[A], [B], [C]
This is the second part of my rebuttal to Bravo's "response". Bravo states:
Since this missionary completely agreed with the observations made in the Encyclopedia Of Islam, never mind the long road he took, he had to somehow unleash his anger. In order to unleash his anger he decides to present us certain citations against the style of the Quran, which is accepted by all those who speak Arabic as extremely eloquent.
Unless the Terrorist Bravo is omnipresent and/or omniscient, I really cannot see how he could know what my emotional state was like when I wrote my rebuttal. Since I was far from being angry, it becomes pretty apparent that Bravo is trying to take cheap shots. Yet, as we shall see his cheap shots won't save him from refuting the fact that the Quran contains grammatical mistakes.
The missionary says:
Let us now use Bravo's own criticism of the Holy Bible against the Quran and see what the outcome would be. According to both Arabic grammarians and Islamic scholars the Quran contains many grammatical errors.
Please carefully note what this missionary is saying.He is talking about "Arabic grammarians and Islamic scholars" and claims to quote them. Yet he does not quote to us a single "Arabic grammarian" or anyone who has mastery over the Arabic language, let alone an "Islamic scholar"! The very first person which missionary Sam quotes is described to us as an "Iranian Scholar Ali Dashti in his book..." Ali Dashti is not an "Arabic grammarian", he is an IRANIAN (PERSIAN) as Sam himself states, Ali Dashti is not an Arabic speaker and is no authority on this topic, furthermore, he is not even a scholar of the Quran! Ali Dasthi was simply a newspaper editor! A critique of his ridiculous book, which Sam blindly uses, is to be found here:
Please do note what I said since this proves that Bravo cannot read carefully, or worse still, cannot grasp meaning of sentences. Note that I said ARABIC grammarians, not ARAB grammarians. Note also that I said ISLAMIC scholars, not MUSLIM scholars. What is the difference? Well an Arabic grammarian is one who knows Arabic grammar without implying that the person is an Arab. An Islamic Scholar is one who is considered a scholar in the field of Islam who may or may not be a Muslim. That Bravo highlights the fact that I referred to Ali Dashti as an Iranian should have clued him in on what the terms "Arabic grammarians" and "Islamic Scholars" meant. But as I already indicated I gave Bravo too much credit. I thought that he would be able to understand and discern the meaning of words in their respective contexts. But I was wrong.
Second, if being an Arab is a prerequisite for knowing Arabic grammar then what does Bravo do with Abdullah Yusuf Ali, M.M. Pickthall, Muhammad Asad and A.J. Arberry whom Bravo will later quote? All these men translated the Quran into English and yet they were not Arabs! If Bravo is consistent with his critique of Dashti, then he must reject the translations of these men since they were not Arabs and therefore not qualified in understanding and translating the Quran. The fallacy of Bravo's reasoning should be apparent for all to see since not all Arabs are experts in Arabic grammar, nor are they all Arabs who are experts in Arabic grammar.
Third, by commenting on Dashti's background Bravo is seeking to "poison the well", attacking the source as a basis for rejecting the assertions made. He is therefore guilty of the fallacy of circumstantial ad hominem and of a genetic fallacy. Dashti may be an Iranian newspaper reporter, but this tells us nothing of his ability or inability to speak about the Quran. One must therefore examine his arguments to see if they carry any weight, and not simply dismiss them due to his background. As I shall shortly demonstrate, Muslim scholars support Dashti's claims.
However, Bravo seems to be insufficiently informed. Let me quote from the "Note on the Author" (Ali Dashi) by his English translator of 23 Years:
Born in 1896 in a village of Dashtestan, ..., Ali Dashti was the son of Shaykh Abd ol-Hosayn Dashtestani. At a young age he was taken by his father to Karbala in Iraq, which then belonged to the Ottoman empire. Karbala ... and Najaf ... have colleges (madrasas) where Shi'ite clergy (olama) are trained and theological studies persued. Despite the unsettled conditions of the First World War, Ali Dashti received a full training in these madrasas and acquired a thorough knowledge of Islamic theology and history, logic, rhetoric, and Arabic and Persian grammar and classical literature. After his return from Iraq to Iran in 1918, however, he decided against a clerical career. ... 1948, when he was appointed ambassador to Egypt and Lebanon. He was briefly minister of foreign affairs in the cabinet of Hosayn Ala, ...
That sounds already a bit different from just "newspaper editor". Yes, he was also a newspaper editor for some time. However, he grew up in Iraq where the language is Arabic. He received a full Islamic training and had all the prerequisites to become an Islamic leader. He was appointed ambassador to Arabic speaking countries and usually one prerequisite for ambassadors is that they are fluent in the language of the country they are appointed to. Furthermore, he was elected to the Iranian Parliament for several terms and a leading figure there. He was no insignificant figure in Iranian society and well educated in Islamics, despite Bravo's slurs.
Fourth, in his zeal to discredit Dashti Bravo seemingly overlooked what Dashti wrote. Had he read the citations carefully Bravo would have seen that Dashti wasn't giving his personal opinions. Rather, Dashti appealed to Muslim writers and grammarians to support his claims. Here are the citations again, this time with added emphasis:
"Among THE MOSLEM SCHOLARS OF THE EARLY PERIOD, before bigotry and hyperbole prevailed, were some such as EBRAHIM ON-NAZZAM WHO OPENLY ACKNOWLEDGED that the arrangement and syntax of the Qor'an ARE NOT MIRACULOUS and that work of equal or greater value COULD BE PRODUCED by other God-fearing persons ...
Pupils and later admirers of on-Nazzam, such as Ebn Hazm and ol-Khayyat, wrote in his defence, and several other leading exponents of the Mo'tazelite school shared his opinion. They saw no conflict between the theses of on-Nazzam and the statements in the Qor'an. One of their arguments is that the Qor'an is miraculous because God deprived the Prophet Mohammad's contemporaries of ability to produce the like of it; in other times and places the production of phrases resembling Qor'anic verses IS POSSIBLE AND INDEED EASY.
It is widely held that the blind Syrian poet Abu'l-'Ala ol-Ma'arri (368/979-450/1058) wrote his Ketab ol-fosul wa' l-ghayat, of which a part survives, in imitation of the Qor'an. (p. 48)
"The Qor'an contains sentences which are incomplete and not fully intelligible without the aid of commentaries; foreign words, unfamiliar Arabic words, and words used with other than the normal meaning; adjectives and verbs inflected without observance of the concords of gender and number; illogically and ungrammatically applied pronouns which sometimes have no referent; and predicates which in rhymed passages are often remote from the subjects. These and other such aberrations in the language have given scope to critics who deny the Qor'an's eloquence. THE PROBLEM ALSO OCCUPIED THE MINDS OF DEVOUT MOSLEMS. It forced the commentators to search for explanations and was probably one of the causes of disagreement over readings." (pp. 48-49)
The views on the Qor'an held by Ebrahim on-Nazzam have been already mentioned, and it must be added that THEY WERE NOT HIS ALONE, but were also held by other scholars of the Mo'tazelite school such as Hesham b. 'Amr pl-Fuwati (d. ca. 218/833) and 'Abbad b. Solayman (d. ca. 250/864). ALL WERE DEVOUT BELIEVERS. They saw no inconsistency between their views and their faith.
The great and penetrating Arab thinker Abu'l-'Ala ol-Ma'arri considered some of his own writings ON A PAR WITH THE QOR'AN. (p. 50)
"To sum up, more than one hundred Qor'anic aberrations from the normal rules and structure of Arabic have been noted. Needless to say, THE COMMENTATORS STROVE TO FIND EXPLANATIONS AND JUSTIFICATIONS FOR THESE IRREGULARITIES. Among them was the great commentator and philologist MAHMUD OZ-ZAMAKHSHARI (467/1075-538/1144), of whom a Moorish author wrote: This grammar-obsessed pedant has committed a shocking error. Our task IS NOT TO MAKE THE READINGS CONFORM TO ARABIC GRAMMAR, but to take the whole of the Qor'an as it is AND MAKE THE ARABIC GRAMMAR CONFORM TO THE QOR'AN."
