Imagining Geographical Errors Within The New Testament

A Response to:

Johnny Bravo The Cartoon Comedian, a.k.a. Usman Sheikh, & Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi

by Sam Shamoun

This paper will be responding to the claim that Mark’s Gospel contains geographical errors. For the most part, I will simply be quoting the responses of other Christian writers who have already taken up the task of refuting these alleged errors. The only difference being is that I will include additional material which will focus more on the Muslim attempt of finding errors in the Gospels, since the original responses were aimed at atheists and liberals. This will be done primarily to expose the double standard and hypocrisy prevalent in Muslim apologetics.

The authors (UM for short) begin their assault on the NT documents by appealing to German author Kümmel.


It is well known that Mark contains numerous geographical errors. This is summed up in Kummel's classic Introduction to the New Testament:

[T]he considerations against this assumption [that John Mark, companion of Peter, wrote the gospel of Mark] carry weight. The author obviously has no personal knowledge of Palestinian geography, as the numerous geographical errors show. He writes for Gentile Christians, with sharp polemic against the unbelieving Jews. He does not know the account of the death of the Baptist (6:17 ff) contradicts Palestinian customs. Could a Jewish Christian from Jerusalem miss the fact that 6:35 ff and 8:1 ff are two variants of the same feeding story? The tradition that Mk was written by John Mark is therefore scarcely reliable. The reference to I Pet 5:13 ("The elect of Babylon and my son Mark also greets you") does not account for the tradition, but only the subsequent linking up of the author of Mk with the preaching of Peter. Accordingly, the author of Mk is unknown to us.[1]


Alleged geographical errors may be well known amongst those seeking to undermine the veracity of the NT. Yet, amongst those affirming the historical accuracy of the NT it is also well known that, for the most part, these charges have little, if any, substance behind them.

Author J.P. Holding of, responds to Kümmel's claims that Mark contains geographical errors:

Geographical errors in Mark. Kümmel [Kumm.Int, 97] accuses Mark of "numerous" geographical errors, but names only three: Mark 5:1 (the Gerasene swine), 7:31 (having to do with Tyre/Sidon and the Decapolis), and 10:1 (re the region of Judea). He indicates that a lack of knowledge of the geography of Palestine is against Markan authorship. In reply we may note:

The "errors" are a product of the imagination. Let's look at Kümmel's three ("numerous") citations, along with a couple of others.

Mark 5:1 They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.

How this qualifies as an "error" is beyond me. It is hardly a definitive statement, referring only to a "region" - as might be expected if the party landed in a countrified area, and if this is from a sermon of Peter to a Roman audience that really did not care where some out-in-the-boondocks locale was precisely located! The city of Gerasa was about 30 miles southeast of the traditional location of this event; that being so, to speak of being in the "region" is hardly any more erroneous than saying, after landing a boat thirty miles south of Milwaukee, that you have landed in the "region" of Milwaukee.

Mark 7:31 Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis.

This one is a little more complex, but no more problematic. It has been interpreted to mean that Jesus and His company went through Sidon to GET TO The Sea of Galilee, which would indeed be the wrong way - but what it means is that they had an itinerary of 1) Tyre, 2) Sidon, and THEN 3) the Sea and the Decapolis region. The journey to Sidon is NOT a case of "what they went through to get there," but, "where they went also." Glenn Miller has passed on to me this quote from Douglas Edwards, who, in his essay, "The Socio-Economic and Cultural Ethos in the First Century," has noted:

Indeed, even the Jesus movement's travel from Tyre to Sidon to the Decapolis depicted in Mark, which has struck some New Testament interpreters as evidence for an ignorance of Galilean geography, is, in fact, quite plausible. Josephus notes that during the reign of Antipas, while Herod Agrippa I was in Syria, a dispute regarding boundaries arose between Sidon and Damascus, a city of the Decapolis. It is therefore conceivable that the movement headed east toward Damascus and then south through the region of the Decapolis, following major roads linking Damascus with either Caesarea Philippi or Hippos. [GLA:59-60])

Skeptic Dennis McKinsey adds that he thinks that there was no place known as Decapolis until the time of Nero. No source is cited for this assertion, but he is apparently unaware that the Gospel of Mark was penned by someone who lived during and perhaps after the time of Nero.

