Sam Shamoun's response to
Alleged Mistakes in the Qur'an... by the Learner

The following is a response to the Learner's rebuttal of my debate material against Shabir Ally. This original rebuttal was written at the request of one Faisal who made the following comment:

Alleged Mistakes in the Qur'an…

I would like first to thank you for your satisfying answers that you have posted for some of my questions, and thank the rest of the brothers on the team. May Allah bless you all and reward you all the best. Mr. Sam Shamoun (from the Answering Islam team) had forwarded an article to me. I know that your team and other Islamic sites - like Islamic awareness - have answered some of the claims he brought up but there are few other claims that I would like u to show us how to deal with and refute. And if possible I hope to see a complete refutation to his paper. But for now some of the issues that concerns me. Under the title "Contradictions In The Qur'an" Mr. Sam says:

Unfortunately, from what is stated above Faisal failed to mention the purpose in writing my article. My aim was not so much to attack the Quran, but rather to attack a certain methodology employed by Shabir Ally throughout his lectures and debates against the Holy Bible. Here are some relevant portions from my article highlighting this fact:

The following is an outline highlighting the difficulties in the Muslim belief that the Quran is the Word of God. We will basically be using the very same methodology that Shabir Ally uses throughout his debates to prove that the Holy Bible is not the Word of God.

Shabir's attack on the Holy Bible falls under several different categories, some of which include:

  • Textual Variants of the Bible
  • Alleged Contradictions of the Bible
  • False Prophecies of the Bible
  • NT Misquoting the OT

Instead of dealing with specific charges made by Ally against the Holy Bible, we will employ his very own method against the Quran and see if it passes Ally's test. We would like to state that the allegations against the Holy Bible have been answered and will provide links documenting this point.


Contradictions In The Quran

Before proceeding into this section, we again need to reiterate the point made earlier. We use this critical approach for the sole purpose of demonstrating the faulty methodology of Shabir Ally. As we had stated earlier, the very method of criticism employed by Shabir against the Holy Bible can be used more forcefully against the Quran. With that just said, let us proceed into the Quranic errors.

(See the full article.)

Therefore, in light of the statements above I had no intention of uncritically attacking the Quran. Rather, my intent was to show the double standards employed by Muslim apologists in dealing with the Holy Bible and the Quran. Much like Christians have provided answers to the assertions made by Shabir Ally, I had no doubt that Muslims would also be responding to my criticisms upon the Quran.

Yet, in trying to respond to some of the contradictions in my article, the Learner has actually strengthened the case against the Quran as I shall shortly document. Furthermore, in his attempt to escape the brunt of my criticisms the Learner unfortunately had to misquote the Holy Bible in order to support his case. I am not suggesting that the Learner's misapplication of biblical passages was deliberate, since I cannot speak on his motives. Rather, I only bring this out since it is an issue which needs to be dealt with. With that said, let us proceed with the alleged rebuttal to specific issues brought up in my article. I will only be dealing with those responses that I felt were weak and actually reinforced my arguments.



Let us take the stated objections one by one.

3- John the Baptist's Name

The Qur'an, in Maryam 19: 7 says:

O Zechariah, We give you glad tidings of a boy, his name shall be Yahya (John). Before this, We made no one his 'Samiyaa'.

Mr. Shamoun writes: ... All these Johns lived before John the Baptist. John was indeed a very common name.

It should be remembered that the referred verse of the Qur'an does not say that there was no one by the name of John, before John the Baptist. On the contrary, it says: "Before this, We [i.e. God] made no one his 'samiyaa' (generally interpreted as namesake)". A mistake can only be established in the Qur'an if it is proven beyond any reasonable doubt that God did name someone by the name John, before John the Baptist. Mr. Shamoun has only cited referenced to the effect that there were people by the name of John before John the Baptist. For pointing out a mistake in the Qur'an, he should also establish that any one of these 'Johns' was, in fact, given his name by God.

Although, the above paragraph should suffice as a response to Mr. Shamoun's contention, ...


The Learner thinks that this response is sufficient in rebutting my original argument but in actuality it fails to do so. The Learner begs the question by suggesting that I need to show where God named someone else John. Yet, this assumes what the Learner has yet to prove. This assumes that God is the author of the Quran and therefore entails circular reasoning on the part of the Learner. The fact is that I do not believe that the Quran is the word of God and hence do not need to show where God named someone else John since it is not God who is speaking.