Up to a point this argument is justifiable. A nation's great speakers and writers respect the rules of its language in so far as they avoid modes of expression which are not generally understood and popularly accepted, though they may occasionally find themselves obliged to take liberties. Among the pre-Islamic Arabs, rhetoric and poetry WERE WELL DEVELOPED and grammatical conventions WERE ALREADY ESTABLISHED. The Qor'an, being in the belief of Moslems superior to all previous products of the rhetorical genius, must contain the fewest irregularities.
Yet the Moorish author's censure of Zamakhshari is open to criticism on the ground that it reverses the usual argument. This is that the Qor'an is God's word because it has a sublime eloquence which no human being can match, and that the man who uttered it was therefore a prophet. The Moorish author maintained that the Qor'an is faultless because it is God's word and that the problem of the grammatical errors in it MUST BE SOLVED BY CHANGING THE RULES OF ARABIC GRAMMAR. In other words, while most Moslems answer deniers by citing the Qor'an's eloquence as proof of Mohammad's prophethood, the Moorish author, having taken the Qor'an's divine origin and Mohammad's prophethood for granted, held all discussion of the Qor'an's wording and contents to be inadmissible. (pp. 50-51)
It is clear that Dashti was dependent upon Muslim sources for his claims. Interestingly, as Dashti himself noted, Ebrahim On-Nazzim wasn't the only one who claimed that the Quran's arrangement and syntax are not miraculous. There were other Muslims that agreed with him, as the following sources confirm:
Ebrahim on-Nazzam (second/eighth century) believed the Quran is not miraculous because of its style (and that work of equal or greater value could be produced by other God-fearing humans) but because it correctly predicted the events which actually occurred. For this he was condemned by Qohar al-Baghdadi (fourth/eleventh century). Nazzam was later defended by other Mutazzalite scholars who did not see any contradiction between this belief and the Quran. Other Mutazzalite scholars, Amr al-Fuwati (d 218/833) and Abbad b Solayman (d 250/864) held a similar view. (Source)
T.P. Hughes writes:
... The Qur'an is, however, generally held to be a standing miracle, indeed, the one miracle which bears witness to the truth of Muhammad's mission, an assumption based on the Prophet's own statements in the Qur'an (Surah x. 39, xi. 16, liii. 34), where he calls upon the people who charge him with having invented it to procure a single chapter like it. But the Mu'tazalites have asserted that THERE IS NOTHING MIRACULOUS IN ITS STYLE AND COMPOSITION (vide Sharhu'l-Muwaqif) ... (Hughes, Dictionary of Islam [Kazi Publications, Inc. (USA) 3023-27 West Belmont Ave., Chicago Il. 60618], p. 521; bold and capital emphasis mine)
Muslim author Farid Esack admits:
... The apparent unanimity around the doctrine of uniqueness is not always well-founded in early Qur'anic scholarship and what exactly formed the core or basis of its inimitability was never really resolved ... Some Mu'tazilite scholars, the pioneers of scholastic theology in Islam, argued that the Qur'an was not unique by itself but that any actual attempt to imitate it is rendered futile by God. This concept of deflection, sarfa (lit. "turning away"), described by Wansbrough as a "slightly unrealistic" and "unsatisfactory" argument "whose very terms were self-defeating" (1977, 80), was rejected by the majority consensus which insisted that the intrinsic linguistic, stylistic, and meaning supremacy of the Qur'an was an inseparable component of the idea of uniqueness. Dissent, however, loomed for a long while to come. 'Ali ibn Hazm (d. 1064), the famous Spanish-Arab theologian, for example, refused to acknowledge the aesthetic qualities of the Qur'an as proof of its uniqueness and denied that the word of God could in any way be compared to human speech (Ibn Hazm, n.d., 3:15ff.), while 'Abd al-Malik al-Juwayni (d. 1085), who served as an iman of both the sacred mosques in Mecca and Medina and was a teacher of Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, arguably the most acclaimed Islamic scholar since the medieval period, refused to recognize its unqualified aesthetic superiority altogether (al-Juwayni, 1948, 54-55). (The Qur'an A Short Introduction, Oneworld Publications, Oxford 2002, pp. 103-104; bold emphasis mine)
Furthermore, Dashti's quote of the Moorish Muslim who claimed that Muslims make Arabic grammar conform to the Quran, and not the other way around, is sadly true. Muslims had to invent rules and spread lies in order to save the Quran from its grammatical mistakes. I will later provide a link that gives documentation from Islamic sources that this is precisely what Muslims did.
Bravo now tries to appeal to Jeremiah McAuliffe in order to discredit Dashti, as if Jeremiah's comments provide any real response:
Ali Dashti's "23 Years": A Review byJeremiah McAuliffe
Ali Dashti is described as a "Marxist-Leninist thinker" in this excellent review. To quote Dr. Jeremiah:
He cites-- so familiar to us -- the idea that at times the Qur'anic text is not grammatical, unfamiliar words are used, and other "aberrations of language." Aside from the fact that he does not explore the actual Muslim literature on the Qur'anic textual form, he completely ignores the evidence of the profound impact the language had on Muhammad's contemporaries -- reflected in the Qur'an itself as accusations of pellbinding words -- and as attested to by Arabic-knowing Muslims across time and cultures. What Dashti -- in a way indicative of a banal lack of imagination -- doesn't recognize is that the Qur'an is a *new* and *unique* form of language use. Oddly, he DOES say this "... the Qor'an is indeed unique and wonderful. There was no precedent for it...." So, he says it, but doesn't really understand what he is saying!
and finally, Dr. Jeremiah says:
I have to pray he declared shahada before he died, and his sins of scholarship be forgiven. But the book is lousy. Sorry.
Bravo was so enthusiastic to find somebody / anybody who has a critical opinion about Dashti that he completely forgot to ask whether Jeremiah McAuliffe has any qualifications to evaluate Dashti's writings. Jeremiah McAuliffe is a recent American convert to Islam who does not speak Arabic, who has no education in Islamic studies, and who has not made himself a name as a literary critic anywhere. Ali Dashti knew Arabic very well, had a full Islamic training and is one of the foremost names in Iran as a literary critic and expert of classical literature. It is obvious that Jeremiah - being a convert to Islam - would not like Dashti's conclusions. Certainly, everyone is entitled to have an opinion, and even to publish that opinion on the internet, but why should his opinion be taken seriously? It is Bravo who emphasized the importance of knowing Arabic and of attaining scholarship in Islam. Dashti meets these requirements. McAuliffe doesn't. But McAuliffe happens to think that Dashti's book is lousy, and therefore his opinion is the final argument (never mind that this opinion is not supported by any argument of substance)!
Jeremiah tries to distract his readers by appealing to the Quran's impact as a means of refuting Dashti's claim that the Quran contains grammatical aberrations. It seems to have never dawned on either Jeremiah or Bravo that the Quran's impact on its audience doesn't prove that it contains no grammatical mistakes. The Quran can have an impact -- just like many powerful orators today have an impact -- without having to be grammatically perfect in every statement and sentence they speak.
Interestingly, the Quran wasn't the only thing impacting people. The Muslim traditions claim that certain men mesmerized the Muslims by their eloquence:
Narrated Ibn 'Umar:
Two men came from the east and delivered speeches, and the Prophet said, "Some eloquent speech has the influence OF MAGIC (e.g., some people refuse to do something and then a good eloquent speaker addresses them and then they agree to do that very thing after his speech)." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 76)
Narrated Abdullah bin Umar:
Two men came from the East and addressed the people who wondered at their eloquent speeches. On that Allah's Apostle said, "Some eloquent speech IS AS EFFECTIVE AS MAGIC." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 71, Number 662)
Malik related to me from Zayd ibn Aslam that Abdullah ibn Umar said, "Two men from the east stood up and spoke, AND PEOPLE WERE AMAZED AT THEIR ELOQUENCE. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, Some eloquence IS SORCERY, or he said, Part of eloquence is sorcery." (Malik's Muwatta, Book 56, Number 56.3.7)
The claim that in eloquence there is magic or sorcery is reiterated in the following traditions:
Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas:
A desert Arab came to the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) and began to speak. Thereupon the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) said: In eloquence there is magic and in poetry there is wisdom. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 41, Number 4993)
Narrated Buraydah ibn al-Hasib:
I heard the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) say: In eloquence there is magic, in knowledge ignorance, in poetry wisdom, and in speech heaviness.
