Sam Shamoun's Inconsistency, Obfuscation and Red Herrings

A commentary on Sam Shamoun's:

"Shabir Ally's Inconsistency of Criteria"

 

The Christian propagandist and polemicist, Sam Shamoun, has come out with a few "responses" to Muslim apologist Shabir Ally (****) in order to assist his fellow polemicist James White in damage control.

This paper is a response to the following article.

http://www.answering-islam.org/Responses/Shabir-Ally/ipsissima_verba.htm

James White is probably better off without Shamoun since the latter merely introduces a series of red herrings to divert attention away from the original topics of discussion for obfuscation purposes. Shamoun's strategy is to overwhelm an opponent with irrelevancies, hoping that the original topic of discussion would soon be forgotten.

Not only that, but Shamoun also displays exceptional ignorance while discussing the irrelevant subjects, as we will shortly point out.

We will go through Shamoun's diatribe point by point.

 

Sam Shamoun said:

Just recently, noted Reformed apologist and scholar Dr. James R. White (*) debated Muslim polemicist Shabir Ally on the thesis, "Was Jesus Crucified as a Willing Sacrifice for the sins of God's People?"

It seems that Shabir has once again gone into damage control mode since he has written specific articles trying to offset the claims of Dr. White in order to give the impression that he did address the points raised against his position during the debate. Shabir's current responses can be found here (1, 2).

Response:

Shamoun gets the chronology wrong. It is James White who, being still in debate mode, began writing against Shabir Ally soon after the debate. Ally, in all instances, simply replied to White's attacks. Hence, White is the one doing the damage control, whereas Ally, like any other person, has the right to reply back.

Thus, to correct Shamoun:

White has once again gone into damage control mode since he had to write specific articles trying to offset the claims of Ally in order to give the misleading impression that he did address the points raised against his position during the debate.

 

Sam Shamoun said:

Since Dr. White has already started addressing some of the assertions and allegations which Ally has made in his recent articles against the NT corpus and the crucifixion (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) we will focus much of our efforts in this rebuttal to applying Shabir's own criteria against the Quran to see whether it stands up to his test of authenticity and historical veracity.

Response:

Shabir Ally's replies to the above are to be found here (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)

Shabir Ally will be writing more responses to White's remaining allegations in the near future inshallah.

We will show in this article that Shamoun has failed to demonstrate any alleged "inconsistency" on the part of Ally, nor has he applied "Shabir's criteria" against the Quran successfully at any time. Instead, we will show that Shamoun has indulged in red herrings on a massive scale, exhibited a gross lack of understanding of basic issues, revealed his own inconsistency and, worse, misunderstanding of Ally's position.

Sam Shamoun said:

Shabir questions the Gospel writers' telescoping and/or summarizing the speeches of specific persons since he feels that this doesn't give readers a high degree of confidence or trust that the authors have accurately transmitted the words of the speakers:

Response:

In other words, Shamoun seems to agree that in documents, which he deems to be inspired and inerrant, we do not find the literal statements of Jesus and others; instead, we come across "summaries" of speeches. In itself this appears to be fine. Shabir Ally has not argued that we should always be doubtful or sceptical regarding all of the words, stories and speeches in the gospels, but only that since we can observe changes being made in a number of places, we, therefore, cannot just blindly presume every story, speech and related event to be accurate. Some criteria are required to determine which bits are probably authentic/early and which are probably unhistorical.

In the entirety of his response, however, Shamoun will offer no reasons why we should presume that in every instance the gospel writers have "accurately" transmitted the words of the speakers through "telescoping and/or summarizing" or why we should presume a "high" degree of "confidence" in this regard in all cases.

Shamoun quotes Shabir Ally and writes:

. Matthew's report is shorter than that of Mark, but this fact has not been my point of objection. Rather, I agree that there is some benefit in summarizing the story even as we have done herein above. However, Matthew's version is not a mere prcis of the story. Matthew's story is different in an important respect. Matthew has Jairus saying to Jesus from the start:

"My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live." (Matthew 9:18)

I argued in the Biola debate that Matthew's change in the story line fits a larger pattern, not only involving other such changes within Matthew's Gospel, but across the Gospels in general. Modern scholars are in considerable agreement that Mark is the first of the four Gospels; that John is the last; and that Matthew and Luke used Mark as one of their sources.

Dr. White's answer to this, ignoring the further development in Luke and John, was that Matthew did nothing wrong in summarizing the story. He referred to Matthew's action as'telescoping', by which he obviously means that Matthew has drawn in the ends of the story to make it shorter. He correctly pointed out that Matthew achieved brevity by omitting the later part about someone else coming with news of the girl's death. To Dr. White, Matthew did not change the broad facts of the story in having Jairus declare the girl dead from the start, since we still get the same basic information from both Matthew and Mark.

I maintained my objection that this manner of changing the fact of the girl's condition, and of changing a person's quoted speech, was unacceptable. Moreover, in my conclusion, I emphasized that the fact that the Gospel writers have telescoped their narratives in this way implies that no speech of any person in the Gospels can be taken as the Gospel Truth. We can no longer have confidence that any of the reported speeches of Jesus, for example, are really his. These too may have been 'telescoped' in the sense of having been changed significantly [sic] as has been the speech of Jairus in Matthew's Gospel.

. If, as I have argued in both debates, the Gospel of Matthew has changed the stories from they way they appear in Mark's Gospel, then the Gospels are not entirely reliable. One has to be on the lookout for ways in which Matthew and others have evolved the tradition about Jesus, and one may expect that Mark has likewise, in his own way, altered the traditions available to him. (Relevance of The Story of Jairus' Daughter in the Seattle Debate; sources a, b; emphasis ours)

In another article Shabir writes that:

But even if one starts with the assumption that the writers were addressing different readers, a fair mind will be compelled, on examining the evidence, to conclude, all over again, that Matthew and Luke in using Mark have each in their own way modified the information about Jesus to make him conform to the writer's own view of Jesus. In our debates I have shown clear evidence of an author modifying the facts of the story about Jesus, such as in the story of Jairus' daughter. In this particular case James admitted that Matthew has telescoped the story; and I as I have pointed out, this gave Matthew the license to take what one man said and put in into the mouth of another man at a different point in the story. (Comments on the Dividing Line of Oct. 23, 2007, Part 1: a, b; underline emphasis ours)

In response we would like to mention that not only is Ally's position a-historical, ignoring how biographies and histories were written during the time of the NT writers, it is also un-Islamic.

Response:

In response we would like to mention that not only is Ally's position not a-historical it is neither un-Islamic. Shamoun is waffling here.

Besides the most conservative of scholarship and typical apologetic tracts (Josh McDowell, for example), New Testament scholarship recognizes that in the gospels we do not have pure history; that there was creativity during the dissemination process of the Jesus traditions prior to the composition of the gospels and that, subsequently, the gospel authors too creatively handled these traditions suiting their needs and requirements. The question is: how much creativity took place prior to the composition of the canonical gospels and to what extent did the gospel writers shape the traditions? In other words, how many changes occurred? While almost all scholars agree that changes did occur, there is disagreement pertaining to its extent. Be that as it may, New Testament scholars have come to recognize that not everything within the gospels is "historical" and that there are both historically viable as well as questionable elements within them. In order to identify these, criteria have been devised by scholars, of varying worth, which are applied carefully to judge the authenticity of specific parts of the gospels.

The above is a very brief summary of New Testament scholarly views on the gospels. Although he does not say it in so many words, Shamoun is essentially labelling this accepted view as "a-historical."

Sam Shamoun said:

Shabir fails to mention that Islamic scholarship has accepted the position that various reports do not have to repeat the very exact words of a speaker (Ipsissima Verba) as long as they accurately transmit the gist of a person's statements (Ipsissima Vox).

Response:

Shamoun fails to realize that Muslims do not regard the hadiths to be inerrant. Also, Shabir Ally had already compared the hadith with the New Testament and had explained that among the Islamic literature the hadiths (and sira) are most comparable and similar to the gospels. Thus, since the hadiths may present a person's direct wording and, in other cases, only an accurate (and not so accurate) gist/summary of a person's speech, we need to apply criteria to determine the grade of authenticity of individual hadiths. In fact, as we continue to read Shamoun's paper, we find him quoting Shabir Ally saying just that! Near the end Shamoun quotes Ally's following words (emphasis ours):

I do not believe, however, that so far James has succeeded in showing that I have committed this error, though I am well aware of his numerous attempts. In the Biola debate, for example, it turned out that the opposite phenomenon was at work. James would not want me to apply the same critical standards I use to evaluate Islam's hadiths now to evaluate the Gospels. Using these critical standards we grade hadiths and pronounce them as either authentic or inauthentic words of the Prophet Muhammad. Naturally, I would want to apply similar standards to the Gospels to determine if the words attributed to Jesus therein are really his. James did not seem to welcome this approach to the Gospels. Of course, if I do apply these strict standards, the Gospels would all fail the test in a wholesale fashion, for they would lack a continuous trace of reliable reporters from Jesus to the writer of the Gospels.

So then, the comparison between the hadiths and the gospels was already made.

However, Ally adopts the methodology of New Testament scholarship for the critical examination of the gospels and does not apply upon them the stringent criteria devised by hadith scholars since doing so would render the entire New Testament corpus worthless due to the conditions laid out by hadith scholars being so stringent.

Ally goes on to explain in the same paper (emphasis ours):

I leave aside these strict standards, however, in my attempt to give the Gospels a chance to speak to me as it speaks to Christians. But I have to apply at least some standards. The best I could rely on is the highly developed scholarship that builds upon centuries of previous scholarship. These are Christian Biblical scholars to whom I usually appeal. Some of them have reached some conclusions which can be used as the basis on which to question some aspects of the Christian faith. I do not believe that I am inconsistent in referring to these scholars.

The hadiths are not viewed as inerrant. They can contain mistakes. Even authentic hadiths may contain mistakes and discrepancies. There are both authentic and inauthentic hadiths and some authentic hadiths may be more reliable than other authentic hadiths. Just as some may offer us a close approximation of Muhammad's (peace be upon him) words, others may only relate his teachings in someone else's wording or simply present a gist - which may or may not be accurate. Then there may be hadiths, which do offer us Muhammad's (peace be upon him) literal words or accurate gist and summaries of his speeches. All of these diverse types of hadiths exist and Muslim scholars take into account a variety of factors in judging the level of authenticity of a given hadith.

Just as we need criteria to make sense of the hadiths, we likewise need criteria to assess the information within the gospels.

If this is the way Shamoun regards the gospels, then that is perfectly fine since we regard the gospels as errant documents. But the problem is that Shamoun, although he does not say so in so many words, deems the gospels as God's inerrant and inspired Scripture. For him there can be no "less reliable" details within the gospels and no conceivable errors of any type. Shamoun a priori rules out the possibility of there being any type of discrepancy within the gospels or there being any inaccurate gist therein. For him these documents are fully inerrant. This unreasonable estimation and view of the gospels is very different from the way Muslims view the hadiths.

In other words, Shamoun wants to compare the hadith with the New Testament, which is fine, but the hadith are not deemed inerrant by Muslims although Shamoun considers the entire New Testament as inerrant Scripture.

Shamoun writes and quotes:

Note, for instance, what Shaykh Gibril F. Haddad writes concerning the early Muslim acceptance of Ipsissima Vox:

The H.anafi h.adith Master Murtad.a al-Zabidi began his great commentary on the Ih.ya' with an explanation that al-Ghazzali's method of h.adith citation - conveying the general meaning WITHOUT ascertaining the exact wording - had a basis in the practice of the Companions and Salaf: .

<<A number of the Companions have permitted the conveyance of Prophetic h.adiths in their meanings (riwaya bil-ma'na) RATHER THAN THEIR VERY WORDINGS (riwaya bil-alfaz.). Among them: 'Ali, Ibn 'Abbas, Anas ibn Malik, Abu al-Darda', Wathila ibn al-Asqa', and Abu Hurayra.

Also, a greater number of the Successors, among them: the Imam of Imams al-H.asan al-Bas.ri, al-Sha'bi, 'Amr ibn Dinar, Ibrahim al-Nakha'i, Mujahid , and 'Ikrima.. Ibn Sirin said: "I would hear a h.adith from ten different people, the meaning remaining one BUT THE WORDINGS DIFFERING."

Similarly, the Companions' wordings in their narrations from the Prophet have differed one from another. Some of them, for example, will narrate a complete version; OTHERS WILL NARRATE THE GIST OF MEANING; OTHERS WILL NARRATE AN ABRIDGED VERSION; OTHERS YET REPLACE CERTAIN WORDS WITH THEIR SYNONYMS, deeming that they have CONSIDERABLE LEEWAY as long AS LONG AS THEY DO NOT CONTRADICT THE ORIGINAL MEANING. None of them intends a lie, and all of them aim for truthfulness and the report of what he has heard: that is why they had leeway. They used to say: "Mendacity is only when one deliberately intends to lie."

.

The Imams of h.adith are UNANIMOUS in accepting the "narration in meaning" only on condition that the narrator masters the Arabic language and his narration does not present an aberration or anomaly (shudhudh), among other conditions.

Al-Zabidi's documentation of the majority position that it is permissible to narrate the h.adiths of the Prophet in their meanings rather than their wordings is also the position of Ibn al-S.alah. in his Muqaddima, but the latter avers that the dispensation no longer applies at a time when the h.adiths are available to all in published books.

Shaykh Nur al-Din 'Itr adopts the latter position: "The last word on this subject is to prohibit h.adith narration in the sense of meaning only, because the narrations have all been compiled in the manuals of h.adith, eliminating the need for such a dispensation." (Dr. G.F. Haddad, The Acceptability of H.adith Narration by Meaning vs. by Literal Wording H.adith Narration ad Sensum (riwaya bil-ma'na) vs. ad Litteram (bil-lafz.), September 2002; source; capital and underline emphasis ours)

 

Response:

Shaykh Gibril Haddad is absolutely right and we accept all of his words. The problem Shamoun needs to deal with is that the hadith are not inerrant whereas he deems the gospels to be inerrant. Thus, Muslims can view the gospels in the same way they view the hadith: as errant. As such, Muslims would apply criteria upon the gospels to ascertain the level of authenticity of its various components, just as they do so with the hadith. 

Like hadith scholars, Biblical scholars have also devised criteria to ascertain the authenticity of the different stories and claims within the canonical gospels.  Shabir Ally casts aside the Islamic criteria, which tend to be strict (e.g. anything lacking a chain of transmission is unacceptable) and, instead, does nothing more than adopt the criteria devised by New Testament scholars.

Therefore, Shabir Ally works within the scholarly New Testament paradigm when it comes to the New Testament writings.

 

Sam Shamoun said:

Shabir may object and say that this phenomena is only true with the hadith literature, but not with the Quran. He may contend that the Quran contains the exact words of God precisely as they were revealed to Muhammad.

Response:

Shabir Ally would be absolutely right in saying this.

Sam Shamoun said:

This position is problematic for at least a couple of reasons.

Response:

This position is not problematic for any of the reasons submitted by Shamoun as we will demonstrate below.

Shamoun will next spend a lot of time discussing the subject of the "modes" of the Quran and its recitation. We will show that he is presenting an irrelevant discussion and that his conclusion - that the Quran cannot contain the exact Words of God precisely as they were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) - cannot be reasonably derived from any of the "reasons" submitted by Shamoun below. Put simply, it does not follow. Shamoun will be committing the fallacy of non sequitur throughout.

Sam Shamoun said:

First, according to Islamic tradition the Quran was transmitted through seven different modes:

Narrated Ubayy ibn Ka'b
Ubayy told of Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) meeting Gabriel and saying, "I have been sent, Gabriel, to a people who are unlettered, among whom are old women and old men, boys and girls, and men who have never read a book." He replied, "The Qur'an, Muhammad, has been sent down in seven modes."
Tirmidhi transmitted it. (Hadith of Tirmidhi, Number 694; Alim CD-Rom Version)

 

Response:

The transmission of the Quran in the seven different modes does not negate the Muslim claim that the Quran is God's direct revelation, exact wording, and message, since all of the seven modes, with all the differences between them, are believed by Muslims to have been directly revealed by God and, therefore, constitute the exact words of God.

Shamoun will now go on and on regarding the subject of the modes, all along overlooking the above. In fact as he continues he will cite traditions and reports, which clearly state that God revealed all of the seven modes and that all of their differences are revealed and are of equal status. Worse, Shamoun will even proceed to acknowledge that this is what his cited sources say! In light of this, Shamoun's entire ranting on the modes is nothing more than a bizarre, pointless, and confused exercise. 

Sam Shamoun said:

These modes were so different that it caused certain Muslims great alarm and doubt:

 

Narrated 'Umar bin Al-Khattab:
I heard Hisham bin Hakim reciting Surat-al-Furqan during the lifetime of Allah's Apostle, I listened to his recitation and noticed that he was reciting in a way that Allah's Apostle had not taught me. I was about to jump over him while he was still in prayer, but I waited patiently and when he finished his prayer, I put my sheet round his neck (and pulled him) and said, "Who has taught you this Sura which I have heard you reciting?" Hisham said, "Allah's Apostle taught it to me." I said, "You are telling a lie, for he taught it to me in a way different from the way you have recited it!" Then I started leading (dragged) him to Allah's Apostle and said (to the Prophet), "I have heard this man reciting Surat-al-Furqan in a way that you have not taught me." The Prophet said: "(O 'Umar) release him! Recite, O Hisham." Hisham recited in the way I heard him reciting. Allah's Apostle said, "It was REVEALED like this." Then Allah's Apostle said, "Recite, O 'Umar!" I recited in the way he had taught me, whereupon he said, "It was REVEALED like this," and added, "The Quran has been REVEALED to be recited in seven different ways, so recite of it whichever is easy for you." (See Hadith No. 514, Vol. 6) (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93,
Number 640)

 

Response:

When Shamoun alleges that these modes were "so" different, he is indulging in hyperbole. On the contrary, the above example exposes the exaggeration since when Hisham bin Hakim recited the passage in question, Umar bin Al-Khattab recognized that it was from Surat-al-Furqan. This suggests that Hisham bin Hakim's recitation was not "so" different so as to become unrecognisable. It was similar to Umar bin Al-Khattab's recitation, though not 100 per cent identical to it, to the point that the latter knew where it was from. In other words, they were not "so" different after all, but incredibly similar. But even minor differences alarmed Umar bin Al-Khattab.