Hence, in its attempt to rebut my point the Learner engages in circular reasoning, assuming what it has yet to prove.

In fact, the contention in my article is not originally mine but one endorsed by Muslim authorities as well:

<We have given that name to none before (him)>

Qatadah, Ibn Jurayj and Ibn Zayd said, "This means that no one had this name before him." Ibn Jarir preferred this interpretation, may Allah have mercy upon him. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir-Abridged Volume 5, Surat Al-Isra', Verse 39 To the End of Surat Al-Mu'minun, abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam, Riyadh, Houston, New York, Lahore July 2000], p. 231)

Do notice that none of the Muslims cited by Ibn Kathir make the qualification that the Learner makes, namely that the meaning of S. 19:7 is that Allah never personally named anyone John apart from Zechariah's son.

Furthermore, the above Quranic statement that no one else was named John is actually a confusion of the more accurate biblical account in Luke. There we are told:

On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, "No! He is to be called John." They said to her, "There is no one among your relatives who has that name." Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone's astonishment he wrote, "His name is John." Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God. Luke 1:59-64

What was originally a statement indicating that none of John's relatives was ever given that name, is now twisted by the Quran to mean that no one else at any time was ever given the name John.

Even Syed Abu Ala' Maududi implicitly acknowledges the connection between Luke 1:61 and S. 19:7:

"... According to Luke: 'None of your kindred is called by this name' (Luke 1:61)" (Towards Understanding the Qur'an - Vol. V, Surahs 17-21, an English translation of Tafhim al-Qur'an by Zafar Ishaq, assisted by A.R. Kidwai [The Islamic Foundation (printed and bound in Great Britain by the Cromwell Press), rpt. 1999], p. 146 n. 5)

Finally, the explanation forwarded by the Learner is not just rejected by myself, but by other Muslims as well. M.S.M. Saifullah and his staff of writers have written an article claiming that the Arabic word Yahya has no connection with the Hebrew/Aramaic Yuhannan. Instead, the writers go out of their way in seeking to establish that Yahya is a completely unique name given to John, a name first found in the writings of the Mandaeans, a group believed to be the followers of John the Baptist. (See their article found here.)

Yet, the explanation given by Saifullah and Co. introduces another major problem for Muslims, a problem that we will be demonstrating shortly in our response to Saifullah, Lord willing. But suffice it to say that for now we are left wondering which explanation should we embrace. Seeing that neither the Learner nor Saifullah are infallible interpreters of the Quran, it seems that it is left to the reader to decide which fallible explanation of the Quranic problem one should embrace. To embrace one automatically cancels out the other. Hence, both can be wrong but both can't be right. Perhaps the Learner can offer additional evidence in support of his own interpretation of the Quran over against the one endorsed by Islamic Awareness.


... yet for a better understanding of the Qur'an, we should also see what exactly is the implication of the word 'samiyaa'. Generally, the commentators of the Qur'an have interpreted this word to mean: 'namesake'. Nevertheless, in my opinion, this interpretation is not correct. The word used in the verse in the Arabic language is "", which has clearly been used in Maryam 19: 65 to imply "a like", "an equal" etc. In Maryam 19: 65, the Qur'an says:

The Lord of the heavens and the earth and whatever lies between them. Thus, worship Him [alone] and remain steadfast on His worship. Do you know anyone equal to Him? [Then why should you associate partners with Him?]

The above verse, as well as the context of Maryam 19: 7, is a clear evidence of the fact that the word "" has been used in the verse to imply the uniqueness of John's person, not the uniqueness of his name. The Arabic dictionary, 'Lisaan al-Arab', while explaining the word, writes:

It is said that 'lum naj`al lahu min qablu samiyaa' implies 'an equal' or 'comparable'.

However, Mr. Shamoun is also critical of the implication of the verse, if the word 'samiyaa' is taken to imply 'an equal' or 'comparable'. He writes:

But even this won't work, since we discover that there is one exactly like John, namely Elijah. This is due to the fact that the Baptist came "in the spirit and power of Elijah," being the Elijah of Jesus' first coming. (Cf. Luke 1:17; Matthew 17:10-13)

Let us take a close look at the verses cited by Mr. Shamoun. Luke 1:16-17 says:

[Gabriel said:] And many of the children of Israel shall he (i.e. John) turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias (or Elijah), to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Matthew 17:10–13 says:

And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias (or Elijah) must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

The above verses do indeed point to the fact that John was the awaited Elijah, which also implies that he was (at least in some ways) like Elijah. Nevertheless, it may be of some interest for the readers to note that according to the same Bible, when John – i.e. Yahya (pbuh) – was himself asked by the Israelites whether he was the promised Elijah, he replied in the negative.

