A Short History of Religions: Part-4
By Mohammad Asghar
At the age of 60 or thereabouts, Muhammad became the undisputed ruler of the entire Arabian Peninsula. While making efforts for building his empire, he also enriched himself as well as some of his cronies by robbing and plundering the Jews and other religions people he perceived to be his enemy. Even after the Jews became Muslims, he did not spare them: In the name of God, he took way from them every thing they owned and possessed.
His greed for wealth unsatisfied by all the wealth he gained, he even charged Muslims a fee when they came to him for consultation. His act known as Sunnah, it is being practiced by most Muslim religious leaders even today: When Muslims consult them on any matter, they expect to be compensated by them for their advice.
Together with amassing a huge wealth, Muhammad also enjoyed his sexual life to the hilt. While sanctioning possession of four wives and unlimited slave girls for his followers, he unabashedly permitted himself to marry as many women as he wished. He also reserved the right to have sex with any women he chose, including his maternal and paternal cousins.
At a certain age, Muhammad became impotent. Even with this state of his sexual health, he continued to maintain a harem of nine wives and an entourage of slave women and concubines until his death at the age of sixty-three in 632 A.D.
The origin of the Quran
It is a cardinal belief of all Muslims that the Quran they depend on for guidance on every thing they do in their lives is the collection of revelations God gave Muhammad over a period of twenty-three years. When these were revealed to him through angel Gabriel, some of his companions instantly memorized a part of them, while others had the remaining revelations written down on palm-leaves, skins, bones and tablets of white stone.
According to Muslim scholars, Abu Bakr, the first caliph of Islam, on recommendation from Omar, asked Zaid ibn Thabit of Medina, formerly Muhammad’s secretary, to collect the revelations from “ribs of palm-leaves and tablets of white stone and from the breasts of men” and to compile them into a book. The book he compiled is known as the Quran.
But the circumstances that are reasonably assumed to have existed in the 7th century Arabian Peninsula do not support the background behind the collection of the Quran. Let us consider the following factors:
Many scholars believe that the Arabs of Muhammad’s time knew to count, perhaps, up to a certain number, but there is no indication or proof that they also knew how to read or write. Not only Muhammad, none of the people who formed his inner circle were known to have ever attended a school in their entire life. Due to this reason, history does not contain any information on the educational background of Abu Bakr, Omar and Othman et al.
On account of the conditions that prevailed in Mecca and its neighborhoods prior to, and at the rise of Islam, it is safe to assume that all of its residents were illiterate. The Quran supports this assumption; for it has not claimed that, opposed to an illiterate Muhammad, the pagans were an educated people, and that they had the ability to read and write.
The same was the situation with the pagans of Medina: They, too, were illiterate and did not know how to read or write.
Consequently, the claim made by Muslim scholars that Muhammad’s companions had written down the revelations on palm-leaves, skins, bones and tablets of white stone is nothing but a fabrication. To understand this fallacy, we, again, need to consider the following factors:
We are told that Muhammad related the contents of God’s revelations to his attendees, while recovering from his bouts of unconsciousness, which, in many scholars’ view, resulted from epileptic attacks. The situation being as such, it would be logical to assume that he must have spoken a word or a full sentence once, or perhaps, only for a couple of times. In a situation like this, no body could either have memorized all he had said, nor did any body have the ability to write down all his words, as speedily as his utterances came out of his mouth, especially on materials such as palm-leaves and skins etc. This was not possible then, nor is it possible even today, to write anything on a leave and then read it at a later date. The reasons for it being:
Even if one succeeds in writing something on a green leave with great care, and with a very special ink, the writing will disappear as the leave begins to dry up. Again, writing on a dry leave is also not possible, for dry leaves become delicate, and even a slight pressure on its surface is likely to break it up into small pieces.
It would, however, have been a different matter in Muhammad’s time, if God nourished in the desert of Arabian Peninsula a special kind of tree, the leaves of which Muhammad’s followers could have used for writing down the revelations. To let it happen, God did not have to do much: He just needed to strengthen the leaves of the same tree, “out of which He produced fire,” even when it remained green, to help the Arabs kindle fire therewith.
God is not reported to have done anything like the above. Nor does the Quran indicate that He gave special skills to the Arabs that enabled them to write on the tree-leaves, despite being illiterate in the truest sense of the word.
