Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Islam and Truth

By Dallas M. Roark, Ph.D.

The more I learn of Islam I have been led to conclude the following: Islam accepts fictions as fact and rejects facts as fiction.

This proposition can be seen in the following examples.

1. Mohammed was confused about the request for water in the book of Exodus. The Qur’an says, "And when Moses asked for water for his people, We said: Smite with thy staff the rock. And there gushed out therefrom twelve springs (so that) each tribe knew their drinking-place. Eat and drink of that which Allah hath provided, and do not act corruptly, making mischief in the earth." (2:60)

The Bible says, "And they came to Elim, where were twelve springs of water, and threescore and ten palm-trees: and they encamped there by the waters." (Exodus 15:27)

There is nothing about striking a rock here.

The event about the rock is described, "Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel." (Exodus 17:6)

There is nothing in the passage about twelve springs and each tribe having their own drinking place.

This could be a normal human error, or incorrect information in normal situations, but it is incomprehensible in a document that is supposed to be a direct revelation of Allah. It would force one to reason that maybe Allah forgot, Allah did not know anymore, Allah is not rational, etc. It also makes Mohammed untrustworthy, does it not?

2. Allah is claimed to have made Jews into pigs.

"And ye know of those of you who broke the Sabbath, how We said unto them: Be ye apes, despised and hated!" (2:65)

What kind of evidence is given for this? None! There is nothing like this in the Bible which gives an accurate picture of the disobedience as well as obedience of the Jewish people in ancient times. Yahweh did judge the sins of the people in a way that they would know and remember that judgement as expressed in Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and others. God made man in his image and even in judgement they were still humans, not pigs. The vendetta against the Jews by Mohammed and later Muslims was born of hatred rather than a revelation from Yahweh. It is possible to think of Allah lying, but not Yahweh.

3. One cannot be sure about what Allah has said since he can change his mind capriciously whenever the occasion demands it. Allah is not reliable in his word.

"Nothing of our revelation (even a single verse) do we abrogate or cause be forgotten, but we bring (in place) one better or the like thereof. Knowest thou not that Allah is able to do all things?" (2:106)

This raises some interesting questions. First, if the first word of Allah can be changed how do we know that the second word won’t be changed? One might say that Mohammed was the last prophet and no other changes are forthcoming. However, that is not a sure thing if this verse is accepted. Allah can change his mind and give a better prophet than Mohammed. In spite of the fact that Muslims regard him as the perfect man, his many wars, wives, and hatreds of unbelievers could be surpassed by another prophet who did not succumb to these sins. Allah can still change his mind. Second, if Allah is all-knowing why did he not get it right in the first place? Third, this verse allows for self-serving commands that only the prophet could use and disabuse. The episode with Zayd bin Haritha’s wife would be such an example of the abuse and even Aisha believed it then.

4. The Qur’an claims that Abraham and Ishmael prayed at Mecca at the Kabah.

"And when We made the House (at Makka) a resort for mankind and sanctuary, (saying): Take as your place of worship the place where Abraham stood (to pray). And We imposed a duty upon Abraham and Ishmael, (saying): Purify My house for those who go around and those who meditate therein and those who bow down and prostrate themselves (in worship)." (2:125)

There are lots of reasons why this verse is false. First, what we know about Abraham historically is found in the Bible. Written many centuries before Mohammed, there is no reason to suppose anyone had an ax to grind against Islam. In light of this there is nothing in the Bible to suggest that Abraham and Ishmael were in Mecca. Not long after Ishmael was born God gave Sarah a son and Sarah wanted to get rid of Hagar and her son.

The Scripture declares:

"And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this handmaid and her son. For the son of this handmaid shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight on account of his son. And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy handmaid. In all that Sarah saith unto thee, hearken unto her voice. For in Isaac shall thy seed be called." (Genesis 21:9-12)

"And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and gave her the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba." (Gen. 21.14) An angel of the Lord came and told her to go back to Sarah and be her servant.

