View Full Version : Alleged Contradictions in the Qur'an

Ansar Al-'Adl
02-06-2005, 07:36 PM

These responses have all been uploaded onto the main site here:

I am now keeping a Table of Contents, so people can easily find their answers.

1. The Inheritance Laws in the Qur'an
2. The Number of Angels Speaking to Mary pbuh
3. On The Length of God's Days
4. The Number of Gardens in Paradise
5. The Number of Groups on the Day of Resurrection
6. Who Takes the Soul at the Time of Death
7. The Number of Wings on Angels
8. The Number of Days Taken to Create the Universe
9. Was Creation Quick or Slow?
10. Which was Created first, the Heavens or the Earth?
11. Were the Heavens and the Earth called together, or ripped apart for Creation?
12. The Time Taken to Destroy the Aad
13. What Was Man Created From?
14. Where is Allah?
15. On The Origin of Calamity
16. The Mercy and Guidance of Allah
17. Will there be Inquiry in Paradise?
18. Are Angels Protectors?
19. Is Everything Devoutly Obedient to Allah?
20. Does Allah forgive Shirk?
21. Did Abraham commit Shirk?
22. Worshipping the Same or a Different God?
23. The Sequence of Events in the Children of Israel Worshipping the Calf
24. The Guilt of Aaron in the Children of Israel Worshipping the Calf
25. Was Jonah cast on the Desert Shore?
26. The Reference to the Injeel and the Time of Moses
27. Concerning the Food for the Inhabitants of Hell
28. Forgiveness for Slander of Chaste Women
29. How the Disbelievers will recieve their record on Judgement Day
30. Can Angels Disobey? - The case of Iblis
31. Can Angels Disobey? - The case of Harut and Marut
32. Angel Gabriel and the 'Holy Spirit'
33. Confirming the Old Revelation or Substituting it
34. The Qur'an's Pure Arabic and the Presence of Foreign Words
35. The Qur'an being contained in the Earlier Revelations
36. Lot's Wife being called "An Old Woman"
37. The Response of Lot's Nation to His Call
38. Is the Punishment and Mercy of Allah Arbitrary?
39. Did Abraham Smash The Idols?
40. The Fate of Noah's Family
41. Was Noah Driven Out?

Most of them have already been answered, and most are very silly. I'll get around to refuting them insha'Allah. Until then, I encourage other members to have a go at them.

Good resources:


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Ansar Al-'Adl
02-06-2005, 08:37 PM
These also answer them:

Ansar Al-'Adl
02-06-2005, 09:50 PM
The Inheritance Laws in the Qur'an

Concerning the first contradiction:
And it just doesn't add up: Sura 4:11-12 and 4:176 state the Qur'anic inheritance law. When a man dies, and is leaving behind three daughters, his two parents and his wife, they will receive the respective shares of 2/3 for the 3 daughters together, 1/3 for the parents together [both according to verse 4:11] and 1/8 for the wife [4:12] which adds up to more than the available estate. A second example: A man leaves only his mother, his wife and two sisters, then they receive 1/3 [mother, 4:11], 1/4 [wife, 4:12] and 2/3 [the two sisters, 4:176], which again adds up to 15/12 of the available property.
The inheritance law has been explained in great detail here and in the articles on this contradiction found here.

The verses mentioned are the following:
4:11-12 Allah (thus) directs you as regards your Children's (Inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females; if only daughters, two or more, their share is two-thirds of the inheritance; if only one, her share is a half. For parents, a sixth share of the inheritance to each, if the deceased left a child; if no child, and the parents are the (only) heirs, the mother has a third; if the deceased left brothers (or sisters) the mother has a sixth. The distribution in all cases (is) after the payment of legacies and debts. Ye know not whether your parents or your children are nearest to you in benefit. These are settled portions ordained by Allah; and Allah is All-knowing, All-wise.
In what your wives leave, your share is a half, if they leave no child; but if they leave a child, ye get a fourth; after payment of legacies and debts. In what ye leave, their share is a fourth, if ye leave no child; but if ye leave a child, they get an eighth; after payment of legacies and debts. If the man or woman whose inheritance is in question, has left neither ascendants nor descendants, but has left a brother or a sister, each one of the two gets a sixth; but if more than two, they share in a third; after payment of legacies and debts; so that no loss is caused (to any one). Thus is it ordained by Allah. and Allah is All-knowing, Most Forbearing.

4:176 They ask thee for a legal decision. Say: Allah directs (thus) about those who leave no descendants or ascendants as heirs. If it is a man that dies, leaving a sister but no child, she shall have half the inheritance: If (such a deceased was) a woman, who left no child, Her brother takes her inheritance: If there are two sisters, they shall have two-thirds of the inheritance (between them): if there are brothers and sisters, (they share), the male having twice the share of the female. Thus doth Allah make clear to you (His law), lest ye go astray. And Allah hath knowledge of all things.

1. The first major point to note is that there are two types of inheritors. The first category are those who have recieved a fixed inheritance, which includes the spouse and the parents. The second category includes those who take their share AFTER the shares of the first category are distributed. This includes siblings and children.

So if we understand this, we know that the parents and the wife would recive their amount, and the daughters would get a share of what remains. This explanation on its own solves the problem, because:
-1/3 for the parents together
-1/8 for the wife
-And for the daughters 2/3 of what remains = 2/3 of 13/24=13/36 of the total amount

So what remains after is 13/72 of the original amount. This remaining portion is to be given to whoever the deceased person appointed as their heir. The deceased can choose to have it given in charity or to the local masjid etc. If they have not specified any destination for the remaining wealth then it is given to the closest male relative.

After understanding this, it become clear that the allegation is based on ignorance of the fact that siblings and children get the remaining wealth after the parents and spouse have taken their share. Islamic rulings come from both the Qur'an and the Sunnah.

2. Let us now address the specific claims. The first claim is that 2/3 (daughters) +1/3 (parents) +1/8 (wife) will add up to more than available. But the truth is that the Qur'an does not specify what the parents and the wife will recieve if there are three daughters. The Qur'an states that the parents get 1/6 each if the deceased left a child. And the wife gets 1/8 if the deceased left a child. Both times it is singular, but in the proposed scenario, there are three daughters, not one.
Some confusion may have caused this misunderstanding because in some translations, the word walad (child) is mistranslated as children. But in most translations like Pickthall, Asad, Shakir, Daryabadi, Irving, etc. the word has been correctly translated in the singular form.

3. The second claim is that 1/3 (mother) + 1/4 (wife) + 2/3 (two sisters) also adds up to more than available. Again, one of the shares being used is not mentioned in the Qur'an. The number 2/3 is derived from verse 4:176, which speaks of a Kalalah, a man who leaves no descendants nor ascendants. In other words, the mother's share is not mentioned in this scenario. Verse 4:176 is for the deceased who does not have any children nor parents. So the problem is once again, confusing values from different scenarios.

4. One may also object that in the case of a deceased with no descendants nor ascendants, verse 4:12 appears to allocate 1/6 of the wealth to the brother and sister each (or 1/3 together), while verse 4:176 gives 2/3 to the same group in the same scenario. The first point that may be mentioned in response to this is that verse 4:12 speaks of a brother and a sister, while verse 4:176 speaks of two sisters and no brothers. So again, this is a confusion of two different cases. Secondly, there is a prevalent interpretation mentioned in the tafsir that verse 4:12 speaks of a brother and sister from the mother, while verse 4:176 speaks of full siblings. It is mentioned by Ibn Kathir commenting on verse 4:12:
Allah says,
(But has left a brother or a sister), meaning, from his mother's side, as some of the Salaf stated, including Sa`d bin Abi Waqqas. Qatadah reported that this is the view of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq.
Hence, this was how it was explained by Prophet Muhammad to his companions, and his Sunnah is a source of rulings in Islam. Some commentators take the view that verse 4:12 gives instructions on the inheritance for others that the deceased may nominate.

5. The last point that needs to be mentioned here is in regards to the inheritance of women in comparison to men. Many may wonder why the womna recives half of that given to the man. The answer has been provided by muslim scholars. Ibn Kathir explains in his tafsir:
The people of Jahiliyyah used to give the males, but not the females, a share in the inheritance. Therefore, Allah commands that both males and females take a share in the inheritance, although the portion of the males is twice as much as that of the females. There is a distinction because men need money to spend on their dependants, commercial transactions, work and fulfillling their obligations. Consequently, men get twice the portion of the inheritance that females get.

Dr. Zakir Naik further elaborates:
In Islam a woman has no financial obligation and the economical responsibility lies on the shoulders of the man. Before a woman is married it is the duty of the father or brother to look after the lodging, boarding, clothing and other financial requirements of the woman. After she is married it is the duty of the husband or the son. Islam holds the man financially responsible for fulfilling the needs of his family. In order to do be able to fulfill the responsibility the men get double the share of the inheritance. For example, if a man dies and after giving the shares of other relatives, if the children (i.e one son and one daughter) inherit Rs. One Hundred and Fifty Thousand, the son will inherit One Hundred Thousand rupees and the daughter only Fifty Thousand rupees. Out of the one hundred thousand which the son inherits, as his duty towards his family, he may have to spend on them almost the entire amount or say about eighty thousand and thus he has a small percentage of inheritance, say about twenty thousand, left for himself. On the other hand, the daughter, who inherits fifty thousand, is not bound to spend a single penny on anybody. She can keep the entire amount for herself. Would you prefer inheriting one hundred thousand rupees and spending eighty thousand from it, or inheriting fifty thousand rupees and having the entire amount to yourself?

And an additional explanation is provided by Moiz Amjad:
The Qur'an says:
You know not who among your children and your parents are nearest to you in benefit. This is the law of Allah. Indeed Allah is wise, all knowing.

Obviously, the extent of help and co-operation which a person receives from his parents, children and other close relatives cannot, normally, be paralleled by any other association. Undoubtedly, the world has always considered the kins of a deceased as the rightful beneficiaries of the wealth that he leaves behind. But certain issues, in this regard, have always remained unresolved. For instance, who among the relatives is nearest with respect to the benefits he holds for the deceased, and how should the shares of inheritance be calculated on this basis. It is not that the human endeavour in this regard has fallen prey to lack of application, rather it is due to certain inherrent limitations of the human mind which have made this task beyond its reach. Love, hatred, prejudice and other emotions have made it very difficult for the human intellect to come to grips with this challenge. Consequently, the wise and the all knowing has Himself guided mankind in this regard to relieve them from the disorders which have originated and can originate on this account.

Thus, the basic principle on which the shares of the various relatives of the deceased have been assigned is the benefit that accrues or can accrue from these relations to the deceased.

After having examined the claims, we find that they are built on misunderstandings. The Qur'an does not address the cases mentioned, and the reason is because the Qur'an gives the general details, while the Prophet Muhammad's teachings go in more detail in explaining the Qur'anic concepts. If the reader requires further clarification, they may examine the articles provided at the start.


Ansar Al-'Adl
02-10-2005, 01:52 AM
The Number of Angels Speaking to Mary pbuh

Concerning the second alleged contradiction:
How many angels were talking to Mary? When the Qur'an speaks about the announciation of the birth of Jesus to the virgin Mary, Sura 3:42,45 speaks about (several) angels while it is only one in Sura 19:17-21.
There are many ways to explain these verses, and we shall examine some of them, insha'Allah.

The verses in question are the following:
From Suratul Imran:
3:42. And (remember) when the angels said: "O Mary! Verily, Allâh has chosen you, purified you (from polytheism and disbelief), and chosen you above the women of all nations."

3:43. O Mary! "Submit yourself with obedience to your Lord (Allâh, by worshipping none but Him Alone) and prostrate yourself, and bow down along with those who bow down etc.)."

3:44. This is a part of the news of the Ghaib (unseen, i.e. the news of the past nations of which you have no knowledge) which We inspire you with (O Muhammad ). You were not with them, when they cast lots with their pens as to which of them should be charged with the care of Maryam (Mary); nor were you with them when they disputed.

3:45. (Remember) when the angels said: "O Maryam (Mary)! Verily, Allâh gives you the glad tidings of a Word ["Be!" - and he was! i.e.Jesus the son of Mary] from Him, his name will be the Messiah Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and in the Hereafter, and will be one of those who are near to Allâh."

3:46. "He will speak to the people in the cradle and in manhood, and he will be one of the righteous."

3:47. She said: "O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me." He said: "So (it will be) for Allâh creates what He wills. When He has decreed something, He says to it only: "Be!" and it is.

And from Sura Maryam:
19:17. She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them; then We sent to her Our Ruh [angel Jibrael (Gabriel)], and he appeared before her in the form of a man in all respects.

19:18. She said: "Verily! I seek refuge with the Most Beneficent (Allâh) from you, if you do fear Allâh."

19:19. (The angel) said: "I am only a Messenger from your Lord, (to announce) to you the gift of a righteous son."

19:20. She said: "How can I have a son, when no man has touched me, nor am I unchaste?"

19:21. He said: "So (it will be), your Lord said: 'That is easy for Me (Allâh): And (We wish) to appoint him as a sign to mankind and a mercy from Us (Allâh), and it is a matter (already) decreed, (by Allâh).' "

1. There is NO indication that these verses refer to the same event.

If we examine the Qur'anic verses we can come up with an interpretation of the chronological order of events.

a. The angels announced to Mary pbuh the glad tidings of Jesus pbuh without giving any further details. (verse 3:45)

b. After the angels depart, Mary pbuh expresses her surprise in her prayer to God. (verse 3:47). The verse makes it clear that she is no longer talking to the angels because she says, "My Lord.."

c. An angel sent by God informs her that God is able to do all things (verse 3:47, "So (it will be) for Allâh creates what He wills.")

d. After a period of time, Angel Gabriel is sent by God, and appears personally before Mary to inform her of the birth of Jesus pbuh (verse 19:19).

e. Here she asks the Angel directly (verse 19:20) how it is possible for her to have a child. And the Angel Gabriel replies as seen in verse 19:21.

The basis of this explanation is the usage of the words yubashiroke in Sura Al-Imran which means to give glad tidings of a coming event. On the other hand, the verse in Sura Maryam uses the wordsle ahaba lake which means to "present you with", implying that the event is to happen there.

An objection raised to this explanation is that Mary must be forgetful if she asks the same question having already recieved the answer. This is not necessarily the case. An event so surprising and unusual as this would easily explain her persistence in trying to understand how this is possible. Often people may be so bewildered by some news that they may repeat their inquiry in their surpirse, and that is not unusual.

2. Another simple and logical explanation that can be offered is that the it is not uncommon for the action of a single member of an organization to be attributed to the whole organization. In a hockey match, we may say that so-and-so scored the final goal, or we could say that such-and-such a team scored the final goal. It would not be a contradiction. So when Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and he gave her the glad tidings of a son, the action may be attributed to the angels, whether they were present or not, visible or not. This interpretation is supported by verse 3:47, which says that Mary asked how it could be possible and he (Angel Gabriel) replied, and not they (angels).

3. Another way to understand the verses is to examine a similar verse of the Qur'an:

41:30. In the case of those who say, "Our Lord is Allah., and, further, stand straight and steadfast, the angels descend on them (from time to time): "Fear ye not!" (they suggest), "Nor grieve! but receive the Glad Tidings of the Garden (of Bliss), the which ye were promised!

Here we are told that those who stand firm in Islam will have angels surrounding them and telling them not to fear. Obviously, this does not mean that the righteous people expect to hear these voices speaking to them, but rather it is the general feeling of peace and good inspired into the righteous person by these angels. The presence and words of the angels invoke a feeling of security.

Likewise, when we read the first passage about Mary, the angels speaking to her may just have been a general inspiration or notion that she would bear a child, and she continually wondered to Allah, as to how this was possible. And the answer given in 3:47 is Allah's answer inspired to her through the angels in the same fashion. Naturally, when the event was to occur and the Angel Gabriel physically appeared to her in the form of a man, she would voice this same concern to verify the inspiration she had been recieving.

Each of these three explanations is sufficient to answer the allegation.


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Ansar Al-'Adl
02-28-2005, 09:40 PM
On The Length of God's Days

Concerning the third alleged contradiction:
Does Allah's day equal to 1,000 human years (Sura 22:47, 32:5) or 50,000 human years (Sura 70:4)?
Verses in question:

22:47 Yet they ask thee to hasten on the Punishment! But Allah will not fail in His Promise. Verily a Period with thy Lord is like a thousand years of your reckoning.

This verse states that Allah has already decreed the coming of the punishment. And a period in the sight of Allah is like a thousand years of our reckoning.

We should also mention that in this first verse when it speaks of the length of a period with God, this does not mean that God experiences time as we do, simply on a larger scale. Rather, it refers to the measure of a specific period, for God is eternal and does not experience time. Otherwise, one would claim that a million years feels like a thousand years to God, which is obviously not true. This is just a mention of the length of a period that God has determined the universe to operate in. Alternatively, it may be a reference to the slow passing of time near God, relative to the rest of the universe.

32:5 He rules (all) affairs from the heavens to the earth: then will (all affairs) ascend to Him, in a Period, the space whereof will be (as) a thousand years of your reckoning.

This verse mentions that the affairs/commands of God descend to earth and return to Him, this period being one thousand years of our reckoning again. This period could mean that the interval of time for God to send commands to earth is 1000 years. Alternatively, it may refer to the laws of science, which govern the universe and the period it takes for them to return.

70:4 The angels and the spirit ascend unto him in a Period the measure whereof is (as) fifty thousand years

This verse states that the angels and the Ruh (spirit/Angel Gabriel) ascends to Him in a period of fifty thousand years.

Concerning the allegation, we shall offer multiple explanations for these verses, each being sufficient to refute the allegation on its own.

1. It can clearly be seen that the verses are not discussing the same thing. The first verses talks about a day in God's sight, the second talks about the time for affairs/orders to return to God, and the last one speaks of the period when angels will ascend to Him. Also, notice how verse 70:4 never mentions human years/reckoning. The arabic phrase mimaa ta'udoon is absent, which leaves human beings to ponder over it. Seeing as none of these verses refer to the same thing, it cannot possibly be considered a contradiction.
One objection is that all verses refer to a day in God's sight. On what basis do they conclude that? The verses simply state the length's of periods and only the first one refers to a period in God's sight.
Another objection is that the commands are brought by Angels, therefore 70:4 and 32:5 are referring to the same thing. This is only an assumption. Verse 70:4 does not necessarily state the period of time it takes for the angels to ascend, but it states that they ascend during a period of 50 000 years. The commands may be totally independent of the angels in these verses, as was the case with the interpretation of the affairs as the laws of science. In addition, even if we agree that the affairs are taken by angels, there is no way of knowing if the angels referred to in 70:4 are the same that transport the affairs. Based on these reasons, the objection is dismissed.

2. The earliest muslim scholars responded to this question as well. It was reported by Ibn Abi Haatim via Sammaak from ‘Ikrimah from Ibn ‘Abbaas: the day of a thousand years mentioned in Soorat al-Hajj (22) is one of the six days in which Allaah created the heavens and the earth; the day of a thousand years mentioned in Soorat al-Sajdah (32) is the length of time it takes for a matter to go up to Allaah; and the day of fifty thousand years is the Day of Resurrection.
The angels do not need to take 50 000 years to ascend to God. They may do so in the twinkling of an eye. In this manner, verse 70:4 may be taken as referring to a future event (the Day of resurrection). As stated before, 70:4 does not necessarily mean that the angels will take 50 000 years to ascend to God, but they may ascend to God during a period that is 50 000 years in length.
One may point out that if 22:47 is taken as a day of creation, then the total period of creation would be only 6000 years, contradicting scientific research. This is not necessarily true as the verses says a Day INDA your Lord, meaning near your Lord. As we know from the General Theory of Relativity, time passes at a slower rate near more massive objects (those with a stronger gravitational field), and therefore time passes slower at God's throne than on Earth.

3. Another interpretation is that what is meant by the verses the Day of Resurrection, and the difference in the time span depends on whether a person is a believer or a disbeliever. This is indicated by the verse:
74:9-10 Truly that Day will be a Hard Day, far from easy for the disbelievers. This suggestion was mentioned by As-Suyootee, the author of al-Itqaan, along with the previous explanation.

4. If one insists that these verses refer to the same thing, we can take a scientific explanation. Is it possible that one day can be equal to 1000 years, and another can be equal to 50,000 years because time is relative, and it depends on the speed of moving objects relative to each other. The faster the object the larger the time difference. Which means that the angels and the spirit are faster than the affairs/orders in their ascensions.

5. The following site also analyzes these very same Qur'anic verses with some astonishing findings:
According to this article, verse 32:5 relates the velocity of the angels who carry the command, while verse 70:4 relates the specific time period. When we analyze these verses with the appropriate mathematical formulae, we are able to calculate the speed of the angels (who are made of light), which is almost identical to the speed of light!
Verse 32:5 has been translated as:
(Allah) Rules the cosmic affair from the heavens to the Earth. Then this affair travels to Him a distance in one day, at a measure of one thousand years of what you count
And verse 70:4 has been translated as:
The angels and the Spirit ascend to Him in a day, the measure of which is fifty thousand years.
And both translations are acceptable and accurate.

We have now provided the reader with 5 different explanations for this verses. They may choose whichever one they wish.


Ansar Al-'Adl
03-10-2005, 01:46 AM
The Number of Gardens in Paradise

Concerning the fourth alleged contradiction:
How many gardens are there in paradise? ONE [as stated in 39:73, 41:30, 57:21, 79:41] or MANY [18:31, 22:23, 35:33, 78:32]?
Before we explain this allegation, we will quote a few of the verses in question.

39:73 And those who feared their Lord will be led to the Garden in crowds: until behold, they arrive there; its gates will be opened; and its keepers will say: "Peace be upon you! well have ye done! enter ye here, to dwell therein."

18:31 For them will be Gardens of Eternity; beneath them rivers will flow; they will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold, and they will wear green garments of fine silk and heavy brocade: They will recline therein on raised thrones. How good the recompense! How beautiful a couch to recline on!

The answer to this may have already become obvious to the reader.

Nevertheless, we shall briefly summarise the explanations on this verse.

1. Paradise is one large garden offered as a reward for the believers, composed of many individual gardens within it.

2. If we look at the way the question is phrased, we note that it says, "How many gardens are there in paradise?" Since the actual arabic word used for 'garden' is 'Jannah', which can also be used for 'paradise', the question is exactly the same as if one were to ask, "How many gardens are there in the garden?", thus lending more support to the first explanation.

3. Jannah is used in the Qur'an as a generic noun, referring to paradise, which is composed of many individual gardens. This is as if one were to say, "The computer is a great invention". By this we understand that the statement is not referring specifically to any one computer, but is rather a reference to all computers oin general.


Ansar Al-'Adl
03-18-2005, 03:16 AM
The Number of Groups on the Day of Resurrection

Concerning the fifth alleged contradiction:
According to Sura 56:7 there will be THREE distinct groups of people at the Last Judgement, but 90:18-19, 99:6-8, etc. mention only TWO groups
The verses in question:
56:7 And ye shall be sorted out into three classes.

90:18-19 Such are the Companions of the Right Hand. 90:19 But those who reject Our Signs, they are the (unhappy) Companions of the Left Hand.

99:6-8 On that Day will men proceed in companies sorted out, to be shown the deeds that they (had done). Then shall anyone who has done an atom's weight of good, see it! And anyone who has done an atom's weight of evil, shall see it.

Verse 56:7 describes three groups and the Chapter goes on to mention that they are 1. The elite/closest ones 2. The companions of the right hand and 3. the companions of the left hand.

So there are a few points that can be raised to refute this alleged contradiction.
1. The only verse which specifies the number of groups is 56:7. Verses 90:18-19 do not mention the number of groups but only describe two of them. How then can this be considered a contradiction? It is as though I told someone that I have three bedrooms in my house and later on I told them that the bedroom on the right is large and the bedroom on the left is small. Does my not mentioning the third bedroom constitute a contradiction?

2. The elite are a subgroup of the companions of the right. They are mentioned seperately in Chapter 56 to distinguish between those foremost in performing good deeds. This usually occurs when the subset of a group is so distinct from other elements in the group that it can effectively be categorized on its own.
An example is when we commonly differentiate between humans, plants and animals. We often mentions humans seperately from animals, because of the great differences between humans and other animal species. But as we know, humans are merely one species of the Kingdom Animalia, which contains many other species of animals. But because humans are so distinct from the other species, we often categorize them seperately.

3. Lastly, it is the style of the Qur'an to mention some groups seperately for emphasis.
2:98 Whoever is an enemy to Allah and His angels and apostles, to Gabriel and Michael,- Lo! Allah is an enemy to those who reject Faith.
This verse mentions Angle Gabriel and Angel Michael seperately from the other angels, but we know that they are angels themselves. This is simply the Qur'anic style of emphasis.


Ansar Al-'Adl
03-19-2005, 09:59 PM
Who Takes the Soul at the Time of Death

Concerning the sixth alleged contradiction:
There are conflicting views on who takes the souls at death: THE Angel of Death [32:11], THE angels (plural) [47:27] but also "It is Allah that takes the souls (of men) at death." [39:42]
The verses in question are the following:
32:11 Say: "The Angel of Death, put in charge of you, will (duly) take your souls: then shall ye be brought back to your Lord."

47:27 But how (will it be) when the angels take their souls at death, and smite their faces and their backs?

39:42 It is Allah that takes the souls (of men) at death; and those that die not (He takes) during their sleep: those on whom He has passed the decree of death, He keeps back (from returning to life), but the rest He sends (to their bodies) for a term appointed verily in this are Signs for those who reflect.

There are some very simple points, which will explain this allegation.

1. Before we get into the specific explanations concerning the Angels, let us analyze the meaning of the last verse. It is obvious that Allah does not directly take the souls of a human, but rather the action is attributed to Him because everything happens by His command. The Angels cannot disobey God, hence their actions are the direct result of God's command. It is not unusual for an action to be attributed to the One in command. The angels are the tools of God.
For example, if a man writes a letter to a friend, and they ask, "Who sent this letter?" is the answer the mail man or the man who wrote the letter?

Often, actions done by an army are also attributed to the one in charge. For example, we can say that Hitler invaded Poland, even though he did not actually march in and attack Poland, but his army did it by his command.

2. Concerning the Angels, the narrations from the Prophet Muhammad indicate that the Angel of Death takes the soul of the deceased person and passes it to two other angels who accompany him. Thus, the Angel of Death takes the soul from the body, and the other angels take the soul from the angel of death and wrap it in a shroud.
This is similar to saying that the Police arrested a man, even though a single officer performed the arrest.
Another example is if there is a basketball game between two teams, and someone mentions that a certain team scored the final goal, even though it was a single player who actually scored that final goal.


Ansar Al-'Adl
03-23-2005, 10:20 PM
The Number of Wings on Angels

Regarding the seventh alleged contradiction,

Angels have 2, 3, or 4 pairs of wings [35:1]. But Gabriel had 600 wings. [Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Number 455]
Verse in question:
35:1 All the praises and thanks be to Allâh, the (only) Originator [or the (only) Creator] of the heavens and the earth, Who made the angels messengers with wings, - two or three or four. He increases in creation what He wills. Verily, Allâh is Able to do all things.

Narration in question:
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Number 455:

Narrated Abu Ishaq-Ash-Shaibani:

I asked Zir bin Hubaish regarding the Statement of Allah: "And was at a distance Of but two bow-lengths Or (even) nearer; So did (Allah) convey The Inspiration to His slave (Gabriel) and then he (Gabriel) Conveyed (that to Muhammad). (53.9-10) On that, Zir said, "Ibn Mas'ud informed us that the Prophet had seen Gabriel having 600 wings."

A number of points can be mentioned here:
1. The remaining part of the verse 35:1 says that Allah swt increases in creation what He wills. It is fascinating that the Qur'an answers the allegation someone might raise against this verse, in the verse itself. So while God creates Angels with two, three or four pairs of wings, He has the power to increase this further and is not restricted at all. This is the strongest interpretation and it is supported by Ibn Kathir (d. 1372CE) who says the following in his renowned Tafsir Al-Qur'an Al-Azim:
Among them (angels) are some who have two wings, some have three and some who have four. Some have more than that, as stated in the Hadith mentioning that the Messenger of Allah saw Jibril, peace be upon him, on the Night of the Isra with six hundred wings. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2000, vol. 8, p. 120)
So this is the meaning that has been understood by the earlier muslims from the beginning. As Mufti Muhammad Shafi, the late Grand Mufti of Pakistan, writes the following in his tafsir:
And the words: (in twos and threes and fours) are, evidently enough, numerical adjectives referring to (wings) in the sense that the number of the feathers angels have varies from angels to angel. Some have only two wings. Others have three. Still others have four. Even the numbers mentioned here are not comprehensive, rather they are mentioned here just as an example, because it is proven by a Hadith in Sahih of Muslim that Sayyidina Jibra'il (as), has six hundred feathers. (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).

Moreover, it is also possible that these three words are numerical adjectives referring to the word (rusulan: bearers of the message) in the sense that these angels who deliver messages from Allah Ta'ala to this world sometimes come in twos or threes or fours. Once again, in this situation too, the number of four is not intended for restriction. It is there just for example because the coming of angels in a much larger number stands proved from the Qur'an itself. (Abu Hayyan in Al-Bahr ul-Muhit).

The next sentence: (He adds to the creation what He wills) means that Allah Ta'ala has the power to increase whatever He wills and as much as He wills in the creation of everything He has originated. This obviously is related to: (ajnihah: wings) in that the feathers and wings of the angels are not something simply restricted to two or four in numbers, for they could be many more than these if Allah Ta'ala so wills. Most commentators say exactly this. (Ma'ariful Qur'an, Maktaba-e-Darul-Uloom, Karachi, 2003, vol. 7, pp. 322-323)

2. We know that human beings cannot see angels in their true form as they are created from light. Therefore, Angel Gabriel assumed an alternative form when the Prophet Muhammad pbuh saw him. This alternate form was described with 600 wings, but it may well be that Angel Gabriel normally assumes a form with less wings. This may have been a temporary state that Angel gabriel was in.

3. It must also be noted that Angel Gabriel is unique in many ways. The Qur'an often mentions him seperately from the other angels for emphasis, and he is referred to in the Qur'an as Ruh Al-Qudus, or the Holy Spirit (not to be confused with the entity bearing the same name from the Trinity). In this verse, Allah describes the Angels who fit into a group called "messengers". it may be that Gabriel is of a group of angels of a higher class.

These three points sufficiently explain this allegation against the Qur'an.


Ansar Al-'Adl
03-26-2005, 05:22 AM
The Number of Days Taken to Create the Universe

Concerning the eighth alleged contradiction:

Six or eight days of creation? Sura 7:54, 10:3, 11:7, and 25:59 clearly state that God created "the heavens and the earth" in six days. But in 41:9-12 the detailed description of the creation procedure adds up to eight days.
This one will require some more detail in the analysis and explanation.

The Qur'an clearly mentions that creation took place in six days:
7:54 Your Guardian-Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in six days...

Now let us examine the verses 41:9-12:

41:9. Say: "Do you verily disbelieve in Him Who created the earth in two Days and you set up rivals (in worship) with Him? That is the Lord of the Universe.

41:10. He set on the (earth), mountains standing firm, high above it, and bestowed blessings upon it, and measured therein its sustenance within four Days, for all those who ask (about its creation).

41:11. Thumma(Moreover/then), He turned towards the heaven when it was smoke, and said to it and to the earth: "Come both of you willingly or unwillingly." They both said: "We come, willingly."

41:12. So He completed them as seven firmaments in two Days, and He assigned to each heaven its duty and command. And We adorned the cosmic heaven with lights, and (provided it) with guard. Such is the Decree of (Him) the Exalted in Might, Full of Knowledge.

There are various explanations that can be given here:

1. The first explanation is the classical and most common one, but we shall elaborate upon it in greater detail. The classic scholars of the Qur'an have mentioned that the four days mentioned in verse 41:10 includes the two days mentioned in verse 41:9. This was the explanation provided by Al-Qurtubi, Al-Zajjaaj and Al-Baghawi. Indeed this is a very logical approach because there is no indication that verse 41:10 describes a period subsequent to that described in verse 41:9. Verse 41:9 is in the form of a question, while 41:10 explains the point further. It is logical that the development of mountains, the bestowment of blessings, and the measure of sustenance would denote the full development of the earth, including its period of creation mentioned in 41:9.
A similar example would be if one were to say, "I read the first chapter of that book in two days, and I finished the entire book in two weeks." Or if one were to say, "The teacher taught us the basics in two days, and we understood all the details within three weeks."
Obviously, in both cases, the second period of time can be taken to include the first period of time.
One objection that is raised to this explanation is that the second stage described in 41:10 presupposes the existence of the earth and therefore does not include its creation. Is this true? The indication of time in 41:10 is given by saying "fee four days". When fee is translated as within, then this period can clearly include the previous period describing the creation of the earth. As illustrated by the second example provided, understanding the details of a subject does entail understanding the basics, but this does not mean that the basics cannot be included in the second period of time if the preposition 'within' is used. So if it is said that we understood the basics in two days, and we understood the details within three weeks, even though the details requires the basics, the second period of time still includes the first period. Moreover, the period of time is connected to the measurement of sustenance, which does not need to occur after to the creation of the earth. Rather, it occurs during the earth's creation as well.

Another objection to this explanation is that it is scientifically innaccurate to say that the earth was formed before the heavens. This objection interprets the heavens in this verse to refer to outerspace, and claims that it is innacurate to say that it was only 'smoke' even after the earth was created. But these critics do not realize that the heaven in this passage refers to the atmosphere of the earth, as is indicated by the mentioning of the seven layers, and each with its own property or command (this description is explained here ). The term used for heaven in the Qur'an is As-Samaa. This basically denotes whatever is above or beyond the earth. Depending on the context of the verse, it can be taken to mean atmosphere of outerspace. In these verses, only after mentioning the atmosphere does verse 41:12 mention As-Samaa Ad-Dunyaa or what can be translated as the cosmic heaven. The cosmic heaven refers to outerspace while the heaven described in seven layers refers to the earth's atmosphere. So to answer this objection, any student of science knows that the atmosphere has developed greatly since the formation of the earth. The modern atmosphere is often referred to as the 'third atmosphere'. The first atmosphere that formed with the earth was very primitve and very different from our modern atmosphere. The original atmoshpere consisted of mainly helium and hydrogen, and was soon dissipated by the heat of the earth. The second atmosphere was formed after volcanic activity and primarily consisted of carbon dioxide and water vapor. There was some nitrogen but virtually no oxygen. So the development of the modern atmosphere was clearly after the creation of the earth, which is exactly as the verses state. Interestingly, the modern atmosphere also formed after the existence of early life and the abundance of rain, which Allah often describes as His blessings in the Qur'an. This is exactly as the Qur'an has stated in verses 41:9-12.

The above explanation is evidently the best and most logical. Nevertheless, we shall quote some other explanations given by muslims to allow the reader some choice in selecting the best refutation to this allegation.

2. The word yawm, which has been translated as day can also mean period. It has been explained thoroghly by Moiz Amjad in his article entitled The Length of God's Days. If we understand yawm as period, there can be no contradiction because the same action can be measured in different periods of time. Here Allah is providing the details on the stages in the development of the earth and the rest of the universe. These verses demonstrate the design and wisdom in nature, and the bounties Allah has favoured us with. Therefore, Allah has chosen to mention the periods seperately in more detail.

3. The third explanation does not say that the second period includes the first, but instead argues that the last period (mentioned in 41:11-12) of two days, occurs simultaneously in relation to the first two periods. Therefore, the earth was created in two days simultaneously with the creation of the heaven, then the mounatins and blessings were added in four days, adding to a total of six days. This explanation translates thumma as moreover instead of then. In other words, the period described in 4:11 is not subsequent to the previous verses, but rather it occurs parallel to the creation of the earth in 4:9. The meaning of Thumma is explained very well by Moiz Amjad in his article entitled The Meaning of "Thumma" & "Yawm". Critics argue that when it says God turned towards the heaven, this implies a sequential act. But this is not entirely true, as God could have turned to the heaven at any point in the past, not necessarily after the creation of the heavens.

4. A similar explanation to the above is that the two days taken to create the heavens are not to be added to the previous days. This argument does not debate the meaning of thumma but instead argues that nowhere in the passage does God mention the creation of the heavens. It only mentions the further development of the heavens. So this can either be taken to refer to the atmosphere or outerspace, as both are compatible with this description. In other words, the earth was created as described in 41:9-10, and the creation of the heaven is not mentioned at all in this passage. The passage only mentions the further perfection and development of the heavens, indicating that they were created while the process described in 41:9-10 was going on. This explanation is also sufficient to explain the allegation.

