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Why I Think The Quran Is Not The Word Of God (Part 1)
1) Because God we are told is unique but no scriptures is found unique to be consistent with nature of such a god
2) Because I think the quran has been changed.
3) Because it teaches violence
4) Because it teaches people to discriminate against each other and be unfair to each other
5) Because it contains clear cut mistakes about various kinds of facts
Any rational person should be able to see that no allegedly divine religion can be proven something real or true. There is no proof nor anyone has been able to prove it as such. This is the reason that it comes under faith in faith or blind faith or as I call it superstition.
In our case (ie islam) it is time to examine the quran itself for various problems within it as well as problematic issues in Islamic faith itself.
For example, it is claimed by muslim scholars and on their authority by muslim masses that the quran is the only perfect divine revelation that exists today on the face of the earth. The question is, is it really true?
The history of the quran is reported in the hadith books and the hadith books show quite a bit of variation as regard the collection of the quran and the different versions of the quran. The case is similar in both shia and sunni hadith books. In fact there have been debates between the two as to who is to blame for raising the issue of quran not being complete.
There have been written books on this issue both by muslims and nonmuslims as well. However, here is what we find in Bukhaari for example.
Volume 6, Book 61, Number 509:
Narrated Zaid bin Thabit:
Abu Bakr As-Siddiq sent for me when the people! of Yamama had been killed (i.e., a number of the Prophet's Companions who fought against Musailama). (I went to him) and found 'Umar bin Al-Khattab sitting with him. Abu Bakr then said (to me), "Umar has come to me and said: "Casualties were heavy among the Qurra' of the! Qur'an (i.e. those who knew the Quran by heart) on the day of the Battle of Yalmama, and I am afraid that more heavy casualties may take place among the Qurra' on other battlefields, whereby a large part of the Qur'an may be lost. Therefore I suggest, you (Abu Bakr) order that the Qur'an be collected." I said to 'Umar, "How can you do something which Allah's Apostle did not do?" 'Umar said, "By Allah, that is a good project. "Umar kept on urging me to accept his proposal till Allah opened my chest for it and I began to realize the good in the idea which 'Umar had realized." Then Abu Bakr said (to me). 'You are a wise young man and we do not have any suspicion about you, and you used to write the Divine Inspiration for Allah's Apostle. So you should search for (the fragmentary scripts of) the Qur'an and collect it in one book)." By Allah If they had ordered me to shift one of the mountains, it would not have been heavier for me than this ordering me to collect the Qur'an. Then I said to Abu Bakr, "How will you do something which Allah's Apostle did not do?" Abu Bakr replied, "By Allah, it is a good project." Abu Bakr kept on urging me to accept his idea until Allah opened my chest for what He had opened the chests of Abu Bakr and 'Umar. So I started looking for the Qur'an and collecting it from (what was written on) palmed stalks, thin white stones and also from the men who knew it by heart, till I found the last Verse of Surat At-Tauba (Repentance) with Abi Khuzaima Al-Ansari, and I did not find it with anybody other than him. The Verse is:
'Verily there has come unto you an Apostle (Muhammad) from amongst yourselves. It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty..(till the end of Surat-Baraa' (At-Tauba) (9.128-129) Then the complete manuscripts (copy) of the Qur'an remained with Abu Bakr till he died, then with 'Umar till the end of his life, and then with Hafsa, the daughter of 'Umar.