Writing on skins, bones and stone is possible, but it is a very hard and a much time consuming undertaking. It requires an extra-ordinary skill, and a lot of perseverance on the part of the writer. Perseverance - - enough of it Muhammad’s followers had ingrained in their character, but the skill of writing - - they had none of it.
Therefore, the claim that all of Muhammad’s utterances were either committed to memory by his companions, or written down on palm-leaves, skins and bones etc. is false.
Also false is the instruction God is supposed to have given the Muslims of Muhammad’s time to ‘reduce their business contract to writing,’ as there was no real writing material available to them to carry out His divine instruction.
Muslim scholars’ falsehood becomes clearer when we consider the fact that, although a lock of Muhammad’s beard is reportedly being preserved in the Hazrat-e-baal mosque of the Indian part of Kashmir, there is no evidence that a single piece of bone or stone etc. on which the holy words of God were allegedly jotted down by his companions can be found anywhere in the world.
Why Muslims did not preserve them raises a lot of questions. Muslims’ claim that most of the leaves with the Quranic verses written on them, and stored in Aisha’s apartment, were eaten up by a goat is a childish ploy.
But what about the tablets of white stone? There existed no dinosaurs in the 7th century. So what happened to the stones? Why have they not been preserved?
Neither was saved the text of his Farewell Speech and other documents he is supposed to have signed during the last few years of his life. The question is: Why?
The truth of the matter is that since the people of Muhammad’s time did not know how to write, they never bothered to collect papyrus from such neighbors as Egypt and Syria, where people used it for their writing purposes. And since the Peninsular Arabs had nothing to write on, the question of their having collected or developed a specialized kind of ink could never have arisen prior to, and during the time of Muhammad’s preaching of Islam.
The compilation of the Quran
The claim that Abu Bakr and Othman had the contents of the Quran compiled during their reigns as caliphs might have been true. But what they had compiled was not from “ribs of palm-leaves and tablets of white stone.” The compilation consisted of what the compilers themselves “thought” were Muhammad’s words.
The haphazard and gibberish contents of the Quran must have created problems for the caliphs, as they tried to rule over their subjects by using its injunctions. Othman’s decision to destroy the Quran, complied during Abu Bakr’s regime, was the result of his failure to enforce its unenforceable dogmas over his subjects. In fact, Ali ibn Abu Talib, Muhammad’s son-in-law and the fourth caliph himself is reported to have disapproved the “policies” his predecessors tried to implement, perhaps on the basis of the Quran.
In frustration, Othman ended up writing a new Quran and canonized it during his caliphate, which lasted from 644 to 656 A.D.
Unable to come up with a better version to replace Othman’s one, Muslim rulers, after him, waited until they could find some really learned persons to change, amend, modify or rewrite its contents. Eventually, they found, in 933 A.D., ibn Muqlah and ibn Isa whom they engaged to fix its text with the help of ibn Mujahid.
They composed Surah Fatiha, with which the Quran begins. It is a beautiful composition. It came from the minds of an educated and rationale people.
The Quran Muslims read today, therefore, is the one, which took its shape over three hundred and thirty years after Muhammad’s death.
The fact that the collection of hadiths began almost simultaneously with the revision of Othman’s version of the Quran proves the non-Muslim scholars’ hypothesis that it was given its present shape in 933 A.D.
So long as the Muslim rulers did not try to put the Quran’s dictations to their full advantage, many of their subjects did not have problems with its contents, for so long as these did not interfere with their lifestyle. Their problems came to the fore, when Muslim rulers began insisting that they must live their lives according to what they claimed were God’s perfect laws He gave them through the Quran.
Faced with the determination of their rulers, many Muslims began asking questions on many of its stipulations. Now, it was the rulers’ turn to deal with the problem they themselves created.
To overcome their problem, they commissioned people to find out answers to people’s questions. They came up with the concept of Hadith.
By using hadiths, Muslim rulers, in many cases, were able to divert the questioners’ attention, among others, to the root meanings of the words, used in the Quran, even though the people of the 7th century Arabia never bothered to pay any attention to such a subtlety as the root meaning of a particular word.