Secondly, note the statement by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), which Shamoun himself emphasised!:

Allah's Apostle said, "It was REVEALED like this." . he [Muhammad] said, "It was REVEALED like this," and added, "The Quran has been REVEALED to be recited in seven different ways, so recite of it whichever is easy for you."

This clearly states that both God REVEALED both modes, therefore, this constitutes that they were both God's direct wording. Muhammad (peace be upon him) says that God has REVEALED the seven modes. Likewise, the differences between them are all of equal status and they are all REVEALED.

Thus, for arguments sake, let us suppose that the modes were indeed "so" different. So what? The bottom line is that God, representing His Word and Message, revealed them all. ALL OF THE DIFFERENCES WITHIN THEM ARE REVEALED AND INSPIRED.

Finally, the above example shows how the companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), in this case Umar, took very seriously the recitation of the Quran and its accuracy. This was an issue of immense concern for Prophet Muhammad's (peace be upon him) companions and we can, therefore, conclude that they would most assuredly take every step to ensure the integrity of the text.

Sam Shamoun said:

What makes this report rather interesting is that both Umar and Hisham belonged to the same Quraish tribe and therefore spoke the same dialect. This conclusively shows that the differences in their readings weren't the result of a difference in their respective dialects.

Response:

This is beside the point. Remember again the basic point:

ALL of the modes were revealed by God and are His direct Word and Message, and ALL OF THE DIFFERENCES WITHIN THEM ARE REVEALED AND INSPIRED. This remains the case even if the modes probably did not relate to dialects, or whatever explanation about them one accepts. 

 

Shamoun quotes:

And:

Ubayy b. Ka'b said : When I was in the mosque as a man entered and prayed and recited in a manner to which I objected. Afterwards a man entered and recited in a manner different from the other. When we had finished the prayer we all went to visit God's messenger, and I said, "This man recited in a manner different from his." The Prophet then commanded them to recite, and when they had done so he expressed approval of both of them. This made me inclined to tell him HE WAS WRONG, even to the extent I had never reached in the pre-Islamic period; and when God's messenger noticed how I was affected he gave me a pat on the chest, whereupon I broke into a sweat and was filled with fear as though I were looking at God. He then said to me, "A message was sent to me, Ubayy, to recite the Qur'an in one mode, but when I replied that I wished matters to be made easy for my people, a second message instructed me to recite it in two modes. Again I replied that I wished matters to be made easy for my people, and a third message instructed me to recite it in seven modes. I being told at the same time that I might ask something for each reply I had received. I therefore said, 'O God, forgive my people. O God, forgive my people;' and I have delayed the third request till the day of intercession." Muslim transmitted it. (Miskhat al-Masabih, English Translation with Explanatory Notes by Dr. James Robson [SH. Muhammad Ashraf Publishers, Booksellers & Exporters, Lahore PK, reprinted 1990], Book VIII.-The Excellent Qualities of the Qur'an, Chapter III, pp. 466-467; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Response:

This hadith also shows that all of the modes and the differences between them are all revealed by God. So we thank Shamoun for affirming our point.

Let us present the key lines from the above:

The Prophet then commanded them to recite, and when they had done so he expressed approval of both of them ."A message was sent to me, Ubayy, to recite the Qur'an in one mode, but when I replied that I wished matters to be made easy for my people, a second message instructed me to recite it in two modes. Again I replied that I wished matters to be made easy for my people, and a third message instructed me to recite it in seven modes.

This passage also shows that all seven modes are revealed, thus they are God's direct Word/Message, and all the differences between them are revealed and of equal status.

If they are approved by Allah's Messenger then we have no problem accepting these modes as revelation from God.

Shamoun quotes and writes:

Another Quran compiler, Abdullah Ibn Masud, was also taken aback:

Ibn Mas'ud said: I heard a man who recited, and as I had heard the Prophet reciting differently I took him to the Prophet and told him and noticed that he gave me a disapproving look. He then said, "Both of you are doing it well, so do not disagree, for your predecessors disagreed and perished." Bukhari transmitted. (Ibid., p. 466)

Response:

This example too affirms the previously cited hadiths, that the modes and all of the differences between them are revealed by God. Note the key sentence:

He then said, "Both of you are doing it well, so do not disagree, for your predecessors disagreed and perished."

Sam Shamoun said:

The most amazing thing about this is that Muslim scholars till this day do not know what the exact differences between these seven modes were, with some scholars proposing as many as thirty-five different possibilities and explanations!

Response:

Besides engaging in a subject that is completely irrelevant to the original topic of the discussion and the exchanges between White and Ally, Shamoun misses the simple point that the fact that we do not know "exactly" what the ahruf are does not negate the fact that they are all revealed by God. That all the modes and the differences between them are revealed by God is said again and again by Shamoun's own cited sources.

Their revealed status is not changed by the differences of opinion among scholars over their exact nature and meaning. All of these scholars, while disagreeing and adopting different positions, acknowledge, nonetheless, that all of the ahruf are God's revelation and all of the differences between them are revealed by God.

Shamoun also fails to note that most opinions on the ahruf agree, however, that their main objective was to facilitate the Quran's recitation.

Sam Shamoun said:

To make matters worse, the third caliph Uthman ibn Affan decided to destroy six of the seven modes which Muhammad claimed were revealed to him by God:

Response:

So Shamoun acknowledges that the seven modes are said to be revealed by God. In any case, he again completely misses the point and only makes matters worse for himself by utilising exceptionally poor arguments.

Let us suppose that the above is absolutely correct (even though it isn't) and that Uthman did destroy six modes, sparing only one. The one remaining mode, however, is also GOD'S DIRECT REVELATION AND WORD.

Notice that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said that seven modes were revealed to him (peace be upon him). He (peace be upon him) did not say that six modes were revealed while the seventh was not quite revealed. So if you eliminate six, you are still left with one. This last surviving mode, like the other six eliminated modes, is God's direct Revelation and Word.

Before considering the passage Shamoun proceeds to cite, it should be noted here that the above opinion, namely, that six of the seven modes were destroyed, is just one acceptable opinion, though a widely dismissed one at that. Imam Tabari adhered to this view. His position was that the mode preserved by Uthman was the Quraishi mode, whereas the permission of the recitation in the remaining modes was a concession, meant for a limited period.

Be that as it may, not only do most scholars reject this opinion, but even if we accept it, it causes no "problem" since the mode that was preserved was also revealed by God.

Shamoun writes and quotes:

Scholars disagree about what is meant by the seven modes, and there are thirty-five things mentioned by al-Busti. We will mention five of them here:

-This is the position of most of the people of knowledge, such as Sufyan ibn 'Uyayna, 'Abdullah ibn Wahb, at-Tabari, at-Tahawi and others. What is meant are the seven manners of synonyms with different expressions, like aqbala, ta'ala and halluma (all of which mean "come here"). At-Tahawi said, "The clearest elucidation of that is what is mentioned in the hadith of Abu Bakra, 'Jibril came to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and said, "Recite in one mode." Mika'il said, "Increase it." He said, "Recite it in two modes." Mika'il said, "Increase it," until it was seven modes. He said, "Recite it. Each is adequate unless you confuse an ayat of mercy for an ayat of punishment or an ayat of punishment with an ayat of mercy."' That is like halluma, ta'ala, aqbala, adhhaba, asra'a and 'ajjala. It is related from Ibn 'Abbas that Ubayy ibn Ka'b used to recite "wait for us" (57:13) "undhuruna" as "umhuluna", "akhkhiruna", and "arqubuna". With the same isnad, it is reported that Ubayy recited in 2:19 "marru" instead of "mashaw" and "sa'aw" (they walk). In al-Bukhari, az-Zuhri said, "These modes are about the same matter. They do not differ in respect of the halal and haram."

At-Tahawi said, "There was scope for people in the letters since they were unable to take the Qur'an in other than their dialects because they were illiterate and only a few of them could write. It was hard for someone with a dialect to change to another. If he wanted to do that, it would have entailed great hardship and so they were given scope regarding different expressions as long as the meaning was the same. They remained like that until many of them could write and the dialects reverted to that of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Then they were able to memorise those words and they no longer had the allowance to recite differently." Ibn 'Abdu'l-Barr said, "It is clear that scope for the seven modes was at a particular time out of necessity. When that necessity was removed, the ruling of the seven was removed, and the Qur'an was recited IN ONE MODE."

- Some people say that the seven dialects in the Qur'an are the seven dialects of all the Arabs, both Yamani and Nizar, because the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was not ignorant of any of them. He was "given all the words". It does not mean that the one mode has seven aspects, but these seven dialects are in different parts of the Qur'an. Some of it is in the dialect of Quraysh, some in that of Hudhayl, some in Hawazin, and some in Yamani. Al-Khattabi said, "That is how the Qur'an is recited in seven ways." This is the meaning of the Qur'an being revealed in seven modes. Al-Qasim ibn Sallam believed that and Ibn 'Atiyya preferred it. Some tribes used writing more than others. Anas mentioned that when 'Uthman told them copy out the Qur'an, he said, "When you and Zayd differ, then write in the dialect of Quraysh. It was revealed in their dialect." (al-Bukhari)

Qadi Ibn at-Tayyib [al-Baqillani] said, "The meaning of 'Uthman's words that it was revealed in the dialect of Quraysh, means most of it. It is not a definitive proof that it is all in the dialect of Quraysh since there are words and letters which differ from the dialect of Quraysh. This indicates that it was revealed in all the language of the Arabs, and no one can say that it was just Quraysh or one part of the Arabs rather than others. Ibn 'Abdu'l-Barr said that this meant that most of it was revealed in the dialect of Quraysh because other than the dialect of Quraysh exists in sound readings with the use of the hamzas and the like. Quraysh did not use the hamza. Ibn 'Atiyya said that the meaning of the "seven modes" is that the expressions of the seven tribes are in it.

- These seven dialects are all from the tribes of Mudar. Some people said that. They used as evidence what 'Uthman said, "The Qur'an was revealed in the language of Mudar." They said, "It is possible that part of it is that of Quraysh, part Kinana, part Asad, part Hudhayl, part Taym, part Daba, and part Qays. They said these tribes of Mudar contain the seven dialects in these ranks. Ibn Mas'ud used to like those who copied out the Qur'ans to be from Mudar. Others objected to the idea that it was all from Mudar and said that there are rare usages in Mudar with which it is not permitted to write the Qur'an.

- What is related from some scholars is exemplified by Qadi Ibn at-Tayyib who said, "I have reflected on the aspects of the differences in recitation and have found them to be seven. Some involve changes of voweling while the meaning and form remain, like atharu and athara in 11:78; some do not change their form but change their meaning through inflection, as in 36:19, reading ba'id or ba'ida; some retain their form and change their meaning with different letters; some change the form while the meaning remains as in 101:5 where both 'ahn and suf mean wool; some change their form and meaning; some entail a change of order; and some consist of addition or reduction.

- What is meant by the seven modes are meanings in the Book of Allah: command and prohibition, promise and threat, stories, arguments and parables. Ibn 'Atiyya says that this is weak because that is not called ahruf. Furthermore there is consensus that it does not occur in making the lawful lawful or changing any of the meanings. Qadi Ibn at-Tayyib mentioned a hadith along these lines from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and then said, "This is not part of what it is allowed for them to recite." Harf in this means 'manner' as Allah says, 'one who worships Allah on an edge.' (22:11). That is the meaning of the hadith about the seven means of allowing and forbidding and the like.

It is also said that what is meant by the seven ahruf are the seven readings that we have because all of that is sound as the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, stated. This, however, is not correct, as we will now explain. (Aisha Bewley, Selections from the Introduction of Tafsir al-Qurtubi; source; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)

As we noted earlier, and as can be seen from the above quotation, these modes couldn't simply be dialectal in nature but included major variations in wording.

Response:

Again we see hyperbole from Shamoun. Overwhelmingly, the modes were the same. But in some places there were differences between them, mostly of a minor nature and occasionally differences in the wording and phrasing. That they differed from one another in different places is not at all being denied. Nonetheless, whatever explanation of the modes one adopts, all agree upon this point: ALL SEVEN MODES WERE REVEALED BY GOD.

Secondly, ALL OF THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THEM WERE DIRECTLY REVEALED BY GOD.

Now even if we say that the modes were totally different from one another and entirely unrecognizable (which is a larger exaggeration than the one made by Shamoun) when compared with each other, it would amount to NOTHING since it still remains the case that all of these hugely and massively divergent modes were directly Revealed by God and are His direct words.

If six are destroyed in a nuclear war and only one remains, then this last surviving mode still remains God direct Word and Revelation, no matter how many massive differences it may have compared to the other revealed modes.

Shamoun writes and quotes:

Here are few more examples to illustrate this point:

Ubayy b. Ka'b reported: The Prophet (may peace be upon him) said: Ubayy, I was asked to recite the Qur'an. I was asked: In one mode or two modes? The angel that accompanied me said: Say in two modes. I said: In two modes. I was again asked: In two modes or three? The angel that was in my company said: Say, in three modes. So I said: In three modes. The matter reached up to seven modes. He then said: Each mode is sufficiently health-giving, whether you utter "all-hearing and all-knowing" or instead "all-powerful and all-wise". This is valid until you finish the verse indicating punishment on mercy and finish the verse indicating mercy on punishment. (Sunan Abu Dawud, English translation with explanatory notes by Prof. Ahmad Hasan [Sh. Muhammad Ashraf Publishers, Booksellers & Exporters; Lahore, Pakistan, 1984], Volume I, Hadith Number 1472, p. 387; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Response:

Thanks for citing this hadith. It reiterates our point: all of the ahruf are revealed directly by God, together with ALL of the differences between them.

Shamoun writes and quotes:

Interestingly, Ibn Masud's recension of the Quran had an extra clause which is not found in the text used by Muslims today:

Response:

There is no such thing as a "recension" of Ibn Masud and the texts which Shamoun proceeds to cite mention Ibn Masud's recitation or recital.

Shamoun quotes and writes:

Narrated Alqama:
I went to Sham and was offering a two-Rak'at prayer; I said, "O Allah! Bless me with a (pious) companion." Then I saw an old man coming towards me, and when he came near I said, (to myself), "I hope Allah has given me my request." The man asked (me), "Where are you from?" I replied, "I am from the people of Kufa." He said, "Weren't there amongst you the Carrier of the (Prophet's) shoes, Siwak and the ablution water container? Weren't there amongst you the man who was given Allah's Refuge from the Satan? And weren't there amongst you the man who used to keep the (Prophet's) secrets which nobody else knew? How did Ibn Um 'Abd (i.e. 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud) use to recite Surat-al-lail (the Night: 92)?" I recited:--

"By the Night as it envelops By the Day as it appears in brightness. And by male and female." (92.1-3) On that, Abu Darda said, "BY ALLAH, the Prophet made me read the Verse in this way after listening to him, but these people (of Sham) TRIED THEIR BEST to let me say something different." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 57, Number 105)

Narrated Ibrahim:
The companions of 'Abdullah (bin Mas'ud) came to Abu Darda', (and before they arrived at his home), he looked for them and found them. Then he asked them,: "Who among you can recite (Qur'an) as 'Abdullah recites it?" They replied, "All of us." He asked, "Who among you knows it by heart?" They pointed at 'Alqama. Then he asked Alqama, "How did you hear 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud reciting Surat Al-Lail (The Night)?" Alqama recited:

'By the male and the female.' Abu Ad-Darda said, "I TESTIFY that I heard the Prophet reciting it likewise, but these people want me to recite it:--

'And by Him Who created male and female.' BUT BY ALLAH, I WILL NOT FOLLOW THEM." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 468; see also Volume 5, Book 57, Number 85)

Contrast Ibn Masud's reading which he received directly from Muhammad with what we find now:

And by Him Who created male and female; S. 92:3 Hilali-Khan

Response:

Nothing in the above states that the odd recitation in question, as well as the common one, was not God's direct revelation.

The recital, "By the male and the female," was taught by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to Ibn Masud. The common recitation, "And by Him Who created male and female," was also taught by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to his companions. Both are, therefore, authoritative and directly Revealed by God. However, the first recital was most probably later abrogated by Muhammad (peace be upon him); hence it is no longer deemed to be a part of the Quran. This, of course, does nothing to affect the status of the other (common) reading.

However, Abu Darda' did not know about the abrogation. Later, however, he accepted the recitation "By the creation of male and female" since this is also transmitted from him!

 

Interestingly enough, the common recitation is also transmitted by Ibn Masud and 'Alqamah!

 

As Ibn Hajar explains:

 

This recitation was not transmitted except through those mentioned here and everybody else recited "By the creation of male and female" and this is the established recitation despite the authentic chain of transmitters of the other recitation up to Abul Darda' and those mentioned with him. This is probably from among what was abrogated and its abrogation was not acknowledged by Abul Darda' and those mentioned with him. It is strange that the huffaz of Kufa transmitted this recitation on the authority of Ibn Masud and 'Alqamah up to whom the authority of recitation in Kufa ends, then none of them recited it. People of Sham as well transmitted the recitation on the authority of Abul Darda' and none of them recited this. This enforces the fact that this recitation was abrogated. (Ibn Hajar, Fath-ul-Bari fe Sharh Sahih-el-Bukhari, Book of "Exegesis of the Qur'an", Chapter 442, Number 3966)

 

 

Thus the recitation "By the creation of male and female" is not only transmitted by Abu Darda' and Ibn Masud, but is also transmitted by those who learnt the Quran from them. Obviously, Abul Darda' later realized that the former recitation was abrogated.

 

Furthermore, even if one rejects the above explanation, Shamoun's argument still does not work. To remind the readers, Shamoun is citing these and other passages to "show" that the Quran could not be deemed as God's direct Word and Revelation. But the above example does not support this conclusion in any manner since both recitations were taught by Muhammad (peace be upon him) and are God's direct Word and Revelation. If we dismiss the reading "By the male and the female," the other reading ("And by Him Who created male and female,") remains God's direct Word and Revelation. But if we accept both readings, then we are saying that they both constitute God's direct Word and Revelation.

To sum up, there are two ways of looking at this.

1. Both readings can be read and are valid;

2. The isolated reading is abrogated and, therefore, "shadh" (despite having an authentic transmission, it is not taken into consideration due to stronger corroboration from more authentic chains stating something else.)

The second position is more probable, which means that the isolated reading's recital, although being God's direct Revelation, was subsequently abrogated.

