Muhammad and the Issue of Plagiarism

Applying TM’s Methodology Against Islam

In this section we would like to apply the authors’ criticism of Paul against their own prophet in order to show how it backfires against them, leaving them in a major mess. The Muslim authors (Tera Tak Adamar & Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi; TM for short) tried to discredit the Apostle based on the erroneous assumption that Paul quoted an apocryphal source. The entire thrust of the Muslim paper was that Paul’s statement is not inspired because it comes from non-canonical sources, i.e. this statement is ultimately NOT from God. The first part of our response had the purpose to give a thorough answer to those charges. We feel that from a Christian perspective we have dealt with the issues in a satisfactory way.

However, since the charge against Paul came from Muslims, the following becomes a relevant argument. We would like to show that if the authors were to use their methodology fairly and consistently they would then have to discredit their own prophet. As we shall see, it was Muhammad, not Paul, who tried to pass off apocryphal material as revelation.

To begin with, we demonstrated in the foregoing section that the form of the quote in 1 Cor. 2:9 is unique to the Apostle Paul, being his way of paraphrasing and/or combining texts in generalizing an OT theme. The quote reflects Paul’s own wording and summary of God’s promise to believers. The most astonishing aspect about all this is that Muhammad cites 1 Cor. 2:9 and attributes it to God. Compare these statements:

However, as it is written:
   "No eye has seen,
     no ear has heard,
     no mind has conceived

   what God has prepared for those who love him." (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, "ALLAH SAID, ‘I have prepared for My righteous slaves (such excellent things)
as no eye has ever seen, nor an ear has ever heard nor a human heart can ever think of.’"
(Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 589)

According to this hadith from al-Bukhari, Allah uttered the above words that are obviously taken and only slightly modified from what the beloved Apostle wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians. Muhammad evidently plagiarized Paul’s quote and passed it off as revelation from God. Do keep in mind that the wording is Paul’s own summation of the OT and cannot be found in any source predating Paul’s writings.

With that said, this leaves the Muslim authors with a couple of dilemmas. First, they have to choose one of the following alternatives:

A. The statement found in Paul’s "quote" is NOT of divine origin. Then Muhammad is attributing to God what was not from God (whatever the source of the quote, whether from some apocryphal text, or made up by Paul, or whatever), and then Muhammad is disqualified as a true prophet

B. The statement in 1 Cor. 2:9 IS of divine origin whether it is quoted exactly from some source that is now lost, or whether God inspired Paul to write it this way even though it is only a paraphrase of earlier scriptures. In any case, if God is the source, then the Muslim argument against Paul on the basis of 1 Cor. 2:9 is dead and the authors should issue an apology and withdraw this article.

In light of the foregoing the authors are now left in a very uncomfortable position. If their claim that Paul quoted from the Apocalypse of Elijah is correct then Muhammad is also guilty of plagiarizing from the same book. Yet if they are wrong (which they clearly are) they are still left with the problem of Muhammad plagiarizing a quote which first appears in the writings of the Apostle Paul. The authors will then have to make up their mind whether the statement is of divine origin or not.

The problems are far from over. If they admit that the statement in 1 Cor. 2:9 is of divine origin then the authors must retract their criticism of Paul and accept the fact that he was inspired by God. Hence, the result of their position is not only that one argument against Paul did not work out, but it backfires because it becomes an argument FOR Paul. The authors must now explain to their readers (as well as to themselves) how Paul – who is supposedly an enemy of the true God and the true religion – was able to utter divine revelation which cannot be traced to any earlier source. If Paul’s letter is the earliest source containing this inspired statement, then this makes Paul a true apostle.

The only real reason they wouldn’t retract their statement and embrace Paul as an inspired Apostle is because it destroys their entire tirade against Christianity, and exposes Muhammad as a false prophet.

To appreciate the full force of the problem, Muhammad’s plagiarism of Paul’s words needs to be put in its wider context since this is not the first time Muhammad has taken and modified citations from the NT and passed it off as his own.

Example 1

Narrated AbudDarda':
I heard the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) say: If any of you is suffering from anything or his brother is suffering, he should say: Our Lord is Allah Who is in the heaven, holy is Thy name, Thy command reigns supreme in the heaven and the earth, as Thy mercy in the heaven, make Thy mercy in the earth; forgive us our sins, and our errors; Thou art the Lord of good men; send down mercy from Thy mercy, and remedy, and remedy from Thy remedy on this pain so that it is healed up. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 28, Number 3883)

"After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen." Matthew 6:9-13

Example 2

Narrated AbuUmamah
Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said, "Blessed is he who has seen me, but seven times blessed is he who has not seen me but has believed in me."
Ahmad transmitted it. (Number 1688; taken from the ALIM CD-ROM Version)

"Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’" John 20:29

Example 3

Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Umar:
I heard Allah's Apostle while he was standing on the pulpit, saying, "The remaining period of your stay (on the earth) in comparison to the nations before you, is like the period between the 'Asr prayer and sunset. The people of the Torah were given the Torah and they acted upon it till midday, and then they were worn out and were given for their labor, one Qirat each. Then the people of the Gospel were given the Gospel and they acted upon it till the time of the 'Asr prayer, and then they were worn out and were given (for their labor), one Qirat each. Then you people were given the Quran and you acted upon it till sunset and so you were given two Qirats each (double the reward of the previous nations)." Then the people of the Torah said, 'O our Lord! These people have done a little labor (much less than we) but have taken a greater reward.' Allah said, 'Have I withheld anything from your reward?' They said, 'No.' Then Allah said, 'That is My Favor which I bestow on whom I wish.'" (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 559)