There is nothing in the Genesis story to imply they ever were in Mecca together.

Second, there are lots of myths about Abraham and we shall see some of them recorded in the Qur’an as fact, but you can never make a fiction a fact. Nor can a real fact become a fiction even though it is believed to be a fiction.

5. Is the religion of Abraham the same as that of Mohammed and the Qur’an?

"And who forsaketh the religion of Abraham save him who befooleth himself? Verily We chose him in the world, and lo! in the Hereafter he is among the righteous." (2:130)

The translation of Hilali-Khan speaks of this as Islamic Monotheism.

What was the religion of Abraham? First, it was the worship of Yahweh who is named. (Genesis 14:22) Allah is a word for God whose name we do not know. Second, Yahweh appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre (Genesis 18:1) Only Gabriel is claimed to have appeared to Mohammed. Third, Yahweh did a miracle for Abraham in promising that Sarah would have a child, Isaac, in her old age. No miracles were done for Mohammed.

Fourth, Abraham did not engage in banditry. When he rescued Lot from the captivity of several kings, he refused to take any booty. "Abram answered: The LORD God Most High made the heavens and the earth. And I have promised him that I won't keep anything of yours, not even a sandal strap or a piece of thread. Then you can never say that you are the one who made me rich. Let my share be the food that my men have eaten." (Genesis 14:22-24)

On the other hand Mohammed attacked the caravans of the Quraish and planned and executed many campaigns against people for booty, for converts, and for power.

Fifth, Abraham committed himself to Yahweh out of response to Yahweh’s goodness.

There was no army to convert people to the worship of Yahweh. The strict rules relating to worship later in the nation of Israel were for them only. Abraham lived among polytheistic people and he did not wage jihad against them. Neither did the Israelites later invade countries that Yahweh had not promised to them. Polytheism still existed there.

Sixth, the Qur’an claims that Ishmael is to be numbered among the prophets. (2:136) There is no indication of such a position in the Old Testament. Claiming it in the Qur’an is done without any evidence. Another fiction declared to be a fact.

6. The Qur’an is confused between Saul and Gideon.

"And when Saul set out with the army, he said: Lo! Allah will try you by (the ordeal of) a river. Whosoever therefore drinketh thereof he is not of me, and whosoever tasteth it not he is of me, save him who taketh (thereof) in the hollow of his hand. But they drank thereof, all save a few of them. And after he had crossed (the river), he and those who believed with him, they said: We have no power this day against Goliath and his hosts. But those who knew that they would meet Allah exclaimed: How many a little company hath overcome a mighty host by Allah's leave! Allah is with the steadfast." (2:249)

There is nothing in 1 Samuel 17-18 in that is described in this verse of the Qur’an.

The real story about the drinking out of the hollow of the hand is found in the story of Gideon in Judges 7:5, " So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon. Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink."

What happened in this confusion? Does not Allah remember what took place long ago?

Misunderstanding is not permissible in revelation. Fictions do not become facts.

7. The Qur’an is wrong about Zachariah and the birth of John the Baptist.

"He said: My Lord! Appoint a token for me. (The angel) said: The token unto thee (shall be) that thou shalt not speak unto mankind three days except by signs. Remember thy Lord much, and praise (Him) in the early hours of night and morning." (3:41)

The Gospel of Luke declares concerning the event, on the day that the child was born, "And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all. And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God." (Luke 1:62-64)

Zachariah could not speak for the whole 9 months of the pregnancy. Mohammed got it wrong again.