Volume 6, Book 61, Number 510:
Narrated Anas bin Malik:
Hudhaifa bin Al-Yaman came to Uthman at the time when the people of Sham and the people of Iraq were Waging war to conquer Arminya and Adharbijan. Hudhaifa was afraid of their (the people of Sham and Iraq) differences in the recitation of the Qur'an, so he said to 'Uthman, "O chief of the Believers! Save this nation before they differ about the Book (Quran) as Jews and the Christians did before." So 'Uthman sent a message to Hafsa saying, "Send us the manuscripts of the Qur'an so that we may compile the Qur'anic materials in perfect copies and return the manuscripts to you." Hafsa sent it to 'Uthman. 'Uthman then ordered Zaid bin Thabit, 'Abdullah bin AzZubair, Said bin Al-As and 'AbdurRahman bin Harith bin Hisham to rewrite the manuscripts in perfect copies. 'Uthman said to the three Quraishi men, "In case you disagree with Zaid bin Thabit on any point in the Qur'an, then write it in the dialect of Quraish, the Qur'an was revealed in their tongue." They did so, and when they had written many copies, 'Uthman returned the original manuscripts to Hafsa. 'Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Qur'anic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt. Said bin Thabit added, "A Verse from Surat Ahzab was missed by me when we copied the Qur'an and I used to hear Allah's Apostle reciting it. So we searched for it and found it with Khuzaima bin Thabit Al-Ansari. (That Verse was): 'Among the Believers are men who have been true in their covenant with Allah.' (33.23)
Volume 6, Book 61, Number 511:
Narrated Zaid bin Thabit:
Abu Bakr sent for me and said, "You used to write the Divine Revelations for Allah's Apostle : So you should search for (the Qur'an and collect) it." I started searching for the Qur'an till I found the last two Verses of Surat At-Tauba with Abi Khuzaima Al-Ansari and I could not find these Verses with anybody other than him. (They were):
'Verily there has come unto you an Apostle (Muhammad) from amongst yourselves. It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty ...' (9.128-129)
Volume 6, Book 61, Number 512:
There was revealed: 'Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and those who strive and fight in the Cause of Allah.' (4.95)
The Prophet said, "Call Zaid for me and let him bring the board, the inkpot and the scapula bone (or the scapula bone and the ink pot)."' Then he said, "Write: 'Not equal are those Believers who sit..", and at that time 'Amr bin Um Maktum, the blind man was sitting behind the Prophet . He said, "O Allah's Apostle! What is your order For me (as regards the above Verse) as I am a blind man?" So, instead of the above Verse, the following Verse was revealed:
'Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame etc.) and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah.' (4.95)
Volume 6, Book 61, Number 513:
Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas:
Allah's Apostle said, "Gabriel recited the Qur'an to me in one way. Then I requested him (to read it in another way), and continued asking him to recite it in other ways, and he recited it in several ways till he ultimately recited it in seven different ways."
Volume 6, Book 61, Number 514:
Narrated 'Umar bin Al-Khattab:
I heard Hisham bin Hakim reciting Surat Al-Furqan during the lifetime of Allah's Apostle and I listened to his recitation and noticed that he recited in several different ways which Allah's Apostle had not taught me. I was about to jump over him during his prayer, but I controlled my temper, and when he had completed his prayer, I put his upper garment around his neck and seized him by it and said, "Who taught you this Sura which I heard you reciting?" He replied, "Allah's Apostle taught it to me." I said, "You have told a lie, for Allah's Apostle has taught it to me in a different way from yours." So I dragged him to Allah's Apostle and said (to Allah's Apostle),
"I heard this person reciting Surat Al-Furqan in a way which you haven't taught me!" On that Allah's Apostle said, "Release him, (O 'Umar!) Recite, O Hisham!" Then he recited in the same way as I heard him reciting. Then Allah's Apostle said, "It was revealed in this way," and added, "Recite, O 'Umar!" I recited it as he had taught me. Allah's Apostle then said, "It was revealed in this way. This Qur'an has been revealed to be recited in seven different ways, so recite of it whichever (way) is easier for you (or read as much of it as may be easy for you)."
Volume 6, Book 61, Number 515:
Narrated Yusuf bin Mahk:
While I was with Aisha, the mother of the Believers, a person from Iraq came and asked, "What type of shroud is the best?" 'Aisha said, "May Allah be merciful to you! What does it matter?" He said, "O mother of the Believers! Show me (the copy of) your Qur'an," She said, "Why?" He said, "In order to compile and arrange the Qur'an according to it, for people recite it with its Suras not in proper order." 'Aisha said, "What does it matter which part of it you read first? (Be informed) that the first thing that was revealed thereof was a Sura from Al-Mufassal, and in it was mentioned Paradise and the Fire. When the people embraced Islam, the Verses regarding legal and illegal things were revealed. If the first thing to be revealed was: 'Do not drink alcoholic drinks.' people would have said, 'We will never leave alcoholic drinks,' and if there had been revealed, 'Do not commit illegal sexual intercourse, 'they would have said, 'We will never give up illegal sexual intercourse.' While I was a young girl of playing age, the following Verse was revealed in Mecca to Muhammad: 'Nay! But the Hour is their appointed time (for their full recompense), and the Hour will be more grievous and more bitter.' (54.46) Sura Al-Baqara (The Cow) and Surat An-Nisa (The Women) were revealed while I was with him." Then 'Aisha took out the copy of the Qur'an for the man and dictated to him the Verses of the Suras (in their proper order) .
