Refuting Shamoun On "Contradictions" in the Saheeh Hadeeths

 

By

 

Bassam Zawadi

 

 

At the bottom of one his articles (*), Shamoun provides what he believes to be five examples of hadith contradictions from the books of Saheeh Bukhari and Muslim.

 

 

Before I proceed, something must be clarified. There is a misconception amongst some Christians that the Saheeh hadeeth of the Muslims is the like their Gospels

 

The 4 Gospels are the "ahaadith a-sahiiha" (the correct traditions) on the life of Jesus. (Source)

 

This is false and misleading. Christians believe that the Gospels were recorded by inspired men and that its contents are inspired. However, Muslims don't believe that those who transmitted or collected the hadith were inspired by God like how Christians believe for their Gospel authors. Thus, it wouldn't be a surprise to find mistakes in hadeeth even if they have an authentic chain of transmission (there are many ways to solve this problem and this is in no way a threat to the reliability that we have in authentic hadith as a whole. This topic however is too detailed to discuss here). But for the Christian Gospels we should expect to not find any errors since those who transmitted them are supposed to be directly inspired by God.

 

The point that I am trying to put forth here is this: If you are a Christian who thinks that by pointing out contradictions in Saheeh Hadeeth you would somehow try to change the fact that contradictions exist in your Gospels or you think that you can show "Muslim double standards" when they show contradictions in your Gospels, then think again. This is because you are comparing apples with oranges.

 

Read more here.

 

Now to move on to Shamoun's arguments:

First Contradiction

Narrated Ibn Abbas:
The Prophet was cupped while he was in the state of lhram, and also while he was observing a fast. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 31,
Number 159)

The translator states:

Hadith No. 159 CONTRADICTS the Hadith of Al-Hasan. Apparently the Muslim jurists have given VARIOUS INTERPRETATIONS to discard THIS CONTRADICTION: Ash-Shafi'i says, "Both Ahadith are correct, but the one narrated by Ibn 'Abbas is stronger as regards its series of narrators; yet it is better to avoid cupping while observing Saum (fast). But the verdict is to be taken from the Hadith of Ibn 'Abbas. I have the knowledge that the Prophet's companions and their followers and all Muslim scholars think that cupping does not break one's Saum (fast)." Ibn Hazm thinks that Al-Hasan's Hadith is INVALIDATED by another authentic Hadith narrated by Abu Sa'id which goes: "The Prophet permitted cupping for a person observing Saum (fast)." (Fath Al-Bari, Vol. 5, Pages 79-81). (Al-Imam Zain-ud-Din Ahmad bin Abdul Lateef Az-Zubaidi, The Translation of the Meanings of Summarized Sahih Al-Bukhari Arabic-English, Translated by: Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan [Maktaba Dar-us-Salam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh Saudi Arabia], p. 446; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Scholars are divided into two different opinions regarding this matter. Some argue that cupping could break one's fast and some do not. Either opinion is perfectly valid, since the hadiths could be harmonized for either one.

As for those who take the opinion that it does break the fast, Al Sindi argues:

قد يقال هذا الحديث لا يدل على بقاء الصوم بعد الحجامة لجواز أنه كان في سفر أو كان الصوم صوم تطوع يحل فيه الإفطار فأفطر بالحجامة بل قد جاء ما يدل على أنه كان في حجة الوداع وحينئذ كان في صومه أمران التطوع والسفر والله تعالى أعلم .

It could be said that this hadeeth is not evidence that one's fasting remains valid after cupping, for the possibility that he (i.e. the Prophet) was traveling or was fasting a voluntary fast where it would be permissible for one to break his fast by cupping. Rather evidence has come to us indicating that he was on his farewell pilgrimage and thus during his fasting there were two issues: The fasting was voluntary and he was traveling. Allah All Mighty knows best. (Al Sindi, Sharh Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitab: Al Siyaam, Bab: Maa Jaa'a fil Hijaamah lil Saa'em, Commentary on Hadith no. 1672, Source)

As for those who take the opposite view (i.e. cupping doesn't break your fast):

