Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun's Article, "Is Allah A Messenger? Or is Gabriel God?"


Bassam Zawadi



Sam Shamoun's article can be found here.

A summary of Shamoun's argument is:

The Qur'an is the speech of Allah. However, Surah 69:40 and 81:19-20 show that the Qur'an is the speech of a Messenger. So this either shows that Allah is a messenger or that Gabriel or Muhammad is God. 

Imam Qurtubi addresses this:

وَقَالَ الْكَلْبِيّ أَيْضًا وَالْقُتَبِيّ : الرَّسُول هَا هُنَا مُحَمَّد صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ; لِقَوْلِهِ : " وَمَا هُوَ بِقَوْلِ شَاعِر " وَلَيْسَ الْقُرْآن قَوْل الرَّسُول صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ , إِنَّمَا هُوَ مِنْ قَوْل اللَّه عَزَّ وَجَلَّ وَنُسِبَ الْقَوْل إِلَى الرَّسُول لِأَنَّهُ تَالِيه وَمُبَلِّغه وَالْعَامِل بِهِ , كَقَوْلِنَا : هَذَا قَوْل مَالِك .

And Al Kalbi and Qutbi said: The Messenger being referred to here is Muhammad (peace be upon him), for Allah says right after "And these are not the words of a poet" and the Qur'an is not the speech of the Messenger (peace be upon him), rather they are from Allah All Mighty and the speech has been attributed to the Messenger because he is its reciter, deliverer and acts upon it, just as we say "This is the saying of Maalik" (Abu 'Abdullah al-Qurtubi's, Tasfir al Jami' li-ahkam al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 69:40, Source) 

Notice how this is compared to when Maaliki scholars (such as Qurtubi) say "this is the saying of Malik". When Maaliki scholars want to state that a particular ruling or opinion is something that Imam Maalik ascribed to or followed, they would say, "This is the saying of Imam Malik," even though they didn't provide any quote from him. The same applies to scholars from the other madhabs (schools of thought). In Arabic, this is a way of communicating someone's position or opinion towards something.

Similarly, one could argue that "this is the saying of a Messenger" could mean that the Messenger of Allah delivers this Qur'an to you and acts upon it. The Qur'an is the way and view that the Messenger of God has ascribed to, thus indirectly confessing that the Qur'an is from God.

Or it can be said that the point that the verse is trying to put across is not the origin of the Qur'an but the role of Muhammad (peace be upon him) in that he is a Messenger of Allah.

Shamoun himself even provides a valid refutation to his argument by quoting Ibn Kathir:

Another renowned commentator, Ibn Kathir, writes in reference to Q. 81:19-21:

The Qur'an is the Speech of Allah

Allah swears by His creation, in which some of His signs can be seen in His creatures. These also indicate the perfection of His Names and Attributes. He then swears by the hidden things that they cannot see. This is an oath swearing that the Qur'an is His Speech, His inspiration and His revelation to His servant and Messenger, whom He chose to convey His Message, and the Messenger carried out this trust faithfully. So Allah says.

meaning, Muhammad . Allah gave this description to him, a description which carries the meaning of conveying, because the duty of a messenger is to convey from the sender. Therefore, Allah gave this description to the angelic Messenger in Surat At-Takwir, where he said.

(81:19-21) And here, it refers to Jibril ... (Source)

These Muslims were trying to reconcile the claim that the Quran is the word of some messenger with their belief that the Quran is Allah's eternal speech. They try to interpret these citations in light of their presupposition that Allah communicated the Quran to Muhammad through Gabriel. 

Shamoun thinks he can argue back by saying:

But sadly for these Muslim translators and expositors neither Q. 69:40 nor Q. 81:19 says that the Quran is Allah's speech which was communicated through a messenger. The references plainly say that the Quran is actually the speech of some particular messenger. 

If Shamoun consistently applied this unscholarly and ignorant scriptural exegesis to his Bible, he would indeed find dozens, if not hundreds, of problems.

We will show Shamoun's hypocrisy, in which he applies the proper method of hermeneutics whenever he sees fit.