They understood exactly what meaning or connotation each word of the Quran conveyed to them. It was on account of this reason that none of the pagans are reported in it to have ever asked any question on the meanings of the words it contains.
Muslims use the Hadiths as a tool for beguiling inquisitive minds. This ploy succeeded in the past, it continues to succeed even today.
For so long as the usage of hadiths would remain in force, it would be impossible for most Muslims to fully understand the Quran, and the guidance its contents are supposed to provide them for their compliance.
Despite the fact that the Quran was revised or rewritten by three erudite persons, it still contains a lot of grammatical and linguistic errors. These errors occurred due to the fact that it was written by humans. Had it been the handiwork of an all-knowing and infallible God, it would not have in it any error whatsoever.
Citation of two errors should prove the authorship of the Quran:
1. Verse 7:77 claims that the she-camel Salih produced from a hill was hamstrung by a number of people. Whereas in verse 54:29 it is clearly stated that the committer of the crime was just one man.
2. In verse 66:20, where Pharaoh’s people say of Moses and his brother Aaron “These two are sorcerers,” the word for “these two” (hadhane) is in nominative case, whereas it should have been in the accusative case (hadhayne), because it comes after an introductory particle of emphasis.
Here is a factual error that proves that its contents are not from a deity who is supposed not only to be infallible but also omniscient:
The Quran made it mandatory for those Muslims, who are prevented from following their religion, to migrate to another place or country in order to overcome their problem. Here is what it says:
“Surely (as for) those whom the angels cause to die while they are unjust to their souls, they shall say: In what state were you? They shall say: We were weak in the earth. They shall say: Was not Allah's earth spacious, so that you should have migrated therein? So these it is whose abode is hell, and it is an evil resort.”
The angels’ question “In what state were you” refers to a situation where Islam is suppressed, and its followers persecuted. In such a situation, it is the duty of the Muslims to leave such places, “even if it involved forsaking their homes, and join and strengthen the Muslim community among whom they could live in peace and with whom they could help fighting the evils around them.
Failure to comply with the Quran’s instruction brings the severe punishment of hell on the violators. This violation is so grave that the angels do not wait for God to give His judgment on their sin; instead, they themselves pronounce the punishment at the time of taking away the sinners’ souls, even though the angels are not supposed to have any liberty or freedom to do so. They are also not supposed to pass their judgment on their Masters.
Muslim women, living in France, are now facing suppression and persecution of their faith by the French government. It prohibits them from wearing their hijab, which has been mandated by the Quran. This situation calls for their immediate migration.
But which country in the world is going to accept them? If the ‘suffering’ Muslims are not able to migrate to other countries due to immigration laws, passport and other regulations introduced by all the countries of the world after the Quran was written, then how Muslims are going to follow its instructions? And if they cannot follow its instruction for no faults of their own, then why the angels should consign them to an evil resort, like hell?
The answer to the question lies in a simple fact: The Quran’s instruction applied only to those Muslims, who lived in the Arabian Peninsula in Muhammad’s time. At that time, the restrictions on immigration that apply today did not exist, hence the Quranic statement.
It is not applicable to the Muslim of the modern world. They cannot migrate to another country at will, even if they face religious persecutions in the countries of their residence. For this failure on their part, not even an illogical person would punish them, let alone a God who is supposed to be kind, magnanimous, wise and all-knowing.
As the order of migration has become redundant, so has become the Quran itself. It has no relevance to the facts, events and situations of the modern time. The Quran has become an archaic book; it, therefore, needs to be put away from the sight and reach of all mankind so that they can save themselves from its harmful and dangerous effects.
 Quran; Verses 59: 6 & 7 et el.
 Quran; Verse 9:111.
 Quran; Verse 58:12.
 Quran; Verse 33:50.
 Philip K. Hitti, History of the Arabs, p. 123. Hitti based his statement on Khatib, Mishkak, vol. 1, p. 343.
 Quran; Verse 36:80.
 Quran; Verse 2:282.
 See Karen Armstrong’s A History of God, p. 158.
 Philip K. Hitti, op. cit, p. 123.
 Quran, Verse 4:97
 Abdullah Yusuf Ali, op. cit. Vol. 1, p. 211.
 Quran; Verse 2:34.
Mohammad Asghar writes from USA.
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