مالك والشافعي وأصحاب أبي حنيفة وقالوا معنى قوله " أفطر " تعرض للإفطار كما يقال هلك فلان إذا تعرض للهلاك انتهى كلام الطيبي . وقال البغوي في شرح السنة : معنى قوله " أفطر الحاجم والمحجوم " أي تعرضا للإفطار , أما الحاجم فلأنه لا يأمن من وصول شيء من الدم إلى جوفه عند المص , وأما المحجوم فلأنه لا يأمن ضعف قوته بخروج الدم فيئول أمره إلى أن يفطر انتهى كلام البغوي

"Maalik, Al Shaf'i and the companions of Abi Hanifa said that the meaning of the word aftar "broke his fast" here means he was exposed to breaking his fast, just as the saying "The boy has been destroyed" if the boy was exposed to destruction (but wasn't really destroyed)" end quote from al Tayibi. Al Baghawi said in his Sharh Al Sunnah: "The meaning of "The cupper and cupped have broken their fast" is that they have both been exposed to breaking their fast. That is because the cupper is not assured of anything from the blood reaching his abdomen during the absorption, while the cupped is not assured due to the weakness of his strength of getting any blood out so he devolves his matter unto someone until he breaks his fast." (Shaikh Abdur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri, Tuhfat AI-Ahwadhi, Kitab: al-Sawm 'an Rasoollullah, Bab: Maa Jaa'a fee Karaaheyat Al Hijaamah lil Saa'em, Hadith no. 705, Source)

For a more detailed discussion see Muhammad Shams al-Haqq al-Adhim Abadi, Awn al-Mabud Sharh Sunan Abu Dawud, Kitab: Al Sawm, Bab: Fil Saa'em Yartajim, Commentary on Hadith no. 2020, Source

Thus, it is possible that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was cupped when he was fasting a voluntary fast. The hadith did not say that he continued remaining to fast. It only said that he was cupped during his fast.

It is also possible from an Arabic linguistic perspective that the Prophet (peace be upon him) meant to say that cupping would expose you to breaking your fast.

Either option is valid as an opinion, but what matters is that the hadith do not necessarily contradict one another.


Second Contradiction

Did Muhammad wash only once or twice?

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:
The Prophet performed ablution by washing the body parts only once. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 4,
Number 159)

Narrated 'Abdullah bin Zaid:
The Prophet performed ablution by washing the body parts twice. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 4,
Number 160)

 

It never crossed Shamoun's mind that the Prophet (peace be upon him) did both? Can't the above be easily harmonized by saying that sometimes the Prophet (peace be upon him) washed only once and at other times washed twice?

In ablution, it is not necessary to wash more than once if you already successfully made the respective body part wet. What is necessary is that you make sure every part of your body that needs to be washed is actually wet. So it is possible that the Prophet (peace be upon him) washed once when he saw that all of his necessary body parts were wet, while during another time he saw that after washing once he didn't successfully make sure every part was left wet. Thus, he washed a second time to ensure that it was.

Alleged contradiction resolved.


Third Contradiction

Did Muhammad see his Lord? Reports that say he didn't:

Narrated Masruq:
I said to 'Aisha, "O Mother! Did Prophet Muhammad see his Lord?" Aisha said, "What you have said makes my hair stand on end! Know that if somebody tells you one of the following three things, he is a liar: Whoever tells you that Muhammad saw his Lord, is a liar." Then Aisha recited the Verse:

'No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision. He is the Most Courteous Well-Acquainted with all things.' (6.103) 'It is not fitting for a human being that Allah should speak to him except by inspiration or from behind a veil.' (42.51) 'Aisha further said, "And whoever tells you that the Prophet knows what is going to happen tomorrow, is a liar." She then recited:

'No soul can know what it will earn tomorrow.' (31.34) She added: "And whoever tells you that he concealed (some of Allah's orders), is a liar." Then she recited: 'O Apostle! Proclaim (the Message) which has been sent down to you from your Lord.' (5.67) 'Aisha added. "But the Prophet saw Gabriel in his true form twice." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 378)

Narrated Masruq:
'Aisha said, "If anyone tells you that Muhammad has seen his Lord, he is a liar, for Allah says: 'No vision can grasp Him.' (6.103) And if anyone tells you that Muhammad has seen the Unseen, he is a liar, for Allah says: 'None has the knowledge of the Unseen but Allah.'" (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93,
Number 477)

Reports that say he did:

It is narrated on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that he (the Holy Prophet) saw (Allah) with, his heart. (Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 0334)

It is narrated on the authority of Ibn Abbas that the words: "The heart belied not what he saw" (al-Qur'an, Iiii. 11) and "Certainly he saw Him in another descent" (al-Qur'an, Iiii. 13) imply that he saw him twice with his heart. (Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 0335)

First of all, even if there was a contradiction this wouldn't be a contradiction between the two hadeeths, it would only be a contradiction between the views of Aisha and Ibn Abbass.