Before finishing with this allegation, there is still another issue to comment on. Some people have inquired about a hadith found in Sahih Muslim that describes the order of creation. Concerning this hadith, it is sufficient to quote a fatwa from IslamToday.com:
As for the hadîth in Muslim, it reads:
Allah created the dust on Saturday. He created the mountains on Sunday. He created the trees on Monday. He created the despised things on Tuesday. He created the light on Wednesday. He scattered the beasts throughout it on Thursday. He created Adam (peace be upon him) in the late afternoon on Friday as the last creation on the last hour of Friday, between the late afternoon and the night.
There are numerous criticisms against it.

Al-Bukhârî writes in al-Târâkh al-Kabîr:
“Some of them have said that it is from Abû Hurayrah who took it from Ka`b al-Ahbâr. This is the most correct view.”
Ibn Kathîr, in his commentary of the Qur’ân writes:
This hadîth is one of the unusual hadîth found in Sahîh Muslim. `Alî al-Madînî, al-Bukhârî, and a number of other leading scholars of hadîth have criticized it, saying that it is the statement of Ka`b and that Abû Hurayrah merely heard it from Ka`b al-Ahbar and some narrators merely got confused and attributed it to the Prophet (peace be upon him). This has been thoroughly researched by al-Bayhaqî.
Ibn Taymiyah comments:
“It is a defective hadîth. It has been declared defective by more than a few scholars.” [Majmû` al-Fatâwâ (17/236)]
Moreover, regarding the text itself, al-Qurtubî points out in his commentary on Sahîh Muslim that the text does not convey its meaning with sufficient coherence. He writes in al-Mufhim:
This hadîth has been related in other sources besides Sahîh Muslim with various conflicting narrations. In some of them the Earth is created on Sunday and Monday while the mountains are created on Tuesday and the trees, rivers, and inhabitants are created on Wednesday, and the Sun, Moon, stars, and angels created on Thursday, and Adam on Friday. These are single-narrator hadîth that conflict with one another and do not provide any practical instruction. We must not rely upon them in determining the order of appearance of created things during those days.
What he is saying is that even if we regard the hadîth as authentic – as a number of scholars do – there remains the problem that there is too much incoherence in its many conflicting narrations to provide evidence for the order of events.

And Allah knows best.

Fatwâ Department Research Committee of IslamToday chaired by Sheikh `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî
The above fatwa clarifies that the narration is not only defective but that it contains other points which are inconsistent with similar narrations. As far as the text of the narration itself is concerned, since we know that the arabic term yawm can refer to either a day or a period of time, then the only point in the narration which would appear to conflict with science is the saying that light was created on the fourth day. Concerning this part of the narration, it is interesting to read the commentary of Sahih Muslim written by Imaam Abu Zakariyya An-Nawawi (d. 1300CE):
The Messenger's Saying (peace be upon him): "And He created light (ar. Noor) on the fourth day"

This is how it has been narrated in Sahih Muslim as noor but in the transmission of Thabit ibn Qaasim it says noon with the letter 'Nûn' at the end. Al-Qaadi said "It refers to the fish". (Saheeh Muslim Bi-Sharh An-Nawawi, 4997)
This seems to suggest the creation of aquatic life before that of humans.

The above discussion should clear any confusion regarding the account of creation in the Qur'an and in the hadith.

Ansar Al-'Adl
04-01-2005, 08:55 PM
Was Creation Quick or Slow?

Concerning the ninth alleged contradiction,
Quick or Slow Creation? Allah creates the heavens and the earth in six days [7:54] and many Muslims want to be modern and scientific, and make that six eons, but then again, He creates instantaneously [2:117], "Be! And it is".
Verses in question:

7:54 Your Guardian-Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and is firmly established on the throne...

2:117 To Him is due the primal origin of the heavens and the earth: When He decreeth a matter, He saith to it: "Be," and it is.

Most people would not consider this a contradiction and even the author of the list himself indicates that he would not be surprised to see an easy reconciliation.

There are a number of points we can mention in this regard.

1. Kun Fayakun, which has been translated as "Be and it is" (or Be and it happens) does not necessarily refer to instantaneous creation. As it has been explained rather nicely in this article, it simply specifies the certainty of the result and not necessarily the instantaneous nature. Proof of this lies in the passage that we have discussed before:

3:47. She said: "O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me." He said: "So (it will be) for Allâh creates what He wills. When He has decreed something, He says to it only: "Be!" and it is.

Mary wonders at how she shall give birth to a child and the answer given is Kun Fayakun. Obviously, this is not referring to an instant process but rather a gradual process.

2. Even if we wish to take Kun Fayakun as instantaneous, it could imply the instantaneous initiation of a creation, it does not need to refer to the instantaneous completion of a creation.

3. Although the alleged contradiction has been adequately answered, one may still wonder why God would create the heavens and the earth in 6 periods, if He has the potential to create them immediately, which He obviously does. There are a number of points we can mention in response to this. Allah is Almighty and there is infinite wisdom in everything that He chooses to do, and He has mentioned the creation in six periods in the Qur'an. We may not understand the wisdom behind a certain event, but we may contemplate some possibilites. Following asre some possible reasons:

a) Allah may have intended to show His creation the importance of planning and design. The gradual development of our surrounding environment is a sign of God and a token of His mercy.

b) Performing an action in a short time is more indicative of power, while a longer period is more indicative of wisdom.

c) Ibn Al-Jawzi (d. 1200CE) provided various reasons, one being: Creation was accomplished step by step, lest anyone think that this happened as the result of an accident of nature. (Zaad al-Maseer (3/162))

One may also check here for a more detailed explanation.


Ansar Al-'Adl
04-01-2005, 09:59 PM
Which was Created first, the Heavens or the Earth?

Concerning the tenth alleged contradiction:
Heavens or Earth? Which was created first? First earth and then heaven [2:29], heaven and after that earth [79:27-30].
Verses in question:
2:29 He it is Who created for you all that is on earth. Then He ascended towards the heaven and made them seven heavens and He is the All-Knower of everything.

79:27-31. Are you more difficult to create, or is the heaven that He constructed? He raised its height, and He has equally ordered it, Its night He covers with darkness, and its forenoon He brings out (with light). And after that He spread the earth; And brought forth therefrom its water and its pasture...

1. At first sight, it may seem as though these verses contradict because 2:29 mentions the earth before the heavens, while in 79:27-21, the situation is reversed. However, on closer inspection, we discover some significant differences:
A) 2:29 mentions the development of the heavens into seven layers, not their initial creation which is described in 79:27-31.
B) 2:29 describes the creation of the earth and its features while 79:27-31 only descibres the spreading of the earth
Thus, based on the two verses we know two things:
1. The creation of the earth preceded the formation of the heavens into seven layers
2. The creation of the heavens preceded the 'spreading' of the earth.
And a third point is logically concluded from the above:
3. The creation of the heavens preceded their formation into seven layers
However, it is not know from the verses whether the creation of the heavens preceded the creation of the earth or vice versa, or whether they occured simultaneously. Some Qur'anic commentators took one view while others took another. What we do know is that the heavens and the earth were created and then subsequently the earth was spread and the heavens formed into seven layers. This interpretation is supported by the classical commentaries of the Qur'an. As Imaam Abu Abdullah Al-Qurtubi (d. 1273CE) states in his monumental Al-Jaami` le Ahkaam al-Qur'an when giving his opinion on the Qur'anic description:
I believe that what Qatada said is sound Allah willing: that Allah first created the smoke of heaven and then created the earth and directed Himself to heaven, which was smoke and [He] arranged it and then He smoothed out the earth. (Tafsir Al-Qurtubi Classical Commentary of the Holy Qur'an, Dar Al-Taqwa Ltd. 2003, vol. 1, p.200, emphasis added)
Imaam Ibn Kathir Ad-Damishqi (d. 1372CE) also distinguishes between the different stages in his renowned Tafsir Al-Qur'an Al-Azim, while presenting a slightly different view:
It already has been mentioned previously in [the Tafsir of] Surat Ha Mim As-Sajdah that the earth was created before the heaven was created, but it was only spread out after the creation of the heaven. This means that He brought out what was in it with a forceful action. This is the meaning of what was said by Ibn Abbas and others, and it was the explanation preferred by Ibn Jarir [At-Tabari (d. 923CE)] (fn. At-Tabari 24:208). (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2000, vol. 10, p. 350, emphasis added)
Thus, the commentators are agreed that the difference in verse 2:29 and verses 79:27-31 relates to the different stages in the creation of the heavens and the earth, with the earth's 'spreading' occurring after the creation of the heavens and the development of the heavens occurring after the creation of the earth. The commentators only differ regarding the creation of the earth preceding the creation of the heavens, or vice versa, or if they were both created simultaneously.

Scientific research describes the creation and formation of the earth in the following stages:
Differentiation in the first few 100's of millions of years led to the formation of the core and the mantle and a crust, and initiated the escape of gases from the moving interior that eventually led to the formation of the atmosphere and oceans.
The earliest Earth was probably an unsorted conglomeration, mostly of silicon compounds, iron and magnesium oxides, and smaller amounts of all the natural elements. It became increasingly hotter as the protoplanet grew.
...After loss of the hydrogen, helium and other hydrogen-containing gases from early Earth due to the Sun's radiation, primitive Earth was devoid of an atmosphere. The first atmosphere was formed by outgassing of gases trapped in the interior of the early Earth, which still goes on today in volcanoes.
For the Early Earth, extreme volcanism occurred during differentiation, when massive heating and fluid-like motion in the mantle occurred. It is likely that the bulk of the atmosphere was derived from degassing early in the Earth's history.
...Lava flowing from the partially molten interior spread over the surface and solidified to form a thin crust. This crust would have melted and solidified repeatedly, with the lighter compounds moving to the surface. This is called differentiation. Weathering by rainfall broke up and altered the rocks. The end result of these processes was a continental land mass, which would have grown over time. The most popular theory limits the growth of continents to the first two billion years of the Earth. (SOURCE)
The above description informs us that the earth was initially one mass and through differentiation and volcanic out-gassing, the early atmosphere formed. Then, cooling of the earth resulted in the formation of land mass.
These descriptions concur with the Qur'anic desciption that the earth (2:29) and the heaven (79:27) were created and were originally one mass and then seperated (verse 21:30), the heavens were then developed into seven layers (verse 2:29) and the earth's crust was later spread out (79:30). The last description may be a reference to the cooling of the earth's crust, or it may be a reference to continental drift.
Thus, we find that the Qur'an does not contradict itself here, but instead contains accurate details regarding the formation of the earth in the stages.

2. According to an alternative interpretation, verse 2:29 is rendered as follows:
He is the One who created for you all that's inside earth (Matter), then turned to the sky and perfected seven universes therein, and He is fully aware of all things.
Therefore, verse 2:29 is taken to refer to the creation of the universe and it is not the creation of the earth being described here, but rather what is in the earth, or matter. And verse 79:30 is referring to the spreading of the earth, which has been defined before.

3. A third explanation argues on the understanding of thumma, which does not always indicate sequential order. The meaning of Thumma is explained very well by Moiz Amjad in his article entitled The Meaning of "Thumma" & "Yawm". Therefore, when verse 2:29 says that Allah created the earth and thumma He turned to the heavens, this could also be read as "Furthermore He turned to the heavens" which does not necessarily imply that the creation of the heavens is after the creation of earth. Critics argue that when it says God turned towards the heaven, this implies a sequential act. But this is not entirely true, as God could have turned to the heaven at any point in the past, not necessarily after the creation of the heavens. This point is emphasized in the classical tafsirs as well. Imaam Qurtubi writes:
In His words "then directed", the word "then" is simply a narrative aid and does not imply any time sequence in the matetrs referred to. (Tafsir Al-Qurtubi Classical Commentary of the Holy Qur'an, Dar Al-Taqwa Ltd. 2003, vol. 1, p.199)
Similarly, Imaam Ibn Kathir writes:
It is said that "Then" in the Ayah (2:29) relates only to the order of reciting the information being given, it does not relate to the order that the events being mentioned took place, this was reported from Ibn 'Abbas by 'Ali bin Abi Talhah. (fn. At-Tabari 1:437). (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2000, vol. 1, p. 180)
Thus, this explanation is not in conflict with the traditional understanding of the earier Muslims.
From the above points, it should be clear that these verses do not in any way constitute a contradiction.


Ansar Al-'Adl
04-07-2005, 08:49 PM
Were the Heavens and the Earth called together, or ripped apart for Creation?

Concerning the eleventh alleged contradiction:
Calling together or ripping apart? In the process of creation heaven and earth were first apart and are called to come together [41:11], while 21:30 states that they were originally one piece and then ripped apart.
Let us first read the verses in question:
41:11 Moreover He comprehended in His design the sky, and it had been (as) smoke: He said to it and to the earth: "Come both of you, willingly or unwillingly." They said: "We do come (together), in willing obedience."

21:30 Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation), before we clove them asunder? We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?

Simply by taking a quick look at the verses, one already begins to see that these verses do not pose a contradiction at all. Furthermore, it there is a lack of scientific knowledge displayed by the author of this allegation, as we shall see.

1. These verses are not referring to the same concept at all. Let us examine the two different concepts of astronomy involved here:
a)From research in astronomy, human beings have begun to understand a concept known as the Big Bang, which describes the origin of the universe. Verse 21:30 is widely held by Muslim scholars to refer to the Big Bang, when the universe was initially combined as a primary nebula and then exploded leading to the formation of various galaxies etc. (This scientific miracle is described here and here). With this mind, the Qur'an is actually very accurate in describing the initial union of all creation before being split.

b)The concept of the Big Bang is very different from the concept of accretion of cosmic dust. The latter describes the formation of stars and planets throught the condensation or 'coming together' of matter in space. Verse 41:11 is generally taken by Muslim scholars to refer to the collection of cosmic dust into the various celestial bodies present today, specifically the heavens and the earth. Perhaps the misunderstanding arises from interpreting the heavens in this verse to be another reference to the universe as a whole. But as we have already explained, this is not the case. The word as-samaa simply describes what is above, and in this case simply refers to the immediate atmosphere of the earth. Verse 41:11 is described in greater detail here and well as here.

2. Verse 21:30 can also be taken to refer to the earth's atmposphere as well, without any conflict. If one considers the formation and development of earth, the original atmosphere was blended together with the Earth and only became seperate in its second stage. Hence, verse 21:30 is very accurate in describing the heavens and the earth as initially joined together before being cloven asunder, either by volcanic out-gassing or cometary impacts. According to this interpretation, verse 41:11 would be chronologically before verse 21:30.

3. An additional point can be made about the phrases used in verse 41:11. When the verse mentions that the heavens and the earth were ordered to come, this does not necessarily imply that they actually came together and merged. Other verses of the Qur'an used the same phrase:
37:83-84 And verily, among those who followed his (Noah's) path was Abraham. When he came to his Lord with a pure heart.
It is obviously understood that Abraham did not come to his Lord physically, but rather in terms of submission and obedience. Hence, this verse could simply be taken as God asking the heavens and the earth to submit to His will, either voluntarily or involuntarily. From this linguistic perspective, there is also no conflict between this verse and 21:30.

These explanations sufficiently demonstrate how these verses cannot be considered a contradiction in any way.


Ansar Al-'Adl
04-13-2005, 01:22 AM
The Time Taken to Destroy the Aad

Concerning the twelfth alleged contradiction:
How many days did Allah need to destroy the people of Aad? One day [54:19] or several days [41:16; 69:6,7]
Verses in question:
54:19 For We sent against them a furious wind, on a Day of violent Disaster

41:16 So We sent against them a furious Wind through days of disaster, that We might give them a taste of a Penalty of humiliation in this life; but the Penalty of a Hereafter will be more humiliating still: and they will find no help.

69:6 And the 'Ad, they were destroyed by a furious Wind, exceedingly violent;
69:7 He made it rage against them seven nights and eight days in succession: so that thou couldst see the (whole) people lying prostrate in its (path), as they had been roots of hollow palm-trees tumbled down!

A number of points can be said in this regard:
1. One can very easily see that the day in the first verse has been understood to describe the day on which the violent storms were initiated, and not necessarily indicating the duration of the punishment.
The example of this, is that of one who says, "I will be going away on the last day of this month." And later on, they mention, "I will be going away for three months." Is this a contradiction? Of course not. The first statement describes the day of initiation, while the second specifies the duration.

2. The word yawm, which has been translated as day can also mean period. It has been explained thoroghly by Moiz Amjad in his article entitled The Length of God's Days. Therefore, the first verse can be taken to mean simply a period of Calamity.

3. The first verse can also be taken to describe the duration of punishment for each citizen of the nation of Aad, while the other verses refer to the time taken for the complete destruction of the Aad as a nation. This interpretation of the first verse is strengthened by examining the following verse:
54:20 Plucking out men as if they were roots of palm-trees torn up (from the ground).
Hence, we understand from the first verse that individuals were killed within the time span of one day. If we understand the verses according to their context, there is no contradiction.


Ansar Al-'Adl
04-17-2005, 01:36 AM
What Was Man Created From?

Concerning the thirteenth alleged contradiction,
What was man created from? A blood clot [96:1-2], water [21:30, 24:45, 25:54], "sounding" (i.e. burned) clay [15:26], dust [3:59, 30:20, 35:11], nothing [19:67] and this is then denied in 52:35, earth [11:61], a drop of thickened fluid [16:4, 75:37]
The obvious explanation to this question is that these references describe different aspects or stages in man's creation. This has always been the understanding of such verses.

We will give a brief explanation of each verse, while presenting them in chronological order.

Most of the references refer to two different aspects of creation: Original creation and Embryological development.

Original creation
19:67 Does not man remember that We created him before, and he was nothing?
The phrase and he was nothing is the translation of the arabic wa lam yaku shay. Some confusion may have resulted because Yusuf Ali's translation renders it as out of nothing, which is not very accurate at all. The phrase literally means, and he was nothing.

Hence, this verse states that human beings were nothing, and Allah brought us into existence. This is a tremendous favour bestowed upon us, that we may be thankful to Allah swt.

This is allegedly in contradiction to the following verse:

52:35 Were they created by nothing, or were they themselves the creators?
Ibn Kathir Ad-Damishqi (d.1372CE) has explained this verse as follows in his renowned Tafsir Al-Qur'an Al-Azim:
Allah asks them, were they created without a maker or did they create themselves Neither is true. Allah is the One Who created them and brought them into existence after they were nothing.(Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2000, vol. 9, p. 297)

Hence, this verse is not in contradiction to the previous verse at all, after closer examination. Even if we choose to translate verse 52:35 as "Were they created from nothing..." it would also be correct as Allah swt developed the human being from previously created substances.

20:55 Thereof (the earth) We created you, and into it We shall return you, and from it We shall bring you out once again

The original creation of Adam pbuh was from the dust of the earth.

30:20 Among His Signs is this, that He created you from dust; and then,- behold, ye are men scattered (far and wide)!

This dust was then mixed with water to produce what is mentioned in the following verse:
15:26 And indeed, We created man from dried (sounding) clay of altered mud [min hama’in masnoon]

An interesting commentary on these verses has been provided here:

Sheikh Muhammad Mutwalli Ash-Sha`rawi also comments:
If we take dust and add water to it, it will be mud. If it is left for some time, it will turn into clay. These are simply the stages of the creation of man. Man thus comes from dust, turned into clay after the addition of water. If we scrutinize this issue, we will find out that man, in his daily life, needs earth and depends on it in so many aspects. It is this earthy soil where we grow the plants upon which we live. Thus, preserving the materials of man depends on the source from which these materials are created.

Scientists have analyzed the human body and found that it is composed of 16 substances including oxygen and manganese. These elements are no more than the elements of the earth?s crust. This experiment was not meant for proving the credibility of the Qur'an; rather, it was solely for scientific research purposes.

In addition, death itself serves as a proof of creation. When we try to demolish a building, we follow the reverse order of building it; we start with the last floor. By the same token, since we have not eye-witnessed the creation of man, then we shall see how death occurs. Actually, we witness several deaths everyday. When man dies, his soul leaves his body, then the decline starts; his body becomes dry (which is similar to the stage of clay) and then decays and turns finally into dust which was his original substance. Life is given to man through the soul that is blown into his body. When the soul departs, man dies and starts his way back to his original form going through the stages of his first creation. Thus, death stands as a living proof for creation (SOURCE)

21:30...We made of water every living thing. Will they not then believe?
This verse explains that all living things are composed of water.

Dr. Zakir Naik has commented on the above verse by saying:
Only after advances have been made in science, do we now know that cytoplasm, the basic substance of the cell is made up of 80% water. Modern research has also revealed that most organisms consist of 50% to 90% water and that every living entity requires water for its existence. Was it possible 14 centuries ago for any human-being to guess that every living being was made of water? Moreover would such a guess be conceivable by a human being in the deserts of Arabia where there has always been scarcity of water? (SOURCE)

The following link also comments on this:

Embryological development

16:4 He has created man from a nutfah; and behold this same (man) becomes an open disputer!

Dr. Omar Abdul Rehman has explained this as follow:
Nutfah (The drop)

Al-Nutfah in Arabic means a drop or a small part of fluid and Nutfah in general describes a stage where the beginnings of a human being are found in this fluid (Ref: 6A, 12/6; 17/118; 19/120: 13A, 3/436: 15A, 17/116: 1C, 2/121: 7B, 3/116: 4D, 9/235-6: 5D, 6/258: 4A, 30/234: 7A, 4/336: 10A, 13/9: 12A, 4/288). Its real meaning can only be deduced from the text of Qur'an; evidently it is a comprehensive term and includes male and female gametes and part of their natural environments of fluid. It also includes zygote, morula and blastocyst till implantation in the uterus. This is illustrated by the following citation:

"was he not a drop or part of germinal fluid (Mani) emitted or programmed" (Surah Al- Qiyama, Ayah 37)

Here "Mani" means male or female germinal fluid (Ref: 1D, 5/276: 5D, 10/348:2D, 6/2497).

The Prophet's Hadith confirms the fact that the offspring is created from part of the germinal fluids.

"Not from all the fluid is the offspring created"

(Sahih. Muslim: Kitab Al-Nekah, Bab Al-Azl)

It is also known that not all parts of the ejaculate are equally potent in the fertilisation process. "In the first portion of the ejaculate are the spermatozoa, epididymal fluids, and the secretions from the Cowper and prostate gland fluids. In the last portions of the ejaculate are the secretions of the seminal vesicles. Most spermatozoa appear in the first part of the ejaculate, which is made primarily of prostatic secretions. Thus spermatozoa in the initial portion of the ejaculate have better motility and survival than those in the later portions, which are chiefly vesicular in origin". (SOURCE)

And concerning the verse:
96:2 Created man, out of a (mere) clot of an Alaqah
Dr. Omar Abdul Rehman states:
The 'Alaqah stage

"Then (thumm) We made the drop into an 'Alaqah". (Surah Al-Mu 'minun, Ayah 14)

In Arabic the word ‘Alaqah in fact has several meanings;

  • something which clings or a suspended thing (Ref: 7B, 5/440: 1D, 4/125: 2D, 4/1529: 3D, 343: 4D, 10/267: 5D, 7/20)
  • a leech-like structure (Ref: 9A, 3/242: 20A, 2/281: 7B, 5/139: 2D, 4/1529: 3D, 343: 4D, 10/267)
Amazingly each of these terms can be applied to the developing embryo with stunning precision. All of these terms encompassed by the word ‘Alaqah describe the appearance of the embryo as well as its relationship with the womb. From the discussion below it becomes clear that the embryo resembles a primitive multicellular organism which is attached to a host and feeding on its blood.

a) something which clings

Modern science informs us that once the egg has been fertilised in the Fallopian tube it undergoes successive divisions to form a ball like structure of 12-16 cells by the third day. This structure is called a blastocyst and it reaches the uterus in 4 to 5 days. The blastocyst then lies free in the uterine secretions for a further 2 days. About a week after fertilisation the blastocyst begins to attach and implant into the uterine wall. By the 11th to 12th day it is completely embedded in the uterine wall. At this stage chorionic villosities begin to develop like roots in the soil, these draw nourishment from the uterus necessary for the blastocyst's growth. These formations cover the whole blastocyst and make it literally cling to the uterus. By the end of the second week implantation is complete. Inside the blastocyst the embryo is anchored to the wall of the chorionic cavity by a connecting stalk. Hence, these different ways of clinging and attachment seem to represent the most dominant features from day 7 to 21, and are perfectly described in the Qur'anic description by the word ‘Alaqah. For greater detail see S. Hussain (1986) ‘Al-‘Alaq:the mystery explored, Ark Journal, London, pp. 31-36.

b) a suspended thing

The 3 week old embryo inside the blastocyst which is embedded in the uterine wall is seen to be suspended in the chorionic cavity by means of the connecting stalk and is surrounded by the amniotic cavity and the yolk sac. Therefore, the term ‘Alaqah accurately describes the suspended embryo after it has been implanted.

c) a leech-like structure

The word ‘Alaqah can also be translated as ‘leech like structure'. The leech is a elongated pear shaped creature which thrives on blood sucking. At this stage of development the embryo from top view does bear a resemblance to a leech. This resemblance is even more marked if the 24 day old embryo is seen from the side. It is also interesting to note that the embryo is now dependent on the maternal blood for its nutrition and behaves very much like a leech!. (For greater detail see Moore, KL. ‘A scientists interpretation of references to embryology in the Qur'an.' Journal of the Islamic Medical Association of US and Canada, 1986, 18:15, and Moore, KL. and Azzindani, AMA.: "The Developing Human, Clinically Orientated Embryology, With Islamic Additions". 3rd Ed., Dar Al-Qiblah and WB Saunders).

In conclusion, whichever of the above terms are used to translate the word ‘Alaqah they are all stunningly accurate descriptions of the embryo at this stage in it's development as confirmed by modern science.

There is a gap of a few days between the stages of implantation (Nutfah) and 'Alaqah and this period is clearly explained by the above Ayah:

The word "Thumm" in Arabic is a conjunction indicating a time lag and the Ayah will, therefore, mean that after some time we created the "Nutfah" into 'Alaqah. (SOURCE)

The full explanation of the Qur'anic account of embryology can be read here:

For further information, one may examine the following two articles:


Ansar Al-'Adl
04-19-2005, 12:34 AM
Where is Allah?

Concerning the fourteenth alleged contradiction:
Where is Allah and his throne? Allah is nearer than the jugular vein [50:16], but he is also on the throne [57:4] which is upon the water [11:7], and at the same time so far away, that it takes between 1,000 and 50,000 years to reach reach him [32:5, 70:4].
This is a very important issue of Aqeedah and deserves a clear response, as it can sometimes lead to confusion and deviation.

1. Allah's Supremacy
The true believer affirms that Allah is ascended above His throne, above the seven heavens.

67:17-18 Are you sure that He Who is Above the heaven will not cleave the earth beneath you? Or are you sure that He Who is above the heaven will not send against you a stone-charged hurricane.

87:1 Declare your Rubb, the Supreme, to be far removed from every imperfection or impurity.

Commenting on this verse, Mahmood Murad explains:
The "Supreme", linguistically, is in the superlative signifying that Allah is higher than everything and is above all things in essence, power, and invincibility. (SOURCE)

2. Allah's Maiyyah
Allah says:
57:4 He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in Six Days, and then ascened the Throne. He knows what enters within the earth and what comes forth out of it, what comes down from heaven and what mounts up to it. And He is with you wheresoever ye may be. And Allah sees well all that ye do.

To some, this verse may appear to be advancing two conflicting ideas. On one hand, it says that Allah is ascended over the throne, over the seven heavens, while later it says that He is with us wherever we are. The latter concept is known as Allah's maiyyah, or the nature of His closeness to us.

According to the Qur'an and Sunnah, we understand that Allah encompasses all things in His knowledge, seeing, hearing, power, authority, etc., but not in His essence. When Allah says He is with the believers, this is understood in terms of support and approval.

Elaborating on this concept, Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Saalih Al-Uthaymeen (d. 2001CE) writes:
Maiyyah in the Arabic language that the Qur'an was revealed in does not necessitate that something be mixed with other things or combined in the same place, rather it refers to something being with something else in a general way. The exact meaning is to be defined by the context...

The truth must be that Allah is with His Creation in a way that means He encompasses them by way of His knowledge, power, hearing, seeing, planning, authority, etc., while He remains above the Throne, above all of His Creation. (Ibn Uthaymeen, Concerning the Beautiful Names and Attributes of Allaah, T.R.O.I.D. Publications, 2003, pp.105-106 )
So the truth about where Allah is, is that He is beyond His Creation, and ascended over the Throne.

3. This explanation of Allah's maiyyah is also sufficient to explain verses like 50:16-17 which reads:

50:16 It was We Who created man, and We know what dark suggestions his soul makes to him: for We are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein, when the two (guardian angels) appointed to learn (his doings), learn (and noted them), one sitting on the right and one on the left.

From the previous explanation we would understand that any verse describing Allah's closeness to His Creation, does not describe the closeness of His essence, but rather the encompassing nature of His powers.

Nevertheless, verse 50:16-17 has been interpreted differently by the Scholars of Tafsir, and we shall provide their explanation as well.

In the referred verses, many people do not read 50:17, and they stop at 50:16.

But if one reads the whole phrase, we find it says:
And we are closer to Him than His jugular vein, when the two (guardian angels) appointed to learn (his doings), learn (and noted them).

Hence, what is being referred to here is the closeness of the Angels and not the closeness of Allah. The question is, why has Allah attributed the closeness of the Angels to Himself?

This will be better understood if we examine the following verses:
15:9 We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption).
75:18 But when We have recited it, follow thou its recital

Just as the Angels brought down the message by the leave of Allah and recited it to the Prophet Muhammad pbuh, so are they closer to the human being than the jugular vein, by the leave of Allah. In both cases, the actions of the angels are attributed to Allah because they occur by His command.
This is the understanding of the early muslim scholars, and can be found in prominent tafisr such as Ibn Kathir.

4. With regards to the following verse,
11:7 He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days - and His Throne was over the waters - that He might try you, which of you is best in conduct...

let us examine so related narrations:
Imran bin Husayn said "....The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said, 'Allah was before everything and His Throne was over the water. He then wrote in the Preserved Tablet mentioning everything.'... (Ahmad 4:431)

And furthermore,
It is recorded that Abdullah ibn Amr bin Al-As said that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said, "Verily Allah measured the amount of sustenance of the creatures fifty thousand years before He created the heavens and the earth, and His Throne was over the water (Muslim 4:2044)

The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said, Do you see what He has spent since He created the Heavens and the Earth? Yet all that has not decreased what is in His Right Hand. His Throne is over the water and in His other Hand is the bounty or power to bring about death, and He raises some people and brings others down(Bukhari 9:515)

This makes it very clear as to what the verse is referring to, but what the water in the verse denotes, is open to interpretation.

As Adel M. A. Abbas writes in his book, His Throne Was On Water:
The book's title is taken from the verse "His throne was on water," a verse whose splendor and scientific implication invite further reflection. The recent discovery by quantum mechanics researchers that outer space is full of virtual particles and antiparticles that materialize constantly in pairs may shed some light on this verse. This, together with the creation of the universe and the refashioning of the skies into cocentric oval or ball-shaped layers, is illustrated on the cover.

Such mysteries as space-time, humanity, the expanding universe, and the various stages of creation are addressed in the following pages.(Abbas, His Throne was on Water, Amana Publications, 1997, p. ix)
The author of the referred book has gone into great detail explaining his rather fascinating scientific interpretation of verse 11:17, which deals with the structure and creation of the universe. One may consult the book for more information.

5. And finally, concerning 32:5 and 70:4, this has been dealt with in our response to the alleged contradiction On The Length of God's Days. For the purpose of this response, we would just like to emphasize that the length of the period taken to ascend to God does not necessarily relate to the distance of God, Himself.

To conclude, Allah's power is All-encompassing, but we affirm that he is ascended over His Throne, above the seven heavens. The Most High, Glorified and Exalted is He.


Ansar Al-'Adl
04-23-2005, 11:09 PM
On The Origin of Calamity

Concerning the fifteenth Alleged contradiction:
The origin of calamity? Is the evil in our life from Satan [38:41], Ourselves [4:79], or Allah [4:78]?
Verses in question:
4:78-79 "Wherever ye are, death will find you out, even if ye are in towers built up strong and high!" If some good befalls them, they say, "This is from Allah; but if evil, they say, "This is from thee" (O Prophet). Say: "All things are from Allah." But what hath come to these people, that they fail to understand a single fact?
Whatever good, (O man!) happens to thee, is from Allah. but whatever evil happens to thee, is from thy (own) soul. and We have sent thee as an apostle to (instruct) mankind. And enough is Allah for a witness.

38:41 Commemorate Our Servant Job. Behold he cried to his Lord: "The Evil One has afflicted me with distress and suffering!"

A number of points may be mentioned:
1. Before commenting on the verses, we must clarify the two reasons behind the tragedy and difficulties one may experience in their lives.
a) As a test
29:2-3 Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, "We believe", and that they will not be tested? We did test those before them, and Allah will certainly know those who are true from those who are false.

b) As a punishment
42:30 Whatever misfortune happens to you, is because on the things your hands have wrought, and for many (of them) He grants forgiveness.

2. Verse 4:78 informs us that all events and outcomes are from Allah, i.e. Allah has full control over everything and it is by His decree that all things come about. Nothing occurs except by His will. Ibn Kathir (d. 1372CE) comments on this verse, in his renowned tafsir by saying:
Allah's statement that all things are from Him means, everything occurs by the decision and decree of Allah, and His decision shall come to pass for both the rightoeus and the wicked, the faithful and the disbelievers. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2000, vol. 2, p. 521)

3. Meanwhile, 4:79 mentions that the good that reaches us is of Allah's bounty, favor, kindness and mercy, and we should show gratitiude to Allah for such blessings. And the misfortune that befalls us in our lives if from our own souls. The meaning of "from thy own soul" is that the misfortune is the result of our errors as a punishment, or may serve as a test for us. This was mentioned by scholars including As-Suddi, Al-Hassan Al-Basri, Ibn Jurayj and Ibn Zayd (see Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2000, vol. 2, p. 521)

With the above in mind, there is no contradiction between verse 4:78 and verse 4:79. All things occur by the permission of Allah, and all events are the result of His will. Yet, this does not negate the fact that any misfortune that befalls us is the result of our misdeeds, despite the fact that it has been decreed by Allah. Everything is from Allah, yet difficulties may be the result of our actions, as a punishment ordained by Allah. The difficulties are the result of our weaknesses, and ultimately we are to blame for them. But they still occur by the permission of Allah.

4. We can also arrive at a similar conclusion from a slightly different angle. Commenting on verses 4:78-79, Dr. Jeffrey Lang writes the following in his book, Even Angels Ask:
The assertion here is that our ability to experience true benefit or harm comes from God, but to do real injury to ourselves, in an ultimate and spiritual sense, depends on our actions and decisions, which God has empowered us to make. (Lang, Even Angels Ask, Amana Publications, 1997, p.29)
Thus, Dr. Lang interprets the verse to mean that evil is the result of our human nature and our freedom of choice, which God has given to us. Hence, all things may be attributed to God since God has given us the choice to do good and evil, yet we are the ones who excercise that choice.

5. Concerning verse 38:41, what is understood is that the evil decisions we may make, and the difficulties that befall us, may have originally been inspired by Satan. i.e. in verse 38:41, Prophet Ayoub (Job) is being tested by God with an affliction from Satan. It is not incorrect to attribute this to Satan, since he is the one who directly tries to divert us from the path of truth with trouble, misguidance and calamity. Nor is it incorrect to declare this to be from God, since He has allowed Satan to afflict us, as a test. Allah tests us through several means, and Satan is one of them. Our evil inclinations are also a test for us.

To conclude, in response to the question on the origin of calamity in our lives, and whether it is from Allah, Satan, or ourselves, we would declare that it is from all three, and there is nothing contradictiory about this view. Allah allows Satan to inspire us with evil by means of a test, Satan inspires us to do an evil deed to misguide us, and we are the ones who actually commit the act.

May Allah protect us from evil.


Ansar Al-'Adl
04-24-2005, 11:02 PM
The Mercy and Guidance of Allah

Concerning the sixteenth alleged contradiction,
How merciful is Allah's mercy? He has prescribed mercy for himself [6:12], yet he does not guide some, even though he could [6:35, 14:4]
Verses in question:
6:12 Say: "To whom belongeth all that is in the heavens and on earth?" Say: "To Allah. He hath inscribed for Himself (the rule of) Mercy. That He will gather you together for the Day of Judgment, there is no doubt whatever. It is they who have lost their own souls, that will not believe.

