Did the Prophet s.a.w. forbid reading the Bible?

Discussion in 'Islam' started by Out There, Feb 13, 2010.

  1. Out There

    Out There Servant of God

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    Israeliyyat Narrations(narrations from Jews and Christians)
    by Ibn Anwar
    Recently, under the Trinity thread on seekingilm a brother with the nick name tru_quran asked the following:​
    Assalamu ‘alaykum,​
    Can anyone give me the reference where Prophet Muhammad(saws) forbade the Sahabah from reading other religious book except Qur’an…..then the reference where he(saws) allowed them later; i think it was because their Imaan was high enough and they understood tawhid so he(saws)allowed them to read them.?​
    Jazak’Allah khair​
    I am aware that there are Muslims out there who disagree with our usage of the Bible apart from the Qur’an and Sunnah in our da’wah activities. They say that the Prophet s.a.w. never used it and even forbade its usage, so we shouldn’t follow the likes of the late Ahmed Deedat, Shibli Zaman, Bassam Zawadi etc. However, disagreement does not equal to binding religious prohibition. This article is a humble attempt in response to the first request from tru_quran and the claim against using Bible for da’wah purposes. The following material is based on notes from my Ulum Al-Qur’an or Sciences of the Qur’an course under the tutelage of Assoc. Prof. Dr. Israr Khan. Note that the translations of the quotations provided are the professor’s.​
    In Islamic Arabic literature works or books related to Judaism and Christianity are called simply as ”Israeliyyat”. Outwardly the word itself seem to imply that it consist only Jewish literature e.g. Torah, Talmud. However, technically, it also includes Christian traditions i.e. the New Testament. Thus, the term Israeliyyat may be correctly interpreted into the English language as “Judeo-Christian Traditions”.​
    The reason why the term Israeliyyat is opted for to describe both Jewish and Christan traditions or literature instead of for example Israeliyyat wa Nasraniyyat traditions is simply because when the Bible in totality is considered the Jewish traditions supercede and dominate(in quantity) the Christian traditions. So, for the sake of ease and simplicity both are called Israeliyyat.​
    Permissibility on the use of Israeliyyat traditions(Judeo-Christian Traditions)
    The method of the Sahaba, the Salaf, the khalaf and the latter scholars in regards to the use of Judeo-Christian traditions or the Israeliyyat was governed and dictated by the guidelines of the Qur’an ad Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. In this regard three Ahadith are usually considered by the scholars.​
    1. Abu Hurairah r.a. says that the Jews used to read the Torah in Hebrew and interpret it in Arabic for Muslims, whereupon the Prophet s.a.w. instructed: “Don’t endorse the statements of the people of scripture nor reject them”​
    (Sahih Bukhari, Kitab Al-Tafsir, Hadith No. 4485)
    2. Abdullah Bin Amr B Al-As says that the Prophet s.a.w. said: “Convey to others wha I say even though one message. And report from the Bani israel, there is no problem in it. But beware that one who attributes something wrongly to me will certainly get his abode in the hell-fire.”​
    (Sahih Bukhari, Kitab Al-Anbiya, Hadith No. 3461)
    3. Jabir Bin Abdullah reports that once Umar Bin al-Khattab read a book, which he had received from a Jew, to the Prophet who got angry and said: “O the son of al-Khattab, ar you embarrased? By the One in whose hands is my life, I have brought to you something which is pure and immaculate. Don’t ask them(the Jews) anything. There is a possibility that they tell you the truth and you refute it, or they tell you the false and you confirm it. By the One in whose hands is my life, even if Musa were alive today he would have followed me.”​
    (Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Hadith no. 4736)
    How do we understand the three Ahadith which on the face of it seem to be conflicting with one another?​
    The first hadith actually conveys a message of being extra cautious and wary while considering Israelite and Christian sources. It also informs us that we should not be dependant of their traditions since it is not so easy to distinguish that which is true from the false due to the fact that their scriptures are not perfect and preserved.​
    The second hadith is an explicit and categorical permission for receiving and accepting information from Judeo-Christian traditions/Israeliyyat. But at the same token, it warns and cautions us from attributing them to the Prophet s.a.w., perhaps in hopes of giving it better credance. Further more, when the tradition is read in light of Abdullah Bin Amr’s treatment of some Jewish treatises which he is reported to have possessed during the Yarmuk expedition as mentioned by Ibn Taimiyyah in Muqaddimah Fi Usul Al Tafsir, published by Dar ‘Ammar, Jordan on page 48, it becomes even more clear that Iraeliyyat traditions can be accepted so long as there is no contradiction between them and the Qur’an which is the ultimate criterion(and the authentic hadith). ​
    Amir Al-Mu’mineen Fil Hadith, Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani r.a. explains the issue in light of what Imam Al-Shafi’e r.a. said:​
    “It is a known fact that the Prophet s.a.w. does not allow false reporting. In this light the Prophet’s hadith about Israelites sources means that the information which do not appear false could be narrated.”​
    (Al-Dhahabi, Muhammad Hussain, Al-Tafsir wal Mufassirun, vol. 1, pg. 17)
    The third hadith according to Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani is confined to the time prior to the perfection and completion of Islamic rulings and fundamental maxims or principles of divine revelation in reference to the scheme of life. After that period of time was over when the sahabah were already truly grounded in Islam the application of the prophet’s instruction found in the third hadith became null and void. Apart from that the Prophet’s ban does not include Judaic information which conform to what is found in Islam on the accounts of previous people.​
    (Al-Dhahabi, Muhammad Hussain, Al-Tafsir wal Mufassirun, vol. 1, pg. 172)
    Sources for Israeliyyat traditions in Tafsir
    Israeliyyat traditions applied in Tafsir are mainly quoted from four persons:​
    1. Abdullah Bin Salam r.a.​
    2. Ka’b Al-Ahbar r.a.​
    3. Wahb Bin Munabbih r.a.​
    4. Ibn Juraij r.a.​
    1. Abdullah Bin Salam r.a. was a Jewish scholar who held an esteemed position among his Jewish people prior to his conersion to Islam under the Prophet s.a.w. himself, almost immediately after he came to Madinah.​
    Mu’adh B. Jabal reported to have said, “Behold, the knowledge and the fith are with four people, Abu Al-Darda, Salman Al-Farsi, Abdullah Bin Mas’ud and Abdullah Bin Salam.”​
    (Al-Dhahabi, Muhammad Hussain, Al-Tafsir wal Mufassirun, vol. 1, pg. 186)
    Further more, several Quranic verses e.g. Surah Al-Ahqaf 46:10 nd Al-Ra’d 13:430 are reported to have been revealed in his honour.​
    (Sahih Bukhari, Kitab Manaqib Al-Ansar, hadith No. 3812 and Al-Tabari Jami’ Al-Bayan, Darul Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, vol. 7, pg. 409)
    2. Ka’b Al-Ahbar is Ka’b Bin Mati’ al-Himyari r.a.. He embraced Islam either in Abu Bakr’s r.a. or Umar’s r.a. caliphate. Prior to that he was a Jew from Yemen. He has reported from several major sahabah such as Suhaib Al-Rumi r.a. , Umar r.a., and Aishah r.a. Such sahabah as Mu’awiyya r.a., Abu Hurairah r.a. and Abdullan ibn Abbas have all reported from him. Imam Muslim, Imam Abi Daud, Imam Al-Tirmidhi and Imam Al-Nasai accept his reports as authentic.​
    3. Wahb Bin Munabbid r.a. was a Persian. His father, Munabbih accepted Islam during the Prophet’s s.a.w. life but did not get the chance to meet the Rasullullah s.a.w. Wahb Bin Munbbih is considered belonging to the most famous tabi’een scholars. Imam Bukhari, Imam Muslim, Imam Al-Nasai, Imam Al-Tiridhi and Imam Abi Daud have ll used him as a reliable source.​
    4. Ibn Juraij r.a. is Abdul Malik Bin Abdul Aziz Bin Juraij r.a. He comes from a Christian family and was a freed slave of the Umayyah tribe of the Quraisy. He was considered an authority on Judeo-Christian traditions in the period of the tabi’een.​
    (Al-Dhahabi, Muhammad Hussain, Al-Tafsir wal Mufassirun, pg. 198 )
    Imam Al-Tabari reports most of the traditions related to Quranic verses that deal with Christians on the authority of Ibn Juraij.​
    Conclusion:
    The reading and usage of Israeliyyat narrations whilst using the Qur’an as a yardstick or criterion goes back to the time of the Prophet s.a.w. It is not a later innovation by ordinary men. In fact, the study of different religions i.e. comparative religion or muqaranat al-adyan and conveying the truth with it is something which can be traced back to the likes of Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawzi. And there are numerous instances which I myself have wtinessed and experienced that using the Bible in da’wah activities can be very beneficial and many have actually come to Islam through such endevours by Allah’s grace. In any case, we should all try our best to invite all to the way of Islam as instructed in Surah Al-Nahl 16, vere 125.​
    ***It is worthwhile to note that there was no Bible(as a canon) available in the lands of Arabia during the time of the prophet Muhammad s.a.w that could have been directly accessed by Arabs. In fact, most Christians(especially the lay) themselves did not possess personal copies of the texts of the Bible. Reading material was quite scarce back then and most people were not even literate to begin with.​
     
  2. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    What about the Jewish groups Mohammed initially allied with? Wouldn't these people have had Old Testament texts with them?
     