Secondly, the views of Ibn Abbass and Aisha could be reconciled. Sheikh Munajjid has it:

Most of the Sahaabah were of the view that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not see Allaah with his eyes on the night of the Miraaj. 

 

It was narrated that 'Aa'ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: "Whoever told you that Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) saw his Lord was lying. He said that no vision can grasp him [cf. al-An'aam 6:103]." 

 

(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, al-Tawheed, 6832). 

 

It was narrated that Abu Dharr said: "I asked the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), 'Did you see your Lord?' He said, 'He is veiled by Light, how could I see Him.'" (Narrated by Muslim, al-Eeman, 261). 

 

It was narrated that Ibn 'Abbaas said: "'The (Prophet's) heart belied not what he saw, and indeed he saw Him at a second descent.' [al-Najm 53:11-12] (This means that) he saw Him twice with his heart." (Narrated by Muslim, al-Eemaan, 258).   

 

Ibn al-Qayyim said: "'Uthmaan ibn Sa'eed al-Daarimi said in his book al-Ru'yah that there was consensus among the Sahaabah that he [the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)] did not see his Lord on the night of the Mi'raaj. Some of them excluded Ibn 'Abbaas and said that he was not one of those who said that. Our Shaykh says that this does not go against the facts, for Ibn 'Abbaas did not say that he saw Him with the eyes in his head, and Ahmad relied upon this in one of the two reports narrated from him, where he says that he saw Him but he did not say that that was with the eyes in his head. The wording used by Ahmad is the same as that used by Ibn 'Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with them both). What indicates that what our Shaykh said about the meaning of the hadeeth of Abu Dharr is correct is the fact that in another hadeeth he said that His veil is Light.  And Allaah knows best what the Light is that is mentioned in the hadeeth of Abu Dharr (may Allaah be pleased with him) where it says, 'I saw Light.'" 

 

Ijtimaa' al-Juyoosh al-Islamiyyah, vol. 1, p. 12 

 

Shaykh al-Islam (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: "Chapter: with regard to seeing Allaah, what was proven in al-Saheeh from Ibn 'Abbaas is that he said: 'Muhammad saw his Lord with his heart twice, and 'Aa'ishah denied that he had seen Him. Some people reconciled these two reports by saying that 'Aa'ishah denied that he saw Him with his eyes and Ibn 'Abbaas affirmed that he saw Him with his heart. Some versions of the report narrated from Ibn 'Abbaas refers to seeing without specifying how, and others indicate that it was with the heart. Sometimes he says that Muhammad saw his Lord, and sometimes he says that Muhammad saw Him. There is no clear statement from Ibn 'Abbaas which says that he saw Him with his eyes. Similarly Imaam Ahmad sometimes says that he saw Him and sometimes says that he saw Him with his heart. No one whom Ahmad heard said that he saw Him with his eyes. But some of his companions heard some of the words that did not specify how, and understood from that that he had seen Him with his eyes, just as some people heard the words of Ibn 'Abbaas that did not specify how, and understood from that that he had seen Him with his eyes. But there is nothing in the evidence to prove that he saw Him with his eyes, and that was not narrated from any of the Sahaabah. There is nothing in the Qur'aan or Sunnah to indicate that, rather the saheeh texts which indicate that he did not see Him are more definitive. In Saheeh Muslim it is narrated that Abu Dharr said: 'I asked the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), "Did you see your Lord?" He said, "He is veiled with Light, how could I see Him?"' And Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

 

'Glorified (and Exalted) be He (Allaah) [above all that (evil) they associate with Him] Who took His slave (Muhammad) for a journey by night from Al-Masjid Al-Haraam (at Makkah) to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsaa (in Jerusalem), the neighbourhood whereof We have blessed, in order that We might show him (Muhammad) of Our Ayaat (proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, etc.)'

