From Jochen Katz 
Newsgroups: soc.religion.islam
Subject: Re: They claim the Quran has a grammatical errors
Date: Tue Jan 21 13:58:31 EST 1997
Message-Id: 5c33kn$

Peace to you, Khalid, and all readers,

In article, (Khalid...) writes:

| I have followed this link in one of Jochen Katz messages 

You seem to read old archives, that is a rather old message.
But it is still relevant, I agree. So let's see ...

| it is a
| homepage of Newton
| and found this funny page of " grammatical errors in the Quran" .
| written by  M. Rafiqul-Haqq and P. Newton , so ,I as an Arab decided
| to reply to this garbage :
| It is quit funny , how two non-arabs try to evaluate the Quran ...

[wondering how "garbage" got through the moderation process...]

Good that you have had so much fun. I am sure Mr. Newton is as delighted
as I am when people have some humor, are able to enjoy themselves, and 
when we could contribute in one small way to your delight as well.

But let me make one more comment on your display of Arab arrogance
["so, I as an Arab ..."]. Just as there are many people with Arab
names who have grown up in the USA and don't know much Arabic at 
all, so there are people with non-Arabic names, who have grown up 
in Arabic countries and are just as much "native speakers" as you 
are. But then, being a native speaker is absolutely irrelevant
since one can aquire a good Arabic knowledge and even become a 
scholar later in life. Case in point, the best Arabic-English
dictionary is the "Arabic-English Lexicon", by E. W. Lane, called 
L.L. or Lane's Lexicon, and published by The Islamic Text Society. 
Now "Lane" is obviously not an Arabic name, but does that mean 
that this man has no clue about the language?

Maybe it will be more becoming to you to discuss the issues 
instead of amusing yourself about the names of the authors.

Anyway, I am not an expert on Arabic myself, so I forwarded your posting 
to Mr. Newton. Below you will find his reply to the only real argument 
presented in your posting.

Khalid wrote:

>error #2 The word muqiimiin is declined with "fath"for the use of
>"madh" which means the praise for them , do you know how the praise
>works in the arabic grammar , will look it up , and learn !!
>here is another example from the arabic poetry from those days
>" la yubidun qawmi alazeen homo      usd ul udati wa afat al juzuri
>alnazeeleen bekul muaatarakin           wa altaiboon maaqeda aluzuri
>>~~~~~~~~                                              ~~  ~~~~~~~
>The most important thing to us of the above poetry is the underlined
>words; the poet chose to decline with "fath" when he praised his
>people as great fighters "alnazeeleena" and declined what came after
>the "wa" or (and) with "rafaa" , where Newton and his friend says it
>should be declined the in the same manner . will it is quite
>acceptable and a known issue for the Arabic language usage .

P. Newton responds:

The appeal of Muslims to poetry of the pre-Islamic period (al-Jaheliyah) 
to explain away the gramatical errors in the Qur'an proves OUR point. 
It proves that the Qur'an is EXACTLY of the SAME quality, instead of 
being superior. The work of human beings will always contain some 
errors. But we would expect the Qur'an to be free from any such 
errors if indeed it is letter by letter from God.

An error in poetry does not justify another error in the Qur'an.
Let any Muslim try this trick of praise in his Arabic examination 
and see how many marks he will get for it. If we start appealing 
to what the poets of that period have done we will allow anything. 
But if you want to give the Qur'an some poetic licence that is OK. 
But then we need to ask: Where is the poetry?

In Q. 4:162 The Qur'an speaks of people who are 1. firmly rooted in
knowledge, 2. and they that believe, 3. those who perform prayer.
The gramateical error involves those who perform prayer. But why 
praise those who perform prayer and not those who believe, for 
belief is a foundation ('Asl) of religion but prayer is only a branch 
(far') of religion. Does it mean that those who pray are better than 
those who are rooted in the knowledge of God? Or better than those 
who believe? In other words the verb used for the act of believing is 
the one that should have been declined by fath. And why is this same 
act not praised in the other six verses where the act of prayer was 
mentioned? The verses are 2:3, 5:55, 8:3, 9:71, 27:3, 31:4. In all of 
these the word describing the act of prayer was declined correctly.
And this is the opinion of the Muslim scholar Ibn al-Khatib in his work
al-Furqan, page 43.

To elevate a branch over the foundation of religion is another error.
It is an error of logic making the attempt to explain away an error
of grammar.

This particular word has been rightly declined according to Mushaf
'Abd-Allah as _Moqimoun_. Also it is declined correctly according 
to the reading of Malik Ibn Dinar and Gahdary and 'Isa al-Thaqafy. 
When "Aban Ibn 'Uthman was asked about the word Moqimeen(1) and 
that what is before it and after it(2) was declined by raf', he said 
it is a scribal error. And Sa'eed Ibn Gabir also said that there are 
four errors in the Qur'an and he mentioned the one in 4:162.