Volume 6, Book 61, Number 518:
Abdullah said, "I learnt An-Naza'ir which the Prophet used to recite in pairs in each Rak'a." Then Abdullah got up and Alqama accompanied him to his house, and when Alqama came out, we asked him (about those Suras). He said, "They are twenty Suras that start from the beginning of Al-Mufassal, according to the arrangement done be Ibn Mas'ud, and end with the Suras starting with Ha Mim, e.g. Ha Mim (the Smoke). and "About what they question one another?" (78.1)
Volume 6, Book 61, Number 521:
'Abdullah bin 'Amr mentioned 'Abdullah bin Masud and said, "I shall ever love that man, for I heard the Prophet saying, 'Take (learn) the Qur'an from four: 'Abdullah bin Masud, Salim, Mu'adh and Ubai bin Ka'b.' "
Volume 6, Book 61, Number 522:
Narrated Shaqiq bin Salama:
Once 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud delivered a sermon before us and said, "By Allah, I learnt over seventy Suras direct from Allah's Apostle . By Allah, the companions of the Prophet came to know that I am one of those who know Allah's Book best of all of them, yet I am not the best of them." Shaqiq added: I sat in his religious gathering and I did not hear anybody opposing him (in his speech).
Volume 6, Book 61, Number 523:
While we were in the city of Hims (in Syria), Ibn Mas'ud recited Surat Yusuf. A man said to him), "It was not revealed in this way." Then Ibn Mas'ud said, "I recited it in this way before Allah's Apostle and he confirmed my recitation by saying, 'Well done!' " Ibn Mas'ud detected the smell of wine from the man's mouth, so he said to him, "Aren't you ashamed of telling a lie about Allah's Book and (along with this) you drink alcoholic liquors too?" Then he lashed him according to the law.
Volume 6, Book 61, Number 524:
Narrated 'Abdullah (bin Mas'ud) : By Allah other than Whom none has the right to be worshipped! There is no Sura revealed in Allah's Book but I know at what place it was revealed; and there is no Verse revealed in Allah's Book but I know about whom
Volume 6, Book 61, Number 525:
I asked Anas bin Malik: "Who collected the Qur'an at the time of the Prophet ?" He replied, "Four, all of whom were from the Ansar: Ubai bin Ka'b, Mu'adh bin Jabal, Zaid bin Thabit and Abu Zaid."
Volume 6, Book 61, Number 526:
Narrated Anas bin Malik:
When the Prophet died, none had collected the Qur'an but four persons;: Abu Ad-Darda'. Mu'adh bin Jabal, Zaid bin Thabit and Abu Zaid. We were the inheritor (of Abu Zaid) as he had no offspring .
Volume 6, Book 61, Number 527:
Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: 'Umar said, Ubai was the best of us in the recitation (of the Qur'an) yet we leave some of what he recites.' Ubai says, 'I have taken it from the mouth of Allah's Apostle and will not leave for anything whatever." But Allah said
In these reports, we can clearly see people at the time differing as to the collection of the quran in form of a book as well as correct version of the quran.
The strange thing is that despite believing in seven versions of the quran and the single version of the quran muslims do not see any contradiction.
Question arises, if only one version was necessary then why seven were revealed? Or if seven were necessary, why only one was kept in circulation?
Moreover, why seven version were revealed at all? Was it because Arabs used to speak different versions of Arabic? If so why choose a language that is yet to develop to become proper?
Even if we accept that variation was to compensate for variations in arabic language that people spoke at the time, the question remains, why not then the concern of people who spoke other languages was taken into account?
Beside these there are other reports that tell, usman the 3rd caliph burnt the copies of the quran that varied with the one he published.
Why would one burn the copies of an alleged divine book if there is nothing seriously wrong with them?
In fact there are reports as to longer and shorter versions of the quranic suras. We are again confused as to why there should be more than one version of the same sura, one shorter and the other longer. Some bring in the rule of abrogation to explain away this problem but they fail to realise that this theory has its own drawback. For example, why would god reveal anything that needs changing within the 23 years of the revelation? Would that not indicate that if the change in Arabia in 23 years requires change in the message of god then how about times before and after the quran and the wider world's circumstances?
All such points clearly show that the quran we have today is not exactly what it was that was allegedly revealed.
As we have seen the situation so far regarding the alleged holy scripture is quite unsatisfactory. Common sense throws doubt at such claims and the history of the scriptures is also very much doubtful.
Under such circumstances it will be wrong for me to put my faith 100% in such scriptures and allow them to take over my life or to kill other human beings in their name or be killed myself by others in their name. This is why I do not like wars in the name of religion. Dharam yuds by hindus,, crusades by christians or jihads by muslims are all one and the same thing ie killing of others in the name of their religion.
My argument is very simple, if god is good and all merciful being, can such scriptures as are alleged to be his word be really his word?