It is more likely that a few narrators would make a mistake as opposed to a mass transmission. Most importantly, however, there can be no doubt whatsoever regarding the authenticity of the common reading since it is not only mass narrated but also because it is narrated by even those who narrated "By the creation of male and female"!

Sam Shamoun said:

This isn't the only passage with a disputed clause:

"The prophet is closer to the believers than their own selves, and his wives are their mothers." Q. 33:6

This is how this passage reads in the Uthmanic recension, yet other recensions included an additional statement concerning Muhammad's relationship to the believers:

"In spiritual relationship the Prophet is entitled to more respect and consideration than blood-relations. The Believers should follow him rather than their fathers or mothers or brothers, where there is conflict of duties. He is even nearer - closer to our real interests - than our own selves. IN SOME QIRAATS, LIKE THAT OF UBAI IBN KA'B, occur also the words 'and he is a father to them,' which imply his spiritual relationship and connect on with the words, 'and his wives are their mothers.' Thus his spiritual fatherhood would be contrasted pointedly with the repudiation of the vulgar superstition of calling any one like Zaid ibn Haritha by the appellation Zaid ibn Muhammad (xxxiii. 40): such an appellation is really disrespectful to the Prophet." (Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur'an, p. 1104, fn. 3674)

Response

Two quick points first:

1. This is not about "recensions"; it has to do with readings, or qiraat, as the above makes it amply clear;

2. The impression is conveyed as if all other readings (which Shamoun wrongly labels "recensions") contained the uncommon addition through the sentence, ".yet other recensions included an additional statement ."

But note carefully that the citation says "some qiraats," one of them being the reading of Ubai Ibn Ka'b.

We can make a general argument here: both readings, the common one as well as the one recited by Ubai Ibn Ka'b, were directly revealed by God and taught by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The common reading, moreover, is also transmitted by Ubai Ibn Ka'b, which means that he accepted it in addition to his use of the odd reading. It should be noted that Ubai Ibn Ka'b was a member of the committee appointed by Uthman to produce the multiple copies of the Quran! Hence, the common reading carries his approval.

In other words, Ubai Ibn Ka'b's acceptance of the uncommon reading does nothing to invalidate the common reading. Simply, BOTH readings are revealed. Ubai Ibn Ka'b accepted both readings.

Consider two additional possibilities:

1. The reading ('and he is a father to them') is inauthentically reported and, therefore, was not revealed (it apparently goes against 33:40, but this may be reconciled as follows: 33:40 was sent on the occasion of Zayd, thus speaking about 'Father' in the literal sense, whereas the odd reading is speaking about a spiritual 'father' just as the prophets' wives are our spiritual mothers.);

2. It was revealed directly by God and belonged to one of the modes but its recitation was later abrogated by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), in which case it is no longer to be deemed a part of the Quran.

We are not arguing in favour of any of the above possibilities but simply pointing out that whatever position one adopts, it simply does nothing to bolster Shamoun's argument - (that the Quran cannot be viewed as God's direct Word and Revelation).

Shamoun is presenting irrelevancies in order to convince his readers to accept his argument.

Sam Shamoun said:

A renowned Muslim scholar of the past candidly admitted:

". An unusual reading of the Qur'an includes, 'He is a father to them,' but it is no longer recited since it is AT VARIANCE with the version of 'Uthman.'" (Muhammad Messenger of Allah (Ash-Shifa of Qadi 'Iyad), Qadi 'Iyad Musa al-Yahsubi, translated by Aisha Abdarrahman Bewley [Madinah Press, Inverness, Scotland, U.K. 1991; third reprint, paperback], pp. 29-30; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Qadi Iyad assumed that the Uthmanic text was more reliable, an assumption unsupported by the Islamic data.

Response:

Ubai Ibn Ka'b is one of the Quranic reciters and companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who belonged to the committee responsible for the production of the multiple copies of the Quran on the orders of Uthman. The common reading is part of these copies. So we know that Ubai Ibn Ka'b accepted the common reading and is, in fact, one of the transmitters of this reading. So while Qadi Iyad may or may not have been right about the status of the unusual reading, he was absolutely right in regarding the common reading as authentic based on the Islamic data.

Sam Shamoun said:

Be that as it may, the foregoing clearly shows that the differences weren't merely variations in dialect but also involved the omission or addition of words and phrases.

Response:

Muslims acknowledge that some differences, including differences in wording and some phrases, did exist among the readings of the Quran. This is not a disputed issue, although not every report relating an alleged difference between the readings is authentic/reliable (the reports have to be judged on a case by case basis).

The main point which goes over Shamoun's head is this: ALL OF THE READINGS/MODES ARE DIRECTLY REVEALED BY GOD AND ALL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEM ARE EQUALLY AUTHORITATIVE AND REVEALED BY GOD.

Shamoun's aim was to give us reasons for believing that the Quran should not be deemed as God's literal wording and His direct revelation in order to "show" the alleged inconsistency of Shabir Ally. But the texts Shamoun cites and the issues he brings up simply do not lead to his conclusion - that the Quran is cannot be viewed as God's direct Word and Revelation - and remain irrelevant to it.

Sam Shamoun said:

Moreover, the differences among the different and competing Quranic codices were so great that it led to internal fighting among the various Muslim communities:

Response:

From the differences between the 'modes' or 'readings', Shamoun suddenly jumps to 'codices'. He uses these terms interchangeably, which reveals his superficial understanding of the subject. In fact, they are not one and the same. 'Modes' and 'Readings' are not 'codices'. A READING, for example, would be hafs and warsh. When we say the 'reading' of hafs or warsh, we do not mean 'codices', or any particular manuscript/fragment. While the latter would contain within them the various readings and modes, and while one may chose to learn a particular reading's/readings or mode/modes from manuscript(s), they are themselves not 'readings' or 'modes'. Readings and modes can be learnt orally as well. 

In other words, while codices contain readings and modes - some just one, some more than one, some being incomplete copies etc. - readings and modes are not equivalent to 'codices'. Also, recitations and modes of the Quran are also learnt orally, not necessarily through 'codices', and a reciter can recite readings from memory without utilising a codex.  

The passages that Shamoun has already cited and the ones he will proceed to cite have nothing to say about the "so great differences" between "competing Quranic codices."  Instead, they refer to the differences - but not "so great differences" - in RECITATIONS and READINGS of the Quran, which led to internal fighting. As noted above, all of these readings were directly revealed by God and were, therefore, of equal status. God also directly revealed all of their differences. So the people - new converts to Islam, both Arabs and non-Arabs who were not trained in the recitation of the Quran - who were claiming that certain recitations were 'better' or 'superior' to others were mistaken, since all were revealed and of equal authority.

Shamoun merely 'reads' into the passage what he desperately wants to 'see' rather than what they actually say.

Let's consider his next citation block by block:

Shamoun cites:

"If it is asked what was the point of 'Uthman unifying people under a single copy of the Qur'an when Abu Bakr had already achieved that, then the response is that the aim of 'Uthman was not to gather people in order to compile the Qur'an. Do you not see that he sent to Hafsa to ask her to give him the copy of the Qur'an so that it could be copied out and then returned to her? 'Uthman did that BECAUSE PEOPLE WERE DISAGREEING ABOUT THE VARIOUS RECITATIONS owing to the fact that the Companions had spread to different areas AND HAD BEGUN TO STRONGLY DISAGREE, such as the conflict that took place between the people of Iraq and the people of Syria according to Hudhayfa.

Response:

Note the term "VARIOUS RECITATIONS." There is no mention here of "competing codices." RECITATIONS are not "codices". The above mentions differences between the RECITATIONS, which had led to disagreements. Thus, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had taught his (peace be upon him) companions the various recitations. These companions then settled in different areas after the passing away of the Prophet (peace be upon him). The companions then taught the recitations they had learnt from Muhammad (peace be upon him) to others where they had settled.

Shamoun cites:

"They joined an expedition to Armenia and each group recited what had been transmitted to them. They disagreed and quarrelled AND SOME OF THEM CALLED THE OTHERS UNBELIEVERS, RENOUNCING THEM COMPLETELY, CURSING ONE ANOTHER. Hudhayfa WAS ALARMED at what he saw. As soon as he arrived back to Medina, according al-Bukhari and at-Tirmidhi, before returning to his house he went to 'Uthman and said, 'This Community has reached the stage where it will be destroyed!' 'Why?' asked 'Uthman. He said, 'IT IS ABOUT THE BOOK OF ALLAH. I was on this expedition and some of the people of Iraq, Syria and the Hijaz came together.' Then he described what had happened and said, 'I fear that they will differ about their Book as the Jews and Christians differed.'

"This is the evidence of the falseness of those who say that the seven ahruf are the seven present readings, because there is no disagreement about them. Suwayd ibn Ghafala reported from 'Ali ibn Abi Talib that 'Uthman said, 'What do you think about the copies of the Qur'an? The people have disagreed about the reciters until a man says, "My reading is better than your reading. My reading is better is more excellent than your reading." This is equivalent to disbelief.' He replied, 'What is your view, Amr al-Mu'minin?' He said, 'I think that we people should agree on one reading. If you differ today, those after you will disagree more strongly.' 'Ali said, 'The correct opinion is yours, Amr al-Mu'minin.'. 'Uthman returned the pages to Hafsa abd he sent a copy of what they had copied out to every region and commanded of what sheet or copy which had any form of the Qur'an should be burned. 'Uthman did this after gathering the Muhajirin and Ansar and a group of Muslims and consulting them about it.

Response:

Notice the mention of RECITERS and READING. The squabble was over which READING was better or more excellent and not which "codex" was better and more excellent.

It was disbelief to say that a particular READING was more excellent than another READING, or to say that one particular READING was better than another READING because they were all of equal status as they were all directly revealed by God.

The readings were derived from reciters, who in turn had learnt them either directly from Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) or from his (peace be upon him) companions. These readings were all revealed, together with all of the differences between them.

The final noteworthy point to extract from the above citation is the acknowledgement that Uthman consulted with other Muslims and companions of Muhammad (peace be upon him), such as Ali, who supported him on this project. The citation says (before ordering the burning of fragments, copies, books, containing the Quran), "'Uthman did this after gathering the Muhajirin and Ansar and a group of Muslims and consulting them about it."

Shamoun quotes:

"Ibn Shihab said that he was told by 'Ubaydullah ibn 'Abdullah that 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud disliked Zayd ibn Thabit copying out the Qur'an and said, 'Company of Muslims, withdraw from making copies and entrusting it to one man. By Allah, I became Muslim while he was in the loins of an unbelieving father!' meaning Zayd ibn Thabit. That is why 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud said, 'People of Iraq, CONCEAL THE COPIES OF THE QUR'AN YOU HAVE AND CONCEAL THEM. Allah says, "Those who misappropriate will arrive on the Day of Rising with what they have misappropriated."' (Tafsir al-Qurtubi: Classical Commentary of the Holy Qur'an, translated by Aisha Bewley [Dar Al-Taqwa Ltd. 2003], Volume I, Introduction: 'Uthmani Codex, pp. 52-53; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Response:

The above has nothing to say concerning "competing codices." The above was Ibn Masud's initial reaction and it is understandable why he was upset. Some reasons why he was angry:

1.      He was upset for not being included in the committee responsible for the production of the Quran in multiple copies;

2.      He probably wasn't aware of the reasons why Uthman wanted to produce the masahif.

3.      Ibn Masud was also being asked to submit his personal copy, which, no doubt, he treasured. For these reasons, Ibn Masud initially urged his followers in anger to not submit their Quran copies to the authorities.

Later, however, Ibn Masud calmed down and apologised for his misbehaviour. Despite being upset for the above-referred reasons, Ibn Masud not once doubted the authenticity of the Quranic copies produced by the committee. He accepted them as authentic, as the direct word and revelation of God, albeit being upset for having to give up his copy and for not being a member of the committee. In fact, Ibn Masud happens to be one of the transmitters of the Quran. For example, consider these readings:

1. Qir'a from Kfah:The reading of cAasim Ibn Ab an-Najd (cAasim Ibn Bahdalah Ibn Ab an-Najd):

He died in the year 127 or 128 H. He reported from Ab cAbd ar-Rahmn as-Solamm and Zirr Ibn Hubaysh.

Ab cAbd ar-Rahmn reported from cUthmn and cAl Ibn Ab Tlib and 'Ubayy (Ibn Kacb) and Zayd (Ibn Thbit).

And Zirr reported from Ibn Mascud.

2. Qir'a from Kfah: The reading of al-'Amash from Kfah as well:

He reported from Yahy Ibn Waththb from 'Alqamah and al-'Aswad and 'Ubayd Ibn Nadlah al-Khuz'y and Ab cAbd ar-Rahmn as-Sulam and Zirr ibn Hubaysh and all reported from Ibn Mascud.

For the references, see: http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Text/Qiraat/hafs.html

Once Ibn Masud realized his error and apologised, he reprimanded some of his angry followers with these words:

Be quiet. This has been done under our eyes. And if I were to take over from him what 'Uthman has taken charge of, I would surely have followed his way. (Ibn Masud's statement cited in: Ibn al-Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, Beirut, 1987, vol. III, p. 9)

Al-Dhahabi said:

It has been reported that Ibn Masud agreed and followed Uthman . (Al-Dhahabi, Siyar 'A'lam al-Nabula', ed. Shu'ayb al-Arna'ut and Husayn al-Asad, vol. I p. 488.)

 

Ibn Masud accepting the integrity of the Quran as it exists today can be seen not only from the fact that he happens to be one of its transmitters but because his students also happen to be from its transmitters.

Finally, although Shamoun has already made our job easier by citing a number of hadiths which, explicitly state that all of the seven modes, together with all of their differences, are directly revealed by God and are His Word, let us cite Ibn Masud who accepts revelation of the Quran in the seven modes:

The Messenger of God(peace be upon him) said: "The Qur'an was sent down in seven ahruf.

And:

The Messenger of God(peace be upon him) said: "The first Book came down from one gate according to one harf, but the Qur'an came down from seven gates according to seven ahruf: prohibiting and commanding, lawful and unlawful, clear and ambiguous, and parables. So, allow what it makes lawful, proscribe what it makes unlawful, do what it commands you to do, forbid what it prohibits, be warned by its parables, act on its clear passages, trust in its ambiguous passages." And they said: "We believe in it; it is all from our Lord."

See reference here: http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Text/Qiraat/hafs.html

 

Shamoun quotes:

And:

III: The Collection of the Qur'an

4702. It is related that Zayd ibn Thabit said, "After the slaughter of people in the Battle of Yamama, Abu Bakr sent for me. 'Umar was with him. Abu Bakr said, ''Umar came to me and said, "Many Qur'an reciters were killed in the Battle of Yamama, and I fear that heavy casualties will be inflicted on the Qur'an reciters in other places and therefore much of the Qur'an will be lost. I think that you should collect the Qur'an together."' Abu Bakr said, 'I said to 'Umar, "How can I do something which the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, did not do?" 'Umar said, "By Allah, it is better." 'Umar kept at me about it until Allah opened my breast to that. I think what 'Umar thinks about that.'"...

4703. Anas ibn Malik reported that Hudhayfa ibn al-Yaman came to 'Uthman while the people of Syria were conquering Armenia and Azerbaijan with the people of Iraq. Hudhayfa was ALARMED by the difference in their recitation. Hudhayfa said to 'Uthman, "Amir al-Mu'minin! Deliver this Community before they disagree about the Book as the Jews and Christians differed!" So 'Uthman sent a message to Hafsa, saying, "Send us the pages in your possession and we will copy them and then return them to you." So Hafsa sent them to 'Uthman. He ordered Zayd ibn Thabit, 'Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr, Sa'id ibn al-'As, and 'Abdu'r-Rahman ibn al-Harith ibn Hisham to transcribe copies. 'Uthman said to the group of the three Qurashis, "When you and Zayd ibn Thabit disagree about any of the Qur'an, write it in the dialect of Quraysh. It was revealed in their language." They did that. When they had copied it out, 'Uthman returned the pages to Hafsa and he sent a copy of what they had copied out to every region and commanded that every sheet or copy which had any other form of the Qur'an should be burned. (Aisha Bewley, The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, Chapter 69. Book of the Virtues of the Qur'an; source; capital and italic emphasis ours)

Response:

A few points to note here:

1. Many Quran reciters were martyred in the Battle of Yamama. It was feared more would probably die in future battles, thus there was a danger that quite possibly a lot of the Quran could well get lost. 

2. During the time of Uthman, Muslim armies in Armenia and Azerbaijan began quarrelling over the recitations of the Quran. This prompted Uthman to consult with Muslims and to then produce the Quran in multiple copies.

The issue has to do with readings or recitations and not "codices."

We will now respond to the questionable inferences, which Shamoun has drawn from the above citation.

Sam Shamoun said:

There are several interesting points which can be gleaned from the above. First, the variations of the Quran were so great that Muslims started attacking each other and accusing one another of disbelief. This refutes the notion that the differences were minor.

Response:

The citation refers to the differences in RECITATION. The people who argued that one mode or recitation was better or excellent than another were wrong for the simple reason that they were ALL of equal authority/status since they were all revealed by God, TOGETHER WITH ALL OF THEIR DIFFERENCES. As noted above, these were new comers to Islam who were still at the stage of learning the Quran. They were the ones making ignorant comments.

Second, Shamoun indulges in more hyperbole. The relevant passage from his citation states (bold ours):

"They joined an expedition to Armenia and each group recited what had been transmitted to them. They disagreed and quarrelled and some of them called the others unbelievers, renouncing them completely, cursing one another. Hudhayfa was alarmed at what he saw."

It seems that Shamoun cannot understand the meaning of "some" in the above. He quotes a passage saying that SOME Muslims called others unbelievers etc., and then proceeds to make a broad generalization, giving the misleading impression as if all Muslims did this. But SOME does not mean 'all' and neither does it mean 'many'.

Third, nothing can be known about the level of divergences and differences between the readings simply on the basis of SOME Muslims labelling others unbelievers. Earlier we saw how Umar Ibn al-Khattab got angry when he heard Hisham bin Hakim reciting a passage from the Quran in a different manner, despite the fact that Umar Ibn al-Khattab recognized it as coming from Surat-al-Furqan. So we can conclude that the differences in this instance were not "so great." Yet Umar Ibn al-Khattab was still immensely upset. This indicates that from the earliest times the followers of Muhammad (peace be upon him) took the Quran very seriously, so that even minor differences in recitation produced strong reactions.

