By Sam Shamoun
The Quran depicts itself as a perspicuous book which fully details or explains all of its verses so that people might understand its message:
Shall I seek other than Allah for judge, when He it is Who hath revealed unto you (this) Scripture, fully explained? Those unto whom We gave the Scripture (aforetime) know that it is revealed from thy Lord in truth. So be not thou (O Muhammad) of the waverers. S. 6:114 Pickthall
One day We shall raise from all Peoples a witness against them, from amongst themselves: and We shall bring thee as a witness against these (thy people): and We have sent down to thee the Book EXPLAINING ALL THINGS, a Guide, a Mercy, and Glad Tidings to Muslims. S. 16:89 A. Yusuf Ali
A Book whereof the Verses are explained IN DETAIL; A Qur'an in Arabic for people who know. S. 41:3 Hilali-Khan
It even denies that it contains any error and discrepancy:
Do they not then consider the Qur'an carefully? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much contradictions. S. 4:82 Hilali-Khan
Such is not the case, however, since the Muslim scripture is anything but clear in its meaning and is far from being free of any contradiction whatsoever.
Take, for instance, its repeated assertion that the only religion acceptable to Allah is that of Islam:
Verily, (the true) religion in God's sight is Islam (AL-Islamu), and those to whom the Book was given disagreed not until after that there was given to them knowledge, through mutual envy. But whoso disbelieves in God's signs, truly God is quick at reckoning up. S. 3:19 Palmer
Whosoever craves other than Islam (AL-Islami) for a religion, it shall surely not be accepted from him, and he shall, in the next world, be of those who lose.' S. 3:85 Palmer
The definite article here, i.e., AL-Islam (lit. “THE Islam”), proves that these texts do not refer to some kind of general submission or surrender to God’s will. Rather, these verses clearly have in mind a specific kind or manner of submission, namely, that which comes from accepting the religion that Muhammad preached.(1)
This brings us to our next point. The Quran asserts that a person must love and obey Muhammad more than anything else, since Allah does not love or forgive anyone who does not accept Muhammad as a prophet and messenger:
Say, (O Muhammad, to mankind): If ye love Allah, follow me; Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Say: Obey Allah and the messenger. But if they turn away, lo! Allah loveth not the disbelievers (in His guidance). S. 3:31-32 Pickthall
O ye who believe! Choose not your fathers nor your brethren for friends if they take pleasure in disbelief rather than faith. Whoso of you taketh them for friends, such are wrong-doers. Say: If your fathers, and your sons, and your brethren, and your wives, and your tribe, and the wealth ye have acquired, and merchandise for which ye fear that there will no sale, and dwellings ye desire are dearer to you than Allah and His messenger and striving in His way: then wait till Allah bringeth His command to pass. Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk. S. 9:23-24 Pickthall
This explains why the Muslim “holy” book defines Islam as the complete and total submission to Muhammad’s desires and commands:
We sent no messenger save that he should be obeyed by Allah's leave. And if, when they had wronged themselves, they had but come unto thee and asked forgiveness of Allah, and asked forgiveness of the messenger, they would have found Allah Forgiving, Merciful. But nay, by thy Lord, they will not believe (in truth) until they make thee judge of what is in dispute between them and find within themselves no dislike of that which thou decidest, and submit with full submission. S. 4:64-65 Pickthall
It is not for a believing man or for a believing woman, when God AND HIS APOSTLE have decided an affair, to have the choice in that affair; and whoso rebels against God AND HIS APOSTLE has erred with an obvious error. S. 33:36 Palmer
The Quran further prohibits “believers” from marrying anyone who associates a partner or ascribes divinity to someone other than the Muslim god,
AND DO NOT marry women who ascribe divinity to aught beside God (al-mushrikati) ere they attain to [true] belief: for any believing bondwoman [of God] is certainly better than a woman who ascribes divinity to aught beside God (mushrikatin), even though she please you greatly. And do not give your women in marriage to men who ascribe divinity to aught beside God (al-mushrikeena) ere they attain to [true] belief: for any believing bondman [of God] is certainly better than a man who ascribes divinity to aught beside God (mushrikin), even though he please you greatly. [Such as] these invite unto the fire, whereas God invites unto paradise, and unto [the achievement of] forgiveness by His leave; and He makes clear His messages unto mankind, so that they might bear them in mind. S. 2:221 (The Message of The Quran, translated and explained by Muhammad Asad, Dar Al-Andalus Gibraltar, 1980) – cf. Q. 60:10
Since those that do so are guilty of committing the unforgivable sin of shirk:
Verily, God forgives not associating aught with Him (an yushraka bihi), but He pardons anything short of that, to whomsoever He will; but whoso associates aught with God (waman yushrik bi’Allahi), he hath erred a wide error. S. 4:116 Palmer – cf. v. 48; 2:22; 39:65
This is a sin that the Islamic scripture accuses Jews and Christians of committing for believing in such doctrines as the Deity of Christ,