Sa'sa'ah ibn Suhan said: The Prophet of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) spoke the truth. His statement "In eloquence there is magic" means: (For example), there is a right due from a man who is more eloquent in reasoning than the man who is demanding his right. He (the defendant) charms the people by his speech and takes away his right. His statement "In knowledge there is ignorance" means: A scholar brings to his knowledge what he does not know, and thus he becomes ignorant of that. His statement "In poetry there is wisdom" means: These are the sermons and examples by which people receive admonition. His statement "In speech there is heaviness" means: That you present your speech and your talk to a man who is not capable of understanding it, and who does not want it. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 41, Number 4994)
Therefore, using Muhammad's own criteria we are left to conclude that the Quran's eloquence only proves that it has magical powers. It does not prove that it is divine in origin.
Muhammad himself came under the effects of magic:
Once the Prophet was bewitched so that he began to imagine that he had done a thing which in fact he had not done. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 53, Number 400)
If it is possible for Muhammad to be effected by magic, then Bravo must face the music and admit that it is also possible that Satan deceived Muhammad. The Holy Bible states that Satan appears as an Angel in order to deceive mankind:
"For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve." 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
From the Christian perspective this sufficiently accounts for the Quran's eloquence and impact.
Furthermore, Dashti is not alone in claiming that the Quran contains unfamiliar words. There are Muslims who agree with him. The following list of Quranic words along with Ibn Kathir's comments highlight this point:
Kalalah - S. 4:12
Ibn Kathir notes:
The Meaning of Kalalah
Allah said ...
<If the man or woman whose inheritance is in question was left in Kalalah.>
Kalalah is a derivative of Iklil; the crown that surrounds the head. The meaning of Kalalah in this Ayah is that the person's heirs come from other than the first degree of relative. Ash-Sha'bi reported that when Abu Bakr Siddiq was asked about the meaning of Kalalah, he said, "I will say MY OWN OPINION ABOUT IT, and IF IT IS CORRECT, then this correctness is from Allah. However, if my opinion IS WRONG, it will be my error and because of the evil efforts of Shaytan, and Allah and His Messenger have nothing to do with it. Kalalah refers to the man who has neither descendants nor ascendants." When Umar became the Khalifah, he said, "I HESITATE TO CONTRADICT AN OPINION OF ABU BAKR." This was recorded by Ibn Jarir and others.
In his Tafsir, Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn Abbas said, "I was among the last persons to see Umar bin Al-Khattab, and he said to me, What you said was the correct opinion. I asked, What did I say? He said, That Kalalah refers to the person who has no child or parents." This is also the opinion of Ali bin Abi Talib, Ibn Ma'sud, Ibn Abbas, Zayd bin Thabit, Ash-Sha'bi, An-Nakha'I, Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Qatadah, Jabir bin Zayd and Al-Hakam. This is also the view of the people of AL-Madinah, Kufah, Basrah, the Seven Fuqaha, the Four Imams and the majority of scholars of the past and present, causing some scholars to declare that there is a consensus on this opinion. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged), Volume 2, Parts 3, 4, & 5 (Surat Al-Baqarah, Verse 253, to Surat An-Nisa, Verse 147), abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors Riyadh, Houston, New York, Lahore; First Edition: March 2000], pp. 395-396; bold and capital emphasis mine)
Here, the meaning of Kalalah is determined by the consensus view of men who were not completely certain about its precise meaning!
Ibn Warraq notes:
The last five or so lines of Sura IV.12 have been the source of much controversy among Muslim commentators. Tabari devotes seven pages to these few lines. As David Powers tells us: "Almost every word in the opening line of this verse is subject to dispute, and there may be as many as four or five different opinions, espoused by an even greater number of authorities, for every point in question." Powers shows that precise meaning of kalala also remains a subject of controversy, with Tabari citing twenty-seven separate definitions by various authorities. It is not clear if this word kalala refers to the deceased himself (al-mawruth) or to the heirs of the deceased (al-waratha). (Warraq, "Introduction", What the Koran Really Says, Language, Text & Commentary [Prometheus Books, 2002; ISBN: 157392945X], p. 47)
Hashasa - S. 12:51
<The wife of the Aziz said: "Now the truth has Hashasa ...">
or truth is manifest to all, according to Ibn Abbas, Mujahid and others. Hashasa also means, became clear and plain ...
<it was I who sought to seduce him, and he is surely of the truthful.> (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged), Volume 5, Surah Hud to Surat Al-Isra', Verse 38), First Edition, July 2000, p. 177; bold emphasis ours)
Ar-Raqim - S. 18:9
<Do you think that the people of Al-Kahf and Ar-Raqim were a wonder among Our signs?>
"What I have given you of knowledge, the Sunnah and the Book is far better than the story of the people of Al-Kahf and Ar-Raqim." Muhammad bin Ishaq said: "[It means] I have not shown My creatures a proof more amazing than the story of the people of Al-Kahf and Ar-Raqim."
Al-Kahf refers to a cave in a mountain, which is where the young men sought refuge. With regard to the word Ar-Raqim, Al-Awfi reported from Ibn Abbas that it is a VALLEY near Aylah. This was also said [in another narration] by Atiyah Al-Awfi and Qatadah. Ad-Dahhak said: "As for Al-Kahf, it is a cave in the valley, and Ar-Raqim IS THE NAME OF THE VALLEY." Mujahid said, "Ar-Raqim refers to their BUILDINGS." Others said it refers to the valley in which their cave was.
Abdur-Razzaq recorded that Ibn Abbas said about Ar-Raqim: "Kab used to say that it was the TOWN." Ibn Jurayj reported that Ibn Abbas said, "Ar-Raqim is the MOUNTAIN in which the cave was." Sa'id bin Jubayr said, "Ar-Raqim IS A TABLET OF STONE ON WHICH THEY WROTE THE STORY OF THE CAVE, then they placed it at the entrance to the Cave." (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Volume 6 (Surat Al-Isra', Verse 39 To the end of Surat Al-Mu'minun), First Edition, July 2000, p. 118; capital emphasis mine)
C.C. Torrey writes:
"In verse 8 he introduces the subject with a question, What think you of those associated with the cave and with al-Raqim? Was not their experience a wonderful sign? What the word raqim means here has been an unsolved mystery. Some commentators explain it as the name of the mountain in which the cave was, others regard it as the name of the valley below. Others, starting from etymology, suppose it to designate a tablet or scroll, something inscribed (verb raqama), which may have been put up over the mouth of the cave in which they lay. But the popular explanation approved by the MAJORITY of native commentators (ALWAYS WITH EXPRESS CAUTION, HOWEVER), is this, that, al-raqim IS THE NAME OF THE DOG THAT ACCOMPANIED THE SLEEPERS, mentioned in verses 17 and 21. This explanation is intrinsically most unlikely. Raqim is all but impossible as a name; moreover, Muhammad could hardly have chosen the form of words which he uses, if this had been his meaning. The dog himself was sahib al-kahf, or one of those of the cave, and he plays no important part in the story in any of its forms. It is true that Muhammad shows some interest in this dog, and it is therefore no wonder that his oriental followers, with their love of the whimsical and their own interest in domestic animals, should have given the preference to this explanation of the strange word. But very few scholars, either oriental or occidental, have expressed themselves as really persuaded." (Torrey, "Three Difficult Passages in the Koran", What the Koran Really Says, Language, Text & Commentary, ed. Ibn Warraq [Prometheus Books, 2002; ISBN: 157392945X], pp. 466-467; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Hananan - S. 19:13
<And (made him) Hananan from Us,> [19:13]
Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn Abbas said ...
"This means MERCY from Us." Ikrimah, Qatadah and Ad-Dahhak all said the same. Ad-Dahhak added, "Mercy that no one would be able to give except Us." Qatadah added, "With it, Allah had mercy upon Zakariyya." Mujahid said ...
<And Hananan from Us,>
"This was GENTLENESS from his Lord upon him." The APPARENT MEANING is that Allah's statement Hananan (AFFECTION, COMPASSION) is directly related to His statement ...