If it is hard for you to bear their aversion [from the truth] seek if you can a chasm in the earth or a ladder to the sky by which you can bring them a sign [for We are not going to show them any signs to make them believe]. Had God pleased, He would have guided them all [to the right path]. So, do not be carried away by your desire [to guide them].

14:4 We sent not an apostle except (to teach) in the language of his (own) people, in order to make (things) clear to them. Now Allah leaves straying those whom He pleases and guides whom He pleases: and He is Exalted in power, full of Wisdom.

Hence, the allegation is that, if Allah is so merciful, why does he allow some to go astray even though he could guide them?

The response is as follows:

1. First we must understand Allah's mercy and love. Allah's love may be divided into two categories: the universal mercy for all creation, and the special love reserved for those His righteous servants. The rahma (mercy) spoken of in verse 6:12 is universal, and the proof of that lies in other verses, like the following:
40:7 O our Sustainer! You embrace all things within (Your) rahmah (mercy) and knowledge.

The special love of Allah that is reserved for the righteous is described in verses like the following:
19:29 On those who have faith and do good will the Most Gracious One (Rahman) bestow love (wudda)."

2. On the question of who Allah guides, we once again refer to the Qur'an for the answer:
42:13 The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah - the which We have sent by inspiration to thee - and that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: Namely, that ye should remain steadfast in religion, and make no divisions therein: to those who worship other things than Allah, hard is the (way) to which thou callest them. Allah chooses to Himself those whom He pleases, and guides to Himself those who turn (to Him).

Hence, the answer is that Allah guides those people who desire His guidance. Those who turn to their creator and fulfill their duty will recieve further guidance. While those who are cruel to God's creation, who reject His blessings with ingratitude, they will be punished and are not worthy of guidance. They will only be allowed to stray even further. And concerning them, Allah has said:
43:76 It was not We who wronged them: but it is they who have wronged themselves.

With the above in mind, there is no contradiction. God's infinite mercy is manifest in His continual blessings, but there is divine wisdom in the fact that Allah guides those who desire guidance. If you seek Allah, He will bring you closer to Him.


Ansar Al-'Adl
04-27-2005, 11:14 PM
Will there be Inquiry in Paradise?

Concerning the seventeenth alleged contradiction,
Will there be inquiry in Paradise? "neither will they question one another" [23:101] but nevertheless they will be "engaging in mutual inquiry" [52:25], "and they will ... question one another" [37:27].
Verses in question,
23:101 Then, when the Trumpet is blown, there will be no kinship among them that Day, nor will they ask of one another

And 52:25 in context is:
52:21,22,25-28 And those who believe and whose offspring follow them in Faith, to them shall We join their offspring, and We shall not decrease the reward of their deeds in anything. Every person is a pledge for that which he has earned. And We shall provide them with fruit and meat, such as they desire....And some of them draw near to others, questioning.
Saying: "Aforetime, we were afraid with our families (from the punishment of Allâh). But Allâh has been gracious to us, and has saved us from the torment of the Fire. Verily, We used to invoke Him (Alone and none else) before. Verily, He is Al Barr the Most Generous, the Most Merciful."

And 37:27 in context is:
37:22,23,27-33. (It will be said to the angels): "Assemble those who did wrong, together with their companions (from the devils) and what they used to worship, instead of Allâh, and lead them on to the way of flaming Fire (Hell);
And they will turn to one another and question one another.

They will say: "It was you who used to come to us from the right side."
They will reply: "Nay, you yourselves were not believers. And we had no authority over you. Nay! But you were transgressing people (disobedient, polytheists, and disbelievers). So now the Word of our Lord has been justified against us, that we shall certainly (have to) taste (the torment).So we led you astray because we were ourselves astray."

Then verily, that Day, they will (all) share in the torment.

1. The first point that becomes obvious here, once the context is added, is that these verses are not referring to the same event. Verse 23:101 states that on the Day of Judgement, after the trumpet, no one will ask eachother for help. They will stand silently before their Lord, to be judged.
Meanwhile, verse 52:25 states that in paradise, the reward for the believers will include anything they desire, and they shall engage in mutual discussion. This obviously is not a reference to the Day of resurrection.
Likewise, verse 37:27 speaks of the disbelievers who will dispute with eachother about who is to blame for their terrible fate. This is obvious from the mentioning of assembling those who did wrong, and leading them to Hell-fire. Evidently, this would occur after the Day of Judgement.

2. The second point is that there is a different understanding of what is being asked in each verse. Verse 23:101 refers to the fact that they will not be able to ask eachother for help. Here, "ask" is understood to be a request. Verse 52:25 refers to the fact that they will engage in mutual discussion. Here "ask" is understood to be general inquiry and discussion, not a request. And finally, verse 37:27 refers to the disputes that will be held by the people of Hell-fire. here "ask" refers to harsh interrogation and argumentation, not a request. This is supported by the understanding of the arabic verb used, yatasa'aloon.


Ansar Al-'Adl
04-28-2005, 09:35 PM
Are Angels Protectors?

Concerning the eighteenth alleged contradiction,
Are angels protectors? "NO protector besides Allah" [2:107, 29:22]. But in Sura 41:31 the angels themselves say: "We are your protectors in this life and the Hereafter." And also in other suras is their role described as guarding [13:11, 50:17-18] and protecting [82:10].
Verses in question:
2:107 Knowest thou not that to Allah belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth? And besides Him ye have neither patron nor helper.

29:22 "Not on earth nor in heaven will ye be able (fleeing) to frustrate (his Plan), nor have ye, besides Allah, any protector or helper."

41:31 (The Angels say) "We are your protectors in this life and in the Hereafter: therein shall ye have all that your souls shall desire; therein shall ye have all that ye ask for!

The response to this claim is rather obvious.
1. It is quite evident that angels are merely the tools of Allah. Their protection is by His command. He protects us, often through His angels. This was explained in response to the sixth allegation. Allah often attributes the actions of His angels to Himself, becuase they are the direct result of His command.
For example, the CEO of a company may mention that he has created a new product, but realistically, the product was created by those who operate under his command

2. We must also realize that when Allah informs us that we have no protector besides Allah, the arabic meaning carries the notion of exclusion. In other words, other than Allah, or excluding Allah, we have no protector. If Allah was not going to protect us, we would find no protection. This adds to the first point, because the angels would not protect us if Allah did not wish to protect us. They do exactly as they are commanded by God.


Ansar Al-'Adl
05-02-2005, 09:46 PM

Throughout the history of humanity, we see a continued pattern. Our Lord and Creator created us out of love, and placed us on this planet as His Viceroy, to enjoin what is good and to forbidwhat is evil. We maintain our loving connection with God through sincere worship to Him. Humanity is being tested through this life on earth. Those of us who believe in God and do righteous deeds will be rewarded in the next life. But those who persist in evil, even after recieving warnings, will be punished in the next life.

Man has continually deviated from the true path of righteousness, to become enslaved by his personal desires. Thus, God appoints Prophets and Messengers among humanity, who recieve divine revelation, to call people back to the path of truth, the path of loving submission to Our Creator. God's Messengers recieved the word of God, His message and commandments for humanity.

Muslims believe all of God's Messenger preached the same message of Islam (submission to the One God). This includes Prophet Adam, Prophet Noah, Prophet Abraham, Prophet Moses, Prophet Jesus, and God's final messenger Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of God be upon them all.

The Qur'an is God's last revelation to humanity, revealed to Prophet Muhammad pbuh, and is the spoken words of God, which He has vowed to preserve throughout time. All previous messages including the Torah and the Injeel were only intended for their respective nations and served as test for their respective nation to preseve the message. Unfortunately, this test was not succesfully completed and the previous messages have become corrupted, tampered and mixed with the work of human beings. This is why God has sent the Qur'an to confirm the truth, but reject all deviation that has crept in. It is a criterion. The test of the Qur'an is not its preservation, but in spreading the message to all nations.

Much has been said about the Qur'an, and both Muslims and Non-Muslims have praised it for its perfection and beauty. One may read about what has been said about the Qur'an, here.

The question arises, how can one be assured that a book is from God?

There are a number of reasons and much evidence which proves that the Qur'an is the word of God. These have been explored in many books, and on many websites, including here and here. For the purpose of this article, we will examine one of those reasons - consistency.

We must remember that the Qur'an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad pbuh over a period of 23 years. During that time, he passed through widely diverse periods of struggle and peace. It is inconceivable that any human being would be able to remain consistent in their teachings and thoughts during this period of time. All human beings go through development and evolution in their thoughts and works. It is natural to obsevre such changes, and we would expect to see even greater changes in the teachings of a man through periods of persecution, peace, migration, success, suffering, unity, support, opposition, etc.

Yet the Qur'an is free of all such human defficiencies and inconsistencies. And the only reason is because it is a revelation from Our Creator, Most Merciful.

20:4 A revelation from Him Who created the earth and the heavens on high.

69:41-43 It is not the word of a poet: little it is ye believe! Nor is it the word of a soothsayer: little admonition it is ye receive. (This is) a Message sent down from the Lord of the Worlds.

The Qur'an, itself, provides us with this criteria to use in evalutating its claim of divine origin:
4:82 Do they not consider the Qur'an (with care)? Had it been from other Than Allah, they would surely have found therein Much discrepancy/inconsistency.

This criteria is acknowledged in previous revelations as well.

1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace...."

God is perfect, and therefore we should expect inerrancy and perfection in His words. This article will demonstrate, God willingly, that the Qur'an is free of such inconsistencies and human deficiencies, and therefore can only be the word of God, Glorified and Exalted.

Often, we will see that there are multiple interpretations and explanations of certain verses. Consequently, we shall frequently present more than one explanation, each being sufficient to refute the allegation on its own.


Ansar Al-'Adl
05-02-2005, 11:53 PM
Is Everything Devoutly Obedient to Allah?

Concerning the nineteenth allegation,
Is everything devoutly obedient to Allah? That is the claim in 30:26, but dozens of verses speak of the proud disobedience of Satan [7:11, 15:28-31, 17:61, 20:116, 38:71-74, 18:50] as well of many different human beings who reject His commands and His revelations.
Verse in question,
30:26 To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and the earth. All are subservient to Him.
(Yusuf Ali translates subservient as devoutly obedient.)

It is obvious that there are many creatures that disobey God, so there is no need to quote the other verses. We need only examine the first verse.

1. The explanation of the verse will become clearer if we first explain some fundamental principles in Islam concerning Allah’s Will (Iraadah). Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih Al-Uthaymeen (d.2001CE) writes the following:
We believe that Allah’s Will (iraadah) is of two types:
1. Universal will (kawniyyah): So whatever occurs, happens only by His Will. It is not necessary that what occurs is actually liked by Allah. Thus, it is similar in meaning to volition (mashee’ah); as in Allah’s statement:
And if Allah had so wished, they would not have fought eachother, but Allah does whatever He wills. [Al-Baqarah 2:253]
If Allah Wills to leave you astray, He is wour Lord. [Hood 11:34]

2. Legislated Will (shar’iyyah): It is not necessary that this Will should occur. This Will does not happen, except in what He loves and desires, such as in Allah the Exalted’s statement:
Allah desires to forgive you [An-Nisaa 4:27]
(Al-'Uthaymeen, Tenets of Faith, Al-Hidayah Publishing & Distribution, 2000, p.20-21)
In light of the above explanation, we can say that the interpretation of verse 30:26 is that this verse is an indication of the inescable and universal submission of creation to the Creator. This verse refers to the obedience and submission of all creation to God’s Universal Will (kawniyyah). All creation is obedient to Allah’s kawniyyah whether voluntarily or involuntarily. Allah is the Supreme Authority and all things in the heavens and the earth act under His power. Shaykh Abdul Azeez ibn Baaz (d.1999) writes about the Universal Will of Allah:
As for this Will, then nothing fails to fall under it. Thus, both the Muslim and the kaafir fall under this Universal Will; as do acts of obedience and disobedience, provisions and life-spans. They all occur by the Will of Allah and what He determines. (Shaykh Bin Baz's annotations to Tanbeehaatul-Lateefah of Imaam as-Sa'dee, p.41)
Therefore, a disbeliever is always obedient to Allah’s Universal Will, even when He disobeys God’s commands. If God had so Willed, the disbeliever could have obeyd the commands. But Allah has made this life a test for us. Shaykh Abdul Azeez ibn Baaz also explains the Legislated Will (shar’iyyah):
This covers what the Lord loves and is pleased with. This Will does not necessarily mean that what He Will will occur, rather it may or may not occur. So, for instance, Allah the Exalted Wills that He should be worshipped and obeyed. Yet some worship and obey Him, whilst others do not. This should demonstrate that these two wills [kawniyyah and shar’iyyah] are combined together in (i.e. acted upon by) the obedient person, but in the sinner it is only the Universal Will, since Allah did not desire for Him to sin, rather He forbade him from it. (Ibid.)
Therefore, although all human beings are powerless to act against God’s universal will, they may or may not be obedient to God’s legislated will, since the latter is not enforced. Hence, the test in life is to follow and obey God’s legislated will. This becomes even more clear when we examine the classic tafsir (exegesis) like that of Ibn Kathir Ad-Damishqi (d.1372CE), who writes in his renowned Tafsir Al-Qur'an Al-Azim:
(To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and the earth.) means, He owns it and it is enslaved to Him.
(All are obedient to Him.) they are humble before Him and submit to Him, whether willingly or unwillingly. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2000, vol. 7, p. 540
The phrase, "whether willingly or unwillingly" should make it clear for the reader. This verse is not speaking of the voluntary submission that Allah asks us to give Him, nor the devotion of the heart. It simply points to the fact that Allah's supremacy indicates that all creation is bound by His Universal will, either willingly or unwillingly.
So the difference between this verse and those verses which condemn those who are disobedient to Allah, is that this verse speaks of the obedience and inescapable submission to His kawniyyah, while the other verses speak of the voluntary submission to His shar’iyyah. Everything occurs by God's permission.
For example, if one were to commit a sin, we would say they have disobeyed God. But we know that God allowed them to perform that sin, and He was testing them. Therefore, they were not able to defy God's power and universal will, although they did disobey His command, or legislated will. If God wanted to, He could have prevented them from commting the sin. But life is a test.
Does this mean that there is no such thing as disobedience? Of course not. This verse only points out the different forms of obedience i.e. obedience to His kawniyyah and obedience to His shar’iyyah. We may be disobeying His commands, but we will always be involuntarily acting by His leave or permission. This has always been the understanding of this verse, as Ibn Kathir wrote, "willingly or unwillingly". It was God's will that we have a choice in the first place. He gave us the ability to choose to serve Him, or to become enslaved to the evil of our desires and the whisperings of Satan. Allah gave us the choice, and He allows us to do what we choose. But those who choose good will be rewarded, while those who choose evil will be punished.
So why does God criticize the disobedient when they are actually obedient? The answer is that God criticizes them for their disobedience to His legislated will, which they are not binded by, or forced to follow. It is the universal will, to which they are forever subservient and obedient.

2. A second point to note is the literal understanding of the word used in this verse. The arabic word used is "Qanitoon", which implies subordinate and submissive to Him. Hence, the meaning of this verse that all of creation is subservient to Him,
As Qur'an commentator, Abul A`la Maududi (d.1979) writes on this verse:
What is meant is that it is Allah alone Who has created man, and provided for his sustenance and others of his needs, that there is no god but He, and that He alone is man's Master and the only authority rightfully deserving of his worship. Therefore, it would be fitly in accordance with this natural fact that man should believe, and behave, as only Allah's creature and servant and not anyone else's at all.(Maududi, Four Basic Qur'anic Terms, Islamic Publications (pvt) Ltd., ch.4)
And from a linguistic analysis, Sheikh `Abd al-Wahhab al-Turayri writes:
The word being translated as 'devoutly obedient' is the word qnitn (from qunt) which means 'to be subservient, subjugated'. This can be contrasted with the word ti`n (from t`ah) which means to be willfully obedient.

There are two types of subservience (qunt). There is the general subservience of all created things to Allah, since all things are subject to His decision and His determination. Then there is the specific subservience that is worship, where the servant willfully makes himself subservient and submissive before his Lord. The general sense is being used in this verse. All creatures are subservient to Allah's decision. If He wills, He can make then perish. If He wills, he can sustain their existence.

Yusuf Ali's translation of qnitn as 'devoutly obedient' is inexact in this context.

Mishaal ibn Abdullah writes:
The word used in 30:26 is "Qanitoon," meaning subservient or "under the mercy of." This can be verified very easily by reading any number of references such as the 18 volume encyclopedia of Arabic language, "Lisan Al-Arab," Vol. 2, p. 73. The verse does not use the word "aabidoon" or "mo'minoon" meaning "worshipful, believing, or devout." (SOURCE)
If we view this verse in this light, there is no contradiction. Again, the case of disobedience to God is irrelevant to the fact that all creation is subservient to Him, and under His command.

3. The third point to be mentioned in response to this allegation, is on the subject of the verse. The critics claim that this verse is contradictory to other verses, because the verse states that all of creation is "devoutly obedient", i.e. voluntarily, while this is not the case with Satan and the evil humans and jinn, etc. But if we examine the various translations of the verse, we find that the majority do not translate it as "devoutly obedient", including Pickthall, Shakir, Daryabadi, Khan/Hilali, etc. Abdullah Yusuf Ali is the one who chooses this translation, therefore, it would seem logical that we examine his commentary on this verse.
Yusuf Ali writes the following in reference to verse 30:26:
3532. All nature in creation not only obeys God, but devoutly obeys Him, i.e. glories in its privelage of service and obedience. Why should we not do likewise? It is part of our original unspoilt nature, and we must respond to it, as all beings do, by their very nature. (Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur'an: Text, Translation and Commentary, McGregor &; Werner 1946, p.1058)
This comment on this verse makes the issue very clear. If we are to accept Yusuf Ali's translation, we must evaluate his interpretation of this verse as a whole. And his interpretation is that this is not a reference to creatures with a choice, but to the rest of creation. This is the suppressed meaning of the phrase used in the verse. His statement, "Why do we not do likewise" makes it manifestly clear that his interpretation excludes certain beings from the meaning of this verse. It is common for the addressee of a statement to be excluded from its meaning.
For example, if two friends enter a room filled with people, one of the friends may comment to the other that the people in the room are very roudy. And his companion would understand that this is a reference to everyone in the room, excluding themselves.

Another example is if a group of firefighters charge into a burning building and one calls out, "Everyone get out of the building", we would not expect his fellow firefighters to exit the building, because it is understood that they are not included in the phrase, even though "everyone" would normally include them.
As these examples demonstrate, this interpretation of the verse is that certain groups are naturally excluded from the statement. If one chooses Yusuf Ali's translation of "devoutly obedient", they must accept the interpretation in its entirety. It is not acceptable to combine pieces of different interpretations in order to generate a contradiction.


Ansar Al-'Adl
05-05-2005, 11:24 PM
Does Allah forgive Shirk?

Concerning the twentieth alleged contradiction,
Does Allah forgive shirk? Shirk is considered the worst of all sins, but the author of the Qur'an seems seems unable to decide if Allah will ever forgive it or not. No [4:48, 116], Yes [4:153, 25:68-71].
Verses in question,
4:48 Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin Most heinous indeed.

4:116 Allah forgiveth not (The sin of) joining other gods with Him; but He forgiveth whom He pleaseth other sins than this: one who joins other gods with Allah, Hath strayed far, far away (from the right).

4:153 ...Yet they worshipped the calf even after clear signs had come to them; even so we forgave them; and gave Moses manifest proofs of authority.

25:68,70-71 And those who invoke not any other god along with Allah...and whoever does this shall receive the punishment...Except those who repent and believe (in Islâmic Monotheism), and do righteous deeds, for those, Allâh will change their sins into good deeds, and Allâh is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
And whosoever repents and does righteous good deeds, then verily, he repents towards Allâh with true repentance.

Shirk is the sin of associating partners with Allah, i.e. attributing divinity or worshipping other than the One Creator.

The explanation of these verses becomes clear if we review the Islamic beliefs one at a time.
1. The first principle is that Allah will forgive ALL sins of anyone who repents sincerely during this life, before their death. This is made clear in the following verse of the Qur'an:
39:53-55 Say: "O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah. for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Turn ye to our Lord (in repentance) and bow to His (Will), before the Penalty comes on you: after that ye shall not be helped. And follow the best of (the courses) revealed to you from your Lord, before the Penalty comes on you - of a sudden while ye perceive not!
From the above verse we understand that Allah will forgive all of our sins if we repent before the coming of a "sudden penalty", which refers to death.

2. The second principle here is that after one dies, they are at the mercy of Allah, who may choose to forgive them of their sins or punish them for it, according to what is just. Allah may forgive all of one's sins after they die, except shirk. After a person dies, they will not be forgiven for shirk. The only chance of forgiveness for shirk is if one repents before they die.

3. The above understanding is derived from the Qur'an and the Sunnah, and can be found in many common Tafsir of the Qur'an. For example, Ibn Kathir Ad-Damishqi (d. 1372CE) writes for this verse in his renowned Tafsir Al-Qur'an Al-Azim:
Allah does not forgive shirk, except after repenting from it.(Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2000, vol. 2, p. 481)
And Muhammad Asad comments on the verse:
The continuous stress, in the Qur’an, on God's transcendental oneness and uniqueness aims at freeing man from all sense of dependence on other influences and powers, and thus at elevating him spiritually and bringing about the "purification" alluded to in the next verse. Since this objective is vitiated by the sin of shirk ("the ascribing of divine qualities to aught beside God"), the Qur’an describes it as "unforgivable" so long as it is persisted in, i.e., unless and until the sinner repents (cf. verses 17 and 18 of this surah).(Asad, Message of the Qur'an, The Book Foundation 2003)
And verses 4:17-18 read:
4:17-18 Allah accepts the repentance of those who do evil in ignorance and foolishness and repent soon afterwards; it is they to whom Allah will forgive and Allah is Ever All Knower, All Wise. And of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil deeds until death faces one of them and he says: "Now I repent;" nor of those who die while they are disbelievers. For them We have prepared a painful torment.

Shaykh Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi explains the reasoning behind this law:
If a person dies practicing shirk, or not having repented from it, he can never be forgiven for this sin. However, if a person commits shirk before accepting Islam, and dies as a Muslim, then the sin of shirk will be forgiven. This is because a person will be judged by Allah based on his conditions and iman (faith) at the time of death, so if he committed shirk in the past, but eventually accepted Islam, then such a sin would be forgiven. (Qadhi, A Critical Study of Shirk : An Explanation of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab's Kash al-Shubuhat, Al-Hidaayah Publishing and Distribution 2003, p.22)
Thus, when the verses are interpreted in light of other Qur'anic laws, there is no contradiction.


Ansar Al-'Adl
05-06-2005, 12:18 AM
Did Abraham Commit Shirk?

Concerning the twenty-first alleged contradiction:
Abraham committed this sin of polytheism as he takes moon, sun, stars to be his Lord [6:76-78], yet Muslims believe that all prophets are without any sin.
Verses in question:
6:76-78. When the night covered him over with darkness he saw a star. He said: "This is my lord." But when it set, he said: "I like not those that set."
When he saw the moon rising up, he said: "This is my lord." But when it set, he said: "Unless my Lord guides me, I shall surely be among the erring people."
When he saw the sun rising up, he said: "This is my lord. This is greater." But when it set, he said: "O my people! I am indeed free from all that you join as partners in worship with Allâh.

1. The general interpretation of the above verses is that this was an act done by Prophet Abraham to lead others to Islam. He had travelled to a land where people worshipped celestial bodies, and through this play, he demonstrated to them that only Allah is worthy of worship. He did not actually believe that these objects were His lord, but he wad pretending in order to drive home a point to his people in a special way. As Ibn Kathir Ad-Damishqi (d. 1372CE) writes in his renowned Tafsir Al-Qur'an Al-Azim:
We should note here that, in these Ayat, Abraham, peace be upon him, was debating with his people, explaining to them the error of their way in worshipping idols and images....When he proved that these three objects were not gods, although they are the brightest objects the eyes can see, he said: "O my people! I am indeed free from all that you join as partners in worship with Allah.'' meaning, I am free from worshipping these objects and from taking them as protectors. Therefore, if they are indeed gods as you claim, then all of you bring your plot against me and do not give me respite.(Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2000, vol. 3, pp. 389-390)

2. Even if we suppose that Abraham was not pretending, this still would not prove the claim. This event occured before Abraham became a Prophet, and furthermore, there is no evidence that he was worshipping the celestial bodies, but only pondering on what is truly divine.

3. While we are on the subject, we shall comment on the Islamic view on Prophets. Prophets are human beings who are selected to recieve revelation from Allah and guide people to the straught path. They are the best of humanity, so that their followers may take them as role models. Nevertheless, they are human, and thus, they are sometimes subject to a temporary lapse in judgement or minor mistakes. But they are believed to be free of sins, or infallible, especially after recieving revelation from Allah.
Shaykh-ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (d. 1328 CE) said:
The view that the Prophets are infallible and protected against committing major sins, as opposed to minor mistakes, is the view of the majority of Muslim scholars and of all groups. It is also the view of the scholars of tafseer and hadeeth and fuqaha’. Indeed, nothing has been narrated from any of the salaf, imams, Sahaabah, Taabi’een and those who followed them except that which is in accordance with this view. (Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 4/319)
For more information, one may read the article here.


Ansar Al-'Adl
05-06-2005, 08:50 PM
Worshipping the Same or a Different God?

Concerning the twenty-second alleged contradiction,
Worshiping the Same or a Different God? Muhammad is commanded to speak to the disbelievers: ... nor do you worship what I worship [109:3]. Which disbelievers is this referring to? Other verses in the Qur'an state clearly that those disbelieving his message are in fact worshiping the same God, Allah. People of the Book: [2:139, 3:64, 29:46]. Meccan Idolaters: [29:61-63, 16:35, 39:3]
The referred chapter is as follows:
109:1-6. Say : O you who reject faith!
I worship not that which ye worship,
Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
And I will not worship that which ye have been wont to worship,
Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
To you be your Way, and to me mine.

1. The first question is who is being addressed by these verses. Such a question deals elates to a science of the Qur'an known as Asbaab An-Nuzool, or the Reasons for revelation. By examining the historical context at the time of the verse's revelation, we may obtain a better understanding of the verses. The majority of scholars are agreed that this was revealed during the Prophet Muhammad's stay in Makkah, before he moved to Madinah. The verse was revelaed in response to an argument of the Makkan idolaters.

And Abul Ala Maududi (d. 1979 CE) also provides some narrations in his commentary Tafheem Al-Qur'an:
According to Hadrat Abdullah bin Abbas, the Quraish proposed to the Holy Prophet; "We shall give you so much of wealth that you will become the richest man of Makkah; we shall give you whichever woman you like in marriage; we are prepared to follow and obey you as our leader, only on the condition that you will not speak ill of our gods. If you do not agree to this, we present another proposal which is to your as well as to our advantage."When the Holy Prophet asked what it was, they said that if he would worship their gods, Lat and Uzza, for a year, they would worship his God for the same space of time. The Holy Prophet said: "Wait awhile; let me see what my Lord commands in this regard."Thereupon the revelation came down: Qul ya-ayyuhal- kafirun... and: Qul afa-ghair Allahi... (Az-Zumar: 64): "Say to them: ignorant people do you bid me to worship others than Allah?" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Abi Hatim, Tabarani). According to another tradition from Ibn Abbas, the Quraish said to the Holy Prophet: "O Muhammad, if you kiss our gods, the idols, we shall worship your God."Thereupon, this Surah was sent down. (Abd bin Humaid).

Said bin Mina (the freed slave of Abul Bakhtari) has related that Walid bin Mughirah, As bin Wail, Aswad bin al-Muttalib and Umayyah bin Khalaf met the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) and said to him:"O Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings), let us agree that we would worship your God and you would worship our gods, and we would make you a partner in all our works. If what you have brought was better than what we possess, we would be partners in it with You, and have our share in it, and if what we possess is better than what you have brought, you would be partner in it with us and have your share of it."At this Allah sent down: Qul ya-ayyuhal-kafirun (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn Hisham also has related this incident in the Sirah). (SOURCE)

Although the original addressees of these verses were the idolaters of Makkah, the scholars are agreed that these verses apply to all who reject faith ion God, as is made clear in the opening verse. Ibn Kathir Ad-Damshqi (d. 1372CE) writes in his renowned Tafsir Al-Qur'an Al-Azim:
(Say: "O you who reject faith!'') includes every disbeliever on the face of the earth, however, this statement is particularly directed towards the disbelievers of the Quraysh. It has been said that in their ignorance they invited the Messenger of Allah to worship their idols for a year and they would (in turn) worship his God for a year. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2000, vol. 10, p.614 )
Thus, those being addressed by these verses include all disbelievers, or those who reject faith.

2. The second point to note concerns the phrase "Nor will ye worship that which I worship". There is some confusion on this verse since it was known that the Makkan idolaters and the other rejecters believed in Allah. However, they did not believe in the other aspects of tawheed such as the belief that all acts of worship must be directed to Allah alone. In the verse 109:3, it says that they do not make Ibadah to Allah, which has been translated as they do not 'worship' Allah, but the term Ibadah is a more comprehensive word. They do not worship Allah, since worship in Islam is utmost devotion and love, but they disobeyed Allah by setting up partners with Him. On Ibadah Shaikh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said,
Ibadah is a collective term for everything that Allaah loves and is pleased with from amongst sayings and inward and outward actions.(SOURCE)
He also said,
Ibadah is obedience to Allaah by carrying out what He has commanded through tongues of His Messengers.(SOURCE)
Hence, the statement that the polytheists did not worship Allah is correct, since their belief in His existence does not equate the Islamic concept of worship and servitude to Allah. Abu Iyaad As-Salafi writes on Ibadah:
The types of Ibaadah are many and include supplication, fear hope, reliance, love of obedience to Allaah, hatred of disobedience to Him, remorse, repentance, seeking aid from Him, vowing, sacrifice, bowing and prostrating and others besides these. Thus the first thing which a Muslim acknowledges is that he has been created for Ibaadah and that is due to his declaration of Laa ilaaha illallaaha (There is none worthy of worship except Allaah alone).(SOURCE)
Hence, the foundation of any Ibadah is the testimony of Islam, that there is none worthy of worship except Allah alone. The simple fact that the polytheists disobeyed Allah, and rejected Islam means that they were not performing Ibadah. (For more information on Ibadah, please click here.)

3. In addition to the above points, we may mention that none of the referred verses state that the disbelievers worshipped Allah. In fact, the very title of "disbelievers" or "rejecters of faith" implies that they do not worship Allah. The other verses only show that the disbelievers accepted Allah's existence.
2:139 Say: Will ye dispute with us about Allah, seeing that He is our Lord and your Lord; that we are responsible for our doings and ye for yours; and that We are sincere (in our faith) in Him?

29:46 And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except with means better (than mere disputation), unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury): but say, "We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our God and your God is one; and it is to Him we bow (in Islam)."

These verses are supposedly evidence that the disbelievers worshipped Allah, because of the mention that "Allah is our Lord and your Lord" or "Your Lord and Our Lord is One". This phrase simply states the Allah has universal control over everyone. As Ibn Kathir comments on 2:139:
((while He is our Lord and your Lord) meaning, He has full control over us and you, and deserves the worship alone without partners. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2000, vol. 1, p.414 )
The statement could even be made to an atheist. If one were to say to an atheist, "Allah is my Lord and your Lord", does this suddenly denote that the atheist worships Allah? Obviously not.
In fact, we find the same example in the Qur'an. Prophet Moses made the same statement to Pharoah who believed that he was a god!
79:21, 24. But (Pharaoh) rejected it and disobeyed (guidance)...Saying, "I am your Lord, Most High"
26:25-26 (Pharaoh) said to those around: "Do you not hear (what he says)?"
(Moses) said: "Your Lord and the Lord of your ancient fathers!"

Clearly, this statement is not evidence that the disbelievers worshipped Allah.

The next verse cited as evidence that the disbelievers worshipped Allah is:
3:64 Say: "O People of the Book! come to common terms as between us and you: That we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than Allah." If then they turn back, say ye: "Bear witness that we (at least) are Muslims (bowing to Allah's Will).
Quite evidently, this verse does not make any mention of the beliefs of the People of the Book and whether they worship Allah or not. The statement highlight is merely the call of the Muslims to people of other faiths. The Muslim invitation is That we worship none but Allah, which is known as Tawheed. If one were to call an atheist to worship none but Allah, does this mean that atheists worship God? Obviously this is an illogical argument.

Another cited verse:
29:61 If indeed thou ask them who has created the heavens and the earth and subjected the sun and the moon (to his Law), they will certainly reply, "(Allah)". How are they then deluded away (from the truth)?
As previously mentioned, the disbelievers did accept Allah's existence and His supremacy, which is known as Tawheed Ar-Rububiyyah. But, they rejected the other aspects of Tawheed, especially directing all worship to Allah alone. They did not wish to give up the power that they held through their idols. (For more information on tawheed please click here).

So this verse cannot be taken as evidence that they worshipped Allah.

16:35 The worshippers of false gods say: "If Allah had so willed, we should not have worshipped aught but Him - neither we nor our fathers,- nor should we have prescribed prohibitions other than His." So did those who went before them. But what is the mission of apostles but to preach the Clear Message?

39:3 Is it not to Allah that sincere devotion is due? But those who take for protectors other than Allah (say): "We only serve them in order that they may bring us nearer to Allah." Truly Allah will judge between them in that wherein they differ. But Allah guides not such as are false and ungrateful.

These verses indicate that the polytheists did not worship Allah directly. They placed between material idols between themselves and Allah. Their Shirk (associating partners with Allah) was so extreme that they had removed Allah from the spiritual sphere of life.
Clearly these verses are not evidence that the disbelievers were truly worshipping Allah. Their prayers and supplications were made to idols.

4. It is also worth mentioning here that the statement from Surat Al-Kaafiroon, "Nor will ye worship that which I worship" means that they will not worship Allah alone wiithout partners, and in accordance with His attributes. As Muhammad Asad mentioned:
In the above rendering, the particle ma ("that which") alludes, on the one hand, to all positive concepts and ethical values - e.g., belief in God and the believer's self-surrender to Him - and, on the other, to false objects of worship and false values, such as man's belief in his own supposed "self-sufficiency" (cf. 96:6-7), or his overriding, almost compulsive "greed for more and more" (surah 102).(Asad, Message of the Qur'an, The Book Foundation 2003)
So "that which we worship" denotes worshipping Allah alone, and devoting everything for His cause. Syed Qutb (d. 1966) also responded to the same question in his tafsir Fi Dhilalil Qur'an:
Although the Arabs before Islam were not disavowing Allah, they did not know Him by the true identity He accorded Himself as the One and the Eternal. (Qutb, In the Shade of the Qur'an, New Crescent Publishing Co. (Revised Ed. 1996), p.328)
Therefore, even worshipping Allah without affirming His attributes is not true worship. As Abul 'Ala Maududi writes:
I do not worship that which you worship- Though the disbelievers worshipped Allah also along with other gods, the worship of all their gods has been disowned, because the worship of Allah, in association with other gods, is no worship at all.(Maududi, The Holy Qur'an Translation and Brief Notes with Text, Islamic Publications (Pvt.) Ltd., 1991, p. 1018, emphasis added)
The above should make it clear that the disbelievers did not serve Allah in any meaningful way, hence the Qur'an commands believers to disavow all that the Makkans serve.


Ansar Al-'Adl
05-09-2005, 11:39 PM
The Sequence of Events in the Children of Israel Worshipping the Calf

Concerning the twenty-third alledged contradiction:
The event of worship of the golden calf: The Israelites repented about worshipping the golden calf BEFORE Moses returned from the mountain [7:149], yet they refused to repent but rather continued to worship the calf until Moses came back [20:91]
Verses in question:
7:149 When they repented, and saw that they had erred, they said: "If our Lord have not mercy upon us and forgive us, we shall indeed be of those who perish."
The context of this verse is as follows:
7:148-150. In his absence the people of Moses made a calf from their ornaments -- an image with a hollow sound. Did they not see that it could neither speak to them nor give them guidance? Yet they worshipped it and thus committed [a great] evil. When they repented, and saw that they had erred, they said: "If our Lord have not mercy upon us and forgive us, we shall indeed be of those who perish." And when Moses returned to his people, angry and sorrowful, he said: 'Evil is the thing you did in my absence! Would you hasten the retribution of your Lord? He threw down the Tablets and, seizing his brother by the hair, dragged him closer. 'Son of my mother,' cried Aaron, 'the people overpowered me and almost killed me. Do not let my enemies gloat over me; do not consider me among the wrongdoers'.

