Responses to Jamal Badawi's "Radio Al-Islam Channel RA 200"



This is the first segment in Dr. Badawi's series entitle The Qur'an : Ultimate Miracle. Dr. Badawi gives us a brief overview of what he will discuss in this series and concludes by misunderstanding a common philosophical comparison between the Qur'an and Jesus.

Host: Could you give us an overview of this series.

Jamal Badawi: There are 2 primary sources for Islam : the Qur'an and the Prophetic sayings or Hadith. We will examine the nature of the Qur'an, the source of the Qur'an, how the Qur'an was revealed and organized. The history of the Qur'an, how was it preserved is it the same as the time of the Prophet? The challenge of the Qur'an that humans cannot make similar verses and scientific statements. The sciences of the Qur'an will be studied. The Tradition, how they were made and used will be studied.

And we will examine each of these claims in turn.

Host: What does Qur'an mean?

Jamal Badawi: It comes from the Arabic Qora, which has two meanings: the most common is reading or recitation, another is put together or compiled. Muslim scholars agree that it is the word of Allah revealed to the last Prophet Muhammad. The recitation is an act or worship. The Word of God is different from all other things, it is the revealed Word of Allah - not all of God's Words have been revealed to us but what he chose, was revealed to his last Prophet Muhammad - he has revealed teachings to other Prophets but this is not Qur'an. The meaning of the Qur'an is Holy and so are the words, these are verbatim the Words of Allah, it is a devotional act. There are 70 places in the Qur'an where the word Qur'an appears.

No, the word Qur'an comes from the Aramaic word qara' which means 'to recite'. Dr. Sobhy as-Salih tells us:

"When the Arabs before Islam used the word (qara') it meant 'to be pregnant or to have a child'. (Sobhy as-Salih, Mabahith fi 'Ulum al-Qur'an, Dar al-'Ilm lel-Malayeen, Beirut, 1983, p.17)

Not everyone agrees that the Qur'an is the Word of God. Caliph Alwalid ibn Yazid, who ruled in the year 743 A.D. said:

Muhammad the Hashemite manipulated people by his claim that he was a prophet, without true inspiration or an inspired book. (The Islamic Caliphate, p. 59)

Caliph Abd Al-Malik ibn Marwan, who was a scholar of the Qur'an, after becoming the Caliph, folded the Qur'an and said:

"this is the last time I will ever use you." (The Islamic Caliphate, p. 173)

Host: Are there other terms in the Qur'an?

Jamal Badawi: It is al-Kitab or the book. This is a reflection of the protection on memory and writing. In Sura 25 it is called the al-Furqan criterion which divides between truth and falsehood, right and wrong. In Sura 50 it is called the reminder, reminding us of destiny and beauty. It is called something that came down Sura 6:192. In Sura 4:174 it is called the manifest light, in Sura 2 it is called guidance, and healing of the heart and spiritual diseases, the exhortation, honored, glorious, and mercy.

It is interesting to note that, according to Dr. Sobhy as-Salih, the term al-Furqan is not Arabic but Aramaic.

Host: How is it different from the Hadith?

Jamal Badawi: Both were uttered by Muhammad, they are totally distinct. Muhammad had no control on the words of the Qur'an. The Hadith, he received inspiration from God, but not word for word. The are two categories of Hadith : Hadith Kudsi (divine) which were an inspiration in meaning so he is quoting God. This does not mean that he received the exact wording. The Prophetic sayings are the second type some are described by a revelation but Muhammad used his own words, the other is that Muhammad based his saying on his thinking and understanding of the Qur'an. This is subject to correction.

The Hadith are an interesting topic that will be explored further as this series progresses. They are different, and often conflicting Hadith, the Shi'ites and Sunnis have their own collections, and there is also a great problem with "Fabricated Hadith". Muslims often quote some Hadith, while ignoring others, on an ad hoc basis, citing those that make their point while ignoring those which contradict their arguments. The philosophical problem with the Hadith is that Muslims cannot rely on their veracity, but have no other source to which they can turn in order to imitate Muhammad. How else can a Muslim know what is Sunnah without the Hadith? Also, many passages of the Qur'an are nearly impossible to understand without the historical context provided by the Hadith.

Host: If the Qur'an is word for word, what was the role of the Prophet Muhammad?

Jamal Badawi: Muhammad was not just a tape recorded, he was told to recite it exactly as he heard it. The Qur'an could have been revealed in another way. He has the duty to understand the Qur'an, he has the duty to communicated it to mankind, he was supposed to exemplify the teachings of the Qur'an, he had the duty to interpret the Qur'an in broader issues.

Perhaps, but if Muhammad was to serve as a example, how do you explain his treatment of his enemies?

Host: Some Orientalists make comparisons between the Bible and Qur'an as revelations believed by their followers. What is your comment?

Jamal Badawi: The comparison suffers from some flaws. The Word became flesh in Christianity, for Muslims the Word is in a book. When a Muslims says that Jesus was a Word from God, it is different that the divinity. The Qur'an talks about the Word of God in plural, we are all words of God since he calls us into existence. It is incorrect to compare the Qur'an and Jesus, according to the Qur'an Jesus received a book, the Injeel, from God, Jesus and Muhammad are similar. It appears that it is a book versus a person, Muhammad's words were also living the words of the Qur'an. When Aishah was asked about Muhammad's character, she said his character was the Qur'an.

I believe that Dr. Badawi either misunderstands, or does not want to understand this argument. The Islamic equivalent to Jesus is the Qur'an. The Qur'an is believed (especially by Sunni Muslims) to be the eternal, uncreated word of God, inscribed on the Preserved Tablets in heaven. Christianity has the Incarnation (the word of God becoming flesh in the form of Jesus), but Islam has what we may call the 'Inliteration' (the word of God becoming literature in the form of the Qur'an). The Qur'an is the means of salvation, revealing how to live in obedience to the divine will (Sura 2:136). Since Islam does not believe in original sin, there is no need for the atoning death of Jesus. All that is required is obedience to divine revelation.

This argument concludes that just as Jesus is the Savior in Christianity, the Qur'an performs that very same function in Islam. The main point to understand is that word of God in both arguments has become physical : Jesus for Christians and the Qur'an for Muslims.

Andrew Vargo

Responses to Jamal Badawi's "Radio Al-Islam Channel RA 200"
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