Moreover, while differences certainly existed between the modes and readings, they were not such that made them substantially or notably different from each other. By large they were the same, and where differences occurred, the passages normally shared enough similarities to be recognized. There were also some differences in wordings and phrasing occurring in other locations. Shamoun seeks to give the misleading impression as if differences existed in all of the verses.

More importantly, even if it were true that the differences between the modes were "so great", it remains irrelevant since all of these differences are God's Word. ALL of these differences were directly revealed by God and were His Word.

 

Sam Shamoun said:

Second, Hudhayfa comparing the Muslim situation with the disagreement between Jews and Christians regarding their Book is rather interesting since the main difference between them centers on the number of inspired Books. The Jews do not accept the NT Books which Christians believe are inspired and therefore part of the Biblical canon.

Response:

Hudhayfa was not comparing the existing Muslim situation with that of the Jews and Christians since the former, according to Hudhayfa, had not yet reached the stage/situation in which the later (Jews and Christians) found itself engulfed.  Notice that Hudhayfa said (our emphasis):

"Deliver this Community before they disagree about the Book as the Jews and Christians differed!"

In other words, Muslims were not yet disagreeing as were the Jews and the Christians but could do so in the future if no action was taken, thus Hudhayfa's appeal to Uthman.

Second, Shamoun conveniently presumes that Hudhayfa meant differences and disagreements between the Jews and the Christians. But the sentence in question ("Deliver this Community before they disagree about the Book as the Jews and Christians differed!") does not say "between" them. The natural meaning is differences and disagreements, which the Jews and the Christians had AMONG them. At the end of the day, the differences in recitations existed among the Muslims and the harsh reactions emanated from among some of these Muslims.

Third, Hudhayfa was not talking about 'codices'. He was talking about differences in the readings. This would suggest that the Jews and the Christians differed among themselves over the text/reading of their Scripture.

Fourth, Shamoun "forgot" to add the crucial detail that Christians, traditionally, have followed a larger scope of the Old Testament than the Jews. So the differences between the Jews and Christians pertain not only to the Jewish rejection of the New Testament, but also to the number of books, which are supposed to be in the "Old" Testament.

If Shamoun decides to respond to the above with the argument that Christians were traditionally wrong, that the Catholics are wrong about the scope of the Bible, and mounts arguments to defend the Protestant canon, then he would not be responding to the above. Whether the Protestants are right and all remaining Christians are wrong is irrelevant. The point is, even if wrong, Christians have generally tended to follow a larger collection of books than the Protestant canon. Worse than that, Christians have also differed on the scope of the New Testament. The further back in time we go the more the differences among Christians.

Briefly, Christians have among themselves differed on ascertaining the scope of the Bible (both the Old and New Testament) and have also differed over the text of the New Testament and have also differed concerning the status of some of the books of the New Testament.

Sam Shamoun said:

This suggests that the competing and conflicting Quranic copies which different Muslim groups were using were not uniform in their number of chapters and verses, e.g. some Qurans had more chapters and verses than some others.

Response:

This is a faulty inference. Shamoun again makes the mistake of suddenly replacing reading/recitation with "copies." The citation is concerned with the READINGS of the Quran and not preoccupied with the state of "copies." His citations make it clear that the companions who settled in different regions after the death of Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught the recitations they had learnt from Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to others. Thus, the armies in Armenia and Azerbaijan were quarrelling over the recitations, which were transmitted to them. Hudhayfa himself mentioned the differences in the readings and, thereafter, expressed his fear that Muslims too in the future - like the Jews and the Christians - may come to disagree about the Quran. Thus, there is no talk here about "copies."

Hence, the differences among the Muslims and the cause of their quarrel were not over Quranic "copies" with supposed divergent number of chapters and verses. The difference was over the readings. Therefore, the parallel difference suggested by Hudhayfa would be that of the Jews and Christians differing over the text/reading of their Scripture, whatever the precise number of books.

Second, Hudhayfa, who makes no mention of number of verses and chapters, uses the key word *'before'*. Thus, WHATEVER the nature of the differences, Hudhayfa's use of "before" would suggest that they were not YET as bad/severe as the Biblical ones. Even if we assume the unlikely, that Hudhayfa referred to the differences in the existing 'copies' of the Quran - which clearly he did not - and that the Jews and the Christians differed with each other over the scope of the Bible, it would still only mean that the differences between the Quranic copies were less severe and complex. The use of 'before' suggests

1.      The differences were less than the ones in the Bible.

2.      Muslims had not YET fallen into permanent disagreement and that the problem could still be resolved.

Third, Hudhayfa expressed his concerns for the future. The Jews and the Christians had already fallen into disagreements and uncertainty over their scripture, in contrast to the Muslims, a section of whom, however, had just started quarrelling (over the readings). Hudhayfa said (our emphasis): "Deliver this Community before they disagree about the Book as the Jews and Christians differed!" Thus, it was feared that should the present quarrels over the readings persist, Muslims too, in the future, would likely come to permanently disagree about their Scripture. Hudhayfa did not assert that Muslims had already reached this state of uncertainty. He was hopeful that Muslims could avoid falling into the same pandemonium, which befell the Jews and Christians, hence, his appeal to Uthman to take action.

Fourth, Hudhayfa's statement is just a precautionary warning. Not an exact prophesy. It's like telling a child "stop running across the road before you get run over."  That does not mean that the child will DEFINITELY get run over if he continues to run across the road, although it's a real possibility that merits a warning. Likewise, Hudhayfa meant that Muslims MIGHT come to differ about the Quran IN THE FUTURE as much as the Jews and Christians do now.

Fifth, even if Shamoun is right and the Quranic copies existing at the time differed with each other in the exact manner he described, that does not make them into "competing" Quranic copies. Simply, they differed with one another with respect to completeness. Some were complete copies, whereas some were partial. This does not mean that Muslims did not know or disagreed as to what belonged in the Quran and neither does it transform the incomplete copies into "competing" copies.

Considering the issue of codices generally, it seems reasonable to say that the copies of the Quran existing at the time did differ from one another, but chiefly in the ordering of the surahs and in terms of completion. A number of authentic traditions report the variance in the order of surahs. This does not, however, make them "competing" codices.

Quranic copies, partial and complete, and the personal copies of certain individuals, may have had the transcription of the Quran in only one revealed mode; others might have contained multiple modes or portions of modes; some may have contained the entirety of the Quran, while others may have contained partial passages; some may have contained abrogated recitals, some might have differed in the ordering of the surahs.none of this, however, is akin to them being "competing codices." We are dealing with the same Quran in all of the differences that we encounter in the various copies. In none of the primary historical sources are these envisaged as "competing" codices.

 Finally, it could also be that Hudhayfah did not know the specifics, but just had a general sense that there was ikhtilaf among the Jews and Christians. The need to avoid the errors of the past nations was a type of appeal that served well in sermonizing against any problem, real or perceived. Hence we may not know from Hudhayfa's comment alone what precisely the Muslims were differing about.

Sam Shamoun said:

No wonder Uthman decided to burn copies of the Quran which were written by Muhammad's companions! He had to get rid of the evidence which conclusively proved that the memory of the Muslims miserably failed to fully preserve the original wording of the Quran.

Response:

Here Shamoun assigns an unsubstantiated motive upon Uthman, namely, that he had the copies of the Quran burnt because he desired to "get rid of the evidence which conclusively proved that the memory of the Muslims miserably failed to fully preserve the original wording of the Quran."  But this is precisely what Shamoun needs to prove rather than to merely assume. Shamoun makes no effort to demonstrate this charge. Worse, in his haste he forgets that Uthman was one of the Prophet's (peace be upon him) closest companions, and those involved in the production of the Quranic copies on the orders of Uthman were also Muhammad's (peace be upon him) close companions. These people dedicated their lives to the religion of Islam. What possible motive could they have for not taking every precaution possible to preserve the Qur'an?

Moreover, this sinister notion is absent in his cited sources. There is no mention of it, direct or indirect. Instead, Shamoun's cited sources inform us that Uthman was so genuinely concerned that he took on board the advice of other companions of Muhammad (peace be upon him), worked in collaboration with them, had the suhuf of Hafsa brought to the committee (the suhuf consisted of documents transcribed in the presence of Muhammad (peace be upon him)) and enjoyed their backing, notwithstanding Ibn Masud's initial protest. Uthman moved forward through consensus. Uthman's motive, as is stated, was to unite the Muslims upon the authentic recitations of the Quran and to disseminate in multiple copies containing nothing other than the Quran taught and recited by Muhammad (peace be upon him). The burden of proof is upon Shamoun to present evidence for his conspiracy theory.

Shamoun's underlying logic/reasoning is faulty. He argues that because the copies of the Quran differed in terms of the order of Surahs and completeness (of course, he does not use the term "completeness," but asserts they "differed" for having different number of Surahs, etc), it follows that the memory of the Muslims "failed miserably." However, it does not necessarily follow. The order of Surahs can differ in copies at this stage not because there was a collective memory failure but because Muhammad (peace be upon him) received revelation till the time near his (peace be upon him) death and his (peace be upon him) companions used to write passages down in any available space in their notebooks/copies.

Secondly, not every companion wrote everything down in a mechanical fashion every time Muhammad (peace be upon him) received a revelation. Consider these possibilities: some would write down everything, some would write down some things, some would look at the copies (partial or complete) of their friends and copy all or some parts from them in the same or different order (depending upon the state of their copy and available space) etc. This would explain the divergence in the personal copies in the order of Surahs and differences in terms of completion. Not every memoriser of the Quran would have necessarily maintained a personal copy of the Quran and those that did would not have necessarily transcribed everything within them, including parts they had memorised, or even in the same order of recitation. Hence, such type of divergences between Quranic copies are to be expected and it does not follow or necessitate that we presume collective memory failure as the underlying cause. Likewise, some notebooks would have undoubtedly contained readings whose recitation was later abrogated. There would be some with multiple readings and some with only one reading. ALL of these readings represented the original wording of the Quran. Again, the cause underlying this legitimate variety is not collective memory loss.  

So why did Uthman, through consultation, order the burning of the above once the production of the multiple Quranic copies was complete? This action is understandable in light of the type of differences we briefly stated that existed in these copies. There was always a possibility that new-comers to Islam could have been misled through these personal Quranic copies, since at least some of them quite likely also contained readings whose recitation was abrogated by Muhammad (peace be upon him). In order to eliminate the possibility of any possible future misunderstanding, Uthman ordered their burning through consultations with others.

Moreover, let us not forget that the Uthmani copies were written by trusted companions of Muhammad (peace be upon him). More significantly, EVERY single companion of Muhammad (peace be upon him), INCLUDING IBN MASUD, accepted their integrity and reliability. So the Uthmani copies were UNANIMOUSLY accepted and received and Uthman generally enjoyed wide public support for his action. In other words, ALL companions of Muhammad (peace be upon him) accepted the integrity of the Uthmani copies and recognized them without a shadow of a doubt as what was revealed to Muhammad (peace be upon him) and that which he (peace be upon him) taught and recited. For the Uthmani copies we find example of not a single companion of Muhammad (peace be upon him) who doubted their integrity. Despite having several enemies, none of Uthman's foes raised an objection to the Uthamni copies. They received full approval. Should we then not accept something which was unanimously approved and accepted by eyewitnesses to the life of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his (peace be upon him) trusted companions? Why should we presume that they would 'change' Muhammad's (peace be upon him) revelation and present something 'different' to the masses?

A comparable scenario in Christianity would be that of a particular gospel which was categorically accepted and endorsed by each and every existing disciple of Jesus (peace be upon him) as genuine and authentic. Shamoun would be quite unlikely to doubt/dismiss such a document.

What makes Shamoun's unsubstantiated assertion quite unlikely and unrealistic is the fact that he is presuming, upon faulty reasoning, a significant collective memory loss in a very short period of time (at most, 25 years). This is not a reasonable hypothesis. Prominent companions of Muhammad (peace be upon him), the eyewitnesses, were still alive during the time and worked closely with Uthman - himself Muhammad's (peace be upon him) senior companion and complete Quran memoriser. This included the fourth Caliph Ali, Muhammad's (peace be upon him) cousin and, like Uthman, a senior companion, as well as others such as Ubai Ibn Ka'b, Zaid Ibn Thabit, and many others. Many of the companions, like Uthman, were complete memorisers of the Quran themselves.

In the lifetime of Muhammad (peace be upon him) the process of memorisation and regular recitation of the Quran was already well underway, as is made clear by the sources cited by Shamoun! Are we to believe that in a matter of 25 years, at most, the collective memories of everyone failed to such an extent that what was later produced in the multiple copies was something "different" from that which was left by Muhammad (peace be upon him)? Does this make sense? And all of these sources failed to mention something as remarkable and notable as a collective memory failure over a large scale, despite the fact that a (comparatively) minor incident, that of Ibn Masud's initial protest, succeeded in getting recorded? 

If we are to simply read the sources as they are, without 'reading' into them things they do not say, then we may conclude that the Quran was in the possession of the Muslim community, which had it completely memorised among them. There were many complete memorisers and many more partial memorisers of the Quran. The act of recitation was a daily occurrence and, at least once a year the entire community collectively recited the whole of the Quran. On top of this, a number of individuals maintained personal copies of the Quran, albeit ones chiefly disagreeing in terms of completeness and Surah order for the aforementioned reasons. Subsequently, the suhuf were colleted during the time of Abu Bakr - these consisted of items on which the Quran was transcribed in Muhammad's (peace be upon him) presence. Moving on to the time of Uthman, these suhuf played a major role in the production of the multiple Quranic copies (masahif), the latter being compared with the former. Furthermore, the masahif were also confirmed by both memory as well as the evidence of the parallel written transcription. Not only did leading companions of Muhammad (peace be upon him) produce the masahif, they were also accepted by all of his (peace be upon him) companions without exception.

The consensus of the companions upon the integrity of the masahif means that no "collective memory loss" had occurred; hence this type of an agreement was possible. Otherwise we would have expected much mayhem and major inner fighting among Muslims, with a lot of different viewpoints. But this did not occur:

Mus'ib ibn Saa'd (103 A.H.) said that all the Muslims liked the idea of Uthman burning the manuscripts and that none of the Muslims objected to it. (Abi Dawood Al Sajistaani, Al Masaahif, page 19)

Shamoun's inconsistency also needs to be briefly noted. On the one hand he will probably argue that a gap of roughly thirty-five to fifty years between Jesus (peace be upon him) and the composition of the canonical gospels was "not enough" for the stories about Jesus (peace be upon him) to get changed in any serious manner (despite the fact that New Testament scholarship dismisses this, with the exception of the most conservative of scholars and apologists). But when it comes to the Quran, Shamoun asserts that between the time of Muhammad's (peace be upon him) passing away and Uthman's decision to have the Quran in multiple books, a period of around 25 years, the memories of Muslims somehow "miserably failed," with no supportive arguments being offered to back this hypothesis! It gets worse. Shamoun would probably argue that the canonical gospels were written by the disciples of Jesus (peace be upon him) (Matthew and John) and the followers of disciples (Mark follower of Peter, Luke follower of Paul) and can be fully trusted in all of their claims. Since their authors are presumed to be disciples of Jesus (peace be upon him) and followers of disciples, Shamoun will presume that they had no reason to lie, and were writing when other eyewitnesses were still alive, ready to rectify them. Ignoring the fact for the time being that the masses of New Testament scholarship rubbishes away these types of flimsy arguments, Muslims are asked to believe that in a much more shorter time span, when so many of Muhammad's (peace be upon him) senior companions were alive, many being complete memorisers of the Quran and virtually all within the community having memorised varying portions of the Quran, and despite the fact that ALL companions of Muhammad (peace be upon him) accepted the Uthmani Quran copies, that 'somehow' something 'new' and 'different' was imposed upon the Muslims and that Muhammad's (peace be upon him) close companions, such as Uthman, were involved in a grand conspiracy! Worse still, based on certain differences between the readings of the Quran Shamoun makes sweeping generalizations. He not only concludes that we cannot have the direct and original wording of God - failing to comprehend the fact that all of the readings and their differences are believed to be revealed and are God's direct original Words - but also concludes with the implication that all and everything was different/changed and so cannot be trusted. Yet despite the many types of differences between the stories in the canonical gospels, including the significant differences between John and the synoptic gospels, Shamoun will still probably insist that the gospels are reliable to the point of being inerrant and he will presume that even if we do not have the literal wording of Jesus (peace be upon him), we may still presume that we have the next best thing: very accurate and reliable approximates! It would not bother Shamoun that the overwhelming majority of New Testament scholars view the gospels as errant precisely on the basis of their many differences since he can always find a fellow apologist or an unusually hyper-conservative scholar who has the opposite to say. 

In the case of the New Testament Shamoun is quick to dismiss the masses of scholarship and chooses to act like a belligerent and unyielding apologist who accepts only the most accommodating positions suiting his presuppositions, whilst dismissing anything that goes against his a priori beliefs. But when it comes to the Quran he transforms into a radical hyper-sceptic, one who has long made up his mind and is only willing to accept positions which caste aspersions upon the Quran.

And let us remind ourselves: Uthman was Muhammad's (peace be upon him) son in law (he married two of the Prophet's daughters) and a complete memoriser of the Quran. He is counted among one of Muhammad's (peace be upon him) most trusted and beloved companions. We are told to believe that he somehow managed to "change" the Quran for personal reasons or other motives, not withstanding the fact that the committee consisted of other trusted companions, or disciples, of Muhammad (peace be upon him) who sacrificed everything that they had for Islam and disregarding the fact that every companion accepted the Quranic copies which Uthman ordered.

Imagine if we had a Christian document which was known to have emanated from a disciple of Jesus (peace be upon him) and, moreover, was endorsed by all surviving disciples of Jesus (peace be upon him). Most Christians would entertain no doubts about such a book. Most would probably accept it as containing historically accurate details about the life, ministry, and the teachings of the historical Jesus (peace be upon him). But evidence such as this cannot be accepted from Muslims, in which case nothing really would satisfy Shamoun. He is here with a presupposed agenda and is not interested in a genuine dialogue.

Sam Shamoun said:

Now the questions that Shabir needs to answer are:

What do you have to say about the vast differences between these seven modes, differences that were so great that some Muslims were actually shocked and stunned by them? In fact, these differences almost led to a war among the Muslims according to one report!