The next verse in question is:
20:91. They had said: "We will not stop worshipping it (i.e. the calf), until Mûsa (Moses) returns to us."

Neither of these verses give a chronological sequence for the events, hence there is no contradiction.
1. Verse 20:91 states that at one point during their worship of the calf, some or all of them announced that they intended to persist in this act until the return of Prophet Moses. This does not mean that they did persist in the act, they only intended to at one point in time. Moreover, some may have persisted while some may have repented.

2. Verse 7:149 also does not necessarily imply whether they repented before or after Prophet Moses's return, nor does it imply whether it was the whole group repenting or just a portion of the group. Many conclude that this verse implies that they repented before the return of Prophet Moses simply because the next verse mentions the return of Prophet Moses. All we can conclude from the verses is that at some point in time some of them repented, and at some point in time, Moses returned and was angry. Mufti Muhammad Shafi, the Late Grand Mufti of Pakistan, writes the following in his monumental tafsir:
When the Bani Isra'il were smitten with the mischief of calf-worship Sayyidna Harun (as) as the deputy of Sayyidna Musa (as) remonstrated with them but to no avail. They split into three factions. Those who remained loyal to Sayyidna Harun (as) and refused to be misled by Samiri and who numbered, according to Qurtubi, twelve thousand. The second faction adopted calf-worship with the reservation that if Sayyidna Musa (as), on his return, forbade them they would give it up. The third faction consisted of zealots who believed that Sayyidna Musa (as) would approve of their action and would join them in calf-worship but even if he did not, they themselves would never give up their new faith. (Shafi, Ma'ariful Qur'an, Maktaba-e-Darul-Uloom, Karachi, 2003, vol. 6, p. 149)
So after reading the Qur'anic verse, there are still a number of possibilites left to the reader. They may have all repented before Moses arrived. They may have all repented after Moses arrived. Some may have repented before, while some may have persisted until Moses arrived, which is what Muft Muhammad Shafi suggests. The Qur'an gives no clear chronological sequence, which leads us to our next point.

3. The Qur'an is not clear on the chronological sequence because it has no reason to be. This is not what Allah wants us to ponder over. Rather, we should ponder over the lesson and moral behind the story. As Allah says about the number of sleepers in the story of the sleepers of the cave:
18:22 (Some) say they were three, the dog being the fourth among them; (others) say they were five, the dog being the sixth, guessing at the unseen; (yet others) say they were seven, the dog being the eighth. Say: "My Lord knows best their number; none knows them but a few." So debate not (about their number, etc.) except with the clear proof (which We have revealed to you). And consult not any of them about (the affair of) the people of the Cave.
Allah has purposely not given us these minor details because they are of no benefit to us. We should instead contemplate the message of the Qur'an.

4. Verse 7:149 has been interpreted in different ways as well. For example, Muhammad Asad renders the verse as follows:
4:179 although [later,] when they would smite their hands in remorse,"' having perceived that they had gone astray, they would say, "Indeed, unless our Sustainer have mercy on us and grant us forgiveness, we shall most certainly be among the lost!""'
This interpretation would indicate that this verse foresees a future event- that they would repent when prophet Moses would arrive. And commenting on the phrase in this verse, Walamma suqita fee aydeehim, Muhammad Asad writes:
Lit., "when it was made to fall upon their hands"-an idiomatic phrase denoting intense remorse, probably derived from the striking ("falling") of hand upon hand as an expression of grief or regret. (Asad, Message of the Qur'an, The Book Foundation 2003)
Ibn Kathir Ad-Damishqi (d. 1372CE) also implies the same message in his book Qasas Al-Anbiyah:
This animal was unable even to seak or answer them. It could not benefit them nor harm them, nor did it have any sign of life in itself. Then how could it be a god?
"And when they repented, and saw that they had gone astray, they said: 'If our Lord does not have mercy on us, and does not forgive us, we shall be among the losers.'" (7:149)
When Moses returned to his people, and saw their worship of the calf, he threw down the Tablets that contained the teachings of the Torah. (Ibn Kathir, Stories of the Prophets, Darussalam Publications 2003, p.419)
The underlined phrase seems to imply that he arrived when they were still persisting in the sin. His comment has been included with the context to demonstrate that he made the comment right after verse 7:149, but did not see any conflict between them.


Ansar Al-'Adl
05-12-2005, 05:44 PM
The Guilt of Aaron in the Children of Israel Worshipping the Calf

Concerning the twenty-fourth alleged contradiction:
Concerning the worshippers of the Calf, does Aaron share in their guilt? No [20:85-90], yes [20:92, 7:151].
Verses in question:
20:85-90 (Allah) said: "Verily! We have tried your people in your absence, and As-Samiri has led them astray."
Then Moses returned to his people in a state of anger and sorrow. He said: "O my people! Did not your Lord promise you a fair promise? Did then the promise seem to you long in coming? Or did you desire that wrath should descend from your Lord on you, so you broke your promise to me (i.e disbelieving in Allah and worshipping the calf)?"
They said: "We broke not the promise to you, of our own will, but we were made to carry the weight of the ornaments of the [Pharaoh's] people, then we cast them (into the fire), and that was what As-Samiri suggested."
Then he took out (of the fire) for them a statue of a calf which seemed to low. They said: "This is your god, and the god of Moses, but (Moses) has forgotten (his god).'"
Did they not see that it could not return them a word (for answer), and that it had no power either to harm them or to do them good?
And Aaron indeed had said to them beforehand: "O my people! You are being tried in this, and verily, your Lord is (Allah) the Most Beneficent, so follow me and obey my order."

20:92 He [Moses] said: O Aaron, what hindered you from stopping them when you saw them going astray?

7:150-151 And when Moses returned to his people, angry and sorrowful, he said: 'Evil is the thing you did in my absence! Would you hasten the retribution of your Lord? He threw down the Tablets and, seizing his brother by the hair, dragged him closer. 'Son of my mother,' cried Aaron, 'the people overpowered me and almost killed me. Do not let my enemies gloat over me; do not consider me among the wrongdoers'. 'Lord,' said Moses, 'forgive me and my brother. Admit us to Your mercy, for, of all those that show mercy, You are the most merciful.'

1. Quite clearly, none of the verses of the Qur'an imply anything close to Aaron's guilt in the matter. Prophet Moses pbuh left Aaron in charge of his people when he went to recieve the revelation from Allah. Verse 20:90 indicates that Aaron struggled against the sin of his people and persisted in calling them back to the truth. As Shaykh Abdul Majid Daryabadi (d. 1979CE) comments on this verse:
This more than vindicates Aaron's unflinching monotheism against the aspersions of the Bible. (Daryabadi, The Glorious Qur'an: Text, Translation & Commentary, The Islamic Foundation 2001, p.571)
So the Qur'an clearly differs from the Bible in this regard, as the Bible states that Aaron was an accomplice in the crime, while the Qur'an maintains his constant opposition to evil, throughout this trial.

2. Verses 20:92 and 7:150-151 state that Prophet Moses pbuh was upset upon his return and was angry with Aaron for not preventing his people from worshipping the calf. We know that Aaron tried to stop them and called out to them, but they persisted in their sin and threatened to kill him. At no point does the Qur'an say that he joined them in their sin. Commenting on verse 7:150, Ibn Kathir Ad-Damishqi (d. 1372CE) writes:
(..and seized his brother by (the hair of) his head and dragged him towards him.)for Moses feared that Aaron might not have tried hard enough to forbid them from their evil action. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2000, vol. 4, p.166 )
Therefore, Prophet Moses pbuh was angry with Prophet Aaron pbuh because he feared he did not try hard enough to prevent the sin. But, Aaron never committed the sin himself. As Moiz Amjad writes:
The words: "what hindered you from stopping them when you saw them going astray?" can by no means be taken to imply that Moses (pbuh) thought Aaron (pbuh) to be an accomplice in the crime of the calf worshippers. At the most they can be taken to signify Moses' (pbuh) anger at Aaron (pbuh) for not stopping the Israelites from committing the heinous crime. The same is the case of Al-A`raaf 7: 150.(SOURCE)

3. Verse 7:151 shows Prophet Moses making a prayer of forgiveness for himself and Prophet Aaron. It is claimed that this is an indication that Aaron was part of the crime. If that was the case, why has Moses included himself in the prayer of forgiveness? Evidently, Moses is asking forgiveness for himself and Aaron because they did not prevent their people from sinning. The prayer of forgiveness does NOT mean that they were involved in the sin, themselves.

4. On the issue of who made the calf, it is claimed that the Qur'anic accounts are contradictory. The Qur'an states:
7:148 And the people of Moses made in his absence, out of their ornaments, the image of a calf (for worship). It had a sound (as if it was mooing). Did they not see that it could neither speak to them nor guide them to the way? They took it for worship and they were wrong-doers.
This verse indicates that the people of Moses made the calf in his absence, out of their ornaments or jewelry.

20:87-88. They said: "We broke not the promise to you, of our own will, but we were made to carry the weight of the ornaments of the [Pharaoh's] people, then we cast them (into the fire), and that was what As-Samiri suggested."
Then he took out (of the fire) for them a statue of a calf which seemed to low. They said: "This is your god, and the god of Moses, but (Moses) has forgotten (his god).'"

This verse does not contradict the former verse in any way. It clearly states that the Israelites participated in the making of the calf, when they threw the ornaments into the fire. Then As-Samiri shaped it for them. There are different interpretations on who As-Samiri was. As Ibn Kathir mentions in his Tafsir Al-Qur'an Al-Azim:
Muhammad Ibn Ishaq reported from Ibn Abbas that he said, "As-Samiri was a man from the people of Bajarma, a people who wroshipped cows. He still had the love of cow worshipping in his soul. However, he acted as though he had accepted Islam with the Children of Israel. His name was Musa bin Zafar. (fn. Tarikh At-Tabari 1:424) Qatadah said, "He was from the village of Samarra. (fn. At-Tabari 18:363) (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2000, vol. 6, p.382 )
Ibn Kathir gives his own opinion on this matter is his Qasas Al-Anbiyah:
A man from the among the Israelites, whose name was Aaron Samiri, came forth and took all the jewellery which had been borrowed from the Egyptians, and moulded it into a calf after he had melted them. (Ibn Kathir, Stories of the Prophets, Darussalam Publications 2003, p.418)

According to Ibn Kathir's interpretation, As-Samiri was an Israelite himself, and made the calf with the help of his fellow Israelites. Either way, there is no contradiction between this verse and the above. (For a more detailed discussion on As-Samiri please see articles by the Islamic-Awareness.org team).

20:85 (Allah) said: "Verily! We have tried/tested your people in your absence, and As-Samiri has led them astray.
It is claimed by critics that this verse suggests that it was Allah who made the calf, which contradicts the previous verses.
As we have mentioned in previous articles, Allah may test us in different ways. Allah tested the Children of Israel through the tricks of As-Samiri. Everything happens by the permission of Allah. Please refer to On the Origin of Calamity.
Some scholars also believed that the calf made by the Israelites made an actual sound, and moved, i.e. it became alive. If that is the case, then Allah made it come to life as a test for the children of Israel, and there is still no contradiction. But the majority of scholars believe that it did not come to life.


Ansar Al-'Adl
05-16-2005, 11:28 PM
Was Jonah Cast on the Desert Shore?

Concerning the twenty-fifth alleged contradiction,
Was Jonah cast on the desert shore or was he not? "Then We cast him on a desert shore while he was sick" [37:145] "Had not Grace from his Lord reached him, he would indeed have been cast off on the naked shore while he was reprobate." [68:49]
Verses in question:
37:145 But We cast him forth on the naked shore while he was sick

68:49 Had not a Grace from his Lord reached him, he would indeed have been cast off on the naked shore, while he was to be blamed/disgraced.

1. It is very clear from the ahadith and the tafsir, that Prophet Jonah (Yunus) was saved by Allah, and released from the belly of the whale, upon the shore. Verse 68:49 is not disputing this fact at all. In reality, when one examines the verse more carefully, it becomes evident that the claim of verse 68:49 is that had Allah not been merciful and forgiven Jonah, he would have been blamed and disgraced for his mistake. This interpretation has been emphasized very clearly in several commentaries on this verse. Muhammad Asad writes in his commentary on the Qur'an:
"[And remember:] had not grace from his Sustainer reached him, he would indeed have been cast forth upon that barren shore in a state of disgrace" Lit., "while he was still blameworthy", i.e., burdened with sin and unredeemed by repentance: implying that but for God's grace he would have died as a sinner. (Asad, Message of the Qur'an, The Book Foundation 2003)
Shaykh `Abd al-Wahhab al-Turayri comments on the verse by saying:
The pertinent phrase at the end of the verse is wa huwa madhmum. It means 'while in a state of disgrace' or 'while in a state of sinfulness'.
The verse mentions the state that Jonah (peace be upon him) would have been in when he was cast off had it not been for the mercy off Allah. The verse is not saying that he was not cast off at all, but that he was not in disgrace when he was cast off.
Indeed, Allah says immediately thereafter:Thus did his Lord choose him and make him of the Company of the Righteous. [Surah al-Qalam: 50]

The same interpretation is emphasized by Imaam Abu Abdullah Al-Qurtubi (d. 1273CE) in his monumental Al-Jaami` le Ahkaam al-Qur'an:
(he would indeed have been thrown on the upon the barren shore, disgraced), that is to say that if he had not been blessed by his Lords favor he would then have been thrown in disgrace, however, he was thrown in a state of illness, not in a state of disgrace. (Tafsir Al-Qurtubi)
Imaam Fakhr Ad-Din Ar-Raazi (d. 1209CE) writes the same thing, in his comprehensive Tafsir Al-Kabir:
Had it not been for this [mentioned] favor [of his Lord], he would have been thrown on the naked shore with the attribute of disgrace. However, due to this favor [of his Lord], though the "throwing on the barren shore" was still there, yet it was without the attribute of disgrace. Thus, when the attribute of disgrace was not there, then he [Jonah] was not thrown on the barren shore in disgrace. (Tafsir Al-Kabir)
Imaam Abdur-Rahman Ibn al-Jawzee (d. 1201CE) writes in his commentary on the Qur'an:
The meaning of the verse is that he was cast off without being in a state of disgrace, and this was on account of Allah’s grace on him due to his repentance and Allah’s mercy. (Zaad al-Masir 8/369)
A more detailed list of quotes on this subject, is found in this article.

2. Ibn al-Jawzee then goes on to explain that Ibn Jurayj had an entirely different interpretation for the verse. Ibn Jurayj interpreted “al-`urâ’” (the naked shore) in this verse to mean the place of gathering on the Day of Resurrection. Therefore, he saw the verse as negating Jonah’s being cast forth from the whale on the Day of Resurrection. Ibn Jurayj, consequently, understood the verse to mean that had it not been for the grace of Allah, Jonah (peace be upon him) would have remained in the whale until the Day of Resurrection and then been cast off in a blameworthy state.

The interpretation of Ibn Jurayj is not an attempt to avoid any supposed contradiction between this verse and verse 145 of Surah al-Saaffat (chapter 37). Rather, it is derived from verses 143-144 of Surah al-Saaffat:
37:143-144. And had he not been one of those who glorify (Allah), He would have tarried in its belly till the day when they are raised.

Al-Qurtubi makes this clear, saying:
It has been claimed that the meaning is: Had it not been for the grace of Allah, He would have remained in the belly of the whale until the Day of Resurrection and then been cast off on the plain of the Resurrection in disgrace. This is derived from Allah’s words ‘And had he not been one of those who glorify (Allah), He would have tarried in its belly till the day when they are raised’. (Tafsir al-Qurtubi)

Shaykh Mahmud Al-Alusi (d. 1853CE) also points this out and then astutely observes:
The far-fetched nature of this interpretation cannot go unnoticed. (Ruh al-Ma`ani 29/34)

Shaykh `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî comments on the interpretations:
The opinion of the majority of commentators – and not that of Ibn Jurayj – is the most likely one and the one that is apparent from the Arabic language.

The opinion of the majority of commentators being referred to here, is that which was explained in the first portion of this article.

3. Another point to note is that of the arabic language. The verb being used in verse 68:49 and 37:145 for "cast off" is actually being used in two different implications. In verse 37:145, it implies the initiation of an action, while in verse 68:49, it implies the continuation of an action.

Moiz Amjad provides the following explanation:
Verbs in the classical Arabic language were used in varying shades of their meanings. Sometimes the verb may be used to imply only the beginning or the initiation of the action (relating to that verb), sometimes it may be used to imply the completion of the action (in that verb) and sometimes, it maybe used to imply the continuity or the perpetuation of the action (in that verb)...
If the above explanation is fully understood, it would then not be difficult to understand that the verb "nabadha" in the two referred verses is actually used in two slightly different implications. In the first verse (Al-Saaffaat 37: 145), the verb implies the initiation or the beginning of the action in that verb, while in the second verse (Al-Qalam 68: 49), it implies the continuity or the perpetuation or the permanence of the action. Thus, keeping this explanation in mind, the the second verse should actually have been translated in a slightly different manner. In my opinion, a more accurate translation of the second verse would be:
Had it not been for the favor of his Lord upon him, he would indeed have been left thrown away upon the barren shore, disgraced.
N. J. Dawood, who seems to be well aware of this usage of the verbs in the classical Arabic language, has translated Al-Saaffaat 37: 145 in the following words:
We threw him, gravely ill, upon a desolate shore.
and then has very accurately translated Al-Qalam 68: 49 as:
Had his Lord not bestowed on him His grace, he would have been abandoned in the open to be blamed by all.
This, in my opinion, is the correct translation of Al-Qalam 68: 49. (SOURCE)
From the above explanation, we understand that the distinction between 68:49 and 37:145 is that the former states that he did not remain abandoned upon the desert, while the latter sates that he was cast on the desrt and recovered from his poor condition.


Ansar Al-'Adl
06-01-2005, 06:31 PM
The Reference to the Injeel and the time of Moses

Concerning the twenty-sixth alleged contradiction,
Moses and the Injil? Jesus is born more than 1,000 years after Moses, but in 7:157 Allah speaks to Moses about what is written in the Injil [the book given to Jesus].
The verses in question:
And Moses chose seventy of his people for Our place of meeting: when they were seized with violent quaking, he prayed: "O my Lord! if it had been Thy will Thou couldst have destroyed, long before, both them and me: wouldst Thou destroy us for the deeds of the foolish ones among us? this is no more than Thy trial: by it Thou causest whom Thou wilt to stray, and Thou leadest whom Thou wilt into the right path. Thou art our Protector: so forgive us and give us Thy mercy; for Thou art the best of those who forgive.

156. "And ordain for us that which is good, in this life and in the Hereafter: for we have turned unto Thee." He said: "With My punishment I visit whom I will; but My mercy extendeth to all things. That (mercy) I shall ordain for those who do right, and practise regular charity, and those who believe in Our signs"

[It is they] who are [now] following the messenger - the Unlettered Prophet - whom they find mentioned in the Torah and the Gospel. He enjoins righteousness upon them and forbids them from evil. He makes clean things lawful to them and prohibits all that is foul. He relieves them of their burdens and of the shackles that had weighed upon them. Thus, those who have believed in him and have honored him and have aided him and have followed the light sent down with him, are the ones that shall indeed triumph.

Say [to them O Prophet,]: O people! I am God's messenger to you all. [The God] Who has sovereignty over the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. There is no god but Him. He ordains life and causes death. Therefore have faith in God and His messenger, the Unlettered Prophet, who believes in God and His commandments. Follow him so that you may be rightly guided.

1. The first point to note, is that this verse does not necessarily have to be part of Allah's dialogue with prophet Moses pbuh. It remains perfectly logical for verse 7:157 to be presented seperately from the two previous verses, or in relation to verse 7:158. For example, M. Farooq-i-Azam Malik renders verse 7:157 with the following interpretation:
(Now special mercy is assigned to) those who follow the Rasool, the unlettered Prophet (Muhammad)....
Hence, it is a seperate reference from Allah's speech to Prophet Moses. This interpretation is supported by the use of past tenses in the verse.

2. Even if this is interpreted as part of the dialogue with Prophet Moses pbuh, it can still be considered a prophecy of future times. As Abdullah Yusuf Ali writes:
In this verse is a pre-figuring, to Moses, of the Arabian Apostle, the last and greatest of the apostles of God. Prophecies about him will be found in the Taurat and the Injeel.
These translators also use the translation of "whom they will find" or "whom they shall find", indicating it is a future prophecy.


Ansar Al-'Adl
07-03-2005, 11:40 PM
Concerning the Food for the Inhabitants of Hell

Concerning the twenty-seventh alleged contradiction:
What will be the food for the people in Hell? The food for the people in Hell will be only "Dhari" [Sura 88:6], or only foul pus from the washing of wounds [S. 69:36], or will they also get to eat from the tree of Zaqqum [S. 37:66]? Together, these verses constitute three contradictions.
Verses in question:
88:6 No food will there be for them but a bitter Dari'
69:36-37 "Nor hath he any food except of Ghisleen. None will eat it except the Khati'un. (sinners)

37:62-68. Is that the better entertainment or the Tree of Zaqqum?
For We have truly made it (as) a trial for the wrong-doers.
For it is a tree that springs out of the bottom of Hell-Fire:
The shoots of its fruit-stalks are like the heads of devils:
Truly they will eat thereof and fill their bellies therewith.
Then on top of that they will be given a mixture made of boiling water. Then shall their return be to the (Blazing) Fire.

The first task is to define these three substances found in Hellfire. Imaam Ibn Kathir Ad-Damishqi (d. 1372CE) has given a thorogh discussion of these terms in his renowned Tafsir Al-Qur'an Al-Azim. Concerning the Dari, he writes:
Ali ibn Abi Talhah reported from Ibn Abbas that he said, "A tree from the Hellfire." (fn. At-Tabari 24:383). Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, 'Ikrimah, Abu Al-Jawza' and Qatadah, all said, "It is Ash-Shibriq (a type of plant)." Qatadah said, "The Quraysh called it Ash-Shabraq in the spring and Ad-Dari in the Summer." Ikrimah said, "It is a thorny tree which reaches down to the ground." (fn. At-Tabari 24:384). Al-Bukhari related that Mujahid said, "Ad-Dari is a plant that is called Ash-Shibriq. The people of Hijaz call it Ad-Dari when it dries, and it is poisonous." (fn. Fath Al-Bari 8:570). Ma'mar narrated that Qatadah said, "No food will there be for them but Dari, this is Ash-Shibriq. When it dries it is called Ad-Dari." (fn. At-Tabari 24:384). Sa'id narrated from Qatadah that he said, "No food will there be for them but Dari, this is the worst, most disgusting and loathsome of foods." (fn. At-Tabari 24:384). (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2000, vol. 10, p. 457)
This detailed discussion clarifies the meaning of the word beyond any doubts. We can conclude that Ad-Dari refers to any of thorny plant, similar to a species know to the Quraysh, while it also carries the wider meaning of a disgusting and loathsome food. Moving on to Ghislin, Imaam Ibn Kathir once again provides a detailed commentary:
Qatadah said, "it will be the worst food of the people of the Hell-fire." (fn. At-Tabari 23:591). Ar-Rabi' and Ad-Dahhak both said, "It (Ghislin) is a tree in Hell." Shabib bin Bishr reported from ikrimah that Ibn Abbas said, 'Ghislin will be the blood and fluid that will flow from their flesh." Ali bin Abi Talhah reported from Ibn Abbas that he said, "Ghislin is the pus of the people of the Hell-fire." (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2000, vol. 10, p. 148)
The discussion of Ghisleen seems to point out two different views. One is that it is a tree in Hell, while there are other views that it refers to a collection of foul liquids, especially those fluids from the victims of Hell. Meanwhile others refer to it as simply the worst punishment. This information will be useful later on in the discussion. Concerning the Tree of Zaqqum, there is little ambiguity here, and it is sufficient to quote the explanation of Shaykh Umar Sulayman Al-Ashqar, Professor at the University of Jordan, who says:
What we may understand from these âyât is that this tree is a repulsive tree, whose roots go deep into the bottom of Hell, and whose branches stretch forth all over. Its fruits are so ugly that they are likened to the heads of devils, so that everyone may easily understand just how ugly they are, even though they have never seen them. Although this tree is so vile and obnoxious, the people of Hell will become so hungry that they will have no choice but to eat from it until they are full. When they have filled their bellies, this food will start to churn like boiling oil, which will cause a great deal of suffering to them. (Al-Ashqar, The Final Day : Part 3 - Paradise And Hell In the Light of the Quran and Sunnah, International Islamic Publishing House 2000, p.104)
This is how it has been described in Surat Ad-Dukhan:
44:43-46. Verily, the tree of Zaqqûm, Will be the food of the sinners, Like boiling oil, it will boil in the bellies, Like the boiling of scalding water.
Various Qur'anic commentators mentioned that this will tear up the innards of the inhabitant of Hell. From this verse we note that eating from Tree of Zaqqum gives rise to boiling oil in the internal organs, which tear them apart, releasing bodily fluids. In concluding the descriptions, one should also note that the Hereafter - both Heaven and Hell - is beyond the limits of Human understanding, and therefore these descriptions are only meant to paint a vague idea of the actual torment, for it is torment, the like of which no human mind can conceive.

At this stage, there are several ways of explaining the alleged contradiction.

1. Linguistically, there is no contradiction between only eating Dari, and eating from the Tree of Zaqqum. Ad-Dari is a general term for the thorny plants found in Hell-fire, the greatest of which is the Tree of Zaqqum. There is also no contradiction if we understand Ghisleen to refer to a Tree, as many of the early scholars did. This is what has been narrated from Ar-Rabi and Ad-Dahhak about what verse 69:36 means, as they said, "It (Ghislin) is a tree in Hell."

2. We can also reconcile the verses by seeking a more comprehensive definition of Ghisleen. Muhammad Asad made an interesting comment on the meaning of Ghisleen:
The noun ghislin, which appears in the Qur'an only in this one instance, has been variously - and very contradictorily - explained by the early commentators. Ibn Abbas, when asked about it, frankly answered, "I do not know what ghislin denotes" (Razi). The term "filth" used by me contains an allusion to the "devouring" of all that is abominable in the spiritual sense: cf. its characterization in the next verse as "[that] which none but the sinners eat" – i.e. (metaphorically) in this world, and, consequently, in the hereafter as well. (Asad, Message of the Qur'an, The Book Foundation 2003)
This is a likely explanation since the punishments of Hell-fire are beyond human understanding, and therefore any reference to punishment in Hell is naturally a general reference. It is logical that Ghisleen is a comprehensive term used to refer to filth of any form.

3. Even if we state that Ghisleen does indeed refer to a collection of foul liquids, then it becomes clear that one source of Ghisleen is the Dari plants. In fact, Imaam Abu Abdullah Al-Qurtubi (d. 1272 CE) mentions in his commentary, Al-Jaami'li Ahkaam Al-Qur'aan, the following narration:
Khalid bin Ziyad said: I heard Al-Mutawakil bin Hamdan ask about this verse, "They will not have any food except from Dharee'" He said: It has reached me that Al-Dharee' is a tree in hell-fire [Jahanam] bearing blood and puss, with a bitter taste and that is their food. (SOURCE)
Thus, from this explanation of the early scholars it becomes clear that ghisleen is found in the Dari and the Zaqqum. It can be interpreted to describe another aspect of the same food. Therefore, ingesting Dari is equivalent to ingesting Ghisleen.

4. It should also be noted that the meaning of the verse in Arabic is meant to imply that there is no food other than food of such a nature. This is the beauty of the Qur'anic arabic, as Syed Qutb (d. 1966CE) notes:
They are "made to drink from a boiling fountain. Their only food shall be the fruit of Dhari', which will neither nourish nor satisfy their hunger." Dhari' is said to be a tree of fire in Hell. This explanation is based on what has been revealed about the tree of "zayqoom" which grows at the centre of Hell. It is also said to be a kind of cactus thorn, which when green is called "shabraq" and is eaten by camels. However, when it is fully grown it cannot be eaten as it becomes poisonous. Whatever it is in reality, it is a kind of food like "ghisleen" and "shabraq" (names given by the Qur'an to refer to the food available in Hell) which neither nourishes nor appeases hunger.

It is obvious that we, in this world, cannot fully comprehend the nature of that suffering and torture in the hereafter. The description is made in order to give our human perceptions the feeling of the greatest possible pain, which is produced by a combination of humiliation, weakness, failure, the scorching fire, drinking and bathing in boiling water, and eating food unacceptable even to the camels.

From all these aspects we get a feeling of the ultimate affliction. But the affliction of the hereafter is, nevertheless, greater. Its true nature is incomprehensible except to those who will actually experience it. May Allah never count us among them. (SOURCE)
Similary, another scholar says:
Here there is a question that some other ayaat are talking about some other type of food people will have in the Hell-fire. Just like inna shajarata zaqqum - a tree that's called az-zaqqum. When Allah SWT says they will have only this thing to eat, it simply means they will have only these type of items in the Hell-fire. Nothing of real food. Everything that they will use for food over there will not be really food, just like they will go to that stream of pus and would start drinking from it - its not food. They would go to those trees that have poisoned fruits, full of thorns, and they will start chewing that - [but] it's not something to eat. So, it simply means nothing that deserves to be used as a food over there. People will just start taking things from here and there, whatever they find they will just start eating those.
Hence, the type of exclusion given in the verses does not exclude substances of a similar nature. If the verses were about this life, and one stated that a group of people would have no food but terrible thorny plants, while another verse stated that the same group would have roast chicken (or some other pleasant food), then it might be a contradiction. However, this is not the case here. The meaning of the Qur'an is clear that no matter what the food, it will be an unbearable torture beyond human imagination.

5. Lastly, it should be noted that there are different levels in Hell, and different groups in Hell. All these groups will recieve different punishments depending on what they deserve. The verse about Ghisleen states that none shall eat it except the khati'un (a category of sinners), who neither believed in Allah nor fed the poor and needy. Meanwhile, the chapter about Dari is only speaking about some people who will enter Naaran Haamiyah (88:2-4), which some scholars describe as a certain level of Hell-fire. As Imaam Al-Qurtubi mentions in his tafsir:
Allah has said: "Therefore he has not here today a true friend, Nor any food save filth" [Al-Haqqah, 35-36] Allah said here "Nor any food save filth" which is different than Ghisleen. It is believed that Hell-fire is made of levels, those who eat from al-zaqoom, those who eat from al-ghisleen, those who eat from Al-dharee', those who drink from hameem, and those who drink from As-sideed. Al-Kalbi said: Al-Dharee' is for those on a certain station [in Hell] and Al-zaqoom are for those on a different station. (SOURCE)
Therefore, this explanation from the earliest sources also refutes the alleged contradiction.
These points should demonstrate that these verses do not signify a contradiction at all.


Ansar Al-'Adl
07-06-2005, 10:56 PM
Forgiveness for Slander of Chaste Women

The Twenty-eighth allegation:
Can slander of chaste women be forgiven? Yes [24:5], No [24:23].
Verses in question:
24:4-5. And those who launch a charge against chaste women, and produce not four witnesses (to support their allegations),- flog them with eighty stripes; and reject their evidence ever after: for such men are wicked transgressors;-Unless they repent thereafter and mend (their conduct); for Allah is Oft- Forgiving, Most Merciful.

24:23 Those who slander chaste women, indiscreet but believing, are cursed in this life and in the Hereafter: for them is a grievous Penalty.

The offence being referred to here is called Al-Qadhf, in Islamic law. It is defined simply as an unproven allegation that another individual has committed adultery or fornication. The response to this alleged contradiction is as follows:

1. The first point to note is that forgiveness is offered for any sin from which a person sincerely repents. As Allah SWT says in the Qur'an:
39:53 Say: "O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah. for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
This is a point that has been unanimously agreed upon by the scholars of Islam. Allah is mercfiul and loves to forgive, hence Allah will forgive any sin, major or minor, so long as the believer turns to Allah with sincere repentance. In Islam, sincere repentance entails the following conditions:
a) The sinner refrains from the sin
b) the sinner must feel remorse for having committed the sin
c) The sinner vows never to return to that sin, fearing Allah's punishment
In the case of sins which involve other parties, the scholars have outlined another condition. As Shaykh Abdul Aziz Ibn Baz (d.1999), the late Grand Mufti Saudi Arabia, states:
If your sin involves a right of a human being, then we must add a fourth condition: you must return to them their rights, whether it is wealth or something else; otherwise, you must seek their pardon. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, "Whoever has wronged his brother regarding his honor or something else, let him seek his pardon today..." (Bukhari #2449) (Fatawa Islamiyah, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2002, vol. 7, p.254)
Therefore, forgiveness is granted to one who commits Al-Qadhf, so long as he or she sincerely repents to Allah, which includes obtaining the forgiveness of the one against whom the allegation was made. If these conditions are met, there is no doubt that Allah will forgive such a person.

2. The point of confusion seems to arise from verse 24:23 because it mentions that those who commit Al-Qadhf are cursed (arabic: Al-Lanah) in this life and in the hereafter. However, the meaning of Allah's curse is not that such people will never be forgiven. A similar verse in the Qur'an also uses the same phrase:
33:57 Those who affront Allah and His Messenger - Allah has cursed them in this World and in the Hereafter, and has prepared for them a humiliating Punishment.
Explaining the meaning of the curse, Muhammad Asad writes in his commentary:
In classical Arabic, the term lanah is more or less synonymous with ibad (“removal into distance” or “banishment”); hence. God’s lanah denotes “His rejection of a sinner from all that is good” (Lisan al-Arab) or “exclusion from His grace” (Manar II, 50). (Asad, Message of the Qur'an, The Book Foundation 2003)
Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih Al-Uthaymeen gives a similar explanation in response to a questioner:
[The Questioner] asked whether he was cursed by Allah during the time he committed the acts of disobedience. We say that Allah's curse could have taken place while one is committing the act of disobedience or the warranted punishment could be delayed in accordance with what Allah's will decreed for him and His wisdom. But we do know that if Allah Almighty accepts his repentance, that the curse is non-existent. This is because Allah;s curse means banishment and exclusion from His mercy, and whoever repents in within Allah's mercy. (Fatawa Islamiyah, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2002, vol. 7, pp.237-238)
Therefore, there is no contradiction at all. On one hand, we have a verse that mentions sincere repentance as a means for forgiveness of Al-Qadhf, while on the other hand, we have a verse which states that those who commit Al-Qadhf are excluded from Allah's mercy if they do not repent. As Shaykh Muhammad Iqbal An-Nadvi, former Asst. Professor at the King Saud University in Riyadh, mentions:
The curse of Allah mentioned is a conditional curse, which only applies to those who do not repent. The curse is not on the one who repents with sincere repentance.
In his translation of verse 24:23, Muhammad Asad adds the phrase "without repentance" in parenthesis and provides the following comment:
According to Razi, the absence of repentance is incontrovertibly implied in the condemnation expressed in the sequence, since the Quran makes it clear in many places that God always accepts a sinner’s sincere repentance. (Asad, Message of the Qur'an, The Book Foundation 2003)
Moiz Amjad provides a similar explanation:
Keeping the above explanation in perspective, it should be clear that even though Al-Noor 24: 23 has not mentioned the exception clause, yet it is clear that even there the punishment mentioned is for such slanderers who do not repent on their past doings and do not correct their behavior. The verse, should more accurately be understood as follows:
Those who slander against chaste, innocent, believing women [and then neither repent for their slander nor correct their behavior], shall indeed be cursed in this world as well as the hereafter. For them shall be a grievous punishment. (SOURCE)
Therefore, verse 24:23 is understood to refer to those sinners who commit Al-Qadhf and do not repent from it. It is not mentioned in the verse since it is already mentioned throughout the Qur'an, including the same Surah.