(1) = (i.e. how come it was declined wrongly) 
(2) = (i.e. the word before it and the word after it 
       were declined correctly)  
[I requested this clarification since at first I didn't understand 
  that quote. J.K.]

For any "primitive" or advanced culture the situation is the same. 
The grammatical rules are there all the time. When Bible translators 
or other linguists who first research a language in order to be able 
to reduce it to writing, they DO NOT MAKE THE RULES. They only discover 
them. These same rules are then applied to the translation work. The 
Arabic grammar has been there before the Qur'an. The rules of what is
correct and what is wrong were the same all along. Only the DESCRIPTION 
of the rules in a systematic form for textbooks of grammar came later.

It is similar to the human body. Everything is there from the beginning. 
And it is clear how a healthy human body is supposed to look. If a 
deformed person discovers the rules of the science of anatomy after the 
deformity occured (through accident for example, or even since birth) 
he will not therefore be considerd perfect just because his deformity 
was already present before scientifically defining the rules of anatomy 
for a healthy body. 

In summary the rules of Arabic grammar were not invented (whether by a
human organization nor by a book like the Qur'an), they were discovered.
And when looking at them with a sound mind, the rules are absolutely 


P. Newton

Khalid decided to conclude his article in the following manner:

| and the nonsense go on like that , with repetition of the same
| mistakes used in the inaccurate approach of the two Nobel prize
| winners !!!!
| this was a quick look from an Arabic speaking net surfer , so be
| warned , these two people are fools .
| I couldn't complete the list of the so called errors because of the
| lack of time and the absurdity of claims but it can be done even in
| more details upon request .

Mr. Newton will be most willing to respond to your further details if
you chose to carry on this discussion in this forum. As you see from 
the above quotes, Muslim scholars have already admitted that those 
are errors in the text of the Qur'an. This was not Mr. Newton's 
personal idea.

It would be most appreciated also, if you would refrain from ad hominem
attacks and stick to discussing the issue. Calling others names is not
going to strengthen your argument in any way. You are only undermining
your own credibility.

Two comments from me: Since a number of years it has come into fashion in
the USA to be politically correct and things are no longer deficient or 
wrong, they are just "different." Even if a man loses both legs, he is 
not a disabled person anymore but is now called differently abled instead 
in order to not offend, but even though it sounds nicer it doesn't change 
the rules of anatomy for a healthy and complete body. I can't judge the 
grammar, but looking at the above discussion, it seems that such a 
"political correctness" is really much older and has been used by Muslims 
when looking at the Qur'an. But the rules of grammar are not influenced
by "political (or religious) correctness."
I can very much agree to show kindness and respect to people who have the
burden of being disabled. God has created us both and dispising somebody
else for any reason is to despise the one who created him. Respect to 
those who are less fortunate is not only my religious duty but it should 
be natural to anybody who truly knows God. But just as much as it is my
duty before God to be respectful and kind to those who have certain 
deficiencies [and we all have our deficiencies, some more blatant some
better hidden], as much it is my duty to not cover up the truth in any 
way and at times it is called for to explicitly uncover what others want 
to hide. Especially in matters of searching out what the truth of God 
is, we cannot submit to political correctness just to not offend when 
it means that the truth about important deficiencies is hidden and this 
very act of cover up [isn't that what kufr means?] might lead people 
astray because they believe it is perfect and true.

Khalid quoted a POEM to support his argument. But the very point of 
"poetic license" is that you can use structures in poetry which are 
strictly speaking NOT correct but they are forgiven for the sake of
poetic power [to make it rhyme, ...). Arguing therefore from poetry 
(which in its poetic license might have broken this very rule under 
consideration) FOR the admissability/correctness of a grammatical 
feature is fallacious reasoning. 

It is similar to the following. Many American movies are dealing with 
court cases. In murder cases for example the defense often tries to 
plead for insanity of the offender [and hence not responsible and 
punishable for the crime]. This is legitimate. But if would clearly 
be fallacious to then say that this man was allowed to kill somebody 
and didn't get punished _therefore_ it is no longer wrong for anybody 
to kill other people and nobody should be punished . Extraordinary
circumstances did give him freedom from punishment DESPITE the laws 
not because of the laws and certainly he is no precedent for others 
to not have any punishment for murder either. In the same way, having 
the license for poets to violate the proper rules of grammar cannot 
be turned around and be used to define proper grammar on the basis 
of poetry. 

Interesting tidbit: In Arabia in Muhammad's time many seem to have 
thought that poets (like soothsayers) are possessed by demons which 
ties back in with the above "insanity" example.

Best regards,

Jochen Katz

P.S. The title of this thread has a grammatical error...  ;->

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