 

Response:

 

Shamoun again exaggerates when he mentions the alleged "vast differences" between the seven modes and also when he asserts that the armies conquering Azerbaijan and Armenia were "almost led to war." To correct him:

 

1. the modes were largely the same, with some differences, however, including some in wording. The early Muslims took the Quran so seriously that even minor differences were noteworthy for them.

 

2. Muslims were not "almost led to war" on account of the differences in recitations. The quotations presented by Shamoun mention SOME Muslims arguing over the recitations and cursing one another during the conquests of Armenia and Azerbaijan.

 

Thirdly, about the seven modes and their differences we say: THEY ARE ALL REVEALED BY GOD. ALL OF THEIR DIFFERENCES ARE REVEALED AND ARE HIS DIRECT WORD.

 

Sam Shamoun said:

 

Which of these seven modes, if any, contain the exact words of the original Quran in the possession of Allah?

 

Response:

 

Muslims possess the 'original' Quran. In any case, ALL of these seven modes contain the exact words of the original Quran in the possession of God.

 

Sam Shamoun said:

 

Moreover, doesn't this imply that at least six of the seven modes did not contain the original words as found in the mother of the book but merely reported the gist of what is found in the heavenly exemplar?

 

Response:

 

It does not imply this. The ones who adhere to the above view, according to which only one mode was preserved, also believe that the remaining six were also directly revealed by God. All of the modes, their wordings, are included in the "mother of the book."

 

In his next question Shamoun contradicts himself:

 

Sam Shamoun said:

 

                  More importantly, who gave Uthman the right to destroy six of the seven modes when Muhammad claimed that these were given directly by Allah for the Muslim community, and were therefore equally authoritative?

 

Response:

 

So here Shamoun acknowledges finally that Muhammad (peace be upon him) said that all the modes were directly revealed/given by God and are equally authoritative! This acknowledgement by Shamoun refutes his previous assertion that the six modes merely "reported the gist." Rather, all modes, for being directly revealed by God, consist of His direct Words and their differences are also directly revealed.

 

In any case, as was noted previously, that Uthman supposedly destroyed six modes is one opinion amongst the scholars, but one which is mostly dismissed. Nonetheless, assuming the validity of this position for the sake of argument, its adherents argue that the permission to recite the Quran in the six modes, while they were all directly revealed by God, was a temporary concession to the masses and was meant for a short period of time. When in Uthman's time the dispute over the readings arose, Uthman (through consultation with others) decided to only preserve one mode.

 

If we accept this questionable view, it remains that the harf (singular of ahruf) which was preserved was directly revealed by God and the remaining six, despite not being preserved, were also God's direct Word and revelation. If we argue that Uthman was wrong to not preserve the six ahruf, it still remains that the one which was preserved was God's direct Word and revelation. Uthman being wrong to not preserve the six ahruf does nothing to negate the authority and the direct revealed status of the one which was preserved.

 

In other words, none of the possibilities lead to Shamoun's original conclusion.

 

Sam Shamoun said:

 

And who is to say that Uthman chose the right mode seeing that he received no instructions from Muhammad to do what he did?

 

Response:

 

This is an odd question since Shamoun already acknowledged above that Muhammad (peace be upon him) said that all modes are directly revealed by God and are equally authoritative. Therefore, they were ALL right modes. So whichever mode was chosen/selected, it was God's direct Word and revelation.

 

Again, that Uthman destroyed six modes is one opinion. Nonetheless, assuming it is accurate for the sake of argument, the adherents of this view argue that all of the modes were right and revealed by God, thus the preservation of anyone of them would serve the purpose. Bilal Phillips, an adherent of this view, explains the issue as follows:

 

The discontinuance of the other six forms does not in any way represent a loss of any part of the Qur'aan. The sahaabah were given the option by the Prophet (peace be upon him) to recite the Qur'aan in any of the seven dialects they wished because the meaning was the same and the variations were synonymous; and it is they who unanimously decided to discontinue the use of the other six. Such a decision could not have been unanimously decided to discontinue the use of the other six. Such a decision could not have been unanimously approved if it in any way entailed the loss of even the smallest part of the Qur'aan. Thus, the Qur'aan according to the Qurayshee dialect is, without doubt, a perfect and complete compilation of Allah's revealed word to the last of His prophets and messengers, Muhammad (peace be upon him). (Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Phillips, Usool At-Tafseer The Methodology of Qur'anic Interpretation, International Islamic Publishing House, p. 185)

 

In the section dealing with the modes, Shamoun has failed to show any evidence of 'ipsissima vox'. We now proceed to the next section where Shamoun will commit more blunders.

 

The Quran's Parallel Stories: Lack of Evidence for Ipsissima Vox by Shamoun

 

Sam Shamoun said:

 The Quran's Parallel Stories: More Evidence for Ipsissima Vox

The second problem with Shabir's assertion is that the Quran reports the same event in several places, each time with vast differences and major verbal variations. We have already provided plenty of examples documenting this point, the links to which will be given shortly.

Response:

The second problem with Shamoun's argument will be that he would once again exaggerating about the supposed differences between the same events reported in several places in the Quran. Worse, we will show that Shamoun suffers from a comprehension problem, which causes him to misread passages. Worse still, he entertains a highly questionable assumption throughout his polemic, namely, that God cannot verbally retell the same events and stories in other places with some deliberate verbal differences suiting the context but which do not contradict any details especially when we take into consideration that God could possibly not be quoting anyone verbatim since they might not have spoken Arabic and Allah is paraphrasing what they might have said in the Arabic language.

As for Shamoun's "plenty of examples" in other papers, we will deal with them and point out Shamoun's colossal errors in the near future Inshallah.

Shamoun writes and quotes:

We will therefore limit ourselves to one specific example, specifically the story of Lot.

So, when the envoys came to the folk of Lot, he said, 'Surely you are a people unknown to me!' They said, 'Nay, but we have brought thee that concerning which they were doubting. We have come to thee with the truth, and assuredly we speak truly. So set forth, thou with thy family, in a watch of the night, and follow after the backs of them, and let not any one of you turn round; and depart unto the place YOU ARE COMMANDED.' And We decreed for him that commandment, that the last remnant of those should be cut off in the morning. And the people of the city came rejoicing. He said, 'These are my guests; put me not to shame, and fear God, and do not degrade me.' They said, 'Have we not forbidden thee all beings?' He said, 'These are my daughters, if you would be doing.' By thy life, they wandered blindly in their dazzlement, and the Cry seized them at the sunrise, and We turned it uppermost nethermost and rained on it stones of baked clay. Surely in that are signs for such as mark; surely it is on a way yet remaining; surely in that is a sign for believers. S. 15.61-77 Arberry

In the above report Lot fears for the safety of his guests even though he has already been informed that they are messengers sent to destroy his people. Why, then, would Lot even worry about their safety seeing that he was made aware of their supernatural origin? Did he actually think that these beings weren't powerful enough or that God wouldn't intervene to save them? Hence, the Qur'anic error in placing these disclosures before the visit of the townsmen leads to a somewhat irrational situation.

The author(s) finally get(s) the story right:

And when Our messengers came to Lot, he was troubled on their account and distressed for them, and he said, 'This is a fierce day.' And his people came to him, running towards him; and erstwhile they had been doing evil deeds. He said, 'O my people, these are my daughters; they are cleaner for you. So fear God, and do not degrade me in my guests. What, is there not one man among you of a right mind?' They said, 'Thou knowest we have no right to thy daughters, and thou well knowest what we desire.' He said, 'O would that I had power against you, or might take refuge in a strong pillar!' They said, 'Lot, we are messengers of thy Lord. They shall not reach thee; so set forth, thou with thy family, in a watch of the night, and let not any one of you turn round, excepting thy wife; surely she shall be smitten by that which smites them. Their promised time is the morning; is the morning not nigh?' So when Our command came, We turned it uppermost nethermost, and rained on it stones of baked clay, one on another, marked with thy Lord, and never far from the evildoers. S. 11:77-83 Arberry

Notice that in this report the angelic guests disclose their identities after the altercation with the townsmen, making sense as to why Lot feared for the security of his guests. He didn't know that these were angels who could fend for themselves.

My Response:

Three possible answers can be given to resolve this apparent discrepancy:

1. If we read S. 15.61-77 carefully, the identity of the envoys, that they are angels, or have a supernatural origin, has not been disclosed. It is not said that they are angels or something other than human. Their words - ("We have come to thee with the truth, and assuredly we speak truly. So set forth, thou with thy family, in a watch of the night, and follow after the backs of them, and let not any one of you turn round; and depart unto the place YOU ARE COMMANDED. And We decreed for him that commandment, that the last remnant of those should be cut off in the morning") - do not reveal their identity of being angels or supernatural beings. At most, we may suppose that Lut, presumably, may have recognized the envoys as sent from God considering the nature of their command, though as human messengers nonetheless - since they appeared as humans. From what the angels had said so far, their identity was not fully revealed. Lut may not have known what to make of these strange young men boasting that they are here to destroy the town. Later, however, once the townsmen approached his home in order to snatch these young men, Lut feared for their safety, still not knowing these guests of his were not human. Lut, therefore, tried to convince his people to leave them alone. Once that failed, these guests informed Lut that they were messengers of God and reiterated their earlier command for him to leave the city, and, further, assured Lut that the townsmen would not be able to reach him. Thus, the discussion in Surah 15 till verse number 66 took place before the arrival of the townsmen, when the identity of the young men was not fully revealed. In chapter 11 verse 77, Lut does not know the identity of the men, and only in verse 81 do the angels clearly say (Yusuf Ali): "O Lut! We are Messengers from thy Lord! By no means shall they reach thee!"  

According to Maududi:

Here it will be worthwhile to clear the significance of the words which were uttered by Prophet Lot as they occur in Surah Hud (v. 78). When he entreated those wicked people not to molest his guests, saying, "Here are my daughters....", he was unaware that his guests were angels in the disguise of handsome boys. The angels revealed their identity only when the wicked crowd gathered at the residence of his guests and began to threaten them with their wicked designs, and Prophet Lot began to lament, "I wish I had the power to set you right or I could find some strong support for refuge." It was then that the angels revealed themselves, saying, "We are envoys sent by your Lord.... " This sequence of events shows that Prophet Lot had made that "offer" only when he had felt to be utterly helpless.

It is very important to keep this in view because the sequences of events in this Surah is different from that in Surah Hud. One is liable to have a misunderstanding as to why Prophet Lot wailed and lamented when he knew all the while that his guests were angels and could defend themselves against those wicked people.

As regards the apparent difference between the two sequences, it may be pointed out that here the important thing to be stated is that the angels come with the truth. Therefore that part of the story (vv. 61-66) has been related first in order to make the point more prominent. (Source)

A potential counter argument could be verse 66 which states: "And We made known this decree to him, that the last remnants of those (sinners) should be cut off by the morning" (Yusuf Ali). However, God is speaking here from His and the reader's perspective. While the decree of destruction of the town was made known to him, the verse does not claim that Lut also knew that the strangers were not humans. At least not at this stage. The verse is speaking from the perspective of the reader who knows that these men are angels, yet gives no indication that Lut was aware of the matter at that particular point in time.

2. Let us suppose that Lut knew his guests were angels even before his townsmen attempted to snatch them. So then why would Lut fear for the safety of his guests "even though he has already been informed that they are messengers sent to destroy his people?" And why would Lut "worry about their safety seeing that he was made aware of their supernatural origin?"  One may pose such questions even if the first explanation is accepted, according to which Lut did not know that the messengers were not human beings. In response to this objection, let us consider another story:

26In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."

 29Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

 34"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"

Source: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=luke

Before posing her question Mary, presumably, knew that the being who had given her the odd greeting was not human. Why then would she even bother enquiring how she could have a child given she was a virgin? Did she seriously believe that God was not powerful enough to give her a child despite being a virgin?

Often in the Quran the prophets and others are shown to be reasonable persons who, like us, may not be able to ignore the natural settings in which they find themselves. Even in the face of divine help there is some attention to the natural circumstances. As already noted above, Mary is told by angels that she will have a child, yet she asks how this could be. More to our surprise, Zakaria prays for a child; but when he is assured by the angels that his prayer has been answered he asks for a sign to verify this.

 11Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. 14He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.[b] 16Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous - to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

 18Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years."

Source: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=luke

Why would Zakaria not be sure of it? Abraham, on the other hand, asks God to show him how he brings the dead back to life. Moreover, in the prelude to the story of Lut, Abraham and Sarah are told by angels that they will have a child in their old age, and it takes them a while to digest the message. According to the Bible:

15 God also said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her."

 17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, "Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?" 18 And Abraham said to God, "If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!"

Source: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=1&chapter=17&version=31

From this, it seems reasonable that even if Lut knew well enough that these were angels from heaven he may still be troubled by how things looked at the moment. The angels had the appearance of ordinary men. The crowd was at his door trying to attack them. Even if he believed that the angels had the power to deal with the attackers, he could not know in advance how much of evil will be permitted to occur before the divinely acquired powers of the angels would become manifest. What had occurred thus far was already an embarrassment to him. These were his people. And the angels were his guests. Any further advance of the crowd was a reason for his further anxiety. Divine intervention will come in God's good time, but in the meantime anything that happens does not become reversed, but remains as a matter of permanent record.

Be that as it may, it needs to be pointed out that in chapter 15 there is nothing to suggest that these were angels from heaven or non-humans prior to Lut's expression of anxiety. From what the angels had said so far, their identity was not fully revealed.

The full identity of the angels, where they identify themselves as messengers of God, comes in Surah 11, of course, and this is parallel with Surah 29. Hence it could be the case that the initial message of the angels was brief and hence not fully comprehended by Lut (Surah 15), and that they explained themselves more fully in response to Lut's expressed anxiety (surahs 11 and 29).

3. The third argument has been presented by Ibn Kathir, who wrote:

([Lut] said: "Verily, these are my guests, so do not shame me. And have Taqwa of Allah, and do not disgrace me.'') This is what Lut said to them before he knew that his guests were messengers from Allah, as mentioned in Surat Hud, but here (in this Surah), we have already been told that they are messengers from Allah, and this is followed by an account of Lut's people coming and his exchange with them. However, here the conjunction (wa, meaning "and'') does not imply the sequence of events, especially since there is something to indicate that this is not the case. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Source)

If he is correct, then there is no problem. As Ibn Kathir argues, the statements of Lut which indicate his concern for his guests would have been made prior to his knowledge of their identity. The distinction between 'wa', thumma (moreover) and fa (then) needs to be taken into account. 'wa' does not necessarily imply sequence unless the context indicates so. Hence Ibn Kathir does seem to make a valid point here.

Either of these explanations will suffice to resolve the apparent difficulty.

Sam Shamoun said:

Moreover, in the first pericope the angels tell Lot their plans before the men come seeking the guests, whereas in the above version the angels only inform Lot after the men have arrived to rape them.

Response:

Simply, Lut was informed on both occasions - before and after the arrival of the townsmen. Why could they not have informed Lut about their plans in their first meeting and later reiterated and repeated their plans in a different setting, once the townsmen were threatening Lut, being clearer about their identities, together with passing additional details? Why is this not possible? Chapters 15 and 11 are not presenting all the details.

In chapter 15 the angels, who have not yet disclosed their identity, inform Lut what they plan to do. Later in the setting in chapter 11, when the townsmen are at Lut's doorstep demanding the handover of his guests, the angels remind Lut of their plans and tell him not to worry since they are God's messengers and would protect him and his follows.

In case the second explanation is accepted, it could be that the angels informed Lut about their plans and identities when they first met and, later, repeated their message and plan to Lut when the later suffered from anxiety facing the threatening townsmen, assuring him he would be safe. 

 

A Gross Error by Shamoun while reading Lut's story

 

Sam Shamoun said:

 A Gross Contradiction in Lot's Story

There are further problems with the Quran's narration of Lot and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Response:

There are no 'further' problems with the Quran's narration of Lut and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

 

Shamoun writes and quotes:

According to certain Surahs all of Lot's family was saved with the exception of an unnamed elderly woman:

The people of Lut rejected (his) warning. We sent against them a violent Tornado with showers of stones, (which destroyed them), except Lut's household: them We delivered by early Dawn, - S. 54:33-34

So We delivered him and his family, - ALL Except an old woman who lingered behind. S. 26:170-171

Behold, We delivered him and his family, ALL Except an old woman who was among those who lagged behind: S. 37:134-135

Response:

There are no Surahs within the Quran which state that 'all' members of Lut's family were saved without exception.

In both S. 26:171 and S. 37:135, the statement starts with illa, "except", which shows it is a continuation of what precedes in the passage. Moreover, in the ayah preceding at each place the material term is ahl. The primary meaning of ahl is "family", even "wife" although in a secondary or extended sense it can mean "people" or "inhabitants." The secondary meaning is inadmissible here since the intention of the passage is obviously not to say that all of Lut's people were saved except an old woman. Nor can it mean that among all of Lut's people who were punished/destroyed, there was only one old woman. Thus, the meaning at both places is that all of Lut's ahl, except "an old woman," were saved. The "old woman" is, therefore, a member of Lut's family.

The natural and obvious meaning of the two ayahs in question is that all members of Lut's family (ahl) were saved EXCEPT (illa) for an old woman. The term "old woman" is being used for disapproval of her unbelief and her relationship with Lut is expressed indirectly.

In S. 54:33-34, on the other hand, the Arabic word used is aal rather than ahl.  The word aal could mean 'family', 'followers', 'people of', or 'folks'.

 


The Arabic dictionary Al Ghani states that aal could mean followers:

 


 
" " : .


 
"aal of the man": his family, members of his tribe, followers. (Source)




Imam Qurtubi in his commentary states:


 
                                                                                     


This refers to who followed him in his religion and there was no one except his two daughters. (Abu 'Abdullah Al-Qurtubi, Tasfir al Jami' li-ahkam al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 54:34, Source)
 

And if we were to look at the use of the word in Surah 40, Verse 46:

 

The fire - they shall be exposed to it morning and evening; and 'on the day the Hour shall arise,' enter, O people (Aal) of Pharaoh! into the keenest torment.

 

We see that the context supports that the word is referring to the followers of Pharaoh.

 

In light of the above, we can safely say that from a linguistic and exegetical sense the word aal in S. 54:33-34 means "followers of" Lut.