 

[al-Isra' 17:1] 

 

If he had seen Him with his own eyes, that He would have mentioned that. The same applies to the words "Will you then dispute with him (Muhammad) about what he saw [during the Mi'raaj]?" [al-Najm 53:12 - interpretation of the meaning]. If he had seen Him with his own eyes, that would have been mentioned. 

 

It is proven from the saheeh texts and from the consensus of the salaf (first generations) of this ummah that no one can see Allaah with his eyes in this world, with the exception of the claim made by some that our Prophet Muhammad alone saw Him. But they are agreed that the believers will see Allaah on the Day of Resurrection with their own eyes just as they see the sun and the moon (in this world)." 

 

And Allaah knows best. (Source)

 

Yes indeed, Ibn Abbass clarified that when he said that the Prophet (peace be upon him) saw Allah, it was with special vision:

 

عَنْ اِبْن عَبَّاس أَيْضًا . وَقِيلَ : الْمَعْنَى لَا تُدْرِكهُ أَبْصَار الْقُلُوب , أَيْ لَا تُدْرِكهُ الْعُقُول فَتَتَوَهَّمهُ ; إِذْ " لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْء " [ الشُّورَى : 11 ] وَقِيلَ : الْمَعْنَى لَا تُدْرِكهُ الْأَبْصَار الْمَخْلُوقَة فِي الدُّنْيَا , لَكِنَّهُ يَخْلُق لِمَنْ يُرِيد كَرَامَته بَصَرًا وَإِدْرَاكًا يَرَاهُ فِيهِ كَمُحَمَّدٍ عَلَيْهِ السَّلَام

 

Reported on the authority of Ibn Abbas as well and he said: The meaning that the vision of the hearts cannot grasp Him, is that a person's mind cannot grasp Him in order to comprehend Him. "There is none like unto him" (Surah 42:11) and he said: The meaning is that the visions created here on earth, however he can create for those who want his generosity a vision and comprehension in order to see Him just like he did for Muhammad peace be upon him. (Abu 'Abdullah al-Qurtubi, Tasfir al Jami' li-ahkam al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 6:103, Source)

 

Thus, Aisha was denying that the Prophet (peace be upon him) didn't see Allah with his actual eyes and that is why she appealed to the Qur'anic verses as evidence. However, we know that the Qur'an states that the believers will see their Lord and this means that we can't see Allah with our eyes in this life.

 

It is possible that Aisha wasn't aware of the Prophet's experience or perhaps she meant to refute the misconception that the Prophet (peace be upon him) with his own eyes saw Allah. Allah knows best.

 

At the end of the day, this does nothing to undermine the reliability of the hadith. These hadith only report the contradicting opinions between Aisha and Ibn Abbass (assuming that they are indeed contradicting one another) and not reporting contradicting stories.


Fourth Contradiction

Do women nullify prayers or not? Yes they do:

Abu Dharr reported: THE MESSENGER OF 'ALLAH (may peace be upon him) SAID: When any one of you stands for prayer and there is a thing before him equal to the back of the saddle that covers him and in case there is not before him (a thing) equal to the back of the saddle, HIS PRAYER WOULD BE CUT OFF BY (passing of an) ASS, WOMAN, AND BLACK DOG. I said: O Abu Dharr, what feature is there in a black dog which distinguish it from the red dog and the yellow dog? He said: O, son of my brother, I asked the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) as you are asking me, and he said: The black dog is a devil. (Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 1032)

Abu Huraira reported: THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH (may peace be upon him) SAID: A WOMAN, AN ASS AND A DOG DISRUPT THE PRAYER, but something like the back of a saddle guards against that. (Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 1034)

No they don't:

Narrated 'Aisha:
The things which annul the prayers were mentioned before me. They said, "Prayer is annulled by a dog, a donkey AND A WOMAN (if they pass in front of the praying people)." I said, "You have made us (i.e. women) dogs. I saw the Prophet praying while I used to lie in my bed between him and the Qibla. Whenever I was in need of something, I would slip away, for I disliked to face him." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 9,
Number 490)

This does not show that the hadeeth are contradicting one another. This only shows that Aisha and the other companions are contradicting one another. These hadeeth are authentically reporting the conflicts between the companions. It is acknowledged by every Muslim scholar that the companions differed with each other over jurisprudential issues. This is not a problem.