Here's one from Anderson [Ander.GM, 31]:

Mark 8:10 he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha.

So what's wrong here? Well, Anderson complains that Dalmanutha is not referred to anywhere else in any extant literature! Considering how little literature we DO have from the first century, this is rather silly, and very much an argument from silence! (Some have regarded this as being the same as the village of Magdala, however.)

Finally, from Kümmel:

Mark 10:1a Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan.

??? - I am confounded again by Kümmel's confusion. Here again we have a very general statement of a "region" and perhaps what is probably an itinerary: 1) the region of Judea; 2) across the Jordan. Is Mark not being specific enough for Kümmel's tastes? If so, why should this be a problem? Other than that Peter's audience would (again) not care about such minor details, we may add that Mark was a native of Jerusalem (Acts 12:12), and thus an urbanite. As such, we would not expect him to make an exact fix on certain places that were either far from his home or out on the country somewhere. Not even I, acquainted as I am with atlases and road maps as part of my library work, can get more precise than this when referring to boondock areas only 100 or so miles from where I live! (Source:

Responding to the claim that the Baptist's death contradicts Palestinian customs, Holding writes:

Historical errors. I've found only one of these so far. Kümmel [ibid., 98] objects that the death of John the Baptist (Mark 6:17) "contradicts Palestinian custom." In reply I basically ask: "Eh?" Kümmel does not specify what he means, so I cannot be specific here; but it is foolish to assume that custom had some iron-fisted control that kept Palestinian people from making any variations. The grip of "custom" is no more made of iron today than it was 2000 years ago. (For details on this and the passage following, see here.) (Source)

For additional responses to some of the claims made by Kümmel please read the following articles:

So much for Kümmel!


To give an example, we read in the gospel according to Mark the following account:

"As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt there which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you,'Why are you doing this?' tell him, 'The lord needs it and will send it back shortly.'" They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, "What are you doing, untying the colt?" They answered that Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had out in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming of the kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!" Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late he went out to Bethany with the twelve." (Mark 11:1-11)

In Mark 10:46 however, we read that Jesus was in Jericho. The sentence above shows that Jesus and his group were travelling from Jericho to Jerusalem via Bethphage and then Bethany. This however is quite impossible. Bethany is further away from Jerusalem than Bethphage is. The Biblical theologian, D.E. Nineham, comments:

The geographical details make an impression of awkwardness, especially as Bethphage and Bethany are given in reverse order to that in which travellers from Jericho would reach them...and we must therefore assume that St Mark did not know the relative positions of the two villages on the Jericho road...[2]

The missionaries would obviously deny the above glaring error in Mark with their multiferous explanations. However the author of Matthew fully realised that Mark, who was supposedly "inspired", had made a gross factual error. Matthew, who copied Mark changed this passage to remove the error:

"When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives..." (Matthew 21:1)

Note that Matthew had removed the reference to Bethany completely from Mark's account. Again the most likely explanation is that Matthew noticed Mark's error and tried to correct it. As Randel Helms informs us:

Mark writes on the basis of a vague knowledge of Judaean geography, not knowing that one approaching Jerusalem from the east on the road from Jericho would reach first Bethany and then Bethphage, not the reverse order he indicates. However, the important location is the Mount of Olives; typology, not history, is at work here. The typological fiction continues on the basis of Zech. 9:9 LXX:

'Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion; proclaim it aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, the king is coming to thee, just and a Saviour [sozon, "saving"]; he is meek and riding on an ass, and a young foal [polon neon, a "new (unridden) foal"].'

It is only with this passage that we can understand why Mark has Jesus specify that his diciples obtain a "colt [polon] which no one has yet ridden" (Mark 11:2). Mark ignores the danger and unlikelihood of riding on an unbroken, untrained animal, assuming its miraculous tractability; typology rather than history is operative here.[3]

Who is correct, Matthew or Mark? Was Mark "inspired" or was Matthew "inspired" as far as the above passage is concerned?