  3. Out There

    Out There Servant of God

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    Thank you for the question Brian. Yes, according to our records the Jewish tribes did have access to their scriptures. For example, in the Sunan of Abu Dawud as narrated from Abdullah Ibn Umar r.a. the Torah was brought to the Prophet s.a.w.:
    A group of Jews came and invited the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) to Quff. So he visited them in their school.

    They said: AbulQasim, one of our men has committed fornication with a woman; so pronounce judgment upon them. They placed a cushion for the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) who sat on it and said: Bring the Torah. It was then brought. He then withdrew the cushion from beneath him and placed the Torah on it saying: I believed in thee and in Him Who revealed thee.

    He then said: Bring me one who is learned among you. Then a young man was brought. The transmitter then mentioned the rest of the tradition of stoning similar to the one transmitted by Malik from Nafi' (No. 4431).

    (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 38, Number 4434)

    It should be important however that the above hadith does not show endorsement of authenticity from the Prophet s.a.w. on the Torah. The section "I believed in you and in Him Who revealed you" should be understood in light of the context. It is the commandment of stoning that is affirmed by the Prophet s.a.w. as having been revealed from on high. And Allah knows best.
     
  4. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Thanks for the reply. :)

    I'm very confused now though - did you mention in the first post that there was no way Mohammed could have seen the Torah - but now you're saying it's recorded in the Hadith that he did??
     
  5. c0de

    c0de Vassal

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    By "bible" I think he meant the New Testament, not the Torah. But the same argument applies. I am sure the Arab Christians had at least one copy of the NT with them. Mr. Nurhadi's asserted that such copies would not be accessible to the Prophet. Even if they were, they wouldn't do him much good without a reciter/translator as the Prophet was illiterate.

    The pagans, Jews and Christians used to say that the Prophet was taught the stories of the bible by someone else, and he just re-hashed the stories into the Quran. They knew that he was illiterate himself and could not have read the OT/NT.

    This still does not explain why some historical details of biblical stories are different (and more accurate) in the Quran. For example in the story of Exodus the Bible states that Pharoah (who is traditionally accepted as Ramses II) is drowned with his perusing army. Yet in the Quran, he is saved.

    We know that Ramses II reigned for a long time, for 67 years, then died and was mummified. The detractors can say that the Prophet just changed some of the details, and he just got lucky. Even the prophecies made in the Quran (defeat of Persians by Romans, retaking Mecca, the spread of Islam etc.) can be explained away in such a fashion by those who say the Quran is nothing more than a fabrication...

    Yet, what they can never argue is the fact that it is the most authentic scripture available to man. Which is exactly the same today as it was the day its revelation was completed. It is in the same form today as its Prophet intended. The same can not be said of any other scripture (at least not by scholars of history).
     
  6. Out There

    Out There Servant of God

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    Thank you my friend. When I said Bible notice that I also mentioned the word canon. What I meant was that the Bible as a canon that would include both Old and New Testaments in a single volume did not exist in Arabia during the time of the Prophet s.a.w. Did the Arab Christians have a copy of the New Testament with them during the Prophet's time? The scholar Malik Ben Nabi informs us:
    "Moreover, if Judeo-Christian thought had really made inroads into Jahiliyyan society and culture, the absence of an Arabic translation of the Bible could not be explained. As for the New Testament, it is certain that no Arabic translation of it existed in the fourth century of Hijrah. This is evident from the reference by Ghazzali, who had to resort to a Coptic manuscript to write his Rad, a respectable refutation of the divinity of Jesus according to the Gospel. In translating the work of the Arab philosopher, Rev. Fr. Chidiac searched everywhere for Gospel sources which could have served at the time of the composition of Rad. He finally found a manuscript in the library of Leningrad written about 1060 by a certain Ibn al-Assal as the first edition of a Christian text in Arabic. Thus, there did not exist an Arabic edition of the Gospels at the time of Ghazzali, and, a fortiori, it did not exist during the Pre-Islamic period." (Malik Ben Nabi. The Qur'anic Phenomenon(1983). American Trust Publications. pp. 154)

    Sidney Griffith says,

    "
    The oldest known, dated manuscripts containing Arabic translations of the New Testament are in the collections of St. Catherine's monastery at Mt. Sinai. Sinai Arabic MS 151 contains an Arabic version of the Epistles of Paul, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Catholic Epistles. It is the oldest dated New Testament manuscripts. The colophon of this MS informs us that one Bisr Ibn as-Sirri made the translation from Syriac in Damascus during Ramadan of the Higrah year 253, i.e., 867 AD." (Sidney H Griffith. The Gospel In Arabic: An Enquiry Into Its Appearance In The First Abbasid Century, Vol. 69. Oriens Christianus. pp. 131-132 )

    Elsewhere on page 166 he says,
    "All one can say about the possibility of a pre-Islamic, Christian version of the Gospel in Arabic is that no sure sign of it's actual existence has yet emerged. Furthermore, even if some unambiguous evidence of it should turn up as a result of more recent investigations, it is clear that after the Islamic conquest of the territories of the oriental patriarchates, and once Arabic has become the official and de facto public language of the caliphate, the church faced a much different pastoral problem than was the case with the earlier missions among the pre-Islamic Arabs."

    The impetus that gave rise to translations of the Bible into Arabic was the successful conquests of the Arab Muslims hence transforming the language from its humble tribal usage to a lingua franca of a blossoming empire. This is noted by Ernst Wurthwein:
    "With the victory of Islam the use of Arabic spread widely, and for Jews and Christians in the conquered lands it became the language of daily life. This gave rise to the need of Arabic versions of the Bible, which need was met by a number of versions mainly independent and concerned primarily for interpretation." (Ernst Würthwein. The Text Of The Old Testament (1988). Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B Eerdmans Publishing Company. pp. 104 )

    You said that Pharoah was saved and later mummified according to the Qur'an. I'm afraid you are mistaken, my friend. The Qur'an says in Surah Yunus(10), verse 92:
    "This day shall We save you in your body, that you may be a Sign to those who come after you! But verily, many among mankind are heedless of Our Signs!"