8. The Qur’an dignifies a myth into a fact in the story of Jesus speaking from his cradle.

"(And remember) when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a word from him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, illustrious in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near (unto Allah). He will speak unto mankind in his cradle and in his manhood, and he is of the righteous." (3:45-46)

Did this really happen? No. This is a myth that circulated in the apocryphal literature that even Christians did not accept. The original source for this is the Arabic Gospel of the Infancy. It reads, "We have found it recorded in the book of Josephus the Chief Priest, who was in the time of Christ (and men say that he was Caiaphas), that this man said that Jesus spake when He was in the cradle, and said to Mary His Mother, ‘Verily I am Jesus, the Son of God, the Word which thou hast borne, according as the angel Gabriel gave thee the good news; and My Father hath sent Me for the salvation of the world.’" While Christians accepted Jesus as the Son of God from the beginning, the idea of his speaking from the cradle is not accepted as historical.

However Mohammed heard about this and he twisted it to his own purpose in rejecting the part about Jesus as the Son of God.

9. Did Jesus make a clay pigeon and give it life by breathing into it? The Qur’an says, "And will make him a messenger unto the Children of Israel, (saying): Lo! I come unto you with a sign from your Lord. Lo! I fashion for you out of clay the likeness of a bird, and I breathe into it and it is a bird, by Allah's leave. I heal him who was born blind, and the leper, and I raise the dead, by Allah's leave. And I announce unto you what ye eat and what ye store up in your houses. Lo! herein verily is a portent for you, if ye are to be believers." (3:49)

Where did Mohammed come up with these stories? One suggestion is that he learned them from Mary the Copt who was a gift to Mohammed from the Christian governor of Egypt.

In the second chapter of the Gospel of Thomas, the Israelite, it says,

"This child, Jesus, having become five years old, was playing at the crossing of a brook, and He had collected together into pools the running waters and was making them clean forthwith, and with a single word did He command them. And having made some clay fine, He formed out of it twelve sparrows. And it was the Sabbath when He did these things. There were, however, many other children also playing with Him. But a certain Jew, having seen what Jesus was doing, that He was playing on the Sabbath day, went away immediately and told His father Joseph, ‘Lo! thy child is at the brook, and having taken clay He hath formed twelve little birds out of it, and He hath profaned the Sabbath.’ And Joseph, having come to the spot and having seen, cried out to Him, saying, ‘Why dost Thou on the Sabbath do these things which it is not lawful to do?’ But Jesus, having clapped His hands together, cried out to the sparrows and said to them, ‘Go!’ And the sparrows, having taken flight, departed twittering. But the Jews, having seen this, were astounded; and having gone away they related to their chief men what they saw that Jesus did." (The Original Sources of the Qur'an by the Rev. W. St. Clair Tisdall)

This fable also appears in the Gospel of Infancy two times. What does the New Testament say about the early miracles of Jesus? The Gospel of John, 2:11, states, "This was Jesus' first miracle, and he did it in the village of Cana in Galilee. There Jesus showed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him." Muslims won’t like this statement since it relates to Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding celebration. The fables and myths of non-historical stories cannot overrule the historical gospel.

10. The story of Cain in the Qur’an

After Cain killed his brother Abel the Qur’an declares:

"Then Allah sent a raven scratching up the ground, to show him how to hide his brother's naked corpse. He said: Woe unto me! Am I not able to be as this raven and so hide my brother's naked corpse? And he became repentant."

There is absolutely nothing in the account in Genesis about a raven coming to teach Cain what to do with the body of his slain brother. Where did the raven come from? The legend of the raven came from the Jewish Targum of Joseph in chapter xxi. It reads:

"Adam and his helpmeet were sitting weeping and lamenting over him (Abel), and they did not know what to do with Abel, for they were not acquainted with burial. A raven, one of whose companions had died, came. He took him and dug in the earth and buried him before their eyes. Adam said, ‘I shall do as this raven.’ Immediately (lit. out of hand) "he took Abel's corpse and dug in the earth and buried it."" The difference is that here Adam is taught how to bury the body whereas in the Qur’an Cain is taught to bury.

