There Is Only One God — A Brief Examination of the Koran

Brian G. Bloedel, ©2002

NOTE: All Koranic quotations are from “AL-QUR’AN: A Contemporary Translation by Ahmed Ali”, copyright 1984, published by Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-02046-9, all rights reserved. Quotations will be referenced by Surah number and verse number(s) separated by a colon (e.g., 28:15-19 is Surah number 28, verses 15 through 19).

Special thanks to Demijan Omeragic, webmaster of the Islamic Research and Apologetics website (linked below) for insisting that I delve much deeper into the history of the Koran and the evidence in its favour. This additional investigation has resulted in a significant revision of my original article. I heartily recommend his site for its high quality material (especially the ‘Qur’an’ section).

Introduction

This examination of the Koran was begun long before the terrorist attacks of 9-11-01. I come from a Christian background and wanted to know the scriptural foundation of Islam. Going to the religion section of a well-stocked bookstore I simply read jacket endorsements and selected Prof. Ali’s work as the best of the four versions of the Koran available on the shelf. I read it once to get the general feel of the Koran, and then read it a second time with an eye towards preparing this article.

Being familiar with the Judeo/Christian Bible (the King James and New International Versions in particular), I am used to the structure and flow of the Bible. That is, the Bible is arranged from our cosmic origins in Genesis Chapter 1, through the Torah, histories, praise and teachings, prophets, Gospels, Acts, epistles, and finally the apocalyptic end of this worldly age and beginning of the New Heaven & New Earth in the Book of Revelation.

I was a little disconcerted to find no structure or flow in the Koran. Each “Surah” (of which there are one hundred and fourteen) is a totally independent and separate entity. After a seven verse Prologue Surah, the Koran is arranged roughly from longest Surahs, through medium length Surahs, ending with the shortest Surahs. However, the Koran could be arranged in any order with no impact whatsoever.

Before getting down to specifics I will relate my general impressions of the Koran. Having read it twice, three main characteristics stand out:

  1. The Koran was revealed to Muhammad entirely in florid Arabic prose and poetry. Unfortunately, the beauty of the original Arabic does not translate well into English. More importantly, the almost overwhelming verbosity of the Koran tends to obscure the core truth statements sprinkled amid the wordiness.
  2. There are a lot of highly stylized and modified borrowings from the Bible, presented as divinely inspired corrections to the Judeo/ Christian Scriptures.
  3. There’s a lot of space wasting repetition.

All of this gives the Koran a false sense of ‘heft’. In the end, there is surprisingly little in the Koran that is both substantial and unique. But enough of impressions. It is now time to get down to case points.

Section One
. . . and Muhammad is His Prophet.

In order to be complete accurate and fair, I must admit that Islamic apologists have made a very good case that the Koran is a genuine product of supernatural revelation. The Koran contains verifiable scientific and historical information utterly beyond anyone’s knowledge fourteen centuries ago. Also, the prose and poetry of the Koran was too excellent and spiritually moving to be the product of an unschooled illiterate such as Muhammad.

However, truth claims should be substantiated before being accepted. This is especially the case when the claims involve divine revelation and prophetic authority. The Koran claimed Muhammad to be a “messenger” from God; a prophet and apostle (1). For example, in 9:33 the Koran stated, “It is He [i.e., God] who sent His Messenger [i.e., Muhammad] with guidance and the true faith in order to make it superior to other systems of belief, even though the idolaters may not like it.” The problem here is that the Koran presented absolutely nothing to substantiate the claim of Muhammad being a true prophet of God other than its own authority. This is aggravated by the fact that the Koran repeatedly referred to the substantiating signs, wonders and miracles of Moses and Jesus (2), and harped on the “clear proofs” presented by earlier prophets and apostles (3). Yet the Koran presented no ‘clear proof’ to validate these claims about Muhammad. If there exists substantiating evidence, it is not presented in the Koran. (Consider 17:90-93)

Indeed 6:19 states, “Ask: “Of all things what is most vital as evidence?” Say: “God is witness between you and me that this Qur’an has been revealed to me [i.e., Muhammad] that I may warn you on its strength, and those whom it reaches.”” That’s all there is! Muhammad simply laid down “the Book” as revealed to him, and on the basis of its testimony declared himself to be a prophet—no, make that the final Great Prophet—and demanded that everyone submit to the authority of the Koran.



Section Two
Sorry, we’re all ‘Booked’ up

The Koran purports to establish the one true faith. The Koran clearly and repeatedly recognized the Jewish and Christian scriptures as God-breathed, valid and authoritative (4). As Muhammad put it in 3:3-4, “He has verily revealed to you this Book [i.e., the Koran], in truth and confirmation of the Books revealed before, as indeed He had revealed the Torah and the Gospel before this as guidance for men, and has sent the criterion of falsehood and truth.”

The Koran repeatedly makes the general admonition that people should “fulfill their devotional obligations” (2:277), but aside from some advice on acceptable foods, conduct while traveling far from home, punishments, marriage, divorce, and a few other points, the Koran really left it to the Jewish and Christian scriptures to ‘fill in the blanks’ as to the details of exactly what should be done.

But there are a couple of problems here. First, modern Bible scholarship has given the world versions of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures with high levels of confidence as to faithfulness to the original manuscripts. The Bible as we have it today (including all purported errors and corruptions) was available in the Seventh Century of the Christian era; that is, available in the time of Muhammad.

That brings us to the second problem. If the Bible is at all accurate and valid, then Koranic Islam collides head-on with Judaism and Christianity in terms of historical accounts, logic and theology. I’ll elaborate on these differences in greater detail in the following section. But in brief, the basic theological distinctives of the three religions are as follows:

  1. Mosaic Judaism claimed that God is absolutely pure, holy and righteous. Human sin caused offence against the holy character of God, resulting in a penalty of death. The Mosaic code in the Torah established a priesthood overseeing an animal sacrifice system to provide a blood atonement for human sins, and a moral/legal system to minimize sin and establish justice.
  2. The distinctive claims of Apostles Creed Christianity are that the death of animals cannot atone for human sins, therefore God enfleshed Himself into this world through His virgin born son Jesus who offered himself on the cross as the final blood sacrifice on behalf of mankind; was resurrected from death in glorified form; and ascended to the right hand of God the Father so that all who believe in Him will have eternal life in the perfected New Heaven and New Earth. (Read the Gospel according to John, the Letter to the Hebrews, and the Book of Revelation in the Christian Testament)
  3. The central claims of the Koran are that if you recognize and submit to the one true God and His Prophet Muhammad, perform your religious devotional obligations, pay the zakat (i.e., charitable alms and service), make Hajj (a pilgrimage to Mecca), and ensure that your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds (all of which constitute the ‘Pillars of Islam’), then God will simply cancel your debt, forget about your sins, and admit you on the day of resurrection into the eternal Paradise of earthly carnal delights.

