The orientalists, The seerah and the quran-7

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The orientalists, The seerah and the quran-7

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Thread: The orientalists, The seerah and the quran-7

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    Default The orientalists, The seerah and the quran-7

    The orientalists, The seerah and the quran-7

    Jassim Ibn Dayan


    The orientalists allege that the Quran reproduces the contemporary errors about the nature of the earth and sky. One of them reproduces translations of about eight verses from the Quran and says that the Quran addresses its first audience, the Arabs, in terms of their own world picture. He generously suggests that it was not essential for gods purpose that false ideas of this sort should be corrected, since the Quranic message could be communicated to them (the Arabs) without straightening these beliefs.
    In asserting these statements the orientalists are actually reflecting the modern Christians attitude and indifference to his own sacred scriptures, due to general awareness from the nineteenth century of the existence of a number of scientific inaccuracies in the Biblical texts. In view of these inaccuracies the opinion first gained ground that there was antagonism between science and religion. Gradually however, the notion of a text of revelation communicated by God gave way to the idea of text inspired by God but written down by human beings. The Biblical authors, it came to be assumed, might have introduced inaccuracies to the text arising from the language of the day or from ideas and traditions still honored and prevalent at the time, but that did not deter them from their being divinely inspired. The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) adopted a document, which recognizes that the Books of the Old Testament contain material that is imperfect and obsolete.
    The scientific errors in the Bible are the errors of mankind, for long ago man was like a child, as yet ignorant of science, states an eminent modern Christian thinker. The natural question would be,Does this apply to the Knowledge of God not bound by time, about His own creation which includes science?
    There are numerous verses in the Quran, which invite man to research and study the universe.
    Say: Travel in the land and see how (Allah) originated creation. Ch 29: V20
    The significance accorded by the Quran to the study of the universe can be measured by the fact that while there are 150 verses on belief and precepts, there are 756 verses on natural phenomena.
    F.1 Regarding the shape of the earth.
    One of the orientalist writers (Watt) recognizes that different words are used in the Quran to describe the earth and that there is no special emphasis on flatness. But he says that all the expressions would be interpreted by the hearers in terms of their belief that the earth is flat, for no one supposed that the earth would be otherwise.
    However, in his own words Watt admits that the passages do not give the expression that the earth is flat, unless approached with such a notion. In other words, if a modern man with his scientific knowledge approaches these verses, it will be found that the very passages cited by Watt are full of unprecedented scientific significance not only with regard to the earth but also regarding other matters.
    The word ARD occurs in the Quran some 461 times. Most of these uses are in connection with a description of Gods absolute dominion over the entire universe and His power of creation. In a number of places the word clearly comes in the sense of country or dominion, while at other places it is used metaphorically to denote worldly life.
    Without going into detailed analysis, it can be easily shown that the writer has used his limited knowledge of translation to make such statements, while the Quranic word provides the meaning of a sphere. Some of the verses selected by the orientalists and their correct meaning are as follows:
    Sutihat (Ch 88:V 20) means surface, outer layer, outer cover, roof, deck, plane etc. With the modern knowledge it is established that the interior of earth is full of gaseous and liquid materials (lava) and that the land surface is only an outer cover resembling the skin of an egg. In Ch 88: V19, it shows how the mountains have been set up, the more appropriate and accurate meaning would be (Do they not look) to the earth how it has been surfaced and planed?
    Mihada means resting place, habitat, abode, bosom, cradle and figuratively fold (in which something rests). So the correct translation would read as Have We not made the earth as a cradle? Ch 78: V6.
    Muddat Ch 84: V3 clearly bears the meaning of is flattened. When read with Ch 84: V4 it would mean, And when the earth is flattened and it throws off what is in it and gets emptied. This is a description of what will happen when the earth (world) is brought to an end and the resurrection takes place.
    Dahaha Ch 79: V30. Keeping in view of the root word provides a very positive Quranic evidence in support of spherical shape of the earth. The root word Dhaha means to shaped like an egg.
    These passages wherein occur any description of its shape and nature may be divided into two categories.
    In one category it is mentioned in combination with or in comparison to the mountains and rivers. Here the emphasis is on how the earth has been made suitable and useful for man and other creatures. The readers attention is drawn to the objects of nature and land surface falling within his immediate view. This can be seen in the first three examples above.
    In the second category of passages the word occurs in relation to the sun, the moon, the skies and the universe in general. Here the earth is spoken of as a unit and the description really gives an insight into its shape, position and even movement in shape. This can be seen in the last example above.