3. Before completing this discussion, it is also important to mention the position of repentance in Islamic law. The scholars have agreed that if someone commits a sin, it is better for them to repent before it is brought into the legal system, so that they may avoid the punishment. As Shaykh Muhammad Iqbal An-Nadvi mentions:
With regards to the sinner who repents, they may be pardoned if their repentance occurs before the case enters the legal procdure. After that, it must be dealt with according to the legal system.
Likewise, Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih Al-Munajjid, a prominent Islamic scholar and author in Saudi Arabia, writes:
The offenses which the sultan (Muslim ruler) hears of are the ones for which the hudood punishments must be carried out. As for those of which he does not hear, then it is better to repent from them and to conceal oneself with the concealment of Allaah. (SOURCE)
The reason behind this ruling is obvious. When a case is submitted to the legal system, it is no longer private. Once it becomes public, it becomes a societal issue, and the danger of the sin spreading is greater if it is not dealt with. Therefore, anyone judged under the Islamic legal system can no longer be pardoned since their sin has become public. Once they are punished for their sin, the scholars are agreed that the sinner has been expiated for the sin, and thus purified. The punishment in this life will remove their punishment that they would have experienced in the next life.
If the sinner repents during the procedure, or once the punishment is applied to him, then the repentance removes their status of being "wicked transgressors" and they are accepted into society, once again. The majority of scholars agree that such a person may have their record cleaned, and regain their right to act as a witness. However, Imaam Abu Hanifa differed on this issue as Shaykh Muhammad S. Al-Awa, a former Assoc. Professor of Law at the University of Riyadh, notes:
According to the Hanafi school, this repentance does not affect the fact that the criminal's future testimony is to be rejected. (fn. Sarakhshi, Mabsut, vol. XVI, pp. 125-129). The Shafi'i, Maliki, Hanbali, and Zaydi schools hold a contrary view, according to which the testimony of the criminal can be accepted after his repentance. (fn. Shirbini's commentary on Nawawi's Minhaj al-Talibin, vol. IV, p.403 ff.; Mawwaq, commentary on Mukhtasar Khalil, vol. VI, p. 161; Mughni, vol. X, pp. 178-181; Al-Rawad al-Nadir, vol. IV, pp. 85-87.) (El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law; US American Trust Publications, 1993, p. 23)

4. Some Muslims also explain the alleged contradiction by stating that the verses refer to different cases of Al-Qadhf. As Misha'al bin Abdullah writes:
The general guideline is that Allah, who excels in mercy and forgiveness, does forgive all sins with repentance, as a general rule... Even this tremendous sin [of Al-Qadhf] can be forgiven if the person sincerely repents and turns to God in penitence before death. This is the general rule. However, there is an exception to this rule and this is found in the second set of verses a little further down this same chapter.
In the second set of verses we are dealing with a completely different context and situation. This set of verses was revealed regarding a group of hypocrites lead by Abdullah ibn Ubai ibn Salool who tried to frame Aisha the wife of the prophet (pbut) and cast doubt on her integrity and chastity by alleging infidelity with a Muslim by the name of Safwan ibn Al-Muattal...This was a time of severe discord and tribulation and was not resolved until God revealed their innocence in this set of verses. The difference is that in this case the sin shall not be forgiven since it was directed at the prophet's wife in an attempt to destroy both their reputations. (SOURCE)
And Shahid bin Waheed uses a similar explanation:
I would like to state that the verse 24:4 (which the claimant did not mention) is setting a general rule about false accusation against a chaste woman and its punishment, whereas verse 24:23 is about the exceptional rule for believing women, i.e. Muslim women. Verse 24:5 is about repentance and forgiveness. (SOURCE)
And Shaahin Amiri-Sharifi states:
verse 24:5 is about "women" in general, even unbelievers but 24:23 talks about "believing women". (SOURCE)
However, the agreed upon opinion is that which was already explained under points #1, #2, #3. That is the explanation which is in accordance with Islamic law.


Ansar Al-'Adl
07-16-2005, 02:01 AM
How the Disbelievers will recieve their record on Judgement Day

Concerning the twenty-ninth alleged contradiction:
How do we receive the record on Judgment Day? On Judgement day the lost people are given the Record (of their bad deeds): Behind their back [84:10], or in their left hand [69:25].
Verses in question:
69:25-31 And he that will be given his Record in his left hand, will say: "Ah! Would that my Record had not been given to me! And that I had never realised how my account (stood)! Ah! Would that (Death) had made an end of me! Of no profit to me has been my wealth! My power has perished from me!"...
(The stern command will say): "Seize ye him, and bind ye him, And burn ye him in the Blazing Fire."

84:10-12 But he who is given his Record behind his back Soon will he cry for perdition, And he will enter a Blazing Fire.

1. It is strange how such verses can be considered contradictory at all! Is it not possible for someone to recieve their record in both their left hand and behind their back at the same time? Indeed, this is what all the scholars of Tafsir have mentioned about these verses. Imaam Ibn Kathir Ad-Damishqi (d. 1372CE) explains in his renowned Tafsir Al-Qur'an Al-Azim:
(But whosoever is given his Record behind his back,) meaning, he will be given his Book in his left hand, behind his back, while his hand is bent behind him. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2000, vol. 10, p.417 )
Similarly, Abul 'Ala Maududi (d.1979CE) writes about verse 84:10 in his prominent Tafheem Al-Qur'an:
In Surah Al-Haaqqah (v.25), it was said that his conduct-book will be given to him in his left hand, but here it is "behind his back". This will probably be for the reason that in order to avoid the humiliation of recieving the conduct-book in the left hand, in front of mankind, he will withdraw his hand behind and so recieve the conduct book "behind his back". (Maududi, The Holy Qur'an Translation and Brief Notes with Text, Islamic Publications (Pvt.) Ltd., 1991, p. 1018)
Syed Qutb (d. 1966CE), a revolutionary Muslim writer, gives the same explanation as well in his commentary, Fi Dhilalil Qur'an:
The Qur'an usually makes a distinction between receiving the book with one's right hand or left hand. Here we have a new image: the book is given from behind the back. There is no reason to prevent the combination of anyone being given the book in his left hand and from behind his back at the same time. It is an image of one who feels great shame and hates to be confronted with what he has done. We have no real knowledge of the nature of this book or how it is given in one's right or left hand or behind one's back. But we comprehend from the first expression the reality of escape, and from the second the reality of doom. (SOURCE)
The above commentary should make it obvious that this allegation does not even approach a contradiction.

2. Even for the sake of argument, we assume that it is contradictory to recieve something in one's left hand and behind the back, there are still other explanations. Why must both verses be referring to the same group? it is entirely possible that they are not referring to the same group of "doomed people". Also, one may give a metaphorical explanation as Muhammad Asad states:
But as for him whose record shall be given to him behind his back;*
* At first glance, this seems to contrast with 69:25, where it is stated that the record of the unrighteous "shall be placed in his left hand". In reality, however; the present formulation alludes to the sinner's horror at his record, and his wish that he had never been shown it (69:25-26): in other words, his not wanting to see it is symbolized by its appearance "behind his back". (Asad, Message of the Qur'an, The Book Foundation 2003)
Indeed, this is plausible for human beings do not even know the nature of these records they will be given on the day of judgement. Will they be physical codices or scrolls? Or will they be in a different form, foreign to the human mind? If it is the latter, then we do not know what it means to "recieve" such a record in one's hands because we do not know how one would hold it.


Ansar Al-'Adl
07-29-2005, 12:12 AM
Can Angels Disobey? - The case of Iblis

With regards to the thirtieth allegation:
Can angels disobey? No angel is arrogant, they all obey Allah [16:49-50], but: "And behold, we said to the ANGELS: 'Bow down to Adam'. And THEY bowed down, EXCEPT Iblis. He refused and was haughty." [2:34].
Verses in question:
16:49-50 And to Allâh prostate all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth, of the live moving creatures and the angels, and they are not proud [i.e. they worship their Lord (Allâh) with humility]. They fear their Lord above them, and they do what they are commanded.

2:34 And (remember) when We said to the angels: "Prostrate yourselves before Adam.". And they prostrated but not Iblîs (Satan), he refused and was proud and was one of the disbelievers (disobedient to Allâh)

1. The confusion stems from the misconception that Iblis (satan) was an angel. In fact, he was not an angel but another species known as the Jinn, as clarified in the Qur'an:
18:50 Behold! We said to the angels, "Bow down to Adam": They bowed down but not Iblis. He was one of the Jinns, and he broke the Command of his Lord. Will ye then take him and his progeny as protectors rather than Me? And they are enemies to you! Evil would be the exchange for the wrong-doers!
There is no doubt about this point, as it is something which has been unanimously affirmed by the Muslim scholars. The Jinn are a seperate creation from the Angels.

Imaam Ibn Kathir Ad-Damishqi (d. 1372CE) distinguishes Iblis from the angels in his tafsir of verse 18:50:
[Iblis] had been created from smokeless fire, whereas the angels had been created from light, as is stated in Sahih Muslim where it is reported that `A'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said that the Messenger of Allah said:
(The angels were created from light, Iblis was created from smokeless fire, and Adam was created from that which has been described to you.) When matters are crucial, every vessel leaks that which it contains and is betrayed by its true nature. Iblis used to do what the angels did and resembled them in their devotion and worship, so he was included when they were addressed, but he disobeyed and went against what he was told to do. So Allah points out here that he was one of the Jinn, i.e., he was created from fire... (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2000, vol. 6, p.171 )
Shaykh Abu Ameenah Bilal Phillips expains the islamic belief on Jinns and why they cannot be held to be angels:
[The Jinn] are created from fire according to Allaah's statement in the Qur'aan; "The Jinns were created from the fire of a scorching wind." (Soorah Al-Hijr 15:27). They are not "fallen angels", as angels are made from light according to the following statement of Prophet Muhammad saws narrated by his wife 'Aa'eshah: "The angels were created from light and the Jinn from a fiery wind" (Sahih Muslim [English Trans.], vol. 4, p. 1540, no. 7134) and angels can not disobey God according to Allaah's staement in the Qur'aan, "...angels stern and severe, who do not disobey Allaah in what He orders them, but do whatever they are commanded." (Soorah at-Tahreem 66:6) (Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips (Ed.), Ibn Taymeeyah's Essays On The Jinn, 1996, 3rd Edition, International Islamic Publishing House, pp. 1-2, See footnote 1.)
The same thing is mentioned by Shaykh Abdul Majid Daryabadi (d.1977CE) in his commentary on verse 2:34:
Iblis, literally, being the disappointed one. He was not an angel but a jinn, as expressly mentioned in the Qur'an (Surah Al-Kahf, verse 50). (Daryabadi, The Glorious Qur'an: Text, Translation & Commentary, The Islamic Foundation 2001, p.13)
Abul 'Ala Maududi (d. 1979CE) makes the same point as well, in his commentary:
Moreover, one should not make the mistake of considering Satan an angel. Elsewhere the Qur'an itself clearly states that he was a jinn and jinn, as we know, are an independent species, distinct from angels. (see Qur'an 18:50) (Maududi, Towards Understanding the Qur'an, THe Islamic Foundation 1995, vol. 1, p.63 ftn. 46)
Shaykh Umar Sulayman Al-Ashqar, Professor at the University of Jordan, explains the background behind Satan/Iblis's presence in paradise:
Satan, which Allah mentions to us many times in the Qur'an, is from the world of the Jinn. He used to worship Allah at the beginning of his creation. He lived among the angels in the heavens. He entered paradise, but then he disobeyed Allah when he refused to prostrate to Adam, out of pride, arrogance and envy. Therefore Allah cast him out from His mercy. (Al-Ashqar, The World of the Jinn and Devils, Al-Basheer Company for Publications and Translations 1998, p.13)
From the above statements it becomes clear that the scholars are agreed that, based on the Qur'an and authentic narrations, Iblis was a Jinn who was living amongst the angels in paradise. He had within him arrogance which became manifest in his refusal to bow down to Adam when Allah gave the command.

2. We now come to the heart of the issue being discussed, which is the reason Iblis is misunderstood to be an Angel when, in reality, he is a Jinn. The source of the confusion is the fact that verse 2:34 states that all the angels bowed down except Iblis which seems to imply that Iblis was an angel. However, this is not the case as the Qur'anic commentators and Islamic scholars have explained. Hasan Al-Banna (d. 1949CE) clarifies some points on this issue:
The context reveals that Iblis was not one of the angels though he was with them. If he had been one of them, he would not have rebelled. Their primary quality is that "they do not rebel against Allah in what He commands them and they do as they are commanded." The word "except" here does not show that he was one of them. The fact that he was with them allows this exception to be used. Iblis was one of the Jinn according to the text of the Qur'an. Allah created the jinn from smokeless fire. This is a clear statement that he was not one of the angels.(Quoted by M. Ashour in The Jinn in the Qur'an and the Sunnah, Dar Al Taqwa Ltd. 1989, pp. 11-12)
Similarly, Syed Qutb (d.1966CE) comments in his prominent commentary, Fi Dhilalil Qur'an:
The general drift of the narration suggests that Iblis was not of angelic species but merely associated with the angels. For, had he been of similar kind, he would not have disobeyed God, since the angels' foremost characteristic is that they "never disobey whatever God commands them and do as they are bidden" (al-Tahrim 66:6). The fact that Iblis had been singled out does not mean that he is, or was, one of their number. The exception is justified on the basis that he was with the angels, as well as by Arabic syntax, which allows the construction "the whole clan arrived but not Ahmad" without implying that Ahmad is a member of the clan.
Furthermore, the Qur'an specifically identifies Iblis as belonging to another type of extra-terrestrial creatures, the jinn, who are created out of fire, eliminating the idea that he was angelic (al-Hijr 15:27, al-Kahf 18:50, al-Rahman 55:15). (Qutb, In The Shade Of The Qur'an, The Islamic Foundation 1999, p.49)
Thus, the scholars mention that although the verse states that the angels bowed down 'except' (Ar., Ilaa) Iblis, this does not necessitate that Iblis was amongst the angels according to the arabic language. The specifc arabic syntax referred to by Syed Qutb is explained by Dr. Zakir Naik, a famous orator on Islam, who states:
The English translation of the first part of the verse ‘We said to the angels bow down to Adam: they bowed down except Iblis’, gives us the impression that Iblis was an angel. The Qur’an was revealed in Arabic. In Arabic grammar there is a rule known as Tagleeb, according to which, if the majority is addressed, even the minority is included. If for example, I address a class containing 100 students of whom 99 are boys and one is a girl, and if I say in Arabic that the boys should stand up, it includes the girl as well. I need not mention her seperately.

Similarly in the Qur’an, when Allah addressed the angels, even Iblis was present, but it is not required that he be mentioned separately. Therefore according to that sentence Iblis may be an angel or may not be an angel, but we come to know from Surah Al Kahf chapter 18 verse 50 that Iblis was a Jinn. No where does the Qur’an say Iblis was an angel. Therefore there is no contradiction in the Qur’an. (SOURCE)
This issue is also dealt with by Shaykh Umar Sulayman Al-Ashqar in his book on the Jinns, in which he writes:
[Some writers quote] verses in which Allah makes an exception from the angels of Iblis. And they argue that if he is being excepted from this group, it must have been that he was a member if that group as this is the customary mode of speech.
...Concerning their proof that Allah excepted Iblis from the angels, it is not a definitive proof. Such statements may be disjunctive. (Al-Ashqar, The World of the Jinn and Devils, Al-Basheer Company for Publications and Translations 1998, p.16)
In his translation of Shaykh Al-Ashqar's book, Shaykh Jamal Al-Din Zarabozo adds the following explanation of the above quote in a footnote:
Al-istithnaa al-munqata is a case where someone states, for example, "Everyone except so and so," while in reality "so and so" was no a member of the original group. Such a form of speech is acceptable and not uncommon in Arabic. However, such would probably be objectionable if stated in english. (Al-Ashqar, The World of the Jinn and Devils, Al-Basheer Company for Publications and Translations 1998, p.16)
For this reason, we can understand that any translation of verse 2:34 (and similar verses) into english should use the phrase "not so Iblis" or "but not Iblis" as oppose to "except Iblis", in order to retain the correct meaning of the verse.

The reason why Iblis was expected to bow down, even though the command was given to the angels, is explained by many scholars. Moiz Amjad writes about why Iblis was expected to prostrate:
In my opinion, the answer to this question is that according to the Qur'an, although it was primarily the angels who were directed to prostrate before Adam, it was, nevertheless, expected of the jinn who were in the court at that time to follow suit. In other words, by directing the angels to bow down before Adam, God had directed a higher cadre of His creation to submit to a command, the lower cadre creations like jinn and any others that may have been present at the time, were expected to do the same. This style of speech is used in almost all human languages. For instance, when someone says: "When the Chief Justice enters the hall all the parliamentarians shall pay their respects by standing up for him", he generally implies that all those present in the hall (personnel of the press, the foreign diplomats, the media personnel and guests of the members) should stand to pay their respects to the Chief Justice. The word 'parliamentarians' in such a sentence is not to signify that the directive is given only to those who are members of the parliament, but is a generalization in which a higher cadre of personnel is given a directive with the implication that others are also expected to follow suit. (SOURCE)
Mufti Muhammad Shafi, the late Grand Mufti of Pakistan, writes a similar explanation in his monumental commentary:
If we go by the words of the Holy Qur'an, the command was given to the angels alone, but, in excepting Iblis from those who obeyed, the text also suggests that the command was given to all the created beings that existed at that time and possessed understanding, including the Jinn as well as the angels. But the Holy Qur'an mentions the angels alone, because when superior beings like the angels were required to show their respect for Adam (peace be upon him), inferior creatures like the Jinns must, it goes without saying, have been ordered to do the same. (Shafi, Ma'ariful Qur'an, Maktaba-e-Darul-Uloom, Karachi 2003, vol. 1, p. 171)
And Mohammed Fareeduddin Siddique offers some more analogies:
Satan is not an angel; rather he is of the Jinn as stated in Al-Kahf (18):50. Why then did he need to obey the command which was directed to the angels [specially when men and Jinns have the right to choose]? This is because; he was raised with them and required to obey the laws applied to them while in their [Angels] company. This is similar to requiring that a foster son obey the rules of his foster father while living within his house. It is not necessary for the foster father, whenever he commands his sons to do something, to follow up with an explicit "and my foster son too must do this," rather, it is implicitly understood that so long as the foster son lives in this house he shall follow the same rules and commands as apply to the other sons.

If a politician declares that "any American who drinks and drives shall be thrown in jail," then does this mean that any non-American who is visiting the USA then drinks and drives shall be immune to this law? No. The law includes him by default; however, they are the minority so the command is issued to the majority with the implication being that anyone in their company is implicitly included. (SOURCE)
From the above discussion we have established the following points:
a) Iblis was a Jinn, distinct from angels
b) Iblis was expected to bow down as well, when the command was given to the angels
c) The phrase "they (the angels) bowed down, except Iblis" should be properly translated as "they (the angels) bowed down, but not Iblis" because according to the arabic syntax, the phrase does not necessitate that Iblis is an angel, and indeed we know that he is not from other verses in the Qur'an, ahadith, and authentic explanations of the early muslims.

3. Muslims have also raised another important point in response to this allegation. If Iblis truly believed that that the command to bow down was solely directed towards the angels, he should have said so when God asked him "why did you not bow down?". Instead, we find that he made claims that he was superior to Adam because of the nature of his creation. (Cf. Al-Hijr 15: 30 - 33, Al-A`raaf: 7: 11 - 12, Sa'd 39: 73 - 76)

4. Critics intend to confuse readers by quoting narrations of the early Muslims, especially those from the collection known as Tarikh At-Tabari which states that the Jinn were from amongst the angels. There are several errors with this method.
a) First of all, At-Tabari is a collection that contains many narrations that were not authenticated, intended to be recorded for future investigation. It contains many weak and fabricated narrations in addition to some authentic ones. Imaam Ibn Jarir At-Tabari (d. 923CE), himself, mentioned this in his work:
Let him who examines this book of mine know that I have relied, as regards everything I mention therein which I stipulate to be described by me, solely upon what has been transmitted to me by way of reports which I cite therein and traditions which I ascribe to their narrators, to the exclusion of what may be apprehended by rational argument or deduced by the human mind, except in very few cases. This is because knowledge of the reports of men of the past and of contemporaneous views of men of the present do not reach the one who has not witnessed them nor lived in their times except through the accounts of reporters and the transmission of transmitters, to the exclusion of rational deduction and mental inference. Hence, if I mention in this book a report about some men of the past, which the reader of listener finds objectionable or worthy of censure because he can see no aspect of truth nor any factual substance therein, let him know that this is not to be attributed to us but to those who transmitted it to us and we have merely passed this on as it has been passed on to us. (bû Jacfar Muhammad bin Jarîr al-Tabarî, Târîkh al-Tabarî: Târîkh al-Umam wal-Mulûk, 1997, Volume I, Dâr al-Kutub al-cIlmiyyah, Beirut (Lebanon), pp. 13.)
And Dr. M.S.M. Saifullah comments by stating:
Thus, al-Tabarî faithfully displayed the accounts in the exact manner through which he received them. Can he then be held liable or attributed if any objectionable accounts should arise? To translate this into laymen's terms, al-Tabarî has simply refused accountability by avoiding the task of historical as well as hadîth criticism. Therefore, any spurious/objectional accounts are not to be attributed to him. He only faithfully transmitted what he received, whether authentic or spurious. To say that al-Tabarî said such-and-such about "fallen angels" and Iblîs (and claiming it to be authentic!) simply shows one inability to grasp the fundamentals of al-Tabarî's book Tarîkh al-Tabarî: Tarîkh al-Umam wal-Mulûk. (SOURCE)
It is amazing to note that these critics simply cite the narrations and then immediately accept them as valid without any thought to authenticity. As Shahid bin Waheed mentions:
In brief, readers must know that narrations of all sorts, sound and weak have found a place in his commentary, because of this not every narration presented by al-Tabarî can be relied upon. In reality, Al-Tabarî was aiming through his commentary to collect and compile all narrations that could become available to him, so that this collected material could be put to use later on. Conceded is the fact that he has given the chain of reporters along with each narration so that whoever wished to investigate into the chain of narrators could do so and decide for himself if the narrations are true of false. (SOURCE)
We challenge such critics to provide evidence that scholars of hadith have accepted the narrations, which they have quoted from At-Tabari, as authentic. It should be noted that the only collections of narrations that Muslims accept as fully authentic are Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim.

b) The same critics attempt to defend their use of narrations from At-Tabari by citing evidence which demonstrates that Imaam At-Tabari could distinguish between weak and authentic narrations. Of course, their evidence only demonstrates that Imaam At-Tabari authenticated and examined some specific narrations, not that he authenticated his entire collection! No Muslim scholar would accept such a claim. Moreover, there is a narration mentioned in Ibn Kathir that completely falsifies the view that Imaam At-Tabari believed the Jinn (or Iblis) to be from the Angels. Ibn Kathir cites a narration from a renowned scholar amongst the early Muslims (tabi'een), Imaam Hasan Al-Basri:
Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, "Iblis was not one of the angels, not even for a second. He was the origin of the Jinn just as Adam, upon him be peace, was the origin of mankind.'' This was narrated by Ibn Jarir with a Sahih chain. (ftn. At-Tabari 18:506) (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2000, vol. 6, p. 171)
Thus, not only do we have an authentic narration from one of the early Muslims stating that Iblis was a Jinn, distinguished from the angels, but we also have Imaam Ibn Jarir At-Tabari affirming this narration in his collection! Therefore, since Imaam At-Tabari narrates one authentic narration stating that Iblis was not an angel, and he also narrates some unauthentic narrations stating that Iblis was an angel, it is obvious which narration takes precedence. The narrations cited by critics have never been labeled as authentic by scholars, whereas the above narration clearly has. It is safe to conclude that this authentic narration properly describes the Islamic belief that Iblis was a Jinn, not an angel.

c) One last point should be made about the usage of narrations from At-Tabari. It is obviously fallacious to use such narrations to prove a contradiction in the Qur'an since the Qur'an supercedes all narrations in any case.
Shaykh Mustafa Ashour, an Egyptian Islamic scholar, also explains the origin of the view that Iblis was an angel:
...the books of Qur'anic commentary and history have transmitted to us statements from a group of scholars who mention that Iblis was one of the angels. These scholars say that he was a guardian of the Garden or the lower heaven and that he was one of the noblest tribe among them, etc.
Ibn Kathir, however, points out that the early scholars related many traditions about this point. Most of them came from Jewish sources which were quoted so that they could be investigated. (Ashour, The Jinn in the Qur'an and the Sunnah, Dar Al Taqwa Ltd. 1989, p. 12)
He then goes on to cite the evidence quotes earlier which demonstrates that Iblis was a Jinn and not an Angel.
The narrations of Judaic influence found in commentaries are classifed as Israeliyyat. Mufti Muhammad Shafi describes the Israeliyyat as follows:
Judaica or Isra'iliyyat are narratives which have reached us through Jews and Christians. It may be noted that the early commentators used to write down all sorts of narrations which reached them from an identified source. Many of these narrations were straight from Judaica. (Shafi, Ma'ariful Qur'an, Maktaba-e-Darul-Uloom, Karachi 2003, vol. 1, p. 411)
The above explanation should clarify that narrations claiming that Iblis was an angel have no solid origin in Islam, while those that state that he was a Jinn are confirmed through many authentic channels.


Ansar Al-'Adl
07-29-2005, 09:16 PM
Can Angels Disobey? - The case of Harut and Marut

The thirty-first allegation:
Can angels disobey? No angel is arrogant, they all obey Allah [16:49-50], but verse [2:102] relates the story of two angels who sinned.
Verses in question:

16:49-50 And to Allâh prostate all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth, of the live moving creatures and the angels, and they are not proud [i.e. they worship their Lord (Allâh) with humility]. They fear their Lord above them, and they do what they are commanded.

2:102 They followed what the devils gave out (falsely) against the power of Solomon: the blasphemers Were, not Solomon, but the devils, teaching men Magic, and such things as came down at babylon to the angels Harut and Marut. But neither of these taught anyone (Such things) without saying: "We are only for trial; so do not blaspheme." They learned from them the means to sow discord between man and wife. But they could not thus harm anyone except by Allah's permission. And they learned what harmed them, not what profited them. And they knew that the buyers of (magic) would have no share in the happiness of the Hereafter. And vile was the price for which they did sell their souls, if they but knew!

1. The allegation is based on a misunderstanding of verse 2:102 and the story given of Harut and Marut. Many false interpretations of the above verse arise from Christian/Jewsish myths and legends that have been recorded in some books of Tafsir. These narrations are known called Iraeliyyat which Mufti Muhammad Shafi describes as follows:
Judaica or Isra'iliyyat are narratives which have reached us through Jews and Christians. It may be noted that the early commentators used to write down all sorts of narrations which reached them from an identified source. Many of these narrations were straight from Judaica.(Shafi, Ma'ariful Qur'an, Maktaba-e-Darul-Uloom, Karachi 2003, vol. 1, p. 411)
The scholars who wrote these books of tafsir recorded such narrations in order to provide a comprehensive record of narrations on a certain verse, which were intended to be investigated and scrutinised later to determine their authenticity. For more information please refer to our previous response on Can Angels Disobey?. We shall proceed, God willingly, by discussing the false interpretation of the verses based on weak and fabricated reports and then we shall present the true interpretation of the verses based on authoritative sources.

2. There are numerous absurd tales that have been transmitted about these verses, yet they all center around the same basic story. To summarise the (false) story, the angels had become astonished at the acts of disobedience committed by the human beings on earth. They began to curse the humans and could not understand how they could be so sinful. According to the story, God informed the angels that they would have also sinned if they were in the position of human beings. So the angels elected Harut and Marut from amongst themselves and God gave tem human attributes and sent them to earth after commanding them to avoid wine, idolatry, fornication and murder. However, Harut and Marut eventually succumbed to their human lusts and fell into all of these sins. Consequently, God punished them for their transgressions.

Such ridiculous tales have been rejected by all knowledgable scholars of Islam as fabrications which have no place in the religion. Shaykh Abdul Hamid Kishk discusses these narrations and tales in detail in his book on Angels:
All this is part of myths and lies of the tribe of Israel and is not corroborated either by intellect or transmission or Shari'a. Some of the transmitters of this false fiction even go so far as to ascribe its transmission to some of the Companions and Followers but in doing so they enter the arena of sin and shameful crime and at the same time connect this lie to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, by taking it back to him. Glory be to You, my Lord, above and beyond this terrible lie!

Imam Abu'l-Faraj ibn al-Jawzi gave a judgement about this story, and ash-Shihab al-'Iraqi writes that anyone who believes that Harut and Marut were angels who are being punished for their sin has disbelieved in Allah Almighty.
Qadi 'Iyad said in Ash-Shifa', "What is said in the reports and commentaries about the story of Harut and Marut does not relate to anything, either sound or weak, from the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) himself, and there is nothing which is taken by analogy." A similar judgement was made by Ibn Kathir in respect of tracing the material in this story back to the Prophet.
As for what does not go back to the Prophet, it is clear that it originates in the transmissions of the Judaica taken from Ka'b and others. It is the heretics of the People of the Book who connected them to Islam. Thus accurate commentators, who are skilful in recognising the sources of the deen (religion), refute them. Their intellects refuse to accept these myths, as do those of others such as Imam ar-Razi, Abu Hayyan, Abu's-Su'ud, al-Alusi, and others.
Furthermore, even from a rational point of view these transmissions are unsound. The angels are protected from all wrong action let alone these things which would not even issue from an evil human being. Allah informs us that the angels "do not disobey Allah in anything He commands them and they do everything they are commanded to," as is related in some transmissions which I indicated previously and in the words of Allah Himself.(Kishk, The World of The Angels, Dar Al-Taqwa Ltd. 1994, pp.39-40)
As Shaykh Kishk has pointed out, these myths are rejected outright by the scholars of Islam and are not even entertained as a possibility. As Imaam Abu Abdullah Al-Qurtubi (d. 1273CE) mentions in his tafsir, Al-Jaami` le Ahkaam al-Qur'an:
We say [Qurtubi]: This is all very weak and far from Ibn 'Umar's words and others, none of it has been authenticated. It is a saying which contradicts the fundemental understanding of the angels who are Allah's trustworthy messengers and the ambassadors of Allah to His prophet's and Messengers, Allah says "They do not disobey Allah in what He commands them, and do as they are commanded" [Surat at-Tahrim, verse 6] Evenmore, Allah says, "Nay! they are honored servants. They speak not before He speaks, and they act (in all things) by His Command" [Surat al-Anbiyaa, verses 26-27] However, if we were to leave the Intellect to judge, it wouldn't object to the possibility of angel's being prone to disobedience and of them may be those who oppose what they have been created to do, and it can believe that the temptation is an innate characteristic in them since Allah is capable of creating what the mind cannot imagine. Similarly, we know that even Prophets, the friends of Allah [awliyaa], and the the scholar's worry of falling into temptations. Yet, for this occurence [the claim against Harut and Marut falling into sin] cannot be deemed possible unless there is sound evidence [transmission through listening or chain of narration] and there isn't anything that has been authenticated....And we have shown them to be upright [the angels] and they are indeed upright against all that has been said from the [false] Interpreters .(Tafsir Al-Qurtubi, ARABIC SOURCE)
As Imaam Al-Qurtubi mentions, there is not a single authentic narration whic supports this story, hence it is unanimously rejected by Muslim scholars as false.

3. Critics quote narrations from At-Tabari in order to lend support to this false tale about Harut and Marut. They also project this story as the view of Imaam Ibn Jarir At-Tabari (d. 923CE) himself. Yet this is evidently false, as Ibn Kathir quotes the following on Ibn Jarir At-Tabari:
Ibn Jarir continued; "If someone asks about explaining this Ayah in this manner, we say that,
(They followed what the Shayatin (devils) gave out (falsely) in the lifetime of Sulayman.) means, magic. Solomon neither disbelieved nor did Allah send magic with the two angels. However, the devils disbelieved and taught magic to the people in the Babylon of Harut and Marut, meaning Gabriel and Michael, for Jewish sorcerers claimed that Allah sent magic by the words of Gabriel and Michael to Solomon, son of David. Allah denied this false claim and stated to His Prophet Muhammad that Gabriel and Michael were not sent with magic. Allah also exonerated Solomon from practicing magic, which the devils taught to the people of Babylon by the hands of two men, Harut and Marut. Hence, Harut and Marut were two ordinary men (not angels or Gabriel or Michael).'' (fn. At-Tabari 2:419) (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2000, vol. 1, p.315
Thus, Imaam At-Tabari did not believe that Harut and Marut were angels who sinned, but that they were ordinary humans who taught magic. This also resolves the alleged contradiction as it is known that human beings are prone to sin while angels are not. However, Ibn Kathir and other scholars have mentioned that the view of At-Tabari is weaker than the most common interpretation (explained under #4). Nevertheless, it demonstrates that Imaam At-Tabari did not support the view which critics falsely attribute to him. Therefore, we find that no scholars support this erroneous myth that two angels came down to earth and sinned. There are some other scholars who share Imaam At-Tabari's view that Harut and Marut were two ordinary humans. As Shaykh Abdul Aziz Al-Harbi, Professor at Umm Al-Qura University, explains the viewpoint of At-Tabari in the following words:
Another saying tells that [Harut and Marut] were ordinary men who pretended to be pious in the city of Bâbil. They used to teach people sorcery. People thought they were angels descent from the Heavens because of the piousness they observed from them.

Their cunning was so clever that when they noticed what people thought about them of piety, they used to tell everyone who wants to learn from them: "Surely we are only a trial, therefore do not be a disbeliever.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 102]

They did that to show people that their knowledge is divinely inspired knowledge and that they only sought goodness, just as liars claim in every era.

They were called as angels because people called them that. In another reading by al-Hasan they were called kings.
Muhammad Asad also gives a similar explanation in his commentary of the Qur'an:
As regards the designation of Harut and Marut, most of the readings of the Qurlan give the spelling malakayn ("the two angels"); but it is authentically recorded (see Tabari, Zamakhshari, Baghawi, Razi, etc.) that the great Companion of the Prophet, Ibn `Abbas, as well as several learned men of the next generation - e.g., Al-Hasan al-Basri, Abu '1-Aswad and AdDahhak-read it as malikayn ("the two kings"). I myself incline to the latter reading; but since the other is more generally accepted, I have adopted it here. Some of the commentators are of the opinion that, whichever of the two readings is followed, it ought to be taken in a metaphorical sense, namely, "the two kingly persons", or "the two angelic persons": in this they rely on a saying of Ibn'Abbas to the effect that Harut and Marut were "two men who practiced sorcery in Babylon" (Baghawi; see also Manar I, 402). At any rate, it is certain that from very ancient times Babylon was reputed to be the home of magic arts, symbolized in the legendary persons - perhaps kings - Harut and Marut; and it is to this legend that the Qur'an refers with a view to condemning every attempt at magic and sorcery, as well as all preoccupation with occult sciences in general.(Asad, Message of the Qur'an, The Book Foundation 2003)
So even the scholars who supported this interpretation did not view Harut and Marut as fallen angels but ordinary people who taught magic and may have claimed to be angels.

4. As for the strongest and most widely-accepted interpretation of this verse, then scholars have agreed on some aspects yet differed on the minor details. The scholars have agreed that Harut and Marut were two angels sent by Allah to test the people of Babylon with magic, and these angels were only acting upon the order of Allah and commited no sin, nor even the slightest error. However, they differ as to the nature of the test. As Syed Qutb (d. 1966CE) mentions in his famous tafsir, Fi Dhilalil Qur'an:
[The Qur'an] further refutes the allegation that the two Babylonian angels Harut and Marut, were sorcerors or taught witchcraft. It confirms that they were testing people's faith, for a purpose that has not been identified. Again, associating sorcery, black magic and witchcraft with disbelief in God, the Qur'an exonerates the two angels, confirming that they had explained the nature of their work to the people and given them fair warning, neverhteless, some people persisted with learning and practising sorcery, thus falling to temptation and causing harm. (Qutb, In the Shade of the Qur'an, The Islamic Foundation 1999, p.99)
And Shaykh Saalih Al-Fawzaan explains in his response to the following question:
[Question]:How is it that angels taught magic when teaching magic is a form of disbelief?

[Answer]: This was a trial and a test for the people to see who was going to believe and who was going to disbelieve. So Allah sent these two angels to teach the people magic to test them and see who was going to believe and who was going to disbelieve, Accordingly, they did not teach any of the people, as Allah the Exalted has said:
'Except that they said: "Verily we are only a trial, so do not disbelieve."' (2:102)
So they would advise the student to abandon the learning of magic, while clarifying that it is disbelief. They were not just teaching people and remaining quite (about the disbelief of magic), rather they were advising them that it was disbelief. So when someone came forth by his own choice he disbelieved.