Jews may hotly dispute the Christian claim that the logic and theology of the Christian Testament flow smoothly and naturally from the Hebrew Jewish Testament. Muslims, however, are in a real pickle because Koranic theology clashes with both of those Testaments. It could hardly have been denied by any informed person of Mohammad’s time that Mosaic Jews really and truly did set up a priesthood, built the Tabernacle/Temple, and operated an animal sacrifice system for the atonement of sins against God. This system was in operation from the time of Moses all the way through the ministry of Jesus until the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the pagan Romans in the year 70 C.E.

I don’t think Muhammad really grasped the significance of the Mosaic system, for none of it survives in the Koran. If the Koran is actually correct, then the Mosaic sacrificial system was a gargantuan waste of time, effort and animals; and the error would seriously undermine the credibility of both the Torah as genuine Revelation and of Moses as a true prophet of God.

As mentioned in my introduction, the Koran has a substantial amount of borrowings from the Bible, especially the Jewish Testament. An excellent example of this is Surah #12 entitled “Joseph”, which was presented as a stylized, supposedly corrected version of the story of Joseph in Egypt from the Book of Genesis. The problem with all of the corrected ‘history’ in the Koran is that it doesn’t actually accomplish anything. Even if the Koran’s versions are true they would have almost no theological impact on the Jewish Testament, as they don’t address the Mosaic system of atonement of sin by substitutionary sacrifice, and the reconciliation of God and mankind.

The problems become acute when the Koran refers to the Christian Testament. Its accounts of the ministry, mission and ultimate fate of Jesus are completely at odds with the best available Christian Testament manuscripts. Both Muhammad and Islamic scholars from his day to the present would have had to have clearly demonstrated outright fraud and/or gross incompetence on the part of Christian Church leaders, theologians, philosophers, scholars and historians. The substantial improvements in Christian Testament manuscripts, archaeological evidence, biblical era historical research and critical textual analysis of the past one hundred and fifty years, however, place this goal out of the reach of Islamic scholars.

Section 3
Details, details, details.

Since the Koran has no structure and simply rambles from subject to subject in its Surahs, I am going to approach the following topics in alphabetical order.

1. Abraham

Abraham was the Koran’s ideal of near perfect faith and performance. In 2:130 Muhammad says, “Who will turn away from the creed of Abraham but one dull of soul? We [i.e., God] made him the chosen one here in the world, and one of the best in the world to come…” And in 3:67-68, “Neither was Abraham a Jew nor a Christian, but upright and obedient, and not an idolater. Of all men the nearest to Abraham are those who follow him, and then this Prophet [i.e., Muhammad] and the faithful;…”

2. America

Though America is certainly not mentioned in the Koran, I thought the following quote of 60:7-9 to be appropriate in the aftermath of the 9-11-01 attacks: “It may be that God will create love between you and your enemies. God is all-powerful, and God is forgiving, ever-merciful. God does not forbid you from being kind and acting justly towards those who did not fight over faith with you, nor expelled you from your homes. God indeed loves those who are just. He only forbids you from making friends with those who fought over faith with you and banished you from your homes, and aided in your exile.”

America has been kind and acted justly to people of all faiths. Our Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law; one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Many Islamic nations cannot say the same.

3. Christianity

If the Koran’s take on the Christian Scriptures is correct, then orthodox Apostles Creed Christianity is a monumental hoax and criminal fraud against humanity. Surah 2:75-79 puts the matter bluntly: “How do you expect them to put their faith in you, when you know that some among them heard the word of God and, having understood, perverted it knowingly?… Do they not know that God is aware of what they hide and what they disclose? Among them are heathens who know nothing of the Book but only what they wish to believe, and are only lost in fantasies. But woe to them who fake the Scriptures and say: “This is from God,” so that they might earn some profit thereby; and woe to them for what they fake, and woe to them for what they earn from it!”

Consider the following verses, 4:157-8 “And for saying: “We [i.e., the Jews] killed the Christ, Jesus, son of Mary, who was an apostle of God;” but they neither killed nor crucified him, though it so appeared to them. Those who disagree in the matter are only lost in doubt. They have no knowledge about it other than conjecture, for surely they did not kill him, but God raised him up in position and closer to Himself; and God is all-mighty and all-wise.”

The Koran’s lack of clarity and precision makes these verses difficult to interpret. If these verses are simply saying that technically the Jews did not kill Jesus, then this was common knowledge even in Muhammad’s time; the gentile Romans did the actual dirty work as clearly recorded in the Christian Scriptures. Or perhaps the Koran was addressing the rumor that the Jews themselves stoned Jesus to death. Though the Christian symbol of the Cross would be invalidated, there would be no real impact on Christian theology as long as Jesus was actually killed at that time.

However, if these verses are saying that Jesus did not die at all, then orthodox Christianity utterly collapses. If Jesus did not die on the cross at the hands of the Romans (thereby spreading the blame on Jew and Gentile alike) or die from stoning at the hands of the Jews, then he cannot be the blood atonement for the sins of mankind. After all, the sacrificial offering cannot survive the sacrifice.

But aside from that, the Koran repeatedly stated that Jesus was not the Son of God (5). In 4:171 the Koran clearly said, “The Messiah who is Jesus, son of Mary, was only an apostle of God, …and do not call Him ‘Trinity’…for God is only one God, and far from His glory is it to beget a son.” This however puts Muhammad and Islam in a real bind. The Koran clearly recognized Jesus as a virgin born prophet/apostle/Messiah (6) with an important Gospel message (7), who worked many miracles (8). The Gospel message was corrupted (9), so the Koran had to set everything straight. The problem here is that the Koran didn’t say anything about that important gospel message other than its standard line that you must recognize God and His prophet Muhammad, satisfy your devotional obligations, pay the zakat, and do good works. Surely God did not have to raise up a virgin born, wonder working, Gospel-preaching prophet/Messiah to say that. If there was anything else of substance in Jesus’ important Gospel message, none of it was recorded in the Koran.

Indeed, any way you look at the situation, Jesus is a major problem for Islam. On the one hand, if Jesus was “raised up” near the time Christians claim that he was crucified then God Himself inexplicably put an early end to the ministry of an important Muslim prophet, thereby giving credence to the false rumor of resurrection that would form the basis of the heretical religion of Christianity. On the other hand, if Jesus lived a long full life before being “raised up”, the question is begged as to why he didn’t simply present himself publicly as alive and well, thereby ending Christianity before it could begin, while completing his mission as a Muslim prophet/apostle/Messiah, with a faithfully recorded Muslim “gospel” preserved for modern day examination.

The Koranic claim that Jesus was ‘Messiah’ is also problematic. The Jews expected a Messiah who would throw off the yoke of foreign tyranny, restore the glory days of Israel, and establish universal peace prosperity and justice. The Christians claimed that Jesus Messiah was the Son of God come to atone for the sins of mankind and offer eternal life. Muslims claimed that the Messiah (if that word has any real meaning in an Arab context) would introduce the ‘Pillars of Islam’ and act as the forerunner and herald of the final Great Prophet.

