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 of God.”
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 their point.
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 India.
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:
“If he (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.
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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