False Accusations by The Hyde Park Christian Fellowship's 99
Having had his attention drawn by the Islamic Party to the
challenge made by the Hyde Park Christian Fellowship's Joseph Smith
against the authenticity of the Qur'an, Muhammad Rafiq takes his
argument apart in this Occidentalist Apology.
An Initial Apology
Mr. Smith, may I start by congratulating you on the excellent
research you have done and the fact that you have quite rightly
decided that the Islamic claims should be challenged. As a convert
to Islam I am often embarrassed by the fact that much of the
propagation literature produced by Muslims makes assertions such as
`Islam is the way which is provable by intellect'. The same
literature informs the non - Muslim that blind acceptance of
doctrines is not the way of Islam and that Islam encourages people
to research, think and decide for themselves. We as Muslims request
non-Muslims to examine the veracity of their own beliefs and the
material that it is based upon. Very often Muslim scholars hold
debates on and produce literature about the fallacious doctrines
(from an Islamic perspective) upheld in other faiths. Further than
this they critique the books at the core of those faiths such as the
Bible, pointing out syntactical errors and such like. Also we
Muslims deem it reasonable to highlight murky patches and unpleasant
people of history, such as the infamous Council of Nicea (325 C.E.)
where a debate between Christian scholars was presided over by a
then pagan emperor Constantine. Usually these areas are often
conveniently ignored or glossed over by Christian and Jewish
scholars alike. So based on the Biblical wisdom of "do unto others
as you would have them do unto you" it should be only correct and
just for secular Muslim scholars (Orientalists) to put forward their
The Main Apology
In your introduction you state:
"There has also been a
reticence to question the Qur'an or the prophet, peace be upon him,
because of the adverse response evidenced by those who have been
brave enough to have done so in the past".
Well brave heart this is
not strictly true. The Qur'an was first translated by George Sale in
the early eighteenth century. He was requested to perform the task
by the Queens Privy Council as part of a war briefing. (Originals
are hard to come by however there are a few nineteenth century
facsimile editions still circulating). Mr. Sale wasted no time in
making desparatory and unsavoury comments e.g.:
"Besides angels and devils the Mohammedans are taught
by the Koran to believe an intermediate order of creatures, which
they call Jin or Genii, created also of fire, but of a grosser
fabric than angels since they eat and drink... and are subject to
death. Some of these are supposed to be good and others bad, and
capable of future salvation or damnation as men are, whence Mohammed
pretended to be sent for the conversion of Genii as well as men".
(Sale's Koran, Preliminary Discussion sec. iv p.72 (1734))
As we can see Mr. Sale announced that Muhammad "pretended" to
be here for Jinn and Mankind as long ago as 1734. With regards the
nomenclature of Mohammedans your own research has proved that
Muslims were using the title Muslim for sure some 60 years after the
death of the prophet (SAW). For some reason Orientalists old and new
just don't like the name Muslims and when they can't denounce it
they simply substitute for something of their own invention. How
bizarre! Needless to say Mr. Sale's theology is incorrect and since
accuracy is paramount I shall attempt to clarify his errors.
1.) There are three known orders of beings; Angels,
Jinn and Mankind. Devils are not known to be a separate order.
2.) They are made of light, smokeless fire and clay
respectively. Since man is physically 90% water these descriptions
are of a metaphysical or metaphorical nature (Muslim scholars vary
on this detail).
3.) Angels are not believed to have free will and therefore
always obey the orders of God providing they do not experience a
problem carrying them out. Jinn and Mankind are known to have
limited free will and so can choose between belief and disbelief for
which they will be held accountable.
4.) Among the disbelievers of Jinn (most notably "Iblees" or
Satan) and Mankind are those who reach such levels of depravity that
they become known as "Shaytan" or devils.
5.) The Holy Qur'an states that it is a mercy to Mankind and
the Jinn (51:56 + 6:130, 46:29-35, 72:1-15). These verses, like all
other verses in the Qur'an, are an article of faith to every true
6.) Every Muslim believes the prophet Muhammad, before God has
the highest status in creation. Back to Orientalists of the past.
Sir William Muir states:
"The confidence with which Mahomet
refers to the testimony of the Jews and of their Scriptures, is very
remarkable. It leaves us no room to doubt that some amongst the
Jews, possessed probably of an imperfect and superficial
acquaintance with their own books and traditions, encouraged Mahomet
in the idea that he might be, or positively affirmed that he was
`that Prophet whom the Lord their God should raise up unto them of
their brethren' [Deut:18.8] .... But whoever his Jewish friends may
have been, it is evident that they had a knowledge - rude and
imperfect, perhaps, but comprehensive of the outline of Jewish
history and tradition. These, distorted by rabbinical fable, and
embellished or parodied by the Prophet's fancy, supplied the
material for the Scriptural stories, which begin to a chief portion
of the Coran." (Life of Mohamet, vol. ii p.183 (1858))
Here we have the Seal of Prophethood, peace be upon him,
being accused of distorting rabbinical fable and adding to it of his
own whims. It is not necessary to deal with these outdated and
disproved claims here, it simply serves as an example.
In reference to Muhammad's seal upon his back Muir stated:
have not noticed this `seal' in the body of the work",
strangely enough went on to cite some traditions pertaining to it
and finally surmised:
"From the traditions quoted above it would seem
to have been nothing more than a mole of unusual size; and his
saying that `God had placed it there' was probably the germ of the
supernatural assertions which grew up concerning it."
A final example from Rodwells Koran declares:
whence Muhammad derived many of the traditions in the Kur'an was
indeed an ill - concealed secret in the earlier portion of his
career; later on, when the religion of the Prophet became firmly
established, no one ventured to doubt the divine origin of the
entire book" (Koran, John M. Rodwell 1861)
Since Orientalism began over two hundred and fifty years ago
(as a science) there has been a barrage of claims and repetition of
claims made against the Prophet, his mission and his revelation.