    Mufti Shafi Uthmani explains what verse means in his Tafsir Ma'riful Qur'an:
    "Addressing Pharoah in the first verse (92), it was said that Allah will take his body out of the waters after he is drowned so that his body becomes a Sign of Divine power, and a lesson for people after him." (Mufti Shafi' Uthmani. Ma'riful Qur'an, Vol. 4. pp. 573-574)

    What is very interesting however, is that in the Qur'an pharoah is described as Lord of the Awtad(stakes) or dhul awtad. The following are the verses relating this:

    "Or have they the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all between? If so, let them mount up with the ropes and means (to reach that end)! But there - will be put to flight even a host of confederates. Before them (were many who) rejected messengers,- the people of Noah, and ‘Ad, and Pharaoh, the Lord of Stakes, and Thamud, and the people of Lut, and the Companions of the Wood; - such were the Confederates." (Qur'an 38:10-13)

    "Seest thou not how thy Lord dealt with the ‘Ad (people),- Of the (city of) Iram, with lofty pillars, the like of which were not produced in (all) the land? And with the Thamud (people), who cut out (huge) rocks in the valley? - And with Pharaoh, lord of stakes? (All) these transgressed beyond bounds in the lands, and heaped therein mischief (on mischief). Therefore did thy Lord pour on them a scourge of diverse chastisements." (Qur'an 89:6-13)

    This specific information regarding the Pharoah in Moses' time is only found in the Qur'an. What is its significance?
    Imam Al-Qurtubi in his commentary of the Qur'an 38:10-13 explains,

    ولم يقل ذكرها؛ لأنه لما كان المضمر فيه مذكراً ذكره؛ وإن كان اللفظ مقتضياً للتأنيث. ووصف فرعون بأنه ذو الأوتاد. وقد ٱختلف في تأويل ذلك؛ فقال ٱبن عباس: المعنى ذو البناء المحكم. وقال الضحاك: كان كثير البنيان، والبنيان يسمى أوتاداً. وعن ٱبن عباس أيضاً وقتادة وعطاء: أنه كانت له أوتاد وأرسان وملاعب يُلْعَب له عليها. وعن الضحاك أيضاً: ذو القوّة والبطش. وقال الكلبي ومقاتل: كان يعذِّب الناس بالأوتاد، وكان إذا غضب على أحد مدّه مستلقياً بين أربعة أوتاد في الأرض، ويرسل عليه العقارب والحيات حتى يموت. وقيل: كان يشبح المعذب بين أربع سوارٍ؛ كل طرف من أطرافه إلى سارية مضروب فيه وَتَد من حديد ويتركه حتى يموت. وقيل: ذو الأوتاد أي ذو الجنود الكثيرة فسميت الجنود أوتاداً؛ لأنهم يقوّون أمره كما يقوّي الوتد البيت. وقال ٱبن قتيبة: العرب تقول هم في عزّ ثابت الأوتاد، يريدون دائماً شديداً

    "... He described Pharaoh as (the lord) of the stakes. This statement received various interpretations. Ibn ʿAbbas said: It means the lord of the secure building. Al-Ḍaḥḥak said: He owned many buildings; buildings are called awtad. Also according to Ibn ʿAbbas as well as Qatadah and ʿAṭaʾ: He owned stakes and ropes and playgrounds where he was entertained. According to al-Ḍaḥḥak also (it means): the one who has strength and strong hand. Al-Kalbi and Muqatil said: He used to torture people with the stakes. When he got angry with someone, he would lay him down on the ground and fasten him to four stakes. Then he would release scorpions and snakes onto him until he died. It was also said: he would stretch the tortured between four pillars, each of his limbs would be nailed to that pillar with an iron stake and he would be left to die. It was also said: the lord of the stakes means the lord of many soldiers where the soldiers were called stakes because they uphold his command like the stakes uphold the house. Ibn Qutaybah said: The Arabs say, "their power has got stable stakes", meaning that it is strong and permanent."

    K.A. Kitchen informs us that Ramses II stands prominent over other Egyptian rulers because of his mighty buildings,
    "
    He desired to work not merely on the grand scale - witness the Ramesseum, Luxor, Abu Simbel, and the now vanished splendours of Pi-Ramesse - but on the widest possible front as the years passed.... But certainly in his building works for the gods the entire length of Egypt and Nubia, Ramesses II surpassed not only the Eighteenth Dynasty but every other period in Egyptian history. In that realm, he certainly fulfilled the dynasty's aim for satiety." (K. A. Kitchen. Pharaoh Triumphant: The Life And Times Of Ramesses II, King Of Egypt (1982). Aris & Phillips. pp. 225)

    The historian P. A. Clayton also says the same:
    "As a monument builder Ramesses II stands pre-eminent amongst the pharaohs of Egypt. Although Khufu had created the Great Pyramid, Ramesses' hand lay over the whole land. True, he thought nothing of adding his name to other kings' monuments and statues right back to the Middle Kingdom, so that nowadays the majority of cartouches seen on almost any monument proclaim his throne name - User-maat-re ('the justice of Re is strong'). Yet his genuine building achievements are on a Herculean scale. He added to the great temples at Karnak and Luxor, completed his father Seti's mortuary temple at Gourna (Thebes) and also his Abydos temple, and built his own temple nearby at Abydos. On the west bank at Thebes he constructed a giant mortuary temple, the Ramesseum. Inscriptions in the sandstone quarries at Gebel el-Silsila record at least 3000 workmen employed there cutting the stone for the Ramesseum alone. Other major mortuary temples rose in Nubia at Beit el-Wali, Gerf Hussein, Wadi es Sebua, Derr and even as far south as Napata.
    Ramesses' greatest building feat must be counted not one of these, but the carving out of the mountainside of the two temples at Abu Simbel in Nubia. The grandeur of the larger, the Great Temple, is overwhelming, fronted as it is by four colossal 60-ft (18-m) high seated figures of the king that flanked the entrance in two pairs. It is strange to reflect that whilst the smaller temple, dedicated to Hathor and Ramesses' favourite queen Nefertari, has lain open for centuries, the Great Temple was only discovered in 1813 by the Swiss explorer Jean Louis Burckhardt and first entered by Giovanni Belzoni on 1 August 1817. A miracle of ancient engineering, its orientation was so exact that the rising sun at the equinox on 22 February and 22 October flooded directly through the great entrance to illuminate three of the four gods carved seated in the sanctuary over 200 ft (60 m) inside the mountain (the fourth of the seated gods, Ptah, does not become illuminated as, appropriately, he is a god associated with the underworld)." (P. A. Clayton. Chronicle Of The Pharaohs: The Reign-By-Reign Record Of The Rulers And Dynasties Of Ancient Egypt (1994). London, United Kingdom: Thames and Hudson Ltd. pp. 153-15)

    The word Awtad is also used in the Qur'an when speaking about mountains,
    "Have We not made the earth as a wide expanse, and the mountains as pegs/stakes(awtad)?" (78:6-7)

    So the verse equates mountains as awtad. Let us reiterate what Clayton says, "Ramesses' greatest building feat must be counted not one of these, but the carving out of the mountainside of the two temples at Abu Simbel in Nubia." Allow me to remind the readers that Pharoah is described as the Lord of the awtad twice in the Qur'an! Is it mere coincidence that Ramses is noted for his mountainside construction and the Qur'an describing him as the Lord of the awtad(a term used for mountains in 78:6-7 in the Qur'an) and at the same time the occurence of Lord of the awtad in the Qur'an i.e. TWO times coincides perfectly with the fact that TWO temples were built by Ramses out of the mountainside? Isn't this astonishing? Alhamdulillah, the Qur'an stands as an i'jaz(miracle) for those who care to look carefully.

    And Allah knows best.

     
  7. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    i have long been of the opinion that the trouble with the term "judeo-christian" is that, almost always, it refers effectively to christian-viewpoints-with-jesus-as-option-and-the-old-testament-as-christians-understand-it, with very little to do with the jewish ways of interpreting our own texts, which are extremely different from christian methods and result in very different answers. i am not especially confident that muslim views of "israeliyyat" will not result in the same reductionist thinking.

    says he. of course, we would dispute this in no uncertain terms - it's assertion, for a start.

    rubbish. our own sciences of textual preservation are extremely sophisticated and my objections to this frankly bigoted point of view are put here:

    http://www.interfaith.org/forum/jewish-beliefs-not-corrupted-5265.html

    and in more detail here:

    http://www.interfaith.org/forum/rabbinic-interpretation-and-jewish-law-7708.html

    jews were.

    however, it seems pretty clear that the jewish law about how stoning is actually done in practice has not been understood, let alone implemented.

    in fact, there are many traditions that he did not drown, as the Torah is not actually explicit about this. furthermore, it is not "traditionally accepted" that rameses 2 was the exilic pharaoh, although that view is held by some. there is no definitive religious position on this and you shouldn't expect one, nor, frankly, is it particularly important, as you ought to know. the accuracy of historical details is hardly a yardstick of Divine Truth, c0de - and, in any case, all the assertions about how you can somehow "prove" that the Qur'an is Divine and other texts are corrupted are, as you well know, really reducible to appeals to the authority of the Qur'anic interpretative tradition itself - or, if you prefer, "because we say so". how about the argument about who was "bound" by abraham/ibrahim? we say it was isaac, you say it was ishmael - on what basis are we supposed to conclude, using the tools of history and rationality - that the Qur'an is somehow more trustworthy on this point?

    i just have.

    there are arguments available for this for the Torah, too, c0de. whether you are fully aware of them or not is a different matter.

    i'm afraid exactly the same can be said of the Torah. and as for "scholars of history", i don't remember them having the authority or credibility to decide what was or wasn't Divine Revelation, c0de - it is distinctly foolish for you to concede this to them, because the first thing they will exclude from their conclusions is any possibility that G!D could actually have Spoken to muhammad - or anyone else, for that matter.

    really? how about syriac translations, or greek translations? both of which were readily available as far as i am aware. haven't you ever heard of the pe****ta? do you not think it more likely that arabs spoke enough aramaic and syriac and greek to appreciate these texts? i think you need to learn a little bit about the history of the eastern churches, mate. why not ask our learned friend dogbrain, he knows a fair bit about it.

    in the words of the author of "bad science", dr ben goldacre, "i think you'll find it's a little bit more complicated than that".

