Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun's Article, "The Qur'an's Challenge To Produce Something Similar: How Satan Trumped Allah and His Messenger"


 Bassam Zawadi 



Sam Shamoun's article can be located here. 

Missionaries can't get enough of the Satanic verses. No matter how often we show them that the sources for this story are unreliable, they simply don't care. Even when we show them that even if the story is true, not only does it not compromise the veracity of Muhammad's (peace be upon him) Prophethood, but actually serves to strengthen it, missionaries still put forth the argument. (It's not really that surprising. Christians have no problem accepting books as divine despite their unknown authorship!) 

For a detailed look at the Satanic verses, visit my article here. However, in this article, I would like to make it known that Shamoun doesn't (either due to forgetfulness, deceitfulness, or ignorance) doesn't inform his readers about the other versions of the Satanic verses stories that have come down to us (all of them are unreliable by the way), which would refute the main thesis of his paper. 

One version of the story states that the Prophet (peace be upon him) never uttered the Satanic verses. It also states that the Muslims did not hear it. It was only Satan who deceived the pagans into making them hear the verses. So both Pagans and Muslims bowed down together (pagans hearing Satan's revelation, while the Muslims were hearing the true Qur'an), and both were surprised at the other side for bowing down. 

Dr. Mohar Ali interestingly points out in his book The Biography of the Prophet and the Orientalists, page 700: 

Significantly enough, some versions of the story clearly state that the "satanic verses" were uttered not by the Prophet but by satan or some unbelievers at the time of the Prophet's recitation of the surah. Even the version said to have been transmitted by Urwah ibn al-Zubayr says first that it was "thrown in" by satan without mentioning "on the tongue of the Prophet", and later on specifically stating that "the Muslims did not hear what satan threw in on the tongues of the polytheists" (الْمُشْرِكِين لسنةأ َ وَلَمْ يَكُنْ الْمُسْلِمُونَ سَمِعُوا الَّذِي أَلْقَى الشَّيْطَان فِي) [2]. The same information is given in the version coming from Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri wherein it is stated: "The Muslims did not hear what the devil threw in the hearing of the unbelievers" (وَلَمْ يَكُنْ الْمُسْلِمُونَ سَمِعُوا الَّذِي أَلْقَى الشَّيْطَان فِي مَسَامِع الْمُشْرِكِينَ)[3]Rightly, therefore, Ibn Taymiyyah categorically states that the alleged couplet was put by satan into the hearing of the unbelievers. [4]  

2) Al-Tabarani, Majma' etc., VI, 32-34; VIII, 70-72, Also quoted in Al-Albani, op.cit., 12-13

3) Ibn Kathir, Tafsir,

4) Ibn Taymiyyah, Majmu' at Fatawa, II, 282.      

Dr. Mohar Ali also notes on page 697: 

Yet other versions state that it was neither the Prophet, nor Satan, but someone from among the unbelievers who uttered the alleged verses when the Prophet had just completed the recitation of ayah 19 of the surah. 

He argues on page 700: 

A second fact which needs emphasizing in this connection is that the text of the so-called "satanic verses" was no new composition made on the occasion mentioned. It was an old couplet which the Quraysh pagans used to recite in praise of their goddesses while circumambulating the Ka'ba. [1] It is also to be remembered that the unbelievers used to create noise and disturbances whenever the Prophet or the Muslims recited the Qur'an publicly. Therefore, it is very likely that when the Prophet recited the surah and mentioned Al-Lat and Al-'Uzza in the course of his recitation and in a denunciatory strain, some of the Quraysh unbelievers instantly interrupted and protested by shouting out the couplet. 

1) Ibn al-Kalbi, Kitab al-Asnam, ed. Ahmad Zaki Pasha, p.19, Yaqut, Mu'jam al-Buldan, IV, 116. 

So here we see that other versions of the Satanic Verses story destroy Shamoun's conclusions and arguments. What objective scientific and historical methodology is Shamoun utilizing to insist that the version of the story that he appeals to is correct and not these other versions? (PS: I don't accept any of these stories.) 

Since we are familiar with the low-quality argumentation of missionaries, we anticipate what Shamoun might say. Shamoun might argue back and say that there is good reason to believe that Muslims made up the other versions, which vindicate Muhammad (peace be upon him) because they are biased. Therefore, they aren't reliable. However, suppose we were to utilize the historical method and apply the principle of embarrassment. In that case, we can conclude that the story that portrays Muhammad (peace be upon him) as uttering the Satanic verses is more reliable since Muslims wouldn't make up such a story. 

However, there are problems with these kinds of responses. First of all, the person arguing this way is committing the fallacy of circumstantial ad hominem. Just because it appears that the Muslims would have a motive to lie, that is not evidence that they did. Also, the missionary would be applying double standards here since one can easily argue that we don't have any enemy testimony from the first Christian century, but only Christian testimony. Therefore, since Christians would have a bias toward speaking positively about Paul, we should assume that anything they say is not trustworthy! But, of course, no Christian would accept that logic, would he? 

The principle of embarrassment can only be applied once we know who the person is. As I demonstrated in my article on the Satanic verses here, the chains regarding the story are broken, and there are missing people in the chain. We don't know who these missing people are. We don't know if they are Muslims, non-Muslims, hypocrites acting as Muslims and purposely spreading lies, etc. So, if we are unsure who the people in the missing links are, how can we apply the principle of embarrassment? We can only apply this principle if we were to know that the person is a trustworthy Muslim who would have no motive to lie and make up something derogatory about the Prophet (peace be upon him). However, for all we know, the people in the missing link could be known for fabricating narrations. You can't apply this principle to these people. In conclusion, since we are unsure who the people in the missing link are, we can't confidently apply this principle to this case. 

Shamoun might reply and say that several independent testimonies narrating the event exist. But again, we don't know the people in the missing links. For all we know, it can be the same person who is missing in all the broken chains. If that is the case, then this wouldn't make all these narrations truly independent. So again, there is an objective shred of evidence that can show that all these narrations truly are independent. 

In addition, even if we were to assume that the Satanic verses story was true, this doesn't show that Satan met the Qur'anic challenge. The Qur'an's challenge is to produce something like the Qur'an itself (17:88 & 52:34). Then the challenge was reduced to ten Surahs (11:13)Then it was reduced to one Surah (10:38)We never see it being reduced to one verse. Satan's inspiration (if the incident took place) is not even as long as the shortest Surah in the Qur'an (Surah 108). So technically speaking, even if the story were true, the challenge would still not have been met. Furthermore, even if the Qur'an's challenge was reduced to one verse, such a pathetic verse regarding the cranes is hardly comparable to any verse in the Qur'an. 

For more on the inimitability of the Qur'an, go here



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