Allah had the two angels teaching people magic as a test for them, not that magic is acceptable or that it is permissable. It was only to distinguish those who were going to disbelieve from those who were going to believe and accept the advice. (Al-Fawzaan, Duroos fee Sharh Nawaaqidh Al-Islaam, p.145)
So when the angels began to teach magic, the devils spread the teachings to others and encouraged them to partake in this evil practice. As Shaykh Abdur-Rahman As-Sa'di (d. 1956CE) comments in his authoritative commentary on the Qur'an:
[the devils disbelieved, teaching mankind magic] by their misguidance and keenness to deviate the son of adam and It was the Jews who followed/pursued this magic which Allah brought down with his two angels [Harut and Marut] in the lands of Babil in Iraq. Magic was brought down upon them as a test and a trial from Allah to his slaves.(Tayseeru al-Karim Ar-Rahman fee tafseer kalamil manan)
There are some who say that the angels were sent by God as a temptation for mankind, offering them lessons in black magic after warning them of God's wrath upon those who practiced it. Nevertheless, people didn't heed the warning and succumbed to their desires to practice the magic. Other scholars say that the angels were sent, disguised as men, offering to teach magic and catching those who accepted their offer. Shaykh Abul 'Ala Maududi (d. 1979CE) gives the following conclusion on this verse:
...at the time when the whole Israelite nation was chained in slavery and captivity in Babylonia, God sent two angels in human form to test the Jews...These angels at once began working their magical wonders but they warned the people that their presence among them was designed to test their faith, and that they ought not to jeopardize their After-life by the practice of magic. Despite the warning it seems that the Israelites had become so fond of their magical artifices that they continued to resort to talismans and sorcery.
...One might also wonder why angels would teach people magic, which is after all intrinsically evil. In order to understand this we must remember that the nature of their tasks was no different from that of an undercover policeman who hands over marked currency notes to a corrupt official as a bribe with the aim of ensuring that he is caught red-handed.(Maududi, Towards Understanding the Qur'an, The Islamic Foundation 1995, vol. 1, p.97 ftn. 105)
Other scholars feel that it is more likely that Harut and Marut were teaching magic for educational purposes, so that the people could recognize its symptoms, properties and effects and avoid it. As Shaykh Abdul Hamid Kishk explains:
By "what had been sent down" He means the science of magic, which was sent down so that they could teach it to people and warn them against it. The reason the two of them were sent down was to teach people what magic was so that they would know the difference between magic and prophethood, and therefore that Sulayman was not a magician. It was to ensure complete understanding.

They did not, in any case, teach anyone magic until they had first cautioned him saying to him, "We are merely a temptation and a trial and a test, so do not become unbelievers by teaching it and using it." Part of the point of the teacing was to warn people against it and to teach them the difference between it and and prophethood and prophetic miracles.(Kishk, The World of The Angels, Dar Al-Taqwa Ltd. 1994, p. 41)
And Shariq Khan writes:
Imam Laqani mentions in his primer in Islamic beliefs, Jawharat al-Tawhid ('Jewel of Divine Oneness'), that both prophets and angels are protected from sin. As such, it is sinful to believe that angels sin.

Harut and Marut were two angels that taught people magic. Their story is mentioned in verse 102 of Sura Baqara. Jewish scholars call these the sinful Angels (see the Midrash). We believe that they were commanded by Allah to teach people magic, and so not sinful in doing so. There are two opinions about why the angels were sent.

The first opinion, mentioned in the Tafsir al-Jalalayn, is that they were sent as a temptation and trial from Allah. Those who learned magic from them disbelieved, and those who did not, believed. This is why the angels warned the people before teaching them magic. The angels said, "We are only a trial; so do not disbelieve." (Quran 2:102)

The second opinion about why the angels were sent is explained by Shaykh Sabuni in his Safwat al-Tafasir. He says that during their time there were many magicians claiming Prophethood, and people needed to be able to distinguish between the miracles of Prophets and the magic of magicians. The magic they taught could have been used to do this, or, it could have been used for evil.(SOURCE)
Similarly, Mufti Muhammad Shafi gives the following comments:
Allah sent down to Babylon two angels, Harut and Marut, for informing the people as to the true nature of magic and as to its different forms, so that they should distinguish it from the miracles of prophets, and keep away from obeying magicians and practising magic themselves.
...In short, the two angels came down to Babylon, and started the work assigned to them -- that is to say, they used to explain the basic principles of magic, its different forms and the specific formulas, and then used to dissuade the people from getting themselves involved in these activities or with the magicians. Their work was exactly like that of a scholar who, finding that illiterate people sometimes fall into uttering heretical words or phrases on account of their ignorance, should collect in his speeches or writings all such phrases that have gained currency, and inform them as to what they must carefully avoid.
Now, all sorts of people started coming to the angels for seeking information about the nature and the specific formulas of magic lest ignorance should lead them into error, in the matter of doctrines or that of deeds. In order to provide the correct teaching on this subject and to protect the people from error, the angels were scrupulous enough to make it a point to warn them of possible dangers in giving them the information. They insisted on making it quite clear that in allowing them to provide this kind of information to the people, Allah intended to put His servants through a trial, for He would see who uses this knowledge for protecting his 'iman (faith) by recognizing evil and avoiding it, and who falls into misguidance by adopting evil that he has come to recognize as evil -- a choice which can easily lead one into kufr (infidelity) in the matter of deeds or in that of doctrines. The angels repeatedly advised them to seek this dangerous information only with a good intent and to remain steadfast in this good intent, and not to misuse the knowledge so as to earn perpetual damnation.
The angels could not be more honest and forthright. So, they explained the basic principles of magic and even the subsidiary details to all those who were ready to take the pledge to remain steadfast in their faith. Of course, if anyone broke the pledge and fell into transgression or infedility, it was his on business, and the angels could not be held responsible for it. Some were true to their promise, while many did not fulfill the pledge, and made their knowledge of magic a means of doing harms to people -- this in itself is a sin and transgression, while some modes of magic actually involve infidelity (kufr). Thus, through a misuse of their knowledge of magic, some turned into sinners and others into infidels.
Let us repeat that the angels had taught magic for the purpose of reforming the people and helping them to the straight path. but those who misused this teaching did so out of their own perversity.(Shafi, Ma'ariful Qur'an, Maktaba-e-Darul-Uloom, Karachi 2003, vol. 1, pp. 266-268)
This lengthy quote demonstrates several points. First of all, it explains the idea of angels teaching magic for the purpose of educating the public about this evil so that they would avoid it. It also mentions that the angels were sent as a test for the people to distinguish those who would succumb to the temptation of using magic from those who restrained themselves from such evils. Therefore, it is entirely possible that the angels may have been sent for all the purposes mentioned by scholars, including as a temptation to catch those who practiced sorcery, as a test for the people, and for educational purposes to distinguish good from evil.

From the above discussion it becomes clear that the angels were acting as servants of Allah and were only carrying out their mission as commanded by Allah. The question of disobedience doesn't even arise, and consequently there is no contradiction between this verse and the verse which states that all angels are obedient.
The author would like to thank Abu Abdullah Al-Kuwaitee for his contributions to the article, May Allah bless him.


Ansar Al-'Adl
08-07-2005, 08:55 PM
Angel Gabriel and the 'Holy Spirit'

Concerning the thirty-second alleged contradiction:
Who brings the revelation from Allah to Muhammad? The ANGEL Gabriel [2:97], or the Holy Spirit [16:102]?
Verses in question:
2:97 Say: "Whoever is an enemy to Jibrael (Gabriel), for indeed he has brought it (this Qur'ân) down to your heart by Allâh's Permission, confirming what came before it and guidance and glad tidings for the believers.

16:102. Say, Ruh-ul-Qudus (the Holy Spirit) has brought it (the Qur'an) down from your Lord with truth, that it may make firm and strengthen (the Faith of) those who believe and as a guidance and glad tidings to those who have submitted (to Allâh as Muslims)

1. The obvious point that the critic is missing is that the 'Holy Spirit' is simply another title of Angel Jibreel (Gabriel), peace be upon him. This is unanimously agreed upon by all Muslim scholars and there is no difference of opinion on this matter due to what has been narrated. Ibn Kathir Ad-Damishqee (d. 1372CE) cites the narrations which demonstrate that this was the understanding of the earliest Muslim generation, those who learnt directly from the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):
Jibril is Ruh Al-Qudus

The proof that Jibril is the Ruh Al-Qudus is the statement of Ibn Mas`ud in explanation of this Ayah (fn. Ibn Abi Hatim 1:269). This is also the view of Ibn `Abbas, Muhammad bin Ka`b, Isma`il bin Khalid, As-Suddi, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, `Atiyah Al-`Awfi and Qatadah (fn. Ibn Abi Hatim 1:270). Additionally, Allah said,
(Which the trustworthy Ruh (Jibril) has brought down. Upon your heart (O Muhammad ) that you may be (one) of the warners) (26:193-194).

Al-Bukhari recorded `A'ishah saying that the Messenger of Allah erected a Minbar in the Masjid on which Hassan bin Thabit (the renowned poet) used to defend the Messenger of Allah (with his poems). The Messenger of Allah said, "O Allah! Aid Hassan with Ruh Al-Qudus, for he defended Your Prophet."(fn. Fath Al-Bari 10:562).

Abu Dawud recorded this Hadith in his Sunan (fn. Abu Dawud 5:279) as did At-Tirmidhi who graded it Hasan Sahih (fn. Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi 8:137). Further, Ibn Hibban recorded in his Sahih that Ibn Mas`ud said that the Prophet said, "Ruh Al-Qudus informed me that no soul shall die until it finishes its set provisions and term limit. Therefore, have Taqwa of Allah and seek your sustenance in the most suitable way."(fn. See As-Sunnah 14:304).(Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2000, vol. 1, pp. 288-289)
These narrations demonstrate that the correct understanding of the title "Ruh Al-Qudus" (Holy Spirit) is that it was a title of Angel Jibreel. In another place, Allah refers to him as Ruh Al-Ameen (the Trustworthy Spirit). Concerning this, Ibn Kathir records:
(Which the trustworthy Ruh has brought down.) This refers to Jibril, peace be upon him. This was the view of more than one of the Salaf: Ibn `Abbas, Muhammad bin Ka`b, Qatadah, `Atiyyah Al-`Awfi, As-Suddi, Ad-Dahhak, Az-Zuhri and Ibn Jurayj. (fn. At-Tabari 19:396). This is an issue concerning which there is no dispute.(Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2000, vol. 7, pp. 275-276)
Hence, it becomes clear that those who are close to Allah are honored by Him with numerous titles, and so of the titles of Angel Jibreel is Ruh Al-Qudus and Ruh Al-Ameen.

2. Critics attempt to prove that the spirit does not refer to Jibreel by quoting verses of the Qur'an that contain the word Ruh (spirit) but could not possibly be referring to Angel Jibreel because of the context. In these cases, the critics fail to realize that the word Ruh has several different usages in the Qur'an with a wide range of meanings. The word Ruh most commonly refers to the human soul in religious literature, especially the Qur'an and the Sunnah. However, it sometimes refers to other than the human soul as Shaykh Abu Bilal Mustafa Al-Kanadi explains:
Just as the term "nafs" has several different connotations, so does the term "ruh." It is never used to refer to the physical body (badan) alone or to the soul when it is inside the body. Rather, it has various other usages in the Arabic language and in religious literature. (fn. See al-Tahawiyyah, pp. 444-445 and Kitab al-Ruh, pp.295-296). In the following words of Allah to His Messenger (saws), it is used to mean revelation, specifically the Qur'an:
"And thus We revealed to you a spirit [i.e., the Qur'an] by Our command." (Surah al-Shura, 42:52)
In other places in the Qur'an the word "ruh" is used to designate the Angel Jibreel, whom Allah entrusted with the conveyance of divine revelation. For example:
"Verily, this [Qur'an] is a revelation of the Lord of the Worlds brought down by the trustworthy spirit [i.e., Jibril]." (Surah al-Shu'ara; 26:192-193)
The various forces and senses contained in the human body are also spoken of as "spirits." Thus, it is said "al-ruh al-basir" ("the seeing spirit") and "al-ruh al-sami'" ("the hearing spirit") and so on. However, these are called "spirits" only by convention. These senses are extinguished upon the death of the physical body, and they are different than the ruh, which does not die or disintegrate.

Finally, the term "ruh" is sometimes used in an extremely restricted sense - to designate the spirit of faith which results from one's knowledge of Allah, from turning to him in repentance and from seeking Him with love and aspiration. This is the spirit (i.e. consciousness of God) with which Allah strengthens His obedient, chosen servants as stated in the following Qur'anic verse:
"For those, Allah has written faith upon their hearts and strengthened them with a spirit from Him." (Surah al-Mujadilah, 58:22)
In this manner, knowledge is a "ruh" ("spiritual force"), as is sincerity, truthfulness, repentance, love of Allah and complete dependence upon Him. People differ in respect to these types of spiritual forces. Some are so overcome by them that they become "spiritual" beings. Thus it is said, "So and so has spirit." Others lose the power of such spiritual forces, or the greater portion thereof, and thus become earthly, bestial beings. (fn. For more details, see Lawami' al-Anwar, pp. 31-32; al-Tahawiyyah, p. 445 and Kitab al-Ruh, p. 297). About them it may be said, "So and so has no spirit; he's empty like a hollow reed," and so on. (Mustafa Al-Kanadi, Mysteries of the Soul Expounded, Al-Hidaayah Publishing & Distribution 2003, pp.21-23)
Thus, when the term Ruh appears in the Qur'an, it may refer to the human soul, it may refer to Angel Jibreel, it may refer to attributes of faith which God blesses someone with, or it may refer to the Qur'an. We cannot, as critics incorrectly do, conclude that since some verses of the Qur'an use ruh in one sense, therefore all verses must conform to that same meaning of the word ruh. Such a notion would be illogical as it ignores the various meanings already associated with the word, as well as the explanation found in the Ahadith and the understanding of the early Muslim scholars. The verses cited with the word Ruh include the following:
15:29 "When I have fashioned him [Adam] (in due proportion) and breathed into him a Ruh from Me, fall ye down in obediance unto him."

21:91 And (remember) her [Mary] who guarded her chastity: We breathed into her a Ruh from Us, and We made her and her son a sign for all peoples.

32:9 But He fashioned him [the human] in due proportion, and breathed into him the Ruh from Him. And He gave you (the faculties of) hearing and sight and feeling (and understanding): little thanks do ye give!

38:72 "When I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him a Ruh from Me, fall ye down in obeisance unto him."

66:12 And Mary the daughter of 'Imran, who guarded her chastity; and We breathed into (her body) a Ruh from Us; and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and of His Revelations, and was one of the devout (servants).

In all the above verses, the word Ruh can easily be understood as a reference to the human soul. Allah informs us that He breathed the Ruh into Adam, and into Mary (to give life to Jesus), just as He breathes the Ruh into every human being. There is some confusion because the arabic phrase attributes the Ruh to Allah, which lead some translators to render the verses as "[God's] Spirit". However, the reason the soul is attributed to God is because it is the creation of God and belongs to Him. This is exactly the same as the Qur'anic verse that says:
91:13 But the Messenger of Allah [Prophet Saalih pbuh] said to them: "It is a She-camel of Allah [Ar. Naaqat-Allahi]. And (bar her not from) having her drink!"

Just as the miraculous camel presented to the Thamud, which was the creation of Allah and one of His special signs, is attributed to Allah, so is the Ruh which is blown into every human being. Both are attributed to Allah as a sign of their miraculous nature and the fact that they are the direct creation of Allah. It is also worthy to note the words of Muhammad Asad on verse 21:91:
AND [remember] her who guarded her chastity, whereupon We breathed into her of Our spirit [This allegorical expression, used here with reference to Mary’s conception of Jesus, has been widely - and erroneously - interpreted as relating specifically to his birth. As a matter of fact, the Quran uses the same expression in three other places with reference to the creation of man in general - namely in 15: 29 and 38:72, “when I have formed him… and breathed into him of My spirit” and in 32: 9, “and thereupon He forms [lit., “formed”] him fully and breathes [lit., “breathed’’] into him of His spirit”. In particular, the passage of which the last-quoted phrase is a part (i.e., 32: 7 - 9) makes it abundantly and explicitly clear that God “breathes of His spirit” into every human being. Commenting on the verse under consideration, Zamakhshari states that “the breathing of the spirit [of God] into a body signifies the endowing it with life’’: an explanation with, which Razi concurs. (In this connection, see also note on 4: 171.) (Asad, Message of the Qur'an, The Book Foundation 2003)
And on verse 4:171, Muhammad Asad notes:
As regards the expression, "a soul from Him" or "created by Him", it is to be noted that among the various meanings which the word ruh bears in the Qur’an (e.g., "inspiration" in 2: 87 and 253), it is also used in its primary significance of "breath of life", "soul", or "spirit": thus, for instance, in 32: 9, where the ever-recurring evolution of the human embryo is spoken of: "and then He forms him [i.e., man] and breathes into him of His spirit" - that is, endows him with a conscious soul which represents God's supreme gift to man and is, therefore, described as "a breath of His spirit". In the verse under discussion, which stresses the purely human nature of Jesus and refutes the belief in his divinity, the Qur’an points out that Jesus, like all other human beings, was "a soul created by Him".(Asad, Message of the Qur'an, The Book Foundation 2003)
Thus, there is no conflict between these verses and the verses about Angel Jibreel as these describe the Ruh as a soul being breathed into human beings. It is simply another meaning of the word Ruh.

3. Some Qur'anic commentators also mentioned about verses 21:91 and 66:12 that Angel Jibreel was sent to Mary to breathe the Ruh into her, by God's command. Some people have erroneously concluded from this interpretation that Jibreel is must be the speaker when the verse says "We breathed into her of Our Spirit" because he is the one who breathes the soul into her. This conclusion is false because the Qur'an often attributes the actions of the Angels to God Himself, as explained in previous articles, such as Who Takes the Soul at the Time of Death. The Angels act by the command of Allah and they themselves belong to Allah, hence Angel Jibreel's action of breathing the Ruh into Mary would be attributed to Allah. In fact, in all the verses which state that God breathes the Ruh into human beings, it is reasonable to assume that this occurs through the work of the Angels, the servants of Allah. This is similar to the hadith:
Abdullah ibn Masood said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), who is the most truthful (of human beings) and his being truthful (is a fact) told us: ‘The constituents of one of you is gathered in his mother’s womb for forty days, then it becomes an Alaqah within another period of forty days. Then it becomes a Mudghah, and forty days later, Allaah sends His angel to it to breathe into it the Ruh. The angel comes with instructions concerning four things, so the angel writes down his livelihood, his death, his deeds and whether he will doomed or blessed.” (Sahih Muslim Book 33, #6893).
For an explanation of the embryological terms involved in the hadith, please read here.
From this hadith we can see that the standard process in the creation of all human beings involves an angel who breathes the soul into the human body, even though the action is still attributed to Allah who states that He breathes the soul into the body.

4. Other passages used by critics to argue that the Holy Spirit is not Gabriel include:
78:38 The Day that the Spirit and the angels will stand forth in ranks, none shall speak except any who is permitted by (God) Most Gracious, and He will say what is right.
And the hadith:
"Narrated Aisha: The Messenger of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) used to pronounce while bowing and prostrating himself: All Glorious, all Holy, Lord of the Angels and the Spirit." (Sahih Muslim, Book 4, Number 0987)
It is claimed that since these quotes distiguish between the Spirit and the Angels, therefore the Holy Spirit cannot possibly be an angel. However, it has been mentioned in previous articles that this is the Qur'anic style which distinguishes between Jibreel and the Angels because of his great rank:
2:98 Whoever is an enemy to Allah and His angels and apostles, to Gabriel and Michael,- Lo! Allah is an enemy to those who reject Faith.
This verse mentions Angle Gabriel and Angel Michael seperately from the other angels, but we know that they are angels themselves. This is simply the Qur'anic style of emphasis. This was explained in the article The Number of Groups on the Day of Resurrection.
Another hadith is also quoted in order to prove that Jibreel is distinct from Ruh Al-Qudus. It contains a poem composed by the companion of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Hassan ibn Thabit (rd). In the last two lines of his poem, he says:
"Whether anyone amongst you (the Quraysh) chooses to satirise the Messenger of Allah, or praise him, or help him, it is all the same,
And Gabriel who is the Emissary of Allah, is with us, and indeed the Ruh Al-Qudus has no match" (Sahih Muslim, The Book of Companions of the Prophet, 6550, ARABIC SOURCE)
In the above poem of Hassan ibn Thabit, the last line has been misunderstood to be differentiating between Angel Jibreel and Ruh Al-Qudus. This misunderstanding is partly due to the poor translation of this hadith which renders the last phrase as:
"And Gabriel, the Apostle of Allah is among us, and the Holy Spirit who has no match."
Either of the two underlined words can be removed to restore the true meaning of the arabic phrase. This poetic description can be illustrated using many examples:
"The King has arrived, and his Majesty shall now attend to your needs" - Here "the king" and "his majesty" refer to the same person.
"Don't worry, the police are here. The guardians of justice will protect you" - Again, the police are being poetically described as 'the guardians of justice'.
These examples should demonstrate that this hadith of Hassan ibn Thabit does not distinguish between Angel Jibreel and Ruh Al-Qudus as critics claim. Rather, it merely describes the titles of Angel Jibreel.

Having examined the relevant evidence, we can safely conclude that the name 'Ruh Al-Qudus' has been established as a title of Angel Jibreel and there is no evidence to indicate otherwise. Therefore, there is no contradiction between verses 2:97 and 16:102 since they both describe the tasks of Angel Jibreel.


Ansar Al-'Adl
08-15-2005, 01:32 PM
Confirming the Old Revelation or Substituting it

With regards to the thirty-third alledged contradiction:
The new revelation confirms the old [2:97] or substitutes it [16:101]?
Verses in question:
2:97. Say: "Whoever is an enemy to Jibrael (Gabriel) (let him die in his fury), for indeed he has brought it (this Qur'ân) down to your heart by Allah's Permission, confirming what came before it, as guidance and glad tidings for the believers.

16:101. And when We change a Verse in place of another, and Allâh knows the best of what He sends down, they (the disbelievers) say: "You (O Muhammad ) are but a forger!" Nay, but most of them know not.

The truth of the matter is that these two verses describe two totally seperate issues with regards to God's revelation. Verse 2:97 describes the fact that the Qur'an confirms the revelations delivered to previous nations, while verse 16:101 describes the Qur'anic concept of abrogation. The following points clarify these two issues:

1. With regards to verse 2:97, Syed Qutb (d. 1966CE) writes the following in his prominent Fi Dhilalil Qur'an:
The Qur'an was lodged in Muhammad's heart, confirming "the Scriptures revealed before it, and is a guidance and joyful tidings for the believers".
The Qur'an confirms and endorses in general terms all Divine revelations recieved before it. The religion of God, as expounded and preached by all revealed Scriptures, is basically one and the same. All Divine revelations have come as guidance to man and as a source of joyful tidings for all believing hearts that are receptive and willing to have faith in God.(Qutb, In the Shade of the Qur'an, The Islamic Foundation 1999, vol. 1, p.95)
And Shaykh Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi writes:
However, as a manifestation of Allaah's mercy, mankind was not left without guidance in its social and political life. Rather, their Creator provided for them a set of laws that would govern them in their mutual affairs, and instruct them concerning all that was beneficial for them, and warn against all that was harmful to them. These code of laws varied from time to time, and from place to place, for each set of peoples had their own specific problems and peculiar situations that needed to be catered to. Allaah says,
And for every nation, We appointed (their) religious ceremonies, so that they may mention the Name of Allaah...[3:50]
Since each prophet was sent to a different nation, it was possible for one messenger to abrogate the laws of a previous messenger. (Qadhi, An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur'aan, Al-Hidaayah Publishing and Distribution 1999, p. 245)
Thus, the Qur'an confirms the laws, beliefs and stories found in previous scritures while it also serves as a criterion in identifying false notions and doctrines which have crept into previous scriptures through corruption. Although the Qur'an confirms the message of the previous revelations it also contains some different laws which are more appropriate for the Muslim nation than older laws such as the Mosaic laws. As Moiz Amjad comments:
Mr. Katz contends that the Qur'an cannot confirm as well as substitute the previous scriptures at the same time. The reason for this contention is that Mr. Katz has taken the word 'confirm' to imply 'to approve, to sanction or to endorse'. The word, however, is also used to mean: 'to verify, to prove and to certify'. Mr. Katz is correct in contending that the Qur'an cannot "confirm" (i.e. approve/sanction/endorse) the old scriptures as well as substitute or abrogate them. However, I am sure all would agree that there would be no contradiction in saying that 'even though the Christians "confirm" (i.e. verify/certify) circumcision to be a part of divine law, yet consider the obligatory nature of this law to be abrogated.' In the same way, there is obviously no contradiction in the statement that "the Qur'an, on the one hand "confirms" the divine origin of the previous scriptures, and on the other, substitutes its laws with the new laws". (SOURCE)
The Qur'an only confirms the message of the previous revelations in their original form, not the tampered form that has survived. As for the tampered form, then the Qur'an confirms what is correct and distinguishes it from what is false. Furthermore, some of the details in the laws of previous revelations were particular for their respective nation, and consequently the Qur'an contains laws that are more appropriate for the followers of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

2. With regards to verse 16:101, then this explains the concept of abrogation (naskh) in the Qur'an. The Qur'an was revealed gradually to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) allowing his followers to gradually becoming stronger in faith and able to follow the laws of Islam. As Shaykh Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi mentions:
Among the blessings of Allaah to the Companions is that He revealed to them the laws of Islaam gradually, and thus made it easier for them to adopt these laws. Initially, there were no specific laws of halaal and haraam. The Companions during the Makkan stage were being trained spiritually so that they could form the nucleus of the future Muslim state in Madeenah. Once they had passed this stage, Allaah then completed the revelation of the sharee'ah in gradual steps, so that they could adapt to the lifestyle of Islaam.(Qadhi, An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur'aan, Al-Hidaayah Publishing and Distribution 1999, p. 86)
Thus, early Qur'anic verses may have contained a general or light directive which was later substituted for a specific ruling laying down a concrete law. For instance, the Qur'an initially stated that there was much harm and some benefit in alcohol (2:219) after which many Muslims began to abstain from alcohol more. Then the Qur'an forbade the believers to perform prayer when intoxicated (4:43) and later on it declared alcohol to be categorically forbidden (5:90). In this manner, the Qur'an gradually revealed laws through a process of substituting a few verses, which aided in establishing the Islamic practices. Had alcohol been forbidden at once in a society where it was a firmly-rooted practice, the message would have been too difficult to follow. Abrogation does not imply any imperfection on the part of God, as some crtics claim. It only illustrates the changing condition of society and the need to provide laws relevant to a nation's context in the world. For more information on Abrogation, please refer to the article #####.
To conclude, verse 2:97 indicates that the Qur'an confirms the truth found in previous scriptures while verse 16:101 describes the gradual revelation of Islamic law and how one verse is exchanged for another. Thus, there is no contradiction between the two.


Ansar Al-'Adl
08-15-2005, 06:13 PM
The Qur'an's Pure Arabic and the Presence of Foreign Words

On the thirty-fourth alleged contradiction:
The Qur'an is PURE Arabic [16:103] but there are numerous foreign, non-Arabic words in it.
Verse in question:
16:103. And indeed We know that they (polytheists and pagans) say: "It is only a human being who teaches him (Muhammad)." The tongue of the man they refer to is foreign, while this (the Qur'ân) is a speech Arabeeyun mubeen.

1. This is simply an example of a mistranslation. The critics have incorrectly translated arabeeyun mubeen as 'pure arabic' when in reality it refers to clarity and eloquence, hence the phrase should be rendered as:
while this (the Qur'ân) is clear, eloquent Arabic speech.
In his explanation on this verse, Ibn Kathir Ad-Damishqi (d. 1372CE) writes in his renowned Tafsir Al-Qur'an Al-Azim:
(The tongue of the man they refer to is foreign, while this (the Qur'an) is a (in) clear Arabic tongue.) meaning, how could it be that this Qur'an with its eloquent style and perfect meanings, which is more perfect than any Book revealed to any previously sent Prophet, have been learnt from a foreigner who hardly speaks the language? No one with the slightest amount of common sense would say such a thing. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2000, vol. 5, p. 528; More Detailed Quote from Ibn Kathir here)
Thus, this verse has nothing to do with etymology and the presence of foreign words in the Qur'an. It simply points out that the Qur'an cannot be attributed to a foreigner when it has been revealed in clear and eloquent arabic. To understand mubeen in a sense that negates words of foreign origin would be illogical in light of its context in other verses. For example, Allah says:
31:11 Such is the Creation of Allah. now show Me what is there that others besides Him have created: nay, but the Transgressors are in manifest error.
The phrase that has been rendered here as 'manifest error' is dalaalim mubeen. Hence, it it obvious that mubeen refers to something clear, especially in the sense that it is obvious. There is no doubt about it,whether it be about its origin, its implication for humanity, its laws, its guidance - it is all clear and straightforward. As Muhammad Asad writes about the word:
whereas this is Arabic speech, clear [in itself] and clearly showing the truth [of its source].
The participial adjective mubin may denote an attribute of the noun which it qualifies ("clear", "manifest", "obvious", etc.) as well as its function ("making clear" or "manifesting", i.e., the truth), either of which meanings is dictated by its context. In the consensus of authoritative opinion, both these meanings are comprised in the above instance; consequently, a compound phrase is necessary in order to render the term appropriately.(Asad, Message of the Qur'an, The Book Foundation 2003)
From the above discussion it becomes apparent that the critic's objection about foreign words is totally irrelevant to the verse. The verse simply points out the fact that the Qur'an is obviously in clear arabic, hence it cannot be attributed to a non-arab. Regarding the stunning eloquence of the Qur'an, non-Muslim writer John Naish says:
The Qur'an in its original Arabic dress has a seductive beauty and charm of its own Couched in concise and exalted style, its brief pregnant sentences, often rhymed, possess an expressive force and explosive energy which it is extremely difficult to convey by literal word for word translation. (John Naish, M. A. (Oxon), D. D., The Wisdom of the Qur’an (Oxford: 1937), preface viii.)
For more quotes on the eloquence of the Qur'an, please see here and here.

2. It should be noted that although the Qur'an has words of foreign origin in it, this does not detract from the purity of the language at all. Shaykh Muhammad Mohar Ali, a former Professor of the History of Islam at Madinah Islamic University, discusses such issues in detail in one of his recent works:
Ever since the middle of the nineteenth century orientalists have turned their attention to what they consider "foreign words" in the Qur'an. They indeed take their cue from the writings of the Muslim classical scholars and exegetes themselves who, in their eagerness for meticulous studies of all aspects of the Qur'an, paid attention also to the words and expressions in it that were adopted and naturalized in the Arabic language of words and expressions of non-Arabic origin.
...Al-Suyuti and others before him emphasize three important facts in this connection. First, Arabic, Ethiopic, Syriac and Aramaic are cognate languages and have a good number of words in common because of their common roots. Second, in the course of the Arabs' long contact with the outside world, especially in the course of their trade and commerce, a number of words of non-Arabic origin entered the language and were naturalized, these being considered part and parcel of the Arabic language. Third, in the course of such adoption and naturalization the forms as well as the original meanings of the words underwent some modifications and changes.
These facts are common in respect to all languages. So far as Arabic is concerned, however, the first mentioned fact may be a little more elaborated. Arabic, Aramaic, Syriac and Hebrew are all Semitic languages and all had the same origin... The later Arabic language developed out of this original Arabic-Aramaic language. It is because of this fact that all the above mentioned languages have a number of words and expressions in common, though their senses and connotations have undergone changes due to the influences of time and locality. At the time the Qur'an came down, a number of words of these cognate languages as well as languages of the neigbouring peoples had been naturalized in the Arabic language and were regarded as part and parcel of the standard and literary Arabic (al-'arabiy al-mubin). The occurrence of such words and expressions in the Qur'an is thus quite natural because it was sent down in the language of its immediate audience, the Arabs.
...The Qur'anic ayah (16:103)...very strongly rebuts the same allegation of instruction by some person made by the Makkan unbelievers and points out that the language of the individual hinted at was "foreign" ('a'jami), i.e. not Arabic. ...The literary Arabic of the time was very developed and expressive; and a passage of the Qur'an which does not contain any of the alleged "foreign" words is as much a masterpiece of composition as any other passage. (M. M. Ali, The Qur'an and The Orientalists, Jam'iyat 'Ihyaa' Minhaaj Al-Sunnah 2004, pp. 305-306, 308, emphasis added)
In his above discussion on foreign words in the Qur'an, Shaykh M. Mohar Ali makes several important points. First, he points out that it is a characteristic of languages that they borrow extensively, and even entirely, from previous dialects, yet this in no way detracts from the purity of the language. He states that the foreign words become "part and parcel" of the language, which maintains the status of arabeeyin mubeen. He also points out that all these foreign words had already been accepted as part of the arabic language prior to Qur'anic revelation. In fact, Shaykh Mohar Ali continues by discussing the research on foreign words by Arthur Jeffery:
In fact Jeffery's researches go to show that the words he identifies as of foreign origin had actually been naturalized and become regular Arabic words before they came to be used in the Qur'an. He lists some 275 such words other than proper names. "About three quarters of the words in this list", as Watt points out, "can be shown to have been in use in Arabic before the time of Muhammad, ... Of the remaining 70 or so, though there is no written evidence of their earlier use, it may well be true that they were already employed in speech..." (fn. Watt, bell's Introduction etc., op. cit., p. 85). And in view of the fact that Arabic, Syriac, Ethiopic, Hebrew or Jewish Aramaic are cognate Semitic languages having common origin in the original Arabic-Aramaic mentioned above, they have many words in common and also similar forms. It is thus difficult in many cases to say which of such common words is derived from which of these languages. (M. M. Ali, The Qur'an and The Orientalists, Jam'iyat 'Ihyaa' Minhaaj Al-Sunnah 2004, p. 313)
Thus, these "foreign" words had already been integrated into the arabic language and were accepted as part of pure literary arabic. This notion is expressed accurately by Moiz Amjad as follows:
it is not the lack of words borrowed from other languages that makes good and pure literature, but the clarity and the purity of the dialect. In fact, words of foreign-origin, when adopted by the literati of a language, become a part of that language. The Qur'an, in the referred verse has indeed stressed the clarity and the purity of the dialect to refute the allegation of the rejecters that a non-Arab has forged the Qur'an. Nevertheless, the fact that some of the words of the Qur'an are of a foreign-origin does not refute the purity of the Qur'anic Arabic, unless it is proven that such words had not already been adopted by the Arabs in there speech and/or literature.

Obviously, the clarity and the style of the language of "Julius Caesar" is a clear evidence of the fact that its writer has a classical English background. The mere fact that 'Caesar' is a word of Roman (?) origin does not make Shakespeare any less an English writer. In fact, if any one criticizes Shakespeare for not using 'emperor' or 'ruler' (or any other pure English synonym for 'Caesar') in place of 'Caesar', to make it pure English, such a person not only has no sense of literature but is not even aware of the fact that the word 'Caesar' was used in the English language not merely to imply 'ruler' or 'emperor', but as a title for the Roman emperors.

Exactly in the same manner, any one who thinks that the Qur'an has used any foreign words actually is mistaken by the fact that some of the words in the Qur'an have a foreign-origin. Nevertheless, the Qur'an has used only such foreign-origin words, which had not only been introduced in the Arabic language but were also commonly used by the Arabs. Thus, it should be kept in mind that it is not the origin of words used by a literature, that effects the purity or otherwise of that literature. On the contrary, it is whether such words of foreign-origin have been adopted in the language or not. If such words have generally been adopted as a part of the language, usage of such words would not affect the purity of the language or the dialect. (SOURCE)
In light of the above explanation, it should be clear that the Qur'an is still considered pure arabic inspite of the fact that Arabic borrows, as all languages do, extensivley from previous dialects and languages.
In conclusion, there is no contradiction in verse 16:103 as it points towards the fact that the Qur'an is clear and eloquent arabic speech that cannot be mistaken for any other language. The Qur'an is clear in its source, its wordings, its laws and its commands.