If oneâ€™s father is a really good man, is one right to attribute anything to him that does not fit his personality?
Christians think and so they claim that the holy bible is god's word, are they right? Muslims likewise think and claim that the holy quran is god's word, are they right?
The point is not that these books are god's words because they are taken for granted as miraculous etc etc etc...... but that, are these books truly found miraculous and are found to be good enough by careful scrutiny to be attributed to such a unique being? Many people may not know but it is assumed that word god comes from word good ie god is called god because he is all good.
If we study the alleged divine scriptures, they contain mistakes, wrong ideas, systems and practices which people do not hesitate to attribute to god. Some may take action as they see fit in order to stop people from being critical of a religious scripture. They do not realise that believing in a book as revealed word of god is not as simple as they think. It is paramount that people do not attribute to god what is obviously not from god no matter who says, it is.
In fact, we need to ask ourselves some serious questions eg if jesus says something about god that does not fit the nature of god, is he not to be ignored? Why not?
If muhammad attributes something to god that does not fit the being of god, should he be believed and followed?
Likewise, if Muhammad is a prophet of god and a good man, should we accept anything that anyone attributes to such a good man in the name of hadith?
All this calls for very careful and very serious critical examination of such claims or attributions. If we must fear god as the quran suggests, is it not then yet more important that we do not attribute to god what cannot be proven to be from god himself?
If this is the case then blind faith is no faith at all or is it? Are we doing the right thing by believing in any alleged divine scripture as god's word without satisfying ourselves that that is really the case? Or does it dissolve our individual responsibility once we are born in a religion?
Moreover, is it enough to attribute anything anyone has written about any holy man or should we be seriously critical of it, for our whole being is at stake here?
These like questions force one to make up one's own mind oneself about any alleged heavenly scripture. It is these like questions that force one to be critical of any alleged divine scripture and take nothing for granted. Moreover god should be happy that one is doing his will or god having given us brains and making us human beings would count for nothing.
This leads me to criticism of the quran ie is the quran truly word of god or a hoax attributed to an imaginary god? I am using word imaginary because if the scripture proves to be false then god of this scripture is also a false god. Only a true god can give us a true scripture. In other words if we have imagined a god for ourselves for some reason (and there are plenty of reasons why we would do that) then we must have imagined a scripture from him as well.
So the questions arise, what is quran, its structure and contents etc etc? Also what is islam and its structure etc etc?
Some people who do not question their faith out of respect should think about, who deserves our respect most? God or quran, God or Muhammad? Muhammad or hadith? Hadith or ulema=learned muslims? If the answer to first two questions is god then quran must be examine and Muhammad must be examined. Likewise in turn hadith must be examined and ulema must be examined and so on and so forth.
If questioning the authorities to find out the truth is being disrespectful then let us be disrespectful because the question is, are we being respectful by attributing wrong things to higher authorities or is the higher authority happy that we are attributing to it anything we like? This is a catch 22 situation ie whether you question or you don't you are being disrespect either way. Who put us in this situation? Did we ourselves or was it god? If the answer is god then he knew all this did he not?
Many muslims throw a challenge that none can produce anything like the quran, for that is what the quran claims eg see 2/23, 10/38, 11/13, 17/88 etc.
If people understand something it does not necessarily follow that they would imitate it unless it serves some purpose for them. You cannot imitate something that you do not understand and that is a matter of fact. You can imitate anything you can understand sooner or later and that too is a matter of fact. If people did not understand the quran, they will not be able to imitate it but then the quran serves no purpose if not understood. On the other hand if they did understand it then it is impossible that they will not be able to imitate it. Humans have been successfully imitating nature in many respect and that is a fact.
So the idea expressed about inimitability of the quran seems flawed either way. Also if the quranic challenge is for the whole wide world then only Arabs at the time knew Arabic and only those who were educated, so throwing a challenge to everyone would seem absurd, for it was god himself who created all of us ignorant says the quran 16/78. Does it make any sense if I challenge a baby that you cannot produce anything like an encyclopaedia for example or even a simple book? Everyone would have a good laugh at me if you know what I mean and people would think I am a crackpot. Now muslims cannot say that quranic challenge was only for that time nor that it was only for educated Arabs, for in 17/88 the quran makes it clear. The challenge is nowhere defined in the quran, so anything anyone brings and claims it is like the quran, who is there, impartial, enough and accepted authority to both the muslims and the nonmuslims to say that it is or it is not?