The reason for the "adverse response" you mention is simply
that Orientalists have not been satisfied with keeping their claims
in an academic field but have often resorted to the child's
playground. Tactics have included making up disparaging nicknames
for people, passing insulting comments about the Prophet, peace be
upon him, deliberately distorting his teachings and taking aspects
of his life out of context. As Muslims we welcome any intellectual
challenge but it is not possible to accept insults. If we remind
ourselves of the contents of the tablets given to Moses we find God
admonishing us to “not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain”.
Indeed in Islam to blaspheme the names of God or any of the
Prophets, peace be upon them all, is a major and punishable sin, as
it used to be in Christian and Judaic law. Therefore, as the
propagation literature asserts, Islam welcomes intellectual and
academic debate but contenders are requested to please tread wisely
so as not to cause offence.
Apology of Shortcomings Before continuing the riposte this
would also be a good time to expose some of the shortcomings of the
Muslims in this area.
The Muslims have not yet developed a discipline of
Occidentalism. There exist different scholarly disciplines within
the existing framework. Depending on the nature of any given
question it may be necessary to go from one type of scholar to
another in order to get a complete answer. This is something which I
as a practising Muslim have experienced myself. For instance the
science of Hadith containing the `knowledge of men' is presided over
by highly specialised research scholars. Such men are not ordinarily
qualified to pass rulings (fatwas) and such like. Similarly a jurist
is not ordinarily qualified to make a classification upon the
authenticity of Hadith. (Unfortunately many scholars overstep their
marks into each other's fields and this is one of the many causes of
theological division amongst Muslims). These various disciplines
have historically been taught quite rigidly and so most scholars are
not really qualified to tackle the Orientalist challenge. There is
for example no field in the Islamic sciences of Archaeology. Across
the board there is to this day still a shortage of fluid English
speaking scholars from the specialised disciplines versed in
Occidental culture and Occidental disciplines.
You refer to the Qur'ans own claims to self integrity being
"Nay this is a Glorious Qur'an in a tablet preserved".
sentiments are re-iterated in two other places namely 56:78-9:
is indeed a Noble Qur'an in a well preserved book"
"Surely, We ourselves have sent down this Exhortation, and We will
most surely safeguard it".
Citing 43:3 you then incorrectly
interpret these verses as meaning that the Qur'an is the Mother of
Books and the earthly version is an identical replica of tablets in
Heaven. In fact 43:3 reads:
"We have appointed it a Lecture (Qur'an)
in Arabic that haply you may understand"
which is followed by:
verily, it is in the Mother of the Book, which We possess, it is
high, full of wisdom".
This does not claim that the Quran is the
Mother of Books but that with God is a book which is the mother of
"The Mother of the Book, the Foundation of Revelation, the
Preserved Tablet, is the core or essence of revelation, the original
principle or fountain-head of Allah's Eternal and Universal Law.
From this fountain-head are derived all streams of knowledge and
wisdom, that flow through time and feed the intelligence of created
minds. The Mother of the Book is in Allah's own Presence and its
dignity and wisdom are more than we can all think of". (Yusuf Ali's
Qur`an, comm. no. 4606)
It is the source of the Qur'an itself which
cannot be changed and may be paralleled with the computing concept
of WORM technology (Write Once Read Many) such as optical disks etc.
The Qur'an asserts that none have access to this divine source
except the spiritually purified 56:77-9. However God's preservation
of the earthly Message from this source is promised in 15:10.
As you rightly point out the earliest sets of traditions,
commentaries, biographies and books of history still extant do not
pre-date 750 C.E., and they do not flourish until approximately 50
years later. It is most ominous that for a period of 120 years after
the death of the Prophet there is an apparent news blackout. A
veritable silence over what would have been a time of great
activity, hustle and bustle. Why, apart from the Qur'an which God
willing we shall detail shortly, can nothing else be proven
archaeologically from this period? If, as we Muslims maintain, the
Seal of Prophethood was walking upon the earth delivering the Final
Testament to Mankind, then this subsequent silence would imply
something satanic took place. Or as some Orientalists assert, there
was no Prophet and Islam "evolved" over a period of 200-300 years.
Well the claim that there is nothing at all for this period
is untrue. Recently a very early document has come to light, the
"Sahifa" (that is a collection of Hadith belonging to a Companion of
the Prophet) of Hammaam ibn Munabbih. Research performed by Dr.
Muhammad Hamidullah has proven that the Hadith in the Sahifa can all
be found in the Musnad of Ibn Hanbal, with only slight textual
variation. (Ibn Munabbih, Hammaam "a-Sahifa", Ed. Dr. Muhammad
Hamidullah, Paris) Hammaam himself was a student of Abu Hurayrah,
the companion who is famous for being the most prolific narrator of
Also the American scholar Nabia Abbot has done
extensive work with collections of Arabic papyrus documents acquired
by the Chicago Oriental Institute between 1929-47. She has published
three volumes on this research, Studies in Arabic Literary Papyri
(Volume 1: 1957, Volume 2: 1967, Volume 3: 1972). After comparing
very early Hadith papyri against later canonical collections she
"contain very little, beyond some rather minor
textual variants, that was not already available to us in the rich
heritage of tafsir and Hadith literature" (Volume 2)
your point that "Later documents simply draw upon earlier
documents". This also serves as testimony to the Muslim scholars'
same claim. Since you must now accept that research has so far
conclusively proven that these later sources have been collected
with a high degree of accuracy, your claim that the classical period
has been "coloured" and therefore its traditions must be discounted,
no longer stands. All primary source material discovered so far
substantiates the contents of the secondary material. In all
fairness some degree of reporting bias does exist but not to such an
extent as to invalidate the traditions, but merely to require
caution and research before using them.
