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Reply to Robert Morey's Source of Islam Theories
By Shabbir Ally
Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. Peace and Blessings be on his noble messenger.
I pray as Moses prayed:
My Lord, Open for me my breast,
Ease for me my task,
and loosen my tongue,
That they may understand my speech.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dr. Morey thinks he can prove that Islam was not revealed by God if he can show that Islam says the same things which were already said before Islam. He does not realise that if he applies the same method to the Bible he would join the rank of those who no longer believe the Bible.
One such man is Magnus Magnusson, author of the book Archaeology of the Bible. On page 21 he writes:
The Sumerians recorded the oldest myths known to us-stories about the Creation that would be echoed many centuries later in the Creation myths of Genesis. But the most astonishing parallel between the Sumerian myths and the Biblical myths is the story of the Flood...(Archaeology of the Bible, p.21).
Then about the Flood itself, he writes:
The story he told is so close in its details that the Biblical Flood Story was obviously borrowed directly from the much earlier Sumerian original (Archaeology of the Bible, p.21).
Then, about the Ten Commandments he writes that for a long time it was believed that the Ten Commandments was the first of its kind. But recent archaeological discoveries have shown that many law codes from centuries earlier contained many of the ideas now in the Bible (Archaeology of the Bible, p.68).
Similarly, the book The Bible as History, says:
It was certainly possible to be quite convinced that the God-given moral law of Israel was without precedent in the Ancient East until parallels became known....(Bible as History, p.134).
After discussing those parallels, the book says:
The consequence of this renders it difficult for us today to maintain the earlier claim that the Biblical code of laws was unique. This fact may well shake the confidence of many people. We cannot remove this feeling of uncertanity (Bible as History, p.137).
Muslims and Christians will no doubt reject the conclusions of these men. We believe that the Creation and the Flood are not ancient myths, but God-given truth. We believe that God’s Commandments were not copied from men. If the Bible or the Qur’an is similar to what preceded them it is not because either book was copying or borrowing from somewhere else. It is because God makes his truth known to every people, not only the readers of the Bible and the Qur’an. And that truth, where it is still intact, agrees with what God later reveals in the Qur’an and the Bible. So Muslims and Christians do not have to join the rank of the unbelievers when scholars establish that ancient teaching resembles God’s present teachings.
Now my question is to Dr.Morey because he often
forgets hat he is a Christian and takes the position of a western scholar to
attack the Qur’an: Dr.Morey, would you as a western scholar join these men
in condemning the Bible using the same method as you did for the Qur’an?
Let me remind Dr. Morey of the following scripture:
How can you say to your brother, Let me remove that splinter from your eye, while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first..(Matthew 7:4-5).
And, in case Dr.Morey thinks I should not discuss the Bible here, let me remind him of his scripture:
For as you judge, so will you be judged...(Matthew 7:2).
Consider below how Morey judges Islam when he writes:
Muhammad did not preach anything new. Everything he taught had been believed and practised in Arabia long before he was even born. Even the idea of "only one God" was borrowed from the Jews and the Christians (Morey, Invasion, p.157).
The first problem with this approach is that it can be applied against Jesus with greater force. Everything he taught can be traced back to the Old Testament. Hugh Schonfield, in his book The Passover Plot, has even postulated that Jesus read the Old Testament about a Messiah who was to suffer, and convinced himself that he was to be that suffering Messiah. So he went up to Jerusalem deliberately provoking the Jews to put him to death; he also had a secret plot with his disciples to drug him so he would appear dead, and then to help him revive later. You see the problem with this type of approach? It cuts both ways. If Atheists want to discount Muhammad (pbuh) they can use this approach to their own satisfaction. But when Christians use this approach, it must be seen as a misguided attempt to discount Muhammad.
A second problem is with Morey’s presumption that a prophet is disproved if we find him repeating ancient teaching. He says:
Even the idea of "only one God" was borrowed from the Jews and the Christians (Morey, Invasion, p.157).
Does Morey imagine that in order for Muhammad (pbuh) to be true he should preach two gods? We know from the Bible that God does not always give new teachings to new prophets. Some prophets, for example Elisha, are sent simply to corroborate the old teaching. Some others, for example Jesus, are sent to both corroborate and abrogate. We cannot reject them just because they repeated the same teachings which their contemporaries already knew. It is strange that Morey would see Muhammad’s preaching of "only one God" as a sign of his falsehood.