Ansar Al-'Adl
08-18-2005, 06:48 AM
The Qur'an being contained in the Earlier Revelations

Concerning the thirty-fith allegation:
The infinite loop problem Sura 26:192,195,196: "It (the Qur'an) is indeed a revelation from the Lord of the Worlds, ... in clear Arabic speech and indeed IT (the Qur'an) is in the writings of the earlier (prophets)." Now, the 'earlier writings' are the Torah and the Injil for example, written in Hebrew and Greek. HOW can an ARABIC Qur'an be contained in books of other languages? Furthermore, it would have to contain this very passage of the Qur'an since the Qur'an is properly contained in them. Hence these earlier writings have to be contained in yet other earlier writings and we are in an infinite loop, which is absurd.
Verses in question:
26:192-196. And truly, this (the Qur'ân) is a revelation from the Lord of the 'Alamîn (mankind, jinns and all that exists), Which the trustworthy Rûh [Jibrael (Gabriel)] has brought down; Upon your heart (O Muhammad ) that you may be (one) of the warners, In the plain Arabic language. And verily, it is in the Scriptures of former people.

1. The allegation of the critic is that these verses of the Qur'an necessitate that the Qur'an must be contained, completely word-for-word in the previous scriptures due to the phrase "it is in the scriptures of former people". This claim, however, has no basis in language. Stating that one thing is "in" another does not necessitate that it be contained completely in the referred object/location. Consider the following examples:
He was lying in bed. - Meaning that he was resting on the surface of the bed.
Look! You're in the Newspaper! - Meaning that this person is mentioned or referred to in the newspaper.
Everything the mechanic said was in the manual that we lost last year. - Meaning that the guidance given by the mechanic was also the same information/message that was available in the manual.
The above three examples demonstrate that the claim is baseless. The Qur'an is in the previous scriptures as well, which does not necessitate that it be contained completely in the previous scriptures.

2. Concerning the statement that the Qur'an is "in the scriptures of former people", there is a required supressed meaning associated with the verse. This is the meaning that is commonly placed in the brackets in a translation. One possible meaning is that the Qur'an is [referred to] in the previous scriptures. This is similar to the second example cited under the first point, "you're in the newspaper". Just as the person is mentioned in the newspaper, the Qur'an is also mentioned in previous scriptures. This is the interpretation given by Imaam Ibn Kathir Ad-Damishqi (d. 1372CE) in his renowned Tafsir Al-Qur'an Al-Azim:
Allah says [that] this Qur'an was mentioned and referred to in the previous Scriptures that were left behind by their Prophets who foretold it in ancient times and more recently. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2000, vol. 7, p. 276)
Other scholars have interpreted the verse to mean that the Qur'anic message was given in previous revelations as well, i.e. they all carried the same essential teachings. This is similar to the other example, Everything the mechanic said was in the manual that we lost last year. Thus, both the Qur'an and the previous scriptures gave the same guidance, just as both the mechanic and the manual gave the same guidance. As Abul Ala Maududi (d. 1979 CE) mentions in his popular commentary, Tafheem Al-Qur'an:
(196) [a revelation embodied] in the Scriptures of former people.
The same message, the same Revelation, and the same Divine teachings can be found in all the previous Scriptures. The same call to worship the One True God, the same belief in the Hereafter, and the same invitation to follow the Prophets were also stressed in those earlier Scriptures. All the Books which have come down from God denounce associating others with Him in His Divinity. All of them ask people to shun materialism. All call people to the True Path which is inextricably linked with the idea of man's accountability to God. All demand from man one and the same thing: that he should give up all notions of his own sovereignty in deference to the Divine commands brought by the Prophets. In this respect, there is nothing novel in the Qur'an; there is nothing in it which was not part of the teachings of the previous Prophets. (Maududi, Towards Understanding the Qur'an, The Islamic Foundation 1995, vol. 7, p.114 fn. 122)
Based on the above explanation, the verse would be rendered as And verily it is [preaching the same message as that found] in the Scriptures of former people. Thus, the understood meaning of the verse is that the Qur'an carries the same message as that of previous revelations from God. As Muhammad Asad writes:
(196) And, verily, [the essence of] this [revelation] is indeed found in the ancient books of divine wisdom [as well].[Lit., “in the scriptures (zubur, sing. zabur) of the ancients” (see 21: 105). This interpretation of the above verse - advanced among others by Zamakhshari and Baydawi (and, according to the former, attributed to Imam Abu Hanifah as well) - is in full consonance with the oft-repeated Quranic doctrine that the basic teachings revealed to Muhammad are in their purport (manni) identical with those preached by the earlier prophets. (Asad, The Message of the Qur'an, The Book Foundation 2003, emphasis added)
In light of the above explanation, it should be clear that the meaning of vers 26:196 is not that the arabic verses of the Qur'an are found in previous revelations, but that the Qur'anic message is the same as that found in previous revelations, and the Qur'an itself has been referred to in the previous revelations.

Ansar Al-'Adl
08-29-2005, 10:36 PM
Lot's Wife being called "An Old Woman"

Regarding the thirty-sixth alleged contradiction:
"An old woman" and God's character About the story of Lot: "So we delivered him and his family, - all exept an old woman who lingered behind." [Sura 26:170-171] And again: "But we saved him and his family, exept his wife: she was of those who lagged behind. [Sura 7:83]. Either this is a contradiction or if indeed Lot's wife is derogatorily called "an old woman" then this does not show much respect for her as a wife of a prophet.
Verses in question:
26:170. So We saved [Prophet Lut] and his family, all, Except an old woman (his wife) among those who remained behind.

7:83. Then We saved [Prophet Lut] and his family, except his wife; she was of those who remained behind (in the torment).

1. The first point that must be made is that the critic's has a gross misunderstanding with regard to the wife of Prophet Lot. She was not a noble woman worthy of respect in any way. As the Qur'an mentions about her:
66:10 For those who are bent on denying the truth God has propounded a parable in [the stories of] Noah's wife and Lot's wife: they were wedded to two of Our righteous servants, and each one betrayed her husband; 21 and neither of the two [husbands] will be of any avail to these two women when they are told [on Judgment Day], "Enter the fire with all those [other sinners] who enter it!

Thus, in Islam respect is not granted to anyone based on familal ties and relations, but rather on their character and their piety. The wife of Lot betrayed her husband and turned his people against him, while persistently rejecting God, despite the fact that her own husband was one of God's Messengers! Because of her evil, God mentions in the Qur'an that she was destined to be punished along with her rebellious nation:
27:57. So We saved him and his family, except his wife. We destined her to be of those who remained behind.

2. As for the two verses, then there is no contradiction between stating "Lot's wife" in one location, and stating "an old woman" in another location, since it is entirely possible that Lot's wife actually was an old woman, especially since Lot had been living and preaching amongst his nation for quite a long period.

Ansar Al-'Adl
08-29-2005, 11:02 PM
The Response of Lot's Nation to His Call

Concerning the thirty-seventh alleged contradiction:
More problems with the story of Lot "And his people gave NO answer but this: They said, "Drive them out of your city: these are indeed men who want to be clean and pure!" [Sura 7:82 & 27:56]. Yet: "But his people gave NO answer but this: They said: "Bring us the Wrath of Allah if thou tellest the truth." [Sura 29:29]. Obviously these answers are different.
Verses in question:
27:54-56. And [thus, too, did We save] Lot, when he said unto his people: “Would you commit this abomination with your eyes open (to its being against all nature)? Must you really approach men with lust instead of women? Nay, but you are people without any awareness (of right and wrong)!” But his people’s only answer was this: “Expel [Lot and] Lot’s followers from your township! Verily, they are folk who make themselves out to be pure!”

29:28-29. And Lot, [too, was inspired by Us] when he said unto his people: “Verily, you commit abominations such as none in all the world has ever committed before you! Must you indeed approach men [with lust], and rob the wayfarer? - and must you commit these shameful deeds in your open] assemblies?” But his people’s only answer was, “Bring down upon us God’s chastisement, if thou art a man of truth!”

It is clear that when these verses are looked at in context, the responses given by the People of Lot are given in reponse to different allegations. It is ridiculous to assume that all the years of preaching Lot gave to his people only involved a singe dialogue, with a single response from his people. In his preaching he would have confronted them on many occasions about their evils. Notice also that verses 29:28-29 contain additional allegations in comparison to those found in verses 27:54-56.


Ansar Al-'Adl
08-30-2005, 06:36 PM
Is the Punishment and Mercy of Allah Arbitrary?

Concerning the thirty-eighth alleged contradiction:
The "pleasure" of Allah? Is God's action of punishment or mercy and guidance or misguidance arbitrary? Verse 29:21 states that God punishes and shows mercy as He pleases, and verse 14:4 states the same about His guidance and misguidance.
Verses in question:
29:21 He punishes whomever He wills, and bestows His mercy on whomever He wills; and unto Him you shall be made to return.

14:4 And We sent not a Messenger except with the language of his people, in order that he might make (the Message) clear for them. Then Allah lets go astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.

1. First, there is no 'contradiction' in these verses at all, and we can only wonder why the critic has chosen to label it as such. As for the interpretation of these verses, they are all explained within the Qur'an itself. With regards to the punishment and mercy of Allah, they are delivered with complete justice to whomever deserves it. Indeed, Allah has the power and strength to punish whomever He pleases, but in His justice His punishment does not befall any except those deserved it. When describing the punishment that befell previous disbelieving nations, the Qur'an states:
9:70, 29:40, 30:9. It was not Allah Who wronged them, but they wronged their own souls.
And in another location, Allah mentions:
43:76 And We wronged them not, but they have been the wrong-doers themselves.
Thus, it is clear that Allah punishes those who are sinful, who reject His signs and continue to oppress His creation on earth. His punishment is given to those who deserve it. The same is true for His mercy:
3:132 And obey Allah and the Messenger so that ye may obtain mercy.

24:56 So establish regular Prayer and give regular Charity; and obey the Messenger so that ye may receive mercy.

49:10 The Believers are but a single Brotherhood: So make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers; and fear Allah, that ye may receive Mercy

Just like His Punishment, it is evident that Allah's mercy is given for a purpose, to those who enjoin right and forbid wrong and perform righteous deeds, worshipping Allah with sincerity.

2. We can use the same method to determine the reasons behind Allah's guidance and His allowance of someone to go astray. With regards to guidance, we have already mentioned the verse, [Allah] guides whom He wills. The question is - who does Allah will to be guided? The answer is given in the Qur'an:

42:13 The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah - the which We have sent by inspiration to thee - and that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: Namely, that ye should remain steadfast in religion, and make no divisions therein: to those who worship other things than Allah, hard is the (way) to which thou callest them. Allah chooses to Himself those whom He pleases, and guides to Himself those who turn (to Him).

7:158... So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the Unlettered Prophet, who believeth in Allah and His words: follow him that (so) ye may be guided.

Thus, Allah guides those who turn to Him in prayer and seek His guidance. . Those who turn to their creator and fulfil their duty will receive further guidance. While those who are cruel to God's creation, who reject His blessings with ingratitude, they will be punished and are not worthy of guidance. They will only be allowed to stray even further. Allah clarifies who is allowed to go astray:

2:26-27. But He causes not to be misguided except the iniquitous. Those who break Allah's Covenant after ratifying it, and sever what Allâh has ordered to be joined, and spread corruption on earth, it is they who are the losers.

45:23 Have you seen him who takes his own lust (vain desires) as his god, and Allah knowing (him as such), left him astray, and sealed his hearing and his heart, and put a cover on his sight. Who then will guide him after Allâh? Will you not then remember?

3:86 ...but Allah guides not a people unjust.
The above discussion should make it clear that the mercy, guidance, punishment and misguidance delivered by Allah are not arbritary at all. Rather, there is divine wisdom behind all of these and Allah is not unjust in His decisions.


Ansar Al-'Adl
09-06-2005, 10:00 PM
Did Abraham Smash The Idols?

Regarding the thirty-ninth allegation:
Did Abraham smash the idols? The accounts of Abraham, Suras 19:41-49, 6:74-83 differ quite a bit from Sura 21:51-59. While in Sura 21 Abraham confronts his people strongly, and even destroys the idols, in Sura 19 Abraham shuts up after his father threatens him to stone him for speaking out against the idols. And he seems not only to become silent, but even to leave the area ("turning away from them all").
Verses in question:
19:41-49. And mention Abraham in the book, he was indeed a saintly man and a prophet. When he said to his father: 'Why do you worship a thing that can neither hear [your calls] nor see [your conditions] and cannot help you in anything. My dear father, things that were unknown to you have come to my knowledge; therefore follow me, that I may guide you to the even path. My dear father, do not worship satan, for satan has rebelled against the Merciful [Creator]. My dear father, I fear that a punishment from the Merciful may inflict you and you may become a partner of the satan'. He replied: 'How dare you renounce my gods, Abraham? If you desist not, I shall stone you [to death]. Leave my house this instant and go away from me'. 'Peace be with you', said Abraham. 'I shall pray to my Lord to forgive you, indeed He has always been gracious to me. I shall leave you and what you call upon besides God. I shall call upon my Lord and may my prayers to my Lord not be in vain.

6:74-83. And when Abraham said to his father, Aazar: 'Do you really take these idols to be gods? You and all your people are indeed in clear error'. Thus we used to show Abraham the [secrets of the] kingdom of the heavens and the earth, so that he become a firm believer. Then, [one day,] when night drew its shadow over him, he saw a star. 'That', he said, 'is my God'. But when it faded in the morning light, he said: 'I will not worship gods that fade.' When he beheld the rising moon, he said: 'That is my God'. But when it set, he said: 'If my Lord does not guide me, I shall surely go astray'. The when he beheld the sun shining, he said: That must be my God: it is the largest.' But when it set, he said to his people: 'I disown your idols. I will turn my face to Him who has created the heavens and the earth, and will live a righteous life. I am no idolater'. His people argued with him. He said: 'Will you argue with me about God, who has given me guidance? I do not fear your idols, unless my Lord so willed. My Lord has knowledge of all things. Will you not be warned? And how should I fear your idols when you yourselves are not afraid of serving idols not sanctioned by God? Which of us is more deserving of salvation? Tell me, if you know the truth. Those that have faith and do not taint their faith with wrongdoing shall surely earn salvation, for they follow the right path'. Such was the argument with which We furnished Abraham against his people. We raise whom We will to an exalted rank. Your Lord is wise and all-knowing.

21:51-59. And We had bestowed guidance on Abraham before this for We were well-aware of him. When he said to his father and his people: 'What are these images to which you are so devoted?' They replied: 'They are the gods that our fathers worshipped'. He said: 'Then you and your fathers have, indeed, been in clear error'. They said: 'Have you got something worth listening to, or are you just playing [with our beliefs]?' He answered: [These are not true gods], your Lord, on the contrary, is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, Who created them. And I openly bear witness to this. By Allah, I will, indeed plan against your idols, after you turn your backs [upon them]. Thus he broke them all into pieces, except their supreme god, so that they may [be able to] turn to him [for help]. [When they saw their gods broken in pieces] They said: 'Who did this to our gods, he is indeed a transgressor'.

The critic has claimed that there is a contradiction on the basis of the silence of some verses concerning the events narrated in other verses. Such a method is flawed, as each of these verses relate the happenings of a different event. The argument between Abraham (peace be upon him) and his father was a different stage in his life and occured before he broke the idols. As for the event in verses 6:74-83, some scholars have mentioned that this occured later in Abraham's life in a different land, while others say that this occurred very early in his life before the argument with his father and the breaking of the idols. For the explanation of verses 6:74-83 please refer to Did Abraham Commit Shirk.
To read how these various events come together in the life of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him), one may refer to the following article:
The Story of Ibrahim.


Ansar Al-'Adl
09-06-2005, 10:49 PM
The Fate of Noah's Family

Concerning the fourtieth alleged contradiction:
What about Noah's son? According to Sura 21:76, Noah and his family is saved from the flood, and Sura 37:77 confirms that his seed survived. But Sura 11:42-43 reports that Noah's son drowns
Verses in question:

21:76 (Remember) Noah, when he cried (to Us) aforetime: We listened to his (prayer) and delivered him and his family from great distress.

37:77 And We made his progeny to endure (on this earth)

11:42-43. So it (the ship) sailed with them amidst the waves like mountains, and Noah called out to his son, who had separated himself (apart), "O my son! Embark with us and be not with the disbelievers."
The son replied: "I will betake myself to a mountain, it will save me from the water." Noah said: "This day there is no saviour from the Decree of Allâh except him on whom He has mercy." And a wave came in between them, so he (the son) was among the drowned.

1. With regards to verse 21:76 which states that the family of Prophet Noah (peace be upon him) was saved, the Qur'an itself clarifies what it means by his "family", for Prophet Noah himself, asked God about this:
11:45-47. And Noah called upon his Lord and said, "O my Lord! Verily, my son is of my family! And certainly, Your Promise is true, and You are the Most Just of the judges."
He said: "O Noah! Surely, he is not of your family; verily, his work is unrighteous, so ask not of Me that of which you have no knowledge! I admonish you, lest you be one of the ignorants."
Noah said: "O my Lord! I seek refuge with You from asking You that of which I have no knowledge. And unless You forgive me and have Mercy on me, I would indeed be one of the losers."

Thus, here Allah distinguishes between our blood family and our true family in faith. As the Qur'an states about our family:
49:10 All believers are but brethren.
Thus, there is no conflict between verses 11:42-43 and 21:76. With regards to verse 37:77, it simply states that his progeny endured and according to some narrations, it will until the end of humanity. There are some who have interpreted verse 37:77 to imply that his followers did not have any surviving descendants (see Ibn Kathir, Stories of the Prophets, Maktaba Darussalam 2003, p.88). However, others disagree as Shaykh Abdul Wahhab At-Turayri mentions:
With respect to the verse: “And We made his descendants those who remained.” [Sûrah al-Sâffât: 77], we cannot derive such a conclusion, since the wording in the verse is not specifically exclusive. There is no contrary indication that we need to deduce. Noah’s descendants were definitely “those who remained”; however that is understood in the context of comparison with the unbelievers who stayed behind. As for the possibility of other passengers being on the ark and the possibility of their leaving descendants, it is a possibility that is not ruled out by the verse. It is a matter that is not clearly addressed, and therefore one about which we should not speculate.

The Qur’ân simply does not state how many people went with Noah, nor does it say anything about what other people besides Noah’s people may have been living on the Earth at the time.

The Qur’ân does not discuss the extent of the flood. Scholars of Qur’anic commentary differ on the matter. For instance, Ibn `Atiyyah and al-Alûsî are among the commentators who favor the idea that the flood was a regional phenomenon. All the direct statements about the global scope and extent of the flood come from various unverifiable accounts taken from Jewish and Christian sources. Since we only know about matters of the unseen through revelation in the Qur’ân and authentic Sunnah, this question cannot be answered decisively.

...With respect to the verse: “And We made his descendants those who remained.” [Sûrah al-Sâffât: 77]

On the basis of this verse, some scholars have claimed that no other human beings were left on the Earth. It is related from Qatâdah that he said: “Humanity, all of them, are from the descendants of Noah.” [Tafsîr Ibn Kathîr (5/347)]

However, this verse is making no such claim, since no reference is made to humanity as a whole or to the world as a whole. Therefore, the most that we can take from the verse with certainty is that Noah’s descendants survived while the unbelievers from among his people did not.

As for the hadîth attributed to the Prophet (peace be upon him) about the three sons of Noah (peace be upon him), they are weak and cannot be used as evidence.
Based on the above points, we can understand that the verses do not contradict since Noah's son was not considered amongst Noah's true family, and verse 37:77 does not include Noah's son nor does it exclude Noah's followers.

2. Another point to note is the broad range of meanings associated with the arabic words Ahl (family) and dhuriya (progeny) used in these verses. One frequently hears the Islamic terms Ahlus-Sunnah (People/followers of the Sunnah), Ahlul-Hadeeth (People/followers of hadeeth) and Ahlul-Kitaab (People of the Book i.e. Christians and Jews). And in the Qur'an it says:
27:34 She said: "Kings, when they enter a country, despoil it, and make the noblest of its Ahl its lowest thus do they behave.

28:4 Truly Pharaoh elated himself in the land and broke up its Ahl into sections

28:15 And he entered the city at a time when its Ahl were not watching

In the above verses, all commentators and translators have interpreted Ahl to mean the people/inhabitants of the city, not the 'family' of the city. And the word Ahl has also been interpreted as people in the following verse describing Prophet Ishmael (Ismaa'il):
19:55 He enjoined upon his Ahl (people) worship and alms giving, and was acceptable in the sight of his Lord.
Just as Ahl is a broad term, so is dhuriyya, as the Qur'an says:
36:41 And a Sign for them is that We bore their dhuriya [through the Flood] in the loaded Ark
In the above verse, Yusuf Ali has even chosen to translate dhuriya as 'race' and Muhammad Asad makes the following comment:
The term “offspring” denotes here the human race as a whole (cf. the recurring expression “children of Adam”). (Asad, The Message of the Qur'an, The Book Foundation 2003)
Thus, when we re-read the passages with these meanings in mind, we find that verses 21:76 and 37:77 are statements concerning the survival of his followers and supporters, therefore it does not contradict verses 11:42-43 which speak about the fate of Noah's son.

3. Critics also point out that Noah is commanded to take all his family and the believers on board the ark with him, but not those people "against whom a word has already been passed" (verse 11:40). Critics feel that this phrase implies that Noah was instructed not to take certain people on board the ark, yet he disobeyed when he called his son to join him on the ark. This claim is based on an incorrect understanding of the mentioned phrase. The usage of 'word' in the phrase implies the decree of Allah swt, hence Noah may simply have been instructed to leave the disbelievers behind - those who were decreed to stay behind. The verse does not necessitate that Noah was informed who specifically was doomed and who was not.


Ansar Al-'Adl
09-08-2005, 11:12 PM
Was Noah Driven Out?

Concerning the fourty-first allegation:
Was Noah driven out? "Before them *the people of Noah* rejected (their messenger): They rejected Our servant and said, 'Here is One possessed!' And he was driven out." [Sura 54:9] Now, if he is driven out [expelled from their country] how come they can scoff at him while he is buiding the ark since we read "Forthwith he (starts) constructing the Ark: Every time that the Chiefs of *his people* passed by him, they threw ridicule on him." [Sura 11:38] He cannot be both: Driven out and near enough that they can regularly pass by.
Verses in question:
54:9 Before them the People of Noah rejected (their apostle): they rejected Our servant, and said, "Here is one possessed!", and he was driven out.

11:38 Forthwith he (starts) constructing the Ark: Every time that the chiefs of his people passed by him, they threw ridicule on him. He said: "If ye ridicule us now, we (in our turn) can look down on you with ridicule likewise!

1. The misunderstanding has arisen because the critic based his entire allegation on the interpretation presented in a single translation (Yusuf Ali). But the arabic word wazdujir has more meanings than just "and he was driven out". Consider the following translations:
Pickthall Translation: The folk of Noah denied before them, yea, they denied Our slave and said: A madman; and he was repulsed.

A. J. Arberry Translation: The people of Noah cried lies before them; they cried lies to Our servant, and said, 'A man possessed!' And he was rejected.

Daryabadi Translation: There belied before them the people of Nuh. So they belied Our bondman Nuh and said: `a madman;' and moreover he was reproven.

Muhsin Khan Translation: The people of Nuh (Noah) denied (their Messenger) before them, they rejected Our slave, and said: "A madman!" and he was insolently rebuked and threatened.

Muhammad Asad Translation: [Long] before those [who now deny resurrection] did Noah’s people call it a lie; and they gave the lie to Our servant and said, “Mad is he!” - and he was repulsed
The more common interpretation immediately extinguishes the contradiction.

2. Even if Prophet Noah was driven out [of his home/neighborhood], this does not mean that there would have been no interactions with the people of his nation. It is reasonable to believe that he could have been driven to the outskirts of the city, where he began to build the ark in the desert. Whenever travellers passing by on the roads would see them they would ridicule them. This is similar to the Boycott against the family of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) when his tribe moved out into the outskirts of Makkah. In fact, in many societies, someone may be drivcen out of their homes and forced to live on the streets, but that does not mean that they are driven out of civilization all together.


Ansar Al-'Adl
09-16-2005, 11:27 PM
Regarding Pharoah's Fate

Concerning the fourty-second alleged contradiction:
Was Pharaoh Drowned or Saved when chasing Moses and the Israelites? Saved [10:92], drowned [28:40, 17:103, 43:55].
Since it is well-established amongst Muslims that Pharoah was drowned, we need only examine verse 10:92 in context, which is the basis upon which the critic builds his argument:
10:90-92. And We took the Children of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh and his army pursued them in oppression and enmity. At length, when he began to drown, he said: "I believe that none has the right to be worshipped but the One in Whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am one of the Muslims." [We declared] "Now (you believe) while you refused to believe before and you were one of the evil-doers. [Thus, you shall never be forgiven] but this day We shall deliver you as a corpse (out from the sea) that you may be a sign to those who come after you! And verily, many among mankind are heedless of Our signs.
1. The claim is based on a misinterpretation of verse 10:92, specifically the phrase 'falyawma nunajjîka bibadanika', that 'this day we shall deliver you as a corpse'. The misinterpretation arises from some translations rendering the phrase as "this day we shall save you in your body", which can be confusing to the reader since the key point to note is that Pharoah was not saved, but his dead body was preserved and delivered from the sea for the Children of Israel as proof of his death. This explanation has been provided in many books of tafsir (Qur'anic exegesis), for example the renowned scholar Ibn Kathir Ad-Damishqi (d.1372CE) writes in his Tafsir Al-Qur'an Al-Azim:
About Allah's statement,
(So this day We shall deliver your (dead) body (out from the sea) that you may be a sign to those who come after you!)
Ibn 'Abbas and others from among the Salaf have said:
"Some of the Children of Israel doubted the death of Fir'awn (Pharoah) so Allah commanded the sea to throw his body - whole, without a soul - with his known armor plate. The body was thrown to a high place on the land so that the Children of israel could confirm his death and destruction." (fn. At-Tabari 15:196). That is why Allah said,
(So this day we shall deliver you..") meaning that we will put your body on a [raised] place on the earth. Mujahid said,
"(your (dead) body) means, 'your physical body.'" (fn. At-Tabari 15:197).
(that you may be a sign to those who came after you!) meaning, so that might be proof of your death and destruction for the Children of Israel. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors 2000, vol. 4, pp. 653-654)
Thus, Ibn Kathir explains, by quoting the traditional understanding of the earliest Muslims, that this phrase only signifies that the dead body of Phraoah was delivered from the Sea. This is confirmed by many narrations found in the tafsir of Imam Ibn Jarir At-Tabari (d. 923CE):
God says that He told Pharaoh that We shall throw your body on a raised piece of land so that people see you dead, whoever has any doubts about your death.
...Muhammad Ibn Sa'd told me: My father told me: My uncle told me that his father reported from his own father who reported that Ibn 'Abbâs commented on "falyawma nunajjîka bibadanika litakûna liman khalfaka 'âyah" that God saved Pharaoh from the sea for the sake of the Children of Israel so that they looked at him after he was drowned. If one asked why say "bibadanika" and whether it would be possible for Pharaoh to be saved without his body so that one needs to specify "bibadanika". It would be said that Pharaoh could be saved as a body without life/soul meaning lifeless. (ARABIC SOURCE)
A similar explanation is given in the tafsir of Fakhr Al-Din Ar-Razi (d. 1209CE), in which he clarifies the meaning of several phrases in the verse:
There are certain aspects that need explanation in "Today We shall save you as a body": Firstly, "We shall save you" means We shall throw you [out of the water] on a plateau, which is a raised piece of land. Secondly: We shall bring you out of the waters and relieve you from what has befallen your people in the pit of the sea, but only after you have drowned. The phrase "as a body" is a circumstantial phrase, implying that 'such would be your situation at that time that you shall be a body, without life'. Thirdly, this is a promise of relief for the Pharaoh, by way of sarcasm, as the Qur'an has said [elsewhere] 'give them the glad tidings of a painful punishment'. This is as if to say to Pharaoh: We shall relieve you, but this relief shall be granted to your body only, not to your soul. (Tafsir Al-Kabir, SOURCE)
And the following explanation is found in Tafsir Al-Jalalayn, written by Imam Jalal Ad-Deen Al-Muhalla (d. 1460CE) and his student, Jalal Al-Din As-Suyuti (d. 1505CE):
"falyawma nunajjîka" [meaning] We will deliver you from the sea; "bibadanika" [meaning] as a corpse devoid of life/soul; "litakûna liman khalfaka" [meaning as a sign for those who would come] afterwards... (ARABIC SOURCE)
The above detailed commentaries have been cited so as to leave no doubt in the reader's mind concerning the unanimous agreement amongst Muslim scholars on this issue - that these verses imply that Pharoah was drowned, while his body was preserved. It by no means can be taken to mean that Pharoah was saved as such an interpretation would conflict with the literal arabic wording, other parts of the Qur'an, and the statements from the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the early Muslims.

2. Some critics also raise the question as to who is conveying the words in verses 10:91-92 to Pharoah. According to them, this verse necessitates that he is either a Prophet since God is speaking to him directly, or a Prophet must be there whil he is drowning speaking these words to him. This objection is flawed for several reasons.
First of all, even though God is the speaker addressing Pharoah in verses 10:91-92, this does not necessitate that God's words were actually heard by Pharoah. We can find many analogous exampls in our daily lives. For instance, a hunter loses his prey and mutters, "You won't get away! I'll hunt you down wherever you may hide!" Thus, it is common for a statement to be directed towards someone but not intended for that individual to hear. Nevertheless, the words conveyed to us in verse 10:91-92 may heave been heard by the Angels or inhabitants of heaven, or it is possible that an Angel may have conveyed them to Pharoah - the verse simply doesn't specify which, as it is an irrelevant matter.

3. Some historians and Muslim scholars have identified the 'Pharoah' mentioned in the Qur'an with some Pharoahs from Ancient Egypt, such as Ramses II or Merneptah. Although these may be interesting historical theories, they are not confirmed facts nor do they have any bearing on the Qur'anic message. As Mufti Muhammad Shafi, the late Grand Mufti of Pakistan, writes in his tafsir:
Some time back, newspaper reports indicated that the dead body of Pharoah was found intact and was seen by the public at large and that it was deposited safely in the Cairo Museum. But, it cannot be said with certainty that this is the same Pharoah who confronted Sayyidna Musa (Moses) (peace be upon him), or is some other Pharoah because names of Pharoahs differ. Every ruler of Egypt in that period of history had the title of Pharoah.
But, no wonder, the Divine power had throwned a drowned dead body ashore. Very similarly, it may have kept it even preserved against spoilage so that it could become a lesson for future generations. And it may still be there! (However it remains essential to learn a lesson from it as compared to becoming excited about its discovery as an archaeological triumph). (Shafi, Ma'ariful Qur'an, Maktaba-e-Darul-Uloom, Karachi, 2003, vol. 4, p. 574, emphasis added)
Thus, Muslims should remember that these stories have been revealed in the Qur'an as a lesson and reminder for us, so that we may take heed and serve Allah before it is too late.
The above points should clarify that there is no contradiction between the referred passages in the Qur'an, as nothing has been stated that indicates Pharoah did not drown.

Ansar Al-'Adl
09-17-2005, 02:19 AM
Repentance When Faced With Death

With regards to the fourty-third alleged contradiction:
Pharaoh's repentance in the face of death? According to Sura 10:90-92, Pharaoh repented "in the sight of death" and was saved. But Sura 4:18 says that such a thing can't happen.
This claim is based on a misinterpretation of verse 10:92, the explanation of which has been mentioned in a preceding article #####. Pharoah was not saved, rather he drowned. Thus, verse 4:18 is correct when it states:
4:18 Of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil, until death faces one of them, and he says, "Now have I repented indeed;" nor of those who die rejecting Faith: for them have We prepared a punishment most grievous.

In conclusion, there is no contradiction between the verses.

Ansar Al-'Adl
09-17-2005, 02:26 AM
Abrogation and the Unalterable Word of God

Concerning the fourty-fourth alleged contradiction:
Abrogation? "The words of the Lord are perfect in truth and justice; there is NONE who can change His words." [Sura 6:115] Also see 6:34 and 10:65. But then Allah (Muhammad?) sees the need to exchange some of them for "better ones" [Sura 2:106, 16:101].
Verses in question:
6:115. And the Word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice. None can change His Words. And He is the All Hearer, the All Knower.

2:106. Whatever a Verse (revelation) do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring a better one or similar to it. Know you not that Allâh is able to do all things?

16:101. And when We change a Verse in place of another, and Allâh knows the best of what He sends down, they (the disbelievers) say: "You (O Muhammad ) are but a forger!" Nay, but most of them know not.

1. This objection is based on a misinterpretation of verse 6:115, hence we shall first provide the correct explanation of this verse before moving on to explain the concept of abrogation in the Qur'an. With regards to verse 6:115 and all similar statements in the Qur'an, the phrase 'none can change His words' does not necessarily refer to literal verbal revelation. Nor does the suspension of a verse's ruling necessarily equate the changing of God's words. What is understood from this verse and similar verses in the Qur'an is that the 'words' being referred to here are the decrees of Allah. Let us examine what Imam Ibn Kathir Ad-Damishqi (d. 1372CE) says regarding this phrase in his Tafsir Al-Qur'an Al-Azim:
(and none can alter the Words of Allah.) This refers to His decision that victory in this life and the Hereafter is for His believing servants. Allah said in other Ayat,
(And, verily, Our Word has gone forth of old for Our servants, the Messengers. That they verily would be made triumphant. And that Our hosts, they verily would be the victors.) (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors 2000, vol. 3, pp. 338-339)

(None can change His Words.) meaning, none can avert Allah's judgment whether in this life or the Hereafter, (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors 2000, vol. 3, p. 447)
Thus, we can see that for both verses 6:34 and 6:115, Ibn Kathir has explained that this phrase simply relates to the unalterable decrees and laws of Allah. Our destiny in this life has already been dictated by Allah and recorded in the Preserved Tablet (Al-Lawh Al-Mahfudh). This tablet contains the words of Our Creator, and these decrees cannot be changed. Abul Ala Maududi (d. 1979 CE) expresses this concept in the following terms in his commentary on verse 6:34:
The point emphasized here is that no one has the power to change God's Law regarding the conflict between Truth and falsehood. Lovers of Truth must of necessity pass through trials and persecutions so as to be gradually tempered. Their endurance, their honesty of conviction, their readiness to sacrifice and to undertake all risks for their cause, the strength of their faith and the extent of their trust in God must be tested. They must pass through this phase of persecution to develop in themselves those qualities which can be developed nowhere else but on earth. They are also required to defeat the forces of Ignorance by virtue of their moral excellence and the nobility of their character. Only after they have established their moral superiority over the adversaries will God's help arrive. No one can secure that help beforehand. (Maududi, Towards Understanding the Qur'an, The Islamic Foundation 1995, vol. 2, p.227 fn. 22)
Hence, Maududi emphasizes that the decree is associated with the law relating to our position and task in this wordly life. Moiz Amjad presents a similar argument in his article, Abrogation & the Unalterable 'Word' of God! , in which he writes:
I have explained the three referred verses and have shown that if interpreted in the light of their respective contexts, none of these verses can be taken to refer to the books revealed by God. In the first of the three verses (Al-An`aam 6: 34) 'the words of God' refer to the God's law regarding the rejection of His messengers. In the second verse (Al-An`aam 6: 115) the phrase 'the word of your Lord' refers to the unchanging law of God regarding who is allowed to accept His guidance and who is not. Finally, in the third verse (Yunus 10: 64), 'the words of God' refer to the unalterable law of God regarding reward of the pious. None of the referred verses, as evidenced by their context, refers to the books or verses revealed by God. They refer to certain moral laws of God, which the Qur'an has declared to be God's constants.(SOURCE)
By bringing together the mentioned points we may arrive at the understanding that the words referred to in these verses are those that dictate the fate of the universe. While the decrees of Allah may be presented in the verses of the Qur'an, the nullification of certain rulings of these verses does not equate the changing of Allah's decrees, as shall be elaborated under the next point. We have also commented on abrogation in #####.