You ask "But of most importance is the question of where the
compilers obtained their material from". This brings us to the
remarkably simple fact that the compilers were themselves practising
Muslims. The material was obtained to some degree from the
traditions which they themselves were raised practising and from
copying earlier existing compilations but the main body was
collected verbally. The compilers spent a large amount of time
interviewing people about their own practices and where they came
from and if they had ever heard any saying attributed to the Prophet
or his companions. They would also request the narrator to cite the
authority for the tradition. Humphrey's astounding claim that these
chains are simply lists of names is probably the greatest inaccuracy
any Orientalist has ever expounded. It is a well known fact that the
biographies of hundreds of thousands of Arabs, Persians, Jews et al
living in the Muslim lands have been preserved. This biographical
literature constitutes the largest body of literature of its kind in
the world. For instance Bukhari alone has compiled the biographies
of more than 42,000 people in his `Tarikh'. The assertion that the
chains of narration are nothing more than "lists purporting to give
the names of those from whom the oral traditions came, yet lacking
any documentation to support their claims" proves that either a.) he
has never researched, b.) is incompetent or c.) is deliberately
attempting to mislead people. These biographies, larger than
telephone directories, compiled by hand by men who spent decades of
their lives travelling by foot and camel are still extant.
Hadith literature can only be viewed as a highly credible
body of historical literature with a very unique set of internal
Whilst it may be possible that both the Samarkand Manuscript
and Topkapi Manuscript may not both be Uthmanic originals they are
generally recognised as two of the oldest known Qur'ans. Whilst
discussing these texts you appear to have overlooked the central
issue. When the Czarist government published a facsimile of the
Samarkand it was taken and compared to the Topkapi and they were
found to be identical in content (Preservation of the Original
Teachings in Islam, Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah (1989)). And of course
the ancient Topkapi manuscript is identical to the Qur'an revered
and recited by one billion Muslims world-wide today. This brings us
to a brief sojourn to the Dome of the Rock which is replete with
many Qur'anic verses both inside and outside. These inscriptions can
be dated to 691 C.E. and are also identical in script to the Topkapi
manuscript and all the Qur'ans in circulation today (The Noble
Sanctuary, Alistair Duncan (1972)). This solid evidence confirms the
Islamic claim that the Qur'an is the `unchanging' word of God. These
ancient texts also serve as vindications to the Islamic claims
concerning the accuracy of verbal transmissions.
It is also worthy of note that the Qur'an pre-dates any
translation of the Bible to Arabic (Grunebaum).
To quote once again the nineteenth century Orientalist Sir
"There is otherwise every security, internal and
external, that we possess the text which Muhammad himself gave forth
"There is probably no other book in the world
which has remained twelve centuries with so pure a text." (Life of
No doubt this admission caused great pains to Sir Bill and
after two further centuries the miracle shines on.
It is important to realise that these texts are not held as
artefacts of reverence as other relics are to other faiths. As
Muslims we are simply interested in the truth, like fate, for the
good of it and the bad of it. The Samarkand manuscript is believed
to be the actual one read by the Khalif `Uthman ibn 'Affan at the
time of his murder and is allegedly spattered with his blood. This
is certainly a claim which could be verified through the science of
forensics (not that one would advocate a sacrilegious exhumation to
perform a DNA test).
Ironically enough your belief that carbon dating these texts
is not possible is also unsound. Not many people are aware of the
fact that carbon dating equipment is calibrated using the science of
dendochronology (tree ring dating). According to M.G.L Baillie:
broad terms....almost the whole of the last 7,000 years has been
calibrated at high precision" (Tree-Ring Dating and Archaeology,
High precision calibration has taken the standard deviation
from +/ 70 years to +/ 20 years. It is only when attempting to date
something greater than seven millenniums that accuracy becomes
dubious because dendochronological calibration ceases to be
The main practical problem with carbon dating is the fact
that there are very few such facilities available throughout the
world and the demand upon them is considerable. These texts have
most probably not yet been analysed using such techniques because
no-one has raised this as an issue.
The Kufic Script
Unfortunately my good brother Mr. Lings' assertions about the
Kufic script are erroneous. Letters from the Prophet Muhammad ,
be upon him, which are still extant and preserved in Istanbul are in
the Kufic script. Letters written by the Prophet's son in law, the
Khalif 'Ali ibn Abu Talib, are still extant and preserved in Iraq,
which are also in the Kufic script.
This now re-opens up the possibility of both the Samarkand
and Topkapi scripts being Uthmanic originals.
You say that
prior to the Islamic conversion of Kufa (the wrongly asserted birth
place of the script) the Arabic language could not have been
pre-dominant and that it would have taken many years to do so. For
some reason you are unaware of the fact that the Khalif 'Ali fought
the infamous "Battle of the Camel" just outside Basra. The majority
of his force were made up of Kufans whom he had managed to persuade
to support him. After his victory against the rebels he was suitably
impressed with Kufa and decided to settle there and declared Kufa
the centre of the Islamic community (transferring it from Madina for
the first time after some 35 years). As the new capital the Arabic
language would have taken root at a very fast pace. With regards the
literacy of 'Ali, he himself had been taught as a child at the
instigation of the Prophet and was one of the very early Qur'anic
scribes at Mecca. This proves that the revelation itself was first
set down in Kufic script. 'Ali was famed for his skills in
articulation and in later life is believed to have written a text
book on Arabic grammar. It is true to state that the script only
became dominant when the Abbasids, based in Kufa and Baghdad,
overthrew the Ummayads and seized power.
Concession - The Void That Should
archaeological perspective an admission must be made of the
discrepancy between the secondary sources textual assertions and the
The first experience
Muhammad, peace be upon him, had of revelation was the instruction
to read which led to first verses of the Qur'an:
"Read ! in the name
of thy Lord Who created, Who created man from a clot of blood, Read!
for thy Lord is the Most Noble, Who taught by the pen, Taught man
what he knew not" (96:1-5).
At the end of the second chapter of the
Qur'an we find instructions for Muslims to commit to writing credit
transactions (2:282). Muslims are instructed to take whatever the
Prophet gives and abstain from what he forbids (59:7, 4:59, 33:21).