John 1: 19 – 23 reads as:

And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias [or Elijah]? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.

In view of the contradictory implication of the cited statements of the Gospels, Mr. Shamoun's contention (that Elijah was 'exactly' like John) requires substantiation on sounder grounds. This substantiation would become even more imperative in view of the fact that Jesus (pbuh) is himself reported in one of the Gospels to have said something quite similar in its implication to the Qur'anic statement (i.e. "Before this, we made no one comparable to him [i.e. John]"). Matthew 11: 11 reports Jesus (pbuh) as having said:

"Verily I say unto you, among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist"

I am sure, anyone can see that the implication of the above statement ascribed to Jesus (pbuh) is no different from what the Qur'an has said in the verse under consideration.


The Learner commits several fallacies here in trying to avoid the implications of my arguments. The Learner commits a categorical fallacy in trying to implicitly suggest that Jesus' statement that none born of women is greater than John somehow nullifies the fact that John and Elijah are equal or comparable. First, you can have two persons equal in one sense, but different in another sense. John and Elijah were equal in their prophetic ministry due to the fact that they both had a similar mission, having been assigned the honor of preparing the way for the Messiah. Yet, they were not equal in position. In fact, had the Learner read Jesus' statements from Matthew in context this is precisely the point Jesus goes on to make. Here is the context of this statement in Matthew 11:

"I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, HE IS THE ELIJAH WHO WAS TO COME. He who has ears, let him hear." Matthew 11:11-15

Jesus could say that John was Elijah while at the same time acknowledging that no one born of women was greater than John in position. That Jesus is referring to John's position becomes evident from what immediately follows:

yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Further examples demonstrating that one can be equal to someone in one sense, yet inferior to him in another sense can be seen from the following biblical citations:

Jesus like Moses

"Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you - even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. For Moses said, `The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.' Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, `Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed. 'When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.'" Acts 3:17-26

Here we discover that Jesus is the Prophet like Moses.

Jesus Superior to Moses

"Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God's house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God's house, testifying to what would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast." Hebrews 3:1-6

This passage shows that although equal in one sense, Jesus is superior to Moses by virtue of his position and filial relationship, being the eternal Son appointed as the head of the household of God.

Jesus Like Melchizedek

"This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means 'king of righteousness'; then also, 'king of Salem' means 'king of peace.' Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever." Hebrews 7:1-3

The author of Hebrews builds upon the mysterious qualities of Melchizedek (cf. Gen. 14:17-20) and ties that with Christ. Melchizedek is pictured as an eternal figure having no recorded birth, death or human descent.

These points have been deliberately omitted in order to present Melchizedek as an Old Testament type of Christ. The word resembling is the Greek term aphomoiomenes, which comes from aphomoioo. According to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament,

Aphomoioo. This verb means "to copy", rarely "to compare," and in the passive "to be or become like" or "make oneself out to be like." The only NT instance is in Heb. 7:3, which says that Melchizedek "is like" the Son of God. The point may be that the Son of God is the prototype, or that the OT text is taken to be a Messianic prophecy, i.e., a sign that points forward to Christ. (Gerhard Kittel & Gerhard Friedrich ed., Abridged in one volume by George W. Bromley [Grand Rapids, Mi., Eerdmans, 1985], p. 684)

Melchizedek typifies Jesus in that he is made to resemble the eternal aspect of Christ's being, a mere shadow of the One who was to come. Jesus is the reality of what was only typified in Melchizedek. The point that Hebrews is establishing is that Jesus is an eternal being, having no beginning and ending, and continues on as an eternal priest.

Jesus Superior to Melchizedek

"In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven... But about the Son he says, 'Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy. He also says, In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.'" Hebrews 1:1-3, 8-12

These examples are sufficient in demonstrating the error of the Learner's logic. You can have two parties equal in one sense, yet different in another sense.