 

[A couple of examples:-Yusuf Ali: "people of Lut"; Shakir: "people of Lut"; Pickthal: "folk of Lut"; Sher Ali: "Lot's people"; Khalifa: "people of Lot"; Muhsin Khan: "people of Lout"; Maududi: "Lot's people"; Arberry: "people of Lot"; Daryabadi: "people of Lut"]

 

Shamoun writes and quotes: 

If this weren't confusing enough the Quran goes on to say that Lot's wife lagged behind and perished:

He said: "But there is Lut there." They said: "Well do we know who is there: we will certainly save him and his family, - except his wife: she is of those who lag behind!" And when Our Apostles came to Lut, he was grieved on their account, and felt himself powerless (to protect) them: but they said: "Fear thou not, nor grieve: we are (here) to save thee and thy family, except thy wife: she is of those who lag behind. S. 29:32-33

But we saved him and his family, except his wife: she was of those who legged[sic] behind. S. 7:83

(The Apostles) said: "O Lut! We are Apostles from thy Lord! By no means shall they reach thee! now travel with thy family while yet a part of the night remains, and let not any of you look back: but thy wife (will remain behind): To her will happen what happens to the people. Morning is their time appointed: Is not the morning nigh?" S. 11:81

Excepting the adherents of Lut: them we are certainly (charged) to save (from harm), - All - Except his wife, who, We have ascertained, will be among those who will lag behind. S. 15:59-60

Response:

The "old woman" mentioned in S. 26:170-171 and S. 37:134-135 IS Lut's wife. They are one and the same; so there is nothing 'confusing' here.

We know that the "old woman" is a member of Lut's family due to the use of 'ahl (family/household) which is then followed by the clause "EXCEPT" ('illa) in S. 26:170-171 and S. 37:134-135. This is commonsense for anyone who speaks Arabic or even English for that matter. It is not just a matter of knowing Arabic; the exception works the same way in English. We wonder if there is a language in which this does not work, since this is a basic element in logic which is common to all human thinking.

In the above Surahs, it has been explicitly stated that the family member who is an exception is Lut's wife. 

Sam Shamoun said:

With the foregoing in mind we want to know what exactly happened.

Did Allah save Lot's entire household?

 

 Response:

 

No.

 

 Sam Shamoun said:

 

Who was this old woman that perished?

 

 Response:

 

 She was Lut's wife.

 

 Sam Shamoun said:

 

Was she from his household?

 

 Response:

 

 Yes. She was his wife.

 

 Sam Shamoun said:

 

If so who was she? Lot's sister, aunt, mother, grandmother etc.?

 

 Response:

 

 Lut's wife.

 

 Sam Shamoun said:

 

Was this old woman Lot's wife?

 

 Response:

 

 Yes.

 

 Sam Shamoun said:

 

Or did two women perish, e.g. this old woman and Lot's wife?

 

 Response:

 

 No. One woman perished: Lut's wife, and she happened to be an old woman.

 

 Sam Shamoun said:

 

Moreover, if Lot's wife perished then how can the Quran claim that Allah saved his entire household?

 

Response:

 

The Quran does not say that God saved Lut's 'entire' household with no exceptions. Instead, the Quran makes an exception.  Notice carefully that the Quran says "EXCEPT" as was pointed out above. So one member of his household, as the Quran clearly states, was not saved.

 

 Sam Shamoun said: 

Lest Shabir object to the last point and claim that the Quran doesn't explicitly say that all of Lot's family was saved we will simply present the following Quranic texts in various translations and commentaries to substantiate our position:

 Response:

Shamoun then cites around 20 translations of Q. 26:170, Q 37:134, emphasising the wording 'all', 'every one' and 'entire'.

For the first passage, most translations use phrases such as 'We saved him and his family, ALL .' but the remainder is conveniently left out by Shamoun, which explicitly says 'EXCEPT/SAVE'. In other words, ALL of Lut's household were saved EXCEPT for an old woman, who is identified as his wife elsewhere by the Quran.

Likewise, for the second passage, Shamoun again cites the verse partially, leaving out the bit which says 'EXCEPT'. This is nothing more than a classic example of a reading- comprehension problem, or worse, deception.

Below we present the various translations cited by Shamoun together with the bit he omitted. It will be seen that the Quran clearly states that all, EXCEPT one, member of Lut's household/family, was saved (emphasis ours):

Q. 26:170

So We delivered him and his people (ahl) all together, save an old woman among those that tarried; Arberry

So We saved him and his household, every one, Save an old woman among those who stayed behind.Pickthall

So We delivered him and his family, - all Except an old woman who lingered behind. Y. Ali

So We saved him and his family, all, Except an old woman (his wife) among those who remained behind. Hilali-Khan

So We delivered him and his household all. Save an old woman among the lingerers Abdul-Majid Daryabadi (*)

So We delivered him and his followers all, except his wife -- she was of those who remained behind. Maulana Muhammad Ali (*)

So We delivered him and his followers all Except an old woman, among those who remained behind.Shakir

So We saved him and his family, all, Except an old woman among those who remained behind. Abdul Qasim (*)

So We saved/rescued him and his family/people all/all together. Except old/weak (F) (was) in the remaining behind. Muhamed Ahmed with his daughter Samira (*)

So WE saved him and his family, all of them, Save an old woman, among those who stayed behind. Sher Ali

So We saved him and his followers, all of them, Except an old woman (- wife of Lot), who was among those who stayed behind, Abdul Mannan Omer (*)

So We delivered him and his family, all of them except an old woman who stayed behind. Muhammad Zafrulla Khan (*)

So We saved him and his whole family except for an old woman among those who stayed behind. T.B. Irving (*)

So We saved him and his whole family Except one old woman who remained behind. Ahmed Ali (*)

So We saved him and all his people, except an old woman who stayed behind, Hasan Qaribullah (*)

We saved him and all of his family except an old woman who remained behind Muhammad Sarwar (*)

We saved him and all his family. But not the old woman; she was doomed. Khalifa

We therefore rescued him and his entire family. Except one old woman, who stayed behind. Mohammed Aqib Farid Qadri (*)

So We saved him and his entire family. Except for an old woman who remained. The Message (*)

So We saved him and his entire family. Except for an old woman who remained. Quran: a Reformist Translation (*)

So We delivered him and all his family, except an old woman - his wife - among those who stayed behind, whom We destroyed. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source; bold, underline and italic emphasis ours)

So We saved him and his household, every one, Save an old woman) his hypocrite wife (among those who stayed behind) to be destroyed. (Tanwr al-Miqbs min Tafsr Ibn 'Abbs; source; bold, underline and italic emphasis ours)

Q. 37:134

when We delivered him and his people (ahl) all together, save an old woman among those that tarried Arberry

When We saved him and his household, every one, Save an old woman among those who stayed behind; Pickthall

Behold, We delivered him and his adherents, all Except an old woman who was among those who lagged behind: Y. Ali

When We saved him and his family, all, Except an old woman (his wife) who was among those who remained behind Hilali-Khan

When We delivered him and his followers, all - Except an old woman (who was) amongst those who tarried. Shakir

Recall what time We delivered him and his household, all. Save an old woman among the lingerers. Abdul-Majid Daryabadi

When We saved/rescued him and his family/people all/all together. Except old/weak (his wife was) in the remaining behind. Muhamed Ahmed with his daughter Samira

(Recall the time) when We delivered him and his followers all together, Except an old woman (who) was among those who stayed behind (and did not go with those delivered). Abdul Mannan Omer (*)

When WE delivered him and all his family, Except an old women who was among those who stayed behind. Sher Ali

We saved him and all his family. Only the old woman was doomed. Khalifa

We saved him and all his kinsmen, except an old woman who lingered, Hasan Qaribullah

When We saved him and all his family. Except an old woman who remained. The Message (*)

When We saved him and all his family. Except an old woman who remained. Quran: A Reformist Translation

We rescued him and his whole family, except for an old woman who remained behind Muhammad Sarwar

We delivered him and the whole of his family, except an old woman who stayed behind; Muhammad Zafrulla Khan

when We saved him and his entire family except for an old woman who lagged behind. T.B. Irving

Wherefore We saved him and his entire family Except an old woman who was one of those who stayed behind. Ahmed Ali

When We rescued him and his entire household. Except an old woman, who became of those who stayed behind. Mohammed Aqib Farid Qadri (*)

mention, when We delivered him together with all his family, except an old woman [who was] among those who stayed behind, in other words, those who stayed behind in the chastisement. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source; bold, underline and italic emphasis ours)

(When We saved him and his household) his two daughters: Za'ura and Raytha, (every one, Save an old woman among those who stayed behind) except his hypocrite wife who stayed behind with those who were destroyed; (Then We destroyed the others) We destroyed those who remained behind after the departure of Lot and his daughters. (Tanwr al-Miqbs min Tafsr Ibn 'Abbs; source; bold, underline, and italic emphasis ours)

 

Sam Shamoun said:

Seeing that the verses that follows right after both of these citations mention the old woman that perished this suggests that she wasn't Lot's wife, but someone else since both of these references emphatically assert that Allah saved ALL, not some, of Lot's household/people/family. Yet this still conflicts with the other verses that expressly say that Lot's wife perished, therefore refuting the claim that Allah saved Lot's entire household.(1)

Response:

The passages do not just stop at the word 'all'. Instead, the passages, which follow right after the above citations, use the word "EXCEPT" and only then mention the "old woman." In other words, all members of Lut's household were saved, EXCEPT for an "old woman." It is clear that the exception of the household members is being stated. The old woman cannot be someone other than Lut's family since the passages in question are concerned with Lut's ahl, which Shamoun agrees means family/household. In the other passages, this member of Lut's family/household is identified as his wife. 

Surah 26:170-171:

So We delivered him and his family, - all. Except an old woman who lingered behind.

Compare this with Surah 7:83:

 But we saved him and his family, except his wife: she was of those who lagged behind.

As Ibn Kathir explains:

(So, We saved him and his family, all. Except an old woman among those who remained behind.) This was his wife, who was a bad old woman. She stayed behind and was destroyed with whoever else was left. This is similar to what Allah says about them in Surat Al-A`raf and Surah Hud, and in Surat Al-Hijr, where Allah commanded him to take his family at night, except for his wife, and not to turn around when they heard the Sayhah as it came upon his people. So they patiently obeyed the command of Allah and persevered, and Allah sent upon the people a punishment which struck them all, and rained upon them stones of baked clay, piled up. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Source)

And:

Allah tells us that He sent His servant and Messenger Lut, peace be upon him, to his people, and they denied him, so Allah saved him from among them, him and his family with the exception of his wife, who was destroyed along with her people. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Source)

 

Sam Shamoun said:

The problems with Lot's story do not end just yet.

Response:

Correction, Shamoun has not identified any 'problems' in the Quranic story of Lut thus far. At most, he has only successfully identified one problem: that he has a severe case of a reading-comprehension problem.

Shamoun writes and quotes:

According to the next citation Lot's wife was destined to perish:

But We saved him and his family, except his wife; her We destined to be of those who lagged behind. S. 27:57

Now the theology changes since it is no longer Allah simply knowing that she would be of those who would lag behind; rather, the author(s) is(are) now convinced that she lagged behind because this was her destiny, this was the fate that Allah assigned for her.

Response:

Shamoun does not show how the theology 'changes'. Worse, Shamoun suddenly introduces another questionable hypothesis in his assertion (reference to the "author(s)").

There is no 'lack' of knowledge in the above passage about God knowing that Lut's wife would lag behind nor is something 'new' introduced here. God knows what will happen in the future and what all of us will do even before we have thought about doing those things. With this perfect knowledge, knowing everything that will ever occur, God can speak in terms of who is 'destined' to go to hell, heaven, or to lag behind. Lut's wife made her free choice to remain a disbeliever. Yet God already knew she would not repent and not follow Lut. Hence, God knew that Lut's wife would remain a disbeliever and in light of this perfect knowledge He destined her to lag behind.

Recommended Reading

http://www.call-to-monotheism.com/predestination_in_islam

 

Conclusion

 

Sam Shamoun said:

Conclusion

The major variations in the stories of the Quran betray the fact that if Muhammad communicated the Quran in its entirety, as Muslims believe, then his knowledge of Biblical events and stories improved over time as he started to interact more with Jews and Christians.

Response:

Shamoun has not shown the presence of any alleged "major variations" in the Quranic story of Lut. In the above discussion we saw that Shamoun misread passages. Shamoun next introduces another questionable assertion, making no effort whatsoever to give reasons to convince his readers about the alleged "improvement" of Muhammad's (peace be upon him) knowledge of any Biblical events and stories as a result of his (peace be upon him) "interaction" with Jews and Christians. It is as if we are just to take Shamoun's claim for granted.

However, Shamoun did demonstrate his inability to read attentively.

Shamoun writes and quotes:

As Christian apologist John Gilchrist put it:

On the other hand there are numerous stories in the Qur'an relating to the earlier prophets and New Testament figureheads which are borrowed from Jewish Talmudic sources and Christian apocryphal writings respectively. Examples of these are found in the sections on Qur'anic origins and sources to follow. It seems that Muhammad's knowledge of the Bible was limited to information from secondary sources, though this knowledge did improve as time went on.

The needs of his profession do not appear to have made him actually a student - yet there is no question that as the Koran grew in bulk, its knowledge of biblical stories became somewhat more accurate: and though this greater degree of accuracy may have been at times due to the Prophet's memory, it is more likely that he took such opportunities as offered of acquiring more information. (Margoliouth, Mohammed and the Rise of Islam, p. 106).

Response:

The assertion that allegedly "numerous" stories in the Quran are "borrowed" from Jewish Talmudic sources and Christian apocryphal writings appears to be based on the dubious underlying presumption that similarity implies "borrowing." Gilchrist's (and Shamoun's) inconsistency can be seen from the fact that they are unwilling to apply the same criterion upon the Bible. For example, consider the similarities/parallels between certain Biblical stories and those found in the Near Eastern literature (some notable examples: Genesis creation story and Enuma Elish; The flood story (Genesis 6-8) and Atrahasis and Gilgamesh; Israel's ancestors and the Nuzi texts; Biblical laws (Exodus 21-23) and the Code of Hammurabi (laws 195-214); Biblical texts (the Ten Commandments and the structure of Deuteronomy) and the Hittite Suzerainty treaties; book of Proverbs (22:17-24:22) and the Instruction of Amenemope). The latter are undoubtedly far earlier than the Biblical accounts and both direct and indirect connections have been posited between the two. The parallels in the last example are particularly striking, with most scholars agreeing that Proverbs 22:17-24:22 and Amenemope are clearly connected in some way (reminder: Amenemope is older than Proverbs). We can, however, be reasonably certain that Christian apologists will not conclude based on the - at times striking - similarities that the Biblical authors "borrowed" their stories from their much older Near Eastern counterparts. But in the case of the Quran not even a slight consideration and reasonableness is granted.

Be that as it may, suffice it to say that non-Muslim scholarship is itself in disagreement over the issue of the Quran and its "sources." It is generally hypothesised (at least by those who a priori dismiss the possibility of revelation) that Muhammad (peace be upon him) more probably acquired his information through oral traditions and stories in circulation at the time rather than read them off from actual documents. The reason why a number of modern non-Muslim scholars are less eager to posit direct literary links between the Quran and the various Jewish Talmudic and Christian apocryphal writings is due to our better/fuller understanding of the latter and its formation, together with its many differences from the Quran. A number of Jewish sources, which were once marshalled as 'sources' of the Quran, show signs of redaction and reworking in later centuries after Islam. 

Scholarly responses to the different types of "borrowing" polemics applied by Gilchrist are to be found here: http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Sources/

If we a priori dismiss the possibility of miracles and revelation, and declare that there can be no such thing as a divine revelation from God, then we would have little choice but to suppose that Muhammad (peace be upon him) did receive his (peace be upon him) information from human sources, either written or, more probably, oral. But if God's intervention in the world is not denied, and if revelation is not a priori rejected, then mere similarity between two stories cannot by itself lead to the conclusion that one borrowed from the other. Similarity between a Quranic account and what we find in an earlier source cannot invalidate the former. The two could also share a common source: God. It should also be noted that the Quran expects its readers to be familiar with some of its stories. The Quran does not claim to only present completely unknown stories, but acts as a reminder (one of the names of the Quran is dhikr, reminder), where stories of the past - some expected to be familiar to the readers - are also related and moral lessons are derived from them.

Finally, Margoliouth simply asserts, rather than demonstrates, that the Quran's knowledge of Biblical stories allegedly "became somewhat more accurate." Nonetheless, he reduces the weight of his claim with the use of "somewhat." So is he claiming that there is really not much of a difference between the allegedly erroneous and the "somewhat more accurate" accounts?

Shamoun quotes:

All these features strongly support the statement made by Margoliouth that, as the Qur'an developed, so its record of the events relating to the Biblical prophets became significantly more accurate.

Response:

Notice that Margoliouth was cited as saying "somewhat more accurate." Gilchrist magically transforms Margoliouth's "somewhat" into "significantly more accurate." Which is it?

It would have been fine had Gilchrist declared that he disagreed with Margoliouth's opinion that Muhammad's (peace be upon him) knowledge of Biblical stories allegedly became only "somewhat" more accurate and that he (Gilchrist) believes that it, in fact, became "significantly" more accurate. Instead of doing this, Gilchrist changes Margoliouth's "somewhat" into "significant."

And what is the evidence for this hypothesis anyway? The next quotation by Shamoun attempts to finally share an example with us:

Shamoun writes and quotes:

This conclusion can hardly be resisted in the circumstances:

Again, in the first four of the passages just quoted nothing suggests any awareness of the connexion between Abraham and Lot, and indeed some matters suggest ignorance of it; on the other hand, in the last three passages there is explicit mention of the connexion with Abraham. If there were only one or two instances of this sort of thing they could easily be explained away; but there are a great many; and the Western critic therefore finds it difficult to resist the conclusion that Muhammad's knowledge of these stories was growing and that therefore he was getting information from a person or persons familiar with them. (Watt, Muhammad at Mecca, p. 159). (Gilchrist, Muhammad and the Religion of Islam, C. SIGNIFICANT QUR'ANIC DOCTRINES AND TEACHINGS, 1. The Qur'anic Doctrine of Abrogation, pp. 163, 166; bold and italic emphasis ours)

Response:

On the contrary, this conclusion can be resisted without exerting the least amount of effort since it is built upon fallacious reasoning. The connexion between Lut and Abraham, which Watt finds in 15:60, 11:83, and 29:32, is an indication of their contemporaneity, which comes out as an incidental detail of the manner in which the wrath of God befell the people of Lut. These passages tell us that the angels sent by God, who were on their way to Lut's people, also met Abraham and gave him the good tiding of another son. The angels also informed Abraham that they were going to punish Lut's people. Upon hearing their plan, Abraham made some pleadings for Lut. But this incidental detail was not called for in the other passages where the theme and context are different. The emphasis of passages such as 37:135, 26:171, 27:58, and 7:81, is on God's favors upon the mentioned prophets and how they were helped to emerge victorious through their trials and enmity of their people. In 15:60, 11:83, and 29:32, however, the emphasis is upon the conduct of the prophets' opponents and the consequences of their rejection of the message delivered to them.

