Historical Errors of the Qur'an
Historical errors are so many in the Qur'an that we cannot cover them all, but we will be content to point out some very obvious examples:
The Crucifixion of Christ
The Qur'an explicitly denies that Jesus was crucified. It claims that the Jews became so confused that they crucified somebody else instead who had the likeness of Christ. It is recorded in the Qur'an 4:15,
"They slew him not nor crucified but it appeared so unto them."
In his commentary on this verse al-Baydawi said (p. 135),
"A group of Jews cursed Christ and his mother. He invoked evil on them and, may He be exalted, turned them into monkeys and swine. The Jews gathered together to kill him, but God, may He be exalted, informed him (Jesus) that He was going to lift him up to heaven. Thus, (Jesus) said to his companions, `Who would like to have my likeness cast on him and be killed and crucified, then enter the paradise?' One of them volunteered (to do so) and God cast on him Christ's likeness. He was then arrested, crucified and killed. It is also said that (the crucified one) was a traitor who went with the mob to guide them to Christ (he meant Judas), thus God cast on him the likeness of Jesus and he was arrested, crucified and killed."
Al- Baydawi is not the only one who records these mystical stories, but all Muslim scholars who attempt to interpret the above verse, plainly state that Jesus was not crucified. The Qur'an has ignored not only the records of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and the rest of the New Testament, but also all the other chroniclers. It ignores the history of the Roman Empire which documented that a Jewish man by the name of Jesus was crucified during the time of Pilate the Pontius, the Roman Governor who gave way to the demands of the chief priests of the Jews.
It is well known that Christ's trial took place in front of the chief priests and the Roman Governor. It is also common knowledge that the arrested man did not remonstrate and say, "I am not Christ, I am Judas who wanted to betray Him and give Him away to you." All Jesus' words on the cross denote that He was Christ, especially His statement, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23:34).
Jesus Himself told His disciples that He must be delivered to the chief priests and be crucified, then He would rise from the dead on the third day. Christ Himself foretold that and the crucifixion was fulfilled according to the many prophecies recorded in the Old Testament which predicted His crucifixion centuries before. Christ came to accomplish God's plan for man's salvation.
Therefore, it is not reasonable that six hundred years after Christ's crucifixion, a man should appear and declare to the world (ignoring all the historical evidence) that the one who was crucified was not Christ. This is similar to a man who comes hundreds of years from now to tell us that the one who was assassinated in the twentieth century was not Martin Luther King (or John F. Kennedy or Zia al-Haqq) but rather someone else who looked like him. Of course, nobody would believe him, even if he claimed that the angel Gabriel (or the thunder angel) revealed it to him.
The Virgin Mary
In many places, the Qur'an mentions Mary as the sister of Moses and Aaron and the daughter of Imran. The Qur'an has confused Jesus' mother with Aaron's sister because both of them carry the same name, though there are several centuries between them. The Qur'an indicates that Mary (Christ's mother) had a brother whose name was Aaron (chapter 19:28) and a father whose name is Imran (chapter 66:12). Their mother was called "the wife of Imran" (chapter 3:35) which eliminates any doubt that it confuses Mary, mother of Jesus, with Mary, sister of Aaron.
Muslim scholars acknowledge what happened and they are confused and fail in their desperate attempts to justify this grave error. Their contradictory interpretations fail to help them to find a solution to this dilemma. Let us examine these interpretations to see these conflicting views.
In the context of his comment on the Qur'anic statement that Mary is Aaron's sister (which is recorded in chapter 19:28), al-Baydawi (p. 405) said,
"Oh, sister of Aaron (the prophet). And she was an offspring of some of those who were with him who belonged to the same class of brotherhood. It was also said that she was one of Aaron's descendants though there were a thousand years between them. It was said too, that he (Aaron) was a righteous or a wicked man who lived during their time (time of Mary). They likened her to him to ridicule her or to insult her."
Yet Baydawi's statement is repealed by the Qur'an because the Qur'an did not refer to a moral relationship but stressed the literal meaning. If the Qur'an had meant to elevate Mary to the same level of Aaron, the prophet, or to the status of a daughter of Imran, why then did it mention that her mother was the wife of Imran as it is recorded in chapter 3:35? It is very obvious that the matter was either confused in the mind of Muhammad or of Gabriel, the angel! It is not acceptable that the Qur'an intended to say that Mary enjoys the same status as a sister of Aaron and a daughter of Imran. Therefore it is impossible to treat Mary (the mother of Jesus) as if she were the sister of Aaron and Moses.