Morey sometimes condemns the Qur’an for what he incorrectly supposed that the Qur’an says. Certainly he made a mistake in his book The Islamic Invasion, p.150, where he writes:
The seven heavens and hells described in the Qur’an came from the Zohar and the Hagigah (The Islamic Invasion, p.150).
Yet there is no verse in the Qur’an which says "seven heavens and hells."
Similarly, Morey had imagined a historical confusion in the Qur’an when he noticed that Surah 7:64 mentioned the flood of Noah, and then 7:136 mentioned the drowning of the Pharaoh. Morey then accused the Qur’an of claiming that Noah’s flood occurred in Moses’ day. He was delighted to say about this imagined error in the Quran:
This error cannot be easily swept aside (Morey, Invasion, p.141).
On the contrary, the imagined error washes away when we read the Surah. Had Morey read the Surah he would have noticed that the Qur’an concludes a description of the flood of Noah in verse 64, and does not begin mention of Moses until verse 103. And the thirty-eight verses between these episodes deal with a number of other times and places. Thus the confusion is not in the Qur’an but in the mind of Morey.
Question to Dr.Morey: Did you read this Surah? If not, why not? And if yes, How did you manage to make such an obvious mistake? Yet Dr. Morey needs not only to read, but to read carefully. Morey quoted a hadith from the book Sahih al-Bukhari, vol.1, no.367, to say that Anas saw the whiteness of the penis of Allaah’s prophet (Morey Invasion, p.182).
Yet the hadith says not "penis" but "thigh". That hadith mentions thigh three times, and penis not even once. The caption of that hadith is also:
"What is said about the thigh."
How did Morey manage to make such a blatant mistake? And with what intention? I have found in Morey’s writing several examples of this sort where his zeal for attacking Islam impairs his vision.
Or, does he see more than the rest of us? Morey claims on page 151 of his Invasion book that the Qur’an records things which were known before Muhammad. Among these things are the following:
1. Azazil and other spirits coming up from hades.
2. The peacock story.
Dr.Morey, will you please tell us where in the Qur’an you read any such thing? Let me help you with the first. Azazil comes not from the Qur’an but from the Bible. The Bible says that on the Day of Atonement Aaron should take two goats, and He shall cast lots to determine which one is for the Lord and which for Azazel. (Leviticus 16:8). Aaron should sacrifice the goat which is for the Lord. The other goat is for Azazel. Aaron should set that goat alive before the Lord, so that with it he may make atonement by sending it off to Azazel in the desert. (Leviticus 16:8). So who is this Azazel to whom the Lord will send the goat? The New American Bible answers in a footnote: Azazel: perhaps a name of Satan... (New American Bible, p.117).
So Dr.Morey, will you tell us what problem you have with the mention of Azazel? And, since the problem you had hoped would be in the Qur’an is not in the Qur’an but in the Bible, what are you going to do about it? The Scientist Isaac Asimov links the mention of Azazel above with the story of Genesis 6:1-4, But about this passage in Genesis, Asimov writes:
This remnant of primitive mythology, lingering on in the Bible, was interpreted literally by later Jews. They thought the angels, deliberately rebelling against God, chose to corrupt themselves with mankind out of the lust for women and that this act helped bring on the flood. Some versions of this legend made Azazel the chief of these angels (Asmov’s Guide to the Bible, vol.1, p.159).
Question: Dr.Morey what led you to believe that this story had anything to do with the Qur’an? So eager was Dr.Morey to prove that everything in Islam existed before Islam that he simply imagined that interest was already condemned in Arabia before Islam and stated so without any evidence in his book (Morey, Invasion, p.156). And, because the Bible allows you to charge interest to a stranger but not to a brother, Morey imagined that it was so in Islam also (Morey, Invasion, p.156). Dr.Morey, what is your evidence for this claim?
Did Muhammad Use Sources to Compose the Qur’an? Here are some of the facts which show that my answer to this question must be negative:
1. Muhammad could not have been the author of the Qur’an. Among the evidence for this is (a) the Qur’an speaks of the future with absolute prophetic accuracy, (b) the Qur’an reveals knowledge which would not be uncovered by scientists until the 20th Century.
2. Others who lived in Muhammad’s day and had presumably the same access to Muhammad’s supposed sources were challenged to produce a book like the Qur’an. They couldn’t. How did Muhammad do it, except with divine help?