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    The orientalists suggest that the Quran only picked up the prevailing erroneous notion and conceive the sky to be something built on solid materials presumably of stone.
    The Quran does not give any indication that the sky was built on solid materials or stone. Instead a careful glance into the verses will show some startling scientific details, some of which are still in the process of discovery.
    The sky at the beginning was only smoke (or vaporous or gaseous) Ch 41: V11.
    The sky and the earth were initially one mass but they were subsequently cloven asunder. Ch 21: V30.
    The Quran speaks of seven skies in at least 9 places.
    Three of the eight passages cited by one of the orientalists (Watt) to prove, what he supposes to be scientific errors in the Quran, contain at least three such facts and run directly counter to his assumption.
    These facts are:
    That God has shaped the earth like an egg Ch 79: V30; and that He makes the night cover the day (Ch 13: V3) which is a further indication of the spherical nature of the earth;
    That plants and fruits, besides other objects, are created in pairs (of sexes) Ch 13: V3;
    That the sky (space) is continually expanding Ch 51: V47.
    These and other statements such as that the whole universe is traveling at a tremendous speed are complete with scientific truths, which the modern world with the latest scientific equipment is still unraveling.
    As such, the assumption that the Quranic view of the sky and earth is primitive, reflecting the knowledge of the seventh century is wrong. Instead, it exposes the authors approach to the Quran with the primitive notion, putting a very narrow construction on them.
    These authors ignore a number of other statements in the Quran that are surprisingly in accordance with modern scientific information about the sky and the significance of which may be fully appreciated with further progress of our scientific knowledge. Volumes have been written about the Quranic contribution to science and social education, and as such it is not necessary to dwell further in this subject.
    The orientalists allege that the Prophet (pbuh) was worried about the enmity of the non-believers in Makkah. In such a state of mind one day went to Kaba where he recited to the gathering of believers and non-believers Surah al-Najm 53 which is said to have been revealed in full at that time.
    The allegation is that during the course of its recitation when he uttered the verses 19-20, Do you see al Lat and al Uzza and the other third Manat? Satan threw in the couplet Those are the swans exalted; verily their intercession is to be expected.
    The Prophet (pbuh) then completed the Sura and at the end of it, went into prostration in compliance with the last verse. All those present there, the believers and non-believers also did so except an old Quraish leader (Umayyah ibn Khalaf or Al-Walid ibn al Mughira or Abu Umayyah) who raised a handful of dust and touched it with his forehead saying that would suffice for him. The leaders of the Quraish who themselves prostrated are then said to have justified their prostration by saying that since the Prophet had recognized the position of their goddesses as intercessors with Allah, there was in fact no point of quarrel between themselves and him.
    Afterwards, in the evening (some versions do not specify any time) Jibril came to the Prophet and asked him to recite the Surah, which he did, still retaining the Satanic Verses. Jibril protested, saying that those were not what had been revealed. At this, the Prophet became very sad and apprehensive of Allahs wrath. Thereupon two separate passages, Ch 17: V73-75 and Ch 22: V52 were revealed reassuring the Prophet (pbuh) and the Satanic Verses were repealed. The Quraish leaders became angry and renewed their enmity and opposition with increased vehemence. Meanwhile the news of non-believers prostration reached Abysinnia in the form of rumor of their compromise with the Prophet (pbuh) and the Muslims who migrated to Abyssinia returned to Makkah.
    The story is so manifestly absurd and untrue that it ought to have been rejected outright as such and not recorded by the chroniclers and traditionalists. But since some of them have recorded it, it has often been cited as ground for its genuineness, rather than the obviously discrediting features of the story itself.
    Imam Fakhr al-Din al-Razi correctly points out that those who have critically looked at the story have all rejected it as spurious on the grounds of its conflict with the clear testimony of the Quran, the rules governing the genuineness of traditions and the dictates of reason.
    The Quranic evidence against the genuineness of the story is of three kinds.
    There are a number of statements in the Quran that show that neither Satan nor anyone else could interfere during the process of a revelation. Neither did the Prophet (pbuh) ever entertain any intention of making compromise with the unbelieving leaders, nor did he ever interpolate in the text of the revelation.