"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.' So they went. He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?' 'Because no one has hired us,' they answered. He said to them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard.' When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.' The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 'These men who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.' But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?' So the last will be first, and the first will be last." Matthew 20:1-16

Example 4

Hadith Qudsi 18:

On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: Allah (mighty and sublime be He) will say on the Day of Resurrection:

O son of Adam, I fell ill and you visited Me not. He will say: O Lord, and how should I visit You when You are the Lord of the worlds? He will say: Did you not know that My servant So-and-so had fallen ill and you visited him not? Did you not know that had you visited him you would have found Me with him? O son of Adam, I asked you for food and you fed Me not. He will say: O Lord, and how should I feed You when You are the Lord of the worlds? He will say: Did you not know that My servant So-and-so asked you for food and you fed him not? Did you notknow that had you fed him you would surely have found that (the reward for doing so) with Me? O son of Adam, I asked you to give Me to drink and you gave Me not to drink. He will say: O Lord, how should I give You to drink when You are the Lord of the worlds? He will say: My servant So-and-so asked you to give him to drink and you gave him not to drink. Had you given him to drink you would have surely found that with Me.

It was related by Muslim. (Source)

In the Gospel we read that Jesus spoke the following words about his second coming and the judgment of the nations:

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by MY FATHER; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." Matthew 25:31-46

The foregoing shows how possible it was for Muhammad to take material from Paul and pass it off as revelation he had received from God. We leave it to the authors to try and get out of the mess they created by their assault on the inspired and beloved Apostle of the risen Christ.

Muhammad and His Use of Non-Canonical Apocryphal Sources

Our final section examines just one example of Muhammad’s use of non-canonical sources which he assumed to be part of God’s revelation. For instance, we read in the Mishkat Al-Masabih:

'Umar b. al-Khattab and Anas b. Malik reported God's messenger as saying that it is written in the Torah, "If anyone does not give his daughter in marriage when she reaches twelve and she commits sin, the guilt of that rests on him." Baihaqi transmitted both traditions in Shu'ab al-Iman. (Mishkat Al-Masabih English Translation With Explanatory Notes by Dr. James Robson, Volume I [Sh. Muhammad Ahsraf Publishers, Booksellers & Exporters, Lahore-Pakistan, Reprint 1990], Book XIII, Chapter III, section III, p. 667)

In response to the use of the preceding hadith by Christians to support their position that both the Quran and hadith confirm the preservation of the Bible, Laura Poyneer notes:

I noticed on one of your pages, responding to some claims about the Bible from the hadiths, a hadith in which the Prophet (sAas) quoted the Torah to say that daughters should be married off soon after age twelve. Obviously, this statement does not appear in the Torah of today or even the Old Testament. However, it is interesting to note the following:

From 'Everyman's Talmud' by Abraham Cohen, page 162: "With regard to a girl, it was urged that the father's duty was to secure a husband for her at an early age. The verse 'Profane not thy daughter to make her a harlot' (Leviticus 19:29) was applied to a man 'who delays in arranging a marriage while she is of suitable age' (Sanhedrin 76a). She was considered to have arrived at this stage when she passed her twelfth birthday"

The statement of the Prophet (sAas) seems clearly to be based on the above. Therefore, it appears that the Prophet (sAas) was not quoting the Torah directly, but was quoting an interpretation of a verse that DOES appear in the Torah, as given by Jewish scholars. It is also possible that it was presented to the Prophet (sAas) as a statement in the Torah rather than as the interpretation of the Torah[2]. Allah SWT knows best. (Source; bold emphasis ours)

[ Note: between the drafting of this article and its publication, the name of the author was changed from "Laura Poyneer" to "anonymous" on the above webpage. The same change was made also in her article regarding the relationship between Gabriel and the Holy Spirit. ]

In a footnote to the above, Moiz Amjad writes:

[1] It is also possible that:

Neither of Mr. Amjad’s explanations will work if one assumes that Allah inspired Muhammad. If one accepts Amjad’s first explanation then we need to ask why didn’t Allah inform Muhammad that this wasn’t part of the actual Torah? The second option fairs no better since Muhammad didn’t simply refer to the laws of the Jews, but to what was written in the Torah. According to the Quran, that Torah refers to the revelation that Allah gave to Israel via the prophets; it does not refer to the rabbinic additions and commentaries of it.

Now the authors may wish to say that even the Holy Bible doesn’t always use the word Torah or Law in reference to the books of Moses, but uses it in a broader sense as well. The problem with this claim is that neither the OT nor the NT uses the word Torah for anything other than the inspired revealed inscripturated Word of God. For instance, when the Lord Jesus and the Apostles use the word Law in a broader sense, it is always in reference to the inspired OT scriptures, never to the Apocrypha or to the Jewish traditions. See the following article for details:


It is clear that if any charge of borrowing should be hurled, it must be hurled against Muhammad as the above examples have shown. Instances of borrowing, however, are found not only in the ahadith (sayings of Muhammad); the Quran itself contains much apocryphal material, an issue discussed in detail in our section "Sources of the Qur’an". It is claimed that Muhammad was 'inspired by God' to recite the Quran, yet we see the borrowing of extra-canonical sources, in our final example from a talmudic book that never was part of the Bible! The above exposition should be able to raise serious doubts about the sources of the writings which Muslims hold dear as the "divinely-dictated" 'Word of God'.

Sam Shamoun and Jochen Katz

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