2. With regards to abrogation (Ar. naskh), it is a confirmed Islamic doctrine in the Qur'an. Since the Qur'an was revealed gradually over a period of twenty-three years, the legal rulings were not imposed on its adherents all at once. Rather, it gave them time to grow in faith and become accustomed to Islam. As Shaykh Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi mentions:
Among the blessings of Allaah to the Companions is that He revealed to them the laws of Islaam gradually, and thus made it easier for them to adopt these laws. Initially, there were no specific laws of halaal and haraam. The Companions during the Makkan stage were being trained spiritually so that they could form the nucleus of the future Muslim state in Madeenah. Once they had passed this stage, Allaah then completed the revelation of the sharee'ah in gradual steps, so that they could adapt to the lifestyle of Islaam.(Qadhi, An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur'aan, Al-Hidaayah Publishing and Distribution 1999, p. 86)
And as Makkee ibn Abee Taalib (d. 1035CE) mentioned regarding abrogation:
And this (meaning naskh) is from Allah, and is meant to be for the betterment of His worshippers. So, He commands them with a ruling at a specific time, since He knows that it will be for their betterment for that particular time, but He already knows that this command will be removed from them at a later time, since at this later time that particular ruling will not be for their benefit. (An-Nahaas, p. 116.)
Thus, abrogation does not imply any imperfection whatsoever on the part of God, as critics allege. It does not mean that God made a mistake or that he didn't foresee an event. Rather, God knew in advance, and intended to send temporary laws for the early Muslims that would later be abrogated once the Muslim society became established.
It is analogous to a Professor who asks his students to perform 30 minutes of studying everyday for the first week. During the second week, he 'abrogates' his initial command and asks his students to perform 1 hour of studying every day. The Professor did not make a mistake initially, nor did he react to an unforeseen event. Rather, he had always planned to give a lighter load the first week to his students, and then increase the workload the next week because he knew they would be ready for it. In fact, he had his plan for the entire course written down and recorded. So when he initially gave the order to perform 30 minutes of homework, he knew that he would later abrogate this command.
Similarly, Allah initially gave some rulings that were later abrogated, but He knew and intended for them to be abrogated as the condition of the Muslims changed. He also recorded all His decrees in the Preserved Tablet; everythign was planned in advance. One may ask why some narrations seem to imply that God's revelation was a reaction to an event. The answer is that God revealed the laws at the occurence of such events so that the Muslims could appreciate the practical application of the law, and the need for such a law.

3. So the question that remains is, "Does the doctrine of abrogation contradict the verses stating that none can change the decrees of God?" And the answer is no, because God had decreed right from the beginning that He would reveal temporary laws that would be abrogated. He decreed right from the beginning that the Muslims would follow this law for this amount of time, and then later it would be abrogated by this law. That was His decree, His word. Abrogation is not the changing of His words, but it is the addition of a new ruling to be followed, as originally decreed. Going back to the example of the Professor, we could say that:
The Professor told his class at the beginning of the course, "I've written down what we will do during this course. I've planned it carefully, and written down everything we will do, word for word. No one can change my words." Then, during the second week when the Professor changes the ruling from 30 minutes of homework to 1 hour, a student complains and says, "But sir, you've changed your words!" The Professor responds by saying, "No, I haven't changed my words, I had planned this right from the beginning." Evidently, he is reffering to his plan as his words.
Thus, Allah has informed us that no one can alter the fate which He has decreed for the universe, and no one can repeal His decisions and decrees. This is completely different from the phenomenon of naskh, in which a new ruling is followed, in accordance with His original decree. Consequently, there is no contradiction between the two verses.

Ansar Al-'Adl
09-17-2005, 02:39 AM
Whom Allah Guides

Concerning the fourty-fifth alleged contradiction:
Guiding to truth? "Say: 'God - He guides to the truth; and which is worthier to be followed ...?" [Sura 10:35] But how much is left over of this worthiness when we also read: "Allah leads astray whom he pleases, and he guides whom He pleases, ..." [Sura 14:4]. And how do we know in which of Allah's categories of pleasure we fall? How sure can a Muslim be that he is one of those guided right and not one of those led astray?
The question of whom God guides has already been explained in detail in two of our previous responses, #### and The Mercy and Guidance of Allah. The answer from these articles is that God guides those who desire His guidance and He allows astray those who seek only to satisfy their worldly desires.


Ansar Al-'Adl
01-03-2006, 05:21 PM
Salvation for Non-muslims

In response to the fourty-sixth alleged contradiction:
Will Christians enter Paradise or go to Hell? Sura 2:62 and 5:69 say "Yes", Sura 5:72 (just 3 verses later) and 3:85 say "No".
Verses in question:
2:62 Verily! Those who believed and the Jews and Christians, and Sabians - whoever believed in Allâh and the Last Day and performed righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve .

5:69 Surely, those who believed and the Jews and Sabians and Christians - whosoever believed in Allâh and the Last Day, and worked righteousness, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

5:72 Indeed, they have disbelieved who say, "Behold, God is the Christ, son of Mary" - seeing that the Christ [himself] said, "O children of Israel! Worship God [alone], who is my Sustainer as well as your Sustainer."" Behold, whoever ascribes divinity to any being beside God, unto him will God deny paradise, and his abode shall be the fire: and such evildoers will have none to aid them.

3:85 And whoever seeks a religion other than Islâm, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.

The confusion arises from a misunderstanding of verses 2:62 and 5:69, hence the focus of this article will be to present the correct understanding of these verses.

Reference to Righteous Followers from Previous Nations

The common interpretation of these verses is that they refer to righteous followers of Prophets before the coming of Prophet Muhammad pbuh. This can be understood through the following points.
1. The Historical Context
The historical background will allow us to better understand the groups described in these verses. Imaam Ibn Kathir Ad-Damishqi (d. 1372CE) describes the historical context in his renowned Tafsir Al-Qur'an Al-Azim as follows:
[The saying of the Exalted, "verily! Those who believe and the Jews and the Christians, and the Sabians, whosoever believes in Allaah and the Last Day and does righteous deeds shall have their reward with their Lord": as-Suddi said,
‘the verse was revealed with regards to companions of Salmaan al-Faarisee about whom he informed the Prophet (SAW) that ‘they prayed, fasted, believed in you and bore witness that you had been sent as a Prophet.’ So when Salmaan had finished extolling them the Prophet (SAW) said, "O Salmaan they are from the People of the Fire." This weighed down heavily on Salmaan and then Allaah revealed this verse. So the Imaan of the Jews referred to those Jews who held fast to the Tawrah and the sunnah of Moses until Jesus was sent. When Jesus (AS) came then whosoever held fast to the Tawrah and the sunnah of Moses (and did not follow Jesus) was destroyed. The Imaan of the Christians referred to those who held fast to the Injeel and the laws of Jesus – these people were the believers who accepted him. This held true until Muhammad (SAW) came, so whosoever did not follow Muhammad (SAW) and did not leave what he had been following was destroyed.’
This does not negate what Alee bin Abee Talha reports from ibn Abbaas that after this verse was revealed Allaah revealed the verse, "whosoever desires a religion other than Islaam then it shall not be accepted from him and in the Hereafter he shall be of the losers." (3: 85) Here ibn Abbaas is informing that the only thing accepted from someone will be that which is in conformity to the Sharee`ah of Muhammad (SAW) after he had been sent. As for those who came before him, then whosoever followed the Messenger of his time then he was upon guidance and the victorious way. So the Jews referred to are the followers of Moses who used to judge by the Tawrah in their time.](Tafseer ibn Katheer’ 1/182)
Salman Al-Faarisee was a Persian Zoroastrian who left his home in search of God's true religion. He became a Christian in Syria and encountered many righteous Christian scholars who foretold of the coming of a Prophet in Arabia. Later, Salman came to Madinah and accepted Islam at the hands of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh. Naturally, he enquired about the status of those devout followers of previous Prophets whom he had encountered in his journey. Verses 2:62 and verses 5:69 clarify and explain the status of such people. They are not speaking about Christians and Jews who lived after the comming of the prophet Muhammad pbuh but did not accept him as a messenger, for one must accept the message of the Prophet sent to them in order to be guided. Contemporary Muslim writer, Dr. Jamal Badawi summarizes this explanation concisely:
This verse must be understood in the light of other verses in the Qur'an dealing with the same topic. It is clear in the Qur'an that rejecting beliefs in any prophet is tantamount to rejecting belief in all of them. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) to Muslims is the last, final and universal messenger to all humankind. As such rejecting belief in him and in the divine revelations or word of God given to him is tantamount to rejecting all of the prophets. Therefore, this verse may be referring to those who followed their prophet prior to the mission of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). In fact, these people who followed the unadulterated message of their prophet are in effect "fellow Muslims", literally those who sought peace through submission to God. (SOURCE)
In light of this explanation, it becomes quite clear that verses 2:62 and 5:69 are not at all stating that Christians and Jews who reject the message of Prophet Muhammad pbuh enter paradise, as the critic claims. The verse is referring to the original followers of previous Prophets before the coming of Prophet Muhammad pbuh. In other words, those who faithfully followed the teachings of the prophet sent to them will be rewarded.

2. Every Prophet brought the same Message
These verses make it very clear that the original and true followers of each Prophet will be rewarded, as all the Prophets brought the same message of submission to the One Creator and following His commandments. As the Qur'an mentions:
42:13 The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah - the which We have sent by inspiration to thee - and that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: Namely, that ye should remain steadfast in religion, and make no divisions therein: to those who worship other things than Allah, hard is the (way) to which thou callest them. Allah chooses to Himself those whom He pleases, and guides to Himself those who turn (to Him).
Likewise, the Prophet Muhammad pbuh said: "The Prophets are brothers; their mothers are different, but their religion is the same." (Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad and Abu Dawood. Saheeh al-Jaami' 2/14). Thus, verses 2:62 and 5:69 clarify that people from the past who followed their Prophet are on the same footing as those who now follow Prophet Muhammad pbuh. But once a Prophet has been sent, the people must accept that Prophet. Shaykh Umar Sulayman Al-Ashqar, Professor at the Shari'ah College of the University of Jordan, writes on this subject:
When examining the call of the Messengers which is referred to in the Qur'an, we find that the religion to which all the Messengers called people is one and the same, namely Islam:
Truly, the religion with Allah is Islam... (Qur'an 3:19)
Islam in the language of the Qur'an, is not the name of a particular religion, rather it is the name of the common religion which was preached by all the Prophets. Prophet Nooh (Noah) pbuh said to his people:
...And I have been commanded to be of the Muslims [i.e. those who submit to Allah's will]. (Qur'an 10:72)
Islam is the religion which Allah enjoined upon the father of the Prophets, Prophet Ibraheem (Abraham) pbuh:
When his Lord said to him, 'Submit [i.e. be a Muslim]!' He said, 'I have submitted myself [ as a Muslim] to the Lord of the 'Alameen [mankind, jinn and all that exists].' (Qur'an 2:131)
Both Prophet Ibraheem and Ya'qoob [Jacob] advised their children, saying,
Then die not except in the Faith of Islam [as Muslims - Islamic monotheism]. (Qur'an 2:132)
The sons of Ya'qoob pbuh responded to their father:
...We shall worship your God, the God of your fathers, Ibraheem [Abraham], Ismaa'eel [Ishmael], Ishaaq [Isaac], One God, and to Him we submit [in Islam]. (Qur'an 2:133)
Prophet Moosa (Moses) pbuh said to his people:
...O' my people! If you have believed in Allah, then put your trust in Him if you are Muslims [those who submit to Allah's Will]. (Qur'an 10:84)
The Disciples said to Prophet 'Eesa (Jesus) pbuh:
...We believe in Allah, and bear witness that we are Muslims [i.e. we submit to Allah]. (Qur'an 3:52)
When a group of the People of the Book heard the Qur'an,
..They say: 'We believe in it. Veruly, it is the truth from our Lord. Indeed even before it we have been from those who submit themselves to Allah in Islam as Muslims.' (Qur'an 28:53)
Islam was the common word which was spoken by all the Prophets and their followers from the most ancient of times until the time of Prophet Muhammad pbuh.

How to determine Islam

Islam means obedience, surrender and submission to Allah, by doing that which He commands and abstaining from that which He forbids. Hence, Islam at the time of Prophet Nooh (Noah) meant following that which Nooh brought, Islam at the time of Prophet Moosa (Moses) meant following the Law of Moosa. Islam at the time of Prophet 'Eesa (Jesus) meant following the Injeel. And Islam at the time of Prophet Muhammad pbuh meant following the Noble Messenger pbuh. (Al-Ashqar, The Messengers and the Messages: In the Light of the Qur'an and Sunnah (Islamic Creed Series Volume 4), International Islamic Publishing House 2003, pp. 310-312, emphasis added)
This quote from Shaykh Al-Ashqar explains that since the religion of every Prophet was Islam, then anyone who followed the message of the Prophet sent to them will be rewarded. In other words, the Jews at the time of Prophet Moses who followed his message will be rewarded. The Christians at the time of Prophet Jesus who followed his message will be rewarded. Now in the time of Prophet Muhammad pbuh, one must follow his message in order to attain that reward, the message being the same as that which was brought before. Shaykh Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, a Professor of Islamic studies and author of many Islamic books, repeats the same idea when he writes:
Since the consequences of following a false religion are so grave, the true religion of God must have been universally understandable and universally attainable in the past and it must continue eternally to be understandable and attainable throughout the entire world. In other words, the true religion of God cannot be confined to any one people, place, or period of time. Nor is it logical that such a religion should impose conditions that have nothing to do with the relationship of man with God, such as baptism, or belief in man as a savior, or an intermediary. Within the central principle of Islam and its definition (the surrender of one’s will to God) lie the roots of Islam’s universality. Whenever man comes to the realization that God is one and distinct from His creation, and submits himself to God, he becomes a Muslim in body and spirit and is eligible for paradise.
Consequently, anyone at any time in the most remote regions of the world can become Muslim, a follower of God’s religion, Islam, by merely rejecting the worship of creation and turning to God alone. It should be noted, however, that in order to actually submit to God’s will, one must continually choose between right and wrong. Indeed, man is endowed by God with the power not only to distinguish right from wrong but also to choose between them. These God-given powers carry with them an important responsibility, namely, that man is answerable to God for the choices he makes. It follows, then, that man should try his utmost to do good and avoid evil. These concepts are expressed in the final revelation as follows:
"Verily, those who believe (in the Qur’an), and those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Christians, and the Sabians (angel-and-star-worshippers) -- any of these who believe in Allah and the Last Day and work righteousness shall have their reward with their Lord. They will not be overcome by fear or grief."
[Qur’an 2:62]

If, for whatever reason, they fail to accept the final message after it has been clearly explained to them, they will be in grave danger. The last Prophet said:
"Whoever among the Christians and Jews hears of me but does not affirm his belief in what I brought and dies in this state will be among the inhabitants of hell."
(Sahih Muslim [English Translation], Vol.1 P.91 No, 284) (SOURCE, emphasis added)
In other words, verse 2:69 means that so long as an individual believed and submitted themselves to God by following the messenger of their time, they will receive their reward. Imaam Ibn Jarir At-Tabari (d. 923CE) also mentions that the Jews, Christians and Sabians being referred to in verses 2:62 and 5:69 are those who were true in following the original message of their Prophets; these were people who lived before the time of Prophet Muhammad pbuh. He writes:
And it was even said that the people who are meant here are those who believed from the people of the book in accordance to the belief of Issa (Jesus), and what he was sent with, until they caught up with Mohammed, salah allahu 'alayhi wa salam, and so they believed in him and said he was truthful. So, it was said to those who believed in Issa (Jesus) and what he was sent with after having witnessed Mohammed, salah allahu 'alayi wa salam: believe in Mohammed and what he was sent with. The meaning of 'Iman Al Mumin' (the faith of a believer) is his steadfast with his faith and his refusal to change it. But with the 'iman' (faith) of the Jews, Christians, and Sabians, it is their belief in Mohammed, salah allahu 'alayhi wa salam, and what he was sent with, and so whoever from them believes in Mohammed, and the Last day, does good deeds, and doesn't change or replace his religion until he dies upon that, he then gets the reward of his deed with his Lord as Allah has described." (Tabari, Jami‘ al-bayan fi ta’wil al-Qur’an, ARABIC SOURCE, emphasis added)
Imaam At-Tabari makes it clear that the verses describe followers of previous Prophets who followed that message before the coming of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh. Once he came, then they had to accept his message. Imaam At-Tabari also points out that the verse is not referring to everyone who calls themselves a Jew or Christian, but specifically to the true followers of Moses and Jesus amongst them:
How about if someone said to us: What about the complete meaning of the verse, "and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians" The reply would be in Allah's verse which completes [the earlier] meaning "whoever believed in Allah and the Last day" because it means: whomever from amongst them [the Jews, Christians, and Sabians] truly believed in Allah and the Last day, although Allah did not mention [the word] 'minhum' (from amongst them)... (Tabari, Jami‘ al-bayan fi ta’wil al-Qur’an, ARABIC SOURCE, emphasis added)
It becomes evident that the most prevalent understanding of these verses is that they referred to the previous nations, the true followers of Prophet Moses pbuh and Prophet Jesus pbuh. This answers the question concerning the fate of those people who came before Prophet Muhammad pbuh. Anyone who accepted the message brought by the Prophet of their time will be rewarded. However, there is absolutely no doubt that after someone receives the message of Prophet Muhammad pbuh, it is incumbent upon them to follow that path, as it is the final step in the chain of revelation. A true follower of any of the previous Prophets would be able to recognize that the message of Islam is a continuation of that which was taught by the previous Prophets. The Qur'an describes these people as follows:
28:51-55. And indeed now We have conveyed the Word (Qur'an), in order that they may receive admonition. Those to whom We gave the previous Scriptures, - they believe in it (the Qur'ân). And when it is recited to them, they say: "We have believed in it; Verily, it is the truth from our Lord. Indeed even before it we have been from those who submit themselves to Allah in Islam as Muslims. They will be given their reward twice over, because they are patient, and repel evil with good, and spend (in charity) out of what We have provided them. And when they hear vain talk, they withdraw from it and say: "To us our deeds, and to you your deeds. Peace be to you. We seek not the ignorant."
Notice that the followers of the previous prophets/scriptures are recorded to have said, in the above passage, that they considered themselves to have been practicing the same message from before. They considered themselves already 'Muslims'. Consequently, when the Qur'anic verses were presented to them they accepted them without hesitation as they recognized that the message had the same origin and in fact had been prophesized by the Prophets whom they followed. For further information concerning the original true message of the three Abrahamic faiths, one may refer to The First and Final Commandment by Dr. Laurence Brown MD, a truly fascinating work.

3. The Textual Context
Examining the context in which these verses appear will enable us to better appreciate the intended meaning of the verses. Verse 5:69 appears in the following context:
5:65-74. If only the People of the Book had believed and been righteous, We should indeed have blotted out their iniquities and admitted them to gardens of bliss. If only they had stood fast by the Tawraat, the Injeel, and what has [now] been sent to them from their Lord, they would have enjoyed happiness from every side. There is from among them a party on the right course: but many of them follow a course that is evil. O Messenger, proclaim the (message) which has been revealed to you from your Lord. And if you do not, then you have not conveyed His Message. And Allah will protect you from mankind. For Allah guides not those who reject Faith. Say: "O People of the Book! You have no ground to stand upon unless you establish the Tawraat, the Injeel, and that which has now been sent down to you from your Lord." Verily, that which has been sent down to you (Muhammad) from your Lord increases in many of them their obstinate rebellion and disbelief. So be not sorrowful over the people who disbelieve. Surely, those who believed and the Jews and Sabians and Christians - whosoever believed in Allâh and the Last Day, and worked righteousness, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. We took the covenant of the Children of Israel and sent them apostles, every time, there came to them an apostle with what they themselves desired not - some (of these) they called impostors, and some they (go so far as to) slay. They thought there would be no trial (or punishment); so they became blind and deaf; yet Allah (in mercy) turned to them; yet again many of them became blind and deaf. But Allah sees well all that they do. They do blaspheme who say: "God is Christ the son of Mary." But said Christ: "O Children of Israel! worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord." Whoever joins other gods with Allah,- Allah will forbid him the garden, and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrong-doers be no one to help. They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them. Why turn they not to Allah, and seek His forgiveness? For Allah is Oft- forgiving, Most Merciful.[
These verses begin by mentioning that the majority of the people of previous scriptures deviated from the truth while some still held fast to their scriptures. Then it mentions that Allah, in His infinite mercy, has sent to the people of the scripture another messenger to guide them back to the truth after they had deviated. They need only believe in Allah and the Last Day and accept the messages that were sent to them in order to attain salvation. Immediately after mentioning that anyone who has faith in Allah and does righteous deeds will be rewarded (verse 5:69), the Qur'an goes on to clarify that the Christians and Jews being referred to here are not those who killed the prophets or blasphemed by ascribing divinity to Prophet Jesus. Rather, verse 5:69 refers to those who follow the true message brought to them by their messengers. It clarifies that the Jews and Christians have now gone astray and conseuqently they do not qualify for the reward given to those who have truly believed and performed righteous deeds. This reward is for those who follow the messages of the Prophets, to worship one God alone and to keep the commandments. If one rejects the prophethood of Muhammad pbuh, they have not followed the message of God. But if one accepts the prophethood of Muhammad pbuh, then they are amongst those referred to in the verse who will be rewarded, and they are considered Muslims.
Similarly, verse 2:62 comes after the Qur'an describes the deviation of the people of Prophet Moses while some were true in following his message. So, the verse is understood to mean that anyone from the people of Moses, who truly accepted him and his message, will receive the reward promised to them. The same is true for Prophet Jesus and Prophet Muhammad pbuh. As Mufti Muhammad Shafi, the late Grand Mufti of Pakistan, writes concerning the context of verse 2:62:
The previous verse spoke of how the Israelites drew upon themselves the wrath of Allah through their habitual insolence and disobedience. Now, this account may lead listeners, or the Jews themselves, to suppose that, in view of such transgression, their Taubah (repentance), if they agree to offer it, would not be acceptable to Allah. In order to dispel such a misgiving, the present verse lays down a general principle: no matter how a man has been behaving ealier, so long as he submits himself fully to the commandments of Allah in his belief and in his deeds both, he is acceptable to Allah, and will get his reward. It is obvious enough that after the revelation of the Holy Qur'an, which is the last message of Allah, perfect obedience to Allah can only mean accepting Islam and following the Last Prophet Muhammad pbuh. (fn. Contrary to the flaccid fancies of some "modernizers" who are very happy with themselves over their "liberalism" and "tolerance", the present verse does not open the way of salvation for each and every "man of good will" irrespective of the creed he follows. If one reads the verse in its proper context and along with other relevant verses of the Holy Qur'an, one will easily see that the verse, in fact, promises salvation in the other world only to those who accept Islam. It is an invitation extended to the Jews, the Christians, the Sabeans and, as a matter of fact, to the followers of all possible religions, and even to non-believers - specific names only serve as examples.) The verse, in effect, assures everyone that once a man has accepted Islam, all his former transgressions, whether in the matter of beliefs or in that of deeds, will be forgiven, and he will become worthy of receiving the rewards of the other world. (Shafi, Ma'ariful Qur'an, Maktaba-e-Darul-Uloom, Karachi, 2003, vol. 1, pp. 227-228, emphasis added)
And Verse 3:85 appears in the following context:
3:84-85. Say (O Muhammad): "We believe in Allâh and in what has been sent down to us, and what was sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and Al-Asbât [the twelve tribes of the Children of Israel] and what was given to Moses, Jesus and the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between one another among them and to Him (Allâh) we have submitted (in Islâm)." And whoever seeks a religion other than Islâm, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.
Thus, this verse mentions that since the way of life preached by all the Prophets was Islam, this is the only religion acceptable from the people. Any human being who truly strived to submit themselves to the will of their Lord and followed whichever message had come to them from their Lord would be rewarded.

4. Objections answered
One may object to the above interpretation by pointing out that many english translations of the verse render the word 'believed' (Amana) in the present tense as 'believe', whereas this interpretation suggest that verse refers to believers of previous times. In fact, the word 'amana' is actually in the past tense (see Lisan Al-'Arab p. 165), and it is used many times in the Qur'an in such a manner. For instance:
10:83 But none believed (amana) in Moses except some children of his people, because of the fear of Pharaoh and his chiefs, lest they should persecute them; and certainly Pharaoh was mighty on the earth and one who transgressed all bounds.
11:36 It was revealed to Noah: "None of thy people will believe except those who have believed (amana) already! So grieve no longer over their (evil) deeds.
40:30 Then said the man [from the family of Pharoah] who believed (amana): "O my people! Truly I do fear for you something like the Day (of disaster) of the Confederates (in sin)!

Evidently, the Qur'an does indeed use the word to refer to people of past times and as such, the interpretation given by the Muslim commentators is valid.

One may also object by pointing out that the verse mentions believers before mentioning Jews, Christians and Sabians. If these verses refer to previous nations, why are believers mentioned? Many scholars pointed out that 'those who believed' was the general term given at the beginning of the verse, which continues on to mention specific groups that believed like Jews, Christians and Sabians. It is as though the verse is stating, "Those who believed - whether they were from the Jews, Christians, Sabians, etc. - any of them who truly believed in Allah and the Last Day will have their reward...". Other scholars explained that these verses were an invitation to all these groups to come to the truth, or remain firm on the truth if they were already upon it. As Mufti Muhammad Shafi writes:
One might also ask why the verse mentions the Muslims, for if it is an invitation to Islam, there is no need to extend the invitation to those who have already accepted Islam. But if we keep in mind the richly concentrated style of the Holy Qur'an, and try to look beyond the literal sense of the words into the implications and suggestions contained in the verse, we would find that the inclusion of the Muslim factor has added a new dimension to the meaning. It is as if a king should, in a similar situation, say that his laws are impartially applicable to all his subjects, and that whosoever obeys them shall receive his reward for obedience irrespective of whether he has earlier been a friend or a foe. Obviously, the friend has always been loyal and obedient, and the warning and the promise have really been addressed to the foe. But the suggestion contained in such a formulation is that the favours of the king do not proceed from any personal attachment to the friends, but depend on the quality of obedience and loyalty, and hence the foes too will become worthy of his favours if they acquire the necessary quality. This is the raison d'etre of mentioning the Muslims along with the non-Muslims in this verse, which should never be taken to imply that salvation can be attained without accepting Islam. (Shafi, Ma'ariful Qur'an, Maktaba-e-Darul-Uloom, Karachi, 2003, vol. 1, pp. 228-229)
In other words, the invitation to have true faith in Allah is extended to all people, and it is understood that this entails accepting the messages and messengers sent by Allah. Other scholars understood 'those who believed' (Allatheena amanu) to refer to those who outwardly believed, i.e. the hypocrites. Imam Muhammad bin Ali Ash-Shawkani (d. 1834 CE), a renowned Islamic scholars from Yemen, comments on this view as follows:
It was said: what is meant by "Al-latheena Amanu" (those who believe) are the munafiqoon, because they've been mentioned with the Jews, Christians and Sabians, meaning, their outwardly belief (in Allah). However, what is more correct is: what is meant by (Al-latheena Amanu) are the ones who believed in Prophet Mohammed, salah allahu 'alayhi wa salaam, and became part of his followers, and it as if Allah wanted to show how the affair of the believers and the ones who came before them in creed all came down to one thing: Whoever believed in Allah from among them, the day of Judgement, and did good deeds deserved the reward which Allah refers to. And whoever passes it by then has passed by all good and all reward. (Shawkani, Fath Al-Qadeer: Mu'asasat Ar-rayan (Part 1), p. 122, emphasis added)
These explanations given by the scholars support the interpretation of the verses given earlier; they state that no matter what era one lived in or which nation they came from, so long as they submitted themselves to the will of Allah and followed the message of the Prophet sent to them, they would receive their reward and would be considered true Muslims.

Following Prophet Muhammad pbuh is implicitly understood from the verse

One can arrive at the same conclusion given above, by analyzing the verses from a different angle. There are a number of points which demonstrate that following the Prophet Muhammad pbuh is implicitly understood from these verses.
1. 'Righteous deeds' are determined according to the message of the current Prophet
Both verse 2:62 and 5:69 point out that anyone who has faith in Allah and the Last Day, and performs righteous deeds will have their reward. 'Righteous deeds' refer to those that are in-line with the code of conduct that God has revealed to His Messengers. Thus, at the time of Prophet Moses pbuh, righteous deeds were those that were in-line with the law and teachings of Moses. At the time of Prophet Jesus pbuh, it was that which was in-line with the teachings of Jesus. And now, after the coming of Prophet Muhammad pbuh, righteous deeds are those that are in-line with the code of law (Shari'ah) brought by Prophet Muhammad pbuh. The popular exegete on the Qur'an, Syed Qutb (d. 1966CE), who was well-known for his skill in the Arabic language, mentions the following in his tafseer of 5:69:
The Truth Versus People's Fancies
This first part of the present passage concludes with a clear statement of the faith which God accepts from people, regardless of what they were called before the message of the last Prophet. It was the faith which united people of all creeds and doctrines in ancient hsitory. "Those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Sabians, and the Christians - anyone who believes in God and the Last Day and does what is right shall have no fear, nor shall they grieve." (Verse 69)
The passage names four groups: "those who believe" refers to Muslims, and the Jews are the followers of the Prophet Moses. The term Sabians refers, most probably, to those who abandoned the worship of idols before the Prophet Muhammad's message, worshipping God alone, following no particular creed. There were a handful of Arabs among them. The Christians are those who followed the Prophet Jesus Christ (peace be upon him).
This verse states that whatever their creed was, those who believe in God and the Last Day and do what is right - and it is implicitly understood here and explicitly elsewhere in the Qur'an that they have done that in accordance with the final Prophet's message - will attain salvation: "shall have no fear, nor shall they grieve." (Verse 69) They need not worry about what they used to do or under what title they were classified. The most important title is the last one.
What we have been describing is implicity understood from this Qur'anic verse. It comes under that part of our faith which is essentially known to all people. It is a primary concept of this faith that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the last of all prophets and a Messenger of God sent to all mankind. All people, regardless of their religion, creed, belief, race, and nationality, are called upon to believe in his message as he preached it in essence and detail. Anyone who does not believe in him as a Messenger and does not believe in the totality and the details of his message remains in error. God does not accept from him the religion he followed prior to the revelation of Islam. Nor is he included among those described by God as people who "shall have nothing to fear, nor shall they grieve." (Verse 69)
It is this primary concept of faith which a Muslim may not compromise on under the great pressure of the jahiliyyah or darkness in which humanity lives today. Indeed, a Muslim cannot overlook this concept when he establishes his relations with other people of different creeds and religions. He cannot try to reduce the pressure of ignorance by coming to terms with the followers of other creeds or doctrines, giving them the privilege of having "a faith" acceptable to God and constituting grounds for mutual support.
It is God alone who is the patron of believers: "Those who ally themselves with God and His Messenger and the believers (will find that) the party of God will be victorious." (Verse 56) This is certainly true even though appearances may give a different impression. Moreover, those who believe in God and the Last Day and do what is right, on the basis of the religion of Islam, which is the religion acceptable to God, shall have nothing to fear and shall not grieve. They need have no fear of the forces of evil and darkness and they need have no fear of their own goodly, believing souls. Grief will remain unknown to them. (Qutb, In The Shade of the Qur'an, The Islamic Foundation 2001, vol. IV pp. 196-197, emphasis added)
This lenghty quote clarifies that the deeds which are acceptable and deemed righteous by Allah are those that are in accordance with the message which He has sent. Therefore, we arrive at the same conclusion - that one must accept the message of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh when it reaches them. Likewise, the people at the time of Moses pbuh had to act in accordance with his message, as did the people at the time of Jesus. Acceptance of the Prophets is implicitly included and the verse and consequently, if one does not accept and act in accordance with the code of law brought by Prophet Muhammad pbuh, then they have not acted righteously.

2. The Definition of Imaan
The scholars who interpreted these passages as an invitation to accept Islam pointed out that the verses require that one have imaan in Allah. While this has been simply translated as 'belief' or 'faith', its meaning goes deeper than that. The Qur'an itself clarified this:
4:65 But no, by the Lord, they can have no real Faith (imaan), until they make thee judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against Thy decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction.
Likewise, Imaam Ash-Shawkaani writes in his commentary on verse 2:62:
What is meant here by Imaan is what the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Imaan is to believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, and the Last Day, and to believe in divine destiny, both the good and the evil thereof", while no one is described as a believer except when he has entered the fold of Islam, therefore, whoever doesn't believe in Muhammad (peace be upon him) and doesn't believe in the Qur'an is not a believer, and whosoever of them believes in it, has become a Muslim/believer and he is no longer Christian, Jewish, or Sabian. (Shawkani, Fath Al-Qadeer: Mu'asasat Ar-rayan (Part 1), p. 122)
And Mufti Muhammad Shafi writes:
a closer look at this verse itself will show a distinct hint towards belief in prophethood because, in the terminology of the Qur'ân, only that 'Îman bil-lâh (belief in Allah) is valid, in which there is belief in everything told by Allah. The Qur'ân has made its terminology very clear in the following words:
So, if they (the Companions) believe in the like of what you (the Prophet saws) believe in, they have certainly found the right path - 2:137
It means that the kind of 'Îman the noble Sahâbah [companions] had is the only 'Îman which deserves to be called 'Îman bil-lâh. And it is obvious that 'Îman bir-rasûl [belief in the Messenger] was a great pillar of the edifice of their 'Îman. Therefore, the words: (whoever believes in Allah) are inclusive of the belief in the Messenger of Allah. (Shafi, Ma'ariful Qur'an, Maktaba-e-Darul-Uloom, Karachi, 2003, vol. 3, p. 224)
It is quite clear that if we take these verses of the Qur'an in context and understand them in light of other Qur'anic verses and Ahadith, as oppose to taking them in isolation, then there remains no confusion that the one true path in life is submitting to the will of the Creator and acting in accordance with His final message, which is Islam.

3. Abrogation
Aside from the above explanations given, some other scholars assert that this verse has been abrogated (in a very general sense of the word). While this may seem to be in conflict with the understanding presented above, in reality it is complimentary to the previous explanations. According to this explanation, when Islam was in its early stages and was not yet known to many people, these verses (2:62 & 5:69) were revealed to clarify that anyone who sought their Lord, using whatever guidance they found left by previous Prophets, would be rewarded. Later, when Islam spread and became known to the people, it was clarified that from that point onwards, people would have to accept the message of Islam when it reached them. Thus, it could be said that the previous verse was 'abrogated' in a general sense (more on abrogation is found here). The support for this view is found in various Tafsir, such as that of Imaam Abu Abdullah Al-Qurtubi (d. 1272 CE) who writes:
It is reported from Ibn Abbas that this ayat is abrogated by "If anyone desires anything other than Islam as a din [way of life], it will not be accepted from him." (3:85) Others said that it is not abrogated and that it is about those who believe in the Prophet, peace be upon him, and who are firm in their belief. (Al-Qurtubi, Tafsir Al-Qurtubi, Dar Al-Taqwa Ltd. 2003, vol. 1, p. 267)
This quote indicates that the interpretation attributed to Ibn Abbas and supported by some scholars, holds that verse 3:85 comes after verse 2:69 and abrogates it.

It should also be noted that Islam asserts that God will judge everyone according to their circumstances. Consequently, it is not for Muslims to say whether someone, either living or deceased, will enter hell unless with explicit proof from the Qur'an or Ahadith. The renowned scholar, Imaam Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah (d. 1350CE), said concerning non-muslims who did not receive the clear message of Islam:
We cannot rule whether such people are believers or unbelievers, because disbelieving means to deny something, while in their case, they did not know about the message from the first instance. As they were neither believers nor unbelievers, they should have a different ruling on the Day of Judgment.

Even if we were to say that they are unbelievers, then we would still have to say that the precondition for unbelievers to be punished in the Hereafter has not been realized in their case. They have to be warned first. Allah will not punish people without a previous warning. This warning should be in the language that the person understands. (Tarîq al-Hijratayn and Ahkâm ahl al-Dhimmah)
Similarly, the IslamToday.com fatwa service writes:
Non-Muslims who never heard the message of Islam are known as ahl al-fatrah. God says: 'Nor would We punish until We had sent a messenger (to give warning).' [Sûrah al-Isrâ: 15]

Many scholars, including Ibn al-Qayyim, Ibn Kathîr and Ibn Bâz, have adopted the saying that the people who have never had an opportunity to come to know about Islam will be tested by God on the Day of Judgment. Those who pass the test and obey the commands will go to Paradise and those who are disobedient will go to Hell.

God knows best who has heard His message properly and rejected it and who has not done so. The most we can say that it is obligatory for all people to accept Islam and that anyone who knowingly rejects the truth of Islam is condemned in the Hereafter. However, it is not our place to state exactly what God is going to do with each and every individual on the Day of Judgment. God is the only one who knows the hearts of people and their circumstances, and He is the only one who will sit in judgment. We must trust in Him.
Hopefully, this article will clarify any confusion surrounding the Islamic concept of salvation and the meaning of these Qur'anic verses.

And Allah knows best.

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