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  8. c0de

    c0de Vassal

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    @ Bananabrain



    Psalm 135:15 makes it clear, like the Quran, that Pharoah was swept away with his army. AFAIK, the crucial detail that the OT omits and the Quran states, is that he was saved and/or his remains were recovered. I am no expert on the OT, but if you know anywhere this fact is mentioned in the OT, please state it.


    Yes, actually, it is "traditionally accepted". Ramesses II was considered to be the Pharaoh of the bible "At least as early as Eusebius of Caesarea" (source: Ramesses II at AllExperts) So traditional church history has always accepted him as the biblical figure. Not to mention the fact that Ramesses is mentioned by name in the bible in 5 times (Genesis 47:11; Exodus 1:11, 12:37 and Numbers 33:3,5). Also, here's some intell from wiki, with included footnote reference:

    "The Biblical Raamses is acknowledged to almost certainly be Ramesses II's vast capital city of Pi-Ramesses, located today at the sites of Tell el-Dab´aQantir respectively, whereas the Biblical Pithom or
    and Pi(r)-(A)tum, (literally domain or house of the god Atum) is possibly located at Tell er-Retaba—as Kenneth Kitchen argues—rather than Tell el-Maskhuta as some writers previously thought.[13] These two sites, at Qantir and Tell er-Retaba, are 15 to 17 miles (27 km) apart." Footnote #14: K.A. Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament, William B. Eerdmans Co., 2003. Avaris - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    This discusses the massive city expansion project that he built at Pi-Ramesses, which most certainly would have required massive labor i.e Slave labor.

    As for the recent scholarship, one of their main objections to this hypothesis is the clear fact that Ramesses II was not lost to the sea. But this objection is irrelevant to the Quranic account anyway as in the Quran (10:92) he, (or at least his remains) are saved.

    The second objection is the weakest one, which argues that there are no historical records of the plagues in Egypt during his reign. But even the scholars know this is a weak argument as why would Egyptians record a major defeat at the hands of their own slaves in their own records? So this objection is not a very serious one.

    The last one, however, is a complication, as the dating of where Moses is believed to be in Egypt does not correspond to Rameses II. But I would counter that by saying that since there was never any record of Moses being in Egypt in the first place, how can this be used as a firm argument?

    With all the other evidence in favor of Ramses II, I think it is safe to say that Ramses II is still the main candidate. In any case, he was always the "traditional" candidate (as far as church history is concerned) so my original statement is still sound.



    You have misunderstood what I am trying to argue. I am not providing a rational basis for the divine authority of the Quran, OT or NT. I even stated in my first post that all the evidence for such claims in the Quran (prophecies, historical accuracies) can be explained away by critics. The issue of the Quran's divine origin is totally a matter of faith.

    My argument was that the one thing that the Quran has over the OT/NT is no credible mainstream scholar has even argued that the Quran that we have today is not the same Quran in the time of the Prophet. There was a discussion on this issue a couple of months back. On your own thread no less: http://www.interfaith.org/forum/academic-method-and-the-quran-12117.html It is an undisputed fact that modern scholarship accepts the Quran's chain of transmission from the time of the Prophet onwards.

    The same can not be said of the OT or the NT. Entire bands of scholars since the 17th century have been questioning its authenticity (with people like Hobbes and Spinoza among them). Wikipedia has its own page on the issue: Biblical criticism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Entire books are available at amazon on the issue.


    I know there are "arguments" but that isn't the point here. The point is that the OT/NT takes a lot of flak for its authorship and transmission, while the Quran doesn't. This was made very clear in the thread that you started.
     
  9. c0de

    c0de Vassal

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    p.s.

    @ BB -

    its psalm 136, not 135, sorry




    Assalamwalikum brother Nurhadi.

    Sorry, I missed your post.

    Here is my reply:

    Yes, it is a possibility that he was drowned, and only his remains were saved. But this still is a detail that is not present in the OT, as far as I know at least.
     
  10. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    actually, it isn't at all clear from that verse, which says We-Ni'ER, which has the connotation of "shaking up", or "smacking around", hence the general tendency to translate it as "smite" - i'm sure bob_x will correct me if i've looked it up wrong.

    the Torah is rarely that explicit, as its language is extraordinarily terse. it is more about the way it says things and then the interpretations are based on the precise framing of events. so, for example, as it is not entirely clear what happened to pharaoh himself (as opposed to the army), a dispute arises in the midrashic sources. i believe that there are a number of different viable positions:

    1. he drowned.
    2. only his horse drowned.
    3. he survived and, moreover, made his way to assyria, where he became the repentant king of nineveh mentioned in the book of jonah.

    relevant midrashic sources are the mechilta (beshalakh 2:6) and the yalkut shim'oni (exodus 176). now, we rarely conclude anything based on the written Torah itself, so all the Qur'an appears to be doing is resolving the question for its own partisans, which i have no problem with, but i do have an issue if this is then reverse-engineered to claim that only this position is correct, because that is far from being the jewish position. as an aggadic matter, rather than a halakhic one, multiple interpretations are permissible.

    when i say "traditionally accepted", i mean by people who are jewish religious authorities, what historians or christian sources say may be interesting, even persuasive, but that is not what "traditionally accepted" means to us. "traditionally accepted" means we have a conclusive authoritative opinion that constitutes the majority consensus of scholars that there is no good reason to deviate from, which, in this matter, does not exist.

    genesis 47:11 refers to the "land" of rameses, ie a region. exodus 1:11 explicitly refers to a city that we built, 12:37 refers to the region again, as does numbers 33:3-5. the discipline of interpreting the Torah is far more stringent in its criteria than you seem to realise - your argument is like saying that because someone moved from the city of victoria in canada to the state of victoria in australia, they must have done so during the reign of queen victoria. it's really not as conclusive as you seem to think - what might stand up as a historical hypothesis or a piece of christian textual interpretation simply won't meet the same standards we require before something becomes indisputable.

    well, that's one of the reasons i don't place much importance in history as a support for the events of the Torah, because it is not a historical document in the way that the Qur'an can be. the rest of Na"Kh (the other two parts of the "OT", or the hebrew bible, are far more amenable to historical method and the sort of interpretation you are putting on, but not Torah.

    oh, then you're right, i had misunderstood you. i dislike such bases.

    well, perhaps that's because only 1300 years have passed. it took another 300 before anyone felt safe enough to do the same for the so-called OT and, of course, the reason for this was that they wanted to debunk it in order to emphasis the message of the NT.

    as i have said before i am not concerned with the NT, or especially the OT, only the Torah, which is the only text that is considered 100% Revealed.

    yes, i know. these people are not jewish religious authorities. when jewish religious authorities did this, we got the "haskalah" and the reform movement, to which i have not belonged for some fifteen years. as you ought to know, c0de, i know all about biblical criticism and any traditional jew has pretty major objections to most of its assumptions and most of its conclusions. these include the assumptions that G!D does not exist, Divine Revelation is therefore impossible and that any reference to anything supernatural, is simply wishful thinking, propaganda or lies. if you think that the Qur'an is not equally questionable on these grounds then you are not thinking straight - more so, in fact, as the tools of history are more likely to raise questions as the foundation of islam is a more recent event. certainly i cannot believe there are no scholars of islamic history and religion that do not bring these critical assumptions to the table, even if they are not mounting a worldwide attack on your sacred texts.

    look, c0de, you will not get a single academic or historian who is prepared to concede that the authorship of the Qur'an is indubitably the result of the angel gabriel taking dication from G!D, any more than they are prepared to concede the possibility of mosaic authorship of the Torah - i think you're defending a house of cards, academically speaking, even if you see this is a matter of faith.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  11. c0de

    c0de Vassal

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    @ BB


    On the academic method thread, I used secular scholarship to defend the Quran's transmission. So yes, the Quran is not equally questionable on the same grounds as the OT. Muslims simply do not need to employ faith in this situation, whereas the Jews and Christians do. This is a strength of the Quran, and a weakness of the bible.