First, the authors assume that Matthew was correcting Mark, instead of simply summarizing Mark's account (that is, of course, assuming that Matthew was in fact using Mark as a source). The authors base this on their erroneous presuppositions that the four Gospels are not the inspired records of the life and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. This assumption is itself based on the authors' beliefs that the Quran is the revealed word of God. Since these Gospels contradict the essential teachings of the Quran, the authors therefore assume that the Gospels must be in error. It is little wonder that the authors read the Gospel accounts with a critical approach which does not allow for the possibility of harmonization and are able to find "errors" and alleged "corrections" within the narratives.

Yet, this same approach can be applied more forcefully against the Quran. The Quran retells the same story with major verbal variations and contradictions. Due to space, we will limit ourselves to one example:

At length when the messengers arrived among the adherents of Lut, He said: "Ye appear to be uncommon folk." They said: "Yea, we have come to thee to accomplish that of which they doubt. We have brought to thee that which is inevitably due, and assuredly we tell the truth. Then travel by night with thy household, when a portion of the night (yet remains), and do thou bring up the rear: let no one amongst you look back, but pass on whither ye are ordered." And We made known this decree to him, that the last remnants of those (sinners) should be cut off by the morning. The inhabitants of the city came in (mad) joy (at news of the young men). Lut said: "These are my guests: disgrace me not: But fear God, and shame me not." They said: "Did we not forbid thee (to speak) for all and sundry?" He said: "There are my daughters (to marry), if ye must act (so)." Verily, by thy life (O Prophet), in their wild intoxication, they wander in distraction, to and fro. But the (mighty) Blast overtook them before morning, And We turned (the cities) upside down, and rained down on them brimstones hard as baked clay. S. 15:61-74

According to this passage, God sent angels to inform Lot that the sinners amongst his people would be cut off. Afterwards, the inhabitants tried to have their way with the guests. This leads Lot to defend his guests by offering his daughters in their place. Yet, one is left wondering why Lot felt the need to save the angels, especially since the angels informed him of their mission? Wasn't he aware that the angels had the power to protect themselves? Evidently not. But the story doesn't end there:

When fear had passed from (the mind of) Abraham and the glad tidings had reached him, he began to plead with us for Lut's people. For Abraham was, without doubt, forbearing (of faults), compassionate, and given to look to God. O Abraham! Seek not this. The decree of thy Lord hath gone forth: for them there cometh a penalty that cannot be turned back! When Our messengers came to Lut, he was grieved on their account and felt himself powerless (to protect) them. He said: "This is a distressful day." And his people came rushing towards him, and they had been long in the habit of practising abominations. He said: "O my people! Here are my daughters: they are purer for you (if ye marry)! Now fear God, and cover me not with shame about my guests! Is there not among you a single right-minded man?" They said: "Well dost thou know we have no need of thy daughters: indeed thou knowest quite well what we want!" He said: "Would that I had power to suppress you or that I could betake myself to some powerful support." (The Messengers) said: "O Lut! We are Messengers from thy Lord! By no means shall they reach thee! now travel with thy family while yet a part of the night remains, and let not any of you look back: but thy wife (will remain behind): To her w ill happen what happens to the people. Morning is their time appointed: Is not the morning nigh?" When Our Decree issued, We turned (the cities) upside down, and rained down on them brimstones hard as baked clay, spread, layer on layer,- Marked as from thy Lord: Nor are they ever far from those who do wrong! S. 11:74-83

This passage has the angels identifying themselves and informing Lot of the impending disaster ONLY AFTER Lot tried to protect them. This last version makes more sense, since there would have been no need for Lot to offer his daughters if in fact he had already known their identity.

As they stand, these accounts pose major problems for the authors since they do not believe that multiple authors wrote the Quran, unlike the four Gospels which were written by different persons. Rather, they believe that there was only one author, namely God. Yet, if God had dictated the Quran to Muhammad we would not expect to find major verbal variations and contradictions in these parallel accounts. Instead, we would think that God would have repeated the same event in exactly the same way. That this is not what we find only proves that the Quran is not from God, but is the work of multiple writers. This means that the final compilers of the Quran did a very poor job of editing the book since traces of these conflicting sources can still be seen today. We wonder what "multiferous explanations" the authors will give to defend these gross errors from their all-knowing "deity".