Thus, when the hadeeth authentically report the differences this doesn't change the fact that the hadeeth are still authentic!

Now as for this dispute between the companions, Imam Nawawi states:

وقال مالك وأبو حنيفة والشافعي رضي الله عنهم وجمهور العلماء من السلف والخلف : لا تبطل الصلاة بمرور شيء من هؤلاء ولا من غيرهم , وتأول هؤلاء هذا الحديث على أن المراد بالقطع نقص الصلاة لشغل القلب بهذه الأشياء , وليس المراد إبطالها  

Imam Maalik, Abu Hanifah and Al Shafi (may Allah be pleased with them) and the majority of the scholars from the Salaf and Khalaf said: The prayer is not annulled by the passing by of any of them (i.e. dog, donkey and woman) and from no one else. These scholars have interpreted the hadith to mean that what is meant by "cut off" is that there is a decrease in the merits of the prayer due to the heart being distracted by these things and it is not meant that the prayers becomes invalid. (Imam Nawawi, Sharh Saheeh Muslim, Kitab: Al Salah, Bab: Qadr Ma Yastor Al Musalli, Commentary on Hadith no. 789, Source)

Imam Nawawi commenting on the hadith of Aisha states:

استدلت به عائشة رضي الله عنها والعلماء بعدها على أن المرأة لا تقطع صلاة الرجل , وفيه جواز صلاته إليها , وكره العلماء أو جماعة منهم الصلاة إليها لغير النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم لخوف الفتنة بها وتذكرها , وإشغال القلب بها بالنظر إليها , وأما النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فمنزه عن هذا كله وصلاته مع أنه كان في الليل , والبيوت يومئذ ليس فيها مصابيح .

Aisha and the scholars that came after her argued that the woman does not cut off the prayer of the man, and that it is valid. A group scholars have discouraged that one besides the Prophet (peace be upon him) prays in the presence of a woman for the fear of being tempted by her and having her occupying his mind and tempting him to look at her. As for the Prophet (peace be upon him), he is immune to all of this and his prayer at home was during the night time when it was dark, and the houses back then did not have lamps. (Imam Nawawi, Sharh Saheeh Muslim, Kitab: Al Salah, Bab: Al 'Itiraadh Bayna Yaday Al Musalli, Commentary on Hadith no. 791, Source)

One can see the opposing view over here.

Thus, this is a valid disagreement on a jurisprudential issue between the companions and the scholars. How does this cause us to doubt the reliability of hadith that transmits to us this difference of opinion?


Fifth Contradiction

How many wives did Solomon sleep with?

Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah's Prophet Solomon who had SIXTY WIVES, once said, "Tonight I will have sexual relation (sleep) with all my wives so that each of them will become pregnant and bring forth (a boy who will grow into) a cavalier and will fight in Allah's Cause." So he slept with his wives and none of them (conceived and) delivered (a child) except one who brought a half (body) boy (deformed). Allah's Prophet said, "If Solomon had said; 'If Allah Will,' then each of those women would have delivered a (would-be) cavalier to fight in Allah's Cause." (See Hadith No. 74 A, Vol. 4). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93,
Number 561)

Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, "Solomon (the son of) David said, 'Tonight I will sleep with SEVENTY LADIES each of whom will conceive a child who will be a knight fighting for "Allah's Cause."' His companion said, 'If Allah will.' But Solomon did not say so; therefore none of those women got pregnant except one who gave birth to a half child." The Prophet further said, "If the Prophet Solomon had said it (i.e. 'If Allah will') he would have begotten children who would have fought in Allah's Cause." Shuaib and Ibn Abi Az-Zinad said, "NINETY (women) IS MORE CORRECT (than seventy)." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55,
Number 635)