The challenge is also flawed because it is not fair test in the sense that muslims cannot doubt the quran even for a second and therefore cannot accept that anyone can produce suchlike thing, if they did, they would no longer be muslims. So the challenge seems to be self defeating and a nonsense. It is ok to make fool of simple minded people but cannot pass the scrutiny when tested by those with knowledge.
It is a scientific fact that you cannot test anything without having or devising a clear-cut criterion=method=a way of testing something or concept that works. In this case no muslim can tell how this challenge is going to work if to begin with they are not willing to accept the possibility that some one may be able to produce something like the quran? So putting forth the quran for testing and not accepting the two possible outcomes makes the muslims fake challengers and the quran a fake challenge.
People here and there still produced some writing to answer the challenge but then muslims destroyed them like statutes of budha. Recently just before 9/11 some people put up their suras like quran but were forced to take down their websites due to complaints by muslims who felt offended. So this was another aspect of the muslim challenge and muslim apostates were always killed by individuals as well as islamic states under sharia codes of law.
Open discussions and debates were never part of islamic culture or tradition and tribal cultures and traditions islam replaced were not any better either and that is what kept the truth about islam hidden. The present world order seems to be moving towards better world therefore islam is becoming more and more exposed to the world hence it is targeted more than other religions, for it is still trying to hold people back in 7th century arabia. So all such like things make the quranic challenge more and more absurd and senseless.
Talking about difference of styles between the quran and the hadith, one needs to realise that one can relay information like a story or like a lecture or even sing it if one like to do that. The vedas, the avesta, the bible etc are narrations ie the allegedly heavenly inspired people are sharing the divine information as stories, be it in various forms eg a bit prose, a bit dialogue and a bit poetry.
The hadith is also similar ie it too is a collection of short reports by people who allegedly witnessed the words or deeds of the prophet of islam and reported them just like the news reporters ie short stories. The prophet himself at times reported about Allah in form of ahadith qudsi.
Basically there are different forms of expression eg prose, poetic or dramatic etc that could be used together. Also the material expressed could be fictional or factual and or both combined. It could be in form of a narrative (ie a story that is told) or a lecture ( ie a sermon that is delivered) and or a poem that is sung. The modes of expression could be narrative, discursive, argumentative, persuasive, informative, impressionistic, expressive etc etc.
As for, why the quran is different in style from hadith? The answer is simple, because the prophet is delivering sermons as he allegedly received them from Allah and the reporters are following him along and report about it in the form of hadith reports. Think it as if a politician is going about his political business and news reporters are with him reporting about all his moves and speeches he delivers. So there is no uniqueness in the Quranic style whatsoever. As for god speaking in the quran, so does he, in ten commandments for example and likewise in other religious scriptures eg gita etc. In gita, krishan delivers his lecture to arjun exactly as allah speaks to Muhammad. The major point one may wish to understand is that the quran is not unique even in its uniqueness. There are things that are unique to individuals and likewise the quran too is unique in that context, looking at it from that perspective. In other words the quran is not unique in all its aspects eg the quran is written with pen on paper and so are many other books. It is printed and distributed and so are many other books. Likewise the quran uses human language and so do all other books.
Moreover, human psychology is very straight forward ie we cannot live with decisions that we may deliberately make wrong with serious consequences. Not only that but even if we make a wrong decision by mistake and realise later that we have done such a thing, we regrets it, especially if consequences are harmful.
It is understanding of human mind that makes me question religious people when they accuse each other of deliberate lies eg muslims accusing christians etc or vice versa. People do not and cannot deny the truth deliberately knowing full well the serious consequences. Since they are born ignorant and to educate themselves is not easy at all hence lack of knowledge is to be blamed which again is not deliberate nor their fault. It is a fact that most christians remain as they are and so do the rest of the people because they remain in the same religious environment in which they were born as well as dogmatic indoctrination works wonders so to speak. If people from different backgrounds interact more and more and indoctrination was not allowed, this situation is bound to change.
Do we keep our childish beliefs when we grow up? No, we change our outlook on life as we grow. What makes us change? Learning more and more about things. As for uniqueness of the quran is concerned, the argumnent that the quran is unique and therefore word of god has been proven invalid. According to various Islamic sources the quran should be understood through the quran, because the author is the best source for explaining it, for he knows what exactly he wants of the reader eg the commander is the best person to explain his command to its executioner, for he knows exactly what he wants of him.