For more examples of parallel Quranic accounts which conflict please read the following articles:

Secondly, the authors' claim that Matthew "FULLY REALISED" Mark's alleged error is more an indication of the authors' real motives than it is of Matthew. The only way the authors could know FOR CERTAIN whether Matthew thought that Mark was in error is to have been present during the time Matthew wrote his Gospel. Since this is not possible, the claim that Matthew "FULLY REALISED" there was an error is purely mythical to say the least. Apparently aware of this, the authors contradict themselves, since they write:

... Again THE MOST LIKELY EXPLANATION is that Matthew noticed Mark's error and tried to correct it ...

The authors now go from claiming that Matthew "FULLY REALISED" Mark's error to claiming that it is MOST LIKELY that Matthew noticed the error, a contradiction.

Thirdly, the authors' argument also takes for granted that Matthew used Mark as one of his sources, which may quite well be the case. Yet, scholars are divided over whether Matthew used Mark, or whether Mark used Mathew, or whether Matthew and Mark had a common source from which they derived their information. This in itself should have cautioned the authors from making a hasty generalization. Taking for granted that Matthew did use Mark, this still wouldn't prove that the former "corrected" the latter's alleged "mistakes". All it proves is that in certain instances Matthew simply summarized the material found in Mark.

Fourthly, the authors need to insert words into the text of Mark in order to make their claim stick. Note what they wrote:

... The sentence above shows that Jesus and his group were travelling from Jericho to Jerusalem via Bethphage AND THEN Bethany ...

Since Mark nowhere says that Christ and his followers went to Bethpage AND THEN to Bethany, we see that the authors are really trying to desperately find an error. This again exposes their underlying motives in trying to undermine the Gospels any way they can, even if it means adding words to the text. J.P. Holding addresses this in his response to Helms:

To be quite candid, Helms here is just doing his usual schtick...quoting liberal NT scholars uncritically. There are several things to note here before we go charging Mark with an error:

In short, no error here, except due to the usual problem of skeptical overreading. (Source)

The Muslim writers continue:


Bruce M. Metzger makes mention of several internal and geographical errors within the New Testament in which later scribes attempted to clear away:

A few scribes attempted to harmonize the Johannine account of the chronology of the Passion with that in Mark by changing 'sixth hour' of John xix. 14 to 'third hour' (which appears in Mark xv. 25). At John i. 28 Origen 1 altered in order to remove what he regarded as a geographical difficulty, and this reading is extant today in MSS. 33 69 and many others, including those which lie behind the King James version. The statement in Mark viii. 31, that 'the Son of man must suffer many things...and be killed and aftee: three days rise again', seems to involve a chronological difficulty, and some copyists changed the phrase to the more familiar expression, 'on the third day' . The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews places the golden altar of incense in the Holy of Holies (Heb. ix. 4), which is contrary to the Old Testament description of the Tabernacle (Exod. xxx. 1-6). The scribe of codex Vaticanus and the translator of the Ethiopic version correct the account by transferring the words to ix. 2, where the furniture of the Holy Place is itemized.[4]


We have thus shown that the scribes of the New Testament were certainly aware of the presence of errors, in this case geographical errors, within the New Testament text. That is why they had proceeded to clear up whatever obvious errors that recur within their texts. Many of such errors were thus "corrected" over the passage of time whereas others that escape "correction" are vehemently defended by current-day missionaries with the preference to use a number of highly-imaginative mental gymnastics.

And only God knows best!


First, as far Origen is concerned let us highlight Metzger's words in order to carefully note what he said:

At John i. 28 Origen 1 altered in order to remove WHAT HE REGARDED as a geographical difficulty, and this reading is extant today in MSS.

The fact that Origen regarded John 1:28 to be an error is not a reflection on the inspired author's accuracy. It is simply an error on Origen's part for assuming such. Second, the authors quote Metzger's section on variant readings to cast doubt on the accurate transmission of the text, but fail to quote Metzger in context:

"LEST THE FOREGOING EXAMPLES OF ALTERATIONS SHOULD GIVE THE IMPRESSION THAT SCRIBES WERE ALTOGETHER WILLFUL AND CAPRICIOUS IN TRANSMITTING ANCIENT COPIES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, it ought to be noted that other evidence points to the careful and painstaking work on the part of many faithful copyists. There are, for example, instances of difficult readings which have been transmitted with scrupulous fidelity. Thus elthen at Gal. ii. 12 yields no good sense and can scarcely be the form intended by the author. Nevertheless, the scribes of the earliest manuscripts? refrained from correcting it to elthon. Another instance of a manifestly erroneous reading is ei tis splagchna kai oiktirmoi at Phil. ii. 1, which could have arisen when the original amanuensis misunderstood Paul's pronunciation of ei ti splagchna ... However the solecism may have originated, the significant point is that all uncials and most minuscules have transmitted it with conscientious exactness.