Therefore, if the Koran’s version of the gospel is correct then Jesus must be counted as a ‘three strike’ failure. He failed as a Jewish Messiah, failed as a Christian Messiah, and failed miserably as a Muslim Messiah. Indeed, the Muslim ministry of Jesus would have to be recognized as being worse than worthless because the heretical/blasphemous religion of Christianity was founded upon the ruins of a failed Muslim Messiah. This would be a pitiful commentary on the validity of Islam.

Apparently, whoever (or whatever) revealed the Koran to Muhammad simply was not familiar with Mosaic Judaism or Apostles Creed Christianity. The Koran gives the impression that everything was just a big misunderstanding and that with the fresh, corrected revelation of the Koran everyone could come together in harmony under the big-top tent of Islam. 3:64 states, “O people of the Book, let us come to an agreement on that which is common between us, that we worship no one but God, and make none His compeer [i.e., Jesus, Mary, pagan gods, etc.], and that none of us take any others for lord apart from God.” I’m sure Muhammad sincerely felt that this was very reasonable, and was probably miffed when Jews and Christians failed to come around to his way of thinking. But the entire passage of 3:64-71 is a poison pill for Christianity. Again, if the Koran was correct then all of Mosaic Judaism and orthodox Christianity were wrong, making both of them utterly false religions, and corruptors of original revelation and history.

4. Heaven, Hell, and Paradise

Christians are generally taught that when we die we will go to Heaven. In the Koran, Heaven is the abode of God and His angels. On the day of resurrection, those who have found favor in God’s eye will go to the eternal Paradise of earthly delights, and those who have offended God and remain unrepentant will go to Hell where they will roast forever. Virtually nothing of substance is said to describe God’s Heaven. However, much is said about Hell and Paradise.

Hell is described as, well—-HELL (10)! Paradise is described as a luxurious Eden-like pleasure realm of earthly delights: gardens with cool streams of running water and lasting bliss, mansions, jewelry, silk clothing, abundant food and drink, lots of women for every guy, and young boys to attend to every need, etc., etc (11). Throw in power tools and a bowling alley and Paradise would be perfect! Of course this is a naked appeal to male carnality, and no mention is made as to where all of this will be located. (see my ‘Creationism/Darwinism’ article for further amplification)

However, the Koran’s vision of Heaven and Paradise pales before the descriptions of God’s Heaven, and the New Heaven, New Earth and New Jerusalem that is presented in the Judeo/Christian Bible (12).

5. Koran

“Any Israelite or any alien living among them who eats any blood—I (God) will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from his people. For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”
Leviticus 17:10-11 (NIV)

The one hundred and fourteen Surahs of the Koran were supernaturally revealed to Muhammad over a period of 23 years starting in the year 610 C.E. Surah 12, verses 3 and 111 tells the primary purposes of the Koran: “Through the revelation of this Qur’an We [i.e., God] narrate the best of histories of which you were unaware before. … This is not a fictitious tale, but a verification of earlier Books, and a clear exposition of every thing, and a guidance and grace for those who believe.” Surah 39 verses 27 & 28 continues: “We have given examples of every kind for men in the Qur’an so that they may contemplate: A clear discourse which expounds all things without any obliquity…”(13)

The problem here is that the Koran fails to deliver on any of the above points. The histories are mostly irrelevant (if not bogus), the expositions are vague or insubstantial, and the discourses are mainly space wasting poetic verbiage. Indeed, just about everything of true substance in the Koran is contained in Surah number 23. With a little extra detail this single Surah could be the entire Koran!

But I want to get down to basic fundamentals. Everything focuses to this one simple question: What is the actual atonement of sin so as to allow the reconciliation of God and man so that we may have eternal life? On this single critical point I find a serious discrepancy between the Koran and the Torah. The Torah as revealed by God to the prophet Moses clearly demanded substitutionary DEATH as the atonement for sin. The Koran just as clearly ignored substitutionary death, but instead demanded good works and religious devotional observance (i.e., the Pillars of Islam) as the atonement for sin. To pull it all together, consider the following points:

  • The Torah, with its current form and content (including the priesthood and animal sacrifice system), was available in the seventh century of the Christian era.
  • The present day Koran is complete and correct. That is, there are no missing Surahs and no corrupting changes.
  • The Koran clearly and repeatedly recognized Moses as a genuine prophet of God, and the Torah as a valid and authoritative revelation from God.
  • The Koran presented corrections to the Torah, none of which pertained to the Mosaic Code of the priesthood and animal sacrifice system.
  • The corrections to the Torah are complete and correct because the Koran is complete and correct!
  • The Mosaic Code in the Torah demanded atonement for sin by substitutionary DEATH. That is, a priesthood overseeing an animal sacrifice system performed in the Tabernacle (read Exodus chapter 25 through Leviticus chapter 10 and chapters 21-22, and Numbers chapters 15, 18, & 28-29. That’s a whopping 31 chapters!).
  • The Koran changed this (with no comment or explanation, mind you) to atonement by good works and religious devotional observance (i.e., the Pillars of Islam) while utterly ignoring the historical reality of Mosaic Judaism.

The above points are absolutely fatal to the Koran. Islamic apologists frequently point to the scientific and historical aspects of the Koran that validate it as supernatural revelation. However, there is an important aspect of science ignored by the apologists. Science insists upon the “Correspondence Principle”. That is, any new theory of science must account for and incorporate all of the properly verified and validated parts of previous related theories. For example, when Maxwell developed his famous equations of electro-magnetism he had to demonstrate that they were compatible with Newton’s previously verified Laws of Physics. When Einstein developed his Theory of Relativity, he had to demonstrate that it incorporated Maxwell’s Equations and Newton’s Laws. Any new theory of physics must account for and incorporate the work of Einstein, et al.

This same principle also operates in theology. There is only ONE God, and He is not about to contradict Himself. New revelation from God must flow smoothly and accountably from previous revelation by the same God. The Christian New Testament at least attempts to explain the shift from the Laws of Moses to their purported fulfillment in the work of Jesus on the Cross. However, the shift from the Torah to the Koran is about as abrupt as you can get. The Koran makes no attempt at all to explain the change from atonement by DEATH to atonement by good works. In fact, the Koran doesn’t even mention Mosaic Judaism!

This is totally unacceptable. Islamic scholars and apologists are going to have to present compelling extra-Koranic evidence proving that Moses actually and originally established a system of Islam (later corrupted into ‘Mosaic’ Judaism). Otherwise, they are going to have to admit that the Torah as presented in the Bible is correct and that the penalty for sin is DEATH, not good works.

6. Lead Astray

This will be real short. Just consider these two verses: 35:8 “…God leads whosoever He please astray and guides whosoever He will.” And 75:31 “That is how God leads whosoever He will astray, and guides whosoever He will.” These may simply be quirks of Prof. Ali’s translation, but I am rather doubtful of the idea that God actually leads people astray.