They misbelieve who say, 'Verily, God is the Messiah the son of Mary;' but the Messiah said, 'O children of Israel! worship God, my Lord and your Lord;' verily, he who associates aught with God (innahu man yushrik bi’Allahi), God hath forbidden him Paradise, and his resort is the Fire, and the unjust shall have none to help them. They misbelieve who say, 'Verily, God is the third of three;' for there is no God but one, and if they do not desist from what they say, there shall touch those who misbelieve amongst them grievous woe. Will they not turn again towards God and ask pardon of Him? for God is forgiving and merciful. The Messiah the son of Mary is only a prophet: prophets before him have passed away; and his mother was a confessor; they used both to eat food. - See how we explain to them the signs, yet see how they turn aside! S. 5:72-75 Palmer
As well as for taking him and others as the Son of God and/or the Lord who is to be obeyed and served in the place of Allah:
And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah. That is their saying with their mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieved of old. Allah (Himself) fighteth against them. How perverse are they! They have taken as lords beside Allah their rabbis and their monks and the Messiah son of Mary, when they were bidden to worship only One God. There is no God save Him. Be He Glorified from all that they ascribe as partner (yushrikoona) (unto Him)! S. 9:30-31 Pickthall
This explains why the son of the second caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab, used Q. 2:221 to dissuade people from marrying Christian women, since he could see that according to the teachings of his own scripture Christians are the worst of idolaters for believing and worshiping Jesus as their risen Lord:
XVI. The words of Allah Almighty, "Do not marry idolatrous women until they believe. A believing slavegirl is better for you than an idolatress, even though she attract you." (2:221)
4981. It is related from Nafi' that when Ibn 'Umar was asked about marrying a Christian or Jewish woman, he said, "Allah has made idolatresses unlawful for the believers. I do not know of a more terrible shirk than that a woman say, ‘My Lord is ‘Isa,’ when he is one of the slaves of Allah." (Aisha Bewley, The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, Chapter 71. Book of Divorce: http://bewley.virtualave.net/bukhari36.html)
The foregoing makes it abundantly obvious that Judaism and Christianity are religions, which Muhammad deemed to be false, and therefore unacceptable to his deity. As such, a person cannot be/become a Jew (in the religious sense) or a Christian since, according to the Quran, this is a sure way of ending up in hell forever.
Yet herein lies the problem!
In other passages, the Quran assures Jews and Christians that they have absolutely nothing to fear on the Day of Judgment, so long as they believe in God and do what is right:
Verily, whether it be of those who believe, or those who are Jews or Christians or Sabaeans, whosoever believe in God and the last day and act aright, they have their reward at their Lords hand, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve. S. 2:62 Palmer
Verily, those who believe and those who are Jews, and the Sabaeans, and the Christians, whosoever believes in God and the last day, and does what is right, there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve. S. 5:69 Palmer
The Quran also permits Muslims to eat the food of Jews and Christians, and even goes as far as to allow Muslim men to marry Jewish and Christian women!
This day are (all) good things made lawful for you. The food of those who have received the Scripture is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them. And so are the virtuous women of the believers and the virtuous women of those who received the Scripture before you (lawful for you) when ye give them their marriage portions and live with them in honour, not in fornication, nor taking them as secret concubines. Whoso denieth the faith, his work is vain and he will be among the losers in the Hereafter. S. 5:5 Pickthall
We thus have an express denial from the Quran itself that Islam is the only religion acceptable to Allah, since the Muslim deity clearly recognizes other religions such as Judaism, Christian and even Sabaenism, faiths which the Muslim scripture argues ascribe partners with the one true God, thereby committing the unpardonable crime of shirk!
The Quran’s gross contradictions at this point couldn’t be any more glaring or obvious.
What About Abrogation?
Muslims who are aware of these glaring Quranic blunders appeal to the Islamic concept of abrogation to explain them away (cf. Q. 2:106; 13:39; 16:101). They argue that the texts which say that Jews and Christians have nothing to fear, provided they do what is righteous, have been made null and void by those verses which plainly state that the only religion acceptable to God is that of Islam.
There are at least a couple of problems with this explanation. First, it still leaves Muslims with the contradiction of the Quran allowing men to marry Jewish and Christian women, even though it classifies Jews and Christians as unbelievers who ascribe partners with God.
Second, and even worse, is that abrogation is nothing more than an implicit admission that certain passages do in fact contradict one another. This is something that even Muslim scholars themselves acknowledge, such as the late Muhammad Asad.