<and We gave him wisdom while yet a child.>
meaning, "We gave him wisdom, COMPASSION and purity." This means that he was a COMPASSIONATE man, who was righteous. Hananan MEANS THE LOVE FOR AFFECTION AND TENDERNESS (TOWARDS OTHERS). (Ibid., pp. 235-236; capital emphasis ours)
Sariy - S. 19:24
<your Lord has provided a Sariy under you. >
Sufyan Ath-Thawri and Shu'bah reported from Abu Ishaq that Al-Bara' bin 'Azib said ...
<your Lord has provided a Sariy for you.>
"This means a small STREAM." Likewise, 'Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn 'Abbas said, "Sariy means a RIVER." 'Amr bin Maymun held the same view, as he said, "It means river in the Syrian language." Sa'id bin Jubayr said, "Sariy is a small flowing river." Others said that Sariy refers TO 'ISA. This was said by Al-Hasan, Ar-Rabi' bin Anas, Muhammad bin 'Abbad bin Ja'far, and it is one of the two opinions reported from Qatadah. It is also the view of 'Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam. However, the first view SEEMS TO BE the most obvious meaning ... (Ibid., pp. 247-248; capital emphasis ours)
Maqalid - S. 39:63
<To Him Belong the Maqalid of the heavens and earth.> Mujahid said, "Maqalid means KEYS IN PERSIAN." This was also the view of Qatadah Ibn Zayd and Sufyan bin 'Uyaynah.
As-Suddi said ...
<To Him belong the Maqalid of the heavens and the earth.> "The TREASURES of the heaven and the earth." Both OPINIONS mean that the control of all things is in the Hand of Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, for His is the dominion and to Him is the praise, and He is able to all things ... (Tafsir Ibn Kathir(Abridged), Volume 8 (Surat Al-Ahzab, Verse 51 to the end of Surat Ad-Dukhan), First Edition, September 2000, pp. 415-416)
Kazimin - S. 40:18
<Kazimin> means SILENT, for no one will speak without His permission ...
Ibn Jurayj said:
<Kazimin> "It means WEEPING." (Ibid., p. 459)
La Jarama - S. 40:43
<La Jarama, you call to one> They say it means, "TRULY." As-Suddi and Ibn Jarir said that the meaning of His saying...
<La Jarama> means "TRULY." Ad-Dahak said...
<La Jarama> means, "NO LIE." 'Ali bin Abi Talhah and Ibn 'Abbas said...
<La Jarama> means, "INDEED, the one that you call me to of idols and false gods... (Ibid., p. 480)
Masjur - S. 52:6
<And by the sea that is Masjur.> The MAJORITY say it refers to the oceans of the earth. Masjur means, the sea will be kindled WITH FIRE on the Day of Resurrection just as Allah said in another Ayah ...
<And when the seas become as blazing fire.> (81:6)
i.e., it will be kindled with fire and become a raging fire that surrounds the people in the gathering area, this was reported by Sa'id bin Al-Musayyib from Ali bin Abi Talib.
It was also reported from Ibn Abbas, and it is the view of Sa'id bin Jubayr, Mujahid, Abdullah bin Ubayd bin Umayr and others. Qatadah said, "Masjur is the FILLED SEA." Ibn Jarir PREFERRED THIS EXPLANANTION saying, "The sea is not filled with fire now, so it is filled." (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Volume 9, Surat Al-Jathiyah to the end of Surat Al-Munafiqun), First Edition, September 2000, p. 282; capital emphasis mine)
Qamtarir - S. 76:10
<Verily We fear from our Lord a Day that is Abus and Qamtarir>
meaning, we only do this that perhaps Allah may have mercy on us and treat us with gentleness on the Day that is Abus and Qamtarir. Ali bin Abi Talhah reported from Ibn Abbas, "Abus means difficult and Qamtarir means LONG." Ikrimah and others said from Ibn Abbas ...
<a Day that is Abus and Qamtarir (hard and DISTRESSFUL, that will make the faces look horrible from extreme dislike to it.)>
"The disbeliever will frown on that day sweat will flow between his eyes like tar." Mujahid said, Abus Abis means (frowning with) the two lips and Qamtarir means DRAWING UP THE FACE IN A SCOWL." Sa'id bin Jubayr and Qatadah said, "Faces will be made to frown due to dismay. Qamtarir is the contraction of the forehead and what is between the two eyes due to dismay." Ibn Zayd said, "Abus is the evil and Qamtarir is the SEVERITY." (Ibid., pp. 290-291; capital emphasis mine)
Abb - S. 80:31
<And fruits (Fakihah) and herbage (Abb).> Fakihah includes every type of fruit. Ibn Abbas said, "Al-Fakihah is everything that is eaten ripe, and Al-Abb is what the earth grows that is eaten by grazing animals and not people." In one narration reported from him he said, "It is the grass for the livestock animals."
Abu Ubayd Al-Qasim bin Sallam reported from Ibrahim At-Taymi that he said, "Abu Bakr As-Siddiq was asked about Allah's statement ...
<And fruits (Fakihah) and herbage (Abb).> and he said, What sky would shade me and what earth would carry me IF I SAID ABOUT THE BOOK OF ALLAH THAT WHICH I DID NOT HAVE KNOWLEDGE OF."
In reference to what Ibn Jarir recorded from Anas, that he said, "Umar bin Al-Khattab recited ...
<He frowned and turned away.> then when he reached this Ayah ...
<And fruits (Fakihah) and herbage (Abb)> he said, W already know what is Al-Fakihah, BUT WHAT IS AL-ABB? Then he said, By your life, O Ibn Al-Khattab, THIS IS SOMETHING OVERBURDENSOME (i.e., unnecessary to ask about)."
This report HAS AN AUTHENTIC CHAIN OF NARRATION. More than one person has narrated it from Anas. The meaning of the narration is that Umar wanted to know how it looks, its type and its exact description, because he (Umar) and everyone who reads this Ayah knows that it is one of the plants that grow from the earth. This is clear due to Allah's statement ...
<And We cause therein HABB to grow. And grapes and Qadb, and olives and date palms. And Ghulb Hada'iq. And fruits (Fakihah) and herbage (Abb).>
And then he says ...
<A provision and benefit for you and your cattle.>
meaning, a means of livelihood for you all and your cattle in this life until the (coming of) the Day of Judgement. (Ibid., pp. 364-366; bold and capital emphasis mine)
Ibn Warraq notes:
... 'Abb: meaning not certain, probably ‘pasture.’ C.f. Hebrew: ebh; Syriac: 'ebba; as Jeffrey notes, ‘The early authorities in Islam were puzzled by the word as is evident from the discussion by Tabari on the verse, and the uncertainty evidenced by Zamakhshari and Baydawi in their comments, an uncertainty which is shared by the Lexicons (cf. Ibn Manzur, Lisan al-'Arab, 20 vols. Cairo: A.H., 1300-1308 i, p. 199; Ibn al-Athir, Al Nihaya fi-gharib al-hadith, 4 vols. Cairo: A.H., 1322, i, 10).’ (Warraq, "Introduction," p. 42)
Sahkhah - S. 80:33
Ibn Abbas said, "As-Sahkhah is one of the names of the Day of Judgement that Allah has magnified and warned His servants of." Ibn Jarir said, "PERHAPS it is a name for the BLOWING INTO TRUMPET." Al-Baghawi said, "As-Sahkhah means the THUNDEROUS SHOUT of the Day of Judgement. It has been called this because it will deafen the ears. This means that it pierces the hearing to such an extent that it almost deafens the ears." (Ibid., p. 366; capital emphasis ours)
'As'as - S. 81:17
<And by the night when it As'as.> THERE ARE TWO OPINIONS ABOUT THIS STATEMENT. One of them is that it refers to its advancing with its darkness. Mujahid said, "It means its darkening." Sa'id bin Jubyar said, "When it begins." Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, "When it covers the people." This was also said by Atiyah Al-Awfi. Ali bin Abi Talha and Al-Awfi both reported from Ibn Abbas ...
<when it As'as> "This means when it goes away." Mujahid, Qatadah and Ad-Dahhak, all said the same. Zayd bin Aslam and his son Abdur-Rahman also made a similar statement, when they said ...
<when it As'as> "This means when it leaves, and thus it turns away."
I believe the intent in Allah's saying ...