7. Marriage & Divorce

These two subjects provide further illustration of the conflict between Muhammad’s Koran and the Biblical Torah/Gospel. The Koran is rather cavalier on the issues of marriage and divorce. Surah 2:227-230 allows a man to marry and divorce the same woman four times, the only real stipulation being that after the third divorce the woman must marry and divorce a second man before remarrying the first. And 33:37 allows a man to marry his adopted sons wives “…when they are through with them.”

According to the Torah (Dt. 24:1-4), a man couldn’t remarry a woman if she subsequently became the wife of another man and was divorced by him. And Jesus clearly stated his opposition to divorce except in the case of adultery (Mt.5:32, Mk 10:5-9, & Lk 16:18). So who’s correct here: Muhammad, or Moses and Jesus?

8. Muhammad & Islam

“Muhammad is only a messenger; and many a messenger has gone before him.” So states 3:144. Give Muhammad credit for honesty on this point; he never claimed in the Koran to be anything more than a mere mortal man.

But let’s come straight to the main point. Muhammad claimed that the angel Gabriel appeared to him over a period of twenty-three years and inspired the revelation of the Koran. This begs the question: “Was Muhammad a liar, lunatic, prophet of God—or dupe of Satan?” As I conceded earlier in the article, the internal evidence of the Koran clearly indicates it to be a genuine work of supernatural revelation. Muhammad had neither the knowledge nor the talent to produce the Koran. So did this revelation come from God Almighty; Creator of the universe? Or did it come from Satan?

Moses performed his miracles and received his revelation directly from God (see 4:164) in an environment virtually overwhelmed by the visible supernatural power and presence of the Almighty as witnessed by literally hundreds of thousands of people over a forty-year ministry. Muhammad, on the other hand, received his revelations in private through an angelic intermediary of unverifiable identity, and presented the Koran to the people without any demonstration of divine or supernatural power (at least none recorded in the Koran). Also, as I pointed out earlier, the Koran fails to satisfy the “Correspondence Principle”; that is, it fatally conflicts with the Torah.

As for the Koran coming from Satan, it appears that Muslims have an underdeveloped and naïve view of the devil. They seem to regard him merely as a weak, annoying and mischievous jinni, thereby credulously assuming that supernatural revelation equals Divine Revelation. The Judeo/Christian Bible, however, identifies Satan as Lucifer, the greatest of God’s created angelic beings, who led a prideful rebellion against God in an attempt to seize the very throne of Heaven and establish himself as God (read my Christian Exclusivity article for further amplification).

Satan (or one of his demonic lieutenants) would have had access to the scientific and historical information presented in the Koran; could easily have posed as the angel Gabriel so as to dupe a poor, unschooled, illiterate, pagan Arab; could have concocted the excellent prose and poetry that so powerfully impressed the pagan Arabs of Muhammad’s day; and seen to the fulfillment of the short-range prophetic predictions realized during and immediately following Muhammad’s ministry. However, the Koran conspicuously lacks the major long-range ‘End Times’, ‘New Earth’ and ‘New Heaven’ prophecy contained in the Bible. That sort of thing is reserved for true prophecy from God Almighty (read my Jewish Holocaust article for further elaboration).

Now, why would Satan want to fake a revelation so as to start a religion that preaches and practices peace, justice, brotherhood and goodwill? To answer, we have to go back to the fundamental nature and character of God, and the penalty of sin as revealed in the Torah. God is absolutely and perfectly pure, holy and righteous. Because of this pure holiness, God cannot tolerate sin of any kind or degree. Therefore, the penalty of sin is DEATH. It doesn’t matter if the sin is big or small; intentional or unintentional; known or unknown. It doesn’t even matter if you commit only one tiny, unknown, unintentional sin in your entire life! The bad news of the Mosaic Code is that the penalty for sin is DEATH—without exception or moderation.

The good news of the Mosaic Code is that God will allow an acceptable substitute to pay the penalty of death in our place. Now, this is where Satan has an opportunity to deceive and mislead. Though Satan might prefer to provoke strife, wickedness and discord, he can also use peace, morality and brotherhood as long as he can convince people that the penalty of sin is NOT death, but rather good works and religious devotional observance such as the Pillars of Islam. That is, that people can achieve their own eternal salvation by their own good works and merit. If he can get people to deny the penalty of death and sell them on a do-it-yourself salvation (i.e., Islam), then the penalty of death will fall on their own heads and Satan will win them for the kingdom of hell; even if their lives are otherwise reasonably good, moral and upright. It all comes down to the truth or falsehood of the Mosaic Code as recorded in the Torah.

This brings us to the most disturbing question in this entire issue: Why would God allow Satan to pull off such a monumentally spectacular deception? Make no mistake about it, either Islam is false or else Torah-based Judaism and its bastard child Christianity are false. Either way, at least a billion people are going to rot in hell for embracing a masterfully executed lie. Is human free-will such a deeply embedded part of God’s plan for mankind that the All-mighty would permit such an awful thing to happen? Apparently so!

One more point of interest is that the Koran referred to Muhammad in Surah 7:157 as “…the gentile Prophet, described in the Torah and the Gospel.” I don’t recall reading anything in the Torah and Gospels about a non-Jew like Muhammad. Certainly not as someone to be anticipated or looked for as an additional authority figure.

As for the Islamic path to Paradise, the simple formula of belief in God and his Prophet Muhammad, performing devotional obligations, paying the zakat, and doing good deeds was repeated over and over again (14). Surah 5:9-10 says, “God has made a promise of forgiveness and the highest reward to those who believe and perform good deeds. But those who disbelieve and deny Our revelations are the people of Hell.” Surah 2:277 says, “Those who believe and do good deeds, and fulfil their devotional obligations and pay the zaket, have their reward with their Lord, and will have neither fear nor regret.” And Surah 11:114 clearly states, “…Remember that good deeds nullify the bad.” These quotes are really at the heart of Islamic salvation. Koranic Islam is very much a deeds-based religion. God is keeping score; good deeds on one side of the ledger, and bad deeds on the other side. On the day of resurrection, each person’s ledger will be balanced. Assuming that all of the other basic qualifications were met during life (i.e., the ‘Pillars of Islam’), if the person’s good outweighs the bad: Paradise. If the bad outweighs the good: Hell. It’s just that simple. No substitutionary atonement of sin, no unmerited grace, no justification by faith, no sweet moment of eternal salvation. Just a straightforward post-mortem accounting of personal performance, with a pass/fail grading system. As pointed out earlier, this flatly contradicts the Torah.