Furthermore, Elijah is not the only one who is like John. According to other Muslim expositors, the term samiyya, "names sake", actually refers to John's unique birth. The following citations are taken from Saifullah's article mentioned above:

cAlî Ibn Abî Talhah narrated from Ibn cAbbâs that it means: No barren woman gave birth to someone like him before.

This also proves that Zakariyya was sterile[33] as was his wife [who was sterile from the beginning of her life] unlike Abraham and Sarah. The reason for their [Abraham and Sarah's] amazement at the glad tidings of Isaac was due to their old age and not to infertility. This is why Abraham said [in amazement]:

abashshartumûnî cala an massaniya al-kibaru fabima tubashshirûn,
i.e., Do ye give me glad tidings even though old age has seized me? Of what, then, is your good news? [verse 15:54]

even though had Ismâcîl 13 years earlier.

Likewise, his wife said:

ya waylata a'alidu wa ana cajûzun wa hadha bacshaykhan inna hadha lashay'un cajîb. Qalû atacjabîna min amrillahi rahmatullahî wa barakatuhû calaykum ahla al-bayti innahû hamîdun majîd,
i.e., She said: "Alas for me! shall I bear a child, seeing I am an old woman, and my husband here is an old man? That would indeed be a wonderful thing!". They said: "Dost thou wonder at Allah's decree? The grace of Allah and His blessings on you, o ye people of the house! For He is indeed worthy of all praise, full of all glory! [verses 11:72-73].[34]


Ahmad narrated the same report in Al-Zuhd from the way of cIkrimah. Ibn al-Mundhir and Ibn Abî Hâtim narrated that Ibn cAbbâs said concerning lam najcal lahû min qablu samîyyâ: "No barren woman gave birth to child like him".

Narrated Ahmad in Al-Zuhd and cAbd Ibn Humayd and Ibn al-Mundhir and Ibn Abî Hâtim that Sacîd Ibn Jubayr said concerning lam najcal lahû min qablu samîyyâ: He said: [samîyyâ means] shabîhan - someone like him. cAbd Ibn Humayd narrated a similar report from the way of cAta'. Al-Bukhârî narrated in his Tarîkh from Yahyâ Ibn Khallâd al-Zarqî that when he [Yahyâ] was born, he was brought to the Prophet(P) who fed him a chewed date and said: "I shall give him a name that was never given [to anyone] before: Yahyâ Ibn Zakariyya" and so he called him Yahyâ.[36]

From the above discussion, we see that scholars hold two opinions concerning the verse lam najcal lahû min qablu samîyyâ:

1. Samiyy, means shabîhan or mithlan, i.e., someone like him. The verse is interpreted to mean that the birth of Yah(P) was unlike the birth of others, as he was born to an aged father and a barren mother.

2. No one prior to the birth of Yah(P) was ever given that name by God.

Al-Tabarî provides reports for both interpretations, but opines that the latter seems to be more correct. Al-Qurtubî mentions both opinions but did not express a preference. And Ibn Kathîr, who cites al-Tabarî's opinion (see above), also does not express any preference. Finally,

Ibn Abbâs said: None before him was given the name Yah. It was also said: It means none before him was equivalent to him or like him. It was also said: He was called Yahyâ because he "haya" lived with knowledge and wisdom. With regard to Almighty's speech: hal taclamu lahu samîyyâ, i.e., "knowest thou of any who [qualifies to be] His samiyy?" meaning "nadhîr" [i.e., equivalent] who deserves the same name.

Do notice that even Ibn Abbas agrees with me that S. 19:7 indicates that none was ever given the name John, not that Allah gave no one else that name.

According to Saifullah and Co. John's name implies that his birth was unlike the birth of others. Yet, we find that both the Holy Bible and the Quran agree that Isaac's birth is exactly like John's.

The Holy Bible

"Now Sarai was barren; she had no children." Genesis 11:30

"Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; so she said to Abram, 'The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.' Abram agreed to what Sarai said." Genesis 16:1-2

"God also said to Abraham, 'As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.' Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, 'Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?' And Abraham said to God, 'If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!' Then God said, 'Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.'" Genesis 17:15-21

"'Where is your wife Sarah?' they asked him. 'There, in the tent,' he said. Then the LORD said, 'I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.' Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, 'After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?' Then the LORD said to Abraham, 'Why did Sarah laugh and say, "Will I really have a child, now that I am old?" Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son. Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, 'I did not laugh.' But he said, 'Yes, you did laugh.'" Genesis 18:9-15

"Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead - since he was about a hundred years old - and that Sarah's womb was also dead." Romans 4:19

"By faith Abraham, even though he was past age - and Sarah herself was barren - was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore." Hebrews 11:11-12

"In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years." Luke 1:5-7

"Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month." Luke 1:36

The Quran

There came Our Messengers to Abraham with glad tidings. They said, "Peace!" He answered, "Peace!" and hastened to entertain them with a roasted calf. But when he saw their hands not reaching towards the (meal), he felt some mistrust of them, and conceived a fear of them. They said: "Fear not: We have been sent against the people of Lüt." And his wife was standing (there), and she laughed: But We gave her glad tidings of Isaac, and after him, of Jacob. She said: Alas for me! shall I bear a child, seeing I am an old woman, and my husband here is an old man? That would indeed be a wonderful thing!" They said: "Dost thou wonder at Allah's decree? The grace of Allah and His blessings on you, o ye people of the house! for He is indeed worthy of all praise, full of all glory! S. 11:69-73

There did Zakariya pray to his Lord, saying: "O my Lord! Grant unto me from Thee a progeny that is pure: for Thou art He that heareth prayer!" While he was standing in prayer in the chamber, the angels called unto him: "Allah doth give thee glad tidings of Yahyá, (John) witnessing the truth of a Word from Allah, and (be besides) noble, chaste, and a prophet,- of the (goodly) company of the righteous." He said: "O my Lord! How shall I have a son, seeing I am very old, and my wife is barren?" "Thus," was the answer, "Doth Allah accomplish what He willeth." He said: "O my Lord! Give me a Sign!" "Thy Sign," was the answer, "Shall be that thou shalt speak to no man for three days but with signals. Then celebrate the praises of thy Lord again and again, and glorify Him in the evening and in the morning." S. 3:38-41

(This is) a mention of the Mercy of thy Lord to His servant Zakariya. Behold! he cried to his Lord in secret, Praying: "O my Lord! infirm indeed are my bones, and the hair of my head doth glisten with gray: but never am I unblest, O my Lord, in my prayer to Thee! Now I fear (what) my relatives (and colleagues) (will do) after me: but my wife is barren: so give me an heir as from Thyself,- (One that) will (truly) inherit me, and inherit the posterity of Jacob; and make him, O my Lord! one with whom Thou art well-pleased!" (His prayer was answered): "O Zakariya! We give thee good news of a son: His name shall be Yahyá: (John) on none by that name have We conferred distinction before." He said: "O my Lord! How shall I have a son, when my wife is barren and I have grown quite decrepit from old age?" He said: "So (it will be) thy Lord saith, 'That is easy for Me: I did indeed create thee before, when thou hadst been nothing!'" (Zakariya) said: "O my Lord! give me a Sign." "Thy Sign," was the answer, "Shall be that thou shalt speak to no man for three nights, although thou art not dumb." So Zakariya came out to his people from him chamber. He told them by signs to celebrate Allah's praises in the morning and in the evening. S. 19:2-11

And (remember) Zakariya, when he cried to his Lord: "O my Lord! leave me not without offspring, though Thou art the best of inheritors." So We listened to him: and We granted him John: WE CURED HIS WIFE'S (BARRENNESS) FOR HIM. These (three) were ever quick in doing in good works; they used to call on Us with yearning and awe, and humble themselves before Us. S. 21:89-90

These passages also serve to debunk the claim made by Islamic Awareness that Zechariah was sterile since nowhere does the Holy Bible or the Quran make mention of this fact. Instead, we find that it was Elizabeth who was barren and that Zechariah, much like Abraham, was past the age of having children.

Therefore, we find that there are actually two that are like John the Baptist, namely Isaac and Elijah.

The second error made by the Learner is the claim that John cannot be like Elijah since John clearly denies that he is Elijah. The dilemma here is one that the Learner must posit in order to avoid the brunt of my criticisms, since to admit that John is like Elijah proves that the Quran is in error.

