By Mohammad Hijab
Evidence 1 – Preservation of the Quran
The Quran says: “We have surely sent down the reminder (the Quran) and we will surely preserve it”
(Quran 15:9). If a book is meant to be for all of mankind, it is important that its primary recipients, as well as those who come after it, should have the same access to the book. The Quran is preserved orally through manuscripts as well as through the living Arabic language. Textual variants in manuscripts, as well as in recitation format, are explained by the fact that the Prophet Muhammad had select verses revealed in different modes called aḥruf.
The Quran is preserved through mass transmission from the time of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad until today. We know the names of all of the authorities who have memorised the Quran from the time of the Prophet Muhammad. Books such as Ṭabaqāt Al-Qurrā’, authored by the fourteenth century scholar Ibn al-Jazari, contain names and evidences of the authorities that received the Quran from the Prophet Muhammad. We also have other manuscripts such as the Topkapi manuscript in Turkey, which has been carbon dated to the time of Uthman (one of Prophet Muhmmad’s best friends).
In contrast, the Bible is not preserved. The books of the New Testament were first listed by Athanasius in the fourth century. He was not given authority from God. There is a difference of opinion in Christianity as to how many books are in the Biblical canon. Protestants say there are 66 books; Roman Catholics say 72; Ethiopian Orthodox Christians say 81. There are many manuscripts of the Old and New Testament, yet there is no method of harmonising the contradictory variants between the manuscripts. What is interesting to note is that although the Quran has variant dialectical readings, none of these readings are contradictory because all of them were legitimised by the Prophet Muhammad.
Some fundamental verses have recently been taken out of some versions of the Bible as an interpolation. These include, for example, the following verse: “For there are three that bear the record in heaven: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one” (1 John, 5:7). If the guidance of God is meant for all people, there cannot be any confusion as to what constitutes the word of God.
The History of the Quranic Text, Muhammad Al-Azami.
Muqaddimah Tafsīr Al-Ṭabarī – Al-Tabari
Ṭayyibah Al-Nashr – Ibn al-Jazari
Evidence 2 – No Contradictions
The Quran says: “If this book was from other than God, they would have been able to find many
contradictions in it” (Quran 4:92). The Quran is the only religious book that directly challenges people to find contradictions within it.
By contrast, one notices contradictions in the very first page of the Bible. In the Genesis creation myth, the day and night were created in the first day, whereas the luminaries were created in the fourth. This has forced major ecumenical writers to reject a literal reading of the Bible. On this, Origen of Alexandria states:
Now, what man of intelligence will believe that the first, the second and third day existed, the evening and morning existed without the sun, the moon and the stars? And the first day; if we may so call it was even without a heaven? … I do not think anyone will doubt that these statements are made by scripture in a figurative manner in order that through them certain mystical truths may be indicated… (Origen, 2017:383-384)
Origen goes further to indicate that contradictory parts of the Bible may be human insertions: “Much effort and toil must therefore be exercised, so that each reader may in all reverence become aware that he is dealing with words that are divine and not human, inserted in the holy books” (Origen, 2017:395).
These shocking admissions demonstrate the vulnerability of the Bible compared to the Quran. This is because the foremost patristic authorities of the Bible identify contradictions of the plain reading of the text and can conceive of human insertion into the Bible. Such a discourse is unimaginable from an Islamic perspective.
Origen (2017) On First Principles. Translated by John Behr. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Evidence 3 – The Quran Challenge and the Arabic Language
The Quran says: “If you are in any doubt as to what we have sent to our slave, produce a chapter like it if you are truthful, and bring your witnesses from other than God if you are truthful” (Quran 2:27).
This challenge of producing something like the Quran was directed to the Arabs of the day, who were experts in language. Many tried, yet none were able to produce a text with any sociological impact whatsoever when compared with the Quran.
Though not all wonderous features of the Arabic language can be translated into English, much work has recently been done to allow non-Arabic speakers to appreciate why the recipient Arabs were so dumbstruck by the Quran that they accused it as being magic and the Prophet Muhammad as being a magician (see Quran 10:3). For example, speaking about the significance of a single letter (kāf) in Quran 42:11—which transforms the meaning from ‘nothing is equivalent to him (Allah)’ to ‘nothing is comparable to him’—Mohammed Abdullah Draz states: “If the Quranic verse were to simply say:
‘Nothing is like him’ then that would be a negation of equal likeness, or a being who is exactly like him… if the statement was limited to this then doubts might be raised that there could be a status which is not exactly the same as God’s but a level below it” (Draz, 2001:111). Draz considers this to be one of many examples of the Quran employing the broadest meaning and minimal wording.
Many examples of these linguistic nuances in Quranic expressions have been written and spoken of, and for more information, you may read and consult the following short and accessible books:
The Qur’an: An Eternal Challenge, Mohammad Abdullah Draz
Divine Speech, Nouman Ali Khan (both the book and the lecture series)
Lamasāt Bayāniyyah – Fadil al-Samarra’i (both the book and the television series)
Al-Ta‘bīr Al-Qur’ānī – Fadil al-Samarra’i Min I‘jāz Al-Qur’ān min A‘jami Al-Qur’ān – Mahmoud Raouf Abdul Hameed
Evidence 4 – Prophecies in Islam
The Quran and the Hadith (the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad also inspired by God) made a number of predictions of the future. Some of these predictions include:
1 – The Roman Empire would defeat the Persian Empire at a time when the Roman Empire was on the brink of collapse, and that this would happen in 3-9 years. This materialised as stated in the Quran; see Quran 30:1-6.
2 – Warring Muslims will overtake the Arabian Peninsula. See Quran 24:55.
3 – Islam will spread eastward and westward (see the hadith of Thawban in Sahih Muslim).
4- The Prophet prophesied Muslims would conquer Persia, Yemen, and the Levant; he predicted this when in an intense state of weakness in the battle of Ahzab (Sunan al-Nasa’i).
5- The Prophet prophesied the conquest of Jerusalem (Sahih Bukhari).
6– There will be an increase in sexual immorality and, as a result, sexually transmitted diseases
(Sunan Ibn Majah).
6– Barefoot Arabs will compete to build tall buildings (see the hadith of Umar in Bukhari).
7- That usury will be so widespread that even if one does not consume it, one will not be able to ‘avoid its dust’ (Musnad Ahmad).
8- That markets will come close to one another (Musnad Ahmed).
9- Muslims, despite being many in number, will be weak and split up by enemy forces (Sunan Abi Dawood).
10 – Islam will be so widespread that it will reach ‘every home’ (Musnad Ahmad).
In addition to this, whenever the Quran or Hadith make a time-bound prediction (e.g. like example number 1 in the list above), it materialises at the predicted time. This is more than can be said of the Biblical discourse. Perhaps the clearest example of this is the Olivet Discourse, of which preterists, dispensationalists, a-millennialists, pre-millennialists, and post-millennialists all differ in its meaning.
The Bible states:
But in those days that follow distress, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give off its light; the stars will fall from the sky and heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and he will gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heaven. Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know the summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my word will never pass away. (Mark, 13.26-30) C S Lewis concedes that this is a false prophecy and ‘the most embarrassing verse in the Bible’:
“Say what you like,” we shall be told, “the apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, ‘this generation shall not pass till all these things be done.’ And he was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else… It is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible. (Lewis,1952:97)
Lewis, C.S (1960) The World’s Last Night And Other Essays. Harper One. London
For a more detailed explanation of Islamic prophecies, as well as a comparison with those of other religions, the book The Forbidden Prophecies can be downloaded for free from the iERA website.