9. Oaths

Muhammad and Jesus were definitely on opposite sides of the fence in regards to swearing by God. In 5:106-7 the Koran commanded, “Detain them after the service of prayer, and if you doubt their word make them swear by God that: “We shall not take a bribe even though it be offered by a near relative, nor hide the testimony of God, for then we shall surely be sinful.” If it transpires they have concealed the truth, two of those who are immediately concerned should take their place and swear by God: “Our testimony…”” And Surah 24:6-8, “Those who accuse their wives and do not have any witnesses except themselves, should swear four times in the name of God… …the woman’s punishment can be averted if she swears four times by God as testimony…”

Jesus, on the other hand, had this to say about oaths: “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I tell you, Do not swear at all; either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (Mt 5:33-37, NIV)

10. Plurals

For a Divine Revelation that praises itself on clear understandable writing, and harps endlessly that God is “one” (so let there be no compeers or co-equals of God!), the Koran has the very annoying and confusing habit of referring to God in the plural (15). For example (one of very many possible) consider 2:34-35, “Remember, when We asked the angels to bow in homage to Adam they all bowed but Iblis [i.e., Lucifer], who disdained and turned insolent, and so became a disbeliever. And We said to Adam:…”

Or how about bouncing back and forth from singular to plural to singular in 6:98-99, “It is He who produced you from a single cell, and appointed a place of sojourning, and a place of depositing. How clear have We made Our signs for those who understand. It is He who sends down water from the skies…”

At first I thought that the ‘plurals’ might be referring to God plus the angels and/or Muhammad. But verses like 7:10-11, “We settled you on the earth, and provided means of livelihood for you in it; but little are the thanks you give. Verily We created you and gave you form and shape, and ordered the angels to bow before Adam in homage;…” occur many times in the Koran where the angels are clearly excluded from the plural, and where Muhammad would not be present (unless he is actually a compeer of God!).

To make sure that this was not just another quirk in Prof. Ali’s translation, I went back to the same bookstore where I bought my reference translation and checked this verse (and a few others) against the other three translations. Though there were slight differences in word choice between them, the curious anomaly of plurals held true across all four books. So who constitutes the plural? Prof. Ali makes no mention of this either in his introduction or in the footnotes.

11. Punishment

Islam is world famous (infamous?) for the harshness of its punishments. We all know what the penalty for theft is, don’t we? You get your hands cut off. But is this really what the Koran commanded? Let’s be fair and accurate here. Surah 5:38-39 says, “As for the thief, whether man or woman, cut his hand as punishment from God for what he had done; and God is all mighty and all wise. But those who repent after a crime and reform, shall be forgiven by God, for God is forgiving and kind.” I think assuming ‘cut’ to mean ‘amputate’ goes way too far. I agree with Prof. Ali’s footnote on page 113 that the ‘cut’ was intended to correct, not cripple.

But when it comes to whippings, the Koran once again clashes with the Jewish Torah. In Duet. 25:1-3 Moses said, “When men have a dispute, they are to take it to court and the judges will decide the case, acquitting the innocent and condemning the guilty. If the guilty man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall make him lie down and have him flogged in his presence with the number of lashes his crime deserves, but he must not give him more than forty lashes. If he is flogged more than that, your brother will be degraded in your eyes.” (NIV) While in 24:4, Muhammad said, “Those who defame chaste women and do not bring four witnesses should be punished with eighty lashes,…” So who’s correct?

12.Torah & Scriptural Corruption

Everything really boils down to this one question: Was the Torah corrupted as to the establishment of the priesthood and animal sacrifice system practiced for over a thousand years under ‘Mosaic’ Judaism? That is, did Moses—acting under the divine authority of God—actually and originally establish a system of atonement and reconciliation based on good works and religious devotional observance (i.e., the Pillars of Islam), but the Jews later perverted the prophetic message into a false “Mosaic” Code? The same type of question applies to the orthodox Christian Testament since all of its books are founded on the theo-logic of the Jewish Torah.

Suppose the answer is, “Yes! The scriptures were corrupted.” This begs the question, “Is God so weak, careless and incompetent that He cannot protect the integrity of His own divine revelatory messages?” Was Moses a Muslim prophet whose ministry was effectively destroyed and whose prophetic message was utterly twisted and perverted into the hideous grotesque of Mosaic Judaism by bloodthirsty barbaric religious opportunists? Was God unable to do anything about this disastrous state of affairs for almost fifteen hundred years of Mosaic Judaism, and another nineteen hundred years of damnable Talmudic Judaism?

Did God raise up an astounding virgin born, miracle working prophet/apostle/Messiah messenger of Islam only to have his ministry wrecked and his Message almost immediately twisted and perverted by religious charlatans? Was God impotent to prevent the spiritual damnation of nineteen hundred years worth of misguided souls pulled down into the fires of HELL by the black-hearted heresy of Apostles Creed Christianity? Was the value and integrity of a host of lesser Muslim prophets (Elijiah, Isaiah, Daniel, etc.) similarly destroyed by these perversions?

And considering Koranic history, were it not for the honesty, devotion and integrity of Muhammad’s ‘Companions’ in faithfully recording and disseminating the Koran after the death of Muhammad, it is almost certain that his ministry would have suffered the exact same fate as the failed Islamic ministries of Moses and Jesus! Is praise due to God for preserving the Koran? NO! All praise and honor is due the Companions for pulling God’s helpless butt out of the sling and preventing yet another disastrous failure—a failure that would have been compounded by the fact that Muhammad was the final Great Prophet. God would have been out of prophetic options at that point.

Such are the clear-cut implications of Islamic history and Koranic theology. What a sad and sorry commentary on the ineffectiveness and weakness of God.

Of course, the above assumes the Koran to be genuine Divine Revelation and accurate history. However, if the Torah as recorded in the Bible is true and correct, then the Koran is immediately invalidated and must be rejected. There are, however, serious and legitimate objections to the contents of the Bible raised by Islamic apologists and non-theists alike. The Koran was a series of messages supernaturally revealed to a single prophet. Thanks to the speedy work of Muhammad’s ‘Companions’ in setting the revealed word down on paper and protecting its integrity down through the centuries, the present day Koran enjoys the enviable reputation of being without significant corrupting error from the original spoken revelation.

The Judeo/Christian Bible, on the other hand (and I shall focus on the traditional Protestant Bible, though my comments apply to all versions), is a collection of sixty-six Jewish and Christian works written by at least forty different men over a period of at least fifteen hundred years. These works cover a wide range of styles, sources, objectives, purposes and intended audiences. There are works of outright Divine Revelation, official and unofficial histories, poetry, personal testimony, sage advice, analysis, admonition and instruction.

The main problem here is that early Christian Church leaders put the stamp of “inerrant, infallible Divine Revelation” on every word of the entire collection! This may have been necessary back then in order to maintain Church discipline and unity, and to put down heresies, but it places modern day Christians in a bit of a bind because the Bible really and truly does have discrepancies in its details (e.g., compare Matthew 27:3-10 and Acts 1:18-19 NIV). Now, before you burn me at the stake I have to pose this pertinent question: Do the discrepancies invalidate, or even weaken, the core doctrinal truth-claims of the Bible as relates to Mosaic Judaism and Apostles Creed Christianity? The answer is: NO!! The discrepancies are aggravating, annoying and distracting, but they are not at all fatal to the core truths of the Bible.