The problem with this rule is that it is fine for ordinary people and their works but not for god and his work, for god ought to explain all things to everyone in a unique way that none could misunderstand him. If people must follow god precisely then they must understand god precisely and unless god himself is precise, people are unable to read his mind. So god cannot afford to leave things to people to make any sense of anything they like, for that would defeat the purpose of divine instruction ie clear cut guidance for mankind. In other words, godâ€™s word ought to be the first and final, needing no further explanation. If it did then any further explanation by anyone is bound to be yet more imperfect or incomplete needing yet more explanations and that will mean an unending chain of explanations. Who is going to look after all these explanations to ensure their propriety, perfection and preservation or survival? If simple thing is difficult to take care of then complex thing will only compound the problem, would it not?
The next most important rule is said to be, the understanding of the quran through the hadith, for prophet only did what god asked him to do and did it exactly as god wanted him to do. So he is a good example as to how one should fulfil godâ€™s commandments.
The problem with this rule is that god did not and could not give the quran to the prophet for his own understanding only but for understanding of everyone. If the quran had been only and only for the prophet then only hadith would have been needed for people, for there was no point for god in preserving his book that was not to be understood by the masses of people anyway. Also if hadith became important then perfection and preservation of it would have been absolutely necessary yet we all know that hadith has not been preserved that reliably. For example, even the compilers of hadith were not sure as to reliability of what they collected as words and deeds of the prophet. Moreover recording everything about each and every narrator of hadith was an impossible task, so there is no way to prove extraordinary reliability of hadith as part of divine revelation.
It is not possible, for it is unthinkable, that god would leave his message at the mercy of some mortals who do not know what they are doing. So the theory that the message of god needs to be understood by way of a narration that is not equally reliable is unlikely to stand scrutiny. In short if the quran is divine but hadith is not then there is no consistency between the two, for you cannot understand the perfect through the imperfect, reliable through unreliable or clarity through confusion. So the rule that the quran should be understood through the hadith does not seem right at all, for it cannot and does not work. The story of the life of the prophet is not preserved perfectly therefore it will be a mistake on grand scale to use the life of the prophet as the example to follow.
Muslims claim that the quran is unique and therefore word of god. They explain uniqueness of the quran in various ways, but are their explanations any good? The quranic god is unique in each and every sense and so the scripture attributed to this god has to be unique in each and every sense to be consistent with his nature of being, so does the quran prove to be unique in each and every sense?
The main question in this regard is, why the quran is said to be unique? Is it because the quran proves to be unique as such that it is claimed to be word of god or is it because it is claimed to be word of god that it is thought of as unique word of god? Did the quran survive as it was allegedly originally revealed or has it suffered alterations? Did it survive because it proves to be the unique word of god or is it because it survived that it is thought of as the unique word of god? Is it because the quran prove to be the unique word of god in each and every sense that none can produce the like of it or is it because the quran is thought of as unique word of god and so like of it is thought to be impossible by anyone but not in reality?
In order to answer questions like the ones I have raised, one has to study the scripture itself. When one studies a text one needs to realise what purpose it ought to be serving. The purpose is important, because it is the purpose of that text that decides its worth or usefulness for people and so what people need will survive regardless whether it is word of god or not. For example. if you write a children's story book, it will only survive as such not as a word of god. If you write a constitution for a state, it will survive as such. If you write a religious book, it will survive as such.
The study of the quran will itself reveal what useful purpose the quran has been serving and for who, so that very fact helped it survive and not that the quran was word of god. Many words of god did not survive before it even according to the quran itself. So according to the quran itself word of god does not necessarily have to survive just because it is word of god 2/106, 13/39, 16/101, 22/52, 87/7 etc etc. Since god has been doing things the very same way according to the quran 33/38,62, 35/43, 40/85, 48/23 etc, hence if he did not preserve the so called earlier revelations then he did not preserve the quran either. There were sent many prophets and various messages by god according to the quran and none has survived. So the idea that the quran has been perfectly preserved therefore it is the unique word of god does not seem to be consistent with what the quran itself states.
Moreover the skill of reading and writing survived, the skill of story telling survived, the skill of communication survived only and only because that was serving some purpose for people. Many languages survived many did not. In theory of evolution things survive because they happen to be at the right place at the right time ie things happened in their favour of survival. Survival of the fittest does not mean that the strong wins all the time and the weak loses but that either things just happen in oneâ€™s favour that one survives or things go wrong and so one does not survive.
For example, if there are two chickens. One has strong built bodily but cannot run fast, the other a bit weaker bodily but fast in running. If both faced a dangerous situation, it depends on the circumstances and the environment which of them will survive. If the situation they come across is such that only bodily strong chicken can survive it, then only and only that chicken will survive the danger. Odds will change if the situation demanded the chicken that can run faster, for in that case the only chicken that will survive the situation will be the one that can run fast. So the quran ought to survive if it met the criterion for any given situation that it faced. Had the circumstances changed the quran could not have survived. So the situation is not unique for the quran but any book that survived must have met the odds of survival or it could not be around any more.
