By Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
(Co-author (Jointly with Ashfaque Ullah
Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009)
27 July 2017
In her publication, ‘The Trouble with
Islam’, Irshad Manji, a self-styled Muslim reformer and a scholar celebrity,
regarded by many in the West as an authority on Islam, calls the Qur’an “a
bundle of contradictions” (page 40, 2nd para. concluding sentence).
Referring to a forged Pact of Umar, Irshad
Manji declares: “Not many years after the Prophet’s death, a disturbing and
supposedly authoritative document appeared. It decreed that non-Muslims should
stand when any Muslim wishes to sit, that non-Muslims must watch their houses
of worship decay without repairing or replacing them, that a Muslim testimony
in the court will trump that of a non-Muslim. You get the grim picture. This
document was called ‘the Pact of Umar.” [Page 69, para-1, referenced book] In
the subsequent para on the same page she adds, “From now, all I can tell you is
that the Pact of Umar had a decisive effect on early Islam – and beyond.”
The historical fact as attested by Thomas
Arnold, a most respected historian of Islam specializing on the reason for its
rapid spread - who carried out an extensive research, lasting almost two
decades based on contemporary accounts left by Christian chroniclers dates the
forging of the document to the middle of the fifth century of the Hijrah or
later. He states: “The earliest mention of this document is made by Ibn Hazm,
who died in the middle of the fifth century of the Hijrah; its provisions
represent the more intolerant practice of a later age, and indeed were
regulations that were put into force with no sort of regularity, some outburst
of fanaticism being generally needed for any appeal to be made for their
application. There is abundant evidence to show that the Christians in the
early days of the Muhammadan conquest had little to complain of in the way of
religious disabilities." [Preaching of Islam, 2nd revised edition, 1913,
reprinted Delhi 1990, p. 57.
Continuing along Irshad Manji’s above
quoted remark, she then skips the entire history of Islam and comes early 19th
century and quotes “an eminent legal scholar “to using the pact for advising
Muslim governors on what kind of relations they should seek with their
non-Muslim subjects and listed a few highly demeaning terms as example.
Thus, Irshad Manji straight away dismissed
the Qur’an and shortened the four centuries gap between the issuance of the
original and the forged Pact of Umar, quoted no source, and quoted ‘an eminent
legal scholar’ of 19th century without naming him, advising unnamed Muslim
Governors of unnamed countries to apply the forged Pact of Umar on their
Christian subjects. Worst still, she makes no mention of the original Pact of
Umar that was in the form of highly accommodative and compassionate terms of
surrender of Damascus (635 AD) and Jerusalem (638) to Khalid Ibn al-Walid and
Caliph Umar, as reported by two of outstanding Western historians of Islam,
Thomas. W. Arnold (1864-1930) and Philip K. Hitti (1886-1978) - that we shall
discuss in a later article.
Her book is ranked #1 bestseller in Canada
in its time (publication 2004).
In his article, ‘Law, Morality,
Triple Talaq, dated July 10, 2017, Prof. Faizan Mustafa,
vice-chancellor, NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, declares, “Quranic verses
are vague, general and, at times, contradictory…”
In his article, “Is Islamic
Reform Possible?’Should We Just Accept That Quran Is Not Perfect, Infallible
Word of God, If Nearly All Muslims Misundetstand It?'” dated
July 2017, Hassan Radwan, a Muslim scholar who graduated in Classical Arabic
specializing in Qur’anic commentary from SOAS University of London in 1984
states: “the Qur’an is the rather less carefully planned work of a human mind”
…“It (the Qur’an) is not infallible. It is not perfect and it is not the word
Such sentiments are expressed by a fringe
of Muslim intellectuals, but what is disturbing and speaks very poorly of
Islamic scholarship is that some of them tell ‘lies’ or ‘half-truths’ to make
Hassan Radwan declares: “He (Muhammad) was
accused of recounting nothing but myths and fairytales and it took a long and
violent struggle to win over Arabia - not an intellectual one” It is indeed
true that Prophet’s enemies brought all kind of charges against him, including
the noted ones, but his accusers eventually converted to his faith voluntarily
and thus disowned their own accusations. Radwan’s statement is therefore
half-truth. Regarding his allegation of ‘a long and violent struggle to win
over Arabia’ the Qur’an, which is by far the most authentic historical source
on the Prophet’s mission – having been recorded and memorized simultaneously in
real time clearly demonstrates that all the battles that the Prophet fought
were either to defending against military attacks or against hostile tribes
that were constantly breaking the Peace Treaty, and that he never used force to
gain converts. This is well known and expounded on the basis of Qur’anic