<when it As'as> is when it approaches, even though it is correct to use the word for departing also. However, approachment IS A MORE SUITABLE USAGE HERE. It is as if Allah is swearing by the night and its darkness when it approaches, and by the morning and its light when it shines from the east. This is as Allah says ...
<By the night as it envelops. By the day as it appears in brightness> (92:1-2)
and He also says ...
<By the forenoon. By the night when it darkens.> (93:1-2)
Allah also says ...
<Cleaver of the daybreak. He has appointed night for resting.> (6:96)
And there are other similar Ayat that mention this. Many of the scholars of the fundamentals of language have said that the word As'as is used to mean advancing and retreating, with both meanings sharing the same word.
Therefore, it is correct that the intent COULD BE both of them, and Allah knows best. (Ibid., pp. 381-382; bold and capital emphasis ours)
The Quran claims to be in clear Arabic:
We know indeed that they say, "It is a man that teaches him." The tongue of him they wickedly point to is notably foreign, while this is Arabic, pure and clear. S. 16:103
And lo! it is a revelation of the Lord of the Worlds, Which the True Spirit hath brought down Upon thy heart, that thou mayst be (one) of the warners, In plain Arabic speech. S. 26:192-195 Pickthall
(It is) a Qurán in Arabic, without any crookedness (therein): in order that they may guard against Evil. S. 39:28
The traditions claim that the Quran was revealed in the Quraish dialect:
Narrated Anas bin Malik:
Hudhaifa bin Al-Yaman came to Uthman at the time when the people of Sham and the people of Iraq were Waging war to conquer Arminya and Adharbijan. Hudhaifa was afraid of their (the people of Sham and Iraq) differences in the recitation of the Qur'an, so he said to 'Uthman, "O chief of the Believers! Save this nation before they differ about the Book (Quran) as Jews and the Christians did before." So 'Uthman sent a message to Hafsa saying, "Send us the manuscripts of the Qur'an so that we may compile the Qur'anic materials in perfect copies and return the manuscripts to you." Hafsa sent it to 'Uthman. 'Uthman then ordered Zaid bin Thabit, 'Abdullah bin Az-Zubair, Said bin Al-As and 'Abdur-Rahman bin Harith bin Hisham to rewrite the manuscripts in perfect copies. 'Uthman said to the three Quraishi men, "In case you disagree with Zaid bin Thabit on any point in the Qur'an, then write it in the dialect of Quraish, the Qur'an was revealed in their tongue." They did so, and when they had written many copies, 'Uthman returned the original manuscripts to Hafsa. 'Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Qur'anic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, BE BURNT. Zaid bin Thabit added, "A Verse from Surat Ahzab was missed by me when we copied the Qur'an and I used to hear Allah's Apostle reciting it. So we searched for it and found it with Khuzaima bin Thabit Al-Ansari. (That Verse was): 'Among the Believers are men who have been true in their covenant with Allah.' (33.23) (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 61, Number 510)
Yet here are words that those closest to Muhammad, whose mother tongue was Arabic, did not know their exact meanings.
I anticipate that Bravo might claim that there are Hebrew words which biblical scholars have been unable to decipher as well. If Bravo does try to raise this issue he would be guilty of the fallacy of false analogy and of ad hominem tu quoque. It may be true that as centuries went by the people forgot the precise meaning of specific Hebrew words, but this doesn't mean that those who first received the revelation didn't know their meanings. Yet, here we have the first Muslims being unable to decipher the exact meaning of specific words in a revelation claiming to be written in clear Arabic speech, a speech which they were fluent in!
Other aspects of the Quran which have baffled Muslims include the presence of non-Arabic terms. Muslim Farid Esack comments on the problem that the Muslims faced in trying to explain the appearance of non-Arabic words in a text claiming to be written in clear Arabic:
The Qur'an itself repeatedly asserts that it is a unique and inimitable "Arabic Qur'an" (12.2, 13.37, 16.103) in order to communicate its meaning in a perfect manner to a people who took great pride in the expressive quality of their language. Much of the early discussion about the linguistic components of the Qur'an centred on the presence, or otherwise, of non-Arabic words in it - of course, based on the premise that it was essentially an Arabic text. The verses referred to above became the key supportive texts for those who argued that the Qur'an did not contain any non-Arabic terms. The earliest exegetes, particularly those associated with Abd Allah ibn Abbas (d. 68/67-68), a cousin of Muhammad, freely discussed a large number of non-Arabic words in the Qur'an. Hadith literature credits Ibn Abbas and "his school" with having a special interest in seeking their origin and meaning. Later eminent scholars of the Qur'an such as the philologist/exegete Abu Ubayd (d. 838), however continued to argue that the Qur'an contained foreign words. Others such as Ibn Atiyyah (d. 541/1146), Suyuti (d. 911/1505), and Abd al-Rahman al-Tha'labi (d. 1468) tried to reconcile theology with linguistic principles. They argued that the foreign words in the Qur'an came into Arabic through the ancient Arab's contacts with other languages in foreign travel and commerce but that they had been thoroughly Arabized by the time of the Prophet [Sam- If this were so then there would have been no need to highlight the fact that these foreign words had become part of the language since this would have been common knowledge to native Arab speakers like Ibn Abbas. That an explanation was needed to explain why foreign words appear in the Quran demonstrates how weak this Muslim claim actually is!] Various theories were evolved to resolve THE CONTRADICTION between the notion ascribed to Ibn Abbas and the one which subsequently gained greater acceptance, i.e., that the Qur'an does not contain any foreign terminology. To deal with the actual occurrence of words in the Arabic language that were also found in non-Arabic languages, some of these scholars, such as Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafi (d. 204/819) and Tabari, developed the notion of tawafuq (coincidence). They argued that both Arabic and other languages employ the same words with identical meanings and that this uniformity of meaning was purely coincidental.
The idea of any language or discourse being absolutely free from expressions or words used in another language is alien to one of the most basic linguistic principles, i.e., the inter-relatedness of human speech. While this may sound trite, two factors, however, ensured that this notion was rejected by the "orthodoxy": first, the Qur'an is not really regarded as human speech but rather God's and God's speech CANNOT BE SUBJECTED TO ANY LINGUISTIC PRINCIPLES. Indeed, as is commonly known, Qur'anic Arabic became the standard of Arabic grammar. (The problem of God's speech of necessity having to coincide with human speech for effect and meaning remains.) Second, for the "orthodoxy", God's own eternalness and self-subsistence fused with those of His revelation. The Qur'an and its language thus came to be viewed as equally timeless and independent of any "non-divine" elements, non-Arabic included. The fact of God's revelation occurring in Arabic (or any other language for that matter) alongside the insistence that this is the unmediated medium which was used by God raises an interesting question: If all comprehensible language and speech is the result of social interaction then does this imply that God is also "limited" or confined to the limitations of language? If so, then what does this imply for the all-powerful nature of God? (The Qur'an - A Short Introduction, pp. 68-69; bold and capital emphasis mine)
Muslims also had a hard time explaining the following letters that are found at the beginning of certain chapters:
Muhammad Asad admits:
"About one-quarter of the Qur'anic suras are preceded by mysterious letter-symbols called muqatta'at ('disjointed letters') or, occasionally, fawatih ('openings') because they appear at the beginning of the relevant suras. Out of the twenty-eight letters of the Arabic alphabet, exactly one-half- that is, fourteen- occur in this position, either singly or in varying combinations of two, three, four, or five letters. They are always pronounced singly, by their designations and not as mere sounds - thus: alif lam mim, or ha mim, etc.
"The significance of these letter-symbols has perplexed the commentators from the earliest times. There is no evidence of the Prophet's having ever referred to them in any of his recorded utterances, nor any of his Companions having ever asked him for an explanation. None the less, it is established beyond any possibility of doubt that all the Companions - obviously following the example of the Prophet - regarded the muqatta'at as integral parts of the suras to which they are prefixed, and used to recite them accordingly: a fact which disposes effectively of the suggestion advanced by some Western orientalists that these letters may be no more than the initials of the scribes who wrote down the individual revelations at the Prophet's dictation, or of the Companions who recorded them at the time of the final codification of the Qur'an during the reign of the first three Caliphs.