Throughout the Qur'an we find interspersed instructions to read and
ponder upon God's Reminder (amongst other appellations the Qur'an is
also known as the Reminder) and even challenges to produce its like
(2:23, 10:38, 11:13, 17:88).
Amongst the secondary
sources we find the Prophet instructing people of Mecca to teach the
people of Medina to write (Ibn Al Athir), having his wives taught
literacy by other women (Ibn Abd Al Barr (Jami)), the Qur'an and the
skill of reading and writing to the People of the Veranda (Ibn
Hambal (Musnad)), a prisoner of war release policy after the battle
of Badr in which prisoners could earn their freedom by teaching
Muslim children these skills (Ibn Sa'd) and his advice to Anas of
"Capture science by the means of writing".
We find the Qur'an
asserts that the Prophet never spoke of his own desires (53:4). This
concept is expanded upon in the narrations relating the story of
'Abdullah ibn 'Amr ibn al 'As who was known to commit to writing the
sayings of Muhammad. He was teased about this by some people who
said that since the Prophet, peace be upon him, was a human being he
was subject to human emotions so it was therefore undesirable to
write down every saying. 'Abdullah went and questioned Muhammad,
saying "Should I note down everything you say?", the reply was
"Yes". `Abdullah inquired further "even when you are happy and even
when you are angry ?" and Muhammad replied "Of course! By God
nothing that comes out of this mouth is ever a lie" (Tirmidhi + Abu
The secondary sources
make references to many of the earlier primary sources which existed
in the seventh century such as: Jabir ibn 'Abdullah compiled an
opuscule on the methodology of pilgrimage to Mecca complete with an
account of the last pilgrimage including the farewell address
(Muslim, Sahih), Samurah ibn Jundab and Sa`d ibn `Ubadah are
reported to have written their memoirs for their children (Ibn
Hajar), when Ibn Abbas died he left a camel load of writings behind
and Ibn Mas`ood left a book behind which his son Abd ar-Rahman used
to show his friends (al-Hakim, Mustadrak). This is just a small
example of the many attested earlier documents.
Given that there are
numerous Qur'anic injunctions demanding literacy of the Muslims and
to obey the sayings of the Prophet and that there are numerous
injunctions in the secondary sources repeating and expanding upon
the demand of literacy upon the Muslims; given that the skills of
reading and writing were reported to have been taught on a wide
scale to the Muslims of all social backgrounds and standing; given
that there are scores of early compilations attested to have
existed; given all this, there should have been an explosion of
literature in seventh century Arabia the like of which would have
never had an equal upon the face of the earth. But the bang did not
go off until the "Golden Period" some 120 years later.
It is not sufficient
for Muslim scholars to state simply that the originals were copied
into later books. In spite of this being true it does not explain
what happened to these originals. Are we to assume that after
copying them the compilers destroyed them?
If we compare the
same period of history with medieval Europe it really helps to
quantify this enigma. From Anglo-Saxon-Celtic Britain from the 6th
to the 9th centuries C.E. there is an absolute wealth of extant
literature in the form of Holy Bibles, religious treatise,
supplications, accounts, edicts, letters, books of history etc.
These include the famous Book of Durrow (7th cent.), the Lindisfarne
Gospels (7th cent.), the Echternarch Gospels (early 8th cent.), the
Book of Kells (early 7th cent.), the Durham Gospels (early 8th
cent.), the Lichfield Gospels (second half 8th cent), the
Northumberland Gospels (8th cent.) and the epic Beowulf (7th cent.).
Now consider the infamous invasions of the barbarian Viking hoards.
It must be remembered that the Vikings specifically targeted the
Religious institutions of the day, sacking and looting the Churches
and Monasteries. We find the 8th century Bishop Alcuin writing to
King Offa in 796 C.E. "Look at the most holy places laid waste by
the pagans, altars defiled ..., monasteries profaned ..., the earth
polluted with the blood of kings and princes" (The Reign of
Charlemagne, H.R. Loyn and J. Percival (1975)). Many thousands of
Anglo-Saxon-Celtic men, women and children were savagely murdered,
raped and kidnapped (to be sold as slaves to the Muslims of Spain
(see Mohammed, Charlemagne and the Origins of Europe, Richard Hodges
and David Whitehouse (1983) for extensive details of the
Muslim-Viking trade alliances).
This carnage began
towards the end of the 8th century and continued well into the 11th
century and yet we still have extensive surviving literature.
Therefore the absence of Arabic papyri for the same
period, a period of Arab dominance and security, is most ominous.
When we examine the
Bible we find that there are comparatively few extant manuscripts in
the original Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic prior to the fourth century.
The wealth of Latin manuscripts is staggering however, the Vatican's
own library being several miles long. This discrepancy as we know is
as a result of the policy of Constantine after the Nicene vote, in
which he selected only four from over two hundred available Gospels
through a "miraculous" process. These were translated into Latin and
all the originals were destroyed and Constantine made it an offence,
punishable by death, to possess an original Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic
scripture (Jesus, Prophet of Islam, Muhammad 'Ata ur-Rahim (1991)).
It is ironic that such a crucial event is still relatively unknown.
This does lead one to wonder if a similar event could be responsible
for all the missing seventh century Arabic papyri?
contributing factor to the absence of material may be that which is
held in private possession and for which there is no public
availability. The multi-million pound underground world of
manuscript trading is briefly alluded to by Michael Baigent and
Richard Leigh in their detailed expose "The Dead Sea Scrolls
The effect of these
missing traditions can be clearly seen since even in the time of the
"Golden Period" the "Great Imams" differed in many areas of their
jurisprudence because of the number of conflicting and/or missing
traditions. No such conflicts could have been possible at the time
of the Prophet and so must result from distortions in the
You refer to a
tradition in the Sunan of Abu Dawud which describes there being
"hijra after hijra, but the best of men are to follow the hijra of
Abraham". Well firstly such a non-specific text is possible to
interpret it in many ways. More importantly the research scholars of
traditions referred to in the apology of shortcomings have
classified this particular tradition as "weak". This means that
there is either a defect in the chain or inconsistency in the text.