The difference between the Bible and the Koran is like the difference between a battleship and a munitions ship. A battleship is designed and constructed to go into the most savage combat, take the cruelest of hits—and survive! On the other hand, a munitions ship is a floating firecracker; one solid hit and it explodes in a giant fireball and sinks to the bottom. Critics could fire an editorial broadside into the Bible and blast it to pieces, but as long as a significant portion of the Mosaic Code and one of the Christian Gospels survives, then Christianity can stay afloat. But if the Koran takes even one solid theological or historical hit—in particular the glaring discrepancy between the Mosaic animal sacrifice system and the Pillars of Islam—then the Koran explodes in a giant fireball and disappears.

Personally I’m sorry that the early Church Fathers saddled all of Christianity with the absolute and inflexible claim of inerrant infallibility for the entire Bible. The great challenge of modern Christianity is not so much internal Church discipline but outreach to non-Christians—especially strong adherants of other religions such as Islam. In my opinion Christianity should drop the claim of word-for-word infallibility on the Bible except for those sections clearly dealing with the spoken words of Moses or Jesus, or obvious Divine prophetic revelation (e.g., Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Book of Revelation, etc.). This would eliminate (or at least lessen) the easy ‘cheap shots’ against the Bible and allow Christian clergy, apologists and theologians to focus on core issues where the evidence is strongest. There’s no disgrace in admitting uncertainty on nonessential details. However, we invite the world to heap refute, ridicule and abuse on our heads with the unsustainable claim of total word-for-word Divine inerrancy.

While I’m on the subject of the Torah, I want to point out another major problem for Muslims. If you take all of the purported corrections to the Torah presented in the Koran and incorporate them into the Torah, Muslims end up with a Book that is every bit as complete, correct, uncorrupted and authoritative as they claim the Koran to be. Indeed, Muslims should be just as expertly familiar with the Jewish Torah as they are the Koran!

I close this portion with a final observation. As regards the Koran, Christians really don’t have to prove that Jesus is the Son of God, or even that he died on the cross. All we have to establish is that Jesus was a good Jewish boy who wholeheartedly followed the Mosaic Code. If we can establish that, then Jesus could not have been the prophet of a significantly different theological system that would have effectively nullified and destroyed Mosaic Judaism as practiced two thousand years ago.

So Christians should not fight battles they don’t have to fight, or try to produce evidence they don’t need to produce. It’s the Muslim scholars who have to do the ‘heavy lifting’ as regards proving their points about Moses, Jesus, the Torah and the Gospel.

13. War, Threats, & Martyrdom

Here is some of what the Koran has to say about the above subjects: 2:190-4, “Fight those in the way of God who fight you, but do not be aggressive: God does not like aggressors. And fight those wheresoever you find them, and expel them from the place they had turned you out from. Oppression is worse than killing. Do not fight them by the Holy Mosque unless they fight you there. If they do, then slay them: Such is the requital for unbelievers. But if they desist, God is forgiving and kind. Fight them till sedition comes to end, and the law of God prevails. If they desist, then cease to be hostile, except against those who oppress. Fighting during the holy month if the sanctity of the holy month is violated is just retribution. So if you are oppressed, oppress those who oppress you to the same degree, and fear God, and know that God is with those who are pious and follow the right path.” 3:157,169 & 195, “If you are killed in the cause of God or you die, the forgiveness and mercy of God are better than all that you amass. … Never think that those who are killed in the way of God are dead. They are alive, getting succour from their Lord,… …And those who were deprived of their homes or banished in My cause, and who fought and were killed, I shall blot out their sins and admit them indeed into gardens with rippling streams.” 8:41,64 & 67, “Know that one-fifth of what you acquire as booty of war is for God and His Apostle [i.e., Muhammad],…O Prophet, urge the faithful to fight. …No apostle should take captives until he has battled and subdued the country.” 9:1,14,29,81 & 111, “Immunity is granted those idolators by God and his Apostle with whom you have a treaty. …Fight them so that God may punish them at your hands, and put them to shame, and help you against them, … Fight those people of the Book who do not believe in God and the Last Day, who do not prohibit what God and His Apostle have forbidden, nor accept divine law, until all of them pay protective tax in submission. …Those who were left behind rejoiced that they stayed at home against the wishes of God’s Apostle, being averse to fighting in the way of God with their wealth and lives, …God has verily bought the souls and possessions of the faithful in exchange for a promise of Paradise. They fight in the cause of God, and kill and are killed. This is a promise incumbent on Him, as in the Torah, so the Gospel and the Qur’an. And who is more true to his promise than God? So rejoice at the bargain you have made with Him; for this will be triumph supreme.” 47:4,20 & 31, “So, when you clash with the unbelievers, smite their necks until you overpower them, then hold them in bondage. Then either free them graciously or after taking a ransom, until war shall have come to end. …Those who believe say: “How is it no Surah was revealed?” But when a categorical Surah is revealed that mentions war, you should see those who are skeptical staring at you like a man in the swoon of death. …We shall try you in order to know who are the fighters among you, and who are men of fortitude, and verify your histories.” 59:2,7 & 8, “It is He who drove those among the people of the Book who refused to believe, from their homes for the first confrontation. …Whatever booty God gives to His Apostle from the people of the cities, is for God and His Apostle,…The spoils are also for the poor emigrants who were deprived of their homes and possessions…”

The verses above accurately and honestly relate some of what the Koran has to say about war. Though the Hebrew Testament Jews subdued the Promised Land at sword point, Moses and the other Jewish leaders did not make it a command to increase Judaism through military conquest. Any such increase was, for the most part, incidental rather than intentional. And the teachings of Jesus and his Apostles really don’t lend themselves to military violence or coercion. The teachings and commands of Jesus must be stretched to the breaking point to obtain support for violent conversion of non-Christians, or to justify going to war to spread the Gospel. Our armor is righteousness; our sword the word of God; our battlefield the spiritual realm of the soul.

Muslims, on the other hand, can easily justify violence and war to advance Islam. It’s built right into the Koranic scriptures. To kill or to be killed; to succeed or to fail in war; all is blessed by Allah, with the promise of Paradise for those who are faithful and persevere.

Conclusion

Although this website is dedicated to Apostles Creed Christianity, my first and foremost allegiance is to the TRUTH. I seek the truth wherever it leads and will submit to the truth even if I don’t like what it turns out to be. Personally I don’t have any particular preference when it comes to religion or philosophy. That is, I have no axe to grind or hidden agenda to sell. If the atheists are correct, that doesn’t bother me; I have no fear of oblivion. If the Muslims are correct, that doesn’t bother me either; the Pillars of Islam are fair-minded, reasonable and easy to achieve. If Christianity is correct, then I have no problem accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I might balk a little if the Aztecs happen to be right, since I don’t fancy the idea of having the living heart ripped out of my chest. But, hey, just let me know what the TRUTH is.