"Even in incidental details one observes the faithfulness of scribes. For example, the scribe of codex Vaticanus copied quite mechanically the section numbers which run in one series throughout the corpus of the Pauline Epistles, even though this series had been drawn up when the Epistle to the Hebrews stood between Galatians and Ephesians and is therefore not suitable for the present sequence of the Epistles in Vaticanus. These examples of dogged fidelity on the part of the scribes COULD BE MULTIPLIED, AND SERVE TO COUNTERBALANCE, TO SOME EXTENT, THE IMPRESSION WHICH THIS CHAPTER MAY OTHERWISE MAKE UPON THE BEGINNER IN NEW TESTAMENT TEXTUAL CRITICISM." (Metzger, The Text of the New Testament. Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, p. 206; bold and capital emphasis ours)


"One must admit the theoretical legitimacy of applying to the New Testament a process which has so often been found essential in the restoration of the right text in classical authors. On the other hand, the amount of evidence for the text of the New Testament, whether derived from early manuscripts, early versions, or patristic quotations, is so much greater than that available for any ancient classical author that the necessity of resorting to emendation IS REDUCED TO THE SMALLEST DIMENSIONS." (Ibid., 185; emphasis ours)

As Metzger's comments above imply, the fact of the matter is that ALL ancient documents have come down to us with variant readings and scribal corruptions. Yet no honest textual critic would deny that these documents have been transmitted accurately in spite of variant readings. That is unless, of course, one's a priori assumptions won't allow for the MSS evidence and the results of textual criticism, which establishes the authenticity and preservation of the NT documents, to speak for themselves.

Furthermore, the Quran itself has thousands of variants and scribal corruptions. Here are a few examples:

Addition to Sura 92

Surah 92:3 reads:

YUSUFALI: By (the mystery of) the creation of (wama khalaqa) male and female;-

PICKTHAL: And Him Who hath created male and female,

SHAKIR: And the creating of the male and the female,

Yet according to the following hadiths, the phrase "by Him who created (ma khalaqa)" is an addition to the text that some like Ibn Masud said shouldn't be there:

Narrated Alqama:
I went to Sham and was offering a two-Rak'at prayer; I said, "O Allah! Bless me with a (pious) companion." Then I saw an old man coming towards me, and when he came near I said, (to myself), "I hope Allah has given me my request." The man asked (me), "Where are you from?" I replied, "I am from the people of Kufa." He said, "Weren't there amongst you the Carrier of the (Prophet's) shoes, Siwak and the ablution water container? Weren't there amongst you the man who was given Allah's Refuge from the Satan? And weren't there amongst you the man who used to keep the (Prophet's) secrets which nobody else knew? How did Ibn Um 'Abd (i.e. 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud) use to recite Surat-al-lail (the Night: 92)?" I recited:--

"By the Night as it envelops By the Day as it appears in brightness. And by male and female." (92.1-3) On that, Abu Darda said, "BY ALLAH, the Prophet made me read the Verse in this way after listening to him, but these people (of Sham) TRIED THEIR BEST to let me say something different." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 57, Number 105)

Narrated Ibrahim:
The companions of 'Abdullah (bin Mas'ud) came to Abu Darda', (and before they arrived at his home), he looked for them and found them. Then he asked them,: "Who among you can recite (Qur'an) as 'Abdullah recites it?" They replied, "All of us." He asked, "Who among you knows it by heart?" They pointed at 'Alqama. Then he asked Alqama."How did you hear 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud reciting Surat Al-Lail (The Night)?" Alqama recited:

By the male and the female.’ Abu Ad-Darda said, "I TESTIFY that I heard the Prophet reciting it likewise, but these people want me to recite it:--

‘And by Him Who created male and female.’ BUT BY ALLAH, I WILL NOT FOLLOW THEM." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 468; see also Volume 5, Book 57, Number 85)

Missing Part On Muhammad's Fatherhood:

Yusuf Ali records that S. 33:6 in the text of Ubay b. Ka'b read differently from the Uthmanic text. The Uthmanic text presently reads:

"The prophet is closer to the believers than their own selves, and his wives are their mothers."