Naturally weak traditions are not usually accepted by jurists and so
arguments based upon it are not valid.
Direction of Qibla
Without wishing to
"move the goal posts" as it were, unfortunately to this day Muslim
prayer facilities are still being constructed erroneously. Even with
modern compasses the architects seem to have difficulty finding what
should be a straightforward bearing. Jurists vary in the degree of
inaccuracy allowed for a prayer to still be considered valid. Some
allow errors of up to 45 degrees and others allow prayer whilst on
board planes, trains, buses etc. where the Qibla may constantly be
You quote Jacob of
Edessa, who by 705 C.E. states
"So from all this it is clear that it
is not to the South that the Jews and the Maghraye here in the
regions of Syria pray, but towards Jerusalem or the Ka'ba, the
patriarchal places of their races".
From this text, by completely
ignoring its grammar and syntax you try to infer that "the Jews and
Maghraye" were both praying "towards Jerusalem, which is also known
as the Ka'ba". The correct syntax for this sentence is quite plainly
"the Jews and Maghraye" were both praying "towards Jerusalem or the
Ka'ba respectively". Respectively is grammatically inferred and is
re?iterated by the closing remark that they are the "patriarchal
places" plural, and not "place" singular, of their races. This
letter is therefore non Muslim documentary evidence of the Ka'ba at
Mecca being the Qibla used by Syrian Muslims in 705 C.E.
Also for some reason
Dr. Hawtings, Van Berchem and most recently Nevo all seem to be
walking around the Dome of the Rock with their eyes closed. Among
the many perfectly clear Qur'anic inscriptions, both inside and
outside the building, are the verses pertaining to the changing of
At no time did the
Prophet, peace be upon him, sever social or business ties with the
Jews. It must be noted that the Prophet did expel various tribes of
Jews from Medina in the early years of the Hijra. This of course was
because of their siding with his enemies after reneging on the
contract of peace which they had drawn up between them (the Qur'an
referring to them as hypocrites). According to the Qur'an cordial
relations must always be maintained with the people of the book
(Jews, Christians and Sabaeans) "Unto us our works, unto you your
works, there is no argument between us and you. Allah will bring us
together and unto Him is the journeying" (42:15) and also "Tell
those who believe to forgive those who hope not for the days of
Allah" (45:14). It must be noted limited inter?marriage has always
been practised. Also Jews and Christians were to some degree
involved in the administration of Islamic Spain, where all three
faiths lived in peace under Islamic rule for almost eight hundred
years. The change in the direction of prayer served many functions
but God tells us in His Qur'an that one of these reasons at the time
was to separate the "lukewarm" Muslims from the true Muslims
You quote an unknown
Armenian chronicler who is dated at approximately 660 C.E. He was of
the opinion that Muhammad was somehow trying to make a birthright
claim for the Arabs to the Holy Land of Palestine. From this you
deduce that "Muhammad's vision was not merely Arabia, but was
oriented to Palestine". Naturally as the Seal of Prophethood, his
vision was not territorial but as the Qur'an claims for the whole of
Mankind and Jinn. Based on this understanding the non-Muslim sources
do not contradict the Qur'an. Naturally the conquest of Jerusalem in
637 C.E. by the Khalif `Umar ibn al Khattaab would have put cordial
relations with the Palestinians of the day under strain (as does
modern Palestinian non-rule).
According to G.E. von
Grunebaum (Classical Islam - A History 600 1258 (English ed.
"Mecca is mentioned by Ptolemy, and the name he gives it
allows us to identify it as a South Arabian foundation created round
As stated earlier you
will also find the verses of the Qur'an describing the Qibla as
being the sanctuary of Mecca upon the gateway of the Dome of the
Rock which opens towards Mecca (Duncan). This pre-dates Crone and
Cook's earliest reference by 30 years.
Without a doubt the
oldest reference to the precincts of the sanctuary can be found in
the Holy Bible in the Book of Psalms. We find in Psalms 84;5-6 the
"Blessed are the men whose strength is in Thee, in whose
hearts are the highways to Zion. As they go through the valley of
Baca, they make it a place of springs".
This beautifully matches
God's reference to the valley of Bakka (by all accounts the ancient
name of the valley in which the sanctuary is located).
Sanctuary appointed for Mankind was that at Bakka, a blessed place,
a guidance to peoples" (3:96).
Here we actually have
King David explicitly referring to the sanctuary of Abraham
approximately 1200 years before Ptolemy as well as the sanctuary at
Zion. The description of the valley being made a place of springs is
most certainly a reference to the famous well of Zam Zam which God
caused to miraculously appear for Hagar, the mother of Ishmael after
being delivered there by Abraham. This famous Islamic tradition can
also be found in the book of Genesis 21;17-20
`And God heard the
voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven,
and said to her, "What troubles you Hagar ? Fear not for God has
heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad and
hold him fast with your hand for I will make him a great nation'.
Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water and she went
and filled the skin with water and gave the lad a drink. And God was
with the lad and he grew up, he lived in the wilderness and became
an expert with the bow".
This well had been
lost until the grandfather of Muhammad, Abdul Muttaalib, was woken
during his regular afternoon nap in the shade of the Ka`ba. He began
to dig a hole inside the precincts of the sanctuary much to the
consternation of the locals who demanded to know what he was doing
profaning the sacred ground. He then explained that his actions were
at the instigation of Angels whom had visited him on four
consecutive days requesting him to dig for "Sweet Clarity", then
"Beneficence", then the "Treasured Hoard", and finally "Zam Zam".
After several hours digging the blessed water re-surfaced and has
remained an open well ever since (Muhammad - His Life Based on the
Earliest Sources, Martin Lings (1983)).
terms of location the valley is to be found 40 days journey South of
Canaan, surrounded by three hills and with three valley passes, one
opening to the North, one opening to the South and the third opens
towards the Red Sea some 50 miles away.