"Some of the Companions as well as some of their immediate successors and later Qur'anic commentators were convinced that these letters are abbreviations of certain words or even phrases relating to God and His attributes, and tried to 'reconstruct' them with much ingenuity; but since the possible combinations are practically unlimited, all such interpretations are highly arbitrary and, therefore, devoid of any real usefulness ..." (Asad, The Message of the Qur'an [Dar al-Andalus Limited, 3 Library Ramp Gibraltar, rpt. 1993], App. II, p. 992)
After summarizing several different interpretations, Asad concludes:
"... and so, in the last resort, we must content ourselves with the finding that a solution of this problem still remains beyond our grasp. This was apparently the view of the four Right-Guided Caliphs, summarized in these words of Abu Bakr: 'In every divine writ (kitab) there is [an element of] mystery - and the mystery of the Qur'an is [indicated] in the openings of [some of] the suras." (Ibid., p. 993)
Even A. Yusuf Ali states:
"As shown in Appendix I (Sipara 3), the Abbreviated Letters are mystic symbols, about whose meaning there is no authoritative explanation. If the theory advanced in n. 25 to ii. 1 has any validity, and the present group A.L.R. is cognate to the group A.L.M., we have to consider and form some idea in our minds as to the probable meaning of the variation ... But no one should be dogmatic in speculation about mystic Symbols." (Ali, The Holy Qur'an - Introduction to Sura X [Yunus], p. 481)
We are also told in Ali's footnote 25, p. 17, that the meaning A.L.M.:
"... Much has been written about the meaning of these letters, but most of it is pure conjecture. Some commentators are content to recognize them as some mystic symbols, of which it is unprofitable to discuss the meaning by mere verbal logic. In mysticism we accept symbols as such for a time being: their esoteric meaning comes from the inner light when we are ready for it ..."
Ibn Kathir notes:
"The 'ulama do not agree as to the interpretation of <Alif-Lam-Mim> and other similar letters at the beginning of some suras. They have been given the following interpretations:
As for the wisdom behind these letters, some scholars have said it is:
That Ibn Kathir's second explanation is unconvincing is seen by the fact that certain suras begin by mentioning the Quran without the mysterious letters preceding it. For example S. 18:1 begins:
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, Who hath sent His Servant the Book, and hath allowed therein no Crookedness. (cf. S. 24:1; 25:1; 39:1-2; 52:1-3; 55:1-2; 97:1)
In other suras, we find the letters appearing without any reference to the Quran. One such sura is S. 19:1-2:
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Kaf. Ha. Ya. Ain. Sad. (This is) a mention of Zakariya.
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Alif-Lam-Mim. Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, "We believe", and that they will not be tested? S. 29:1-2 (cf. S. 30:1-2; 68:1)
QUESTION FOR JOHNNY BRAVO
Since Muslims such as Asad clearly admit that there is no report suggesting that Muhammad spoke about these mysterious letters in his recorded utterances, where did the Companions come up with such a practice especially since these letters left them perplexed as to their meanings? Furthermore, no report has come down to us indicating that the Companions had inquired Muhammad on the meaning of these mysterious letters. This is indeed strange since had these letters been part of the original revelation why would the Companions not have asked about their meaning? This seems to suggest that scribes added these letters much later and hadiths were then forged to establish their authenticity. So I challenge Johnny Bravo to please explain the mystery of these "revealed" letters.
So much for Jeremiah's and Bravo's "refutation" of Ali Dashti.
We would also like to know what this "scholar" of Sam, Ali Dashti, has to say about Sam Shamoun's Holy Book, the Bible, here is what he says:
The Old Testament is a precious legacy of records from the history of human thought. It illustrates the naivety of primitive people's ideas about creation and the creator.
About the lives of Jesus and Moses, let alone Abraham and Noah, whatever information we possess is clouded by dusts of popular mythology and religous and racial prejudice.
Throughout the Old Testament, the God who is presented to us is an imperious being, quick to anger, unwilling to relent, and avid for praise and worship ... Throughout the Old Testament, God is similarly portrayed as a capricious, exacting and relentless tyrant.
Since Sam seems to be so much impressed with Ali Dashti, he should stop picking and choosing and instead accept all that Ali Dashti has to say!
It is also interesting to note that this missionary, Sam Shamoun, got profoundly angered in our email exchanges (dealing with another topic) when I quoted material from Jews for Judaism website. Sam lashed out:
>And I was very impressed with your citation of Jews for Judaism,
>not just Paul but of Jesus as well. Talk about being desperate to find
>rebuttal! Tsk, tsk. Shame on you for using people that attack on who I
>what both believe to be the true messiah as well as a true prophet of
This actually exposes their hypocrisy.One one hand they get angered when a source is used as evidence which is hostile to both sides, yet these same missionaries have no qualms at all when it comes to them quoting sources which are not only hostile to Muslims but also to Christians themselves! Don't the Christians at "Answering-Islam" know that Abraham Geiger was a Jew who considered Jesus(P) to be an illegitimate child and a false Messiah? Then why do Christians feel so free to use material by this fellow, a Jew, who according to Sam: "...attack on who I and what both believe to be the true messiah as well as a true prophet of God."? The reason is simple, its HYPOCRISY.
It dosen't matter to them if the articles/books are authored by a Jesus(P) hating/denying Jew, or a cow worshipping Hindu or an athiest etc. Just as long as the article/book happens to be ANTI-ISLAMIC, the missioanries will cheerfully use it! But when a Muslim uses a small amount of material by those hostile to the Christians (and even Muslims), then missionaries such as Sam Shamoun will shed crocodile tears and ramble as much as they can, however at the same time they will cheerfully use material by those who are hostile to their own religion.
Therefore double shame on Mr Sam Shamoun and all the Christian missionaries at "Answering-Islam" for using material of those who "......attack on who I and what both believe to be the true messiah as well as a true prophet of God."
Bravo commits the fallacy of false dilemma since he asserts that either I accept all that Dashti has to say, or reject it in toto. I am under no obligation to accept claims that are not supported by the evidence. Dashti's criticism of the Quran's grammatical structure is based on facts, not opinions as the preceding citations clearly demonstrated. Even more evidence will follow shortly.
Second, one major reason why I appeal to scholars who do not hold to conservative views of God and revelation is to expose the shoddy scholarship of Muslim apologists such as Bravo. Muslims are fond of quoting liberal scholars to refute Christianity, not realizing that these same scholars would debunk Muslim claims about Muhammad and the Quran. See the following two articles for examples of Muslims appealing to liberals in their criticism of Christianity and my responses to them:  ,  .
Amazingly, Bravo now accuses me of hypocrisy for using liberals in my response while failing to inform his readers that I am simply using HIS OWN METHODOLOGY AGAINST HIM! I am simply reflecting back Bravo's approach in order to expose his superficial thinking. For example, whom did Bravo appeal to in attacking the Greek of the New Testament? Joseph Schacht and Nietzsche, men that deny revelation and miracles. The direct complaint against the Muslim use of liberal scholars has hardly ever worked. It never got their attention. Therefore, I am now doing exactly the same and suddenly they "see" that this is wrong and get angry at me for doing so. However, Bravo only condemns himself with his outrage.
Furthermore, notice again Bravo's admission above:
It is also interesting to note that this missionary, Sam Shamoun, got profoundly angered in our email exchanges (dealing with another topic) WHEN I QUOTED MATERIAL FROM JEWS FOR JUDAISM WEBSITE. Sam lashed out:
Interestingly, Bravo gets angry over the fact that Answering Islam presents the research of men like Geiger, yet finds no problem with using Jews for Judaism who also share Geiger's views of Jesus! And yet Bravo has the nerve to call us hypocrites?
So I say, triple shame on you Bravo. Shame on you for using liberals and Jesus-hating Jews in attacking Christianity throughout your original article. Shame on you for then criticizing me for repaying you the favor by quoting liberals in critiquing the Quran. And finally, shame on you for justifying your inconsistency in applying your criteria objectively with:
But when a Muslim uses A SMALL AMOUNT OF MATERIAL by those hostile to the Christians (and even Muslims),
Is this an excuse? Since you only claim to quote small amounts this means it is therefore okay for you to cite liberals and unbelievers? Since when did the amount of material make a difference in whether one honestly applies their methodology consistently?
