every arrogant person who does not believe in the Day of Reckoning” (40.27). A believing man from Pharaoh’s people who concealed his faith said: “Will you kill a man for saying ‘my Lord is Allah’ when he has come to you with manifest proofs from your Lord? If he is a liar then his lie would be against him, and if he is truthful then some of what he has threatened you with would fall on you. Allah does not guide one who is an extravagant liar (40.28). O my people! Today kingship is yours and you are in control in the land. But who would help us against the might of Allah if it comes on us?” Pharaoh said: “I let you see only what I see. I will guide you only in the right direction” (40.29). The one who believed said: “O my people! I fear for you the like of the day of the parties (40.30) — the like of the case of the people of Noah, ‘Ad, Thamud, and those after them. Allah does not desire any injustice for His servants (40.31). O my people! I fear for you the Day of Crying Out (40.32) — the day when you turn away in retreat, with none to defend you from Allah. Whomever Allah leads astray, he has no guide (40.33). Surely Joseph came to you in times gone by with clear proofs, but you ever remained in doubt about what he brought to you. When he died, you said: ‘Allah will not send a messenger after him.’ Thus does Allah cause to err him who is an extravagant doubter” (40.34). Those who dispute about the signs of Allah without any authority has come to them — that is very hateful in the sight of Allah and the believers. Thus does Allah set a seal on every arrogant, tyrant heart (40.35). Pharaoh said: “Haman, build for me a tower that I may be able reach the ways (40.36) — the ways of heavens to look at Moses’ god. I believe he is a liar.” Pharaoh’s evil work was made to look fair to him and he was turned away from the straight path. Pharaoh’s scheming is bound to fail (40.37). The one who believed said: “O my people! Follow me so that I can guide you to the right path (40.38). O my people! The life of this world is temporary and it is the hereafter that is the final abode (40.39). Whoever does evil he will only be recompensed with the like of it.” Whoever does good, whether a male or female while being a believer — those will enter Paradise and be provided for without count (40.40). [The one who believed said]: “O my people! How is it that I call you to salvation yet you call me to the Fire (40.41)? You call me to disbelieve in Allah and to associate with Him gods whom I have no knowledge of yet I call you to the Impregnable, the Forgiving One! (40.42). No doubt that what you call me to has no real call in this world or in the hereafter. Our return will be to Allah and the extravagant are the people of the Fire (40.43). You shall remember what I am saying and I shall commit my case to Allah. Allah sees the servants” (40.44). So Allah protected him from the evil of their scheming, and the woe of the torment encompassed the people of Pharaoh (40.45). They are all exposed to the fire in the morning and evening, and when the Hour comes [it will be said]: “Admit the people of Pharaoh to the worst torment” (40.46).

A.7 The Chapter of Yunus (Jonah) (10.75-93)

Then We sent after them Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh and his chiefs with Our signs, but they showed arrogance and they were a guilty people (10.75). When the truth came to them from Us they said: “This is surely clear magic” (10.76). Moses said: “This is what you say of the truth when it has come to you? Is it magic? Magicians cannot succeed” (10.77). They said: “Have you come to turn us away from what we found our fathers do, and so that greatness in the land should be for you two? We are not going to believe you two” (10.78). Pharaoh said: “Bring to me every skilled magician” (10.79). When the magicians came, Moses said to them: “Cast down what you have to cast” (10.80). So when they cast, Moses said: “What you have performed is magic; Allah will make it vain; Allah does not allow the work of corrupters to thrive (10.81). Allah will show the truth to be the truth by His words however much the guilty may hate it” (10.82). But none believed in Moses except some offspring of his people while full of fear of Pharaoh and their chiefs that he would persecute them. Surely Pharaoh was lofty in the land; and surely he was one of the extravagant (10.83). Moses said: “O my people! If you believe in Allah, then rely on Him, if you are Muslims” (10.84). They said: “On Allah we rely; Our Lord! Do not make us subject to the persecution of the unjust people (10.85) and deliver us by Your mercy from the disbelieving people” (10.86). We revealed to Moses and his brother: “Take you both, for your people, houses in Egypt; make your houses qibla; and perform the prayer. Do give good tidings to the believers” (10.87). Moses said: “Our Lord! You have given to Pharaoh and his chiefs finery and riches in this world’s life, our Lord, that they may lead [people] astray from Your way. Our Lord! Destroy their riches and harden their hearts so that they do not believe until they see the painful punishment” (10.88). He said: “The prayer of you both has been accepted, so keep to the straight path and do not follow the path of those who do not know” (10.89). We made the children of Israel to pass through the sea, then Pharaoh and his soldiers followed them in transgression and oppression. When the drowning overtook him, he said: “I believe that there is no god but He in whom the children of Israel believe and I am one of the Muslims” (10.90). Now, having disobeyed before and having been one of the corrupters (10.91)? Today We shall save you in the body that you may be a sign to those after you. Surely many people are heedless of Our signs (10.92). We lodged the children of Israel in a goodly abode and We provided them with good things. They did not differ until the knowledge came to them; your Lord will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection about what they differed about (10.93).

A.8 The Chapter of al-Isra’ (The Night Journey) (17.4-7, 17.101-104)

We decreed to the Children of Israel in the Book: “You will cause corruption in the earth twice and you will show great loftiness (17.4). When the first of the two promises comes to pass, We will send against you servants of Ours with great might who will invade your dwellings; this promise is certain to be fulfilled (17.5). Then We will make it your turn to prevail over them and supply you with a lot of wealth and children and make you more enormous (17.6). If you do good work you do so for your own souls, and if you commit evil you do so to your own detriment. When the second promise comes to pass, they will make your faces full of grief, enter the mosque as they did the first time, and destroy what they control” (17.7).