The other point I will make here is, all people do not feel the urge to read or write anything. Those who read, even they all do not feel the need or urge to write anything and even if they did, it is unlikely that they all will have the opportunities and circumstances to do so. Hence only some people write anything. Now those who write, their interests vary considerably eg some might write story books, others political books and yet others poetry books and so on and so forth. Likewise some people may write only one book about only one thing the while the others may write many books on many things. Some may write the very same book many times editing it each time the while the others may write a book only once and only when they and their thoughts have completely matured about the subject they are going to write about. Moreover some may write a book alone others may join with others, depending again on the purpose they intend for the book. For example, general encyclopaedias are contributions by many people belonging to many different disciplines or specialised fields of knowledge. So the quran is not any different in this respect. The point I have raised is true for all kinds of books hence it covers the religious scriptures as well.
I would also raise the point about the character/s and the mindset of the author/s of the book. This is very good point but in case of the quran the records about the prophet and his companions are thought to be dodgy even by people who claim to be muslims eg ahlal quran or the quran only muslims etc. So the reports about the prophet and his companions cannot help us much to know about the prophet and his companions as a matter of fact. This is important because the man claimed to be a divine prophet so he cannot be an imperfect man thus nothing can be attributed to him that is not consistent with his allegedly very responsible position. Since the contributors of the quran are unknown, we can only assume certain characters but nothing precise. Any piece of text has to be about personal experience, common experience or both and or mere fiction. As for the quran, there have to be two opposing assumptions to begin with.
1) As it is rightly thought by muslims that the quran is word of god. If it is then it ought to be perfect therefore it ought to survive for ever. Whether that was really the case is another matter, for that we will need evidence. And the evidence we have points to the contrary. For example, in case of revelations that were sent before the quran for a time did not survive even till their appointed time. Also the quranic text was changed soon after its revelation in two ways a) by way of abrogation and b) by way of so called variant readings. The evidence of which is still around and has been explained by various muslim scholars in their religious works about the quran through out times and places eg maulana maudoodi, Mullah ali qaari and jalaal uddeen sayooti, ibn hajjar makki and asqlaani etc. I have quoted some ahadith in this regard already.
2) We must also make the assumption that what if the quran was not word of god, would it still survive? Before we talk about the evidence, we must question, for how long? In this world nothing survives for ever but only for a time and only for as long as something serves some known or unknown purpose, regardless it is word of god or not. Things have purpose in our sense and not necessarily in sense of other things. As for nature, things just happen, there is no purpose to them. It is for this reason as far as we are concerned, there is no purpose set out for us in our life. We just set up our own goals and try to achieve them. It is we who assume or assign purpose to other things as well. In a similar manner some of us have invented theory of divine revelation and have assigned a purpose to it and then we have brainwashed others to think that that has assigned some purpose to their life without which life has no meaning.
So a point worth noting is that each and everything that nature brings to being has a life span eg a person, a table, a book etc etc. Because if means of preservation are temporary then the information they preserve or hold cannot be permanent. For example, the quran was not preserved by means that were not yet invented and as those means become obsolete so does what they preserved. Likewise the information could be transferred from medium to medium eg from pen and paper method to audio and video or computer etc etc.
So many books which are not word of god have been preserved and so we have books that are hundreds of years old ie going back many generations. It shows clearly that survival is not unique to alleged divine scriptures, nor can it be proof of their uniqueness and thereby of their divinity. Many translations and explanations written on divine books have survived even if they were critical of the scriptures. For example, pre-islamic era arabic writings and contemporary works. Many commentaries and works written about hindu, parsi, jewish, christian etc etc scriptures have also survived.
Likewise, memorizing of a book is not unique to the quran either and so cannot be used as proof of its divinity. In fact there are not many aspects that could be ascribed to the quran as its unique features. The most challenging in muslim thought is the challenge aspect of the quran that like it cannot be produced. The question is, what are the challenging aspects on which the quran cannot be matched? Unless this challenge itself is clearly defined by the challenger ie Allah in the quran, anyone can say anything about it and try and get away with it, which obviously one cannot as already has been explained. A fair test is only fair when all its aspects are fully and fairly defined for the set purpose for all participants ie for people who challenge and those who respond as well as those who are to judge and decide etc etc. Since the quran fails to do so because such a thing is impossible hence it is not a fair test at all to begin with, for it cannot be carried out.