Third, the readers can see that throughout my articles I interact with and respond to the use of liberal theologians by Muslim writers and apologists, provide answers to their arguments and do not simply brush them off for being liberal. This is unlike Bravo who has only sought to attack the characters of these scholars while failing to provide a meaningful response to their claims.
This means that Bravo is guilty of the fallacy of ad hominem tu quoque, attacking me for being an alleged hypocrite while failing to respond to the arguments.
Let me repeat again, if you can't handle the heat stay out of the kitchen.
The next individual which Sam quotes is Thomas Carlyle! Note again, Thomas Carlyle was not an "Arabic grammarian", he was not authority on the Arabic language. He simply had access to George Sale's highly inaccurate translation of the Quran! Since Thomas Carlyle is no authority on the Quran let alone the Arabic language, Sam is again wasting our time by citing irrelevant material by those who are no authorities on the topic.
It never ceases to amaze me how inconsistent Muslim Apologists truly are. Amazingly, Muslims like Ahmad Deedat will quote Thomas Carlyle in his favorable view of Muhammad, but when his views regarding the Quran are quoted he is now viewed as being irrelevant to our discussion. In fact, Bravo's buddies quote Carlyle in their response to Jochen Katz:
Thomas Carlyle, who was among the first people to speak against the Christian lies against Muhammad(P) says:
Our current hypothesis about Mahomet, that he was a scheming Imposter, a Falsehood incarnate, that his religion is a mere mass of quackery and fatuity, begins really to be now untenable to any one. The lies, which well-meaning zeal has heaped around this man, are disgraceful to ourselves only. When Pococke inquires of Grotius, where the proof was of that story of the pigeon, trained to pick peas from Mahomet's ear, and pass for an angel dictating to him? Grotius answered that there was no proof! It is really time to dismiss all that.(Source)
And guess what book they quote from? You guessed correctly:
 Thomas Carlyle, On Heroes, Hero-Worship, & The Heroic In History, 1993, University Of California Press, p. 38.
Notice what this Muslim says about Carlyle:
It was Friday the 8th of May, 1840, that is about a hundred and fifty years ago, at a time when it was a sacrilege to say anything good about Muhammad (pbuh), and the Christian West was trained to hate the man Muhammad (pbuh) and his religion, the same way as dogs were at one stage trained in my country to hate all black people.1 At that time in history, Thomas Carlyle, ONE OF THE GREATEST THINKERS OF THE PAST CENTURY delivered a series of lectures under the theme - "Heroes and Hero-worship." (Source; bold and capital emphasis mine)
I am going to challenge Bravo to now follow his own advice. Earlier he claimed that I needed to accept all that Dashti wrote in order to use his material. If Bravo is consistent then he is going to have to accept all that Carlyle said, not just his favorable comments about Muhammad. If Bravo attempts to say that he doesn't accept anything that Carlyle has to say, then he is going to need to stop his Muslim brothers such as Saifullah and Deedat from quoting only those parts of Carlyle that are favorable to their position.
Furthermore, Bravo's claim that Carlyle was commenting on an inaccurate translation of the Quran doesn't solve the problem, but actually makes matters worse. Muslims claim that the beauty of the Quran can only be appreciated in its seventh century Quraishi Arabic dialect, the language it was allegedly "revealed" in. Some go so far as to say that this is the reason why it cannot be translated, since a translation is not the Quran.
Hence, the Quran's inspiration can only be appreciated in its seventh century dialect, a dialect which the vast majority of the world's population do not speak or read. Yet when it is translated it loses all its alleged beauty and attraction, leading some like Carlyle to call it stupid. And yet the Quran is supposed to be a miracle! What kind of miracle is this that can only be appreciated in a language that the vast majority do not know, but when translated loses all its effectiveness to captivate people with its eloquence?
The Quran is unlike the Holy Bible in this aspect. The Holy Bible's effectiveness is not lost in translation, but retains its divine power to convict and transform the lives of those who read it by God's grace.
How would Bravo explain this observation: There are plenty of English translations of the Bible which are good literature making a profound impact in the culture and on much of the later English literature (most professors of English literature would agree to that, particularly in the case of the King James Version; and a similar observation holds for many other languages as well), while just about all the translations of the Quran are literary nightmares?
Somehow the Bible in its original language is much better suited for translation and communication of God's message into all the languages of the world than the Qur'an. Assuming that "the truth of Islam" was supposed to be known and understood by all people of all languages, does that problem not indicate a certain lack of foresight on the part of the author of the Quran?
Others that concur with Carlyle include historian Edward Gibbon who describes the Quran as "incoherent rhapsody of fable, and precept, and declamation, which sometimes is lost in the clouds." (Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire [Milman Co., London], Volume I, p. 365)
Gibbon is another writer who is often quoted by Muslims to support their view that the Quran is God's Word. The Learner Moiz Amjad, whom Bravo cites approvingly, writes:
Acknowledging this fact, Gibbon writes:
While the Persian monarch contemplated the wonders of his art and power, he received an epistle from an obscure citizen of Mecca, inviting him to acknowledge Mahomet as the apostle of God. He rejected the invitation, and tore the epistle. "It is thus," exclaimed the Arabian prophet, "that God will tear the kingdom, and reject the supplications of Chosroes." Placed on the verge of the two great empires of the East, Mahomet observed with secret joy the progress of their mutual destruction; and in the midst of the Persian triumphs, he ventured to foretell, that before many years should elapse, victory should again return to the banners of the Romans.
At the time when this prediction is said to have been delivered, no prophecy could be more distant from its accomplishment, since the first twelve years of Heraclius announced the approaching dissolution of the empire. (Gibbon, Edward, The History of the Decline and Fall of Roman Empire, Vol. 4, Chapter 46, Part 3)
(Source; see also this article.)
Hence, if Bravo is going to be consistent he is going to either accept or reject ALL that Gibbons says, and cannot simply accept only those parts that suit his purposes.
John McClintock and James Strong's Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature notes:
"The matter of the Koran is exceedingly incoherent and sententious, the book evidently being without any logical order of thought either as a whole or in its parts. This agrees with the desultory and incidental manner in which it is said to have been delivered." (Volume V, p. 151, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids MI, reprint 1982)
Here again is Ali Dashti:
"Unfortunately the Qor'an was badly edited and its content are very obtusely arranged. All students of the Qor'an wonder why the editors did not use the natural and logical method of ordering by date of revelation, as in Ali b. Abi Taleb's copy of the text." (Dashti, Twenty-Three Years: A study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammad [Allen and Unwin, London, 1985], p. 28)
What is Dashti referring to? Here is a Shiite Muslim with the answer:
There is no dispute among Muslim scholars, whether they are Sunni or Shia, concerning the fact that the Commander of Believers, Ali (AS), possessed a special transcript of the text of Quran which he had collected himself, and he was THE FIRST who compiled Quran. There are a great number of traditions from Sunni and Shia which states that after the death of the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HF), Imam Ali sat down in his house and said that he had sworn an oath that he would not put on his outdoor clothes or leave his house until he collects together the Quran.
- Fat'hul Bari fi Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, v10, p386
- al-fihrist, by (Ibn) an-Nadim, p30
- al-Itqan, by al-Suyuti, v1, p165
- al-Masahif, by Ibn Abi Dawud, p10
- Hilyatul awliya', by Abu Nu'aym, v1, p67
- al-Sahibi, by Ibn Faris, p79
- 'Umdatul Qari, by al-Ayni, v20, p16
- Kanzul Ummal, by al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, v15, pp 112-113
- al-Sawa'iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, Ch. 9, Section 4, p197
- Ma'rifat al-Qurra' al-kibar, by al-Dhahabi, v1, p31
There are also traditions from the Imams of Ahlul Bayt which tell us that this was done by Imam Ali by order of the Holy Prophet (See al-Bihar, v92, pp 40-41,48,51-52). (Source)
And in the same article it is said:
This transcript of Quran which compiled by Imam Ali (AS) had the following unique specifications:
a) It was collected according to its revelation, i.e., in the order in which it had been sent down. This is the reason that Muhammad Ibn Sireen (33/653 - 110/729), the famous scholar and Tabi'i (disciples of the companions of the Holy Prophet), regretted that this transcript had not passed into the hands of the Muslims, and said: "If that transcript were in our hands, we would found a great knowledge in it."