Thus, 37:135, 26:171, 27:58, and 7:81, are addressed mainly to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his followers for the purpose of assuring and consoling them, whereas the other three passages (15:60, 11:83, 29:32) are addressed mainly to the unbelievers for the purpose of warning them about the consequences of their disbelief and opposition.

As a result, in the four passages details are not given of the retribution that befell the unbelievers, nor is mention made of angels who implemented God's punishment upon the people of Lut. But in the other three passages, such details are provided; including the coming of the angels through whose conversation with Abraham the "connexion" between him and Lut appears. Therefore, there is neither "deficiency" in four passages nor a "growth" of accuracy in the three passages.

The mere non-mention of a detail, which is not called for by the theme and context at one place, and the mention of that detail at another place where the theme and context demand it, is no ground for proposing "inaccuracy" in the first instance, and "growth" in accuracy in the second. Furthermore, even a gradual unfolding of facts and details does not in itself suggest that a "human informant" or "informants" were supplying information to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Sam Shamoun said:

On the other hand, if the Muslim scripture is not the work of a single author, but a composite of different and contradictory sources, then this means that the final redactor of the Quran did a rather poor job of editing the book and harmonizing the gross errors and discrepancies that exist among the various versions of the same story.

Response:

Shamoun has failed to demonstrate the presence of "gross errors and discrepancies" within the Quranic accounts which may call for such type of a hypothesis. The examples, which he did submit, were shown to be nothing more than careless misreading on his part and, frankly, displayed his utter lack of basic comprehension. Therefore, so far Shamoun has failed to demonstrate that the Quran is a composite of different and contradictory sources.

Moreover, when Shamoun asserts that the "final redactor" of the Quran did an allegedly "rather poor job of editing" and in "harmonizing" the alleged "gross errors and discrepancies" in the various versions of the same story, then that is actually an acknowledgement that changes were not made to the text in a secondary stage when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was no longer alive.

A more probable model is as follows: we can view the Quran as a text, which was delivered by a single individual - Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Quran was delivered in piecemeal by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) over a period of roughly 23 years. During this time Muhammad (peace be upon him) overlooked the arrangement of the Quran, ordering scribes where to insert the revelations. After his (peace be upon him) death, his followers, who we may refer to as "redactors," simply collected the Quran in a book form. To describe the scenario as a Western historian, putting aside our Islamic presuppositions, we may say that: The sequence of the Quranic Surahs, which does not follow a theological or a logical pattern, indicates a conservative and a theologically disinterested attitude by the redactors. That is to say that the redaction process was carried out in a cautious way, faithfully and without alterations. Hence, we may conclude that the texts assembled in the transmitted Quranic corpus represent none other than the wordings pronounced by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Next, we need to consider briefly Shamoun's further inconsistency and double standard. A number of Biblical books are widely believed by Biblical scholars to be composite texts, likely produced by multiple writers and/or redactors who used different and contradictory sources. A few well known cases will be briefly summarised here.

Beginning with the New Testament, the gospel of John is notorious for the breaks in its thoughts, narrative inconsistencies (known as 'literary seams'), and the lack of smooth transitions between several of its passages. Scholars, in order to account for this problem, have put forth a number of suggestions. Proposals range from the author having utilised several sources in a clumsy manner, the author assembling the sources hurriedly, the possibility of there being too many secondary hands working on the gospel, John being composed from a variety of performed oral and written material, to the possibility of displacement of pages in a papyrus codex. Whatever the cause of the disorder, many scholars tend to agree that the chapters are out of order and that John was edited after its initial writing, even if some may disagree on the number of disorders. The main difference of opinion is over the number of editors who worked on the final product and the number of sources, which were used. The proposition that chapter 21 probably stems from the later hand of an editor(s), is widely accepted.

Shamoun will undoubtedly dismiss all of these possibilities and will, probably, even refuse to acknowledge the presence of transitional problems between John's chapters and sections. We may be safe in predicting that he would likely cite a deeply conservative source sharing his presuppositions to dismiss the concerns of many scholars, most of whom are also Christians. But while being overly considerate and cautious in the case of the Bible, giving it all the benefit of doubt (even to an unreasonable extent), Shamoun will adopt the mindset of a hyper-sceptic when it comes to the Quran.

We are not arguing here that these theories about the unity of the gospel of John are correct. So Shamoun would be wasting his time by citing scholars defending the unity of the fourth gospel. Instead, we are simply pointing out that the above types of theories, which question the unity of the fourth gospel, do exist and many scholars, even if wrongly, do endorse such views.

2 Corinthians is also well known for the several breaks in continuity. The solution deemed persuasive by most scholars is that 2 Corinthians is a combination of two to five different letters of Paul. It is hypothesised that a redactor(s) preserved the main body of these independent letters, while the final greetings were dropped except for those now forming the framework of the composite letter. In the case of Philippians, scholars are almost equally divided, with many arguing that two or three letters were combined to make up Philippians and many others favouring unity. Regarding 1 Timothy, II Timothy, and Titus, it has even been proposed by a few that they consist of originally independent units, which were later stitched together with little attempt to weave them as coherent texts. Thus, these letters cannot be attributed to a single author (for example James D. Miller, The Pastoral Letters as Composite Documents (Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series), 2005, Cambridge University Press).

Once again, we are neither supporting nor denying any of the above scholarly views about the unity of the referred New Testament writings. We are only pointing out that such views exist, irrespective of their merits. None of the many scholars who adhere to any of the above mentioned proposals do so because they are "anti-supernatural" or for a priori dismissing the possibility of miracles and revelation. Instead, they are doubtful about the unity of the writings for genuine reasons, even if their arguments may be deemed weak. Many Christian scholars, who take the Bible seriously as inspired Scripture, genuinely believe that at least some of its books are probably composite documents.  If Shamoun was less than half as sceptical towards the Bible as he is towards the Quran, then he should be seriously entertaining doubts about the unity of these New Testament writings - a few at least - even if he may not agree with any of the specific existing hypotheses.

Things get considerably worse and complicated when it comes to the Jewish Bible. Most scholars attribute chapters 40 to 60 of Isaiah to one or more later "prophets" and do not believe that chapters 1 to 39 go back to Isaiah, thereby suggesting that some of these chapters are from a later time and from different authors. A number of conservative scholars can be cited who attribute Isaiah to multiple authors (to mention two conservative scholars: Ridderbos and F.F. Bruce). Pick any standard introduction, dictionary and commentary on the Jewish Bible and you will see scholars readily positing multiple sources, authors, and/or redactors for writings such as Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Jeremiah, Daniel, Hosea, Amos, Micah and Zechariah.

A major reason why most (and in some cases many) scholars believe that these books were probably authored by multiple authors and/or redactors and consist of independent units which were stitched together at a later time, particularly in the case of the Pentateuch, is the presence of the many repetitions within the same books together with contradictions, discrepancies and many differences between the repetitions, the awkward transitions between passages, sharp grammatical/literary differences, abrupt literary changes, the presence of "literary seams" and incoherent/chaotic structure/organization etc.

To reiterate, we are neither agreeing nor disagreeing with such conclusions but only pointing out that they exist. Yet Shamoun will most probably dismiss all of this and only accept views held by a few apologists and overly conservative scholars/writers who would defend the complete or substantial unity of these Biblical writings. But in the case of the Quran, Shamoun will derive sweeping conclusions with little or no sober-minded, serious and honest consideration/analysis.  

 

Sam Shamoun said:

Whatever the case, the point remains that consistency and honesty in argumentation demand that Shabir would certainly have a problem with the author(s) of the Quran changing or retelling the same story differently seeing that he has such difficulty with Matthew summarizing and/or telescoping Mark's pericope.

Response:

Besides already having shown himself to be inconsistent and dishonest in argumentation, Shamoun has now constructed a straw man since Ally did not object to mere summarisation and 'telescoping'. Worse, Shamoun wrongly presumes that the retelling of Lut's story in different places within the Quran is of the same type as Matthew's (9:18) 'telescoping' of Mark's story of the raising of Jarius' daughter. But they are not. He makes the wrong comparison since both are different types of changes. In the case of the Quran the details are not altered and the stories are merely related with differing emphasis suiting the contexts, whereas in contrast, Matthew has altered a fact provided by Mark.

Consider the Marcan and Matthean accounts side by side to note their difference (emphasis ours, NIV):

Mark 5

21When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet 23and pleaded earnestly with him, "My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live." 24So Jesus went with him.

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." 29Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

30At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?"

31"You see the people crowding against you," his disciples answered, "and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?' "

32But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."

35While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. "Your daughter is dead," they said. "Why bother the teacher any more?"

36Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, "Don't be afraid; just believe."

37He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39He went in and said to them, "Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep." 40But they laughed at him.

      After he put them all out, he took the child's father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum!" (which means, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!" ). 42Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Matthew 9

18While he was saying this, a ruler came and knelt before him and said, "My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live." 19Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.

20Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21She said to herself, "If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed."

22Jesus turned and saw her. "Take heart, daughter," he said, "your faith has healed you." And the woman was healed from that moment.

23When Jesus entered the ruler's house and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd, 24he said, "Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep." But they laughed at him. 25After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. 26News of this spread through all that region.

The objection is not merely to Matthew's summarisation or 'telescoping' of the story in Mark. There is nothing 'wrong' with summarising and 'telescoping' per se. The problem is that a fact provided by Mark has also been changed:

         In Mark Jarius says his daughter IS DYING (so, she is still alive). Only later do some men from Jairus' home inform him that his daughter has died.  But in Matthew Jairus says to Jesus (peace be upon him) that his daughter is ALREADY DEAD. The two are not the same. There is more going on here than mere summarisation and 'telescoping'.

         In Mark Jarius requests Jesus (peace be upon him) to HEAL his daughter. But in Matthew there is no mention of 'healing' since the daughter is ALREADY DEAD and, therefore, she only needs to be brought back to life so she can live. As Thomas G Long rightfully points out (our emphasis):

When Mark tells this story, the man requests a healing, for his daughter is "at the point of death" (Mark 5:23), but here in Matthew the man asks for far more than a healing. The daughter is already dead, and her father boldly calls for a resurrection, "Come and lay your hand on her, and she will live" (Matt. 8:18). (Thomas G. Long, Matthew (Westminster Bible Companion), 1997, 1st Edition, Westminster John Knox Press, p. 108.)

Or, as Stanley Hauerwas puts it (emphasis ours):

"He simply says that if Jesus will come to his house he knows that Jesus can raise his daughter from the dead." (Stanley Hauerwas, Matthew (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible), 2007, Brazos Press, p. 102.)

 

Granted this is a minor change and it does not affect the overall story, but it shows that one author (Matthew) changed a detail to suit his purposes - making the story more dramatic (in Matthew we know from the start that Jarius' daughter is dead). If such minor details were changed, then what else was changed? Surely, we cannot presume that nothing else was changed or a priori dismiss the possibility of similar and more major changes having been made in other places. 

No such differences are to be seen in the Quranic retelling of Lut's story (or any other story). Hence Shabir Ally committed no alleged 'inconsistency' or 'dishonesty' in his rightful argument that Matthew changed a detail supplied by Mark.

More importantly, Shamoun seeks to convey the misleading impression as if Shabir Ally is the one who, out of nowhere, 'spotted' a problem here, or that he "made it up." In fact, Christian scholars and commentators have been discussing this particular problem for a long time. Ally simply brought to the readers' attention the Christian discussion on the issue.

Conservative evangelical Christian scholar I. Howard Marshall, realizing the problem, wrote (our emphasis):

We can, of course, explain the contradiction quite easily and acceptably by saying that Matthew, whose general policy was to tell stories about Jesus in fewer words than Mark, has abbreviated the story and given the general sense of what happened without going into details. But the fact still remains that Matthew has attributed to Jarius words, which he did not actually say at the time stated. (I. H. Marshall, Biblical Inspiration, 1983, Grand Rapids: Eedermans, p. 61)

 

This led Marshall to the conclusion that the gospels should not be viewed as inerrant documents.

Evangelical scholar Donald A. Hagner wrote in his commentary to Matthew:

This extensive abbreviation does necessitate one important change: according to Matthew, the ruler reports initially that his daughter has died (9:19), unlike Mark's ... "near death" (Mark 5:23). Matthew's passage is thus from the start emphatically concerned with the raising of the dead (cf. 11:5) rather than the healing of the sick. (Donald A. Hagner, Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 33a, Matthew 1-13, 1993, Thomas Nelson, p. 247.)

Conservative scholar Bruce B. Barton wrote (bold ours):

Matthew abbreviated this story by quoting the father as saying, "My daughter has just died." In Mark's account, we read that the daughter was dying, but while Jesus was on the way, news came that the little girl had died. Matthew intended to stress Jesus' authority over death, so he shortened the story, retaining Jesus' words and focusing on his power. (Bruce B. Barton, Matthew (Life Application Bible Commentary), 1996, Tyndale House Publishers, p. 187)

Conservative scholar R. T. France wrote (bold ours):

More important, Matthew's telescoping of the two stages of the story (first Jairus' appeal, then the news of his daughter's death, after which the appeal is not withdrawn) results in the appeal being made when the girl is already dead, not just dying. It therefore appears from the beginning as what it ultimately became, an appeal for a raising of the dead, a much more startling act of faith than a request for help in extremis. That she was really dead, not only apparently as v. 24 suggests, is made clear by Luke (8:53, 55) and is presupposed in the mention of the raising of the dead in 11:5. (R. T. France, The Gospel According to Matthew: An Introduction and Commentary, 1987, Eerdmans, p. 170)

This means that Matthew, for the above reason, decided to change the statement of Jairus supplied by Mark.

In his commentary on Mark, R. T. France likewise adds (bold and underline ours):

There is no doubt that Matthew understood the girl to be dead, since he presents her father as stating the fact even on his first approach to Jesus; in Luke at that point she 'was dying', while in Mark she is in imminent danger of death. There is therefore some confusion as to just when she died ... (R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark: New International Commentary on the Greek Testament (New International Greek Testament Commentary), 2002, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, p. 234.)

 

Likewise, conservative Catholic scholar Daniel Harrington wrote:

According to verse 18, the ruler knew that the girl was already dead but still believed that Jesus could restore her to life. (Daniel Harrington, Gospel According to Matthew (Collegeville Bible Commentary Series), 1980, Liturgical Press, p. 44.)

So it is these (and other) Christians who have been saying that Matthew changed the wording attributed to Jairus in Mark. Why would these Christian scholars, all of whom are conservative, acknowledge that Matthew changed the wording which Jairus is given in Mark if there were not good reasons for concluding as such?

If Shamoun decides to cite other conservative scholars making an opposite argument, then he would only succeed in showing that Christians disagree on the issue.

A common counter argument is that while abbreviating the Marcan account and omitting unnecessary details, Matthew also left out the details of Jarius' "first" arrival to Jesus (peace be upon him) when his daughter was still alive. But this solution does not work since both Mark and Matthew are describing Jarius' very first meeting with Jesus (peace be upon him). Both present Jarius approaching Jesus (peace be upon him) for the first time. In both accounts, after hearing Jarius' (first and only) plea, Jesus (peace be upon him) proceeds to heal a woman subject to bleeding while making his way to Jarius' house. During this episode, it is presumed in Mark that Jarius' daughter is still alive. It is in the midst of Jesus' (peace be upon him) conversation in the aftermath of the healing event that Jarius is informed (by others) that his daughter has died. But notice that Matthew has already made Jarius declare right from the outset, BEFORE others notify him, that his daughter is already dead. Thus, in Mark Jarius only LATER learns about the death of his daughter whereas in Matthew he KNEW FROM THE OUTSET that his daughter was dead, hence his request to Jesus (peace be upon him) to bring her back to life and not simply to heal her (as Mark has it).

There is another problem with the accounts besides the one mentioned above. It has to do with the context. Mark and Luke claim that Jesus (peace be upon him) was approached by Jarius when Jesus (peace be upon him) and his disciples got out of their boat in Capernaum, as the crowds rushed towards Jesus (peace be upon him). But Matthew states that Jarius approached Jesus (peace be upon him) in Matthew's house as the disciples of John the Baptist were talking to Jesus (peace be upon him). Evangelical conservative scholar, Robert H. Stein, proposes that in the oral period the story of the raising of Jarius' daughter circulated independently, which means it was only later inserted in different contexts. Stein writes (bold ours italics by Stein):

The healing miracle of the raising of Jairus's daughter (Mark 5:21-24a, 35-43) is another example of how this insight applies. How is the meaning of this miracle story dependent upon its context? Is its meaning dependent on a relationship to the healing story found in Mark 5:24b-34? Is it dependent on the fact that it occurs in Mark's text immediately after the healing of the Gerasene demoniac (cf. Mark 5:1-20)? Yet, in Matthew, it does not occur immediately after this incident! We can probably explain this difference in order by assuming that in the oral period the account of Jesus' raising of Jairus' daughter circulated as an independent unit whose meaning was complete in itself. Outside of the general framework of Jesus' life and teaching, nothing more was needed to understand this pericope. Although it is an exaggeration to say that each pericope contains the whole gospel within itself, individual pericopes can frequently stand by themselves and are often best interpreted as self-contained units whose connection with the surrounding materials should not be pressed. (Robert H. Stein, The Synoptic Problem: An Introduction, 1987, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, p. 219.)

 

Sam Shamoun said:

Since Shabir maintains that this type of summary and telescoping, where the author may change a person's quoted speech without affecting the broad facts of the story, is unacceptable then he surely should object to what the author(s) of the Quran has(have) done with many of its narratives such as the story of Lot.

Response:

Three problems here:

1. Shabir Ally has not "maintained" that summary or 'telescoping' where the broad facts of the story are unaffected is "unacceptable";

2. The Quranic retelling of Lut's story is not of the "same" type as that of Matthew's 'telescoping' of Jairus' story;

3. Besides 'telescoping', Matthew has changed a fact in the speech supplied by Mark.

The most Shamoun can do is disagree with Marshall and the above cited conservative Christian scholars. Predictably, he will attempt to cite other conservative scholars and apologists who will have the opposite to say. This will make the situation worse since it would mean that conservatives are in disagreement over the issue themselves. At the very least, we have shown that there are conservative scholars around who acknowledge that Matthew, besides 'telescoping', also changed a detail supplied by Mark. Whether Shamoun likes it or not, such views among Christian scholars exist.