What the Learner seemingly failed to understand is that John was denying that he was the same person as Elijah, a sort of Elijah reincarnated. Yet, Jesus was not claiming that John was Elijah reincarnated. Rather, Jesus was simply claiming that John is a type of Elijah, doing what Elijah is supposed to do when Christ returns. This is seen from the following citation:

"After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and ELIJAH, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, 'Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters - one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah'... As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, 'Don't tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.' The disciples asked him, 'Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?' Jesus replied, 'To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.' Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist." Matthew 17:1-4, 9-13

Here Elijah himself appears with Moses on the mount and talks with Jesus. Jesus also affirms that this same Elijah will come and restore all things. Jesus then proceeds to identify John the Baptist as the Elijah of Christ's first coming. Hence, John is not the actual Elijah, but rather is an Elijah-type doing the exact same work that the actual Elijah will do before the Lord's return. This is precisely what the angel announced to Zechariah upon the birth of his son:

But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous - to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." Luke 1:13-17

Notice the angel's words that John is coming in the spirit and power of Elijah, not that John is actually Elijah himself.

In light of the preceding factors, we must conclude that the Learner has not adequately dealt with our objections and hence the Quranic error remains.


4- Sacrifices Commanded Upon All

The Qur'an in Al-Hajj 22: 34 says: To every people did We Appoint rites (of sacrifice)...

Mr. Shamoun says: Christians have never been commanded to offer sacrifices.

If Mr. Shamoun's statement implies his acknowledgement of the fact that the Israelites were, in fact, commanded to offer sacrifices, it is enough to establish that Jesus (pbuh) commanded his followers to do so too. Matthew 5: 17 says:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.


We are actually disappointed to see Jesus' statements wrenched out of their immediate context since Jesus was not commenting on sacrifices as something binding upon his disciples. Here is our response to this very issue taken from another one of our articles:

Presumably, the authors think that by quoting Jesus' statement on fulfilling the Law/Prophets and then demonstrating Jesus' abrogation of that very Law/Prophets will establish the case that the Holy Bible also teaches the Quranic concept of abrogation.

The authors have actually misunderstood Jesus' point in fulfilling the Law/Prophets. Fulfillment did not just entail Christ's perfect observance to the precepts of the Law, but also included the spiritual completion and perfection that Jesus gives to it. This is precisely what Jesus goes on to do in the verses that immediately follow. (cf. Matthew 5:21-48)

God's design was that the Law/Prophets would find their true completion and perfection in the Messiah. Hence, Jesus' meaning was not that he had come to fulfill in the sense that he came to obey, which he certainly did. Rather, it entailed fulfillment in the sense of both interpreting and exegeting the Law, as well as fulfilling the predictions it made about the coming Messiah:

"Then he said to them, 'These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you- that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled." Luke 24:44

"You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life." John 5:39-40

"Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believed me. For he wrote about me." John 5:45-46

"For being ignorant of the righteousness that God ascribes (which makes one acceptable to Him in word, thought and deed), and seeking to establish a righteousness (a means of salvation) of their own, they did not obey or submit themselves to God's righteousness. For Christ is the end of the Law - the limit at which it ceases to be, for the Law leads up to Him Who is the fulfillment of its types, and in Him the purpose in which it was designed to accomplish is fulfilled.- That is, the purpose of the Law is fulfilled in Him- as the means of righteousness (right relationship to God) for everyone who trusts in and adheres to and relies on Him." Romans 10:3-4 Amplified Bible

In fact, the OT states that it is the Law of the Messiah in which the nations shall trust:

"Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruise reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope." Isaiah 42:1-4

Hence, it is the Law as interpreted by Christ that is binding on all believers. This is the sense in which Jesus fulfills the Law, in bringing it to its desired goal. In order for Christ to bring the Law to its spiritual perfection, it became necessary for him to both reinterpret and reinforce certain aspects of it, purifying it from the false interpretation that had evolved around it by the religious sects of his day.

Messianic Jew, David H. Stern, elaborates:

"It is true that Yeshua (Jesus) kept the Torah perfectly and fulfilled predictions of the Prophets, but that is not the point here. Yeshua did not come to abolish but 'to make full' (plerosai) the meaning of what the Torah and the ethical demands of the Prophets require. Thus he came to complete our understanding of the Torah and the Prophets, so that we can try to more effectively be and do what they say to be and do... The remainder of chapter 5 gives six specific cases in which Yeshua explains the fuller spiritual meaning of points in the Jewish Law. In fact, this verse states the theme and agenda of the entire Sermon on the Mount, in which Yeshua completes, makes fuller, the understanding of his talmidim (students) concerning the Torah and the Prophets, so that they can more fully express what being God's people is all about." (Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary [Clarksville, Maryland; Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996], pp. 25-26)

Therefore, the Learner's use of this passage to support the Quranic error that all believers were commanded to give sacrifices does not hold any weight.