We also find the
Prophet, peace be upon him, by way of pilgrimage, instructing
"Make journey for pilgrimage only to three; the
Inviolable Mosque, the Mosque of the Prophet and the Mosque of
Jerusalem" (Bukhari, Sahih and Nawawi, Taqreeb)
understanding of economics and trade is pitifully weak. She asks:
"what commodity was available in Arabia that could be sold at a
profit large enough to support the growth of a city?".
simply counter with "what commodity do the British trade, that makes
an Island as geographically insignificant as Iceland, rank among the
G5 giving it the power to devalue, for instance, the Turkish Lira by
40% in four months and allows it to `pick the fruit of the so called
Third World'". The answer is, that cancer of humanity, usury! The
big earner for the ten clans of the family of Quraysh in pagan Mecca
was their money-lending (at rates which would have embarrassed
Shylock) and their highly profitable caravan financing.
"They sponsored trade
caravans to Yemen, Syria and elsewhere once in the summer and once
in the winter. Makkah is referred to by some writers as a merchants'
republic. Its form of administration was oligarchical in character,
and the affairs of the city were managed by a Council of Elders.
Makkah was a business centre where capital enjoyed active
circulation. The businessmen had a flair for hoarding and gathering
wealth. Usury was the common trade practice and the rich made money
at the cost of the poor. The Makkans had a blind faith in the
unlimited productivity of capital and the virtue of credit. Brokers,
agents and the bulk of the population lived on credit. Sleeping
partnerships were common, and the capitalists enjoyed a greater part
of the profits in the business without any active participation.
Makkah had many financiers, whose first article of trade was money,
and they advanced money on credit at profitable terms, to the
leaders of the caravans and traders. They charged exorbitant rates
of interest, dinar for dinar, dirham for dirham" (History of Islam,
Professor Masud ul Hasan (3rd ed. 1994))
"The more things
change, the more they stay the same" (famous French saying). The
parallel of the economic situation of Mecca to today is amazing
which just goes to show;
1.) that those who do
not learn from history are doomed to repeat it and
2.) that even if you
dropped all the worlds bankers in the middle of the desert they
would still succeed in usurping the worlds ignorant poor and needy
(Lord Stamp). But I digress.
Other aspects of the
pagan Meccan trade included replica idols, prostitution and all the
usual side-show attractions. The Umayyad's were the foremost clan of
the Meccans and Abu Sufyan, their leader, was the wealthiest among
them. Needless to say the real cause of Umayyad hostility to the
teachings of Islam was not just the abolition of idolatry. What was
completely intolerable was the fact that the Prophet Muhammad, peace
be upon him, was advocating a way of life which would bring the
death knell to their business. Hence the fact that out of all the
Umayya, only one, 'Uthmaan bin 'Affan, voluntarily embraced Islam
before the fall of Mecca in the 8th year of Hijra. On this point we
find shortly after the demise of the Prophet, during the khalifate
of 'Umar ibn al Khattab, Mu'awiya the son of Abu Sufyan
re-introducing usury. This was much to the distress of the chief of
the tribe of Ansar, `Ubada bin as Samit Al Ansari, who informed him
that the practice had been forbidden by the Prophet, but Mu'awiya
considered it reasonable and continued unabated. (Ibn Maja, Sunan)
The Dome of the Rock
You suggest that the
eight pillars of the building imply circumambulation. Van Bercham
believed that such an imposing structure built so early suggests
that it was the sanctuary and centre of Islam until the late 7th
century. It is important to note that within the precincts of the
Dome of the rock are the mosque built by the Khalif `Umar and the
famous rectangular al Aqsa Mosque. According to Muslim tradition
both of these pre-date the Dome of the Rock.
This brings us back
to Anglo-Saxon Britain and the Bishop of Jarrow known as the
Venerable Bede (died 735 C.E.). He compiled a pilgrims guide to
Jerusalem and surrounding areas known as the De Locis Sanctis
(between 702-9 C.E.). This itself was based upon the De Locis
Sanctis written by Adamnan of Iona between 683-6 C.E. and was based
upon the verbal account given him by a Frankish Bishop called Arculf
who had performed the pilgrimage in 679. Arculf reported that whilst
in Jerusalem he witnessed an argument between what he describes as a
believing and a non-believing Jew (i.e. in Jesus ). He reports that
the dispute, over an alleged funeral shroud of Jesus, peace be upon
him, was settled by "the Saracen King Mavias", meaning of course
Mu`awiya. He also goes on to describe the "Saracens' quadrangular
mosque at Jerusalem and ... to another mosque at Damascus" (Early
Medieval History, Professor J.M. Wallace-Hadrill (1975)).
a.) that the al Aqsa
mosque pre dates the Dome of the Rock and
b.) that it was the
only `Saracen' facility worthy of note prior to the building of the
Dome of the Rock which proves that in original form it was a place
of prayer and veneration for the Muslims and not a sanctuary of
As mentioned earlier
amongst the many Qur'anic verses to be found both on the interior
and exterior of the Dome of the Rock are 2:143-5 which state:
"Thus We have appointed you a middle nation,
that ye may be witnesses against mankind, and that the messenger may
be a witness against you. And We appointed the Qiblah which you
formerly observed only that We might know him who follows the
messenger from him who turns on his heels. In truth it was a hard
test safe for those whom Allah guided. But it was not Allah's
purpose that your faith should be in vain, for Allah is full of
pity, merciful towards mankind. We have seen the turning of your
face to heaven. And now verily We shall make you turn to a Qiblah
which is very dear to you. So turn your face to the Inviolable Place
of Worship, and you, wheresoever you may be, turn your faces toward
it. Lo! those who have received the Scripture know that this is the
truth from their Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what they do. And
even if you broughtest unto those who have received the Scripture
all kinds of portents, they would not follow your Qiblah, nor can
you be a follower of their Qiblah, nor are some of them the
followers of the Qiblah of others. And if you should follow their
desires after the knowledge which has come unto you, then surely you
were of the wrongdoers".