    The passages cited as having been revealed as a sequel to the incident and for reassuring the Prophet (pbuh) prove to the contrary, showing that he had not made even the slightest move towards making a compromise with the unbelieving leaders.
    The internal evidence of Surah al Najm (53), in connection with the revelation of which the story has been foisted, goes against its spirit and purpose.
    The passages from the Quran that directly belie the story are as follows:
    And if he (Muhammad pbuh) had forged a false saying concerning Us (Allah), We surely should have seized him by the right hand And then should have surely cut off his life artery (Aorta). Ch 69: V 44-46.
    Say; it is not for me, of my own accord, to change it (the revelation). I only follow that which is revealed unto me. Ch 10: V15
    No falsehood can approach it from the front, nor from the rear (i.e. neither directly nor indirectly). It is sent-down from Allah the All-Wise, the All-Praiseworthy. Ch 41: V42
    We indeed have sent down the Dhikr (the Quran) and surely We will guard it (from corruption). Ch 15: V9
    Thus (it is sent down in parts), that We may strengthen your heart thereby; and We have revealed it to you gradually, in stages. Ch 25: V32
    It is seen from the above verses in which the Quran repeatedly assures that Allah has protected it against any possibility of being tampered with directly or indirectly and that it is not for the Prophet to change it or add to it anything. If he had done so, Allahs severe punishment would inevitably and irresistibly have befallen him. These clear and positive statements directly contradict the story, which says that the Prophet (pbuh) of his own accord or being deceived by Satan introduced something into the text of the revelation. Not only that. The alleged interpolation violated the fundamental teaching of the Quran monotheism (Tauhid) and thus constituted the offence of shirk which Allah warns elsewhere in the Quran that He shall under no circumstances forgive.
    The story is thus quite contrary to the specific statements of the Quran and also to the tenor and purport of its entire text. As such the story is totally unworthy or any credence. This is not simply from a Muslims point of view, but also from true historians point of view.
    Let us now consider the two passages of the Quran that are said to have been revealed as a sequel to the story, which are as follows:
    Indeed they were about to divert you from what We revealed to you, in order that you forge against Us something else, and in that case they would certainly have taken you as a friend. And had We not made you firm, you would almost have inclined towards them a little; and in that case we would have made you taste the double (punishment) in death; and then you would not have found for you as against Us any helper. (Ch 17: V73-75).
    These verses were revealed 11 or 12 years after the call to Prophethood.
    Never did we send a Messenger nor a Prophet before you, but that when he formed an intention, Satan threw something in his intention; but Allah cancels what Satan throws in and then makes His sign prevail. Allah is All-knowing, All-Wise. (Ch 22: V52).
    This verse was revealed during the 1st year of Hijrah.
    A careful look at them would at once show that their texts, far from supporting the story, do in fact contradict it.
    The first passage shows that it was the unbelievers who attempted to induce the Prophet to make a compromise with them, not that he ever wanted it. The passage further states that Allah made the Prophets heart firm against such attempts of the unbelievers. The emphasis here is on the intensity of the unbelievers attempts, and Allahs special favor upon the Prophet (pbuh) making him immune against such efforts and because of such special favor, the Prophet (pbuh) did not incline towards the unbelievers even a little. Finally the above verse warns that, had the Prophet (pbuh) been guilty of slight inclination towards the unbelievers, he would have been doubly punished by Allah.
    It is strange that the orientalists mention the above verses revealed about 8 or 9 years after the alleged incident as assurance from Allah, because during this period so many major events had taken place, including the Hijrah.
    The internal evidence of Surah al Najm (53):
    The Surah starts emphasizing that, He (the Prophet) does not speak out of his desire. It is naught but Wahy (revelation) communicated to him. in verses 3-4. The Surah declares that the Prophet (pbuh) has not gone astray, nor erred, nor does he speak out of his own desire, but what he gives out is only revelation communicated to him. It is impossible to even think that the Prophet (pbuh) would immediately add the alleged two verses within this surah itself, thus contradicting the very essence of the surah. Though there are over 15 version of the allegation, all the versions agree that the Prophet (pbuh) recited the whole of Surah al Najm on this occasion and prostrated himself at the end of it.
    The alleged verses are, Those are swans exalted. Whose intercession is to be expected.