Asad asserted that Muslims might have come up with the doctrine of abrogation because of their inability to satisfactorily harmonize the Quran’s blatant contradictions:
“… The principle laid down in this passage – relating to the supersession of the Biblical dispensation by that of the Qur’an – has given rise to an erroneous interpretation by many Muslim theologians. The word ayah ('message') occurring in this context is also used to denote a ‘verse’ of the Qur’an (because every one of these verses contains a message). Taking this restricted meaning of the term ayah, some scholars conclude from the above passage that certain verses of the Qur’an have been ‘abrogated’ by God’s command before the revelation of the Qur’an was completed. Apart from the fancifulness of this assertion – WHICH CALLS TO MIND THE IMAGE OF A HUMAN AUTHOR CORRECTING, ON SECOND THOUGHT, THE PROOFS OF HIS MANUSCRIPT, deleting one passage and replacing it with another – there does not exist a single reliable Tradition to the effect that the Prophet ever declared a verse of the Qur’an to have been ‘abrogated’. At the root of the so-called ‘doctrine of abrogation’ MAY LIE THE INABILITY OF SOME EARLY COMMENTATORS TO RECONCILE ONE QUR'ANIC PASSAGE WITH ANOTHER; a difficulty which was overcome by declaring that one of the verses in question had been ‘abrogated’. This arbitrary procedure explains also why there is no unanimity whatsoever among the upholders of the ‘doctrine of abrogation’ as to which, and how many, Qur’an-verses have been affected by it; and furthermore, as to whether this alleged abrogation implies a total elimination of the verse from the context of the Qur’an, or only a cancellation of the specific ordinance or statement contained in it. In short, the ‘doctrine of abrogation’ has no basis in historical fact, and must be rejected…” (Message of the Qur’an [Dar Al-Andalus Limited 3 Library Ramp, Gibraltar rpt. 1993], pp. 22-23, n. 87; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Asad correctly points out that abrogation is an indication of human imperfections and weakness.
Asad isn’t alone here, since another Sunni scholar who accepts the doctrine of abrogation candidly admits that one of the reasons for classifying specific texts as nasikh or mansukh, e.g., verses that either abrogate or have been abrogated, is because they happen to contradict one another and are incapable of being harmonized!
There are a number of conditions that the scholars of usool al-fiqh and 'uloom al-Qur'aan have laid down in order to substantiate any claim of naskh. One of the reasons for this is that naskh is called only as a last-resort, since the very concept of naskh implies discarding a ruling for another. As long as both rulings can be applied, naskh is not resorted to.
The more important conditions are as follows:
1) The most important condition for naskh to have occurred is that the two rulings in question must directly contradict each other, such that both rulings cannot be applied at the same time, and there exists no way to reconcile them. This is because, as just mentioned, naskh is only called as a last-resort, when there exists no other way to explain the two rulings. Therefore, if one of the rulings can apply to a specific case, and the other ruling to a different case, this cannot be considered an example of naskh. (Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi, An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur'aan, Chapter 13. Abrogation in the Qur’aan: An-Naskh Wa Al-Mansookh, III. The Conditions for Naskh, pp. 236-237; bold and underline emphasis ours)
The late Maulana Muhammad Ali of the Ahmadiyya sect also rejected abrogation precisely for the same reason that Asad did. Like Asad, Ali acknowledged that Muslims developed this concept because they were confronted with texts that conflicted with one another, and which they were unable to harmonize:
The principle on which the theory of abrogation is based is unacceptable, being contrary to the clear teachings of the Qur'an. A verse is considered to be abrogated when the two cannot be reconciled with each other; in other words, when they appear to contradict each other. But the Qur'an destroys this foundation when it declares that no part of it is at variance with another: "Will they not then meditate on the Qur'an? And if it were from any other than Allah, they would have found in it many a discrepancy" (4:82). It was due to lack of meditation that one verse was thought to be at variance with another; and hence it is that in almost all cases where abrogation has been upheld by one person, there has been another who, being able to reconcile the two, has repudiated the alleged abrogation. (Ali, The Religion of Islam [The Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at Islam (Lahore) U.S.A., Eighth Edition 2005], p. 32; bold and italic emphasis ours)
The foregoing comments from some of the greatest modern scholars of Islam demonstrate that Muslims appeal to abrogation primarily because they are unable to reconcile the errors within the Quran. Abrogation therefore becomes the convenient means of explaining away such discrepancies.
(1) Besides, no Jew or Christian would have a problem with the notion of having to submit to the will of God, since this is something which the God-breathed Scriptures exhort all believers to do:
“Therefore submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:7-8 Modern English Version (MEV)
“Then His mother and His brothers came, and standing outside, they sent to Him, calling Him. The crowd sat around Him and said to Him, ‘Your mother and Your brothers are outside asking for You.’ He answered, ‘Who are My mother and My brothers?’ Then He looked around at those who sat around Him and said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother, and My sister, and My mother.’” Mark 3:13-35
Their problem would be with the type of surrendering that entails believing in and obeying Muhammad as God’s final prophet and messenger to mankind.
According to God’s Word, the Holy Bible, God’s will is for everyone to look to and obey his beloved Son, the Lord Jesus, since he is the One who gives everlasting life to all true believers and who shall resurrect them physically at the last day:
“After six days Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain, alone by themselves. And He was transfigured before them. His garments became shiny, extremely white as snow, such as no launderer on earth could whiten them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses. And they were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us make three sanctuaries: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ For he did not know what to say, because they were very afraid. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son. LISTEN TO HIM.’” Mark 9:2-7
“Do not work for the food which perishes, but for that food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For God the Father has set His seal on Him.’ Then they asked Him, ‘What shall we do that we may work the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.’… Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me shall never hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst. But I told you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. All whom the Father gives Me will come to Me, and he who comes to Me I will never cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who has sent Me, that of all whom He has given Me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:27-29, 35-40
Muhammad denied all of this and therefore stands condemned as a false prophet.