Having said that, if you have made it this far into the article it should come as no surprise that I am totally underwhelmed by the Koran. Though it is certainly of supernatural origin, once you boil away the poetic verbiage, plagiarism, questionable histories and repetitions, the Koran virtually disappears! But most seriously, the residual substance of the Koran fails to satisfy the “Correspondence Principle”. Where the Christian Testament at least tries to flow smoothly from the Jewish Torah and account for its precepts, the Koran totally ignores the Mosaic Code and departs from the Torah without account or explanation.

This is what I expect of the Koran if it is truly Divine Revelation. First, I expect a close glove-like fit between the Torah and the Koran. Second, I expect to be absolutely ‘blown away’ by the dazzling brilliance of God’s final, complete, uncorrupted Great Revelation. Third, I expect to find a lengty and detailed correction of the Gospel of Jesus and a full exposition of his life, Muslim ministry and ultimate fate.

Unfortunately, I am disappointed on all three counts.

Now, if Muslims could present compelling historical evidence showing that Prophet Moses actually and originally established a system of atonement of sin by good works and religious devotional observance (i.e., the Pillars of Islam) then the Koran would be completely validated and Islam would carry the day. This is exemplified in Surah 5:12 (which flatly contradicts the established Torah) that says, ‘God covenanted the people of Israel and raised twelve leaders among them, and said: “I shall verily be with you. If you fulfil your devotional obligations, pay the zakat and believe in My apostles and support them, and give a goodly loan to God, I shall certainly absolve you of your evil, and admit you to gardens with streams of running water. …”‘ Mosaic Judaism as practiced for more than a thousand years would be exposed as a false religion, and Apostles Creed Christianity would vaporize right before our very eyes.

Of course this would beg the question of why the Koran didn’t make these explicit corrections in the first place. So Islamic apologists are really caught between a rock and a hard place. If the Koran is genuine Divine Revelation then it is badly defective right from the start; which reflects poorly upon God and the final Great Prophet Muhammad. On the other hand, if Moses actually and originally DID establish the priesthood and animal sacrifice system for the blood atonement of sin then the Koran is a false revelation. It simply doesn’t matter if all of the rest of the information in the Koran is true, valid and beneficial. If it fails on this one point then it fails utterly and the whole thing must be condemned. Now, the fall of Islam would not automatically prove Christianity to be true. That’s a totally separate issue. As has been the case for the past nineteen centuries, Christianity is going to have to prove its truth claims; standing or falling on its own merits.

In the end I must conclude this article by saying that Muhammad was most likely deceived by Satan; the Koran is almost certainly a false revelation; and Islam is all too easily twisted by fanatics into a dangerous rogue religion.

Suggested Reading

The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?
F.F. Bruce
Intervarsity Press
ISBN: 0-87784-691-X

The Origin of the Bible
Philip Wesley Comfort (ed.)
Tyndale House Publishers
ISBN: 0-8423-4735-6

Postscript

In researching this revision I sent several inquiries to Islamic scholars trying to get their views on the main points of this article. Unfortunately, to date only two have responded, and these scholars seem to have an almost total lack of familiarity with the Jewish Torah. The responses clearly trivialized the Mosaic Code to such a degree that it was obvious they didn’t realize how extensive and detailed the Mosaic Code really is.

The following is a reply to questions I submitted to the “Ask the Scholar” section of Islam-Online. It is from Mufti Dr. Muhammad M. Abu Laylah, a professor at Al-Azhar University:

“In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful,

Dear Questioner, first of all, I would like to thank you very much for your interest to ask about something that you feel you need an answer for it. It is a good sign to seek other religion in quest for reality and truth.

I will answer you question very briefly as it includes many points that need to be covered, and if you want more elaboration regarding a certain point, write us back and we are always ready to answer you queries.

We will deal with this lengthy question point by point in brief. Concerning your first point on whether the Bible was available to Muhammad in the seventh century of the Christian era, we’d like to draw you attention to some facts about which no one can easily argue. 1- Muhammad was born and brought up in Makkah (Mecca) and lived there up to forty years of his age when the revelation come to him. There were no Jewish community in Makkah. 2- Makkans never allowed any other religion to penetrate their society. 3- We have no report whatsoever to tell that Muhammad used to read or learn before he received the Qur’an. There is nothing to tell that he learned Jewish or Christian Book in his birth place and bear in mind that he was unlettered. 4- He received the Qur’an verses after verses not in a complete written book. 5- The Qur’an in its order, style and above all knowledge is different from the Bible. 6- There is no evidence whatsoever to tell that neither the Torah nor the Bible in general were translated to Arabic in that time. So, to have access to these books, Muhammad should know how to speak Syriac or Hebrew, something for which we have no proof at all to say it. 7- The Torah and the Bible in general were not available to every Jew, let alone the non-Jewish people. We are here bound by the Christian tradition, i.e. the Torah was kept under the custody of the Aaronic priest and he kept it with him and he used to take it out just occasionally to read and then fold it and restore it to its place. Having stated this, how could Muhammad get access to this Torah. The Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the absolute word of Allah without any human intervention. Muhammad was just a conveyer to this word.

Thank you very much for your comment that the Qur’an is a complete and correct Book. This is absolutely true. It is true also that the Qur’an in many places and in many Surahs talked about Moses and the Torah and also about some preceding prophets and Scriptures. But you should bear in mind that the Qur’an is not a historical book and you should not take it in the same skill as the Torah and the Old Testament writings in which there are many unnecessarily details. These details mentioned in the Torah and other Books contained in the Old Testament are proved to be contradictory. If you read deeply, you will find many differences which the modern biblical scholars established that these Books are written by different hands in different times and in different places. The Qur’an is free from all this. The Qur’an refers to the most essential teachings of the previous holy Books which are in accordance with its teachings We believe that the Torah is a heavenly Book that was sent to Moses by God and contains guidance like the Qur’an but later on it was subject to corruption and alteration for reasons we talked about in such brief answer. We, Muslims, still believe in the divine origin of the Torah that is in the Jewish and Christian’s hand. We also believe that there are many parts of existing Torah that bear the divine stand but not all things stated are of divine origin.

About tabernacle and slaughtering animal and the Mosaic code of priesthood, we say briefly that Islam does not accept priesthood and the concept of tabernacle and animal sacrifice in the tabernacle sense because this presents burdens to people and are not of practical nature and if we review the Jewish history, we will find that the Jews hardly could have chance to offer animal sacrifice in the tabernacle sense. The relationship between man and Allah should be direct. Scholars of religion should not exercise any special authority over people or claim any special rank at the expense of their religion or take religion as a trademark. We, Muslims, offer animal sacrifice to Allah after Pilgrimage in the feast and in memory of Abraham and Ishmael. This sacrificial animal is distributed among the poor and needy people in the society.