    Also, another major problem at this point which the Jews/Christians face is that we are not discussing issues which are beyond empirical criticism. We are not, for example, discussing the existence of God, which is a question which can not be answered with empirical critique. We are discussing an issue which rational inquiry can actually tackle i.e. is the transmission of the text sound or not?

    Believers have to defend their views at every point these days. Such distinctions become very important, very quickly.

    That is not what the debate on the "academic method" thread was about. I argued that mainstream scholarship agrees that the transmission of the text of the Quran was exactly the same today, as it was in the time of the Prophet. Which is a claim that can not be matched by the OT (Moses PBUH) or the NT (Jesus PBUH or even his diciples).

    Not really, because the same scholars which critique the OT/NT would love to critique the Quran on the same grounds, if they could. To them, It doesn't matter how long ago the Quran was revealed.

    That is exactly what I was saying to begin with. So why did you even start arguing with me? You just forced me to post all this information which is much more harmful to your scripture than if you had just stated this at the outset.


    The following is just from wiki:

    "Modern biblical criticism begins with the 17th century philosophers and theologians - Thomas Hobbes, Benedict Spinoza, Richard Simon and others - who began to ask questions about the origin of the biblical text, especially the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). They asked specifically who had written these books: according to tradition their author was Moses, but these critics found contradictions and inconsistencies in the text that, they claimed, made Mosaic authorship improbable."


    BB, you are now guilty of using the exact same argument that brother Abdullah was using to support his own sectarian views. And remember how you annoyed you were with him? Just because your own scholars agree, doesn't mean much.

    I am already aware that the word itself has multiple meanings, but that doesn't matter here. Because the verse states that whatever happened to Pharoah's army also happened to him. Therefore, all the conclusions that you draw that go against this (e.g. that he survived) have to be qualified. The Quran provides room for these qualifications. Where does the Torah?

    The Bible:

    "but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea".

    The Quran:

    "This day shall We save you in your body, that you may be a Sign to those
    who come after you
    !
    But verily, many among mankind are heedless of Our
    Signs"

    Is this not a detail that is omitted in the OT?
    I am actually asking non-rhetorically here,
    as I do not know the OT as well as you.


    Yes, and that city (Pi-Ramesses) is accepted by archeologists to have been the one build by Rameses II. Massive work was done at this site which would have required massive labor. The bible singles this out (by name) as the site where the Jewish people were enslaved. The evidence is more or less conclusive.
     
  12. koranist

    koranist Interfaith Forums

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    Actually Patricia Crone, on eof the Quran's biggest skeptics who believed the Quran was formulated by the Ummayids, recently admitted that no human being to date has been able to establish how Muhammad could have had the information to write the Quran and yet she now believes the Quran is what Muhamed left behind.

    So it seems the tide is turning and the Quran is now firmly established. She still does not believe hadiths are Muhammedan.
     
  13. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    She seems to suggest - along with other non-Muslim scholars - that Islam was rooted not in creating a new religion, but about returning moral order among followers through development of a derivative combination of Judaism and local moon cults.

    I don't see any claim online by her that she was trying to claim Mohammed could not have had access to Jewish lore, and therefore everything in the Qur'an is unique and spontaneous.
     
  14. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    by the same token, however, we do not need to employ faith in the situation as far as the transmission of the rest of the bible and the oral Torah - but i fail to see how this is an advantage of the Qur'an over other texts. surely the test of the Qur'an's value is not how well it has been transmitted, but the value of what has been transmitted - as for the source of its transmission, this is equally debatable.

    actually, as i have said several times, there are perfectly good rational objections available to address the question of why textual transmission issues need not concern the traditional believer as detailed here:

    http://www.interfaith.org/forum/tilting-at-windmills-redux-8966.html#post147128

    and, with relevant (if simplistic) examples, here:

    http://www.interfaith.org/forum/observations-on-the-creation-stories-9195.html#post153722

    from my point of view, it is at best irrelevant and at worst a distraction from the far more important issue, which is learning what the Torah has to teach us.

    but i'm arguing that a) that isn't particularly relevant and that b) even if it was, it doesn't somehow prove that the Qur'an is a *superior* document or that islam is a *superior* religion. furthermore, it does not address the objection that muhammad simply didn't understand the sources in Torah that the Qur'an references, or, if you prefer, that it was taught to him in a rather inadequate fashion, presumably by the rather inadequately educated local jewish tribesmen.

    i'm sorry, but i really have difficulty believing that a load of people have tried everything there is to try and failed. how mature is this as a field of study?

    no, you're turning this around. abdullah thought that what *his* traditional scholars said about *our* text was more correct than what *our* traditional scholars say about it - despite the fact that *our* traditional scholars are demonstrably far more knowledgeable and experienced about this text. he was applying the competence of his traditional scholars outside their magisterium, to mine, where it simply doesn't stretch. furthermore, i am not applying the competence of *our* traditional scholars to your text, because we've never been interested in that sort of thing. we don't have an opinion on the veracity or transmission or relevance of the Qur'an to the Torah, because it simply isn't necessary for us to have an opinion on it any more than it is necessary for us to have an opinion on the veracity or transmission or relevance of the "NT". judaism was an integrated, complete system before christianity and islam existed - we do not need to be understood in your terms. you are the ones who appear to need to understand us in yours and the burden of demonstrating what this has to do with us is upon you just as much as it is upon secular academic scholars.

    *BUZZ*!!! Torah hermeneutics rule #1 - the multiple meanings and precision of language always, ALWAYS, matters. if you haven't understood that, you haven't understood anything about Torah.

    you're 100% mistaken about this - what may look like precision to you (even in the original) appears extremely differently to a traditional interpreter. you don't seem to appreciate just how granular the analysis can actually get. so, yes, the detail is missing - and it is exactly that which provides the room for qualifications, but the qualifications must ALWAYS be grounded in the language of the Torah itself.

    yes, but even if the archaeology supports what the Torah says, that still doesn't mean we can accept it as authoritative on religious grounds. i'm sorry, but that's just how it is.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  15. c0de

    c0de Vassal

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    How is it "equally debatable"? It seems to me you are just hell-bent on ignoring the fact that the transmission of the Quran is sound and this is beyond debate (unlike with the OT/NT). And since the Quran's transmission is beyond reproach, it is therefore, by default, superior to the OT/NT in this area.

    From a secular point of view such a question is irrelevant. All traditions/disciplines believe their scriptures/textbooks are the best ever. However, they will choose to critique areas like transmission. And this is an area where the Quran is unequaled.


    Not a very convincing case at all, is it?


    In my discussion with sectarian Muslims, they use their own scholars to justify their own positions. Which is exactly what you are doing. You are ignoring the critiques of outsiders who question the transmission of the OT and say that their views are "not needed" or "irrelevant".

    I noticed you avoided answering the question:

    Therefore, all the conclusions that you draw that go against this (e.g. that he survived) have to be qualified. The Quran provides room for these qualifications. Where does the Torah?

    Please give me the exact verse in the OT where it is stated that Pharoah was an exception with regards to what happened to the Egyptians on the day of the flight of Israel from Egypt.


    Actually, it directly addresses that objection. How could the Prophet have been taught things which are not even in the OT? I asked you to provide me with a single verse from the OT which says that the Pharoah was saved, you have not provided me one yet.

    So until your scholars agree, you won't listen?