In general, one must remember that in any language letters are combined to make words. So letters are not unique to the quran, likewise words are not unique to the quran either, for they were used by people long before the quran was even heard of. As for sentences or verses, they are only combinations of those letters and words and so there is nothing there either that could be said to be unique to the quran. Just as the quran has used existing words and sentences of arabic language (ie it has borrowed each and everything from existing arabic language), we too can very easily manipulate the quranic words and sentences and produce the like of the quran from within the quran which will not be the quran but will be exactly like the quran just like the quran was produced from existing arabic sources. How can one now distinguish that the quran is different from the like of the quran? The quran does not say that this test cannot be met this way. Just as muslims can say anything so can we, why not?
So it is not that people cannot write a few verses like the quran but that muslims are not willing to accept it. Now if one does not allow or accept response, that is different. You see, I can take a sura from the quran and just add one word in it from myself. Will it be the quran any more? No, but would it be like the quran? No, that is the expected response of muslims. The problem is that muslims think that it is alright for the quran to take letters, words and sentences etc etc from a human language but humans have no right to this reverse creativity. So our words can become god's words but god's words which were originally our words to begin with cannot become our words since now they have been allegedly used by god. A strange concept alien to human logic indeed, even when Allah is only telling us in a lots of verses what other people said eg pharaoh said this and moses said that etc etc. So no wonder then that no work ever produced has been accepted as equal to the quran, for we have only muslims the challengers and the judges and there is no set criterion to judge by.
It is like you borrow all the material for making a table from me ie the tools, the legs and the top etc etc and put them together to make a table then challenge me that I cannot make the table like it. My reply would be, I can if you would allow me to use my own material that you have borrowed of me but you refuse to accept that the challenge is met that way. The fact is one did not make clear along with challenge that the answer to the challenge this way is unacceptable so whose fault is that?
The other problem is that some of the muslims never allowed anyone to answer the challenge properly, for they threatened such people with serious consequences, so it would not be called a fair test or challenge for that reason either. Moreover, the challenge being obviously a waste of time, some people have other important things to do, for different people look at things differently.
Another point I would like to make is that the quranic verses are very easy to change because they use very easy rhyming words for example ie instead of hakeem we can use haleem or instead of shiyateen we can use faasiqeen or mun-kireen or kafireen etc etc. Arabic is most ambiguous language ie one word could have so many meanings and many words could have similar meanings therefore it becomes handy for replacing words for words in the quran. If one looks at alternative readings of the quran that is exactly what had happened ie people just mistook one word for another. These errors in my view could only be justified as alternative recitations rather than mistakes and errors, for people had a lot to do at the time when the quran was allegedly being revealed, so, who had the time to memorise the quran properly from a to z, especially when it was bits and pieces from here, there and everywhere? After all we are all humans not gods.
Also when it comes to understanding things, no challenge is as challenging as the understanding of the world in which we live yet we are making serious in roads in this field. So one can see that if we can understand and do things which none has done before us and there is no such example for it then how is it that we cannot produce the like of the quran which is in front of us ie at least we can understand the quran from itself which uses the material that we are very familiar with?
Looking at it in another way, each and every piece of writing is unique and again the quran is not unique in that regard either eg my way of writing is different from yours. So any claim which does not have a unique explanation cannot be proven, for alternative equally valid possibility causes doubt which is enemy of the proof ie certainty. The challenge of the quran is not only that some one else cannot produce like it but that a person oneself is challenged and so anyone who follows the way of producing the quran as explained can produce it oneself. It is like an instruction set that comes with a do it yourself kit.
As for understanding the quran through knowing the prophet, his words and actions, that is not possible because of so many doubtful factors eg whatever information we have about the prophet has reached us through doubtful channels. By setting up the methods to scrutinize such information for validity and rejecting a vast amount of it, the collectors of hadith have shown us that hadith reports cannot be trusted merely on the basis of isnaad=chain of reporters . So trying to prove something by doubtful means is not going to work or is it? The main point here is that if god was to send his message for people he ought to take care of ways and means as well ie he ought not to let the ways and means become doubtful. It is enough problem to learn to prove the claim true never mind having to prove each and every aspect in this matter. That is why no one has ever done it and none will ever succeed in doing it, for such a thing is impossible to do.
So far one can see that each and every aspect that might help prove the quran divine has not passed the hurdle and got into doubtful state. In order to prove the quran the unique word of god, each and every aspect needed to be beyond any doubt but it is not and so long as doubt remains the certainty is impossible.
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