We gave Moses nine manifest signs. Ask the Children of Israel about when he came to them, and Pharaoh said to him: “Moses, I think you are bewitched” (17.101). He said: “You know that none sent these down other than the Lord of the heavens and earth as proofs; I think, O Pharaoh, that you are cursed” (17.102)! So he sought to drive them out of the land but We drowned him and all those who were with him (17.103). We said to the Children of Israel after him: “Dwell in the land. When the last promise comes to pass, We will bring you in a mixed crowd” (17.104).

A.9 The Chapter of ad-Dukhan (Smoke) (44.17-33)

We tried the people of Pharaoh before them and there came to them a noble messenger (44.17), [saying]: “Deliver to me Allah’s servant; I am a trustworthy messenger to you (44.18). Do not exult yourselves above Allah; I have come to you with a manifest authority (44.19). I seek refuge in my and your Lord that you do not stone me (44.20). If you do not believe me then leave me alone” (44.21). Then he prayed to his Lord that these are a sinful people (44.22). [We told him]: “Take away My servants by night. You will be followed (44.23). Leave the sea dry; they are a host to be drowned” (44.24). They left behind many gardens (44.25), crops, a noble dwelling (44.26), and favors in which they enjoyed themselves (44.27). Thus, We made another people inherit them (44.28). The heaven and the earth did not weep for them, and they were not respited (44.29). We saved the Children of Israel from the degrading torment (44.30) — from Pharaoh; he was haughty; one of the extravagant (44.31). We chose them knowingly above all peoples (44.32). We gave them signs in which there was a manifest trial (44.33).

A.10 The Chapter of az-Zukhruf (Ornaments) (43.46-55)

We also sent Moses with Our signs to Pharaoh and his chiefs, and he said: “I am the messenger of the Lord of all peoples” (43.46). But when he came to them with Our signs, they laughed at them (43.47). We did not show them a sign but it was greater than its fellow, and We seized them with a torment that they may return (43.48). They said: “O you magician! Pray to your Lord for us, by whatever covenant He has with you, and we shall be guided” (43.49). But when We removed the torment from them they broke the promise (43.50). Pharaoh proclaimed among his people: “O my people! Do I not possess the kingdom of Egypt, and these rivers flow beneath me? Do you not see (43.51)? Am I not better than this fellow (Moses) who is contemptible and can hardly speak clearly (43.52)? Why then have bracelets of gold not been cast on him or angels not come with him conjoined” (43.53)? He fooled his people so they obeyed him. They were ungodly people (43.54). When they angered Us, We took revenge on them and drowned them all (43.55).

A.11 The Chapter of al-Ma’ida (The Table) (5.20-26)

When Moses said to his people: “O my people! Remember the favor of Allah on you when He made prophets among you and made you kings and gave you what He has not given to any of the other peoples (5.20). O my people! Enter the holy land which Allah has decreed for you and do not turn back, otherwise you would turn about losers” (5.21). They said: “O Moses! There is a mighty people in it; we will not enter it until they go out of it. If they go out, we will enter it” (5.22). Then two men who fear [God] whom Allah has given favor to said: “Enter on them by the gate. Once you have entered you will be victorious. Put your trust in Allah if you are believers” (5.23). They said: “O Moses! We will never enter it as long as they are in it. Go you and your Lord and fight. We will sit here” (5.24). He said: “My Lord! I do not control other than myself and my brother, so separate between us and the rebellious people” (5.25). He said: “It shall then be forbidden for them for forty years in which they shall wander in the earth, so do not grieve for the rebellious people” (5.26).

A.12 The Chapter of an-Naml (Ants) (27.7-14)

When Moses said to his family: “I have perceived a fire that I might bring you tidings from or a burning brand that you might warm yourselves” (27.7). When he came to it (the fire), he was called that “blessed is that who is in the fire and that who is around it, and glory be to Allah the Lord of all peoples (27.8). O Moses! It is Me, Allah, the Mighty, the Wise (27.9). Throw down your staff.” When he saw it moving like a snake he fled without tracing his steps. [He was called]: “O Moses! Do not fear for messengers are not to fear in My presence (27.10). As for the others, those who do wrong and then substitute good for evil, I am forgiving, merciful (27.11). Enter your hand to your bosom and it will come forth white without harm. These are among nine signs to Pharaoh and his people; they are a rebellious people” (27.12). When Our clear signs came to them, they said: “This is a manifest magic” (27.13). They denied them while their souls were certain they were true, out of wrongdoing and arrogance. See what the end of the doers of corruption was (27.14).

A.13 The Chapter of An-Nazi‘at (The Snatchers) (79.15-25)

Has the story of Moses reached you (79.15)? When his Lord called him in the holy valley of Tuwa (79.16): “Go to Pharaoh; he has transgressed (79.17). Say to him: ‘Do you have the will to purify yourself (79.18) and to let me guide you to your Lord so that you become pious to Him’” (79.19)? He showed him the great sign (79.20) but he denied [it] and disobeyed (79.21). Then he went to plan (79.22) so he gathered and proclaimed (79.23), saying: “I am your Lord supreme” (79.24). So Allah seized him with the punishment of the hereafter and this world (79.25).

 

          

 

Translation by Louay Fatoohi and Shetha Al-Dargazelli 2008