allusions in my article referenced below . Besides, Hassan’s dismissal of
the intellectual appeal of the Qur’an in gaining converts is refuted upfront by
some of the most eminent Western scholars of this era, briefly quoted below:
Karen Armstrong states: “The Qur’an does
not ask Muslims to abdicate reason. The signs are for ‘a people having
understanding’, ‘for a people who know’: Muslims are asked to look upon the
signs in the world and examine them carefully..”[p.100, Muhammad, 1991]
Thomas Cleary declares: “Islam does not
demand unreasoned belief. Rather, it invites intelligent faith, growing from
observation, reflection and contemplation, beginning with nature and all around
us.” [The Essential Koran 1994, opening page, Introduction]
Prof. Faizan Mustafa, contradicts his
remark about the vagueness and ‘at times ‘contradiction in the Qur’anic verses
by inserting in the concluding paragraph of his referenced article these words:
“We must educate people and the Board must ensure that all divorces henceforth
happen as per the Qur’anic procedure.” Thus despite his doubt son the integrity
of Qur’anic verses and juristic debate on the methodology of divorce in his
preceding two articles excluded from this discussion, he acknowledges that the
Qur’anic protocol for Talaq was the best option for the Muslim Personal Law in
Fortunately there are not many Muslim
scholars of the Qur’an or Islam who write articles or make speeches challenging
the Qur’an’s divinity or blaming it of contradictions and for the crisis in the
Muslim world. Scholars are free to hold any view but if they take to lies or
half-truths to support their views, they do far greater harm to their community
than any good. They become conspirators and traitors.
And as for any Muslim scholar who dreams of
editing the Qur’an or dismissing it altogether, he must learn lesson from
history. The Moghul Emperor Akbar the Great who styled himself a reformer of
Islām - arriving almost 1,000 years after the Prophet Muḥammad,
introduced a modified version of Islam, Din E Ilahi. He couldn’t make
even a score of converts in his long life. Where do people like the present day
proponents of a modified Qur’an stand – this author has no word to say. Nor has
he any word to say on the level of intelligence and world knowledge of the
present day self-styled Muslim reformers who want to tamper the Qur’an or to
remove it altogether from the world of Islam.
The Muslims have lived with the Qur’an for
the last 14 centuries. They have gone through immensely grater trials of
history - massacres, mass deportations, destruction of cities and civilization,
colonization and military defeats – this is not the place to recount. The
Qur’an has stood its ground and remained unaltered. It will remain unaltered
until the end of time. As the Qur’an says:
“The Words of
your Lord will be fulfilled truthfully and justly: none can change His Words,
for He is All-Knowing and Aware” (6:115).
“Surely We have
sent down this Reminder, and surely. We will protect (preserve) it” (15:9).
“Nay! This is a
Glorious Qur'an (85:21). (Inscribed) in a Tablet (well) guarded (Lauh
Al-Mahfuz) (against corruption)” (85:22).
Let the people of the world know, the
rebellious Muslim intellectuals and the non-Muslims alike, that even if
Muhammad had forged the Qur’an, he had pre-empted all of them against any
tampering of his book (so to say) by putting himself on the gallows even if he
ever changed a word of it:
(Muhammad) attributed to Us any false speech (69:44), We would seize him by the
right hand (45), then We would sever his aorta (46) and none of you could
prevent it (69:47F
Finally, the author will thank NAI for
posting Hassan Radwan’s passionately laid out, logically argued cunningly
poisoned article aimed at achieving what he can never achieve, as the article
is a clear warning of an internal conspiracy to plunge the Muslims into
confusion in religion that could only add to their problems and crises that
have already reached a bursting threshold. And let no Muslim reader be
disturbed by it as much as the seeing cannot be disturbed by someone
threatening them to prevent the sun from rising.
Is a Religion Of Peace And Pluralism
Muhammad Yunus, a Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of
Technology, and a retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth
study of the Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has
co-authored the referred exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar
al-Sharif, Cairo in 2002, and following restructuring and refinement was
endorsed and authenticated by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by
Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.
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Muslim News, Arab
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Dear Mr. Muhammad Yunus,
I do not find anything wrong with your statement that can be taken as
the crux of your article as follows:
“'Scholars are free to hold any view but if they take to lies or
half-truths to support their views, they do far greater harm to their community
than any good. They become conspirators and traitors”.
