Surat Ar-Rum Revisited

Sam Shamoun

Previously, I had written an article documenting Muhammad's false prophecies.

One of the failed prophecies which I highlighted was taken from S. 30:1-4. Here is the alleged prophecy in question:

"The Roman Empire has been defeated - in a land close by: But they, (even) after (this) defeat of theirs, will soon be victorious - within a few years."

I have already noted why this prophecy is unimpressive and actually failed to transpire within the time frame stipulated by the Quran. For more details please consult the earlier article.

Here, I would like to examine the prophecy from a different angle. This prophecy is a great example of how incoherent, incomplete and unintelligible the Quran truly is. The prophecy states that the Romans have been defeated in a land close by. Yet, we are not told who defeated them, when were they defeated, and where were they defeated. Is the phrase a "land close by" directed towards the Muslims or the Romans? If one claims that it refers to the Muslims then this still leaves us with the problem of identifying the precise location of the land. A land close to the Muslims can be a reference to Medina (provided that this was "revealed" during the time the Muslims were still in Mecca), Mecca, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, Jerusalem, Persia etc. If it is referring to the Romans themselves, then the land close by can refer to a land near either Turkey (Constantinople) or Rome. How does anyone know for certain?

Second, who defeated the Romans and how does one know for certain? Third, when was this "prophecy" given? Is it Pre-Hijrah or post-Hijrah? Since the prophecy states that the Romans would be victorious within a few years, knowing the precise date of this alleged prophecy is an essential and integral part of verifying whether it came to pass or not.

The Quran fails to answer any of these questions. One must look for the answers elsewhere, to secondary sources which were compiled some 1-200 years after the death of Muhammad. This means that the Quran is not a complete record and to accurately understand it one needs to consult highly questionable sources; materials which were not written during the time these events allegedly took place. Other examples which prove that the Quran makes no sense or is an incomplete record include the following:

1. The Quran is unaware of the fact that Abraham had more than one wife since the Quran makes reference to Abraham's wife, not wives. This wife is clearly Sarah:

And verily, there came Our Messengers to Abraham with glad tidings. They said: Peace! He answered, Peace! and he hastened to entertain them with a roasted calf. But when he saw their hands went not towards it (the meal), he felt some mistrust of them, and conceived a fear of them. They said: ‘Fear not, we have been sent against the people of Lot.’ And HIS WIFE was standing (there), and she laughed. But We gave her glad tidings of Isaac, and after him, of Jacob. They said: ‘Do you wonder at the Decree of All‚h? The Mercy of All‚h and His Blessings be on you, O the family [of Abraham]. Surely, He is All-Praiseworthy, All-Glorious.’" S. 11:69-73

"Has the story reached thee, of the honored guests of Abraham? Behold, they entered his presence, and said: ‘Peace!’ He said, ‘Peace!’ (and thought, ‘These seem) unknown people.’ Then he turned quickly to his household, brought out a fatted calf, And placed it before them. He said, ‘Will ye not eat?’ (When they did not eat), He conceived a fear of them. They said, ‘Fear not,’ and they gave him glad tidings of a son endowed with knowledge. But HIS WIFE came forward clamoring: she smote her forehead and said: ‘A barren old woman!’ They said, ‘Even so has thy Lord spoken: and He is full of Wisdom and Knowledge.’" S. 51:24-30

This gives the mistaken impression that both Isaac and Ishmael come from the same mother. It is only by consulting either the Holy Bible or the much later Muslim traditions that one discovers that Ishmael's mother is Hagar.

2. Who or what is Abu-Lahab? We are told in Surah 111:1-5:

"Perish the hands of the Father of Flame! Perish he! No profit to him from all his wealth, and all his gains! Burnt soon will he be in a Fire of Blazing Flame! His wife shall carry the (crackling) wood - as fuel!- A twisted rope of palm-leaf fiber round her (own) neck!" S. 111

Who is the Father of Flame? What is this all about? Who is his wife and why are they being cursed?

3. Who frowned at whom and why?

He frowned and turned away Because the blind man came unto him. What could inform thee but that he might grow (in grace) Or take heed and so the reminder might avail him? As for him who thinketh himself independent, Unto him thou payest regard. Yet it is not thy concern if he grow not (in grace). But as for him who cometh unto thee with earnest purpose And hath fear, From him thou art distracted. S. 80:1-10

Who frowned? And why would he - whoever it was - frown at a blind man? Who was this blind man? Why would he be considered impure (being in need to grow in purity)? Who was the person who regarded himself as self-sufficient?