Narrated Abu Huraira:
(The Prophet) Solomon said, "Tonight I will sleep with (my) NINETY WIVES, each of whom will get a male child who will fight for Allah's Cause." On that, his companion (Sufyan said that his companion was an angel) said to him, "Say, 'If Allah will (Allah willing).'" But Solomon forgot (to say it). He slept with all his wives, but none of the women gave birth to a child, except one who gave birth to a half boy. Abu Huraira added: The Prophet said, "If Solomon had said, 'If Allah will' (Allah willing), he would not have been unsuccessful in his action, and would have attained what he had desired." Once Abu Huraira added: Allah apostle said, "If he had accepted." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 79,
Number 711)

Narrated Abu Huraira:
(The Prophet) Solomon son of (the Prophet) David said, "Tonight I will go round (i.e. have sexual relations with) ONE HUNDRED WOMEN (my wives) everyone of whom will deliver a male child who will fight in Allah's Cause." On that an Angel said to him, "Say: 'If Allah will.'" But Solomon did not say it and forgot to say it. Then he had sexual relations with them but none of them delivered any child except one who delivered a half person. The Prophet said, "If Solomon had said: 'If Allah will,' Allah would have fulfilled his (above) desire and that saying would have made him more hopeful." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62,
Number 169)

Ibn Hajar reconciles this as follows:

فمحصل الروايات ستون وسبعون وتسعون وتسع وتسعون ومائة , والجمع بينها أن الستين كن حرائر وما زاد عليهن كن سراري أو بالعكس , وأما السبعون فللمبالغة , وأما التسعون والمائة فكن دون المائة وفوق التسعين

 

The numbers that the narrations state are: "Sixty, seventy, ninety, ninety nine and hundred". The reconciliation between them is as follows. The sixty either refers to his wives or concubines. The seventy is a form of exaggeration. As for ninety and hundred, they have not gone above this. It is below hundred and above ninety (tis'een). (Ibn Hajar Al Asqalani, Fathul Bari, Kitab: Ahaadeeth Al Anbiyaa', Bab: Qawl Allah Ta'aalaa Wawahabnaa li Daawood Sulaaymaan ni'ma al 'abd inahu, Commentary on Hadith no. 3171, Source)

 

 

Imam Nawawi strengthens this point:

 

هذا كله ليس بمتعارض لأنه ليس في ذكر القليل نفي الكثير , وقد سبق بيان هذا مرات , وهو من مفهوم العدد

 

 

None of these narrations contradict one another, because there is no disavowal of many by mentioning the little, and the proof for this has already been mentioned several times and that is that the number is implied. (Imam Nawawi, Sharh Saheeh Muslim, Kitab: Al Aymaan, Bab: Al Istithnaa' Commentary on Hadith no. 3123, Source)

 

 

So what is the correct answer? The correct answer is ninety nine.

 

We explain the number sixty perhaps because the narrator intended to speak about either Solomon's wives or concubines, since the hadith only mentioned "women".

 

We explain the number seventy because it is a form of exaggeration in the Arabic language.

 

Imam Suyuti in his commentary states:

 

Ask forgiveness for them, O Muhammad (s), or do not ask forgiveness for them: this leaves the choice of asking forgiveness, or refraining, up to him; the Prophet (s) said, 'I have been given the choice, and I made it', meaning [the choice] to ask forgiveness, as reported by al-Bukhārī. If you ask forgiveness for them seventy times, God will not forgive them: it is said that the 'seventy' is intended to express [by hyperbole] a great frequency of asking forgiveness. (Jalal ud-Din Siyuti, Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Commentary on Surah 9:80, Source)

 

 

Imam Qurtubi argues the same thing in his commentary by quoting well known Arabic expressions (showing that people use the number seventy when they want to exaggerate or imply a higher number) and by appealing to 69:32 as an example.  

 

We explain the number ninety when it is said as tis'oon and not as tis'een as meaning that the number is ninety something.

 

We explain the number 100 because the narrator felt that it is a more completely adjusted number, thus he rounded it to hundred.

 

Thus, the narrators depending on the way they speak to others decided to express themselves in different ways. That is all.

 

 

In conclusion, the best argument that Shamoun probably brought forth is the last one regarding Solomon's wives. However, this can be reasonably explained if we had a better grasp of the Arabic language and tried to guess the possible intentions of the speakers.

 

The rest of Shamoun's arguments are due to his lack of knowledge in Islamic theology and jurisprudence, otherwise he would have known how to reconcile them.

 

 

 

 

 

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