And then, talking about offering sacrifices to God, Jesus (pbuh) is reported to have said:

So, when you are offering your gift[3] at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.

It should be clear from the above references that even though "Christianity" does not ascribe to sacrifice, yet Jesus (pbuh) did not abolish it.


We have already commented on the Learner's error in using Matthew 5 as support for the mistake in the Quran.

The other error that the Learner commits is an anachronistic or chronological fallacy. Jesus' statements were made while the Old Covenant regulations were still binding. It wasn't until Jesus' death that the New Covenant was inaugurated, canceling out the Old Covenant regulations:

"For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance - now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living." Hebrews 9:15-17

It wasn't until Christ's resurrection and ascension into heaven that the body of believers known as Christians came into being:

So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven. Acts 1:6-11

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language... When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off - for all whom the Lord our God will call." With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:1-6, 37-47

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was an indication that the Church was born since it is only through the Holy Spirit that one becomes united to Christ's body, that is the Church:

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body - whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free - and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 1 Corinthians 12:12-14

And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. Colossians 1:18

Therefore, after the birth of the Church Gentiles who became believers were loosed from any obligation to offer animal sacrifices in order to make atonement of their sins since Jesus is the consummation of such sacrifices:

For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: 'You are a priest forever.'" Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need - one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. Hebrews 7:14-28

The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man. Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: "See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain." But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises. For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said: "The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." By calling this covenant new, he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear. Hebrews 8:1-13

"For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him." Hebrews 9:24-28

"The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming - not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: 'Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, "Here I am - it is written about me in the scroll - I have come to do your will, O God."' First he said, 'Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (although the law required them to be made). Then he said, 'Here I am, I have come to do your will.' He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." Hebrews 10:1-14

Hence, the sacrifice of Christians is spiritual in nature:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1

As you come to him, the living Stone - rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him - you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:4-5

Jewish believers, on the other hand, would continue to observe many aspects of the Torah which Gentiles were not required to, such as offering sacrifices (cf. Acts 18:18; 21:20-26; 24:17). However, in light of the revelation of Jesus these Jewish Christians became aware that such sacrifices were not salvific, that they did not take away sins, but served as a shadow and reminder of Christ's once and for all sacrifice.

Thus, as it stands the Quran is clearly wrong that God commanded ALL people to offer sacrifices, since neither Jesus nor his Jewish followers commanded that Gentile converts should observe such sacrifices but actually freed them from that obligation.

Hence, we conclude with the Learner's own words slightly modified:

It should be clear from the above references that the reason why "Christianity" does not ascribe to sacrifice is because the death of Jesus and the inauguration of the New Covenant abolished it.

In light of the preceding factors, we find that the Quran is again in gross error.


5- Queen of Sheba and Sun Worship

The Qur'an has made reference to the sun worship of the Queen of Sheba. Mr. Shamoun contends that this reference of the Qur'an is incorrect. According to Mr. Shamoun, archeology has proven this to be incorrect, according to which, moon, not the sun, was worshipped by the referred people. In this respect, Mr. Shamoun has referred to the following URL:

However, a close look at the referred URL shows that it does not support the 'error' claim of Mr. Shamoun. The archeological evidence given on the referred page only suggests that the referred people worshipped the moon. Obviously, the prevalence of moon worship does not, by itself, refute that of sun worship. We know that both the sun and the moon have generally been common objects of worship in people who worshipped celestial bodies.


No one is denying that the people of Sheba worshiped the sun. But rather, that the primary deity worshiped during that time was the moon. Hence, it would have been more accurate for the Quran to mention this fact since the impression given is that the sun was the primary deity worshiped. Yet, I agree with the Learner's assessment that this in itself does not prove conclusively that the Quran is mistaken at this point.


It may be mentioned here that not only the Qur'an but also the Jewish Encyclopedia and the Kebra Negast[4] inform us that the Queen of Sheba and her people worshipped the sun.