- at-Tabaqat, by Ibn Sa'd, v2, part 2, p101
- Ansab al-ashraf, by al-Baladhuri, v1, p587
- al-Istiab, by Ibn Abd al-Barr, v3, pp 973-974
- Sharh Ibn Abi al-Hadid, v6, pp 40-41
- al-Tas'hil, by Ibn Juzzi al-Kalbi, v1, p4
- al-Itqan, by al-Suyuti, v1, p166
- al-Sawa'iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, Ch. 9, Section 4, p197
- Ma'rifat al-Qurra' al-kibar, by al-Dhahabi, v1, p32
b) This transcript contained commentary and hermeneutic interpretation (Tafsir and Ta'wil) from the Holy Prophet some of which had been sent down as revelation but NOT as a part of the text of Quran. A small amount of such texts can be found in some traditions in Usul al-Kafi. These pieces of information were the Divine commentary of the text of Quran which were revealed along with Quranic verses. Thus the commentary verses and Quranic verses could sum up to 17000 verses. As Sunnis know, Hadith al-Qudsi (the Hadith in which the speaker is Allah) is also direct revelation, but they are not a part of Quran. In fact Quran testifies that anything that Prophet said was (either direct or indirect) revelation (See Quran 53:3-4). The direct revelation includes the interpretation/commentary of the Quran.
In addition, this unique transcript contained the information from the Holy Prophet about which verse was abrogated and which was abrogating, which verse was clear (Muhkam) and which was ambiguous (Mutashabih), which verse was general and which was specific.
c) This unique transcript also contained references to the persons, places etc., about which the verses were revealed, what is called "Asbab al-Nuzul". Since the Commander of Believers was aware of these facts, he frequently said: "By Allah, no verse has been sent down without my knowing about whom or what it was revealed and where it was revealed. My Lord has gifted me with a mind which has a quick and retaining understanding, and a tongue which speaks eloquently."
- Hilyatul Awliyaa, by Abu Nu'aym, v1, pp 67-68
- at-Tabaqat, by Ibn Sa'd, v2, part 2, p101
- Kanzul Ummal, by al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, v15, p113
- al-Sawa'iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, Ch. 9, Section 4, p197 (bold emphasis ours)
After he compiled this transcript, Imam Ali (AS) took it and presented it to the rulers who came after the Holy Prophet, and said: "Here is the book of Allah, your Lord, in the order that was revealed to your Prophet." but they did not accept it and replied: "We have no need of this. We have with us what you possess." Thereupon, Imam Ali (AS) took the transcript back and informed them that they will never see it again. It is reported that Imam Ali recited the latter part of the following verse of Quran:
"And when Allah took a Covenant from the People of the Book to clarify it to mankind and not to hide its (clarification); but they threw it away behind their backs and purchased with it some miserable gain! and what an evil was the bargain they made!" (Quran 3:187)
By "its clarification", Imam Ali meant the unique divine commentaries. The Commander of Believers then concealed that transcript, and after him it was passed to the Imams who also kept it concealed. It remained concealed with the Imams, one after the other to this day, because they wished to be only one sequence of Quran among the Muslims. Because otherwise if people have had two different sequences, it might later result to some alteration in Quran by some sick-minded people. They wished people have strictly one sequence of Quran. The Quran and its commentary which were collected by Imam Ali (AS) is not available for any Shia in the world except to the Imam Mahdi (AS). If the transcript of the Commander of Believers had been accepted, that would have been the Quran with unique commentary in the hand of people, but it turned out to be otherwise. (bold emphasis ours)
Perhaps Bravo would like to also discredit this fellow Muslim who is relying on official Sunni sources to support his claim.
Author Salomon Reinach writes:
"From the literary point of view, the Koran has little merit. Declamation, repetition, puerility, a lack of logic and coherence strike the unprepared reader at every turn. It is little humiliating to the human intellect to think that this mediocre literature has been the subject of innumerable commentaries, and that millions of men are still wasting time in absorbing it." (Reinach, Orpheus: A History of Religion [Liveright, Inc., New York 1932], p. 176)
Even the Concise Encyclopedia of Islam has to acknowledge that the Quran is disjointed and chaotic, but then tries to explain it away:
"The revelations are identified as having been revealed at Mecca, or at Medina. The earlier, Mecca revelations, have A MORE POETIC and enthusiastic character, throwing forth powerful images of the world's end and existence's reabsorption into the Divine uncreatedness. The Medinan revelations are, on the other hand, like the calm after the storm, and deal mainly with the giving of laws. However, in the canonic recension of the Caliph Uthman, some Meccan chapters contain verses revealed at Medina and vice versa, so that THE TEXT'S DISJOINTED AND IRREGULAR CHARACTER has tempted Western scholars to try to rearrange it in a more apparent order.
These attempts are ill-advised, however, for the Koran's sudden shifts in meaning, points of view, and depth are in the very nature of the text. The Koran is heaven's sense compressed or refracted into human intelligibility, and it is inevitable that the vicissitudes the Koran has undergone in the world, namely, its first limitation into human language, memory, understanding, and dialect, and then its historic assembly into a written text, reflect the disparity between the human order as it is- not in an ideal world- and the Divine order. Jalal ad-Din ar-Rumi suggested that it is THIS VERY NATURE, OUTWARDLY CHAOTIC, that is a ruse of the Koran TO APPROXIMATE THE CHAOTIC NATURE of the human soul, in order then to catch it, as a net catches fish, and to bring it back to absorption in the Divine from which the soul has wandered ..." (Cyril Glassé, Harper & Row, San Francisco, a division of Harper Collins Publishers, second edition 1999, p. 231; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Note here that this is not referring to a translation, BUT TO THE ARABIC TEXT ITSELF!
Farid Esack concurs:
The current arrangement of the Qur'an is neither chronological nor thematic. To those accustomed to reading in a linear or sequential fashion, this can prove tedious and frustrating. The Qur'an also does not have a clear narrative pattern where the stories neatly unfold. The story of Joseph is the only exception TO THE RULE of narratives appearing in different accounts and various bits of the same account being interspersed throughout the Qur'an. The DISJOINTED appearance of these narratives in the Qur'an have been the subject of vigorous scholarly debate, much of it losing sight of its objectivity. "Even where the narrative predominates, the story is hardly ever told in a straightforward manner but tends to fall into a series of short-word pictures; the action advances incident by incident, DISCONTINOUSLY, and the intervening links ARE LEFT TO THE IMAGINATION OF THE HEARERS" (Bell, 1970, 81). This seeming "disjointedness" is also characteristic of the rest of the Qur'an, comprised of exhortations, injunctions, or liturgical pieces.
After a short prayer, the Qur'an begins with the longest and one of the most complex chapters, one from Muhammad's later career, which engages the full array of legal, historical, polemical, and religious issues in a fashion bewildering for the reader not immersed in the history and law of early Islam. For those familiar with the Bible, it would be as if the second page opened with a combination of the legal discussions in Leviticus, the historical polemic of the Book of Judges and the apocalyptic allusions from Revelation, with various topics mixed in together and beginning in mid-topic (Sells, 1999, xi).
While there is unanimity around the placement of the ayat within a surah, traditional scholars have differed as to whether the sequence of all the surahs have also been divinely ordained or only some. Most Muslims have accepted this "disjointedness" although there have been a number of attempts to offer structural explanations for the way the surahs are set out in the Qur'an ... The overall "disjointedness" of the surahs is accepted by most traditional scholars. (Esack, pp. 64-65; bold and capital emphasis mine)
After presenting Muslim author Mustansir Mir's summary of Amin Ahsan Islahi's defense of the Quran's alleged impeccable structure in his book "Tadabbur-i-Qur'an", Esack rightly notes:
The divisions proposed above, while certainly innovative, COME ACROSS AS ABRITRARY AND DEPEND RATHER UNDULY ON WHAT THE READER CHOOSES TO SEE. It is also somewhat difficult to imagine the Prophet and the Companions working their way through an elaborate system of textual division as presented above. Because the Qur'an is the recited word in addition to being the written word, this seeming DISJUNCTURE is of little consequence to most Muslims ... (Ibid. p. 66; bold and capital emphasis mine)
This concludes this part. Continue with [Part C].
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