Yet Ubay's codex read:

"The prophet is closer to the believers than their own selves, and he is a father to them, and his wives are their mothers."

Hence, Yusuf Ali states:

"In spiritual relationship the Prophet is entitled to more respect and consideration than blood-relations. The Believers should follow him rather than their fathers or mothers or brothers, where there is conflict of duties. He is even nearer - closer to our real interests - than our own selves. IN SOME QIRAATS, LIKE THAT OF UBAI IBN KA'B, occur also the words ‘and he is a father to them,’ which imply his spiritual relationship and connect on with the words, ‘and his wives are their mothers.’ Thus his spiritual fatherhood would be contrasted pointedly with the repudiation of the vulgar superstition of calling any one like Zaid ibn Haritha by the appellation Zaid ibn Muhammad (xxxiii. 40): such an appellation is really disrespectful to the Prophet." (Ali, The Holy Qur'an, p. 1104, f. 3674)

Missing Part On Asr Prayer

Yahya related to me from Malik from Zayd ibn Aslam from al-Qaqa ibn Hakim that Abu Yunus, the mawla of A'isha, umm al-muminin said, "A'isha ordered me to write out a Qur'an for her. She said, ‘When you reach this ayat, let me know, "Guard the prayers carefully and the middle prayer and stand obedient to Allah."’ When I reached it I told her, and she dictated to me, ‘Guard the prayers carefully and the middle prayer and the asr prayer and stand obedient to Allah.’ A'isha said, ‘I heard it from the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.’" (Malik's Muwatta, Book 8, Number 8.8.26)

Yahya related to me from Malik from Zayd ibn Aslam that Amr ibn Rafi said, "I was writing a Qur'an for Hafsa, umm al-muminin, and she said, ‘When you reach this ayat, let me know, "Guard the prayers carefully and the middle prayer and stand obedient to Allah."’ When I reached it I told her and she dictated to me, ‘Guard the prayers carefully and the middle prayer and the asr prayer and stand obedient to Allah.’" (Malik's Muwatta, Book 8, Number 8.8.27)

Compare it with today's present text:

"Be guardians of your prayers, and of the midmost prayer, and stand up with devotion to Allah." S. 2:238 Pickthall

Missing Verse On Suckling

Narrated Aisha:
It had been revealed in the Qur'an that ten clear sucklings make the marriage unlawful, then it was abrogated (and substituted) by five sucklings and Allah's Apostle (peace_be_upon_him) died and it was before that time (found) in the Qur'an (and recited by the Muslims). (Sahih Muslim, Book 8, Number 3421)

Missing Verse On Stoning

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:
'Umar said, "I am afraid that after a long time has passed, people may say, "We do not find the Verses of the Rajam (stoning to death) in the Holy Book," and consequently they may go astray by leaving an obligation that Allah has revealed. Lo! I confirm that the penalty of Rajam be inflicted on him who commits illegal sexual intercourse, if he is already married and the crime is proved by witnesses or pregnancy or confession." Sufyan added, "I have memorized this narration in this way." 'Umar added, "Surely Allah's Apostle carried out the penalty of Rajam, and so did we after him." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 82, Number 816)

... In the meantime, 'Umar sat on the pulpit and when the callmakers for the prayer had finished their call, 'Umar stood up, and having glorified and praised Allah as He deserved, he said, "Now then, I am going to tell you something which (Allah) has written for me to say. I do not know; perhaps it portends my death, so whoever understands and remembers it, must narrate it to the others wherever his mount takes him, but if somebody is afraid that he does not understand it, then it is unlawful for him to tell lies about me. Allah sent Muhammad with the Truth and revealed the Holy Book to him, and among what Allah revealed, was the Verse of the Rajam (the stoning of married person (male & female) who commits illegal sexual intercourse, and we did recite this Verse and understood and memorized it. Allah's Apostle did carry out the punishment of stoning and so did we after him.