    Way to have a discussion BB :rolleyes:
     
  16. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    well, do we have examples of either moses or muhammad's handwriting? do we have a way to determine how, comparatively, they were channeling the Divine Word? that is what i mean by the "source of transmission", ie the person who wrote it down in the first place.

    i'm not hell-bent on ignoring it. i'm just saying that it [the transmission] isn't as important as you seem to think it is. as i have already pointed out, we acknowledge the transmission issues in the Na"Kh (ie the non-Torah bits of the TaNa"Kh, from judges through to II chronicles and don't consider them problematic - and those relating to the Torah are not of concern if you understand how the Torah functions and how to address the issues they raise, which is not beyond the wit of even this poorly-educated man.

    but what is the point of this superiority? that it makes the Qur'an a superior document somehow? i mean, the code of hammurabi has been transmitted in its entirety by virtue of us having found an old copy, so its transmission is therefore "superior" to the Qur'an's, but it doesn't make the code of hammurabi a "superior" document to the Qur'an.

    we do not bother with critiquing transmission in the Written Torah itself, because it is far more important to interpret it correctly. and you cannot accuse us of being incapable of critiquing transmission as a skill, because a large proportion of the Oral Torah is concerned with critiquing the transmission - not of the *text*, but of the *interpretations.* we do not believe that critiquing the transmission of the text is a source of wisdom.

    not if you are a member of a religion that insists it is superior to all other religions and relies for its claims of superiority on spurious debunking, sorry "confirmation", or is it "fulfilment", of previous religions from which it claims derivation. i notice you aren't saying very much about the baha'i, or the ahmadiyyah in this respect, or is what is sauce for the goose not sauce for the gander? didn't baha'ullah and mirza ghulam ahmad both come to "confirm" and "fulfil" the Qur'an amongst other texts?

    i am saying that in matters requiring the knowledge and interpretation of jewish texts, the tools and techniques and experience of jewish scholarship are the best available. unless you are familiar with them, you are not in a position to say otherwise, as your continuing objections to the did-pharaoh-drown question confirm. my issue with sectarian muslims is that they use their own scholars and their own texts to justify their so-called right to critique texts that are *not* their own and outside their area of competence. thus we have people talking stupid ignorant nonsense about what is in the talmud, how it is interpreted and what its purpose is, without actually understanding how it is used. it's like a car mechanic telling an aerospace engineer that he should use a car jack to change the tyre on an aeroplane, or like a dentist trying to use his skillset to do open-heart surgery. there may be a certain amount of cross-over and, indeed, the dentist may be better at certain techniques than the cardiac surgeon, but i know whose knowledge, techniques and experience i'd trust more if i had to have heart surgery.

    i didn't avoid the question - i answered it in some detail. the answer is that the Torah did not explicitly say, in the actual original text, specifically that "pharaoh died by drowning in the red sea", therefore what actually *did* happen is a matter of interpretation, which must hence be determined by close textual analysis of the laconic and terse language used.

    in many cases, Qur'anic references can be traced to specific midrashic sources which must have been available to the jewish tribesmen at the time. so, for example, if one of the guys who taught muhammad happened to know the interpretation in a particular volume of mechilta, sifra, tosefta, or tanchuma, or any of the voluminous literature in this field, that's what they might have told him and that is how it might have turned up in the Qur'an. so in the case of did-pharaoh-drown-or-what, the Qur'an took the position it did because muhammad had been told the story by someone who knew the mechilta interpretation, but either didn't know or discounted the yalkut shimoni interpretation. actually, it would be fascinating to analyse the midrashic sources found in the Qur'an to work out precisely what texts or stories were available to the jewish tribes of arabia at that time, i wonder if anyone's looked at that? the point here is that you have to understand how midrashic interpretation works - just because something is mentioned in a midrashic interpretation doesn't mean That's How It Was, it means in many cases that it's a possibility, which may or may not be persuasive, conclusive or even just plain unlikely, like the one about the amalekites being killed by the tops of the mountains coming into the caves and squishing them. this was precisely the issue that the dominican prosecutors ran into at the disputation of barcelona with nahmanides - they just didn't understand his take on midrash.

    no, that's not what i'm saying. it may be *interesting*, even remarkably *helpful*, but it doesn't constitute religious *authority* on which one can rely for interpretation. there is a *big* difference.

    i am somewhat disturbed at how this has turned into an apparent attempt to convince me of the superiority of the Qur'an to the Torah. i was not aware you were of the dawah persuasion.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  17. c0de

    c0de Vassal

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    The Prophet was illiterate. The Quran was written down via his scribes who were alive during its codification. All of this has been discussed in the Academic Method thread (did you read any of it?)

    So he just happened to pick the interpretation that ended up being verified by archeology a millennia later? :rolleyes: WoW... almost seems like he was some kind of... PROPHET !!! :eek:

    Me? Are you kidding me? Do you realize that this was the most effective weapon of secularism against all of Judeo-Christian theology? Textual criticism is probably the most fundamental of criticisms Jews and Christians have to face. I have seen entire documentaries on this.

    LoLz

    Dude, before you start claiming that I am mounting unnecessary offensives against your religion, I would remind you that I was responding to the implication that the Prophet wrote the Quran by plagiarizing the bible. (Something I know you already believe).

    Yea but that only works for those who have already made the "leap of faith". I am speaking from a secularist point of view because it is THEIR criticism.

    Tell that to Spinoza and Hobbes...

    ... ???

    I don't even know what this means...


    Wrong. In matters relating to textual criticism, there are experts in proper fields who handle the matter empirically.

    This is an attempt to shut up debate.

    All it confirmed was that you still haven't provided me with the verse I asked for.

    I am not one of those sectarian muslims.

    I am not interpreting your texts for you. I asked you straightforward questions.

    But this answer avoids my objection: the qualification that Pharoah was an exception to what happened to his army is not justified by the OT. You can use whatever "traditions" you have to explain whatever is already in the scripture itself, but there is nothing in the revealed words of Moses (pbuh) which states that Pharoah was an exception. (But it is there in the Quran.)

    How do you know?


    How do you know he was taught by a jew? Were you there?


    Yes, that would be interesting.

    lolz

    so says the man who is implying my scripture was plagiarized from his.
     
  18. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    and do we have these versions? how do we know about them? more to the point, in line with your imprecation, i've just reread the academic method thread (of course i read it the first time!) and was struck by the criticality of the role of uthman. would i be wrong in thinking that we have no Qur'anic text that predates his centralisation of the text? if we don't, then i must point out brian's point on the subject:
    is that what you're saying here?

    but wasn't this find in yemen precisely the sort of document we're talking about? well, it took hundreds of years for biblical criticism to get from spinozan theological questioning to its current state of "aaargh, it's a bit complicated and there is no dominant view that isn't questioned by someone else" (which i heard most recently from a senior oxford bib-crit professor) so i'm not going to rush to judgement on this, but neither am i going to dismiss the possibility out of hand, particularly if to point out such a thing about the Qur'an would nowadays be a career-limiting (if not life-expectancy-limiting) kind of move in many places. i thought muslimwoman's objections were pretty good, incidentally. but, as i say, this isn't especially something that concerns me, as i am not interested in attacking the Qur'an.

    perhaps to people who aren't prepared to actually engage with the issues it raises. i grew up with the assumptions of the documentary hypothesis, but it was not until i really started to look into them that they stopped stacking up for me. it is the tragedy of much of religious judaism that many of us adopt the "la la la, i'm not listening" approach. i don't think it's much of a weapon, to be honest, until you start trying to "prove" that the Torah is definitely Divine, then you quickly come unstuck. i have no such need to prove this, i am sufficiently satisfied of this by my private experience, but i wouldn't dream of trying to convey this to someone else with the intent to make them change their opinion, as this cannot be done. either it finds you, or it does not.

    and i have read a fair bit of literature over the last twenty years on it. i've seen little to disturb me.

    really? i thought *i* was responding to the assertion that "the Torah is corrupt". i wasn't aware i'd made such an implication.

    no, you're getting me wrong. i don't have an opinion on the relationship of the Qur'an with the Divine, because i believe any position on this could only truly be experienced privately and therefore not conveyed to others, despite what the likes of abdullah and aidyl nurhadi might think and despite all the massive cut-and-paste jobs we get here about the Qur'an having science in it and so on from the harun yahya crowd. i'm only saying that there are other possibilities which, if you took a strictly atheistic academic standpoint, could account for the same set of circumstances, so therefore, it's not indisputable.