    These alleged two verses do not fit into any place in the Surah. If we simply insert them after verse 19 and 20 they will read as follows:
    Have you then considered Al-Lat and Al-Uzza (two idols of the pagan Arabs). v19
    And Manat (another idol of the pagan Arabs), the third? v.20
    Those are swans exalted. Whose intercession is to be expected. (???)
    Is it for you the males and for Him the females? v. 21
    That indeed is a division most unfair. v.22
    They are but names, which you have named, - you and your fathers - for which Allah has sent down no authority. They follow but a guess and that which they themselves desire, whereas there has surely come to them the Guidance from their Lord. v.23
    Or shall man have what he wishes? v.24
    But to Allah belongs the last (hereafter) and the first (the world) v.25
    Simple glance shows that the alleged Satanic Verses shown in bold print above do not fit in any place in the Surah al-Najm. The whole text from verses 19 to the end of the surah has a unity and continuity on both theme and sequence. There is no giving-in on the question of intercession by anyone; no relaxation of the principle of individual and personal responsibility, no softening down of denunciation of the conduct of the unbelieving leaders and no room given to accommodating their attitudes.
    The following additional information should be noted on this insinuation.
    The story has come down in about a dozen varying versions and does not have a strong chain of narrators (isnad). It is technically regarded as Murpo i.e. its isnad does not go up beyond the second generation (Tabiun) after the Prophet (pbuh). One of the versions is traced back to Abd Allah Ibn Abbas as eyewitness, who was born some five years after the alleged event was said to have taken place. Apart from this, all the persons named in the isnad are considered weak, unreliable or unknown.
    The report itself suffers from grave differences and disagreements in all the four essential respects, namely:
    The occasion of the incident;
    Nature of the Prophets alleged act;
    The wording of the alleged Satanic Verses- as many as 15 different texts;
    The effect or sequel of the alleged incident.
    There are reports that say, more significantly, that while the unbelievers heard the alleged Satanic Verses the believers did not hear them at all. All the versions unanimously show that no objection or uneasiness was expressed by any of the believers at the Prophets (pbuh) alleged utterance of the verses, nor to his alleged dropping of them subsequently. If such an unusual incident as the giving out of some compromising verses and their subsequent withdrawal had taken place at all, it would have been narrated by some of the many companions of the Prophet (pbuh).
    Abdullah Ibn Masud says that Surah al-Najm was the first surah, which the Prophet (pbuh) recited in front of a gathering of believers and non-believers at the Kaaba compound. When he finished it and went into prostration, all those who were present, believers and non-believers also prostrated themselves. It is an acknowledged fact that the Prophet (pbuh) and the Muslims could not publicly and in a body perform prayer or recite the Quran at the Kaaba before the conversion of Umar (Ra), and the revelation of Surah al-Najm took place after his conversion. The conversion of Umar (Ra) was a great gain to Islam.
    The Quran has had a stunning effect even on every non-believing Quraish who heard it, and their leaders such as Utbah ibn Rabiah themselves had confessed to this. As such, the non-believers without realizing what they were doing would have prostrated themselves as commanded in the last verse of the surah, together with the Muslims. Since the Quraish leaders prostrated themselves or did a similar act, they must have been pressed by their followers to explain their act. When they realized what they have done, they would have tried to find a justification for their unintentional act of abiding by the Quranic command.
    The other fact that needs emphasizing in this connection is that the text of the so-called Satanic Verses was no new composition made on that specific occasion. It was an old couplet that the Quraish pagans used to recite in praise of their goddess while circumambulating the Kaaba. It is also to be remembered that the unbelievers used to create noise and disturbances whenever the Prophet (pbuh) or Muslims prayed at the Kaaba or recited the Quran publicly. Therefore, it is very likely that when the Prophet (pbuh) recited the surah and mentioned al-Lat and al-Uzza in the course of his recitation and in a denunciatory strain, some of the Quraish unbelievers instantly interrupted and protested by shouting out the couplets. Significantly enough, some versions of the story clearly state that the Satanic Verses were uttered not by the Prophet (pbuh) but by Satan or some unbelievers, and they emphatically state that the Muslims did not hear it.


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The orientalists, The seerah and the quran-7

The orientalists, The seerah and the quran-7