About the point concerning the corrections to the Torah in the Qur’an, we’d like to state that it is Allah the Almighty Who told us about the alteration that the Torah suffered and He gave us the right thing of these Books and we should bear in mind that Islam is the true religion that was delivered by all prophets since Adam to Muhammad, apart from what we call, Judaism, Christianity, Islam. So, what is written in the Qur’an about these aspects is just to give the right form that was really delivered by Prophet Moses, or Noah or Solomon and other Prophets.

As for the sixth point, Islam honored human life and totally forbid the killing of man. What was prescribed in the time of Moses to people to kill themselves as a sign of repentance was circumstantial and as a matter of fact it was done by the people themselves not by the order of Allah or otherwise it was a kind of punishment. The command of Allah to them to kill themselves was a sort of temporary punishment as our Qur’an interpreters explained. But in the Qur’an Allah forbids this and releases the Israelites from the bondage of killing. Almighty Allah says: “He will enjoin on them that which is right and forbid them that which is wrong. He will make lawful for them all good things and prohibit for them only the foul; and he will relieve them of their burden and the fetters that they used to wear.” (Al-A’ raf: 157)

As you rightly observed, the Qur’an gives the right substitute without unnecessarily argument. You may refer here to Almighty Allah’s saying” “so turn in penitence to your Creator, and kill (the guilty) yourselves. That will be best for you with your Creator and He will relent toward you. Lo! He is the Relenting, the Merciful.” (Al-Baqarah: 54) Your observation here is right that the Qur’an gives the right substitute without taking argument or referring to Judaism because it is beyond the Qur’anic technique, if we allow ourselves to say, to give reason for everything Allah says. Allah is the legislator and revealer of the Qur’an and all other divine Books. So, sometimes the Qur’an gives a definite statement especially in matters that do not acquire anything beyond the text. Islam takes the good deeds as the best means to repent from the sin and to cover the quilt. This gives man the chance to correct himself by himself and to turn into a better behavior and to be more constructive and realistic. Offering sacrifice alone cannot make man better. That is why Islam put it this way.

I hope we covered your points to the best of our ability as time allows. If you want a detailed answer regarding a certain point, write back specifying this point and we will deal with it in detail as much as we can.

Allah Almighty knows best.”

And this from Mufti Dr. Marawan Shahin, also of Al-Azhar University, in reply to questions put to him by a Pakistani man with whom I have been in correspondence:

“All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

I would like to direct your attention to the fact that it was far better for you to mention the source from which your friend got the idea that “God told Moses that the penalty of sin is DEATH and sacrifice must be made to pay for sin.” Such concept of sacrifice is totally rejected in Islam. In no way was death penalty is a form of sacrifice. Thus authenticating such information, from your friend’s side is very important.

Having stated the above, I can’t deny that there is a reference to the fact that death is an atonement and is a form of repentance. Referring to this, Allah Almighty says, “And when Moses said unto his people: O my people! Ye have wronged yourselves by your choosing of the calf (for worship) so turn in penitence to your Creator, and kill (the guilty) yourselves. That will be best for you with your Creator and He will relent toward you. Lo! He is the Relenting, the Merciful.” (Al-Baqarah: 54)

Even if there is a direct indication in the above verse to the fact that death is a form of sacrifice and an atonement for the sin, the case can’t be generalized for all sins in all ages.

Having said so, I should conform that prayer, Zahah (Zakat), and other righteous deeds are means of gaining Allah’s Mercy, and they are not sacrifices for sin although they are forms of sacrifice that the Muslim resort to so as to gain Allah’s Mercy in the Hereafter.

Allah Almighty knows best.”

Had I known that Muslim scholars are so unfamiliar with the Jewish Torah, I would have framed my questions with greater care and detail. Since the Qur’an recognizes Moses as a validated prophet and the Torah (with corrections) as a validated revelation from Allah, Muslims in general should be every bit as expertly familiar with the Torah as they are with the Qur’an. There is simply no excuse for this level of ignorance.

I invite Muslims to respond to this article with explanations. I will post all substantial responses.

Endnotes

1. 2:285, 3:132 & 144, 4:69 & 115 & 136, 5:19, 7:157, 9:33, 18:110, 33:38-52, 38:65, 62:2.

2. 2:60 & 87, 3:84, 4:153, 6:154, 7:103-62, 11:96, 14:5, 17:101-3, 20:9-98, 23:45, 26:10-67, 27:7-10, 28:29-43, 29:39, 40:23, 43:46-8, 51:38.

3. 2:87 & 253, 5:32, 6:57, 7:73 & 203, 20:133, 27:13, 29:46-51, 30:47, 40:23, 57:25, 64:6, and Surah #98.

4. 3:65, 4:136, 5:44-7 & 66-8.

5. 4:171, 5:17 & 72-5 & 116, 6:101, 9:30-2, 10:66-9, 17:111, 18:4, 19:35 & 88-92, 22:31, 23:90-1, 25:2, 37:152 & 159, 43:57-9, 72:3-4.

6. 3:42-7 & 59, 19:20-1, 21:91.

7. 3:48-58, 5:82 & 109-120, 20:30-4, 57:27, 61:6 & 14.

8. 3:49, 5:110-5.

9. 4:116, 5:13 & 41 & 48, 15:89-91, 41:45, 42:14-5 & 52, 43:63-5.

10. 3:116, 32:13 & 20, 36:63-4, 37:62-8, 38:55-64, 43:74-7, 52:13-6, 55:41-5, 56:41-56 & 93-4, 88:1-7.

11. 3:133 & 136, 4:122, 9:21-2, 11:108, 25:15-6, 36:55-7, 37:40-9, 38:50-4, 43:70-3, 47:15, 52:17-28, 55:46-78, 61:12, 76:12-22, 88:8-16.

12. Isaiah 6:1-4 & 14:12-5 & 65:17-25, Ezekiel 1 & 28:12-5, Mark 12:24-7, 1 Corinthians 15:12-58, 1 Thessalonians 4:12-8, Book of Revelation.

13. 4:82, 16:44, 17:9, 18:1, 19:97, 25:30-3, 26:192-9, 27:75-7, 32:2, 37:117, 41:3, 43:2-3, 56:77-8.

14. 2:82-3 & 271 & 277, 3:57, 4:173, 5:9-10 & 48 & 69, 6:155, 9:18, 11:114, 24:56, 31:3-5, 45:28, 47:2, 48:5, 74:42-7.

15. 2:34-5, 6:6-9 & 91-4 & 98-9 & 105-6 & 111-4 & 122-4, 7:10-1 & 57-8, 10:21, 11:36-40 & 69, 15:8-10 & 23-9, 16:54-5, 17:1-6 & 61 & 92, 18:28 & 48-53 & 100-1, 20:116, 21:108, 22:44-5 & 48, 23:115-6, 32:13.

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