For instance, Shamoun, in Part 2 of his article The Quran on the Authority and Integrity of the Biblical Text, Part 2 he quotes Antoin MacRuaidh as saying... 

In Islamic hermeneutics, as in Christian exegetical interpretation, the rule is that one interprets the lesser in terms of the greater 

Shamoun cites this to support his argument that Ibn Abbass did not believe the Bible was corrupted. So here, Shamoun uses the correct methodology of hermeneutics (even though he wrongly applied it in that case. See here)

The point is that Shamoun will not allow one to argue that since there are so many verses about the Qur'an being Allah's speech, this is a valid reason to interpret the verses about the Qur'an being the speech of the Messenger in a way that harmonizes with the other verses. This shows his double standards.

Muslims don't depend only on these two texts of the Qur'an to understand this issue. We see how the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught his companions the Qur'an. Now, did any of the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) ever understand or teach that the Qur'an is both the words of God and Muhammad (peace be upon him)? Did the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) ever teach this? Surely, if this is what the Qur'an intended to teach or if this is the way that they understood the Arabic language, then they would have at least asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) to clarify whether some of the words of the Qur'an are really his own. Rather, we see no such thing.

Shamoun, in the beginning of his article, even cites Surah 10:37, which makes it clear that the Qur'an is only the speech of God and no one else...

Surah 10:37

This Qur'an is not such as can be produced by other than God; on the contrary it is a confirmation of (revelations) that went before it, and a fuller explanation of the Book - wherein there is no doubt - from the Lord of the worlds. 


Surah 29:48-50

And thou wast not (able) to recite a Book before this (Book came), nor art thou (able) to transcribe it with thy right hand: In that case, indeed, would the talkers of vanities have doubted. 

Allah is telling the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he is not even capable of authoring a book like the Qur'an since he cannot read or write. So how could the Qur'an be the speech of Muhammad (peace be upon him)?

The speech and message that the Messengers are here to proclaim are from God.

Now, is it possible for something to be both Muhammad's (peace be upon him) and Allah's word at the same time?

Yes, we have the Qudsi Hadith, which are defined as:

At first, there seems to be no reason for distinguishing Qur'anic verses from the verses in the Hadith Qudsi, as both are regarded as directly inspired from God. However, according to as-Sayyid ash-Sharif al-Jurjani, the Hadith Qudsi differ from the Qur'an in that the former were revealed in a dream or through revelation and are "expressed in Muhammad's words", whereas the latter are the "direct words of God". (Source) 

Thus, we see that even if the words are Muhammad's (peace be upon him) that doesn't mean they originated from him. It is possible that Allah revealed something to Muhammad (peace be upon him), and then the Prophet (peace be upon him) communicated it in his own words.

However, this does not apply to the Qur'an, which is the direct speech of Allah and not an expression of Allah's revelation in the Prophet's words.

Notice how sometimes the Qur'an tells the Prophet (peace be upon him) to say certain quotes:

Surah 2:91

When it is said to them, "Believe in what God Hath sent down," they say, "We believe in what was sent down to us:" yet they reject all besides, even if it be Truth confirming what is with them. Say: "Why then have ye slain the prophets of God in times gone by, if ye did indeed believe?"

Surah 2:94

Say: "If the last Home, with God, be for you specially, and not for anyone else, then seek ye for death, if ye are sincere." 

So here, we see that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was commanded to speak direct words from Allah to the people. After the Prophet (peace be upon him) spoke these words, the people would accuse him of making up these words. However, the verse in the Qur'an says that these words are those of a Messenger, which basically implies that they do not originate from him. Rather, he is only delivering the message of these words to the people of Allah.

So technically speaking, these words are the Prophet's since he spoke them (and they can be everyone else's speech in the sense that we recite them).

However, the Qur'an intended to let the people know who Muhammad (peace be upon him) was, and that is that he is a Messenger of Allah, which by default implies that the words of the Qur'an have originated from Allah.

The Qur'an explains itself clearly, and no confusion arises except if one applies a false method of approaching the Qur'an exegetically and with the wrong intentions, just as Shamoun had done.



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