I am afraid that after a long time has passed, somebody will say, ‘By Allah, we do not find the Verse of the Rajam in Allah's Book,’ and thus they will go astray by leaving an obligation which Allah has revealed. And the punishment of the Rajam is to be inflicted to any married person (male & female), who commits illegal sexual intercourse, if the required evidence is available or there is conception or confession. And then we used to recite among the Verses in Allah's Book: ‘O people! Do not claim to be the offspring of other than your fathers, as it is disbelief (unthankfulness) on your part that you claim to be the offspring of other than your real father’ ..." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 82, Number 817; see also Vol. 9, No. 424)

Notice that this hadith mentions an additional verse, besides the one on stoning, which is not found in the Quran!

Missing Bismillah

Ibn 'Abbas asked `Uthman what possessed him to place surat al Anfal, one of the mathani, with Bara'a, one of the mi'in, join them with no bismillah between them and place them among the seven lengthy suras. `Uthman replied that often the Prophet received quite long revelations. He would call for one of the scribes and say, ‘Put these verses in the sura in which so-and-so occurs.’ Anfal was among the first of the Medina revelations and Bara'a among the last. Since its contents resembled those of Anfal, `Uthman took it to belong with it, for the Prophet had died without explaining that it was part of it. (p. 164, Jalal al Din `Abdul Rahman b. abi Bakr al Suyuti, al Itqan fi `ulum al Qur'an, Halabi, Cairo, 1935/1354, pt 1, p. 60)

Malik had a shorter explanation for the absence of this bismillah. The beginning of Bara'a fell out and its bismillah fell out with it. (p. 164-165, Jalal al Din `Abdul Rahman b. abi Bakr al Suyuti, al Itqan fi `ulum al Qur'an, Halabi, Cairo, 1935/1354, pt 1, p. 65)

Missing Part On "Valley of Riches"

Anas b. Malik reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: If there were two valleys of gold for the son of Adam, he would long for another one, and his mouth will not be filled but with dust, and Allah returns to him who repents. (Sahih Muslim, Number 2284)

Ibn'Abbas reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: If there were for the son of Adam a valley full of riches, he would long to possess another one like it, and Ibn Adam does not feel satiated but with dust. And Allah returns to him who returns (to Him). Ibn 'Abbas said: I do not know whether it is from the Qur'an or not; and in the narration transmitted by Zuhair it was said: I do not know whether it is from the Qur'an, and he made no mention of Ibn 'Abbas. (Sahih Muslim, Number 2285)

The following list of variant readings is taken from Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 30, Dialects and Readings of the Qur'an (Kitab Al-Huruf Wa Al-Qira'at). We are using the translation done by Prof. Ahmad Hasan (Sh. Muhammad Ashraf Publishers, Booksellers & Exporters; Lahore, Pakistan, 1984), Volume III. Some of these ahadith can also be found at this online hadith database

Shahr ibn Hawshab said: I asked Umm Salamah: How did the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) read this verse: "For his conduct is unrighteous" (innahu 'amalun ghayru salih)? She replied: He read it: "He acted unrighteously" (innahu 'amila ghayra salih). (Sunan Abu Dawud, Number 3972)

Ibn al-Musayyab said: The Prophet (may peace be upon him), Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman used to read: "maliki yawmi ‘l-din (master of the Day of Judgment)." The first to read maliki yawmid-din was Marwan. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Number 3989)

Shaqiq said: Ibn Ma‘sud read the verse: "Now come thou" (haita laka). Then Shaqiq said: We read it, "hi ‘tu laka" (I am prepared for thee). Ibn Ma‘sud said: I read it as I have been taught; IT IS DEARER TO ME. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Number 3939)

We wonder what highly-imaginative mental gymnastics the authors will employ to explain away the corruption and variant readings of their false book. In fact, we wonder what "multiferous explanations" the authors will employ in reconciling the following Quranic contradictions:

As the saying goes, don't throw stones if you live in a glass house. As far as the authors’ glass house is concerned, it came crashing down a long time ago, along with their false book. This is especially so when we take into consideration that their false prophet confirmed the Holy Bible as the pure Word of God:

This concludes our rebuttal.

MENJ and Bravo later added some more material to their article. Here is our response.

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