For some reason,
Berchem and Nevo seem to be either extremely scant in their research
or extremely short-sighted because their claims that the Dome of the
Rock contains no evidence for the miraculous "mi'raj" on the
building is negated by the existence of the verse
"Glorified be He Who carried His servant by
night from the Inviolable Place of Worship to the Far Distant Place
of Worship; the neighbourhood whereof We have blessed, that We might
show him our tokens. Lo! He only He is the Hearer, the Seer".
In fact this
inscription is followed by a further 7 verses of the same chapter
(Alistair Duncan, the Noble Sanctuary (1972)).
The power of the
Qur'an is such that just the existence of the four verses on the
building alone negates, nay obliterates, all of your arguments
concerning the Prophet, Mecca, the ascension, the position of "the
people of the book", the Qiblah, the dating of the Qur'an and the
accuracy of Qur'anic transmission.
With regards the
number of prayers prescibed in the Qur'an you appear to have missed
other references including 50:39-40 and 52:48-9.
Muhammad, peace be upon
You have discovered
an account by an Armenian chronicler from around 660 C.E. which
gives a brief account of the career of Muhammad, but does not make
any reference to his Prophethood. Well, naturally, one would expect
a non-believer not to recognise his Prophethood since it is the
Islamic criterion of being a non-believer.
Dr. John Wansbrough
claims that the earliest Islamic documents also say nothing of his
Prophethood. Amongst the letters of the Prophet, which are still
extant is one which is preserved in Istanbul and is replete with his
own seal which read "Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah".
Needless to say this
also negates the theories expounded by Nevo based on his
interpretation of graffiti found upon rocks in the Arabian desert.
It must be admitted that the references to the Prophet, peace be
upon him, and the declaration of faith really does not appear to be
in widespread use before the Marwanid period (prior to 684 C.E.) and
that its appearance seems almost overnight. Why is this so?
It is necessary for
us to examine the policies applied by the early Ummayad rulers to
realise that the absence of references to the Prophet are because of
their own hostilities towards him and his family. For instance, it
is well known that the then Khalif Mu'awiya instituted the extremely
un-Islamic practice of institutionalised cursing against the cousin
and son in law of the Prophet, 'Ali ibn Abu Talib. For a period of
60 years this was a regular practice in the obligatory
congregational sermon of the Friday prayer. This was abolished by
'Umar bin Abdul Aziz who was Khalif between 717-20 C.E. He also
repealed the Poll Tax which had been introduced upon new Muslims,
which resulted in a very large numbers of people suddenly embracing
Islam. When questioned about the resulting loss in revenue he
replied that "the Holy Prophet had been sent as a mercy to mankind
and not as a tax gatherer" (History of Islam). He restored the
Garden of Fedak to the family of 'Ali from whom it had been stolen
and he returned all the properties which had been confiscated by his
predecessors to their rightful owners. He did not keep a "harem" and
was well known for being conservative with the state treasury
(bait-ul-mal). "The liberal and benevolent policies of 'Umar bin
Abdul Aziz adversely affected the vested interests and they
conspired to get rid of him. He was poisoned to death in 720 C.E."
(History of Islam).
This then begs the
question, how on earth did such policies come into being? In order
to understand this, it is necessary to examine the mentality and
practices of pre-Islamic Arabia.
"Each tribe was a world by itself.
It had its own code of honour, its own concepts of law and order.
All activities were conceived within the framework of the tribe.
Loyalty to the tribe, courage to fight with others, to vindicate the
honour of the tribe, the glorification of one's own tribe... were
rated as the main virtues. Tribal loyalties led to inter-tribal
rivalries and hostilities. Disputes among tribes arose over cattle,
pastures, springs of water, horse racing and other trivial matters.
Once the dispute began and some persons from either side became the
victims of such disputes, a chain reaction was set up and vendetta
became one of the strongest religio-social obligations. During the
5th century C.E. one of the well known bedouin wars was the "Harb al
Basus". The dispute arose over the wounding of a she-camel belonging
to an old woman of Banu Bakr, named Basus, by a Taghlib chief. The
war lasted for 30 years with reciprocal raiding, killing and
plundering. The "Harb al Dalis and al Ghabra" was another war which
broke out... about unfair conduct... in a race. The war lasted for
several decades" (History of Islam)
The Pre-Islamic Arabs
were steeped in tribalism and its practices. The earlier Umayyad
khalifs saw themselves avenging their tribe against the injustices
brought against them by what they perceived as the "Hashimites" or
the tribe of the Prophet, peace be upon him. The Umayya never
managed to divorce themselves of these practices. Remember that
before the fall of Mecca only one member of the tribe, 'Uthman bin
'Affan, had voluntarily embraced the new way of life. Mu`awiya ibn
Abu Sufyan refused to acknowledge the khalifate of 'Ali ibn Abu
Talib. He fought against him for years, resulting in a civil war
that left many tens of thousands of the Prophet's companions dead.
After opposing 'Ali ibn Abu Talib we find Mu'awiya opposing his
successor Hasan bin 'Ali who after 6 months abdicated his khalifate
under special terms. Mu'awiya, however, had no intention of keeping
to this agreement, and after establishing himself in the seat of
power had Hasan poisoned to death.
"The person whom
Mu'awiya selected on this occasion for the perpetration of his
purpose was no other than the wife of the devoted Hasan, Jaidah, the
daughter of Aishauth, the son of Keyss, whom he prevailed to
undertake the destruction of her husband by the promise of a sum of
money and of being united in marriage to his favourite Yezzeid...
Her only compensation for the foul parricide, by which this wretched
woman consented to consign her name to eternal infamy, was a sum of
about 50,000 dirhams (equal to about £1,146), which Mu'awiya
remitted for her use.” (The Miracle Play of Hasan and Hussain,
Colonel Sir Lewis Pelly (1879)).
This is well known Mu`awiya then
caused the khalifate to become an hereditary Umayyad monarchy.