In the latest comment, you say to Professor Naim sahib,
“In your last comment you rightly said, it is not good to call people
"conspirators and traitors." You are perfectly correct. You cannot
call people by these terms without water-tight evidence, lest they can charge
you of moral turpitude and even file a case against you. All I said in my
article after presenting hard and irrefutable evidence was this: "The crux
of the article lies in the statement: 'Scholars are free to hold any view but
if they take to lies or half-truths to support their views, they do far greater
harm to their community than any good. They become conspirators and traitors”.
In the context of the article it becomes obvious that the terms denoted their
'conspiracy' and 'treason' against the Qur'an/ Islam/ Muslim community. Whether
they or you find it bad or take me to court, I have to face the divine court.”
Tahir Iqbal writes in his article on NAI which appeared today
"Sheikh Sirhindi laid great stress on the observance of Islamic teachings and started a full-fledged intellectual war against the ‘Din-e-Ilahi’ of Akbar and got its very edifice dismantled."
Lest we lose sight of what Professor Naim
said in the first place to which I responded, I reproduce the same below:
Muslims believe that the Quran is the revealed word ofGod. The
Jews do not claim that for the Torah. Nor do the Christians make that claim for
the New Testament. In both religions, their scared books are considered human
creations - records of words that some humans spoke and some human recorded.
Muslims insist that No, they were revealed books and the Jews and Christian
have made changes in them. Is that logical?
There is no difference between what
the Jews and the Muslims believe regarding Moses having been spoken to by God Himself
and also given the Tablet. As far as Christianity is concerned, they consider
Jesus as divine. So where does the question of either the Jews or the
Christians considering their books to be human creations arise?
The position that Islam takes is
actually the most modest one. Neither did God speak to Muhammad (pbuh) directly
nor was Muhammad god or son of God. He was an ordinary mortal receiving revelation
from Allah through Gabriel. All three religions believe their sacred books to
be either the word of God (Judaism and Christianity) or the revealed word of
The Muslims however, do not treat the
received Torah or the Bible to be a hundred percent word of God for the reasons
cited in my comment covering the books. The common Christians and the Jews also
do not consider their books to be a hundred percent word of God for their own
reasons but this is not the official Jewish or Christian position of their
Church or Temple.
The reason why I responded is
precisely because Professor Naim is a respected academic and if he writes a
comment implying that the Muslims are making an unreasonable and extravagant claim
when they say the Quran is the revealed word of God and no other community makes a
similar claim, it needs to be told that Islam actually makes the most modest
claim vis-à-vis every other religion where Muhammad (pbuh) is neither God Himself
nor son of God nor did God speak to him directly.
Islam bashing appears to have become a favourite pastime of all and sundry and being a Professor emeritus is not a guarantee that the person will not succumb to the temptation of joining in the fun.
Dear Naseer Sahab,
Prof. Naim is professor emeritus of
a leading American University, and most respected scholar and a buzurg for us
on this forum. So when he nailed me down over the inaccuracy of the historical parallel
I sighted at the tail end of the above article, I didn’t respond – you very
kindly did on my behalf.
Now totally out of the blue, the
Professor emeritus says, “And the
Muslims are the only one, of the three, who accuse the other two of messing up
their own sacred books. To my mind that is a kind of religious chauvinism.”
I don’t want make any comment to him because his response to it may
have no bearing with whatever comment I post – or go above my head. The only
object of my above article is captured in its caption and restated in the
following statement in the article:
are free to hold any view but if they take to lies or half-truths to support
their views, they do far greater harm to their community than any good. They
become conspirators and traitors.”
the learned professor has not read the article at all and stereotyped me in some
lowly category not worthy of any serious attention. Or perhaps he wants to quash any debate on the article. He knows best.
1. Jesus did
not preach the concept of Trinity. He never claimed to be divine. The divinity
of Jesus and the concept of Trinity are later decisions made by the Christian
affirms the above as fact. What has been merely pointed out is the high
position given to The Holy Spirit in Christian doctrine without telling us what
role it played vis-à-vis Jesus (pbuh). Christian doctrine gets into all kinds
of knots trying to explain the concept of the Trinity and does a very poor job
of it. It cannot, for example, say that The holy Spirit brought revelations to
Jesus while at the same time treat Jesus as divinity. So, it doesn’t say that.