    i don't agree - i know many who have not made the "leap of faith" and many who aren't even jewish who would consider the science (or art if you like) of jewish hermeneutics to be quite an impressive discipline indeed. i'm reminded somewhat of something i read this morning in the [non-religious academic expert professor] moshe idel book on kabbalah, "new perspectives", that he believes that academic study of religious texts fails to appreciate what anthropologists have long since understood, that sometimes religious scholarship may actually provide the best set of tools. i'm not saying that secularist tools don't have their uses, nor that they don't work, but that they're limited.

    spinoza and hobbes, i'm not aware that either of you really understood how jewish texts are interpreted. i'm also not aware of how either of you are regarded as great authorities on what the Torah actually means.

    really? these are an islamic sect and a post-islamic "daughter religion" that claim the Qur'an as sacred texts, but provide further sacred texts and revelations that "confirm and fulfil" the Qur'an - yet, strangely enough, mainstream muslims haven't found them "necessary" or compelling enough to make them become ahmadi or baha'i. if i am apparently obliged to consider the claims of christianity and islam to fulfilling and confirming my religion, as if i needed such a thing, then shouldn't you feel obliged to do the same with them?

    oh, come on, c0de, you can't possibly maintain that in the field of textual criticism there is anything but a plethora of methodologies and ideologies. are you saying that the likes of foucault and derrida (for example) are not "expert textual critics"? i'm not aware that they handle *anything* empirically. textual criticism is like the wild west, academically speaking.

    no, it's not. it is the equivalent of someone who has done an undergrad biology degree telling someone who has done an undergrad chemistry degree that the methodologies of undergrad chemistry are not adequate to assess the effectiveness of a medical procedure. in other words, whilst i am not claiming to be a big expert, i do know enough about it to know that you're talking bollocks. you're welcome to carry on talking about it, but it is of limited use unless you're interested in actually looking at how this stuff works in practice.

    because, as i've already said, it is the *precision with which ambiguity is created* that provides the freedom for interpretative variation.

    and i have answered them as far as i am able. you don't seem to understand the answers so far.

    but that is my point - when the Torah doesn't tell you something explicitly (and our standard for "explicitly" is *extremely* stringent) it thereby intentionally creates an ambiguity, this ambiguity being designed to teach something. that is an axiom of jewish hermeneutics. it is the same when the Torah appears to contradict itself. the axiom there is that it is not contradictory, because the difference is designed to highlight a difference in *cases*, which must then be identified by carefully structured interpretative argument.

    ... that Qur'anic references can be traced to specific midrashic sources which must have been available to the jewish tribesmen at the time? well, i don't, i'm just hypothesising, following the train of thought, but if you have a particular midrashic interpretation of a biblical story that then pops up in the Qur'an, it is reasonable to hypothesise that that interpretation must have been available to whoever wrote the Qur'an and (if one discounts Divine Revelation as an axiom in this case) the most likely candidate would be midrashic texts available to local jews, wouldn't it? this is the sort of thing i would expect an academic to say if you asked them the same question. although i might find it of academic interest, it is not something i would expect to have inter-religious dialogue about, for the precise reason that you are getting all snarky with me now! you don't mind casting aspersions on the provenance of my scripture, but you're not all that keen when anyone returns the compliment. that is why i feel such discussions are ultimately fruitless, because i am not here to debunk your scriptures or your religion, but i will defend my own if they are unfairly maligned by the likes of abdullah.

    i am aware that muslims do seem to like to congratulate themselves on this, but having one midrashic interpretation confirmed by archaeology is hardly a great doctrinal victory, if such a thing is supposed to be important.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  19. Out There

    Out There Servant of God

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    The verse in Hebrew is as follows:
    ונער פרעה וחילו בים־סוף כי לעולם חסדו
    "venier paro vekheilo veyam-suf ki leolam khasdo"
    The word in question is venier(ונער) which means overthrew or tumble out as Strong's lexicon has it. I am not familiar with any Hebrew lexicon that defines the word as "smacking around" as you say. The word comes from the root na'ar and correlates with Exodus 14:27 where the word is also used and according to Rashi clearly talks about the drowning of the Egyptians. The Tehilim verse clearly shows that it was not just his army that got swept by the sea, but Pharoah as well. The Jewish Bible in English says, "But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea, for His mercy endureth for ever."
     
  20. Out There

    Out There Servant of God

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    Has the Qur'an been preserved? The following is my article in answer to the question.
    Is the Qur’an truly preserved as the Muslims claim?
    by Ibn Anwar
    It is We Who have sent down the Reminder (Qur’an) and We Who will preserve it. (al-Qur’an 15:9)
    “Allah sent down(revealed) the Reminder(Qur’an) to the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. and preserved it thoroughly. Since its first revelation until now not one letter or word has disappeared or suffered alteration.” [1]
    The above sums up the general attitude of Muslims towards the Qur’an. Billions have had the belief strongly embedded in their hearts and minds that the Qur’an since the time of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. have stood against the test of time and remain perfectly preserved in its pristine beauty, eloquence and grandeur. Is this attitutde a mere hallucination of the Muslims or is it grounded in sound understanding and evidence? There are those from outside the Muslim camp who maintain that our belief is nothing but a figment of our imagination (or something to that effect). Basically, they would argue that the Qur’an hasn’t been properly preserved and have been tampered with as a result of which there are “variants” in the Qur’anic material or manuscript evidence. This article aims at answering that line of argument and perhaps help reaffirm the Muslim position. In truth the impetus for this article is a short piece that I read several hours ago. A good brother by the name Army of Jesus is Islam directed me to the article and requested that I produce refutations. I thank the brother for bringing the article to my attention and I will try to fulfill his request in due course.