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia:

... Solomon, accordingly, caused a letter to be tied to the hoopoe's wing, which the bird delivered to the queen toward the evening as she was going out to make her devotions to the sun. (IX, 443)

In chapter 27 of the Kebra Negast, the Queen tells Solomon:

"We worship the sun...for he cooketh our food, and moreoever he illumineth the darkness, and removeth fear; we call him "our King," and we call him "our Creator....And there are others among our subjects.... some worship stones, and some worship trees, and some worship carved figures, and some worship images of gold and silver."[5]


The only problem with the Learner's appeal to the above Jewish references is that these sources are not primary documents. Rather, as in the case of Kebra Negest, the Jewish story is nothing more than a Talmudic fable written centuries after the fact. In fact, this introduces another problem namely that the Quranic story about the Queen of Sheba is nothing more than a rehashing of an older and yet even more unreliable Jewish fable. (See these articles: [1], [2], [3], [4].)

Hence, in attempting to circumvent one problem, the Learner inadvertently introduces another in its place.


6- Fables of History

The Qur'an has informed us that:

  • Solomon's armies consisted of men as well as jinn;
  • Solomon could understand the communication of animals and birds (including ants);
  • God subjected the wind to Solomon; it blew according to his needs[6].

Mr. Shamoun has termed these blessings of God on Solomon to be 'Fables of History'. I really don't think this deserves a response. In fact, I think it is for Mr. Shamoun to help us understand why, in his opinion, the miracles – God's special gifts – ascribed to Jesus (pbuh), Moses (pbuh) etc. are not 'fables', while these ascribed to Solomon are? Is it merely because of the fact that they have been mentioned in the 'credible' Bible? Why does Mr. Shamoun think that the same God, who had the power to bless Jesus (pbuh) with bringing the dead back to life and to walk on water etc. etc. cannot bless Solomon with these – as well as any other – powers?

I hope this helps. In case any aspect of question remains unanswered, please feel free in writing back to me at your own convenience.

May God guidance to the path of his liking.


As I mentioned previously, my point was not to attack the Quran per se but rather to attack a certain methodology employed by Muslim apologists. For instance, in one article Shabir Ally gives the following advice to Muslim dai'ees:

Confessions of the New American Bible

The New American Bible is an official Christian Bible. Yet it contains many points of interest and value to the Muslim caller to Islam. Every caller who intends to use the Bible for Dawah should get a copy of this Bible. Get especially (if you can) the St. Joseph Medium Size Edition.
The introduction to this Bible includes an article entitled: How to Read Your Bible. This article makes a lot of valuable points. I reproduce for your edification some of the main points offered in that introduction. Everything listed in the points below is directly asserted in the article itself or implied therein. I have only summarized. I did not improvise. Where I use my own words I still represent the ideas of the authors. Often, you will notice the presence of quotations marks. These mark off the included words as the words actually used by the editors of the New American Bible, St. Joseph Medium Size Edition. The article from which the points are drawn is found on pages 17 to 35 of the introduction. Consider these points; use them politely and wisely.

What the Scholars Confess About the Bible in General

The Bible is not necessarily the most read book or the best understood book.
The Bible was inspired by God. But "This does not mean that God dictated His message as a businessman dictates a letter to a secretary. God takes the author as he is and leaves him free to choose his own means of communication."
"Some authors chose existing folk tales and even beast fables to bring out their point."

(Source: this article)

Shabir thinks that by appealing to the liberal wing of Christianity, scholars that deny inspiration and revelation as well as the supernatural, he can then build a case against Christianity.

My use of Muhammad Asad was to illustrate the fact that both Muslims and Christians have so-called scholars that attack the integrity of their respective scriptures. Therefore, the problem the Learner has is not with me but rather with a recognized Muslim authority, Muhammad Asad and his attacks on Quranic stories that he claimed were nothing more than legends and myths.

In conclusion, we would like to say that the Learner, along with the staff at Islamic Awareness and Akbarally Meherally, are perhaps the best representatives of Islam out there today. For the most part, the Learner does a tremendous job in articulating and defending Quranic concepts and passages. I for one have come to enjoy their explanations and therefore feel that they have helped enlightened me in my pursuit of an accurate understanding of Islam.

Keep up the great work Moiz Amjad and Co. You truly are a service and credit to Islam.

Your Brother in Humanity,

Sam Shamoun

In the service of our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ forever and ever. Amen. Come Lord Jesus. We love you always.

Moiz Amjad has responded again to this article. Find his response and my answer here.

Responses to the Learner
Articles by Sam Shamoun
Answering Islam Home Page