3. The claimed sources had to be gathered after many centuries of hard work by many generations of scholars building upon the work of each other. It is well nigh impossible that the prophet (pbuh) would have accumulated such a vast body of knowledge in one lifetime, unless he had divine help.
4. The claimed sources show some similarity but
also some vast areas of difference with the Qur’an. The similarity of two
books do not prove necessarily that one is the source of the other, but possibly
that both have a single source. The claimed sources have so departed from
monotheism that what is more likely is that they contain some surviving revealed
truth mixed with falsehood. The Qur’an can then be seen as a restatement
of pure monotheism which incidentally coincides with whatever truth remained
intact in previous writings.
5. The Qur’an carefully avoids the mistakes and deviations found in the previous books. Some examples will demonstrate this point.
Qur’an Copies Not, But Corrects Previous Information
If we come with a neutral position to examine the
Qur’an, we will have to conclude not that the Qur’an copied its supposed
sources, but rather that it checks, compares, corrects, approves, and rejects
what was available.
To make this comparison easy for everyone, I will use the Bible as a claimed source, since this is widely available, and any interested person can then verify my conclusions.
1. Reverend Tisdall, a Christian missionary from
whom Morey copied several mistakes, said,
throughout the Coran only one verse is quoted from the Gospel. (Tisdall, Source of Islam, p.72).
Then he mentions Surah 7:38 (40) which says that certain persons will not enter Paradise until the camel goes through the eye of the needle, something similar to what is stated in the Gospels (Mt. 19:24, Mk. 10:25, Lk. 18:25). But, contrary to Tisdall’s assertion, the Qur’an does not quote the Gospel. And, aside from the camel-and-needle phrase meaning "impossible," the main teaching here is quite different. If we ask here, "Who are the people who cannot possibly enter Paradise?" the answer we get from the two books is as follows:
Bible: Any Rich man.
Qur’an: Those who deny and scorn God’s message.
The benefit of this difference is clear when we
realise what is the implication of the Bible’s pronouncement. A Christian
must sell everything he has and give to the poor (Mt, Mk, Lk.) or to the church
(Acts 4:32; 5:105).
2. Tisdall, from what he said above, was unaware that other things in the Qur’an are similar to the Bible. But he did on page 51 quote the story of the angel’s annunciation to Mary. Was he unaware? Or did he dare not compare? Let’s see. When Mary asked how she can have a child, what reply did she get?
So (it will be) for Allaah creates what He wills. When he has decreed something, He says to it only: "Be!" and it is (3:47).
The Holy spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35)
The benefit of the Qur’anic expression is clear
when we realise that many among the laity understand the Lukan passage as
meaning that God replaced the male element in Mary’s conception. Then they
become confused as to which person of the Holy Trinity is the father of Jesus:
the Father, the Holy Spirit, or both?
3. Morey claimed that the Qur’an is wrong in saying that Aziz was the name of the man who bought Joseph son of Jacob. How does he know this? Because the Bible says his name is Potiphar, and the Bible is always right (Morey, Invasion, p.140). Apart from Morey’s confusion here between a name and a title, if Morey had compared the story of Joseph in the Bible and the Qur’an, he would have found that Bible contradictions are completely absent from the Qur’an. Consider this:
(a) To whom did the Midianites sell Joseph? Two
different answers from the Bible:
(i) To the Israelites (Genesis 37: 28).
(ii) To Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh (Genesis 37:36).
(b) Who brought Joseph to Egypt? Three different
answers from the Bible:
(i) The Ishmaelites (Genesis 37:28).
(ii) The Midianites (Genesis 37:36)
(iii) Joseph’s brothers (Genesis 45:4).
These contradictions are absent from the Qur’anic text. How can you compare the two? What is clear again and again is not that the Qur’an copied the Bible, but the Qur’an corrects what had deviated from the truth before it.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dr.Morey cannot win this segment of the debate, but loses badly, unless he can answer to your satisfaction all the questions I have raised in this lecture. You be the judge.
Asimov, Isaac. Asimov’s Guide to the Bible (US,
Keller, Werner. The Bible As History (US, Hodder and Stoughton, 1980).
Mangnusson, Magnus. Archaeology Of The Bible (US, Simon and Schuster, 1977).
Morey, Robert. The Islamic Invasion (US, Harvest House, 1992).
Schonfield, Hugh J.The Passover Plot (US, Bantam, 1965).
St. Clair-Tisdall, W.The Sources of Islam (Scotland, T & T. Clark, no date).
The New American Bible (US, Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1986).
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