So how does The Holy Spirit become one part of the Trinity?
somebody to doubt that Gabriel brought revelations to Muhammad (pbuh) because the
Christian doctrine does not say so, does no credit to his learning
2. The Gospels
have authors. Some have multiple authors. There is an entire science of textual
analysis that the Christians have used. It is the community that much later
decided on what were true gospels and what were to be treated as apocrypha.
Viewing the history of Christianity through the lens of the Qur'an is not
read my comment analysing the different scriptures. It does not use the lens of
the Quran but is an extract from a book written by a Christian who graduated
from the Harvard Divinity School and specialized in those scriptures. The Quran
merely mentions Ingeel as one of the Books of revelations without further
3. I think
there is also a Qur'anic explanation of what Ruh is. And that does not jibe
with the Gabriel theory unless we accept that the word had a range of meanings
and was understood by the earliest Muslims in different ways.
explanation is in my article:
Islam and Mysticism: Is ‘Ruh’ Soul? (Part 2)
4. Moses was
given tablets with the commandments, which he later smashed. No angel was
involved in giving or smashing.
that angels were involved in giving or smashing. The verses from the Quran have
been quoted on the subject. What has been pointed out is that neither the
Jewish traditions nor the Quran differ on how Moses received his revelations.
5. The fact to
be noted is that in the three so-called Abrahamic religions, God speaks to His
audience in several different ways at various occasions. And the Muslims are
the only one, of the three, who accuse the other two of messing up their own
sacred books. To my mind that is a kind of religious chauvinism.
I wonder why this
question of the Muslims accusing the other two of messing up their own sacred
books has been brought up since neither the article above nor any comment does
appears by name only twice in the Quran. As far as revelations to Muhammad (pbuh)
are concerned, the Quran says that Gabriel brought this to Muhammad’s qalb or
According to the Quran, Jesus (pbuh) was born with the ruh
of Allah like Adam and was further strengthened by ruhul Qudoos which means the
Holy Spirit, which we learn from the Quran is one of the titles of Gabriel the
other being Ruhul Amin.
Holy Spirit plays an important role in Christian doctrine and is part of the Trinity.
Christian doctrine also makes out Jesus to be not just son of God but god himself
so why would such a doctrine make Jesus look like Muhammad (pbuh) an ordinary
man receiving inspiration from Allah through Gabriel? The role of the Holy Spirit otherwise remains undiminished in Christianity except vis-a-vis Jesus. Professor Naim is surely aware of the difficult concept of Trinity which the Christians themselves struggle explaining.
As far as Christianity is concerned Jesus is not human but god. Professor Naim is therefore wrong in saying that the Christians consider the Gospels to be the work of man unless the Christians consider Jesus as an ordinary man. The Christians therefore, make no distinction between the word of God and the word of Jesus and all the ahadith of Jesus are gospel for them. For Muslims, the ahadith of Jesus are not gospel (just like the ahadith of Muhammad are not the Quran) but may contain some part of the revelations of Allah which is the Ingeel according to the Quran.
As far as Moses is concerned, I don't think there is any conflict in what the Jews and the Muslims believe. They do not think that Moses made up the Ten Commandments.
Professor Naim is therefore wrong on both counts. Jesus is not human but god according to the Christians and God spoke to Moses and gave him the tablet according to the Jews.
This is what the Quran says about Moses and I do not think
that Jewish tradition differs from it.
(7:142) We appointed
for Moses thirty nights, and completed (the period) with ten (more): thus was
completed the term (of communion) with his Lord, forty nights. And Moses had
charged his brother Aaron (before he went up): "Act for me amongst my people:
Do right, and follow not the way of those who do mischief."
(143) When Moses came
to the place appointed by Us, and his Lord addressed him, He said: "O my
Lord! show (Thyself) to me, that I may look upon thee." Allah said:
"By no means canst thou see Me (direct); But look upon the mount; if it
abide in its place, then shalt thou see Me." When his Lord manifested His
glory on the Mount, He made it as dust. And Moses fell down in a swoon. When he
recovered his senses he said: "Glory be to Thee! to Thee I turn in
repentance, and I am the first to believe."
(144) (Allah) said:
"O Moses! I have chosen thee above (other) men, by the mission I (have
given thee) and the words I (have spoken to thee): take then the (revelation)
which I give thee, and be of those who give thanks."
(145) And We ordained
laws for him in the tablets in all matters, both commanding and explaining all
things, (and said): "Take and hold these with firmness, and enjoin thy
people to hold fast by the best in the precepts: soon shall I show you the
homes of the wicked,- (How they lie desolate)."