Mohammed adapted the legend to his own purposes, and passed it off as a revelation from Allah. (Sources, St. Clair Tisdall, chapter 3)

11. Mohammed’s confusion of the vision of Peter and the Lord’s Supper

The Qur’an says,

"Jesus, son of Mary, said: O Allah, Lord of us! Send down for us a table spread with food from heaven, that it may be a feast for us, for the first of us and for the last of us, and a sign from Thee. Give us sustenance, for Thou art the Best of Sustainers. Allah said: Lo! I send it down for you. And whoso disbelieveth of you afterward, him surely will I punish with a punishment wherewith I have not punished any of (My) creatures. And when Allah saith: O Jesus, son of Mary! Didst thou say unto mankind: Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah? he saith: Be glorified! It was not mine to utter that to which I had no right. If I used to say it, then Thou knewest it. Thou knowest what is in my mind, and I know not what is in Thy Mind. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Knower of Things Hidden?" (5:114-116)

The only reference of a table in the words of Jesus are found in Luke 22:30 where Jesus told the disciples that they would eat at his table in the Kingdom of Heaven. The only lowering of anything from heaven is described in Peter’s experience in Acts l0:9-15.

"Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of four footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common."

Clearly, there is confusion in the Qur’an about these two separate events. This would pose a problem only for the claim that the Qur’an is revealed by Allah. Surely Allah knows the difference. Did Mohammed receive it in error? Or, was Allah in error?

What is more interesting is the question Allah addressed to Jesus, "Didst thou say unto mankind: Take me and my mother for two gods besides Allah?" Allah should know that Jesus did not make such a statement about there being two gods or three, or that Mary was part of the nature of God. Allah is regarded by Mohammed as the all-knowing one and there was not really a need to ask the question.

12. More erroneous stuff about Abraham

"(Remember) when Abraham said unto his father Azar: Takest thou idols for gods? Lo! I see thee and thy folk in error manifest. Thus did We show Abraham the kingdom of the heavens and the earth that he might be of those possessing certainty." (6:74-75)

The prayer of Abraham for the forgiveness of his father was only because of a promise he had promised him, but when it had become clear unto him that he (his father) was an enemy to Allah he (Abraham) disowned him. Lo! Abraham was soft of heart, long-suffering." (9:114)

"We said: O fire, be coolness and peace for Abraham," (21:69)

They said: Build for him a building and fling him in the red-hot fire. (37:97) And they designed a snare for him, but We made them the undermost." (37:98)

There are several issues here. First, Abraham’s father was Terah, not Azar. (Genesis 11:27-28). "Now these are the generations of Terah. Terah fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran fathered Lot. Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his kindred, in Ur of the Chaldeans."

Second, there is no record of Abraham disowning his father. The Genesis account says,

"Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram's wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there. The days of Terah were 205 years, and Terah died in Haran. (Genesis 11:31-32) The account presumes they were together until Terah died.

Third, there is no ancient record in which Abraham was shown the kingdoms of the heavens and the earth. What is described in Genesis is this: " The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, "Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you." (Genesis 13:14-17)

Fourth, "We said: O fire, be coolness and peace for Abraham," (21:69) appears in the Qur’an as a conclusion to the story of Abraham destroying idols and being punished in a huge fire for his deed. The story is adapted from the Jewish Midrash Rabba. Not only is there no historical credibility to the story, Abraham and Nimrod did not even live in the same era. Abraham lived 9 generations later than Nimrod. Another fiction declared to be a fact.

13. There are many more issues that could be cataloged here. Some of the above and many other issues have been dealt with in the sections of Contradictions in the Qur'an and Sources of the Qur'an. You are invited to peruse these links for more detailed information.

14. We have considered a number of examples in which Islam takes fictions and turned them into facts. Now, we must turn to the opposite situation where Islam takes facts and turned them into fictions or lies. The prime examples of this are seen in two areas: who Jesus is, and what he did.

The first example concerns the view of who Jesus is. The whole of the New Testament declares that Jesus is the eternal Son of God who has become Incarnate. This claim is affirmed from Matthew to Revelation. Jesus Himself claimed equality with God. This is the reason for his condemnation by the Pharisees.