The contemporary scholar who translated the Qur'an which was authorized by the Saudi authorities said (in the introduction of page 47 of chapter of the Family of Imran),
"Al Imran takes its title from v. 32, where `the family of Imran' (the father of Moses) occurs as a generic name for all the Hebrew prophets from Moses to John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. This with the mention of the mother of Mary as `the wife of Imran' (v. 34) and the words `sister of Aaron' addressed to Mary (XIX.28) have given rise to a charge of anachronism. Some say that the prophet confused Mary, the mother of Jesus, with Mary, the sister of Moses. Most Muslims believe (on the authority of the Qur'an) that the grandfather of Jesus Christ was named `Imran' which may also have been the name of the father of Moses. In Surah XIX 28 where Mary is addressed as `sister of Aaron', they hold the ancestral sense to be the more probable, while denying that there is any reason to suppose that the virgin Mary had not a brother named Aaron."
Thus, they fail to explain to us why the Qur'an said that the mother of Mary was the wife of Imran, especially if the Qur'an intended (as they say) to show the moral relationship only. It is an obvious historical mistake, my dear reader, because Mary had no brother named Aaron.
Alexander the Great
It is amazing to see the Qur'an talking about Alexander the Great as if he were a righteous man and a teacher, though it is well-known that the Greek, Alexander, was idolatrous and claimed to be the son of Amun, the God of Egypt. If the reader wonders where it is recorded in the Qur'an that Alexander was a righteous man, we would refer him to the chapter of the Cave 18:83-98 where we encounter sixteen verses which talk about this military general. These verses explicitly say that God assisted him, guided him and removed all obstacles from his way in order that he could accomplish his plans and fulfill his desires. They indicate that Alexander was the one who reached the place of the sunset and found it set down in a well of water and mud. They claim that he encountered some people and God gave him the option to torment them, to kill them or to take them captive, call them to the faith and to lead them in a straight path.
These comments are expressed by all the scholars without any exception (refer to Baydawi, p. 399, al-Jalalan, p. 251, al-Tabari, p. 339, al-Zamakhshari, part 2 of al-Kash-shaf, p. 743). If we do not refer to these great expounders of the Qur'an to whom, then, shall we refer? The Greek Alexander was not a righteous servant of God as the Qur'an said, but he was a licentious, belligerent, idolatrous man. He did not have any relationship with God and God never asked him to guide people and to teach them the faith.
Other Historical Errors
Does the reader believe that Abraham did not offer Isaac, but Ishmael, as a sacrifice? This is what all Muslim scholars say. Do you know that the Qur'an claims that Haman was pharaoh's prime minister even though Haman lived in Babylon one thousand years later? Yet the Qur'an says so. The Qur'an says that the one who picked Moses from the river was not his sister but his mother (28:6-8), and that a Samaritan was the one who molded the golden calf for the children of Israel and misguided them, and the golden calf was lowing (refer to chapter 20:85-88) though it is well-known that Samaria was not in existence at that time. The Samaritans came after the Babylonian exile. How could one of them have made the golden calf for the people of Israel?
Concerning the birth of Christ, the Qur'an teaches that the Virgin Mary gave birth to him under the shade of a palm tree and not in a manger of sheep (refer to Mary 19:23). The Qur'an ignores all the documented historical evidence available to all people across the ages and brings us new discoveries!
The Qur'an claims (Chapter 2:125-127) that Abraham and Ishmael, his son, are the ones who built The Ka'ba in Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The late Dr. Taha Husayn (the most famous professor of Arabic literature in Egypt) acknowledges that the information recorded in the Qur'an pertaining to the construction of Ka'ba at the hand of Abraham and Ishmael is not historically documented. He said:
"The case of this episode is very obvious because it is of recent date and came into vogue just before the rise of Islam. Islam exploited it for religious reasons" (quoted in Mizan al-Islam by Anwar al-Jundi, p. 170).
This declaration invoked the rage of the Muslim scholars against him. The former president of Tunisia did the same thing when he stated that the Qur'an contains mythical stories. Muslim scholars revolted against him and threatened to kill him because these are Muhammad's orders - kill anybody who insults the Qur'an. So what could Taha Husayn or Abu Ruqayba [better known in the West as Bourgiba] (or we) do if the Qur'an rejects the most scientifically documented historical stories? Are we supposed to shut up our mouth and close our minds lest we be killed?