    Historical Development in the preservation of the Qur’an
    The discipline that is involved with the systematic study of the Qur’an in areas like tafsir, al-nasakh wa mansukh, asbab al-nuzul etc. is called ‘Ulum al-Qur’an or Sciences of the Qur’an. Though the sub-disciplines of Sciences of the Qur’an are many and developed throughout early Muslim history they may all be traced back to the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. himself. Whenever the ashab or companions encountered difficulties in precepts of the religion they would refer back to the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. for answers. Thus the prophet Muhammad s.a.w. was a living embodiment of all the different branches of the Sciences of the Qur’an, nay he was the source for guidance and illumination. After the Prophet’s s.a.w. demise however, specifics in the Sciences of the Qur’an began to emerge in tandem with the growth of the Muslim power, influence and communities. The immediate companions of the Prophet s.a.w. themselves directly contributed their efforts to branches like tafsir, asbab al-nuzul, al-nasakh and gharib al-Qur’an many of whom were very prominent such as Abu Bakr, Umar al-Khattab, Uthman bin Affan, Ali bin Abi Talib, Abdullah bin Abbas, Zaid bin Thabit, Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari, Abdullh bin Mas’ud, Zayd bin Thabit and Abdullah bin Zubayr r.a.
    The early khulafa’ or caliphs themselves actively exerted efforts to preserve the Qur’an culminating with the compilation of the Qur’an into a single dialect(the Quraish dialect)which was then made into several copies and were sent to different regions of the empire which founded the basis for Rasm al-Qur’an undertaken by the committe headed by the companion Zayd bin Thabit and assisted by Abdullah bin Zubayr and others under the auspices of the third caliph Uthman bin Affan as Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani informs in Fath al-Bari,
    “As per Abu Hatam Sajastani seven copies of the Qur’an Shareef were prepared after copying from that which was compiled during Abu Bakr Siddiq’s time, and which was kept with Hadhrat Hafsa. These copies were sent one each to Makkah, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Basrah and Kufah. One was kept in Medinah.”
    Ali bin Abi Talib who succeeded Uthman was not in the shadows during his caliphate. Besides actively participating in the preservation of the Qur’an prior to his succession to the seat of caliphate he too contributed to the Qur’an in that he was the first to lay the basis for al-nahw or syntax after realising that the non-Arabs found the language difficult. For this enterprise during his tenure as caliph he commissioned an expert, Abu al-Aswad al-Dawli.[2]
    Ulum al-Qur’an did not end with the age of the companions, but was rather transmitted to the following generation. This generation known as the period of the tabi’een became the direct inheritors to a tradition of knowledge traced back to the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. via the companions. This was a time when writing was already an accepted norm and became utilised seriously hand in hand with rote memorisation. Numerous writings on the Sciences of the Qur’an were written at this age among which include Kitab al-A’dad by al-Hasan al-Basri, A’shar al-Qur’an by Qatadah bin Di’amah, Taqsim al-Qur’an by Muhammad bin al-Sayeb al-Kalbi. There were even specialised works on the reading of the Qur’an such as al-Maqtu’ wal Mausul by Abdullah bin Amir and on the revelation or tanzil such as Tanzil al-Qur’an by Muhammad bin al-Shahab al-Shukri.
    Did it end in the time of the tabi’een? No, it most certainly did not. It continued on into the third generation known as the period of the tabi’ tabi’een, then into the khalaf and so on which was from the second half of the second century AH onwards. The students of knowledge and the Qur’an during this era saw the need for even more detailed scholarly discourse on the Sciences of the Qur’an which led them to expand the scope of study deeper and more detailed. From a bird’s eye view it would have seemed that their craving for knowledge was insatiable. This was the period dubbed as the golden era of Islam and the works that emerged therein can be categorised thus,
    a) Treatises on specific topics
    b) Books covering the various branches of Ulum al-Qur’an and treated in a comprehensive manner.
    Among the early treatises include Asbab al-Nuzul by Abul Hasan Ali Bin Muhammad al-Madani and Ma Nazala min al-Qur’an fi amir al-Mu’mineen Ali by Ibrahim bin Muhammad. These treatises dealt with the reason for revelation or asbab al-nuzul and were both written in the second century AH. Later other works like Asbab al-Nuzul by Ali bin Ahmad al-Wahidi, Yatimat al-Durar fil Nuzul Ayat wal suwar by Muhammad bin Ahmad al Musali, Lubab al-Nuqul fi Asbab al-Nuzul by Jalaluddin al-Suyuti and many others became available for academia. On the i’jaz or inimitability of the Qur’an writings like Nazm al-Qur’an by Abu ‘Uthman Amr bin Bahr, Nazm al-Durar fi Tanasub al-Ayat wal suwar by Burhanuddin al-Baqa’i and others came to the fold. A copious amount of material were also dedicated to the subject of spelling of the kalimat or words in the Qur’an such as I’rab al-Qur’an by Abu Ubaydah Ma’mar bin al-Muthana, Mukhtasar i’rab al-Qur’an by al-Zujaj, I’rab al-Qur’an by al-Mubarrad, I’rab al-Qur’an by Ali bin Talhah bin Karwan, Riyadah al-Sinah fi i’rab al-Qur’an wa ma’anih by Abu Bakr al-Ansari ibn Ashtah, Imla Ma Manna bihi al-Rahman min Wujuh al-I’rab wal Qira’at fi jami’ al-Qur’an by Abu al-Baqa al-Akbari and many more. On the reading of the Qur’an writings such as Infradat al-Qurra by Ibn Shanbuz, Mukhtasar Shawaz al-Qur’an by Ibn Khalwaih and Shawaz al-Qirarat by Abu Tahir al-Bazzar became available. General and comprehensive works were also many among them include Fada’il al-Qur’an by Abu Ubayd, Funun al-Afnan fi Uyun al-Qur’an by Abd al-Rahman bin Ali Ibn al-Jawzi, Al-Murshad al-Wajiz ila Ulum tata ‘allaqu bil Kitab al-Aziz by Abu Shama Al-Maqdisi, Al-Burhan fi Ulum al-Qur’an by Ali bin Ibrahim bin Sa’id al-Hufi and many more.
    As you can see the history of Islam is filled with luminous scholars who were voracious readers and intellectuals who shaped the great wealth of knowledge that we find in the Qur’anic sciences. In fact, that thirst for knowledge in the Qur’anic sciences has never been quenched! The effort or Jihad if you may stubbornly persists to this day with works like Manahil al-Irfan fi Ulum al-Qur’an by Muhammad Abdul Azim al-Zarqani, Ma’riful Qur’an by Mufti Shafi’ Uthmani, ‘Ulum al-Qur’an by Ahmad Adil Kamal, Sciences of the Qur’an by Mufti Taqi Uthmani and the list just goes on.
    Those works are significant and important to our discussion in that they vividly show that the Qur’an was never ever left untouched. It has been studied, scrutinised and studied again and scrutinised again and again and again. There was not a single year throughout the 1400 long Hijri calender that the Qur’an was left unchecked or untaught. In history we call it “multiple attestation”. That means the Qur’an was looked at, studied and written by independent persons from different geographical locations and together they form the ocean-like depth of knowledge in the Sciences of the Qur’an that directly tapped into and depended on the primary source material(the Qur’an) and discussed each verse and each chapter to the letter. The books of the Sciences of the Qur’an are simply innumerable. This in itself is strong proof for the Qur’an’s reliability in terms of continuous and multiple transmission(mutawatir) throughout the ages.
    A critic may say, “All right, that’s all fine. Can you now show me some primary sources for the Qur’an e.g. manuscript? Are there any?”
    Yes, in fact there are a lot of manuscript evidence for the Qur’an. Arguably, the best of which is the one stored and exhibited at Topkapi Museum, Istanbul. It is dated between the late first century to the early second century. What is amazing about this manuscript evidence is that it uses vowel marks that follows the method of Abu al-Aswad al-Du’ali the expert commissioned by the caliph Ali himself as mentioned earlier. The manuscript contain exactly 408 folios covering all the verses of the Qur’an with an exception of a few because of the missing of two folios. The missing verses include verses 3 to 8 from Surah al-Ma’idah, verses 17-33 from Surah al-Isra’ and that’s it. Other manuscripts are found at Tashkent, Uzbekistan from the second century, however the dates generated by the radiometric method does not exclude the possibility of it being a manuscript from the Caliph Uthman’s time. We also have the manuscript of which its major portion is found at St. Petesburg(E 20) and others scattered in Katta Langar, Tashkent and Bukhara. Then there’s the San’a manuscripts found in San’a, Yemen. And there are many more(a lot more!) from different parts of the world some owned and exhibited at museums while others are owned by private collectors.
    At this point in time it is necessary to mention that the mode of preservation of the Qur’an was and is not restricted to writing, but rather included hifz or memorisation. In fact, this was the primary method in which the Qur’an was preserved. Previous to writing the Qur’an(which was permitted later by the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. in the early period of his prophethood) the Muslims with the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. memorised the Qur’an word by word. Even when the Qur’an were disseminated in written form the tradition of memorisation continued unimpeded. This means that even if you were to throw all the Qur’an printed or hand written into the ocean in less than three days we can compile it again by bringing a few brothers who have memorised it from beginning to end. Among the companions who memorised the Qur’an were Abdullah bin Mas’ud, Abdullah bin Mas’ud, Abu Darda, Mu’adh bin Jabal, Zayd bin Thabit, Abu Zayd, Salim, Ubay bin Ka’ab, the 70 memorisers who were martyred at Bir Ma’unah, Umar bin al-Khattab, Uthman bin Affan, Ali bin Abi Talib, Hudhayfah, Abu Hurayrah, Abdullah al-Sayeb, Abdullah bin Amr bin al-As, Abdullah bin Umar, Abdullah bin al-Zubayr, Abdullah bin Abbas, Ubadah bin Samit, Fuzalah bin Ubayd, Muslimah bin Mukhallad and Mama’ bin Jariyah.[3] Even today this tradition lives on for all to see. There are virtually millions of people today who know the Qur’an from cover to cover by heart. I personally know dozens of fellow students and teachers who have memorised the Qur’an. Imagine if today which is called the ‘information era’ people can still find the time to memorise more than 6000 verses of the Qur’an such a feat would have been less(much less) difficult 1400 years ago especially given the dedication of the early believers to the religion having known the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. himself and all that. The fact that the Qur’an has been memorised time and again via successive chains of transmission throughout the world traced back to the Prophet s.a.w. (this is called isnad) should give us a good picture how carefully the Qur’an has been preserved. This phenomenon is in fulfillment of Allah’s promise in the Qur’an,
    “We have made the Qur’an easy to remember” (54:22)
    Chris Horrie and Peter Chippindale note that,
    “…it has now almost certainly become the most widely read and memorised book in the world.
    …Learning large part of the Qur’an by heart is an important part of Muslim religious devotion and children start memorising it at an early age. In many Muslim countries learning the Qur’an by heart forms the basic curriculum of primary school education. Muslims who memorise its contents in their entirety are given the honourable title al-hafiz.” [4]
     

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