"They said, "Tell us! Are you the Messiah?" Jesus replied, "If I said so, you wouldn't believe me. And if I asked you a question, you wouldn't answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right side of God All-Powerful." Then they asked, "Are you the Son of God?" Jesus answered, "You say I am!" They replied, "Why do we need more witnesses? He said it himself!" (Luke 22:67-71 CEV)

"In the beginning was the one who is called the Word. The Word was with God and was truly God. From the very beginning the Word was with God." (John 1:1-2) ... " The Word became a human being and lived here with us. We saw his true glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father. From him all the kindness and all the truth of God have come down to us. (John 1:14) ... "No one has ever seen God. The only Son, who is truly God and is closest to the Father, has shown us what God is like." (John 1:18) For the many references in the New Testament about Jesus as the Son of God as well as the crucifixion and resurrection consult these articles: 1, 2

It is without question that the New Testament books declare Jesus to be the Son of God.

However, the Qur’an takes the facts of the New Testament and turns them into fictions or lies. "O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not "Three" - Cease! (it is) better for you! - Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty that He should have a son. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is sufficient as Defender." (4:171)

"They say: Allah hath taken (unto Him) a son - Glorified be He! He hath no needs! His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. Ye have no warrant for this. Tell ye concerning Allah that which ye know not?" (10:68) (Pickthall)

Mohammed rejected the Christian understanding of Jesus. Whatever influence the Jews had in this decision we cannot say with certainty. Regardless of the source or influence the first most cardinal truth of Christian faith is regarded as a falsehood, a fiction, a lie.

The second issue is even greater in its denial because there are so many other historical references to it, the crucifixion of Jesus.

"And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah's messenger - they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain." (4:157)

Mohammed accuses the Jews of having "no knowledge" but they were right and he was wrong. The Gospels affirm that Jesus told his disciples that He would be crucified. As soon as the disciples came to understand that Jesus was the Son of God, he taught them that he would be crucified, die, and be raised in three days.

"From then on, Jesus began telling his disciples what would happen to him. He said, "I must go to Jerusalem. There the nation's leaders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law of Moses will make me suffer terribly. I will be killed, but three days later I will rise to life." (Mt. 16:21)

Later Matthew declares, "When the soldiers had finished making fun of Jesus, they took off the robe. They put his own clothes back on him and led him off to be nailed to a cross." (Mt. 27:31)

The early message of the believers on the day of Pentecost was about the crucifixion.

"Now, listen to what I have to say about Jesus from Nazareth. God proved that he sent Jesus to you by having him work miracles, wonders, and signs. All of you know this. God had already planned and decided that Jesus would be handed over to you. So you took him and had evil men put him to death on a cross. But God set him free from death and raised him to life. Death could not hold him in its power." (Acts 2:22-24)

These are records of the crucifixion by Christian eyewitnesses. There are other references to the crucifixion of Jesus that include pagans and Jews as well as Christians.

You can see these here.

We have here again the unusual situation in which Allah is alleged to give a revelation that the crucifixion did not take place. On the other hand, the early Christian message involved the idea that Yahweh had sent Jesus and planned that Jesus would be handed over to be crucified. Who is God? Which one did not know what happened? We are lead to believe that Yahweh knew and Allah or Mohammed didn’t.

This is simply an example, one of many, in which Islam takes fictions and turns them into facts at the same time taking established historical facts and turning them into fictions.

Jesus said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32)

He also personalized the nature of truth in saying, "I am the way, the truth, and the life!" Jesus answered. "Without me, no one can go to the Father. (John 14:6) The emphatic issue is this:

Do you really want God? There is no other way than through Jesus. I urge you to consider these words and give your commitment to Him. For "God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die." (John 3:16 CEV) God’s love commands a response from you in love and faith.