Preface and Comparison with the Bible
Included in the Qur'an are many unusual tales. These stories might be some of the” fables” that drew criticism from unbelievers who heard Mohammed recite them. The Qur'an itself admits that the unbelievers accused Mohammed of reciting fables as if they were actual history (16:24, 25:5, 68:15, 83:13).
What makes these stories unusual is obvious to non-Muslims today as well. There is a “Rip Van Winkle” type of story that involves the sun changing its course to keep some youths asleep for 300 years. The Qur'an tells of a superman who traveled so far to the west that he witnessed where the sun came to rest, at the end of the day, in a muddy pool. Another tale is about how an army that used elephants was defeated by a flock of birds that dropped clay pellets on them till they were totally annihilated. Sabbath breaking Jews were turned into apes by Allah.
Some of the stories, included in this chapter’s sixty-four paraphrased verses were lengthy. As was the case in the previous chapter on “Bible Characters in the Qur'an,” these stories have been abridged.
The Qur'an Says ...
The SleepersSome youths and their dog escaped the persecution of idol worshipers who wanted to punish them for their belief in monotheism. They were directed by Allah to a cave where they went to sleep for many years. The sun altered its course to help them. No one but Allah knows how many youths there were but some say seven. With the addition of their dog there were eight. No one but Allah knows how long they slept but some say it was three hundred and nine years (18:9-25).
Resurrection After 100 YearsA skeptic observed a ruined city and wondered how Allah would raise the bodies of its ancient inhabitants. Allah caused the skeptic to die and after one hundred years brought him back to life. He was asked how long he was away and answered only one day. He was told that he was gone for one hundred years. His food and drink were still fresh but his donkey had turned to dry bones. What happened to him will be a sign of the final resurrection for all mankind. (2:259)
SupermanA mighty man was made who could do anything. His name was Dhul-Qarnain. Among other things, he traveled on a road so far west that he saw where the sun landed in a pool of black mud. He traveled on another road so far to the East that he saw a kind of people who were close to the rising sun as it started its journey. They had been left without any protection against the nearness of the burning sun’s rays. Another of his exploits was to construct a huge dam, which completely filled the space between two steep mountains. The dam was made of iron blocks coated with molten lead, which was so massive that the people of Gog and Magog could not scale it, or dig through it to disturb their neighbors. The great dam will survive until the Judgment Day (18:83-98).
Elephants and BirdsAn army using elephants was once defeated by Allah. Flocks of birds pelted them with clay stones and completely mowed them down like a field that has been eaten by cattle (105:1-5).
Genies ConvertedSome genies flew up to the top of the sky so they could eavesdropped on the reading of the Qur'an taking place in heaven. They saw the flaming darts, which are thrown at the genies to keep them away from hearing what is taking place around Allah’s throne. They heard the message that Allah is one and that he has no wife or children and believed the message. They became Muslims. Thus, some genies are believers in Islam. Others are the fuel for the fires of hell (72:1-15).
Killing of Allah’s CamelThe people of Thamoud were warned by the prophet Saleh to turn from idol worship but they argued with him. Saleh told them that a certain she-camel was Allah’s and must not be harmed, but they killed her. Saleh prophesied that they would be punished after three days. On the morning of the predicted day they all laid dead in their homes as a result of a blast. They are all gone (11:61-68).
Sabbath Breakers Turned Into ApesJews are to remember how a group of Jewish Sabbath breakers were changed into detestable apes by Allah as an example for future generations (2:65,66).