Mu'awiya's feeling about the Prophet and Islam are summed up in the
following tradition from Shu'ba al-Thaqafi.
"I visited Mu'awiya with
my father. My father would visit him and narrate from him.
Thereafter, he would come to me and mention Mu'awiya and his
mentality and would often be surprised at what he saw. He came to me
one evening. However he did not have dinner and appeared aggrieved.
I waited for a while thinking that something had happened between us
or what we did. I then said to him `What is the matter, I see you
are distressed since the evening?' He said `O my son, I have come
from the most evil of people'. I said to him `How can that be?'. He
said `I said to Mu'awiya when I was alone with him "O commander of
the Faithful, you have attained your goal, if only you were to
demonstrate justice and spread virtue. You have become old of age.
If only you were to look after your brothers the Banu Hashim and
were to re-establish ties with them. By God, they do not have
anything today which you should be scared of. In that there will be
something for which you will be remembered and will receive reward."
He said to me "Far be from it, far be from it. What remembrance do I
wish to leave behind me? The brother of Taym (Abu Bakr) ruled and
spread justice and did what he did. As soon as he died so did his
remembrance... Then the brother of 'Adi ('Umar) ruled... As soon as
he died so did his remembrance... Then our brother 'Uthmaan ruled...
By God, and as soon as he died, they forgot his remembrance... The
brothers of Hashim shout every day five times `I bear witness that
Muhammad is the Prophet of God'. What action and what remembrance
will remain with this, O motherless one, by God, except to die and
be buried"." .(al-Mas`udi, Muruj al Dhahab and Sharh Nahj al
Balagha, Ibn Abi`l Hadid)
G.H.A. Juynboll also raises the impact
that these early Umayyads have had on traditions. When referring to
the fadaa`il genre of narrations, that is to say the Hadith which
pertain to the merits and character of any individual, he quotes:
"Mu`awiya wrote one and the same letter to his tax collectors after
the year of the Jamaa`a in which he said `Let the conquered people
refrain from mentioning any merit of Abu Turaab ('Ali ibn Abu Talib)
or his kinsmen... Make a search for those you can find who were
partisans of 'Uthman and seek those who supported his rule and those
who uphold his merits and qualities. Seek their company, gain access
to them and honour them. Write down for me everything which everyone
of them relates...' In exchange Mu`awiya sent them presents" (Hadith
Literature: Its Origin, Development and Special Features, Muhammad
Zubayr Siddiqi (rev. ed. 1993))
There is a catalogue
of such distortions of practice and verbal traditions which were
introduced by this dynasty and their impact has yet to be fully
assessed. Needless to say this is undoubtedly the cause of many
modern day conflicts within the traditions, a major cause for the
absence of papyri and the reason for the `playing down' of the
Prophet, peace be upon him, in this critical period of history.
An account of
travelling from A to C via B does not necessarily implicate the
vectorial position, i.e. does not necessarily have geographical
significance. A journey from London to New York via Frankfurt does
not mean that the cities have to be in a linear path.
The Maghre and the
Athanasius in 684
C.E. writes of the Muslims using the nomenclature Maghraye. Jacob of
Edessa addresses the Muslims of Syria as Maghraye (before 705 C.E.).
Who were these people?
"The Arab assault on North Africa began in
639, only seven years after the death of the Prophet. The conquest
was made possible by desert tribesmen from Syria and Arabia who,
under 'Amr ibn al-As, challenged the unpopular Byzantine
administration of Egypt with an army of about 12,000 men. In 641
'Amr forced the Byzantine evacuation of the fertile Nile delta.
Nubia was invaded in 641-2... Richard Goodchild, after more than
twenty years research in Libya, concluded that the Arabs were able
to break through the `extraordinarily impressive' Byzantine defences
in the Cyrenaican Jebal because they were welcomed by the Copts...
The Arabs rushed through the once great province, and at Apollonia
they began the systematic destruction of the palace and associated
buildings of the imperial administration" (Mohammed, Charlemagne and
the Origins of Europe)
According to the
Websters New Geographical Dictionary "Maghreb - The Arabic name
for NW Africa and during the Moorish occupation, Spain". In a
nutshell the Maghrebites were Muslims from the Maghreb.
I have quoted
extensively about the Islamic conquest of this area because it also
gives us a further clue as to the whereabouts of the contents of the
Void Which Should Be Full. It would appear that the over zealous
Muslims on entering an area had abandoned the Prophetic example and
etiquettes of battle and had resorted to destruction and plundering.
As we see the very building which should have been charting the
Islamic expansion from a non-Muslim perspective, striking peace
accords and business agreements was "systematically
Finally the teachings
of the Qur'an in Arabic can only have come from a divine source
since at that time no Biblical teachings were extent.
question of the existence of a pre-Islamic translation of the Bible
into Arabic is certainly to be answered in the negative; nor is the
claim tenable that an Arabic Bible arose in the region of Hira about
620... a generally used definitive translation of the whole Bible
was not available even in the tenth century. The Koran remains the
first holy book in Arabic and at the same time - although the
ordinances of customary law were highly developed - the first
attempt at a codification of law.” (Classical Islam)
In 649 C.E. Pope
Martin held a Lateran Synod on monotheism, canons of which were
brought to Wearmouth later for transcription, which had been held
purely for the defence of the Trinitarian doctrine which was being
challenged by the teachings of Islam. (Early Medieval History)
To believe that Islam
"developed" over a 200 year period when there were no available
Arabic texts of the Bible even for the eighth and ninth century
compilers to copy from is not feasible. How could the Umayyads and
the Abbasids allow the introduction of a set of teachings to develop
which included a cessation of usury when it was their `bread and
butter'? How could such a powerful effect on the world and humanity,
second only in numbers to the effect of the Messiah Jesus, be
anything but the hand of Almighty God operating through one of his
vicegerents on earth?
: A Study
of Quranic manuscripts.
Hyde Park Christian Fellowship By David
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