4. Who were those who brought a lie from amongst the Muslims?

"Those who brought forward the lie are a body among yourselves: think it not to be an evil to you; on the contrary it is good for you: to every man among them (will come the punishment) of the sin that he earned, and to him who took on himself the lead among them, will be a chastisement grievous. Why did not the believers - men and women - when ye heard of the affair,- though well of their people and say, 'This (charge) is an obvious lie'? Why did they not bring four witnesses to prove it? When they have not brought the witnesses, such men, in the sight of Allah, (stand forth) themselves as liars! Were it not for the grace and mercy of Allah on you, in this world and the Hereafter, a grievous chastisement would have seized you in that ye rushed glibly into this affair. Behold, ye received it on your tongues, and said out of your mouths things of which ye had no knowledge; and ye thought it to be a light matter, while it was most serious in the sight of Allah. And why did ye not, when ye heard it, say? - 'It is not right of us to speak of this: Glory to Thee (our Lord), this is a most serious slander!' Allah doth admonish you, that ye may never repeat such (conduct), if ye are (true) Believers. And Allah makes the Signs plain to you: for Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom. Those who love (to see) scandal circulate among the Believers, will have a grievous chastisement in this life and in the Hereafter: Allah knows, and ye know not. Were it not for the grace and mercy of Allah on you, and that Allah is full of kindness and mercy, (ye would be ruined indeed). O ye who believe! Follow not Satan's footsteps: if any will follow the footsteps of Satan, he will (but) command what is indecent and wrong: and were it not for the grace and mercy of Allah on you, not one of you would ever have been pure: but Allah doth purify whom He pleases: and Allah is One Who hears and knows (all things). Let not those among you who are endued with grace and amplitude of means resolve by oath against helping their kinsmen, those in want, and those who have left their homes in Allah's cause: let them forgive and overlook, do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? For Allah is Oft- Forgiving, Most Merciful. Those who slander chaste, indiscreet, and believing women, are cursed in this life and in the Hereafter: for them is a grievous chastisement,- On the Day when their tongues, their hands, and their feet will bear witness against them as to their actions. On that Day Allah will pay them back (all) their just dues, and they will realize that Allah is the (very) Truth, that makes all things manifest. Women impure are for men impure, and men impure for women impure and women of purity are for men of purity, and men of purity are for women of purity: these are innocent of all what people say: for them there is forgiveness, and a provision honorable." S. 24:12-26

Can anyone explain this section without consulting the Sira or Hadith?

5. Why were these Surahs revealed?

"Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of the Dawn, From the mischief of created things; From the mischief of Darkness as it overspreads; From the mischief of those who blow on knots; And from the mischief of the envious one as he practices envy." S. 113:1-5

"Say: I seek refuge with the Lord and Cherisher of Mankind, The King (or Ruler) of Mankind, The God (or Judge) of Mankind,- From the mischief of the Whisperer (of Evil), who withdraws (after his whisper),- Who whispers into the hearts of Mankind,- Among Jinns and among Men. S. 114:1-6

Who is the Whisperer? Who are those that blow on knots?

6. Can anyone tell us what this is all about?:

"And verily We tried Solomon, and set upon his throne A (mere) BODY. Then did he repent. He said: My Lord! Forgive me and bestow on me sovereignty such as shall not belong to any after me. Lo! Thou art the Bestower." S. 38:34-35 Pickthall

What body is this referring to, and why did Solomon repent? Was his repentance a result of this body being propped on his throne? If so, what was so sinful about this body that made Solomon repent? Can any Muslim tell us without turning to the hadiths or Muslim expositors?

In fact, appealing to Muslim expositors may leave more problems than solutions. The following comments of the translators of Tafsir Ibn Kathir demonstrate this clearly as they seek to explain the meaning of S. 38:34 and body (jasad):

Allah does not explain exactly what this Jasad was which He placed on his throne. We believe that Allah tested him by placing this Jasad on his throne, even though we do not know what it was. Everything that has been said concerning it has been taken from the Isra'iliyat, and we do not know what is true. (Since the word means "corporeal" interpretations centered around some form of Jinn.) Allah knows best. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged), Volume 8 (Surat Al-Ahzab, Verse 51 to the end of Surat Ad-Dukhan), Abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, London, Lahore; first edition, September 2000], p. 331, f. 1; underline emphasis ours)

Further discussion of this story is found in this article.

7. Finally, can a Muslim show from the Quran alone how old was Muhammad when he became God's "prophet"? Can they show from the Quran alone how long did his prophetic career last or how many surahs were revealed to him?

These are just some of the many examples that expose the chaotic structure, incompleteness and unintelligibility of the Quran.

Further articles on the Incompleteness and Incoherence of the Qur'an.

Articles by Sam Shamoun
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