Sam Shamoun said:

Moreover, since Shabir emphasized that such telescoping implies that no speech of any person can be taken as "Gospel Truth" then he must remain consistent and say the same thing of the speeches found within the Quran. Shabir can no longer have confidence that any of the reported speeches of anyone in the Quran are really their actual words

Response:

To reiterate: Shabir Ally has not said that 'telescoping' or summarisation by itself suggests that the speeches in the gospels cannot be trusted in all cases. Instead, he rightfully pointed out that a fact was also altered by Matthew to suit his purposes. It is on this basis that Shabir Ally enquires: what else was changed?

More importantly, not only has Shamoun failed to show that "such" type of 'telescoping' exists in the Quran - where facts are altered - he also makes a faulty comparison since Muslims believe that the Quran is God's direct Word, Message and Revelation. Hence, even if the speeches within it are summarised and even if nothing more than approximates are supplied, then the One who is doing the summarisation and approximation is none other than God. Thus, the Quran is God's direct Speech where the Author - God - summarises speeches at times and presents approximates as well. God cannot make any mistakes while summarising an issue or giving an approximate of someone's speech. We are not arguing here that the Quran is God's word because it says so, but only that summarisation and approximates are not "problematic" if, through whatever reasoning and path, one comes to recognize and accept the Quran (or any other book) as God's Word. Thus, one needs to ascertain whether or not the Quran is likely to be God's Word, and if the claim of the Quran is accepted - that it is God's Word - then approximates and summarisations do not raise a "problem." 

This is different from the gospels since even Christians do not view them in this manner, as "revealed" Scripture. The human component in the formation of Scripture is generally acknowledged by Christians. More importantly, the gospel authors themselves never claim to be writing as "inspired" writers or to be receiving "revelations" or any details/information from God. Hence, the comparison with the Quran does not work.

But, for arguments sake, had the gospels authors even claimed to be writing under divine inspiration, it would have made matters worse since we would still be left with the fact that a detail supplied by "inspired" Mark was contradicted by the one offered by "inspired" Matthew - who also, by the way, was making full use of Mark despite being "inspired." Surely this cannot be attributed to God.

So then, we have a minor example of one author (Matthew) changing a fact provided by another author (Mark). The question then is: what other details were changed? Does it make sense to a priori suppose that nothing else was changed in a similar manner and that more significant changes could not have been made? This seems unreasonable. So, if we grant this possibility, then we have to use a set of criteria to determine the status of the details within the gospels.

Sam Shamoun said:

(in fact none of these speeches are truly the words of the prophets since the Quran is a false book that puts words in the mouths of God's true servants, but that is for another article).

Response:

In fact all of these speeches are truly the words of the prophets since the Quran is a true revelation of God, which conveys to us the correct words and summaries of God's true servants.

In fact, not all of the speeches in the Bible are truly the words of the prophets since the Bible is a collection of false books (containing some true words perhaps) which put words in the mouths of God's true servants, but that is for another article.

Sam Shamoun said:

After all, even these reported speeches in the Quran may have been 'telescoped' in the sense of having been changed so significantly in order to reflect the theology and beliefs of Muhammad or the author(s) of the Quran.

Response:

But then again, even these reported speeches in the Quran may not have been 'telescoped' in the sense of having been changed so significantly in order to reflect the theology and beliefs of Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Shamoun appears to believe that he merely needs to make an assertion and it will become true. However, one is required to submit evidence and arguments in order to convince others rather than to simply make proclamations. Note again Shamoun's inability to show that the incidents and speeches found in the Quran were 'telescoped' in such a way that they were changed "significantly."

All that we can be reasonably sure about is that this process has occurred in the gospels - something that Christians generally acknowledge. But then we have Shamoun's inconsistency. He will not accept the findings of Christian scholars, which includes conservatives in general, who admit that the gospel authors changed stories to suit their theological views. Scholars disagree over the extent of changes, but they agree that changes did occur, both minor and significant changes. Yet the weird situation is that Shamoun remains in denial when it comes to the Bible. He will be unreasonably cautious and would be more than happy to dismiss the masses of Christian scholarship. But he will become an excessively hyper-sceptic when it comes to the Quran, deriving far-fetched conclusions based on his imaginary "problems." 

Thus, Shamoun's entire apologetic enterprise is inherently inconsistent and unscholarly.

Sam Shamoun said:

What makes this all the more problematic for Shabir's position is that he doesn't believe that the Quran is the work of multiple authors or that it is Muhammad's composition, either of which would explain why there are major verbal changes and contradictions.

Response:

The problem is only at Shamoun's end since he is wrong about there being "major verbal changes and contradictions" within the Quran. We have shown this by going through an example presented by Shamoun, namely, the story of Lut. We saw how Shamoun misread passages, exaggerated, and just made clumsy errors. The same types of problems plague the other "examples" of alleged "major verbal changes and contradictions" presented by Shamoun. We will be going through them in another paper.

The correct position is that when stories are repeated within the Quran, particular themes are emphasised in different contexts. In none of the cases do we find change in factual details or contradictions. Instead, the wordings suit the context. God does not speak like a robot. He too is capable of saying the same thing again, but in a different way, while not contradicting what was said before.

Shamoun again proves to be inconsistent. The many glaring contradictions and major verbal changes in the stories repeated within so many Old Testament writings, which have convinced most Jewish and Christian scholars that this is best explained by positing multiple authors/redactors and the use of different contradicting sources for these books, are simply not acknowledged by Shamoun since they contradict his presuppositions about these writings.  

Sam Shamoun said:

He, instead, assumes (albeit erroneously) that God actually dictated these speeches and events to Muhammad.

Response:

Shamoun, instead, assumes (albeit erroneously) that God did not dictate these speeches and events to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Worse, Shamoun assumes (albeit erroneously) that God "inspired" the Bible and that the speeches and events within it are "inspired."

Worse yet, Shamoun assumes (albeit erroneously) that no conceivable differences and discrepancies could ever be committed by any Biblical author and that, at most, they could only 'telescope' and summarize speeches correctly.

(On a side note, this is not a good manner of argumentation. But we will be following Shamoun's example as an educational device, to show that we too can make such declarations).

Sam Shamoun said:

This means that Shabir must blame his god for repeating the same narrative with major verbal variations and contradictions. Shabir must take exception that his god chose to summarize or rearrange a person's speech (Ipsissima Vox) as opposed to narrating the exact words the person used in his/her conversations with others (Ipsissima Verba).

Response

There is no reason for Shabir Ally to blame God since God did not commit "major verbal variations and contradictions" when repeating the same narrative. As for God accurately summarising and "rearranging" a person's speech, then Shamoun misses the simple point that the Doer is believed to be God. If this is accepted and if one accepts that the Quran is God's direct Word, Message, and Revelation, then we can say that God correctly repeats stories, emphasising different elements in different places and correctly summarises speeches.

But Shamoun needs to blame his 'god' for repeating the same narrative with major verbal variations and contradictions - something which Christian scholars generally accept.

(Note, Shamoun, displaying his true character, is now engaging in blasphemy and is mocking by using the small 'g' for God. We will do the same by applying Shamoun's style upon him. It should be noted that Shamoun, through his unchristian behaviour, is a disgrace to Christians: http://www.call-to-monotheism.com/sam_shamoun__a_disgrace_to_christians_).

Shamoun writes and quotes:

Now will Shabir apply his criticism of the Bible to the Quran? We already know the answer to that since he says in response to Dr. White:

I do not believe, however, that so far James has succeeded in showing that I have committed this error, though I am well aware of his numerous attempts. In the Biola debate, for example, it turned out that the opposite phenomenon was at work. James would not want me to apply the same critical standards I use to evaluate Islam's hadiths now to evaluate the Gospels [sic]. Using these critical standards we grade hadiths and pronounce them as either authentic or inauthentic words of the Prophet Muhammad. Naturally, I would want to apply similar standards to the Gospels to determine if the words attributed to Jesus therein are really his. James did not seem to welcome this approach to the Gospels. Of course, if I do apply these strict standards, the Gospels would all fail the test in a wholesale fashion, for they would lack a continuous trace of reliable reporters from Jesus to the writer of the Gospels. (A Rejoinder to James (Part 1); source)

Do the readers see what is missing from Shabir's critical analysis? You guessed it, the Quran. Notice how this proves rather convenient for Shabir; he has no problem applying his critical standards to either the Gospels or the hadith collection but doesn't dare apply them to his Muslim scripture, thereby giving the misleading impression that the Quran doesn't contain any problems. And the reason is obvious why he hesitates to apply his criteria to the Quran. the Muslim scripture, unlike the Gospels, cannot pass such a critical examination of its contents.

Response:

There are a number of problems here.

First, Shabir Ally is not applying "his" critical standards upon any writing. In the case of the gospels he works with the critical standards devised by New Testament scholars; for hadith Shabir Ally works with the critical standards devised by hadith scholars; for the Quran Shabir Ally works with the critical standards devised by Quran scholars. No unified "critical standard" has been "invented" by Shabir Ally for the study of any of these writings.

Second, how does not applying a particular critical standard upon a given writing convey the impression that the writing in question may or may not contain "problems?" How does this work? In scholarship "critical" does not mean "sceptical" and its application may or may not reveal a problem.

Third, Shamoun needs to prove to us that he has the ability to enter other people's minds. Unless he can do this, it is not clear why it is "obvious" that Shabir Ally supposedly "hesitates" to apply "his criteria" upon the Quran for the reason that "the Muslim scripture, unlike the Gospels, cannot pass such a critical examination of its contents."  On the contrary, the reason why the hadith criteria may be applied upon the gospels is quite simple: the hadith are the closest thing the Muslims have to the gospels. They are the most similar. The Quran, on the other hand, is a very different book from the gospels while the gospels are most similar and comparable to the hadith corpus. Hence, it is logical to compare the gospels to the hadith.

But there is a problem. The gospel evidence, compared to the hadith, is comparatively so flimsy that the strict hadith criteria cannot be applied upon them since doing so would render the entirety of the gospels worthless. For example, every hadith has an isnad (chain of transmission) and a matn (text). If there is no isnad, then the hadith is useless. For the gospels we have no isnads whatsoever. We have no idea who was passing the traditions, which later came to be inserted in the gospels. Nor do we know precisely how these traditions were passed orally, though we know they were changed. Worse, we cannot be reasonably certain about the authors of the gospels. Christian scholars continue to debate the question of authorship. On their own, the gospels are anonymous writings. In light of these problems, the hadith scholars would regard the gospels as worthless and no better than mere gossip, and inadmissible as evidence, since they fail to meet the most basic and minimum criteria demanded by hadith scholars: they have no isnads.

In light of this, Shabir Ally puts aside the hadith criteria and does not dismiss the gospels in totality for lacking isnads. Instead, Shabir Ally adopts the criteria utilised by Biblical scholars and studies the Bible in the scholarly Biblical environment. Instead of being thankful to Shabir Ally for being considerate and lenient, Shamoun simply whines!

Sam Shamoun said:

If Shabir is going to be honest and fair then we would like for him to start applying his critical analysis of the Gospels and the hadith literature to the Quran from now on and to document his findings and research for all of us to read.

Response:

There is no method of "critical analysis" which has been invented by Shabir Ally. As explained, Shabir Ally correctly applies critical analysis on the Bible, which has been devised by Christian scholars. Likewise, he utilises the method of critical analysis devised by hadith scholars while studying the hadiths.

To apply criteria specifically designed for a given writing is not akin to being "dishonest". To demand the utilisation of one (unspecified) "criteria" upon all writings of diverse types, disregarding their uniqueness and contexts, in a uniform manner is akin to being unfair, not to mention being ignorant and unscholarly.

Shamoun is oblivious to the fact that different writings require different criteria. There is no one set of criteria, which can be uniformly applied upon all writings, as if they are one and the same. Instead, scholars devise criteria based on the context and environment of a given document, taking into account its unique features and distinctive points, as well as its genre. As such, different documents are applicable to different criteria. Some documents will share exactly the same criteria, some will share slightly different criteria, and some will be studied with notably different criteria. Yet, we can be rest assured that this scholarly principle will probably go over Shamoun's unscholarly mind.

Moreover, Shabir Ally already explained the issue cogently when he wrote (emphasis ours): 

It seems that James' apprehension of inconsistency on my part is due to his misunderstanding of the history of the Quran and the theology concerning it, and also his assumptions about my personal stand with regards to the specific issues. To a large extent, it is in fact my consistent approach to both scriptures that necessitates my claim that the Gospels have improved the status of Jesus over time. We see a similar move on the part of Hadith narrators. As I pointed out during the cross-examination phase of our debate, my consistency would require that I apply to the New Testament Gospels the critical acumen I bring to bear on Hadith studies. This is why I said that for its putting into the mouth of Jairus words which in the source of his narration was absent would render this episode in Matthew's Gospel a weak narrative. A similar approach is taken in handling Hadith.

On the other hand, Hadith is not Quran. The approach to a book must be determined by a number of general criteria, and also a number of specific criteria. While the application of general criteria is granted, I believe that James has been insisting that I apply to the Quran some specific criteria which, in my judgment, will not fit the Quran. It should be obvious that specific criteria applying to one book may not apply to another. For example, the New Testament is read from left to right. But the Quran is read from right to left. If this is obvious enough, a similar consideration applies to other aspects of the two books which are not immediately obvious to the uninitiated. James's insistence that I regard the Quran in the same way that I regard the Gospels misses the point about the specific nature of the two books. The Quran is not only different from the New Testament, but also from the Hadith, and from the Sirah works, the biographies of the Prophet of Islam, on whom be peace. (Source)

Sam Shamoun said:

And until and unless he starts doing so Shabir will only be proving that Dr. White's assessment of him is right on the mark: Shabir is inconsistent, and in our opinion dishonest, since he uses one criteria against the Bible and another for the Quran.

Response:

It does not matter if Shamoun continues to belligerently repeat and direct the false charge of "inconsistency" and "dishonesty" upon Shabir Ally since doing so only reveals his dishonesty and non-scholarly approach in assessing varied documents. As far as we are concerned, Shamoun can go and jump off a cliff. We really don't care about his opinion of Shabir Ally.

Frankly, we don't care what Shamoun thinks. As long as a sober-minded reader understands the scholarly point that is being made, our work is done.

If Allah wills, there will be more rebuttals to follow shortly.


Shamoun ends:

Endnotes

(1) It seems that some Muslims were aware of the dilemma and decided to therefore translate the Arabic term ahl as followers as opposed to family or household. But this simply introduces another problem, this time with the Biblical text, which says that the only persons whom God rescued were Lot and his two daughters (cf. Genesis 19:1-38).

Response:

Once again Shamoun would have us believe that he has the power to go inside the minds of these "some Muslims" and thus to know for sure that they decided to translate ahl as "followers" because they were supposedly "aware of the dilemma." Yet Shamoun has not demonstrated this. He just desires this to have been the case and, later, convinces himself that it really was the reason, which led some translators to use the term "follower." Could it not be that they decided to opt for the translation "followers" not because they thought there was a "dilemma" but because they honestly, even if wrongly, believed it to be the correct translation? And let's not forget that ahl could also mean "followers", though we agree that in the passage in question the correct translation would be "family/household."

And what about the many translators who translated "ahl" as family and household? As per Shamoun's logic, they did so because they did not believe there was a dilemma here.

(On a side note, even if Shamoun was right about the inner thoughts of "some Muslims" which led them to translate ahl as "follower," it would not introduce "another problem." Simply, they would regard the Bible to be wrong in asserting that only Lot and his two daughters were saved).

 

                                                                                 Conclusion

We saw that Shamoun relied upon a series of red-herrings, non-sequiturs and straw men in order to "respond" to Shabir Ally and to divert our attention from the original subject. Shabir Ally raised a valid point about the nature of the gospels; how its authors, at times, change the details of their sources and why we cannot accept everything within them at face value. In the meanwhile Shamoun replied back by bringing up the issue of ahruf and the divergence of opinion among Muslims on the subject. But the two are very different subjects. Moreover, Shamoun cited hadiths which he admits state that all ahruf are of equal authority and all differences between them are revealed by God, yet he still proceeded to naively (and foolishly) enquire as to which ahruf contain the "exact words of the original Quran." It is as if Shamoun can, for a precious few seconds, comprehend what a cited source states but, thereafter, his memory of it obliterates and then he has to ask what the source plainly answers. Needless to says, we also highlighted and addressed the numerous hyperboles thrown by Shamoun when discussing the irrelevant issue of the ahruf.

The comedy of comprehension does not cease at the topic of the ahruf. Shamoun went ahead to impress us with more of his comprehension problems when he commented upon the Quranic passages relating the story of Prophet Lot (peace be upon him) and his people. Again, we provided a point by point rebuttal to Shamoun and also addressed his desperate attempt to compare this with the contradiction in the gospels on the raising of Jairus' daughter. This also gave us the opportunity to cite a number of leading conservative scholars who acknowledged that there was a contradiction between the gospels of Mark and Matthew in their telling of this incident.

We also pointed out Shamoun's blatant inconsistency in commenting upon the Bible and the Quran by comparing his attitude towards these writings. In the case of the former, Shamoun becomes extraordinarily flexible and receptive into accepting views and hypotheses which give a positive evaluation to the Bible, even if such views and hypotheses are dismissed by most scholars. But in the case of the Quran, Shamoun will no longer be even slightly balanced. He will, instead, become extraordinarily sceptical and will reach the most far-fetched negative conclusions and even throw around grand-conspiracies based on the most wanton of reasons and evidences which are open to multiple interpretations (more reasonable than the one Shamoun decides to belligerently parade due to his presuppositions). This is enough to show that Shamoun is not interested in an honest, open and scholarly analysis of the writings. He is only interested in seeking out ways to defend his presuppositions and his a priori agenda.

We will continue to expose Shamoun's double standards, inconsistencies and disinformation in papers to be published in the near future.

 

 

Return to Refuting Sam Shamoun

 

Return to Homepage 

click here to view site

HomeWhat's new?IslamChristianityRefutations LanguagesMultimediaE BooksLinksContact Me